Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fast Living


Wow, wow, wow.

Blogger just vaporized my entire post into the ether. And I thought it was going really supremely well. The words were flowing. And suddenly…..nada. Gone. And I’m trying to decide if it is due to me needing to start over, or because it was just really, stinking, good. So good as to be dangerous.

See, there is all this stuff flying around in my head and it’s disturbing my sleep and its all interconnected and messed up and I was trying to be sequential and thorough, because I don’t want you, dear reader, to throw me into the ether with my post, label me as a dreamer or one of those people who are off in left field, that only use facebook as a venue to promote their agenda. I don’t want you to discount what I say simply because you aren’t where I am. Today. Yet.

So I was trying to appear rational. I was pretty convincing, too, if I do say so myself. But the fact of the matter is, I am no longer rational. I am a dreamer. And yes, a long stream of events brought me to this point, but maybe the stream isn’t important.

It starts with a move. A somewhat irrational move. A time of great loneliness. A time of deep searching. A friend found. Conversations had. Books put in my hands. Ideas sparked. Attitudes changed. Or at least enough questions asked that I had a pretty thorough idea what I believed. Most of them started with the words, “Yeah, but…”

And then, by freak coincidence, I get a request for a review. Now I get a lot of these. Probably one a day. And I’ve mostly given those up, but the timing was impeccable. I’d just finished The IrresistibleRevolution and I had a million questions and a million arguments. I just don’t buy the idea that SUVs and W. Bush are the epitome of evil (here’s another thing, just so I don’t lose half of you….neither do I believe that Prius and Obama are). I mean, let’s be real here for a minute and take my family: we adopt (=good) but must drive a big vehicle to fit all of our family (=bad). Carpooling=good. Can’t do it in a small car=bad. 

I’m just saying.

Some things aren’t as black and white as people want them to be. He had some really, amazingly, wonderful things to say. I just couldn’t throw myself fully on board. BUT because he opened my mind up to the possibility that I SHOULD make some changes, I was ready to receive what I believe could be a new direction in life.

And in order to keep things on the up and up I feel I need to give you a little back story. I was reading through this solicitation email thinking, “Wow, this sounds like it could be a great book!” when I ran across the author’s name: Scott C Todd, which was eerily similar to the name Scott C Todd, Microbiology professor, mentor to one Madame Chaos approximately 13 years ago. And since google did me no favors in determining if I knew the author and Works for Compassion and Teaches at a State School don’t sound like the same job title, I accepted the review. However, I did eventually deduce from the photo I found on facebook that the two Scott C Todd’s were one and the same. I’m going a little whack wanting to know HIS story of the last 13 years, because, whew, there’s a life change.

And maybe that makes this book all the better to me. I know what the guy worked for and left behind. There’s this jeep story in the early part of the book that was really meaningful to me because I remember him when he was dreaming about “someday” owning a Jeep. A very specific Jeep. And he not only got the Jeep….he gave it away. He totally plays it off like it’s not a huge deal except it totally was. Or would have been in 1999.

And, Oh My Gosh, I would love to give you the highlights, but most of the book is highlighted. Not only that, I want you to read it. 

Yes, YOU.   

I am not being one of those people who tell others you Must Go Out And Get This Book Right Now (OK, except for the Hunger Games and I meant it then, too) except I AM…telling you exactly that.
And where The Irresistible Revolution falls short (he seems to be an “activist” for activism sake and the last few chapters I had to muscle through), Fast Living nails. 

I get to the part where it’s time for him to ask me not to eat. And for a person who has quite a lot of difficulty maintaining her blood sugar and therefore her attitude, I was really dreading this chapter. But since everything that came before was so good and challenging, I read it anyway, knowing I was going to have to starve the next day. And what does he do? Challenge the concept of the fast. Fast: golf. Fast: movies. Fast: new vehicles. Fast: time. And yes, fast: food. If that’s what you need to fast, but his point is to be driven to fast in order to see change.

I’ve spent a couple days trying to figure out what it is that I need to fast. And you know what keeps coming to mind? Every single time I complain about something, I realize that someone would love to have that problem. My refrigerator I hate because it doesn’t hold enough food? Poor me. My clothes that are too tight/not the right color? Wah. 

