Saturday, September 29, 2007

Waiting Badly

Another week has passed...and I just realized that we are at the very tail-end of September with no hope of getting news of passing court until October, so that means another month has passed. To be honest, we haven't done a whole lot in the way of preparing for the boys in the most recent weeks (at least not in the physical way). We've been thinking a lot and preparing our minds and our hearts for the boys arrival, but their room looks just the same as it did a few weeks ago (except there might be a few more bags of stuff piled up on their beds). I've decided I don't want to finish work on their room until we have a better idea of when they are coming home (or at least until after we pass court). I figured it would be too difficult to have their room all ready for them but still not know when they would be here to use it. We still have a pretty big list of things that we need/want for the boys, but we have the basics taken care of. And we're hoping to put off buying lots of toys, etc. until after Christmas and after they get home in case the boys get some treasures from aunts and uncles and grandmas and grandpas for Christmas. After all, we don't want to spoil them TOO much, right?

Our adoption coordinator, Anita, has been absolutely fabulous! She has been so sweet to email me the last couple of Fridays to let us know how things are going. She's been through this before and knows how difficult those Fridays can be. She is working so hard to get everything squared away in Ghana. Not only is our agency (AAI) facilitating adoptions in Ghana, but they are also establishing an orphanage in Ghana. New regulations mean that setting up the orphanage is keeping everyone extra busy.

I am trying so hard to be patient and to wait for news from Anita. These past couple of weeks I have had to keep reminding myself that I don't need to call her or email her to "remind" her about our case! As if she could forget! After all, I know that she will be nearly as excited as we are to receive news of positive court outcome!

Our case is getting closer and closer to court. One more piece of paperwork needs to be completed before submission and then we are ready. We are hoping for some good news at the end of this next week. For those of you who are of the praying persuasion, please pray that I will have peace in my heart about this wait...that I will keep my fingers off of the phone to call Anita and my cursor off of the "send" button. And, if you could pray that we get some good news about court in the next couple of weeks, I would appreciate that, too! :)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Whew!

In yesterday's mail we received our 171-H with approval for the right country! I was starting to get a little worried.

We have word that our boys' case could be heading to court "soon". Of course, we are working in Africa, so "soon" could mean any number of things. But, I am praying that it means that we could pass court within a couple of weeks. Once we pass through court, we wait for the boys to be issued passports and then we wait for U.S. Immigration approval before we can travel.

I am finding myself in that "tough" place in the wait. I know that this wait is necessary and that things are happening in Ghana to make it possible for us to bring the boys home, but I am ready for the boys to be home yesterday. Some days I just want to know when the end point will be; I just want a target date in mind so that I know how much longer things will take.

But, I know that this too shall pass...eventually.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I Hate Fridays

Yes...you read that right. I hate Fridays. Never in my life did I think that I would start to dislike Friday. The last day of the school-week or the work-week. The night you can stay up late and sleep in the next morning because you don't have work, school, or church the following morning. But, the truth is, I have come to really dread Fridays.

In the adoption world, Friday is the last day of the week that the agency office is open. Its the last day of the week that things can happen in your adoption process. Its the last day of the week that the agency can update you on your case's progress.

We are at that stage in our adoption process where we are waiting for information. We're expecting news soon, but we don't know when for sure. So if we don't hear anything on Friday, then we go another long weekend with no information.

I've been swamped at work today, but I've also been keeping my eye on the clock. With every passing hour it is less and less likely we will hear anything new today. Bummer.

Silver Lining: It's Friday, afterall. I get to hang out with Z, maybe watch a movie or two, drink a glass of wine, and sleep in tomorrow. Can't complain too much about that.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Jena Six

I have been thinking a lot about this story for the past couple of weeks. First it made me angry, then it made me sad, but mostly I am left confused and conflicted. I am (hopefully) soon to become the mother of two very adorable little boys who happen to have beautiful brown skin. I know this world is a tough place and I know that my boys will experience racism during their lives. I pray that things will change before they are old enough to realize it, but I know things aren't likely to change very quickly. I know that most people will see my boys and think that they are adorable now, but what will their reactions be in 10 years when my boys are teenagers? Will people's first reactions when seeing my boys be that they are handsome young men? Or will they be seen as troublemakers or thugs?

One of the things that I have noticed while following this story during the past couple of weeks is something that troubles me tremendously. I have heard/seen interviews with several different people from Jena who adamantly state that the media is portraying Jena to be something that it is not. That racism isn't pervasive in their town. That they are not racist people. That black people are treated no differently than the white people. Every single one of those people has been white. Every one. But, when I've seen black people from Jena interviewed they all said that racism in their town is real, that it happens. Just like it happens all over our country. Only now the spotlight is on Jena, LA.

