Showing posts with label Adoption Paper Chase. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Adoption Paper Chase. Show all posts

Monday, July 1, 2013

Day 1: Drowning in Paperwork

The Panic-Inducing Pile of Paper
If you're in the process of adopting an older child, you are probably drowning in paperwork. I don't know why, but the paper chase phase made me really nervous. I was terrified I'd mess something up. 

And while it was a completely necessary part of the adoption process, all that paperwork did absolutely nothing to prepare me to actually parent my newly adopted older child. 

Sometimes I even think all the hoops adoptive parents have to jump through make us feel kind of entitled. You know, "Look how hard I worked and how much I sacrificed to bring you home." Just keeping it real here. 

So I can't help you with your paperwork. I'd probably have a mild panic attack just looking at it. But I am excited to share what I've learned about parenting my older adopted child. 

When you're adopting an older child, you need to hear stories that paint a picture of older child adoption in real life -- because it may be different than what you expect.

When you're adopting an older child, you need to add new tools to your parenting toolbox, because many times, your old tools simply don't work.

When you're adopting an older child, you need relationships with other families like yours -- even if those relationships are online.

For 31 days this month, you'll find all those things here at Death by Great Wall.

My family was blessed by adopting an older child.

To make the most of the next 31 days, I'd like to ask you to do three simple things today.

1. Whether you're a regular here or stopping by for the first time, please leave a comment and introduce yourself. I'd love to know who's reading, and truth be told, that first comment is always the hardest. We'll have better discussions over the month if you go ahead and introduce yourself today.

2. If you use Pinterest, make a new board. Call it Older Child Adoption or something like that. As you pin helpful resources over the next 31 days, you'll be creating your own adoption toolbox. 

3. Share this series on Facebook or with your adoption support group. You can use the little buttons at the bottom of this post. Thanks for helping me spread the word to parents who might benefit from this series.

See you first thing tomorrow morning!

Here are all the posts in this series so far:
Day 1: Drowning in Paperwork
Day 2: A History of Loss
Day 3: Tantrums
Day 4: Parenting with Connection
Day 5: Prayers for the First Days Home
Day 6: Others Share about the First Days
Day 7: The Best Advice
Day 8: How to Get the Help You Need
Day 9: Things People Say to Adoptive Families
Day 10: More Things People Say
Day 11: Unexpected Challenges
Day 12: Unexpected Blessings
Day 13: Manipulation and Control
Day 14: Sharing Control
Day 15: Packing with Attachment in Mind
Day 16: Kids Camp Two Years Later
Day 17: Listening to Adult Adoptees, Part I
Day 18: Listening to Adult Adoptees, Part II
Day 19: Understanding Negative Behavior
Day 20: Does Race Matter?
Day 21: Bedtime, Spanking, & How We Parent
Day 22: So. Your Adopted Child Hoards Food
Day 23: A Movie I Recommend
Day 24: Bullying
Day 25: The Post I Wish I Didn't Have to Write
Day 26: Stitch Fix Just Keeps Getting Better
Day 27: Naming
Day 28: How to Help Your Church Help You
Day 29: A Dad's Eye View of Adoption
Day 30: Online Might Be Your Lifeline
Day 31: Look How Far We've Come

Shared at WFMW.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Make Adoption Better: Build the Nest!

A couple of my recent posts have been about problems in the adoption world. Well, during the month of May, you can help make adoption better by shopping with a purpose. A bunch of online sellers have come together to support the work of The Sparrow Fund, and I've already started browsing.

Here are a few of my favorite finds so far. 

The cute note cards pictured above would make a great gift for a family preparing for a China adoption!

Whimsical art. Perfect for a child's room or a gallery wall.

These prints were designed by a foster mom to remind herself to be thankful for each day with her foster child. I could see these framed in a kitchen or a breakfast room.

The Sparrow Fund gives grants to families, not to pay for their adoptions, but to help them get the support they need to be successful as adoptive parents. For example, The Sparrow Fund gives grants to families for professional medical reviews of their child's referral information by international adoption specialists. These specialists can help families prepare for the realities of parenting the children they are considering adopting.

You can read more about The Sparrow Fund and the important work they do, here.

To join in the fun, just click the Building the Nest logo below to see all the participating shops. Each business featured is giving 10% of their total sales in the month of May to build the nest at The Sparrow Fund. Let's get shopping, ladies, and to quote one of The Sparrow Fund founders, "Let's make that 10% crazy big!"

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Orphan Fever: Deception and Misunderstanding

Wenxin's Arrival in America Back in 2010

Christians, orphans and international adoption. My post over the weekend about the evangelical orphan care movement generated some good discussion in the comments section.

