Friday, December 30, 2011

If you don't like the weather, wait a minute...

In New England there is a saying..."If you don't like the weather, wait a minute."  I think it accurately describes news in adoption.

So here is the latest update.  We have been in a holding pattern.  Our case mirrors another case, right down to the same witnesses.  Before you cry "Foul!" if you were to hear the makes sense.  They were sent to USCIS.  So we were trying to decide if we wait to see what would happen with them or hire the attorney and make sure our submission was as complete as possible.  I believe that we are the first case to hire the attorney proactively.

One of the things we are doing is re-interviewing the witnesses with extremely detailed questions.  But it has been almost 2 years.  One of the witnesses may have moved, and another is not sure that they want to talk.  This morning, is a good example of how it email telling us that one of the witnesses does not want to talk to anyone.  The next, saying that they have changed their mind and will talk.  Then a third saying...the case that we mirror has been cleared, with out an RFE.  (An answer to many prayers.)  Good news also for us.

Today, I must be particularly fragile.  I am tired of the ride.  I just want to bring him home.  I am so thankful for Kathy, our case worker, my friends who sit and listen to my complaining about the USE (thank you, Katy), and last but not least, my prayer warriors who are storming heaven with prayers.  Wow, what would I do without them?  So we trudge on, through the muck and mire of international adoption.  I can't wait for the metaphorical rain to stop and the rainbow to appear.  And stuck in my back pocket for those moments that I get pulled into the flood...and can't remember what I am holding fast this scripture: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11  I remind myself that these words are written for Efa, too., Tom Brady does not ring a bell.


Okay folks, lets get back to business at

And then I get a glimpse of the rainbow.  Pictures of our boy from Becky and CHI and a text from Emily.  Efa is happy outside playing with the big boys.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

6 weeks

This post is all about me. I mean that in an obnoxious self-pitying transparent way. The 6 weeks since we have met our little man have been an amusement ride of emotion.  The disappointment of not passing on the day of our court date gave way to the elation of passing two weeks later.  Then we moved to dreaming about when we would be bringing him home.  Braided in is the sadness that Efa would be leaving the only home he has known, the only woman he has known as "mom", and the "family" he has loved and been loved by.  We have our birth certificate and our passport.

The ride has just gotten terrifying.  Watching a friend with a different agency who traveled with us, pass court, be submitted, clear, and leave to bring home... So excited to welcome home E.  (Did I mention she is the same age as Bella and I love her mom?)  Watching my sweet friend Emily, pass court, be submitted, and clear (thank you Lord).  We have not been submitted to embassy.  I trust that our agency is doing everything they can to be submitted and successful at the embassy level.

But this brings me to my pets.  We have two new pets-Discouragement and Impatience.  Actually, I am not sure how new they are.  They are normally caged, but they are sneaky, and often escape and run rampant in the house.  They are quite destructive.  The craziest things can release them.  They feed on the most unexpected things...expectations are like a Red Bull to them.  They go crazy!  I hate admitting it.  But I am truly hoping to vanquish them from the house.  As I am becoming more aware of them and their triggers...I have come to realize that they did not move in just recently.  They think that they have lived here forever.

So, I wait.  I wait to be submitted in this beautiful season where we await the Greatest Gift.  The parallel is not lost on us.  In fact it becomes even more clear why I need Him.  I am so flawed.   My heart aches to bring this little boy home.   I pray for his case to be submitted.  I pray that the USE sees the evidence and allows Efa to come home.  I pray for patience.  I pray for a stronger faith.  I pray for encouragement.  I pray not to feel forgotten.

May the God of hope fill (me) with all joy and peace as (I) trust in Him, so that (I) may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

15 days until we board a plane

My stomach is tight with the anticipation of meeting our little guy.  Getting a sense of who he is.  I can't wait to see the je ne sais quoi that gets lost in translation.  Embassy is getting to be more of an obstacle than it ever was.  As a child who grew up over seas, a child of a diplomat, I personally think the US government is making huge gaffes in diplomacy.  I think that the time of oversight is at the moment the child enters care.  Not after that country has already determined that the child is adoptable.  Do we challenge the Russian, Chinese, or Korean government after they make that same determination?  Hmm, why not?  But, I shy away from the controversial.  So as each day brings hope and then fear for a few families at that pivotal stage, I thought of this tale that I read a while ago.  It speaks to my nearsightedness.  I think of this story frequently when things play out better or worse than I expected.  For me, this is where, my faith will be tested.  I claim to trust in His perfect timing, now I must live it.  It will only get harder, after meeting our little guy.   I trust though that if this little guys is meant to be ours, he will come home in God's perfect time.    In the meantime, I have a few friends on speed dial, to help me at weak moments and nesting is reaching  a scary level...I made these felted slippers for him Sunday night.  It was so much fun and easy.  I will work out the kinks and then share the how to.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Life is good! Fast, but good!

I always feel that school starts and life goes from 0 to 60 in a blink of an eye.  After the years of being surprised by it (14 to be exact), I have started survival techniques to keep us all from getting bumped and bruised.  This year has gone surprisingly smoothly, especially with one more student in the mix-ME.  The kids actually get a kick out of me being in nursing school.  I have to say I love it!  I love my classes. I love the young people that I have met. I love my professors.  I love the material (yes, I even love my stats and micro-biology class.)  I have talked to all of my professors about leaving for a week in October/November.  They are all great with it.  I have talked to my advisor about taking next term and then the summer off.  Everyone has been great about it.  I love that my nursing school is most concerned about the disenfranchised and the poor, as well as global medicine.  I feel like I am doing what I was made for.  And it is happening in His perfect time.

