Sunday, September 30, 2007

Prayers Needed

It's hard to believe, but it seems that our entire adoption is being held up right now by ONE piece of paper. We are having trouble getting the last document for our dossier done correctly, and it's crazy to me that one uncooperative person can throw a wrench in the whole process. While we wait on this one document, the clock is ticking on all the other documents we've already submitted. We have a 6 month window to get everything submitted to Vietnam, and that's 6 months from when the first documents were notarized (in June). I won't go into too much more detail than that, but we really need prayers right now from our brothers and sisters in Christ, please!

If you find yourself thinking of us, please pray that the road blocks will be moved quickly, and that God will soften the hearts of the individuals who are in the position to help or hinder our progress- that He will allow us to find favor with them, and they will be moved towards compassion and kindness.

We really appreciate your prayers, and know that they can make all the difference. I'm sure God has a purpose and plan in all of this, and I believe it will all work out in His timing (and maybe this delay is part of His timing)- but it never hurts to call upon fellow believers to hit their knees! Thanks! I'll let you know as soon as this problem is cleared up.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Long Road to Brianna, Part III: Red Hairs and Banana Stickers

Hi, guys! Made it back from Florida safe and sound. Had a little rain, but nothing that hindered my trip. It was a very eventful, busy week, and I am now ready for a vacation! Isn't that always how it goes?

Anyway, a helpful little bird reminded me that I never did finish my story the other day. I was talking about how hard it was to wait so long, and believe we would get that child God had intended for us. I told you about how God continued to give us confirmation and peace that our match with Bri was not by chance, His plan was not deterred by us dragging our feet, and that it was all done in His timing (see this post for a refresher on Part I, and this one for Part II, if you didn't catch it). I said I'd tell you later about the other neat little hints God gave us.
Then I forgot... Hey-Whaddaya want from me? I'm 40. I have a gazillion kids. I forget things. Sorry.

One of many special details I love to remember about our Gotcha Day happened after we were loaded back onto the bus with Bri to go back to the hotel. I was holding my beautiful, brand new daughter on my lap, snuggled close to my chest. As the sunlight was streaming in through the bus window, I noticed one bright red hair, standing out amongst all the shiny black ones, on top of her little head.
For one thing, it reminded me of the Chinese Legend of the Red Thread (at the bottom of this page, if you've never heard it) which, even by itself, was special. But that wasn't the only thing that stood out to me about the red hair. If you know our family, you might understand where I'm going with this. Red hair tends to run on my husband's side. Three of our children are strawberry blondes and one had gorgeous, dark auburn hair growing up. To me, it was as if God was pointing out that familiar-colored hair to say, "See? She really is yours." It was a neat way for Him to "link" us together. At least I choose to look at it that way...

Another really fun "proof" God has given that this child was meant for us is something she started doing as a toddler and still does today. This is odd, but she likes to take the sticker off the bunch of bananas when I bring them home from the store, and put it right smack in the middle of her forehead. She'd leave it there all day if we'd let her.
What makes this really weird is that I did the same exact thing when I was little! I can almost hear God saying, "That kid is definitely YOURS. She's way too weird to be anyone else's!"
In fact, Brianna and I share more in common with each other than with anyone else in the house. Our passion for Del Monte stickers is only the beginning. There are so many ways we're alike, it's freakish. Two oddballs on opposite sides of the planet, brought together as mother and daughter, by the loving hand of God.
And there have been so many other ways God has shown us how perfect His plan was in making her a part of our family, and even in letting us wait 23 months to have her. I didn't like that part while we were going through it, but I'm so thankful for it now. She was meant to be ours. And she was so worth the wait.
I know some of you are waiting and wondering when this will end. Will there even be an end? Will it end well? So many little things with international adoption can go wrong. As we wait, we hear all the horror stories of yet another failed adoption, eagerly shared by someone who knows someone who heard something. And most of the time, we hear nothing at all. It's the worst kind of limbo, isn't it? My heart goes out to you and I know how hard this is. I know some of you are Believers, too, and started this whole process because you felt that same tugging from the Lord that this is what He wanted you to do. If that's the case, then don't give up! You're own precious little oddball, hand-picked just for you by God Himself, is waiting for you.
"The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8
Your day is coming. Your child is out there. Get some Del Monte stickers ready, just in case.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Crib Recall

Most of you have heard about the huge recall on cribs by now. Anne has done the work of gathering the information on it so instead of repeating it, just read it here (and thank you, Anne!). If you're crib shopping soon, please check it out. I've read some horrible things about some of these models.

