Thursday, June 30, 2011

New House(s)

This is our new house.



Or, it was. For 2 days.

This is our other new house.



After the crazy rush of trying to find a house in Mississippi, we decided to lease in the area where we think we want to buy until we learned more about the community and decided for sure that this is where we wanted to live (the schools are a big thing, too. They seem good, but we have concerns about our children and their particular needs...)

We signed a lease back in March, before we even knew about #4. The house is a 3 BR, 2 BA with a nice backyard and more square feet than our home in PA. Not our dream house, but good enough for 6 months until we had a better feel for where exactly we wanted to live.

Then we found out about #4. Uhhh, and found out that our lease was set to expire 2 weeks after #4 was due.

Okay, we could still make this work. We would just have to get on the ball about finding a place to live- even if it was a bigger rental. We could do this. The timing wasn't ideal, but we would be okay. Besides, I think everyone looks forward to moving with a baby, just 6 months after moving across country. Just think of all the boxes I wouldn't even need to unpack!

So, fastforward to last week when we arrived in MS. I was stoked to have made good time on Monday, and we arrived at the house before our property manager. We got out and explored the huge back yard (keep in mind, we had never seen this house.) We talked about which side of the garage would be mine and which would be John's. When our manager got there, we went in and looked around, quickly divvying out the bedrooms - the smaller one for Abigail, the larger one for Anna and the baby.

And then our agent told us about another property he had that just became available- a 4 BR, 2.5 BA plus bonus room, in a nicer neighborhood that also had a pool and golf course. For just a bit more than our current rent. Were we interested? Um, yes!





So, long story short, we ended up changing our lease to the new house. Which is great, because the extra space is coming in all sorts of handy:) Plus, because the property became available due to an eviction (with some cosmetic damage to the house) we got brand new carpeting in the entire upstairs and a fresh cleaning before we moved in! Not to mention, fresh paint throughout is forthcoming, which I really love, as the previous occupants had made some very interesting color choices;)



Oh, and did I mention the new house has a Jacuzzi? Yeah. And most of the front and back yards are shaded. That's just awesomesauce.

Sometimes, God blesses us in ways we could never imagine.

Yay!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Road Trip: Photo Collage

Nothing tells a story better than a bunch of pictures taken through your windshield on your phone...

Leaving PA

Hello Maryland!

Hello West Virginia!

Um, this is Virginia. Hi.

Hello Tennessee!

Hello Georgia!

Hello Alabama!

Hello Mississippi!

Welcome to Mississippi!


Monday, June 27, 2011

Guest Post: Who can you trust?

I want to share another story from an adoptive mother who is struggling with the state of Ethiopian adoptions. Her children are legitimately orphans, and in were in need of a family. No problem, right? These are the kinds of cases where there shouldn't be cause for unethical or illegal practices because these were children who had a true need, right? Sadly, even in cases where children are truly in need of homes, an unhealthy system can introduce illness into what should be a healing process...


My husband and I are struggling greatly how to deal with all the feelings about adoption we have, now that we have gone through such a trying experience with our own adoption.  

Our children are wonderful, and their orphan status is legitimate.  It is the method in which our agency try to push through our adoption.  They tried to push it through under a lie and the embassy caught it.  Because of this we were stuck in Ethiopia for several months, sometimes wondering if our children would be taken away from us.  

We are thankful the truth came out, but now we are left feeling hurt and wounded by the people who were supposed to be entrusted with every aspect of our adoption.  We struggle with our feelings about adoption in Ethiopia.  

We believe whole-heartedly that so many children in Ethiopia need families.  But where does the "junk" stop?  Where is the line?  This is what we continue to struggle and fight with every day, because we ache for the true orphan, but are wounded by a twisted system that sometimes decided for itself who a true orphan is.

Notice, it was the embassy that caught the agency's lie. Not MOWA, not the courts. I can only speculate how it is that 2 "safety checks" set up within the Ethiopian system missed this fact, and only after the children were legally adopted did the embassy discover the agency's lie. Can you imagine the anguish of the children- after losing their first family, they must wait and wait to find out if their new family will really keep them, as they had been promised! Not to mention the fear, anxiety, and heartbreak of the adoptive parents!

