Saturday, November 14, 2009

Foster Care and Adoption

Continuing my random adoption-related thoughts in honor of National Adoption Month:

I (obviously) feel strongly about international adoption, especially from undeveloped nations such as Ethiopia. But I also feel strongly that, especially given my religious convictions, I should not stop caring for my family and neighbors in order to care for international orphans. It should not be "one or the other" but rather both.

Thinking about this and considering the role that my family and I should play in caring for family/friends/neighbors, especially those who are orphans or wards of the state or other similar situations that result in children who are unable to be parented by their birth parents, I have come to a few conclusions.

1. My role is to love and serve people through a variety of situations. This may include permanently bringing a child into my home through adoption, temporarily bringing a child into my home through foster care, or supporting children in other ways through mentorship and meaningful relationships.

2. I feel a more urgent need meet the needs of close family, if such a situation arose, and kinship foster/adoption is some thing to which both John and I are very open. There currently is a situation where such a need might arise within our family, and we have actually started discussing what role we would play. We concluded that if the need arose, we would approach a kinship foster/adoption situation and embrace it wholeheartedly. We hope the need does not arise, though, and hope that the situation within our family can be worked out to support both the parent and the child.

3. John and I are uniquely qualified to care for children with medical needs; neither of us have a lot of exposure to pediatric medicine, but certainly it is something that we could learn. My heart strings are tugged by the little ones who come into the hospital as victims of domestic violence or neglect and as a result need foster families that have enough of a background in medicine to meet their needs at discharge. This usually also involves a significant time commitment that we are unable to make right now, so this is something that may be in our future, but not our immediate future.

Have you thought about your role? What do you think?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Christmas for Orphans

Friday, November 6, 2009

Why so many girls?

So, like I said, I am writing up some thoughts about adoption and our culture, in honor of National Adoption Month. I was just checking out the FBI. I love the pages of "forever families" as well as reviewing who is where in the process. I love that right now, there are more families than ever before who are open to sibling groups, and some who are open to older children. Love that!

But I am looking at the wait list and wondering why so many are requesting girls. I am not saying this is bad or wrong, just wondering why? I can understand the desire for a child in a specific age range, and I know some people request a specific gender because they already have children at home and want the same gender or opposite gender or something. But for people who are adopting for the first time, why choose a girl?

This really has me thinking, because we know that across the board, adoptive parents want to adopt healthy girls, as young as possible. Why is that? I have read that some parents think girls are easier to raise, or that they believe girls are less likely to have health or attachment/bonding issues. I don't think that this is actually true (I don't know what the statistics say, but overall, I don't think the data available supports this- especially on the "easier to raise" category.)

What do you think?

Personally, if I ever adopt again, I hope that we will be able to adopt brothers. Little boys to rile each other up and play in the dirt and be rough and tumble and into dirt and grubs and all sorts of things like that. Plus, John wants a tyke who is interested in sports (which, parenting the girliest girls ever, our girls are NOT cutting it...)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pro Life= Pro Adoption?

I will be honest: I have never met a person who was pro-life that was NOT pro-adoption.

Honestly, I believe the best place for a child is with their birthfamily. However, I also acknowledge that there are circumstances that make it impossible for a birthfamily to parent. Those reasons are many and varied, and not something that I wish to discuss in this post. But I do want to take a moment in this month that recognizes adoption and point out that I truly feel that the ideal situation for children is to be parented by their birth parents or through a kinship adoption.

That said, I don't understand how one could be pro-life without being pro-adoption. The idea of the pro-lifers is that they advocate for the innocents who have no voice and no other advocate. However, that advocacy does not stop when the innocent is born! No, instead, pro-lifers must continue to advocate for programs and interventions that assist birthparents in providing a quality of life to their child or that assist agencies in placing a relinquished child with a permanent, loving adoptive family. Without continuing to advocate for that child, a pro-lifer turns into an "anti-legal abortion" rather than a "pro-lifer." Proponents of the choice of life must continue to promote a quality of life for that child throughout it's life.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pro Choice= Pro Adoption?

