cover photo

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The Chaos Reigns
"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that our lives belong to each other." - Mother Teresa

Friday, December 27, 2013

First Christmas- Top 10

Top 10 moments from the 2013 Fantz family Christmas. 


(Gia and Jude's 1st Christmas)

10. Caroline bursting into tears when we told the kids we were keeping the abandoned puppy we found. (She did not want the puppy.)

9. Arriving at mass with 6 kids over a half hour early and being told the church is full and then having to jet to another church late to stand.
8. Finding Jude quietly eating candy off of the gingerbread house.


7. Finding Gia in the back room eating candy from her siblings stockings after she finished all her stocking candy by 9:00 am.


6. Jude having no interest in his own presents and instead spent the entire day strategizing how to take his siblings toys. Gia and Molly screaming as Jude yells "my stroller" "my baby" as he pushes around their new doll strollers.


5. Jude pointing and screaming "Jesus" anytime he spotted Santa Claus.
4.  Joel putting boxes on his head to terrify all his little siblings.

3. Jude putting boxes on his head and running into our walls screaming.
2. Jude deciding to help himself to the turkey drumstick at Christmas dinner. (And yes, he finished it.)

1. Molly deciding to bring her potty into to the living room to do her business while we were playing charades with the family and Grandparents. (no picture necessary)

We finally had to put Jude to bed with a screaming tantrum after he had stolen the 100th toy of the day.
(Next year we are getting a babysitter for Jude. lol)

Merry Christmas from the crazy Fantz clan!



Sunday, November 3, 2013

Orphan Sunday - Miracle of the Loaves

Today is Orphan Sunday. It is estimated that there are over 132 million orphans world-wide. That is an overwhelmingly big number. 

But, it is not too big for God....if we follow His will.




My feelings about our adoption have changed a lot since China. And, it is really miraculous.

At a Mass a few weeks after we returned home from China, the reading was on the Miracle of the Loaves. 


It hit home for me on my feelings in China.

Jesus spoke to the crowds about the kingdom of God,
and he healed those who needed to be cured.
As the day was drawing to a close,
the Twelve approached him and said,
"Dismiss the crowd
so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms
and find lodging and provisions;
for we are in a deserted place here." Luke 9:10

The apostles told Jesus to send the crowds away.  They had a mess on their hands that needed to be avoided. The numbers were overwhelming to the Apostles.

He said to them, "Give them some food yourselves."
They replied, "Five loaves and two fish are all we have,
unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people."  Luke 9:12-13

They did not have enough resources to feed all these people.  


That was me. I was overwhelmed by the number in our family. I felt like we took on more than was even possible to handle. We just took in two little kids of trauma... we were relying on our 2 kids traveling with us to help us. Juggling 4 in China was close to impossible... and we had 2 more little ones at home. Maybe some people can handle this...but not me. I was telling God this was just too much. Not possible. I was telling God this was a mess. Too many. Too much.


Now the men there numbered about five thousand.
Then he said to his disciples,
"Have them sit down in groups of about fifty."
They did so and made them all sit down.
Then taking the five loaves and the two fish,
and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing over them, broke them,
and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.  Luke 9:14-17

13 to 5000.  But, Jesus wasn't overwhelmed. He had complete trust in heavenly Father to provide. His response to the disciple was I am going to feed them, and I am going to do it through you. Notice how Jesus didn't feed them. He allowed the miracle to happen and had the Apostles feed the crowd.   

God kept saying to me...I chose you. I will provide for all of their needs. 


But, you see I am a very unqualified candidate for God to choose.  


I love.... 


peace and quiet,


my individual time with my kids,


my time,


my grand ambitions,

my grand ambitions for each of my children,


showering my kids with all kinds of crazy individual attention.


God knows this


...and He knows better.


See...His plan for each of my children is way more ambitious than mine.  


And, He knows what I would plan if I only had one or two children.  


They all ate and were satisfied.
And when the leftover fragments were picked up,
they filled twelve wicker baskets. Luke 9:17

God provided them with more than they needed.