Bella is loving her preschool day.  We are falling into a sweet new normal.  The other day, she got to sleep late (9:00...can you say growth spurt) and rolled out of bed, I got her cereal in a baggie, an apple, and juice and took her for a long morning walk in the jogger.  She was in heaven.  Talked my ear off.  Loved the she was in her pj's underneath a blanket.  Zach is researching how he can play soccer full time... Eliza is trying to get her driving hours in so she can finally get her license and Andrew is probably busier than he should be.

35 days until we get on a plane to go meet our little guy.  Sometimes I feel like his babyhood is slipping away.  The wait is hard.  The not knowing when he will be home, even harder.  But I do know that this is the easier part of the wait.  After we meet him, hold him, the wait will be so much harder.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

67 prayers left

Over the years we have made several paper chains to "count down" to some special event.  This is one our most special paper chains.  We call it our prayer chain.  Each of us had 12 strips of paper and on the back side we wrote a prayer for our little guy.  Bella wrote with me transcribing, anything from "Jesus please keep him stay safe" to "I hope that he wants a big sister like me."  Zach wants divine intervention to help him be a "good soccer player or at least like the game." (Already done! I hear he loves soccer balls.)  For me, the prayers were covering him in comfort when he had a bad dream, or when he makes his future transition, to helping to make me the mother he will need when he gets home, and in twenty years.  As the days fall away, we break he chain and read the prayer aloud before our grace at dinner.  We have 68 left.  Then we will return and make a new prayer chain.  And each of those prayers will bring him closer and closer to being home.  Baby boy, we are waiting patiently.  Knowing that the time before court is serving to prepare us and you for each other!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Nov 1

Seems so far away.  It really seems like the dead of winter (I know it is not).  It is a special day.  My Father-In-Law's birthday.  It is now even more special... It is our court date for our little boy.  A date.  A concrete date that shows movement.  Getting him closer to being in our family.  I have gotten some darling pictures of him.  He is simply a sweet child.  It is also perfectly clear in the photos that his heart will be broken when he has to leave the beautiful orphanage director!  Ohhh goodness.   I know that he is getting the best of care and love.  Would you mind praying for his little heart?

On a lighter note...we had our travel clinic appointment.  Jason-one shot.  Me-none.  Zach-none.

77 days until we hop a plane and see our sweet boy.

For this child I have prayed.  1 Samuel 1:27

Friday, July 15, 2011

Mid Summer Happenings

We spent a week on the vineyard.  Martha's Vineyard has always been one of my favorite places in the world.  But then everyone discovered it....and crowds are not my thing!  This year we went a month earlier than usual because of college and high school schedules and you know what...It was quiet, again.  No crowds.  So the kids walked to the beach, swam, surfed, went fishing, slept late, ate ice cream, watched bi-planes and gliders take off and land, played games, rode the carousel, got tattoos,  went to Vineyard Sound, got chocolate from Chilmark Chocolates, met up with summer friends, and planned for next summer when our new little guy would be home.  What a gift it was to withdrawal from the chaos and enjoy the fact that we have seen his face and that CHI was working so hard so that we could then get to the next step of the process.  Feel so blessed.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Oh Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy

So this time our referral had a completely different feel.  Remembering back to Bella's referral.  It had all the elements of a good story.  Jason had gone out with a few friends for a guys dinner.  I was home making dinner for the kids.  For some reason Jeff (Jason's partner and good friend) picked him up instead of Jason driving.  Odd, because they really don't do that often...they must have been discussing a case.  At around 6 Jason calls and says...why aren't you answering your cell phone?  Uhhh, you got me on the house phone, so why does it matter?  Well, Jessica has been trying to call you.  WHAT????  Then Jason gets Jeff to drive him home, we open an email, and get to know our daughter.  By the next morning we were madly in love.
Flash forward to this adoption.  The details are not so dramatic but same dramatic effect.   We saw a little boy on a wait list.  Actually, we saw two little boys on a wait list.  Both so very sweet.  Both would be a blessing to any family.  Different stories, and yet kind of the same...they both have been waiting for a family for a long time, their whole life.  So how do you decide between perfect for our family and perfect for our family?  So we talked to the administrator, and then the director who has met them to see if we would be a better family for one of them...youngest of five vs only and oldest.  (I will do a long post on the people of YWAM, and how much we love them.  How much they inspire us.  Have I mentioned that they have sent us several hand written notes just letting us know that they are thinking about and praying for us?)  No way to tell.  After Jason's initial, "Okay, let's adopt both," (not an option, not allowed by our agency),  we prayed.  That's the beautiful thing about prayer and faith.  The answer came.  Almost immediately.  While we still cared for the other sweet little boy, and could have loved him or any other child as our own, it was clear which one was ours.  We were matched and then waited briefly for our official referral.  The call from our case worker was unexpected, but not because we did not know it was coming or what child would be on the paperwork.  It was unexpected because we knew she would be flying outside of the country.  There was nothing new in his information that we did not know.  There were a couple new pictures.  Oh yeah, that email came at 1:30 am.  And I have not figured out how to open zip I could only open the "non-zip" files which thankfully were the really important ones.  So there was no cell phone battery dying.  No race home to get the email.  And no falling in love...we were already there!

