Thursday, April 29, 2010

Why Adopt???

My heart has been longing for Ethiopia and the orphans we left behind. Each one a precious child of God. Each one in desperate need of a family and a home. I found an awesome God-loving women's blog this week and I've been lost in her stories of adoption. She's a 50 year old women who has heard God's call and answered Him time and time again-against insurmountable odds at times, regardless of what others may think. She and her husband are living out the gospel, and I have found much wisdom in her postings.

I had an appointment this afternoon, so in a brief moment of solitude as I waited in the waiting room, I had a chance to read a magazine article. It was in some financial magazine and the title was something like "The Net Return of Children". Basically it was analyzing the "value" of having children today-what is the return on our investment. The conclusion was that Americans are actually choosing not to have children-or not as many (especially wealthier Americans) because it is a poor financial investment (with private school, piano lessons, swim team, birthday parties that require party planners, wardrobe trends to keep up with and other "must haves"...parents are financially strapped trying to provide a "proper" upbringing).

This, I think is a big part of the problem. Our society has placed false value on the lives of our children. We are expected to enroll them in the preschool with the wait list. Give them all of the "stuff" that we wanted as a kid, but may not have had. Make sure they are "well rounded" (ie. play violin, be captain of the soccer team, and run for prom queen all while taking physics and calculus classes-all to measure our success as parents). Provide them with a "better" life. BETTER LIFE. What is that???? Well, for the orphan-a better life is a home with a family that vows to provide what they will never have in an orphanage, group home or care center. To provide them with LOVE and HOPE.

Our agency sent a list of "waiting children" this week and it just breaks my heart. Some of the kids have been on the list since at least September when we first saw our girls. They were on that list and praise GOD, we found them. As I write this, they sleep snug in their warm little beds, hopefully knowing that they are LOVED, not only by us, but also by our gracious God. They have hope and a future now.

The following passage was taken from "A place called simplicity" Check it out for more amazing insight on God's heart for the orphan and His call to all Christians. These are her answers to some of the reasons people give not to adopt (I've added a few comments in red):

Some say, “I don’t really have time.” Who does???Almighty God, the defender of orphans and widows says, “You don’t have time? Time for what? The things you deem “important”? I have told you what really matters – Caring for the orphans and widows!! How much clearer do I need to make it?”

Some say, “But we can’t afford it right now.” Neither could we-GOD provided!! Almighty God says, “You can’t afford not to! Watch me provide – you will be amazed!!” We were amazed!

Some say, “But I already have these kids and they are driving me crazy.” Almighty God says, “Stop using the world’s value system when it comes to kids! Their worth is beyond words – cherish them and bring more home!”

Some say, “But I need to spend time with the ones I do have”. Almighty God says, “Yes you do!! Stop wasting your time on all the things that don’t really matter and spend time with them (This is my new mantra)– and teach them about selflessness by bringing home brothers and sisters for them….in fact teach them about sharing first hand! Teach them about caring for others first hand!!”

You might say, “My husband doesn’t want anymore.” Almighty God says, “Fast and pray for your husband’s heart to change – I am a big God and it certainly lines up with my will – fast, pray and watch and see what I do!!”

I think she says it so well. We can all make excuses. The bottom line is that we all can do something. We all have room and we can all choose to make a difference.

I say this tonight after a miserable showing as a patient mother. My little Meron missed her nap today and whined and fussed from 4:00pm-bedtime. Caroline chimed in from time to time with her own whines and needs and Colton threw a tantrum because he didn't get the snack he wanted-all while I was trying to make dinner. I failed miserably at being patient and loving and kind. Which is a little ironic because I've been teaching them 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (Love is patient, love is is not easily angered...) all month. The good news is, it's not about us. We are never going to have it all together enough to take on God's challenges. That's why we need HIM. We are never going to have enough time, money, patience, organization, or energy to do it all. But we need to have enough humility to recognize this and give it to the Lord. When God calls you to do something, you DO IT.

As defeated as I felt after finally getting my little ones to sleep tonight, the devil will not win this one. He will not stop me from spreading the word. I'm going to get the message out. The plight of the orphan is my life calling. The devil hates it. He'd love for us all to get distracted enough that we allow it to be OK that children go to sleep hungry, homeless, and hopeless every night.

In the words of Mother Theresa, "It is a poverty to decide that a child must die, so that you may live as you wish."