Six months later, I can now see the fruit. I see how God breaks up our children into these smaller groups, so He can provide for all their daily needs.

I can see Jude and Gia's transformation. I can see how they are beginning to heal and become the children they were created to be. I can see the true miracle of their lives, and what a blessing they are for our family.

God's plans for each of us is way bigger than our small plans. If we follow His will..not ours. We will have true peace.

Maybe God is calling you to adoption. But, maybe more children (or having children) seems like way too much. Too many. Too hard. 

Adoption is a journey of redemption. It is a hard and can seem overwhelming at times. 

But, maybe you are being called to take part in the miracle.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

Jude and Gia's 1st Halloween

What is not fun about going to people's houses and getting candy.


They were pretty excited about this concept...


I am hoping the neighbors giving out candy in frightening masks gave Gia some much needed stranger anxiety.


Jude and Gia loved giving out candy to the trick or treaters even more. Imagine 4 little kiddos fighting over who gets to put candy in kids bags. It was quite the scary scene to come to our house. Lots of shrieking and screaming.


I'm preparing for 6 kids who will have a frightening candy hangover tomorrow. It will be a long day.


Happy Halloween!!




Thursday, October 17, 2013

Layers of the Onion- Part 1 {Medical and Attachment}

The adoption community talks about uncovering the many layers of the onion when getting an institutionalized child back on track developmentally. This has been a pretty intense process for us to accomplish with Jude and Gia....


Medical....

The medical appointments have been countless. Trying to rule out this...rule out that. When we first brought them home, our pediatrician ran blood test on every potential blood born disease known to man. Twice. We actually just finished our 3rd round at Children's yesterday. Everything has come back negative the first 2 times, so we are hopeful we are in the clear. Same goes for stool tests..and we have treated everything.  I am pretty sure Gia's parasite was the reason for her malnutrition.

Jude's heart
Jude's had his echo and EKG on his heart, and the cardiologist said everything looked great except for a slightly large aorta. He thought Jude probably just had a typical 3 month old heart murmur. He hypothesized that the murmur probably just made him eligible for international adoption, and it was never anything serious. However, because of the slightly enlarged aorta, we do need to go back for another screening in a year. But, overall great news!!


Gia..
I am so thankful the first major palette surgery is behind us. I still need to have her kidney's screened (I guess the external ears develop the same time as the kidneys, so because of her ear deformities, she needs to have a kidney ultrasound). We also just saw a GI specialist for another round of testing.

Gia failed her first two hearing test, but after the second set of tubes, she finally passed!! Although she failed her early childhood screening one a few weeks later.:(  I am confident she can hear fairly well, but maybe not softer sounds...and of course, she is very selective in her hearing. :)

Attachment
Gia..

Here are some signs that a child has had some sort of serious disruption in their attachment cycle...Gia is showing many of these signs....OK all of them.

Superficially engaging and charming behavior (Gia will smile and jump into laps of strangers while she treats us like we are neglectful abusive caregivers. This hurts my heart so much, especially since I spend practically 24/7 with her.)
Lack of eye contact on parental terms (She will always look away when trying to promote eye contact.)
Lack of impulse control (She is into everything and does not remember boundaries.)
Learning lags (We see holes in her cognitive development.) 
Lack of cause and effect thinking (Does not comprehend simple discipline like time-outs/ins. We have brought out a lot of baby cause and effect toys to help in this area.)
Inappropriate demands and clingy behavior (Clings to us for dear life...but pushes us away as soon as we insert any structure in her life.)
Overacts to negative stimulation.  (If you do anything uncomfortable....like wipe her nose, she screams like she is being tortured to death)
Hyper-vigilant to their surrounding (She sometimes darts her head in fear back and forth when something startles her.)
Cannot maintain play with other children.  (She becomes easily hysterical when a child play does not go her way...like hysterical 30 times a day)
Finds a new adult when corrected.  (She is notorious for this...even if corrected ever so slight. If there are no other adults around, she will attempt to get sympathy from a sibling.)
Does not fall asleep or stay asleep easily. (Miss 20 minute napper.)
Rapid fluctuating in mood changes.  Crying and rage seem out of proportion to the circumstances. (Even the slightest correction causes her to rage. She is giggling one moment...screaming the next)

All of the above signs are slowly disappearing, but they are all still present in some form.

