Then just shortly after, the death of Chad's sweet Grandma Libbie.
Sunday, August 2, 2015
Then just shortly after, the death of Chad's sweet Grandma Libbie.
Friday, June 19, 2015
On Sunday night, after our succesful dinner, I was sitting with the kids on the couch watching Chopped when Carina suddenly presented me a mini muffin liner. Inside of it was what looked like itsome dried up apple skin and a Cheerio. With her usual sparkle in her bright blue eyes, she said, "Here ya go. I made this for you!"
"What is it?"
"Apple and Cheerio."
I got up to see that she had these little appetizers lined up for everyone in the family,
right next to the apple she used,
with bite marks all over it.
I guess she knew she wasn't allowed to use a knife? Good for her, I guess?
Carina, you've been chopped.
Sunday, June 14, 2015
- 3 out of 4 loved the taquitos. I liked them - they were very simple and way more filling than I expected.
- All of the kids ate the rice without complaining. We used brown rice, which also made it very filling and they didn't eat as much as I expected them to. As much as I have tried, none of them will eat green onions or peppers, so they picked around those.
- 3 out of 4 loved the drink.
- All of them like the fudge. It was very rich and very dark chocolate. We halfed the recipe, which was plenty.
Friday, May 15, 2015
We have missed all the toddler years. We have watched her baby cheeks disappear through pics, longing to kiss them.
We have had the privilege of making sure this child of God is watched over and fed. Because we were allowed to adopt her, she is healthy and strong. We are incredibly blessed that we have always had the extra money this adoption has required as it has extended over a year past the date we expected.
The first part hurts so much, but I can't forget the second part.
We sent Sifa's foster mom a little extra money this month to throw her a celebration, and decided on some ways to celebrate her here at home.
First I took Carina and her girl cousins that live here shopping for a dress for her. A summer dress, so she can wear it THIS summer :) When they get home, there will be five girl cousins here in Charlotte who are within a year and a half of each other. It will be so fun.
Friday, May 8, 2015
It was the best field trip experience I have ever had. Oliver's teacher - let me just break in and say this woman has my heart forever. She is so warm and full of happiness. She is the first teacher my kids have ever had who has NO color-change system in place, and the kids listen to her anyway. Anyway, Oliver's teacher put him in a group with his cousin Liam and their two other very close buds (one more reason to love her). She told me that the four of them are always together, and they never ever fight. Do you know how awesome it is to see four little 6 and 7 year old boys group-hugging on a field trip? All four of them listened so well to me, with no talk-back and no whining. Rare thing, I am tellin' ya.
Monday, May 4, 2015
We have not heard any news yet. In pregnancy terms, it has been over a month of painful contractions but no baby. The worst kind of waiting. We have been told we might hear something this week but I am not really letting myself believe it because just waiting is easier than anxiously waiting.
Yesterday I substitute taught a Primary class of 8 and 9 yr olds. We were learning about Jesus healing the sick. We talked about the faith of the woman with the blood issue, and the man with palsy. I told them that I used to think faith was just a feeling. Sometimes you felt it, sometimes you didn't. But now I have learned that faith is often times a choice. You choose to believe even when you don't feel it. You literally stop the fearful thoughts that are crowding your mind and focus on the Savior.
We also talked about the many many times that Jesus doesn't perform the ultimate miracle that you would love to have. I told them about my mom, that she has this disease that has robbed her of her speech and her understanding and how hard it has been on her and our whole family . I told them that Jesus has not taken this sickness away but instead has comforted her and us through it.
As we were ending the lesson, I had them write down miracles that they have seen in their life, and I remembered one in my own that related so closely to that.
Over two years ago, when Chad and I decided to adopt from the DR Congo, we kept our decision within our immediate family for awhile. It had been a decision 10 years in the making and it still felt very personal and raw.
Shortly after that, I was thinking about my mom, wondering what I could do to be a part of her life and bring her any joy. I spontaneously stopped by when my dad was at work and asked her if she wanted to go for a walk. She was already having a very hard time understanding words at that point, but I probably motioned enough that she got my point. It was a nice day - I had Carina in the stroller and my Mom had their dog Cici on the leash. She seemed happy, which made me happy. I had this huge and very sudden feeling that I should tell her that we had decided to adopt. I had not really told her anything that was going on in my life for a very long time before this, because it always just led to her being frustrated that she couldn't understand, and me feeling bad that I frustrated her. Plus Chad and I had agreed not to tell anyone. But the feeling was strong and felt right.
So I did.
"Mom, Chad and I decided to adopt."
