Winter Adventures 2014

Each season we brainstorm a list of seasonal activities that we would like to adventure out and do.

WinterAdventures

Here is what we are aiming for December through February.  We hang this in our kitchen and use it for ideas when we are looking for something to do.  We enjoy checking off adventures as we go.

WinterAdventures2014

Hoping you are finding sweet adventures in your December.

Thankful for Nurses

In the month of November one of our goals is to practice gratitude with our five-year-old in practical ways by doing projects with him. This week we focused on our thankfulness for our health and for nurses.

Thankful

The members of our household this year have had two surgeries, three hospital stays, four cortisone shots, numerous doctor visits, three braces, occupational therapy, physical therapy, early intervention, lots of amoxicillin and breathing treatments and one feeding tube (that was pulled out numerous times).

We appreciate health and we appreciate those who help us get healthy.

So this week we did a spur of the moment visit to the Emergency Room after dinner.

2014-11-18 18.28.01

Our family of four arrived bundled up with a paper bag.  We declared that there was no emergency, but that we would like to speak to some nurses to thank them.

There was one uncertain looking nurse who asked if we wanted the pediatric nurses, and I explained that we were grateful for all nurses.  She used the card around her neck to open the doors and then they locked behind her.  I had Colton reach into the bag to pull out cinnamon donuts.  He gave them to the people working in reception, thanking them.

2014-11-18 18.29.57

A few minutes later the nurses arrived.  There were five of them and one supervisor.  We had brought five starbucks giftcards.  Cole handed them out to each one saying, “Thank you for helping people.” “Thank you for being a nurse.”

We explained to them that this had been a year for us of coming to really know and appreciate all that nurses do.  We thanked them for how their knowledge and their many abilities.

These nurses beamed.  They seemed filled with goodness and light.

2014-11-18 18.31.34

When we left we felt as if we had been blessed all over again by these incredible, special human beings.

A great big thank you to nurses.

Remember to thank a nurse.

Gratitude for Friendship

In the month of November one of our goals is to practice gratitude with our five-year-old in practical ways by doing projects with him.  This week we focused on our thankfulness for friends.

Thankful

Colton started kindergarten this year.  He went to pre-school in another town and did not know any of his classmates when he started the school year.  He went from being known by everyone to feeling a bit unsure about himself.  It was a hard transition.

But now we are two months in and he has formed some new friendships. This week we talked about these and who he is grateful for.

We decided to make friendship buckets for a few of his new friends (and he best friend from pre-school).

We decided to pick out some crafts, because Cole loves to do crafts.

I picked up crafts at Michaels and Buckets at the dollar store. Cole, Andrew and I worked to put them together.

Here is what they included:

IMG_7021-001

  • A Happy Thanksgiving hat to color and make
  • A Necklace to craft (Cole said it could be a bracelet too)
  • A Cup of Fall stickers
  • A Stamper
  • A Crow (that Cole made)
  • Candy (that Cole gave from his Halloween stash)
  • A Cup Craft like the Crow (either a Turkey or an Owl)
  • A Leaf Wreath Craft

Cole made the Crow Cups with his papa.  He picked the candy to give.  He sorted the stickers and crafts.  He cut out instructions and put together the bags.  We topped it off with leaves.

He was ready for delivery.

We delivered each to his friends.  I emailed the parents to know why we were doing this and to be on the lookout.

IMG_3429

Friends are a great gift.

Thankful Thursday – Food

In the month of November one of our goals is to practice gratitude with our five-year-old in practical ways by doing projects with him.  This week we focused on our thankfulness for food.

Thankful Thursday

One thing that Colton is grateful for is food.  He is unaware that there are people in the world who are hungry.  I was unsure of how to introduce this to him.  I researched on-line and appreciated the simplicity and authenticity of this video by Sesame Street.

Cole continues to remember the young girl’s story about snack time.

We have a local food bank, so I researched how to donate to them.  If you are looking for local food banks you can find them by using this website FIND Food Bank.

I looked around on-line to find out what the primary needs are for a food bank (our local food bank did not list these).

  • canned meat
  • peanut butter
  • fruit cups/kids snacks
  • rice
  • pasta
  • canned vegetables and fruit

We went to the store and purchased these items.  And then on recommendation of this site, we dressed them up a bit with pictures by Colton.

