Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas!

It took a few days, but I finally have pictures to share of our family's first Christmas as a family of four.

As many of you know, however, we are actually a family of six.  Two of our precious children are not with us.  They are always in our hearts, but there are few tangible ways to memorialize them.  At Christmas, we remind ourselves of our "true" family of six and hang stockings for all of our children:

From left to right:  Jacob and Zachary (born and died March 14, 2008), Jon, me, Chelsea and our Joshua.

We took our children outside on Christmas Eve to enjoy a dusting of Christmas snow.  We assume this was Joshua's first experience being out in the snow.  He wasn't entirely happy with it, but didn't want to go inside, either!

After our Christmas eve festivities, our daughter Chelsea decided to begin hunting for Santa Claus, and her little brother joined them.  However, there was no Santa sighting.

On Christmas morning, our son woke first.  We were pleased with this, as we wanted to give him some time to himself.  However, even on Christmas, breakfast must come first.  Joshua still doesn't know that there is always food here, and he knows he should eat before he plays.

We couldn't have been more pleased to give Joshua his presents and watch him enjoy and examine each one.  

When my daughter woke up, she had a wonderful Christmas too.


(note the left leg - it's the right in the picture)

And then...

A lovely pink cast a day later.  She suffered a broken ankle while descending the stairs in our home to retrieve a Christmas present from her bed.  It is the first broken bone we've ever experienced.  Thankfully, she's been an amazing trooper and will have the cast off before the end of January.  It was a shock to an otherwise happy Christmas

Despite the unfortunate injury to our precious girl, we were exceedingly blessed to have our family of four this Christmas.  We rejoiced over his arrival even as we prayed for those who do not have parents and may never know the love and care of families.  

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

At last! Pictures!

Apparently, I can upload pictures in Google Chrome, but NOT in Internet Explorer!

Our little boy, dressed to leave Pleven:

Scared and unsure in his first hotel lobby...

Asleep in Mommy and Daddy's bed (after refusing the pack and play crib!)

After his first bath.  He did fairly well with it, and definitely needed it!

Talking with Daddy.

A small bit of sightseeing in Sofia; such a big day for a little boy who had never traveled much beyond his city block...

Fed, and fed, and fed...never hungry again!

"We're going to America?  Awesome!  Let's go now!"

After a fairly good plane ride, and a very long way....we're home.  And there's a lot to smile about at home:

Trying to get a picture of the two children, but Joshua is convinced that HE is the star!

Covered in juice!

This is what redemption looks like.  This is what it means to save a child from a dark place.  In spite of more dishes, more laundry, and a whole lot of doctor's appointments, it is worth it.  HE is worth it.

Thank you.  Thank you for helping us bring our son home.  Thank you for blessing our family.

Monday, December 3, 2012


Every time I try to upload a photograph, I get this error that says "server returned invalid response".  So, while I'd love to share photographs with you...for some unknown reason, I cannot.

Joshua has been home just three days.  He was not the sickest little boy in Pleven.  He is not the sickest little boy you will see.  He will not shock you with his condition.

For some, this means that he is "okay" and would have been better served in his country of birth.  It means that our choice to adopt him wasn't the "most needy".  He does not yet have a formal diagnosis.  He is not skeletal. 

For others, you see these tiny, sick, precious little ones and think, "If that is adoption, I cannot do it.  I am not prepared to parent a child like that."

I want you to know what even a reasonably healthy child brings to the table, and why even these healthier children cannot be raised in institutions and will not be accepted in their home countries.  Orphans are outcasts, and if you think about it, even in a very developed country like the US, we have a stigma against children without families (like children in foster care).  It is not nearly what it is elsewhere, but it exists.  In Bulgaria, I had not one but two people - people who are not affiliated with the business of adoption! - stop me and tell me how my son would never have a future in his country and that someday, he will thank us for removing him from the orphanage he lived in.  I had to smile and remind them that we felt equally blessed.

Our son has the worst diaper rash I have ever seen.  We will bring him to the doctor on the 6th to get this checked out. 

He screams when we put diaper rash cream on him.

He rocks his head rhythmically when he goes to sleep.

He does not speak.  He cries primitively when he doesn't get something he wants.  He throws food when he doesn't want it and arches his back and thrashes when we do something he doesn't prefer.

His teeth are atrocious; I doubt he's ever seen a toothbrush.

Although he is only six months younger than his sister, he is a full five inches shorter than she is and more than 15 pounds lighter.

He likely has a bacterial or parasitical infection on the back of his head that has never been treated. 

He cannot climb stairs.  He cannot feed himself.  He only recently learned to walk.  He barely chews and eats little more than purees and broths.  He drinks nothing but water and will not eat anything that isn't sweetened.

And this is a "healthy" child!  Trust me, there is more to come with him.  There is much we do not know.  We left Pleven with little more than an immunization record.  The rest is lost. 

This little boy has a mother who lives in a village near Pleven.  Thus, by definition, he is a social orphan.  This means that he has at least one living parent but she isn't parenting him.  According to court papers, she lives on about 102 Leva.  This is about $60 US per month.  Yes, Bulgaria is a cheaper country, but trust me, it would be nearly impossible to live on this money. 

I know his mother meant him no harm when she relinquished him.  She did not understand about the baby house in Pleven.  She simply lived near there and that was the orphanage that was close to her.  She signed papers to say that she understood he would be adopted and she had a year to contest this or reclaim him.  I don't know why she didn't except that she likely couldn't afford to and thought it would be best for him to remain there.  She was an older woman who had a nearly grown son, according to what we now know.  There is claim that she had mental illnesses and was in and out of institutions for treatment.  I do not know if this is true.  I don't know if he was ever visited by her or not.  The papers said he wasn't, but who knows?  I don't pretend to blindly believe all that is written.

What I do know is that a reasonably healthy little boy lived in a terrible orphanage and he is home with us.  "Reasonably healthy" doesn't mean healthy.  It doesn't mean what it means to most of us.  Reasonably healthy means he wasn't skeletal and he wasn't diagnosed with some sort of birth defect. 

His story is yet unwritten; we do not know what he will become.  But we know that his chances of becoming anything on his native soil were pitifully low.  Yes, he could have grown breathing beautiful Bulgarian air, enjoying his native language, but as the woman in the one hotel said to me, "He is marked."  (She pointed to her forehead)  "I am Bulgarian, and I will say that children from the 'special houses' [she meant orphanages], they have no future here.  It is a sad thing.  I wish it were not so."

