Thursday, April 26, 2007

News

I know I am leaving you all hanging when I say I have news I want to share, but I can't share it yet. But, its true! We do! We have news...but we can't quite share things yet. When we can - we will for sure!

But...for the time being I am thinking I might make a couple of changes here and there on the blog, so if you are really curious, watch the blog. You might find out a little something!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Making the world a better place...one person at a time

So, I have had a few people tell me over the past couple of years that "you can't save the world" and that a typical ordinary citizen can't make a difference in the world. These kinds of statements are statements that make my skin crawl. They are excuses. Excuses for not getting involved. They are ways to make you feel better when you let apathy take over.

The truth is that everyone (no matter how typical and average) CAN make a difference in this world. Sometimes people say they simply "had no idea" that such and such was happening in the world. I know...everyone is busy...but keeping up on what is happening in the world is very easy in this day and age. Watch the national nightly news...scan the headlines on major online news sources like CNN, The Wallstreet Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, or better yet (in my opinion) the BBC News. You can spend just a few minutes a day educating yourself on the happenings of the world.

When you find a story that you feel passionate about (whether it be the environment, genocide in Darfur, child slavery in Africa, HIV/AIDS issues, the war in Iraq, etc.) do additional searches to learn more about the issue. Once you're educated about the issue, don't just say "that's terrible" and move on to the rest of your day. This is the step that is important....tell someone else about it! Tell your friends and family members what is happening and why its important to you that it be changed. Encourage others to check out this issue and make their own judgements about it.

Email your congress-person or senator and let them know this issue is important to you. After all, regardless of whether you voted for this particular person or not, they are in Washington, DC to be YOUR voice. Tell them what you want them to talk about. Tell them what is important to you and what issues you want them to advocate for. They may or may not pick up your issue, but at least you've made your voice heard. When they vote for something you feel passionate about write them an email to let them know you saw their vote and appreciate them taking on issues that are important to you. If they vote against something you feel passionate about, write them an email to let them know you are disappointed in their vote this time around. If none of their constituents contacts them to let them know what is important, then your elected officials have free reign to advocate for their own pet projects and personal agendas.

None of this needs to take a lot of time. Just a few minutes a day (or a while longer if you do it once a week on a weekend). You can become as involved as you want to. If you have time, by all means, do additional research to find an organization that advocates for the issue you are passionate about. Sign petitions...write letters to corporations...volunteer some time working for an issue....donate money to help a particular cause....There are TONS of ways that you can get involved in the direction our world is going. But sitting idly by and letting others with more power and influence deal with it is not one of them!

We ALL live in this world and we ALL have a responsibility to each other and our children to make it the best place it can be. I don't know about the rest of you, but I've got a whole list of things that I would like to see changed so that my nieces and nephews (and someday my children) don't have to deal with them.

Bono on Idol...and a Giveaway


In honor of the ONE campaign being featured on American Idol tonight and tomorrow night in the "Idol Gives Back" special, Mary at Owlhaven has decided to have a drawing to give away a copy of Bono's new book "On The Move". This book features pictures that Bono took in Ethiopia in 1986 and the text is based on the speech Bono made at the 2006 NPB.


"The one thing, on which we can all agree, is that God is with the vulnerable and poor. God is in the slums and in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them. 6,500 Africans are still dying every day of a preventable, treatable disease, for lack of drugs we can buy at any drug store. This is not about charity, this is about Justice and Equality." --Bono


If you are interested in getting your name in the drawing, check out Owlhaven's blog and add a comment. This is just one of the reasons you should check out her blog...she's got lots of good stuff in there!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Hardest Part

When you decide to adopt, there are a lot of things that might be difficult. For me, what has been the hardest part?

Is it the decision itself?
-This part was pretty easy for Z and I. It feels like the right thing for us to do, and we are following our guts on this one. We've decided that there is no PERFECT time to have a child. There is always SOMETHING that could be better. Adopt vs. having a biological child? Another easy decision for us.

