Wednesday, May 30, 2007

shrinking.

I can feel my "support system" shrinking with each adoption conversation. Last night, I sensed it again in the glazed look and the complete disinterest. It as if so many are saying, "I hope you don't expect me to go down this road with you. I don't understand why you are even doing this, and so as long as we can pretend it's not happening...we're good."
I, however, cannot pretend. It is happening. We are going there. And it is who I am now.

This is risky, this is scary, this is uncomfortable. And I know we will need a strong support system and we are working to have it in place. It is already armed with precious family and a few dear friends. And as much as I want everyone to journey there with us, I know they will not.

It makes me sad to think we will leave some behind (or probably in their minds, that they will leave us behind).

Things change when "those people" are now part of MY family. "Those people" will soon be my children. I am willing to risk, to sacrifice and to fight to make it so. Because "those people" matter to us in a big way.

I am trying not to require everyone to hold the same passion--as I understand God calls us all differently. But some things are universal--calling us all to love, to give, to risk. And maybe at least be supportive of those who are trying to do those things.

We're done playing it safe. Life's too short.
And we're so thankful for those who want to ride that adventure with us and for those whose own lives have challenged us to do so...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

check.

I'm sitting here today looking at a huge pile of papers for the homestudy and dossier. And I so want to start filling them out, checking things off as I go. I like to make lists and check things off. It is so satisfying to me and I don't really mind paperwork.

BUT at the top of the list is "Sell Old House." And I really can't do much else until I have checked off the first one. And I have absolutely no control over it.

So very frustrated and discouraged today.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

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"But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth." (I John 3:17-18)

Monday, May 21, 2007

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"I dream of a world where all children are cherished. A world where we spend more time and energy securing the future of the world's children than securing the future of the world's oil reserves. A world where caring for orphans is common and expected.

I dream of a world where it would not occur to anyone to say, "Your doing such a good thing" to an orphan-adopting dad." (Crazy D)

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"You cannot have peace and at the same time doubt that God will provide for you. Settle the issue once and for all in your heart and mind. God is your Provider. He will meet your needs as you learn to trust and obey Him." (Lucado)

Friday, May 18, 2007

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this was copied from another blog too.

"The Hardest Part
When you decide to adopt, there are a lot of things that might be difficult. For me, what has been the hardest part?

Is it the decision itself?
-This part was pretty easy for Z and I. It feels like the right thing for us to do, and we are following our guts on this one. We've decided that there is no PERFECT time to have a child. There is always SOMETHING that could be better. Adopt vs. having a biological child? Another easy decision for us.

Is it the paperwork?
-Sure, there's a lot of paperwork to be done. But, most of the paperwork is pretty straight-forward. Its tedious and time-consuming, but not horrible. We can surely handle the paperwork.

Is it watching the adoptive parenting training videos?
-Another kind of tedious task. Sometimes its hard to find times when we are both together, have some extra time, and feel like using our time together to watch these videos. But, so far, they've been helpful. They are a bit dry, but contain a lot of useful information, and as first-timers we're appreciating it.

Is it the homestudy?
-I have to be honest and say this is the part that worried me the most. What does the social worker ask? How particular is she going to be? How clean does my house need to be to impress her? How "kid-ready" does our house have to be so that we will pass? The truth is...our social worker is great. She has been an incredible help to us; making sure that we are thinking about all of the possible "what ifs"; making sure we talk about what to expect; and making sure that we felt comfortable in our meetings with her. Our social worker is really great and we look forward to keeping her up to date on adoption happenings and we look forward to post-placement meetings with her as well. So, no, the homestudy was/is not the hardest part.

Is it the waiting?
-Waiting is hard. Its hard to wait to start putting the dossier together. Its hard to wait for your referral. Its hard to wait to travel. But, these are all parts of the process that we KNOW ahead of time and can try to prepare ourselves for. It doesn't make the wait go faster, but it might help to make it a little easier. My plan for waiting to travel is to start making lots of quilts...if I end up making a lot of them, then some will be donated to the orphanage. Then I might move on to preparing the kids' room; getting beds, dressers, decorating, etc. We'll have to get some toys, kids' clothes, etc. There will be lots of things to keep us busy during that time.

