May 18, 2013
We had visits from both of my parents (first my dad, then my mom) at the end of April and beginning of May, and the timing was really perfect. I’d been feeling a bit lonely, and Matt’s semester was approaching its end but not quite close enough that we could really feel it yet. Plus Miranda’s third birthday fell right in the middle of their visits. This is the first year she’s really understood about her birthday and been excited for it, so it was really special to her to have visitors here around her day.
Actually, we’ve celebrated it as more of a “birthday season.” Miranda gets overwhelmed with too many gifts all at once, but she loves having one or two special things per day spread out over a longer period of time. Both she and CaiQun have been enjoying their new train set pieces.
They are also very into arts and crafts right now, and we have been blessed with an abundance of stickers, glitter glue, and other art supplies!
But it’s not all about the gifts! We also had fun just celebrating Miranda’s birthday and had some great times with both of my parents while they were here. My dad and I went out for ice cream with the girls on Miranda’s special day, and we frosted and decorated cupcakes together. Sorry for the lack of photos of that…I was rather involved in the frosting and decorating process! The girls enjoyed a lunch of french fries and ketchup and clementines, at Miranda’s request, and we went out for dinner at our favorite Chinese restaurant in town. My dad loves to eat at different restaurants, so we went out more while he was here than we usually do in the course of a month! Here’s CaiQun rocking the chopsticks.
The girls also had a lot of fun just playing at home with my dad. He was here for about a week, so it was a nice, long visit with him!
The girls enjoyed playing with Magna tiles with him…
…and we played outside with sidewalk chalk…
…and reading books is always a favorite activity around our house!
We were also blessed with some nice weather, so we went to the park and walked and played one day.
My dad gave Miranda two classic games – Candyland and Chutes and Ladders - for her birthday, and one day he attempted to teach her how to play Candyland. However, she was insistent that looking for a square that “matched” meant that her blue person could only stand on blue squares, that those cards were just a meaningless accessory. I think we’ll try again in a few months
About an hour and a half after my dad left to head back to Baltimore, my mom arrived. One night she and I took the girls out to run an errand. Unbeknownst to us, Miranda had brought a sheet of her new stickers with us, and when we parked and opened the back doors of the car to get the girls out, this is what she looked like.
According to her, having stickers on your eyes helps keep you from “throw-up-ing.” How this works or why she was at risk for “throw-up-ing” at that time, I have no idea, but I guess I’ll just be thankful her home remedy was a success!
For another interesting look, check out this photo of the girls at the grad students’ open studio night that weekend. They chose their own outfits.
We also enjoyed some time at home with my mom, though. We are a book-loving family
Our visit with her went by pretty quickly, but we’re always thankful for time with our families when we get it. Living far away from everyone in both of our families, it doesn’t happen as often as any of us would like, but we enjoy what time together we have.
Even CaiQun seemed to enjoy both of my parents. I wasn’t sure how she would do with their visits. She’s a lot more comfortable with people coming to our house now, but they would be the first overnight guests we’ve had since we came home from China, and I didn’t know if she would remember my mom from our trip to China or not. She warmed up to both of them pretty quickly and was happy to play with them and interact, though she definitely still knew that Matt and I were dad and mom – really the best scenario we could have hoped for!
And now I am mom to a wonderful three-year-old! The time has flown by, and I’m sure that will continue. I’m so thankful for my little Miranda Grace (though she now interrupts when I refer to her that way to inform me, “Mom, I am big Miranda Grace now”) and the privilege of being her mother.
May 14, 2013
Today I was faced with a classic mothering dilemma. The girls and I had just returned from our regular shopping trip to Aldi and HyVee. As usual, I was putting away our groceries, and the girls were “helping.” I failed to realize that Miranda was attempting to lift our 4 lb. bag of sugar out of its grocery bag until she announced, “Mommy, I spilled some sugar on the floor.” And she had. Apparently the bag had ripped as she pulled it up by its top, spilling a pile of sugar into the grocery bag and more onto the surrounding floor.