Still in Florida and heading to the beach in a minute. Take care!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Off to Florida (to enjoy the rain... YEAH!)

Alex and Mike's school had "Nerd Day" today. Alex tried his best to win the nerd contest, and I say- he's a natural. You can't see it in this photo, but his hat has a dinosaur on it, and he wore a Spiderman sticker on the back of his hand all day. Excellent touches, I thought. He wanted to walk around with his fly unzipped and let his shirt tail stick out of his open fly. I was concerned that I might get a call from the school.
Alas, someone else was nerdier than this and won...

Can you imagine what "nerdier-than-this" looks like? Apparently a fanny pack was involved. The other kid's mom must be so proud.

Tomorrow is "Pirate Day." He's going to shake off today's devasting loss and try again. I have to wake up at the crack of dawn to draw on a "real-looking" beard and mustache (how "real-looking" can it be if it's drawn on with eyebrow pencil?). I don't recall doing this stuff when I was in school. We did really goofy things, like Math and Science and stuff.

I'm leaving tomorrow to visit my mom in Florida for a week . Of course, they are predicting rain and thunderstorms there all week. Oh well, we'll still have fun! I probably won't post much while I'm there so have a great week, Everybody... Talk to you when I get back!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Hey- Great News, Everybody! Paris Hilton Wants Her "Own" Children

I just finished ranting the other day about questions people shouldn't ask and things they shouldn't say (see left sidebar and this post). At least I thought I was finished. Then I read that Paris Hilton was recently quoted as saying:

"Someone just said that I'm adopting four
blonde babies... That's retarded. No, I'm not."
Regarding the thought of adoption, she said,
"Maybe, but I want to have my own children."

Maybe, but I want to have my own children. There are those words again...
Grab the garden hose, somebody. Michelle just burst into flames.
Paris couldn't just say, "Maybe, but I'd also like to experience pregnancy," or something to that effect. And yes, I am remembering who we're talking about here, and I realize she is not known for thinking before she speaks (or for thinking... period). But I wouldn't be ready to spontaneously combust over a statement like that, because I understand that bajillions of women have felt exactly the same way. The experience of pregnancy is a very natural thing to want or wonder about.
But, she didn't say that. She said "my own..."
Why do people insist on using this phrase and others like it?

My own, your own, real parents, real kids, adopted...

Why are all these labels so important to us, especially to those in the media? This seriously drives me up the wall. It honestly hurts me when I hear it, even when it's directed at someone else's child. Does this stem from the fact that I'm an adoptee, too? I don't know. Am I being too sensitive about it? Maybe. But I definitely think the media, and sometimes the general population aren't being sensitive enough.

This categorizing that the media insists upon doing works both ways. Meaning, not only do they always point out when a child is "your own," but they also love to make it clear when he's not, through the nauseating overuse of the word "adopted." Tom Cruise can't just have three children. He has one of his own with Katie Holmes and two adopted with Nicole Kidman. Meg Ryan has an adopted daughter, not just a daughter, and so on. She's had that kid for years now... When does she just get to have a daughter, for Pete's sake? What does the media worry will happen if they forget to make that distinction just once? Will we, the stupid public, become confused and accidentally think this child actually IS Meg Ryan's? Oh, no. That would be... Well... accurate. That would be accurate.

You hear it everywhere. There's no getting away from it, but still... It makes me crazy.

Of course, we can't expect much from poor Paris Hilton. I'm just proud of that poor baby if she manages to be photographed with most of her naughty bits covered (and by the way, does anyone else immediately think "sign-of-the-apocalype" when they think of Paris Hilton being someone's mom?).

One day out with my family in a Chinese restaurant, a very sweet, elderly hostess came over to our table to fuss over the kids. She wanted to know how many of these were my own. I understood what she meant, and her intentions were good, so I tried to quickly say that they are all my own children and leave it at that. Her English wasn't great and she wasn't understanding me. I told her Bri was born in China, and has been a part of our family for five years. Umm... No. Not gonna work. My answer wasn't what she wanted, so she thought I wasn't understanding her. She kept at it, repeating the phrase "your own," trying to help me understand what she was asking me. Finally, to put an end to it- I gave her the information she wanted; that, yes, Brianna is my only adopted child, and the rest are my own. She smiled and nodded, satisfied that I finally gave her the answer she was looking for. I hated doing that. It felt like a defeat. A surrender. I caved. And there was Bri, sitting right there, listening to her mommy put her, and her alone, in the "adopted/not my own" category. I felt sick. Not over saying she's adopted. Of course she knows that. We use the word all the time. But because the only two choices I was given were either adopted, or my own. To place her in one category, meant removing her from the other. It felt like a betrayal of who she really is and what she really means to me. She is my own. I have no problem telling people she was adopted from China, and often do. But I never, ever introduce her as my adopted daughter. NEVER. I never separate my kids into two different groups in my heart, or in my mind, and I hated feeling pushed to do so just to satisfy the curiosity of a stranger.

