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Monday, August 30, 2010

FOUR MONTHS and a fun GIVEAWAY!

Four months on the wait list AND Riley turns four in September!

Wow. Here we are sitting at four months on the wait list.

We're still in the stage where there is NO way we could get a phone call with a referral so the wait isn't agonizing yet.  But we started the whole process in December. Nine months ago. A pregnancy ago. I think that might be why I'm not waiting quite as calmly.

Right now, the average wait time for a child under 12 months old is 9 months and the wait time for a child 13 months or older is 8 months.  I'm guessing that means (if nothing changes) that we are smack dab in the middle of our wait. Sigh.

BUT... as you all know, I stalk the Gladney FBI, which is the unofficial wait list for our agency. We are sitting pretty as #22 on the list and number FOUR for a boy! FOUR!!!

Lately I've been wondering how many people actually read our blog! I kinda thought it was only a few close friends and family but then while on our Heart for Africa trip a few people mentioned to Rob that they're reading the blog. So it is time to find out who all is really out there...

you know you want one

Want one of these? Leave a comment and you'll be entered into a raffle to win one! I'll put the names of everyone who comments (make sure your name is part of your comment) into a hat and I'll pick one to be the lucky winner!  I'm about to have these available in my etsy store and I thought this would be a fun way to kick it off!

That is your mission. You have one week! I'll announce the winner on September 6th!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Crunching the numbers

I haven't had a true UPDATE post in awhile. Mostly because there really aren't any updates when you're on the waiting list. And trust me, when we have THE news, everyone will hear about it!!! Based on my shout when I got the email that we were finally on the waiting list, I have a feeling my neighbors might come running when we finally get our referral!

But here are the latest "numbers" of our adoption story:
We're still waiting for a little boy aged 0-18 months at the time of referral.
We've been on the wait list 3 1/2 months, but began the whole process 8 months ago. No wonder I'm starting to feel antsy... I was in my last month of pregnancy by this time with my first two kids!
We are still sitting UNOFFICIALLY at #24 (if you don't count the family at the top who is "on hold").
On that UNOFFICIAL wait list, we are actually #6 for a boy 0-18 months.
The average wait times have gotten longer. When we first started the process, the wait times were 8 months for a child under 12 months old and 5-6 months for a child 13 months old or older. 
Right now, the wait is 9 months for a child under 12 months old and 8 months for 13 months old or older.

Those little dreams I had of getting a referral this fall aren't possible right now. But I am trying to be patient. I know that God knows my child. He knows where he is and what he's doing.  He sees my child when I cannot.  For now I'm trying to be content with the privilege of praying for him until I have the privilege of seeing his face.

and maybe I'll get a referral for Christmas :)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

"You are MOMMY!"

Yesterday my baby girl turned 2. I love watching my kids grow up.  I did allow myself a moment yesterday to grieve the loss of her baby phase but I really strive to focus on the moments right now instead of missing the past. I have a friend with two boys - one just graduated from college and got married and the other is headed off to college. She has the best attitude towards her kids growing up - she enjoys them right where they are and finds joy in each phase! And she managed that through their teen years!  I want to grow up with my kids that way.

I always get a kick out of asking my kids for our "adult" names. Last night, I was trying to see if Allyn would say that my name is "Kirstin."  Riley knows our names so he was telling Allyn that Mommy is "Kirstin." Allyn turned to me and said "NO!"  I asked, "I'm not Kirstin?" and she responded, "No! You are MOMMY!"

But she is right in so many ways. When you become a mother, everything changes. It changes in the moment you see the little lines on that pee-stick-thing, the moment you hear a heartbeat, and the moment they really let you walk out the door of the hospital to take the baby home all by yourself (as if you have any clue what you're doing!).  And when you are adopting, that changing process is only slightly different.  You become a mom the moment you decide "we are going to adopt." And life changes. It changes when you send that last package off at Fed Ex, when you get the official approval from your adoption agency, and when you get the coveted email with the subject "WAITLIST."  It will change for me again when we pass court, and when we finally bring that baby home.  The milestones look different but the emotions are the same.

Being a mom is as much a part of who I am as my eye color. I hear about women who fear the loss of "themselves" in becoming a mom.  But I am much more "myself" as a mother than I was before.  Yes, I come last in a way that wasn't true before, but people who put others before them lead much greater lives than those who put themselves first.  And I learned a lot about that watching mothers and grandmothers in Swaziland.

