>Happy Birthday Miss M!

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Happy bday Miss M!
Today you are eleven!

I am so happy for you, I think you are ready for eleven.
Ten was good, but I suspect that eleven will be even better.
And yeah, I can’t believe you are eleven already!

As you have told me, more than once, you are not just the usual eleven year old girl!

You are so right: you are remarkable.
You have the biggest heart I’ve ever seen, and an old soul.
You have more compassion, built in, than most folks I’ve ever met.

You worry and fret like an old lady, but in a good way.
You carry the burdens of others, sometimes too much.

You might tend toward a little bit of moodiness, but it’s tempered by your love of a good joke.
I love it that I can almost always coax a smile out of your frown.
You are stronger than most, physically, but also in your character.
God has made you strong for big things ahead, I suspect.

You are a little mamacita, and you help me so much!
You love dolls though, still…and I love that you and your sister can play dolls for hours.
You still are crazy for mermaids!
You are a sophisticated eater, I love that.
You love coffee, almost as much as I do!
And that Latte Blast cake for your bday tonight?….YUM.
You are such a homeboday, and a great companion….
even as  you have already started traveling the world.

Eleven will be a good year, I know it.
You are becoming a great beauty, inside and out.
We are SO proud of you!
I hope all your  birthday wishes come true.
 
We love  you so very much.
Happy Happy Bday to my girl!

>O, Christmas: O Antiphons

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Last year I posted daily on the O Antiphons.  This year has been a bit too crazed for me to post daily on, um, anything!  However, my son, Buddybug, has.  So this is a shameless brag on my boy and a link to his site so you can get them there.  They really are beautiful.  Go, read, enjoy a little Christmas peace.  (And we’ll find out just how he had time to post these during finals, later.)

>Happy Birthday Marta!

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Today is our Marta’s birthday!!!
She is thirteen today!

This is, in a way, her first birthday as well. Let me explain: As many of you know, they do not track or record birth days in Ethiopia. Meaning, a specific day or date of birth is typically an educated guess, at best. As a child gets older, and if that child has lost their parents and known relatives, this day fades – if it was ever marked at all. This sounds sad, but over there it is not. Its not a part of their culture, this tradition. But as we all know, its a very big part of ours.

And so, after much speculation, discussion, a little investigation, a bunch of translation….we have come to a day, agreed upon by all: Marta’s birthday. Today. November 11. She is 13 today.

This is a big day for all of us. Our girl’s first birthday. And yes, there will be streamers and candles and songs and cake and ice cream (Ok, ice cream cake). There will be her favorite foods: pasta and salad…and ice cream. There will be great swaths of pink, on the table, the cake, the streamers, the wrapping…..as many surfaces and items we can find, we will all don pink hats and shirts, even the dog….ok, maybe not. But you get the idea. It will be festive.

We will sing and we will take pictures. And give many many birthday hugs. But we will also keep it low key in a way too. Because just like a literal first year birthday, sometimes it can be overwhelming. So we will sit at the table for dinner in our usual spots. Eat her favorite meal, made the same way by mom. And we will still have ESL tutoring and get the laundry done. Because even though the mundane bits of life go on, that underlying crackle of pink specialness can still glow through the day. Because that is the beauty of a birthday….that quiet special sense that you are special and you have those who think so too. It is a day to mark with that sure knowledge. And so we will try.

Our Marta Therese on her first and thirteenth birthday:

You are a joyful spirit.
A simple happy complicated girl.
You love to sing and laugh at mom sing.
You love to laugh at everyone else dancing.
One day we will get you to dance too.
You are a beauty.
Someday you too will know you are a beauty too.
A good chunk of your beauty shines from inside.
This is the truest kind of beauty.
You truly deeply love the your faith, God, and the Mass.
And that inspires.
You love to laugh.
You love to play.
You can be silly as a small child.
You can be as demanding as a small child.
And as moody as any teen, ever.
You are impatient and stubborn.
You are helpful and compassionate.
You hate math.
You love pink.
You are working so hard on learning english.
But you really hate math.
Almost as much as you hate learning to tell American time.
You love to write cards to your Grandma.
And to sew quilts of your own design.
And you do not want any help, unless the machine busts.
You love pink, in anything and everything.
You love pink ice cream, yogurt, pjs, sweaters, socks, pens.
Pink.
And a dash of cheetah print might be nice too.
You love football.
It could only be better if they players wore pink, maybe.
You are my only kid who is excited for braces.
And yes, they are pink!