Her face lit up with a huge smile and she gave a little celebration noise with her shoulders scrunched up. She completely understood.
Holding up two fingers, "Siblings, from the DR Congo."
More happy noises and a little victory dance.
She understood so well that later that night my Dad called and said, "What's this I hear about you adopting from the Congo?" She had gotten enough words out to him to share the happy news and, if I remember correctly, had even pointed it out on a map. I was astounded.
This was the last easily-understood conversation I had with my mom. It may be a small thing, but it was still a miracle.
My mom hasn't been healed and my girls are still not home. But every time I seek my Savior, He comforts me. And I am learning what "exercising" faith really means.
Monday, April 13, 2015
I knew when it ran that we would get negative comments online from viewers. I have seen it on my blog and I have seen it with every news article that has been written about other families in our situation. I am so familiar with these comments that I could have written them myself.
So when NBC Charlotte posted a few links to the story, and the haters showed up, it really didn't bother me or surprise me.
What did surprise me was the outpouring of love from perfect strangers. Perfect strangers were standing up for us, defending us, letting us know that they were praying for us.
"Beautiful ... Praying for a speedy home coming for these young ladies .."
"Pressing in with prayer! God bless you all~"
"Rest assured.this is in God's hands !"
"Sending love, hugs and lots of prayers that you will be united with your beautiful daughters very soon!"
Over 2,000 likes on one post and 175 shares, lots of love and so many prayers. I love my city.
If I did not believe in the power of prayer, I would have had to after that day. I felt those prayers so strongly.
Just the day before our story aired, we heard that President Obama called President Kabila. Then later that week, we started hearing, for the first time in a long time, very good rumors about the exit letter suspension possibly coming to an end soon.
The wheels are in motion.
We have higher hopes than we have had in a very long time.
We hope to hear something, one way or the other, soon.
It is joyful but also so so stressful. We could still really use your prayers. That is really the whole point of this blog post. Please pray for the officials in the DRC that they can find a speedy solution so that these children can finally have families. Please pray for us as parents that we can withstand the ups and downs and keep our faith. Please pray for us to stay strong so that when the children finally do come home we are ready to love them and show them all the patience they deserve. Please pray that the children will feel God's love for them through all of this and that they can know their worth.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Sunday, July 27, 2014
I am a little worn out about all this adoption stuff, and I think you probably are too. If we are friends on Facebook, you see me “like” dozens of posts every day about our adoption situation, and I ask you to do things you have probably never done before, like call your Congressmen, and call the White House comment line to leave a message for President Obama. It gets tiring for me, so I can only imagine how it is for you.
I just want to say “Thank You.” This has been one of those somewhat awkward situations for me for months, where over and over again I have been the recipient of so many kind inquiries and kind words and prayers. My friends and family have stepped up over and over again when I ask them to speak up for us, each time with enthusiasm and compassion. Awkward, but really just so humbling. To watch people who I haven’t seen in years pass on a petition for me, or to hear that a cousin has called their Congressman multiple times on our behalf.
On the evening of our candlelight vigil in Washinton DC, I dragged myself back to our hotel room, completely spent from telling our story a dozen times that day and from allowing myself to cry a river of tears with my fellow STUCK parents. Before I fell asleep, I saw picture after picture pop up on my Facebook page of candles lit by my loved ones all across the country for our girls. I was buoyed by your support and I still am.
And honestly, I am so sick of social media. I need a Facebook break, but I really just can’t take one right now. It is my adoption lifeline. I even joined Twitter, where the only thing I tweet about is the DR Congo exit permit suspension. I am even following Dr. Jill Biden on twitter because she made a trip there!
All of this is to say, I get it. And I wish I could drop it and move on. Oh, how I wish that. But I can’t, because we have two daughters that are not home. Every month we send off a big fat check to have someone else take care of them and every couple of months I get a few very sad looking pictures.
A lot of you are parents out there. Have you ever sat down and discussed who would take care of your kids if you die? If you are lucky like me, you have many wonderful people in your life who would do a loving job parenting your kids. But isn’t it still torture to assign that job to someone else? That privilege of loving your children, of drying their tears, teaching them, watching them grow. You want to be the one serving them with all your heart.
That is what I want, plain and simple. To take care our daughters. I have decided that it really is a form of torture to grant a caring couple that stewardship- that sacred responsibility of being a parent -and then not allow them to actually carry out the responsibilities of that stewardship. We have been their parents for nearly a year and we just want to do our job.
