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 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 at least once a month if not more often. I bring this up now because we are now Amazon Associates. You can access 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 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

Friday, November 1, 2013

It's Angel Tree Time!

Today, November 1 marks the start of Angel Tree for Reece's Rainbow. This campaign will run until December 31. Reece's Rainbow exists to help orphans with Down Syndrome and other special needs to find their forever families. They offer a website with a photo-listing of waiting children as well as grants to ease the financial burden of an international adoption. Angel Tree is Reece's Rainbow biggest campaign to build the children's grants and intentionally advocate for a family.  Last year was my first time as a warrior and I loved it.

I initially felt with all the fundraising for Daniel's adoption, that I shouldn't take on doing Angel Tree this year. I worried that I couldn't give my Angel all that he may need to find him a family and raise his grant. These kids already have so much stacked against them so I feel they deserve to have someone who can give it their all. The Lord continued to prompt me that I just needed to be His hands and feet and allow Him to do the work through me. So here I am. His instrument.And here is my sweet Angel boy: Lyle...

                                           All donations are tax deductible

Isn't he adorable?
Lyle was found in the waiting room of a train station when he was 3 years old. While he can only speak a few words, he understands what is said to him by adults. He is very protective of his friends and will go to their rescue if they are being bullied. He likes to dance and is very good at imitating dances he sees. He is able to dress himself, take care of his own toileting needs and feeds himself. His caretakers feel that he is a bright little guy although intellectually delayed compared to his peers.
He likes to be kissed on the cheek and will respond back with multiple kisses. Lyle is waiting for a family that will cover his little cheeks with kisses and shower him with love.
Lyle lives in an orphanage in an East Asian country. He is now six years old and was born with Down Syndrome. I think he sounds amazing! Who wouldn't want a son who protects the children from bullies and likes to give and receive kisses?

If you would like to follow along with our Angel Tree progress, I keep a separate blog just for my Angel.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Lego Prize Winners

It took a bit longer than I had hoped to get all thirty-five of our giveaway spots filled but we finally did it tonight and I am so excited for the people who won these fabulous Legos.  I really wish all of you could have won because honestly you each deserve to win for the support you offer us in Daniel's adoption.

Our first prize winner is Elaina L. I still need to find out which of the three awesome sets she chooses.

Our second prize winner is Laura W. She will receive a Lego Advent Calendar.

Our third prize winner is Theresa D.R. She will receive the Lego Fall Set.

And our fourth prize winner is Heather P. She won the mini-figure sets.

Congratulations to all of our winners! Thank you again for your generous support.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Happy Tears

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy! I opened my email to receive a wonderful gift for this mama's eyes. Daniel's birthday was earlier in the month. I so wanted him to get his gift and cake for that day but found out his birthday falls in a major Chinese holiday and all the orphanage workers would be on vacation that week. The service we used assured us the workers would give him his party once they were back. Today I received pictures of him at his celebration. I cried happy tears seeing his precious face as he learns he has been chosen. This is his first birthday party. Only the children with families in process of adopting them would get a birthday party. I have no idea how many times he attended another child's birthday party wondering  if he would get his turn.  Enjoy!

Look at that gorgeous cake!

The nanny is reading him our letter, telling him we want to be his family.

Making a wish!

Blowing out the candles!
Sharing with his friends. 

I can tell he is in a wonderful orphanage and receives good care but nothing can take the place of having a family. Daniel, we are working our tails off to get you home as quickly as possible. Happy birthday, sweet boy!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Another Milestone Completed

There are certain milestones in an international adoption that once reached are met with joy, elation and relief. International adoptions are a multiple step process. The first part is preparing a home study. It really is more like a family study. A social worker interviews you and your children about your upbringing, values, strengths and weaknesses. Questions are quite invasive and often you find yourself apologizing and trying to explain motives and behaviors from actions that happened twenty five years ago. If you are a young person reading our blog, think long and hard about your actions that may in fact had long term consequences. The innocent pranks you thought would be so fun now, may make your life difficult even thirty years later. Believe me, I know. It isn't a deal breaker; it just makes the process longer and harder.

