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

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pooh Bear's Progress

When we first came home with Drew, he quickly became known as Mama's Monster, a name fitting of his behavior. He was the loudest, naughtiest of all of my children. He did not at times even attempt to conform. He seemed to be openly defiant, while considering his antics quite funny.

He has earned a new nickname, however. We often call him Drew Bear Pooh Bear now. He has begun to love to snuggle and be loved on. He gives sweet hugs to those who love him.

He can still be naughty, however.

We met him first, almost a week before Gotcha Day. He ran, and he played, he hit Ellie, and he ran. Oh, did we think we were in TROUBLE! He was in perpetual motion.

Not much changed after Gotcha Day. He would run from us and laugh no matter how sternly we told him to,"Stop." He seemed to find pleasure in being naughty.

After coming home, things were a little better. Not EVERY day was difficult. But several times of EVERY day were difficult. Some days held more difficult moments than others.

Six months later, I can say, "Oh, how I love my Drew Bear Poor Bear hugs!" I think I have gained much insight into his behavior.

I've been reading, "The Connected Child." It was recommended by two friends, and a third friend even had a copy. If you have adopted a toddler or plan to adopt a toddler, PLEASE read it!

I cannot say I was surprised by what I read, but it has kept some thoughts to the forefront of my awareness. I am reminded of the great struggle our children experience EVERY day as they learn to love, adjust, and bond with a new family in a new culture.

The biggest, "Oh, wow!" moment came from what I read on page 51. "We have encountered many...children who are not truly hyperactive; instead, they are hypervigilant." I have begun to notice that Drew is the most active in new situations. He is calmer when our day is following its normal routine.

When I first took him to the doctor, he became the wild and crazy monster when the doctor came in the room. He was not yelling or cryings, so I didn't recognize it as fear. Every time the doctor touched him, even just to lift his shirt, he would laugh and try to pull away.

The book also mentions sensory overload while suggesting using a soft voice, turning down the volume of electronics in the home, etc. I can REALLY tell a difference in Drew's activity level, based on the volume in a room. And.... when he is naughty.

The louder the voice that corrects him, the naughtier his later behavior becomes.

He may stop what he is doing, but in just minutes after correcting his behavior, he has chosen another inappropriate action.

Speaking softly while holding his face tenderly and looking him straight in the eye....brings the most positive changes in undesirable behavior. And, later we don't usually find him in a tail spin.

Mind you, he can still be ONE WILD MONKEY!

Like, Ellie he loves life and lives it LOUD!

He still seeks attention from negative behaviors when he thinks he needs more attention, but he is  doing so much better.

He is following the rules and school and often talks about the rules. Like other 4-year-olds, he often says, "My teacher said....." He has come quite the rule follower at times. Only one major incident has occurred at school. He um.....

hit a little girl int he face.

But, he felt his behavior was perfectly acceptable. She wouldn't share the toy.

After much discussion at home and the next morning, I had high hopes that he had learned NOT to hit at school. I was not disappointed when I picked him up that afternoon. He came running to me with his hands held high shouting, "Mommy, I not hitta girl to-day."

He was first to show affection to Zeke, before Zeke showed him much.

The first super sweet moment occurred at the beach. As the waves got rougher, Zeke had backed away from the water. Drew as not deterred, but he seemed to think Zeke should not be missing the fun. He said to Zeke, "You not scared. I holda your hand."

Six months....

Six trying months of trying days.

But six months of more blessings than I ever could have imagined.

These six months have once again show me God is...

  The Miracle of More!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Moment I've Been Waiting For: Reflections on Bonding and Attacment

Six months ago, on a snowy morning in China.....

This precious child walked into our lives.
I think of the cautious look on his face here and my eyes fill with tears. What was he thinking? What trust he was forced to place in us.
We have been amazed at how quickly a young child who lived in an orphange for six years...has learned to love and be loved.

