Finding my delight in the journey of adoption.

Archive for December, 2012

Christmas 2012

I so wanted to post a Merry Christmas picture from us, but we can’t seem to ever remember to charge the camera battery.

We had a really nice Christmas with my family this past weekend filled with food, laughs, more food, some drama, and a home movie.  This year, since we were foregoing gifts, my sister and I suggested that we do something fun together instead.  I was thinking – go see a movie.  My dad decided – make our own movie.  Complete with scripts, props, and sets we acted out the movie It’s A Wonderful Life.  Yes, it’s recorded.  It will be hilarious in about 10 years.  For now, it’s slightly embarrassing.

We had a lot of fun doing it, and by the end, we threw out the scripts and were improvising scenes based on memory.  My dad hung up floodlights from the roof so that we could shoot scenes outside and hand-painted a grave for Harry Bailey.  We don’t mess around.

BB was a great sport after he was cast in the demanding role of George Bailey.  He was amazingly wonderful at impersonating Jimmy Stewart.  My mom gave an Oscar-winning performance as Ma Bailey, and my sister added some much needed sound effects.

The no gifts for Baby Bean rule turned out it’s fair share of drama on Christmas morning, but we came home relatively unscathed.

I’m not sad the holidays are over.  While we did our best to put on smiling faces, I think these were by far the hardest set of holidays we have ever experienced.  Three years ago I had a miscarriage a few weeks before Christmas, and while that was not fun, this was so much worse.  Earlier this year I swore I would boycott the holidays if I was still childless, and I sort of regret going back on my word.

The holidays are always rough because expectations are so high.  You are supposed to be happy!  It’s the hap happiest time of the year!  You’re not allowed to be sad.  If you are sad or grumpy, you ruin it for everyone.  You’re a grinch.

This year, I felt an extreme amount of pressure from everyone around me to be happy and excited about the baby.  To get over the sadness.  People are uncomfortable with continuing sadness and grief.  We don’t like those negative emotions.  Think positive.  Think positive.  A silver lining must be found.  As soon as this baby comes, all will be well.

Why are we so uncomfortable with these feelings of sadness, anger, grief, fear?  It can’t be because they are unfamiliar.  Everyone I know has something to grieve over.

The fact is that we are still grieving.  No disrespect to Baby Bean, but 2012 will always be about those three babies that we didn’t get to bring home.  This Christmas, for us, was a time of mourning.  We were supposed to be home with our family of 5.  There were three missing cousins at Thanksgiving, and there are empty stockings over our fireplace.

I know that people want us to be happy.  They want us to look forward, accept their gifts, talk about how fun it will be next Christmas, but we aren’t there yet.   And frankly, I don’t really want to be there.  I want it to be ok to be sad.  I want people to respect that our broken hearts are still in Congo.

People were upset with us this Christmas because we didn’t want gifts for Baby Bean.  I get it.  We are weird and not doing things in the way that everyone wants and expects.  I get that it’s annoying when people make weird choices that you don’t agree with – I spend most of my life bossing people around.

The fact of the matter is that I just donated the last items of clothing that we had for the kids.  We still have bunk beds up because I can’t quite give up the dream that there will be bodies to fill them someday.  The room isn’t decorated for a baby.  We still call it “the kids’ room.”  I just finally worked up the nerve to sort through the photos that my friend took down before we got back from DRC.

The tears are still flowing over here in 2012.  2013 may be different.  I can’t say for sure.  Does anyone ever really get over a broken heart?

BB memorized Rev. 21:1-4 this year.  I love it.  I could hear him recite it every day.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.  Come!


We’re still here

Well, the world didn’t end so I’m back to buying toilet paper in bulk.

BB, just in case, worked until midnight to make sure those last few things were finished!  Gotta love that spirit.  I went promptly to bed because it’s my favorite thing to do.  As I was going to bed, I told BB two things in case the world ended.  First, that I loved him dearly and enjoyed every minute of our life together and second, that I had no desire whatsoever to survive the end of the world so not to try and save me should the opportunity arise.  Seriously, I’ve seen the movies.  Who wants to survive that?  Do you honestly want to live in a world with no running water or electricity, eating beans out of a can and running from bands of crazed cannibals?  No thanks.  I’ll go out with the nuke please.

I did spend some time thinking about the end of the world as I was going to sleep.  I don’t get into the predictions, but I do believe that God wants us to live as if every day was our last.  I was thinking through my life and contemplating any unfinished business I may have. 

