Saturday, January 31, 2009

Being Different in an All White Family

The one thing I wanted to hear as an adopted child in an all white family during a troubled time of defining who I was and where I belonged was:

"You are different. You come from a different country, rich with heritage and the spirits of your ancestors. You carry that within your soul, and in your appearance. You were an orphan. It is tragic to lose your mother, father and the brothers, sisters you may have. You carry a sorrow of war and separation like those in your country of birth. You need time to grieve.

You were adopted by us. The world is a wide and varied place. You now live with us and we love each other, love having no boundaries. Others may never learn this, or understand it. It is a gift to treasure if one is lucky enough to know this. A gift to all of us.

Because we love, the hardest road is over. You have our support to explore your heritage and share in ours. It is also yours. You have our support to one day search for your biological family. We are also your family. We don't expect you to be like us. We want you to be yourself, but you are never by yourself. There are many people adopted just like you and we will help you meet them."

By Indigo Williams (excerpt from book: Adoption Parenting)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Kiddos at the Gym

I've been trying to go to Jake's new gym a few times a week to run and 'mentally cleanse' my mind. We usually go in the morning, and Jake is on Daddy duty for about 30 minutes while I run laps. JJ likes to 'shoot around' with Jake while Jayla plays on the floor. Earlier this week when we were there JJ and Jayla's friends were there too, with their Dad, Julian, who coaches and does individual training sessions for the players. We have gotten to be good friends with Julian, and his wife Stacy. They have a son also named JJ, and we found out one night that their baby JJ was born on July 23rd (and our JJ was born on July 22nd)! Pretty cool. Julian & Stacy also have a 4 year old daughter named Nyla, and she and JJ cruise around the gym like they own it. They find all sorts of crazy things to do like turning bumper pads into slides, playing follow the leader, and of course, twisting their Dads arms into buying them numerous unhealthy snacks and candy from the vending machines! Sometimes JJ goes with Jake in the mornings to the gym for some boy time, and when I come and pick him up all I have to do is look at his shirt to see everything he has eaten that morning.....usually m&m's, mountain dew, gatorade, cookies, etc. Anything with sugar and caffeine usually tops the list. Here are some pictures that I took earlier this week of all of them at the gym....
Baby JJ & Jayla

JJ gets consoled by Dad (Nyla accidently shut his fingers in the bathroom door)

JJ & Nyla doing what they do best....snacking

Daddy duty!

What a life (Jayla & baby JJ)!

I wish the paparazzi would leave us alone.

Thumb suckers

We make eachother giggle.

Big smile for mom!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Half of a Day in the Life

6:07am (Tuesday)
“Daaaaaadddddddyyyyyy….” I awake to JJ wailing over the monitor. I wait. “DAAAAAADDDDDDDYYYYYYYYYYYY…..”.

“You got him?” Jake muffles.

“Yeah” I say. I go into JJ’s room. He takes one look at me and screams “Daaaaaaddddddyyyyyy!!!!!!!”

“Do you want to go and snuggle with Daddy while mommy gets showered?”

“Yeah,” he whispers. I tuck JJ into bed with Jake and hit the shower. JJ goes back to sleep in my nice, warm spot on my side of the bed.

6:47am
“Na na na na na….thhhhhh….” I hear babbles and spitting noises over Jayla’s monitor. After one last spray of the hair I head into her room and peer over the rail. She smiles. I get her out of her crib. She seems to have a fever and a runny nose. First cold of the year. She eats and I read. I dress her for the day and we do a blog and make breakfast. As we play I watch the Today show and I am reminded that the audio and video on our new DIRECTV do not match up. I try not to get dizzy as I watch Matt Lauer’s lips move and hear the words that he says 5 seconds after he has said them.

8:15am
I hear our bedroom door open and then footsteps. JJ peeks around the corner and says “Hi!” followed by “Bob!”.

“Good morning, sweetie boy,” I say. “You want to watch Bob the Builder?”

“Yeah,” he says. “Mee, kah kah”.

“You want milk and crackers? You can’t have crackers for breakfast, but I will get you some cereal.”

