Monday, February 28, 2011

Putting things in perspective

I had a crazy dream last night, and it seemed strangely symbolic to me, so I thought I'd pass along my thoughts.

My family found themselves at the hospital. There was no explained reason, really. We were just there, along with both my parents and Ryan's. And there, there was my baby. I had given birth to her and then, just, forgotten her for a couple weeks or more. She was healthy, and I'm not sure exactly why she hadn't come home yet. And the nurses kept telling me that they'd been wondering when they were going to meet her mommy, wondering why I hadn't been there before to take her home.

And she was sooo beautiful. She had the start of these gorgeous green eyes and slightly reddish hair. And I looked into her eyes, just like I'd done with my first two, and I feel in love. And I wondered myself, why hadn't I been there before? How had I just forgotten her for so long? The nurses told me that she was being discharged to me that day-they'd just been waiting for me. I started to panic because the infant car seat was still in our shed at home. We weren't prepared for her. And everyone asked what her name was, and without consulting Ryan at all, I told them it was Callie Joy Hanson. (We've been thinking of Caylie Joy, were we to ever have another girl). My Callie.

And then, I forgot her again. The doctor came into the room and apologized that the nurse had mistakenly left peanut butter in the play area of the waiting room, and Ella was having an allergic reaction. And I panicked and the dream changed and became all about Ella and Robby. And Callie Joy was forgotten.

It's hard for me, sometimes, to really focus on the kids we are adopting. Of course we want them. Of course they are ours. But we don't know them yet. And we're still parents to these two amazing kids who need us every day. And there's so much paperwork to get through, and we don't even have a referral yet to fall in love with. And so, sometimes, our Congo kids are forgotten. They're waiting for me to come get them, why haven't I come and gotten them yet?

And we're not prepared. We got Robby bunk beds for his birthday last week, so we do have a bed for "Robby's brother," which is how my kids refer to what we hope will be our son, but what about their sister? Obviously, this isn't really a problem, and we'll put another bed in one of the rooms. But there is a general feeling of panic after that dream, why am I not ready for my babies? The answer of course, being that I'm working on it. We're getting ready for our babies to come home to us, and they're not going to be here tomorrow.

But it's hard. It's hard knowing that somewhere, across the world, my babies are waiting for me, and their caretakers are wondering, why hasn't their mother come to take them home? Why isn't their mother here to hold them and love them and feed them and be their mother? I don't even know their names... Or their faces.
But I love them. And I can't wait to hold them in my arms and hear someone tell me "They're going home today. We've just been waiting for you."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

How I was conned into adopting

Hey everyone. This is Ryan with my first post. Actually, my first blog, so I can cross that off my bucket list of stuff that I didn't care one way or another if I ever did.

A few notes about my feelings in regards to our adoption:
-Sad for the fact that the are kids anywhere in the world that don't have parents who are there to love them and raise them, whether it be in orphanages in the Congo, or in bad homes here in Idaho
-Enjoying learning about the Congo
-Did I mention that scared thing?

I had never really thought about becoming an adoptive parent until I met Jess. I understood the concept, but just never really felt that interested in it. Orphanages were merely settings for characters in novels and movies.

One of the things that opened my eyes was on my mission trip to Tonga in the summer of 2002. While there, my mission team visited a small school for disabled children. Most of them had both physical and mental illnesses that required more care than they were able to recieve from their birth parents. Much like all countries, Tonga wasn't entirely sure what to do with these outcasts and opted to move them to this school. The kids there were amazing and my world view began to change.

Throughout our marriage, Jess has enjoyed browsing websites that talk about adoption, show the kids that are up for adoption, anything at all to do with adoption. She would often show me pictures of orphans and talk about how hard it was that she couldn't just bring them all home and keep them safe. This desire to save the lost often meant that we would take in stray animals until we could either find their owners or find them a new home. The need to provide for these lost ones even if only for a little while helped pave the way in my heart for adoption.

Eventually we had our own children, who I couldn't love more, but the needs of the orphans still exists. The love I have for Robby and Ella overflows and I want to share it with these children. We aren't trying to "save" these children from the Congo, or anywhere else. Instead, we want to give them the love that they haven't been able to recieve whether because of war or disease or ambivalence.

The needs of orphans are not as simple as biological children that you hold and love from day one, but they stem from that human need to be connected and loved. We hope that this adoption will give that connection to two children that didn't have it before.

It may sometimes seem like I am being dragged into this adoption thing by my zealous wife, but the truth is that I want this as much as she does. Jess is the heart of this family, but the four of us all want to share the love we have with others who were not so fortunate.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Down the Rabbit Hole

To our dearest friends and family, we'd like to make the (official) announcement that we are adopting! For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to adopt a child. It has been my passion, my calling, and I'm so grateful that I have a husband that feels the same way, albeit to a lesser degree. We are excited to be starting the process to bring our kids home from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) aka the Congo. A question we've heard several times recently is "Why the Congo?" And there are a few people who've laughed at me recently because of how many times our adoption country has changed over the years. And the answer to both of those things is very simple: I feel called to the greatest need as I see it.

The Congo has been decimated by war and poverty for years. Without going on a tangent, there is little stability left for the Congo people. Rape and genocide are still rampant in the DRC, and there isn't much being done to bring relief to the people. In a country that has the richest resources in the ENTIRE WORLD, it's people suffer the some of the most severe poverty of any nation. While it doesn't make the headlines in the US, rape is so commonplace as to be expected for the tiny girls through the elderly granmothers of the Congo. On January 1st of THIS YEAR, over a 150 women were raped by two armies, and the world simply refused to pay attention.

While an orphanage is NEVER a healthy place for a child to grow up, the children in them are considered the lucky ones in the Congo. Lucky to be fed once a day. Lucky to have a roof over their heads. Lucky to have the chance to be adopted by even the poorest Americans, who are rich by Congo standards. And that, to me, is beyond tragic.

So, with your prayers God's grace, our hopeful plan is to bring home two kids by the end of the year. The research I've done suggests that a family does best if they stick as close to birth order as possible. That means that our tentative requests are two children 3 or under. We'd love to bring home a brother and sister duo, but we'll be open to the kids God sends us.

Adoption is yes, absolutely expensive. I know that a lot of people don't understand where those costs come from, but the professionals working with us will make relatively little for the immense amount of help they will give. Both our Home Study agency (A New Beginning in Boise) and United States Citizenship and Immigration services (USCIS) will be working to make sure that we are fit to adopt. We will also be working with an agency that will assist us in being placed with a child, preparing our dossier (in country profile), working with DRC agencies and attornies and officals, and ensuring that our kids are cared for while still in the Congo. And, of course, travel fees to bring our kids home. While the cost is very high, there is no one profiting in any significant way from the unfortunate state of the children in the DRC.

We'd love to see your support as we go through this process. We understand that the economy is hurting a lot of families, and any small amount would be greatly appreciated for the sacrifice that it is. Thank you for your prayers and support. We couldn't do this without the love of the wonderful people in our life.