Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Hope.

Of course things have been emotional around here, but the last 3 weeks has also turned into an intense amount of information gathering and research.  Googling, message board joining, phone calls, emails, messaging people I don't know and people those people know.  Narrowing things down.  Eliminating and reconsidering.  I feel like when I was in college trying to cram an already full course into a shortened summer semester.  Of course this urgency is self imposed, but I am glad to feel an urgency to move in a direction at all.  With the sorrow and hopelessness I felt the first week I didn't foresee us being able to start seriously considering another direction at all, and now I feel like I am seeing the first rays of hope begin to peek up over the mountain ridge.  I wouldn't say that I am basking in the warmth that is accompanied by confirmed certainty, but those welcomed rays of hope are enough to tell us what direction to at least start walking right now...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Breaking it to the boys

We finally decided to tell the boys yesterday that we would no longer be able to bring a baby sister home from Ethiopia.  It went about like we thought it would with Lincoln openly expressing how broken his heart was, while Noah who looked wounded was more reserved at first.  Of course when I asked Noah how he felt about things he began to cry and then came to me and just hung on me and sobbed for a couple minutes.  He doesn't come to me for comfort like that very often (he's so grown up now, you know) and we just wept together.  Noah then proceeded to get out things like our Ethiopia picture book under the coffee table and look over it, and ask if we could still keep the Ethiopian doll we'd bought for baby girl.  Then without a word he retreated to his room and wrote out his heartache in his journal.  He is south a tender, sentimental soul and we knew this would be difficult for him to digest.

We had the opportunity to explain to the boys that even though we don't know yet exactly how things will work out, that our Heavenly Father does and we even touched on some of the bumps in the road we encountered during Noah's adoption journey.  While heartbreak is never fun, and the inclination is to shield one's children from it...there is also something beautiful for children to be part of this process with us and watch God as he allows us to be part of something beautiful.  In His way.  On His timetable.  For our children to exhibit faith through prayer with us, and to see that it is ok to grieve and also necessary to submit our will to His.

We've been doing a lot of thinking, talking, researching, and praying.  I look forward to seeing what direction we will go next, and I know in the end it will all work out.  Just like it was supposed to.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Ethiopia program we knew is closed.

Our agency's program has now been changed to an older child, severe special needs program only.

And because somehow it makes me feel better to document things, here is the info I gathered between yesterday's web conference and my long phone call with our case worker today:

Because Ethiopia is not a country that participates in the Hague Convention (although our agency is Hague accredited), there is no central authority monitoring referrals.  This puts orphanages in charge of deciding what agencies to refer the children they care for.  Over time this has become an extremely lucrative affair for orphanages and has become has lead orphanage directors (many of whom had noble intentions originally) to greed and corruption.

Agencies, in order to supply children for the long wait lists that have ensued amidst the slow downs, are willing to pay large sums of money to orphanage directors including thousands for a child's referral and sometimes even quarterly payments in order to guarantee that their agency will receive referrals for the most "desirable" children.  This practice is widely used and justified as a means to an end, but has only lead to more greed and corruption.  Some orphanages even go as far as to hire baby finders to go out in to communities to essentially recruit for their orphanage.  Our agency will not participate in this unethical behavior, but has continued to consistently provide direct support and care to orphanages (food, medical supplies, refurbishing buildings, hiring nurses, etc), but they will not just hand over money.

There is little to no monitoring of orphanages by MOWA (the arm of government in Ethiopia that oversees adoptions) at the regional or federal level.  Nor is there any accountability from regional MOWA to federal MOWA.  One effort that has gone into place to try and combat some other corruption involved during the abandonment phase of adoption is to have an orphan verification completed on the regional and federal level.  Each region has a MOWA director, and some of them simply have decided they are against international adoption and won't sign out any children (so they continue to languish for years in an institution when families are ready to take them) even though their orphan status is clearly outlined.  In some cases children they refused to sign off on have had medical needs that needed attention and have died in orphanage care because of refusal to sign and release them for adoption.  Further, some directors will only sign off on children that are being placed through specific agencies that are insentivising them enough to do so.

Our agency has held strictly to a no negotiation policy with transfer of funds for children (that is child trafficking) and has had to cut ties with multiple orphanages as the corruption has spread.  In addition to the hugs slowdown and also with their non-negotiable stance they simply cannot compete with other agencies out there that through under table exchange of money are able to buy referrals for their agency.  So, they are doing their best to care for and find homes for the children that there is no competition - older children with severe special needs.

While I commend AGCI for their commitment to ethical adoptions, it has really rocked our world to have been preparing to bring our daughter home from Ethiopia the last couple years only to find out that won't ever happen.  And it's even more tragic for the long term picture of adoptions in Ethiopia.  I don't see things getting better until the whole program in Ethiopia closes, becomes Hague and re-opens with government officials put in place who are committed to overseeing an ethical adoption process.

As for my phone call today with our caseworker - there is not another program currently open (accepting applications) within AGCI that fits our perimeters, so termination of our contract is the only possible option.  And there is no possibility of partial refund for any of the $16,000 we have spent on this failed adoption (and no tax write off for a failed international adoption like there is for a failed domestic adoption).  It's not about the money, but it sure would have been nice to recuperate some part of that to put towards what ever direction we end up going with this adoption.

Until then, we'll pray for peace and direction.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Web conference today

I've known since last week that our agency would be holding a webinar today, but I've kind of been ignoring it.  Like knowing your employer has an important meeting scheduled with you amidst company cutbacks, or when your boyfriend initiates wanting to have a conversation and you know it's to break up.  I pretty much know what they're going to say.  Yet I still am managing to feel nervous about it...

Sunday, November 16, 2014

That darn broken dam

I have spent a LOT of time thinking about things this last several days (like, day and night).  While I'm still worried, sad, and processing a lot I also thought I had gotten my emotions a bit better under control.

Nope.

I teach 6 year olds in primary at church and during singing time today I totally lost it.  The kind where the tears won't stop and you better find a kleenex because you nose is starting to run now too.  We hit a series of songs in church that had lyrics that just hit that sensitive spot straight on.  And the dam broke...

First was 'A Child's Prayer': "Heavenly Father, are you really there?  Do you hear and answer every child's prayer?..."

Then it was 'I Am a Child of God': "I am a child of God, and He has sent me here, has given me an earthly home, with parents kind and dear. Lead me, guide me, walk beside me.  Help me find the way.  Teach me all that I must do to live with Him someday...I am a child of God, And so my needs are great; Help me to understand His word before it grows too late..."

