We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. ~Isaiah 64:8

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Transracial adoption and the Christian family

My blogger friend at Two Square Meals pointed me to this fantastic article on adoption from Touchstone Magazine's blog. Here's a little snippet:

I'm not surprised that a group of secular social workers believe racial identity is more important than familial love. The Scripture tells us we always, if left to ourselves, want to categorize ourselves "according to the flesh." Whether it is the Athenians clinging to their myth of superior origins or Judaizers insisting on circumcision or Peter refusing to eat with pig-devouring Gentiles, we love to see ourselves first and foremost in fleshly categories -- because it keeps us from seeing ourselves in Christ.

The gospel, though, drives us away from our identity in the flesh, and toward a new identity, indeed a new family, defined by the Spirit. This new family solidarity is much less visibly obvious; it's not based on marks in the flesh or skin color or carefully kept genealogies. It's based on a Spirit that blows invisibly where he wills, showing up in less visible characteristics such as peace, joy, love, righteousness, gentleness, kindness, self-control.

That's why my heart is broken about the transracial adoption debate. It's not just because some white kids could miss out on some godly black parents, or vice-versa. It's because we're, in part, to blame.

The family, after all, is constructed around another, deeper reality. It points to the church -- that household of God in which Jesus is the firstborn among many brothers. I wonder what kind of witness we could have in this kind of racially polarized culture if our churches demonstrated the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace?

Read the whole thing here.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Teaching kids about Anglicanism

I had an email from a nice lady this weekend asking about a curriculum for Anglican homeschoolers, specifically a curriculum to teach about our faith. Well, unfortunately, other than Sunday School curricula (which aren't a bad solution), there really isn't anything like that geared toward home education. However, there are some good books which you could use to create your own curriculum.

Here are some I use:


One of my favorite resources. This is based on the Book of Common Prayer, but set up for family usage. Gives some good guidance for parents and nice prayers for children.



Another great resource by Anne E Kitch. This is a nice activity and coloring book. It covers Sunday Worship, the Church Year, People and Worship, We Worship with Our Senses. You'll want one for each child as these are consumable.


This is a nice picture book with a double-page spread for each season of the Church Year and special celebration days.


By the same author as above (and with the same cute mouse characters), this walks kids through the church service with explanations in simple language for all portions of the service.


This book takes the Rite II Holy Eucharist from the Book of Common Prayer (each style, too - Prayer A, B, C, and D) and pairs it with thorough, but easy to understand explanations. This book goes a little deeper than the one above and is from an Anglican (the previous one is Presbyterian) author. I really like this little book.


Here's a real gem! This book teaches spiritual truths to go along with the Church Year. Each week in the Church Year a new Christian symbol is presented and paired with an object lesson. The lesson also includes a teaching objective, suggested bible texts, verse to learn, children's message, prayer, suggested music, and an activity. At the beginning of each Season, a nice discussion of the season is given including: seasonal colors, themes, explanation of the season. The book also comes with a CD-ROM that has the symbol images for you to print out.

I think you could easily take these books and lay out a curriculum for your kids covering: Creeds and Prayers, Seasons, Christian Symbolism, Basic Doctrine and the Church Service. You might want to add in important Christians (Church Fathers, Saints, etc). Those would be easy to incorporate on their remembrance days.

What books do you use with your kids? What other things would you cover in an Anglican curriculum?

This post is part of the weekly Carnival of Homeschooling currently hosted by Jacque at "Walking Therein". Want to learn more about the carnival? See my sidebar for the link.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Adoption Language - what and why?

The words we use convey to others many ideas - some intended and some not. In discussing adoption with our children, friends, and families, it is important to think about the words we use. Some words convey a sense of otherness to adopted children, while other words change can convey inclusion and acceptance. Of course, you want to use language that supports the adoptive family. And really, using the right vocabulary, can acutally change people's impressions about adoption!

Here's a quick tutorial of common adoption language:

Use BIRTH OR BIOLOGICAL parent instead of REAL OR NATURAL parent. Parents who have adopted their children are just as real and natural as those who have give birth.