We headed off to the local police station that accepts donations 24/7, only to watch them all drive away!  There was an accident in our small town.

We were able to drop off the food in the foyer.

Gratitude

A simple way to show gratitude this month is to donate to a food bank.  Let us work together to eliminate hunger.

Adoption Preparation – Hannah

For 31 Days I blogged about Adopting Intentionally, you can find an overview and links to daily posts hereOn the weekends during this series I invited guest bloggers to share their personal stories. This weekend, Hanna is sharing her practical preparation for adoption. 

Hannah

How did you take your first step towards adoption? We researched. Holy cow did we research. We looked into international adoption versus domestic adoption. We went on the State Department’s website to look into what countries were available to us for adoption. We called adoption agencies to talk about our options. We spoke with friends who had adopted their children. We spoke with Kenny’s parents about their adoptions. By the time we had made a decision to go with an international adoption from Korea, I thought I knew everything there was to know about it (insert eye roll here). In truth, you will never know everything you need to know. Things change. New laws are made. There are always special circumstances. You just have to be prepared to flexible and patient. But, having a strong foundation of knowledge is huge. You need to know why you are making a decision to adopt domestically or internationally; or why you chose China over Kazakhstan; or why you decided on an infant over a toddler. Not only will your friends, family and even strangers ask you this, but so will your child. No decision is a wrong decision, but each one should be made with intention.

What was required of you in preparing to adopt? Ugh. What wasn’t required would be a shorter answer. With our first adoption, we had to get one home study prior to the adoption and three home studies post placement. There were state forms, federal forms, agency forms, medical forms. They needed copies of our marriage license, birth certificates, social security cards, passports and other things I can’t even remember. We had to get health physicals (Korea required that we not be obese among the many other medical requirements). Our pets had to be up to date on vaccines and assessments. We needed criminal background checks. We had to certify our employment and have letters from our supervisors basically recommending us as adoptive parents.

Honestly, I think some of the things we had to do should be required of all parents; things like taking a seminar about raising children how you plan on disciplining your child. One really wonderful thing we did was attend an adoption seminar at our agency’s campus to prepare us for interracial adoption. Things that I hadn’t really even thought about were brought to light: from now on, our family would be a walking billboard for adoption. Strangers will want to talk to us about adoption. Sometimes they will ask us completely inappropriate questions in front of our child and we have to think about how we will respond. We were told that people will come up to us and ask “how much did your child cost?” or “is that your real child?” I didn’t believe that people would actually do that, but it’s true. In talking with a fellow classmate of mine after we had adopted Evan, she said to me “I just don’t think I would love an adopted child as much as my own child.”

But some of the things we had to do were just plain insulting. One of the things that bothered me the most occurred during our second adoption. As I have previously said, we decided to go with a national agency, but that meant that we still had to use a local agency for our home study. This was a faith-based agency and it was clear that they wanted us to comply with their standards of faith. At one of our first home study, the social worker sat Kenny and I down next to each other and gave us a test. We were not allowed to talk or look at each other’s paper. The questions were things like, “is there pornography in the house?” “Does your spouse drink alcohol?” “How much does your spouse drink?” “Has your spouse ever used drugs?” It felt like a set up. Like we were presumed to be bad people. I hated it. On top of that, they gave us “homework” which consisted of 20 pages of questions about our history. They actually thought it was appropriate to ask if I was sexually promiscuous in high school. And that wasn’t all. They wanted us to tell them what our own sex life was like now. I remember screaming at the form and using a lot of four letter words about how ludicrous I thought it was. But we were trapped. We had to play by their rules if we wanted to complete the adoption. To this day, it baffles me why there isn’t a state funded home study agency available to every adoptive couple.

How did you emotionally prepare for adoption? Kenny and I talked a lot about what our expectations were for our adoption. And it was a rollercoaster. We got our visa approval to bring our son home from Korea right before Christmas one year. Kenny got it in the mail and thought it would be fun to wrap up the approval and put it under the tree. I remember opening it and thinking, “Oh my God! I have to pack!!” I cried with excitement and relief. In reality, we still had four more months of waiting until Korea gave us approval to bring Evan home. We didn’t travel until April. Taking things one day at a time and knowing that there will be an endpoint was huge for me. But the most important thing was communicating with Kenny. He knew exactly what I was going through and could relate to all my frustrations and worries.

