Why We Call Our Blog the Miracle of More

The miracle is a beautiful image of Ephesians 3:20--more than I can ask or imagine. Every day is a miracle. Every moment is a miracle. Specifically for our family, the miracle of more is our family growing in ways I would never have imagined when we first committed to adoption 8 years ago. But, the greatest miracle is the change in ME!

If you have questions about adoption, our work in South Africa, or spina bifida, please email me at rbmattox@bellsouth.net

Saturday, April 26, 2008

More Happenings This Week and PROM

Everyday with Ellie, I feel more and more blessed to be her mother. She enjoys life, and I learn to enjoy it more with her. She loves to be outside, to flip and spin, which is hard with a walker, but you'd never know it watching her.

On our way to visit with the SW this week, we stopped at a rest stop for a planned visit with friends. The picture above is Ellie blowing bubbles with grace.

And, the handsome fellow below is Samuel! Isn't he precious. He's from Vietnam, and has just been with his family for 2 months. It was great to finally get to meet him.

When we were at Chic Filet, Ellie had the playground to herself. She was happy to play "model" and let me take lots of pictures.
Oops! Turn your head.

And, here is my handsome Brandon. Tonight is prom. Isn't he dashing? Of course, his date is beautiful, too.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

God is Good!

My Beloved Family!
We had our six months post placement visit. This is the family photo we made. I am reminded of my blessings. Ellie was such a "hoot" while we visited with our SW. She walked around Chic Filet with her walker, saying hello to people who spoke to her, stopping to tell me things. Every lovable part of her personality was shining!
Other April Happenings
A home my grandmother once lived in is a preserved historic site. Her parents were tenant farmers. We recently held a family reunion there, and I took the girls' picture on the front porch of the home. If you 're ever in south Georgia, visit Obediah's Okefenokee, and you'll walk in the house where my grandmother lived, and my grandfather proposed to her on the same porch where my girls are standing.

I couldn't get both of the girls smiling at the same time, so here are 2 cropped pictures.

Last summer, when Josie-Tatum and I were picking blackberries along the side of the road, we talked about Ellie. We talked about how she would be with us the next blackberry season. We made jam. I see now the blackberry bushes in bloom again, preparing to produce fruit. Last summer, I made jam, thinking of Ellie. Now, she's eating the jam with her cream cheese and bagle. I think she enjoyed it. What do you think?

Ellie enjoys hiding her eyes, turning her head, and other pranks when I try to take her picture. This is a cropped shot. There were others in thr group. Ellie had taken the hair piece and framed her face. You can see by the smile she was proud of herself. She is so full of personality.

While we had already celebrated the boys' birthdays at Longhorns' Steakhouse and a day at the beach, we had another celebration on Caleb's "real" birthday. He wanted his grandparents, Aunt Bobbie and cousin Joshua to join him on his birthday. Here is a picture of him with his baby sisters.
And, the same Aunt Bobbie who traveled all the way to China with us, who was a saint and stayed in her room so I could try to foster attachment with Ellie, who entertained Josie-Tatum when I was napping with Ellie, the same sister who wrote in the sand a message for me last summer that said, "Good morning my sister. I love you!" when we were waiting for Ellie and I was so discouraged.....
This same sister gave Caleb and Brandon special gifts for their birthdays.....a treat bag filled with sardines, vienna sausage, candy bugs, and candy eyeballs. Gotta love the picture! (There was cash in the bottom of the bag.)

A more attractive picture of Caleb and his girlfriend........

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Thoughts on Bonding and Attachment--Six Months Later

I never knew how much rejection I could feel from a 2 year old. I had the knowledge I needed to prepare myself. I thought I was prepared.

I have learned that your heart can hurt terribly even when your head knows better.

I have learned that a 2 year old can unintentionally hurt the feelings of a 43 year old.

I have learned how hard it was for Stan, when we adopted Josie-Tatum, and she attached to me exclusively.

I have learned that it is easy to get "caught up" in a medical condition and lose sight of the child.

I have learned that some miracles take time.

I talked with a friend after we'd been home just a few months. She, too had adopted a 2 year old. We discussed the differences in our most recent adoptions from our first adoptions. Perhaps it takes longer for parent and child to bond, when the child doesn't need the parent so much. Josie-Tatum couldn't yet walk, wasn't yet talking, still took a bottle. She needed me for her basic needs, and she knew it.

Ellie couldn't yet walk, but she had learned how to be independent in spite of that. She could feed herself, and she could talk, even though we had no idea what she was saying. She was independent enough to think she didn't need me, though I knew she did. While her independence will help her overcome many obstacles in life, it hindered our bonding process.

I was sometimes surprised at the great effort I had to put into loving on her when she pushed me away. Amazingly, the adult human spirit is NOT drawn to love on a child when that child is not returning the love. That does not mean I did not love her. It was just hard sometimes to be affectionate.

I want other adoptive parents to know that attachment and bonding can be a struggle.

But, I also want them to know it will happen.

We've been a Forever Family 6 months today! I am amazed at how much Ellie has changed, how much I have changed. I am overjoyed to see her when I get home from work. (The feeling is mutual.) Yesterday, Ellie said, "Will you play with me, Mama?" I'm sure you know my answer.
Yesterday, it felt so good, just to have her sit in my lap. Yesterday, she felt like my little girl sitting in my lap. Six months ago, while I was so glad to be holding her, it felt like holding a friend's child.

Ellie loves hugs and kisses, and gives them more freely than most children. She loves her mama more than I thought she might. She even wants my help at mealtimes now, even when she doesn't need me. Sometimes, I think she is reverting to some immature behaviors, but I also think that is good. It allows me to do for her what I could have done for her when she was younger.

I am growing to enjoy bed time more and more each day. At bedtime, Ellie, Josie-Tatum, and read stories together. Somehow a little play time comes in. It's followed by prayers, hugs, and kisses. It is such a blessing when Ellie keeps pulling me back to her to get one more hug. She is really learning what it is like to be part of a family.

I love to hear her tell others, "Thisa MY mama." "Thisa MY daddy." "Thisa MY sister."
My daddy loves to hear her say, "This MY yeye. MY grandpa." She is learning that she has a family that is HERS. She is learning what it is like to truly belong.

And, as that happens, the meltdowns are fewer, the power struggles are fewer. I can ask her to do something, and, when she obeys say, "Thank you." She readily says, "You're welcome." She has a desire to please her parents that is sometimes stronger than her desire/need to have control.

And, I am so glad, God, in His infinite wisdom, made Ellie a part of our family. I cannot imagine going home today and finding her not there. I can't imagine Josie-Tatum without Ellie to play with. I can't imagine not hearing her shout "Let's go Brandon!" at soccer games. I cannot imagine not hearing her say, "I love you." I can't imagine my home without her giggles. They are contagious. She is loud, and she is loving, and she is AMAZING.

Thank you, Jesus, for 6 months! I look foward to the rest of our lives!
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Ellie Min Chun

Ellie Min Chun
Josie-Tatum's MeiMei