Anyway, back to Paris and the thought that she will adopt, "maybe," after having her own... I bet I speak for others in the adoption community when I say, thank God it's only a "maybe." I hope she sticks with chihuahuas (Besides, can you even imagine what that home study would be like?).
Thanks for letting me rant a little (again) about this. I realize that I'm kind of preaching to the choir here, and the people that probably need to hear this most, won't. At least I don't think Paris is one of my readers... It still helps though because, if I can vent here, then hopefully I can continue to avoid unloading on sweet little hostesses in Chinese restaurants.

Second Call For WACAP Pioneer Bloggers

Hellloooo? Any other WACAP Vietnam Pioneer Bloggers out there??? I found a few of you, but would love to find more! I also know of one family, at Our Vietnamese Ladybug, who recently received the referral of their daughter (CONGRATULATIONS!) from the Thai Binh province (but with a different agency, I believe). Thai Binh is the same province where WACAP is licensed and currently working, so it's still helpful for us to keep up with each other's developments, even though agency procedures may vary. Are there any other Thai Binh families? Let me know. Thanks!

FAQs: Questions NOT To Ask An Adoptive Parent

I promise you we have been asked each and every one of these; some more often than others. Most of the time we answer politely, then have a good laugh. But sometimes... Well, some of these make us want to SCREAM!

Are you guys trying to be like Angelina?
Excuse me; I just vomited in my mouth a little. International adoption may be the latest trend in Hollywood, but we are not caught up in being trendy (unless we’re talking about shoes. I do enjoy my shoes).

Why don’t you adopt kids right here in the U.S.?
This is the “we should take care of our own first” argument, and yes, there are many children here, as well as throughout the world, in need of loving homes and "forever families." God has led our hearts to adopt internationally. If He’s given you a passion for children here in the States, I would encourage you to act on those feelings. Look into foster parenting and/or domestic adoption. I think that’s great and wish you the best. This question is very similar to the popular, "How come you didn't want to get an American kid?" My only response to this is that each of my children are U.S. citizens, which makes them Americans.

How much did your adoption cost?
Unless you are a very close friend or family member, please don't ask this. And if you are, we'll probably offer the information anyway. Personal financial questions of any sort are rarely appropriate and often make people uncomfortable. How much do you make a year? How much was your car? What kind of house payment can you afford? Most people who know not to ask those questions, still think nothing of asking about our adoption expenses. Let's just say parenting is expensive- whether by giving birth or through adoption- and be content to leave it at that. Adoptive families are usually not wealthy people and often struggle to afford it.

Aren't you too OLD to consider having a (another) child?
Youth is no guarantee of long life and the numbers 40, 50, or above, are not tantamount to imminent death. People die unexpectedly every day, young and old alike, and everyone should have a plan in place for the care of their children, regardless of age. If you’re able to love and care for a child, you can be a parent. If someone asks you this, you can always respond with, "Aren't you too old to be asking such personal questions?" ;D

Shouldn’t you just be happy with having your “OWN” kids?
Each child is our own. There is no difference between biological and adopted. This question implies that the only reason to adopt is if a couple is infertile. It also suggests that people who have been blessed with biological children should not also have a right to adopt, as if the adopted kids should be “set aside” for infertile couples only. Finally, it implies that a parent’s love either is or should be stronger for a biological child. This is insulting to both the parent and the child. For more on this topic, see this post.

Does your child notice that she’s (he’s) different?
There’s no such thing as a stupid question, right? Ummm…. Wrong. I’m sorry, but this question is just plain dopey. I don't even understand where this comes from. OF COURSE my child notices our differences. She knows she’s Chinese, and we are not. And yes, she notices other Asian people and can recognize the similarities. She also notices the constant staring, pointing, and whispering when we are out in public. And incidentally, my other children notice it, too. They notice every time someone fawns and fusses over their sister and goes on and on about how “cute” and “adorable” she is. My other kids are cute and adorable, too.

