Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I just wish he could pronounce the word correctly: he sounds like a bigot riding a San Francisco streetcar.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Or, rather, I assume I would like that. I've never actually experienced that tender tidy time.
That being said, as I try to figure out what I'm going to wear tomorrow for my last Bethany interview, I realize that God has given me bookends. To the beginning of our adoption process. Nice beachy bookends. When our case worker comes to our house (which is ridiculously clean, organized, and fire-retardant), the car will be packed and after the home visit we will leave for vacation. Friday, our 5 year anniversary, will be spent in Greensboro (where everyone who is anyone goes on anniversary trips--or at least those who want to drop their kids off at Gigi and Papa's and then spend the night at the O. Henry Hotel), and then Saturday we will head to the beach. The beach where we first heard God's call to adoption.
I was speaking today with someone about our adoption process. She remarked that she thinks it is noble and so good for us to provide a home to a child in need. But I don't really think this is what adoption is about. Or at least not for us. Yes, I am excited about having a new child. Ecstatic. Elated. And lots of other "e" words--exhilarated, exuberant, ebullient, expectant, exultant, and perhaps, exhausted. This will be the first time that I get to put together a nursery for my child. (Being on bed rest from week 18 on interfered with Henry's nursery, which was put together by his Dad, Aunt, Cousins, and family friends.) There is also the possibility of being able to take my child home from the hospital, rather than have to visit him in the NICU for the first weeks of his little life. These things, which fill me with deep joy, pale in comparison to the great unending joy that comes from jumping feet first into the arms of God.
As a parent, particularly as a Christian parent, it is commonplace to say things like "I trust God with my family." But this faith, while real, is coupled with all the tiny things we do to insure that we never really have to trust God to take care of them. We get insurance; we go to our pediatrician; we limit TV; we eat healthy (most of the time); we set limits; we parent. In fact, we parent in such a way as to reduce our child's inherent need of us and his Creator. After all, a child who never disobeys, talks back, or rebels needs little grace. And it is through grace that we receive everything from God.
But adoption is different. This little child will be born of grace. Born of our humble prayers to God saying, "Lord, we believe, help our unbelief." After 10am on Thursday morning, there will be nothing more Sloan and I can do to receive our child. We will hand over our beautiful adoption profile scrapbooks, write a check, and then wait on the Lord. All the while, repenting of all the times I think, "Geesh, what if we never get picked? What if no one wants us because we have a biological child? What if they think I'm fat, ugly, and a complete dork because I included that picture of us with the dolphin in our profile?"
Henry was a gift from the Lord. No doubt. After tests, surgeries, miscarriages, procedures, and hospital stays--there is no way I could ever say that God's faithfulness to us was not demonstrated in Henry's life even prior to his birth and it is a delight to tell Henry of how God fought for him even before he first drew a breath. But this is a different kind of gift. We're not being proactive, or even reactive, about our infertile situation. We're being receptive. Quite literally, we are doing nothing to bring this child into being. We're simply trusting that God will be true to His word--Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today... The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.
Holy crap! I've never done this sort of thing. I feel like saying to God, "What is this being still that you speak of? Be still and know what? Oh yeah, that you're God."
I've written about this before but I think it is worth repeating, if only to remind myself. Trusting God, with your whole self, is a bit like riding a roller coaster. Often, that thing you're trusting God in is something you've waited awhile to receive. And there are lots of yahoos in front of you who seem to be ignorant of their body odor and your summation of their being undeserving. And yet, there they are, getting theirs first. And you're just stuck there waiting. Sweating. And this is even before you really sit into trusting God--you're just thinking about maybe trusting Him. And then, you say, No, God gave me this free ticket and says I am tall enough to ride this ride. So you put your full weight into it. You sit, somewhat scrunched up like a sausage, possibly regretting that second funnel cake, and you, albeit white knuckled, grab onto Him. You resist the urge to pee in your pants or puke. Every muscle is clenched. It is scary as all get out, particularly when your feet dangle or your face is mere inches from a spout of fire. But if you close your eyes, you miss it. It's a rush. And your best bet it to simply scream your head off and throw your hands in the air, and trust that you are secure enough to enjoy the ride.
(I just wish faith in God came with a soundtrack--- one of my all time favorite sounds---the click-click-click you hear as you escalate up a hill on a wooden roller coaster.)
Click-click-click-click....Here goes nothing.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
So it has always been a joy of mine to say exactly what I'm thinking. Particularly when it shocks people, even better when it gets a laugh. Most assuredly, I was thankful for Chris Stanley. Easily the cutest boy in my class, and he was my boyfriend in kindergarten which amounted to us holding hands in the bus on the way to the Greensboro Historical Museum and him kissing me on the cheek one day behind the slide.
