Sunday, March 30, 2008
Saturday, March 29, 2008
She ended up having an MRI and they decided that she needed surgery this morning. I just talked to my sister who just talked to the surgeon. Turn out my mom had a gall stone the size of a GOLF BALL!
I bet she will be feeling better now that it's out! And I think she will get to be officially off work when Abigail and I visit in April! Hooray! Please pray for a quick recovery for her!
Friday, March 28, 2008
Anyway, she was in charge of cleaning herself up after "the incident." She is 5, so you can imagine that the job was not exactly... thorough. When she was putting on her jammies tonight, she called me into her room. "My vagina is all red, Momma! And it hurts!"
Love being a mom.
We got her all cleaned up and put some creme on her. Then jammies and into bed. Then bedtime prayers
"Dear God, please help my vagina feel better."
At which point I lost it. Love being a mom.
I have been thinking a lot about kids lately... kids who don't have moms (and dads)... kids waiting for moms, and what life is like for kids who do not have parents. I have been thinking about the transformation that occurs when a child realizes he has a mom, a dad, a family...security, love and somewhere to belong.
With some of our kids, that "realization" that they have a Mom and a family, that they have someone to belong to, someone to watch over them, someone to care for them and someone to love them, has been gradual. With some of our kids, there has been this "a ha!" moment, where you could just see that they "got it".
There was baby Maggie... almost four months old... laying on the bed in our hotel in Vietnam on our first full day together (I had been visiting her for days at the hospital before this point). Before her hospitalization she had lived in a government orphanage where the babies had their names written on their legs in black magic marker so they could be told apart, and got very very little personal attention. She didn't cry when she was hungry or when she wanted something. She was quiet and tiny, but I could tell she loved being held and loved the attention I was giving her.
I walked away from the bed where she was laying to get a bottle for her, and she made this teeny tiny pitiful (feeble attempt at a) cry, and I rushed over and picked her up and offered her the bottle. She got this look of amazement on her face with a little smile that seemed to say, "Holy cow! You mean that crying thing WORKS with you??" and after that she did not want anyone but me and always wanted me close. She got it. I was there for her. I was her mom.
With Mercy, she was nine years old. She had had a mom before, who did not value or respect her role as a mom. Mercy knew neglect and abuse and loss. Despite that, she came to us with an open heart and a surprising amount of trust. At one point during our first week, Des needed her hair washed (and Mercy had been the one to care for Des up until that point, even though she was only three years older). Mercy told Des to go into the bathroom so she could wash her hair, and I gently told Mercy that I could wash Des's hair, and reminded her that that was the kind of thing a Mom should do. The social worker had warned us that "letting go" of being the caregiver of Des might be hard for Mercy and we might have some power struggles over it... but Mercy looked at me and looked at Des and looked back at me and said, "You wash all the other little kids... You would wash Des's hair too?" and I said, "Yes". And she said, "And then what would I do?" and I said, "Well, you could go play." And she looked at Des again and then back at me, and then she got this huge smile on her face, and you could almost SEE her letting go of the responsibility of caring for her little sister. She ran over and gave me a hug, and then took off to play. She got it. I was there for her and for her sister. I was their mom.
With Solomon, that moment came when we left AHOPE for the second time together. We had spent two days together, and then we had gone back to AHOPE to visit. As we walked through the gate and the kids called out his name and came running to say hi to him, he sat in my arms with huge, silent tears running down his cheeks. He would not make eye contact with anyone (including me, the kids and the nannies) and just stared ahead with this heartbreaking acceptance of the fact that he thought he was being left. Again. It hurt me so much that he had come to accept this from life... that nice people came and went, but he did not truly belong to any of them. I couldn't imagine how his little heart felt and how he had endured all that he had already. I comforted him and held him close and told him over and over again in his ear that I would never, never, never leave him.
He started to relax a little the longer we were there and I stayed with him, but he was not his usual self. And then it happened. I put him in the sling, we waved good-bye, went back out through the gate and headed back up the road towards the hotel for some lunch. He got this HUGE grin on his face, and was bouncing up and down in the sling laughing, and then grabbing my face and kissing it over and over as we walked. He was so happy and joyful. He got it. He was not going to be left again. I was HIS. He was mine. I was his Mom.
Since then I have watched him blossom with love. I have watched him learn how to expect and look forward to being held often, comforted when he cries, rocked to sleep, having his needs met, getting individual attention and being smothered in hugs and kisses often. As I crawled into bed last night, a few hours after I had put him down to sleep, his little body turned towards me, and without waking up, he put his arm on me, snuggled in close and let out a content sigh.
All kids deserve that knowledge, that peace and that comfort. All kids deserve to know that they are loved and that they belong to someone.
I believe with all my heart that our Heavenly Father did not send us down here to go at life alone, to worry about ourselves and to focus our lives on material and trivial things. I believe with all my heart that we are meant to live in families... mothers, fathers and children together, focusing our lives on loving, enjoying and serving each other.
We have several reasons to believe that Solomon most likely spent very little (if any) time with his first mother. And yet even after multiple changes in caregivers and "homes", multiple losses and lots of suffering without a mom to comfort him, he KNEW what a Mom was for from our very first days together. His heart and soul reached out to mine and grabbed on firmly. He knew that he wanted a mom. He knew that hugs, kisses and rock-a-byes were something he wanted, deserved and needed. The other kids we met in Ethiopia knew it too. They knew that they belonged with parents. They knew that something big was missing from their lives.