Then what tipped me over the edge was singing 'The Family is of God'.  I was afraid I was going to start doing the ugly cry, so I had to actually leave my class and go to the bathroom (get away from the music) and cry it out a bit.  It's a beautiful song, but when you think about it (and the previous two) within the context of the millions of orphaned children in our world that need a family it is just too heartbreaking.  Especially for my raw, tender heart right now.  Part of the lyrics on this third song sing: "He sent each one of us to earth, through birth, to live and love here in fam'lies.  God gave us families to help us become what he wants us to be.  This is how He shares His love, for the family is of God."

It is heart wrenching enough that there are so many children in this world suffering, and so many of them suffering without a home or family...it is almost just too much for me to see it getting harder and harder for people to offer that home and family to them simply due to greed and corruption.  I've said this before - I understand that adoption is not a cure-all for the crisis that so many countries in the world are facing, but for so many children adoption is their only hope for a home and family.  Watching more doors close, including doors that we thought our daughter would come through to our family...it's just heartbreaking.  And so the dam breaks.










Friday, November 14, 2014

Therapy post (and more info than most people will ever read)

I am not one of those women who prides myself on multitasking.  Sure, I do it - it's kind of part of the job as a mom, but I certainly prefer to put my whole self into whatever I'm thinking about or doing.  So the last couple days has felt particularly exhausting to me since every waking moment I have spent searching my thoughts and feelings about our pending adoption, while also trying to remember to be as present as possible while doing "normal" things like attending parent teacher conferences, or celebrating our son's birthday.  I have managed not to burst in to tears in public, but seem to have found some sort of strange connection between my tear ducts and driving the car.  Anytime I'm driving I find myself crying.

This morning I dropped my husband off at the airport and found a rare entire 30 minutes of silence on the drive home (3 year old had headphones on).  Yes, I was driving, so cue tears.  I find myself continuing to feel grief, but already being more open to thoughts and feelings about where to proceed from here.  Or at least what to consider thinking and praying about.  I'll share a little bit more about that in a moment but first, a little explanation about writing this post...

I decided that since I'm not really ready to try to explain my grief to the world face to face (especially while unsure where we're going from here), but I figured that I'd try to write some things down.  Ever since I was a little girl I found writing to be therapeutic.  I started a journal before I was even in kindergarten and kept one religiously until I got married.  Apparently I converted to verbally dumping my feelings at that point (lucky Mark).  In any case, writing is always a fall back (especially when my feelings are this intense and the hubby is out of town).  Hence the title of this post being therapy post.

First a little background.  While international adoption is something I felt strongly about as long as I can remember, and adoption specifically from Ethiopia had been brewing in our hearts for years, we officially began the process just over 2 years ago.  We excitedly submitted our initial application for the program on October 3, 2012.  At the time we knew the wait lists had gotten longer to adopt from Ethiopia and that there had been some hold ups in the process due to red tape on the Ethiopian side of things, but we were told the adoption could take up to 2 years.  

Right around the time we completed our paper chase, our dossier was complete and we were finally wait listed we received the disheartening news that the wait time had been re-evaluated to be 3 1/2 years.  At the time that news was crushing.  It was only a few months later that the agency explained that the slow down would be worse than projected and now was estimating a wait of about 6 years.  That was a tough pill to swallow, but we felt strongly that we should stay the course.  Now fast forward to this week and we got the email we've been dreading.  While our agency isn't officially closing their Ethiopia program yet they are not anticipating receiving any more referrals of children and we are being encouraged to either change programs (to another country) or to terminate our contract with them.

They included a very detailed email explaining some of the very complicated facets of the adoption process in Ethiopia that has led to this, but if I get into many of those details this will become an even longer (and much more intense) post.  It sufficeth to say that greed, corruption, and child trafficking has become more and more of a problem in Ethiopia.  Our agency continues to maintain its stance against those things and to keep its distance from anyone involved in it.  Unfortunately that, in addition to complicated adoption procedures/red tape that has been implemented trying to combat that corruption, has led to an even more drastic slowdown in the program.  To put it into numbers....during 2014 our agency has been able to place only 10 children from Ethiopia with families, compared to 35 in 2013 and 62 in 2012.

While I will certainly continue grieving the loss that I feel personally right now and my thoughts certainly point to what path our future will take us down, my emotions seem to be more consumed today with grief I have over all the children in this country I've grown to love that NEED families and can't get to them because of greed and corruption.  The sorrow I feel is so deep and complex that it is difficult to put into words.  I'm grateful to be affiliated with an adoption agency that refuses to participate in corruption as a means to an end.  The adoption process in Ethiopia is so broken and corrupt that I am finally realizing that it likely needs to completely close before it can be overhauled and fixed.  Probably alongside Hague accreditation.  I think that is eventually what will happen.  In the long run that's a good thing.  In the meantime that's sad for us, and even more awful for children that will languish in the meantime without hope of anything better.

I believe that there must be a reason that my heart has learned to love Ethiopia.  Also, my heart has become even more aware of and broken over orphan care in general.  And while adoption certainly holds a huge place in my heart and always will, I have always recognized that adoption isn't the answer to relieving the suffering of millions of children.  There needs to be more concern over family preservation and the things that prevent that (see organizations like Help One Now that I love).  I also believe though that even when great progress is made that there will always be situations where adoption is the only option available for a child to have a permanent home and family.  My prayer is that leaders in Ethiopia and everywhere will feel the urgency to create ethical paths for those children to find homes in families that are ready and willing to call them their own.

As I think about the things I've learned, or things my heart has begun to love or bleed for over the last few years...I wonder if that was enough of a reason for God to have put us on this path?  We still feel like our daughter is out there somewhere...was part of this path a timing issue?  Why did we have to throw away $16,000+ for nothing when that money could have been used toward her adoption later?  I have so many questions.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post I finally was able have the a little bit of quiet clarity this morning to consider some of the things we need to think and pray about when considering how to proceed form here.  First, although Ethiopia is what we now have our hearts set on naturally, we are willing to at least look into other countries that we previously ruled out as a fit for our family (every country allows different perameters, it is nothing to do with race for us).  Secondly, we would consider another domestic adoption (I'd like to share more about that in a moment).  And third, we need to consider timing and finances.

Here is something on domestic adoption that we now find interesting.  While we cherish our experience adopting Noah and know without a doubt he was meant for our family, but we never entertained the notion of another domestic adoption.  It just wasn't something on our radar.  International adoption was simply our focus for our next adoption.

After finding out last year that our Ethiopian adoption would take 6 years, we realized that Max (our youngest) would be 8 years old by the time we brought her home.  For several different reasons we wondered if it would be a good idea to pursue a concurrent domestic adoption a couple years before we would complete our domestic adoption so she would have a sibling closer to her age...and considering our circumstance of adopting a child we knew would be black (being from Ethiopia) we figured that it would be wise to consider the possibility that when pursuing this domestic adoption that we adopt a child who is also black.  