For this child, I prayed... 1 Samuel 1:27

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Continuation of switching agencies

  Remember back when we switched from Gladney.  We really were tortured by the decision to not go with Gladney.  We made a call to an agency that we had heard great things about, Children's House International-CHI (not to be confused with Children's Hope) and specifically the YWAM program within CHI.  This time we asked even harder questions, because we were more familiar with the process and the pitfalls.  Care of the kids.  Family preservation programs.  Yes, timeline questions.  But, also, waiting kids questions, just to name a few.  In the end, we applied to CHI/YWAM.   I have to tell you I LOVE CHI.  I have never gotten an "out of office" reply to my email.  For the first three months that I was talking and emailing my case worker, she was actually out of the country.  My calls, and emails were answered in real time.  She has always been patient, accessible, and super helpful.  She sends us an update on how the process is moving in Ethiopia weekly.  I love that CHI explains the process in detail, there by holding themselves accountable.  I love the care the kids are getting in the orphanage.  I love the family preservation programs.   I love the passion and the heart that the people working for our agency in the US and in ET have for the poor, widowed, and orphaned.  Most of all, I love that my case worker is an adoptive mom of two grown children.  She totally understand the mind of a pre-adoptive mom.  She called me after taking a red eye home.  She has been gone from her home for over a month.  She could not go to sleep before giving us the news that our referral would be coming at some point that night.  She had just emailed it to the office, and the lead social worker was going over it.  She would be emailing it directly to us.  Yes, it came in at 1:30am my time.  There is no 9-5 for her.  

Friday, June 24, 2011

When it rains it pours....

Some days you just know its gong to be one of those days.  

Where do I begin?  I chose this picture of my sweet Bella because I can't help but smile when I see it.  The first time I discovered that this little girl had dimples, my heart just soared.  I don't know if you can tell but she has several dimples.  Love them.  Love her.  I just look at her and I want to just pinch her to make sure she is real.  I think God does this on purpose.  I remember this with the older kids.  I still feel it with a teenager...where they can drive you crazy and then give you an "Aw shucks, mom" smile and you just melt.  Have I mentioned that Bella is incredibly capable.  Sometimes she forgets that she is 4.  Sometimes I think she thinks that she could grab the keys to the car and run a quick errand for me....

Yesterday was a crummy, cold, and rain day.  The day started off with a doggy accident on a white rug that thankfully was not too bad.  I should have known that  it was going to be that kind of day, a day of serving on my knees.  By mid afternoon, I had all the kids home plus a couple of extras.  I also was gearing up to go into work (at Williams Sonoma) that evening.  It was a book reading, movie watching, and game playing kind of day.  All the kids were spread out around the house, upstairs, downstairs, basement.  Bella was playing off and on with all of them at some time.  So about an hour before I have to leave for work, I discover my sweet baby had used a whole roll  (one of those triple rolls) of toilet paper to wipe her bum...and let me just reiterate that bum is TINY.  So I start to tackle that "problem."  At some point I realize that Eliza must be showering (she worked a horse camp).  And then I am, I need to talk to her about her 45 minute shower!!!  So I started getting a little heated about how long of a shower she was taking and was going to go knock on her bathroom door.  I must have been really stewing because I walked up the stairs not even noticing water on the floor.  Once upstairs...I find that it is in fact Bella who has decided "to become Ariel of little mermaid" and in fact flooded the bathroom and had added a waterfall element to our first floor.  So I spent the rest of the time before, drying, and cutting the ceiling open so that it will dry and we can fix it...   It sounds like the house was chaotic.  It actually wasn't.  Chaos might have been better.   All this to remind my cherub in that picture above...that she still needs mommy's help doing some things.  

**** all our paperwork is out of our hands.  Now we wait to hear that it is in fact in ET.  And bring on that referral.  What's one more sweet baby to clean up after? :)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

The grandfathers with Andrew

Happy Father's Day to my father!  You have always been larger than life to me.    You have been a great father to 6 children.  Through you I first learned of adoption.  You adopted two children.  Thank you!  Happy Birthday Poppy (Jason's father)!  You are such a sweet man.  Thank you for raising my soul mate.  Thank you for helping to shape him into the man he is today.
Jason and Zach

Jason studying in law school
Jason and Andrew
Jason and Bella

Jason and Eliza

Happy Father's Day to my sweet husband!  I can't imagine being on this adventure with anyone else!  Thank you for being such a kind, strong, smart, and compassionate man.  You are a treasure of this world.  I am lucky to be married to you.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


So you would think that I would know what the 171 looks like.  You would think that second time around, this should be "old hat."  Not the case.  I had to call Emily and ask her...."Do you remember what the 171 looks like?  Why isn't it printed on that official looking green paper?"  Yes, she remembered what it looked like.  So all this to say ..."check."  Next step, finish dossier and then send off......

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

You know you are a PAP when....

Bella 5/2011

How do you know that you are preparing to adopt:
1.  Like Pavlov's dog you have been trained to respond to the sound of the mailman's truck.  Your hearing has become so acute that you can hear the halted hum from a half mile away.
2.  Your calender is broken into segments...we could get our referral, we could be traveling for court (no planning a trip to Disney), we could be traveling to pick up (no planning a trip to Disney), we will be home for one month (no planning a trip to Disney.)
3.  You start planning your 20th anniversary get away and start wondering if Ethiopia would be a perfect fit :)
4.  You spend way too much time on blogs....time sucker!
5.  You start to dream about holding a little body that has to learn your sound and smell as much as you need to learn theirs.  But for some reason, it will feel right.

What have we been doing.....

Popsicles on the front steps with BFF.

End of year concert for CBS

Graduation parties are so much fun when there are other little girls!

My BFF turns 6!

End of year dance recital.  

School is coming to a close.  Today, for Eliza.  Then, Eliza volunteers at a therapeutic riding camp.  In two weeks for Zach.  Not sure what he will be doing...ugh.  Andrew has been home for over a month.  He is working, four different jobs.  No kidding.  He is up before 6.  Heads to the golf course.  The he fits in the other jobs around that.  It is so nice to have him home, though. 