This non-filtering usually serves me well. I'll say what everyone else is thinking, we'll all laugh, and then we can get down to the business of being authentic with one another because I've already told you that horrifying story about Chris Stanley. Or conversation will get tense, or sad, or just a little too real, so I'll bust out a "That's what she said!" and all is well. As my dear friend Dolly puts it, in this way, I'm sooo dependable.
But sometimes it does not serve me well. When you put out a "that's what she said!" you are looking for a laugh. Not silence and the sudden realization that you've just made an inappropriate comment about a basketball with your son's speech therapy teacher. (Not that that has happened or anything....) It was with this knowledge that I entered into our second adoption interview.
I did okay. More than okay I think. We were candid. I only teared up when talking about how much I love this child we're waiting for and his or her birth mother already so much. And I never cut Sloan off. That is the difficult thing about the conjoint interview. I'm a quick thinker. Sloan prefers to sit with a question for awhile. So our case worker would ask a question and I'd have to force myself to pause, looking at Sloan, bouncing my feet up and down as I was willing him to hurry up and say something. But he did talk. He's in sales and quite frankly, my dear husband has been known to make ME look quiet.
Our favorite question was when she asked about our marriage. Specifically when she asked what we thought were our marriage's strengths and weaknesses. I looked at Sloan. Sloan said, "Ugh, I hate this question." Our case worker laughed. We talked about how our strengths and weaknesses were different sides of the same coin--neither Sloan nor I am afraid on conflict and we both have pretty sarcastic senses of humor. There is much freedom in knowing you can be wrong and you can say whatever you want and you will still be loved. Conversely, I've been known to say some pretty dumb things. Hurtful things. Because, shy--I'm not! And Sloan has been known to crack an unwelcome joke or two in the midst of a heated discussion. And so we spoke of how we wanted to get better at conflict. Specifically, to communicate better. This proves difficult as half of the time I am wanting Sloan to be a mind reader. (Because it doesn't count if I say I want him to help me clean the kitchen. I want him to want to help me clean the kitchen. Cue video clip from the movie The Break Up.)
It was at this point we got our case worker laughing so hard she started crying because we spoke about that stupid "Speaker-Listener" technique the pastor who married us tried to teach us in our pre-marital counseling. I also spent a good deal of time with the technique in seminary classes. You know the technique where you listen to your spouse for understanding and say back to them things like, "What I hear you saying is this....."
Sloan and I have found that listening to the other person in an argument interferes with coming up with really good zingers to prove our points and manipulate the situation to get our own way. And when I've tried using it, it has been met with a "Don't you throw that speaker-listener crap at me. You know darn well what I just said..." I think it was that confession that really got the case worker laughing.
Oh well. We were just trying to keep it real.
Sloan has his personal interview on Friday. Mine is next Tuesday and then we have our home visit Thursday morning. Hopefully those interviews won't last twice as long as our case worker estimated. (Did I mention I never shut up? Shy--I'm not!)
Friday, August 14, 2009
As a kid, I loved being read to. I remember every Friday afternoon in the fourth grade, Mrs. Fay would read for the last hour of school--the Indian in the Cupboard, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlotte's Web, Brighty of Grand Canyon. My parents may have read chapter books to me and I simply don't remember it. I don't know.
And surprisingly, Henry did pretty well with the book. A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh, whose name really is Edward despite his living under the name of Saunders. We made it through the first two chapters. Reading aloud in his big boy bed is a treat that the crib or toddler bed could not afford. He cuddled up next to me with his head on my shoulder, then would wriggle down putting his whole body on mine so he could hold the book and turn the pages. He would buzz like a bee and then burrow into the covers and begin to play peek-a-boo. I would stop reading and he would pop up and say, "No no, Mommy. Weed. Weed." I'm not requiring him to sit still for the reading, but he can't be talking.
So once he settled down again, this time, his head resting on my tummy while playing with a toy car on his legs, I began to read. Tut-tut, it looks like rain...
Monday, August 10, 2009
Night time is easy. He stays in bed with relative ease, until I hear him knocking on his door around 7:30 in the morning, saying, "Knock, knock, knock. Mommy. Knock, knock, knock." Naps, however, are proving to be a little more difficult. Most Moms have told me that naps went out the door when their littles were moved to their big kid beds. I refuse to give them up. As it stands now, in the naptime game, we are Henry 2, Nap 1. And it sounds like we may be headed for Henry 3, Nap 1. But I will not give up. Even if it means for the next couple of weeks I have to sit out his door for three hours every afternoon.
