Monday, June 28, 2010

"This letter is to inform you. . .

"that your petition has been forwarded to the appropriate visa-issuing post where the adoption interview will take place."

Dated June 25, 2010, this letter lets us know that our request for a visa for Joseph has been forwarded to the Consulate General of the United States in Guangzhou, People's Republic of China.

Now we wait for the date of our interview appointment -- which will determine when we travel to China. We're getting closer!

Celebrating every hurdle cleared! Poetry Blender

Oh, The Trauma!

One of my dreams for our family is to have a big farm table and benches. I envision homeschooling around it and having big family meals with lots of kids. I can see that table becoming the "heart" of our home. I know. I know. That's a lot of emotional investment tied up in a table.

As we began the adoption process, I began looking for farm tables. I found out that "ready made" furniture these days doesn't have much "real wood," even if you are looking at higher end brands. Pottery Barn has the look I like, but they ask big bucks for tables made out of MDF. Same for Ethan Allen. Even Thomasville. Searching online, I found custom table makers (mostly in New England) and spent hours, longingly looking at "real wood" tables that were out of our price range.

Finally, I found a couple in North Georgia that do custom woodwork, including farm tables. Their prices were much more reasonable, as was shipping. (Mike let me know from the start that he was not paying $400 to ship a table from New England to Central Florida.)

At long last, the day arrived. My beautiful table and benches (pictured above - aren't they lovely?) arrived this morning -- damaged in shipping! They only sat in my dining room long enough for us to discover the eight inch gouge in the table top that no amount of "Restore a Finish" was going to hide. Oh, the trauma!

So they went back. . . for repair, replacement, refund? I'm not sure yet. So for now, I guess my dream of the perfect farm table will have to wait a little longer.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Vacation with Our Cousins

Orphan Statistics Explained

One of my pet peeves is statistics given for shock value without any kind of context. I recently found an interesting explanation of UNICEF's statistics on the world's orphans.

From The Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism:

UNICEF’s statement that there are 163 million orphans worldwide has been widely misinterpreted as meaning that 163 million children are in need of new adoptive families. Many Westerners imagine that a significant number of these adoptable children are healthy infants and toddlers.

But it’s not so. UNICEF’s statistic includes what it calls “single orphans”—children who have lost one parent. As of 2007, roughly 18.5 million of these “orphans” had lost both parents. That is, of course, still a heartbreakingly large number. However, most of those are living with extended family, and are not in need of adoption, or are older than five, sick, or disabled in some way. As UNICEF’s statement below puts it, “Evidence clearly shows that the vast majority of orphans are living with a surviving parent, grandparent, or other family member. 95 per cent of all orphans are over the age of five.”

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Want a Pain Free Way to Help bring Joseph Home?

For several year now I've been a member of Ebates. It's a cool site that gives you cash back for online purchases. It's totally free! Whenever I'm going to shop online, I log on to Ebates first. Most likely the store I want to shop at will be part of their site:,, Ann Taylor, Barnes and Noble, Gap -- tons of online retailers.

I click through the link on the Ebates site. It takes me to the place I want to shop, but Ebates tracks my purchase and gives me a rebate. At Christmas, I make calendars for all of our extended family on Snapfish and every year I've gotten something like 12% back.

At the end of every quarter, Ebates sends me a big fat check! Usually after Christmas it's about $50 - $60. There are no receipts to save, no rebate forms to fill out. All I have to do is remember to click through Ebates and then sit back and wait for my big fat check to come in the mail.

I've been looking for creative ways to come up with the rest of our adoption funds. Tonight I got an e-mail from Ebates. They always give you $5 for each friend you refer who actually joins Ebates and makes one qualifying purchase. But right now they are running a big promotion. For anyone who recruits 300 new members (who actually join and make a $20 purchase through Ebates by the end of July), the award is -- "Drumroll please" an extra $4500! Or a trip for two to Hawaii, but I'll take the $4500 and run as fast as I can to China to bring Joseph home.

