Monday, June 30, 2008

RLC Blog Buzz #3: Transitioning home

First time holding my new sons in Ethiopia, at Layla House
February 2006

This week's question asks about tips/suggestions/advice about traveling to pick up your child, adjustment at home, etc.
I think we really tried to go into our trip to Africa, our adoption, all of it with no expectations. They say the biggest deciding factor in your satisfaction is how the outcome lives up to your expectations. We prepared ourselves for the kids to be sick, we knew they'd lived in a variety of institutions during the most formative time of their lives, and knew that it was likely that we could experience some attachment problems, that might not show up until later.

Kevin and I with our boys at dinner in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
February 2006
Having my sons handed to me is something I'll never forget. A feeling of love, protectiveness, and awe came over me. It was magical. Of course the trip and early days home weren't all magic. Both of our sons had a parasite and lice (two boys with diarrhea + 30-hour flight = bummer), Biniam had a double ear infection, Yosef had horrible dreams in the middle of the night where he'd wake up mournfully crying. Biniam would have a severe emotional reaction anytime he saw food --if I opened the fridge or pantry, etc., he'd become instantly inconsolable. And it didn't matter if he'd just had a huge meal.
There were days in those early weeks at home where I felt like we were holding on for dear life. Where I'd be counting down the minutes until Kevin got home. Where I'd blast Bob Marley and we'd dance and smile and feel, if even for a few moments, like things really were going to be okay.

Some first moments together as siblings
February 2006

And we kept waiting for the proverbial attachment shoe to drop. There were all sorts of ways that we tried to encourage bonding and attachment. We tried to cuddle as much as possible. We continued giving the boys milk from a bottle and cradling them like a baby to give it to them. When we'd go out somewhere we'd wear the boys in a front carrier. I think being home a lot also helped. We waited a long time before putting them in the church nursery. And after awhile they began to see that they belonged with us, that we were mom and dad. They adjusted really well and truly, that shoe has still not dropped. They are affectionate kids who look to us to meet their needs. I still find myself worrying sometimes but ultimately I know that the Lord is in control anyway.

We're sleepy, but we're happy--first days home
February 2006

After about six months at home Biniam stopped crying at the sight of food. Yosef's bad dreams went away within about a month. The stool samples and medication three times a day were brutal, but the boys' giardia (and Biniam's ear infections) was cured after only one go-round of the meds. I also at some point found myself able to take a deep breath--and just in time, because four months after bringing our sons home, I became pregnant with Kaitlyn!

First trip to church as a new family
February 2006

I guess my "advice" is, do everything you can to promote attachment. Be home with your kids, find things to do around the house. Engage in activities that include touch and lots of eye contact. Fight the urge to romanticize the situation and try to keep from having lots of grand expectations. If you can, co-sleep. Read, read, read about childhood trauma, attachment, and potential issues. I really think knowledge is power and if you go into it prepared, you'll be much better able to handle your child's behavior. Pray lots (even if you don't believe in God, pray anyway!) and get people to pray for you. And remember that "love is always enough" is a MYTH--sometimes it might be, but not always. So get help if you need it, and remember that things WILL get easier, there IS a light at the end of the tunnel, and it's okay to feel whatever it is that you're feeling. I think adoption, like so much of parenting, is more of a marathon, and less of a sprint. And if you can find other adoptive parents to talk to (whether online or in real life), do that. It really helps!

First family picture, before church on Sunday
March 2006

I'm including this link to a wonderful article by Melissa Fay Greene, about her own personal post-adoption experience. It is so wise and definitely worth the read!

Post-Adoption Panic

Saturday, June 28, 2008


So my exciting opportunity that I alluded to in this post is that I am now AHOPE for Children's Denver-area contact! My first "event" is today! I'm hosting a table (along with two other nonprofits, including my sweet friend Jennifer's) at the annual Denver Ethiopian adoptive families picnic up in Brighton. I've made up a handout, will have brochures, a donation jar, and donation box for bandaids and creams that people know to bring ahead of time. Pray that hearts will be stirred for these precious children!!!

