Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Guest Post: Why I Chose Not to Home School (For Now)

Today, my dear friend Moriah is sharing this space. I have known Moriah since high school, and watching her life blossom over the past 14 years has been amazing for me. Watching her parenting has been a huge inspiration to me as well. When she was deciding about home school vs. public school, I listened closely to her reasoning. I think she has a great perspective, and love that she is willing to share it here!

Trinity, Josh, Charis, Moriah, and Selah
Aren't they lovely?

I had heard about homeschoolers while growing up.  I automatically assumed that they all were socially awkward, from big, conservative families and had a wardrobe I would never be caught dead in.  It wasn't until I was in my later teen years that I started to change my opinions on homeschoolers.  And that change came in the form of my then boyfriend, now husband, Josh.

Josh was home schooled and loved the experience.  He did the school work at his own pace - rather quickly compared to the boredom I was experiencing in my classes at a private Christian school.  He took classes at the local community college, getting credit for high school and college, and he finished high school a semester early.  He even had time in the afternoons for a part-time job, so he always had ample funds for our dates, saving for college and whatever else he wanted.  I was pretty envious of the set up he had with home schooling.  I enjoyed my time at my Christian school, but I could see the many benefits of being home schooled.

Fast forward ten years and Josh and I are considering schooling for our oldest daughter, Charis.  We always said that if we decided to home school it would be based on these two things:
  1. The school system where we would be sending our children - this includes not only the education, but also the social/economical environment our children would be in
  2. The child's ability to do well in a public school environment - this includes whether the child can keep up or be challenged in the setting they are in, and also whether our child would cave to peer pressure and other influences that we do not encourage in our home

If either of these two factors changed over the course of our children's education we would readdress whether we should home school or not.

When the initial discussions started we lived in St. Charles, IL, a city well known for its excellent schools.  We had no fear of Charis getting a sub-par education there.  We also were good friends with the superintendent of the school district.  He was one of the elders at our church.  We respected his vision and knew that the school district Charis would go to would not be introducing ideas we did not support.

Our second consideration was Charis herself.  She is a very typical first born: outgoing, social, analytical and very intelligent.  She seemed to be a leader when she was with her friends, and being that she was only entering kindergarten,  we did not think those unhealthy social influences would be manipulating her yet.
So we were prepared to send her to public school.  However, the spring before Charis would start kindergarten, God decided to move our family to Charleston, IL, where Josh took a job as an Associate Pastor over worship and youth.  We now had to reevaluate what schooling Charis would have in the fall.  The school system was still good and Charis was still her outgoing self, insanely excited about starting school.  So all seemed ready for public school.  But we soon saw that by coming to this community we had new pressures for whether we should home school or not. 

On one side, the Pastor and his wife had home schooled all six of their children.  She loves home schooling, and it is her passion.  There are a couple of other home schooled families in our small church also.  They have never made me feel like I need to home school, but I sometimes felt inferior because I wasn't planning on home schooling Charis.

Now on the other side, Charleston is a college town, home of Eastern Illinois University.  So that means we have many professors in our congregation.  And not only professors, students that stayed in Charleston after they graduated and became teachers in the local public schools.  Add to all of this that Charleston is a small, remote community.  Everyone attends the football games on Friday nights.  Everyone goes and sees the spring play.  Everyone is very involved in the school system somehow - from being a librarian at the college, to a secretary at the middle school and even a principal at the junior high.  We felt that if we decided to home school Charis we would miss out on building important relationships with others in the community that might even turn into opportunities to share our faith.

On a completely different plane, I was trying to wrap my mind around how I might home school Charis with her two younger sisters at home (Selah, age 3 and Trinity, age 1).  When  was I going to have the time, the focused time, to teach her all that she needed to learn in kindergarten?  How was I supposed to give her the undivided attention she needed to learn how to read?  I knew I would have very well-meaning and interested little ones crawling all over us, or fighting in another room.

With all of these factors swirling in our minds, Josh and I decided to send Charis to public school.  She loves it and is learning a lot.  I think it good also, but I do have my hesitations.  There are definitely outside influences that I don't enjoy, and we have had many conversations with her already about how we do things differently in our home than her friends might.  She seems to understand, and we believe she is believing and acting how we want her to.  

But all of this we have to lay in God's hands.  He is in control of all things, including our daughter's education and friendships.  He wants us to be in the world, not of it (John 17:15).  So for right now, I am not home schooling.  But I have not ruled it out.

Monday, November 28, 2011

New Arrival!


