Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Overheard today while eating ice cream...
Sam: "My baby brother is going to say "Hola Amigo!" when he sees me..."
Olivia: "No... it will be "HOLA Amigas!" (accent on the HOLA...)
Me: "Um, guys... they don't speak Spanish in Ethiopia."
Them : "oh."
We had our final two visits today for our home study!! WOOHOO!!
Paul had his individual interview and we had our home visit where she toured our home and talked to the kids. We had to count smoke detectors. If you have never done that, I highly recommend counting your smoke detectors - you know, just for fun.
We also had to make sure we had a fire extinguisher in the home. I thought we did... I was wrong - it was a butane torch. NOT the same thing. Paul went to buy two extinguishers.
I scrubbed bathrooms - she didn't visit them or even really look inside very well.
I thought for SURE she would check for ring-around-the-tub.
Our oldest thought she was coming to approve our home in some sick "Super Nanny" style. He was afraid she was going to be British and throw away his video games.
We all survived... we may have even enjoyed having her visit! I really didn't stress too badly... however, you might get a different opinion if you asked someone else! ;)
One week from tomorrow is the next committee date.
I was looking at our kids' pictures today and thinking how much I would love to squeeze them and tell them how hard we are working to bring them home quickly!! A home study---paperwork, visits and interviews in 2 weeks?? Insanity. I have read three adoption books in the past three weeks... absorbing them like a Sham Wow. I want the committee members to know how hard we have worked and how many hoops we have jumped through... so we are writing a letter. They may not read it, but at least they will have it for presenting as a part of who our family is.
I was reading today that the founders of Holt International were one of the pioneering families in international adoption. They had 6 bio kids when they adopted 8 (EIGHT) kids from Korea *AT ONE TIME*. Hmmm.... interesting, they didn't think they would be "overwhelmed" and just say "no". One quotation from the story on the Holt website says, "Their example proved that a family’s love can transcend the barriers of nationality and race, that love and commitment are the most important bonds in a family."
I love that quotation! The line, "love and commitment are the most important bonds in a family"...if they only knew how strongly and deeply I believe that statement to be true!!
I am SUPER excited for 2010! (Slightly disappointed that we don't have flying cars yet... weren't we supposed to have flying cars?? I remember writing essays about "What will life be like in 2010?" in school! WHEW!)
I really hope 2010 is the year we bring our kids home and that we are able to inspire other families to get off of the adoption fence and expand their own families!
I can't wait to see what the new year holds!
Monday, December 28, 2009
Christmas was good... crazy busy... but good! I think if anything, it helped keep my mind off of the number of days until our next committee meeting at Holt!! (10 days)
Christmas Eve we went up to my dad's house for brunch with that side of the family. My grandmother was there and we got lots of pictures together since there are VERY few in existence of the whole family together!
Christmas Day we woke up around 7:30 to our youngest, Sam, announcing that he had been downstairs already and Santa had indeed visited our house! He took care of waking up the other 3 kids (amazingly easy to do on Christmas morning!!) while I poured our coffee (which I had the forethought to set to brew ahead of time!). We opened gifts and played for a bit, then got dressed and headed back to my Mom's house for the Christmas Day festivities which include the (newly) traditional Seafood Stew made by my hubby and step-dad. It's WONDERFUL and this is the third year in a row that we have had it! It's my favorite and I definitely look forward to that on Christmas Day!
My sister and her hubby are here from Colorado Springs for the week! She is pregnant with their 1st baby - Alice - who is due in early March! It is so much fun to see the baby moving, feel her tummy, and just hang out with my sister! We don't get to see each other very often since we live so far apart, so this has been quite a treat!
The kids got a Wii this year for Christmas from my Mom and we have been having lots of fun playing bowling, boxing, tennis and Band Hero! I gotta say... I am QUITE the rock star (on "easy") on the guitar! It's great to have a video game that the whole family can play and enjoy together!
On the adoption front, we have 10 days till committee, part two.
We have the formal application with Holt signed and notarized, just need to mail it in tomorrow and call them with payment over the phone.