I was milliseconds away from announcing that I would be putting the groceries away by myself from now on when I realized how ridiculous and counter-productive that would be. Yes, in the short term, it would (probably) save me from sweeping up some messes and sitting everyone down on the floor so I could wipe off bare feet that had picked up hundreds of granules of sugar from the floor. However, at this point, my girls LOVE to help.
Whether it’s unloading the dishwasher, mixing ingredients together in a bowl, carrying things out to the car, making cards for people, or folding laundry, they love to be included and be affirmed as being helpful. It is so incredibly sweet. In the long run, it will probably even be helpful for me! My hope is that it will definitely be helpful to them as they grow into young women themselves. Some day these little girls of mine will be women, likely wives and likely mothers. Hopefully these years I have with them in the interim will be good preparation for those times. I want them to know how to cook, how to unload the dishwasher and do laundry, and how to navigate their way through numerous other household tasks. I also want to cultivate in them a good work ethic. And I want them to find joy in their work, the way they do now. God forbid I crush that joy by insisting upon a standard they could not possibly reach or banishing them from the activities in which I am engaged. Come on in, my girls, and if we spill some milk – or sugar – along the way, so be it.
May 12, 2013
I have a lot of catching up to do here! Coming (hopefully) soon – photos from my dad’s and my mom’s visits, general updates on life, and a post about Madeleine CaiQun’s name and what we call her. But for now…I’ll share with you some tidbits about my Mother’s Day today
CaiQun was awake a little after 7:00, so I got up with her. For those of you wondering why Matt did not get up and let me sleep in…well, let’s just say that that’s not as rare for me as it is for most moms. Matt actually gets up with our early riser much more frequently than I do. Perhaps that is a growth area for me. We’re still working out our sleep and wake schedules. And of course, I expect all of that may change a bit with summer coming. We shall see…
Anyway, I got to give CaiQun her bottle and have some one-on-one time with her early this morning. Then my friend Liz took me out for breakfast (all by myself!). Matt and the girls met me at church, and toward the end of the gathering, we dedicated CaiQun, along with many other families in our church who were dedicating their children. Basically, we were publicly committing to teach our children about God and live our lives in line with His Word and pray that our children will also follow Him, and the rest of the church body committed to helping us to do so. It was a sweet time…and many people took photos, but I don’t have any of them yet! Hopefully soon
After the church gathering, it’s always a mad dash to get the girls home, fed, and tucked in for their naps. Sunday afternoons are prime meltdown time, so it’s always a relief to get through lunch and get both little ones settled in their beds. Matt and I chatted while they napped, and he did some sketching while I read to him. We have been reading books together for years – before traveling to China, we’d been reading through Adoption Parenting: Creating a Toolbox, Building Connections, and we never got started on anything new when we got home, so last night we decided we’d read through some Sherlock Holmes stories. We’re mid-way through our second so far and enjoying them
This evening we made a simple meal, and after dinner Matt got out our new chairs for our back yard, courtesy of my dad. The girls think they’re just about the greatest thing ever.
(Please excuse the shirt-less-ness. With two small children, if the meal has potential to stain, their shirts come off. I realized I needed to specify the parameters of this rule, though, when one night this week we had a friend over for the evening, and when I told the girls they needed to take their shirts off, Miranda went up to our friend and announced, “Miss Jaylyn, time to take your shirt off!” Thankfully, Miss Jaylyn was amused!)
We, of course, also enjoyed ice cream this evening – my favorite treat
And Matt and the girls made me a sweet book…
…full of vital information about my family members.
After bath time, we got the girls tucked into their beds, and now we’re just hanging out
All in all, it was a day much like many other days at our house, with just a few special touches - but I think that’s a good thing. I don’t want my “ideal day” to be vastly different than my regular routine days. I like spending time with Matt. I like spending time with my girls. And getting to do both of those things today was good
May 6, 2013
On this day, 14 years ago, Matt and I began dating. While we celebrate the anniversary of our wedding with more intensity, we have always acknowledged this day and enjoyed celebrating it, as well. Generally that has meant a nice dinner out and some sweet reminiscing.
