Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Person in My Path

How many times have I blogged about a certain person who crossed my path that day and just seemed to be an answer to prayer? Well today, I had another such experience. I have two brothers. My mother had three children in 28 months, two boys, then me. My brother one year older and I have always had an interesting relationship. As children, we fought like cats and dogs. I never thought the day would come that he would leave for college. That would be great I always thought. Then, he left. Inside of two weeks, I missed him terribly. After that, we had such fun together. There was the time my senior year he called my high school and had the secretary get me out of class for a "family emergency". When I came to the phone, he just laughed on the other end and asked me if the secretary looked angry. It turns out he did not care for her due to previous pranks when he was a student there. There was the time he told me he would treat me to pizza late one night and after a full meal he instructed the waitress to give me the bill and drove off in the car laughing at me through the restaurant window. He came back pretty fast, but that is who he is, quite the prankster. Into adulthood, I started to really appreciate his sense of humor and really, he is quite possibly one of the wisest people I know. He does not lecture, or advise, he listens and usually shares something amazing at the end.

Today, he texted me to remind me of an anniversary of a turning point in his life. I won't share all the gory details, but I had an front row seat to said event. We joked about the craziness involved in all of that but the reality is that trial helped shape this amazing man. Today, I was sharing my frustration in the wait of this adoption. He listened very patiently to all my babblings and gave me the reminder that I needed. That was that this is my time for God to teach me something. When I get it learned they will be home. In that moment I was able to think about really bringing God's plan into focus.

I will admit, through this blog I do look for things God is trying to teach me, however I also spend a great deal of time scouring my email looking for any little glimmerif update from Haiti. Dying for travel dates, missing my babies. If I had to put a percentage on it I would say looking for God's lessons to me:30%, scouring email: 70%. I think I need to make that like 98/2. I need to look at email, but not to the exclusion of God's lesson. So, oh wise brother of mine, your patience of listening to my ramblings has once again delivered the message I needed to hear. I am thankful that God put you in my path today.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Well Ya Know...It's Haiti....

How many times have I heard that phrase,"it is Haiti". This phrase is applied to a multitude of things. The speed of the government, the bumpy roads, the poverty, the food, the home remedies. It is funny though, the people I have heard this from are generally wealthy Americans who somehow do not see that we have our share of,"well after all, it is America." over the last couple of days I have run across a couple of patients who have reminded me of our own quirkiness in this country. First, I had the young mother with her five month old. The baby had a black rope like string peeking out from under her onesie. I asked the mother what that was. I was expecting to hear it was a medic alert device or some sort of ID tag. She simply looked at me and said,"It is a dime." I didn't follow, so I asked more about it. It turns out she understood if you drilled a hole in a dime and placed it around the child's neck it reduced the discomfort of teething. I had a tactful discussion with her about choking hazards and we discussed the use of anbesol. Nonetheless, I think the child to this day is still wearing the dime.

Today, I had another such incident. This patient was a very nice lady who came in after stepping on a nail 3 days ago. The nail had pierced the whole bottom of her foot. Her husband proudly described the extrication of the nail using a set of pliers. They came today, because the foot was still hurting despite her best efforts of,"doctoring herself at home." she went on to describe the multiple things she had tried. First, there was the application of the raw potato, followed later when it was still red and hurting by the onion dipped in salt, and when that was no better, the husband had made her a bandage soaked in turpentine. He went on to explain that is how they treat the pigs when they castrate them. The couple was sweet and once again, not wanting to be insulting, I explained the good news was that she no longer needed those remedies, just a bandage and some antibiotics. She then asked to return to work as a caregiver.

All of this reminded me that there are quirks everywhere, not just in Haiti. Besides, I think we have some other quirks here that may not be as obvious as the turpentine, that are not in Haiti. We have been studying the blessed life the last few weeks and in it we see the American desire for bigger, better and greater. The desire to be the top of the heap. It is such a hard mold to break out of, as we try to be more generous and helpful to places like Haiti. I do think we hear the phrase,"Only in America..." as it applies to striving toward that top of the heap status. If only the second part of that was,"could we find the resources to help (fill in the blank)". In my world that blank is filled by my babies, who hopefully I will never see a need to drill a hole in a dime for!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Adoption Stories

After all the adoptions we have done there have been lots of questions from others who are curious as to how you break the news to your children that they are adopted. I think modern entertainment outlets love to have a dramatic moment that a child, who is now an adult who is sat down and told,"you were adopted." it lends itself to great story lines about characters finding themselves, finding birth parents or other roads to self discovery. The reality is, in our house, all of our children have always known they are adopted. We talk about their home countries and they all love their coming home stories.