This is not okay. This is not acceptable. This is not right or just. There is no justification for the agency's lie. None. And yet, don't you wonder how often it is that agencies do lie, just to "push through" their families? Or, more-so, why they lie? Why?

Friday, June 24, 2011

2 Must Reads

Sometimes, the hurt of unethical and illegal adoption practices are hard to imagine. You think, "well, the child is in a family that loves them, and while it wasn't the best situation, at least they are loved and taken care of..." The theory- the practices- they are wrong, sure. But the daily living-out of the consequences... well, that remains very vague.

But there is a reason that speaking out against unethical and illegal adoption practices is so important. It's not just because when we see wrong, when we see evil, and do nothing about it, we are "accessories to the crime." It's more than that. It's about the precious hearts of children.

I can't do this justice, so take 5 minutes and read these two posts:

Nightmares
For Little Hearts to Heal

These are real people... real children. They are victims of a big world where selfishness and greed are controlling their future. They are vulnerable. They are God's precious ones. We are the ones who can help them. It starts with our voice.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Temporary Change in Contact Info

While I am in the midst of moving to Mississippi and getting settled there, Rebecca has graciously agreed to maintain the FBI for me. You may email her at etlover10@gmail.com for updates to the FBI.

Thanks so much, Rebecca!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Guest Post: Our Adoption Story

The following is the story of one family and their child, all of whom were the victims of fraud and unethical practices in Ethiopian adoption.


We chose to adopt from Ethiopia for many reasons. We researched the agencies working in the country for almost 18 months. I talked to them all and interviewed families who had competed adoptions with them. We finally chose one with a fantastic reputation for both ethics and transparency in the process.

They told us that the need for adoptive families was huge. That families in Ethiopia were placing their children in orphanages with no idea what their lives would become. The level of desperation was high. No social safety net, poverty and disease landed children in government run orphanages. A lucky few might be referred to an agency placing children internationally. 

We were hoping to add a child to our family and children in Ethiopia needed families. It made sense. 

We started our paperwork. We were so excited. 18 months later we were presented with a referral for a healthy 3 year old. 3 months later we had passed court and were one our way to picking up our new child. 

We loved all the things our agency did to prove how ethical and transparent they were. We had a very moving meeting with our child's birth family. We were presented with a video made to show our child how their life looked with their first family. It was amazing. 

Time passed. Our child grew at a stunning rate. We knew early on that the age we had been told was not correct. That was easily explained by the agency as well. People in rural Ethiopia have no idea what their actual birth dates are. No one writes these things down. 

More time passes. Our child is thriving but is not quite there with regards to trust. We have all hit a wall an we are not sure how to move past it. 

We are presented with an opportunity to send a letter to our child's family. Our agency does not allow any such contact. We had started learning enough about our agency at this point to know that they are most likely covering themselves with this rule. Not thinking of the best interest of first families or children. 

We write the letter. The only specific question we ask is for a birthdate. 

What we get back brings us to our knees. 

Our agency went out and recruited our child from a very rural village. A very poor rural village with a high rate of malnutrition.  They offered the family the chance to send their child to the USA.

How many families in desperate situations will pass up an opportunity to give their children something they perceive will be better then what they have right then? So our child had their history completely destroyed. The birth date was changed. The written down, exact birthdate. 

One parent had to be dead to pass through the embassy. So one was listed as deceased. We were told our child had never even met this parent since they had died before our child was born. 

The birth family video that our agency used to prove their ethics was taken the same day that they recruited our child. Before any legal proceedings had taken place. The agency coached the family as to what needed to be said on the video. They went along with it. They had been told that was the only way their child would be able to go to America. 

So it all came out.The first family was relived that their child would no longer be brought up with lies. They felt terrible about it all. 

No wonder this sweet child did not trust us completely. We were liars. We had been telling them a story full of half truths and outright lies. 

Our child was actually 5 years old when they joined our family. Old enough to know their story

Our child was hurt. I cannot even adequately explain how hurt. It was terrible.

