Thursday, April 30, 2009
I have recently had many friends asking me more detailed questions about adoption (yes, many of you and I still have endless thoughts to share!). My heart is so passionate for these children, for the orphans. A common question about adoption is "Do you love them all the same, biological and adopted children?" Yes. Yes, I love them all the same... as much as anyone can totally and completely love any two people "the same". It's not a real question in some ways... If you happened to grow up in a home with two loving and caring parents, you can understand that you could love your parents "the same", but it is still different. Angelisa and Naven are both biologically "the same" and I love them "the same", but different. Different people, different needs.
At our house do this little mantra sometimes (no more than sometimes, all the time), it goes like this:
Kid: I love you.
Mom: I love you more.
Kid: I love you the most.
Mom: I love you more than the most.
Kid: I love you infinity.
Mom: I love you infinity infinities.
Kid: I love you infinity infinity infinities
Mom: I love you infinity....
Tamene is not old enough, or doesn't have enough English to play the game... but he is learning.
I love them all infinity, infinity infinities, if that is possible. I've been looking for someone willing to chat with me about being a "step-parent" or a "step-child". I think the media makes this out to be something complicated... some how less love is involved. I am curious to get some firsthand information on the subject. Mostly because the love I have for each of my children fills up my heart completely and then runs over. And my Ghana girls are no exception. Just because they are not here with me yet, doesn't mean I love them any less. I desire to hold them and protect them just the same as my babies who are here with me. I have to go back to the pregnancy analogy... many women have put their life on the line for the little baby growing inside, wouldn't we find it odd if the woman didn't care for her growing baby in her belly. We expect her to go to the doctor and to take vitamins and to eat and rest in a way that is best for her and for her baby. My girls are in Ghana and I want to protect them and nurture them. I know that they are being well cared for. The women, the aunties, at the orphanage are taking excellent care of them... but no one can care for a child like her mother. What if they are sick or tired? My little Naven with a toothache, he wanted his mommy, not the nice nurse at the school, not his teacher, he wanted his mommy.
So the girls are 6,100 miles from me. I want to care for them like they are sleeping in the next room. A cool wash cloth on a warm head. A tissue for a teary eye. A hug for a sad heart. There is nothing about 6,100 miles that makes me feel any different than a child growing in my womb, I have desperate love. I didn't know... when I started the first adoption, I didn't know I could love like this.
God is Love, we are made in His image... is there any question that we have the ability to love anyone, anywhere, but especially a child - no matter how she comes to us.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
We had a "technical glitch" at work and I have been working and sleeping in strange cycles. In addition to that:
- Naven had a tooth issue, this required a visit to the dentist and some large tools were required to correct the problem.
- They turned off our gas due to a leak at the meter (made cooking dinner complicated) - gas is now restored
- I attended a field trip with a group of 1st graders going to the Science Museum. If you are tired enough you can sleep on a bus with 50 some screaming children!
- I have prepared my children's "costumes" for their play this weekend
- I've checked in on the baby chicks - someone has been feeding them because they are huge already
- Many of my friends are on a roll with adoption questions. I am trying to keep up! (and I love it by the way, none of you should stop asking questions!!!)
- I have the kids enrolled in a new school for the fall. The school is "year round". I am going to have two 2nd graders next year!!
I don't know anything new about the adoption. We are still waiting to hear when we make it through court, hopefully some news next week!
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Today she talked to her teacher about going to Africa and about having to get a shot. Her teacher said she should tell her mom that if she has to get a shot then her mom should take her some where fun after the doctor... I guess Africa either doesn't count as some place fun, or it's not the immediate reward her 4th grade teacher thinks she deserves. Either way I love her teacher and told Angelisa to tell her that I said (with lots of sarcasm) "Thanks A LOT!"
Anyone who has talked to me about our trip to Ethiopia knows that I have not been an advocate for traveling with sibling children during an adoption trip. I guess I feel like this is going to be different because it will just be her and I. So when I go to bed at night she'll be right there to get all my attention, and hopefully that will sustain her when she is not the center of my attention during the day... I suspect she may be the center of attention with other children and her new sisters. I think it will work out well. If Trent and I were traveling together I still would be against traveling with siblings. I guess once I do this trip a few more times I'll be old hat at it, and I can bring the whole band along.
