Saturday, November 17, 2018

Looking Another Direction


It's no secret that our family loves the beach, and specifically the beaches along 30A. Every year, we make it a priority to spend a week together at one of the most beautiful stretches of sand in the world (no, really, I think it's in Fodor's or something, even though we still might be a little biased). Of course, the beach town vibes, the food, the shops, the lack of commercialization, the Southern charm, the white sand and warm Gulf coast waters all play major factors in why we choose this location to stop and reset as a family, year after year.

But my favorite part of the each day? My favorite part of each vacation?

Sunset.

Any and each and every sunset, both the time leading up to it and the time just after it goes beyond the horizon. I've never not seen a gorgeous sunset there; and if you're a Pirates of the Caribbean fan, you'll understand the reference when I say we've even witnessed (and recorded) the "green flash". And when the sun finally sets, the bell rings; signalling that the day is done and time to get ready for the next. Clouds or no clouds, the sky is a painting no one could ever replicate, no two the same, and even a photo never compare to seeing God's paintbrush in person.

This year though, when we were watching the sunset in Seaside on our what we anticipated being our last night there as a family of four, I happened to look the other way, and saw something just as beautiful: the reflection of the sunset in the eastern sky. I never considered to look the other way; I was always so focused on the obvious beauty in front of me that I didn't consider the beauty around me.

Adoption can be a lot like that.

At the beginning of this week, we received the shocking news that we could be facing a three year wait time until referral, and three years is what they were hoping for; the possibility that it could be even longer exists. We were also encouraged to look into adoption programs with other countries. I have to admit, I spent a good part of the week angry, confused, and questioning God, His timing, His plan. The added bonus of watching constant content streaming in every feed reminding me that it's National Adoption Month didn't help my state of mind either.

Because obviously, since we're following God's leading, everything should go our way, right?

In the space of 24 hours, we went from having a plan to having no plan. We planned to adopt internationally from the same country again, the same country of our boys' birth, knowing the wait might be a smidge longer but ultimately going the way of our previous two adoption with being matched fairly quickly. Suddenly, a possible three year wait is looming ahead of us, along with the unknowns of could we/should we pursue a different country--a country with a whole new set of rules, a whole new set of documents, a whole new process...a whole new everything.

The only way to describe how we were feeling is that we were standing in front of two doors...but were the doors half-open or half-shut? Which door was half-open? Were they both half-shut? Do we push or pull? Did we, after everything so far, do the wrong thing? Should we change our plans completely? Agencies? Countries? Ages? Throw in the towel altogether? Everything we were assuming we knew was suddenly not true, and we felt sucker punched.

And then we remembered, just like a light bulb went off. The country we were encouraged to pursue is the same country we originally planned to adopt from, before switching to the one we actually adopted from--twice. Talk about a full circle moment.

And look. Just look at how that turned out, even though it wasn't our original plan.

We've been so focused on what was in front of us, the beauty of adoption from where we've been twice before, that we failed to consider beauty anywhere else. Because of these changes, we can open our home to a child from yet a different country, a different culture, a different ethnicity. Our focus wasn't on the end game, providing a child with a home and family. Instead, our focus was on ourselves, and how this affected our own plans for our home and family--while not even being thankful for the family we've been given thus far.

So here we are. It may have taken us a week to process and understand and change our mindset--and yes, mourn a little bit--but we don't have two doors half-closed or closing. We've had lots of questions and answers and Facebook messages and phone calls...and still have some questions that are unanswered. When we're ready or able to, we will answer them. But, we have found out that we can and will apply to two programs simultaneously. Yes, we might be waiting a little longer...or we might not. Yes, we might not know what we're doing...but really, does anyone? Yes, we might have to pay more, or we might not...but what's the balance in our checking account compared to the actual life of a child?

These are the truths we came back to. Our heart for adoption has not changed. We are not alone in this journey. And we'll we have two doors to leave open, looking for the beauty from ashes waiting for us from whatever direction our son or daughter, our boys' brother or sister, comes from; and we'll be greeting them with open hearts and open arms, whenever that may be.