I've never been much of a clothes-buyer but even I noticed that my wardrobe wasn't being updated as often once we had kids.  In Swaziland, I saw a completely different version of this. We brought blankets & jackets with us out to the community one day. The kids lined up outside the tent of the church & we brought them in in small groups to find them a jacket that fit and a blanket. The women (mostly grandmothers since the middle-generation has mostly died of HIV/AIDS related illness) all stood outside the tent and kept the kids organized. Once all the children had had their turn, the women came in (we had some adult clothing with us) and finally had a chance to sort through what was left to see if there was anything for them.  Many ignored the adult clothes completely and chose to look through what was left of the kids' clothes to see if there was anything else for their children. These women are Mommies.

Hi, my name is Mommy. That name carries unbelievable responsibility and sacrifice but it brings with it a joy that I've found nowhere else. It's the best label I've ever been given. And I'm so excited that one day I'll have three small ones who call me that (more if I can get Rob to agree to my "secret" plan to do a domestic adoption one day... but that's another story!)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

If only it were this easy...

I had to share this story!

Yesterday, I showed the kids the little blow-up travel pillow I used on the airplane on my trip to Africa. Riley tried it out & pretended to be asleep on an airplane. I asked him where he was flying to & he said "Africa."  When I said "Where in Africa?" he said "To Ethiopia to get our new baby"  He then hopped off the couch, announced that he was in Africa & crossed the room to go behind our big chair. He came back out holding his arms as if he were holding something & proudly presented "our baby in Africa" to me! He then brought him over to Rob and said "Whew! He's heavy."

 Someone is very ready for a little brother. Someone else is ready to be holding another son. I'm trying to be patient but most days it's pretty hard.  Moments like these with the kids I have in my arms now make it easier, though!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Swaziland

We're back from Swaziland and I've found that I need to learn some more adjectives.  When someone says "how was your trip?" my instinct is to say "it was great." But honestly, it was not great. It was heartbreaking, overwhelming, intense, frustrating, angering and so full of joy and peace all at the same time.  But I will say this: God is at work in Swaziland and I am beyond honored that I got to play a small role in what He's doing there.

What a beautiful smile!
I have so many stories to tell that I don't know where to start. We worked mainly in a community about two hours away from where we were staying. They had no access to clean water, there was no one there my age (most of my generation has died due to HIV/AIDS-related illnesses) so the community is mainly made up of older men & women and children.  It is one of the most beautiful countries I've ever visited with some of the most beautiful people.  And boy was it hard to be an adoptive parent with a completed home study and CIS approval while holding an orphan in my arms. (Swaziland does not allow international adoptions by the way).


The only access to water was the river where animals also come to drink. Women and children walk about 20 minutes to the river once or twice a day to get water for drinking, cooking, and washing.
Here are just some tidbits of info to start:

In the community where I worked, there were many "double orphans" (children who have lost both parents and don't have anyone to care for them). They pretty much stay in their shelter all the time and come out ONLY on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays when the Gogos (grandmothers) of the community cook a meal for all the children of the community. These kids can count on only three meals per week. They don't even go down to the river to get (very dirty) water for themselves.

One of the beautiful Gogos in our community who feeds the children three times a week.
I visited the city dump where children LIVE. Not only that, but people walk from far away to come there. That was almost harder to take than knowing people live there. A met a woman who walked several miles with her child on her back to come sit at the dump all day. They pick through the garbage to find whatever food may be left over.

It costs $3 to see a doctor in the emergency room. Most Swazis don't have that much. And over 50% of them have HIV/AIDS and are NOT medicated.  I prayed with children who had been hospitalized for over a week for pneumonia. A parent HAS to stay with them in order to cook their food and take care of them in the hospital (which means if that parent has a job they have to not work during that time).

We found this little child at the dump and brought her to the hospital. She was at the dump with her mother & grandmother and they had walked quite a ways to get there.
If you want to help the best thing you can do is go. There's a trip headed to Swaziland this fall and the trips for next summer are already posted: http://www.heartforafrica.org/Trips.aspx.  Get to know the people of Swaziland and bring them a message of hope as you work alongside them to help them solve the poverty problem. We are no better than they are but it means so much to them that you travel so far to be with them as equals.

Poverty is a relational problem. Throwing money at Swaziland will not solve the issues. But if you can't go, consider donating to Project Canaan. In short, it's land Heart for Africa has bought in order to grow crops, build a baby home and provide jobs and food to the people of Swaziland.  You can also buy a bag of maize from the first harvest at Canaan.  I just bought a bag that will be delivered to the community where I was working (it's church #10 - Mashobane Grace). It gives the Heart for Africa staff an excuse to go out to the community (remember, it was 2 hours away from where we stayed) and check on them & see how they are doing AND deliver the maize. Awesome... here's how you can do that: http://www.heartforafrica.org/store.aspx?panel=1&categoryid=15