Tuesday, May 26, 2015


So you've now learned the "real" identity of Baby Baby and Little Sister.  The next in line at our home, youngest to oldest, is Summer.  As a reminder, for those of you new here or at least since her adoption, she was adopted in 2011 after a year+ placement in foster care and is not part of the recent sibling group we adopted in 2014.  Summer has two siblings that do not live with us.  One lives with his biological mother and one lives with his adoptive parents.  We keep in contact with the latter of the two (Hello!).

Summer was a perfectly "normal" child when we adopted her.  (Here's her introduction after adoption day).  She struggled developmentally but only slightly, as if she was always one-small-step behind everyone else.  When she was 2 she struggled with potty training and toddler behaviors (biting, etc.).  When she was 3 and her peers started to develop further, learning critical social skills and starting to mature a bit like preschoolers do, Summer's delays became more pronounced. She did not continue maturing like the other children did.  Her behavior seemed to be the most obvious issue as she was more and more aggressive (or, really, her toddler aggression never stopped), she never sat still, she ran out of the class, and still didn't master potty-training.  She attended a great school that required strict adherence to rules, didn't reward expected behavior, and actually taught the preschoolers.  This was great for our oldest and he excelled here but wasn't working out for Summer.  We withdrew her before she was kicked-out and found a program willing to work with her and her needs.  At the time, Summer was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder, all areas, and was "the worst case of sensory defensiveness" the therapist had ever seen.  She attended therapy 2x a week at a fantastic facility at our cost of $160 per week.  It helped, but after a year they acknowledged they felt they'd reached the end of what they could offer her.  By her 5th birthday it was clear Summer was anything but "normal" and parenting her would be (or is, for now) a major challenge.

Summer has been diagnosed with severe disabling ADHD and Cognitive Disorder.  She has been evaluated for High Functioning Autism and her results come back "likely" but with the detailed evaluation she received the doctors believe her Executive Functioning Disorder (leading to ADHD) is causing symptoms of Autism, not the other way around.  I'm not convinced yet we have a final diagnosis but at this time this seems to be most appropriate.  Everyday with Summer is a challenge.  Nearly every minute with her is a challenge, honestly.  (See my open letter).  She cannot be left out-of-sight for any period of time at all and I'm not exaggerating.  On rare occasion we leave her within ear shot (maybe, in the kitchen as I open the front door or use the restroom with the door open so I can clearly hear her) but most of the time we have her within our sight.  This includes bed time - we've moved her into our room.  She does go to daycare and is about to complete the state's preschool program but the preschool program has been a wild failure (in terms of behavior and education) and daycare is only successful because they're very patient with her and understand her special needs.  At this time she's seeing a psychiatrist (and takes 3 medications a day), a behavioral therapist in-home (this guy is no joke and I love his work so far), and will probably start seeing a play-therapist over the summer.  She also needs physical and occupational therapy on a regular basis and will likely be put in a PPCD-type program in the fall (after a YEAR of advocating for her and finally hiring an attorney - apparently the school thinks we're bad parents and are making up her diagnoses to excuse her behavior).

Summer is a beautiful girl.  She loves to dance, be active, and play make-believe.  She also loves posing for pictures, which is fantastic because I get to capture "good" moments like these ones above where she has a genuine smile on her face and appears to be a happy, well-adjusted child.  These moments do exist and I cherish them.

I think pictures like these are more common.  I dunno, maybe they're not.  Looking through my pictures I have a good mix of the types you see above.  Some are great and some show a little bit more of what we're dealing with.  You can see in these pictures a little more of what we see on a regular basis.  Her face has food all over it in one - she literally doesn't care most of the time whether she has food or dirt or anything else on her where it doesn't belong.  This is part of the problem with potty training; she doesn't care one iota if she's wet, at least on the surface.  We all think she cares underneath, that she has no self-confidence or self-esteem.  :(


Summer loves adventure.  She loves to hunt for things (on her own terms) and be outdoors.  If she could spend all day outside by herself hunting for bugs and critters she would.  Thankfully, our yard permits that.  Unfortunately, our schedule as a busy family of 8 does not provide the opportunity nearly as much and letting her explore outside of the totally fenced in yard is not an option because she'll wander away.

This is the type of thing Summer does when she doesn't have direct supervision.  She "washed" her hair with toothpaste.  Though this type of behavior is common among 2-3 year olds and maybe explorative older children, it typically fades out as they learn other more productive and "normally accepted" types of play.  Summer has not learned the benefits of "normal" play yet and therefore gets into lots of mischief for her age.  

 Summer loves her siblings and wants to be a good helper, when she wants to be one.  She really wants to do the dishes and liked helping with Aaron when he was younger.  She wants to play with everyone as long as they want to play on her terms.  This is her haircut after Lizzie got hers - she wanted one too.  Shortly after she got less of a bob and more of a shaggy medium/short cut to help cover up all the times she tries to cut her own hair when she comes in contact with scissors.


