Sunday, November 27, 2011

Non traditional gift giving-Products from Adoption Fundraisers

$99 flat screen tvs and $199 Nook Colors.  Cheap DVDs and cheap toys.  Black Friday is always full of deals.  That said, I often find myself torn on Black Friday.  I love a good deal and believe God want me to be frugal and thrifty.  But I almost always walk away a little sad about what a consumer nation we are.  It is hard not get get caught up in all the bargains of the day.  But also hard to know that as we spend, there are others who are getting by on very little.  I guess that saying "Live simply so others can simply live." often comes back to me.  (It doesn't mean I don't buy things on Black Friday, just that I try not to get sucked into buying stuff I don't need just because it's a good deal.)

And every year at this time, as we start thinking about gifts to give, I find myself challenge to give gifts that bless not just the person who receives the gift.  There are many ways to do so.  Last year, I highlighted fair trade type projects, things that are were a part of small organizations and were a way for people in developing countries to sustain themselves.  This year, I plan to do the same.  But first, I thought I'd highlight another way to give:  by supporting adoption fundraisers.  I know people have mixed feelings about adoption fundraising.   (I've actually already written a post on adoption fundraising and the various reactions it garners.  If you're not sure how you feel about adoption fundraising or if you just don't like the idea, I'd encourage you to read it.)  Regardless of your feelings on adoption fundraising, I think it is fair to say Walmart, Target, and K-Mart all get way too much of our money.  So why not consider purchasing a product from someone who made it themselves or who is tied into a corporation that is not quite as large as a major box store?  Instead of Bath and Body Works, what about handmade goat milk soap?  Or instead of a skirt from Penney's or Kohls, what about a skirt from someone's etsy shop?  And the best part?  Those gifts are a part of someone's adoption story, a story of God's provision in the life of a family and a child.

Here's a list to get you started:

The Boyd family, adopting a little boy from Uganda
Tee shirts (Jesus Loves the Little Children theme)

The Chambers family, adopting a boy from China
Tee shirts (Chinese characters plus an assortment of other graphics including adoption and Scripture references)

The Waughtal family, adopting two girls from China
Tee shirts (Chinese character plus an assortment of family related graphics)

Lilli's family, raising money for a service dog for their deaf daughter, also adopting another deaf daughter from China
IPAD and quilt raffles
also selling coffee
also gain money by referring families to Circle Pi, a company specializing in creating keepsake videos (list Dubbs family as the referral source)

The Walker family, adopting from China
Goat milk soap

The Ryland family, adopting a teenager from China
Selling an assortment of treaures:  fine China dishes, collectible Barbies, handmade bracelets and watch sets

The Ballou family, adopting from China
Fine art including oil paintings and drawings

Contribute to the grant money available to the family who decides to adopt Olga, a 4 year old orphan in Russa with CP in great danger of being transferred to a mental institution unless a family adopts her
A 31 Fundraiser (personalized bags and more)

Aliyah's family, adopting from China
Doll dresses and skirts, also some are available as matching sets for your little girl and her doll

The Spence family, adopting from China
Handmade hats, hair accessories, bags, and clothing

Feel free to leave information in the comments if you or someone you know is doing a fundraiser with a product to purchase.  I'll happily add it to the list.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fill in the Blank Part 2

And because I know you all are just dying to, Conleigh was not talking about private parts.

Conleigh's disapproval at Kenson's decision to play cowgirl went like this:

"Kenson, you can't be a cowgirl.  You don't have a head of a girl."

Giggle...her phrasing just made me laugh.

A Fill in the Blank

So this morning, the kids were playing dress up.  You know the kind where they look for any item not nailed down and add it to their ensemble?  Like 5 cocktail rings featuring a plastic pink solitaire.  Or not one but three fluffy tutus layered over their pants.

Kenson decided he was going to be a cowgirl but Conleigh disagreed.  In her own words "Kenson, you can't be a cowgirl.  You don't have a _______________."

