Thursday, December 29, 2011


    We have officially reached insanity.  Ryan and I took all 4 kiddos ice skating at an outdoor rink.  In the rain.  Without help.  En route, Ryan suggested that a trip to the dentist may be more enjoyable while I opted for immunizing them all at once...we were SO WRONG!  I know that I have not laughed this hard since BA (before adoption).  Pure joy.  The photos above are in order so that you may appreciate Zeke on ice.  It is not an exaggeration that every moment Zeke was upright, he deliberately fell.  All out, blades-up-in-the-air, arms flailing, hollering.  He would scream one of two phrases, either "Ka-pow!" or "Alvin! Simon! Theodore!"  Needless to say, it was probably one of the more dangerous activities we've done thus far, but SO worth it.  Of course, I teared up thinking about my babies in the arms of the Sisters at the Home of Hope, coming up those stairs, with their glazed eyes and flat expression...and their giggling now.
  Upon coming home, there was a lot of ugly, RAD stuff but I am thinking we had a "Ah, ha" moment with Etienne.  After some difficult disciplining, we had this talk and decided that from now on, a toy would be donated for every defiance.  
Mama: E, toys don't fill your sippy cup with water.  Toys don't hug you when you are angry.  Toys don't give you food.  Toys don't love you.  
Etienne: My family loves me.
  10 minutes later,in bed.
Etienne: Dear God, please help me not to try to hurt Zeke. Help me tell the truth, help me_______etc etc.  I want to remember that my family loves me and not my toys. Amen.
Ryan's effort to preserve this.  Note that Molly is far away from us.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The season we're in.

     I should tell you about the beauty of having all four of my babies home, in my arms, reading about the first Christmas.  The PC version of the Higgins' family Christmas would talk of how amazing our parents are (they love us well no matter the mess we are in),that our kids were thrilled at the simplicity of Target $1 bin gifts or that our hearts are on all the babies not in their mamas arms.  All this is true.  The reality is that our boys' version of "Happy Birthday to Jesus" involved telling our Savior he "smells like a monkey and looks like one too" (I'm pretty sure Jesus would laugh at that), that we already donated a few of the new toys to charity and that my favorite gift was what I gave my husband: a night of 8hrs of uninterrupted sleep in a hotel across the river.  That is real life here and now.
    This Christmas season has been a lot of struggle for Ryan, myself and our Etienne.  This is nothing new.  I am so grateful that the old testament writes of the promise of Jesus' birth, when times were tough beyond my measure, that there was and IS hope for our salvation.  I have been holding onto Isaiah 35, when  "everlasting joy will be on their heads," with the promise of Christmas.
     So we don't sleep.  The greenery has seen its greener day.  Our 3rd child lives somewhere between time out land and attached to mommy's back world.  But we are here, together and it's a season of hope, joy and love.  I don't want to be Debby Downer.  I'm just being real.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

He needed me

     Etienne had an afternoon full of workups to follow up on some of his voiding and incontinence issues and some abnormal lab values (please, don't tell me boys are hard to potty train. Duh. I live with boys.)  It wasn't much fun but at the time, it was his cup of tea to be the center of attention and his mama gave him Bubbalicious.  
   Later in the day, after all of the workups, Etienne was nervous to go to the bathroom.  Understandably.  As he sat in the bathroom, he began to hyperventilate and sob louder than I have ever heard any of my kids cry.  He wanted me to push my hand on his heart and pray with him.  As we prayed, Blake brought in his 'Baby E,' and Zeke and Molly rubbed his head.  Etienne said, "Mommy, mommy," over and over.  Ryan and I were looking at each other and we both realized that we felt like this was the first time that E had ever really wanted us.  Sure, if he skins a knee, he wants me (which even that used to not be the case), but typically, we feel like he wants attention, that it isn't a need for us.  He will ask for me when I am not around, but again, it has felt like attention seeking behavior more than anything.  In our little bathroom, with his whole family there, E needed his mama and daddy.  
     Probably, many of you are thinking I am making a big deal about another Etienne thing.  It's okay if you think that.  I know in my mama gut that we had a moment that I won't forget.  I know in my heart that his cry for me was longing for protection and security.  It was more primal and more natural.   This is a child that all day long says, "Me? Me?" when you are talking about croutons, changing the oil or Newt Gingrich; he is that desperate to be included and to have attention.  So his parents feeling for the first time that they are needed and wanted purely because they are his parents is a big deal.
     Physically, it doesn't really matter if Etienne's kidneys, bladder or pipes are working right or wrong.  God will fix that. And we will continue to find new, clever ways to ensure dryness. At the core is our boy's heart.  I love, love how God uses moments like peeing to get us a little bit closer to our boy and closer to Him.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sparkly Eyed Smiley Face Part II

