Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Home Visit

Well here it is!  Finally, our home visit date has arrived (or is arriving in 2 days) and oddly, I am not nervous but excited!  We have carefully gathered all our documentation to give the final bits to our amazing social worker, Michelle.  On Thursday she will come to our home, look around, finally meet our little Jack, and then go away and write our report.  On the one hand it seems like this part has taken forever but at the same time it really has flown by and has not been a big deal at all!

I hear how things are going in Uganda and it scares me while at the same time hoping that we get our referral tomorrow! If you're wondering, our referral is still quite a few months away (we have at least 6 months after we get on the waiting list) and yet just the fact that we're moving on to the next phase soon is so exciting!

In case you're following our journey and want to have a glimpse of some of the Ugandan babies, I will give you the website of one of the babies homes that our agency works with.  Before I do let me say one thing.  If you are close to us, giving us a referral or recommendation of any sort, or are related to us, please DO NOT donate any money to this orphanage.  When we start our dossier process and work through immigration, we must be completely above reproach with regards to how we received our child.  In some cases, people have donated money, maybe even innocently, but because it could appear they were buying favor with someone in the loop it can appear they wanted to buy a child.  While most people have good motives, we don't want any possibility that anyone would say that is our intention.  We want to go through all the correct channels and not have put anything in our own way to trip us up along this process.  So here's the website:  http://www.lovingheartsbabies.com/.  This is NOT necessarily the orphanage where our child will be referred from, it is just an example of one of the orphanages in Uganda.

So here's to the end of the home study process and the kick off of immigration and dossier prep!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Why aren't you adopting domestically?

I just need to address something that has been slapping me in the face many times in the last few days/weeks.  Maybe this is an evil at work trying to crush my spirit but regardless, I'm over it.  Here's my problem.  When I tell someone about our adoption or speak with someone about adoption I can only share our story, experience, and desires.  I do not beget anyone their thoughts and ideas, but maybe before placing judgement we should all consider each other's point of view before speaking our minds.

One instance occurred when I was discussing adoption with someone and they were telling me their concerns about adopting.  In an attempt to dispel some myths they had bought into they quickly told me how they did not believe in international adoption.  Mind you, at this point they did not know that we are adopting from Uganda, they just know we are adopting.  They proceeded to tell me that it's bogus that people would even consider adopting internationally because there are so many kids in need here in the United States.

In another instance, I had someone almost attack me with questions about why we would even think about going outside the US for a child with the great need locally and imply that it's just because it's "in" right now to adopt a child of another culture.

These are just two examples of multiple conversations I've had lately.  So let me set the record straight.  We are talking about a CHILD here people.  These children know nothing of borders and boundaries.  All they know is heartache and pain and trauma that they have suffered because they were abandoned.  And this is true from children inside the borders of our amazing United States and in every country of this world.  In my mind, whether you decide to adopt domestically or internationally and have the right motives, then it is not wrong, period.

Of course there are children here that need forever families.  Our decision was more of just a personal pull toward Uganda that we cannot explain or express to you.  Just because I cannot put it into words does not make it an inaccurate decision.  We also know that children in the US, even those growing up in foster care and orphanages, have certain opportunities that children abroad do not.  Those opportunities are simply non-existent in places like Uganda.  We know the almost certain outcome of a little boy if he reaches the vital teenage years in Uganda and does not have anything but the babies home he grew up in.  The statistics are staggering at the amount of orphaned boys who are drugged and forced into militant groups and forced to fight brutal and violent wars at very young ages.  Please do not hear me trying to make a play that everyone should adopt from Uganda.  I could tell you stories of this caliber about the little girls in China sold into marriage or the children in eastern Europe forced into human trafficking.

All I am saying is, there is a need.  There is a need here, and there is a need there too.  And in every case, it comes down to one child.  We have chosen to adopt one child (for now) from Uganda.  And had we chosen the United States, that would not have been wrong.  It would not have been better or worse, just different.  In choosing to give a child a chance they would have never had before, any child from any country, there is not a wrong answer.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

what's that? a gift?

