Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Children “of Your Own”

For most people, the phrase “children of your own” is a perfectly innocent way to describe biological children. People will ask me, “do you want more children of your own after you adopt?” They are simply trying to differentiate between children brought to us through pregnancy versus children brought to us through adoption.

In every instance, they have had pure motives. However, I do want people to understand that our coming baby is 100% OUR OWN child. Like Caroline, God always planned this second baby to be ours, even before we knew it. Most importantly, I don’t want our children to grow up hearing that Caroline is “our own,” while this next baby is, by default, something contrary to that. While outsiders mean nothing by the wording, it may have significant meaning to our children. I never want either one of them to doubt for a second that God has always loved them and had a perfect plan for them. Our family structure is just one beautiful part of that plan.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Precious Ugandan Baby Pics

A long time ago, I pulled these pics off of the website of a Ugandan orphanage, (the Amani Baby Cottage), in the city where we will go for the adoption. (Kampala, the capital.) The pics are no longer on their website, so I’m glad I still have them. Aren’t they so precious!? It gets me excited.

Babies at Amani: Growing up to be Amani Volunteers!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Adopted For Life

We went on vacation with friends this weekend, and I finally had time to read most of Adopted for Life by Russell Moore. I wish every Christian would read it, regardless of whether they are called to adopt. It teaches about our own beautiful adoption as brothers and sisters of Christ. It also gives very practical advice to both those who are adopting or are friends of those adopting. I doubt I ever would have picked it up if we were not adopting right now, but PLEASE read it, regardless of your situation! You will not be able to view God's love for you in the same way again.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Big Sister

Our little girl is getting so big! Her language skills are really blooming. She woke up yesterday morning and realized I was already gone. So she turned to Brad and said, “Daddy, Mommy work?” In the afternoons, when she’s having a hard time getting fully awake from a nap, she’ll lay on the floor, pat the spot next to her and say, “Lay down, Mommy!” She loves pointing out the moon, sky, grass, man, girl… whatever she sees. She even yells, “Bye, Eat!” to random restaurants as we pass by in the car. She also knows which room will belong to her sibling in our new house. She’ll walk by, point inside, and say seriously, “Baby’s.” I’m not sure how much a 19 month old can understand about our explanation that “Caroline is getting a baby,” but it will be so much fun to see them grow up together!
(This is an outdated pic of Caroline... I need to post a more recent one!)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

God's Love

When I was getting married, I fell in love with the imagery of Christ as the husband of His bride, the Church. The Church had been adulterous, sinful, prideful, and dirty. But Christ loved her anyway. I related to this theme. I had turned from the grace of God to a life of hypocrisy and selfish sin. Brad met me when I was ashamed, broken, and unsure of how I’d ever get out of my own mess. I felt unlovable and unforgivable. But Brad loved me unconditionally. It was a powerful picture of the greater love of Christ, and it forever changed me.

Only 3 ½ years later, I am struck by another powerful Biblical imagery – that of adoption. And once again, I am floored by God’s love for me. As we sit in this “waiting phase,” my heart aches to have our little child in our arms. Our baby doesn’t know that where (s)he lives is not home. (S)he doesn’t know that (s)he is loved endlessly. Or any sacrifice financially, emotionally or otherwise will not feel like a sacrifice at all, when it is to get our child here where (s)he belongs.

I know that I am the same as that little child when it comes to God. It is sometimes hard to feel His love, or remember that He is now “preparing a place for” me. I forget that where I live is not my home, but that “home” is wherever He is, in His arms. And I want to cry to imagine a perfect God utterly LONGING for me the way I am longing for our child – only without the sin and selfishness that always creeps into human love. That His heart breaks to be more united with His children. What a sweet, sweet God.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Brad & Angelina

Today, for the third time since we started the adoption process, I got a comment that turns my stomach. Here's how the conversation usually goes:

Them: "Are you planning on having more children soon?"

Me: "Yes, we're adopting, hopefully this summer!!"

Them: "Where from?"

Me: "Uganda."

Them: "Oh... Are y'all wanting to be like Brad & Angelina!"

I know their intentions are fine. But who parents a child to be like movie stars? Are they asking a serious question?

