Sunday, February 28, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Okay, I could go on and on about how I wish we still lived nearby, but I won't. BFF's are the best, don't you think?
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
My sons are eight months younger than Anna.
So I guess that would technically be artificial tripletting. :)
To be honest, when I received a phone call from the director of our agency one December morning in 2005, telling me about twin boys in Ethiopia whose adoption was being disrupted by their (first) adoptive family, it didn't even occur to me that we would reject them on the basis of their age being too close to our daughter's. And then reading their story, knowing they were in great need of a new family, and of course being open to two children under three years old, compelled us to adopt them.
There are good reasons though why social workers are wary of artificial twinning. Sometimes it can really upset a first born to be dethroned, to have to share the first-born-ness with someone else, especially if they're the same gender. Then that can lead to further family issues, resentment, etc. Occasionally the adopted child will struggle with this arrangement, further crippling the attachment process. Not good.
So why did we take that risk when we brought our sons home? I guess we believed that Anna was easy-going and laid-back enough, personality-wise, to share her place in the family with two brothers. (The fact that they're different genders helps too, although had we adopted a girl, I still think it would have been fine.) And for a long time, there was a huge gap, developmentally, between Anna and Yosef and Biniam. As time passes though, that gap is closing. We've found that we generally parent based around a child's responsibility and maturity versus age anyway, in terms of privileges etc.
Even though we apparently did something we technically shouldn't have, it turned out really, really well. Our kids are literally best friends. They play together all day long. They are always so excited to be reunited with each other on Monday afternoons, when Anna's been away. It's actually turned out to be a very healthy family dynamic.
Right now we're processing through some decisions related to future adoptions. Trying to figure out what exactly we're capable of, equipped for, and then of course attempting to discern God's will for our family in this area. Because adoption is inherently messy. There are lots and lots (and LOTS) of unknowns. Sometimes things go well, sometimes things go badly, sometimes things go differently than expected. It's a long road. We feel strongly about adopting waiting children...children who may have medical/developmental needs, or who may be older...basically kids who need homes TODAY, who are difficult to place, as opposed to us going on a waiting list for a healthy young infant. (Those children need homes too however. But the demand far exceeds the supply, and so many precious little ones are just waiting and waiting.)
The children we currently have, that is our priority of course. What is good for them, and what is good for potential adopted children? What type of child might we be good for, and what child would be a good fit for us? There is much to consider, with long-lasting implications.
You might not believe it (considering the sheer volume of children that we have), but we're actually in a great place right now. Just cruising along pretty much. Our kids are settled in, have healthy, secure relationships with each other and with us, Mary's being born was a completely easy transition for the kids (literally no bumps at all)...basically things are good. From that standpoint, I think we're decent candidates to adopt again at some point in the next year or two.
Anyway, my amazingly wise, sweet friend Lisa (who I get to meet in April, yay!!!) has a great blog that you should read, if you haven't already. She wrote this post that is full of great insights from herself and from other adoptive parents. If you've adopted or are planning to again I'd love to read your thoughts as well!
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Sunday, February 21, 2010
--The constant cloud of cigarette smoke all throughout the ship. (You can't tell in this picture, but my eyes were BLOODSHOT and ITCHY the entire time!)
Friday, February 19, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
I don't know if I'll be giving anything up for Lent, but I'll definitely be doing daily Bible reading (hopefully also reading some stuff in No Greater Love and maybe from another book I got) and I'm also planning to devote more time to prayer...prayer for various friends of mine who are hurting, and then also about our family and what God may have for us in the next couple of years in terms of adoption.
Do you observe Lent?
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
As I sat reading adoption stories on agency websites and looking at photolistings of waiting children in developing countries, my stomach churned. My eyes filled with tears and I thought of my precious daughter sleeping soundly in her room...warm, content, with a tummy full of food and two parents head-over-heels in love with her. I thought of my 2200-square-foot, four-bedroom home that would be considered a major luxury in most parts of the world. And I thought of all the children who had, well, nothing.