As we trod through this journey and my heart races every time I hear there is news from Uganda I easily get downtrodden.  I am scared.  And I know that fear is not a healthy one.  We are just getting ready to finish this homestudy and start the immigration process and with the new consulate in Uganda I fear what the future holds.

For those of you keeping up with Ugandan consulate news (so not many of you, I'm sure) you will have heard that just a few weeks ago a new American Consulate has started at the US Embassy in Uganda.  What does that mean for us?  Nothing right now.  But it could have a large impact on our future.  What we have learned about Uganda is that there is a new consulate every few years and that when that change occurs, there is a new interpretation of the law.  No, the law itself does not change, but the interpretation of that law can mean drastic things for families who fall into the process or who have to adjust from one regime to the next.  The problem is, there's no such thing as "grandfathering" someone in from previous regime.  This means, if a document requirement changes or how they define "orphan" changes you could be subject to the new requirements and definitions with no warning or way to change it!!!  What this means for my friends is that they don't get a visa for their little girl.  And who knows if that will change...ever.  Ugh.  I think what drives me the most crazy about this is that this isn't the Ugandan government doing this.  No, this is OUR government making these changes and determination.

I know that we are supposed to be in Uganda.  I have people ask me this question all the time, "how did you choose Uganda?"  It's not an easy one for me to answer because most people are comfortable with me saying "we just knew."  They want concrete.  And I can't give them that.  But as I look at where we are now I see that there have been fail safes put into place to keep us from changing our minds at this point in time.  The first one is that we've already started working with our agency and placement worker (who we LOVE, thanks Heather) and we are ALMOST finished with our home study.  In fact, just after the first of the year we should have a finalized document (so stand by for the fundraising letters to come out).  I also didn't realize that our home study provider (whom we also love, Jewish Family Services, thank you Michelle), is a non-Hague organization which means we couldn't switch to a Hague country now even if we wanted to (unless we started over).  All these things just keep reaffirming to me that we are in this thing for the long haul...I just pray hope that it's on the short end of "long".

Let me stop being so fearful and tell you the good news.  We were asked by our agency to produce a profile on a new website called adoptionjourney.  Here's our link:  http://morgan.adoptionjourney.com/.  As part of this, you sign up for a wepay account (like paypal) and put a goal of fundraising.  I didn't expect anything from this since we just signed up and haven't advertised for it.  And yet, today I got an email that said we had received $25.  WHAT???  What's that?  A Gift?  I don't know who you are, R Jason Locy, but you were used by God today.  Because in the midst of my doubts and fears, you gave $25.  And that was the kick in the pants I needed to know that God is working and we are where we're supposed to be!  So while I can't get your address to send a thank you card, I am thanking you now.  You have no idea the impact that that $25 made on me.

Monday, November 21, 2011

with a heavy heart

Today were our individual interviews with our home study provider and everything on that front is going swimmingly.  We should have a finalized home study just after the new year and move on to the immigration piece of this process.  The other benefit of the home study being finalized is that we can now start working on grants and fundraising because all of them that I have seen require a finalized home study.  That being said, my heart is very heavy as I write this.

There are some people who have let us peek into their lives as they have stepped through this adoption process in Uganda and they have come to a tragic place.  J&T have three children (and one on the way) and took their family to Uganda for 8 weeks to finalize the adoption of their new little girl.  Just yesterday, T and all the kids had to come home without J and their daughter.  Unfortunately, red tape has caused them to be denied a visa from the US Embassy and based on what I have read from their blog, it is not very promising that they will get one...possibly ever.  As I read through their situation and Justin and I talk about it, it scares us to know that this is nothing that they could have planned for and there is nothing they could have done differently to prevent this.  This means, we could end up in this exact same situation and that scares me to death.  And yet, it doesn't keep us from moving forward in the process.  We have to know and trust that we are where we are doing exactly what we should be doing knowing the risk but trusting the One who brought us to this point.

