Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What's in a Name???

Throughout this blog you will see us refer to our Indian daughter as "Lauren". I thought it might make sense as to why that is the case. Before we had Joshua, Brad and I picked out the name Lauren if he was to be a girl. We even went as far as to say it would be Lauren Elizabeth (Elizabeth because of Brad's sister, and also because my life long best friend's middle name is also Elizabeth)...so any daughter of ours is sure to be named Lauren.......

But now we find ourselves reading many adoption books and find that a child's name means sooo much more to them - it's the one thing that most often the birth mother gave them... it's something for them to hold on to from their birth mother. A child recognizes their own name as early as 4 months, according to one source!! So for now our blog will continue to refer to her as "Lauren"...mainly at this point to protect her identity since the blog is such a public forum....but we will likely name her "Lauren {insert birth name}.... and call her both for a period....decide later what fits..... not focus too much on our immediate desire, but see how it goes... she will be adopted with all her paperwork in India with her birth name... changing a name occurs, if it happens in the US adoption process...so we have time to decide. Just to let you know...her real name is.... {a beautiful name} :) and has a specific Indian meaning.

As for the meaning of "Lauren".... I've never researched it until today.... and I find it has a lovely meaning. It is of Latin origin, and its meaning is "the bay, or laurel plant". Not to share too much, but our "Lauren" lives in a city along the sea :)... so "the bay" could be a deliberate connection to her birth location.... and "laurel plant" is an evergreen and fragrant plant. Its leaves and young branches were woven into a crown and rewarded to the winner of the Olympic games. Although the laurel plant is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, it is referred to made many times. The laurel crown is perishable, but the true believers shall receive the crown of glory which will never fade away. Here are two verses in particular: 1 Peter 5: 4, 1 Corinthians 9:25

1 Corinthians 9:25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

I love this verse, because it speaks to self-discipline, which is something we all need. I pray my steadfast focus is on Christ-like behavior as I live this life on earth. I pray for disciplines that will honor His name above all. I love this connection to the Laurel tree and how this branch was used as a crown...as a glorious crown, but we are reminded that this earthly crown will fade.... and our holy crown in Christ is where our treasures are. For now, our eyes are clearly fixed on bringing "Lauren" home... we pray for her daily, her health, her caregivers, her feelings and emotions, her development.... we are very disciplined in keeping her in our prayers. Our prayers are she is adorned with all the things that matter eternally.... our love, our respect for her and who SHE is, our patience, our understanding, our care, her family, her trust, her sweet heart, her grief, her loss, her transition, her attachment, her inside beauty.... her belonging in our family. One thing for certain..... a Blunt she will be. :)


Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Great Indian Saturday

Last Saturday, Brad, Joshua, and I had the greatest day!  We dedicated the day to experiencing and learning more about India.  We started with lunch at an Indian restaurant.....wow, the food was fabulous.  Of course, we told our waitress about "Lauren" and shared a picture.  She was Indian and also born in Mumbai.  We learned that Mumbai used to be called Bombay.  She was really fun to talk to and learn about India in between waiting on tables.  We purchased a cookbook from them, and marked some of the favorite things we ate at the buffet that day....the greatest thing about a buffet...you get to try many things. 

After lunch, we went to an Indian market here in Lexington.  We purchased some food to be able to cook.  The store owner was equally loving and gracious as we shared our story and told him we wanted to try to make an Indian meal ourselves.  We also discussed a cultural center that is located here in Lexington that I found online.... interestingly enough, the center's picture was on the back of the cookbook, with certain proceeds going toward support of the center.  It seems the center is quite open and welcoming to all people.  The store owner informed us about some of the protocol for visitors, but was really great...so this is something we can see ourselves visiting at some point.  We bought a few things ..... and we were off to plan our evening meal.

We read more of our books for our service plan, talked alot about Lauren with Joshua.... he was so sweet.. he LOVED the Indian food and informed us that, "we will have to go eat there a lot when Lauren comes, because that is the food she will like."  We're hoping so...because we loved it too.  This will be one way that we will deliberately honor her culture and make "being Indian" a part of our family.

It was a great day! 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Nesting...a little too early, but effective none the less

They say that when a woman is pregnant during the later parts of her pregnancy she begins to go crazy around the house "nesting".  This would include cleaning and getting the baby's room ready.  Nesting is doing all the things to prepare for the new arrival of the baby. 

Well, Renae has been nesting....like crazy......clearly a little too early, but none the less, she's a planner and LOVES to check things off the list.  Not so much the cleaning part -- we do have a 5 year old after all, but the getting the baby's room ready is really coming along.  I have been buying SOME clothes (still don't know what size she will need)...and also buying baby toys.  We can't wait to bring her home, get on the floor, and play with these toddler toys.  Some of these are the same toys that Joshua had...others are new. Her room is so cute...we are so excited.  Now if I can just get to the cleaning / nesting part.  Don't get me wrong, we do try our best to keep the house picked up.... but it certainly has brought about the realization that all of Joshua's little toys and pieces of play sets will need to be picked up consistently.  I do think with all her toys, hopefully she'll be more interested in those than anything Joshua may have.... yea, right!  She's going to be intrigued with EVERYTHING he has too :)  It's gonna be great watching them interact and play together.  He's already planning on teaching her all kinds of things like colors and shapes, numbers, and math. 

