Sunday, March 21, 2010

Growing In My Heart

Before we started the adoption process, there were all sorts of fears I had. Okay, if I'm being truly honest, I still have fears. But I really do feel them melting away.

One of my biggest fears was that I wouldn't love an adopted child the same way I love my biological children. Now everyone we've ever talked with who has a biological child and an adopted child says that they had the same fear and that of course you do love them the same. It's a hard concept to understand, though, before they're here with you.

I remember being pregnant with Sarah, wondering how I could possibly love another little person like I loved my Josh. But I reasoned that she's a girl, so it will feel different, and in that situation, different could equal the same. And you know what? Of course I feel the same about Sarah that I do about Josh.

Then came a pregnancy with Megan. This time I had a boy and a girl. Could I love Megan the same as I loved both of them? Again, of course...yes!! The way God grows mommy hearts is truly amazing. With each child, my heart seemed to grow just the right amount to fill it up.

This time my babies aren't growing in my tummy, but I definitely feel them growing in my heart.

While I wait to find out who my two new babies are, I really do feel my heart expanding and I already feel so much love for these little people I've never even met. I watch Gotcha Day videos on YouTube and cry like I would when I'd watch A Baby Story when I was pregnant. I imagine what it will be like when Hubby flies halfway around the world and calls me to tell me he's got them. I just think I'll be so emotional!! And when I think about being at the airport to see them, and hold them, and kiss them for the first time? I really can't even imagine what that moment will feel like. The suspense while I wait for them to get through that gate will be excruciating!! I know they may not feel comfortable with me at first, and I know I don't want to bawl like a baby and scare them, but I just know it will be such a special day with so many emotions swirling around.

I just love how God is changing my heart more and more each day. My fears are melting and in its place is love. I'd definitely choose love any day over fear. It feels much better.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Poking, Prodding, and Chatting

We've had a couple of busy days in "getting ready for adoption" land.

Yesterday all five of us had our physicals. Close your eyes and just picture - wait, what am I thinking? If you close your eyes, you can't read what I'm saying. Anyways...just do your best to picture five people, a nurse, and a doctor in a maybe 9 x 9 room. Yeah, a little crazy. Now just remember that three of those people are under 4' tall and aren't overly fond of the fact that they're at the doctor's office. Poor Megan started crying when we walked by the scale. Not sure what the scale ever did to her, but whatever it was, it must have been bad.

Remember what I said about the TB tests? I was worried about how they'd go. Josh decided we should go oldest to youngest, so Mommy and Daddy went first and then it was his turn. I could tell he wanted to be brave, but he was so nervous. Poor kid had to be poked a couple of times because he was writhing around so much. By the end, he was SCREAMING. And Megan was scared just from watching and was sobbing. Sarah went next and hopped up there brave as could be. She did start crying rather loudly though once the needle actually went in. And Josh and Megan were still crying then, too.

All 3 of them crying at once.


In a 9 x 9ish room.

Fun? Mmm...not exactly.

My poor kiddos. The poor nurse who had to work through the screaming. The poor people waiting in the waiting room. It's really no fun having to pin your children to the examining table and watch them scream and cry, completely helpless, while they look at you to make it all stop.

I thought it was cute that they all were so proud of themselves after the fact. They commented that it wasn't fun, but that they were glad to do it for our new babies. Whew. I'm just glad it's done. Now we just can't forget to go back to have the tests read. If we miss the 48 - 72 hour window, the test has to be redone. Um, no thank you.

*On a more serious note, we did have one strange health thing come up for one of us. We're currently attempting to treat it, but further testing may be needed if this doesn't work. Will you just pray with us that it will be healed by this treatment and that it will not be anything serious? Thanks!*

And then today, we met with our social worker for the first time. She is so super nice and really easy to talk to. She first asked the kids a few questions. Sarah, unfortunately wasn't feeling well (she has an ear infection) so she didn't really have anything to say. Megan ran around singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star for her. When asked about what he likes about being a big brother, Josh said that he, "loves to play with his sisters" and that he's "excited to have a little brother because my whole life I've been longing for a brother...Whatever longing means." We grinned and our social worker asked him what he thought longing means. He said, "Wanting. I heard that somewhere." Too cute.

Hubby and the kids went upstairs after a little while and I had my individual interview with her. We just talked about my childhood, my family, my educational and professional background, and my life as a stay-at-home/homeschooling mom. Hubby will do his individual interview next and then we'll do the home tour and couples interview.