So...what is the hardest part?
-For me, the hardest part came this weekend. When a person I love and who I thought was a part of my support system went out of his way to tell me what a huge mistake we are making. When I asked if we would be having this conversation if I were pregnant the answer was "absolutely not". Thanks...now I know how you really feel.

Other adoptive families have written about their experiences with less-than-enthusiastic family members. I expected some of it, but I honestly didn't expect what I got this weekend. I'm not sure how I should feel about it. Should I let it go; knowing that he was lashing out because he is just concerned about us and loves us (even though he could have found a MUCH better way to express his concerns)? Should I be angry; knowing that he brought so many things into the conversation that were totally un-called-for (not to mention completely unrelated to the topic at hand)? Should I dread every future conversation with this particular person? Should I allow this conversation to shatter my confidence in our decision to adopt?


One thing I do know is that our kids will know that Z and I wanted them VERY much; even if others weren't so sure."
(jellybeanandpeanut.blogspot.com)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

post adoption panic.

another post coped from Crazy D (adoptive dad). I wanted to have record of it here too...

What have I done?
"What have I done?"

It is the words spoken in great desperation and grief by the mouths of many adoptive parents, particularly those who have adopted an older child.

I think of an email from a friend in the early weeks after she and her husband brought home two children from Ethiopia.


After the kids are in bed asleep, I will be walking by their door and I will feel a pit in my stomach. I ask, "What have I done?" I used to have such a nice life with my husband and our three birth kids. Now that life is gone.

I think of one of the adoption stories that Melissa Fay Greene tells towards the end of There Is No Me Without You

More than one of the family members began to wonder, on the long highways across Pennsylvania and Ohio, "What have we done?" Which question could be subdivided into "What have we done to him?" and "What have we done to our family" (p.390)

"I am completely exhausted," said Dave in his second week home. "I don't know if I can do this". (p.391)

Although spring in Michigan usually signals the end of cabin fever, Dave's was just starting. He felt himself a prisoner in his own house, a prisoner of the demanding, fit-throwing, clinging boy. (p.392)

But Dave was reeling into a depression. By whose slip of a pen on what paperwork, by what strange spin of the globe, had this orphan of Addis Ababa landed in Dave Armistead's kitchen? "I love teaching," he was thinking, as he staggered around the house or the backyard with Ababu's stranglehold on him. "I love history; I love teaching high school history. I traded that for this?" (p.393)

I think of a training session that I went to where an adoptive dad was brought in. He had just had one long, tearful, gut-wrenching, hair-pulling year. As he spoke to us there was no controlling the emotion in his voice or the tears that flowed.

I, too, have asked this question. It was even during the first 24 hours, while I was still in Ethiopia realizing the dream. I remember standing there, looking at a misbehaving boy and projecting that behavior forward for the next 13 years. The question screaming through my head was, "What have I done?"

And what is worse, adoptive parents can think that the proper question is, "What have I done?" This seems like the right question to ask because it feels that there is no one to blame but yourself. After all, you are the one who rebuffed critics. You are the one who quoted stats about the needs of children around the world. You are the one who advocated. You are the one who insisted on adopting. You are the one who believed that God was calling you to adopt. And now you are filled with self-doubt as you realize that the adoption attachment issues you read about are yours and not your child's.

And how can you complain to others? All they will say is, "You made your own bed. Now you have to lie in it."

But the blessed news is that this stage will pass. Though in each of the above stories there were times of doubting, grief, and feelings of disconnectedness that sometimes lasted up to a year, they all passed. Each family is now strong and in love. They can't imagine life without their adopted children.

