Thursday, March 31, 2011

Not for the Faint of Heart

I've heard it said, many many times, that international adoption is not for the faint of heart. Having been through it once and attempting to embark upon it again, I can vigorously agree with the sentiment.

By the providence and grace of a loving Father, I have found myself surrounded on all sides with lots of folks who are supportive, encouraging, cheerleaders for my journey(s):
  • Folks who have been there and back themselves and have lived to share their tales of it all.
  • Folks who haven't done it themselves, but get me and get my heart for that little girl that God is holding in His hands for our family.
  • Folks who don't understand what we're doing or even why we are doing it, but love us and love God and are willing to throw their support behind us just because they believe us when we say this is God's calling for our Gang.
  • Folks who are willing to lay it all out there and share their stories, often for the SOLE purpose of glorifying God and giving a spotlight to HIS heart for the little ones who are waiting for a mommy and daddy to take them into their hearts. Forever.
For all of you folks, where ever you are on that list, please, go and read this story. It's a bit lengthy. It's a four-part series. But it's worth the read. It is SO worth the read.

For all of you folks who are waiting, like us, somewhere along the long, long journey that is international adoption, go read this story. You will be encouraged. You will be blessed. Your faith will be built up.

I know that Stefanie didn't intend this series to be anything more than sharing her journey and giving her great big God glory for being their All in All; but as I'm sharing it with you, my readers, I am feeling blessed beyond measure myself. I needed to hear this story. I needed to know that God isn't finished with The Gang yet. I needed to know that He hasn't forgotten my longing heart. He hasn't forgotten my solitary, quiet prayers.

In the last few months, I have often felt like Hannah at the altar of the temple. Circumstances that I can't control, time lines that weren't my plan, "checks" in our spirits that we don't understand (but have felt compelled to obey nonetheless), re-training of mindsets and habits in our home as we have learned more along the way. All of these things have added up to a delay in our journey to "mei mei" that has been hard for me to process. Hard for me to accept.

But posts like these listed above remind me that He is in it all. He is in CHARGE of it all. He has it all in His hands. Posts like these remind me that He is listening. That He cares even more than I do that "mei mei" come home in His appointed time. That He has connected me to folks who can and will be His Hands to me and His Ears for me when I need it most. That He has folks praying with me and for me, with Stefanie and for Stefanie, even if I don't know them or see them. That I am never alone on this journey to find our "mei mei." And I can't even tell you how loved and cherished that makes me feel.

Never underestimate the power of your support and encouragement AND YOUR PRAYERS for and over a family who has a call to adopt. NEVER.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fare Negotiation

Here's a snapshot of my typical Tuesday taxi runs, for the foreseeable future. I think I may need to start calling myself Taxi Momma instead of The Gang's Momma... I've become this silent, auto-pilot cabby that I don't think I even recognize.

7:15 a.m. - run Shaggy over to the local high school for his state mandated standardized testing (Yes, quietly and in my p.j.'s, in case you are wondering.).
Since he's a cyber-student this year, we had a couple options from which to choose for testing arrangements. This option involves 10 different mornings of running him there, sometimes for a couple hours, more often for only 45 minutes or an hour at a time. Now that I'm in the thick of it, I think we chose unwisely. The other option was three mornings, for the whole morning each time, at a hotel about an hour away. The Boss would have done those runs, and worked in the hotel lobby. Yeah, not my finest moment of clarity and choice. I must not have had my coffee yet when I opted for TEN early morning runs instead.
7:30 a.m. - run LadyBug to the local elementary school for Wind Ensemble rehearsal. (Yes, still in my jammies. And still very quiet. Don't judge me.) Since her concert is coming up soon, today is the last WE rehearsal. But in two weeks, they are moving band rehearsals to Tuesdays, so it's really no change for my tan cab.

8:00 a.m. - get Baby BlueEyes out the door on time for the bus.

8:40 a.m. - run BACK to the high school to pick up Shaggy. (I'm STILL in my jammies. Ugh. But at least the laundry has been started, the kitchen floor has been swept, and Li'l E got some breakfast. I am a little chattier. But not much. Again, no judging please. You know you do it, too!)
A large chunk of time at home allows me to blog, catch up on laundry (well, as catch'd up as any mom of five is ever gonna get?!), get Li'l E into some suitable clothes, shower, clean my room, my bathroom, and the kitchen up before lunch. Who knows, I might get crazy and even sit down to eat lunch with Li'l E, Dr. D, and Shaggy....
1:30 p.m. - get Li'l E down for her nap - whether she sleeps or not. Today. the break for us both is a must.