I've waited six months for something that happened several days ago. One morning, I had given each of the boys grapes in a cup for a snack before breakfast.(I might mention that the cups were the color of their favorite Power Rangers.) The girls were sleeping late, and I allowed the boys to have their appetizers in the great room while they watched a little morning television. Meanwhile back in my bedroom, lying comfortably under the sheet, while attempting to catch a few more moments of sleep reading time, I heard words that made my heart sing.

Zeke said, "Zhuang Zhuang, you want sit by me?"

In some homes, those words might not convey the same meaning they did yesterday, but here there were deep emotions underlying the question. Zeke and Drew have remarkably blended into our family. They are tough days, but most days are good. There are tough moments in a day, but most moments in any day are good. The boys are learning to love and trust their parents, love and trust their sisters, and love and trust their extended family.

But....they only sort of....tolerate...one another.

They argue as well as any siblings who are less than 2 years apart in age. They prefer to play with/sit with/ sleep with/ eat with their sisters.

They both prefer Josie-Tatum for comfort, but prefer time with Ellie when serious playing needs to be done. Drew often grows frustrated with Zeke, but I have seen and heard him take moments when he is truly looking out for Zeke.

Zeke, however, seems regularly annoyed by his baby brother. I've never really heard him say anything nice.

So, when I heard him ask, "Zhuang Zhuang, do you want to sit by me?" I felt he was finally making a positive emotional connection with his brother.

Those are the sweet moments, like when you hear, "I luvu you, Mama." or "Sank you, Mama."

But, some moments are H.A.R.D.

Two days ago we had one of those moments. And, it was a reminder that all is not well inside their little hearts. We see them run and laugh and play and sing. We watch them go to school and say, "Bye, mama, giva me a kiss," and we think how well they are bonding.

Then, something happens.

Something snaps.

And, we remember these children have come from the H.A.R.D. places. No matter how "good" their institutions were in China, they were still not families. And, not matter how "bad" conditions might have been in their previous homes, we took them away from everything familiar. Change, even positive change, brings stressors on the body that we often overlook.

Zeke had a moment that was good for me. Not because I held a crying, screaming, yelling, sweating, kicking 6 year old for an hour. Not because he accused me of things that brought tears to my eyes or said things that made me cringe. This was another moment I've waited six months for. I've felt all along that his attachment was too easy.

He recent meltdown was good for me because it forced me to remember.

I need to remember that he has heard, "I love you," every day for six months.

But, I don't know if he ever heard, "I love you," the first six years of his life.
I need to remember that he now lives in a life of plenty, too many toys, plenty of food, lots of family, plenty of clothes.

But, I don't know how many nights the previous six years he went to bed cold or hungry.
In those sweet moments, like after school, when he sees me and he shouts, "Mama!" and runs to my arms, I am soooooooooo glad Jesus gave him to me.
But, in the dark moments, I am glad, too. I am thankful that God has entrusted us with his heart. The God of restoration is allowing us to be part of Zeke's restoration.
These six months have been quite a journey, but it's a ride I am blessed to be on!!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

We Have an Announcement

If I were Linny, I might just leave the title there and a clue...and reveal the news tomorrow.

But, I can never wait to share good news...and I have already waited a few months for this one.

I began to pray many years ago, and God has recently answered my prayer. All the years I prayed, I didn't know who I was praying for. I was trusting God the he was raising up the right person.

You've already "met" him here:

On Friday, after asking her parents' permission a couple of months ago, he presented her with this beauty:

And, as I shared with others: We have not taken a photo that reveals the true beauty of the ring. There is no photo, either, that can share the beauty of Kennith's heart. My eyes were brimming with tears as I thought of the nights I prayed, when Whitney was just a baby, praying that God was preparing the heart of the man who would one day be her husband. When I read Bible stories and prayed with Whitney and Caleb, I prayed there were two mothers reading and praying with a son and a daughter that would join our family.

God is faithful!

As a part of the engagement weekend, Kennith took Whitney to an Atlanta Braves game--not because he loves the Braves, or because he loves baseball, but because the game was special to Whitney. Whitney attended her first Braves game when she was 7 years old with her favorite uncle who passed away 7 years ago. When she went with Uncle Wayne to the game, it was the rookie year of Chipper Jones. She has been a Chipper Jones since, and she wanted to see him play again during this last year of retirement.

