Saturday, September 10, 2016

Are you still there?

Oh my!!!! It has been WAY too long since my last post! I don't even know if you blog readers are still out there! 

I was inspired by friend who has a great webpage at www.arrowssentforth.com, who is also an author now!!!!! Check out her book on amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Dispatches-England-American-Familys-Adventure/dp/1533430179/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473527124&sr=8-1&keywords=nicole+wiltrout. I am so proud of her! 

Ok, so life for this René with one é has been wild per usual. The boys have started 1st and 3rd grade. I just can't believe it...I am now working full time as a faculty  member at a Doctor of Physical Therapy program in Cincinnati, and I just started the process of obtaining a terminal degree; a Doctor of Health Science. My students call me Dr. T (which I kind of love)...

Oh yeah, and my youngest still has RAD/ADHD/mood disorder/ODD/IED. The summer was hard but overall successful in that I think we made some fun family memories.

In the meantime, I am trying to figure out this whole time management thing. I really stink at it so I would love any tips!

Here a few photos of our summer and first day of school for your enjoyment. Hope to see you back here again soon!

And...my new favorite song/anthem of my life is "Thy Will be Done" by Hillary Scott. Check it out below...it's awesome!

The lyrics:
I'm so confused
I know I heard you loud and clear
So, I followed through
Somehow I ended up here

I don't wanna think
I may never understand
That my broken heart is a part of your plan
When I try to pray
All I've got is hurt and these four words
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
I know you're good
But this don't feel good right now

And I know you think
Of things I could never think about
It's hard to count it all joy
Distracted by the noise

Just trying to make sense
Of all your promises
Sometimes I gotta stop
Remember that you're God
And I am not

So
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will
I know you see me
I know you hear me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Goodness you have in store
I know you hear me
I know you see me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Good news you have in store
So, thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
I know you see me
I know you hear me, Lord

And, the song...
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwi1nqaiq4XPAhWBeT4KHcDrAbkQ3ywIHjAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DPAmh3yvmzXs&usg=AFQjCNFyLh2_t7FwMhrXHe63hCdM72Yyaw&sig2=ug5Kyi1z0M-BhoCYMFxI2g&bvm=bv.132479545,d.dmo

Love,
René



































Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's day to all you moms out there no matter what form that may take! Here is a little tribute to my mother: the best!!!!

Dear Mom,

Happy Mother's Day! These are the top 10 reasons you are the best mom (in no particular order):
1. Your compassion. If there were only one way I could be just like you it would be to show just half the compassion you share with others. From an early age you modeled for me what it truly means to "love your neighbor." I remember so many times seeing you bake delicious meals and desserts and just when I was ready to sneak a bite I learned it wasn't for me; it was for someone who needed it more than I did.
2. Your positive attitude. I can honestly say that I don't remember a day when you were grumpy. That is just incredible to me. I would describe myself as generally positive and bubbly, but I have had my grumpy days for sure! Just ask Matt :-). But you mom, I just don't recall a time when you were grumpy.
3. Your love. Mom, your love never ends for your family. I know that I can call you anytime no matter what and if I needed something you would be here as fast as you could. You have done that for me numerous times. You have traveled many states to sit with Matt during my surgeries, and have been there to help care for me and the boys after.
4. Your friendship. You are the person I call everyday no matter what. Even if we don't have anything earth shattering to talk about we always talk about something. I know that when I was younger you weren't supposed to be my "friend," you were my mom. The great thing about being adults is that you get to be my mom and my friend! How lucky am I?
5. Your role as Mimi. Wow, you are such a fun and caring grandmother to our boys. I think D asks me nearly everyday, "when is Mimi coming again?" You and Pa spoil those boys rotten, and I just love the way your eyes light up when you are with them (even when they wake you up at 445 AM!)
6. Your faith. How many times have you shared Bible verses with me under so many difficult circumstances? How often have you prayed for me and my family? Mom, you strive to be the hands and feet of Jesus everyday. I couldn't be more proud of you for that.
7. Your generosity. If you need something, you ask my mom. She will do it for you; no questions asked. You are not only generous with your finances, but you are generous with your time and with your heart. I probably don't even know half the instances you have shared your time and heart with people who needed you. That is a true gift mom, one that I strive to inherit.
8. Your humbleness. You are so humble mom. I think just about everyone in Hendricks County knows who Deedee is. Growing up (and even now) it seems we don't go anywhere that someone doesn't know you. When you retired from your role at the community foundation I was just so proud to hear all the wonderful stories about the amazing work you did during your time there. You have never boasted about your accomplishments, so I'll boast for you! You rock mom!
9. Your marriage. You and Dad are about to celebrate 50 years of marriage!!! I know we always said growing up you guys were like dinosaurs because nobody stays married that long. Well, you guys have done it. You've made it look easy. The example you have set for Matt and I is astounding. I think it's adorable how you and dad talk multiple times per day on the phone and are still so in love. I pray that Matt and I can make it 50 years God willing and still be in as much love as you and dad are.
10. Your acceptance. From the beginning before you even knew me; you had already accepted me. You wanted a baby so badly, a sibling for my sis, that you opened your heart to adoption. You accepted me in your heart before you knew me. When Matt and I shared that we wanted to adopt, and that we wanted to adopt outside of our race, you accepted our children before we even knew them. When I shared with you my desire to learn more information about my birth mother, you accepted that decision. You accepted her before you even knew her. When I told you Matt and I were going to move to the east coast, you accepted it. When I told you we were coming back and would only be 2 hours away, you GLADLY accepted it. When we learned the heartbreak of mental illness and how it has rocked our family, you accepted it. I know that no matter what happens in this life; the joy, the sorrows, the struggles, the victories...you will be there to accept it with me.