I have been officially approved to do Medical Missions while on my trip while in Ghana. I'll be sponsored by my employer and working with Adoption Advocates International (AAI) while I am there. AAI, is the agency we are working with for our adoption and they have some volunteer work I can assist with while I am in Ghana.
Friday, April 17, 2009
When I picked up my little man from daycare yesterday, they said he had a rough day. He even bit a child (no damage, but still). He seemed clingy and wanted to be held. We spent the evening outside and it seemed that he wanted to stay close by and participate in the activities I was doing.
After his long day of outdoor play, he required a soaking on the tub to remove a layer or two of dirt. As I put him in the tub he began to cry - that's not so odd, he cries if he thinks you are going to wash his hair... but the cry was different, yet familiar. Poor baby. He seemed that he needed to be held. I quickly finished and pulled him out of the tub. I wrapped him in a towel and held him close. The crying continued, his eyes closed his face pressed into mine. Earlier he had found a pacifier that he brought to the tub to play with, it was now comforting him, though he still managed to cry while holding it in his mouth. That cry. I have heard him cry like this before... but when? Ah, in Ethiopia. I remember. The cry lasted a few weeks after arriving home, diminishing over time. But now it was back. And it took me back. As I gazed down at this little child wrapped in a towel, crying - maybe it's a moan and not a cry, being comforted by the suckling and touch of my skin. Comforted, yet sad. I wondered what was causing this. Was it that the weather that day in Minnesota was similar to that of Ethiopia when we brought him home? Maybe? I didn't know.
Finally after a long time of just holding him, we put his pajamas on and moved to his room. He brought me his "Peanut Shell" a sling of sorts, that wraps him close to me. We used it often in the first weeks together, but I have not seen it in some time now. He looked in his basket and brought it to me. "Do you want mommy to hold you in the Peanut Shell?" an affirmative head nod as the pacifier limits his words. He crawled in and snuggled into me the way he did those first days home. Pressing his skin against my skin, breathing into me. Memories of Ethiopia flooded in.
Again gazing down at this amazing little being. I could see his birth mother. They look so much alike. And I thought of her and said a prayer for her.
Finally, but resistantly, he allowed me to leave him for the night.
Trent and I settled into bed last night and I told him about the biting incident at daycare, and I mentioned how Tamene had a rough night. That's all I said... "he had a rough night." Trent wondered out loud if it might be because this was getting close to the time of the year his birth mother would have been making arrangements for his adoption plan. It was in fact a year ago. I don't know what's going on in the head of that little man. But I can tell you what's going on in mine.
Take a look at the blog I wrote a year ago, and then note the comment I added when we brought him home.
In April, one year ago, I did not know the amazing woman who would share the gift of life with me. But my heart was connecting with her still. Today one year later... again, I grieves her loss, the anniversary of this difficult time. My heavy heart yesterday, and Trent's observation of the anniversary. And today, as I reflected on my blog from a year ago...
I don't know what triggers an anniversary memory in a place that doesn't look the same, smell or the same or have the same sounds. I think we were brought together for a moment, the three of us. I don't have conclusive evidence of my hypothesis, but the little man and I experienced something last night... I hope that his birth mother knew we were thinking of her.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I have some thoughts I want to share. For some you may wonder why I'd put myself through this adoption process if there are such areas of sadness and worry. Please note that these are just my thoughts and observations, I am not looking for sympathy - not for myself. But I am trying to empathize and understand the complexity.
