Monday, March 31, 2008

Our Little Bundle of Joy



Ha...you probably thought I posting about our adoption. Nope. This one is about Jackson, or little Jack, as Wes and I affectionately call him. In this middle of all the excitement last week (Erin's news, the field trip to DC with my kiddos, Wes' company change, etc) we missed Jackson's Gotcha Day! We must be awful doggie parents. As I am writing, he is curled up in his little Jack way, nestled among four pillows in the chair and 1/2 in the living room. His tongue, hanging out of his mouth, and shriveled. Sounds cute, right? Well, it is.


Wes and I love all of our animals, although Sawyer is really pushing our buttons lately (he was to be gelded several times, but the weather has not cooperated, but those manly things must go...soon!). But while we love them all, there is something very special about Jack. He is loyal, happy, loving even though he has had one rough life. When we rescued Jackson, his hip bones were showing, his coat was dull, his expression was sad, his ears were bloody and scarred, and his spirit was dead. Over the last year, we have watch this little creature come alive in little Jack. He is eager, cuddly, playful, and happy. Every time I watch him curl up on the rug in front of the fire place, or sprawl out in the rays of sun coming through the widow, I smile. I smile because he reminds me to live in the now! He did have a rough past, but he is HAPPY NOW. He does not dwell on things he cannot change or mope because he lived in a cage in a puppy mill. Instead, he enjoys his naps, his car rides, packing with his family, his chow in the morning and evening, his treats when he comes in from outside, sleeping nestled between Wes and I each night, and carrying around his favorite red bone to hide from his sisters.


We are so thankful for our little Jack. He reminds us that there is love, hope, and joy in a world that can be so awful. Jack is our little bundle joy.

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Little Piece of Advice...



Wes, Bandit, and D after a Glenmore Hunter Pace.
Bandit and I at a show in 2006.

A little piece of advice...stay ON your horse and make sure someone knows if you fall OFF your horse! Unfortunately, this is a lesson I learned the hard way. Last Friday I rode Bandit across the street to my parents house. Things seemed to be going relatively okay...he was a little huffy and "up." Granted, I had not ridden him in two weeks, as I have been riding my mare, Daisy, to get her back in her pre-foal shape. I told Wes and my mom that I was riding him over there and I planned to leave him there for a few weeks so that we could let one of our fields rest and grow some more grass. Well, Mom left to go pick up my Grandmother and Wes sat down at the computer to work on stuff for his MBA class. Then, the trouble ensues. Firstly, Bandit thinks that there is a creature that lives in the round bales on the hay wagon at by the ring at Mom and Dads, so anticipating his hay wagon anxiety, I WALKED up the little incline by the ring so that Bandit would not have to venture near the scary round bale monster. As we walked up the hill, Bandit stumbled... uh oh.


According to the Human Body show on discovery, our brains literally slow down the clock when our adrenaline starts to pump rapidly. Well, my adrenaline must have started pumping! I remember watching my boots go over my head as I literally did a somersault over Bandit's head. Then, I watched the ground get closer and closer to me...and WHAM... I hit. Luckily, I have plenty of padding where I hit... I hit my left (rear) cheek. I really did not think much of the fall, because my first instinct was to MOVE. Bandit is a REALLY BIG boy. He stands at 18 hands...for all you non-horse folk...that is really big. His feet are equally big, and what hurts more than hitting the ground? His feet hitting me (yep..this happened, too, by accident one time when I was changing a wrap on him and he kicked at his belly to remove a fly...). So, I rolled and was up in time to see Bandit's butt as he bucked and galloped down my parents driveway, across the road, and through my field. I panicked and sprinted as fast as I could...probably faster than my high school track days...screaming, "Help! Horse Loose!" NOBODY heard me! I was so afraid that a car would come down the road as he ran across. My little corgi, Carmen, who knew I was upset ran as fast as her stubby legs could carry her across the road also...adding to my fears. Luckily, Bandit stopped as soon as he saw my little guy, Sawyer, and started eating grass. WHEW.


I grabbed my reins, remarkably still in one piece, and headed back to my barn. I put Bandit in the stall, and went up to the house, only to see Wes typing away at the computer. I explained the whole incident and made him stand on the porch and watch me ride across again. Attempt #2...successful!


Just as I took off Bandit's booties and topped of his water for the night, my Dad walked in the barn and said, " Your mother called and wants to know if you made it over safely." I replied, " Dad, your only about 30 minutes late on that one!" So, a mother's intuition must be real. Because Dad and Wes, only seconds from me had no idea, while my mom, hours away, sensed that something wasn't right. Crazy...huh?


So, I am thankful that Bandit and I are okay, aside from being a little stiff for the last week.


