Friday, December 31, 2010

The Best Christmas Gift of All

It happened. It finally happened. And when I heard the news yesterday, I had chills. Tears welled up in my eyes and I thought, "Oh my God, yes yes yes!"

Anya has a family. Anya has a mama and papa coming for her. Anya's life will be saved.

Thank you God for answering my prayer. (And thank you imaginary Santa for granting my Christmas wish.)

[Need to wrap up 2010 with a last minute tax deductible contribution? Donate to Anya's grant fund and help bring her family to her.]

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dear Imaginary Santa,

geronimoRemember when I was a little girl and I still believed in you? I wanted things like a Geronimo doll and plastic horses for him to ride. I wanted a Hess truck with lights that really worked. I wanted Legos so I could build my own house with many staircases and secret rooms. I wanted a Magic 8 ball so that I could know the answers to all the important questions in my childish mind.

You gave it all to me, and despite the ugliness that lived with us, Christmas morning always turned out ok. But then I found out the truth... that you are not real. Christmas lists and letters are useless now.

It doesn’t matter anyway, Santa, because the things I want now cannot be bought. Like wisdom. I want perfect wisdom, to always know the right thing to do and say. I want to be filled with patience and gentleness. I want to be a great wife and mother, and a great writer.

But if only one wish of mine could be granted this Christmas, I’d ask for a mama and papa for Anya. She is a little girl with Down syndrome who lives in the orphanage where my daughters came from. Anya turns four this coming Tuesday the 14th. Anya’s time in the baby house is up.


Anya is not your typical child with Ds. Her need for support is higher than that. She is desperate for love, attention, and intervention. Anya is a child that will die young in a mental institution.

anyasmile1When I was there, I stole a few minutes with Anya. I held her in my arms. Anya took my hands and clapped them together over and over, making up her own game. Anya stared into my eyes as if no one had ever looked lovingly at her before. From then on, Anya would try to come to me when she saw me, but they would never let me hold her again.

I wished I could tell Anya that someone was coming for her, that a mama and papa would come to save her from her fate. I wished I could tell her that somebody loves her, and that I could promise her she will not die an orphan in a lonely box crib.

I wished you were real Santa so that you could give Anya a family for Christmas this year.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

What Can't I Do Online?

I can shop, read the news, make friends, pay a bill, support a cause, take a class, pick out a new daughter, defend my beliefs, earn a living, advocate for people with Down syndrome, spill my guts...

Wait... not that last one. Not so much anymore. I have written about this before and it has only gotten worse for me since then. My silence is choking me.

I can’t tell you how I feel about my step-daughter yanking my heart out and stomping on it, again.

I can’t tell you how I feel about my boss giving away my job.

I can’t tell you how I feel about the hard parts of adoption.

I can’t tell you how I lost my faith, or if I have for sure found it again.

And even if I could tell you about these things... there isn’t the time. The reality of it is that I spend most of my day filling mouths and wiping butts. I don’t even have time to tell you all the things I can’t tell you. It is probably better that way for now.

Maybe I can’t find the time because I am not ready to deal with the repercussions of honest writing. But then I ask myself, what is the sense of having a personal blog if I can’t talk about what is on my mind and staining my heart?

All right, all right then... I’ll tell you about one thing that has been bothering me. People tell me all the time that if only they had more room in their house, or more money in their bank account, that they would adopt.

That isn’t why you aren’t doing it. You aren’t doing it because it is a sacrifice of time, a huge forever commitment of your emotional, mental, and bodily resources. And you are scared... scared that the child might turn out to be full of problems, medical issues, or low functioning.

Children are freedom thieves. They enslave us with their needs. Our own darlings are worth the forbearances because they are so beautiful and talented, not to mention we know they come from good stock. But other children? Children whose mothers may have smoked crack while they were forming? Children with congenital birth defects? Children who may not know how to love you back?

Hell no, there just isn’t the space in your house for that.

Anyway, being bitchy about it isn’t going to change your mind. So I will tell you a secret, adopted kids are fascinating. And they teach you that love equals action.