Now here's the fun part...let me know what you think she said.  I'll fill in the blank with her actual words later.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What's Cooking for Thanksgiving

Just in case you need some last minute inspiration, I thought I'd share what I'm making for Thanksgiving.  We actually had an early Thanksgiving last weekend with my hubby's family.  Then we'll be on to my side's for the actual day.  (My cousin and his family are back from a yearish long stint in India.)

Last weekend, I made Pumpkin Dump Cake and Sugar Cookie Bars.  The Pumpkin Dump Cake is a wonderfully easy version of upside down pumpkin pie, a pumpkin pie layer topped with a crunchy streusel type crust.  The Sugar Cookie Bars I have already posted on.  D requested those and by adding some fall sprinkles, they were perfect for Thanksgiving.  For this week's celebration, I'm making Three Fruit Relish.  It combines tart apples, raspberries, and cranberries with a hint of orange for a sweet and sour, cold salad.  I'm also going to make a dessert snack tray with caramels and fudge.  I decided to try a new Microwave Caramel recipe.  Um, yummy!  And easy!  No worrying about scorching the caramels or overcooking and ending up with hard as a rock candy.  I honestly think I will be using this recipe a lot.  The recipe, as listed, is a bit bland but I personally thought it was much better when I added in vanilla and some sea salt.  I also topped it off with sea salt so it was kind of a take on salted caramels.  I'm also trying a new recipe for the fudge.  Pumpkin Fudge sounded like a grand way to use up my leftover pumpkin puree from the dump cake I made earlier.  It is kind of eggnog meets pumpkin pie meets white chocolate fudge.  And because two new recipes weren't enough, I also opted for another candy with fall flair:  Maple Peanut Fudge.  In all fairness, I'm not really sure I'd classify it as a fudge, more of a candy mixed with a fudge.  I added maple flavoring and then drizzled chocolate over mine.  It has the consistency and texture of a Reece's Peanut Butter Cup but with subtle maple flavor.

Best part of all my efforts?  I have extra so I can use the three candies during the Christmas season either as gifts or as goodies to share.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Orphan Care and HIV/AIDS

Thinks of some cause and effect relationships that you know.  If you're parenting a little one, you might have thought of something like "touch a hot stove, get burned" or "stick a toy in an outlet, get shocked."  If you're on a diet, you might have thought "eat a cookie, gain a pound."  Or if you've just came home from work, your thoughts might drift towards "be late, get yelled out" or "try to use the copy machine, get confused."

I'm guessing most of you did not think "get HIV/AIDS, leave your children as orphans."  The reality is that HIV and AIDS are contributing factors when it comes to why children become orphans.  When fathers die, families fail.  When mothers die, families fail.  When aunts, uncles, sisters and brothers die, families fail.  It's not even that every person in a child's family dies.  It's that when an important link in the support system is not there, the family cannot sustain itself.  If a father dies, there is no income.  If a mother dies, there is no caretaker.  If siblings die or extended family die, there is no community to fall back on.

Most people are unaware of how manageable HIV is.  It is not a death sentence.  We are not in the 80's.  Take 5 minutes and watch this video from Project Hopeful.  I was amazed when I watched it and had to know more.

Visit Project Hopeful to learn more about HIV/AIDS, to find children who are waiting children living with HIV, or to learn how to support their Hope Sisterhood project which enables HIV positive women to support their families through education and empowerment to work.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Kenson made his first stab at invented spelling today.   (You know, where they guess what letters make the sounds, and yes, it really is called that in teacherese.)  You'll never guess on what word?  Beatrice.  As in the town.  B-A-J-R-S.  Beatrice.  He had B-A already on the fridge with the magnets when I walked in.  I heard him saying the sounds to himself "Beeeee Aaaaaaa Chhhhhh."  The "Ch" stumped him.  (Those silly digraphs...they trick kids all the time!)  He settled on "J".  Then I helped him by saying the last sounds but he picked the letters out.  Too funny, I mean, usually kids just spell cat.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Waiting Child Challenge-China's Waiting Child Program

Take 5 minutes and repost this info.  Maybe you will help a waiting child find a home.  