My heart rejoices for my kids and others that have had their lives changed so drastically...who were once alone, and now live with love, security and family. Watching Solomon over the past few weeks has reminded me of what an incredible miracle adoption is.
And at the same time, my heart aches for the so very many kids who are living life alone right now. . Even the very best orphanage is no comparison to a home and family. It is wrong that these kids must wait and yearn for a family. They deserve, as all children do, the peace and security that comes with the knowledge of knowing that they belong to someone, that they are being cared for and that they are loved.
This is why I support adoption...because I have seen the sadness in the eyes of the children who wait for moms, I have seen the amazing transformation in children once they have been "claimed" and loved, and because I believe, with all my heart, that that love and belonging is what our lives on this Earth are supposed to be about.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
The basic concept of the SNS stroller is that it is a "regular" stroller for your baby/toddler, but also allows bigger kids a way to ride along. It's not as bulky as a double stroller, and makes it easy for big kids to alternate between walking, sitting, and standing while riding.
Most of the time, big kids will want to walk. But, big kids do get tired and need a rest, so they can chill on the bench, have a drink of water, and talk to Momma. But they also want to see the world! So, even if they are too tired to walk (or it is to crowded/unsafe to let them walk) they can stand and see everything!
When you are 2 kids of different ages, especially when both are young, this is a great solution. When I was a mother's helper, we used a SNS stroller in Disney world for the kids (age 3 and 6.) I can't wait to use this with my girls:)
**Also, these pics are off the One Step Ahead site. Love the transracial family:)
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Ah, 10 weeks. Double digits. See that lock in that picture? Imagine that it is the "referral lock." Maybe this week will unlock it? We'll see!
Time has been flying by like Harry on his Firebolt (I heart HP!). This week's highlights:
*More donations from church! Wow! Thanks CCC!
*Put together the toy box for the girl's room. It rocks, and looks so good!
*Bought more stuff for the trip. Abigail has outgrown her crocs from last year, so I picked up some of those, as well as some beading things and markers/coloring books. This week's travel prep will include figuring out how to put one my "Chronicles of Narnia" Books on CD onto my MP3 player for loads of listening pleasure for both Abigail and I on the airplane!
*Received an award.
Okay kids, I better get back to work. Good luck to all the families whose court dates were rescheduled from today to tomorrow. I'll be praying that I can add something to your "Passed Court" column.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
I always thought the FBI would make me famous. (Plus, there is the great power that comes from controlling the FBI.)
I would like to thank the Blog Stalking Federation, especially their founder, Mrs. Jessica Soucy, for their recognition of my commitment to and achievement in forensic blogging. I would also like to thank the Federation for their lovely gift which I intend to enjoy this evening:)
*Also, I am highly amused by the title "brilliant statistician."
Chunks of my foot? Yes. My foot. Because right now, I have a very "concerning" mole on my foot. It's big, it's bad, and it's changing shape and color. So, the dermatologist wants to take it out and biopsy it. And depending on how far down the scale of "abnormal" it is, he may want to take some more chunks of my from my arm and back.
I mean, I knew my dermatologist liked me, but I had no idea he would want to keep a bit of me for himself!
In all seriousness, I am at high risk for skin cancer. I am fair skinned, red-headed, and I didn't protect my skin very well when I was a kid. I've had several bad sunburns, and I have a lot of moles. (Check out your risk factors for skin cancer here.) I have taken steps to reduce my risk for skin cancer, but once damage has been done, it can't be undone. So all those burns as a kid and teen? They are adding up to increase my risk. (Find out what you can do to reduce your risk here.)
Long story short, some time after I get back from Ethiopia, I will go into the dermatologist's office and he will cut out a chunk of my foot. I'll have some stitches for about 2 weeks. And then we will see what the lab results show. Exciting.
Monday, March 24, 2008
First, I think the most important thing to know in order to teach your child about God is this: know what you believe, and why you believe it. We can only truly teach what we know and understand. I can't teach calculus because I don't know and understand calculus, but I could teach nursing because I know and understand nursing. It is the same with your religious beliefs. You need to know what you believe and why you believe it. This will prepare you to answer those interesting and tough questions that kids ask. Sure, we will all have moments when we honestly don't know (Momma, why did God choose me to be a big sister but not choose me to be a little sister?) and that is okay. (My response to these questions is "I don't know, but you can ask God. Would you like to pray about that and ask Him to show you why He made that choice?) But for the most part, we do actually have a lot of questions that we can answer, if we take the time to really examine what we believe.
For instance, I strongly believe that I need to teach my daughter how to make good decisions. My job is not to teach her to follow a set of rules dictated by me, the Church, her school, or the government. Yes, she needs to follow the rules, and I am teaching her that, but my real job is to teach her how to make decisions when there is no one else telling her what to do (ie- how to be a grown up.) I need to teach her how to decide what to do when there is no black and white, when there is no clear-cut right and wrong; most of life is shades of gray and very little of live is obviously wrong or right. In trying to teach her this, I not only teach her rules (don't lie, don't hit) but I teach her why she shouldn't do those things. We don't lie because it makes God sad when we lie; we don't hit because when we hit people, it hurts them, and Jesus wants us to be kind to each other and love each other, not hurt each other. But the only way I can teach her they "why" behind the rule is if I know it myself. I need to know what I believe, and why I believe it.
