Sunday, June 29, 2008

Big Sisters Are...

Yesterday Abigail went to a party with her babysitter (excuse me, big-girl sitter.) While there, she played with some other little girls who were sisters. Abigail told me that the big sister took care of the little sister and helped her play nicely. We talked about how she will be a big sister, and she will be able to help her little sister play nicely and teach her all sorts of new games. She thought about this a moment.

"Momma, I really just want to get my little sister, because then I can be a big sister. And big sisters are awesome."

Tankini

Abigail has a tankini that she wears to school on Fridays for Water Day. Normally, school is really good about putting on sunscreen and helping the kids change clothes after they play outside. This past Friday must have been a very unusual day for them...:)

First thing I noticed was that Abigail's bathing suit and her panties that she was to put on under her shorts were both in her school bag. That's right. She was commando under there. Nice.

I only noticed the second thing when it was time to give Abigail a shower. She had taken off her clothes to get ready, and she came into the bathroom where I was getting the water ready. She had a pink band of skin across her middle.

"What happened?" I asked.

"I don't know. Maybe my pants are too tight." Which I might have believed if I didn't see her back, which was very pink on her shoulders and the area that is exposed by her suit.

That's when I realized that Abigail got burned across her belly! Ouch!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Summertime

You know how Paul talks about how he doesn't do what he wants to do but does do what he doesn't want to do? That's today.

Today, what I want to do is eat ice cream and play in a sprinkler and blow bubbles and play with sparklers and live out all those promises I made when I was a child that started with that wonderful phrase, "when I am a grown up..."

But what am I actually doing? Studying and cleaning and eating salads and worrying about the extra 10 pounds that has settled onto my frame.

I'm not doing what I want to do, and I am doing what I don't want to do.

But perhaps a small compromise- ice cream after (a very healthy) dinner.

Attitude

Jess got me hooked on Rev Run's Words of Wisdom. I've never watched his show (hard to do with out a TV) and I don't know if I would want to watch his show. But I do enjoy his bit of good thoughts, delivered to my inbox Monday-Friday.



Today's Words of Wisdom are especially apropos:



In the Holy Bible the Apostle Paul speaks about readily adjusting your attitude towards ALL people, places and things... No matter how positive you are, everything is NOT going to go your way.. WE MUST be ready to make the most of every situation that comes our way. DO NOT let minor annoyances and problems ruin your day. The difference between happy positive people and unhappy negative people is the willingness to change and adjust our attitudes in any and every situation.... Have a positive day! :-)


I thought some of you might need that reminder at the end of a hard week.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

7,677

That's how many hits I've had on this site in 2 months. 17,480 since this blog began in October, 2007. I love you, readers!

One of the things that I worry about with these prolonged delays (and yes, this is trivial and stupid) is that I am going to become irrelevant. No one is going to read my blog. My waiting will become boring, and people will stop caring. Does that sound obnoxiously self-absorbed? Let me explain.

I have been blogging since September, 2005. Nearly 3 years. It is not so much that I want the world to know all of my business or that I am some sort of exhibitionist, because I'm not. But what I have realized, especially with this adoption blog, is that while I am a tiny, insignificant part of the world, blogging allows me to feel like I matter. As if, in some way, I am making a mark on the world. I am helping this world become a little smaller, a little more connected, a little more informed, a little more supportive. I feel like I am bringing a bit of lasting goodness into this world. And that makes me feel like no matter how small and insignificant my life is, I can make a difference, even if it is just to bring a smile or virtual hug to some reader that I don't even know about.

So as this delay continues, as my wait for a referral drags on, I worry that I will become irrelevant. That I will loose touch with what the majority of my readers think about and want to talk about. I worry that my longing for my daughter will turn into whining, and my readers will tune out because I will have nothing meaningful to add to their lives. (*Note, I worry about a lot of other things, too. Most of the other things I worry about are far more significant and important than this. But I am, by nature, a bit of a worrier.) And if this disconnect happens, I worry that my ability to leave a positive mark on the world will be diminished.

And then, there is this other part, too. Since I've gone from just a "blogger" to an "adoption blogger" I have found this incredible and unexpected support system. This community of bloggers, connected only by a bit of broadband cable and binary code, has become a life-vest in the times where my worry and sorrow have come in drowning floods. Never before have I felt so indebted to Al Gore for creating the Internet; this expression of the creativity and ingenuity that God has instilled in mankind has made this journey so much easier. "Shared joy is double joy, shared sorrow is half sorrow." This has proven so true, as I have shared the joys and sorrows of this journey, and the journey of others, through this digital reality of bloggerdom.

So, readers, thanks for joining in my journey. Thank you for supporting me, for doubling my joy, for halving my sorrows. I hope that I never become irrelevant to you, because you enrich my life so much. Here's to you, readers!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hi Lurkers!

Just a shout-out to the lurkers!

Also, BETH from AAI, who sent me an email today.... I have tried to reply to your email twice, but the message is apparently being blocked. Can you email me an alternative email address to send my response?