2:35 p.m. - run Dr. D over to the high school for his first home meet of the Spring Track and Field season. He's competing today in the long jump, triple jump, and possibly a sprint or two.

3:10 p.m. - get LadyBug and BBE off the bus, snacked up, wake Li'l E, and dress them all warmly for the track meet.

3:45 p.m. - head BACK to the high school (Woot! Woot! I get to use a different entrance this trip!) for Dr. D's track meet. The Boss is trying to meet me there - hope he doesn't miss this auspicious event for Dr. D's sake....
We had a major miscommunication and both The Boss and I thought the schedule listed today's meet as "Away," which would have significantly reduced the running around we have to do but now The Boss might have to dart out of a meeting and rush home to try to catch even at least some of the meet.
5:20 p.m. - head home with the littles, to change, eat and get geared up for their first real soccer practice/game of the season.

6:05 p.m. - The Boss will take LadyBug and BBE over to the field across town. I think Shaggy will hold down the fort here at home with Li'l E, since it will be quite chilly on the field by then.
At some point in here, someone will have to run BACK to the high school and get Dr. D, but since it's the first meet, we're not quite clear on what time that will happen. The soccer field is close enough that The Boss can leave the littles with their coaches if need be.
6:30 p.m. - I have to get out the door to Moms' Night Out. I have a built in excuse for HAVING to leave on time (alone!) and enjoy a night out: I lead the group that is hosting it!  :)

8:30 p.m. - The Boss brings the littles home for snacks and showers after soccer. Then he gets to put all three of the younger ones to bed.  And I won't come home till they are all asleep. First rule of Moms' Night Out, right?

9:20 p.m. - The Boss will fall asleep exhausted on the couch, thanking his lucky stars that he won't have to participate in the madness of The Gang's Typical Tuesday next week. He's going to a conference out of town for three days. (The busiest three days of the whole month of April, I might add. I'm NOT even kidding.)

10 p.m.-ish - I will come strolling in, temporarily energized by a night out with my friends. The blur of the day will have faded a bit with the consumption of yummy treats at P@ner@ Bread. Faded enough that I don't decide to go on strike and demand a rate increase immediately. The lure of the warm, quiet, dark bed is too strong. Striking at that late hour will be counter-productive, as the other parties with whom I could negotiate will be sleeping. All of them.  (I hope!)

But I seriously need to negotiate my fares.
I think I'm being grossly underpaid.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Snapshot

Ni Hao Yall

On Thursday, Li'l Empress had her first ever dentist appointment. Yup, big girl chair, full cleaning and everything. And I have to say, given how hard it can occasionally be for her to engage in and enjoy new experiences, this appointment was a pleasant surprise. For me, and for the dentist's whole staff. 

It certainly helps that both of the big brudders went first, showing her how it's done. And that they let her climb all over them, ride up and down in the chair, and boss them around a little bit. Even the hygienist got in on the fun, letting Li'l E help count Shaggy's teeth.

I could tell she was getting a little nervous when they told her it was her turn to climb into the big chair by herself. But in this instance, we worked the power of peer pressure for good - they cheered her on and made it a chance to gain their fist bumps and brotherly approval.

The cheesey smile is masking a touch of uncertainty.

The pretty purple bib just like her brothers' 
made transition a little more tolerable.

She was remarkably calm and even excited about showing off all her teeth and counting "ten on top" and "ten on bottom" with the hygienist by this point of the visit. She didn't mind the sticky scraper thingy in her mouth at all.  (I hate that thing but managed to mask my squeamishness, er, distaste, for the sake of the mission!)

Counting her little pearly whites . . . 

quickly moved on to polishing with "Mr. Tickle" and some
"awwwdum" berry toothpaste.

When the hygienist took a break and asked Li'l E if her teeth
were starting to feel clean and sparkly,
Li'l E said, "Ummmmm?  No, not reawy."

I'm not even kidding.

It went so well that she was positively IN CHARGE of the room. It got to the point that it was almost like her own one-man stand-up show.  In fact, she got so comfy with herself and her surroundings that she didn't even once ask for me. Shaggy was all about easing the situation - her "walking security blanket - and Dr. D was giving her funny things to say and positive self-talk to share with the hygienist:

 "Li'l E, tell the hygienist how awesome you are."
"I'm awdum."

Note the "awdumly" relaxed, chill pose.
(The fact that she crosses her legs while laying down like that
just totally cracks me up. Such a diva.) 