I love summer.  I have read a couple great books this week...Someone Knows My Name (a must read...riveting) and Choosing to See (by MaryBeth Chapman, grab a box or two of tissues).  I sign up for nursing classes next week.  Letting God work out the timing.  I will take time off when Teddy Bear gets home.  And after that...we will figure it out where Jason or I will have him, taking night classes, etc.  I ended up getting more transfer credit than I expected.  I thought that I would have to re-take chemistry and calculus.  Not so.  Yeah!  I am in no hurry.  The seminar class that everyone has to take...Understanding HIV.  I am so excited about that one!  I have Bella on the wait list for a preschool in Boston.  I could not be more excited for her.  The diversity of the staff and students is AWESOME!  So we put one step in front of the other.  Trusting.

Meanwhile...I stalk the mailman.  Waiting for our CIS approval.  Waiting to move forward on the adoption.  Waiting, trusting, and reading:)

***I do have three other kids...who won't let me take pictures... I may try and sneak a few in :)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Puzzle pieces

So I have been stalking this blog for a while.  This couple adopted a baby girl just a few months after we brought home Bella.  They are now adopting again.  A 4 1/2y old in Russia.  To be truthful, I don't even know this couple.  I was just moved by their story.  Check it out.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Waiting to wait

We were fingerprinted on Wednesday morning.  It always amazes me how quickly I can become unglued.  Huge character-flaw.  You would think that I would have learned by now.  I graduated from God's Timing 101 in our first adoption.  Yet, I seem to forget whenever things don't go how I expect them to go.

I sent the i600a in and received the fingerprint appt card in a reasonable time frame.  Yet,we never did receive an appt card for Andrew.  He needs to be fingerprinted because he is 19.  Now, maybe I gave CIS too much credit but I did pay for 3 bio-metrics and they have my home study!  I thought that they must realize he is a college student and that he might be in NC.  Okay, I am laughing now that I wrote that out...but I really thought....
So, Andrew took off work.  Jason, Andrew, Bella (because who babysits at 6am) and I left for Rhode Island at 6 in the morning to make our 8am apt.  Don't I live in Ma??  Yes, but I guess, we get fingerprinted in RI.

We get there to find out that they can't fingerprint Andrew without an appt card.  Well, I almost started crying (or screaming) right then.  The nicest man tried to help us, but couldn't.  At some point, I gave in.  Sent Andrew to the car, and got fingerprinted.  While I was waiting...  I had a conversation with God that went something like this...I get it.  You are in charge.  I get it.  I get it.  You have a timeline that may be different than my own (who is kidding who-usually different than my own).  I get it.  I accept it.  But it sure would be nice to get his taken care of today.  And then we were fingerprinted and went to leave.  The nice man, came running out of his office yelling, "Wait!  I think I figured out what you can do."  Long story short...they fingerprinted Andrew, too.

So now we wait for CIS approval, wait for a referral, wait for court, and then wait for embassy.  Picking up on the key theme?  Wait.  I should definitely be eligible for a PhD in God's Timing by the end of adoption #2, don't you think?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day Gifts

Bella's self portrait

We all love havving Andrew home!

We sent in our i600a on April 20th.  Saturday, April 7,  we received our fingerprinting appt for May 18th!!!  Truly resting in His timing.  It actually occurred to me that maybe I should be a little nervous about the timing of those fingerprints because Andrew is in school in NC.  (He needs to be fingerprinted because he is 19.)  I wasn't though.  Resting in His timing...and the appt came the same day that Andrew came home....for the following week.  

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  Philippians 4:6-7 (This scripture will always be a favorite.)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

"Good one" and nightime prayers

 Since Bella has been home, we do our prayers at night, just like we did with the older kids.  For some reason, Zach did his prayers primarily with Jason.  The others did them with either.  Bella does them with me, although Zach loves it when I have to work on a night that Jason does because then he gets to put Bella to bed and that includes prayers.  In our prayers we ask Jesus to bless ___fill in the blank____.... and then we usually take turns naming family and friends.  Recently,  Bella asked, "anyone new?"  And then I added, "Marjorie."  Bella asked, "Whose Marjorie?"  I explained that she is a woman who is a friend of a friend who just found out has cancer so she is very sick (a story for another day-but The Lord working, not like we may want but his clear fingerprint).  And Bella said, "Good one, good one!"  Then Bella added a friend of mine, Margaret.  No reason, and asked if she was "good one."  I said, "of course." So now, throughout the day Bella and I look for someone new to pray for that would be a "good one."  That person has been a stranger who looked angry or sad, a friend in TX who has a head/heart hurt,  friends celebrating their 3rd birthdays or a friend who just needs some comfort or healing.  But the word has gotten now Zach wants in on it.  We can't wait to see who Bella names, such a window into her soul, and she can't wait to see who I name.  We are truly blessed by the children in my life!

***Can you tell I need a new camera?????

Monday, May 2, 2011


So when I was catching up on my blog reading, a friend linked to this blog.  Claudia encouraged people to write on attachment.  I actually read a few blogs and it was so good to see some of the different perspectives and experiences to prepare for our teddy bear.  We have a few of our own perspectives/experiences to draw on.  I have a sister and brother that were adopted.  We were foster parents for 6 newborns who were with us anywhere from 10 days to 6 months. We have 3 bio kids.  And of course, we have Bella who came home at 2 1/2 y.

I learned from being a sibling that attachment is a life long exercise, whether or not adoption is in the mix.  It is like a bank account.  If you are constantly making withdrawals, and never making deposits...eventually the bank will close the account.  That is not to say that they won't let you re-open one, when you get your finances in order and are ready to make a deposit.