Defending the fatherless,


Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

These two pictures speak volumes about our two girls. I had asked Hermela to sort all of our teddy bear counters one day in school while I did Caleb's reading lesson. This is what I came back to. Every bear was perfectly lined up according to its color. When she came home, just 3 months ago, she had never had a day of formal schooling. We had planned to start kindergarten with her in August to give her time to adjust here and just focus on the English language. However, we could tell how bright she was when she got here and we decided to start homeschooling her for kindergarten in February. Since then, she recognizes most letters and knows most of their sounds, can count to 100, knows most colors, recognizes numbers, knows days of the week, can copy sentences, writes her full name.....I could go on and on. The girl is amazing. I say all of this not to brag on our teaching skills-Nick and I are hardly experts, but to brag instead on her determination and drive. She is the most driven 5 year old I have ever met. She came to us speaking both Amharic and Tigriniya. She is now quickly adding English to her language list. She soaks up everything we say and even repeats my words as I am teaching lessons or reading books (a trait that is slightly annoying-but is definitely working for her). She is now asking me to teach her to read. She sees Caleb reading books and wants to do the same, so we will start reading lessons in a couple of weeks. I have no doubt that she will be ready for first grade in the fall.

Meron is also soaking up the English language at a remarkable pace. I really think it helps that they have the other kids around them-constantly talking. If it were only me and Nick, I think it might have been different. In a house with 5 kids, someone is always talking, so they have total immersion all day long. While Hermela is really working hard to assimilate and learn new things, Meron is content to "hang out". She definitely takes her role as the youngest child seriously (we now have two youngest children which could get interesting down the road). She is perfectly content to be by my side or attached to me. She has very little drive in the way of work and would much prefer things be done for her. She plays the baby role quite a bit and has even acquired a pacifier since she's been home. Not something we planned on, but we're just going with it (whatever keeps the peace around here).

They have both grown by leaps and bounds since they've been home. We took them swimming in a "big" pool (community in ground pool as opposed to our backyard blow up pool) this afternoon. They had a blast floating through the water (with swimmies) and kicking and splashing around. I couldn't help but marvel at them. Here they were-first time in the deep end-jumping right in. It's kind of a metaphor for how they have approached their new life with us. They have jumped right in and seem to be enjoying every minute of it.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Beach Trip

We went to the beach for the day over spring break. One of the pictures that we had sent the girls was of Nick and me at the beach. Hermela had looked and looked at it and when she met us she said, "mommy, this one" and pointed to the picture. She had brought it to me several times and asked to go see the beach. We decided to go when Nick's parents were here (logistically, we needed a few extra hands-Colton requires the full attention of an adult around water due to his lack of inhibition-and we had two non-swimmers and beach first timers-you get the picture). I decided that the 4:5 adult to kid ratio worked well and that we will probably require at least one extra adult chaperon for a while when swimming is involved.

I had expected Hermela to be fearful of the water as she squirms and shakes all around when I spray her hair with water. However, my parents had gotten them a blowup pool for Easter and she jumped right in. I was especially surprised when she dove right under, holding her breath like a pro. The ocean was no different. She rode a boogie board right away and stayed in the FREEZING cold water longer than anyone else. Meron kept to the sand and they both enjoyed being buried in it. I'm sure Hermela will be swimming on her own by the end of the summer. She is a very motivated and determined little girl.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Nicks parent came to visit the week before Easter. It was the first time the girls met his dad. Even though they had never met their Grandad, they were very excited to meet him and warmed up instantly to him. It was as if they already knew him. We had sent pictures of our parents to the girls while they were in Ethiopia. It is so interesting how much they knew from those pictures. When we met them, they knew who we were and who their brothers and sister were. They could even point to each one and say their names.
I now know how much those pictures were treasured. Hermela talks about how happy she was when she got them and how she held them close and kissed them and slept with them at night. We even know now that their birth mom saw those pictures when she went to visit them for the last time and that she cried and thanked God for her daughters' new family. It is a heart wrenching scene to picture a mother in such a difficult situation. I cannot imagine her pain. I think of her often and pray that she may at least have felt relief and comfort knowing that her daughters would indeed have a family and a future.

