Monday, October 30, 2006

Dry, Chapped Hands?

Here's a tip--courtesy of my youngest. She recommends about a half a jar of homemade applesauce, applied liberally to both hands. Work in with vigorous, clapping motion (ignoring splattered sauce on table) and present hands to mom for rinsing. Note: Smile to encourage help with clean-up.
The Best Gift of All

When I woke up yesterday morning, I was greeted by my three year old, CB, at the side of my bed. She was soon joined by her little sister, N and they both climbed up to wish me a happy birthday and snuggle and giggle. As the (current) two youngest in the house, they seem to have the market cornered on this type of behavior. There weren't even any church commitments. No one had to work nursery, altar serve, bring up the gifts or any other detail that would have required an organization of Sunday morning that would have impressed Army strategists. Between that and the extra hour of sleep from the time change, the day had already given me two lovely gifts (besides the two who woke me up, of course!)
As we made our way downstairs, my dear husband had already made hot tea and brought in the paper. Before we started to get ready for church, however, the three girls just could not wait any longer and came to share with me their gifts. CB had spent the better part of the night before dragging a balloon covered gift bag around the house and tossing in the special things (most of which actually belonged to her) for my birthday surprise. As I opened it and took out her special Care Bear, the bag of crayons (which prompted a "SO THAT'S WHERE THOSE WENT!" from her big sister), and a variety of other preschool treasures, I'm not sure who smiled more-she or I. My oldest daughter presented a beautiful handmade book called "Mom and Me Together!" The opening page reads:

Me and you together is great! We can have a lot of fun together. And now
you can look at all we have done together. And make sure to do some writing
about you and me together...I will love you forever...

After reading it, I know why it wasn't boxed. There isn't a box big enough to hold such sentiment. The day (and even a bit the two days before!) continued on in the same vein: phone calls, emails, kind words, and surprise gifts--even a slightly odiferous birthday hat-- from family and friends. It made me think about how lucky I am, and it made me think about H and Baby T, whose birth mother has also given me a gift that no box could ever hold. And it made me realize, it is not the gifts that I'm so enamored of today; the best gift of all is--at its core, the givers themselves. Thanks to all of you whom I am lucky to call "givers" for such a special day!
Not such a Monday after all

With such a great day spent with my family yesterday, today had all the prospects of being a Monday-in the truest sense of the word! But not today---because today we found out that our court date will be THIS FRIDAY!!! Yeah! The Group B cases will be heard 5 days later and group C is already filed and waiting for a court date! This is good news all around. We will probably travel about 4 weeks after this Friday (so somewhere in the last week of November/first week of December) but we'll know for sure after our cases pass court on Friday. What an incredible way to start the week!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

"Four is the new two"

At least that's what it seems like around here. Most of our friends seem to have families with more than the "average" American household. So while "average" American families may have 2.09 children (which is more than, I think, an average family has had in recent years), many of the gatherings we go to here, the children outnumber the adults by a sizeable ratio. We're thrilled by this news and always happy to find stories about other "large" families. This is a post written by another adoptive mom (2 of her 8 are adopted from Ethiopia) and she shares here her thoughts about the continuing discernment of family size. Check it out---it's a nice start your week! Larger Families: Q&A- Finding Harmony on Family Size

Friday, October 27, 2006

Digging around

Not content to sit through the next 48 hours with no explanation why our court date is (again!) postponed, I decided to do a little snooping, I mean, research. I first checkedour agency's Yahoo! group with little success, but that was really too obvious, right? Then, I decided to check out a few of the waiting families blogs to see what insight they might have. Unfortunately, there is not much out there as far as a reason for the court delay. Now, before any of you who have played Ethel in many of my Lucy hair-brained schemes get too concerned, rest assured that Ricky is safely here at home this weekend keeping me from mailing myself to Ethiopia in some type of bongo drum., nevermind...back to my "research". It seems that this situation is affecting not just all of the American adoption agencies in Ethiopia, but also ALL of the international agencies (out of Europe and Australia ) who process Ethiopian adoptions as well. I located a statement on the website for the Australian district of New South Wales Department of Community Services (which provides their local adoption services) that I found intriguing:

"The Australian Delegation to Ethiopia has recently returned and issued the following statement in early October 2006:
"The delegation had a successful visit to Ethiopia which included meetings with officials from all relevant government departments, including the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The delegation also met with the President of the First Instance Federal Court.
"All officials confirmed their support for the continuation of the Australian program, including the direct government to government bilateral agreement.
"Detailed discussions, particularly with Dr Bulti, provided a clearer picture of the Ethiopian Government’s policy for the overall intercountry adoption program into the future. Final policy guidelines are expected to be announced by the Ethiopian Government in the coming weeks.
"The delegation provided Dr Bulti and the other ministries with a first draft of a possible new bilateral agreement for the consideration of the Ethiopian Government prior to its consideration by the relevant Australian ministers.

