Tuesday, March 30, 2010

sick little guy

we had an eventful weekend with little P! he's not been feeling too great for at least a week and a half now, but hopefully we're on the up and up now after two visits to the pediatrician and a trip to the children's hospital on friday night. all the doctors agree that he just has some pretty bad allergies and a sinus infection, which i didn't know 10 months olds could even get. i took him to the ER on friday because he had a high fever and the shakes. upon going through triage, we found out that his temperature had gone up to 105 degrees!! i was super freaked out and felt so bad for him! he's so fair complected that his skin was red all over.

thankfully, after a good dose of prayer, tylenol, some chest x-rays, observation, and lots of tears {P's and almost mine}, his fever came down and we got to go home. he's still not himself but he's feeling much better. also, i'm pretty sure that i've also increased my right arm strength after all the time i've spent holding him lately! i'm hoping that we've turned the corner and our life can resume as it once was and our little guy will be feeling like himself again.

got to love living in the bluegrass state during allergy season!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

praising the Lord this morning!

i awoke this morning to some good news on my google reader and i wanted to share it!

the adoption tax credit has been extended for 2011!!!!!!!!

one of our biggest concerns as we have embarked on this adoption journey was whether or not the adoption tax credit would get renewed after 2010. up until this point, there has been a tax credit in place of $12,170 to help alleviate the costs of adoption. however, this tax credit was set to sunset at the end of 2010. since we're just now in the early stages of our adoption, the likelihood of all going smoothly and quickly enough for us to have passed court with our child by the end of 2010 is not very high. ryan and i were fretting quite a bit because the tax credit would be a huge help in making our adoption possible and the chance of it not getting renewed was very scary!

however, according to Christian Alliance for Orphan's blog, the credit is not only renewed through 2011, it's also improved!!! {now, please don't hold me liable if i do not explain all the details correctly...i have a brain for marketing, not accounting!!} from what i understand, it looks like the tax credit has increased to $13,170 and is also going to be refundable. so, where the previous tax credit was only applicable to the amount families actually paid in taxes, the new credit is allowed even for families who pay zero taxes.

this is very exciting news for the orphan community and adoptive families alike! our agency just reported that international adoption rates are at around half of what they were 4 years ago, so this is very welcome news at a hard time for waiting orphans around the globe.

{and blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord. -Luke 1:45}

woohoo!! thank you Lord for your provision for us and more importantly for the orphaned!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

so, where are we in the process?

we are on our way to getting this adoption started, but just barely! we have been preliminarily approved by our agency, sent in all our background check paperwork, and sent just sent in a big packet of paperwork for our home study this week. i was so excited about getting the ball rolling that i even took a picture of the packet as i weighed it for the mail label at the post office :)

we still have a lot of paperwork and waiting to do, but i'm glad that we're one step closer each day!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

why ethiopia? why now?

why are we adopting from ethiopia? and why are we starting this adoption now?

well, good questions. after a lot doing a lot of research on international adoption and doing a lot of praying, ryan and i feel that this adoption is the next step for our family. however, please understand that we did not come to this decision lightly!!! we definitely don't have an extra $20,000 in quarters hanging around at our house and we're still a little unsure about how the timing will work out with the boys, but we're stepping out in faith and trusting God that this is His perfect plan for us.

so let's break things down a bit...

why ethiopia??
*ethiopia is one of the five poorest countries in the world with 1 out of every 4 people living on less than $1/day.

*one out of every ten ethiopian children die before their 5th birthday.

*ethiopia alone has an estimated 4.6 million+ orphans.

*ethiopians love children! the orphanage settings in ethiopia are described very differently than orphanages in many other countries. ethiopian children are very revered in their culture and are not generally placed up for adoption lightly or just thrown out like garbage. their families are usually either deceased or unable to care for them because of severe poverty, AIDS, or other diseases. most orphans' families love them so much that they want to give them a chance at a better life. even life in an orphanage is advantageous for some of the children because of the extreme poverty.