We felt strange considering the notion of limiting what race of child we were open to (we had no racial restrictions with Noah's adoption) until we began looking into things and were surprised to find out that there is actually a real need for adoption of black children, including infants, within our own country.  We were aware that some people were not open to interracial adoptions, but had no idea how few adoptive parents are specifically open to adopting a black child, particularly if the child is fully African American (not bi-racial).  We found several agencies that actually have a separate program for AA adoptions that boast a shorter wait time due to shorter wait lists (not that a short wait is high on our priority list right now).  One agency we were aware of had a lengthy wait list for their "traditional" program, and only ONE family on their wait list for their "non-traditional" (AA) program.  This was shocking to us and only increased our desire to take ourselves out of the pool of prospective adoptive parents waiting for babies that would have no difficulty being placed, and to eventually specifically pursue a domestic adoption of a beautiful little baby with brown skin and curly brown hair that for some reason are more challenging to place with waiting families.

While we had begun our initial searches regarding domestic adoptions and the idea had begun to marinade and feel good to us, we were in no rush to make any decisions anytime soon or even narrow down agency selection with how long out we were looking before pursuing this adoption.  Now that the door to Ethiopian adoption is being closed for us, it causes us to consider this option more seriously and to re-evaluate our timeline for when we would want to begin that process.  For a person (me) that always has a pretty solid 5 year plan this has spun me for a loop.  Things happening sooner would be a different mindset for our family dynamic and for our finances (domestic adoptions cost about the same as international adoptions now days)...Not only all of this, but the agency we used with Noah's adoption ceased placements during the time we were waiting for our Ethiopian adoption, and I can't help but wonder if this was the path we had to take to get us to not only re-consider domestic adoption, but such a specific path for domestic adoption.  The agency we are currently most interested in for an AA adoption I found out about from a women on AGCI's private Ethiopia Facebook page (she adopted a child through AGCI from Ethiopia).  Is that what this whole journey was really about?  Is that why we had to go through this only for the road to end?...to open our hearts to this specific type of domestic adoption, and to find this agency that will lead us to our child?

I look forward to the day that I can look back on this post and hopefully smile with 20/20 hindsight vision and understand at least in part the path that God took us on to find our child, how we leaned on Him, and what we learned.  In the meantime, we will keep trying to educate ourselves on our options and pray for guidance on which way this crazy adoption path should take us to find our daughter.

I was going to end my post there, but I want to document one more impression that I had today that hit me very strongly.  It is a bit more personal, but if I don't write it down here I know I'll forget about it.  It's about decisions.  Every decision we make has a ripple of effects.  Some we can anticipate and/or see and others we cannot.  Some of these effects and positive and some are negative.  I believe also that some are just a trade off, not positive or negative.  There have been times in my life where I have been deciding between two things.  I have brought my choice to the Lord to ask if it is a good path and the answer that I have gotten wasn't a yes or no...it was simply the answer that either choice was good and that it was up to me.  That doesn't mean that either choice I make will have the same consequences, but that both choices are good and would have different consequences.  I don't know this for sure at this point, but I had a distinct impression that I made one of those choices years ago, perhaps not even realizing it.  I'd like to share.

After years of aggressive fertility treatments failing and the grief that naturally came with that we excitedly moved onto the path of adoption for growing our family.  We always knew we would adopt, but assumed that would come after bringing biological children into our family.  Once we believed that wasn't an option for us we were excited to build our family through adoption, and even more excited after we experienced the miracle of adoption with Noah.  Less than a year after Noah joined our family we felt compelled to begin our journey with international adoption (how we assumed we would add the rest of the children to our family).  We selected an agency and country to adopt from and started paperwork to adopt a child from Haiti.  Before turning this paperwork in we were approached about having a round of IVF paid for as a donation from someone.  This was a change in mindset, but we couldn't turn it down.  

We prayed about if it was a good choice, felt good, and decided to proceed.  Because of that decision we were able to experience the joys and trials of pregnancy and childbirth of two children.  We cannot imagine not having them in our family, but we always just assumed that international adoption would wait until we were ready.  Little did we know how much the climate for international adoption in general would change over the coming years.  

I always dreamed of international adoption, and I always assumed that I would bring children into the world.  I can't help but wonder if back when we made the choice to pursue IVF if we were being offered two good choices and didn't realize it at the time that we had to choose one or the other.  We thought we were taking advantage of a possibility that wouldn't be afforded us again and the timing on the other (international adoption) would just be different/later.  Perhaps it was really the choice to either pursue this adoption in Haiti then OR to experience pregnancy/childbirth.  I'm sure either choice came with heartache and joys.  Different choices, but both good.  I just didn't realize I was making that choice.  I have to wonder if because we made that choice that the Lord used our continued desire to bring an orphan into our home to guide us  in a very roundabout way back to domestic adoption, to a specific type of agency, and to our daughter here.  Maybe He made what He knew became a futile desire into something He could use for our good.  Maybe.  We'll see.  Like I said earlier, I can't wait to see what He does with our family.  In the meantime we'll do our best to trust in Him and to celebrate the blessing of the 3 beautiful blessings He has already given to us.
 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Heavy heart

I don't even have the energy to write a post about everything right now.  And while I doubt that anybody even checks this blog I feel a need to put my feelings out there.  While talking on the phone with Mark today we both just kept commenting on how heavy our hearts are after receiving an email from our agency today.  Things are not looking good for adoption in Ethiopia...not with our agency, or in general in the long run.

We have so much to think and pray about.  My eyes burn from crying and from staring at my computer screen following the news feed blow up on the private AGCI Ethiopia group.  Everyone is in an upheaval of emotions and, frankly, grief.  Adoption loss is a unique thing that is difficult to explain.  The only way I can explain it is that right now I feel the way I did during our journey with infertility.  I feel like I am beginning mourning not the loss of a child I have, but one that I planned for, thought I would have, and had begun to love.  Mourning the loss of what I pictured and looked forward to.

Because of experiences we've had in the past I believe firmly that things have happened the way they have for a reason.  Timing.  Experience.  I don't know.  What I do know is that in the end things will all turn out how they are supposed to, but right now I just hurt.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Updating without much of an update

It's been nearly 4 months since I've posted anything here.  Not a whole ton new to tell.  The wait is still long.  Our agency is still working hard to facilitate orphan care (including adoption) in Ethiopia, and we did recently learn of two potential orphanage partnerships that AGCI is working on solidifying.  One is is Gambella, the other is in Benishangul.  Both are in western Ethiopia, bordering Sudan.