     Do you see a theme here?  I can catch a hilarious face, question or commentary with Ezekiel at any given moment.  He may have started his first weeks home screaming but now Zeke is all about the laughs.  While all the  boys are getting dressed this morning, they are comparing belly sizes, color and shape.  

Etienne: What is the umbrella cord on me for anyway? 
(translation: umbilical cord, please note their mama had just delivered a baby, so the terms reflect timing!).

Blake: It hooks the baby to the mom so it doesn't fall out.

Me: (while braiding hair, turning Black Eyed Peas louder to get them moving faster AND answering a page) It also feeds the baby, and it's important for....

Zeke: (yelling, as he ALWAYS does) EXCUSE ME, MAMA! You don't even need an umbilical cord.  You feed me and you give me everything I need and my umbrella is brown and yours is vanilla.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

God vs. Community

"Little E," Etienne's birthday gift that he LOVES because "he looks like  maybe I looked"
     Truthfully, since Etienne's birthday, we have been in one of the toughest times to date.  There have been days when I literally feel like my heart is breaking.  I physically have pain and it isn't a "poor me" pain.  It's a suffering for my boy's soul.  I don't want to get into the attachment behaviors, the sleepless nights or the sad conversations we have though.
     This suffering is something I know only God can heal.  I totally believe and know and find comfort in that.  It's my own hurt that I am navigating.  If you are thinking or praying about adoption this is for you.  If you already adopted and the meals have stopped coming, this is for your.  If you have a neighbor or children that have adopted, this is for you.  It's important to know that the cute child that laughs big, smiles bigger and doesn't know a stranger could very well be a totally different kid at home.  Kids who struggle to attach and bond typically save their ugliest behaviors for their moms (I know, I know you are saying 'all kids are worst for their parents') but comparing RAD behavior with naughty-for-the sitter behavior is like apples and oranges.  So if your girlfriend, daughter-in-law or coworker is struggling with her adopted child, you can know that she is getting the brunt of the behavior.  Probably when she is alone.  And probably after that child has been an angel at a family gathering.  Which feels like salt on a wound.
     I am not asking for sympathy.  No pity!  I wanted this.  I still do.  I have isolated myself, made an island, out of selfishness.  I haven't been able to find words for some of the people who love me best.  And that is my sin.  It's two years out.  I can't remember a lot of the details of our first weeks home.  So I get that it's difficult for those who love us to understand our hurt right now.  But I am so grateful that adoption redefines community.   
     I have been blessed in my suffering because I have family that will brainstorm better absorption systems at night.  I am touched by a co-worker who says 'You are sighing a lot, are you ok?"  I am encouraged by text messages of prayers.  I am grateful for girlfriends who bring me salads, just because.   I am motivated by Zeke saying "I rang my bell loudest for Jesus!"  My strength is renewed by the writings of Isaiah, promising a savior who will take my son's broken heart and our families wounds, and redeem us.  

