Tuesday, August 29, 2006

We have a boy!!!

Lincoln was born last night to my sister, Sarah, and brother-in-law, Brian. He is so sweet, so adorable, and such a red-head! We weren't altogther suprized by the color, but shocked at the volume. While not quite like my two, who came out with loads of dark hair, his head really is covered with soft orange fuzz. Sarah is doing well too, and we're having such fun cuddling this healthy little one. Alyssa, as you can see, was ready to help do surgery. For weeks now she's been busy packing a diaper bag full of diapers, wipes, pacifiers, toys, changing pad, keys, candy - you name it - to assist with child care as needed. Of course, when it actually came time to change Lincoln's first diaper, the idea proved to be more alluring than the act!

Parker was also a very excited cousin. All of the adults there waiting for the opportunity to hold the new one, had their arms nearly worn off holding the older kids up to see through the window. Parker spent all morning saying "see Lincoln!" and practicing gentle kisses. I think he likes the idea of being the big guy.
It was especially precious to watch Brian fall instantly in-love with his son.
I, of course, am enamored too. Not only with my precious nephew, but with my amazing God who skillfully crafts these little people in ways that not even the most brilliant scientists can understand. I'm baffled by the way my body works and simply stunned by the way those same functions happen in miniature and so shortly after birth. What a shock to leave the comfort and safety of a mother's body, and then to so quickly adapt to light, air, noise, hunger, pain, touch. Only God's mercy and grace can explain the fact that life happens at all. Lord, "I will praise You, for I (and Lincoln!) am fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14).

Friday, August 25, 2006

I asked Dan what he thought I should write about in my blog… he said “how sexy your husband is.” While I don’t think any of you want to hear exactly that, I definitely don’t mind using this venue to brag a little on him. Here are a few things I love about Dan:

  • At 30 years old, he still doesn’t mind being called Danny.
  • He mispronounces his own name – the drycleaner thinks his name is Dean.
  • He is an incredible daddy. Alyssa and Parker immediately drop whatever they’re doing when they hear the garage door open, and RUN, screaming to greet him when he gets home from work.
  • He prefers home to work.
  • He loves his job and takes pride in what he does.
  • He doesn’t take his job too seriously (which is significant considering his line of work).
  • His relationship with God takes priority over everything else.
  • He is a loyal friend. Some of his closest friendships go back to elementary school.
  • He loves to go to church and serve those around him.
  • He is almost always the first to apologize (shame on me!).
  • He respects my opinion, and really listens – even when we disagree.
  • He takes good care of his body. He is training for his second marathon and has almost no body fat, despite consuming about 800 calories a day in ice cream.
  • He is a beautiful skier – snow and water.
  • He makes me laugh.
  • He loves my family.
  • He is excited about our adoption, even though it means postponing his purchase of a Mini Cooper.
  • He (mistakenly) believes with all of his heart that I am the smartest, most beautiful, godliest woman in the world!

Dan instisted on responding to this, and apparently posting it as a comment was not good enough - "Not everyone will read the comments!" he said. So this is what he had to say:

"I object to this blog on so many different levels.

First, I thought I was being funny making a suggestion to blog about how sexy I am. When will I learn I'm really not that funny? Hopefully soon.

I don't think it is much of an accomplishment to not take my job too seriously, those who know me don't think I take anything seriously.

The reason I am usually first to apologize is because I am the one who is usually wrong.

As for responding to the rest of the comments my wife made, it goes to show how blind love can be. I am glad she thinks those things, but as those who know me Laura is making those things up. "

I got a good one huh?

Now for a post that's almost entirely plagiarized:

Today I discovered a letter on the Shaohannah's Hope website which so perfectly described the reasons we love adoption that I had to share it. I've modified it a little, but for all intents and purposes, it's not mine and I cannot take credit:

We recognize that adoption is a perfect picture of what God has done for each of us in making us His children through Christ. Psalm 68:5-6 tells us that as the Father to the fatherless, God delights in setting the lonely in families. Our experience is already proving that the scriptural mandate of caring for orphans, such as the one found in James 1:27, is really a wonderful invitation to experience God in a profound way by being a part of His sovereign plan for His precious children.
Working from these foundational truths, we believe that our adoption journey will enable a child living without the love and hope of an earthly family to be adopted into a "covenant home." There we will be able to provide not only the love and support needed for this life, but also provide our daughter with the knowledge of God's plan for her eternal life with a forever family called The Body of Christ.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

So serious about our play: Alyssa always seems to be on the "phone" with someone... Parker here is caught in a rare still moment.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Why we chose Vietnam and Dillon International...

People are always asking us how we ended up adopting from Vietnam and why we chose Dillon International as our agency. The answers are linked, so I'll address the questions together.

