ok let’s start this up again……let’s raise a few bucks to get Caleb HOME!!!!

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I don’t do fundraisers.

I don’t like them, for the most part. Too many people are just setting up go fund me accounts and expecting everyone to throw in some bucks to save the poor lost orphan. LOTS of problems with this one. Work hard, save, get creative, get additional jobs, get crafty, hold garage sales, basically WORK for it and then it makes a little more sense. Parlaying the case of your dying, broken orphan to get people to fund your family trip to China and to Hong Kong Disney tends to tick me off.

But I am straying and getting onto a soap box issue. Sorry.

THIS IS ABOUT A SWEET LITTLE BOY.

AN 11 year old boy who was just disrupted in China, and whose file is, hopefully, being relisted with his agency. And the great news??

We have TWO matching grants to help the family to whom he will be matched so that they can be paper ready and travel as soon as humanly possible to make sure he gets the love and care he deserves, and can start healing from this recent trauma. YOUR job?? PLEASE post in the COMMENTS section of this blog (not on Facebook) how much you would like to give, and make sure to have your email address (NOT public, just me) correct. I will then email you with how to contact the agency directly to make a fully TAX DEDUCTIBLE donation.

If for some reason the agency does NOT get his file back, they have agreed to pass the funds along to whichever agency DOES get it!! Why? Because they just want what is best for this boy…a forever family!!!!

Doing this together we can raise up to 7000 bucks!!!!! That’s HUGE!!!! I am opening it back up until this Friday at midnight. For those who posted on the original post? Look for an email from me with links and ways to give. Let’s get this going!!!!!

the OTHER side of disruption and the reason I won’t shut up about it….

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The other side??

It is the CHILD’S side.

And yeah, that’s why I won’t shut up about it.

Not gonna lie…I like my little world. My safe bubble in a neighborhood with no crime. Biking to the beach, swimming in the pool, grocery stores with a basic buffet of healthy organic beautiful fresh foods I can serve to my kids. Clean new clothes and vacations and electronics and cars….I am grateful every day. Because I have seen the other side. Several times now. And I am grateful for that.

At 14 I went on a mission trip. We sang in churches in St Croix and held vacation Bible school in the island’s projects. Hard to see. But good for my 14 year old eyes. Shortly after this my family went through some financial stuff. My parents held it together but lost friends and most worldy goods. Good for my 16 year old brain to comprehend. At 21 I lost the majority of funding for my senior year in college because two pieces of paper weren’t signed and sent in. I spent that year technically homeless. I stole food, and lived dorm room to dorm room, apartment to house….strangers, friends, sorority sisters. Worked two full time jobs, some extra babysitting, paying for school, finishing up college. Good for my 21 year old heart.

Now? I have 5 kids. And two of them spent their first 16 months in orphanages and the like. Both have different backgrounds, in some ways, and in other it is the same. It was a blessing to be able to bring all my kids on the last trip to China. The things they saw and did and had to understand. Good for THEIR eyes and minds and hearts.

But still, even with all I have seen and thought and felt….it is STILL so easy to forget. So I have to daily remember and be so grateful. Knowing that 99.99999% of the world has it far worse (from our entitled American perspective anyway), for whatever reason, and for THAT reason, I am obligated to do more, give more, be more.

So understand this please RIGHT NOW. When I write about these kiddos who got left behind in China a week ago, or a year ago, or two years ago, I do it in tears. Ask my social worker. Ask my friends. Ask the guy in the gym last Thursday, on the floor next to me as I did my ab workout, snot and sweat and salty tears mixing. I don’t write this to get attention, pity, drama. What does it benefit me to say I cried?? It doesn’t!  When I speak out and say “we have to talk about this!!” it is for the sake of change and not drama. When I ask “what can I do??” it is because those children deserve to have someone DOING for them, trying and being there and speaking.

And people don’t like it.

And I DON’T CARE.

Now. Let me explain to you. Because I want to paint a VERY clear picture. I want you to KNOW, I want you to envision. Read my words and absorb them. Read these words and then calmly walk into the other room and grab hold of the lives entrusted to your care and squeeze them very very tight.

A family was broken hearted a week or two ago. For their reasons, they walked away from a child. They claimed God’s plan and God’s provision and for whatever purpose they turned from that plan and that provision. It surely hurt their hearts and will affect them for a while. They will grieve, be angry with me or an agency or an incomplete file….anger and tears blending. But they came home. They sleep and eat and go on.

This little boy?

He was punished.

He was blamed.

He was told that he ruined it. He was disrespectful.That he misbehaved. That he brought shame. That he is not worthy of even the Americans who take ill children. He is banished, separated, alone.

More alone than he was as an 11 year old orphan with a mild case of cerebral palsy. More alone than a sweet and kind and SMART capable boy who was able to attend a sponsored school. He is now “not worthy”.

EVERY CHILD IS WORTHY. But that is what happens. That is what HAPPENED.

Over a year ago?? A little boy was brought to his supposed forever family. The internet was flooded with pleas for prayer, exclamations of pain and confusion because he was too sick to travel, was barely alive, was catatonic, and was, and I quote, “unadoptable.” Until a video showed a healthy, walking, crying, scared baby boy who was petrified then refused by the person who signed a letter of acceptance, a letter that says “this is my son!!!”