You have been home almost four months.
It feels like you just got here.
It feels like so much longer.
We are all slowly growing toward and in each other.
It’s a long process.
But it can’t be rushed.
It’s kind of like this birthday:
It’s marked by a 13, but its new and old at the same time.
Everything about us, each other, is new to each other.
But so many things too, are old in their way.
Mom dad daughter sister family.
It’s age old.
And brand new.
Just like a birthday really should be.

Happy Happy Birthday Marta.
We love you and are so proud of you.
We hope all your wishes come true!

>Bucket O Beach

>It was beyond great to be at the beach last week; to spend time with my family, have Marta meet my family, to breath deeply that salty ocean air. It is one of the few places in the world I really relax. But again… you’ve “done your time.” I’m not gonna blather on here.
This post is for the pics:


Uncle David, my big bro.

With Uncle John, my baby brother.





>I went to DC but I didn’t see Michelle Obama

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But I DID get to see my nephew graduate!

David is our first college graduate of this generation. Frankly, none of can quite believe he is, or we are, already that old!

Ah, but we are all so proud. He’s graduated from Georgetown and he’s going to South Africa this summer for the second time/year in a row. He is working with a community-building foundation there and is now doing fellowship with them; fundraising as well as hands on work on the ground. His younger brother (19, Matt, shades, below) is going too, six weeks of teeny township and community living. I am one proud aunt!

And I did get to go to a swishy ball at Penn Station and have a fun two days with my only sister and her family! Crazy crowded (this pic is before it got crowded) and great people watching, music, food, bars…
Cool decor with living statues of important historic figures and models of buildings….turning the lovely Penn Station into a faboo swell party. But the best thing about the party was hanging with my nephews (Michael and David, below, Matt came later) and my Sis and bro-in-law.
Graduation was on the lawn, it was the perfect afternoon in that the rain held off and I got to hang in the fresh air with my favorite sister!
We had a big time. Two old middle aged moms, watching the world pass by, having a nice afternoon in the sun, saving seats, smiling at nervous grads. Lovely. Just a lovely proud afternoon.

My sis and I kept scanning the crowd for “very important people” to accost, erm, politely approach and speak to about the TB protocols. But we didn’t see anyone we recognized. I had hoped to get a meeting with Michelle Obama, but she was in Merced. Something about a commencement speech…. I’ve been in Merced. I got a speeding ticket there once…hmmmm. Anyhow, so we just missed each other. But I can hop a plane back anytime…so Michelle, give me a call!

>Mothers connected united

>It’s Mother’s Day. And I’m missing my daughter.

So, I’m stewing and reaching further and further the only way I can in my effort to bring my girl home. I’m sending this out to the world of moms, a plea that is relying on our connectedness, our unity as moms.

You see, you all know that we are having a hard time getting the right person to hear us. To HEAR us, see us, really look at this as a real live girl who is stuck away from her family, her mom….

And so today my mind is spinning..who can help people be heard? Who gets heard and seen? If Oprah Winfrey had a daughter stuck in this, would she be heard? Would Hilary Clinton be heard? Would Michelle Obama? Do you have to be a major world leader or celebrity to be heard or seen?

I don’t know….but I do know the power of connection.
I know the power of women to reach out to each other.

I know the amazing surprising connectedness of the blogosphere.

So, I’m taking a giant step. I’m posting this letter. It is a letter that was sent to join with other stories of the human cost of this policy. It’s about us. It’s about what this means to my family. This letter IS about us, our family, our daughter. However, this policy will snare other families, it already has and it will more. This policy has to change. So this letter is for the families coming behind us too.