Home study visits are half-way done... we have one last visit (two birds with one stone) for Paul's individual interview and our home visit. I am not stressing out over the home visit. I really like our social worker - she is just such a sweet lady and seems very approachable. She says she really isn't coming to inspect our house cleaning skills, so I am going to try REALLY hard to control myself and not stay up all night before her appointment organizing closets and scrubbing baseboards. I. Will. Not. Go. Crazy.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Your support means SO much to me right now!
I wanted to send a quick update and let you know where we are in this process!
After the discouraging day last Thursday, I spoke with the social worker again at Holt.
She said that the only reason they did not approve us is that they felt we would be "overwhelmed" with three additional children. They would have approved us for two, but they felt three was just too much.
We, obviously, disagree. I told our Holt rep that we want to try again at the next committee date, which due to Christmas and New Years will not be until January 7th. The good news/bad news story on that is we have nearly 3 full weeks to get our home study completed and our application notarized and sent into Holt. The bad news is that in that time, another family or several can also request their information and we would be going to committee with other families who they may feel are better suited to be their parents.
In my heart I know that it will be ok. If they choose to deny us again, there will be another sibling group who will fit well with our family. I really feel in my heart that these three are meant for us, and I pray that the committee sees that as well. Our social worker here is accommodating our need to get our home study done quickly and is working with us over the holidays! We should be completely paperwork ready by that 1/7 committee date.
Anyway... prayers MUCH appreciated that the Lord would soften the hearts of those at committee towards our family and our desire to parent these three kiddos! I would also selfishly like to pray that somehow we would be the only family wanting them at that committee... but I also want whatever His will is for our lives.
Blessings for a wonderful Christmas!!
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Our social worker at Holt is "surprised".... I am... well, devistated.
I can't imagine that it would be BETTER for these three to wait in an orphanage for someone else...
than to be promised to us.
They said they were concerned that it would be too much for us.
They are changing their qualifications to say that the adoptive family has either NO other young children in the home or that they have adopted before.
Because, you know... families who have adopted BEFORE are just better parents.
Matthew 1:28 - "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" which means, "God with us."
One of those tricks they teach you in Bible school (world's oldest college student speaking... Religion major at LU) is to read a verse or phrase putting the emphasis on each different word to get the full effect.
I LOVE what happens when you do that!
GOD with us. (God, THE God... I AM... is with us.)
God WITH us. (WITH us... seriously, togetherness/with us.)
God with US! (US... really? Knowing US He still chooses to be with US??)
Today, I know God is in a meeting room in Oregon, in Ethiopia holding three precious babies, and keeping me from picking up my phone and trying to call and interrupt the meeting to find out of they have discussed our case yet. He is with ALL of us today... even as I try to be patient... checking my phone to make sure it is on... checking the clock on the computer... checking my phone again... glancing at the clock again... cursing the slow passage of time as I wait another hour to find out the verdict...
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
They are laughing at me right now!
Because in a few hours a group of women will gather to discuss the options for some children who wait in an orphanage. They will discuss our family as though they know us. They will talk about our ability to be parents.
They will try to make the best possible decision for three babies I hope to call my own.
If they do not choose us, I have faith that there is somewhere out there a family who will be better suited to care for them. Some other Mommy will be waiting to to kiss those cheeks and wipe noses and tears.
If they do choose us, this will be a day to circle on the calendar for the rest of our lives! This will be the day that I can say WE were chosen! We were deemed the best choice for this group of children! This will be the moment I will remember, that moment that will help get me through the next several months of paperwork, postage and patience. I will have faces to put with my waiting! I will beg families who travel for some tiny piece of information and for a moment of their precious time to give my three a hug and whisper "Mommy and Daddy are coming for you!" This is the beginning.
Regardless... it's a big day for us as a family!
I hope I do not have false confidence... but I do feel confident that we will be chosen.
I will be so depressed (and embarrassed) if we are not chosen.
Please pray for that meeting - for wisdom and discernment and most of all - faith in us as a family of 9!
Monday, December 14, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Last night we went to a party for our friends, The Clark's, who are literally selling EVERYthing and moving to Bangkok to be missionaries. (http://www.journeywiththeclarks.com)Their kids all have upcoming birthdays (three kiddos) and so they had a group party at this cool place- Jump Zone.
