Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sick Again

Only this time it's me. I woke up at 4:30 yesterday morning with some of what I'm sure is the same thing the boys had on Saturday. Ugh. I did manage to get the older two up and off to school (on time, even), and I picked them up, too. That's about all I managed all day, though. Nathaniel spent the day watching TV, and I'm not sure what all the boys did after school, but there wasn't too much mayhem, so that was pretty awesome. And Jacob came home early enough to take Spencer to his ST so I didn't have to, which was wonderful. I'm feeling a little better tonight, so hopefully I'll actually be good for something again tomorrow. We still have a few more papers to finish for our dossier, but with the crazy schedules and the sickness Jacob and I haven't even managed 5 minutes to sit down and talk about when we can get the rest of our stuff done. I'm putting it on the schedule for tomorrow (okay, today when you're reading this), so hopefully we can knock out the rest of it soon and be ready to go!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Our Adoption Story Part 2: Obstacles

This is a continuation from here.

When we left off, I had found Miss Brigitte on Reece's Rainbow and was sure she was supposed to be our daughter. However, there were a lot of things standing in our way.

Jacob was miserable in his job and had been looking for a new one. I was willing to stay where we were long enough to adopt, even though I didn't particularly like it there, but I knew that wasn't a good option for our family. Jacob couldn't handle any more strain than he already had, and adoption is not an easy process. So for us to adopt he had to find a new job.

Along with a new job came a host of other obstacles: moving to whereever the new job was, selling our old house, buying a new house, managing to not completely wipe out our savings in the process, getting a new house set up, figuring out school, doctors, etc for the kids, and on and on.

It seemed fairly insurmountable, at least in the foreseeable future for us to be able to adopt, but I still felt strongly that it was what we were supposed to do. So I prayed, a lot, about all the obstacles before us. I had many conversations with God, and I told Him that I was more than willing to adopt, but if it was what he wanted us to do there were a lot of things that He was going to need to take care of for us to be able to do it.

And do you know what? He took care of them, one by one, and in not that long. Jacob was offered a new job that he was excited about. We went on a house-hunting trip for a single day, and were able to find a house that was big enough that we'd have room for additional children but was well within our price range. Even though the market was horrible we managed to sell our house (close on the sale) less than 3 months after we listed it, and we sold it for enough that we were able to get out from under our loan and pay off what we needed to (though we did lose quite a bit on it). But even after losing money on the house and all the expenses associated with moving, we somehow managed to come out at the end of this months-long process with quite a bit in our savings account that we could use to put toward an adoption. It still doesn't completely make sense how it worked out like that, but it did.

In fact, in just a few months God had provided everything I'd told Him we needed -- all except for one thing. The most important thing I needed was for Jacob to also feel like we should be adopting, and that hadn't happened. It was hard not to despair, but I think that's the next part of the story...

Monday, February 27, 2012


I talk (and think) a lot about how we are waiting. Waiting for our home study to be finished. Waiting for fingerprint appointments. Waiting for USCIS approval. Waiting for papers to be submitted to our daughter's country. Waiting for a dossier submission date. Waiting for a travel date. Waiting for our daughter's 5th birthday. The adoption process involves a lot of waiting.

But for me, the waiting, while frustrating, is still just a step. It's something that's necessary in order to bring our daughter home. I can see the bigger picture, I can see the end goal, and I know that waiting, while hard, will get me where I want to be.

The other side of the waiting coin is much worse. It is the children waiting for parents. If you look at adoption websites that's literally what they're called -- "waiting children". They're available for adoption, they want parents, they're simply waiting for someone to choose them. Waiting to be wanted, to be loved, to belong. Unlike me, they have no control over the situation. They can't complete paperwork to move things forward. They have the same end goal I do in this adoption process, but they have no idea if they're ever going to get there. They just have to sit, and wait, and hope. But hope is a scary thing, because what if no one picks them? What if they wait all that time and no one wants them? It's absolutely heartbreaking.

I think it's great to have biological children (as evidenced by the three I've already got, who are awesome!). I think infant adoption is wonderful, giving an important choice to someone who may find themselves unexpectedly pregnant. But I can't imagine much that is better than giving a family to a child who is just waiting and hoping for one. Please, if you've ever thought about it, there are so many children out there, waiting for a family to call their own. Those pictured in the post are all waiting children. There are many more. Here are just a few websites who list them:

Think about the blessing you could be in their lives.

And yes, I know I missed posting yesterday. Oops. And then today's post is late. This is what happens when I don't write the post and schedule it before I go to bed the night before. But I promise a post tomorrow morning! I'm planning on writing the next part of our story, so be looking for that!

