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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Green is Better Than Pink

My family just returned home from another Christmas celebration. We spent time with my parents, my brother and his family and saw my precious 90-year-old grandmother. It was wonderful. I returned home with a sigh when I remembered I hadn't cleaned the house before we left - back to reality!  I grabbed an enormous stack of mail from the mailbox and decided to sort it before cleaning and putting away the items from our trip.  Immediately an envelope from "US Immigration" caught my eye and made my heart pound! I grabbed the envelope and noticed the paper inside was GREEN and not PINK. A pink slip from USCIS is usually not good news. It's generally a request for more information or a reminder that you have somehow forgotten a needed document. This slip of paper was definitely green - good stuff! I quickly opened the envelope and discovered it was a notice of the upcoming appointment that my husband and I must keep to have our fingerprints renewed!! This is a nice big step in the adoption process and I immediately went from "mom who is grouchy about housework" to "adoptive mom who is getting closer to her new son."    It's curious how one little envelope can so greatly effect the mood!  I skipped over to write the date and time on our calendar and began to work on the chores with a renewed sense of purpose.
I've always said that orange is my favorite color but for now, I think I'm changing it to green!!!!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Musings

Christmas was fantastic and, I must say, much more low key than in years past. My husbands mom, step dad, brother, aunt and a few friends came to Christmas Eve dinner, went to church with us and stayed to watch our children open gifts. It was relaxing and wonderful! My mother in law cooked lumpia and a traditional Filipino dish called "dinuguan" which has the nickname "chocolate meat" in English. It is so named because the base of the stew is blood which is boiled until it turns dark brown, almost black. Now, before my American friends get all skeeved out and decide you'll never eat Filipino food, let me just tell you. This dish is DELICIOUS!
It has none of the properties of blood: no metallic flavor, it doesn't coagulate, it doesn't look, smell or taste like blood at all. It has pork, beef and green chilies in it and all of my children eat it readily (except my daughter who would be vegetarian if it weren't for bacon).
 For those less adventurous among you, let me recommend my mother in law's lumpia instead:
 This plate of lumpia was gone long before we sat down to the meal. As my MIL was pulling these from the pot, family members were waiting in line to snatch one!  They are filled with meat and veggies and I make a sauce to go in the middle that contains vinegar, soy sauce and minced garlic.  Oh, I could polish off this plate all by myself if it weren't for that awesome smell drawing the children to come and ask for some!
      I pray you are all as blessed as I am to be surrounded by loved ones and celebrating the greatest gift even given to humankind - Jesus Christ! 
Now, it's off to "other Grandma's" house to do it all over again!!!!!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Birthday Boy

Yesterday my amazing little wonder, Ezekiel, turned three years old! We had a get together with his uncle and grandparents (on Daddy's side) and our own immediate family so as not to overwhelm him. Ezekiel is still a very shy child and too much excitement causes him to want to be held by mom or dad and bury his face in our necks!
We wanted to be sure he enjoyed his day so we kept the celebration small and low key.
It was so much fun! His favorite gift, by far, was a little plastic vacuum that makes noise! Ezekiel loves it when I vacuum. He is always one step behind me and reaching out to touch the handle each time I pull it back. He claps and jumps up and down when I turn it on. He is smitten! I was worried that a quiet little duplicate vacuum just wouldn't measure up but he was thrilled! He immediately set off to "vacuum" the entire downstairs while the family and guests laughed at him. He proceeded to move furniture in order to vacuum underneath and to pick up toys to make sure he didn't miss any hidden crumbs. That child is just delightful to watch! I had no idea how much he took in and observed on the nuances of such a mundane task as vacuuming.
If I could do one thing differently regarding his birthday, I would have searched high and low to find a vacuum his size that ACTUALLY works! I can tell he is going to be a great helper in the very near future!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The File Has Left The Building