As always, I am happy to field your questions, readers. So even if you don't feel comfortable posting something here, feel free to email me at the address on the right. I promise, I don't bite!

Week 23


Someone once suggested that I not count the weeks of waiting that have occurred during the present delays. I thought about that for a while, and then decided that delays of all kinds are a part of the process of international adoption. Just because the cause of the delay has nothing to do with me, Sparrow, or my agency does not mean that the delay "shouldn't count." So I will continue to count these weeks. They are are part of the longing for my daughter that I want to chronicle. And they are a part of the preparation that the Lord is doing in my heart.

On Monday we had a conference call with Gladney and the Ethiopian process families. I learned a lot, and yes, most of my 17 questions were addressed (some of the items brought up by the Gladney staff were worded almost exactly as my question was phrased:) A reader asked what my "gut feeling" is.

Honestly, I wish I had a gut feeling. But the call left me realizing that there are still so many unknowns. That is part and parcel in the world of international adoption. I can either accept it, or not accept it, but I probably can't change it.

So, I accept it. I am working on redefining my expectations, which has been difficult. I now hope to have my little Sparrow home before Abigail's birthday (falls at Thanksgiving time) or Christmas at the latest. I know it may be sooner than that, and I am working on accepting that it may be later than that. And I am back to working on my list of benefits of post-court-closure travel. (Feel free to add to the list!)

Abigail asked when her sister would be home. For the first time, instead of answering "soon!" or "maybe at the end of the summer!" I told her that I honestly don't know.

"But you know who does know?" I asked her.

"Who?"

"God knows." And that was a big encouragement to both of us.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Really?

My friend (and Abigail's big-girl sitter) Kellie, recently announced that she is expecting! Abigail found out on Saturday when Kellie was watching her.

So we were driving to gymnastics tonight (which Abigail loves, by the way) and out of nowhere Abigail asks "Do you think that there is really a baby in Kellie's tummy?"

To which I responded in the affirmative, of course. She was a little bit hesitant to agree, but eventually decided that Kellie was probably not lying.

I wonder if her doubt about Kellie's baby has anything to do with the extended length of time it is taking for Abigail to get her own little sister?

Prayer Today!

It's time for weekly corporate prayer!


When: Today, June 24th 7:30-8:00 pm EST
Where: A quiet place, in your home, with friends, alone, anywhere!
How: I would like to specifically prayer for J. Scott Brown as he travels to Ethiopia this week. Additionally, please pray for the continued delays, as well as for the families who are waiting to be united with their children.



Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, "In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, 'Give me legal protection from my opponent.'

"For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, 'Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.'"

And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly.

Luke 18:1-8

Monday, June 23, 2008

First Question

Yupper, peeps. That was the Amazing G* who jumped right in and asked that first question about if there is any precedent for this type of situation.

Lots of good questions from everyone!

*One of the guys at work calls people "G" like "What up, G?" But he calls me "Amazing G." Get it?:)

17 Questions

We have a conference call today, with all the other court process and wait list Gladney families.

I will be totally honest. I have 17 written out questions that I intend to ask during this call. Overboard? Maybe. But besides being naturally curious (sometimes to my own detriment) I also use the acquisition of knowledge as one of my coping mechanisms.

I just forwarded the list to my case worker. Hopefully she will still let me participate in the call:)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Peace I Leave You

So, sometimes, I think my readers perceive my posts as whining. And then they leave comments or send me emails that are along the "suck it up" lines. I can understand why they might do that, as they often feel or express that my situation could be so much worse. And I agree, it could. There are a 1000 ways it could be worse. I am thankful that it's not.

But the thing is, just because the situation isn't as bad as it could be doesn't mean that it's easy or pleasurable. And while it's not as hard as what others have faced or are facing, it is a huge shift for me.

Having a large age range and being open to medical needs, I had never seriously considered that I might wait more than 5 months for my referral. I had never considered that I might not have my child home before court closure. It truly never occurred to me. And I don't think that was an unrealistic expectation, given my referral preferences and my wait list date. In fact, many people who have requested girls with a much more narrow age range have received their referrals.; it continues to boggle my mind that I have not.

I know that it will all happen in God's time, but what I am saying is that logically, mentally, I am facing a reality that I never even considered. This is the most difficult thing right now. This reorganization of my thought process. It's like telling me that gravity doesn't exist or that Abigail is not my daughter. Inconceivable! And that's my daily reality. I am slowly finding a way to wrap my mind around this, but it is slow-going.

So while we are all struggling and facing various difficulties, let's not diminish the suffering of others. Let's not put these hard times on a scale and rate them as "not so bad" and "much worse." Let's not pretend that the suffering of someone else should negate our own suffering. Rather let's be supportive. Let's know that this is all difficult, and seek to comfort each other. And let's turn to the Comforter of all souls.

"But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
John 14:26-27

Friday, June 20, 2008

No, Thanks.

