Sunday, June 26, 2011

They Fit!

The new shelves are done. Both of our vehicles now fit in the garage without having to do the little side step and squeeze dance to get around. One step closer to having our house ready to triple in population!

I Will Just Apologize Now

I have listened to so many women talk about nothing but their children. And its now official... I am now one of them. As we get ready to change from a family of 2 to a family of 6, it seems to be the focus of so much of my time. I am trying to remain "normal" but this seems to be sucking me in like a vacuum. But I must admit, it is fun. We have looked forward to this for such a long time. While I do need to have other things in my life, I do feel like I am entitled to enjoy this just as every other woman gets to enjoy the anticipation of her baby's arrive as he grows in her tummy. So I will try to keep my head on in the coming months, but I can already tell you now that I am going to fail often. So I will just apologize now to all of you.

I'm Not Telling

I have shared a lot about what we might expect when bringing our kids home. But as the theoretic transitions to reality, my words will become more edited. I look forward to sharing their cute stories but I have no intentions of opening up their fears, hurts, and most personal information in such a public forum as a blog. If I knew someone who was considering adoption, I would certainly be willing to share more (on a one-on-one basis) in order to help them as others have helped me. I hope that I will be successful in finding this balance of helping other's learn, sharing my anticipation and joy, and respecting the privacy of our babies-to-be. I am so pleased that so many people are interested to follow our journey and I feel the need to explain why I would suddenly start holding back in how much I share.

This is part of an article that I recently read which I thought was very good:

Adoptive parents struggle with the public/private nature of adoption all the time. They are challenged to balance their family's sometimes obvious public status as an adoptive family with the privacy of the family's individuals. Most adoptive families are proud of their families and want to present a positive attitude about adoption to others, particularly their children. The precarious task for adoptive parents is to be open enough about adoption that their children don't see adoption as a secret or as something to be ashamed of, while at the same time taking care not to compromise the right to privacy of everyone involved. So, even as they're trying to protect their children's privacy, adoptive parents are also trying to normalize adoption for their children and for others around them.

An important reason that parents try to control the dissemination of their chldren's information has to do with the fact that the child himself, particularly a young child, often does not yet know all of his own personal information. Parents are responsible for safeguarding facts about the child's life for the child until he or she is of an appropriate age to hear it. If the child's information becomes too commonly known, adoptive parents risk the child hearing things before he or she is ready. One adoptive mother tells of her daughter learning she had biological siblings in a very abrupt way, when another sibling used it to wound her in an argument. The parent had intended to discuss this under gentler circumstances, and when she felt her daughter was ready to hear it. This mother wished she'd been more careful about sharing her daughter's personal information with others, even within her own family.

link to the full article

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How We Found Them

I have a friend from high school whom I dearly love. We were so close as kids. Unfortunately we don't live in the same state anymore. We don't talk as often as either of us would like; life just gets in the way. But Facebook does help us stay current on each other's lives. Erin is the kind of friend that when you do talk it is like no time has passed. We pick up right where we left off. We seem to always understand each other's hearts.

At some point in mid-May, Erin saw a friend (whom I don't know) post on Facebook about a sibling group of 4 in need of a family. This friend of Erin's had adopted in the past and was in tune with the current goings on of her old adoption agency. Erin told me that when she saw this post she didn't think too much of it. She knew that we were waiting for a referral from our agency in their Ghana program.

On Friday May 27th, Erin's friend posted again that there was a sibling group of 4 in need of a forever family. This time she felt completely compelled to let me know about this. Now I have had multiple friends tell me about these kids or those kids available from here or there, trying to be helpful. So when I got her text, my first reaction was to brush this off. But very soon I was looking into this. I sent this new agency a request for more information and I got a call back very quickly.

Josh and I then spent the next 10 days thinking, praying, discussing, praying, fasting, praying and talking. These kids meant changing agencies, doing a bunch more paperwork, and doing another education plan (we had already completed WACAP and Hopscotch's education plan). This change involved leaving approximately $3,000 on the table with Hopscotch which was in accordance with their policies which we signed, but was painful none the less. Honestly, it was difficult to focus on God during all of this.

We have not chosen the easy route here. If we had not felt called to look for 4, we could easily have a referral for 2 by now and very possibly have had them home already. If we had just stuck with our first agency our process would have been easier and shorter and less stressful. It is so very difficult to be quiet and listen to God.

