Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Are You My Mama?

Here is what is on my mind today.  Two of our childrens' picture books are: "Llama, Llama, Are You My Mama?" and P.D. Eastman's "Are You My Mother?"  Both books were gifts from family, and one was a particular favorite of my husband's brother.  I have always enjoyed reading them with the children.  They have cute illustrations and not too many words--critical when reading to Sunflower since getting a whole sentence out before she turns the page is a minor miracle.

Here is the thing.  I've always viewed them as stories that teach about different animals and what they say and do.  It also teaches one other message that until today I didn't even think about--that families have to match.  The cow, horse, and sheep can't be the llama's mother, and the cat, dog, and scoop cannot be the mother of the bird.  What message will this convey to our child from China?  Obviously a different skin color is totally different from a different species, but will that be clear to my child?

I cannot decide if I am over thinking this or if it is a valid concern.  My bio children know they are getting a sister that will look a little different.  They don't have any trouble understanding and believing that is possible though they heard these stories over and over as children--the Llama one is a particular favorite with SnapDragon since he could read it himself fairly early on.  However, they feel pretty secure in our family because they have not lost their first family.  How will our daughter feel?

We can certainly get rid of these books and err on the side of caution if nothing else.  "Are You My Mother?" seems particularly sad as the bird wanders around truly lost.  We have been thinking about and slowly adding to our book diversity, but until today I never thought about the books we might want to remove from our shelves.  Do we keep the book about how animals and babies are born that always kind of creeped me out anyway or is it a good way to start the dialogue that she has a birth mother in China?  What other books do we own that will send our daughter the unintentional message that she doesn't belong?

I know we cannot protect her completely, and we certainly cannot anticipate which aspects of grief, culture loss, adoption, etc will have the greatest impact on our child; what areas she will be the most sensitive about if not all.  Her personality will have a lot to do with that.  I NEVER took things personally as a child (a little more sensitive now).  If someone did not say directly this means you than I did not care.  I would not take a childrens' story and internalize it.  My sister took EVERYTHING personally, even things not meant to be.  However, our home should be a safe place for my child.  She should not receive a hurtful message in her bed time story.  So we will read all of our books again with a more critical eye and debate and decide.  But...what else are we missing?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend

Our Thanksgiving weekend started with two extra days off from school because of snow that canceled all fun activities from Monday to Wednesday and resulted in one small snow man and nothing useful getting done.  Thanks, Aunt J for playing in the snow with the boys!

Then we got the news that the CCAA temporary probation of our adoption agency had been lifted and we attended a soup dinner and praise night at our church to start the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend off right.

We started Thanksgiving morning with Apple-Pumpkin muffins per a friend's instructions.  We could spend the morning making muffins because we were assigned the green bean casserole and store bought potato rolls for Thanksgiving dinner at Oak's sister's house.
Sunflower "helping" make muffins.
The boys filling the muffin pan--our pan has round muffins, I had never seen square ones before.
Eating the truly wonderful results!
Then, after a brief rest for all three cranky children, we headed the 2 miles to Oak's family get together where I proceeded to take pictures of Sunflower.  She took my breath away, but I had sooo much trouble capturing it to share.
One of my favorites!
SnapDragon missing 3 teeth!  Good thing rolls and pumpkin pie are soft (it's all he ate!)
Dessert Time; Huckleberry was so glad to add whip cream all on his own!
Just pretending to sleep, but oh so cute anyway!
Did I mention I found Sunflower's dress in a bag of hand-me downs I sorted through 3 years ago and peeked in on the off chance I would find what I wanted Thanksgiving morning?  God does give good gifts!
Playing with a doll that used to belong to Oak's Mother, but now came home with Sunflower.
Ready to eat Pumpkin Pie--Oh, actually only the whipping cream!
Really what I wanted Mommy was 3 glasses of Egg-Milk!
Friday we entertained my dad here with steak and mashed potatoes.  Thursday was his first Thanksgiving without my step-mother and he didn't want to do anything fancy.  So Thursday he ate a T.V. dinner and worked, but Friday he came to our house and Oak helped him go buy tires for his truck.  However, while some may be interested in seeing pictures of his new tires, I did not take any.  Sorry to disappoint!

