Thursday, May 28, 2009
We are so predictable. :)
The kids were thrilled. Three of them were wanting a girl, and one was wanting a boy, but he assures me he's wanting a girl now. Which is good, because I don't think we can produce boys. :)
And names. There are two we love, one we've loved for a long time and another that is new this time around. We have awhile to decide, and we won't tell the name until the baby's born. Not because it's so grand, but because I like having lots of time to change my mind, and I don't need other peoples' opinions. They feel much less free to share them once the baby is actually there. :)
Anyway we're super excited. I'm having another ultrasound next month to check on a couple of things--my placenta is partially covering my cervix so unless it moves, it's C-Section time. Ugh. (Doctor gave a 60-70% chance that it'll move. Online it said that 90% of partial placenta previas resolve themselves. So let's hope that statistic is right!) Also our baby is taking a little longer to lose some of the developmental cysts (I think I just coined a new technical term!) on its brain (babies can have them up until 24 weeks or so, and I'm about 20 weeks) so the doctor just wants to make sure they go away. The baby looked perfect other than that--which she shouldn't if something were wrong--so the doctor is pretty sure it's fine, but you never know. (Why is nothing ever easy???)
Another daughter! I'm so excited about our little girl! The baby seems so much more "real" now!!!
AND, the obligatory awkward belly-shot I just took of myself five minutes ago. Maybe I should take one tonight before bed--my stomach will be much bigger by then.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
My boy's first pair of glasses.
He loves them.
No more squinting, shaking his head back and forth, or crossed eyes.
In 8 weeks, we go back to the eye doctor for another exam, and new lenses.
Praying his brain can adjust so that eventually, he will be able to see through glasses like a typical kid.
In the meantime, SO grateful for the simple gift of improved vision for my son.
Friday, May 15, 2009
An orphan-protecting adoption culture is countercultural and always has been.
As of late I've been especially bothered by the multitudes of children with medical needs who are waiting and waiting for families. All around the world. Something is wrong.
It is troubling. And I want to do something. Not sure what, considering I'm 18+ weeks pregnant with my fifth child.
Oh how I desire that hearts would be broken for these children--but not just broken, moved to action. Mine included.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
The room was filled with people, and as I stopped to look through a book, I overheard this conversation between two women:
Mom A: "So what has your family's reaction been to you homeschooling?"
Mom B: "WELL, they are FLAMing liberals and..."
wait for it...
"PUBLIC SCHOOL EDUCATORS."
OH the horror!!! To think that someone spends their life teaching children. Shameful. Just shameful. :)
I seriously had to keep from laughing. I may survive homeschooling, but I don't know if I'll survive the culture. And, of course, I just had to share!
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Included were these portraits of her and her siblings.
Monday, May 11, 2009
What's REALLY on my mind is some other mom stuff I've been thinking about. I just started reading a book, which shall remain anonymous to protect the author, that I have found to be pretty awful. And yes, it's a pro-adoption book. In fact, the whole thing is about adoption. But I just so disagree with this author's philosophies in regards to a child's birth country and past that I had to post. Why is the author so insecure about the fact that his children spent part of their lives without him? I don't feel threatened by having my kids eat Ethiopian food or learn Ethiopian songs. (?????) I hope as they grow to adulthood that they DON'T "hate" the food from their country of origin. As is evidenced by the fact that we kept their names, I DON'T want to erase their Ethiopian identities. (I'm not saying everyone who renames a child is doing this, but in the author's case, it was this huge deal.)
We also just watched a documentary that was, in my opinion, a pretty insensitive treatment of adoption. Granted the parents in the documentary were just being themselves, but really, they were an interesting cross-section and NOT representative of pretty much all the adoptive parents I am blessed to know. Then the person hosting the documentary seemed really hung up on the fact that the children didn't look like the parents...um...hello? THE KIDS ARE ADOPTED! As in, they were born to someone else. And when the families travelled to meet the foster moms who'd cared for the babies, to say goodbye and thank you, one adoptive mom left the child at the hotel with her husband and went alone. The foster mom was devastated, as all the other foster moms around her were able to say their goodbyes. I mean, the lady was weeping. The adoptive mother seemed unapologetic and flippantly said she wished she could do something to comfort the foster mother...to which the foster mother replied, "Had you brought the child, I would have been comforted." (I think I may have applauded at that point.) I just got the vibe that some of these adoptive parents were so caught up in a "give me my baby" entitlement mentality that they ceased to consider the child's perspective. As in, how to explain to your child that the one time you met their foster mother, you made her cry because you purposely wouldn't let her say goodbye...because you were so insecure about being the child's mom that you wanted to make a statement? Yikes!