After those 10 days we said "yes". We are currently doing more paperwork. Completing an application, signing contracts, writing checks, putting together a dossier. I am hopeful that we will have this aspect done in the next week or two. Everyone says that the waiting at this point is the hardest. I am just looking forward to knowing that we have done everything that we can do on our end. I am hopeful that I can let go and trust God from that point. In the meantime we are preparing our home. Last weekend we bought a used Escalade which seats 7 passengers. Now I need to build more shelves in our garage in order to get all of our junk off the floor so that the Escalade fits in our garage. There are so many things left to do but it felt great to check this one off the list.

Please pray for:
- Our kids' health
- Our kids' safety
- Patience for us as we wait for the day that we first get to meet our children

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Change of Plans

We had been waiting to find our kids in Ghana for a little over 6 months now. And then suddenly a change of plans. Was something wrong with Ghana? No. Was something wrong with Hopscotch Adoptions? No. So why the change of plans? It's very simple, we found our kids! But they were not in Ghana after all. They are in Ug@nda. It is fair to say that we have searched the world over for these precious children. I would love to share every detail that we have with you, but it is not appropriate to do so at this point. I will however answer the top 3 questions that we have been getting so far:
  1. Are they siblings? Yes
  2. How long have they been orphans? Are they orphans? This is information that we are going to save just for them. It is their story. Many parents choose to share this information. And we might someday. But our thinking is that we can always share this later, but once you share it there is no un-sharing that can be done. So if you have asked this, know that it is a common question but don't be offended by our choice to not answer.
  3. Do they speak English? We have no idea. Probably not but this is so low on the priority list in my mind. It's so low on my priority list that it kind of makes me chuckle. I have a B.A. in Linguistics so the process of language acquisition is not intimidating to me.
So we are starting to kick into preparation mode. We are planning to meet with someone this weekend to hopefully buy a used 7 passenger SUV. We are going to need 1 car seat and 3 booster seats! I will need to practice my braiding skills even more as I will need to get very, very, very good at it. The closets need extra shelves to maximize the space. We will need a bunk bed. I want to move the 2 twin beds that we currently have into the other room because the bunk bed will fit better in that room. Thankfully I don't know the kids' sizes yet so I can't do any clothes shopping just yet. :)

We expect that we might bring our kids home in fall or winter. The timeline varies a lot so it is difficult to say. When the time comes, we will need to make 2 trips (the first one for 3 weeks and the second one for 1 week) or 1 longer trip of about 6 weeks. At this point we don't know which option we will choose.

I will tell you soon the story of how we found our kids!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Roller Coaster

Not too far from us, there is a decent sized theme park. Their biggest and fastest roller coaster is named Aftershock. It is the kind that harnesses you from above so that your legs dangle. Just before the ride really begins the floor drops out from under you.  It then takes you straight up at a 90 degree angle to the earth so that you are looking straight down. Then the machine lets go and you plunge straight towards the earth. You then fly past the crowd waiting for their turn and up for several loops and twists until it then takes you up in another 90 degree angle to the earth, this time you are looking straight up. It pulls you up further and then the machine lets go and you fly through the whole thing again, this time backwards.

Now I am terrified of heights. We are talking hysterical screaming, a complete loss of sanity, kind of terror. If suddenly faced with a view of a long, or even a short, drop off, I will freeze dead in my tracks. The other alternative is that I will go flailing in the other direction without regard for what is in that opposite direction. It has nothing to do with logic. Although I can give you a long list of reasons why a person should be adverse to heights!

Going back to our local theme park, I have been on Aftershock multiple times. I like the idea of the thrill of the ride. I hate the idea that at the age of 31, I am too old for that kind of stuff. I don't like thinking that I am a chicken. Every time I have gone on this ride it has gone like this:

We stand in line and at first all is well. As we get up to the front of the line the adrenaline starts to kick in... to the point that I feel a little nauseous. But I see a 9 year old kid standing ahead of me who is so excited to get on the ride and so I think to myself "if he can do this I can do this." As the gate opens I go over to my little butt landing pad. Its not exactly a full seat, more of just a place for your butt to rest while your legs dangle over the edge. The very moment that I buckle myself in I think "oh my! what have done!" I start to consider unbuckling and bailing out of this ill thought plan. But then I just envision myself getting half way unbuckled when the ride takes off and getting drug along with the ride until I finally come completely loose and fly through the air before slamming into the ground. At this point a kid comes by to make sure that my belt is on properly. In the 1.3 seconds that it takes him to tug on my belt I find myself thinking "are you old enough to drive?! you are the one they are trusting with my safety?! what are you checking for?! do you even know what to check for?!" Then the floor drops out and the ride slowly begins to move. At that point I am excited, glad that I didn't chicken out, and looking forward to the wild ride. I'm thinking "I can do this, I can do this, I think I can, I think I can." The giant machine begins to pull the contraption up that 90 degree incline. Slowly slowly slowly it inches upward. And then it locks into place. "Oh what have I done?! this was a bad idea?! why did I do this again?!" And then it comes, the moment everyone has been waiting for, the ride begins. With a sudden rush of movement, we are catapulting towards the earth, past the crowd, up into the air, up in a loop, twist in a twisty loop. The whole thing feels completely out of control. And yet I am firmly in place, following the path designed by the maker of this wild ride.

I have been told that adoption is a lot like a roller coaster. I always envisioned that this meant one of those old school roller coasters. The ones that take you up an incline and then down a steep slope over and over, with no loops no feet dangling no falling backwards towards the earth at a pace equivalent of falling to your death. I'm not an expert in all things adoption. I can only tell you about our experiences. No, our adoption is not that kind of roller coaster. It's a lot more like Aftershock.

For 12 years we have planned to adopt. We stood in that line waiting until everything was ready. When the time came, we looked at different agencies and different countries. We were about to board this ride and it started to feel a little scary. What if we picked the wrong agency or the wrong country? We moved forward and committed to our first agency and our first country (Ethiopia). We had buckled in. We changed to our second agency and our second country (Ghana). The ride began to move, slowly. With every decision came a thousand questions. Are we doing the right thing? Are we looking in the right place? How many kids? What ages? What medical conditions are we open to? Are we ready for all this? 

Now we are at a point where we are making decisions and the ride is about to really start. I'm not ready to share the details of these decisions just yet. But yes, it is exciting. I can tell you that it feels a little like the start of the roller coaster, during that first free fall. It is a wonderful feeling. But it is also a very scary feeling.

So what is so scary? Is it the fear of bringing children home? No, that's not it. Don't get me wrong, we know we are jumping into the deep end of the pool. We have been to the classes, read the books, and talked to those who have lived it. We have heard plenty of the worst case scenario stories. And we know that knowing all of that is still not the same as really being there.

So what is so scary? It is the fear of getting our hearts broken. What if I fall in love with these little faces and then it doesn't work out? What if it falls through? This isn't just a little scary. It's a lot scary. We are talking about putting it all out there and risking excruciating pain. There are no guarantees in this process. But there is a whole set of questions on the other side of this. Are we not willing to experience God's great plan for us because we are too scared to walk down His path? Is God not the great Healer of all things, including our hearts? So we move forward and trust God to catch us if we fall.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


In high school I could french braid my hair without a mirror, products, or comb. I could do a double pig tail braid but for that I did need a mirror to make sure that I got the middle part right. If we have African daughters, I am going to have to do lots of braiding. Thankfully there are blogs out there where they give you detailed step-by-step instructions on everything from how to properly wash hair to how to braid different styles to what products to use. I have been reading two of them regularly for at least 6 months now. One is called Beads Braids & Beyond and the other is Happy Girl Hair. While we wait for our kids, I have been working on relearning to braid my own hair. I figure it is good practice. This is a picture of my current skill level.

Friday, June 3, 2011


I have learned many things along this path to adoption.

I have learned that adoption is way more difficult than I ever imagined. Everyone thinks that the paperwork is the hard part. Wrong! It's the decisions. Deciding when to adopt, from where, what ages, what medical conditions you are open to, how many, who to trust, which agency, and which children are yours. The decisions are mind boggling. Trust me, the paperwork is the easy part!

I have learned patience. Okay, I have learned a little patience. But it's much more than I had before this journey began. I have learned that fastest is not always best. (Even though I do still prefer it.)

I have learned to pray like I have never prayed before. We are talking on your knees, crying, begging for answers kind of prayer. Never do you talk so clearly and so directly to God as when you are the most desperate for His guidance.

I have learned to truly appreciate the prayers of others. So many words of comfort like "It will all work out" or "God's timing is perfect" fall hollow on the ears of a PAP (Prospective Adoptive Parent). I finally learned what that acronym stands for just yesterday! :) But the words "we are praying for you" do bring true comfort like absolutely nothing else can.

I'm a little fearful to think of what else I might learn before this process is over. But I have no doubt that it will shape me as a person.