Don’t you think you’ve had enough kids?
Obviously not, since we’re having another. What this question is really saying is, “*I* think you’ve had enough/too many kids.” If seven children are too many for you, don’t have seven children ;). Our kids are all healthy, happy people, and their needs are being met. We do not rely on government assistance, nor do we ask for handouts from family and friends. Each one of my children is a unique treasure from God, and I cannot imagine what my life would have been without any one of them.

Are you doing this to “save” a child?
I cannot save souls; that’s God’s job. We have no other agenda than to love a child. And if we can provide a home and family to a child who would otherwise not have one, great. International adoption does not necessarily “rescue” a child from a horrible life. It solves some problems, but can also create others.

How will you afford ANOTHER kid?
We won’t. God will. God is our provider. Always has been, always will be, and He’s done a pretty good job so far. If you are asking out of love and concern for us- we appreciate it, but there’s no need to worry; we’ll be fine. If you’re not asking out of love and concern, then I have a question for you. If we aren’t asking you personally for money, why should this be your problem?

Does your kid speak Chinese?
Hee hee... Does yours? : ) Sorry, I don't mean to be nasty. This one is just kind of funny to me. She's been here most of her life and speaks just like the rest of us- she even has a little hick accent goin' on. Language is learned. Period. It is not encoded into one's DNA, like eye color, or a love for chocolate (Do not attempt to argue with me on this. I happen to know for a fact that chocolate addiction is a genetic trait. It has to be.) She speaks a few words and phrases she's learned from the Chinese DVDs we buy her. I would love it if she becomes fluent one day. I would like to become fluent myself, but Chinese is a difficult language to learn.

Do you think she will ever want to find her real parents?/Do you know anything about her real parents?
These are not stupid questions at all, but they are poorly worded and deeply personal- too personal for casual conversation. My daughter lives with her real parents- Darrell and I! I promise we are both REAL people. She also has real birth parents. If it is ever an option for her to search for and/or meet them, we will support whatever choice she makes and help her in every way we can. Everyone has a right to know where they come from. But that will be her choice AND her business.

Glimpse of Orphanage Life

I'm flagrantly stealing from Jeff's blog here. He posted a link to some photos on the Adoption Buzz website. These are from the province of Nam Dinh, which is not where our agency is currently working, but it still gives you an idea of what life is like in Vietnam's orphanages if you're curious.

Friday, September 14, 2007

There's a Squirrel in the Mud Room

We were gone for a good part of the day today on a field trip that Evan skipped in order to catch up on assignments at home. As soon as we got home, Evan very calmly and casually said, "There's a squirrel and a cat that's not ours in our mud room..." He announced this in the same tone he would use to say, "I finished my math lesson," or "We're out of peanut butter."

Now, before I proceed with this story, it's probably important to relay the fact that we do not own a squirrel. PETA also requires me to say that no squirrels were harmed in the following events. At least not seriously.

Our "mud room" is our back entrance off the new kitchen, where our pantry, deep freezer and extra fridge are kept. There is an opening (which I like to affectionately refer to as the vermin portal) in the ceiling for attic access that Darrell has not yet covered. The mud room has only been finished for a couple weeks and these things take time, I'm told. You can't rush a quality construction project. A rushed job is just asking for problems. Anybody knows that.

Anyway... The first perp in question is a cat who has actually broken into our home before. Seriously. Breaking and entering. And, sadly enough, his entry was through a different vermin portal last time. Yes, I know. "How many animal-sized points of entry have these people had?" you ask. Alarmingly, more than one, I say, with my head in my hands and tears in my eyes. He obviously was never properly prosecuted after his last offense. This hardened criminal has seen it all and knows no fear. Screaming, rock-throwing... He is impervious to threats of all kinds. I do not like this animal. I believe he may be a minion of The Evil One.

Keep in mind that we do not live out in the country, where one would expect to deal with all things wild and furry entering one's private sanctuary. We live in town. We have deadbolts on all the doors, and locks on all the windows. And yet, somehow, a foreign cat and his squirrel cohort managed to breach our security.

Our feline intruder left quickly and easily enough (obviously confident I'm sure, of his future return), leaving only the squirrel to contend with. What follows is a fairly accurate transcript of the squirrel's very humane release back into the wild. No names have been changed to protect people who will not close up the vermin portal:
Darrell: Evan, are you sure there's a squirrel out there?
Evan: Yes.
Darrell: How do you know?
Evan: Because I saw him.
Darrell: But how do you know he's still there?
Evan: Because I see him.
Darrell: Where?
Evan: Right there.

