Friday, July 30, 2010

Hope deferred makes the heart sick - How true!

Waiting, waiting, waiting.  For a couple of weeks we've been waiting on Travel Approval (TA) from China.  We're so close. . . but still waiting.  It should come next week.  I understand that I'm not "pregnant" with Joseph.  He's seven years old, for goodness sakes!  But this feels very much like the ninth month of pregnancy when it seems like the wait will go on forever.

Hope deferred, i.e. waiting, seems to be the theme of my summer.

We're still waiting for our new farm table to be rebuilt.  It should ship next week.  We're still waiting for the termite damage in the family room to be repaired.  "Next week," the guy said.  I'm waiting on Mike to finish painting the girls' bunkbeds so we can fix up the kids' rooms.  It really needs to be done by next week, before school starts.

Next week could be a really big week at our house.

Summer vacation has come and gone and I'm still waiting.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.  Proverbs 13:12.

Friday, July 23, 2010

If You're Just Joining Us. . .

A Big Giant Welcome to You! For almost a year now this blog has been "invitation only," a private way to share our journey with family and friends. But as I reached Blogger's reader limit for a private blog, I decided to "go public."

If you're just joining us (and aren't inclined to read all 51 posts), click on the green links for a few highlights from the last year.

Why China?

We Survived the Home Study Visit

We're Getting a New Brother from China

Older Child International Adoption and Language

We Sent Our Dossier

God's Provision

We Are Just A Disaster Waiting to Happen

Want a Pain Free Way to Help Bring Joseph Home?

Creating Community in My Actual World

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Family Time

A couple of boogie boards, a few plastic buckets and shovels, a cooler full of Gatorade, and lots and lots of sunscreen. It doesn't take much to create a special family memory.

A wise woman once told me not to worry about expensive family vacations while the kids are little. She said, "You can rent a hotel room down by the airport, swim in the indoor pool, order pizza in the room, watch movies and play board games -- and your kids will feel like they've been on vacation."

So we tried it. Mike's neurologist has moved to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, and this week Mike had a routine appointment with an MRI - at 6:30 a.m. Since Mike would need to drive up the day before, we decided to make it a family affair.

We arrived in Jacksonville Thursday afternoon and spent about 3 hours playing in the hotel pool. Not a fancy resort pool, mind you. Just a plane old run of the mill "Hampton Inn" style pool. We ordered Italian food to be delivered to the room while we all watched Wipeout. I let the kids stay up really late and at 11 p.m., I removed the sofa cushions to pull out the sofa bed and saw this sign. "SOFA BED IS BROKEN. DO NOT USE! GET A ROLL AWAY FROM THE OFFICE IF NEEDED." Hmmm. We already had one roll away for Big Brother.

I called the office. She said that it was against the fire code to put three roll aways in one room. And all the other suites were booked. Soooo. . . she gave us two connecting rooms. At 11:30 p.m. we moved to two rooms -- with four queen beds total. No pull out sofas or roll aways for us.

Mike went for his appointments the next morning while we slept late.  And ate breakfast.  And let all the kids "work out" in the exercise room.  And watched Animal Planet.  After he was done, we checked out and hit the beach.

Lots of fun for very little cash. Sometimes just being together is the best part!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Why Does It Take So Long? Why Does It Cost So Much?

2012 update: This post was originally written in 2010. Since I'm sharing it over at We Are Grafted In, I wanted to make a couple of updates. 

First of all, since we adopted a waiting child from China, our adoption process took a mere 14 months from start to finish -- not very long at all in the adoption world -- but we still got the "Why is it taking so long?" questions. 

Second, at the time I wrote this post, we had named our future son Joseph, so that's how I referred to him.  When we met him, however, we decided to keep his Chinese name, Wenxin, and that's what I call him when I write about him post-adoption.

Without further delay, here are my thoughts on waiting, from way back in 2010.  

Before tackling those two serious questions, look at what we've accomplished in the past couple of days.

Today we went to Build a Bear Workshop and built a shaggy dog for Joseph. Isn't he cute!

We dressed him in World Cup 2010 garb since Joseph will be coming to his new home in 2010.

And here's a nesting update: Look at the desk and chair I painted for Katherine to use for homeschooling next year. The desk was free and the chair was one I already had.

