Wednesday, September 7, 2011

New Home for the Blog

There are things I love about blogger, but so many things I don't love about blogger.  It's time to say good bye and move it on over to ---> wordpress.  (Which, I'm finding has things I love and things I don't, as well....BUT, more positive things than negative things to date.)

I'm slowly going to add my blogroll.  Not NEARLY as easy as blogger, imo.  If you have an adoption blog, let me know and I'll try to add it to my list. (Will be moving everyone on here right now...)

Follow me over to my new bloggity-home. :)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

He didn't pick me for those times...

I stumbled across a blog from an amazing woman last week. I'm reading through her blog like a book I just can't put down. I'm encouraged and inspired by her Christ-filled life in Uganda. Her latest post stuck a cord with me. 

I want her to be a baby so I can strap her on me and hold her there and she will feel secure and safe and protected. I want to be the person who taught her to write her name and how much fun it is to make mud pies, and I want to be the person who laughed with her when she lost her first tooth. I want to know where the scars came from that she can’t remember the stories about, and I want to be the person who wiped her tears when she fell.
But I know that is not how God intended it.
He did not choose me for those moments, He chose me for these. I entered motherhood through a different door, and I get a different kind of stretch marks.
I encourage you to go read her blog and learn about her organization.

How can I process the emotions that go along with adopting a child who is almost 5?  There is just SO much that happens in the first 5 years of life.  I'm entering this adoption at peace knowing that I do not get to experience any of those things, but can I tell you, it breaks my heart that my sweet Seung Joo didn't get to experience a mom and a dad and a home and a constant?

When she was born premature and had a very, very hard start at life, I wonder, did she have good nurses who showed her love?  Kindness?  When she was getting stronger, off the vents, did someone cheer her on?  When she had surgeries, there was no one who carried her to her room praying to God that he would watch her and keep her safe? Pray for the surgeons hands?  When she visited the hospitals countless times in her first year, one for a multiple month trip, did anyone visit her? Bring her a stuffed animal? Or did she lie in a crib, alone?

When did she crawl? When did she walk? What was the first word she spoke? When did she have her first bite of real food?  How did she get the scar on her foot that the social worker noted, but had no explanation for?

Seung Joo had no 1st birthday celebration.  Did anyone cry after her school bus drove away on her first day of pre-school? Did she cry?  How did she like her first bath? Her first swimming pool? When she falls and gets hurt, who kisses her ouchie?

Seung Joo has wonderful caretakers watching over her, giving her honest-to-goodness love, and for that, I am thankful.  But she didn't get to experience what most Korean children up for adoption get to experience: a home setting.  No foster care for SJ. She's been in the hospital or orphanage her entire life.

And, as Katie put it, God didn't choose me for those moments, He chose me for the moments ahead.  I will never, ever be able to fill out a baby book for SJ that spells out when she crawled, walked, talked, slept through the night, ate my boys.  I'll never be able to tell her how the scar was formed, how they surgery's were preformed and how she was after.  I wish I knew when her first tooth came in, how tall she was at 1 year old, when she first smiled or laughed, but I don't.  In fact, I have all of maybe 5-7 pictures of her in her first 3 years and they were taken in 2 or 3 days. (And I thank God for them!!)

And unlike the maps full of stretch marks I have on my belly for my boys, my stretch marks with SJ are of my patience and hope.  And I am getting s.t.r.e.t.c.h.e.d. and God is saying, "Stretch more." And sometimes, like recently, I'm not very good at the stretching part.  I feel stretched out.  And then, God says, "I'm here."

There will always be unknowns, and as a person who really likes detail and looooooves to brag on her children, it's hard to not know! I DO want to know.  I so badly want a step-by-step on SJ's life so I can share with her. But I have hope of things to look forward to

I'm looking forward to her first Christmas home, her 5th birthday celebration, the first time she holds my hand, the words, "I love you", the first real, genuine hug, the first time she calls me Omma or Mommy, watching her learn what it means to have a Omma or Mommy (and Appa or Daddy), giggles with her brothers, painting fingernails. 

There is so much to look forward to and so much to thank God for.  I thank Him for taking such great care of SJ in her first 4 1/2 years and of the miracle of placing us in the right hands to find her.  I praise Him for his faithfulness to us and to her.  And I thank him for the years ahead where we are able to witness every single thing worth witnessing.  I WILL cry when the bus goes away, I will pray for her doctors knowledge and I will hold her hand all the way along.

And I'm amazed that Christ would give me such a blessing as three wonderful, beautiful children.  We have a little more than a whole quarter of her life before adulthood that is fuzzy, but with God's help, we'll figure out what needs to be figured out and stretch to live life to the fullest.

We can't wait.

Friday, September 2, 2011

You gotta move...

I double dog dare you to listen to this without "moving". It's simply not possible in this out.  When we're down and out and feeling like we can't pick our selves up, the kids and I like to "move" to this song.  Enjoy!

(I know, it kindof doesn't work in the space provided, but it's all good. ;)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

First Day of School

The annual 'sun in the eyes' photo on the doorstep.

This little guy is in 1st grade already. Love him. Oooh, do I love him.

My three handsome boys. (Aren't they? I mean, I am blessed!!)

4th grade, 1 shoulder backpack. What else do you need. This boy stole my heart more than 9 years ago.

Squint! 123, SMILE!
And yes, I cried! I can't believe it, but I did.  I guess it's just my annual tradition. Here's to hoping their first day was half as amazing as they are!

Just sayin'

Today is a hard day when it comes to waiting. The country is going back to school.  Cora could be a 4K-er this year.  I know she's in school in Korea, and I don't think this is their beginning of the school year, but today, I wish she was home with pink sparkly back pack on.


Waiting is so hard.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Best of Summer

This summer was the BEST summer ever.  Seriously, I've been a mom for almost 10 years, and I've never had such a summer as I did this year.  It wasn't some fabulous vacation or new summer toy that made it so wonderful, it was simple awesome family time.  Logan even said this was HIS favorite summer.  Sometimes, simple is best, and we're proof! 
Here are some of our summer highlights.
We spent a few nights with Grandpa and Grandma.
We fed ducks!

We went on our very first family camping trip.  And it was the highlight of the summer.

We went to the Dells.  And water parks aren't really our thing yet, so we did laser tag, go carts, ropes coarse, etc...BLAST!

We lost teeth!!

We left our 9 year old for an entire 3 nights with a teenage youth counselor. No phones, no parents. A little scary. He survived. We also sent Miles to Grandma camp for those nights. Yay for Dave and I!

Dave and I both turned a year older.  The point to note is that HE is a year older than I am.

Bike rides are fun. Bike rides to get ice cream cones are even more fun.
We bowled. Miles won! (Is there an age limit for the bumpers? Thinking not.)

We went swimming.  Oh, did we go swimming. Many, many times.

We went to our amazing FREE zoo. Learned a lot about red pandas, too!

