Real World Problems: My Head is Stuck Up My Backside

I was going to write a light-hearted post about how the last two weeks of school have gone for James, about witty remarks and so on, but then I realized, as I typed on my MacBook Pro in the comfort of my furnished home, with clean drinking water at my right hand, a gainfully employed and loving husband at my left, a full stomach and a leisurely 3 day weekend awaiting in the morning, that that isn’t what we need to be talking about.

Don’t misunderstand me, orphan care is IMPORTANT, and that our child is learning to thrive and receive love and know what it means to have absolute loss redeemed into something wonderful is A MIRACLE. God’s hand is ALL OVER the hot mess that is now our family dynamic, and there is certainly a time and place for the day to day to be shared.

But right now, there is some unacceptable, disgusting, horrible STUFF going on in the world, and I am all too aware of how my very life style laughs in the face of that reality.

Children are being horribly abused in orphanages and homes around the world, but I daily give more thought to whether a cow led a satisfactory life before it became my burger (animals > people). Men and women are being slaughtered around the world for their beliefs, but OH MY GOSH did you see who just dumped clean drinking water on their head for that disease that—OOOH there’s a fail compilation (entertainment > human life). There are coups and incursions and kidnappings and hate crimes and famines and outbreaks but WHY can’t a person CRAP in the clean, convenient lavatory of THEIR choosing, gender be damned (.3% of the US population >the rest of the world)? WHY can’t I check Facebook messages on my PHONE anymore? WHY doesn’t everyone else think Battlestar Gallactica is the best show ever? WHY are our biggest first-world concerns often about drivel?

I spend my time and effort worrying about animals and things and passing garbage instead of PEOPLE and loving Christ. Sure, people and Jesus are way up there on my list, but they are nowhere near as close to the top as they ought to be. And sure, animals and other things are important to varying degrees, but shouldn’t human beings be higher on the “give-a-rats” chain? Why in the WORLD does this not bother me THIS much ALL of the time?

Next time I am spending my time and resources on nonsense that doesn’t eternally matter in such a way that it leaves less room for the important things, I pray that you will call me out. Brothers and sisters (if you are a believer, I’m talking to you), we need to call each other out. We need to daily wrangle our petty desires and make them subservient to our greater purpose. I don’t know exactly how to make this work, or how to stir others to join me in actively rising to the occasion, but I am sure that by listening to the older and wiser, spending more time in the Word and in active prayer, God will work this thing out in us. I am terrified of reaching the end of my days and knowing in my heart that I could have done more, I should have done more, and I didn’t.

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ Matt. 25:23

Have I been good and faithful??

Working hard and getting it right won’t secure my place in heaven; that is simply not how it works. Jesus already paid the price and only by believing in Him can any one of us be reckoned as righteous. So this intense desire and fear is not driven by the misconception that I must or can earn my way, but rather by the depth of the gratitude that I feel for being pulled from the pit when I was still utterly sinful and wretched. How can I waste such a beautiful gift, the MOST beautiful gift, by holding it to my chest and focusing my eyes on minutia? This is what must be shared with the hurting, the misled, the angry, the hateful, the sorrowful, the broken and the weak; that our hope is built on something far greater, something far lovelier and something far more just than anything found on the earth. Are we sharing that?

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'” Luke 18:13

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 🙂

 

The Shoe & Clothing Fundraiser is Complete!

Thank you to everyone who collected and hauled and spread the word and sorted and generally supported us through the fundraiser! Thank you, Jennifer, for making it happen, and thank you, Wrights, for allowing us to fill up your garage! Thanks to this shoe/clothing/toy drive, Thirty-One party, and several generous donations, we are nearing the half way mark of what is needed for the adoption. That. Is. Wonderful. We are feeling called to do this crazy thing, and you’re all crazy right alongside us. That is beyond wonderful.

Here are some photos from the final sorting and pickup day:

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Happy (Birth and Otherwise) Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to the mothers with birth children,

to the mothers with adopted children, and

to the birthmothers who chose life for their children.

Happy Mother’s Day to the mothers that love their families well and teach their children to love well.

Happy Mother’s Day to the mothers and all other women who honor Christ with their faithful lives.

This is a bittersweet Mother’s Day in the Camorlinga house. It is the first such day without my mom (in fact, the last time I spoke to her was on Mother’s Day last year), and it is the first day as a living-it-out mama to our child.

