Monday, December 27, 2010

A Christmas Story

Having computer difficulty again, and plan a more personal post within the next few days, because we had an amazing Christmas.  But for the time being I want to pass this story on:

Saved By Christmas

It is an adoption story.  Alot of God in this, as there is in so many of our own stories.

The really good news is that Ava has been out of the hospital for 10 days.  This is the longest stretch she has had since all this started 3 months ago, and for this I am so grateful.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Saturday In The Park

Just pictures today.  That's all!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Longing For Normality

The last few days I have been a little frantic when I have not had my camera on me to catch the "normal" moments in our lives.  Like the other day at the park, where all three little kids were just acting like kids, playing, getting along with each other, and having fun.  I want to remember these times, as they are interspersed into what has become the chaos.  Although I have to say that even the chaos is becoming routine.   The only thing that changes is that every time Ava goes off the deep end, she pushes the envelope a little harder.

I sort of alternate between recording these incidents either on our yahoo group or on this blog.  Why, you might ask, would I do that?  Well, I am learning that documentation is very important, and these incidents are so compressed that it is easy to get confused in having to remember facts.

So, as of today, we are on hospitalization #7 since Sept. 24, 2010.  She lasted 4 days out this time, although technically she could have been readmitted the day after she came out, if the insurance would have allowed it, which they wouldn't.  Because she says she hears voices telling her to hurt herself and other people.  Despite this, we were able to keep her stabilized for several days, which was good, we were able to make some progress in getting her help.  Although my meeting with the school last month was difficult, the worthwhile result is that there is a team of county educators with resources looking for good solutions, and working hard at it.  So there is progress on that front.  She managed to get in a really good session with her therapist who is addressing her attachment issues.  But by Friday, she was crumbling, and I was surprised we made it to Saturday afternoon.  Behavior progressed typically:  wanted to go shopping when the plan was to stay home and get the Christmas tree up.  That set her off, she started agressing pretty severely on Elle and Stevenson which led to  me locking them in the house and me staying outside with her.  Started throwing rocks at me and at the house.  I called 911 (I just got my windows replaced, and I just was not going there again!) She went out in the middle of the street.  I asked her if she knew she could get hurt that way.  She took off, running down the middle of the street.  I started following her when I realized she was going to keep going.  A jeep was coming down the street towards her, she would not get out of the road.  The jeep stopped.  She stopped.  I got back on the phone with dispatch and asked them to hurry.   When I walked past the jeep (a very nice couple) they asked if there was anything they could do, I said thank you, no, I had the sheriff's office on the phone and they were on their way.  Once I got past the car, Ava started running again, west towards the railroad tracks and the Atlanta Highway,  (Yes, that very same Atlanta Highway the b 52's sing about in "Love Shack") a busy place.  As I told the dispatcher, not good.  But every time I would start to run after her she would take off running, so we just walked and walked at a fast clip, she was about 50 feet ahead of me. We walked about a 1/2 mile.  She crossed the railroad tracks and started walking along the Highway.  I was gaining on her, and she kept looking back at me, but she was letting me catch her.  Dispatch told me to stay on the phone.  I was able to grab her just as she tried to jump out in the road.  The sheriff showed up about a minute later.  She resisted him and he put her in handcuffs and down on the ground face first.  She refused to walk to the police car and tried to kick the officer.  She did not have her shoes on, just socks, and her feet were soaking wet and it was cold too.  Finally the ambulance came, and off she went to the emergency room.  She ended up having to be restrained there too, because she demanded food when she got there and wanted the TV on and did not get immediate gratification.  I left the room after she spit on me.  She calmed down after the therapist came and talked to her. She did apologize for spitting on me.  9 hours after entering the emergency room they packed her up to go to the psyche hospital and hour and a half away.  She was very unhappy about this.  The nurse told me this morning she cried herself to sleep.  The nurse just called again.  She is uncooperative and aggressive this morning as well and has already had to spend some time in the 'quiet' room.

After the first of the year she goes into a residential program for (hopefully) 30 days.  I don't think that is enough for her, so this is what I am working on, getting her funded for a program that will be more concentrated and long term than that.    Despite conditions at the orphanage, I honestly believe that Ava's biggest problem is her separation from her first family and extended family, whom are now exalted in her mind.  She can't let go and move on with her life.  She is literally sick with grief.  The psyche eval should answer the question as to whether or not she is disordered in addition to that.  She is a very sick little girl, which she is in complete denial about.  She is in so much pain, she will do just about anything to get out of it.  She wanted drugs at the emergency room, but fortunately, that did not happen this time.  Her thought process is that the pain is so great (all the time) that she is up for killing herself to kill the pain, even though she does not really understand what that means.  She is also out of school now, because she is freaking out the other kids. She is home bound. (When she is not hospitalized)  I am off work until after the first of the year.  So yes.  I am longing for normality.  For me, for Ava, for Lucas, for Elle, for Stevenson.  I don't see it on the near horizon.  But I am unwilling to give up on my girl.