And if you know anyone who might be able to hear and see this and make a difference, or just plain care….to try, to pray, to help – us or the next family snared by this..then please, pass it on.
Because we are united, we moms, I think…in wanting our children to be with us, safe, happy, ok. We want all the kids to be home, to find a home.
To come home.

That’s what we moms do….every day.

It’s long…but it’s real. It’s not meant to be along whining rant: it’s an attempt to show the layers of personal cost. Thank you for indulging a mom who will do whatever it takes to get her daughter home safe, now.

To whom it may concern:

We have a daughter in Africa, an AIDS orphan . . . placed in limbo by our own government. We are Tom and Michele Gautsch, we live in Tennessee. Tom is an Orthopedic Surgeon and Michele is a full time mom. We have a total of eight children now that we have adopted Marta (12 yrs old) in Ethiopia. Three of our children are biological and now five are adopted, three from the U.S. and two from Ethiopia.

We are very, very anxious to unite our family. We had the unfortunate timing of our court date being scheduled just behind the new TB screening regulations and we have been stopped in our effort to go and bring home our daughter, Marta, from Ethiopia.

We passed court successfully March 31, 2009, after just short of a year of work in the extensive adoption process. According to the Ethiopian government, Marta is our daughter in all ways, most certainly, legally. We know she is our daughter not only legally, but spiritually, morally, ethically – in all ways, she is our daughter. However, on March 23, 2009, the U.S. CDC began phasing in new TB SCREENING requirements, and it is the rigid interpretation of this protocol which is preventing us from bringing our daughter home, for at least two more months and possibly many more. Marta is a post tb patient, however her tb left a scar on her lungs, and thus on her chest xray. It will never be normal. The rigid application of this screening protocol doesn’t allow the panel physician to clear Marta to travel, even though she has a known tb status: post treatment. This protocol was for screening unknown tb status. Our Marta’s status is documented: adequate treatment, successfully completed.

The screening that Marta is being delayed for has never been proven to effectively reduce the rates of tuberculosis in the immigrant population. In fact, the vast majority of first world countries don’t do this screening at all, and the ones that do, screen the immigrants after they arrive in the country. If we were British, or French, or Norwegian, Marta would be home with us, right now. The CDC has arbitrarily decided to implement this policy in only twenty countries. There are seven countries with a higher endemic incidence of TB than Ethiopia, where the CDC does not require screening with TB cultures. If Marta was from China or India, both countries with ten times more TB prevalence than the U.S., she’d be home right now.

Our family was supposed to travel Saturday, April 25th to Addis Ababa to meet our daughter again and bring her home. We had an Embassy appointment for our visa scheduled on April 29th. On Friday afternoon, April 24th, the day before we were to travel, we were called by our agency and told not to come. This news, to say the least, was devastating. We had spent the past many weeks organizing and preparing for our trip. We had to make arrangements for the younger children to have a good caregiver in our home, plus of course prepare them for our time away. We had been gathering and organizing and packing our donations and humanitarian aid for many weeks. Thomas, the dad, had to make extensive arrangements to be away from his solo surgical practice, schedule patients for surgery around his planned trip in order to maximize their care as well. By Friday we were packed and ready to go, the excitement at the house was at a peak for all…until that call came. Then it all came crashing down.

In disbelief, Tom started manning the phones, trying to find a way, any way to talk to someone about this. Michele was simply devastated, crying, trying to console the kids while her heart was breaking. Tom spent until almost four a.m. researching the protocols, the actual risks of a post TB patient and learning the data on TB in immigrants in the US and around the world. He spoke with contacts at the CDC, as far away as Kenya, and everyone said, “This is silly, she should be able to travel, she’s post treatment.” So, until sometime after 4 a.m., the morning of the 25th, (we had to leave by 5:30 a.m.), we hoped to still make our flights and go meet our girl. However, we hit a wall of bureaucracy and were told, again, in the early hours of that morning, “don’t come.”

And so we did not go. Full stop. We have been wracked with worry over our daughter and depression over the situation. This manifests physically, in all the normal ways. It is hard to not be depressed, it is hard to kick back into the regular cheerful routines of a busy family life.

