Anyone who knows me in real life knows I'm super forgetful. I don't know what the deal is. Obviously I can be thoughtful at times but there's a whole other side of me that is absolutely out to lunch. I mean it.
So, when I decided to start up a Wednesday Bible study group and commit to memorizing the book of James (Yes, you read that right, THE ENTIRE BOOK of James) for the purpose of hiding the word in our hearts and developing a new discipline, I was excited but lacked confidence that I could, in fact, pull it off.
As you might suspect I didn't have many takers joining my group. But, 3 brave, beautiful souls signed up to take the crazy challenge along with me.
We're a no guilt group. That means we have a rough outline of the number of verses we'd like to have memorized each week, but life happens and if something gets in the way and we don't have everything memorized for the week we press on guilt free. No looking back. Only looking forward.
One tool we've used to keep each other going while reinforcing what we're learning is to type emails to each other from memory going as far as we can. Then we either self check our work and underline the parts we need to work on or send it off for others to check. It's been immensely helpful for me.
To this day everyone in our group has done an amazing job memorizing and has made major progress!
For my personal progress I am pleased to announce that for the first time in my life I have enjoyed real success in my attempt to memorize Scripture. I have now officially committed to memory the first chapter of James and I was able to do it within two weeks. Thanks, in large part, to our group's emailing system.
Now the real feat will be in securing it there and seeing to it that nothing goes running off!
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Anyone who knows me in real life knows I'm super forgetful. I don't know what the deal is. Obviously I can be thoughtful at times but there's a whole other side of me that is absolutely out to lunch. I mean it.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Often when people talk with me about our adoption they want to know what it is like to have to open your home to a social worker. I can relate. Before Dustin and I took the plunge our main source of apprehension came from the idea of having our lives scrutinized under a microscope.
Dustin and I are not perfect people. We both have "histories". We were terrified we'd be judged harshly by a social worker. We didn't feel warm fuzzies at the idea of being graded on our acceptability as parents. Social workers seemed to us to be some kind of checklist loving nitpicks.
Turns out we had it all wrong. A social worker's job isn't to judge perspective adoptive parents. While they are there to determine your accceptability as parents it isn't what you might think. A social worker wants to support families and encourage their success. They want to help determine what needs parents will be best able to meet for a child/ren. They want to equip parents and to be a resource for them. They are not the enemy.
Most refreshing of all, our experience with social workers has been that they are surprisingly realistic. Turns out they don't walk through your home doing white glove tests to ensure your housekeeping is immaculate. Nor do social workers care if your home decor is modern or country in style. The don't mind sitting on a couch that a child has drawn on with crayon. (Trust me) It seems they only want to know your home is filled with love and is safe to place a child in.
So, if you've been tossing around the idea of adoption and apprehension about the home study process has been a hang-up for you I want to encourage you to contact me. You can pick my brain about the process, types of questions asked, anything. Truly. My email is in my profile info. Feel free to write any time.
In similar news I finished my last visit with our family's super awesome social worker today. We are one step closer to bringing A* home! Yipee! We also have our 12 month post placement visit with her scheduled for the beginning of December.
A friend cracked me up today mentioning how insane we are to be doing another adoption while we are finishing up paperwork from the first one. I totally agree! Whose idea was this anyway?
Monday, October 26, 2009
Of all the HIV resources I've devoured while researching and preparing for A* to come home this book earns my vote, hands down, for the fastest read with the most informative bang for your buck.
May I recommend*: 100 Questions and Answers about HIV and AIDS
This book is written in a conversational style which makes it a breezy, engaging read while doing a great job of providing the required amount of science. The questions are cross referenced which I found to be very helpful. The book also contains helpful information about the various types of ARVs and their side effects, etc.
I'm planning to give it as a gift to all the grandparents this Christmas.
* I have not been paid in any way to promote this book
Also please note the link to the right for our online Coffee Store at Just Love Coffee Roasters. $5 from every bag you purchase at our store will go directly toward our adoption expenses. Happy brewing :-)
Friday, October 23, 2009
We went to our appointment today at USCIS to have our biometrics recorded for A*'s visa. Unbelievably, we made it in immediately and were completely finished within a half hour. Amazing! So, that's it. Done.
