Whatever Wednesday

Each Wednesday we post links from the previous week that touch on special needs adoption. Our hope is that these small snapshots provide you with a glimpse of life after adopting through China’s waiting child program… both the long-term blessings and the challenges that come with parenting a child with special needs. We also hope to raise awareness about a variety of special needs.

Journey Into the Unknown — adoptive momma (foster adoption) Deborah at 5 Minutes for Special Needs… on surgery with a newly adopted older child

SPD Diagnosis: Now What? — adoptive momma (foster adoption) Hartley at Hartley’s Life with 3 Boys… what to do after your child receives a diagnosis of sensory processing disorder

A milestone ~ — adoptive momma (China) Denise at Our Treasures… on the milestone of life with the adoptive family equaling the time spent living in China

Language Arts — adoptive momma (China) Sister Carrie at Jiaozi… on language acquisition and older child adoption

OVV Camp
— adoptive momma (China) Sandra at The Daily Grind… a week of summer camp at Ohio Valley Voices with other children who also have cochlear implants

Everyone deserves to be loved — adoptive momma (China) Robin at Dreaming of Tea for Three… on the amazing progress her daughter has made these past 17 months

{ENOUGH}

***This month I decided to repost a blogpost that I published a short time ago. It got a lot of positive response on my blog and I also think it is very timely now that we have committed to adopting another child. This child, a precious little boy, will be our 6th adoption and our 7th child.****

During a fairly normal conversation with a friend I brought up that I was advocating for a child on my blog. A child that grabbed my heart and that we were waiting for God to speak to us about him.

The response: “Another one? Geez guys, haven’t you all done enough?”

I was kinda stunned for a second then threw out a little nervous laugh and reminded him that there were 147 MILLION Orphans in the world. We have adopted 5. Just 5.

That got me thinking about what he said.

What is the perception of: enough?

I actually went to the dictionary (online of course cause I don’t own any other type!) because I wanted to fully understand the actual definition of this word. Not my perceived definition of the word.

enough: occurring in such quantity, quality, or scope as to fully meet demands, needs, or expectations.

And there it was….expectations.

Because 5 adoptions doesn’t meet the demands of the orphaned children or the need for families to adopt so the issue is then with the expectation of what is enough.

And because we are human….each person’s expectation of what is enough is different.

I mean….last night at Cold Stone Jacob wanted the Gotta Have It cup size of Oreo Crème Filing ice cream (translation: 12 oz LARGE SIZE ) and I felt that the kids size was enough. He also wanted multiple mix-ins (marshmallows, gummy bears and rainbow sprinkles) and I only allowed him to have 1.

The problem with this issue is that….when it comes to caring for God’s children….the only person that can define what is enough….is God.

To my friend, 1 adoption is enough. His baseline thinking is: There is an orphan problem – you adopt one of them -you’ve done your part.

In my view this isn’t about “your part”.

It’s about God’s call and what HE wants YOU to do.

For some families God’s call is to adopt 1 child.

For another family God’s call might be to adopt 9 children.

It looks different for every family.

In my opinion this can’t be defined with our human eyes. Or by our level of comfort. Or by the level of “risk” we want to personally take on.

Because humans are normally all about comfort and low risk!!! I know I am. Which is why I cannot and do not depend on my own self as a determining factor on whether we adopt again.
Adoption is about a lot of things including risk and being uncomfortable and God never promised that following him wouldn’t be risky or uncomfortable. But sometimes you have to experience those things in order to experience God’s BEST.

To paraphrase the Bible and use a quote by Hudson Taylor to do it: God’s work done God’s way will never lack God’s supply.

This means that if the Lord has directed you to adopt then He will bless you with everything necessary to accomplish what He has asked you to do. Regardless if it’s the 1st adoption or the 10th. And by everything necessary I mean: patience, love, money, etc.

He’s done it 5 times for us. 5 TIMES.

God is faithful and He doesn’t fail.

The Bible states clearly that only good things come from Him.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jer. 29:11)

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28)

So if God is asking us to adopt again then it must be a GOOD THING FROM HIM.

Therefore we made the decision to let God decide how many adoptions is ENOUGH.

And truthfully…I don’t know what that number will look like.

