Saturday, May 30, 2009
*If you are hungry, ten minutes can seem like an hour.
*If you are waiting in line for a drivers license 45 minutes seems like a full day and requires a nap.
*I am pretty sure there isn't a relative analogy to waiting to meet your daughters in Africa.
It's the closest I can come to understanding words like forever or lifetime, infinity or eternity. The interesting part is that I am only 3-4 days from seeing their faces. If I had 3-4 days to turn in a big project or plan for company, it would be a flashing second...how is this possible? And when that all overwhelms me I turn to a recent fortune cookie quote "a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step".
Once I enter infinity of time and When I See Her Face, hopefully she lets me hug her and hold her and smell her! I hope she lets me love her!**
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed Proverbs 16:3
**I am not sure if I covered this in the blog before... but the title of the blog came only when I thought we might adopt again, and I thought we might adopt a girl. Little did I know there would be more than one beautiful face for me to fall in love with. But they are not one, they are two. Two separate individuals and now it is only a few short days When I See Her Face. Each child a unique and special gift and blessing!
Friday, May 29, 2009
I walked into a Hallmark Store tonight, and I spent the next 20 minutes chasing my heart around the store. Somewhere in the last year my heart learned how to literally beat it's way right out of my chest. I have a visual of it... it's a cute little plump heart with chubby little arms and legs. And when it gets super excited it runs out ahead of me and turns around and waves... then runs again!
Hallmark, a store of sisters, moms, family, husbands.... it's like its own little world in there. Every positive childhood memory, and every beautiful anticipation of my future family popped into the frames. Each frame with a saying that perfectly matched some memory or dream I have.
I do love a good quote, and wish I had more time lately to peruse some inspirational quotes. Hallmark had this little quip to offer:
Dream with all your heart
Hope for every moment
Love with no regret
It just seems like a nice saying, until you read deeper into it. Dream with all your heart: my dreams are "save the world" kinds of dreams, "create world peace" kind of dreams, "nothing is impossible" kind of dreams. I often feel sad for people who don't know they have the power to change the world.
Hope for every moment: Hope for the best, glass is half-full, or full and running over. I am all about assessing risk, but have HOPE, hope for the best. Create hope in every moment. It's hope or it's nothing. What's the point of any given moment if it lacks hope?
Love with no regret: If you have an opportunity to love, love BIG. Love big. So what if you embraced something imperfect or if the love changes. Love, love in that moment changes everything. A moment to give or receive love is a gift that cannot be exceeded. ... the greatest of these is love. The greatest is love... the greatest.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
(take note this is an excellent opportunity for those of you who are pray-ers, to pray for a court decree!)
For today I am having faith that I will have a court decree by Friday. I will leave on Monday and file the necessary paperwork in Ghana next Thursday. But that is all subject to change based on the arrival of the court decree (which, by the way, makes the official statement that we are their parents - the judge said so, but without a sheet of paper, I cannot take next steps).
As you can see there are many variables that could change things, so I am going to out line the "normal" or "anticipated plan" here... as for Ghana and God, there might be another plan in store, but it has not yet been revealed to me.
I plan to arrive in Ghana on June 2 and leave from Ghana on June 15. It is likely that I will not be bringing the girls home with us on this trip. The expected process is that I would return home and wait 4-6 weeks for processing of paperwork before returning to Ghana to bring the girls home. (We are still waiting on a passport for Eden, so that is also a barrier to getting the girls home).
Angelisa is traveling with me on trip #1, Trent and I will travel together on trip #2.
Again, this is just the anticipated plan! God willing this will only be one trip! Yes, I do believe in miracles.
Yes, yes, yes, we are so excited. Angelisa and I are very excited to take this trip together and to bring love!
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Many people ask me about the adoption process. Frankly, no matter what I say, the description below is more accurate than the mumbo-jumbo I offer that includes terms like I-600 or referral, or 171-Hs. The post below is a technical as you want to get unless you are inside the process of adoption!
This post is for Ethiopian Adoptions, though pretty similar for other adoptions as I have heard!