Avangeline Elaine Joy Showalter
"Ava Joy"
November 25, 2011
12:50 am
6 pounds 2 ounces
19.5 inches

All three of her older siblings were able to be present at her birth! Momma and Ava Joy were doing so well we got be be discharged a whole day early. More details and her birth story will be coming soon... but posting will be light for a while:) We are enjoying being a family of 6. Even though she's only been in our family a few days, I can't imagine life without her.

(Congratulations to Eryka on guessing the date!)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tami Chappel for The New York Times, 2004. Source

Wishing you and yours a peaceful time to remember and express your thankfulness for all the blessings in your life. I know this year I am feeling particularly blessed.

Like I did at Halloween, I am making an donation this Thanksgiving for food relief in the Horn of Africa, this time for the amount of our turkey (and ham. Because we eat both at Thanksgiving. Because most of us don't like turkey.) The needs remain urgent. Will you consider doing the same?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Birthday Abigail!

Today, my eldest daughter turns 9!

How is this possible?

Abigail is such a lovely young lady.

She is smart. Really smart. Like genius level smart. Her brain works in unusual ways, but man, she blows me away sometimes with what she comes up with.

She has a great sense of humor and loves to laugh. When she was a baby, she used to look around and say "laugh with me!" She would start laughing and expect that everyone around her would join in... even if there wasn't anything "funny" happening. She still loves to make people laugh.

She is so maternal. She is a phenomenal big sister and so kind to her siblings. She is gentle. She hates to see them upset or crying... to the point that she lets them walk all over her (literally and figuratively.) She is a wonderful helper to me.

She is an artist. She loves to express herself through art, and she joined an art club this year. Learning different methods and mediums has been a wonderful opportunity for her, and she is growing so much as an artist.

Abigail is not a natural born athlete, but she is learning about hard work and dedication in taekwondo. She is proud of the progress she is making and continues to work hard to advance in her discipline.

I am so blessed that God gave me this daughter when He did... she literally changed my life in so many ways, and I would not be where I am today if she had not come into my life when she did and in the way she did.

Happy birthday sweet girl. We love you.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Even Wrestling Alligators Hasn't Put Me Into Labor

This baby needs to come out now. I am thankful that #4 didn't come too soon, but I have actually never lasted this long in a pregnancy before, and I am not really into breaking records. Come on little one! It's rather pleasant out here!

At the Jackson Zoo. Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011.

I'll be honest: I kind of have a low tolerance for being touched. I am not a cuddler. I am not naturally inclined to enjoy a spontaneous hug from even my children or husband, let alone friends and acquaintances. I have to remind myself to make sure I have hugged my kids every day. I build a bedtime kiss into the kids' nighttime routine, and a morning and evening kiss into John and my routine, just to make sure that it happens. Don't get me wrong- I tell my kids and husband that I love them all the time, but I just don't do the physical touch thing so well.

Add to that the discomfort of pregnancy, and I just really, really, really don't want to be touched. Like, by anyone. Hence the following conversation (warning: this may be TMI):

John: Sneak attack! (kisses me)
Me: (scowling) Whatever, dude.
John: What's up with you?
Me: Well, I just really don't want to be touched right now.
John: Why not?
Me: Dude, get a vasectomy, and then let me know if you want me to be touching all over you.
John: (looks at me incredulously) Why else would I get a vasectomy, if not so that you would touch me?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Transracial Adoption, Socialization, and Self Esteem

As Anna has gotten older, the issues of racial identity and racism have become more important to me. Partially because she has become more aware of herself, race, and racial differences. Partially because I realize, from time to time, that so much of my parenting seems to focus on just getting through the day, and so little focuses on helping my children (all of them) build strong identities. And partially because we have recently moved to an area where this happened miles from where we live... talk about "hitting home."

Anna with 5 racially diverse dolls.
We donated 10 dolls (5 boys, 5 girls) to her school this year.
The older Anna gets, the more I realize that while I may view her as Ethiopian first (her ethnic heritage), those who do not personally know us view her, first and foremost, as black (her race.) Whether we like it or not- whether we agree with it or not- our children are judged every day on their appearance. Race is easily distinguishable, and so they are judged based on their race. Helping her not only understand her race, but to find a strong sense of self in her race, not just in her ethnicity, is my job as her parent. Unfortunately, because I am white, and always have been and always will be, I am totally unprepared to help her understand her race and/or black culture.

