Saturday, December 31, 2011

365 days of despair leads to 306 days of Hope (and counting)

If you would have told me in March 2010 that in January of 2012 we would still be a family of two I would have been in denial.  I wouldn't have believed I'd have the strength to get there and certainly would not have believed I'd be hopeful, happy and honored to be there.

This is the second Christmas that has passed since we decided to have a child. But this Christmas was nothing like the one that preceded it. 

Yesterday I decided to clean out my closets: clothing, shoes, purses, coats, I've now stored away for the girls in Africa that need it way more than I do... but during this cleaning I found a bag, hidden away to keep me from remembering the days I believed I'd conceive a child. This is what the bag contained:

The dolls were gifts from us, as potential parents, to our baby boy or baby girl.  Soon after deciding to have a baby we visited Disney World and I couldn't resist this Mad Hatter doll (yes I have a full blown Alice in Wonderland obsession for those that don't know).  Months later I purchased the Minnie on sale at a store, just in case we had a girl.  I tucked them away in a bag that held two little t-shirts my mom gave me many years ago.  She found them and couldn't resist (who could blame her?) and the four items have been tucked away ever since.  The act of purchasing the dolls was, in part, a sign I was hopeful, but the bag hidden in the back of my closet was a sign of my despair.  I didn't want to look my "failure" in the eye.  I was sad, angry, bitter and afraid.

Finding these items triggered those emotions. I was immediately brought back to that dark place where baby items needed to be hidden away from plain sight. And then I remembered, I am hopeful. This Christmas was not sad. We have children's furniture in a beautiful orange bedroom and we look at it everyday.  So I brought these items downstairs and added them to the children's room. I don't know how they'll be used. Maybe the t-shirts will be used by an older girl to put on her baby dolls.  It doesn't matter how they will be used, what matters is that it all will be used and embraced by the children God will bless us with, and that is no longer an uncertainty.

This Christmas was also filled with amazing gifts that reminded us of the beautiful journey we are on... so here are a few of my African things (yes that was supposed to be sung to the tune of the Christmas song...):
An adoption frame from my husband. You can choose either way to put a picture of the child, which enables the quote to be read no matter what.
The inspiring quote in the frame.
A 'Love Africa' t-shirt from Sean.
The front of the beautiful Africa ornament from my parents.
The back of the ornament.
In the middle of reading there is no me without you, already read (and was so inspired by) from ashes to africa and can't wait to read MAMLITA!
A gift from my parents. Thought to be the very first board game ever created!
And part of the proceeds went to African aide.
From my in-laws.  A children's book in which every letter of the alphabet stands for something in Ethiopia, and it includes beautiful illustrations!
An Adoption Rocks hoodie from my parents via adoptionbug.com
A mousepad for my computer at work, from Sean.
Our shelves have become fuller.  In addition to those previously explained, we also added a "Joy" book from my in-laws and an Ethiopia coffee mug. (The mug's handle actually broke so it became decor and Sean got me a new one to take to work.)

Overall, it was a great Christmas and I truly believe 2012 will bring many blessings. At this point we are just waiting for our domestic home study to be complete. We met with the agency directors and "matchers" last week and after discussing our broad request one of the workers said, "So you have no idea what your family will look like.... how exciting!" My sentiments exactly :)

And Abram believed in the Lord and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith (Genesis 15:6)
Happy New Year! Looking forward to a year full of blessings, happiness, love and above all, FAITH!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Shop with a Purpose!

On facebook today, there are some giveaways through adoption sites for blogging and sharing.  This inspired me to not only share and blog about those giving away items but some of the other cool family fundraisers and non-profit organizations out there helping orphans and their forever families.
*Note: Most of these are not our fundraisers but still reputable and great causes!