Now, remember, I am no one who knows anything about what is going on with the exception of what I've read, but it seems to me that if they are still waiting for "final policy guidelines" to be announced by the Ethiopian Government for use in Australia then those same policies would apply to the US and Europe, n'est-ce pas? I'm wondering if these two things are just coincidental or if this may be at the root of our court delays and if so, then I'd love to just get the 4-1-1 on what the big deal is. It's also occured to me that there is another striking *coincidence* in the timing of our court snafu and a certain celebrity, who shall remain nameless, adoption in Africa. Hmmm...does anyone have Oliver Stone's phone number?
Not today

Perhaps, as I hoped, the agency decided to communicate via email (which we know exists in Addis). As I had not hoped, however, the news is that court dates were not assigned today. Now they are hoping for Monday (which, in case anyone is counting, is TWO WEEKS PAST our original court date). Sigh.
If you give a mouse a cookie

No, this is not another calorie laden recipe. It is instead a statement about the weather in Addis, the capital city of Ethiopia, and where our agency's orphanage is located. My information HERO, Anne, did all of the waiting families a favor and put a call in to see what is going on with our court dates. What she got was a weather report. Apparently, it's raining in Addis and when it rains in Addis...the phone lines are frequently down, and when the phone lines are frequently down...the agency can't contact their lawyers there, and when they can't contact their lawyers there...there is no update on our court dates, and when there is no update on our court dates...the waiting families start calling the agency, and if you give a mouse a cookie...perhaps he will share it with you while you wait for the rains to end.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Impetigo-Yeah, we got that

At this point, it is really no surprise to me that of the THREE babies who have impetigo, ours is one of them. Of these three, the information we received from the newly added full-time doctor on staff at the orphanage, says that Baby T's impetigo is "extensive" covering his neck, face and chest. The good news, according to this email, however, is that he as well as the other two babies were treated with antibiotics (topical/local and systemic) and they are all doing fine now. Thank God!
Still no news on the court date front, but a glimmer of hope. Families adopting from Ethiopia, using other agencies, have begun to get their re-issued court dates AND travel dates. Many seem to be traveling before the end of November. So in my book, that sounds like *potential* good news for our prospective travel dates. Originally, we had planned to have the kids home by Thanksgiving (and we would certainly still want that scenario above all others) ,but, we have lowered our expectations. Getting them home, whether November 30th or December 1st is the main goal and we're gearing up for a big win!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Be Careful What You Wish For

Yesterday, in a fit of mothering from a far, I decided I absolutely needed immediately an update on Baby T's Chicken Pox. Well, I initally received the answer, "We don't have one yet, but we'll ask." That answered pacified me for the night and I woke up today thinking I might hear how much better he looked and how he wasn't uncomfortable anymore. It's been almost a month now so surely he must be better!!! Then, a generic update came out from our agency that a second round of babies have chicken pox AND some of the babies with the initial round of chicken pox now have...impetigo. Maybe I just shouldn't have asked. Although, on second thought, maybe I should have asked sooner. Poor Baby T, we wish we were there to comfort you. Hang tight, little guy, we'll be there soon.

The agency director in Ethiopia reports that they have their new license and we should have court dates later today or tomorrow! Such small steps, but such big bliss!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

License Renewal

The word from our agency today is that the license is in the process of being renewed and they hope to have court dates for both Groups A AND B by the end of this week. Keep all these families in your prayers. Perhaps we will have a court date to report soon!

The Risk

"God insisted that we love one another as he loves each one of us. And we read that in the Gospel very clearly- love as I have loved you- as I love you- as the Father has loved me, I love you- and the harder the Father loved him, he gave him to us, and how much we love one another, we, too, must give each other until it hurts. It is not enough for us to say: I love God, but I do not love my neighbour. St. John says you are a liar if you say you love God, and you don't love your neighbour. How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbour whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live. And so this is very important for us to realise that love, to be true, has to hurt. It hurt Jesus to love us, it hurt him." from Blessed Teresa of Calcutta's Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, December 11th 1979

It is a great risk to love. We risk our hearts each day we choose to love the way in which we are commanded. The risk of heartache is real. Just ask someone who has lost one they have loved. How much easier to keep to ourselves and deny our need to love and be loved. Thank you, God, for people who risk themselves to be love to another today. Bless those who have suffered loss in loving the way You taught us to love. Remind those who stand on the sidelines, of the great blessings received by loving as they were created to love; and encourage them to risk to love today. Although the risk is large, the joy is larger still.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


The words of his niece, B, when her Uncle P announced that he and the "other" got engaged on Friday night. Congratulations to both of you! We are soooo excited and thrilled for your good news. I should share with you that your niece (after her inspection was completed) has known that this was "the one" for quite some time now. About a month ago we were driving in the car and she said to me:

B: B is Uncle P's last girlfriend, right?

Me: (slightly embarassed) No, she isn't. His last girlfriend was named...

B: No,no, no...I mean THIS is the LAST one.

