Thursday, March 31, 2011

You just broke your child...congratulations...

You just broke your child. Congratulations by Dan Pearce

October 6, 2010 by Scott Hammond
Filed under Family, Fathering

You just broke your child. Congratulations.
Dads. Stop breaking your children. Please.

I feel a need to write this post after what I witnessed at Costco yesterday. Forgive me for another post written in desperation and anger. Please read all the way to the end. I know it’s long, but this is something that needs to be said. It’s something that needs to be heard. It’s something that needs to be shared.

As Noah and I stood in line to make a return, I watched as a little boy (he couldn’t have been older than six) looked up at his dad and asked very timidly if they could buy some ice cream when they were done. The father glared him down, and through clenched teeth, growled at the boy to “leave him alone and be quiet”. The boy quickly cowered to the wall where he stood motionless and hurt for some time.

The line slowly progressed and the child eventually shuffled back to his father as he quietly hummed a childish tune, seemingly having forgotten the anger his father had just shown. The father again turned and scolded the boy for making too much noise. The boy again shrunk back and cowered against the wall, wilted.

I was agitated. I was confused. How could this man not see what I see? How could this man not see what a beautiful spirit stood in his shadow? How could this man be so quick to stub out all happiness in his own boy? How could this man not cherish the only time he’ll ever have to be everything to this boy? To be the person that matters most to this boy?

We were three from the front now, and the boy started to come towards his dad yet again. His dad immediately stepped out of the line, jammed his fingers into his son’s collar bones until he winced in pain, and threatened him. “If you so much as make a sound or come off of that wall again, I promise you’re going to get it when we get home.” The boy again cowered against the wall. This time, he didn’t move. He didn’t make a sound. His beautiful face pointed down, locked to the floor and expressionless. He had been broken. And that’s how his father wanted it. He didn’t want to deal with him, and breaking him was the easiest way.

And we wonder why so many of our kids grow up to be screwed up.

I’m going to be blunt. People see my relationship with Noah, and quite often put me up on a pedestal or sing my praises for loving him more than most dads love their own kids.

Damn it. I don’t understand that, and I’ll never understand that. Loving my son, building my son, touching my son, playing with my son, being with my son… these aren’t tasks that only super dads can perform. These are tasks that every dad should perform. Always. Without fail. There is nothing special about me. I am a dad who loves his son and would literally do anything for his well-being, safety, and health. I would gladly take a rake in the face or a jackhammer to my feet before I cut my own son down or make him feel small.

[sigh] I am far from a perfect dad. And I always will be. But I’m a damn good dad, and my son will always feel bigger than anything life can throw at him. Why? Because I get it. I get the power a dad has in a child’s life, and in a child’s level of self-belief. I get that everything I ever do and ever say to my son will be absorbed, for good or for bad. What I don’t get is how some dads don’t get it.

Dads. Do your faces light up when you first see your child in the morning or when you come home from work? Do you not understand that a child’s entire sense of value can revolve around what they see in your face when you first see them?

Dads. Do you not realize that a child is what you tell them they are? That people almost always become what they are labeled? Was whatever your child just did really the “dumbest thing you’ve ever seen somebody do”? Was it really the “most ridiculous thing they ever could have done”? Do you really believe that your child is an idiot? Because she now does. Think about that. Because you said it, she now believes it. Bravo.

Dads. Do you honestly expect anybody to believe that you can’t find 20 minutes to step away from your computer or turn off the television to play with your child? It has to happen every single day. Do you not understand that children will hinge their entire facet of trust on whether or not their dad plays with them and how involved he is when he plays with them? Do you know the damage you do by not playing with your children every day?

Dads. Should anybody buy into this silly notion that anger is sometimes or often necessary? Do you not understand that anger is almost always an emotion for people who wish to control others while simultaneously failing to control themselves? Do you not know that there are incredible books and courses that can teach you better methods? Most importantly, do you not see the speed at which a child is crushed or becomes completely defiant when anger rules the roost? Are you that desensitized to the luminosity of your child’s spirit that it doesn’t crush you completely when they flinch or cower in your presence? Is that really what you want your child to do? To fear you?