In honor of National Adoption Month, I am writing up a few thoughts about adoption and how it fits into the modern culture of the US and the world.

In my opinion, I think if you are pro-choice, you should also be pro-adoption. Why?

Proponents of legal abortion argue that a birthmother should have options available for her when she decides that she is unwilling or unable to parent a child. They argue that abortion is the option that should be available to her. (Of course, they also argue medical necessity, and I am not going to touch that one at this point, but maybe some time...)

In the same vein, if a birthmother is looking for options when she is unwilling or unable to parent her child, adoption must be available to her. Not only because some people do not know or choose not to approach their pregnancies until after they are past the time frame when an abortion is available to them, but also because if pro-choicers are really all about the ability to choose when one becomes a parent, then they should also support the right of the birthmother to choose to no longer be a parent (through relinquishment.) If pro-choicers are truly looking to promote the right of the woman to make choices that she feels are in her best interest without regard for anyone else, then certainly, they must support a system where birthmothers are given the option of choosing to do what is solely in their best interest... an option that is not available to them if they are parenting.

This may seem flippant, and I hope you do not take it that way. I have the utmost respect for birthmothers who choose adoption when they are unable to parent. I mean no disrespect to any person who has been involved in the adoption triad. However, I am trying to really understand the viewpoint of "pro-choice" proponents, and in my attempts to do so, I simply cannot understand how someone can be pro-choice without being pro-adoption.

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

National Adoption Month!

November is National Adoption Month and I am going purple for adoption!

November is the month set aside to raise awareness of the adoption of children and youth from foster care. This year's theme is "you don't have to be perfect to be the perfect family."

Boy, isn't that the truth. If I had to be perfect in order to adopt, the Good Lord knows I never would have been able to bring Anna home. But thankfully, perfection is not required. And our little family is so perfect together. And I am so thankful (another good November theme:)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Sometimes, in the course of reading a blog or getting an email from an adoptive family, I get that pang. The uncomfortable but familiar twinge deep inside my chest that was so frequent during my own journey to adoption. I thought, at the time, that the pang was one of longing for my child, and it was. I thought that surely that pang would go away once Anna was home.

It didn't.

There are children out there who I long for- children who I love. I don't know them, and I may never know them. But I love them as deeply as a mother's heart knows how to love. I hope that one day I will be able to hold them in my arms.

And if I can't, I hope another mother will.

(Note, this does not mean that John and I are adopting, pregnant, or adding to our family in any way at this point in time. At this time, we are not sure how we will grow our family.)

(Note to my note: I really would like to add to our family in the canine department. I know there is a dog out there who needs to come live in our house and run around with my children and answer to the name Albus Dumbledore. I know it. But my guess is that John will not allow us to have a canine addition any time soon. In fact, he is much more open to human additions than canine additions. But Abigail said she would get me a dog for Christmas, so I am holding out hope.)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Check it out...

The new FBI.

I know. It's rocksome in ways you never imagined.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cute stuff for cool peeps.

How cute is that boy? Seriously? And it's not just his Ethiopian good looks, either! The boy's got Style. With a capital "S."
And now, his momma, Jennifer, is offering that style to you, too via her etsy shop.
Clothing and jewelry for the whole family. (Can't wait for the scrub shirt she is making me:)

Jennifer is a momma with true style. Her pieces aren't just designed to bring cute to a whole new level. Jennifer's goal is to sell enough shirts to buy a goat to benefit the orphans in Ethiopia. Beyond that, she hopes to sell enough items to off-set the cost of a humanitarian trip to Ethiopia later this year. You can read even more about her "150 shirt challenge" here.

I had the pleasure of meeting Jennifer, her husband, Jody, and their son, Abey while we were in Ethiopia. Watching Jennifer become a mother- hearing the passion in her voice and seeing the light in her eyes- was a beautiful process. Being a part of the process that turned her deep love for her son into a deep passion to care for the orphans of Ethiopia was a true inspiration. Please consider supporting her efforts by doing a bit of shopping.

I promise, you will look- and feel- better for it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I may have been the first, but I know I am not the last.

