Sunday, May 1, 2016

Even When.....


Every now and then, oh geez who am I kidding? Too often I go throughout the day feeling like I've missed something. A few days ago was one of those days. Then I realized it was Liam's adoption day. Wednesday April 27th was Liam's 4 year anniversary becoming an official Lutkin. How could I forget something so special? How could I not remember a day that changed our lives forever? Well it's because each day since Liam's adoption has been filled with perpetual chaos. Chaos in a good way mostly but still chaos nonetheless. And it's not because of Liam personally, it's just life with 4 then, 5 now is busy! So as I lay next to my sleeping baby boy who just woke up from his second night terror tonight let me express how this little boy changes my heart every day. Liam has so much love to give even when it's not deserved. He loves me even though I feel inadequate to be his mom. He loves me even when my patience fails. He loves me even when I silently sob "I can't do this any more." He loves me even when I have to ignore him because it's the only other option left in my parenting bag of tricks. He loves me even when I have to hold him tight and won't let go until he's calmed down and counted to 10. He loves me even when I take his favorite toys away after he's thrown them in anger. He loves me even though I shout. He simply loves me no matter what. I sometimes feel like I'm not the mom God or myself intended me to be. Then I realize I am becoming something more and Liam is helping me. I am being stretched beyond my limits some days but it is up to me to either break or keep stretching. So I choose to keep stretching. I may not be the perfect mom but he is the perfect one for me. He is right where he needs to be and I am forever grateful it's in my heart. We have a long way to go until we figure out this parenting business. We're not even sure what the future (his future) will bring. But I do know that I will continue to love this boy because he loves me even when..... and even though......... Happy adoption day Liam!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

3 2 1 !!!

3 2 1! Rock your socks!




Tomorrow, March 21st is World Down Syndrome Day! 3/21 represents the triple copy of the 21st chromosome that occurs in Down syndrome. It is day of recognition and acceptance for those who have a little extra. We sure love everything about Sara, especially her extra sweetness! Please join us and wear mis-matched or crazy socks and when anyone asks "Why the crazy socks?" you can reply "Because I am crazy in love with someone who has Down syndrome!"

 
She's so sweet she's oozing with chocolate!! 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

I Get It!

"All you need is love" has been one of my many mantras. The Beatles were even inspired by my wise words and wrote a song about it. Another one of my favorite quotes is:
Believe 
there is 
good in
the world. 

There is lots of goodness in the world, but there would be less, unecessary sadness if we all chose to "be the good" and have love in our hearts. It really is a simple philosophy yet so many don't get it. I learned to love by being loved. And today I am teaching my children how to love by loving them. Now just because I get it doesn't mean that I see rainbows and mermaids every day of my life. "Love is all you need" just makes it easier for me to understand my purpose, to love and be loved.


I often post pics of my children on social media. Many times my posts are related to adoption, in particular, special needs adoption. It is no surprise that I have an interest in and a love for adoption because my life has been blessed by it, twice. I will sometimes use the hashtag #allyouneedislove. I use it because it truly is the reason I was touched to "be the good". My heart was pricked by love and a desire to help others through foster care and adoption. On one occasion after I had posted an adoption related post tagging #allyouneedislove, an acquaintance within my "adoption world" posted an entirely different post about how love isn't all you need. I honestly don't even remember who it was but I feel certain that she wrote her own post to contradict my own. I don't even remember what she said exactly but I remember thinking, "I hope I don't come across that my life is perfect and that adoption is hunky dory." Adoption is hard and there are times when love just doesn't seem enough but I promise you it is! Love is all you need to SURVIVE!

This particular person had just adopted an older child. And maybe that is another reason she was making a point, because I have no experience in older children adoption. But I get it even though my children were infants. A lot of abandoned children wear so many layers that it is hard to peel back every layer with love, I get it. Some kids are simply wired differently and it is impossible to rewire or reconnect the faulty connections, I get it! It is hard to like them when they are defiant or mean, I get it. It is hard to like them when all they seem to do is hurt those who are trying to love them, I get it. It's hard to like them when their stubbornness drives you to drink, I get it and I don't even drink! It is hard to look in their eyes and see their potential, because at times their eyes seem dull, empty and dark, I get it. These kids have lived a life of rejection and abandonment from those who were supposed to love them the very most so it is no wonder why it is hard to for them to love and be loved. Loving them can be hard work and sometimes you do need a lot more than love, you need patience, kindness, sanity, self control and anger management, lots of tear fests, and a night out with the girls. A long winters nap would be nice too!! I get it!