On a practical, material level, this has also had a tremendous cost. For Tom, he lost a week of work. When you schedule 10 days out of a solo surgical practice, it is not a simple matter to just fill your work schedule back up on the spur of the moment. You lose the days and the income that would have been generated. In fact, you continue to pay the normal operating expenses, but are not, literally, operating. This would have been a planned financial cost. But now, having to plan for an entire new trip, we will have to incur it twice. That is a very significant, large, financial burden. Of course our plane tickets, six of them, had to be returned, with penalties for cancellation and changes. Many other summer plans have had to be reworked and still have not been able to be figured out; this delay affects our children and extended families and their plans – put on hold – as well. Our bags of humanitarian aid remain stacked in our foyer. Our suitcases with personal clothes have been unpacked, but our smallest children still ask when we are going, confused.

For Marta’s health, she needs to come home and have adequate nutrition, safe surroundings and the love of a family to help her heal from the many traumas she has experienced in her life. Staying in an orphanage, half a world away from her parents and family, does nothing to help heal the heart and body of this child, our daughter. Even several months away from her family makes a difference to a child, especially one this age and with her life experiences.

The hardest part, perhaps, for our hearts as parents, is Marta’s experience. Marta is not a toddler or infant. She is an older child. She is twelve. So she has awareness of what is going on, but is not yet old enough to fully understand the details. Any older orphan, in particular, is going to really wonder if it could possibly be true: “do they really have a family? For real? Is it really going to happen?” Because to an orphan, one who has already lost both her parents and everything she ever had, ANYTHING can happen and NOTHING is forever or for sure. And this is what our Marta now has experienced: she wondered if we were really coming…they said we were. But – we didn’t show. And that was explained to her, they said, and they tried to make her understand the delays and that we would come as soon as we could. However, even if her head can hear and understand a bit of the explanation, what is imprinted on her psyche and her heart is the confirmation of her deepest fear: we didn’t show. Period. And that will have a long term cost to this young girl, and our family, that you can’t measure in computer data.

The CDC cannot measure the scar that is left by this. They can quantify the scar left on her lungs by the TB. But they cannot, nor do they care to, measure the scar left by this unwarranted delay. We can, we will live with it and try to help her over it. But this didn’t have to happen.

This can be changed with a simple decision to see Marta as an individual, as a patient if you like, but best, as a child. Marta is not a random immigrant who will vanish into the unknown masses in our country. She will not drain the country’s resources, nor will she be a risk to the health of the greater population. She is our child. She is coming into a family where her dad is a doctor. We had to prove we were willing and able to care of her, to the fullest extent, in every way and document this with Homeland Security, even before we were allowed to proceed with the long adoption process. We think you would be hard pressed to have a more documented or well tracked person come into the U.S. than an adopted child.

Marta is a child of U.S. citizens, her life and family is here. She is our daughter, and she needs to come home.

Sincerely,

Tom and Michele Gautsch
schoolmom5@comcast.net
tlgautsch@comcast.net

>Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

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Happy Mother’s Day!

Today is the day I think of all the moms: my kids’ birthmoms, my sisters, my friends, my mother-in-law I miss, and of course, my own mom.
I wish I could be with her and my sibs today as they celebrate.
In lieu of that I’m putting up a few rare pictures of her.
Above is one of the rarest:
Mom and all her kids, at the house where I grew up (I’m in front in the way short sundress).

I love her and wish I could hug her today..but am saving up all our hugs and kisses for when I see her next month.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms!
And to you, Mom, you’re the best, I love you!

>Look Who’s Reading Now!

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Little Man is reading!

As a mom, not to mention a homeschool mom, this is a pretty big deal!
These are a couple of the books he got for his bday, in the new amazing Leapfrog Tag system (how do they do that?). No, he’s not really reading those yet, it’s just a cute pic.

But he is actually reading – decoding letter sets into understood words and short sentences.
Yes, it’s just the “Bob” books, but we are all pretty thrilled.Anyhow, this is one of those things that kids come to on their own time frame, I’m convinced. Some do it sooner, some do it later…but only when they are ready. But no matter when it happens…even these tentative baby steps, it’s just exciting.
I told him “Reading is power, if you can read, you can do anything!”
We both think that’s just cool, and true.