“Eeeen kah kahl?” he asks.

“No, you cannot have a green popsicle for breakfast. I will get you some cereal.”

We play, get dressed, watch Bob the Builder, and send Jake off to work.

9am
We get ready to go to JJ’s music class. It’s his first one. I think back to what the teacher emailed me about bringing younger siblings to the class. Make sure they are out of the way and not distracting to the other kids. They can sit in an infant seat or in a stroller, or next to you on the ground. But they cannot crawl around or be a distraction to the kids in class. I start to worry. What if Jayla cries the whole time? It would be great if she would take a nap in her seat. What if I have to hold her the whole time and can’t engage in the activities with JJ? What if it is a disaster and we get kicked out of class? Stop worrying and pray I tell myself. Dear God, please let my kids behave well in music class. Amen. Coats on, bags packed, coffee in tow…we are out the door. Oooops, the trash needs to go out. Okay, we are on our way.

“Dad, done, ballin?” JJ asks as we get into the car.

“Daddy will be home at 6:30 for dinner,” I say.

“Mmmmm….mmmmm,” JJ says.

9:30am
Music class. We walk in and are greeted by the teacher. She shows us where to put our bags and then glances at my coffee cup. Ooops. I forgot the studio rules…no food or drink. I set my fuel on a cupboard and mentally prepare myself to drink it cold after class is over. JJ sits on my lap with his blankey as we sing and do songs with actions. Jayla sits next to us and plays with her doll. The teacher brings out the bells. JJ goes and gets one for himself and decides on his own to bring one back for Jayla. We shake the bells to the song and I watch the teacher come over to us. “Those aren’t baby proof,” she says as she gives a discerning look in Jayla’s direction. Oooooops. Sorry Jayla. I take the bell out of Jayla’s hands and put it out of reach. Jayla looks at me and smiles. She watches JJ and I crawl around and be dogs, walk-jump-skip, and bounce to the bouncey song. JJ and I watch the other 2-year olds fight over who gets to hold Rover the stuffed dog. The other baby sibling in the class screams and cries and distracts the kids. She has a runny nose and a cold too. Class is almost over….time to wind down and have snuggle time. We lay on the floor and listen to the soft music. Thank you God that we have almost made it through music class. Thank you God for my sweet kids. Story time. JJ sits on my lap and Jayla sits in front of the floor length mirror and plays and laughs at her reflection for the last few minutes of class. We sing the good-bye song and head to the car. Yay, we made it through without any major catastrophes.

10:45am
“Dad, mmmmm mmmm?”JJ asks.

“No, we are not meeting Daddy for lunch today. We are going to wash the car and then eat lunch at home,” I say.

11:15am
Jayla eats banana chunks in her chair while JJ and I clean up the kitchen from breakfast and make lunch. We eat pizza and chocolate pudding and drink orange juice. For dessert the three of us share popsicles and trade them mid-way through to try out different colors…all the while sharing our germs, drippy noses, and our colds. We play, fold clothes, and sing along to our new c.d.’s from music class.

12:30pm
“Time to read books,” I say.

“Dad, done ballin?” JJ asks.

“Daddy will be home at 6:30 tonight,” I say. “He’ll be home for dinner.”

“Daddy, home, niiiine ferrrty?” JJ asks.

“No, 6:30. Let’s go pick out some books,” I say.

We read books. “What song should we sing now?” I ask, as if I don’t already know the answer.

“Daddy,” he says.

“Oh, the Daddy song,” I say. “He’s got Daddy and Mommy, in His hands, he’s got Daddy and Mommy….” We sing and I tuck him in for his nap.

I go and lay Jayla in her crib for her nap. She looks at me and smiles as I turn on her mobile. I shut her door and mentally plan out my next 2 hours….pick up, start dinner prep, finish the laundry from yesterday…the rest of my to do list stares at me from the post-it on the countertop. I better crank the tunes for this. I put in ol Dino and let him schmooze me with his sultry voice, “When the stars make you drool just like pasta fazul, that’s amore….” Ahhhh….I can feel the ocean breeze.

