Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankfulness Day 24: Love

Photo by Peace
I am so thankful to day to have the unconditional love of God as my Heavenly Father. I am thankful to be forgiven and set free, and to have His peace and strength throughout my days.

I am thankful for the love of my family and friends. It means everything to me to have all of you in my life! 

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankfulness Day 23: Thanksgiving Past

Two years ago- trip to Mexico and my last picture with my grandparents while my Grandpa was still with us.

Thanksgiving is full of traditions for most people, but in our  family, plans tend to change every year. My parents have often spend Thanksgiving Day working at a community dinner and my siblings usually spend the day with their in-laws. Most years we do have a special dinner together, but on a different day and sometimes it's enchiladas! Several times we have used the long weekend as a little vacation with just our kids--to Portland, or the mountains to play in the snow. Twice we have celebrated in Mexico with my cousins (turkey and tamales!). Last year my brother started the first annual "Crepesgiving"--the day after when you make a huge stack of crepes and stuff them with all your Thanksgiving Day leftovers. Although it's always  a little different, I am thankful for the fun and special memories over the years.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thankful Day 22: A Cup of Tea

My favorite mugs with my favorite animals, given to me by my family

Today, and everyday, I am thankful for cup after cup of steaming tea! 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thankful Day 21: Laughter

Gabriel during his Age of Inventions

I came across this picture and it's just how I feel with a cold tonight. I am thankful for my family who keeps me laughing!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thankfulness: Adventures in Narnia

2008 Mrs. Beaver

Peace's dance group performed at the mall today to promote their upcoming holiday showAdventures in Narnia . It was a fun surprise for me when she filled in last minute for someone else and played Mrs. Beaver, a role she had a couple years ago. It was such a cute comical part and we all just loved seeing her as the fussy, roly-poly, grandmotherly character in the show.

Today I am thankful for the opportunities the girls have had to dance in "Narnia" , and the things they have learned along the way, including being willing to jump back into an old part unexpectedly!


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thankfulness Day 19: Sisters

I'm thankful for these girls, who spend a lot of time laughing together!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thankful Day18: Brothers

I'm thankful for these boys!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thankful Day 17: A Little Break

Today I'm thankful for a couple hours break while my mom takes Ryland to his Karate class-- I really needed to relax a bit!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thankfulness Day 16: A Warm Home

It's so chilly today, cold rain and maybe snow in the next few days (which you can be sure will inspire a post of great thankfulness from this Canadian girl). As I open the door, glad to be able to stay home the rest of the day, I think of those who face the night without shelter. Those who bundle up the best they can under a bridge or in an alley, or in a city of tents. 

Tonight I am thankful for the warm, safe and comfortable home my family has. I am also thankful for the many people who work so hard to help the homeless, both here and overseas. Whatever the reasons are that brought  a person to their place of need, I am thankful for those who offer them grace, a warm meal and a place to sleep- just enough hope to make it through another day, and maybe for some, the strength or resources to move toward a different  life. 

I am thankful for my parents who took us along  to rescue missions, to give out food at reservations, and good news at rehab centers. I'm thankful that they took us to an orphanage in Mexico, and to the surrounding tent camps where families  lived under tarps, searching daily  for food and wood. We held babies and scooped oatmeal for the children. I'm glad they didn't keep us from seeing poverty and they showed us how to put our concern into action. 

I am thankful for the experience of living and working in a teen shelter in Hollywood. I learned to see tender, broken hearts underneath the desperate situations the kids were in. Sometime we were able to help them get on a better path, sometimes they could only handle a meal, a blanket, a hug, a place to sleep it off and they were back to the street in the morning. But for a night, they could be safe and warm and part of a family of sorts. 

I am thankful for having had enough hard times that I can have compassion.  To have had  times where we didn't always know how we would pay our bills and to have been blessed by the care of others. Once we were on a trip back from Colorado in our old car and ended up stranded a hotel in Wyoming in a snowstorm for several days (not fun at all with 2 little kids) and thinking without the gracious help of family, we would have run out of money and been really stranded. 