I've learned a lot about Chinese adoption in the last few weeks, specifically in regards to waiting special needs children. Some things I've learned: 

The timeline is crazy fast.  12 months or less, and if you wait to accept a referral on a child until later in the process, the child can end up being under a year old when they travel home.  I don't know how often that happens but it is feasible.  It is also very feasible to come home with a child under two.

It is not crazy expensive in terms of adoption (I would say 23, 000 on average. Remember that an average US domestic newborn adoption averages 20, 000).

The process is stable and does not contain a lot of variation as to what will happen and when it will happen.

The information available to adoptive parents regarding the health of the child is actually pretty good.  (Comparatively, we are still talking about international adoption and trying to understand a child's health needs without actually examining them.  You also have a government trying to share information which means things could be misdiagnosed or the information could be outdated.)  Compared to the information we received with our Haitian adoptions, it's like a book.  

There are lots and lots and lots of waiting kids in China.  The system for locating a waiting child is very spelled out and well organized.  The Chinese government controls every facet of adoptions and so there are several different lists that kids end up being on, all fairly well publicized if you know where to look.  There is also a crazy good advocate system in place in the US, created by an assortment of people who want to see those waiting kids find homes.  If you want more information on the different sites, let me know.  I literally know of at least ten websites dedicated to waiting kids, many of which provide you with great information about specific children through.  

Curious about what types of kids are waiting?  C'mon, you know you are.  Head over to Sharing Life and Love to view a few photos including 5 year odl Wen Wen.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Favorite Faithful Living Quotes...

"We aren’t really called to save the world, not even to save one person; Jesus has already done that. We are called to love with abandon."  Katie Davis 

"I have come to realize more and more that the greatest disease and the greatest suffering is to be unwanted, unloved, uncared for, to be shunned by everybody, to be just nobody (to no one)."  Mother Teresa

"We can worship Christ in our sanctuaries and we can pray to God on our knees, but how we treat — or neglect – the person next door, the poor, every human being, this is how we truly speak to Christ and this is how we really treat Jesus."  Ann Voskamp

"God in His Sovereignty decided you could be born and allowed you to live in a place that has almost everything anyone could ever desire, so there is no guilt that He has ordered your life this way.  The only guilt we bear is the guilt of ignoring the men, women, and children of this world who do not have what we have-the guilt of spending the majority of our time, money, and resources exclusively on ourselves and our families."  Kay Warren

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thoughts from a Public Bathroom

Those of you with little ones who require your presence while using a public restroom know that the act of using said public restroom is always about one really loud comment away from embarrassment.  Whether it's a comment related to the size of Mama's hiney, questions about which bathroom function you are performing, exclamations about the smells in the bathroom or an inquiry about the funny noises that are coming from the stranger using the stall next door, you often are left wondering why on earth public restroom bathrooms are not equipped with some form of sound absorption so at the very least, whatever is said does not echo around the entire restroom for all to hear.

Today though was a first.  There were no words about body functions or body parts.  Instead it was my little boy uttering multiple times "I'm Satan."  I.Have.No.Idea.  So don't ask me why.  (I'm going to go with the fact that he was sort of hissing prior to the remarks and was perhaps pretending to be a snake in the Garden of Eden.  Yes, let's just go with that.)

Celebrate Adoption-Waiting Child Tabby

Tabby has been on the Nebraska Heart Gallery page for quite a while now.  I love how she seems to have a spirit that wants to be positive and helpful to others.  So many teens wait for families because, let's face it, adopting a teen is scary.  But it is doable.  Hard but doable.  I often think of the soccer boys who end up in our house, watching soccer games or eating meals, and recognize that in a lot of ways, those waiting teens are a lot like D's soccer boys.  Just makes me sad.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Celebrate Adoption-Prudence and Practicality vs. Faith and Fearlessness

People often assume that D and I adopted our children because we could not have biological children.   While it is true that we have yet to experience pregnancy, what is also true is that we did not set out to adopt because of that.  We discussed adoption long before we married.  When we were ready to start actively taking steps to begin a family, we started looking at adoption.  Like many people, we came to adoption because we wanted to have children.  But we also came because of a deep desire to do the right thing for children without families.  For me, I had personally seen children in Romanian orphanages and I could not know what I knew and just walk away.

