Category Archives: Uncategorized

Thankful Thursday

1. James is doing really well this evening! Surgery was successful, no severe skin blisters like last time, blood draw was very painful but they got it done, nausea is gone, and he perked up so much tonight after a long afternoon nap and a visit from family including one of his favorite cousins. We should be discharged tomorrow to go to stay with family locally.
 
2. Emily’s weekly PT will overlap with James’ weekly OT at the same facility!! This is a big deal because it’s a 40 minute drive to therapy and it makes all the difference to consolidate trips when you’re managing two kids with a variety of appointments, and three kids in different schools with different daily schedules and 2 year old who still really needs her daily nap.
 
2. Emily’s next round of multiple tests and appointments will be consolidated into two days (MRI, urodynamics and club foot casting plus 2 clinic appts) and we can have James’ X-rays done there. Request to RM House is already in 🙂
 
3. Child Life threw a holiday party today that had me fighting tears because I was feeling cared for and supported after an intense morning of blood work, vomiting and a finger splint that James could only tolerate with Valium initially.
 
4. My baby girl and her Daddy are bonding on a whole new level which is worth the sacrifice of missing her so badly.
 
5. My kids were surprised by a wonderful gift basket from anonymous friends honoring St. Nicholas Day, a friend is dropping off a huge bag of Costco dumplings for James tomorrow (his welcome home comfort food) and on Monday a neighbor friend is bringing dinner so I don’t have to try to make that happen as soon as we get home from Maryland.

Nothing Wonderful About This

UPDATE: The video of the commercial has been scrubbed from the company’s website and You Tube channel and removed from Clay Matthews’ Facebook page. It remains live in other places including the article mentioned below and on other YouTube channels such as BusinessWire. Clay Matthews’ agent has issued an apology on his behalf and assurances they’ve requested this ad “never see the light of day again.” The “Wonderful” company has given verbal assurances that they will not run the ad on TV.

If you’re outside the adoption community, you may not be aware of a firestorm that is brewing around a commercial that was aired Sunday night on NBC primetime during the Green Bay Packers game featuring Clay Matthews of the Packers speaking for Wonderful Pistachios and the Wonderful Company at large. The opening lines are shocking, offensive, deplorable and utterly disrespectful to the trauma, pain, and loss that millions of orphans in this world have endured including my two precious children. This is one in a series of commercials the company is called the “Chronic Losers” Ads and it is awful. The loss of a child’s birth family does not make them a loser. AND there are children who’ve experienced EXACTLY what he describes – being shuffled around between institutions – and let me tell you something – they are ten times the over comers anyone at any of these companies will ever be! How dare these people exploit the trauma my children have experienced in order to make a profit? This was the best comedy they could come up with? The ad is STUPID and morally irresponsible.

Can you imagine for one second what it would be like to be the person on the other side of this ad? To be the one who knows they were placed at an orphanage and their story is held up as comedy for profit? Lifelong struggles with self-worth and identity are pervasive among individuals who’ve experienced the loss of their birth family in this way. How incredibly insensitive and unnecessary. In fact, the entire line of ads follows this theme and represents a total lack of creativity. When you can’t be funny without being funny at someone else’s expense, you’re not funny, you’re just mean. And when you attempt to profit off your cruelty you will be held accountable. So I’m asking you to stand with our family, to stand up for our kids, and to take action. Send an email, comment on their Facebook pages, Tweet Them, Instagram them, dislike the youtube and Vimeo videos, demand they take it down and cancel the campaign and issue an apology. #takeitdown #nomoredale #shameonclaymatthews #notsowonderfulpistachios

Still not sure what you think about it? Read this article and the excerpts below and then tell me this isn’t sick.

http://www.adweek.com/creativity/wonderful-pistachios-and-nfl-stars-get-delightfully-deadpan-in-new-ads-about-chronic-losers/?fref=gc&dti=1445220415746574

“There were a couple of times where we wondered if we were going too far,” Moran said. (NO NEED TO WONDER MORAN – YOU JUST WENT WAAAAY TOO FAR!!!)

“We never wanted it to seem like we were making fun of customers or kicking people when they were down. A lot of lines we didn’t include because they felt like they crossed the line,” he added. (OH BUT MOCKING ORPHANS MADE THE CUT, HUH?)

He described the goal for the characters’ various absurd misfortunes as “things that technically could happen, but wouldn’t.” (EXCEPT IT DOES HAPPEN!)