Tonight, Abigail ate her dinner without stopping 200 times to do something else or tell a long story about nothing. In fact, she finished before John and I. Which never happens, since she is probably the slowest eater in the world. I attributed it to her being extra-hungry since she had played long and hard at summer camp, and then came home and played with the neighborhood kids until dinnertime.

After a quick discussion (read- me spelling key words while John looked at me blankly, then re-spelling them more slowly, and realizing that since Abigail can spell/read now, I really need to be more creative with the words I spell), John and I decided to surprise Abigail with a walk to the ice cream shop.

When we asked if she would like to go get ice cream, she actually turned us down! Can you believe it? She begs to go to the ice cream shop pretty much every night, and here I am offering, and she is all "nah, I am not really hungry for dessert."

She quickly followed that line with "but you guys can go get dessert and I can go play with my friends." Ah-ha! Now I understand!

We compromised; Abigail invited her friend Kiera and her family to go with us to the ice cream shop, which they agreed to do. We we got to stroll to the purple-shuttered shop and indulge in some yummy treats, and Abigail got to continue playing with her friend. And yes, they played all the way there, shared a hot fudge sundae with sprinkles and whipped cream, and then got completely grass stained while we finished up our yummies.

But let me tell you: when Abigail refused dessert, I about fell off my chair! Never thought I would hear that from her!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Waiting

God and I had a talk the other day. What I've come to realize is that none of this is a surprise to him. In fact, I would go so far as to say that none of this is hard for him, either.

20K for this adoption? That's nothing for the one who used a few loaves and fish to feed thousands.

Negative attitudes from strangers about the precious love I have for my daughter? Laughable, considering the suffering of Christ because of his love for us.

And the waiting? Oh, the waiting. God really knows about the waiting. The waiting He does, every day. He reveals his beauty in all of creation, and His love is the foundation for every hug, every smile, every whispered "I love you." And yet, we do not see His beauty; we do not know His love- we miss it, caught up in our own lives. He has created a world that offers only a taste of heaven, but what a sweet taste that is. And yet, this masterful chef is not given the credit for the delicious moments of life. Oh yes, He knows about waiting- about longing. That is how He spends His days. Waiting for us- longing for the crown of His creation to return to Him. How His arms ache to hold us. How he desires to have intimacy with us- to whisper secret sonnets to our broken hearts. How He wants us to be near to Him, to join him in the heavenly mansion He has prepared for us- to welcome us into our perfect home! Every day, all day, for thousands of years, He has longed for his children. Oh yes, he knows about the waiting.

My heart longs for my daughter. But how much more does the Author of Love long for us? So to those who wait, be encouraged. Your Father knows your heart, and he hears your prayers.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Week 22



22 weeks waiting to meet my daughter.



Sometimes, I feel like I am at the point where there is really nothing else to say. Just another whispered prayer.

Please, dear God, hold her close. Keep your eye on my Sparrow. Show her my motherly love in miraculous ways. Fill her heart with the peace and love of the perfect Father. And bring us together, the way you always intended us to be.

To help pass the time, please leave a comment with one of your fave links to something funny or uplifting! I could really use it:)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A: Unknown

Q: When will these delays be resolved?

A: Unknown

Q: How long will it take for the court families to get through court once the delays are resolved?

A: Unknown

Q: Will there be any way to expedite families who have been on hold in the court process?

A: Unknown

Q: For families who will receive referrals after the present delays are resolved, how long will it take to get them through the court process?

A: Unknown

Q: For families who are unable to pass court before closure, and for families who accept referrals during court closure, how long of a "backlog" will there be when court re-opens?

A: Unknown


And that about sums up what I know at this point- there are an awful lot of unknowns. For someone who does not deal well with the unknown and doesn't even like good surprises, this is very difficult.

Score! (Back Packs!)


Look what I scored for my girls! These backpacks were on clearance ($6/each) so I picked up 2. They should be just the right (small) size for toting on outings in Ethiopia- crayons, a role of TP, a small pack of hand wipes, a small bottle of sanitizer, a small toy, a snack, and a kiddy water bottle should fit well! I plan to let Abigail fill one with special things for her sister, and then surprise Abigail with one for herself when we get on the plane:) I am sneaky like that.
I am so excited!

Really Need Prayer

As we have for the past 2 weeks, today we will be setting aside a time for prayer and fasting over the court delays. Please join with us as we ask God to move strongly in this situation.

When: Today, June 17th 7:30-8:00 pm EST
Where: A quiet place, in your home, with friends, alone, anywhere!
How: Pray for my agency, Gladney, the families and children affected, and for a quick resolution. Pray for government officials, that God will be with them and give them wisdom. Please pray especially for the court process families and those who are "In the Window" on the wait list. For the families that have seen their child's face, how hard is this time of knowing them without being able to hold them. And for "window" families... our children are waiting for us, in Gladney's care center, without us. And as we get closer and closer to court closure, they are facing even longer waits to be united with their forever families.