Secondly, beyond knowing right and wrong, beyond knowing what you believe about God, you need to live it out. For instance, you can tell your kids to eat their vegetables until you are blue in the face, but if you don't eat your vegetables, your kids will not believe it is important. You need to set the example and make God real and tangible in your own life so that they can see that God can be real and tangible in their life.
Recently I was having some car difficulties. One morning, the car just wouldn't start. I was upset and frustrated, and I knew Abigail was watching me intently from her car seat in the back seat. I stopped and asked her if she would pray with me that God would help our car to work. We did just that, and on the next try, the car started! We thanked God for helping us. Later that day, Abigail couldn't find a very special toy. She was upset and frustrated, but rather than throwing a fit, she came to me and asked if we could pray that God would help her find her toy. We did pray, and within a few minutes, she found her toy. When she found it, she excitedly hollered, "Momma, God helped me find my toy! Thanks God!" Did God cause my car to start or her to find her toy? Maybe, maybe not. But the point is that Abigail understands that you can go to God with all of your concerns, and He listens and helps you. I set an example to her of a living, active, interactive God, and she follows that example. As the scripture says, talk about the things of God from the moment you wake up to the moment you return to bed!
Third, keep in mind that you can't do it for them. Faith is a very personal thing, and you can't create faith within your child. However, you can foster faith and help it grow. By having a mindset that recognizes God's role in giving us good gifts, providing for us, loving us, and leading us, we can, as parents, nurture faith in our children. When we speak to our child about how God answered their prayer, we are showing our faith, and helping them to develop faith. We can't make them have faith, but we can help them understand what faith is. In our house, Abigail and I talk about her bedtime prayers before she prays. We talk about what she wants to pray about (her sister, the orphans around the world (and the cat orphans), our family) and then we talk about what we want to thank God for. During this time, I try to point out the ways that God has answered her prayers, especially in those practical, day-to-day ways that matter to a child.
Finally, you weren't meant to do this alone. Teaching your child about God is a tall order. There are lots of supports for you. The church is a big area of support. When your child has a lesson in the nursery or their children's ministry, take the time to learn about what the lesson was, and what the teachers taught. Then reinforce the lesson in the car on the way home from church. Leave their art project on your dashboard as a reminder to talk about their lesson the next time you are driving to the grocery. Remind them throughout the week about the things they learned about God. (Especially when kids are very young, their lessons are usually "God loves you and wants to help you when you are scared" and such. There are lots of everyday opportunities to reinforce that idea.)
Abigail loves to listen (and dance!) to music, so I am glad to have a few VegeTales CDs and a few CDs of children's praise and worship songs. We often sing together in the car, and talk about the lyrics. We have a few VegeTales DVDs, and some Adventures in Oddessy CDs that share stories with a Biblical theme. I think for kids, the best thing you can do is make God "approachable." These DVDs and CDs really do that for kids. For younger children (infant to 6), I really like the book "The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes." (Check it out- you will love it!) The Christian bookstore is another great resource to help find things that will engage your child while also teaching them about God. Find what works for your kid. (Here is an idea for little boys, and one for little girls.) The Adam Raccoon books are great stories and teach about God. Kids are never too young to hear the great stories of God's faithfulness and love!
I would love to hear your thoughts! What has worked for you?
Please keep them in your prayers. Each week that goes by without a referral must be so difficult, and yet Natalie is so sweet as to post this encouragement- it totally convicted me!
Can we all rally around them and give them love and support during this 27th week of waiting for their kiddos? And maybe say a few prayers for them, that the Comfort of the Holy Spirit will be with them, and that maybe, just maybe, they will get their referral!
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Last night at dinner I had a divine dish: spinach artichoke ravioli in a lemon butter sauce. Oh my word. I can't even begin to say how delicious it was. Mmmmm! (For those that are interested, there was no evangelistic kissing. However, he did say that he does in fact heart me.)
You know how I joked that the Internet is my best friend? I've been thinking about that. Please tell me that I am not the only person who has folders for the categories of blogs they follow! I have "fun blogs" (Moriah, Eryka, Mom, Go Fug Yourself type things). Then I have a folder for "adoption blogs." This folder has 3 sub-folders: Gladney process families, Non-Gladney Process Families, and Home Families. I'm not the only one, right?
I am drinking my coffee out of my Bloomsburg Fair 2007 commemorative glass tankard. Why? Why not a coffee mug? Because, when I looked in the dishwasher this morning, I realized I had room to fit my tankard but not room for a mug. So I adjusted my drinkware accordingly. Doesn't everyone use dishes based on what will fit in the few remaining spots in the dishwasher?
Friday, March 21, 2008
I have been praying in particular about one person, and hope that one day he will accept Jesus. I will be seeing him tonight, and I received this advice about evangelism in this particular situation.
"You should kiss Dr. J tonight. He hearts you. How are you ever going to lead him to Christianity if you won't make out with him? DUH!"
Kissing for a Cause. That's totally the way to lead people to Jesus, right? :)
(I am just kidding, and if you don't know that, stop reading my blog!)
Thursday, March 20, 2008
And as if that wasn't bad enough, when I related the above incident to Doctor John, his response was, "well, if you said it flippantly enough, they might not have realized you were telling the truth."