This all came about as I was asked a few weeks ago to head up an exciting project to increase sponsorships--by having AHOPE for Children be a presence at various events. I will be creating sponsorship packets, getting a banner, there are tshirts and other items being designed by amazing volunteers that will be for sale at future events, and we have a super exciting opportunity coming up in July. But more about that later. I gotta go finish preparing for today!

**A huge, huge thanks to Lisa for her wonderful help and for answering my million questions, Marissa for her work on the AHOPE store items, and Emily for encouraging us to have a table at the picnic.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Celebrating 6 years

Last Sunday was our 6 year wedding anniversary, and since Kevin's family was in town, we were able to sneak away for a couple of hours.

We walked to the popular Sushi Den restaurant on Old South Pearl Street for dinner. It was a gorgeous summer evening and it was so nice to walk hand-in-hand and chat. I love spending time with my husband, and it was extra special to get some true alone-time together. (I won't tell you the last time we were out, just the two of us, but even if I did, I don't think you'd believe me!)

Here's to Kevin's family for watching the kiddos, and to Kevin for a wonderful evening out! Cheers!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Words between brothers

Heard in my house this morning:

Biniam: Mo-om, Yosef called me poo-poo!!!

Yosef: Well Biniam was being a crocodile to me!

My little ones tend to get along quite well under normal circumstances, but sometimes they argue. It can be hard finding the balance between interfering, and letting them work it out on their own. (Read: this mommy does not like being a policeman!) Sometimes I like to joke that our family is a big social experiment, what with four young children so close in age to one another. Hmmm, I guess that's not really a joke!

Fortunately everyone seems to like each other and the older ones are so very patient with the baby. I hope they're learning big life lessons in the every-day-ness of family dynamics. Taking turns, sharing, putting others first, dealing with being bummed out. Our family doesn't really look like a lot of other families, and not simply because we are a mixed-race family. This many children this close together tends to turn a few heads all on its own, and one of the most common questions I'm asked is, how do they get along?

I'd say they get along just fine. There are the occasional spats, tears, yelling (sometimes on more occasions than I would like). But they know that whatever activies we do, their baby sister will be there. That when we get up tomorrow, we'll all be heading out or playing together. We wait for each other, share our snacks with one another, and are gentle with little Katie.

Our society is segregated in about a million ways. That includes being segregated by age, and it begins very early on. My kids obviously won't always be hanging out together all day, everyday, but for now, they are. And I like to think that in spite of the name-calling and crocodile-being, they are growing and being shaped into just who God wants them to be.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

June 22nd

4 kids

3 cities

2 apartments

2 homes

6 years

I love you babe! You make me laugh, make me think, and challenge me in countless ways. I'm so happy you got down on one knee and asked me to be your wife all those years ago on a beach in Cambria. Our lives have taken some amazing turns and I couldn't be more thrilled that we're doing it together.

Here's to many more years and adventures ahead! (Funny how once you start having kids, the pictures of just you and your husband stop. Took me forever to find these three pictures.)

(And Happy 6th Anniversary to Andy and Jeannett, our anniversary buddies!!! Same day, same year, same TIME, same colors. I think we were destined to be friends!)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Taking a little break...

I haven't posted in a few days, as my mom and dad are out visiting from California. Yay! We've been having lots of fun hanging out, exploring Colorado, and staying up late eating ice cream.

Last night we introduced them for the very first time to Ethiopian food. They loved it! Hooray for new adventures and fun experiences.

My kids have been having so much fun with their grandparents. I will be so sad to see them go on Friday. :(

The party continues though, because a few hours after I drop them off at the airport, I'm picking KEVIN'S parents and sister up at a different airport! We love having visitors, and I know we'll be bummed when everyone has left.