Use BIRTH OR BIOLOGICAL child instead of REAL OR OWN child. Children are their parents' own whether part of the family by birth or adoption.

Use WAS adopted rather than IS adopted. Once a child has been adopted into a family, it is over and done with.

You can read further about adoption language here and here, if you are interested in learning more.

Adoption Language - what and why?

The words we use convey to others many ideas - some intended and some not. In discussing adoption with our children, friends, and families, it is important to think about the words we use. Some words convey a sense of otherness to adopted children, while other words change can convey inclusion and acceptance. Of course, you want to use language that supports the adoptive family. And really, using the right vocabulary, can acutally change people's impressions about adoption!

Here's a quick tutorial of common adoption language:

Use BIRTH OR BIOLOGICAL parent instead of REAL OR NATURAL parent. Parents who have adopted their children are just as real and natural as those who have give birth.

Use BIRTH OR BIOLOGICAL child instead of REAL OR OWN child. Children are their parents' own whether part of the family by birth or adoption.

Use WAS adopted rather than IS adopted. Once a child has been adopted into a family, it is over and done with.

You can read further about adoption language here and here, if you are interested in learning more.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Seasonal cooking: Spring - Bok Choy

My local produce co-op is getting in gobs of bok choy! I picked up about 4 heads of it this weekend with NO IDEA what to do with it. After a quick internet search I found a few interesting recipes.

Tonight we had Bok Choy and Chicken Stir-Fry. It was REALLY good, so give this a try if you like chinese stirf-ry. Also, it was a breeze to fix (and QUICK).

Bok Choy and Chicken Stir-Fry
1 lg bok choy
1 1/2 lbs chicken tenderloins
3 -8 garlic cloves, minced (depending on your taste) - I didn't have any so, I used garlic powder
1/4 c dry cooking sherry
1/4 c soy sauce
2-3 T oil (I used sesame oil) (just enough to coat the bottom of the pan)

Wash bok choy very well. Slice across leaf at about 1/2 inch intervals. Discard the bottom when you get to the part with no green on it. (You could save that part for stock veggies.) Chop the chicken into 1/2 to 1 inch chunks. Heat oil in pan (wok or large fry pan with high sides) over medium heat. When oil is hot, add garlic. Saute for a few seconds, then add chicken. Saute until slightly browned all over (no pink showing on the outside.) Add bok choy and stir-fry just until wilted. Add soy sauce and sherry. Cover and cook until chicken is done. Serve over steamed white rice.


Here are some more recipes I plan to try this week with the rest of my Bok Choy:

Broccoli & Bok Choy Salad
2 pkgs ramen noddles (chicken-flavor), crushed
1 head broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 head bok choy, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 green onions, chopped
1 C sunflower seeds (shelled)
1/2 C red wine vinegar
1/2 C olive oil
1/2 C granulated white sugar
1 T soy sauce

In a large salad bowl, combine broccoli, bok choy, crushed noodles, and green onions. In seperate bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, vinegar, soy sauce and chicken soup seasoning mixes. Pour dressing over salad and toss to evenly coat. Sprinkle sunflower seeds on top. Toss salad to mix thoroughly. Refrigerate 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving.


Sesame Salmon Fillets and Bok Choy
1 c sesame seeds
1 T ginger root, grated
1 T cracked black peppercorns
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 1/2 lbs of filleted salmon
1 T vegetable oil
4 C thinly sliced bok choy
1/2 sweet red pepper, diced
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

In a shallow dish, combine sesame seeds, grated ginger, peppercorns, and salt. In another dish, lightly beat egg. Dip each salmon fillet into egg, letting excess drip off. Gently press into sesame mixture, turning to coat. In large nonstick skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium high heat; cook salmon, turning once, for 4-8 minutes until golden. Transfer to plate. Wipe out skillet. Add bok choy, red pepper, vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil to pan; cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes or until bok choy is wilted. Arrange salmon over bok choy; cover and cook for 3- 4 minutes or util fish flakes easily when tested with fork.

