Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Adoption Vlog Part 1

Ken and I are often asked the same few questions, so I decided to answer the questions through a vlog.  I didn't voiceover, but added text below, summarizing what I've shared in ASL.

Summary:
Over the next few vlogs, I will share the steps in our adoption process so far, links, book suggestions, and resources.
Here are some of the questions I'll address in the next 4 or 5 vlogs:

  • Why adopt?
  • Why international adoption if there are kids who need homes in the USA?
  • How do I find deaf children who need a forever family?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Why does it take so long?
  • What's a homestudy? Is that when people come and look at your house to make sure it's fit for children?
  • If I want to adopt, what should be my first steps?
My goal is to share information, specifically to Deaf families considering adoption.  If you have a question not addressed here, please ask! There are other families out there with much more knowledge than I have, so I hope those people will comment and add to the discussion.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Update: Bullet-Point Style

I'm going to throw back to the 1990's Power Point and give an update bullet-point style.

Adoption:

  • We are sending off our I-800 paperwork to our agency by tomorrow.  This event was accompanied by a $720 fee we were not expecting, so have had to do a bit of juggling to get that on it's way.
  • We are sending a supplement 3 to CIS in order to reflect our new address.  Prayers are being sent up requesting that it doesn't delay our paperwork at all.
  • We have filled out all 5 visa applications and will begin processing those as soon as we get a few more travel details.
  • No recent updates on the boys.  My soul needs an update on them, but we've already received so much more than many adoptive families, so I'm truly grateful.  It's been 8 months since we first laid eyes on a photo of Tian and 4 months that we've known of Travis.  If all goes as planned, we should have them in our arms in 3 months.
  • We're thanking God for a possible grant opportunity.  We're also overwhelmingly thankful to our church family for making time to interview us and take the steps we needed to complete our grant application.  We have only been members of this church for a month and we know the pastors are already stretched thin, so it meant so much for the pastor over the new Deaf ministry to take time to sit and interview us.


House:

  • Yesterday, we were told by our agent that a family plans to make an offer today.  It's nearing 5pm and we haven't gotten word yet.  We've also heard this before, so have tried for the past 24 hours to balance excitement and cynicism.  I keep chanting that "my hope is in the Lord" to remind myself that my boys, my joy nor my sanity relies on what happens with this house.  
  • Friday, we took the price way down, even below what we paid for it 4 years ago.  Since we did well with the housing market in Las Vegas, we had some "wiggle room", but no more!  We're at the end of our wiggly rope and are praying this couple does, indeed, make an offer today.
Your comments on facebook mean so much to Ken, the kids and me.  We get more comments there than here on the blog (maybe because it's easier), but if you are able to leave a comment here, please do!  I'm asking because your kind words will be something we will share with the boys when we tell their adoption story.  I can't access old comments easily on facebook as I have no control over what they do with the content.  On this blog, however, your comments are saved and accessed easily as the story unfolds.  Either way, your prayers, comments and encouragement mean the world to us!

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Downsizing Adventures 1

We're coming up on our first full week in our new place.  We expected a lot of adjustment being in a smaller place and an apartment-type setting, but we're finding many more upsides than downsides.  Below is a list of things we've noticed our first week.

I'll start with what I miss or know I WILL miss:
-Our neighbors.  This has been the one thing that has made us tear up this week. (Ken and I, not the kids!)  The kids have the best friends there as well as adults who are such a great influence on the Brownies' lives.  We will stay connected with our Dickinson neighbors, but it won't be the same.

-Our own pool. We are going back to the Dickinson house almost daily and the kids swim when we are there.  Even though the community pool here is right out our door, I know we'll miss having our own private place to swim any time we want.

-The storage space I had in the school room.  Truly, that room was a blessing and a curse.  While we rarely did school in that room, I loved having a place to hide away all of our school books and supplies. The curse was that I accumulated a lot of unnecessary junk because I had a place to put it.  It's been nice to go through what I have and downsize our school items.