Michelle: Oh, I see him, Darrell. He's sitting right there behind the freezer. What do we do now?
Darrell: I'm thinkin' this is gonna turn out a lot like Chevy Chase in "Christmas Vacation" ...Remember that?
(Evan laughs at this. Chevy Chase and that squirrel were pretty funny.)
Michelle: What are we going to do?

Darrell: We're gonna get him to go this way, out the door (Darrell starts pulling freezer away from wall).
Michelle: We are? How are we... Oh, cripes. He's looking right at me. He's looking at me, Darrell. He sees me and he knows what we're up to.
Darrell: Be ready.
Michelle: Huh? ...Ready? Ready for what?
Darrell: For him to haul butt outta there.
Michelle: What? Is he gonna run right at me? Like, do you mean running up my leg? Why is that hole still open, anyway, Darrell? How high can these things jump, Darrell?
(Michelle takes broom handle and uses it to ever-so-gently encourage the squirrel to walk the other way)
Darrell: Is he coming?
Michelle: No. He's sitting there, letting me lift his butt up and down off the floor with the broom handle. He doesn't seem to be intimidated at all, Darrell. What do we do now?
Darrell: You have to get him to come this way.
Michelle: Whaat? Why don't we just let him come out the other side and swoosh him with the broom. Cripes... He just went under the freezer.
(Under the freezer he sits for the next several minutes, while Darrell rethinks our strategy)
Michelle: OK, do you see him? Is he coming? He's gonna run right at your face!
Darrell: If he does, I'm gonna ____ (perform a bodily function that has been bleeped, out of respect for our readers. You're welcome...)!
Michelle: Oh, he's back out now.
Darrell: OK, now push him this way, towards the open door.
Michelle: Wait, don't let him go. I want to take his picture.
Darrell: You what?
Michelle: Somebody bring me the camera! ...Come on, hurry!
Some sweet, small person's voice: What are you guys doing out here?

Michelle: Shut that door, quick- you'll let him out!!
Some sweet, small person's voice: Let what ou...
Darrell: Is he still back there? I can't see where he is.
Michelle: Can't anybody bring me the camera? What is wrong with you people? This is an emergency!
Some sweet, small person's voice: Um... Where is the camera, Mommy?
Michelle: It's in the thing! Someplace over there on the thing in that thing. Maybe in my room! Someone put it somewhere, I think. I dunno. Find it!
Darrell: Are you seriously taking a picture of this?

Michelle: Yeah! I'm gonna put it on my blog.
Some sweet, small person hands Michelle the camera.
Darrell: Do you have your picture yet?
Michelle: Oh, yeah. Sorry, I've taken plenty. I forgot to tell you I was done.
Michelle gets her shot, and Darrell manages to gently encourage squirrel to walk towards the door, and run frantically back out into the wild. Michelle walks away, to document this monumental event on the blog, quite confident that the whole incident will cause Darrell to get right on the job of closing up the vermin portal without further delay.

"Mom," says small person... "Dad just fell asleep on the couch."

Cripes... Cripes, I say. And the portal remains.

Here are a few pictures of my sweeties having fun this afternoon, unaware of the invasion going on at home.

And my precious friend, Lanie (on the left)...

And finally...

The Squirrel Hunters

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dossier Almost Done (I hope...)

Good morning! How is your day going so far? We're getting ready to start school (late, as usual- stop typing, Mommy...), and we're going to the boys' football game tonight. We have a field trip to a zoo tomorrow, with our homeschool group, which the little ones are excited about (Mama's not, there's too many other things we need to be doing).

Nothing terribly excited to report adoption-wise, except that our accountant said her letter will be ready next Monday. That's the last piece of paper we've been waiting on, so soon we'll have a completed dossier to submit- YEAH!

I see that I've had visitors on this blog from as far away as Belgium, Australia, and France. I get a few Canadians from time to time, too- as well as all over the U.S. That's just mind-boggling to me that what started out as a simple way to keep family members informed is being viewed by someone in Belgium. How cool!

Hope you all have a fantastic day, full of blessings, good news, and joy!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Long Road to Brianna, Part II

When I left off, we had just decided to pursue adoption. I called the agency (whose newsletters I'd been reading for the past several years) and we signed up. That was it. No research. No questions. No joining various groups to ask for opinions or references. Just, "Where do we sign, and how much do we make the first check out for?" What dopes! My favorite saying for this is that "God's grace is with the simple-minded."