This position would also be Monday-Friday, 8-5, no weekends/no holidays. It would not involve patient care (yea!), but would occasionally require travel (sometimes to Chicago!) I think I would be really successful in this position, and truly enjoy it.
SOOOOOOOOOOO, please pray that I get a second interview (I should know next week.) I really want this job (unlike the other one where I didn't think I would like the job but at least it would be different from my present job.) I almost hate to type it here, but I think this job might even be fun.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Oh yeah. I think that word is Dork.
How will the courts closing during the rainy season affect me?
After a family officially accepts a child referral, our in-country representatives will submit the family's dossier to the courts. If the family is approved by the courts before they close for the rainy season, then the family is able to travel to pick up their child (even if the courts are closed). The U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia will still be open during the rainy season, so the family will be able to pick up their child's visa. However, if the family is unable to get a court date before the courts close for the rainy season, then they will need to wait until the courts reopen in October before their dossier can be submitted. It is expected that the courts will have a back log of files when they reopen.
For those families who have accepted a child referral during the rainy season, Gladney's in-country staff will provide families with updates on the child they have accepted while waiting for the courts to reopen.
Will Gladney stop making child referrals during the rainy season?
Gladney will continue to provide families with child referrals even during the rainy season. If the family decides to accept their child referral during the rainy season, the family must wait until the courts reopen in October before their dossier can be submitted to the courts. We are unsure of how long it will take for courts to issue a court date when they reopen as we can expect some backlog.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Sunday, March 16, 2008
I am getting a tad bit excited as the G. Family was just referred a toddler boy after only 6.5 weeks of waiting! I am wondering/hoping that the referral of a toddler girl will also be a bit shorter than the anticipated 3-5 months:)
I was just talking to another Christian adoptive mom at my work, and she was trying to guess what the name will be. We got a little silly, and she made a suggestion that almost tempted me to change my name plan.
I mean, how could I not want to name my new daughter "Jezebel Delilah"?
Court- Any long-time reader of my blog knows that I have had difficulties with my prior and all our legal muck. On Tuesday we had a pre-trial hearing. The judge didn't rule on anything, but he did say "if we went to trial, here is how I would rule on this count, and here is what I would rule on this count." So it gave us an idea of what would happen if we go to trial (the judge's opinion of how he would rule would be unlikely to change unless we had some sort of new evidence.)
Anyway, basically, the judge is calling a "do over." I didn't know that even though my prior and I agreed to having Abigail move to PA with me, I still had to petition the court to remove her from the state of IL. Obviously, I didn't do that, so the judge basically said that our parenting agreement was null and void from the time that I moved to PA since I was the one who "broke" our parenting agreement.
SO- the prior will not be held accountable for any of the ways he failed to fulfill the parenting agreement from July 15, 2006 until now. PLUS, the judge is ordering us to revise our parenting agreement, and until a new order for the parenting agreement is entered, the prior doesn't have to fulfill any obligations. So until we agree on and get a court order for a new parenting agreement, Abigail gets nothing from her dad. Nice, I know.
On the other hand, this is giving us a way to legally revise the parenting agreement. Obviously, Abigail's dad will still have visitation ordered by the court, but it will be put into our agreement that he must pay for half of her travel expenses. Additionally, the revised parenting agreement/visitation schedule will be such that he will not be able to have her for 7 consecutive weeks over the summer the way he did last year. I am hoping that he won't have more than 1 week, 2 weeks max.
Chicago- Abigail and I are going to be visiting Chicago in April. YEA!!!!!
Thursday, March 13, 2008
So, Gagie and Pepaw. How did that come about you ask? Honestly, Abigail couldn't say grandma and grandpa, but she managed to say Gaga and Pepaw. She still alternates between calling my mom Gaga and Gagie.
Teta came about because my sister was trying to teach Abigail to say "tia" (Spanish for aunt) but all that Abigail could manage was Teta.
And why isn't my brother some sort of strange name as well? I'm not sure, but I think it is because he wasn't around much when Abigail was developing her language skills (he was away at college.) She never had to try to ask for him or try to say his name until she was a little older and he was around more. So that is why he is boring old "Uncle Jordan."
Although, with the new baby, he might get a nickname, too!
A: These were questions that I had, too, at the beginning of my adoption journey. As I educated myself, I came to believe that under different circumstances, I could, and would, adopt an HIV+ child. I had the pleasure of meeting an HIV+ child recently adopted into the US, and I can tell you this- she was just like any other little girl, and I had no problem letting Abigail play with her. Her HIV status would not have inhibited me from loving her, and I am thankful that she is here in the US and she is healthy!
Here is my response to the question above.
I would suggest that perhaps you and your hubby read "There Is No Me Without You." This book will help you gain a better understanding of the orphan epidemic in Ethiopia.
Children in Ethiopia may be AIDS orphans. However, they may be relinquished due to poverty or other reasons as well. For instance,in Ethiopia, a widowed woman has very little hope of remarrying. Remarrying is one of the only ways she can gain any kind of financial security. Having children from her previous husband makes remarrying even more difficult. So, since she probably can't provide for her kids, and she almost certainly will not remarry if she keeps her kids, she may choose to relinquish them.