How did you practically prepare for adoption? Well, first and foremost, we saved money. It was helpful that our adoptions took some time in the sense that we didn’t have to borrow money because we were able to save so much. As we went along, I slowly prepared for the baby. I would by a crib one month and then a couple months later I would buy a baby monitor. I would only allow myself one item and it seemed to help me feel like the adoption was still moving along. We did a lot of research about travel and tried to have a blueprint of where we were going to stay and how we were going to get to Korea and Kansas.

How were you intentional preparing for adoption? Again, we had to make a lot of decisions in the adoption process. And each one opened another discussion between Kenny and me. I think that our adoptions have made us a much stronger couple because they forced us to be excellent communicators. We know each others’ strengths and weaknesses an are able to rely on each other to accomplish a shared goal.

Adoption – Celebrating the Journey

For 31 Days I have blogged about Adopting Intentionally, this is the final post in the series.

Adopting is an incredible journey, a journey to be taken intentionally by preparing and by having open hands.

My hope is that there have been ideas and insights in these past 31 days that will continue to inspire and assist others as they step out on to the Adoption road.  May your journey be intentional and blessed.

Day 1

Day 1

Day 2

Day 2

Day 3

Day 3

Day 4

Day 4

Deciding to Adopt

Day 5

Day 6

Day 6

Day 7

Day 7

Day 8

Day 8

Day 9

Day 9

Day 10

Day 10

Day 11

Day 11

Day 12

Day 12

Day 13

Day 13

Day 14

Day 14

Day 15

Day 15

Day 16

Day 16

Day 17

Day 17

PeparingtoAdopt

Day 18

Day 19

Day 19

Day 20

Day 20

Day 21

Day 21

AdoptionAdvocating

Day 22

TwoOutcomes

Day 23

AdoptionDisrupted

Day 24

Day 24

Day 24

Day 25

Day 25

Day 26

Day 26

AdoptionBringinHome

Day 27

AdoptionResourcing

Day 28

Day 29

Day 29

Day 30

Day 30

Brianna

Day 31

14914242458_608641fafe_o

Ultimately the end result is a family.

From our family to yours, may your journey be amazing.

And though there are differences between birth stories and adoption stories, both bring us to parenting.

And a new journey begins . . .

Adoption Reflection – Brianna

For 31 Days I am blogging about Adopting Intentionally, you can find an overview and links to daily posts here. During this series I have invited guest bloggers to share their personal stories. This final day, Brianna shares her reflections on Adopting Intentionally.  Thank you, Brianna for sharing your beautiful story as it unfolds.

Brianna

I sometimes marvel at the beauty and richness of my family. I’m your typical Heinz 57 American, with a mixture of Belgian, English, Scottish, and German ancestry. However, I am an Air Force brat who has lived in seven different states and visited all 50. Either because of my upbringing in a military house or due to my God-given personality, I love adventure, traveling into the unknown and seeing new places, meeting new people. My husband is 100% Asian Indian with a Middle Eastern flair since he was born and raised in the United Arab Emirates who now travels all over the world selling educational robotics kits. Our biological son is a beautiful mix of the two of us, with an exuberant love of life and outgoing personality. Our adopted daughter is also 100% Asian Indian with a joyful heart and avid curiosity about the world around her. On top of these different ethnic cultures we add the kingdom culture, living life in the world as God has called us according to the Spirit’s leading and His word in the scriptures.

My family was formed by intentional choices. My husband and I intentionally chose to marry. That was not as easy as it sounds, but that’s a story for another time. We are still married 12.5 years later only because we intentionally choose each and every day to devote energy to loving God, loving each other, and working as a team. We intentionally chose to conceive and give birth to Ethan. Again, it wasn’t as easy as that sounds, but thankfully God knew what He was doing when He led us down that path. And after much prayer and discussion and time, we intentionally chose to adopt Nayami.