First off, I see two sides the the adoption coin. One side says that there is a birth family, somewhere, who is sad that they are no longer joined with this part of their family. They were forced to make very difficult decisions about the future and the best interest of these children. Sad, I am sure, at their own loss. Sad, that they had to say good-bye. Yet maybe, just maybe a glimpse of peace and hope about the future of these children. For me happiness and excitement to grow our family, to learn to love and be loved in another exciting way. Yet sad. Sad for the loss of the birth family, said for the loss the children experience. Sad to know that this morning the girls woke up to play with their friends and though happy to have a family, knowing they must say good-bye to all the people they have grown to love and trust. Today they knew what they knew, they knew about school and play and lunch and bedtime. Now, they wonder about the people in the pictures, and what America really means. Now they have a feeling that they are unsure of, one that wasn't there before.
I am not egocentric, ethnocentric or self centered enough to think that the very best place in the world for these children is with me in America. I wish I did think that. I wish that for this moment it could be as simple as handing a child candy, instant gratification. But, before I head too far down that path... what I do know is that God has a plan. And whatever that plan is, is the very best plan for these girls. In this I find peace. In this I find comfort.
I thought I had more to write today. I thought my blog post might be longer. I am experiencing such a complexity of thoughts and feelings. And many of the feelings serve as reminders that I have been down this road before. I've been here, it's quite a journey. With that I simply acknowledge the feelings, and I know that they will come and go many times over the next days and weeks. And then they will evolve and visit again in another form in the months and years ahead. But today, they can rest now, lay dormant for a while. I hope for the girls, they are jumping rope and running, and the thoughts are resting until they are done playing and having fun. And I hope when they think about it again, it will be with hope and love. And I wish that next time these feelings come to me, they come with hope and joy. In all of this there is hope and love.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Everything waits right now. There isn't much I can do. Well there are a bunch of useless-keep-my-mind-busy tasks that I could come up with that would make me feel like I am doing something useful to get my girls home faster... but really, there is nothing I can do to speed things up. So for today I focus all of my excitement on the anticipation of the girls receiving their welcome bags (a few small gifts and pictures to the them know a family is waiting for them).
It really puts the concept of gift giving at Christmas to shame. We shop and shop and buy and buy, and for what. There is WAY more love packed in that little plastic bag than I could ever wrap in any holiday gift. It's not about what's in the bag, it's what the bag means. An 8 year old child knows that each time her friends have received a bag, a family has come to take them home. And yet, over these long months she has not received a bag, and no family has come to get her. Her only experience, a loss of friends come with these bags. I live with a 9 year old, a compassionate and loving 9 year old, but I can't imagine the heart break that she would experience as she saw each of her friends leave and she would be left behind to wait, wait for an undetermined amount of time. I suppose excitement, anticipation and worry will come with the bag. The imagination of a child to create such excitement and such fear.
What I would give to see them when they receive these bags.
(Thanks for stopping by the blog to check on us!)
Sunday, April 12, 2009
I found a reference to a song called "I Can Only Imagine". I recognized the name of the song, and as soon as I heard the intro, I knew what song it was. This song really hits home today and in light of my wait for my babies from Ghana. Below I will change the words to fit the meaning I felt tonight (see changes to original words in italics). Then you can hear it as it is written by CE Moore and performed by MercyMe.
I can only imagine
What it will be like
When I walk
By your side
I can only imagine
What my eyes will see
When your face
Is before me
I can only imagine, I can only imagine
Surrounded by my babies, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for my babies or in awe of them be still
Will I stand in their presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing how I love you, will I be able to speak at all, I can only imagine
I can only imagine, I can only imagine
When that day comes
And I find myself
Standing in the sun
I can only imagine
When all I will do
Forever love on You
I can only imagine
I can only imagine
I can only imagine, I can only imagine
I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever, forever love on you
I can only imagine
This song makes me incredibly excited on so many levels.
To my baby girls:
Momma loves you! I can't wait to see you. You are growing in my heart and my growing love for you is amazing. Every day brings us one day closer to being together. I am here preparing for you. I am excitedly waiting to hold you in my arms. I want to feel your breath on my cheek and know we are all alive together - forever. Godspeed my love and hugs and kisses to you through time and space and my they find you and your happy spirit in Ghana, and bring you peace and comfort if even for a moment.
