Your Support

Have I mentioned that I remember everything? Well, I don’t remember how to do Algebra or to get eggs and milk from the store but I remember life events like I’ve just watched a movie. It’s a blessing. I hold on to things like dinner at Gus’s. 

This happened to be in my Facebook feed today but I remember… It’s also hard to forget most dinners that involved my brother, especially with Bria. 

So when I post things like how four years ago we adopted Jack, I’m flooded with memories both good and bad. The process to Jack was hard. It was long. It was painful. It was longer than we ever imagined. (It was oh so worth it.) The point is, I remember every trip to 201 Poplar. (If you’re catching up on the blog, you encourage you to read that post about the bowels of hell.) I remember the support we got when we shared our big news with friends. I remember that lack of support too. I remember how excited people were or weren’t. I remember… 

So when I posted about Jack being home four years. I called a friend who is a foster parent. We’ve talked before about people who are also Christians who are supportive and people that are well…not. People that say things like you haven’t thought about what you’ll do to your kids. I promise I have. They wondered why on earth we would have three, much less four. They told us how hard it would be. It is. Let me also say all of my kids are hard for 1,000 different individual reasons. So my first thought because, in case you didn’t remember…I do was not a reaction I’m proud of. I wanted to say, “Where were you when I was in the bowels of hell? Where were you when we said we were considering adoption? Where were you…” Please know I’m not calling anyone out here but myself. Then I realized Jack has changed so many people’s minds. Well, not just their minds, he’s changed their hearts. 

Jack is proof that it can be happy through the hard. He is teaching his sisters and his parents probably more than we are teaching him. 

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And my kids… They’re pretty okay. He’s also been able to do some pretty amazing things in the last four years. I think we’ve played catch up pretty well. How many kids have held a giant ball of snow on a hot beach?

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20131015-222434.jpg IMG_0799Jack provides us with tons of giggles and some awesome awkward family pictures. He’s survived eye surgery and arm splints. He goes through life like a trooper. 

Instead of being aggravated at people who changed their tune in the last five years. My heart is happy because Jack and God did some big things with their hearts. 

We are thankful, super grateful for every single ounce of support we’ve gotten at any time on this journey. I’m certain I’ll be saying thank you again for your support, your love, your prayers. I wish I could reach you through screen and hug a long, long list of names. I hope you know who you are. Mahalo from the bottom of my heart. I’m sending love and aloha today and always. 

 

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Four Years Complete

It’s hard to believe but four years ago today, I was standing in China, signing papers, meeting my son. Oh to read that now. How naive I was. How I thought I was making it real but  he wasn’t really talking. We found out later that he was parroting everything. He only repeated us for over a year. He didn’t walk far, only a few steps before he would fall. 

And now… four years later… Well, yesterday Ray made some popcorn to eat while he was watching football. Jack came flying up the stairs saying, “I smell popcorn! I smelled it downstairs. Who has popcorn?” If only you could read the inflection…or hear Arleigh imitate him. 

Four years ago, rain made Jack scream. This morning we walked to the bus stop in the rain. His only reaction was to tell me to put the umbrella over him or the rain would ruin his hair. 

We’ve gone from this…

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This was the picture from his finding ad. It’s almost unrecognizable now that this is Jack… 

to his last birthday by himself. I wonder if he actually ate any of that cake.

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He finally, reluctantly met us

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And here is Sept 19, 2011…

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Let’s be honest. Our boy still gives us our fair share of this, especially if we tell him that was enough Xbox.

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But mostly we get this…

img_5380.jpg IMG_4150 IMG_3864 IMG_3742 He is one of the happiest most joyful people I’ve ever been around. He mostly goes with the flow. He loves swimming and video games. He loves to be included by Bria and her buddies and happily follows her around. He loves his swing and trampoline. He is hanging out at the cross country races, swim meets, soccer games, football games and band competitions without complaining. He loves going to speech. His favorite subject at school is math. He makes sure his homework is done without me ever having to ask. I certainly can’t say that about his sisters. 