I don't think that there are any accurate numbers for how many of the Ethiopian orphans are orphaned by AIDS. But in a world where a woman may work all day and earn only a few cents, the reality is that children are orphaned by poverty just as much as by disease. Additionally, AIDS is not the only disease that can orphan children. Many diseases that are not fatal in developed nations are certainly fatal in developing nations like Ethiopia where access to health care is limited and there is no health care for people who cannot pay for it. TB, malaria, polio, etc can all be causes of illness and death.
Parents may acquire HIV and die from it after children are born. Additionally, just because one or both parents are HIV+ does not mean that the children born of them will be HIV+ as well. In fact,studies from other nations have shown that a child is more likely to acquire HIV from breastfeeding from an HIV+ mom than from being born of an HIV+ parent.
All children are tested for HIV when they are admitted to an orphanage. Depending on your agency, you may have the option of having additional HIV tests done (in general, the real question of accuracy of the HIV tests has to do with which kind of test is done, the age of the child at the time of the test administration, and how recently the child may have had exposure to HIV through birth or breast milk. That is a long and complex discussion, but suffice it to say that with enough HIV tests done at the appropriate times, you can almost certainly trust the negative results of the tests.) Children are also tested for other communicable diseases when they come into the orphanage.
HIV+ children are, generally, not housed with HIV- children once they go into agency-run orphanages. Additionally, to bring an HIV+ child into the US, you have to go through a special procedure with USCIS. If you don't want to adopt an HIV+ child, you can feel confident that you won't, as the children as also tested for HIV at the American Embassy in Addis before they are permitted to leave Ethiopia.
Please keep in mind that HIV/AIDS is not as scary as it used to be. Because of the amazing anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs that we have, children who are started onto ARV therapy have a life span that is equal to that of an HIV- child. In fact, an HIV+ child who receives ARV therapy in the US will die of a heart attack, stroke, or other "diseases of age" before they die of HIV/AIDS. A child who is HIV+ is not likely to advance to AIDS if they are receiving ARV therapy.
HIV is not likely to be spread to family members or friends. In fact, in a hospital setting, the precautions we take for HIV+ patients are no different than the precautions we take for an HIV- patient, since it kind of takes a lot to acquire HIV. Since I am not sharing needles or having sex with my patients, I can't get HIV from them. It's that simple. The HIV virus is very unstable and cannot live on surfaces, so things like sharing a bathroom or sharing linens does not increase your risk of contracting HIV.
Certainly, adopting and parenting an HIV+ child has it's risks, and it is not for everyone. But I think that there is still this unfair stigma surrounding HIV. You and your husband probably interact with HIV+ people in your daily lives and you don't even know, because HIV is not a "killer" in the US the way it is in developing nations. It is a serious disease, but in the US, it is a manageable chronic condition just like high blood pressure or diabetes. And we know that people are more likely to die from high blood pressure and diabetes than from HIV in the US because of the wonderful medications we have available to us.
Me: I love when we are out in public, and Abigail makes a comment about "when my new sister gets here..." And then everyone automatically looks at my stomach! It's so funny.
Director: Hey guys, it's not in there!
Me: Nope! This is my fat-free pregnancy:)
And those who know me now may say what they want about how I wasn't "fat" when I was pregnant, but let me just say this: I gained 48 pounds in 17 weeks when Abigail was cooking in my tummy, and 48 pounds is a lot of weight. And I think I carried all 48 pounds in my face.
I much prefer this "fat free" way:)
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Abigail: Momma, how do you spell "fur?"
Me: Do you mean "for" or "fur"?
Abigail: "Fur." You know, like "I am getting new bunkbeds fur my sister."
Me: I think you mean "for."
Abigail: No, fur. That's what everyone says!
Yesterday, I talked to her and set up a blogger account for her since she was having difficulty posting anonymous comments. Of course, blogger made me set up a blog for her, which I did. I put a little something onto her profile and then posted a post on her blog of some pictures of our family. Then I emailed her all the info for accessing her blogger account.
I unintentionally surfed to her blog today, and shock of all shocks- she had written and posted a whole post without any help!!!! She even added a label (but didn't quite find the spell check button:)
Anyhow, stop over at her blog and say "Howdy."
*Donations drive at church continues. We have been very blessed to receive some wonderful donations, and I am so thankful for those who are reaching out to bless the children of Ethiopia.
*Spoke with another adoption loan agency yesterday. I should know if I receive that loan within the next week or 2. Say a prayer and keep your fingers crossed!
*Received the (hopefully final) piece of paperwork needed to complete my pre-certification for FMLA leave. This process was, unfortunately, more complicated than I felt that it needed to be. But, this paper will be faxed to HR this afternoon, and I will be done. Woot!
Well, that's all I can think of right now. Off to finish up some homework and then to a job interview later this afternoon! Yea!
P.S. I just love that picture of the number 8! I found this several weeks ago, and I have so been looking forward to using it on this "Week 8" post!
A: Well, since you asked...
You probably saw this one coming. It seems that it is a right of passage for adoptive parents to write the "Plan A" post. You know, the post where they explain that adoption wasn't a fallback plan, wasn't a second choice, wasn't a compromise. The post where they explain how very much in love with adoption they are... not just in love with their child, but with the choice to adopt.
