Choosing Public School(s) and Humble Pie, Plus FACE LAMP

 

BOTH BOYS ARE IN SCHOOOOOOOL!

After 2 weeks of back and forth between Kaiser and EWCSD, much wailing and gnashing of teeth, paperwork shuffling and finally caving in to stick our child with YET ANOTHER unnecessary needle, Jude has been deemed TB free (on 4 separate occasions, by the way) and allowed to enter the illustrious public school system. All that could be said about that process aside, I am at peace with the choice to have them both in the public classroom setting.

Before they came home, I was not at peace with this choice. It seemed like doing so would be weakness somehow, or that it was unfair to bring children out of institutional settings and then place them in an institutional setting for 6 hours a day. But then, we met our children, found out that they enjoy learning in a classroom, and discovered that they need to relearn how to interact in social settings with their peers. Runner up reason for coming to peace with this is that everyone in this house gets along better with a break from each other and school is that break right now. I would love for homeschooling to be an option for us in the future. Perhaps it will be. In the mean time, humble pie for thinking I was mentally prepared for homeschooling, or that I could have possibly known in advance what would best suit our family make-up, or that any one option is “the right option” for everyone.

In unrelated news. Most of you are too kind to ask why there is a bruised, scraped, lump on my forehead. For this reason (and so that perhaps you can have a laugh at my expense today), I shall share.

The boys were hiding under one of Jason’s ten-trillion pillows yesterday morning (if you can’t see their eyes, they have achieved invisibility),  when I decided to pick up said pillow and give them a sound down beating. They giggled as I raised the pillow above my head, until suddenly, we heard a clang and a thump…

Home-Alone-GIF-014as the track lighting above our bed detached from the ceiling and swung down by the electrical wiring. The arc of travel was such that the farthermost lampshade connected splendidly with my forehead and sent me reeling into the dresser. The good news is that the plastic ring around the edge of the razor-metal lampshade cushioned the blow by smashing into several pieces against my face. The bad news is that the plastic ring around the edge of the razor-metal lampshade cushioned the blow by smashing into several pieces against my face.

The boys, surrounded by a snowlike drift of popcorn ceiling, were first shocked into silence and then rejoiced at the Home Alone scene I had just reenacted for them. I, too, first stared blankly at the dangling track lighting (read: bloodthirsty murder weapon) and then laughed, because head trauma.

Have a lovely day, friends!

 

 

Advertisements

3 Weeks (and 9 Months) Later: Our Family of 4 in Other People’s Words

Hi friends.

We are exhausted. Jason and me, yes, but also our boys. The stretching and learning and living as a family has definitely pushed back any misconceptions that the “honeymoon” will last any longer than it (debatably) already has. Patience is short, gratitude is frayed, and Jason and I are being carried/dragged along by the grace of God. BUT.

BUT.

In SO many ways, things are great and better than expected. There have been so many unwarranted mercies shown to our foursome that we can’t complain for long about the hard parts without falling back on every promise kept and every miracle displayed.  It is a tired, tired place to be, but it is completely worthwhile. However, a tired mind’s word dump does not make for great reading, so without further ado, words by other people that basically sum up a lot of our experience right now:

Your sweet one is grieving. This is sorrow and loss and fear and trauma; it is visceral. It is devastating. You and your spouse are haunted, unshowered, unhinged, unmoored. You stare into each other’s eyes, begging the other one to fix this: What have we done? What are we doing? What are we going to do?

This is a messy, new life for all of us

I’m going to go back forever…

Dealing with the pain

Next Year, Lord Willing

 

Lord willing, next year:

  •  Our family of four will be on the same continent, at the same time.
  • Both adoptions will be finalized in US courts.
  • We will find a new normal.
  • We won’t forget the amazing lessons we’ve been taught this year.
  • Our time in the word and time spent reaching out will remain consistent and fruitful.
  • We will be able to transition from receiving so much support to coordinating/providing support to others.
  • We will have some respite from the adoption process.
  • God will make clear to us where we ought to expend our energy.
  • Thanks and joy will outweigh all else, even in the midst of what will undoubtedly be a tumultuous period of transition.

Lord willing.