You know what I’m gonna fast until I decide if I need to fast something more meaningful? Complaining about things that other people would be thankful for. Like stale chips.

There’s more. But, you need to read it.

He’s so--completely--reasonable. And his reasonable is so--completely--contagious.
He will make you believe that there is really something we can do about extreme poverty.
And to tell you the truth, I’ve never wanted to be more of a dreamer.

You totally need to go here and watch the video (you’ll have to scroll down a smidge). If he honestly doesn’t make your heart race, you can skip the book, because he compresses it pretty well, but if you, like me, want to believe that we can do something about the tragedy of extreme poverty, read the book. 

And do something about it.

(And I do have an extra to give away if you leave a comment and you are the lucky winner.)

And now, as I've read through this, I'm not sure I've even told you enough about the book. But it is A-maz-ing. Really. And it is based on Isaiah 58. And it is about how we WILL end extreme poverty. We are well on our way. And you really should go to www.live58.org.

You haven't heard the end of me on this yet, so I guess it's OK that I stop talking for now.

All of Me

I'm sure this one will chop off on the sides as well as the last four have, but it's worth a try.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Anywhere But Here

This time last year I was cruising in the Caribbean during a hurricane. It took me nearly three weeks before I could even pretend to walk straight, my equilibrium was so off. And yet? I find myself wishing myself back onto a boat during hurricane season.

I'm sure it is due in no small part to the fact that my brother and sister in law spent last week in the Caribbean. I'm equally sure I'm green....and it isn't due to sea sickness.

I know, I know, get out your violins.

In fact, the last two years have been really good for us. We've traveled more since 2009 flipped to 2010 than we did the entirety of our lives up to that point. And yet, today I found myself thinking, "Anywhere but here."

Over the last few days I've told my husband several locations I'd like to be. And in sequential order:

Disney World, where we rang in 2010
Kauai, June 2010
Grand Cayman via a Caribbean cruise we took with several of our friends, September 2010.
Israel, March 2011
 Yeah, I'd even like to go here:
Kansas City, Chateau Avalon, May 2011

 Or here (though the drive? not so much):
Alabama (photo taken in Metropolis, Illinois on our way) July 2011

  But immediately after my thought of "Anywhere but here," a vivid picture popped into my mind. It was of a woman with a child strapped on her body, carrying a huge jug across parched lands., searching for water. I can't find the photo, because I can't find the blog I saw it on, but this one will serve to make my point. (It was stolen from here.)

Horn of Africa, Drought, 2011
 And it became very clear to me: Though I am ACHING to be in Ethiopia right now and I'm transferring that want-to-travel energy into fantasies of beaches and Mickey Mouse, and Anywhere But Here, I realize that here
Kansas prairie, 2011

doing fun stuff like this
Grandma's back porch, Princess turning 10, June 2011

isn't all bad.In fact, it's pretty dang good.

It's at this point I feel like I should put in a disclaimer. It goes a little something like this: We didn't pay for most of this. We stayed in other people's timeshares, we cruised during hurricaine season on a cheap boat, we drove, we Mennonited our way around, we saved for Israel for three years.

BUT the fact remains that even doing it cheap, it was pretty extravagant, and I feel more than a little guilty that there are people starving while I have a pity party for myself that I'm not sitting on a beach right now with a cabana boy named Brent bringing me unlimited Pepsi.

We've seen a lot and I have a lot to for which I should be thankful. If I'm going to spend money on myself, it WILL be on travel. If it means that every item of clothing I ever wear comes off a clearance rack and we only eat what's on sale. We are EATING and CLOTHED. If I shop last minute deals on cruises and I am always gobbling up people's almost-ready-to-expire timeshares, I'm seeing the world, and I don't regret it.

But odds are, the only traveling I'll be doing for the next several years will be back and forth between here and Ethiopia, which will be AWESOME, but it won't be cabana boys and beaches. And I think the truth of that is beginning to set in. I'm a beach girl and I live in Kansas for crying out loud. And no, stinky lake water does NOT even compare. 

But today, I'm going to be grateful that there is a stinky lake nearby with plenty of water, that my kids are complaining about the leftovers, because they have something to eat. And I'm going to go to bed hungry because eating after 10 makes you fat, but in the morning, food will be waiting. Can you imagine that mother with the water jug worrying about getting/being fat?