However, there comes a time when the excitement of fourteen hour plane rides and exciting homecomings at the airport all dies down and our children start asking the harder questions. Today was one of those days. Actually it has been ongoing for several days. Zachary, age six has suddenly become aware that other kids were grown in mommies' tummies and he wasn't grown in mine. Somehow through our discussions over the last few days it dawned on me he thought babies came from adoption. Why wouldn't he? All of his siblings were adopted and we are adopting again. This is his normal. Today, we discussed his birth mother. He wanted to know what she looked like and where she was. I explained to him she was sick and could not care for him so God brought him to me. I realized as we talked I had told him so much about coming home, I never got to tell him the rest of the story...it started with a dream. A dream I was pregnant. It was so real, I woke up expecting to hear a baby cry. Instead I had a ten year old and a twelve year old soundly sleeping. It happened time and again until I finally asked Tim if he had ever considered another baby. He looked shocked. Uh oh, I thought as I studied his face. The shock was not the notion of another baby, it was that he too had the same dream. As we prayed our way through it, we just knew we had to adopt again. After the decision was made, God brought us the money, the method and finally a year and a half later, Zachary. He was fascinated by the story. In the end he had one question. "Was God with you in the dream when you dreamed about me?" I answered,"Yes." I went on to ask him if God was with him when he told me he was to have another brother who was going to be his size and brown. He just smiled and said "yes."

It amazes me how easily he just surrenders to God. The mystery of his adoption so easily solved by just knowing God was there. He went on talking about sting rays and the venom in their tails. He has quite an affinity for sea life. I listened to him tell me all about them and I found myself smiling at his mispronounced "F's" due to the missing tooth in the front. I watched him write out his homework sentences knowing he had just moved on with his evening. I was, once again, grateful that he was my son. God showing me no matter how frustrating this adoption wait is, He is here. My job is to just let him do His job and surrender, just like Zachary. I guess I find myself wondering how this six year old with the missing front tooth got so wise.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Today, I had the day off. It is part of the beauty of spending my nurse practitioner career in emergency medicine. I only work 11 days a month. As awesome as this is, the downside is, I get to spend some of my days off cleaning, taking care of household stuff etc... Today was one of those days. I spent my time cleani out the fridge, doing laundry and cleaning off the layer of dust that had collected in my living room and dining room. As I took some Murphy's Oil Soap to the dining room table I was once again reminded that we need a bigger table before the babies come home. Until today, I was looking forward to it. Ours is ten year old and starting to show some significant wear and tear. As I ran over the divots in the wood at Zachary's place I was reminded of how he would bang the bottom of his fork in the table right after we switched him from the high chair. I saw the splotch on the finish toward where Jack sits. This is leftover candle wax. Jack likes our meals to look perfect with the centerpiece lit each time. One time I warned him not to, because the candles were getting small, but he lit it anyway and halfway through our meal our table was doused in a river of red wax. Then there were the nicks along the edge of Katya's seat. These were from her shoving her chair in during a dramatic exit from the table. It is funny now, but teenage girls are sometimes a bit of a struggle. Nonetheless, she now prepares to leave for the Air Force in a few months. There is the little hole in the upholstery on Zachary's chair. It would seem our little cat could not go a day without joining him in his chair at the dinner table, and at one point his claw got stuck. Then there was the missing chair. This made me smile as I guiltily recalled one fateful Christmas when a particularly obese relative ended up flailing around on the floor after the sound of snapping wood could be heard for blocks around.

It was at this moment I no longer saw my beat up dining room table that was missing a chair. I saw all the imprints of my children. Every dent and scratch suddenly meaning so much. I let my mind wander to what imprints my babies are leaving in Haiti. I thought about the missionary that was so moved by Alex's story of his birth mother bringing him to the orphanage as a newborn because his father denied he was his and could not feed him. I thought about one of the girls who spent three months at the orphanage who was there when Grace arrived. She saw a mother give up this beautiful girl and marveled at that decision. A friend mentioned the other day how hard it is to see pictures of our babies in someone elses's arms. How we would love to be the ones in control of who holds our babies or be there as they meet their developmental milestones. She went on to point out though, that maybe they would impact those they come in contact with. I tried hard to swallow that, but my selfishness to want them here won out, until now. Today, I think maybe them being there is like my dining room table. They are leaving their imprint there as directed by God. He will bring them in and out of visitor's lives and maybe I will never know what it is they have accomplished there, but one thing for sure, He will look at their imprints as fondly as I do my lovingly weathered dining room table.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Slow times...

I really haven't blogged in over a week. I would love to say that it was yet another case of blogger's block, but that would not be quite accurate. I think more accurate would be nothing to report. The reality is our stuff is at parade rest until Grace's birth mother can work through her paperwork. I have consultation in that our coordinator is probably one of the hardest working ladies around. She will stop at nothing to get things done, but even this human dynamo has to concede to the government of Haiti. So, in the adoption front, nothing to report.