So here's my personalized link to Ebates:
Just click on the letters in green.

Click through this link and join right now! It's painless. Then look around and make a $20 purchase of something you actually need. You'll get cash back and you'll become one of my "300." Lastly, post my link on your Facebook, your blog, e-mail it to your friends. Just copy and paste the URL below.

Even if we don't get to "300," I'll get cash back for every person who joins. But what if we did make "300?" Wouldn't that be one of the most creative ways a person has ever funded an adoption!

Monday, June 7, 2010


For me, discipline is about so much more than just correction or punishment. Before I can even get to those steps, I need to train my children in the "right" way to act.

With the way we do school, my kids are home a lot year round. But summer brings a relaxed schedule and with all that free time there's been an escalation of bickering. And since we replaced our carpet with beautiful hardwood floors, the bickering echoes - loudly!

So yesterday, while Mike went to a meeting after church, I took the kids to lunch. Over barbecue, fries, grilled cheese and snow cones, we talked about what the Bible says about how to work out conflict. We've revisited our talk in numerous little conversations over the last 24 hours. It's the sermon I plan to preach all summer long.

Proverbs 19:11 - A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. When someone offends us, often we can just overlook it. As one of the kids put it, "If I'm sitting on the sofa and someone is kicking me, I could just move." Yes! Every little offense doesn't have to become a federal case!

Next we looked at Matthew 18. If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. When something bothers us so much we can't overlook it, we use our words to explain to the other person what's bothering us and to ask them to stop. Hopefully that solves the problem.

Finally, if they just won't listen, we take another Christian -- at this stage of the game, a parent. But we don't run to mom and dad to tattle until we've tried to use our words to work it out.

So that's the formula. The formula doesn't involve hitting, kicking, spitting, whining, yelling or saying, "I'm never going to talk to you again." We're reviewing this. We're role playing. We're having "do-overs" when we get it wrong. It's hard work, but I think it will be worth it in the long run..

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Is Adoption Wonderful?

I think about this a lot these days.

I've come to the conclusion that adoption is a compassionate, redemptive response to a terrible loss - a child's loss of his first family. And I believe that even if a child is adopted into a wonderful "forever family" with parents who love him as their very own child, he has every right to grieve the loss of his first family. There's a real loss there that I can't pretend doesn't exist.

As for Joseph, I think he'll also grieve the loss of his birth country. At almost 8 years old, he'll leave everything he's ever known.

But it's my hope that the redemptive part of adoption will eventually far outweigh the losses in Joseph's life. I pray that he will come to feel that he "belongs" in our family. That we will be the right "fit" for him. That God will use his unique history to make him into an amazing man.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

You Know You're Adopting Internationally When. . .

You overhear your other children playing "orphanage."

The little girls do it all the time. "You be the child in the orphanage."

Today we got a photo of Joseph actually living in the orphanage. Both girls asked why he wasn't working. Huh? Little Miss said, "Does he get to play in the orphanage? I thought the kids had to work."

Finally it hit me -- Annie -- one of Little Miss's favorite movies. Annie and her friends scrubbing the orphanage from top to bottom. A mean, mean orphanage director (Carol Burnett) shamelessly working them to death. That's what my girls think orphanage life is like.

I'm Bouncing Off the Walls!

Look what I got this morning!
I asked for new photos of Joseph and updated measurements. The photos and medical info that we've been looking at for almost a year are about 2 years old.

Joseph is now 48 inches tall and weighs 46 pounds. If you compare him to an American child (who is not in institutional care), he is in the 33rd percentile for height and the 17th percentile for weight. That's about what I expected, although I hope to fatten him up a little when he comes home. My best frame of reference is that he's about Little Miss's (age 6) size.

Let the shopping begin! Joseph will come to us with only the clothes on his back, so we'll need to build his wardrobe - socks, underwear, p.j.'s, swimsuit, shirts, shorts and pants - starting from scratch.