The truth is, discrimination can be obvious, but it can also be subtle. Its dirty looks. Its when you cross the street to avoid walking next to someone who looks different from you, or who you think looks dangerous or scary (for any number of reasons). Its when you judge someone's ability to do a good job based on the color of their skin. Its when women or people of color get paid less for the same work. Its when we jump to conclusions or make blanket judgements based on someone's skin color, sex, sexual orientation, weight/body type, or religious affiliation. Discrimination is everywhere.

Do those in the majority notice the discrimination? Do they realize that its happening? There is something wrong with our country and there needs to be a real and honest discussion about it. The majority may not notice what is happening, but those who are at the receiving end of it can tell you that discrimination is real.

Jena, LA is 85% white and about 12% black. The 85% might not notice that there is a problem, but when the 12% says something is wrong, perhaps it needs to be checked out. And perhaps it should have been discussed and diffused before the beating happened in the first place. Perhaps this discussion should have started when white students hung nooses in the tree in the high school courtyard.

I am, however, not saying that Jena is any worse than any other town/city in our country. And I'm not saying that the 6 young black students are innocent of all crimes. Afterall, they did beat a white student. The question for me is whether or not things could have been diffused long before things got so bad. If people had opened their eyes to see what was happening, could this whole situation have been avoided? Right now the spotlight is on Jena, and that is unfortunate for Jena. I am sure that it is difficult for the people of Jena to hear negative things about their town on the national media. But perhaps this will start a dialog in Jena and around our country. Maybe good will come out of this afterall.

I pray that my generation is the generation that says "Enough!" I pray that we are the generation that stands up and says that bigotry and racism will not be tolerated in our society. I pray that we can all spend more time noticing our similarities than pointing out our differences. I pray that we can make a difference in the world so that it is a better place for our children, for my children.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Monk & Neagle: A Review


Their album was released in stores yesterday (Sept. 18th, 2007). Yes, I know…I meant to have this up yesterday for the album release, but time somehow got away from me.

I was one of the lucky few who received a free copy of the CD about a while ago. WooHoo for me! A free CD - before everyone else gets to hear it!!! I had been reading BooMama's reviews of the album and I had high expectations based on what she wrote. I can honestly say I am not disappointed.

I am one of those people who truly believes that everyone has a soundtrack to their lives. Music fills our lives; it is everywhere. When we hear an old familiar song, it brings back feelings of where we were when we first heard it, or last heard it, or where we were when the song had the most meaning in our lives. We could hear a song a hundred times and it could have no impact. But, the 101st time could affect you in a profound way. It is all about where you are in your life at the moment you hear the song. The soundtrack to my life is very diverse and eclectic (perhaps a bit like I am). There are times in my life when I long to hear songs of worship and praise; when I surround myself with rich, uplifting tunes that fill my soul with hope and the Holy Spirit. Then, there are other times of my life when that is the last kind of music I want to listen to. There are times when I want nothing more than to listen to mindless Pop-y tunes, or heavy bass-y tunes, or something a little more like “angry” music. I listen to everything (well, most everything).

To be truthful, lately I have not been much in the mood for listening to Christian music. Not because I don’t enjoy it. Not because there isn’t a great variety of it available. I just haven’t felt like it. In fact, lately I haven’t been all that interested in listening to lots of music like I used to. My soundtrack has been a bit void lately. I think part of it is just that songs have been doing to me what they are supposed to. They are making me think; they are bringing up emotions. But, if you’ve been around me lately you know that the last thing I need is MORE emotion! So, I’ve sort of purposely avoided music that I know will well up an emotional response.

When I got the new Monk & Neagle CD in the mail, I popped it into the CD player in my laptop and listened while I worked. Yup – it brought upon an emotional response – especially when I got to the song “What Soldiers Do”. So, I didn’t listen to it for a couple more weeks. But I went back to it, and I’m loving it. I’m skipping a song or two here and there (see below), but I love it. I’m finding that the songs are sung with heart – real heart. There’s passion in their voices and its REAL. The lyrics are real and at times they are raw. The sound is reminiscent of John Mayer (for those of you who are familiar with the ever-present John Mayer tunes on pop stations). Sounds similar to those of John Mayer...with more substance.

After listening a time or two, I feel like this new Monk & Neagle CD is re-charging my soul just a bit. And that is priceless. Who couldn’t use a bit of a re-charge once in a while (or every day)? After several spins in my CD player, I am finding myself drawn to 4 songs in particular. The followings songs are getting a lot of play "Beautiful You", "The Twenty-First Time", "Wonderful Angel", and "Yours Forever".