Well, tomorrow we're off to see Boulder. Hope you're having a great week!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The hard stuff

This week's Blog Buzz question involved explaining extreme poverty to children. Here are my thoughts.

We have some interesting conversations in our family. I think the natural tendency with children is to shield them from difficult things when they're young--death, disappointment, suffering. That instinct is a good thing.

But as kids grow they ask questions. And in OUR family, we have two sons who come from a country where the average life is expectancy is between forty and fifty years old. They have another mom out there who is HIV+. They have an older sister too, and I have no clue if these women are even alive.

We made the decision a long time ago to be honest with our kids. Pretty much anything can be explained in an age appropriate way. Our kids know if someone we love dies. We allow them to experience being disappointed about things.

And we talk about Yosef and Biniam's mom. We've explained to our kids what HIV is, and why the boys' birthmom could not care for them. Our kids know that many, many people in Ethiopia are hungry and sick. I have no desire to keep these things from them.

How do we do it? Well for one thing kids are inquisitive, and they ask. I would pray aloud regularly for Yosef and Biniam's mother and sister. World AIDS Day, we prayed about all the people all over the world with AIDS and HIV. Anna wanted to know exactly what HIV was. So I explained in kid-friendly terms about our immune systems, and what happens when your immune system doesn't work as well, and how some people have a germ in their blood. I explained that in our country, HIV is very manageable because of the medicines available, but in places like Ethiopia, it's harder to get the medicine, so people are very, very sick.

Just recently Anna wanted to know if we could take her medicine, so she would be well. Anna also asked some more questions about HIV. It's just part of what we talk about sometimes. It's not forced, or unnatural. These conversations aren't morbid, or awkward. They're just honest and genuine.

During prayertime before bed, the kids each take turns praying before I do. Each one of them usually (all on their own) prays for Yosef and Biniam's first mom, and that she would have medicine, etc. etc. It is amazing to see their sweet hearts, and the earnestness of their prayers.

I've told our kids that some people don't have enough to eat, and that God wants us to help them. I've also told them that even though we may not understand the "why's", there is great suffering in our world, and it makes God sad just like it makes us sad. But that we have hope in Jesus, and there are ways we can help, and that someday there will be no more suffering, and everything will be made right.

Yes our kids are young, but they "get" more than we think they do. God is growing them into sweet, empathetic, compassionate people. Many families can go awhile, I think, without having to broach these difficult topics. For families like ours though, we don't really have a choice. There is pain and suffering woven into the very fabric of my sons' lives. I cannot tell them how we took them out of Ethiopia without telling them why. I cannot teach them about their first mom without sharing about her illness and about how she could not care for her little boys anymore.

So, if you are looking to do this, keep it natural, don't overload your child with information, don't underestimate them either, and find comfortable ways to work it into daily life. (Do you sponsor a child? Use that as a launching board. Read through the World Vision newsletter or Compassion magazine with your child. Do you donate to a local food bank or homeless shelter? Talk about that.)

God will use all of this in my sons' lives for good. I believe that. I believe that while extreme poverty and suffering are not "fun" or "happy" things to talk about per se, they are reality for much of our world, and reality found in my childrens' not-too-distant past. I trust the Lord to work in their hearts and pray that they will grow into compassionate, loving people who can embrace God's plan for their lives, and who will grow to take Jesus to a hurting world.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A retro-active disclaimer

Taking a break before I finish up my "friends who have amazing businesses" series. :)

There is just one thing I must say (see my post title?), and it has to do with the book I just finished, The Well-trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home. In a previous post, I mentioned that the book really resonated with me. WELL I just finished up the book yesterday, and I have to say that by the time the last page was turned, there was literally smoke coming out of my ears. (Okay maybe that's an exaggeration. But only a slight one.)

See, the beginning of the book shared the philosophy behind choosing a classical education. (Which I loved.) The end of the book shared the philosophy behind choosing homeschooling. (Which, let's face it, I didn't love as much.)