We've started getting lots of stories of how life was in Ethiopia. Our girls have been through things that no one should have to go through. Hermela talks about going days between eating and of going to church with her mother to pray for injera and money to buy food. We know that they were in pretty rough living conditions and went to bed scarred and hungry more often than not. They talk about when it rained, how bugs would come into their home and how sad they were when they were brought to the care center. We also get stories of how they would lay in bed with their mom and older brother (another thing we learned) two at the head of the bed and two at the foot, playing games together before they went to sleep. Amidst the suffering, there were times of joy and we are lucky enough to see that side of them most of the time.

They girls are amazingly resilient and loving and seem to be settling in. I sence that Hermela still feels uncertain about the permanency of her new life. Who can blame her? Nothing in her life has been consistent. Not even her most basic needs like mealtime were ever predictable. So we find that she is constantly questioning where we are going, what are we doing next, when does daddy work, who is coming.... She has had to live her life on "high alert", so change in routine is hard for her. This was heightened by all of the changes that having house guests, a holiday, no school and no routine brings. We were on spring break while Nick's parents were here, so in addition to all of the excitement that grandparents bring, we also had none of our regular activities going on. It was very evident by the end of the week (which culminated with our Easter celebration) that it was just all too much. It is completely overwhelming for them to have so much going on. People coming. People going. Gifts. Sweets. Later bedtimes. All of this increased, especially Hermela's, anxiety. Although she seemed to enjoy every bit of the festivities, the stress was visible in her behavior. All I can say is I'm glad we didn't bring them home at Christmas time. We are back on track this week with a whole week of school completed and the monotony of each day setting back in. My kids-all of them-thrive on routine, little to no TV time, lots of outside play and strict bedtimes. It just works the best around here.

I'm glad we had this week of excitement, because it gave us some insight into some of their inner struggles that we hadn't really picked up on before. I'm glad that they feel safe enough to talk to us about what their lives were like before and what they have been through. It helps us to be more sensitive to them and their behavior and to know how to better help them adjust.

I think all that we are going through is really to be expected with older child adoption. They had a life before this one. One where fairy tales don't exist and dreams don't come true. On a side note, Caleb lost two teeth recently, so the "tooth fairy" was coming. Well, this spawned a three hour "I can't sleep fest" from Hermela. I finally realized that she was very concerned with who was coming. If you think about it, it is quite ridiculous to think that this mysterious flying creature is going to sneak into your house at night, while you're sleeping, take the tooth that you've laid under your pillow and leave you a treat. She has no concept for this sort of thing. I reassured her that the tooth fairy was just for fun and that she was safe. It doesn't help that she also has two loose teeth and was probably fretting about the fairy flying into her room. So, we did not celebrate Easter with the Easter bunny. How do explaining the giant bunny hopping into your house, stealing the eggs and hiding them? Like I said, I'm glad they didn't come home at Christmas time.

Easter was a lot of fun for the girls. They absolutely love to dress up, thrive on wearing tights, love to go to church and thoroughly enjoy a good piece of chocolate. We got to do all of these things in one day! What more could you ask for? We'll, I asked for one family photo with everyone all dressed up, looking in the same direction with a smile on their face. It only took about 30 tries (and my mother in law balancing an Easter egg on my father in law's head while dancing and making silly faces:). So don't let the fairly good picture of all my sweet litttle children fool you. Our life is crazy most of the time. We rarely really have it all together. My house stays clean for about 20 minutes after I've cleaned it unless the kids are asleep. There is usually someone crying, almost always dirty dishes in the sink, the laundry is NEVER done, and sometimes we eat cereal for dinner.

I've read a couple of other people's blog post lately in which they show piles of laundry and sinks full of dishes and it is comforting to realize that although we all usually post the "happy" pictures that highlight what we do best, we are all a big mess, falling short everyday, destined to fail without the help of our Saviour. So, I pray hard everyday that I will focus on what is important-loving the Lord, my husband and our children, and loving and serving others the best that I can and praying for the rest of it.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


My attempt at getting all of the kids in front of the finished product (Colton wasn't having it).

We've been busy over the past few weeks. We started a gardening unit in school last month and have been learning about seeds/plants/vegetables/flowers. We've started a nice collection of lima beans on the window sill along with lettuce, tomatoes and watermelon. For those of you who know me, I have a really hard time keeping living things of the plant variety alive (so far, I have a pretty good track record of keeping the children fed and watered). So, it will be interesting to see how long we can keep our little plants alive. We also started our first ever fruit and vegetable garden. We've planted tomatoes, peppers, cucumber and strawberries and hope to be enjoying a yummy salad and strawberry shortcake this summer.