I'm glad we're moving along well. I had been nervous about the whole process, just not really knowing what to expect. Everyone kept assuring me that it's nothing nerve wracking or scary, just time consuming. And actually helpful.

While we're not finished with everything yet, I'd say I'd have to agree.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Happy Birthday, Megan!

There are some things in your life you just will never forget as long as you live. Two years ago today was one of those moments in my life. My sweet baby Megan breathed her first breath, cried her first cry, and slept in my arms for the first time.

It's so cliche, but time really does just fly by. Especially when you're having fun.

I'm so grateful for Megan. She is such a sweet and silly little girl and is such a blessing to our family. I'm so glad God chose us to be her parents! I think back to when Hubby and I were dating and how we'd talk about the family we'd like to have one day - two kids, maybe three if the first two were the same gender. Ha! God had much better things in store for us!! We had our two, but still didn't feel "done." He blessed us with our Megs, and now we're expecting two more! Having five little ones was certainly not our original plan, but I am so grateful for all of our blessings!

Megan, I know that our family would not be complete without you. Your joy is contagious, your cheesy grin is infectious, and your snuggles warm all of our hearts. I love watching you grow and learn and you surprise us every day by new things you've picked up on without us realizing it. Some day I'll look back and smile when I think of the dozens of times a day you want to share a knock knock joke that you've made up. Hearing you sing Jesus Loves Me (interrupted by your made up Precious, Precious, Precious song) has to be one of the most adorable things on the planet, maybe second only to your big eyes asking me to dance with you one more time before naptime. And then when you're all snuggly cute and you want to kiss our cheeks over and over and over again? Completely precious. You're growing up more and more every day and I don't want to take for granted one wonderful moment with you. I love you so very much and am so blessed to be your Mommy. Happy Birthday, Megan! I'll never stop loving you!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Silly, Impatient Me

I knew that would happen. As soon as I shared with you all how I'm not good at waiting for things, the very thing I was waiting for would happen.

I had a call today from our social worker! And guess what? I've met her before! Such a small little world! I don't know her well by any means, but it's comforting to me that it's someone I've at least met before. Even though many people have told us not to stress about the home visit, I had in my mind a picture of some really mean lady grilling us about every little detail of our lives! I know...I know...I worry too much.

The good news is that we've got all of our appointments scheduled. The only thing is that we won't finish our meetings until the 28th. She said it would take about two weeks after that for her to write the report, and that we should allow about one week for editing. So when you do the math, it's about April 19th before we're done with the homestudy process.

We would have liked for it all to move a little more quickly, but we are trusting that it's all in God's hands and it's all happening in His perfect timing!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hurrying Up and Waiting in our Animal House

Last week was spent rushing around gathering financials and filling out paperwork. We were so excited when we sent off our packet (via email) on Tuesday. We were told that depending on our schedule and flexibility, we may have our home visit within a week.

Well, here it is late Thursday night and we've heard nothing yet.

I'm trying so hard to be patient. I know that they have to get through our paperwork first. I know that they're probably really busy. I know that it really will all happen in God's perfect timing.

But ohmygosh, every time the phone rings I wonder if it's going to be our social worker! And if I'm this crazed now, I seriously can't imagine what I'll be like when I'm expecting the phone to ring with a referral!!

OK, breathe. It'll happen. It really will. I guess God just needs me to learn a little bit more about patience first, huh? : )

So in other news, we had a first around our house today...

I have two words for you. Food. Fight.

Only it wasn't on Animal House. It was in my house! My mom called during lunchtime and while I was finishing my lunch and chatting with her I started the dishes ('cause you know...that's the way we multitasking moms work!) I was bending down to put a dish in the dishwasher, chatting away with my mom when I saw something hit the ground next to me. Bread.

Oh no they didn't.

Josh, Sarah, and Megan were all tearing apart their sandwiches and tossing them at each other. And they were totally cracking up while doing it.

And I couldn't help but thinking for a moment (and my mom said it, so I know she was thinking it also)...we're adding two more!!

Now of course, the kids and I had a conversation about how throwing food is absolutely not allowed, and I in no way let on to them that there was anything okay about the event. But, I will tell you that the accompanying laughter during the "fight" was pretty cute.