Check out how popular the name "Sparrow" is becoming:)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


The 2008-2009 court season is over in Ethiopia.

The FBI has record of 92 families who passed court in the past year. 105 children who were (or will shortly be) placed with families. Even more Gladney families and more children that weren't tracked by the FBI.

This warms my heart.

The worldwide problem of children without families is not going to be solved by 92 Gladney families. Placing 105 children into US homes does not make life easier for the other millions around the world. There is no easy solution to finding the love, stability, and families these children deserve.

But this is a start. And I am proud to have been a part of it. Even in this small way.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Better than an actual post? Possibly.

It's hard to believe these pictures were taken almost 3 months ago. Even more difficult to believe that we have been home for 10 months as of tomorrow. I cannot even believe how much Anna has grown and changed- not just physically- since she's been home. It's amazing.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Is anyone thinking of going to Ethiopian heritage and culture camp? Has anyone been there?

We are out for BU '09 as my request for time off was denied (boo!)*

But we do want to connect with some more Ethio families, and I just wanted some feedback from anyone who will or has attended.

*We will be in Chicago the last weekend in June- the 25th to the 30th-ish if anyone wants to play! Email or FB me! yellow_grace at yahoo dCheck Spellingot com

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Changes, Again

I made some more changes to the list.

My sister had pointed out that with nearly 100 forever families on the page, it was getting a bit crowded! So I went ahead and separated the forever families page by court seasons.

What do you think?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Because I am a mother.

Some of you may know coffeemom. She is a woman who inspires me to have a deeper faith in- a deeper appreciation of- a deeper love for God and those around me. She has been an encouragement to me, probably more often than she knows because I don't always take the time to tell her that. While I have never met her in "real life," in many ways, I aspire to be like her. She is sincere, humble, passionate, broken, and desperately seeking the One who makes all things right.

She is longing for her daughter right now.

Bureaucracy is probably the hardest part of adoption- especially international adoption. And right now, Michele, Tom, their children already home, and their daughter who awaits them in Ethiopia are victims of bureaucracy. They are stuck in a series of "pass the buck" communications within the US government. They want their daughter home. And they are being told that she cannot come home, because of policies and procedures that aren't even yet established. You can read more about their struggle here.

I am one fairly insignificant person. I am not rich, famous, or politically powerful. I don't know any people who are; I have no idea what I can do to help bring Marta home. But I do know the One who holds this whole situation in his hands, the One who cares more about the hearts of Michele, Tom, and Marta than anyone could imagine. I know the One who designed us to be in families- the one who places the orphan into a family, the One who adopted us into His family. And I know that He is working out this whole scenario to bring Him glory.

Our finite minds may not understand this- the suffering that this family is going through- the pain of separation of parents and child, the fears that Marta has, the un-quenched longings. We cannot understand how this can be part of God's plan, and yet we know that He will work out all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. That is what He promises to do.

So let's call out to the One- the grand designer of this family, this unique process of coming to be a family through adoption. While our hands are tied and our voices weak, let's bring our hearts to the One whose strength is immeasurable and whose word is Truth. Instead of sitting and listening to people who make empty promises- or no promises at all, let's run to the One who is the fulfillment of every promise of love and eternal life.

Will you join me and many others around this world in praying for Michele, Tom, and Marta on Tuesday, May 12 from 8-8:30pm EST? Of course, you can feel free to pray whenever you wish as well- and certainly, if you know someone or have any connection, I know Michele and her family would appreciate you advocating for them. But if you are like me, just one fairly insignificant person without any way of helping, will you please give your time and commit to praying for this family? Prayer works.

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

Hebrews 4:16

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


So, my presentation for the International Fair is on Thursday. I am looking for ideas. Here's what I have so far:
  • coffee beans (American and Ethiopian, seriously- they look different!) and the legend of how coffee was discovered
  • Pictures of various places in Ethiopia
  • Pictures of native Ethiopians in traditional (and non-traditional) garb
  • Pictures of coffee ceremony and a little explanation of roasting the beans, popcorn, etc.
  • A few words/phrases in Amharic
  • CD of Ethiopian music playing
  • A few Ethiopian story books
  • Some banana-leaf artwork to be displayed
  • Some jewelry to be displayed
  • The girls and I will be wearing traditional Ethiopian garb
  • Pictures of injera and other foods
  • Map of Africa with Ethiopia marked on it
  • Drum, baskets, "Desta" doll and other handcrafts
  • Berbere in a bowl (to smell- and taste- if you dare!)

