Thursday, May 27, 2010

Soaking up Sun and Laying Eggs

Oh, have you ever seen such beauties??? We went on a little walk down the driveway yesterday. These sweet mamas were out for a little sun and egg laying. They were all very large (about 12" in diameter), very mossy and very unamused by us. :-) As the mama of seven, I could relate. I would hate to have eight people staring at me while trying to give birth.

These girls may look sweet (doesn't Beauty #1 almost look like she's smiling?) but don't be deceived. They were just waiting for a reason to stick that long, scaly neck way out and open that mouth to snap down on a finger, a toe, a nose . . .

Will the Wonder Cat meets Stella the Snapping Turtle. This cat knows no fear. He dances with Coyotes, prowls all night, sleeps in the garage all day. He almost met his match this time. :-)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Willing Hearts and Walkin' Shoes

These are the cool and colorful feet of our first six children . . . .

. . . and the sweet little baby feet of number seven . . .

I want what's best for the seven sets of feet you see above. I want to get there in safety and quite a bit of comfort and really, really want to get there with all my little "feet" happy and content and just full of gratitude for this great life they have. Smiling. Grateful. Happy. Loving Jesus every minute. Not arguing/bickering/talking back/whining. (I know, a TOTAL fantasy.)

It occurred to me this week that my kiddos have gotten way down deep into a pattern of complaining lately. It also occurred to me that I have too. Hmmmmm . . .

I've been pondering this a LOT over the past few days. Hubby and I have had some good conversations and we've decided it's time for some major corrective training with the kids - and ourselves. We're going into a zero tolerance mode for whining, complaining and bickering. At the heart of all of these is one very large and SELFISH heart crying out in a hundred ways ME, ME, ME. All of us in our own sinful way have been carrying on like this. It is amazing how we justify our own desires. I have to admit, we are a pretty creative bunch. It's not easy to demand your own way and sound humble in the process!

I sit in complete wonder that we as people can have so much, yet whine and complain with such vigor. I am guilty as charged.

The thing that weighs heavy on my heart is this: You often hear people who have visited third-world countries say that the people there are so full of love and life and joy despite their poverty. Usually you hear them say that they learned what true joy was by watching and interacting with these people. How can that be? We have everything we need/want/long for and more, yet as a society are the most miserable and discontented folks on earth. How can that be? Our poverty is not measured in lack of goods or food or home or family. But maybe our poverty is something even worse. Maybe our poverty is poverty of the soul. We don't NEED God, really. I mean, of course we do, but there are lots of days when we think we don't. We act like we don't.

The other night when we were reading the Bible together, we stopped to talk about a passage on prayer. Oldest daughter looked frustrated and when I asked her what she was thinking, she replied, "I don't even know what to pray for. Our life is so easy." I can't really describe the feeling that washed over me. It felt a lot like failure. And poverty.

Hubby has often said, half joking, "Let's sell it all." I, half joking, say "Okay." Then, I begin to think of all the reasons we shouldn't. Some of them are good, some are a stretch. I tell you, I am the MOST creative in this bunch. :-)

I can't wait to go and get these kids and bring them home and love them and protect them and be Christ to them. My heart is there more and more. My heart is ever more thinking of the widow too. How can we help her keep her babies, keep her home, survive in her corner of the world. I want Him to teach me what it means to want more of Him and less of me. I want my kids to get that.

How will this life look in five years? Ten? I don't know anymore. I used to be pretty sure. We had a plan. When hubby says "Let's sell it all," I find myself wondering more and more what that would look like . . .

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Birth Order and Love

This is written by Heidi Weimer, a mom of 4 bio kids and 6 adopted (all from Ethiopia). All of her adopted children are older than, same age as, or younger than her bio kids. Meaning - they are all mixed in, all ages, birth order shaken all to heck. It is a very common fear, I think, for people to talk themselves out of adoption because of what it may mean to their birth kids, or their family life as they know it, or whatever. I know for sure it weighed on our minds for quite a while. This is a 'shake it up' post by her, and one that made us both think long and hard about some things . . .

