We truly are a family redefined. We are husband, wife, son, daughter, step children, biological and adopted children and most importantly, Children of God.

A friend pointed out that I needed to update my blog header. After our adoption from Ethiopia, I had updated it stating how the adoption of Sara Joy completed our family. Well... the journey continues. After much prayer, we have decided to follow what we feel is God's calling for us...we went to Ghana with the intention of adopting a four year old girl, Isabella Hope. Little did we know that she would be the catalyst to bringing home not only her, but her half brother and sister. We will now be adding not only Isabella Hope to our family, but also Mary Grace (9) and Gilbert (6) who we will transition to the name Nathaniel Timothy. The shock is wearing off and the JOY and EXCITEMENT are overwhelming. Now truly, our family is complete. The great part of journeying with God, is that it's always an adventure. He knows where we are going, and for us it is all a marvelous surprise. Looking forward to sharing our family adventures as we walk daily through life and as we venture off to Ghana to bring home Mary, Nate and Isabella! It's always an adventure redefining our family!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Answers - Warning... LONG!

Have you ever been waiting for answers?  So anxious for the response that you are more concerned about getting some answers than the nature of the response?  Well, that is where I have been.

Today, we have answers.

I have had you all praying for my Anna.  She is my sweet child and I seriously could not imagine life without her.  We have had some struggles with her though, and finally today, I think we have some answers.  With answers seem to come more questions though... questions, doubt and regret.  I'll explain it all.

Anna has been having some pretty big discipline issues at school. She has had them for several years.  I have always known my Anna to be a strong-willed child, in fact I have said it on this blog many times.  She is a very strong-willed child.  But I have also known my Anna to be extremely sweet... willing to share anything she has, a leader amongst her friends and a very smart little girl.  She is funny, and always ready with a smile.  She is silly and giggly.  She is also very active.  Always on the go, ready to play anything from football, riding her bike, catch with her dad, playing on the trampoline - just a fun loving kid.

Her attitude at school for the past few years has startled me.  First I thought it was just about her age.  She would grow out of it.  Then I thought I could work on her heart... memorize bible verses, etc.  Well, it has been three years of working, behavior modification, trying new things, consequences, correction - and for me... tears, fear and worry.  Well, finally after having tried everything else over the course of many years, we finally took Anna to the doctor where she was evaluated and diagnosed with ADHD. 

If you don't believe in ADHD, please don't tell me about it.  If you think I am a lazy mom who just needs to spend more time working with her child... please keep that comment to yourself.  I have tried and tried with Anna.  I'm not sure I believed in ADHD myself until I experienced this with Anna. I'm a chemist and I work for a pharmaceutical company... however, I seek God first.  First needed to be the work on Anna's heart.  I tried that.  I have come to find out that ADHD is real, and in some cases, the child needs medical assistance.  I'm not sure how I could have questioned ADHD but I did.   I see Anna though and I see her struggle... I see her trying and being frustrated for not being able to get the green ticket in school she so desperately wants.  I see her wanting to get the praise and recognition like the other children who are able to sit still and who do not talk out of turn.  I also see the faces of the parents who have experienced Anna's misbehavior.  It makes me sad to have anyone think anything but positive thoughts about my daughter.  She is such a blessing to me and to our family. 

Her doctor was wonderful in dealing with us.  He answered all of my questions and believe me.... I had many.  Initially we had to fill out multiple questionaires and so did individuals from the school.  We had three different reports from the school along with my/Tim's evaluation and they all said nearly the exact same thing.  The doctor had no question.  It was clear to him what Anna's problem was.  So, along with some coaching for us as her parents on how to assist her and make things easier for her, he started her on some medication.  Now, I don't give my children medication easily.  I need to be convinced that it is the right thing for them.  But after three years of struggling and seeing as how a medical professional was in agreement, we are trying it.  Not only that, but Anna has struggled enough.  I understand it will take some time to evaluate the medication and the appropriate dosage for her, but we are willing to work though that to get Anna where she needs to be. 