This is scary and exciting at the same time!

And that’s what following God is all about.

-Nicole

www.bakerssweets.blogspot.com

Guilt, and Everything After.

Am I the only person out there that walks through her days with this constant load of guilt? I swear it’s why my back hurts all the time. My personal sack of guilt is so heavy that during the few moments of the week when it lifts, I think I should step on the scale. I literally walk through town with my shoulders drooping. I often have to remind myself that no, whatever I am doing at that moment is fine, so strong is the feeling that I should be doing something else.

I’m not working.
I’m not doing math flashcards with my kids.
I’m not filling their day with happy memories.
I’m not calling my mom.
I’m not emailing my best friend.
I’m not planning the birthday party.
I’m not checking to make sure the vacation will go just so.
I’m not writing my blog post.
I’m not pitching that new editor.
I’m not organizing the pantry.
I’m not walking the dog.
I’m not training the dog.
I’m not reading with Rory.
I’m not building elaborate Lego robots with Sam.
I’m not savoring every charming moment of Wyatt.
I’m not spending any alone time with Lily.
I’m not working on my book proposal.
I’m not riding my bike.
I’m not putting the bathing towels in the dryer.
I’m not spending time with my husband.
I’m not getting a new box of Kleenex for the bed in the guest room.
I am not making a scrapbook or sorting online photos.

You can see why this is a problem. Even if I manage to be doing any one of these things (and most of the time I am not), I am not doing the rest. I tend to spend a lot of time meditating on how very much I suck. Now, I get that the commenter instinct right now is to go tell me no, no, you do plenty! You do lots! It’s all good! Please don’t. ( And if I should happen to be someone you know personally, resist. Seriously.) I know that. I get it. Blah, blah. I don’t really feel this guilt intellectually, and so I don’t need anyone to point out that it’s silly. (Seriously.)

I recognize that I am doing just fine, broadly speaking. I want to meditate on why I do this to myself. Every so often, I get a moment when the guilt lifts, usually when I have checked off a pile on my to do list, and sometimes just when a good song comes on the radio and I am singing along in the car. (Sadly, I think that is partly because when you are driving the car, you are affirmatively not supposed to be doing anything else) the load lifts. I am happy, I am good, I am rolling (or singing) along. Why don’t I just choose to feel that way all the time? After all, this is really about me and my personal emotional reactions to my situation. No one is making me feel any of the above. No one ever–well, rarely–says to me, hey, you really should be doing such and such. And if they do, I’m unusually capable of blowing them off, so much so that I often tell people that I never get any of that unsolicited and annoying parenting advice people complain about. I think I actually don’t listen. So why is this my reaction of choice?

What’s really going on that I need to dump on myself this way? I think I feel empty, and thus like I should be doing something that I’m not because, in the broader sense, there’s nothing going on. For years–decades even–I have always had one single, overarching goal that so clearly trumped all others that I always knew which of the many tasks at hand I should apply myself to. I should finish the project, draft the thesis, apply to law school, make the Law Review, get the job, get another job, get married, have baby, get another job, have another baby, write book, move, move…and so on. And then, of course, adopt Rory. And that’s all done. And I won’t be embarking on any of those again soon. I don’t want to move, I like the husband and jobs I have, and I have pretty clearly Peter Principal-ed myself into more children than I can actually handle. There can be no overarching goals of that kind. And one key thing about those goals is that they came with external deadlines, particularly once launched. Even “write book” had a co-author and thus more specific requirements than are usual. And now, for the first time since childhood, I don’t have any of that, and I don’t know what to do with myself.

I think the mature answer would be to learn to live in the present and enjoy the day to day process of living rather than planning my life and indulging in the artificial sense of busy importance created by looming deadlines, trips and events. And I plan to work on that. (Oh, great, look how I put that. I’m going to work on that! Can I have charts and a list to check off whether I’m properly living one moment at a time? Ummm…) But I’m also going to go ahead and let myself get sucked back into the world of the major project, albeit on terms that will require at least some of that above described maturity. I’m going to get back on the book proposal I’ve been juggling for some time, complete it right, and resolve the looming agent question.