Orphans are a social problem and it requires societal changes to encourage domestic families to care for the children and recognize their worth.  This is happening, but change is dreadfully slow.  For many, the changes are not happening fast enough and they are languishing in institutions without proper supports and services - even food, clean clothes, etc.  It is not about raining money into broken systems.  It is about changing the systems.  Until those systems change, children will live without the basics of life and will never realize their potential.  They may live in their native countries, but they will never really live.

Our son, and many other sons, will live.  Please pray for the families who pluck these children out of these places, and for the children who remain there.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

We got him!

So sorry we could not update sooner!

But on Monday, November 26th, 2012, at around noon in Bulgaria, we went to Pleven and got our little boy.

We drove from Sofia to Pleven on Monday morning in the nearly endless, thick fog through the Balkans and winding through the roads until we reached the orphanage.  There was a moment when we exited the car and I felt my breath catch, seeing that familar building again.

We waiting in the lobby area, unsure what would happen.  The facilitator who was with us this time was not the same as before.  His English was not as good and we were confused.  There was a brief handshake with the director and then we were alone, waiting. 

But then the elevator doors opened and we saw him.  And he saw us...and ran from his much-loved Baba and into my arms as if he remembered us.

There is so much more to much more to say, but for some reason I can't upload any more pictures!  Still, I didn't want another moment to pass without updating in some way. 

We are overjoyed, overworked, and overwhelmed.  We returned home on Friday night instead of Saturday and I am grateful we were able to do that.  Joshua has made the transition fairly well, but it is always hard when a new member of the family appears.  Our daughter is used to being an only child, and we are still learning how to parent two children. 

I'll post more pictures when I can.  For now, thank you to all who have followed our journey.  The real work begins now!

Saturday, November 24, 2012


It's after midnight (eastern time) and so it is officially today.

Today is the day that the beginning of the end of our adoption process begins. 

(That sounds like a tongue-twister, doesn't it?)

We have made our fundraising goal!  We do not need to worry about funds, which is providential because we've had some last minute expeditures.  But they are covered.  In fact we were so blessed, we were able to help others and we thank God that we could do that. 

A week from now, we will be returning with our son on a plane and the next segment of our lives will begin as a family of four.  It is surreal that just under ten months ago, we started this journey.  Only a photograph, and a thought that had been in our minds for years.

We have seen tremendous generosity, selfless prayer, and immense care for our family and process.  Our family has been transformed through this journey of adoption.  We have also seen a dark side to adoption; a world with bickering, criticism, agency preference, and unkind words.  Still, this has changed our family in ways we never expected. 

Thanksgiving was our son's birthday.  He turned 3 years old in Bulgaria and while we prayed to have him home with us, we will see him in just days.  He will be with us for Christmas!

The whirlwind of last minute preparations are daunting, but we are trying to focus on what is most important and prepare ourselves for a journey unlike any other.  This is the moment!  This is the moment when our family grows and we bring the little boy we have prayed for into our home!

Without your support and prayers, this would not be happening.  Please continue to follow our blog as we document the final journey to our son in Bulgaria, and the never ending journey of loving him.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Sixty seven

Sixty seven is:

The number of counties in Pennsylvania, Alabama, and Florida.

The number (preceded by a "star") to block Caller ID when making a call.

The registry of the USS John F Kennedy (CV-67).

The 19th prime number.

The atomic number of holmium.

A cafe in Rego Park, NY.

A road in California.

It's also the amount we need to meet our generous matching grant.

A group known as the "Finishers" have offered it to us to try and close the gap we still have in our fundraising.  The grant is for $200, but we are $67 away from that goal. 

So many families are struggling to "finish"; to get across the finish line.  Many of these families leave in days or weeks, like we do.  (We leave in eight days).  Every single one of them is adopting precious children; every need is so great.

Chris Tomlin writes a tremendous son that tells us that God is greater.  Is this where you are now?  Are you struggling to finish?  Are you tired from it all?

Out of the ashes, we rise.  There is no one like the God who calls so many on this transfomative journey. 

If you are struggling to finish, we are here to say that we are too and we understand.  Eight days from now we board a plane, and two days later, we pluck another precious gem from the jaws of The Bad Place...and a new life begins.

We are scrambling.  If you can help, please do.  If you can pray, please pray. 

Please pray for everyone who is tired; who is struggling to finish.

Please pray for our little boy; that his heart will be ready for receive his new Mommy and Daddy.

Thank you for helping us change that number - $67 - to zero!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The entry about the rocking chair.

In 2007, I announced with joy that I was pregnant with twin boys.  It took us four years and one harrowing round of IVF (in vitro fertilization) to conceive them. I was hospitalized multiple times, I was horribly ill, but my little boys began to grow inside of me and our family prepared for the delightful arrival of twins.

In early 2008, my parents agreed that I would need a rocking chair.  Not just "any" rocking chair, but a special one; one that was comfortable and big enough to accommodate two children.  My father shopped high and low, looking for a chair that was aesthetically pleasing and functionally useful.  One day, I drove to a furniture shop to see several examples of rocking chairs. I sat in each one, rocking and gently holding my quickly growing belly.

We chose this one:

Large, beautiful, and with wide armrests.  Perfect to rock two fussy boys to sleep.

But any of you reading probably know what happened:  Those little boys never rocked in that rocking chair. They were born when I was 21 weeks pregnant...and they died.  They are Jacob and Zachary; they are Chelsea's older brothers and Joshua's too.

The chair stayed at my parent's home and there was discussion of getting rid of it.  Was it too painful?  But it was a beautiful chair and I couldn't see parting with it.  In a very small way, it was a part of my experience with Jacob and Zachary, and I didn't want to lose that.

Instead, we brought the chair home and kept it in our living room. I rocked in it often, but without my twin boys.

When I became pregnant with Chelsea, in our last-ditch fertility attempt, I rocked in that chair while cradling her inside of me.  But we'd chosen dark nursery furniture for Chelsea's room, and the rocking chair didn't match well.  Instead, we purchased an upholstered rocking chair for her room and kept the wooden rocking chair in our living room.

When we moved, the rocker stayed in our extra bedroom; unused, but ever present.

And now, it sits in Joshua's room.

Joshua's nursery furniture is light colored, and the chair coordinates with that.  (The light oak is similar to what he already has in the orphanage; we picked that to try and maintain some continuity for him)

It is HIS chair now.

