Oh, yes, we did!!! I was getting ready to make the frosting so we could decorate the cut-out cookies last night. I turned on the computer in the kitchen for some Christmas music, & decided to check my email real quick. Not much shocks me, but I let out a yell...poor Joe thought I had hurt myself! We only waited 36 days...that's about half of the current average. I did not even have any of the necessary paperwork for this step ready, & any of you that know me know that I'm all about having the paperwork ready! Yikes...it's been a busy day, but I'm on my way to send off the next round of papers. Feeling VERY thankful & excited to be taking this big step toward Kemeri coming home!
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
As I was reading posts on FB this morning, there's an outcry that the school administration needs to do something immediately! I'd like to make another suggestion. We all need to do something. While teachers & administrators are a wonderful support, the responsibility cannot be solely theirs to bring about change.
We've quickly become a society that shifts the blame to the "higher ups". I believe the change needs to begin with you and me. I do not know the reasons behind why these boys decided that death was less painful than life, but you don't have to look far to have a few ideas.
Before I go any further, understand something. I have never been nor will I ever be a perfect parent. I have made mistakes, & so have my children. But one thing we talk about time & again in our home is how we treat other people. Unfortunately, this no longer seems to be the norm. The hallways of schools, from elementary on up, have become a cut throat environment of competitiveness between our young people. Sit at ANY athletic contest & you can hear grown adults bad mouthing children. There is little tolerance for anyone that does not meet the accepted level of "cool" or the expectations of onlookers. Many of our youth have resorted to proving their worth through the degrading of others through straight out hateful words. Sticks & stones nothing...words hurt & tend to embed themselves into the heart & mind of a child, festering into a twisted reality they begin to perceive as truth.
And it begins at home.
We no longer teach humility; we teach being the best. We no longer teach serving others; we teach entitlement. We no longer teach encouragement; we teach that everyone is our competition. We no longer teach compassion & empathy; we teach judgement.
And thus we have created an environment for ourselves & our children of no love, no tolerance, no acceptance...NO HOPE.
So you might be thinking, "Well, yeah, maybe there's a bit of that going on, but not every person that commits suicide is feeling bullied. Some are mentally ill." Speaking of no tolerance...
Let's face it. There's a HUGE stigma with mental illness. We have not created an environment where people feel safe in saying, "I think I might have a problem. These thoughts are overtaking my every moment. I can't fight them. I'm scared. I need help." Please. It makes people uncomfortable. If someone becomes physically ill, we rally around them; if someone is mentally ill, we don't want to know. We'd prefer they'd just pull themselves up by the bootstraps & fake it til they make it.
What if we became communities of people that fostered an atmosphere of tolerance? What if we instilled in our children humble, empathic hearts that looked to encourage one another? What if people felt safe enough to share their hurts & vulnerabilities? What if we were a people willing to climb in the ditch to help bring someone out?
I'm not trying to be simplistic or naive. Life is hard, but must we be contributors to it or always look for "the administration" to fix it? No. I think we need to take responsibility for how we're raising our children, how we're treating the people we come across every single day, & what our attitudes are towards those who don't seem to be just like us.
So what will your legacy be?
Monday, December 12, 2011
This pretty much sums it up. Kyler pointing one way, Joe pointing another. This might have been the only time everyone was headed in the same direction!
Friday, December 9, 2011
Little did I know I'd manage to do both all at once. If you've taken time to ever read my profile, it states, "It's an imperfect world, I'm an imperfect person..." Case in point: In the last several days, I have had quite a few comments on my blog. Unfortunately, one of those comments was innappropriate in content, & I missed it. Flat.out.missed.it. For that, I am very sorry and am glad that it was brought to my attention so that I could remove it.