So, what else can I do to make this fun and informative? And yes, it has to be something easily accessible! This will be a presentation to kids (young elementary) and their families, so the age-range will be wide. Any little games we can play? Help me out!

Almost 2 and writing a letter...

Anna will be 2 in a little over a week. I cannot believe that she has been home a full 6 months!

I have compiled a photo album for her birthmom and will be including a few pieces of artwork Anna has created as well as a letter from me (and one from Abigail) in the package I send.

I am kind of at a standstill in writing this letter; it is just so difficult to know what I should- or shouldn't- include. I mean, the photos speak for themselves. Anna is smiling, growing, well-loved. But if I was her birthmom, separated by thousands of miles and cultural differences, what would I want to know?

Sure, I would want to know that Anna is growing, and what she is doing developmentally. But what I would really want is to know if she is truly happy. How do I express that to a woman whose cultural differences may mean that happiness is much different than what I think it is?

And then there are the little things... do I call her "Anna" or "Misrak"? Do I mention that Anna will soon have a daddy? Do I talk about moving, and swimming lessons, and the scores of dogs that Anna chases after each times she sees them?

I don't know. I really want to reassure her birthmother's heart- a heart that is still so full of love for Anna. But how do I do that?

What do you think?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Help Needed: Passport "Stamp"

This is a fun one!

I am hosting the "Ethiopia" booth at the elementary school's "International Fair." I will be displaying all sorts of stuff from Ethiopia, playing Ethiopian music, wearing the traditional garb I brought back with me, teaching a few Amharic words, etc. The kids get to go around to the different country booths and get their "passport" stamped as they learn about the different countries and cultures.

I need to have some sort of "stamp" to use in their passports. It could be a rubber/ink stamp or a sticker. It should be the shape of Ethiopia or something else that is representative of Ethiopia.

Any ideas?

(Also, feel free to share any ideas that will make my booth better!)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Thoughts on That List

There are times when I worry I have created a monster.

No, not my human children, but my Internet love child. That little list.

Even though I am no longer in the process, that list has a hold on me. I smile widely each time I get an email of a new family to be added to the paperchase or wait list page. I go nuts when the boards lite up with news of referrals... what day, how old, what gender, and who might have pictures of your little one for you? When I get confirmation that someone is moving from the referral/court process page to the forever family page, my heart jumps. I am so happy to be the recorder of these life-shaping events. On the one hand, I am so proud of that list because it has such potential to create and spread joy.

But on the other hand, it also has potential to create sorrows. I look at that list, study it daily, and sometimes question if I have done the right thing. When I see families waiting- when I send check-in emails to see if I missed the news of their referral... when they wait for months and months to see their child's face, I am so sad for them. I know that wait- that longing. I know that it will ease, but never completely disappear, even once they are holding their child in their arms. I know that they will carry that desire- that yearning- for every child who is waiting to come home to their forever family, and that yearning will stay with them.

The worst is the referral/court process page. Long waits for court dates. Failures to pass. Months of watching your child grow up- of missing them, of wanting them, of loving them while they know so little of you and have no idea how deeply they are loved. I cannot imagine that pain. And to look at that list and think about those families who are waiting on a mere slip of paper... to know that it is just some tree pulp and ink that is separating them from their child... there aren't words for that. To know that this list is spreading the news of that heartache does make me question if this list is the right thing to do.

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your journey by being the scribe of the steps in your process. I am honored and humbled. And I hope and pray for each family on that list that your children will soon be in your arms.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

PP #2

Last Saturday we had our second post-placement visit. I cannot believe we have been home nearly 6 months! Anna is such a different child... and so much has changed.

