Monday, December 24, 2007

In need of a Christmas Miracle...

Okay, I need you all to pray for my car. It wouldn't start this morning, and I ended up having to walk to work (I was late, but thankfully it wasn't TOO cold!)

Anyway, after much trouble this evening, it finally started. Please pray that it starts again tomorrow morning and after work. I have to work 7a-7p tomorrow, then make a big trip Wednesday morning. I really need my car to work.

Thanks, and hope you all have many Christmas Blessings!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Abigail, Santa, and the rest of the Hershey crew!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

I've Been...

Tiffany-ed!

Thanks Doctor John. It is, literally, just what I've always wanted (for the past 6 years!)

Friday, December 21, 2007

My Christmas Wish...




Is for my little girl! (Or my I-171H!)

I want to watch Elf




But I can't right now. Bummer. So I guess I will listen to this instead:)

Eskimo Kisses



USCIS

USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) Philly office is the office who will review my I-600A application and issue the I-171H upon satisfactory review. They normally update their wait times mid-month.

They have not updated for the month of December and it is driving me nuts!

Just thought you might like to know.

More Papers!

Even though I am basically done with the paperchase, it doesn't mean that I am done dealing with tons of papers!

Today, since I don't have to work or do school work, I am spending the day applying for adoption grants and loans. It's amazing how many papers are required!

So, please pray for a quick (and positive) response to my applications!

Reason #9- Matthew 18:5

Jesus said... "And when you welcome one of these children because of me, you welcome me."

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Reason #8- Want, Need, Deserve

I will never forget Emily's statement on her blog: There are so many children who want, need, and deserve a family.

I believe family is God's design. I believe that God created the perfect family when Adam and Eve came together and were told to be fruitful. I believe that God designed humans with the need to experience family as an expression of His love for us (similarly, God tested Job through destroying his family.) I believe that God wants each person to be in a family. This is God's perfect design.

I believe that sin entered this world, and because of sin, we cannot experience perfection here on earth. I believe that God can and does redeem us from this sin, and allows us to experience His grace, mercy, and blessings. One of the blessings we experience is family.

I believe that "every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights" (James 1:17). Like any blessing in our life, we should share the blessing of family. For some, this may mean caring for parents, grandparents, or others who need help. For some, this is sponsoring a child or family less fortunate. For some, this is bearing and loving a child. For me, this is adding a child to my family in an alternate way, and loving them their whole life long.

There are so many children out there who, because of sin, are suffering. They are sick, hungry, alone. Many of them are dying. The all want, need, and deserve families. And I have a family to share.

My family is not perfect according to what I believe God's ultimate design was: there is no dad in my family. But there is a Momma, a lot of love, and a good God. We live in a broken world, but my God is gracious, and He uses these flaws and imperfections to bring Him glory.

FAQ

Q: Do you think you'll really love her?

A: No.

I don't think I will love her, I know I love her right now.

I'll be honest with you, I don't believe in "love at first sight." I am not the kind of person who can fall in love with a picture. I believe that love is so much more than the limited experiences we have with our eyes, so "seeing" someone is not enough to make me "love" them.

The truth is, I used to worry that I wouldn't love Abigail. I mean, I never worried while I was pregnant that I wouldn't love her when she was born, but once she was born, I used to worry that I wouldn't love her as much when she got older. That was totally screwed up, because it turns out that once your little one starts developing a personality and sense of "self"- there's even more to love! It's fabulous (and one of the reasons I am hoping for a toddler age 14-18 months at time of referral.) My experience with Abigail has been that the older she gets, the more I love her.

Right now, I love my child. When I see her and hold her and hear her call me "Momma" I am sure my heart will burst with the amount of love I have for her. And every day I wake up, I will love her more. (There may be times I don't like her, but I will always love her.)

Q: Do you think you will love her as much as Abigail?

A: Yes and no.

I think the quantity of my love will be the same, but the quality will be different. Because Abigail and the new child will be different.

It's like my brother and my sister- I love them equally much, but differently. Because my relationship is different with each of them. We relate in different ways.

I anticipate that my new child will be very different than Abigail. There will be different things to love about her. We will share a different past than Abigail and I share. But I will always love her as my daughter, just like I love Abigail.

Q: Do you get offended when people ask "ignorant" questions like the ones above?

