Sunday, December 22, 2013

Here we go again...

What the world needs is another blog post about Phil Robertson. Said NO ONE. EVER.

I'll admit it, I spent way too much time last week reading points of view on Robertson's comments and have had more than enough.  It's a shame to see the ugliness of so many come out on both sides. I'm most concerned by the vicious commentary coming from many Christians at a time when we are supposed to be joyfully celebrating the birth of our Savior.  We are supposed to focused on the light of the world, and this, in my opinion, has unfortunately been a dark week.

I digress.  That's the last you'll hear from me on an issue that has consumed far too much of my time, the headlines, and the multitudes of social media feeds.

I'll instead write about something far more interesting and important, at least to me - there's a good chance that our second little one is somewhere in Africa, unaware that we exist, but God is preparing us for each other. 

I guess our little teaser at the end of our previous post worked! Evidently, our reference to #2 in this post didn't! :-)

So, YES, we've begun the process for #2.  When we started the process to adopt Bailey, we knew we wouldn't be "one and done".  We didn't/don't know how many we will eventually adopt. There are of course the "real life" realities and constraints to consider.  But we also know confidently that God has called us to build our family through adoption, and we're trusting that He'll provide for us to continue adopting.

Many have been surprised that we're beginning the process already.  The human, overly cautious, hyper-organized planner in me agrees! I've only got 11 months of parenting under my belt!  I have plenty of justifications on why we should wait a while longer.  But one night I was thinking about this and I felt God saying something like this to me:

"I've got your back. Sure, there will always be reasons to wait.  But I've called you to build your family.  So why wait?  Make yourselves available to these kids that are so precious to Me."

So that's what we're doing. It scares the heck out of me, but I'm going into this with the best partner who so seamlessly holds us together.

As we get started, there's a little bit that we know, and a whole lot that we don't know.

What We Know:

  • We'd love to adopt from DR Congo again and have our children share their birth country and culture.  I know that Jenny and I were both forever changed by our trip there last January and know that that wasn't our last visit.  
  • We're so glad we have a little one here that we get to love on as we begin the second process.  I don't miss the waiting process and how painful it was at times.  And this is coming from the one of us that is a professional compartmentalizer. :-)
  • Adoption is still expensive and unfortunately, not immune to inflation. $45-50k is our expected bill, including travel.
  • We've begun our home study process for #2.  Yep, still a ridiculous amount of paperwork, including each of us having to write autobiographies.  That was a treat.  All the emotions came flooding back from the last time we did this - how many kids do you have to adopt before it gets easier to accept that a social worker, all of our doctors, my HR rep, tax guy, health insurance representative, local police department and notary are all required to expand our family???  We have our final home study visit for Bailey next week as well as our first visit for round 2 coming up just after the New Year. 
  • We're really excited about bringing home a sibling/siblings for Bailey!!!

What we don't know:
  • We don't know if we'll adopt another infant or an older, waiting child.  It'll largely depend on what our social worker approves us for and what we feel Bailey would do best with.
  • We don't know what age our child will be, although we're open to a child that's a bit older.
  • We don't know what gender, though we're leaning towards another girl if it's an older child.         
  • We don't know if we'll adopt a single child or siblings.  We've been praying for guidance in this area specifically, especially as it relates to Bailey. 
  • The adoption situation in DR Congo is very concerning right now, as the DRC authorities (DGM) put in place a suspension of all exit letters for adopted children this past September and said it could be for up to a year.  
  • We don't know what agency we'll work with beyond the home study.  It will largely depend on if we adopt a waiting child, whether DRC opens up again, and other factors.   
  • We don't know the timing of the process, especially if the DRC continues to suspend the issuance of exit letters.
  • If it remains closed for a long time, we may consider other countries in Africa.
  • We don't know how we're going to cover the adoption expenses, but we're excited to see how God provides.  We'll share more later about fundraisers and other ways to support us if you're interested.  Until then, there's the always convenient PayPal link in the right sidebar!

Prayer requests:
  • For the families that are currently in DRC or have had to recently leave their children behind, due to the situation with DGM.
  • For baby Imara, that she will be able to be issued an exit letter to receive life-saving medical treatment in the US.
  • For DGM, that they will make whatever changes they deem necessary to ensure that their children are going to loving homes and being adopted through legal means.
  • For discernment for us in choosing an agency and for wisdom and patience to know when the time is right to do this.
  • And lastly, that God will start preparing our hearts and Bailey's for a new addition (or two!).  