The spots were originally intended not to have music, but the result, Moran said, was that they were “almost too dark.” (HMMMM…I WONDER WHY? BECAUSE IT IS TOO DARK!)

TAKE ACTION:

Give a Thumbs Down and register your complaint where the videos are listed on official channels on YouTube and Vimeo. (Links to come soon!)

The Wonderful Company – 

http://www.wonderful.com/contact.html

comments@wonderful.com
(310) 966-5700

Wonderful Pistachios – 

https://www.getcrackin.com/contact.html

877-450-9493

Clay Matthews, #52 Green Bay Packers

https://www.facebook.com/ClayMatthewsIII/

@ClayMatthews52 (Twitter)

NFL Commissioner

officeofcomissioner@nfl.com

NFL Public Relations at 1-212-450-2000 (you may have to leave a message in voicemail)

Green Bay Packers

920-569-7500 – ask to speak to Aaron Popkey or Katie Hermsen

 

 

 

The pain in adoption

Adoption is a beautiful thing right? Children placed in loving, forever families. One less orphan. The parents with beaming, albeit exhausted, smiles as they hold their new addition. Siblings proudly displaying their new welcome home signs and new “big brother” or “big sister” shirts. The fanfare, the celebration, the joy! So many emotions leading up to those moments. Happiness and excitement chief among them.

Adoption is a lot of things. It IS beautiful. And it IS hard. And at times it’s downright painful. But maybe not in the way you’d think.

Adoption, particularly international adoption, means coming face to face with the gut-wrenching reality that adoption is literally lifesaving for thousands, if not millions, of children in our broken and hurting world. Because when you review files, when you look into the eyes of a lonely, often sick, child who has no one to call them “son” or “daughter”, when you go through the agonizing process of seeking out which child God is calling you to, it means saying No to others along the way. Other precious ones who are so deserving, so worthy, so valuable. Ones who MATTER and do not belong in orphanages and institutions, but in homes and loving arms. And you pray that God will place them in those homes. And you advocate and you share and you hope. And you celebrate when that Mommy and Daddy step up and say “Yes, we will answer the COMMAND of Orphan Care by following our calling to this child.” And you weep, bitterly, so very bitterly, when no one comes and instead Jesus comes and takes them home to heaven.

Little Linus was a darling. Tiny and special. His broken heart is now whole with Jesus. His heart that never knew the love of a family now knows a perfect love. I grieve that we didn’t, couldn’t, say yes then. We were scared. “Heart condition” was terrifying at the time. Now, 2.5 years later?…not so much. But we were scared. Sigh…imagine how he felt. I learned last week that he died. He. Died. In An Orphanage. I pray his passing was peaceful. I pray he was held by someone with gentleness and care. I pray I’ll never forget this feeling. This pit in my stomach. This heavy aching in my heart that we couldn’t do more. That we didn’t do more.

Don’t tell me “you can’t save them all” because that’s not the point. The point is HE mattered and now he’s gone and we couldn’t make it better. And we need to stop trying to put the pain and grief of this world into a neat, tidy box that we can rationalize or spiritualize away so we don’t have to be uncomfortable or feel it. I will lament today. I will lament and fight the tears that threaten to come every time I so much as think his name. And in the lamenting, I pray my heart softens and therefore strengthens. That my passion be fueled not by justice alone, but by compassion and care. That the aches and pains of this world pull me closer to heart of the only One who will one day make all things right. But in the meantime, He is at work. He is at work IN AND THROUGH US my friends. And that means that in our fear and vulnerability, He can do beyond and above what we might imagine. He disrupt our lives to GO. To open our hearts and our homes to the hurting child. So yes, celebrate. Yes, rejoice in one less orphan. But do not forget. Do not become complacent. Do not think we’ve “done enough” because there are million more Linuses out there who need us.

Family of 6!

We are home safe and sound! Trying to get settled in, deal with the jet lag, and get things in order before Kevin returns to work on Monday and we start medical appointments on Wednesday. Here are a few pics from our return! I hope to get caught up on blogging about the rest of our trip before too long!

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It’s Go Time

After a 9 day wait, we finally received our Travel Approval today! Our flights are booked/on hold and we are in rapid preparation mode now! We will be leaving next week and we be able to meet our daughter on Monday, July 3rd in the morning!! We’re going to wait to introduce Emily to our friends and extended family until her brothers have had a chance to meet her by video call, but we’ll definitely give some status updates as we are able. Typically, the guide takes the families to a store to get diapers, formula, etc. right after they leave the orphanage, so we might not be able to post until later on in the day China time which will be the middle of the night USA time.