None of us knew what to expect - given her age, her dislike of anyone in scrubs, and her, ummm, well, her temperament. :) Let's just say, our pediatrician and his nursing staff earn every.single.penny. of every.single.visit. by the time Li'l E settles into acceptance of even a regular check-up. Between the gazillion questions about needles and band-aids and boo-boos (she's very uncomfortable with any sight of any of the three), the stubborn resistance to making eye contact with any of those scrubs-clad folk, and the constant requests for reassurance ("Mommy, I neeee you.  Mommy, you 'tay wit me?  Mommy, I neeee you."), the mere mention of the word "doctor" or "nurse" is used spaaaaringly by this household.

Again, it was one of the more pleasant surprises we've had with Li'l E and all things medical. And another happy milestone for our girl!

Click on the "awwwwdum" 
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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Glammin' Up Grandma's Dishes

This week, I made a dish that our whole family loves. My grandmother gave me the recipe once when I was a newly engaged college senior, visiting her for a long weekend. She had made it for me a couple of times on other visits and it's been a tried and true recipe for all the years since. I threw in some extra's this week and glammed up the dish a bit. Normally, I make it just as she dictated it and enjoy its simplicity. But this time around, I was feeling a little adventurous.

Give it a try, I'll bet your family will love it. Glammed up like I did, or stripped down to the basics - it's easy and tasty, and if you do it right, it's actually not too bad on your waistline either!

“Poor Man’s” Shrimp or Crab Alfredo
My Grandma Gert

1 lb.  frozen shrimp or lump crab meat
          (imitation crab meat is also tasty)
4-6 Tbsp. butter – I use EVOO
1-2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. parsley
1 (8 oz.) block of light cream cheese (non-fat is good too)
½ c. grated romano or parmesan cheese

Sauté the frozen shrimp or crabmeat in butter and add garlic (*and onions if you are so inclined).  Stir in oregano and parsley.

Add the cream cheese, cut up in chunks and turn the heat to low. Simmer this combination until cheese is thoroughly melted and creamy.

Add ½ cup of romano or parmesan cheese and stir through until melted and mixed well.  If sauce is too thick, add milk to desired consistency. If stronger cheese flavor is desired, try shredded parmesan in place or in combination with grated cheeses.

I also love to throw in extra nutrition via some (or this week, all!) of these add-ins:
·       ½ c. sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped (and drained if in oil)
·       ½-1 c. broccoli and/or cauliflower, steamed and chopped
·       ½ c. onions, chopped and sautéed with the garlic during the first step*

Serve over noodles of your choice that have been cooked and drained. We especially prefer this dish with shrimp that’s been grilled.  We like to serve it over spinach linguine or whole grain or veggie fettucine.

Serves 6 comfortably.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Now That's Some Good Reading, There...

So, somehow it has gotten all the way to Wednesday and I just now realized that I didn't post the couple thoughts I've been mulling over in my "drafts" pile of entries...

While I'm working on spiffing those up for ya, why don't you check out these couple gems I have found this week.

I appreciate the essence of what the author is getting at, and was especially intrigued by the comments that followed. It's also noteworthy that this particular batch of grown-ups could disagree on a couple things AND STILL ACT LIKE GROWN-UPS. How refreshing is THAT?  {Hat Tip to Tonggu Momma for the lead on this one!}

Kay Bratt is the author of Silent Tears, a book that is quickly becoming a staple in most China-adopting moms' resource list. Again, the comments that follow this particular post are quite interesting and worth checking out. I so enjoy hearing the perspectives of other adoptive parents in their journeys of parenting.

While I haven't had a ton of personal experiences like those that these two authors have obviously endured, I have had a couple. I tend to assume from the outset of these kinds of conversations that the person inquiring about our adoption experience is doing so out of true curiosity and that it is only their wording or phrasing that is troublesome. In most of my interactions with folks, I think I tend to assume things from a positive slant, which might be why I feel kind of slammed as I blabber to respond. But, as I respond, and learn better HOW to respond (you know, with those canned responses I mentioned here), I am also learning how to re-phrase the inquiry in a more appropriate way.

I know the above links are to some longer-than-normal posts, but for those couple of you readers who are the ones that kind of kindled my "so you want to talk about adoption" series of posts, I really think that the reading is worth the while. If you would be so kind, come on back and share your responses, ideas or feelings after you've read the posts. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Snapshot

Ni Hao Yall

This past Thursday, we had a day o' celebration
here at The Gang's Headquarters,
paying homage to our Irish
(and Irish for the day) roots.
Here's how the day went down, Gang style!

