Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Snoopy Dancing at the Courthouse!

I am on a break right now for my jury duty, so I don't have a ton of time, but I am doing a little Snoopy dance right now because I just got an email from our agency and we have our LOA (Letter of Acceptance). This is huge as it dictates how soon we will travel to adopt Daniel. Once we sign and return all of the documents  with the LOA, we should receive TA (travel approval) roughly 9-10 weeks after. So I am expecting TA in early June and hopefully travel soon after. :) Hang in there, Daniel! Mommy and Daddy are coming soon!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Progress: Better Late than Never

I know. I know...I haven't blogged in nearly two months. Life has just been busy and I have struggled to find time to blog. I am currently taking two college classes in hopes of eventually completing my Bachelor's degree. My Couch to 5K training program is challenging but I am still plugging along and plan to fly to Texas next month to run in the race. Apparently the Lord didn't think I had enough to keep me busy. This last month I also have been serving on a jury for a murder trial. The case is very interesting but the timing sure is inconvenient. I believe we are expected to have another two to three weeks in court.  Jury duty is like a full time job with no pay. Well it isn't zero pay but it might as well be zip because by the time I eat lunch and pay for gas, my $18/ day is gone.  In the midst of all this chaos, we have had some wonderful visits from several out of state loved ones and have enjoyed catching up with each of them. We are very grateful to have friends and family that continue to enrich our lives.

So now that I have caught you up on the last two crazy months, I'm sure what you really want to read is how our adoption is progressing. Well, our dossier, the gathered papers we have been working on for the last eight months, was officially sent to China on January 31 (DTC). This happened to coincide with the Chinese New Year which means it then sat on someone's desk until the holiday was complete and folks came back to the office. We found out our dossier was logged in on February 14, Valentine's Day. As of right now, we are eagerly awaiting news that we are out of translation. I know several other families who share the same  log-in-date (LID) and are already out-of-translation (OOT). I have hounded our social worker multiple times to recheck our progress on-line and she continues to report there has been no change in our status. I can only guess we must have landed on the slow worker's desk. Oh well! I know God has got this and His timing is always perfect and never late. So I will continue to trust that our next step will happen exactly when it is suppose to and that our Daniel will be home when our Father has all the details in place. As it stands right now, we are still on track to travel this summer!

Well, now you're all caught up on our progress. Please continue to pray for Daniel, that our Father is preparing him to be in our family and for continued maintenance of his health. Also, continue to pray for our dossier progress, fundraising efforts, and preparation for us to receive Daniel into our family. We cannot thank you enough for all of your prayers. We appreciate and covet each one.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Changing My Mind

Over my forty plus years, I have seen how my likes and dislikes change over time. As a child I hated broccoli and zucchini. At some point in my teens, I made a conscious decision that I was going to eat vegetables so I might as well find a way to enjoy them. At first, I faked it pretending to like them on the outside but gagging them down with each swallow. Over time, I found I was gagging less and enjoying them more. Today, I love those vegetables. It is such a simple example of how, our minds can be retrained to think differently.

Once an avid non-coffee drinker, a young girl I was mentoring at church, opened up a whole new world to me with a simple white chocolate mocha. My conversion experience was partly due to the fact it was so very delicious. A stronger factor than its yumminess though, was my desire to bond with a high school girl who most likely felt she had nothing in common with me. What I had once thought of as bitter nastiness has changed to warmth and comfort. I now cannot function properly without a cup or two of coffee each morning.

In school I always was a hard working student, earning good grades even in subjects I disliked, like history. History felt like some cruel form of torture to me. I would at least try to stay awake through the lectures, try to do the assigned reading, and tried to prepare for the daily quizzes. All of my efforts were made with hope that I could earn a decent grade out of the class. I never anticipated I might possibly enjoy this subject.

Fast forward fifteen years later. I am homeschooling three of my children. We are using a literature based unit study curriculum for US history. Ya, the history I hated with a passion in high school. Reliving and relearning US history with my children opened my eyes to a subject I had long given up on. I actually had fun teaching history. I think my children enjoyed learning history. I'm grateful I did not let my own doubts and previous boredom with history deter me from diving into a curriculum that made history come to life for all of us.

When I was in high school, many of my friends took up long distance running. They made running look effortless, without pain, and boasted of a rush or high that came with running long distances. I not being a runner, decided to support our team and hang with my friends as a track stat. I helped with timing, measuring, and recording of the team stats. I had a great time.  So the following year, I decided I could have even more fun by joining the team and running as well. I did like being on a team with all my friends but it was a lot of work. It is not effortless or painless. I never experienced the runners high everyone else boasted of plus I was the worst runner on the whole team. My very best efforts felt like failures. I typically ran a 7:00 mile and my best mile time ever was 6:25, at least a full minute slower than every other girl on the team. During practices, my teammates always left me in the dust.  I ran out of fear that at any moment Coach would drive by in his white pick up truck, hang his megaphone out the window and yell, " pick up the speed, McAndrews!"  Needless to say, after high school, I hung up those track shoes, grateful to never have to run ever again.

