Sunday, June 29, 2008
"Momma, I really just want to get my little sister, because then I can be a big sister. And big sisters are awesome."
Friday, June 27, 2008
Today's Words of Wisdom are especially apropos:
Thursday, June 26, 2008
One of the things that I worry about with these prolonged delays (and yes, this is trivial and stupid) is that I am going to become irrelevant. No one is going to read my blog. My waiting will become boring, and people will stop caring. Does that sound obnoxiously self-absorbed? Let me explain.
I have been blogging since September, 2005. Nearly 3 years. It is not so much that I want the world to know all of my business or that I am some sort of exhibitionist, because I'm not. But what I have realized, especially with this adoption blog, is that while I am a tiny, insignificant part of the world, blogging allows me to feel like I matter. As if, in some way, I am making a mark on the world. I am helping this world become a little smaller, a little more connected, a little more informed, a little more supportive. I feel like I am bringing a bit of lasting goodness into this world. And that makes me feel like no matter how small and insignificant my life is, I can make a difference, even if it is just to bring a smile or virtual hug to some reader that I don't even know about.
So as this delay continues, as my wait for a referral drags on, I worry that I will become irrelevant. That I will loose touch with what the majority of my readers think about and want to talk about. I worry that my longing for my daughter will turn into whining, and my readers will tune out because I will have nothing meaningful to add to their lives. (*Note, I worry about a lot of other things, too. Most of the other things I worry about are far more significant and important than this. But I am, by nature, a bit of a worrier.) And if this disconnect happens, I worry that my ability to leave a positive mark on the world will be diminished.
And then, there is this other part, too. Since I've gone from just a "blogger" to an "adoption blogger" I have found this incredible and unexpected support system. This community of bloggers, connected only by a bit of broadband cable and binary code, has become a life-vest in the times where my worry and sorrow have come in drowning floods. Never before have I felt so indebted to Al Gore for creating the Internet; this expression of the creativity and ingenuity that God has instilled in mankind has made this journey so much easier. "Shared joy is double joy, shared sorrow is half sorrow." This has proven so true, as I have shared the joys and sorrows of this journey, and the journey of others, through this digital reality of bloggerdom.
So, readers, thanks for joining in my journey. Thank you for supporting me, for doubling my joy, for halving my sorrows. I hope that I never become irrelevant to you, because you enrich my life so much. Here's to you, readers!
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Also, BETH from AAI, who sent me an email today.... I have tried to reply to your email twice, but the message is apparently being blocked. Can you email me an alternative email address to send my response?
As always, I am happy to field your questions, readers. So even if you don't feel comfortable posting something here, feel free to email me at the address on the right. I promise, I don't bite!
On Monday we had a conference call with Gladney and the Ethiopian process families. I learned a lot, and yes, most of my 17 questions were addressed (some of the items brought up by the Gladney staff were worded almost exactly as my question was phrased:) A reader asked what my "gut feeling" is.
Honestly, I wish I had a gut feeling. But the call left me realizing that there are still so many unknowns. That is part and parcel in the world of international adoption. I can either accept it, or not accept it, but I probably can't change it.
So, I accept it. I am working on redefining my expectations, which has been difficult. I now hope to have my little Sparrow home before Abigail's birthday (falls at Thanksgiving time) or Christmas at the latest. I know it may be sooner than that, and I am working on accepting that it may be later than that. And I am back to working on my list of benefits of post-court-closure travel. (Feel free to add to the list!)
Abigail asked when her sister would be home. For the first time, instead of answering "soon!" or "maybe at the end of the summer!" I told her that I honestly don't know.
"But you know who does know?" I asked her.
"God knows." And that was a big encouragement to both of us.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
When: Today, June 24th 7:30-8:00 pm EST
Where: A quiet place, in your home, with friends, alone, anywhere!
How: I would like to specifically prayer for J. Scott Brown as he travels to Ethiopia this week. Additionally, please pray for the continued delays, as well as for the families who are waiting to be united with their children.
Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, "In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, 'Give me legal protection from my opponent.'
"For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, 'Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.'"
And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Lots of good questions from everyone!
*One of the guys at work calls people "G" like "What up, G?" But he calls me "Amazing G." Get it?:)
I will be totally honest. I have 17 written out questions that I intend to ask during this call. Overboard? Maybe. But besides being naturally curious (sometimes to my own detriment) I also use the acquisition of knowledge as one of my coping mechanisms.