The embassy classifies cases like ours as benign fraud. I understand that they are not as bad as many cases that have passed through Ethiopia. For our child however it is not benign. It was far from it. 


I know someone from every single Ethiopian agency with this same story. Most agencies have many, many such accounts. Agencies creating orphans where one did not exist before to fill the demand placed on the system by prospective adoptive parents. We have all bought the line that agencies are separate from relinquishment. That is not true. We have all bought the line that children will wait forever in orphanages if we do not adopt them. Children will continue to wait in orphanages because they are not the children PAP's want. In addition many children like ours will be brought into the system who would have never been there without international adoption as an option. 

We need to demand better for the children of Ethiopia. No more lies. Clean up the system so that children who really do need families can find their way into them. No more children sacrificed for "the greater good"of other children. The issues are systemic and run deep. Our children have been treated as a commodity with no thought for the long term repercussions of fraud. With no thought of the long term repercussions on their hearts. 

I know many of you will automatically ask, "what agency is this? I want to make sure I am not using them!"

But that is missing the point. As my guest shared, she knows people from every agency who have found benign fraud in their child's story. 

The point is that unethical practices happen all the time. 

So, what do we do about it?

I'm working on that post, but I would love to hear your feedback and thoughts on the subject.

Monday, June 20, 2011

When Unethical Adoption Practices Hit Home

It's really easy for people to pretend that unethical adoption practices are uncommon. That in places like Ethiopia, where the need is so great, practices by most agencies must be primarily ethical, because who would need to be unethical in a land of 6 million orphans? That the practices by their agency clearly aren't unethical, just a different way of doing things than most agencies out there. And of course, there are those who just don't recognize unethical practices when they are staring them in the face... or they just don't care.

But the truth is, even in Ethiopian adoption, unethical practices happen. They happen without regard for the age, gender, and health/special needs status of the children. They happen without regard for whether an agency is "Christian" or not. They even happen in the most well-researched agencies out there.


So, why don't you hear about these unethical practices?


Often, it is because PAPs and APs are just plain scared to speak up! They are intimidated and threatened by agencies. They worry about their ability to adopt if they haven't yet, or their child, if they have completed the process. They get backlash from other PAPs/APs who yell and scream and accuse them of spreading malicious lies... harassment, even. Or, they simply don't want their child's mutilated history aired out for public viewing.

I have asked a few friends to share their story anonymously, because I believe that once you hear these stories, you are unable to approach adoption the same way. And I hope that you are unable to approach adoption agencies the same way. Tomorrow, I will share a story of loving, adoptive parents who discovered the worst in their agency and now have a story of caution for all those involved in the adoption process.

If you would be willing to share your story anonymously, please email me at yellow_grace AT yahoo DOT com.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Home is Beautiful

I have noticed is that when you learn to call a place "home" you find beauty in it--- even when others don't.

I love the gentle mountains of the Appalachian rim, the way the hazy air softens their features, so that they feel like an embrace rather than an obstacle. The greenest green against the greyest grey saluting the bluest blue of the open sky. This is the beauty of central Pennsylvania. The short, mild winters, the long springs and autumns, and the perfectly delicious summers. This I will miss.

Incredibly poetic for someone who has spent the day cleaning house for showings and clearing out the musty basement of a 60+ year old home, if I do say so myself.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Beginning

12 years of primary and secondary education
A 5 year undergrad degree in 3 years
4 years of medical school
A successful petition to ABIM to create a one-of-a-kind training program
2 years of residency
3 years of fellowship
A Master's, half a PhD, several publications and presentations
Not to mention a wedding, a wife, and 3.5 kids

And here we are. At the beginning.

Last night my husband attended his final DGIM Housestaff awards dinner at HMC. He received his "Nittany Lion." And he was honored with the award for Excellence in Research.

I could not be more proud of him, nor more excited to step into this next chapter of his journey... our journey. To be by his side, supporting him in ways only a wife can, using my skills and talents not only to make our family life enjoyable, but to assist him in his career, is also a reward for me.