I've also had a girl tell me that we're doing exactly what Madonna did. Ugh! (& if I'm not mistaken, there were rumors that Madonna bought a child from a father -- true or not, that makes me NOT willing to be compared to whatever people think she did.)

It's not that we're better than celebrities, or that these celebrities are doing a wrong thing. Please, feed the hungry! Take in the orphans! But I do hope that what we're doing is truly IN CHRIST, and by His power. There is something sad about the fact that celebrities, and not Christians, are thought of as the foremost caregivers to the orphans of our world.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Uganda: A Place Abandoned Babies Call a Home

This article was copied and pasted from the news site linked below.

Uganda: A Place Abandoned Babies Call a Home
Sarah Scheenstra
21 September 2009

On July 30, a nurse at Mbarara Hospital found a malnourished baby boy near the maternity ward. The abandoned baby, who is now known as Daniel, was only 6.42kg even though he was about seven months old.
Unfortunately Daniel is only one of hundreds of babies abandoned in Uganda each year.
There are no available statistics on the exact number of abandoned babies, in part because many cases go unreported. However, according to Sanyu's Babies' Home, a well-known babies' home in Kampala, there are currently about 2.5 million orphans in Uganda.

Daniel became one of the first two babies taken in by the newly-opened Loving Hearts Babies' Home in Kampala.

Loving Hearts Babies' Home was started by Africa Renewal Ministries, a Christian NGO with a special focus on children.
"We want to establish a home to look after the orphaned and abandoned babies," Samuel Namalabe, an administrator at the home, told Daily Monitor when we visited. The home, still in its final stages of set-up, has already taken in four babies and has a capacity for 30.

Most would probably see Daniel's reception by Loving Hearts as extremely fortunate, and it certainly is, however, it is still less than ideal. Mr Namalabe said that while in the orphanage they can meet children's basic needs, without a real family, children "are missing something that is very important in their lives."

As much love and care as the "mothers" and staff at the Home endeavour to give the children, babies still need the support and love of a real family most of all and Loving Hearts plans to link the babies up with families who can offer them love, care, and protection.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Waiting Children

Uganda is an interesting country. I have developed a small fascination for its history, culture, and people. (One little person in particular… unfortunately, we still don’t know a thing about our child!)

The adoption process in Uganda seems, in my inexperienced eyes, to be very different from other countries that you often hear about in conjunction with adoption. Their process seems to be very organic. Free flowing. I suppose a little like I imagine the African way of life to be. :)

Most international adoptions seem to be facilitated through lists of “waiting children.” Waiting parents can even receive estimates of how long they will wait for a referral based on how far they fall down the list.

In Uganda, they keep no list. There are, however, plenty of “waiting children.” The Trust for Africa’s Orphans site projected that there would be as many as 2,500,000 by 2010. In Uganda alone! Wow. If there are no lists, then how will these 2,500,000 be accounted for, and cared for, and offered up for adoption?

Our agency has a Ugandan lawyer who, from what I gather, simply calls orphanages near the capital city and asks them about availability. Once he finds a child, then there is your referral. As for the orphans in remote villages, I assume that they have little chance of ever being adopted to a family of their own. 2,500,000. It is an overwhelming thought.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Our Adoption: Where we stand

Technically, our adoption is "on hold" pending our upcoming move. In reality, our time-table remains the same... we're simply procrastinating on some paper work! So far, we are about ¾ through our home study process.

Good news? We move next month! (thanks to our wonderful builder) Also, I should be getting closer to completing the CPA exam.

Then, we can focus on sweet baby #2, & the mounds of adoption paperwork that are staring at us from Brad’s desk!! Boy, am I ready for that!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Future in Fostering

Clearly, we are about to adopt & won't immediately foster any children. (Nor do I know whether we’re called to later.) But I always wonder if God is working when the same subject keeps catching my attention. Yesterday it was through my lunch with Joy Portis & her work to encourage families to foster, as well as through my brother-in-laws blog.

Who knows what God has for us, (or you,) down the road? Stay open, & be blessed!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Let the Blogging Begin

I love reading adoption blogs, but I hesitated to create one for our own adoption because – well – who am I that anyone should care what I have to say? But after lunch today with an incredible mom who is also an incredible advocate for & testimony to the beauty of adoption, I changed my mind. She commented that a blog about our story JUST might encourage someone else to find their calling to adoption. So here we go.