What we learned as a family from our "borrowed babies" was to be present in the moment, because we never knew when we would get the call that they were leaving.    The present moment is all we had.  We did dream for these babies and pray that they would end up in a soft landing place that would cherish them for the blessing that they were/are.  But we did not spend much energy worrying about what they would be good at or what they would become, or what the latest trend was on growing smart babies. We also learned that our family lines were extremely fluid.  We loved each almost immediately.  I don't mean that in a vague and blurry way.  We loved them fiercely and vividly.  When each left it felt like a deep loss.  Thankfully, we still see most of these little people in Christmas cards or visits.  I believe these babies actually challenged me to be a better parent.  I slowly stopped thinking that I knew what my 3 kids would be good at or become and I started to enjoy them at the age and stage that they were.  Today became the gift.

What I have learned from being a mom to 3 bio kids and attachment is interesting.  When I was reading adoption books before Bella got home, I would constantly be amazed that some of the behaviors that they highlighted as problematic attachment...sounded like one or another of my bio kids.  One of my children was hyper-attached, one was the charmer in a large group, and one shuts in my personal experience children and attachment is not that cut and dry.  I think that my three that share DNA, have come into this world with very different personalities, temperaments, and challenges.  Thankfully, I read the books when I was far enough along that I was not rushing them all into therapy.  That being said, I do think the challenge as a parent is to figure out how to be the parent that each child needs.  I don't think Eliza will mind my sharing some about her.  Eliza was painfully shy and hyper attached to me.  She would not take a bottle.  I mean she would NOT take a bottle no matter what type or what it was filled with.  She would wait for me rather than eat.  She would have waited the 8 hours that I worked if she had to (and actually did once).  Luckily Jason was able to bring her in a few hours in for my lunch break (one of the beauties of law school.)  Every student/teacher conference in elementary school was about how she was so shy.  So parenting her, was trying to find ways that would build her confidence and self esteem.  Anyone who has a "cling-on" child knows that sometimes the natural response to the clinging is a pushing away... I learned that counter-intuitive pulling-in worked so much better for us, though.  By 6th grade, you would not believe that the conferences where for the same child.  All this to tell you...that even with bio kids, the attachment process is very individual.  Each child's needs are different and your response will be different and even those will change over time.   We are constantly readjusting our parenting strategies and expectations.  The only constant is trying to make more deposits into each child's bank account than withdrawals.

Then Bella came along.  Remember that fluid family line that I spoke of with the foster babies.  She was "ours" before she even knew we existed.  We loved her almost immediately.  I lived in what looked very similar to a dorm room with her picture taped up all over our house for more than 6 months.  Zach came down the morning after the referral call and said, "I love her already."  So cool when it happens that quickly, like a tsunami.  But just as cool, when it is a more quiet and subtle breeze like it was for friends who worked and worked at it and then all of a sudden it wasn't work anymore.  It just was.  And actually even with in a family it can be one way for one member and the other with another.  We assumed her bank account had been long over-drawn.  Then she came home.  I will say that Bella's account most definitely was not overdrawn.  I think that this blogger and her failure to provide is a must read.  Sorry for stating the obvious but bonding and attachment are different, something I had not realized until after Bella came home.  Bella bonded almost immediately to me.  Quickly to Eliza and later to Jason and the boys.  Bonding is a shared moment or moments.  Attachment is a process or a collection of moments.  Attachment is the financial history, bonding is the opening of the account, to continue the metaphor.  When Bella came home, I should have been more careful about her exposure to family and friends.  Life took over and I was not prepared for the on slot of well wishers who dropped off meals and wanted to meet our newest member.  I ended up pulling back, reacting after events.  With Teddy bear we will have a plan of action.  Actually, something I love that YWAM has us do that I wish we had thought to do with Bella, we will have to work on a transitional plan.  We will have a phone call to go over it.  I had an idea of how it would work but I feel like we could have been more prepared.  Because she was an older toddler there were many things that had she been a baby...would have been great bonding and attaching scenarios ...feeding, dressing, changing diapers.  I did get her sippy cups that were like a bottle.  I snuggled her and fed her.  She was still in diapers, so I still changed her, and talked and cooed as she was being cleaned and redressed.  I did not encourage, nor was she ready to be potty trained for a bit.  Any opportunity to cuddle her, I took and still take.  Reading, eating lunch on my lap, climbing into our bed in the middle of the night.  There are still subtle reminders that she is still attaching....process, not a done deal.  Sometimes I see a self-reliance that I admire but wonder if it is actually a darker foreshadowing of attachment issues.  Sometimes I see a scary friendliness and confidence with adult friends.  Is it her confident self assured well adjusted self or again...that dark demon that haunts all adopted parents who read too many books?  See, we will  never be able to extract what is temperament, what is personality, and what is life experience (adoption).  It would be like taking cooked brownies and then separating the eggs, from the cocoa.  So I step forward and continue to try and make more deposits in Bella's account than withdrawals.  I pray over her because that is part of who we are as a family.  And I adjust and constantly readjust our parenting of her, like I did with the older kids, to meet her needs.  Grief will rear its ugly head as she gets older and make a huge withdrawal.  I mean like down payment-on-a-house type of withdrawal.  So I continue to make deposits before she realizes all that she has lost.  I look into those beeauuuutiful brown eyes and I tell her without words how lucky I am to be her mom always.  I use touch to communicate with her how cherished she is.  When I steer her away, or touch her hair, or pick her up when she wants nothing more than to continue to do what ever I don't want her to do I really do try not to be careless, rough, or impatient.  Not always successful but each I see as either a deposit or a withdrawal.  So I pray that I have learned and am practicing good financial decisions, and that we are creating a family with a sound financial future.

*Now I have to make some deposits in Bella's account.  Sesame Street followed by Cat in the Hat have been keeping her busy.

