The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

To Whom Much Is Given...

I was tired.

Last week I was done.

Needed a break - a blogging hiatus if-you-will.

I was tired of 3 weeks of disheartening Monday morning Agency emails.

I was tired of slow moving referrals and "no news".

I was tired of being asked if there is anything new with the adoption.

I was tired of trying to guess when we will find out who SHE is.

I was tired of fighting children, rain, cold, overwhelming workload and sickness.

I was just simply tired.

Today. Sunday, the day of rest.

A day when the sun was shining as I woke.

A day of family.

A day of peace.

A day set apart from the chaos, simply for us.

Today, I am reminded...

To Whom Much Is Given, Much Is Required

With a deep breath, I will seek the forest for the trees. (It's going to be a stretch for awhile.)

I will be reminded of the seasons of life.

I will separate myself from the "woes" of adoption for the time being. Focus on ours, not others'.

I will focus on the "when" and not the "if" of our referral timeline.

I will seek to serve rather than dwell in pity parties.

I'm still tired.

I'm still listening to the same children raging against the BC Spring weather.

I'm still aware that while the sun shines today it will likely be drowned by rain tomorrow.

I still have work sitting in the bag at my feet.

But the sun today brings calm.

Today I am reminded of all I have.

Today is brighter.

Today I am becoming more aware that...

To Whom Much Is Given, Much Is Required

Monday, March 23, 2009

Six Of One. Half A Dozen Of The Other

Any way you cut it, we've been officially waiting for 1/2 a year now. Six months. One hundred and eighty two (and a half?) days.

I am getting closer to being done. I know there are many who have been waiting much longer. I know we too will continue to wait several more months. The estimated wait time for a referral with our requests continues to hover around 11 - 12 months.

This past month was tough. Mostly the CBC airing was a hurdle weighing on my shoulders for two weeks now. I am relieved it has come and gone. Now we wait for it's domino effect. We also lost our caseworker at Imagine on Friday as she is on leave for awhile. Her reasons are exciting but we loved her and she was, in a word: wonderful.

I'm excited to have hit this new monthly milestone. This one was a biggie in my mind. There is something anticipatory about this one. We've peaked the mountain, like the book I read to the boys last night...

Puff, puff, chug, chug, went the Little Blue Engine. "I think I can - I think I can - I think I can - I think I can - I think I can - I think I can."
Up, up, up. Faster and faster and faster and faster the little engine climbed, until at last they reached the top of the mountain.
Down in the valley lay the city.
"Hurray, hurray," cried the funny little clown[...]

I love the words on the last page:

[...] And the Little Blue Engine smiled and seemed to say as she puffed steadily down the mountain, "I thought I could. I thought I could. I thought I could. I thought I could. I thought I could. I thought I could. I thought I could.
I can see the light that is coming
For the heart that holds on.
There will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes,
Still I will praise You
Still I will praise You.

- Matt Redman

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Response To The National

I've had several people ask my response to The National on Friday night.

I definitely have some feedback. I absolutely watched every second of it. PVR-ed it. Protected it on the PVR even. I will watch it again and scrutinize it perhaps even a bit more.

However, at the risk of offending anyone I don't feel it is my place to post my sentiments about the program. Even on our blog. That could be misinterpreted as hypocritical.

What I will say is...

...we researched our facilitator before choosing. We went with the one we felt made us most comfortable - as we all do when having to make this choice. For us, the facilitator we decided upon made the most amount of sense for us...and we stick by that decision 100%. Zero regrets. They passed inspections with Excellence and their Exec Dir travels there frequently. On top of all this, Imagine is partnered with an organization seeking to keep, educate, and offer wings to hundreds of Ethiopian children. They are offered a sort of freedom within their own country. This is remarkable.

...I believe MOWA and the Ethiopian Government have been proactive in trying to eliminate some of what is going on. Hence new, tighter court procedures. Not sayin' I like these new procedures, just sayin' they are likely going to help with some of the concerns.

...I am disappointed that these families felt they had to go to a national broadcasting station to get their stories out. I wonder if they feel this will help them come to terms with their questions. I wonder if anything or nothing has changed - and if this media coverage actually did anything other than help vent their anger. Or, if it just raised a bunch of red flags all over adoptive communities as well as within the Ethiopian adoptive/orphanage communities.

...I am even more disappointed that CBC aired this potentially extremely harmful program.

...I would be happy to reply in more detail if you wish, via email.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Big Day

Just a quick reminder that tonight is the night.

Tonight at 10pm local time, CBC's The National will be airing a piece on a few Canadian families who have adopted their children from Ethiopia...and they have questions regarding their childrens' birth families. I am pretty vague because most of the information anyone (including our agencies) has is vague.