And while I'm sure that adding two more will only add to the craziness at times (and yes, I'm human...there are times that I want to shut myself in the pantry to get away from the noise), I love the sound of life that fills our home. Life, laughter, and love. And I will only love it that much more when there's two more little gigglers added to the mix.

So while I'm waiting for that phone to ring, there's certainly no loss for noise. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Well, just maybe without the flying food.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

It's Off!!!

Our mongo stack of paperwork (well, this round of it, anyways!) is finished!!!!

Hubby just sent all of it via email to our home study provider! Whoohooo!!!! Here's what all was included:
  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage license
  • Hubby's autobiography
  • My autobiography
  • Hubby's "Me As A Person" (two-page list of questions about yourself)
  • My "Me As A Person"
  • Our Transracial/Transcultural inventory (one-page list of questions)
  • Financial statement
  • Most recent tax information
  • Releases for criminal background/sex and violent offender registry checks (for me and Hubby)
  • Releases for Child Protective Services history checks (for all five of us)
The way our home study provider works is that we are not assigned an individual social worker until after this paperwork stage is done. So now, we'll be assigned with the social worker who will do our home visit and put together our final home study document. I talked with the supervisor this morning and she said depending on how flexible our schedule is, we may have our home visit within a week or so!!!

So, the remaining steps (as I understand them...and I could totally be missing something!):
  • Medical exams (including TB tests) for all five of us - scheduled for next week
  • Blood work and urinalysis for me and Hubby - scheduled for this week
  • Employment letter (they get this for us from Hubby's employer)
  • 4 Reference letters (they get these from the references we gave them)
  • Local Police and Sheriff record check (we have to go to our county sheriff's office and request something that states we do not have a record.)
  • The home visit (which we've been told will take a big part of one day)

That's it! We just have to wait for all of our approvals and then once our home visit takes place, she said it would take a couple of weeks for our social worker to put it all together. They will send us and OFA a draft, we make any necessary changes, and then we're ready to put together our I600A (petition to US Gov't to allow us to adopt)! After that's done, we start putting together our dossier (documents necessary to send to Congo) and wait for our referral!

So like I said, this is just the first round of paperwork, but I'm glad we're on our way!!

We're coming, babies!!! Mommy and Daddy love you so much and can't wait for you to be home with us!!!

Excited about Poo

I realize that some of my readers don't know us personally and read along to follow our adoption journey, but those of you who read and do know us personally may remember how much I hate potty training.

I mean HATE!!


Hands down, potty training is the WORST part of parenting!

Sorry...I don't hide my feelings well. : )

After spending months, maybe even more than a year trying to get Josh and Sarah to not only pee in the potty, but also go poo poo there, guess what???

Little Megan just pooped IN THE POTTY!!!!

She came up to me with a diaper in hand and asked, "Mommy, change my diaper?"

I asked her if she had gone poo poo and she said no. I asked her if she needed to go poo poo and she said yes. I asked her if she wanted to go in her potty and she said yes. So I took off her diaper for her and she wandered in there. I have to admit, I didn't think it would happen (we've had lots of false alarms before) so I just went about my work. A minute later, though, Sarah called, "Mommy, Megan went poo poo!"

And by golly, she really had! And lots of it! (I thought about taking a picture, but didn't really think you'd all enjoy that! You can thank me later.) So we jumped up and down and did the happy dance - all four of us in our little downstairs bathroom. That had to have been a funny sight!

We haven't started any official potty training yet with her. In fact, the first time she ever pee peed in the potty was last Friday night when she suckered our neighbor into taking her potty. I couldn't believe it! She did it again on Sunday for us. This was only the third time in her whole life that she's used the potty and it was for #2!!! Unbelievable!!!

Way to go, Megs!!! Now if you'd just like to complete this little potty training bit this easily, I'll be the happiest little mommy in the neighborhood.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Roller Coaster Has Started

If you would have asked me how I felt about all of this adoption stuff on Friday, it wouldn't have been good. I was feeling really overwhelmed by the process, scared about the attachment/bonding issues, and just really nervous about the whole thing. (Yes, I am human!) I had a mound of paperwork that we still hadn't been able to start yet, and lots of guilt that we hadn't gotten to it yet.

Not fun.