I'm thankful for my parents, who have a non-profit called Free People . They get people  involved in helping the needy in all kinds of ways. They give of their lives-feeding, listening, lending help, offering spiritual guidance each week. I know there have been many who have simply needed someone to be there and treat them with dignity and not just look right through them. ......It's tiring and it's heartbreaking and only sometimes there's a happy ending to a story. But  it's always a good day when the Free Food and Music sign is up at the park or the Wow Hall!

I'm thankful for my husband who gives of his time and sound business to provide support for this ministry and others. Last night he provided sound for a fundraising event for the cold weather shelter. His generosity and that of many, many others who give indirectly  is what makes it possible to provide help to many.

I am thankful for the moms who make muffins and cookies and kids who make scarves and sandwiches. I am moved to tears when we walk down under the bridge and volunteers are cooking for 500, playing music, sorting clothing donations, cutting hair, painting kids faces and filling balloons. I am reminded that we are all the same on the inside. We all want  to know  like someone cares.

I am also thankful for many who serve the poor in other countries. Our friends the Clays, with Apparent Project, work in Haiti-- finding  ways for families to be able to work and keep their children and to provide housing for those affected by the earthquake.

Tonight as my family members come in out of the rain, eat a warm meal and curl up under a soft blanket, I am thankful for our cozy home and I don't take it for granted.

  Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thankfulness Day 15: Even When I Don't Feel Thankful

The beauty of looking at things a different way           Photo By Peace

Over the past two weeks I've written about things I'm thankful for, the easy obvious things, and  it's true that I am very blessed. More than just looking for something to add to my my list, I have been trying to change my attitude my having a  grateful  heart in all things. When I find myself unhappy, frustrated, disappointed or overwhelmed, I have been trying to shift my thoughts to a place of thankfulness--not a feeling, but a choice of where to put my focus.

When I feel like I am failing
When I have more to do than I can do in a day
When my child is angry
When messes pile up
When plans fall through
When my family is sick
When things break

I can choose to be thankful

 For the place I'm in, the struggles that will strengthen me,
 For all things working for good
That I have these loved ones
That I have these things
That I have these opportunities

So as I look ahead to this day: cooking, cleaning, teaching, driving kids to things, getting groceries.... an ordinary day, but there are so many things I can thank God for and that is what will make today feel like the amazing gift it is.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thankfulness Day 14: Ryland

I am thankful to have Ryland in our family! At this time last year, we had seen his picture and said that we would be interested in finding out more about him. Now it sometimes feels like he's been here forever because he fits into our family so well.

Ryland has a big personality-- talkative, curious and silly. He knows what he wants and likes to be in charge! He loves to learn and asks a lot of questions. He is very affectionate and likes to wrestle with Dad and Gabriel every chance he gets. He loves to hear stories and make up his own. He loves to run and is interested in all kinds of sports and super heroes. He makes friends everywhere we go. He loves animals, especially dogs. And, as I write this, he wants you all to know that he likes ice cream!

Ryland and I have fun playing games, getting outside and cooking together. I love his smile,and his happy singing and dancing. He has a precious heart and I am blessed to be his mama!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thankfulness Day 13: Bethany Peace

Today I am thankful for my daughter Peace, who changed her own name at three years old!  She is a peaceful girl, gentle but fierce when she wants to be. I love to spend time with her.

Peace is unique and confident and doesn't worry about what people think of her. She's not afraid of anything and  wants to travel the world. She is a thoughtful friend and kind to people, enjoying babies and time with grandparents. Peace never stops dancing and when she's on stage her face lights up in such a beautiful way. When she gets a role in a play, it's always the sweet but sassy one. She is creative, always drawing, taking photos, painting and writing and full of ideas. I'm proud to see her working hard to balance her artistic side with being organized and dependable.

Peace looks for beauty and finds it in nature. She reads constantly, drawn to stories of  fairies and dragons and strong warrior girls. She has many dreams and I am enjoying seeing her grow into all that she is meant to be. I'm excited to see where her adventurous spirit will take her in life!

