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 If she was quiet and withdrawn I would worry, and instead she's sweet and outgoing and I worry anyway.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

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


So it's been a couple days and I've been away from our blog. I have good reasons. On Tuesday morning I got an e-mail from our "local" (as in, in the US) organization that the lawyer in Africa wanted the Dossier. NOW. So I pulled together about 90% of it and the last two documents went a few minutes ago.  Our Dossier is sent! It was so incredibly stressful, I can't even explain it. To pull it all together from nothing to complete in two days is not how a dossier normally comes together, but we did it. Thankfully, by international standards, it's a small dossier. We had some of the documents on hand from our other adoptions so for those it was just a matter of scanning them in. Other things weren't even written in English so they required a bit more work with translating and back and forth and then translating our answers, and hopefully it all came out so it makes sense!  I'm SO grateful for the organization we're working with here in the US. I know there are people getting this done on their own, and I just can't imagine taking this road completely independently. I'll take a hand to hold once in a while, you know?

So now it looks like our process might be moving along a little faster than we thought. We have to hit the fundraising HARD now. We're planning Mike's century ride (100 miles!). He is such an inspiration. Three years ago he almost died of congestive heart failure. They thought he would need a transplant. They thought he might never work again. He is such a fighter. Now he'll ride 100 miles in a single day to help bring Lily home. In my mind, there isn't a better Dad around :)

We're also planning T-shirts! Hopefully those will be a long term fundraiser even after Lily is home. Lily is just one of 5 MILLION orphans in her country. Five Million. We want to do all we can once she's home to continue supporting the country with humanitarian aid.

So our next step is our Home Study. This should be finished up in the next two weeks, and we'll submit our I-600A right after that. Then we'll wait to be called for fingerprinting. Once fingerprints are done, I think we get approval to file our I-600, but honestly, I'm not sure. I'm taking it a few slow steps at a time. I'm super proud we got our Dossier pulled together this quick and just knowing we're one small step closer to hugging our little princess is so amazing!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 16, 2011


We've had enough people go through our Amazon link for their purchases to bump us up to 6% back on your purchases!  Keep up the great work, and thank you so much for supporting us!  The more people who link through our Amazon button and buy items, the higher the percentage we can get back!  Spread the word!  Mike and I, Tyler and Matty, and especially...LILY...say THANK YOU!

Friday, January 14, 2011

It's a good thing we adopt...

Or I would never get a "yearly" physical.  Today we have a busy day. We started off bright and early with Tyler's final Early Intervention assessment. I haven't gotten all the results yet, but the ones that came in were both pretty much what I expected and also somewhat disappointing. He's still very low on receptive language. 17 months. So that's basically a 50% delay. That sucks. I do think that he understands more than he indicates he understands, but the part that holds him back from scoring higher is his complete inability to follow a two step command. They asked if he would do that for me normally.  I could have lied.  I might have wanted to lie, but in reality, he just can't. Everyday he comes in the door he has to take his shoes off. He has to take them, and put them in the basket. He's NEVER been able to receive, process and complete both of those tasks. He can take them off and then when told, put them in the basket, but he can't do both if I tell him both at once.   That's just who he is right now, and I can accept that. His expressive language made more significant gains and he's now close to a 2 year old level. I don't think this was displayed to Tyler's fullest potential today, but I think it's close to being correct at the 22 months they scored him at. He's only speaking 3 word sentences sometimes, and if a sentence includes more than 3 words, it's often because it includes a "chunk" phrase like "Thank you" to build the word count. "No thank you Momma" for example. Very nice manners, but a 4 word sentence like that is long way from saying, "Look at the tree!" 