So I will keep up the social campaign and since I know you have all signed our latest petition, I am asking you to please pass it on to your friends. If you know anyone who has a following on their blog, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, please use your voice and ask them to help us by posting this petition on Monday, July 28 and asking their followers to sign. We have President Obama’s attention, and we need to keep it and right now everyone seems a little weary. Yes, I am asking you to use your relationships to help our cause – I hope you know some people that won’t mind you doing that for a cause like this. If they have any questions about the politics or the ethics behind it, I will tell them all about it! I am not afraid to answer why I believe this shutdown is completely political. Thank you for reading this post, thank you for your continued support, and thank you for thoughtfully considering who else would like to support us.
PS. Did you see me on CNN.com? Click here – I am on for about three seconds, crying and saying we are in DC trying to bring our daughters home. That was an emotionally exhausting day.
Friday, July 11, 2014
The worst Field Trip Friday ever?
Monday, June 30, 2014
Colin finished elementary school! His school is K-8, so he will still be at the same school next year, but middle school is set up a lot differently. He is excited to move around to different classes and interact with new classmates.
His “Moving On” ceremony was wonderful. He was awarded a President’s Award for Academic Excellence, along with one for Chinese excellence (only three his grade was awarded this one), and a couple of other awards. This boy, he makes me proud every day.
Colin’s teacher this year, Li Laoshi, was a gem. She told me that her one problem with Colin was that he could not stay sitting in his chair – he was always standing up . She always joked with him, asking if there was a tiger in his chair…but for practical reasons she always just assigned him a desk where he wouldn’t block anyone’s view when he stood up. This made me love her – she just wants her students to be successful and she appreciates their strengths. I got to be in her class a few times and they responded so well to her.
Colin with two of his good friends. I had to leave the guy on the left in the picture because he was just too awesome to crop.
Can you tell I love him? Can all of you believe this is the same little guy we all oohed and ahhed over in Provo?
Colin with his good friend Charlie, who is in the French program and goes to the same church and scout group. Charlie’s mom is obviously way more awesome than me, with all those leis.
Gabe happened to have lunch during Colin’s program, so I grabbed a piece of cake and took it to him. Speaking of good friends, the little guy peeking out behind Gabe has been such a kind friend to him this year. He has just made Gabe’s social life.
Thursday, June 5, 2014
I loaded the dishwasher today as Carina kept her little finger busy with playdough. As often happens when she is playing alone, she occasionally lapsed into her imagination and uttered a few of her thoughts aloud. I heard her say, “This is me, and this is_______, and this is _______” using her sister’s names. I looked over at the little friends she had made in bright orange and tears came to my eyes.
I often wonder what Carina must think about her sisters. She has heard about them for a over year, probably the only year of her life she remembers. She will point to the clothes I have bought and laid aside for the day they will join us and tell me who they belong to. Carina has seen little toys, shoes, and necklaces mailed off, and she solemnly nods her head and tells me, “Those are for my sisters.”
I wonder if her sisters are like Santa Claus to her. She has perfect faith that they exist and that someday they will come, but they hold a mystery that she doesn’t even want to question.
It is hard not to feel like the information I am feeding her is as much a myth as Santa Claus. Some days I feel the full weight of the reality of our situation – that we have two daughters thousands of miles away whose health and happiness we have little to no impact on, two little girls who have personalities and smiles that will someday bloom before our eyes, but we have no idea when. The weight of that reality is just too heavy to carry every day. It is paralyzing.
Many days I make a deliberate choice not to embrace that reality. I let their faces remain a little blurry in my head and I let the mystery of their homecoming glide across my consciousness like a water-bug skims across a lake.
It might not be the perfect choice but I am learning how imperfect many of my choices have to be in such a flawed situation.
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Thursday, April 3, 2014
We began our adoption of two sisters from the DR Congo last February after a ten year long desire to adopt. This adoption process has been intensely invasive. It started with our home-study over a year ago, where we sat with an almost stranger for hours and discussed our values, parenting beliefs, life experiences, religion, and home life. We sat with this social worker in our home, let her look at every nook and cranny, and let her ask our children questions. It continued with background checks and multiple sets of fingerprints sent to the state and the FBI. Add in physicals for everyone in our family and a complete disclosure of all our finances to every party involved, and endless paperwork filled out for the Department of State, the Congo courts, and our adoption agency. We have never exposed ourselves so completely and been scrutinized so closely.
AND THAT IS OKAY. It is for the sake of the the children who deserve to be placed in home where they have a chance at love and safety.
