Saturday, December 29, 2007

Our BIG News...

I’ve wanted to post this for sometime now, but have not due to family issues, such as the death of my Granny, the holidays, and making sure we shared this exciting news with our closest relatives first, but now I can say it… we are “kinda pregnant”… as in WE ARE ADOPTING! Over the holidays, Wes and I saw a friend of ours that is about three months pregnant and everyone was asking her questions, sharing advice, calling her “little momma” etc, we did not want to take away from all of their excitement, so we chose not to share our decision at that point. As soon as we got in the car, Wes turned to me and said, “We could be three months pregnant…” and he is right. The adoption process is so fickle. As soon as we finish the paper chase, it could be a month or it could be two years before our child joins our family. At any rate, we now ready to tell the world!

I know many of you are thinking…Diana…small children…seriously?! But it is true, I guess Willow and Joey, my cousins, and Bryden, my nephew, have gradually made my heart ready to love a small child! Wes has been chomping at the bit and ready for children since we were married and was so excited when I finally said I that I was ready too! We are choosing to adopt FIRST. I know many people will want to ask, but not feel certain if it okay to ask, so I will share openly. We do not know if we are fertile or infertile, and we do not want to know at this point in time. We want our adopted child to know that he/she is the child of our dreams. We know we are in the minority of adoptive parents as most people arrive at adoption due to infertility, but we feel that God has made our family and our hearts open to adoption for a reason. We are comfortable with a non-traditional family and open to a trans-racial adoption. We are currently reading many articles and books with advice on raising adopted children in a trans-racial family.

So far, we have completed or are in the process of completing the following steps of the adoption process. For some, this may seem like a lot, but for those familiar with the adoption process, you know that this is only the beginning!

Step One: Discuss Adoption (pre-2003)
Step Two: Decide to Adopt (October 2007)
Step Three: Research Agencies (October 2007-November 2007)
Step Four: Choose Agency (The Barker Foundation) (November 2007)
Step Five: Choose Domestic or International (this was really hard for us, as we first wanted to adopt from Korea but cannot due to their Body Mass Index requirements. We are still exploring the possibility of adopting from Guatemala (they are currently closed to US adoptions due to Hague compliance issues but are anticipated to re-open in the near future), Ethiopia, and Colombia. After long discussions and prayer, we decided to proceed with domestic adoption and if we end up waiting for an abnormally long time, will switch to an international program. (November 2007)
Step Six: Complete Initial Application (approx. 16 pages of employment info, financial info, photos, etc) (November 2007)
Step Seven: Attend Pre-Adoption Group (December 8, 2007 8am – 5pm)
Step Eight: Attend In-take Interview (at this point in time, we are using our agency’s individual services, but will most likely move into their comprehensive domestic program within the near future) (December 28, 2007)
Step Nine: Complete Home Study Paperwork (We are currently in this phase)
- Signed Corporal Punishment Statement (stating that we will not abuse our child)
- Fire and Safety Self-Survey
- Immunization Form (stating that we will immunize our child)
- Copy of Marriage Certificate
- Individual Autobiographies (5-8 pages each)
- Criminal Clearances (Sate and FBI with fingerprints)
- Child Abuse Clearances
- Guardianship Agreement
- Medical Forms (we both have scheduled physicals and blood work on Monday 12-31)
- Copy of 2006 Tax Return
- Employment letters
- Financial Info (letters from our banks, 401k, retirement plans, etc)
- Copy of Birth Certificates
- Copy of Driving Records
- Written Evacuation Plan with Map

I hope to have this completed within the next two weeks, but I wanted to list it all to give everyone an idea of how complicated the process can be. Please pray that this collection of papers is as painless as possible and that our medical exams and blood work are “good.” Once the paper work is complete, we will begin our home study (which is a series of 4 interviews), make a scrapbook, and wait for a wonderful birthmother to pick our family!

We are so excited and can hardly stand it. I even went to baby pottery barn the other week… strange for someone like me.

As Christians, Wes and I know that no one has more love to offer than God, as he sent his Son to Earth to share His love with us. We trust that God loves our future child even more than we do and we must allow God’s timing to be our timing. Please pray that we will be patient through this process and make the right decisions and listen to God’s still, small voice. God’s plan is always better than ours… I must remember this as I rush around trying to get it all done as quickly as possible!

Soon after we made our decision, we learned that some friends of ours, Sara and Nate Hagerty, are also in the process of adopting from Ethiopia. Here is a link to their blog:

This is picture of me putting the finishing touches on our final application.
Our first trip to the Barker Foundation in Bethesda MD for our Pre-Adoption Group. (12-8-07)
Our second trip to Barker for our in-take interview. (12-28-07)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Missing My Granny

My Granny with her family...George, Meg, Whit, and Sue.

Sitting on a school bus, driving past many houses decorated for the holidays, thoughts of Granny entered my tired and emotional exhausted brain. Granny did not like a lot of "fuss" over anything and thought too many lights made a house tacky. In fact, she once stated that a very modest house, with one little light in each window, was "almost pretty except that the lights were too bright." That was my Granny folks...honest!

As many of you already know, my Granny, Helen "Hap" Vivian Farley Kemper, passed away this past Sunday. I was with her when she left this life and traveled into an everlasting one. My Granny was a lady of strength, courage, and wit to the very end and beyond. Although I am comforted knowing that she is know longer in pain and that she made a conscience decision to leave this planet, I will forever miss her honesty and spunk.