And I will tell you another secret. It is ok with me if you don’t want one. You don’t need to explain.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Child I Like Best

Parents are not supposed to love one child more than another, or so I have been told. At least they shouldn’t admit to it anyway.

But I can’t help it. There’s love and then there’s love. I have five children now and I love them all. I mother them all equally. I discipline them fairly and consistently. I treat them all the same. But one of them is more endearing than the others.

In truth, I think this happens quite often in families (though most parents are smart enough to follow the “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule on this topic). Maybe for you it is your oldest, the one who has been around the longest and had that early time as the only child. Or perhaps it is your baby, who will always be your sweet baby. Maybe it is your only boy, or your only girl.

When the French say “I love you”, they say “Je t’aime” and when they say “I like you”, they say Je t’aime bien”. Their word for love is the same as their word for like, and when they emphasize love by adding the word “well” to it, it becomes like. So maybe what I really meant to say up above is that there is love and then there is like.

One of my children is very very likeable. This child has a great unintended sense of humor. This child is thoughtful and sweet. This child is bright and engaging. This child is beautiful and smells delicious. This child is very able to express love and affection. On the flip side, this child is rarely annoying, contrary, or miserable. Lacking difficult-to-deal-with characteristics goes a long way.

It doesn’t really matter if it is ok or not for me to like this child more than the others... it doesn’t matter if it makes me an imperfect mother. It is what it is.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Before Kimani I lived a life with no regrets. It’s not like I hadn’t made big mistakes, hurt people and hurt myself, but I never yearned to go back and change anything.

Now I ache, I wish, I wonder... if only. If only I could go back and say no. No feeding tube that would eventually lead to bacterial meningitis. No CV line in her thigh, a procedure that would go awry and lead to an intense 106 degree fever and a heart rate off the charts.

Because one of those two evils stole my child.

Cortical vision impairment... the eyes can see but the brain cannot interpret... the processor is broken. Legally blind. I try to imagine her world... what it is like to see but sometimes not know what you are seeing.

Sometimes when she wakes up and is still in her crib, I know she doesn’t know I am there. She is looking right through me. I say good morning and whisper her name. She looks for me but her eyes do not find mine. I reach down and stroke her cheek and she wraps her little hands around my wrist. Ah, now she knows where I am.

But there is more to it than that. How much more? I don’t know and neither does Google. I have searched for answers, for others like us but I find nothing, no one. The results are terrifying and vast... brain damage, mental retardation... but no specifics, no list to check her off against, nothing to compare her to.

I can never go backwards, only forward, only onward. Perhaps to a pediatric neurologist who can tell me what I need to know. Maybe a fancy machine can see inside her head and tell me what is best for her.

And as for me and God, well I don’t know. I doubt he is going to tell me why, because after all, I already know why... shit happens. Maybe he will ease my regret and bring me peace, or maybe he will perform an old-fashioned miracle and heal her.

Or maybe nothing, maybe I’ll feel this way forever.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Pre-Wedding Jitters

Adopting a baby is very much like having a baby and now I think I know what guys feel like. Your body doesn’t change... you don’t feel the baby growing inside of you. You spend your days preparing for the arrival of a new little someone to love and then one day they place a bundle in your arms. Congratulations, it’s a girl.

It is a baby that knows nothing of the world, who has no loves before you, no life beyond you. A baby that can’t jump up and run off, a baby who speaks no language but that of affection and nurturing.

Adopting a child is like getting married. I remember diving in, terrified, saying I do when I wasn’t sure I could. I had never experienced a successful marriage and wasn’t sure the concept was really doable in real life.

Masha is not an infant. She has a life. She sings in Russian or maybe its Ukrainian... I don’t even know the difference. She runs away. She has a personality. She loves people I have never met. She doesn’t know me nor does she know what a mother is.

In a week or so I will “marry” her. I don’t know that she even wants to be married. It is best for her... it will change her life, but what does a three year old care about the future?

I have my dress, the invitations have been sent, the church has been rented. I am going to walk down the aisle, I am going to cry when I say I do. I know this story, I have been the bride before.