Friday, December 9, 2011

What I've Got

Still feeling overwhelming frustration.  So I'm doing a glass half full of perspective today.  Since adopting 2 boys:
  • I text at record speed because it's too loud in my house to carry on a phone conversation
  • I've introduced our extended family, coworkers and neighbors to a unique, East African blend of resistant ringworm  
  • This family can make dinner last over an hour or in under 5 minutes, depending on the scenario.
  • My nurses now believe it would take a fire, a kidnapped child and a woman pushing her baby out,all simotaneously, to get me "stressed."
  • At work, I can complete a pap on a patient while at least 3 children are climbing on me and still do a gentle, thorough job
  • My life is much funnier than reality TV.
  • Etienne has become an awesome filter for weeding out our true friends.
  • Ryan and I can change a kid, give a sponge bath and change sheets while half asleep in under 3 minutes.  Twice a night.
  • I have the deepest most beautiful reliance on my Creator than I ever could have had if He hadn't given me this journey.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


     We are in a valley right now and I am struggling to see the view from here.  I have come to expect some rough patches after good times (daddy home 24/7 X5! birthday parties!) but I am not sure why this valley is so wide right now.  I really feel like I am battling for my son's heart again.
     God has this, I know.  I also know that prayer is what I need. Molly, Blake, Ryan and Zeke too.  Etienne's little heart could use even more.

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express" -Romans 8:26.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Yippee for Zeke-ee!!

     The first winter for Zeke, he was trying to fight off affection and giardia, so snow was out of the question.  Last winter, he cried and cried each time he got cold.  We are talking SHUT THE DOOR this kid is out for the count crying, unresponsive with a flat affect.  We had realized by than that Zeke had some sensory deficits and extreme temperatures is one of them.  (He also flips out if clothing or shoes aren't "tight!!" so don't even think about getting him Velcro. Kid sized Under Armor is his thing.)
  Well, God always wins.  And he won the temperature battle.  The Bigs convinced the Little of trying to snowboard and he loved it! Zeke spent a good hour outside, snow boarding and doing everything a kid is supposed to do in the snow.  YIPPEE!  We love the snow around here and it wasn't going anywhere despite Zeke's protests.
PS  If you've seen our house, we have a perfect Bunny slope on the side yard that flattens out and than leads to our forest, which is a decent sized drop off.  The Entourage discovered sledding and boarding off the slope, into the forest, than used jump ropes and Blake as a human rope to pull themselves up cliff again and again.  It's one of those ideas that I know I should probably stop, but I just want to see how it plays out first... Blake reminded us that he "totally couldn't do this without my brothers."

Thursday, December 1, 2011

roller coaster ride

     Stinkin' RAD.  The reality of post adoption life is this: it's a roller coaster of beautiful highs and ugly lows.  It's long and it's two steps forward, one step back.  It's exhausting and it's not for everyone.  This post is not a pro-adoption post.  We had some great days with E and Zeke showing some attachment signs (sorry, lady who didn't get any Rwandan love) and now we are in the midst of riding another low.  This is for the mamas out there just trying to find joy after coming home.
     I know I have readers that know the old me, the BA (before adoption) Kara.  The free spirited, go getter.  I'm still there.  I just have this new purpose, this new heart, and this new love.  And it's not for my boys or adoption.  It isn't about orphans or Africa.  It's about seeking God in  every aspect of my life in levels I never knew I needed God before.  I can't get through some of these ugly days, when the things that happen in this house are too gross to even whisper about.  I can't go to work without being broken for the mamas I deliver.  I don't see Molly, Blake, Etienne and Zeke as merely  amazing kids with big hearts that I need to send to Sunday school and instill American values in.  Their hearts are at stake here.  Somewhere between Kigali and Council Bluffs, God shook the self-reliant, free-spirited me and said "Look, you can't do this.  My love is sufficient."  And than everything I thought I knew was gone.
     I desire to serve orphans in their distress.  I want to promote adoption.  But more than anything, I just want to seek God.  There aren't therapists, RAD specialists, teachers or other parents to get me through the really bad, don't-talk-about-it days.  I share this to encourage other families to do the same.  When you are suffering or ashamed that AA (after adoption) life isn't what you wanted,  know that your purpose here with your child is so much bigger than you ever imagined.   It's okay to lament and it's okay to cry.  Even in front of your new kids.  That is exactly where you will find Him.  And to all those who think "this is what you wanted;" you are  right and I have so much more.