...adoption is a calling, be it from a dream or a feeling deep in one's heart or gut. There is a knowing, a certainty, propelling us toward that assigned child, and a confidence and faith that in time - seemingly too much time - he or she will be shown to us.
(Chicken Soup for the Adopted Soul, Introduction)
Geoff just arrived home from work (managed to make good time today for my birthday), and had a package with him. Only a brief moment of confusion later, I was reading a lovely note from my Ethiopia program secret pal! I had just about forgotten that a little something would be coming my way this month, and it's pretty fun that it arrived on my birthday. Looking forward to some inspiring reading, perhaps after we return from our Ethiopian birthday dinner!
Yep, the big day has rolled around once again. Wonder what I should wear for the occasion - would any of these get-ups work? Oh all right, guess a pirate might look a little out of place having a birthday dinner in an Ethiopian restaurant. But I do love a costume...
Here is my tribute to Dolores O'Riordan & The Cranberries (posing with Sis, aka Gwen Stefani). On a disc somewhere I must have a full body shot, showing my red Doc Marten boots. You will just have to imagine them in all their loveliness:
Ah yes, a ghost of the Wild West (posing with Bro - who was being a good sport in the costume department that year...it does happen sometimes). I remember being very busy & stressed around that time, and so I coped with it by spending a week making this costume (my famous "Ignore Reality & Conquer Other Trivial Projects Instead" strategy, the IRCOTPI):
In 2008, the adolescent clients where I worked chose a princess theme for our costume day (mostly girls on the unit at the time, but a couple of the guys were good sports about it, too)! Managed to wear my wedding dress all day as "The Princess Bride", despite a little, ah, breathing restriction & discomfort sitting down...10 years after wearing it the first time. This pic does not include my sword & the novel (a recommended read, for sure, by the way):
So sad in 2009 that I couldn't wear a costume to work, since it might be less appropriate showing up to see adult clients in their homes as a pirate (but then again, I think some of them might really appreciate it). Guess I wasn't working October 31 anyway. Still managed to come up with a few costume excuses, though!
#1 - Hard-core (and comfy) for handing out candy to our few trick-or-treaters (my bat tattoo doesn't look like it was faring too well at that point):
#2 - Fulfilling a dream for our "When I Grow Up" party. And no, it wasn't really that difficult or painful wearing skates for a few hours:
#3 - Low-key costume for shopping with my mom:
And just one more pirate pic for good measure. Never can go overboard when it comes to pirates (uh oh, truly no pun intended).
And with that, I end my birthday post. Off to do some cleaning, then to sew the afternoon away while salivating for my Ethiopian dinner. Happy February 24 everyone!
P.S. Trying not to think too hard about the fact that I was 12 when my mom was my new, current age...still prefer to credit those pesky renovations & that never-ending master's degree (which ended, surprisingly) for this late-start-to-family scenario (you know, rather than accepting any personal responsibility for putting things off)...blaming those things, plus a couple of closed adoption programs & a bankruptcy adding further delay. But, at least I don't need to wait until there are kids around to play dress-up - I would be in a much worse predicament if that were the case!
Despite a bit of a cold, and somewhat fuzzy plans, we managed to fit in a few things this long weekend. Here are some pictures (minus our tasty fish & chips take-out...neglected to photograph that little treat)...
1. The bouquet Geoff had with him when he arrived home from work on Friday:
2. The crafty mess that had accumulated in the breakfast nook:
3. Saturday's project, corralling & containing the crafty mess after a little trip for plastic bins and boxes. Took all day to get this far (and there is still a pile in the kitchen which doesn't quite fit):
4. A bit of Family day fun - catching up on our Rock Band world tour with Geoff & Jonathan (my brother):
5. And for good measure, some complete spontaneity in the form of a ukulele! Because if there's one thing I do really, really well, it is taking on new projects when I already have a number of important things on the go. But hey, if I can learn enough in 5 weeks, this little guy could travel with me to Thailand. If you're looking for an inexpensive hobby, this outfit was less than $50 total. (Mini product review: the ukulele is definitely a cheap-o, which has a little trouble holding its tuning, but the book is decent - pretty clear to follow along & has a CD for reference as well. With a music background, I basically went through the whole book in an afternoon - still with PLENTY to learn - it's just a basic introduction):
6. A Family Day hike near home. Had to turn around and backtrack after this raccoon friend (down the path) seemed disinterested in leaving the trail - actually looked like he wanted to come for a visit, perhaps to see if we had any snacks? I thought I had heard Gladwyn summon up a full hound cry in our yard before, but wow...I think the whole vicinity must have heard her bellow at this guy:
I think this post title should perhaps be the name of the whole blog...which started as a way to update friends & family on our adoption process over the, oh, 9-12 months or so we estimated at the beginning. Ha ha ha.