For most adoptive couples, this is a fairly straightforward post. Often, the post will include an explanation that adopted kids are just as much "our own" as biological kids. The "ownership" of children is a frequently-addressed topic, and parents explain how very much this child will be "theirs" despite the lack of a biological connection. It sometimes includes a reference to the very intrusive questions that well-meaning but ignorant people sometimes ask, especially those questions about the boy parts and girl bits that are involved in making a baby, and the potential for exploring fertility treatment. This is understandable, as reproduction is the more traditional way of expanding a family, and many of the non-adoptive circle are just plain curious why that route would not be pursued, or at least perused.
Almost every "Plan A" leaves me nodding along in agreement, and a few even leave me with a tear glistening in my eyes. They speak to the great truth that all people are equal and worthy of love. They speak to the call we have to love- the charge to look after orphans. They speak to the choice involved in love- a choice to love a child just as you choose to love your spouse. They are life-affirming and love-affirming. They are the posts that touch your heart and change the way you think.
I can't write that post.
Why? Well, primarily because at this point, reproduction is not really a valid form of expanding my family. I mean, yes, I assume that if I wanted to become pregnant, I could. I had some complications at the end of Abigail's pregnancy, and I've had some concerning health issues since then, but with modern healthcare, there is no reason to believe I couldn't conceive and carry a child. I probably could. At least, all my doctors think so.
But, being single, while it is technically possible, it is not really probable. I am already not enjoying trying to share the parenting responsibilities of my daughter with a man that is not my spouse, and I really don't want to go down that road again. If I were to re-marry, I would consider bearing a child from my womb (although, the appeal of that option is limited) but until I an married, why would I want to invite another person into my life in such an intimate way?
So, when it comes to adoption, it would be wrong to say that it was or became my "Plan A." That implies that there is a feasible "Plan B." In my situation, I wouldn't say that there is a feasible "Plan B." There is just "The Plan." Adoption. At the same time, indicating that adoption is "The Plan" simply for lack of an alternate plan is an unfair representation of my feelings towards adoption.
Q: So, what are your feelings towards adoption?
A: How much time do you have?
My feelings towards adoption are complex and evolving. When I first started out on the adoption journey, I found myself frustrated when I reached the point where things were "out of my hands." With pregnancy, there is always something I could do- go to doctors appointments, eat right, exercise, read to my bump... With adoption, there's a lot of doing nothing except waiting. I found this frustrating at first, until I realized that adoption really took the focus off me and my abilities and put the focus onto God and His sovereign nature- His perfect plan and His ability to work all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
At the same time, I've been able to appreciate a lot of things about adoption from the very beginning. Pregnancy was very hard on me physically, and after I gave birth, I suffered a very intense post-partum depression. From the very beginning of the adoption journey, I have appreciated that I haven't felt tired, excessively emotional, or been puking non-stop the way I did when I was pregnant. I appreciate that growing my family through adoption does not put me at risk for post-partum depression. And I appreciate the way that adoption allows Abigail to be just as involved in the process of growing our family as I am!
I love the idea of adoption, even though there are times when the actual process of adoption is not my favorite. I love that adoption is a beautiful picture of our relationship with God: He loved us before we were even born, just like I love my daughter now, before she is known to me; He adopted us to Himself, to be His children and to share equal access to Him, just like I am adopting my daughter and she will be equal in my love and affection as Abigail. It's beautiful.
I could go on, but I won't (if you've read this far, kudos!) Allow me to sum up the point of this post: Adoption is a beautiful picture of God's love for us, and it is the method of growing my family to which God has called me at this time. This doesn't just make it my "Plan A"- it makes it something more and better than my plans- it makes it God's Plan. And that makes it just right.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Sunday, March 09, 2008
A: When people ask this question, I assume they mean "what can I do to help right now? What donations do you need? What are your immediate practical needs?"
I have outlined some of the ways you can help in the Pray, Support, and Give areas.
I am also collecting donations for the orphanage.
Practical needs include:
~Boys and girls new or gently used clothing size 0-8, including underwear, socks, jackets, and pajamas.
~Children’s shoes of all sizes.
~Crayons and art supplies (stickers, scissors, glue, glitter, coloring books, etc.)
~Blankets and bibs
~Huggies Diapers size 1-2 and Huggies Natural Care wipes
~Nestle Good Start Supreme DHA/AHA powder
~A&D Original Ointment
Additionally, I will be collecting small gifts to give to the orphans:
~Inflatable balls (they especially love soccer balls!) and bouncy balls (Deflated balls for travel. A hand pump to re-inflate the balls will be needed as well.)
~Balloons and stickers
~Costume jewelry, face paints
~Individually wrapped candy and granola bars
In terms of more permanent help and aid...
Would you consider adopting?
Would you consider adopting an older child or an HIV+ child?
Would you consider sponsoring a child (See the Support page.)
Would you consider hosting a child or sibling group through the Bright Futures Camp?
Would you consider supporting Gladney's Ethiopian Humanitarian Aid Programs?
Would you consider asking the Lord what HE wants you to do? I promise, whatever He puts you up to will be just the thing that's needed!
A: Here is info provided by my agency in their travel packet for families who will be traveling to Ethiopia:
In a short answer, yes it is very safe! Every so often, there are reports concerning conflicts and skirmishes particularly along the border. You might also hear the jihadists are declaring a “holy war” between the Somali Muslims and the Ethiopian Christians. Remember that Ethiopia is about twice the size of Texas and most incidents in the past are taking place in the outer districts (near the border) and are being provoked by non Ethiopian citizens. Also, remember that our media is in the business of sensationalizing events in order to whet the appetite of the American public.