I know not every family emerges from the "What have I done?" stage. A small percentage of adoptions do disrupt. My advice to perspective adoptive parents is to gird your loins beforehand, prepare for the worst, make sure you have emotional reserves, educate yourself, read Green's article on post-adoption panic, and get connected with other adoptive parents. Then you will most likely be pleasantly surprised at how well your adoption is going or, if the early times are tough, you will be well prepared.

Oh, and just one last piece of unsolicited advice for those thinking about adopting. Depend on God. The Father of the Fatherless wants his orphaned children cared for and He has chosen us to be His hands and His feet to them. He will give you the strength to see it through.

risk

the following was written by an adoptive dad who I do not know but have read his blog. He doesn't know me, but sometimes I think he is finding the words for me....

Is adoption risky?
"You have taken a big risk. I am so glad it has worked out for you."

"You have been very lucky."

"You are fortunate that things are going so well."

My wife and I can almost hear the collective sigh of relief from friends and family that care for us so much. This long exhale comes now that it seems like all is well with our family after our recent Ethiopian adoption. After all, we did take a big risk.

Or did we?

My wife and I don't feel like we bet the farm. Did we really jeopardize our family? Did we jeopardize our relationship with our birth children? Did we really jeopardize our sanity? (OK, yes, I will give you that one. But our sanity was nearly gone anyway.)

Is adoption risky?

I think that adoption carries no more inherent risk than having a birth child. There is a great cloud of uncertainty surrounding a potential birth child. All of the possible birth defects, complications, the child's personality, even gender can't be known prior to conception when you are debating on whether or not to have a child. With an adopted child, certainly more is known about such things. Of course there are other unknowns. Were they loved by their parents? What experiences have they had? Have they been traumatized? Are they well adjusted? These unknowns feel more foreign to us than the more familiar unknowns of a birth child.

Even if one concludes that adoption is more risky, the next question is this:

For what are we willing to risk?

In American society, we are willing to take all sorts of risks. We sell short, buy stocks on margin, use home equity lines of credit for vacations, drive fast on interstates while talking on cell phones, develop tan lines, go bungee jumping, and eat fast food more often than we should.

If we are willing to take these risks -- to risk for self gain and self pleasure -- then let us also be willing to risk for others. And what better risk to take than for a child in need of a family.

John Piper says, "Risk is right." And so it is.

(Crazy D, adoptive dad)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

on this mother's day.

It's Mother's Day. And generally on Mother's Day, I reflect on the joys and challenges of mothering my boys. I think about how much I love them and how much work it is to care for them. Sometimes, almost selfishly, I recount all loads of laundry, all the dishes, all the dinners and lunches and breakfasts I've made. I think about all the soccer practices, and baseball games and swimmming lessons. All the permission slips and teacher conferences and doctor appointments and dentist visits. And all the shoes I've tied, the sandwiches I've cut, the skinned knees I've bandaged, the bedtime stories I've read, and the kisses I given. And all the prayers I have said over their little bodies. It is endless work and it is endless joy.

But today my heart is heavy in a way it has not been before. Like Melissa Greene ponders in her book, I have done the same. When we hear about 15 million orphans...it is a statistic. But when you stop to think about it...who is tying 15 million shoes? Who is going to 15 million practices? Who is signing 15 million permission slips? Who is reading 15 million bedtime stories? Who is kissing 15 million little faces?
And the answer is no one. No one is.

And so today, I cannot keep my heart from pondering and praying and longing. And thinking mostly on this Mother's Day, of all the children who have no mother.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

weeding.

We have spent hours in the yard in the last couple days. This is new for me. Gardening/yard work/plant care has never really been a priority for me. In our previous homes, we have lived for years without ever weeding. I could not recognize a weed. Weeds did not bother me. I know it must of totally annoyed our ‘green’ friends. Even now, Paul will walk by and pull weeds out of our beds. Or Lorene will point out a spot that NEEDS a flower of some sort.
In the process, I have become a little more educated. I started to develop eyes that recognize what is a weed and what is a plant. And now there is no turning back. I walked outside today and was totally frustrated with a bed of weeds that still needs much TLC. A couple weeks ago, I would not of even noticed it, much less have been frustrated by it.