My regrets.... the past three years.  I look back on all the times I have disciplined Anna or gave her consequences.  She has several times even told me that she tried to do the right thing, but that she couldn't help it.  I had to take that time though to make sure I wasn't just trying to fix the problem to make it easier for me by giving her medication.  I needed to make sure I was doing the right thing for ANNA.  Giving her medication is not the right thing until I'm sure I have exhausted all other options.  It took me that long to get to this point.

My fear.... what would Anna have become in China?  She would have been overlooked.  She would have had no opportunity.  She would have just been a "bad kid".  Her potential would have been lost.  Her chance at becoming successful... slim.  I'm so thankful that my Anna is here with us and we went through this with her and have found a way to hopefully be able to help her.  While it has truly been a struggle, she has been loved by us through the entire struggle.  Every time I got a call at work to come to school, yes, it was frustrating and exhausing, but Anna is more important than my job.  My daughter and helping her through this issue is more important.  I am a mom before I am an employee.  No offense to my work, but my family comes first.  One day while we were struggling through this, and it had been an extremely difficult day, I took a step back... at this point in time I had considered the fact that Anna could have ADHD - we hadn't seeked a professional advice yet, but it was in the back of my mind.  At that point, I decided, until I knew for sure what was going on, I had to give Anna the benefit of the doubt.  Rather than going through the consequences again, I explained to her how her behavior was wrong and how she made a wrong choice (which I think remains important so not to give the child an excuse), but then I wrapped my arms around her and I told her that I truly believed that she wanted to do the right things.  I asked her if that was true, and she said yes.  I told her that no matter what it took, we would work together to get it figured out and I would do anything I could to help her make the right choices.  She just melted in my arms.  You would think that a 6 year old would not understand that, but she heard my words that what she did was wrong, but I was going to help her.  She felt my love and I felt her trust.

I hesitated to even talk about this, because I really don't want anyone to think Anna is just a "bad kid".  I also know that there are so many people who don't believe in ADHD... they really do think if a parent just took more of an active role in their children's lives, that they could work out the issue on their own.  I felt somewhat like a failure as Anna's mom... first for waiting so long to take care of it (which the Dr. said they actually would not have addressed it sooner) and then for the years I made her live with it and the consequences that were given in trying to help her make right choices. 

Medication is not the final answer.  Anna will struggle constantly - well into adulthood with this issue.  ADHD is not something that you grow out of, but it is something that as an adult (or older teen) you can learn to develop coping mechanisms.  Anna will always be "disorganized".  She will always have a purse full of little nonsense junk.  She will always have to fight her tendency to "figet" and she will likely struggle with being talkative.  But she will be fine.  She will be successful.  She is a smart little kid with SO much going for her.


Thank you to all of you who have prayed with me through this.  I do apprecaite it.

Small adoption update.... rumor has it that the laws in Ethiopia are changing and we will have to make TWO trips to Ethiopia once we get our referral... one for court and the other for the embassy appointment.  Not the most ideal situation for us, but one we can manage.  I think it is good for everyone involved to have it this way anyway.  Now.... BRING ON THE REFERRAL!!!

In Christ,


Lori said...

I'm glad that you are finally on a path to Anna being able to meet her woderful potential! I also defy anyone who 'doesn't believe in ADHD' to spend some time with children who DO have it--see how they are with their medicine and then see how they are without it. Watch them EXCEL when treated and watch them struggle and suffer when not.

I have NEVER been a big believer in medicating children for ADHD unless it makes a night and day difference, and the reality is, for many children, it DOES! I applaud you for being exhaustive in your search for treatments and hope that no one feels they are entitled to judge you for making decisions you obviously feel are best for Anna.

Corinne said...

Do not ever think or believe you are a lazy mom! I totally understand what you are dealing with. I have two with ADHD and one with ADD.We have worked hard over the years and all these kids can be helped... some with meds and some without and can and do very very well with parental support and patience.It is a lot of work but, God gave Anna to you because he knew You would and could help her in her struggles.I am so glad you have recieved some answers. I would be more then happy to share more about our experiences. Hang in there!All children are treasures and some come with a few more struggles and an opportunity for us to learn.

Bella Michelle said...

I just found your blog, as I was researching for a school in our new town (FCS) and I wanted to let you know that you are doing a great job in loving your sweet daughter an taking the time to find what she needs. As I Mom I know how hard these decisions can be but out of Love God guides us!!!