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Okay, so I promised a few weeks ago to get caught up. And then I promptly broke that promise. 😐

Life happened, just when I thought it would slow down as the heat of August was upon us. And by “life happened,” I mean I’ve been running around like a chicken with my head cut off for the past few weeks–most of it being benign, but some of it being incredibly emotionally draining and wearing.

I got tired of constantly picking up after Brendan, and so I tromped back in to FlyLady’s material, determined to teach him how small routines could help him pick up after himself and make giant tasks smaller and more manageable. :) He’s done pretty well with it–even being *willing* (gasp!) to go and pick up 10 things in his room without whining or fighting me, and knowing that 15 minutes is just that: a timer, set for 15 minutes, and that he’s done when it goes off. He appreciates his time to play even more now that he knows the timer really IS set for 15 minutes, and has embraced the “swish & swipe” in his bathroom every morning. It’s still a time to build the habits and routines in him, but he’s become much more willing to go along with it. :)

I also disassembled the laundry room, which still had a ton of junk in it from the previous owners. As life had it, I was much more focused on getting the “main living areas” set up when we moved here, and largely ignored the laundry room. Yes, I still did laundry and it still grated on me every time I walked in there, but there were more urgent and important tasks before me when I left that room. So I tackled that and scrubbed mildew (notice how the end of that word is “ewww”?) for 3 days (with Brendan’s help), tore shelves off the walls, lugged old cabinetry up and out of the house, and tried to figure out where to stick things. I’ve picked out a paint colour (a light, bright green), and I picked up a few things at Ikea for the room, including a laundry cart that I assembled and some cute (cute!) cards that went inside frames and will make a fantastic little collage on the walls. Once the walls are spackled and painted, that is. 😉

I met with a friend who was struggling in her relationship with her husband–we commiserated about the pain of the relationship and the problems therein, and she confronted him about his destructive behaviour a few days later. Then I got a note from her that he had thrown her out, followed her and her daughter out to the parking garage of their building, and beat the crap out of her. 😥 I was so scared for her; her daughter’s screams are what got people to call the police and ultimately got my friend’s attacker (at this point, it’s hard to recognize that he had a formal place in her life with a title for him) to stop beating her. She had bruises and got a host of stitches and he was carted off to jail. He was charged with felony assault (unheard of in domestic violence situations), and she is now safely away from him. The really weird thing is that I had this inkling in my heart when we met together that I should ask her if he had ever tried to hurt her. But I second-guessed myself and decided against the question; looking at her and seeing her confidence, physical strength (she’s a tennis pro), and agility, I read her as never putting up with that sort of crap. I was wrong. And honestly, I don’t think I’ll doubt my intuition again. It’s normally correct, and I ignored it. I don’t think that I could have prevented her attack if I’d asked, but it definitely would have given me fodder for discussion and prayer.

Regardless, about 15 people showed up at her apartment this week and packed her up and moved her out. I was so glad that so many (women and men) showed up and packed, hoisted, lifted, schlepped, and unloaded things for her. It was physically tiring, for sure–working in a hot apartment with all that emotion and all those people is bound to wear you out. But it was emotionally draining as well, and I didn’t expect that. I found myself just wanting to sit down and cry when it was all over. I had a friend who volunteered to watch Brendan for me, and I didn’t really have the opportunity to “let down” when the moving was done and I found myself crying as I fell asleep that night. Being hot and tired is one thing, but facing the destruction of a relationship through something as destructive as violence and pornography (the reason their relationship was our point of discussion intially) and knowing what her daughter experienced and the fear she was living with hit me full-force that night.

And in addition to all of that, I took Brendan out to Mott Children’s Hospital at the U and visited an online friend and her daughter. The little girl was a “heart baby” who had been cared for in China by Love Without Boundaries, but the Chinese surgery hadn’t completed her healing. And so as my friend and her family adopted Lili, they knew that future heart-surgery would be necessary. Lili came through surgery and her time in Pediatric ICU with flying colours, and we visited her a few times. It was really good for Brendan and it was the right thing to do, in every sense of the phrase. We were able to show our love for Lili, but also keep her mom company and bring a bit of cheer to a dreary hospital room. And Brendan is better able now to feel compassion and empathy for those who are in pain and suffering, which is something that Mark and I have tried to be very intentional about developing in him.