EVERY CHILD IS WORTHY OF A FAMILY!!!!!!!!!

And instead of returning to the foster home and family he knew, and in which he could have found solace and comfort because he had spent most of his life there, he was sent to an orphanage, without hands and eyes and the attention and care of people who already knew him. A total change, nothing familiar, everything scary.

I HATE THIS. I swear to you, on everything that is holy and pure and true, I hate this with every ounce of my being!!! It brings NO joy to talk about it, to share what these kiddos endured and will continue to endure. And no it is not bashing to talk about it. Uncomfortable? Sure. And disruptions happen. I know of a family, an experienced adoptive family, who upon meeting a child, realized they could not parent they way the child needed. But they also knew they had made a commitment to parent, to help, to love. They returned to the states with the child, and advocated and sought help and had the child placed in a family where the child is flourishing. This is heartbreaking and as a result? They are not allowed to return to China and adopt again even though they did 100% their very best to do right by the CHILD. That is love. That is sacrifice. That is parenting. But disrupting in China and claiming illness (maybe fair, maybe not…)? Sure. No problem. People can return again and again. No accountability where the family who followed through and did right by the child is now shut out.

And that’s what I am talking about here.

Accountability.

And no one likes it.

But we need to do something about it. And I am starting to. Yes, we are advocating for Caleb, the 11 year old recently disrupted. Praying his file is RElisted. And raising money for a speedy match and travel after the fact. (Post in comments if you want to help as I don’t want this to be an advocate post but instead an educational one). But some of us need to DO something and not just run around social media talking about it all.

We are creating a new Facebook page. Adoption Survival and Support, that will go live in a couple of days. Medical and therapeutic and pastoral and legal and personal resources, donating unofficial time and input, sharing articles and unofficial opinions, making themselves available online. Additionally? Getting an international toll free number for those in the trenches right before, during and after travel who feel at some point like EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US HAS FELT.

That’s the thing. We have all been there. That moment of total overwhelming exhaustion. The fear that you are irreversibly changing your family. The worry that there is more than you are prepared for. So many of us have taken that broken grieving hurting child into our arms and been scared to death.

And those feelings? They are all correct. Because that is parenting. That is what it means to be a mom or a dad. That is the new normal…every day. I will always be scared. I will never be enough. I am changing my family. Things will never be the same. I can’t lie. My life is NOTHING like I thought it would be. It is so much fuller, more exhausting, funnier, heartbreaking, richer, tougher, and way more beautiful. And sometimes you need someone to walk you through that.

I was very very scared last year. Someone I knew was adopting. First adoption. First child. I had VERY serious concerns. This was not a person who, on paper, should have even qualified to adopt. No, I didn’t want it to fail. No, I didn’t want to take in the child. No, I was not hopeful for the bad but I prepared for the worst. That is my nature and I cried rivers of tears so scared for everyone.

I have NEVER been so thrilled to have been proved wrong. And why? Parenting changes us. Love changes us. It equips us in ways we never could imagine to handle something bigger than ourselves. I see in this new mother a love that is fierce. A love and commitment that will stand the test of time and has already withstood surgery and scarier than planned issues. And in those first moments we can be so scared but if we push through the fear, and have someone rallying with us, behind us, generally we can embrace and move past it, follow through with the promise, and bring life and fullness to someone who may not have been given the chance otherwise. We need that. The adoption community needs that.

We have to start understanding that disruption does not end with a family coming home without the child and either moving on or simply getting a new file. We have to start understanding that talking and advocating for disrupted kiddos does not mean we are bashing the families that left them behind but that these children have a life and a voice that still deserves to be heard, that is still worthy of being brought into a loving forever home. And until China gives them that voice and that opportunity? It can be our mission to give it to them, as best we can, from 7000 miles away.

a crazy day for the Sweet family even by the Sweet family standard of crazy…

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I just told my husband NOT to call me tomorrow.

He is out of town at school all week and IF he texts or calls me to tell me how tired he is from all the homework and that the room service meal is not super tasty I will hire 14 ninjas to go to his hotel and chop him into little bitty pieces.

Slowly.

Life gets crazy every single time Kenny leaves town and today was no exception.

Kids had a great weekend with family and friends but this morning they all stayed home from school because 3 out of 5 of them had tummy issues and insomnia over the last two nights. A weird combo, certainly, and enough to keep them from school (you’re welcome. i try to not pass explosive diarrhea around right before summer vacation, dance recitals, lacrosse tournaments, and national rowing regattas.)

I went to the gym to work out and grocery shop. Two little sweet Chinese girls were with me. Other items on the agenda? Grocery shopping, and calling everyone we saw this weekend to have them watch for this weird insomnia slash tummy bug virus. Anyway, the remaining three Sweet kiddos stayed home. On the way home Elis Rey told me to look at Marlowe’s leg. It was hugely swollen, red and raw in one spot, and blistering with clear puss oozing everywhere. (grossed out yet??) It looked exactly like Chase’s leg from Saturday (and later discovered a dried out bite/sting mark by Kincaid’s foot as well. Hadley has a dried out bit mark on his lower hip.) HAD to be an insect or spider. I yanked M and ER out of the car, grabbed the outdoor vacuum, and started to suck and scrub every spot in there, praying that bugs did not come out and attack me. Found insect parts once I slowed down and it appears that there was some kind of nest or spot of disgusting bug congregation under the baby’s car seat/padding.

EEEEEEWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!

I cleaned the bite area, took pictures and collected a specimen of the legs/parts, put down all the seats and completely chucked the car seat, laid a white sheet into the back, and drove old school, no car seats, not even seat belts, with the kids in the way way back, flopping around like we all did in the 80’s in back of mom’s station wagon. Pediatrician was opening back from lunch in 12 minutes so I got my kids mcdonalds drive thru happy meals and sat waiting at dr office til they could see my tiny little monkey.

After much examination of wound and of insect or arachnid parts, we still could not determine exactly what bit or stung everyone (H and K don’t know they were bitten). There are a few possibilities but the three most likely are a brown widow, a male black widow, and young wasps. (yes seriously.) The legs are black and yellow/brown/orangeish banded things….matching these three options. Either way, freaky and disgusting.

After getting some prescriptions for topical treatment, instructions for watching, etc we then drove to Sonic, loaded up on milkshakes, and went to the car dealership. Originally I was getting a new car today anyway because mine is simply too small and Ken hated it but then they said we could not get it until Wednesday. Ken had called and demanded we get the car today because we were all under attack and the dealership complied. I spent the next two hours racing around a car dealership with 5 kids in tow, all carrying (and of course spilling) shakes and slushees, doing paperwork, changing diapers of explosive diarrhea, warning the service department about wearing hazmat suits when dealing with the other car, explaining to these older old school car guys why two of my kids are chinese (i gave everyone a totally different answer just to mess with them hahaha), and then waved at them as we drove away, kids all piled inside. I had remembered I had a back up car seat in the garage so figured I would grab it for tomorrow before I would buy a new good one since that was a further drive away. Hadley then reminded me that it was covered in bull frog poop, something he told me a few months ago when it occurred but that I forgot. (Blocked out.)

So between killer spiders, explosive diarrhea, new cars, bull frog poop covered booster seats, insect nests, dealership shenanigans, insect specimen samples in a cup up front in case a.) doc wanted to see and b.) cop wanted to see if i got pulled over……yeah. This day was a banner one for the Sweet family.

we need to stop making God’s plans so changeable in our own lives…when did it get so easy to say they are His plans, when really they are ours??

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Some friends of mine got divorced last year.

Broke my heart, but more importantly, broke both of them, their families, a church, and many people around them. The cause? Well, lots of reasons, and I am not placing blame here. But this stuck with me. His words, back when they got engaged…

“God set this in motion. It is so clearly His design. His will. His plan. We are simply walking it, and are lucky enough to have each other in it. This is all God’s plan, right here, right now, and for the rest of our lives.”

Beautiful words, right?

Not any more. Because those words stopped existing. They changed. Again, his words. “Well, God’s plan is clear. We are not right for each other. She doesn’t meet my needs and I don’t love her anymore. God’s plan is not for me to be in an unfulfilled marriage. Or for her either, to live like that, unhappy and lonely all the time. God wants more for both of us.”

Now, there are many reasons for the failure of this marriage. I know some of them, but surely, not all. I wasn’t there in those dark moments, hearing each word, living each cruel bit that compounded to become deeper and more broken with each passing day.

But I have my own….my own dark places of what feel like misery and defeat and hopelessness. I have them in my marriage, in my family, in my failures, in my parenting. I see them in life and death and all around me. We all have them. There are moments that are awful….things and words and instances I WISH I could forget ever occurred, ever existed. Things that were done to me, things that I did to others. That is life, and humanity. Broken and fallible, all of us.

But somewhere in the last few years it has become this option. We can claim God’s divine purpose and then, when that purpose gets too uncomfortable, or is different than what we expected, we can claim that it was NOT God’s purpose and we can back away. Retreat. Run.

In the past week I have been watching just such a scenario unfold. I hate it. I hate seeing it. But there is a child involved, so yeah, I inserted myself into the aftermath a little bit. Because that? That is my line in the sand issue. We all have them. Politics. Religious ideology. Character. Love. Something.

For me? It is children (with integrity running a close second.) When I see a child abused in some way, or in this case, about to be dismissed after enduring something horrific, I can’t sit idly by. Does that make me worthy of the names I have been called this week? Here is the incomplete list…sick, selfish, insane, drama whore, self proclaimed God, bi*ch, lying bi*tch, liar, glory seeker, attention seeker, false prophet (huh??), I’m trying to be God, I’m sitting on his judgment seat, I have no right to speak, no right to pray, I am putting others down, elevating myself, putting spin, playing the redemptive hero, and more.

Am I worth of those names? Deserving of them? Maybe to the ones calling me them, I am. And if so? So be it. Because no, I don’t want to be called names. People can say words don’t hurt but they do. I am not playing God. I am not selfish. I have no gain by standing up and saying that the adoptive community is missing something. We are not working on and addressing an issue that is out of control. A couple of issues, if we are honest. And the result is breaking children who have already been broken. Hurting those who are already so very hurt. And that is not acceptable to me.

