Saturday, August 22, 2009


Tomorrow is my daughters tenth birthday. This is one of the children we adopted so I wasn't present at her birth. Birthdays like this are bitter sweet for me because it reminds me of all I missed out on in her life.

This particular daughter was born ten weeks early with three types of drugs in her system. She really should have died that day but that wasn't in God's plan. She has grown and matured so much in the past ten years, her problems that were there at birth are now just a memory. That amazes me!

Ten is a big deal in the Hopkins household. All ten year olds in our house get a letter on their birthday from mom and dad. This letter not only tells them how much they are loved by God and their parents but it encourages them to become all they can be. It reminds them that they are an important part of God's plan. We try to point out where they've come from and the potential we see in them.

We started this tradition with our oldest son, a birth child, when we saw how hard it was for him during his 'tween years. It meant so much to him that he immediately wrote his sister a letter to tell her how special she was to him. Seeing that showed us that we were onto something.

Now each child in our family gets excited as their tenth birthday approaches. They eagerly anticipate the letter that mom and dad will write specially for them. Last year when another one of my daughters turned ten we sat at the table and read all the ten year old letters from my oldest son's to our newest ten year old.

So tomorrow we are looking forward to a breakfast of Monkey Bread and bacon as ordered by the birthday girl and some special time around the table reading ten year old letters. Then next week we get to do it all again for our next ten year old. Thanks to adoption we have two girls who will turn ten this month. They are only eight days apart. Our "almost twins" give us twice the fun!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Childhood Memory

Lately I've been reading some books on writing, trying to improve my skills. One book recommended a practice exercise of writing about a childhood memory. I remember doing this as a highschoool student and as a teacher assigning my students this very same exercise. How very different these two experiences were.

When I was the student writing about a childhood memory, it was wonderful to be able to go back in my mind to the small farm my grandparents owned. The house set pretty far off the road and was nothing spectacular but in the back was a natural play land for my cousins and me. Grandpa had a strawberry patch with the biggest and best berries I've ever tasted. (Grandma would fix them with sugar and milk, if they made it into the house). There was a small hill for rolling down, a path to hike and trees to climb. I loved that house and I especially loved my Grandpa. One of my earliest memories is a time when I was supposed to be taking a nap but instead I was watching Grandpa mow the yard with his "baby tractor". Writing about that was fun for me.

Remembering the good experience I had remembering my childhood and writing about it, I asked my older children to write a story about their earliest memory. This writing exercise for them was healing but not much fun. When I assigned this I didn't think much about the early memories of my adopted children. They didn't have much they could or wanted to remember from their days with their birth parents. What they did remember wasn't pretty. One of my kids talked about her first memory....a ride in a police car after being taken by DCF from their apartment. There were memories of a younger sibling climbing on the roof, of being scared and trying to keep the toddler from joining her sister out the window. Memories of feeding the baby peanut butter so it would have something to eat while waiting for birth mom to come home after spending the weekend at the bar. And on and on go the sad tales of these kids. A simple writing assignment brought up so many memories and so much pain. Pain that I can not even imagine. However walking through the pain with them has brought so much healing.

As a family we are learning to praise God for memories, good and bad. We are also gaining the courage to uncover more and more memories so we can work through them and be stronger in faith and character on the other side.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Celebrating the Small Victories

This is a big year for us....this year our youngest is in kindergarten and for the first time in about 14 years I don't have a baby or toddler to entertain while I teach the others in our home school. Guess that would have to count as one small victory and yet it saddens me. I miss having a little one.

Today was the first day of school for the new school year. This year I'm trying to start slowly and get the kids used to the routine little by little. So this morning we slept in a little and didn't start school til about 10am then did about half of what we will do when school hits full swing. Sleeping in certainly counts as a victory!

I wasn't sure what to expect out of the kids as far as excitement level and behavior. I figured it could go either way.....they could be greatly excited and well behaved cause they can't wait for this induction of knowledge OR they could buck the system and complain all day that the public schools haven't started yet. Much to my surprise neither scenario happened. The children got up, got ready and we began school without any major blow ups or whining but no dancing and singing either. Another v-i-c-t-o-r-y.

But the largest victory of the day was my little RADlet who did her school work without a meltdown!! Not one!! Even when she missed problems in math she did not groan in frustration, throw the pencil or tear the pages out of the book. We have made some fabulous progress here!!

So in honor of our small victories I would like to sing a song I learned in church as a child. (Thanks Chuck, for teaching this to me....I still sing it and think of you. Someday I will join you in Heaven and we can sing it again together:)

V is for victory, shout it out, it's a glorious word
V is for victory, it is our through Christ our Lord
Some days may be dark and drear
In Christ the way's all clear
For we have victory, victory in Christ our Lord
V-I-C-T-O-R-Y victory, victory
V-I-C-T-O-R-Y victory, victory

As I sing, I'm doing "the dance"!! Something you are probably glad you can't see;)

What small victories do you have to celebrate? I would love to share in the celebration with you if you'd like to share.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

God is Helping Me Handle It

Today my five year old son pooped in the potty! I know, by five that should be old news. Most of my friends kids had that down at two.

But my child is adopted and though we've had him most of his life; he has suffered abuse that has caused him to act out and be less mature than others his age. Being too young to get much help from talk therapy, we have tried to just be patient and understanding about his problems. We use stories and play to help him know the way he should behave.

This morning after his father had helped him in the bathroom, he came to me to tell me that he had made it to the toilet. He was grinning ear to proud of himself. He looked at me and said, "Mommy, I didn't even get any in my underwear. God is helping me handle it!"

Out of the mouths of babes..... To hear him say that was such and encouragement to me. He is "getting it" and he knows where his help comes from.

Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the hills-- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip-- he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD watches over you-- the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm-- he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.