What's better so far?

-Cleaning is easier. I wiped down the kitchen and bathroom surfaces the other day and it took me about 5 minutes.  Going from 4 bathrooms (two of which were very large) to 2 bathrooms (we have a third, but it's downstairs with Ken's office) makes cleaning quick!

-Laundry is getting done.  In our other house, the laundry was downstairs, so we carried laundry up and down, to and from the bedrooms. I also had lots of places downstairs to "hide" a basket of clean laundry.  Often, I would do several loads and leave them downstairs until we went up for the night or even until the next day when we needed clean clothes.  Now, the laundry room is on the same floor and within a few steps of all bedrooms.  In addition to being close, I don't have a place to pile my laundry baskets, so the kids and I put away clean laundry immediately.

-Ken and I can hang out in the living room after putting the kids to bed.  We didn't do this before because our family room was so far away from the kids' bedrooms.  At night, we would put the kids to bed, then go in our room and get on our computers.  This is a small difference, but it's nice to be able to watch a movie, get some work done in the kitchen, or just sit on the couch and talk, but still be right here where we can manage the kids as they are going to sleep.  This will be major when the boys get home.

-Amenities with out the labor or cash.  We have a pool and outdoor fireplace right outside our door, playgrounds, sand volleyball, basketball court, pretty landscaping, a pond and trails.  We don't have to any of the work to maintain it.  Ahhh.

-Diversity.  We are loving that every day.  I like it for me, I like it for the kids, I like it for our boys.

There you have it! We have had no problems with noisy neighbors (we don't live above or below anyone) or bugs, two things I've heard can be issues in apartment communities.  I promise to be honest regarding the good, the bad and the ugly.

Our main goal here is to represent Christ well and to grow closer as a family.  This "trial" and adventure is knitting our family together.  I'm looking forward to settling into a schedule between now and June so we will be completely ready to welcome home our two sons/brothers.


From Matthew 6
 25“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
27“And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28“And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 
31“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32“For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
      34“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Good News

We have LOA for Xu! We will get it tomorrow, then send it back to our agency along with our I-800 documents.
My worries also lessened when Ken called our CIS agent and visited with him about our address change.
To top it off, I went to women's bible study, which reminded me where my help comes from and that God is with us every step of this journey. He deserves glory for the work He is doing.

Thanks for hanging in there with us.

(Blogged from my iPhone)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Morning Sickness

While moving into our new place in Coppell, we came across a time capsule we had put together when Hannah was born.  In it was a pregnancy journal I had kept while expecting Hannah.
Overall, I had a easy pregnancy.  My morning sickness was short-lived and very mild.  I had some pain in my hips during my third trimester, but it was minor just like my morning sickness.  My next two pregnancies were equally comfortable.

This adoption "paper pregnancy" is making up for my 3 easy pregnancies.  While I don't experience morning sickness, I'm right now nauseous with anxiety over what lies ahead.  The ups and downs, ins and outs of this process make me cry for joy one second, then cry in discouragement the next.  I'm trusting that this morning sickness will be quickly forgotten, just as it is in physical pregnancy.

First of all, as I reported in the wee hours of the morning, we got LOA, which is major, exciting news. When it arrived via FedEx today, we noticed only Tian's file.  CCAI had told us Friday that CCAA had printer troubles and couldn't print Xu's file at the moment.  Since we heard nothing else until yesterday when our agency let us know our LOA was headed to our door, we assumed (we should know better) that meant LOA for both boys.  It didn't.  When I called our agency, they said we should expect Xu's with the next batch of papers mailed from CCAA.  Who knows when that will be?  Not me. I could ask, but I know the answer...they can't answer.  They can't make promises for something of which they have no control.

Then I got a call from our agency expressing concern over our new address.  In all the busy-ness and emotion of deciding indeed to move, then packing up and moving within the span of 7 days, I didn't call to let our agency know we had moved this weekend.