And we couldn't be any happier that she is! Good job, Uncle P!
Grammar Police

Whether it was learned or inherited, for some time now certain members of my family mocked what they believed was unnecessary policing of their speech. Granted, the past two years in the mid-west has all but destroyed the small amount of proper speech left in my brain after conversing with four children, whose regard for the English language compels me to take them with (see what I mean?) next time the grammar rodeo is in town.
Regardless, as to the extent which H knows English, I thought we'd find some insight from her first term report card--where, as proud parents we'll point out that she is 3rd in her class. Her grade in English is solid, she seemed to be doing very well and we assumed she must be learning quite a bit with such high marks and all; that is until we read the ENGLISH teacher's comment "She did good." Oh well, they must be learning the vernacular based on where their adoptive family is. Sigh.
Language Barrier

We have been so blessed to have two families at our church and school who have adopted from Ethiopia using the same agency as ours. And we were just ecstatic when we discovered that the 8 year old son of one of the families actually KNEW our daughter, H, from Layla House. What are the odds, right? Well, not only does this lovely young man know her, he is also excited about her arrival and often asks when she is coming to America.
Besides having an instant friend and Amharic speaker for H, it is a tremendous blessing for us to walk in the footsteps of their wonderful parents. They have shared so much of their story and been frank and honest about their adoption-both good and bad-although most has been good--we won't even mention green vegetables--and if we are lucky enough to have that as our biggest adjustment, we'll take it! It has been such a source of comfort to have someone to ask questions that would seem insane without this particular shared experience, and it has been helpful on many occasions to ask for and receive advice from their 8 year old son. When I mentioned to his mom that I was uncertain about H's language, and the possibility of another language besides Amharic to deal with--she went right to the source. She shared his insight with me here:

I just asked Baye if H speaks Oromo. Right away he shook his finger and replied, "No. No. Amharic."
I asked him how he knows and he said, "I talk to her."
I tried pinning it down more by asking, "H speaks Amharic and what else?"
He said, "I don't know. English?"
He also corrected my pronunciation of Oromo. They pronounce it with the rolled "r" sound, like in Spanish.

What an amazing gift this is for us. I've taken to calling her son the mini-translator, but he is so much more than that. He is our daughter's friend. He is one of four wonderful boys being raised by incredibly loving and committed (no not that kind!) parents. And he allows a glimpse for us into the world a million miles away where both he and our daughter began their lives. Without even realizing it, he helps us close the gap between Ethiopia and the mid-western US.
He is really more a good-will ambassador of sorts; leading two American parents to a better understanding of his country and its people and through that- our H and Baby T.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

School, Language and the Oromo

K(aka CC), my dear teacher friend, this is a really good question. We are STILL pondering its answer. We have been paying careful attention to how adoptive parents we know have chosen to educate their internationally adopted child. Obviously, neither Pat nor I speak fluent Amharic (the national language of Ethiopia) AND there is the possibility that H will speak Oromo (the native language to her specific group of people within Ethiopia). As an FYI, this is a brief introduction to the Oromo region of Ethiopia:

The Oromo make up a significant portion of the population occupying the Horn of Africa. In the Ethiopian Empire alone, Oromo constitute about 30 million of the 55 million inhabitants of the Ethiopian Empire. In fact, Oromo is one of the most numerous nations in Africa which enjoys a homogeneous culture and shares a common language, history and descent and once shared common political, religious and legal institutions. During their long history, the Oromo developed their own cultural, social and political system known as the Gadaa system. It is a uniquely democratic political and social institution that governed the life of every individual in the society from birth to death.
Ecologically and agriculturally Oromia (Oromo country) is the richest region in the Horn of Africa. Livestock products, coffee, oil seeds, spices, mineral resources and wild life are all diverse and abundant. In spite of all these advantages, a century of colonisation by Abyssinia (Ethiopia), a backward nation itself, has meant that the Oromo people have endured a stagnant existence where ignorance and famine have been coupled with ruthless oppression, subjugation, exploitation and above all, extermination. Thus for the last one hundred years under the Ethiopian rule, the Oromo have gained very little, if anything, in the way of political, social and economic progress.

So, although H has learned some English at our agency's orphanage and possibly some prior to that, the truth is we just won't know the extent of her abilities until she comes home. With that in mind, we are preparing about 10 different contingency plans (who says the Army didn't teach me something?!) and waiting to see what her needs are when she arrives.

While it is true that some adoptive families homeschool, others choose public or private school (either in an ELL capacity or even in a regular ed setting) and their children do fine. For us, we are *planning* to have her assessed in our public school district, who offers a very wide variety of services-from total multi-age English immersion to a more traditional 30 min/day pull-out program-and see what they have to offer us. Ideally, we'd like to have her attend our parish school with the Boy and B, where the other families with Ethiopian children attend; but, we want to make sure we give her the best head start to help her be successful. We have considered doing a combination half-day parish school/half-day homeschool to allow her to fit in with her brother and sister, be around English speaking peers, but also work on her adjustment to America and our family and learn the language, to some extent, the way our birth children did-by growing up around it.