Thankfulness Day 12: Gabriel

Today I am thankful for my 16 year old son, Gabriel. I am a blessed mama in that he gives me a couple of really great hugs every day, and when he does, I am amazed at how tall and strong he is!

Gabriel is my quiet one. He really enjoys time alone, but when he opens up it's a gift we all enjoy. I am always interested to hear his thoughtful opinion on things. He has a quirky sense of humor and makes us laugh so much. He has the biggest imagination and is always full of all kinds of ideas. He is an example to me of a person who doesn't judge or criticize, but always finds the good in people. He is serious and very disciplined about the projects he works on. He is quick to help around the house without being asked and do his schoolwork without complaining. He is playful and patient with his new little brother. He is a gentleman to me and his sisters.

Gabriel has a wide range on interests and talents--many of which involve computer things that I will never understand, but like to hear his enthusiasm about them. I  like to see his creativity when it comes to writing, art, graphic design and music. It will be interesting to see what opportunities he has with all these things as time goes on. But for now, I am just enjoying these years with him, buying a lot of groceries, and treasuring every hug and smile!

Thankfulness Day 11:Jessamyn

I am thankful for my first born girl, Jessamyn . I love her as my daughter and my friend and it's so nice to have her home from her world travels, at least for a while!

I admire so many things about Jessamyn.She is independent and confident and honest. She is so creative and has a unique style. She loves to be with people and knows just how to put together a fun party. She is a beautiful dancer and passionate about her beliefs. She is brave and takes  risks. She is thoughtful and generous and has a great sense of humor. She is organized and dependable. 

Jessamyn is the first child I've raised to adulthood and I am proud of the young woman she is becoming. She uses her strong will  to make good choices (something I sure prayed for many days when she was young!) She has an open heart to learn and grow, and love those around her. 

I am thankful for her beauty and sparkling personality and I look forward to see all she will be in her life!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thankfulness Day 10: My Kids

                                                        Picture by our talented  friend, Dodi

One of the big kids said something about them being The Three Gingers and Ryland quickly added that he was the Gingerbread Man! 

I'm honored to be the mom of these four amazing kids. Every day they inspire me, make me laugh and teach me things. I'm thankful to have the relationships that we have and the time to be together. I am truly blessed by each one of them!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Thankfulness Day 9: Scott

Posted by PicasaToday I am thankful for my husband Scott. He makes me laugh everyday. He calls and tells me to look at the sunset or the moon rise or the snowflakes or rainbows. He watches the roadside wild flowers and picks me a bouquet at just the right time. He brings me his morning espresso for a sip because he knows that's all I want. He is generous and hard working and is a fun loving dad to our kids. He encourages me and supports me in the the things I want to do.  I appreciate how he has been willing to grow together through our 21 years of marriage--richer and poorer, sickness and health, better and worse-- and how he loves me for who I am. 

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Thankfulness Day 8: Perspective

Daydreaming: view from our balcony in Hawaii

Today was a challenging day, but looking for things to be grateful for helped me focus on the blessings I have!

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Monday, November 07, 2011

Thankfulness Day 7: Play

 Teaching, reading, playing games, taking walks,cooking and doing crafts with kids are things that come pretty naturally to me, but sitting and playing with toys somehow seems harder. I know I'm not the only one and  I'm not sure why it is that way, but kids  sure like it when you take the time to do the thing they want to do.  The older kids always had each other , so it surprised me at first when Ryland was looking for someone to play toys with. His speech therapist also suggested that we use the process of play to help him progress with his use of language (grammar, things like opposites, etc.)

We had this train set out and I took a little time to sit with him and before I knew it a story began to grow. We needed pennies to buy blocks to build towns and the bucket of plastic animals for a farm and wolves in the wooden tree forest. A boy was taking a train ride for his 8th birthday and choosing his favorite animal when the bad guys attacked..... and he became a police kid, and the train crashed.....

Sometimes I can be so focused on accomplishing things or not letting the mess get to out of control. Today was a good reminder to me how time to play is good for both of us.