Now they know and it's no big deal, but it can be a big deal if we move and CIS doesn't know.  Understandable, totally.  Once that was out of the way, the agency talked to me about the delay our change of address could put on our paperwork, thus our travel date.   We had truly believed, after hearing from our CIS agent, that it would not likely cause a delay.  That was the major reason for our decision to go ahead with the move.  But, again understandably, they can't promise anything other than a very long, up-to-11-week process of our supplement 3 (which is our change of address).

So, we almost scrapped the entire move until we heard that it likely wouldn't cause a 2-month delay.  Now we are faced again with "but it could cause a 2-month delay..no guarantees."

Will you pray with us and on behalf of us regarding our paperwork? That there will be no delays?  That God will provide the needed funds for the remainder of our adoption, whether that be through the sale of our Dickinson house or through other means?

I'm ready to get off the roller coaster.

Three Little Letters: L O A

Yes! LOA! Letter of Acceptance, also known as "Letter Seeking Confirmation of Adopter".  This is an official letter from CCAA (China Center for Adoption Affairs), one letter for each boy, stating that, based on our application, these are our boys we are agreeing to adopt.

Our agency, CCAI, informed us that they received our LOA from China and have overnighted it to us.  According to FedEx tracking, we will get it today before 3pm.  We sign it and send it right back.

This means it is most likely that we will travel in June!!  June, June, June.  Our trip will last over 20 days, so we will be in China in June and July, when we've heard it's stinkin' hot!  Fortunately, we live in Texas and moved here from 'Vegas, so I'm hoping the heat won't be too big a challenge.  Another positive is that we can pack lighter clothing.  Good thing since we're packing for seven!!

LOA also means an entire new mound of paperwork.  I-800 forms, travel waivers, affidavits, visas, and more agency paperwork.

Did I mentioned that we moved this weekend?  Mom and I spent all last week packing up our almost-3000 square-foot house.  Saturday, when Ken was home, we had movers come and move 90% of our stuff over to the new place.  Thanks to Ken, the movers, Mom and Dad, a couple of friends and even the Brownies, we got moved in Saturday and almost all the way unpacked by Sunday night.  Monday, we took a break so Ken could work and I could do school with the kids and catch up on laundry.  I still have quite a few odds and ends to put away or organize, especially our school items, but am truly unpacked.  All of our decor is still up at the Dickinson house.  After our necessities are in place here, I'll pack up the decor and have fun making this place "ours".

I'll have to blog later about our move over here.  (I'm typing this with a smile on my face.)  I cried quite a few times last week and our first night in our new place was just short of misery.  What a difference a day makes!  Joy DOES come in the morning.  Sunday night, we enjoyed a very restful, peaceful night in our new home.  It's time for me to go enjoy restful night #2.  We feel extremely comfortable here and are praying for our other house to sell...now.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Redemption After the Pit

I had been mulling over this blog for a while, then over the past few weeks, I've had the opportunity to visit with several friends about marriage.  Many couples are struggling right now.  My goal in sharing some of Ken's and my story will offer hope and give honor to God, the Redeemer.

Halfway through our marriage, Ken and I fell into a pit.
In that pit, we developed goals that have and continue to carry us through, by the grace of God. This pit, most would say, would destroy a marriage.

I have a picture of Ken and I in a deep, muddy pit, too deep for us to crawl out.  Tangled roots sticking out.  We dig our fingers into the mud and attempt to climb out, but it's no use.
  
God reaches down into the pit and pulls us out.  On the way up, we get scraped by tangled roots and covered with more mud.  Over the next year and half, God washed us completely clean and gave us a new start and renewed vision for our marriage.

Our goal became to not just "stay married", but stay married and love it.  Yes, we want to honor God, knowing it's his best plan for us.  But we also know just staying married and despising each other doesn't honor God.
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I [Christ] have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly." John 10:10

We had experienced the "stealing, killing and destroying" while going down the wrong path, so it made sense that turning around 180 (repentance) and following Christ in our marriage meant to stay married abundantly.