Now, if only they made the “Bob” books in Amharic…..then maybe I’d be reading too!

>Adoption and Counting

>One of the little known facets of adoption is the whole counting thing.
It is found with all types of adoption, domestic or international.
But the international counting gets a little more obsessive, I’d say.
There is counting everywhere you turn (and NO not only for those of us compulsive controlling types, we all do it, I took a poll).

You count the paperchase, each step in it gets its own countdown.
You count the months from dossier landing, anticipating a referral.
Once you get a referral you count the weeks until court, then the weeks to travel.
Then the days to travel count down.
Then you count the days you are in country.

Of course, if you are just a really laid back kind of person, or really detached in the spiritual holiness sense, then you don’t count. You just live in the present moment.
Good for you.

I’m not that holy.
I count.

I even count the hours ahead, eight, of the time each day….kind of checking in, figuring out what she’d be doing now.
Don’t judge me, I can’t help it.

But today, as I was out trying to make a dent in the elfin duties of the season, another sort of counting was rattling in my brain.
I was counting kids.

I am often asked how many kids I have.
This often happens when I show up with a towering cart at the market or when I am shopping for stocking stuffers and buy in gross.
Like today.

And so today I was thinking, what do I say?
How do you respond to that when you are in the process limbo?

To the observer, when I am buying in bulk or when I have all the kidletts -big and small – in tow, I am sure they must think the number looks something like this pic, below.
Yeah, two of those are officially mine. Front and center, the cute ones.
And I can go all philosophical on you and say, that pic is from World Youth Day in Cologne, they are all my children, as a mother in this world I care about them all.
But that would be too flip.
And nauseating.

But really, how do I answer that?
I could say I have seven children. Count the bouncy balls in my cart: seven.
But then am I short-shrifting “M”, so far away?
Will that somehow resonate across the globe?
Somehow, oddly it feels like it does.
But then again, the process can make you a tad hyper-sensitive too and I don’t want to overstate (for a change, but I will, I can’t help it).
And so, if I follow that, I say “I have eight children.”
Then it too, feels not quite there.

Because while on this side of the world we’ve been given the ok and it’s almost a formality that she is our daughter….on the other side, in Ethiopia, it is very much not a done deal.
And it could go wrong.
It’s happened.
Until the court says she is our daughter, can I claim her?
Can I?

I have in my heart and head and energy and effort. I’ve taken the hits of scorn and derision.
I have fought for her.
And I have prayed for her, and do, every day.

But until it’s official in her country and culture and legal process, can I boldly, baldly say, “I have eight children?”
I think so…
But then again, I almost always feel like I need to clarify – we are waiting for court, so we can go get her…bring her home.

Sigh.
So, I think the only way for me to do this is to count.
And I count eight.
Eight children.
I have eight children.
Because she is mine already, part of the fabric of me and us.
And if, God forbid, something unthinkable happens I will still have eight children, I will simply be torn from one.
And the controlling freak part of me wants to push through the counting, shorten it all, because I have claimed her and so it only makes sense that we go bring her to us.
Then she can claim us too.

And we can count, together. A new kind of counting, forward and infinite.

And I bought her a stocking today anyhow, just because. I counted.

>Flying

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Time.
It flies.
Birthdays zip around and around.
You have a cute funny baby boy who looks like this.
And then he grows up. Just like that. Whew!
It’s my son’s birthday today!
Happy Happy Birthday Buddybug!First child, big brother, goofy, happy, strong willed, precocious, sweet.
Smart, kind, good, musician, world traveler, faithful.
This is the first time you are not home with us for your birthday.
You are flying too, on to the adventures ahead;
now in your second college year and thriving.
Our birthday wishes for you remain the same:
a happy, healthy, fun birthday and year to come;
growth in grace, peace, holiness, and knowledge
(especially that knowledge part, um, don’t forget to study!).

I will offer my Mass for you today honey.
I am thankful this day, the day you were born, nineteen years ago.
(and fall break….I’ll make you that graham cracker cream pie!)
God bless you.
We are SO proud of you.
We all love you so much.