But thankfully God provided a beautiful afternoon and we were able to get outside and play for the first time in months. The moment I put Megan in the swing and pushed her she just started cracking up. Between hearing her laugh, watching my big kids run around with all their friends in the neighborhood, and getting some good old fashioned sunshine and fresh air, I began to feel much better.

I talked through my fears and concerns with one of my dearest friends who has been through this home study process, and she was so supportive and encouraging. She understood my feelings and fears, but encouraged me to take them to the Lord and just to continue to trust Him through this process. We do completely believe He's led us thus far, and so now it's only a matter of continuing onto the next step. One step at a time...

I just think it's kind of a strange feeling that with an adoption you continually have lists of things to do, and it almost feels like with every step of the process you're choosing over and over that this is what you want. When you are pregnant biologically, there's no turning back! I don't really think it's a bad thing that you follow all these steps and have all these opportunities for examination, it's just different from what I've previously experienced.

Well, we finally had some chunks of time to sit down and start our paperwork this weekend. It really isn't as daunting as it seems, it's just time consuming. I believe I can honestly say I've never answered so many questions about myself in my whole life. In the last two days, we've completed extensive autobiographies about ourselves, a five page paper filled with questions titled "Me as a Person", and a whole page of questions about how we feel about transracial/transcultural adoption. We've also made a big dent in our criminal background releases and financial backgrounds. I chatted with our doctor's office on Friday figuring out all we need to do for our medical checks. I also chatted today with our lawyer with OFA going over requirements for this step and the upcoming one. She was very encouraging as well.


While I may have started the weekend nervous and overwhelmed, I'm feeling much better about it all. It actually is starting to fall into place and it wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be. Now that is a bright spot!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

2 Minute Glance

Here is a really short (2 minute) video put together to show some of the need that exists in Congo. These next nine months can't go fast enough!

(Sorry...I don't know how to get the cute little Youtube video screen to show in my blog. I realize this is so old'll actually have to click the link above!)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Bunnies for Congo

Josh has been doing this really amazing art class the past three days. I will say that it was really intense, but so, so great. The man who teaches it is wonderful at what he does. He raises the bar very high and expects great effort, but is so encouraging at the same time. He just kept stressing that art is a learned skill and just takes a lot of practice.

I would say that historically art has not been Josh's strong suit (although he is only 6 1/2, so I don't want to write anything off at this point!) : ) He typically just doesn't want to spend the time doing it. But...he did so well over the past three days and really enjoyed it. The class ended today and he came home and just wanted to draw all afternoon. I love it!
Yesterday's homework was to draw a bunny and name it. There would be three prizes given for the best bunny with the most original name. Top prize was $50, which of course had all the kids excited. Now keep in mind that there were over 100 kids there, so odds of winning were slim, but they were still all abuzz about what they'd do with $50.

It was so precious to hear Josh's plan. He came home and said, "Mom, I've gotta win that prize. I need to send that money to Congo. *pause* Well, actually, I'll probably share it."

So I said, "Oh, you're going to keep half and send half to Congo?"

And he responded, "No. I'm going to send half to Congo, and half to Haiti."

Oh melt my dear mommy heart. Love that kid!

He had a purpose and got right to work. However, within 24.6 seconds, he was done. He had drawn a bunny that he decided to name Cow. I loved the irony for the name, but the picture? Well, see...
I'll just say I tried to be as encouraging as I could. Bless his heart.

We were gone in the afternoon for the home study meeting and then ended up having dinner over at our neighbors' house, so it was almost bedtime when we got home. Uh oh. We had forgotten to finish Cow. He still needed to be colored. Josh decided, though, that he wasn't crazy about Cow the Bunny after all and wanted to try again.

He worked for awhile and tried a couple of different times, and here's what he came up with instead. Meet Jumping Jack the Bunny...(Just FYI, the writing above is the bunny's name, and his name and age. It's just hard to read.)
We were so proud of him! He spent a little more time on it, and this version was much better! We don't know yet who won the contest as we had to turn the bunnies in today, but I'm just proud that he wanted to do a good job. And I may be partial, but I think Jumping Jack the Bunny is kinda, especially when compared to Cow the Bunny. And if he somehow is lucky enough to win the $50, I know there will be people around the world who are blessed. All because of a little bunny in the grass.

Here's a few other pics of him in the class. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Diving In

Whew. Well, we're on our way!