Is it the paperwork?
-Sure, there's a lot of paperwork to be done. But, most of the paperwork is pretty straight-forward. Its tedious and time-consuming, but not horrible. We can surely handle the paperwork.

Is it watching the adoptive parenting training videos?
-Another kind of tedious task. Sometimes its hard to find times when we are both together, have some extra time, and feel like using our time together to watch these videos. But, so far, they've been helpful. They are a bit dry, but contain a lot of useful information, and as first-timers we're appreciating it.

Is it the homestudy?
-I have to be honest and say this is the part that worried me the most. What does the social worker ask? How particular is she going to be? How clean does my house need to be to impress her? How "kid-ready" does our house have to be so that we will pass? The truth is...our social worker is great. She has been an incredible help to us; making sure that we are thinking about all of the possible "what ifs"; making sure we talk about what to expect; and making sure that we felt comfortable in our meetings with her. Our social worker is really great and we look forward to keeping her up to date on adoption happenings and we look forward to post-placement meetings with her as well. So, no, the homestudy was/is not the hardest part.

Is it the waiting?
-Waiting is hard. Its hard to wait to start putting the dossier together. Its hard to wait for your referral. Its hard to wait to travel. But, these are all parts of the process that we KNOW ahead of time and can try to prepare ourselves for. It doesn't make the wait go faster, but it might help to make it a little easier. My plan for waiting to travel is to start making lots of quilts...if I end up making a lot of them, then some will be donated to the orphanage. Then I might move on to preparing the kids' room; getting beds, dressers, decorating, etc. We'll have to get some toys, kids' clothes, etc. There will be lots of things to keep us busy during that time.

So...what is the hardest part?
-For me, the hardest part came this weekend. When a person I love and who I thought was a part of my support system went out of his way to tell me what a huge mistake we are making. When I asked if we would be having this conversation if I were pregnant the answer was "absolutely not". Thanks...now I know how you really feel.

Other adoptive families have written about their experiences with less-than-enthusiastic family members. I expected some of it, but I honestly didn't expect what I got this weekend. I'm not sure how I should feel about it. Should I let it go; knowing that he was lashing out because he is just concerned about us and loves us (even though he could have found a MUCH better way to express his concerns)? Should I be angry; knowing that he brought so many things into the conversation that were totally un-called-for (not to mention completely unrelated to the topic at hand)? Should I dread every future conversation with this particular person? Should I allow this conversation to shatter my confidence in our decision to adopt?

The worst part for me was that this conversation happened at a time when I had no back-up. Z was gone this weekend and I was on my own. I tried to hold my tongue....I tried to make sure that I didn't say anything that I would regret....and as a result I sat there and took it all. I was a complete puddle by the end of it...I couldn't think fast enough to respond to something that I was totally unprepared for. Today I had hundreds of come-backs (and some of them weren't so nice). Perhaps it would have been better if I had simply walked away.

Its hard for me to understand why someone would have such a hard time with us adopting. In his own words if I were pregnant he never would have said the things he said. So, I know it isn't about us having kids - its about us adopting. Would he have said everything he said if we were adopting domestically instead of internationally? I don't know. Would he have said what he said if we had been trying unsuccessfully to have biological children? I don't know. Would he have said what he said if we were adopting white children instead of black children? Again, I don't know.

One thing I do know is that our kids will know that Z and I wanted them VERY much; even if others weren't so sure.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Random Observation

Ok...so most of you will not ever be on the campus of Iowa State University and may not find this that interesting. But, the other day I walked into the first floor women's bathroom in Bessey Hall and found something new and unexpected. A Lactation Station! Who knew?!?! For those of your who don't know what a lactation station is, it is a private place where breastfeeding moms can breastfeed their babies (or pump breastmilk for later use). I had no idea that there was a movement on campus to make these lactation stations available to breastfeeding moms. And, I don't know how many of them there are on campus. But, I am so glad they exist. I am so glad that ISU has made a place for them. I'm so glad that ISU recognizes the needs of moms with babies and has made a comfortable place for them. The lactation station in Bessey Hall is in a little loungy corner of the main floor women's bathroom, it has a curtain you can close, a coffee table, a sofa (a circa 1970's sofa, but a sofa nonetheless), and there are pamphlets available for those who are curious about what a lactation station is all about.