"So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer."
Ezra 8:23

Monday, June 16, 2008

Curly Q

Last week Abigail got her hair trimmed. After her cut, the stylist curled her hair and put sparkles on it. Abigail was thrilled with the outcome:)


The stylist made sure that Abigail understood that the sparkles would come out when she washed her hair. She was bummed, but okay with that. What blew her away was when she learned that the curls would come out when she washed her hair! That one had her on the brink of tears:( She made me take lots of pictures to "remember" her curly hair, and I even promised that I would curl her hair one day.

The Closed Window



Today my referral window closes. 5 months of waiting for my daughter... it flew by, in a painfully slow manner. I will officially be a post-window referral.

John keeps reminding me that just because the window is closed, it doesn't mean I am not eligible for a referral- it simply means that I am that much closer to my referral.

Somehow, it just doesn't feel that way. At all.

So, to cheer me, I would like everyone to leave a comment with your best cow joke. Silly, crazy, fit for the mentation of a 4 year old? Perfect! Kind of off the wall and more of a "moan" than "laugh" joke? I like them all! (Well, maybe not like, but I do have a bit of a competition going on at work...) Made up or old standards, I'll take 'em!
For a movie of Abigail performing a few jokes including a cow joke that I made up, click here.
Guess this means I'm Mooooooving past the window! (harhar.)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Scaredy Squirrel

My friend gave Abigail a really great book: Scaredy Squirrel. This book is funny, and is such a favorite that she has it memorized.

Long story short, Doctor John and I told Abigail that she must be a Green Martian because only Green Martians are afraid of swimming and putting their head under the water (the Green Martian reference will make more sense if you read the book.) We have teased her about this for a few months.

Then, this past weekend, Abigail and I got to the pool a few times. And she went into the 3 foot water all by herself. And stuck her face in the water. And yelled "See, Momma! I am not a Green Martian!"

Friday, June 13, 2008

Bummer, bum, bum.

Tonight, Abigail and I packed a picnic dinner and headed to our complex's pool for dinner, but when we got there, the pool was unexpectedly closed! No idea why, but there was a note that the pool would re-open tomorrow at noon.

As we were heading back to the house, Abigail told me "that was a real bummer, Momma." I agreed, and smiled as she used one of my favorite words. We decided to have, as Abigail called it, a "bathing suit party" and watch a movie while eating our picnic dinner in our bathing suits on the guest room bed. Thrilling- especially when Abigail spilled chocolate milk on the bed spread (the one area that wasn't covered in bath towels- don't worry, it washed right out!)

When she finished eating, she laid down on her tummy to finish watching the movie. From my viewpoint, I had a view of her bathing suit-clad bum. Out of nowhere, memories flashed before my eyes, much more vibrant than the movie. Memories of her baby tush sticking in the air as she slept (naked due to a bad diaper rash), of her toddler tush running away from me as I chased her after her bath, of her 3 year old tush in the tights she had put on before putting on her undies.

How many more years will I see her tush and think of her baby bottom? I am sure that one day I will see her tush as she lays around in her bathing suit, and worry that some boy is looking at it, too. But for now, her tush remains that one part of her that is still full and round like she was as a baby, bringing those baby moments to the surface. Her baby bum.

I reached over and gave it a little pinch.

Friday the 13th.

Personally, I don't attach any significance to this date (although, in my line of work, I have noticed that the ER seems to get more traffic- and strange issues- on Friday the 13th. But I think for many of these patients, their illnesses are self-induced, either from stress, or from engaging in behaviors they would not engage in, simply because of the date. But I digress.)

So, I don't attach any significance to this date, but I know some do. At any rate, it is Friday! I am off today, the whole weekend, and Monday, so this is a nice, long, relaxing weekend for me.

And just to celebrate Friday (and hopefully some good news that involves families making it though court!) here is a little something you might enjoy:)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Discrimination

The events of the past few days have really gotten me thinking a lot about discrimination.

I think discrimination in this country has become a practice in subtly. We have laws that protect against blatant discrimination, yet discrimination continues. In most cases, it is very subtle. (Not that there aren't obvious cases!)

Discrimination can occur based on race, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, health status, socioeconomic status... In my life, I have only been on the receiving end of discrimination a few times, an only recently have I felt discrimination as an adult.

As a child, when I would experience discrimination, I would never know how to react; I would be hurt, frustrated, angry, and question what I was doing wrong. As an adult, with a much more firm sense of myself, my heritage, my abilities, I still feel torn when I experience discrimination. I am never sure how to react. I feel that I might be unprepared to face discrimination that is directed at my child.

I will be honest: often, when I see or experience discrimination, I kind of feel like "What's the point? Speaking up is not going to change anything. Why bother?" But as I wrote before, this adoption journey (which has made me much more aware of discrimination in this country) has lit a fire in me to "be a part of the solution" so to speak. To be the person I want my daughters to be- to boldly, but respectfully and logically, approach these problems head on. Not to mention, Momma Bear will not be happy if someone is picking on my Baby Bear!

