Monday, March 28, 2011

Please pardon my disappearing act!

We've had a hectic couple of weeks. I've lost two grandparents in the last week, and between services and the fact I did all the floral arrangements for my Grampee, I've barely come up for air. I'll have my grandmother's wake tonight and funeral tomorrow. I'm so sad they will never meet Lily. They both knew about her though. I'm so blessed that I have grandparents into my 30's. It does not make losing them easier though. I was especially close with my Grampee and over the past year as his health declined and his care demanded more of my Nana I made it a point to get up there as much as possible. I tried for once a week, which didn't always happen, but it happened enough that I have amazing memories of my boys with their Great Grampee. He loved them so much. Even when he couldn't lift them up, they would climb into his chair and lay back against him and watch TV while he would snooze. Amazing memories indeed. He was their greatest defender when they were naughty and the biggest pusher of the "boys will be boys" mentality. I try to carry it with me...that kids are kids and you have to let a lot go.

Our journey with Lily is on track as far as we know. We basically assume all is ok unless we hear otherwise. We did hear that the entire foster home had some type of skin rash, maybe scabies, but haven't heard much since. There are currently several families on the ground there and we got a really amazing report on Lily with some assessments of her skill level from a teacher who is there picking up her children. We also go a new weight and height on Miss Lil, and she appears to be thriving. She's grown an inch since her last measurement and weighs 30 pounds! When those families start to arrive back home to the US, we should get more pictures and maybe video. We're told she's very sweet and engaging, which sounds wonderful but in reality worries me just a tiny bit. I know that when children have been displaced through multiple care givers they can become superficially engaging and sweet and it can indicate attachment difficulties. We know we'll most certainly face some attachment challenges, and we're ready for that, but a Momma can't help by worry. I think it's no win. If she was quiet and withdrawn I would worry, and instead she's sweet and outgoing and I worry anyway.  She is who she is, and we love her. Whether her attachment to us takes 6 months or 6 years, we'll be here for her, and love her.

We get fingerprinted on Wednesday. I thought that our appointment for fingerprinting meant that USCIS had accepted our application as is, and would not request more information. Turns out not. They can request more information on anything in our background at any point they choose up till our approval. I'm just praying for a speedy process.  We submitted out Dossier in mid-January I think?  Maybe early February? So we're about 2 months or more into what is usually a 3 month process if other families time-lines hold for us. I would hate for Lily to have to wait for us because the US side was taking longer. I still manage to believe it's 6 months till she will be home. I'm not sure why I keep thinking that, as if time stands still. In reality, optimistically it will be about 3 months and Lily will be home or on her way home anyway. 

I'll also start my travel vaccinations sometime this month. Fun.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


We got our appointment to get our fingerprints done on March 30th! Two and half weeks to go and we'll be "done" this part of the hurry up and we can move on the the wait! After that they should issue our approval to adopt an orphan and then we just wait for the courts in Africa to approve us to adopt Lily! (and then a bunch of other stuff, I'm simplifying!)

I see her smiling toothy grin when I close my eyes at night. I float through the pink dresses at each store I enter.

I can not wait for this little one to be home. Love you Miss Lil!

Friday, March 4, 2011


Our I-600A was "received" and I think routed to the correct place. We got that e-mail and text a couple days ago. Today we received the ambiguous I-797C. Confused yet? Me too. Apparently it means, "So far, so good. Sit tight."

So that's what we're doing.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Our homestudy dragged along a little more than I would have liked, but it is finally done, and signed and notarized and on it's way to our agency. Another copy arrived here at our house on Friday, and we hope to have that sent off with our I-600A tomorrow to apply for approval to adopt an orphan. It's the first step in Lily's immigration process! We have been saying all along that we hope Lily will be home this June, but in reality, we just have no idea. That is what we HOPE, but nothing is predictable when it comes to Africa. We just continue to skip and sometimes plod down the path laid before us and accept that when the time is right, our daughter will come home.

We have had some amazing blessings this last week. Mike got his annual raise which will be active in about 2 months, and he also found a second job he can work from home! What a huge blessing! I did promise if he got a second job that I would pick up more of the housework, which is a TOTAL bummer, but completely worth it to ease the huge burden of the financial cost of this adoption. I'm so thankful that I married a man who so completely loves his work that he grumbles not a bit at the prospect of working more. I have no doubt that after a while the "play" will be come more like work though, especially given the long hours he will put in. He is an amazing provider for our family. I couldn't ask for a husband who is more devoted to his wife and children than this amazing man!

