Monday, January 25, 2010

A Note from My Brother (a non-adoption related post)

I am lucky enough to be the older sister to two great "little" brothers.  Younger would be a better word to describe them since they are both 6' 4".  One of my brothers, Tracy, is serving in Iraq right now.  This is his third tour.  He's has given 3 years of his life to serve our country and help another one.  The last time he was gone his wife gave birth to their first child.  This time he had to leave his wife, son and baby daughter.  Can you imagine?  If that wouldn't rip your heart out, I don't know what would.  

My husband and I have had so much fun leading the Cub Scout Pack at our boys' school for the past 2 years.  At one of our pack meetings last fall we talked about what it meant to be a hero.  We talked about what it took to be a hero and how heroes were really just people like you and me who, in extraordinary circumstances, stand up for what is right or put themselves in harms way to protect others or something they believe in.  We gave each boy a home-made medal that night as we read notes from their parents that told a reason why they were heroes.  And I got to tell the boys that I have a real-life hero in my family.  My real life hero is my brother, Staff Sergeant Tracy Friend.  It's hard for me to hear the stories from his time in Iraq- hard for me to hear what he endured and what he had to do.  Hard for me to imagine living through such things and maintaining a sense of reality and a sense of self.  But he has done it and indeed, is doing it right now.  He has saved lives- more than one, and more than once.  And the soldiers who serve under him consider him a permanent part of their family.  I was proud to tell the boys about such a man.

At their next Den Meetings the boys all wrote letters to my brother and his friend who he has served with all along, SSG Strube.  The letters were precious and adorable and over and over just said, "Thank You."  They made me cry.  (Just like I'm crying now.)  We sent those letters to my brother, and just recently we got a letter from him to read to the scouts and a photo to show to them.  I wish I had a better scanner because I would love to show you my awesome brother in full gear out in the desert with tanks and hummers throwing up sand and dust on the dunes behind him.  It. Is.  Awesome.  But... scanner is lame.  But I can share his letter with you.

Dear Pack 318,
Thank you for all your cards and letters.  SSG Strube and I really appreciate the fact that you took the time to write to us.

This is our third deployment to Iraq and a lot has changed for the better compared to the first two deployments.  We were here at the beginning of the war.  Now we are here to see the end of the war in Iraq.  It's good to see that all the hard work and sacrifice that has been put into Iraq is finally paying off.

Thanks again,
Staff Sergeant Friend

I'm proud of my brother.  I just want the world to know that.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Husband is Psychic

Okay, seriously, I should have blogged about this earlier in the week BEFORE we got the call that told us our court date.  It may be hard to believe at this point, BUT it's all true.  A few weeks ago I asked Mick to guess three dates:
1.  The date we would get the call about our court date
2.  When that court date would be
3.  When we would travel.
He very casually shot off a few windows of time and I wrote them down and stuck them up on the fridge.  I knew that the window he had guessed for us to get the call about our court date was this week, but I just now glanced at that note on the fridge and this is what it says:

Call about court date:  Jan. 18-22
Court Date scheduled: Jan 27-Feb 14
Travel:  March 11-19

So... He got the first two right on the money!  Is that a little freaky???  I knew this man was special and gifted... but I did NOT know that he dabbled in the paranormal on the side.

We'll have to wait and see about the travel time but maybe I can get him to ESP me some new windows and a paint job in our girls room over the weekend...


February 8th will be the day when we finally get to officially say, "SHE'S OURS!" (hopefully, if all the "i"s are dotted and all the "t"s crossed...)  And then watch out internet, because I am going to flood you with photos of the sweetest non-smiling face you have ever seen!!!

February 8th... the day before my oldest son's 9th birthday (his "golden birthday"- turning 9 on the 9th)...  that's only 18 days away!!!  WOW!!!

Sara said that embassy dates (which will determine the dates we will travel) are being scheduled around 4-6 weeks after passing court.  What a great way to spend Spring Break!!!

Woo Hoo!  February 8th!!!

Something funny:  I was in the SAME teacher's room when I got the call about our court date as I was for the referral call!!!  I told her she must be my good luck charm.  ;-)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Got an update~!