Personally, in my little community I see more religious/socioeconomic status discrimination than anything else. As a matter of fact, as a community that attracts a high rate of international MDs/PhDs (and beyond), many of the most educated and well-to-do persons in our community are "non-traditional;" they are people of color and from all different nationalities. And yet, I can see how even they are recipients of religious discrimination from some of the "home grown" nurses and ancillary staff.

I feel it is so important to have a respect for all people- if for no other reason than they were created by God. This can be hard to do at times- very hard, depending on the person:) But this is what I want to teach my daughters: all people are given value by God- it's what they do with it that matters.

Anyway, all this to say:
How do you deal with discrimination when you are on the receiving end?
What do you do when you see discrimination occurring against someone else?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

10 lbs.

I have officially gained 10 pounds since this time last year, confirmed on the doctor's scale this morning.

But now, I officially have no excuse not to loose it! John put my elliptical together this morning:)

Thank you!

Wondering Where I Went?

Hey Gladney yahoo friends! Wondering where I went? Well, I was placed on moderation, without warning, over this post (which was deleted, so maybe you didn't get to see it.)

Apparently, discussing your dissatisfaction with someone's behavior is okay, as long as you are complaining that their behavior is offensive due to religious content. Complaining about someone's behavior is not okay if you are complaining that they are condescending and discriminating.

This is what the Moderator of the group considers "bashing." This is what I call expressing an opinion in an honest and respectful way- I also call this "calling it like I see it." Notice, I did not call names or use foul/inflammatory/offensive language. I just stated the ways in which I was dissatisfied.

This is why I can't be on the group anymore. It's why I went to the gladney_africa group. I can't handle someone who is so fundamentally flawed limiting my freedom of speech in whatever way fancies her. I hope all you Gladney families will join me on the gladney_africa group, where freedom of speech is a gift we freely enjoy.

Pincushion, Revisited

Remember when I was the human pincushion? This past week, Abigail and I both got our second Hep A shots. When I took Abigail to get her shot last night, she was very brave and didn't cry. Although, after she got her shot it did bleed quite a bit. She kept looking at the blood as the drop grew bigger and bigger.

"This is NOT what normally happens," she said, as I tried to keep from laughing. Once the bleeding stopped and a bandaid was put on, she gave me another good line,"It better not bleed again, because that is not normal!"

The cutest part was when she got to pick out a sticker afterwards. The receptionist was laying out the "girly" stickers. Abigail finally saw one she liked- a Polly Pocket who happened to be black. She stuck it proudly to her chest and proclaimed "I think this Polly Pocket looks like she is from Ethiopia. I think my sister will be beautiful like her!"

Week 21


21 weeks waiting to meet my daughter.
5 days until exiting The Window.
Hoping and praying.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Stumbled...

Stumbled across a blog comment that had evidently misunderstood some information that was posted on a blog. (Yes, the blog was probably mine, since me and my fingers have been very busy writing all sorts of stuff that I have since changed/taken down per Gladney request... :)

Anyway, to any who may stop by and be considering Gladney's Ethiopia program, please rest assured that their program is in no danger of closing!

They are still giving referrals, however, due to the delay in court cases, they have too many families in the court process to allow them to continue giving referrals at this time. There are 2 things that will need to happen for referrals to resume:

1- The situation causing delays in the court process needs to be resolved. A resolution is likely this week.
2- Some of the families presently in the court process (there are 34 right now!) need to pass court.

To my knowledge, there is only one person who acts as the legal representative for all Gladney court cases at this point in time. While that may change in the future, you can imagine that representing 34 families is a lot of work! They need to move some families through the court process in order to make room for more families to enter the court process.

Gladney is dependent on the humanitarian aid provided by traveling families to help support the care centers. Right now, they are in need of diapers, and there appears to be even a national shortage in Ethiopia of the brands that are available there. Gladney wants as many families as possible to be able to travel and pick up their children, not only so that these children can be in their forever family, but also because the traveling families serve a practical purpose in helping support the operations of the care center through their humanitarian aid, and help provide for the children who are still waiting in the care centers.

So rest assured, Gladney is processing families through court as quickly as they can, and will resume referrals as soon as they can.

And as a note, while I don't share everything I know in this public forum, I read every comment and try to respond via email to those requesting clarification. Please feel free to email me at yellow_grace at yahoo dot com if you have questions. I hope my blog is informative and helpful, not stress-inducing!

What is the Window?

I have had a request to clarify what I mean when I refer to the window.

When I went onto the wait list for my agency, the predicted that they would give me a referral within 3-5 months. That period, the 3-5 month mark in waiting (for me, it is April 16-June 16) is referred to as "The Window."

Some people are given referrals before they enter "The Window," and some are matched after they exit "The Window," but on the whole, Gladney gives most referrals within that 3-5 month time frame.

Sorry for not clarifying that sooner:)

Kind of Like a Date!