Ethiopian Adoption in 52 Easy Steps
1 Fill out questionnaire.
2 Send check.
3 Fill out big questionnaire.
4 Send another check.
5 Get interviewed.
6 Get fingerprinted twice.
7 Write check.
8 Apply for Visa.
9 Write big check.
10 Get more fingerprints.
11 Get copies of every official certified thing ever written about you or files on your behalf.
12 Get your friends to write nice things about you.
13 Get them to write more and different nice things about you to put into the file.
14 Wait forever for the INS to figure out you aren't a terrorist training camp for toddlers.
15 Send another check with your completed file you've copied 9 times because you want to be sure.
16 Send everything to the agency and hope that this is NOT the one package they lose today.
18 Wait some more.
19 Cruise the boards to find out who's getting referrals.
20 Worry that maybe you picked the wrong agency.
21 Wait some more.
22 Get Referral!
23 Send last check.
26 Check prices for airline tickets.
27 Get shots.
28 Check Passports.
29 Check on Visas for Ethiopia.
31 Get a court date!
32 Worry you won't pass court.
33 Blame everyone and everything for anyone not passing court.
35 Pass Court (or not, skip back to 32).
36 Panic some more.
37 Finish the kid's room.
38 Buy more toys.
39 Panic some more.
41 Get second round of shots.
42 Wonder why there are 6 pages of things you MUST pack for a 10 day trip.
43 Wonder if ANYONE ever packed that much.
44 Wonder how anyone did and STILL brought things over to donate to the program (feel guilty you couldn't bring more).
45 Meet your child.
46 Joy, mixed with panic because all of the your fears and doubts and everything else are staring you down and sizing you up.
47 More bureaucracy.
48 Travel back to the USA with a child that thinks he's just been kidnapped.
49 Kick yourself for not test installing the car seat before you left.
50 Home. Sleep. Panic.
51 Read your child his first bedtime story (that he still can't understand because he doesn't speak English).
52 Realize that it was all worth it.
Monday, May 25, 2009
It's not uncommon for me to have so many words that I am ready to say that I can't get any out. It's like a bottle neck, they are all fighting to get out at once, so then nothing comes. I am forced to take deep breath and wait for one train of thought to make its way.
Today things are stuck much deeper. In the pit of my stomach. Happiness, sadness, worry, love, anxiety. They are all so big and that lump in my throat won't let them pass. They are all just spinning with no way out.
And then the dam starts to leak and a tear releases one worry and then another fear. One at a time.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
As usual, you heard it here first!!
Since I am leaving in 14 days, my focus is on packing and filling out final paperwork. I am sorry I can't contact you all directly (yes even the closest family is hearing it here first!!)
This is trip one of two.
More details in upcoming posts.
p.s. I am most grateful for those of you who are willing and offering to assist. We are taking people up on offers :-) If I haven't taken you up on an offer, it's only because I haven't found the time yet~
Love to all
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Mom, do you want to go to Ghana and meet our girls and then have to leave them there? (keep in mind this question is because we will likely have to make a second trip to bring the girls home)
No girl. No I don't want to go to Ghana and meet our girls and leave them there.
(boy that kid has a heart!)
Friday, May 15, 2009
"Momma look" (I'm looking)
"Momma watch" (I'm watching, yes all three of you at one time)
"I have to go potty" (No you don't, you just went)
"No I don't have to go potty" (Oh, yes you do!)
"I didn't do it" (I am sure you didn't)
"Mom, he's tattling" (Time for a story about a pot and a kettle)
"Mom she's annoying" (I didn't know little kids even knew that word)
"I am hungry" (You just ate)
"I don't like that" (You'll eat it if you're hungry)
"I NEVER get to do ANYTHING" (Me either!)
"You NEVER buy me ANYTHING" (That's what Grandma and Grandpa are for)
"She ALWAYS get EVERYTHING she wants" (That's because I like her more - oh, c'mon I would never even think that one)
Seriously kids are non-stop humor if you can take yourself out of the picture for a moment.
Trent went to a movie tonight and in 2.3 seconds the kids were asking to sleep with me. Is there an Olympic event I can sign these kids up for? They are fast.
I was thinking the other day how we have such innovation and amazing solutions to solve some of the simplest problems. I mean how complicated was is to use a piece of tape to hold up a note - now we have posty-notes (I like to call them that, thank you very much). And thank heavens for Snuggy, you know how vexing a problem it is to have a blanket without arm holes!! Don't even get me started on glue sticks.
But here I am driving down the highway in the mini-van. And who are we trying to kid, there is nothing mini about a mini-van. The kid in the back seat is touching the seat of the kid in the middle seat. I am in the front seat, the equivalent of two football fields away from the offending child while the car is moving at 70 mph down the road!