Thursday, October 25, 2018

Thursday Thoughts

It's a weird spot to be in, to be a full time family and yet a full time family-in-progress. Yet even in the midst of our adoption news and progress (which is still very much a part of our every day life!), we try still try to keep a perspective that focuses on current family as well. Life has a tendency to keep going, whether you want it to or not, so I thought I'd try to regularly share some of the fun and not so fun things we have going on. I'd like to call this the first installment of Thursday Thoughts...but we'll see how well that goes or catches on.

1. Trees: I don't know what it is about our family and trees, but that crazy windstorm we had this past weekend took out one of our hickory trees on Saturday: the second one since we moved into this house in July. Thankfully, our friends were visiting...well, thankfully for us at least--I don't know how they felt about it. We clearly have a natural proclivity for falling trees, so just beware when you're walking through our yard. Thanks Jansmas, for helping with the tree that so very randomly fell down and provided a great photo op. Derek is especially excited for all the free, nice lumber our yard is providing us with, so in approximately one year or so (or however long it takes the hickory wood to dry, I don't quite get how that works) and you want something made out of hickory, you know where to go. 

2. Sickness: Jordan started school this year and this is Judah's first season experiencing American germs, so I have been anticipating this being our first season to really try and build our immunity up. Derek's Grandma Z. passed away a few weeks ago, and on the way up for the arrangements Jordan literally left our house healthy and 150 miles later needed his albuterol inhaler every few hours. He was the first one sick, and so very kindly shared it with all of us. We have learned though that even sick, Judah still bebops his way through life. Even when Jordan and I were curled up with tissues and blankets and inhalers and antibiotics (Derek took it like a man and didn't go to the doctor), Judah didn't let it get him down. We also learned that Jordan will always get hit harder with whatever colds come our way, but thankfully we were home by the time the worst of it hit and we still were able to stay out of the hospital. It doesn't seem fair sometimes because he has zero restrictions on activity and his heart is doing great, but that's how it is. 

3. The boys: Speaking of Judah always seemingly happy...Judah is almost always laughing about something, and usually that something is whatever silly thing Jordan is doing (when they're getting along at least). Every morning when I get up, they're already up and as soon as I walk out of our room they tell me to go back to bed--usually because they're in the middle of something they probably shouldn't be in...so we have a lot of discussions in our house. And those discussions usually contain the words "we do not play in the toilet water" or "we do not drink from the dog's water bowl". They are busy, curious, sweet boys, and usually not purposefully naughty but test their boundaries and my patience on the daily. Also, color me shocked if Jordan doesn't try out for the drama department or any sort of stage. He has quite the flair for the dramatic. 

4. Behavior Issues: Outside of their typical three year old behavior, we have had some extreme behavior issues with one of our boys. The problem isn't with acting but reacting, and he has a hard time self-regulating. It's a cause of concern for us, because it's beyond typical reactions for a three year old and so we've been seeing a play therapist with him to teach him (and us) tools to help him focus and calm down. It's hard to explain because the only people who see these behaviors are us; no one else has reported anything of the sort when he or they are under others' care. It's a reminder that even with the best of care in China and doing our best with attachment, both of the boys have trauma of some sort (abandonment, medical conditions, etc.) in their background, rooted in fear and anxiety, that their subconscious remembers but their brains cannot keep up with. Thankfully on the especially hard days, Derek is close enough to be able to come home over lunch and help us all reset as a family. On such a day last week, both boys were extremely happy to find out that Derek matched them. Go Team Caterpillar!

5. 11th Anniversary: Last year, Derek and I tried to get away for our 10th wedding anniversary but we turned it into a family vacation somewhat last minute. At the beginning of this year, even knowing Judah wasn't home yet at the time and not knowing when that would be, we made it a priority to make time for a getaway for us this year, and we are running away in a couple weeks. We are thankful for Grandmas and Grandpas and Aunties who are helping watch our boys here so that we can take a time out and reset after an especially busy year and before we add a third child and his/her special needs to our calendar. We told the boys yesterday, and their first reaction was their typical FOMO response (Fear Of Missing Out) and wanted to go on vacation too. However, ruffled feathers were quickly soothed with promises of special time with all the grandparents and aunts and that Daddy and Mommy need vacations too, so that they can be better daddies and mommies.  (Can I get an Amen?)