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Not me, luckily. But in what seems to be a pattern for all adoptive families, the flu has struck our house. Which is especially annoying because we already had the flu go through once this winter. Two of the three boys have spent the day puking, and my hands are completely chapped from the hundreds of times I've washed them as I try to not catch this while I spend the day cleaning it up. And the point of all of this is to say, don't hold your breath for a real blog post today, because it's not looking likely.

I will leave you with a picture, though.

It's from Halloween, but I think it appropriately expresses the feelings at our house today.

Blog Redesign

To be honest, I'm not in love with the new design. But it's late and I really need to get to bed, so I'm sticking with it for now. It'll probably change again soon, though. And maybe later today I'll have a real post as well, rather than this pathetic excuse for one. :)

*Update* -- I couldn't handle leaving the blog as it was, so I redesigned it yet again. I like this a little better, though it would be even better if I'd sized the header correctly before editing it -- then it wouldn't be so blurry. But that really will have to wait to get fixed, because I'm already up _way_ too late.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Being More Productive

So I'm now on day 11 of my facebook fast. It's been both harder and easier than I thought it would be. It's been easier in that while I like facebook and miss it, I don't have a longing to get back on that I constantly have to fight. It's not _that_ big a deal to be off of it. Except when it is. That's the hard part -- there are a few times when it's been really hard to stay off. When I know friends are hoping for travel dates and I want to see if anyone's gotten any. When I see a blog post about certain kids who someone's met in country, and know they've shared more details on facebook. When I see a post about a friend struggling and know other friends are rallying on facebook to provide support. Those are the things it's hard to stay away from. Hopefully I can remember that when I get back on facebook, and use it sparingly and specifically with those things in mind.

Overall the fast has been good for me, from a self-discipline standpoint if nothing else. I can be very self-disciplined when I put my mind to it, but I don't often decide it's worth the effort, so it's good to remind myself I have it in me. I've also spent less time on the computer, which was part of the point, but I'm still spending more time than I should, and not as productively as I'd hoped. With that in mind, I'm setting a new limit for myself. I have 30 "free" minutes every day to read e-mails, blogs, etc. I do need some down time, and I do need to feel like I can stay connected to friends who are far away. After that, though, if I want to spend time on the computer not working (i.e. paying bills, doing taxes, scheduling doctor appts, etc), first I have to write.

For those who don't know me IRL (probably a lot of you), I write. I write science fiction and fantasy novels. Or at least I try -- I have yet to actually finish one. But I do have well over 100K words written between my various works-in-progress, so it's something I'm fairly serious about. However, lately I pretty much haven't been writing. I was hoping being off of facebook would get me to spend more of that computer time churning out words, but no such luck so far. It's not entirely surprising -- I could barely scratch out a word while pregnant, and this isn't so very different. But it's something I like and enjoy, even if it is hard work, and since it's something I hope to possibly, someday, make a living with, it's something I need to be better about doing every day whether I'm in the mood for it or not.

So for the next two days I have to have 100 words written before I get any more computer play time (really not at all hard, but it's good for me to start small and build up), and the rest of the week I have to have 250 words written. Not that this matters that much to any of you, but publicly declaring it will help keep me honest with myself about actually doing it, so that's what I'm using this space for today. I'm determined to be more productive, and hopefully this will help get me there!

Thursday, February 23, 2012


MFFM is an acronym you see a lot in Reece's Rainbow circles, though it seems pretty unintelligible to anyone else. Nonetheless, it's one of my favorites. You see, it stands for "My Family Found Me". It's a page I check most every day, and I rejoice as I see children who are orphans who now have families committed to adopting them. So imagine my delight yesterday when I checked "MFFM" and saw "Ryland"! I'm so happy that he's going to have a family, and soon. Maybe we'll travel at the same time and get to meet them! Now if we can just get Carolina a family. Oh, and Sam of course! He doesn't have a committed family yet, but there was enough interest that my friend talked to him and asked him if he wanted to be adopted -- he definitely does, so please keep praying for him!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Two Updates and a Waiting Child

1. We got our USCIS fingerprint appointment papers in the mail yesterday! Our appointments are for March 15. I don't want to wait that long, and since it's during Spring Break we'll likely be out of town as well, so I'm hoping we can walk in before that. A friend who lives close to us was able to, so I'm praying we'll be allowed to as well. I'm not sure when we'll try (it depends on Jacob's work schedule), but hopefully next week.

2. A friend who sent their first papers over to EE just after us told me they got a submission date for their dossier (April 19). While I'm _thrilled_ for them, it does make me a little nervous that we haven't heard anything yet. Please, if you're so inclined, say a prayer or send some happy thoughts that there's no problems with our paperwork and that we'll hear back soon.