3:30pm
I am halfway through my to do list for the day. Jayla is still napping. JJ’s bedroom door opens and he peeks around the corner. “Hi,” he says. “Walk,” he whispers as he points to the glider.

“Oh, you want to rock? Okay.” I walk over to the glider and he climbs in my lap, gets his blankey in perfect position, and requests the ‘daddy song’ once more. We rock and sing and I thank God for moments like these. My cup runneth over.

And that is half of a day in our life. Whew!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Power of Example

I'd rather see a sermon, than hear one any day.
I'd rather one would walk with me - than merely show the way.
The eye's a better pupil - more willing than the ear,
Fine counsel is confusing, but example's always clear.
And the best of all the people are the ones who live their creed,
For to see the good in action is what everybody needs.
I can soon learn how to do it if you'll let me see it done.
I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run.
The lectures you deliver may be very wise and true-
But I'd rather get my lesson by observing what you do.
For I may misunderstand you, and the high advice you give.
But there's no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.
Poem By: Edgar Guest

Monday, January 26, 2009

Jake's Thought for the Week

HE IS NO FOOL WHO GIVES WHAT HE CANNOT KEEP TO GAIN WHAT HE CANNOT LOSE.
-Jim Elliott-
TAKE GREAT RISKS. I met Tom Randall in 1976. I remember him as a blur on the basketball court. We were both preparing to go overseas on the evangelistic basketball teams – he to the Philippines, I to South America. The difference between us was that Tom had led the nation in scoring for the NAIA at Judson College. He was six four, he could run like a deer, and it seemed like he never got tired.
Tom was from inner-city Detroit. He talked with a funny accent and seemed kind of crazy. He had only been a Christian for a few months before going to the Philippines to share Christ, but he returned a different man. He later passed up the opportunity to tryout with the Chicago Bulls so he could respond to God’s call to return the Philippines and build a ministry. To prepare himself financially, he worked in the factories of Detroit, and then he sold all that he had and left. Now almost thirty years later; a mission organization has been established (World Harvest Ministries), orphanages have been built, and tens of thousands of people have responded to the gospel.
The key to Tom’s success has nothing to do with theological education or “playing by the rules.” Tom is a risk-taker. Whenever he has heard God’s voice, he has responded with reckless abandon. I’ve been in a Jeep with Tom, with a machine gun pointed in my face, listening to him explain that his friend, “the General,” would be quite upset if we were unable to get to the village where we were scheduled to play. I’ve been on the back of a motorcycle with Tom weaving in and out of traffic, wondering if I would survive the experience. I have more Tom Randall stories than you can shake a stick at, and they all have two things in common: risk and faith.
Tom left for the Philippines thirty years ago with a Living Bible, no formal Bible training, a big heart, and a desire to love a needy people who touched him deeply. In one summer, God turned the leading scorer in the nation for NCAA Division II basketball into a risk-taking, sports missionary whose biography would read like the Indiana Jones of Christendom. He’s known as crazy, wild man inflamed with the love of Christ (who, these days serves as the chaplain for the senior PGA tour). Tom takes great risks, and he has experienced amazing story after amazing story.
Tom’s life has raised some important questions for me: Why does God use some people a lot more than others? Why do some people exclude the presence of God and have supernatural experiences? And why do some Christians seem to be in a special category while the rest of us live regular lives?
I want to suggest that every Christian’s life is marked by windows of opportunity that demand a radical step of faith in order to follow Christ and fulfill his purposes for their life. The difference between good and great is not a matter of knowledge or pedigree but of a willingness to take a radical step of faith.
What makes a step of faith radical is that it will always involve significant risk. In nearly every aspect of your relationship with him, the Lord will bring you to the edge of a decision at which point you’ll have to decide whether to leap in the direction he’s calling you or pull back to a place that seems safe. That was the issue with Jewish believers when the letter of Hebrews was written, and the writer motivated them with the truth that without faith, it’s impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). Where there is no risk, there is no faith.
(This is an excerpt from the book 'Good to Great in God's Eyes' by Chip Ingram.)

Go Attack,
Jake Sullivan

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Pictures

JJ teaches Jayla how to crawl.
No, Jayla, you have to stay on your tummy!