We are in the very final stages of our adoption. We got through court in the DR Congo last summer and are the legal parents of our girls. We have passed the immigration steps that we need to, and are currently 4 months into the 3-6months it is supposed to take for the US Embassy in Kinshasa to investigate our adoption to ensure it was completed ethically. Once that step in complete (which could happen any day), they will set a date to issue our daughters’ visas to come home.
Sadly, these visas will be worthless. In the DR Congo, even when you have your children and their visas in hand, the last step to leaving the country is obtaining an exit letter from the entity of their government that handles immigration – this entity is called the DGM. Last September, the DGM decided to stop issuing these exit letters to adopted children. They made this decision amid rumors of adoption fraud and “rehoming”. Their stated plan was to shut down for up to a year to restructure and investigate.
Chad and I, and every adoptive parent I know, are firmly committed to ethical adoptions and we want the DGM, and every party involved in adoption, to do all that they possibly can to ensure that each child placed in a home truly needs a home and will be treated well. We are in this for the children.
This shut-down is complicated and I am giving you all these details so that you know I am not trying to oversimplify the issue or turn a blind eye to the issues in adoption. We want the DGM to dig deep into whatever suspicions they have.
Our problem with this mess is the complete freeze of exit letters that has taken place and the lack of a plan. It has been over six months. What exactly is the DGM doing to investigate? How will this change the adoption process? Exactly how many families and children are being affected? How will they work through the enormous backlog when they finally do issue exit letters again? Do exit letters have to stop completely while all of this happens? Can they let families who were through court before the shutdown take their children home? The U.S. Department of State cannot answer some of the most basic questions put forth to them. Just a couple of weeks ago in a conference call with adoptive parents , they told us that the freeze would be in place until at least September, and gave us little hope that it would actually be lifted then. So we are left with a hundred questions and no answers, and very little hope. If the US Department of State isn’t asking these questions and getting answers for us, who will?
In the meantime, literally hundreds of children are waiting for their families. The Congo courts are still (more slowly) issuing adoption adoption decrees and the US Embassy is still (more slowly) issuing visas for these children to go home. Every day that passes with this suspension in place adds to the number of children waiting and adds to the wait once the suspension is over.
Our situation, as depressing as it is, it not as sad as other families I know – a mother who went to the country to pick up their daughter after being promised they would receive an exit letter, stayed with her for five months, had to return to her children and husband at home and is still waiting to bring her home… a father missing the birth of a child while trying to get his adopted children home….. and so many families who have spent every dime of their savings on their adoption and who are now scraping together money to pay monthly foster care fees that have no end in sight.
If these children are waiting and waiting to begin their lives with families, it needs to be for a real reason.
We want a voice. We want our children to have a voice. That voice should be coming from our government and it is not.
We have answered every question asked of us and we deserve the same respect.
This isn’t an issue of diplomacy, this is an issue of apathy. We need the U.S. Department of State to care. These children matter.
These are our daughters. We received these pictures the day we were matched with them over a year ago. Although I have looked at these faces countless times since then, my heart still beats fast every time, because I know they are worth it. These two girls matter. Every day of their life matters.
Today, please take the time to sign this petition and fill out letters at the end of it. Please share this blog post on Facebook, through email, on Twitter, and on Instagram. Use the hashtag #DRCStuck.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Before Carina was born, I had a feeling that there was a reason she was joining our family when she was. That her soul and body had come together at this particular time and in her particular fourth-child spot, for a purpose.
As my transition from three to four kids was my hardest, her disposition made that feeling grow and grow. She just fit.
And as this past year has been one of my more difficult ones, having her home with me all day every day has been a blessing. Her chipmunk voice, her spunky attitude, going all day long, often insistently pulling me out from under the cloud I am under. It is a phrase that is used often, but she is a ray of sunshine in my life. I am so thankful for it.
Today on her third birthday, I knew exactly what she would love to do. After a breakfast of sugary cereal we went to my parent’s house, where they gave her their gift to her – “Frozen.” Then Granny came with us to Old Navy, where she got to pick out whatever dress she wanted. We brought six or seven options into the dressing room and when she tried the second one on, no other dresses would do. I encouraged her to try the others on, but as she did she kept saying, “I like that one,” pointing to #2. Library was next, where we ran into some friends going to story time, so we joined then. After that we dropped Granny at home and had lunch. She wanted to watch Frozen with her new dress on. I told her she couldn’t eat lunch in the new dress, so she wouldn’t let me start the movie until she quickly gobbled half her bean burrito down, declared she was done and got the dress on. When the boys and Dad came home we went to Nothing But Noodles and then SAS Cupcakes, where she got to choose her own (pink) cupcake. She only ate the frosting (no surprise there).