Before all this occurred yesterday, we had a pretty normal time at the Christmas Parade.  I just bought a new camera, which I am so jacked up about!  (Good-bye Kodak Easy-Share and good riddance!)

what a face!

Santa Claus

Harry Dawg

friends from church

waiting for candy!
So yes, this is the normal, juxtaposed against the abby-normal.  And right now, this is my life.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Ava is home again.  As of last night.  I have not had time to update here much, but about 48 hours after her last release she was rehospitalized.  That was last Thursday.  She came home from that stay angry and defiant, and by day two we were in deep water.  It ended after she crashed my front window with a rock, the flying glass missing Stevenson and Elle's heads by about 12".  I called the sheriff and the ambulance and this time she went to the emergency room willingly.  She did not stay there willingly, she tried to walk out, which ended badly involving hospital security, about 6 personnel members, bed restraints and a sedative.  Not to mention another hospitalization.  Perhaps I have just grown cynical, but to me it seemed like she was an actress on a stage.  She knew what would happen when she did all those things.  The hospital has urged me not to re-admit her, but to use the Juvenile Justice System instead next time.  No one says 'should it come to that' anymore.  I think we all know it will come to that again, it's just a matter of time.  Do I think Ava will benefit from the JJS?  No.  But maybe yes.  She is sick and possibly even dangerous and needs  long term residential treatment. That is her best hope.  Going thru JJS may be the only way to get that for her.  My upgraded insurance, when it kicks in (January) will only cover 30 days once a year.  30 days is not going to be enough time to turn her around.  First of all, because she is not really interested in changing her behavior.  And she likes being the center of the drama, which she certainly is. She is pretty much non-functional.  She cannot function properly at school or at home.  Well, she can for awhile.  Till she blows up again.  For her, it's all about control.  This is how she controls everybody, and it's pretty effective.

Elle said something to me the other day that was revealing for so many reasons.  She told me it was my fault Ava was in the hospital. After I recovered from my shock I asked her why she thought that.  She said I wanted to put her in there.  I assured her that was not true, and asked her again wny she thought that.  She said that I say things that I know will make Ava mad. In other words, I don't let her do what she wants to. I let her know why, I draw a line, a boundary.

I tried to explain to Elle what I do and why I do it, but not sure that got thru to her.

Let me clarify:  I generally work hard not to escalate situations.  I've gotten alot better about not yelling, about talking calmly, and sometimes when Ava says really outrageous things I ignore her because I know what she wants is a reaction. Often that escalates her to more outrageous behavior and ends up having to be met with limits.  Like restraint, or police, or ambulance or hospital.  Elle's comment made me wonder how much Ava was placated in Haiti.  Not so much at the orphanage, but at home.  She is very grandiose.  She expects compliance.  She is outraged when she does not receive it.

Right now she is walking around in kind of a bubble.  She is happy to be at home, but she is not willing to change her behavior or thinking.  She is tolerating my rules for now.  I talked to her about the JJS.  I told her that she might have to go there instead of the hospital next time, and she does not care.  She is very naive about what that is all about, and does not hear the facts.  She is in a bubble and she thinks she is bulletproof.

I am desperately worried for her and her future.  It's also difficult to attend to the other's neediness when she is taking up all the space, and unfair for them too.   I am being held up by a power greater than myself, I can assure you, and that is what keeps me moving forward in a mostly rational manner.  So if you are a prayer, please continue.  Please continue for all of us.  Thanks.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

We March On

We have been very busy.  Admittedly, I have been very stressed.   Ava is once again in the hospital in Atlanta.