It's not that our adoptions are more noble than anyone else's.  Our adoptions were simply about obedience to God, believing that God placed in our hearts a desire for children, that God gave us certain gifts and talents that made us a family who could parent kids with some hurts, that we knew that God desired us to love the "least of these".  

If you know our story, you know that when I left Romania, I swore I would never be a part of the international adoption system.  I saw how the Romanian government did little to prevent the orphan crisis there and how the Romanian government ran orphanages that were truly institutions.  I saw how it seemed that any money associated with international adoption never made it to the children who were in the orphanages.  I just didn't want to be a part of it.

So we decided we'd do a domestic infant adoption through local, reduced cost agency.  Until our little dream was crushed by the news that because we did not have diagnosed infertility, the agency would not work with us.  We looked at a few other options for domestic adoption, then stopped.

A few months later, we were contacted by our state about doing foster care training specifically with the intent of adopting out of foster care.  After completely the training, inquiring about lots of children, and spending about 18 months with no real leads, we were certain we had come to a dead end.  We opened ourselves up to not just more permanent situations but also foster care and had an emergency placement which taught us a lot about ourselves and what fit our family.  Straight foster care was not it.

So we stopped yet again.

And went to Peru.

And came back feeling like maybe it wasn't the time to have a family but maybe it was the time to travel.  So we started praying about going to Haiti on a mission trip.  And from there, it quickly changed into adoption.  The thing I swore I'd never do because a reality and my life is blessed beyond measure because of it.

Through all of that (and now) it was always a struggle to balance prudence with faith, practicality with fearless living. I want to be sold out for Jesus.  I want to say that no cost is too high when it comes to obeying Him.  I want to love freely, to love deeply, to love passionately with no regrets.

But then the reality sets in.  There are bills to pay.  There are emotional consequences to our actions.  There are relational consequences to our actions.  Things seem to hard, too long, too expensive, too risky, too out there.

Our rational brains go to war with the convictions of our hearts.  Maybe that right there is the crux of faithful living?  That a life lived in faithful obedience is a life full of wrestling, full of more questions than answers.  It's a life full of disequilibrium, a life spent balancing on top of a ball, knowing that at any moment you could slide right off into the land of "too safe" or into the land of "reckless pursuit without regard to godly wisdom."  (And even as I write this, I can't help but think that perhaps the "land of reckless pursuit" is maybe where we're all supposed to be.)

When you consider adoption or orphan care, it requires you to stand on that ball, balancing prudence and practicality with faith and fearlessness.  Our decision to adopt from Haiti took a lot of wrestling.  And where we are now, considering another adoption, has probably required even more wrestling.

How do you get past the mental games where you talk yourself in and out and in and out of getting involved?  I struggle with decision making, especially when it comes to big decisions.  I'm a recovering perfectionist so when a decision needs to be made, I long to make the perfect one even though I know there isn't a perfect solution.  I understand how hard it is to make a decision that is outside of the box.  It's incredibly hard to make a decision that literally means "I've counted the cost to follow Jesus and I'm willing to lay it down."  It--as in my relationships with my family, my friends, my finances, my nice comfortable life with 2.4 all American kids....I will lay it down.  There is no 12 step plan or a how to book on that.  And it's scary to start thinking about what are often considered radical choices.  To wonder where the line is between practical prudence and fearless faith.  But start thinking.  Get on the ball and start balancing.  Start counting the cost.

Livesay family on counting the cost

Monday, November 7, 2011

Celebrate Adoption-Orphan Care in 30-60 minutes

Earlier I posted a list of easy, 5 minute things one can do to be a part of orphan care.  What about not giving a bit more of your time?  What about supporting orphan care by supporting families you know who are ministering to kids through adoption or foster care?