I completely understood this person's anger at such a thing, but evidently, our choice to rename our son was equally disturbing to her, or actually, I believe the word was "disgusted". On that, we will have to agree to disagree, but I do hope you might hear my heart on this. We did not make this decision on a whim or based on satisfying some self-centered need. Just as things like circumcision are constantly hot topics, there really is no rule book with a right or wrong answer. Everyone tends to have a passionate opinion, but in the end, it's a personal decision. We know some that kept their child's given name in full; we know others that changed it completely, with no trace of anything from the original. After reading (& reading, & reading) articles, forums & anything else we came across about renaming an adopted child, we really felt "damned if you do; damned it you don't." If we had not given him a "K" name like his siblings, we could have been judged for making him feel left out. In the end, we tried to give him both. Through translators, both in Ethiopia & here, we were able to communicate about these possibilities, & in the end, he liked K'Tyo. And, no, I did not try to persuade him. Pa-leeeze....anyone that has hit the teen stage knows that if you try to make your kids' decisions for them knows that it will come back to bite you in the butt with, "But you made me..." Nope, not interested in goin' there.
But here's the thing. I followed your link & did a little reading. I think maybe you think you already know me. That maybe I'm full of "unicorn farts & rainbows as I'm out in the world "saving" children" by giving them the awesome opportunity to be adopted by me. Umm, no. I have written some posts about the journeys to our children b/c I am amazed that out of this whole big world, I get to know them, love them, & be part of their lives.
Here's the other side of the coin. In a perfect world, there would be no need for adoption. Children would be able to remain with their parents, & parents would be able to care for their children. Our outlook on adoption has never been & never will be to "save" a child, nor has it ever been a "Plan B". We don't believe in finding children for families, but families for children that are in need of one. I'm not looking for a child to fill some need in me to feel like I'm saving the world or to gain attention. If I wanted attention, I'd do something way easier. Parenting is hard; parenting children that will always have the pain of a missing piece is harder. Still too fluffy? Here's a few other things you don't know: You don't know that I held my little girl's mother in my arms time & again when no one else thought her "worthy" of anything, let alone respect & kindness. You don't know that at her request, I sat in on visits to make them easier on her. Many asked me "why?"..."Why would you make it easy for her? Why not let her get completely frustrated so she would just quit coming to visits?" Why? Because it was the right thing to do, and because I honor the fact that she is her mother, beyond the circumstances that prevented her from being able to function on a daily basis as such. You don't know that even though this was a termination of rights situation, I still choose to maintain contact with the family because it was never my hope that they would not be able to care for their daughter/niece/granddaughter so that I could adopt her & never look back. The goal of foster care is never adoption; that is the last resort.
You don't know that I desperately wanted to meet anyone from K'Tyo's extended family so that I could look them in the eye & promise to do my best on their behalf. You don't know that I have spent his two birthdays in our family overwhelmed with grief b/c I wonder if his mother died worrying for her son. I wonder if she ever got to see a birthday. As a mother, it makes my gut ache to think of leaving this earth & missing the chance to see my child grow up, let alone know if they would even be cared for. It sucks.
You don't know that I spent a long time with Kendi's mother on the phone when she was in the hospital, reiterating that I wanted her to make the decision that was best for HER...she owed us NOTHING. You don't know that I did not ask her for permission to go to the hospital because I did not want her to feel any pressure. You don't know that when she wanted to take the baby home for a few days that I supported her when nobody else would. Not only that, I continued to encourage her & tell her to NOT base her decision on us. This wasn't about us. Not for a minute. You don't know that I left all communication during that week up to her to ensure she did not feel any pressure from us because I did not want in any way to influence her decision. You don't know that I long for continued communication with her as Kendi grows up. You don't know that I think of her every single day.
Adoption is messy & originates from loss. Originally, I was going to respond to you in a private email, but I realized that I may have other readers that were offended or that can offer the perspective of an adult adoptee. Quite frankly, I need you. Our oldest 2 daughters were adopted by my husband, & we got it wrong more than we got it right. I did not have the luxury of the worldwide web in those days for information or any BTDT people. I need the perspective of adult adoptees because I want to navigate this road with our adopted children in a way that keeps their needs & feelings in the light. I'm gonna make mistakes, but I want to learn. There's a lot I don't know, & there's a whole lot I can't understand because I haven't lived it. I mean, I don't know if it's right to say birth parent/family, first parent/family, natural parent/family... What is appropriate? I don't feel right celebrating "Gotcha days"...is that wrong? These are just a couple examples of many things I want to know from your perspective.
