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Showing posts from March, 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 th…

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 …

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 ro…

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)

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&#…

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…

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 st…

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)

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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 hap…

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 h…

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 devel…

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 school…

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 …