A Greater Capacity

Every day I receive emails from potential adoptive parents and post-adoptive families asking for advice, support, feedback, direction, and information regarding adoption. It thrills us to be able to point people in the right direction, advise families in the process, and pray for those who are preparing to live out James 1:27. This is the ministry God has given to us, and we are stoked. Our vision is to serve as full-time adoption advocates, and we are making real steps in that direction. Soon we will be operating through our We Have Room web site, which will act as a resource for those stepping into the adoption world, those who are just getting their feet wet, and those who are swimming in the post-adoption sea, sometimes raging and sometimes of glee. We feel honored to be able to be used even in just a small way and to let others know, "Hey, we've been there."

One email that I receive a few times every week sounds a little something like this: "Heidi and Kirk, Your story has been very encouraging to us, as we also feel led to adopt older kids or a sibling group, but I am just very scared of what it might do to our family, how it will affect our current kids, and what kind of short- and long-term implications it might have. Can you tell me how your biological kids adjusted to being knocked out of their birth order? How did your oldest feel about no longer being the oldest? I'm afraid I'm going to be taking away from them something that is legitimately theirs and I'm scared of what that will do to their emotions/personality/self-worth/security/what-have-you. I'm afraid they will feel ripped off."

To each and every person reading this post who knows the concrete conviction of being called to care for the older orphans yet also bears the weight of the accompanying thoughts of fear, I want you to know this...Please hear me loud and clear, as we have now SIX times over displaced our "original" kids' birth order:

You are NOT taking anything AWAY from your birth children. Instead, what you are doing is imparting to them something eternal: You are expanding their capacity to love. Think about that for a minute before you read anything else. How do you plan to teach your child to love others unconditionally and in total compassion without giving them the opportunity to do so? I'm telling you now, You CAN'T.

My biological children have a greater capacity of love in their hearts than I could ever impart to them by just giving them a safe Christianity, by maintaining their status quo, by simply modeling "godliness" as parents (as if that's the end-all be-all for a Christian family). My kids...all of them...have lived out self-sacrifice and understand (because they live it!) that laying down one's life does not steal anything from us. That is the lie of the devil, who would have us believe that sacrifice is not worth it; that there is nothing for us in return; that God doesn't really mean what He says when He said to His followers that "anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. [Because] Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matthew 10:38-39).

Do you really believe that? That whoever LOSES his life for Jesus's sake, for Jesus the Orphan's sake, will actually FIND it? Ask yourself honestly. Because you might answer YES prematurely. I have no doubt that you might believe it for yourself, but do you really believe it for your children, too? That if they "lose" their "place" in the family that Jesus will instead impart to them LIFE? REAL life???

What is birth order anyway but just a sequence of how your child came to you? Let's not make an idol of that sequence. Because that's what it IDOL. Something standing in the way of you taking up the Cross to follow Him, to BE JESUS in this world. Let's not place a value on birth order that God did not intend to be there.

Consider the older orphan. Consider the sibling groups. Consider the ones who are not often considered.

And whatever you do on your adoption journey, PLEASE I beg you, do NOT steal from your children the opportunity for their love capacity to be expanded. Do not deny them the true gift of learning early in life that "My life is not my own."

When your feisty and spunky 7-year-old biological daughter, who is now the middle child of 9 after being knocked down to #5 from #2, pleads "Please, Mommy, Please!!! I want another sister my age!!! Can we PLEASE adopt again?!!," your heart will beat out of your chest, not just because you can envision another child saved, but because you know that your daughter will NEVER EVER live a limited, safe Christianity. She won't even know what that means. In fact, she won't even have the capacity do so.

And all because you didn't limit her, either. You didn't limit God.Give your children the gift of the greater capacity to love. Let it ripple out into the future. Let it change the world. "

Friday, May 14, 2010


Well, things are moving very quickly here these days. Many people who are adopting through our agency are receiving referrals much faster than they anticipated. The standard wait time for a referral is from 8 to 12 months from when a dossier is sent to Ethiopia. We are seeing several people in our America World Yahoo Group receiving referrals within 3-4 months of sending their dossier. It has been a really neat thing as many of the children are older, many have special needs and many have been waiting for a long time to be adopted. It is overwhelming to see how many people are willing to open their hearts and their lives to this mission. A good percentage of them for the second or third time. It is clear from talking with them that they have been so blessed by their experiences.

