Wednesday, December 21, 2011

20 years ago today...

Happy anniversary, Sweetie! Thanks for a wonderful 20 years!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

One year ago today...

On November 15 of last year, we lost our little Junie.The woman who hit her with her mini-van did a slow drive-by after but she didn't have the courtesy to stop.

June was full of spunk and personality and we miss her. I miss my snuggler!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fall Colors in St. Paul

Just a few shots of the fall colors around St. Paul, MN:

Friday, September 02, 2011

A challenge faced by American parents adopting internationally

As far as challenges go, this one has been the most fun!

(From my "cartoon" blog White Noise.)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sad fact: It's easier to abort than to adopt

Everyone who knows us understands our passion for adopting. Whether they know all the details of the process or not, they realize it isn't easy. The funny thing is, we never hear outcries in the media over the length of time it takes to adopt. But try to ask a woman to wait an insignificantly short period of time before getting an abortion and all hell breaks loose.

Our friend Larry Truitt recently commented on this phenomenon on his blog:
When State laws are proposed requiring medical professionals to attempt to obtain various personal information from women upon receiving an abortion it is considered degrading. That information would include: the reason the woman sought the abortion, including the specific medical, social, and economic factors influencing the decision as well as whether the woman was using any form of birth control when she got pregnant and if so what type. This is viewed as degrading?

Advocates of abortion feel these questions are not necessary and the government does not need to know why each woman chose abortion. Women should have the right to choose, and their decision should not be questioned. While it is not required that the woman disclose this information to proceed with the abortion, they believe that asking these questions is an invasion of one's privacy.

If you want to adopt a baby in the United States, you must submit to a home study. Each adoption agencies sets their own guidelines used to conduct home studies. They must follow the general regulations of their State, but they have the freedom to develop their own application packet, policies, and procedures within those regulations. Prospective parents attend one or several group orientation sessions or a series of training classes before they complete an application.

The home study itself is a written report of the findings of the social worker who has met with the applicants on several occasions, both individually and together, usually at the social worker's office. At least one meeting will occur in the applicant's home. If there are other people living in the home, they also will be interviewed by the social worker.

On average the home study process takes three to six months to complete, but it can take longer through public agencies. The home study process includes: Personal and family background-including upbringing, siblings, key events, and what was learned from them, marriage and family relationships. What is your motivation to adopt the child and your expectations for the child? How will you bring the child into the family unit? What type of family environment will the child be subjected to? What is the physical and health of the applicants, their education, employment and finances, their health insurance and child care plans? References and criminal background clearances along with the social worker’s recommendation are needed before you are considered for an adoption of a child. Some individuals do not consider this a hardship, degrading or an invasion of privacy. It is easier to qualify to take the life of a child then to give a child a home, security, and the benefits of a family.
The cost to get a subsidized abortion is a few hundred dollars. The cost to adopt? Anywhere from a few thousand dollars into the tens of thousands.

I am deeply saddened whenever I am reminded of how our culture celebrates death. Nothing seems to drive that home more than the fact that a woman choosing to murder her unborn child can have it done within 48 hours, while a woman choosing to adopt a child is left waiting years to see it through.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Typical "Non-Only Child" Family in China?

What better way to make China's one-child policy more appealing than to show how unpleasant life is for the "typical" multi-child family?

Rather bleak pictures. Here's the accompanying article from China Daily:
Fifty one year-old Sun Yuanhua and his wife and kids pose for a picture in Woyang county, Bozhou, East China's Anhui province, July 27, 2011. Sun's wife is 32 and intelligently challenged. Their five kids are aged from 5 to 11. As a result, Sun isn't able to work outside the village and leave them behind.

Sun is the only bread winner of the family. He makes money from salvaging and selling rubbish (or discarded material) and selling things planted on the family's 3 mu (half an acre) of land.

Three of them receive government minimum living subsidy. The annual total income for the family of seven is no more than 5,000 yuan ($776).

The family's property consists of two shabby brick houses, a room full of rubbish and a tricycle Sun uses to collect rubbish. All five kids sleep on the rubbish, do their reading on desks made of planks and wear salvaged clothes.

"I feel most sorry for my kids," Sun said, "I was too traditional back then, believing more kids means prosperity for the family, and the more kids there were, the better life would be. I'm 51 now, and can hardly do any work a few years later. The kids will still be at school by then, and life will be harder."

According to Sun Wei, an official of the village, village officials went to Sun's house to advocate the family-planning policy when he was married in 1999, but Sun managed to have five kids in seven years by "fighting guerrilla war", a joking Chinese term used to express the fact that a couple hide from family-planning inspections and give birth to two or more children.
The message is quite clear: "This is what will happen if you have more than one child!"

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Happy Gotcha Day, Olivia!

It's hard to believe it's been two years since we first met that scared, crying little baby. We love you, Olivia!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Homemade Soccer Board Game

This week we did a little woodworking project for homeschool. A scrap board was used for the base, and we made a quick trip to Home Depot for the edging. Finishing nails were used for the "players," along with an old, wooden checker for the "ball."

