Monday, February 28, 2011

I think we'd be friends

in real life.  

That's what I often imagine as I read blogs of women I've never met from all over the country.  

So in case you ever have considered that about me, I think there are some things you need to know: 

1.) I drink large quantities of UNsweet tea with extra lemons.  I'm usually seen carrying a Chick-fil-a cup full of it on a daily basis.  This causes many southerners to look at me with distaste and call me a Yankee.

2.) I'm not creative. This is not a statement of humility.  It's fact. In my elementary school, students had the opportunity to be invited on a yearly basis to try and "test" into the "Talented and Gifted" program.

That was never me.  In fact, in the fifth grade, I was one of four kids in my class who were not invited to take the test while the other twenty kids in our class were.  I can still remember sitting in the classroom just waiting for the rest of the class to get back.  Bless my heart.

3.) To further prove number #2, I can honestly say that I never think of my day in terms doing crafts, painting, or sewing.  I can guarantee that I will never attempt to show you how to refinish furniture,  paint a mural, or embroider a onesie on this blog.  I prefer, instead, to surround myself with very talented people to do those things for me.

4.) Once I find a fashion piece I like, it becomes my "thing." (Probably that creative issue again.)

  • I rocked the colored jean my senior year of high school.  If it came in a color, I owned it.  Mauve jean? Check.  Dark green jean?  Check.  They're coming back in style soon.  Trust me.  
  • For a few years I owned the tailored blazer.  Literally and figuratively.  In fact, I still actually own them; in navy, brown, mustard, cream, green, black...   Let me know if you need to borrow one. 

  • My current obsession are sweater coats and scarves.  I own a lot.  In fact, there's a good chance that on any given day, I'll be wearing one or the other.  Or both.  I need an intervention.    

5.) I can't do a cartwheel.

So what do you think? Would we be real-life friends?  


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Because All Children Deserve a Family

There are nearly 500,000 children in foster care in the United States. 

Over 250,000 will never return home.

Over 123,000 need adoptive homes right now.

More than 29,000 aged out of foster care in 2008, at age 18 without anyone, to live on their own, unprepared and unsupported.

In Montgomery County alone, there are over 300 children age 8-12 in foster care that are currently eligible to be adopted.  

Maybe you're past the point in your life of raising babies or toddlers.  

Maybe you've got some kiddos at home that keep asking for a sibling. 

Maybe you've got kids in college and some empty bedrooms in your house and  extra time on your hands? 

Maybe you should go check out the Heart Gallery

Eight years ago, this organization was formed to help give a voice and face to the thousands of children hoping to find a family.  The Heart Gallery is a traveling photographic and audio exhibit created to find forever families for children in foster care.  

These are children that have not been given a choice in their circumstances. They are not in foster care because they were disobedient or unstable. This is not their fault. 

They long to have what most of us take for granted.  A family.   

They are children. They have the same hopes and dreams as the ones who live in your house.   They play sports.  They sing and paint. They laugh and giggle.  And they don't have anyone to fight for them.  

Currently, the Alabama law on adoption is keeping this from being an option for us, as you need to be married for three years.  But after looking at the Heart Gallery tonight, I've been trying to figure out ways to get around that pesky little law.  

No matter where you live, I urge you to go to Heart Gallery and take a look at the kids in your state.  And tell your friends.  This is a solvable problem, my friends.  And you can be a part of the solution.  


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

And the Winner is....

the great state of Pennsylvania!!!

Out of the six states that either Brian or I have lived in,  Pennsylvania returned our Child Abuse and Neglect form first!!! 

Though I had to list EVERY address and EVERY person I have lived with since I was born on the PA state clearance form, (no, I'm not kidding),  they were extremely efficient and had given me written clearance in just three days.  

We've been warned that some states are taking two months to get clearances done. (ahem.... Georgia and Tennessee). 

The South, though I love it dearly,  is really starting to try my patience with getting things accomplished in a timely manner.  I mailed a letter to Birmingham to sign up for the online adoption training courses we need for the home study.  For those of you who still aren't quite sure where Alabama is located, much less Birmingham, it takes approximately an hour and half to drive from our house to Birmingham.

My letter, however, took two weeks to get there.  Apparently, Alabama is still using carrier pigeons as a method of mail transport.

In any case... we have five more to clearances to go and we can begin our home study visits!!

Georgia. Florida. Tennessee. Alabama. New Jersey.   Bring it.  

Oh, and my husband is a winner this week too.... 

I came home from work Monday to this delightful surprise!!!

Two Words.

Sugar. Coma.

Most of it has been eaten by one Word.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Where to start?

Ok, I'm back.  Thoughts and reflections from the Created for Care retreat have been oozing out of my mind slowly over the past couple days.  Great visual, huh?  Let's talk about them.  

If you know me personally, then you are well aware of my opinions and my need to share them. Frequently.  So here are some from this past weekend.

In my own life, this weekend was a confirmation that Brian and I are called to adopt. Not a doubt. I was able to gain insight and perspective from women who have already brought children home from other countries.  I heard stories of hope and heartache and I'm thankful that though we are at the beginning of the journey, I have specific things that I will be praying for in terms of having our heart and home ready when we bring home our children.

Now, let's talk about you.

Here's the thing.  I know that not everyone is meant to adopt.  And my intention in writing this is never to make you feel like that HAS to be your call just because it's ours.  But....if you are someone who's been feeling the "nudge" or some "undiagnosed indigestion"...whatever you want to call it- and think that adoption is maybe, something, potentially that you are being called to... Then let's talk.  Email me. I can connect you with lots of amazing folks around the country who are on the same journey.

But that won't be all of you, I know. So let me speak specifically to you folks who know that adopting a child into your home probably isn't for you.  I've got good news. There are many, many ways to care for the orphan.