A: I try not to. The truth is, for many people, adoption is a new thing. When they "gut react" to my news, they are going with the first thing that pops into their head. If they stopped and thought for a few minutes or days, would they end up asking these questions? Probably not. But they can't help their gut reaction.

I think all of us fear rejection on some level, and the "can you/will you love her?" questions are an expression of the individuals gut instinct to fear rejection. I hope that I am patient, honest, and kind in my replies.

I know many people who have never seriously considered adoption or explored their own feelings about adoption may never really understand the way I think and feel about adoption. That's okay. But I hope that my adoption process gives them a reason to think about adoption, and that in the end, their attitude towards adoption will be positive. I am not saying that I think everyone should adopt, because it's not for everyone. Kids aren't for everyone! That's okay. But I hope that in seeing the love I have for this child, they will be supportive of the institution of adoption. Attitude, perhaps even more than practice, influences how people talk/think/express about adoption. And I want a lot of positive talk/think/express happening around my kid!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sledding

This past Saturday, we all headed up to John's folks' house. Since they are farther north than we are, they actually had snow that stuck (not much, but enough.) Their backyard is basically a big, gently sloping hill, so Abigail got to do that great wintertime favorite: sledding! Her first priority (well, my first priority) was warmth, so she geared up.

She was ready to go! John's parents just happened to have a pink sled in their garage. Hmm, wonder what that could have been for...?
(She held the string for her sled like reigns and kept saying "Yah! Giddy-up, Sleddy!)
Here's her first big run...
video
Did you see the sled that Doctor John was using? No? Well, that's because it was it was like a boogie board for snow. He originally got it for Abigail, but I told him I didn't think it looked safe, so of course, he used it for himself. Subsequently, I laughed really hard when this happened...

(wait for it...)

Lateral 360! (AKA- Eat Snow!)

Can't really hold it against him, considering how much fun Abigail was having because of him. (And yes, his orange hunting hat is hideous, but that was the first one he found so it was what he wore. This is the man who doesn't want me to buy him clothes for Christmas, mind you.)

Ty, the "big" dog, really did not like the sled. He barked at it the whole time he was out, and even when he was in the house, he barked at it every time Abigail took a slide.

When Abigail started getting tired, Doctor John helped all 61 lbs. (plus snow gear!) by carrying her.


One of the last events of the day was the great Kirk-Showalter Sled Race! Enjoy! (During the first 10 seconds you can see Abigail flicking her sled string as if it was reigns:)

video

Hope this made you smile:)

Who needs Crack when you have a Fever?

Abigail was writing a few letters after dinner. She decided that she wanted to send one to Teta (pronounced Tee-tah, which is the name she calls my sister, Faith, instead of Aunt.) I grabbed my address book to look up her address.

It took me a good 10 seconds of looking under "T" before I realized I wouldn't find her there.

I think the fever went to my brain.

The Authentic Momma

Around 2:30 this afternoon, I briskly trotted up Third St. Big, wet, white flakes steadily fell and my glasses developed small wet specks. Crossing the street, my feet crunched in the anticipatory salt. Cradled to my chest is a blue file folder.

20 minutes (and $180) later I was authenticated and on my way home. And that's it! All of the documents in my possession are dossier ready. When my I-171H arrives, I will head back to Harrisburg to get it authenticated, then my dossier can fly away to Texas, then Washington DC, and eventually land in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia!

Once my dossier is submitted to Washington and the Ethiopian Embassy, I will be eligible to receive a referral. So, all that stands between me an my new child is a piece of paper, a signature, some FedEx time, and a few grand! Woot!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Abigail's Prayer Request

During bedtime prayers:

"Dear God, I know you have a place for my little sister in Your heart and in my heart and me in Your heart and so please help her know that You and me love her. And please help all the orphanage (I don't think she really distinguishes between orphan and orphanage) that don't have any momma so that they can know they are in Your heart and I love them."

Like Trading Spaces

They got done on time and under budget.

Whew.

Now a few weeks school-free and back at it with Statistics 200, Nutrition 251, and Nursing 465. Classes start January 14th. That feels soon-ish.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007

Finals Update

One poetry collection- due noon tomorrow.

One Website Analysis- due 0500 Monday.