The grossest is that once while Henry was "napping" he took apart his diaper pail and began throwing around the diapers as if they were balls. Yucko. The diaper pail is now in the hall outside his room. Mainly he simply gets up and goes and gets books off his bookshelf or plays in his curtains. We will soon be getting him shorter curtains to remove this temptation. I do not know how to remove the temptation to bring books to bed, as it is something I struggle with as well. Besides, it is a queen size bed. I figure if he wants to sleep with thirty books he can. I intervene when I can hear that he is playing and try to give him grace when I can discern that he is simply getting up and going to the bookshelf. I wish I had one of those video monitors as I have sometimes gone into his room thinking he was playing, when really he was simply wrestling with Dog Dog and Hop Hop on his bed. Sloan finds those monitors creepy and a little big brother and has forbidden me from purchasing one. So if say, someone who owned one were to loan me one for awhile, I think that would totally be okay.
The bonus is that we have spent a lot of time in prayer. As in, we get to pray for forgiveness for getting out of bed and have been praying fervently for God to help him stay in bed and fall asleep quickly. I have also learned that my stern Mommy tone can make my son cry. All I have to do is say, "Henry. Bed. Now." and the tears and squeals begin. Oh well. Such is the life of a 2 year old.
Oh, I gotta go. I just heard pitter patter on the floor from upstairs. Time to go drop the hammer.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
I found this episode to be of seismic importance in terms of what it has done to the landscape of my heart. The birthparents, Catelynn and Tyler, are quite possibly two of the most remarkable teens I've ever seen. The dad, Tyler, has to be the most mature person to ever sport a sideways ball cap. Don't laugh at that. I'm being serious.
We have been praying for our birthmom to be surrounded by people who love and support her. After seeing this show, I cannot ask enough people to join us in this endeavor. I do not know how Catelynn and Tyler mustered up the strength to love their daughter enough to secure her a loving and stable home in the midst of being castigated by their parents for this decision. At one point, Tyler's dad basically tells him he is not a man because he isn't going to raise his daughter. Tyler's response was simply that his life, his house, his ability to parent at 16, just wasn't good enough for his daughter.
As we've read and talked about adoption, I've been harboring these fears of going through with an open adoption. That it would be awkward and strange and would threaten my feelings of being Mommy to have our child's birthparents in our child's life. I am so thankful for this show for shattering that illusion. In as much as I am already in love with our yet to be child, I am also in love with his or her birthparents. I can think of only one other example of greater love, and His sacrifice has secured My adoption into the family of God.
What greater gift could I give to my child than to open the door to a relationship with these people?
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
It was one of those mornings where it took me two hours to get motivated to go to the gym. In truth, I was so danged tired this morning that I knew I had to work out or I'd crash by noon. Henry screamed and cried the whole way to the gym because I would not let him take his current favorite toy with him--Sloan's toy 007 Aston Martin DB5, complete with a button that ejects the little James Bond from the roof of the car. As we walked into the gym, Henry was still screaming, "Vroom. Vroom. Vroom."
I kept following Henry around saying "Let me take a picture of your boo boo." Hiding under the laundry basket was his only defense.
Also, it should be noted that Henry is my son. When I told him that it was time to turn off the TV for the day, he looked at me, pointed to his eye, and said in the most pitiful voice, while briskly rubbing his little hand across his chest to signal please, "Mommy, eye boo boo. Show." "All right," I said. "What do you want to watch now?" And as he climbed up next to me on the couch (DB5 in tow), he screamed "EEEE EEEE OOOO OOO AAAAH AHHHHH".
Hmmm. More Curious George. Why do I even ask?
Monday, August 3, 2009
There is not enough chocolate pudding in the world to make up for my son's breath. And the training toothpaste for toddlers is just about worthless. When you've eaten a shrimp and chorizo burrito and dug raw purple onions out of your mom's salad that is dressed with Garlic Expressions vinaigrette, you need more than cocoa and baking soda to get out the stink. Having no fresh mint in the house for the boy to chew on, the pickle went to bed with breath that resembled hot garbage.
And yes, I DO think Henry has unusual tastes for a 2 yr old. He loves chorizo. Loves raw onion. Loves salmon, mahi mahi, and crab. Loves steak. Drinks the Ginger Dressing from Kabuto straight out of the bowl, the giant spoon taking far too long. But do not fear, he also has never met a hot dog he didn't devour. At the mere mention of a chicken nugget, he clucks like a chicken. And this morning, at breakfast, when faced with a bowl of cheerios, he looked at the bowl, then at me, then back at the bowl. He pushed it away, saying, "No cheer-o. Co puff."