In the end, we just won't know what we'll do until we do it, I guess. No matter what, I'll be taking this class, it seems for a long, long time: Letting Go of Control 101 (yes, I am still in the entry level class).

Friday, October 20, 2006

The news is...

that we should have more "news" sometime next week, after Monday (which is an Ethiopian holiday) and after Tuesday (which apparently may also be an Ethiopian holiday...) I have to say this schedule is much more conducive to Ethiopian teachers than to adoptive parents, although I'll bet they don't have many snow days.
It seems as though the appropriate papers were accepted by the powers that be in the Ethiopian court system. It is unclear, however, if the amount of paperwork submitted is too much, not enough, or just right. At this point, I am just too tired to even venture a guess. We may or may not know something (although at this point-I can't even imagine what) next week.
On the plus side, it appears as though we may be able to afford the preferred flight option, which will detour the Boy and his dad from the Frankfurt airport and up the autobahn to our old digs in Giessen. They are planning to see where the Boy was born, check out where we lived, and grab a little schnell-imbiss before heading back to the airport and on to Addis later that night. Although it will involve approximately 36 hours (or something like that with the time zone changes, remember I'm tired) of travel the good news is (thanks for pointing this out CS) that they may as well sleep on the long, crowded, long, boring, and did I mention long plane flights instead of wasting valuable time on the ground sleeping or looking for a place to sleep.
More to come tomorrow, but for now, I'm going to see if I can curl up in an airplane seat myself and catch a few zzzs.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


We just received some wonderful news this morning. Our school is going to work with us to put on a fundraiser for our orphanage! There are three families (including us) at our school who have children adopted from AAI. We got together and came up with a plan.
I shared a story with the families about a project my second grade students did during Lent a while back. We were working with a group of local sisters, many of whom were retired, but one of whom was a missionary in Madagascar. She came and spoke directly to the hearts of these eight year old students. By the time they had seen her slide show and heard about all the children she had helped, they were all ready to go to Madagascar as missionaries themselves! Instead, we inquired of her needs as a missionary. What could we as a second grade class do? Her answer, "Pray. And make sacrifices." The students nodded knowingly, but after she left, I looked out to a sea of raised hands and the question, "What did she mean--make sacrifices?"
A few students understood and with that the discussion was started. What can we sacrifice that would help the children in Madagascar? We couldn't send lots of items--it was just too hard for us to do. But one child said, "What if we each sacrifice a favorite toy or game or book and sell it to raise money for the mission. I was sold. Once the posters were made and letters were prepared to send home with the whole school, my little second graders, in groups of two and three, each visited the other classes grades K-8 and shared our plan. We collected items for about a week and set up shop on Friday. On that Friday, the whole school cycled through in 10-15 minute intervals and spent a dollar here or there to purchase the toy another child had sacrificed for our sale. In the end, we raised close to $400 and my second graders saw first hand the fruits of their labor.

So, we're going to try it again. Please pray for a success in this event both in the raising of funds and the raising of awareness. We're going to target the second week in November through parent conferences and hope that the story of our children will touch others as it has touched us.
A welcome surprise

Yesterday, after all the unwelcome news about the court situation, I wasn't really looking for any good news. But God provided via the US Postal Service!
Knowing as they somehow do, in their own way, that the court delay was not a good thing, the kids have gone above and beyond in the area of compassion-especially to me. So, after school, when the boy came walking up the driveway with a big grin and waving the mailing envelope, I knew something was up. What a wonderful surprise it was to receive H's camera yesterday. I called my husband who said, "Go now! Drop it off and we'll pick it up in an hour." So, we did just that--with the understanding that this camera's fate could be that of Baby T's (27 exposures-only 2 grainy pictures due to x-ray machines at the airports). But, lo and behold, one hour later we were sitting in the kitchen carefully studying all of the pictures we received! What a gift!

Kids will be kids-no matter where they live. These are the Polly Pockets we sent H. showcased against the photo album we made her. The photo the dolls are displayed on is of our cat, Kuzco.

Another picture of H and her friend. The friend is wearing the sunglasses we sent H.

Daddy's troubles have just increased-another beautiful daughter to watch over! H and friend (also wearing the sparkly, pink shades!)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The scoop

Well, we just received word from our agency director that there is a delay in court, which was not really news here. The reason behind it, however, is. Apparently, the agencies have to file a license each year with the government in order to process Ethiopian adoptions. So, our agency filed what they needed, but when court re-opened, the government decided they needed MORE information. So, the additional information has been filed, but until the license is reissued there will be no news as to how soon they will be able to begin hearing cases.
Keep on hammering, Noah, we continue to build.
The day after

No real news to report, except to say that our agency director has been out of the network for a few days. We should hopefully hear something from her tomorrow or so.

In the meanwhile, the little girls and I went to the all-school Mass this morning. We ended up sitting in the little chapel in the back of the church. It was very peaceful and quiet and even the girls were pretty low-key. Each class takes a turn doing the Mass (ie, reading the scripture readings, singing, etc...) and it is so sweet to hear a first grader warmly greet everyone or a fourth grader sing the offertory hymn.