Ultimately, I fell asleep.  But in the middle of the night I awoke in the middle of a vivid dream about confronting our adoption agency.  Then I spent about 30 minutes going over the dream and coming up with more things I would say to them if given another opportunity.  Apparently this is my unfinished business. 

I think the latest obsession comes from some phone conversations with another mom about her families’ issues with One World and then also I’ve started organizing all the photos of the children to put in storage.  I am sad because I so want to be over it.  I desperately want to forgive and move on.  I don’t want this bitterness to take root.   At the same time, it’s necessary to stay in the fight.  I truly think God is uniquely using me to advocate for other families and children, to educate people and to encourage change.  I love it, and I’m grateful for the privilege.  But it’s hard to re-live the drama over and over again.

I ended up being able to sleep once I started praying.  I may not be able to quite reach forgiveness and freedom yet, but I can pray for it.  God has his work cut out in softening my heart.

While it would have been nice to wake up this morning in the presence of Jesus, the Lord has other plans.  There’s still work to be done and so we are still here.


Christmas Preparations

How is it possible to be hungry every minute of every day?

BB has just 1.5 days of work left for 2012, and I am so ready for him to be on vacation!  [I’m sure this sentence fills him with terror and worry that I have “plans” for him.  Don’t worry honey….just a few.] 

On Monday, Lord willing, I will technically be full-term in my pregnancy, meaning Baby Bean can come.  Baby Bean and I have agreed that he will stay put until January…at least until January 7.   We don’t need anymore surprises around this house.  Can one thing go as planned, please?  Just one thing!  Great, now I’ve certainly jinxed myself.

We are spending Christmas with my family.  I’m looking forward to baking all day on Sunday and then eating all day on Monday and Tuesday.  No gifts this year, but we have a special surprise project.  I’m sure I’ll have some good stories for you next week about how it goes.  

What am I baking?

For Christmas Eve dessert – Marbled Pumpkin Gingersnap Tart (Smitten Kitchen)

For Christmas morning – Blueberry Cornmeal Butter Cake (Smitten Kitchen) and Chocolate Coffee Cardomom Bread (http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/2012/12/04/chocolate-coffee-cardamom-bread-and-a-contest-giveaway)

Jealous?

I’ve been trying to make some plans for January so I don’t just sit on the couch wondering when Baby Bean will come for the entire month.  I’ve also been saving a few fun projects and just got a copy of Rachel Held Evans’ Year of Biblical Womanhood (http://www.amazon.com/Year-Biblical-Womanhood-Liberated-Covering/dp/1595553673/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1356033400&sr=8-1&keywords=year+of+biblical+womanhood), which I cannot wait to read!!!

We still have to decide Baby Bean’s name.  I have a feeling we will be discussing that in between contractions since we can’t seem to want to commit right now.  We are pretty aligned on a girl name, which can only mean that Baby Bean is a boy after all.

Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

 


The Evil in My Heart

I’ve had about 10 different types of blog posts in my head since last week’s shooting tragedy.  The internet has been on fire with everyone’s thoughts that part of me wants to stay out of it because so many beautiful and thought-provoking things have already been said.  What can I possibly add?  But on the other had, this is where I process, and since I can’t stop thinking about it.  I need to process. 

I have particular selfish reasons for hating when these things happen.  Immediately, my brain thinks about the horrible person who committed the crime, which then triggers in me a righteousness.  Who would do such a thing?  What kind of messed up person has such disregard for human life?

It only takes moments for the Holy Spirit to softly whisper (sometimes not so softly) the answer.  You. 

No, I don’t have any propensity to shoot up a school.  I don’t harbor murderous thoughts about innocent people.  But in my heart lies the same utter disregard for human life that lay in the killer’s heart.  I need look no further than my own apartment to see someone who couldn’t care less about dying children.

You see, I don’t pull the trigger, but I make the choices and turn my eye.  I cozily slink into my warm bed at night, stressing about what gourmet meal to make for dinner tomorrow night with nary a thought for the 25,000 people who will die of starvation today.  I step over a homeless veteran on my way to buy a $5 latte because it’s delicious.  I agonize over which designer diaper bag would go best with my wardrobe instead of spending $10 on a bed net that would actually save one of the children who will die every 60 seconds from malaria – a preventable and treatable disease.

