Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Wright Family Story......(updated and shortened)

How we became a family.....a shortened version :)
 So this is Jason and I back in 2000 our very first of several homestudies that have been updated each several times :)  A visiting camp friend took it for us, and at the time we were in Iowa serving at a Christian Camp.  We had been married 4 years which at the time was the allotted time frame you had to be married to adopt domestically.  Of course God opened our hearts to foster care, and a camping friend that had another friend was fostering this precious little girl from the time she was 5 months until she was 14 months.   They were grand parent age though and wanted to find a great family to adopt her.....
 We just got our foster care license in February 2001 and we just got back from a National Camp Gathering when we got a phone call about a beautiful toddler who would eventually become our Abigail.  Of course there was a possible biological father that stepped in the day of the termination hearing....BUMP....and then we had to pass an interview......BUMP....in which they told us they were interviewing people who had darker skin.....BUMP!  Praise God we were chosen and she came to live with us permanently. 
 This is a day trip to France we took when we flew to England to show off the new grand daughter to Jason's family. 
 In January 2002 after initial BIG BUMP of Andrew not being placed with us until he was 7 1/2 weeks old (he was not with his biological mom it was a political type thing). 
 He then came home to us and we celebrated in a big way later that year Abigail Marie Wright officially joined our family June 19th!!!  Yeah!!!  Of course there were a few more BUMPS in the system as we waited to hear if Andrew would join our family forever or not. 
 But we kept believing, loving, caring, and praying......
 And staring at these 2 precious faces.......and then we found out that year that another little baby would be joining us later..........
 Matthew came to join us at the end of year November 27th he was born :)  He came home with us 2 days later a day after Thanksgiving!!  YEAH!  And we found out that for a gift in 2003 in January 6th we would officially adopt Andrew James Wright!  YEAH!!!!  Another huge blessing.
 Oooops these next two photos are out of order sorry......but these were in 2003 & 2004...of course you can kind of tell because Matthew can't walk in the photo below, but up above he is walking around Silver Dollar City with my parents :)
 So here we were and then at the end of 2003 and after a few more BUMPS.....and bruises we were able to adopt Matthew December 22nd, 2003.  YEAH!!!  Now most people would look at our family as complete....wonderful....cute....one girl two boys......all very squeezable!
 I mean really look at these three charmers! 
 Then in 2004 after moving to Louisiana we took the foster care classes again....I mean there are sooo many children that still need homes and we could help out if only temporarily.  So we signed up leaving our children with volunteers from the camp so we could take the weekly classes. 
 And 2 weeks before our summer staff arrived in May of 2005- Joshua weeks shy of 3 years old and Sarah who had just turned 1 came to us.  Can you see the mischief in their eyes?  Yeah me too.  Our hands were full, we were a lot of times overwhelmed, but we were loving every minute of it!
 Oh yeah, just to make it more fun we had Hurricane Rita blow through our neck of the woods and had to evacuate 4 months after they came here!  You know just to make things more interesting!  he he he he :)   Just to make it more interesting after we returned to find our home with little damage Praising God and getting electricity back.....we had to leave for England.  This was a trip we had been planning well before we knew of our placement of Joshua and Sarah.  In case you are wondering, yes this caused a few setbacks, but in the end we overcame that.  But it broke our hearts to leave them for 2 weeks nonetheless. 
 Then in May 2006 Elizabeth 5 1/5 months came to us.  Now after TOO MANY BUMPS TO COUNT in Joshua, Sarah, and now Elizabeth's case and 2 years later we were still hitting BRICK WALLS EVERYWHERE!!!  Praise God their smiles and love kept our hearts on them and not the world who by then thought we must be out of our right mind. 
 But I mean look at this cuteness!!!  Elizabeth was a doll and by now we really had thought we were getting closer to the end of the journey. 
 Well......that didn't happen.  And instead MORE AND MORE BUMPS  came along.  Did I mention any and everything that could happen in a foster care case did.....on and on......
 And yet again......we couldn't get enough of our crazy life!  And by then you must be thinking they are done- right?  I mean 6 children! 
 Here we are at my younger brother Scott & Amy's wedding day.  We traveled back up to Iowa to share in their special day. 
 FINALLY!!!!!  In March 19th 2008 we were able to adopt Joshua David Wright, Sarah Joy Wright, Elizabeth Anne Wright!!!!!!!!!!!!!  This was a long time coming and believe me it was a time of GREAT rejoicing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  As God would have it this special day came the week of Easter- how perfect! 
 Here we are at the Smokies...enjoying our hiking!  :)  Then the day after the adoption (ok truth be told it may have been a few day before the official day) we sent in our application to All God's Children to do an Ethiopian adoption!  Oh yeah, by this time we were already nuts and just heading down the slope :)
 We were matched with our Hannah Grace within a couple of months of signing up and we weren't finished with our home study yet.  God matched us anyway and we worked like crazy people in the middle of summer our busiest time to get our dossier and homestudy completed!  She had spina bifida and scoliosis....but we didn't see that we saw a perfect baby girl that was meant to be in our arms forever. Whew....we did it....we got a court date for August 4th.....and then Hannah Grace went to be with Jesus July 18th.....  BUMP!!!!