"Touching".... there is no solution to this problem. Oh, I can pull over. Oh, yes I can, and I have. I can make them walk, and I have. But I cannot possibly continue driving at 70 mph and make the touching stop. Ya, ya, I could lay the smack down (boy that is a dumb saying). But frankly I find it entertaining that they can pester each other in such a basic way. I mean, I really have two choices. I can be come frustrated and angry, or I can laugh about it. Maybe that makes me a less than perfect parent. But whatever land perfect parents live in, someone has an invention that prevents "touching" and would be considered legal in the lower 48.
So pondering things like this makes me laugh.
It makes me laugh that Tamene has been home just over 6 months and not only can he speak pretty good English, but the kid can spot the Golden Arches a mile away. Which brings me to note that the other thing he can spot a mile away is any place that sells donuts... in Tamene speak is said "dough NUT" not with the accenton the second syllable, no, with a shout on the second syllable! I have just decided that this horrible addiction is single handedly caused by Trent. The first food Trent offered him in the US was a Dunkin' Donut ( I, by the way was essentially bathing in the DC airport bathroom because a 17 hour flight is not very hygienic - apparently when you are jet lagged an airport bathroom can appear hygienic).
I do love being a momma... it is a tiring job though, so off to bed I go!
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
If you are a bit of cynic like me, you are pretty sure that you aren't going to die from Swine Flu and you are even more confident that media is trying to pin some guilt trip on Americans about the starving children of Africa. Maybe you aren't a cynic and all of this worries you or breaks your heart. Good! Good that you have not be hardened by the media.
What I saw in Africa changed me. There are THAT many children living in THOSE conditions. Now, when I see an advertisement or video that says 1 in 10 children in Africa die before age five... I am reminded of what I have seen. When I hear about the 10 million orphans, I feel it in my heart. It's real. It's not a made for TV movie, and I am ashamed that I ever thought so.
That's all I have to say about that... just that what I heard from the media before is so much different than what I hear now. My heart has opened and I hear with new ears.
On another note, I just want to follow up on this post and yesterday's post to say that I am not adopting to save the world. My reason for growing my family isn't about "saving" someone or having "pity" or even "doing the right thing". It's not. I don't feel any kind of obligation or duty to adopt these children. I happened to fall in love, and my heart will not be happy until these girls are under my wing. With that said, I wish I could save the world. I wish I could kiss every orphan good-night. I wish I could give them food and safety, every last one of them. My love for my children is not out of my passion for orphans, my passion for orphans is out of the love for my children, for all children.
There is no other motivation for me to bring these children into my family, than to love them. And, God willing, for them to love me!
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I also want to preface this with the fact that I am not judging here. I am not. If you feel judged, you are choosing to feel it on your own (or being affected by a higher power than my silly little opinion). This is not meant to be a guilt trip, it's my heart. This is what is in my heart.
Do you know what happens to some children who are in orphanages around the world? Some are loved and cared for. Some are fed well and someone sings them to sleep. Someone teaches them to pray and someone knows their potential. Someone in the orphanage, sneaks them a bedtime snack, someone shares their heart with an orphan. An orphan living in an orphanage might have someone who loves them.
But for other children, there is fear and silence and loneliness. For some, an orphanage is a cold and lonely place. Maybe they don't even know what love is. No one tucks them in a night, no one kisses away tears. No one. And that is heart breaking. Heart wrenching. Unfathomable.
Yet other children face abuse, and maltreatment, lack of food or clothing. Used as slaves, forced labor, prostitution and servitude. They might be exploited, married off as young children, or forced into the military.
So, when people ask me if adoption is a lot of work or if it costs a lot of money, I don't know how to answer that. When people say what an amazing person I am, or tell me what a special person I am. I don't see it that way.
In one hand a I hold some money, in the other hand the dreams of a child.
In one hand I hold excess of food and wants, in the other hand I hold the life of a child.
In one hand I have my American way of living, in the other a child, starving and cold.
What I do is a very small change for the world. It might be a big deal for the child, but that is for the child to decide, not me. Hopefully she grows up and just knows that I loved her, not feeling indebtedness to me for giving her the world. Not feeling guilt or liability for opportunity and privilege, but knowing I loved him and protected him and that he had the opportunity to pursue happiness. That's all I want them to know - I love them.
So if you ask me if adoption is a lot of work or if you ask me "how do you do it?", or if you tell me what a big heart I have, know that I don't hear you. I don't really hear your question. If you saw a child broken, starving and naked, would you walk by. No, no you wouldn't. So if you see these children, if they pull at your heart, do something. Adopt, sponsor a child, give to a worthy cause, volunteer.... and if you think, "I can't do any of those things", it is okay, because there is something even bigger you can do... Pray. I covet every last prayer I can get these days.