And of course, we spend times thinking about how next summer will be even better, because Cora will be with us!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Owl Love You Forever

We went to Target today to pick up a couple of tees for the boy's first couple days of school.  We're waiting to do school shopping until they are out of shorts.  When we walked past the girl area, Logan stopped and said, "Seung Joo would LOVE this!" pulling out a tutu.  So, we stopped to look and before I knew it, this was in our cart.
I mean, it's LOGAN'S fault, really. How could I refuse?
Check out the shirt.
Guess what I've heard about 10 times in the past hour?

Want to hear a joke mom?
Knock, knock.
Who's there.
Owl who?
Owl love you forever, mom.

Want to see theeee cutest thing of the entire outfit?
I may have missed a lot of years and a lot of cute clothes, but I'm lovin' buying a size 3T for my 4 1/2 year old daughter.  Shipping this out with a new care package soon!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What Does Your Child Know About Adoption?

This post is for all of the people who read adoption blogs for one reason or another.  Maybe you're supporting a friend or family member who is adopting. Maybe you're considering adoption down the road.  Maybe you just clicked on a link on facebook and got hooked on a certain adoption blog, can I ask you to think about something if you're a parent?

What does your child know about adoption?

Probably most of you will know a family or more in your kid's school that have adopted a child or more.  Maybe your church has a family that, as an adult you realize the kids were adopted.  You probably just assume that the kids can tell just by looking that the child is adopted. (And sometimes not just by looking.)  

Adoption isn't a topic that comes up often, I'm sure, at the supper table, unless you're wanting to adopt or you have someone in your close circle who is adopting.  But with the huge chance that your child will be friends with a child who was adopted, maybe it should come up once.

Yesterday, our family went to look at a used swing set we found on craigslist for the back yard.  (Just thinking about the boys and Cora playing together, building their connection in the spring.)  The boys were all over the swingset and Dave was taking measurements.  (Too big, darn it!)  The family had two little girls, 2nd grade and 5th grade. They were selling the swing set to get a trampoline. 

Our adoption came up and the youngest girl was fascinated by the idea.  "Adopting!" "A girl?"  "Do the boys want a sister?"  "Will she like our play set?"  The mom said she had a friends who adopted two little girls internationally, now teens.

Girl: "Who was adopted?"
Mom: "You know, the girl who babysits you sometimes."
Girl: "Really?"
Mom: "Yes! She was adopted."
Girl: "You mean she was in a cage to get adopted?"


Mom laughed it off and said, "No honey, people are not in cages for adoption.  It's not like puppies. ha ha ha ha"


Seriously we could have heard the crickets chirping in the cornfield. (Wait, do crickets live in cornfields?)

We went on for a few more seconds talking about how adoption works.  Mom was clearly embarrassed, and the good news is that there will probably be a conversation about adoption around the dinner table to help clear things up in her mind.   

The biggest thing that stuck out to me is that this child, 7 or 8 years old, had no idea about adoption.  She truly thought the children lived in cages, and that just about broke my heart.  And I thought, she's probably not alone!  You think about the pet stores, TV commercials and the humane societies "adopting" out the pets, and it's no wonder she thought that's how adoption worked.

What does your child know about adoption?  Because chances are good she has some ideas in her head about what it is and how it works and maybe she's as wrong as the little girl above.  Even if you don't specifically know how it works, having you give them the gist of it would be a great thing.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Emotions Bubbling

It's a funny thing, adoption, and all of the emotions that go along with it.  And the conversations that go along with it.

Like the conversation we had yesterday where the woman asked me if she "has been socialized well?  Cause I hear all kinds of stories about kids that weren't socialized." (Did you cringe at that word like I did?) The woman was harmless, really, and genuinely happy for us, but that was just weird and I changed the conversation immediately.  Apparently someone she knows started the adoption process and decided that because she couldn't know how socialized this child was, she couldn't say yes.  Another post on that coming soon.

I've mentioned before the crazy feeling of missing Cora, though we've never met.  And I can't quite verbalize that to make it understandable.  We have videos of Cora and her little BFF and I watch them and feel like I'm getting a glimpse of her.  Her laugh, (oooh, her laugh!!) and her little voice and her toys she likes to play with.  Her fingers and hair and eyes. The different expressions on her face.  It's a glimpse...just a glimpse. And I long for more. 

And I think about what life will be like when she joins us.  We had an amazing family weekend at Wisconsin Dells this past weekend.  The boys and Dave were in the pool and I thought about when we have Cora with us, how sweet that will be.  We ate at a restaurant with an arcade and the kids were playing and Dave says, "Where will we sit when we have 5 people in our family? Every table is made for four!" She's present, though she's so far away.

And then there's the switching feelings of pure excitement and pure sadness of missing her and knowing we won't see her for maybe 6 months or more.  If my heart feels like it misses her now, what will it feel like when it's 4 months from now. 5 months from now.  And how you get the feeling that that's not the face that anyone wants to see.

"How's it going with the adoption?"  is a common question and we have so many happy things to say, but the second we say, "But the wait is so hard..." the mood changes and really, what can people say who haven't been there? So we try not to go there.

I've heard the comparison of pregnancy to adoption.  In many ways, it is very very similar! Adoption is a joyous, happy thing! Like pregnancy. There is the longing, the anticipation, the frustration, the anxiousness, the feelings of just getting the wait over.  Let's not forget about the comfort food and weight gain. :) (This summer has not been kind to my waistline.)

Just like a pregnant couple has to wait so many month to get a glimpse of their baby, we have to wait so long to see ours. Almost exactly the same time, actually.  

But, the biggest, hugest, as my kids say, difference is that the couple who is able to do nothing but wait for their baby growing in mom's belly knows that whenever that baby comes, it will be day one. They won't miss a beat.

Now, obviously I know that we chose an older child for many reasons, and day 1 isn't an issue for us.  Or month 1, or year 1, year 2 or year 3. But 4! Year 4 IS important to us.  And thus, though we're anxiously waiting like every other expectant parent, we're missing days. Months. of the life we've already missed years of. So, while there are many similarities, the waiting just doesn't feel the same.

But it's all we can do.  Wait. Pray. Gather things. Prepare. Plan. Think ahead. Watch videos. Print pictures and put in frames. Allow the heart, just a little bit, to go there - a place a year from now when there really are 5 people to sit at the table in the restaurant. But just for a minute because it's hard to do that and then wait.

So where are we right at the moment? We are overfilled with joy.  We're excited.  We're expanding. (No, I don't mean my hips. Well, ok, they're expanding, too.) We feel God's presence in our wait.  We trust that God is in control of this entire process.  We miss her. We long for her physical presence and take comfort in her videos and pictures. We wonder what she smells like. How her hair feels. How her hand will feel in ours. We wonder what size her shoes are.  We know that she's a bit taller than Logan's belly button and right at Miles' chest. We're preparing - our home and our hearts. And we're sad that we're in the middle of a political stand that affects our family. But mostly, we're just anxious and excited and joyful and happy and longing for the day our 4 becomes 5.  It is already 5, she's just not here at our table yet. ;)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Name Game

I got an email asking why I go back and forth with Seung Joo/Coralie/Cora's name.  "Wouldn't it just be easier to stick with one?"