Dads. Do you not realize that your child needs to feel your skin on his? Do you not realize the incredible and powerful bond that skin on skin contact with your daughter will give you? Do you not understand the permanent mental connections that are made when you stroke your son’s bare back or rub your daughter’s bare tummy while you tell bedtime stories? And if any idiot says anything about that being inappropriate, you’re gonna get kicked in the face, first by me, and then by every other good dad out there. Touching your child is your duty as a father.

Dads. Wake up! These precious souls that have been put into your care are unique and so very sensitive. Everything you say or don’t say will impact their ability, success, and happiness throughout their entire lives.

Do you not realize that your kids are going to make mistakes, and a lot of them? Do you not realize the damage you do when you push your son’s nose into his mishaps or make your daughter feel worthless because she bumped or spilled something? Do you have any idea how easy it is to make your child feel abject? It’s as simple as letting out the words, “why would you do that!?” or “how many times have I told you…”

Let me ask you this. Have you ever looked into the swollen eyes of a parent who’s child has just died?

I have.

Have you ever cried through a child’s funeral?

I have.

Have you ever touched a wooden box with a child inside? A permanent tomb from which another laugh or giggle will never sound?

I have.

If you want the motivation to be the best parent on earth, do that just one time. I pray you never have to.

Dads. It’s time to tell our kids that we love them. Constantly. It’s time to show our kids that we love them. Constantly. It’s time to take joy in their twenty-thousand daily questions and their inability to do things as quickly as we’d like. It’s time to take joy in their quirks and their ticks. It’s time to take joy in their facial expressions and their mispronounced words. It’s time to take joy in everything that our kids are.

It’s time to stand up and ask what we can do to be better dads. It’s time to get our priorities straight. It’s time to come home and actually be a dad.

Dads. It’s time to show our sons how to properly treat a woman. It’s time to show our daughters how a girl should expect be treated. It’s time to show forgiveness and compassion. It’s time to show our children empathy. It’s time to break social norms and teach a healthier way of life! It’s time to teach good gender roles and to ditch the unnecessary ones. Does it really matter if your son likes the color pink? Is it going to hurt anybody? Do you not see the damage it inflicts to tell a boy that there is something wrong with him because he likes a certain color? Do we not see the damage we do in labeling our girls “tom boys” or our boys “feminine” just because they have their own likes and opinions on things? Things that really don’t matter?

Dads. Speak softly to your sons. Speak calmly to your daughters. Who do you want your child to be? Do you want him to be the kid at school that sits by himself with absolutely no friends or self esteem? Or do you want him to be the kid running for class office and feeling like he deserves to win it? Do we not see that we have the power to give that to our children? Do we not see that we have the power to teach our children the tools of societal survival?

Dads. Do we not see the influence we have when we say we believe in one thing, but our children see us living something else? Do we not realize how little we encourage our children to actually decide what they believe, declare what they believe, and then live by it? Whether it’s religion, politics, sports, or societal norms. It is not our place to tell our kids what to think. It is our place to teach our kids to think correctly. If we do this, we need have no fear of what they will decide for themselves and how strongly they’ll stand behind it. A man will follow his own convictions to his death, but he’ll only follow another man’s convictions until he steps in manure.

Damn it, Dads. Every child has the innate right to ask for ice cream without being belittled and broken. Every child has the innate right to do so without being made to cower in the corner because the man who is supposed to be his hero is actually a small, small man altogether. Every child has the innate right to be happy, and giggle, and laugh, and play. Why aren’t you letting them? Every child on earth has the right to a dad who thinks before he speaks; a dad who understands the great power that has been given to him to ultimately shape another human being’s life; a dad who loves his child more than he loves his television shows or sports games; a dad who loves his child more than his material junk; a dad who loves his child more than his time. Every child deserves a superhero dad.

Maybe the truth is that a lot of dads don’t deserve their kids.

Maybe the truth is that a lot of dads aren’t really dads at all.