Friday, April 10, 2009
I think there will need to be a very closely observed effort to avoid letting the fridge get "empty". My choices would be to haul the band to the grocery store to stock up... resulting in multiple carts of groceries, or to take one or two helpers and hope the carts don't get so full they can't push them. Hey - you - yes you!! Have a little humor! Trust me I can figure out how to shop for my new family.
NOW the really good news, and Trent can attest to this, is that my mother and father taught me how to cook for an army. As kids we would bring home any and every friend we had (still do!) to eat with us. My mom and dad never knew how many friends or family might join, so there was always enough food for 15 people. There is a downside to cooking like this. First, if you don't bring home any friends you knew you would be eating the same meal for the next 5 days. So it was a bit of a cycle my mother created... if we didn't want to eat the some food for 5 days, you better bring home a lot of friends. The second problem with this kind of cooking is that when you get your first roommate (or in my case husband), that person thinks you are completely insane when you cook like this. The dilemma, he wasn't too sure about some of my cooking (chili with noodles apparently is not a world wide phenomenon)... and it wasn't that he had to suffer through one meal of this strange new food, but a full week. Yes, we did freeze some of it and eat it later, and yes, some of it went to waste (or waist), but mostly we tried to eat it. And the ability to cook like this must have some sort of genetic integration, because, how hard is it to follow a recipe for two? One would think, not so hard... but when you add a little of this and little of that, pretty soon you can feed the whole neighborhood. Anyway, I think it is a skill God has given me and it should fit in well with my new family!
On a side note our little Ethiopian SuperStar grew 4 inches in the past 5 months (sounds like someone must have been feeding him).
I think I have already mentioned my fears of laundry. Good think Trent is a superstar at laundry. And Angelisa is up next to learn to do laundry!
I am open to some tips on transporting this many people on a regular basis. Maybe I should get together with some bus drivers and get some tips... actually I just thought of an idea. I can have a Patrol. A Van Patrol (VP)... I'll get a reflective vest and each child can take turns enforcing the rules of the van(s).
Actually I like this idea more and more as I think of it. I can have designated helpers like in a classroom. I want one kid to check the weather each day and announce what kind of clothing is needed. I want another kid to be the line leader and round up everyone to get them to the front door for leaving. I need a classroom helper, the kid whose on point for the day to run the random errand ("Somebody let the dogs in!"). If any of you are reading this and think I am just thinking silly, ask anyone who knows me... this will be implemented in my home... I will try it.
I've also realized that mothers of the 21st Century have a new duty. We not only have to know how to cook and clean, and monitor food triangles and exercise routines for our children but we are also the HELP DESK... you know the people you call when the computer isn't working quite right, generally due to user error. Anyway, I am already getting Angelisa all trained in on this. Yesterday I received an email (on my BlackBerry) from her. The email asked if she should wear her scarf "like this" and attached to it was a photo she took and uploaded! (okay she is already my help desk, I will admit it). Anyway I'll need a technology helper.
So along those lines, I love that I can arrange doctor appointments on line, get groceries delivered and have free time to wonder why banks actually need a building (or at least why they are so extravagant... who goes there?). Google 411 can get me any name and address or business on my phone in seconds. I never have to drive to a store just "to see if they have it" - unless I decide it is a leisure activity. I can do my Christmas shopping on line (and yes I will be doing it again this year). I keep in touch with my friends through facebook, it's like a virtual coffee shop, I can just wave on my way through or stop and chat. I can share pictures and humor, or get advice whenever I need it (and sometimes when I don't). I can get my job done without leaving my house (some days)... if nothing else I can avoid rush hour most days! I am a technology nerd mom!
I wonder, if people who wonder how I do it, know the tools that are available? I have been working to implement Lean (wiki Lean - Toyota Production Systems), ROWE (wiki ROWE), Process Improvement, Quality Assurance, and Innovation where ever I can in my home. Not to mention all that psych training Trent and I have... and then last but certainly not least those very important Biblical principles. Yes, pray for my children we don't know how they will turn out. I am placing my bets on Nobel Peace Prizes and maybe an Emmy winner! Ha!