I am sorry for the two families who officially disrupted last week, and the third in process of doing so right now (with a 4th on the near horizon very possibly.) I am heartbroken for ALL of you…the families and the children. But every time an adoptive family disrupts, the same thing happens. The family comes home devastated, hurting, so upset, and rightfully so. I don’t take away from that pain, and I never have. But without fail the CHILD is the ultimate victim in this and NO ONE WANTS TO TALK ABOUT THAT PART!!!! Nothing gets done!! Why? The file is canceled out, the child is not available any more, pictures have to be removed, and the previously newly named son or daughter ceases to be real to any of us any more and that to me is far more heartbreaking than the loss any family walks through.

As Christians (if you are one…if you aren’t then ignore this commission and no judgment!!) how can we say, definitely, “God led us to this plan!!! This is it!!! So clear! So obvious! Totally confirmed!!!” and then bail when it doesn’t match what we wanted, hoped for or preferred? How can we claim God’s plan and God’s presence and God’s provision and God’s perfection and all that goes with those things, only to deny them when they don’t look the way we want?? That is exactly what keeps happening.

It does hurt my heart that the families who disrupted this past week are hurting. Yes, I sort of “focused” on one family in particular because I read their blog and FB posts and fell in love with the face of that little sweetie and prayed for their journey. I am so sorry that they are broken and hurting, and so sorry that they are angry with me, and feel that I am an awful and selfish person. Heck, I don’t blame them for being angry at me. No, I never outed them publicly. No, I never lied. But yeah. I have made a tough situation a little more public than they would have preferred and I don’t blame them for being angry, for hating me. I don’t blame people who are lashing out at me on their behalf. I truly get it. I have not seen any parts of the journey of the other two disruptions this week (again, one is ongoing right now apparently.) I HATE that it is happening!!!! One seems senseless to me…expectations were too high, reality was too disappointing. The other I know nothing about.

But MAN!!!!! How is that unlike ANYTHING worthwhile in life!! So much in this world is vastly different than what we expect. We miss out on the best blessings when we walk away in fear! Labor. I expected all natural. Got Csections! By third labor I expected a Csection and the then normal scenario. I didn’t expect the anesthesia not to work. I hardly expected to FEEL my surgery!! I NEVER expected marriage to be so brutally hard! I never expected to have 5 kids (although I hoped) and at kiddo one I never expected to ever adopt. But here I am. I never expected to be broken in the ways I have been. But all of those situations have been made beautiful, or are in the process of that beautiful creation!!! I have to cling to that. I must!!

And I can’t just alter God’s plans, or claim them as altered, because I don’t like it or agree with it anymore or am uncomfortable or want something new. Not in my marriage, and not in my parenting. God never promises us the comfortable way. The easy way. In fact, just the opposite! When we do His will we will encounter discomfort, hardship, tribulation. It is a Biblical promise!

If you want to claim God then claim Him as HE IS. He is immutable, unchanging. He is omniscient, all knowing. He is omnipresent, always there. He is PERFECT. If He gives me a plan, and I accept it, and sign on the line, and commit to that plan, I need to follow through. And sometimes, well, I am human. Maybe I fail. Maybe I even walk out. Back out. Or run. I am so utterly human. Yes, I too run from discomfort. Maybe my marriage will make it 60 years. Maybe it won’t. Maybe the other plans God set before me which I have embraced, accepted, and followed…maybe those will all come to fruition, just as He hoped for me!

But maybe they all won’t. Ok. Probably they all won’t. I fail. I will keep failing. BUT I HAVE TO OWN THAT AS FAILURE!!! I won’t say God’s plan was faulty, and I won’t say it changed because I got uncomfortable. None of us should. Admit when you are scared. Admit when you failed. To one of these families? I am sorry. I failed you and I hurt you. I DID reach out to you. I sent messages. I saw it happening. I did try. But I didn’t try enough and maybe I should have. And now you are hurting, and now yes, people are learning what happened because a boy was left behind in all this and the adoptive community needs to talk about these things. Maybe not your name, but the situation. And I am truly sorry that hurts you. From my heart I am, as I have stated again and again. As I feel for the other families walking this road.

But I still have to speak up. The adoptive community needs some ideas. We need some action. And this sweet boy needs a home. AND HE IS HURTING MORE THAN ANYONE ELSE IN THIS! And moreso? He needs prayer and focus and love sent his way, more than anyone else’s. Not mine, not those who left him, HIS.

And if my little tiny blog can do this, if my annoying voice can do this, then there has been success. This success does not benefit me. I don’t need friends, I don’t make money, my blog means nothing except when it can be used to change something, anything, for the least of these. And it is so I keep typing.

Friday at midnight, May 22 is the deadline. Post your comment and make a pledge. Matching funds up to $3500.00 USD to help make sure that his forever family is able to bring him home and start loving him as soon as possible. I am not keen on adoption fundraising (that’s another topic) unless done very carefully and respectfully. In this case? It is to make sure that the BEST family for him will not be hindered. That maybe someone will step up and say “We KNOW he is ours. But the timing is off and we can’t do it” and instead will find out that they can just board the plane and go bring their sweet boy home. Quickly.

true hypocrites, online snarkiness, AND a matching pledge challenge and money for an ADOPTION so pass this one around!!

