Monday, October 20, 2014

Karis Update

I know that to most of you probably think we have fallen off the face of the earth.  I have been particularly horrible about returning phone calls and e-mails.  It is not that I find your friendship unimportant, it is just that right now my Mommy job is all consuming...on a whole new level.

I debated writing this post, but I had a good conversation with a dear friend today....and felt it made things a lot easier on both ends of the friendship to be open and honest about our transition period. We know so many have prayed for us during the whole adoption process and we really covet your prayers so much during this transition and bonding time.

We have decided to scale back Nathan and Owen's birthday party to mainly family.  Right now we just can't have a large group of people in our home.  Karis would seek love and affection from each of them, thus continuing to delay her bonding with our family.

It will also be a very rare occasion to find the Hite 6 out in public together.  Karis came from an environment where everyone was a caregiver.  The concept of just a Mom and Dad is new to her.  She is evaluating everyone and deciding who would be fun to be with for awhile.  Just two random examples of innocent situations that turn harmful to our bonding process.
1) several weeks ago we were at a Samford game.  We had her close by us, to try as control all the situations.  A family came up to us that loved special needs kids and were talking to Nathan and Owen.  We were about 20 feet from the concession stand and Karis caught the eye of one of the workers.  The lady gave her a bag of chips...for free.  Wow, what a super nice lady...I mean, who gives free chips from the concession stand....WRONG...Karis sees a lady that just gave her a great treasure....and her Mom and Dad did not provide her any treasures at that moment. Right then, that lady is more appealing.
2) Each week we go to community group at church.  There is yummy food, fun, other kids but most importantly to her...dessert.  In Karis's mind Mr. X house is so much better than ours because there we get chocolate cake and at home she needs to do horrible things like brush her teeth.  Again, an innocent situation...that is just not good for bonding.  
Eventually we will bond enough that these will not be real issues, but for now they are huge.

We are not sure how long bonding will take, but it will be quite a while.  I wish she was small enough for us to put her in an ergo...but I am pretty sure they don't make them for a 4'2", 8 year old.

I know many of you have inquired as to how she is progressing in her English, in school, etc.  This is another great area of prayer.  We have her testing results from the International Adoption Clinic.  Just a quick glance at her results:
Cognitive level: 24 months
Expressive Communication: 12-18 months
Gross Motor Skills: 24 months
Fine Motor Skills: 24-30 months
She also has trouble with more than a one step direction.  I did not realize until I counted today that a trip to the bathroom is an 18 step process.  She needs cuing for all 18 steps or she cannot move through the process.  She literally freezes until you tell/show the next step.  Some days she stands at the dining room table not able to process, even with verbal cues, that it is time to get in the chair, or even eat. There are areas of good progress.  She can now buckle the seatbelt...most of the time...if she is given about 5 minutes to complete the task.  She is also understanding lots of English!!!

She is so beautiful and precious to us.  She is a real gift from God and we love her.  She has a long road ahead of her and we just ask that you pray for this road, show our family grace and patients during this time and when she is ready to meet you, love her as you do our other children.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Owen's medical attention

He did well for his check up.

Monday, October 13, 2014

International Adoption Clinic Day

Today we spent 5 hours at the International Adoption Clinic. It was incredibly educational and I am so glad we attended. There were a few things they emphasized for us to share with friends and family.  They have spent years studying and working with internationally adopted children and their families, so their advice is very valuable to the health of our family!

1) Karis needs to have her needs met by ONLY Preston and I.  Do not give her a drink of water, a napkin, ANYTHING!  Do not ask if you can give her something...the answer is NO.

2) Karis needs to show affection to Preston and I.  It is not healthy for her to hug and wave at everyone.  It is not cute and friendly. She has "indiscriminate affection" and needs to learn that every stranger will not provide her needs and show her love the ways her parents will. If she is given affection by everyone her attachment will take much longer or may never develop fully. 

3) If she reaches for a hug, give her one high-five and be done....physically turn your body away from her.  If she gets your attention (which she should not) and asks for more turn to Preston and I.  Tell her to give hugs to her mommy or daddy.  If she blows kisses at you, follow the same procedure as above.

4) Show 99.9% of your attention to the biological children.  They are going through lots of changes too and need reassurance.  This also allows Preston and I to do the focusing we need to on Karis.

5) If a biological child, in our case only Logan, shares their feelings or examples of behavior in the home.  Just LISTEN.  Do Not try to correct him for his feelings. Be glad he has felt comfortable enough with you to open up.

These rules apply to EVERYONE.  If neccessary we will limit our time spent outside of the home until bonding is occurring appropriately....which is going to take a long time.

Thank you for helping us during this time of transition.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

11 years later...

In October of 2003, Preston and I participated in our first mission trip.  We went to Ecuador to help construct pastor cabins at a camp missionaries Steve and Carol were beginning to make a reality.  We loved missions, Ecuador, the Thompson's etc and new God was calling us to go back.  We returned in April of 2004.

Since that time God has lead us down different paths.  Trips to Dominican Republic, Honduras, Germany, China, Liberia, Cambodia, Lebanon and Ukraine have all shown us a glimps of God's love for His entire world.

In 2006 God gave us a vision for using Preston's profession in a way that directly praised Him through vocational work in a mission setting.  Now, 8 years, 4 kids and a lifetime of change and growth (or so it seems) later God is using Preston's job at Samford to fulfill the vision.  Senior thesis will travel twice to Ecuador; once to see the sight and pre-design and once to construct the finish project.  Our family will spend one month this summer in Ecuador participating alongside the students in constructing their project.  I am so excited that Preston is there now getting everything set for the upcoming travel year!

Having fun

We are having lots of fun this fall.  

Two weeks ago I had the pro ledge of accompanying Logan's class to The National Weather Service.  It was tons of fun and very educational!

Ranae and I had a fun sister weekend!  We went to Frankenmuth, MI...our childhood home.  We ran a 1/2 marathon, visited a few people, relaxed in the hot tub and just had a great time together!

Logan's class planted flowers at Alabama Children's Home this past week for their service project.

Yesterday the kids baked and frosted cookies.  They had fun!
Owen purposefully missed his cookie!

Today we headed to the Homewood Pumpkin Patch and Fall Festival. 
(Still working on the concept of smiling for pictures)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Update on Karis

Last, but not least, Karis.  She is enjoying adjusting to our family and her life in the US.  

Karis loved getting her hair cut.

She also enjoyed a trip to the pool.

Karis's first pair of sunglasses.  She wanted to wear them up on her head because she sees mine on my head most of the time.

First trip to the dentist.

First day of school.

Sliding down the Samford football stadium hill with Logan.

Roller skating at Logan's party.

At Grandparents Night!