3. Yesterday another friend posted about a boy who desperately needs a family. He turns 16 in less than 3 months, when he'll become unadoptable. At that point he'll either be sent to a mental institution or be put out on the street. All because he's missing some fingers. As I read his description it reminded me so much of my younger brother, and my heart has been breaking for the last day at the thought of this boy not ever having a family. Please, please, pray for him and share his story. Maybe someone you know needs him in their life. You can learn more about him here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Our Adoption Story Part 1: Reece's Rainbow

I thought our blog readers might like to hear the story of how we came to be adopting. I shared a short version of it on our Family Sponsorship Page, but I'm going to do a series of posts going into a little more detail.

It's been almost a year since I visited Reece's Rainbow at the start of our adoption journey. It wasn't the first time I'd been to the site, but it was the first time in quite a while, and this time was different. This time I was drawn in and couldn't stay away.

Growing up I'd always kind of thought I'd adopt in addition to having biological children, but it was never a conviction or anything, just an idle thought in the back of my mind. After Jacob and I were married he said he wasn't interested in adopting, and I just shrugged and thought, "Well, I guess I won't, then." And that's where it stayed for a long time.

But when I visited Reece's Rainbow again last year it was different. Even though I knew Jacob didn't want to adopt, I couldn't stop looking at all the faces. Even before I saw our daughter's picture, I came back most days and just looked through the pictures. Then one day, a couple of weeks into this, I noticed "Brigitte"'s picture for the first time. I think she'd been there all along, but this was the first day I'd taken particular notice of her as one particular little girl, rather than just one in a long line of pictures. And when I did notice her, I felt it.

It was the same thing I'd felt when I knew I was supposed to marry Jacob, the same thing I'd felt before I got pregnant with each of my boys. It was God very clearly telling me "This is your daughter". After that I was obsessed. I kept her picture up on my computer constantly, and looked at it throughout the day. I read, researched, and talked to people, figuring out what would have to happen for us to bring her home. And more than anything else, I prayed, because I knew unless Jacob decided adopting was a good idea, she would never be mine, no matter what I felt.

That was about 10 months ago, so there's a lot more to the story before we get to where we are now, but that's about all I've got time for tonight. More soon...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Pictures -- the Zoo

I don't have much to say today, so I thought I'd share some pictures with you. These are from our trip to the zoo a few weeks ago. Aren't my boys adorable? I can't wait until their sister's around to join in the fun!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Adoption Progress -- Hoping

I thought I'd give everyone a little update on where our adoption is at. We sent in our forms to USCIS 2 weeks ago tomorrow. We don't have an appointment to get our fingerprints done yet, but most people get those back within a couple of weeks, so hopefully we'll have one soon. I plan to call on Tuesday (since they're not open tomorrow) and see if they can tell me if we have a fingerprint appointment yet.

Once we get the paper with our appointment on it in the mail we'll probably try walking in to the local USCIS office and seeing if they'll do our fingerprints early. They usually aren't busy, and often they'll let you walk in, but not always, so we'll see. Often after you get fingerprints it still takes 4-6 weeks to get approval, but lately a number of people have managed to get an officer assigned quickly and have had their approval in the mail as soon as their fingerprints are done, so I'm hoping we'll be able to do that rather than waiting a month or more. Again, we'll see.

We also sent our first paperwork off to EE at the same time we sent the papers to USCIS. I know they got there. Hopefully they've been translated and submitted to the government there. That would mean we should hear back soon about a date to submit the rest of our paperwork (dossier). That date would probably be about 2 months out.

We have a few more papers to finish for our dossier, but they can easily be done in the 2 months we'll be waiting for our dossier submission date. I'll be starting on the first of those (a different set of fingerprints) at the end of this week.

It's hard to have so much of the process and paperwork out of my hands. I just have to hope (and pray!) that the right papers are going the right places to keep things moving forward. I definitely don't like the waiting. But hopefully we'll have news on both fronts soon!

Saturday, February 18, 2012


This is going to be a pathetic excuse for a post, but well, um, you get what you pay for? The truth is, I have a few ideas of other things I want to write about on this blog, but none of them felt right today. I even started a couple of posts, but just couldn't make them come out right.