Last Friday, John and I went to the annual house staff dinner that is hosted by the medicine department to honor and recognize the medicine house staff. Since John is finishing residency and starting his fellowship at the end of this summer, he received a little "shout out."

It was fun to see all my co-workers dressed up and out of the hospital; sometimes, it can be easy to forget that we are all people, not just doctors and nurses. And, of course, I love any event where I can dress up and eat good food for free and not have to cook or clean!

Hope

Hope is most tangible in the morning, when the sun is rising and filling the warm air with haze. While flowers are waking up and rediscovering their purpose, and when bunnies hop along in the lush, dew-damp blades.
Then, when hope is real, I feel her silky feathers tickle my palms as I stretch and chase after her haphazard, jubilant flight. She sings a song, calling out to hearts, that today is a day for life! I follow her, sprinting and darting in her wake. Until I realize that hope is most tangible when I set her free to fly.
And then I fly with her.

Pray Today

Like last week, we have set today aside for prayer. Please join us!

Here are the details:

When: Tuesday, June 10rd 7:30-8:00 pm EST
Where: A quiet place, in your home, with friends, alone, anywhere!
How: Pray for my agency,Gladney, the families and children affected by the situation, the Ethiopian government, specifically the officials acting on behalf of the orphans, and all those involved. Additionally, please remember to thank God for the good news that we have already received! We know that He is working all things out for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose!


"And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive." Matthew 21:22

Monday, June 09, 2008

Things I Think

Hope is most tangible in the morning, when the sun is rising and filling the warm air with haze. While flowers are waking up and rediscovering their purpose, and when bunnies hop along in the lush, dew-damp blades.
Then, when hope is real, I feel her silky feathers tickle my palms as I stretch and chase after her haphazard, jubilant flight. She sings a song, calling out to hearts, that today is a day for life! I follow her, sprinting and darting in her wake. Until I realize that hope is most tangible when I set her free to fly.
And then I fly with her.

As good of a time as any.

Ever since reading Shasta's post about The Call, I have been a bit paranoid about getting my hair cut. I had not thought about it before then, but what if I did get "The Call" when I was in the middle of my hair cut? What would I do? Finish the cut and high-tail it home? Leave in the middle of the cut and hope they could fit me in later to finish it? Hijack their computer and have the whole salon witness the Ugly Cry as I see my daughter for the first time? What to do? What to do?

My solution? Just avoid getting my hair cut during The Window. Which was working, until about week 18. That's when things got a little hairy (pun intended. Harhar.)

Like the rest of my family, I have thick hair. It gets weighed down easily. The majority of my hair cut is spent thinning it out to make it manageable. It gets more full as it grows out, but eventually, it gets to the point where it is just plain bushy and unmanageable. Which is where we are now.

So I finally caved. Especially after the announcement of the delays in the court process (and subsequent delays in referrals.) So tomorrow at noon, I am getting my wild, bushy head of hair cut. (Did you read that, Jessica, oh lovely caseworker of mine who is *hopefully* bursting at the seams to give me a referral as soon as she gets the go-ahead from the in-country reps?) Yes, tomorrow at noon would be a bad time for me to get "The Call." Well, 12:20 would be worse- I am sure that would be right about half-way.

Note- not that I would be unhappy to get The Call. I would be elated, to be sure! However, I really have gotten past the point of wanting a hair cut and to the point of needing a hair cut. So any time after 12:45 EST would be a much better time for the call, okay? But if you can only fit me in at 12:09, that will work for me!

*Note 2- Do you think that by indicating that I don't want to get the call, reverse psychology will kick in, and Jessica will call just because I said not to? Stranger things have happened.

*Note 3- Please, please, please people- issue some opinions!

*Note 4- I am very happy for all the families who will be allowed to proceed. Kind of Jealappy, actually. But mostly happy. And I am praying for good news to continue, for the other families delayed by the situation to get the go-ahead to proceed in court, and for the other waiting families to start receiving referrals soon.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Delay Update

Yesterday Gladney updated the Ethiopian program families about the present delays. As with most things in life, there is an up-side and a not-so-up-side.

The good news is that MOWA has agreed to begin issuing opinions for some Gladney court process families, based on pre-determined criteria. They are committed to placing as many children into families as possible, and in light of the impending court closure, they have agreed that it is in the best interest of the children if they proceed with these court cases.

The not-so-great news is that the situation is continuing to delay the court process for some families. This delay is definitely a bummer, but again, MOWA does understand the desire to complete as many adoptions as possible before the court closure, and will begin issuing opinions for the affected families as soon as the situation is resolved.

The most personal aspect, for me, is that Gladney continues to hold off on making referrals until the outcome of the situation is resolved. This means my referral will be delayed. Depending on the length of the delays, when referrals resume, and the court process after I accept a referral, it is very possible that I will not be able to pick up my little girl until after the courts re-open in October. While I understand and agree with Gladney's decision, this is very disappointing. However, I do trust and have every confidence in them; they have my best at heart, as well as my daughter's. They are the experts, and if this is what they have determined the best step at this point, then so be it.