Other changes include the Hannah's Hope (transition home with AGCI) in Addis Ababa had to change locations.  It didn't move far, but had to downsize including no guest house anymore (so we won't get to stay on site on our visits to Ethiopia), and they had to let several staff members go.  Lots of families on our agency's private FB page naturally were sad to see the special mothers that took care of their children be let go.

Lastly, over the last few months there has been more corruption in more agencies (not ours), including arrests...which of course doesn't help the climate for adoptions in Ethiopia.  Regional clearance still hasn't signed off on children in the Tigray region where children have been waiting for a very long time.  I believe that I heard the federal government took over those cases because of that, but that means they will have to start over the already slow orphan verification process all over again.

There have been all sorts of other staff changes too, which is always a bit unsettling even if not directly affecting us.  First, Almaz (the director within Ethiopia) resigned and was replaced.  Next, AGCI has let go both case workers with the Ethiopia program and restructured things to be a "team" that responds to families needs (each person specializing in their own area).  We'll see how that goes.  I recently participated in a conference call and was very impressed with the knowledge of one of the women who is involved with orphan care projects in Ethiopia as well as facilitating round table discussions with both 'Save the Children' and 'UNICEF'.  She is also helping to further the partnerships in Gambella and Benishangul.

So, if the estimated wait time doesn't change from what it is now (which in all likelihood it will), and if we went with the longer estimated range...then we are still looking at about 5 years until the referral of our little girl (plus a few months to get her home after that).  That is soooo stinking long.  If the timeline had been what it was when we signed up then we'd only be about a year away from seeing her little face.  I never thought that we'd be still adding a child to our family in our 40's...but what about us adding children to our family has gone as "planned" anyway? :)

I think about our little girl every day.  There just isn't always a concrete update to share.  However, for those of you that have asked for those updates - thank you, and sorry we don't have something more exciting to share!

Friday, April 18, 2014

A new emotion

I've lived a very blessed life, but I do know what it's like to miss someone...

My first memory of this was missing my friends, school, and familiarity as a grade child when our family moved to a new home.  I, like many people, have re-experienced this emotion as in varying degrees as different stages of my life have occurred (graduations, job changes, break-ups, moving, whatever).

I missed everything familiar to me (people, food, language, smells, everything!) while living with my host family as I volunteered in Taiwan for 6 months. 

I missed my family, friends, and the guy I loved (now my husband) for 18 months while living in Germany while serving a full-time mission for our church...and with just 3 phone calls home that entire time.  (And ironically now I still miss Germany)

I missed my family and friends during the years that we lived out of state in Iowa during schooling as we not only went through the struggles associated with medical schooling and life's challenges in general (apartment burning down, home robbery, surgeries, car accident, job/money struggles, etc), but also endured the physical and emotional struggles of infertility and the roller coaster of adoption without having them nearby.

I still miss our dear friends that were there for us through those toughest times in our lives in Iowa while away from family.  They were our family there and we miss them now!

I missed the support of family and friends (especially my mom) while living in Arizona dealing with pregnancy complications, scares, and severe sickness. 

I miss my grandpa quite often (who has passed away) who was such an integral part of my life and growing up years.

I've missed lesser things too, like the pre-baby body I used to have or having more time for myself (both things happily traded for the blessing of being a mom, but still...)

So, that being established, this is the new emotion that clicked with me today...I know what it is like to miss someone, or something.  To know someone closely and then be away from them.  To have experiences and connection with another person and then to be away from that.

Today I found myself thinking about our baby girl that we're waiting for.  I recognized that heavy feeling in my heart, that feeling of unwhole-ness or of longing.  The only emotion or experience from my life that I can tie those feelings to is that of missing someone.  Those times when I have truly felt the unwanted separation of missing someone I care dearly about.  And I realized...I miss her.  Just typing that makes me feel so emotional.

The obviously strange/new thing about the emotion I'm feeling is that I haven't even met her yet.  How can I miss someone who I haven't even met yet?...and yet she already feels so much a part of my heart.  It is indeed unique to feel a deep connection to someone that you don't even know yet.  Or perhaps therein lies the discrepancy.  Maybe I do know her already, but I just don't remember.  I believe just as deeply in a pre-mortal existence as I do in an afterlife.  Maybe I do already know this sweet little girl, and as our journey to bring her home slowly brings us closer to her then perhaps my spirit cries out in longing for that familiarity and bond that my mind simply can't remember.  I feel connected to her in the same way I feel connected to other people in my life that I care deeply about.

Whether I did indeed know this little person before this life...or if perhaps my mind, or the English language, simply lacks the ability to discern this unique emotion from that of "missing" someone...what I do know is that I long for her.  So that is my realization for today.  I miss someone fiercely that in this life I certainly haven't met yet.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Songs

You know how sometimes you'll hear a song you've heard before, but it will hit you in a different (and so close to home) kind of way?  That happened to me today.  I know these lyrics weren't written to be interpreted as from a parent to a child, but think of it from my perspective waiting for our little girl.  Here's a section from the middle of the song...

I might have to wait
I'll never give up
I guess it's half timing
And the other half's luck
Wherever you are
Whenever it's right
You'll come out of nowhere
And into my life

And I know that we can be so amazing
And baby your love is gonna change me
And now I can see every possibility

And somehow I know that it'll all turn out
And you'll make me work so we can work to work it out
And promise you kid I'll give so much more than I get
I just haven't met you yet

...So, yeah.  Those lyrics hit pretty close to home for me today.  Just thought I'd write them down.  Also, the song is "Haven't Met You Yet" by Michael BublĂ©.  The music video obviously plays out much different than the one did in my mind today when I heard it, but if you want to hear the song then here's the music video anyway:
http://youtu.be/1AJmKkU5POA

I love you, baby girl!  I just haven't met you yet.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Stuck.

Have you ever read a book, seen a movie, or...ok, read a blog...and felt such empathy for what that person went through (or is going through) that you felt like you were friends with them?  Have you ever felt such concern and empathy for someone that you don't know that you've prayed for them? (If not, you should really give it a try)

I've been aware of a large number of families whose children have been stuck in DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) for months just waiting for government clearance to leave the country.  A great number of these are finalized adoptions, and many of these children already have US visas!  I cannot even wrap my mind around the vulnerability and heartache that it must be to not be able to bring your child home to care for them.

