Saturday, November 29, 2008

"Book Meme"

Just as I finished my last post I popped in on my friend Deanna's blog to find that I have been "tagged" in a new bloggy game.

The Rules: Pass this on to 5 blogging friends. Open the closest book to you, not your favorite or most intellectual book, but the book closest to you at the moment, to page 56. Write the 5th sentence, as well as two to five sentences following that.

Okay, because I have two books piled in my lap at the moment I will do them both.

FIRST - The Bible:

"And what will you give me to sleep with you?" she asked.
"I'll send you a young goat from my flock," he said.
"Will you give me something as a pledge until you send it?" she asked
He said, "What pledge should I give you?"
"Your seal and its cord, and the staff in your hand," she answered.
Genesis 38:15-18

SECOND - Road Map to Holland by Jennifer Graf Groneberg:

I go back to the regular "Avery has Down syndrome."
There are two versions of the conversation. If the person I call has no knowledge of what's happened -- the premature delivery, the NICU -- I put the news in the middle of the story.

Okay, now who to tag?? I guess I'll go with Jennifer, Wendi, Sherri, Beth, and YOU!

When you think you understand, keep reading.

Our adoption journey and our blog - and in all honesty, our lives - has been firmly rooted in the following verse:

"We walk by faith, not by sight" 2 Corinthians 5:7 [NASB]

Especially lately I have found myself analyzing reactions and trying to put into words the road that got us to where we are and where, God willing, we will be traveling very soon (please, Lord?). Who would have guessed that just a few short verses down from the verse we've been clinging to so tightly we would find the simplest answer to explain what we feel in our hearts:

"If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. Either way, Christ’s love controls us." 2 Corinthians 5:13-14 [NLT]

So there you have it. Even when you think you understand, KEEP READING. The answers are waiting for you.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

ROAD MAP TO HOLLAND by Jennifer Graf Groneberg

(sorry for the bad cover shot of the book, it was a quick shot and
I was trying to soften the flash glare that was hiding Avery's beautiful face...)

The short version is YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK. Still, I couldn't help but put down some of my reflections on the book so here they are, if you're interested:

Opening the Post Office box yesterday I was thrilled to find a small package addressed to me in a handwriting that oddly resembles my own. I squealed out loud and scrambled back to the car where I opened the package and read both covers of the treasure tucked inside word for word. On the way home I willed every stoplight red so that I could read a little more of the opening pages, gasping at the inscription and reading it over and over again.

Lucky for me, the first hour after school is declared "homework or quiet reading time" so I settled in on the couch and started reading as the kids did the same. From the first line of the acknowledgements page I felt myself being drawn in. "There's an adage that it takes a village to raise a child - " the same proverb I chose for the final page of our adoption cookbook that, along with an impromptu reflection of family that I quickly jotted on a scrap of paper on a train a few years back, serves as our own acknowledgement page of sorts. (Although, clearly, our little cookbook cannot compare to the heart and soul so exquisitely penned by Jennifer Graf Groneberg in this book!)

Her story begins with a search for "the beginning of the story," and by the end of the first chapter, with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, I'm hooked. All the Jennifers that keep popping up are a little unnerving, something I should really be used to by now, but then partway through the third chapter, as Jennifer the author notes a date on the calendar, my breath catches as I realize she's reliving on these pages the very weekend that Katie was born. The lump in my throat grows and I finish the chapter with tears rolling down my cheeks at the thought of how utterly differently our families spent the first Father's Day with our second-born children.

Too soon, I had to pull myself away from the book to be a mom, making dinner and playing games, but as soon as the kids were settled in for the night I scooped it up again. There were passages so striking that I felt as though she was talking directly to me, passages where I had to pause and reflect on the depth of what was relayed, and one particular moment where I felt my chest tighten, crushed by her pain, and imagined myself with my children trying desperately to get out of a store but getting nowhere fast.

The way we each came to this place is as near to polar opposite as can be - she came to Holland by surprise and I am asking and praying for the chance for our family to join her there - and, because of that, certain of emotions and thoughts she expresses I cannot truly relate to or understand, exactly, but I certainly empathize. As I read through each situation imagining what it may be like for us I caught myself wondering if we will experience something similar and will I be able to handle it the way she did? I whispered a quiet "Oh, thank you!" to God and to Jennifer as I read her description to her oldest child of his brother and his "speed," knowing that explanation will help tremendously in my own explanations to Katie. I furiously scribbled acronyms and book titles on a notepad as I read (before realizing that she has provided such a comprehensive list of resources in the back of her book that I could not ask for more.)