My sister Rebeca, wrote her thankful blog (featuring my cute nieces and nephews) today about children's imagination. We must be kindred spirits!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Thankfulness Day 6: Giving

Every month we give Ryland a certain amount of allowance--some to spend, some to save and some to give. He had saved up $12 in his giving envelope and was very happy to donate it toward filling a box with gifts for a boy his age through Operation Christmas Child. He went to the store with me and picked out things he would like and was quite excited to fill the box, including a picture of us, and take it to church this morning.

Our family has been very blessed in many ways and I believe doing things like this throughout the holidays not only will help someone else, it helps kids learn to be generous instead of just thinking about how much they can get get under the tree. The older kids have been more than wiling to  give of both their time as well as have less materially in the past few years so we can share more.  I'm glad to see them have that value for themselves.

I'm looking forward to this first holiday season with Ryland.... so much fun to share. This morning he was telling me how the Sunday School kids will be singing some songs they are practicing: Silent Night and something about jumping over a mountain! (Go Tell it on the Mountain). I am also listening about the holidays in his  past so we can do some things in a way that's familiar to him.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Thankfulness Day 5: Flowers in November

                                                         View from our front door

Having grown up in a much colder climate, I am always amazed and thankful that we still have flowers in November, and a few that will probably survive the winter. I'm especially liking the yellow and red  sunflowers we planted aloing the street this year.

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Friday, November 04, 2011

Thankfulness Day 4:Joy

Visiting a coffee plantation in Hawaii

This morning two ads caught my eye:
INSTANT JOY (choose 10% off my entire purchase, or $10 off my $40 purchase or $30 off my $80 purchase)
JOYLICIOUS (trademarked) (the bliss my heart can experience when I bite in to a poptart--really?)

As the holidays aproach, retailers are already promising us love, joy, and peace, family harmony, beauty and all our wishes come true if we will only shop at thier store.

May we remember things that bring true and lasting joy in our hearts , even when life's circumstances are hard:

The peace of God
Unconditional love
The gift of time with family and friends
The beauty of creation
The fulfillment of helping others
Freedom and opportunity
A child's smile

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Thursday, November 03, 2011

Thankfulness Day 3 : Backyard Tree

This is the view from our dining room window. This maple tree is so pretty through each season: the new tiny leaves of spring, the dark green shade in summer, now beginning to turn red. When it's bare in the winter we can see lights of the two story houses back behind us, which makes me appreciate the privacy we have the rest of the year.

As long as we put food out, this tree is a playground for many bluebirds and squirrels. It's been a good climbing tree and hiding place for certain boys, and a perfect spot for agirl with a book and a glass of iced tea on a sunny day.

We like this tree so much we have another ready to plant in the back and have planted a similar, more golden, one in the front. It's already grown a lot and will soon give us shade.

I'm thankful to live surrounded by trees, to watch them grown and change and for our family to put down our roots in this home.
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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Thankfulness Day 2: Morning

I am a morning person. I like to be up early…not everyone in my family feels the same, but they all do on the weekdays so we can have time together.

As our kids became teenagers, they all began to have their own evening activities and Scott started working later. This made it hard to have a family dinner with all of us many nights. So our solution became having breakfast together in the mornings. We make our tea, coffee, and breakfast for those who are ready and gather around the table or in the living room. Some may be wrapped in blankets, sleepy. We use the time to talk about anything and everything. Some may be on a laptop sharing a news story, checking in with each other about as our calendars or budget, planning the day’s or week’s  events. Sometimes we don’t say a lot, sometimes we end up having a deep and meaningful conversation. Then it’s time to send Dad out the door with hugs and a check to make sure he has his phone! And our day begins…

We have dinners together on the days we can and often all end up chatting in the living room for a while at night, too, but these morning times have become a good routine and I am thankful for them. 

Hobbit Breakfast 

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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Thankfulness Day One: The Scents of the Season

As we walked down the road with friends, crunching through the leaves on a sunny afternoon, I breathed deep the scents of the maple leaves and sighed. I love this time of the year, October blue skies and all the changing colors. One of my favorite parts of fall is the great smells:
Wood smoke
Spicy Tea
Pumpkin and Sweet Potatoes
Apples and Pears
Thanksgiving dinner
They make me feel like staying home, cozy, and with my family. They remind me to breathe deep, the season is short. 