This was the state of our little Gia when we got her. This would have been a more realistic match photo of Gher. I cannot tell you the number of times a day she made this face the first few months we were
home.  Exhausting is an understatement.  But, we know it is not the real Gia, and we are slowly uncovering a sweet little girl behind all of her fear based outbursts.
We are working to stretch these happy moments from those constant sad/angry moments

So, how are we handling this challenge...Honestly, some days better than others.

We have an attachment therapist who we are working with, and we are hoping to set up even more visits. We are attempting to regress Gia as much as possible. Treating her like a little baby to give Gia what she never had. However, this is easier said than done since Gia has the gross motor skills of a 3 year old and a impulse and emotional control of a one year old. For all of the hard work we have put into getting Gia on track, I am not convinced she would be phased at all if she had to move to another family tomorrow. I could just see her smiling and happily waving bye to us. So, focusing on attachment is our top priority right now.

Jude and attachment
We are making huge progress with Jude. Thank God for Jude because if we just had little Gia, I would be completely convinced that I totally stink at this adoption parenting.

He is super cute with me now. He is constantly jumping into my arms. He is visibly distressed when I leave or I am not around.  He is constantly pulling me around the house to show me this or that.

He always brings me my keys, purse, and phone. (Seriously, I needed this kid in my life a long time ago...He now keeps me from losing all these things.)  If Gia gets into any of my things, he will sound his alarm and go to my rescue. He loves my praise and gets extremely upset if he is corrected by me.

So, we are headed in the right direction for Jude. But, he had a much stronger start to life than Gia did.

I swear no one goes into adoption thinking they are a lousy parent...you go in with the idea that you are actually quite competent in your parenting on some level.  But, boy do these little ones take a swing at your credentials. It has definitely been a humbling journey.

Next post....Trauma and Sleep

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Photos of Jude- 9 Months

So, I spotted some baby photo's of our Jude on a fellow adoptive Mom's post (in a Facebook adoption group.)

It was a link to a past blog post, and her daughter in China was having her 2nd birthday party and some Zhengzhou foster Moms came with their kids to celebrate.


Jude is in the yellow and white with the foster Mom who is wearing the gray and pink jacket.



We also thought he moved to foster care around the time he was about 1 year old.  But, clearly, he was in foster care earlier.



I am so grateful to this woman who gave our Jude a strong foundation.   


Its is such a special find when you discover baby photos of your child.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Happy Birthday Molly

Dear Molly,

Happy Birthday Molly!! It feels like yesterday I gave birth to you. These last few years have flown by.


I had an easy water birth with you (you were the smallest of all my babes), and you made the most peaceful entrance into this world. You still love the water and have been a little fish ever since. There is not a day that goes by that you do not ask me if we can go swimming.


You refuse to believe that you are not on your older sister's swim team and keep asking me if you can go to their swim practice in your floaties.

You adore everything ballerina, princess and pink....

You are constantly looking for your ballerina dresses and ballet shoes. You love to comment on other peoples clothes and shoes...


You are always making new friends at the park...


You have taken the official role of CEO of our house, and bark orders at your Mother...

This is what I hear from you all day long in your commanding voice...

"Mom be quiet, you are going to wake up Jude and Gia"

"Mom, be careful when you are crossing the street."

"No Mom, that is not how you do it."

"Mom, don't do that."

Your favorite phrase is "What the heck"...thanks to your brother Joel.


You are dropping your afternoon nap, and I sometimes find you cat napping in odd places around the house.

You love playing with your siblings, but you have your own ideas on what you want to play.



You have a "don't mess with me attitude" thanks to your overbearing brother Joel.

Once a little boy came up to you at the park and roared in your face to intentionally scare you, and you calmy responded, " My name is not Roar, it is MOLLY."  It was not the response he was expecting.

You are beaming with confidence and joy.



We all love our cute little boss of the house.


Happy Birthday Mollster!!