Older Child Adoption

After telling many people about our adoption, several colleagues, family, and friends have expressed some interest in adopting older children. Our agncy has a really cool program for kids that need great homes. It is called Project Wait No Longer. I am putting a link here with some information about the Project.
http://www.barkerfoundation.org/Adopting_A_Child/Adoption_Programs/US_Domestic/ProjectWaitNoLonger.htm

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Timeline Update


I want to post an updated timeline of our adoption. Mostly for parents interested in adoption that are in the early stages and want to know how long it takes. I was searching everywhere to see what the process was when we first started the adoption. So, I thought this might be helpful to some people out there who are considering adoption.


Step One: Discuss Adoption (pre-2003)
Step Two: Decide to Adopt (10/2007)
Step Three: Research Agencies (11/2007)
Step Four: Choose Agency (The Barker Foundation) (11/2007)
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. (11/2007)
Step Six: Complete Initial Application (approx. 16 pages of employment info, financial info, photos, etc) (11/ 2007)
Step Seven: Attend Pre-Adoption Group (12/8/2007)
Step Eight: Attend In-take Interview (12/28/2007)
Step Nine: Complete Home Study Paperwork (1/10/2008)
- 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 (notarized)
- Medical Forms (we both had 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 of House
-Complete On-Line Adoption Class
-Collect 4 letters of reference

Step Ten: First Home Study Interview in NoVa (2/27/2008)
Step Eleven: Begin working on scrapbook and birth parent letter
Step Twelve: Home Study interviews (#2,3,and 4 were all held the same day at our home) (3/18/2008)
Step Thirteen: Complete scrapbook and birth parent letter (this is where we are...)

So...What does this mean?

This is a picture my Dad took of our family so we could put in our birth parent scrap book.


"So...what does this mean?" This is the question I have heard from so many after I tell them that we completed our last home study interview on Tuesday. Well, here is what it means. Our social worker will have to type up the ridiculously long documents that is our official "home study." While she is working on that, Wes and I are finishing up Dear Birth Parent letter and our scrap book. Once these items are completed (most likely 3-4 weeks), we are placed in a pool of prospective parents. When a birth parent comes to the agency and the agency thinks that we may be a good match, they will share our letter and book with her. If she chooses our book, the agency will notify us and, depending on the situation, we should meet our child within one to eight weeks. Each adoption is different and there is not an "average" wait. So, once Barker gets our book, we just wait for an unknown amount of time until the right birth parent chooses us.


New Life


Each year when Easter approaches, it gives me a reason and a season to examine my faith and ponder my personal relationship with God. My faith is very private, so this post is more than I am usually willing to share about my personal relationship with God . But I believe God moves people's hearts toward him in different ways. I have never felt "called" to scream hell, fire, and brimstone from the mountain tops or to even say "Jesus loves you" to a total stranger. How judgmental of me to think that I am so perfect that I can tell everyone that my faith is perfect and they should love Jesus because I do! I believe God has called me to minister through love, actions, and relationships. Jesus is not a hater, He is not judgmental, He does not scream at people that they will go to hell. Instead, He is a friend to all who choose a relationship with him. And it is in the Easter season that I am reminded just how much he was willing to sacrifice for me.


My life, this week, made me think about His sacrifice a lot. As Wes and I prepared for our final home study visit this week, I was reminded that our sacrifice of inconvenience, preparation, and anxiety was a necessary step, or "labor of love" if you will, for our child. This is (on a microscopic level) what Christ must have experienced during the week prior to his death: Elation as he entered the city of people He loved, anxiety over the pain He knew He would endure, and love for us as He sacrificed his life. He died so that I could have a personal relationship with him. We have sacrificed our time, energy, and resources so that we can have personal relationship with our child. This is the beauty of adoption. This is why I think adoption is so special. I have so much respect for adoptive families. They are families of true love who were willing to sacrifice a lot.


Our home study was not perfect (our dogs were ill behaved...grrrrr). We are not perfect. Yet our social worker was okay with that. She told us we were great and wonderful and was excited for us. She overlooked our imperfections that make us...well, human. That, too, is what Christ did when he died. He overlooked all the sin in my life, so that I could know him personally. Again, what an awesome example of love. So, it is in this spirit of Holy Week that I am taking time to reflect on New Life. The New Life that Jesus gave me, and the New Life that Wes and I eagerly await to become part of our family.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Nesting?