Like this, Jayla!

Playin with the lil people

Pretty in pink

Hello Baby

Kisses for baby

A bite for baby
Poking baby


Video: Let me hear you say Na Na Na Na

video

Friday, January 23, 2009

Solomon Update

This week we received a few more bits of information about Solomon….the two biggest things are 1) He just turned 3 in November! Not 4! and 2) His birthparents are still living! As is the case with many families living in Ghana, and in many areas of Africa, Solomon has been offered in adoption due to financial difficulties. Solomon’s parents are listed as farmers, and he has two older siblings.

On Wednesday when we found out that his birthparents were still living, it really threw in an entirely new dynamic to the situation. I cried off and on all day for Solomon’s birthmother, and this decision that she and her husband had to make. It just doesn’t seem ‘fair’ that we are so blessed here in our country with more than enough, and yet living there she has to give up one of her three children in order for survival. It is hard to imagine the desperate situation there, but I know we will be able to clearly see it once we are there. The hope is that we will be able to meet his birthparents while we are there, and Jake possibly might be able to meet them on his first trip. I cannot imagine what it will be like to look into the eyes of Solomon’s mother and see all the hopes and dreams that she has for her child, and to see firsthand that she is entrusting him to us. I am thankful that I am coming into this already having been a mother, because it has given me a unique perspective on the birthparents decision. It seems like I can feel a piece of their anguish in what it would be like to give up a child, and I can see the hope and trust in God that this is the best decision.

Solomon is schooling and in ‘Kindergarten 2’ at a primary school where he lives, which means he is probably learning English! English is actually the official language of Ghana, although there are numerous other dialects that exist among the various ethnic groups which makes every tribe unique in its group identity. Solomon lives in Adaklu-Sikama in the Volta Region of Ghana. Here is a larger map of Africa showing where Ghana is located (on the left side of Africa, shaded in green).
Acts 17:26-28 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.'

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Names - Part II


JJ Isaiah Sullivan
Okay, I’ll admit it, we gave JJ his short and wonderful name because, well, we thought it sounded sporty! You can already picture it can’t you? The announcer says, “And now, at 6 foot 2, shooting guard out of Huxley, Iowa, J (ayyyyy) J (ayyyyyy) SUUUUUULIVAN!” I am cheering in my seat already! Also, at the time that I was pregnant with JJ one of Jake’s girls’ teams had a slumber party, and they decided that night that they were going to come up with what we should name our baby. The name they decided? JJ. And they had no idea that we also were thinking that name because we hadn’t told anyone yet. A little known fact is that the two J’s actually do not stand for Jake jr. In fact, originally they didn’t stand for anything, hence why there are no dots in between the J’s. But, then, e v e r y o n e wanted to know what JJ ‘stood for’, so I started saying that it stood for Jake & Janel. That answer seemed to work, so we stuck with it! JJ’s middle name, Isaiah, means ‘salvation of God; the Lord helps me’. We gave him this middle name because of its biblical meaning.


Jayla Joy Sullivan
About halfway through my pregnancy with Jayla we had decided that her name would be Bella (I even wrote this to her in my pregnancy journal and told her that this would be her name)! I had always loved that name, and I couldn’t get over it. Then, one night Jake came to me and said that every time he thought of the name Bella he could only picture his brother’s pet bulldog whose tongue hung out of its mouth (b/c the dog’s name was Bella). Around this time I had also started feeling really guilty that we were not planning on giving her a ‘J’ name since the rest of us were J’s….I didn’t want her to feel left out. The problem was that all of the ‘J’ girl names I liked, Jake didn’t like, or he already knew someone with that name. So, a few weeks later I was sitting around trying to think up a ‘J’ name that sounded like Bella. Somehow I got to Jayla in my mind…I kept it as an option and mentioned it to Jake one night. He absolutely LOVED it. Seeing his reaction made me love it more, and then it just kept growing on me….now I couldn’t picture her with any other name…even Bella. When I thought of this name that one night I tried to look up the meaning, but I could not find it anywhere! Everything just said ‘new invented name’ or ‘no meaning’ or it took me to other names similar to it. I just looked it up again today, and found two meanings: ‘happy’ and ‘jaybird’. We’ll stick with happy. Her middle name came because it just sounded perfect with her first name…and everyone I know that has ‘joy’ as part of their name seems radiantly, well, joyful. Here is a cool definition that I found one day about joy:

Joy…
-is not the same as happiness
-is independent of situations and things
-is a gift from God
-increases when you trust God and do what He wants you to do
-is visible to others
Names have a lot of significance.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What You Can Learn From a Name

I think I have mentioned on here before about how much names hold meaning for me. Since finding out that the child we will be adopting is named Solomon, I decided to find out more about his biblical name and to get some insight into why his birthparents chose this name for him. Tomorrow I will be posting about JJ & Jayla's names, which hold much meaning for us.

In general, Solomon's name is of Hebrew origin and means 'peace'. I gave myself a crash course in 1 Kings this past week to find out more about this biblical based name. At the beginning of 1 Kings (Old Testament) Solomon is appointed as the next King by his dying father, King David. King Solomon was mostly known for this one thing: wisdom. At the beginning of his reign as King, God appeared to Solomon in a dream:

1 Kings 3:5 The Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you."

And, out of all the things in the world, guess what Solomon asked for? Wisdom. This was his response to God's question:

1 Kings 3:7 & 9 Now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. So, give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?"

God was pleased with that answer because Solomon did not ask for selfish things (like wealth, and death for his enemies) and God told Solomon he would give him the wise and discerning heart he had asked for, as well as two things he did not ask for - riches & honor. (1 Kings 3:10-15)

To end, you HAVE to read this story about Solomon's wisdom....it is at the end of chapter 3 in 1 Kings, and shows you how great the wisdom was that God gave to Solomon:

1 Kings 3:16-28 (New International Version): A Wise Ruling

16 Now two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. 17 One of them said, "My lord, this woman and I live in the same house. I had a baby while she was there with me. 18 The third day after my child was born, this woman also had a baby. We were alone; there was no one in the house but the two of us.
19 "During the night this woman's son died because she lay on him. 20 So she got up in the middle of the night and took my son from my side while I your servant was asleep. She put him by her breast and put her dead son by my breast. 21 The next morning, I got up to nurse my son—and he was dead! But when I looked at him closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn't the son I had borne."
22 The other woman said, "No! The living one is my son; the dead one is yours." But the first one insisted, "No! The dead one is yours; the living one is mine." And so they argued before the king.
23 The king said, "This one says, 'My son is alive and your son is dead,' while that one says, 'No! Your son is dead and mine is alive.' "
24 Then the king said, "Bring me a sword." So they brought a sword for the king. 25 He then gave an order: "Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other."
26 The woman whose son was alive was filled with compassion for her son and said to the king, "Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don't kill him!" But the other said, "Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two!"
27 Then the king gave his ruling: "Give the living baby to the first woman. Do not kill him; she is his mother."
28 When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice.


So, in the past week I have learned a lot about this biblical name. Do you know what your name means? Was there any special reason or meaning behind why you gave your children the names you did? I've often talked with friends about the names that their parents were considering naming them, but didn't choose. It's funny to think of them with a different name because it seems like their entire identity would change! Mom, what were some other names you were considering naming me? More tomorrow....

Monday, January 19, 2009

Jake's Thought for the Week

Each Monday I will be posting Jake's 'thought for the week' which he sends out with the weekly announcements to all the parents in his All-Iowa Attack program. Here it is for this week:

ECCLESIASTES 4:8-12 There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth, “For who am I toiling,” He asked, “And why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless - a miserable business! Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

The above verse has been sitting on my desk since the very first day that we started the Attack program to remind me how important each one of you are in the direction, success, and vision for the program. As we enter out into the new adventure of Kingdom Hoops and All Iowa Attack I want all of you to know that the future, direction, and success of the program is based on all of us working together to create something that only God could have envisioned. If at any point you have ideas, questions, or thoughts about just what is possible with Kingdom Hoops please feel free to share them with me. My primary goal as we move forward is to certainly not do this alone but to rely on each of you for the success and future of just what is possible if we continue to trust in the path God has laid out.