Kathryn Joyce, author of the Mother Jones article, Orphan Fever: The Evangelical Movement's Adoption Obsession, recently did a radio interview for NPR. The radio interview is actually much kinder to evangelical Christians than the article in Mother Jones.

Ms. Joyce uses examples from Guatemala and Ethiopia to illustrate the deception and misunderstanding that can occur in international adoption, although these are not, by any means, the only countries where problems have been reported.

Most parents who want to give an orphaned child a home would be horrified to discover that their newly adopted child was not abandoned or orphaned, as they'd been told, but had actually been recruited by a child finder. 

Most parents would be shocked to find that their adopted 10-year-old was, in reality, a 14-year-old whose date of birth had been altered to make her more adoptable.

And after sacrificing and spending tens of thousands of dollars to give a child a forever family, who wouldn't be heart-broken to realize that their new child had living relatives in their home country and viewed this not as a permanent arrangement, but as a great opportunity to get an education in America?

Deception and misunderstanding. Although it's not talked about very often, it happens. Well meaning adoptive parents and needy children sometimes fall victim to greed, corruption, and the law of supply and demand in the adoption industry. Cultural misunderstandings abound. Many adoptive parents find out after the fact that the information in their referral paperwork isn't 100% accurate.

By way of contrast, Ms. Jones highlights the country of Rwanda as an example of adoption and orphan care done right. She even gives a shout out to Saddleback Church for their initiatives in Rwanda noting that for Saddleback, orphan care is broader than just international adoption. You can read the entire transcript of the interview here.

I'd love to know what you think. What can prospective adoptive parents do to guard against being deceived in an international adoption? What concerns do you have about international adoption as it stands today?

I have a few thoughts on this issue myself, but I think I'll stop for now and give you a chance to say what's on your mind.

Ni Hao Yall

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ten Things to Do While You Wait

International older child adoption involves lots of waiting. Here are ten things to do while you wait to bring home your new child.

1. Read the Connected Child. If you don't do anything else, read The Connected Child, by Karyn Purvis. To parent your internationally adopted older child, you need to learn to think differently about his behavior and your responses. Dr. Purvis shows you how.

2. Follow a few adoption blogs. Unlike books, which are often written by experts, adoption blogs give you updates from real parents in real time

3. Join an online support community. My favorite group these days is Trust Based Parenting, a Facebook group for parents of kids from the hard places. When you join, write a quick post to introduce yourself. This is a place where you can ask questions of experienced adoptive parents and get timely answers. 

4. Make a detailed resource list. Go ahead and make a list (including contact numbers) of all the professionals you might need to access once you bring your child home. Include your pediatrician, medical specialists (if your child has a special need), a dentist, and a counselor with experience working with adoptive families. 

Think about education. Include local schools both public and private that your child might attend. What resources could they offer your family?

Include the names and phone numbers of all the adoptive families you know locally. Are there any ethnic food stores that sell food from your child's home country in your area? Are there families who are ethnically similar to your child? Put them on the list.

5. Master some phrases in your child's language. Find a native speaker of your child's language and have them help you master a few simple phrases. This will provide comfort for your child in your first days together. . . or maybe just some comic relief. 

6. Invest in your marriage. Even though all your extra money is going to the adoption, please still take the time to go on dates together. Don't let every moment together become a business meeting about what needs to be done next in the adoption process. Breathe. Laugh. Have fun.

7. Paint your house. OK, you don't really have to paint your house, but if you're stuck waiting, and don't know what to do, now would be a good time to complete any home improvements you've been meaning to tackle. Put another way, once you get home, you're going to have your hands full parenting your new child. You're going to need to create structure and consistency in your family. The week after you return home won't be a great time to install a new kitchen. We remodeled our master bath, painted and put down new flooring in our main living areas, installed a new water heater,and repaired some termite damage while we waited to travel to China. And we haven't done a big home improvement project in the two years since.

8. Have a “baby” shower. Yes, a celebration is appropriate for your new adopted child, no matter how old he is when he joins your family. Often, friends want to throw a party for you but aren't quite sure how to do it. They may suggest waiting until your child comes home so that the child can enjoy the party too.  Personally, I don't think that's a good idea.

The child you're bringing home will most likely be overwhelmed by large gatherings at first -- especially large gatherings where he is the star of the show. Your child will be facing huge adjustments. This is not the time to put him on display.

Instead, once you have official permission to adopt your child, let your friends and family throw a baby shower for you. Make sure to display a photo of your new child at the shower. Perhaps you could also take time to share your adoption story and some of the challenges you'll be facing when your child comes home. 

People want to give gifts but may be unsure what is appropriate. Help them out. Gift cards are great. Let them know your favorite stores and restaurants. How about building your library by adding books about your child's country and culture along with a few good adoption resources? One of the best gifts I received was a rice cooker and a giant (20 lbs or more?) bag of rice. The bag of rice is long gone, but I still use the rice cooker multiple times each week. 