ADOPTION BUG - Buying through our storefont (http://adoptionbug.com/Voorhies/) and purchasing one of our six designs does help us bring home our child(ren) in Ethiopia, but this site is great in many other ways!  This site was started by a couple who brought their little girl home from China in 2010.  They have so many great products, even for the little ones with sayings like "Sent From Heaven by way of Ethiopia" and "Special Delivery from Ethiopia."
     One of the designs I love that our storefront doesn't offer is The Heart in Africa t-shirt:
Heart in Africa
Although, thanks to my mom and sister, I have three other awesome t-shirts from our own storefront!

MY HAPPY SHIRTS - This amazing site was started by a couple at our agency.  For every shirt purchased My Happy Shirts purchases a shirt for an orphan in need! And you can order today and still have your order delivered by Christmas!  Just visit: http://myhappyshirts.com/  You can choose from a variety of categories (hobbies, professions and animals to name a few) and choose your "happy."  Here's an appropriate one for me:

JUST LOVE COFFEE - You can purchase ANY ITEM through our storefront:  https://justlovecoffee.com/about/beneficiary/voorhies/ and we get $5 per item.  This site only sells "the finest Fair Trade, Direct Trade, organic, and shade-grown coffee beans from the best growing regions around the world." And  a portion of EVERY cup of coffee they sell goes to someone that could use a helping hand.  In their first two years of business they donated over $200,000 to adopting families, non-profit organizations and the arts.  In addition to coffee, they sell apparel, music and cool coffee equipment.

MOSSY ROCK DESIGNS - 
http://www.etsy.com/shop/mossyrockdesigns This is a couple from our agency that makes BEAUTIFUL prints like this one:
Waiting for You 5x7 adoption print
All the proceeds go into their adoption fund - by purchasing you are helping them bring their daughter home from Ethiopia!  We will FOR SURE be purchasing from this site, but we want to wait until we know more about our little ones(s) before we choose from all the beautiful designs.

IKDKIDS - This is another couple from our agency fundraising for their adoption:
http://www.etsy.com/shop/lkdkids  They have a variety of beautiful and amazing products including handmade baby dolls:
Custom handmade Ethnic Rag Dolls
And right now, they are offering 15% off of your order as a holiday special!

SHOW HOPE - This non-profit organization was founded by Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife (also the founders of our adoption agency) This organization "mobilizes individuals and communities to meet the most pressing needs of orphans in distress by providing 1) homes for waiting children through adoption aid grants, and 2) life-saving medical care for orphans with special needs." Buying a product from http://store.showhope.org/ will not only help change the lives of children all over the world, but you can help raise awareness through their products as well! Right now you can receive 25% off of your order!
For other ways to help, visit:
http://store.showhope.org/sponsor

WORLD VISION - "World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice." Sean and I sponsor a beautiful little girl in Ethiopia through World Vision, as do others I know.  If you have children, think of making them part of the sponsorship as well, while they can write letters, draw pictures and pick out small gifts.
http://donate.worldvision.org/OA_HTML/ibeCZzpHome.jsp?a=b
And if you don't feel you can commit to a sponsorship, you can make a one time donation or give a gift to a child in need.

I could have written this post for days but hopefully one of these amazing sites will help you to give back during the holiday season!

A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.
Proverbs 22:9

Sunday, December 11, 2011

"I will not refuse to do the something that I can do."

We completed our last 12 hours of training this weekend - woohoo!  Getting close to being done :)

Most of our training on Saturday was dedicated to viewing and discussing a DVD featuring the "Trust Based Relational Interaction" program through Texas Christian University.  A four hour long instructional video did not sound inviting, but I cannot believe how valuable it really was!

http://www.child.tcu.edu/DVD%20sales.asp
Here are some of the key points, lessons and practices:
(note: the "adopted children" referred to are primarily those from the U.S. foster care system or, as the video states, "children from hard places.")