As you can see by a quick look back, I have increasingly wandered more and more into non-adoption-related territory, but that's ok with me (especially if there is still an adoption story in waiting)...and is definitely more interesting (to me, anyway) than posting every week with a one-liner stating that there is no adoption update to speak of.
For the next little while, though, you may see a bit more consistency again (don't worry - for those who enjoy the wild unpredictability of topics here, like crafts, travel mug reviews, pets, spring flowers, etc., I'm sure those things will keep popping up). However, with our adoption looking like a spec in the distance right now, we have decided on an interim adventure. In just over 5 weeks, we plan to embark on a trip to Northern Thailand with 7 other people we have never met, to be with many, many other people we have never met.
Just before Christmas I believe I posted about this possibility, and if all goes as planned (I have come to be skeptical about things happening as planned, after all the adoption twists and turns), we hit the skies March 25, returning April 10. For 8 nights we will be spending time in a large Burmese refugee camp. Our church is one of many in Canada which has become home church to Burmese Karen people who have immigrated here from various refugee camps in Thailand. Geoff and I have been doing a bit with Karen youth, like gym nights and skating, and so the invitation was passed on to us when it reached our minister. It is all coming together quickly (which is better for me, so I don't have too much time to get antsy and to experience cold feet). Anyway, along with this endeavour, I expect readers of this blog will be getting a fairly big dose of information and updates about this trip...including product reviews, and more! Stay tuned...
In completely non-adoption-related news (other than a vague connection - this about a travel product, and adoption involves travel...even though this product likely won't be crossing the ocean with us...but you never know, maybe it will)...we have awesome new travel mugs.
Our sad and sorry collection of free plastic travel mugs from various conferences and promotions has had the biscuit, so to speak. Geoff has been lamenting this, being a morning on-the-way-to-work coffee drinker. And no available-in-stores-everywhere travel mug would do. This mug must make for easy drinking, heat retention, and absolute leak-proof transport. Of course, he saw the dream mug in a two-pack bargain promotion at Costco, but (very much unlike me) decided not to buy them right away. And then they were gone. And he was sad. So I went online (very much LIKE me) and found a Canadian source. So we ordered them last week (figured I might as well get one, too, while we were at it...you know, for all those hypothetical winter adventures), they arrived in about a day (maybe two), and there you have it. And yes, they do seem to live up to their claims - liquid only comes out when you press the button, hold it down, and sip. And you sip right off the edge, rather than from a deep depression in the lid like so many travel mugs force you to do. And they are pretty sleek, stainless on the outside and inside. Plus, they keep your drink warm plenty long. Geoff claims that there was still somewhat warm tea in there after work one afternoon, when the mug had been sitting in the van (below freezing) all day. Not that I would likely want to finish it at that point, but it was worth checking I suppose.
All right, here's the info:
Contigo Autoseal Stainless Steel Tumbler
Our Canadian source (although the US site will ship to Canada...but it would have been a bit more $ and a bit more time):
A member of the Ethiopia adoption forum I frequent posted this article to the group, which very nicely addresses the unfortunate situation which has arisen following attempts by Christian workers to remove children from Haiti to care for them in the Dominican Republic. This is a well-balanced article which echoes my thoughts, and therefore saves me some time and effort!
Strong on Zeal, Thin in Knowledge Lessons from Haiti's arrest of American Christians trying to take children out of the country.
Newswires buzzed recently with reports that a group of ten Americans from an Idaho-based Christian charity were arrested trying to transport 33 Haitian children into the Dominican Republic contrary to the rules of Haiti's government. Although details are still emerging, the story thus far suggests a potent mingling of good intentions with ill-advised plans. Fellow Christians embarrassed by the incident should have the grace to withhold the abuse many observers are now piling on the group, but we can still take a strong lesson on the need to match zeal with knowledge in every effort to "care for orphans in their distress."
According to their website, the group's goal was to "rescue Haitian orphans abandoned on the streets … and bring them to New Life Children's Refuge in Cabarete, Dominican Republic." This "Refuge" is at present a 45-room hotel the ministry leased to house the children as an interim measure. Ultimately, they planned to construct an orphanage that would provide long-term care, and also the potential of adoption for children that could not be reunited with relatives.
These rickety plans, along with the decision to remove the children from Haiti without approval, were a recipe for trouble. Adding further to the impression of sloppy do-goodism, it now appears that some of the children had living parents and were not in need of rescue at all.
Appropriately, many relief organizations have voiced strong concern over the incident. Meanwhile, others in the foreign aid world—which often tends to be dismissive of volunteer efforts and highly critical of international adoption—have sought to make the situation a cause célèbre. Private blogs and even some nonprofit websites now venture beyond the known facts, implying gross neglect of the children by the Christian group and even worse. No doubt some hope to harness the situation to foster broader criticism of adoption, and to emphasize the superiority of large-scale, government-centered models of aid to smaller acts of private charity.