Two guesses which of my "hooligans" actually forked
over his own dinero to purchase and wear this little gem!

His favorite shirt, for St. Patty's Day or not, of all time.

A little green nail polish to honor the good Saint.
And to welcome the beautiful spring day.

Yummy Irish Soda Bread was the perfect
accompaniment to our hearty lamb stew for dinner.

We wrapped up the festivities with a green cake,
frosted in green and topped with green nuts.

And in the background, my Eden's Bridge worship tunes
mixed with some old Corrs
tunes to keep the house in the spirit all day long.

Shades o' green were all over the house....
Can you guess who is who?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Just Because We All Need a Little Happy

Huge hat tip to my friend, Comfy Denim, for sharing this. Since today was originally fore-casted to be rainy and dull all day long, has dawned really early here at The Gang's headquarters and appears to be a bright and springy Saturday morning, I thought I'd share this with you all. We all need a little happy at the end of a long week.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Mmmmmm, Brussels Sprouts!

Last week, I scored some beautiful, tiny, crisp Brussels sprouts at my local produce outlet. Had I known that the peak season of Brussels sprouts was wrapping up, I would have grabbed an extra bag.... I've never been great at tracking "peak seasons" of veggies, especially ones that my kids typically squawk about. But I had seen an interesting recipe in one of my magazines and it got my wheels turning.

I made them into a side dish (loosely based on a couple ideas from a couple sites that made things so much more complicated than I like to be in the kitchen!) that I just had to share with you all. It smelled so amazing and had some favorite ingredients in it, so I was pleasantly surprised to see the kids giving the dish a try. Not that they all loved it (and there were two alternate veggie dishes available to rescue them!) but they did give the dish a chance. A couple of them were actually won over by it.

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, rinsed, trimmed with visible mars or tough outer leaves removed
2-3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 sweet Vidalia onion, chopped
2 cloves (or more!) of fresh garlic, diced
2-3 Tbsp. cooked and crumbled bacon (I use the bagged stuff from Co$tco)

Steam the Brussels sprouts in the microwave till just tender. They should be tender to the fork and still fairly bright green. Make sure they aren't over-cooked and turning dark green. Drain well and set aside.

While the sprouts are steaming, lightly saute the onion and the garlic in the olive oil on medium heat. Be sure to use a pan deep enough to hold the Brussels sprouts when you do this!

Lightly salt and pepper the sauteed onions and garlic. Add the Brussels sprouts to the onion mixture and gently toss. Saute for an additional 3-5 minutes, with the heat raised up slightly. The sprouts should start to get lightly browned from the oil and the heat.

Add the bacon and toss gently to mix and bring it to the same temp. as the veggies. Do not overcook, though!

Serve with a dash of fresh, shredded parmesan if you have it.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I thought I'd share one of my favorite traditionally Irish hymns with you, in honor of St. Patrick's Day. It's simplicity and beauty never fail to move me. And it's an excellent prayer to meditate upon, no matter the day.

Be Thou My Vision
Mary Byrne, 1905

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011

I'm The Sucker

Our local elementary school hosted a huge event this weekend. Not really a fundraising event, but more of a "welcome to spring" and community-building activity. The "middle" kids have been bugging me for weeks to go over and check it all out. I relented, knowing that The Boss would be busy with the bathroom and the older boys had school-related activities. We had a morning to kill and this seemed to fit the bill.

As soon as we walked in to the gym all decked out for our "Spring Fling," I realized I hadn't thought this through very well. First of all, the event was in the gym and the adjacent cafeteria. High, cavernous ceilings. Open beams. Hardwood floors. Concrete walls. Metal rolling door and window coverings. Super great if you are into industrial decor. I mean, those steel beams and big bolts make a pretty chic statement if you are into that.

Not so great if you have hearing loss.

And the crowd. Oh, the crowd. Screaming, yelling, running kids of all ages. Parents shouting to be heard over the din of their children. Music blaring in one corner for a cake-walk game. Microphone bleating intermittently with announcements for the crowd. Popcorn machine popping. Beeps. Dings. Metallic and wood bumps and thumps as doors opened and closed.

Really not great if you have hearing loss.

But I gotta give my girl props. She did pretty well at hanging on to LadyBug's hand and trying to speak up over the din. Taking it all in, sticking really close (read: velcro close), and trying to enjoy the very close contact with all of LadyBug's SQUEALING! B!F!F's! who were SO! HAPPY! to see her.

Enjoying it, that is, until the Super Slide.