*ethiopian adoption seems more stable and consistent than a lot of other countries. {disclaimer: i almost deleted this one because i don't want to jinx us...however, #1 - i don't really believe in jinxing. #2 - i do understand that no country's adoption policies are stable. they are all subject to change, but ethiopia does seem semi-stable compared to other countries.}

*ethiopian children are precious!! we know a few families with children home here in our local area and they are just adorable!

*our agency is local and seems to do a great job of keeping waiting adoptive parents connected and also connecting children adopted from ethiopia with other kids like them in our community.

*after much prayer, debating, seeking, researching, etc. we believe this to be God's plan for our family. if God shuts the door later on, we'll know that it was not meant to be, but for the meantime, we're ready to move forward!

why now??
*well...why not? while we understand that our situation is a little unique because of the boys, we also want to obedient to follow the Lord's leading, regardless of the convenience of timing. we still are very unclear about what will happen with R & P but we have articulated more than once to their social worker that we plan to see through our commitment to them - even to adoption if that ever becomes an option. {we have also talked to R a little bit about our adoption and told him that if he's back with his mom by then, he better come over and visit his new family member(s)! we also continue to assure him that this does not change how we feel about him or P, and that we have enough love to give to them all.}

*yes, adoption is expensive but if we wait until we have an extra $20,000 just laying around, we'll probably never do it! we're trusting that "God will fund what He favors" and we're excited to see how He writes our adoption story!!

*we want our children, adopted and biological, to understand that adoption is not "plan b" for us - it's "plan a". i'm so thankful that God obviously values adoption as "plan a" for the building of His family as well.

Monday, March 22, 2010

drum roll please...

well, you've been waiting for my announcement on pins and needles all weekend, right??

haha, i know better! :) but whether you've been waiting for it or not, here it is:

drum roll please...

more details to come but i just wanted to go ahead and share!!

ps- sorry if you already knew this was coming. i didn't mean to get you excited for nothing {well, not nothing...but you know what i mean!} we've been praying about this for awhile and only sharing about it with certain folks until we were pretty sure, and now, we're sure-sure!!!! woohoo!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

excuse me, i have an announcement.

that's right - i have an announcement...BUT i'm not sharing it until monday so you'll just have to check back then :)

have a great weekend!

Friday, March 19, 2010

show us your life - mission trips

Show Us Your Life with Kelly's Korner

kelly's korner's topic for "show us your life" today is mission trips so i thought i'd join in! i have been on 3 missions trips - 2 to ukraine and 1 to afghanistan.

my first trip to ukraine was in june 2005, after my sophomore year of college. while in ukraine we were in kiev and simferopol working in 4 different orphanages and an abandoned baby hospital. at the orphanages and hospital we painted rooms, put together playground equipment, put together furniture and just loved on the kids. out of all the places we visited while in ukraine, i was most touched at an orphanage for older children. the sign on the outside of the building reads "home for the mentally retarded" in russian. after spending time with the kids in that particular orphanage, it was very apparent that these kids were definitely not "retarded". while some of the kids do appear to have some physical and mental disabilities, it was just heartbreaking to think of how they had been so easily labeled and thrown away. i cried {a lot} on the trip, laughed {a lot} and vowed to be back again one day.

little did i know, i went back sooner than later! in december 2006/january 2007, ryan and i had just been married less than 6 months but after hearing about the "blessing bag" trip and we were both excited for me to go back, so i did! during the trip, we handed out several hundreds {maybe thousands? my brain can't really remember} "blessing bags" to the kids in those orphanages. the blessing bags are put together by families in the US {similar to the samaritan's purse shoe boxes} and are filled with school supplies, candy, chips, small toys, clothes, hats and gloves, etc. for most of the kids in the orphanages, the blessing bags are the only christmas gift they have ever received.