The thing about that project is that with no external deadlines and no joint practitioners, it’s going to require something different from me–it’s going to require me to put first something that, in fact, most of my external world doesn’t see as an important thing at all, but rather as the one thing I can easily do tomorrow. That isn’t going to be easy. The book project is specific to me, of course–but this guilt, and this blankness–I think that’s not. I see at least a few fellow adoptive parents dealing with it (you know who you are)–this what do I do now moment, when the urgency of creating the family and bonding into it has slowed down, and there’s only day to day living to be done. I see fellow parents with a last baby heading off to all-day-school in the same boat. I think we all like our projects, and I think, for everyone, there comes a time when you find you need to begin defining your projects, goals and rewards on your own terms. I’m there.

next shared list

Will be released July 20th!

Exciting news for all families hoping to be matched! If you do receive a referral off the shared listing, please leave a comment, we’d love to share in your joy!

Whatever Wednesday

Each Wednesday we post links from the previous week that touch on special needs adoption. Our hope is that these small snapshots provide you with a glimpse of life after adopting through China’s waiting child program… both the long-term blessings and the challenges that come with parenting a child with special needs. We also hope to raise awareness about a variety of special needs.

laugh or cryadoptive momma (China) mama d at the life that is waiting… having a laugh-cry at the dentist while contemplating the amount of dentistry and orthodontia that awaits

First English Words adoptive momma (China) snapshot at Somebody Needs a Nap… describing her daughter’s language transition, after just a few months home and adopted at age 2.5

Only 3 months, but it seems like foreveradoptive momma (China) Heather at Noodles, Tea and a Didi, Please!… an update after three months home

Why *This* Makes Us Betteradoptive momma (foster adoption) Hartley at Hartley’s Life With 3 Boys… how parenting a child with special needs can grow us in ways we never imagined

What do you do when your family refuses to accept your special needs child?momma Janis at 5 Minutes for Special Needs… asking for advice on this topic

Favorite Developmental Toys adoptive momma (China) Kathy at In The Waiting… a list of her favorite homemade developmental toys

Virtual Twinningadoptive momma (China) wife of the Prez at Room For At Least One More… on her virtual twins, about five months apart in age

A surprise gift

I have a son.

Every now and then that statement still surprises me.

When my husband and I began the road to building a family through adoption from China, we simply assumed that we’d have daughters. (At the time we were oblivious to the fact that there were boys who were waiting for the love of a forever family).  Initially I was disappointed that there would be no little guy to toss a baseball in the backyard or take camping trips with his daddy.

However I quickly got over the letdown and began to build my vision of a houseful of little girls.  After all, I grew up with a sister.  My boy cousins lived three states away.   A few of my mom’s closest friends had boys, but I spent, at most, a few hours a week with any of them.  Based on my limited experience, boys were a totally different species.  They were loud, wild and unpredictable.  I asked myself why I would want to raise one and focused instead on all things pink and hair bows.

The path that brought my little man into my life didn’t happen all at once.  Slowly my eyes were opened to the waiting child program when we were paper chasing for our second child.  At that same time I became newly aware of friends who had raised kids with special needs.  And then I realized that there were indeed boys waiting to be placed in homes.

So we took a leap of faith and checked that we’d be open to a boy or a girl with various special needs in our second set of paperwork.  Less than two months after our second dossier had been submitted we were matched with a little boy from the shared list, and six months to the day from our LID we were stepping off the plane in Beijing, three days away from meeting our son.

Before he walked into my life I thought the phrase “Mama’s boy” had a negative connotation.  Now I fully understand how much love and affection can be behind it.

He has added a “rough and tumble type” of joy and exuberance for life to our formerly “pink and hair bows” existence.

He loves Lightning McQueen, potato chips, God, and his family ~ though not necessarily in that order.  He is amazingly strong, and quite clever.  What he lacks in size he MORE than makes up for in enthusiasm and determination.  What he does, he does with all his heart and might.  He is fast and impulsive, not always a great combination, but an accurate description.

I’ve found that many of my earlier ideas about boys are true.  He is usually loud.  There are times that I’d use the world wild to describe his mood.  And he is predictable only in that you can count on him to be somewhat unpredictable. He is “all boy.”

