Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Flashback: First Call with Sara (our Caseworker)

Flashbacks are fun stories or memories from our paperchase phase that never made it to the blog.

Once families are "Gladney Approved" (when the Home Study is finished), they are assigned a Caseworker.  Our Caseworker is Sara, and we love her.  I'm sure there are many things a caseworker does that I don't know about, but the one thing she will do that is super important to me is that she is the one who will call us when we receive our referral.  She will tell us all about our little one - if it's a boy or a girl, how hold he/she is, all about his/her story, health information, etc.  OH!  And pictures - she'll send us pictures!  (OK, I'm back.  Got lost in a nice little daydream about how great that day will be!)

Anyway, once we were Gladney Approved, Sara wanted to have a call with us so she could get to know us and talk about some specific preferences or expectations we might have.  We talked for an hour and there's a lot I don't remember about that call, but a couple of things REALLY stuck with me that I wanted to share....

I don't know what the actual percentage is, but it turns out there are lots of children whose real birthdays Gladney never really knows.  An obvious reason is if the child is abandoned.  If somebody just leaves a baby where someone else will find it, there is no way to know exactly when the child was born.  A doctor willl guess at the age of the baby and a "birthday" will be determined based on the approximate age.  So, if a baby is abandoned today, and a doctor estimates it to be about 3 months old, then it's "birthday" would be April 28. 

Another reason that was not as obvious to me is that not all Ethiopians keep track of time like we do.  If an aunt places a baby for adoption, she might not even remember the date he was born.  She might say he's 5 months old, when it's clear to everyone that he cannot possibly be that old.  BUT, because the aunt says he's 5 months old, then his official "birthday" becomes February 28. 

Isnt' that crazy?!  I've had to come to terms with the fact that we may never really know our child's actual birthday.  I'm sure for a lot of people that's not a big deal, but I've really grieved that (and still am) for him/her.  I know that we AND our child will GAIN so much through this adoption, but almost every day I'm reminded of so much that our child will lose.   I want him/her to know as much as possible about Ethiopia and their life before they came to live with us that it just makes me so sad that they might not ever know something as (seemingly) simple as what day they were born. 

The Story
Before we talked to Sara, we hadn't given much thought to what our child's story might be.  And, other than thinking I probably wouldn't post it on the blog for the world to read, I hadn't really thought about not sharing it with people - even our close friends and family.  But talking to Sara that day helped us understand that a) it's our child's story; and b) it's our job above all to protect our child.  Maybe the details of his/her story shouldn't be everybody's business.  And really, that makes a lot of sense to me.  Think about it: would you want everybody to know all the gory details of your life before you could really understand them?  Of course not! 

Obviously, as this point, we don't know what our child's story will be, so we really have no way of knowing how much of the story we'll share, and with whom we'll share it.  But we hope that if you are a close friend or family member, and we don't share with you all of the details of how our child was orphaned, that you'll understand it's because it's our child's story and we want him/her to know the details first - it's NOT because we don't love or trust you.  The most important thing is that we will have a new little member of our family to LOVE!

I think that's enough of the "heavy" for tonight.  Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

One Month!

Can you believe it?  As of today, we have been on the Wait List for one whole month!  The time has flown by.  I can only HOPE the next 8-ish months will fly by just as quickly : )

I thought I'd use our monthly updates to introduce you to the friends and family that have journeyed with us so far and are looking forward to us bringing home our little one almost as much as we are.

For my One Month post, I introduce to you the M family (minus M [dad]).

Be sure to click this photo and enlarge it so you can see the expression on Big A's face.  Priceless!

A closer veiw of Big A with the "1" that you couldn't really make out in the picture above.

We first met them about 4 years ago at church.  We quickly became friends and fell in love with Big A.  He affectionately began to refer to us as Uncle and Tata Wiggles.  [I know, it's horrible.]  Since they are Kenyan, they use the Swahili word for "Aunt" - "Tata".  As for the "Wiggles" part... 

I used to host a ladies Bible study each week at our house.  Many nights, J would have to bring Big A with her because M was still at work.  I always felt bad about Big A watching the Wiggles all alone in the guest bedroom, so I'd ask Rob to go hang out with him.  VERY quickly, Rob learned all of the songs and began singing them along with Big A and the Wiggles.  Thus, the birth of "Uncle Wiggles" and by default, "Tata Wiggles."  I always hoped that by the time Little A was old enough to talk, he would just call us "Uncle" and "Tata," but no such luck.  He is now watching the Wiggles just as much as his brother did, and even though he's never watched them with Rob, has figured out that we are, in fact, Uncle and Tata Wiggles.

Anyway, I can't begin to tell you how much I love these people.  And I'm really going to miss them when they leave for Kenya next week for a YEAR!  But I'm also so stinkin' jealous.  J's mom passed away in the fall.  She did a lot of work with some orphanages in Kenya, and J wants to continue the work that her mom started.  I have a tremendous respect for that, so it is with a little sadness and A LOT of joy that we send them off, knowing that God will bless their obedience, service and sacrifice.

