Monday, July 18, 2011

I'm Back! :)

I know, I know!  I left all of you hanging and for that I am very sorry!  The last couple of weeks have been VERY busy and often very stressful and overwhelming.  I had a lot of growing to do and the Lord is still working hard at teaching me. 

The past three weeks have been by far the most challenging weeks of parenting in my life.  Now, remember that at one point I had four little girls under the age of four, two with special needs, and my husband was an over-the-road truck driver and not home except for on the weekends and then he needed to catch up from lack of sleep and pre-sleep for the week ahead. :)  To give you an idea of what the past few weeks have looked like without giving you the WHOLE story (which I promise I will give you piece by piece or post by post!), here are some pictures. 
We had SOME of this:

A LOT of this:

And very LITTLE of that

Adoption is not a decision that one can just make because is seems like a good thing to do.  Although, it is a wonderful thing to do.  There are 147 million orphans worldwide, it is something we MUST do if the Lord calls us to it.  However, during the entire process, there were many times, when I wanted to bail out!  It is a constant roller coaster ride.  And after the adoption is complete, the real challenges only begin.  We knew that this would be the case, but there was not really anything we could do to prepare ourselves for the time after.  Sure we read parenting an adopted child/special needs child books and many blogs of other families who adopted.  We asked lots of question and did a LOT of research.  But no one could tell me how Eliisa would handle the change in her environment.  No one could tell me how the sedatives would work their way out of her body.  No one could prepare me for the constant crying, screaming, head banging, biting, etc. she would have.  Especially, no one could have known that it would be an every day battle just to get her to sleep at nights. 

Was it all worth it?  ABSOLUTELY!  When we do the Lord's will, it does not always immediately "feel" like it was worth it.  I am sure Noah asked many times during the years of building the ark and being ridiculed if it would be worth it.  I am sure Moses wondered in the 40 years of wandering through the wilderness if it was worth it.  I won't say that there aren't times when I asked the Lord if He didn't make a mistake by making me Eliisa's mama.  Every day I go to bed feeling like a failure.  I don't know how to help her cope or how to let her know how much we love her and want what's best for her.  I am, however, absolutely sure that He gave us Eliisa and that He has a very special plan for her life and ours.  Every day, I am learning something knew about her and every day, the Lord is teaching me new lessons about Himself and my adoption in Him. 

I know that when Jesus died on the cross for my sins, He never once wavered at His calling to die for my sin.  Yes, He asked the Lord to find another way to save all mankind from their sins so He would not have to suffer, but He was ready and willing to pay my price without wavering.  God in His infinite wisdom also knew that after our adoption, we would still have a hard time obeying and doing His will and how much more we would hurt Him.  Yet, He did it anyway. When I stop and think about how hard it is to teach a five-year-old, who has never been taught how to obey, how to be thankful, how to be kind to others, how to be careful when there is danger, how to accept the word "no," how to share, how to act in any situation, how to make good choices, how to be patient, etc., then I have to think about myself and my life since I have been saved.  I have behaved far worse towards my heavenly Father than Eliisa will ever come close to. In the past thirty years, the Lord has been VERY patient with me.  He has continued to correct me when I have failed; He has picked me up when I got hurt or fell out of pure stubbornness to do it my own way; He has walked by my side even when I was kicking and screaming because I didn't want to go His way; He was ALWAYS there for me when I was ready to come back to Him; He was ALWAYS ready to forgive me even before I asked Him for forgiveness; and most amazingly of all He has loved me through all of the pain that I have given Him.  Best of all, He is NOT finished with me yet.  :) 