I'll probably get more bok choy in my next batch of produce, so any other recipes or uses you might recommend?

Art Resource: Inspiring Impressionism

Left: Mrs. Duffee Seated on a Striped Sofa, Reading, 1876, Mary Cassatt.
Right: A Young Girl Reading, about 1776, Jean-Honoré Fragonard.

The Denver Art Museum has recently extended the hours during the last two weeks of a popular exhibit, "Inspiring Impressionism". This exhibit examines how the Impressionist artists were inspired and influenced by the "Old Masters" of previous generations:



Even the most revolutionary artistic movements are grounded in older traditions. Although the Impressionists’ work seemed a daring rejection of what came before, they did find inspiration in artists from the Renaissance to the eighteenth century. Some revered those Old Masters, some rejected the traditions of the past, and others took their lessons and re-invented them to reflect modern life.



Not near Denver? Me neither, but I was excited to see that they have:


Are you near Denver? You can still get tickets to the show, aren't you lucky! If you go, come back and tell me how it was. (If you do live there, you might be interested in checking out the "Learn and Play" link! They have some great tours offered for teachers and families.)

Enjoy!

This post is part of the Carnival of Homeschooling at Po Moyemu-In My Opinion - check it out!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

WFMW: Kids Visual Schedule

On Monday, I blogged about getting a summer routine in place. One of the ideas I came across was a "visual schedule". These schedules are often recommended for kids who have Autism, but I think they work well for any family with young kids (and not so young).

Well, I went ahead and made one for our family and it worked really well!

Here's a picture:













And one up close:













And here it is in use:



I found the images in Microsoft's clip art and dropped them into a Word document. I just printed and folded the pages in half. Finally, I taped them all together and up in a central location (our kitchen pantry door - we are in the kitchen ALL DAY).

You'll notice the orange stickies - these I added to highlight extra events for today only (Ballet and a meeting I had). I also decided to cover each image with a yellow stickie as we passed that event, so that we could easily see where we were in the day. I'll reuse those stickies until they loose their stick.

I could have done this much fancier and "smarter", but I just wanted to get on with using it. If it continues to work so well, I'll make a bit more permanent one (laminated and maybe with some other way to mark our place in the day).

A Visual Schedule - it works for me!

Check out the other "Works For Me Wednesday" tips at Rocks in My Dryer.

Monday, May 12, 2008

5-steps for establishing a summer routine

Summer is just around the corner. We've had spring fever BAD and have gotten way off our routine. So, I'm kind of starting fresh with a summer routine. Here are my ideas...

1) Decide on the big rocks of our daily life. Plan for these and let them be the "anchors" of our day.
Some examples are: regular meal times, planned snack time, chore time, learning time, play time, read or rest time. Pay attention to the flow of these various "anchors". Try to plan for good variety of structured vs. unstructured and active vs. passive.

Anything I'm missing here? What would you add/drop?

2) Provide some visual cues for the expected flow of our day.
If your kids are pre-readers or highly visual (verses verbal), make a picture chart. Find or draw simple pictures of each of the daily "anchors". These also help with #4 - transitions.

Help for Kids' Speech offers suggestions for visual ways to cue children in to expectations for the daily routine. The article mentions the website Do2Learn which offers various picture cards that can be accessed for free. There are loads of other resources in their subscriber areas, too.

Another idea comes from Family Fun: a doorknob daily reminder. You could use this to remind kids of special events or "themes" for each day. (Park Day, Errand Day, Class Day, etc.)

Any ideas for other wasy to use visual cues? Do you have a resource I might try?

3) Set distinct moods or tones for certain types of activities or times of day.
Quick moodsetters are music and light - moodsetting will also help with #4 - transitions. For example, if you want to get your kids up and going (maybe for chore time or because you are going out for a playdate) make sure the house is bright and try turning on some cheerful or exciting music. In the evening when it is time to wind down, lower the lights in the house and turn on some quieter music.