And the song they sang today reminded me that we do not wait alone.

You Are Mine

I will come to you in the silence, I will lift you from all your fear.

You will hear my voice I claim you as my choice, be still and know I am here.

(Refrain) Do not be afraid, I am with you.

I have called you each by name.

Come and follow me, I will bring you home.

I love you and you are mine.

You can listen to the song here.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

As if it wasn't enough...

Now, I get to hear all about some CNN reporter rehash for the umpteenth time about whether it is a good idea for white Americans to adopt African children. Obviously, there is a better answer than adoption. It would be a perfect world if ALL children, not just African orphans, were raised in the loving care of the parents who gave them life, but unfortunately (as we see all too often) our world is far from perfect.
To judge the motivations of the rest of the white, Western world by what a handful of celebrities do or say is like saying that all white, Westerners hold the same views and values as the Hollywood A-list or the media at large. When the alternatives for children are either fend for yourself in your motherland or find a mother in a new homeland---the loss of one's homeland for a time is not necessarily a bad thing.
As a matter of fact, many adoptive parents put their own selfish desires aside to help put into action a plan whereby their foreign-born child stays connected to the land of their birth--as well as any family members who may still live there. They do this in the hopes that maybe someday, their child can return, triumphant to give back to their country ,which has given to us--the adoptive parents--a gift beyond measure.

In time-UPDATE

Time is such a relative concept. Another adoptive family gave us this insight a few days ago from when they traveled to Ethiopia. The idea of being "on time" or "scheduling" something is really not an Ethiopian thing. For example, if you manage to accomplish ONE of the things you set out to do today, you're doing well. So, we shouldn't be overly suprised that our court case (as well as all the other court cases scheduled from all the adoption agencies) were not heard yesterday (for an unknown reason) and that they have yet to RE-schedule them. Someone from our agency believes it will probably be next week for court now, and that it should not impact previous travel estimates. So, we should still be traveling before the end of November. That was a bit of encouragement, and at this point, I'll take what I can get.
In time

I've been out all morning and was really hopeful that I would come home to good news. Since there was no news anywhere (ie-my email, the agency list, voice mail, etc...)my husband said, "Just call them." But before I did, I figured I'd check here, not at all expecting this news. I can't even believe it. I'm also suprised no one has notified any of us yet. So, our waiting continues, for an indeterminate amount of time now. I know God's timing is perfect and patience is a virtue, but I just wish He'd hurry up already.

Although, I was reminded that it did take poor Noah 100 years to build the ark. Hopefully, we won't have to wait that long!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Things to do instead of worry about court-part 2

These are delicious homemade cookies that taste like bakery cookies. I believe it has something to do with the high quantity of lard-like ingredients that allow the cookie to basically fry on the cookie sheet. They may not be healthy, but they can't be beat and tomorrow, I am bringing them as the snack for our Mom's group. Thanks to my MN friend, P, who introduced me to these cookies when our families were stationed together in Europe.

Good Everyday Cookies
1c. sugar 1c. oatmeal
1c. brown sugar 1/2 c. nuts
1c. butter 3 1/2 c. flour
1c. oil 1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla 1 tsp. salt
1 c. Rice Krispies 1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar
Blend sugars, oil, egg and vanilla. Beat well so oil does not separate. Add dry ingredients, stir in nuts. Chill at least 1/2 hour. Form into balls and flatten with glass dipped in sugar. Bake at 350F for 10-12 mins.
Variation: 2 tsps. vanilla and 1/2 tsp. coconut flavoring. Substitute 1 c. coconut for the nuts and add one 6-oz package of chocolate chips.
They may not get our court answer any faster, but we'll snack happy while we wait.
To sustain us on the journey

Let nothing trouble you, let nothing make you afraid. All things pass away. God never changes. Patience obtains everything. God alone is enough.... Saint Teresa of Avila

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Things to do instead of worry about court

I'm sure there are many, many more worthwhile things one could do, but my son pointed this out today and I thought a few of you might really get a kick out of it.

Before I go any further, however, I am stating officially for the record that I harbor no animosity whatsoever towards our friendly neighbors to the North, eh. And I'm not sure why my son feels differently...

So, you can watch and listen to a fan-made video here and read the lyrics as well. If nothing else, you can be thankful that I wasn't compelled to create my own video.
Court is in session!

While we sleep tonight, the courts in Ethiopia will be processing the cases for all the families in Group A. We will hopefully wake to hear sometime tomorrow that H and Baby T are ours forever! And then, we should receive our travel info shortly after that! Hopefully, we'll be sharing good news soon.
Passing it On

This morning, we decided to be a bit ambitious and attend Mass with everyone in tow. The two little ones are not real keen on the nursery at this point anyway, and we were up for the challenge. Besides, Sunday is our "Family Day" so why not actually be in church together, right?