I apologize for the heatedness of my post. I believe a part of me feels like a coward for not saying something to the man in front of me at Costco. Consider this post to be my penance. Perhaps a part of me feels that if even one person reads this and decides to be a better dad, it was worth every second that I spent typing it. If one child has a better life because something in my words stirred their father to step up their game, then it was worth every ounce of begging and pleading with you to share this with others, of which I am inevitably going to be guilty.

Dads. Children are gifts. They are not ours for the breaking. They are ours for the making. So stand up with me and show the world that there are a lot of good dads around.

To the men and women who read this post… married or not… parent or not… share this post on Facebook and Twitter, even if it doesn’t apply to you because you’re already all these things. If you’ve ever seen a father break his child, share it. You never know what child might get his superhero dad back. You never know what tiny spirit might feel just a little more loved because Dad took the time to tuck her in tonight.

All because you were willing to paste one link and ask others to read it.

Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing Pleading

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Death... and then a new beautiful life.

Easter is rapidly approaching us. Of course this means Easter candy, cute little fuzzy bunnies and chickens, hiding eggs, and getting together with family and friends to celebrate the holiday. Often times many forget what Easter is all about. I have to admit, year after year, I stress out about what to put in those Easter baskets knowing all along that the baskets have absolutely nothing to do with the real Easter. Like Christmas, the real meaning of Easter has been long forgotten for many people.

Christians know that Christ died on the cross for our sins. He died on the cross, and was resurrected on the third day giving us new life. I know that not all of you that read this blog are Christians. Believe me when I tell you, there is no judgment here. It has been a long time coming for me...believing. I have not always had faith. In fact, not until recently would I say that I had complete faith the God even existed. Thanks to Haiden, my faith is alive and well. I believe, because it makes sense to me. I believe, because if I didn't, why even get up in the morning. To me, there would be nothing to live for because there would be nothing to die for.

I have to admit, I am a baby Christian. I can't quote scripture, I don't know my way around the bible very well, and I basically have a child like understanding of it all. But that doesn't stop me in believing in God and believing that He knows what He is doing. I will tell you what I do know. Everything happens for a reason. Everything that happens is His plan. Of course, just like that rest of you, I don't always agree with, or understand the reasons behind it. I have to faith! Faith is what is getting me through this entire adoption process. Our pursuit of Martin is a good example. So much is involved in an international adoption. I know I don't have to explain this to many of you. There is so much paperwork, there are the stated laws, there are the unstated laws, there are guidelines, there are rules written and unwritten, and somehow we are expected to know all of them and adhere to them as well. Now, just because there are rules, laws, and guidelines, it doesn't mean that everyone has to follow them. You just have to know when, who, and where, and what lines can't be crossed. That is the hard part! After we lost Martin, I blurred the line. Let me tell you, I never meant any harm to anyone. It all started out with a simple suggestion from a friend that had been down the adoption road. Apparently, the suggestion wasn't as simple as I thought and I ended up getting a wonderful woman in trouble, and got ourselves into a little bit of trouble as well. I was so scared that we weren't going to be able to adopt because of this. So, we had just lost Martin, and then I might have just lost us another child as well. Not to mention, I got someone in trouble that has been so helpful to us. My faith in in everything was in jeopardy. I was losing hope and starting to question everything in my life. So, I took everyone's advice and started praying, and praying, and praying. I prayed until I fell asleep at night and when I woke up I would pick up where I left off. I didn't get the answers that I wanted. I was just hoping that God would leave a Post-It note on the coffee maker in the kitchen so I would see it in the morning. That never happened. What did happen was Paul. I asked for a child that would be a good match for our family, and for a child that needs us. I hope and I pray that Martin is with his loving family and that they love him more than I could. If this is true, and it has to be true, then this is part of God's perfect for 2 reasons. One, of course being that Martin has his family. Two, being another child has a chance at a life with a family that loves him more than he can imagine. Two children are now being saved. Two beautiful children living, but not really LIVING...being born again into a beautiful new life. I believe this is all possible through Him.