And she's growing!  She has gained 2.7 pounds in the past 6 weeks and grown 1.6 inches!!!  That's a lot, isn't it?

And we got a new photo!  She's still not smiling, but someone has been trying to do her hair and makeup.  She has little puffs in her hair that look like they have been slept on several times before the photo was taken, and- get this- she's wearing LIPGLOSS!  It's kind of a crack up to be honest.  :-)  All in all it makes her look a little crazy.

But... who cares?  She's our girl.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tomorrow is MLK Day, so let's talk about IT.

Yes.  IT is racism.  The big issue we all wish did not exist.  I will admit that I would like to pretend it was simply a big, bad, ugly part of our history and that it was no longer an issue, but that would be to stick my head in the sand.  Lately there have been horrible stories of racism coming out of Europe.  And then there was this horrible story in the news of a town in Italy that where all the African immigrants living there had to be evacuated under threats of violence or death.  Shocking, but unfortunately not that uncommon.

Last year on Martin Luther King Jr. day I read a couple of books about him to my boys (then 5 and 7).  I also read them parts of his amazing "I Have a Dream" speech.  I have to admit that I did not like making my kids aware of such an ugly time in our nation's history, but one thing we know is that if we don't learn from history we are doomed to repeat it.  But still- I did not like telling them about how African Americans used to not be allowed to go to the same schools, restaurants, churches... even drink from the same water fountain as they would have been.  I didn't like it, not because I felt they shouldn't know about it, but because I love their innocence.  I love that they don't think a thing about skin color.  (To be honest, they don't even know the terms "black" and "white"- they just think everyone is a different shade of brown.  Not totally sure this is the right thing to do, but we can discuss that another time.)  But again... not talking about it is just not an option, is it?  As I read to them and talked to them about Dr. King and his wonderful words and amazing life, there was a dark fear in the back of my mind.  I kept thinking that it's one thing to tell this horrible story to my white sons.  But what was it going to be like to one day have to tell this part of American history to my black daughter???  That takes on a whole different level of meaning, doesn't it?  And quite frankly, it scares the @#$% out of me.

What on earth do I know about teaching someone to handle racism???  How do I tell my daughter that, although things are better now than they were in the '60s that people STILL might judge her not on the content of her character, but on the color of her skin???  Have I ever experienced prejudice in my life?  I don't think so.  So what do I have to pass on to my daughter about standing up to it???  How can I protect her from something that I have never personally had to face???  Just thinking about someone treating my girl with prejudice gets my blood boiling... but do I have any skills in place to prevent it or help her cope with it???

When we first started our adoption I read a book written by some fellow Gladney adopters about their journey to adopt their son from Ethiopia.  One part in particular comes to mind as I am thinking about this topic today.  Josh and Amy Bottomly stated much more eloquently than I have the very real concerns about transracial adoption.  Here, with their permission, I have copied a small part of their wonderful book, From Ashes to Africa:

"My most salient fears were fueled by thinking through the labyrinthine issues surrounding adopting a black child.  I can vividly recall driving home from work and listening to an author on NPR argue that interracial adoption invited in too much confusion for all parties.  Families like this would eventually erode underneath the "groundswell of cultural differences and ethnic barriers."  As I listened, I began to feel uncomfortable.  The author's words created a moment of fearful pause.  I thought to myself, maybe adopting a black child is more than I can handle, especially in a part of the country where there are still large pockets of racism.  Or perhaps the problems of prejudice are too big, the histories of injustice too long, the feelings of bitterness too deep?  How would I ever be able to explain to my son the slave trade and the eleven to thirteen million Africans who died at the hands of white people?  What explanation would I conjure when my son came home from school with his American history textbook in hand and asked me to explain the images of burning crosses and children like Emit Till dangling from trees, burned to the bone and beaten to a bloody pulp?  Or how would I assure my black son that the stares he felt in the mall or the racial slurs he might hear from the class bully at recess were not him, but them.  In other words, how would I protect my son from America's most sordid and ugly sin-- a sin that is tragically still very much alive in some enclaves of our nation?"

Like I said, I honestly wish I could avoid teaching my children these horrible truths.  But that is just not an option.  Not for any of us.