Another important aspect of moodsetting is tone of voice. Pay attention to the tone you set, too. I read somewhere that parentss should be the thermostat not the thermometer of their home (a thermostat sets the temperature; a thermometer just reacts to it).

Collect some CDs that are particularly energetic or quiet or whatever you need and keep those handy. Or do the 80's thing and make a mix-tape! :) "Mom's Quiet Down Music" or "Mom's Get Up and MOVE Music".

Got some favorite CDs or songs for certain times of day?

4) Work on establishing good transition habits.
Some kids are very easy transitioners and other kids need a lot of help in this area. I have one of each and one inbetween. Here are some quick ideas:

  • Five Minute "Heads Up" - particularly useful when ending a fun, unstructured activity
  • Assessment and Feedback- After chore time is an excellent time to gather the kids and assess how well they did or to "go see" their work. In fact, a "go see" to point out what might have been overlooked followed up with some "good job" kudos is probably a good idea. If you use a chore system or reward chart, this might be the time to incorporate that.
  • What's Next? - Encourage the kids to complete what they are doing by telling them what is coming up next. "When you finish cleaning up the breakfast dishes, we are going to walk to the park." or "After lunch it will be time for Read or Rest."
  • Until tomorrow - Sometimes kids are satisfied to transition to a new activity when they know the one they are currently being asked to stop is one they will get to do again another day. "We'll come back to the park next week." or "You'll get to do playdough again tomorrow."
  • Consolidate- consolidate activities to reduce the number or transitions. (But don't go so far as to spend hours doing the same thing - like chores!) An example might be cleaning up from breakfast and moving right into chore time instead of letting them have playtime after breakfast and chore time later in the morning.

What are some ways you help your kids transition to the next activity?

5) Make it a team effort.

Sit down together and go over the daily routine and your expectations. Talk about the fun stuff you all want to have time for this summer and how your daily routine is going to help you have time for the fun stuff.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Opportunity costs

I officially moved out of my corporate office this week. Well, cube is more accurate – after 19 years in my current profession, I’ve never had a workspace with a door. It was a strange sensation, this move, because my primary office will be at home now. While I have worked a couple days a week from home for the last couple of years, there is a different level of commitment, a decisiveness, associated with this action. Oddly, it felt like forsaking all other potential mates when I knew that Kerry was “the one” for me fairly early in our dating relationship. There was a sense of leaving something behind, thinking I might miss something, but knowing, nonetheless, the chosen path was far superior.

You may be asking yourself, “So how does this relate to adoption?” The parallel may not be immediately evident. After the birth of our first child, we officially became a family, instead of a couple. This was something for which we yearned and happily embraced. Adjustments, some anticipated, and some not, were required. No longer could we stay up until 2 a.m. and expect to sleep late, uninterrupted, to recover! Spontaneity became much rarer. Romantic midnight walks were replaced by midnight walks around the house to comfort a needy baby.

Each new child brought new adjustments. But more than that, with each child, we became a different family entirely. This may be something you know intuitively, without ever thinking about it. The family child #2 knew became different when child #3 came along. The individuals in the family, the dynamics of the family, the “operation” of the family, etc, became different as the family grew.

Having waited and yearned for a fourth child for almost 4 years, one would assume we would be fully prepared for #4. However, I think it’s a very healthy and necessary step, consciously and deliberately, to surrender that which is familiar and comfortable (in this case, the present familial environment), and potential opportunities (things available via the status quo) when making important decisions. In economic/financial terms, we must weigh the “opportunity costs” (what we sacrifice) when we choose one thing over another. Just as I decided to forsake my familiar office environment when I chose to work from home, choosing to adopt a child means sacrificing the family environment we know and enjoy now. Each family member should do this in their own way and time.