There is no sadness in that.  I am excited to finally rock a little one in that special chair.  It is four years old and it is dusty, but it's still beautiful.  It was purchased to care for a little boy, and instead of Jacob and Zachary, it will be for him.  I know his brothers would be very pleased to share it.

They are sharing it.  There is no replacement.  Joshua cannot, will not, and should not replace his brothers.  Only someone who has lost a child can understand that no child can replace another.  No, not if I had ten biological children or a dozen adopted children, could I replace the little boys I lost.  Each little one is unique.  Jacob and Zachary are Jacob and Zachary.  Chelsea is Chelsea.  And Joshua is Joshua.  No one lives in the shadow of the other; rather, we incorporate all of the memories and pieces of our family into the fabric of our family.

Joshua is waiting for us, to leave The Bad Place and arrive into this room.  (Lord only knows when he'll actually want to SLEEP in this room, but that's another matter entirely!)  Thank you for praying for us and helping us reach the goal, which is just ten days away.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Nothing in my hands I bring.

I admit it; I "borrowed" my title from Susanna Musser, but I simply adore the hymn she's referring to and it is such an appropriate title. 

There has been much news, but I have been horribly remiss in writing. I feel as if the time I have is not my own, but I must do a better job because so many care about us and want to know what is happening.

After the triumphant announcement of our successful court date, we learned shortly after of our pick up dates.  There was a lot of waiting to finally secure dates that worked for everyone.  They were not the dates we wanted.  We had long prayed to have Joshua home before his third birthday, but we will miss it by a few days.  Still, we are blessed because it is truly, without question, his very LAST birthday as an orphan!  Even today, he is legally ours, so he is not an orphan in the truest sense.  He has a Mommy and Daddy and sister and brothers in heaven who all love him and are anxiously and earnestly working to bring him home!

We will be bringing home our new son the last week in November:  the 24th until the 1st of December.  Our "family" day (or "gotcha" day) will be November 26th.  On that day, we will receive the son that God has prepared our family for.  It will be the end of a journey but it will be the beginning of a long, new journey.  There will be paperwork, but no more dossiers, no more medical reports, no more overseas trips, no more fundraising....

Oh.  The fundraising.

For so long, we struggled to raise the funds we needed.  We were so blessed to know that we did not have to raise it all.  We were able to use frequent flyer miles on our first trip.  We had a spreadsheet, with everything carefully worked out, and every number accounted for.  Even as certain things ran over our budget, we were able to make those funds up out of our personal savings and Craiglist sales.  We were blessed with TWO matching grants!  All in all, we raised about $10,000, about one-third of the total cost.

When we were fully funded, we sang to the rooftops.  It was such a relief!  We began the task of helping others.  Through my Avon affiliation, I've helped families raise over $800 for their adoptions - keeping nothing for myself.  Our family has donated, as much as possible, to others; through matching grants in anonymous groups, through auction purchases, through Amazon affiliates and through Scentsy.  It has been a joy to do this.  When we can purchase something that directly benefits an adopting family, we are filled with such peace.  We know how hard it is to fundraise, and we want to help.  We have been blessed, and we want to bless others.

But now, as we reach the finish line, we have learned something terrible:  We are not actually fully funded.

"Simply to Thy cross I cling..."

It was about ten days ago when we sat with our worn spreadsheet, to work out the finances that remained.  And it was sobering.  As the days went by, we slowly came to realize that our situation was not as secure as we thought it was.

First, there was a legitimate mistake on our part.  We mistakenly forgot to account for a $1,000 fee to our agency.  That was our error - pure and simple.  We had thought the grant from Brittany's Hope was supposed to take care of our last agency fees, but we were wrong. 

Next was our airfare.  We'd gotten it on good authority that we should budget no more than $1,000 per ticket, and about $400 for our son.  This was due to time of year, etc.  But after reaching out to respected travel agents all over, including ones that specialize in adoption, we learned that we were off by about $600.  Some of this has to do with how quickly we had to book tickets - because we could not finalize our plans until very close to the travel date.  Also, we had prayed we could bring Joshua home before he turned 3, so we could pay a lower fare.  But Joshua will be three when we travel, so the discounts aren't available for him.  We received a really competitive fare...but not what we budgeted.

Next, there were fees that our facilitator is charging us.  We were not prepared for these fees.  They include some costs in-country, to the tune of over $300.  We thought these were already accounted for, but they were not.

There is more - a lot more - but when we finished our spreadsheet, the number we saw was -$3,914.

We grasped each other's hands in prayer.  And God has answered already.

We immediately began emptying our closets and through some fast sales on Craigslist, we were able to recoup over $400. 

I made an offer to people in my neighborhood, to bake pumpkin pies for them for the holidays.  Yes, we leave 2 days after Thanksgiving and we have so much to prepare for.  Do I have time to bake?  Not really.  Will I do it? You bet.  My profit is $6 per pie and I have a dozen orders with more promised.  I will find time to bake these pies!  My goal is to get $100 in profits from baking.

I have a promise from family members that they can lend us $1,000 if we can pay it back after we return.  We cannot accept this money at this time because we don't have a means to pay it back.

I have no auction.  I have no fancy giveaway.  Nothing in my hands I bring.

Can you please pray for us?  Can you please share our blog with others?  Can you please consider helping us?  We leave in 11 days, but I am fearful if we cannot pay our remaining fees - can we leave?  Will Joshua languish in that terrible Bad Place, incapable of chewing, struggling to see with his broken eyes, waiting weeks longer than he ought to to come home? 

We believe our FSP needs to read an even $10,000 in order to be truly and fully funded.  It makes me sick to type that number.  It makes me incredibly frightened to think about it.  It took us SIX MONTHS to raise $6700.  And we have just days....just DAYS!  11 days!  And a holiday in between! 

Not the labor of my hands.  I cannot sell enough or bake enough pies or do enough on my own with this.  This is the power of others.

Have you see the video of our first trip?  Have you seen our beautiful son, who has managed to smile and grow even in the horrible darkness he has suffered in for 3 years?  Yes, he is in size 18 month clothing, and he doesn't yet run or walk well...but look at him! 