as each child got their blessing bag, a team member would sit with them and help them open all their new gifts. the part that was most touching about the trip was that the kids would always try to share their new gifts with us. whether it was chips, hair bows, candy, etc. they were all so willing to give to each other and to us, despite really having nothing else to call their own.

here are a few pictures from ukraine:

my third and most recent trip was to afghanistan in august 2008. since afghanistan is a muslim country, this trip was not a "missions trip" as we would normally think of it but more of a humanitarian outreach trip. however, i know that God will bless the time we spent there for His Kingdom. i traveled with the non-profit organization that i work for to see our organization's operations in 4 different villages where we operate medical clinics, schools, economic outreaches, etc. this country has been so ravaged by hundreds of years of war, oppression and poverty, yet the people are still very warm. most of the people we met were so glad to have assistance and were more welcoming than most americans would be. during our trip, we even got to go onto one of the nato military bases for worship and it was really neat to get the opportunity to thank and encourage some of the troops sacrificing the lives and time to make afghanistan a better place. i have another trip planned to go back late this summer and i'm excited to see how much the country has changed and progressed over the last 2 years.

here are some pictures from afghanistan:

i am so grateful that i have been able to experience God's heart for the nations firsthand. it's so easy to forget that there is a whole world of people that do not know about Jesus and to be comfortable in our own "worlds". my prayer is that i'll never be content unless i'm getting up and going - whether it be in my own city or across the world!! i want my life to be a mission trip!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

6 months foster care-land update

we had a home visit from the boys' worker last week and one with our social worker this week. according to everyone involved, not a whole lot has changed with the boys' case. their mom is doing pretty well according to R and P's worker. she has completed the out-patient drug treatment program but is still taking after-care classes one day a week. she is also about 5 weeks into her12 weeks of parenting classes. about 3 weeks ago or so, she even brought the boys their christmas gifts to their visit. R has been wanting a cell phone but after our fiasco a couple of months ago involving a cell phone, we decided against it. instead, R said that he would like an ipod touch. R loves playing games on our iphones so now it's fun that he can play the same games on his ipod. R and i have even been playing "words with friends" (aka - scrabble) quite a bit together. *ryan finds this game very annoying, but i'm just trying to help improve R's vocabulary* :)

P's dad is *not surprisingly* not doing as great as mom. up until last wednesday, he had been refusing to meet with the social worker for a few weeks. he has also not attended any of his required domestic violence classes, drug treatment classes, found a stable job or submitted to any recent drug tests. due to his noncompliance, he has not had any visits with P since his visitation was taken away at the February 4th court date. it has now been 7 weeks since he has seen little P, so i gave the social worker some pictures of P for his dad. i hope seeing pictures of his precious little guy may motivate him to get the ball rolling on his very necessary life changes. don't worry, i'm not holding my breath though! the boys' worker has told us pretty emphatically that their case plan status of "return to parent" mostly just means returning them to their mom at this point.

the next court date is still set for may 6th, which is less than 7 weeks away. ugh, that makes me want to cry, even though i have no clue what that day will hold! my gut is telling me that since mom should be done with her after-care classes and parenting classes, she will begin getting unsupervised visits and then overnight visits shortly after. truthfully, this terrifies me. i know they try to ease the children back into the home so it is less stressful on the parent and the child, but i don't get it. i think it is going to be super confusing for P especially. we have now had him in our home longer than he was with his mom. he is so attached and we are to him too! i wonder if he will think that we are the ones who have abandoned him, not his mom...

also, i think about how this phasing out process will effect R. he has made so much progress, especially when it comes to social interaction, manners, and confidence. however, after every visit with his mom, it's usually one step backwards for a few hours. i also wonder about whether R will still be with us when school starts back up next fall and where he'll actually end up going for 7th grade. his current school is not our home school but we would definitely like to keep him there if possible. although it's not the best middle school in our district, the teachers and school staff are aware of his situation and a few have really been investing in him. if he's back with his mom, he will most likely be switched to a different school since their mom has moved since having the boys removed. i worry that at a new school he'll just get lost in the crowd again and easily fall behind again.

anyways, i obviously have no idea what the future holds for our little family of 4 but i'm so glad that the Lord does. we're still just trying to stick to our policy of "one day at a time" and walk the path we're given as faithfully as possible. it's definitely not always easy, and we're by no means perfect, but we're enjoying the journey!