I don't need you to agree with every decision I make. I don't even need you to like me. But at least know that you don't really know me. You know bits & pieces that I choose to share & you might choose to judge personal decisions or judge me for my faith. That's your perogative, but here's one thing you can know for sure--My intentions are not to hurt my child by changing his name or be ignorant to the needs of any of my children, including those that have been adopted into our family. I love them fiercely, like lay down my life for them fiercely, but I am fully aware that all the love in the world won't erase the wound of loss. I will continue to give my all, & I welcome the opportunity to connect with & hear from those that know intimately the position of adoptee so that when "my all" falls short, I might learn in order to serve the needs of my children well.
Monday, December 5, 2011
- Where have you been??
- A new blog friend (Hi, Ruth!) read about our youngest girls' names & wondered about K'Tyo's name...where it comes from, how you say it, & what it means. I couldn't believe I had never blogged about it, but looking back, I can't find a post about it anywhere! I am blaming jet lag after we came home with him for my oversight. :o)
Ok, answer to first question: Trying to keep my head above water! If you've been reading my blog, you know that the hubs is pursuing his doctoral degree. Well, this past Saturday was a big day as the first of 3 major events in this program is now under his belt. Since beginning the program almost 2 years ago, he has been working on a mentorship project, which was presented to an audience of peers, colleagues, & professors. Also necessary was the completion of a ginormous binder (we're talking 6 inches, people) of supporting documents, a 5-page executive summary, a 20+ page integration paper, complete with research & citations, & a power point. Makes me tired just typing such things. The blessing has been that Daddy has modeled hard work & determination to give his best, & it turned into quite the family affair. Kaelee & Kearsten were such a blessing with proofreading, Kam helped retrieve the lost power point (don't ask), Kyler & Kade were rock stars with the littles on a few occasions when needed. And the littles were full of hugs & kisses, which are a wonderful remedy to weariness.
Throw in the start to Kam's basketball season, & you've got the makings for a few weeks of CRAZY! But, we press on. I'm proud of Joe for working so hard. He is a humble man, & not much interested in throwing around titles, but we know God has put a mission in his heart to help people work with wounded children, so this is a necessary step in lending credibility to his work. Not gonna lie, though, when Saturday was over, there was a huge sense of relief & we are very much looking forward to the break!
Now, about K'Tyo's name . . .K'Tyo's name is pronounced /k/ tie-yo. Honestly, we weren't sure what we were doing about his name before leaving for Ethiopia. For us, it was hard because he was 4 years old at the time, & obviously had quite the personality. All of our children's names begin with a "K", so we wanted to incorporate that somehow (how we got going on K's is still a mystery). His Ethiopian name is Sintayehu, which means "much I have seen" (pretty intense, huh?). We love it's significant meaning, but knew in America it would be butchered. Shoot, it took us forever just to find out how it was being pronounced, & it seems it can be pronounced a couple of ways, but for our son, the end sounded like "Ty-o". Kade came up with the idea of putting a K on the front, & when we met him, suddenly it just worked. It just seemed to fit him, & he latched onto it right away. As a matter of fact, someone called him Sintayehu, & he quickly corrected them. I have no idea if he just liked K'Tyo, if he noticed that everyone else's name sounds the same at the beginning (he is a bit of a smarty pants, so I wouldn't doubt this), or what. As for his middle name, when adopting from Ethiopia & they issue their official papers, they automatically use their Ethiopian name first & then give them the adoptive father's first name as the middle name. I'm not sure how it works for the girls, but that's what happens with the boys. We decided that K'Tyo Joseph had a nice ring to it. Kam happens to be named after Daddy (Kameryn Jo), but she said she didn't mind at all, & it seemed almost fitting that they would share a similar middle name since she is the sibling that traveled to Ethiopia with me to bring him home. So there you have it...great question! Thanks for asking!!