If you are a student or staff member at another university, check to see if you have lactation stations. If not...maybe you can break some ground and get some set up. If you are at ISU, check your building - maybe you have one close by. And if not, come on over to Bessey Hall - the station is waiting!

Good for you, ISU!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Sorry to my bloggy friends...

Have you all missed me??

Its been a while since I posted, so I figured that I better write another post before I become one of those bloggers that falls off the face of cyberspace! Part of the reason I haven't written is because I simply have been busy. I'm working on thesis stuff...I had a friend visit last weekend (thanks Jen for visiting - I had a very fabulous time!)....I have guests visiting this coming weekend....and Z has been gone for the past week (and will be gone for another week). As much as I like to tease him that I am the one who keeps this household going, he really does a lot around here, too...and now I'm stuck with all of it (including frantic clean-ups before visitors come)!

The last couple of days have been tough days in the world. I know that I really should limit my news-intake. People told me this while Z was in Iraq, too. "Just turn off NPR..." "Just turn off CNN..." Yeah...I know I should, but I'm a news junkie, and I always have been. I HAVE to know what's going on. Information is my drug of choice...sometimes it makes me feel good...and sometimes it leaves me feeling empty and sorrowful; wishing I hadn't kept the news source on for that last half-hour. The last two days have been that way for me. When I eat breakfast in the morning, I like to watch CNN - its like my equivalent of reading the paper over coffee in the morning. Today, they broke into coverage about the Virginia Tech shooting to announce that 127 people had been killed in Baghdad bombings. Death on top of death.

The world seems full of death and sadness these days. My life continues to go on despite the fact that my country is fighting in two wars, a genocide is occuring, and another college campus is mourning the loss of students. Of course, it is easy for me to jump back to the days when Z was in the midst of the fighting and when every morsel of information from Iraq was painstakingly analyzed in my mind. Even now, there is a fear that lives in the background of my life that reminds me that I may someday be back in that position (with Z gone to fight once again). I HATE admitting that. But its true...the fear will not ever leave until the war is over. And I consider myself one of the lucky army wives.

All of the death, violence, and sadness in this world only confirms our decision to adopt. Some days it is hard to imagine moving forward. Some days it is hard to understand why we would bring new lives into the world when so many around the world are dying. Some days its hard to think about real life in other parts of the world while I'm sitting at home on a comfy couch, sipping coffee, and reading blogs on my laptop. In a lot of ways I feel a sense of responsibility to help take care of the lives who are already here on this earth. To make sure that the people alive today have the chances and the opportunities they deserve. Z and I want kids, we want to be parents....but we don't care so much about whether or not they are biologically related to us, whether they are black or white, whether they have good teeth or bad teeth, or whether they want to play football or soccer (or read a good book).

Maybe someday we'll want to have biological kids (I'm sure my mom will hang on to that maybe), but maybe we won't. For us, we know there are lots of kids who need/want what we have to offer and as long as adoption is a path that's open to us and feels right, that is how we will build our family.

In adoption news...there ARE things happening. Our homestudy is in the stage of finalization...things are moving forward and there is a potential that big news is on the way! I am so excited about the news I have to share, but for right now, you are all going to have to wait a little longer...When I know more and when things are more "official" I will most certainly be sharing!

Friday, April 6, 2007

Feeling Blue...