We will soon be a transracial family.  I am trying my best to go into this with eyes wide open, and that includes facing my shortcomings.  No. I have never personally handled prejudice and racism.  But neither have I handled cyber bullying, internet porn, "sexting", teen depression, drug use... the list could go on and on.  Does that disqualify me from parenting?  I don't think so, but it does become imperative that I educate myself and learn as much as I can so that should any of those problematic situations arise I can help my children cope.  Perhaps the same is true for racism.

And like Dr. King, I too have a DREAM.  I have a dream that the innocence I see in my boys and in their friends will result in a generation of people who will grow up with many less prejudices passed on to them from the previous generation and that this will continue until racism is wiped out.  I have a dream that spending a lot of time with the many other families we know that "look" like ours is going to will help our daughter to feel it's normal and okay not to look like your parents.  And I have a dream that the definition of family will not be limited to those you are related to, but will expand to include all of those you love regardless of their skin color, nationality, socio-economic status, or even political preferences.

Thanks, Dr. King.  We are trying to live your words and make them reality.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Latest Purchase

You say, "Gayla... Oh, no you di'int!"

And I say, "Internet... Oh yes I did!"

Swimwear with a tutu and another with boy shorts???  Tell me, even though it's January, HOW COULD I RESIST???

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Debunking Fear

One would think that by this point in this amazing process I would have certainly realized that not only am I not in control of very much at all, but also that the ONE who IS in charge of it all has proven over and over that His very capable hands are exactly where we need to be.  But unfortunately one would be wrong in that assumption.

When I heard that two people who got their referrals after we did got court dates for NEXT FRIDAY, I have to admit that while I was very happy for them, I was not jealous in the LEAST.  In fact, I freaked out at the very possibility that we could get a court date in January!  I know for many of you that sounds just terrible.  But I have to be honest.  It's not that I have changed my mind about our beautiful girl.  No- not at all!  I long to see her and hold her and play with her and to help her start the grieving process and help her through it all... So what is it that freaks me out???  Rather than just sit and deny my fears, I thought I would put them out there and face them.

So what is it that I am afraid of?  Let's face it and debunk it, shall we?

Fear:  We plan to take our boys with us when we go to ET to get our little girl.  I am worried that our travel time will interfere with the time that Jack is supposed to be taking the OCCT.  That's the Oklahoma Core Curriculum Test and it's without a doubt the biggest event of Elementary School.  Results of this test determine which Middle Schools kids can get into.  The test will be given the second week in March.  If that particular week was our travel time, that honestly would not bother me.  He can always make it up after Spring Break.  I would rather he miss the test and have to make it up than miss any of the test prep which will take place between now and then.
Debunking:  So.  Does God know or not know the week of this test as well as the importance of it?  Yes.  Yes he does.  He knows all about it and has since the beginning of time.  He knows and cares about Jack's future even more than I do.  So... no matter the timing, I think He can handle it.  If Jack misses test prep or misses the test itself, neither of which are more important than being able to go to Ethiopia and meet his sister and see her country and see how MOST of the world lives.  So... the timing is in God's hands whether I worry myself silly about it or not, so I may as well not.

Fear:  Her ROOM!!!  Oi vay... what a mess it is right now.  Mick has been working very hard getting her new shelves and drawers built.  After they are installed he will start taking out all the windows and switching them for ones that are more economical and less, well, less 80 years old and drafty.  After the new windows are in,  then there's paint and THEN we can start actually setting up the room.  And that all takes TIME!!!
Debunking:  I do not think that every little detail has to be in place before she comes.  As long as we have the basics (bed, clothes, jammies, a few toys) she will be fine.  We can work out decoration details at any time.  Indeed it might be better to get to know her personality a bit before I decorate.  Then she can have input as to what her room will look like!

Fear:  The longer I am able to work the more money I will have.  Doesn't everything come down to money???
Debunking:  Has God not given me this job straight out of the clear blue sky?  Does He not know my needs?  Has He not provided for every little thing every little step of the way???

Fear:  Tickets.  Let's be honest.  Just flying Mick and I there and back and our little girl back is going to be a pretty penny.  Add in flying the boys both ways and it adds up to a very pretty penny indeed.  Yikes.  I got really freaked out looking at prices the other day.  Holy Moly.
Debunking:  Ditto the above debunk.