Our beautiful Hannah Grace!  One day we will meet again in heaven, you are our sweet angel and we miss you daily!!
 After getting away from it all on vacation we were matched with this handsome man.  Of course if you know about Ethiopian adoptions you know that the courts in Ethiopia close August September timeish.  We had 3 court dates before we finally passed.  Ethiopia started a new government agency called the Central Agency.  BUMP!!!  So rather than flying in October, November.....
 We flew December 26th, 2009 and met our Jonathan on December 28th....flying home January 2nd. 
 How can you fly to Ethiopia and not be changed forever?  After seeing the beautiful, kind hearted, loving people that are our brothers and sisters. 
 At the Ethiopian dinner night out with our travel group.  By the way for those adopting now you have to make two trips, but back then it was one. 
 Our hotel.....
 Jonathan's family- aren't they beautiful people?  YES!!!!!!  A meeting and day we will never forget!
 The now "old" Hannah's Hope building (our agency's transitional home) for over 60 children needing a home. 
 Just got home....and yes at this time Jonathan still didn't want anything to do with me really.  That has since changed :)
 Later in 2009 at my cousin's home :)
 Our pics for our updated homestudy for our next Ethiopian adoption........or so we thought.  The minute Jonathan had been home 9 months (ok ok a little sooner than that by a couple of weeks) we sent in our second application to All God's Children International
 But this next adoption that should have officially happened at the end of 2009 or at the latest the beginning of 2010 for our Naomi....would never happen.  Thanks to technicalities of the uscis (even though they approved us a year prior?? not that I am bitter or anything).  BIG BUMP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 Then in March we heard about the fact that it is indeed possible to adopt domestically even if you have several children from a blog friend.  We signed up with Christian Adoption Consultants on March 22nd.....we were given a possible situation right away of a little boy who needed a home and we thought this was it.....but BUMP the agency started asking all kinds of accusing questions of our large family and on March 23rd Joanna Faith Wright was being born.  We got a call saying I know you may not be interested, but.....and when we called Mother Goose Adoptions we did it out of - well maybe. 
 By the morning of March 24th it was Deb O'Kane calling us from Mother Goose Adoptions saying she is yours if you want her.....want to fly out today.  Well let's just say after the other agency's hesitancy and our hearts saying "is there a reason not to?"  And well within 24 hours I was on a plane to go meet our Joanna Faith Wright!
(***NOW we work for Christian Adoption Consultants and get to help other families find the sweet little ones missing from their homes!!!!  :)   Want to know more- go click on the tab above!)
 Everyone meeting us at the airport when she was just a little over a week old at Houston's airport.
 Here we are as a family of 10!!!!  Easter morning :)
 And of course here she is.....our little doll! (not the one on the left :) he he he)  Just blame it on my husband's sense of humor :)
And here we are in October 2010!  With GG (my grandma).....and all our precious gifts.  Now if you notice that is 8 children in February 2001- March 2010!  You will also notice my bold print BUMPS in the road.  Lots of them.  BUT the BLESSINGS of our family are sooooo much more than all of those!  I wouldn't trade any tears, any stress, any craziness, any deep dark canyon times, for a single minute with my babes.  They are our world.  They are our ministry!  God has placed each and every one of them in our home.  Not easy, but worth it!

 Then we moved to Florida in 2011, and our story continued through craziness of that move, finding a job, etc.  Somewhere after the process of getting settled in our new home Jason and I heard separately from the Lord about a special needs adoption.  When we both found out that God has laid it on our hearts.....we got moving......

We were homestudy ready for #9 at the end of 2011, and signed on again with Christian Adoption Consultants- with their special needs program (any child over 3, sibling groups, and any child with a known diagnosis). 
 Enter our next miracle......Michael.  His story is hard, hard to hear, hard to even share......but he is a living miracle!  For a full version you can go here.   
 This time the process took a few months and we were thrilled to bring home this little guy who has rocked our world!  Who has challenged every thought I have ever had about - could I parent a child with different needs. 
 Michael's diagnosis I share parts of just to be honest and open.  He has Cerebral Palsy, is HIV +, autism (although not clearly diagnosed mostly because at this point it wouldn't change his therapies), and well.....there is a list, but that doesn't matter anyway!  By the way- he is now undetectable, walking with a walker, and making all kinds of huge changes!!   
 That is how we became this crazy family!  The ones that gets looks and stares ;).  The ones that take up a whole row at church.  The ones that are a walking billboard for adoption- which I love because people it is all about God's testimony! 
 The famous question.......are you going to adopt more children............our answer- we are open to what God has in store!  :)   And that is the updated and shortened version of the Wright Family Story! 