Saturday we joined a large group of friends to hunt for a Christmas tree.  This was the fourth time we joined them for this tradition. There were goats to feed and everything!

Sunflower LOVED being able to feed the goats by putting the food in the can and sending it up with a rope.  Then she didn't have to let those horribly stinky adorable goats touch her at all!
Hunting for the tree!
Found It!  Oh, wait...
NOW we found it!  We took several pictures with another tree before changing our mind!

Proof the Mom and Dad were also there and didn't just send our kids with friends; ummm, maybe next year!
Drinking Hot Chocolate!
Sunflower was fascinated by the sleeping Baby Jesus--night-night!
Helping Dad tie the tree on top of the Minivan.
Waiting for everyone to be ready to head out to lunch.
Still waiting; Oak watched Sunflower play in the car, so no group shot.
We finished the day out with pizza with everyone then home for some naps (Sunflower and Oak) and Nintendo time (Me, Huckleberry, and Snapdragon).  Now the kids are sleeping and I am posting a blog post.  Tomorrow we end the fun filled weekend with our long anticipated double date with my friend (best friend if you want to be all high-schoolish about it) and her husband to see the new Harry Potter movie and out to dinner!  Thanks, Aunt J for babysitting!  The tree is up in the family room, blocking most of the T.V.  We should have it decorated in a week or two.  I'll let you know, maybe.

I hope you all had a Blessed Thanksgiving!  And if you celebrated it in October, I hope your October was blessed!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Give Thanks...

Everyone appears to be able to write a beautiful post on how Thankful they are during this Thanksgiving Season.  Not a single one seems trite or list all the traditional things we are all thankful for: family, friends, home, job, food, etc.  How do they do it?  I have been trying to write this post for over a week and all I can come up with is the trite and traditional list, and I'm not even always grateful for them!

Yes, I am thankful to have family, immediate and extended, but lets face it sometimes things would be much easier without some of them.

I am thankful to have friends, all of whom are wonderful, but it is difficult to always be a good friend back, to care for them and say the right thing.  That doesn't mean I don't want them as friends, but I am so sad when I fail. 

Okay, I am 100% thankful for my husband's job and the ability it gives me to stay home with my children.  But some days I dream of how nice it would be to work at a job that I was satisfied and fulfilled in and that competence was actually valued.  Not that I cannot be a competent mom, but the real center of motherhood is not in competency but in joining in the mess of childhood--something I am NOT competent at, though I will continue to try and continue to love my kids.

So I was thinking and praying about this post, and telling God that I really don't feel like I'm ungrateful, but that maybe I don't really know how to be grateful.  After all I am definitely one that sees the glass half empty and I can't even post a nice sweet list of things I'm grateful for without pointing out some of the flaws.  Seriously, what is WRONG with me?  And this is what He said (no, not in an audible voice, though I believe He is completely capable of that, but I know it is from Him):

"Live in the moment.  When you make a list of the good things in your life, without listing both pros and cons, you feel thankful.  You remember to praise Me.  You acknowledge the Awe you have of Me.  You thank Me for what I have done.  It is when you start wondering what I will do in the future that you start to fear that the present is not enough.  I am FAITHFUL.  You can TRUST Me.  NEVER have I forsaken you, and I NEVER will.

Matthew 6: 25-34:
      “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe  you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 
      So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

I do not know why I constantly need to be reminded that the opposite of Thankfulness is NOT actually ingratitude it is Worry.  It is stated so clearly in Philippians 4:6-7:

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

So how can I be more grateful this Thanksgiving Season?  Worry less and enjoy the moment I am in.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Science Center

Saturday before last (not last Saturday when I spent the day reading) we took the kids, a friend, and our niece to the Science Center.  This is basically an all day trip since it is quite a drive from our house, but was definitely worth it in terms of learning and creating memories as a family.  Since my last full of pictures post is about to scroll of the bottom, I figured today is a good day to share the day with you.