Every member of the family also has a physical examination. I guess they want to make sure that the children I already care for are healthy and well taken care of by us. Some countries disqualify  you for certain diagnosis, medications, or conditions.

All adults are fingerprinted and investigated by every state you ever resided in. I am  grateful that we didn't move around much. I feel bad for those families that moved around every other year and now need state clearances from a dozen different states.

In addition, they want passport copies, birth certificates, our marriage certificate, tax returns, statements of Lou's employment, statement that I am a homemaker, statements of our financial position, letters of reference from non related people who know how we parent our children, and letters from doctors explaining that although are bodies are a bit tattered and showing our age, we can indeed hold up to the stressors of another child.

The whole process requires you as a family to gather documents, drive to appointments, and ultimately depend on other people to do their part...other people who do not share the same urgency we do to complete this home study.

Once everything they demand of you is handed over and the written document is completed, your home study is forwarded to your placing agency, who hopefully loves what they see, requires no editing and signs off that it is good to go. If all goes as planned this entire process normally takes two to four months.

Well folks, I am so very happy to announce that after working on this for three months our home study is DONE! As I type, it is en route via the US Postal Service and should be in my hands today or tomorrow.

The celebration will be short lived as the next step is dealing with immigration. I am already lifting prayers up for our paperwork to be handled timely. This step took ten months for Phoebe's adoption so I am nervous about landing in this phase of our adoption. It typically takes two to three months to complete this process so I am hopeful we will be typical this go around. 

I have yet to receive any pictures or updates from Daniel's birthday but am still hoping we get something. I would love to see his reaction to being chosen. When and if I get any, I will post.

Our fundraising efforts continue...We still need thirty more entries for our fabulous Lego Giveaway.  Every $20 donated to our Reece's Rainbow account will be entered into a drawing for fabulous Lego prizes. Please leave a comment or email me at with your name and email address so I can notify you if you win. Click Here to Donate.

 First prize is a choice of Lego City Town Square, Lego Winter Village Cottage, or Duplo Town Set.

Second Prize is the Lego City Advent Calendar

Third Prize is the 2013 Fall Scene

Fourth Prize is two sets of Lego Mini Figures

We also have a fundraiser through Trades for Hope. This wonderful company empowers women in developing countries to build sustainable businesses through artisan crafted products. The items are lovely, unique and I hope you take a moment to browse and shop. This event helps these women and their families as well as our sweet Daniel.
Victory Necklace for Breast Cancer Awareness Month
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for offering support to our Daniel. Please continue to pray for our process to go smoothly and for Daniel's preparation to be in a family.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Love Legos?

I do love Legos. These indestructible blocks have infinite possibilities only limited by our imaginations. Over the last twenty five years, I have gathered umpteen blocks, accessories, mini figures and building plates to satisfy my children's insatiable desire to build. Until a year ago, I was kind peeved with Lego for making all of their sets a bit boyish themed...Star Wars, Batman, Ninja Turtles, Cars, Monsters and the like. You get the picture. My girls never cared. They built with the "boy" stuff anyway. Every year I would moan about the fact that girls like to build and why didn't Lego release any girlie themes. Well I must have whined so long and loud they heard me and made a new product targeting girls Lego blocks, pets, horses, fashion, music. Yay, this momma was so happy. My girls do love them. It has opened a whole another genre of creative play that didn't exist with those primary blocks.  Now we have pink in the mix with those primary blocks, and the flowers and butterflies intermingle with the treasure chest, swords and ammo.

Lego is one of those products that crosses gender as well as age lines. I know grown men who have Lego sets they would never dream of parting with in their lifetimes. I envision they will be willed to their grandchildren at some point. The crazy thing is, they will most likely be in perfect working order. These toys don't break or wear out! The water doesn't damage them. We have had many a pirate ship in the bathroom sink. I do warn that puppies could mangle them pretty badly and may render them unusable, but the toddler I care for full time has found a large Duplo Lego brick that is awesome for teething on and he has yet to leave any teeth marks. They are that awesome.