However, when your finances are still recovering from adoption travel expenses and you’ve only been home from China for a couple months with your little one, you adjust This is what romance looks like when you’re poor and don’t feel comfortable leaving your baby in anyone else’s care yet!
Fine china, home-made risotto, grapes, wine, flowers, and a dinner for two + two.
And Matt wrote a sweet post here that includes some past sketches of me that he’s done…a bit of reminiscing after all
May 2, 2013
We’ve been busy since my last update!
My dad arrived last Thursday evening and has been here for the past week, meeting our little Madeleine CaiQun and just hanging out with us for a visit. He’ll head back to Baltimore this evening, and my mom will arrive for a long weekend. It’s been so nice to have this time with my dad. We hadn’t seen him since Christmas, and both of the girls have really enjoyed his time with us. And we’re looking forward to seeing my mom again this evening, too!
Also, I am now the mother of a THREE-year-old, as Tuesday was Miranda’s third birthday.
Photos and more details to come soon For now just an update to let you know that we are still alive…just enjoying our time with my dad!
And a follow-up note to my last post. I shared what I wrote there because I want to be real – this life is not all sunshine and roses. There are challenges to this phase of life, and there are hard days, and that, for me, is what those days often look like. However, the hard days are not the norm. Overall, we are doing well. I enjoy my time with Matt and my girls. My friend Jill and I are studying the life of Jesus together, and I’m learning and feeling refreshed by that. I am blessed beyond measure, and though there are hard, challenging times, most of the time I so appreciate all that I have and am enjoying these times!
April 23, 2013
There is sometimes an undercurrent of pervasive loneliness to my days. Often times I don’t blog on my bad days. Who wants to hear – or read – whining? But it is sometimes on our bad days that we feel things most deeply. It was during what was probably the darkest period of my life that I wrote the most - nearly daily outpourings from my soul’s efforts to sort through this life.
I don’t think this is a dark season. In fact, this season is full of blessings and intense joys. When I think back to the course my life was on 7 or 8 years ago, I can hardly believe that this life is now mine. God has lavished His grace upon me. During that dark time, I desperately wanted to be a mother and yet couldn’t. It was not that we were struggling with infertility but rather that the circumstances in which we were living were such that we could not see ourselves able to have children and raise them well. And so, if they had come along, we would have welcomed them gladly, but we did not feel that we could in good conscience, attempt to bring any children into the world at that time…and it shook me to the core, the reality that we might never get beyond that place, the questions about who I was, about what my role in this world was, about who God was. And faithful as always, God led me through those questions, through those doubts. He brought some amazing women alongside me to help me walk through them, and He brought me to a place where I was “okay.” And around that same time, other things, external, circumstantial factors began to change, and slowly, it began to seem as if we might someday be in a place in which we’d feel we could parent children. And now, today, I am the mother to two beautiful girls. Grace, glorious grace. O, praise the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead.
And yet…there are still those days. I’m not sure the particulars matter – less than ideal circumstances exacerbated by my own poor responses. On days like that, what hits me hardest is the sense of loneliness – the compounding of a sense of distance in my relationships with my girls, a lack of deep unity with Matt, a lack of fellowship with others who are in a similar place (or even those who aren’t), and generally not feeling close to my God. It can be deeply disheartening.
But the mercies of God are new every morning.
And as I write, Mumford and Sons sing in the background.
And there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.
April 21, 2013
Last night I had the privilege of traveling to Kansas City with several friends and seeing the STUCK documentary. The film shows children living in orphanages around the world – stuck there, languishing without access to clean water, sufficient food, adequate medical care, and the love and care of a family. It also follows families who are in the midst of the adoption process, working to get their children home. In the juxtaposition, you see some of the failures of the system that we as a world have created for our most vulnerable children. Even after children are matched with families, they can spend years in orphanages until their parents receive the final approvals to bring them home. And while there are approximately 13 million orphans in our world today, in 2011, we in the United States adopted a total of about 50,500 children from the US foster care system and about 9,300 children from around the world. What do we think is happening to the rest of those children?