Gladney has American staff currently living in Ethiopia and sends others from the U.S. several times a year. We would not be doing so if we knew it to be a danger. Also, the State Department has a website to inform interested parties of situations occurring in Ethiopia. You may monitor the State Department site at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_1764.html . You will be accompanied in your daily outings by either one of the Gladney staff or a trusted English speaking driver in whom Gladney has confidence.
So, basically, my agency says it's safe, the government says it's safe, previous travelers have not had any safety concerns, and I will be with a very protective group of people going to very safe places. No, I'm not worried about our safety, and I hope you aren't, either!
My "standby"plan is Gathering Potatoes, because who doesn't like Gathering Potatoes? Plus, they are great for any occasion- brunch, dinner, cook-out, whatever. But I thought I might branch out a bit.
I am looking for a casserole of some sort, preferably the kind that you can make ahead the night before and just bake in the morning (especially if I am going to make it to the sunrise service at 6am!) So, amaze me!
1 Cor. 1:25 (NLT)
A lot of people seem to question the "timing" of this adoption. They question why I would want to adopt now when I could wait and adopt if/when I get married again. They question why I would adopt while I am so far from my family. The question why I would adopt when I am still trying to get thru school. They question why I would adopt when I am still in a job where my schedule is unpredictable and keeps me from Abigail some evenings and weekends.
In my gut, I want to respond "do you really think I haven't wondered these things myself?" Because I have- these are questions I have faced within myself. But while other seem to present a "better" plan, a "wiser" plan (and many do this without hesitation!) I am convinced of this:
The wisdom of man is like foolishness when compared to the wisdom of GOD!
So, why should I concern myself with what others think would be "wiser"? The God of the universe, omniscient, omnipresent, all-powerful and all-knowing, has instructed me in His wisdom to pursue this adoption at this time. Um, I think HE might be just a tad wiser than anyone here on Earth, no?
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Hannah (like Hannah Montana)
Abigail (this was a joke, I think)
Other names Abigail likes:
You can add your vote here.
Webkinz- No. Primarily because the public didn't really have the Internet when I was a kid.
Computers- Yes. But they weren't as cool as what we have today!
Pop tarts- Yes. (So cool, they're hot; so hot, they're cool!)
McDonald's- Yes. (they even had McDonald's when Gaga was a kid!)
Cabbage Patch Dolls- Yes. I was first generation Patch.
Disney Movies (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin)- Yes. I can remember seeing the commercials on TV for the release of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King, and being so eager to see them. We sang songs from those movies in my school choir.
So, what fun things are you excited to share with your kids because they were such fun in your childhood? And what things are you totally bummed that your kids won't get?
Thursday, March 06, 2008
No matter how much I reassured her that when her Dad and I got divorced it had nothing to do with her, she was still upset. She couldn't understand why we would get divorced. I tried to explain that sometimes grown-ups make decisions to do things, and kids are too young to understand why, and that when she got older she would understand.
Her response? "I'm old enough now, Momma."
Where do you go with that?
I tried to tell her that sometimes grown-ups need to be away from each other so that they can do what they need to do and what God needs them to do. Sometimes moms and dads need to live in different houses and be around different people because things get better then.
"So, God wanted you to get divorced?"
How do you respond to that? Honestly, I don't think that "God wanted" us to get divorced. I think God hates divorce, and if He "wanted" anything in that situation, it would have been for both of us to be obedient to Him.
Well, God didn't want us to get divorced, but sometimes grown-ups make bad choices. Grown-ups do things that are good ideas at the time, but can be bad ideas at other times.
"So, you just didn't want to be married to my Daddy?"
Another hard one. The truth is so difficult: I am glad I am not married to the prior anymore, but when this all started happening, there was nothing I wanted less than to get divorced. I hated getting divorced. I hated loosing my best friend, my confidant, my bug-killer, my trash-taker-outer, my parenting sounding board, and the only other person who could also stare for hours at my beautiful sleeping daughter. I hated it, and I am scared to death that if I ever got married again, it could potentially end in divorce. Getting divorced was not my idea, and I did absolutely nothing to speed or aid the process.
At the same time, it's not fair to make this all his fault. The breakdown of a relationship, whether purposeful or not, does take 2. I played my role as well. And it's not fair to put it onto a innocent 5 year old that while the majority of the "blame" of a divorce lies with one parent, the other did things that didn't really help.
So I told her what I view to be the real reason we got divorced:
"Abigail, Daddy didn't love God and didn't have Jesus living inside him. So it made being married difficult, because he didn't want to do what God wanted him to do."
She was blown away. "Daddy doesn't love Jesus and doesn't have him in his heart? Why not? What about [step-mom]? Does she love Jesus? Why don't they love Jesus? I love Jesus and he is in my heart? Why isn't he in my Daddy's heart? Jesus is in my Gaga's heart, and my Pepaw's heart, and my Tetas heart."
We ended up praying together for her dad and step-mom; we prayed that they would get to love God and have Jesus in their hearts. And we prayed that God would help them make good decisions.
And suddenly, Abigail doesn't care why we got divorced. She cares about her Daddy going to heaven.
And I don't know if this is good, bad, or both.
1) The directions I got from the seller were accurate but difficult to follow (ie- poorly marked roads, etc)
2) This place was in the middle of NOWHERE!