I have listed the songs below, and for some of them I’ve added just a little description.

The CD is in stores NOW. Check them out. Their voices are so new to me still, but from the very first listen they sounded like old familiar friends. Click on the name of their album to go to their webpage to check them out and take a listen or two.

Monk & Neagle
The Twenty-First Time



Beautiful You
A song very reminiscent of John Mayer; it’s a true love song…to the Lord.


The Twenty-First Time
I think this is my favorite song on the album. It is a song for the “forgotten souls” in our communities.

Halleluja, Jesus
A true worship song, in every sense. It is sung with passion and intense feeling.

Stars Would Fall


What Soldiers Do
This song is beautiful…and heartfelt…but I could only listen to it once. I skipped over it every other time it started. The pain of missing Z during war and thinking he might have to head off again to war is way too raw in this particular soul. This song was so painful for me to listen to. But, to be honest, anything that explores the emotional aspect of this subject is painful for me still. For those of you who have been through the pain of saying goodbye to a loved one who is heading off to war, you will relate to this song, and it will give you a rush of emotions (which you may or may not need). For those of you who have not experienced this, then perhaps it will help you relate a little bit to your fellow country-men who have to deal with war in a real and tangible way. It is a magnificent song – I just can’t bring myself to listen to it.

Yours Forever
A song with a great beat! I could listen to it all day.

More Than That
Another song that reminds me a bit of the sound of John Mayer. With some great symphony back-up.


Wonderful Angel
Another song with a good beat. Uplifting, encouraging, and beautiful; with
some mandolin accompaniment. Gotta love a song with a mandolin!

Fallin’
More John Mayer-y sounds. Another beautiful love song.

Into Orbit
A song with a heavier, Pop-ier sound.

What Soldiers Do (Remix)
See “What Soldiers Do” above; but with mandolin…and maybe a bit faster. I
kind of like this version better….


To check out a fantastic interview with the boys of Monk & Neagle on BooMama's blog, click here and here.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

My Name on Flickr

C H A N D a

Of course, I can't figure out how to get it all on one line. Oh well.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Ups and Downs and All Arounds



If you talk to any adoptive parent, they will tell you that the adoption process comes with a roller-coaster of emotions. There are incredible highs (like getting your referral and seeing your child(ren) for the first time) and there are times of incredible lows (like when an unexpected delay occurs and you realize the process is going to take much longer than you had hoped). There are also times when you feel a little emotionally 'neutral' and you feel like you're just bracing yourself for one of those lows.

Today I feel a bit low. Now, I have to say that I have no real reason to feel low. I know that the staff for our agency here in the U.S. and in Ghana are working hard. I know that they all have made personal investments in this new program and they want things to go smoothly and quickly for the families. And they have all been great! We've gotten great updates on our boys. We've seen them go from shy, hungry, scared little boys in their intake photos to bright, happy, filled-out little boys in a matter of just a few months. We've gotten insights into their personalities, we've got LOTS of pictures of the boys (many adoptive families get only one or very few photos of their child), we've sent them a package and can send letters and photos with traveling volunteers and staff. We've even relatively recently gotten hopeful news of adoption progress on the Ghanaian side of things.

But...I still feel low today. Every conversation I have about the boys with friends and family at some point includes the question "How long until you can go get them?" I don't have an answer to this question. In my head it makes sense to me that I don't know yet. I've been in the midst of the adoption process for months now; I've been obsessed with all things adoption and I know how the process works. But some of our friends and family members don't. They expect by this point that we should know. There should be a date for our travel already set. So every time I answer "we're not sure yet, but we're hoping before Christmas" I am met with looks of confusion. After all, "how can you possibly plan your life if you don't know the date they are coming?"

Its true....unlike a pregnancy we don't have a due date. We could travel in two months or several months. It does make things more difficult. I'm finding that when people ask me what we are doing for Thanksgiving or Christmas (or for anything else this fall and winter) my answer is always "I'm not sure, it depends on how close we are to traveling". This is the time of the year that people start realizing that the holidays really are just around the corner. There's already all kinds of Halloween stuff in stores. Usually by this time of the year I am thinking about what we're doing for Christmas presents for family members and friends. I like to make a lot of things for gifts and I am pretty sure this year homemade gifts will be few. I haven't even thought about that stuff yet - and I doubt I will have time to anytime soon.