There are over 140 orphans in the world. Around 13 million of them are double orphans, meaning both parents have died.  The rest are single orphans, in which one parent has died and the other has abandoned or cannot care for them.  Some of these children are in homes with relatives, some in orphanages, others on the streets.

Not trying to be melodramatic, but there are many, many children who do not have basic necessities.  In speaking with friends who have traveled to pick up children from orphanages, they talk about watching 2 year olds who have learned to take food from another's plate in order to survive.  They have witnessed little ones who rock themselves to sleep at night, because no one has ever helped them tuck them into bed.  And through no doing of their own, these kids have been born and are being raised in an environment where they have nothing.

In America, I believe we often take for granted the fact that we have immediate medical care if we need it.  Our children have diapers, milk, formula, fresh vegetables, toys.  They have someone who tucks them in at night, who give them hugs, and who tell them that they are loved.  Through no doing of our own, we (and our children) have been born and raised in an environment where we have plenty.  We have been given much.  And I believe we, therefore, have much to give.

None of us have had the ability to choose the circumstances and the environment in which we were born.  But we do have the choice of what to do with what we have been given.  And as I said before, we've been given much.

You can't fix every orphan's life.  But you can start by caring for one.  Or a couple.  Here are just a few ways...

1. You can sponsor a child.  That means you will provide monthly or yearly for their schooling, food, and medical care.  Eight years ago, I started sponsoring a child,  Anna, with Compassion International.  Anna lives in Tanzania and she is now 12 years old.  We write letters to one another once a month.  I get a photo of her once a year and send her pictures of our family.  She loves sending drawings that she has colored.  Though I have never met her, she is extremely close to my heart.  We provide for her needs and we get to watch her grow and flourish.  Though she does have one parent, she would not have had the means to school without a Compassion sponsorship.  I have even had friends who have been able to meet their sponsored children in person when they traveled to the country where their child lived!

2. Care for children who will not or cannot be adopted. These are children who live in countries where it is not culturally acceptable or even legal.  There are many organizations in each country that are doing something to help. Here are just a few....

* Wiphan-  Caring for widows and orphans in Zambia, a country where international adoption is rare and there are over 5 million orphans.
*SixtyFeet-  An organization currently in Uganda caring for children placed in "Rehabilitation Centers." These are actually prisons in which toddlers through teenagers are placed for street begging, being disobedient or unwanted.  SixtyFeet is an amazing group who are heading into the roughest places to reach children who have been forgotten.
*Show Hope-  An organization that is providing orphan care in various countries.  In Asia, it is providing homes and care for special needs children who otherwise will not be adopted.   

3. Help out a family that is fostering or adopting.  Prepare meals when they bring children home. Provide babysitting, tutoring, or yard care.  Help them in their fundraising efforts to bring their children home.  

4. Become a foster parent.  There are many children in our communities who are in need of stable, short term care.  A few months in your home could be life-changing for a child.  Contact your local child services agency for more info.  If you live in Montgomery, stay tuned for more info on it.

5.  Go spend some time with orphans.  Take some international trips. Get out of your comfort zone. is an example of organization that takes trips to many orphanages in countries around the world.
These are just a couple examples of how you and your family can get involved. There are MANY, MANY more organizations who are doing awesome things.

My challenge to you is to start researching what can be YOUR part in this great adventure.  I would love to hear what you and your family are doing!!!


Monday, February 7, 2011

I've Been Retreating

I spent the weekend at the Created for Care Retreat with 250 other women who are thinking about, in the process of, or have completed adoptions.  It was wonderful- for so many reasons.  Let me introduce you to a few of them.

These are the Montgomery ladies that I traveled to the retreat with, from left:
Betsy (going to get her Ethiopian daughter next week!)
Joy (currently a mom of two biological, five adopted, and three foster kids!)
KC (just received their picture of their 2 month old Ethiopian daughter. They hope to fly to meet her in the next month!)      
Jacky (just mailed their dossier for their Ethiopian adoption!)
It was so encouraging to spend the weekend with ladies who are passionate about caring for orphans and passionate about spreading that vision to our city!

These ladies are some of my amazing friends from Atlanta (who are probably mad that I have posted this picture. :) Tammy, Kelly, and Tami are not adoptive moms, nor do they feel the call to adopt.  But they DO feel the call to care for moms who have adopted or will be adopting.  They gave up their weekend to serve us and make it really special.  Thanks ladies!!! 

This is Andrea, who was the brainchild behind the whole weekend.  She's a mom of four kiddos, including Isaac, adopted from Ethiopia last June.  She and her husband Richard have been friends for years and have been a huge encouragement to us as we have begun our journey.  She as been my sounding board as I researched agencies and countries and she has been a huge cheerleader for us along the way.  I am so grateful that she was willing to sacrifice sleep, time, and resources in order to put together this retreat.

I'll post more thoughts later- still trying to process through all the information from the weekend.  It was so, so good...but it's currently smooshed in my brain and coming out in jumbled pieces. 

I feel like Rain Man... I've been blurting out random, disjointed stories about the retreat to Brian since I got home.  Poor guy.  

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

It's a Win-Win situation!

Or at least it could be. 

Millions of Miles is the blog of a mom of three cute kiddos, including Miles, who was recently adopted from the Congo.  

After spending time in the Congo while getting her son, her heart was broken for the country.  Each year she holds a raffle to raise money for the Congo and Haiti.  

For just a little bit of cash you could win a VACATION to either Colorado or Florida.  Even better, your money goes toward supporting orphan care in Congo and Haiti.   So it's a big, huge WIN in the fact that your money is going to a great cause.  I can't promise you'll win the vacation though.  Because I probably will.  But you should get tickets anyway.  

Head over here to get the details and buy some tickets.