Guesses

I wanted to thank everyone for making your referral guesses. It was fun to see how excited you all are. As a reminder, here is the comprehensive list:

Linda- April 17
Nnenne- April 18
Chris and Jess- April 24
Jan- April 25
Meredith- April 27
Dan and Tiffany- April 28
M & R- April 29
Leslie- May 1
Haze- May 2
Jared and Amy- May 4
Teresa- May 12
Jennifer and Jody- May 15
Jan- May 16
Kristy- May 19
Faith- May 19
Heather- May 20
Teresa- May 22
Jodi- May 30
Christine- June 1
Faith, Again- June 6

Given the present uncertainties about when referrals will resume, I don't think I will re-open referral guesses for a third round. I just can't right now. But I do appreciate every guess and good wish:)

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Benefits

Since it looks more and more like I will not be traveling this summer, I am in need of some help.

I have, of course, thought of all of the negatives of traveling in October. Can you help me come up with some benefits?

Here is the list of benefits to October travel that I presently have:

1. My FMLA would encompass Thanksgiving, Abigail's birthday, my graduation, Abigail's winter break from school, Christmas, and New Years. Might even have my sister's birthday, if I play my cards right:)

2. I might get to travel with some fun people, like my friend Jen!

Um, yep, that's all I got. Help me out, people!

3. Cheaper airfare than summer travel (thanks jessica!)

4. Lots of potential to travel with cool people! (thanks rebecca
!)

5. Better weather! (thanks ANTME's Momma!)

6. Great weather and Ethiopian Holidays! (thanks Aimee!)

7. The countryside should be fresh and green, and there should not be rolling blackouts (or power rationing.) (thanks Christine!)

8. Major help in the child-managing arena if I get to travel with Jennifer and Jody- a stand-in granny is an awesome offer! (thanks Jennifer!)

9. One less week of Presidental Campaigning! (thanks Emy!)

Thursday, June 05, 2008

From Jealappy to Hope

Jessica recently coined a phrase: Jealappy.

As in slightly jealous of you, but still happy for you. You know, the way you feel when someone behind you on the wait list gets their referral. Somewhat jealous, but still so happy for them.

Sometimes, though, waiting makes the jealappy turn into more of a jeality. As in slightly jealous of the other person, and having a pity party for yourself. Most of the time, I can avoid that feeling. But sometimes, I am weak, and succumb to the "poor me, poor Sparrow, poor Abigail" line of thinking.

In those moments, and in the moments where jealappy becomes JEALappy (as in jealous>happy), I have to take a break. Get away from the adoption world, and focus on why I am adopting. I spend time with Abigail, remember what a precious gift she is, and refocus on what matters: that this has been God's plan all along, and he will be faithful to see it though.

"being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. " Phil. 1:6 (NIV)

I never want my adoption process to become one of comparison and jealousy. This is not a competition; getting your referral, a court date, a travel date- these are not things to compare to others. Because God knows the plans he has for them, and God knows the plans he has for me. And even though I can't always understand his plan, I know this: God's plan is good.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jer. 29:11

So, as you think about it, can you remember to say a prayer for me? Pray against a spirit of jealousy (which I have escaped, only by the grace of God) and pray that my love, gratitude, thankfulness, and joy will increase despite, or maybe because of, my present circumstances.

"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." Romans 5:3-5

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The rain won.

The rain fell softly, easing it's way into my consciousness. Pat, pat on the leaves, tang, tang on the gutter. I listened for a moment, calmed.

And then it began to rain harder- more steadily. I could almost hear the drops of rain growing bigger before bursting on the tree and balcony outside my door. The tinkle of Lily's bell as she ran back into the house told me something was up.

The wind picked up, and I could no longer hear the rain drops. Like the sound of a vacuum, the hum filled the air. I counted the number of breaths I took while the wind and rain fought to see who would dominate the nighttime sky. Thirteen times I breathed, in and out.

Then just like that, the sound of the angry hum was gone. The patting and tanging returned, and Lily's bell tinkled again as she ran back into the wet night, hoping to find a wayward bug to serve as her toy.

The rain won.

Week 20


20 weeks of waiting to meet my little girl. Who knows how much longer, due to the delays involved because of the present situation and delays.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the prayer time and fasting yesterday. The peace and comfort of the Holy Spirit are with me. Yesterday was such a blessing; one moment that sticks out was when a nurse put down everything to stop and pray with me. The love and support I feel from this adoption blogging community as well as my family, friends, and co-workers is encouraging and hope-filled. Please continue to pray- I know that our prayers are powerful and effective.

I found yesterday, as much as I prayed about the situation, that my heart was simply breaking for the children. Not just the children I know, not just the child that will be mine, but the children who are waiting for parents. The children in the orphanage, and the children who will come into the orphanage to take their place, waiting. God wants these children in families- it's been His plan all along.

