February 29, 2012

Yes, I know it's Lent. No, I will NOT give up Facebook

So, it's Lent.  I love the season of Lent.  I love remembering sacrifice, the lead-up to the crucifixion, the Easter story and all that comes along with it.  In the past, I've given up fast food.  And cussing.  And diet Pepsi.  This year it seems like every one I know is ridding themselves of Facebook. I'm here to say that I will NOT give up Facebook.  Or twitter.  Or blogging.  Or Pinterest. Or any other of those great ways we find connection with others..

Now- hear me on this one.  If you gave up one of those things, then good for you.  I am not slamming your decision.  But for me, it's not the right choice. 

I had this conversation the other day with my mom about how many hours a day my grandmother spends on the phone.  Y'all, it would be an insane amount of hours if someone actually added it up.  My mom and I were trying to figure out how a person can physically talk on the phone for that many  hours and we essentially decided that we spend equally as many hours on various social media outlets as my Granny does on the phone.   Maybe it's generational.  Maybe older people who aren't raising kids and running around as much have more time to talk on the phone.

If you go back to every sitcom about women in the 60's and 70's there is this image that we conjure up of women in their cute little dresses, running around the kitchen actually tethered to the wall by a phone cord. (My kids totally do NOT understand this concept of needing to be connected to the wall to talk on the phone.  Gone are the days of hiding in the closet to talk to your boyfriend with a cord poking out from under the door giving away your location.) And gone are the days when we have hours of time to chat on the phone with everyone we want to keep up with. I find now that people are more busy than ever.  If I call one of my mom friends, the conversation usually goes like this:

Her: What's going on with you guys?
Me:  Same old stuff.  Miles!  Stop licking my leg!
Her:  Ethan, get off the top of the refrigerator.  Oh my God!  Ethan's trying to jump off the top of the fridge. ETHAN!  I'll call you back!

Days later, we finally connect again...
Me:  How did your doctor's appointment go?
Her:  It went great.  All the test results came back normal, I go back...
Me:  MILES!  Do not push your brother down the steps!  Sorry, you were saying?
Her:  Oh, just that I go back in two weeks to see if I need...
Me:  Holy crap! Noah's bleeding all over the place.  Call you back...

And so it goes and so it goes.  But with Facebook, and email, and twitter and all of those other things?  Well, I can keep up with my friends in snippets when it's convenient for me.  And the same goes for my friends.  We can oooh and aaaah over each other's family photos at 3 am if we want to.  Now, it's no substitute for a cup of coffee with your bestie or an uninterrupted phone conversation, but sometimes as busy people, it's the best we can do.

As people we need connection.  I can remember in the days before Facebook, being a stay at home mom and feeling so isolated.  I felt like I was an island.  I felt like I was the only mom in the world who might not love being home all day with a child. My friends weren't home during the day for me to call and shoot the breeze with and I didn't think they'd appreciate me calling them at work just because I needed some adult conversation.  Then in came Facebook and blogs and people were able to connect in ways that we never had before.  When my second kid came along and I was still feeling like an island, I can remember reading a blog about post partum depression and finally feeling some one else felt like I did.  I remember seeing someone update their status about how they cried all day when they registered their kid for kindergarten and there was comfort in the fact that someone else out there had the same thoughts and feelings as me.  I remembered posting a picture of Miles on the day that he become a US citizen and how nearly 100 people commented their congratulations and well wishes for us and I felt so loved and cared for.  Connection.  It's huge.

I can't do without that connection.  Do I waste a lot of time on the Internet?  Yup.  Do I see how it is not always a good thing?  Yup.  But do I see how it sometimes fills the void when our friend aren't available for a cup of joe or when my kids are being too nutso for me to get through a phone conversation. You bet. I need community.

So I understand why Facebook and it's time sucking ways are something that could be a distraction and overly consuming and thus worthy of giving up for Lent.  But as for me?  I'm choosing connection. There's a whole conversation amongst awesome adults and I LIKE being a part of it and I REFUSE to feel guilty about that!  And this, dear friends, is why you will NEVER ever find me giving up Facebook.


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Checking In- Weeks 4 and 5

Ummmm, don't tell the Nutrisystem people, but I forgot to blog about the plan last week!  :-)  I'm a little bit unsure of why I forgot to blog about it because I hit a HUGE milestone! 

Drum roll, please... last week, I hit 10 pounds lost.  I've done diets where I lost 10 pounds in 10 days, only to gain it back 10 days later.  I am super pleased at the rate that this is coming off- nice and steady.   My body finally feels like it has more energy.  In addition to that, I did my monthly measurements and, are you ready for this?  I lost 13.6 inches of fluff off of my body.  13.6 inches- including 3 inches off of my hips. 

This week, I kind of fell off the wagon.  My new order of food didn't arrive before I went out of town.  I tried my best to mimic my Nutrisystem food and portion sizes.  And for the most part, I did a pretty good job of it.  However, I replaced my daily water intake with nothing but coffee and chocolate martinis.  And I may have had a big greasy hamburger the size of my head and a *few* other treats along the way.  As a result, I am totally even for this week.  I'm okay with it.  I had a few splurges, went on a four day vacation, and still managed to hang on as best as I could.  Life happens and I refuse to feel guilt about it.  I'm just recommitted to doing better this week and determined to nurture my love affair with fruits, almonds, and my Nutrisystem protein shakes.  I've said it before, but those shakes rock my world. 

I'll tell you, though, I'm not one of those people who determines my self worth by my weight.  My purpose in life is the same whether I'm a skinny mini or a little plump.  But losing a few pounds has really done a lot for my confidence.  I bought a new pair of jeans, and I totally worked 'em.  I even wore leggings for the first time ever.

How's that for confidence?  Wearing leggings and posting a picture?  Word.
I feel like I'm beginning to emerge from the unhealthy fog I wandered around in for almost a year.  Defogging is GOOD!

Several of you all have emailed me and told me that you joined Nutrisystem in the last couple of weeks.  I'm so pumped to have others walking this journey with me!  Today is the last day to get in on the 40% off sale. (which makes it cheaper than buying groceries)  If you sign up through a friend's recommendation, you get an additional $30 off your first month.  So if you want huge savings follow this link.  If for some reason your additional $30 off doesn't show up, shoot me an email (meganterry01 at aol.com) and I'll send you an email referral to make sure you get all of your discounts.  I wouldn't recommend it if I didn't love it :-)

Disclaimer: As compensation for sharing my journey with Nutrisystem, I am provided all meals and support services free of charge. However, all opinions about the program are entirely my own.

February 27, 2012

Happenings

Yowza.  Life has been just packed to the gills in our little world lately.  Here's a little pictorial guide to what we've been up to:
Painter's tape: like Disney land, only not.
We finished all of our 5 billion home repairs, painted the entire house and officially put our house on the market.    We painted so much, that my hand was in a permanent claw.  I'd like to say that it was the fumes from the paint that drove me to a state of mental insanity and grouchiness, but the truth is that the mister and I do NOT do home repairs well together, and I'm pretty sure that is the reason why I went into total biotch mode for weeks on end.  I'm convinced that painting in confined spaces while you repeatedly scream at the children to not touch the walls, will potentially put even the happiest of couples on the fast track to divorce.  Thankfully, the chaos is over and now we wait for the perfect little family to come and snatch up our house.