On another note - as we walk this path, we continue to learn and reflect.  One thing I found particularly interesting is how few toys there are of children of color in playsets.  I did find some - but this was a profound reality to me as I shopped two large well known baby stores.  In a country that will soon have Caucasians in the minority, I find this sad and intriguing that toys and books are not more widely diverse. I'm not sure what to do with this, if anything...just a reflection. I remember as a young girl collecting Madam Alexander's "Country" dolls, in which collectible dolls were placed on a stand on a shelf for the mere idea of collecting and viewing.  These were great dolls, all with culturally appropriate dress and hair... I loved these dolls from all around the world.  (Unfortunately, we sold them at some point), but in reflecting it seems so global looking back, such a world view that this little girl that grew up in a small town in Illinois, that had dolls reflecting multiple countries will one day have a little angel from India.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

What is it about adoptive parents that love each other so much?

I just read a post from a family that has been in Ethiopia for 85 days waiting for their adoption to become final.  On a daily basis I anxiously come home to check their blog to see the news of the day...some days they posted...others I'm sure were busy...some days they were upbeat...other days very sad about their long stay away from home.  But all the while, they shared and loved on their baby twins and waited as patient as possible to get the news they had VISAs to come home.  Well today, the news was posted....they have the VISAs and can come home!!! 

Here is the thing I find amazing, I've never met this couple, they live in Lexington...and we were connected through email gosh... probably almost two years ago when we were both considering the Nepal program.  We lost connection when we left that program ...and then later when I checked on their post I learned they moved to the Ethiopia program.  ....so for now, we've only connected through her blog, and stories, and my comments on her blog. 

What is it that bonds people through adoption?  Is it the ups and downs, the waiting, the deep desire to have someone to go through this process with (other than your family).. it's great to share stories and know that we're not alone.  Adoption can be so challenging and trying...it's not for the weak heart, that's for sure.  It takes determination, patience, and a lot of faith!  But we know this....God loves orphans. 

Father to the fatherless, defender of widows — this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families. Psalms 68:5-6

We are so thankful to God for bringing this family home.  We know in all things there is a pupose, and we are thankful for his protection and provision for this family.  We also thank him for this time they have had to bond....wow, bringing home twins!  I can't imagine how hard that will be to have TWO little ones at the same time!  But we know God is good -- and we're so happy for the Mullins. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Working on our Service Plan - Praying for Chiffon Curtains.

We have a significant project called a Service Plan.  It is lengthy with all kinds of things to read, research, and write strategies, etc. for adding our daughter into our daily life.  I'm currently reading Inside Transracial Adoption - one of the required books. .... and ran across a quote in the book that is so very much worth repeating... I love it so much.

Quoted from Inside Transracial Adoption by Steinberg and Hall. 
"Relationships are made of one at a time, in tiny links, experiences joined together end to end to make a chain… trying to become part of something we don’t know much about may at first feel like pushing against a heavy wooden door, but, after time when you begin to connect to people one by one, the door becomes lighter and lighter, until eventually it is like pushing aside a soft chiffon curtain." 

I immediately think of some of our friends, our friends from the Congo, our friends in our Sunday School class at church, our neighbors.... these are all relationships we love very much...but I do remember at times feeling very awkward with them, not knowing what to say... how to relate... and with our Congo friends trying to converse even though their English is limited..... wow, we've come so far in this last year with friendships.... we're around people we love and that love us.... we are free to be ourselves, and are validated by our friends for who we are.  We share things in honesty, in caring for each other, and in brotherly love.

So I'm learning that this is exactly how our little girl will feel from India.  She will work hard at being accepted by her family, she will be out of sorts in a new environment, she doesn't know what a car seat will be like (this is something our agency mentioned), our foods will be different than what she's used to, we will look different, she will be exposed to many new sights and sounds, AND she will experience a 20+ hour airplane ride - that even to this day I'm amazed with.  We will be going through changes too....but our changes will all be in the comfort and surrounding love and arms of our environment and our friends (you chiffon curtains out there)...... SHE will on the other hand have nothing of comfort but perhaps a toy or familiar piece of clothing from India {home}.  Is is possible to love her soooo much that she won't feel the pain or discomfort?  Is it possible that she's too young to notice these differences.... I think not, we know 2 year olds, just because they may not speak in full coherent sentences doesn't mean they are not taking it all in.  We vow to do all we can to make her feel accepted and at home...to belong with us... but I know this will take some Divine Intervention to fill some of the holes in her heart for the losses she will experience.  I pray with certainty that all of you, our friends and family, will work hard to bring our little one into the chiffon curtain relationships that we share.  She will need all our love....


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What's Next??

