Thursday, January 29, 2015

Getting Real: The Crushing Reality of Lost Dreams

This blog post was written somewhere in the Spring of 2013 and saved for a more appropriate time.  We knew that chances where we would be allowed to adopt the kids.  However, in the midst of weekly visits and the hope of court our kids hearts where not geared toward adoption.

Yesterday I sat in a court room and heard the word "termination" spoken.  We were given a 3 month court date meaning that they are moving towards that.  I watched as BioMom ran her hands through her hair, exasperated.

I came home that night and had my little boy look at me with hope filled eyes and ask, "Did the judge say I could go home?"

"No buddy.  He didn't.  It's not safe at home yet."

Adoption, it's born out of such pain and heartache.  And yet I sit here filled with excitement.  It's like a teeter-totter of emotions.

God has shown us time and time again that these kids where suppose to be in our home.  He reaffirms it in big ways constantly.  I've given up with the "Are you sure God?" because I know he is.  And it excites me that there is a possibility that they will be forever MINE.  It's an amazing feeling.  It's blessing and gift I don't deserve.

However, in that seat sat a mom that deeply loves her children.  She has a desire to be a good mom to them but doesn't have the ability to provide them the home they deserve.  It's heartbreaking.  But I'm also angry at her.  Why didn't she fight for her kids?

And at my kitchen table sits a little boy who would go back to a world that isn't safe in order to be with his parents.  A little boy that longs to go "home".  And some day I'm going to have to look him in those hope filled eyes and crush his dream.

Now, almost two years later and adoption complete I would love to say my children's hearts are completely "sold out" to adoption.  While my children love that they are adopted and have accepted us as parents there is still a part of them that wishes they could go home.  Adoption does not replace desire.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Parenting: Catch Phrases

It seems like parenting has a lot of split second decisions to it.  We are constantly reading our kids behavior to determine is it irresponsible, based on another emotion, or definant or is this their true need or is something else really affecting it. Then there are those times that your kid completely stumps you.

Tony and I have discovered we are very emotional parents.  We tend to reacted with emotions rather then a level head.  This can create a lot of unfairness and disciplines that do not fit the situations. In order to help with this we have learned that we love go-to phrases in our parenting.  These are lines that we can always come back to in helping us with our parenting choices.  Here are a few of our favorites:

Are you asking or are you telling? I have found that sometimes my kids can get very demanding, expecting me to do something.  This typically comes off of very disrespectful.  This simple question either quickly changes to tone to respect or allows a teaching moment of, "If you are telling the answer will always be no. However, you could try that again with asking words."  (Karyn Purvis, Empowered to Connect)

We need to try that agian with respect. As my kids get older I find their tones get a bit more on the disrespect side.  What they are saying is not always bad, but how they are saying it is not ok.  This allows a quick check for them with out completely shutting them off. (Karyn Purvis, Empowered to Connect)

Listen and Obey! This is a quick phrase I can give to my kids.  It serves as a warning and I believe ques their brain (which they need at times).  It also allows Tony and I to know, that if they chose to ignore words after this is given then we are dealing with a defiance issue and not a brain issue. (Karyn Purvis, Empowered to Connect)

Oh my. What a sad choice.  What are you going to do about that? When I discovered that they took markers and drew all over the wall or got into something on the counter that was off limits this allows me to keep my frustration level even.  It also allows them to be both responsible and in control of the mess they've made.  I'm amazed at how much better their attitude is about the problem when I put the ball in their court rather then demand that they fix it (side note: I do expect them to fix the problem)(Love and Logic)

Asked and Answered. There was a great article that was floating around social media sometime this past year.  When a child asks for something, I give them an answer (side note: I need to own my answer and be careful about my "no's".  This is something very hard for me.) If them come up with a "but mom...." I simply say "asked and answered." I then stick with it.  Sometimes my kids will ask for a compromise (another learning curb for myself) and I try hard to accommodate. 

Do (or did) you have any catch phrases as a parent that you loved?  Did you feel it helped to minimize frustration and increase cooperation?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hard Places and Feelings: Sadness

I'm going to start a new series entitled Hard Places and Feelings.  Every other Thursday I will look at a different feeling or struggle that kids from Hard Places face.  I recently have been bombarded with how "normal" our "unnormal" has become.  I make a matter of fact statement about a tough feeling our kiddo is experiencing and the reply is shock.  However, I've also become very aware that the way I deal with my feelings and emotions is not always much better then the way my kids do.  However, my kids are feeling their feelings more often, more severely, and much quicker then I am. 

What does sadness look like?

Sadness is a feeling that kids from hard places feel a lot.  It is probably my kids number 1 feeling.  However, it is often the last feeling they will show.  They hate the feeling of sadness.  It overwhelms them and they suddenly feel out of control.  Control is something kids from hard places desperately need to feel.  There were too many things in their lives they couldn't control.  (Control itself is really a topic for another day).