While we are waiting, we put in an offer on our dream home.  This home, ahhh, this home.  It would have been pure perfection for our growing family.  There was room to roam.  Woods to play in.  Giant trees that would have been a great foundation for the bomb diggity tree house.  And horses- lots and lots of horses right next door.  Our kids may have even nicknamed the neighbor's horses.


But alas, even though this home has been sitting vacant for well over a year, the owner's weren't willing to even entertain our offer. (Literally, we got the rejection within 3 minutes of making our formal offer!) So we are back at square one.  We live in an area of the country that hasn't been hit quite as hard by the housing crisis so there are very few homes actually for sale around here.  This was the only one on the market that had enough bedrooms and a little bit of land that is in our same city.  We LOVE our city and wouldn't even consider leaving it.  Thus, we are beginning to contemplate building a house.  But for all of the previously mentioned issues concerning how we do home projects together, the whole idea of building a house makes me want to vomit.  But I'm considering it.  I'm also considering that this kind of endeavor can not under any circumstances happen unless I convince my doctor to double my anti-depressants just as a preventative!

In lighter news, Miles tried a jalapeno pepper. He was not impressed.

We are church shopping.  Actually, we have been church shopping for almost a year.  People, church shopping is not the epitome of fun, but you'd never know it by looking at these cuties on the way to trying a new church last week.

They were super pumped.  I got a wee bit super pumped when I walked into the church and saw this rockin' adoption wall that shows where all the adopted children in the church are from.

How cool is that?  AND it was right out in the front of the church- not buried in some remote hallway with the rest of the mission "stuff" like most churches.  Finding a church whose mission is missions is crucial for me.  I want to go somewhere where missions are the focus of everything the church does and stands for, not one where missions is a "committee" that you can't even get people to join.  We may have just found that.  It didn't hurt that Miles and Noah's class looked like a mini United Nations delegation either.  We do love us some diversity.  And when it's mixed with a firm foundation in the Bible and missions- look out!  Perhaps we have found "the one" and we can stop church shopping and make a commitment.  

And speaking of shopping, Sadie and I had a little girl's night out.  You know how you can just tell when one of your kids needs a little one of one special time?  Sadie was at that point.  So we loaded up and went shopping and stayed out late on a school night.  It was just what she needed.

Being wild and crazy women in the Target dressing room.

While we were out, I saw this frame...

Now, it's becoming more and more common to see this kind of stock photo in a frame that says "friends" on it, but to see two cute little girls, one blond and one brown that says "sisters" on it?  Well, that just made me so stinkin' happy that I had to give Green Tree Gallery a public shout out for showing a transracial family in this frame!  Times, they are a changing! ('bout time, right?!)


Noah's preschool class took a field trip to the public library.  He was very excited about it (not sure why because we go there frequently anyway) and he asked me to take his picture in front of the library to document the momentous occasion.  That boy is just so much fun by himself (and in groups, but especially one on one).  I could just squeeze him to death.  The new season of Amazing Race has started (our family's Sunday night tradition) and Noah climbed up on my lap while we were watching and whispered, "I love you the best. Daddy already knows."  Can I just keep him this age forever?  Before you feel sorry for my husband, Sadie is totally daddy's girl.  She regularly tells me the Daddy is her favorite.  Gotta love honesty, right?

I taught Sadie how to make a "cootie catcher".  Do you remember these?  
Please ignore that creepy expression.  Sheesh!

She has become mildly obsessed with it and is constantly asking me to "pick a number" and then she tells me my "fortune" under the numbered flap that she lifts.  She especially loves it when I choose "you will have a really gross boyfriend". (Because when you are 8, that seems like a fate worse than death!) 
Miles is having another surgery tomorrow.  I swear, it feels like having surgeries is our number one hobby around here.  He's having new ear tubes put in (his other ones only lasted 6 months) and they are also removing his adenoids to see if it will help him sleep better and keep things draining back there like it should. His hearing is so bad that if this doesn't work, we are going to have to consider some other alternatives.  Say an extra prayer for him tomorrow if you don't mind.  Doctor visits are always tough on him.  Hopefully he'll breeze right through it and keep a big smile on his face.

Operation fostercare/adoption is still rolling right along.  We have our first home visit with our social worker this week and only 4 more weeks of classes.  Once our classes are finished (end of March) it will take a few months to get approved by the state and then after that, we will be able to take a placement.  We are still going back and forth between opening our home to foster children and adopting if one of our foster kids becomes available for adoption or choosing a child who has already had their parental rights terminated. (www.adoptuskids.org)  It's a tough decision.  On one hand, if we foster first, we can make sure that we are a good fit for the child's needs and make sure they are a good fit with our family.  On the other hand, I'm not sure if Miles' fragile attachment is prepared to see kids maybe come and go out of our home.  If only these gigantic, life changing decisions could be easy!

I think that about wraps it up for the happenings in our home!  Happy Monday!

February 25, 2012

Where Did You Go?

In the last few days, my inbox is full of emails asking if my kids are okay. This morning my dad called to ask me if I was depressed or if I'd jumped off of a cliff or something. I think it's sweet than when I take a few days off of blogging, that you guys worry about me! I love how many people out there in blog land care about my kids. Don't worry. We are pure awesome sauce. For a few days last week I was having some technical issues. When I'd click on to write a post, that little wheel that spins on the screen would not stop spinning and I was forced to take a break. And now I'm out of town at a blogging conference meeting incredible, inspiring people and learning so many cool things. My favorite part is answering "elevator" questions. You know, the obvious questions. "What do you blog about" is the "What's you major?" question of these kinds of conferences and I LOVE saying, "Well, I'm kind of a humor writer, but my real passion is making people care about orphans." That leads to some amazing conversations. It's also a time of renewal for me. I'm in an alternate universe where I've traded in my sweats for dresses and heels. I've worn makeup for three days in a row (a total miracle!) My spanx are becoming a second skin. I'm in a hotel room by myself and that means that I can watch whatever I want on TV at night and eat dinner nekkid in my bed if I want ( which I actually did and it was kinda liberating!) Anyway, no need to worry! We are all fine! I'll be back soon with lots of stories and a ton of pictures of the littles and pics of me hobnobbing with all of the famous peeps I've met in Nashville. Someone better pinch me or send me back to my mommy routine soon because I'm on the brink of being insanely spoiled. :)

February 19, 2012

Funny Man Miles

Several years ago, I read that when Jim Carrey was a kid he would spend hours in front of the mirror figuring out all of the ways that he could move his face.  Miles does this constantly.  If you give the kid a mirror, he will spend forevah cracking himself up with his rubber face.  He practices his facial moves for all of us a lot.  He remembers which moves get a laugh and puts those in his arsenal.  I'm fairly certain that this kid will be unhappy doing any job outside of the entertainment industry.  Let's just hope that his hours spent turning his face into rubber will pay off as big as Jim's!

