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Reincarnation of the Dykstra Family Blog
Chad Dykstra - 2014-06-03

Comrades is Coming!
Chad Dykstra - 2013-04-29

Melkam Gena!
Chad Dykstra - 2013-01-07

Why I Run
Chad Dykstra - 2012-10-03

It's All About the Injera
Chad Dykstra - 2012-03-09

Expectations and Reality
Chad Dykstra - 2012-02-15

I Remember
Chad Dykstra - 2011-10-25

A Summer of Firsts
Chad Dykstra - 2011-09-13

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Less is More

Chad Dykstra - 2011-01-24
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How many times have we heard the stories about lottery winners who thought their lives would take a turn for the better, only to find that the exact opposite was true?  Let's look at one example...

In 1985 AND 1986, Evelyn Adams won the lottery - equaling a total winning of $5.4 million. However, today - she has no money. "Winning the lottery isn't always what it's cracked up to be," says Evelyn Adams, who won the New Jersey lottery not just once, but twice (1985, 1986), to the tune of $5.4 million. Today the money is all gone and Adams lives in a trailer. She lost money in slot machines, and couldn't seem to say no to relatives and friends. Evelyn's big win ended in a big loss.

Many would say that Zinabu and Abatu, or internationally adopted chilren in general, have won the lottery.  They went from a situation where they had nothing, and have been transported to a new life situtation.  A life where they have all the food they can eat (which is quite a bit).  They have drawers and a closet full of clothes.  They have more toys than they could ever play with, and more Disney movies than they could ever watch.  What could possibly be bad in this situation?

I should stop right now and clarify that money and possessions in and of themselves are not a bad thing.  There are many wealthy people who do great things with what God has provided for them.  As of a few years ago, Bill Gates had donated 27 billion dollars to charity.  That's $27,000,000,000.  There are also  lottery success stories.  The issue in many cases is that those who quickly "strike it rich" don't have the life experience necessary to handle their newfound situation appropriately and it causes them more harm than good. 

We see evidence of this every day.  Just this morning, for example, one of the boys had a 30 minute meltdown involving kicking, screaming, slamming doors, throwing shoes, and trying to bite Lora as she was holding (read: restraining) him.  You might wonder what situation would warrant this kind of response.  You will probably be surprised to find out that the entire meltdown was due to someone else wearing a jean jacket out of the closet that he considered "his".  It wasn't something he was planning to wear...in fact it hasn't been worn in over 2 weeks.  Seeing it on his brother threw him into a fit of rage that we haven't seen for quite a while.  Now he's getting upset because Abi is getting her fingernails painted, and he wants in.  A sense of entitlement can grow fast when you've quickly "struck it rich".  This part of the transition process has definitely been more difficult than we expected.

As we traveled around Ethiopia, I was always amazed at the smiles that I saw on the faces of people that I would meet.  It was very evident from talking to them that worldy possessions do not equal happiness.  Happieness came through the wealth of family, community, and faith in God who would meet their (very real) needs.  As Americans, how often don't we often chase happiness through possessions?  How driven can we become by wanting that fancy new car or the latest gadget?  TV commercials tell us that when we get them, we'll be happy...but are we?  There's always something else, and then your new gadget sits in a drawer. 

Over the past few months, this has become more apparent to us.  We're working on teaching our children to be content - and to be content ourselves.  To be thankful for what we have...and to get rid of some of the excess that we have and we don't really need.  In most cases, less is definitely more. 


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A Positive Family Blog

Chad Dykstra - 2011-01-10
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The last few blogs have admittedly been a little more negative (or less happy-sounding) than most of our previous posts.  This is simply due to the part of the process that we are in...the survival part!  I'd like to take this opportunity to shift focus to the positive again.

Today was a good day for us.  We aren't ending the day overly tired or frustrated.  The kids played well most of the day.  They had a blast sledding down the hill in front of our house and were out there for a long time this afternoon.  That translated into quiet time for daddy as he worked, which was really nice!  The boys really like the snow.  The funny thing is they probably have no idea that it will go away in the spring.  Coming from an area where the climate is always the same, they probably just assume that it will always be cold and snowy. I'm sure they will like spring, summer, and fall also.

We seem to be taking baby steps toward normal.  We still deal with lots of tantrums over little things on a daily basis...but over the last few days, they have been decreasing in number, intensity, and duration.  We're starting to get a discipline routine down that is working.  The boys are starting to use English a little more each day.  I feel like communication is becoming less of a frustration for everyone as we learn more words in their language, they learn more words in ours, and we learn how to communicate without speaking the same language.  All of these changes are baby steps, but baby steps are still steps.