Thankful for the beautiful examples of motherhood that we know, thankful for a mother that raised me well, thankful for a mother (in law) that loves me like I’m her own, and thankful for James’ birthmother, who protected him in her womb and made him cute, and who I look forward to one day thanking in person.

Bringing James Home: What’s the Game Plan?

Hi friends! We will be flying back home with James into LAX on the 27th at 6:05 p.m. (assuming all goes as planned in country). Some folks are planning on being there to meet us, and though we can’t guarantee we will be at our best (20 hours in the air, yo), we would love to see you there before we go into semi-hiding if that’s the sort of thing you’d like to do.  🙂

In the last post, I mentioned that a few of you have asked if we would give you a heads up about  things to expect during the first few months and mention some areas where we will appreciate your understanding. Thank you for asking. Jason and I would just like to help temper some expectations and make sure we are clear about all of this being for James’ benefit and for the sake of helping make his transition into our culture (and America, and a family, and a new language, and new food, and new friends, and new routines, and you get the idea) as painless as possible. Praying for guidance on how best to do this.

Soooo, these are really helpful articles:

This article is just practical. I have tried to keep these things in mind when I’ve met other folks’ recently adopted children. I’ve definitely screwed up and said things that weren’t tactful, but the parents were gracious and we intend to be gracious, too. Okay, so don’t freak out. The more I look at this list, the more I really appreciate it.

This list goes into more of the why these things are important. I posted it in the past:

This article is also full of things to be aware of. The author is not super delicate, and again, I don’t want you to think we are going to be crazy, but we are going to exclusively be the ones feeding him, holding him, disciplining him, comforting him, etc. and we aren’t going to be making concessions on that until we are sure he understands who is who in the zoo.

This one is written TO adoptive parents, but if you’re interested in getting a taste for what we are in for, this might be interesting to you:

Are you overwhelmed? Please don’t be. We love you and we know you love us, so we will all make it through in one piece! We are looking forward to the day when we will hit a sort of “normal” that means we won’t have to think twice about staying over with friends and family or whether a crowd is “too much.”

 

Ukrainian Host Child Incoming – 6 days?!

I wanted to share what we have learned about the Ukrainian boy, named V, who will be joining us for the holidays… IN 6 DAYS.

This is the bio we received:

  • “V – he is 6. Very calm and quiet. Was really shy and scared of camera. He likes cats more then dogs. Little dogs he said are ok, large are not. His favorite food are meat, cot lets, sausages, hotdog sausages. Likes snow a lot. Doesn’t like heat. Likes to play with cars. No sibs.”

How cool does he sound? “Doesn’t like heat?” Picked the right time of year, bud. “Scared of the camera?” Not for long! “Likes cats?” Got ya’ covered.

Just in case you’re interested to see how we will be structuring our days during the visit, I’ll share our tentative “schedule.” One thing we hear again and again about children coming from orphanages and hard places is that structure and predictability are necessities. To be fair, I’m sure even the most privileged among us can admit that when our routine gets thrown out of whack we have a difficult time being sanctified (read: we become major whiny douchebags), so how much more important must it be for a child who is accustomed to a strict routine back home, who is surrounded by people who are speaking a weird language, whom he doesn’t know from Adam?

This plan may or may not change depending on his temperament (Disneyland is a BIG undecided), but we are grateful to the Wright family for sharing their schedule with us (They hosted a little girl this past summer) and giving us some extremely helpful wisdom:

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So, as you can see, there is quite a bit planned on the calendar, but there are also a lot of free days that we can spend playing around the house and keeping things low key. We are incredibly grateful to those of you who have been willing to let us borrow things to make his stay comfortable, encouraging us with prayer, and being available to us for help with translation. Who knew so many of you speak Ukrainian or Russian or know someone who does? That is really cool! If you are free on one of our “free” days, and would like to stop by, please just let me know and we can figure something out… Unless of course it turns out he REALLY doesn’t like new people, in which case, Jason and I might be entering hibernation for the next month. 🙂

So, a big thank you for your support. We love you guys. If you’d like specific things to pray about, here is a (brief-ish) list:

  • That the 3 full days of travel that V and the other children will undergo on their way to America will be peaceful and that they would be able to find time to sleep.
  • That the children visiting who are available for adoption (or will soon be available) would find their forever family while they are here.
  • That the parents hosting children would be able to share the love of Christ with these kids, so that they know (maybe for the first time) that they are worthwhile, loved and incredibly important, and that there are people in the world on their side.
  • That Jason and I would manage to adjust to this little person well, and that we would be able to simultaneously love him and look forward with patience to the arrival of James.
  • **Added 12/14 – Hey! Remember that time Danielle pushed a cart around Walmart and Target back-to-back during the holiday season, and then in the car on the way home couldn’t resist the bag of chips she just bought and thought that a squirt of old hand sanitizer would do the trick? No? Well, it happened and now she is sick. Please pray for health in the house… soon?

Are we needy or what? 🙂 The next time we post will probably contain photos of V’s arrival (we have signs to decorate!), so stay tuned for awesomeness.

Potentially Big News

Jason and I received a child reference from our agency, and we are in the process of submitting our letter of intent.

What does this mean?

It means that this little boy may very well be the son that we have been praying and hoping and waiting for! This is potentially BIG news.

Providentially, the Thai Red Cross sent information for a child that they are actively seeking a family for to the woman directing the Thai program at our agency and thankfully, she thought of us and asked us if we would be interested. She explained that she felt we would be a good match and that she, personally, thought he was very cute. So, remembering our decision that we would accept the first referral we received, we told her we would be interested in seeing his information and would let her know our decision. We are now moving forward praying fervently that if this is our son, he will come home fast, and that if not, the door would be slammed shut just as quickly.

Fortunately, if this IS indeed our son, he is more adorable and healthy than we could have hoped and seems like we would be well suited to provide for his needs. The hesitation that I felt at the beginning while perusing the profiles of other waiting children is not present in this choice. This time, since the only thing that can stop us from bringing this boy home is God closing the door, I am allowing myself to be hopeful and excited, and Jason is (more carefully 🙂 ) allowing himself to do the same.

THIS COULD BE OUR JAMES. THIS COULD BE the little guy that we get to love and care for and teach and show the love of Christ, and, if he is, we can’t meet him soon enough.

If you would echo our prayer, that things would move quickly or fall flat quickly depending on whether we are acting within God’s will, we would be extremely grateful.

Thank you all for your prayer, encouragement, wisdom and excitement. You’re awesome and I’m sure we can’t express properly how thankful we are for you.

Update of updates

Hi friends!

We have heard news from WACAP that our dossier has indeed been sent to the Thai government! That means, those of you who have helped us so far with references and notarized copies and costs and prayer deserve a huge thank you from us:

THANK YOU!

We hadn’t heard anything for a month or two from the woman handling our file, so we were extremely excited to hear that the paperwork was correctly submitted and that we  are now just waiting for, a) a response from Thailand saying they received the file, b) a notification that we are officially on their wait list and c) the match of our boy! Our caseworker has assured us that their shouldn’t be any issue with acceptance, but we are still praying that it is swift.

Since we declined to select a child from the waiting children list (a decision that was difficult to make), once we are accepted by Thailand, they will give us a child referral. That means, a child of their choosing that is probably within our specified age range (3-5) and sex (male), will be sent to us through WACAP and we will decide whether to accept the referral or wait for another. Jason and I, after speaking with other couples from our church who have adopted or are in a similar stage of the waiting process, decided that we will accept the first referral that is given. We are praying and trusting that that child, whoever they may be, will be the one that God has had in mind for us from the beginning.  That is such a beautiful thought and I always  have to wipe my eyes after I really think about it.

Additionally, our application has been sent to US immigration (the paper that will say, yes, you may bring a child back here) and we recently learned we have been approved for a small loan from Lifesong. The loan from Lifesong is helpful and we are very grateful to our church for helping us to obtain that, BUT we also received a generous offer from my parents shortly thereafter. They have offered to  play our interest free bank throughout the rest of the process.  This is such a HUGE blessing, because now we know we won’t be juggling interest payments or credit cards or any of that with each hefty payment. Any fundraising we manage to do will be paying back Lifesong (an organization that will fund many other adoptions) or my folks (who aren’t a big, scary interest charging bank).

SO, that is our update. Thanks again to all of you who ask us how it is going and remember us in your prayers. You’re all greatly appreciated and much loved.

Piggy bank from our brother and sister for the little guy