Monday, August 30, 2010

BBQ & Adoption

I was so busy having fun last night that I totally neglected my camera. Here's one shot that Ryan took last night of our wild-haired beauty. It doesn't speak much for the group we had, so I'm hoping that Kerry took some better pictures.
Since we're in the Kansas City area staying with the Dietz Family, Shonda had a great idea of hosting a little BBQ. Several families were invited, food was prepared, the slip-n-slide was rolled out, and people starting showing up. The little BBQ quickly became 50 people or more. It was a blast!
I was able to meet and socialize with several families. It great to meet and chat with Erin (and her adorable little boy from Columbia), Martha, Wausann (originally from Ethiopia and has adopted two children from Ethiopia), Mary and her sweet girls, and a few Ethiopian college ladies. I'm sure I'm missing a few. It was also great to connect up with Kerry who was in (the wonderful) travel group 8 as well as a few of Ryan's vet school buddies who were in town for the same conference Ryan's here for. One of Ryan's vet buddies, Denise, also happens to have a connection with Ethiopia as she recently returned from there after 7-ish years of being a veterinary missionary. It was cool to hear her talking in Amharic to the Ethiopian ladies (I missed it but heard about it second hand).
I'm looking forward to another gathering. Hopefully this time, I can also meet up with Lindsie and Tesi and a few others. Late October anyone???

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Didn't you Hear Me

Why is it that I can remind Judah numerous times that he should pee in the potty. He can even tell us where he should potty. Yet the child still has multiple accidents a day. Lovely. He has yet to tell me that he has to go or get on the toilet himself (which he can do). And then I read on Sarah's facebook that her 16 month old is using the potty. Oh children, please be "normal" and use the potty!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Home 3 Months Now

Grace based parenting is the key. No, grace based living would be more accurate. It has been a key factor in the last 3 months.

Judah is full of personality. We see lots of emotion from him. Sometimes it’s more emotion than we care to see and other times he’s hiding the emotion. His overuse of the word “owie” is hopefully an emotional connection of someone fixing his hurt, of trusting us to care for his little “owie”. Watching Judah laugh is such fun. His bright smile lightens up the room and is contagious with the rest of us. Judah can use 3-4 word sentences on a regular basis and its fun to see his language improve. He loves to brush his teeth which compliments his gorgeous smile. He jumps through the house like a bunny, runs like a wild man and lately is attached to the CuriousGeorge puppet. He’s successfully learning to let go of objects that act like a security blanket. Watching Judah’s relationships with each of his siblings is an answer to prayer.

All this to say that things are going well. But let me also say that life isn’t perfect in this house. That the reason grace based living is essential in this house.

Judah’s personality is also full of stubbornness. Though he clearly can use 3-4 word sentences, he will not string two words together when asked to say simple things like “yes mommy” or “juice please”. I’m also stubborn and these moments are a good test in patience. He’s also pooped four times in his pull-up in the last two days. He knows to poop in the toilet so this is another test of patience and a time requiring some grace. There are times that he gets mad and won’t make eye contact with me. Upon request, Judah will make eye contact for one second before his eyes veer off. When asked questions he normally says yes to (like do you love momma), he says no. He’s a stinker like that. I sometimes ask him four or more time to see if his answer will change. It doesn’t.

I’m by no means a perfect parent. I continue to struggle with knowing the appropriate training and discipline. Does he understand my request? How was he trained and disciplined by his birth family? By the orphanage? It is often my prayer that I will offer grace like God gives me grace. And that God would continue to give me grace in this whole parenting thing. I take seriously that its my responsibility to raise my children in a manner that is pleasing to God and also to raise them as responsible citizens.

So we’ve been home three months and things are going well as we all continue to offer grace. That goes for everyone in our family. When we forget that important little detail, things don’t go so smoothly. As we continue to adjust to each other, the adjustment involves everyone in the family. I’m looking forward to see how things look another month and three months from now.

pictures for birthmom

Good info from Holt on sending pics to a birth parent:

Please label each photo with the adoptee's birth name and Holt ID number only, along with a little note saying these are for the birth mother. Please do not use your child's American name. Photos printed on 8 ½ by 11 inch photo paper, several to a page, is the ideal method, but loose photos are also acceptable (please limit the number of photos to 5-10 when possible).


I hadn't read the info anywhere so I emailed Jenn in Eugene.  I should have asked before I wrote his name and cut the pics out of the cardstock!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Charity Water

I've seen the banner's multiple times. I saw it on the Johnson's blog and didn't take the time to read what it was about. I've seen the words "charity: water" many times and not given it much thought or attention. This week, I can't get it out of my mind. It's such a simple yet complex thing.

For approximately $5,000 a well can be dug that would offer clean water to a community. I can't put into words what this would be worth to a community. However, I do know that I saw the need with my own eyes when we were in Ethiopia. I saw the women and children walking with their yellow jugs (40 lbs when full) to the nearest source of water. I saw them dip the jug into dirty, gross water that you and I wouldn't swim in and carry it home. I saw the women and children bathing in the disease infested water just down stream from where the livestock were drinking. It broke my heart. The images are etched into my mind and bring sadness to my heart. These kids have such potential. They could be teachers, doctors, missionaries. Yet, they may not reach maturity because the unsafe water they drink has e-coli, salmonella, cholera and Hepatitis A.