Well....maybe! It does seem easy for many people to just go with the American name they picked once they accept a referral.  In our case, our sweet miss is older and her name IS Seung Joo and it's been Seung Joo for almost 4 1/2 years.  No matter if we plan on trying to have her acclimate to a new name, the choice is ultimately hers.  She'll be close to age 5 when she comes home, and that's a tough age to just make a switch.

When we picked the name Coralie, we always planned on her going by Cora for the most part.  But it took us quite a while before we would even call her anything other than Seung Joo.  Because we "got to know her" as Seung Joo.  Today in our conversations, we alternate her names, sometimes using all three in one conversation.  (And, as I do in the blog.)  It's not an intentional way to make you confused! ;) 

Logan ONLY calls her Seung Joo.  Miles is like Dave and I and alternates her name by three.

I told one of the people at our agency what SJ's American name will be and she said, "It will be interesting to see if she ever makes the switch from SJ to Coralie.  Some kids at her age just don't."  And no matter if she does or doesn't, keeping her middle name Seung Joo was important for us in case she ever wants to choose her Korean name as she ages. 

So the reason we keep going back and forth is because we are the only ones who know her as Cora or Coralie. She has no idea that a name will be added to her name, Seung Joo, and we have to be realistic that she might not want it changed.  And of course, if she doesn't, that's totally fine, too!  In Korea, they don't have middle names like we do.  Her name is Seung Joo _(last name)___.  But Joo isn't her middle name, it's an extension of her first.  So, really, we're not taking away her name of Seung Joo, we're just adding a name in front of it. 

Whether she accepts it or not, we'll see as we get there, but when she comes home, we plan on calling her Coralie Seung Joo as she adjusts (Or maybe Cora Seung Joo) with the idea that gradually it would stop at Cora. We would think that as time passes, she'll grow to know and grow accustomed to being called Cora - eventually becoming Cora.  We'll follow her lead without expectations one way or the other.

Until then, you'll continue seeing Cora, Coralie, Seung Joo and SJ here! :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The long wait for legals

What are legals, you might ask?  Well, I'm not exactly sure.  I gather they are Seung Joo's * documents making her legally able to be adopted. And you can't process the US side of the adoption forms (i600) without them.  They are a must.  Add on the fact that the i600 can take months to process, you can see how getting them is a step worth celebrating.

Sometimes legals are waiting with the child's referral info, sometimes people wait a few days or a week and sometimes some unlucky people wait weeks upon weeks, into months.

Meet unlucky person.

I've been asking around to see how long legals have taken and the answers are all over the ball park.  But one person said 11 weeks. MOST, however, are not NEARLY that long.  Days, even a week or two at most. (Or so it seems.  Just from what I'm gathering.)

We are at 6 weeks of waiting right now.  I know it's not a HUGE deal because we didn't make the 2011 quota anyway, so it doesn't matter if it comes tomorrow or in a month, but I'd just like to make sure there isn't anything wrong that might stop the process. I've been told it isn't the case, but the whole adoption process is a bit nerve wracking, so I'd just sleep better having them.

Keep your fingers crossed they come by by next Friday.  Why next Friday?  Why not? ;)

*Next blog post is on Seung Joo's/Coralie/Cora's name. ;)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cora's Best Friend

At Cora's orphanage, if I'm understanding correctly, they live in little families.  I believe there are 8 girls in Cora's family who sleep in the same room. While Cora's lived at her orphanage for basically her entire life, most Korean children waiting for adoption live in foster homes.  If they are not adopted by age 3(ish), they are transferred into an orphanage.

About a year ago, a little girl was transferred into Cora's orphanage and placed in her "family".  When I first inquired about Coralie, there was immediate talk from the agency about her and her best friend, who like Cora had the initials, "S.J.".  (Cora's name is Seung Joo)

When we were looking over her file, most of the pictures and all of the video had this sweet little girl in them.  The girls seem pretty much inseparable. BFF's. ;)

So, imagine my heart when we knew that Seung Joo was going to have a home, but "SJ" was going to stay there.  It was a hard fact to deal with.  Both girls have been listed for almost 4 years and those adopting from Korea typically are waiting for a referral of a baby, so I was thinking about anyone who had every shown an interest in adoption local to send her info to.  I couldn't think of anyone.

I belong to a Korean adoption forum, and imagine my happiness when I found out that there was a family looking at SJ's file!  We instantly connected, chatted about the girls (we were still researching Cora's medical records at the time) and we really walked the path together.

This family accepted SJ's file and will be bringing her home!  Best part? They are only about a 4-hr car ride from our house.  They were in our city last weekend, so we had a chance to meet them in person and share our joy for each other's new addition.

We instantly clicked and I do believe that this little SJ is one lucky little girl to be joining such an amazing family.  (It wasn't until after we posed with photos that I wondered what the other people at the coffee shop thought we were doing!;)  When they dug out their picture of SJ, Logan said, "Awww! She's SO cute!!"  She IS, isn't she?

If you want to follow her story, head over to her blog, Bringing Home Mercy.  We're hoping that we might have the chance to travel together! Can you imagine how wonderful it would be to welcome the girls into their forever families arms on the same day?  The airplane ride home? 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Personalities - Oh how they differ

When pregnant with Logan, we didn't find out if he was a boy or a girl.  With Miles, I remember sitting on the table for my 20 week ultrasound, having decided we wanted to prepare for the sex.  Sure, I'll be honest, I'm pretty sure I wanted a girl.  One of each sex. Don't they say that the perfect combo?  But, if they told me my baby was a boy, I was going to be FAR from disappointed because Logan was pretty much thee easiest child to parent.

Logan=calm, easy, good sleeper, content, good eater, loving, caring, sharing, empathetic....all of these things Dave and I pretty much had no problem thinking was from OUR doing.  We were awesome parents! ;) And our son was proof that we knew what we were doing. (hee hee hee)

And a boy it was.  And he came at 40w 2d just like his brother.  Though, Logan's labor was 27 hours and Miles was 7. Logan's was long and boring, Miles' was quick and very, very scary.  Logan came out and was pretty much this calm present child and Miles came out screaming and rarely stopped.  It was literally the second he was born that he showed us that just because he had the same genes and sex did not make him a carbon copy of his brother.

(And thank goodness for that! Cause LOOK at that face! I'm so glad he is who he is!)

As a baby, Miles was intense, had the ability to cry louder than any other baby I've seen (And for longer!), puked all.of.the.time., never wanted to be let down, sleep?  The boy obviously didn't know what that was for years.  YEARS. (It's still common to have him wander in at night.)  We were stretched far, far, (faaaaaaar!) beyond what we thought we could handle.

But now, Miles is 6 1/2 and going into 1st grade and Logan is almost 10 going into 4th grade and the things that I loved about Logan as a baby and toddler are still Logan and I still SO much love his personality!  And the things that were so hard about Miles have transformed in a different way and I SO much love his personality!

Logan is (for the most part) calm, mature, confident and studious. He prefers his feet to stay on the ground.

Miles is wild, brave, confident and so many times leaves us with our jaws open with, "did he just do that?" If he has it his way, his feet will be anywhere BUT the ground.