Slowly, I am beginning to understand what child #4, and particularly the special needs of an adopted child, will mean to parents and children alike. I already know some of the blessings that will come, but only time will tell the ultimate impact this individual, whom the Lord has chosen for our family, will have on us. I’m ready to embrace this change, to give up the familiar and other opportunities, because I know this is what the Lord wants for us. I am filled with joyful expectation, and a sense of wonder of being a part of His larger plan, as we wait to welcome the newest member of our family, and all the delights and challenges this encompasses.

And, by the way, now I finally have an office…with a door.

Come Holy Spirit!

From a quilt by Linda Schmidt.

Today is not only Mother's Day, it is Pentecost!

Yesterday, a friend of mine (who doesn't go to a liturgical church) asked me, "What is Pentecost?" She'd never heard of it. Wow, never heard of the day of Pentecost? When the Church was given the gift of the Holy Spirit? (Another reason I enjoy the liturgical church - celebrating the Church Year, not just the secular year.)

Well, I've not had my brain together enough to plan a Pentecost celebration for our family, but I'm going to try to pull a few things together today:

- I have put out red candles and taken down my Easter banners and decorations. (Yes, we left them up for ALL of Easter season.)
- I'll wear red today (representing the "tongues of fire").
- I'll read the "Pentecost" page from Come Worship With Me: A Journey Through the Church Year (Mouse Books)

Want to celebrate Pentecost with your kids? Here are some links:
A great website with resources for all the liturgical seasons and some secular ones, too.
Some kid-friendly history about Pentecost and a few good craft ideas.
Celebrate the Church's Birthday!

And for you:
A ton of theological resources.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Bastard of Istanbul - book review

Last weekend I finished reading The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak. I'm no literary critic, so I'll just share with you my impressions.

This book starts right off with a bang. One of the central figures is in a situation where she must make a life-altering decision. (From the title, perhaps you can guess - but I'm not giving it away!) The rest of the plot flows on from here - like a river flowing from a spring. Other turning points occur along the way, but they are much more subtle until the very end of the book. These two major events (one at the beginning and one at the end) become as book ends to the tale. In between those two bookends, the author draws us into two seperate but connected families: the Kazancis and the Tchakhmakhchians, one Turkish and one Armenian-American (from the Diaspora).

The main characters are the two youngest members of these families, both daughters. They meet when the Armenian-American daughter travels to visit her Turkish stepfamily in Istanbul. While very different, these two young women come to understand each other and provide a glimpse of an unrealized dream: peaceful relations between Turks and Armenians.

Toward the end of the book, I felt the need for some confrontation that might lead to a final resolution to either destroy or cement the relationship between the Turkish and Armenian family. While this didn't happen, the two daughters did demonstrate how future generations might come to live with each other through shared trials and triumphs and the realization that they share more than they might realize.

I recommend this book for anyone who is just learning about the Turkish-Armenian conflict. It certainly doesn't go deep enough, but helps one begin to have an understanding of the their entwined history.

The author has a gift for descriptions of her character's psychological and emotional states. She also has a gift for all sorts of other descriptions - especially interior spaces and the mouth-watering food! The cultures are fascinating and the characters interesting. You will see, feel, hear, smell, taste as you read this book.

Some books I can't put down because the author's writing leaves me feeling unsettled until I've finished the whole book...but this book I could read a chapter at a time and feel I'd had a good read. Each chapter was like a delightful meal leaving me not too full (that I didn't want more), but not needing to consume more to feel satisfied. My mind was intrigued and my senses delighted.

A couple warnings: 1) there is one character who successfully talks with an evil and good "jinn" to discern secret events and 2) one of the themes discussed in the book is incest (which I found unnecessary - while it did provide the ending "book end", I wish the author had found a different way to wrap up this story).

If you've read the book, I'd love to hear your thoughts!



You can find more book reviews at Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Time to start our summer routine

The past couple of weeks we've really let the household routine slide and my kids are starting to get massively crabby because of it (How could I forget Habit #1?). What can I say, it's the end of the school year, we all have Spring Fever, and the adoption home study has kept us hopping.