SO, because I raved about the book earlier, I feel the need to disclose that it, well, bugged me by the end. (But maybe that's just my institutionally-educated, improperly-socialized self talking! Ha! I'm kidding...really.)

All in all, a great book for getting an idea of what classical education is all about, and for learning how to do it, getting resource ideas, etc. But I definitely parted ways with these women when it came to some of the more foundational issues. (Public schools, homeschooling, the importance of academia and knowledge, family- vs. get the point. :) ) When I read some of their ideas it makes me NOT want to homeschool, because I can't relate/I disagree/I want to distance myself from that school of thought.

Okay. That is all. Tomorrow, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Lisa Leonard Designs

My sweet friend Lisa designs the most amazing custom jewlery. She specializes in hand-stamped items, which is so fun because of course you get to choose what goes on them! You can see it all on her website, Lisa Leonard Designs.

They make GREAT gifts. I've always thought this necklace would make an especially perfect gift for a mom waiting to bring her adopted child home!

I own a lot of Lisa's jewelry. It is hard to resist!

I first got to know Lisa at church a few years ago when she and her sweet family moved to town, and she is one of the sweetest, most fun people you'll know. She's got a great sense of style, so it's no wonder that her jewelry is so amazing! You can read her wonderful blog here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Lily Box

I have several dear friends who are amazingly creative and artistic, and who have started up their own businesses. I'd love to take a few posts to share about these special women with you.

Today's feature is The Lily Box. Lindsey designs wonderful custom invitations, cards, and announcements, utilizing both hand-drawn elements and digital design. Please take the time to browse her wonderful website and work!

Here is a sample of one of her designs. Do you recognize that sweet little girl in the picture? My daughter is famous. :)

And here's something cool--Lindsey lives in Panama with her husband Eric and their daughter Anna as missionaries with Calvary Chapel! She and I were roommates together in college. You can read her personal blog here.

Monday, June 09, 2008

New opportunity

There's a fantastic non-profit we've been involved in for the last few years called AHOPE for Children. AHOPE is an orphanage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia that cares for HIV+ kids who have lost their parents. Can you imagine having a condition like HIV, then watching your mom and dad die, leaving you an orphan??? I can't, except that I've spent time with these many of their sweet faces permanently etched in my mind.

One of the most pivotal moments in my journey over the last few years came while watching the AAI waiting child video back in 2005. One of the first sibling sets on there was an adorable little girl and her older brother. They stood side by side, the boy with his arm protectively around his sister, smiling eagerly at the camera. The narrator informed us that this little girl was HIV+, her brother was not, but that he insisted on her being adopted with him. He didn't want to leave her, or be split up. My heart about broke into a million pieces. I've thought about those kids often over the last three years. Surely they must have found a family by now. Yes she had HIV but it's a totally treatable disease. People are becoming educated, and these kids are being adopted. And what an amazing young man he must be if he's wanting to stay with her.

Well, that little girl died a few weeks ago. In Ethiopia. Those two kids were still waiting for a family. I can picture their sweet faces, and I feel so sad because had she been in the US with access to all the medicine and medical care in the world, she would most likely be alive today. With her brother who loves her so much, and who's sacrificed a family to stay with his sister and make sure she was not left behind. Maybe now the boy will be adopted, now that he doesn't have an HIV+ sister. Ugh.

My heart cries out at the injustices found within this story, but mostly I find myself struggling through my own conviction. Why don't I pray like I should? Advocate like I should? Give like I should? I knew when we visited AHOPE that day back in 2006 that God wanted me to remember these children, in an obscure part of His world that most people never see. And ever since I have prayed and wondered about this. How might God use me to help and to serve these little ones?