I just forwarded the list to my case worker. Hopefully she will still let me participate in the call:)
Saturday, June 21, 2008
But the thing is, just because the situation isn't as bad as it could be doesn't mean that it's easy or pleasurable. And while it's not as hard as what others have faced or are facing, it is a huge shift for me.
Having a large age range and being open to medical needs, I had never seriously considered that I might wait more than 5 months for my referral. I had never considered that I might not have my child home before court closure. It truly never occurred to me. And I don't think that was an unrealistic expectation, given my referral preferences and my wait list date. In fact, many people who have requested girls with a much more narrow age range have received their referrals.; it continues to boggle my mind that I have not.
I know that it will all happen in God's time, but what I am saying is that logically, mentally, I am facing a reality that I never even considered. This is the most difficult thing right now. This reorganization of my thought process. It's like telling me that gravity doesn't exist or that Abigail is not my daughter. Inconceivable! And that's my daily reality. I am slowly finding a way to wrap my mind around this, but it is slow-going.
So while we are all struggling and facing various difficulties, let's not diminish the suffering of others. Let's not put these hard times on a scale and rate them as "not so bad" and "much worse." Let's not pretend that the suffering of someone else should negate our own suffering. Rather let's be supportive. Let's know that this is all difficult, and seek to comfort each other. And let's turn to the Comforter of all souls.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
20K for this adoption? That's nothing for the one who used a few loaves and fish to feed thousands.
Negative attitudes from strangers about the precious love I have for my daughter? Laughable, considering the suffering of Christ because of his love for us.
And the waiting? Oh, the waiting. God really knows about the waiting. The waiting He does, every day. He reveals his beauty in all of creation, and His love is the foundation for every hug, every smile, every whispered "I love you." And yet, we do not see His beauty; we do not know His love- we miss it, caught up in our own lives. He has created a world that offers only a taste of heaven, but what a sweet taste that is. And yet, this masterful chef is not given the credit for the delicious moments of life. Oh yes, He knows about waiting- about longing. That is how He spends His days. Waiting for us- longing for the crown of His creation to return to Him. How His arms ache to hold us. How he desires to have intimacy with us- to whisper secret sonnets to our broken hearts. How He wants us to be near to Him, to join him in the heavenly mansion He has prepared for us- to welcome us into our perfect home! Every day, all day, for thousands of years, He has longed for his children. Oh yes, he knows about the waiting.
My heart longs for my daughter. But how much more does the Author of Love long for us? So to those who wait, be encouraged. Your Father knows your heart, and he hears your prayers.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
22 weeks waiting to meet my daughter.
To help pass the time, please leave a comment with one of your fave links to something funny or uplifting! I could really use it:)
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Q: How long will it take for the court families to get through court once the delays are resolved?
Q: Will there be any way to expedite families who have been on hold in the court process?
Q: For families who will receive referrals after the present delays are resolved, how long will it take to get them through the court process?
Q: For families who are unable to pass court before closure, and for families who accept referrals during court closure, how long of a "backlog" will there be when court re-opens?
And that about sums up what I know at this point- there are an awful lot of unknowns. For someone who does not deal well with the unknown and doesn't even like good surprises, this is very difficult.
When: Today, June 17th 7:30-8:00 pm EST
Where: A quiet place, in your home, with friends, alone, anywhere!
How: Pray for my agency, Gladney, the families and children affected, and for a quick resolution. Pray for government officials, that God will be with them and give them wisdom. Please pray especially for the court process families and those who are "In the Window" on the wait list. For the families that have seen their child's face, how hard is this time of knowing them without being able to hold them. And for "window" families... our children are waiting for us, in Gladney's care center, without us. And as we get closer and closer to court closure, they are facing even longer waits to be united with their forever families.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Today my referral window closes. 5 months of waiting for my daughter... it flew by, in a painfully slow manner. I will officially be a post-window referral.
Friday, June 13, 2008
So, I don't attach any significance to this date, but I know some do. At any rate, it is Friday! I am off today, the whole weekend, and Monday, so this is a nice, long, relaxing weekend for me.
And just to celebrate Friday (and hopefully some good news that involves families making it though court!) here is a little something you might enjoy:)
Thursday, June 12, 2008
I think discrimination in this country has become a practice in subtly. We have laws that protect against blatant discrimination, yet discrimination continues. In most cases, it is very subtle. (Not that there aren't obvious cases!)
Discrimination can occur based on race, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, health status, socioeconomic status... In my life, I have only been on the receiving end of discrimination a few times, an only recently have I felt discrimination as an adult.
