Wednesday, September 21, 2011

All Fall Down

For a while now, my dreams have been of paperwork and notaries.  Every night.  This was one of many reasons why I was so grateful to turn over the paperwork and start the wait. 

But there are thoughts you have in the darkness that no one prepares you for.

Right now, adoption is literally under attack.  There is much concern about trafficking and adoption abuse.  When you begin the adoption journey, these facts hit you in the face and chase you in the night.

What if my child could have remained with their parents for a few dollars a month?  What if there is a mother crying in the night for the child she just gave up due to poverty? 

It's enough to make you quit.  Or take the entire adoption loan and donate it to a mother, or a family, or a village.

Dr. Jane Aronson responded to the recent adoption concerns in the Huffington Post yesterday:  "Why did we create such a marvelous bureaucracy to improve international adoption practices and not pour some of that money into the welfare of mothers in these countries?" 

The reality is that if we feed the mothers, we feed the children.  If we educate the mothers, we save the children.  If we give parents access to antiretroviral medications for HIV/AIDS, lives are saved and families remain intact.

I have noticed that parents of internationally adopted children naturally fall into a common stream of charities or causes.  You would think it would be "Adopt!  We did it!  It's great!"  It is; but it's not.  The causes are AIDS, poverty, and clean water.  It is a natural progression to care for these things when you care for a child affected by AIDS, poverty, and famine.  Promoting these issues are promoting orphan care. 

There is a major dilemna that we all must face as Christians at some point.  As Americans, we are ALL wealthy in comparison to the rest of this world.  As Americans, we are known to the rest of this world as a "Christian nation". 

Americans give to the hungry at a low percentage of their GNP (gross national product) in comparison to other nations.  What are we, as individual wealthy Christian Americans, telling the poverty-stricken world around us about Jesus Christ?  What are we telling the world about the Gospel? 

We are NOT the widow giving up her two coins
We are the rich, making a big show of our tiny gifts. 

Our adoption is not fixing any large problem.  It is just an act of obedience.  You may not feel called to adopt, but I will tell you that you can still do something to impact the orphan crisis in a huge can sponsor a child.  You can be an active voice for the hungry and the poor, putting action behind your voice.  You can be aware that "if you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep, you are richer than seventy five percent of the people in the world." 

We can raise our children to understand that our wealth is determined by what we give to Jesus, not what we keep for ourselves.  We can give until it hurts; the essense of "sacrificial giving".  It's a lesson that I think I will have to spend the rest of my life learning, as I struggle to un-learn the American Dream and realign myself with the words of Jesus Christ. 

These children.

 Waiting in cribs that are lined up like kennels.  

Waiting in beds lined with chicken wire, crying for their loss of everything, waiting for us to figure out what to do with them, while we argue over pie charts about how to do it.

Paul and I have been called to carry one of these children, maybe more than one, as our own.  I don't know why.  I don't have to.  It's just The Plan.  What happens after that point will be our mission and responsibility for the rest of our lives; to care for and promote that child's country, to bring to the attention of other Christians the poverty and disease that is swallowing children and people whole.  I am grateful for this burden.

Thank you, Lord.
For breaking my heart.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

No Greater Love

A friend is someone who is happy to see you

who will hold your hand on the long journey

A friend cheers you on in the small things

....they bring you back to the flock when you wander too far.

A friend is someone to break bread with

And someone to pray with

A friend celebrates your new life.

They make you brave.

A friend stands beside you when you face the wilderness.

Thank you for being my friends.
You know who you are.

"I thank my God every time I remember you."
- Philippians 1:3

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"He's From Ethiopia"


Lunch with our friends from the movie theater
was a success.

We met our new friends at a
local authentic Ethiopian restaurant.

It was authentic.  No silverware.

The kids got along instantly.

Isaac and Emma Grace taught Lilly that the
"pancakes" were actually "injera". 


Daisy was a good sport.  She tried "injera" and "kik alicha".
The waitress insisted that this was "perfect for babies".  When Daisy tried it,
the waitress declared that Daisy was "very smart".
Then Daisy finished her Uncrustable.

Jesus was there.
At our table, and on the walls.

The kids made good use of the stage

and the ceremonial play area coffee area.