And yet, even though sometimes I question if I have what it takes to help mold this bundle of raw energy into a respectful young man, he’s stolen my heart and is an integral part of our family.  If I had stuck to my plans or preconceived notions, I would have missed him.  I’m so thankful for the things which opened my heart to possibilities I hadn’t seen and people, blogs, events, and God’s nudgings which overcame both our uncertainty of raising boys and our fears of “special needs” and allowed us to see each child as a unique gift from God.

Oh yes, I received a surprise gift.

I have a son. From China.

photos courtesy Tricia Roller Photography

My Baby Tells Her Story

It’s been less than six months since my daughter finished her year-long treatment with interferon.  The needles, the sharps container, the smell of the alcohol wipes, that whole experience has quickly become a distant memory.  At age four, it’s doubtful that my daughter will remember anything about it into adulthood.  That’s wonderful, but at the same time, I want her to remember.  I want her to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that she’s always been a fighter.  She’s always had courage beyond her years.

I didn’t want to rely just on my telling of the story.  I hoped to preserve something that would capture her, the girl she is right now with the scratchy little voice who could talk about such big things.

We stand in awe of her amazing result, but just as amazing, just as awe-inspiring, is her tenacious spirit.  We feel so blessed to call her our daughter.

Whatever Wednesday

Each Wednesday we post links from the previous week that touch on special needs adoption. Our hope is that these small snapshots provide you with a glimpse of life after adopting through China’s waiting child program… both the long-term blessings and the challenges that come with parenting a child with special needs. We also hope to raise awareness about a variety of special needs.

Monday’s Answers: How Much Should They Share?adoptive momma (Ethiopia) One Thankful Mom at A Bushel and a Peck… on how to help children adopted at older ages navigate how much they should share, and with whom they should share their past histories

Thinking back to May 31st and Reflections on an Emotional Dayadoptive momma (China) snapshot at Somebody Needs a Nap… on meeting her day, then meeting her daughter’s foster family, last month during their adoption trip

A+adoptive momma (China) Sandra at The Daily Grind… a simple t-shirt message reminds a mom of her pride in her daughter

third (and final) appointment at the children’s hospitaladoptive momma (China) Jill at Little Lilah Grace… a free-and-clear from the local children’s hospital after adopting through the special needs program

Fearless – Inspiration – Perseverance – Succeeding – Prideadoptive momma (China) Robin at Dreaming of Tea for Three… watching her daughter climb at the playground

The kindness of strangers to kids with special needs
mom Ellen at Love That Max… detailing the many kindnesses her son experienced on their recent vacation

Contradictions

Our newest guest contributor is Katherine, who is currently living and teaching in China. She also has the unique opportunity to spend time volunteering at a local orphanage. Katherine blogs over at Life of a Pilgrim and although she is not an adoptive mother, she has a unique perspective and invaluable insights into life in China.

I’m going to be real honest with you; I’ve struggled a lot with what to write here. First of all, I’m extraordinarily humbled to be posting here. I’ve never adopted. I’m not even a mother. I’m a huge believer in practicing what you preach—and if you aren’t practicing it, then be quiet. I can’t give you advice on attachment, I can’t commiserate with the pain of waiting, I can’t help you figure out the tangle of paperwork. I’ve never walked in your shoes. I wouldn’t be surprised if someday I do, but as for now, I can’t speak to any of those issues.

So why am I joining the discussion here? I’m wondering the same thing just about now. I’m wondering why I emailed Stefanie saying I’d love to share. What I have to offer is simply one tiny glimpse into life in a government orphanage in China. It’s one small, and by no means normative, view of the landscape of Chinese orphanages.

I moved to China five years ago with very little knowledge and understanding of the culture. The past five years I’ve learned a lot, but the more I learn the more I realize I don’t understand. If there is one principle to hold onto while discussing China, it’s that China is a land of contradictions. This is a frustrating realization when you’re trying to learn about the culture. Our human tendency when we’re learning something new is to make generalizations and equations. If A is true and B is true then C must be true. However, such simplifying strategies just don’t work in China.

