Friday, April 29, 2011

Doubting Thomas

To say that our minds have been intensely preoccupied with our referral is an understatement!  We only have 2 weeks to review the medical files and let our agency know what we have decided, and I stress out when I have a deadline.

You'd think it would be easy- we've checked off the special needs that we would be willing to accept, so what is there to consider, right?  However, the Chinese medical records leave ALOT to be desired, and so often the information is contradicting, or just not included. It's hard to get a reliable medical opinion when the records are missing so many key elements to making an accurate diagnosis.

Most days, I would accept any challenge because it ultimately comes down to these two beliefs: each child is a gift from God and made perfect just the way they are, and each child deserves a family.  And I would just smile and begain making plans to bring another little one home.

However, some days doubt creeps in, and I don't know if I have the abilities and the energy to take on another challenge.  I worry about whether her needs will demand the lions share of my time and how that will reduce the amount of time I have for the other kids; how much the additional medical expenses will affect our already stretched budget; what if her condition is more serious than indicated and she is unable to be mobile someday? And all this worrying leads to sleepless nights. I know what God wants me to do and what  I SHOULD do, but can I do it, and do I really want to? Wouldn't it just be easier to take a much needed vacation and pamper myself, instead of trying to take on the world's troubles?  (Who hasn't thought that when confronted with a difficult situation?)

Then I remember that sometimes the path less traveled presents us with landscapes that are different, but none the less, beautiful.  I remember how I've been carried through the tougher times in my life, and it's always turned out okay.  Sometimes better than okay.  I remember all of the little miracles that have led  us to this point and I feel reassured that we are on the right path.  I think of all I have to be grateful for, and I know that it's my place to reach out and 'tend to the widows and the orphans'.

So bear with me, while I go through some human fears and doubts, working my way back to the trail that I'm destined to be on, led by faith, and knowing that "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Can you say REFERRAL??!!!!

WhoooHooo!  As of this morning, between our family and 2 others that I  know in our adoption group, there are 3 less orphans in the world.  How sweet is that?

Judee called me at 7:45- she couldn't wait until 8:00 she said!  We have been matched with a 16 mo old girl named QingQiao, and she is a cutie!  I had no idea we would be matched today because we had just turned in the most recent paperwork last week, and had been logged in to the Bethany referral "waiting list" as of yesterday. 

Because we were so open to many special needs and we've been down this road with a SN child, not alot scared us on the waiting child checklist.  Apparently we sailed past other families that were on the list ahead of us that weren't open to as many  challenges as we were, and we were matched in 1 day!!  That is unheard of!!    Many families wait for months for a referral, not to mention those families waiting for a healthy child- that is about a 7  year wait in China.  So are we blessed or what?!

I can't wait to post her pictures!  We are not allowed to do that per China regulation until we get our authorized approval back from China.  We now have 2 weeks to have her medical records reviewed by a physician, then we send in a Letter of Intent, stating that we have agreed to adopt this child.  More paperwork, but it's joyous paperwork, not the plethora of forms that we've had to fill out to get this far.

Please pray for her so that our paperwork all goes through quickly and smoothly, so we can travel to Shanxi province and bring her home as soon as possible. 

The Johnson household is just about bursting with happiness!!  Can I hear a Whoop Whoop!?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Frugal Friday~

“I believe that thrift is essential to well-ordered living.”
--John D. Rockefeller

Gardening is the one area that helps us out the most with our grocery expenses. We have a minimum of 3 gardens going every summer, and we can or freeze most of what we raise. 
 Even with gardening, we can find ways to cut costs and make it more affordable.  Starting most of our plants from seeds in trays is a good way to keep expenses down. 
I took an old plastic shelf from the toy room, drilled holes in the ends of it to hang the shop lites, purchased 3 shop lites to hang on it, and this was the result- (bottom shelf was cut off on the picture)

I reuse the trays and plastic cells, order seed from Fedco Seeds with a group of friends at a volume discount, and purchase 25# bags of potting mix from a landscaping company. 

To buy a tray of already grown seedlings of tomatoes would cost approx $18.00 from a store.  To start and grow your own, I've penciled out the cost to be less than $4.00 a tray.

I start out all of our tomatoes, hot and sweet peppers, cabbages, tomatillos, broccoli, and brussel sprouts under the grow lights, and sometimes start lettuce for early transplanting.

Once the seedlings are growing, there isn't a lot of maintenance, except to keep them watered and occasionally douse them with fishmeal as a natural fertilizer.

[Note: to get the pepper seeds to germinate, they need to be warmed.  I sometimes put the tray in front of our wood burning stove or even on a cookie sheet in the oven on about 150 deg.  If you have an appliance that gets warm on the top, that works really well too.]

Hopefully, someday I'll get that greenhouse built that I've always wanted, but until then, this makeshift shelf will have to do. 
 Happy Gardening!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Luke's Quilt

FINALLY got Luke's quilt done- check that off of my winter project list. :-)

There's something about putting together a quilt for my kids- selecting fabric and patterns that I think they will like, spending the time piecing it together, every stitch applied, making something special for them from me. 

My hope is that my children will treasure these quilts and share them with their own children someday.  I still have a quilt made by my Grandma Haugen, and it's one of my most treasured possessions.  She made it herself specifically to cover and warm her family, and that loving intention carries through to those who use the quilts. 