First we saw a 3D movie in the Imax theater--the History of Flight.  My husband figured it would be a giant Boeing commercial, and maybe it was, but I thought it was super cool.  The kids also enjoyed it, and Sunflower watched the first 10 minutes with utter fascination and attention trying to reach out and touch the birds as they flew by.  10 minutes of attention from Sunflower is pretty darn good, but after that she was a little distracting and kept taking her dad's 3D glasses (which may be why he didn't like it quite as much!).
Sunflower waiting for the movie.
  Then we explored some of the exhibits.
Huckleberry and SnapDragon at the Giant Table
We split Huckleberry in half and duplicated him; I mean there was a mirror.
Then there was a whole room about bugs.  I moved past it immediately and left the kids with Oak and our friend, so all pictures including bugs came from our friend's iPhone.
SnapDragon looking in a contraption that spun and shows the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly.
The following video is Sunflower being offered the chance to PET a Hissing Cockroach.

It makes me laugh.  No hissy fit or girlish screams, just security in who she is and what she does or does not want to do.  
SnapDragon putting together puzzle ants.
Riding a Giant Caterpillar. 
Finally they caught up with me in the butterfly house where I had been enjoying myself taking lots of pictures.  I also tried out my camera's macro setting, but I need to research what that means a little more.  It appeared to mean that my camera was then incapable of focusing for a while, even when I turned back to my normal setting.  I know that isn't what it is supposed to do!
One of my many shots.  I might share more in another post, but for now this will have to do.  I love butterflies.
One particularly tenacious butterfly clung to Huckleberry as he walked 20 feet to make sure I saw it.
My fashion model.
Then after working on some puzzles in the MindBender Exhibit (it was like a live Professor Layton game!) we took the monorail to get some lunch.  Huckleberry will have to give up going on the monorail on his field trip next month so we can get on the road to travel to his grandma's funeral, so riding it now seemed only fitting.  They all loved it.  (My 15 year old niece is in all the other pictures I took and I don't have her or her parents permission to post them, so you'll have to be satisfied with Sunflower.)
Looking at the city as it goes by.  Do you see Sunflower's reflection? I'm kind of proud of this picture.
 Then some more exhibits including more time solving puzzles in the MindBender room before heading home.
Sunflower and Oak.  This one actually happened before lunch, but I forgot and changing order in Blogger is hard.
Making a craft while the non-littles solved puzzles.
Testing center of gravity.  Sunflower did the best by lying flat on her tummy and pushing the button with her nose over and over.  She was so proud of her accomplishment!
Seeing how long SnapDragon could hang.  Supposed to be an arm curl, but Oak said this was good enough.  Ha!  We'll see if good enough works with school work.  I did not attempt this feat, though all the kids did.  I had to take pictures.
So that was our day at the Science Center.  It was really pretty neat; the only thing that would have made it better is if none of those other people had been there and our little group of 7 could have worked on the puzzles all on our own.  However, we were exhausted when we got home as you might be able to guess since it took me 9 days to upload the photos.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Towers of Midnight--a book respone

Just kidding!  It is the last book I read, but it has nothing to do with adoption (though it did discuss it briefly in one paragraph).  The book is over 800 pages long and the 13th book in a 14 (and a half) book series written mostly by Robert Jordan. Brandon Sanderson is writing the last 3 books in the series from Robert Jordan's notes after Jordan's death.  He has done a pretty good job on the last two, but I am disappointed to find out the last book is not projected to come out until early 2012 (possibly about the time we'll be traveling to China which seems so far away right now!).

Anyway a response to the book would be foolish because either you don't care about this series as I can tell you it will in NO WAY make you a better parent and while reading it your childrens' needs will have to be attended to by others OR you don't want me to talk about the things that FINALLY happen thus spoiling the book for those of you who have not conned your family into being quiet and only asking daddy questions for two whole days.