We also made a big decision about schooling. We had the opportunity to apply for a scholarship at a local (private) Christian school, and while the school is a great one, we wanted to make sure that we made the best possible decision for our family. It found me asking why I wanted to homeschool and whether or not this opportunity to apply for the scholarship would be a good thing, faced with our limited income and the potential of free time on my part to take on another job. I prayed about it, thought about it, and basically hashed it in to a million pieces in order to make sense of it all. And this was my conclusion: from the day Brendan was born and I held him in my arms in the hospital room, I knew I wanted to homeschool him. I also didn’t have a job “waiting in the wings” for which this scholarship would be an answer for Brendan’s education and schooling (i.e., “if I only had a place to stick Brendan so I could take this job…”), and I didn’t have an overwhelming desire to go and take a job that would take me out of the house regularly, despite our overwhelming need for more income. So I had to believe that my initial desires, combined with the rest of the circumstances (or lack thereof) made my decision for me. Mark supported whatever decision that I was to make, so there wasn’t even *that* factor to consider.

The night we made the decision to move ahead with the homeschool-plan, we had dinner planned with other homeschooling friends. And as we were driving home, secure in our decision, I had the most amazing sense of peace and “lightness” (as in “lack of gravity-ness”) that we had made the right decision. Maybe it will be the decision for this year alone. Maybe for the rest of our kids’ lives. But I have to give it a go and see how it works for us. If it’s a terrible mistake, then it’s one that we can ameliorate next spring/summer when the scholarship for the private school comes available again. But for now, it’s the best decision we can make, and it feels as though we’ve made the right one. :)

This post has been incredibly long already. And this time, I’m committed to keeping up with my writing/blogging and keeping the other things in my life in check. So there will be more updates and photos and the rest. But this will be an indication to those of you who know me well of exactly how worn out and tired I’ve been: Although we’re “in house” today and working on stuff here, I decided to put on makeup. And I took a brush and gave myself an extra ‘boost’ under my eyes of concealer (Bare Escentuals Bisque–this stuff is a MUST HAVE!!). I could not believe how different I looked!! The dark circles under my eyes are covered up; I look so much less exhausted and brighter in general. I guess I really got used to seeing the dark circles and the tired-look on my face–either that, or I just wasn’t looking at myself very carefully. But for whatever reason, covering those dark circles and knowing that I look better has given me some extra bursts of energy today–which is weird. And makes me think that I ought to put makeup on more often, just for me and just “because.” :).

Category: adoption, homeschooling, life musings  Comments off

I’ve resisted writing about celebrities and their adoption of foreign children up to this point because I really do believe that an orphan is better off with *a* parent than *no* parents at all. And up until now, those who are in the spotlight have actually adopted *orphans*.

Until now, that is.

The reports of Madonna adopting a child from Malawi have me doing a slow-burn. Initially, I thought it was similar to Angelina Jolie’s adoptions, but then the reports came back of this Malawi boy having a father. Hmmm. Let’s check the dictionary for a moment, eh? Orphan is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as “a child whose parents are dead.” And yet this boy had a father and grandmother who were caring for him and reportedly doing a good job. Yes, the boy lost his mother in childbirth, but the accepted definition of orphan is one who has lost both parents, not just a mother.

If you expanded the definition to consider what Madonna did (adopt a child who was not parent-less), then anyone whose mother died during their lifetime would be an orphan. And yet I’ll be willing to wager that these children and adults don’t consider themselves orphaned, because they have a surviving parent.

So why does this put a burr under my saddle? I am an adoptive-mom-to-be and although my heart is large and my compassion is stirred often, I would never consider adopting a child who has a built-in family and support system. The Malawi-boy’s grandmother is reportedly up in arms about losing her grandson. And I don’t consider the domestic-adoption system suspect in this situation; in nearly all of the cases of voluntary relinquishment, the child is unable to be cared for and if there were family members willing to care for the child, there wouldn’t be a non-familial-adoption in the first place.