Life is good. Share a little of the goodness.

Do you have five?

Go here.

A Hungry Child Can't Wait: Ask 5 for 5

Guest Blogger: Sarah Lenssen from #Ask5for5

Family photos by Mike Fiechtner Photography

Thank you Surviving the Chaos and nearly 150 other bloggers from around the world for allowing me to share a story with you today, during Social Media Week.

A hungry child in East Africa can't wait. Her hunger consumes her while we decide if we'll respond and save her life. In Somalia, children are stumbling along for days, even weeks, on dangerous roads and with empty stomachs in search of food and water. Their crops failed for the third year in a row. All their animals died. They lost everything. Thousands are dying along the road before they find help in refugee camps. 

At my house, when my three children are hungry, they wait minutes for food, maybe an hour if dinner is approaching. Children affected by the food crisis in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia aren't so lucky. Did you know that the worst drought in 60 years is ravaging whole countries right now, as you read this? Famine, a term not used lightly, has been declared in Somalia. This is the world's first famine in 20 years.12.4 million people are in need of emergency assistance and over 29,000 children have died in the last three months alone. A child is dying every 5 minutes. It it estimated that 750,000 people could die before this famine is over. Take a moment and let that settle in.

The media plays a major role in disasters. They have the power to draw the attention of society to respond--or not. Unfortunately, this horrific disaster has become merely a footnote in most national media outlets. News of the U.S. national debt squabble and the latest celebrity's baby bump dominate headlines. That is why I am thrilled that nearly 150 bloggers from all over the world are joining together today to use the power of social media to make their own headlines; to share the urgent need of the almost forgotten with their blog readers. Humans have the capacity to care deeply for those who are suffering, but in a situation like this when the numbers are too huge to grasp and the people so far away, we often feel like the little we can do will be a drop in the ocean, and don't do anything at all.

When news of the famine first hit the news in late July, I selfishly avoided it. I didn't want to read about it or hear about it because I knew I would feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable. I wanted to protect myself. I knew I would need to do something if I knew what was really happening. You see, this food crisis is personal. I have a 4-year-old son and a 1 yr-old daughter who were adopted from Ethiopia and born in regions now affected by the drought. If my children still lived in their home villages, they would be two of the 12.4 million. My children: extremely hungry and malnourished? Gulp. I think any one of us would do anything we could for our hungry child. But would you do something for another mother's hungry child?

My friend and World Vision staffer, Jon Warren, was recently in Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya--the largest refugee camp in the world with over 400,000 people. He told me the story of Isnino Siyat, 22, a mother who walked for 10 days and nights with her husband, 1 yr-old-baby, Suleiman, and 4 yr.-old son Adan Hussein, fleeing the drought in Somalia. When she arrived at Dadaab, she built the family a shelter with borrowed materials while carrying her baby on her back. Even her dress is borrowed. As she sat in the shelter on her second night in camp she told Jon, "I left because of hunger. It is a very horrible drought which finished both our livestock and our farm." The family lost their 5 cows and 10 goats one by one over 3 months, as grazing lands dried up. "We don't have enough food now...our food is finished. I am really worried about the future of my children and myself if the situation continues."

Will you help a child like Baby Suleiman? Ask5for5 is a dream built upon the belief that you will.

That something I knew I would need to do became a campaign called #Ask5for5 to raise awareness and funds for famine and drought victims. The concept is simple, give $5 and ask five of your friends to give $5, and then they each ask five of their friends to give $5 and so on--in nine generations of 5x5x5...we could raise $2.4 Million! In one month, over 750 people have donated over $25,000! I set up a fundraiser at See Your Impact and 100% of the funds will go to World Vision, an organization that has been fighting hunger in the Horn of Africa for decades and will continue long after this famine has ended. Donations can multiply up to 5 times in impact by government grants to
help provide emergency food, clean water, agricultural support,
healthcare, and other vital assistance to children and families suffering in the Horn.