So, we end up driving around after we picked up the stroller. We were both very hungry, but couldn't find anywhere to eat since we were in the middle of the countryside. So, Abigail decided to pray:
Dear God, please help us find a place to eat our dinner so that we can not be hungry anymore and so that I don't feel too sad. In Jesus' name, Amen.
We ended up finding a nice little family restaurant where we promptly indulged in "breakfast for dinner;" Abigail had pancakes and sausage, and I had the Ultimate Omelet with home fries and toast. The food was excellent.
As we sat there, Abigail asked a very good question: Why do we say "In Jesus' name" when we pray.
I welcome any of you to go into a full theological discussion about why we do this. I am sure there are those who don't know and truly, as a Christian, it is useful and important knowledge. But that is not my goal in this little story, so I will simply relay how I ultimately explained it to Abigail. Not sure if I did a good job or not, but she seemed okay with it.
When we pray, we say "in Jesus' name" because it means we are praying with the power and authority of Jesus. Since Jesus is God's son, when people are talking like Jesus, God really pays attention, just like I would pay attention if I heard people talking about you, Abigail.
Okay, so, paring down theology to a 5 year old level, what did I miss? I am so nervous that I am going to screw up my daughter's theology.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Momma, when my sister comes, my world will change a lot. It will be a lot different to have a sister. I will have to have a responsibility. I will have to help you and bring you diapers and throw the poop in the garbage. And then I will have to read to my sister and tell her all about my Gagie and my Pepaw and my Teta. And I could teach her how to read.
And I will have to teach my sister how to pray, and how to do beautiful dancing for God when we are at church. And then I could teach her how to use the potty so that she does her poopies in there and it won't smell like poop in our house.
Also, Momma, we should buy some diapers for my sister. Because I don't want her to peepee on me.
One month, 2 weeks, 4 days. Time is flying! Here are week 7 highlights:
*Updated my to-do list.
*Kicked off donations drive at church with an announcement in the bulletin. The best part was that as I was walking into the sanctuary and trying to find a seat, the associate pastor comes up to me and is all "Oh, by the way, I just want you to come up during announcements and tell everyone what the Ethiopia stuff is all about." Just like that. No warning. I was literally shaking, but so many people came up to me after service and were so excited to talk to me about adoption and how they can help. Yea!
*My pastor's daughter gave me a whole rubbermaid bin of baby clothes to donate to the orphanage. Thanks!
*Tonight I am going to pick up a stroller. I have wanted a Sit-n-Stand stroller since I decided to adopt, but those things are stinking expensive. Then I found one on craigslist for $35. Dude, I don't care if it has stains or small rips (they will happen once I start using it anyway, especially once it makes a trip on an airplane to Chicago) so this is working out just right! I can't wait to get it. If you don't know why a Sit-N-Stand stroller is super-cool, just ask. I might have to dedicate a whole post to the coolness of this stroller.
*Strongly considered assembling bookshelves and toy box for the girls' room. This is not my favorite thing ever. Almost psyched myself up to do it. But then I read this post, and remembered how frustrating assembling baby items is, and backed out. But almost did it!
*Went to the Great Baltimore Zoo Outing of 2008. Promptly lost all my pictures when my computer spazed out. (The folder where they are supposed to be stored is there, the pictures are not.) Bummer. But fun. But a bummer. You know?
*Had a minor heart attack when examining the quantity of loot that Baby Soucy already has. That is going to be one well-dressed baby.
*Almost wet myself over the Rooney's good news. Then proceeded to exhaust the "refresh" button while waiting for Lori to post "the story of the good news."
Monday, March 03, 2008
Praise and thanks be to God who has known and ordained the Rooney family since before time began, and who has worked all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to HIS purpose!
Ted and Lori have their own Rooney.
Sunday, March 02, 2008
At any rate, we were talking about relationships today: I am my mom's daughter, and Gonzer's grand-daughter. Abigail is Teta and Uncle Jordan's niece. Abigail's new sister will be their niece, and Gaga and Pepaw's grand-daughter as well. Then she asked why I have "2 dads" and I explained that Pepaw is my step-dad.
I think that's when she put it together.
"Do I have a step-dad, Momma?"
"No. You just have Daddy."
"Oh, but Sarah is my... what?"
"Oh. Sarah is my step-mom. (pause) But you are still my Momma, right?"
I reassured her, and then ended up having to explain how Daddy and I were married, but we aren't anymore, and he is now married to Sarah. Abigail wondered why her dad and I weren't still married, so I explained that you can only be married to one person at a time. She was really asking a lot of questions, and eventually she figured out that if I ever got married again, he would be her step-dad. She was really interested in that little bit of information.
It was so difficult to have this conversation with her, and as much as I don't miss my prior and I really don't miss being married to him, it breaks my heart when my little girl, just 5 years old, has to process the idea that her Momma and Daddy used to be married and aren't married anymore, but that her Daddy married someone else. The most heart-breaking part? This...
"So, you were married to my Daddy until I was born, and then you didn't want to be married anymore?"
How do you make a 5 year old understand that it was not her fault?
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.
Does anyone know the Amharic word for God, Lord, or Jesus?
Saturday, March 01, 2008
Choosing an agency that was Hague compliant and Hague approved was important to me, and is something that is and will continue to be very important in my international adoption journey. If you are considering IA, you need to check out this list.