Even before we had decided to pursue international adoption as a means for expanding our family, I had done quite a bit of research on-line. I had always loved the idea of providing a home for an orphan - especially one who would otherwise grow up in an orphanage - and Dan shared my enthusasim. In my research, I came across the Shaohannah's Hope foundation, started by Steven Curtis Chapman (a Christian recording artist) to help Christian families adopt. My respect for what they do was increased when Steven visited our Sunday School and shared his love for their adopted daughters. So, when it came time to settle on a country and an agency, I started with the Adoption Resources section of their website (www.shaohannahshope.org), made a list of the agencies they recommended, and compiled a list of the country programs sponsored by each agency.
We quickly found out that it's not as easy to select a country as one might think. There are a limited number of nations that allow international adoption and each one has its own requirements: Some countries want both parents to be over a certain age, others require that you live in their country for 30 days or more - or make multiple trips, some don't have children under 3 years old available for adoption -- to name a few. So after much thought, research and prayer, we determined that India was the best fit in terms of their rules and our preferences. Hand-in-hand with that decision was our belief that Dillon International (www.dillonadopt.com)had the best India program. They're in Tulsa, OK and we're in California, but since just about everything can be done via e-mail or phone these days, that didn't present a problem for us. Our only hope is that someday we might be able to meet their staff face to face to thank them for all they've done.
So for 9 months we operated on the premise that our little girl would be Indian. We completed our Home Study (where a social worker comes out to make sure that we're normal and stable enough to be good parents -- too bad we can't make such evaluations for some biological parents!) and finished our dossier (a mountain of paperwork which proves to the Indian government that we're honorable in our intentions and prepared to provide a good home), and for about 2 weeks were officially on the waiting list for a referral from India. THEN, we received a letter from Dillon informing us that the original wait time of 18-24 months was looking more like 25-37 months, but by the way, they had received their license to start faciliating adoptions from Vietnam. Vietnam had been closed to adoptions to the U.S. for several years, so we hadn't even considered it as an option when we began the process in August 2005. However, when we found out that our wait time could be a year shorter if we switched, we asked our agency for more information. After just a few days of praying and seeking counsel, we decided to start the process over again for Vietnam. Fortunately, Vietnam's dossier requirements are significantly less than India's, but everything was just different enough that it ALL had to be redone. We have had so many documents notarized and re-notarized over the past year that our 3 1/2 year-old has begun playing "notary." She makes us sign a special notebook and make a thumbprint! Needless to say, I'm glad that most of our paperwork days are now over.
So now we're waiting again. We're the third family on the list waiting for a girl under 24 months. We've been waiting almost a month - the family at the top of the list has been waiting 2 1/2 months. So it could be soon! Our agency said to plan on being on the list 1-3 months, but it is a new program and everything is subject to change. I'll keep you posted!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Easter clothes are so fun! I know these pictures are a little old now, but I wanted to share some of my favorites.

Our family at Thanksgiving last year... you might recognize it from our Christmas card. I guess we ought to get the four of us together for a picture more often!
We chose to adopt because....

The following are exerpts from a statement we wrote when applying to our adoption agency over a year ago. It addresses many of the questions people have about why we're adopting, so I thought I'd share it with you.

We want to adopt because we believe a foreign-born child would enrich our family, we believe it is our God-given responsibility to help the poor and fatherless, and we believe it would present the world around us with an object lesson of the gospel – of God’s adoption of us as His children. God has blessed us with two beautiful biological children, and we are so grateful for the opportunity to have experienced two wonderful pregnancies, births, and first few months with an infant. However, we feel like we could be equally blessed by welcoming a little person who is already in this world and needs a family. We actually undertook permanent means of birth control so that our home could be open to someone from the other side of the world. Our hope is that this somewhat unusual step will provide opportunities for us to share the gospel not only with our new baby (who might otherwise have never heard the Truth), but also with the world around us who will certainly ask about our motivation for building our family in this way.

We are also excited about the possibility of our family becoming multicultural! We hope that it will be a constant reminder to us, and those around us, that the world is bigger than our hometown. It is especially important to us that our current children gain a vision for what God is doing around the world.

The presence of an adoptive child will certainly change our family dynamic – but then so would the addition of a third biological child. We hope that this little one will enlarge our world-view, as well as simply bring the joy to our home that any child can. Our extended family accepted the news that we were considering adoption just as excitedly as they did we we’ve announced a pregnancy. We believe that they too will love this new baby as if it were their flesh and blood.

Because our community is very multi-cultural, we believe that our family won’t face quite the challenges that an adoptive family might face in a more homogeneous environment. There are many families in our area who have adopted a foreign child, and those we’ve spoken with have not reported any negative feedback from the community.

We will attempt to handle any racially prejudiced remarks with grace and humility, turning the other cheek. Though we recognize that challenges will come, we hope that they will just give us greater opportunity to show the world that we are different, and explain to them that we can love a child of any color because Christ first loved us.

Our child will likely have questions about why she is different and why she was abandoned by her birth parents, as any adoptive child might. However, we believe that all of those difficulties can be overcome by teaching her to see herself from God’s perspective and by loving her with an unconditional love. We would be willing to help her contact her biological parents if she so desired and if it were possible, but would assure her that she is ours because we choose her and because God choose her for us.

Our little water-skiers! Alyssa just loves holding the flag, and Parker likes his "handle" (the cleat!). They are such troopers and actually getting quite brave behind the boat.

Well, after months of pouring over the blogs of friends and fellow adoptive-moms, I've finally decided to join their ranks. I hope here to give you all a little insight into our home, my faith, my family, and the adventure called adoption. Of course, it also gives me the opportunity to share pics of my precious kiddos. We have a sweet, beautiful 3 1/2 year-old daughter, Alyssa, and an adorable, hilarious 2 year-old son, Parker. Our second daughter, Savannah, is somewhere in Vietnam. We're anxiously awaiting news regarding who she is and when we'll get to meet her. So, stay posted! For now, you'll get to hear my ramblings as I learn to be patient - or whatever else God might have in store for us. Thanks for reading!