I am pleased to announce that the big, yellow DHL truck arrived at our agency over a week ago to pick up our COMPLETED dossier and deliver it to the adoption board in The Philippines!!!! For some of you adoptive parents, that may sound like we are very early on in the process but our situation is a little different than many. Because we are adopting a waiting child, things work backward. We identified the child, asked for him to be placed on hold for us and then worked overtime to get that dossier completed.
As soon as that dossier arrives in The Philippines and is approved by the ICAB, our referral will be issued, accepted and then the wait for a visa/medical appointment begins. We are actually on the shorter end of the wait now. I have already requested an extension on one of our immigration documents and having that happen simultaneous with the referral being issued and accepted may save some time.
We have received additional donations from precious Christian friends and now have over $4400 of our adoption paid for!!!! We wait
prayerfully to hear feedback on our grant applications.
An early April travel date is still in sight if all goes as projected. We are SO eager to meet Francis and introduce him to his new life. The silliest things come to mind and get me all giddy like the idea of helping him set up his facebook account to keep in touch with friends from The Philippines, or taking him shoe shopping and seeing if I'll have to pretend to like what he chooses, or Anthony teaching him how to use the riding mower and soon, to drive a car (gulp)... small things that happen here with the other children and signify that we're family.
All my prayers for this adoption center around him having a smooth transition and knowing right away that he is loved and wanted. Because he is already 15, I know we'll have to be very purposeful in our bonding and willing to accept him for who he is - a teenager with his own set of ideas, likes and dislikes, preferences and preconceived notions. I pray that he'll be able to accept us as we are and find his place with us quickly. Above all, I pray that he'll get to know Jesus in a way
he never expected and grow in his faith. I can't wait to see it all unfold . . .

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Yes and No

On the adoption front, all is quiet. Our file is in The Philippines and we are hoping for the official referral in the next week. If nothing arrives at our agency by December 16th, it will not happen until the new year. Believe it or not, I am perfectly fine with waiting. I have complete confidence in this process and I know that a slow down in one area can often be offset by surprisingly fast progress in another. On the fund raising front, all is quiet as well. We heard from the granting organization that was to review our application in December. They will now present us to their board in January. Again, OK by me. We have paid all we are required to pay up to this point (well over $4000) and we trust the Lord to provide for our needs in His own time.
A funny development is taking place in our home presently. Ezekiel, thanks to his dynamic speech and developmental therapists, has mastered the difference between and the uses for "yes" and "no". He nods his head "yes" and makes an adorable sound when presented with something he wants such as ice cream, a cartoon or a new toy. On the other hand, he shakes his head vigorously and makes a not-so-adorable sound to indicate "no". We are finding he is much fonder of "no" than he is of "yes". When he sees me coming toward him with a tissue to wipe his nose, the "nos" start to fly. When I say "it's time for night night", that head starts to shake for all he's worth! I have to confess that while toddlers saying "no" to their parents is not cute in any other situation, it is darn cute when Ezekiel does it!
I am so thrilled that he is using these words/gestures in the right context and he absolutely understands what he is saying. I am relieved that he can share his opinion and makes his needs known more easily. This is one of the many aspects of parenting I took for granted with my typically developing children. I have read the blogs of other parents of children with Down Syndrome and sometimes thought their celebrations of such small victories were a little over blown, a little sappy. I get it now! Boy, do I ever get it!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Final

"I never knew how much I wanted a baby with Down Syndrome until I adopted one."

Yesterday we received our finalization papers for Ezekiel's adoption in the mail!
A weight has been lifted that I didn't even realize I was carrying. The finalization paper is an official court document embossed with a couple of seals and containing lots of "legalese". I am no lawyer - not even a paralegal - but I can read and understand the words "adopted FOR LIFE" easily!!!! In the eyes of the court system, Ezekiel is what I already knew he was - mine forever. My mind goes back to just nine months ago when I sat in front of my computer screen pining away for the beautiful little boy in the picture. I wanted to feel his warmth, hear his voice and tuck him in... I wondered if it would ever happen. I believed God was showing me that it WOULD but I worried that I was projecting what I wanted and not clearly hearing God's voice (not audibly, of course). I sinned with my worry. I worried the money would not come in on time. I worried the plane would crash. I worried Ezekiel would reject us. I worried his heart disease would take him before we got to hold him. Even in my faithlessness, God was faithful. He always is. He always will be. I belong to Him and He is my precious Daddy. I am "adopted for LIFE."