Many are living in institutional care – orphanages, adult mental institutions, and the like. This is not a solution. As we prepared to adopt from China, one statistic we heard over and over again was that for every 3 months our child spent in an institution, we should expect a 1 month delay in her development across the board – physical growth, motor skills, language, social skills, etc. Over time, those delays are huge and can have significant long-term ramifications.
Do you know that there is actually a medical term used to capture some of these effects? It’s called failure to thrive. Brandon Hatmaker, a pastor who has visited orphanages and adopted children from overseas, writes, “It’s nearly impossible to tell the age of many orphaned children at most international orphanages. Evaluating height, weight, emotional maturity, or even thought development all lead to inaccurate conclusions. All can be impacted negatively.” We see this in the STUCK documentary, as one of the opening scenes shows an adorable little boy kicking a ball around and talking with an interviewer about his hopes and dreams for his life. When asked his age, he responds that he is 13; he looks like he is about 7. He says that he would like to study mathematics and be a doctor when he gets older. Six months after his last interview, he disappeared from his orphanage. Where do you think he went? How likely do you think it is that he is on his path to becoming a doctor? Even in the United States, with our various social welfare programs, over half of the children who aged out of our foster care system in 2008 have subsequently experienced at least one episode of homelessness. What do you think happens in other countries? Prostitution, crime and imprisonment, and suicide are all likely outcomes. How is it okay that we have consigned millions of children to live out their lives in a place that systematically strips them of any possibility of a life of hope?
The producers of STUCK are urging the United States government to take the lead in reforming adoption procedures and asking other countries to do the same. According to the film, the average international adoption process takes 896 days (almost 2.5 years) and costs $28,000. The amount of money required is a major reason that many families do not consider adopting. The long timeframe is incredibly hard for prospective parents and leaves children sitting in orphanages – often failing to thrive - for months or years after they are matched with families. It is not acceptable that in today’s world, millions of children live out their days in institutions.
I encourage you to check out the trailer, take the time to watch this film and think about the ideas it presents. Consider signing the petition. If you’re in the Washington D.C. area, consider attending the march on Friday, May 17. Consider adopting a child or contributing financially to someone else who is doing so.
April 18, 2013
Today marks 2 months that Madeleine CaiQun has been with us. It’s been quite a ride so far, and we’re so grateful to be a family of four
I’ve written a lot about the transition for us as a family, CaiQun’s transition, Miranda’s transition, etc., but tonight I am going to share some of what the transition for me has been like, going from mom-to-one to mom-to-two and doing so in these specific circumstances.
I feel like I have become, much more now than I was before, “just mom.” What I mean by that is that my life is very much occupied by my kiddos. I have less time, energy, and money for things outside of our family life, and whether we’re home or out and about, my girls occupy most of my time and energy. Being mom-to-two requires a lot more of me than being mom-to-one did. I am exhausted most nights by the time I go to bed.
I actually think it’s more fun. I love having both of them around so much. And there’s just more going on – more activity, more to observe, more to teach, more to do. I enjoy that.
Of course, one reason there’s more to teach and more to do is that my two girls quite frequently irritate one another. Spending time with just one of them is a piece of cake – each of them is very sweet, generally willing to go along with what I ask them to do, and they’re happy and engaging. However, they are significantly less willing to go along with each other when they’re together. Honestly, for two girls fairly close in age who have only been sisters for two months, I think they get along remarkably well. Their faces light up when they see each other, and they have a very sweet bond already, but of course they have their moments. Inevitably their desires come into conflict, which creates frustration for them (and sometimes for me). Those are my prime teaching moments these days. I am actually incredibly thankful for those moments. Both girls need to learn about kindness, about sharing, about loving others when it doesn’t come easily, and this is the perfect context. The reason each is so easy to spend time with one-on-one is not because they are perfect children but moreso that during those times, neither one experiences much frustration or hardship. Of course they seem sweet and easygoing. When things are going my way, I give that impression, too. It’s when things aren’t going our way that all of us exhibit our true character, and my girls are no different. These are my opportunities to teach them about the character traits I hope they will develop and to point out to them their own brokenness and need for God. I am thankful for that, though it is exhausting at times.