It was a special ending to a weekend of celebration. They were caught on camera by ESPN as Whitney held up her, "Chipper, you will be missed," sign. And, they were caught on the Jumbotron as she held a sign that said, "I said yes."
Welcome to the family, Kennith. Continue to love my first born well.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Monday Morning Madness

This is one of those moments when, as a mom, you want to record the happenings of the day so you don't forget. One of those moments when you know you won't likely relive this ever again. The children will grow. The boys' language will advance, and the whole scenario will never repeat itself.

Here it is:

I look behind the loveseat to see Josie-Tatum in the foyer leading Zeke with a green ribbon. The ribbon is tied around his wrists (loosely) and his feet (also loosely.) She has him sit down for interrogation.

She left the interrogation room to get a sheet of paper and the prisoner stood up. Ellie told the prisoner he couldn't do that.

Josie-Tatum said, "Do you want to play?"

Zeke said, "Yes."

She said, "Then sit your butt back down."

The prisoner put the ribbon back around his feet and sat back down.

The interrogation began.

"How old are you?"

Zeke: "May oh le"  (meaning all gone.)

Ellie said, "He's 6."

Josie-Tatum asks, "What's your name?"

Zeke, "You know-a my name."

She wrote his name down and asked, "Where do you live?' Then laughed out loud and said, "Oh, wait, you don't know your address." Then she wrote his address down.

The court proceedings were then presented to the judge, (Mama), and I read that he also lived in the state of California in the country of London. When I said, "California is not in London," Josie-Tatum said, "I just made that part up."

The prisoner as sentenced to 2 years in prison for the crimes of murder and stealing. He spent 60 seconds in the closet and he was released.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Living Loud! Praising Loud!

Praise Him with the loud cymbals. (Psalm 150:5)

All praise I give Jesus today needs to be loud. It was a glorious day, and at many times it was a loud day.

Most of you guessed on my previous post that "someone" was coming home. And, come home he did!

Caleb's first full underwater adventure with his submarine job is complete, and he is back at home at the base for a few months. He and Casie came in yesterday afternoon. It was loud yesterday.

But, it was even louder today!

Brandon came home. Whitney's Kennith is here. We had a wonderful family meal with all of my ducklings home today. Grandma and Grandpa were here. So was Aunt Bobbie and Moose and Broadie and Nana.  And a visit later from Uncle Sands when he came home from work. 

The boys have been so excited to have everyone here. It is the first time we've had such a crowd in our home since they've been home. (It's quite loud with just the four littles.) And, it's only the second time all of the children have been here. Easter was the last time.

The boys had their first experience watching the Georgia Bulldogs. Go Dawgs!
Zeke had heard of Georgia Bulldogs before this day. The letter of the week for kindergarten was "G." On Friday, everyone wore their Georgia Bulldog attire, and they had a tailgate party. He still has some understanding to go, though. When the game came on, Stan told Zeke, "That's where Brandon goes to school." Zeke looked at the stadium and asked, "Where his bed?"

I am afraid I am more like Martha than Mary. I must be about serving my family and don't often take the time to slow down. But, my love language is good cooking. Today, I made is simpler than usual. I put the butts on to smoke last night. Kennith and Stan looked after them during the night. Kennith made potato salad. I made macaroni and cheese. Brandon chopped the butts.....and everyone else brought the other dishes. It was a wonderful meal! And, I was not nearly as tired as usual. (Did I mention before how much we love Kennith?)

Zeke took his turn with the camera.....I won't show you all of the photos he took, but he took a few good ones.

 I do not like the smell of the slime Caleb and Casie brought the younger siblings!

And, by the time the ballgame was over, some of us looked like this:

And, last, if you're wondering how Ellie is doing.

Surgery did not slow her down.
Not. One. Bit.

She has taken to life in her brace with the same tenacious spirit as she lives the rest of her life. She is laughing, loving, and moving. God bless our girl!!!

Thank you, Jesus, for all of my blessings.

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