Have some cake!

>Java Jive

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This is JUST what I needed to start my day, today.
Made me laugh. Perfect for the Catholic Coffeemom that I am.
Thanks Buddybug! You know me so well.
Go here to the Shrine of the Holy Whapping, for a fun read.

>Trust, Letters and Life

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Well, it’s another Catholic post I guess. But it’s a family post, it’s an adoption post, it’s an “us” (ok, me) post too.

Read on if you dare. It’s long, you know that by now.

It’s been 40 years since the publication of Humanae Vitae“, “Human Life.” That’s the encyclical, the letter from Pope Paul VI on the dignity of human life; the letter that started a cultural firestorm due to it’s stance on contraception. Talk about an unpopular topic and stance – one of the biggies (not the only one, but one of them). This post is not a big gloss on this encyclical, for that go to Darwin Catholic and/or The Deacon’s Bench for a good run down on it. This is about how it impacted me.

St. Peter’s Square, where the action is.

Now, this letter was huge – the ramifications huge. Basically it said that ALL human life is precious and that the act of creating life is God’s alone and the means to that action is also God’s alone – not ours to blockade or strip through scientific/medical intervention. I know, I can hear you all squalling, it’s my body, my life, my/our decision, who is some old Pope to tell us what to do? I get it. I was there. For years, and years, and years. I TOTALLY get it. I felt the same way, exactly.

Then I came back to the Church, which begged the question, what do I do about this? I was so happy to find and deepen my faith again, it was so good. But. How was I supposed to reconcile my natural individualism and STRONG independent streak, a modern educated woman…with this teaching that felt intrusive and old fashioned, almost medieval, at the very least simply outdated and really, behind the curve?

Many modern catholics just kind of flick it off their radar or decide to disagree. But you know, I finally came to the difficult realization that just ignoring Catholic teaching if it wasn’t to my immediate agreement was kind of hypocritical. It was an authority issue for sure. No surprise there. But what did I do with this? Fish or cut bait, if you will. Was I gonna live a true Catholic life or muddle along, kind of …not? So, I had to come to terms with this.

Buddybug, that first baby boy.

I already had three kids, for pete’s sake. I was full up, right? I mean, busy! Heck, three kids meant I was already an over-acheiver by the current cultural norms on the kid front, right? And the third, well she had colic and was a drama queen! My husband was a doc who had to work insane hours, gone so much, we were still in deep debt from all that med school. We were supposed to be good stewards of our life, funds, plan. C’mon anyone would have been justified to continue to use the pill. By anyone’s standards I could check “done that” on my life list and move on (well, almost anyone’s). More, I had cysts, the pill was supposed to help. See, medical necessity! Hmmmm.

I prayed about it, irritated that I was being nudged along this path, totally resistant. I prayed some more, I consulted with our priest, who I loved and respected (and is now our Bishop). He is a tactful man, utterly kind. But he discussed things clearly as well, with all kindness. He gently pointed out that some things are a grave medical need. And some things are control issues. And trust issues.

Booboo, the largest baby, second boy.

Oh.

Well, dang.

You know, I have found that God can be a terrible nag.

Bananas: first daughter, baby number three.

And this pegged it. Bishop (Fr. C) was right. Dang. This was a trust issue. This was a control issue and authority issue which brings it back to a trust issue.

Because I didn’t.
Didn’t trust.
Not really.

I could make the big pitch for it, say the words, follow the prayers. But my heart was really stony on this one, because you know, I was a control freak. I didn’t trust God to be in charge of my family, not really. I was in charge of my family. I knew how many kids I/we could handle. I knew where my breaking point was.

Now the question became what did I do with that? How do I learn to trust more? Remember, I was/am stubborn and a slow learner, slow to change.

So I prayed. Or tried to. Prayed for grace to give up on this, this grip of fear. Because a lack of trust is really, well, fear. It is. For me, at least. It is the fear of not being in control.

I was afraid of having more kids and not being able to handle it on so many levels. My last pregnancy was high risk (due to my huge second baby boy 9lbs 9oz) and they warned me of rupture and the grave dangers of having more kids. More worry.