Tonight, we are asking for prayers for a potential scenario for our adoption. We would really covet prayers for clarity and a sense of assurance for some decisions we need to make in the next week or so. Sorry to be so vague, but we cannot give details at this point.

We cannot wait for the day when we have our referrals and can share their sweet, sweet faces with you all!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Giving Thanks and Paper Chasing

We had our first garage sale two weeks ago. Thankfully, the rain didn't keep people away and it was a lot of fun and a success in so many ways. Oldest son spent a few really great days with my dad making daggers and swords to sell. He got some quality time with grandpa in his wood shop and learned how to use power tools. A boy's dream come true. They're two peas in a pod - like to work alone and love to build - so this was just a great time all around for both of them. The swords were just the icing on the cake. :-) Oldest son brought them home, painted them and got his sign ready for garage sale day. He sold every one he made and took orders for more. He's well on his way to saving for his airfare! Here's a photo of his sign. Have to admit it had me choked up for a minute. This boy LOVES his grandpa.

We had so many friends donate items to sell and were just overwhelmed with the kindess of so many people. Our good friends came over both days and stayed ALL day to help. It was such an amazing gesture of friendship and support and boy, they were a HUGE help. Their oldest son is a whiz at math and was a super cashier. Our middle girls and their daughter were the snack bar queens. They made about 20% of the total sales with their cookies and Ethiopian coffee! We had Africa-shaped sugar cookies that I made the nights before and delicious butterscotch oatmeal cookies provided by our friends. They were a big hit!

Our homestudy report is written up and is under review by our local agency. We should get a copy next week and once it's ok'd by us and our main agency, we send our I-600A off to U.S. Immigration. Once they send back their approval, we're ready to send our dossier off to Ethiopia!!! We've had a really smooth time of gathering paperwork. One-by-one we've checked off the boxes with no snags so far. It seems that Indiana is one of the better states to live in for adoption. We've heard horror stories of other states and the WEEKS it takes to get forms returned. Indiana is at the top of the scale for speed. Love that!

We all got our passport applications sent out today. Have to tell ya, the lady at the post office looked like she wanted to run when she knew why all 9 of us were there. :-) It was seriously funny. She was afraid. Very afraid. Luckily, we had all of our photos already taken at Costco, or she may have fainted on the spot. She kept saying, "This is going to be a lot of writing." We all just smiled and waited. I think she thought the kids would start climbing the walls or something before she could finish. We scared her. A lot. They were well behaved though and at some point went out to watch a little video in the van. They all came back at the end to give their sworn oath that they were, in fact, who they claimed to be and we were done. I'm pretty sure she went on break immediately after we left. LOL!!!

The referrals for our agency are happening really fast right now. That is GREAT news for so many kids and waiting families. Lots of little ones and sibling groups being adopted into their forever families. If these time frames continue, we could have these kiddos home sooner than we first thought. We're trying not to get our hopes up, but it's exciting to know we're so close to having our dossier ready to go.

We're officially approved for two children ages 0-4. This could be a set of twins, a sibling group of two that fit that age range, or possibly two unrelated children. Our agency does not allow "artificial twinning" (adopting two unrelated children of the same age), so we're just waiting to see how God works this out. It gets me crazy excited because I know He already knows the EXACT children He has ordained for our family and our family for those children. From each and every date that a document is finalized, to each and every person we meet in this process, to each and every person that has come along side us in support, we have sensed His hand and are resting securely in that.

We continue to pray daily for this whole process. We pray for our children, not knowing if they are born, or yet to be born. We pray for their birth mother's heart and health and if she is no longer living, that she somehow knows her precious babies will be dearly loved and cared for. We pray prayers of gratitude for good friends and family and your support and prayers as you have come along side us. We appreciate all of you more than you'll ever know.

Have a great weekend!