As a child, when I would experience discrimination, I would never know how to react; I would be hurt, frustrated, angry, and question what I was doing wrong. As an adult, with a much more firm sense of myself, my heritage, my abilities, I still feel torn when I experience discrimination. I am never sure how to react. I feel that I might be unprepared to face discrimination that is directed at my child.
I will be honest: often, when I see or experience discrimination, I kind of feel like "What's the point? Speaking up is not going to change anything. Why bother?" But as I wrote before, this adoption journey (which has made me much more aware of discrimination in this country) has lit a fire in me to "be a part of the solution" so to speak. To be the person I want my daughters to be- to boldly, but respectfully and logically, approach these problems head on. Not to mention, Momma Bear will not be happy if someone is picking on my Baby Bear!
Personally, in my little community I see more religious/socioeconomic status discrimination than anything else. As a matter of fact, as a community that attracts a high rate of international MDs/PhDs (and beyond), many of the most educated and well-to-do persons in our community are "non-traditional;" they are people of color and from all different nationalities. And yet, I can see how even they are recipients of religious discrimination from some of the "home grown" nurses and ancillary staff.
I feel it is so important to have a respect for all people- if for no other reason than they were created by God. This can be hard to do at times- very hard, depending on the person:) But this is what I want to teach my daughters: all people are given value by God- it's what they do with it that matters.
Anyway, all this to say:
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Apparently, discussing your dissatisfaction with someone's behavior is okay, as long as you are complaining that their behavior is offensive due to religious content. Complaining about someone's behavior is not okay if you are complaining that they are condescending and discriminating.
This is what the Moderator of the group considers "bashing." This is what I call expressing an opinion in an honest and respectful way- I also call this "calling it like I see it." Notice, I did not call names or use foul/inflammatory/offensive language. I just stated the ways in which I was dissatisfied.
This is why I can't be on the group anymore. It's why I went to the gladney_africa group. I can't handle someone who is so fundamentally flawed limiting my freedom of speech in whatever way fancies her. I hope all you Gladney families will join me on the gladney_africa group, where freedom of speech is a gift we freely enjoy.
"This is NOT what normally happens," she said, as I tried to keep from laughing. Once the bleeding stopped and a bandaid was put on, she gave me another good line,"It better not bleed again, because that is not normal!"
The cutest part was when she got to pick out a sticker afterwards. The receptionist was laying out the "girly" stickers. Abigail finally saw one she liked- a Polly Pocket who happened to be black. She stuck it proudly to her chest and proclaimed "I think this Polly Pocket looks like she is from Ethiopia. I think my sister will be beautiful like her!"
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Anyway, to any who may stop by and be considering Gladney's Ethiopia program, please rest assured that their program is in no danger of closing!
They are still giving referrals, however, due to the delay in court cases, they have too many families in the court process to allow them to continue giving referrals at this time. There are 2 things that will need to happen for referrals to resume:
1- The situation causing delays in the court process needs to be resolved. A resolution is likely this week.
2- Some of the families presently in the court process (there are 34 right now!) need to pass court.
To my knowledge, there is only one person who acts as the legal representative for all Gladney court cases at this point in time. While that may change in the future, you can imagine that representing 34 families is a lot of work! They need to move some families through the court process in order to make room for more families to enter the court process.
Gladney is dependent on the humanitarian aid provided by traveling families to help support the care centers. Right now, they are in need of diapers, and there appears to be even a national shortage in Ethiopia of the brands that are available there. Gladney wants as many families as possible to be able to travel and pick up their children, not only so that these children can be in their forever family, but also because the traveling families serve a practical purpose in helping support the operations of the care center through their humanitarian aid, and help provide for the children who are still waiting in the care centers.
So rest assured, Gladney is processing families through court as quickly as they can, and will resume referrals as soon as they can.
And as a note, while I don't share everything I know in this public forum, I read every comment and try to respond via email to those requesting clarification. Please feel free to email me at yellow_grace at yahoo dot com if you have questions. I hope my blog is informative and helpful, not stress-inducing!
When I went onto the wait list for my agency, the predicted that they would give me a referral within 3-5 months. That period, the 3-5 month mark in waiting (for me, it is April 16-June 16) is referred to as "The Window."
Some people are given referrals before they enter "The Window," and some are matched after they exit "The Window," but on the whole, Gladney gives most referrals within that 3-5 month time frame.
Sorry for not clarifying that sooner:)
Monday, June 9, 2008
My solution? Just avoid getting my hair cut during The Window. Which was working, until about week 18. That's when things got a little hairy (pun intended. Harhar.)