Rising high up to the vaulted ceilings of our gym, this blow up slide was the main event for the kids at the festival. Li'l Empress and LadyBug were totally hyped up about flying down it. Together. That is, until they got into the line and the rules were given. Each child must be able to climb up alone. And slide back down. Alone.  We know that Li'l Empress is quite physically CAPABLE of heading up and back down alone. She's very athletic. But would she?  No. STINKIN'. WAY. She was already GLUED to LadyBug's hip, with a "terror grip" and pinchy fingers. Go up alone? Apart from her security blanket of the moment, in the person of her big protective sister? Ha.  No, thankyouverymuch.

But when they got out of line and it hit LI'l Empress that saying "no" to climbing up alone also meant "no" to sliding down? Well, welcome to meltdown number one.

And remember, she's already employing most of her little three year old coping skills to handle the HUGE! AMOUNTS! of background noises. Seriously, I was starting to max out MY coping skills for the raucous roar around me. (Yeah, I was getting a little cranky and we'd only been there 1/2 an hour. Ugh.)

We thought maybe we'd have better luck at the MoonBounce.  We thought wrong. Apparently, there was a line for "big kids" and "little kids" - and Li'l Empress was having NONE.OF.THAT. To her credit, LadyBug was super encouraging and so sweet, trying to talk to Li'l Empress in cheerleader tones. "You can do it, Baby. You'll have so much fun."  She even pulled out the tricks and lines from Li'l Empress's favorite show, encouraging her to not be afraid to try new things.  No. DICE.

But again. When she realized what leaving the line meant for her future on the MoonBounce to play with sissy?  Welcome to meltdown number two.

Yeah. We were having fun now! On the up side, we've learned how to help Li'l Empress recover from the meltdowns more quickly. Distraction is a huge trick, we employ it regularly. For her hearing issues. For her three year old issues. For her baby of the family issues. Yeah. Momma's a big fan of the distraction technique. For her hearing issues, removing her from the room for a brief respite also proves to be regularly helpful. So I gave LadyBug a ten minute break to hang with her peeps and Li'l Empress and I walked out to the lobby and snuggled for a bit.

On the downside? There wasn't much else that intrigued Li'l Empress with quite the same degree of excitement as those two events at the festival. We didn't last long in the lobby because the draw of the bright colors and yet-undiscovered fun spots was oh, so strong.  So we did some wandering around and attempting to distract. Not much was working once we got back inside.

Until we found the Lollipop Tree.  Oh, the blessed Lollipop Tree.  For the cost of one tiny ticket, Li'l Empress got to stand in front of a tower of brightly colored suckers and PICK! ONE!  When we figured out just how distracting and exciting the LOLLIPOP! TREE! was to the Li'l Empress?  Well, we made up to that tree as if it was Santa himself. Nothing like a little ball of sugar on a stick to make things all better for my girl.

Leaving me to wonder.  Just who is the sucker here?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday Snapshot

Ni Hao Yall

Li'l Empress has developed a particular passion as of late.  A passion, that is, for pudgy pink pigs.

(How's that for some fancy dancy alliteration?! Despite my sleep-deprived, caffeine-suppressed state. Pretty darned impressive, I know.)

So, this passion includes stories about pigs. And piggie friends. Songs about pigs. Crawling around the floor on all fours, trying to snort like a pig.  Really. It's mostly very cute and often very funny. Our all-time favorite is when she tells us, in all seriousness, "Mommy,  an I gow up, I wanna be yike a piggy."

(Not so cute is when she tells me that when I grow up, I'm going to be like a hippapanamet.  Yeah. Most days, I already feel like one of them. Ugh.)

Anyway, this weekend, I took the kids to the local elementary school's annual spring festival.  There's another post coming on that topic. But I thought I'd share the two highlights of Li'l Empress's whole day with you for today's Sunday Snapshot.

The first highlight is courtesy of LadyBug. Having a little sister is a huge treat for her at this stage of her life. I mean, she gets to dress herself and Li'l Empress in the most fashion-forward styles of the day. Sometimes more than once a day, even. AAAAAAND, she has an additional real-live head on which to practice a gazillion different hairstyles all weekend long.  Behold, Li'l Empress's first real braids, shaggy and falling out because they all played so hard all day long. I actually couldn't believe that they stuck with one style all day long. They must have been so bored. Heh....

And here's the second, courtesy of the volunteer face-painters at the festival. NONE of whom, I might add, had a "piggy" listed in their portfolio of pictures they could or would paint on little faces. But when Li'l Empress asked so nicely and smiled so sweetly, yet another royal subject fell to her feet and complied. Seriously, this girl has half the youth group doing her bidding at our church. Now she's out to conquer the school community. What am I going to do with her?