While in our "pit", we admitted that neither of us liked where we were, but we also agreed that we didn't want to just reconcile our marriage; we wanted to make it great.  One long-term goal in our marriage is to reach our empty nest years, giddy with excitement over the time we will get to spend together.  That means we can't neglect each other for the next 16 years.  It means we take a marriage class every year.  It means we go out on dates.  It means we get help and support when we need it.  It means we find common interests and set goals of things we'd like to do together.  It means I get to love Ken in new ways all the time.

Here are 5 things that God used to redeem our marriage and continue to make it better every year.  I would advise these (and do) to any couple seeking advice in a struggling marriage, or to couples in a rut in a good marriage.

1. The Church
Each following point was birthed from the church.  I'm referring here to our local family of believers, with whom we served, lived life and worshipped.  At the time, we were in Vegas and at Canyon Ridge Christian Church. It wasn't the church "machine" or the church building, but the people: elders, pastors and other members who came around to support us when we were caving.
By the way, they wouldn't have known we needed help if we didn't ask for it.  Your pastor isn't psychic.  Our church didn't just have intuition that we needed help.  We decided not to keep our mess in the dark.  We "outed" ourselves and admitted we needed help. 
 "Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." John 3:20; "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them." Ephesians 5:11

2. Marriage Mentors
Our church set us up with 2 different couples who were older than us to meet with us every few weeks, specifically to talk to us and walk us through marriage issues.  Now, Ken and I seek out people with strong marriages and have no problem asking for advice or support.   I must add that Ken and I both have parents who have modeled a strong marriage.  They also supported us and loved us through our best and worst.

3. Accountability Friendships
These were our closest friends who knew all our business!  In an accountability relationship, your friend knows your struggles and specifically asks you how it's going, how you've failed, and how you've overcome.  Find these trusted friendships; they keep you in the light.  There is no room for hiding secrets in the dark.  I would say accountability friendships are the most crucial relationships in a Christian's life.  They have been in ours.  I John 1:9

4. Professional Counseling
Our church set us up with some short-term professional Christian counseling.  (There are some nutsos out there, yes even Christian nutsos, so do your research and find someone good and well-recommended.)  After God pulled us out of the pit, our counselor took us by the shoulders, helped us get our bearings, and set us in the right direction.  In marriages that are suffering greatly, a third-party is critical for helping each spouse see his or her own issues.  The next-best thing (or perhaps THE best) is a 12-week course called "Dynamic Marriage", which leads to my next help...

5. Marriage Courses and Conferences
Dynamic Marriage, Radical Marriage, Love and Respect, Family Life Weekend to Remember, even Financial Peace University, which is truly a marriage class!  These are some of the marriage events and classes we have taken.  These have allowed us to connect with other couples who share our goals for a strong marriage. They equip us with tools we use to improve ourselves and our marriage, prevent certain problems, encourage, and prepare us for issues we will face down the road.

Lest you think I'm wearing rose-colored glasses, Ken and I don't prance around the house on tiptoe, sprinkling love dust everywhere.  We get stuck in ruts, on each other's nerves, focused on our own agendas, busy with the kids, work, and school.     But we have these tools in place to help us recognize when we get off track and to get back on to our goals.

I want Ken to look forward to coming home after work.  I want to treat him in a way that will make him proud he married me and not ever question his judgement to propose 15 years ago.   I cherish the little notes Ken leaves for me, sometimes in the funniest places.  I love getting butterflies when he's coming home after being gone on a business trip.  Why not set the standard high for our marriage?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

White House Poetry Jam

It's been an emotional week.  Aside from our own issues with real estate and adoption, we've suffered greatly with friends and family this week.  Marriages ending.  Others on the rocks.  Sick children, fighting to be well.  An 18 year-old son full of promise, now gone from the earth, leaving a precious grieving family, even in their praise and comfort that he is with God Himself.