.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Heroes and Prayers post by Emma

Last night was full of excitement in the Fantz house.
I woke up at about 3 am to the noise of

BEEP!
 
BEEP!

BEEP!

FIRE, FIRE!
(x 1,000,000,000,000)

Then, something flies toward me, and starts crying and saying
"Emma, I'm scared!"

That "thing" was my little sister Caroline.

We leave our room, and see dad run down the stairs, and see our little sister Molly at the top, so I run upstairs, grab her, and notice there's no smoke, or any sign of a fire, but, it does smell like something is burning. Not a fire, but something electrical burned out.

Caroline, Molly, and I are the only ones up (except for mom and dad, of course). So, we get on the couch with a blanket while mom and dad look around to try and see what's causing it.

They couldn't find out what it was so, mom calls the fire department. And Joel wakes up.

Next thing I know is that Joel, Molly, and Caroline run to the window by the door while flashing blue and red light pull up to our house.

We run outside, and watch them all go inside in their fire gear.

I'm glad to go outside (even since it's cold(if you live in Denver, you'd know it snowed the day before)), but my feet were FREEZING!!!!!!!!! The only reason I'm glad is because, inside the burning smelled so strong, it gave me a head-ache (I normally don't get head-aches, I can sit through anything, like ANYTHING and I'm fine, but this was too much for me).

When we were all snuggled up in a bundle, with a blanket, and the Fire Fighters announced that something burned out (it was an electrical thing) so, we had to turn the heating off........SERIOUSLY!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

So, here I am all curled up in a blanket, typing on the computer.








If you live in Colorado, you'd remember the floods.

Well, our basement got flooded.........IN MY ROOM!!!!!!!!!

I was so mad! Dad should fix it soon, but in the meantime, my room is taken out of my room ( if you know what I mean).

So, we pulled up all the carpet padding, aired out my room, and... nothing's happened since.

So, I've been having to change in the middle of the basement.

When I heard about the flood, I prayed.



A few weeks before that, OUR CAR WINDOW WAS FULLY SHATTERED!!!!!!!!!!!

That was not a good day for the Fantz family.



Saturday, September 28, 2013

Updates

It has been a while since my last update on Jude and Gia. We have been absorbed with school starting, activities, and all things fall.  School has given our family a much needed structure to our day. (Our kids are broken up into smaller groups which is making our life much more manageable... but also very full.)

Jude

I feel like we are making some major breakthroughs with this kid. He is becoming such a character. He is starting to explode with joy and seems so happy in our family. (He still has his grumpy and mad moments too :) ) He is always bursting into smiles when he sees me and is actually showering me with affection now. (This is the same child who pushed all my hugs away in China.) He is now my little sidekick and is always rushing to my aid to help me with any task. We are noticing he is starting to become a big people pleaser. He is definitely not the sad, grumpy boy they described in our China updates.

He has finally decided to recognize his little sister Gia's existence. For the first few months, he would sort of act as if she wasn't there. She would smile at him..attempt to play with him, and he would either not make any eye contact with her or give her a persistent evil eye. Poor Gia. I thought there went our whole theory of adopting them together so they will be close.

However, we recently went on a family trip to the mountains and something clicked for him with Gia. We were hiking on a mountain trail, and he actually smiled at Gia and tried to get her attention. I was shocked. Maybe it was a good team building exercise for us...he realized we are all in this crazy family together (including Gia) for better or worse. LOL. 








Now that he acknowledges her existence, he has decided that he is in charge of her....taking the official role of big brother. He now screams Gia at the top of his lungs. Gia doesn't always listen (OK she never listens), and so he is always trying to keep her in line. If we are out and she is lolly gagging with the group... when I call for her to come, Jude will scream Gia...run and go get her for me like a little sheep dog and push her on the back to move. If she has to clean up a mess she made, he always goes to her aid to help. It is very sweet to see him start to advocate for her.

