Thursday, June 24, 2010


As we're scrambling around, collecting paper to bring another son into our family, we are thoroughly enjoying the boy who is already ours. Today my baby boy turns six. In those six years I've yet to get over my own capacity to love a little male. I think I've mentioned before how sure I was, coming from a family of girls, that God would give us only girls. How good He was to surprise me! Boys are different in the most delightful of ways. Parker is a perfect blend of tenderness and toughness. While he's the first to jump into the fiercest of wrestling matches with Daddy, I've never known a more affectionate caretaker of stuffed animals. He's very capable of making messes, but organizes his many collections with the utmost of attention. Every day Parker's similarities to Danny emerge with greater clarity, and I pray that he continues to learn what it means to be a man from the greatest man I know. My only fear is that Parker's maturing might result in a little less cuddling with and kisses for mama as the years continue to go by. Even that loss, however, will be bearable if it's accompanied by the love for God that He seems to be graciously implanting in Parker's heart even now. I'm just trying to convince him that six year-old boys are much more affectionate than five year-old ones. Do you think it'll work?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Where in the world are we headed?

So once we decided to adopt again, the next big question was “from where?” For those of you not familiar with the adoption world, you might be surprised to learn that the list of possibilities was rather short. We all hear stories of the millions of orphans around the world, anxious to have families of their own. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of those children are available to Americans.
Most countries’ adoption laws are written specifically to exclude non-residents, or to limit adoption to residents of counties with which they have adoption treaties. Then, even those countries willing to entrust their children to Americans have their own rules regarding what kinds of families they’ll work with. In our case, we are ineligible in many countries because of the size of our family: We’re too big already. Other countries require parents to make multiple and/or lengthy trips to their country to complete the adoption: Given our family responsibilities here, that wasn’t an option for us. We excluded other countries based on the length of their processes: We hope to keep our children rather close in age and Reagan is already close to 4, so a two-year wait seemed a little too long. A few other nations charge significantly higher fees, and therefore were simply out of our budget.
The rest of the decision basically came down to preference. I wanted to work with an agency that had an excellent reputation in Vietnam since that is the adoption environment I am most familiar with: There is only a handful at the top of that list, so we limited ourselves to the countries available through those agencies. After all of those filters were applied, we were left with two countries: Ethiopia and China.
The scales were tipped toward China by two main factors. The first was the relative stability of the Chinese program. While there are no guarantees in any adoption, the policies in Ethiopia are still being shaped. It is fairly new and adoptive parents have faced unexpected hoops to help establish more protections for the birth families and children. Finally, we were attracted to China for the simple reason that Reagan might share some physical and cultural similarities with our newest family member. So… we’re headed to China! A long answer to a short question that may or may not have been on your mind.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Danny's "yes"

“Lord, please either change his heart or change mine.” That has been my prayer for the past year and a half. Danny was pretty sure our family was complete with Alyssa and Parker. Then God led us to adopt Reagan, and Danny was even surer that we were done with three. I wasn’t convinced. But I didn’t want to push. There are significant challenges involved in adopting a child (as well as, of course, parenting said child), and I didn’t want him to resent me for talking him into it. I truly believe that God has given Danny the primary role in leading our family. Nagging him into a fourth child just to please me would have eventually put a strain on our marriage, and would have dishonored the roles God has established to bless and protect us.
As my desire to mother another has grown, I’ve had to work harder and harder to stay quiet. I didn’t keep my longings a secret from him, but I determined to always let him initiate the conversation. Every so often he’d come up with something like “are you really sure you want another kid?” And my answer was always an enthusiastic “yes!” As time has gone on, he’s started those discussions more and more frequently. I’d explain my desire to provide a home for an orphan that might not otherwise have one, and all the ways I thought our family would be exceedingly blessed by another child. (We’ve discovered with Reagan that the joy she brings to us far outweighs any benefit we’ve provided for her!). He always listened carefully, but definitely wasn’t like-minded. Through it all I kept praying my prayer.
Finally in mid-February Danny asked me to research what our various options might be. Of course I was excited, but didn’t want to get my hopes up too much. I joined an adoption agency research group, investigated the various countries that are open to international adoption, carefully looked into foster-adoption, and even explored charting our own path to a child in Malawi where adoption laws are largely untested. I reported it all back to Danny, but he continued to be content with three. With my research basically complete and my heart about done with wondering, I recently set a deadline for myself. If Danny hadn’t given the green light for another adoption by Reagan’s birthday I would consider that to be God’s indication that I should stop considering it as well. But I kept praying.
Then on Sunday, we celebrated Father’s Day with my family. Totally unbeknownst to me, this is the card Danny prepared and presented to my dad:

Which means… I get to be a mama again! I just kept asking Danny, “really?” “Really?” “Are you sure?” He maintained the same slightly-panic-stricken look on his face that he’s had each time I’ve told him we were pregnant, but with a resolved YES. God had been working on his heart using His Word, Danny’s love for me, and the counsel of some wise men. Though I would have remained confident in God’s goodness if He had chosen to answer my prayer differently, I am beyond thrilled to announce that He has another child in store for us! I’ll share more details soon, but this is already plenty long enough. I’ve got nesting to do!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Fancy Dinner

Alyssa is our little server. More than anything, she loves to help. If you need someone to fetch a phone, find a tool, or fix a snack, Alyssa is your girl. We were not the least surprised then, when several weeks ago, she began planning a "Fancy Dinner" for her mom and dad. With Gaga's (grandma) assistance, she sent us an invitation, planned and printed a menu, shopped, prepared, set up and served us a delightful meal on our bedroom balcony. She even arranged for Papa to take Parker and Reagan on a date so they wouldn't "get in the way." Everything you see in the photos was Alyssa's doing. She picked out the potted plant, knowing that I'd prefer something I could put in the garden rather than in the trash. A bell was brought to our table so we could summon our server from the kitchen downstairs if needed. She carefully set the table with our china, silver and crystal, and specially folded the cloth napkins so we could see "all of the flowers." Her daddy's favorite chips, Fritos, were chosen as the appetizer (literally "Free Toes" in french on the menu), along with mama's favorite ranch dip. The chicken picatta was excellent, and the deserts were incredible. But the best part was watching Alyssa slip from the very professionally executed role of server, complete with uniform and half-apron, into our sweet little 7 year old and back; think, chips being popped into her mouth every time she left the table, bringing up a plastic cup in hopes that we'd share the sparking cider, and pulling up an extra chair to get in on the dessert. Oh, and inquiring every few minutes if the tip was ready yet! We are so blessed to have a girl with such a sweet, thoughtful heart, and only pray that she will grow to use those gifts to serve others, and especially our God, for many many years to come.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

All dried off... for now

Swimming season has begun! Danny has had the last two weeks off work, and we got to spend this last week in Palm Springs as a family doing little more than swimming, sleeping and reading. My kind of vacation! We were unexpectedly free from electronic distractions (NO INTERNET - gasp!), turned on the TV only for a couple of movie nights and morning cartoons (= more sleep for mama), and thoroughly enjoyed the quiet. Now we're home, I'm caught up on all the social media I'd missed (though in actuality, there was precious little of importance, and not much more even of interest), and the speed of life will pick up again. Summer slow is in sight, however, and I'm looking forward to many more days in the pool with my favorite people.