Would you like to get your hands on some of your own? Add to your collection? Give to someone you love? How would you like to possibly win your very own cool set of Lego while helping us raise the ransom for our Daniel?  Today is your lucky day! For each $20 you donate to our account on Reece's Rainbow, you will get an entry for a Lego giveaway. This is limited to the first 35 people to donate, so your chances are pretty good of winning something. Let me introduce you to the prizes...

1st Prize:
Choice Of One Winter Village Cottage, Lego Town Square, or Duplo Town Set
Winter Village Cottage

Lego Town Square

Duplo Town Set

2nd Prize:

Lego Advent Calendar

3rd Prize:

Lego Fall Scene 2013

4th Prize

Two sets of Mini Figures

Who's ready for some Legos? Who's ready to help this boy come home to our family?

 All donations are tax-deductible 

Once you donate to the account, please leave a comment with your full name and email so I can notify you if you win. I will not publish any of those comments.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What's Up?

What's going on? I wish I had more to report back to you. Our home study is nearly complete. All the necessary paperwork is in, the social worker has finished her final edits. Our China agency will review it and hopefully it won't require too many changes. The social worker and agency will work together to ensure it is written to match China's criteria. I am optimistic it can be done this week but also realistic enough to know, things aren't always that simple so I won't hold my breath. We are eager to get our hands on this home study as it is necessary for our next step dealing with Homeland Security and Immigration.

Some of you may have wondered if the government shutdown affects our process. The short answer is no, it shouldn't. In order to file our I800a paperwork for immigration, we pay a hefty service fee. Because this is a payment for services, our government will gladly take our money and keep this process moving forward. There may be some delays with securing our visas or consulate appointments when we travel, but these are scenarios we don't have to worry ourselves with yet.

Daniel had a birthday, last week. He is now seven years old. Seven years without a family. I wonder if he still has hope for a family or if by now, he has given up that a family would want a seven year old boy with hydrocephalus. I arranged to have birthday cake and gifts sent to him at the orphanage. We also were able to send him a letter and photo album to introduce our family and tell him we want to be his family! I would love to be a fly on the wall and see his expression when learns he has been chosen! Shortly after ordering his birthday package, I found out it was a major Chinese holiday that week and he would not receive his package till later this week. I am sad for him that another birthday came and went with no gifts or party but this week will hopefully make up for it. Hopefully the orphanage staff will take some pictures to pass on to us. I am eager to see his precious smile.

Some of you may wonder how our fund raising efforts are coming along. Honestly I wish I had a better report for you. We had an Usborne book fundraiser, adoption t-shirt sale, and our Reece's Rainbow account has been up for over one month and has raised roughly $200 of the $30,000 needed to bring Daniel home. It really is a drop in the bucket and yet I have seen first hand how God puts all these drops together miraculously and we get a full bucket. I am trusting He will provide. He has always been faithful and I have no doubt that He will again.

So what is next? I have a couple more fund raising ideas. We will be selling some gorgeous jewelry and crafts in the next month and just in time for Christmas gifts. Lou is doing an iPad Mini raffle at his workplace that continues through the whole month of October. I will update you with our latest news as soon as it comes in.

Please continue to pray for this process to continue smoothly, for our Daniel's health and preparation to be in a family, and for our fund raising efforts.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Because He Loved Us First

For the last week I have been working with an organization, Fund the Nations, to customize a design for our adoption T-shirt. As we emailed back and forth trying to fine tune just the right image to portray our heart for adoption, I was struck by the difficulty to package all of my emotions concerning adoption onto a t-shirt front. Adoption is about redemption, family, hopes and dreams. It is about stepping out of your comfort zone and taking risks. At times it is about obedience. We tend to keep ourselves so busy and hurried that we often forget to listen to his call. We have definitely been there. We have had that argument with God in the past. "I have enough on my plate. I am too busy already. Adoption is expensive. I don't know if I could handle all of the special needs this child may bring into our family..." Our list of excuses to God of why another adoption is not in order seem endless. At some point, God's ways prevail though. Our Father has a way of breaking through all of our excuses and leading us gently to obedience. It is an obedience not done out of fear but out of love for my Father. "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves His child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is to love God: to obey His commands. And His commands are not burdensome." I John 5:1-3.