And now, a few pictures from Thanksgiving since I have not posted a thing about it! We had a wonderful day. At the request of the older kiddos, we had Thanksgiving at home this year, & it was a great success. Loved enjoying the day with my husband & children, though we did miss extended family.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
We are very proud of her. Daddy was sad to be out of state & unable to attend.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Such is the case now. I'd love to tell you that this journey has been full of warm fuzzies. It hasn't. This journey has challenged us in many new ways. However, as I look back at each testimony to each of our children, I can see how God has been preparing us...in faith, in surrender, in our family/marriage, in trust, & in OBEDIENCE. In each journey, He took away our preconceived notions of what WE thought we could handle (be it needs or circumstances surrounding situations), & replaced them with our children. And that's what this journey finally came down to. Why would we not trust the Lord in what He's putting on our hearts? He has been faithful; He has blessed this family beyond words. This life is not always easy (ha, just read my Reality Post), but it has brought me to a place of knowing what true joy is.
Yes, I have had doubtful, fear-filled moments where I grow weary & lose heart. "Lord, life is so crazy right now with Joe in the midst of his doctoral work." "Lord, we are essentially artificially twinning these babies." "Lord, how will I manage traveling to China & leaving Kendi behind...she's still a baby?" "Lord, the money?" "Lord, what if my arms aren't big enough?" "Lord, "things" are so good in our family...what if she doesn't like us?" "Lord, what if....?" One day in my worries & questions, a question came right back at me. "Dardi, what if you weren't going to bring her home?" That feeling of grief that I had when we initially let her file go washed over me all over again. So, when those negative thoughts threaten me, I go back. I go back to what I KNOW (see previous testimonies), I go back to that horrible feeling of loss, & I go back to the TRUTH. God does not choose the equipped; He equips the chosen. This is an entry from my written journal in June:
Monday, November 14, 2011
Well, I guess since I was dismissing the nudges, God pulled out some bigger guns. I have enjoyed reading blogs over the last few years b/c I find much encouragement, & it helps me feel connected with others that are traveling similar roads. I especially enjoyed them as Kendi was tiny b/c I wasn't getting out in the winter too much & there's not much I care to watch on t.v. Anyway, suddenly it seemed everywhere I turned, every thing I read, kept putting China SN adoptions in front of my face. Only once did we even glance in the way of adopting from China many years ago after attending a Steven Curtis Chapman concert, but after seeing the requirements & financial aspect, we never glanced that way again b/c we didn't qualify. However, that was years ago when the non-special needs adoptions were at their height, & also when we had never seriously prayed about adoption or felt that "nudge".
Honestly, I was quite perplexed. I came up with every reason under the sun (including the fact that my husband said we were D.O.N.E.) & would go to bed resolved not to give it another thought. And then I would wake up in the morning consumed all over again. Before I knew it, I was a member of a yahoo group that advocates for waiting children, & I would scour that site daily learning about the process, following links that would take me to sites so I could research special needs, & looking at picture after picture of children who wait. And each day my heart was being broken more for these children. Beautiful, innocent, waiting children.
Finally one afternoon, I TEXTED (yes, for real) my husband & said, "What do you think about adopting from China?". People, I got nothin' but silence for 3 HOURS. I just couldn't take it anymore, so I casually (ha) called him to see how his day was going, if he got my text....If I'm being *really* honest, I was kind of looking for the "no" from him so I could just put this whole business to rest once & for all. Yes, he had gotten my text, so I said, "Well, I guess the 3 hours of silence is a 'no' then." He said, "It's not an anything...I've been praying about it." Oh. Have I ever mentioned that I really love this husband of mine?
We decided it was best to continue praying, & he also had a lot of questions. He was under the impression that there was a very long wait b/c he had only heard of the NSN route. He had not heard of the SN program. We also started talking about what special needs we felt we could handle (it was a nice thought, you know, to DECIDE what WE could handle...wouldn't you think by now I would know better? More on this in a bit). After some time, we also felt like we were supposed to "find" our child & not wait for a match. I should have put two and two together when we felt so convicted of this that God had something in mind outside of OUR parameters.