Visited two orphanages, including one caring solely for HIV+ orphans.
We felt so, so grateful to have received another sweet daughter. To know we could become pregnant again. For the first time ever, Yosef and Biniam were big brothers. Oh how they adored their baby sister! And having a normal, healthy pregnancy and delivery was so healing for us, after our last pregnancy ending in miscarriage.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Friday, February 12, 2010
Biniam: Mommy, when I grow up, I'm going to go tell people about Jesus! I'll tell them that He loves them and that they should believe in Him, and that He's God.
Me: Biniam, that's wonderful! There are some people who go all over the world and help people, and tell them about Jesus. They're called missionaries.
Biniam: Yeah! That's what I'm going to do!
Wait for it...
Yosef: Well I'M going to be a mailman when I grow up.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
My baby is six. SIX.
Where did the time go?
Six years ago today my water suddenly broke, we packed up and went to the hospital, and sweet little Anna Elisabeth was born. Our lives were changed forever that day.
I remember looking at her and feeling like I'd always known her. I remember the excitement I felt as I realized that we were a family. A family!
Today, six years later, she is a confident, easy-going, funny girl. She loves Jesus, reading, helping in the kitchen, and playing with her four siblings. Her favorite TV show is America's Funniest Videos and not a day goes by when she doesn't tell me that Mary is aDORable. In some ways I believe she is very mature, and in other ways, very innocent and young. When she grows up she says she wants to be a mom, and a nun like Mother Teresa. :)
Rejoicing in God's blessings today as I celebrate my first-born. Happy birthday Anna!!!
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
When preparing for marriage, Kevin and I talked about that four-letter-word among newlyweds: kids. Neither of us thought it was a good idea to get married if you weren't wanting to have kids, or if you couldn't joyfully accept a child God might give you. Let's face it, everyone knows how children are conceived and there's nothing worse than married people who are actually MAD that they're having a baby.
Still I decided to go on the pill. I had about a year and a half left of college (that would be put on hold since we were moving), and ultimately, you weren't supposed to have kids until you'd been married a good long time.
I remember going to the Cal Poly health center a couple of months before our wedding and getting a prescription for birth control. Simple, right?
Well, apparently putting synthetic hormones into your body can have side effects. Nasty ones. Like splitting headaches, horrible bloating (I seriously LOOKED pregnant), fatigue, and worst of all, emotional issues. I tend to be a pretty calm, level-headed person. I rarely cry. But the pill made me crazy. Things that shouldn't have been a huge deal made me sob, or made me angry. I would have meltdowns. It was awful.
But I continued taking the stupid little pills, hoping and hoping that as time passed, the side effects would go away. About a month and a half after our wedding though, I reached a point where I told Kevin I'd rather be a sane, happy mom than a crazy person with a college degree. He totally agreed--in fact, he'd been encouraging me to stop taking the pill for quite some time.
Awhile after I stopped, some friends shared with us some disturbing things about hormonal birth control. I felt frustrated that no one had told us this before. Turns out it's controversial in Christian circles, and if I'd just read the little package insert and given it a few minutes of thought, I would have seen why. From that point on I knew I could never go that route again, not to mention the fact that various studies link hormonal contraception to significantly higher rates of breast cancer. Lovely.
So we just decided to use the ol' calendar method for our family planning and to trust God with the details. Many months later, I enrolled in college again because we were moving back to the SLO area. Every month I got my period, I felt sad--SAD--that I wasn't pregnant. Both of us looked forward to having kids, I guess we just thought we weren't allowed.
That first week back at school, I was exhausted. Hmmmm, school must take more energy than I remembered, I thought. I'd come home in the afternoons completely famished. Needing to eat. Why am I so hungry? Did school used to make me this hungry? Finally one day it occurred to me that I was late. And on our one-year wedding anniversary, I took a pregnancy test. It was positive. Two people had never been more thrilled!!! It's a beautiful thing when God makes a decision FOR you, when His will is right out there in front of you and you know precisely what He's wanting for your life. No guesswork, no turning back. I made the decision to drop out of college (not enough time to finish my degree before the baby came), and I can honestly say that I've never felt as free as I did walking away from campus.