I'm sure it was partly because of the week that this brought me to tears, but also because of the power with which this man, Joshua Bennett, delivers his message through this passionate poem.  He speaks beautifully about a regret.  I've been friends with many "Tamaras" heard her pain, too.  His poem is moving.  I hope it touches you like it did me. (captioned)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Same Yesterday, Today and Forever

Today has been a trial!  The past several months have been a trial, but today was just a day for crying.  We had several ups and lots of downs.  Ken and I are faced with some major decisions and are totally confused, at this point, as to what God wants us to do.

Some of the worries that have crept into my head today have been:

We've made some major mistakes along this journey.  I can name a few times Ken and I have made a decision without seeking you, God.  Have we screwed it up?


Through the historical account in scripture about Abraham, Sarah, their son Isaac, his wife Rebekah, and their twins, Esau and Jacob, God has shown me that He is the faithful One.  His faithfulness is not dependent on my wisdom or stupidity, even my rebellion at any given moment.  I can't do anything to mess up his plans, nor can I do anything to make myself worthy of his blessing.

God fulfilled his plans among this crew listed above who lied, connived, deceived, failed and thought they could make happen what God was not making happen. They had times of great faith and righteousness and are called "worthy" for it many times in scripture.  But they weren't perfect.  They messed up.  Christ is perfect.  God sees Christ's perfection in place of my mess.  Jesus IS the Stairway To Heaven. (Cue guitar)

God, we're going what we know you called us to in adopting Tian and Xu.  If we're going down a road you put us on, why isn't it easier?


During the lecture portion of tonight's bible study, Jennifer called our attention to the number of years Isaac and Rebekah had to wait before she was pregnant.  God had made a promise to Abraham to make his descendants many.  That promise had spilled over onto Isaac. Isaac's wife was sought fully with God's leading.  He and Rebekah had 20 long years to wonder, as Jennifer put it, "Why is nothing moving on this path you said you would take me on?"

Yes! I feel that!  The difference is with Isaac's life story, I know how it turns out.  I don't know how our story is going to turn out, but tonight God reminded me...again...of who He is!  He is faithful.  He will do this thing he started.  Since I know the ending to Isaac's story, I know the ending of mine.

These accounts come from Genesis 12-28.  It's a great read, even though parts of it look like an episode of Jerry Springer.  I would encourage those who have never read it before to do so, then find a way to study it with all the cross-references and cultural information.  If not, you'll miss seeing God and just see the mess.  I love God...I'm crazy about Him for showing me who he is amid the mess.  In spite of the mess.  In spite of myself.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Concerns & Excitement

This afternoon, I visited with someone from our agency who told me to expect our LOA (Letter of Approval) from China in the next week or two.  From that date, we can expect to travel 11 to 15 weeks later.  That puts us heading to China some time in June!  This is a very solid prediction at this point.  In just 4 months, Ken and I will be able to hold these boys in our very own arms!  I can't imagine it!

It only takes a few seconds of giddy excitement before anxiety creeps in.  The house hasn't sold.  It has to sell by the end of this month if we're going to have the cash we need to pay for the adoption.  (We are applying for an exciting adoption fundraiser/grant. I'll keep you posted!)

I have no idea what God is doing with the timing of our sell.  I'm daily fighting worry, frustration and a sense of entitlement.  God, isn't adopting Your brainchild?  You said yourself that caring for orphans is "pure undefiled religion."  We're trying to do this here.  Can't You help us out with selling the house?

While asking these questions, these excerpts from the account of Job quickly play in my head.  After a long, 37-chapter rant...er...discussion among Job and his buddies, The LORD speaks:

 Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:
 “Who is this that obscures my plans
   with words without knowledge?
Brace yourself like a man;
   I will question you,
   and you shall answer me.

  “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
   Tell me, if you understand.
 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
   Who stretched a measuring line across it?
 On what were its footings set,
   or who laid its cornerstone—
 while the morning stars sang together
   and all the angels shouted for joy?