Today during lunch I was checking out Charity: Water's website. Oh, that's where all those images have come from that I've seen on people's blogs and other places. I was blown away by the work they're doing. I haven't been able to get it out of my mind ALL afternoon.

Did you know that 100% of their donations go directly towards the projects. That's amazing.

I've been thinking a lot lately about how I can get involved. I feel this tug on my heart to go back to Ethiopia and do ministry. After all Ryan and I are trained and educated in a variety of things that can be useful there (veterinary medicine, conservation, gardening, etc). After reading through this today, I'm thinking that this would be a good start. I went to the charity: water website and looked at where in Ethiopia wells have already been dug. Some in the South, but none near where my child is from. None near the Schinschico Hospital (a place that serves LOTS of people in the South). Wouldn't it be cool to see a well go in near the hospital to provide clean water for them and the nearby community members.

I won't be forgetting this anytime soon. Don't be surprised if I try to pull you in so that you too can play a part in providing clean water to a family that desperately needs it.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Post-Adoption Visit #2

We just had our second post-adoption home visit with our social worker. I’ve got varying opinions on that in itself but that’s not the point of this post. I learned from this visit that two months ago I mailed our SW the report and pictures that I didn’t have ready the day he was here for our first visit and it didn’t show up at his house until a week ago. Seriously? What’s up with that? That explains why this week the staff from the Midwest office called to explain that two of the pictures weren’t appropriate. I wondered why it was taking them 2 months to deal with that issue. So today when I was missing the family picture (because we don’t have any recent family pics) and my SW told me to mail it to him, I was a little apprehensive. Do you think that if I put it in the mail tomorrow, it will show up on Friday like it should or in October sometime?

This brief post makes me think of two other things I’d like to post about:
1. The differences between Holt social workers
2. The pre-adoption education and post-adoption services offered by Holt staff.
Keep a look out for those topics.

Birth parent connection

Picture this: sitting in a birth parent meeting watching your son’s beautiful birth mother dictate a letter. As you listen to a language you can’t understand, you can’t help to notice her beautiful features and wonder if her son, our son, has her amazing cheek bones. As she finishes dictating and the Wolytinga translator finishes writing, the letter is handed to another translator. The Wolytinga text is translated into Amharic and then into English as the translator shares the letter with us. Imagine our surprise when we realize the letter was dictated to us, not our shared son. We are so thankful for the letter and clarify that we’d like a letter to our son. Our sweet and quiet birth mother dictates a second letter while the clock continues to click. As they finish Judah’s letter, time has run short and we’re told by our translator that he’ll translate it later.

The “later” came multiple times. However we didn’t have the letter with us at supper. Because I was hanging on to that letter with dear life (aka had it pressed in between pages of my journal), we weren’t carrying the letter around with us. Fortunately one of the nurses on the Holt staff back in Addis understood Wolytinga. Tesfaye volunteered to take the letter home with him and bring it back in the morning. I was apprehensive and not as trusting as my husband but let him take the letter. We were in Ethiopia so it wasn’t like we could run to the copy machine and give him a copy either.

Before you read on, imagine how touched we were when we read the words of Judah’s birth mom. How cool it is to be able to offer that letter to Judah as he grows up and wants a connection to a lady who brought him into this world and then sadly had to give him up.

The next morning, our last day in Ethiopia, Tesfaye had a family emergency and didn’t make it to work. I was devastated but Tesfaye assured us that he would bring it by later or send it in the mail.

Again, as we think about the value of that letter, we’re just thankful to have it, even if we don’t get to read it for another few hours. We’re thankful to the Holt staff who are willing to take it home and translate it on their own time.

The letter didn’t make it back to the orphanage. In fact, we left Ethiopia without the letter. We arrived back in the states and began adjusting to life although we didn’t forget about the letter. Just recently, almost 3 months after being home and no news of the letter, I sent an email inquiry. Almost immediately, the Holt Eugene staff forwarded the inquiry to the Holt Ethiopia staff. The response I received was crushing. Holt staff informed me that Tesfaye no longer worked for Holt. They managed to contact him by phone and he said he LOST the letter. I couldn’t believe it!

The more I think about it, the more frustrated I am. Why didn’t the man return the letter the next day? He worked with the orphans. How did he not understand the value of that letter - Judah's connection to his birth mom? I also fully understand that I played a role in that. I could have emailed Holt right after returning home to ask about the letter. Why didn’t I value that letter more and assure that we got it back?

Now I know. I know the value of the letter. I know to not leave in the hands of Holt staff. I’ve also learned recently that not all staff are employed by Holt. I still don’t understand that one. I have since emailed Holt asking them to educate families so this doesn’t happen again. Hopefully other families will ask the birth mom to dictate a letter. And hopefully other families won’t have to imagine what the letter says because it will be translated to English and shared with their children!