Wow, who gave me access to blogging today?
Thursday, April 9, 2009
I'll start with my usual disclaimer... nothing in international adoption is ever "for sure" - anything can change.
To start it looks like there is a strong possibility that I may get to travel to Ghana for our our first trip in early June. This is excellent news. But it is a guesstimate. We must wait to get a court date scheduled and then actually get through court.
The other piece of info we received is that the most unexpected part of Ghanaian adoption is getting a passport for the children. I am relying on faith that those will come quickly. Record breaking time would be in less than two weeks. Expected time frame 4-8 months. But worst case scenario would be some long drawn out "we lost your stuff again" situation.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Make a gift of your life and lift all mankind by being kind, considerate, forgiving, and compassionate at all times, in all places, and under all conditions, with everyone as well as yourself. This is the greatest gift anyone can give. David Hawkins
When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.
The more we give love, the greater our capacity to do so.
People only see what they are prepared to see.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Comfort and prosperity have never enriched the world as much as adversity has. -Billy Graham
God is more interested in your future and your relationships than you are. - Billy Graham
Monday, April 6, 2009
...I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903in Letters to a Young Poet
This is a quote that I have loved for several years. I am especially drawn to these lines "Don't search for the answers... And the point is to live everything." I am so inspired by quotes, quips and stories that offer a balance of peace and energy. I am learning how to move, be nimble, be inspired and yet maintain the calm and peace that brings joy.
We worked with an agency that made sure we understood worst case scenarios in adopting. Most of the families were adopting infants, so some of the information in the above posts reflect that, Worst-case-scenario, first-time-adopting, not-so-sure-of-myself thinking. In looking over these posts now, I am glad I took the time to learn these things and communicate them. I am glad I have them to reflect on now.
In my post "Living Out Loud" I stated the following:
Trent and I have decided we are willing to live out loud. We understand that people may approach us and ask questions. We have plans about how to deal with that and how to answer those questions. This is another reason I have this blog, to educate our friends and family about this change. Having this child requires us to be a family living out loud. So much for us all to learn and wonder about.
When I wrote that I could only imagine what life might be like. Today, I know it, I live it and experience it. We love it! We love our family and the questions and the conversations that are sparked. We have learned about so many other's adoption journeys. We have been blessed over and over in these adoption journeys. Yes, I encounter moments of grey areas where I don't know what to do. I don't know what to say. But all in all, I wait for a feeling. A feeling that tells me I can educate, or I can just say thank you, or I should just walk away. I have to trust my spirit to lead me. Sometimes I do want to react. I want people to stop asking me if "the brown baby" is mine; but all in all, most people aren't looking to offend or hurt, so I try to take it in stride.
I continue to work on these issues inside myself. I want to be sure that my children see a response that shows that I love them as well as have respect for the person asking or commenting. I just love my babies, I want them to feel loved and accepted. All of them, to be loved and accepted. I want them to know they are protected and loved, in my words and actions.
Yes, I still have some of those same thoughts as the early days of the Ethiopian adoption, wondernig what tomorrow will bring. But, overall life is moving along. Some days we encouter a little more difference than other days. I look for those people who love and accept us for who we are. I lean on those who appreciate our uniqueness and what we have to offer.
I cannot say often enough how humbled I am by the support, love and prayers from our friends and family who continue on this journey with us.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
With our Ethiopia adoption, I felt that God had blessed us to expand our family. We would be blessed by the growing of our family. I would find out later I would learn so much from our journey and time in Ethiopia.
With this adoption the level of divine intervention doesn't start or stop at a leading to grow our family. I guess, a lot like the first adoption, it wasn't this huge desire and sadness about not having more children, just a glimpse every once in a while that made me wonder if there wasn't something in my family that was missing. (A reminder, this blog is from my perspective, Trent and the kids had equal and substantial input, these were not decisions I made on my own - I just share my perspective, because the rest of my family is able to speak for their own experiences). So with this adoption, it was first a desire to add at least one more. Then the pieces just started coming together.