We have had some good times, but we have also had some very rough times.  Every day we can discover something new that Eliisa has learned since coming home.  Every day, we can catch a glimpse of that beautiful little girl that is hiding underneath all of that anger and crying.  Every day, we are thankful that the Lord allowed her to come into our lives.  Right now, we are struggling the most with Eliisa still having a VERY hard time going to sleep at night and most days refusing to take a nap, so by the time it is finally quiet in the house, I am emotionally and physically completely spent.  Not only does she keep herself awake, she keeps the rest of the house awake as well with all the screaming and crying.  I have tried every trick in the book that I know, but without success so far.  Unfortunately, because she has hydrocephalus and cerebral palsy, our pediatrician does not recommend Melatonin due to a risk for seizures, so that trick is also a "no go."  I'd like to know what they did to put her to sleep every day for naps and night time when she was in the orphanage because I know that they would not tolerate anyone falling out of line there.  We would really appreciate your prayers for that.  I bought a hammock type chair specifically designed for autistic children that she and I can both sit in and rock.  Once I get it hung, I will try that along with a warm cup of milk at nights to help her relax before bed time and to give her some one on one mama time.  I will let you know how that goes.  :)  Over the next few days or weeks, I will fill you in on all of the happenings that Eliisa has experienced so far as well as her doctor's appointments.  Thanks for not giving up on this blog and us!!! 


  1. I know pictures don't tell the whole stay but it is great to see a smile on that precious girl's face...

    My heart aches for you and your daughter right now. I wish I had some helpful advice to share but all I can say is: "The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it."

    Praying for you guys!

  2. I too will be praying and asking my Bible study to pray as well. Sometimes it's so hard to walk out the calls on our lives, but God is so near to those who are hurting and those who have young ones. I pray that you have a measure of new strength and peace knowing all the people who will begin praying along with you in these specific areas of need. {{{HUGS}}}

    ~Amy Peterson

  3. I don't think it's possible to teach Eliisa "how to obey, how to be thankful, how to be kind to others, how to be careful when there is danger, how to accept the word "no," how to share, how to act in any situation, how to make good choices, how to be patient"... like you would teach a typical 5 year old. She is simply not age 5. Only in years. I believe you're going to need to treat her the things she's capable of learning and things that are age appropriate for where she actually is. She really is much like an infant in so many ways. Perhaps you could do the same things you did with your other daughters when they were able to understand. I think the swing is a wonderful idea! That will help her bond with you and also offer her body some support during times when she needs to be "held" and you can't because you're busy. I would suggest using some Lavender products, like lotions, body washes to induce relaxation and "hopefully" Sleep. : ) I have found an herbal tea that has helped me sleep and also relaxes me when I'm feeling wound up. The name of it is "Traditional Medicinals* - Organic Chamomile with Lavender". {Eases Tension, Stress and Nervous Stomach}. It is caffeine free. I ordered it on Amaz*n. I add a little honey for sweetening. I know they give the children warm tea in the orphanages. There is nothing in it that would be harmful for her CP. I will definitely say some Prayers for all of you. It has to be tough for everyone. If I lived near you, I would be there in a second to help and give you some relief.
    Lots of Love in Him ~ Jo

  4. God bless you and keep updating us, your readers when it works for you. In the meantime, take one day at a time and breathe and pray. I will be praying for you as you journey forth.

    God has got your back...even when it seems crazy.

    Much love,

    a reader in Los Angeles

  5. Thank you so much for letting us know how it was going. I was just wondering how ya'll were doing. I wish I knew the answer for the sleep problem..... Don't worry about us take a min for yourself.

  6. I started crying when I got to the part about you feeling like a failure. Corrie, you are NOT failing. Quite the contrary. You are doing everything you can think of to LOVE this little girl (and your other girls as well). There is no failure in love. Love NEVER fails! Please call me if you need to talk or just need to cry with someone who understands. We're not dealing with everything you are, but much is the same. Try to take a break too. Jon let me leave on Saturday for a few hours and I was so refreshed when I came home. I can't stress that enough. Even just 30 minutes of quiet on your deck or something will do wonders. Love and hugs to you.

  7. if you call, I will be there. Love you.

  8. I just have to say- you've taken on an incredibly huge mission- but God will never bring you to the river without providing a way to get through it.