Like the rest of my family, I have thick hair. It gets weighed down easily. The majority of my hair cut is spent thinning it out to make it manageable. It gets more full as it grows out, but eventually, it gets to the point where it is just plain bushy and unmanageable. Which is where we are now.
So I finally caved. Especially after the announcement of the delays in the court process (and subsequent delays in referrals.) So tomorrow at noon, I am getting my wild, bushy head of hair cut. (Did you read that, Jessica, oh lovely caseworker of mine who is *hopefully* bursting at the seams to give me a referral as soon as she gets the go-ahead from the in-country reps?) Yes, tomorrow at noon would be a bad time for me to get "The Call." Well, 12:20 would be worse- I am sure that would be right about half-way.
Note- not that I would be unhappy to get The Call. I would be elated, to be sure! However, I really have gotten past the point of wanting a hair cut and to the point of needing a hair cut. So any time after 12:45 EST would be a much better time for the call, okay? But if you can only fit me in at 12:09, that will work for me!
*Note 2- Do you think that by indicating that I don't want to get the call, reverse psychology will kick in, and Jessica will call just because I said not to? Stranger things have happened.
*Note 3- Please, please, please people- issue some opinions!
*Note 4- I am very happy for all the families who will be allowed to proceed. Kind of Jealappy, actually. But mostly happy. And I am praying for good news to continue, for the other families delayed by the situation to get the go-ahead to proceed in court, and for the other waiting families to start receiving referrals soon.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
The good news is that MOWA has agreed to begin issuing opinions for some Gladney court process families, based on pre-determined criteria. They are committed to placing as many children into families as possible, and in light of the impending court closure, they have agreed that it is in the best interest of the children if they proceed with these court cases.
The not-so-great news is that the situation is continuing to delay the court process for some families. This delay is definitely a bummer, but again, MOWA does understand the desire to complete as many adoptions as possible before the court closure, and will begin issuing opinions for the affected families as soon as the situation is resolved.
The most personal aspect, for me, is that Gladney continues to hold off on making referrals until the outcome of the situation is resolved. This means my referral will be delayed. Depending on the length of the delays, when referrals resume, and the court process after I accept a referral, it is very possible that I will not be able to pick up my little girl until after the courts re-open in October. While I understand and agree with Gladney's decision, this is very disappointing. However, I do trust and have every confidence in them; they have my best at heart, as well as my daughter's. They are the experts, and if this is what they have determined the best step at this point, then so be it.
Linda- April 17
Nnenne- April 18
Chris and Jess- April 24
Jan- April 25
Meredith- April 27
Dan and Tiffany- April 28
M & R- April 29
Leslie- May 1
Haze- May 2
Jared and Amy- May 4
Teresa- May 12
Jennifer and Jody- May 15
Jan- May 16
Kristy- May 19
Faith- May 19
Heather- May 20
Teresa- May 22
Jodi- May 30
Christine- June 1
Faith, Again- June 6
Given the present uncertainties about when referrals will resume, I don't think I will re-open referral guesses for a third round. I just can't right now. But I do appreciate every guess and good wish:)
Saturday, June 7, 2008
I have, of course, thought of all of the negatives of traveling in October. Can you help me come up with some benefits?
Here is the list of benefits to October travel that I presently have:
1. My FMLA would encompass Thanksgiving, Abigail's birthday, my graduation, Abigail's winter break from school, Christmas, and New Years. Might even have my sister's birthday, if I play my cards right:)
2. I might get to travel with some fun people, like my friend Jen!
Um, yep, that's all I got. Help me out, people!
3. Cheaper airfare than summer travel (thanks jessica!)
4. Lots of potential to travel with cool people! (thanks rebecca!)
5. Better weather! (thanks ANTME's Momma!)
6. Great weather and Ethiopian Holidays! (thanks Aimee!)
7. The countryside should be fresh and green, and there should not be rolling blackouts (or power rationing.) (thanks Christine!)
8. Major help in the child-managing arena if I get to travel with Jennifer and Jody- a stand-in granny is an awesome offer! (thanks Jennifer!)
9. One less week of Presidental Campaigning! (thanks Emy!)
Thursday, June 5, 2008
As in slightly jealous of you, but still happy for you. You know, the way you feel when someone behind you on the wait list gets their referral. Somewhat jealous, but still so happy for them.