Back in an earlier post I explained how we found these girls (found, like it was chance??? I think not). Since then we've experienced the following:
*The fastest home study we've ever heard of. In case you are wondering, we got that home study to approve us for 3 children up to age 9. We know we are only bringing home 2... but there was something that made me insist that we needed to have it written for three kids. Maybe one will stow away in my luggage???
*The fastest background check we've ever heard of (and for those of you who know that you can buy any background check on line for just 9.95, that's not the kind of background check we are talking about here). Just minutes after we were told it would be another 3 weeks for the approval, we received notice that we were approved.
*Since we already had our eye on these beautiful girls, our wait from approval to referral was, ohh, ummm, about 3 hours (we have friends who have been waiting 12-18 months for their matches in other programs).
*Our tax return check is on it's way. Total amount of the return equals the cost of one sibling adoption from Ghana, PLUS $172.00. - I keep wondering what God has in mind for the $172. I'd like to think it will somehow be the cost of upgrading to first class seats on our return from Ghana - If you have any idea the cost of adoption, you'll realize how amazing it is that our return is only $172 different (and in excess) from the amount needed.
* Then after very carefully and diligently ensuring all of my US Gov't paperwork was accurate. I realized 10 days after submitting it that I made a mistake. WHAT??? Oh, but I emailed the "Orphan Officer" at the Department of Homeland Security and he essentially told us no problem. Our paperwork was updated and on its way to its next destination. Really??? I've heard horror story after horror story about this department, and just 'no problem'? OK.
* It appears as though I am eligible for some funding to do some volunteer/missions work while I am in Ghana. (So extra money to help pay for the plane ticket!!!)
* By some crazy "chance" (seriously note the sarcasm here, chance is such a joke, no one has this kind of "luck" just a direct line of faith and blessings)... chance it looks like Trent has made a plan to change his work schedule so that I probably can stay in Ghana as long as my job will allow.
* Upon return from Ghana, as a family of seven, Trent's businesses are at a state that allows him to work "normal" hours and be home every evening with me and the kids!!!
* As a side note, I also have a "partner in crime" to do my MBA with (that is a huge comfort for me, to know I will have someone to buddy up with to stay focused!)
*Oh wait this was about adoption... did I mention these are the most beautiful children I could imagine. I've seen video and received report, beauty on the outside and the inside!
* As you know I've gained rockstar status through this, and so I feel a bit like Madonna, so though I have had zero seconds to watch any TV, I understand she is in the news because of something with adoption. Sister Madonna, if you are out there reading my blog (and I think you are)... no need to create all the drama, you're already a rockstar. (no offense or jabs indented, I don't know her story.)
In any case I can't take any personal credit for the ease and success up to this point in this adoption. I am a pleasantly please by-stander - grateful and humbled by the willingness of those around me, blessed and orchestrated by God.
Faith. It's faith I am learning through this adoption. The process, the people, God.
I found this quote and I was drawn to it:
"His teaching ability, his example and most importantly, his unshakable faith and optimism inspired us all. Most of you don't know that it doesn't rain on a Tony Dungy practice. Terre Haute or Indianapolis could be up to its ankles in water, but it doesn't rain on a Tony Dungy practice. It wouldn't have rained in Miami (at the Super Bowl) except that I'm sure Tony and God talked about it and said it would be OK." -- Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian.
1. I did my online orientation for my MBA. It's getting closer.
2. I am arranging to do some volunteer work while I am in Ghana. I may stay a little longer than I originally thought.
3. The kids are signed up for soccer for the summer (even little Tamene).
4. It looks like our court date could happen this month. If things continue to move at warp speed I might be in Ghana in late May or early June.
5. The girls' welcome bags have been sent to WA. Another traveler will be taking our things to the girls. When they receive the welcome bags, then they will know that they have a family waiting.
Hmmm, it seems like there should be more to list with everything going on around here, but I guess those are all the related updates that I have. - Maybe it's just that I am out of practice with making lists :-)