Throughout the remainder of the evening I read - alternately cheering with the shared joy and weeping at the painful truths revealed so honestly - devouring every word until I could no longer keep my eyes open. First thing this morning, after I threw together a batch of banana bread for breakfast and popped it in the oven, while the kids were watching their Saturday morning cartoons and alternately trying to and trying not to wake up, I finished the rest of the book just as Bill was getting out of bed. Wiping my tears and smiling at him I couldn't help but think, "Good job for Avery! Hooray Avery! Hooray for Jennifer! GOOD JOB!"

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tap tap...

Maybe you remember it. The faintest little tap, almost unrecognizable yet still really tough to ignore? The itty bitty little thought that pokes around in the back of your mind just enough to start the "what if's?" Tap Tap. Maybe you tried for a while to convince yourself you didn't hear it and pushed it aside only to have it keep coming at you, louder and more persistent until you had no choice but to listen. Tap Tap TAP. Sometimes we think we know just where we are going, even if we aren't sure how we will get there. Sometimes with a tiny "tap tap" God redirects us ever so slightly to where we are really supposed to be.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9

I've said it before and I will say it again. This verse holds much truth. Now maybe you've noticed a strange silence on the blog about our dossier; or maybe you didn't notice that but you have noticed a few little things popping up that made you scratch your head and wonder if you'd missed something; or maybe you've been sitting there thinking it's about time for an update already thankyouverymuch. Maybe; so I guess it's time to fill you in. There has been a pretty major change in our adoption plans that has required us to obtain some new documents before our dossier can be translated and submitted to ICBF.

Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act. Proverbs 24:12

As we pressed on, content in knowing that we were meant to adopt from Colombia, we became more and more aware of the children all throughout the world who are abandoned at birth because of Down syndrome. Bizarre as it sounds, these children could be considered the "lucky" ones, since statistics from the US Library of Medicine/National Institute of Health show that upwards of 90% of babies prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. We heard the Tap tap and we said, "God bless those babies." We heard the Tap Tap and we said, "It's such a shame there's really nothing we can do." After lots of prayer and discussions with our family and researching and praying some more, we heard the Tap Tap TAP and we said, "There is something we can do, and it's what we were meant to do all along." God willing, we will proceed with bringing our child home from Colombia but instead of a "healthy sibling group" we will be bringing home our child who has Down syndrome. [I edited this to add the quotes around healthy sibling group because it bugs me that the terms seem to insinuate that children with Down syndrome are somehow "unhealthy"...maybe a little nutty but I like it better this way!]

To put it simply for those who may not understand, as certain as we are that adoption is right for our family we are equally as certain that adopting a child with Down syndrome is right for our family even though we understand it won't always be an easy road. One day I'll share with you some of the little signs that God used to guide and reassure us along our path, the most recent of which was a book that I won from a blog giveaway hosted by Deborah at Sunflower Stories called Road Map to Holland by Jennifer Graf Groneberg. I am so looking forward to receiving it because I absolutely cannot wait to read it. In the meantime, we would certainly appreciate your prayers for our paperwork to be completed quickly (again) and that God will knit our little family of four into the perfect family of five.

(P.S. While you're surfing the 'net today, stop by Reece's Rainbow to check out their Angel Tree Project. Even though we aren't using Reece's Rainbow for our adoption, there a lot of children waiting there for a family to call their own. Maybe you can't bring an Angel home or even make a donation, but you can pray for them.)

Close Up: A Mother's View by Fiona Yaron-Field

Meredith is giving away a copy of Close Up: A Mother's View by Fiona Yaron-Field over at her blog, * Cornish Adoption Journey *. Earlier this week, Meredith reviewed the book on her blog and says:

This is a book of a beautiful photographic journey through the early years of the life of a family with a child with Ds! It would make a great conversation starter for raising awareness with family members, grandparents, and friends since it so simply presents life and both the difficult and simply joyful parts of parenting a child with Down syndrome. It is a great first- insight to life with a child with Ds and I believe would be a good addition to welcome baby packages for families receiving a diagnosis of Down syndrome.

You can pop on over to read the rest of her review or to enter the drawing for the giveaway yourself. Just from reading her review of this book I have added this one to my fast-growing list of must-have books! Here's hoping I win! :)

TAG --- you're it!