So, the last couple of days have been some of "those" days. Days when I just feel blue. I feel down, I feel a bit defeated, I feel sad. Mostly I can't explain why I feel this way. Maybe its because the weather went from nice spring-time 70-something degree weather to cold, blustery, 30-something degree weather. Maybe its because I'm PMS-ing. Maybe its because Toby's gone. Maybe its because its a holiday weekend and Z and I have no plans to visit family - just spend time together. Maybe I'm just getting tired of "unknowns". It could be any number or combination of things.

As far as adoption stuff goes, there really isn't anything to report. There may be things happening...there may be big changes to announce...there may be exciting news ahead. But, nothing for sure...and nothing I can really talk about at this point.

For anyone who's curious, Z and I can definitely attest to adoption not being the "easy" way to have kids. Its HARD to adopt. Its hard to explain what's in your heart to someone you don't know and know that you are counting on that person's approval to help you move forward. Its hard to put into words sometimes how and why this option is right for us. Its hard to pull all the documentation together and get ALL the paperwork done. Its hard sometimes to sit and watch adoptive parenting videos. Its hard to sit waiting for approval, knowing you've done everything you can to try to get across that you really are prepared for this big change in your life.

None of this would need to be done if I had just gotten pregnant instead. No one would question why I wanted to have children...no one would question my ability to parent that child...I wouldn't have to fill out tons of paperwork and have it notarized...and there would be lots of people lining up to give advice, offer support, and help out.

But getting pregnant isn't what feels right for us right now. We know we're stepping out in faith a bit. And sometimes that means moving outside our comfort zone. If we weren't committed to this...if we really didn't feel this was right for us, we wouldn't be working so hard to do it. This is not the path of the undecided. Its not the route of the half-committed. Its hard work to do this and if we weren't sure we could do it, we wouldn't. But, we know it is right for us. And we will do everything we can to follow through and get our kids home. In the end, we know that all of this hard work will seem like nothing and we'd do it all over again if we had to. Its just getting to that point that's hard.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

A Part of the Family

So, the other night the dog puked on my pillow. Yes, you read that right, the dog puked on my pillow.

You see, at our house, the pets are an integral part of our family. I know that some people will frown on this, but our dogs get to sit on the furniture, hang out where we hang out, and even sleep on our bed (though this might have to change in the future). Anyway....the other night Grommit was sleeping in his FAVORITE spot - right behind my head on my pillow, leaning against the wall). In the middle of the night (around 4 am) I woke up to that - well, you know, "puking" sound. Ugh...I leapt out of bed, grabbed the dog and the pillow and ran to the bathroom. I put the dog on the linoleum floor, and stripped the pillow of the pillowcase - not too much harm done. The whole time I was thinking "couldn't you at least get off my pillow to do this??" Yuck! Definitely not the best way to wake up. But, I managed to get everything cleaned up and I went back to bed - without one pillow. Poor Grommit...he always looks so sad when he's gotten sick. I can't help but feel bad for him, even if I am a little annoyed.

So, this has nothing at all to do with adoption, except that perhaps these kinds of experiences with our dogs are somehow preparing us for life with kids (and yes, I do realize that having kids is VERY different from having pets). I'm sure there will be nights when I am woken up because of nightmares, or wet beds, or sick kids. Having pets and having kids means that life will be unpredictable. And I'm ok with that. In fact, I'm looking forward to it. Adding kids to our house will mean that our lives will become even more unpredictable. Although, perhaps we'll have to make a nice dog bed next to our bed so we don't have that pillow puke problem again :)

On another dog-related note....My parents live on a 240-acre farm in central MN. For the past 14 years, the farm has been guarded by my very favorite Old English Sheepdog - Toby. Toby was the dog I got when I became a teenager. He was my buddy, my companion, the trusty guardian of the farm, and the faithful watchdog of all the children (human and animal alike). He lived a long and happy life on the farm and he always had a "Tigger"-like attitude (even in his old age).

Today he passed away. It is hard to see him go....but we know it was his time. We wanted him to live longer, but he was suffering....and for an Old English Sheepdog - he lived a very LONG life.

We miss you "mooch". Rest Well...