It’s hard to believe about three and half years ago, I wondered if Jack would ever speak, much less read. That boy can put together a full set of legos without batting and eye. He has to show me what to do. His buddy Charles just opened up a whole new world of video games for him. I won’t lie, I worry. I wonder what the next 9 years have in store as we navigate our public school systems. I have to say, we are finding hope. Life would certainly not be the same without him. 

We love you Jack and we’re so happy to have you in our little ohana. I can’t wait to see the big things God has store for you. I’m so blessed I get to watch. 

 

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A Good Story

Yesterday I got up thinking about what everyone else in our country was thinking about. I’ve heard so many stories since we’ve been here about the attack on the Pentagon, the brave people who went back in, the people that were helped, the people that were lost. I remember where I was, barely aware that Hanan might be on her way giving Arleigh her bottle in another country. We all have our stories of where we were and what happened. 

As we went about our day I watched my children who have no understanding of what happened that day or what our world was like before, I am reminded that we have hope for our future. There is hope for their future. 

There is this guy…

img_5380.jpgYesterday he went to his Sunday school class, that I might mention he LOVES. They watched a video about the good Samaritan. He proceeded to tell me the story from start to finish. He didn’t stumble. He told it in order, with inflection. This may not seem like a big deal for the normal third grader. Jack is not a normal third grader. Because of being institutionalized for so long, the part of his brain that controls language and comprehension didn’t develop quite as quickly as the part that deals with math and logistics. (The simplest way I know to explain it.) So, as he’s gotten older Jack says, “I’ve lost my words.” He can’t decide what the appropriate thing to say is or he just loses it mid sentence. Reading and comprehending what he’s read is a real problem. He’s easily distracted. Being able to retell things in a sequential order is also hard. He can follow tasks in that order but retelling is harder.

Anyway, Jack told me about the man that was hurt and the robber came that was mean and took his money. He then told me about men that came along the way that ignored him and didn’t help. He told me that was “weird” because he needed help. Then he told me about the man with the donkey that stopped to help him. He was the good guy. Everyone needs help and we should help. 

It sounds so simple. It’s a story that he’s heard before but he’s never REALLY heard it. He retold the entire thing. It’s exciting on so many levels but as I think about the history of September 11, HE GETS IT! We help in spite of fear. We help in spite of loss because help is love. 

 

Meanwhile, in my Sunday school class, we’ve started a study on Exodus. We’re only in chapter one. We were discussing the fact that the midwives feared God more than the pharaoh and refused to kill the baby boys. This led us to Romans 13. I’m just going to paste that chapter right here…

13 Every [a]person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except [b]from God, and those which exist are established by God.Therefore [c]whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for [d]good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves [e]his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love [f]does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

11 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now [g]salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us [h]behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

So, there’s this election thing going on. There are also people protesting our national anthem. Our country isn’t perfect but we have these governing authorities. There is also a lot of bad going on. There are people being robbed, beaten, mistreated. I’m referring to people of every color and race. Our world seems to be far more dangerous than ever before. Could I draw your eye to end of verse 9 and verse 10 “‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

So Jack has figured out help and love don’t hurt. I hope today we all start to figure out that if we just treated each other with love instead of hate and contempt and selfishness, our world would be nicer.

I’ll stop preaching now. I hope you have a wonderful week. 

 

 

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The One About The Bus

Bria had a seriously cool night last night. If you’ve seen my Facebook, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It was exciting but not quite as exciting as my afternoon.

So, we drew the short straw this year. Our elementary school has the latest start. Our school system has one of the largest private fleet of school buses in the country and they are still stacked three to a seat. Good times y’all. There is so much construction going on at the high school, even seniors are taking the bus. I’m working car pools and taxi services from 3-9 p.m. everyday like it’s a full time job. I am about two seconds away from putting the uber app on the big girls’ phones. Complicating matters even more, that late start means Bria and Jack don’t get off the bus until almost 4 dang thirty. 

Here’s what went down. After a morning of pushing and prodding, I finally folded and cancelled Jack’s before school speech appointment. I got everyone to the bus and then prepared for their return. It was busy day for some one of us. 

The haole dog opted for the summer recovery program while I folded mountains of laundry. 