The visit went well. I didn't clean nearly as much as I did last time, so that helped take the stress off a bit. On the other hand, my older daughter looked like someone had beat her up (full story here)... I wasn't quite sure what kind of impression that made!

(BTW- I am so glad her injury happened at school and is documented as happening at school! Totally relieves any concerns of "are you abusing your kid?")

For a little update, here is Anna's big developmental milestones:

Age: almost 23 months

Speaks these words: Momma, Daddy, John, Abi, Sissy, Anna, Lily, GaGa, PePaw, Teta, MiMi, yes, no, mine, uh-uh. uh-oh, out, off, on, up, down, more, milk, cup, eat, go, coat, cheese, shoes, poop, pee, potty, animal sounds (moo, baaa, tweet, etc), please, thank you, Jesus, night-night, sleep, doggie, kitty, Ty, stop it, yay!, funny. Her receptive language is phenomenal and she can understand everything (we may have to start spelling around her soon!)

Anna runs, jumps with both feet off the ground, climbs up stairs (would climb down, if I let her!), climbs up pretty much everything and is basically on the go all the time. She likes to throw things and can roll a ball back and forth. She can feed herself using a spoon/fork but is not yet ready to drink out of an open cup. She can scribble on paper and fingerpaint. She sleeps 10-11 hours at night and naps about 2 hours in the afternoon. She eats everything but loves carbs and cheese the best!

Anna understands relationships between objects and their shape/size (puzzles, hide-and-seek). She can point to all of her body parts. She has had a few successes on the potty- some where she "held it" until she was on the potty while others were just fortunate circumstances. She can follow 2 and 3 step commands (go into your room and get a pair of shoes.) She enjoys reading books, playing with water in the bathtub, and any/all physical activities. She understands rules and consequences and is responsive to time-outs. She is working on learning colors, shapes, letters, and manners.

Anna is well-liked in her preschool class, but she isn't as interested in the other kids as they are in her. She knows Momma, Daddy/John, Sissy/Abigail and understands that they are the special people in her life. She looks to them for her comfort and approval. She also has favorite teachers and does not cry anymore when she is dropped off/picked up at preschool. She is wary of strangers.

Anna has a strong personality. She is very happy-go-lucky most of the time and is easily redirected. However, she can be very strong-willed and will engage in battles of will. She is becoming very independent. She loves shoes more than almost anything else but also loves animals and will follow the cat all around the house. She admires and emulates her big sister. She laughs a lot and has a very infectious laugh. She has a great sense of humor and is developing some subtleties in her humor that are uncommon at her age. She is not scared of much, but the vacuum remains intimidating.

I love my girl!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Green Card Advice

1. Don't loose your newly-adopted child's green card. It will cause you stress.

2. If you loose it, be prepared to pay $370 to replace it. Search your entire house several times over to make sure it is actually gone. Balk at the fee (which includes $80 for biometrics... um, for your toddler...) and decide that maybe you don't actually have to replace it.

3. File for a social security number for your child as soon as you get their green card. If you need a SSN to file taxes, but have lost your child's green card, file for a temporary taxpayer ID number using the visa on their passport with the I-551 stamp.

4. Find out if you need the green card to file for readoption. You probably don't. File for readoption so that your child can become a citizen and you won't have to worry about her green card. This can probably be done without a lawyer.

5. Feel better once you realize you will, in fact, be able to file your taxes and take advantage of your adoption tax credit.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Keepin' up

Just did some updating to the list. Added court dates, moved people from paperchase to wait list, etc.

It is a pretty big job to keep all the info on there up-to-date, and with everything I've been doing here in my "real life," I have been struggling to keep up with the constantly changing and evolving body of information associated with the list. Laura has been a great help, but I know that she is busy and will soon be adding another to the mix.

So, this is my invitation to you... please email me if you know that info on the FBI needs to be updated; include the updates/revisions that need to be made. Or, if you are interested in helping keep the list up in a more permanent fashion, let me know!

yellow_grace at yahoo dot com

I am working on a post about thoughts at the 3 month home mark (Christmas Eve for us:) But if I had to sum it up, I would say that we have officially entered the really fun stage of toddlerhood. I'm loving it!