I was inspired after seeing this:

Coin Soccer from ZBalge on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Touching note from Philippe

We've been stressing the importance of taking responsibility and owning up to one's mistakes. Philippe gave us this note this afternoon:

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Storm Clouds

Dawn took the following picture from our front steps. There were a couple of severe storms to our southwest and northwest. Thankfully the hail and tornadoes missed us!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Dancing in the Kitchen

In a house with three kids, spontaneous dance recitals are a common thing...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Remembering Granny

(My grandmother, known affectionately to all of us as Granny, passed away early Saturday morning at the age of 90. Her funeral was today. I wrote this in her memory.)

I have so many fond memories of Granny that it's hard to know where to begin. When we lived in Fort Smith, Arkansas, I always looked forward to those long car trips to Papaw and Granny's house in Picayune. As soon as we climbed out of the car we were greeted with huge smiles and even bigger hugs. And, walking through the door, we could always tell there was something good cooking.

Yes, it is impossible to remember Granny without thinking of food. My personal favorite was her biscuits, but her butter beans were a close second. From the wonderful aromas that always seemed to hang in the air to the familiar clang of cast iron skillets, her house was the epitome of Southern hospitality.

The cousins were usually there as well, which meant we kids would be getting little sleep. One of my fondest memories was staying up late watching Papaw's silent home movies. Who needed popcorn? Granny always made enough fried okra to feed an army.

But more than what she did, I will remember who she was. Granny was a calm, gentle, tenderhearted lady with a subtle smile who was always quick with a witty remark. She took life in stride, and never seemed to let anything get her down. Through good times and bad, I will always remember that resilience. Most of all, she passed those qualities on to my mother, and for that I am eternally grateful.

It is never easy to lose someone you love, but with every heartache comes a reminder of the hope that lies ahead. We know that right now she is no longer suffering. Every hardship she has had to endure in this mortal realm has given way to eternal peace and happiness in the presence of God.

That, my friends, is the hope all of us share as believers in Christ. Those of us left behind can't even begin to ponder the joys that await us beyond the grave, but we do know that it will be well worth the wait. And if you think being greeted by adoring grandparents at the end of a road trip is exciting, just imagine what Granny must be feeling, finishing her 90-year journey through life to be welcomed into the loving arms of our Lord and Savior!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Christian aid worker held in Haitian prison without charge since October

When reading this, keep in mind that this is the government we had been working with for over two years when we were trying to get our kids home. From The Awl:
"I am amazed that I could spend four months in prison with no charge and the embassy does nothing," said Danny Pye. "It's just weird." But so far, Pye is lucky. He's only had malaria, several bouts of gastroenteritis and some kind of fungal infection—but not cholera. Many of the other 20-odd men that share his small room have not been as lucky.

Pye, an American, has been in prison in Jacmel since Oct. 13, 2010. He has not been charged with any crime. The only people who seem to know this are a few friends in Haiti, the country's Ministry of Justice, newly elected Haitian senator (and former Jacmel mayor) Edo Zenny, the judge that refuses to sign his release, the NGOs with which he's been affiliated, his wife, Leann, the 22 Haitian children whose only home is the orphanage that he and his wife built—and the U.S. Embassy.
Read the full story here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

On Parenting...


Friday, February 04, 2011

One Year Ago Today...

Philippe came home!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Happy Groundhog Day!

According to Philippe's art project, the groundhog saw his shadow.
I guess that means six more weeks of winter.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

In case you missed it...

Here is our interview with WCCO TV that aired last night.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

One Year Ago Today...

In some ways it feels like forever, and in others it seems like a second, but it was one year ago today that our lives changed forever. We are so grateful that our big kids survived the earthquake and were able to come home. I am feeling strange today, though. I can't describe it, but the best words are how my friend Beth described it when we met Olivia: joy and sadness colliding. So grateful our kids are home, but so sad that their homeland is still in such ruins. So sad that so many people are living on the streets, that so many kids don't have a mom and dad to tuck them in at night. We have friends on their way to Haiti right now to meet their daughter, and I am excited for them. We pray for more to adopt. We pray for Haiti. For change. Improvements. For people to know the hope and peace that faith in Christ can bring. For those of us with so much to remember and appreciate what we have.

The kids would like to share some things about that day. When the quake hit, they didn't even know what was happening. They didn't know the word earthquake in English or Creole until after it happened. They didn't know why the ground was shaking. Patricia was really scared and was crying. Philippe says he doesn't remember how he felt. They were inside and then ran downstairs to help get the babies out of the building. They only ate two times a day after the earthquake and didn't have much water. Philippe said he knows that they had water at the orphanage, but that other people didn't have water. Philippe said that some of the kids were crying and saying that they wished they were in America.

Patricia says that she would like to go back to Haiti and help people there some day, and she also would like to see God bless Haiti. Her prayer is that more people would help Haiti. If you know of any groups traveling to Haiti or another country that would benefit, please let us know and we can send you shoes to take along. It isn't much, but we are happy that we can give back in this way, and we appreciate all the shoe donations enabling us to do this. Please look for the Flip Flop Fleet on Facebook, and help spread the word about our family ministry.
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