We are also hopeful that we'll have a few more pictures of Lily sometime next month. A couple that we know is in the process of bringing home their two baby boys from the same foster home that Lily is in. They have promised to give her a hug from us, and are also bringing Lily a dress we sent them, and a small picture book I made that has pictures of us, our house and area. Every small contact that people here in the US have with Lily when they travel is so amazing. To hear little details about her personality and character and that she is so inquisitive. I just can't wait to have that little girl in my arms!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Amazing Adoption Blog!

I would like to link over to an amazing blog that I follow. Millions of Miles Megan blogs about all kinds of stuff, including international adoption and because her kiddo is home, she can be more open about her process and pictures. She is also just a very real Mom, and hysterically funny. Basically, it's way more interesting than this one right now! Right now Megan is running an amazing fundraiser (HERE) for Haiti and The Democratic Republic of Congo on her blog. It's a raffle for not one, but TWO amazing vacations. Here is the link to Megan's fabulous blog, and I especially love the guest blogger today. Jilma is from Our Family Adoptions, and she's one of those people that I just lack words for. So, enjoy, buy a raffle ticket!

As for us, and our journey to Lily, we continue. Our support is growing as more people learn about Lily and her country and what life is like there. I'm so grateful that the story of Lily's people moves people to action. A volunteer just returned from the area Lily is being fostered in, and managed to visit her in her foster home. She sent us all her measurements by e-mail, but we had to wait for pictures till she returned home. So now she's home, and relatively settled I guess, and today we received two of the most amazing pictures of Lil. I feel like one picture was for Mike and I, and one was sent directly from her heart to her brothers. In one she was just BEAMING.  Lit up, shining from with in. A peek of a dimple on her right cheek. Sparkling, twinkly eyes. It was a million miles from the shell-shocked referral pictures. It was the child I saw in that referral picture though! I knew she was in there. The other picture was a bit more surprising. It appears that Ms. Lily might just have some S-P-U-N-K.  She has the sassiest little, "I can handle you." look on her face. It's her message to her brothers :)

I can't wait to have her home. I miss her.

Monday, January 31, 2011

I'm still here!

I just wanted to pop in and post that things are moving along. We have our homestudy done and will be filing out I-600A soon to begin Lily's Immigration process. We've just had some other personal turmoil going on lately and it's taken a lot of wind out of our sails. We'll get through, we always do.

I also want to thank everyone who is reaching out to support us while we travel this road. We're so thankful for the love and support of our friends as we make our way toward a family of five. People we've never even met who e-mail and tell us we can do it, and that they are thinking of us. We're so appreciative of those people who are lifting us up as we struggle with other things in our lives. Thank you, thank you!

I've also been reading other blogs of families adopting, families who are fund raising, and families who have children home or are bringing children home from the same country as Lily. These amazing journeys keep me motivated and moving toward our goals! This amazing Mama makes body butters for her fundraiser. I've heard great things about how well they work! Here is the link for all the parents out there with kiddos suffering from the dry winter weather! Amazing Body Butter

More soon.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Racism and Martin Luther King

I've been mulling over this post since Monday. Martin Luther King Day. As a Mom with two brown sons and a brown daughter still in Africa, it is a day that is important and emotional to me. I have great respect for where we are today as a result of MLK. We've come a long way with making all races, nationalities and religions equal legally. There are no longer areas where blacks can't sit on a bus, or signs in store fronts in Boston saying "Irish need not apply". Legally, we're a country where equality is mandated. Outwardly many people have learned that racism, and religious persecution is wrong. Many Americans would believe that these events no longer happen. Unfortunately, they do. There is still hatred toward Muslim Americans for 9/11, even those that don't condone violence. Just a week or so ago a woman stood to introduce herself as new to attending our church and she went off on another church she attend that was awful and "filled with Jews". I was shocked, and I don't know why. I want to believe the best in everyone, so a little piece of me is always hurt that other humans are so judgmental.

Since racism is no longer socially acceptable, many people want to go to the other side and view themselves as progressive, racially accepting and loving. They go out of their way to approach other races in a "safe" way. They would never dream of speaking to a black man at the grocery store, but they have no problem speaking with a white woman who has black children with her. I am safe, and a way for them to fulfill their inner need to know they are not racially challenged. Except they are. They are awkward with their words and as they attempt to be SO ultra comfortable discussing race, what they say becomes racist. They stumble on even getting words like black or African American out of their mouths. They insult my children's birth families. They tell me that I'm an angel to adopt black children. They tell all about how brown children have higher rates of special needs and didn't I know that? How most likely their birth parents lied and did crack the whole time they were pregnant.