I took this picture at an amusement park yesterday.  It's one of my favorite pictures of the moment.  Logan was a bit nervous. It was the first ride of the day.  Miles was all, "Let's GO!!"  This is their little selves in a nutshell right here. 
The kids stretch each other so much. Miles learns good quiet behavior from Logan.  Things to do while sitting still.  Logan learns to be brave from Miles.  How to quiet the little voice in his head and just try.

 As they get older and I can see how their personalities came from the moment they were born, not through parenting or molding.  I've been blessed to have a little wild child and a calm sensitive child.  I can not wait to learn what Coralie's personality will be.  

Will she be more like Logan or more like Miles?  Either way, we're the luckiest parents in the world.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Attachment - where we're at with that

If you know anyone who has adopted, is adopting or is considering adopting, chances are good you've heard about attachment.  Attachment is when the child feels 100% confident and comfortable in your care. (And attachment goes both ways - the parents feeling 100% confident and comfortable with the child, too!)

There are a million books, DVD's and websites that focus on attachment and it's mandatory training pre-adoptive parents must do for most, if not all, agencies.

You do a little digging on 'older child adoption', which is where Coralie falls, and you'll find nothing but hard to read information. Before finding Cora, our social worker almost scared us out of adoption completely with her older child talk.  Things can go horribly wrong.  Children who are abused, neglected, malnourished and a whole slew of other things - sometimes things that aren't even obvious -  can go on to have a horrible time figuring out the whole family thing.

So imagine where our hearts are when the 'older child adoption' subject gets raised.  People with the best intentions wind up setting us back a bit.  I'm just going to be vulnerable for a minute and share where we're at with this, our thoughts on Coralie and our thoughts on what we need.

Coralie has lived in a facility her entire life.  Unlike most Korean orphans, she did not live with a foster family in a home.  But don't feel sad for her, because she is in an AMAZING facility full of love.  But, she may struggle with figuring out 'mom' and 'dad' and a home and a small family of 5.  She sleeps with 8 other children, I believe, so sleeping might be something we have to be flexible with.  She may not like the idea initially with a bedroom of her very own. Heck, my youngest NOW doesn't like that idea either! Maybe they'll share for a while?  Or maybe we'll do a family sleeping thing for a while.  Parents on the bed, kids on the floor.  Co-sleeping is a bonding thing, and I can only imagine it would help with that.

Cora is going to be going on 5 when we bring her home.  We're still deciding about school and when she'll start. Hopeful that the school will let us sign her up for both Kindergarten and 4K.  Doing a lot of research and talking with ESL teachers as well as parents who have brought home children of this age.  We just can't know until she's home, but if she does come home in Feb, she'll have 6-7 months at home before school would even start.  A great start to her English.

Are we afraid of bonding?  Well, I mean, yes, sort of.  But here's the thing, we're a pretty bonded family.  I'm ALWAYS with the kids.  We're not really one of those families who have kids in and out every single day because my kids and I really like to do things together during the day.  My kids are happy if they have one playdate a WEEK in the summer.  I feel like, they're young and I'm happy to have them at my feet because time is fleeting, fast.  So when Cora joins us, she'll not be far away either.

We are doing SO much research, reading books and videos on attachment, but I'm also trusting in God.  He brought us to her and he's going to weave our hearts together. (Thanks for that beautiful picture, Stephanie.)  Not that I'm not realistic.  It COULD be easy! It COULD be hard.  As our social worker said, "It's a crapshoot at that age."

So what do I need? EXCITEMENT. Because need I remind you how amazing it is that this sweet little girl is now my daughter? (ahhhh!!!) I say this in the most lovable way - I don't need to hear, "Wow.  Well, I know someone who adopted a child that age and it was a nightmare and they divorced."  Really.  I really do not need that. It's counterproductive to us.   I also can't really dig into some of the forums, as wonderful as they might be, if I get the feeling that I'm going to go backwards.

And if any of you out there are adoptive parents and thing I'm not doing my due diligence and might be setting myself up for a disaster, let me also tell you that we're sooooo on this.  We know some of the things that can go wrong, (can't know everything), we know that she'll need to be loved even when she's trying to make us NOT love her so we'll go away and we're very willing to ask for help if we need it. In fact, I've got an attachment therapist in my TOWN who we've reached out to already in preparation. 

Right now we're realistic, but very optimistic.  We've seen so much video, so much info on her personality and we're nothing but elated.  A little nervous? Well, sure, but we'd probably be WAY more nervous to bring home the typical 15-20 month old that would come from the traditional Korean adoption.  We're much MUCH more at ease with her age.

So, if you're an adoptive parent who adopted an 'older child' and you have positive and encouraging things to say to us, spill it! We'd LOVE to celebrate our daughter with you and celebrate your child's positive attachment. I'm always up to hearing happy stories.  Ours may or may not wind up that way, but I certainly think it's better for my emotional well being to continue on the optimistic path that I'm on in thinking we're going to be ok. ;)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

First Care Package!

We've been slowly gathering up items to put in Cora's first care package, but there is a lot of pressure with a first care package!  There is SO much you want to put in it!  How do you narrow it down?  But then, when you hear that you have to pack it into a 1 GALLON ZIP LOCK BAG, it's even more pressure. And I have been feeling that pressure.  

But today, off it went to our agency where, who knows how long it will take to get there???  But I thought I'd share what we put in our care package.  (One of the most fun things I've done so far in this adoption!!)

An adorable photo album to replace the talking one I bought before I knew about the gallon-size photo album thing.  And funny enough, despite this one not letting us talk on it, I like it even more!  See her sweet smile in the window!?  
It holds 12 photos.  Hey adopting parents - it's only 7x5 and squishy! It's ziplock bag parent approved!

I have to be honest.  This isn't one of my favorite books.  Don't you think the parent could just let the little bunny think he loves him more than the parent does?  Really? But the kids have always loved hearing it.
And look at the coolest part?  It's in Korean AND English!  LOVE it! And I hope she does, too.
A VERY wrinkled dress.  Do you know how many ways a size 3T dress can be folded and rolled to fit? Many. Trust me.
Seung Joo loves bags, so the boys picked out these little darling bags.  Panda is from Miles and Bird is from Logan.
Inside Miles bag went the bracelets and the Hello Kitty brush/mirror.  Logan picked out the heart ring and the barrettes. 

We also added in some ABC/123 Stickers and two musical cards that I didn't take a picture of.  One played the Hamster Dance song and the other one played an Alvin and the Chipmunks song.  Both picked out by the boys and danced to multiple times before packing.  Hoping Seung Joo and her friends will dance to them, too!

And in case you don't think that that can fit into a 1 gallon size bag...

We did of course pack it with lots of love and good thoughts as we sent it off on the way.  First stop, MN.  Second stop, Seoul.
It's coming, Coralie!

Prayer Requests

There are three things heavy on my heart this morning as I sit her in the silence, sipping my coffee.  The boys are still sleeping and Dave is out playing basketball.  I love the quiet mornings I get if I'm able to force myself up and out of bed. But this morning, my thoughts are not on happy quiet moments. 