Let me tell you… this is the BEST idea EVER!
The adults got to hang out and talk, catch up on stuff, and laugh together while the kids just ran, climbed, jumped, played and otherwise wore themselves out for a few hours!
I think it would be acceptable to have a standing once a month Friday night bounce party just to have adult social time!
Of course, it's not free…
The kids all had a blast though and were completely worn out when we got home.
Beth even had this REALLY awesome balloon guy come do hats and animals for the kids! Seriously – I have NEVER seen a better balloon guy. If you happen to be reading this, are in the greater Nashville area, and are in the market for a cool balloon guy (even my 13 year old thought he was awesome – now, THAT is saying something!)… His website is http://www.balloonsmagicandmore.com .
My friend Heidi was there last night with some of her (9) kids. I got to play with their youngest son who is 3 – from nearby to the same area our potential sibling group is from! (Can I just say I am tired of trying to figure out ways to say "my babies" without claiming them as my own yet?? I will just be completely crushed if we don't get approved at committee!!) I had fun playing with him and imagining what our new kiddos will be like. This little boy has the GREATEST smile! His whole face lights up and he has the cutest cheeks!!
So… they were all exhausted and slept really well (and late)!
Today – cleaning the house, trying to figure out where to put the Christmas stuff (no, we have not decorated yet), and laundry!
Better get started… yuck.
Friday, December 11, 2009
IF my family is here... Hi! Please take some time to read back a bit and catch up on some of my thoughts and my heart on this adoption! Please don't feel left out... the things I post here aren't actually read by anyone! ;)
We found out yesterday that as of the time our sibling group went "on hold for committee" we were the only family interested in them! One step closer to ours! I was worried about perhaps needing to go to committee and being presented by someone else as a possible family for them, and not having much control over the decision. I suppose they could still just choose not to choose us and put them back on the wait list, which would be horrible, but I suppose it could happen.
We should go to committee next Thursday, Dec. 17th.
I am waiting for an email back from Holt to find out if they will work with the homestudy people we are already in process with, otherwise, I am afraid our date may be later on the homestudy due to needing to apply, get different paperwork ready, and schedule an appointment.
Have I mentioned how much I HATE waiting for other people?? Really REALLY hate it.
More updates hopefully to come!
On their waiting list is a sibling group that I felt immediately drawn to.
I contacted Holt, filled out the Waiting Child application, and spoke with a wonderful woman at their office who told me a little about the kids.
Then... she gave me a password for the photo section of their site!
Friday evening, I got my first look at the children I was reading about!
They are so beautiful!
Three toddler/pre-school aged kids - two girls and one boy.
Hubby and I decided to proceed and get more information.
As of last night, we got their medical files. We are still super interested!
The funny thing is, in their file - there are dates. Without giving details, those date correspond to important dates along our adoption journey! Things we couldn't have imagined at the time, but it sure looks like the Lord is working out those details for us!
All along the way, my prayer has been for my sweet Jesus to make our choices OBVIOUS... so obvious that even *I* can't mess it up!! Looking at these files last night, seeing the dates - my jaw just fell open.
How am I worthy of such love?
How is it that the same God that placed the stars and planets, created the wind and rain, imagined all the wonderful plants and animals no matter how big or small...He isn't too busy to work out details for ME??
Just one such detail... after 4 years of looking into adoption, 4 years of "when is it going to be time?"... on my birthday this year, my husband gave me a new cover for my Bible. Inside of that, was a check written out for the amount of the agency application fee - we were getting started! FINALLY!!
Somewhere on the other side of the world, these children were coming into care.
I can just imagine my husband over here - thinking about the look on my face the next day, deciding exactly how to present this gift... and elsewhere, lives are being changed in a much different way. But there is hope. There is love. There is the peace of Jesus that surpasses ALL of MY understanding. He will not leave them as orphans. He is more than able to care for them.
That is the paradox of adoption. Out of someone's sadness and tragedy - comes someone else's greatest joy.
How to describe that someday to the child?