What does this mean for me? Not much–but I think it’s casting a long and dark shadow on adoptive-parents…or at least, it could do that. Adoption is a gift–not only for the child who is being brought in to a family, but for the adoptive-family. It’s also a way for us to build our family and share the love we have in our hearts. But for Madonna (or anyone else) to adopt a child that isn’t technically “adoptable” or an orphan is simply publically gratifying one’s need for publicity and showing off one’s “generosity” to the area/nation in question. I have to wonder if Mark and I tried something like this and didn’t have a $3,000,000 donation for the country if we’d be turned away with a laugh. I deeply suspect it would be so..

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I’ve been following the adoption-journey of one couple who are now in China, receiving their daughter. And as I read the post from them on meeting their daughter and the orphanage workers who cared for her, I got weepy.

I admit–I’m weepy a lot these days. But hormones and life-changes notwithstanding, I am so incredibly happy for this family–God knitted their family together across miles and against all probability (to the human mind), and their daughter will not face a hopeless future in a country with few opportunities and a life of institutionalization. She now has a home and parents who love her–they are hopelessly head-over-heels for their little girl! It is not only sweet, but heart-moving.

I’m happy for all new families and all babies who are born and given a chance to have a life full of promise and possibility. I guess the adoption-built families move me more to extreme emotion because I know someday *I’ll* be doing the same thing and relating the details of meeting our children for the first time. And I think it’s more poignant because I can somehow put myself in the place of the child who had less-than-nothing and will receive everything in the form of a loving family. :)

I’ve got pretty strong beliefs about how those who profess faith allowing God to open their hearts to the plight of orphans, but that’s another post. In the meantime, I’m just incredibly joyous, living in my vicarious happiness for this new family. 😀.

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An Open Note to Fellow Christian Adoptive Parents:

Someone recently directed my attention to another blog that is simply a dumping ground for anger and hatred. Not that I begrudge anyone the right to free speech (by any stretch), but I’m amazingly sad by the things I read there.

The blog (which I won’t give any free publicity here) is owned by a future-adoptive parent. That in and of itself doesn’t sound too bad, but if it ended there, it wouldn’t be. This author has used his site to bash other adoptive parents who hold beliefs and faith that he [the author] doesn’t, and instead of building up the adoptive community, he has chosen to tear down. It’s sad, pathetic, and quite sophomoric.

So why waste time and space on it here? Mostly because I think a site like this can pose a valuable learning opportunity for those of us who hold Faith dear and who attempt to share their joy of their growing families. We are united as parents; not by our parenting methods, per se, but our love for our children and the joy at having them placed in our arms, being ever so grateful to God (Who gave them to us, via a communist government) and their birthmothers who gave them up. We have chosen to raise them in a community of faith, having found that our Faith gives us hope, peace, and more love to share.

Jesus spoke clearly in Matthew 7:6 when He told us not to “cast your pearls before swine. The swine will trample them and then turn and attack you!” He was speaking of sharing the sacred with those who live and breathe in the profane (secular)–and warning us that if we aren’t careful, our lack of prudence in this matter could get us hurt. Does this mean that we are to cloister ourselves away and not share anything with those who have yet to come to Faith? No–not in the least. It simply means that we use care and caution when sharing about our lives with those who don’t value what we do. We walk it out before we talk it out, so to speak. Our actions (of love and kindness) will speak far more than our words ever will. We have an amazing opportunity as Christian parents to share the amazing, life-changing love of Jesus to those who don’t know Him, and that includes those of us in the adoptive community.

So share your Faith and beliefs–but be prudent in where you share and what you share. In a word–be careful. And if you can’t avoid the hatred and ugliness, simply leave. Let it stay where it is and depart the area. Shake the dust off your feet, as it were. God will bring you many more who believe as you do and who can share your joy and comfort you in sorrow. Use the comfort that comes from being united in Faith (Philippians 2:1 ff) and encourage each other (Heb. 3:13). That said, go love on your kids and thank God for building your family as He has! :).

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