* My favorite face comes at 23 seconds.  This move about makes me wet my pants every single time.  This kid kills me.


February 18, 2012

Faith Lessons

Originally Posted October 27, 2009- As I was thinking of a retro post to re-publish, this one jumped to the forefront of my mind this morning.  I've been slacking off on using my mission field in the way that I should.  Sometimes it takes a reminder of what child like faith feels like to reignite the fire in one's heart.   

I learn things from my kids all the time, but last night Sadie taught me a major lesson. My sweet, little, 5-year old daughter was chosen to be the star student this week in her kindergarten class. (I am proud as a peacock!) One of the privileges of the being the star student is that you get to bring in your favorite book and the teacher reads it to the whole class. Sadie has about a million favorite books, so I was curious to see what she would pick. Last night when it came time to pick her book, she chose one called The Parable of the Lily. It is a story about a little girl whose grandfather gives her a crate of dirt with a bulb in it as a gift. The girl is less than excited about a box of dirt and throws the bulb out in the yard out of frustration. She forgets all about it and on Easter morning she is shocked to find that the ugly old bulb has bloomed into a beautiful Easter lily. Each page has scriptures relating to the story and how Jesus transforms our lives into something beautiful.


Sadie goes to a public school and I just knew that taking this book was not going to fly. So I told her that she couldn't take it and would need to choose a different book. She asked why and I told her that I was afraid if her teacher read it to the class that her teacher might get in trouble. Sadie just didn't get it. How in the world would I explain to my innocent child that Christ just isn't allowed in schools? I searched for words. How can I explain something that just doesn't make sense to me either. Finally, I told her that her teacher couldn't read that book to the class because not everyone believed in Jesus. And do you know what my awesome daughter said? She said, "But mom, if they don't believe in Jesus, it's my job to tell them he's real!" She is absolutely right! That is our job! And there I was trying to sabotage her mission field. I was ashamed of myself. In the end, I let her take the book to school in addition to another of her favorites. We got to have a great talk about telling our friends about Jesus. "After all" she says, "If they don't believe in Jesus, who do they think made all the Earth?"

I am so proud of her! I love that she is uninhibited in her faith and rock solid in her beliefs. I could definitely stand to take a lesson from my daughter about what it means to go and tell the nations and to be unashamed of the gospel! Thanks Sadie for the reminder! Oh, how I love that girl!

February 17, 2012

These People Embarrass Me

It's true.  Sometimes my family embarrasses the crap out of me.  For instance...

Miles and I were strolling around Garden Ridge the other day.  It was just a mommy and Miles date and he was sitting in the cart talking a mile a minute.  He talked to every person that we passed.  His speech went something like this.  "HI!  I'm Miles.  I fwee yeeas owd.  I go school on da bus.  I a good boy on da bus."  Women go nuts over this and tell him constantly that he is the cutest thing that's ever lived and he eats it up every single time.  But then we turned to go down an aisle where a VERY large African American man and his wife were looking at some artwork.  Miles pointed at that man and shouted, "Wook mom!  It's a big gowilla! (gorilla!)"  I wanted to crawl in a hole.  All of our talks about race and how we are all different and all that jazz went right out the window.  The man was either deaf or he sensed my mortification and he didn't comment on my son calling him a gorilla.  As we wheeled our cart the other way, Miles began beating his chest and saying oooh oooh aaaah aaah as he pounded on himself.  God help this child reach adulthood.  No seriously- God help him.

It's a good thing he's so darn cute.
Later on the same day, I was driving both boys to the grocery store.  They always play this game called yellow jacket sting while we are in the car.  You simply yell out "Yellow Jacket Sting!" any time you see a yellow car and if you are the first one to spot it, you get a point.  This game drives me crazy because the boys are ultra competitive and fight over every single sighting.  We got into the store and Noah decided that he needed to concoct a game to pass the time in the supermarket.  All of a sudden he yells out, "OLD PEOPLE STING!"  Miles caught on quickly and before I knew it they were claiming every elderly person in the store one by one.  There was no stopping it.  Well, actually there was.  We ended up having to leave with only some carrots, a head of lettuce and toilet paper.  We will now be known around town as the family who yells at old people and large black men.  Shoot me now.

Sadie got her very first zit this week.  It was right smack in the middle of her cheek.  Her only comment about it?  "Mom, now people will really think we look alike."  Thanks, honey.  You are too kind.  Really.

And then there is my husband...  My husband's home office sent him an email about his trimester bonus.  We had big plans for this bonus.  We paid off the last of Kamron's student loan (yahoo!) and knocked out the last of some of those lingering adoption costs.  That email that Kamron got had some sort of tax information about our bonus on it.  The taxes were ridiculous so Kamron wanted to forward me the email and go on a little rant about it.  Instead of forwarding, he hit reply instead and send his rant about the taxes back to the home office.  Now- that's not the bad part.  In addition to the rant he wrote, "How about a debt relief lunch celebration tomorrow where we make the calls and/or send in the payments together? I know that might be hokey, but I'm so excited about this I feel like we should celebrate."  So he essentially asked his home office lady on a date and asked her to make calls with him and celebrate getting out of debt.  She seemed very confused by the whole thing.  We were seriously embarrassed.

I can't wait until all these people are old enough for me to embarrass them.  It is going to be epic. Mwahaha.  

February 16, 2012

Week 3 Check-In

Do you know that popular weight loss show that's been on TV for a long time?  You know how week three is always a crummy week?  The contestants lose, like, 42 pounds week one, and 28 pounds week two and then 0.01 pounds on week three? 

Week three is hard, people!  I think that somewhere around week three you realize that the lifestyle changes that you are making are not yet a habit, but that you've also lost some of the zeal that you had starting out. Rock, meet hard place.  This is exactly what happened to me on my third week of Nutrisystem

I realized that when I placed my Nutrisystem order for an entire month, that I did not order enough variety.  After all, when I was filling out those little order forms, I thought... DUDE!  I love spinach ravioli.  Sign me up for 15 of those for a month!  And then the reality hit of eating said spinach ravioli every other night.  Not good planning on my part, even though the spinach ravioli rocks.  So, I placed my second month order yesterday with a whole lot more variety.  Live and learn!

I had some slip ups this week as well.  Miles chose to celebrate his adoption day at a fast food restaurant with an indoor playground.  I ate a greasy chicken sandwich and fries.  (They were delicious, by the way.)  Surprisingly, I had no guilt doing it, which is new for me when I'm trying to make dietary changes.  I enjoyed the meal and the togetherness of my family and then jumped right back on the Nutrisystem bandwagon in the morning.  That's the major positive or having the food already preordered and waiting here for me. 

Some other positive lifestyle changes are happening.  I've just about lost my craving for sugar.  A month ago, I was eating chocolate cake for breakfast and that just lent itself to craving and eating more sugar all day  long.  I've never been a protein in the morning kind of girl, but these protein shakes in the morning are really  helping to curb my appetite and keep me full (and not wanting sugar all the time!)  And those Diet sodas that I've been addicted to for years?  No, I haven't kicked them, BUT I'm down to two a day and actually getting in 8 glasses of water a day.