Just as I was needing to let go, I found myself running across more reading (I am a reader) on the depth of God’s love for us; on His desire for our perfect good. I read and it finally soaked in that God doesn’t want anything for us that will break us, but instead what He sends us, even when it’s scary and nerve-wracking or very hard, is for our greater good and our truest happiness.

Like a Father.
Oh.
Doh.

Like I do for my kids when I say no to that next piece of cake that will make them sick and give them carrots (ok bad analogy, but you get the idea), when I teach them something hard that they are then grateful {eventually} to know. Oh.

Now I had to decide if I really believed that God knew best? Did I know more than God Himself? (did I hang the stars…?) Ok, no.

SBird, fourth baby home, tiniest.

So, I stepped onto a pitch-black stepping stone, one step forward in faith, and agreed to accept the teaching of Humanae Vitae. No, I didn’t have to sign anything, but I gave over. Inside. God could be in control of our family. Of me.

Really.

Oh, man it was kind of nervous making.
But then, kind of liberating.

And, with it, came (as drippy as it sounds) a lifting….I was happier. Somehow, that diving in deeper, the acceptance of this teaching helped bring me closer. And that brought a deeper joy. Go figure.

The Divine Miss M

And no I did not have any more biological children. I was/am open to it. My cysts went away, totally. But I was happier. Our marriage, surprisingly to me, moved into a better place. And, yes, you know the next thing.

God started nudging us to have more children. Another way: adoption. And, as we had decided to accept any children God brought to us, we talked and wondered and prayed and then, kind of nervously, stepped forward. But that story is one for other posts. You know how it ends up though…..

Little Man, third boy, happy boy!
And as it happens, while I thought I knew my breaking point and what we could handle or do…well, God knew better. I know, you all could figure that one out, but I was/am dense. And now, I know, really DO know, that we WILL take as many children as God sends us, any way they come. Beyond my comprehension, God never fails our trust. Ever.

Oh how beautiful is the lesson of Humanae Vitae, Human Life.

Is it easy to have seven kids? Not always, no. It can be crazed and has taken me places I never dreamt, not all of them easy.
Is it easy to trust and let go, still? No.

However, it is glorious. It is beautiful.

I am so thankful for the grace to bend my will, set down my fear, and step one stop forward into the dark. Our seventh, Gabriel Tariku, a gift from Ethiopia.

>What’s in a name?

>
So, I have a question for all you adoptive and blogger moms out there, ok you dads too.

What’s in a name….really?

This is a pic from last spring, that momentous time of high school graduation. This pic is of me and MJK. MJK is our other daughter, in so many ways. She was an exchange student who lived with us for almost two years. From Korea. She became part of our family, even as she has her own family in Korea as well. We consider ourselves her American Family. You can’t really have a teen girl living for years in your home, sharing a room with your preteen girl, and not live as a family. We all had to learn to live together, bridge cultural gaps and misunderstandings and customs. Bridge to each other.

Like any teen girl, she loved to shop and talk, take pictures and wanted desperately to drive! Late nights over ice cream and long discussions over the rules and beliefs of the house, hunting for the perfect dress and helping with homework….standard teen stuff. And so she grew into our family. Our family grew into her. She became our daughter in so many ways. And yet she is also more the daughter of her Korean mother and father, the granddaughter of her beloved grandmother. She is in college now, living at a Korean University. Still, we send parental advice and direction from afar. She calls us ‘mum’ and ‘dad’. We pray for each other. We probably will not live together again, though she might come here again, as a kid does when they come home for a visit. We were, or are, her legal guardians here in the states. Yet we are connected. So we name each other “family.’

Now we are about to add another child, the seventh…eighth if you count MJK. This one, hopefully will be legally ours, adopted into our family in Ethiopia next Thursday if we pass court…and then again once we return home, officially, here in the states.

And, I, being the self-indulgent mom, want to talk about my kids on this blog. And in the fantastic fun and frenzy of excitement over the passes by the families of our agency this week I have seen the photos go up, announcing the pass and the new name of these beautiful children. And these bloggers intro these celebrations using their names. Their real names. I have not yet name my children on this blog, except in nicknames.