1.  My Silas - There is a major drought going on in Africa right now.  Silas and his family are right in the middle of the biggest affected area.   
"We are already in the crisis. There are areas where people are going with only one meal in a day. There are also areas in Karamoja region where people do not have a meal at all unless they are rescued. That is what is happening, the reality that we must tackle," Ecweru Musa Francis, State Minister, Relief and Disaster Preparedness, explains the magnitude of drought in Uganda.  (from this article)
 Compassion sent the families who sponsor kids in Uganda and other surrounding countries affected an email dictating the severity of the drought right now. They said that this drought is the worst drought in more than 60 years.  40% of the kids under age 5 are affected. (And, what about Silas? He's 8. What's the under 5 thing? Not sure.) 

Please pray for Silas and all of the children and families affected right now.  My heart breaks for them. I'm SO worried about my Silas. He has 6 siblings and only his mom is still alive.  If you have a heart for African children, might you consider a small donation? Even $5?

2.  Haiti - So if you know me, you know that I also have a heart for Haiti that started long before the tragic earthquake.  There is an org that I support and recommend anytime anyone will listen.  It is run by the most amazing girl who started it as a teen. She's only an early 20-something and 'amazing' doesn't even cut it when it comes to her, what she's doing and what's she's done.  Haiti Foundation Against Poverty.

Last week they saw 2,200 people in their medical clinic in only 6 days.  Their shelves are empty.  They're desperate for OTC products such as vitamins, vicks vapor rub and vaginal wash.  The medical director told me personally in an email that that is just a small list of things they are desperate for.  But the magnitude of malnutrition and respiratory infections is very high right now. 

My family is sending supplies and I sent an email to all of my neighbors/friends who are local to see if they wanted to pitch in.  Might you consider pitching in from wherever you are and sending a box on your own? I went to Target yesterday and the Target brand Vicks was only $2.43 and the target brand vitamins were $4.43. Let me know if you want details on where to send.

3.  Korean Adoption - Korean adoption is in a not-so-great place right now and changes are happening and have been happening in the past few months.  Talks of the program closing, a shortage (major shortage) of EP's (what a child needs to go home) and just the general sense of unknown and silence is affecting so many people right now.  One family that I know is rounding 15 months of waiting with no idea what is going on and when they might be able to travel.  Every day she wakes up and thinks, "Is today the day?"  And every night she goes to bed knowing it wasn't.

We're caught up in the EP mess right now, as you all know.  Coralie should be able to come home much sooner than Feb/March, but she can't.  And it's hard.  But we see an end in sight.  Pray, pray, pray that we're right in this.  There are fears and spoken speculation that adoptions are coming to a sudden stop and while I don't feel educated enough to agree or disagree, I pray that children who are matched, children who are waiting to be matched will be able to come home to their forever families.  I'm sort of putting my fingers in my ears and singing loudly so I don't get sucked into the fear right now.

And while we're talking Korea, pray for my sweet Coralie.  We're sending her first care package today - pictures to come!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Family Picture

We're getting our care package all packed up.  One of the items we got is a talking photo frame that is really for younger kids, but it lets you record a message for all 7 pictures.  We took one of the family, including Seung Joo. :)  My hair was in a pony tail 2 minutes before this picture. I'm hugely unhappy with my hair, but she's 4. She won't care about my hair, will she. ;)
I hope she can see herself in it!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Well, maybe I don't actually have to find something to do during the wait....

Feeling more positive about waiting to see Cora today.  Looking out at the calendar, I realize that the time really IS going to go fast.  Check it out.
  • July - Dave's birthday + camping trip
  • August - My birthday + dells trip
  • September - School starts + Korean Classes
  • October - Korean classes + Halloween
  • November - Korean Classes Logan's birthday + Thanksgiving
  • December - Christmas
  • January - New Years + Miles birthday
  • Feb - TRAVEL!?  (Maybe.)
One other good thing is that Miles will be 7 when it's time to travel.  It's good because he will feel so much older than she is, still at 4.  He really wants to be the BIIIIG brother.  And I think with her size, he really will be, but it's just a mental thing for him, too, to see ages 6 and 4.  Ages 7 and 4 sound older. ;) 

And the delayed travel will give us time to take Korean levels 1 and hopefully 2 if they are back-to-back.  That will be SO helpful.  And there will be no rushing.  We'll slowly be able to get ready and when the time comes to go, I believe we'll be ready to go!

Would it be great having her here for all of those things? Well, sure, of course.  But we have plenty of things to pass the time so we're not just waiting.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Eight. Or is it Seven.

I had a glimmer.

Remember, the glimmer of hope I had that Coralie would come home this year.  Because of her age and her situation, I allowed myself to have a glimmer of hope that she wouldn't fall into the EP mess of children with families not able to travel.  (Korean families in process, I know, so stupid.)

Our agency's Korean program director is in Korea right now.  I gathered up the guts to email her, asking specifically if Seung Joo could maybe be considered eligible for some mysterious EP's that are rumored to show up sometimes after EP's run out for special cases.

In my clouded eyes, Seung Joo doesn't fall into the category of children who are getting held up in the process and I thought, we should just ask! So, we did.  (Remember, w/o the government's reduction in EP's this year, she'd be home, say, in September.)  

She told us she was just visiting with Seung Joo, that she looked adorable with her pig tails and she was talking up a storm to her friends in the center she lives in.  I wanted to find peace in that, and I did, but in the situation of unknown, it made my heart miss her.  Does it make sense to miss someone who you have never met?  To know that this women from our agency sat and observed her playing and talking and pig-tailing it up...I could see it, and I wish I could have SEEN it.

She agreed that it was a question worth asking and she promised to do so.  I heard from her tonight - she spoke with the Korean agency big-wig director who said that the glimmer I had should be snuffed out.  Coralie will not be coming home this year.  Though, they said they are very anxious to get her home and will work on her case as soon as they can come January.

So, maybe travel will be in February. 8 months from now.  Well, 7, I guess, right? 7 1/2 maybe?

So tonight I'm sortof mourning the loss of my glimmer because I did a good job of holding on to it.  I know there are SO.MANY.FAMILIES who have currently waited 14 months and SO.MANY.FAMILIES who will be waiting 14 months from here on out.  That's SO hard.

So, what I'm trying to think about is a goal - something I can accomplish in 7-8 months. Something to say, "OK, so you can't go get Coralie until February (hopefully not March!) so while you wait, you'll do .......... to pass the time."

I've started jogging.  I could do a race. Eh.
I could try and get this body back into comfy swimsuit condition.  (Not Gonna Happen)
I've brushed off my Middle Grade Novel that I have 12,000 words in already.  I could finish it! Hmm.
I don't have any remodeling to do.
There's no craft I'm itching to do right now.
Korean lessons.  (Check! They start in September.)

I've got nothing! Can you help me think of some ideas that can pass the time?  Something big.  Something that I could say, "I'd love Coralie to be coming home sooner, but it's OK because I'm going to accomplish -------------".