Well last week I was asked by AHOPE to head up an exciting new sponsorship project. I'm pretty nervous as I've never done anything like this before (I so don't want to mess up!), but I'm really excited to see where it goes. I have a couple of things in the works that I'll share more about later. For now, I'm thrilled to be working with a great organization that is doing such vital, beautiful, difficult things.

"He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6.8 NRSV)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Oh Craigslist, how I love thee...

I am so thrilled! For years I've dreamed of owning a nice, LARGE dining room table, but we could never justify the cost, especially since we still all (sort of) fit around our old $250 KMart special. I've long had my sites set on the black Francisco and Montego tables at the Pottery Barn...but they cost a lot. On the other hand, very few places make tables that seat that many people. So we've just been waiting, thinking that maybe sooner or later we'd have to bite the bullet and spend $1800. OUCH.

Until last night...when I discovered a recently posted table on Craigs List...the Francisco or Montego (not sure which, they look a lot alike and you can't get the Francisco anymore I don't think) from Pottery Barn...seats 12 PEOPLE with the leaves in...for only slightly more than our table from KMart! I literally could not get to sleep last night I was so excited! (I suppose the Mr. Pibb at lunch yesterday didn't help.)

SO off we went this morning to Boulder!!! The table was in PRISTINE condition, you'd never know it had ever been owned by someone. It's a square without the leaves but turns into a rectangle. The couple selling it lives in a way hip condo, she makes ethnic jewlery and their entire home was filled with African art. They were so excited to meet my boys. Too fun.

Anyway I made the command decision to buy the table (what's a girl to do?), left a check as a deposit and volunteered my still-out-of-town husband to drive up there tomorrow night, dismantle it, and bring it home after work. Hope that's okay babe! :)

Anyway above is a picture of the table (in brown, but you get the idea) off the Pottery Barn site.

(Oh and during my inaugural Boulder trip I saw no hippies, granola, or new-age establishments. What gives???)

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Flying solo

Kevin's out of town this weekend at a church men's retreat so I'm here alone holding down the fort. We've kept quite busy so far--Bonnie Brae Ice Cream and a Veggie Tales movie from the library last night, the flea market this morning, and then it was off to Einstein's Bagels for lunch (for the Make-a-Wish Foundation fundraiser). Tonight I think we'll get a take-n-bake pizza for dinner and have ice cream cones at home.

Then sometime after church tomorrow morning, Kevin will be back. Yay! Tomorrow afternoon is our neice's 3rd birthday party, which we're really looking forward to, especially since I very unintentionally blew off my sister-in-law Rachel's surprise 30th birthday party last night. Imagine my surprise when I got up this morning, thinking the party was tonight, only to read about how it already happened last night. Ugh. Total brain-mixup.

Anyway, I ended up buying a couple of (probably-overpriced-for-a flea-market) things at the "A Paris Street Market" flea in Littleton this morning. Quote of the day, spoken by Anna, as we walked around the flea: "Why is everyone here peach?" Ah, the innocence of youth. I didn't want to spend my time at the market explaining about modern-day segregation, the differences between black and white culture, or white flight, so I tried to bypass it entirely by saying, "Well that is the skin that God gave all of these people." It worked. Whew! Anna also ended our time there in style by peeing in the parking lot. You can't say we Heldts aren't classy...(but at least she got to ride home in dry pants and a dry carseat!)

Here are my flea finds:

2 bird prints in 5X7 black frames. I thought they were so cute!

A magnetic message board and 3 magnets. Perfect for our breakfast/kitchen area! (I'm probably going to paint the frame. I say "probably" because I'm a flake.)

(*If you're still wanting to comment on this post about homeschool vs. public school, please feel free. I get all the comments sent to my email so I'll still see them, no matter how old the post.)

Friday, June 06, 2008

The great school debate

This is the book I'm reading right now. It is excellent. I find myself saying "amen!" to just about every chapter. My head swims with thoughts of our little family doing school together, reading the classics, learning piano, studying history.

And this is the book I'm going to read next. :)

Wait, huh?

