Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Eight Weeks Home

“My friends, adoption is redemption. It’s costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous. Buying back lives costs so much. When God set out to redeem us, it killed Him.” – Derek Loux

(To see regular updates of our boys, friend me on Facebook Here)

I’ve been wanting to write a blog update to let everyone know how our three recently adopted boys are doing, but I haven’t had much to write…..so I guess that means all is going well and we’ve settled into a routine! We’ve effectively taught all of our children how to NOT be morning people and how great it feels to go back to sleep after you wake up at 6 AM to go to the bathroom! So this is our #1 accomplishment, lol! And we’ve also convinced them that they don’t need to eat overwhelming portions of food because yes, there will be another meal coming up in just a few hours! The two oldest (10 and 13) are swimming without life jackets now—only three weeks after being home (And exactly one week after I purchased really great, high quality life jackets!) And they all know the routine of cleaning up their rooms, brushing teeth, making beds, etc…. We had expected the first 6 months to be unbearably difficult with three new boys, and for the first year to be pretty rough.......but honestly, only the first two weeks were unbearable (and we had seriously regretted adopting all three!) Since then, things have been getting easier and easier and the boys are adapting amazingly well to our family life. In fact, if I wasn’t so in love with home schooling, and didn’t have the conflicting feelings inside of me as to “how on earth will I home school all seven kids when Benjamin clearly has a significant learning disability) then I’d say our family was 90% settled. But the home school issue is what has me concerned right now. I LOVE home schooling…..and I know that I can home school everyone but Benjamin and Josiah pretty easily…..but I’m not sure exactly what to do about those two, so………..
 
   First Day Out of Orphanage         8 Weeks Later (David says he thinks Benji wore flip flops all the time at the orphanage...lol)
So, our boys have been out of their orphanages for eight weeks now and things are so much better than in the beginning. They are all so sweet and affectionate. Steven, (13) is always looking out for me—when I’m cooking he will come and give me a back massage, or if he sees me carrying something he will take it from me and say, “No, Mommy…let me.” He asks me if I’m tired and if I say yes he will tell me, “No work today…no clean the kitchen….Steven clean the kitchen, ok Mommy?” Yesterday I was skimming the leaves out of the pool and he grabbed the pole and said, “No Mommy….not for girls…..I do it….please Mommy.” I literally have to convince him that I’m not tired so that he will go play and let me work. This morning I sent the kids out to play together and I started cleaning the kitchen and Steven came up and grabbed the rag from me and said, “No, Mommy, no clean….tired.” And I told him, “No, it’s ok….I’m not tired.” And he said, “Oh, not tired? Ok, Mommy…clean.” Lol He’s also very helpful and loving with the younger children. He helps his younger brothers with just about everything—from cleaning up their room to taking a shower! So he is my poster child for adopting an older boy….I can’t guarantee that they’re all this sweet….but God really blessed us with this guy! And everyone who meets him is just touched by his heart and they fall in love with him (And a couple of people have even asked to keep him! Lol)  He's communicating exceptionally well and today even explained to us what the routine was like in his orphanage.  He also is quite a character and loves to tease and make people laugh.  Today he went on and on about how I was looking all over for my phone and it was actually on the table right in front of me!  And at the pool when I told him to get his shoes on before going into the house, he started laughing and showed me his flip flop clad feet, and said, "What's a matter, Mommy?  Problem with vision??"  One of the most touching things is that he is SO appreciative of having a mother.  He thanks God all the time and he thanks me also....but I think I'm the one who should be thanking him!

                             First Day Out of Orphanage                                                          Eight Weeks Later

Last week, as we drove to PA to visit family and to pick up a vehicle that our church so generously blessed us with, we saw our kids really starting to mesh as siblings, and it’s been such a relief to witness. The first few weeks there seemed to be so much tension between them that I was seriously wondering if we had made the right decision in adopting seven children all somewhat close in age. Our original four were very disillusioned at the whole thing—the new kids were a lot of “work” and absolutely no fun!!! The new boys were so attention demanding that we didn’t know how we would meet anyone’s needs. But thankfully, they are slowly learning how to meet some of their own needs and to meet each other’s needs as well. And they are also slowly learning how to entertain themselves. They now truly seem to like one another and they are having fun together. Josiah and Benjamin still need practice playing meaningfully with other children…but I’ve been forcing them to stay with the children and play rather than follow me around aimlessly.