James’ surgery went fantastic! He recovered quickly and we were able to leave the next day. The surgeon did a meticulous job and shared pictures of his hand and arm from the OR. He’s in a heavy cast for the next six weeks. We are so excited for him – he’s going to have incredible new function with a properly working thumb and positioned hand. The cast and internal pin that’s in his new thumb, will be removed under anesthesia on July 28th. He can’t get the cast wet at all due to risk of infection so we’re very excited that we can get back and he can get it off as planned and enjoy swimming before summer is over. We’ll start right up with OT again the following week. Today he had a new splint made for nighttime for his right hand, particularly focused on increasing the extension of his index finger which will become his new thumb on that hand.

Gabi is done school, already had her first visit back to the orthodontist for a wire repair this week, and is so excited about heading to China with us. We started our morning devo study, Kids Read Romans, today with all three kids, and I’m eager to connect with her more deeply on a spiritual level this summer. She’ll be part of an intensive two week musical theater camp mid-August. This Saturday she has her spring vocal recital.

Andrew has been having lots of fun with the neighborhood boys riding bikes and swimming. He spent the weekend playing with his cousin JJ while Kevin helped JJ’s family move into their new house. He did not want to come back to NJ needless to say 🙂 He’s excited to go to basketball and soccer camp with JJ while we’re in China.

We are preparing daily gift bags for the boys while they’re gone and we have a calendar for them so they can visualize the timeframe for things. Please pray with us that they will find comfort in being together even while they miss us, and that they will enjoy the extra time with their cousins and grandparents making special memories. We’ve recorded several books so they can hear us read to them and we hope that will be a comfort as well.

Our dog Flash is going to be well loved by our family for a few days, then a wonderful couple that is housesitting for us, and then at a great kennel in town. He gets his vaccine booster tomorrow. He got his nails trimmed and filed early this week and a new bag of food is on its way thanks to Amazon Prime, so he’s just about set too!

There are several great families traveling at the same time as us. We hope to meet up with many of them in Guangzhou during the second part of our trip. We’re all part of a Facebook group and I’ve made a pictorial directory to help everyone track whose who. We’ve also connected with another couple to do our touring together in Beijing. They are adopting a boy from Emily’s orphanage as well who is just a little younger than her.

We’re also taking some gifts and pictures to children whose families are in process to adopt them, or who were previously adopted from that orphanage to give their previous nannies updated pictures.

I finally found a frame for our puzzle from the fundraiser – can’t wait to hang it tonight! We got the bookshelves hung in Emily’s room last night and a very special piece of handmade artwork from my sister that looks AMAZING in her room. I’ll have to upload some pictures soon!

I visited the bank today to notarize one final document, get our traveling cash, and put them on notice about us being out of the country so our debit card usage isn’t flagged. I feel like the to-do list is finally getting smaller instead of bigger!

Thank you for your prayers in the days ahead. Right now we most need prayer for good times of connection as a family before we are apart, for the boys to be able to articulate and share openly about their feelings about all of this so we can talk about it, and for the logistical details of everything to come together. And that most of all, we rely on God’s strength and not our own. That we would keep our eyes on Him taking every opportunity to praise and glorify Him for all He has done and will do both in this adoption journey and beyond. And please pray for Emily and her nanny. It will be a difficult goodbye for both. Pray for Emily’s heart and mind. That despite how young she is and how much she cannot understand, that her heart will receive our love and she will feel a sense of safety and peace as soon as possible.

Thank you friends.

It’s Here!

Today was another busy Monday that I mentally registered as Day 41 of the LOA wait, but in the hustle and bustle of getting out the door to school and therapy and picking up altered shirts for James, and going to the grocery store, and resolving being locked out of the house accidentally… it never clicked that today had been a holiday in China (their Labor Day) so no one was in the office to be working on our dossier. By the time I realized it, the day was mostly over and I chalked it up to another day of no news, and mentally prepared to wait until the end of the week when it seemed most likely we’d get the call. After all, our agency had just checked in with China towards the end of last week as our status was still “In Review” and we needed to move to “Matched” and then our “soft LOA” status would be posted. This usually means that your hard copy LOA will arrive to the agency a few days later. Our agency said on Friday it would likely be another week. So we proceeded with our evening of spaghetti dinner and trampoline time in the unseasonably warm weather, and I started my nightly routine with James of his bath to wash his arm and check his pin sites and change the foam sponges on his arm. I was in the midst of this when Kevin came in to say he was getting a call from our agency on his cell phone. It took me all of like 3 seconds to process what that meant and I nearly yelled “Oh my word, answer it!”