God giving us Anna when He did remains one of the best things that ever happened to us. He blew all of our preconceived notions out of the water. He humbled us and blessed us beyond measure. Somewhere amidst the sleepless nights and spit-up I praised the Lord and felt that this was what our lives would be about. This was how God would shape and change me. This was how I would serve the Lord and how our marriage was meant to be. It wasn't too long before we both came to the conviction that children ARE truly gifts from God, that they CAN actually make your marriage BETTER as opposed to worse...and that sterilization was off the table for both of us. A scary proposition for two people in their early 20s!
I remember in some of our discussions about it, feeling unsure. We didn't fit with some of the groups (typically Protestant Christians) who spoke out against contraception and I found some of their arguments to be a little off. (It would actually be years before we felt like we came to any sort of cohesive beliefs on this or on sexuality in general, and interestingly they came from a most unexpected place, Pope John Paul II and the Roman Catholic church. More on that in a later post.)
When Anna was six months old, I got pregnant again. Several weeks later, I miscarried. Ugh. One of the WORST nights of my life. The physical pain was excruciating, not to mention the emotional pain that comes from knowing your baby has died, and it's all ending in this horrible messy tragedy. My doctor had suspected that it was a twin pregnancy based on the ultrasound, and judging by the miscarriage, I think he was probably right.
Grieving the loss of our baby (or babies I guess), we also desperately wanted to conceive again. It wouldn't happen. Everyone I knew was pregnant, but not me. I never felt angry or jealous per se, just frustrated that it wouldn't happen for us. FYI, secondary infertility is a nightmare. Every month you get your hopes up, then they come crashing back down, and you start wondering what's wrong with you, if your firstborn was a fluke and if they'll never have a sibling.
God taught me something during those times though, something that no one had EVER taught me before. I didn't hear it at church, or from friends, or read it in books. The Christian people I knew didn't talk about it, so it was something I'd never considered. And it was this: fertility is a gift. My fertility is a gift. My ability and Kevin's ability to, in cooperation with God, bring forth a precious new life made in the image of God, is profoundly beautiful.
It would be twenty long months before I would get pregnant again. I don't look back on the struggle to conceive with much fondness, because it was hard in a lot of ways. But I DO believe God used it to show me something that I would have been too stubborn to embrace otherwise, even though it meant I would suffer.
And I believe there was yet another reason God prevented us from conceiving--two reasons, really. It would come to be the next big step in our journey together...
Monday, February 08, 2010
Friday, February 05, 2010
(Picture her speaking in a really ditzy, teeny-bopper voice)
"So are you, like, currently working in the field of psychology?"
"No, I'm a mom. I have kids." (Five actually, but who's counting?)
"Oh! Um, okay! A stay at home mom." (Wow, thanks for the validation...) "Well, have you EVER worked in the Psychology field?"
"No." (Not unless you count parenting FIVE CHILDREN day in and day out, including two who came home with some trauma issues. But whatever.)
"Ummm, okaaaaaay. So have you been back to visit Cal Poly since you graduated?"
"No." (Didn't have the heart to break the news that I didn't, in fact, actually graduate...that sometimes God has other plans that far surpass your own. I also refrained from asking her if it's NORMAL to go lurking around your alma mater when you're in your late 20s. Because at best that seems desperate, and at worst, creepy.)
"Okay, well, like, I wanted to invite you to Open House this year. Do you think you can come?"
"No." (Really? She knows I live in Colorado. What on EARTH would I be doing at Open House?)
"Um, um, okay. So like here's the other reason for my call." (Riggggghht. NOW we get to the REAL reason this college student, who by this time I'm certain MUST be either a cheerleader or in a sorority of some sort, possibly both, is calling me.) "Things have been, like, really hard with the budget cuts. Things have been, like, so hard this year. Like getting classes, and stuff with education, and, like the cuts..."