Again fast forward...our Texas home church family is doing a Bible based Couch to 5k, called Run for God. Had we been living in TX still, I would have signed up immediately just for the fellowship. Since we are now in CA though I felt off the hook. Which in a way saddened me because at the end of the 12 weeks of training is a 5k race that benefits a very sweet couple's adoption. I was messaging one of the organizers of the program on a totally unrelated topic one day, when she encouraged me to participate in Run for God. I was armed with an arsenal of excuses but none could stand up to the argument that I haven't left my couch in years and get winded climbing my stairs. I am way too young to feel this old! I knew I needed a change. So I am once again going to change my mind. I will enjoy running. I have decided if I think of running like it is a dance, I will keep putting one foot in front of the other. I have my interval timer programmed, the iPod on shuffle, and magical running shoes. I have let go of the mindset that a 6:25 mile is pitiful. I have let go of the fear, I will let my team mates down. The only way I could do that is by not showing up and going back to the couch. At the end of the twelve weeks, I plan to fly to TX and participate in the benefit race.

If you would like more information for that race, it is at this link: Waiting 4 Dallas 5K. The money raised from that race will go toward the adoption of baby Dallas. We are so very familiar with the high cost of adoption but know all our efforts are so worth it once our children are home.

So would you like to join my team?  I need folks who can encourage me and support me. Prayers and notes of encouragement would be greatly appreciated. I am also looking for personal sponsors for race day. Every person who sponsors me, regardless of amount will get their name written on my race T-shirt. You will go with me as I train and race. Also,  for  every person who sponsors me at least $25, I will send you one of our custom adoption t-shirts. So you would be helping me get healthy while helping us raise the necessary fees for Daniel's adoption. You can donate to our tax deductible account on Reece's Rainbow or PayPal to rakoczy_99@gmx.com. Remember to leave t-shirt size and shipping address either on paypal or in the blog comments.

As a parent, I have sacrificed much for my children. Parents seek ways to insure their children have the things and experiences they need to grow into mature, loving, compassionate, responsible people. My hope is that my children will now witness mommy taking care of herself. I have done a poor job modeling regular exercise to my children. I want them to learn stewardship of these bodies we have been given. In addition, I have Daniel coming home soon and it would be nice to not be winded chasing him up the stairs. So I am changing my mind. I am making exercise a priority in my life. Maybe it will be my next side of vegetables, cup of coffee, or history adventure. Maybe not, but I will never know if I don't try.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

They're Back!

I have had several folks ask me to do another order of our adoption T-shirt. If you missed them last time, they're back! T-shirts are made from 100% preshrunk cotton and are available in sizes youth M-XL and adult size S-XXXL.  $23 includes shipping. Paypal to rakoczy_99@gmx.com with payment, t-shirt size and shipping address. We need to sell at least thirteen t-shirts to place an order.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Getting a Little Closer...

I know it has been a while since my last update. I apologize for the silence but am guessing the holidays kept you just as busy.  Things are moving along well with Daniel's adoption. We were fingerprinted in November for our immigration paperwork. The time line to gain approval had been climbing in recent months so we were prepared to wait the 60-90 days they warned us it may take. This is the stage of international adoption that makes me nervous; not because I worry we will be turned down, but because our government offices can be quite inefficient and unsympathetic to an adoptive parents's desire to move through this stage as quickly as possible. With Phoebe's adoption we were stuck in this stage for ten months! I truly felt our family was kept hostage during that wait. I can now look back and realize His timing was perfect, but when you waiting to bring home a child from the other side of the world, any wait, especially a ten month wait is too long.  I am so happy we will not have to endure that torture though. On New Year's Eve we received in our mailbox the official approval from US immigration. Praise God! We only waited 39 days!

So what does this mean? Well, the short answer is, we are one step closer to bringing Daniel home. We now have all the important documents gathered to send our dossier to China. There are a couple more steps required before China will actually receive the dossier, but these should only take a few more weeks. Once our dossier is notarized, authenticated, and sent to the Chinese Consulate in Houston, TX, it will be on its way to China!