So!  This girl who is on my agency's private FB page (they started out pursuing an Ethiopian adoption and ended up finding their daughter in DRC and switched to pursue her adoption)...I've been following her blog and FB updates and my heart feels like it's just going to burst.  If you want to check out her blog see it here:  http://www.blessingsandraindrops.com

People have banded together and are signing petitions and sending letters to congress asking for attention to be brought to the plight of these children.  Children with homes and families ready and waiting for them who are stuck month after month in an institution waiting for a signature on a piece of paper.  To add your voice to those of thousands of others flooding congress, go here: http://www.petition2congress.com/14960/please-help-resolve-pending-adoptions-from-democratic-republic-co/?m=5272303

You don't have to be an adoptive parent, or a parent at all, to recognize the plight of all parties involved here.  Please take a moment to do something to help these families and innocent children by making yourself aware, signing the petition, and then (perhaps most importantly of all) petitioning our Lord.  My heart aches for these children in need of families, and even more so knowing that these children HAVE families and should be with them now.

There is not much that I can do to speed up the progress of our adoption.  We have years to wait.  I can read books, learn about our child's birth country, keep up on legal proceedings, renew paperwork, and day dream...but while I'm waiting I can do things to help other children find their way to their waiting families.  Children stuck in limbo.  This is something that needs attention now.  Immediately.  And if you've taken the time to read this post, you must feel moved to do something yourself...so don't wait - do it now!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

18 months ago...

First let me say that I don't have anything much newsy to tell, but today marks the day exactly a year and 1/2 ago that we finally pulled the trigger and anxiously submitted our preliminary application to AGCI to adopt through their Ethiopia program.  We had no idea at the time that our application process would drag on or that our wait time would triple from what we were being told at the time.  Alas, today is some sort of milestone of taking that first step.  The first step in the right direction to finding our daughter.

In other news, our caseworker Toni with AGCI recently announced that she is engaged.  Getting married marks the beginning of some changes for her and so she announced her decision to leave AGCI.  All of "her families" will be taken over by the other caseworker Julie.  Time will tell if she will stay as the only caseworker for so many families.  Things are progressing slowly, so I'm sure that helps her juggle things...my hope would be that things eventually will pick up pace again (someday??!) and that will warrant them hiring another caseworker to help Julie out.  Nothing against Julie, I've never met her, but it can't be a good sign to see them cut back a second Ethiopia caseworker without replacing her (if that is indeed what happens).  Anyway, Julie will technically be our third caseworker with AGCI (not counting our inquiry coordinator that we worked with at first or the caseworker with our homestudy agency).

Not much else to say except that I attended a really nice women's meeting with other members of our church (it was broadcast worldwide) and seeing all those moms with their little girls (girls 8 and older were invited) as well as a couple videos that were shown at the meeting made me ache a little bit for my little girl that is yet to even be born on the other side of the world.  Sometimes I crave certainty and assurance (something the journey of adoption is stingy in providing), but I look forward to the day that I will be able to do mother-daughter things with our little girl someday.

Someday.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ethiopian food

Background:  I tried Ethiopian food for the first time while visiting Mark's sister and family in Colorado over 6 years ago.  I was pregnant with Lincoln and was just getting over morning sickness.  I was enjoying our meal and all of the sudden something (the sour taste of the injera perhaps?) triggered something and I barfed right there at the table.  I was so embarrassed.  So, I have waited several years to try Ethiopian food again, but decided that now was a good time!

We have three Ethiopian restaurants in Salt Lake City and I decided that we need to try all three, pick a favorite and get familiar with some of the traditional dishes of our daughters birth country!  So, this weekend Mark and I went to The Blue Nile and enjoyed a date night!  We wanted to try a vegetarian and meat sampler plate and there was a plate on the menu that combined both as well as a flaky lentil pastry appetizer (which was delicious)!
Everything was delicious, however if I was forced to pick I actually preferred the vegetarian dishes to the meat ones and the variety was part of what made it so tasty.  The injera is a bit of an acquired taste, but it compliments the food well (I wouldn't really enjoy eating it by itself though).  I read someone say once that injera is like memory foam and sour dough bread got together and made a baby.  Kind of funny, but true.  Injera is a sour crepe like bread that you tear of and use to scoop up your food (you eat with your hands obviously).  We found the whole process really enjoyable and loved our meal.  I look forward to becoming more familiar with the dishes and learning to cook some myself.  

As I have traveled, I have found food to be an integral part of culture and while I haven't always loved every food I've tried in various parts of the world (many of it I have!), I do think it's as important to experience food (to truly understand a culture) as it is to be familiar with their language, clothing, or traditions.  What a beautiful culture that our family has the privilege to become intimately familiar with!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Just rumors, but hey...

I figure that if I use this blog to vent the upsetting or nerve wracking rumors, then I can use it for the positive ones before they've been confirmed too!  The rumor mill is saying that they have heard that MOWA is considering revoking the additional regional clearance requirement that was implemented, which helps speed up the process a wee-bit and would free up children in regions like Tigray that have been simply stuck ready and waiting for adoption without regional clearance.  What wonderful (potential) news for these children and for families ready and waiting to bring them home!  I will be sure to share if I hear this information officially confirmed...

Friday, February 21, 2014

The boys' side of things

My thoughts surrounding this adoption are often tainted with worry and fret right now.  Every now and then I indulge myself in daydreaming about her being here, thinking about her nursery, or mommy/daughter things that we'll do someday.

Our boys obviously experience this process differently that we do (as they should).  They don't worry the same way I do, but there isn't a day that goes by that either Noah or Lincoln doesn't say something about "baby girl".  Whether it's in their prayers, a name suggestion, or pointing out someone that baby girl could look like someday.

Yesterday, out of the blue, Noah said to me..."Mom, even though it's not what I normally like - when baby girl comes home I will love to sit with her and watch princess shows."  It was a sweet gesture at him expressing that he will want to help and please her, and I found it so endearing.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Not looking good

Maybe I'm a pessimist...I like to think I'm a realist, but you know.  Either way I tend to try and prepare myself for the worst case scenario for most things in life.  I know that at times that has helped me out...like when I had my purse, keys and wedding album all ready to grab in case of a fire at night.  What is the likelihood of actually encountering that kind of disaster you may ask?  I don't know, but one fateful night our apartment DID have a fire and I was ready to go in a split second.  We had to duck out past black smoke and flames and were the only ones in our whole apartment building that had time to grab anything.  Plus our car happened to be parked in front of the area the fire truck needed to be able to best fight the fire and because we had keys we were able to move our car. 

Anyway!  That being said, sometimes I do worry too much unnecessarily too.  I recognize that.  I also struggle knowing when the worry is founded and when it's not.  When it comes to this adoption I struggle knowing what is a normal flux within the turbulent unreliable state of international adoptions, and when the writing is on the walls for total heartbreak.  I'm not feeling very optomistic the last couple of days.  Other than just the bomb that our wait has increased to 6 years, here are a few more reasons:

Another agency IAG was just indited on adoption fraud charges.  See info here.  While I'm grateful to have one of these horrible agencies being held accountable, my heart breaks for the children and families caught in the middle of it and also because it is just one more reason for the government in Ethiopia to feel resentful of and cautious of the benefits of international adoption from their country.