I love you so much Mom!

René

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Memories

Spring cleaning time at our house, well, really when you are married to a Thomas it's cleaning time all the time :-). Anyway, I came across some great videos I thought you would all enjoy! If anything, you are guaranteed to smile...meanwhile, I'll be in the corner in the fetal position wondering how my baby is about to turn 6 years old while my other baby is plowing through Harry Potter books like it's his job at 7 years old!?!

video

That belly laugh, the hair, I just can't take it!!!!



video

Oh the singing, the hair (again), the brotherly adorableness!!!!

I could go on and on, but alas, back to cleaning up around here. Spring is just around the corner! I can hardly wait, and less than a month until Kings Island opens!

Love,
René


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Just breathing...

Hello my lovely blog readers! I'm so sorry for the LONG break since my last blog. I just have been taking a breath.

Life here is so complex, I never know what to expect day to day. Mental and behavioral illness consumes my world. Keeping up with the boys while trying to be the best daughter to God, and amazing wife to Matt, and the best mom...well, you get it!

Anyway, I'm incredibly happy to report we are still out of the hospital!!!! By no means does that mean things are all happy go lucky and super easy...not at all, but both my boys are here under our roof and that is a huge blessing.

I am trying so hard this year to TRUST. That is super hard for this super duper control freak. I have got to admit though that as I consistently try to trust, and when I completely let go, I have felt such PEACE. PEACE!?! That is not a word I would use to describe myself or my family.

Trusting for me looks like this: not knowing what each day will bring but starting each day with prayer and a positive outlook, using respite care 2 Saturdays/month for D despite wanting him here with us but knowing what I want isn't necessarily best for him or what he needs, going to work on Sundays and not being consumed by thoughts of if the guys are ok, attempting our first time away from the boys as a couple for more than one night in April to attend Choose Joy while our parents graciously care for the boys, and possibly (hopefully) pursuing my dream of achieving a terminal degree to one day be a professor at a physical therapy program!!! Whew, that was the worst run on sentence ever (sorry for all my teacher friends out there).

Trust is not easy for me, so I continue to just breathe. When I feel the anxiety creeping up, I just breathe. I look to my bracelet that says "trust" and say a quick prayer. Just breathe.

When the behaviors flare that scare me to my soul that we are headed to the hospital again, I trust and breathe. When T just had a bout of pneumonia and terrible asthma, I trusted and breathed.

I am also "breathing" in another way. I'm taking a break from social media. Social media has been wonderful to stay connected to friends that I don't get to see as often as I want. Social media has been a blessing and opened up a whole new adoption community that I didn't know existed. However, I feel that social media might be interfering with my ability to trust and breathe. I am going to be more intentional with my time that I would have used on social media to trust, to simply enjoy my husband and our boys, to enjoy our community, to breathe.

I certainly will miss seeing photos of my family, friends, and their kiddos, so hint, hint, email me photos at rene719@hotmail.com.