Monday, March 15, 2010

puppy love +

this picture makes me happy. P sure loves his puppies, yawkey and fenway!
this is P and yawkey a few weekends ago when we still had a little snow. they love hanging out at the door together and seeing what/who will come along the road.
P's first word was "da da"...which we have recently found out was not intended to be "daddy" (*unless he considers fenway and yawkey to be his dad!). nope, he now has converted "da da" into "dog dog" and says it all the time, but especially when he sees his favorite 4-legged friends!
this little guy is definitely in puppy love :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

happy friday!

this has been a pretty typical week for us - 1) busy. 2) ryan out of town for work again.

i'm getting very used to life this way, and i'm actually having a hard time thinking about what life will be like once the boys are gone and once ryan stop traveling so much. especially once the boys are gone...i think our house will be too quiet, too clean and too boring. not looking forward to it!

anyways, we're gearing up for another action-packed weekend! tonight ryan will get home just in time for me to scoot over to a get together for women from our church. tomorrow, R will be presenting his science fair project at regionals all day long, while ryan and i attend an adoption seminar. after the seminar, we will pick up P from my in-laws' and go to the public viewing and awards for the science fair. after that, we're off to dinner and then home to relax for the rest of the evening. who know's, maybe we'll even get to finally watch a blu-ray movie on ryan's long-awaited blu-ray player?!? sunday, we have church and possible lunch with our small group and the haitian refugee family our group has "adopted". after lunch, it's off to my youngest niece, mikenna's 6th b-day party at a gymnastics place.

should be a fun weekend!! hope your's is too :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

emotional basket case

ryan and i have a long standing joke about "being an emotional basket case". i'm not even sure exactly when it started, but i'm thinking it was either our senior year of high school or freshman year of college. you see, at the time i was one of those mean girlfriends who forced their boyfriends to watch bad reality tv. (*oh wait, i think i still do that even though we're married...hmmm.)

anyway, we were just wrapping up an episode of "the bachelor" when the exit interview of one of the rejected girls became the source of our running inside joke. the girl had not been picked and was very distraught about it. (*side bar for all you fellow bachelor watchers - it was not down to the last 5 girls or anything...i think it was only the second show of the season). so, this girl proceeds to gush to the cameras about her heart break, and mid-sob says, "i just want another chance to prove that i'm not an emotional basket case".

ryan and i both immediately died laughing. not so much at this poor rejected woman, but more at the irony of her statement. needless to say, this phrase lives on in our lives!! there have been countless occurrences over the last several years where mid-sob or post-sob, either ryan or i will repeat this lovely phrase to each other. it's become our way of telling the other person that it's ok to cry the ugly-cry from time to time :)

well, i've been having several public and private ugly-cries lately. i'm just feeling really torn lately about the boys heading back to their mom in the next few months. sometimes i think about what a relief it will be like to have my "normal life" back, but then a few seconds later, i remember that this is normal life now. i also have a hard time thinking about the boys' mom and knowing what to feel. at times i feel encouraged to see her trying and i think that she really could be different this time around. however, then other times i think about the basics that she didn't provide for R and wonder why P has to endure those same experiences too.

also, ryan and i have been doing a lot of praying and pleading with God lately about where to go from here. after experiencing the emotions of fostering firsthand for the last 6 months both ryan and i agree that we need to take a much needed break from fostering for a while. now, that's not to say that after some time passes and our hearts mend a little that we won't dive back into fostering again (*because according to albert einstein, we're just insane like that - "insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"). however, we just need a break. i cannot describe the pressure of living under the constant thumb of "the system". it is truly enough to drive someone insane at times!