After Tyler's assessment we loaded right up into the car and went for his 3 year physical and I dropped off the paperwork for each of them for Lily's adoption. I also talked with our NP about Lily and how vaccinations would work to get her caught up. I'm not assaulting her little body with 3 years of missed vaccinations. I am also not thrilled about the idea of holding her down to get those vaccinations while we're supposed to be working on attachment. Our NP said that the Dr's at Children's in Boston could guide them when Lily got home, and it might not be a bad idea to actually go see them for a full evaluation since they specialize in international adoption. We're so lucky to have these resources for our kids that are close by. Tyler had to get a finger stick and they sucked blood out of that one little poke for about 3 different tests. Then he got one shot at the end and I promised him a donut. He was still crying but walking out behind me yelling, "Donut Momma? Donut right?" Poor little man. The nurse said, "We have some strong kids, I won't lie. He is absolutely the strongest child I've ever had to give a shot to. When he has more shots at 5, remind us we'll need a second nurse okay?" My little Incredible Hulk! I'm thankful the ultimate treat of a munchin on the way home worked wonders for his tears. We've been so strict with our budget lately we haven't been splurging on snacks like that while we're out, but I figured a shot deserved a donut hole!

Now we're home for a brief interlude of Bob the Builder with lunch and some paperwork for Mom. Dad will be home around 2:30 so I can go get my "yearly" physical...which I last had when we were bringing Matty home in July of 2009. I'm right on time like usual. After that I get to go have bi lateral knee x-rays because my Dr wants to see what degree of degeneration we're dealing with from my arthritis. Considering my vastly reduced levels of medication though, I'm doing extremely well. Yeah for that! 

I also added a button to link to our Barefoot Books fund-raiser. I love Barefoot Books because they have such a multi-racial and multi-cultural approach to their books. We have some of their books and they are beautifully made and illustrated. I highly recommend them, and not just because we'll get 20% either :) Enjoy browsing!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snowed In!

Today we're getting about 2 feet of snow. That's what Mike says is out there anyway.  I cracked the front door and said, "It's deep, have fun."

We spoke briefly with Lily's foster father by e-mail over the last few days. He speaks French and we definitely don't. I'm sure his English is better than my Google translated French. We are getting through it though. He keeps calling Lily a him, which I'm sure is something that's lost in translation. He also spells Lily with an I.  Lili. That's cute. He has said that she is doing well, and is happy. That they love her, and he hopes we can come over and meet him and his wife. He has assured me that she is in good hands.

Through various efforts our fund raising meter is slowly rising. I've been completing surveys on-line from Opinion Outpost (the best on-line surveys for pay out there I think!) that pay out in cash and made a few bucks that I'm socking away. We've had a couple purchases from our fund raiser links on the right, and some amazing donations by Paypal. It's all adding up!  Purchases from Amazon (link on the right) give us 4%, we get 20% from Thirty-One Gifts, and 25% from Scentsy. We get a whooping $5 per bag of coffee you buy through Just Love Coffee. Who doesn't need coffee?? We'll have a Barefoot Books link soon, and if anyone else has fund raising ideas, we'd love to hear them!

Monday, January 10, 2011

From this day forward...

Today we got the information to pay for Lily's foster care payments. I'll go pay for Dec, Jan and Feb tonight after church. I can't even explain why this would give me butterfly's. I guess it gives me a small amount of mothering fulfillment to know that we are at least providing for her even as another amazing mother and father care for her. Pastor L and Mama J are amazing people for the care and love they provide for these kiddos and we're so blessed to know Lily is safe and sound until the whole process can move forward to bring her home. 

So I guess at the ripe age of 32 I get to go figure out how Western Union works. I expected codes and routing numbers, but it's just a name, and a city. Amazing.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A week has passed...

I can hardly believe it's been a full week since I last posted.  We are working so hard to figure this adoption out.  How to get the paperwork done, how to get our house and the boys ready for Lily, and how to make sure that when Lily is ready to come home, we have the rest of the money to get her here.

I've thought a lot about adoption this week, and how/why we said yes to Lily even though this wasn't our plan right now.  Lily is only two, she is, by all appearances, pretty healthy.  We could easily believe that another family would have been found for her in the coming weeks.  We could easily have said, this isn't our place, isn't our time, this isn't our child.  This wasn't in our plan.