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Interesting Reflection on Dolls

I've been winning some pretty great Craigslist listings of girl toys - this weekend, polly pockets and barbies.  (Let's be honest - adoption isn't cheap! As much as I'd love to go to the store and buy litttle sweet miss a cart full of brand new toys, it's not really happening.  And that's OK!)

I got a big lot of Polly Pockets yesterday, which included 14 dolls and a huge amount of clothing/accessories/animals go with it.  Then today, I got a lot of like 40 dolls, almost 30 of them being barbies + horses and clothing.  eh, some of them have pretty ratty hair, but many are great and they were only like $1 a piece, so I'm not complaining.

One thing that I couldn't help but realize when sorting through everything was that they are all (Polly Pockets included) white. Most have blond hair.  And it's something that I didn't really think about before.  We bought Coralie a little doll to send in her first care package and I debated sending a cute little doll that spoke many phrases in English (blond hair, blue eyes), thinking maybe she'd learn some phrases, but in the end, I thought sending a doll that looked more like her was a good first step for us.  She's a little mother who loves to do hair etc, so we got her this one. (not really Asian looking...)

And as I looked through the dolls, I wondered, are there Asian barbie dolls?  There are. In the tune of $50. (Korean - Chinese - Indonesia)  But the amount of Asian dolls is limited. We're going to have to be a little creative and look for these options, even if they cost a little bit more.  Oddly enough, from the families who have already traveled to Korea, I hear that the baby dolls in Korea are the typical blond hair, blue eyes dolls we have here.  So odd, right?

If you're a China/Korea family who has some ideas of where I can find more dolls that are of Asian decent, leave them in the comments or email them to me, please! :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Finally - A Name!

The Famous Red 'Matched' Square!
After tossing around hundreds of names, we have settled on the perfect one. 

Coralie SeungJoo 

(Cora for short)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

How Long Do You Have to Wait?

How long do you have to wait before she can come home?  That's the question of the hour right there.  Here's my brief answer to that, in as simple of a way as I can say...

South Korea has a plan to kick their domestic adoption program into full gear.  If you think about what adoption was like here ages ago - more of a hush, hush, last option sort of a thing - that's, from what I understand, where Korea is today.  But the good news is that, just as it did here, adoption is starting to be more of a popular idea and the number of children getting adopted into Korean families is growing.

The goal is to eliminate international adoption completely.  There have been years thrown around - 2012 was one of them.  Now we're hearing 2016 might be the year.  Adoption is in the front of Korean headlines lately with a new bill passed making it obvious they really do mean business.  And, if the children can be adopted into Korean homes, I absolutely believe that this is best for the children.  I pray that that happens.

(Wait, did I say this was going to be simple?!)

So, in order to eliminate international adoptions, they are reducing the number of children each year that are allowed to be adopted out of the country.  I believe I read that this year had a full 10% reduction from last year.  Once they hit that magic number of children, that's it.  Children will still be referred to families, but the families will know they have to wait until the next year to travel and bring them home because they missed the cut off date.

If you remember, I talked about Agency A and Agency B - hoping we'd be matched with a child in Agency A because travel would be FAST!  Well, guess where Seung Joo is? Agency A.  Guess who is out of 'tickets' already...Agency A.  (Well, agency A, B and the other big agency in Korea, too, I think...)  So, that lightening fast travel...not gonna happen.

It WOULD have happened if we would have requested Seung Joo's file right away and started our process with her right away, but you can't rewind life.  God's time, I try and remind myself.

And I try not to think of the, "What could have been's" and try to focus on what's ahead...and what's ahead is likely a 9 month wait.  That's what we've been told from our agency.  The 1-2 month wait has turned to a 9-10 month wait. (*Sniff sniff*)

But, I'm not completely certain, and neither is our agency. Our case worker said it didn't APPEAR that she'd travel this year, but because she's older, she can't make any promises one way or another.  To me, that's hope.  Something small to grab on to.

And of course, with her age, it would only make it easier to have her home sooner rather than later with school forthcoming.  Would we start her a year late? On time?  If she came home as she could have come home a couple of months ago, she'd have an entire school year of  time to learn the language, bond with us and learn about life in America and STILL start school on time as a typical Kindergartener, but now...who knows what we'll do. 

She's in school in Korea. In fact, their "3K" is 5 1/2 hrs long each day!  My kids went for 2 hours, 2 times a week! I don't know what her "4K" will be like this year, but the reality is that she's learning a lot already.

But, we can't control the timing and just need to pray that God will bring her home at the perfect time, whether that be soon, or right before she turns 5.  No matter what, it will be an amazing time!

Until then, we prepare! :)  She loves (and more importantly, is very familiar with) Hello Kitty so thank you Target for bringing it home! :)  I picked up a new bedspread and sheet set for her bed.  They have a little lamp, clock and wall stickys to, for her own comfort level, we thought we'd bring a little Korea favorite to her very own room.

And we sent out the message to our local friends and neighbors that if they have any clothes/toys their kids outgrew, we'd be happy to "shop" from them.  Because really, I'm a little overwhelmed at what is all involved with welcoming a 4 year old.  I know there is a LOT of things to buy when you are welcoming home a baby, but when we're talking a 4 year old, I'm not sure I'm going know what I all need.  There aren't any "lists" like there are for bringing home a newborn. ;)  So if you have a daughter, fill me in on what they play with when they are 4!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Meet Seung Joo

I've been a mom of boys for almost 10 years and have my fair share of knowledge on pokemon, power rangers, ninjas, star wars, sports, boy jokes, burps (and other "things"), cars etc....I can definitely hold my own in a conversation on many things I never thought I would know about and how fun it is!!

But when I hear that our sweet daughter, Seung Joo, loves dresses and skirts, bags, hair accessories, necklaces and rings and dolls I can't help but feel EXCITED!

Meet Seung Joo - our DAUGHTER! 

She is four years old and is a tiny little peanut who just now fits into size 3T! Love love that!!  This picture was taken on her 4th birthday.

We pray we have her home while she is still four.  We likely have a wait ahead of us, but no one really knows for sure. It's all in the Korea side of things.  Our steps will be done on the US side of things in maybe 6ish weeks? 

Long (Loooooooong) story short, Korea's government limits the number of international adoptions each year and this year they cut the number by 10%.  Apparently they've run out of exit permits for the year already, so it's likely that Seung Joo will come home early next year.  But, there are some cases apparently where special "EP"'s are given, so my prayer request from you is specifically that Seung Joo would qualify for one of these because of her age.

A wonderfully sweet family I've met online brought their almost 3-yr old daughter home in only 7 weeks just a month ago before the "EP's" ran out.  We aren't expecting the same thing to happen, but gosh would it be amazing if we could get her home earlier than we're thinking it might be.

So the gathering of girly stuff begins and our heart continues to grow with love! We give the glory to God who led Seung Joo right to our family.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Finding the Way to our Daughter - Part 4

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3 

So then came the talk with the kids, because they are 9 1/2 and 6 1/2 and honestly, it's a family decision more than an individual decision. We sat them down individually and talked openly and honestly about how our lives would change.  Their lives would change.  And what that talk showed me is that many times, we should just live our lives with child-like excitement.

