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!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I am my daughter's "celebrity"

Here I go.... be prepared, because this one will be long.  It has been brewing in me for a long time.  Truthfully, at times, I have found myself afraid to share what I have to say.  I am afraid no more.  I will stand for what I believe in and I will stand for what is true.  I will stand for my daughter and I will stand for my family.  I will stand for children - brilliant children who need a chance.  I will stand for parents who should not be ashamed.  I will stand straight in church, not wondering what others think, becuase I will know I have done right by my daughter and by God.  I will stand. 

I've hesitated writing this also because I have found myself angry at times.  It's never good to write when you are angry.  So, I decided to wait until my thoughts were gathered in a clear fashion and my anger had somewhat subsided.  And it has... so now I write.

If you are a reader of my blog, you know that my daughter Anna was diagnosed with ADHD last year.  It was a very difficult time for our family and we struggled to even consider the possibility of my perfect little girl having something wrong with her.  We worked for three long years prior to her diagnosis though, with the symptoms of the condition we were trying to ignore.  We could ignore it no more.  It was doing a diservice to my daughter.  Her diagnosis was swift.  She is classic ADHD - no question.  Tears filled my eyes when the doctor told us that... for two reasons actually.  Some tears were tears of relief, because we had an answer.  Some tears were tears of fear for the judgement that was to come to Tim and I, and to Anna.

Anna is a great kid.  She will give you the coat off of her back in freezing cold weather, because she is kind.  When most kids want to keep the last piece of candy for themselves, just ask her and she will give you hers.  And if you don't have a piece of candy - you don't even have to ask... she'll give you hers.  Yesterday Tim and Anna took a ride to the bank.  They were having some celebration there and they had snacks to give away.  Anna came home with hers unopened and she brought home one for Cameron as well.  She didn't have to do that.  Many kids would not.  Anna did.  (She did say that Cameron and Sara would have to share - but at least she thought of them).  She is pretty much a joyful kid too... always a smile on her face... not many complaints.  Along with that though, came Anna's struggles.  Behavior issues, problems paying attention in class, being somewhat impulsive, being generally "distracted".  She is a very smart child, but her grades were not reflecting that. 

When we took Anna to the doctor, it was clear to him that she had ADHD.  We started her on medication and things got better nearly instantly.  I found myself hiding this fact from most people though, and I asked myself why.  Why would I hide this???? So many people could learn from it.  I'm not a doctor, but I could share MY experience, which could help someone find the courage to go to a doctor and see if this was the answer for their child who was struggling.  But I hid it.  I hid it because there is SO much attached to ADHD.  In the Christian community, many people do not believe that ADHD is a medical issue.  ADHD is a "heart issue".  I disagree.  If I am wrong, I will stand before God, when it is my turn, and tell Him that I truly felt this was the right thing for me to do.  I truly felt that I had exhausted ALL other options with my little girl.  I truly felt as though this was what I needed to do to parent her appropriately.  If I'm wrong, I'm wrong.  But God will know my heart and the measures we took to make sure that this was not a heart, but truly a medical issue.  And to the Christian community who would discourage people from seeing this resolution, I would caution them.  Until you have lived with a child with ADHD, you can not fully understand the consequences and harm you are doing to a child with ADHD if you let them go untreated. 

ADHD brings a feeling of shame and guilt to the parents.  There is so much attached to the diagnosis.  There are people looking at you thinking you are lazy and just want to medicate your child instead of raising them or disciplining them.  Trust me when I say, I'm not that parent.  After three years of trying (I think that would tell you that I'm not a lazy parent), seeking medical help was our last resort.  Also, just becuase you have a diagnosis, it doesn't make it any easier.  The medication doesn't alway work right away.  You have to find the right one by trial and error. And then when you find that PERFECT one, it may only be perfect for awhile.  It was perfect for Anna for eight months... we are now in the process of finding a new perfect.  If it's lazy to commit to picking up a prescription from the doctor every single month, then we are lazy (you can only get a one month prescription - not more).  If committing to going to the doctor at least every six months for a re-check is lazy, then we are lazy.  If going to the doctor three times in the last six weeks is lazy, then we are lazy.  If remembering every morning to give Anna her medication is lazy, then I'm lazy.  If being in constant contact with her teachers is lazy, then I'm lazy.  Trust me, a medical diagnosis of ADHD didn't mean I didn't have to work with her less.  I have to work with her MORE!!!!  I still have to discipline.  I still have to correct!!  I still have to teach!!!  I have to find new ways to do it that work for her.  And on top of that, I have to deal with all of the medical side of it.  And here's the thing - I wouldn't change it for the world!!!