So much has happened in the last few weeks...I went to Japan and back, Jack has two teeth cutting through, and he's up on his hands and knees trying to crawl!  Dad was here with us while Justin's dad is doing his job as Santa.  Dad will be back after Thanksgiving for a few more weeks while Justin finishes student teaching!  I am so proud of him for working so hard through his masters.  He will be done and a full fledged teacher in less than a month!  And then we leave for Christmas vacation!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

slow and steady

back from travel, back into our whirlwind life, and things are just slow and steady.  i get these bursts of energy with regards to adoption and then I sit back and think how much longer we have and I just want to stop.  Of course I don't want to stop the adoption, I just want to stop the back and forth of now and then...whenever "then" is.

In the meantime, things are in a bit of transition in our household.  Our primary childcare (Justin's dad) has very important duties as Santa Claus for the next few months and so my dad has come from Illinois to be our manny until mid-December.  We are excited that he is here with us but always miss Santa as he is away from home for two months.  Obviously this transition means some changes for how we've been doing business.  While I don't have to get up at 6am to get Jack out the door with Justin, I now feel that if he wakes in the night I should be the go-to girl since I get to sleep in a little later.  Unfortunately I have the same problem I had when I was preggers, once I'm up, it's everything I can do to go back to sleep.  So we'll have to figure something out here.  Although in another week it won't matter anyway because I'm headed off to Japan for a week for work (last international work trip of the year).

I realize after writing a bit that this all seems kinda down in the dumps.  But let me share some awesome that is happening soon or very soon.  My endocrine appointment is the week I get back from Japan.  This may not seem like a big deal to anyone else but when you're living with hypothyroidism and your medication is off and no one can seem to fix it, this is a HUGE deal.  Our next homestudy appointment is on the 9th.  And, at church this last week I met a new friend.  There was this beautiful family just over from us in service with three little towhead kids and a baby carrier with a blanket over it (oh yeah, and the mom was a ginger :).  Mid service, the baby gets restless and comes out of the carrier.  Inside is the most beautiful little African American baby boy.  I am almost moved to tears in the service and immediately when it was finished I went to them to talk and share.  I will spare you all the details but after much asking as to where my "place" is in our church, already putting the wheels in motion to meet with our ministers about adoption awareness and fundraising, and hearing my new friend's story of what they did for orphan care in their previous church, I am excited about what is to come!  We meet with the ministers today and are excited to just really live out our command to look after the orphans and we can do that in so many ways!

I'm going to save the details for another post and after we have a little more direction.  Suffice it to say that I feel very blessed but also a deep responsibility for this new calling.  I am realizing that as much as I love working with college age girls that maybe that was just that time of my life and now God is moving me to a different phase "for such a time as this."

now if only my 6 month old would go back to sleeping through the night...

Monday, October 24, 2011

in the +3 time zone

Our orientation interview was great and we love our agency and blessed to feel at home and comfortable with Heather, our agency rep. We feel like we have a better grasp on timeline and what things may look like. And for me who grasps at the illusion of control regularly, this gives me some false sense of security. I realize God already knows our timeline and that is where my security must lie...but in the midst of not feeling that I know anything, this helps.

Alas, I am in Bahrain. The more I travel, the easier it gets, but my heart still longs to be home with my boys. I am so thankful I got to skype with them after my arrival but I feel like Jack is getting to that age where he knows I'm gone which is not helping my cause. The other thing that's not helping is that I think he's going through a 6 month growth spurt and teething which makes for an unhappy baby. I am beyond thankful to have an amazing husband who I trust beyond anyone else in the world and know God created to be my lifemate (and I his). This eases the tension of Jack not having his mom there but it still hurts my heart to be gone.