Have questions?  Would love to answer questions on domestic adoption, international adoption, foster care, adoption through disruption, HIV adoption, special needs adoption, sibling group adoption, pretty much any kind of adoption!!  Send me an email wrights@christianadoptionconsultants.com or give me a call 813-360-7368!  I am happy to answer any questions I can!  :)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Saying YES! Meeting the Moore Family! AND RETREAT!

 As you can tell this post is action packed!  So first off- today's pictures are brought to you by The Moore Family!!!!  They are from OK, and are another amazing family with 8 kiddos :).  Hezra and I have been friends for quite some time, and have reached out to each other in support on many occasions.  It has been a BLESSING to call her friend!  Someone you can just text with a prayer and they get it, and are praying!  :) 
 Our kids had a blast together and were instant friends :).  It's fun to play with others who have basically the same number of people in their family as you do!
 So today's post is about saying YES! 
 Saying yes to what you may ask??? 
More specifically- saying YES to our children!! 
 Some of our children that have come from hard places have a harder time with our No's.  It isn't because they think it is fun to "flip their lid" (although as a parent it can certainly feel like it)....it is because it is tougher in general.  Their brains have been rewired by the trauma they have faced or the exposure to alcohol and drugs.  They have a shorter fuse. 
 To some it seems as though they are trying our patience ON PURPOSE and with EVIL INTENT!  I know I have wondered this at times as well!  Why in the world are you acting like this?  UGH!  Don't  you understand that is my "button"......ummm.....exactly. 
 One way to help our kiddos with the many No's we have to give them in their lifetime.  Is to first think about how and when we say no.  As well as how and when we say yes. 
 OK- running with scissors- we have no choice in the matter we must say NO!  We must do it quickly, and we have to protect our child.  You scoop the scissors out of their hands and say no.  You may give some further correction of how we walk with the scissors pointing down by their sides.  We explain that it is for their safety.  All of that is good and well, but you know what- they still hear NO!  And we probably yelled it at them because we were taken back and worried about our baby! 

 How about that time when they asked for a second cookie, but you didn't have enough to give everyone a second cookie, you are going to sneak those cookies later for yourself, it has been a long day, and you snap out another NO!  HEY, I have been there.  Don't apologize to me!!  BUT it is a another no.  I mean you did give them one cookie that should be a treat enough- right? 

 Have you ever counted how many times a day you say no?  I am guessing if you are a normal parent- it is a LOT! 

AND IT IS NOT WRONG!  You aren't doing something wrong by saying no. 
 So my next question is......how do you say no?  Is it with a mean face?  Is it with a strict tone of voice?  Is it with the intent to tell your child- bug off?  (AGAIN- no condemnation because I AM TALKING TO MYSELF HERE!)  After all as parents we are to keep our children from hitting, kicking, biting, being rude to you or others, not eating too much junk food, not hurting themselves.....it is exhausting! 

Now, think about your child.  The one who has a hard time hearing soooo many no's (for good reason or not).  Think about how hard it is to feel like the only thing you say is no.  Worse yet- you may say no with a stern look.  Which from their point of view might as well be a big you are a loser NO :(  This thought breaks my heart!!!!  I don't want to be mean to my kiddos.  I love them!  I don't want them to see my face and think- meanie. 
 Do I have to love and protect- YES YES YES!  Do I have to correct?  AMEN!  Do I have to be mean about it?  NO! 

I dare you - go look in the mirror and think of a scenario that happens daily in your home.  Now picture yourself looking at your child and saying no.  Go ahead- no one is looking....I don't have spy cameras in your home people ;).  Although that sounds fun! 

What did you see?  Was it a bit scary?  What do your kids think of your face when you look like that?  I dare you to ask them!  Because the other thing is what does or doesn't seem scary to an adult can be a world away from what their child sees. 
 So on the flip side what can you do?  I mean you have to say no right?  YES you do.  How can you say it without saying it?  Here are some ways to help your child take it easier.  Let's say your child says- mommy I would love to have a pink pony for my birthday.  If you are like me- you may say....ummm Hello NO!  (sarcasm would be included people). 

OK so how about we try that a little differently?  Mommy can I have a pink pony?  Well that sounds like a fun thing to have!  Wouldn't that be cool if there were pink ponies?  I think we should go draw one right now!  You know it is a bummer, but God didn't make any pink ponies.....  Awww.....isn't that too bad?  As much as I would love to have a pony, our yard isn't really big enough because ponies need lots of room to play and run too.  I love this idea though.  .........