I probably shouldn't post about this book at all, since I may have been able to keep secret a little longer that I am the Queen of Geekdom, but if you cannot embrace who you are at 38, life wouldn't be ANY fun.  And I probably couldn't keep it hidden much longer that I love fantasy and fantasy novels.  How else would I be able to come up with so many implausible fears?   Plus, with a double date planned to go see Harry Potter next Sunday (not this weekend which probably means I am only a Lady in Waiting to the Queen of Geekdom), it was bound to come out anyway.

Now I know some Christians are opposed to fantasy novels, and I can quote the Bible verses why, but I cannot follow the logic.  I feel no judgment back at them, but am curious, how can you not love a book that takes you to a time where good and evil are SO CLEAR, where choices to do right HAVE to be made, where redemption and light are the SALVATION of the whole world?  The Bible teaches me we are in such a time as this, but humanitarianism, tolerance, and contentment make it so HARD to remember that every choice MATTERS!  I finish reading a fantasy novel ready to take up the Sword of the Spirit and fight the Minions of Hell (okay, not literally).  I want to spend every day feeling that passionate and avoiding the trap of being a lukewarm Christian, but I don't.  However, I do know that someday I will get my looooong delayed letter to Hogwarts or find the Blue Sword wrapped in an attic to pass to my daughter, but in the meantime, I'll fix my eyes on Aslan Jesus (I do know the difference between fantasy and reality, I promise.)

By the way, Brandon Sanderson's juvenile fiction series about the evil librarians are romping good fun!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

If Circumstances Were the Sole Contributor...

then today would have been a very bad day!  However, God did give me a peace that surpasses understanding (for today at least) and I'd like to give Him the credit and share one remarkably Murphy day.

First, SnapDragon threw up (at 7 a.m. so it will be over 24 hours tomorrow morning and he can go to school!).

Second, Oak chipped a tooth/filling and had to go to the dentist.

Third, Sunflower performed a miracle and created 4 cups of oatmeal out of 1/4 cup of oats and painted a masterpiece on the dining room furniture and her dress, legs, and arms.

Fourth, Oak called to tell me he needs a crown and it would only cost $700 (this is with insurance).  He prefaced this story that this is the GOOD news!

Fifth, the server room at Oak's work caught on fire.  They were shutting the building down so he'd probably be home early but would eventually have to work overtime to get the server's cleaned and up and working to make all the professors happy.

Sixth, Sunflower refused to sleep during her nap.

Seventh, my headache finally gets so bad I remember to take some Tylenol.

Eighth, Oak says he won't be home as early since they allowed him to get two of the server's out and he was setting them back up, but home by four.

Ninth, our friend Facebooks that he is going back to Texas one day early.

Tenth, husband gets home at 5:45 carrying teriyaki. (Happy about the food, not so content with the time.)

Eleventh, husband plans to go back to work after Awanas to do more clean up and server checks.

Umm, I guess MY HUSBAND had a bad day, not me!  Really none of it is too bad, and I really did feel content most of the day.  Certainly the GOOD day of yesterday, God's comfort, and a better perspective helped, but I'll also admit possibly the 10 minutes cuddling on the couch between dinner and Awanas, the knowledge that only having 3 children wouldn't be the end of the world, and an anticipated evening watching whatever I want on TV since Oak is at work with Huckleberry, Sunflower is in bed, and SnapDragon is going to bed right now.

Our Own: Adopting and Parenting the Older Child--a book response

There are so many books out there about adoption, and while not every book I have read is one I plan to purchase, each book has had something useful to teach me.  The book Our Own: Adopting and Parenting the Older Child by Trish Maskew is one such book.  It was on the list our agency gave us five years ago, but we didn't plan on adopting an older child, so we didn't read it.  Now as we look deeper into the Waiting Child programs and possibly adopting a second child some day, the possibility that it will be an older child is more likely.  We don't know what God wants us to do and who will eventually fit into our family.  We do know that if we want to adopt from the Waiting Child program or Special Needs track (both names are used depending on agency for the same track) that we need to research, research, and research, while praying, praying, and praying.  Since I already had this book from the library it made sense to start my research with "can we adopt an older child?"