I've found that clementine oranges and almonds are some of my new bff's.  They have become my go to foods when I need a little something extra to jazz up the day.  That zeal that I lost this week is slowly returning.  Part of that is due to the fact that the Nutrisystem peeps are so awesome that they are letting my hubs start the program next week with me.  Losing weight and getting healthy with a buddy is always so much easier and I'm really looking forward to do this with him.

So... here are the totals....
-1.2 pounds for the week
- 8.6 pounds since beginning Nutrisystem  three and a half weeks ago (20% of the way to my goal of losing 40 pounds!)

Nutrisystem is still doing their 40% off sale until the end of the month.  If you've ever though about doing it- NOW is the time!  I'd love to have you join me on this journey!

Disclaimer: As compensation for sharing my journey with Nutrisystem, I am provided all meals and support services free of charge.  However, all opinions about the program are entirely my own.

February 14, 2012

2 Years Home! (Adoption Story Book)

Two years ago today, this little one...


... was placed in my arms for the very first time...


It's hard to believe that it's already been two years, and in other ways, it feels like Miles has always been here. This little man brings so much energy, joy, chaos, purpose, frustration, happiness, laughter, and love into our lives.  He is truly God's best little Valentine ever.

Adoption is something that we talk about constantly in our home.  We talk about the hard parts.  We talk about the beautiful parts.  Miles is just beginning to be old enough at age three to understand that he has a personal adoption story.   As a gift to him on his special day, I made him a book of his adoption story (in language that he can understand) that he can have forever and that we can read together.  As he grows, we'll add in more details, but for now, this is what he understands.  His story goes a little something like this:






















   



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It was a HUGE hit with him when we gave it to him this morning.  I have a feeling we will be reading this book a whole lot!


Miles, you are so loved.  You've come a long way baby!  Happy family day!
Love, Mommy


P.S.  In honor of Miles' special day, there is a giveaway going on over on the Millions of Miles Facebook page.  Get over there and win some gorgeous red paper beads from Uganda :-)

February 13, 2012

It Matters: Investing In People

This weekend I was a big grump.  We've been working on home repairs from sun up to sun down and my body was aching.  It felt like we would never be done.  I lost steam.  I lost respect for the blessing of the home that we currently live in.  I despised all the little tiny pieces of puzzles that my children have collected over the years.  I cursed all of the matchbox cars that seem to breed like rabbits. 

I crawled in bed and thanked God that I don't work like this physically with my body every day.  I can guarantee that it wouldn't hold up well.  My thoughts immediately flashed to my sponsored sister, Simone, in Congo.  I wonder how many hours a day she spends carrying back breaking loads of wood from the forest just to be able to start a fire to cook a meal.  I wonder how many times she has to walk miles and miles with a heavy jerry can or a bucket just to get enough water for her family to drink, much less to wash with and cook with.

Suddenly, complaining of my aching back and my to-do list felt so selfish.  I looked around me and realized that I'd just spend more on four gallons of paint, brushes and drop clothes, than most people in Congo (and all over impoverished countries) make in a year.

I thought of the last letter that I got from Simone.  She was so excited to be going to vocational training.  She's hoping to start her own business one day.  She'd been able to save enough money from odd jobs that she bought a goat.  She has two children and now she can give them milk every day.  In a letter that was completely devoid of any type of punctuation, there were two exclamation points after the sentence about how her children would have milk every day.  We are both moms, Simone and me.  We just want to do the best we can for our children.  My dreams for mine have been polluted by the world.  Her dreams for hers have been destroyed by poverty.  But now she's taking her life back with just a tiny bit of a hand up.  I'm so proud of her.  

I thought about those matchbox cars that I kicked around earlier and wondered what kind of person I'd be like if I had to worry about being able to feed my children every day.  Or if I didn't have milk to give my babies.  Or if the proudest accomplishment that I had in my life was the ownership of a goat.  Sometimes I try to sit and let this just soak in.  I think that in America we focus so much on all of the things that kids "need".  We make baby registries that are 25 pages long.  Our back to school shopping has it's own line in the budget.  We spend enough on books and educational apps to fund a small city it seems like on some days.  And while there is nothing wrong with those things, if we don't remember to recognize them for the blessings that they are and pay it forward when we can then we have missed out on how incredible it is to bless others.

As an adoptive parent who didn't study poverty and it's effects on populations until I already had my child home, I struggle to make sense of how children become orphans and my role in it.  Here we can't imagine taking our kid and turning them over to an institution because we can't fill their bellies.  But it's a reality that so many women all across the globe face.  They LOVE their children.  Let me say that again.  They LOVE their children.  And the children LOVE their parents.  They just can't be taken care of and it's heartbreaking to see what once was a family be broken up.  I know that there will always be orphans as a result of war, disease, etc.  But poverty?  Oh poverty.  It's just tricky. 

I know that we can keep children from becoming orphans by investing in their mothers.  I am so grateful to have my son.  But I look at the issues that he has had as a result of once being an orphan and I wish to God that some woman playing around on the Internet had thought to give his mother a hand up so that her life (and my son's life as a result) would have been different.

This is how we prevent children from becoming orphans: we invest in people.  I think that sponsorships are one of the very best ways to do this.  Take a mom who has a fierce love for her children and a good head on her shoulders and enable her to start her own business, or teach her a skill that her village values or get her the medical help she needs so that she can take care of her children and THAT woman will NEVER need to take her children to an orphanage and THOSE CHILDREN will NEVER become ORPHANS.

We have two sisters that we sponsor in Congo. One is near completion of her vocational program.  She was able to purchase a sewing machine and is running her own successful business.  She has taken care of her three grandchildren since their mother died.  Because of the sewing that she is now taking in, she is able to send one of those children to school.  That is HUGE!  Do you see how investing in a woman keeps spreading good mojo out through the masses?  That child that gets to go to school (and the other children as she makes more money) is gaining the skills that he needs to also lift himself up out of poverty.  (And all of those children are remaining with their families who love them and out of an orphanage.)  An orphanage is no place for a child to grow up. 

We decided about a year ago, to make this type of giving a priority in our home.   We sponsor our sisters through Women for Women International.  It is about $30/month to sponsor one woman for a year long vocational program.  I get it.  Thirty dollars can sometimes seem like a lot.  For our family, we use 100% of the ad revenues that this blog generates to sponsor our sisters.  We started out with one woman, and as this blog grew, we took on another sister.. and then a child (cute little John) that we are sending to school in Haiti through Heartline .   If we are fortunate enough to continue to grow, we'll take on more. So even if you can't make room in your budget for a sponsorship, just by visiting this blog and having your hit counted with our advertisers, you are helping us help our sisters.  (In some small way, that makes me feel like me airing all my dirty laundry on the Internet actually makes a difference!) My point is, sometimes you have to get creative to make the commitment come to fruition.   

But truly, if sponsorship isn't something you've ever considered, I urge you to step out on faith and make that commitment.  It is one of the very best ways that we can help to preserve families and make an impact, one child who never has to become an orphan at a time.  It's also great for our children.  They look forward to getting those letters that come in the mail from our sisters.  It opens up a whole line of conversation with our kids and shows them that there is a whole world beyond themselves.  They see our sisters' pictures every time they open the refrigerator.  We pray for them by name sometimes.  Creating tiny humanitarians ensures the next generation will still care about these things long after I'm not preaching it to them every day.