Thank you for walking with us through 2014 in prayer and in so many other ways. We are truly grateful for you and we pray that your 2015 will lead you closer to Him.

The Lord is in the Details :: Merry Christmas!

May I take a moment to reflect publicly on how amazing God’s timing is?

When we decided to grow our family through adoption, we had no idea what the outcome would look like. Jumping in to the application process we didn’t even know if we would be accepted, thought we would be ready for a child around 3 years old (HA!), and thought we might become parents quickly. We really had no idea. Before that date we would not have been prepared for what lie ahead (not that we necessarily are now, but I think you know what I mean), and after that date we would have missed the time-constraint-boat on both of our sons. I don’t know how to organize this post so that the absolutely incredible timing and circumstances are done justice.

Let’s start here. When we heard about the hosting opportunity for J.V. last December, we were able to accept for three reasons: 1) The hosting was paid for. We only needed to open our home, 2) A (now)friend from church happened to be in the hosting know-how and heard about his availability, and 3) Our home study was complete for a child his age and recently renewed because we were still waiting for a travel date to pick up J.

When J.V. left, we submitted an inquiry to find out if he was registered for adoption in Ukraine, all the while thinking we were doing this for the purpose of finding a family for him. When the information arrived that he was available, there were several things that needed to be true in order for us to become that family: 1) He would need to be available AFTER we had brought home J and AFTER our post-placement visits were complete, 2) Our placing agency would have to have no rule against adopting in such quick succession, 3) Our home study agency would have to have no rule against having two adoptions processing at the same time, 4) Our social worker would need to approve a second child arriving in the home so quickly, and 5) Both adoptions would need to be carried out in a way that would not break the rules of either of the boys’ home countries. Apparently, most placing and home study agencies have policies that restrict adopting like this. Also, the odds of coordinating the dossier and home study timings to work out perfectly with the expiration dates and travel dates and post placement visits and adjusting as a family are just crazy unlikely. Keep in mind, we started the process for J in 2011 and that makes it all the more crazy that the things I am talking about all played out during the final year. Additionally, if we were not part of such a prayerful, helpful, knowledgeable local Church body, adopting two older children in this fashion would have probably been impossible.

But, the rough timeline estimates worked out for both boys, and our agencies didn’t have prohibiting policies, so we proceeded, and both sets of paperwork were completed well without interfering with each other. We were able to bring J home, complete and mail off a dossier, complete post-placement reports (even one that took place in between Jason’s trips out of country for J.V.) and by the grace of God and your generosity, somehow paid for/survived the whole thing. We found out that the finalization paperwork for J arrived the week before J.V. officially became a Camorlinga exactly one year after we met him. Even more, J is THRILLED to have a brother, and has been a champion with the best of us for bringing J.V. home. This year has felt like a puzzle with all of the pieces falling exactly into place in ways we didn’t foresee (and often with unfavorable odds); it is very clear to us that we were not assembling this puzzle.

There were moments where both adoptions seemed as if they would fail. Remember the time we were initially rejected for J? Remember the time it seemed J.V. was being kept from our home? The story that is being told is one of incredible redemption and we are SO blessed to be witnesses to it. God has been good to us. The “happy coincidences” are far too perfect to be only that. There are beautiful details (J’s best friend was adopted this year as well by a family in the US and he also has a brother with J.V.’s first name! What?!), answers to prayers, and through the stress and the paperwork and the ungratefulness that I am prone to, I can see God’s hand lovingly fitting each puzzle piece snuggly together. It isn’t easy, but it is beautiful.

This is the point I really want to make:  Isn’t it amazing that the God of all creation condescended Himself to become a human child, to enter into human history at an exact point that would enable word of His life to spread throughout the earth, to live a sinless life and die on the cross so that all who believe in Him will be forgiven and have eternal life? This triune God is a God of details and love and redemption and JOY and may we remember that on Christmas day. May we turn our eyes outward and upward and rediscover the amazing amount of detail and preparation and glorious execution of His almighty plans. Lord, remind us through our own stories to hold in high esteem the INCREDIBLE story that You have written, beginning in the garden and echoing throughout eternity before Your throne.

Merry (( ISN’T IT INCREDIBLE?! )) Christmas.