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Going Under

One way to cure writer's block - watch your child go under anesthesia.  We had to take Bailey in for a small endoscopic procedure that required her to go under so that the doctor could insert a tube into her intestine so they could take some biopsies. This is the latest attempt in trying to diagnose Bailey's stomach issues.  

Watching the process of Bailey going from awake and alert to out cold was quick, but watching her eyes roll back was something I'd prefer not to see.  

And unfortunately, the process of gaining consciousness and coherency didn't go as nicely as, say, this guy:

Sure, there were tears, but A LOT more screaming. Never thought I'd hear a nurse explain the behavior was as if my 22-month-old just had her first drink. I guess Bailey's a sad, angry drunk!!

Bailey did great, all things considered.  Hopefully that's the last hospital visit of the year!

A lot has happened since our last post.  Halloween and Thanksgiving have come and gone, and we're bearing down on Christmas. College football and the NFL seasons are winding down. It's been so fun to enjoy these moments with Bailey. She LOVES Christmas lights, our Christmas tree, her nativity, Santa,  and the other things that go along with Christmas.  It's pretty cool to have a child who can verbalize her excitement as she experiences these seasons for the first time.  

Here are some pictures:

Touchdown!! Sadly, Bailey didn't get to celebrate too many of these for the Trojans this year...

Bailey's first Halloween - Cookie Monster!

And her sidekick Oscar!

Bailey's first picture with Santa - she's not impressed!

I sound like a broken record but it is ridiculous how quickly Bailey grows.  When I'm gone for even just a day or two, it seems like she grows so much. She is in full-blown mimic's getting more and more dangerous for me to have her in the car with me. Thankfully the worst she's picked up so far: darn, shoot, and geez!

Bailey helping me work

Bailey loves orange wedges!

Thanks for the crown Uncle Danny!

Bailey and her buddy Sully! Not sure why he's in Abby's crate...

This look gives me chills.  I hope I never see this one again. Brrr...

More to come soon on adoption #2!!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

No, No, Bailey...don't pick Harold's nose!

Growing up, my grandpa used a number of catchy phrases to impart his wisdom to us.  One especially stuck with me.

"You can pick your friends, you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's nose."

Yep, Bailey's latest discovery - nose picking.  And not just her nose.  Mama's, dada's, even Abby's! Her stuffed animals, baby dolls, and Harold have all been victims of her invasive nose picking attacks. I was FaceTiming with Jenny and Bailey last week and witnessed her surprise attack on Jenny, her nose-picking index finger at the ready. Let's be honest, it's a giant step up from last post's discovery. Let's hope both of these pass soon...

This week, Bailey got her groove back and started dancing A LOT again.  It's been a while but she won't stop.  She's expanding her music preferences and isn't partial to just one genre.  (These are for your little one, Brody!) The latest playlist includes Single Ladies...

...and some nice classical music.  Here she shows of her conducting skills. So funny!

I experienced my first grocery store meltdown with Bailey last week. With it being Halloween season, a grocery store display had a large inflatable Frankenstein. Bailey took one look and FLIPPED OUT. I ran the cart as fast as I could to another aisle but Bailey could see it until we turned down a row with the pet supplies. It took a lot of puppy pictures, and her favorite Cookie Monster balloon, to finally stop looking around me in fear that Frankenstein was going to come get her. Since then, she makes a "monster face" every time she is a little scared or sees another monster. We hope she does okay on her first Halloween!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Muddy Hands

"So, Bailey had some muddy hands this morning..."

In this instance "muddy" referred to the "mud" that a person creates. 


That wasn't the way I expected to be greeted this morning.

I wasn't the lucky one to discover this firsthand, but I was at the breakfast table when Jenny realized that the clean up job wasn't quite finished.  "Mud" was still caked under and around Bailey's fingernails. Of course we noticed AFTER she just ate her last bite of banana. 

I just threw up in my mouth. Be right back, need some mouthwash.

Evidently, this is something kids do as they continue "exploring". This morning, unfortunately, there were some extra treats in her diaper. Here's hoping that this phase is very short-lived. 

In other news, it was "consignment week" here in Douglas County. JBF, CLC, MOPS, yada yada yada. Jenny gets this look in her eye when these sales come along. I think her goal is to buy some of the clothes, books, and toys Bailey will need for the next 3 years in a couple 4-day spans each year.  It's impressive to watch, though this year I was on Bailey duty.  So I was only able to celebrate the spoils after the fact.  