I  know it is 7 minutes long :)  but it is worth it!
*we flew business class on our first trip because there was no reward availability in coach/economy when we booked.  So we could have purchased 2 RT tickets, (for summertime, we were seeing airfares about $1400 a piece) or use the excess miles we had to upgrade to business class for "free".  I didn't want anyone to think that were just gallovanting around spending excess money!*

Please help us in any way you can.  We are asking you with our hands empty.  God is capable of miracles.  God has given us this son even as our little twin sons are in the arms of Jesus.  God has blessed our process throughout, and His glory will be shown at this moment.  We know this.  We have someone who is supposed to come this week to look at a saw we own, and if he buys it, then that will add to the coffers.  I don't have time to do as much as I wish I could, but I am setting up fast auctions on ebay with anything I can find. 

In addition to the button on the right, this the link to our FSP:

Thank you.  Thank you for reading this entry, for caring about our son, for praying for him and our family.  Thank you for donating and sharing.  Thank you for continuing to read our story. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

He's ours.

"Fear not, for I am with you.  I will bring your children from the East, and gather you from the West." Isaiah 43:5

We had to take our blog down for a period of time, but are happy to be back and proudly announce that the little boy in Bulgaria is no longer a "future" son.  He is no longer an orphan.

He is OUR SON.

"God sets the lonely in families; he leads forth the prisoners with singing..."  Psalm 68:6

Today, in Bulgaria, a petition was heard in court, and it was approved.  Our family has expanded by one.  The journey to our son is nearly complete. In a few weeks, we will bring him home.

"Children are a heritage of the Lord; the fruit of the womb a reward."  Psalm 127:3.

There is so much joy in our hearts, such relief in our bones, much worry as we prepare in our minds, and sadness in our spirit.

For while we know that we have forever changed our Joshua's life, we also recognize his loss.  Our little boy has lost his country. He has lost the only place he's ever known.  He doesn't understand that it is The Bad Place.  He just knows it as home.  He knows the consistent caregiver (his Baba) as someone he is connected to, and he will probably never see her again.  These are real losses that he may not understand, and while we love him immeasurably, we acknowledge and mourn these losses for him and with him.

Our journey is ending, and yet it is just beginning.  The journey to bring our son to us is ending, much like a pregnancy is an ending.  But the story isn't over.  The new life in our home is the rest of the story.  We must work to bring him home, to help him adjust to his new situation, and find the medical care he needs so he can grow beyond the size of a young toddler and begin to overcome the terrible conditions he suffered in That Place.

But today, our family has been given a tremendous gift.  Our family is now a multicultural family with a beautiful new son. 

Today, we shall rejoice.

"May the God of hope fill you with all of the joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."  Romans 15:13.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

a few steps closer.

And there you have it.

As with so much in the process of adoption...nothing happens, and then everything happens.  It's almost predictable in its unpredictability.

I was on a plane, at about 35,000 feet, flying home from St. Louis this weekend.  I don't normally bother, but this time I paid my $8 for internet service and decided to catch up on a little bit of life.  Naturally, that included my email.  Jon had been home with our daughter, but it was Sunday and that's football day.  Jon hadn't checked his email, especially not his work email.

When I audibly gasped and said, "Oh my GOD!", my seatmates looked at me oddly and asked if I was okay. 

I was very okay.  The email I was reacting to was one with the subject:  You Got It!

We got our signature on Friday of this past week from the minister on our Article 5 paperwork.  From there, these documents have to be submitted to the Bulgarian court system.  This happened on Monday in Bulgaria.  Now we want for the judges to return to full time service so that a court date can be obtained and our case can be heard before the Bulgarian court.  Assuming there are not any legal issues, our future son will be made legally ours.  After a fourteen day waiting period, the decision of the court will become effective and we will be cleared to go and get him.

The hope is that we will have a court date in 2-3 weeks, but this is Bulgaria and so while I pray for this, I am not holding my breath.  (Okay. Maybe a little breath holding, but I'll try to be patient).

Beyond that, within a few weeks we should be cleared to go and get him.  Target date is still looking like late October/early November. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

let's talk India.

India, as many know, has an adoption program that is difficult to sometimes manage.  Waits are long, bureaucratic red tape is enormous, and referrals take significant time.  There has been corruption in India adoption programs, as is true in many countries.  India recently changed the rules for submitted dossiers.  While it is party to the Hague convention, Hague doesn't provide the robust child protections that some feel it should.

But back up! you're saying as you read this.  You used the "C" word.

I did.  It's corruption.  And it sometimes happens. 

Because the process, while relatively stable in some respects, has had issues related to corruption and other concerns, adoption-haters (and that's what they are) would like to (not so) kindly point out that adoption should be outlawed in that country.  If you press hard enough and ask what should be done to assist the children of India, you'll hear some convoluted, pie-in-the-sky, utopian image of how money will solve the problems in India.  Half (yes you read that correctly) of the children in India suffer with malnourishment (Source:  Bloomberg Business Week, September 10, 2012). 

Well...since US dollars aren't terribly tasty, I'm sure the answer those folks would give you is that we ought to send them food and not "take" their children. 

Splendid idea!  Who's with me?  Let's reach out to the adoption agencies and all potential adoptive parents and immediately ask them to cease their adoption procedures and instead, we're going to invest in feeding these 900 MILLION Indian citizens who live on less than the government's recommended daily allowance of food.  I'll bet we could be so persuasive, nearly every potential adoptive parent would agree.


Wha...??? Am I reading this correctly?

"In India's most populous state, about $14.5 BILLION in food for the poor has vanished in the past ten years due to corruption."

I thought corruption only happened in the adoption process. Is Bloomberg Business Week really Adoptive Families Magazine in disguise or something?

"In Satnapur, the children playing in the street have prominent ribs.  The village has no electricity, and the ration shop has been closed for months, residents say. Only about half of the village households that qualify for subsidized rice, wheat, sugar, and kerosene receive any.  'This is the most mean-spirited, ruthlessly executed corruption...' says Naresh Saxena who [is a] commissioner to the nation's Supreme Court..."  (Bloomberg Business Week)

This is one example of many you will find with a simple google search.  You can read this article for yourself, and read the accounts of brazen government officials who perpetrated this fraud on their people while pocketing massive profits for years.  Only because of one conscious-filled whistleblower was it ever known.  And even he admits in the article, "I never for one moment felt scared that I would get caught."  Such enforcement!  When the government itself is in involved in this level of corruption at the expense of the poor, this fellow is right.  Who's going to catch you?