Thanks for hanging in there with me and our family through our RADical journey. I'm hoping to blog more about what's going on with us!

Happy Saturday!

Love,
René with one é

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Don't talk about that...

The holiday season is among us again, which for our family has sucked for the second year in a row. IED, RAD, ADHD, mood disorder among other things have once again drained the life out of me. I don't mean that in a harsh way, it's just the way it is. 

I'm striving to be the hands and feet of Jesus; but this isn't how I planned on trying to do that!!!! 

I share about these experiences to help others who may be experiencing something like this, and quite frankly, it's a topic that NOBODY talks about. Mental health issues in general are so "hush, hush." If there is one thing I have learned it is that mental/behavioral health issues are just as severe and impact a family as much as physical health issues. Often times, mental/behavioral health issues are invisible to others though. This makes the situation even more challenging and very isolating.

Our holiday season kicked off amazingly well with an amazing opportunity for our family to be served via the Andy and Jordan Dalton Foundation. Check out their website at www.andydalton.org. I think the video that was on NFL network is still there and you can catch a glimpse of our handsome guys. It was an incredible night for our family, a gift from God. So amazing that the foundation recognized the impact of mental health issues. Anyway, we met Andy and his awesome wife, Jordan, they were so down to earth and super caring. They both are Christians and you could see the light of Christ shining through them both. I could go on and on about this night, like the boys playing Madden with Andy Dalton, Andy Dalton helping Dez do a connect the dot, the presents, well, you get the picture. It was a RARE night where the 4 of us had a genuinely good time together without any violence or aggression. 

Then, the turmoil started to rear its ugly head. It's always under the surface, but things started to bubble up. Our once fairly "routine" life became ugly, chaotic, and generally not safe. I still cannot wrap my head around the anger and rage a little 5 year old can feel. It breaks my heart for him over and over. It breaks my heart for T and our family. At this point, I want to again express the undying gratitude I have to D's birth mother for choosing our family to parent him....I will always feel unconditional love for her. However, when I am completely honest and raw, I also feel anger about what D may or may not have been exposed to, what happened to cause him to feel such rage, and so insecure with what seems like an inability to achieve any relationship deeper than surface level even with the people he loves the most?!?

The turmoil bubbled over to a point where things were not safe. D once again embarked on a journey leading to an 11 day stay in the hospital. I don't want to give many details here other than it was an exhausting time; Matt and I faithfully visiting twice per day; our youngest not present in our home for Christmas morning; missing out on visiting with family and friends; leaving your 5 year old behind (again) not sure when he would return....

The super challenging part about all of this (besides the obvious) is that from the outside in, this whole thing is "invisible" to everyone. From the outside, like at school, at the hospital, D seems like a completely normal boy. He was the "star" patient on the unit. Following directions, very polite, and basically perfect in every respect...until we would visit. It is something I cannot wrap my head around and quite frankly just don't understand. I have witnessed a child hitting him and yelling at him on the playground and he just takes it with no response. You close the door at our home and it's completely different.

We are so happy to have our little guy back just 2 days ago. He walked into a ton of presents under the tree waiting for him, and a super happy big brother! It does feel like walking on eggshells waiting for the next explosion. We are praying that some changing of medications along with coping strategies will be successful for our family and for D. School will be resuming soon which will be great for D and his need for routine and structure. We are also praying that the next few days will be good at home as a family of 4. It is a bit of a "danger" zone as there is basically no structure or routine. I implement as much structure/routine as I can, but it just isn't the same as what he needs and craves. 

D (and T) are amazing little guys. D has the sweetest soul. I continue to fight to bring it out in him. I continue to pray to God multiple times a day for D's healing, ongoing patience and strength for me, gratefulness for an incredible husband who is my rock and an incredible older son in T who has to be the MOST patient person I have ever met. 

I will say it again: love is not easy. Unconditional love is even harder. We live with the physical scars of the cost of our unconditional love. There isn't a clearer example that I can think of in regards to Christ's love for us. I see it visibly everyday in our home.  

Happy New Year to you all! Praying 2016 would bring our family more answers to prayer and a safe year!

Love,
René


Friday, November 13, 2015

National Adoption Month


It's that time of year again, National Adoption Month. I wanted to take this opportunity to share my thoughts on some of the most common questions I get asked in regards to adoption. Please remember these are my opinions only and each adoption story is different!