9. Get Grandma on board. One of the biggest challenges of older child adoption is helping your extended family understand the unique challenges you face and the somewhat unconventional decisions you may be called on to make in response to those challenges. Most people will naturally assume your child is "grateful" to have a family, and that your love will wipe away the past. If only it were that easy. 

Start by making a copy of your favorite chapter in The Connected Child and sharing it with Grandma. Simply say, "We're learning a lot about the challenges of parenting older adopted kids, and I wanted to share this with you because you are going to be an important person in our child's life." If at all possible, it's important to get Grandma on board with your parenting philosophy. She can help everyone else understand if you need to skip out on the big family Thanksgiving celebration next year.

10. Take a vacation. Get away for a family vacation. Or a girls weekend with friends. Or an overnight date with your husband. You've worked hard on all the adoption stuff. Relax and have some fun before the real work begins. 

Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list. If you've adopted an older child internationally, what would you add?

Reminder:  It's Cyber Monday. If you're shopping online today, don't forget to go through Ebates for cash back.

Shared at the Tuesday Baby Link-Up.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

In About Five Hours. . .

we leave for the airport.  So I'm packing.  Really.  Now for weeks, I've been thinking and collecting stuff.  Over the weekend I got serious and made a detailed packing list on my computer.  Bags went on my bedroom floor and all the collected stuff went in.  I think the detailed list led to more shopping.  Today I made my last Wal-Mart run and put anything that has the remotest chance of leaking in ziplocks.  Tonight I'm shuffling stuff and weighing bags. I don't expect we'll sleep.  Which is a great plan. . . as long as we get some good sleep on the plane!  Hoping to blog from China.  Blogger is blocked there, but there are ways around that : )  Finally I'll be able to post photos of Joseph because he'll be our son, and best of all, we'll be in the photos with him!

Friday, August 27, 2010

No time, no time, no time

We are soooo busy.  I would love to post photos of the new kids' rooms -- they are so cute.  Or the farm table that finally came.  Or my house in shambles as they were tearing down the termite wall on the very day we got the call to go to China.  Great blog material. . .

But we are homeschooling and going to soccer practice and packing and writing lesson plans and schedules and such for the grandparents to use while we're gone.  And buying gifts for the nannies at the orphanage and the Chinese notaries.  And finalizing all the finances.  And applying for Chinese visas.  And buying a webcam for our computer so we can video Skype with our kids while we're gone.  I think my head is going to explode! And stressing over the fact that our new aquarium that was sparkling and beautiful just the other day, now is green and murkey with brown stuff growing on the bottom.  This is no time for an aquarium emergency!  And getting a new haircut and de-frizzing treatment because Joseph's new mommy is vain!

One way or the other, we are getting on a plane on Wednesday morning, Sept 1(slight date change there.)  We'll arrive in Beijing September 2 and on September 3, Joseph will become our son.

Here's our China itinerary:

Itinerary for Michael & Dana Ball family / Fan Wen Xin (2002-12-31)
September 2nd: Arriving in Beijing at 15:55. Staying in Wang Fu Jing Grand Hotel

September 3rd: Go to the orphanage to meet and pick up Joseph; Registration in the Civil Affairs Bureau

September 4th: Local sightseeing: Summer Palace

September 5th: Local sightseeing: Great Wall

September 6th: Get the Registration Certificate in the afternoon.

September 7th: Notarization and applying for the passport

September 8th: Local sightseeing: Forbidden City

September 9th: Local sightseeing: Beijing Zoo and Olympic Park

September 10th: Local sightseeing: Science & Technology Museum and the Acrobatic Show.

September 11th: Get Joseph's Chinese passport; Fly from Beijing to Guangzhou. Stay in White Swan Hotel.

September 12th: Local sightseeing: Yuntai Gardern (Cloud Terrace Garden)

September 13th: Medical check and taking visa photo; Local sightseeing: Pedestrian Street

September 14th: Local sightseeing: Liuhuahu Lake Park

September 15th: Visa appointment at 9:00AM,

September 16th: Swearing in the ceremony at the Consulate; Local sightseeing: Six Banyan Temple

September 17th: Get Joseph’s visa to enter the U.S.

September 18th: Fly from Guangzhou to Beijing and then transfer to international flight home.

September 19th:  Arrive in Orlando at 12:20 am. and introduce Joseph to his new siblings and grandparents who'll be waiting for us at the airport!

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Longing Fulfilled!

We have Travel Approval -- and a travel date!  We are going to China August 31.

And so now. . . of course. . . I'm way tooo busy to blog!

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.)

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.

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!

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.