I would like to tell you the book answered this question for us, and now we know yeah or nay.  That isn't so.  First, my husband hasn't read it yet, so he isn't sure what he thinks yet--though I will say my husband is not the limiting factor on what our family can handle, I am.  Secondly, after reading this book I am no more or less afraid of adopting an older child than I was before.  "How can this be?" you may ask.  The book did discuss a lot of different issues that older children are likely to have and how one would need to handle these issues.  It had lots of stories, happy and sad, about the transitions families need to make and the learning the child needs to do to learn how to live in a family.  However, none of it surprised me.  I have not studied in depth all the issues the books discusses, but I have heard about each issue, because they are the same issues all general adoption books cover for adopting any child of any age.

Surprise, surprise!  All children who lose their first families need help in dealing with the core issues they experience no matter when they find their forever family.  The core issues this book defines are: loss, rejection, shame, grief, identity, intimacy, and control.  How a child's behavior manifests these issues will be different at different stages and depend on their personality, but a child who comes into our home at 6 and grieves for her lost mother is no more or less likely to be comforted by me as a 6 year old with the same grief who came home at age 1.  Eventually they will both, prayerfully, be able to move past their grief, but my need to be flexible, listen, and patient will be the same.  An older child will have more capacity to express their grief and act out in anger than a child of one, but the issues are the same.  A child who comes home with less history might experience these issues less intensely, either for having less bad history to overcome or for being able to spread the "dealing with it" out over more time, but there is no guarantee that this is so.

So assuming we believe we can deal with the usual adoption issues that all children face, and we do believe we can with the help of the adoption community and with the strength of God, then there are only a few more questions about adopting an older child we need to face and answer.  This book brought up two of the questions we had not yet faced.

First, can we handle culture shock?  The older the child, the more extreme culture shock the child will experience coming to America.  I was in China for only two weeks, but coming home gave me a taste of culture shock.  I cannot imagine the experience for a child.  This book gave several good examples of things parents wouldn't necessarily think about and how to help ease the child's culture shock.  All of them made sense and seemed doable.  I imagine there are more books on culture shock and easing a child into American culture that could benefit us if we choose to adopt an older child.  I know I can get lots of advice from the forums I belong to and other adoptive moms.  Included in culture shock is the radical change from living in an orphanage to living in a family.  It will be work to identify all the invisible family rules in our house, but I believe our family is up to that challenge.

The second issue that will be very different for an older child versus a younger child is communication.  A one year old will be delayed in verbal communication because she/he has not heard English on a daily basis until coming home.  However, one does not expect a baby to be able to communicate or understand everything and certainly not understand complicated issues.  Amazingly an older child will be able to start understanding simple English very quickly and communicate their basic needs.  Within a year most children have learned most all of what they need in English, unfortunately usually at the expense of their birth language.  It is expected that the interim year is difficult.  One is trying to teach a child how to behave in a new culture and in a family without being able to communicate complex ideas.  This book gives some advice on how to help with the transition such as finding a friend who speaks the child's language, on-line translators, ESL at school help, and again being patient and know that someday it will be different.  It does not sound impossible, but it is hard to say how well I will deal with it without being in it.  Two of my children have been delayed in speech, but their comprehension has always been above average.

The book does discuss the possibility that some children will not be able to overcome the affects of institutional care on their psyche and will not ever be able to function safely in a family with other children.  The longer a child has been in care, the more difficult it will be to overcome the damage.  However, this risk exists with even a very small child, and there are now many books and new methods to help a child learn to function and heal.  If we were not willing to take this risk we would not be planning to adopt.  We are praying this does not occur, but we believe we are as prepared as we can be.

So this just leaves the last issue (that I know of) in regards to older child adoption that the book does not try to answer and cannot answer for me.  Can I attach to a child who is older?  I feel pretty confident I can attach to an infant or toddler.  Really I only have to babysit a friend's baby a few times (and have it go well) before I think, "I could adopt this child."  Granted a one year old who only wants Daddy the first few months might take a little longer, but I feel it is a given I will love this child.  The question is, when they stop having the cuteness factor going for them (which for me appears to be around age 7) and start to have the snarky attitude going against them will I be able to "fake it until I make it?"  I'd like to think so, but really this is the factor that I am most concerned about and since this book didn't answer it, I am no more, nor less comfortable with adopting an older child.