The following questions are in no particular order, but very common:

1. Why did you guys choose to adopt? To be completely honest we didn't choose adoption; adoption chose us! I was adopted as a newborn and have experienced first hand the amazing blessing it has been in my life so it was always in my mind that we would adopt children (even before I met Matt).

2. What happened? Why can't you have children? Very personal question; but yes, I do get this asked of me. Depending on the scenario, the "tone" of the question, my answer may vary. I have endometriosis and suffered for many years with severe pelvic pain, extremely heavy periods, and missing work/school monthly due to the symptoms. After lots of frustrating searching for a doctor who understood what was going on I went down the road of 5 surgeries (maybe 6) since 2007. At age 29 I had a complete hysterectomy including the loss of my ovaries. I recently had hopefully my last pelvic surgery cutting a nerve out of my lower abdomen to diminish the pain. So far, so good...anyway, as a couple we went as far as seeing a fertility doctor but no fertility drugs were taken. This particular doctor performed one of the above surgeries and in the recovery room "guaranteed" a pregnancy within the following six months. That never happened. As a woman I felt such a strong desire that I was supposed to get pregnant; that's what women do. Our bodies are built for pregnancy. After about what seemed like the millionth negative pregnancy test while it seemed that all my friends and family were getting pregnant, I literally fell to my knees in our kitchen and lost it. I cried out to God in anger. I screamed, I clung to Matt, I felt complete devastation.

However, God was making it clear to me that we were to start the adoption process right then...it was time to stop dreaming of having children both ways-biologically and through adoption. Look how amazing my life had been up to that point through adoption. Matt and I were ready to be parents so it was time to take the next step.

3. How did you choose your adoption attorney? It was pretty straight forward for us. My dad is an attorney and he recommended our adoption attorney to us. As a matter of fact our adoption attorney interned for my dad's law firm when he was first out of law school.

Our attorney, Kirsh and Kirsh (www.kirsh.com), specializes in domestic newborn adoption. Later down the road, they also provided an intermediary for me to help me reach out to my birth mother (closed adoption). More on that later.

I will say there is a lot of controversy surrounding agencies, attorneys, etcetera...I believe you have to choose for your family what the best fit is for you.

4. What happened after you chose an agency/attorney? After you select an agency/attorney the home study needs to be completed. Each state has different regulations as to what they may require. We adopted our children from Indiana where we lived. The following requirements were included (if I can remember everything): disclose ALL financial information, medical visits, written autobiographies basically describing everything about yourself, literally everything, a visit to your home by the social worker (which we got verbally warned for not having a fire extinguisher in our kitchen), verbal interviews, fingerprinting, and then the hardest part-your "dear birthmother" letter. After you get ALL of these things done, you wait...

5. How long did you have to wait? For T, our total wait time from completion of our home study to having him in our arms was about 7 months. For D, our total wait time was about 2-3 months. Each scenario was different. T's birthmother chose us after we had been waiting about 3 months. He was born about 3.5 months later. D was a surprise baby! We literally didn't know about him until the day he was born!

6. Do you know the boys' birth mothers? Open adoption has a very wide spectrum. Usually the birthmother chooses what degree of "openness" she wants. For T, we have the most restrictive degree of an open adoption. We never met her in person; however during the first 5 years of T's life we sent pictures and letters regularly through our attorney's office. I continue to send photos yearly as well; but that is our choice.

D's situation was different-I do not want to get into many details for this story is his story as well. I will say that I will never forget the look of loss that I witnessed. It was something I will NEVER forget. We have the same degree of openness as with T's birthmother. Letters and updates sent through our attorney.

These two women...I cannot express the deep feelings of awe, gratitude, and unconditional love that I have for them. Literally those words sound cheap and not nearly enough. I pray for these two women daily. There is NOT one day that goes by that I do not think of them. These women gave me the one thing I so desperately prayed for and I will always hold them in my heart and my prayers.

7. Why did you choose to parent children from a different race? Why not? I don't mean that flippantly, but after we met with the attorney and that option was presented it seemed pretty clear to us. However, we didn't jump into that decision lightly. We prayed about it, thought about it, and realized that this is what God put in our hearts. If we were presented the option of a birthmother of a different race that liked us we definitely would consider the situation. As a matter of fact we decided to only be open to infants of another race.