Love them. Pray for them. And if the opportunity finds it's way to your heart, then adopt, foster, give, or volunteer.
Above all, Love them!
Above all, Love them!
Above all, Love them!
Friday, May 8, 2009
One year ago, I was the mother of two children. I saw another child growing in my heart. That's what knew then. What know now is that a great love for all the children of Africa was growing. This post is followed by the comment I posted to my own blog six months later.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Growing in my heart
Maybe I am giving the issue about grief and loss more airtime than would be expected during the exciting time of adoption. But I am repeatedly shocked by the issues that brings children to be "relinquished" by their birth families.
I won't pretend that I know anything about why a mother here in the US makes the decision to create an adoption plan for her child. I am sure there are many, many very good reasons. I completely respect these women and the immense and unselfish love they demonstrate in creating an adoption plan. But I hope lack of health care isn't one of those reasons.
This morning I read an article about children's health in India. There was a statistic that shocked me regarding Ethiopia - Only 16% of children in Ethiopia under age five get health care when they need it. The article goes on to say that a child's chance of reaching its fifth birthday should not depend on the country of community where it is born. The full article can be found at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7389283.stm
I can't imagine, even for a moment, that I would have to look at my child and know she is very sick, and malnourished and that some basic food and medication would fix the problem but I can't afford or I don't even have access to it. My decision, as a mother, becomes - keep my child and watch her become more ill, or take her to an orphanage and "relinquish" her so that she can get her basic needs met. I can not get my head around this.
I have to get myself in the right place for this. I have to move beyond the grief and loss issue. I have to find a way to make this make some kind of sense. My child will need me to support him during the times he grieves and I have to make sense of this for both of us. His birth mother, who I now see as my sister, she wants that too. My sister is being brave and strong and doing what she thinks is best for her family. I think she would want me to do the same.
If I may comment on my "sister" for a moment. The brave woman endured childbirth without pain medication, she probably didn't even have access to a hospital. Her body may have endured the mutilation that can be accompanied by a child birth not assisted by a medical professional. She may be enduring long term physical problems from the laborious birth. Her under-nourished body doing everything possible to support the birth of this new soul, left her weak and ill. She may have even sacrificed her life for the life of this child. - I imagine her. She doesn't want pity just a family to care for and love this child. Provide a safe home with love and opportunity.
I don't take the responsibility of raising a member of our community lightly. Whether the child grew in my belly or in my heart, it's the most important contribution I can offer to the world, - a responsible, compassionate, contributing member of society. And teaching those traits to my children is the most important contribution I can give to them. And what's important to me is that I do it in a way that honors my parents, and in this case the mother of the child who is growing in my heart.
***** 6 months later
November 24, 2008 5:23 PM
In reviewing Tamene's paperwork it appears that the goverment papers were signed for Tamene to be brought into care at the orphanage. And on May 9th Tamene came into care at the orphanage.
My grieving coinsided with that of his first mother. Indeed Tamene was growing in my heart
Thursday, May 7, 2009
- Proverbs 25:25
Trent and I would like to announce the addition of 2 more children to the Peterson family!
Introducing Tirzah-Sylvia and Eden-Evelyn:
Thanks to all of you who have continued to keep these girls and our entire family in your prayers.
Thank you all for your love and support!
Love, The Peterson Band
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
These are the hands of my girls in Ghana!
Let a joy keep you. Reach out your hands and take it when it runs by.
-Henry Ward Beecher
The mind has exactly the same power as the hands; not merely to grasp the world, but to change it.
What this means is that in 12 hours, I will (could) officially be the mother of 5. This has been confusing some, so let me spell it out a bit: 3 here in the U.S. + 2 in Ghana = my 5 children. Really I could stop typing there, that's enough good news for one blog post.
But... THAT'S NOT ALL...
Yesterday we received more pictures of the girls... a lot more pictures.
Naven and Angelisa received passports today. This is good news since I am planning to taking Angelisa to Ghana with me.
As of 5pm Ghana time today, our court date is still "on" for tomorrow.
Today we received an email that was sent by someone in Ghana to those of us here waiting. A portion of the email was to us it indicated that the girls are so beautiful and excited to have a family.
(p.s. I haven't had time to call anyone and announce all this, so you get it here first!)