I get it because even though my children were infants when we adopted them, I surprisingly do have some of the same issues. There are times when I don't like my children. I love them fiercely, but they wind me up so much sometimes it's hard to want to be nice. There have been times when I have felt like someone else would be better suited to be a mother to my children. I have uttered the words, "I can't do this anymore". I have even questioned if we made the right decision. I never thought I would have these heartbreaking doubts but they're real. This is why adoption is love! It has stretched my ability to love even greater than I thought was possible and to love unconditionally. So the point I try to make when I use #allyouneedislove is that love is the key to get to the point of even wanting to help these children. You have to have love in your heart for your heart to even be stirred. Love is all you need to trust and take that leap of faith to change the course of your life but more importantly to change the course of a child's life. These kids need us! They need someone to reignite the light in their eyes so their soul can shine bright as it was designed to do! They have potential, they have a purpose and our purpose as parents, no matter where our children come from or how they are wired is to not give up on them! They need us as much as we need them! So love really is all you need to make this happen! It doesn't mean it's going to be easy. It doesn't mean that it is going to take away their behavior or their quirks. Love isn't going to change their diagnosis, but love is all you need to keep fighting! So although it will be tough at times, we have been promised that it will be worth it! "All you need is love" makes the blobfish and cloudy days bearable. Because at the end of the day if our children feel loved despite the hard stuff, they will love! Even if it takes an eternity! Thank goodness families are forever, because forever is a long time and hopefully it's enough time for all of us to get it!



If the thought of adoption has ever crossed your mind, or if you have ever felt inclined to help by fostering children, don't be fooled into thinking that you can't do it! Adoption may be part of your purpose. You don't have it have it all together to take the leap. You don't have to have a bigger house or more money. You don't have to wait until life quiets down. If we all waited for the "perfect" time to jump, then we'd all still be waiting at the edge of the cliff. We'd never experience the thrills that were designed for us. Children in need don't care what you drive, where you live, what you wear, or what you do, they just need a family who cares and who is willing to take a leap of faith. They need someone who get's the simple philosophy of "Love is all you need." Because it truly is all they need to realize their purpose and His plan. I am glad that through the rainbows and clouds, I get it and that adoption has been part of my purpose and plan!



Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Spread The Word......

......To End The Word!!

"Mentally retarded". "Mental retardation". Terms once used by medical professionals to describe those who had intellectual disabilities.  Today, these terms are being used to degrade and make fun of those who have significant intellectual impairment. Additionally the r-word has become a common word used by society as an insult for someone or something stupid. For example, you might hear someone say, "That is so retarded" or "Don't be such a retard." When used in this way, the r-word can apply to anyone or anything, and is not specific to someone with a disability. But, even when the r-word is not said to harm someone with a disability, it is hurtful. Please take the pledge today to end the word by clicking the red link below! Pledge to show respect to everyone!


In addition to taking this pledge, let's use people first language as well. What is people first language you might ask? Here is a reminder to help you understand.
    "Remember: a disability descriptor is simply a medical diagnosis; People First Language respectfully puts the person before the disability; and a person with a disability is more like people without disabilities than different!"
For example it's not polite to say "the Down syndrome girl" or she is "the downs kid" or "she's downs", or "my Down syndrome kid". She is Sara (people first) who has Down syndrome. Her name is Sara not Down syndrome. Sara has Down syndrome but it is not the Down syndrome that defines who she is. She is Sara! Likewise you shouldn't say "the autistic kid", he is a boy who has autism. You wouldn't call somebody Autistic Sam or Down syndrome Sara. You would call them Sam or Sara. Hope this clarifies what people first language means. It's just another way to show respect to everyone!

Today is also Dr. Seuss' birthday! So in honor of him as well as educating others about spreading the word to end the word, I would like to share this pic and quote.


Caring is another word for respect! Respect causes change and change begins with you! 