We still have lots of things to do to get the boys' room ready (and our whole place ready for two little boys). We have almost all of the basics taken care of, but I haven't yet gotten their room ready for them. And I don't really want to until we have a better idea of when they are coming home. I think it will be too difficult for me to walk past their room everyday knowing that it is ready for them, but not knowing when they will be here to use it. So, their stuff is still in boxes and bags waiting. Of course, a weekend of work is all it will take to have it ready for them.

So, I guess today is just one of those days when the "unknowns" are starting to get to me. Mind you, we totally signed ourselves up for this. We KNEW there would be unknowns, and we're ok with that. Its just that some days are harder than others. We don't know when the adoption will be finalized in Ghana. We don't know when we will be approved to travel. We don't know if the boys will be home for Christmas (that all-important deadline we had set for ourselves at the beginning of this process). We just don't know. We hope the adoption will be finalized soon. We hope it won't be too long before we can travel. And we hope that we will be able to spend Christmas 2007 as our first Christmas together as a family of 4.

A family of 4. Wow, that's weird. We're totally skipping over that whole family of 3 thing.

A Tough Year

First droughts and now floods. This has been a rough year for Ghana.

Read the story here.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Unforgetables

**I've been thinking about whether or not to post this on my blog...but I decided to go ahead with it. After all, its a part of my adoption journey; for better or for worse. Perhaps I'm not the only one who's had this experience.**

When you're in the midst of an adoption process, it is at times overwhelming to think about the need that exists in our world. The numbers of orphans in Africa alone are staggering and the numbers of children needing assistance of some sort (whether it be through food, shelter, education, etc.) is absolutely unfathomable.

Sometimes it is so easy to become overwhelmed. I examine my belongings and think about selling it all in order to help "just a few". I look at my house and think "we could fit more in here". Or when we look at houses on the market I think "we could get one with a couple of extra bedrooms". I look in my refridgerator and cupboards and think about how many we could feed, and then I scold myself when I have to throw out uneaten leftovers.

I have to admit that over time, my heart has grown a little less tender in some ways. I have become resigned to the fact that we (meaning my husband and I) cannot help them all. We cannot adopt all the children; we cannot feed them all; we cannot clothe them all; we cannot provide shelter and education for all of the children.

When we started the adoption process, I looked through our agency's Waiting Children list and wondered about each of the children.
"How long will they wait?"
"What is this child's personality like?"
"Does this little girl have a mommy yet?"

I would turn to Z and say "Isn't he/she cute?"
"Maybe we should inquire about this one."

And he would always reply with "C - they are ALL cute."

Of course he was right - all the children on the list are cute. All of the children on the list were/are in need of what we have to offer. Almost any of the children on the list could have been made a part of our family.

When we switched countries to adopt from Ghana, we were no longer given a list of available children. We were now a part of a pilot program and the agency had only 6 kids in their care. When our criteria (siblings ages 2-6) were incorporated into the mix, there was only 1 match. Our boys. It was easy. These were our boys - they fit our criteria - they were the only siblings within the ages of 2 and 6 that our agency had in their care.

The decision was made for us. I didn't have to look at a list or a video and say "no" to dozens of other children in order to say "yes" to our boys. Now, I realize that it is not that simple...if I had chosen my children from a list I would not have been paging through pictures saying "no" to dozens of other children. I would have been looking for "my child". I would have been looking for the child that captured my heart; who grabbed my attention for one reason or another.

Now here is the part that I hate to admit...even to myself sometimes. When we were still a part of our agency's Ethiopia program my heart was completely captured by two very precious little girls. I thought about them...I prayed for them (and still do)....In my head, I knew that they were not meant to be with our family right now, but my heart still wanted to love them. And so it does. My heart continues to love these two beautiful little girls who still wait on the list. Two girls who still don't have a mommy and a daddy.

Loving these girls does not, in any way, take away the love I have for our boys. I am completely smitten with our boys and I cannot wait to make them a part of our family. But those two girls were the first children who caused me to gasp for breath when I saw their picture. They are the first children who's situation made me cry for them. They are the first children who made my heart yearn to be their mother. I don't know who will be the mother of these two girls. Maybe it will be an e-friend of mine who reads my blog or who I chat with in one of the forums (and who can give me updates on how they are doing after they get home). Maybe it will be a complete stranger who has the same reaction to the girls' picture when she sees them. Or maybe it will be me afterall. Perhaps my head just needed time to catch up with my heart. Though, I have to admit that I really do hope that I am not meant to be their mom. I hope that these two girls are not still on the waiting child list when I am at a point where we can make that decision (our agency requires 6 months between adoptions). And I know that Z really hopes that, too.