And just like the first time, I am scared.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Lost in Kyiv

We aren't really lost, at least not at the moment...

We are in Kyiv though, in case you are wondering why I haven't posted anything profound here in a couple weeks. If you are interested in reading about some of the great experiences we are having here, you'll need to head over to our adoption blog.

I thought I might be able to keep this blog up while we are away, sort of the B-side of Kyiv, and there are plenty of posts and pictures to keep you entertained... but I just don't have enough hours in the day.

So even if you aren't the least bit interested in our adoption (and please don't admit that to me) you may want to go see what else we have been up to in Ukraine.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Wrong Orphans

It has been said to my face but more often behind my back with a hint of disapproval and a dose of disdain... that old standby response when people hear that we are adopting two orphans with special needs from another country...

“There are plenty of children in the United States that need adopting.”

What exactly are you trying to say? I know what the words mean, but I want to know what this statement, made under the circumstances of hearing about our adoption, means.

Are you saying we picked the wrong kids to rescue?


We are forever sacrificing our time and resources to save two orphans who are doomed to a life in a place worse than where we send our most violent criminal offenders, and you have the balls to critique us with a, “there are kids in the USA that need to be adopted”?

For real? You have something negative to say about us saving the lives of two innocent human beings? Seriously? You want to dicker with me about who deserves to be adopted and... who doesn't? You really wanna go there with me?

Listen, if your heart doesn’t break for children with special needs who are living in terrible conditions and facing even worse... If, for whatever your reasons are, you don’t want adopt one or help me save the two children we chose, that is ok. But don’t try to turn it around into something bad just because you don’t want to be a part of it.


And one day when God says to you, “For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me..." you can answer, “Sorry ‘bout that Lord, if only you had shown me your American passport.” Mat 25:42-45

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Things I Do For You

It is a risky thing being a blogger. You put yourself out there for all the world to see, analyze, judge, decide to follow or not... You say things to whoever is willing to read you, and sometimes you get hurt, anonymously of course.

Around here, there is more than just my emotions and reputation at stake... because while I am busy writing (for your pleasure and edification) my son Jade is busy concocting...


His grandparents bought him a cookbook for Christmas and now he fancies himself a gourmet chef. This morning when I came up from my basement office for a drink refill and to check on him, I found him standing on a chair pulled up to the stove, stirring a pot full of everything he could reach.


“I’m making nail stew for Gecko’s birthday,” he told me cheerfully.

(Nail stew... my bad. Jade will not let anyone clip his fingernails so a while ago I made up a story about needing them for fingernail stew. He graciously allowed his father to cut one off for me to use in my stew. Gecko called me out on it insisting I was lying about eating fingernails... so I popped it in my mouth and quickly swallowed it down with a “Ha, I am NOT a liar.” Now Jade brings me his nails whenever one breaks or his father has at it with the clippers.)


Want the recipe? Water, ice cubes, potato chips, corn toasties, butter, balsamic vinegar, agave, coffee, cinnamon, salt, half an Oreo, two eggs, and Cheerios. Oh, and a handful of freshly cut little boy fingernails.

almostdoneSo far I have evaded having to taste test it. Although he did. (Thankfully it was before the addition of the eggs.) He spit that mouthful right back into the pot with a grimace, and then told me it was delicious. But come tomorrow morning I am going to have to lie to him... He is going to want to know where the nail stew went and I cannot tell him that I threw it out. That would hurt his feelings. It might permanently damage the budding cook inside of him. I am going to have to say I got very hungry and ate it all up during the night.

I’ll bet you had no idea of the things I have to do to spend time with you reader.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Fundraising Sucks

There, I said it.

homemadelatteIf you have read my blog for a while, you know I love my lattes, so much so that they are what I gave up for Lent this year. Now I have given them up completely. I mean, I have given up professional, expensive Starbuck’s made lattes. I have learned how to make my own cheapo version on my stovetop.

Why? Because when we realized that we would have to do some fundraising to save both our little girls, I knew it would not be right to continue to spend money on such wasteful luxuries as lattes. I thought that would be the most painful part of fundraising.