I used to want to homeschool. Then our family grew from one to four kids in a very short time and I thought, what was I thinking?! I am a product of the public school system (thanks Atascadero Unified School District), my dad is a public school teacher. I am a huge believer in the concept of public school, I don't think vouchers are the answer, and I will never pay to send my kids to private school.

My reasons for wanting to homeschool have very little to do, in fact, with public school. Having a bigger-than-average family I DO see the value in having more time together. I've seen the benefits first-hand of having my kids home and seeing them building relationships with each other, and with their baby sister. I don't send them to preschool, partly for this reason.

I also love the idea of customizing their education...I'd love to give them more of a global perspective...and also learn Ethiopian history, and African American history. Neither of those things get much attention in the public schools. (Though the latter really should.)

So it's a slam dunk, right?


We live less than a half-mile from our neighborhood school. It's ranked one of the highest in the DPS system. It's got super high test scores, it's racially mixed, it has great art and music programs. My head swims with the thought of walking the kids to school, of joining the PTA, of the kids being exposed to all different types of kids and people. (Yes, I do see that as a benefit even though of course it has its drawbacks.) I love the thought of going to back to school night, and of my kids having their very own space away from mom and dad to excel and thrive. I want them to experience being under other adults' authority, and to learn that other people matter. I also want to be the best mom I can be, and I don't know that homeschooling them would really work toward that end.

We're huge believers in the idea that God doesn't want all Christians leaving the education arena. I also have so many kids that making the time to ensure they have social time with friends seems daunting. They'd at least have some of that built in at public school.

ALL of that to say, I have some decisions to make before August '09. :) This upcoming school year I'm going to visit our neighborhood school and also the school that is one day of class instruction, and homeschool the rest of the week (it's through DPS, so we'd still be supporting the public schools, which we really want to. So if we homeschooled, that is probably what we'd do.) Either way I think our kids will all do half-day kindergarten at our neighborhood school. (I guess that buys us even more time to make our decision!)

Anyway, that is my thought-process so far. Once I read that other book I'll let you know how it was! (And thanks to Shelley, as always, for the recommendation!) Most of my friends from California either homeschool part- or full-time, or are planning to, and their kids are getting a great education. If you are a larger than average family, and have had a good experience in the PUBLIC school system, I'd love to hear about it!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

99 cent bagels and cream cheese!

Einstein's Bagels is doing a fundraiser for the Make-a-Wish Foundation this weekend (June 6th though June 8th)--buy a bagel with cream cheese for 99 cents, then donate the difference to Make-a-Wish.

I think the fam and I will definitely be walking to Einstein's on Saturday morning! How about you?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Why Ethiopia?

I'm getting involved with something called the Red Letters Campaign. It's worth checking out if you haven't already. As part of their "Blog Buzz", I'll be answering one question per week on my blog. This week, it's the age-old "Why-did-we-choose-Ethiopia?" I honestly love sharing our process, our journey, in hopes that it might open eyes, minds and hearts to this beautiful East African nation. Everyone has their reasons for choosing a particular country. We are no different.

The Need

Orphans belong in homes, period, regardless where they come from--whether it's on the other side of the world, or right next-door. But we were especially and utterly compelled by the AIDS and orphan crisis in Africa. It is devastating. Some have called it the scourge of our time. Completely unfathomable. We saw this as being an extremely urgent need, and we wanted to help.

The Culture

Ethiopia is an amazing place filled with amazing people. Their love for God, love for children, joyfulness in the face of terrible adversity, dignity, and pride they take in their country are so beautiful to us. Travelling there, we fell in love even more.

The Stigma

As "popular" as Ethiopian adoption seems to be, statistics reveal that the overwhelming majority of international adoptions come from other places (in spite of those adoption programs generally being more expensive, time-consuming, and difficult). While there are surely several reasons for this, ONE of them is that it is less "socially acceptable" for a white person to adopt a brown-skinned child, so people don't want to do it. This, to me, is a tragedy. There will always be ignorant, prejudiced people. I just can't see letting that be an obstacle to a child finding a family.