It’s not guilt.  It’s conviction.  Guilt is worthless.  There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  It’s not my fault that evil exists in the world, but if I can do something to stop it, shouldn’t I?  Conviction moves us to action.  Knowing that my actions are wrong, repenting and trusting in the Holy Spirit to reform my ways makes real change.

You will say, cut yourself a break.  God wants you to enjoy life and have fun.  We can’t spend all our energy on serving others.  I’m not so sure.  Yes, there’s a time for celebrating, but haven’t I celebrated enough?  Haven’t I had 30 years of feasting? Didn’t my Year of Jubilee end many years ago? When is the time that I start to say no?  When will I truly begin to change my ways and live for Christ instead of myself?  What will it take?  How many more people will die while waiting?

If it’s real, then what do I have to lose?  If I worship a God who came as a man to save the world from sin, who raised people from the dead and calmed the sea, and it’s all true, what am I so afraid of?  If paradise waits for me, then why do I care so much about making this life paradise?  Kay Arthur tells a story of a Christian man in prison.  The prison was cold, but he had a blanket.  Another man, badly beaten, was placed in his cell, but he didn’t have a blanket.  The Christian man knew that without the blanket, the man would die (just as he would die if he gave it up).  The Holy Spirit spoke to him, saying that if he died, he would be with Jesus, while if the other man died, he would go to hell since he did not yet know Christ.  The Christian man gave up his blanket and died.  The other man survived and lived to tell the tale of his sacrifice. 

I am holding onto my blankets while people are dying because I want to live another day.  Not only do I just want to live, but I want to live in all the comfort that I possibly can.  Once I have it all, once I have everything I could possibly need, then maybe I will spare a blanket, but only if it’s easy.

I want to be Esther, saying If I perish, I perish. 

The truth is that I my heart is so much closer to Hitler’s, Bin Laden’s and Adam Lanza’s than it is to Christ’s.  It’s not even a contest. 

This is Christmas.  This is why Christ came as a baby in a manger.  To save me from my sin.  He knows my heart and knows that without him, I am doomed to death.  He came that I might have life and have it more abundantly.  He came to set me free from sin so that I can love others freely.  Through his birth, death and resurrection, I can have a new life that’s not marked by this evil.  Thank you Jesus for coming and saving me from myself. 

 

 


Unto Us a Child is Born

I finally figured it out.  Apparently I must have eaten some sort of small alien super-mouse, who is now grown to be about 6 pounds and is trying to claw his way out.  This makes a lot more sense than me being pregnant and explains a lot of what’s been going on.  I’ll let you know when he escapes.

Who’s ready for Christmas?  We watched National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation last week so I am.  Since we are going gift-free, this is basically a stress-free holiday full of lots of cookies and Christmas music.  Highly recommended.

Speaking of Christmas music, apparently BB was not actually born in this country or somehow grew up somewhere Christmas music is hated.  He’s supposed to sing Christmas music at an event on Saturday, and this morning he asked me to teach him the melody of the song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”  I am still flabbergasted.  Whoever is waging that War on Christmas must be quite proud of himself!

I’m looking forward to the holiday distraction myself.  Getting a little restless over here.  In some ways, I’m in the home stretch of meeting this little peanut and yet at the same time, it is still a far way away.  I need a deadline to work.  Not that I want him to come any sooner because we all know what happens when a baby comes – everything is awful.  There’s crying and pooping and crying and no sleeping.  Lord help me.  This baby better be darn cute.  I’m really counting on being able to keep my daily nap schedule and to watch The Wire.  Apparently this makes me mildly delusional.

Thus, I have started my “to do before baby” list, which so far includes:  hair cut, be extra nice to BB, pedicure, see Les Mis, clean apartment.  To be fair, clean apartment has been on every to do list I’ve ever made. 

I need a few good fiction books to read during this last push, so feel free to send me your recommendations.  I just returned “Lionheart” by Sharon Kay Penman to the library having only read 2/3 of it over the past month and a half.  I usually devour her books, but this one just didn’t capture my attention.  I have a number of non-fiction books on adoption, sex trafficking, the Holy Spirit, and marriage on my shelf, but none of those are drawing me in at the moment either.  I need fiction.  Yummy, colorful, fanciful fiction.

Leaving you with my Advent meditation verse for the day:

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince Of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his Kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with Judgment and with Justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Love that it’s “unto US.”  Jesus is God’s gift to us.

