Showing posts from February, 2015

Adoption 101: The Process

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 20

If you are an adoptive family or are familiar with the process this will be old news to you and you might just want to come back on Monday. I have had a lot of people ask about what the process to adopt is and also ask why it all takes so long when I say that we may not bring our daughter home until 2016. I thought I would try to explain exactly what is involved in the adoption process. I will use the process for China because that is the one I am currently familiar with, other countries will have a different process though the homestudy and immigration steps will be the same. I will also add a '$' after each step which involves writing a check.

Here we go...

Step 1: Decide to adopt. A family will either find a child first on a waiting child list or they will sign on with an agency  and wait to be matched with a child. Because we started with an identified child, I will explain tha…

In which I make my children eat chocolate sandwich cookies

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 19

Everyone has been looking forward to today ever since the two packages of chocolate sandwich cookies with creamy filling came home from the grocery store. And what did we do with these cookies? Learned about the phases of the moon, of course.

We are beginning to learn about the travels of Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery. Before they ever set out, Meriweather Lewis spent a couple of years learning the different sciences he would need to complete his tasks successfully. Astronomy was one of those sciences and was just related enough to the phases of the moon to make use of the cool activity. (Because when you find a cool educational activity, you really want to use it.) So this morning found everyone at the table with a globe, a lamp (for the sun), a tennis ball (for the moon), paper plates and stacks of chocolate cookies.

Here is D.'s completed project to show you what we did…

Our current plague

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 18

(Warning: probably you don't want to read this if you are eating anything.)

In my continuing effort to document real life as opposed to some pretend, glossy magazine life (because I know you all think that's what we live [insert sarcastic emoticon here]), I'm sharing our latest little bit of fun.



OK, not really everywhere, but certainly a lot around certain rooms. And enough to be really annoying and cause us to put up numerous fly strips. We've even considered putting on our coats and leaving the doors open for many hours, but it's just too cold to do that, and we kind of like our pipes to stay warm and cozy.

I have more than a sneaking suspicion that some uninvited animal came into our house and died inside a wall somewhere. The good thing is that we aren't really bothered by any smell, though there is a very odd scent I get every now and then w…

It's OK to relax

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 17

For the past week or so, I've been feeling pretty tired. The weeks haven't been particularly difficult or busy, in fact, they've been pretty darn normal. I think it is this normalness that is causing me to ponder my fatigue, both physical and emotional. Though I'm tired, I am finding it difficult to gear down and actually relax. It's as though I've forgotten who to. This is rather odd for me and I've been trying to think why. Here is my conclusion. The past four months have been so crazy that I have jumped into automatic high alert and my body is finding it difficult to gear down. You want to hear the list from the past four months? I don't share this with you because I want you to be impressed by me, but because it's part of my point that things sneak up on you and you don't always realize it. Here's what we did:

- Three surgeries, one being the…

What the littles have been up to

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 16

It's been a long time since a posted any pictures of G. and L. They're doing well. They're busy, happy (except when they're not... and then they're really not), funny little girls. I love seeing what they are going to come up with next. Usually.

Blocks and entire imaginary stories... long, long involved stories... have been the name of the game for K. and the little girls for the past few days. Some of the blocks have been carted downstairs (the third floor where they [the blocks] live is not heated and right now it's a little chilly up there) and there has been much building and playing in the kitchen. There have been castles and houses and roads and superheroes and at one point Jericho was even built and then the Israelites knocked it down. I admit to stopping the catapult which used a very long block to launch other blocks, powered by K. dropping a stack of libra…


Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 15

I'm realizing that there is a theme in our homeschool studies this year and that is long, long travelling adventures. We've just finished the travels of Marco Polo and are now going back to the rest of the Middle Ages, and having finished the human body are now starting another unit study, this time on Lewis and Clark. I don't think I fully realized we were doing so many travel narratives when I was putting it all together. Or if I did, I didn't remember it until I started reading our Lewis and Clark book this morning.