No, really, it’s true. I didn’t REALLY name my sons Buddy Bug, or Booboo. That is not on the diploma, no kidding.

But, if I pass court next week, I really want to just SHOUT to everyone that THIS is my new son…..and use his name. His real name. I don’t have a good nickname yet, he hasn’t grown into one with us yet. So, there’s my dilemma.

So. I’m asking. I’ve read all the creepy reasons not to do it. I’ve seen so many in this blog family just go ahead and use real names. What’s in a name? Should I announce his name once we get the big news? (trying NOT to jump the gun w/ thinking about all this, it’s just it’s been so wonderful to see and ‘meet’ these new kids this week, blogwise). What do you think? I know one thing for sure, his name, our SON, is true.

>Why adopt? again?

>Ok, people ask. Why adopt? And again?

So you can have Christmas mornings like this.

And every other day too.

Yes, it’s messy.
In so many ways and levels.

But it’s also glorious. In so many ways and levels.

Because even though it, adoption, is in many ways, a
wildly selfish thing to do – because we WANT another child, want to feel them in our arms and kiss them and feel their chubby arms around our necks and have them fall asleep on our chests so we can take a nap too……even so, it is a thing that we are called to do. All of us, in one way or another. To care for each other, in the ways that we can.

We are all the church, the Body of Christ and we are made to take care of each other. These little ones need us and we need them. We need each other. For different reasons maybe, but for nothing less than that. We need each other. Kids need and deserve a family . I am made to be mom and my kids are made to care for their brothers and sisters. We are made for each other. We are called to each other.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think everyone is called to adopt. But everyone is called to care. We all do that, of course, in different ways. And adoption doesn’t solve the world’s problems. Our adoption in Ethiopia in no way solves the problems that are there. Our adoptions here in the states didn’t solve any of the problems here. But, adoption is one way to make a tiny ripple of difference.

And, adoption did bring this family together in what we believe was part of a plan that is bigger than us. Someone said once to me, “I guess it must have something to do with your beliefs.” Um, yes.
Absolutely.

I believe this boy was meant to be my son. My first born, 18 years ago. {yes, he’s the tall boy in yellow shirt in Christmas shot above, yes, time flies!}

I also believe this boy, my Little Man, was meant to be my son and is just as much so as the first one, above, and the four others in between them.

So, why adopt? The first time? And again? First it was because we had always talked about adoption as an option and something we knew we might pursue. Then, it was because we were finally ready to pay attention to JPII’s theology of the body and being open to life, in all manner and form.

Because we couldn’t let the idea of it go…..God nudged and nagged, chased us down.

Then we did. We adopted our first, a tiny little new baby girl, then another (ok, and another)……Then we realized the most important idea in the world, to us:

Love is a verb.

Love is not a warm feeling, all fluttery and gushy, except sometimes. Love is not being loved back. In no way is it a hallmark card.

Love is doing. No matter what.

{Now, you probably know all this already but I told you I am a slow learner, didn’t I?}
And the cool thing is – when you do for someone…when you walk the floors w/ a crying baby that won’t stop, when you hold a sick kid w/ a fever or bad dreams, when you make yourself get out of bed, again, for the fifth or sixth time that night to go soothe them, when they pee on you, when they ask you for another cup of juice, again….well, you do it. And that brings love. That is love. And there is the bond. It doesn’t matter then how they came to you. You love them. They are yours and you are theirs. You are a family.

So, not to go on, but it comes up so often, especially now, when we are adopting again and our family is getting large – larger than is comfortable for the average American. People look at us sideways like we might be a little bit nuts. And maybe we are. But in the best way. And often they say “Gee, shouldn’t you be done by now? Why are you adopting?” Well, because we can, fortunately. Because we want to. Because long ago we realized we needed and wanted to be open to all the kids God chose to send us.

And send them He does, no one else.

And it is a little crazy maybe.
And it is messy.
And tiring at times.

But it is glorious.

And that is the answer to why we adopt. Again.