I want to post the eulogy my cousin meg and the rest of the family wrote for Granny. Meg read this at her memorial service.

Granny’s Eulogy

My name is Margaret Graham Kemper Parker (the 3rd!) and I am Helen “Hap” Kemper’s oldest grandchild. I’m here to share with everyone a eulogy of Granny written jointly by her children and grandchildren.

We all know Granny as a strong-willed, feisty lady who was devoted to her community and family. She wanted a simple, humble funeral service. She expected that everyone who came to this service would know her and so there wouldn’t be much to say. Nonetheless, we felt it was important for our family to tell some of Granny’s stories publicly to remember her.
Granny told us that she was her parents’ “second afterthought.” She was born when her father was 61 and she was the youngest of nine children. She lived on a farm in the eastern part of Virginia near Blackstone. She moved to Richmond when she was 9 after her father died. She had to adjust to city life and schools. Sadly, Granny’s mother died when she was only 12. She continued to be raised by her older siblings. She came to Grottoes when she was a teenager to live with her sister and brother-in-law who was the town pharmacist. Granny completed her last year of high school at Port Republic High. During this year she met her husband, George Kemper, who was the school bus driver. Granny completed one year of college at James Madison where she studied Home Economics. She got married a couple weeks shy of her 20th birthday in June, 1941.

George enlisted in the army in World War 2. During this time, Granny worked for the Lynwood Post Office and lived at Bogota with her in-laws. Later she moved to back to Richmond to work for the American Tobacco Company until the end of the war. After George returned from World War 2, Granny and George moved to Port Republic so that George could continue college at Bridgewater. Soon Granny and George bought and moved to Kemper Knoll Farm. Sue, Whit and Meg were born in 1947, 1948 and 1950, respectively.

Granny was always committed to her children and family. Aunt Meg remembers her nutritious four food group suppers every night. She also remembers Granny as a wonderful seamstress. She once found out on a Monday that Meg wanted to go to a homecoming dance and made a lovely dress in only 1 week. Granny was also quite stylish in her later years and insisted on fashionable hats to complete her outfits as wells as matching bags and shoes!
Granny loved her grandchildren dearly. She invented pet names for all us, many of which have stuck through the ages. She called me “Little Meggie.” She called Diana “Dede Sweetie” and Brooke, “Beauty Brooke.” She named Susan, “Pixie” and Will, “Willy Skilly.” She even called my brother Win, “Little Rascal” and my husband Mike, “City Boy!” Since Diana and Brooke lived next door to Granny, they spent a lot of time with her when their parents were busy on the farm. Diana and Brooke especially remember Granny giving them random household items likes potholders and marbles to play with and that she would tell them to use their imagination.

My mom, Sue, particularly remembers Granny for her progressive attitudes. She remembers Granny telling her that girls should go to college and not rely on men for everything. Granny always valued education and encouraged her children to go to college. Now her children and grandchildren hold many professional degrees between them! In addition, Darlene, Whit’s wife, remembers Granny’s acceptance of all groups. Growing up in an era when racism was prevalent, Granny felt that “people were people.” Granny judged people for their character, not their social class or color. In fact, in the past few years, Granny welcomed Darlene’s adopted niece and nephew, Willow and Joey, into our family. She loved them like they were her own grandchildren and put pictures of them up on her walls with the rest of us. She recognized and believed in an all-inclusive view of family.

Granny will be admired for her spirit and independence. After George died, she lived by herself in the small house on Kemper Knoll farm for over 20 years. Granny continued to travel with her sister and friends. She even drove a rental truck across the country to drop off furniture to Sue and her husband, Harry, with her friend Connie. She told us that she wasn’t sure why people needed to go abroad when there was so much to see in our own country. She traveled through nearly every state, and, of course, in typical Granny fashion, she had opinions about them all!
I’ve been particularly impressed with Granny’s strong will and fiery disposition during the last weeks of her life. Granny has had very advanced lung disease for quite some time. She fell while getting into her beloved special Granny-sized bed. We had asked her many times if we could get a safer bed that was lower to the ground and she refused. She said that “This bed has been in the family for 5 generations and I’ve been getting in it every night for more than 20 years. I will keep getting into it for a few more!” Nonetheless, Granny’s fall getting into her bed led to her last hospitalization. Granny broke her pelvis causing significant pain. We believe that Granny decided for herself that her disability and quality of life was more than she could bare and she made a conscious decision to allow death to come. She spoke to all of us and told us repeatedly that she loved us very much, but she needed to “move on.” She reminded us not to fight and bicker. She passed away comfortably and peacefully on Sunday night. We think that Granny left this world on her own terms.

The last few nights I’ve been sleeping in Granny’s bed. From her bed you can see pictures of all my cousins, aunts and uncle. I realized that the last thing Granny saw before she rested each night was her family. It has become clear to me how proud she was of us and how much she loved us. It’s no mistake that all of us have led happy full-filled lives. Granny’s independence, progressive attitudes and commitment to family lives in all of us. We will miss Granny very much, but we know that her influence in our lives will continue for the rest of ours.

Whenever we left Granny’s house she always said, “Bye bye love, “ not only to say goodbye, but to remind us that she loved us. Now we say “Bye bye love” to Granny in return, to remind her just how much we love her.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Lipizzan Stallions

A few weeks ago Brooke, Wes, and I went to see the Lipizzan stallions at JPJ. They were beautiful and magnificent. Enjoy some pics.