One of the things we did on Saturday before Halloween  was attend a Halloween Birthday party at the local skating rink.   It was the first time my three kids had ever been on skates, and they took it on like Kamikazes.  I soon figured out I would have to get some skates too, even though the last time I did that was at least 10 years and 50 lbs ago.  Elle and Stevenson were crazy for it, and they did not care how many times they fell.  So I had to try to contain them.  Ava was more cautious, and she fell fairly early and said she hurt her wrist.  So she spent alot of time in the social arena.  She did complain to me about her wrist a few more times, which is typical for her.  I kept looking at it, but there was no swelling.  I had no doubt she'd hurt it, but it did not seem serious, just annoying, and did not keep her from enjoying her day.  I checked it the next day and the following, and still, no swelling.  Tuesday (election day) their school was out, of course I had to work.  But Ava had a therapists appointment at 10 am, and I came to get her for that.  On the way home, she said she wanted me to stay home with her, and I said I could not, I had to go back to work.  I saw the dark cloud come over her face, and by the time we got back to the house she blew.  It was another full on episode where she ran away (for about 15 minutes) and when she came back, she started throwing rocks at the house, and me when I came out to confront her.  I told her I would have to call the sheriff and she was defiant and said she did not care.  The sheriff took his time getting there, and in the meantime, she quit throwing rocks and went inside and thumped on her younger brother, sister and the two dogs.  When the sheriff got there he said all he could do was take her into the local hospital for an evaluation via ambulance, and that was all.  I said no, I would get the same results, but alot faster if I took her straight to the hospital in Atlanta myself.  Then he told me I needed to take her behind the woodshed and give her a good spanking.  I said thank you, but that does not work in her case so that was not my way.  Then he proceeded to go on about how corporal punishment was not illegal in Georgia even though the schools tried to teach the kids differently, and I said I was aware of ALL of that.

She seemed in a calm enough space, although I could tell she was not done yet.  However, I had to go back to work, so I told Lucas that if she tried anything inappropriate, to call the Sheriff Dept. back and then call me.  I was almost to work when he called me and said she had threatened to hurt him and herself with a kitchen knife, so back home I went.  With every intention of taking her to Atlanta.  On my way back, her teacher from last year called me, and when I told her what was going on, offered to come over to the house and talk to her.  This teacher has had a calming effect on her in the past, so I said OK.  Long story short, after about an hour and a half, she had Ava talking, feeling remorse, and apologising.  So I decided not to take her in, because I could tell she had turned a corner.  Inside the house I asked her if she wanted to lay down with me, which she did, then she launched into a full on grief episode, crying for her mommy and daddy. She let me rub her back and comfort her, and then I asked her if she wanted to go for a car ride.  She agreed, so I piled them in and we drove for about an hour and a half.  It was almost 7pm by the time we got home.  She asked me to put an ace bandage on her wrist so I did, hoping it would at least make her feel better. 

Wednesday the school nurse called me asking about Ava's wrist and saying her hand was swollen.  I expressed surprise, told her about the skating and no swelling, but said I would take her to the emergency clinic that evening, which I did.  The doctor put a brace on her arm after taking an Xray determined that she had no fracture.  He said it was not that unusual for a sprain to swell later due to gravity.   I was thinking too that the ace bandage might have forced it.

I could do multiple posts on my experiences with Children's Services.  But for now, just let me say that my case (alleging abuse and neglect) has been closed.  Because they finally figured out I had at least one child with severe behavior issues, I have a parent aide that works with me.  Thursday, my aid called me panicked saying someone had called in a complaint because Ava came to school with a brace on her arm.  I knew it was the school (again) and I cannot tell you how upset and furious I was at this turn of events.  I called up the school nurse who was very cold.  I was so mad I literally thought I was going to have a heart attack.

Meanwhile, Elle was having severe tooth pain.  Monday, I took her for an assessment, and she ended up going straight to the oral surgeon to get her baby molar pulled.

Not that she was real happy about that, but at least that was part of one problem solved.  (She is still complaining about tooth pain and insists the doctor took the wrong tooth!)  I had called a meeting for Tuesday at the school with the counselor and the vice principal, my parent aide, and myself.  I'd had enough.
And not only that, I wanted to talk with them in depth about what we were dealing with in Ava.  I wanted them to know that they were probably dealing with a degree of RAD as well as the PSTD and depression, and what those symptoms look like.  Particularly the manipulation.  I went armed with documentation.

However, the first thing I wanted to talk to them about was 'mandated reporting', which I understand.  Until it reaches the point of ridiculousness.  I did all the talking since they took the 5th and said they were not allowed to talk about the particulars.  You see, in Georgia, anyone can call in and say anything they want to children's services and open an investigation.  And they can keep doing it if they want to.  It can be and ex-husband, lover, unhappy employee, anyone.  They are anonymous, and they have no further duty or responsibility.  The parent, however, is guilty until you can prove you are innocent.  While this is set up to protect the children, there is obvious abuses.  The law also states that if the school does the calling, they have to have reasonable cause.  I wanted to know why they thought they had reasonable cause, but they would not tell me anything.  I pretty much told them what I thought about that, and I pretty much pissed off the vice principal from the get go.  The feeling was mutual, and it was a good thing my aide and the counselor were there because they managed to keep the meeting flowing.  I think he and I might have come to blows.  ( I kid.  Sorta)  Anyway, we discussed Ava's issues and her needs and how to get there, which looks hopelessly difficult at this point, but of course not impossible. 