I may have mentioned this here before, and perhaps not, but living in the Jackson, MS area has highlighted to me just how segregated this community is. If you look at the population of Jackson as a whole, it's roughly 70% black and 30% non-black (27% white, 3% other races.) Yet, I challenge anyone to find a church, fitness center, daycare, school, or business in this area that reflects this racial make-up. So far, the best we have found is at our Tae Kwon Do classes, which are about 45% black, 45% white, and 10% other races (including Asian, Latino and bi/multi-racial.)

Yet, despite these obvious (and really, racial make-up of a group is fairly obvious) indicators of continued segregation, very few of the white people I know seem to think it is an issue. I met a man at a party who told me in a loud voice "oh, there's no racism left in Mississippi. You can walk into Mama Hamil's and see black families and white families sitting right next to each other." To me, that emphasized not the lack of racism, but the prevalence of segregation. You see, the families aren't sitting together- talking together- having a relationship with each other. They are sitting next to each other, but doing their own thing. Being in close proximity to each other does not mean interacting.

This describes exactly the mentality of parents at Tak Kwon Do. We all (well, not me anymore since I'm not allowed out of the house) sit in the lobby, in close proximity, watching our kids on the mat, and smiling at our other children who are playing or eating their snacks. But it's the white moms talking to the white moms, and the black moms talking to the black moms.

And yet, despite this segregation, it is necessary for me to reach out and form relationships with families and individuals who will be able to help Anna develop a healthy sense of racial identity. Is imperative. As this recent article about transracial adoptees states:
We also have to face up to the fact that merely living in a racially diverse community is not enough.  We must help our children connect with adults of color, and we must recognize that our children need to see us doing the same. 
So the question, for us, is how do we do that? Obviously, while stuck at home on bedrest, it's not something I can make happen. But merely "showing" black people to Anna through shopping at stores with a diverse population and diverse employees is not enough. Even attending a diverse church or athletics class is not enough. It comes down to building relationships (admittedly, a weakness of mine.) It takes time. It takes perseverance. It take sensitivity to the racial history of this area, and the fact that what I am suggesting is outside of the cultural and societal norms for this area.

How are you doing this in your hometown? What works? What doesn't?

P.S. Here is a great radio show about how transracially adopted children navigate race, including the importance of racial and cultural identity.

Listen to internet radio with Creating a Family on Blog Talk Radio

Friday, November 18, 2011

38 Week Bumpdate

Yesterday I saw my (regular!) OB for a check up. No changes in the cervix... still measuring 3cm dilated and 80-90% effaced. The baby's heartbeat was in the 140s, and basically everything looked perfect. My weight is 2 pounds less than it was at this point with JA.

And really, that's all there is to say!

Oh, pictures?

Okay, I guess...


On the left is a shot from yesterday at 37 weeks and 6 days. The right is a shot from last year on October 16, 2010 at exactly 38 weeks for my pregnancy with JA. My sister keeps saying I look "so much smaller" but I think it's about the same.


See- I think it's about the same! What do you think?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What kills 1 in 8 Afghan women?

My husband loves me. I know because he invites me to lunches at his hospital about solutions to global health disparities and he forwards me links about really interesting stuff... like this.

According to the World Health Organization, in developing countries, pregnancy and childbirth complications are the leading cause of death among women in their reproductive years. In the developed world, one out of 4,300 women will die as a consequence of pregnancy.That number is one in 31 in sub-Saharan Africa, and a staggering one out of eight women dies giving birth in Afghanistan. The real tragedy is the fact that one-third of these deaths could be prevented if women had access to voluntary family planning.

Now, whatever your view of Ted Turner or the UN even the Guttmacher Institute, one thing is for certain: improving the lives of mothers through education, healthcare, and women's rights/equality is in the best interest of children. In fact, it is probably the most important intervention  we can make in the quest for ethical adoptions. Because it is preventative... and what's that they say? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Improving care and increasing opportunities for women reduces the number of children who are orphaned through the death of a parent/parents, and reduces the number of children who are placed for adoption due to poverty or other social ills. Additionally, while it is not mentioned in the article, improving the lives of women helps other vulnerable populations (such as the elderly) since women are most often the primary, or only, caregivers of these vulnerable individuals in un/underdeveloped nations.

What are your favorite ways to assist women to get the health care and educational opportunities they need?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What would you do if...

Maybe it's because we are about to add our fourth child to the family and I could just imagine this happening to me on some harried day while running the never-ending errands that seem always carry over into nap time.

Or maybe it's because it's just that awful.

But this just shocked me. Well, up until I read about this. After that, it was not quite so shocking.

(Please go read. It's not long.)

I cannot imagine what would posses a person to believe it was "okay" to approach a stranger and ask if they could adopt their baby?