Adoption is such a sensitive issue, especially when it comes to international adoption, and I think people need to tread lightly. Lightly as in, don't discount where your child came from and try to pretend they're not adopted or that they were born in America in order to overcompensate. Lightly as in, when you're hosting a documentary that includes adoptive families, don't giddily say that it was so fun seeing the babies find families that now you "want one." Or continually comment about how the babies "don't even" look like the parents...or that the babies look "more like" you.
It's been good food for thought, for sure. Even if the documentary did have me cringing, and the book had me grumbling out loud! (Does anyone else ever read/watch things that make them think and get them a little fired up? And if so, what?)
Saturday, May 09, 2009
LOVED reading all your comments! So fun to see your hearts and read your funny/not so funny flight stories!
Jeannett I'm not sure what constitutes a big family. I know of so many people with 8+ kids that I think my point of reference has changed. I feel like 3 kids seems pretty standard these days, so maybe 5 or more? I have no idea. People always think 4 kids is a lot (including myself most days!) but sometimes I wonder if that's more because my kids are so close in age, and people think we're too young to have that many. (Andy heehee, maybe you can explain to me in engineer-speak why I SHOULDN'T be afraid to fly???)
I'm not sure what my craziest airplane story is. I just know that I am terribly fearful and once I'm not pregnant anymore, I'll be using Kristen's idea and having me a drink. Or two. The first time I EVER flew was in high school on a flight from San Francisco, CA to Kansas City, MO for a school-related convention. Much of the flight was other students from all over California attending this same event. Not sure how they assigned seats but out of my three friends and I, me and two others flew first class and our other friend got stuck in coach! We were eating omelets and croissants and she was eating cold cereal with a plastic spoon. We got warm cookies, and she got peanuts. Ah, good times.
Paige asked me what my secret is in terms of raising four kids, and just this week I've been thinking that whatever has become your normal routine just feels, well, normal, and like no big deal--whether it's housework or childcare or something else. SO, in the beginning, it may take awhile to adapt. But at some point, it just becomes life and doesn't feel like extra work. Case in point: Shortly before we moved to Denver, Kevin, Kaitlyn and I flew out here for our home inspection. In the beginning, it felt like a vacation being away from the other three kids. By the end of the weekend though, I was feeling like Kaitlyn ALONE was a ton of work and was unsure how I'd managed to care for four kids so far. So I think that generally speaking, people who could never see themselves having, say, six kids, could do it. Truly. You don't have them all overnight, and you adjust, and life is just life. You're still parenting, doing all the same things, there are just more children. If you find parenting two children to be rewarding and fulfilling, you'll find parenting six children to be rewarding and fulfilling. I really DON'T have a secret and I think I fail more than I succeed, but I love my kids and I count it an honor to be a mom. We're experiencing God's blessings in our life and it's wonderful.
Finally, I wish I could give away a book to each of you!!!!!!!!!!!! It really is fabulous and I hope you each read it and are inspired and encouraged like I was.
Thursday, May 07, 2009
I know I'm not solely responsible for the world's
children. Each time we have adopted, we have not done it out of some
misguided savior complex but because we wanted another person to hug at night,
another face at our table, another little one to teach to talk and walk and ride
a bike, another person to rejoice over as she or he grows and
And yet, when and if my husband declare that finally we're
done...whether we care to face it or not, we are also closing a door in the face
of a real living child waiting somewhere in the world who could be
Call me nuts if you will, but I'm not ready to close that
door. Not just yet.--Mary Ostyn, A Sane Woman's Guide to
Raising a Large Family
To win a copy of Mary's book, click here!!!!
The above quote beautifully articulates some of the (jumbled) thoughts in my own head. Michelle had asked in a comment why we chose Ethiopia specifically. I need to preface this with saying that orphans need families, period. Whether they're abroad or in the US. Our journey of course took us to East Africa.
When we first decided to adopt we anticipated adopting from both China and Ethiopia at some point. We also planned to adopt a child with medical needs. We looked into a waiting child in Asia (Hong Kong or Taiwan, sadly I can't remember) named Ling, who'd been born missing a foot and who had a malformed hand and also possibly had hydrocephalus at some point. She was beautiful. It turns out a family had just come forward to adopt her, and so we felt thrilled for her but sad for us. In the end we were ultimately compelled by the African AIDS crisis, the orphan crisis, and the reality that at the end of the day, an orphan who ages out of care in Africa is in trouble. Bottom line.
Our sons actually ended up being healthy. We remained open to medical needs, however in the end accepted a referral for healthy twin boys from Ethiopia (although there WAS question about Biniam's development--he was very delayed and very small. Let me just say though, the kid is fine. :) ) HIV+ adoption had scarcely begun when we travelled to get our sons; I believe the first child or two were waiting to come home. We knew and hoped that day at AHOPE that we could return for children from there one day. That is still our desire.
So, in a nutshell, when we looked at the situation and overwhelming need in Ethiopia, we knew we had to do it. It's a beautiful culture and we felt very comfortable with the agency we used. I can't wait to go back, I loved our time there.