at the same time though, we still want to have a family and we still feel called to begin our family through adoption!! and no, we do not have any infertility problems that we're aware of. and yes, we do know that it would probably be much cheaper and less painstaking to have a birth child. we completely understand and have heard these point of views (*quite a few times actually) but that does not change the fact that our hearts are telling us to take a different path. we know that adoption is not God's plan for everyone, but we do believe that it is His plan for us. until we hear/feel differently from Him, we want to continue to pursue adoption. so, where to from here God? that's what we're trying to figure out now.

anyways, please excuse my emotional unload today but i've just been processing through a lot of stuff lately. in no way do i want to discourage anyone from fostering, but i do want to relay the reality of the hardships that come along with it. it's not for the faint of heart, and i know that without the Lord's guidance and strength throughout this process, you'd have to visit me in the looney bin to find out what's new in my life instead of this blog :)

all this to really say... i just really want another chance to prove that i'm not an emotional basket case!!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

P's first hair cut

here are some pictures from P's first trip to the barber shop a few weekends ago:

(P's first attempt to escape the chair)
(i don't think he was really digging it...)
(finished! and very happy about it)

Monday, March 1, 2010

weekend recap

we had a great but busy weekend. i was hoping to blog some, but that just didn't happen! so here's how our weekend went:

late friday night, ryan returned from a week long business trip, and boy was i glad :) i don't like him being gone that long but it was especially hard because last week was his 7th consecutive week being gone for work. usually he's only gone 2 nights at a time, but it still stinks! it's funny though because i used to be soooo scared to be home alone and now i don't even think about it any more. everyone told me that having kids in the house would help but i didn't really believe them until now. it really does help!!

saturday morning, i went bridesmaids' dress shopping for my friend eabs' upcoming july wedding. she picked out a beautiful dress for us and we got them ordered since we're in a bit of a time crunch. afterwards, we went and grabbed a quick lunch together and got to talk design details for the wedding. it's going to be fabulous and i'm super excited for elizabeth! it also made me totally want to get married all over again...(*to the same guy, of course!*) i loved wedding planning but i wish i would have had more time to put into it. unfortunately, at the time i was taking 18 hours of class so i could graduate early and working 25 hours/week. there just weren't enough hours in the day!

after lunch, i met my boys at the barber shop for a much needed triple hair cut. yes, i said triple hair cut...ryan, R and little P included! sweet P really doesn't have too much hair in front, but the back was starting to look like a bad cross between a rat tail and a mullet, so i couldn't take it much longer. i of course snapped a ton of pictures and got to keep some of P's hair for his life book. if i can get around to it, i'll post some pictures from his big day!

later saturday night, we were supposed to go bowling with my family to celebrate ryan's birthday but we couldn't get in at any bowling alleys that didn't have at least an hour wait. who knew bowling alleys are such a popular saturday night hang out? we finally gave up on the bowling idea and just went somewhere for dinner where he opened presents and had cake. ryan was super pumped because he got another gift certificate to a local golf shop, so i'm sure i'm in for a looooong golf season this year!

sunday, we went to church and had a low key afternoon. i have been a huge crafting kick lately so i spent most of the afternoon working on various sewing projects before rushing off to a meeting at church. after the meeting at church, i joined the boys at ryan's parents' house for his birthday celebration with them. ryan's mom made her delicious baked spaghetti that ryan requested and we got to hang out and celebrate with them for awhile. ryan's parents gave him the long awaited blu ray player he's been asking for forever. it will stream netflix movies directly to the player, so ryan's under the impression that we're going to be watching movies all the time now...i guess we'll wait and see. we don't exactly love the same type of movies so it sounds like i'll just be doing a lot more sleeping on the couch while ryan's watching movies :)

all in all, it was a great weekend. i love just spending quality time with my guys, and got the added bonus of our extended families too!