Wait, actually, I can. I can totally imagine why a person might think it was okay to just ask for someone's baby. It's the same reasons that people participate in unethical adoption practices, whine about hold-ups with investigations or other procedures to insure transparent/legal/ethical adoptions, and ignore the bigger-picture need for family preservation and social change as the solution to the "orphan crisis." I think it can be summed up in 3 major thoughts that people can allow to consume them when considering adoption:

  • I/my loved one(s) deserves a baby
  • I/my loved one(s) would be a better parent/family than the birth family (because of having better "parenting skills", more financial resources, being located in the US instead of a developing nation, holding certain religious beliefs, being married, being white, not having other children to "distract" from the care of the baby, having an established career, being over a certain age, etc)
  • I/my loved one(s) desire to adopt is more important than the loss a child who is placed for adoption will experience, and the losses of the birth family

Now, I get that many parents who are waiting to adopt can feel a sense of desperation. If they are looking for a healthy, white, infant domestic placement, the process can be filled with rejections and endless unknowns in the timeline. If they are in an international program, the unknowns can be significant, and the expected timeline can change in an instant, without warning. I truly do understand how absolutely zany that could make a potential adoptive parent.

But no matter how crazy the situation is, no matter how much a PAP may feel that they are at the end of their rope, it doesn't make soliciting a baby okay. In fact, that is actually illegal, not to mention unethical. More importantly, PAPs/APs are completely out of line when we buy into the type of thoughts I mention above that lead to these totally inappropriate statements.

Reality check:

  • We don't deserve to be parents. Whether our children come to us through birth or adoption, they are a blessing, a completely undeserved gift. The mindset that we "deserve" to be parents is encouraged in this society... I mean, we deserve a nice house, a stable job, a good income, a good-looking spouse, perfectly healthy children, happiness, wealth, luxury, the American Dream.... right? Don't you deserve all those things? No? Oh, you're right. We may work hard and earn those things, we may even have some of those things fall into our laps quite unexpectedly. But we don't deserve them. They are gifts, blessings.
  • Just because we have more money, more years of experience, a more "stable" life, or more opportunities for education/social advancement/etc does not mean we are "better" parents.* What makes a "better" parent? What give us the right to judge that we are "better" than the birth family? You know what? At the end of the day, we are all human. We all are going to mess up, and even if we provide our kids with the best of everything this world has to offer, it doesn't mean that they are going to be happier, healthier, more fulfilled, more loving, more anything than a child who is not afforded the same resources/opportunities. Our ability to provide for a child does not make us "better"- it just makes us more affluent/older/more educated or whatever it is. 
  • How can we tell if the great losses that accompany adoption are of less importance than the great gains of adoption? It's understandable that there are children who must be adopted because of circumstances outside of their control: death of parents, relinquishment, abandonment. But those circumstances cannot be solicited by a PAP in the hopes of fulfilling the dreams/wishes of the PAP at the expense of a great loss to the child. To ignore the fact that adoption inherently causes loss/grief/trauma to the child, or to minimize the loss/grief/trauma because of our own (selfish) desires is the epitome of bad parenting. 

It's been several days since I first read the blogger's account, and I still cannot wrap my head around it. I can grant you that maybe the woman asking for the baby was not a PAP herself, but rather a friend or parent of someone looking to adopt. Maybe she was drunk or was so desperate for her loved ones that she totally lost sight of right and wrong. Maybe she just has no filter. But whatever those particular circumstances were, what  I do believe is that this is not the first nor last time something like this will happen to a pregnant woman or new parent. It's not the first or last time that thought has gone through someone's mind. And certainly, that woman was not the first or last PAP to feel a sense of entitlement to someone else's child.

* I'm not including children who have been victims of abuse in this statement. Clearly, if you repeatedly abuse/harm your child, you aren't fit to parent them- at least, not without some major help/intervention/life changes- and a loving parent would be a "better" parent in this situation.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

AnnaCam, The Prequel

I shared some photos that Anna took using my iPhone last month. Then, when I downloaded all of John's photos earlier this month, I came across a series of shots she had taken in March of this year (shortly after The Accident.) I think her camera skills have really improved in just a few short months!

I think this is a tissue. On the couch.

She's getting there:)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Breastfeeding Causes Abortions (Part 3)


I cannot end this series without giving due consideration to the claim that birth control pills are abortificiant in nature. While there are lots of things I personally think and believe about this issue, the most accurate way I have to describe them would come from the reading I have done through the website of the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians & Gynecologists.