For those of you that haven't been to one of these consignment sales, you're missing out.  Imagine a TJ Maxx store, but twice the size, and is full of just kids' stuff, mostly clothes and toys. One of them is held at a convention center!  Racks and racks and racks of clothes.  Oh, and they're RIDICULOUSLY cheap (or they are if the consignor actually wants to sell the stuff) and good quality, some brand new. Add in a mess of shoppers, half-price sales, Baby Bjorns, confused & overwhelmed husbands, and you've got yourself a good old-fashioned consignment sale.  Many of them don't allow children.  If not for the fact that husbands have two arms to carry stuff, we should probably be banned as well.

One of the "spoils" was a "Racin' Rody" - Bailey slowly warmed to it until this happened:

For all you social workers out there, she fell onto very plush carpet. There were no tears, I swear. :-)

One more recent video; one of our favorites:

We've been asked for more pictures, so here you go!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Bailey said "iPad"...Mission accomplished!

I'll let you figure out who loved it when Bailey said "iPad" during a "hair" session and who groaned...

It's been a long time since our last post.  I blame Abby - every time I get ready to write, she's using the laptop as a pillow.  Cutest writer's block ever, right???

We've had a lot of fun this summer experience new things with Bailey and spending a lot of time with friends and family. We have been able to see some other families with children from DRC, including some that were at the transition home with Bailey. This little girl below is one you might recognize from our "No more waiting" picture. She and Bailey had a special relationship in the transition home so it's fun to watch them together now. We think that this little girl "adopted" Bailey as her little sister and loves to take care of Bailey when they're together. It's so precious!  

I've lost track of all the words she's saying and all the little personality traits that reveal themselves each day. She's such a fun, sweet little girl!  

The other side of the coin - yes, there is one - the tantrums, the fussing at the word "no", and so on. You know, normal 19-month old behaviors. So for those of our friends that think we're making it up because they haven't seen it in action yet, I'm sure it's coming to a dinner or play date near you soon. :-)

We love that Bailey's showing us the good, the bad and the ugly. It tells me she's comfortable around us. She's ready, willing, and able to push our buttons, to test the boundaries, to be a kid around her parents.  

She's got such a sweet spirit, as you can see in these pictures. She loves discovering new things and playing with whatever is around. One of the new things she's enjoying, much to my enjoyment, is golf. YES!

Here are some more pictures from the summer.

The zoo...

Our inflatable pool in the backyard...

and my favorite, golfing!

 She still has a very one-sided relationship with big sister Abby,

and has decided that spinning around with clothes on her head is one of her favorite things.

This skirt is the new "hotness" in her wardrobe. She absolutely loves it! If there was a first day of school for her this year, I'm sure this would've been the outfit of choice.

In other news, Jenny and I have begun the, "Sooooo, when do we begin the process for #2?" conversation. You'd think this conversation would just scare the crap out of us, me especially. Sure, we have no idea how we'd pay for it, we feel like we're finally figuring this whole "parenting one child" thing out, and we're just 8 months into our lives with Bailey. But, we're not done, and we don't want to be done. 

We can always argue that any time is not the "right" time. So, are we supposed to wait on adoption #2 until we're comfortable?  
How do I reconcile this justification of comfort with the reality of the calling we feel we have on our lives and all the children in orphanages around the world that don't have families and don't experience the love and care they crave, need and deserve. Who am I to say "not yet" because I want to let all of my first world problems cloud my perspective and my priorities.  Maybe we're being challenged to sacrifice our comforts and conveniences and get moving.  

All that to say - would you please pray with us and for us?  We don't want to be reckless but we don't want to sit on the sidelines either. We want to be obedient, as uncomfortable as that may be. Thanks for your prayers as we think and pray through all of these possibilities.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

On Becoming My Father

A new favorite picture
BFFs, can't you tell?!?

Congratulations universe, you win.

I'm sure you've got a list of all of those things your dad said when you were a kid that you swore you'd NEVER say when you were the parent.  I've got a list of those in my head from when I was a kid.  Don't get me wrong, my dad is the man, but until you're a parent, you always think you'll do it differently and never have these crazy things come out of your mouth.


Just since our little road trip, I'm catching myself saying "those things I thought I'd never say" more and more...