For now, though, enjoy some of my favorite pictures of the M family throughout the 4-ish years we have known them.  (Tip: You might want to watch the video in full screen mode, otherwise some of the pictures and text are cut off.)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Flashback: Mother's Day

I didn't really blog very much during our paperchase phase.  I guess I didn't think there was much to blog about.  Or maybe we were so busy that I didn't take the time to blog about what was happening.  Now that we're into the official waiting period, I've had time to think back over the last several months, and I've remembered lots of things I'd like to record for posterity, and tell all of you about too.

This is the first of series of posts entitled "Flashbacks."  Flashbacks are fun stories or memories from our paperchase phase that never made it to the blog.

Flashback: Mother's Day

Let's be honest.  I have the hardest time shopping for our moms.  We don't live near either one of them, so I don't really know the types of things that are useful to them on a day to day basis.  Last year I went to Bath and Bodyworks and made little gift baskets for them.  They seemed to really like those, so I was thinking about some other type of gift basket, but didn't want to do ANOTHER Bath and Bodyworks basket, so I solicited Rob for ideas. 

He called me at work one day and suggested some type of adoptive grandmother gift basket.  I can't remember what all he wanted to include in it, but it was a bunch of Ethiopia-related stuff.  While I thought it was a GREAT idea, I didn't relish the thought of having to track down all the stuff he wanted to put in there.  You see, I'm not a shopper.  Hate it.  Wish I had a personal shopper.  Which is largely why Rob does the grocery shopping - he LOVES (or at least really likes) to shop.  Anyway, I digress...

The Ethiopia gift basket idea led to what we actually gave our moms for Mother's Day:  T-shirts.  Super cute t-shirts with Africa on them and a heart over Ethiopia - made by Laura at Pitter Patter Art.

Here is the shirt we sent to Rob's mom:

Here is the shirt we sent to my mom:

And here is a picture of my mom wearing her shirt:

Here's the thing that cracks me up about this picture.  It was clearly taken by my dad from the comfort of his recliner!  And I'm pretty sure he used Mom's cell phone!  I don't know why that makes me laugh so hard, but it does : )  But seriously, how cute does "Lolly" look in her new shirt?!

I would encourage everyone to go check out the Pitter Patter Art blog/website.  You can also "like" her page on facebook...  And then order something! 

Since Mother's Day, I've also ordered a baby gift for a friend:

At some point, I need to send Laura a shirt and have her make one for me, but I just haven't gotten around to it yet.  Ah well, I have plenty of time.

Stay tuned for our next Flashback and the One Month Post!

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Glimpse of Ethiopia

I know so many of our friends and family probably have no concept of what Ethiopia is really like.  Let me tell you, untiil I started reading so many blogs a couple of years ago, I had no idea either.  Our friends even joked with us recently about wearing video cameras on our foreheads the whole time we're over there so they can see everything! 

Well, I recently found the mother-load of Gladney blogs on the Gladney website.  As I was looking around, I stumbled upon this family.   They have been home with their two-year-old twin boys for a couple of months now, and did such an amazing job capturing so much about their time in Ethiopia that I wrote to Heidi and asked if she would allow me to post links to each of her posts, and she graciously agreed. 

They were fortunate enough to pass court before the two-trip requirement was effective, so our trips will be a little different from theirs.  From what I understand, our first trip will be mostly sight-seeing, attending court and spending time with the baby for three, one-hour visits.  The second trip, we'll be given the baby, so we'll just spend time bonding and attend our Embassy appointment to get the baby's visa to come home. 

So, without further ado, here are the links I promised.  Enjoy all of the pictures, videos and stories of their trip to Ethiopia!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Not-So-Extreme Home Makeover

As I explained in my previous post, I've been pretty worried about what we're going to do with all of the toys that will be coming our way.  We've lived in this house for 5 years and it's full of all of MY stuff, there isn't a whole lot of room for any MORE stuff :)  So, I've been on this mental rampage trying to figure out how we can better organize our house so that we can incorporate the baby and all the STUFF that comes along with a baby.

Up until this weekend, this is what our office looked like:

I took this photo three and a half years ago when we decorated the office the FIRST time.  It was nice, yes, but I never liked the paint color (it had a green-ish tint - ew!) and with the advent of netbooks and iphones, we rarely ventured in there to actually use the computer.

So, I decided we needed less of an office, and more of a sitting room / play room / office.  We worked all four days of our long weekend, but I'm happy to say we have a finished product. 

This is the view from the foyer

A closer view of the desk wall.

Closer view of the chairs and ottoman.

The shelf where the toys will go. 
Rob says it looks too orderly.  That may be true, but I'm sure once we add a kid to the mix, there will be much more chaos.  I'm OK with order for now.

Looking into the foyer

One last look at the curtains. 
If I didn't tell you, would you know that they are SHOWER curtains??  I didn't think so :)

All in all, I'm REALLY pleased with how everything turned out.  The shelves, chairs and ottoman all came from IKEA and they were very time-consuming to put together, but SO worth it.  There were so many times over the course of the weekend, that I found myself feeling very thankful for the privilege of being able to do all of this because we have a new little one coming into our home.  We are so blessed.

Stay tuned for more redecorating projects!  We still have a nursery to work on :)