Also love that Jesus came to establish judgment and justice.  Feeling a real need for that in 2012.  I keep hearing more stories from other One World Adoption families about trials they are facing in their adoptions, and it just makes me so angry.  It’s so heart-breaking for the children and families.  God’s justice will be done, and I have to take comfort in that.  No one gets away with anything even if we don’t see the justice done.

Hope your holiday preparations are going well.

 

 

 


Adoption Agency Accountability

I’m still pondering what we’ve learned.  I’m dabbling in a few different online groups and reading lots of stories of adoption that involve ethical disasters.  How I wished I would have read (or paid attention) to these things years ago!  But, like many things in life, I often have to learn the hard way.

I feel for adoptive parents out there.  You have this strong calling on your heart, and you are answering it.  You hear Russell Moore and the Warrens speak so passionately, and you refuse to ignore it.  You see the beautiful pictures and hear the stories of abandoned orphans now being part of a family.  We all want that to be our story.  None of us got into this to traffic children or to coerce children away from their families.  There are easier, more fun ways to spend your time and money than adoption.

What can we do?  I think we must must must demand accountability from adoption agencies.  Just as I am reading more about demanding accountability from chocolate, clothing and coffee manufacturers to ensure they aren’t using slave labor, so we must do the same with adoption agencies to make sure their children are legitimate, legal orphans who actually need to be adopted.

The first thing we must realize is that international adoptions in America is a business.  These agencies are out to make money.  Yes, they may have chosen this industry because they want to help orphans, just as Steve Jobs started Apple probably in part because he just liked computers and technology.  At the end of the day, money is why we do business.  Most of us would not go to work if they stopped paying us even if we really liked what we did.

We cannot be naive and accept that these agencies are full of good-hearted people who can do no wrong.  They may be good-hearted, well-intentioned people, but sometimes those people can do the most harm because they lack a certain cynicism necessary to do business.  At One World Adoption Services, Inc., for example, the director and staff were nice.  They cared about the children and the families.  But unfortunately, they have blinders on when it comes to doing business in the DRC.  They trusted the wrong people and refused to see their mistakes (and still refuse).  Are they kind?  Yes.  Are they Christians?  Probably.  But that is not enough to operate an adoption agency.

Follow the money.  We live in a time where the term non-profit has basically become meaningless except for tax purposes, yet we all believe that if we are using a non-profit adoption agency, then we are in the clear.  Wrong.  So wrong.  The agency directors and staff are making money off of these adoptions.  How else could they afford to do business?  They might not be getting mega-millions, but they are bringing home a paycheck.

It’s time we demand to know what these agencies are charging for.  What’s a referral fee?  To me, that sounds an awful lot like paying for the agency to find you a referral.  We shouldn’t need to find referrals.  There are either kids in orphanages who need to be adopted, or there aren’t.  Agencies should not have an incentive to “find” a child to fit the profile so they can collect the fee.

Agencies must investigate referrals independently of their in-country staff.   This is a no brainer.  One World told us that they do not ever investigate or verify any information they receive from the DRC.  This is appalling.

Agencies must have a presence on the ground on a very regular basis.  How can you oversee something but never see it?  How do you hire staff you’ve never met?  One World refuses to travel to visit the orphanage or check up on things, even after a large-scale scandal.

These issues are not limited to One World or DRC.  I have connected with many other families who have struggled with ethical adoptions from other countries with other agencies.  We cannot afford to turn a blind eye.  That would be a disservice to the orphans and widows we desire to serve.

 


Happy Birthday BB!

Saturday was BB’s 35th birthday.  Unfortunately for him, I was up all night sick on Friday night, and sick and pregnant trumps birthday every time.  He says it was his favorite birthday ever because no one required him to do anything, there were no plans, and he got to do whatever he wanted [which was work and watch Parenthood].  So noted for next year.

In other good news, Christmas music and movies are fair game now that we are past the birthday.

Now that I am recovered, I can write my birthday blog post.  In honor of my sweetheart, here are 35 unique things that I love about him.

1.  See opening paragraph.  His birthday dream is for no one to talk to him so he can work all day.

2.  If given his way, he would eat all his meals over the sink in the kitchen without utensils or plates so as to avoid having to do dishes (or talk to anyone – see no. 1, no talking is a big thing for him).

3.  He packs his lunch (and often dinner) every day of the week.

4.  He needs to eat at least one serving of peanut butter a day (preferably more).

5.  He has the will power of a Navy Seal.  I don’t think he cheated once in seven months of fasting and would have kept going if I had let him.