Instead of sadness we see so many other feelings: disobedience, anger, control, extreme hyberness, goofiness.  Sometimes these emotions come out at really odd times and the feelings seem to be really inappropriate (ie laughing when someone gets hurt).  Many times other emotions are used to mask sadness and often looks nothing like sadness.

How do we uncover sadness?

We have found that it takes us a long time to get to the root of our kiddo's feelings when sadness is involved.  Typically they revert back to the feeling they are showing and want to feel rather then the feeling they are actually feeling.  When a person feels another feeling such as anger, it is typically someone elses problem to deal with (ie the person and thing they are angry at).  However, when a person feels sadness that is problem they must deal with inside their own hearts.  It takes a lot of more work to deal with sadness.  

After 2 1/2 years with our kids we are getting much better at knowing when they are truely sad and not truely angry.  But it is still a lot of work.  Sometimes we are able to say, "you say your angry but what your telling me sounds very sad."  It is a huge victory when our kids are able to get directly to "I feel sad."  Sometimes it takes days and weeks to get to the root, other times it doesn't happen at all.  No matter how long it takes, we typically don't see an improvement in behavior until the true emotion is reached.

How does this relate to me?

I have discovered that as an adult, sad is still hard to feel.  It's gut wrenching.  Recently, something tragic happened in our extended family, stop you in your tracks and change your whole life, tragic.  As Tony walked out of the house to be with family members and I put the kids in front of a movie I chose to do one thing--housework.  I needed, at least temporarily, to not focus on sad.  I felt like if I did the emotion would sweep me over and carry me away.  

Our kids need to see us sad.  They need to see us cry.  They need to hear why we're sad.  They need to see us holding each other or journaling when we feel this way in order to model healthy coping skills.  They need to hear, "I felt so sad when my flowers died because they weren't watered enough."  And if we mask our feelings, they need to see us come back and explain to them what really happened ("I acted really angry when I saw you broke my plate and I yelled at you.  Really I was sad because that was my favorite plate.")  As we show our kids that sad can be felt in a good way they will feel more safe to feel it themselves.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Getting Real: Why Adoption from Foster Care Matters

We were having a conversation about foster care and adoption with a group when this statement was made...

"Yes, but it really adoption really doesn't change that much does it?"

Adoption from foster care changes everything and nothing all at the same time.

In some ways nothing has changed from January 4th to January 5th.  The kids go to the same school, sleep in the same beds, our daily routines and rules all stay the same.  In our every day lives-nothing has changed.

However, at the same time everything has changed.

Legally: Now our kids are considered ours, not the states.  We make the daily decisions for what doctors to go to, if their faces can be shown on social media, and whether they can travel out of state.  They are now legally eligible to be on Tony's insurance, rather then state insurance.  We can call them legally a Snyder.  We are able to choose how to discipline, whether they need a dresser or not, and what water tempature we can bathe them in.  We make all medical, school, and financial decisions.  We no longer have to send school reports to a caseworker (or have her visit on a weekly bases) or figure out what to do about our child's picture in the paper.  It seems like a million and one ways that our lives have changed legally.

Identity: "Mr. Snyder, your mom is here." were the words that came out of the teachers mouth on the 5th.  Snyder. Our kids have received a new identity.  They are officially Snyder's.  When I married Tony I still felt like a Grey.  However, while there was still Grey in me, I legally belonged to the Snyder family.  When I walk into my in-laws house I am one of them, permentantly.  When someone calls my name, that is the family they associate me with.  My kids are the same way.  It's a new identity.  A sense of belonging.

Permancy:  The world between birth family right's being terminatied and adoption happening is like no man's land.  A child has lost their ties to the past. The kids legally become orphaned, with no parents.  They feel that loss.  On adoption day they are told they are offically part of something new.  They are no longer floating around like "a man without a country."  They have a permant place they belong.  There is no threat that they will ever be taken away.

Security: After termination we were going through a rough time with one of our kiddos.  I looked at a fellow mom who had adopted from foster care and said, "You know I don't have to keep this child.  They aren't legally mine. I CAN ask for them to be moved."  All she said was, "Yes you can."  It was so good for my heart and yet so challenging.  In those days, weeks, and months that Tony and I spent hours going "what are we going to do about this child."  We secured in our heart that they are ours.  As much as the challenges they are going through suck, they are ours.  It is our job to walk thro
ugh the hard with them.  It cemented our commitment to them.

Spiritually:  Adoption is a Biblical issue.  Adoption hits on God's heart.  Romans 8:5 states, "The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.'"  That is the heart of adoption.  It makes a permanent, unbreakable bound, just as salvation does for believers.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Goals for 2015

We are well over a week into 2015 (oh my) but I haven't had a chance to share my goals for this year yet.