We are getting so close to our final goal of $21,000. We have a few more fundraisers lined up and I am so excited about them. I have such high hopes. But for now, I am going to ask...actually plead with all of you...please be Paul's Easter warrior. For those of you that don't know, Reece's Rainbow makes many successful attempts to raise money and awareness for the children on RR. The big ones are the Christmas Warrior and the Easter Warrior. The goal is for someone to become Paul's warrior and take it upon themselves to find donors. The goal is to reach $1000 but of course...the more the better! We are also hoping that everyone out there will make just a $25 donation to Paul's fund. We would be fully funded if just 132 more people would donate $25! Please, also help our family get Paul home by spreading the word and my blog. Every little bit helps, and you just never know who will see this page and want to help.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Dear Paul,

Dear Paul,

I have a confession to make. I fear that I have been holding back on you. I fear that I have been keeping my distance from you in order not to get my heart broken again. I am so scared my little man. I look at you and feel so much love for a little boy I have not even met. This is how it starts. All this love from just looking at a picture that is outdated. I know nothing about you. I don't know what your health is like or how far along developmentally you are. Are you walking? Are you feeding yourself? Do you play well with others? Where in the world are you? I don't even know where you are! But...this all ends now...tonight. I am opening my heart and soul to you because you deserve to be loved unconditionally. I am opening my heart to you and all of the feelings that come with that. It's not your fault that I have fears is it? None of this is your fault. I hope that you know that. I pray that you know that. I pray every single night for you Paul. I pray that people understand how important it is to keep this paperwork moving. I pray that we get a travel date in a couple of weeks. I pray that soon I am holding you and hugging you and making sure you know what you have a mommy and daddy. I think about you tucked into your new bed all warm sharing a room with your brother! What trying times those will be. I'm pretty sure that Haiden is not going to let you sleep. You two will be up all night getting into all your toys. Your toys Paul! Your bed! Your mommy, daddy, and brothers! What a full house you are going to be living in. It's going to be so full of love that one day you'll look back from where you came, and it will just be a fading memory. A memory from a lifetime ago. A lifetime that I hope you find yourself having trouble remembering. But if you do remember, just always know that no matter what, you will have loving arms to take you in when you need a hug followed by a kiss so that you know you are loved. I love you my sweet Paul and I am sending my love many miles away so you can feel some warmth while you sleep.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

For those of you that read my blog....

I have a favor to ask all of you that follow this blog. My friend Natalie has a wonderful blog and she is always doing a little something to help us raise money for Paul. She started her blog a long time ago after seeing Martin and falling in love with him. I think she was his biggest fan! Now that our Martin has a home she is advocating for Paul! Please follow her blog and if there is any fundraiser that you want to participate in please feel free. The blog is....

Thank you!

Take it, or leave it.....

Take a look at this face!
Today, this little boy has been discriminated against by Mt. Ararat Baptist Church for the last time! I think that I can say that we gave them plenty of chances to do the right thing and do right by our son, but they blew it. I guess I'll start at the beginning and try not to get so mad that this ends up turning into a rant and rave fest. It started 2 weeks ago when we printed off Haiden's name tag for his class. I don't know how many churches do it like this, but this one you are required to check in your children and out prints 2 tags. One goes on the kid, and one stays with the parent so when you go to pick yours us, you show the volunteer and they check to make sure your numbers match. That way they an ensure that nobody is trying to run off with your child. Anyway, we printed off Haiden's and Noah's. I quickly scanned over the names so we could slap them on their backs and throw them in the room and run to make service late as always. Soooooo...I scanned the tag to see who's was who's and the 2 words Down and syndrome popped out. The name tag read....