Six years ago, it was seemed pretty risky to decide that you wanted to spend 5 years of your life training in medical informatics. It was a new field, undefined, and unsure of the future. And now, because of his dedication, passion, intelligence, and apparently a crystal-ball-like ability to see the potential in the field, John is the most well-trained person in the US doing the work he is doing.

I cannot wait to see what the next 5 years hold.

Congratulations, my love. You are my hero.

You can ignore this.

I'm taking Missy's advice and joining Technorati. This code sequence is part of that process. So, you can ignore this. KC6DU8VNXWNX 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

On Openness to Life (edited 6/16)

Oh my gosh, y'all, this evangelical Protestant has been studying parts of Catholic doctrine!

Yes, "openness to life" is a very interesting Catholic doctrine to me, one that God really started challenging me with during my pregnancy with JohnAndrew. If you are not familiar with the teachings, I really like the summary that Jen at Conversion Diary provided. I encourage you to read it, as it also is helpful in understanding the difference in Catholic teachings and the Quiverfull movement (like the Duggars.) Until I had studied it a bit, I really didn't understand the teaching, and how it differed from other religious teachings about procreation. So, here are some thoughts about the teachings on openness to life. Please keep in mind that I am neither a theologian, scholar, nor Catholic, and therefore, my understanding is limited. I welcome respectful dialog on the issue.

Disclaimer: Openness to life teachings are intimately intertwined with beliefs on human sexuality, marriage, and the sexual act. Therefore, to completely believe and endorse the Catholic teachings on openness to life, I think you have to completely believe and endorse the Catholic teachings about sexuality, marriage, etc, which I do not 100% buy into (another post for another time.) However, I think there are things about the Catholic teachings that can challenge us and cause us to dig deeper into the Word as we seek to discern the Lord's will for our lives.

Things I appreciate/agree with in Openness to Life teachings:

  • The Openness to Life teachings endorse the view of children as a gift from God. I don't think there is any doubt in my mind that children are a great reward from the Lord (Psalms 127:3-5, Genesis 33:5)
  • O2L teachings endorse the view of all children as perfectly-knit by the hand of God, even those with deformities/disabilities/atypical chromosomal makeup. (Isaiah 49:1, Jeremiah 1:5, Psalms 139:13-14)
  • O2L teachings endorse the view of fertility as a gift from God, over which HE has ultimate control (Hebrews 11:11, Genesis 25:21, Genesis 30:1-24)
  • O2L teachings do not endorse the view that infertility is a punishment from God, but rather an opportunity for the Lord to use you in other ways. (Luke 2:36-38, 2 Kings 11:1-21, Exodus 2:1-10, plus many other Biblical women who did not have children who were used mightily by God.)
  • O2L teachings affirm the sovereignty of God 
  • O2L teachings endorse the view of children not only as a gift, but as a means for the Lord to purify us, make us more like Him, and draw us nearer to Him as we depend on Him
  • O2L teachings affirm that our "default" setting should be to say "Yes" to God's will over our will
  • The practice of prayerfully discerning if the Lord is calling you to avoid pregnancy or be open to pregnancy during each cycle is a great practice in spiritual unity between spouses, which should be our goal in marriage.
  • The practice of NFP is a wonderful practice of submission to God's will and each other, as it calls for periods of mutual abstinence. This can also be a spiritual practice.
  • O2L teachings reinforce the sanctity of life teachings, and affirm the value of each human soul.
Areas where I disagree or don't understand Openness to Life teachings:
  • While this may not be the case for all Catholics, everything I have read about O2L has seemed to reserve adoption for those who are infertile (either from medical/unknown causes, or past the age of fertility), rather than viewing adoption as part of the mandate to care for orphans. Caring for orphans represents a call to service across the lifespan, including times of fertility for married couples. (***ETA: By "reserve for those who are infertile" what I mean is that the Church seems to view adoption as a last resort if you are unable/have health reasons why you should not conceive, rather than a view of adoption as equal to conceiving and birthing a child. I am not saying that I have ever felt the Church treated adopted children this way, but rather that they view the choice of adoption as secondary to the choice of conception- that conception should be the "default" and adoption is the "substitute." I fully believe that being open to life, in the way that is most honoring to God, is by being open to His leading and timing in growing your family, be it through birth, adoption, foster care, etc... meaning I think you can be very "Open to Life" and never give birth or even try to conceive. I don't think a family who has adopted 6 kids and never tried to conceive (is not known to be infertile) is less open to life than a family who births 6 kids. In fact, Openness to Life, to me, seems to also include being pro-life, supporting birthmothers who choose NOT to abort, and, if needed, supporting the adoption process for those who choose not to parent, and the foster process for children who are unable to remain with birthparents for whatever reason. It's a worldview that embraces the preciousness and sanctity of life, not just the process of bringing life into this world.
  • The practice of prayerfully discerning if the Lord is calling you to avoid pregnancy or be open to pregnancy during each cycle, and then practicing NFP accordingly does not seem any different than the practice of contraception, to me. Which is to say, if we believe God is sovereign and in control of our fertility, and then avoid the sexual act during times when conception is possible, are we negating God's sovereignty?  Of course not! God can still cause life to come forth during what should be infertile times (see also: Sarah who conceived at 90 years old, Elizabeth who was also past the age of conception and became pregnant, and my current pregnancy.) How, then, is this practice of avoiding intimacy during fertile times different than using contraception during fertile times? Does a condom, hormones, or even vasectomy/tubal ligation negate God's sovereignty? Certainly not! God can still cause life to come forth when contraception is in place (see also: my daughter Abigail.) This does not make sense to me. Either we believe God is in fact sovereign and in control of our fertility despite what we do or don't do, or we simply don't believe it.
  • O2L teachings endorse the view of the sexual act as being dual in purpose: unity and procreation. If either of those goals of the sexual act is purposefully avoided, it causes the sexual act to be morally wrong, and a sin (from what I understand.) I am unclear, then, on what the teachings are when people who may not be able to procreate (for instance, cancer survivors who are infertile due to treatment, those who are past the age of fertility, or women who have had a hysterectomy) engage in the sexual act, since, by nature, they are engaging in the sexual act without the possibility of procreation. Like I said, O2L teachings are intricately linked to teachings on sexuality and marriage, which is a post for another time. 
  • ***ETA: Whether the Church doctrines teach this or not, I am not sure, but it seems that the practice of being O2L seems more of a practice of "should we attempt to conceive a child this month or not?" rather than "we are open to God bringing forth life within the womb if that is His will this month." This is perhaps a fine line, but a distinction that I think is very important, at least to me. When I read Catholic bloggers writing about "trying for #__" I think that doesn't say "open to life" to me but more of a "trying to control my fertility" just as much as any birth control method is an attempt to control fertility. Just because one is used for conception, and one is used for contraception, both mindsets seem to reflect a human desire to be in control of fertility, rather than trust in God and openness to His will. In fact, those who are truly open to life, should, in my opinion, (and please don't flame me for this, because I am just making a point about theology!) be just as thankful to God for withholding pregnancy as they are for Him giving life, because whatever the outcome- pregnancy or not, if you are submitted fully to God's will and walking with Him daily in your life, you are in the best place possible for facing the future, whatever that future holds. And I think that is what the practice of being Open to Life should be leading you towards- full submission, even to the point of submitting the flesh- to God's will.***

Anyway, what do you think?

***Please don't take these statements as lacking compassion for those who struggle with infertility, because I only have compassion for that struggle, and the incredible heart-changes that must come along with that path. I am just trying to make a point about submission to God's will in terms of fertility, Openness to Life, family size, and how families are grown.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Unethical Practices Exposed: CCI

Would you know an unethical practice if you saw it occurring?

I have written about unethical practices taking place in Ethiopian adoption, and their contribution to the slow-down in IA from Ethiopia. Corruption and unethical practices can occur at many points in the adoption process, both from the US side and and among the peoples/agencies on the ground in Ethiopia. For many adoptive parents, though, these "unethical practices" seem very removed... something that would "never occur" in their agency. And, maybe that is true.

But I encourage you to read this post, which exposes some of the questionable and unethical practices occurring in Florida-based placing agency, Celebrate Children International. These unethical acts are occurring right in front of AP's noses--- the APs themselves are even blogging about them! And yet, CCI continues to operate in Ethiopia, and to my knowledge, is not even being investigated in the US.