My middle son is especially sensitive to having a lack of structure to his day and after a particularly nasty explosion today, I vented to hubby, "What is wrong with him?" (I knew the answer, but had to hear someone else say it.) "He needs structure, Kerry."

Yup, we all do.

Some of us enjoy non-structure to a degree and can get along fine without it for a time, but then it wears on us. I'm that way. That middle boy tends to be our household barometer - if he's feeling out of sorts; our home is out of sorts. His outburst today tells me it is way past time to get us back into a routine.

A while ago (like months) I posted about Rhythm, Reverence and Time. These are concepts around which I really want to shape my children's (and my) days. (Unfortunately, I've been slacking severly in all three of these areas. ) I'm going to start with focusing on Rhythm - particularly the rhythm of everyday life in our home.

The first thing I need to do is determine a reasonable daily routine. Then I will look at ways to set moods for certain activities and times of day. And finally I'll examine different ways to ease transitions during our day. I'll share my thoughts and plans, but I would also really appreciate your feedback on all of this - so please share you ideas, questions, resources, etc!

Friday Heart of the Matter Meme : The Way We Socialize

Time again for the Friday Meme at Heart of the Matter. This week's topic of conversation is "The Way We Socialize".

Yuck. The "S"-word. Homeschoolers hate to be asked that dreaded question...not because we are afraid to answer it, but because it is a horse beaten quite to death. (Before you ask the question, do a google search on "socialize homeschool" and see what comes up. )

The most important thing a homeschooler wants you to know is that our idea of "SOCIALIZATION" is probably different from yours while our goals are probably the same: kids who can get along with others and who are socially-adept (ie. can have a conversation).

If our goals are the same, how can we have different ideas about the concept? Well, for one, I don't think the best way to help a child become socially-adept is to confine him to a group of same-age peers for 6 or more hours a day where he actually is instructed not to interact with those peers for the majority of that time.

So, how do we socialize?

We go on frequent field trips - to parks, plays, farms, museums where we learn that different environments means different behavior.

They play with a group of neighborhood kids that range in age from 3 to 13 - in my backyard, happily, almost daily. They learn: give and take, dealing with conflict, watching out for and helping those younger than themselves, being responsible leaders and how to have fun without having to be entertained.

They join me on all sorts of errands: stores, grocery, post office, doctor's office, auto repair shop, DMV, and lots more. They learn about interacting with strangers and how to take care of household business.

My kids, and most homeschoolers, are learning to be socially-adept by: being with a wide range of ages of children and by observing my interactions with other adults in the community (and interacting with those adults themselves) on a regulary basis.

and that is the way we socialize. :)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Bliss in a dish - Eggplant Dip

Ok - totally "Yum-O" as Rachel Ray would say (I really hate it when she says that, but this truly is "Yum-O"). Tastes like SUMMER!

I was looking for a Baba Ganouj recipe, but realized I needed tahini to make it and don't have that one hand. Instead I made a simpler "Eggplant Dip" - very similar and so delicious! On top of that it is REALLY quick.

1 large eggplant
1/4 c or olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed (I just garlic powder cause it was on hand)
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Score the eggplant and bake in mocrowave for 12 minutes. Cool the eggplant until you can easily handle it. Split it open carefully and scoop out the flesh into a food processor. Add oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Process until creamy. Scoop mixture into a bowl and drizzle a little more oil on top if you wish (a little parsley on top would make a nice garnish).

Serve with toasted pita pieces. lavash or other flat bread.

This recipe is posted as part of Rocks in My Dryer's "Works For Me Wednesday: 5 Ingredients or Less Edition"

Why International Adoption?

Whoa. Big question. But it is one we've begun to hear, if not directly asked, in comments and other questions. It is a good question, but a hard one. Of course the reasons we chose an international adoption are personal and each family's decision will be different.

Sometimes I hesitate to broach this question, for fear of others picking apart our choices, but we feel confident that we've make a sound decision for our family.