Anyway, here is the royal piggy. Painted in cheery pink on her royal highness's kissable cheek.

Don't mind the stink eye she's giving you there. It's really directed at me. Because just before I snapped this shot, I had to inform her that the pudgy pink piggy would likely not survive the Saturday night shower routine. She was royally ticked.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

A Must Read, While We're Talking Adoption

I read a post yesterday that really made me pause and think again about what a blessing it is to be part of the adoption community.

Written by one of my agency friends (who, by the way, also founded the site upon which the post is featured), this thoughtful and tender essay about her daughter's birthday is an excellent perspective that all adoptive parents face in the midst of celebrating their child. I particularly love how she chooses honor. Go read it for yourself - you'll see what I mean.

And while you are there, surf the rest of the site. You won't be sorry. The various contributors and their stories are always so encouraging and enlightening to me.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Unfolding Path

*Edited: I couldn't take the boring titles anymore. They were totally bugging me. So. I re-named yesterday and today's posts. And I feel much, much better.

Go ahead, read on...

You know you've gone on too long with an answer when you have a part 2 (a) and (b).... I know, I'm appalled at the lack of creativity in my titling.  I can only beg mercy - it smells vaguely of carpet cleaner and anti-bacterial cleaning solution in here and I'm sure it's negatively affecting that creative lobe of my brain... 

"How Did You Know
What Kind of Adoption
Was Right For You?"

So, when someone is sincerely interested in trying to figure out what type of adoption is right for them and they want to know how we came to International Adoption as our answer, and then to the China program, and then to the Special Needs (a.k.a. Waiting Child) program, I try to share what we've learned along the way.  If you will remember, our "along the way" has been a long time coming, since I was in junior high (eons ago, I know!). So I've had lots and lots of years to poke around and answer this question for me. I'm hoping that this helps you at least start the process of finding the answer for YOU.

First, I think it's really important, if you are a family of faith, to seek the Lord and try to hear His leading for your family on the kind of adoption He may be guiding you toward. Spend time in the Word, seek the counsel of trusted advisors and mentors, read up on the stories of others in your faith community who have followed various adoption paths. Hopefully, you've come to this conversation already armed with at least that resource - hang on to it, it will hold you in good stead in the paths to come!!!!

Closely connected to hearing from the Lord is hearing from your family. Include your children (age appropriately) and your siblings and their families. Talk with your parents. Whether those folks are believers in the same vein as you or not, they are family. They know you best. AND, and this is a big AND, they will be family to the child that you choose to bring home. Please don't hear what I'm not saying: these folks can't make the decision for you, but adding to your family via adoption does directly and intimately affect them. And they might have some great insight to offer. At the very least, including them in the conversation acknowledges that you "get" that your choice(s) affect them and vice-versa.

Another really important thing to consider when seeking out the path that your future adoption might take is research.  Throw yourself into it. Attend open houses of adoption agencies. Pore over their websites. Take a class at your local Children's Services agencies. Go to the library and look for books on domestic adoptions. There are tons of different ways to adopt domestically - researching one method often opens up links and connections to other types of adoptions to be considered. The same is true for international adoption. Every country has a distinctly different "taste" to its program. Ask local agencies for referrals and speak to their clients. Make appointments to consult with the administrations of the different offices in your area. Word of mouth is probably the most common "referral" that an agency (both domestic and international) can offer, and is really worth tracking down. Talk to friends. You'll find yourself smack dab in the middle of a whole new community and a whole (sometimes overwhelming!) resource pool. Take advantage of it and take your time with what you are learning!

Whether you feel domestic adoption is the route you are heading or international adoption is for you, it all really depends on you doing your homework. You have to arm yourself with information. Once you've decided on what adoption road you will be traveling, well, that's just the beginning of the process of gathering resources and information for the journey. Often, in conversing with other adoptive parents, I've discovered that the actual path of domestic or international, (or non-special needs or special needs, "as young as possible" or older child adoption, etc.) all comes out of the PROCESS of deciding whether or not to even pursue adoption.