So do I recommend this book?  Definitely.  It did not have the definite answer that says a person of my height, age, and personality type will take 3.8 months to attach to a 4 year old and 6.7 months to attach to a 6 year old.  However, it had lots of information on many important topics.  More importantly it had stories to illustrate its clinical points that helped me understand what things such as culture shock and undeveloped language skills in an older child could look like making it easier to feel like it might actually be manageable--again only with the help of God, family, friends, and the adoption community.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Some Things Just Make Everything Better!

First, thank you for your prayers and comments.  I really feel a lot better than I did when I posted yesterday.  In fact, in some ways I felt a lot better almost immediately after posting.  Apparently getting it all out and focusing back on Christ really is a magic formula.   However, knowing other people care also helps.  And for the person who said, "you know you are crazy, right?" I still love you.  It really just made me laugh. Though the follow up reminder that "God gave us a child against unusual odds already why wouldn't He be able to find us our next child" was more encouraging.

Second, remembering the past can help.  For the last few months, ever since I started my Biblical Counseling class, Mondays have been truly the worse day of the week, some of them even worse than yesterday.  I am not one to place the blame for all my problems in life on Satanic attack, but I do believe there are Spiritual battles going on so... However, some times it's just a matter of perspective.  Last year at this time with two ill grandmas and all the complications that went with it, I was having one GOOD day a week.  Makes one BAD day a week seem almost easy.  This doesn't mean all my fears and questions have gone a way, just that today I know we will get to the other side of this journey someday with Christ who gives me strength.

Third, I was already feeling better, but today's MOPS put a smile on my better.  Really, the ladies in my group are truly amazing women who love me, God, and the other moms.  The leadership team's competence and initiative leave me the freedom to focus on the moms we are serving, and I LOVE it.  But also, I see each one of them reaching out in compassion and true love for our moms.  I might be good at details and organizing, but I LOVE seeing my leaders (yes, I do think of them as mine) surpassing me greatly in their true connections with the other moms, initiating prayer and care in manners I never imagined.  They inspire me, and I love them.  Of course the meeting itself was fun, too--I love being MC even if I am a goof at it; lots of fun books to give away; great speaker on training our children; good table discussion; very pretty thankful tree craft (which I did not make because I never make crafts, but my craft queen loves me anyway); and the conclusion of our Operation Christmas Child Shoebox collection.

Have you heard of Operation Christmas Child?  It is put on by Samaritan's Purse one of the many worthy organizations that are the hands of Jesus to many of the poor around the world.  For Operation Christmas Child you fill a shoebox with little things that a girl/boy between the ages of 2-14 would like--some practical, some fun.  Then the week of Nov. 15-22 you take them to a drop off location near you and they deliver them to poor children all around the world.  We love putting together shoe boxes from each of our children to another child.  This year we did five for the first time since maybe we WILL adopt 2.  Our group, 33 today, brought in 74 boxes total.  I am thrilled with their generosity.  If you are interested, there is still time to participate.  Or you can start buying little things all year round to put in a shoe box next year.

Playing games and good food with my family and our friend last night and tonight is only the cherry chocolate on top (I don't like cherries.)  

Monday, November 15, 2010

Never, Ever...Maybe?

We have been "adopting from China" for 5 years now.  5 years.  Only in the last few months have I started to think maybe this will never, ever actually happen.  IF that was because there were not children in China who needed a family, fine.  I will deal with it.  I would have to deal with it.  I do not want to kidnap someone else's child!  However, five long years ago we started the adoption process with the naive belief that we want a child and there are children that need homes--why not match the two things up?  It is way more complicated than that, and I understand that now, but understanding doesn't make the waiting easier.