So, here you go, Why We Chose International Adoption:

1) Healthy newborns do not become waiting children in the US, unlike other countries where healthy children wait and wait to have a family. Even children with minor special needs (and not so minor special needs) are adopted quickly (often from birth) in the US. In other countries, special needs children who cannot be cared for by their parents are relinquished to state care and hopefully adoption (although many spend years and years in orphanages). There are waiting children in this country through the foster care system, but we do not feel our family is called to that process for a number of reasons. Particularly, we are concerned that the possibility of disruption in a "foster to adopt" situation would be extraordinarily hard on our other children. (Disruption in adoption terms is when an adoption situation is halted and the child returns to the system or birth parent.)

2) We really want another daughter and we would not be able to choose gender in a domestic newborn adoption. This is a fairly minor reason, but it is still a reason. Since the children are already born when being matched to families in an international adoption, their gender can be a criteria for matching.

3) While we wish international adoptions could be semi-open (allowing non-identifying contact between birth mother and our family), we prefer not to have a fully-open adoption. With older biological children this could cause confusion.

4) Waiting for a birth mother to choose us could be difficult and heart-breaking for us and our children. As would the waiting period after the child is placed with us (and disruption at this point would be devastating to them).

5) We don't feel the need to have a newborn. Many first-time adoptive parents (meaning this is their first child) greatly desire to experience the newborn days. While I would love for my daughter to be with me in her newborn days, I don't have that "need" to do newborn stuff all over again. We will be happy to adopt an older baby or toddler. Many internationally adopted children come home well past their infancies.

6) Becoming a mixed-culture or mixed-race family is challenge we look forward to. We don't see it as negative, we see it as a positive. We are enjoying beginning to learn about Armenian culture and we are excited about passing that culture on to our daughter.

7) Birth mothers, understandably, seem to feel that families with no children are more in need than families with children. Because we already have three birth children, our family might have a very long wait until a birth mother selects us. We don't want to have an even larger gap in our kids' ages, so the sooner we can complete the adoption the better. Our international adoption will most likely be completed in about a year (from dossier submission).

8) The Lord has very clearly led us to this decision and confirmed and reconfirmed that decision.

The question, "Why international adoption" or "Why not domestic adoption" seems to come up because people are genuinely concerned about the problems with international adoption in some countries, but as the spotlight has gotten brighter so has the scrutiny on those problems. People on all sides of the adoption triad are paying more attention to ethics. Another concern is that there are children here in the US needing homes, and while that is true, the US foster system is not without its own faults.

The best we can do is choose a reputable agency with a high concern for ethics and pray for the Lord to lead us.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

THE Home Visit

Well, Friday afternoon we faced our first, slightly-nerve-inducing assessment and it was quite....anti-climactic. :) I know, I know, some of you all told me it would be "no big deal". But, trust me, if you've never done this, no matter how much you *know* it is "no big deal", you can't help having a little anxiety!

Yes, we cleaned and and we straightened. Of course, with three kids around 24-7, "clean and straight" is really relative. I tried not to go overboard. In fact, I even decided I wouldn't worry about removing the couple of toys that are currently residing on the foyer "tray moulding", which is visible from the upstairs hallway balcony.

Our Social Worker (SW) was very sweet and fun to talk with. She sat with us and shared with the kids a bit about what to expect right at first when their sister comes home. She also explained the orphanage experience a bit. She tried to engage them in conversation, however, they were awfully quiet! They did seem to perk up a bit when it came time to show her around the house. (Thank goodness!)

Her main objectives for the visit were: 1) to take down a description of the house (# of rooms, description of home, etc), 2) to share what to expect with the kids, 3) to assess the kids' comfort with the idea of adoption, and 4) to assess the baby's future sleeping arrangements.

We were done in about 20 minutes. Thank you for your prayers!

Tomorrow, Erik and I go to our first office visit (10:30). This will be a little bit more serious conversation, but I expect it to still be a friendly one. We'll talk about our marriage, our parenting, how we are preparing for a new child, and I don't know what all else. We'll be there for about an hour. We'd be very grateful if you'd pray for this meeting, too!