Unethical and dishonest practices are occurring in Ethiopian adoption, whether it is in your agency or not- whether you see it or not. And the question that I pose remains this:


How many children must be trafficked or victimized by unethical practices... how many birthfamilies must be torn apart... how many adoptive parents must be lied to and cheated... before we all agree that these practices cannot continue, even if it means slowing down or stopping the IA process? Don't all members of the adoption triad deserve better than that?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Seed Adoption

Are you familiar with Seed Adoption? If not, you should be!

Seed Adoption is working to train and equip local churches in Ethiopia to respond to our Biblical mandate to care for orphans. I love these quotes from their site:
While international adoption from Ethiopia has increased in recent years, at the current rate it would take 5 million families, $125 billion, and 2,500 years to solve the Ethiopian orphan crisis.

Even with 19% of the population being evangelical and 14 million members attending 30,000 local churches across the nation (a movement that is growing by 8.5% every year), there is no significant practice of local adoption in Ethiopia. The primary solution embraced thus far by the local church has been limited to child sponsorship. There is a lack of awareness concerning the orphan crisis, a lack of appropriate working strategies and systems to address it, a shifting of responsibilities to governmental programs and NGOs, limited resources, and a lack of faithful integration between the message of the gospel and its outworking through the local church and into the lives of orphaned and vulnerable children. 

We believe that the gospel, when understood and applied, must work through the local church and in the lives of Christians to effect such change. Therefore, in order to help address the orphan crisis, the Seed Adoption training aims to create, maintain, and encourage a national conversation with the indigenous church.

Sound like something that you can get behind? Support Seed Adoption by clicking here!
 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Five Minute Friday: Backwards

Mary at Owlhaven just introduced me to the Gypsy Mama's Five minute Friday. Which I thought was a great little practice in writing... Gypsy Mama gives a prompt and you just write for 5 minutes- unplanned, unedited.

(And yes, it was also a great little distractor from my endless list of stuff to do for the move.)

This week's prompt is: Backwards


Becoming a mom through adoption felt a lot like going backwards. Not all the time, but sometimes. When things happen, and I’m not sure what is going on or why it’s happening… I know it’s because Anna lived 18 months of her life before I became her Momma, and that stuck with her. And that is okay, because it is what makes her Anna- it’s part of her life, her story.

But for me, the Momma, it sometimes feels like my abilities have taken a step backwards. I don’t know if it’s because with Abigail and now with JohnAndrew, I have been with them basically every moment since their births. I know things about them that they don’t realize themselves. I can tell you when Abigail needs to go to the bathroom before she realizes it herself. I can tell you when it’s time to put JohnAndrew down for his nap, even before he starts rubbing his eyes. It’s intuitive. I’m so in line with who they are. And while that instinct has developed for Anna, I sometimes feel like she is fighting against it… like my ability to forge that bond that is so deep – so primitive- has regressed.

Don’t get me wrong; bonding and attachment has never been a real concern in our family. I have long felt that because Anna was with her birthmother for 13 months, she knew {what a momma was and was ready for my Momma-love. But that deep knowing that develops over time- that represents a shared lifetime of knowledge- that isn’t there, not as strongly, at least. And it makes me feel like my Momma-skills are moving backwards.}

{Words in parenthesis written after time allotment.}

Want to participate? Just check out the Gypsy Mama post and link up!

In her own words: Reflections on sibling birth




I recently interviewed Abigail about being present at the birth of JohnAndrew last fall. We plan to allow Anna to be at the birth of the new baby this fall, and Abigail plans to be there, too. A lot of people question the wisdom of this decision, but I think that allowing my girls to see me being a woman in just the way God designed my body is one of the best and healthiest messages about sexuality that I can send them. And no, I don't think they will be scarred. But judge for yourself...

***Note: You probably will need to turn the volume way up on the video and your computer to hear Abigail. Sorry, not sure what happened with the sound.