I decided to leave my phone on the charger and head to the bus stop a little early just in case. Silly me. It was the first day of school after all. I stood there, rocking back and forth. There was lots of nervous anticipation not because I was worried about the first day of school. It was because Bria needed to get to a soccer field at 4:50. She didn’t have on her soccer gear, I had only filled her water bottle and it was now 4:40 in the afternoon. My blood pressure was slightly elevated. Any other day, no big deal but I knew there was a special guest coming to her practice that she wouldn’t want to miss. 

Finally we saw the big yellow hound topping the hill. Bria gets off with her face contorted. Jack wasn’t on the bus. The new bus driver asked if he was in kindergarten. “No. He has special needs. He’s in the third grade.” She told Bria she needed to get back on the bus to look for him. I told the bus driver that everyone knows Jack and every child on the bus was telling her he wasn’t there. She just looked at me like I was crazy. We ran home to get to a phone. 

By the time I got to my house the school was calling with a “We aren’t really sure what happened but Jack missed the bus could you please come get him,” message. I called the school. Again, they said he’s safe but we aren’t sure what happened. It was first day chaos.

Bria and I ran for the car. She was pulling on shin guards and cleats while I drove like a bat out of hell through the neighborhood. I’m sure there will be a new neighborhood message about safe driving coming out shortly. Whatever. We got to the school, ran into the office. “Where’s Jack?” You’d think he’d be sitting there. Nope. He was with his teacher…in his classroom…on the other side of the school. They called her again to bring him down. Finally, we see him, waltzing up the hall without a care in the world.

I wanted to be really, really angry with his new teacher. She can’t know what it’s like to have a child that can’t really take care of himself just be missing. She looked like she’s been through the ringer…or me after a weekend soccer tournament with a band competition and cross country meet thrown in for good measure. She was slumped, trying to smile for Jack but clearly braced for what I might throw at her. I just told him to hurry that we were late, thanked her and went on my hurried way.

Bria was supposed to report at 4:50 and start at 5:00. We pulled in at 5:03 by the skin of our teeth. Her coaches were thankfully understanding. I made it to get Hanan. Arleigh caught her carpool home. By 7 p.m. we were all enjoying dinner. Everyone had reports of great days. Thankfully, I think it’s going to be a great year. Hopefully Jack will make it to the bus today. 

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The Obligatory Children Update

Since I haven’t been updating and our trip to Kentucky was so ever loving short over the Christmas break, I’m interrupting my newly found string of adventure posts with updates on the spawn children. So you’ve been warned. My family has made it clear they want to know. Here comes the proud mom post… Feel free to ignore it if you must.

The oldest…

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Arleigh is a typical teen with a phone glued to her hand. She has added instrument number 4 to her repertoire. Crazy since I can’t read music. Seriously, I told you this would be the proud mom post…She was just recommended for a writing course that we’re pretty excited about. She’s decided to she wants to find a way to write for her career and she’s really, really good at it. Maybe she should take over this lame proud mom post. 

The second…

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Hanan is preparing for high school. Sigh. This is the week her course application was due. She’s joined a recreational cheer squad which has helped her find her aloha and that means this mama is closer to finding hers. Life has been an adjustment for all of us. She is at a large school and was happy to receive a supporting role in a new theater production. So basically, the kid is busy. She keeps me on my toes all the time and I’m happy to say that she’s turning into quite the responsible young lady. The social aspects of middle school are hard. No, really, really HARD. I’m constantly amazed at what she has to navigate. 

It’s hard to find pictures of Hanan by herself. She’s at a stage where she constantly hides from a camera if I’m taking the picture. Funny how I see selfies all over her Instagram but I can’t take pictures. She’s also at the age that she’s forbidden me from speaking about all sorts of things. Here’s a list…

  1. Boys.
  2. Accomplishments.
  3. School.
  4. The social ramifications of knowing who was suspended for what. (Scary.) 
  5. Basically all things Hanan.

So I’ve broken a few rules but again, proud mom post and all.