I just found out yesterday that CHSFS (another agency) has declared that they are no longer processing any adoptions from Ethiopia, and hear through the rumor mill online today that AAI will be following suit soon too.  I don't know these agency's reasons for stopping adoptions from Ethiopia on their own, but it's not a good sign I don't think.

I feel so sick to my stomach about this.  Sick at the trying to wrap my mind around the need that is there (and in so many places around the world!) for families for these children and the prospect of that need not being filled...and of course I feel sick at even the idea of our little girl not coming home to us from Ethiopia someday.  I know only time will tell and we'll hold on unless we're forced not to, but that realist side of me has really been a downer lately.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Estimated wait time increase (again)

I've got a pounding stress headache and haven't had time to process everything today (since life still goes on spinning and there's ton to do with 3 wonderful little boys to care for)...but I attended a webinar with our adoption agency today.  Among other things discussed today was their recalculated assessment of the current estimated wait time (from dossier submission to referral - so tack on the paper chase as well as time from referral to clearance to come home also).

Mind you, when we signed on with the agency the estimate was 24 months.  Later it became 3 to 3 1/2 years.  Today a real bomb dropped.  They gave an estimate of 4-6 years.  For families like us who are waiting for a 0-12 month old child it will likely be more near the 6 year mark.  I cannot even process that information properly right now.  I vacillate between sarcastic non-shock, anger, and wanting to cry (sometimes between all 3 feelings in less than a minute).  Because I don't even know how I feel I haven't talked to anyone about it yet, but I thought I'd barf out the basic information onto the blog right now anyway.

The AGCI Ethiopia facebook page has been all a-buzz today.  Lots of people freaking out.  The agency is also allowing families to transfer their $6,000 agency fee to another program within AGCI (which is not normally an option) between now and the end of March, so some people are feeling frenzied about what to do between the extended estimated wait time, the unstable adoption climate in Ethiopia, and now the lure of not losing 6K if transferring to another program now (versus say if Ethiopia were to close to adoption down the road).

I feel so drained, confused, emotional...and unsure how I can deal with this roller coaster for nearly 6 more years.

Can I?

I keep asking myself that...and honestly, even though I don't want it to take that long if I knew that it would happen in the end I'd buckle down and say yes, but there's that looming "what if" around adoptions closing down the road in Ethiopia...or the wait taking even longer.

Oh if it just weren't for the greed and corruption that people have indulged themselves in, then children who need homes would be finding their way into families that ache for them so much more quickly.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Good news!

I heard hopeful words from a friend yesterday (about Ethiopia adoptions).  She talked to a caseworker from another agency who said that she heard positive news through the grapevine.  I felt hopeful, but cautious.

Today I received my regular email update from Rainbow Kids and it contained this tid-bit:


"Very positive news coming from Ethiopia. Yesterday Minister Zenebu, along with other high level MOWCYA officials, met with agency network representatives. In this meeting it was clearly expressed from Minister Zenebu that she does not plan to work to stop adoptions, but desires to focus on eliminating bad practice in Ethiopian adoptions and focus on good practice. She stated that both MOWCYA and the Ethiopian Government do not plan to shut down adoptions within Ethiopia. She encouraged agencies to continue their work as normal."

Then, just 30 minutes later I received this email from our agency (AGCI):


"Dear Ethiopia families,

This week an AGCI representative had the opportunity to meet in Ethiopia with the head of Network ministry to hear and discuss first hand the status of adoption in Ethiopia. The overall sentiment on adoption is that all parties want to avoid closure. The good news is that yesterday there was a meeting scheduled between the minister of MOWA and the network executives and the minister expressed his support of ethical adoptions numerous times. From that meeting it does not appear adoption is on the brink of closure, however there is still great instability in international adoption due to corruption and public perception of the process. AGCI continues to see drastic slowdowns on referrals and processing of paperwork.

An example of these type of slowdowns become evident with the seven children we have been caring for in the Tigray region for the past 14 months. This fall we believed we were in the final stages of their abandonment process. Unfortunately, last month the federal government decided to take over all cases from the regional governments. This means almost all of the children will start the abandonment process completely over. These types of delays are devastating for the children and it is so frustrating as we watch you wait to welcome them home.

As we continue to gather more information from the meetings taking place this week we will pass it on. Please know that AGCI remains invested in Ethiopia and with you during these uncertain times. We are here for you, and we want to support you in every way we can."

This is very, very good news from my perspective.  We are by no means home free with the long wait ahead of us and the constant state of uncertainty within the international adoption process...but we knew that much going in to things.  The more acute possibility of a pending closure of Ethiopian adoptions (based on the statements made by influential officials in Ethiopia just over a month ago) has left me in a heightened state of worry the last month.  The only thing I have to compare it to is this:

I had scares with both of my pregnancies, but I'd like to share the one with Max.  After getting pregnant with Max (after a rough round of in-vetro) I was driving one day and had to pull over the car doubled over in pain.  Mark was out of town so I had to get some friends from church to come pick me up and take me to the emergency room.  There I found out that I was also bleeding and was told there was a good chance I would miscarry, but that nothing could be done so early in my pregnancy and I would just have to wait it out.  I was worried, scared, sad, and while I had hope I felt unjustified in allowing myself to picture life with him and didn't feel "allowed" to do things like imagine the nursery or talk about baby names.  It wasn't until things subsided and I was later able to see my baby (and his heartbeat) on the ultrasound at my doctor's office that I felt reassured.  While waiting for that doctor's visit I had no control over things, and worry wasn't productive...but worry I did.  Did the acute danger of miscarriage passing guarantee that I would carry to term?  Of course not.  No woman has that guarantee.  But even with the possibility always being in the back of my mind it was possible to put that fear aside, relish in preparations to welcome him, and to anticipate the day this little peanut would join our family.

That is all I was hoping for with this situation.  Do we have a guarantee that this will all work out the way we plan and that this little girl will eventually join our family?  Unfortunately not.  But I feel like we are out of the acute danger zone now, and now I am "allowed" to get back to planning her nursery, daydreaming of girlie things, and researching all sorts of odds and ends as we anticipate her joining our family.  Will the concern of things going wrong still be in the back of my mind - sure, but I'd rather it was in the back of my mind than consuming all my thoughts.