And it isn't really the waiting, but the fear that I am struggling with today.  I have had moments of fear in the last 5 years.  Fears that my husband would die and I would have to grieve him and our future daughter, that he would lose his job, that one of my children would die, or that we wouldn't have the money to finish the adoption.  Never did I fear the actual complications that arose--a massive influx of applications into China that corresponded with less children being adopted each year resulting in a 7 year line in front of us; a vasectomy daughter; two grandmas (my step-mom and my husband's mom) being diagnosed with terminal illnesses and dying within 10 months of each other, both requiring extra care for this last year; my adoption agency being SUSPENDED placed on temporary probation.

Here's the thing.  Only that last one has dented my faith that someday this will all work out.  However, it has dented it big time.  I cannot imagine the despair families who will more probably have their referral delayed must be feeling.  But my blog isn't about them, it's about me.  And I am really scared right now.  What if we continue to wait with our agency, renew our homestudy with them, and they are NEVER reinstated?  What if they are reinstated but China shuts down the NSN program? What if they are reinstated, China shuts down the NSN program, and the SN program becomes so popular that we are NEVER, EVER matched unless we are open to a child who no one, even American doctors, expect to live more than 3 months?  Yes, every child deserves a forever family, and we will rejoice for the time God grants us with any of our children however short, but to bring home a child knowing...

Okay, so maybe that is going a little extreme, and I have read about families experiencing worse pain and complications in their adoption journeys, but the complications with our agency has opened up a whole new avenue of fear for me and it has undermined my trust in the system--a trust that I'll admit is a probably misplaced, but a trust that kept me going during the long wait.  I thought it was trust in God that was keeping me going, but some of that trust was in the system and my agency or this wouldn't throw me so far off kilter.  Obviously God is a whole lot more trustworthy, but HE never promised me a child through adoption.  HE promised me eternal salvation and to mold me to be more Christ-like.  

Romans 5:1-5:
"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

So how much do I struggle against the system while trusting in God?  Do we start a SN adoption through another agency now while leaving our NSN paperwork in place? Would that be considered "hedging our bets" (a horrible thing!) or would it be the natural choice given that we do want to adopt two children from China someday and it could be another 2 years before we receive a NSN referral?  If we do a SN adoption should we have "faith" that we will someday have the little girl we have been praying for through the NSN route and choose a boy for our SN adoption as people keep saying that is the "greater need"?

Philippians 4:6-7:
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Some days I don't have trouble with laying it all at the feet of Christ and leaving it in His hands.  Today is not one of those days. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

One of the reasons...

I am grateful to live in America...

Father Sentenced to 2.5 years in China for Speaking Out against Tainted Milk 

Words are inadequate to express my thanks to all the soldiers and their families who have made great sacrifices including their lives to protect my freedoms and the future for my children.  

Thank you, Dad (Vietnam Vet).
Thank you, Brother (Serving overseas with the Navy).
Thank you, Friend (Two tours in Iraq, currently serving state side).
Thank you, All.
 Thank you for serving our country!
 John 15:12-13:   “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends."

* It is possible that the adoption community would frown on mentioning the lack of some civil rights in China in connection with the freedom I experience in my country as it puts my future child's birth country in a bad light, but I AM proud to be an American and see no need to balance out a Veteran's Day post with evidence that I see flaws in the US also. The story of this brave father in China DOES add to my gratitude, and I honor his commitment to his nation.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Time for Some Cuteness!

Okay, it is true I take way more pictures of Sunflower than the other two.  I blame the public school system.  If I home-schooled the boys would be around when I'm in a picture taking mood.  However...

Here is Halloween...
The heavy tool is being carried by Huckleberry the Explorer NOT two year old Elmo!
Jumping on the bed WITHOUT me in it--so much less painful for me!
No.  There is no writing on Sunflower's doll.  She would never do something like that!
So much cuteness!
Okay, this is my first attempt at putting video on my blog.  It might be a little grainy, but it makes me laugh and laugh.  Thank you, SnapDragon for shooting it!
It seems like this might not work, so I'm giving you some SnapDragon cuteness.
It looks like they both work.  I would like to make clear that the song SnapDragon is singing is made up entirely by him and does not represent the views of our family or our church.