He tried so hard to play cool. He tried so hard to mess with me but his own silly grin gave him away. This was THE CALL!!! The agency had not only received the hard copy of our LOA but they’d gotten to FedEx to overnight to us so we can sign it and get it right back out the door for overnight to the USCIS office to keep things moving as fast as possible!!

I called out the window to the big kids on the trampoline and they began whooping and hollering and came running in to hug us! And I got to say to James – “Honey this is what we did when they said yes to us for you! James! This is how happy we were! We celebrated just like this when your letter came!” And his face just lit up and he said, “Can I see it?” And I explained that of course I could show him the copy of his letter and that I have many other special documents that we needed to bring him home. “You do?” he said with wonder. “Where?” …and so I could explain how I kept everything and we could look through it together. Even something like paperwork is a special part of his story that he needs to be able to take hold of as he makes sense of his life. I’m so glad we have something tangible to help him as he continues to process his unique story.

Right now everything is looking VERY GOOD for us to be traveling early July. I’m not going to give exact dates in a public space as I just don’t think it’s wise to share timelines of when our family is separated and possibly not in our home. (But I’m glad to know we have a whole community of people that can keep a vigilant eye on things to make sure everything is safe and sound while we’re gone!) But I can say that we will be kicking it into “high gear” as we persevere in fundraising, wrap up school, make final preparations in our home, gather things we’ll need for the trip, go through James’ next surgery, and prep for Emily’s medical appointments when we return, and the removal of James’ cast very soon after we return. It’s a lot. So, like I told Gabi tonight we’re just gonna take lots of deep breaths, take it one day at a time, and rest in the joy of these days as we anticipate the time drawing near when we can finally be with her! The waiting is almost over!

 

The Ripple Effect

A little more than 2 years ago, Kevin and I said yes to adoption. Yes, to “our” adoption.  My yes came as I wrote on a stone of remembrance at the end of a conference in which God settled in my Spirit with great conviction that it was safe to be faithful to a faithful God. And so we said Yes to adding to our family and stepping forward in faith to what God had called “us” to. Little did we know, and who were we to limit God’s work in this to our family…

In the last month we launched our first fundraiser. And it has been so special to see over 35 families and individuals come alongside us with financial donations to help us with the fees required for the adoption process. And as I write names on the pieces, and see this puzzle come together, I can’t help but see how God is piecing together many, many more stories of hope and healing for children…

The tears welled up as I wrote her name… “Mei Ping”…two years ago I didn’t even know she existed. But we said yes to adoption. And nine months later as she held open her arms to our boy, our hearts were changed forever. And now there I was, writing her name among the names of her soon to be sisters and brothers and her very own Mama and Baba…the very best family I could ever imagine for her. And now the name of this beautiful China girl is on a special momento that will having in my beautiful China girl’s room. We just cast our stone of faith into the water. The ripple began…

We should have known really. It was from watching the journeys of so many friends in their adoptions that we’d learned and been inspired and encouraged. So of course our journey would not just be about us. But to think that God would really use us to help someone else take that step of faith? Honestly, it just seemed kind of too good to be true. We know our own flaws and shortcomings all too well. But as it turns out, God uses imperfect people 🙂

Although I can’t share the personal details, it has been the most humbling and meaningful experience to talk with women, friends and family and even just acquaintances, who have shared their desire to adopt.Sometimes they are just one conversation in which I share a bit of our story and some resources – the preOp nurse for James’ surgery, for example. Sometimes it’s just listening to a mama share her heart and encouraging her in God’s perfect timing and provision for their family. And sometimes, it’s listening with total awe and overwhelming gratitude from the depths of my heart as a mama shares that God used us to help them say yes to adoption and that they are now in process! Somehow, some way, that single stone of faith we cast in the water is creating a ripple effect that is bigger than anything we could have imagined when we first said our meager “yes” two years ago.

So as the pieces of our puzzle come together, its own ripple effect of those saying “Yes, we will play a part”, it’s like a tangible picture of how God is piecing together children and families and using us to play a small, but oh so meaningful role in his beautiful plan.