Monday, January 18, 2016

Wednesday Is My New Monday

Already 3 weeks into the the new year and I'm still working on my New Year's post. Pretty typical for a procrasticator like myself but it just goes to show that time doesn't wait for anybody. The New Year brings hope for many people but I still like Mondays for the same reason. Mondays just scream "new beginnings" and "I'll start on Monday" has become one of my many mantras. Every Monday I wake up ready to tackle my world with great enthusiasm, new aspirations, old aspirations renewed, and restored hope!  Mondays and the New Year are like a fresh jar of cookie butter both waiting for people like me to dig in! And every New Year and Monday I am hopeful that "this" time I will accomplish whatever it is that I want to. Clean eating, no sugar, no fast food, more exercise (who am I kidding you have to exercise even a little to do more), more water intake, less shouting, more organization, less social media, leave my phone plugged in while the kids are home and awake, keep up with the laundry, play with my kids, spend more time together enjoying the great outdoors, read, read scriptures daily, study Sunday school lessons before Sunday comes, daily morning and night prayers, daily morning and night family prayers where were actually kneel and pray from the heart, daily couples prayer, weekly FHE (Family Home Evening), 100% visiting teaching, wake up early and by that I mean wake up before my kids do (don't get me wrong, I love that my boys are responsible and can get themselves up, but I really should be up to greet them), shower first thing, prepare kids lunches every day, prepare breakfast for all every day, make a meal plan and prepare healthy dinners every day and have it ready by 5:30 so we can all eat together before we go separate ways for activities and sports, more temple attendance (again it's not more when it's none at all), make Saturday a special day that we use to get ready for Sunday, like clipping nails, preparing "the" bag, and ironing clothes so we're not scrambling on Sunday, get to church on time even though I don't have my husband home to help us get out the door, keep the house tidy by following a "cleaning schedule", wash the car often, keep the car tidy, vaccum and wipe the interior down monthly, sell/list all of the stuff and handbags I have to sell on Ebay/KSL, stop buying more stuff and handbags that I hope to sell on Ebay/KSL, stop buying clothes for my children (they have enough), stop buying clothes for myself especially when it's not even the right size (wishful size 6 thinking), buy things that we need not things that we want, declutter, take parenting classes to help me be the mom who I want to be, spend quality time with those people who truly care about me, stop saying "we should get together" and just commit to a date, stop chasing people who have no time or interest in my life (sounds harsh but at some point you have to accept that some friendships will just never be), have families and couples over for dinner, schedule more one on one dates with the kids and continue having date night every weekend as a couple, plan monthly dinners with my 1989 forever friends, plan monthly dinners with my UT21 sistas, attend my RS enrichment meetings and invite a friend or neighbor, do acts of service for our neighbors and ward members, write thank you's and notes when inspired and actually mail them, send out birthday cards to every member of our family, make flash cards and teach Liam and Sara how to read, cut out felt stories (I've only owned them since Cole was a baby, 14 years ago), refinish the corner shelf in our TV room, organize family photos and create videos so we can enjoy them, delete pictures especially when there are 20 of the same pose (if I wouldn't post it or print it, delete it), blog more as it is my only source of journaling besides Instagram and Facebook, order chat books and blog books to bind our memories, write the children's books I've always wanted to write, record an album for my children, get family pictures printed and framed to create the family wall again (it's only been 2 years since we painted), stick with a nightly routine so we can have time for stories and chit chat instead of tears and harsh words and a tone that we always regret, stop wishing for bedtime and wishing the days away, count to 10 or step away when confronted with frustrating moments, or just flat our keep my cool, compliment my husband more, reach for my husband more, go to bed at a decent hour, stop shopping at the dreaded W@!!m@r+ because it gives me great anxiety EVERY single time I step foot in it, stop shopping at my beloved store +@rg3+ because I always walk away with things I don't need (just because it's on sale doesn't mean I'm saving money if I don't need it), and the list goes on and on.

So yes it's true that Mondays and the New Year brings great enthusiasm, new aspirations, and restored  hope, but with a list this long there is no way I can walk or even sprint away from my week and 2016 feeling accomplished. Sure I may be able to dig into this fresh jar of cookie butter, but I am sure to get stuck! And ain't nobody got time for that! Although I have a lot of lofty aspirations, many of them valid and worthy, I need to be kind and realistic to myself. I can be aware of the changes I need to make and strive for 100% participation, but I need to understand that no one is keeping an inventory but me. And if there are others taking inventory of my life then ain't nobody got time for them! I just want to be happy and if happiness comes from me eating no sugar or spending more time with my family, then I shall eat no sugar and spend more time with my family. Making lists, creating vision boards, setting goals are important, I get it. Sometimes even creating the list itself makes me feel accomplished. But a list this long only contradicts my intention of making the list. It's supposed to give me purpose and hope but instead it makes me feel overwhelmed and hopeless. Yes there are things that are a given, things that I should be doing anyway but if I don't follow a cleaning schedule is it really going to be a problem? Or if I do lose my cool does it mean that I am any less of a mother? No. It just means that I simply can't do it all. It's human nature to want what we don't have or feel the need to obtain things that we "think" we need but at some point for our own sanity it has to be enough! So for now I will focus on the things that I am doing and not on the things that I should be doing. I will wish for more days and fill them with satisfaction rather than disappointment because I am enough. I will go to bed each night knowing that I gave it my all! If I can strive to be a better version of me today than I was yesterday then it should be enough. And even then if I am worse today than I was yesterday then there's always tomorrow or Wednesday. That's it, I'll start on Wednesday because Wednesday is my new Monday!!

