Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Best Anniversary Gift!

Last week, we celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary! The day before our anniversary, I told Andrew, "the best gift we could receive for our anniversary would be getting the Minister of Justice's signature" on our case. We submitted for the signature in January and expected it a month ago in mid-February and were still waiting. Sure enough, on our anniversary, I got a phone call from our agency. As soon as I saw the name on the caller ID, I got hopeful and excited! Our caseworker told me that our case had received the signature that morning and had been taken to court! (We are now waiting to be assigned a judge and scheduled for court date.)

I love living life with my wonderful husband everyday, through the good, the hard, and the ordinary. I love celebrating together when life brings us happy moments and supporting each other in life's difficulties. Our 5th anniversary and receiving signature were both definitely cause to celebrate! We went out to dinner and to the symphony.

At  dinner we had a window booth above a river - the day was rainy but the view was still beautiful! The river was high from all the snow melt off and recent rain.

At the symphony! We heard the world premier of Lo, a violin concerto composed and played by Pulitzer prize winner and violinist Caroline Shaw!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Adoption Shower!

Our small group at church hosted an adoption shower for us! Andrew and I had a lovely time celebrating our coming adoption with friends. We felt surrounded by love and support on our adoption journey. We feel blessed to be surrounded with such friends!

Everyone wrote a card for us with either a note of encouragement, parenting advice, Bible verse, or activities to do together as a family. During our first year with our children home, whenever we need a little encouragement or some new parenting ideas, we can take a card out and read it. The children at the party wrote notes or drew pictures on cards for M and E.

Andrew and I opened gifts together! We loved the games and Legos, cute clothes and PJs, sheets and more that we received. One friend was even so thoughtful as to give us a huge box of snacks and cereal, telling us "you have no idea how much your grocery bill will go up once your children are home." Our small group went together and purchased a twin mattress and box spring for us! Thank you!

After gift opening, our friends made a circle around us and prayed for our adoption and for us as we from a new family. Then we ate a combination of delicious American and Bulgarian foods and cake for dessert!

The excitement of looking forward to the shower all week, the fun of the shower itself, the fellowship with friends during the shower, and admiring the gifts again when we got home helped us get through another week of waiting until we see our children again.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Happy 11th Birthday, M!

Last week our son turned 11 years old. Unfortunately we weren't able to send him a gift. We did send him pictures via email to let him know we remembered his birthday and celebrated it. Happy birthday, our dear son! We look forward to celebrating it with you next year and for many more years to come!

M's birthday gift is sitting on our end table waiting for him!
Chocolate Cupcakes on M's Birthday

Thursday, March 5, 2015

International Adoption, A solution, Not THE Solution

I was talking to a friend a few weeks back about why international adoption is not "the solution" to the world orphanage crisis. Don't get me wrong. Sometimes it is the solution for some children. It has been the solution for M. and E. and hundreds of other children. The number of children adopted each year compared to the number of children in orphanages is such a so small. Millions waiting for a family and only thousands internationally adopted. Adopted children seem like drop in the bucket compared to the children still waiting.

International adoption is costly (airfare, agency fees, immigration fees) and time consuming (average adoption takes 2-3 years). Domestic and International adoption cannot keep up with the rate of children entering orphanages (or foster system) in most countries. There simply aren't enough parents adopting for all the children that need permanent loving families. So the number of adoptive parents needs to increase right? My answer is yes, but." Yes, lets have more families (both internationally and domestically) adopt children! But at the same time, lets put some other solutions in place!

BUT, what if ... orphaned children could find a permanent loving family in their extended family (aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.)? And what if those families could afford to take them in and care for them and love them? That would be an awesome solution so that the child never went to the orphanage in the first place!

BUT, what if single mothers didn't have the pressure to abandoned their children due to poverty and social stigma? What if they had the support they needed that they could lovingly raise their children if they so chose? And if they didn't feel they could they were ready to raise children, what if they could choose an infant adoption? Many countries don't have the system in place like the US has for mother's to find a couple to place her child with through infant adoption. Many times the mother's only option is to abandon her child.

BUT, what if countries didn't have laws limiting the number of children a family could have? (This leads to high abandonment rate of girls and children born with disabilities in those countries.)

BUT, what if programs could be put in place where families didn't have to place their children in an orphanage due to poverty? ( I can't imagine how hard it must be to have no food to feed your children and having to place them in an orphanage just to be fed. I don't judge those people at all.)

BUT, what if parents of children born with disabilities weren't encouraged by doctors, the government, and society at large to abandon their children/put them in an orphanage? What if instead they were given the supports they needed to lovingly raise their children? (In many countries when a child is born with a disability, they are encouraged to abandoned the child after birth at the hospital. I kid you not! And I do NOT judge. Because in not so recent US history, we Americans also put children with disabilities in institutions.)

BUT, what if all countries allowed domestic adoption (and international adoption)? We are friends with an immigrant couple. This couple has suffered from infertility for years and wished to adopt, however their country doesn't have adoption at all! (Relatives sometimes take in children who are orphaned, but they don't adopt them.)

If those "what ifs" were in place, that would DRAMATICALLY decrease the number of children in orphanages world wide. (There would still be some children due to children being removed from families due to neglect and abuse and death of parents.) And then domestic and international adoption would be an awesome solution for the remaining children in orphanages!

AND, what if the laws of adoption where streamlined to make adoption SAFER for children, easy and less expensive for parents, and simpler for governments to process. Then those remaining children could be adopted!

AND, what if those children who they couldn't find an adoptive family for could be placed with an adoptive family until they do find an adoptive family!

The global orphan crisis is a puzzle. All around the world, people are working to solve it (places like Lumos, Abide Family CenterAsia's Hope and Ukraine without Orphans and so many more!). Let's join in to advocate for the children who are growing up in an institution without a family! The puzzle feels huge. No one person can solve it all by himself. Choose 1 or 2 things and work on only those puzzle pieces.

Here are some "puzzle piece" ideas you can do:

  • Pray: for government leaders and policy makers, as well as those who are advocating for children inorphanages around the world.
  • Advocate: Call and write government leaders to advocate adoption law and policy changes. Both Ends Burning has petitions you can sign and ideas on how to advocate.
  • Buy fair trade whenever possible so that families in other countries don't have to abandon their children due to poverty
  • Sponser a child through Compassion International or World Vision. Sponsored children are much less likely to be abandoned (because the parent can't feed them) or to end up in trafficking/slavery.
  • Adopt or foster
  • Support an adoptive or foster family that you know (This can be many, many ways, not just financial. It can be prayer, emotional support, babysitting, and more.)
  • Support a single mom who is choosing to either parent her child or make and adoption plan for her child. Again, there are lots of ways to support beside financially.
  • Join and/or support organizations that work with orphaned or foster children.

Disclaimer #1: This is NOT and anti-international adoption post. You know that I love adoption and am in full support of international adoption. Obviously, because I am adopting 2 kids internationally.

Disclaimer #2: Some of you are wondering why I even need disclaimer #1, because how could anyone be against international adoption? I am scratching my head with you on that one! But, believe me, there are lots of people who think that it is "kidnapping, trafficking, stealing children, etc." and morally wrong to remove a child from their birth culture/country. Hereeve, in my opinion if a child can't be placed in a permanent loving family in their birth culture/country, that is awesome! I am 100% for that. But, if there isn't a permanent loving family in their country, then find one for them in another country, because a child needs family more than culture or a country! AND while international adoption does remove them from their birth country and culture, there are lots of ways to celebrate, honor, and learn about their birth country/culture and their heritage.