But back to my initial questions. Why does international adoption take so long and cost so much?

We are so excited to be adopting Joseph. When people ask, we'll gladly tell them all about it. But sometimes, people, who are sincerely interested, rain on my parade by asking abruptly, "What's taking so long?" In other words, "This kid needs a family, and you're willing to adopt him, so why can't you just go get him?"

The answer is that adopting a child from another country is and should be a BIG DEAL. Prospective adoptive parents should be thoroughly checked out. And that takes time. In the past 11 months, here are some of the things we've been doing in the process of adopting Joseph.

We met with a social worker who interviewed us about our family backgrounds, our marriage, our philosophy of discipline, etc., etc., etc. She made sure our home was safe, reasonably clean and large enough for one more child. We got child abuse clearances from every state we've lived in since we've been adults. For Mike, that was seven. We were fingerprinted by the FBI. We submitted lots of details about our finances. We had complete physicals. China even asks for a parent's Body Mass Index.

Our paperwork was notarized. Then it was certified by the individual state where it was notarized. It all went to a Chinese consulate for an official seal. The U.S. Department of State took a look. And that was all before it was mailed to China.

Before she signed our Home Study, our social worker called and said, "I just have to ask you this one more time. Have either of you ever been arrested -- for anything?" She went on to say that she knew a family who did not disclose a prior arrest. They said they forgot. But the U.S. State Department found it, and that was probably the end of the road for that family's adoption.

As stressful as this process has been, I'm glad for the process. There are a lot of weirdos out there, and it doesn't need to be quick and easy to go get a child. Children who are available for adoption have already suffered terrible losses, and every effort needs to be made to protect them from trafficking and exploitation.

Answering the first question makes the second question - the one about the cost - make a little more sense. Of course, I wish it was cheaper. But, people don't work for free. Every step of the way, the people who work on our adoption, have to get paid. International travel isn't free. It all adds up. But as I look at the breakdown of the total expense, it doesn't seem like any one person is getting an exorbitant amount.

And for the Christian, who is attempting to walk in this world by faith, the expense of international adoption provides a great opportunity to trust God and see Him provide.

This post shared at the Inspired Room

Monday, July 5, 2010

My Favorite Adoption Blog

Lisa at "A Bushel and A Peck" is a mom to eleven.  No, that's not a typo.  She's about my age and has seven biological children.  A few years back they decided to grow their family through adoption.  That  decision led them to bring home four Ethiopian children in a space of only 16 months. 

Lisa blogs about the realities of adopting kids from "the hard places."  Two of her children are HIV positive and came to her when they were older after losing their parents to AIDS. 

It's been hard.  Harder than they anticipated.  But Lisa and Russ are passionately committed to all their kids and Lisa's blog outlines their journey and the things they're learning along the way.  Click on the posts below for a taste of what I'm learning from Lisa at "A Bushel and A Peck."

The Love Falls Out

Together on the Ledge

Friday, July 2, 2010

Creating Community in my ACTUAL World

So many of my needs in preparing for the adoption have been met by other adoptive parents online. The Internet has given me access to a world of information. But there's a trade off. By spending lots of time at the computer, am I losing time that could be spent with ACTUAL as opposed to VIRTUAL friends? The kind of friends that could really come to my rescue if Joseph comes home and everything falls apart and Mike is out of the country?

As we near the day we actually meet Joseph and bring him home, I think my biggest fear is being isolated. What if this is incredibly hard and I need help? All of my family is far away. I go to a very very small church with only one other family with young children.

There are amazing moms at my kids' non-traditional school. We all homeschool 2-3 days/week. I'm energized by spending time with these smart, godly, committed women, but most of them live sooo far away. Often we drive for almost an hour to attend a classmate's birthday party. An hour! For a kids birthday party! And because we all homeschool, there's not a lot of time for hanging out, going to lunch, playing bridge. . . hmm. . .does anyone actually play bridge anymore? Well, you know what I mean..

One of my favorite authors, Sally Clarkson, talks about a woman's need for community in this post. I agree that community is a real need, I'm just not sure how to create this in my world.

(I just corrected the link to Sally's article.  Sorry to anyone who tried to go there earlier and ended up confused.)