6.  Sweets are not his thing.  He will eat one bite of an ice cream sandwich and then out it back into the freezer.  Thus, it will take him two weeks to eat one ice cream sandwich.  He will often look for something I baked weeks later and be shocked that there is nothing left.

7.  He rides his bike to work.  I find that adorable.

8.  He ran the Chicago marathon in tiny hot pink shorts so that it would be easy for me to find him.

9.  The first CD he ever bought was Lionel Richie’s “Hello” because he had a crush on a girl, and the song Hello made him think of her.

10.  He’s still basically only wearing seven items of clothing and hasn’t purchased a single thing for himself since the fast began in February.

11.  He’s ridiculously smart, but he hates to read.

12.  When he works from home, he wants me to sit next to him (but not talk, obviously).

13.  Two years ago he led a week-long VBS at our church as the lead singer of a New Zealand rock band (we were into Flight of the Concords that year) complete with accent, and there are still people at church who think that he is from New Zealand (or England – people aren’t great with identifying accents).

14.  When we went on our first date, BB said we needed to discuss two things before we went any further as a couple – first, I would have to take his last name should we marry, and second, I would need to be ok with our nine year old son spending two weeks at summer camp in Maine.  I agreed to both since I liked the idea of having a new name and wasn’t particularly attached to our fictitious kids at the time.  [Luckily I don’t have to worry about the camp thing any more since there’s no way BB would spend that kind of money on camp now even if we ever had it!]

15.  Also when we were dating, BB’s friend Steve (the Prophet, as we call him) prophesied that I would break his heart.  BB was quite distraught and got him to change the prophesy to “break his heart or marry him.”  Both have come true.

16.  When going on vacation, especially international trips, BB refuses to make any reservations for lodging until the last possible moment (i.e., we are tired and need somewhere to sleep).  He really does not like to commit to reservations for anything.  This has made for some fun times, to be sure.

17.  Oh my.  Only halfway through.  This was sort of a big goal, eh?  It took BB three months to read the first Harry Potter book because “he just couldn’t get into it.”  What is wrong with him??

18.  BB has an opinion about everything.  Seriously.  The words “whatever, I don’t care” have never come past his lips.  Seriously, ask him about clothes, shoes, furniture, work, church, food, surprise parties, pets, child-rearing, breastfeeding, weddings, hair length, coming of age movies.  He has a formed opinion about anything you can think of!  It’s frustratingly charming.

19.  BB lives a charmed life.  He can leave late and arrive on time.  He can miss a deadline to learn that it was extended.  He can lose $10 and find $20.

20.  He has a Facebook account, but I am not his friend.

21.  He believes in me to an unreasonable level.  I’m starting to believe him, and it’s getting risky.

22.  He is an amazing uncle.  He will play with his nephews for hours on end, is determined to learn about them, and has written songs for two of them so far (the rest are in the works.)

23.  He never gives up.  He will work on a project until it’s perfect.  He sees the best in people and truly believes that they will reach it.

24.  He loves Jesus.  So much.  His submission to God is commendable.  His love for the Lord pours out in his love of others.

25.  If he really has to hang out with other humans, he would prefer them to be homeless and/or immigrants.

26.  He cooks, cleans, mops, does laundry, walks the dog.  But he will NOT go to the grocery store.  He would rather starve.  In the extreme circumstance where I convinced him to go (I think I did once), he refused to take a list because “it’s like you’re telling me what to do when you’re not there.”

27.  He has a lovely singing voice.  Still makes my heart melt after all these years.

28.  BB has fiercely close friendships (although you wonder how since he prefers to not talk to people…).  He still has extremely intimate friendships with guys from growing up, high school and college.

29.  He once tried to compliment me by saying that I looked like a Jordache ad.

30.  He was kind of a chauvinist when I met him [he would tell people that he married me for my “young womb”], but now he’s a total feminist and will tell you why it’s wrong to ask a woman to cover up while she’s breastfeeding and why there’s nothing wrong with boys wearing pink.

31.  He has endless energy and is always up for the wackiest of ideas.  He’s creative and spontaneous.  Always keeps me on my toes.

32.  BB is so kind.  He couldn’t hurt a fly.  He has a sweet spirit and loves to do things for people.

33.  He is hilarious.  Makes me laugh every single day.

34.  He’s super hot.  It’s not everything, but it goes a long way.

35.  He loves me just the way I am.

My darling BB, I love you dearly and am so glad you were born.  Halfway to 70!  Not bad…