At this point she droned on and on (making less and less sense, but I patiently sat and let her finish.) FINALLy she stopped and awkwardly asked, "Um, like, so can you make a donation?"
"No thank you." (Sorry, our charitable giving is generally reserved for relief organizations, the kids we sponsor in Ethiopia and Uganda, our church, and the girl scouts when it's cookie time. I ALMOST asked if she'd caught the news lately or heard of a place called Haiti, and whether she REALLY thought things had been so hard for her at college, but of course I didn't.)
"Well, if you enjoyed your time at Cal Poly at all, you really should consider making a donation." (Hmmm, not really a fan of school. At all. I went to college to get a work permit, but ended up scoring a husband instead. The Psychology program was good and I did well, but I have zero CP green and gold mustang pride. Sorry folks.)
"No thank you."
So yeah, she was rude on top of it all. Unable to hide her bitterness that I didn't shell out some money for the suffering college students in San Luis Obispo, CA. I was polite, but I sure couldn't match her enthusiasm. (Must have been the Red Bull or something.)
The thing is, I DO have some fond memories of the PSY department. I had some great professors and all that. But I REFUSE to be guilted into donating, and so long as they have these sorority sisters calling me and acting like I owe the university something, I won't be. Not saying it's not a worthy cause, but REALLY. The way she was talking you'd have thought she was trying to raise money for St. Jude's.
Hate to be snarky, but it is what it is.
Except that, like, maybe it's a little fun sometimes.
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
Today we had our daily Bible/prayer time over breakfast, Anna worked on some word problems, and then she read about birds and trees. Love homeschooling. Love, love, love it!
As for me I've been doing housework mostly. (In addition to spending too much time reading blogs and emailing.) I currently have a sweet little 3-month-old smiling up at me. After I finish posting here I'm off to finish mopping and then I'll clean the bathrooms. I even have a meal planned for tonight, chili in the slow cooker. (Is it a slow cooker or crockpot? I'm never sure what to call it.) This is really something because I've been getting over a sinus infection (thank you Amoxicillin) so the cooking around here has been a bit sparse lately. And yes I know all of YOU probably have really great dinners EVERY night, but these days it's quite an accomplishment around here! Let's just say I'm lucky that a certain 5-almost-6 year old around here loves making quesadillas.
Our community group that we host/lead meets tonight, and my friend is bringing cookies, so I don't have to bake. Not that I don't LIKE baking, and Anna usually helps me, but I have enough to do today to keep me busy. I'd hoped to get some more headway made in my Bible reading but sadly that has not happened yet. I am woefully behind, but I am DETERMINED to catch up.
And with that, I really need to finish my housework. Happy Wednesday!
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
One of my favorite books on prayer is by CS Lewis, Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly on Prayer. LOVE it.
A few months ago I felt convicted to begin praying boldly for something: for two children we know of (who have some medical needs) to find a family. I don't usually do that--I guess I mostly just pray for things like my kids to have a good day, or to feel better, or for me to have more patience etc. But this had been weighing on my heart, so we pray daily for it.
This morning with no prompting, Anna, Yosef, Biniam and Kaitlyn each prayed for these children. In their minds, nothing--NOTHING--is too big for God. Praying that orphans find a home is no different than praying we'll have a good day, or that Mary will get over her cold.
I really want that kind of faith. I keep reminding myself that although I'm not certain what God's answer to our prayers is yet, He is working. Meanwhile our faith is being built and strengthened, and that's always a good thing.
Is there anything that you pray about that feels just-too-huge?
Monday, February 01, 2010
Now it's time to put some pjs on and settle on the couch with a book. (Sadly I'm behind on my "Bible in 90 Days" goal, but I can catch up...right?!) I'm exhausted, Mary's sleeping, Kevin's tucking the big kids into bed (after leading them in a rousing rendition of "Father I Adore You"), and the kitchen is clean. Another Monday has come and gone!