Summer loves posing for pictures.  Here are a few more that show day-to-day life with her.  The second picture is totally normal...she's in a bat girl cape tied around her waste so we can go into Target to buy her new underwear and shorts because we were on the road and she'd wet through several pairs of dry things that morning.  She's got her hat on, a sweatshirt, and no shoes, and she's totally fine with it.  This girl loves adventure and has no interest in helping mom's self-respect taking her into stores like this.  She broke her thumb, slamming it in the door, and though she cried never told us it was hurting until we noticed how unbelievably bad it looked a couple days later.  They put a cast on her, knowing she wouldn't leave it alone for the required 4 weeks.  I'm not sure how close to getting her cast off this last picture is but as you can see, it's disgustingly filthy and you may notice there's not much of the white gauze left around the top - she ate most of it.

Summer, I love you so much and I love those moments  before you go to sleep where I can have a heart-to-heart with you to remind you how much I love you and how much I'm going to continue to fight for you.  I pray God will heal you and help you recover from the last few years.  You're going to soar Summer.  Keep your adventurous spirit and may your love of life be rounded out with joy, all the time, whether you get what you want or not.  You're beautiful sweetheart.  I pray we're able to tell you always and forever how much you mean to us and that you're able to hear it through our parenting, even as we're correcting you and coaching you as you grow.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Little Sister

I tried to look back at my blog to see if I ever referred to each of my kids by blog names.  If I could, I couldn't remember them or find them at all so forgive mie if I don't make a connection here.  Our family now consists of three boys and three girls, so today's update is about the youngest of the three girls who, if I haven't used the term before, fits "Little Sister" to a T.


Ok, this girl.  Let me tell you.  Her name is Lizzie.  She'll correct you in her 4-ness and tell you she is Elizabeth OR Lizzie, and then frequently tell you she wants to be called Elizabeth, with the incomplete "th" sounding like an "f". She loves Frozen, princesses, dolls, dress-up, pretend play, and anything imaginative.  

She was a few months from turning 3 when they came to live with us, almost 2 years ago now.  It's such an odd thing to consider now that Aaron is this age.  Her hair used to be down to the middle of her back but she desperately wanted it cut about a year ago, hence what you see above.  It's grown back out now, about to her shoulders, which is EXACTLY what she wants now that she knows all about Rapunzel.


This girl has attitude.  She's got a flair for fashion and creates all sorts of "looks", including the facial-expression kind on the right.  We get these looks from her daily, at least.  When she gets caught doing something she knows she's not supposed to do she freezes up and won't respond to your questions. She has this stare though...the one that says...I am very mad at you right now.  It's not a morning unless Lizzie has cried.  Nevertheless, we get a lot of  comments on how BEAUTIFUL this one is.  We're working to make sure our insides are as beautiful as our outsides :)  She's actually really smart and independent, so we need to make sure we're giving her the attention she needs even though she doesn't "demand it" the same way some of the others do.

 Oh Lizzie - What would we do without you.  I love that you try to read to mie every day in the car and I love that you know exactly how to work your charm to hide your natural impish-ness, even though I won't tell you that now.  It makes me smile.  I know sometimes I won't do things for you and it makes you cry.  It's because I believe in you, even when you don't believe in yourself.  I want you to know how awesome you are in every way, every day.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Baby Baby

Life.  Life happens and it is so unbelievably full in our home right now and as I'm realizing, will be forever, God willing.  (Though I hope for rest and peace and obedient children growing in Truth and Love.  Amen.)

Here I am, as I promised a long time ago, to introduce you one by one to our kiddos.  I'm going to start with the one who's placement in care brought this whole crazy family together.  You've known him for 2 1/2 years as Baby Baby.

His name is Aaron, a name we gave him on adoption day.  As you can see he is no longer a baby. He's talking in full sentences, though you can't always understand him, and is every bit of a two-year-old.  He's very active but loves nothing more than to hang on mommy or daddy, not both - just the one he chooses at that moment.  He can keep up with his brothers and sisters and has learned the art of being louder than them all in order to be heard.  

He is our silliest boy, I think.  Or, at least our silliest one where silly is super-age-appropriate.  He's always doing something to make everyone laugh and he gets a thrill out of it.  He's almost always smiling that big super-happy grin, as you can see.  In the midst of our chaos and the moments of tension/drama in the house he tends to break it up with his crazy antics, super cuddly hugs, or handsome, happy smile.  He loves Cars (especially Mater), trains, and planes.  He's fascinated by motorcycles as well and knows that Papa rides one.

Here are a few of him a bit younger.  Love these.  The one with the paci is him at the hospital...this kid by far has spent the most time in the hospital than any of the other six.  He is seen by several specialists including a cardiologist, orthopedics at Scottish Rite, opthamologist, and a pulmonologist. He has severe asthma (or, at this point it's called Reactive Airway Disease), so any kind of illness hits him pretty hard.  (and boy does he love that paci, though he knows that it must "go to bed" when he wakes up and gets out of his toddler bed.  Yes, we're done with cribs.  *Sniffle*

Oh boy howdy.  How did I forget his love of tractors. 

Aaron, you are such a joy in our lives.  You have such a special role in bringing our family together and you brighten our days.  I can't believe how much you've grown recently and I look forward, every day, to being your mommy.