Well, I can give you a few reasons.

For example, before we were even seated, the baby had begun digging through her bag looking for her juice cup. This was followed by numerous pleas of "Pick me up!" or conversely, "Put me down!" or someone deciding to swipe the. very. last. tissue. and hold it just out of my reach to wipe her own snotty nose with it. I am sure there was a wonderful sermon today and fortunately, I had read the Gospel reading ahead of time because I'm also sure I didn't hear a single word of it. But the final straw came just as communion was about to begin; (you saw this coming, right?) Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the baby had unzipped my pocketbook and was trolling through it. No wonder she was so quiet. I signaled to my husband and we quickly grabbed receipts from Walgreens and the grocery store; the Blockbuster card and tube of lipstick--oh, and of course, the offending child. Fortunately, her dad picked her up at that point, because quite honestly, I was done. I felt tears beginning to well up in my eyes (must be those adoption hormones) and was about to lose it when I remembered something.

It was a conversation I had with my Grandma, shortly after my second child was born. I had gone to visit her and have lunch. She was pretty much homebound at that point and I lived out of state so opportunities to visit were rare. As we sat in her kitchen, I struggled trying to fix our lunches, carry on a conversation and keep two small children occupied and, more importantly, out of trouble. I persevered until the baby began to cry, actually it was more of a shriek; which in turn sent her overly anxious preschool brother running amok leaving me standing not knowing which way to turn first. Again, I was ready to throw in the towel, but when I forced my self to raise my head to mumble some sort of an apology---I noticed that Grandma was smiling.
Now, I didn't know what to say, and I certainly was not smiling; but then she spoke--

"You know. I remember these sounds in this house when your dad and his brother and sister were younger. Oh, and I remember what it felt like to stand in the midst of it all; but I'm telling you right now---I wish every day to hear the sounds of them running through this house again."

And then she smiled again.

So, after communion, while I sat snuggling my toddler, I didn' t even bat an eye when our three-year old insisted in a rather loud voice that she had to go potty not in a minute, but RIGHT NOW! I reflected back on the words of my Grandma, who passed away the week after that very same three-year old was born. Quickly, my thoughts shifted, and I thought about a time when my husband and I would no longer occupy an entire pew at church, but sit together, in a small, quiet (except for the bustle of young families around us) side pew. And as I sent our 8 year old to the ladies room with her younger sister, I smiled. And from somewhere, not so far away, I got the feeling that my Grandma smiled, too.

"Likewise, tell the older women to be reverent in behavior, not to be slanderers or slaves to drink; they are to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, chaste, good managers of the household, kind, being submissive to their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited." Titus 2:3-5 NRSV

Friday, October 13, 2006

An Investment Opportunity

Thanks again, to my dear friend, F, the retail-guru who sent along this article today. This is such an important concept for the people of Africa. They don't need to be the "charitable cause" for the world because they are such poor, underpriviliged people. Instead, they need recognition for their ancient land, filled with beautiful people, proud traditions and much to share with the rest of the world. The best way to recognize this is to make an investment in their country to help them to help themselves.

"Give a man a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish---and you feed him for a lifetime." Chinese Proverb

Expecting the Unexpected

I went to dig this story up for a friend today and it got me thinking--a time-consuming thing even before I decide to write it down, because as H and Baby T come closer to joining the ark forever; it seems too important to forget.

One common theme that seems to cross adoptive parents paths, particularly before their child or children are home, are questions about the unknowns.
  • Do you have any idea what happened to the parents?
  • Do you think the children are "normal"?
  • Do you think they'll have difficulty in school?
  • Do you think they'll fit in with the family?
  • Do you think...fill in the blank with any potential question?

And while these questions are ones that are worth asking when considering adoption; the author of this article this article, Melissa Wiley, points out that there are no guarantees with children-any children. Even those whom we carry for 9 (or so!) months before giving birth. And even for those children born healthy, there are no guarantees for the future.

It is truly a gift, given freely by God, to parent a child, unexpected gifts and all.


Follow this link to "Make Your Own E-Card". Using worship songs and lullabies gently sung by such artists as: Nichole Nordeman, Bethany Dillon, Christy Nockels, Erin O'Donnell, and Janna Long you can upload your own child's picture, choose a song, compose a message and send it to your friends and familly! To listen to clips of the songs available click here.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


After hearing about this idea from another family in our couples' bible study, we decided to add an element to our bedtime prayers. We have each person, starting with the youngest, tell something for which he or she is thankful that day. Last night's prayers concluded like this:

The boy: Okay, dad, it's your turn.

Dad: I am thankful for...Mom.

The boy: Huh, couldn't think of anything tonight, could you, Dad?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The definition of

departure is:
Singular departure
Plural departures

synonym leaving
antonym arriving
departure (plural departures)
the act of departing or something that has departed

and we have just received Baby T's departure report!!! which sure sounds to me like he'll be departing soon!!!

AND since the opposite of departure is arrival. I'd say an arrival is in order on our end!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

October is...