DSC_0083cropped

When we are in public, I wonder how people see us. Are we all biologically related since Mohit is Indian and I’m white and we have one of each? Are we a blended family – Mohit and I remarried with children from previous marriages/relationships? Is Nayami the biological child and Ethan adopted, or is it the other way around? More often than not it’s just me with the kids, so it’s been fairly obvious that Nayami is adopted and then it’s assumed that Ethan is biological. In fact, I met the manager of Costco’s bakery when he asked how long I had had Nayami. A little surprised he was so forthright as that was his first question, he explained he and his wife had adopted from China and were leaving in two weeks to pick up their second child from China. Along with the questions about adoption and the process and the adjustments now that we are home, there are always questions about Nayami’s hand (and leg if she is wearing shorts). This is to be expected as she is missing all the fingers on her right hand, and we never mind people’s honest, thoughtful questions. We simply explain she had a childhood accident and her fingers had to be amputated and her leg fixed. Adults usually accept that, but kids want more of the details. I’ve had to use a phrase I learned from one of the many webinars I watched, “That’s something we only discuss at home.” Nayami’s story is just that…it’s her story. She can share whatever details she wants when she chooses. The adoption process is our story, and we are always willing to share in order to help educate and encourage others in their own journey.

DSC_0678Edited

At home, there’s been beauty amidst the challenges in adjusting to a family of four. It’s definitely different having a biological child and an adopted child. When you carry a child for nine months, you begin to make predictions on his personality even before birth. If he kicks a lot, he’ll be quite active and into sports, maybe even a professional soccer player. If she calms down when music is played, she must be musical, maybe a singer or world-renown violin virtuoso. Then after birth you see glimpses of personality as they grow and develop so that not a lot of who they are is a surprise; it’s just natural. With Nayami, however, it’s all a surprise and a wonder. She’s an organizer. She wouldn’t leave our hotel room that first week unless all the shoes were neatly lined up under the cabinet and all the papers/books/luggage were neatly stacked on the shelves. When playing with her kitchen set at home, she first removed each piece and organized it based on type, size, and color before deciding to open a restaurant and feed Ethan and me. She is neat and clean. She immediately puts her shoes in the closet when we get home and never has to be reminded to throw her clothes in the laundry basket when she undresses at night. She is eager to help. I can’t leave the refrigerator door open to take out more than one round of containers as she is quick to close it for me, same with the microwave, or the bathroom cabinets, or the garage door. She is teachable, adaptable. It only took three nights for her to learn how to open her mouth to brush the backside of her teeth. She knows what goes in the trash versus the recycle bin. The first time on our strider (a pre-bike with no pedals) she insisted on riding it all the way around the block, despite numerous falls and zig-zagging around. We wonder how many of these traits are innate. Are they learned from orphanage life or are they a temporary response to living in a new culture and home? We expect a storming period where she tests us to see whether she is truly secure as a member of our family, whether that unconditional love we talk about is real. I wonder how many of these traits we see will survive that or will she be a totally different person when she is finally comfortable being an Abraham.

It’s been beautiful seeing Ethan and Nayami adjust to each other. Ethan has been an only child for five and a half years, although the idea of being a big brother has percolated in his mind for three of those years. Now he is learning what that actually means. While many kids his age experience this change, most of the time they learn how to be a sibling gradually, growing into the role as a new baby grows and develops. Not Ethan. His new sister is only five months younger than he is, able to speak and show off and claim toys and demand attention with the best of them. He has prayed for and prepared for her for so long, he takes his role as big brother very seriously. He loves to teach her how to take a bath, how to speak English, how to read, how to play games with the Kinect, etc. He is quick to make sure she is safe when she doesn’t understand to not run into the street before looking both ways for cars or ensure she doesn’t remove her seat belt before the car is parked. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve seen the ugly face of jealousy and Ethan’s competitive nature come out in not-so-pretty ways. But when that happens, we talk about how he’s feeling, how Nayami might be feeling being in a new culture, new language, new environment, and pray that God enables us how to treat each other with love, grace, and compassion.

DSC_0052

We’ve been on this journey so long, it’s a little surreal to finally have all of us in one place. It’s a new season in our life, one that holds its own challenges and opportunities to grow but also allows for so much joy and celebration. While being present in the now, we are excited to see what God has in store for us in the future. We follow Him willingly, with open hands, open hearts, and open doors, knowing that His will is far better than anything we could ever hope for or imagine.