Even as we apply strong words to the group's actions—"reckless" and "irresponsible" come to mind—we should first be reminded what this debacle does not tell us:
First, it does not tell us that Christians have the market cornered on well-intentioned but poorly-devised attempts at aid. Far from it. As writers like William Easterly and Dambisa Moyo lay out in disturbing detail, the history of efforts to help the needy—both government and private, religious and secular—is rife with failed largesse. A brief survey of public welfare programs in the U.S. alone would dwarf this situation in both size and foolishness for examples of benevolence gone awry.
Second, it does not tell us that compassion motivated by Christian faith is somehow peripheral to "real" disaster aid. Thousands of committed Christian organizations, churches and individuals—both foreign and indigenous—were effectively meeting deep needs in Haiti even before the earthquake. Today, these entities and recently arrived allies are central to relief efforts on the ground in Haiti, as are Christians in every catastrophe. The actions of a single small group certainly don't define the Christian response, nor should we feel embarrassed of our faith-inspired efforts in response to future disasters.
Finally, it does not tell us that the significance of adoption in caring for orphans should be marginalized. Although the press played up reports that the group had mentioned adoption to the U.S. as one potential way to eventually help some of the children, this was clearly not the group's primary focus. Nor could such adoptions have happened on any scale without massive amounts of U.S. and local paperwork, as any adoptive family knows. The group's errors to date were actually examples of on-the-ground orphan care gone wrong, not of mishandled adoptions. Yet no one is suggesting we should now shun orphan care, nor should they. The Christian community should stand strongly behind a full spectrum of in-country orphan care efforts, as well as the option of international adoption for children who'd otherwise grow up without families.
Amidst all this, what this situation does tell us is much more straightforward. Passion alone is simply not sufficient; it must be consistently paired with wisdom. Zeal without knowledge can be a destructive force. A compassionate impulse may indeed be God's nudging, and certainly should not be ignored. But the hard work of education, preparation, and planning most always stands between us and a job well done.
For those freshly woken to the needs of orphans, one other reminder will be helpful as well. Prior to the earthquake, Haiti had an estimated 380,000 children who had lost at least one parent. Tens of thousands lived in orphanages, on Haiti's streets, and as household slaves. These tragic situations are mirrored in many developing countries worldwide. So while the current crisis adds urgency to the biblical call to "defend the cause of the fatherless," the need to respond did not start with Haiti's latest anguish. Nor will it end when the television cameras no longer bring their images to mind.
Thus, in this moment—stirred as we are by Haiti's pain, and freshly reminded of the hazards of poorly-directed zeal—the most significant reminder is that knowledge-guided love is always needful. The emotion we're feeling is one that can be acted upon for the rest of our lives. Amidst the current crisis, we must help as best we can: giving generously, praying seriously, and even working on the ground alongside trustworthy organizations and local churches. Meanwhile, it's never too early to begin readying ourselves for a longer journey, joining passion with preparedness, and compassion with commitment, to serve wisely and well for the distance.
Jedd Medefind is President of the Christian Alliance for Orphans, which will host Summit VI in April 2010 to help churches and organizations seeking to engage in adoption and orphan ministry. He previously served as a Special Assistant to President George W. Bush and led the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
I LOVE waiting for online purchases to arrive, and now that we have stated our intentions to head to Thailand in March for a couple of weeks, which will include some day camp and so on in a Burmese/Karen refugee camp (but I begin to digress - long story, which can be told another day), there has been some shopping going on.
Sadly, I must wait for my parents to bring my hot weather clothing purchases with them on their next visit from the US (oh why, oh why, is Canada so far behind in the online clothing, accessories, housewares, and electronics business???), but I was able to order a nice bunch of organic and fragrance free self-care and beauty products from within Canada (quite good selection here) - partly to reduce bug-attraction in northern Thailand, and partly to get a move on my 2010 plan to move toward less toxic and non-toxic products.
Once it has all arrived and been tried, I will post some mini-reviews for you. And of course for the travel clothing, too. The goal is to pack light and keep it simple - my Macabi skirts (see link to side of page, and previous post...somewhere...I am digressing again) are ready and waiting for the suitcase, so just a few more things & the travel wardrobe and toiletries will be all set to go!
I just decided what to do for my new secret pal in the Ethiopia adoption group gift exchange program. Something I would really recommend for others to check out, but I guess you'll all just have to wait until JULY when I can reveal myself...don't want to give anything away yet!
She's here! All the way from Ethiopia...at least, that's what I hear.
She arrived just this afternoon, and seemed quite comfortable in her packing box. I almost took her to book club with me tonight, but decided to let her get settled in to her new surroundings. As you can see, she is absolutely perfect in the nursery (but will likely spend some time on the main floor as well). And when I say this is one of my fave colour combos, my coordinating cross-stitch zebra attests to the fact that I am not just making that up.
Seriously, she's just perfect, and many thanks to Sarah for her generous name draw & sharing of talent. I've pulled out a baby name book & name list to help round out her identity. So much fun! I'm not too old to play house, am I?