Adoption is about love. Loving someone in spite of their past. Loving someone who may not be able to reciprocate at first or possibly ever. Loving someone enough to break out of your comfortable life. Loving someone on the other side of the world that you have never met or spoken to before. Loving, just because you were asked to love. Why would anyone do that? The cost seem so high. We love because Jesus first loved us. As His follower I want to be like Him. My salvation came with a high price and I recognize I am not worthy of the cost Jesus paid but He loved each us enough to do it anyway.

So back to the T-shirt...I think the message summarizes my heart for adoption. It really is all about His love.

Lou says we are going to lose money on this fundraiser but I would love to prove him wrong. My goal is to sell 75 of these lovely Ts. They are preshrunk 100% cotton and available in sizes Youth M-XL and Adult S-XXXL. $23 to PayPal to Remember to leave your size and the correct shipping address if not local.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Raising the Ransom

It is not uncommon to question how families gather all the necessary funds to complete an international adoption. Most folks do not have an extra 30k sitting around. We are no different. We did not walk into this blindly though. We knew it would require hard work and some sacrifice from our family. As part of our fundraising efforts I take care of an infant full time in my home. This is not a new venture for me as I have taken care of infants both in my home and in facilities for almost twenty-five years. I truly enjoy working with families and nurturing their little ones as they grow and learn. This also allows me to be home with my children.

When we were full time missions we used these funds to make ends meet but now that Lou is working full time in the secular business world again, I would normally use this small income to pay for extras, such as lessons or excursions for the kids. In the future we will return to earmarking those funds for their extracurricular activities, but for now the children are foregoing any extras and we are setting aside the money to raise Daniel's ransom.

You see we have been called to bring this child home as our son. He needs medical attention for his hydrocephalus (water on the brain) that thus far has not received medical intervention. Fortunately, his cognitive abilities have not been affected by the swelling in his brain, but sadly he recognizes that his condition was definitely a consideration when his birth family abandoned him and that his larger head most likely scared other families from stepping forward to adopt him.

This is why I cannot make him wait any longer for a family. Every child regardless of their abilities or disabilities, their age or their sex, deserves to have a family. Older boys with special needs are usually the last to be chosen by families. It is so sad to think that at the tender age of six he is considered an older boy but that is the reality. So in addition to scrimping, saving and working full time in daycare, we will also be doing some fundraising. It is our hope that some of you will partner with us in raising this ransom so we can bring him home sooner rather than later. He has waited nearly seven years to know the love of a family. I do not want to make him wait a day longer than necessary. So without further adieu, I would like to introduce you to our first ransom raising event...

Angela, a fellow adoptive momma, who is also in the midst of raising her own ransom to bring home her child from China, has offered us this exciting opportunity with Usborne books. She is generously donating all her profits to Daniel's adoption! These books are absolutely wonderful. They will surely add value to your child's library or make awesome gifts. This link takes you to our e-party that starts today and will go for the next two weeks. Please take a look! They offer books for children of all ages.

Thank you, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Another Blog?

 Our family was built from both births and adoptions. I am blessed to know that the Lord has allowed me to parent on this earth five wonderful, unique, and challenging children and for that I am grateful. In the past I have blogged, with a specific purpose in mind. Well, this blog must have a purpose then too? You guessed it! We are expecting again! Not pregnant though. I'm too old to be carrying around a newborn 24/7. I have two grand babies you know. Our next child is an adorable six year old boy, born with hydrocephalus, and living in China. He has the sweetest smile and I can't wait to get him home. We are currently working on our home study but hopefully that will be done in the next couple of weeks.

Can't wait to give this boy a hug!