It is hard to advocate for your kid.  I ended up taking all kinds of (figurative) body blows and left the meeting feeling beat up, but with some time bought.   The good news is we were able to hone in on some more resources.  In the end, at least for now, I felt they were on Ava's side.  The VP, after much hostility, claimed at the end that he wanted us to succeed.  Good.  I am going to hold him to that.

Thursday, Ava woke up and refused to go to school.  She had refused her morning meds the last 3 days.  Somehow I got her in the car (carried her barefoot, but I had her shoes with her bookbag)  She would not keep the door closed as I was driving, so I ended up having to call the Sheriff again.  By the time the officer got there we both had to restrain her until the ambulance got there.  Ava knew the ambulance driver from before, so she did at least get in willingly after he bribed her with some ice-cream.  I called off work again.  I met them all at the emergency room.  We waited 4 hours for the mental health accessor to come.  Later when the doctor told Ava she was going to have to go to the hospital in Atlanta, she went bullistic.  It took one security guard, two nurses and a hospital tech as well as me and the doctor to restrain her.  Then they had to actually put restraints on her and give her a sedative.  They did not get around to transporting her until about 10 pm so I was in the emergency room for 14 hours.  I am still exhausted.

Why do I write this stuff down?  Because so much happens all the time, I think I would go nuts if I did not attempt to keep it straight.  Also, I want the facts recorded.  I may need that in the future.

Ava's therapist says he believes that residential treatment is best for her, and I agree.  She just cannot stay on point right now, regular family life is too chaotic.  Unfortunately my insurance does not cover that benefit.  I'm working to change my insurance, which would not go into effect until the beginning of the year. And I don't feel she can wait that long.  Every time she blows up she ups the ante.   Now we have a team of agencies trying to work together to hopefully get some funding.  The hospital has agreed that she can be released to their long term facility when the funding/benefit is lined up. 

Stevenson loves his Spiderman costume!!!

Meanwhile, trying to have a 'normal life'.  Elle has been very disruptive lately.  Stevenson has tried to copy Ava's  behavior. They feel she gets all the attention, and they will do anything, including bad stuff, to get some for themselves.   And so I am trying to deal with those side issues as well.  Truthfully, I just feel tired.  But I am also hopeful that things will improve, and I have not lost my faith.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Warm-up to Halloween

Whew boy it's been a busy week-end!  Got warmed up for trick or treat with lots of activities yesterday.  Activities=LOC (lots of candy).

Elle finally got the long hair she has been dreaming of!

I think Ava may just have been happy to be at home.  She is doing well.
Great Day Out...Warm Up For The Real Thing..TONIGHT!

Friday, October 22, 2010

3 Short Weeks Ago

I took these photos 3 short weeks ago.  It was the end of summer, the end of an era.  Since then my little girl in the green shirt has been hospitalized 3 times.  She is there now.  Again.

As she says, it's not fair.  She had been home only 2.5 days.  It was not her overt behavior that got her there this time, it may be her meds.  At any rate, she reported hallucinations and auditory hallucinations for two days in a row.  This is a new one, and I'm not entirely sure it's not another call for attention.  But since she told her teacher on Thursday the voice was telling her to kill herself, she ended up as admitted, again. 

That is when the hospital staff got to see the other side of Ava, and they were frankly shocked.  She did not want to be admitted and she put up a tremendous fight.  One of the nurses escorted me ahead, as she said, she thought it might get "hard for me to watch", but I think she meant ugly.  I informed her I had seen it before, it's what got her admitted the first two times.  As we were walking down the long hallway to the children's unit, the intercom came on "Code One---Assessments!  Code One---Assessments!" and since we had just left assessments, I looked at the nurse and said "is that her?" to which she ruefully nodded an affirmative.  Then hospital personell starting flying past us in the direction of assessments.

I wished I had a team of hospital personell at my house before she was admitted the last two times.  Then I remembered, I had, the last time, it took 3 EMT workers to get her strapped on the gurney, and the screams could have awoken the dead, and surely did wake up the neighborhood.  The last thing I heard that night before they rolled her into the back of the ambulance and closed the doors was a blood curdling "I WANT MY MAMA!"