But it isn’t.

Asking people to donate money toward something huge like the adoption of two international orphans with Down syndrome is the most uncomfortable thing I have ever had to do. Seriously, it is even more humiliating than having my first baby... up on a table with an audience staring at my goods, which didn’t look so good just then.

I tell myself that the CEOs of Feed The Children, Heifer International, Smile Train, and Children International don’t feel like crap for asking for donations to save children from horrendous life conditions... so why do I? They probably haven’t even given up Starbuck’s.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Dead Mouse

When I was a child, I adored field mice. I would rescue them from the cat and doctor them up. ICU was our bathroom and the recovery room was a shoebox in my bedroom. I would put fluffed up cotton balls in there for a comfy bed, and milk-soaked white bread in an upsidedown jar cover for nourishment. Many a mouse had nine lives in our house.

One morning I found the cutest mouse ever, already dead, in the driveway. This mouse was a chocolatey brown color with soft fur. He had something really special about him I had never seen before... the most amazing black wings fitted right to his little arms. He must have been an angel mouse.

I scooped him up and ran him right to the front door to show my mother. To say that she screamed would be an understatement. You would think I had delivered the devil to her. “Get rid of it, don’t touch it, drop it.... It’s a BAAAAAT!!!”

I have no idea what my six or seven year old self did with that dead bat... the memory ends there on the cement steps with me trying to understand why my darling dead mouse was so horrible.

Fast forward many years... I found another “mouse with wings” in my driveway...


Ahhhh, I get it now.

I have been trying to figure out if the mouse/bat in my memory really did look like this one. How could I have thought he was adorable? Sometimes I really miss that schema-less little girl.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Whose Blog Is This?

Earlier this month I wrote a post about honesty and writing, trying to decide for myself if it matters that the blogger’s truth is usually blurry. I left off thinking it probably doesn’t matter.

But what about when the blogger’s truth is silenced, subjugated by the fact that readers might be hurt, or pissed. When a blog is anonymous, the you isn’t you reader, and so the author can talk about you all she wants.

But this blog isn’t really anonymous anymore, so if I use your marriage, my job, or something you said, did, or didn’t do as fodder, well then reader, I might actually be talking about you, and you would know that, and you would probably not like it.

And then I would be in trouble.

Over the last week I have written posts, and then not posted them. I’ve written about things that I am struggling with, things that are hurting me... For the first time since I started blogging I have written in blood and then decided that I cannot publish my words.

My blog is not my own anymore. In a way it belongs to its readers... it is held captive by their feelings, their judgements, their sensibilities... You stranger are not a stranger anymore, and now I just can’t talk to you the way I used to.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Angel Sleeps


There are times when I just want to eat her up. I mean really, doesn’t she just look delicious?

Saturday, July 10, 2010


What does it mean to say that I accept that Kimani has Down syndrome, or that I accept her as is? And, is acceptance the same as being “over it”?

First I contemplate the definition of acceptance...

1. the act of taking or receiving something offered.
2. favorable reception; approval; favor.
3. the act of assenting or believing: acceptance of a theory.
4. the fact or state of being accepted or acceptable.

Well, I didn’t abort her or give her away, so I would say number one is a go. Seeing how I adore her, and think she is an interesting and fun child, 2 is good. I knew the second I saw her that she has Down syndrome, and an unnecessary blood test performed by the hospital proved this, so clearly I believe and accept that she has Down syndrome.

Number 4... hmmm.

My husband and I were driving along one day last Fall when I told him that the dentist said Kimani is missing teeth. I was surprised that he was bothered by this. I pointed out that it isn’t like she was missing a ventricle or something, I mean it’s just teeth. You can buy those. And he was quickly assuaged. Missing teeth... acceptable.

beautyBut what about the delays? Our Baby’s First Year calendar is now a first three years notebook. I can handle that. In fact, there is a certain thrill and rush of pride that comes every time she does something new. You know how you feel when your kid scores the winning goal at the soccer game? I feel like that each time she uses a new sign or says a new word, or shows off a new motor skill.