My name is Jodi and I am enough! 

Monday, November 30, 2015

My Quiet Heart

"My heart will be quiet now" is a simple yet beautiful phrase. They are the words written by someone who has loved and lost. But words that also describe the peace they felt when the love they lost was found. These are the words written by Sara's biological mother when she first learned that her daughter was rescued. This was her reply to a letter I wrote letting her know we had adopted Sara and that she is loved.

I had learned in our first meeting at the orphanage that Sara's birth mom had suffered depression after she chose to walk away from the hospital, leaving Sara behind. I cannot even imagine her pain and that is why at that very moment I knew I needed to find her. I knew her heart ached but I felt that I could help ease her pain if I could let her know Sara was safe. I had hoped that this knowledge would give her peace so she could move forward and find happiness again. I wasn't aware of the circumstances other than she chose to not bring her baby home because she was born with Down syndrome. But the details or circumstances didn't matter. What mattered was that this woman needed to know that her daughter was chosen, cherished, and loved.

In December of 2012, just a 2 months after Sara came home, I sent this message to a man who I believed was Sara's biological father. (I had searched for her mother but was unsure if I had found the right person, but was positively sure that this man was her father.)

Hello, I have decided to send you this message in hopes that you will receive it with comfort. Please understand that I only decided to write it because as a mother, I would want the same. We live in America and just recently adopted a baby girl from Kiev, Ukraine. I believe that you are this baby girl’s biological father. She was born on November 28, 2011. She was born with Down syndrome. If this is correct and you are indeed her biological father, I just wanted to let you know that your daughter was chosen to be part of our family. She is very loved and cherished and is doing well. We have four other children who simply love and adore her. I am not sure how this message will be received, but hopefully it will give you peace of mind. Like I said, as a mother, I would like to know that everything turned out the way it was meant to be. I do not expect you to respond but I am happy to answer questions you may have. I hope I have not offended you in any way and if so, I apologize. My intention was not to cause you grief but to let you know that your daughter now has a chance to blossom and bloom! Take care!

For days, then months I'd check to see if he had "seen" or read the message but he never did. So almost a year later I decided to send the woman who I believed was Sara's biological mother a similar message. I didn't want to frighten a complete stranger especially with the news of a child, but if she was the one she had to know. 4 days later I got a reply. She confirmed that she and her husband were indeed the biological parents of "the girl". She thanked me for being understanding and was glad that "she" had a family. She said "I am sure that you will give her what unfortunately here we won't be able to give. The decision to give her up was very hard but in our country we are not able to raise this child." Then she wrote "My heart will be quiet now." What beautiful words to hear especially knowing that this was my purpose in reaching out to her, to quiet her heart.

Finding each other has been a blessing for the both of us. We have kept in touch as we share news, stories, and photos. The first time I asked if she would like to see photos she said "Thank you that you are giving the opportunity to participate in her life. I am happy to see the photos, I have long wanted to ask you but I was afraid that you'd be against it." I am happy to share Sara's milestones and life's happenings as it brings me great joy. Sara is pure joy and her biological mother deserves to see her happy. She often will say "Thank you for the minutes of happiness which you give me."

I still don't have all the details of her birth or the circumstances behind their decision. I will never be angry at their decision because I feel it all happened as it was meant to. It may be hard for many to even comprehend how they could have left her if they loved her, but they did, and they do. Unless we've been there we cannot judge. I am just grateful that Sara's parents gave her life. I am grateful that we have the opportunity to give her a life. I am grateful that she blesses our lives and gives us another reason to live. It's our very own circle of life.

3 years ago I left a piece of my heart in Ukraine. Since then I have realized that I left it so Sara's mom could use it piece hers back together. Although I am sure her heart isn't completely healed, at least she knows that the love she lost has been found. At least I can provide her with "minutes of happiness". She often says"Sara is always in my heart, every minute." And "Part of my heart is always near her." This mother's heart will never be the same but at least it can be quiet for now. Shortly after we met Sara I wrote this which describes my heart. It too will never be the same.
My heart breaks, my heart heals. 
My heart loves, my heart feels. 
With every child it grows a little more because that is what my heart is for.

"I never cease to marvel at you and cannot stop saying thank you for all that you do for Sara and thus for me. For me it is very important."

It is important for me to do what I can for the mother who gave Sara life. And I will ever cease to marvel at His glorious plan. He is no doubt aware of all of His children! He loves each and every one of us and with that knowledge my heart will be quiet now too.