I have asked myself why God gave this to Anna and why it is in our life.  I truly believe it is for a reason.  I dive into things when they happen in my life.  I can tell you more about RP (my eye condition) than most medical doctors.  (not the specialists for sure, but the general doctors - yeah, I probably know more).  I have learned so much about ADHD it isn't even funny.  Also, I began to wonder something - with how prevalent ADHD is... how come it is not talked about more?  And I mean in a positive way... not in a "bashing the parents, child or medication way"?

Why is there no celebrity endorser for some ADHD medication or for the condition?  Think about it:

Parkinson's Disease has Michael J. Fox
MS has Ozzy Osbourne (not the best example, but people know him)
Breast Cancer has Christina Applegate
Osteoporosis has Sally Field
Digestive Health - Jamie Lee Curtis  (seriously, isn't ADHD more important than being regular???)

I did some reasearch and found that there are several celebrities WITH ADD / ADHD.  I was pleased to find them.  You may find that strange, but they are successful, and I live for examples of people being successful with a condition such as my daughter's.  Did you know that Ty Pennington of Extreme Makeover Home Edition struggled with ADHD from the time he was a child?  Howe Mandel - ADHD.  Michael Phelps - ADHD.  When talking to Anna's doctor, I asked what this would mean for Anna's future.  Do you know what he told me?

He told me that patients with ADHD are typically high achievers.  They are some of the brightest children in the class.  They will never be accountants.  Anna will never be allowed to be an astronaut - fine with me, I don't want to send my kid to space anyway... it's too far away!  But did you also know that a very high percentage of Doctors and Lawyers are ADHD?  I'm good with Anna being a doctor or a lawyer.  Architects have a high percentage of ADHD.  This doesn't mean that Anna will be any one of these things... but it means that she CAN BE.

So, since no one has stepped up to the plate and said that they will be the "celebrity" for ADHD, I'd like to introduce myself to the world.  My name is Charity Roach.  I'm Anna's mom.  That makes me a celebrity to her.  I am a mother.  I am a wife.  I'm a working mom with a bachelor of science degree in chemistry.  I am a QA/Validation manager for a large pharmaceutical company.  I am legally blind.  I love to grow unique flowers.  I love my family.  I'm the new face of ADHD.  You won't see me on television, you won't hear me on the radio, I haven't written any books - but maybe I will someday.  But what I am is an advocate for parents and children with ADHD.  I'm the one who is going to ask you not to just write them off as "bad kids who can't learn".  They are smart kids who want to learn but have something that is stopping them!

I'm going to start sharing more about our trials and triumphs with Anna and ADHD - because in order to ask others to not be ashamed... I need to show that I am not ashamed.  If you don't believe in ADHD you might want to stop reading my blog.  If you think God doesn't want my daughter on medication, then you should surely stop reading my blog.  Because I am going to share it all.  Not because I want to share such a personal part of my daughter's life, but because maybe someone will see their child in my struggles and will know they are not alone.

In Christ,

PS - the pictures are from the recent snow storm in SC that gave me three extra days home with my children, the kids not wanting to get out of bed on their snow day and poor Sara - feeling sick from her immunizations. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Blog posts are coming... this weekend

I've had two VERY important blog posts running around in my head but have refrained from writing them until I had my thoughts fully gathered.  I gathered them this morning.  Tim says I should write a book about one of them.... we'll see.  Anyway, stay tuned (my few faithful readers) I have pictures to share as well.

In Christ,

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Welcome, 2011

A month ago, if you asked me if I would be "welcoming" in 2011, I would have probably thought you were crazy.  With all of the uncertainty that 2011 has to offer.... no thanks!  I'll stay with the tried and true, 2010.  Not that 2010 didn' t have its issues, but they were "known" issues.  They were ones that I had already dealt with.  I knew what they were and I was comfortable with them.  I was comfortable sitting in 2010 with my job being secure (up until the very end there), I was happy with my home (up until the very end there, when we had the "flood"... more about that later), I was happy with my kids - especially at the end there, when Sara was added to our family, I was happy with my husband - and still am - up until the end there when there was that flood (just kidding Tim - I'm still happy with ya!).  Then there was the end of the year, when our jobs became uncertain, decisions were hard to make because all of the information is not known yet, and not knowing what 2011 has in store for us.  It seemed difficult for me.

I'm a PLANNER!!!  If you didn't know that about me before, you know that about me now.  I plan my life.  Every last detail of it.  I look at situations and analyze them.  I have to... I think it's genetic!  I think I think of every possible scenario before I do something and then plan my escape route for all negative outcomes.  Tim doesn't do that.  He is a bit of a planner, but not as much as I am.  So when the work thing came, it hit me hard... a bit harder than Tim.  He can sit back, wait and see what happens.  In my mind, that would mean we are wasting time.  The house could be on the market, we could be interviewing - granted we could be missing out on an opportunity, but the sure thing is better than maybe something.  Anyway, so me and my "planning" self were having some difficulty with 2011 about a month ago. 