                                                         Ginger Cookies 
(I found this recipe that my mom has had for years and they turned out perfectly)

3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses

2 cups flour
2 tsps. baking soda
1 tsp each: cinnamon, ginger, cloves

Roll into 1" balls, roll in sugar and place 2" apart on greased cookie sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes at 350. 

They turned out both chewy and crunchy and made the house smell so good. Perfect with either a glass of fresh cold apple cider, or with pumpkin ice cream.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Our Family Grows!

R- age seven Easter 2011

“I won’t ask for ice cream tonight, because tomorrow is an ice cream day”
“Why would that be?”
“Because tomorrow this will be my family for four months.”

A happy day to celebrate, and any excuse to have ice cream!

Four months and many times I do wish I had written more here, but there’s just so much to say… some feelings too big for words, some days too hard to want anyone to see, some details too small without a big picture update….and the hours just full, full, full of living.

Like anytime you add to your family, the first months are an adjustment. Scott and I don’t always get the time to talk like we would like to, but we’ll catch each other’s eye and smile over the kid’s heads and I think we are right where we want to be with what’s important to us. I love them all so much and growing to love our new son has been quite an adventure.

Here is a bit I wrote to family and friends on Day One:
We had a good drive to (the town), beautiful snow and lakes. We got settled in our hotel, met with R's caseworker, and then went to meet him. My first thought was that he was smaller than I expected (and even cuter!). He had a decorated shirt from his school celebration today, so we talked about that for a while. We spent time looking through our photo book with him. He's very excited to meet his big brothers and sisters and kept looking at their Karate picture. We saw his room and went outside with a basketball for a while, then we went out for pizza (his birthday dinner
choice-- yes, he turned 7 today!) After dinner we gave him birthday gifts-- a Toy story dinosaur, a Bible story book and a Mohawk hat knit by Jessamyn.
We met a few of the relatives throughout the day and his foster brothers who were very friendly.
Tomorrow we'll take him to school and meet with his teachers and have dinner with his "grandparents" who have adopted his 1/2 siblings. Friday we have an appointment with his counselor, may meet another sibling, more caseworker meetings and, of course, some swimming at the hotel!

Everything's gone really well so far. He's so excited and talked non-stop to us. Giggles, dimples and we got a hug before bed...

And a few days later :
Things I’ve learned about R: he loves to help cook, wrestle with dad and brother, stories at night, loves all the dogs  we see at the park and really wants one, is excited every time we see a squirrel, “wishes” for lots of things in the store, keeps his room really clean, and likes to do everything for himself. He’s been very generous with hugs and giggles

About a month later:
R is doing really well. We are enjoying him so much as we see him relax and show his lively personality more and more. He loves his siblings and cousins and is making friends fast. He’s just started swimming with no help and we play outside a lot. We’ve now get everything set up with Drs. dentists, a counselor who’s helping us talk about “feelings” (of which he has a lot sometimes—esp. anger) and speech therapy, in which he continues to improve, both in pronunciation and using the right words.

R is in a charter school. He attends a couple classes a week and has an hour long one on one meeting with his supervising teacher each week. She’s great and I teach him at home too—lots of hands on activities and breaks to avoid frustration. We will continue to work at home a little , esp. on reading, throughout the summer.

Three months:
R  is continuing to get more settled and doing really well. We are continuing to learn every day, and the more we do, the better we can love him and help him . What I am not concerned about is our ability to “attach” to each other—he is definitely bonding with us and that is the most important thing and what  people worry about going into an adoption. I’m finding that the more we build a good relationship, the easier it is to help him with his feelings and behaviors—I knew that in my head, but I’m figuring out how to actually work on it every day. It’s kind of backwards from what I naturally want to do sometimes. He is a great boy…
He had a tooth pulled and just needs one more filling—glad to have that almost done. He has also grown a half inch since he got here—measured in the 50th percentile for height and 30th for weight. We continue to see the counselor almost every week. Speech therapy ended last week with a little party in class. Sadly his teacher lost her job in the budget cuts, so he will have a new one next year. Yesterday was pizza and bowling with Sunday school—R won the bowling game in his group and had  a lot of fun—I need to keep bowling in mind for a rainy day next winter.