I know you are probably very confused right now. Maybe you have been reading the adoption hate speech on the internet and you don't get it.  You've seen for yourself that these folks don't bother to accurately portray some of the adoption process.  You've seen how they focus on a few bad stories and ignore the hundreds that fly in the face of their case.  And you've rarely seen a solution offered in those blogs, except to bash people who try to adopt for fundraising or giving a shit about orphans.

Maybe occasionally, you've seen someone who is actually concerned about adoption fraud and has some amount of care for orphaned children suggest that programs ought to be targeted in these children's countries of origin to "prevent" (or eliminate the need for) adoption.  You never hear a timeline or a real plan to make this happen, but some of these folks really try to at least suggest SOMETHING that will help children...Someday.  Certainly not now, of course. 

Great idea.  For the past DECADE (and probably longer) NGOs and charitable organizations and other countries have sent India food aid, and guess where it's gone?  To the pockets of politicians and corrupt individuals.  Do you think the scheme was oh-so-complicated?  No.  According to the article, it was quite simple.  Local officials would set up shell (dummy) companies and purchase the food from the government at the low, subsidized price.  They would then turn around and sell this highly discounted food to private companies for a hefty profit, pocket the profit, and do it all over again.  This occurred, at its height, in nearly 30 of the 71 districts in India. You want to talk about widespread corruption?  That meets the definition. This easily-perpetrated scam lined the pockets of several officials to the tune of $20 MILLION over an 18 month period.  Not sure what your paycheck looks like, but mine's slightly lower than that.  Apparently, food theft is incredibly lucrative.

So...while children walk the streets with their ribs protruding, fat corrupt bureaucrats sell off the discounted food so that Indian citizens who walk into their local Fair Price Shop with their ration card are told to buzz off. 

Something's wrong here.

What's the answer?

Well, a start to an answer is that hopefully, this practice is going to stop.  The whistleblower has provided enough evidence to someday convict all of those responsible.  We pray that new corrupt individuals do not step in so that the food, which is desperately needed, will reach those it is meant to help. 

But what about NOW?  What about TODAY?  What about ten years ago?  What was the answer then?

We did what those who hate adoption want.  We sent money.  We tried to support the Indian people...and it wasn't working.  It wasn't working because the system designed to support them was flawed, broken, and corrupt.  Just as you can't resurrect a car with a broken engine by replacing the brake pads, so too can you not try to effectuate change in child welfare in a country where the politicians are stealing their food for a profit.  It won't work well.  Period.  Families should be able to feed their children, but all the good ideas and high hopes won't work if that family arrives at the Fair Price Store only to be told there is nothing there for them to buy.

Their children starve.  Half of them are starving.  Many of them are dying. Go look up the infant mortality rate in India.  It's okay, I'll wait.


What's the point?

Get educated.  Understand the forces at work.  When you claim adoption isn't an answer, look to the mechanisms in place in the child's country of origin.  Are they working?  Invariably, they are not, which is why there are children available for adoption in the first place.  And even if one could argue that there is equal corruption in Indian adoption as there is through the abuses of their food program (and there isn't), one fact remains clear:  All starving children suffer.  There are no happy starving children, who skip along the country roads with their protruding knees, thrilled with their existence. "Hooray!  Hooray!  I didn't eat today!"

But there are adopted children who are happy, well fed, and generally content. We can wait on whistleblowers to stop corruption in a country that refuses to feed its own poor people, or we can work to effectuate change in that country while attempting to protect and improve the conditions for the children of India - and if that means adoption as part of a bigger plan to make a country like India self-sufficient, then (when executed as responsibly as possible) it is an important tool. 

"None of these agencies [in India] have the manpower, the will power, or even the political support needed to investigate a theft of this size, this nature, and this breadth."

Absorb that.  Understand it.  This is what happens in a child's country of origin.  This is the system they live in - the broken, flawed, incapable systems.  It is these systems that are not equipped to care for the kids.  Money and prayers and lots of good wishes and fist-flinging won't change that.  Perhaps in time, things will be changed.  Until then, children suffer under their native skies with empty bellies.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


The cultural differences in adoption are astounding, but they are hard to process.  It is hard to understand and appreciate how differently ethnic groups and even some orphaned children are viewed in their countries of origin.  This is the key piece that adoption haters miss. When these folks talk about dropping tons of money (from where?) on these problems of poverty, neglect, and maltreatment, the cultural piece is missing.  Those who hate adoption assume that most every parent who relinquishes their child to an orphanage is honestly interested in parenting.  They assume that caregivers will give at least a minimum of acceptable care to all children if given the right resources.  Money and fancy ad campaigns will be all we need to solve the orphan crisis and remove the "criminality" of adoption from these "child hungry" adoptive parents.

I'd like to know how that view helps THIS child.

Here is a child, just brought home...and (surprisingly!) NOT from The Bad Place and not from Bulgaria.  But where he was - for him at least - was very bad.  Bruises on most of his body (both old and new) scrapes and healing fractures from old breaks, malnourishment, and so on.  This boy was obviously beaten and injured many times.  His gastrointestinal issues are a direct result of his treatment.  He cowers where adults approach him now. He is afraid.

Some of the children in this group went to summer camp. Ahhhh. Summer camp.  Did you go to summer camp?  Maybe you remember lazy nature walks, fishing in the camp lake, eating s'mores with the campers beside a roaring campfire?  And hey, maybe you had a terrible experience at camp, but chances are, you didn't have to go back if the activities didn't appeal to you.

Ah, yes.  Summer camp.  Lovely summer camp.

Were you beaten and abused at summer camp? Were you taken to a concrete shell of a place - not to learn to enjoy the outdoors or to acquire a skill - but to be shut away all summer long so your caregivers could get vacations?  Were you taken care of at camp?  Were you starved and left to wander without supervison?  And if you were, were people prosecuted as a result? 

"Orphan Summer Camp" is not always the same as our idea of summer camp.

In Bulgaria, the pervasive view of so many is a predisposition of discrimination against the Roma.  It is historic and likely on par with the way the United States treated African Americans in the 19th and much of the 20th century.  It is legendarily ingrained into the culture that is Bulgaria. See HERE for just one of several examples.  My good and wonderful facilitator in Bulgaria even succumbed to this sort of discrimination when she told us that "true 'Bulgarians' are being reverse-discriminated against, because Roma refuse to send their children to school and live off government handouts."  The facts, however, tell a different story; a story where Roma children are routinely denied the opportunity of education.  This has been a problem so great, the European Union has consistently asked Bulgaria to address it.  Yes, it is 'that' bad.