**As a side note I loved and have The Connected Child by Karen Purvis by my bed.  I love her gentle hope filled approach to children from really difficult stories.

+++Added after posting.  Keeping it real.  No sooner had I hit "post" I got a phone call from vice principal at Zach's school.  He quoted a movie that he should not have even seen.  Yes, the quote was inappropriate to say the least.  So don't think that I have anything under control....just saying...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Emotionally hung-over from yesterday, Adoption workshop tomorrow

Bella and Zach

Why is it that after spending a beautiful special day with family, I feel so sad and off kilter?  We drove to NY to celebrate my nephew's First Holy Communion.  Seeing the cousins together was unreal.  Seeing my father and siblings was special.  The ceremony was special.  So why is there that unsettled feeling the next day?  Is it because my father seems to be getting old quicker than I am ready for?  Is it the emotional exercise of maneuvering the family dynamics, wondering how siblings could be so different and yet, keeping it light and love filled?  Is it missing all of the family members who have died?  Or is it that I project forward to days when more will be gone?  Bella and Eliza loved seeing their cousins, aunts and uncles.  They love being surrounded by family.  Bella is still somewhat new to the cousins because we live so far away.  They just thought she was so special.  They got to see her sweet nature in full force.  She walked in and said to Amama (my sister's mother in law), "I like your dress.  Amama said, "You do?"  Bella responds, "Yes, purple is my favorite color and it looks beautiful on you."  I think Amama who is in her late 70s, almost fell off her chair.  That is all she talked about the rest of the afternoon.  It was so pure.  No parental prompting.  Eliza is getting so mature that she sits down and has a conversation with my father about politics or why she wants to be a surgeon and move to ET.  It was all good, so why does today feel like an emotional hang-over?

Tomorrow, I am going to a workshop on Trans racial Adoption: What Your Children Want You to Know.  I read alot about it before Bella came home.  I have so many questions, now.  Real questions that I want answered.  About a month ago, anonymous commented on my diversity in school v reputation of school post.  She (because I have fallen into the habit of thinking woman are the only people reading blogs) gave me some GREAT advice, as well as confirming what I already was thinking.  She reminded me that the diversity of the faculty was just as important as the diversity of the student body.  Oops, I think that I was so excited about the students...I forgot to ask about the faculty.  Thank you, anonymous.  So, I am so excited to get even more insight into this.  A good friend with a Korean adopt daughter who is grown now, also has shared that she always felt caught in between two worlds.  Not really Korean, and yet not Caucasian.  Her parents had several friends who also adopted from Korea.  They wish that they had put more emphasis on interacting with both non-adoptive and adoptive Korean families. Interesting perspective.  Food for thought.  I would hate for Bella to feel like that.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter 2011-"He's alive. He's alive."

(Thank you Emily!  If you haven't seen this, it is awesome in the true sense of the word.)

Sweet Bella woke up saying, "He's alive! He's alive! He's not dead!"  I love the faith and conviction that she has.  This year we were missing Andrew.  Since he is coming home for the summer in a week and a half, we did not want to spend the $ to fly him home.  We had a small but special celebration, though.  Love these days to look back on.  The days are long but the years are short.  One of our new traditions, started by Bella...Bella wanted to go around the table and tell each person one thing that we are thankful for.  So Bella started.  For daddy she was thankful for him playing with her and making her laugh.  For me, for being the best mommy in the whole city.  For Zach, for sharing his candy, and teaching her to ride her bike.  For Eliza, for painting her nails, and being the "best sista eva".  She hugged each person as she told them what she loved about them.  Then she had us each do it.  Not sure where she saw or heard about this tradition, but it was so sweet that I would like to take credit for it but I can't. Yes, we will do it throughout the year.

Bella had her 4 year check up.  It is so fun to see her grow.  She is definitely slowing down a bit-to a more normal rate of growth.  My advice to people who have gotten their referral and are about to pick up their child...don't over buy in the clothes department.  Bella came home wearing 18m and is now wearing 4 and some 5s.  That is in 18m time!  Her foot grew from a 6 to an 11.  She went from not being on the charts for height to being over the 50%. She has grown over 11inches (I actually thought 12 but...11 is good!)  They like to see her age have over 10 words in a sentence.  My doctor laughed at that.  She is a chatter box.  On all fronts she is doing so nicely.  We are constantly amazed at her!

Adoption #2 front:  So now we wait for our appt to be fingerprinted for CIS.  Moving at a slow but steady pace.  Love CHI/YWAM.  Love the updates.  Love the communication.  Love what I hear about the care of the babies.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"Fancy Nancy" Night

We are having a "stay-cation" because Eliza has drivers ed everyday from 9-4 during school vacation.  But there was no other time to do it, so....  Truly, with 2 trips to Ethiopia within the year, I am fine with not spending the money.  We took Bella to the zoo in the morning.  Then, last night, Zach had ODP 1 1/2 hour drive away for a 2 hour practice.  Jason took him.  (I think he may have pulled the short straw.)  I took Eliza, and Bella to get our nails done and then out to a "Fancy Nancy" dinner.  Anyone with a little girl knows who Nancy and her best friend are.  Little girls who love oolala and magnifique and fantastique and bonjour and  any other word that is fancy.  When Bella saw the dessert, she said "Oolala this is my faaavorrrite."  We had such a nice evening and then came home to relax with the boys.

*** CIS form overnighted today :)  The only thing left really to work on...our police letter stating that we have no record.  Why is this a problem, you ask?  Because this is the third one we have had to request!  The first two have had notary errors.  Do you think that God thinks that I have not mastered the lesson on patience?  Or maybe He is working on my sense of humor.  I even offered a bribe of cookies.  Getting closer.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


What gets you through your rocky terrain?