The guys were able to finish off most of the platters. 
And by "guys", I mean Issac.

Isaac paid the tab for his family.
It was a very cute moment.

Here's to new friends and family.
Happy Ethiopian New Years 2011!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Buckle Up

One of our adoption loans fell through yesterday.
It was a tough day.  But there have been other tough days...

The day we told friends and family about our plan, the emotional support was overwhelming.  However, many asked,
"How do you KNOW that this is God's calling?" 

It got to me.  

I woke my oldest daughter from her nap and drove her to the dollar theater to see Pooh Bear, something I would never normally do. 

It was raining. 
Hurricane Irene was passing over our heads.

It started raining really hard on the drive over, and I just cried while I drove. 
I was really, really scared. 
What if we were wrong? 
What if we were outside of "The Plan"? 

I begged God for a sign, or at least some comfort.

Soaked from the rain and still wiping tears from my eyes, I purchased tickets at the booth.  I turned to find my daughter staring face to face with a little boy. 

She whispered just loud enough for me to hear, "Mommy, is this my brother?"

I quickly apologized to the little boy's Mommy, explaining the adoption. 

She said It's okay... 
He's from Ethiopia. 

I was speechless.  I went to the popcorn stand and the woman fell in line behind me again.  We exchanged numbers, and she invited us to join her family for the Ethiopian New Year's dinner at a local Ethiopian restaurant in September. 

That day is today.

His rainbows are everywhere in our lives right now.  

If this small bump knocked us off the course, we would not make it through the trials that lie ahead either.  

He's GOT this!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Paper Pregnancy

All of the symptoms are there. 

My adoption friends had told me that there would be something like a pregnancy that takes over your brain during the dossier process. 
So true.  I can barely think straight. 

Why does this happen?  Because of this this..

Appeasing all of the governmental agencies with the required paperwork is
on par with natural childbirth.  I've now done both. 
I would be hard pressed to pick the fiercer competitor. 
One is fast and furious.  One is slow and painful. 

A particular piece of paper is causing a lot of problems.  USCIS requires backup documentation for the background check. 
For almost two weeks, I called every half hour.  It did not look good:

"Ma'am, what you are asking for does not exist.  It is impossible."

"Ma'am, you would be better off getting an audience with the governor and asking him to talk to my supervisor's supervisor. 
It would be faster than me getting that far."

"Ma'am, the Attorney General himself could come down here and tell us to provide that letter, and we still would not do it."

I was very nice.  I just kept asking for the next supervisor. 
A few times, I would hit a wall:

"Ma'am, I AM the supervisor."  (PopCopy, anyone?)

Late one afternoon, with low bloodsugar pumping, I just pressed random buttons on the automated prompter until I got an unknown person's voicemail.  I had no idea whose.

And I lost it. 

I was still very nice, but about halfway through explaining the request for the 300th time, I started to cry.  On a message machine. 

I hung up quickly and said a prayer.  I decided to take a break. 

The next morning, I was up before dawn. I examined my exhausted list of contacts at the clerks office and then settled in for more prayer.  I got low. 

The phone rang early. 

A woman named Deborah called and explained that she was calling to solve my paperwork problem, and that she was going to personally handle the situation.  The impossible letter would be in the mail today.  Her voice was one of the kindest I had ever heard. 

She was the recipient of my sobbing phone call the day before. 
Somehow, I had randomly pressed the right buttons to get to
the actual Clerk of Court's Administrative Assistant.

God reminds me every day that these battles are not mine to fight.  He is doing all of the work, pressing all of the "random buttons".  I have to remember this.  Anyone who is adopting has to remember this.  It's a divine calling, and He's got this under control.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Bless This Mess

The homestudy lady looked right at me and asked,

"Can you handle this?"

No, I can't.  God can.
He gives me just enough strength to make it
through each day; every day.

He already does that for me.

Several background checks are required for adoption.  FBI fingerprinting is one of them.  I showed up for this appointment covered in strawberry jelly and a pajama shirt.  It was the best I could do that day.

I brought both kids along with me.

Lilly cried when we got to the courthouse. 
I had to explain that Mommy said we were going to the COURTHOUSE.  Not the CLUBHOUSE. 