Money and resources do not fix discrimination.  Our own country's history strongly supports that fact.  It wasn't money and parenting classes and lots of pie-in-the-sky  utopian dreams without substance aimed at ending discriminiation and lack of opportunity (which still exist in many forms today, so it's not like our country has 'nailed' it). It was a cultural shift, pressed forward by the pioneers of the Civil Rights movement, that ultimately shifted the tide.  It was legislation that began to be enforced that changed the fortunes of the marginalized. 

This is not a question of supplanting one culture for another in a ethnocentric perspective.  This is not American parents swooping in to "save" children from a culture "less superior" to that of the United States.  Are countries like Bulgaria and Ukraine and Russia as "advanced" as nations like the US and Canada?  No, certainly not.  Does that make them inherently "bad"?  No.  It's not that.  This is not a case of circumstances that prompted legislation like the Indian Child Welfare Act that was needed and necessary long before the time it was actually installed. 

When the culture a child resides in fails to adequately care for them; when the culture actively discriminates against them to the point where the child is being harmed and the government is too weak or too incapable to address  Money and lots of hopeful good wishes and all kinds of programs won't adequately address the problem, and certainly not in time for many children.  It takes decades for a population to begin to value what it deems valueless.  The children caught in that transition - who are they?  Collateral damage?  Unfortunate victims who get the "privilege" of remaining on their native soil while they suffer?  Can those who despise adoption actually accept those terms for the sake of eliminating some of the corruption in the system (and yes.  Corruption exists.  We 'get' that too.) 

Even if 50% of all foreign adoptions were corrupt (and they aren't) but even if they were, what do we say to the other 50%?  "Sorry, so's a check that I sure hope reaches you...good luck going to school if you're allowed to go...good luck not being abused and beaten with no effective government to prosecute those who have hurt you...good luck to your future in your native land.  Enjoy it!  Hope change comes soon.  Love, Industrialized World Who Would Much Rather Ignore You Than Actually Participate."

Adoption for many is not the answer.  It is, however, an answer.  It is a solution that is hopefully not needed if our world improves.  I like to look at Poland as a great example, or South Korea.  These countries at one time sent hundreds (in South Korea's case, thousands) of children out of their countries in international adoption.  These countries are now some of the lowest 'sending' countries out there, because internally, their countries have improved to the point where international adoption is not 'necessary'.  Culturally, things have improved; economically, things have advanced dramatically, and fundamentally, much of the country can handle their child welfare needs without relying on international adoption to a large extent. 

Other countries are not so fortunate.  At least, not yet.

Please pray for those children, and search your heart on how you can help them.  Ignoring them is criminal.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

on hosting.

Every time I write an entry that isn't sun-shiney, I lose a follower.

It's kind of funny, but I am okay with that.

I think when you become an adoptive parent, you may naturally examine the culture of adoption.  I know I have.  While I have been angered, upset, and downright hurt at times, I have also been awed, inspired, and amazed at others.  I've learned a great deal about our future son's birth country and also about the adoption process.  I've learned things I wish I hadn't about some people at agencies, and the MOJ, and all of it.  It's an interesting subculture.

One area of adoption that our family is not participating in, but that is an element of adoption and orphan care is hosting.  This is when a family, through the help of an agency, brings an older child into their home for a period of time (seems to be generally during holiday periods or school breaks) to live with them.  In most cases, families are asked to be "adoption minded" though they are not required to adopt the child they are "hosting".  In some cases, it seems children who are brought on these visits are not available for adoption, so that ends the adoption discussion.  In most every case, hosting parents are discouraged from discussing adoption with the child, and those hosting parents who are not interested or not able to adopt are encouraged to "advocate" for the child they are (or have) hosted.

I must admit that I am very mixed on this practice of hosting, and I mean that quite sincerely.  I truly can see both sides of the argument and I cannot decide where I stand on the issue.

Let's take a mythical, 10 year old boy from Russia who is going to be hosted.

I believe all of these statements to be true:

1.  Older children are simply not chosen for adoption for a long list of reasons, so allowing potential parents to "see" these children - interact with them, learn about them, etc - will invariably lead to a higher probability that the child will find a family.  Finding a family is not a bad thing.  And anyone who argues that a child who is seen has the same chance of finding that family as a hidden child is nuts.  I get that.

2.  Even if the child is not adopted, it must be a great sort of adventure to go on a long airplane ride and see another country and culture for a time.  How many children can say they  have traveled overseas?  That has to be at least interesting (if not FUN) for a child.

3.  If children are not told the purpose of the trip, isn't it just a good experience for them? Probably, on some level, yes.


Should we really, as potential adoptive parents "try before we buy"?  Is that right?  After all, these are children, not cars.  I know many people who begin the adoption process feel from the moment they see the photograph or read the referral that this child is theirs, regardless of circumstance.

Do the children really "not know" what the purpose of the trip is?  Will these children feel "unchosen"? 

Is it a "tease" to bring a child into a home - something they may never have seen - with modern conveniences that may not be familar to the child (video games, television on demand, large, overstuffed shopping malls, snacks on a whim?) and then send them away?

Does this in any way "harm" these hosted children psychologically?  I know that is not the intention, but is it an inadvertent result?

I can't answer those questions.  I just don't know.  But I wonder about it; consider it.  Does the potential good of hosting outweigh the potential "bad"?  Is that the right standard to use?

Don't know.

Not sure.

Do you know why I have time to consider stuff like this?


We are waiting for one signature.  Just one.  We've been waiting one month (tomorrow) for just a signature that will send our paperwork to court for the last set of steps before our future son is OUR son.  We are praying it is soon.

on adoption and loss.

It is so natural, as families progress toward a much-wanted child, to become attached to the child who is very much theirs in their hearts.

Although we are not yet our future son's parents, we feel extremely connected to him and cannot wait to welcome him into our family.  We understand that there are things that could go wrong.  Though unlikely, he could become very sick and die, there could be problems with his paperwork that leave us unable to adopt him, or who knows what else.  Until the moment he is legally "ours", we will hope and wait and pray that things go smoothly and that he is soon a true member of our family.

Sometimes, however, things do go wrong.

Children die while parents are pursuing their adoption.  Sometimes, a much-wanted child is discovered to have needs that are incompatible with the family's resources and they must walk away.  At other times, families travel to their future child's country of origin, only to realize that the child (for whatever reason) will not fit into their family.

