*A Christmas Story*

This is David’s first Christmas home. His first Christmas that he woke up in his own bed in his own room. His first Christmas carried down the stairs by a daddy of his own. His first Christmas to open gifts bought specifically with him in mind.

We have a family tradition of opening one gift on Christmas Eve. I placed the presents from my mom under the tree last night and the kiddos all picked one out. David was a little unsure at first about opening his gift – he was very hesitant about ripping the paper. He finally got to it after watching the other kids and us telling him to “Tear it! Make a mess!”.

He opened the paper to find a super cute outfit – a pair of pants and a button down shirt. While this mama was already thinking ahead to how handsome he’ll look in it – it’s not the type of gift for a child to generally get super excited over. David though, opened it, and screamed “CHRISTMAS!!!!” and literally shook with excitement.

Pure, simple, unadulterated joy. Merry Christmas David, Merry Christmas indeed. We are so lucky to have your innocent spirit in our family. What a gift you are.

 

 

 

 

Do you have room at your table for one more? If not, do you have a couple dollars to spare? Please visit reecesrainbow.org and meet the children who, just like David was, are waiting for their family to come. Even the smallest donation to a child can make it easier for a family to say “yes” to bringing them home.

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You Say You’re Pro-Life – But Are You Really?

I don’t do politics. Politics is ugly. Especially this election, yeesh. It seems, that one of the major divisive talking points is the pro-choice vs pro-life argument. The more and more rhetoric I hear, I want to ask you (challenge you even) Pro-Lifer, are you truly truly pro-life or are you simply anti-abortion?

What happens when this child you fought to be born needs routine well checks and immunizations and their parents need help affording it? What happens when the child turns out to have more complex medical needs like Down Syndrome, congenital heart defect, or osteogenesis imperfecta? Are you supporting programs like Medicaid? Are you supporting or contributing to local doctors who provide free or reduced services for low income families? You should be. Access to healthcare greatly increases one’s quality of life. And you said you were pro life.

What happens when this child you fought to be born grows into a toddler, a child, a teen. What happens when their family is struggling to simply put food on the table? Do you support such programs like SNAP and WIC that help these families? Please don’t spout retorts like “That system is just full of fraud”. Nerp. Did you know that SNAP fraud has decreased by 3/4 in the past 10 years? The fraud/misuse rate is currently around 3%. Which means 97% of the funds used go exactly where they should – to feed families. You should be supporting these because you simply need food to live. And you said you were pro life.

What happens when this child is school aged? Are you asking how you can support this child at this stage in their life? You could ask a local underfunded school for a list of supplies they are short on. It doesn’t have to be a new laptop – crayons go on sale for .25 a box at back to school time. Spend $2 and take in some crayons. Do you have a special talent or skill? Could you offer tutoring services?  Could you offer assistance to the PTO? Laminate some things for a teacher so they can focus on actual instruction. Make sure this child is equipped with the tools they need to succeed. Because education, especially to an under privileged child, can be a life changer. And you said you were pro life.

What happens when that child that you fought to be born, IS born, and then abandoned. This is going to be my longest point, I can already tell, because this is something that’s very important to me – bear with me. What. Are. You. Doing. Then? I have seen, smelled, heard, and felt unwanted, abandoned children. It is horrific. 

mogolino

Children from Mogolino, a Bulgarian orphanage

We are a secular family. However, I grew up in religious, private schools. I know what the Bible says. If you identify as a Christian and you are not advocating for orphans, YOU are a hypocrite. I’m going to venture to say adoption is at the core of the New Testament. We see adoption mentioned as the means to your salvation in Galatians, Ephesians, Romans, etc. John 14:18 says “I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you.” It’s more than clear that one of the groups that Jesus implored his followers to care for the most – is children.  I want to share this beautiful girl with you. Her name is Wren. wren She might look like a baby. She was 6. She was born with those beautiful almond shaped eyes that signify Down Syndrome and for her, it was a death sentence. We tried to add her onto our adoption, knowing she didn’t have much time, but someone had already committed to her. Her mama was racing to her as fast as she could – and there just wasn’t enough time. Wren died without ever being brought home. She starved to death in a Bulgarian orphanage. Where were you, pro-lifer, when she took her last breath? WHERE WERE YOU? This is your idea of ‘pro-life’?  No. I won’t accept that. What happened to Wren (and she’s not an exception, this happens everyday) was 100% preventable and a crime against humanity. We failed her. Please learn her name. Please help me try to prevent this fate from happening to another child. Please remember her. HER NAME IS WREN. Did you know that if just *one* family in each church adopted a child, our orphan crisis would be over? Over. Is that family you? That’s awesome. Please tell me. Tell me so I can support your adoption. Can I buy your t-shirt, cookies, hairbows, whatever you’re selling to fundraise? Is that family not you? That’s perfectly fine. Not everyone is led to adopt. If you’re not, you can still support the families that are. You can share profiles of desperately waiting children (go to reecesrainbow.org and pick someone to advocate for, easy peasy). Adoption IS redemption. Adoption for some children is the difference between literal life and death, like my friend Ryan (Saving Baby Ryan).

ryan

There is approximately a year’s difference between these pictures. Incredible what a year of food, healthcare, and love can do.