Recently my friend, Sara, add a post to her blog entitled “Keeping it at Bay.” She and her husband are also in the waiting stages of adoption. Her blog made me think about some of the emotions I have experienced during our waiting period. ( I am not complaining, as I know I am definitely a newbie in the adoption waiting arena.) What I have done, and rather successfully I might add, is created this little pocket in my heart where all of my adoptions emotions live. They are only allowed to peek out and be giddy about becoming a mother on a rare occasion. I have seen so many adoptive families wait so, so long for their little ones and each month that passes is painful and anxious month for them. Each time I see someone who knows about our adoption, they are quick to ask if we know WHEN we will get our baby. Every time I answer, “It could be two months or two years or more…we really DON’T KNOW.” Each time someone asks me, I lock that little adoption pocket of my heart even tighter, making it impermeable to hope, elation, and love. The protection that I have created for myself is to not really let the adoption be real. For example, I would not let Wes assemble the crib…almost afraid that it would “jinx” the whole thing. But, the more I thought about, and the more I talked with Wes about the way I felt, the more I realized this is not the way I should handle my emotions. Thank you, Sara, for your post and making me think about this a little. And thank you Wes for listening to me and sharing all of this with me. We may very well, and more than likely, wait over a year for our baby to arrive, but my own selfishness to protect my emotions should not over shadow or hinder the amount of love growing in my heart each day for our baby. God has handpicked a little one for us. God put all of the circumstances in place for us to choose adoption and to choose Barker as our agency. I am certain he will have the right birthmother choose our family too. From here on, I am going to TRY to allow myself to get excited, to plan as if I was already four months pregnant (that is approx. how long we’ve been in the adoption process), and to open up that door to the small pocket of my heart and allow my emotions to invade all of my heart.

This weekend I took a baby step (ha ha) in allowing myself to be hopeful and ready for our baby to arrive sooner rather than later. Our friend Buzz put up crown molding in the nursery for us and Wes and I added the finishing touches. Wes also wore me down and we took a trip to Babies R Us in Charlottesville after visiting a friend in the hospital. I did not want to purchase anything, again allowing my fear of pain to take over. But Wes, the eternal optimist and perfect match for me, decided to look at baby bedding and room d├ęcor. We ended up buying a cute little set of baby bedding with a farm animal theme. So, I hung up the valence in the nursery. One little baby step for me! Now, maybe, I can take bigger steps… maybe even allow Wes to set up the crib.

Some of you may be reading this and think I am a little silly, and well, maybe I am, but I know there are a lot of adoptive parents out there feeling the very same way that we are! But for everyone else, this is just a peek at the emotions of adoption. I mean, as we checked out Babies R Us, may elation quickly faded when the cashier asked, “When is your due date.” He looked at my stomach… clearly not pregnant. We answered, “We don’t know.” The cashier and the other people in the checkout line tilted their heads, as if to say, you guys are crazy…buying crib bedding for a baby that does not even exist.” We quickly added, “We’re adopting!” “Oh,” said the cashier, with a glimpse of pity in his eyes… like adoption is second best. Well, I want to set the record straight. Adoption is not second best! It is a wonderful blessing, just as special as pregnancy. We don’t need pity or sympathy, we need celebration and joy!

So I guess it is time for me to hone in on my nesting instincts and nest away...

My baby step...
Painting the last little bit of molding.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Nub and Grub


This year Blue Ridge Boxer Rescue (the org. that rescued Jackson, we also volunteer with the rescue as well) is holding their first annual Nub and Grub event in Durham, NC on April 12th. The event will be filled with fun doggie activities, complete with a Rescue Parade. We are taking Jackson so that he can proudly strut his stuff as a healthy, happy rescue pup in the parade. The event is open to the public and pup friendly. Several other rescues will be in attendance! Check out the website http://www.blueridgeboxerrescue.com/NubandGrub2008.html .

Hope to see you there!

(For those of you that are not familiar with Boxer lingo, we call their little tails...the ones that wiggle waggle everywhere 24/7... nubs. I am pretty sure that is why Boxer tails are cut to begin with. Those tails would do a lot of damage!)


Monday, March 3, 2008

... and we're clear!

Yep..that's right, are finger prints cleared and we are not criminals! Woohoo...one step closer to being a Mommy and Daddy to a little KemperKite! Other great adoption news this week is that we have set up an appointment for our last home study interview on the 18th. In the mean time, we are cleaning the house and working on the nursery. It will not be remotely close to completion by the 18th, but it will at least be cleared of all of our other junk that is in there now. Our friend Buzz (shout out to the great work of Cedar Valley contracting) is putting up crown molding on Friday. We hope our home study will be completed by the end of March so I have frantically worked to finish our scrapbook. I have completed 9 pages so far.

Last week was a wild ride for us as we found out that Luck Stone (Wes' employer since 2001) sold his plant location to a competitor. Although we spent most of the week feeling very apprehensive about this situation (esp. since we had to tell our social worker that we think Wes has a job, but we're not sure), we feel that the situation is truly an answer to our prayers. His new company, Vulcan Materials, will allow him more opportunity and advancement. Vulcan is a much larger company with many more locations. It is amazing how God can open doors that one does not even know are there. Wes meets with the human resources department of Vulcan Materials on Wednesday to iron our the details of his new position.

Also in last week's news...Aunt Meg got the results from her MRI. Mostly good news, but please continue to keep her in your prayers.

Lastly, Wes and I attended the state meet with our indoor athletes over the weekend. They had remarkable performances. Wes' athlete threw his way to a 5th place finish. The 4*8 team finished 7th and there were a few other all-state performances. Over all, it was a great day for SHS. Go Blazers.