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This is a long one, with a tough scenario. But at the end? A matching pledge challenge to get an adoption funded for a child who deserves the very best so muddle your way through and then let’s get real, shall we?

Today kind of sucked. It was a tough, emotional day. Online folks I know traveled to China over the last week to adopt a child. The mom and two of the kids, both biological, traveled. They were tired and exhausted and overwhelmed in China, before they met the little 11 year old who was supposed to become the new son. The new brother. Many of us watched this family’s journey which already had some drama and issues earlier so we were all pulling for them.

But.

Well, 11 year old children who grow up in an orphanage are gonna struggle. And apparently this family was completely unprepared. It happens. It shouldn’t, because there should have been FAR more awareness about the process, but it happens for many reasons. After meeting him, and watching him grieve but sort of come around, there were pictures of lego playing with the brother, and hand holding with the new sister.

Then an online plea because things were “not as they seemed.” An online plea because “the family was in indescribable pain.” Everyone prayed. Worried. Wondered. This was a sweet faced little 11 year old we have all gotten to “know” online. HIs face, sort of shy smile….he was going to have a HOME after so LONG!

But then he didn’t.

The family, after a night of him becoming hyper, emotional, aggressive, scared, angry, and such, with classic behavioral and comprehension delays, decided he was not meant to be with him and they disrupted.

Horrific.

For EVERYONE. Does my heart hurt for the family who just disrupted? Definitely. I have NO question that they are in pain and that this was an awful experience for them. I DON’T condemn or blame them.

BUT.

I also know that there is a problem here. I also know that, despite this family’s pain, as they post and ask for prayer and support and that they will unfriend or block anyone who is negative during this awful time, that there is a little boy, whose face was plastered all over the place, and it has now been removed. And in the biggest way this is not about the family’s pain BUT ABOUT THIS LITTLE BOY!!!!!!!

We have to talk about this!!!!! We have to try, as a human race, as an international adoption community, as people who care about the plight of children around the world who deserve a loving family and medical care and food….to CHANGE things. And things don’t and can’t change unless people talk. Discuss. Dissect. Understand. Learn and grow and figure out what keeps going wrong and why and then most importantly, HOW TO FIX IT!!!!

The sad thing is the fallout, however. The debate and the emotions get the focus off track. Off of the child. And back onto the feelings and the rights and the support of the family. Now, I am not opposed to supporting the families who disrupt. But I AM opposed to dismissing it as nothing. To saying, “we don’t know the story so don’t judge” as a way to keep people from talking about it. Then it is just enabling it. Saying, “We don’t care enough about the fallout, the CHILD, to make you a little uncomfortable when we ask you WHY? When we call you out and say we want to know why, we want an explanation, and maybe, just maybe, this was not the way it should have happened.”

Oooohhhhh no!!!! In our efforts to spare the feelings of a grieving family (to the extreme in my opinion) we spare the rights of a child who was promised a home and love and a family and no one takes up that cause. No one takes up the PERSON. And this had me crying, off and on, all day.

It ended like this. And talk about sick, and twisted, and disappointing.

Another blogging adoption advocate and mom wrote a post, mentioning how she was disappointed in the judging of families who disrupt. She had people cyber high-fiving her. Great. She has a valid point. But I posted, wondering if it had to do with my post on the matter. Oh, it sure did Leah she replied. Not that I was the one judging, she clarified, but that it became judgmental and condemning.

I disagreed, and said I did not see anything judgmental and condemning but ok. (i did remove one personal reference to the family as I did not name them.) Then some people on there (one meanie named Colleen actually), on her thread, citing God and the Bible, got ugly. Towards me. The ordinal poster closed the thread. Okiedokie. I can handle myself but I get it. She then posted how she closed the other thread but that she would blog about it. The response? Multiple posts about how people were ugly and jerks. Funny because in my thread, although there was definitely disagreement and debate, there was NO name calling. Not once (although it did sort of go there when talking about a different disruption situation with a literal captain crazy pants person but I digress….) did it devolve to name calling. Anyway, I posted that it was interesting, how on this thread, it got ugly and into name calling when mine didn’t but mine was referenced as the condemning judgmental one. Haha. I love irony. I then did homework with my kids.

Later, while watching an old episode of Impractical Jokers with my son (daggone that show is FUNNY), I opened the phone back up. And BOOM. Talk about crazy.

While referencing a Bible verse, Colleen came back at me. Told me that she would donate a large sum to my agency if I would go get him. Prove that I cared. Adopt him because surely I wouldn’t dump the kid. She made 3 posts about it, in a nasty, snarky, goading way. But guess what? I said HECK YES!!! Well, not to the adoption part. We are newly home with Marlowe (I don’t believe in returning to China until at least a year has passed but that is my own opinion for MY family) and more importantly, our family is COMPLETE. BUT….I loved the idea. So I posted back. And I messaged her. I said, “Let’s do this. Let’s do it. Put it aside and I will match you, dollar for dollar, to the agency to get this boy to a forever family. The one he truly deserves. The one who won’t get to a hotel room and leave him because it is overwhelming and a little scary!!”

Um, yeah. Don’t think she is game. Apparently she has two bio and 4 adopted and has been around WAY longer than I have in the community (lots of people have) and I am sick, cruel, and mean spirited not to mention delusional and selfish. Those are all her words, not mine. She wrote more, but I don’t recall it all. Oh well. My loss I guess. Hahaha.