But that was then.  This was now.  They put me in a seperate  office on the children's unit.   And it was about 7:30pm so they were in the middle of family visitation.  I heard them bring her in about 10 minutes later.  Well, I heard her, let me say.  She was still screaming "I don't want to go!" and they must have taken her somewhere that was soundproof because after that it was much harder to hear anything although I heard some intermittent yelling/screaming.  The floor nurses were standing around with their mouths open, 3 of them were standing out side the room I was in, and I could see them because the room had big glass windows.  They were saying "Oh my word!" and "I have never seen her act anything like that before!"  and on, and on and on.  I finally walked out there, and of course it took them a few seconds to realize I was her mother.  I said "This is the kind of behavior that got her here the first two times.  But this time, there is a problem with her meds, and she does not want to come in, and that's why she's mad"  One nurse said "But she is always such a sweet little meek little introverted thing!"  I just looked at them, and they moved off.  And I don't care what they thought of all that.  It is what it is.  The nursing supervisor flew into the room and asked if they could have permission to administer a sedative, that she was very aggressive.  I said yes but don't give her a pill, she probably wont take it, she said no, it would be a shot.

The nursing supervisor came back in a little while later and she was still out of breath.  I could relate.  We went over some formalities, and then she said I needed to go, they did not want Ava to see me, as that would continue to upset her.  So I left.

I don't cry alot, but I do seem to weep.  As difficult as it is, I have to do the hard thing in order to have a hope that she will get better.  I hate to have to restrain her or have her restrained, and yet her behavior sometimes demands it.  She hates restraint more than anything, and I get the feeling this might go back to  probable sexual abuse.  The nursing supervisor did ask me about that again, and I told her it was very likely, so she might have had the same thoughts.

I have to give Ava credit where it's due.  In her short hiatus at home, she was very motivated to control her anger and work with the tools she had been given.  One of Ava's issues is manipulation, and the lying that comes with it.  It seems to be twisted very deeply into her pyche.  It was probably her survival mechanism in Haiti, and it probably served her well there.  Because of this, I have my doubts that the hallucinations were real, but maybe they were real for her.  She was using terminology to describe them that she had learned at her previous stays at the hospital.  These were words she would not have known/used before.  So it's just a big enigma, but when kids on meds start talking about killing themselves, you can't afford to mess around.  You just can't. 

Sorry for the downer, people.  I hope things will be looking up for us soon and I can write a happy post. Previously the staff there have told me that she is totally able to rehabilitate, it's just going to take alot of work on alot of fronts.  I needed to hear that, because sometimes it gets so hard, you just wonder if it will ever end, and what is going to happen; with her, with the rest of the family, with me.   In the meantime, I'm leaning on the Lord, and if you are the praying type, I ask for your prayers. 

Thank you.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Song Almost Heard---Passing It On

Courtney shared this from another blog.

As for me and my family, we are in these trenches. Where it will all lead, I don't know, but sometimes it just helps to share.

A Song Almost Heard

Friday, October 15, 2010

We Will Be Victorious

One problem I have with picking up blogging again is that I don't know where to begin.  So much has happened.  So, I will just begin where we are. 

Ava is currently in a behavior treatment center in Atlanta.  This is her second hospitalization in 3 weeks.  How in the world did we get here???  All I really know is that she has some very deep issues, and it is going to take alot of time and treatment to work it out.  I did go back and republish some of my private posts that I wrote 9 or 10 months ago.  As difficult as that behavior was to deal with, this has been 10 x worse. The strange thing is that for the most part, her "episodes" have been pretty dormant since that time.  A few instances here and there.  But what I see now in the midst of her completely breaking down (and acting out, sometimes violently) in front of authority figures such as teachers, principals, policemen and hospital workers is a child crying out, begging for help. It's not obvious with her anger and agression in the way, but I know she is not like that 98% of the time, and the contrast is startling.  I can't help her all by myself.  She needs, and is getting, a team.  Her barriers to acceptable behavior are increasingly being torn down.  What is left is an angry, sad, confused young girl, who is in addition, about to hit puberty. (But really, when people ask me if that could be her problem, I ask them if they have ever seen a woman go that ballistic over PMS, and they have to concur they have not.  No matter how bad it gets.  However, I concur that it could be a contributing factor) 

 She does have a diagnosis.  It's PTSD and depression.  I have a meeting with the hospital doctors today, so we shall see what else they have to say.  She will likely be released over the week-end.  Not sure she is ready, but I doubt they will keep her.  Too many kids need those beds.  When I go there, I see she is not, by far, in the worst shape.  She is not suicidal, nor homicidal, although she can get very aggressive in the midst of her episodes.  I just don't want her to get in that bad of shape, and untreated, it could happen easily.

What happened to our kids down there?  I know there were (major) issues at the orphanage that were covered up.  But some of our kids came into that place with problems, and I am not sure if she was one of them.  Elle and Stevenson were in the same circumstances, and do not have the same issues.  They have issues, of course, and I'm positive both suffered from abuse.  But they seem able to cope, to go on and be happy.  Not sure that Ava's age is the entire factor here.