What I do know is that we can pray. HUGE.

A friend told me CBC was discussing adoption this morning on the radio and announced the reminder that this program will be on TV tonight. Apparently, the spin was not positive.

Here is an article to give you a taste of what is to come. Shame on CBC for taking a literally miraculous experience and focusing on the negative feedback of only a few. There are many ways to skin a cat...this is not a constructive one when taking others' situation (place in the journey) into consideration.

I know the outcome is decided. Now we wait to find out what it is.

I am comforted by the knowledge that He who has started a good work will see it to completion. I know that what we are doing is by His will alone.

And, where two or more are gathered, there He will be.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Hero Leaves Her Legacy

Several months back I posted about a book which touched me in the early stages of our Adoption Journey. It was recommended time and time again and once I picked it up, I was not easily torn away.

There Is No Me Without You, by Melissa Fay Greene is a truly touching biographical novel about the plight of the orphans in Ethiopia...and one woman's heart ache, motivating her to seek dignity, love, and homes for them.

Haregewoin Teferra, known as a hero not only among her fellow Ethiopians but throughout adoption communities around the world, as well as in the lives of those she touched, passed away this week.

It's interesting, isn't it? Often we meet people, befriend them even for awhile then we lose touch and find out several years later they've passed and we feel nothing. While there are others whom we never meet and we are deeply saddened that they are now gone.

The world became a better place with Haregewoin Terferra.

—Rev. Dr. Gary Gunderson
Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Keeping Current

Updates today include:

  • An anticipated airing of the Adoption Press Release involving the Canadian Ethiopian Adoptive Family. We are expecting this to air at 10pm local time, on Friday night's The National.
Which is more exciting...?...I'll let you be the judge.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Follow The Dotted Line

Today, he achieved this...
First try.
Completely solo.

Tait's response was: "Big Hug, Noah? Big Hug?!"

Makes a Mama proud.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


I was watching ER this morning. Yes, ER. I have a soap. I'm not defensive or in denial. Though, I will rationalize that I do not ever watch daytime soaps, I have been a faithful ER viewer from pretty much the start. It is only once a week, and it is wrapping up it's final season...ever. So there you have it. I've purged my deepest secret and we are all the closer for, my blog stalkers, friends, and family.

Ah hem, I digress.

The episode today focused a young boy struck by a car while riding his bike. He died, (shocker for ER, I know) and there were many recipients awaiting his organs. Susan Sarandon made a guest appearance as the deceased boy's grandmother. His father hadn't ever really been in the picture and his mother had disappeared about 7 years prior...a meth-addict.

After conceding to having many of his major organs donated, Susan went in to say one last good-bye. As she held his hand she gave it a little squeeze and it squeezed back. This grandmother was certain her grandson was somehow coming back. He would live on. She reacted immediately and refused to let him (or his organs) go. All the while, many people around the country were waiting for the possibility of receiving literally a new gift of life.

[Ok, so I know this is all not real but just bear with me...]

George Clooney, a doctor at the hospital housing this deceased boy and his grandmother, after many hours of trying to convince her he had passed, went in for one last try. There were about eight doctors from various hospitals watching the minutes pass as these viable organs slipped to become only a hope of becoming life-savers. Patiently, they waited to see how the future of many, would be decided. Clooney, being the good-lookin'...ah hem...intelligent doctor and savvy persuader, managed to convince the devastated grandmother that the boy really had passed.

The conversation went something like this...

Clooney: "Tell me what your grandson was like."

Grandmother: "He was a handsome boy, smart, kind, he loved music. He loved to play his music really loud - the kind I don't like. He had many friends. He was always helping others."

She smiled.

Clooney: "He was generous...?"

The grandmother shook her head yes. Confirming that he was generous and he would want to help save the lives of many others, at the expense of his own. And, he did.

Now, I have to admit that Ben calls this my "slit-your-wrists" show. And, I will concede that it often does have quite a negative, depressing undertone. And, while the story-line on this week's episode was no different, there was also a glimmer of hope. And, for some reason I was struck by this episode. It was the weight of the word, generous. The thought that someone might die in order to offer a small, physical, (yet pivotal) part of their being, to help another.

I found it to be quite a powerful statement. A young child, helping adults. An innocent being, giving life to someone more weathered.

And while this models the act of Christ on a much smaller scale, I also found similarities in our life and chosen journey...our family is walking a similar route.

Someone, a complete stranger half a world away, will give us a gift. A - likely - young girl will offer us a piece of herself.

And our life will be even more complete.