According to their position statement about BCPs

At the current time, we feel that each individual physician should evaluate the available information, and then follow the leading of his/her conscience in this matter.
Why does this controversy exist? Why is there not a consensus on this issue in our organization, or in the larger pro-life community?
In short, it is because our current scientific tools limit us. In the case of a surgical abortion we can directly attribute the death of an embryo or fetus to a suction dilatation and curettage of the pregnant uterus. With the administration of mifepristone (RU486) or methotrexate in an early gestation we can easily recognize the causal link with death by biologic plausibility coupled with the overwhelming statistical association with observed embryonic death. No one disputes these conclusions.
On the other hand, the methods available to us to evaluate the in vivo processes of human fertilization, tubal transport and implantation are relatively crude. We are not currently sophisticated enough to evaluate oral contraceptives (or even IUDs) for a possible effect on the pre-implantation human being in the same rigorous fashion that we can evaluate the effects of a suction dilatation and curettage, mifepristone or methotrexate on an implanted human being.
Thus we find ourselves in a situation where speculation, deduction, and educated guessing must be employed. There are times when our knowledge of the truth is incomplete, and we must peer through the fog to make, and act upon, judgments about the information available to us. In these settings, individuals wholeheartedly committed to the truth can come to different conclusions. So it is with us.

Accessed 10/20/11, emphasis mine
I encourage you to read the full position statement and supporting research documents to draw your own conclusions about BCPs. Personally, after reading and researching, I do not believe that BCPs cause abortions. However, and more importantly, I firmly believe that God is the Author of all life and has the ability to open and close the womb; as such, He has significantly more power over conception than any human action.

With that in mind, I want to remind you that I do not condone the use of artificial hormones. The risks of artificial hormones (in any capacity) are significant and should not be minimized in considering both the short term and long term effects of treatment.

Further, I want to point out the position statement of the AAPLOG with regard to IUDs. Many Christians have been led to believe that IUDs are abortive in nature. However, according to the research (and as noted in the position statement about BCPs above), we simply do not have the technology to confirm or refute this claim. We do know that under perfect-use conditions, BCPs result in significantly fewer pregnancies than non-hormonal IUDs.... Women with a non-hormonal IUD are twice as likely to become pregnant as a woman on BCPs (under perfect use conditions. It is important to note that perfect use and typical use are very different- it is much easier to achieve near-perfect use for an IUD than for BCPs, simply because an IUD is a passive contraception, whereas BCPs are active contraception that require not only a woman's will but also finances, access to a pharmacy, interactions with antibiotics and other medications, etc...)

Along these same lines, I do not believe that breastfeeding does, in fact, cause abortions. Neither do I believe that the medical conditions, medications, and treatments I listed in my first post cause abortions. I do believe it is wise to prayerfully consider whether attempting to conceive is prudent if you suffer from one of these medical conditions or need to use certain medications/treatments, just as you would strongly consider the wisdom of becoming pregnant if suffering from a medical condition that would place the mother at risk.

Which is all to say: I cannot decide for you if BCPs cause abortion any more than I can decide for you if breastfeeding causes abortion. However, I do not believe either are ethically wrong.

What do you think?

Friday, November 11, 2011

7 Quick Takes- John's Phone Photos, 2010 Edition

Like last week, I wanted to share some more photos that I found on John's phone (he got his phone in September, 2010)... It's so strange to look back at these pictures- most of them about 1 year old- and see how much we have changed in just one year!

October, 2010
 5 days old. So tiny.

October, 2010

At the Halloween Parade- waiting for Abigail to march past...

December, 2010

December, 2010
 This dress is laughably short on Abigail now, despite the fact that it was well past her knees 11 months ago...

December, 2010
 I am not sure why Anna was so forlorn on the Santa train.

December 2010
A Lego knight. And Abigail doing.... uh, something.

December, 2010
At Legoland in Schaumburg, IL. Which both of the girls loved, BTW.

As always, thanks to Jen for hosting. Do your own 7 Quick Takes and link up over here!

Thursday, November 10, 2011


It seems we are turning into a Taekwondo family. 

It started when I signed Anna up for TKD through school. She was just going to do a Wednesday afternoon lesson once a week, right at school. She would get the benefit of trying out martial arts while not creating any extra running around for me. I'll admit, we were hoping that it would channel some of her aggression energy, and it seemed better than the other activity she was interested in (hockey- because she wanted to "hit people with sticks." Ahem.)