At any rate, the way forward is intensive therapy, medications, and positive reinforcements such as support from extended family and other confidence builders.  It's going thru these layers inside her bit by bit.  The anger has to be dissipated in order to deal with the saddness.  Abuse issues have to be dealt with as well, which, as her therapist says, could make everything worse before it gets better.  Of course, he said that before we got into hospitalization mode.  I hope it gets better, soon.   Yes, I'm stressed out, but so are the other kids, including Lucas.

I took a demotion on my job earlier this year.  They did not take my money away, and I still have PLENTY of responsibility, but I have alot less stress, and I have much more support from the team I am working with when this stuff happens.  My boss does not freak if we have a doctor's appointment.  My boss and I are on the same page when it comes to what is really important in life.  We're both serious about business, and I want to please him, but neither of us worship our jobs.   

I do find that creating and promoting my jewelry is a great stress reliever.  It makes me excited and motivated.  Believe me, I need that right now. 

Pink Hearts and Flowers
And so, this is life right now.  I can't sugarcoat it, it's too stressful.  But I will say I refuse to give in to this evil.  We are going forward, and we will be victorious.  Victory may not look like what I thought it would 18 months ago, or a year ago, even.  But I will not give up.

Monday, October 11, 2010

How To Cope

Some of you may be aware that we have been seriously struggling lately, mostly with child behavior issues that have become severe.  I honestly do not know where all of this is going to lead, but I pray for a positive end result, and intend to start blogging again regularly.  I do not plan on cesuring my remarks, as I am so past that stage or my ability to do so.  That said, I'm still a private person by nature and do not plan to bore you with every excruciating detail.  Nor is my intention to hurt anyone.

So much has happened that I feel I will have to start with the present and work backwards.   One of my goals thru-out this ordeal of late is to get my life back.   Oh, I realize I will never get my old life back, that is not what I mean.  I mean to maintain my semblance of self, and get back parts that are essential and have been shoved aside.  Because when you live in crisis, this can happen very easily.  But I know it is healthy to maintain myself.  It is my only hope, for me, and for my family.

One major thing that I have been working on for almost a year now is the launching of my jewelry site.  Seriously, it has helped me tremendously to have this goal and work towards it, although I had to put it aside for huge chunks of time.  It has kept me focused and happy, and I plan to continue and expand my role.  But for now, I would just like to welcome you to Juxta-Pose.  I also have a blog (of course!) that links directly to the studio, but also talks about the content.  You can get to the Juxta-Pose blog with this link, or in the side-bar. 

Thanks my friends and I look forward to more communication in the near future.  I know you must be anxious for news of the children.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Heart Faces---Photojournalism

This week's photo challenge is photojournalism.  Pictures that tell a story.

I took this picture in Haiti in December of 2007, from the upper patio at Wall's International Guest House in Port-au-Prince.  The razor wire is on top of the wall that surrounds our compound.  I don't know this woman, but I know she is bringing home a feast.
Although Wall's is still viable, I don't think I could take this picture today, as that part of the building collapsed in the earthquake earlier this year.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Don't Forget

This year is more than half over, and so far it's been incredible! We are getting ready for the kids to go back to school, and amazingly, for the little kids, it is their second year! Not so much for Lucas, it is the last one for him. I'll have one in Kindergarten, first grade, third grade, and a Senior in High School.

Life is still very challenging at times. I have to ask God for strength, rely on family,friends, and church for support. I see Lucas struggling with all the changes. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed, and sometimes I even question whether or not I did the right thing bringing these kids home.

But I know the answer to that. And I also remember knowing it would be difficult sometimes. I know in my heart and soul we are all where we are supposed to be. It's just that sometimes I miss my old life because it was easier.

Then I see something like this (swiped from 'Livesay') and it removes all doubt. My rememberance comes back in a hurry. I remember to never forget Haiti.

Don't Forget Haiti: Tent City from Ryan Booth on Vimeo.

Monday, July 5, 2010


When will I start blogging again??? Soon, soon, for all 4 of you checking on us! We are well, and we have been very busy. An internet break was needed, and has been beneficial. See you soon...!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

International Adoptions in Haiti Resume?

I just recieved a note from the State Dept. saying that the issuing of Humanitarian Parole Visas for Haitian Orphans in process will come to an end on April 14, and:

"The government of Haiti has already begun accepting new documents for adoption cases and the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince has resumed regular processing."

I will be interested in seeing how this goes after all the hoopla caused by certain "humanitarian" groups.  FYI, I am done adopting from Haiti,  but have recieved many inquiries from others that are interested in it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Parents Reunited With Baby Pulled From Rubble in Haiti - Parents Reunited With Baby Pulled From Rubble in Haiti

An amazing story!
This couple was granted HP in order to be reunited with their baby.  The news conference was held at His Home For Children in Miami, the same place we picked up our HP kids....