Go Attack,
Jake Sullivan

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cinnamon & Sugar Toast

A few days ago I stopped by my neighbor’s house to pick up some clothes she had set aside for Jayla. I walked in the front door to the kitchen area and was greeted by her and her sweet little kids. I looked to the right into the kitchen where I saw her daughter, Mya, propped up by the toaster on her footstool. As I chatted with my neighbor I watched Mya as she buttered some bread and then reached for a tall glass shaker….full of a mixture of cinnamon and sugar! All of a sudden the memories came flooding in and I exclaimed (actually I think I shouted), “IS SHE MAKING CINNAMON & SUGAR TOAST?!?! I USED TO MAKE THAT ALL THE TIME WHEN I WAS HER AGE!” Somehow throughout my last 20 some years of life I had forgotten about this sweet treasure….literally, I really have not remembered it in 20 years! But in those moments I flashed back in time to when I was a little girl....I used to love cinnamon & sugar toast and I made it all by myself, all the time. We also had a little canister/shaker of the mixture all ready to go for breakfast time….just like Mya did. The next morning I decided to re-live the glory days and I made myself a few pieces of my somehow forgotten treasure. It was just as I remembered. That morning I also made it for JJ, who refuses to ingest any sort of breakfast except for a glass of milk. Could this possibly be the one thing that he hasn't tried that would spur a new found desire to eat breakfast? I prepared him beforehand for the excitement that his taste buds were about to enjoy. I waited in anticipation as he took the first bite… “mmmmm….yummy” he said, and then he didn’t eat any more of it…..not even one more bite.....hmmmm, I guess I am the only one that could get this excited about 2 pieces of bread. However, I do wonder how many other things like this I have forgotten about?

Here are some other newly found favorites of mine (Jayla & JJ were my 'Barker Beauties' this morning):

Dunkin Donuts Coffee
For those of you who need caffeine to survive (I am with you) this is the best coffee I have found. Smooth, no aftertaste, and no stomach-rot feeling after the first cup! Seriously, try it. You’ll never go back to TAR-bucks again.
Flip Sides Pretzel Crackers
I can't even explain these....just try them.

Hooray for the rediscovery of forgotten memories. :)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

What Jayla Has Been Up To...

Standing at the couch.

Trying some puffs!

Checking out all the snow.

Watching JJ's morning movie.

Whirlpoolin in her polka-dots.

Jumpin on Dad.

Video: More jumping in her jungle jumperoo! I told you she liked to jump!
video

Friday, January 16, 2009

iMaGiNaTiOn

Jake came home from practices the other night preachin' about imagination. “It’s becoming a lost art”, he said. “My junior high players have no imagination.” He went on to tell me that in order to be a division I basketball player, you have to have an imagination when practicing….to be able to imagine defenders, game winning free-throw shots and last second buzzer shots. He wanted his players to be able to mentally put themselves into game-like situations and heated scenarios ….enough that they could feel the pressure to perform….being able to do this would help them get to the next level. This got me wondering…do we ‘lose’ our childlike imaginations as we grow up? My thoughts turned to JJ who at 2 ½ has just discovered his imagination, and can get caught up in his own little world day by day. Each day I have the best of intentions to sit down and interact and play with him with his toys….but what usually happens is that I lay down on the floor by him and get lost in watching him come up with his own scenarios with his toys. I watch as he calls Elmo on the phone. “MO! Mmmmm…mmmmm….go” (translated as “Elmo, let’s go out to eat!”). I watch as his ‘little people’ gather around their picnic table at the airport and pray before their snack. I watch as legos turn into swimming pools and “dubba dad” and jee jee (JJ) the lego guys go to the “wa-wee” (pool) and then to the park. I watch as he cooks Jayla and I dinner in his play kitchen…corn and pizza usually. I watch as he goes to the store using my Christmas snow flake wine bottle holder as his grocery cart. I watch as he drives up to me in his little tikes car so that he can get my pretend credit card to fill his car up with pretend gas. I watch as McDonald’s happy meal figurines become mom, dad, jee jee (JJ) and ba (Jayla). I watch the wheels turn round and round in his head and I smile….for the first time seeing imagination as a gift that his daddy says is so special to hold onto…..oh, that we could all have the imagination of a 2 year old.