On the waiting, there is lots to report. There is this thing that happens in the waiting. It is the ability to allow doubt to begin to enter the thought process. For example, I begin to doubt this can ever come to completion. I begin to question why it is we are doing this. As I said before, there are loads of people who ask scads of questions. Why invest the money in children? Why not consider a new car, retirement, investment, anything. Usually I can fight all this off knowing in my heart of hearts this is God's plan for me, but still...the waiting. Sigh.

That brings me to this weekend. It is as if God knows what I need to get me through. this weekend was very special in the orphanage. One of my fellow mamas brought her baby home. I poured over Facebook every few hours. I first saw the pictures of them taking off, then the reuniting of the baby and the family, the step by step legal processes, the farewell, the taking off again. Today, he is home with his new family and their journey is just beginning. I saw their smiles and his contentment on his new daddy's lap and I had renewed hope that , yes, this will end someday. Then, today's message. We went to church and the series on leading a blessed life continued. As I listened, our pastor eventually brought up a scene from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. He talked about when Charlie went home to his poor family and offered to sell his golden ticket to raise money for the family. His grandfather pointed out there was a lot of money in the world, it was printed all the time, and was really quite ordinary, but the golden ticket, there were only five of those. It reminded me that there a probably lots of ordinary things I could buy with money, but only one Alex and one Grace. At that moment my belief all those naysayers were wrong was once again renewed.

So, here I sit, nothing changed. No news, no travel dates, but able to once again know that I can face a bit more waiting, knowing my golden Grace and Alex are coming home.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Earthquake Reflections

Yesterday, I worked my usual twelve hour shift in the ER. I got off at 2:00am and as I drove home amidst the snow falling my mind began to wander. I was thinking that Grace and Alex had never seen snow. Being the practical mom I am, I began to run through the list of things my babies would need for winter. Through the thoughts of mittens and snow boots, my mind wandered somewhere else. I was reminded that yesterday was the two year anniversary of the 7.0 earthquake that shook Haiti killing 300,000. Grace was two months old. I developed visions of what it must have been like for her mother, holding her newborn for dear life, wondering when the shaking would stop. I thought about Alex's birth mom too, how frightening it all must have been. Little did she know at that time, not only would she live, she would be pregnant with Alex a few months later, and after giving birth would make that heart wrenching decision to give him away. A lot to go through in just a small period of time.

As for me, how did I respond to the earthquake? For some reason, although we were not involved with Haiti then, I watched ever ounce of news coverage I could find. I searched the Internet for the orphans. Who was taking care of the babies? I watched as some tried to mobilize the children to another country without authorization. I read the articles that made Haitian adoption seem impossible, yet had such needy children. I felt the call to adopt then, yet it all seemed so out of reach. A year later, little by little, adoption found us through an unlikely place. An innocent email from a friend of a friend who wondered if we wanted one of these babies. Looking back, there are so many things that fell into place, so many impossibilities, so crazy. Tonight I looked at Tim and just shared my utter disbelief in it all. The beautiful babies. The magical adoption reimbursement that appeared out of nowhere from my company, the offering of a new position with a better choice of shifts to work with my new baby schedule. Just thing after thing, unreal. I asked him how this happened? How did we get so lucky? He smiled and just said,"God." I hope one day I can share with my babies the way the earthquake moved us to find them.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A little forward motion

This has been an odd week. It seems like all the sudden a break. I should back up I suppose. Starting with Sunday. We went to church, and my husband plays keyboards in the praise band. So, I stood listening to the first few lines of the opening song, when I was joined by a friend if mine. This person is just, well, amazing. She has lived through some very hard times, things I could not imagine. She developed her faith and never gave up. Now, here she is, a wonderful husband, who has struggled in the past as well, but flourishing relying on God. I selfishly was glad when the nursery called her to get her beautiful daughter Zoey. That meant I got to worship next to this gorgeous child. She is only about five months old, chubby and cute, and on this day wearing a crocheted beanie type hat with a huge flower in the front. Somehow playing with Zoey helps me to see no matter how hard life is, in particular this adoption process, two beautiful babies await. Tim finished playing and joined us for the sermon. It was there that I saw it. The little glances at the baby, the little twinkle in Tim's eye and the little nudges he kept giving me so I would see Zoey smile or reach for something. It was then I realized Tim was ready for his babies to be a part of our family too. I could feel his excitement.
That was fun to watch. Somehow also I knew in that moment we would have news soon. Sure enough, Monday, the minute I finished my blog, another email!! Our lawyer in Haiti moved some kind of mountain and was able to combine our babies' adoptions and they will from this point on be processed together. Not only that, they will come home together. Wow. This makes it so much better for so many reasons. Less trips, less expense, Gracie home much sooner, on and on...