Thank you so much to all those of you that have included us and the government leaders in Ethiopia in your prayers and fasts in various capacities...and even to those of you who have just continued to ask how things are going.  We can't tell you how much those things mean to us.  We have a very long journey ahead of us, and while we feel over the moon right now we are also not oblivious to the fact that there will still be bumps in the road that will come up.  We're so grateful to have such wonderful family, friends, and neighbors who support us during this roller coaster process that adoption is.

We continue to pray for all involved in the adoption process from those in government, running orphanages and agencies, but most of all the children in need of families and homes.  We hold hope that in the long run there will be more and more families within Ethiopia in the position to be able to care for their children themselves, but until that major social and economical change has occurred we pray for these children to find their way into loving homes wherever they may be...and we look forward to the day our little one will come home and be a blessing in our lives. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Just a feeling post

The aforementioned meeting in Ethiopia should have happened by now (since it's after 9pm there right now).  I have no idea when our agency will pass on what (if anything) concrete came out of that meeting.  I woke up feeling nervous this morning knowing the meeting was today.  Anyway, no update now.  I just needed to regurgitate my feelings somewhere and this blog seemed like the best place to do so.

Also, I saw this picture on facebook today and liked it.  It applies to all of us with life in general, but made me think specifically about our journeys to add children to our family (specifically this one right now):
 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Some love for my wall, but not much else to share

I've had several kind people ask if there is any news on our adoption, but other than the little tid-bits that I've already shared on this blog, there is nothing. I've adopted the mindset at this point that no news is good news.  We'll see if anything comes of this meeting on Monday though.

I think and pray all of the time about this, but amidst the uncertainty I've had to make a conscious decision to try and just proceed as if this is just a speed-bump and that it will all work out.  I hope that is the case.  So although the current situation puts a damper on some of my exuberance, I'm still going to share some love that went up this week on our walls that relates to our baby girl.  About a month ago I shared my excitement about a piece of art that I'd been wanting for some time which I got for my birthday.  We finally got it back from the place that framed it for us and it's hung in our front room now.  I stare at it several times a day, and remember that this whole process truly is in His hands.

Another thing I'd been waiting to hang in our entry way was this digital file that I purchased and printed out.  The smaller words you see are cities in Ethiopia.  Maybe our baby girl will be born in one of them...
We put that print in a "place-holding frame" (that's what I'm calling it) and put it on the wall in the entry alongside photos of our other three kiddos.  Someday I pray that I'll be able to replace that print with a picture of our baby girl.

So, that's all I have for now.  No real answers, just more hoping while we wait.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Update-ish

I took part in our adoption agency's Ethiopia program webinar this morning.  I'll admit that I almost threw up before it started because I was so nervous about what I would hear.  I'll cut right to the chase and say that we didn't really get any new news.  I'm running with no news is good news...because what else can I really do, right?

Anyway, they basically went over the same information we already know and explained a bit more about the meeting that will be held on the 27th in Ethiopia.  The only information they shared that was actually new to me was this...Apparently after the December 26th announcement there was a statement floating around about a follow-up meeting that was to occur 10 days later.  That meeting was finally scheduled for last Monday, but it was postponed.  Of course I want to read in to that, but what's the point in doing that?

I think about our baby girl 100 times every day.  When I do she has chocolate brown skin, dark tight curls, and big brown eyes.  Waiting isn't fun, but I could handle it so much better if I knew that this child that I have fallen in love with in my mind would actually find her way into my arms.  The unknown is just so dang hard.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Racism

Yep.  As a white girl, I'm attacking a post on that word.

First, let me begin by explaining why I am writing this post.  I am a member of a book club with some friends that I really enjoy getting together with and discussing books that we have chosen to read.  In October I was hosting that month’s meeting on a book called the Book Thief.  It’s actually a WWII novel (which I loved, as a side-note) and during one part of the discussion the question was posed by someone asking the group if we felt racism was still an issue today.  Fair question.  I ignorantly assumed that everyone would agree in the affirmative that it is, but was surprised to find that wasn’t the case.  Everyone comes with their own experiences and different points of view, which I can respect…but I became surprised with how uncomfortable I became hearing people say that they just didn’t think it was an issue in our country anymore, or that at least things are so much better than 150 years ago.  For a blond haired, little white girl I was surprised to note the emotions brewing within me during this topic and I tried to not say anything too emotionally charged.  I expressed my opinion and others politely disagreed.  I felt that things were amiable, as they should be, and we moved on.  I couldn’t even tell you now which ladies expressed which opinions.  Unfortunately, the words from that conversation have bounced around in my head for the last 2+ months nagging at me.  Then the other day I came across this article and it hit a little too close to home:


I’ll summarize…A white mother was flying on an airplane with her adopted black (19 month old) toddler.  The baby began to scream during the planes descent due to pressure in his ears.  The man sitting next to the woman told the mother twice to "shut that (N-word) baby up" and then slapped the baby across the face.  Now, I will concede that the man was going through extenuating circumstances with a terminally ill child and I feel for him for that…I could even dismiss some level of him losing his temper due to those circumstances if it weren’t for him laying his hand on the child and for the racial slurs involved.  While I do not pretend to know how I would respond to the kind of stress this man was under, I can guarantee that it would not involve racial slurs.  The fact that this man resorted to those kind of thoughts and words under emotional stress still shows me that those were part of his deeply rooted mindset and outlook, whether he normally expressed them out loud or not.

This story would have angered me regardless of the make-up of this child’s family, but perhaps it hit even closer to home that this was an interracial adoption, as we are trying so hard to pursue ours.  Add on top of that me having just barely finished a civil war novel called 'Candle in the Darkness' (by Jane Austin) and all those feelings and thoughts that I’ve had over the last couple months needed an outlet.  There was one part of that novel where a girl from the south who was a sympathizer for the slaves moved to the North.  During one conversation she had she pointed out to an active abolitionist (white) reverend that while she believed in freedom for the slaves, that the prejudice and discrimination she saw in the North toward the free black people there wasn’t really that different in concept.

So, all that got me thinking back to the conversation at our book club where people were talking about “how much better things are now” for blacks.  This quote perfectly summarizes my opinion on that subject:

“I truly believe “Are things better?” is one of the most useless questions in a discussion about racism. It’s another in a repertoire of rhetorical tricks we use in this country to avoid the hard work of addressing racism in its modern form. By reframing the conversation around how much progress has been made, we further the false narrative that racism is a problem that belongs to history. While we pat ourselves on the back for not being as horrible as we once were, we allow racism to become further entrenched in every aspect of American life.”