Lego Dad is about to jump into the pool.

Cookin up some dinner.


From the left it's Dad, Mom, jee jee and Ba.

Video -Pretend talking to Dad, "ehhh, Bye, balling, ehhhh, okay, eh...Dad, Dad, okay, him balling"

video

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Grief Felt By Birthparents in Giving Children In Adoption

I've been thinking a lot about Solomon's birthparents lately...we do not yet know his situation and whether or not his parents are still living, nor the circumstances surrounding why he is available for adoption. Many birthparents in areas such as Ghana simply have too many children to provide for, and make the heart-wrenching decision to make one or more of their children available for adoption. What follows is an excerpt of a letter written by a birthmother that was in such a position. This was a piece included in the book 'Adoption Parenting' that we read as part of our training. It is very moving and offers a unique perpective that displays the grief felt by a mother in this type of situation:

One Birth Mother's Hopes & Fears by Piedad Yamille Agudelo Correa

Before I received the first letter with news of my child I asked myself many times what would be the life of my child. My maternal instinct told me that he was well; but the conscience accuses you and betrays you, causing you to think the worse. I thought of him and I cried for him during the two long years until I received the first letter from his parents, and to learn he did not suffer.

Many times I thought about what my son looked like, if he was healthy and happy....but God is good, He consoled me telling me that he was more than healthy and happy. He was blessed and protected by Him and I felt it. Yet I was also disturbed by my fears of thoughts that maybe he was not adopted and still at the orphanage...and never found a family, or brothers or sisters or parents to love him. I often wondered if he already knew he was adopted, would he want to know me or about me. I also worried that he would hate me and have a thousand questions about why I had to give him away. I worried about how I would answer those questions.

I think of my child often. I think of him at night, in the morning, and in the day. I will think of him during my tomorrows. In my prayers he is always with me and still more, when my other children cry or they laugh or they are happy. I think of what he might be doing at these moments and especially when his brother Andres Felipe does something good or bad; I wonder if Tristan carries himself the same way. Andres Felipe bears a striking resemblance to Tristan, for me they resemble each other a lot physically and in some things in their behavior.

Only once did I think of reclaiming my child. I would have reclaimed him if he were to stay in the orphanage. I went back to the orphanage. I was told that he was adopted and taken far away. Would I want to reclaim him today? To take him back, away from his family? No. I would never want to hurt my child nor his family.

What pains me in my soul is the pain of giving one child in adoption yet parenting other children. I feel sometimes that I do no have valid justification. I know a pain combined with a sense of peace and tranquility because it is so special a family that my son has, because they love him and give him a better life.

I often suffer guilt and remorse. I am alone to think that he is growing up and understands the situation. My hope is that my child understands. I did not receive any understanding or support from my family and I did not count on them when making the decision. I was alone and I know that my mom and siblings did not want a heavier load as more children for such a poor family and home. They questioned me a lot and they caused me a lot of suffering when I was pregnant again. I felt so much alone and my life changed a lot since the moment I decided to relinquish my child for adoption. I was no longer the happy girl and I cried my grief in silence and I still do.

After relinquishment I prayed so to hear the voice of God answering me that my child was well. My pregnancy and relinquishment was not a secret. My family was embarrased. They often spoke badly of me yet they also told me not to bring another child home to them. They asked me what I was to do with the child then did not support me.

I worried a lot about my child. I think all birthmother's do. I worried about the difficulties he might face. I worried that someone would make him suffer and maybe violate him the way some bad people do. I also worried that he would be killed and someone would steal his vital organs like it happens in many parts of the world. This practice can be found in the big cities and it is often mentioned on the news.

Sometimes people try to make me feel bad about my decision then I wonder if my child will love me or hate me. When I think of this and feel badly I wish I could speak my child's language, to be able to speak directly to him, look him in his eyes and really understand his feelings toward me. I want to understand his love or disaffection towards me. In my heart I know that I deserve the good and the bad. I am a realist.