Then something happened.  I turned it all over to God and decided that God will place us where we need to be, when we need to be there.  If we have a job somewhere else that God wants us to be, He will make sure our house gets sold in an appropriate time frame (it's not on the market).  He'll let us know when it needs to be.  He'll make sure that it is something that will work out for both me and Tim, and more importantly, will be a place where the kids, Tim and I can continue to grow spiritually.  That's the most important thing after all.  Sure, we need money to take care of the physical things here on earth, but what is more important, is that God is leading us somewhere, where our relationship with Him will flourish.

2011 will be the first year in 3 years that we are not waiting on some portion of an adoption process.  I hate to say it, but I'm actually looking forward to that.  It  has been emotionally draining for the past three years waiting for our daughter to come home - and at times, even wondering where she would be coming home from.  We have some loose ends to tie up for the whole adoption, but our daughter is home!  That is all that matters.  I'm looking forward to watching her continue to settle into our family in 2011. 

We are planning on doing some traveling with the kids in 2011!  For the past three years, we have put off going on a major family vacation, due to the fact that we were always expecting to have to travel for the adoption.  Well, after three years, since that is complete, we will be able to go where we want to go.  We are looking forward to that for sure!

It's good to see the passing of 2010 for so many reasons.  I hate to think about another year of my life with my family gone, and I definitely do not wish the kids to get older, but this year has been a difficult one.  Que the flood story:

So, remember way back when - like in July, when we got the floors done?  Remember me climbing through bedroom windows for a week so I didn't have to stay at a hotel.  Remember me inhaling fumes for an entire week (admittedly, I kinda liked that :).  Remember me pushing a guide dog through a bedroom window?  Kids eating in the bedroom because they couldn't walk on the floors?  I guess if you didn't live it, it was easy to forget.  I remember well.  Oh, and the floors - they turned out beautiful.  Fast forward to December.  Tim and I have two weeks off for the holidays.  We decided to use this time to do a much needed home improvement project in one of the second floor bathrooms.  Cameron's bathroom desperately needed a remodel.  I painted the cabinets some time ago, but we decided we were going to tile the floor and put up some decorative glass tiles around the shower, install a new toilet, replace the fixtures and things like that.  Tim spent countless hours cutting tiles and installing the floor.  It was looking good.  He got all the tiles laid, the grout put down, the quarter-round up, the tile sealant on - it was time to install the toilet.  This was on Tuesday.  We were going to my mom's on Wednesday to see my sister and her family who I rarely get to see.  I was carrying some laundry into the bedroom to fold and all of a sudden I heard a terrible noise.  Sounded like a small water fall, which is a nice sound except when it is in your house.  I ran into the kitchen to see Tim running out of the house (for a minute I was thinking - nice of you to save the women and children :) but then it hit me... literally.  Right smack on the head!  Gallons of water were coming out of the kitchen ceiling onto our 4 month old hardwood floors.  It's coming out throught the recessed lighting.  I ran upstairs to see what had happened and as I went down the hallway, it was as though someone turned on a faucet right under the wall and water was coming out from under the bathroom wall into the hallway.  Not just a trickle of water, but a LOT of water. 

Tim was outside of the house turning off the main water supply line to the house.  When he came back in, I asked him if he had any idea what just happened upstairs and in the kitchen.  He said "I know".  Poor guy.  I think he thought I was mad at him.  I wasn't.  Especially after he told me what had happened.  My only question to him was - why didn't you turn off the water before you did anything up there.  He had turned off the valve at the toilet, but the pipe broke in the wall.  It could not have been helped.  I was upset about the kitchen, I was upset about upstairs, I was upset that I would not get to see my sister the next day....

It all worked out fine.  As I am typing the pad has been removed from the carpeting upstairs and a blower is running underneath the carpet to dry the carpeting and floor.  The pad will be replaced.  The kitchen floor has been dried and no damage seems to have been done.  The kitchen ceiling is drying.  It will need to be patched and painted, but it's not permanately damaged.  The plumber cut a hole in the wall in the bathroom to fix the plumbing - but it will be repaired easily.  AND... I was able to go spend a wonderful day with my sister and her family.  All is well that ends well.

So, we are now looking forward to 2011.  2011 should be an adventure for our family.  2011 will probably teach me a lesson in planning - that not everything can be planned, and even if it could, I'm not the planner.  God holds the master plan - our family just needs to follow it.  It may not always be comfortable, and I may sometimes ask why, but a plan is a plan, and God's is the best.  So... let me in on the plan God - when you feel like I need to know.  Until then, we will wait, pray and enjoy what you have to offer us in 2011.  Thank you for ALL of our blessings in 2010!

Happy New Year!

In Christ,