I don't think the word generous does the act justice.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fleeting Moments

"What can . . . young mothers do . . . to reduce the pressure of raising young children and enjoy their families more? . . . "Recognize that the joy of motherhood comes in moments. There will be hard times and frustrating times. But amid the challenges, there are shining moments of joy and satisfaction. "Author Anna Quindlen reminds us not to rush past the fleeting moments. She said: 'The biggest mistake I made as a parent is the one that most of us make. . . . I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of my three children sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages six, four, and one. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less' (Loud and Clear [1004], 10-11)."

M. Russell Ballard, "Daughters of God," Ensign, May 2008, 109

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Press Releases

Each day I take the privilege of becoming a(n) (adoptive) parent as more and more of just that:


Each day another Road Block (or at least Speed Bump) seems to pop out of nowhere, I realize it isn't a Right. By "it" I mean parenting. I realize it isn't something we should assume we have earned. It isn't something that should come all that easily.

Adoptive parenting (or at least trying to attain it) is definitely no exception. I would venture to say the path is even more winding.

That said, there are many days when I wish it would come a little easier. We looked into the reputation of our agency and facilitator. We made sure they both met the criteria we were supposed to look for in a legal representative. They were both well established...for quite some time. They were both non-profit, meaning they aren't in the business of adoption for the money but rather the best interest of the child, and all children. Word of mouth from those who had used them was important. Of course they had to be certified...credentials were important. The list goes on and on but you get the point.

When it came to choosing our facilitator we had the choice between two and we chose the one we are still working with. I won't bore you with the details of how we came to that decision. Suffice to say that literally a day doesn't go by that I am not thankful for this organization. And, probably a week doesn't go by when I don't voice this confidence and contentment to Ben.

Monday morning I opened my inbox as I usually do early in the morning while it's still quiet(ish) around our house. It was still dark outside - though the snow brightened everything a little. And as most of us do, I hoped to start my week on a good foot.

My inbox contained an email from our facilitator which is often exciting...when you're in the adoption process, anything from your agency or facilitator is likely to give you butterflies, regardless of the fact that it could be I clicked, "read".

The email explained that the CBC in Toronto is preparing to air a program which will highlight some unfortunate allegations between a Canadian Adoptive family and their Ethiopian child's ties to her biological family. This event will be televised nationally sometime near the end of this month. Unfortunately, we do not know when. Our agency requested CBC reconsider this story and understand the huge ramifications a single family's experience could have on many of us. It doesn't look like the CBC listened.

I am hugely concerned with this because, while our facilitator was not in any way involved with this family or their experience, a blanket will likely be placed on all Canadian Adoptive families, adopting from Ethiopia. It will likely raise concern among the Ethiopian government and who knows what spin-off could ensue.

Further to my concern, I am upset. I voiced this on an online board of cohorts yesterday and for the most part, surprisingly was not well received. If a family has had a poor experience, if several families have had poor experiences I think it would be such a shame for all the rest of the Canadian adoptive community to suffer the consequences - whatever they may be. Furthermore I think it would be really tragic if not only the lives of all us families who have worked so hard to be now officially waiting but also the the orphans - our future children, were to be punished. There are dozens who have not chosen the agency/facilitator involved - yet we would fall under this same blanket...Canadian Adoptive Parents of Ethiopian Children.

There are many ways to deal with mistreatment. There are many ways to rectify or at least seek to rectify difficult (legal) situations. It's such a shame these families feel media is the best route.

And, while our agency is hopeful that those of us who have signed on with them will not be affected. There are a great number of unknowns until this nationally broadcasted program airs. I know this process is growing me hugely. I know that actually, it's not about me at all. But, if our daughter could just be home, soon, I would be so greatful.

I'll be praying...huge...specific prayers...maybe you could too?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Six Years Ago Today...It Snowed

Six years ago today I may or may not have been busy doing several things.

On March 8, 2003...

...I may or may not have woken up like any other morning and gone for a run
...I may or may not have gone to get my hair done with a few lifelong friends
...I may or may not have come home and put on a very beautiful dress and paid a little extra attention to my make-up
...I may or may not have waited for a limo driver who may or may not have showed up stoned (?!) and late, only to then instead hop in my little red Beetle with my Dad
...I may or may not have been a key part of a ceremony with a pastor who misspoke a few times and shared a unique (and hilariously perfect!) message. The message may or may not have included reference to "cleavage" (oops, I think the intention was to cleave to one another), and "running around naked in front of each other" (and I think the idea was to hide nothing from one another).
...It may or may not have snowed!!!

And, while many events may or may not have happened...

I definitely got married.