For Bella its red cowboy boots:)

For me it is definitely my faith.  My faith in His character.  My faith in His love for us.  When we first started this adoption, the fear of the "what ifs and hows" were kept at bay during the day by prayer and busy-ness.  But at night the doubts and fears would sit and wait until the very moment that sleep lightened and they could worm their way in... What if this little one did not adjust as seamlessly as Bella?  What if I don't love this little one as much as I love all my other children?   How are we going to pay for this adoption and college for one now and two in the near future?  (Just to name a few.)

I am not an anxious person.  I don't usually wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat.  A few months ago, in the beginning of this process, I did.  Wow, not fun!  I was agitated and anxious about the money that we would have to pay pretty quickly in the process.  An alphabet soup of the large dollar amounts that would be due soon swam around in my head mixed in with words like tuition payments.  I did not know what to do to calm my racing heart.   Pretty quickly, I did turn to prayer.  I prayed that if this was His will,  I was going to need Him to give me some comfort.  I was going to trust Him (something I learned through our first adoption).  I wanted to adopt so much but there were so many reasons why I should be satisfied with the happy healthy family I had.  The prayer took a little longer than that.  His peace did take over that racing heart.  In the process the numbers started to make sense.  I even was brave enough to add them up.  It was a big healthy sum...several thousands of dollars.  Let's call that number n.  Then I remembered that Jason had told me he was receiving an unexpected check...interest on a business loan.  Guess how much the check ended up being for...yes, you got it. N.  Not a penny more.  Some may say coincidence.  Not me.  I have had too many of these this go around!  At some point, I am sorry, but it is what I call God-incidences.  So many with Bella.  That was the first for Teddy Bear, maybe I will post about some of the others, too.   The most amazing thing has been recognizing God's fingerprints much sooner, than I use to.  From-who I am going through the process with, to-how the timing is working out.  What I am learning is His plan is so much bigger and better than I would have dreamed it to be.  God can do much more than anything we can ask or imagine. Ephesians 3:20

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Special day, busy weekend, and adoption update

8 years ago I got a call that rocked my world.  That moment plays like a slow motion movie.  The sound warbled.  The information came in bits and pieces.  The result still the same.

I remember the initial call came in as "Mom's been in an accident."  I am even embarrassed to admit but I thought that my mom would have been at fault.  I use to tease her about being an airhead.  She use to zip around in her convertible, playing music, with a smile on her face.  I could see her getting in a fender bender.  My first prayers were please don't let her have hurt someone.  My prayers were answered but not in the way I expected.  As more news came she had been hit by a car walking across the street with my adopted 8 year old brother. They were walking from the parking lot to the church for a special service.  She managed to push Chris out of the way.  She died at the scene or in the ambulance, the detail never seemed important to me.  She was 62.  The mother of 6 children, two of which were adopted.  The man who hit her just did not see her.  He was a father of 4.  About ten years older than she was.  He was changing stations on his radio and turning onto a busy street.  To this day I am so thankful for the God's grace in allowing me to forgive him immediately.  My sisters have had a harder time.  They were so angry with him.  That anger is so heavy.  Something my mom would have never wanted.  By the time I flew down and got to the house, it was too late.  But just seeing her recipe box open and the recipe of what she had been cooking out, the message she left on my machine that day, or the letter that she had thrown in the mail that morning...such gifts!  I will always miss her.  But she knows that.

The only child of mine she did not meet was Bella.  I know that she would have loved Bella, and Bella would ahve adored her.  She was fun, kind, and gentle.  So today we talked and prayed for Grammy.  We went to the beach before church.  Grammy loved the beach and Grammy loved little kids:)  So she would have loved how we celebrated her life.

So now onto a lighter subject.  We had so much fun at R and A's birthday party.  Bella loves these girls. Followed up by a Fasika celebration planned by this amazing mom.  By Saturday night, we were exhausted.  But you have to laugh at the way of a 4 year old.  This was Bella on the way to the Fasika celebration:

Two minutes later:

And maybe a minute later:

On the adoption front...we are home study approved, waiting for the hard copy so we can submit to CIS.  Yeah!!!!  I am loving CHI/Ywam.  I wish I could have gone to the Mom's night out that they had in WA.  But as you can see this weekend could not have fit in one more activity:)

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Dance

Let me remind you that I do not dance (or sing) in public.  I am tone deaf and rhythm challenged.  But I am learning.  But this dance that I am talking about is actually the adoption dance.  With Bella's adoption....the week was broken down to the emotions that the day of the week evoked.  The dance went sort of like this:

Monday: no communication with Belay so no new news was coming that day but the seed of hope would be planted.  This was going to be the week that we got our referral, or court day, or we passed court (and when we didn't), or they fixed the problem.

Tuesday: a good day, hope was growing

Wednesday: the best because we would have a conference call if it was the end of the month or there was a really good possibility that good news was coming this day or the next

Thursday: disappointment taking root, would another week pass with no news?

Friday: crushed, I would have to wait another three days before news came.

Jason could tell the day of the week by how fragile my mood was.  So the dance played out for the better part of the year.  The hurry up to wait.  The stalking the Gladney FBI or other blogs.  Can't you see it as a ballet?  Can't you see the building of tension mid week?  The conductor waving the hands and the excitement building only to come crashng down for the weekend.  The weekend was restorative and healing.  Gosh, the only thing that kept me sane were the prayers, mine and those of dear friends.