It's almost as if, once you have started the researching and informing of your family about the general idea of adoption as a means for building your family, the path of what kind of adoption often grows naturally out of that. That's not to say that this is how it works out for every family, but I've seen it and heard it over and over in so many families with whom I have connected.  It's as if there's something in the "should we or shouldn't we" that changes once you start digging in to the information that is out there. That's kind of how it happened for us.
For more details on our adoption journey, and how we got to our Li'l Empress, you can start reading HERE and check out the series of posts that flow from it.
When we were ready to start our adoption journey back in the winter of '06, I hopped on-line and started searching for local agencies that had informational sessions coming up in our community. By that point, we knew that the Lord was leading us to international adoption and we were pretty much only looking at nations in Asia. We were fairly set on China (again, because we had many years of thinking about adoption before we actually were able to start the process), but trying very hard to keep our hearts and minds open to other countries. A friend in the neighborhood knew we were interested in Chinese adoption and called to share about an informational meeting being held at her church.  We already had this agency's info packet on our stack, so we sent the kids to my sister's house for the afternoon and went to the meeting. It turns out, the session was being sponsored by a "support group" at this church for adoptive families. So, in addition to getting some really great information, we also made initial contacts with some other families that were living the life we felt God was directing us into.

The next time I share, I'll talk about picking an agency and our experiences with that process. Until then, jump in on the conversation. If you've already adopted, or are in process, how did you know what kind of adoption was right for your family?  If you are still thinking and wondering about adoption, what further questions does this (admittedly, very round-about) attempt at answering the question pose for you? What else are you thinking about?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Loaded Question

I know, I know, it's been a long time since I last wrote about the most common questions The Boss and I hear about adoption. If you read my last post, from Monday, you'll know that I have spent much of the last two weeks cleaning, anti-bacterializing, and running laundry. I'm fairly certain the last of the germs have been vanquished from The Gang's abode. So I'm going to try to jump back into intelligent discourse about the themes of adoption.

"How Did You Know
What Kind of Adoption
Was Right For You?"

We get this a lot, mostly from very well-meaning, simply curious folks.  I'll get to the answers I give to those sweet folks in a minute. If you will allow, I have a bit of a soapbox to step on regarding the "not-so-well-meaning" questions that I get. The ones that come with a barb or a dig.  You know the type. Whether it's about an adoption, or a parenting technique, or a choice of what car you bought, you have heard "the tone" in another's question. And you know how that made you feel. Even though it's not completely answering the posed question, I am really feeling the need to share this darker side of the "commonly asked questions" conversation. It's made me far more aware of how I question things, how I sound when I inquire in a conversation. Take it for what it's worth - my opinion borne out of my experiences...

Occasionally, we hear this question from folks who seem to have a bit of an agenda behind their words. Often, we can tell simply by their tone or their posture that there's "more" to their question than the simple words they've chosen to inquire. Often, the question comes loaded with the "With all the kids stuck in our state's foster and child services programs, why do you feel the need to cross the ocean and take one of their kids home?"  Spoken or unspoken. Or something like that.  An agenda. One that I'm still working to understand and prepare myself for - as I know it happens and happens often, especially when you are a more "conspicuous" family like ours. (By that word, "conspicuous" I only mean that it is fairly obvious when one sees The Whole Gang together that Li'l Empress is not biologically related to our gene pool.) 

So far, it's only happened to us on a few occasions. However when it does happen, I'm a tad embarrassed to say that I still don't have a good, prepared response for them. Growing up, my mom was GREAT at preparing a response to sticky situations and being comfortable saying that and only that.  I, however, am still working to acquire that particular skill. When I am in my groove, rolling along my day and a question like that comes at me, I get rattled. I blather on and sound defensive. Or uninformed and ignorant.

But here's some things I WANT to say. Some things I am working on rehearsing for those that come to the question of international adoption with a bit of a chip on their shoulder or an agenda at hand:

  • "We have always tried to be open to any kind of adoption that the Lord might lead us toward. But once we heard about the stability and accessibility of the China program, we knew in our hearts that that was it for us. It felt right."
  • "I know a lot, certainly not everything, about domestic adoption and for our circumstances, it didn't feel like the right answer at the time. I am open to learning more about it, should our circumstances change."
  • "I don't know, have you had much experience with domestic adoption? I'd love to hear your experiences and learn more about it."
  • "When researching the many different kinds of adoption, we just couldn't get past the way that we kept being drawn to the different Asian nations. China felt like the best fit."
Those are just some of the things that I think about when I feel as if our decision to seek out international adoption, and the China adoption program specifically, is called into question. I can say them in my head, and I do. And with varying degrees of sweetness and sincerity, (or not!) depending on the circumstance. But I'm still working on how to say them and then say NOTHING else. Because, my feeling is this: if you really want to know my family's story, you will come to the questions with no "tone" to your queries. You will seek me out and sincerely question and then listen. The "tones" that I detect in the insincere, agenda'd questions are ones that I need to deflect. My family's story is precious. And I need to be better at not casting it out there for just anyone. Especially those who will not receive it as precious. I'm working on it - especially considering that with this coming adoption, we will be more "conspicuous" both because of our size and because we'll be going en masse as 8 whenever we leave the house together. 8 is a lot.  :)
Stepping off my soapbox, now.... Hope you got my heart in that one. It's a hot topic, especially now that folks are starting to hear that we're adopting again. Put THAT issue (and all its surrounding issues!) with the fact that we already have 5 kids (and all THOSE additional issues!), and for some reason, folks start short-circuiting and the "good manners" wire between their brain and their mouth seems to be the first to fry.
 Heh, heh. I crack myself up.
But.  I've gone on too long already. So come back tomorrow and I will give you some of the answers I've learned along the way toward answering the sincere inquiry of how we knew what type of adoption was right for This Gang.