Then we decided that TKD would be a great activity for Abigail as well. We like that it taught not only the physical discipline needed for the sport, but also reinforced the mental discipline and character development that we are trying to promote in our kids. Abigail was skeptical, at first. But quickly grew to love it. 

In October, both girls tested for their first belt and passed! 

Anna's class (Tiger Cubs) preparing to belt-test. October, 2011

Abigail's class preparing to belt-test. October, 2011.

That's when this happened:

We now have a family membership to our TKD gym which allows us to attend unlimited classes per week. The girls have 3 classes each per week, and John tries to make it to 2-3 per week (more when his work schedule allows.) He wants me to start taking classes, too... but who will watch the babies? Although, it is nice to have a "family" activity that we can all do together! 

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Breastfeeding Causes Abortions (Part 2)

Alternatively Entitled:
Why the pro-life movement has missed the point

In my first post, I shared my conclusion that extremists in the pro-life movement who are arguing about birth control pills causing abortion are not actually "pro-life" so much as "anti-abortion." Because really, if BCPs cause abortion, so does breastfeeding. And to my knowledge, the pro-life movement is not about keeping women from breastfeeding at all!

In fact, here is how I think most people* in the pro-life movement view themselves and their cause:


See that big group of diverse men and women? They are a support group, so to speak. And right in the middle of their group, right in the place where the maximum support and resources are offered.... that is where they place a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy.

See, they are all about supporting this woman. They want to help her make good choices that respect the life of her baby. They believe, in the words of Jeannie W. French, founder of the National Women's Coalition for life, that "the answer to a crisis pregnancy is to eliminate the crisis, not the child." So that's what they do. They offer support to this woman to maintain her pregnancy. They remove the immediate crisis. They come up with a plan for her and her unborn baby. They are problem-solvers.

Or, at least, that is how they see themselves.

Now I want to tell you about how I think the pro-life movement should be aiming to view itself. I say should, because while there are a few individuals who may be doing these things already, the majority aren't... the majority aren't even considering it! The majority of the pro-life movement focuses on removing the short-term "crisis" surrounding a woman's choices for an unplanned pregnancy, but gives no consideration to the long-term consequences of her actions... which may result in several more crises in the future. So, here's my ideal of how pro-lifers should work:

See that big group of diverse men and women? They are a support group, so to speak. And right in the middle of their group, right in the place where the maximum support and resources are offered.... that is where they place people who are alive.

Because, you see, the pro-life movement should be about supporting life. Let me give you a few examples of this.

People who should be supported by the pro-life movement

  • Women who chose to continue an unplanned pregnancy and parent their child. It's not enough to support that woman to make the choice of life... they must support her actual life. That may mean helping her gain access to appropriate obstetrical care, driving her to the hospital when her water breaks, helping her with laundry and grocery shopping those first weeks of parenting, giving her a "night off" from parenting alone by babysitting, making sure there is a present for her under the Christmas tree, help her prepare for a work/school presentation, etc. Because you are there to support this woman in her life. Not just one choice that will change her life, but her whole life.
  • The child born from an unplanned pregnancy being raised by his/her mother (the woman above). This child will likely face many challenges in life simply because he or she has a single mother. This child needs physical, emotional, and spiritual support. And someone to take to the Donuts with Dad morning at school. And someone to teach him/her soccer or baseball or football and who won the World Series in 1963. You know what I mean?
  • The father of an unplanned pregnancy. It's amazing how for a born child, a father is treated as 50% of the parental and decision-making force (and I have real problems with states that minimize a father's rights when it comes to placing a child for adoption), but for the unborn child, the father is basically not even acknowledged. And yet, is he less effected? Sure, there are those fathers who really do not care one way or the other about their unborn child, and those who really don't want the responsibility of a child, but we would be woefully out of line to assume that all or even the majority of men feel this way. In my own experience, Abigail's father did not want me to have an abortion- he wouldn't have stopped me, if that is what I had chosen, but from the minute he knew he had half his DNA growing in my womb, he (thought he) wanted her. Where are we in supporting these men? Where are we in helping them do their part to prevent unplanned pregnancies from occurring? (Do you notice how the bulk of responsibility for prevention of pregnancy falls on women?)
  • The woman who had an abortion. Listen, whether you think she made the right choice or not is not the issue. The issue is she made a choice, and now we can either respond by loving her, or ostracizing her. Our reaction is ours alone, while the choice she made was hers. If faced with another unplanned pregnancy, will this cast-out, judged woman consider making a different choice if all she has known is hatred from the pro-life movement (48% of women who have abortions have had one or more abortions in the past)**? Or what about when she starts experiencing guilt or remorse over her decision... who will love her enough to affirm that her worth is not based on the choice(s) she made, but in her identity as a child of God? Not to mention, it is the most vulnerable of women who will likely experience negative consequences of abortion (ie: women who are psychologically/emotionally struggling before an abortion are much more likely to experience negative consequences after an abortion.**) Wouldn't it make the most sense then to simply be loving and supportive of those who are most in need of love and support?
  • The woman who has made an adoption plan for her unplanned pregnancy. Whether her plan is to place the child into a kinship care/kinship adoption, or another adoption situation, the feelings she has both before and after placement... and really, for the rest of her life... will be complex, to say the least. She doesn't need someone sitting there saying "you made the right choice, way to go, being a birth mom is awesome!" But I think she needs and deserves love and support that says "this situation is intense and complex and hard, and everything you are thinking and feeling is valid." Sometimes adoption agencies provide this post-placement counseling, but not always, and rarely without an agenda... and sometimes these women can access that, but sometimes not. The pro-life movement should be working to make sure that every mother who makes an adoption plan has support and resources... even (especially?) if she changes her mind and parents the child
Can you see what I am trying to say? There is so much more to being pro-life than influencing women (or even legislation) against abortion. I honestly believe that if the pro-life movement were more focused on what we should be doing rather than what we shouldn't be doing, it would be much more effective. I can outline for my kids 100 different things they shouldn't do, but it really doesn't help them to know what they should do.