Countdown to School: 7 days!

In 7 days, James starts 1st grade. He is excited, but I think I might have a stroke. To have spent such a long time waiting to have him home, safe, in a predictable, nurturing environment, only to then have to send him into the unknown under the care of who knows who, around who knows who, for the better part of his weekdays… I might be freaking out a little. This is largely because I remember my public school days and how questionable many of my teachers and influences were, but also because we are in a poorly performing district and our transfer attempts have not panned out. It isn’t the end of the world, but in the moment, it feels that way. Once Jude is home and we aren’t worrying about adoption costs, I look forward to not relying on public education. You’re all allowed to laugh at us when we find out there is a 3rd child in our near future.

Our second post-placement meeting was yesterday morning and went well. One more meeting in October before we can finalize the adoption and make things totally official. So close!

In Ukraine news, it turns out that one of the notarized documents in our dossier (which is in Ukraine now) was incorrect, so Jason will be resigning, re-notarizing, and returning to have a new apostille seal placed on the document. Thank goodness it is only one document, and thank goodness we still seem to be in good shape for meeting our Jason-travels-in-October goal. No new information about our boy, but we are trusting in the One that put him in our life.

Speaking of children that, according to many people, may as well have just been forcibly removed from their mother’s womb (How’s that for a seque?). I’m sick of hearing about it. Here is a great article exploring why you don’t have the right to murder a child REGARDLESS of where the child is in relation to your body or how large or small or dependent upon you they may be.

http://valleygirlapologist.blogspot.com/2013/11/identity-theft_4.html

Psalm 43 – I shall again praise Him

I’m thankful that we were able to spend time with many loved ones during this past week. There were great moments of peace, connection and celebration, and many firsts – first Independence Day, first birthday together as a family, first piñata, first movie theater outing, first successful bike pedaling – took place. There were also many moments that demonstrated how well our family seems to have been matched, how faithful God was to prepare James’ heart for this change, and how much progress has been made in a short period of time.

“Vindicate me, O God, and plead my case against an ungodly nation;
O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man!
For You are the God of my strength; why have You rejected me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

Time has been moving slowly since the missed reunion date. Not only that, but as we wait and pray and aim for normalcy, difficulty seems to be mounting. We are clinging to hope, and as we do so, potshots to our health and thoughts and household increase. God doesn’t forget or reject His children, but in the frustrated and sorrowful moments it is easy to project my own weakness onto Him.

O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me;
Let them bring me to Your holy hill
And to Your dwelling places.
Then I will go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy;
And upon the lyre I shall praise You, O God, my God.

The funny thing about the potshots is that they aren’t innovative efforts from the enemy. They are the same old tactics that we and every other believer have experienced at some point between salvation and glorification. I can practically HEAR Screwtape’s voice. So, we remain confident and can say, albeit weakly at times, “I shall praise You, O God, my God.” (And for this, AS I typed this, one of the very things that I am referring to occurred.) “I shall praise You, O God, my God.”

Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why are you disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.”

Psalm 43

Our own journey as a family is fueling this post, yes, but so are the stories we are hearing from other families: people being terrible to people, bodies decaying in the aftermath of sin, apathy breeding suffering, relief remaining distant. It is normal for people who are clinging to God to find a target painted on their back, so I’ll just remind my soul – and perhaps your soul, too – like the psalmist:

Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him.

2 Months Together and Other News

Today is our two month mark as a family. Over the last week, our comfort level with each other has increased, James has started initiating affectionate interaction, and communication has taken several big steps forward. There was a period of time where he was soaking in English but not spitting much back out, but now he is taking risks, using new word combinations and even daring to willingly speak to other people. There was also a period of time during which, when asked, he would say that he did not enjoy being in a family, but now he says he does. He has explored the possibilities of throwing a fit and saying ‘no’ to EVERYTHING. Now we are in a phase of lying and hiding the evidence and that is fun for everyone (insert sarcastic ‘not-so-much’ face). At the end of the day, it is clear that our prayers asking the Lord to prepare his heart for this transition have been answered. Our son’s sensory, emotional and physical abilities are shockingly typical in most ways, the result of a less-traumatic-than-it-could-have-been childhood, and I am very grateful for the women that cared for him in Thailand. I hope that reading about the progress made in such a short amount of time will be encouraging to those who are waiting for their children. Reading other people’s blogs and books has been so helpful for me!