How do you explain the selfless act of a father who relinquishes his children rather than watch them die of starvation?
How do you explain a mother giving her child over to the care of an orphanage rather than keep him, nurse him, and pass along the HIV virus?
How do you explain to a child - your birth father had to leave to find work, and your mother could not find medicine or food for you?
I suppose those are questions all adoptive families have to answer some day.
As for us... please pray for these children.
Please pray that we proceed correctly.
Please pray that there would be no confusion as to where they belong.
At this stage, another family could apply to be considered for them as well and that would cause us to have to wait a little longer, as well as there would be a committee meeting to decide which family would be best.
Please pray that if these are OUR children, there would be no question in the minds of those at Holt!
We are still compiling paperwork for the home study, we have two of our 4 rec. letters in our hands now and my still-need-to-gather list is getting shorter and shorter!
We were scheduled to have our home visit this coming Friday, but hubby decided that it would be best to wait until January. It's going to be ok. It's just a month. I will not pout, whine and stomp my feet with disgust and frustration at the delay. I won't.
I spent a lot of time this past month on my Facebook page using my status update each day as a way to talk about something I am thankful for. Today, it is December and my thankful spirit seems to have disappeared with the home study appointment. I know in the grand scheme of things it isn't a big set-back, but it feels like it right now. I just want to be "official" in some way.
Further frustrating is my new information that our agency is quoting up to TWO YEARS for a referral of a sibling group! WHAT? 2 years?? I know there is never any guarantee about how short or how long your wait will be, but that seems/feels super long. I have yet to actually speak with the program coordinator for the ET program with our current agency. Maybe they are busy putting together referrals for the people who have been waiting almost a year already and just can't get to our welcome phone call.
On a happier note...
We went to visit Hubby's family for Thanksgiving - - 16 hours (each way) in the car is interesting. The visit was nice - his whole family was able to be there which made 22 people for Thanksgiving dinner! That's a loooong table! It was fun to have all the kids together. With our 4, there are 9 grandchildren all running around crazy through the house! Thankfully, his mom saved a lot of toys and makes a point of buying new ones at yard sales throughout the year!
So... 4 days, 2 hotels, 4 restaurants, 6 tanks of gas, countless "how much longer"'s, and 2000 miles later... we are back home for the rest of the holidays!
"What's worth the price is always worth the fight." I guess this line speaks to me right now because of where we are headed with the adoption. I really have this picture in my head of jumping through hoops, paying an obscene amount of money and opening our lives up to strangers to inspect - - but the end, the children that the Lord wants for our family - they are worth the price AND worth this fight.
I think this may be the Nickelback version of "never let the sun set on your wrath." It's amazing to me in this world of Facebook, Twitter, blogs, texting, emails, cell phones in every pocket... that we can't stay in touch with the people that matter to us. Why is that? Are we truly that busy? Are we just too proud to be the one to make that first phone call?
As for us and the adoption paperwork pregnancy... I have the background checks from all 4 states we do or have lived in in the past 10 years! WHEW! Now to get those letters of recommendation, verify employment letters, and vet certificate for the dog... and we should be ready for the homestudy! Woohoo!!
but I am feeling super grouchy today.
People at work getting on my nerves, music getting on my nerves, people on TV are annoying...
But here is my (adoption related) pet peeve of the day: adoption superiority.
What is that, you may ask?
Well... basically, when we ventured out into this territory - I thought it was one big happy family. The Adoption Community. We are one in the bonds of love, and all that jazz. Ummmm.... NO. It's more like Adoption High School.
Remember High School? Sure you do... jocks, nerds, goths, skaters, cheerleaders, preps, richie rich, star wars freaks, etc, etc, etc.
Well... transpose those "categories" to the adoption world and you have:
Foster/Adopt VS. Infant program...
Independent Adoption VS Agency Program...
Waiting Child VS. Infant...
Special Needs VS Non-special needs...
Sibling Group VS One Child...
There is this sort of hierarchy of adopting parents - those who have adopted multiple times or multiple children are at the top - the jocks and cheerleaders of the community.