And more importantly, knowing what they should do doesn't always help them navigate difficult decisions and the repercussions of them. Because the choice of life- the choice of continuing an unplanned pregnancy, is not simple or easy. The repercussions are vast and can last a lifetime. Focusing simply on anti-abortion efforts is totally missing the point.

*I am not including political/policy-maker pro-lifers, nor other extreme groups such as those who picket/bomb abortion clinics as I don't think that represents the majority of pro-lifers.
**I am purposely quoting a pro-choice website to make my point and to avoid the accusation from pro-choice-ers about the "propaganda" that exists in pro-life literature. Any movement has propaganda, but that is another post for another time.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011


Okay, so it's a bit past Halloween, but I thought I would share our Halloween pictures anyway:)

Opening Halloween mail...

You know I can't read yet, right?
I like my mummy!

See, JohnAndrew, this is how it's done.

Can I see your card? I bet mine is cooler. But yours might taste better.
 I forgot to get a picture of Abigail opening hers. Bad momma.

Most of the time that JA was in costume, he was, uh, less than impressed.

Can I touch your hat? I love your hat. It's way better than my stuffed head that keeps falling off.

JA is practicing his Elvis lip curl.

All 3 looking at the camera, nearly happy, at the same time! And I didn't even bribe them with candy!

Aaaannnndddd.... JA's over it.

No more photos, please.

Anna loved being Jessie. Those boots alone would have won her:)

Little Bo Peep. I did not tell her that she was carrying LambChop. My kids have never heard of The Song That Doesn't End. Nor do they need to ever hear of it. Thanks.

Buzz Lightyear, Space Ranger. He is definitely spacey.

To infinity... and beyond!

In lieu of a "real costume" I pulled out a bunch of stuff from my closet. I call this the Pregnant Hippie look.
35 weeks and 3 days belly shot:)

Could they look less thrilled?
We've already started talking about next year's costumes. We did Alice in Wonderland last year. We are tossing around The Wizard of Oz for next year... Also discussing Sesame Street and the Muppets. Or, as John suggested, we could go as a sports team. We will have enough of us to make up a basketball team, with one left over to be the basketball!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Breastfeeding Causes Abortions (Part 1)

Alternatively Entitled:
Why the pro-life movement has missed the point.

Picasso, Maternity, 1905

Did you know that breastfeeding causes abortions? It does.

Well, it does if you follow a few tenants that some within the pro-life movement hold:

  • Life starts at conception (the joining of the egg and sperm, known as fertilization)
  • Any step taken to prevent the fertilized egg from implanting and developing normally are abortive in nature
  • Not knowing that a fertilized egg exists in the womb (such as during the time between fertilization and a positive pregnancy test) is not an excuse for committing abortive actions
If you believe these three tenants, you will also agree that birth control pills (BCPs) cause abortions.

When breastfeeding, many women do experience a suppression of ovulation. However, when their cycle returns, it is often much lighter than normal, and much less frequent than when they are not breastfeeding. In fact, a woman's cycle may be so light and infrequent that she will simply report just a bit of "spotting." Why is that? Because the endometrial lining is thin. The body is releasing eggs, but if fertilized, they may face an inhospitable environment due to a thin lining. Without the ability to implant or with implantation into a thin lining, the fertilized egg is expelled rather than resulting in a viable pregnancy. 