Little Josiah (6) gets his heart catheterization this Friday. This test will determine how much damage has been done to his pulmonary arteries because of his heart defect. After this, doctors will tell us if he’s strong enough to have his cleft palate/lip surgeries and his hernia surgery, and ear surgery (he has one missing ear canal and the other ear needs tubes and doesn't hear very well)  They’ll also know if he’s a candidate for heart surgery…..so we are praying for a good report. Please pray for him that all goes well, as even this small test is a risky surgery for someone with a heart defect…but it’s the only way doctors will know how much they can help him.  And we are trusting God with his life and his future!  He is just the sweetest thing ever..but don't be deceived....he's also a little fire ball and a comedian!  He is constantly doing goofy things to make us all laugh (we never saw that when we visited him in his orphanage...he was so reserved!) And he doesn't let the bigger kids push him around!!  Funny thing is, that even though he mainly only speaks in vowels, almost everyone in our family can understand him now!

Josiah had his dentist appointment last week and I was right….no one had ever taken a toothbrush to his teeth….ever!   His mouth is filled with cavities and he will need to go under anesthesia to get all his fillings/crowns. I had my suspicions when I first brushed his teeth in Bulgaria and he looked at me with shock and horror in his face and was gagging all over the place! Fortunately, the dentist is part of the craniofacial team so they will schedule to have his work done when he (hopefully) has the palate/lip surgery.

           First Day Out of Orphanage         8 Weeks Later (Dr. says belly distended due to reversed organs & short stature) After the dentist saw him, the speech therapist, also part of the craniofacial team, came in and evaluated him and worked with him a little bit, and after that mini session, he can now make the “P” sound….if he holds his nose! I’ve been trying to get him to make it, with no success, but obviously these people know what they’re doing, so we should start to see improvement in his speech soon. Right now he mainly only makes vowel sounds and a couple of consonants like M and N and L (And I taught him N and L since being back from Bulgaria!)

                               Fourth of July!!
The boys rarely, if ever, speak Bulgarian anymore and they even have an aversion to speaking it. Yesterday, Luke (non-Bulgarian) said something in Bulgarian and Steven rebuked him. He said, “Luke…English…this is America. Bulgarian in Bulgaria….English in America!” Luke replied, “I like saying words in Bulgarian.” So Steven, waving his hands away from him in disgust, replied, “Ok, go to Bulgaria then!!!” Benjamin likes to tease people and tell them, “You’re Bulgarian…..I’m American!” My family could not believe how well the boys communicate. But a lot of our communication is still done by demonstrating and gesturing. My adult daughter told me she wouldn’t want to go against me in a game of charades, since I’m such an expert at explaining things with hand motions now!

                   We made the newspaper! lol
Some of you will remember the crazy behavior problems Benjamin exhibited those first few days out of the orphanage. We thought he was mentally ill or demon possessed! And the very first day on American soil, we had my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, and my parents all come to our house late at night and lay hands on him and pray over him….for deliverance, peace, healing, love, joy, etc. I know that God has his hand upon him and all of our children…..years ago God promised us that all of our children would be taught of Him and that great would be their peace (read about this story in one of our last posts). Benjamin is a completely different boy today. He got one spanking early on…..I know many people are 100% against spanking but we believe that if used in the right context, and from loving, encouraging, not angry parents….it can be an effective tool….and for him it was nothing short of miraculous. Those first few days home all he liked to do was bother and antagonize the other children. It was all he knew from his orphanage. So one night he kept touching and smacking Gracie’s and Sara’s rear ends and just laughing like crazy because he thought it was funny how upset they were getting. Norman warned him several times to stop, and explained clearly to him not to touch girls on the rear end, but at that point he had no respect for Norman (or for anyone for that matter) so he just kept doing it. So Norman took him aside and spanked him on the rear end……Boy, was Benjamin shocked!! He threw a fit of incredulous tears and howled and complained that Norman spanked him and that he wanted to go back to Bulgaria. But do you know what? He went to bed that night and woke up a different boy. Now when we told him to do or not to do something, he obeyed. It wasn’t that he was “afraid” of us (like some people would falsely assume). It was that he was beginning to understand respect….there was none of that in his orphanage and the children ran around wild so much of the time. Today, Benjamin is very obedient and concerned with justice….he is always coming to report to us who is doing what wrong and who has badly treated someone else, etc. He is also particularly close to Norman. He likes men in general and will still go up to a man at times and give him a hug (though we’ve really been working on that with him). The first thing he asks me in the morning when he gets out of bed is, “Where is Daddy?” And throughout the day, if he hasn’t seen Norman for a while, he will ask me again where he is.


It does not cease to amaze me how God brings children into our family who have such a heart for him. That’s what happened with our sibling group of three we adopted in 2011—they just soaked up the word of God and wholeheartedly fell in love with the Lord. And now we see it happening with our Bulgarian boys as well. They all want to pray at dinner time or when someone is sick, and it’s so sweet to see all the things they thank God for. They love to sing and they have learned a few Bible verses through songs—I know they don’t fully understand what they are saying yet, but their hearts are definitely soft toward the things of God.