Sunday, August 2, 2009
For starters, let's just say how Henry could have cared less that Sloan and I were away all day Friday and the first part of Saturday. Apparently, he went into our bedroom and looked for us, but upon being told we were gone, did not seem to care. He delighted in never once being ignored for two days. I am hoping that he did not get too used to this. Not that I ignore him, just that I encourage him to play independently. With frequency.
Probably our favorite part of the weekend was a speaker who dealt with overcoming infertility. When I saw that was a topic on our agenda, I (like most everyone else) groaned. Did they want me to give a talk? It is certainly a topic with which I am well acquainted. But the speaker's main point was that a) adoption can cure childlessness, but cannot cure infertility, and that b)who else but God could intersect the agony of infertility with the crisis of an unplanned pregnancy and bring about so much joy and redemption. It helped that the speaker was funny.
It also helped to meet the other perspective adoptive parents who are in similar situations to ours. We met folks who are pursuing their second adoptions and got to hear about what the experience was like the first time. There were people there who have contact with birthparents, those who have scheduled meetings and reunions with birthmothers only to have the birthmoms not show up, and others still who simply have the background information provided by Bethany.
There were several people who told of how they had been chosen by birthmoms, had interviews and meetings with the birthmoms, met grandparents, aunts, and uncles, and had paid for prenatal copays, only to have the birthmoms decide after the baby had been born that they would parent the child and not go forward with their adoption plan. I suppose I knew this happened. And even with some frequency. But it seemed like something that simply happened to other people. I'm praying that it is something that doesn't happen to us. But some part of my adoption naivety has been lost.
One of the funniest things that happened over the weekend was Sloan's first time experience of me in a more classroom experience. He met "student" Elizabeth. Unlike regular 'ol funny wisecracking Elizabeth, student Elizabeth takes copious notes and seeks to be liked by her teachers. It was also discovered that student Elizabeth may be a dork. If not a dork, than at least an overachiever. I asked the couple behind us where they were in the approval/home study process, assuming that since it was their second time around they'd be way ahead of me. Their response, "Oh, we're planning on completing the home study much quicker this time around. I think it will only take us a couple more months. The first time we took 7 months to complete the process." Knowing that we were in week 6 of our approval process and more than 60% completed, I asked, "Geez, what's taking you so long?" Sloan kicked me under the table. To the couples credit, apparently the first time around there were some weather delays with interviews and they live 2 hours from their closest Bethany office. I asked our case worker about this and she told me that most people take around 3 months to complete the paper work I had completed in 2 weeks. It was as if our case worker had just put a gold star by my name.
I also asked around about the profile scrapbooks and it seems that I'm the only one who had started theirs. And let's be clear, I'm 2 pictures away from completing ours. Fearing that mine was too Creative Memories-ish and not Snapfish photo book enough, I brought it in for our case worker to see. The words perfect and amazing were used. I was even told my handwriting looked like a font from the computer. Beaming, I came back to my desk to tell Sloan was she'd said. Sloan quickly reminded me that he was a mere 10 feet away when she'd complimented me and that he'd never taken me for a brown-noser, but apparently I was. He also checked to see if the windows opened, to make room for my ever growing ego.
It was all I could do to place our profile back in my backpack. I wanted to show it around to everyone in the training and say, "See. Valerie said it was perfect." I did show a couple of people the profile under the guise of "Hey, do you want to see pictures of Henry?"
I think part of the reason I've been able to be so quick about all of this is that God has been working in our hearts awhile to bring us to the adoption journey, and oh yeah, I picked AWESOME references. All three of our references and our pastor letter are back in to the Bethany office. A big shout out to Aunties Robin, Ann, and Shannon, and Pastor Shelby. You guys rock!!! Once Sloan's boss sends back in his proof of employment letter (a person I can't really call up and threaten with loss of friendship like I did with the Aunties), we'll be all set to begin our interviews. An interview with us together, then each of us will have a private interview, and then the home visit interview where they'll check out our house and talk to Henry. Some of the other parents were worried about how their toddlers would take to have a new baby in the house. I told them that as long as the baby brought Henry a truck, he'd be fine.
By the end of the weekend, we were tired. As in we both took naps during Henry's nap yesterday, then proceeded to cuddle on the couch with Henry while we watch the Curious George movie, put Henry to bed, then more TV, and then were in bed by 9pm. All three of us slept in until 8:45 this morning. And I'm thinking about heading up for a nap when I finish this post. Cross your fingers that Henry's nap is one of his 3 hour ones.