 “Have you ever given orders to the morning,
   or shown the dawn its place,
that it might take the earth by the edges
   and shake the wicked out of it? 



 "Surely you know, for you were already born!
   You have lived so many years!



  "Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?
   Let him who accuses God answer him!

  Then Job answered the LORD:
  “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?
   I put my hand over my mouth.
 I spoke once, but I have no answer—
   twice, but I will say no more.”

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Deaf Kids & Language Development

Thanks to my twitter friend Adrean Clark, I was privileged to view this vlog by Barb DiGiovonni.  In the vlog, she summarizes a portion from a lecture presented by Gabrielle Jones and Rosemary Stifter(1), discussing, among other things, bilingualism of deaf students.  Watching the vlog and reading this article taught me so much and made me realize I have much more to learn regarding parenting and eventually homeschooling deaf kids.

Initially, it's important to look at how first, then second languages are learned.  I, as a hearing person, first became fluent in social English before even entering kindergarten.  Only then did I begin, little by little, learning how to navigate and use academic English.  When I began learning my second language (ASL), I didn't start out sitting in a college-level science class with a Deaf instructor.  I started learning conversationally, both in a classroom and social settings.

As I became more fluent in my second language (ASL), I was also developing more knowledge of my first language academically.  After a year or so of daily immersion in my second language, I felt comfortable moving from language to language and even "interpreting".  I could use and navigate ASL before I was truly fluent.  I also did not stop learning English during the process of learning ASL.  After a lifetime of English fluency and 15 years of fluency in ASL, I still learn more about both every day.

The basic structure of my learning looked like this:
Social first language-->Academic first language-->Social second language-->Academic second language

That structure did not stay in that format, though.  I was able to move back and forth among all four categories. Often, working in my second language helped me decode my first language more fully. (Having to interpret "o'r the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming" means you must first understand what the heck that all means.)

"The cultivating and mastery of academic ASL has been lacking in education programs for deaf students." --Barb DiGi (my interpretation of her ASL)  


Most Deaf students have been expected to go straight from their social first language to the academic level of their second language.
Social ASL-->Academic English

It should, instead, look like this:

Social ASL-->Academic ASL-->Social English-->Academic English

Under this model, Deaf students would be expected to present "ASL essays" in more formal or academic ASL.  View her vlog and corresponding slideshow for more information.


 "Academic ASL provides the 'scaffolding' for literacy in both ASL and
written English as well as comprehension of academic content and 'building' of academic
knowledge." --Berkowitz

Barb DiGiovvani says the ultimate goal is for a Deaf student to become proficient in both categories of both their first (ASL) and second (English) languages; able to interchange, move and build upon all language abilities.

Deaf kids are bilingual from the start.  While they develop and use ASL, they are still seeing written English everywhere from road signs to books, fingerspelling to TV captions.  While the first and second language-learning is simultaneous, it makes so much sense to keep the 4 main "steps" in mind.

Deaf students' language abilities are:
ASL: productive/receptive
English Literacy: reading/writing 
English Oracy: listening/lipreading/speaking

As DiGi says, students will be able to make sense of English (whether written or oral/aural) by using the knowledge they have in their first language (ASL).

This reminds me of a story my friend, Kim has shared.  She grew up oral, not signing until high school.  When she began attending Gallaudet, she said the world opened up for her, including a deeper understanding of English.  She had known the word "accomplish" for years. She could read it and speak it orally.  She got the gist of the word, but never fully understood the meaning until she saw a Deaf professor use the word in context, in ASL, during a lecture.

I witnessed the same type of thing first-hand while working as a tutor in college settings.  I remember a particular student in his 30s who had been educated orally and not allowed to sign at home.  He read English perfectly, word-for-word, both using speech and Signing Exact English, but could not comprehend much of what he read.  One word I remember in particular was "disagree".  He could say it, read it, and sign it, but didn't understand what it meant until we talked about in a social context in ASL.  It only took about 2 minutes for him to "get it".  He had been passed through the public school system, so no care whatsoever was given to his literacy abilities.