You know, I’m so used to our boys that I don’t even really know what is “normal” anymore. I go in public and forget that to others, a couple of my kids act “different” from other kids. Benjamin went up to a family at the beach and started talking to them, and I called him back to me, and the mom said, “Oh, that’s ok. I have a special needs child too.” And I thought to myself, “Oh, I guess he comes across as having special needs….I forgot about that.” I had written in an earlier post that Steven was exhibiting some very infantile behaviors and seemed to have autistic tendencies at times, but the longer he is with us, the less we see those…..we believe a lot of his awkwardness has to do with his severe visual disability. I can’t wait until August 5th when he finally gets to see the pediatric ophthalmologist and we find out what can be done to improve his sight…..short of a miracle from God, which we pray over him regularly.

One of the most therapeutic things for our boys, that I believe has played a tremendous role in how well they are adjusting, is our swimming pool! The Lord knew, when we bought this house in 2001, how important this pool would be one day. We are out there every day that weather permits (and even when weather doesn’t permit....because, if you haven't noticed, it rains ALL THE TIME now in Georgia!!) and sometimes we're out there for several hours! The boys love the water and I’m watching them become more and more coordinated and less awkward. That they learned to swim so quickly when they are so skinny was a big surprise to me. I’d recommend getting even a cheap above ground pool to any family adopting children from an orphanage.

You might be reading this and thinking, “What lovely people Norman and Lisa are to be able to care for and love these children.” But we would have to admit to you that we do not have the natural patience or dispositions to be mom and dad to all of these kids. I’m ashamed to admit that but it’s true. I mean, David is easy because we adopted him as a baby—the bond was so quick and easy to establish and it runs DEEP! But with all of the other children we’ve adopted, it took commitment and lots of seeking God and lots of asking God for forgiveness for screwing up. Lots of “God, why did I adopt these children when I can’t tolerate hearing ‘Mommy, Mommy, Mommy’ all day long?” “Why did I adopt them when I just want to be alone and not hear voices of little kids constantly asking me for stuff!??” And I think, “Why can’t I be one of those super sweet, super lovey-dovey moms who loves children hanging all over her all the time?” But then I remind myself that I can only do this job well when I am connected to the VINE—the Lord Jesus, who died so I could have new life in him. He asks us to care for the least of these and doesn’t say, “If, of course, it fits in with your human nature.” Blah!!! Screw human nature. I want to be redeemed of my human nature! My “personality” must be transformed, and when I fail or snap at my kids for demanding my constant attention, I must repent and seek after the One who saved me and who can also transform and renew my mind and my human nature. So, I may not be “naturally” cut out for this whole adopting older kids thing (is anyone??) but I love the Lord with all my heart and he LOVES these children and so we have poured our hearts into loving them along with Him. And I’m so thankful that these children have such sweet spirits and are so quick to forgive me when I mess up!

                       Needing a Lot of Grace!!
Well, that’s the long and short of new family life in the Garcia household. To keep up with little things from day to day, feel free to friend me on Facebook (link above). Thanks for loving our boys and praying for them. Let me leave you with an incredibly sweet girl I learned about last night, who needs a family….she looks like a beautiful girl, inside and out.

(WACAP is currently seeking a family for "Joanne" - an outgoing 12-year-old girl in Africa with a radiant smile who takes good care of herself. Sadly, Joanne's birth parents are both deceased. She dropped out of school when her mother died but since she came into care she’s been very attentive in her tutorial class. Joanne’s health history includes a blood disorder. Before she was placed in the orphanage, Joanne attended church regularly, and is involved in the church activities at the care facility too. The organization currently caring for her requires that her adoptive family submit a statement of Christian faith and a letter from their pastor. Please help us find the right family for this wonderful girl by sharing this post! There is a $7,000 WACAP Promise Child Grant available to assist with Joanne's adoption for families who qualify. Married couples and single women may apply for this adoption. Interested families should contact WACAP Family Finders at 1-800-732-1887 or FamilyFinders@wacap.org.)
And here’s a picture of a little boy from our Benjamin’s orphanage (maybe the poorest orphanage in all of Bulgaria). He has a family coming for him, along with a little girl who is blind.  They are raising funds right now to bring these two children home.

Please consider helping them by visiting their blog HERE.

And here’s another boy from Benjamin's orphanage.....a family is coming for him also, and they are currently raising funds to bring him home.

Here’s their donation link:

Finally, here's another sweet boy from Bulgaria….he is one we were also considering adopting last year when we were making the decision of which children to commit to. There is a family raising funds now to adopt him, along with another little girl with special needs.

You can donate towards his adoption by clicking Here:

Please consider helping one or all of these families get these precious children home!  If you have any questions about adoption, feel free to contact us any time!!
Blessings!!
Lisa and Norman

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