However, in the midst of being away from my boys, I am sensing another type of longing. I am on the same side of the world as my second child. Better yet, I'm in the same time zone!! Distance wise, I am about as close to my baby as we live to Las Vegas...that's just a few short hour plane ride away!! This is the closest I will be to him/her until we leave to go bring him home. And it just makes me want to go right now. This could be a slight problem of course given the fact that the age of our baby when we adopt could be about 12 months, and we're about 15-18 months away from actually going to get our child, so realistically, my baby's birth mom is most likely pregnant right now. That is such a weird thought. It draws me to her and I just pray that she is well, eating as best as she can, sleeping as well as any pregnant woman can, and that the heaviness of her heart, knowing her child will not be with her for her life, will be put at ease. I pray that she will have a peace come over her knowing that someone, some family, is so excited to know that their baby is in the womb being woven together to make their family a more complete picture. I can't imagine what it must be like to not have your child with you for your life but I pray that for her she can know that we will love and raise that baby no differently than we do our beautiful Jack.

I have been reading the blog of some new found friends (who ironically enough, live near Raleigh) who are in Uganda right now waiting to bring home their little girl. Their story is amazing to read and gives me such excitement and hope that the time will be here before we know it!! In the meantime, I will wait on the Lord! And this week, I will wait in the same timezone as our little baby :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

my baby boy

With a home study provider in place and our first interview scheduled, I am excited and ready to move forward. My adoption excitement aside, I am getting ready to leave for a week of work and it always makes me sad. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy traveling and really don't mind traveling for work. But leaving my husband and my baby are the hardest times of my life. The first time I traveled after Jack was born was a week long trip to Korea. The trip was doused in fear that something would happen to my boys while I was halfway around the world and I would be completely helpless and 24 hours away. I was home for a week and then left for Italy and while it got a bit easier, it's still not my favorite thing. Ideally, I would love to take my family with me. But taking a 6 month old halfway around the world is not something I'm doing anytime soon. Bringing our baby home from Africa will be quite a trip but I will not travel like that with Jack if I don't have to.

Anyway, tomorrow I leave for Bahrain. It's your standard, run of the mill trip. No big deal, really. It's just another week away from my boys. Call it what you will, but I still hate to spend a night away from my husband. I am so thankful for Skype and that we can see each other daily, but it's still not easy. I hold so tightly to my baby Jack and love to just snuggle him. His smile and laughter are infectious! And Skype just can't convey that closeness...his smell, his wiggly self, and his squishy butt :) But I know my Jack is loved and taken care of so well by so many that I have to just be thankful that we have an amazing support system during these times!!

I realize this blog has been focused on our future baby from Uganda but I would never want anyone to think that I am not taking advantage of every moment of our family right now, today. Yes, I am excited about our new baby and yes, I know that baby will just add to our already amazing family but it does not make me wish away one moment of today.

Oh by the way, I get home from Bahrain in a week and then leave less than two weeks later for Japan...last trip of the year! I just keep telling myself that these Delta Skymiles are contributing to our Uganda plane tickets and I know that's why I'm getting these opportunities right now!! So I'm trying to be thankful that I have an amazing job and great travel that allows for a very important future trips to Uganda!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

study? i thought i was done with school...

our orientation interview is on friday and as soon as that wraps up we begin our home study. for those of you not familiar with a home study, it's basically someone interviewing your family including finances, a physical, background check (think i'm good on this one), and then they visit your home. so many things i've read about the home study process talks about the fact that it's not so important to have everything perfect in its place or every piece of dog hair off the floor (thank goodness) but more that you have your ducks in a row, that you are prepared for another family member, and that you are going to be decent parents. no matter what specifically anyone will be looking at, anytime you have someone go over your life with a fine tooth comb you are making yourself vulnerable. the truth is, jack is rolling over every which way but sunday these days and will be mobile before we know it so it's not bad to be baby-proofing and de-cluttering already. it's just that i have a hard time believing that how i keep my house determines how good a parent i will be. i love my jack jack but sometimes i am a slob! sometimes i have dishes left in the sink overnight and there's usually a pile of dirty laundry outside the laundry room and not in the basket and i'm sure i don't vacuum up after the dogs enough...but does that make me lesser of a mom than someone that does?