8. What was the hardest part of the process? Not being in CONTROL! I am a total control freak, and just the complete loss of control, not knowing when we would be picked, if we were picked would she change her mind (yes, it happened to us), how will we come up with the money, should we get a room ready for a baby we were only dreaming of, can I handle this emotional roller coaster?

9. What was the most surprising? I think most surprising for me was the instant way I became a mom. I had prepared the house, read tons of books, had all the equipment ready, but that moment I became a mom...I can't even describe it. I have heard that women who are pregnant at the end of pregnancy are up a lot during the night going to the bathroom. Up until the moment T was born I was sleeping 8-10 hours per night, my life was about me, it was about Matt and I as a couple, all of sudden my life was about someone else! Talk about exhaustion!!!! Of course part of it was that I had dreamed of being a mom for so long that I just wanted to stare at him, I didn't want to forget anything!!! I was so nervous to hurt him while diapering him after his circumcision that for the first 2-3 nights at home I was going through about 10 onesies per night!!!! My mom showed me it was ok to put the diaper on tight and that I wouldn't hurt him :-).

10. How much does adoption cost? This varies from state to state and depends on the attorney/agency fees. I also am just discussing domestic infant adoption. I know nothing about foster to adopt or international adoption. I can certainly lead you to resources to help you answer those questions if you want.

Matt is "in charge" of finances for our family and I am terrible with numbers. I want to say each adoption cost an average of $20-$25K.

There are many resources available for adoptive families, and I urge you to look into those resources. Do not let the $$$ scare you away from adoption. If God has placed it on your heart, go for it with all your heart!!!!

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This is just a very general overview of adoption. If you have more specific questions please let me know. The purpose of this blog is to advocate for adoption; to share some of my personal journey with it. If you are aren't interested in adoption, that's ok, but if you know someone who is adopting help them! That doesn't have to mean financially. Prayers are amazing, meals are amazing, offering a listening ear. Remember that this is a stressful time for the family, you can't imagine the waiting part, and all the emotions that come along with it. It's OK to ask questions but just think about the question before you ask it.

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Adoption is hard, adoption has presented unexpected, unplanned things for our family, adoption is unconditional love. Just as Jesus loves each of us unconditionally I strive to love each of my children unconditionally even on those days when I am questioning "why me? why him? I'm not strong enough for this. Why do I still feel a sense of sadness/loss that I couldn't physically carry a child in my womb? Why does D suffer the way he does? How bad did I screw up this mom thing today?" Here's the answer:

Jesus loves me, He loves T and D, He loves Matt, and he LOVES adoption!!!!

Have a great weekend, and lets be advocates for adoption!

Love,
René


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Back to the OR...again

That's right, I'm headed back to the operating room this coming Tuesday. After having 5 previous pelvic surgeries you would think I wouldn't have those nervous butterflies in my tummy but they are there flapping their wings.

My last procedure was in 2012 and my pelvic pain has been OK but has flared up pretty badly within the last 6-9 months. After a trial of 3 injections into a nerve in the pelvic region (the ilioinguinal nerve for those anatomy nerds like me), my pain has improved significantly after each injection. Therefore, we are going ahead with a neurectomy Tuesday which should resolve my pain. No guarantee of course.

This is another operation, another time of anesthesia, another period of recovery. I'm so thankful for my mom coming to stay with us for a few days. Please pray for my surgeon, anesthesiologist, all hospital staff, Matt, T and D, my mom, and for me over the next few weeks. Recovery will be difficult with lifting restrictions among other things while I am healing.

Of course one of my biggest concerns is for D. Any change in his routine is SO difficult for him. Behaviors have been off the chain lately and I know this will be difficult for him. He still wants to be hugged, picked up, and carried especially after a time of rage. I pray that he will understand that mommy can't pick him up and we will find other ways to soothe and provide comfort for him.

A special shout out to my amazing husband, Matt. I am quite confident 12 years ago when we took our vows for "sickness and health" this wasn't what we had in mind. He has been with me through every procedure, helped care for me, and since we brought the boys home has really stepped up to take care of all the "normal" day to day activities after a time of surgery and recovery. I have to admit there is definitely a guilty feeling for having to put him through this again...however, he just smiles and says "It will all be ok babe." I am BEYOND BLESSED with Matt.

Thank you for your prayers!

Love,
René