  • Make lunch for Tony 3 times a week. (My choice)
  • Stay of top of cutting Tony's hair. (My choice)
  • Stay of top of keep Tony's work clothes clean and ironed. (His choice)
  • Transition kids into adoption mode
  • Get each family member the appointments they need
  • Pay off set amount of debt.
  • Keep checkbook and bills up to date (including scanning items into the computer)
  • Loose the last 10-20 lbs to hit goal weight.
  • Stick to Trim Healthy Mama.
  • Exercise 3-4 times a week with Fit 2 Be.
  • Work on anger and negativity through focused prayer and gratitude journal.
  • Prioritize my prayer time each day.
  • Memorize scripture (Beginning with Ephesians 4:1-6, Ephesians 3:14-19, and Philippians 2:14-15)
  • Tony and I take a trip to Ireland this summer.
  • Camp more then 1 time this year.
  • Get and train a dog.
  • Figure out a plan for stream lining life in the kitchen and implementing it (starting with regular meal planning and meal prep).
There you have it.  My goals for the year.  We are still trying to figure out how to implement and fulfill some of these (such as kitchen/meal work and how to stay on top of Tony's things). Others we are already in the works of completing (such as purchasing plane tickets to Ireland and transitioning the kids medically).  I'm excited to see where God takes our family to at the end of the year.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Picture Perfect: Adoption Day

We had so much fun on our adoption day.  We started our day off at a local bakery down the street from the court house. It was fun to have everyone join us.

We were quit the crazy bunch waiting outside the court room. Six kids (two of whom were out of control hyper) and eleven adults.

It was such a fun moment when the judge said, "I grant you your adoption petition, congratulations!" and all our family cheered.

We were so thankful to be surrounded by family on our day. We treasure them and how they have accepted and loved on our children.

On the far left is our kids GAL. Brenda had our case since the very beginning. In the past new GAL's were assigned for the adoption case but a recent change is allowing the GAL's to also participate in the adoption. This was such a sweet surprise to us. Next is our adoption worker who got to handle piles upon piles of official caseworkers.  Our caseworker in standing next to her.  She has worked with our kids for over a year and we are thankful for the many hours of work she put in.  Our lawyer is standing next to Tony. He's a great guy and we were thankful to have him next to us that day.  Also, our judge in the background is incredible.  So much rests upon your judge and we are blessed to have such an incredible one in this county.

Thankful to be officially and forever FAMILY!

P.S. Yes, Big Brother is only 8 and YES he is huge for his age.

Monday, January 5, 2015


We are excited to introduce you to all four of our amazing blessings...

 Big Brother
Our creative, goofy 8 year old.  This kid loves math and art.  He's got a sweet heart that desires to please.  Never in the big brother role before our home, he is working hard to learn what it means.  He loves to play board games and is getting interested in all things sports.

Sweet Pea
This girl is five.  She has got an incredibly tenderhearted.  She is constantly looking for ways to serve others.  She is obsessed with all things writing and is enjoying learning how to read.  She wants to be a momma when she grows up and loves practicing her skills.

Little Man:
Silly, silly, silly is how you describe this five year old.  He loves his order and structure but is always seeking a way to make others laugh.  He loves to be a helper and you often find him right by mom or dad's side working.  He always has a book in his hands.

 Baby Girl
This five year old has earned her nickname of Jumping Bean.  She is very analytical and calculating.  She is so proud of herself when she learns a new skill.  If there is music, she is dancing.  If there is a book being read, she is listening.   

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Year in Review

The three words I would use to describe this past year are growth, stability, and waiting.  Our children have grown, not just physically, but in how they socialize, in what they've learned, in how they deal with their feelings (to name a few).  Tony and I have grown as parents and in our relationship with each other.  And Tony has grown in his job.  It was a stable year.  After several years of BIG changes this one did not hold many.  We had a few things end that helped to stabilize our family (Awana and Tony's School.  We also enjoyed a few changes but still maintained a very stable every day life.  And we waited, and waited, and waited for our adoption.


I celebrated my 26th birthday


We welcomed a new nephew into our family.



Tony celebrated his 26th birthday.


We enjoyed a camping trip to a local camp grounds.
Big Brother and Sweet Pea began t-ball.


Tony graduated.

We celebrated 6 years of marriage.

Swim Lessons for the kids.


Sweet Pea turned 5.
The girls and I took a trip to California for my brother's wedding.


Tony began is new position at CIT Leasing Business Manger.
Big Brother turned 8.
The beginning of school: Big Brother in 2nd, Sweet Pea in kindergarten, and Little Man and Baby Girl in PreK


Little Man and Baby Girl turned 5.


We welcomed another nephew into the family.


We celebrated Thanksgiving with Tony's family


We enjoyed a trip to the Wisconsin Dells.

We said good-bye to a niece.

We celebrated Christmas with Tony's parents, my parents, and our special Bob and Carol.