I need you to help me save lives. It's so so simple; here's what you need to do:

  1. Donate $5 or more on this page (http://seeyourimpact.org/members/ask5for5)
  2. Send an email to your friends and ask them to join us.
  3. Share #Ask5for5 on Facebook and Twitter!
I'm looking for another 100 bloggers to share this post on their blogs throughout Social Media Week. Email me at ask5for5@gmail.com if you're interested in participating this week.

A hungry child doesn't wait. She doesn't wait for us to finish the other things on our to-do list, or get to it next month when we might have a little more money to give. She doesn't wait for us to decide if she's important enough to deserve a response. She will only wait as long as her weakened little body will hold on...please respond now and help save her life. Ask 5 for 5.

Thank you on behalf of all of those who will be helped--you are saving lives and changing history.

p.s. Please don't move on to the next website before you donate and email your friends right now. It only takes 5 minutes and just $5, and if you're life is busy like mine, you probably won't get back to it later. Let's not be a generation that ignores hundreds of thousands of starving people, instead let's leave a legacy of compassion. You have the opportunity to save a life today!

Jamie here. My dumb blog, the photos were being chopped, so I had to shrink them. They are more powerful big, but certainly more powerful small and all there, so there you go.

I had a friend the other day as five for fifty. I'm only asking for five. Can you do it? Not only for me...for my daughter who is still living in the midst of this.

My Precious Sock

My daughter is intellectually very bright, but many of her actions would lead you to believe she is.......not.

For instance, this morning she took a full, dripping, tea bag out of a lukewarm mug of water in order to put the mug into the microwave to heat up the water. Her reason being, she wanted to watch the tea color disperse and she couldn't do that if the tea bag was in the water while it was in the microwave cooking.

FYI: this all happened in response to a very long discussion about how tea bags work, how fast tea bags work, and whether used tea bags work as fast as new tea bags. This was a leftover tea bag of mine from the night before. She started her experiment with tap water and since it wasn't going fast enough, wanted to heat the water up. Thus, the dripping tea bag.

Which she placed on a tall stack of napkins.

And it, of course, soaked through the entire stack of napkins.

Which was pointed out by her brother who has street sense like you would not believe.

At which point I said to my daughter, "Princess you are a supremely smart little girl, but you have the common sense of a.....*pausing to decide if gnat or post sounds nicer*..."

And she says, "Sock." Which we all get a huge laugh out of.

And then she says, "Because you know, a sock doesn't have much sense if it chooses to spend its day on a foot."

See what I mean? Brilliant.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Place for Faith

Yesterday in our Sunday school class we were discussing money and margin. Spending less than you make, to put it simply. And, as it was church, it came to having more to give. There was a fascinating conversation happening for the people bothering to listen. What Giving is. Where Giving should go. Where the church fits into Giving. And I have to give props to my teacher who is also my pastor who welcomed legitimate opinions regarding this, and quite a weighty conversation it was.

At this point in the conversation, one of our classmates gestured at Brent and me and said something like, "I mean, look at them. They are contributing what I assume is a great deal of money to take a child into their home. I would consider that giving."

Wherein my pastor started in on his take of our current situation, which boiled down to us living within margin well enough that we could swing this adoption financially...and was cut off by a guy who asked, "Where's there room for faith in that?!"

Where's the room for faith in that?

Let me point out the fact that none of the people as yet talking about us actually know our financial situation. I suspect YOU don't know our financial situation. Even at the end of this post, none of you will know our financial situation. As far as I know, I have told exactly zero people how we are paying for this adoption. But my point here is that Lance didn't know HOW we were paying for the adoption when he indicated it as giving. Brian didn't know how we were paying for the adoption before he indicated that we were probably reaping the benefits of living within margin. And for goodness sake, Shall-Remain-Nameless doesn't know if we are taking a leap of financial faith or not. Just because he doesn't read about us in the paper, does that mean we aren't walking in faith?