For those who didn't know, part of our original motivation to adopt was to be able to put action behind our pro-life talk and beliefs. So, I thought it fitting to include the celebration of respect life month in our adoption chronicle.

I just commented to my friend, D, today how as we have gone through the adoption process, we never cease to be amazed at the people we meet along the way. Sometimes, they are the people who make news stories, magazine articles, or at the very least, are of note in some small community grapevine. Sometimes their good goes even unnoticed. But why is it newsworthy? Praise anyone in one of those stories and you will find yourself face to face with the epitome of humility. People don't take on these *challenges* to make news. They do it to answer a deep calling that God has put on their hearts---which in today's world, makes news.

The people who adopt 4 African-American boys; or who choose to proceed with a pregnancy when the possibility of an "imperfect" (and who among us is perfect?) child exists; or who grieve the loss of a child through miscarriage--but with grace are able to comfort others in knowing that their child's life, however brief, gave much glory to God; or even the family that elects to move an aging parent in with them, however inconvenient, knowing that God gives us a finite number of days here on earth with our loved ones and not wanting to miss out; or the couple who longs for a child but still rejoices in the birth of a friend or family member's baby-even when it hurts; or the family who after adopting 18 children (yes, I said eighteen) decides to adopt another set of four siblings; or the family who makes a choice to adopt a child who has known medical issues--the list goes on and on. Just when we think it isn't possible to see something more glorious---we do. God is good. And he has put His goodness on the hearts of so many people who cross our paths in both big ways and small. It reminds us, with each of these stories as witness, of the inherent dignity and worth of the human person---whether the only child of a wealthy suburban couple in the USA or the 7th son of poor farmers in a third world country. Both have value, both have worth in God's eyes---and in ours.

Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate. Ps 127:3-5 (NAS)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Maybe no news would be better

So, in addition to receiving our court date today. We were sent an update for Baby T! How exciting to open the email and see that he really has grown---from 4.9kg to 7.6kg in just 4 months time. Unfortunately, at the end of our update we found that he had been sick with: vomiting, coughing, rapid breathing and an ear infection all which cleared up with antibiotics only to be replaced with----CHICKEN POX!

Yes, our dear baby has chicken pox. We had heard it was going around the orphanage, but hadn't received news about our children specifically until today. There are not words to describe how sad it feels to know that he is so sick and so far away without us there to comfort him. Oh, I know he's under great care and supervision in the orphanage, but is there any substitute for mom when you feel sick? I don't think so.

Even C, when she saw the picture of Baby T, pock-marked and all, remarked,

"Oh momma, I just want to hold him."

"I know," I replied, "You'll hold him soon."

And then, typical of a 3 year old, she demanded, "NO, momma, I want to hold him NOW."

I think I hear my inner 3 year old calling.
This just in...

Our court date has been assigned! Here is the official word from our agency:

I had thought I'd be able to share this news earlier but it just came in. Group A has a
court date of October 16th. Gail will inform us of travel dates as soon as the case have
passed the court.

So, it looks like there is still a *chance* that we will get to travel before Thanksgiving! One date down, two more (embassy and travel) to go!

Congratulations to all the other Group A families and to the newly formed Group B!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The international language

of soccer. Seems just about all my kids speak it. They must be getting tutored on the sly by their Auntie Lizardo because they certainly aren't picking up on any of my great soccer skills. We know that soccer is BIG at Layla House and are excited to see H and B get to play on a team together. Here are a couple of pictures from this Saturday's game:

B, and her friend, T-awesome players for the Hurricanes!

Live action shot! B playing a strong offense!

Future Hurricane player!

More farm photos
He did it!


How's this one?

Trip to the farm

We were on the go on Friday. After P served 8 am Mass, we stopped at the coffeeshop for breakfast, went to the library for C and N's "Toddler Art" class and then headed out to HoneyHill Farm to pick apples. It was a beautiful day and we were able to spend some time on the farm with Grandma K and her 4 youngest kids and one of our cousins. We came home with nearly 25 lbs of apples and a dozen apple cider donuts---yum!

Below are a few photos from the day:

P, B, C, N and I after the picking was through.

Grandma K and the kids!

N and Auntie E!

Good news?

Well, if no news really is good news, then we're just chock full of good news this week. We've heard nothing about a court date, nothing about an embassy date and, therefore, nothing about a travel date.

So in the spirit of good news being no news, let's hope we get some bad news around here soon. I mean if the opposite of good news/no news = bad news/any news...Anyway, here are a couple of photos: one is of our sleeping boy and one of his sister (in the pink shirt).

Asleep in the stripes-look how BIG he's getting!