There is no end to the good things that can happen when you invest in people.  Just do it.  You will be so glad that you did.  Here are some of my favorite organizations that do sponsorships if you are looking for a place to plug into:

Women For Women International:   helping women survivors of war rebuild their lives and care for their families
Project Hopeful Hope+Sisterhood:  keeping HIV+ women healthy so they can parent their children              
Mercy House: pregnant women are taught sustainable life skills to help them be able to parent their children as well as have a safe delivery and medical care for their children
Harbour House: pregnant women are taught sustainable life skills to help them be able to parent their children as well as have a safe delivery and medical care for their children
Compassion International: child sponsorships to help children go to school, have adequate nutrition and provide them with a Christ centered upbringing

February 12, 2012

Sunday Snapshot

Miles' room is being painted, so last night we made him a little bed on the floor in Sadie and Noah's room.  When we tucked them in, the big kids were in their beds and Miles was curled up in his pile of blankets on the floor. 

When we went to check on them before we went to sleep, we found them like this:


All curled up together and resting so peacefully.  This was one of those moments that made me feel like I was actually doing something right as a parent.  For all the bickering and sibling rivalry that goes on around here, these children LOVE each other and want to be together.  It makes my heart just melt.

Brothers and sisters are as close as hands and feet. - Vietnamese Proverb

February 11, 2012

Explaining Plan A

originally posted on 4-17-2010

I can't even begin to imagine how hard going through infertility must be. It took me about six months to get pregnant with Noah. I watched all my friends get pregnant when their husbands so much as looked at them with sexy eyes. Those 6 months felt like an eternity. In the grand scheme of things, 6 months is nothing at all. I really can't fathom the emotions and the strain that years of infertility must cause. In the eyes of most people, adoption is still considered something you do when you can't get pregnant- it is your "Plan B". But more and more, that is not the case. I can't speak for how it is to go into an adoption from an infertility standpoint. I don't know how it feels so I won't even try to go there. I hate nothing more than for someone to try to talk about something they've never been through, especially when it is something as intensely personal as infertility and adoption.


More and more, adoption is becoming people's "Plan A". Meaning, as far as you know, you could conceive children but are choosing to adopt instead. We are plan A adopters. I think that in America this is still a really hard concept for people to understand. Some people just can't wrap their heads around why in the world you would want to parent "some one else's child" when you could have your "own".

So many people send me emails asking me how we explained to people about why we were adopting when we could have more biological children and what you do when people are less than supportive. Or what do you do when you want to adopt but your spouse is not on board. 100% of the people I have met who are plan A adopters have a really strong reason for wanting to adopt. It is not just something you decide to do one day. You don't just wake up, say, "Hey, I think I'll spend my life savings and adopt a baby today." Uh- uh. Not gonna happen. It is a thought out, and calculated move. So how in the world do you explain that to people? More specifically, how do you explain that to the people that you love, whose support and understanding is the most important?

Let's start at the beginning. I know that it is not this way for all people, but within my circle of adoption friends, the idea to adopt always started with the woman. I don't know why this is, maybe it is just the way we are wired. A lot of times, the woman felt so strongly about this, but just couldn't get her husband on board. This was the case in our house, too. Let me re-phrase that. Kamron did not rule out that we would adopt. He just made it very clear that my time table and his time table for pulling the trigger on the adoption were VERY different. When I decided that my heart was 100% behind wanting to adopt, I wanted to do it right then. I knew that my baby was out there and I wanted that baby right then. Waiting for "the right time" seemed ridiculous to me. Just like with biological children, there is never a "right time." There will always be something going on with work. There will never be enough money in your bank account. You can wait for x,y, and z to fall into place. But as soon as they do, there will always be another x,y, and z. Having children or adopting children is just one of those things you do, despite the timing. (In my very unscientific opinion)

It took almost one full year from the time I told my husband I was feeling called to adopt until we actually made the call and filed the first papers. That year was very hard for me. I'll be very honest here. I love my husband. He is the yin to my yang. We are the perfect compliment to one another. We are peas and carrots, yada, yada, yada. But the thought honestly crossed my mind, "If I have to divorce this guy in order to sign those papers as a single parent, I'll do it!" I felt that strongly about wanting to adopt. I am super ashamed to admit that, but it's true. I did not get how he wouldn't want to adopt right at the minute I wanted to. I though he must be a heartless, selfish jerk to be able to look at those pictures of those starving children in Congo and NOT want to bring one home immediately.

Ladies, (and my five male readers) let me tell you. I was mad. I was depressed. I was not a good wife. I made the strain in our house palpable. I did not want to wait. Finally, I just had to realize that for my husband the experience was very different. For him (and maybe for a lot of men) they plan out things differently. They think about the finances of it. It is a hefty price tag. They think of the practical issues: the space in the house, the need for a mini-van, the jump from however many kids you have or don't have to what you will have if you add another one. And they may even need to grieve a little bit for the child that they won't be passing their genetics onto. It is just a different ballgame for them. It doesn't mean that they are heartless. It doesn't mean that they don't care about the starving children. It doesn't mean you need to divorce! It's just different.

And now- having been through an adoption, I can see that you need both sides of that equation. It does absolutely suck, though, while you are going through it and your not on the same page. Sometimes I felt like we weren't even reading the same book. I am a feeling person. I feel personally responsible for each and every one of those orphans. I lay awake at night thinking of ways to bring more orphans home. I think with my heart. Which is not a bad thing. But the flip side of that is that in a situation as enormous as adoption, you need someone to be the one to think with their brain and say, "Okay, if this is going to happen, then how are we going to pay for it, and where is that baby going to sleep and how can we work a minivan into our budget?" You need someone to say, "It may take x number of months for us to be able to work this out and here are the steps we need to take to get there." As opposed to my child-like demand that we must do this NOW!

You have to remember- adoption is not the "norm". When you approach a spouse or partner with it, you have to consider that you may have just changed their vision of how a family is built, how a family looks and how they've maybe always thought of family. Just because adoption is on your radar, does not mean that it is on your loved one's radar. It takes time to change that vision and create a new vision together. And the timetable for every couple is different. Give it time. If you are the religious type, give it prayer. The way to handle this is not to get mad (like I did) and not think of ways to manipulate or strong arm your spouse (like I also did). In the end, the results in my house were the same, but I wish that I would have approached the situation more lovingly and more reasonably. You don't get a do-over in a marriage, so take the time and try to understand where your spouse is coming from if they are dragging their feet. Chances are, it's not because they are heartless. Talk about it. Explain your side, but be willing to accept that your spouses concerns/fears/expectations are valid. Understanding and working through that is essential to creating a home that is a loving environment for your child. In retrospect, I am okay that we waited a while. I know that my husband needed that time and that time helped him be an amazing father to Miles. I knew that it would work out, but he needed that extra time to make adoption his dream, too.