OK, so yes, it did dawn on me I will have two children under three fifteen months apart descending on my home at the same time. However, those concerns pale to my excitement. Now, to wait for a dean appointment. That will be amazing, as we get to go see them!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Keeping Busy...

I have found international adoption to be tolerable when I am best able to play that game with  myself where I can feel I am accomplishing something to bring the babies home, when the reality is I have no control whatsoever.  This weekend I threw myself into caring for Grace and Alex's hair and skin.  I poured over webpage after webpage trying to unlock the mystery of their hair and skin.  As it turns out, it could not be more different than mine.  Fortunately, one of my fellow Mama Blanc's, and best support and friend, Denise, came to my rescue.  She gave me lists of things to look at and it really helped.  As I type this, there are a host of hair products on the way for the babies:  sulfate free shampoo, leave in conditioner, and daily spray in conditioner.  I have watched tutorials on detangling and twisting and I am feeling pretty good about it all.  Today, I went on a mission to find the detangling comb and brush.  I went in to Sally Beauty Supply only to be met by a clerk who was quite friendly.  She inquired about my adoptions, because obviously my straight brunette soft hair did not need these things.  I cheerfully explained about Grace and Alex.  First, she could not comprehend having five children.  She raised her eyebrows through her smiles like I was crazy.  Then, the mother of all comments,"You are adopting two black children?  You know you will get looks, not from people as enlightened as me, but you will get looks." 

It was then that I began to think about writing a book on ignorant adoption comments.  I have heard lots of them,"Oh, you are adopting children from another country.  That is really in fashion now, like Angelina Jolie."  Yes, I adopted long before she did, and I do not consider my children fashionable accessories. 

Here is another,"You get maternity leave?  What for?  You don't have a newborn."  OK, so I am not supposed to take the time to bond with this child to whom I am a stranger? 

How about,"Are they 'real' brothers and sisters?"  No, they only live in the same house, argue over toys and conspire lovingly because they are fake siblings. 

The list goes on.  I guess these are people we pray for.  People that cannot see God's plan for family.  God's plan for saving us from loneliness and saving our children from starvation and a life without love.  To me, the plan is incredible and has given me a life I could not have imagined in my younger days.  Now, if we could just get the Haitian government moving just a wee bit faster....am missing my beautiful children!!  :) 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Learning About Grace

Ever since the decision was made to name our new daughter Grace, it seems I see her name at every turn. In my earlier blogs I mention her name appearing in songs. Songs I listen to each day. They make me smile as I think abut my beautiful babies waiting for me. At first, I thought this was God's plan. God reminding me of His gifts on the way to me. A way to ease the suffering and frustration in the wait. The reality is, as I mentioned earlier, this girl came to me in a dream. I dreamt I was pregnant. I could feel her move in my dream. I gave birth, then there she was, a beautiful girl. I named her Grace in that dream. I remember waking up last July when that happened. I smiled at my husband and told him God was bringing us a girl and her name was Grace. I think he didn't totally trust what I was saying, but over time, he felt it too. Now, here she is. Alex was brought by God too, but he was brought into being by Zachary, who at age four, explained to me one night he had been chatting with God. He explained God told him he would have a brother his size and he would be brown. This was long before our Haiti journey began.

Anyway, back to Grace. I am beginning to think this is not about a song easing my suffering in the wait. This is about me learning a very important lesson. Tonight, ironically the sermon was about Grace. The grace that God gives us no matter what. He overlooks our imperfections and sinful nature, and hands us grace that just passes understanding and what an amazing gift that is. All this time, I thought I understood Grace. It turns out I only grasped a small crumb of knowledge about this. The pastor went on to talk about God loving the unlovable and that is what He asks of us too. He talked about his own adoption journey of a child of a different race born addicted to drugs and how no matter what he loved this child. It reminded me of some of our obstacles in the way of adopting children out of our race. Some of the insensitive things people say. My favorite was the woman at work who said,"Wow, that is really popular now, adopting those children". I wanted to respond with a smart remark like,"yes, popular like the Vera Bradley bag I got, or my iPhone." it further reminded me of the remarks about saving more money and leaving the children behind. Though the message I found myself realizing that God's grace trumps all. By loving these children, god will give me his Grace and that will stand up forever beyond all fashion trends and money.

I guess I better keep working on understanding God's grace better, but one thing I decided wasi have a leg up on most people...I will have a living breathing beautiful little Grace to love and hold anytime I forget. Oh yea, I get the added bonus of a snuggly little Alex too! So blessed.