One Recommendation Report- due 0500 Monday.

This is not looking so good. Ugh.

Re-Current Standings

To update you on the process:

Gladney Application: Complete and Approved! (As of Dec. 14, 2007)

Home Study: Complete and Approved! (As of Dec. 10, 2007)

I-600A: Application Complete. Awaiting I-171H. (As of Dec. 11, 2007) Current wait times according to the USCIS for the Philly branch office< 3 months.

Ethiopian Dossier: Awaiting I-171H as final document to complete dossier. The documents originating in Pennsylvania still have to be authenticated (should happen next week.) So, things are moving along! Yippee!

In my Inbox...

Hello, Grace!

Congratulations on receiving your Gladney Approval! I will continue working with you as your caseworker through the dossier and referral process. You have done a great job working on your Gladney paperwork!

Hooray!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Do you Hague?

Ever wondered what all the fuss about the Hague Treaty is? You have probably heard me talk about it here. Below is a good article from the NY Times:

"The United States, the world leader in international adoptions, will join more than 70 nations committed to standardizing policies, procedures and safeguards to reduce corruption in the largely unregulated adoption marketplace."

I really believe that transparency and accountability in adoption is so very important to promoting ethical adoption practices. Even though enacting the Hague Treaty (and working with an agency that requires me to act as if the Hague Treaty is in full effect) can be a hassle (and expensive!) I really do believe that it is necessary.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

House Rules for Using the Potty

1. Use the potty, not your panties.

2. Wash your hands.

3. Don't forget to flush.

4. Put the lid down.

5. Be polite- employ the courtesy flush when necessary.

6. Even if you don't have any success in the bathroom, you still have to wash your hands.

7. Don't forget to flush (it's on here twice because that is the one Abigail struggles to remember.)

Geography

While eating lunch, Doctor John and I were examining Abigail's place mat that is a map of the world (very useful for teaching her about Ethiopia.) I was appalled at my lack of knowledge of world geography, often exclaiming "I didn't even know that was a country!" and "how do you pronounce this?"

Then this exchange:

Grace: I had no idea there was a large island off the coast of South America!

Doctor John: Where?

Grace: Never mind. It's a crumb.

Merry Christmas, Ethiopian Style!

This was a great bit of information about the Ethiopian Christmas holidays.

Merry Christmas!

The Source of Abigail's Fear

I have decided that being a nurse may occasionally scar my child.

Yesterday, Abigail really freaked out after her shots because she needed to confirm that the needle was not still in her. I was a little confused about this, until she said "the needle stayed in you, Momma."

Then I remembered that a few months ago, when I was suffering from a major gastrointestinal illness, a friend started an IV on me, and I took a few liters of fluid at home since I couldn't keep anything down. Abigail saw the IV and I explained that the needle was in me to help give me medicine (or something like that, even though there isn't a needle in the IV, but whatever.)

So, her major issue with the shots? Not the shots, the pain, or any of that. Just the fear that the needle would stay in her! She was much better after I explained that the needle never stays in for shots.

And Abigail is just so sweet. I was talking to the doctor about "catch-up" and "repeat" immunizations for the new baby. After we were done talking, Abigail said that when her new sister has to get shots, she will kiss her owwies and give her sister a sticker to make her feel better and know that it's okay and we still love her.

She is going to be a great big sister!

My I-600A application is complete!

I waited 3 weeks and 6 days for my CIS approval! Received January 7, 2008!

Plug

I would like to give a little plug for my home study agency, Adoptions Forever. AF is a small agency based out of the Philly area. Megan is an adoptive mom to two (now teenage) girls, and her goal is to make adoption a reality. She did my home study, but she is also a licensed placing agency for some international countries.

If you are within 2 hours of Philly, I would definitely recommend her for your home study. She is very direct but approachable. She is also efficient. My actual home visit was November 17, and even including the shut down of seemingly everything for Thanksgiving week, my finalized, notarized home study arrived in my mailbox yesterday- less than one month from start to finish!

If you would like more info about her, give me a holler.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

During Dinner

Abigail: Momma, the top of my butt crack itches.

Me: Uhhh. Okay.

Doctor John: Did you scratch it?

Abigial: Yes.

DJ: Go wash your hands!

Explosion

I am pretty sure there will be an explosion of some sort in my living room in the next several hours.