The thread was shut down by the other woman who started it. Again. (But only after the other lady’s mean comment stood for a few minutes, despite my inability to post back, which I find both ironic and sorry, hypocritical.) But I messaged Colleen again. Sure. Hate me. But this is about a BOY. A CHILD. Let’s partner up and give some real money and put that money where our mouths are as she had said.

Nothing. Crickets. Silence. Talk about hypocrisy. I am the cruel condemning one because I posted about the plight of this child, and how we need to start really addressing the issue of disruption but never, never bashed the family. Never spoke a cruel word about them. Then someone else throws a Bible verse reference in my face, calls me names, is openly taunting, then disappears when beauty could have come out of it. How pathetic is that?

And that is my point. That is the problem. And THAT is why we have to talk about this stuff. It is tough and emotional. We get on our high horses and defend the family. Defend the righteousness of their decision, that it wasn’t God’s plan (last I checked God’s plans are beautiful and perfect but humanity messes it up thank you)….blah blah blah. And we forget there is a little boy who was broken, AGAIN, in all this. But that is what “this” should be about.

I messaged her one more time, saying sure. Call me mean. Cruel. Sick. I don’t even care. But let’s give and get him matched and home with the right family, whether or not the “right” family has the funds together. But nope. Blocked. (Big shock right? And by the way, what is with that? People do that like it’s teaching a lesson, or giving someone the cyber finger. Oh no! The lady who called me names and was nasty blocked ME!! I am SO bummed!! hahaha)

So instead I will open it up to the adoption and online community. Come on. Show me what you got.

Let’s start at $2,500.00. Yup. Two thousand five hundred US dollars.

You wanted to know if I really care about the child? Oh yeah. Yeah I do. I will match, dollar for dollar, up to $2,500.00 USD towards the adoption of this little boy to the family who will be matched to him when his file is again made available (should be soon.). I will give it one week. Post in the comments (NOT ON FACEBOOK PLEASE!!!) of this blog post (so the comments are all in one place and I can get to your email address.). I will message you with what to do and how to do it. And in one week I will write a check for the amount raised up to 2.5K. Heck, maybe more if everyone really gets on board and goes past that number, but I will have to get permission to do that so let’s start at 2500 and go from there. So. Pass this around. Post wherever you want. Offer starts today through next friday at midnight. Let’s see how fast we can get this done. Who is in? Who will put their money where their mouths are?

Who actually cares enough to do something instead of just trash talk and run your mouths on Facebook and in forums and via blog posts and more? Love in action, people. Love in action.

bad apples, or maybe just bad neighbors….and only a few can spoil the bunch. or not.

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It’s funny. I have had to blog previously about the ridiculosity (yeah I know that is not a real word) that can sometimes come along with the classic Florida neighbor. For the most part I LOVE my neighbors but today? Not my favorite. Jerry Seinfeld addressed this phenomenon in one of his episodes known as the Condo Commandos. They are also known as the Neighborhood Nazis and they relish in retirement, boredom, and thus, the combination of the two which turns them into the police of the perfect hedge, and the trash can lid monitors for the masses.

Ok. The full story is below but for now, here are the pictures for those who need to see the pictures. Unless my kids are going out shopping for cheese puffs, beer, and ginseng green tea or walking a dog we don’t have, um, yeah. This is not our trash.

2 of these 2 dollar cheese puff snacks. never bought in my life.

2 of these 2 dollar cheese puff snacks. never bought in my life.

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hard to see here, but interestingly this a a plastic bag of dog poo someone threw into the woods here. not my kids. we don’t have a dog. hmm….

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a sort of big gulp container (don’t even recognize brand), a ginseng green tea bottle (we don’t drink this but maybe we should conduct a house to house search to unveil the true culprits??)

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the boys, standing on a tree that was already down, many years ago apparently but maybe they pushed the tree down themselves??

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a gardening bucket. i have a black thumb. i don’t garden. tried once 4 years ago…death was within weeks. contact our landscapers for verification…

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my favorite damning article of proof….a beer koozie!! (how do you spell kookie? maybe i would know the answer to that IF WE DRANK BEER BUT WE DON’T)

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sorry, but we are a tostitos and cheese kind of family and this is easily verifiable. a tostitos bag in these woods would have been equivalent to OJ Simpson’s bloody glove and an accompanying signed confession. but some 2 dollar super sized cheese puff bag? um, no.

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there were two brands of water bottle present…zephyrhills and fiji. sorry, we are an aquafina and a polish springs kind of family (i LOVE fiji but it is crazy expensive!!)

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the crushed beer can located next to the beer koozie. like i told the rude property manager, um, yeah. not in the habit of supplying beer to my 7, 9 and 11 year olds. but my kids are the only ones there, right??? smacking my head……….