Just like it is not on every spouse's radar, adoption is not on the general public's radar. Don't be discouraged if your big adoption announcement gets more "Oh my God's" than "Yippee's!" People fear what they don't understand. If they haven't seen you struggle with infertility, the notion of adoption may seem like it came completely out of left field. Be able to explain your "why" to people. Be armed with information and answers. But also don't get too disappointed when people just don't get it. They need time to internalize it. Once again, you've changed their vision.

With lots of our family we started small. Once we decided to adopt and knew it was a for sure thing, we still took baby steps in announcing it. We especially took it slow with the oldest generations in our family, since we anticipated that the reaction would not be positive. We told them that adoption was something we were thinking about. We took their concerns to heart. Then a month or so later, we told them this was absolutely something that we were going to do and were prepared to address their concerns since we already knew what they were. Then about a month later, we told people that our son was going to come from Africa and that we were going to be a transracial family. Letting the news out in small increments like that seemed to work pretty well for us. That way we weren't shocking the hell out of anyone and we were able to give them small bits of information so they didn't have to internalize the whole thing all at once.

We didn't approach it that way with everyone. With our immediate family members we just flat-out told them and most of them were overjoyed. They still had lots of questions, but were overall really open to it once we explained why we wanted to adopt and about the need for adoptive parents. I get that it is not that way with everyone's family. People have told me that their parents and grandparents were adamantly opposed and even have gone so far as to say that they weren't sure they could love their adopted grandchildren as much as their biological grandchildren. I think a lot of times, just having the child home and with their family changes people's perspectives. Being able to hold those grandchildren may make them feel differently. Something about actually seeing the child is often enough to soften hearts. Not always. We do have some members of our family who still have yet to meet Miles for various reasons. And while it hurts, in the end, you just have to do what is right for your family. If you know in your heart that adoption is the right thing for your family, you have to follow that path and not worry about the people that you can't control. I think Dr. Seuss said it best when he said, "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."  Follow your bliss.

February 10, 2012

The Conversation That Got Away From Me

The following is a replay of a conversation I had in the car with my children last night.  Keep in mind that Sadie is 8 and Noah is 5 and they are in that stage where they are obsessed with body parts.  My unsaid thoughts are in italics:

Sadie:  Mom, when I adopt my kids when I'm a grown up, if they don't already have names, I'm going to name them ZaKiya, Nina and Amber.

Me:  Those are very nice names.  So you want to adopt 3 little girls?

Sadie:  Yes.  One will be from China, one from Congo, and the other one from the United States.

Me:  I think that sounds like a wonderful plan.

Sadie: And I want to stay at home and take care of my kids like you do.

Me:  Well, I think that you will be a very good mommy one day.

Sadie:  But I am NOT getting married.  I'm just going to have someone that I keep around to help me with money.  (Oh dear God.  My baby wants a sugar daddy.)

Me:  Hmmm... well, maybe if you don't want to get married, and you have three children, maybe you should think about getting a job so that you can make your own money.

Sadie:  Oh.  Okay.  I guess I'll get a job writing a blog.  (Oh, baby.  That does NOT pay the mortgage!)  I'm just NOT getting married.  NO WAY!

Me:  You don't have to get married if you don't want to!  But why don't you want to get married one day?

Sadie:  Because then I would have to look at my husband's wiener. (Oh snap.  Shoot me now. At least all she thinks you have to do with it is look at it.)

Noah:  (dies in a fit of laughter)  Sadie said wiener!  Who do you think has the biggest wiener? 

Me:  Noah! (do boys ever stop thinking about this?)

Noah:  I mean wiener dog!  Who do you think has the biggest wiener dog?!?!

Sadie:  See mom?  That's why I don't want to get married!

Noah:  Mom?  Dad says that we can't say butt hole. 

Me:  He did?

Noah:  Yeah.  I said, 'fill the butthole' and dad said we couldn't say that.  (Oh Lord, will we ever get home? What does he think you are supposed to fill it with? Where do they come up with this stuff. Do not laugh. Do not laugh. Do not laugh.)

Me:  Dad is right.  That is very rude to say to someone.

Noah:  What about gas hole.  Can I say gas hole? 

Me:  It's kind of the same thing.  Maybe we shouldn't say that one either, okay?

Noah:  What about gasolinie.

Me:  I guess gasolinie is okay. 

Sadie:  (laughing)  Fill the gasolinie. Fill the gasolinie! 

Noah:  Fill the gasolinie.  Fill the gasolinie!

And we all erupt in hysterical laughter.  And this, dear friends, is how a conversation about adoption can snowball right out of control...

The Peanut Gallery

February 09, 2012

Mama Needs A Nap

Sleep.  I love it.  (Who doesn't?!)  However, when I became a mom and had to start sleeping with one eye and one ear open, I began to love good sleep even more.  It is treasured like a precious commodity, but it only comes around rarely.

First of all, I find that there is always work that needs to be done when the kids are in bed- laundry to wash, emails to respond to,  a husband that need attention, and sometimes I just want to sit and veg in front of the TV, blah, blah, blah.  It's often midnight when I get to sleep.  I find that as long as I can get 6.5 hours of sleep in a night, I feel pretty awesome.  Any less than that, and I am a zombie.

Today is one of those zombie days because my 6.5 hours was interrupted at least 6 times that I can remember.  That's kind of a frequent occurrence 'round these parts.  Here's what the night looked like...

The hubs had a gig with his band last night so I was on my own.  I LOVE having the whole bed to myself but HATE being the only responsible adult in the house.  After all, who would protect me if I accidentally let my leg hang off the bed and someone hiding under the bed shot it off?  I always try to calm my fears when he's not home at night by watching TV until I fall asleep.  It was around 11:30 when I nodded off to reruns of Friends.  Then...

Interruption #1...  12:45 am.  I hear a loud noise in the kitchen.  I wake up in a panic.  After I come to my senses, I realize that the sound is a chair being scooted across the kitchen floor.  Robbers don't scoot chairs (I think) so I got our of bed to find Miles trying to rig a ladder up to the kitchen cabinet.  He's mean in the night so he says a curt, "Give me something to eat!"  without adding so much as a please or an 'I'm sorry for waking you from your slumber dear mother'.  I told him it wasn't time to eat and took him upstairs and tucked him back in his bed.  When Miles begins the night with these kind of wanderings, he does it multiple times, so I got a blanket and camped on the couch so that I could intercept him the next time he got a hankering to go night exploring.

Interruption #2... somewhere around 1:30 am...  Husband begins wheeling his amp and clanging around his guitars in the basement.  Oh the joy.  My mind briefly considers divorce and then I rule it out because that would just mean every night by myself and that wouldn't solve a thing.  I also consider burning down every music venue in the region so there would be no gigs.  I decide that this may be something that I could pursue because I imagine jail as being some kind of stripped down vacation where I only wipe my own butt and don't have to cut up any one else's meat.  I chalk this up as one of the greatest middle of the night ideas that I've ever had.