In general, I really enjoy our times at home together. Matt has a pretty full teaching schedule this semester, so the girls and I are on our own for a lot of the week, and I honestly enjoy that time with them. I love days like today when we snuggle together on Miranda’s bed and read book after book after book. I love pulling chairs up to the counter and having them “help” me cook – they’ve gotten very good at dumping ingredients into the crock pot. I love that Miranda is starting to engage with the world around her and the books we read in deeper ways, and we get to have real conversations about all of those things. I love helping CaiQun learn English and watching her develop both her language and her motor skills. Though this is certainly not the most significant blessing, I love living life primarily in yoga pants.
There are times, though, when I would appreciate more adult conversation. The girls and I have a lot of conversations about things like what might be an appropriate way to ask for something. CaiQun generally attempts a whine before using her “help” sign, and Miranda is more likely to yell to me that she needs more chocolate milk than she is to ask politely whether she may have more. We’re working on it…but that’s where we’re at in this stage of life.
On a related note, I miss having time with friends and interacting with other adults. This has definitely been the hardest part of the transition for me. As a mom-to-one, I could take Miranda with me to most things I wanted to do. As long as I packed some books or play dough or art supplies for her, she was more than happy to accompany me on coffee dates or meals out with friends, and we could fairly easily go to art shows around town. It’s a bit more difficult with two kids. Not only do your chances of a child needing something from you double simply by virtue of there now being two of them, but there is also the synergy of their interactions with each other being quite likely to create some agitation. Running errands with both girls has been a fairly simple transition (though not totally without hiccups), but the outings that involve any type of social interactions are harder. I go out less these days, and when I do go out, I have fewer interactions and often don’t really feel like I’m a part of what’s going on with everyone else. Of course, most of our outings are primarily with people who don’t have small children, which plays into that dynamic. Sometimes it works better than others, and it’s not always predictable. We’re doing what we can, but this part of the change in our lives is still the hardest for me.
And along with that, I am learning that I am more selfish than I thought. Like I said above, it’s when things don’t go our way that we show our true character, and I have not handled the hard times as well as I would have hoped. The grace of God that I describe to my girls in their hard times is the same grace that I need to fall on, too.
And God, in His grace, is giving me other joys. In particular, I am excited about starting to homeschool my girls. I’ll start doing pre-school with Miranda this fall and CaiQun the next. Miranda is so ready for it. She already knows much of what you would hope a child would know at the end of their time in pre-school, though her fine motor skills (i.e. writing) are obviously not yet kindergarten-ready. I love the conversations we’ve been having lately about her experiences and her pretend play and about the books we’ve been reading, and I can’t wait to get into more and more of that. She and I have also really been enjoying learning Bible verses together, and I think she’ll look forward to doing a special time of “school” with me. I’ve started researching curriculum choices, and I need to get Matt’s input before choosing a direction. I’m really excited for it. And I’m excited to continue to work with CaiQun on her learning and growing. The people we’ve met with from First Steps have already given me some ideas of more things I can do to help her continue to develop, and I’m excited to begin implementing those and to be intentionally working with her on English acquisition and being able to express herself more fully.
I enjoyed Miranda as a baby, and I’ve enjoyed (and am enjoying) this toddler phase, but I am also so excited about the increasing depth of conversations with my kids, explaining more and more to them, investigating questions together, and discussing ideas. Homeschool pre-school will be just the beginning, and I’m excited for that.