Fun stuff—R is swimming all by himself! He’s so excited and proud and really loves it. We went over to the Karate school and watched some of a class, we’ll sign him up for July and see how that goes. He’s making good friends with a boy named Joshua from school who lives near us. We made plans to go out to a nearby farm on Friday, but Joshua was sick so we’ll try again. The farm has goats and sheep and other animals you can pet and feed. (R talks nearly every day about a wanting  a dog and we do plan to get him in the future) He’s made friends with a friend’s dog named Coconut.

We have been working on the yard, planting and spreading new bark. R loves to work with Scott – I took some really cute pictures of him out there with a small shovel.

So we have the last of our school classes coming up, day camp at church and a school day camp we will attend for at least one day, maybe more. Then looking forward to some lazy days!

We are playing Uno and Skip-bo almost every day and I keep meaning to get the Jenga from my mom’s house.

So there a few glimpses of our time so far as well as Facebook posts to look back on and many pictures.
The next 8 weeks of summer look pretty laid back and I welcome it— these past for months have been very full. Besides R’s arrival, the 2 teenagers at home  have very busy lives and we talk to Jessamyn (who was in Hawaii for 3 months and now in Japan) almost every day.
I have lots more to say and will try to get here more often. I so appreciate the thoughtfulness and prayers of our family and friends. We are very blessed to have the support we have.
April 2011

Sunday, March 06, 2011


I celebrated my fourteenth birthday with a candle stuck in a pineapple, picnicking by the side of the road in Mexico. We were on our way to visit an orphanage, Colonia Gurerro. I had been there once before and my parents had friends who worked there and we had sponsored various children through the years. We spent several days there, visiting the local farm workers camps where the conditions were heartbreaking, working in the kitchen, serving oatmeal and smiling across the language barrier. I went to the school and shook a tambourine during the church service. But the thing that moved my heart the most was the babies. I held as many as I could, for as long as they would let me. There was one we called the raisin baby, he was so small and wrinkled. I wanted to take them all home. I’m sure I begged my parents many times to see if we could (on this same trip I also wanted to bring home the baby monkey in a diaper with a hole cut out for his tail from the zoo, too). As I look back, I think that is where I began to think of someday helping a child in need through adoption (the desire to have a monkey somehow didn’t stay with me!).

Four years later, Scott and I met. In a very early conversation I remember saying I wanted to adopt and he said he did, too. When we married, we planned to have two kids and adopt two. We soon had three beautiful children within five years and our hands full! Adoption was still in our minds and we watched as several friends and Scott’s sister began to foster or adopt. We soaked in their stories and waited. Waiting goes hand in hand with adopting…. We waited for our little ones to get older, to move to a bigger house, to overcome some challenges including my struggles with anxiety and depression. But in my mind were all those children, often in my dreams, who simply needed what we’d been blessed with—a family.

Four years ago our youngest was ten and we moved into the bigger house. We had come to believe that, for us, adopting through the state system would be the way to go. I made the phone call for information on the classes we needed to take and there began the long process…they didn’t call me back. Several calls and messages later, I finally talked to someone and found out the next set of classes we would be available to start was four months away. We waited…

We attended an all day orientation and classes for three hours every Tuesday night for eight weeks. It was an interesting group—people like us who wanted to adopt or foster for the first time and many grandparents and even great-grandparents, aunts and uncles who were adopting a related child that they already were caring for. Lots of stories and every seemed to feel the need to tell theirs, which made some of those classes pretty long! We went through topics covering the state processes, parenting skills, trauma and abuse, and discussion with experienced adoptive parents. These children had been in foster care, often many times and the state was terminating the birth parents rights to them and looking for a permanent adoptive home. What I think our teachers conveyed very well was a balanced view of reality and hope. The children have special needs of many kinds that would challenge us, but they can also come a long way with unconditional love and patience.