Posted using ShareThis

Monday, April 5, 2010

Happy First Easter

It was the first Easter for all of them.  Ava helped dye the eggs the night before, and she got a kick out of that.  Stevenson picked out his suit, and he was darned proud of that tie, let me tell ya.  The girls went to the salon for the first time.  Could Elle and Ava be more different???

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Palm Sunday, Sad Tuesday.

Sunday we went to evening service instead of our regular early morning.  Usually we don't have evening service, but every other month the church has a worship service at night.  It literally rocks, off the chain! we have some very talented musicians in our church, and it's a good time.  We also took communion.  Usually Ava is in the kids service, and she had not done it before, but she and  Stevenson were with me (Elle playing major video games with the rest of the kids---go figure) and I asked Ava if she wanted to take communion and she said yes.  We couldn't leave Stevenson sitting there by himself, so I took him thru it.  I was a little afraid because he had just been whining that he was HUNGRY and I was not sure what would happen, but he did fine.  He did not ask for more bread.  He did drop it on the floor before he got to the juice, and we had to start over, but other than that he did perfect.  Being hungry, I'm sure he wondered when the heck he was going to get some real food!  Ava has been asking me alot of questions about Christianity, which is encouraging.  I have found that even though they attended church regularly and were from a devout family, they don't understand much of the concept.  She knows all about Jesus, but she's asked me several times who God is.  Also, they don't know the Christmas Story or the Crucifixtion or Resurrection or Passover either.  So....lot's to try to explain in a way that hopefully they can grasp.  Not so easy, since so much is paradox and mystery.

Overall, I feel like Stevenson's adjustment in our family has been going pretty well.  Having him here with his sisters is like the final piece in the puzzle.  It has brought Ava some peace, as well as purpose, and Elle loves having a mischievious playmate, when they are not fighting with each other.  But I have worried about him because he has been such a stoic little trooper, a tough little guy.   In reality, he is just a little child that has been thru a tremendous amount of trauma, and my gut feeling is that he has had alot of walls up.   I even think he started that as survival behavior in the orphanage.  He learned things in the 10 months he was there that he never did when he was with the girls at their birth parents. Like hitting, biting, and best of all, cussing.  The cussing is in Creole, so I don't know he's doing it until his sisters tell on him, and they always do.   He has let his walls down little by little.  This morning he had a complete melt down, the first one.  I had to drive him to school, and wait for his teacher to get there so she could take over.  He did well the first 2 weeks, but his language barrier frustrates him and I think he is feeling isolated.  And afraid.  Even though he is in a very caring environment, and his sisters are nearby.

I'm wondering if I need to take him out and put him in preschool for the rest of the school year.  Not sure if that would be good or bad, he'e be seperated from his siblings and he depends on them alot more than he would like to admit as a little tough guy.  Part of me feels like it's the trauma coming out and it does not really matter what educational setting he is in, the stuff has just gotta come out.  He brags to his sisters that he was not afraid during the  earthquake or in Port-Au-Prince in the aftermath, or on the airplane coming to Miami.  I don't believe that, but I will just have to wait until he trusts me enough to tell me the truth. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Crazy Kids, Spectacular Results

Walked outside the other day to this, and them begging me to take their picture.  So I did.  Hambones, all of them!  I noticed something else in the photos too, so I cropped it:

I love glass- reflection photography!


Stevenson was in the mood to talk the other night, so I asked him (via translater) what happened during the earthquake.  That boy laid there in bed and talked and talked and talked.  I have no idea what he said, because everytime the translater (Ava) tried to say something, he would say "Shush Ti Fi!"  The child was on a talking marathon!  It's remarkable because usually he does not say much.

After one week of school he has decided he does not like it anymore.  I think he is just overwhelmed because of the language barrier, and hopefully he'll start feeling better about it soon.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Stevenson started Kindergarten yesterday.  He looked pretty scared when I left him there with his huge language barrier, but I knew he would be OK, and he was.  For everything the kid has been thru in the last 2 months I figured this was one of the easier hurdles.  And he was pretty excited when I picked him up yesterday.  I'm sure the novelty will wear off soon :) but for now, he's good.

He is a quiet boy, well behaved, until he gets around his sisters and then they are a wild bunch, let me tell you!  After school I took him up to the church yard so he could ride his bike.  He was mad because his sisters are very fast without their training wheels, and they are also old enough to ride around the neighborhood a little bit by themselves, and he feels left out.  His time will come soon enough!