I came to a very startling realization this week.  Sometimes it's not about our plan! 

Having adopted before I can realize that how and when my boys came to me was part of a plan larger then me.  Larger than my family.  That too often in life people are willing to step back and say it's not their "turn" to handle something, that someone else will step in and stand up to a bully.  That someone else will make a stand against a wrong.  That there are enough people supporting the homeless.  Then there comes a time when you realize ALL you have compared to others.  That you have not one but TWO cars, while others lack even a house.  That you have three meals when others have one...every other day.  This isn't to make anyone feel guilty for all they have...not at all, but I think to often people forget to feel pleasure in what they have too.

Mike and I were to this point, where we were realizing all we had. When we were overwhelmed with all we had to do for Christmas, he held me crying.  Not because I needed more, but because I was so grateful for all we had.  So grateful I had gifts to wrap for my children, even if it stressed me out.  So grateful we HAD a Christmas Tree for our boys to pull over everyday, even if it made me want to pull my hair out.  So grateful we had a family to visit even if occasionally I'd rather hide from them. 

Mike and I were to a point where our stresses meant less than our blessings.  Yes our mortgage was high, but we had a house.  A house in an amazing school district where we could trust our children would get a wonderful education.  We had medical bills, but our children were healthy, Mike and I were doing well, and we had access to health care. Not only do we eat three times a day and have snacks, but we eat quality foods raised locally and organically.

Lily, and the 5 million other orphans where she lives have none of those.  They share run down, ill-kept orphanages.   An orphanage might have several hundred children per a single caregiver.  There is often no overnight care.  There might be one meal per day.   With the extremely high caregiver to child ratio, the older children are expected to make sure the younger get food to eat.  When there is a lack of food and supplies, it's hard to imagine a child of only 8 or 10 learning to sharing the little there is with those younger than them.  Children starve to death.  It's survival of the fittest at it's worst.  Malaria is prevalent and takes lives daily.  Simple diseases that in the US are unheard of.  1 in 5 women die in child birth.  ONE IN FIVE. 

So yes, we could have passed on this unexpected situation.  We could have tucked ourselves into our happy home, and said no thanks, we don't want or need this complication right now.  We could have banked on the fact that in the coming weeks, they would have found someone else to be a family for Lily.  In the coming weeks, Lily could well have been dead.

So we said yes, and although not everyone would, everyone can HELP.  You can be part of this amazing journey with us.  You can help us reach into Africa and pluck this two year old out to an amazing, loving, crazy family here in the US.  You can help give her all the things we have the pleasure to stress over.  A home, access to health care, education, three meals a day, a Christmas tree...JOY. 

If not you, then who?  If not today, then when?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Let her be named...

Lillian Mikayla.  We'll call her Lily.  I love nicknames :)

More paperwork today, and enjoying the first day of 2011 knowing that in our hearts, we're a family of 5 now.  Five.  Wow.

We've been spreading the news to our family as well the last few days.  I'm sad that some of them are not as excited as we are about our new addition.  They worry about how much work it will be for us to raise three children so close in age.  Don't worry!  We're smart people.  We put a lot of thought into this.  A lot of thought.  We both always wanted a daughter, and bringing a newborn into this crazy house with two crazy boys wouldn't be an ideal situation either.  It wouldn't be any easier than this.  Parenting is hard.  We love it anyway.  Just be happy for us.  Know this is what we want, and what is right for our family.  Share the joy with us. 

Back to the paperwork!

Happy 2011!

Well you know you are busy when you make all your plans around your paperwork.   Planned to go to the bank today to get several things notarized.   Bank Closed.  Holiday!  We're off to spread the word about our little girl to the rest of our family.  We are pretty close on a name...hopefully tomorrow!

Happy New Year!  This will certainly be an interesting one for us :)