Most people are eager to support families when new babies arrive.  When new, older more independent children arrive, I think friends and family believe that those children are not infants who have nighttime feedings and are very dependent upon the new family.  That leads to the assumption that the adoptive family doesn't need support like a family with a newborn might.  What most people don't know is that those older children need to have some infant moments with their new families, even if the children are 4 or 10 or 12.   That doesn't account for the stress that comes from a sudden change in family dynamics.

We have had two relatively easy adoptive placements.  That said, I had one who did not sleep well for about 8 months.  For a good 4 months, she was up every 4 hours or so.  It was like having a baby.  But no one really knew that except for a handful of friends.  With many adoptions, you also spend every waking moment smothered by your new arrival.  They need you at every moment of the day as they navigate all sorts of new things and feelings.  They miss their old life.  They miss their friends.  They are scared of indoor plumbing.   They are scared of dogs and cats.  I've had a foster child who cried herself to sleep every night of her short stay with us because she missed her mom.  I've had a child who was 2 1/2 but was not adept at stairs or even walking outside on an uneven sidewalk.  You need to be their safe spot and be available.  It's what causes them to trust and love you.  But it is hard to do the things you once did and can be socially isolating.

One Thankful Mom recently posted six ways to support adoptive/foster families, all of which are 30-60 minute tasks.  It's just a wonderful little list so I'm just reposting it in it's entirety.  Consider who you know and how you can send the message that you will care for their family as they love and serve each other.  It may not seem like it's really supporting orphan care but the implications come across loud and clear:  it says we see adoption and foster care as important and we will support you so you can use your gifts and talents to parent kids who need permanency.

Last week’s Tuesday Topic amazed me.  Your responses were so thoughtful and good – I wish we would have all been sitting in my family room, sipping coffee together having the discussion.  I suspect we would have laughed — and cried. Next to Notes on Hope, it may be my favorite Tuesday Topic we’ve done together.
This was the question,
What would have helped you the most in the early weeks and months of adding a child to your family through adoption or foster care? If somebody had asked you, “What can I do to help?” and you were able  to answer anything at all with no shame, guilt, or concern about whether they really would want to do it, what would it have been?
This is what you answered:

Bring Food
Many of you stated that having meals delivered allowed more time to focus on all of your children, but also gave you some contact with “the outside world.”  It does not have to be dinner, as somebody said, even bringing cut-up fruit would help.  Someone else mentioned having dinner brought by friends who then shared the meal and spent the evening with them.  One person wrote that when they adopted a baby, friends brought meals, but when they adopted an older child people assumed it wasn’t as demanding and didn’t bring meals.  I think we can safely say that every adopting/foster family will be blessed by meals.  We don’t need to make this complicated – simple food is a blessing. I remember a friend bringing us “Breakfast in a Bag,” a gift bag filled with yogurts, juice boxes, muffins and other little treats.  Gift cards for take-out were also mentioned – a great idea.  After one of our babies was born, a friend brought us Kentucky Fried Chicken and another ordered pizza to be delivered – what a treat that was!   Cookie dough ready to be baked, homemade soup or spaghetti sauce, a frozen lasagna, will all be welcomed.

Provide Household Help
Several of you wrote that you needed help with laundry and cleaning.  I know we all have a hard time letting people see our mess, but I for one, find it very hard to relax if my house is too messy and chaotic.  A friend grabbing the vacuum or folding laundry while we visited was a big help.  I had a friend once pick up all of our kids’ dirty laundry, take it home, and return it clean, dry and folded.   A group of friends might want to go together to hire regular cleaning help for the first few months after new children join a family, or create a cleaning team themselves.  

Along those lines, a number of years ago I was very sick and needed treatments that were an all day event.  One day a friend came to my house while I was at the clinic, put new, clean flannel sheets on my bed, washed my other set, and cleaned my house with my older children.  I came home and crawled into a clean bed with new sheets and it was pretty much one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.  That was nearly nine years ago and I’ve never forgotten it.  Friend, if you read this, thank you once again.