Therefore, by the same logic that argues that BCPs cause abortion due to thinning the lining, breastfeeding causes abortion, too. Many women may never realize they had a fertilized egg that failed to implant because they may conceive before they know they have had a return to a fertility, or because the fertilized egg is expelled with the normal cycle. But again, according to the third tenant, ignorance is not a sufficient reason to take abortive actions. 

By this logic, many pro-lifers need to re-examine their commitment to breastfeeding, because they are, unwittingly, causing abortions. And by that same logic, the use of Clomid (a common fertility drug) causes abortions. I am sure there are many other drugs that affect the lining of the uterus. 

PCOS, thyroid problems, uterine infections, scarring from uterine surgery (including c-section), blood flow/clotting problems and many other health problems can affect implantation and result in failure of a fertilized egg to implant properly. Prostiglandin F2a, a naturally occurring substance in the body which causes uterine contraction, is markedly elevated in women with endometriosis, and could contribute to the shedding of a fertilized and implanted egg. By using the logic above, these health conditions are abortive in nature. 

It follows, then, by this logic that because my cervix was known to be problematic and potentially unable to support a pregnancy, a pregnancy loss that resulted from my incompetent cervix would be abortive. Not a miscarriage, but an actual abortion.

And this logic can only lead to the conclusion that women who suffer from these health conditions should strongly consider not attempting to become pregnant. In fact, if you truly believe you should not use BCPs because they are abortive, I can only assume that if you have these one of these conditions, you should not even have intercourse (unless it is with a man who has had a vasectomy/0 sperm count and cannot, therefore, result in a fertilized egg) because these conditions are abortive.

And this is called being "pro-life"? Avoiding the very act of being a contributor in the formation of human life on the basis that there is potential for loss of the fertilized egg... that is pro-life?

No. Let's call a spade a spade. That mentality is not pro-life. It is anti-abortion. 

Now, don't get me wrong... I am pro-life. I am even anti-abortion (at least to some degree, although, obviously, not to the extreme described above.) But arguing over whether a medical condition, medication, or treatment could cause abortions and should be avoided is completely missing the point when it comes to the pro-life movement. These arguments, with their illogical tenants and resulting conclusions, are detracting from the root of what pro-lifers need to be doing.

And more on that in Part 2.

***Note: I do not agree with the viewpoint that a naturally occurring or artificially-induced thin endometrial lining is, by nature, abortive. I am simply expounding on one set of beliefs to make a point. 

***Note to my note: Just because I don't agree that BCPs are abortive does not mean I condone the use of BCPs or any artificial hormones. I think the risks of artificial hormones are significant and highly underplayed by many OBGYNs and health professionals.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Orphan Sunday

Today is Orphan Sunday, a day for the Church to unite in prayer for orphans and to pursue the Lord's heart for how we should respond to the needs of these precious ones.

There are so many vulnerable children, both right here in the US and around the world. Adoption is only a tiny part of solving the problems these children face. Today I wanted to highlight three of my favorite ways to meet the needs of these orphaned and vulnerable children...

National CASA- Connects volunteers to local children in foster care who need support, mentorship, and most importantly advocacy to help meet their needs. You don't have to have any special training or education to be an advocate.

BringLove.In.- As an alternative to the International Adoption pipeline, this organization connects orphans and widows in Ethiopia, forming new families. "Mothers/Aunts" are provided with training to create sustainable families and children remain in their homeland. Families are supported through the transition by trained social workers So very few children in Ethiopia are candidates for IA, but almost every orphaned or vulnerable child can be sustained in their community through this model, which incorporates the idea of foster care and domestic adoption, 2 options that are missing from Ethiopia's child welfare system.

Connected In Hope- Connected In Hope works to prevent children from becoming orphaned due to poverty, disease, or other "lack of resources" causes in the Mount Entoto area of Ethiopia. Partnering with the Former Women Fuel Wood Carriers Association, women are trained and provided with fair-trade markets for the items they produce, creating a sustainable and predictable income for these families. Social support is offered through a day care/preschool and improved access to health care. Women are also provided with leadership development opportunities to help promote their own needs, causes, and solutions. In this way, children can remain in the care of their first-families rather than becoming orphaned from preventable causes.

For more Family Preservation programs in Ethiopia, click here.

What are your favorite causes to support on Orphan Sunday?
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