God, hold these children close to your heart, until we can hold them close to ours.


T-minus 12 days until exiting The Window.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Prayer and Fasting

Today is the day we have set aside for prayer and fasting over the situation in Ethiopia and with the Gladney court process families.

I will be fasting from recreational use of the Internet, and will not be checking blogs, moderating comments, or checking email (unless, of course, I get my referral call... Have to keep hoping:)

Please join in prayer and fasting as you are able. Maybe you could fast during one meal, and rather than eating, spend that time in prayer? If that is not possible, please do join with us in prayer tonight, from 7:30-8:oopm EST.

I know that prayer is powerful and effective. Thank you for your prayers.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Founded Fears

Craig and Cindy just posted about the present state of some international adoption programs. Many (most) of these programs were forced to close due to the unethical nature of their adoption programs.

While I do not feel that Ethiopia is on this path, I do think that it is so important for anyone in the international adoption process, or anyone considering the international adoption process, to be aware of the ways in which you can help ensure that all activities taken on your behalf by your adoption agency are ethical. Learn about the agency you are considering; explore Hague accreditation and consider that as a guiding point as you choose an agency. Know what to expect during international adoption (which is pretty much unpredictable!) and moderate your own responses to make sure that you are doing what is in the best interest of the children.

We cannot ensure that everything that happens in the country we choose is ethical; we are not there, and we are not experiencing it first-hand. But we have the responsibility to do our part. If you are interested in learning more about ethical adoption practices and choosing an ethical adoption agency, there are many resources available. An easily-accessed resource is the Adoption Agency Research Yahoo Group.

I am so glad to be working with Gladney, whose reputation is unparalleled in the world of adoption, both domestic and international.

Our Favorite Orphan

Over the weekend, I was feeling pretty ill. Ugh. So Abigail and I spent a lot of time hanging out on the couch and cuddling. I got the chance to introduce her to one of my favorite orphans... Anne of Green Gables.

We actually watched Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Green Gables-The Sequel on YouTube. I loved the books (all 8 in the series) as a child, and still rank them among some of my all-time favorite reads (right up there with HP!)

Even though it is not at all based on the books, I might be forced into watching Anne of Green Gables- The Continuing Story. Just because I love Anne.

Rules

Abigail has been talking a lot about first grade. This will be a big transition for her, since she went to private kindergarten in the same building as her day care. She will be taking the bus to school, and for the first time, will "brown bag" her lunch. Big, exciting, and sometimes scary changes.



One of the things we were talking about is what to expect in first grade. Abigail seems a bit afraid of what first grade discipline will entail. I reminded her that as long as you follow the rules, you won't need discipline. And then we talked about what some of the rules might be.



Grace's suggestions for first grade rules:

~ Use an inside voice

~ Raise your hand

~ Be nice

~ Don't interrupt



Abigail's suggestions for first grade rules:

~ No poking in the eye

~ No smoking

~ No playing with fire

~ No bombs

~ No lighting candles

~ No punching

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Playing Doctor John

Kindergarten Graduation


The graduate.



This was the best one of us together.

May 30, 2008

Abigail and Ms. Barbara

Abigail and some friends.

I can't believe my baby just graduated from Kindergarten! She is seriously grown up now!

Call to Prayer (Updated)

As I wrote below, there is a situation that is causing all adoptions through my agency to be put on hold. The situation is expected to take at least one week to resolve, but could well take longer. The present delays are in the best interest of the children, and I am encouraged by this. At the same time, the delays feel awful right now, especially for the families who have see their children's faces and now are faced with the reality of waiting an indefinite amount of time to hold them.

Under circumstances like these, there is not much we can do. But we do know who is able to work all things out for the good of those who love him! The families from my agency have organized a time of prayer, and I hope that you will consider participating.

The details:
When: Tuesday, June 3rd 7:30-8:00 pm EST
Where: A quiet place, in your home, with friends, alone, anywhere!
How: Pray for my agency,Gladney, the families and children affected by the delays, and for a quick resolution to the situation.

What if I want to do more?:
You could commit to an entire day of prayer on Tuesday. You can even take it to the next level and fast on Tuesday. The fasting could be from food, but it could be from something else you routinely have/do. For example, if you choose to fast from food, when you feel hungry, you pray instead of eating. You can have liquids. After a day of fasting, you will have increased your time in prayer.You can invite your friends and family to join you in this prayer!

"The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." James 5:16 (NIV)


(UPDATE)
As you pray, please also pray for our adoption community. There are those who have over-reacted in a sensationalist and extremist (and frankly, paranoid) manner. They are seeking to over-excite and spread opinion as fact. They are not supporting or helping other adoptive parents, nor are they seeking to listen to and support my agency. They are divisive, and their unpredictable actions may put other adoptions at risk. Please pray also for this situation- there is no need to make this already undesirable situation any worse, but I am afraid that is what some are seeking to do.
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