We began looking at some files of children, mostly around Kaya's age, thinking that age may be
I'd love to tell you that we got her file & just jumped right in without another thought. We did get her file, even put it on hold while we had it reviewed by our pediatrician who was having it reviewed by a specialist, & then we got scared & decided not to move forward. I still remember the day we made that decision. I was sitting at the kitchen table while Joe was doing something in the kitchen, & as I typed the email to let the agency know our decision, I cried a horrible, grieving cry. Mind you, we had reviewed other files, but I had not fallen apart like this before.
Over the next several weeks, we reviewed a couple more files & I kept watching for the little one we walked away from to find her way back to the waiting child photolisting (her picture had been taken down when we had locked her file). When it never reappeared, I assumed that someone else had been waiting to see her file & had committed to bringing her home, but I thought of her every day. Then it seemed to become a complete preoccupation...she was on my mind all the time. On the Friday of Memorial weekend, I couldn't help myself. I emailed the coordinator at the agency to see if "Jill's" family had found her. Within an hour she emailed back to tell me that, no, she was still waiting. Upon reading those words, I got the worst case of butterflies ever. What was going on?
After we had released the file, we had discovered an international adoption specialist that reviews files by email. I told Joe what I had done (ok, I texted him again...I'm a goober, but he was at work & I wasn't sure what he would make of any emotional ramblings that I would try to put together to explain), & he agreed that we should send her file to be reviewed so we could at least have a better understanding of this little girl's potential needs. Being that it was a holiday weekend, I thought it might be the next Tuesday before we would hear anything. Umm, no, the doctor called us at 10:00 that night! By the
The phone call from the specialist did not make her needs go away. She is still missing her fingers, & she still has spina bifida. However, we felt we had a better understanding. But even more important, we know that we know that we know that God has woven this child into our hearts. She was no longer a file of a child with a diagnosis...she became our daughter.
Friday, November 11, 2011
**I still have a Part 4 that I am working on, but I have been up to my eyeballs in stuff, & I do believe I am now going to use my dear blog friends to decompress from said stuff!**
Every once in awhile when someone finds out the size of our family, we get the ever-so-cute, "Are you going to have your own reality TV show?"
I am fairly certain that my reality is not TV worthy.
However, it is reality. And today has been one of THOSE days.
First of all, our garage has been full of stuff we need to sell. Yes, I realize it is almost the middle of November. That's why I realized it is really now or never. So in a brilliant move on my part, I scheduled an ad to run in the paper, beginning today, for the sale tomorrow. I figured a deadline would be a good thing. Would have been a great plan except that I forgot that this weekend I am flying solo. Joe left this morning. Dude.
I tried to get some things done today, but not an easy task with a one-year old, mobile child that should have a hurricane named after her. Then, I had Kade's yearly physical on the books. But I can do this. When it was just about time to leave to pick Kade up from school, I came downstairs to find Kaya half undressed, watching TV. Ugh. We were only 5 minutes late to the doctor.
Deep breath. We can do this. Except that while trying to get the kitchen cleaned up so I can cook dinner, the drain in the sink backs up. This never happens. There is now a plunger in my sink.
On to dinner. Breakfast for dinner is a treat, so on the menu was a breakfast casserole & homemade blueberry muffins. I was feeling pretty happy with myself for not getting the cheap muffin mix.
Somehow, I managed to burn those suckers but good. Should have just gotten the cheapy muffin mix.
And this? I am pretty confident no one would find the view of my laundry room entertaining. Well, the random Santa hat in the mix might bring a snicker. Oh, & this is nothing. I'm guessing there's another 3 loads on the floor in the kids' bathroom, & there's 5 loads waiting to be folded in my bedroom. No pictures of that. I do have some personal pride.