 

Ryan is also from Bulgaria. Ryan was about 9 lbs at 7 years old. Nine. Pounds. when he came home about a year ago. Are you advocating for children like Wren and Ryan? You should be. BECAUSE YOU SAID YOU WERE PRO-LIFE.

 

What happens when that child you fought to be born has aged through adulthood and is now nearing the end of their life? Are you visiting with them? Are you writing down your grandmother’s recipes so she knows they’ll live on? Are you having those tough conversations so you ensure their final moments are carried out to their wishes and with dignity? You should be. Because you said you were pro-life.

 

This statement might earn me some side eyes from some of my friends – but I want to be pro-life. Like THIS. I want to care for people from the beginning of their life to the end. I want to remember that life is a fluid stream – it’s not a singular event. When that child is born, that is when our responsibility to that child begins. Not ends. That’s the beginning of their story. If your idea of ‘pro-life’ encompasses the child from the moment of conception to birth…I’m gonna need you to take off that ‘pro-life’ sash you so proudly wear about. I need you to hand it back over. You’re not pro-life, you’re just anti-abortion.

 

 

 

*This is an added note as of Monday evening. This piece was never (and is still not) intended to be a stance on abortion. If that is all you got out of this, then I fear you have missed the point entirely. I’m simply asking you to spend a few minutes in introspection. If you do consider yourself “pro-life” – are you living it? If your answer to that is an honest yes, then to you, I say “thank you” for working to better the lives of people around you, at all stages of life. Please continue to be a positive example. If your answer is “Well perhaps I could work harder at this”, then to you, I say “I appreciate your honesty and even the smallest steps are steps in the right direction”.

 

 

 

*Catching Up*

*whew*

We’ve had a lot of progress in our process lately and we’ve been so busy with paperwork, paperwork, and more paperwork, this blog has fallen to the wayside.

A quick update and I will come through and add more details later: we submitted our 800a to USCIS and it was received on Oct 7th. Because we’re overseas, our fingerprints went with it and we didn’t have to wait for the biometric appointment. We received USCIS approval Oct 27th. Our dossier submission fees have been submitted (ouch!) and our home study should be in country being translated right now!

So now we’re waiting…and waiting…and waiting for invitation to travel. I know we most likely won’t hear anything until after the new year – but I can still hope! There’s no rhyme or reason why USCIS only took 20 days so maybe we’ll continue having good luck.

*Waiting to Exhale*

Have you ever been “waiting to exhale” and not even realized it?

I was. My husband and I stayed up almost the entire night before our homestudy. I ended up getting 4 hours of sleep, he only got about 2. We wanted everything to be perfect. All of our friends that have “been there, done that” told us until they were blue in the face, “you don’t have to be able to pass a white glove test!”. Logically, I knew they were right but the other side of me was in the kitchen, pulling out my stove and cleaning the floor under it.

Turns out those friends were right and everything went just fine (or so we think!). Our case worker spent only a very small time looking around – he wanted to see where we thought our new child would sleep, any play areas, things like that. He did not though, request to see under the stove 🙂

At the end, he shook our hands, walked out the door, and this huge, massive weight was lifted from my shoulders. Completing the home visit was a HUGE step. We of course need the home study to submit to USCIS and also, a lot of the grants we are hoping to apply for require a completed home study.

So for now, we’re letting ourselves dream a bit of the future and think of things we might need on our pickup trip. One thing we know we need is a bag for our stroller to hopefully prevent it to get damaged on the flight. We found a brand specific one for $100 and then a generic option for $25. We’re hoping this one works with our stroller (a City Select double)…it’s a bit of a shot in the dark but worth it to potentially save some money!

Hello world!

We have SO much information swirling around right now – mountains of paperwork, deadlines, country hiatuses, social workers, home studies – and the list keeps growing! I wanted to start this blog to personally be able to go back and reflect on the process but also a way (when we let the cat out of the bag), for our family and friends to be able to peek in and see where we are with the process.

Today I spoke with the agency that will be doing our home study. She made it very clear to expect paperwork, paperwork, and then more paperwork. Bulgaria (like many European countries) takes a 6 week hiatus in the summer so we’re going to be pushing through and attempting to get everything as close to completed before then that we can. I anticipate the backlog after that will be huge. The very first thing we need to do is basically ask permission from Germany to adopt a child from another country and bring them here. This seems to be a bit of a formality since neither of us are German, just here on military orders. She said she has never seen it be denied for service members/US government contractors so let’s hope that don’t pick ours to be the one to deny! I keep reminding myself to take baby steps…fill a bit in on the paperwork at a time, organize one cabinet at a time for our home study…and eventually, we’ll be where we need to be!