And since I was never again given the chance to speak and tell him, you will get my response:

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)

You wanna know where my faith is in this? Let me tell you. Faith is knowing for the last five years that my little girl was out there. Faith is watching for her on photolistings even when we had no money. Faith is believing in your broke months that you will one day have money in the bank to adopt again.  Faith is believing that you will find the daughter you have been longing for (that also fits into very specific criteria, in our case "brown, age 6"). And faith is knowing her when you see her. Faith recognizes that it is no coincidence that you "just happen" to have some money in the bank on the same day you commit to adopting her (when you commit to a waiting child, you are expected to immediately pay approximately half the money up front). Faith is recognizing the provision when the house on which you have a contracted, agreed upon price, "just happens" to drop by approximately the cost of your adoption (yes, it is spread out over 30 years, but still) less than 24 hours after you drop the check in the mail. 

*and this is where my computer sharing with my daughter wreaked havoc with my blog post which was eloquent and poetic and very meaningful, but alas, did not save and has been lost in the abyss*
Some people are called to adopt when they have absolutely NO IDEA how they are going to pay for it. Kudos to them. If you are one of those people, good for you. Take the leap of faith. I applaud you. I hope people give you lots of money.

But I don't believe that one should downgrade faith that follows a different process. Faith can also be saving for the child you don't yet know of. Shoot, faith can be adopting WITHOUT giving up on the idea of ever being pregnant. *ahem* (Why yes, I do know a little something about that.) Faith is continuing on your adoption journey when every-stinking-thing breaks and outstanding invoices go unpaid. Faith can see past and over the hurdles to the final destination. Faith is figuring it out....anyway.

Thank you, Jehova Jirah, my provider.

Where is there room for faith in that?

You must be kidding.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Birthday Wish List

When I was a kid and my mom would have a birthday, I'd ask her what she wanted and she always answered, "Nothing." I didn't get that. Of COURSE she wanted something, didn't she?

Now I get it.

Yesterday I was thinking about my birthday wish list. Topping it off was the thought, "I would just love for everyone to leave me alone for a couple hours so I could read my book."

(Please don't tell me how awful that is. I am well aware.)

I'll have you know that I put my kids to bed last night and sequestered myself in my room and read my book...for a while. I fell asleep loooooong before the two hour mark, but it must count for something.

As I was putting the kids to bed, I told them, "You know what I want more than anything else?"

Eldest says, "For us to not say, 'Aaaawwwww?'"

"OK, yeah, that tops the list. But second? Don't wake me up until....8:30. Can you do that? And by not waking me up until 8:30 I don't mean get up at the crack of dawn and think you are being sneaky to make me breakfast in bed. I really mean I don't want to hear a sound until 8:30. I don't want to have to come down and show you how to make my coffee. I'll do it. At 8:30. Not a second earlier. Please? Can we do that?"

I was wide, stinking, awake at 6 AM, I'll have you know. My children did admirably. I didn't hear rumblings until after 8.

It was beautiful.

And to mooch off Amy Grant? The rest of my list goes a little something like this:
No more lives torn apart
wars would never start
time would heal our hearts
Everyone would have a friend
Right would always win
love would never end

I am currently reading Scott C Todd's Fast Living, which I would link to, (edited: did link to. Brent fixed my Firefox. Turns out my Amazon linkilator is on the fritz. So you get a direct link, because I have chosen to not be lazy. I like the book that much) but Firefox isn't working for me and Explorer sucks, so you'll have to search for it yourself. However, it makes me extend my list to include:
God's people would allow themselves to believe that we can eradicate poverty.

But, since it's my birthday and I can, let me also ask that you go to Anna's blog where you can donate the cost of a birthday card towards her adoption of this little guy.

Really, every dollar helps at this point. So if you are a dollar general birthday card buyer or a hallmark die hard, one dollar or seven, it all helps. If you do, leave me a comment either here or on my Facebook page letting me know you did. I'm going to have a super-fantastic drawing for a super fantastic product from a super fantastic group for one person who will help me celebrate my birthday this way. It will likely be something from Bead for Life or Ergon. Or maybe both. Because I have a thing for vocational training for women trying to feed their families.

And if you really, really want to buy me something, I'd love one of these.

And, oh, an undisturbed bubble bath long enough for the water to grow cold. Ah, now that's where it's at.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What I Want My Daughter To Know

Sweetheart, as much as I want to deny it, you are rapidly approaching a time that will be especially difficult for all of us, a time when what your peers think will be far more important that what your parents think. I hope I'm not too late already.

If you hear nothing else in this letter, hear this: Guard your heart. Let no man but Jesus rule your life.