Next Tuesday is my last HS visit with our SW. Just waiting on that HS to be approved by the state court and our dossier will be finished :-)
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Seeing as ours was an interracial family before we brought our son Jonas home from Ethiopia (my sister-in-law and brother-in-law are an interracial couple with bi-racial children) our extended family already had experience dealing with various curiosities and questions about interracial marriage.
I have often been asked how we plan to raise our sons to select a wife. It seems to be an intriguing idea to people (surprisingly, not trans racial families but others outside of the adoption sphere.) One questioner in particular was implying that they expected we would steer our boys toward black women exclusively.
I've heard some pretty wacky things come out of people's mouths (people who are even close to me. Christian people who wouldn't think of their ideas as being racist) regarding why they believe it's better for the resulting kids if people don't marry "outside their race". Another annoyingly ignorant position is this crazy idea that the races should remain "pure". Whatever the heck that means.
I'm appalled at people's notions to be blunt. I've struggled within myself to remain calm as I've felt the heat rising in me during these conversations, to temper my inward reactions with love, and to strive to come up with a way to clearly express what I believe is the truth about interracial marriages and families. I've been burdened to pray for friends who, I believe, are behaving in ignorance on the subject.
It's difficult for me because I'm a fight or flight kind of person. It's often the case that I either throw off my gloves and go at a conflict hard and heavy or shy away desiring peace. Truth cannot be sacrificed to avoid conflict and so it must be spoken. I realize that, on this subject, I cannot give peace where there is none and so I must learn to handle myself well. I need to figure out how to operate somewhere between fight and flight.
John Piper has written an excellent article which addresses the issue far better than I ever could. His words have helped me to frame my response to the totally wacked out stuff I hear. It's my prayer that every time I'm confronted with opposing ideas my response will be refined and my message will become clearer.
I encourage everyone, not just trans racial AP's, to follow this link :
Saturday, October 17, 2009
I love this video on the dignity of life, God's sovereignty and disabled child made in the image of God. Take a moment to watch how Chuck Colson and R.C. Sproul view their special needs grandchildren.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
I've got the final visit with our SW on the books for Tues the 27th.
I'm not sure how long it will take her to type up our HS but I assume it's going to be relatively quick because 1) she's professional and prompt in all our dealings 2) she has the existing framework of our previous Home Study to work from. All she will need to do is update a few ages and add the changes in request to include A*'s special needs. I don't think it will take her more than 2 weeks to finish and submit to the courts.
As I mentioned before it seems the courts in our state are still returning HS approvals in about a month. If that's the case for us the timeline is proving true. Our dossier should make it to ET by Christmas. Which puts us on track for a court date in the new year and travel sometime early-mid spring.
On the home front the kids are all doing great. We're healthy once more. Finally! The girls are loving school and doing quite well. They've made lots of friends there too.
Yesterday Jonas strung his first two words together and said "it dropped." I was really excited. Of course the "it" was a huge glass of water which splashed all over the floor. Never mind the details, though.
Ever since Jo came home he's enjoyed a particular fondness for the consonant D. Jonas repeats his beloved consonant with various vowel combinations often throughout the day. De, Da, Doh, Duh, Doo, Day is his banter when he's really communicating something important to me. You should see his face. He's so serious about it. He does his Ethiopian head nod and cracks me up! Jonas loves the letter D so much that I'm thinkin' I need to get him a spot on Sesame Street when D is the letter of the day.
Because of his D obsession, dah-dee (daddy) was Jonas' first and favorite word. After learning how to say mah-mee he's now reverted to calling me daddy again. HAHAHA Now Dah-dee is back with a vengeance and, let me tell you, it's kind of embarrassing when, in public place, your son walks around pointing to people all over asking "Dah-dee?" A black man looked at me like "This poor child doesn't know who his daddy is." Then, he saw white momma and really wondered what the heck was going on! hahaha
Monday, October 12, 2009
Our rummage sale yielded $1000.00. I think that's pretty awesome for two days.
We have a few larger furniture pieces left over which I will be listing on Craigslist. Also we have a few specialty items which we realized would fetch more money if we sold them on ebay. I think after those things are sold we'll have close to $1500.00.
Because we are adopting with AWAA a second time they offer a 10% discount on all their fees. We've paid in two months, thus far (including the 10% discount given) : $4,862.25
Our next installment will be a biggie. I calculate that we will owe $11,600.00 in about two months.
We'll gladly accept any and all prayers on our behalf related to the provision we require!
The saying comes to mind: How do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time.