I'm excited to be learning so many new things about language development.  I've only ever considered it from the perspective of an interpreter, a tutor, or an ASL teacher, never as a parent (and teacher) of Deaf children.

It's clear I've only touched the tip of the iceberg and still have so much to learn.  I'm thankful there are so many knowledgeable professionals and parents out there willing to share their expertise in cyber space.

1. Jones and Stifter are with the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center. Lecture given at the Council for American Instructors  the Deaf National Conference.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Adoption Trip Prep: Take Kids or Not?

From the beginning of our adoption journey, Ken and I have known that we wanted to take the 3 Brownies with us to China.
The people who journey to China can be one of either parent, both parents, one parent and a grandparent, two parents and current children, or even both parents, children, in-laws, cousins and aunts. And a partridge in a pear tree.
That last group is strongly discouraged by our agency. It is encouraged that both parents go if at all possible. This allows the adopted child to immediately become a US citizen when they land on US soil.
We recently received a travel packet from our agency in which they outlined the pros and cons of taking people along for your adoption trip.
As for children, the pro is listed as "They get to be a part of the first days with their new brothers and experience the birth place of their sibling."
We have a few more pros:

  • Our kids will experience a new country, becoming more open-minded to the world around them.
  • What better schooling? Seeing The Great Wall, The Forbidden City, and meeting and interacting with the people of China for 3 solid weeks!
  • We will probably have the opportunity to visit an orphanage. Invaluable.
  • They will be with us for those 3 weeks. Being apart from them for that long would take a toll on everyone. They would be super needy when we got back to the US.
  • They will be helpful with the boys and can provide some comfort to the boys.
The con our agency listed IS a big one to consider: "You will still be parenting while trying to get to know your new child(ren)."
Parenting is hard enough in our own country and in our own home.  I know this will be tough. We've been preparing our kids for some of the feelings they might encounter.  I read (or have them read) travel blogs from families who took their kids and blogged honestly about the joys and stresses.  We talk about how they will certainly experience feelings of neglect for a while, regardless of if they traveled with us or not. 

Our agency will do some planned activities for the kids while we are in China and we have support staff on 24-hour call to act as an advocate, nanny, guide, and shoulder to cry on.  

Cost-wise, taking the kids will add about $7000, but in the scheme of an almost-month-long journey that will cost just over $40,000, that $7000 is worth every penny.

China or bust!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Chinese Orphans with Bieber Fever

I was tickled to see this video posted on one of ShowHope's blogs.  My oldest daughter and I had just seen the Justin Bieber movie, "Never Say Never: The Director's Fan Cut 3D" on Saturday, so Bieber fever was running pretty high over here at the Brown house.  Chinese orphan fever has been running high for the past 7+ months.  Put the two together and you have fireworks!!

We had never been a real fan of JB's until we saw the movie.  The kids and I had heard a couple of his songs (how can you be alive in the US and NOT at least know of him?), but we opted not to download his CDs because almost every song is about infatuation and puppy love disguised at true love.   I thought, and still believe, he's way too young to have a clue about love, but also knew I could lighten up a little.

JB is a true prodigy, which I never understood until watching the movie.    I had just assumed he was another cookie-cutter Disney/Nickelodeon machine kid with average talent, but I was wrong.  I even bought 5 of his songs that now reside happily on my iPhone.

One thing's for sure, no matter how you feel about the Biebs.  His songs are catchy!  This truth is evidenced here as Chinese kids living at Show Hope's Maria's Big House of Hope in Henan Province sing along with "Baby".  It's a stereotype that Chinese people love karaoke, but it's a true stereotype from all I'm reading about China.  Looks to me like it's in the blood.  I'd probably not do as well on the rap sequence of this song.


And, no, I'm not going to become like this about Justin Bieber...maybe.