Even though I was thrilled that we were finally going to do this, I still had my worries. I was afraid that we may have missed God's timing. What if the child God had originally intended to be ours had already been given to someone else because we'd waited too long? What if she had been wasting away, suffering from neglect, in some orphanage and would never be able to attach to us. What if, what if, what if?

Adding to those worries were a million other little things. I flunked my medical exam and had to have additional tests run before I could be cleared. We had major financial setbacks right when it was time to start shelling out the big money. There seemed to be all kinds of delays with getting our dossier together. After waiting so long, I had no patience left to wait for anything else, but it felt like that's all I was doing. Waiting. It took 10 months to finally get our dossier to China. It was another 13 months to get our referral. All that time we waited with barely a word from our agency. And I continued to worry that we had missed God. The "what ifs" drove me nuts. And I drove Darrell nuts. His nature is so much calmer than mine. He told me all along that if I truly believed this was of God, then I also had to believe we would get the baby God had meant for us.

When our referral finally came, there were several confirmations that she was "our girl" right away. For one thing, I had always had a definite mental picture of how she would look. I even tried to draw the little girl of my imagination so I could compare later on and see how close she was to the real thing. I never did feel like I got the facial features to match my mental image just exactly right, but the baby in my drawing had a huge "peter pan" collar.

This is the first photo we received of Bri.
See the collar?

I always thought that was pretty cool. Then we counted back from her birth date and realized she was conceived the same month Darrell finally changed his mind and we started the adoption, AND she was born the same month our documents got to China.
Today, there is no doubt in my mind that the timing was in God's hands all along. What seemed to me like a lack of faith and cooperation on Darrell's part, I now view as a deliberate attempt on God's end to hold him back until the right time. I would have jumped right in, and possibly missed God whispering for me to be patient and wait. Every second of waiting had a purpose. We weren't waiting for a dossier. Or a medical report. Or money, or a referral, or anything else. We were waiting for Brianna. God wasn't going to let our adoption move one second faster than it was supposed to because a faster adoption would have resulted in the referral of a different baby. Not our baby. Bri was our baby.

The confirmations didn't end with the referral. God is so incredibly good! They kept coming even after we got to China, but I'll tell you about that later.

If you are waiting for your child today, I hope you can believe that there is a purpose to your wait. Hang in there. It is soooo worth it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Long Road to Brianna, Part I

Some of you have never gotten the full scoop on how we arrived at our decision to adopt Brianna, and what the process was like. I've been thinking quite a bit about it lately, because several other bloggers have recently spoken about how hard it is too keep waiting and I recall those feelings all too well. I can definitely empathize with you.

So, for those of you who don't know, here's the whole story... It's gonna be a long one.

I knew I wanted to adopt long before Darrell did. People ask all the time if I wanted to adopt because I am an adoptee. I don't know if I ever thought about that, consciously. It may have had something to do with it, but only in the back of my mind (a little back story... I met my birth mother and 2 half siblings when I was 26 years old. That's not relevant to this story, but people ask about it, so... there you go.).

I saw a small ad in our local paper for an informational seminar, to be held at a church near us, about international adoption. I mentioned it to Darrell and he had no interest in going, or even in considering adoption at that time. His basic sentiment was, "That's the last thing we need right now." And it was. We had a houseful of young children, and were struggling to make ends meet back then. It wasn't logical to add another kid. I thought there was no harm in at least getting some information about it, so I called the agency number on the ad and asked to be put on their mailing list to receive an info packet and their monthly newsletter. I don't recall exactly when this was, but I've found old newsletters from 1994, so it was quite a while ago. At this time, I don't think I really knew God was involved yet. It was just "my own" vague idea.

I started receiving the newsletters, and my heart began to break when I'd see the faces of waiting or recently adopted children. I'd show Darrell and wait for his heart to break, too. It didn't. Some time passed and I asked Darrell if we could sponsor a child through "Compassion International," thinking maybe that would take care of the yearning that was growing within me. He agreed and I think he also hoped that would be the end of it. It wasn't.

Over the next few years, my yearning to adopt became more intense and more specific. I began to feel that God was wanting us to adopt a baby girl from China, but He hadn't told Darrell anything about it. Darrell knew that if God was really in it, He would confirm it in both of us. In my stupidity, I kept trying to convince Darrell that I was right and to listen to me. I hadn't yet figured out that the easiest and "right" way to pray would be to ask God to just tell Darrell Himself. I was trying to handle it in my own power, instead of His.