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the really cool floor. the canopy above is in tact, the branches on the ground dead and crunchy and laying atop of wonderful treasures. fabulous. maybe this is the proof of destruction? ten years of detritus we obviously destroyed single handedly…..sigh………

Luckily, in my current neighborhood, we have some lovely and patient folks who surround us. But as always, it is the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. Then, they come out swinging. Or in this case hiding. But heck…our last neighborhood? We had a literal Nazi…like, German retirees who lived under the Hitler regime and literally thought it their duty to demand perfection from each home and community member. Annoying as anything but in all honesty?? The guy called me the B word to my face. SO rude…but I give him some measure of respect because he didn’t hide behind someone else and tattle tale like a whiny pants. He came right out with it, you know? Stood in my face and called me a b*tch because I let my almost 4 year old play with the pool hose. Now, since he called me this in FRONT of said child, I threw his stuff in the pool and laughed, walking away. Not my finest moment. But when you pull stuff in front of my KIDS??? It is gonna go down hill fast. (Current neighborhood? Tried to have a conversation with two neighbors who I TRIED to explain to that there is a big black escalade that speeds constantly through the hood but since my car is big and black also with a LOUD engine that revs insanely it sounds like my car is speeding when it is NOT but they cut me off repeatedly and started to cuss with the F word, with my kid in the car. My response? Well there was no pool right there to throw their stuff into so I turned around and rode by again, honking my horn at them, which prompted more F word responses, as well as middle fingers and various other gestures. Again, not my finest moment but honestly…I had my kid there! You can’t cuss out a mama after refusing to hear her valid point and think she is not gonna use it as a teaching moment!! To those neighbors, I am sorry for honking at you repeatedly, and I like to think you are sorry for not hearing me out and then cussing me out in front of my kid. I hope they forgive my disrespect and that they feel poorly about their choices. C’est la vie.) Anyway, I digress.

Last year I received a letter stating that my kids were destroying common area property. The kids found an AMAZING little area hidden from the street with an amazing canopy and great climbing trees and a mini hill and secret river…I mean, seriously. This spot is like adventure kid heaven.) I went over and checked it out. Truly awesome. They got brooms and cleared out debris and picked up bags of trash and treasure. Bottles, cans, cigarettes, bags, paper, plastic, whatever. Tons. They also know what mangroves are, as well as other protected florida specimens (none of which were there but they do know them). I told them the only branches they could play with were dead ones with the exception of the branches and trunks of the Brazilian pepper trees which are classified as weeds and do more harm to the burgeoning mangroves than humans, predators, or littering could ever do. So I was concerned and ran over to see the area after receiving the nasty letter.

Um, yeah. Not much to see.

There was some trash, as well as some broken branches (NO broken mangroves) and tons and tons of detritus that had been there when we first explored that they LOVE to walk and run in. Sounds like popcorn and under it all are hidden treasures like crab shells, snake skins, animal skulls (whole raccoon skull once!!) Also, they find bobcat tracks and more in there. I took photos of the huge “destruction” and promptly drafted a letter to the community property management company who had contacted me. I clearly stated that no, my children had not destroyed any sensitive vegetation, and that furthermore, the vast majority of the trash could not be pinned on my children as I try to keep my then 10 year old from smoking cigarettes and drinking beer. Yes, I put that in the email. Can’t help being humorous no matter what….

The kids have continued to play there off and on, but school has been in session and as a result they have had little to no outdoor play time. In the meantime, the kids have discovered other areas and have also learned more about where they can and can not play in the neighborhood. (They thought driveways were part of the roads and they learned that lesson, and most recently, thought they were picking flowers for me for Mother’s Day which I discovered that morning, and as I smiled, I also cringed as I looked upon the lovely orchids.**we, that very night, walked over to the neighbor from whom they took those orchids. As always she was gracious! Sorry Janie!!!!!**) Bottom line? They have been to that location one time in the last 3 months. ONCE.

Somehow though, a new letter showed up. “It has come to the attention of the Board once again your children have been playing back in the common area on the western property line. There is evidence of “construction and destruction” as well as some amount of trash in the area. Please be advised for the safety of your children and risk to the association as well as for the protection of the vegetation you are asked not to allow your children to “play” in the common areas.”

Firstly, after I got my laughter under control, I grabbed my phone and walked over to the property. It is located two houses away from mine. How dare I let them walk two houses over!! Some call the cops and protect everyone and the trees!!! I inspected the area throughly and found 1.) NO new damage to vegetation 2.) NO trash that could be attributed to MY children and 3.) NO construction of any kind. (Very old rusty nails existed in a tree branch prior to our arrival. I did discover that the kids saw these as an ok to add additional nails. I told them they could not, and since that time last year did not add another nail. Additionally, note that NO nails were put into any fragile or protected species and that ALL nails were ONLY hammered into brazilian pepper trees. Regardless, I told them no nails and they obeyed.)

Interestingly enough, however, the property owner that resides next door, and the primary source of complaints against my children (doesn’t he have anything else to do in life??) pulled into his driveway. Perfect timing!! As he got out of his car I called out, “Hi so and so. Can you show me what the kids damaged?” “What?” “The damage. The destruction. Can you show me what they did? I don’t see anything so if you could show me what they have done that would be great” “I am not talking to you!!” “Um, ok. Is it all invisible? Is that the problem??” “I don’t have to be confronted by you! I am not listening to this!!” “Oh…but you are really brave when confronting kids the way you do! Why can’t you call me like an adult? Grow a pair!!” And he ran inside.