Run Errands
Picking things up at the store, or driving children to sports practices and appointments was also mentioned as a great help.  If you are already out and about, or if you can add a child or two to the crowd in your car, you will make a big difference for a family adjusting to life with new children.  The first year my girls were in school, a friend drove them home every day which not only simplified my life, but relieved my mind.  As our little ones grow older, we forget how difficult it is to buckle multiple kids into car seats in order to pick up one child from an event.  Waking kids from naps to take an older child to a practice is even worse.  This is a great kindness if you are somebody who is already in the car and happy to run a quick errand for a friend with a new child.

Provide Babysitting or Respite
Many of you said that babysitting would have helped, even if it was just somebody being with the kids while you took a nap.  Some said they needed help with their other kids while they took new children to multiple appointments. Others said they needed care for their new children while they gave some attention to their original crew.  Of course, it all depends upon the unique needs for the family, but this seems to be a need for most families.  Weekends are particularly difficult for Dimples, the lack of structure that she enjoys at school just doesn’t transfer to a long Saturday stretching before her.  We try to fill her days, but one of the greatest gifts we receive are friends who invite her over for a few hours, or even all day.  This Saturday when I’m in Denver, she has big plans with our youth pastor and his wife and she is already looking forward to it.

Respite is a great need for families whose new children have significant challenges.  A family can quickly become exhausted when there is constant raging, arguing, and destructive behavior. A friend who understands children from “hard places” and is willing to give the family a 24 hour break, or even a four hour break, will have an impact far beyond what they may imagine.

Show Kindness to the Original Crew
I’m in the process of (slowly) writing an article for Empowered to Connect on “giving voice” to the siblings of children from “hard places.”  Our original children struggled with our inability to give them attention and time when we added three new children to our family and one year later added another.  They lost us for a number of months as we struggled to figure out how to live this new life.

My friend, Beth, welcomed Ladybug into her family and home, and nearly completely homeschooled her for a year after Dimples came home.   Rusty and Ladybug joined the youth group of a local church and we were thankful for the encouragement and positive adult interaction they received.  It was so meaningful, that we eventually made that our church our new church home.

Friends who will take the kids and do something fun is also a huge blessing when life at home seems to be a load of work or simply tumultuous.  If a family has new children who are raging or crying for hours, the kids may need relief from the stress too.  My friend, Sue, began taking Ladybug and Sunshine to the library once a week, which they still look forward to each Friday.
It is very easy to forget how hard this adjustment phase can be for the other children.  Reaching out to them, or giving the parents a break from the new kids, so they can enjoy the other children, is a real blessing.

Be Present
I have to admit, I was struck by the prevailing theme of loneliness and isolation in the comments.  I hope you will read them yourself, because I can’t express the thoughts as well as the original authors did.  Over and over readers expressed that once the initial excitement died down,  they felt lonely.  The needs of their children may have prevented them from getting out and about; they were stuck at home, alone, living a new life with new children.  It is hard to imagine how very isolating this can be.

Several people said they wished friends would just stop by for coffee, even if the house was messy.  Others used the words grief and loss to describe how they felt.  Some of you said you needed somebody to just listen and not judge or try to cheer you up as you coped with the changes in their lives.  Encouragement is needed.  If you live a distance away, a phone call, email, or encouraging text may be what a mom needs.  Knowing you have not forgotten her, that you are praying may help her through the next hour.

It has been four and a half years since we brought our first adopted children home and for a long time our life needed to become very contained and small.  We simply could not go out much; even going to my bookgroup once a month became impossible.  I hope you’ll be encouraged to know that this month I am going to my bookgroup once again — and I even read the book.

If you missed this post, be sure to go back and read the great responses from everyone.  Please take a moment to add your thoughts – it is not too late.

Thank you for being a great community and sharing my life.