We eventually added another child to our Compassion sponsorship, but my feelings didn't go away. Darrell thought I was just having "baby cravings" and in 1998 we had our 4th child, another boy. When my nagging didn't quit, Darrell told himself it was just because I had all boys and still wanted a girl. By this time, I was feeling a sense of desperation and was definitely approaching my wits' end. I started experiencing the weirdest feelings at night that are still difficult to put into words. It sounds really strange trying to describe it, but when it would get dark, I would feel very restless. I'd start worrying about someone, but I didn't know who. The only thing I can compare it to would be sending your child off on their first trip away from home. You worry and you wish you could kiss them good-night, etc. You feel anxious because their care and safety is now outside of your control. It was like that, but multiplied a hundred times. I'd have thoughts like, "I wonder if she has anyone to rock her to sleep," or "I wonder if she's afraid of the dark." Then I'd immediately think, "You wonder if WHO has anyone to rock her to sleep? Who are you thinking about, Crazy?" I tried explaining all this to Darrell, but struggled to make him understand, since I didn't understand it myself. I think he thought I was being a bit of a drama queen (I have been guilty of that on rare occasions...). I really did start feeling a little nutty. How could I love and miss someone so badly if I didn't even know them?

In '99, business was doing well enough that Darrell said we could have another baby. We found out we were having a girl, and I'm sure he believed all my nagging would end. I was finally getting my baby girl. No more need to adopt one. The crazy lady will shut up now. Instead, when she was born (in 2000), I think my feelings intensified. As thrilled as I was to be having another baby and my first daughter, I couldn't shake the feeling that she wasn't my only daughter. I felt guilty at times, as if by taking care of her, I was neglecting my other daughter. Again, it felt and sounded like pure crazy.

How did I handle these crazy feelings? With grace and inner strength? With undying faith that God was working on it? Not quite. I got mad at God. I felt it was so unfair that He would give me such an overwhelming burden and broken heart for a child I couldn't have. The pity parties started, complete with balloons and streamers. WHY was He doing this to me? WHY didn't He just tell Darrell, if this was what He wanted us to do? Hey, wait a minute... A tiny, night-light sized flicker went on in my head... I prayed, "Lord, I know you want us to adopt a baby girl from China. Will you PLEASE convince Darrell of it? Please tell him this is of you and not me." Why did it not occur to me to pray this way before? I have no idea. Pride, maybe? I had prayed, of course, but it was for God to "make him listen to me." "Make him see I'm right, Lord!" I wanted Darrell to just accept that I had heard from God and act on my word, I guess.

Anyway, four months after Olivia was born (and only a few short weeks after I changed my prayer angle) we were in the car, listening to a Christian radio station. Darrell let me out to run into a store. When I came out and got back in the car he said, "Listen," in a hushed, clipped voice, and turned up the radio. A woman was giving her testimony of how God led her to adopt a baby girl from China. She was for it; her husband was not. She spoke of how she began to have these strange feelings of missing someone. Worrying about someone. But she didn't know who. She described a restlessness at night that wouldn't go away. Her husband wanted to have a biological child. She got pregnant and miscarried. As we sat listening to her story unfold, Darrell's heart was changed, right then and there in the car. What I had tried to accomplish through years of struggle, God accomplished in 10 minutes. That was on a Sunday afternoon. We called the agency the next morning and got started. I'll tell the rest tomorrow. Lunchtime is over and I have to get back to school.

(**By the way- Since today is Sept. 11th, I'd like to say my thoughts and prayers are with all who were affected by the tragedy six years ago. You are not forgotten. God bless.)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Some Questions Should NOT Be Asked

On the left side column, you'll notice I've listed some of the most common questions we get regarding our choices to adopt and have a large family. In addition to these, we receive plenty of thoughtful, good questions, positive comments and support, too- but these are the top winners in the negative category. If you're reading this and have been guilty of asking one of these, be comforted in knowing you're probably not the only person who asked. We've heard these so many times, we rarely recall specifically who asks what, so you're not being singled out.

I was just curious... To other adoptive parents: What are some of the questions you've been asked that are either really insensitive or stupid, or really get you ticked? Sometimes, it's not even the nature of the question that gets to us as much as the number of times it's been asked, isn't it? People don't realize that they are probably the 253rd person to ask. How do you respond to offensive (or insensitive/ignorant/embarrassing/repetitive/hurtful) questions? Maybe more importantly, how do you plan to teach your child to respond to those questions (they're going to learn more from our attitudes in handling these things than we may want)? Maybe a discussion of this topic will help our friends and families to know what to say (or not), and how to phrase questions or comments they have in non-hurtful ways. I know the majority of people have good intentions and never mean to be hurtful, but we can all be insensitive and stupid sometimes. I know I certainly am.

