June 2010

We interrupt your regularly scheduled program to bring you this these very special announcements.

A good friend of mine is on her way to the hospital to give birth to her second child. I’ve prayed for her safety and the safety of her baby. I pray for an easy labor and calm spirit. Just a short time from now the cycle of life will introduce us to a beautiful new spirit, and in the process create a new big brother. Amazing.

I like mother nature’s approach to planning and preparing. Though pregnancy is a clear “warning” that new life is almost certainly imminent, it really does nothing to prepare the world outside for the changes it’s about to experience. One day we are a family of 3, the next day a family of 4. That’s that. You don’t get a letter indicating the personality of the baby and his favorite sleeping positions. Nope… nada, nothing…

 Well unless I’ve misunderstood how carrying around a 9 lb basketball trains you in for being a mother. Look at the Karate Kid, here’s a kid who would take his jacket off, throw it on the floor, pick it up, hang it up, and put it on again about 5,000 times, and he learned Karate. So maybe carrying around a large heavy ball gives you super-momma-powers. I think I am going to see if carrying around a BlackBerry somehow will prepare me to be an Olympic athlete, it should be possible, right?

On a similar note, today, a long lost family member was found. And just the same as mother nature prepares us for a new baby, one day she wasn’t there, the next day she was. I can tell you I am elated to have a new family member.

And for discussion on another day, I did recently come across yet another “missing” family member.

Love’s ability to grow infinitely amazes me. I am so grateful love is free. I want to give a lot of love, and would hate being limited by a cost. Thankfully it’s a free gift (because that’s my POV). It’s free and I have a lot of it and I don’t want limitations on how much I have, or give, or take, or share.

I am not sure I have much more to say on the matter. Earth and the cycle of life may  have prepared, or be preparing for these new souls. But for me, my world just grew by a count of three. Welcome!

(your regularly scheduled program is postpones… not likely to return to it in the very near future).


So here is a little about our transition. I’d like to point out that I think some of the transitions are general/universal, most families probably experience some of the parts in one way or another, but the details inside of those are probably more specific to the culture the child comes from and the culture of the family they are moving into.

This information is specific to our transition of our girls from Ghana.

A few things came to mind about the transition:

1. Time – the girls had no sense for being “on time” or “late”

2. Language – even though they could speak English, it wasn’t American English. There was a language barrier and it was bigger than I thought.

3.  Food – the girls had to get used to new foods and new ways of eating. If you traveled or are planning to travel to Ghana take note of how many of the foods you want to jump into trying (and a rice dish is a rice dish, you can’t claim boldness just for eating a variety of rice dishes).

4. Behaviors – Ghanaians have a bit more of a physical approach to daily life and conversation.

let me interrupt this regularly scheduled program…

I am frequently asked about my experience in adopting older children. Our first adoption was bringing home a nearly 3 year old. Within a year we brought home an 8 and 5 year old. We mixed those children in with our 10 and 7 year old biological children. I’ll claim, at least, a little experience in the area of older adoptions and adopting out of birth order.

I think there are a few important points about adopting older children. People do it all the time. There are many, many, many successful adoptions of older children. There are no guarantees with adopting in birth order, nor out of birth order. Don’t avoid or jump in to an older child adoption that tugs at your heart, until or unless you do the research.

From my POV the most important factor in deciding to adopt an older child (for the sake of this discussion let’s define older as 5 and up) is, deciding if you want to parent an older child. If you have already parented a child up to age 10, then you can be a pretty good judge of what it might be like to parent a 9 year old. There is certainly support toward the success of the relationship if the parent has already parented a child through that age. But what if you haven’t parented a child that age? What if you are a first time parent, or a family adopting an oldest child into your home? I would say you have to start with the critical question, do I want to parent a child of this age and the ages to come? I think it all becomes more complicated when you first fall in love with a child (by meeting or in a photo), and THEN have to decide if you can parent a child of this age. There are certainly pros and cons to knowing the child in question, but now the question is not about a child, it’s about the child.

Hopefully a family will make this decision an informed and educated one. Ideally the family will research and spend time with some children of the age in question or with families with children of similar age. If that information is gathered and the family still sees themselves as able to do this kind of parenting, then you can consider some of the details.

In my experience there are some concerns that are more frequently brought up in these cases. One concern is the amount of trauma the child may have experienced prior to coming to your family. It not necessarily about the trauma of a particular child, but the fact that there is no way to know if/what trauma the child has been exposed to. It seems logical that the younger a child is the less trauma they have even had time to experience. Not that they wouldn’t have experienced trauma or even experienced less trauma, it’s just about the odds and logistics. Fact is, a younger child has had less opportunity to be exposed to trauma than an older child. 