Ok. So the “grow a pair” comment was not my finest. (see? I don’t paint it all perfect for myself!!) but seriously – he has approached my kids on several occasions but can’t have adult conversations. I find that pathetic. I also see that as classic abuser or bully behavior but that would be assumptive and speculative on my part so I won’t go there. Although, quid pro quo, I could contact whatever authority who investigates possible abusive behavior and state, based purely on assumption and speculation, that he is those things. I however, would not do that. Someone has to be the classy one, right???

Either way, firstly, there is no legal basis to demand the protection of a classified Florida weed and in fact there is wording about the legal issue with PROTECTING a weed species. Secondly, we are owners in this neighborhood. Our children are our legal dependents and as such have the full rights and privileges for the use of the common areas in this neighborhood. They can not be banned from the use of said areas as that would infringe upon our rights for which we pay (substantial) fees, dues, and upkeep costs. Thirdly, while yes, my children HAVE been in that area (although not recently), that fact does not prevent or preclude that other individuals have also been in that space. Thus any damage (real or imagined…sigh…) can not be presented as the sole responsibility of my children. Fourthly, the nature of said damage, only trash that I could see, are almost ALL of a nature that easily disproves the involvement of my children in said trashing/damaging as the photos above clearly prove. And finally, unless and until there is verifiable proof that my children caused the apparently invisible damage to the property, I would consider it slanderous to state in a factual manner and in mailed documentation no less that my children are to blame for said misdemeanors. (No, I am not a lawyer but I have a “Master’s Degree in Google”. Additionally, I am kind of smart. Oh yeah, and we DO have a lawyer and so I DO know what I am talking about just in case you don’t buy the smart thing.)

At the end of the day it all blows my mind. The fact that people can be so presumptive, not to mention petty and pathetic (go sneak around behind the back and whine to the board)…the fact that the property manager refused ANY due diligence by speaking to me or documenting the actual nature of said trash present and instead placed blame without proper investigation…the complete dismissive nature of the conversation that was had with the property manager in which he interrupted me and summarily dismissed my viewpoints, continuing to place blame without proof.

Most stuff I let roll. But mess with or in this case blame and slander my kids?? I don’t think so. And for the record? I love so many of my neighbors. They are kind and gracious and loving. They are patient with my loud, wonderful, and yes sometimes messy and obnoxious kids. So for the record I love my neighborhood. But yeah….let’s just say my fingers are crossed that a few of them will list their houses. If not sooner, well, I imagine that the teen years will take care of that. wink wink…….

a quick thought provoking story to hopefully help you prioritize……

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a copy of a copy of a copy…i did NOT write this story but i also don’t know who did. read, and think carefully about your time, priorities, and more. we have people in our life, in my family, who even after something like this happening, would STILL not give time. be there. share with us. be present. be checked in. it is getting more and more hurtful as time goes on, instead of the other way around. i read this, and just cry. but you can’t make someone see. you can’t force someone to check in, to be there, truly there. but maybe one person, somewhere, will read this and think twice about what he or she does. it probably won’t be my someone, our someone for this family. but hopefully for you….

SON: “Daddy, may I ask you a question?”
DAD: “Yeah sure, what is it?”
SON: “Daddy, how much do you make an hour?”
DAD: “That’s none of your business. Why do you ask such a thing?”
SON: “I just want to know. Please tell me, how much do you make an hour?”
DAD: “If you must know, I make $100 an hour.”
SON: “Oh! (With his head down).
SON: “Daddy, may I please borrow $50?”
The father was furious.
DAD: “If the only reason you asked that is so you can borrow some money to buy a silly toy or some other nonsense, then you march yourself straight to your room and go to bed. Think about why you are being so selfish. I work hard everyday for such this childish behavior.”

The little boy quietly went to his room and shut the door.
The man sat down and started to get even angrier about the little boy’s questions. How dare he ask such questions only to get some money?
After about an hour or so, the man had calmed down, and started to think:
Maybe there was something he really needed to buy with that $ 50 and he really didn’t ask for money very often. The man went to the door of the little boy’s room and opened the door.

DAD: “Are you asleep, son?”

SON: “No daddy, I’m awake”.
DAD: “I’ve been thinking, maybe I was too hard on you earlier. It’s been a long day and I took out my aggravation on you. Here’s the $50 you asked for.”

The little boy sat straight up, smiling.
SON: “Oh, thank you daddy!”
Then, reaching under his pillow he pulled out some crumpled up bills. The man saw that the boy already had money, started to get angry again. The little boy slowly counted out his money, and then looked up at his father.

DAD: “Why do you want more money if you already have some?”

SON: “Because I didn’t have enough, but now I do.

“Daddy, I have $100 now. Can I buy an hour of your time? Please come home early tomorrow. I would like to have dinner with you.”
The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little son, and he begged for his forgiveness.

think. really think about how you spend your time. online? work? friends? phone? sure. those things are all good and have their places in our lives. but do they consume you? do you come home only to continue in these things instead of the things that matter? my Facebook time is at every stoplight. my online time is in the car lines for pick up, or as kids get ready for school or are in bed. no, i am not perfect. yes. i get my priorities wrong and spend too much time doing things that, at the end of the day, really mean very little. lining my coffin in gold doesn’t change the fact i am gone. so what are you investing in? how can you give more to the things that MATTER?????