So.  Here's what I have reminded myself:  God is big.  God has been in charge of this adoption all along and He has provided for every little moment of it.  He already knows the way it all works out and has since the beginning of time.  He loves us all and cares about our well being more than we can imagine.  And more than anything, he knows my little girl and He knows how much she needs a family and when she needs us to come.  So should I worry and stew over things I have zero control over?  Or should I just rest and trust?  Hmmmm... Seems pretty obvious, doesn't it.  I know it's easier said than done, though.  So any prayers you might feel like tossing up for us would be really appreciated.

So bring on a court date!  Bring on passing first time around!  Bring on a quick travel time!  I'm trusting that HE knows best and that we are all going to be exactly where we need to be exactly when we need to be there.

And won't it be fun a few months from now to see how He worked it all out???  I don't plan to spend the time between now and then in a state of worry.  I plan to spend it in a state of eager anticipation.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Whew.  I don't know why it has been so hard for me to wait for an update this week... but mentally it has been quite the challenge.  But today we got a new photo and a little description of her personality.  Still no smile in her picture, but she does look a little more comfortable in front of the camera in this one.  The description of her personality says she is definitely shy- not apprehensive, just shy.  I see this as a good thing- both my boys AND my husband are all shy.  And although I am definitely not shy, I can see through my boys that I would rather have my children a bit on the cautious side in new situations than to be careless and rush headlong into crazy situations or interactions with strangers.  So... she'll fit right in!

And in other news... SHE GOT HER PACKAGE!!!  The first one we sent with the little puppy that we thought was lost w/ the luggage!!!  The luggage was found and the people at the Gladney foster care center knew to get the little baggie w/ her name on it and give it to her.  No pics of this event, and that's too bad.  But oh, well.  We know she has her little gray puppy and a little book with photos of her new family.  :-)  That makes me happy.

Two families who got their referrals after us have court dates already... FOR NEXT WEEK!!!  (Congrats to you guys!)  Seriously... I put pics of her future room on my last post... we are no where NEAR ready.  If the families w/ court dates next week pass this first time, they could potentially be traveling by the end of January!  End of February at the latest!!!  I have to be honest... that freaks me out a bit.  In my mind we will get a February court date and a March/April embassy date... and I am perfectly comfortable with that.  BUT... I'm totally trusting the timing to God.  He knows when she needs us to come and get her.  So we'll just have to get in gear and get that room ready!!! (and by "we" of course I mean Mick.)  :-)

Happy Ethiopian Christmas!  Ye Ganna Baal!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Package, Remodels and Crossed Fingers

New Package:
Tomorrow the new package will be on it's way to Rebecca to take to our girl!  I like the new outfit MUCH better than the other one.

It doesn't show up very well there on my bedspread, but oh well.  And I let the boys pick out a new snuggly for her.

Yes.  It's a horse.  Of course.  :-)

Over Christmas Break we finally started working on our girl's room!  (And by "we" of course I mean Mick.)  :-)  Eryn, who started this process at about the same time we did and who got her referral for a beautiful baby girl on Christmas Day (is that perfect or WHAT???) posted pics of the gorgeous room she and her family have created for their daughter. Of course Eryn's room looks completely ready!  It looks like baby girl could sleep in it tonight!  You MAY notice from my pics that there's no way we are going to be done on time that we aren't quite as far along...

Mick bashed out the wall next to the closet so that he can create some built in shelves and drawers which will be awesome and really save room.  We are also replacing all the windows in the room and of course repainting, etc...  So as you can see... it means we have a looooooong way to go.  (And, again, by "we" I mean Mick.)  I'll document the process so you can see how talented my man is.  :-)

Crossed Fingers:
AND... I really, really, really want to get an update on our girl from our agency tomorrow!!!  They send out 2 per month, but the month you get your referral you don't get any more updates- I guess because they give so much info with the referral.  We got our referral one month ago TODAY... and that feels like an awful long time to go w/ no new pictures or information.  So here's hoping we get something tomorrow!!!!
Please, please, please!

Selam! G'day! Hello!