The next topic that tends to come up in discussion of older children and adopting out of birth order is about the impact to younger children already living in the home. Before an adoption takes place, the family is responsible for the safety and security of those children living in the house. Before an adoption, it is the duty of the parent to avoid putting their children in harm’s way. So, if a potential adoptive family meets a child with aggressive behaviors (for example), likely the family will only adopt that child if they know they can protect their younger children. But, once the older child is adopted, the parent is now equally responsible for the safety and security of all the children including the newest members. What happens when protecting one may jeopardize the security of another? Or what happens when the parent doesn’t even know a child needs their protection? Again, there is a greater likelihood, that if an infant is brought into the family, that child will acclimate into the family in a way that is more predictable than an older child. So the hard question is: What will I do if an older child harms a younger child? How will I feel about myself? How will I feel about that older child? What will I do if the behaviors are more difficult than I predicted. Or what if the behaviors are something I never could have imagined? Where will I seek help? How will I manage?

If we look across the spectrum of success there are successful adoptions (as those might be defined by the adoptee) through disruption (the termination of an adoption). I attempted to find some statistics on voluntary termination of parental rights for biological children. Those statistics are not clear, but rather muddied with numbers where children were placed for adoption (including infants) or cases that include emancipation. If anyone runs across some clean statistics, please direct me. I think it would be great comparison to see the percentage of cases where parental rights are terminated for biological children, coupled with the number of biological children who are sent out of the home to live with extended family or even cases of custody changes within families due to the child’s behavioral issues and compare those to the number of disrupted adoptions.

Mostly I wish people would stop with the horror stories. Everyone seems to know someone, who knows someone who knows someone who adopted a child who made life miserable for the family. We also all know someone who knows someone who knows someone who gave birth to a child who gave them serious grief and may have even committed a crime or two. If we are going to live by that philosophy we should stop giving birth and adopting. It seems “adopting an older child” could use it’s own myth busters or snopes.com.

I’ve been asked a few time recently to discuss my experience in adopting older children and adopting children out of birth order. If someone is considering adopting an older child or out birth order, then investigating and doing research is a great place to start.

 There are a couple of camps of thinking on adopting out of birth order. One is that you shouldn’t do it. It causes too much disruption and displacement within the family. The other camp says it will work just fine.

I think it is interesting that there is much more caution and many more warnings placed out there in terms of international adoption. The literature reviews on domestic adoptions do not place an emphasis on adoptions as they relate to birth order. There is information about it, but in my experience it is rare that a social worker in a domestic adoption will discourage taking older children or siblings even if there is birth order displacement. But I’ve decided I want to do a little research on the matter and see what I can find.

I can speak to the short term initial transition for our additions on MegaGirl and DivaGirl. But for long term outcomes, I have to look to the research. So I hope to take my next few posts to discuss our personal transition as well as to review what I find in the research.

As I review this info over the next few posts, keep in mind MegaGirl came home at age 8, ten moths ago, and DivaGirl was 5. MegaGirl came between the 7 and 9 year old bio kids. And DivaGirl came in between 4 year old adopted (and home only 10 months at the time) and 7 year old bio son listed above. So we really shook things up. I’ll tell you how we prepared for our journey and how things have gone over the last few months.

Please share your comments or questions, I’d love to respond to them in my posts.

This morning we woke up to a slightly cold and slightly rainy morning. Aside from one other disturbing and slightly heartbreaking event later in the day, that’s as bad as my day got.

I managed to get ready earlier than usual this morning. I took ComedyBoy to daycare, he was happy to go play. Some days  he is resistant to let me go, so I was glad to see his excitement to start the day. Then I was off to work with the music loud! (and blessed with the light Friday morning traffic, so my drive was easy too).

I arrived at work and proceeded to hunt down the people for my first meeting. I say “hunt” but it was more of a “text and find”. Leave to us IT people to use the most efficient methods to problem solve, when efficiencies of basic work, like scheduling a meeting, fails. It worked out well for me, I got to miss the more technically detailed portion of the meeting and come in to ask the operational details. I like that part. Now, here’s a side bar… this meeting included a man I had never met before. But his brilliance poured off him from the moment I stepped in the room.  It happened the way Scott Adams can make brilliance pour out of Wally. Now, before you think I am speaking poorly of this man, let me assure you I am not. I mean, take one look at Wally, he is clearly a brilliant engineer. Mr. Adams chooses to show his interpersonal skills as humorous, but somewhere Wally is writing  a program that will save the world – end side bar. The man in the meeting, Mr. Engineer, knows EVERYTHING. Well, I don’t know if he knows everything, but he told us he did. And again, I am not speaking poorly of this man at all. He formerly worked for a small company, some of you may have heard of it – NASA. Now, let me make a point: I know a few people who have worked with or for NASA. First of all these are truly some of the most brilliant people with a depth of knowledge in their field which is honestly frightening to me. Another thing I have noticed is that people who have worked at NASA are very clear about the fact that they have worked at NASA, you don’t have to wonder, they are pretty clear about (and will likely tell you more than once). Well, I am going to go out on a limb here and say if I ever worked for NASA, I might brag a little too, or a lot.You must be an expert of one kind or another, or I doubt they let you near the front door. So Mr. Engineer, who worked for NASA, has a plan to save my world and my company with his amazing insights. Sounds like a plan to me. So, clearly it was my lucky day. I am just a few documents away from the roadmap to perfection in my department. Woot! Woot!