People ask me if this is just so much harder now, but so far the reality is, it's been easier since he has been here.  I know that sounds strange.  It's more work physically, keeping up with laundry, cleaning, and getting three of them up and on the bus at 6:45am, but we are jelling as a family unit; the girls are more at ease, and even though they get mad at him (alot) for little boy reasons, they love him and love to play with him and take care of him.  And so, that makes things easier.

Monday, March 8, 2010


 Just a few photos from our successful Florida trip.  You can see in the first one he is kind of shell shocked.  Ava took him out to play after about 15 minutes, and he started smiling.  By the next morning he was posing like a movie star, and he has been wide open ever since!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ti Gason

This will be a quickie.  My computer at home is down and I am at the library WITH MY LITTLE BOY! 

Late in the evening of my last post, I recieved several frantic phone calls.  I did not hear any of them because I was in bed with the girls and knocked out like a light.  Finally my older son came to the door and said "somebody must be trying to get ahold of you" was 10pm. 

It was a messege from the orphanage director...Stevenson was on the plane!!!  Getting ready to land in Miami!!!  Wait...What???

The next morning I loaded up the girls and drove to Orlando, stayed with a friend.  The day after that Ava and I droved to Miami, picked him up at the children's home and drove back to Orlando.  The day after that we drove home. 

He was so scared when he came into that room at the children's home.  Totally shell shocked.  It was great that I had Ava with me.  She started playing with him and he came out of that in about 15 minutes.  He has been doing pretty well at home.  He is very funny.  He calls Lucas 'ti gason' (little boy)...he calls the girls 'ti fi' and sometimes 'madame'.  He calls me madame, sometimes mama blan.  His heart has alot of healing to do, and I don't really think he knows what is going on.  He misses his first mama alot, I can tell.  So we have alot of work ahead of us.

I will post more with pictures, when I get my computer going again, but I just wanted everyone to know we are home and doing fine!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Double D=Drama+Delay

Delay when it comes to international adoption???  You must be kidding!!!

Perhaps you detect a bit of sarcasm in my tone. It's my latest coping mechansim.

As you may or may not know, Stevenson was on the list (or supposed to be) that went to the Prime Minister in Haiti last Monday, the 8th.  We got the call (from our internal network, not the G-Men, those guys never did call anyone!) that the signature was done, and those of us that were not in Florida already got moving.  I had a flight out of Atlanta at 8:37.  Just before I got to the airport, I received the messege that Stevenson was not coming with this group.


I was encouraged to come anyway, the feeling being that his 'problem' could be remedied quickly and he would fly out on Tuesday instead. Admittedly, alarm bells were going off in me, because in Haiti, well, NOTHING ever goes as you think it will.  However, I decided to go for it and hope for the best.  My feeling was that I had everything in place (pets, kids) and also, I would be half-way to Haiti in case I had to go that far.

His 'problem' was that the Embassy did not like his identifying photograph, and there was another boy in the group with his name.  So they rejected him.  What I found out (much) later is that it happened before the list went to the PM, but nobody knew that.  Nobody knew there was a problem until he was taken for travel that night with the other kids.  Indeed, the next day he did have his photo redone, but he still had no signature from the PM.  It took me 3 days in Florida and alot of phone calls and text messeges to find this out. Marie sat with Stevenson all day at the Embassy on Thursday, hoping the signature would come back and he would fly out, but it did not happen, and when it was said and done, she told me not to worry, but go home for now.  The Embassy was closing for 4 days plus the week-end, and so nothing was going to happen for awhile.
One good thing that happened was I got to meet, in real time, people I had 'known' for years through our adoption group, people who's stories I had followed and who had followed mine.  I got to see their kids come home.  Some of them had waited for unimaginable amounts of time.  I also filed my paperwork at the children's home where the kids are recieved.


I spent my time at the hotel trying to make contact with US officials and others who could make something happen.   The good news is that they are now fully aware of my case!  But finally I had to get on that last plane out of Miami on Friday and fly back to Atlanta, landing in a snowstorm.  I was on the road by 5:30 pm in all that lovely traffic and about 4 inches of snow with 3 passable tires and one bald one.  It took nearly 4 hours to get home, which is about 2.5 times longer than normal.  But I made it safe and sound, praise God!

Elle did fine on her extended stay away from home, but Ava... not so much.  They stayed with my ex-husband and his wife (I know, we are the wierdest family in the world) and Ava and his wife Emily did not hit it off in the long term.  If I were to give it a short diagnosis, I'd say they are both just too much alike. Both pretty much Type A personalities.   Poor Ava cried every single night for me to come home, and by the last day, she was a  pretty difficult child.

I was afraid that the rest of the week-end would be rough as a result of all that, but she just seemed happy to be home.  Saturday she would not let me out of her sight. 

So, I am here.  Waiting again, to go.

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