on top of this, i keep thinking about how we "clean house". whether it's before company comes or before a home study, we can become some cleaning fools. i'll never forget when i was young that we cleaned like we never cleaned before when my grandma was coming to visit (sorry mom). but that's not how we lived. i'm not saying we lived in a dump, i'm just saying it wasn't reality. what if a social worker popped in on some random day to do a home study, would i be prepared? i don't know. i don't think we would fail as much as i know it's not going to look the same as when we have this planned visit.

justin and i have been talking about how God is calling us to be prepared for whatever he has in store for us. part of our preparations are doing some "cleaning house" of our own. it's so easy to fall into a rut by setting expectations for our lives and working toward those expectations. this last weekend we had the pleasure of worshiping with Bridges church in Winston-Salem and the lead pastor, Patrick, preached about preparing for action even when we don't know what that action is. we realized we had been putting expectations in place without preparation and really we need to prepare and then just be ready for God to move. this is how our adoption is going to be and how our lives need to continue to be. we are preparing our home, our lives, and our hearts and then we wait for action...a baby, a move?, who knows? we just know we need to ready ourselves and wait with bated breath! man that gets me excited!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The reality hits

We are so overwhelmed with life right now. Justin is student teaching by day and waiting tables by night while finishing his masters degree (come on December!). I am working full time, traveling for work, and trying to keep up with our house...oh yeah, and Jack is now 5 1/2 months old.

And then the reality hits...we are, by choice, asking for another layer of stress, pressure, and craziness into our lives. We are adopting. And when I stop and think about what that means, it is a lot to consider. We are asking for another child and one that we have zero control or influence on his or her life until he or she enters our home. We have no idea what his background is, why he is an orphan, what happened to his family, or how he was treated from birth to us. And we have very limited control as to how those initial months will impact his entire life.

And yet...we want nothing more than him. Last night Jack was finishing his last bottle and I didn't have a book close enough to grab so I decided to tell him a story. I told him the story of how his little brother or sister will be joining our family and you know what he did? He smiled bigger than I've ever seen him smile before. And my heart swelled with love. I love Jack more than I could ever explain. It is unbelievable that there could be more room in my heart for another baby and yet I already do! I may not know what our baby looks like but I can already see his spirit and hold him in my heart even though he may not even be born yet!!

We know that this is a marathon. We know that we are taking a risk by adopting in general, let alone in a country that is not part of the Hague convention. We know that we could accept a referral and something could happen to our baby before we even get there or after we arrive to take him home. We even had to sign a document that says we know what the risk is and we accept that risk! But we also know that God has called us to adopt and we are beyond excited that He has chosen us. We know that we are saving a little boy (or girl) from a very unknown future but even more so, we know that a little boy (or girl) is saving our family from having a gap in it that he was created to fill. This is a two way street. And we're just happy to be along for the ride.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

And so it begins...

As some of you may or may not know, we have officially started the adoption process and are working with Lifeline Children's Services to adopt a baby from Uganda.

If you know me, you know that from the first time I went to Haiti, I wanted a Haitian baby. And before Justin and I ever got married, I made it clear to him that it was my intention to adopt internationally one day, and if he wasn't onboard with that then it could be a dealbreaker. Obviously he was, in fact, he was ecstatic about the idea! I knew Haiti would not be an option for us because we have been married a short time and by the time we will have been married long enough, we will be above the age limit. Our initial desire was to adopt from Uganda and then we were bitten by the China bug. After doing our initial paperwork with Lifeline and looking at our options we are now fully pursuing Uganda (the China bug isn't necessarily gone though!).