There was nothing but, Yes! Yes! Yes! Especially when we showed them video and pictures.  Double especially when they saw her playing with a Pikachu toy. ;)  They were head-over-heels in love instantly.  And we were, too.

AHHHH! Are we in love!!!

So what's she like?  She's a total girl.  (Yay!) From what we can see in the videos of her, she's as cute as a button with pig-tails and braids all of the time.  She loves jewelry and singing and coloring and tea parties. (Tea parties, people!) 

She's gone through one year of preschool so far and can do puzzles and coloring and even knows her A-B-C's.  She's a Hello Kitty fan, and if you've been in Target lately, you'll see just how big Hello Kitty is getting here, which is perfect timing, because we'll decorate her room in Hello Kitty style as a familiar fun for her.

And what I find so neat about this whole thing is how my heart has already started growing for her.  We've never even met, but I've memorized her laugh.  I've never held her hand, but I've stared at her sweet fingers enough to imagine what they feel like.  I've never combed her hair or braided it, but the shine that I see and the blackest of black hair -- I can't wait to be responsible for it.

In one video, she says in English, "I love you, I love you, I love you"  (to Hello Kitty) and I can only imagine hearing her say that to any member of our family.

The love has sprouted and it is growing so fast. We likely have a wait ahead of us, and that's another post for another time, but today we're celebrating the acceptance paperwork in the hands of the UPS people tonight heading over to the agency so they can get what they need off to Korea.  Soon we'll be packing up our first care package to her, introducing us to her.

We can not wait to start this ride to bring home our daughter.

Finding the Way to our Daughter - Part 3

Finding the Way to our Daughter - Part 1
Finding the Way to our Daughter - Part 2

Korea, as a whole in today's day and age rarely refers "Older Children" for adoption.  There are cases, but it's not common.  Typically the children are referred around at 5-7 months.  As a law, babies are only allowed for adoption for families in country for the babies first 5 months.  Once they hit 5 months, if they are not chosen by a Korean family, they are referred to a family waiting in another country.

If there is not a family open to whatever needs this child may have, they are put on a Waiting Child list - otherwise known as WIC.  Our agency has a few older children on their Korea WIC list, and I do remember asking our social worker about them way back when we decided to go with Korea's program.  She didn't know much other than they had been waiting for a long time and we were still so moved by her 'older child talk' that we figured there was a really big reason why they hadn't been adopted already.

But since we had come full circle in our inner debate on whether we wanted to go the traditional route and be referred a child the referral way or find an older child the WIC way, I found out who to call and just inquire.

Every inquiry I kept thinking...."What harm can it do, we're just waiting on a list anyway!"

After talking to the WIC lady, we narrowed down one of the girls that we'd like more info on and she said she had a BOOK of info on her.  (She wasn't lying.)  When you're talking about a country whose medical care is very similar to ours, you're sure to get up-to-date info and all the tests you could ever imagine.

After taking a few days to just digest it, Dave and I, we decided it was time to get some professional opinions, something that one always should do in adoption, regardless of the referral.  We started with one International Adoption Pediatrician who gave us a huge thorough review that was wonderful.  But, this little peanut did have some preemie birth concerns, so we wanted to do talk to more professionals.

The last month we've been digging, digging, digging -- talking to doctors in our local clinic, our local Children's Hospital and even UCLA -- just because they have an awesome adoption clinic there.  We talked to staff at our children's school, too!  Just because we wanted to make a fact-based decision.  (Though, can I be honest, it's almost impossible for me to make a fact-based opinion on something that his so heart-filled.)

My prayer was, "If this isn't right - close the door. Any door."  And can I just tell you that those doors just kept flying open! Open, open open!

We got some video of her multiple times in the past month and one other adoptive parent said to me, "When you watch them, do you feel like she's your daughter? Are you proud of the things she's doing? Do you get excited about them?"  And the honest answer is, yes! 100% yes!

But I also know that my heart can make everything OK, so I needed Dave's head to be OK, so after we get all of the info we could, we went out for Korean food ;) and just talked about everything.  Our family of 4 - our family of maybe 5 - the challenges ahead with possibly adopting an older child - what would the children think? How would she adjust to all of the changes in life?  Because she's not a baby or a toddler...she's 4 years old. Exactly 2 years 3 months younger than Miles and 5 years 5 months younger than Logan.

And then I started to see how what we were hoping for all along, a little girl around the age of 4 was suddenly at our reach.  One that we know about her past - her parents past - her medical care...there's nothing unknown.

Making a decision to permanently alter your family by adding a child - by adoption OR birth - is a hard decision sometimes.  And we didn't take it lightly, as I'm sure you didn't when you added another child to your family.

But after much (much!!) deliberation, we couldn't help but see that this sweet little girl was ours.  She was our daughter and our boy's sister.  And she was just waiting for us to realize it.  She has been waiting far too long, getting wonderfully cared for and loved where she is currently living, but it's time for her to come home!  And once we came to that final decision, all the indecisiveness has gone away.

We are 100% absolutely positively in love with this sweet little girl whom we haven't even met yet, but let me tell you, if we could hop on the first plane out of here to meet her, we'd be on it in a second.

Go to Part 4

Find the Way to our Daughter - Part 2

Did you see, we've been matched with a beautiful little girl!  Before you read this, head over to part 1 of our journey to finding our daughter.

So when you've already invested so much of your heart to adoption and realize that the options are so few and far between for who you thought was going to joining your family, it's not a good feeling.

But adoption has always been on our hearts and we knew we wanted to do it.  But did we want to do it so much so that we'd compromise what we thought best for our family?  That's where we were struggling.

I did research on older child adoptions (anything over 3 is considered "Older Child")  I looked at just about EVERY single waiting child photolisting website possible.  I said to Dave, "I think we need to just consider that our initial feelings of an older child IS best for us.  I think we need to consider that our social worker was talking broad term.  She doesn't KNOW us, know us.  She talked about older child adoptions and parents getting divorced - parents going on anti-depressants...lots of icky things.

But she doesn't know that we've been through a lot already in life and we've hung on.  She doesn't know that you were like rock-star dad for MONTHS when I was healing from Hellp.  She doesn't know that we survived like 3-4 years of Miles waking up 4+ times a night.  She doesn't know that we literally survived thee hardest baby/toddler/little kid in the world!  And surgeries, job changes, deaths, kids surgeries....we've not new to this sticking together through it all thing.

"We just need to consider that we know more about what's best for our family that the general assumptions."

And so, I spent the last month of the kid's school year with my nose in the computer and my ear to the phone.  I researched every single (and I mean EVERY single) country that was an option - even those that weren't options.

I watched "Rainbow Kids" (huge photolisting of waiting children) and inquired about a few children that were not from Korea.  I talked in depth to people working in the Haiti program, Uganda program, Congo program, Taiwan program, China program...I bet more, even, if I sat and made a list. I'm pretty much thinking that I could work in an agency today and answer all of the newbie questions I had. ;)

I was ready to jump the Korea ship if the right child with the right needs came along and we felt right about it.  Because I just knew in my heart of hearts that there was a child waiting for us.  And she wasn't going to be a baby.  And her birth year was going to be 2008 or 2007.  I just had to find her.