I definitely made the best decision of my life.

I definitely became a better person.

Happy Anniversary Honey!!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

What's In A Year

If you check out our Journey Of A Thousand Mile date markers on the right, you'll notice that one year ago today we applied with Choices Adoption to begin our adoption.

I vividly remember filling out what at that time seemed like several forms (I now know that in the adoption world, that was nothing!) and writing out a cheque for $3000 with a shaky hand. (I also realize now that, that fee was pennies compared to what was to come.) These were simply the application fees. We had done the research and knew that we fell within the income brackets that approved a family of our size to expand through adoption, and we couldn't see any major obstacles that would impede our application but...$3000 is a lot of money to spend on anything, let alone an application which I pessimistically thought could go either way.

I recall taking the envelope down to the post office and enduring a bit of a mental tug-of-war as I handed the envelope over to our Canada Post employee. I even remember specifically, it was Barb. It's strange the details our memory won't allow us to forget.

I can't believe it's been a year.

For fun, I thought I would check back in our photo files and see what we were up to on March 7, 2008. And I had to chuckle when I saw what we were may recognize some of the scenery from yesterday's "photoshoot". We spent several hours doing yesterday, what we did exactly 1 year ago.


And for those who would say, "Wow, time sure has gone fast hasn't it?", I would hesitate but reply, yes. And while we have made great progress tangibly and as far as a paper-trail is concerned, there are days when I feel as though we are still standing on square one.

The next step will be a jump. It won't take place for several months. It will likely be at least another 6. It will be a significant one.


Friday, March 6, 2009


"Noah, I think Spring is just around the corner!" I said this afternoon while up at the park.

He leaps up from his squat position, swivels his head around as if looking for a hopping, darting rabbit and says, "Where Mama? Where's Spring?"
I just about had a fit I laughed so hard.

That's why I can't miss any of this.

Mama, can I finish your drawing?...I want to do it.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Joy In A Sadness-Filled Conversation

We spent an awesomely warm time at the beach yesterday morning. The sun was soothing, calming, and this was amplified in our little bay. No wind, just heat. It felt closer to the summer for the hour we were down there.

On our way home we passed through a piece of the camp's property, not on the main site. We have new friends/staff who have moved in and they have a little girl between the boys' age...and one on the way.

Noah and I talked about this on the way home. Our new friend's Mama will have a baby in the summer.

Noah: "Where will she come from, Mama?"

Me: "She will come from Danika's Mama's tummy"

Noah: "Will she not come from Eth...E...Ethio...pia?"

Me: "No. Remember bud, most boys and girls' Mama grow babies in their tummies, just your baby sister will come all the way from there. That's part of the reason it takes so long for her to come live with us. She is very very far away right now."

- Is she even born?! I'm thinking to myself -

Noah: "Well, why is she over there...where is her Mama?"

This is the hard part. I tell my heart, I need to answer him truthfully yet at a 3 yr old level. With joy and happiness. Turn tragedy into truthful blessed happiness in one breath. As simply as I can for now. Make it personal and relate it to lessons we try to teach the boys daily, I think. That always helps the answers stick. (Fortunately, we don't have to start way back at square one and debunk the Stork Myth but still...this is quite the concept.) We always emphasize how fortunate and blessed we are to have many things and how many boys and girls do not have food or toys or important it is to be thankful for what we do have and not whine for more, because so many children don't have nearly as much as we I try that angle.

Me: "Well, your baby sister will come from her Mama's tummy in Ethiopia but remember how not all children have as much as us? Daddy works partly so we can have money for groceries and clothes but some Mamas and Daddies don't have as much money for this."

Noah: "Uh huh."

Me: "Well, even though your baby sister's Mama loves her very very much she cannot take care of her because she probably doesn't have as much money as we do. That doesn't mean she doesn't want her or love her."

Noah: "Oh."

Me: "So, I don't think she will be able to take care of her with clothes and food like we will. Her Mama in Ethiopia loves her so so much but that doesn't always mean that Mamas can take really really good care of their babies."

Noah: "Okay."

Me: "So she will come and live with us forever and be your baby sister and we will be so so so lucky to have her with us. And we will be a family forever."

Noah: "Yes Mama. Is our baby sister coming soon?"

Sunday, March 1, 2009

To Public School. To Private School. To Home School...

Prefacing all of the age-old schooling questions...the pre-curser to it all...should we or should we not...


I remember those earlier on handful-days when Noah wasn't yet two and Tait was a couple months old. I remember dreaming with anticipation about the day he would enter preschool. I didn't know where it would be but I knew I was looking forward to it. He could play, learn, grow, and interact with peers while I could enjoy the slight break of one less child running around.