We've not only faced the veiled racism from the "racially progressive", we've faced the blatant racism. When Ty was a mere 6 months old Mike took him our to our local 99 Restaurant. They came home about an hour and half later and I asked how dinner was. Mike said, "I don't know, they never served us. Never got me a drink. She just walked by over and over and shot disgusted looks at Tyler. He was sitting in the high chair and playing and he wasn't being that loud, or making that much of a mess. It was because he was black. I waited 45 minutes and then I had to leave because I was so mad I didn't want to eat their food anymore." My husband is the most tolerant, sweet, give them a second, third, fifth chance, teddy bear of a man I've ever met. If he says they were not served because of Tyler's race I can 100% believe that. We used to go to the 99 all the time. We've never been back.

Racism can come from anywhere, at any point. It's come from my family, from friends of my family, suddenly and unexpectedly from a source you'd never expect. WHAM...racist comment. Like a family member who I rarely speak with goes out of her way to call me and complement me on my sons, and how beautiful they are, and what a wonderful job I'm doing to raise even though they seem like quite a handful (which I don't have a problem with anyone saying. They can be a handful!) Then she opens up to me in what I thought was a beautiful way. She admitted she was not around black people very much growing up. There were none in her hometown. She hurries to add, "There are plenty in that town now though, they all go there so they can get on welfare." And there the lovely conversation takes a nose dive. Or, even more blatantly, I'm at a cookout with family and someone not from my family but someone else's extended family spouts out with this, not knowing I'm behind him. "I say, vote white, or don't vote." That same person can coo and shake my little baby's hand and tell me how cute he is. I wish I had asked him to my child only cute because right now he's a baby, or will he someday be cute enough to be president?

I do not think we have come to a point where Dr. King would be proud of how our country handles racism.  I do think he would be proud of the progress we've made, but the reality is, that is only laws.  A black man with a college degree is less likely to be hired for a job than a white man with a criminal record of misdemeanors. The reality is, racism is still alive and well in this country.  It's hidden behind smiles and nods but it shows.  It shows in the lock of a car door when black men pass.  It shows when a store keeper follows the black children around but not the white to make sure they don't steal.  It shows in your fear when a black man is behind you when you are walking down the street.  Can you change it?  You can!  Read and educate yourself.  Know it's real.  Know MY children will grow up in it, and have to face it down.  Actively teach your children about racial equality.  Model it for your children in your daily actions.  I think the adults of today were raised by racially veiled parents who didn't know how to discuss race.  They were allowed, as all children will without guidance, to form racial preferences.  Many of our parents allowed the media and examples around us to form our racial opinions.   We were raised watching our parents lock THEIR car doors when they went through the black parts of town.  All the children in our books, in our media and in our lives were white.  Our exposure to black adults was with the nightly news with no positive accounting of them to counter those images.

Here is my MLK challenge. Diversify your child. Let's make every one of our children a miniature Dr. King. Every child needs dolls that don't look like them.  Every child needs books with other races in them. Every child needs to be actively taught that all races, genders, religions and nationalities are equal. We all can admit that education is the best way to make changes. That education can bring change, elevate our country and move mountains. We know we can not leave education to the schools alone. Teach your children equality as you teach them their ABC's. If you are not actively teaching them equality, you are actively allowing them to learn inequality. Studies have shown over and over again,  children need to learn it. ALL children need to. Even black children need to learn that their race is as good as all other races or they will believe that it isn't.  

Great Books for Adults about race: (I have these 4, and am happy to lend them to anyone local!)
I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla is especially great for teachers!

Being A Black Man: Fabulous for parents raising black sons, or for anyone who would like to see inside the world of black men.  

Black Baby, White Hands: This is a harder read.  It took me several times to get through it. It is a memoir from the first trans-racially placed child in New Mexico. 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: Amazon's Book of the year 2010. A tale of of medical wonders, and medical arrogance, racism, and poverty. 

Children's Books with African American Characters

JATS Fairytale Classics: Jack and the Bean Stalk (Jats 8x8)
JATS Fairytale Classics: Rapunzel (Jump at the Sun Fairy-Tale Classics)
JATS Holiday Classics: All Things Bright and Beautiful (Jats 8x8)JATS Fairytale Classics: Rapunzel (Jump at the Sun Fairy-Tale Classics)
'Twas the Night Before Christmas (Jats 8x8)

 African American Dolls
Search for African American Dolls