Any mom with a toddler who watches Disney channel can understand the type of epic meltdown that occured when she processed this tragic misunderstanding.

A group of rowdy teenagers were blocking the door to the courthouse.  
They moved out of my way.  Quickly.  I was pushing my double stroller full of screaming children, talking to myself:


"You can't do this, girl, but God CAN. 
He can get you through this day. 
He will SUSTAIN you. 
Thank you Jesus!   Thank.  You.  Jesus!"

While I was fingerprinted, the young technician casually asked why I was getting FBI clearance. 

"I am adopting a child." 

"Oh..."  She eyed my two toddlers, who were smearing the jelly from the insides of their sandwiches on each others heads.  Lilly proceeded to lick the jelly off of Daisy's head during the pause, while the technician and I stared.

She sighed heavily.  She must think I am nuts.

"...That's wonderful."  She said it purposefully.  She squeezed my ink-convered hand. But I could also tell she would not trade her job with mine for a second.  I remember why, too. 

I remember working.   In a classroom... 

...wearing shirts WITHOUT jelly smeared down the front of them.  Students with sunny faces yelling "SPOOOOOOTZ" and running to hug me when they saw me down a long hall. 
Having a lanyard and other official grown up tools and badges. 
I miss this.

Seeing the moms with morning hairdos and frantic faces in the drop off lines...
I said I was going to be different.  I was not going to have jelly on my shirts in public.

I was going to be the "Cool" mom. 
After all, I was the cool teacher. 
How hard could it be?

Oh, the joys that come with a jelly-stained shirt. 

Morning cuddles. 
Jesus stories in our pajamas. 

Teaching my children at our kitchen table.

Thank you for giving me sanity
in the midst of this insanity.
Thank you for sustaining me.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Ransom

God paid a heavy ransom for the souls of the Believing

Some people erroneously believe that God CREATED Jesus right before He sent Him to earth to pay for our sins, as if God said, "I need to send someone down there, and it's not gonna be me, so I am going to create a multiple of me and call him my Son."  

This is far from true.  

In face, Jesus is the CREATING Word found in Genesis, part of the Trinity.

Understanding the Trinity is a mind-blowing task, and for me it requires charts and visual aids.   I like this one.

Understanding that God IS all three entities and yet is not interchangeable in nature and function is crucial.  Once it is understood that GOD AS TRINITY exists as both one and three parts; it really defines love.  Love always reflects off of another.

Understanding that God the Father shared love and infinite time with His Son Jesus BEFORE sending Him to Earth really defines the sacrifice that was made. 

I have known my oldest daughter for 3 years.

God knew and loved Jesus for infinity, and then He gave Him to us so that we could spit on Him and nail Him to a tree...

He willingly came and paid for the sins of the believing on the Cross 

ultimately for His own glory.  

That was God's ransom for His children.

I think of the price of parenthood a lot now.  

Adoption is obscenely expensive.  It's hard to swallow paying for your child.  It mirrors a ransom.  It doesn't really matter who gets the money, if they deserve it, if adoption SHOULD be cheaper. It is a ransom to bring our child home, and it is the symbolic price of something bigger.  It makes us uneasy.  It makes us know that we are not, in this process, guaranteed a life of comfort, especially in following Jesus and taking up our own crosses.   

How much would I pay for Lilly?  For Daisy?  

I would pay with my life.  All true mothers would.  

And yet God still loves us more than that...

Jesus had a father on earth, too.

Jesus was adopted by Joseph.  Joseph didn't just "accept" Jesus, he gave Jesus the training of his trade; a Jewish tradition of the times, and a birthright of sorts.  I picture Joseph in that woodshop, working side by side with his Son, Boy Jesus.  Teaching Jesus to hammer.  Teaching Jesus to take the time and patience that a skilled carpenter needs, and finding his boy already filled with patience.  Men, would you have walked away?  Would you have believed?  Would you have accepted this boy that was not of your own as your own? 


Adoption on this earth is a demonstration of what God does for us. 

He picks us up out of our mess, cleans us off, makes us His own, and gives us full biological hereditary rights to His kingdom. 

  "While we were still sinners,
Christ died for us."