I have a feeling you already think I'm horribly out-of-touch with reality. That I have No Clue how life is for you, and you're right. Only you know what goes on in your every moment and what comes to mind in the lonely times. But I do know this much; I know that for me, the fifth grade was the beginning of the loss of my childhood.

Sweetie, hold on to your childhood with all that is within you. Play babies. Play house. Play pretend. Be young. Don't, don't, don't play at being a grown-up. You have your whole life to be big. Be little while you still can.

In fifth grade I began to give away little pieces of my heart. I remember fighting with my sister about love. She insisted I didn't know what love is, and I insisted I did. As it turns out, I didn't, but that didn't stop me from trying to figure it out. I allowed thoughts of boyfriends to control nearly every aspect of my day. Does he like me? Do I like him? Will he like my clothes? My hair? My makeup? Will he kiss me? Does he like her more than he likes me? What about her is better? How can I be more like her?

Which leads down a rabbit hole of comparison and pain. YOU are amazing and beautiful. More and more, everyday. Don't let the affections of some boy determine your worth.

Don't carelessly give away kisses. And by careless, I don't mean frivolous. I once kissed a boy just to escape the porch. I never saw him again. And that kiss pains me far less than the ones I gave to boys that I thought I loved. Those kisses haunt me. Sometimes, even after I've been married to your daddy for fifteen years, those kisses show up in my dreams and this makes me so sad. I don't want to dream about anyone but Daddy. I want to save you from this. And I know that most people's reality will include kisses with someone they aren't married to, but if you can just hold on for a little longer, much longer if I have my way about it, you can save yourself a lot of regrets. You want to believe it's just a kiss, but that moment will imprint on your mind and it will pop up at the most inconvenient times. And whether you remember those kisses fondly or with regret, you'll wish you didn't have to remember them at all.

Really, sweet, I thank God for those missed opportunities I was kicking myself about years ago. For the boyfriends I didn't have and the kisses I didn't give, for the times I was dumped because someone else was prettier or wittier than I was. For the cowardice my friends teased me mercifully about.

Interesting thing about friends. I don't know where most of them are now. I cared so much about what they thought, who they thought should be my boyfriend, whether or not they thought I should drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes, if they thought it strange that I couldn't have sleepovers on Saturday because I would miss church, if they came to my (heavily chaperoned) birthday party and ditched to go someplace more fun, what they thought I should wear or what words they thought I should use. If I had it to do over again, would I? NO WAY. For I fear I would make the same dumb, bad choices.

Fifth grade is where it all began, that trip towards adulthood, and man, I wish I'd put it off a bit longer. Now is the time for you to develop the strength of character that I didn't have. Make wise choices. In friends. In behavior. In life. It starts now, Princess. These choices will be with you forever and I pray, every day, that they are good ones.

Follow Jesus in all that you say and do, Princess, and you won't go wrong. It might feel wrong, I won't lie. When your friends tease. When you are left out. When you are rejected and hurt and angry. But Jesus loves you with an everlasting love and he won't steer you on the path to destruction. I can't say as much for your friends. I can't even say as much for your mother. But you are his child and he loves you even more than I do, as hard as it is to believe. Besides, he doesn't snarl at you when you get sassy. Use that sass and confidence to make yourself into a strong, godly woman.

You won't regret it.

I love you,

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I have a most amazing, spectacular son who is kind and compassionate and about ready to outgrow me.

I was looking through pictures last night and I can't help but think about how far we've come. And how fast it's gone. And it's completely insane.

But today, I am thankful for this:

And that she didn't change her mind. His mother gave me the best birthday gift I have ever received.

Eatin' My Words (and they don't taste sweet)

I stand corrected.

My Immigration officer is neither illiterate, nor an idiot, contrary to my prior beliefs.

You know caller ID? Yeah, sometimes it filters calls one should take.

Why that person doesn't leave a message I don't know.

Sadly, I actually do. It's due in no small part to the fact that my answering machine is a robotic man and the fact that you don't get to know you are calling me unless you know that my answering machine is a robotic man.

Because we live in smallville where voicemail isn't easy to come by. And possibly because I simply didn't care if people left a message or not.And, because my house is never quiet enough to leave a professional message.