As you may know, in 9 days, Jude will be visiting America. The three of us are very excited for this time, though we know that it will introduce a new dynamic to the still fresh family bond, so we will trust that the God who has brought us safe thus far will continue to lead the way. When Jude goes home after the visit, we will have time to regroup, assess, and prepare ourselves for the future.

In related news, LifeSong approved a matching grant for our family AS WELL AS a project with Both Hands! Simply put, if we can raise $4000, they will match it dollar for dollar. We have some creative ideas in mind, but those can wait for another post 🙂

 

10 Things We’ve Learned from Parenting our Adopted Child(ren)

We are 5 weeks into full-blown parenthood, and our brains are finally functioning at about 70%, so we figured it is time to post an update. We’ll keep it short and sweet and itemized.

  1. Never assume that a child of any age already knows how to properly use toilet paper.
  2. It isn’t easy to teach a child the skills needed to calm down when your last nerve snapped an hour ago.
  3. The terrible twos can happen at any age.
  4. It’s always a good time to dance around naked when you’re 6 years old.
  5. Poop jokes are universally hilarious (We may have already known this).
  6. Socks and closed toed shoes are torture devices begotten by the bogey man.
  7. We should have thought more carefully about the first words we taught our child. Let’s just say Jason jokingly taught “kick-u” and “punch-u” instead of kick and punch, and James continues to use them most often.
  8. Overhearing your child quietly praying independently for the first time is shocking and encouraging. “Thank you, God. Food, cat, James, Amen.” Thank you, God, indeed.
  9. You will never ever again have to wonder “Gee, what are the cats doing?” Your child will give you comprehensive play by plays that would make any sportscaster hand in their letter of resignation.
  10. It is difficult to remember that the angry, defiant child is actually a sad/scared/confused child who knows no other way to express himself and requires comfort instead of punishment. This is completely against our nature, but responding properly has beautiful results.

Bonus: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom may have been penned by the devil (Not really, but amIright? “Flip flop flee?”).

We read several adoptive parenting books before diving in, and they prepared us for (or at least made us aware of) quite a few of the adoption related behaviors and milestones that potentially await(ed) us.

Is there anything that you would add to the list?

 

 

 

 

Summer Surprise – Hosting Part 2

We had a big, last minute decision to make.

When we discussed possibly hosting JV again, Jason and I thought we were told that he would not be available during the summer. This was good for us, as we looked ahead at the prospect of another international adoption, and as we braced ourselves for the adjustment period with James. But then, we received an email from the hosting agency confirming whether we did or did not want to host JV. That’s when we realized it was actually an option and that we had a hard choice to make (in one day).

The cons, as I saw them:

  • James is still adjusting and we are all still getting to know each other.
  • Saving for the adoption(s) is already a task.
  • This could be disorienting to have James experience being an only child, brother, only child, brother in just a few short months.

But the pros:

  • Ukraine is a hot mess right now. There is the (Lord forbid it) possibility that this might be THE chance to see JV again.
  • The boys will get to meet and we will get to love them both together for at least a short while.
  • JV will get to see his friends and family over here again and not be sent to a camp for the summer.

So we prayed, and we asked you to pray, and we asked for clear discernment and leading. We are so grateful to those of you who offered your encouragement, advice and support. Your responses were answers to our prayer, and ultimately money should not stop us from doing what feels and seems to be what we are being called to. My faith is so much smaller than I would like, or would like to think. The entire story with JV has been propelled forward by choices and people beyond our control…

And so it continues. He will be joining us all again for July(ish). Now we will pray that we can see and rejoice in God’s hand in our lives, that we are as grateful as we ought to be to Him and to you for your love and kindness, that JV is as thrilled about this new development as we are, and that James would be prepared to meet him. We are also waiting to hear back from Lifesong about a possible matching grant that would be an amazing way to double the worth of folks’ donations! Thank you for joining us during this crazy, but beautiful time.

My prayer tonight:

Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.”