The quilts I make for my family may not be the prettiest or the best, but I hope that every time my kids wrap themselves up in them, they know how much they are loved.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lent Sermons and Adoption

While struggling with the never ending paperwork, the bureacratic b.s., the waiting for the next milestone in the adoption journey, I find that I'm often looking for  signs of encouragement in my day.

This month the encouragements have come in Lenten sermon messages.

The first sermon by Pastor Steve focused on the Isrealites- how they had to have faith in what they did during their exodus journey, especially since they would never see the result of their faith walk.  The elder leaders would be dead and gone by the time the group got to the Promised Land; the elders were making choices and would be doing this for their children and the future generations. 

 I began to think about our adoption in this way- we are following God's lead by bringing home a child from another country, and we may not live to see her purpose played out.  However, we are doing what we feel called to do, and even though we don't know what the plans are for this child, we do know our part in the big picture.  Bringing her home to a family.

(On a side note, the fact that Pastor Steve can make the Isrealites as interesting as he does is a testament to his sermon-writing abilities)

The second sermond that struck a chord with me was the one called Stay the Course.  Pastor Dachler likened the faith that Noah had in taking 120 years to build the Ark as the ultimate Patience Test.  Can you imagine the peer pressure that he faced day in and day out, answering the questions and heckles of neighbors and friends about why he was building this huge boat in the middle of a desert?  Tough gig.

People who are adopting face alot of that same peer pressure- people wanting to know why we are doing what we are doing. How we can justify the cost during tough times- isn't that expensive? Why China and not USA?  Why at our age?  Why adopt at all?

It's also hard to keep up the momentum of the search for your child.  It's easy to get sidetracked or lose some of the enthuisiasm when it feels like nothing is happening for months.  Life gets in the way.  Suddenly all sorts of unplanned expenses surface, and that digs at your adoption fund.  The paperwork is endless and exhausting at times.  The process drains your checking account and your energy.   

I wonder if Noah ever felt this way?

Adoption is definitely a faith walk.  But whenever I begin to become discouraged, something comes along to remind me of our purpose.  I like to think of them as little Post-It notes from God, kind of like the little notes I used to put in my kid's lunch boxes to encourage them. 

Notes giving me the encouragement I need to know that our actions have a purpose, and to help us Stay the Course.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Attachment Angst

I can't speak for all adoptive parents, but from talking to many of them, we all seem to share several of the same feelings of discouragement, frustration, impatience, and some days even dislike in regards to our attachment challenged children. 

Sometimes I just want to look our daughter in the eyes and say, "Can we move on already?"
I find I'm not alone in this sentiment.

We as parents KNOW our adopted children have endured abuse or neglect that no child should have to experience, we KNOW that they have trust issues with adults and the world, we KNOW  that it's scarey to move from their comfort zone of emotional pain, even when the other side looks so much more inviting.

I want to point out to my daughter that yes, she did spend the first 20 months of her life in a not-so-good place, BUT she has also spent the last 7 years in a place of security and love.  So when do the good memories and feelings completely replace the bad?

I'm sure she would give me one of her looks that says she has no idea WHAT I'm talking about, then run off to play.

But from the Mom's point of view, all I can say is, "I'm tired." 

Tired of micromanaging your schedules so that we can avoid the triggers that set off the unacceptable behaviors.

Tired of lecturing you on the same issues.  for.  the.  hundreth.  time.

Tired of apologizing to your siblings for the eaten candy/gum/pop, broken toys, ripped books, missing items.

Tired of overseeing your actions with "damage control" when we are in a new situation/place or with new friends, because they don't understand your quirks or why a new situation results in you going into hyperdrive.

Tired of literally prying you off of our friends because you refuse to respect personal boundaries.

Tired of hearing how your first (bio) mom and dad were probably really nice and that you miss them, even though you can't recall anything about them.

Tired of teaching you the same material over and over again, because thanks to fetal alcohol exposure, you have difficulty with learning and short term memory.

Tired of struggling with feelings of some days just not wanting to be in the same room with you, even though I love you very much and want to share every day with you.

Tired of trying to explain to family why you do what you do, when I don't always understand it myself.

The link below is to another mother's blog who is  very talented at dealing with trauma and helping her adopted/traumatized children heal.  She is very honest about how difficult it can be on days to keep fighting the good fight, and I respect and appreciate her honesty SO much. 

Motherhood is the best job on the planet, and I wouldn't trade it for anything, but there are days when even the staunchest of moms need a break.  (Or a marguerita, and good book, and a chair on the beach! :-) 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Frugal Friday~

“I believe that thrift is essential to well-ordered living.”
--John D. Rockefeller

Doing your own Home Improvement Projects
When I was a kid, I really admired my grandmothers- they could do everything from drive a tractor to sew a quilt.  I've always tried to be as self sufficient as they were, but I usually fall short!

This week's opportunity to be frugal falls under the heading of Home Improvement.  Spring is sneaking up on me, (actually it's HERE)  and I need to get these winter projects complete before all the busy spring activities descend upon us.

This week I'm repainting the bedrooms, covering up all the marks, and filling up dart holes (?!  What were those boys thinking?)  Because painting is one of the few home improvement skills that I feel comfortable with, we save money by doing it ourselves instead of hiring someone to do it.  I love painting projects because the improvements are so visible, and I can do them without any help.  (the control freak in me appreciates that!)

Better get going- I'm burning daylight!