Wednesday, December 21, 2011


ImageChef Word Mosaic -

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!'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

Suicide Hits Home

I need to talk about something that's been hurting my heart for a long time. There may be no eloquence in this post; it may not even flow real well, but my emotions are raw. Yesterday for the third time in the last month, a male student in our community chose to end his life. Three children (yes, high school kids are still just children) have commited suicide, and two of them my daughter knew. Exactly two years and 11 days ago, our family was rocked by suicide, so each time the news has come so close to home, we relive the pain, the questions, & the anger all over again.

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.

"People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel."

So what will your legacy be?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Oh, Christmas Tree!

We have a beautiful Christmas tree farm close by, so we head there every year for a wagon ride, cookies, hot chocolate, &, oh yes, the Christmas tree.

Kam, providing the human barricade. Lots of holes from trees dug up, & Kendi was determined to wipe out in one. The girl in the background is one of Kam's friends that came along to witness the silliness enjoy the fun. ;)

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!

However, this was not the only time Daddy could be seen taking MORE pictures with his phone.

Mommy's punkin...Gosh, last year she was snuggled up in the Ergo for our Christmas tree outing. Now, she's much too busy to be held for long!

Evidently, we spotted one?

I think we hiked all through this group of trees. You have to look at every one, right?

Maybe Kaya doesn't think so.

Should you get tired of hunting for the perfect tree, the stumps make for a great place to make like the Karate Kid.

KiKi, the Karate Kid?? Jury's out on that one.

Normally, we go early in the day, but we ended up going right before they closed. Actually, we closed them down. I think this may have to be our new normal, because being there when the sun is setting was pretty sweet.

K'Tyo, always ready for the silly picture. And Kade is really not an angry child. No, he's one of the silliest ones, but his mission in life has become sporting the game face anytime the camera comes out. Isn't he just the cutest thing? About as cute as any preteen can be, I suppose. Stinker.

In the end, we left the field without cutting a tree & picked one that had already been cut earlier in the day. Our perception of the size of the trees is never real good out in the field, so we are notorious for getting a tree that has to have a foot cut off just to fit in the living room.

This one touches the ceiling, but even better than being as tall as possible, it's FAT! I have always loved nice, wide trees. Poor Joe. They tend to be a little ornery when it comes to getting them straight. It only almost fell over on him once while Kyler & I stood back to see if it was straight.

Somehow when it came time to decorate, Kaya & K'Tyo were the only ones game for helping. I never knew how many ornaments you could fit on the lower third of the tree.

Kendi finally decided she needed to check things out.

There are not many days that we get to do something with almost everyone together, but when we do, they are the best gift.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Why Do I Blog?

I've actually thought about this question quite a few times, even more over the last couple days. There's really no one answer. A friend encouraged me a few years back to start a blog b/c I have some experiences/testimonies to share. I have journaled for a long time, so this is a way for me to journal, too. It has also afforded me the opportunity to connect with others beyond those right next door to share experiences & learn a thing or two. In the back of my mind, though, I've always known there would come a day I would either make a mistake or tick somebody off with a personal decision.

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. 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" 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

Questions Answered

I've had 2 questions recently:

  1. Where have you been??

  2. 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.

The oldest girls helped with desserts, & Kaya was not about to be left out. This is "Pumpkin Dump Cake" & she was able to make it almost all by herself!

I did not have to look far to find reasons to be thankful!

Laughter is the best!!!

And there's really nothing better than sharing a plate of Doritos in your jammies!

What a motley crew!

I would have to say that the next picture is a truer representation of how we roll around here.

Very thankful for this family of mine! I will share some pictures from our outing for the Christmas tree soon!


As a side note, I am honored to have a post on Adeye's blog today. Her heart has been such an inspiration & encouragement to me!