7 Quick Takes- Moving Edition


1. The movers will be packing the house in 10 days, and loading it onto the truck the day after that. I am thisclose to becoming a Southerner, y'all.

2. I am trying to make the girls understand that all of the stuff they have "hidden" in their room and around the house should be found, sorted through, and packed now, because once the movers take our stuff, they won't really have a chance to take it with them. This is going so-so. Ideas?

3. I am not looking forward to the part where John and I have to pack up the 3 kids, 20 pound cat, and our 2 cars and drive from PA to MS. Not looking forward to it at all! Especially since our original plan to drive 5 hours Friday night during the evening/night might be botched up because John has to work that day and may even be on call. Ugh. Also, how do you entertain kids for that long on a road trip? What about the poor baby? I feel so bad for him, stuck facing the back of some seat, not even able to look out the window:( Poor thing.

4. We have not packed the basement. At all. We did get rid of some stuff, and have a lot more that we are giving away or tossing, but there is just a lot of other "stuff" that needs to be packed. And by "stuff," I am referring to things like John's ginormous wine-making kit. Because I think we are totally going to turn into the kind of people who make our own wine, don't you?

5. Anyway, the basement-packing is a John job. He is the one who has to go through the stuff and decide what will be done with it. So who will end up doing this job? Me. And the movers.

6. Movers are the best invention in the world. Ever. They are worth the bajillions of dollars we are paying them.

7. Did I mention the contract on our house fell through? Strangely enough, I feel so much less stress with having the house not sold, than I did while trying to make the deal with the neurotic weirdo buyers work. And since our Realtor told us we could sign a Power of Attorney so that John and I don't have to come to the closing, I am totally okay with it still being on the market. Slightly inconvenient when we have plans to work on packing or whatever and we get called for a showing, but that's okay.

Anyway, I am in need of some encouragement with the move (tell me it will all be okay!) and also ideas for this whole road-tripping with an 8 year old, 4 year old, and 8 month old. So lay it on me, peeps. What's your funniest moving story, words of advice, or best road trip tip?

Head on over to ConversionDiary to add your post or read other Seven Quick Takes. Thanks, Jen, for hosting!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

And again.

Today, my eldest daughter gained my last name, and my husband gained another child. For those of you keeping track, that is 3 kids in 10 months for him... as my momma says, he is a man of action! (And it will be 4 kids in 16 months when #4 arrives:)

Our fantastic lawyer who also completed Anna's US adoption worked with us through this step-parent adoption and the relinquishment by Abigail's birthfather. The process was surprisingly smooth, and we had a lovely day today. John's parents, grandparents, and aunt were able to join us, and we had the same judge that presided over Anna's adoption. He is just a fantastic man, and the look on his face when he realized we were expecting #4 was priceless. Of course, when I was testifying, he told us that he hoped to see us back for #5 and #6, and that he would even come down to Mississippi to perform the adoptions! The best moment, by far, was when I got to sit in the witness box and tell my husband "see, honey, we are now practically required by law to add a #5 and #6!"

L-R: Grandpa, Mimi holding JohnAndrew, the judge, John, great-grandma, great-grandpa, John's aunt, Grace+#4
Seated: Abigail, Anna

5.5 Showalters
Abigail was given a beautiful locket by her grandpa to welcome her to the family, engraved with her new initials. She was thrilled, and about jumped out of her skin with excitement.

Beautiful girl!

AGS

We let her chose a restaurant to go to for lunch, and she picked Texas Roadhouse (not your typical 8 year old choice, I think;) Unfortunately, they were not open until later, so her second choice was the Grand Buffet where she enjoyed sushi with Daddy:)

It is so nice for all of us to finally have the same last name!


This fell on another important date in our family calendar: my parent's anniversary. Happy anniversary! And here are a few photos from my mom's visit over Memorial Day weekend.


I had to take the minivan in for a repair at the dealership. Anna took the opportunity to "drive" the cars on display.

We had some tornado warnings and had to chill out in the basement the first night my mom was in town. Thankfully, she had some good snacks:)

In the basement. With my laptop:)

My mom brought this book for Abigail. She loved it.

JohnAndrew definitely takes after my side of the family. They have the same chin.
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