The most difficult parts of the whole birthmother experience was to be pregnant at my house and to endure the fights with my mom, then the decision to give my child in adoption. The hardest by far was the third day after birth to have my child feed from my breast then sign the paperwork and to leave him there. I thought I would die. I so wanted to have him with me and my opponents impeded me.

More than 11 years after the adoption of my child my feelings are like that of any good mother, and I consider myself a good mother. I am full of love and have the best wishes and prayers for my son and my blessing and prayers are directed all to God, asking his protection and the guidance for the best road and that my son obtains everything that he desires in life. My hopes were that in time my child would be adopted by a good family that would give him a good education, to understand when he did a mischief, and did not mistreat him. I hoped they would give him medicine when he was sick, and a lot of love.

Today I feel very well, since I know that my son is with people that have truly accepted my child as their own and they give all the love that parents can give their children. I think that they are excellent people and of assurance my son will always be in good hands and he will be the same as born to them. For birthmothers who were young or single and can not have their children with them they can consider adoption. Adoption is a good option. Adoption is a better choice than abandonment or abortion. I want my boy to know that I love him and always wanted what was best for him and that is why I chose adoption and not to kill him in my womb to to throw him away. To me this is the decision of a good mother. I am here if and when he needs me. Your first mother will never forget you.

This was written by a birthmother from Columbia who has since been able to re-unite with her child for a visit.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Adoption Update...Exciting News....photo posted

Well, the day we have been anticipating has arrived….we now have a face and a name of the child we will be adopting! On Monday we received 2 ‘referrals’ of children up for adoption near Ghana by way of photos and an email…..both 4 years old (not siblings - we would just choose one) and the photos were taken last week. The age range that we originally specified was a boy from 1-4 years old....so they would be at the end of our age range. We knew the day would soon be coming when we finally had a ‘referral’ in our hands. I had been praying about this point in the process ahead of time, because I knew that it would be unimaginable to make such a life-changing decision based on a photo and little information. I wanted God to be in control of it all….and all along I felt like He already had our child picked out and would lead us to him. From the beginning I prayed that we would not have to turn away a referral…..that the first one that we would get, would be the child that God had for us. From Day 1 in this adoption journey I also felt an overwhelming sense that God would make it clear who we should adopt by way of the child’s name…. I wasn't sure if this would be something along the lines of a 'J' name (since we are all J's) or something else. When these referrals came to us on Monday and I opened up the email and saw the one child’s name was Solomon I was overwhelmed with peace.....Jake had wanted to name our first child Solomon, but I talked him out of it and we started the ‘J’ theme instead. I am sure you can imagine how emotional this moment was for us. I continued to pray about both referrals throughout the day, and God continued to put Solomon on my heart as well as Jake’s. Since sharing the news with some of our friends and family who prayed for us about this on Monday, we have already gotten a few responses saying that they were thinking Solomon, Solomon, Solomon the entire time…..not even knowing why, but just having a feeling that he was the one. And, Solomon it is. What a blessing it is to finally have a name and a face to be praying about. I am so excited to finally have a picture to share with JJ….to really start preparing him for the arrival of his new brother. It has been an emotional few days….overwhelming, relieved, excited, confident, scared, wondering, and most of all, fascinated with God and his abundant goodness. I will never understand how He orchestrates all of the circumstances in this world to shape lives, grow faith, and speak to people in very personal and moving ways. Tonight I stand in awe of God, like I never have before.

I will be posting Solomon's photo soon, once I have triple-checked that it is okay to do so….

1/14/09 It is confirmed that it is okay for me to post his photo....so, meet Solomon!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Flashbacks

Sometimes I will take a picture of Jayla, and it
will flash me back to a picture we had of JJ. Take a look.....these didn't quite line up right, but hopefully you can tell who is who. Just look for JJ's blue eyes, and Jayla's brown! Jayla's picture is shown first for all of them except for the group picture and ISU picture at the end.


































































































See what I mean! :)