Sunday, November 24, 2013

Orange and Grey

It's orange Against grey. The gym resounds with the thump, thump, thump of the rubber ball. Refs blow whistles, stopping and redirecting the team. Two points, missed baskets, girls guarding opposing team. It's just another Sunday afternoon for fifth grade little ladies basketball. I am sure all the other parents are thrilled when their girl hits the basket and the small crowd roars! Yay!! One team will win and the other will lose. But I don't get nearly as excited about the two pointers. I Mean, they are great. But mostly, for the last hour, my heart swells just watching my fifth grader on the floor. I love how the coaches respect her, encourage her and let her play. I hear the new friends call her name out. She's the third tallest on the team, slender, spry and fairly quick. I give her a thumbs up whenever I catch her eye. But I swallow the lump in my throat with every tennis shoe that hits the floor. One, two, three- guarding her opponent as if her very life depended On this one minute in time. Her shirt is too long, her bangs almost cover her eyes. She is guarded and not very interactive. But she is playing the game, and she's doing a great job at it, too. Of course she has played on several elementary school teams, so it's not really new to her. She has the rules down and she goes for a shot, shaking her head to get the too-long bangs out of her vision. She misses the shot, but sidesteps to guard the opposition, just like a pro. She takes the ball to the other end of the court, effortlessly bouncing the prized ball with every beat of my heart. She shoots the golden egg. It's in!!! I yell, fighting the urge to stand on the tallest bleacher, "YAY!!" I scream her name. I am so proud. I really couldn't care about this game. Or any other. What fuels my pride is seeing her determined to play on a team, at a new school where she has just begun learning names of other kids. She walks into the gym, tenuous when she can't remember what her coach looked like from practice this week. She spotted someone she recognized, although she can't remember her name, and walks toward her team. She takes her place, throws some practice balls: game on! Her spunk and determination have carried her this far. The trauma of her past has stopped at the doorway, she has overcome her damaged brain from fetal alcohol syndrome, at least in this way, at this time. She has become an important part of a whole. She is a winner. Yeah, it's not the points she scores. It's not just the hour we spend together on days like this. She is an overcomer, a treasure in the rough that is easy to forget on the "dark" and hard days . That's why I want to shout from the bleachers, yep, that's my girl. That cute blonde that looks just like every other girl on her team. Because, I know her struggle. I know her heart. I know that smile is as genuine as it gets. She succeeds above all others because it was determined at her conception that no matter what bad she inherited, her future can look wonderful. Yes, today is her future and she makes me extremely proud to call her my girl. My determined, obsessive/compulsive, hyper vigilant daughter. The one who was delivered to us a day after my birthday one warm summer day. Sprite like in appearance, a worried ticking timebomb of emotional issues that could swallow her whole. A mere baby at 17 months, in a car seat that didn't fit her frame. A whole lot of pain wrapped around her from her family of origin that NO ONE should ever have to deal with. Today I see hope. It's a long journey to go. But I am so very proud of just how far she has already come! Way to go, girl!! That's my girl!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


I can honestly say, moving to a new home after 17 years in the last one, may have been the toughest thing I have ever done. Three birth children,raised and out of the house. Done. Several years of foster care and 7 adopted kids. Done. Two special needs children, non-verbal, unable to walk, severe developmental delays. From Africa. Done. I have been through surgeries, pain, sick and even more sick children. Hospitalizations, funerals, crazy relationships, life. Done. Moving ten miles from one big house to another (that needs repairs too). NOT DONE. We have spent several weeks remodeling the new home, moving in here, and moving out of the other one. Every trip to the "old" house uncovers more that needs to be done and it Of course, 6 kids had to switch schools, three different ones at that. The baby boys got to stay at their school, but we had to switch counties for their special care programs that help us with their medical needs. The home based computer kid had to re-establish his area in the new home,and now goes twice the distance to his job. He has taken one drivers class, but we transport until he drives. The oldest girls got involved Immediately in the new high school drama department, which has them bringing the 4 middlers home and then walking back to their play practice. To top it off, one six year old is a budding cheerleader, and the 9 year old goes to weekly scout meetings. The 11 year old started basketball and even scored two points at her first game. The next sport will be the 9 year old boy basketball games. In a month during this move,dear hubby has repaired two roofs,built one floor for a bedroom for the boys, closed in a narrow doorway, removed a built in cabinet and opened a wider doorway that accommodates wheelchairs. Oh, not the mention carpeting 5 rooms, repairing old wiring, and moving 2 freezers downstairs in the narrow basement. He finished the wheelchair ramp within a week so I didn't have to carry the boys chairs up and down stairs. At the same time, maintaining his 50 hour a week job. And we are still NOT DONE!! I have cleaned, cleared, unpacked and set up house. I have painted and arranged rooms. I have tried to keep food in the house, even if it meant someone else has been helping with cooking! We have had wonderful friends along the way, who have supported us with meals, and child care,and making sure we are not forgotten now that we live in the next town over. But whew, moving has been rough! I love our new 1904 farm house in the city! We have great plans, one of which is to fence the back yard real soon. I can't wait until spring to redesign gardens and power wash the house. I have so many plans to make this home a beautiful place we all will love for years to come. I still have boxes to unload, but it already feels like home to me. I sleep better, have plenty to keep me busy, and love welcoming people into our home who come to visit. It's been a great change,brought on by a much needed change. We are almost ready to list our other home and we are hoping a big family will love it as much as we did for 17 years. I never thought I would leave the home my grandpa built. I also never thought we would adopt 9 kids and need to be closer to schools that can meet some of their special needs. But we made the move, we made a huge change in our lives, and now, as the moving winds down, we can say CHANGE IS GOOD! I am almost at the point where I can get back to the business of doing what fuels my fire - advocating for the orphans in Africa, and praying for the funds to go again to help the people I love clear across the ocean. More to come! Change is good!