Comments, anyone?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Mike Huckabee responds to evolution question

I know you guys aren't reading this blog to hear my political opinions, so I'm not going to start a big political discussion or cram my views down your throat. There are other forums for that kind of thing and many other people who can do it better than I. However, I also know some of you are fellow Christians and might be interested in this. If you don't want to hear it, don't click "Play." Mike Huckabee is a Christian running for Pres. and this is a snip from a recent debate hosted by CNN. I thought he did an excellent job answering this question and standing up to Wolf Blitzer and felt it deserved a little attention. Don't worry- I won't do this to you very often ;).

Friday, September 7, 2007

I lifted this from Anne's blog and thought it was pretty funny. I wonder if these are actually for sale somewhere. If so, I'm totally getting one.

New Name... For Blog and Baby

As you can see, the title of my blog has changed. One reason is that there are so many blogs with the words adoption and/or journey in them that it's becoming harder all the time to differentiate. I apologize to the few out there who have a link to my blog on theirs and will have to change the name. Sorry to be difficult.

The other reason is to share with all of you that we have chosen a name for the new baby. We have settled on "Samuel" (Sam). The name came to me one morning while reading my Bible. I've always loved the story of Hannah and Samuel and realized one day that Hannah's feelings kind of "fit" mine regarding this adoption. After praying and struggling so long, believing this is what God wanted for us and leaving it in His hands to tell Darrell, He did (finally!) and I was overjoyed.

"I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD..." I Sam. 1:27

Samuel sounds like the Hebrew for "heard of God" and I definitely have been. For some amazing reason, God continues to not only hear my prayers, but to answer them and bless me over and over again. He's so incredibly good to us and constantly amazes me with His ability to bless me so far beyond what I ever dared to hope for.

Of course, Sam will not actually be our 7th child. He's my 7th, but our 10th. Darrell's 3 older children are all wonderful people, so this is not meant as a slight to any of them- I'm not leaving anybody out!! But you gotta admit "And Sam Makes Seven" has a better ring to it, than "And Sam Makes Ten," huh?

Baby Sam's middle name is still up in the air. I love the name Ezra (another Biblical name) because it's kind of funky and you don't hear it much, but I also love the idea of incorporating my late father's name (Robert) in there. too. My dad would have gotten such a kick out of all these kids. He was a wonderful Papa! He never got to meet Brianna, but he would have loved her like crazy, and I believe he would have been excited for us to adopt again. We also have to consider the fact that we will keep some part of Sam's Vietnamese name, too- so we're talking a looonnnnggg name here. Any suggestions? If you have thoughts on names, we're open to hearing them, as long as you don't get offended if yours doesn't get picked!

So, there you have it... What does everybody think?

{You'll notice down there on the lower right side, I have a section called "The Refrigerator Door" to let the kids show off their masterpieces. Olivia has drawn a picture of herself with baby Sam. All the kids are so excited about another baby in the house (Mama is too!)}.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

My, My, My... How Times Have Changed!

A friend forwarded the following to me today in an email. This is supposedly an actual Good Housekeeping article from 1955, although I haven't thoroughly checked it out.

I submit this for your perusal, to make of it what you will. Some of it, I actually agree with. Any married person (regardless of gender) should make an effort for the one they love. I'm old-fashioned enough to believe that a little more effort would equal a lot less divorce. Then again, some of it makes me vomit in my mouth a little, too. The "staying out all night" thing takes the cake. You'll see...

Opinions, anyone?

The text reads:

"The good wife’s guide

Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready, on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal (especially his favourite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.

Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.

Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.

Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives.

Gather up schoolbooks, toys paper, etc. and then run a dishcloth over the tables.

Over the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children’s hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair and, if necessary, change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part. Minimise all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer, or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.

Be happy to see him.

Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.

Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first- remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.

Make the evening his. Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner, or other places of entertainment without you. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his very real need to be at home and relax.

Your goal: Try to make sure your home is a place of peace, order and tranquility where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.

Don’t greet him with complaints and problems.

Don’t complain if he’s late home for dinner, or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day.

Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or have him lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.

Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.

Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.

A good wife always knows her place."

Okay, Quick show of hands... Who's glad it's not 1955?