Friday, October 9, 2009
We held a garage sale this weekend to help earn some money to apply towards our adoption expenses for A*.
Some friends might remember we did a big fundraising garage sale with 2 other families who were adopting from Ethiopia a little over a year ago. The multi family garage sale we had that year was epic. I mean it. So many generous friends and family gave donations that our ENTIRE carport, back patio, storage room, and several bedrooms in our home will filled to capacity last time. We had so much stuff I was panicking that we wouldn't sell it all. I had no clue what we would do if we didn't.
Start a resale shop, maybe?
Thankfully most everything did sell (and what didn't went to a friend to raise money for medical bills for her mom) We 3 families split $5000.00 for our efforts and were elated!
While our sale this year is a bit smaller it's definitely more manageable for just our family. Though, our same wonderful friends who worked with us last time are back at it again, lending a helping hand. We have some of the best friends!
We are so thankful for your help, Kim, Brooke, Julie and Mark!!!
Have you ever noticed that there's a certain culture to garage salers? They are a breed all their own. The people watching never disappoints at these events.
This year we had many return customers. Some of the more colorful shoppers showed up in full force much to my amusement!
One particular woman who came back again was a woman my dear friend Julie had to get firm with last year when she caught the woman greedily rolling and compressing clothes into a 5$ fill-a-bag we offered. She piled the clothes so high over the top of her sack that Julie just couldn't let her get away without charging her for half a bag while pointing to the sign which said "Adoption Garage Sale Fundraiser." (I realize it isn't reading as humorous as it truly was because you just had to be there to see it. But, trust me, it was a hand-over-my-mouth in disbelief, don't-burst-uncontrollably-into-laughter kind of moment.)
Our over-stuffing friend was back this year dismayed to find we learned from last year and marked items individually. hahaha Of course she still complained that we were selling near new children's jumpers and jeans for fifty cents.(No stains people! Not faded one bit.... worn maybe twice)
The outrage!? How could we?
I guess we're greedy to get our son home like that ;-)
Another woman I'll refer to as Ms Indecisive came back again this year too. She's the one who asked all about items and haggled us down to a really good price only to leave. Then, she'd come back and buy one item at a time. She did this several times at varying intervals from 10 minutes to an hour. Sometimes she even came back to buy some random thing she didn't even act interested in the first time around. One time she parked pretty quickly, jumped out and went looking for some other item that had already sold, much to her dismay.
Seriously, she cracked me up! I guess she's been burned by buyers remorse once to many times and likes to stew on things for a bit. Maybe she has a commitment phobia. Whatever the case she's a hoot.
Then there are the people who steal. We've had them every time. I can't say I understand adults who behave this way. My feelings about people who steal are that if they need it that bad; God bless them. But it should be noted they just stole from my baby boy and I know God's not going to be very pleased with that.
I especially enjoy the garage salers who just love to get out on a cool morning and do some chatting with neighbours and maybe shop a little.
I love to hear people's stories. The older people are my favorite. They talked to me about how when they were a child and how they had a thing-a-ma-bobber just like this and they used it for this or that. Or, they'll just shoot the breeze while explaining to us about some mysterious contraption we're selling and don't know what it is. I enjoy watching them use their years of expertise in the art of being thrifty (for many, like my grandmother, had to learn this art the hard way during the great depression)
Garage sales are sentimental in a way because I enjoy seeing objects our family enjoyed and used going to a good new home. I so appreciate items that were lovingly donated to our cause being purchased by folks who will have their needs met for a good price.
I *may* have let a few items go for less than they were worth (I'm a horrible haggler that way) but there's something in me that's wired to be a giver, I guess. It's so hard for me to charge people for items that we're graciously given to me. I understand I might need some better boundaries but I'd also rather be a softy on that matter than run the risk of being too stingy.
In the end we made $800 for today. Not bad at all!
Tomorrow we wake up the crack of dawn, brew some coffee and do it all again.
Ah, yes, a good garage sale is so satisfying. Especially since the proceeds bring us one step closer to bringing A* home.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Dustin and I received our biometrics appointment dates in the mail. We'll be going October 23rd.
The saga continues.
I case you've forgotten the joys of our dealings with USCIS I've come up with a convenient numbering system to help track our various experiences with the fine folks there. May I remind you of appointments 1.0 (which was so devastating I posted about it twice), 1.1, and 1.2.