We had our first appointment with our home study provider this afternoon. With the word out that we're adopting and the paperwork in full swing, I'd say it's all definitely feeling more real now. A few days ago a friend asked me, "Do you feel pregnant? Because you are!" That was a sweet thing to say! : ) I really didn't at the time, but I'm starting to have moments where it feels that way!

We now have a whole list of forms to fill out, background checks to apply for, and TONS of information about ourselves to divulge. Honestly, there doesn't seem to be quite as much to fill out as we were afraid there could be, but it's still A LOT. Some of it seems silly, but some of it seems like it could be helpful. The lady we met with today talked a lot about preparing for an interracial adoption, and there's an entire form with questions preparing us for issues that could arise because of that. She also gave us TONS of material with books, websites, magazines, and classes for preparing for an adoption. I'll eat that stuff up. I can't wait to learn more!

But there's also parts I wish we could just skip over. I guess our state requires that every member of our family have a TB test. Yuck-o. Have they met my son? He will scream like a baby. Seriously. I'm really dreading that. And evidently we have to apply for new birth certificates and a new marriage license. You know, in case somehow the details of our births changed from the last time we ordered birth certificates.

The paperwork doesn't bother me. I just keep telling myself it's just like the grant applications I used to have to put together for work. I think the only thing I'm having a hard time with is not having a nice, neat, completely spelled out step-by-step process. We still have some questions about the timing of things, and the order that we should do things. If you know me, you know that I am a spreadsheet and list-maker, not to mention a rule follower. I just want to make sure we're doing the right things at the right times. I know we've got a great team of people who can help us through it all, but it's just not all spelled out the clearest.

Hubby was right...we're just going to have to dive on in. If we just start doing things, all the details will get worked out.
And I firmly believe that in the end, all of this paperwork will be worth it!!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

From Three to Five - Their Thoughts

So I thought I'd finally check in with my three cuties and see what they're thinking about all of this excitement. While I felt like I could pretty accurately share their thoughts, I figured I better just check with them to make sure. Plus, it was a teaching moment. We learned what a journalist is and how they interview people to find out what's going on in the world. I put on my imaginary journalist hat and went to work. So you can follow along, each one of us is represented in a different color: Mommy, Josh (6), Sarah (4), and Megan (23 1/2 months).

So , I hear something big’s going on in your life. What is it?
Yep…it’s an adoption.

Can you tell me about it?
Well, I’m really excited because I have wanted a brother for a long time.
I’m so excited that we might get a girl.

But what if we get two brothers?
Then, Josh would have more brothers.

Well, you would too, silly. What do you think about that?
That’d be good. Then I can be happy with two good brothers. They’re going to be very good and have one toy at a time. (Can you tell we’ve been struggling with a messy house!?! They hear “one toy at a time” like a hundred times a day!) : )

Megan, what do you think about adopting two more kids?
Um, I want um um doptions. (Translation: I want adoptions. I kept asking her why, but all she’d say was because. Sorry, she’s still not two. That’s all you’ll get from her. She was more interested in playing babies.) : )

So what do you think about it, guys?
I’m excited to have a brother because I’ve really wanted a brother for a long time. I’m excited to share my toys and have another kid in our family, because I’ve always wanted to adopt a brother and sister and I just love having brothers and sisters. I’m used to a sister. I’d also like to take care of baby brothers because I like to play with boys. And I like to play with my sisters, too.
I think I’m happy. I want them here now.

Are you nervous about having new brothers or sisters?
NO! I’m happy.
No, I don’t feel nervous, because we’re going to have some new kids and I’m going to be happy. I’m so happy because I can see my brothers and if we’re going to get a sister, we can have another sister.
I’ll give lots of hugs and kisses, and I’ll ask to hold the baby.

And that's it, folks. Out of the mouths of babes. They're really excited about it all. When we first sat them down to tell them we were even considering this, Josh's comment was, "Well if there's babies who are hungry and who need mommies and daddies, why don't we go get one today?" Pretty cute. Wish it were that simple, buddy.

The other really telling thing to me is one of their new favorite things to play is adoption. I'll hear them in the other room saying that they're filling out paperwork to go get "their orphan."

We have to keep reminding them that once our children are ours, they're no longer orphans! (I can see it now...the five kids and me in Walmart a year from now. Josh and Sarah can respond to the curious public with, "they're our orphans.")

I can't wait for the amazing day when they go from being an orphan to being our son or daughter! And I'm glad my children are excited for that day, too!