Pretty big difference isn't there?  The first reaction is short and sweet and to the point.  The second takes time, takes creativity, and there may be some disappointment as well......but easier to handle when it isn't an outright NO! 
 On the other hand- how and when do we say YES?  How many times a day do you think you say  YES? 
 How many more times do you say NO than YES?  Yep, me too.  This is something we are working on though. 
 Awwww......sweet boy was very very very tired!  I am sooo thankful we said YES to him!  :)
 So how can we say YES more?  I think this is something that has to come from you, your lifestyle, what your likes and dislikes are.  Whatever you do- figure it out!!!!! 
 Karyn Purvis talks about being the bubble gum queen.  She brings the big bucket o gum with her.  Anytime the child asks for a piece of gum respectfully - she gives it to them.  ANY TIME! 

**Side note if your kiddos have sensory issues this is a huge help as well!!!  The Chewing is very helpful!!  Trust me ;). 
 In our home we  have implemented this - with sugarless gum instead (not that I am worried....it was what we had already in the home).  We have a minty flavor and a fruity flavor.  Any time our kids ask for it- they can have a piece. 

Yes, but what if they ask about having a piece right before dinner or right before bed......well then we say- you can have a piece....do you want to set it on the counter while you take your nap, and as soon as you get up you can have it? 
 THE KIDS LOVE IT!!!!!!   It is a treat we don't normally give our kids.  And we have and will go through lots of gum.  But at the end of the day- is it that big of a deal??  NO!  I mean- YES!  It is a big deal to them!!!!!!!  It gives them a sense of YES!  Which helps them accept no easier.  No easy or completely, but easier! 

It builds their trust in us to say YES!  Mommy may not say yes all the time, but she is willing to many many many times! 
 As we have just started this at the beginning of the week....I am thinking our kids have started- yes just started to gain more trust.  Trust that we will say yes! 
 So what can you say yes too?  5 minutes on a mini trampoline?  reading a book to them or with them?  playing with them for 10 minutes?  a gummy bear?  playing in the rain?  going on a walk with them? 

It takes time and energy!  It is not easy!  BUT WOW!!  Think of what could happen if our children could gain more trust in you by saying yes to a piece of gum?  Or could understand that you aren't saying now with a mean spirit in your heart?  Or no mean looks on your face? 
 How would this change your relationship with your child?  How could this change you? 
 As for us- this is one of many steps we are implementing to meet our children's needs.  If it takes a million pieces of gum to help them realize we are saying yes to them- AWESOME!  I am great with that! 
 **In case you are wondering- yep it rained on us when we met up at a local park!  But, ummm.....didn't really slow the kiddos down at all :). 
 In fact - they danced in the rain :)!!!!!! 
 WE had so much fun!! 
 We had a wonderful day!! 
 Wonderful memories......
 Wonderful new friends.......
and we hated saying goodbye.....  :(  LOVE YOU ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes that is right I said RETREAT!  Coming soon here in Florida :). 

Registration for the 2013 Women's Retreat is only open until AUGUST 1ST!!!! This retreat is for adoptive and foster moms and any women in their lives that want to support them on their journey. Please make sure you turn in your registration forms soon! A $50 deposit will hold your place and the balance will be due by August 1st. Our weekend is packed with uplifting and fun things to do. You will return to your families very refreshed and renewed. What a wonderful gift for them as well as you!

Friday Night
5:30-6 Registration
6-6:45 Dinner
7:00-8:30 Session 1 and worship
9:00-10:30 Movie Night
8:00-9:00 Breakfast
9:00-10:30 Breakout Session #1
10:30-11:30 Date with God
11:30-12:30 Lunch
12:30-2:00 Breakout Session #2
2:00-5:00 Free Time
5:30-6:30 Supper on the Beach
6:30-8:00 Session 3 and worship
8:00-10:00 PJ Party Panel and Dessert
8:00-9:00 Breakfast
9:00-10:30 Service and worship

Loving God’s Children Women’s Retreat 
This retreat is for adoptive and foster moms, any woman interested in adoption or fostering, and the women that support these families.
When:  September 13-15, 2013
Where:  Little Harbor Resort, Ruskin, Florida
Registration fee:  $150 (checks payable to Loving God’s Children)
Room Rate: $75/night Standard Room (two double beds)
$92/night Jr Queen Suite (two queen beds and kitchen)
The registration includes meals beginning with Friday dinner to Sunday breakfast, snacks, sodas, retreat materials, and goodie bag.  Rooms can be split 4 ways to lighten the cost and are booked separately through the resort.
Sorry, no children or spouses are invited to attend.  This event is just for ladies.
For more information- CONTACT :)
Gretchen Sloan
Loving God's Children, Inc.
Founder/Executive Director