We completed the classes and were giving a very thick envelope of paperwork to fill out, including writing our personal histories and parenting perspectives. Just as we got started, Scott moved to a different company and began working longer hours. He really needed to focus on his job for a while and we to wait a while before we moved any further with adopting. Two years almost passed and we learned that we would have to take the classes all over again if we didn’t get our applications in. I remember working on answering our questions in a hotel room on the way home from a trip to Mexico, and rushing the envelope over to the office the next morning to make our deadline! We had to get medical forms filled out by our Drs. and references from friends and relatives. We had to decide what ages and kinds of needs we wanted to be considered for. There were many frustrations… everything took way longer than it seems like it should have, some things we had to redo because of delays and mistakes.

We were finally assigned a case worker. She visited our home, interviewed us and our kids and began to write our homestudy, a document that summarized all our information. In our 20th anniversary last June, our homestudy was complete and we sat in an office with a big book full of children’s bulletins, ready to begin the matching process. We were to choose the ones we were interested in, based on pictures and a one page description. We had decided to look at single boys or sibling sets of two, ranging in age from 2-7, feeling better suited to help with academic or behavioral needs more that medical needs . We chose several and our case worker sent our homestudy to each child’s case worker. The children’s caseworkers would chose three families for each child and then an independent committee would select the family they believed to be the best match for that child.

We found out the bulletins were a little outdated, some kids had already been adopted. Then our various workers went on medical leave and vacation, so we didn’t hear much during the summer. One worker was interested in us, but as we learned more about that particular situation we decided it wasn’t a good fit for us. In October our worker emailed us several new child bulletins and we said the initial “yes, we would be interested” to five or six of them. And we waited, wondered and lived our already full lives as a family. I often thought of how much more difficult the passing of time must be for a child who is waiting for the promise of a “forever family”.

Right before Thanksgiving , we were told we had been selected to go to the committee for a seven year old boy. We read more about him and decided to continue the process. The committee met on January tenth and we waited nervously for the phone call. They meet, listen to the child’s caseworker and counselor speak, and the worker for each family makes a presentation for that family and shares their book of photos. Then they deliberate and usually make the decision that day. It felt very odd to us that the child who would join our family would come to us in such an unusual way—based our yes and no, the appeal of a picture or description, the biases and ideas of the committee—a very unscientific process. We knew we could be a good family for many different children and just prayed a lot for a good decision to be made. I took the call and our answer was No, they had chosen another family who already had adoptive experience and a child of the same racial background. I felt very peaceful about the news, but strange that we had spent so much time answering questions and asking questions, making phone calls to the boy’s foster parents and counselor, preparing for the possibility of this specific boy and then suddenly the door closes and we will never hear anything about him again.

We were given access to the state’s new website at this point, which would make it easier to begin to look for other children. I was just starting to look, three days after the first committee decision, when I got a call from our worker—they were interested in us for a six year old boy, one of the ones we read about back in the fall! This time we knew what to expect and met with our worker to help answer questions for her presentation of our family, what about us would be a good match for him. I spent a couple hours on the phone with the boy’s foster family and his counselor and case worker. We wondered how many times we would go through this, but also felt so relieved to finally come to this point in the process! We knew when it did happen, the child would be placed with us within a couple weeks—but we didn’t know who to prepare for!

Though all this took longer than I would have imagined years ago, I was thankful for the stages of independence and maturity our kids had reached, and that we had waited until things were more settled at Scott’s work.

March 2, 2011. Committee day. A few last minute twists—one of the three families had dropped out, so there were just two of us for them to chose between. The meeting was in Klamath Falls, about four hours away—due to snowstorms and our worker breaking her arm, it was decided the 2 workers would attend by videoconference. Scott went to work and I used my nervous energy to clean the house. At 12:14 my phone rang—“Your family was chosen by the committee—Congratulations, you have a new son!” I called Scott immediately, told the kids, called the grandparents and my good friend who had praying with me so many times (this is where I got teary!) and , of course, made it Facebook official!