However if people don't leave a message, I assume they are trying to sell me timeshares in Branson.

Almost the only people who do leave a message are collectors for the prior owner of our phone number. Don't judge me.

So, surprisingly, it turns out "he" is a she, who is articulate, recognized my name and knew my circumstances and could  explain in plain English WHY my homestudy didn't meet the standards. All this after explaining why our biometrics couldn't be used. A) our homestudy was insufficient and B) our form printed out wrong. Then took away the threat of "significant delay" by further encouraging me to not only try to walk in before our next biometrics appointment, but call her as soon as it is in so that she can rubber stamp me. 


And for those of you not following this saga on facebook, I got another letter yesterday, dated the day AFTER my last biometrics appointment that said showing up for our previously scheduled biometrics appointment would "significantly delay" our process. Day late, dollar short. I'm surprised the top of my head does not reside on the moon.

So, yes, I must drive an hour away to be fingerprinted with the immigrants again, and Brent must take another day off work, but.....all things being equal, this is much better than standing in Ethiopia with a child that neither Ethiopia nor the US recognizes as a citizen.  

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Tale of Two Adoptions

After Brent and I wrapped up our first adoption nearly eleven years ago, I assured myself and those around me that Next Time would be different. I wouldn't stress about being Chosen. I wouldn't stress about how Slow The Process Is. I wouldn't stress about Birthmother Anxiety. I wouldn't stress about Wait Time. I'd have a child and therefore it wouldn't be so Confounded Urgent.

Let me go on the record saying, I Was Wrong.

Eleven years ago, I didn't know that I would soon find out I was pregnant. Eleven years ago, I didn't know that God would reach out and touch me and heal my womb so that miscarriage wasn't a foregone conclusion. Eleven years ago I didn't know that I would be either pregnant or nursing for the next eight years. Eleven years ago I didn't know that every time I even considered adopting again I would find myself pregnant. (Not complaining, mind you!) ((And NO, that is NOT an announcement. This time seems to, so far, be the exception.)) And eleven years ago I had NO IDEA I would find myself head over heels in love with a little girl who lived across the ocean.

This has been one of those rollercoaster weeks I promised myself I was done with. Adoption is a process. Hoop jumping is involved. If you continue to hoop jump, you generally wind up winning. There is no sense getting all wrapped up in bad news. God has it in control. God is in the timing. You will get your child when you are supposed to get your child.

Have I spewed enough platitudes yet?

Bugger the platitudes.

You know what platitudes do? NOTHING. They are completely worthless to calm your anxieties in the middle of the night when you've woken from a dream where you were fixing your little girl's hair and you realize that No, she isn't there and No there isn't a thing in the world that you can do about it. Platitudes are completely worthless when you are asking your Sunday School class to pray for the Buerocratic nonsense to pass and you have a sobbing fit right there in the middle of a room full of people. Platitudes mean nothing when emotions are involved. Even when they are right and true.

I was completely unprepared for how much it would bother me to wait for my daughter to be home. Because though, yes, I have a house full of children that I adore, I am missing one. Why I thought that waiting would be easier after I had a child, I will never know. Inexperience, probably. Because having children only emphasizes how important it is to have them with you.

So, while I'm waiting for my dossier to be translated, and waiting for a court date, which means, I think, waiting for the rainy season to end (in the middle of this drought), and waiting for my homestudy re-write to be Fed-Exed all over for signatures, and will eventually be waiting for my travel date and then waiting for the MOWA letter, and then waiting to be submitted to embassy and then waiting to be accepted by embassy, and then waiting for an embassy date and then waiting to travel to embassy and them waiting and hoping against hope that everything clears, Please Jesus, my little girl is growing up without me.

So, if you see me in front of the green beans at the grocery store, don't ask me how and I am, and for the love of all things holy don't give me a hug, or I will break out the ugly cry.

You have been warned.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Do I Dare?

Do I dare complain about a government institution on a public forum while the cards are still being dealt?

I don't know.

I seriously doubt they are stalking random blogs to see if people are complaining about them so that they have an excuse to deny our appeals, but sometimes I wonder. I want to say, "Does it make you feel like a big man to deny a petition?"