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
On another note, yesterday, I was talking with a friend of mine about these trips we take to meet and bring home our children. We had a good discussion about how these trips are for our children much more than they are for us. Maybe I am not there for me at all. I go to learn the culture, to be a better parent. I go to see the land so that I can share in the discussions with the children. I go to buy gifts that will be for the children as they grow to remind or teach them about the country that loved them first. And every photo I take is a thousand words about their country, and their life "before".
Ethiopia changed me in ways that I cannot describe. My "barely-scratched-the surface-attempt" in my first blog is like a looking at a weather map and knowing, "it's hot right here, windy right here, and there is a storm warning right here" That kind if information is nothing like the children playing in the sand on a warm beach, or the kite flying in the wind, or the family huddled together to fare the storm. I usually find that writing offers many dimensions to a story, but in the case of the lessons from Ethiopia, the writing seems to lack the ability to flex beyond any first dimension.
I wonder what Ghana has in store for me. I wonder what Ghana will teach me. And my girls, what is it that they will help me understand. I too am "nesting" in my soul, preparing for what is in store for me. Cleaning out any clutter and making room for what is important. It's good I have not been worried or anxious in preparation for the girls' home-coming. I think my trip to Ghana will require all the energy, focus and love I can muster.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
It was so beautiful to see all the children, working toward one goal. It was a big success...
I think I have mentioned before how we often pretend the girls are with us as we proceed through our days. Calling for all five children to wake up or to head to bed. Wondering what a drive-through experience will be like with seven people in the car. Today I watch the children moving around the stage, and for a moment I had a glimpse of the girls being there. The little one with her adorable smile, getting an extra laugh from the audience... the older one, her talent contributing to the success. Anyway, there they were, on the stage, for a just a moment. It was good to see them!
On a less dreamy note, a more reality based update. There are families coming and going from Ghana this weekend. We sent off more messages for the girls and we hope to see some new pictures soon. I am very excited to get some new information on how they are doing. These are my babies!
As life continues to be my teacher, and love continues to open my eyes... I have seen some new things. Or I have seen some of the same things in a new light. I was looking back in my journal and I found where I asked God that my heart would be broken for the things that break his heart. I have found that I have a much more sensitive heart in general. I believe that I see the sadness and joy of God's heart in many ways. I have this burning type of compassion for children. The funny part is that it is just a feeling. I am a very action oriented person, usually if something catches my eye then I need to run toward it. I am always running toward something. I love to have goals. I love to achieve things. I am equally happy being a leader or a willing servant. But for the children, just a heart for them. I am building love and compassion for every child. In the past you would have found me interested only in children who could demonstrate survival of the fittest. Only children who could hold their own. By the way, these were generally "naughty" children (and I say that in the most playful and respectful way). If the kids was loud and demanding, if the kid could convince another child to do it "his way", I was drawn to that child. I think some people are drawn to the shy child, the wallflower. Not me, I was drawn to wild and even out of control.
Okay, I'll admit it, I was bothered by those children who were meek and quiet. I thought they should "buck up". But now I feel total and complete love for every child. No matter what.
I am not sure why I am blogging about this. All I know is today, when I saw a glimpse of that dream of my girls performing on stage, I realized that they were all in my heart. All of those children. I am surprised that I don't feel the need to do some action based on my feelings. Well nothing new, and nothing right this second. I suppose to some people they would say I am doing something - I am adopting and growing my family. But to me that is different. That's "different', I don't know why or how.
My values and beliefs come with a certain set of "assumptions" that I consider realities.
One of those realities is that we only get one chance, we only get one life, we should make the most of it.
Not meaningless, running around like a chicken with your head "cut-off" , kind of life (I have a brief and disturbing childhood image related to butchering chickens, I don't know why I use this analogy). Anyway, one life, one chance to do it right. When I say "right" I don't mean without error. We all make mistakes. I mean, take action, do things. Change the world. Every day I look for ways to change the world in a big way and in those little ways that might just make some one's day better.
I also wonder if people who are afraid - those who are fearful of life or of being vulnerable... those who wonder if they are worthy... I wonder... what happens when they give. When they give to those less fortune and more vulnerable than themselves, what happens? It seems that it might bring relief. Is it possible then in my vulnerability that I could be healed by helping those more vulnerable than me? And I wonder what this means for those children that were/are meek and afraid.
So, in summary, a lot of random thoughts. I'll look forward to comments about my random thinking.
Friday, May 1, 2009
Seriously though, I just want my girls here NOW.
Ahh, I feel better. Thanks for listening.