So, all that crazy Jude yelling we experienced in China.... he has now found a productive place for this skill...singing. He drives around our house smiling in his little Cozy Coupe singing what sounds very much like the Ave Maria in a crazy loud Opera voice. It makes me laugh because he is overflowing with joy when he does this. He will attempt to sing any song he hears. This is very exciting to his musical father that we now have a budding dramatic tenor Opera singer in the house. Jude has such a loud, projected yell, Dave actually notices that you can feel your skull vibrate when he screams. Aren't you envious of our loud household?

Jude's language and development are both exploding. Although he is still behind his peers, he is catching up very rapidly. In China, he was terrified of stairs. He now rocks the stairs and can walk comfortably down the center without holding onto anything. His vocob is expanding, and he is saying new words everyday. He definitely tries to keep up developmentally with big brother Joel. Joel makes all these crazy complex roads, garages, and bridges for all his toy cars (Our house always looks like a matchbox car bomb explosion), and Jude will now try to imitate what Joel is building. Joel, of course does not want Jude to come near any of his creations. Poor Jude.
I also cannot get over how much he is like his brother Joel.  Stocky, wavy hair,  his big skull, his smile, his stubbornness. :)

Jude wearing Joel's glasses

Jude is still eating a ton. I thought the eating frenzy would wean by now. It has for Gia, but not for Jude. Just to give an example, when I came home on last Sunday, Dave was cleaning up lunch, and Jude was signaling me to get him back into his highchair. I hesitated since the kitchen was now clean, and he had just finished his lunch. But, he saw I was preparing something, and he wanted more food. So, I obliged and gave him another bowl of eggs...and another....and he was still hungry.  So, I got out the leftovers from the night before and he ate 8 meatballs and a plate of noodles. Seriously, this was lunch #2. He is very much like the very hungry caterpillar....still hungry and looking for more food. I might need to create a sponsorship program to supplement Jude's diet.


More...Jude breaking the record for eating the most oranges at one sitting (keep in mind that half of the orange peels are on the floor)


 Gia's Update

I am now spelling Gia with a G like her first name Gianna  (vs. middle Jia) since everyone in the fam is now starting to call her Gi Gi.

Gia is making great progress as well. Although we still have a mountain to climb emotionally and developmentally with her.

We finally figured out how to get this exhausted child to nap longer than 20 minutes. When laying next to her, I noticed she still has the startle reflex like a little baby, and the reflex would wake her up. So, I tried swaddling her.. like you would a little baby. And, let me tell you, it was miraculous. She still rarely naps more than one hour, but I'll take one hour over the 20 minute cat naps. I also ordered them both weighted blankets which seem to be helping a lot. Both kids do best if they take a nap at 9:00 and then again at 1:00, which seems crazy for two 2 year olds.  But, they clearly need all this rest.

She also has finally stopped the night terrors. Alleluia. And, she is sleeping through the night in her own room!!  (However, my brain is still hearing babies constantly screaming at night, and I am not sure when that will go away. This is parental post traumatic adoption stress.)

We got through the night terrors by co-sleeping for a while. But, then she started waking up at 1 am like a little gymnast in our bed. After weeks of exhaustion and annoyance, we came to our senses, and decided to put her back in her crib and do a gentle cry it out. It only took a couple of days my friends, and we finally have a sleeper.  No more power struggles over sleep.


Developmentally, she is very much on track (or even ahead) on gross and fine motor. This child can climb anything..has a perfect pencil grasp. But, cognitively and emotionally we have our work cut out for us. I showed videos of Gia's behavior around the house to our attachment therapist, and she basically banned her to the ergo carrier for most of the day. Telling us we are up against pretty significant emotionally delays.


Gia still has progress to make in attachment.  She is definitely showing all signs that she has never attached to anyone and has experienced early trauma. It is so hard not knowing what happened to her in the past.  Living out parenting the hurt child has been incredibly humbling and challenging to say the least.  But, I am trying to celebrate the small things...like sleep success and Gia finally being able to play a little, and stay encouraged in her progress.


More random photos...


Grandpa giving Jude a haircut


Joel's turn


I somehow managed to take them all to the pool this summer.


How do you watch 3 toddlers at the pool? You can't. Life vests.


Meals are always major event in our house.


puzzles


The high demand crew.