Sitting around the dinner table tonight, I was trying to imagine how different it would be if it were just the four of us sitting at that table.  I can't even imagine it anymore.  A family of six is starting to feel normal!  As of today, in fact, this is no longer our adoption blog but rather our family blog.  The paperwork and waiting are behind us, and now we work towards strengthening our relationship as a family.  We are starting to feel more like a family every day.   The boys are our children - and we love them like our children.  It feels like they love us like mom & dad - and that's a good feeling.  A positive feeling.


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Questions and Answers

Chad Dykstra - 2011-01-07
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I’d like to take the opportunity to field a couple of questions that we receive on a fairly regular basis. 

Question 1:  Are the boys adjusted yet?

Answer:  No, not yet!  The boys have been through a lot in their short lives.  They’ve experienced more loss than most people ever will.  Their entire world is different now than it used to be, and it’s going to take some time for everything to become normal.  Things have to get worse before they get better.  We are, however, making slow daily progress.  Meal times and bedtimes get a little easier as time goes on and it will eventually happen.

Question 2:  What do you mean by things have to get worse?

Answer:  As the boys adjust, they’re no longer timid and complacent young gentlemen.  The “honeymoon” as it were is quickly fading and we deal with a lot on a daily basis.  Just ask anyone who has spent any amount of time with us!  It’s nothing for someone to throw themselves on the floor kicking and screaming because we turn off the TV (or turn on the wrong show), or because when they ask for more food their brother gets more too.  It’s not unusual for them to throw a toy at someone they’re angry with, or to whine incessantly about any little thing.  If absolutely everything doesn’t go their way, an explosion is imminent.  Our calm, quiet, sweet, level-headed Abatu is the biggest surprise.  He has surpassed his brother lately on the count of daily tantrums.  The "suggested" discipline for the boys had become almost impossible, they just laugh in your face.  It can be quite frustrating!

Question 3:  When will you bring them to church?

Answer:  We don’t know, but not soon.  Right now, anything outside of our house is overwhelming.  OK, it’s even overwhelming at home (see #2).  Public places are very difficult.  The kids will go tearing across a parking lot without looking or want to run laps around a restaurant.  We only go out when absolutely necessary.  We aren't ready for church just yet.  We tried school for Zinabu one day this week, and he was definitely overwhelmed and not ready.  We’re considering trying something smaller scale in the coming weeks/months – like Lakeshore Little People’s Place preschool (for both boys).  Although Abatu is younger, he is more interested in books, coloring, English, and learning in general than Zinabu, who is just everywhere.

Question 4:  Do they speak English yet?

Answer:  No, not yet!  They are making slow progress and are only using a handful of English words right now…most of them are ones they hear a lot, like “no” (or no jumping).  They’re able to understand quite a bit more than they are able to speak.  I look forward to them speaking English, but I’m sure I will also look back and miss this at some point.  I’m enjoying continuing to pick up words from them, and I look forward to being able to ask them what language those words are!

Question 5:  What do they think of the snow?

The really like it!  The climate change has been no concern at all.  They’ve never had coats (nor have they needed them) and they enjoy getting bundled up to go outside.  They like sleds, and they enjoy attempting to ride a bike – yes, ride a bike - in the snow.  We can’t tell them no, they absolutely insist, even though they have no idea how to pedal.  It's pretty funny to watch them trying to ride bikes in the snow.

Question 6:  So how are you doing?

We’re tired but alive!  The last week has been a challenge.  We’ve begun the medical blitz – stool samples and blood work are under our belt.  In the coming days/weeks we have several more doctor and dentist appointments.    The boys have been sleeping pretty well in general, but one of them has been having real bedwetting issues lately and gets up in the middle of the night to go, and usually wakes up wet (and early!).  Last night was another short night – work until 12:30am, 3 kids visiting our room for needing to go potty or bad dreams, and then the boys were awake at 6:30.

I’m sure all this sounds like a lot of work…and believe me, it is!  We have good days and bad days.  Most bad days are 1-parent days.  Managing our home is a two-person job right now, and any less can be completely overwhelming.   I’m blessed to work from home so I can save Lora when things “escalate quickly”.  I’m not sure how she’d do it alone.  I’d be lying if there weren’t times that I miss “the old days” when life was simple…but I think any “new parent” can have that from time to time.

Every once in a while we catch a few glimpses of the sweet little boys that are hiding in there.  It’s heartwarming to have Zinabu say “thank you” with a smile and it’s great to see the kids play together without fighting (which does happen sometimes – especially outside).  Zinabu also can do a great job on tasks if you give him something specific to do (like picking up toys).  We look forward to the days when these kinds of things will be “the norm”...or at least happen on a regular basis!  We feel very good about their attachment to us (and their comfort level with us).  From that aspect, things are going very well.

Now I better sign off…lots of screaming upstairs.  Time to go help!


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