6. Fundraisers: Currently, we still have FIVE days left for our T-shirt fundraiser! We are so thankful for anyone who has purchased a shirt--either one or eleven--to help us bring home the #weetaniithree! If you're still wanting to purchase a shirt, you can click here. A few have asked if we are doing either an AdoptTogether page like we did last time or applying for any matching grants. We first need to complete our home study to apply for any matching grants, or most grants at all, so once we hear back from those we will let you know! We also are hoping to do a book party fundraiser in November, so you'll be the first to know about that too. Thank you all for your continued support of our family through prayer especially! 

7. Christmas Cookies: Local friends, last year I think we ended up doing this in January, but we are hoping to have a Christmas Cookie exchange at our new house. I am once again using my favorite Christmas cookie picture from our first cookie exchange ever (Jessica L., they were epic), but any type of cookie is welcome. We've never turned one down, I don't think. Once I get my act together, I'll hopefully send out open house type invites for the second weekend in December. It's such a fun time to see people you may not see regularly or meet new ones. Kids are always welcome in this house, so you can choose if you want to want to make it child free or not. Pray for snow too...since we have an awesome yard for sledding.

8. Panera Delivery: Part of moving, and adopting again, has made us evaluate at our finances for obvious reasons, but also change our "go-to" nearby restaurants where we can all eat somewhat healthily for not an obscene amount of money and be satisfied. This is such a first world problem, but when we were all sick last week and no one had much energy, I discovered that the Panera Bread by our house delivers. Friends, this is a game. changer. I didn't know they delivered orders that aren't catered, but they do, and tomato soup and salad was the perfect post-doctor visit meal (and everyone else picked their own favorite comfort food). 

That's about all I can think of currently, at least for today's stream of consciousness. I'm hoping I can at least find some things fun to talk about once a month or so--for our sake so we can record our everyday, but maybe also your enjoyment. Thanks for sticking with us! 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Home

Where we love is home-
Home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts. --Oliver Wendell Holmes

Shortly after welcoming Judah home, we found a house, or shall I say The House, that we knew was what we were looking for in our forever home. We like to say this is the home we will die in, or the home we will live in until our children force us out. It's not huge, it's not updated, and moving certainly wasn't on our summer to-do list, but it's exactly right for us--both now and in the future.

Except we have two 3 year olds, one who doesn't like change and another who faced an incredible amount of change in a very short period of time.

Explaining that we were moving to a new house, driving past the new house, even going on the inspection of the new house still didn't prepare them for what moving from one house to another would be like. Even now, if I'm out with them running errands, one of them will still ask "Are we going to the new house?" as if the old house is still an option.

Then we went on a couple vacations, had a couple hospital stays/trips, and had some family stuff come up, and Derek and I would make the mistake of saying "We're going to head home", meaning "We're going to head back to wherever we're sleeping."

Again, our two 3 year olds don't understand that, and assume we are headed home to the house we live in.

So we did some quick thinking, and now when we are out of town or not sleeping in our house, and say we are headed home, we ask just these three questions if they are confused:

Are you a part of a family?
Are we a family?
Are we your family?

Once their answers are yes, always yes, our next sentence is "Home is wherever our family is."

 #weetaniithreeIt's simple, it's basic, it's age appropriate...but it is also true.

Whether we are in our house, on vacation, in a hotel room or in a hospital room, we are a family. We are together, and that means we're home. Family is home, and home is family.

But sometimes, because of circumstances we can't control, families aren't together. Sometimes a family member is sick and in the hospital, whether for a quick or extended stay. Sometimes, a beloved family member, no matter the age, has passed on, going Home to where they are healed and whole. And sometimes, someone's family is working hard, waiting, praying for them to come home and to be a part of a family, to be a part of their family.

I think we can all relate to at least one of those instances. That's what inspired the design of these shirts. For us, a member of our family isn't home yet. For a little person on the other side of the world, he or she is still waiting for a home and a family.

If you would like to purchase a shirt that says Home is where Family is, you can click here, the photo of the t-shirt above, or the t-shirt photo on the blog's homepage. By doing so, you'll help us bring home our newest and youngest--and yet unknown--family member.

We have set a high goal of selling 100 shirts, and we hope and pray we can meet that goal. We have a variety of colors and options available, for children and adults. If you've made a purchase, you should have your new shirts by the middle of November. Thank you, very much, to each of you who has bought a shirt so far, and to those of you who have donated on top of purchasing a shirt. Thanks for being a part of our family.