I know she's shy, but this is the only picture of 317 (taken by another traveling family-thanks!) that we could catch a glimpse of her sweet face.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Book Review

Although not specific to Ethiopia, this is a beautiful story that we found at the library while looking for apple-themed books to prepare for our apple-picking trip tomorrow.
The story One Green Apple, by Eve Bunting, details the class trip to an apple orchard for a group of grade school students. Farah, the main character, is new to the class and to America as well. She shares her thoughts and feelings about being different, feeling alone and fitting in--in a land so different from her own.
The illustrations, by Ted Lewin, are beautiful and convey the emotions felt by the characters. I would definitely recommend it as a wonderful read-aloud for younger children, particularly those who may have felt (and who among us hasn't?) like they didn't fit in with a group.
Another excellent review can be read here.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Hum along if you must, but Madonna's latest "project" smacks of effort in the continuing saga of celebrity causes and less about genuine concern for the citizens of Malawi and the "suitable candidate" she is planning to adopt.
Now Madonna may not have consulted me before beginning her dossier and DCFS background checks, but she has always seemed in favor of the right to free speech so I believe she would encourage, or even applaud, my voicing my opinion on this matter.
Certainly, not all celebrity causes are a cause for alarm. Some celebrity actions have prompted massive social change and opened doors for people in places where all hope seemed lost. That is not my thought. My thought is should the children of Malawi...Africa...or anywhere for that matter be auctioned off to the highest bidder with "plans to exempt" parents of standard governmental rules? I don't think so.
Has Madonna shown herself to be so strongly committed to the cause of life that she is willing to go the distance? To even go through all the red tape that an international adoption requires, in addition to coughing up a ton of cash (which international adoption also requires), to not take (or expect) any short cuts because of her celebrity status (an oxymoron at its best).
Will the people of Malawi and the "suitable candidate" be well served by Madonna? Only time will tell.
But I will be concerned if her next CD release contains the remix "Justify My Self-Serving African Adoption Love".

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Our children have always had chores. Ask them. They'll tell you, I'm certain of it. They'll probably even see if you have any pull with changing their chores for better (or at least different ones). This is a constant battle cry on the ark.

You see, each one of our children, from tall to small, has at least one if not two small jobs to do during the day. Now, they'll try to convince you that we require stable mucking, toilet scouring and spit-polishing of our shoes. I can assure you, we are much more reasonable than that; yet they still look for everyway possible out of the task at hand.

This has become even moreso as we have already integrated the (on current leave of absence workers-H and Baby T). We had talked to many adoptive families who said, even if it is stacking forks in OCD like fashion and full of minutia, give your newly adopted children a JOB. For to them it is much more than a job, it is a place in their new world-a comforting routine-a cherished family position:

"Well, hello there, and who might you be?"

"Me. Why I'm the A-number-1 cat water replenishment kid! And have you met my sister, the sock sorter?"

And everyone smiles and recognizes their importance on the team. And this is a great concept, don't get me wrong, but with two players out of commission right now, guess who is pinch hitting for them? Yup. Mom and Dad.

But to minimize dissent, we created some guidelines:

1. Thou shalt take one card, no more than zero, but less than two each Sunday.
2. Thou shalt perform the chores on the card every day. Sadly this needed to be a commandment.
3. Thou shalt not switch cards with anyone with out prior approval (not our approval, from the switchee!)
4. Thou shalt perform the chores cheerfully and without grumbling. I mean don't we ALL love to eat from
clean dishes? I thought so.
5. Thou shalt not earmark, deface, destroy or in any other way mark up a particular card that you don't want
to have or conversely that you always want to have.

So after all our commandments about the chore cards (each child gets a new card on Sunday night, there are three "older kid" cards and three "younger kid" cards) I'm finding myself stuck.

This is the second week in a row that H (so by default, my husband and I) have drawn the dishwasher card. Since this is a fairly new system, where we switch each week; and in the past the Boy has held the dishwasher card for many years-only recently passing it to his younger sister I find myself staring at the dirty dishes in my sink and politely calling, "WHO has the dishwasher this week?" Only to be met with the smiling faces of the non-dishwasher card holders saying, equally as politely, "That's all you, Mom." Then I remember my card and pitifully begin to empty the dishwasher. But while I'm standing at the sink, rinsing and loading the dirty dishes, a plan starts to form in my mind. And I'm wondering where on the dishwasher card I could make just a small, barely even noticable mark...they'd never know, right?
The Third Trimester

I can't be certain, but it sure feels like it:

Tiredness---over what seems like endless waiting for the baby (and his big sister!) to arrive!

Aches and Pains---in our hearts for them to leave the orphanage and join our family.

Anxiety---over impending dates, travel, vaccinations, adjustments, the list goes on and on.

Excitement---over decorating a baby BOY nursery (farm themed, in case you were wondering)
and adding another girl to join the rank of sister here on the ark.

Shortness of Breath---in thinking about the new personalities, new faces and new possibilities.

Braxton-Hicks Contractions---is that phone call our court date? the email an embassy date? could the
package from the agency contain orders to travel? They feel like they
might be, but when we check ---nope, not time yet.

But, when all is said and done, babies DO eventually make their grand entrance onto the scene and the stresses of the third trimester are overshadowed by the joy of those new lives!

Now, if I only knew our due date!