Interruption #3... somewhere around 3:45... Noah begins coughing his head off and I get up to take him a glass of water.  I look over at Sadie sleeping in the other bed in their room and consider giving her lessons to sleep like a lady.  She is spread eagle, no blankets, hair like Medusa, mouth open, snoring like a 500 pound man.  She's going to make a wonderful sleeping partner for some deserving mate one day.  Not.  I return to the couch and notice that somewhere of in the distance beyond the front door it sounds like some stray cats are having wild sex.  *sigh* 

Interruption #4... somewhere around 4:30 am... The night wanderer returns.  I hear his door open.  I hear him stand at the top of the steps for a long time.  I say, "Miles, it's not time to wake up for school yet.  Go get back in your bed and go to sleep."  He shuffles down a few steps.  "What?" he says.  I repeat the whole line.  He shuffles down a few more steps.  "What you say, mommy?"  I repeat the whole line a little louder.  He shuffles down a few more steps.  "What?"  OM freaking G.  I throw off my blanket and stomp over to the steps.  "I SAID GO BACK TO SLEEP!"  He just stands there acting like he has no idea what I'm talking about.  I scoop him up and put him back to bed.  Again.  A string of profanity runs like a chorus through my mind.

Interruption  #5... somewhere around 5:45 am... I shoot up off the couch after a bad dream.  I dreamed that our giant 90 pound dog busted through the basement door and jumped on top of me while I was sleeping on the couch.  I tried to push her off and she grabbed my pants in her mouth and tried to pull them off.  Since dogs can't woo women by ripping their pants off, I assumed she was trying to tell me something, so I got up and she dragged me down the basement stairs to the garage.  And there, right outside the garage was Miles, behind the wheel of my husband's car.  The car was started and rolling backward toward a cliff that doesn't really exist in our backyard.  I woke up just as the car was about to roll over the cliff.  Yep- can you tell that Miles' night wandering scares the crap out of me and haunts me in my sleep?  Not to mention that the boy is TIRED!  I'm hoping that the next million dollar idea that comes to me in the night is a design for a cozy, industrial strength velcro suit that keeps kids securely attached to the bed for a full 8 hours.  I'll bet those would sell like hotcakes.

Interruption #6... somewhere around 6:35... otherwise known as 10  minutes before the alarm goes off...  Miles wanders down the steps again and declares that it is time for school.  More profanity floods my brain.  I turn on the TV for him and decide that I'll just get up and make the lunches for school.

If you pass me on the street today, you may not recognize me.  I look something like this:



I am totally ordering a shirt that says this and wearing it every single day for the rest of my life.

My favorite part of these occurances is that usually the next day, I will mention it to my husband and his response is always, "Really?  I had no idea it was such a rough night for you.  I didn't hear any of it!"  My first question to God when I get to heaven will be, "God?  Why didn't you make men without the ability to have selective hearing?"  Can I get an amen, ladies? 

I am going to a blogging conference in about 2 weeks.  ALL.  ALONE.  Can you guess what part of the trip I'm most looking forward to?  Oh yeah.. hotel room all to myself... I may skip the conference entirely and just sleep the whole weekend!  Now that sounds like a winning plan to me.   

February 07, 2012

Productivity

I feel like this morning is the first morning that I've sat down long enough to put a thought together in days.  I briefly mentioned last week that hubs and I are trying to get our house ready to put on the market.  With another kiddo on the way, we are sooooo maxed out on space around here.  The kids are already pretty much sleeping on top of each other as it is and I can only imagine how putting another one in the mix is going to add to that chaos.  Part of me is a little bit sad.  After all, this is the only house our boys have ever known.  Their heights are marked up the door frame in the kitchen, their artwork is all over the walls (literally, ON the walls), and we are only 1/2 mile from two of their schools.

But alas, sometimes in life, it's just time to move on.  We need something that can accommodate our growing brood a bit better.  So, we are clearing out.  In fact, I've been an organizing machine this week.  I've heard that you never know just how much stuff you really have until you try to move. Dude.  This is an understatement.  I have saved every single article of clothing that ever touched my children's bodies throughout their entire lives.  No lie.  Over eight years and three kids worth of clothes and outgrown shoes were beckoning to be gotten rid of. (It was like a bad episode of Hoarders)   I spent hours and hours going through every single teeny tiny outfit and sorting them into sizes.  Thankfully, it only made my womb ache once or twice.  We bagged it all up and took it to my sweet friend, Melinda, who works at one of the local school resource offices.  She's going to dole it all out to local families that need them.  Love that woman.  Here is what 8 years worth of clothes looks like:


Hubby and I did not stop moving for about 3 days.  We've just about got our basement and garage cleared out.  It was two truckloads of stuff to our friends who are getting ready to have and adoption yard sale, two truckloads of other stuff to Goodwill, two truckloads to storage and the van load of clothes that went to the resource center.  Y'all- we are whipped.

Yesterday, I moved on to cleaning out and organizing the closets and cabinets.  This is something that I NEVER do.  I think it makes my mother cringe when she comes over here and opens the closets.  I'm so darn proud of myself, that I'm posting a pic of my hallway closet.  Before I started on it, if you opened it, junk would fall out of it.  I remember seeing a cartoon when I was little where things were always falling out of the closet.  I tried to google it and only got suggestions for coming out of the closet to tell people that you are gay.  Such is life.  I wish that I'd taken a before picture, but the after...

Ahhhh!  Cue the angels.  A miracle has occurred.

We found some really cool things hidden away in the basement.  Lots of old pictures.  Old love letters from exes. (What are you supposed to do with those?)  I found my old prom queen tiara and Kamron's old football jersey.  I suggested a few things we could do with those.  He blushed and then vetoed me in record time. Silly boy.

This may have been my favorite thing of all that we found:

This is Old Blue.  He was my sleeping companion from birth until my husband became my sleeping companion.  When we got married, Kamron kicked Old Blue out of the bed.  I think "it's creepy" may have been the words that he used.  Anyway- it was nice to see Old Blue again. I think when we get settled in a new place, I'll try to take the time to restore him to his former glory.  I think he will require extensive surgey- after all, he is half decapitated and blind.  Poor little fellow.  He was nearly loved to death.  Not a bad way to go, though, eh?

I'm off to go and tackled the coat closet and prep the kid's bedrooms for a coat of fresh paint.  There are not enough magic erasers in the world to account for Miles' desire to draw on everything.  I'm making a rule now: there will be NO writing utensils allowed in my new house period.  The children are only allowed to draw in the air with their fingers.  I just passed that through the senate and the house and it is now a law in the Terry household.  Boom. 


Week Two Check In

I've just completed my second week of Nutrisystem.  My body is starting to thank me for finally taking care of it.  I've had more energy, I've gotten better sleep at night, and I just don't feel as sluggish.  My big lady jeans do still, however, roll down at the waist sometimes due to pressure from my muffin top.  That is my next mini-goal that I hope to hit (no more waist rolling on the jeans).

I'm finding the plan so easy to follow.  I've found that with other diets/plans that I've done, all I do is think about food.  As soon as I wake up, I'm mapping out what I can have, how much I can have, and when can I eat it.  This is the first plan that I'm not doing that with.  When it's a meal time, I just go grab some of my food, eat it, and go on with my day.  Gone are the days of trying to figure out if I can eat nothing but green beans the rest of the day, if I eat a blizzard for breakfast.  I actually feel like what I'm eating now is balanced, which is HUGE for me!

