A Good Family

Last week we packed up, headed for Texas and spent nearly a week with my entire family. With four generations sitting around the table, I could not keep my mind off of our future child.

We aren't the perfect family - we all have our idiosyncrasies and annoyances - but we are a good family. Full of love and laughter. And sometimes petty fights and stressful situations... but I suspect that's every family.

All of our kids, whether adopted or biological, are very fortunate indeed.

I know they will love their time spent in Texas, on the farm. They will love the doting attention by extended family members and the late night movies and popcorn. They will love playing in the dirt and mud and with the cows and chickens. They will love crafts and projects, and learning to quilt and use power tools. They'll love learning to play Canasta and do huge puzzles. They will love hearing the trains and counting the cabooses!

That farm holds some of my dearest childhood memories and I am so excited to see my kids develop their own traditions and adventures.

And it's fun to think that some unsuspecting child in Ethiopia has a future playing with cow patties and barbed wire! :)


The Elephant in the Room

It's naive to think that everyone will immediately be supportive of an adoption. The truth is, to everyone but the adopting parents, it comes as somewhat of a shock. We have expected questions and concerns from the beginning, but it's still a little disheartening to me when they come up.

Family members want to know why you aren't having more biological kids - they want the blood line to continue. People ask why you aren't adopting domestically. They wonder about the finances, if you're rushing into things, how you can be sure that the child is healthy and wasn't conceived from rape or drug use. And the elephant in the room is usually the issue of race - this child won't look like me. (To which I usually say, "Neither does my biological child!")

It's normal for family and friends to have these questions and concerns, but it's important to get past them. To have honest conversations and discuss your reasons for adopting and the answers to their questions: A continuing blood line isn't the only way to build a family. Kids everywhere need homes - the USA has a domestic adoption program and Ethiopia doesn't. Trusting God on finances and timing is the only way to survive an adoption. You can't guarantee the health of a biological child - this is no different. Babies born from rape or drug use didn't ask for that fate and they need/deserve a family too.

And regarding the elephant in the room... it only remains an elephant until we call a spade a spade and acknowledge the racism all around us. Racism is a disease that is culturally transmitted and embedded. It isn't an evil act to recognize the disease in each of us - after all, we don't choose to be taught what we're taught. But it absolutely IS a problem to let it co-habitate peacefully in our subconscious. We have to be intentional and active in rooting it out of our psyche and multi-racial families and communities are a (big) step in the right direction.

God has provided a strong network of support for us - we have nothing to complain about. And the truth is, once friends and family members meet the new child, all worries and concerns will fly right out the window. Race disappears when a personal relationship begins - of that, I am 100% confident.

It's just a matter of surviving these few months until that time.


Red Tape

When you decide to adopt internationally, everyone tells you to expect red tape, mountains of paperwork and all kinds of hoops to jump through... and they aren't kidding. This picture is what our dining room table looks like right now.

Yesterday our whole process got effectively bumped back another month by one tiny change in the paperwork process we're wading through. For those of you who don't mind boring tidbits, here's what happened...

The dossier consists of about 25 documents (per parent) that need to be created in a very specific way, notarized in a very specific way, and in a few cases, authenticated by the state (with a fancy seal) AFTER they are notarized in a very specific way.

Basically, you are supposed to start by having 2 of those forms notarized and sent to the Secretary of State's office for authentication. While you wait approximately 4 weeks to get it back, you gather the remaining documents and are ready to rock by the end of that month. (And by "ready to rock" I mean ready to proceed to step 15 of 30 in the entire process...!)

One of our good friends also happens to be a notary and is helping us by notarizing her way through our heap of paperwork. Yesterday we all sat down for round 1 of notary fun. WHILE we were sitting there, I received an email from our case manager explaining a change in the process... regarding the form that was being notarized at that very moment. Now we have to send one of the forms to the state AFTER the other forms are created, completed and notarized. So now we have a few weeks of paperwork followed by an additional 4 weeks of waiting on the state.

I'm just venting... we're ok with everything - this is a normal part of the process. But just when I think I have my head around everything, something changes.

By the way... if we adopt a girl, we're going to decorate her room with purple.


Timely History

Last night, we elected an African-American president. By a landslide.

I sat on the couch after Daniel fell asleep, wrapped up in a blanket with my jaw in my lap at what I was witnessing. It was one of those "I'm watching a history textbook get written" moments, and I could imagine telling my great-grandchildren about the first black president. The energy... the freshness... the united voice of our country. The nearly million people crammed into Grant Park in front of my favorite backdrop in the world - the Chicago skyline. The unbelievably gracious concession speech by John McCain moved me to tears - he pledged his support to his new president and urged his followers to do the same.

The sheer enormity the decision our country made is almost too big to get my head around. I am proud of what that represents, and excited to see what Barack Obama does in office. I have reservations too, as we all do every four years on November 5th. What his presidency will be known for has yet to play out - but what his election stands for is crystal clear.

I am excited for our Ethiopian child... proud that they will become citizens of our country under the leadership of a man with Africa in his veins. I can't think of a better time in history to adopt internationally, or a better time to embrace a multi-ethnic family.

"Honey, you might not look like Mommy or Daddy, but you DO look like the president."

I couldn't be prouder or happier about what happened last night.