Let me also say that I don't think EVERY person is called to adopt PERSONALLY. I think that there are family situations that would not make this possible and not every person could handle a child much less more than one. I do feel that as Christians, we are called to care for widows and orphans. Church bodies are supposed to lead the way and help those who are called - allowing them to fund-raise, helping them along, lending a hand in some way. But there is this whole segment of the adoption community - the "holier than thou's" - who think that if you can't adopt for some reason, or just don't feel called to personally adopt - that you are less of a human for it. You are somehow going against the Lord's will for your life if you do not adopt. See Ephesians 4:11-12 for clarification of the way God designed His church to function. If God places adoption on your heart, you are in SIN not to do it. If you do not feel called to adopt - - I am certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are called to some other purpose that is just as important to His heart. We all are. If everyone were 110% focused on adoption - who would care for the elderly in nursing homes? Who would work at the soup kitchens? Who would rake leaves for the disabled this fall? Who would drive their neighbor to the doctor's office? There are many ways that we are to be Jesus' hands and feet - we can't all be the arm or the ankle. All are equally important. (Even if you do feel like the appendix in the Body of Christ... find your purpose!)
- God forbid I ever look down on another family because they are adopting from a country I don't feel called to.
- I hope I never criticize anyone for adopting one child while a sibling group waits.
- I hope I never become the "high and mighty" or the "know-it-all" who second guesses motives and choices a family is making.
- I hope I only uplift and encourage those who feel called to this often-times-not-fun process!
Oh, and those of you with children who aren't the same color as you... if I stare a little too long at the grocery store, it's not because I am judging you, it's just my mind wandering to that place where I wonder what MY more colorful family will look like. I look because I am envious - you have completed this part of the journey. I look because I would love to hear your stories - the good, the bad and the ugly - of the process and since then. I look because I love you for what you represent to my heart.
We love Adoption Assistance in TN/KY for our home study because they are wonderful people!
We are requesting siblings- - maybe up to 4! Yes, that qualifies us for the loony bin... we don't care.
Ultimately, we have to make these choices ourselves as a couple and as a family.
That may put us into a certain clique in the Adoption High School... but I would like to officially claim non-citizenship with that clique.
First roller coaster, first wooden roller coaster, first upside-down ride, first water ride, first water slide ride...
Our favorite was the Kentucky Rumbler! It's a wooden coaster but it is very well made and doesn't smack your head side to side into the padded harness while you ride. We rode it at least 10 times that day! The thing I remember most about the ride is getting buckled in at the beginning and the guy giving the instructions tells you to keep your arms and legs inside until the ride is over, blah blah blah... but then he says "Enjoy your ride on the Kentucky Rumbler!"
I was thinking about that today as I scanned and emailed our home study application into the social worker!! This feels like that buckle-in warning.
Some notes to my future self as we embark on this ride:
Waiting in line: Sometimes there may be a wait. Waiting stinks. We all think waiting stinks. Being impatient while waiting will not make anyone move any faster. Just settle down, take a deep breath, and try to find something to do to keep yourself busy. People watch, play with the kids, hug your husband, plan the next fun thing to do. Before you know it... it's your turn!
Buckle in: You know this ride has up's and down's... it takes a long time to get up the ramp to the top and when you come down, sometimes you feel out of control. It's ok... you are totally SAFE.
Arms up: What fun is it to hold on, white-knuckled, eyes closed, full of fear? Arms up! Trust the harness to keep you safe and abandon your fears at the gate!
Say Cheese! :There is this point on the ride where they take your picture... try to remember that someone will see this and determine from that photo what you thought of the ride while you were on it. Remember others are watching you, for better or for worse, and you may be the only picture they ever see of this process. Be real, but watch that attitude.
Look around at the top: That point at the top when you are about to take off for the craziest part of the ride... that's the time when you are mostly still... look around and enjoy the view! Anticipate, but enjoy the moment you are in!
The end : Say thank you. Smile at the people getting on the ride after you. Don't scare them by telling them about the scary parts... let them figure that out for themselves. They might not be scared of the same parts you are scared of.
Maybe you even want to run back around and do it all over again! ;)