The other thing that all my friends have asked me about is how the food tastes.  With the exception of a couple of dishes, I would say it's awesome!  Last week, I raved about how yummy the protein shakes are.  This week I'm raving about the pizzas.  They are so yummy!  I've been throwing a frozen pepper/onion mix on top of my pizzas to get in an extra serving of veggies.  In fact, I love the Nutrisystem pizza so much, I think I ate it 3 nights last week.  Oh, and the desserts?  Dessert every single night, people!  You can't beat that with a stick!  It keeps me from never feeling deprived.  Let's face it- if you feel deprived, it's never going to work!  And by golly!  This one is working for me!

This weeks total weight loss is....
 -2.2 pounds
for a total of -7.4 pounds in two weeks! 

I'm trying to settle in for week three.  I always think that week three is the hardest week of making changes stick- especially to one's diet and exercise regime.  Somewhere around week three, I always lose steam.  This time, though?  This time I'm going to rock it!  :-)

If you want to join me on this journey to health, Nutrisystem is now offering 40% off their 28 day auto-delivery plans (what I'm on) in honor of their 40th anniversary.  Now would be an awesome time to give it a try!

Disclaimer: As compensation for sharing my journey with Nutrisystem, I am provided all meals and support services free of charge.  However, all opinions about the program are entirely my own. 

February 04, 2012

Supporting Adoptive Families

originally posted on August 20, 2010

Having been through both the adoption experience and the child birth experience, I found that all kinds of people know how to take care of you after you give birth, but hardly anyone knows the right things to do when you bring home your adopted child. Most people also don't know how to respond appropriately when you tell them that you are adopting in the first place. This is meant to be a guide for the friends and families of adoptive families in the praying/planning/dreaming phase as well as families in process and newly home. Link it up, cut and paste, email it out to your family. I will say all the things to your family that you are afraid to say or maybe that you yourself don't even know that you need yet! (I don't mind being the heavy!)


 
1. When your loved one comes to you with the news that they are planning to adopt:


•Do not say, "Oh, don't give up trying for 'your own'" or "Don't you want to have one of 'your own' instead? Adoption is not something people enter into lightly. And prospective adoptive families already do consider this child that they do not even know as 'their own'. By saying this to an adoptive family, it insinuates that you will not be accepting their new addition as your 'own' grandchild/neice/nephew/etc. Also- many families that consider adoption have been through long periods of time dealing with infertility and adoption may be a very emotional decision. It signifies the end of one dream and the beginning of a new dream. Supporters need to be very sensitive to this and be positive!

•Share your concerns about the finances of adoption, but do it in a non-judgemental way. Yes, adoption is expensive. But you need to understand that there are grants, fundraisers, and ways to aquire the money. So instead of looking at the people who want to adopt and saying, "Oh my gosh- you are so poor, you will never be able to afford this!" say something like, "I know that this will be expensive, how can we help you plan a fundraiser?"

•Do not recall in gory detail every terrible adoption story you've ever heard. This is the equivalent of telling a pregnant woman that her baby will be born with 12 arms and she will be in labor for 3 weeks and her boobs will fall all the way down to the ground after breastfeeding. Just don't do it.

•If the family is adopting internationally, do not condescendingly talk about how there are so many kids here in America who need home. Each person needs to do what feels right for their family. Sometimes that means adopting domestically, and sometimes that means going international. Either way, a child who needs a home and a family will get one. Focus on that fact and leave your personal opinions about which you think is best to yourself. Remember- they are BOTH awesome (and BOTH necessary!)

2. Once families are in process:


•Check in with the adoptive family's (from here on out called A.F.) emotions! Adoption can be a very emotional process. There are days where you are in the dumps and days when you want to celebrate. Give the A.F. the space to talk about their feelings and their frustrations. When they call super excited and say, "I got my I-171h", pretend like you know what they are talking about and jump up and down and throw a party.

• Throw a baby shower just as if the A.F. was pregnant. Make a big stinkin' deal over the mom to be. Obviously, don't play the how big is your belly game. But do everything else the same!

•Support A.F. fundraisers. They need your help! Better yet- host a fundraising dinner, pancake breakfast, auction, raffle, etc. to help the family raise the money to bring their child home.

•If there are other children already in the A.F. offer to babysit them leading up to traveling so that mom and dad get a few last dates in before the new addition.

•If the adoption is international, educate yourself about the child's birth country.

•If the adopted child will be of a different race, educate yourself about transracial families by reading articles, books, etc. Just googling transracial families will bring up a wealth of information. Also (and no one should do this anyway!) do NOT make derogatory comments about the child's race, birth country, or culture.

•Offer to keep siblings, pets and housesit for the A.F. when they are traveling.

3. Once families are home:

•All the same rules apply as when you bring a baby home from the hospital. Bring food, offer to coordinate meals and food dropoffs for church groups. Come over and clean. Wash clothes and put away laundry. Wash dishes. Do not believe the A.F. when they say they do not need help. THEY DO!

•Respect the A.F's rules regarding holding their new addition. Many families may wish to not have any outsiders (this includes Grandma!) holding their child so that this child who has been with many caregivers can learn who mom and dad are. A.F's do not do this to hurt your feelings. They are only doing what they feel is best for their new child. Do not make them feel bad about this.

•Also- sometimes to foster attachment in our adopted kiddos, the parent's don't want to leave them with a sitter or family member for a long period of time after coming home. Understand that this is not because the family member or sitter is not trusted or loved. It is just to help give the new child the right sense of family and permanance.

•Offer to run the carpool, run errands, cut the grass, babysit the siblings, pick up items at the grocery. New moms are notoriously sleep deprived- even if this is the 10th child they've adopted. Drop over a huge cup of Starbucks. Say hello at the door with said cup of coffee and leave.

•Give gift cards for takeout and pizza- so that long after the food welcome wagon has stopped coming, the family can still eat without having to cook! Seriously- who wants to cook when you've been up all night with a crying baby?

•Even though the A.F. did not give birth, families who are bringing home new children will be exhausted from long nights in the hospital (domestic adoption), long flights or a week or two in a foreign land with a new child who has most likely been screaming non-stop or acting out because the child has no idea what is happening to them. Give the A.F. the forum to share how ragged they are. Do not judge them. Every single part is not going to be perfect. Let them get how hard it all is off their chest without feeling guilty about it.

•Watch for post adoption depression. It is a real thing. Just because a woman isn't flooded with pregnancy hormones, doesn't mean that she can't develop depression. There is a lot of leadup going into an adoption and sometimes the reality is tough and can lead to lots of emotional ugliness. Be supportive.

•Do not expect adoptive parents to be "super parents". I find that there is a huge stigma that adoptive families should have it all together because they "paid a lot" for their children. All families are on a learning curve- no matter how they got their children. Do not be quick to dispense advice if you've never adopted a child (because parenting an adopted child in the early days is a lot different than a biological child), but be quick to say, "How can I help?"- Then be willing to actually help!

•Most of all, share in the joy that comes with bringing a new child into the family!
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