And when the left side of my head actually detaches itself from the rest of my body, I doubt it will be pretty.

Nor will it help with completing my homework.

Can I stop being sick yet?

Shh!

Don't tell Abigail, but at 4:15 we are taking her to the doctor to get more shots.

I am trying to think of a good reward for her braveness.

Any ideas?

Signed, Sealed, and Delivered

As of 9:12am, my completed home study was delivered to USCIS- Philadelphia office. This is the last document needed to complete my application for my I-600A. The website claims that they are processing I-600A applications within 3 months. The approved I-600A results in a I-171H, and that is the last document needed to complete my dossier.

The home study was also the last document needed to complete my Gladney application/approval. That is currently on the truck to be delivered to Gladney's Texas office. Since Gladney has already seen and signed-off on my home study, I think it is just the hard copy of the paperwork that is needed to "officially" get approval.

So, the adoption plans currently are to get my PA documents authenticated in Harrisburg (sometime after finishing the massive amounts of finals/papers I have to do this week to complete the semester), and then sit back and wait until I get that I-171H. Granted, I won't really be "sitting back" since I have grants and loans to apply for, fundrasiers to jump on, education and training to complete, and travel to plan, but the actual "process" will pretty much be waiting from here on out.

So, pray for some patience, okay:)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

So Over It

Just wanted to update you about the pincushion situation.

After feeling pretty crummy for a few days, I am finally feeling better. I got through all of today without needing any medicine at all. Yea! My arm is still sore at the one spot, but only when I really move it a lot or press on it. I can wash my hair without crying.

So, thanks for your prayers:)

Too bad Abigail has to go get shots on Tuesday. Shh! Don't tell her!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Weed

You may officially call Abigail "Weed." Because she is growing like one.

Remember that just 3 short months ago Abigail weighed 53.1lbs?

Well, at the travel clinic on Tuesday, Abigail weighed in at 61lbs. Now, she was fully clothed, so maybe it is closer to 60lbs., BUT STILL!

Why I love Klonopin

What happens when people don't take their Klonopin? They say things like this....

"I am holding your goodness in my hand!"

To which I wanted to respond: "Wow, I don't even let my boyfriend do that!" or "Well, that's a very intimate thing."

But I didn't.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Shot Hangover

I am really feeling the effects of being the human pincushion. I felt a little off all day, and couldn't put my finger on what was wrong. But tonight, at dinner, after John asked me what was wrong (for about the 20th time) it occurred to me that I was feeling a shot "hangover." Just that general malaise (that was for you, Talitha) that you get when you aren't sick, but only because your body is working hard to keep you not sick.

I am glad for immunizations and the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia without all the risks people experienced 100 years ago, but man, I feel crummy right now.

And my arms really hurt. Whah.

Pincushion

Yesterday, Abigail and I had our appointments at the Travel Clinic. They are the people who say "You are traveling to Ethiopia, so you need these immunizations, and you need to take this anti-malaria medication, and you need to take this medication with you for travelers diarrhea, and don't drink the water and wear this mosquito spray" and all that good stuff.

You may now call me the human pincushion, because yesterday I got 4 shots. Abigail got one, but she has to go back for 3 more at her pediatrician's office, and we both have to go back to the travel clinic for the Typhoid immunization.

If you are interested, here are the shots I got:

Hepatitis A (first of 2)
Yellow Fever
Meningococcal meningitis
Polio (booster)

Here are the shots I did not have to get because I had already gotten them (for work/nursing school/childhood immunizations because I was born after 1980):
Hepatitis B series
Influenza
Tetanus/Diptheria/Pertussis (TDap) (booster required every 10 years)
Varicella (I had chicken pox as a kid)
Measles/Mumps/Reubella (MMR)

Here is the one immunization I did not get because I thought the risk was small: Rabies

Abigail got the Yellow Fever shot at the clinic. Otherwise, her standard childhood immunizations were up to date and she will only have to get a few more.

Here is the list of what Abigail needs to get:
Influenza
Meningococcal meningitis (they only had the adult shot at the Travel clinic)
Hepatits A series (this is now a routine pediatric immunization, but I don't know why this isn't on her shot record? I guess since they made this standard in 2003, she somehow got missed?)