  • An adopted child's brain is different.
    • Early trauma affects neurotransmitters
    • Brain damage is also induced by a lack of the mother's touch
    • When a baby's needs are not met by typical crying, survival mode kicks in: manipulation, aggression and acting out
    • Change or lack of control is very scary!
  • Traditional discipline doesn't work
    • Punishment is ineffective
    • Many of these children are developmentally less than half their age
  • There is no quick fix
    • Love is not enough
    • We can't rush back to "regular life" after an adoption
    • Learning requires a lot of repitition
  • Find a Strong Support System
    • Good friends and family are not enough - we need to find "likeminded" people who understand our unique struggles
  • The child needs "felt safety"
    • Schedule regular snacks during the day (they need to know food is always available and eat well)
    • Give them plenty of fluids (these children have often been dehydrated)
    • Help them develop a good sleep pattern (which most have not had before)
    • Schedule physical activity every two hours
    • Play alongside the child
  • Keep a behavioral journal
  • Never make food a battle
  • Make the day predictable
    • Announce transitions
  • Share power
    • Allow some negotiation (the traditional parents are groaning here...)
  • Balance structure and nurture
    • Most parents emphasize one over the other
  • Connect to the child
    • Stop what we're doing and look the child in the eye when he/she wants to talk to us
    • Be approachable - voice, body language, tone, etc.
  • "Match" the child
    • Position body and voice like child's
  • Respect personal space
    • Let the child say no
    • Set a reasonable bar
  • Praise child often
    • Not only performance oriented but who they are
    • Give more praise for every correction
  • Encourage child to "use words"
    • These children need to be given their voices back
  • Follow through on promises
    • ALWAYS (they're used to broken promises)
  • Allow "re-dos" after negative behavior
    • They're learning positive behavior
  • Ask to see the "real child"
    • Most of them are masking who they are to survive
  • Use "time in" instead of "time out"
    • Time out will only delay bonding and attachment
    • Keep them near us - they can think about what they did wrong and discuss it with us
I know what most of you are thinking... "just wait!" because all of this will go out the window when a child comes into our home.  I am not naive nor do I think this is going to work perfectly or go smoothly, but I DO think it's vital for us to understand that we cannot parent as most parents do, and we need to do everything we can to understand this.  

I'm only one. But still, I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still, I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
-Edward Everett Hale

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Another Week, Another Post, Another Change

Yes, I said it... another change!  God has opened our hearts again to new possibilities.  I realize now this has been timed perfectly and had to be a gradual process. We have broadened our request so much over the last 10 months.  We started with only an Ethiopian infant, which soon turned into young siblings, which then changed to a toddler and a (possibly) older sibling.  Next our hearts were opened to public domestic adoption, and we had decided on one or two younger children, but now we are even considering older siblings (2 girls), even older than 10.

Our most recent change that is quite drastic, however, is the openness to private infant (domestic) adoption.  From the beginning of this journey, our hearts have been closed to this for two reasons: 1. Open adoptions scared us and 2. We bought into sensationalized stories about birth parents taking children away from adoptive parents after these children had been home for months, or even years.  Thanks to our training sessions and the amazing panel discussion we got to attend, we realized now we were misinformed!  We now understand how great open adoption is for everyone, especially the child, and we understand the actual laws when it comes to a private adoption.

We had a home study visit last night and after discussing this with our social worker, we are going to broaden our search to both public and private adoption.  We will make our profile book to be given to birth parents, but we will also continue to look for a "match" through public adoption.  We have now opened ourselves up to so many possibilities and we will let God reveal the details.

I guess this means I need to update our "Adoption Story."  I will not say it will not change again because God may still be working on us!

Out last training session is this weekend, and our social worker said our home study should be done by the end of this month!

What a great Christmas present!

After that, the wait will begin - no more paperwork, meetings, home inspections, or trainings.  Although that probably sounds great to most people, impatient me always does better with a task, so I am reminding myself that this is God's timing and this is not in my control.

And a great article (http://www.awaa.org/downloads/China/Gods_Will_for_Your_Wait.pdf) just happened to be emailed to me today about this very topic, just another reminder that God is with us every step of the way.

So I will"...determine to grow stronger, more effective, and more full of faith as [we] wait. It is, after all, a key part of God's intention."
-Paul Tripp