Over the past many months and a fair bit of research, we have decided that there will be no preschool per se. That is not to say there will be no pre-schooling-education.

Selfishly and emotionally I love having him home.

This pre-schooling era is the only time in our children's lives we have them all to ourselves. We don't have to share them. We set our routine and schedule - we definitely have one - and see our kids thrive on it. We get to watch them evolve into these exploring creatures. We seek to raise not our children but adults. People. Human Beings who will go on to mirror our footsteps, years from now. This may seem a bit dramatic, but it's the truth if you're looking at the big picture.

Factors involved in whether or not to send our boys to preschool were numerous. And, while I have several friends who are ECE accredited and while I think pre-schooling is an important piece of the educational puzzle for doesn't make sense for us right now.
  • Was it worth the 15 minute drive in to Duncan/Chemainus (closet two towns) and then back again
  • If it was worth the drive, what would I do with the other kid(s) while he was at school.
    • We could stay in town...but two or three days a week to burn time in town seemed a bit much.
    • We could come home but then we'd have to turn around again and pack everyone back in the car a mere hour later
  • It's not cheap. Monthly fees of $110 - $150 seemed a bit steep. I completely agree with the fact that we cannot put a price tag on our child's education. That said, I think pre-school fees can be a bit silly. They are learning to share, explore, and develop motor skills for goodness sake. These are extremely important but isn't my job as a parent, to help encourage and intentionally facilitate this development?
  • Speaking of money, gas isn't getting any cheaper
  • As mentioned earlier, this is the only time in my kids' lives that I will get them all to myself. If I apply myself, (ourselves) I/we can surely teach the lessons needed. That, coupled with the fact that I earned my degree in Psychology while focusing on Childhood Development, plus the fact that I purposefully set up play dates, read a ton with them(!), get outside to explore in stimulating environments, etc etc are all reason enough for me to do the following...
While I very seriously belief that Home Schooling is not the best route and I think for our family, public school will be a great option, this is a perfect way to prepare our kids for the boundaries and structure of a classroom...

Not enroll our kids in formal Preschool. Instead, the three of us head out each day we pre-plan, to a fabulous program known as Strong Start.

Ever heard of it? If you live in BC I highly recommend checking one out...and I can ensure you there is one somewhere near you. Heck there are more than 3 or 4 within 12-15 minutes of our house. And we live in Crofton. It's the sticks!

Strong Start was recommended to me by an aunt who helped facilitate one in the Okanagan. To save you from my long winded ranting and raving, I will summarize it as follows:
  • It's provincially run. This means It. Is. Free.
  • It runs Monday - Friday from 9:00am - 12:00pm
  • It's drop-in. Go when you want for as long as you want
  • It's for children ages 0 - 5 yrs and their parent or caregiver
  • It's run through Parent-Directed play
  • That said, there are many stations and many kids so my boys have lots of independent play/learning time and also interact with others on their own
  • There are literally dozens of stations set up around the classroom. Some days we make new playdough. Some days the boys and I paint. Some days we play at the rice table. Some days we use the calendar to figure out what day of the week it is. Some days we play with blocks. Some days I read to them. Some days we put tracks together. Some days we hammer tees into styrofoam using toy hammers. You get the point. It looks like any "regular" preschool classroom.
  • Similar to a "regular" preschool, the teacher is ECE accredited.
  • Similar to a "regular" preschool, one morning a week we have Gym time...from 9-10:30am. And yes, you guessed it - it's parent directed which means I run my little heart out, too.
  • Similar to "regular" preschool, one morning a week we have Music. A very certified teacher who owns/runs a nearby affluent Music School comes in and leads the kids for an hour.
  • There is a free (!) nutritious snack each day. (Last week we enjoyed apples, bananas, carrots, peas in a pod, stone wheat thins, rutabega, oranges, red peppers.)
  • Days which don't include gym or music include a couple of circle-time songs and stories.
  • There are children and (grand)parents there from all walks of life so our kids are exposed to all sorts of ethnicities, ages, etc
  • They get to make new friends and so do I
Our kids seriously eat this educational school stuff up.

And, I get to be a part of it.

Each and every day.


On another note this is the conversation I overhead last night while the boys were playing in the Living Room and I was in the Kitchen:

Noah: "Tait, I'm going on a trip ok?!" (He may or may not have been standing on the back of the couch.)

Tait: "Okee, Noah. Ba Bye Noah"

Noah: "Ok Tait, see you when I get back from Africa."

Hmm, around what (ah hem, Who) do you think our daily conversations revolve?