In between a few work-related emails, I had a friend of mine pop up to chat with me on line.  He is from Ghana and was telling me that he is hoping to get a van for his family. He is hopeful and said I should “keep my legs crossed that this will happen”. I explained the American difference between saying “keep your fingers crossed” and “keep your legs crossed” We had a good “lol” about it.

Off to another work meeting. A big decision was to be made. Finally it could be made. It was one of those things that was weighing heavy on me. The outcome would be good no matter what, but we had to make our way to a decision. We did. I was relieved. The decision did result in a winner and non-winner (I can’t say loser because they were so NOT the loser, just not the winner). How fun to share the good news. How not fun to tell the non-winner. UGH… who wants to go into a weekend with bad news? Did I say UGH? Well the good news is that was a milestone, and we have passed it and that means we are moving forward. I like it.

Another brief conversation with another friend from Ghana. Okay, not a friend, a sister, we will call her NurseSister. She wants to go to school to be a nurse. I want her to go to school to be a nurse. I really, really want this to happen for her. When I was in Ghana we visited the school and met the founders. We did the best we could to help to represent NurseSister. And her interview for school entrance was yesterday. We are sure she did great, but we have to wait another month before she will know if she was accepted. Sidebar: What I’ve been told is that in Ghana some people get into schools because of talent, and some get in because of “gifts”. The concept of a gift, seems like a fine line, or a really big grey area. Is it wrong to donate medicine to the hospital affiliated with the school. They are in need, they have a real need. I would donate to this hospital in a heartbeat. People have needs. Should I feel guilty to donate medicine if that means NurseSister gets a chance to go to the school for an additional meeting with the director?? Hey – the good news is, it’s my blog and my POV… nope, I don’t have to feel guilty for helping people. If I do this, then I help those who need medicine and a really smart girl who is certainly destined to be a nurse.

A few more meetings, and I am off to pick up the kids from school. Pick up two from day care, pick up three from school. Drop off two for a play date. Get home. Finish up some work emails. Start dinner (DaddyT has to finish it). Work on the budget, finish dinner. DaddyT packs up the 3 kids so we can go pick up the other 2. Play at the park. Come home. Help the girls figure out how to make the beds on their new loft beds. Come up stairs, realize I have made 2 failed attempts in the last 24 hours to start the dishwasher (yuck). Back to a few more work emails, and then read the boys a story before bed. Unsuccessfully attempt to convince SportyBoy that he will NOT have another bad dream about ComedyBoy being hurt by a bad man with a gun. 

Back to the emails, seeing one appointment to do some coaching with a friend on her work habits. Some how we believe I am able to help her manage work/life balance – maybe. And one note about a prayer time with some adoptive moms, we are going to try this via a conference call, I’ll let you know how that works out.  And then off to bed with my computer to blog here a bit before bed.  All in all, a pretty good Friday.

Good Night.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with blogging lately. I constantly find myself trying to figure out what I should share in the public domain. What’s private? What about my family’s privacy? I love to blog, and I want to share the journey’s of my family. But… how do you do that in the techno-world we live in. I can’t say I’ve found the answer. But I think I’ve found a happy medium where I can share what I have to say without invading my own privacy or that of my family.

So here I am… it’s my POV, so first I am KamiElle… no, that’s not how my name is spelled on my birth certificate, but it’s a more accurate representation of my name, so I am going with it. I’m actually considering “going with it” in more arenas than blogging. We’ll see.

I am presently the mother of 5 children. For two reasons I am going to use pseudonyms. #1, I want to protect their privacy a little as far as the internet goes. #2, I feel that decriptive names might make it easier for readers to follow. I may decide to post photos of them a little later… but for now I have: SnappyGirl (10), MegaGirl (9), SportyBoy (7), DivaGirl (5), and ComedyBoy (4). Our family’s fearless leader is DaddyT (I think it sounds nice with KamiElle). And we round out with BigDog and LittleDog (we do actually refer to them this way).

A little about us: 2 years ago we were a family of  4, today we are a family of 7. We were KamiElle, DaddyT, SnappyGirl and SmartyBoy (all made in America). ComedyBoy joined us first (made in Ethiopia) and then MegaGirl and DivaGirl (made in Ghana), through adoption. We are one big crazy, if not happy, family.

I went to school for psychology and have some alphabetical credentials in Human Development, but some how they let me work in Information Technology… if the computer can’t be programmed to run correctly, I am generally able to talk it into cooperating. DaddyT is a marriage and family therapist; I am sure I can find some blog posts to share about how that plays out in our lives.

We love Jesus, our children, and being part of a global community. We are founders in a non-profit organization I’ll call PGHcharity. PGHcharity is in its infancy, already we work with a few great causes in Ghana, West Africa. Those great causes will come up for discussion along the way in this blog.

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy the blog.

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here.

Thanks to the fine folks at WordPress for naming my first post!