It is heartbreaking, I'm sure, when this happens.  I have never personally experienced this, so I can only assume that it is incredibly difficult.  I know that, should something happen to our future son in Bulgaria, we will feel as if we lost a member of our family and be sad.  We will heal, of course, but we will likely never fully forget that little boy.

However, throughout the Blogosphere, I have read family accounts of the loss they feel in adoption...and I often hear it compared to the loss (the death of) a child.

Although I realize that these families are feeling tremendous grief as they unburden their souls, I take strong issue with that comparison.  Though I haven't experienced a loss in adoption, I have very much experienced the loss of a child...and while I deeply sympathize with families who have "lost" a child they had hoped would be theirs through the adoption process, it is simply not the same as the death of a child.

It is not the same as carrying a tiny, so-hoped-for life in your body for twenty one weeks...and meeting your twin boys far too soon in a hospital, holding their little bodies as they slowly die in your arms.


When, as a father, you gaze upon your beautiful second born son, who even in his tiny form carries the distinctive trait of your hands and your wife's chin...and, as his father, know that you can do nothing but hold him until he is gone...yes, this is what the death of a child is like.
When you are struggling to hold back tears as you take your first (and only) "family" photograph, knowing at that moment that your dreams are forever shattered and your life is forever changed; that you will include these precious lives in every obituary ("preceded in death by....") and will memorialize your children in every family tree, then you know the death of a child.
When you are able - not to advocate for your failed adoption (to find another family for the child that is not meant to be yours) - but can sit, feeling lifeless, in front of a tombstone, knowing that you will never see your children again in this world...that there is no "family" to "find" them...then you know the death of a child.
When your only connection to your children as their father is to stand stoically in front of their final resting place, knowing that the hopes and dreams you had for your sons on this earth are over; as you "grieve forward" for everything you will never know...when all you can do is hold your wife's hand over the casket that contains the remains of your soul...then you know the pain of the death of a child.
Losing a child by way of failed adoption is a hard thing.  Of course it is.  That pain is unique and important and should be acknowledged.  It is not a simple thing to just "move on" and forget. 
But the pain of burying two of your children...children who are gone forever, who remain a permanent and forever piece of your family...children whose faces you will never see again...children whose likes, dislikes...whose futures will never be known...
No.  This is not the same.
These are my sons, Jacob Anthony & Zachary Ethan.
These were our sons, in whom we were most pleased.  We prayed daily for their safe arrival after beating the infertility odds.  They were our firstborn children, and they died when I inexplicably went into preterm labor that couldn't be stopped.  They weighed 14 and 15 ounces.  They were 10 1/2 and 11 inches long.  They were born at 1:21 PM and 2:35 PM on March 14th, 2008. These statistics - the very little I can tell you about them - are emblazoned on my heart and I can recite them as quickly and as easily as I can my own phone number. They are Chelsea's older brothers, and she can tell you that they "live in Heaven".  I will never know if they would have liked Thomas the Tank Engine or Elmo or Diego cartoons.  I will never know what their futures would have been...because their futures ended after just two hours of life. 
There are thousands - literally thousands - of stories like my own, and stories quite different.  Young children who die of cancer or car accidents.  Little ones who grace their parent's lives for just a while and then are gone.  This is what the death of a child is like.  No matter the pain caused in adoption, whether it is a loss of a potential child or a disruption, it is not the same as the loss of a child.  That loss is unique in its own right, and neither should be compared, because there is no comparison.
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'a plan to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future."  (Jeremiah 29:11)
Through all, God was still good, even if I didn't think He was for a period of time.
(Our daughter, Chelsea Hope...born a year and two months after her brother's passed away...including a ten-day stint in the NICU)
Chelsea now, on her third birthday:

"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts"  (Isaiah 55:9)
I don't know why my children died.  I don't know....and I must accept that I will never know.
Something I do know is that, had my beautiful twins lived, we would have likely had our little Chelsea and we never would have adopted.  Three children would have been enough for me. 
Ask me which I would rather have, and I cannot answer you.  I can only say this:
"And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."  (Romans 8:28)
"I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten, the great locust and the young locust, the other locust and the locust swarm - my great army that I sent among you."  (Joel 2:25)
There is no substitute for my "missing" sons.  EVER.  They can not be replaced by having more children or other children or adopting a hundred children.  Anyone who thinks otherwise has not lost a child.  There is no replacement.
But there is this.
Please.  Grieve the sadness of the child you lost in adoption.  It is okay.  But, please.  Never compare it to the death of a child.
"For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted the petition that I asked of Him.  Therefore, I have lent him to the Lord.  As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord."  (1 Samuel 1:27-28)



Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What about you?

There are people affiliated with adoption that stand in high places and speak from lofty mountaintops.

There are people who embrace adoption and are tireless advocates for orphaned children who are looked upon and admired.  Even when they shun admiration, they are still admired and thought of as the "voices" for so much about adoption.

Some of them have adopted many children, and that is what makes them "experts".  Some of them have adopted very disabled children, and they are "experts" too.  These people are the ones others email or phone when they are unsure of how to proceed. They are the people whose opinions about agencies, policies, and procedures are held to a standard not unlike the red words in the Bible. 

Many of these same people are those who have connections they do not reveal and affiliations that epitomize "conflict of interest". But this is never shared, because these are Godly people who only care about orphans.

Some of these people attack adopting families; tear them down or convince them to act (or not) based on interests that are only self-serving.  They cloak these pronouncements in scripture and throw the weigh of their status behind it. 

This happens....and I did not think that it did.  I was naive when I began this process. My husband and I were both very naive.  Our eyes are opened, even as I wish I could somehow shut them. What I want to believe, and what the reality truly is, is incongruent and distressing. Yet, here we are, nearing the end of our adoption process...and our family is no closer to entering the "inner sanctum" that is these groups as we were before we ever said "yes" to our beautiful Ian (Joshua).

We must accept that, because we must know that what we are doing is right and correct for our family and that we are trying to do God-honoring work.  Those who claim to speak for many do not speak for us. We won't be invited to the picnics and we won't be sharing secret emails with those people. We know this, but we also know that adoption - for our family - was not a popularity contest.  It wasn't a way for our family to become more known.  We have a few dozen followers to our blog and we are grateful and happy for every single one of them.  We have been blessed beyond measure by strangers - strangers without big, important "Adoption-world" names and strangers who pray for us daily.  We are willing to stand on the fringes of those groups, because the price of admission to be included as one of Those Important People is simply too high for our family.  We know that "bad company corrupts good morals" (1 Corinthians 15:33) and so we will continue our prayers to look inward instead of outward, to project the voice of tolerance and love instead of being prideful know-it-alls.