In spite of its demands and challenges, I am very much enjoying this stage of being mom-to-two. It really is a stage of being “just mom.” I’m not able to do much beyond that. But this is where God has called me. This is where He has placed me and the people in whose path He has put me. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a mom to both Miranda and Madeleine CaiQun, and I want to honor Him in how I do that.
April 11, 2013
I haven’t had a lot of time to write lately, meaning I now have many things about which I could update you! I thought I’d post a few random, miscellaneous tidbits tonight and come back later for some more in-depth posts about specific topics, hopefully within the next few days
First, most notable in our day-to-day lives, Miranda is now pacifier-free (as is CaiQun, though that’s less notable). I realize that Miranda is comparatively old to have a pacifier, and maybe I’ll get some judgment here for revealing that we’ve still allowed her to have it until now, but I want to be real, so I decided to share anyway. In the past, when we’ve attempted to move away from it, we’ve always experienced some early success, followed by dramatic crashing and burning. She hasn’t used them other than for naps and night-time sleep in quite a while, but those strongholds remained. We knew it was time to move beyond them, though, and life feels relatively stable right now, so it seemed like the right time. We tackled naps first and then bedtime about a week later. We had great success with naps – one day of no sleep, followed by consistent naps with minimal fussing. Bedtime has been much more difficult, and that’s been really hard for all of us, but we’re making significant progress. And as an added bonus, both girls have slept through the night in their own beds for the past 2 nights in a row! (This is an anomoly in our house. We don’t really mind, and thus we haven’t addressed it, but it’s still nice to get some full nights of uninterrupted sleep!)
Also of note, we found out last week that CaiQun qualifies (barely) for services through our state’s early intervention program, First Steps. I’m somewhat ambivalent about that but mostly pleased. Overall I think she’s making great progress in developing her motor skills and picking up English (she has over 15 words that she uses regularly and independently now and has started making 2-word combinations), and she really is adjusting well to life here. But the reality is still that she is behind where other kids her age are at developmentally. We think that’s primarily due to her spending the beginnings of her life in an institution, and we think she can catch up, but we want to make sure we’re doing all that we can to help her grow and develop. I’ll meet with a woman from the First Steps program next week to make a plan for what we want to work on over the next few months.
Just look at this awesome hair – what a cutie she is
Within the past week or two, I’ve started teaching Miranda some Bible verses. She’s been able to memorize sizable chunks of songs for quite a while now, and I realized one day that I could also be using this optimal memorization time to teach her some Truth. To be completely honest, I was also running out of lunch-time conversation topics. Our girls take forever to consume a meal, and I was having trouble maintaining conversation with two children under the age of three for our entire time at the table. Then my temptation is to pull up Facebook or Google Reader on my phone and zone out instead of really taking that time with my girls. I ordered a book of Bible verses that I saw listed on another adoptive mom’s blog, and Miranda loves it, and CaiQun is content to look at it with us. So far Miranda and I have memorized the “A” and “B” verses, and she loves reading the stories that go along with them. I’m really thankful we’ve been able to do this – it’s giving us more quality time and conversations, and my girls (and I) are being exposed to more Truth throughout the day.
The “B” verse is “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). Miranda has very much internalized the contrast between a peacemaker and a troublemaker, and we’ve had a lot of conversations about what it looks like to be a peacemaker in various situations – most often related to her relationship with her sister, of course! Overall, they’re continuing to do really well
Yesterday I took both girls to see our pediatrician. In the last month + 6 days, CaiQun has grown 1.5 inches and gained 2 lbs. 7 oz. That’s amazing, my friends. I’m so happy that she’s getting the nutrition she needs and has been able to start getting caught up on her growth. We’re also getting her caught up on her immunizations, so she got 6 shots yesterday. Poor girl. She’s been feverish and lethargic today, but luckily we didn’t have anywhere we needed to be all day, so she could snooze on my lap when she needed to and take a long nap this afternoon. I’m hoping she wakes up feeling better in the morning.