Maybe it is better to simply post the conversation I had with an innocent bystander by the name of Social Worker regarding an illiterate person named Bureaucracy. You see, though SW wrote a 15 page document regaling B with the outstanding merits of House-Chaos and whom they would like to adopt, Bureaucracy couldn't tell if House-Chaos was approved to adopt a child. And if they were approved to adopt a child, what gender? And age? And race? And how old? And from where? Could the child have special needs? And assuming that House-Chaos could indeed adopt some child of unknown origin, gender, age, or need, on what merit?

Because Bureaucracy can't read. On this it is clear. Due to the fact that fourteen pages told Bureaucracy just those particular matters. Though, I do confess, page fifteen is negligent on fulfilling those specific details. It contains a happy little line approving House Chaos to adopt one or two children and approximately four signatures. (From people residing in approximately four different cities.)

So....Mrs. Chaos emailed Coordinator, who emailed the Big Boss who finally decided that this must be because the final statement of the fifteen page document just approved House-Chaos to adopt without specifying who, what, why, when, and where.

So...Mrs. Chaos emailed Social Worker (with her tail between her legs since social worker has already rushed aforementioned fifteen page document AND had it approved by no fewer than four people) to request, politely, that she RE-DO her work. Which will also require numerous trips to a courier office to get all the necessary signatures and notarizations before it can be resubmitted to Bureaucracy.

The conversation went a little something like this (I may or may not be exaggerating):

Social Worker,
Bureaucracy apparently can’t read and therefore didn’t think you specified WHO we could adopt. Is it possible for you to change the last line of our 15 page document to say, in addition to “one or two children,” either gender, from birth to ten years of age with mild or correctable special needs from Ethiopia. Or whatever version of that sounds good to you.

I’m sorry. If they had eyes and bothered to read the rest of the document, they would know such, but apparently the last line is all that matters.

to which she replied:
*politely and professionally*

and then again:
will do (because she also had to email Supervisor who had to re-read the document to see what the heck we all missed, because though they write these 15 page documents EVERY STINKING DAY and have been rubber stamped for years, TODAY we are all ignoramuses. Ignoramusi?)

to which I had to reply:
do you realize it is a signature page? (which means that no only does she have to rewrite it, we have to courier it around the country to get it redone)

to which she replied:
but then asked the question, whole doc or last line (in regard to one of my earlier post scripts)

at which time I brought out the snark:

I think only the final statement. Because anyone with eyes and a fifth grade education could read the rest of the document if they so desired. (thus eliminating the need for this conversation in the first place)

To which she replied:
tell me what you really think.

And you would think I would have shut up at this point, seeing as this woman holds our future in her figurative hands, or brain as the case may be, but no:
You don’t want to know.
And do you disagree? I mean, clearly, I was hoping to adopt seven 14 year old handicapped boys from Venezuela. Your document said as much.
(and just in case she wasn't fluent in sarcasm)
Ah well, if this is the worst that happens to us in this adoption, we will be very fortunate.
(which is true, but makes this day no less annoying)

At which point Social Worker responded very politely and professionally and did exactly as I asked on a Friday afternoon.

Her re-write is currently being emailed all over tarnation in hopes that THIS TIME it will meet the approval of The Man. And will be couriered all over Heck and Gone beginning tomorrow.

OK, yes, it could be a whole lot worse. They did not rubber stamp a rejection. They gave me 45 days to fix the problem. They already have my fingerprints. We are waiting on nothing except The Document which I should have in my paws by Thursday and should have in Bureaucracy's paws by Monday the 19th at the latest. This is not the end of the world. It is not even the end of the adoption. It may be the end of my sanity, but that was holding on by a thin shred anyway.
Due in no small part to the fact that we are trying to, at this very moment, have an eleven-year-old birthday party/sleepover.

I am a little perturbed by a government institution that is being so picky on this detail when two weeks ago another governmental institution wouldn't take in four children under the age of four who were being left alone in a motel room at night. I understand caution, but really? Is it the same institution? No. It is this dude's fault? No. But do they really think we would have bothered to submit the 15 page document should it NOT have approved us for the child we were asking? Do people really try to pull that crap? 



Some days it is harder than others.