Needless to say, I am overwhelmed...this is not a bad thing! It's just that this process is truly a marathon and not a sprint and yet when I really stop to think about having a beautiful little Ugandan baby in our home I get so excited that it overwhelms me!

I just wanted to get this post going and do plan on maintaining this as our adoption blog. It only seems appropriate since this is a blog about my life and our marriage, my little Jack, and our future baby is my life!!

In the book of James God calls us to care for the widows and orphans. We believe that means many different things to many different people. To us what that means is providing a forever family for a child who otherwise wouldn't have one.

We hope you will walk with us through this process and keep us in your thoughts and prayers. We know this is a long and arduous process but the result is a joy that few people get to know!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

this is about the best a working mom can do

yeah, i realize there are working moms out there that do it all...the laundry, the dishes, toilets and windows, 2am feedings, pack their lunch and their husbands, and so on and so forth...i just haven't met many of them. wait, is that maybe because we think everyone else has it together but don't give ourselves enough credit for everything we do? hmm...

last time i posted i was 21 weeks pregnant. now i have a 21 week old. what in the world!?!? yes, it's true, my son, Jack Windsor was born on April 28th. that whole experience is something i have documented but i'm pretty sure i'm keeping that just for us and not for the whole world to read. at least not yet. i did have a c-section because i had a baby that was over 10 lbs...now he's 23lbs. he was also 22 1/4 inches long at birth...now he's 29. i can't believe my 5 month old is ginormous! hah! i'm still reeling with the fact that i have a baby.

so about working motherhood. here's what's up. i work because i support my family. my husband is an amazing man and we decided he would go to grad school full time while i had a great job. we also didn't expect to get pregnant so quickly so truly i thought he'd be finished with school by the time Jack was born...didn't happen. regardless (or irregardless and we would joke at home), i would still have to work because my husband wants to be a teacher. i'm very supportive of this but it doesn't change the fact that i'd rather be at home with my son. because i had a c-section i was given 8 weeks short term disability. i took an additional 4 as was allowed by law. either way, going back to work with a 12 week old was still one of the most difficult things i've ever done. since my husband is teaching, that still gave us an additional 6 weeks where Jack could be at home with the hubs. in the meantime not only was it time for me to go back to work full time but it was time for me to start traveling again. i have a great job and in the past it's been great to have the option for travel...not as appealing these days. when my son was 14 weeks old i left to fly (literally) halfway around the world for a work trip to korea. thankfully the hunger games kept my mind occupied and skype kept us in touch. still ripped my heart out. one week after returning home i turned around and flew to italy for a week (don't be jealous, it was heart wrenching). now i'm home for a few more weeks until i leave for another week. i can't help but think that by Christmas i will have missed 4 whole weeks of Jack's life.

the point of all this is that i have an amazing job, an amazing husband, an amazing son, and an amazing support system (not necessarily in that order). but no matter what, it still hurts my heart to leave him. i know he is getting everything he needs when i am gone but it's still not me. i'm realizing this is much more difficult for me than my 5 month old who doesn't really know anything is out of sorts. well, it may be more difficult for my husband who has to play single dad for a week while also working and holding down the fort at home. i caught a good one!!

all i'm really trying to say is what i told my friend lisa, many kids of lesser households go through much worse situations that being left at a sitter or day care or family members home during the day while their moms are at work. kids are resilient. and if we can get passed ourselves and our own insecurities and inadequacies, maybe we can teach our kids that we do what we do because we love them and we want the best for them. and we make these choices for those reasons. AND maybe we ourselves need to realize that no one has it all together. if they look like they do then they're faking. no one's house is perfectly clean (except my friend Rachel's), and has the perfect kid(s) (except my sister Sita), and has everything going for them at work, and so on and so forth...NO ONE! so stop beating yourself up for thinking you're lacking and just love your kids!