Haiden House
Down syndrome

I would not lie about something like that! Shocked, then pissed, then sad, then ready to rip that little section off. Those were the emotions that I first felt. Of course our blood was boiling but we weren't about to deal with the ignorant lady we had dealt with the first week. So we decided to wait until after service, get home, and then email or call the woman in charge of the children's ministry. We called and email and got no response. I did get an auto email saying she was out of town until the 16th so I figured I could wait it out. So the following weekend we were out of town so we missed church. I won't even go on about how I had to make sure and call Haiden's buddy that the church set him up with to let her know our plans and that we were not going to be at church. Just what I want to do. Check in with a 16 year old! Just one more layer, one more thing that we have to do because we can't just go to church and drop both of our kids off. We have to line everything up and make sure all involved are able to do their part. Then today came...of course filled with anxiety because we knew that those 2 words were on our baby's name tag. They mine as well be big, flashing, neon arrows pointing to his back. I printed off the name tag and did a quick scan to see if his medical diagnosis was still on it. It was! We politely asked one of the ladies standing there is they could get on their computer and remove it. After all, they were literally putting a label on our child that we have been working so hard to steer clear of. Guess what, she didn't know so she had to go ask someone else. Then came loud mouth man into the picture. We asked him the same question and he acted like this was going to be a huge problem and speaking at a volume that was not quite the indoor voice everyone else was using. Charlie asked him if he could get on the computer and remove it. He said no because everyone there were volunteers and they needed to be prepared in case something happened. We told him that there was nothing to prepare for. He had Down syndrome, not epilepsy or a deadly peanut allergy. He only has a runny nose because he needs his tubes replaced! Charlie then tried with the medical diagnosis and how you can't just put it out there for everyone to read and he said it had nothing to do with confidentiality. WTF?!?! So of course I just had to tell him that is was inappropriate and then Charlie asked me to go drop off Noah. I know that he was wanting me to leave so I didn't hit him or start getting loud. I haven't really got that calm thing down when someone is dissing my baby! Apparently, Charlie had to finally tell him to shut his mouth so he could talk. But here is how it ended with that guy. He says this to Charlie....

"I don't really want to tell you take it or leave it but....."

Charlie scooped up Haiden ready to "leave it" when another lady walked up and asked what the problem was. He asked her if she could take it off and she said "sure". It will be off next week. To bad we won't be there next week. If that ignorant ass could have handled himself better than I think maybe we would go again. I know that change doesn't happen overnight but they have to have more than one willing person in that church!

So, when is enough, enough? I know last time I wrote about this I was throwing around the idea of wanting to stick it out to educate and thinking exposure would help. Clearly I was wrong. I don't think that I should use my son to educate any longer. I just want him to go where he is loved but more importantly where he doesn't stick out like a sore thumb with a name tag that says Down syndrome on it. Just a name tag that says Haiden House! To much to ask, I don't think so.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

New Little Boy, New Background...

So, I have been debating on whether I should keep this blog or start a new one. Since Martin is no longer coming home to us Paul is! I was thinking at first that Finding Martin is no longer fitting, but then changed my mind. Because we found Martin, we found Paul therefore we are keeping this blog address. I'm still trying to think of a new title though.

Anyway, we are trying to relax and get sleep now. Before this little pause, I think we were stressing out so much it all became a blur. We are slowing down...just a little bit...just so we can think before we move and have a better idea of what is going on around us! For those of you interested in where we are in the process of adopting Paul, we are working on finding a psychologist to do a psychological evaluation on our children. The Russian Guidelines now require this of us. Just another hoop for all the wonderful families to jump through so we can prove how much we really do want to make these children a part of our families. Well, we'll jump then! The problem is finding someone that will get us in soon. Everyone is saying they have a 2-3 months wait. We think that we found someone, but we are just waiting to hear back from his assistant if we is willing to do this. Fingers crossed that we hear back today. If so, he can get us in this week! Once this is done we have to once again get it notarized, apostilled, and mailed to our agency in Tucson. They will then look over it and send it off to Russia where the rest of our paperwork is waiting. After it gets there, we should have a travel date within 10-14 days. Just one last barrier before we get to see our son...I hope anyway. As we have learned in the past, anything can happen!

So please pray for our family and for Paul that we can get this paperwork done and sent in so we can go see our baby! We still have money to raise and this little pause has hurt our fundraising. So pray that we can get caught up so Paul isn't waiting around on us to collect enough money!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Putting stuff back together.

I just wanted to put a quick post out there for all our followers. I am in the process of starting a new blog and when I do I'll post the new address here in case any of you want to follow our progress in adopting Paul. Thank you so much for all of your support and thank you for actually reading our blog. I never thought that I would have so many people following our family and our story. It means the world to us!