We would endure any number of visits, though, because we've got a precious boy waiting on us. He is oh SOOO worth it!
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Okay, so by now I think we all know about how our kiddos adopted from Ethiopia are considered immigrants until readoption in the US.
I wanted to write today about the vaccination requirements for immigrants. To see a list go to: http://www.immihelp.com/greencard/vaccination-requirements.html
In the case of HIV+ children the issue becomes whether or not is is medically profitable for the child to receive these vaccinations. Because of a diminished ability to fight off infection it is often advantageous to stagger immunizations for these children. In the Visa process parents of children 10 years or younger can apply for a waiver HERE. They must attest that they will vaccinate the child within 30 days or "at the earliest time it is medically appropriate." This will allow them to delay their child's vaccinations until they become medically beneficial for their child.
Adopted children who are 11 or older are subject to the immigrant vaccination requirement. This was another cited reason for the FACE Act as proposed by EACH
The issue of the vaccination requirements for immigrants is a heated debate right now as problems surface with regard to blanket requirements. I completely understand the need and benefit of vaccinations. I also see how the CDC might want to consider adjusting their regulations based on age.
To read up on how these requirements play out in real life for child immigrants I offer for your consideration a story about how Gardasil was added to the list of recommended vaccines, and became an immigration requirement. It seems like even the advisory council that recommended Gardasil to be added didn't mean for it to be an immigration requirement.
Now that is is a requirement you can see how a girl's ability to gain citizenship was affected when she refused to receive the Gardisil injection. There are two articles about her case. Here and Here
Friday, October 2, 2009
The Lord is so good. I found out this afternoon that Surafel received the money he needed for his trip and that the funds we were going to give are no longer needed. That means we can keep the proceeds from the fundraiser and apply them toward our adoption expenses.
Yahoo for God's provision on both counts!
Have I mentioned this family has been sick almost constantly since the girls began school? (Warning: I'm about to complain a bit.) The third day of school they came home with Strep. Then they got ear infections, then the flu. Dustin and I also got the flu. I had a bonus fever/flu event last weekend. This week I have a constant tickle in the back of my throat and am coughing. We just can't seem to get healthy these days. It's difficult since our family doesn't usually fall ill easily.
My heart has been aching for A* so much during this time. Every time we get a new sickness I think of him being constantly exposed to germs. I pray continually for his health and for the strength of his immune system. I know there have been outbreaks of chickenpox and the ever present, ever deadly pneumonia among the kids in the Transition Home (TH) where A* lives. Please keep A* and all the children in your prayers!
We recently received news that our dear friend Pastor Surafel fell short on money needed for his upcoming trip to Ethiopia. I don't think I have ever posted here about the work Surafel plans to do this October in Ethiopia. He is organizing a trip, a crusade as he calls it, to speak with some 700 pastors about their role and responsibility to care for people suffering with HIV/AIDS. He wants to educate them about the disease and admonish them to reject stigmatizing those in their community living with it. HIV/AIDS sufferers in Ethiopia face living life as outcasts and Surafel's heart is to see the church in Ethiopia step up to take care of God's beloved people. He also plans to travel around the country providing food for people and sharing the Gospel.
Of course, Dustin and I support what Surafel is doing! His work or very dear to our hearts. When we heard that Surafel was $5,000 - $6,000.00 short of the amount he needed for his trip we knew we had to act. We had already planned to hold our fundraising garage sale the weekend of Oct 9 & 10th which would be too late to give them money to Surafel so friends graciously agreed to pitch in the money and let us pay them back with the proceeds from the garage sale.
Some have asked us why we're willing to give up the money from the sale. Dustin's answer is my answer too. "We know that the Lord will bring home A*- it's going to happen! Surafel has a need and it's more immediate than ours. God will provide.... And, think of all the lives that will be touched by the work he is doing!"
That's just it! So many people stand a chance to learn about HIV/AIDS and many people living with the disease stand the chance of seeing a real change in the hearts of Christians around them. I want Surafel's dream to become a reality!
So, while we still don't know how we are going to come up with all the money we need we know we made the right decision. For those of you who donated to our garage sale fundraiser we pray you'll agree with us and see the same value in what Surafel's trip can accomplish as we do. What you gave you gave to the Lord and we know you want to see it used to honor him. We think this is the best way to do it. We thank you again for your generosity toward our family.