Encourage one another.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Full of Thanks...and Nose Hair

Lots of people have been relaying what things they are thankful for during this countdown to Thanksgiving.  Here's mine for the day:

Today, after church, D asked the kids who taught the Kids Club portion of Sunday school.  Conleigh replied that it was Mashayla's grandma but that she didn't know what her name was.  I told her it was Denise.  Then Conleigh told me that she didn't know the name of Mashayla's grandpa either.  I told her it was Rolly.  Then Conleigh told me how Mashayla's grandpa had a beard and a mustache.  And hair in his nose.

I think I'm thankful that just the four of us were present to hear that gem.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Celebrate Adoption-Waiting Child Victoria


Victoria is an HIV positive child, born in 2003.  An adoption facilitator from the Ukraine shared this information with the folks at Positively Orphaned.

A couple of months ago I e-mailed a picture of one girl, she is HIV positive. Her name is Victoria, date of birth 2003. I am e-mailing this picture again. This child is placed currently at the specialized House for Babies with special needs. Next September she will be moved to the other orphanage as a child older then 9. Today I talked to her doctor and she is really concerned about the girl. Here is her story.
Victoria was born in 2003 to an HIV positive birthmother. At birth she was diagnosed as HIV positive of IV clinical stage. She has been taking anti HIV virus therapy since birth. At the moment she has zero HIV viral load. Until the age of seven, Victoria lived with the mother and thus she has all skills of everyday life as any home child does.
At the age of seven after the mother’s death, Victoria was placed at the specialized orphanage for children of special needs. No one among close persons of the mother’s community or any one of the relatives expressed the desire to adopt her or take her into their custody.
That was obviously a hard time for Victoria. The period of adjusting to the orphanage conditions took a long time. Currently she feels comfortable at the orphanage, psychologically steady and has made a lot of friends among the children of the orphanage and school.
She is attending second grade classes. Her teachers characterize her as a very diligent, attentive, hard working, and very creative girl. From what the caregivers have said, she is a child with a big heart, caring and affectionate. Victoria is very tactful and polite with the teachers and caregivers and friendly with the children. She likes playing outside, watching TV, and doing handicrafts. She can spend hours embroidering or painting. This girl is very homey. She really needs a family.
Moving to the other orphanage would be a great stress for her and no doubt it is a risk for her health condition. She really needs a family. She is available to be adopted internationally.
I hope she will find her family and in my turn I promise to do my best to serve and to promote this adoption as quick as it possible.

For me as an adoptive mom, there are a couple of things that strike me about this post.  First, she is a child who is struggling to adjust to orphanage life.  My Conleigh was this girl.  She lived in a private foster care placement in Haiti for many months before coming to live in the orphanage full time.  (It was actually through this foster care connection that we found her but that's another story.  For those people who say that random postings online cannot find children forever families, it was a random posting online that led us to Conleigh.  A family in Haiti was caring for her in a private foster care setting and was advocating for her online.  I have never met the people nor did I know anyone who was connected to them.  It was a chance posting where I read the post and now that little girl is in our house.)  Like Victoria, it was hard for Conleigh to get used to all the noise, all the kids, all the chaos that orphanage life means.  The other part that strikes me is the report that she has life skills and was relinquished to orphanage care through the death of her mother.  While I personally know nothing of the situation, this sounds like signs that she was positively attached to her mother and children who were previously attached to a parent are much more likely to not have major attachment issues as they are able to transfer that attachment rather than learn how to attach and love.  That doesn't mean older child adoption is easy because it's not.  But that comment sounded very positive to me.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Celebrate Adoption-Waiting Child Alice, huge grant!

Following up my previous post on orphan care in 5 minutes, here's my first reposting of a waiting child.  Take the challenge and repost or link up to her Reece's Rainbow page.


This lovely girl was born 6/2006 at 38 weeks gestation.  She is an independent, active, and can move around on her own. She feeds herself easily. She likes to play with toys.  She’s had surgery for her heart condition.   Surgery for congenital cardiac defect 02/09/07 (ligation of patent ductus arteriosus, suturing open oval window). 
Alice is already 5 years old and facing the institution.   Alice has Down's Syndrome.  There are approximately $12, 000 worth of grants waiting to help her family offset the adoption costs.