Most people you talk to about international adoption really don’t understand the process and the volume of paperwork that is required to bring a child home. We so appreciate India and their love for their children and strict compliance with the Hague Convention and all the rules and requirements. It is sad that some children are used (in other countries) for material gain when it comes to adoption. We are thankful India is a Hague Country and follow all the rules and procedures. All being said, we pray for a speedy (and compliant) process. The following are the steps after the home study has been approved….for those interested… this is why it takes so long to bring a child home. Thanks to this website, I understand the process better. http://newdelhi.usembassy.gov/adoptions.html

Step 1 (After the home study has been approved) File I800A – seek approval to be determined as suitable to adopt a child. This is filed with USCIS.

Step 2 Convention country matches family with child, working through an accredited approved adoption agency. This is called the referral! Yea, we have this!!

Step 3 Filing of Form I-800 – seeking approval for this specific child to immigrate to the U.S. and become part of our family. This is the stage we are at on April 4, 2011!!

Step 4 Visa Application: Following the provisional approval of the petition by the USCIS office, it is forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC). NVC notifies the respective post and the Form I800 is forwarded to the Embassy/Consulate. The biographic data form (DS-230) and information on required photographs are mailed to the family (us) or the agency. These documents are then mailed to the Immigrant Visa Unit of the U.S. Embassy, New Delhi.

Step 5 After the Consular Officer at the Embassy reviews the application and determines that there are no ineligibilities, the Consular Officer will issue a letter under Article 5 of the Hague Convention to the Convention country's CA stating that the family have been counseled and are eligible for the adoption and that the child will be authorized to enter and reside in the United States. The family or agency will be notified via e-mail by Embassy, New Delhi about the issuance of the Article 5 letter. The family then adopts the child or obtains legal custody of the child for purposes of emigration and adoption. The adoption/guardianship order must not be obtained UNTIL Embassy, New Delhi, issues an Article 5 letter. (This part I’m a little fuzzy on when we travel…or if someone in India on our behalf handles this for us….since the estimated time in country is only 10 to 12 days – I’m thinking travel might be after step 6 below).

Step 6 The Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA) will issue a certificate under Article 23 of the Hague Convention certifying that the adoption has occurred in accordance with the Convention. Article 23 is a requirement only for adoption cases. Guardianships do not require an Article 23 letter. At this stage, the family or agency must provide valid proof to the Consular Officer that the adoption/legal custody has been completed. In cases involving an adoption in the country of origin, the competent authority such as the court of the Convention country must certify that the adoption was done in accordance with the Convention. In cases involving only a grant of legal custody for purposes of emigration and adoption, the family must provide proof that the grant of legal custody occurred. Generally, this will come via a judicial or administrative act expressly authorizing the family or those acting on their behalf to take the child out of the country and bring the child to the United States for adoption in the United States by the family.

Step 7 Once the adoption/guardianship has been completed, and the family has the child's passport, they should contact Embassy, New Delhi to schedule an immigrant visa interview.

After verifying compliance with the Convention and Intercountry Adoption Act (IAA) and determining that no visa ineligibilities exist, the Consular Officer will grant final approval of Form I-800.

The Consular Office will then issue one of the following certificates:

(1) A Hague Adoption Certificate to the adoptive parent(s) certifying that the requirements of the Convention and the IAA have been met with respect to the adoption, or

(2) A Hague Custody Certificate to the PAP(s), certifying that the requirements of the Convention and the IAA have been met with respect to the grant of legal custody.

Finally a immigrant visa will be issued to the child in either the IH3 (Orphan adopted abroad by U.S. citizen or Child from Hague Convention Country adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen) or IH4 (Orphan to be Adopted in U.S. by the U.S. Citizen or Child from Hague Convention Country to be Adopted in U.S. by a U.S. Citizen) immigrant visa category. At this point, the adoption process is complete and the family can travel back to the U.S. will their newly adopted child.

So now you can see why it takes 10 months to process after the referral.  We're still praying we get to travel before the end of Dec 2011...but we know it may end up being 2012.  Either way, we have the rest of our lives to be with our little girl....she's so worth the wait. :)

Monday, April 4, 2011

It's Official

Today we accepted our referral and we are so happy and exited.  She's beautiful and perfect for us.  Won't share too much about her until we know the rules on blogs...we certainly don't want to over expose her, and we want to respect the rules and her privacy....so until we know for sure, we won't say too much about her other than .....she's awesome and we just can't wait to bring her home. 

We shared her picture with Joshua today and he knew exactly who she was...we've been talking to him a long time about her.....so of course, his little heart is very well prepared for a sister and he was amazingly happy and surprised as we were the first time we saw her picture not that long ago (week or so).  He was so cute, he said, "she's a baby".... and he folded the picture and started eating dinner again...then we reached for it again and said, "she has hair and I can see her teeth"... it was so funny because like us, he couldn't get enough looking at her...the more he thought about it... the more he wanted to see her...."she has a playground".... on and on....  He is very happy, and said, "when are you going to get her??".... we explained the wait is still very long and it might be after Christmas....secretly we are all praying for a miracle and for some unknown reason to all of us, we pray her case flies through the process... still with integrity...just with lightening speed...so we have her by Christmas, or we're traveling over the holidays.  What a joy that would be .... regardless, Christmas or early next year, we just can't wait!