I do not claim to have every answer simply because I'm adopting.  What I ask of anyone who happens upon this little blog is this:  Do not listen to the loudest or most important voices.  Do not allow yourself to be corrupted, even if it is by doing good work.  Do not fall for the shorthand of getting advice from someone you trust.  Be critical.  Remain true to what your values are.  Don't assume that your agency, your social worker, your child, or even the country you choose is any worse (or better) because someone with a loud voice and many (hidden) connections tells you.  It is not up to anyone but you.  Your choices are yours.  You must exercise them with full knowledge.  Don't believe the definition of "some word" is something - because some Word Smith tells you it is so. Look it up for yourself and know it.

If you do this, then the voices that try to permeate the sacred world of international adoption will not infiltrate your decisions, and you will rest knowing that God, who knows all things and has ordained all things, is your final answer.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

In the absence of grace

There is nothing substantive to update because nothing substantive is happening.  We are waiting - still waiting - on the signature needed from the Minister to send our paperwork into the Bulgarian courts.  This is supposed to take a maximum of two weeks, but it has not.  This is more of the things that "should' versus things that "do" in Bulgaria.  We have tried to learn to accept it.  Factually, we account for this often and mentally add time to the counter.  If someone says something will take a week, we know it will take at least two. A month could be six weeks or more.  And so on.

We know this, and we work actively to calm the frustration, the anxiety, and the uncertainty we feel in this process, knowing that the process itself is designed to mold us further into the parents we are meant to be for our future son.

In the meantime, both of us struggle with a great lack of grace.

We are aching for grace, and mercy, and peace in our process.  Sadly, these feelings well up with such fury...and not always because of our own personal adoption process.

"See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled"

Lord, forgive us for falling prey to the roots of bitterness. 

All of us are flawed, imperfect people.  This is why there are no perfect churches.  Even the most Godly, God-seeking church can never be perfect, because it is on earth and it is full of flawed, sinful people. 

What is so incredibly frustrating are the number of very human people who speak from high places and with such authority on subjects that they are enormously passionate about...and those who fail to acknowledge their own fallability. 

In our process of adoption, I have seen...

Professed Christians tearing down other Christians.
Files of children clandestinely (and outside of the authorities) passed between agencies
Good adoption workers besmirched for biased and unsubstantiated reasons
In-fighting between professed Christians over agencies, social workers, and most sadly - children.

I have seen people who have purposely prayed against or actively discouraged families to step forward in faith to adopt because they quietly coveted the child (or children) for themselves.

I have witnessed people who stand in high places speak judgment against others in the name of Christ.

I have seen potential adoptive parents weeping and begging for funds while others become funded in mere days.  Those unfunded parents are rarely highlighted.

I have seen people associated with adoption who are critical of those who don't advocate for waiting children...and others who are critical of those who advocate too much.  The factions between those who share pictures and those who do not; factions of those who hate photolisting sites and those who adore these sites as if it were a substitute religion.

I have seen ridicule.  I have read chilling, accusatory, downright untrue comments.  I have seen people who have risen to high places and are treated as authorities when they are not.  I have heard and seen hurt feelings and I have seen those who are sometimes cast out.  I have seen and personally known those who feel as though they "cannot fit in" because they are not adopting a child with a certain set of disabilities; or that they are not adopting a child who is "sick" enough. 

I have seen, read, and heard all of this and more. 

I have also seen tremendous graciousness, generosity, love, and support in adoption. We have been privy to that side too, and that blessing is enormous.  Truly.  It is overwhelming at times when I think of the number of pure strangers that have prayed, donated, and cared. 

It is why we are praying:

 "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” - Luke 6:36-38.

We walked into our adoption process very naively.  We felt we knew what we were personally preparing to do (and I still believe that we know this) but also that the process of adoption was benevolent, full of kindness.  We have learned that sometimes, this is not true.  Like everything, there are flaws.  We must accept those flaws and pray not to judge, not to condemn, and to be merciful. 

Regardless of the people involved, adoption can be a miraculous, life-changing thing that connects you to many, many wonderful, kind,and selfless people.  I sometimes fail to focus on the provision a family feels when they are in a foreign country and hundreds of people rally to their aid to assist with unexpected expenses.  Or when a child falls dramatically ill, how many commit to pray and send assistance.  There is beauty, and I want to remember that long after our adoption is finalized, rather than focus on the negative things I've heard or seen or read or even personally experienced. 

Work hard - as we are doing- not to let the actions of some flawed individuals decay the beauty that is present in adoption. 

Those are my thoughts this evening.  Praise God for His forgiveness, which I desperately need and do not deserve; yet it is freely offered by Him.

Friday, August 24, 2012

some photographs.

I have been strictly forbidden to share the beautiful photographs I took of our time in Bulgaria with our future son.  I understand this, in one sense.  This little boy is a citizen of Bulgaria and while we are actively and knee-deep in the process of adopting him, he is not yet ours.  I have shared what I can privately.

But there are some things I can share.

Every day, almost like clockwork, our little boy would want to climb the stairs and go back into the orphanage.  He loves to play outside.  The heat seems not to impact him.  He goes because it is lunch time, and he knows it is.  We rarely needed a watch when we were with him because he knew everything he wanted at precisely the right time.  His life is structured that way.  He took my husband's hand to climb the stairs...the stairs into the Bad Place.  It was almost heartbreaking how much he clung to that place and how comfortable he is there.

But why wouldn't he be?  This is his home.  He doesn't understand anything else.  He knows these people, these smells, these walls.  Though he may, in fact, have some cognitive deficits he is very aware and smart.  The experience of leaving this place will be traumatic for him.  We know this, even as we know there is hope on the other side.  But we would fools to think that he will magically love his new home with us.  He will - but not immediately.

THIS is his home.

I will never forget this place if I live to be a thousand years old.
The eerie silence, in spite of the dozens and dozens of children who live here...
The joy and amazement we felt when we FINALLY met him...
And the horrid feeling of having to let him go and wait...some more.

Please pray that the Minister will sign our last remaining information next week, so that we can go to court and finally go back to be with him; no longer a future son, but OUR son!