And for the finale, we have the garage sale. I've been out there since putting Kendi to bed, freezing my bumpkin off, only to find that the pricing stickers will not stick b/c it's too cold. Of course, it is the middle of November. That must be why there aren't many other garage sale ads competing with mine. Note to self: All those folks that had garage sales in the summer were onto something.
So, what do you think? TV worthy? I didn't think so. I'm just hoping for a better episode tomorrow. And lots of people who like being able to see their breath while they are looking for a bargain. And something hot containing caffeine. The end.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Monday, November 7, 2011
Now that we had gone back to babyhood, we were thoroughly enjoying it. So, we got in touch with an agency about adopting an infant transracially. I filled out the paperwork. But then it sat. Finally, Joe asked me what was up b/c this chick does not leave paperwork just sit. I remember something didn't feel right. I was carrying out my plan, but was it God's plan? We knew that we were to adopt again, but were we headed in the right direction?
I believe one of the first things I began learning with this adoption was how to listen. It's so easy to get going full steam ahead & forget who is supposed to be steering. Finally, I did that dreaded surrender thing...lol. And prayed.a.lot. God has definitely taken His time answering prayers along the way, but in this instance, I think He was waiting for me to ask, & didn't hesitate to answer (I sort of see Him going, "Finally...."). Within a few days, we were staring at a picture of K'Tyo on our computer screen. I remember Joe saying, "Can we actually get to him?" Some of our experiences had shown us that just because a child was on a photolisting didn't mean that you were going to be able to pursue them as your child. And, really? This was an international adoption situation. We didn't think we would EVER do anything internationally (do you see a pattern forming?). I mean, where do you begin with the paperwork? And the finances. Then there's travel. And the finances. There's little background information on this child. And the finances.
Was this "easy"? I don't know if that's the right word, but it was as if we were just being "swept" along...one thing led to another & then to another. We just kept getting affirmations that we were doing what we were supposed to, & everything kept falling into place, including the finances. There were definitely some emotional moments, but anything involving the heart is emotional. From beginning (we had NOTHING done for an international adoption) to K'Tyo coming home was slightly less than 7 months...crazy!
I learned much about the heart of God during this adoption. First, I became very aware of life outside my "comfort zone". God does not have the same dividing lines for this earth that we create. Ever heard, "We need to take care of 'our own'"? No. God calls us to love one another. Period. He doesn't say love those that look like you & live in your country. He says love one another....here, there, everywhere.
I also became very aware that God really does have the best for me, even when there were times it didn't seem like it. As we were waiting for a court date, there was a group of families that were all due together. Post after post starting coming in from these families on our yahoo group about receiving a court date, but I had heard nothing. When I saw a call coming in from our coordinator, I thought certainly it was about us having a court date, too. Instead, she was calling very apologetic b/c for some reason, our paperwork had been left behind. I was sad, but at least knew our paperwork was ok & should be in the next round of court dates. When I got the call about our court date, I cried...it was scheduled for my birthday. I thought that was just the best present ever! And then we didn't pass court. I'm not gonna lie...I was crushed. I felt like I had the rug pulled out from under me. It was my birthday, for goodness sake! It wasn't until a few weeks later when we would have been traveling that I realized God gave me the best present ever by NOT letting us pass court on my birthday. We would have been stuck in Europe in the midst of the ash cloud chaos. I know it was not an easy situation for anyone involved, but for us, it would have been devastating. Financially, we could not have handled being stuck out of country, but even more important, Joe would have been beside himself with worry b/c he stayed behind while Kameryn & I went. God was in the details, & I became very aware that my perspective is not His.
As I mentioned with Kaya, I learned much about finding strength & courage in the Lord. This journey brought to life, "With God, all things are possible." We learned about stepping outside the box of conformity to follow God's will for our family. We learned about stepping out of the boat to follow Him, even if that meant traveling over 8000 miles across the ocean to bring home a son. We have come to the realization that God desires for us to live our lives following Him...it's an adventure, & all we have to do is say "yes". Is it easy? No. Scary? Sometimes. Glamorous? No. Worth the blood, sweat, & tears? You better believe it!