Celebrate Adoption-Orphan Care in 5

Somehow, November has been designated celebrate adoption month.   November 6th is Orphan Care Sunday with much focus given on adoption.  While my inner cynic says, "really do we need a month or a day?  Even a hot dog gets its own National Hot Dog Day and adoption and orphan care should not be on equal ground with processed pig part.", I do recognize how the designation provides focus and helps to organize orphan care initiatives.

That said, I also see how all too often people hear the stats and see the pictures regarding orphan care and walk away feeling guilty or sad but then don't take action.  I don't really know why because it is exactly those things (pictures of kids in a Romanian orphanage viewed during my last year of high school church camp) that brought me to the place I am, a mom of two Haitian kids.  But I digress.

The reality is that it is easy to do something.

A lot easier than a lot of us think.

You do not have to choose to adopt.  (Even though I will probably go to my grave saying more people ought to.)

The reality is that orphan care can occur in 5 minutes.

Let me give you some 5 minute ideas.

*take 5 minutes from your lunchtime to pray about orphan care.  Or better yet, bookmark a waiting child site like Reece's Rainbow, Rainbow Kids, or AdoptUSKids .  Then visit there, taking 5 minute to pray for a waiting child by name.
*take 5 minutes during your bill paying to write a check to a ministry directly involved in adoption, orphan care, or orphan prevention  (Angel Tree Ministries, a branch of Prison Fellowship, works in the US with the children of incarcerated men and women  with the goal being to prevent their families from failing.  Reece's Rainbow works to provides grants to families who choose to adopt special needs kids.  Heartline Ministries and their Harbor House project encourage Haitian moms to parent rather than place a child for adoption.  Or make a donation to your local homeless shelter/women's shelter.  Most of those place are serving families who are on the brink of falling apart.)
*take 5 minutes to encourage a family you know who is involved in foster care or adoption.  Write them a note.  Pray for them by name.  Send them a gift that shows you appreciate the way they are using their family as a way to love.
*take 5 minutes and repost my posts.  Throughout the month of November, I'm going to share the faces and stories of some children who are waiting for forever.  Would you take the time to pass those faces and stories on?  By reposting on your blog or on Facebook, you may just be connecting that child to a family who is willing to make a commitment to that child.  Ask your friends to repost as well.  Wouldn't it be amazing if you were a part of the link that found a home for that child?
*take 5 minutes to have a conversation with someone about orphan care, even if it's a conversation that you know will be difficult.  (My first choice would be God but you pick whomever you'd like.)  Maybe it's your spouse.  Maybe it's your sister.  Maybe it's your kids.  Share how you know that there are kids who are struggling because their moms and dads aren't around or are unable to provide for their basic needs.  Share that you are wanting to help.  Take a chance and see what the other person says.  Maybe that simple conversation will start a more serious one.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Dentist, His Gloves, and the Children Who Love Them

Today was dentist day here.  Kenson has been once before but Conleigh has never been.  She went last year and watched which given her warrior type personality when it comes to blood, injuries, and medical professionals, we thought that was best.  (Warrior=fight like the devil.  If there is ever a war, I think I want her on my side.)

No tears, no cavities, let's call it a good day, right?

But a trip to the dentist means goodies like a free ice cream coupon, new pink toothpaste, and new toothbrushes.  And the treasure of all treasures:  a blue latex glove.

They played dentist and doctor with those silly gloves once we got home.  It always makes you chuckle to hear your kids playing together while using the words "Now don't bite my finger!"

Look closely and you can see the illustrious blue glove!
But perhaps the funniest part was when Conleigh came into the kitchen, wearing her glove on her foot, proclaiming "I'm an orangutan!"  (In case you're wondering, just remember that monkeys and the like have hands on their feet, something that is fascinating when you are 4.)  And then she tried to climb my refrigerator by pulling herself up on the door handles...