Parents choose countries for all sorts of reasons, and those were ours. My heart has been in Africa ever since. God has given adoptive parents passions for Russia, Guatemala, China, the US foster care system, etc...it is amazing. The needs are vast and we can each do SOMEthing. Sometimes I think about adoption and about how little an effort it was on our part compared to the lifechange it is for a child. Not that there haven't been difficult aspects. Not that it's not crazy expensive. But God provided and has continued to provide. And that has all been so seemingly insignificant when I think about where my sons came from and what their future would be if it weren't for adoption.
If anyone out there thinks that adoption is just for a particular subset of people, I would encourage you to reconsider. I know all different types of people who have adopted--married couples, single women, couples unable to have children and families with lots of kids. You don't have to be wealthy. The paperwork is manageable. If we were able to do it, so can you!
Monday, May 04, 2009
But I've been to Ethiopia. My time there changed all my
preconceived ideas about logic and good sense and need.--Mary
Ostyn, A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family
Oh how I love that quote. To enter the giveaway to win your own (free!) copy of the book, click here!
Saturday I returned home from spending a few days in Texas, for a conference put on by Christian Alliance for Orphans. I had a feeling I'd be utterly and completely impacted by what I heard and saw there, and yeah, I most definitely was. There were many amazing moments, tears were shed, and my heart felt broken-yet-hopeful. It feels like I'm just now starting to process through it all.
Hearing from Emily Chapman Richards, Steven Curtis Chapman's daughter. Um, yeah. She's amazing, her story is amazing and heartbreaking, and I wish we were friends.
Seeing a teenaged Liberian adoptee and hearing his story. Wow. As an adoptive mom, yeah, it was extremely powerful.
Attending a session with Karyn Purvis, author of The Connected Child. She's pretty awesome and her methods and insights make so.much.sense. Not to mention the hope she brings to children from hard places is truly inspiring, to say the least.
I just feel like my time at the conference, and other things I've been thinking/reading/feeling lately, have really affirmed my belief that God has called our family to something besides the typical American life. Not because we're special, or because we want to be different. But simply because we're called. And there's a need. We can help meet that need. So many times this past week, a speaker would talk about how God created families, and created children to be raised in families. If a child is without a family, something's broken, and not right. How can I possibly turn my back and pretend I don't see it? How can I forget the multitude of children I saw living at AHOPE? Or the women in this documentary? The truth is, plain and simple, I CAN'T. Nor should I. Whether it's paying for an Ethiopian woman's fistula surgery or adopting a waiting child, I always hope to be doing SOMEthing.
When I reach the end of my life, I hope it can be said of me that I gave everything I had away, for the sake of Christ. To my husband, children, and the world around me.
6,000 children will be orphaned by AIDS today. Could you love one?
Sunday, May 03, 2009
So I brought a book along this time around that I'd been wanting to read, and was able to finish it between the two flights. It helped keep my mind off my seemingly-impending-doom because, quite honestly, it was wonderful!!!
A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family was written by my friend Mary Ostyn. She's an amazing mom to many, including six adopted children from Korea and Ethiopia. (Incidentally Mary played a key role in our decision to adopt, and I am determined to meet her in real life at some point!) This book was full of wisdom, practical tips, and fabulous insights into larger-than-average family life. If you have a big family, are considering having a big family, or can't understand why anyone would ever have a big family, you'll love this book. Really.
I gleaned so much from it, and I can't wait to go back through and re-read some stuff.
I love what Mary writes:
But the decision to grow your family consists of much more than adding up noise and groceries and laundry, and gauging your tolerance of each. You also have to factor in the multiplication of hugs, the many more funny sayings, and the additional joy of witnessing each child succeed at each new phase of life. I think most parents would agree that a single lisped "I love you" at the right moment can easily outbalance a bathtub full of laundry.
Isn't that so true?! I know it has been for us. The book covers everything from discipline to affordable vacations to finances to sibling relationships. Utterly inspiring, challenging and encouraging!
So here's the good news for you: Mary sent me an extra copy, and I'm giving it away! Just leave a comment sharing why you have or want to have a large family, OR, what you've always wondered about big families. If you want an extra entry, leave a seperate comment about your strangest in-flight experience. Then on Friday, I'll randomly choose a winner. K?
Saturday, May 02, 2009
Texas was humid. And very green (as in, the trees and grass, not the environment.)
There was an IKEA.
The conference was great.
I laughed a lot. A lot. My friends are really funny.
Time with good friends was priceless.
So was meeting new friends.
I'm really grateful to be home with my kids. I missed them.
Kevin is now at our church's mens' retreat. So I miss him again.
I came home to bathed children and a spotless house.
My seatmate on the flight home was, I believe, stoned out of his mind.