So I decided to take a step back today, and ask something of my readers. Do you have any questions? Anything you want to know about adoption (international, special needs, whatever)? Anything you want to know about our process, or our family? Anything else you'd like to see addressed on this blog? Please, ask away! (And give me a few more ideas to get me through this month of blogging every day, please?)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Fatherless Friday 1

My friend Julia runs a series of posts every Friday called "Fatherless Friday", where she talks about some of the orphans who don't have a Mom and Dad working to come get them. Some of those left behind. (I don't know if she came up with this idea, or if she got it from someone else, but I got it from her.) I don't know if I'll always run a "Fatherless Friday" post, but I do want to talk about some of the other orphans who have touched my heart sometimes, and maybe it will be every Friday.

Honestly, there are so many of these little ones that I'm in love with that this post could be about a mile long. But today I want to start by talking about two orphans who are living in the same orphanage as our daughter. Meet Carolina and Ryland:

Carolina is 5.5 and has CP.

Ryland is 5.5 and is HIV+ and has CP.

They are both precious. I have been blessed to be able to connect with a whole group of moms who've adopted from the region our daughter is in. Some of them have met her, and have been able to share pictures and stories. All of them have been able and willing to share information and anything else they can to try to help the orphans they had to leave behind. Some of them have met Carolina and Ryland. I've heard a few sweet stories and seen more pictures of both of these sweeties. I so want them both to find families.

The truth is, right now they are at a pretty good orphanage. An orphanage is far from an ideal place for a child to grow up, but if you had to choose one to live at, this wouldn't be a bad choice. It's a child's home for kids ~4-7. It's not very large, and has a decent number of caregivers who seem to care about the kids there. There are missionaries who visit regularly who bring the kids toys and give them one on one attention. While I wish our daughter was home with us right now, I'm grateful she's in such a good place while she's waiting.

Unfortunately, Ryland and Carolina won't be in this good orphanage much longer. Soon they'll have to leave. If they're lucky, they'll be able to go to the orphanage for older children in their region. It probably has 200 kids, ranging in ages from 6 to 16. The caregiver to child ratio is very low. I have not heard good things about this orphanage, and if they are transferred there they will be the youngest and smallest as well as being physically disabled. It will not be a good life for them, and the director of the orphanage is not very open to adoptions, so there's a decent chance they'd live there until they turn 16 and are put out on the street with nothing. And this is the scenario if they're lucky.

If they're unlucky, the orphanage for typical kids will refuse to take them because of their physical disability. Both Carolina and Ryland can walk and are pretty self-sufficient, but the fact is, in their culture those with physical disabilities are looked down on, seen as less, and often labeled as mentally deficient. If they aren't allowed at the older kids' orphanage they will be transferred to a mental institution. They will likely lose most of their current skills, including their ability to walk, as they will receive no therapy to keep their muscles from tightening. To see what just a few months in a mental institution did to a little one with CP, you can read Laura's blog. Thankfully, Seth is now home with his family, but he has had to regain so much ground that he lost in horrible conditions. I would hate for that to happen to Carolina and Ryland. I hope that their parents find them soon!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My Husband

I could pretty much say anything I want here, as I don't think he ever looks at the blog. Luckily for him, he's a pretty great guy, so there's only good things to say. :) Since I mentioned in my last post that we fought, I thought I'd take the opportunity to explain a little more, both about the fight, and about my awesome husband in general.

While Jacob and I have a lot of fundamental things in common (we're both white, middle-class, college-educated, Mormon, etc.) it turns out we're pretty different. As in, it's probably a good thing we didn't live near each other until just before we were married, or we probably would never have managed to get married kind of different. We agree on pretty much nothing. I suppose it shouldn't surprise me too much, since our first conversation ended in an hour long debate about whether the US should have dropped the atom bomb. So fighting for us is fairly common. Luckily we're both also willing to talk things out, work things out, fix the problems and move on. And we tend to balance each other pretty well. He stresses out and I'm able to keep calmer and more laid back. I tend toward laziness and his work ethic kicks me into gear and makes me get things done. He tends toward too much control over things, I tend toward too little, and we meet in the middle at a pretty happy medium for all involved.

One difference that's really come into play during the adoption process is the fact that I tend to start with decisions and then make the plan as to how to get to the desired outcome, whereas he tends to explore various plans and then make a decision based on which one he think will work. An example: how we chose our college majors. When my sister was a college freshman and home on break she talked about taking an anthropology class. I thought, "Hmm, anthropology, I think maybe I should major in that. I should probably figure out what exactly it is." So I did my research about what it was, what it would involve, which schools had good programs, what I could do with it after I graduated, etc. But I stuck with that initial, spur-of-the-moment, lightning-fast decision. Those are kind of my forte. On the other hand, Jacob considered what he wanted to do when he graduated from college (most important: be able to support a family), so he researched salaries of graduates of different programs, weighed their pros and cons, considered which he would be good at, etc, and decided to go into electrical engineering. So, me: decision, then research; Jacob: research, then decision.