This is probably more of a reflection of my own interests than anything else. I love to travel and well written travel literature is one of my favorite genres. (I've also been known just to check-out travel books such as Fodor's or Rough Guide from the library on places I'm interested in.) My list of destinations I want to go to is very, very long…

Tet and Chinese New Year 2015

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 13

Last night we celebrated Tet and Chinese New Year, though we were a day late. We spent the evening with the H-S family and ordered in Chinese food, which thrilled H. TM has stated for future reference that Vietnamese food is better and we should have ordered that. The objection was noted and will be kept in mind for next year.

I will pause here for a brief digression. In our defense, it is far, far easier to order Chinese take-out than Vietnamese as the only very close VN restaurant closed several years ago. You would think in a city of 75,500 people that has over 90 restaurants in its downtown alone, that there could be one Vietnamese restaurant. Is there Ethiopian? Yes. Thai? Yes, many. Mexican? Yes. Chinese... French... Spanish... Italian... Japanese? Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. Vietnamese? No. Now, back to the topic.

The evening was pretty low key. We ate and there might have been som…

How do you get people to care?

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 12

Most of the time, I am pretty even keeled. I accept the world has a lot of stinky bits to it, but do what I can, though it always feels like so little. Then there are other times when I am so overwhelmed that I just want to scream and scream and scream until someone starts to pay attention. What has started this little round of imaginary screaming is not the state of Illinois (though I wouldn't blame you if that is immediately where you went), but this blog post, Adoption: Hard to Start, Harder to Stop. I agree with every word. It is difficult to take the plunge. J. and I dithered about it for over ten years and the births of three children. J. and I have also had times when we thought we should adopt a child or children, but were pretty clearly told no by God that we shouldn't. I get all of that. But J. and I have also seen the inside of more than one orphanage. We have met childr…


Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 11

I'm not sure what I've spent my day doing, but it sure wasn't blogging. Plus, I've been paying bills. I believe I've mentioned I hate paying bills. I've been in a bad mood for several days because I know I need to do it, but have been putting it off. I'll let you in on a little secret... putting painful things off doesn't make them less painful. I know this, but still completely procrastinate about the bills. I know that we are not living precariously on the edge, but, boy, emotionally it always feels like it. It would be one thing if we were living a frivolous lifestyle, but we're not. Ugh. Bills. Ugh.

So you do not get a post. Instead, I'll send you to two other articles that published today that I wrote on a day I wasn't paying (or not paying) bills.

Step Back from the Edge: You Can Homeschool High School

The Flip Side of Love

Lent 2015

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 10

Today is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Tonight we will be setting up the branches that will hold our the ornaments which go along with the daily Lenten devotional we use. It's the same every year. We spend 40 days walking through the arc of the entire Bible story, ending with the resurrection on Easter.

I wanted to give a short plug for following the liturgical year with your family. If you are from Catholic, Orthodox, or Reformed Christian traditions, this idea is probably already familiar to you. If you are from an Evangelical tradition not associated with one of the Reformed denominations, I have a feeling the idea of following the liturgical, or church, year at church is a bit foreign, much less observing it with your family. I personally feel we lose so much when we cut ourselves off from our history. Whether we think about or acknowledge it, we all have ties to the ear…

When it comes to God, we all have a little RAD

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 9

In church on Sunday, there was a sudden change of preachers in between services. Babies don't take church schedules into account, you know. Sermon notes were passed on and church went on. Now, I don't know if you eve do things like this, but in my ridiculously active imagination, I started to wonder what I would do if someone had handed me the notes and told me I was up. This was a really fantastic misuse of imagination because the odds of this happening were at, oh, about 0. Still, there my brain was, pondering different ideas.

The topic was when Jesus teaches his disciples the Lord's Prayer in Luke 11. As I read the part after the actual prayer, it was incredibly similar to Luke 18 where Jesus tells the parable of the persistent widow. As I wrote about in a previous post, the point is not that we have to badger God, but that God desires to give us good things and we should not…