Number 3…

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Have mercy. This child! She is so so fun and so so aggravating. Clearly, she doesn’t love the metro at all. When she is not busy irritating the living tarnation out of her sisters she has taken over as Jack’s body guard, instructor, tutor, boss, playmate, aggravation, and most recently roommate. It’s helping her finally sleep through most nights though so I’m good with it. She’s found a her passion in playing soccer, even the crazy fast indoor soccer. During her first game, one of her teammates left for a trip to the ER and needed stitches on her face. Pray for me. Did I mention that after four years of asking, Santa finally caved and brought drums. I thought, there’s a basement with a door. It will be fine… There is a constant state of saxophone, piano, guitar, and two kinds of drums happening in this house almost every afternoon. Sometimes it’s beautiful. Sometimes it’s noise. Just pass the Tylenol…please. 

Number 4…

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Mr. Jack… He genuinely likes life on the mainland especially with so many firsts, like Build-A-Bear. (Thank you Uncle Jim and Aunt Carolyn!) He still asks when we’re going back to Hawaii. In fact, when the metro drove by Reagan National Airport, he was sure that’s what was happening in spite of the fact that I hadn’t packed a darn thing. It’s not all sunshine and roses over here. He’s doing great but we had a rough morning. It happens. He loves going to a new speech therapist after school. Legos for Christmas are still a favorite. His favorite is a new helicopter from Uncle Mike and Aunt Sharon. He has such a sweet disposition, he puts up with all his bossy sisters really well. Except this morning… boy howdy. When it’s rough around here, it’s rough. Of course it doesn’t help that he now feels the need to tell me his eyes are freezing every time we leave for school. None of us enjoy the cold anymore particularly at a bus stop. 

In case you’re wondering about the adults, we’re good. It’s a busy season at work for Ray. The kids make it a busy season for me here. We do occasionally enjoy a night out by ourselves…when he can get away from work. I even enjoy the nights out when they’re for work. 

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That was taken at his Christmas party. We had a really good time and won a wine opener that for the life of me, I can’t find. (Not that I’m looking at 9 in the morning.) 

We’ve all jumped on the rat race that is Northern Virginia and are finding the aloha in our mainland adventures. If I haven’t heard from you, it’s your turn. Let me know how things are please.

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My Secret Confession

So, today I revealed a dirty little secret that I’d like to share with you. Our adoption agency lists us as a source to call with questions about the adoption experience, particularly those of special needs children. The person on the other end of the phone was a little horrified. She’s been in an orphan hosting program and is choosing to adopt a child from that program. They don’t have any children. She confessed that she was worried because at first it was awkward and she wasn’t sure she even liked him. She asked if there were times when I was frustrated or annoyed with Jack or if we liked having him from the start. 

I laughed. This is what I told her. I’ve told all four of my children that I love them. I love them fiercely. I will love them past my last breath. There are times though that I really don’t like them. My kids are great. Arleigh has my dry sense of humor. Now that she’s older, she’s fun to just hang out with. Hanan is a constant melody singing, humming tune, piece of art, making my world a more beautiful place. Bria is my kindred spirit. She’s a warrior ready to take on the world. Jack keeps me laughing. He’s happy and fun. They are all too many great things to write about and then there are moments. There are tantrums. There are fights. There are tears. There is work, hard work. There are embarrassing moments and frustrating moments and moments when I seriously close my door and cry because parenting is hard. To borrow from The Talking Dead, parenting can be one big bucket of suck. 

Here’s the thing. My kids are human and humans are kind of messed up. There are moments when they don’t like me very much either. I push them. I frustrate them. I discipline them. I make them cry. They still love me though. They know that behind the push and the frustration and the discipline and the tears is a big heart that loves them fiercely. They know that on the other side of all those things are laughter and love and a safe place to fall. It takes both. 

My kids have the potential to be little Tasmanian devils wrapped in a tornado of mess leaving a trail of dirt, dust and dog hair. They can yell. They can slam doors. They lie, not often but it happens. They talk constantly. There is very little peace in my house. My agenda is shot because their world comes first. Their schedule, their school, their hunger, their tired are all put ahead of my own. Sometimes I’m selfish and I don’t want to give up that. Sometimes they are selfish little leeches and I’m sure at the breaking point being bled dry by my own creation. 

The short answer to her question is this. Yes, there are times that I don’t like Jack, Bria, Hanan or Arleigh BUT I always love them. Sometimes, in fact most of the time I get the bonus of loving to be with them too. 

 

 

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