Monday, November 30, 2015

Doubly Loved {A Post About Older Adopted Kids}

It may be CyberMonday, but it’s STILL November, Adoption month— and I am determined to say something so here I am, slipping in at the last hour.  It’s a big deal- this adoption thing.  Memories of finally holding long-awaited babies are some of the sweetest I have. Those days of dreams fulfilled will NEVER lose their magic on me.  Jeff and I love to tell Julia and Brighton about those days.  There’s hardly any of our other family stories that can beat the telling of when we first saw them, held them and kissed their tiny faces.

As Julia and Brighton have gotten older and as I have wondered about how to handle certain things specific to their personal story, I have found there is very little writing on older adopted children.  First, let me say, I am NOT the one to do it.  Not at this stage anyway.  Hearts and questions are too tender and both of my kiddos’ birth moms know about this blog so I’d never want to write anything to cause those sweet ladies anxiety or confusion.  However, I do feel I can share some “generic” thoughts on what I am finding out to be true when you add an adoption piece to a middle school/junior high puzzle.

Each year, I print out a book of this blog with all the pictures and it has to have a name, something on the cover, one that sums up the year for me. I had some trouble with it this year because I could only come up with dumb stuff like, The Year that FLEW BY or TEENAGER IN THE HOUSE, or Where Did the Time Go or Why Did I Ever Think I Had Control or, my favorite, Let It Go.  Ha!  Never.  {I’ve only seen the movie once.}  And I didn’t want it to be entirely negative so this morning I typed “Never Could I Have Imagined”- trying to express a double meaning.  There have been wonderful, surprising things that have happened— a year full of blessing, but also things I never expected, like so many inches added to both of my kids, questions I was NOT prepared to answer,  how much they changed from last year’s picture, conversations that I didn’t know we were quite ready for but apparently we were and how my heart could ache with such joy AND as much hurt.  All you parents before me know exactly what I am talking about, but me?  I am just starting to learn it.  And I thank God for all of it because in it, He’s making us all more like Him.  {Just don’t ask me about that at midnight after one of those conversations I wasn’t expecting.  I am only thankful when I am well rested. Wink.}

I think these years my kids are in currently is naturally a time for wondering about many things personal— Do I measure up?  Does everyone like me?  Am I pretty or handsome?  Do I have what it takes?  Why are my parents being unfair?  Did I really need consequences for that?  Did I choose the right outfit?  Why is it again my birthparents placed me for adoption?  Bam.  It’s all a tangled mess—- adoption questions right after should I wear these shoes or these boots?   We’ve told them their stories from the beginning— as much as we thought wise— but if they ever asked beyond what we had revealed, we answered them straight up.  Some of those questions came earlier than we had anticipated but we kept our commitment and answered fully.  And it stirs up their hearts.  Of course it does and that’s okay.   That’s expected, however,  It just gives them more to process, more to factor in, more to settle in their hearts and minds during these impressionable years of figuring out who they are and how they feel about their entire story.  And what their response to it will be.

At the heart of all of us, we want to be loved— whether you are a middle schooler, a brand new teenager, a 45 year old, 95 year old, adopted, or born to your birth family.  We all desire to know how loved we are and that there are NO restrictions or limits on that love. They will all ask themselves {and hopefully in a vulnerable, safety laden moment, ask you}, can my parents love me as much as a biological child? {That is extremely difficult to type.}  Satan knows that and I believe he sees an opening, or rather a possible opportunity in adopted children.  He tries to slither his way in anyway— and it makes me sick.  {Come, Lord Jesus, come. Quickly.}  I John 4 says that God is Love and verse 19 says that we love because He first loved us.  It all stems from the Father so that is where our children must be led to go.  To Him.  We can reassure them.  We can bare our hearts before them.  We can love them with words and deeds, but only a keen, intimate understanding of the perfect Love of our Heavenly Father will they ever be a whole vessel to contain all the love offered to them.  I think we all have cracks that we allow love to seep out— and we have to remind ourselves often, WE ARE LOVED.   Maybe our adopted children need to hear it more.  Maybe we need to focus our prayer for our children in that direction more often.  Maybe we need to engage them in that conversation on a regular basis.

Mine know how loved they were while in the womb and even now, even though they don’t see their birthparents.  We’ve told them time and again that LOVE- God’s love THROUGH their birthparents—  is what made the decision to place them with us.

Complete, generous, sacrificial love. No restrictions or limits.