How's that for a cliff-hanger?
Not as good, and not nearly as suspenseful
but not bad, eh?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sunday Snapshot

Better late than never, again!

Ni Hao Yall

Last week was brutal around here. My cold turned into the old-fashioned flu. Li'l Empress spent most of last Sunday errrr, ummmm, pooking. And then Monday laying on one couch nibbling saltines while Momma was on the other couch hacking and chilling. Literally, not colloquially. On Tuesday, I thought, "Well, I feel like crud but it's March 1st and I'm TAKIN' it."  New day, new month, new season and all that blather.

And then on Wednesday, all that newness came to a screeching, screaming halt. The tummy bug that attacked Li'l Empress (brought home from one of those indoor playlands that every mother equally loves for its contained distraction and despises for it germ-carrying bio war capacities) hit Baby BlueEyes first. And hung on to the poor little guy for a solid 14 hours. Shortly after that, Dr. D was felled; followed by LadyBug, and on to Shaggy. The older three didn't actually experience the violent pooking but rolling stomachs, aversions to smells of any sort, and random naps throughout all of Wednesday. Most of Thursday was all that and some (try a gazillion) loads of laundry and serious anti-bacterializing of all surfaces in sight thrown in for good measure.  His (planned for) day-off on Thursday to "knock out the electrical" in our bathroom project was instead used to clean all the downstairs carpets and a couple of the upstairs ones, too. By Friday night, both The Boss and I were exhausted.

We all spent lots of time sprawled on various couches and chairs, trying to recover and recuperate. On Thursday, I threw open all the shades and walked around "febr@@zing" everything in sight. And I caught this sight as I walked into the living room to check on the kids.

Dr. D. must be part cat.
He was stretched out on the living room floor
basking in the sun and trying to warm up from his chills.

For several minutes. He almost fell asleep.

I'd post more pics of the hall bathroom project but it's a lot of plain plywood and bare studs. Cuz in the process of funneling all 7 of us into the master bath for the duration of the hall bath project, it seems we over-loaded what must have been a small leak in the grout and tile of the master shower. Now, it's a big leak. With lots of really wet drywall and cracked grout. Nothing like having two bathroom projects going at once. He did manage to get all the electrical work done in the hall bath on Saturday and even start some of the plumbing too. While I laid on the couch most of the day. Yup, queasy and nauseous and afraid to go too far from one of the two working bathrooms.

Oh, and NOW The Boss is down for the count. Yup, queasy, light-headed, chills and fever. Right in the middle of the very first steps of prepping our shower on Sunday for its quick patch-and-repair job. Which means that there are 7 of us in the house and NO shower. At least not till Monday night or early Tuesday morning. And that's ONLY IF The Boss can stay upright enough to finish what he started Sunday after church. So far, this Monday morning? It's not looking too promising. He's pretty pasty. 

So, if no one wants to hang with The Gang for a couple days, believe me, I understand. Frankly, I'm not all that crazy about hanging with The Gang myself. But at least our carpets smell pretty and look fresh.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Look what I found for only FIVE DOLLARS at the sewing and crafts table of our local W@l-M@rt yesterday!

How cute will Li'l Empress BE in this dress?!
*Edited to avoid further confusion! And for the record, Aus,
those actually are some of my best colors. The pattern? Not so much!

Not only did I get OUT of the house for the first time since Friday afternoon, I scored a suh-weet deal for my girl. Yay me.

I'm picturing it with little leggings and flats in the fall. What do you think?

For more Wordless Wednesday fun,
head over to 5 Minutes for Mom.
And if you come by here, leave me a comment.
I'll be sure to come around and share the love!