So I was tagged by Sherri to play a photo archive sort of game. Her description of the game is:

The rules…Find the 6th folder in your pictures directory and post the 6th photo in it. So here are the instructions:
* Go to your sixth picture folder then pick your sixth picture.
* Pray that you remember the details.
* Post it on your blog.
* Tag 5 others, leave a comment to let them know they’ve been tagged.

I actually have my photos scattered around in various places so I am going to use three different ones.

NUMBER ONE - from "My Pictures":

This is my brother-in-law at my son's 8th birthday party and this is one of my favorite pictures of him. I just hope he doesn't mind me posting it for all the world to see...

NUMBER TWO - from my Snapfish account:

This is my son modeling his new sparring gear for karate. The picture was taken at his 10th birthday party, almost one year ago...

NUMBER THREE - from my Kodak Easyshare files:

This is a not-so-flattering picture of me - back before I dyed my hair red - hanging out on the patio at my parents house...Could've been any number of days but I'm a-thinkin' it must've been a game day! (Hence the Sunday paper and the Colts gear!)

WHEW! How's that for luck? I picked three different places my photos are stored and went to the sixth file and sixth photo and only found one not so lovely picture of me to post! Must be my lucky day. Simple blessings, you know? Now I have to I'll consider this an "open tag" - you want to do it, do it and leave me a comment so I can check out what gem you were able to dig up. You'd be surprised, it's actually rather fun. Give it a whirl!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Need to practice your Spanish?

"Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act" Proverbs 24:12

This is a video from Reece's Rainbow. It took me several times through to be able to translate all of the slides but I loved it from the moment I saw it on Meredith's blog back in October. I hope you enjoy it too. (But don't forget to turn off the background music before you play the video...the music player is all the way at the bottom of the blog.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Don't Miss This!!!

You really must check out one of the most beautiful expressions of love from parents to children I have seen. CLICK HERE to visit Nate and Rena and their 4 beautiful children - their video posted today is a MUST SEE. Enjoy, but be prepared with tissues.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Our dossier documents were mailed to Colombia today for translation and submission to ICBF.

If you'll forgive my dalliance...

deeper and deeper into the realm of not-really-adoption-related-posting, I have some more fun to share.

What do you get when you take:

Baby food jars
fall colored tissue paper

and white glue thinned with a little water,
And add it to:

a super cute

and creative

5 year old?

Throw some coordinating ribbon around the top and you get fun little tealight holders that will look great on the table at thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tired of all the election buzz?

Me too. But this was too funny and I had to share it. My kids came home from school today and saw my "I VOTED!" sticker and proceeded to discuss their respective days in kindergarten and fifth grade. They held their own elections in class today and it was quite interesting to hear the information about the candidates they each took away from their lessons:

the Kindergartener learned: if you don't have much money he helps you and gives you a little more; he was a good student; his mother remarried; he probably always wanted to be president; he's nice, he's always got a smile and says nice things.

and the Fifth Grader added: he was a legislator; he was nominated by the democracy-ists to be president; and he is in the lead by a bunch of points.

the Kindergartener learned: he was not a good student and never followed the rules in school; he keeps running for president and always meets a lot of people but can't get enough people to vote for him; he was captured by people he didn't like

and the Fifth Grader added: he was actually a prisoner in war for 5 years (with a dramatically placed duh!); he gets ticked off easily; he has a bad temper; and he's a father

Neither had a clue who he is.

the Kindergartener at first had no idea who she is

the Fifth Grader knew immediately that: "she has an ACTION FIGURE!", (which reminded the Kindergartener that she has glasses, too.)

Slanted much? It made me a little sick to my stomach to wonder how the information was actually presented to them in school but I decided since they are both wa-a-a-y too young to vote - or even understand the significance of the things that I have used to base my decision on - that I wouldn't let the one-sidedness of the information become an issue. I just told them that the important thing is that we all have the right to voice our opinions now and it wasn't always like that. Then I gave them a quick little civics lesson and explained to them a little bit more about each of the candidates (from my perspective this time) and thought, "Man, I've gotta blog this!" So I did.

Dossier documents update

While wrestling with a pretty major decision (more details on that to come later) we have successfully obtained new apostilled documents from the Secretary of State to complete our dossier. And, thankfully, they corrected the error at no charge. So today I went to the post office and sent them on their merry way to St. Louis where the remainder of our dossier documents awaits their arrival. Hopefully this means our dossier will be headed to Colombia at the end of the week. We'll see.

In the meantime we're moving forward. In fact, we're putting one foot in front of the other...and getting into the Christmas spirit too I guess!

Video clip from YouTube -- scroll down and turn off the song to hear the video.