    Here's a couple of thoughts- from a substance abuse perspective (in addition to being a therapeutic foster parent, I'm also a social worker in a substance abuse/mental health treatment facility), depending on what she was drugged with in U, she may need hospital supervised detox. Detox from some drugs can actually cause physical dangers. She may be in actual pain at times as her body heals from the drugging. As for what the orphanage did to get her to sleep and nap, well, meds aren't always the answer but unfortunately they often are in orphanages.

  9. From an autism/sensory perspective- Have you read the Out-of-Sync Child books? If not, they are worth it. Sometimes, if she is getting overstim'd in the daytime (which would take very little for an institutionalized child suddenly thrust into the USA lol), she will not be able to calm for nap/sleep. We went through that with a foster child who had been extremely deprived and had autism/SPD.

    So here's what worked for us, if you want to try it feel free. It took about a week or two to "train" the sleep to come. First, about 1.5 hrs before nap and bed, we came inside and put on sleeper-feet pjs (lightweight for summer and fleece for winter)and watched the exact same Veggie Tale movie- nothing new, just something we played each time. It was like the "Pavlov's bell" for pre-sleep cues. The whole point is that it becomes monotonous to them. When I put on the video, I also provided something very bland and boring to eat- something with a good blend of carbs and protein to fill the body and bring about sleepiness (like a grilled cheese sandwich), plus some milk with its nice sleepy hormones. I turned down the lights so just sunlight comes in. No backrubs, no human contact- just some "withdrawing, low stim" time (hence the footed pj's- which impair sensory perception and insulate the child from overstimming). When video and food are over, we head to the bedroom, where it is very simple- put on the Suzuki violin CD (or any classical music- no words), set it on "repeat play", tuck the child in with minimal fuss, close the blinds and pull the door shut. It helps if you do the exact same routine, no deviations, each time. I also always ended it with a "love you" and "Smooch" noise when I shut the door. Then try to keep the house quiet for the first few weeks during nap, so they get the "drift" of sleeping and don't think they're missing out. After 21 days, they'll be in the groove of the nap and may even do it automatically and then you can start making noises again.

  10. The biggest thing that worked for us was keeping to a set routine and realizing that when he cried, threw fits, etc it was him telling us he was overstimmed. We would immediately pull him out and get him in a low stim environment/activity and wait for him to regulate. Once he did, we were good to go.

    It was so hard- I just wanted to cuddle him, hug him, love on him- but it was not good for him then. After a few months, we were able to work more of that in, but it was a year before he was able to transition and go to sleep easily.

    My heart breaks for you- it's the hardest thing in the planet, to see them so wound up and not know what to do to fix it and to start to feel wound up yourself because of the stress. If you ever need to talk or vent, shoot me an email and I'll give you my cell #. That year was one of the toughest of my life- the helplessness, the hopelessness, the fatigue! but it got better so quickly once we learned how to work with a SPD kid.

  11. Corrie, the tea that Jo posted about can be found @ Kroger. Just picked up a Detox tea for Matt a few minutes ago & I remember seeing the one she mentioned on the shelf. It's funny how I looked through all those teas & then came home & saw the post on here. (I've never read anyone's comments before right now.) I thank Renee for her nap/bedtime post. I am going to try that w/ Marek. We know he has sensory modulation issues and I think this may be a good way to get him to sleep @ night. It meets a lot of his criteria. You are in our prayers always. Please know that you have been such an encouragement to us & so many others.

  12. Ha! I figured out to get on here! I like the way you put up all those pics. :) we love you all! You are such a wonderful mommy, you can totally do this!

  13. Having hydrocephalus, I would guess that laying down causes an increase in intracranial pressure that is excruciatingly painful. My son has spina bifida & has a shunt, but before he got his shunt, he would barely sleep & would scream in pain throughout the night.

    Until you go to see the neurosurgeon, my advice would be to let Eliisa sleep sitting up. Put her in a car seat & let her sleep like that. Or hold her in a semi-sitting position against you in a recliner-type chair so that her head is higher than her body. It may help her enough to allow her to sleep.