The Process

I feel very, very strongly about ethics in adoption. Human trafficking and "baby buying" are serious, and they happen, and they put all international adoptions at risk. Adoption is business. There's a lot of money at stake. Impoverished people are easy to exploit. We knew we only wanted to support a program and agency that was above-board and committed to finding families for children...not the other way around. One that had an established, stream-lined process that was free from corruption. Adoption Advocates International's Ethiopia program was well-established, they were extremely involved in humanitarian work there, and helped co-found an orphanage for HIV+ orphans.

If you know me, then you know that bringing Yosef and Biniam home from Ethiopia has been life-changing. I can't wait to go back with my sons...I can't wait to adopt again...Part of my heart is in Ethiopia. Might yours be also?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Denver public pools

$1.99 flip flops from KMart

Riding bikes after dinner

Melty ice cream cones

The Denver outdoor pools opened for the season yesterday. It was so hot all day that when Kevin got home at 4:30, off we went. We have a great pool less than a mile from our house, that also has a big shallow pool for kids, a grassy area with lawn chairs, and is connected to a big beautiful park. Kids swim free this summer (thanks Mayor Hickenlooper!), so Kevin and I each bought a 3 month pass good for all the city pools (there are 16), and all the rec centers. With the hot weather we've been having, I think we'll be spending a lot of time in the water!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Book recommendation

In Their Own Voices: Transracial Adoptees Tell Their Stories by Rita J. Simon and Rhonda M. Roorda.

This book is amazing! Interview after interview with adult adoptees who were raised by parents of another race. It offers so many thoughts and feelings and varied perspectives, and overall I've found it to be very insightful. Having a mixed-race family is amazing, but I'm not naive enough to think it will be without its struggles for our brown-skinned children. Hearing honest feedback from adults who lived through it is priceless.

Thanks to Jennifer and her lending library for the read! I think this book would be great for both parents, and adoptees, and prospective adoptive parents too.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Tunnel vision

My friend Jeannett just posted about the remarkable work of St. Jude Children's Hospital. Her post got me thinking about all of the work there is to is vast and there are so many places and people that need--and deserve--our attention.

There are a lot of things I care about, but of course there is just one of me, and I can't do it all, and you can't do it all. The question is, can I do SOMEthing? And what might that something be?

I know that many of us who have adopted internationally regularly face the question of, "why adopt from another country?" Shouldn't we care for "our own" first? This question is complex and the answers are equally so, and I admit to feeling (quite) frustrated with the sentiment behind it. (I will not go into those reasons at this time.) Ultimately, if the Lord has given you a heart for something...then go for it. That doesn't mean you ONLY care about that one thing. Or judge others who are doing something else. But you put your money/time/efforts where your mouth is and embrace the calling on your life. And hopefully share about your journey along the way, because how else will the rest of us learn?

I remember (at least) one time where I got the incredulous "why AFRICA?" question. I was a bit flabbergasted by this, considering the widespread orphan and AIDS crisis going on there. My initial thought was, why not??? (My second and third thoughts were, why is it so shocking and what do you have against Africa?! Of course I didn't verbalize those!) We really wanted to go where there was an urgent need. Many people are not interested in transracial adoption. Even though no one likes to admit it, some people have strong negative feelings about HIV and AIDS and Africa in general. We don't. So that's where we went.

ALL of this to say, I don't want to have tunnel vision when it comes to our world. I will continue sharing about Ethiopian adoption, Africa, and HIV, because as far as I can tell this is the calling given me. And I know you have one, too, and we need to hear about it! (On that note, if you haven't already, please take the time to find out about what is going on in Africa, and consider if/how you can help. A large-scale problem, but we can all do our part. I think I'm still figuring mine out!)

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