Before the child is told there is a seven day waiting period, during which time we are to be certified as guardian (legal adoption doesn’t happen for many months), read through every piece of paperwork about him and participate in making a plan to move him to our home. This is where we are right now. I hope to be talking with his case worker tomorrow to find out more details. We will be travelling and meeting with his foster family, counselor and school—and meeting our son for the first time! My mind is full of questions and I can’t imagine what it will be like for him or us! He knows he is going to be adopted and the day he will be told about us and see our picture book is next Wednesday, his seventh birthday.

At this point, I’m not going to put his picture or name up for general public viewing on the internet, but I can tell you a few things about him. He comes from a sadly typical background—never knew his birth father, has been back and forth to his birth mother until this fall it was determined that an adoptive placement would be better for him. He has several half-siblings, living with different people. He has been with his foster family for most of the past 3 years and they have been so good for him and he is doing really well, considering the instability of his early years. I’ve been on the phone a lot with his foster mom and believe we are talking about how to make this huge transition as smooth as possible and continue some contact with them and the guardians of his siblings. He is doing well in first grade, and is in speech therapy. He is very healthy and growing a lot lately. His racial background is African American/ Caucasian and he has a great smile (toothless at the moment!) and dimples. He likes to play outside and like all kinds of superheroes as his favorite toys and games. He wants his new family to have a big brother!

This has been a long and emotional journey and really it’s only beginning… we are so thankful for the love and support and prayers of our family and friends. Our boy will have so much to process, and parenting him will be so different than those we’ve parented from birth. I know there will be many challenges and surprises. I’m excited, nervous and peaceful at the same time, I have many questions and concerns, I want our older kids to have a good transition, too. Jessamyn is preparing to leave for her school in a month, so that’s also a big thing…not sure why it’s all happening at once, but it is and we will take one day at a time, loving our family.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What's Important

This afternoon, between us girls, we are trying to make decisions on a schedule change, trying to get help for a log-in that isn't working, making dental appointments, trying to get a banking issue that's been going on for months resolved and trying to find out where in the world a package is .... all have the potential to be really frustrating for us! While these things need to get figured out, I am trying to put them in perspective.

Life can change in a moment and I have been thinking of that all day.

Last night we woke up to the sound of firetrucks, five of them plus an ambulance, on our street. There was a fire at a house in the cul-de-sac just around the corner from us. I don't know it started or how bad it was--there are tarps around the chimney and people working there this morning. The fire trucks were here for about two hours. I hope no one was hurt and I think how life can change in a moment.

This morning I went to read a blog on my list--one I've read for a couple years after reading a book the woman has written. Today's blog post is from her husband, saying she had a sudden stroke yesterday, is in serious condition, in and out of surgery...I think she's still in her 30's and she's a runner and has young kids --not what her family would have expected when they woke up yesterday.

Then I am also reminded of Haiti today, on the anniversary of the earthquake, as I read posts and blogs from our friends who live there. Things were already so difficult, then in one moment it became unimaginably worse.

Our lives can change in moment, and and I think I don't want to waste these peaceful moments being too frustrated with the bank and the guy who can't seem to get the package mailed ..... I want to remember there may come a day when I wish this was all I was dealing with.
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Saturday, January 01, 2011

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

The year begins, full of newness and promise. Within a week, a day, a few hours maybe the shininess will wear off. I love new beginnings, I always have...but I know who I am and that I will never live up to all the intentions I have. Over the years I  have found a lot more grace, I'm a lot more comfortable with myself and my life not being perfect. It goes by fast and I am finding more joy a long the way.

My word for the year is Growth. I want to grow in many ways, to continue to learn and change. Growth in  nature occurs in many ways-- flowers and berries burst suddenly with the seasons, a tree trunk grows slowly over the years, bulbs wait quietly underground--everything has it's time and rhythm, and usually won't survive being forced. The process is beautiful, not just the end result. Drenching rain and warming  sun are both essential. My prayer, for myself and my family, is that this year  that we will grow in grace and find beauty in some way every day this year.