This adoption is already playing out differently.  I am learning a new dance.  I must be getting to be a better dancer because this one seems a whole lot easier.  I don't seem to be riding the waves up and down.  I am filling my mornings with Bella activity, bible study, and cleaning (always cleaning).  I am filling my afternoons with sports activities and listening to teenage happenings (and silent prayers for me to have the wisdom to say the right thing or better yet, say nothing.)  I have learnied that our weekly update comes on Thursday.  (What???  A weekly update???)  So Thursday no longer means what it use to.  That is one of the subtle differences.  I am learning new steps.  I am exercising muscle memory, too.  Stay tuned and I will let you know if I make it to the finals.

So the next question...does the reputation of the school (being good) trump diversity or does diversity trump reputation of the school?  I have to make a decision for Bella's school in the next 10 months.  We live around the block from the elementary school that my older kids went to.  Bella really would like to go there, also.  I have already told her that she may not be going there (she may be one of maybe 3 AA kids in the whole school), that Daddy and Mommy must decide the best place for her and it may be different.  I am thinking about applying to a school that has in the past had much more diversity (last year had 4 AA in the kindergarten class!) even though the school around the corner may (stress, may) be a little better.  Hmmmm.  Any thoughts?  Any life experience?  Fill me in.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

That's NOT Fair!

I have been in a Spring cleaning mode!  Getting rid, simplifying.  Yesterday Bella found an old picture frame filled with pictures of our family, that I had put in a box (okay, you are asking why...because I hate the pictures inside the frame...oops, pure vanity).  She was in none of them.  Did I mention Zach was probably 4y in them.  Our discussion went something like this:
Bella: "Where am I?"
Jason:  "Oh, Honey, you were not born yet."
Bella:  "But why am I not in the family picture? Everyone is there but me."
Me:  "You were not even born yet."
Bella:  "That's NOT fair."  And at this point the script would read...She stomps off, arms crossed, with the angriest face she can muster up...until gets into the other room, and the arms uncross, and a smile takes over the little scowl.  She grabs a baby doll and skips off.

You go girl!  I love this little pumpkin and all the "spunk and circumstance" that comes with her.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Chocolate Milk and Moving Forward

Spring has always been a busy time for me.  Tryouts for lacrosse.  Eliza just found out that she is captain of JV.  Zach found out he made the "A" team for lacrosse.  Soccer picks up, too.  Zach plays on 3 teams-town, club which Jason coaches, and ODP.  So I start to fret how and when and of course, why. So when I found this in a book that I am reading, it was a good reminder for me to not fall into the pattern of just getting it done.  Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanne Weaner, the book I am reading, quotes another author

Duty can pack an adequate sack lunch, but love may decide to enclose a note inside...Obligation sends the children to bed on time, but love tucks the covers in around their necks and passes out kisses and hugs (even to teenagers!)...Duty gets offended quickly if it isn't appreciated, but love learns to laugh a lot and to work for the sheer joy of doing it.  Obligation can pour a glass of milk, but quite often, love adds a little chocolate. Love adds a Little Chocolate by Linda Anderson

It was a good reminder to slow down and do the small things that make a big impact on the little souls around me.  Yes, the kids had chocolate milk all week long:) Bella's new thing is wanting to go to kindergarten.  She has a new friend who is in kindergarten.  She also wants to lose a tooth.  Sorry, babe, you just got your three year molars in.  But who knows, if you keep trying to shake those front teeth....

Sent in our application to CHI and have been approved.  Feels good to be moving forward again.  On a positive note, I love our case manager at CHI.  Not only is she an adoptive mom and "gets it," she responds so quickly to any and every question that I have had.  Scary that I actually asked a "how long" question the first day.  Will I never learn???  Actually the question had to do with how long it takes them to review our homestudy.  So we move forward.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Breakin' Up Is Hard To Do

I have not known how to even say this. I kept hoping and praying that we would not have to do this. We are so sad about it. When I told a friend that I felt like I was breaking up with a boyfriend, she said..."yes, but they are dating over 300 other girls." Yes, we have decided not to use Gladney. And truth be told, we are heartbroken about it. They are an amazing agency. We know how well they care for the children. We know how ethical they are. We love Scott Brown and what a faith filled man he is. We also knew that there were children in our parameters waiting for a family. So we struggled and decided that we would not use Gladney for our second adoption. If I were 16, you would find me in my bedroom, surrounded by my 4 closest friends, a box of tissue, 5 spoons, and Haagan Daas ice cream. But I am not 16, am I?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What to say?

It seems that I still have a lot to learn about patience and perseverance.  This week has been bad news after bad news on the adoption front.  I prayerfully hang onto hope that we will be able to add to our family a brother or sister who will share a common heritage with Bella.

So I just deleted the rest of my post.  Maybe over a cup of coffee we can solve the problems of the world.  At this point I carefully edit my thoughts as not to get myself into trouble.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ground Hog Day and a bit of Valentines Day

No not a weather related post.  Ground Hog Day-the movie.  We did our 4th bank letter today.  Yes, you read that correctly. 4.  The people in the bank are lovely.  I become more and more convinced that these obstacles are to weed out the weak.  Now I pray for movement and referrals.



Meanwhile, I painted the half bath.  Chalkboard paint.  Love it!  We have Valentine sayings on the wall.  Right now we have love needs no map, it can find its way blindfolded and love is friendship that has caught fire on the walls.  When I was doing it, Bella walked in and said, "Dad is going to freak out!"    (Where she got freak out, I don't know but it is so cute coming out of the mouth of an almost 4 year old.)   "But do you like it, Bella?"   "Yeah, I love it, but Dad is going to freak out."  So I call Jason to make sure he gives her a big freak out when he gets home.  When he walked in and saw it and gave her a good fuss, she was so tickled pink and kept saying, "Mom did it all by herself."  So she was talking about the fact that I could paint a room all by my self, had nothing to do with the color.  hmmmm  I tackle the family room next.