The full blog post that I pulled that quote from can be found here.  It’s worth a read, but here is where I give my blanket apology for some of the language contained in a couple of the links I’m going to provide.  Obviously, the news stories provided have clean language, but some of the opinion pieces (and on such an emotionally charged subject) like this one do contain language so…if that offends you then I guess don’t read those! :):  http://www.thenation.com/blog/177330/yes-america-has-gotten-better-about-racism-it-really-doesnt-matter#

I do believe there is wisdom in celebrating heroes in the civil rights movement and recognizing progress, but I also agree with the author of the previous quote that often people (perhaps sometimes unknowingly) hide behind the guise of progress in order to face current problems of racism today.  And mitigating those modern problems is, in my opinion, offensive to those that have to face them.

Another term that really irks me is when people claim with pride to be “color blind”.  I do not see that as a positive end goal to achieve.  I believe the diversity in our races and ethnicities should be recognized and celebrated, not ignored.  In comparison, I am proud of being a woman and while I do want respect and equal opportunities as a woman, I do not want to be viewed as a genderless entity.  Similarly, I do not believe that most people of color want to be viewed as colorless.  Rather, I believe their race is part of who they are but shouldn’t define their abilities and opportunities or the respect they receive.


"Being 'color blind' has somehow become an excuse for being blind to racism. It has become a way for white Americans to discount the very much present racist experiences of persons of color in this country.

That quote is from a great article titled, "I'm a White Kid from Texas, and I can tell you: Racism is Still a Thing"  Well said.


The following video that accompanies this article about Forest Whitaker being accused of shoplifting is well spoken.  There are several parts I like, but especially the part where Etan Thomas says that he doesn’t want people to look at him and “see a blank space” (being so called color-blind), that he is a black man and proud to be…but that there needs to be respect.


On to some examples.  I could start a very long list of racial profiling by the police.  Now this isn’t meant to be an anti-police statement, but it shows that the prejudice and racism still alive in our country carries over into our police force, often with deadly consequences.  Two huge examples of this both occurred in the U.S. during my time living in Germany as a missionary for my church.  Not only was I abroad, but I did not have access to television, internet or newspapers.  So, I learned of the tragic stories of Amadou Diallo and Patrick Dorismond later.  They were both victims of wrongful shootings by undercover police officers.  Both men were unarmed and wrongfully accused.  Amadou was a recent immigrant from West Africa here pursuing the American dream and sending most of his wages as a street peddler home to Africa.  He was shot 41 times in front of his own apartment as he reached for his wallet to identify himself when approached by undercover cops who thought he was a wanted man.  41 shots, people.

Patrick was having a drink with a friend in front of a cocktail lounge when they were approached by two undercover cops who asked him where to buy drugs.  This naturally offended this security guard and father of two and a heated argument led to a scuffle, followed by the police officer pulling his gun and shooting Patrick to death.  Neither Patrick nor his friend were armed.

If 13 years ago isn’t recent enough for you, I can give you one from just 4 months ago…in North Carolina 24 year old Jonathan Ferrell was driving early in the morning and was in a severe car accident, he escaped and ran to a nearby home for help, banging on the door.  The woman didn’t know him and called 911.  When Jonathan soon saw responding officers he ran to them for help and was subsequently tasered and then shot dead.  By the people whose job it was to protect and serve him.  Of course Jonathan was unarmed.

You want one not police related?  Ok, last September in Florida a 17 year old boy (Jordan Davis) was playing loud music with 3 other friends at a gas station. He was approached by a white, middle aged man who demanded that they turned down their music and like most teenage boys when talked to that way an argument ensued…but this was followed by this man pulling his gun and shooting inside their vehicle 9 times and killing one of the boys.  And, yes, they were all unarmed.  His racist ignorance continues in multiple letters that he has written from prison – a few of them are quoted in this article:
http://thegrio.com/2013/10/18/jordan-davis-shooter-writes-shockingly-racist-letters-from-jail/ 

I could of course continue with examples, and while all of the victims deserve to have their names remembered, my point in sharing these is just to show a few of the examples (albeit extreme ones) of racism that still are part of our society today.

As a white girl growing up in a predominantly white town, I don’t pretend to be able to look at things from the perspective that someone with black skin would…but that is exactly what I have been trying to do more over the last few years as we have pursued our daughter's adoption and therefore becoming a multi-racial family.   

Let me be very clear, we are NOT pursuing this adoption with some sort of savior’s complex, or because we feel it is our duty, or to make up for “white guilt”.  We aren’t pursuing this adoption in any way BECAUSE our daughter will be black, but we believe that all children everywhere deserve a home and a family and since our journey at this time has guided us to Africa and we know our daughter will be black we feel it our duty to try as best we can to try and view the world from her eyes and see how she will experience things.   

While her skin color (and the culture she came from) won’t define her, it will be a part of what will make up the beautiful person that she is and we plan to celebrate that.  Also, just because we will see her, accept her, and love her for who she is (and we believe the majority of people in our community will also) it doesn’t mean that she won’t encounter racism during her life.  She will.  And to ignore that because it is uncomfortable or because we don’t personally have those views only does her a disservice.  If she is able to predominantly escape the hateful, scorning side of racism for most of her life we will be grateful…but even at that there are small things that we as white people tend to not notice through our lens of looking at the world.  For a lighter example of this, please watch this video (by Micah Bournes) that touches on the humor of what is “normal” by giving an example from a label on a hair product.  Seriously, watch this clip:
"Normal Hair"


So, I mean no disrespect to my fellow book club ladies that I love spending time with and getting to know.  And while one of the things I like at a book club is lively conversation and even differing opinions, I tend to feel a little bit of disappointment when I hear some of them say that they don’t believe racism is a problem anymore in America.  While I am pleased to surround myself with people that aren’t bigots themselves, it saddens me to hear that people aren’t aware that there is still racism in our country.  Unfortunately, there simply is.  It comes in the form of hate, violence, stereotypes, being snubbed, and sometimes just ignorance.  Sometimes people are outspoken about their racial views, and sometimes they cowardly express them anonymously through various online sources.  For example, take a look at this seemingly harmless picture of a daddy getting his daughter ready in the morning and read what some of the responses were when he posted it online:

(The dad’s regular blog that he normally keeps is at http://daddydoinwork.com/)

Raising up my voice that racism indeed exists is only a small part of the ongoing effort to eliminate racism, and I am sure that I will continue over the years to become aware of more and more ways to view the world through a colored lens...whether that has to do with the way my shampoo is labeled, or my crayons are labeled...
...my hope is that I will welcome those sometimes uncomfortable realizations that I had perhaps not before seen.  I also hope that people will be willing to recognize that just because you don't experience it yourself, or perhaps because it's simply uncomfortable to admit, that racism actually is unfortunately still thriving.  Yes even in the good ol' U.S. of A.