Thank y'all for your prayers and support. We appreciate each and every one lifted on our behalf. The Lord has truly blessed each step of this adoption. His provision and peace has showered our family throughout the process. We look forward to updating you as our story to Daniel unfolds.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Confession of a Former R-word User

I remember it like yesterday. I was probably only six or seven years old. I grew up in Southern California during the 70s and 80s, so I missed out on all the huge civil rights movement. To me that might as well have been ancient history. People are people, regardless of color and I never understood why people would ever think otherwise. So one day I was having a conversation with my mother and used the n-word. I,  not growing up in the South, had only heard that word a handful of times but thought this was what we called black people. I meant absolutely no harm. My mother angrily reprimanded me not to use that word. I questioned her with "why?" My mother responded, "that word is not a nice word. It hurts people." I argued, "but it's just a word". In my innocence I had no idea all the history behind that word. I honestly thought this was the word used to describe that race. I meant no harm. I didn't use it to attack or belittle anyone. I now know without even trying, that using that word does just that. Now understanding the full extent of the n-word, I would never use it. When I hear someone use that word, it deep offends me.

I bring this up as I have pondered over the last few weeks something that has burdened my heart. I hemmed and hawed because I most likely will step on some toes, but finally came to the conclusion that this issue will only improve if folks such as myself take the time to voice our opinions. After all, we cannot fix that which we have no idea is broken. Just as I found out how hurtful the n-word is to many people.

Let me preface this next account by saying I did not always have this opinion but because of the friends and family in my life, my heart has changed. Recently, a friend posted on a social networking site, that something was retarded. As I read her status, I felt my heart race, my face redden, and emotions of anger, sadness, and hurt flooded my body at the use of the r-word.  Why? I have loved ones with special needs who fight labels and stereotypes daily associated with that word. I am involved in a community of 1000s who also fight this fight daily. I know from personal experience and the anecdotes others have shared with me that the r-word is never said in positive note and is always used to paint a negative picture. I know the struggle of trying to instill a sense of self worth and value into someone who has been told by the rest of the world she would amount to nothing. I know the harm this word does.

I glanced down to see if anyone left a comment. I hate to point out what many folks think of as a PC misstep. In general, I am not into political correctness and can overlook something if I feel no real harm is done. I would have let it go, but what I read next horrified me. Someone left a comment letting my friend know in a gentle manner that the use of the r-word was offensive and hurtful to her. A back and forth banter of comments followed where my friend defended her usage of the word while the commenter tried her best to inform her how many people find the word hurtful. I felt as if I was leaving my sheep out for the wolves to devour. I decided to comment as well that I too was in agreement with the commenter. I wanted my friend to realize that many, many people take offense at the use of the r-word. This is not an isolated person getting bent out of shape over the improper use of a word. I wanted my friend to know that there is a very sizable community of people and families who struggle daily to undo the hurt and shame that word causes our loved ones. Our most vulnerable and innocent, who deserve to be protected and encouraged are instead made to feel less worthy each time this word is said or written inappropriately. Words such as dull, crazy, silly, asinine, dumb, idiotic, ridiculous, foolish, irritating, senseless, ludicrous, absurd, annoying, pointless, flighty, ditzy, and goofy paint a much clearer picture without denigrating an entire population of people.

What happened next is the reason why several weeks later I am still upset. My friend vehemently defended her usage of the word offering no apologies for offending anyone. Then several of her other friends also commented that we were the ones out of line; we are the ones who should get over it. I shake my head with sadness knowing that just because something is acceptable to the masses does not make it right. We appeared outnumbered and that saddened me.

Wondering who the original commenter was, I clicked on her personal wall to find several mentions of autism and special needs resources. My guess is that this commenter has a loved one who fights this label regularly. I do not know her but I am sure my friend does.  I totally get that not everyone has friends and family with special needs and would not be as sensitive to this issue. But just as I once innocently used the n-word and the r-word, I  now know that words can hurt, whether we intend them to or not. I made a conscious effort to eliminate those words from my vocabulary in the same way I stopped cursing once I was a parent. I didn't want my children to hear or use those words so I lead with my example.  Now you also know; so what will you do?

"...once our eyes are open, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible." Psalm 24:12

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Help! Are you an Amazon.com user?

Do you shop on Amazon? Most people I know find themselves on that site at the very least occasionally shopping. Amazon allows you to shop for just about anything and compare prices. Personally Lou and I order from Amazon.com at least once a month if not more often. I bring this up now because we are now Amazon Associates. You can access Amazon.com through our link. It costs you nothing additional. The site will look exactly as it always had before. The only difference is instead of typing it directly from your browser, you enter through our link. It is that easy! I hope if you already shop on Amazon.com you will remember us before you place your order. We thank you so much for helping bring Daniel home.

Here is our link:

Shop at Amazon.com