Sometimes, though, waiting makes the jealappy turn into more of a jeality. As in slightly jealous of the other person, and having a pity party for yourself. Most of the time, I can avoid that feeling. But sometimes, I am weak, and succumb to the "poor me, poor Sparrow, poor Abigail" line of thinking.
In those moments, and in the moments where jealappy becomes JEALappy (as in jealous>happy), I have to take a break. Get away from the adoption world, and focus on why I am adopting. I spend time with Abigail, remember what a precious gift she is, and refocus on what matters: that this has been God's plan all along, and he will be faithful to see it though.
I never want my adoption process to become one of comparison and jealousy. This is not a competition; getting your referral, a court date, a travel date- these are not things to compare to others. Because God knows the plans he has for them, and God knows the plans he has for me. And even though I can't always understand his plan, I know this: God's plan is good.
So, as you think about it, can you remember to say a prayer for me? Pray against a spirit of jealousy (which I have escaped, only by the grace of God) and pray that my love, gratitude, thankfulness, and joy will increase despite, or maybe because of, my present circumstances.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Thank you to everyone who participated in the prayer time and fasting yesterday. The peace and comfort of the Holy Spirit are with me. Yesterday was such a blessing; one moment that sticks out was when a nurse put down everything to stop and pray with me. The love and support I feel from this adoption blogging community as well as my family, friends, and co-workers is encouraging and hope-filled. Please continue to pray- I know that our prayers are powerful and effective.
I found yesterday, as much as I prayed about the situation, that my heart was simply breaking for the children. Not just the children I know, not just the child that will be mine, but the children who are waiting for parents. The children in the orphanage, and the children who will come into the orphanage to take their place, waiting. God wants these children in families- it's been His plan all along.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
I will be fasting from recreational use of the Internet, and will not be checking blogs, moderating comments, or checking email (unless, of course, I get my referral call... Have to keep hoping:)
Please join in prayer and fasting as you are able. Maybe you could fast during one meal, and rather than eating, spend that time in prayer? If that is not possible, please do join with us in prayer tonight, from 7:30-8:oopm EST.
I know that prayer is powerful and effective. Thank you for your prayers.
Monday, June 2, 2008
While I do not feel that Ethiopia is on this path, I do think that it is so important for anyone in the international adoption process, or anyone considering the international adoption process, to be aware of the ways in which you can help ensure that all activities taken on your behalf by your adoption agency are ethical. Learn about the agency you are considering; explore Hague accreditation and consider that as a guiding point as you choose an agency. Know what to expect during international adoption (which is pretty much unpredictable!) and moderate your own responses to make sure that you are doing what is in the best interest of the children.
We cannot ensure that everything that happens in the country we choose is ethical; we are not there, and we are not experiencing it first-hand. But we have the responsibility to do our part. If you are interested in learning more about ethical adoption practices and choosing an ethical adoption agency, there are many resources available. An easily-accessed resource is the Adoption Agency Research Yahoo Group.
I am so glad to be working with Gladney, whose reputation is unparalleled in the world of adoption, both domestic and international.
We actually watched Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Green Gables-The Sequel on YouTube. I loved the books (all 8 in the series) as a child, and still rank them among some of my all-time favorite reads (right up there with HP!)
Even though it is not at all based on the books, I might be forced into watching Anne of Green Gables- The Continuing Story. Just because I love Anne.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Under circumstances like these, there is not much we can do. But we do know who is able to work all things out for the good of those who love him! The families from my agency have organized a time of prayer, and I hope that you will consider participating.
When: Tuesday, June 3rd 7:30-8:00 pm EST
Where: A quiet place, in your home, with friends, alone, anywhere!
How: Pray for my agency,Gladney, the families and children affected by the delays, and for a quick resolution to the situation.
What if I want to do more?:
You could commit to an entire day of prayer on Tuesday. You can even take it to the next level and fast on Tuesday. The fasting could be from food, but it could be from something else you routinely have/do. For example, if you choose to fast from food, when you feel hungry, you pray instead of eating. You can have liquids. After a day of fasting, you will have increased your time in prayer.You can invite your friends and family to join you in this prayer!
"The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." James 5:16 (NIV)
As you pray, please also pray for our adoption community. There are those who have over-reacted in a sensationalist and extremist (and frankly, paranoid) manner. They are seeking to over-excite and spread opinion as fact. They are not supporting or helping other adoptive parents, nor are they seeking to listen to and support my agency. They are divisive, and their unpredictable actions may put other adoptions at risk. Please pray also for this situation- there is no need to make this already undesirable situation any worse, but I am afraid that is what some are seeking to do.