I think my method is much easier when considering an international adoption. I decided nearly a year ago that it was something I wanted to do, and that I felt I should do, so since then I haven't ever questioned it. I've spent a lot of time researching what it will involve, possible pitfalls, the steps needed, etc, but only so I'll know what I need to do, not to try to decide whether or not I should do it. Jacob, on the other hand, researches the steps involved, the possible pitfalls, the unknowns, the constantly changing rules and processes, and says, "Do we really think we can do this?" Honestly, if you look at it empirically the answer is probably "No". There are so many problems, from how we can afford this to who will watch our children for the insane length of time we'll be gone, how he'll take that much time off work and not be so far behind he'll never catch up, how we're all going to adjust to the huge changes in our lives, how we'll have time to meet all of the special needs of all the kids, etc, etc. Logically, it makes no sense, and every time Jacob tries to figure out how it will really work he comes up against that fact.

Jacob is wonderful, awesome, and amazing for so many reasons, but lately the biggest one is his willingness to go forward in the face of all the reasons it won't work, all the reasons it shouldn't work, and all the extra work and stress it's going to add to his life. He's prayed often for revelation about what our path should be, but hasn't received any. In spite of that, he's willing to trust me, trust my certainty, and trust my revelation that this is the path we should be following. I'm not entirely certain I'd have that much faith in him, and today, that's the reason I love him the most.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

30 days

I've been contemplating for a while doing a 30 day blog challenge, and trying to write every day for a month. I'd decided on Sunday that I should do it, and that I should start this week. Then on Monday night Jacob and I were talking about things and ... well, okay, we were fighting. We're both kind of stressed out right now (Jacob especially), and with frayed nerves our tempers flared and, well, it wasn't very nice. So I knelt down, crying, and poured my heart out to God. I asked for help in a number of areas, but I also asked what I could do. What can _I_ do to make this situation better? I don't know, so please let me know how I can help things. A lot of my questions and pleading went unanswered (at least for now), but one thing I felt strongly was that I should fast from facebook. For 30 days.

Now, any of you who know me at all know that this is a _big_ _deal_. I spend a lot of time online, and particularly on facebook. It's where I have support groups for adoption and various other things. It's how I commiserate with others going through the same things, and it's where I ask for advice. More than that, with the amount we move around, it's how I stay connected to most of my friends, and many of my family members as well. The thought of not getting on facebook for a month nearly had me in tears again.

But, I asked God for help, and I'd specifically asked what I could do to help things, and when I ask for revelation and then get some, I feel rather obligated to listen to it (especially if I want to receive any more!). So I got back on facebook long enough to set up a few things and tell everyone I was taking a break (and post my e-mail address so people would know how to get a hold of me, since facebook is generally the best method to reach me), and then I shut it down. I'm on my second day of the facebook fast, and so far it's easier than I thought it would be. I guess maybe if it's something God wants me to do He's willing to help me do it.

Also, maybe this is just what I needed to get this 30 day blogging challenge off the ground. After all, I need somewhere to share my thoughts, and if facebook is unavailable... So, stay tuned over the next month for a post every day! And since my usual computer/blogging time is after a lot of my friends go to sleep, I'm going to try to stay a day ahead, and write the posts at night to post mid-day. So keep an eye out for them! Hopefully you can all help me make it through the next month, and hopefully this will help my marriage, my husband's job, and our adoption process!

Saturday, February 11, 2012


So, I'll admit it. I'm a terrible blogger. There's a reason why I've pretty much stuck to group blogs before this: then when I don't post for an entire year (true story) there are others around to pick up my slack. Not so much here, so I'm determined to be better. Don't get your hopes up too high; I doubt I'll be able to change my stripes overnight. But I promise to be better! (Okay, so that's not too hard, considering I only posted once in the entire month of January. One more post this month and I'll already be doing better!)

With that said, let me update you on our progress! We've made it from the "New Commitments" page on Reece's Rainbow, through the "Homestudy in Progress" page, and are onto "Compiling Dossier". That's right -- our home study is done! The kids and I went down to the TX Secretary of State on Monday and got it (and a lot of other documents) apostilled. We sent the home study off to USCIS with our application to adopt a foreign citizen, and we sent our first paperwork of to EE to get submitted to the government there! It's kind of crazy how excited I was to know that the papers I had in my hand just a couple of days before had arrived in the same country as my daughter!

We still have a few more papers to prepare for our dossier, and then we wait for USCIS approval. I have a lot I've been wanting to say about the adoption process, our daughter, our families, and all sorts of other things, so I promise I'll post again soon!