A few examples:
  • No running in the house - Bailey's walking phase lasted about 45 seconds, and has since turned into an all-out sprint.
  • Don't talk to your mother that way - I'm hoping it won't be until the teenage years when I need to pull this one one because of WHAT Bailey says. Right now, it's HOW she talks. It's never too early to teach respect, and that there's a decibel level that is appropriate, especially when addressing her mom.
  • Don't make me turn this car around - In our case on our road trip, it would have been, "Don't make me continue driving in the direction we're going because we're headed in the direction of home." Anywho, there is only so much time anyone can stand being in a car and that limit is reduced exponentially for a young child.  Bailey had had enough and was letting us know, and I had had enough of her letting us know. Although the words came out of my mouth, to date I have "turned the car around" as many times as my dad did. :-) But man, were his threats SERIOUS. Fear. Of. God.
In other news...
  • Bailey won't smile for pictures.  See:
  • Bailey hasn't begun potty training yet but she loves her potty. This is a common pre-bath ritual. It doesn't make sense to us either.
  • Bailey's hair is getting really long.  We need to start styling it or at least trying. I can't wait to share those stories. This could take her relationship with us (and by "us", I mean Jenny) to a whole new level. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Road trippin', Spaghetti, and Steve Urkel

A couple weeks ago, we set out on our first road trip with Bailey - it was a short one, just 3 nights away from home. We made our way up through the Black Hills of South Dakota, stopping to see the Crazy Horse memorial (what a sham!) and Mt. Rushmore (pretty cool to see in person). We spent the remainder of the trip visiting friends in Wyoming, including a nice day with the family that was with us in Kinshasa bringing home their little boy.

Bailey did great in the car - it was a lot of hours to be confined to her carseat. We've got all sorts of new songs and games with her as a result. And we learned that she can (and will) say "mama" just about every chance she gets. Maybe she's afraid of silence, I don't know. We don't have video, but it is reminiscent of this, just a whole lot cuter, and Jenny responds with much more patience and love (obviously! :-)):

116. While we're talking about comparisons, Bailey drinks her milk with such conviction and force, I can't help but think of Napoleon Dynamite...
117. Bailey is our prayer compass. Every night at dinner, she reaches for my hand and for Jenny's, and bows her head to pray. I don't know about you, but seeing your child do this, even if she has no clue what we're doing, is a great kick-in-the-pants reminder that we need to be very intentional about modeling to her what a life devoted to Christ looks like. Even at this early age, there is so much that she's absorbing about life and how we live ours.

118. #117 is also a reminder that Bailey has entered the "mimicking" stage and has begun to mimick our actions and repeat our words.  Gulp...

119. OK, just one more opportunity to show off - a couple nights ago, Bailey had one of her worst nights of sleep that I can remember.  Once 3am arrived, for whatever reason, Bailey was very unsettled.  We would get her back down, but not 15 minutes later she's up crying.  At the 4am shift, she didn't want milk. Nope, she wanted to read her children's Bible! A half-asleep reading of the Bible was not at the top of our priority list at 4am.  Another 5-letter word was the one and only priority - SLEEP.  Regardless, it just melted my heart to see her asking for these stories.  It is a prayer of ours that God will be very present in her life, in her heart, in her dreams, and I'm thankful that she's embracing these foundational stories.

120.  Watching our child eat spaghetti is one of the most joyful experiences ever!

121. Bailey seems to be fascinated by Jeeps, which is quite the coincidence (or is it?) given the way God used Jeeps to remind us to pray for Bailey during our waiting.

122. Many people ask us how we think the bonding/attachment are going. Six months in, I can confidently say that it has gone better than we could've ever imagined. Bailey seems to have really developed a strong bond with both of us and recognizes us as her mom and dad, her caretakers, her need-meeters. I can't point to one thing in particular, but a few realities have contributed - her age when we finally brought her home, the health scare shortly after coming home, and even the 10 days in near-isolation when in Kishasa.  I think our short period of hibernation has and will continue to pay dividends in our strengthening relationship with our daughter. That being said, we can't lessen our quality time with her and making it clear to her that we're her forever family.

Just chillin' at Costco
123. I'm sure I'm not the only parent to think this, but Bailey is so smart and she absorbs so much information so quickly!  She recognizes stores we go to, games we play once, and she's picking up more words each day.

124. Bailey's favorite "toys" these days: boxes, sunscreen, and Jenny's childhood STEVE URKEL doll. Yep, you read that right.