Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Adoption Answers

Throughout this adoption journey, I have had several friends and family ask questions - mostly the same questions. I'd like to address some of these questions en mass.

1. Why are you adopting? Can't you have any more kids of your "own"?

We are adopting because we are just aching for another child to love! This wasn't our second choice or fall-back plan. Yes, we could have more biological children, but are convinced that adoption is the way we want to expand our family now. And they will all be our "own."

2. There are lots of kids in our country that need families, so why China?

Yes! You are right! Children all over the world need families. It is estimated that 143 million children in the world are orphans. Some people feel called to domestic adoption, others to international adoption, and still others to fostering and mentoring. There are so many children who need to feel loved. All God's children - both in our country and others - deserve families.

3. Did you know your child would have a medical issue? Couldn't you have asked for one that was healthy?

Ben and I intentionally sought out the Waiting Child Program through China. We requested to be matched with a child who had a known physical need. Our daughter, Veronica has an un-repaired cleft lip and cleft palate that will require multiple surgeries for over a decade and intensive speech therapy and orthodontic work.

Surgeries for a child are never easy for a parent to deal with, but we have done it before and we can do it again. We have already had a child with speech delays. We felt up to dealing with a few additional medical quirks along the way. But, Veronica is more than just a medical need attached to a kid. Her cleft is only one little part of who she is.

And, as you all know, there are never guarantees for a "healthy" child. Two of my children have been in the ICU with life threatening illnesses. All parenting is a leap of faith, and we are ready to make that leap again.

4. Why didn't her birth mom keep her?

Unfortunately, there is no way for us to contact Veronica's birth mother to know why she was unable to raise her.

Perhaps, her family already had a child and was unable to raise her due to the single child rule.

Or, without medical insurance in China, fixing a cleft lip and palate could bankrupt an entire extended family. Her family may have made the decision to place her for adoption to ensure she received medical care. This happens every day in China - to both boys and girls.

The truth is we will never know. But, we have no reason to assume that her birth family loved her any less even though they were unable to raise her. We know she was left with a note in a very, very safe place. Someone loved her enough to ensure she had a chance at a good life. And now I will do everything I can to give her that life.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Open Window Parenting

I got into a bad habit this long, long, long Winter. I know this because I am having a difficult time adjusting to "open window parenting" this belated Spring.

I'm sure you know about "open window parenting". It is the volume level you use to communicate with your children when the windows are open and the neighborhood can hear you versus the muffled cocoon your house becomes when it is hermetically sealed from the winter winds.

The decibel level, which is already high with four young children has skyrocketed and unfortunately I have led the way. No, I have not begun screaming at the kids in anger. But, I have taken the lazy way and shouted from one floor to another. "Kids, pick up these toys!" or "Kids, wash up for supper!", or "Kids, stop shouting so loudly!"

And as we all know, but don't often like to admit, kids imitate what they see, or in this case, hear. When my voice got louder, their voices got louder. Then that awful kid music that has been banished to the basement got louder to compensate for loud voices.

With the windows open, the neighbors are subject to every conversation. I can hear our voices reverberate off the ranch homes and split levels on our street.

A very wise friend from ECFE (also with 4 kids) said several years ago, "I used to think I could handle any noise as long as it was joyful. Now I know that I need some quiet."

I'm with you, sister. And I am sure the neighbors feel the same way.

In an attempt to avoid becoming the pariahs of our neighborhood, I hereby formally acknowledge my guilt in contributing to the noise pollution levels and am going to try to do my best to lower my voice.

Or at least close the windows before I start hollering for the kids to get ready for bath time.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Graduation Day

Connor graduated from preschool today. He was given a certificate and a handshake and is now officially a kindergartner.

Some of parents, especially those whose youngest children graduated today cried. I admit, I haven't cried for any of the school milestones yet. I've always been very excited for the kids to take the next step. But, I have also had another child to follow. I'm not sure how it will feel to know it is "the last", the end of an era.

I've got a few friends (and even my buddy Oprah) going through some major changes in their lives. Some were planned, some were unexpected. I am impressed and amazed at the grace they are showing during these transitions.

Personally, I tend to fear change. At nearly every point in my life I think, "Life can't get any better than this. I don't want anything to change." But thank goodness it does. High school was pretty great and I didn't want to change. But then college was even better. Then marriage with no kids was even better than college. Now I'm in the at-home mom phase and truly can't imagine it getting better.

But I've been wrong before. And I think our upcoming change (adding sweet Veronica to the family) will make me question how I could have thought my life was complete before her.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Car Crash

While driving to Cub Foods today after Bible Study, I got into a bit of a car crash. Perhaps crash is too strong a word - lets go with fender bender instead. Okay fender bender for me, crash for the other guy.

I had been stopped on Rice Street amid the construction when the back bumper of my truck was clipped by a car who didn't quite notice that I wasn't actually moving. As there was no place to pull over on Rice, I pulled into a parking lot just off the road.

Fortunately the other driver followed. In reverse. After just getting into an accident. "Kudos" I thought. Bold decision.

My bumper had a scuff mark, while his front quarter panel was smashed in. I clearly wasn't at fault, and we both knew it. He was genuinely sorry and worried over my kids in the car who were just wondering how long this would take and when they would actually get to ride in the fun rocket carts at Cub Foods.

What a lucky day for me. It isn't every day I get to give somebody a free pass. I smiled and forgave him with no anger or frustration. Although a cosmetic boo-boo on his car was obviously unfortunate for him, I felt so blessed to have been able to make his life a little easier by not having him worry about the police or insurance.

I kept thinking how I have been forgiven for so many things. It is nice it feels to be able to pass that on to someone else.

This must have been my lucky day.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Lets get this started

After years of thinking about blogging, intending to blog, and imagining the mostest bestest blog ever, I had pretty much psyched myself out of blogging. That explains why this blog was created in 2008, but I had never actually posted before.

But I now realize that the need to bore my friends and family with the daily minutia of my life has overcome my sense of privacy and already full schedule, and I am officially launching this blog. Please maintain low expectations and I will do my best to meet them.

Just some background for those who have been encouraging this endeavor, but don't really know me (not that I am accusing anyone of stalker-like behavior)

Like the blog title says, I am trying to control the chaos of my life. Nearly a decade ago, I left my job in marketing to become an at-home mom with the birth of my daughter Bridget. Every two years, I grew another kid and my sons Riley, Connor and Sawyer soon followed. Now my children are age 9, 7, 5 and 3. They are generally the most wonderful children you will ever meet.

But, since our hearts had a lot of room and were just aching to love another child, we are in the midst of an adoption and are anxiously awaiting our travel to China to bring home Veronica, the next addition to our family. She's currently 19 months and we are anticipating traveling early July.

I'm married to the nicest person I have ever met. Ben changes the oil in the car, grills the best steak you'll ever eat and often volunteers to take over bath time. What more could a girl ask for?

But, my family is only part of the story. A big part, sure. But there's more to me than that.

I'm active in my church and children's schools. I love to travel, cook and will challenge anyone to Scrabble or Boggle. I'll choose reading over nearly every other activity. After years of giggling about those who scrapbook, I have somehow joined that horde. I am in slight fear of changing technology. I like the stiffness of towels when I hang them on the line. Cotton candy is my favorite food (and yes it is a "real" food). I love my parents and occasionally feel nostalgic for my hometown. I prefer shade over sun, vanilla over chocolate, and happy colors over anything the color of oatmeal.

We'll just have to see where this blog will take us.