Major Award!... but sadly, no lamp included**

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 8
Last night J. and I were honored at the Interfaith Action Council of Evanston's dinner as our church's choice of their Vision Keepers... a sort of volunteer of the year-thing. I thought long and hard about sharing this with my blog readers, mainly because I dislike (really, really dislike) having the spotlight shine on me. It just makes me uncomfortable and I will most definitely, 100% of the time, make light of it. (**Hence the Christmas Story reference in the title.) 
Yet one of the things I remember my grandmother saying time and time again was that not only did a person need to learn to be a good giver, but the person also needed to learn to be a good receiver. It's a two-way street, the giver receives joy when the receiver has accepted graciously. I know there have been times that I have been thrilled to be a part of honoring someone I admire. I want to do it because it is…

Getting back on the wagon... or revisiting children and chores

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 6

For the past year and a half, we had fallen off the children helping with household jobs wagon. There were a variety of reasons for this. I had come to accept families go through different seasons with different needs and the need for a detailed job chart and the corresponding expectations was not the season our family had been in. That's not to say children didn't help keep the house neat and tidy, but that we were definitely working on a more ad hoc basis and didn't have anything formal in place.

As will happen, we have moved into another season and are now at a place where we can spend the time assigning household jobs, helping children learn to do them, and take the time to make sure they are done. Do not kid yourselves. We don't do this because it is easier, it's not. Frankly, it's a lot more work to teach a child to clean a bathroom or to sweep under things or …

Lost time

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 5

A friend who started out as a virtual friend and became a real friend when we met in China has lost her son. He died last night after fighting RSV and a flesh-eating fungal infection. It is heartbreaking. He spent so much time waiting for a family and when he found one he blossomed and discovered love. Please pray for his family.

No one anticipates losing a child. It is not how the world is supposed to work. Yet, I know plenty of people who have lost children. It happens. The best thing I can do with the knowledge is to appreciate the moments I have with my children, because you just never know what is going to happen. We can't change the future, but we can embrace what we have before us and make very moment count.

Today it makes it even more difficult to know that the policies and lack of functioning in my state are causing us to lose time with our daughter. How can you make every moment …

Age doesn't matter

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 4


I'm sore all over and walking like a 103 year old woman. It's a little pathetic. I have muscles that are sore that I didn't even know could be sore. 

Well, that isn't exactly true because they have been sore before, just in a much younger body. You know, at an age where muscles were stretchier and bounced back from overwork faster. What have I been doing to cause myself all this misery? I'm taking back up the first and only sport I have ever loved and done well at: horseback riding. 

As many of you know, my parents have been paying for P. and A. to take horseback riding lessons for the past couple of years. P. is still enjoying riding, but A. was feeling as though she was ready for other adventures. When I spoke to my mother about this, she asked if I would like to take A.'s spot. I was so happy I was nearly crying. I adore horses and riding, but some choices often p…

"It's a planet... a big floating ball in the sky that people live on. No, really, it is."

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 3

H. (and everyone else) is feeling much better this week. Thank goodness! I am extremely glad that H. in particular is better, though, because surgery, pain, and sickness are very, very difficult for her. When she as to endure them we see a huge resurgence of orphanage behaviors which we have been working very hard on mitigating for the past three years. It is upsetting to see her go back to those lonely, scary places.

Things are on the upswing again and we all getting back into our regular routine. As I was working with H. this morning we had one of those Aha! moments. For the past year or so, she has been working through the Draw, Write, Now books. (I cannot tell you how much I love these books and how wonderful they are for children, especially special needs learners. I should do a post about them sometime.) She is currently in a section about the Arctic and the animals found there. Getti…

Dear Governor Rauner

Enough people have asked me what would be most helpful to include in a letter that I'm going to do the rare second post in one day. (Links to the governor and state legislators can be found in my earlier post about Illinois and its horrendous adoption record.)

>>I have edited this a little bit... I have now heard we are one of three states, Alabama being the third which require DCFS homestudy approval. Also, the person holding the DCFS job evidently left her desk empty, but despite having three months notice, DCFS took two weeks AFTER the position was vacant to fill it.<<

Here are the two most important points to include:

1. Illinois is currently taking at least 9 weeks to process child abuse clearances. This is unnecessary and someone should find out why it is taking so long, when earlier this year it was taking just a few days. Is it true that clearances for homestudy purposes are being shuttled to the bottom of the pile? Why?

2. Why are tax payers footing the bill t…