Who knew that God placed us in the Korea program for a reason....She was THERE! Waiting for US all along!

Go to Part 3

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Finding the Way to our Daughter - Part 1

I'm just going to preface that I'm not sure how many parts this will be. :)

When we started out on the adoption path, we were looking to adopt a little girl, no younger than 3.  We figured, with Logan being 9 and Miles 6, a 3-4-5 yr old would be perfect!
  • We wouldn't have to start buying diapers all over again. Um, hello! I don't think there is more to add.
  • One could pretty much assume that after a while for transition, the child could reasonably sleep through the night.  I need sleep. You know how you're one of those people who either needs a lot or a little?  I'm a 'it's past my bedtime if it's past 10:30' kind of people. Waking up at all hours is just hard on me.  I don't bounce back as good as my husband does.
  • I wouldn't have to join a play group again. And I  mean no disrespect to playgroup addicts, I promise. I was never good at them, myself.  All of the kids in one little living room always stressed me out.  ;)  And who, honestly, likes hosting them and having 12 little people trash their house?
  • Big plastic toys.  'nuff said.
  • But more importantly, the age difference between the kids.  I know there are SO many people who have spaced their kids far apart and are so happy doing so.  Back before we realized just how hard it was going to be to get pregnant, we wanted 2 children really close in age.  We got pregnant when Miles was 9 months, but we lost it, and it took us another 20 months to get pregnant again.  It was a bummer for us. (Silly, I know, but honest.)  We want our kids to be closer so they can grow up at the same level and go through relatively the same things together at the same time in life.
So, our unknowing selves marched into or social worker's office with a plan.  And she listened, did a lot of "huh's" and then knocked the wind out of us with her "older child adoption" talk.  Knocked.The.Wind.Out.Of.Us.  I can't even remember what she all said, but we left with full minds and a pretty silent car ride home.

The conversation almost made us change our mind on adoption in general.  She said we should consider the Korea program because the children come home as babies and have a much easier transition time.  (Just to note, with recent changes, babies do not come home as babies.  Many are coming home at 1 1/2 yrs old.)  We decided that we *could* change our life plan.  It *would* be OK.  I cried on the phone and in person to many of my friends in my careful consideration - would it be ok?  Should we adopt a baby?  Do we even want to do this if the only way is a baby?

But in the end, we decided we did, it would be OK and not only OK, but probably amazing.  Our boys would know love in a whole new light and they were over the moon with the idea of a baby.  Their joy in the baby idea helped my fear to go away and joy to set in, but no matter what I did, there was just this overwhelming thought if, "This isn't right."  and "This isn't right" turned into "This isn't going to happen."

Go to Part 2

Friday, June 24, 2011

Our Family of 4 is Officially a Family of 5

Full details to come, but let's just say we're pretty much speechless over here and can't wait to welcome home our little girl!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My Little Ugandan Silas

 Remember when I posted about my little Silas who we sponsor in Uganda?
(Who's name on his info has oddly now changed to Sylus? I'm thinking maybe they spelled it wrong to begin with and now that he's old enough to know better, he corrected them? Who knows?)

This first picture is the picture we picked off o the website.  Though thousands of miles away, he's a part of our family.  We rejoice when we get letters from him. (Like, "Woo-hoo!! Silas wrote us!! *skip, skip, jump jump* all before leaving the mail box.)

His picture is framed on our wall.  We feel lucky to have our little Silas (Sylus!) (And encourage you to find a little "Sylus" of your own!)  The change we saw in only half a year was incredible.  Our vacant-eyed, seemingly little 6 year old boy turned into a plump, smiley 7 year old.  I mean, for real? Is he not the cutest kid ever?

I got this silly sense of security knowing that he was getting cared for, going to school, learning about Jesus.  I knew his family was getting some extra assistance, and his siblings, though not able to be sponsored like Silas (typically only one per family) were still reaping some of the benefits of Silas' new life.  I sort of forgot just how Silas lived.  Lives.

But then, our newest picture of Silas arrived.  Silas is now 8.  If you think I jump and skip when he writes me, imagine what it's like when we get his yearly picture.  I was estatic.  How had my plump child changed?  Would he have some hair in this picture?  How about his smile?  What crazy outfit would he be wearing.  I yelled to Dave and the kids as my finger was opening the envelope, "We got Silas' new picture!!!"

And then I opened it.  And It wasn't excitement and oohing and ahhing, it was hard to see.  Sure, maybe he was just having an off day or a bad picture.  (I certainly have my fair share of those!)  But in my heart, I think it's more. 

I mean, look at his eyes.
Apparently you have to turn your head. Blogger won't let me turn this.

Sylus is in Uganda.  The reality of Uganda and being a child in Uganda is stomach-churning hard to read about. Here are some quick facts I found.
  • 40% of kids under age 5 are underweight including mild to severe
  • 38% of kids under age 5 have stunted growth due to malnourishment
  •  36% of kids are being used in child labor
  • 1 in 35 women die in child birth
  • Average life expectancy: 53
Aids is a big problem in Uganda. 
  • 1.2 Million people live with Aids
  • 150,000 of those are children
  • 64,000 people died of aids in 2009 alone
  • 1.2 million children have been orphaned by aids
I won't share Silas' personal life story, but it's a rough one.  And I think, looking at those eyes, he's not in this happy Compassion school 24-7! His life is full of hardness.  And I'm afraid for him.  I look at the picture and I see not the young child in the middle picture who is drunk with the newness of attention, both with food and love of the staff and the ability to be a kid in a tough world, but one that has seen more than I can fathom, likely, sitting on my cushy green couch imagining in.

But the one thing that scares me so much is the LRA: Lord's Resistance Army.  It's a terrorist group that kidnaps Ugandan children and turns them into child soldiers, keeping them purely by fear.  They steal these kids, some SO very very young, (I think I read age 5 and up) murder in front of them, make THEM murder their friends etc...and really, what happens to these children literally makes me sick.

It is reported that approximately 66,000 children have been kidnapped by the LRA.

I wonder, Silas is 8. Prime age for the LRA. Might he know someone who has been taken at night?  I pray Silas is safe each night and he feels the love that we send him from so far away.

I urge you to watch the documentary called: Invisible Children.  It's on You Tube and my computer is acting up, but here is the link to Part 1.  There are 6 parts, so if you search "Invisible Children Part 2" can watch the entire thing.  I was SHOCKED when I watched this.  I really think everyone should watch it.

And if you watch it, or if you have seen it before, put a comment in and tell me what you thought.  Specifically of the sleeping arrangements.  That footage is pretty much ingrained in my head forever.

And then, one more plea if you're not sponsoring a child.  Consider one in Uganda.  I know, there are many deserving kids ALL OVER that you could sponsor, but my little Silas' eyes are speaking to me.  I hope they are speaking to you, too.