Drawing on that analogy, in the past year or two, I feel like my eyes have been opened to another world. I have become educated or less ignorant or simply aware of another kind of suffering, of other parts of the world, of people that previously my eyes did not see. Much like I could walk by a weed without being bothered, I was going about my life in America without giving too much thought to another continent. But then somewhere along the way, my eyes and heart opened. And now, like weeding, I can’t seem to go back.

It was easier to not have to weed the garden and flower beds. It has taken hours of time.

It would be “easier” if these new burdens did not weigh so heavily on my heart. But as much as I sometimes want to, I can’t walk by anymore.

And just like my friends were so frustrated by my neglect of weeding, I too can become easily frustrated. “How can you walk right past that weed?” “How can you not see this?” “How can this not bother you?”
I must guard carefully my heart and allow God to open minds and eyes.

I am responsible only for my own garden. My own heart. And my own obedience based on what I see so clearly now.

slowly, but surely.

Sent the contract in with our first big payment today.
I kind of feel like I am going to vomit. Probably from the combination of excitement and fear and the unknown.
I am learning to not look for "comfort" as the indicator of being in the center of God's will. This is anything but comfortable...

Monday, May 7, 2007

because we want to.

Today was chore day around here--like most Monday's are. I started the day doing a full house cleaning. As I was vacuuming I became frustrated with my low-end Wal-mart vacuum and how I was having to go over the same spot two or three times. It was going to take me hours to get the house done. My mind started dreaming of Dyson and Orecks and how much easier things would be....
This afternoon Andy was mowing our 1 acre lot of grass. He has an old push mower that was literally stalling out every 45 seconds or so. It is going to take him days to get the lawn done. I stopped him, and said, "This is ridiculous. Go get a new mower. We can't keep doing this." He asked if we had the money. I told him we had some money saved up and he should just go. But Andy said, "Nope. That's adoption money. I'll make this work."

Several times today my mind wandered to what we could do with the $5,000 we have worked so hard to save thus far. Things that would certainly make our lives easier. But we both knew that this is part of the deal. We make sacrifices, we go without for a time. We give up some or our own desires (and even what Americans would consider "needs"--when really we have no idea what "needs" are) for the higher good of someone esle. Knowing too that ultimately we are the ones that win. We are the ones that benefit when we choose the eternal over the temporal.

Andy are I are on the same page on this one. And it felt good even if we did have to work considerably harder today....

Saturday, May 5, 2007

an end to african adoptions.

Andy and I believe that the day that African adoptions are no longer needed will be a day of celebration. The end of African adoption, not the successful adoption of a child, is the ultimate aim.
We understand the tragedy it is to pull a child out of his homeland. We understand (as much as we can without having lived it yet) the trauma and grief this will put a child through. However, we also understand the consequences of growing up without parents, without a family, without a loving advocate. And when poverty, and pandemic disease, and war create a crisis to the point that millions of children are left alone--we must assume it is better to be loved, even in a different country, than to be alone.
We will use our resources and our voice to seek ultimately the health and stability and well-being of first parents. And we will rejoice if ever the doors close to African adoptions because they are being cared for within their country.
Until then, we are not comfortable letting millions of children die or be left alone...that's not OK. And if we can play one small part--in throwing a lifeline to one child--we don't want to miss that chance to literally "care for the orphan" as God so clearly calls us to. We understand it is a decision that opens us up to broader suffering and we believe deeper joy as well.
And we will pray with all our children that one day the tears will no longer fall from children who weep at grave sites. And that in Africa, and in America, God will find His children obedient.

Friday, May 4, 2007

simple.

"To whom much is given, of him much will be required.”

(Luke 12:38)