This fact is especially true within orphanages, and is one of the reasons for my hesitation in sharing. I can tell you any number of heart-wrenching and heart-warming stories, but if these stories are set up as norms, they become false and misleading. In sharing, learning, and preserving the stories of these precious children and of your child, there must be a balanced acceptance of the broken and the redeemed, the good and the bad, the noble and the corrupt. A focus only on the good creates a romanticized version of orphanage life and adoption that fails to acknowledge that things are not as they should be. A focus only on what’s broken fails to acknowledge the intimate activity of the Defender of orphans, working to bring redemption and healing in the darkest corners.

With all of that being said, today I want to share a bit about some of the changes I’ve witnessed at our orphanage in the past five years. This overview will hopefully give you a broader framework within which to tuck future stories I may share (that is, if Stefanie ever invites my long-windedness back).

One of the most encouraging things to witness the past five years has been the move of the orphanage, both figuratively and literally. Five years ago, the orphanage was in a one room old building behind an elderly and disabled home on the outskirts of the city. Most in the city were ignorant of its presence. When one of the foreign teachers at our university heard there was an orphanage, she found a student who could take her. What began was a gradual period of building relationship and trust and what resulted was an unprecedented freedom in visiting the orphanage whenever we want to.

We began to take students with us to the orphanage, and when the need for surgeries arose for several children, a fundraiser was held on our university campus to raise money. In a way, our involvement in this project “shamed” the school. The fact that foreigners were caring for their own people didn’t sit too comfortably with those at our university. As a result, more and more student groups began to visit the orphanage. Some Saturdays we would arrive and every single child would be in the arms of a student.

In those early days, the orphanage was able to build a new building next to the old one. It was a two-storied bright pink castle, and was a huge improvement over the previous building. They were in that building for about three years before the biggest move came. About two years ago, the orphanage moved from the outskirts of the city to the very heart of the city, becoming the only orphanage in the province to be downtown. The building, with cartoon characters sprawled over its outside walls, is hard to ignore now. Community awareness and aid is increasing. There are more domestic adoptions now.

While this history is extremely encouraging, there are still many things that weekly break my heart. There is a great deal of corruption in the higher levels of orphanage administration in our region. Children’s files are moved extremely slowly to Beijing for placement. While the nannies at our orphanage truly love the children, there aren’t nearly enough of them. While those with minor special needs are usually adopted as toddlers, those with more severe special needs are for the most part left behind.

Hope and despair, brokenness and redemption, beauty and shame. Such is the complex and contradictory world of the orphanage. What’s left for each of us to do within this picture is to fight for justice and love. We embrace and applaud what is good and right, and we seek to take part in the redemption of what’s broken. However, our greatest comfort remains in the fact that the big picture orchestration is in the hands of the only One who intimately knows and cares and understands each little life.

Whatever Wednesday

Each Wednesday we post links from the previous week that touch on special needs adoption. Our hope is that these small snapshots provide you with a glimpse of life after adopting through China’s waiting child program… both the long-term blessings and the challenges that come with parenting a child with special needs. We also hope to raise awareness about a variety of special needs.

Cognitive Skills —- boring, right?
adoptive momma (China) Heather at Noodles, Tea and a Didi, Please… on normal developmental delays due to a lack of exposure to things

Hospital Day 2 adoptive momma (China and Ethiopia) CW at I Will Pull This Blog Over!… their second day in the hospital after p-flap surgery

Restoring Resourcefulnessadoptive momma (Ethiopia) Tisha at Deutschland… on how she changed their family budget to help pay off hospital bills

Educating Mayadoptive momma (China) Sister Carrie at Jiaozi… how her daughter, adopted at age eight, adapted to the American education system over the past several years

Faith’s Heartadoptive momma (China) Snapshot at Somebody Needs a Nap… on her daughter’s heart PDA with a high velocity

Be Still…adoptive momma (China) Nicole at The Baker Sweets… on feeling the pull to adopt a child found on the special needs list

Running Through China: A Stop at the Henan Cleft Healing Homeadoptive momma (China) and executive director Amy Eldridge at Love Without Boundaries… visiting the little ones at the Henan Cleft Healing home in Kaifeng

A Pleasant Surpriseadoptive momma (China) Annie at Cornbread & Chopsticks… a recent conversation at the pool that didn’t turn out the way one momma expected