So, grand total, we both will be getting 5 shots. I probably got more than most travelers, but that is most likely because I am a nurse and I have seen first-hand what can happen when you have these illnesses. I think it is my responsibility to protect myself and my child as much as possible from any kind of preventable disease. This is not just immunizations, but things like good hand hygiene and routine physical/dental/eye exams. Not to mention- I cannot possibly imagine coming home with my new child and having Abigail and I be sick with something really nasty!

5 shots. Not really all that bad in the long run (definitely less painful than giving birth), but I tell you, my arms are sore today! Washing my hair this morning was a form of cruel and unusual punishment!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

What's in a Name?

Grace: You know, if we ever had a daughter together, I think we would have to name her Elaine, or Elaina, or Elina, or something. Because, you know, that's your mother's name, your sister's middle name, my grandmother's name, and my mom's middle name. I would feel obligated to pass it on to the next generation, you know?

John: Can we name her E. Lane?

Grace: And this is why we will probably never have a child together.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Not So Shiny

So, I received my authenticated Illinois documents today (I love you, FedEx!) I did expect them to come today based on this conversation, but it was still a nice surprise since they really shouldn't have arrived until tomorrow or Wednesday. Now all I am waiting on for my dossier is:

~my home study and notarized agency/social worker licenses

~my I-171H

~my notarized PA documents to be authenticated


My trip to Harrisburg (and by trip I mean 20 minute drive) has now been postponed until Wednesday or Friday, assuming I receive my home study and other agency items by then. I will have to make a return trip when my I-171H arrives, but since there is always potential for problems with my documents, I would rather go sooner with the majority of the documents and make a return trip for the one document that I have not yet received.

Just thought you might like to know.

Oh, and also thought you might like to see an Illinois authentication letter. They are not nearly as shiny as the Washington and Michigan letters!



Here is the Michigan authentication letter (don't think I showed you this which is for my birth certificate.)


Activity

Abigail: Momma, let's put up our activity!

Me: What activity?

A: You know, the one with Jesus!

M: The activity with Jesus?

A: Yeah. Like the one at church?

M: Which church activity?

A: The one with Jesus and the cow!

(pause)
(pause)

M: Um, Abigail, I think you mean nativity.

Also, at church yesterday, as Abigail was sitting on my lap, I realized that the thing I was smelling was her breath. She had forgotten to brush her teeth. We have also been having problems remembering to feed Lily (poor Lily!) So I instituted this chart!Finally, after setting up the nativity together, Abigail decided that she wanted to make a bed for her baby tiger on the other end table. This morning I discovered that Lily thought the bed was for her!

Serve

I have been exploring ways to serve the people of Ethiopia. As I have learned more about these beautiful people and the great needs they have, I have felt led to serve them. "God, I don't have any money to give them!" I prayed.

"You have hands," God replied.

And that is truth right there, people.

I have hands. I have the hands of a mother. I have the hands of a nurse. And these hands are capable of holding the motherless child, feeding the starving child, of giving a shot to the sick child. God made these hands special, to serve His precious children. So please be praying as I explore the opportunities to serve in Ethiopia doing medical work.

Also, here is a little something that encouraged me!

Little Update

This is a little update. I have not gotten the agency sign-off on my homestudy yet. I don't know if there was a problem or if they are just a little back-logged from the holiday or what. But at any rate, they have not officially approved my homestudy. This is not a terribly big deal, but it does affect a few things, namely: 1) I was going to take all my stuff down to Harrisburg today to get it authenticated, but it seems silly to go without my homestudy 2) My I-171H cannot be officially processed and approved until they get a copy of my homestudy 3)Most of the adoption grants/loans that I want to apply for need a copy of your homestudy, which I won't get until the agency officially gives their okay, so I can't file my applications and 4) I can't get official agency approval until they have the final and official copy of my HS from the HS social worker. Agency approval can also affect grant/loan applications.

So, please pray that everything is okay and that I hear something today!

Archived

"Across the continent, people were lining up by the millions on one side or the other of a new binary system, being told they were 'positive' or 'negative' as if they had turned overnight into protons and electrons and everyone spoke of subatomic physics, rather than of who was going to live and who was going to be shunned, endure terrible suffering, and die."

Melissa Fay Greene

There Is No Me Without You

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