They are doubly loved and I pray that one day soon their hearts can hold it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sanders Do DC. {Really Quickly}

I want to kick myself every time I wait to post a certain happening.  Months go by and I forget the details-- not that anyone but us cares-- but I like details.  Anyone can go to DC or look at pictures from DC but only my people can make it our trip. {I am writing this 7/2106 and back posting.} I had wanted to make this trip happen for a few years but I am glad we waited.  The kids will remember it better I think.  When I had dreamed of it, Williamsburg had been attached to the trip and my 5-10 year old Julia would have been in heaven there, but we missed it and that’s okay.  She spent MANY a play date with the Cheek girls donned in prairie dresses and calico bonnets.... and barefoot.  Those childhood memories are pretty sweet and will do just fine.
Jeff had a meeting in Washington D.C. so he went on for that.  We let the kids get one more day of school in, flew out on a Wednesday evening and hit the ground touring.  The National Mall was our first stop and at night, it was quite the sight.

I’ve seen this a few time before, but nothing can prepare you for how large he really is.  The kids were a little in awe and you could tell it by how long they looked at him and how they wanted to read all the words.  I was amazed at how quiet the whole memorial was.  I think everyone is a little bit awestruck.

It was a beautiful night to walk the mall.  If I did this before {middle and high school}, I didn’t understand the lay of the land that ALL of these memorials were scattered about.  We were able to see SO much our first night there.

Brighton worked hard on his Junior Ranger books so he could earn the badge to go with his collection.  Jeff has the “phone glow".

Again, the enormity struck them both.  

Flags were at half mast to honor those dead from the terrorist attack in Paris.  

The World War II Memorial

The Vietnam War Memorial wall was difficult to capture at night {for this amateur photographer} so I was only able to get this one.  My daddy served in Vietnam and received a Purple Heart.

The Jefferson Memorial

In a WHOLE different category, this was a favorite find of mine.  I looked up food bloggers or Instagrammers in DC and found this.  I’d go there tonight if I lived close by.  This cute little shop, Salt and Sundry, would be enough just to see all the lovely things but the FOOD!!  Oh my.  The food is what took us back 3 nights in a row-- and I fought hard for a fourth night but Jeff said we really needed to eat in the city again.

I have always been a sucker for blue and white.  I’ve been hanging blue and white plates on my walls since 1992 so displays like this always catch my eye.  It reminded me of several stores along the coast of Maine.

And HERE’S THE FOOD.  There were little places to eat all throughout:  Takorean, the Red Apron, DC Dosas, Mason Dixie Biscuit Company, Peregrine Espresso-- and so much more.  They describe it as "the epicenter of culinary creativity in DC”.  Everything was delicious.

Think Chipotle with a Korean twist.  I had this twice. ; )


The Library of Congress was really just beautiful.

The Holocaust Museum was incredibly well done and very heavy.  This is a split picture of the shoes of victims and all of the pictures sent in by loved ones of those who died.  

Here is the poem by the Yiddish Poet Moses Schulstein above the shoes:

"We are the shoes, We are the last witnesses
We are shoes from grandchildren and grandfathers.
From Prague, Paris and Amsterdam
And because we are only made of fabric and leather
And not of blood and flesh,
Each one of us avoided the Hellfire"

So back to the food.  This is a dosa.  Dosa is a kind of pancake made from a fermented batter. Its main ingredients are rice and urad beans. Dosa is part and parcel of the South Indian diet and popular all over the Indian subcontinent. Traditionally, Dosa is served hot along with Sambar and Chutney. {from the dictionary}  It was DE-licious.

Brighton-- in his element.  The souvenir store.

Our friend, Eric, who works in Counter-terrorism set up a tour of the FBI building with one of his friends and of course, I forget my driver’s license and couldn’t get in!  So while they toured, I enjoyed a quiet cup of coffee across the street.  {I did NOT leave my license at the hotel on purpose.}

And then B was the proud new owner of an FBI hat.

Senator Kay Granger’s office gave us a tour of the Capitol.

Mt. Vernon.  

It was a beautiful morning to see this place right on the Potomac.

This is what my little Julia would have wanted from the store at Mt. Vernon.  She even knew it was true.

This was definitely a highlight-- getting to see the KELLS!  We went to church at Del Ray Baptist Church where Garrett pastors.  We got to see this growing, beautiful family of Carrie and Garrett’s!  Carrie was the first girl who lived with us.  We got to see this love story develop and in DC we got to see them in their home and in their church. It was a blessing indeed!  

It’s fun to take trips as a family and get to experience so many new things together.  I love seeing their reactions to different things, different foods.  I hate to say it but I won’t forget the fact we found out that our kids can’t seem to sleep in the same bed together-- happily.  I am hoping it’s just a phase but that was not pleasant after touring all day.  We must not have worn them out enough!  I’ll have to work on that next trip.  Thankfully, we had a week off into Thanksgiving when we returned so that was nice.  We stuffed those 3 1/2 days cram full.  And we loved it.  

Now, to get to Williamsburg.