Miranda also seems to be going through a growth spurt. It feels so strange to me to be filling her closet with size 3T clothes. I remember when she weighed less than 8 pounds! She’s growing into such a thoughtful, amazing big girl, though. I love this life, being a mom to her and Madeleine CaiQun. We get to do so many fun things these days. Tonight we built a train track and drove our trains all around it and really enjoyed ourselves.
And to end on something of a light note…I ate the last of my Skittles from China today. Now I want to go back.
April 4, 2013
To be honest…
…we are doing so much better than I thought we would be at this point in time. Before we traveled to China, if you had asked me where I hoped we would be 6 months after returning home with CaiQun, I would have described something like this. And that is glorious. For real. Praise God. It’s amazing.
And it raises a whole different set of questions than the ones I thought we’d be facing right now.
First and foremost in my mind has been this one – to go back to China and adopt another child soon or not?
In adopting from China, there is a program through which you can adopt a second child with a copy of your original dossier (with a few very minor updates). However, you have to do it quickly. Our updates to our dossier would have to be received and acknowledged in China by the anniversary of the date of our adoption of Madeleine CaiQun. And we’d only be eligible through this program to adopt certain children, ones China considers hard to place.
There has been a little girl on our agency’s waiting child page that I was so drawn to. I have been trying to stay away from that page. It’s full of children available for adoption right now. Talk about heart-wrenching. But someone posted a link to this girl’s profile, and I clicked on it, and there she was, and that night, I was talking with Matt about the possibility of our going back. For many of the children listed on that page, you don’t even have to have any paperwork at all completed in order to begin the process of adopting them. And no one is coming for them. These are precious little souls who need families - children who need a mom and a dad to tuck them in at night, to read them bedtime stories, to feed them, to love them. And they are alone.
To be honest, there are several reasons that it has been hard for me to write about our visit to CaiQun’s orphanage. You may recall that I said virtually nothing about it on the day of our visit. I could tell you about the standards of cleanliness, the number of children per room (or per crib). I could tell you about the temperature in the rooms the kids occupy. I could tell you about the size of the playroom and the number of toys it housed. I could offer my informed guesses about the staff-to-child ratios and the amount of food the children get. But does any of that matter? It’s an orphanage. The children there do not have families. And that’s what stands out to me from our visit to the orphanage. It was filled with souls of children who are unknown, unclaimed, and alone in the world. Would that somehow be okay if they had enough food to eat and educational toys with which to occupy their time?
And so, I dream of returning.
But my car is at its capacity - we need a minivan before we can add any more children to our family. And we’re pretty broke. Even our emergency savings fund all went toward adoption travel expenses.
But we have enough food to eat. And we have love to go around. And we have an extra bed and room for more.
And I have a retirement account we could empty to get some funds. And we’ll have an adoption tax credit coming next year. And the costs to adopt on a re-used dossier are thousands of dollars less than those for starting an adoption from scratch. And God provided the entirety of what we needed to pay all the costs associated with CaiQun’s adoption, so do I really doubt His ability to provide again?
The little girl who captured my heart has been matched with a family, and I am rejoicing. But there are more kiddos who need families.
To be honest, though, we’re not certain this is the right time in our lives, even if we had the financial resources. We know we’ll be adopting again, we’re just not sure when. If we re-used our dossier, given the timeframe, we’d almost definitely be adding a 3rd child under 4 years of age. Is that wise? Can I handle the days at home alone with 3 kiddos under the age of 4, doing home-school pre-school with one starting this fall, continuing to work a few hours a week, and obviously wanting to care for all of my children well? Can Matt handle the evenings and weekends with us and still have time and energy for being in the studio, for contemplation of deep ideas, for being an artist? Would we be cultivating a good dynamic with our kids to have so many so close in age? Do we want to have another biological child someday? If so, when, and how does that play into adoption decisions? How many kids do we want to have? How many can we really parent well?
And how many of those things really matter in the face of millions of kids alone in our world today and needing families?
To be honest, those are the questions I am pondering these days.