So far so good. Now I will take a deep breath and go one step further.

Eventually time will show that delays are no longer just delays, that there are other things missing... things that cannot be bought. If she is at the top of her class those things may be minor and not so painful. But if she is a typical design, then there will be things... bigger things... things I don’t even want to put into words right now.

Oh, I know there are a lot of years between here and there, and that when it goes day by day it is easier to find these things about her “acceptable”. I have faith that I will always find her to be acceptable to me in the present.

Acceptance... I think I’ve got it covered and can safely say I am there. But am I over it? When she is grown, and she is who she is, and I make peace with that, then I guess I’ll be sure that I’m over it. But for now, I just don’t know.

(Moms of older kids... are you out there? Talk to me.)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Honesty, Authenticity, and the Pursuit of Truth

“I love your honesty.”

I like that comment, and I have gotten it a couple times after I left some blood and guts on a post or two. When I read that type of comment, I think maybe, just maybe, I successfully reached a place in myself that is the most authentic part of me. The writer in me would like to go there more often.

One time a person commented on my “We’re Not in Kansas Anymore, Toto” post and told me that maybe I wasn’t being honest. That person had read around this blog and felt what I like to refer to as the undertow of a blog. The undertow, the part I didn’t know that I wrote, or perhaps left out, and the supporting pieces that often have their own unintended message. That person was very perceptive, and challenged a belief I have that isn’t set in stone.

Starrlife just wrote a post titled, Blogging is Not Journalism 2
about another blog author’s post titled Truth in Blogging...

Does it matter if truth creeps into fiction or fiction creeps into truth?”

I like blogs that have that authentic feel, that grain of truth that is universal and transcend this issue. I like to think I can perceive those blogs. Do I? Can you?”

I am guessing that many of us have different motives for blogging, but most of those motives likely have something to do with authenticity, honesty, or truth... all different birds indeed. We have something to say, something we believe to be true, and we want to share this truth in order to have some effect in our sphere of influence.

But what if something in your blog’s undertow tells a story that is different from the one you are intentionally writing? What if you hear “I love your honesty” and “I don’t quite believe you” after the same post? What if someone questions the truth of some of your personal claims? Can one be honest and authentic but perhaps blind to certain truths? And does it even matter what is personally true and what isn’t, so long as the writer is being genuine and having a positive impact?

Most of the time I don’t think it matters that a writer is rarely able to completely pull off Shakespeare's “To thine own self be true” advice on a personal blog. As long as you mystify me, rock me, make me think, or drown me in beauty... I am happy to have visited you.

But what if your undertow is beginning to separate a group of people that I am very plugged into and proud of? I guess I then become one of those commenters who asks you to dive into it and see where it takes you.

(I would love for this to be a conversation but no unsigned anons for this one please.)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Little Boys and Fireworks

Yesterday I blew up the baby pool. Well, I started to, and then felt woozy so I went to the neighbor’s and borrowed an air pump. I couldn’t wait to get in the pool with Kimani.


What a cute little pool... the roof makes hanging out in it bearable for Kimani. I was looking forward to delightful days with the little ones splashing around... and chewing on it.


And then my husband spent the evening igniting fireworks while the boys ran around with sparklers. “Stay away from the pool!” I warned once, twice, at least five times.

Have you ever seen two little boys jacked up on explosives? No? Well, let me show you what the results look like...


Thursday, July 1, 2010

In The Moment

“Be in the moment,” Anonymous said, and I listened.

So now maybe this...


will remind me of this...




Wednesday, June 30, 2010


When I was 15 years old, I killed myself. One could say it was accidental but then one might be lying. Looking back, it must have been a very upsetting and even humiliating experience for my mother. Sorry mom.

Why did I do it? Oh, what a complicated question to which there is no simple answer.

The door was open. It has always been open for as long as I can remember. And one day, I just stepped through it.

I have been asked what I saw on the other side and the answer is nothing. Perhaps an overdose of drugs and alcohol blots out the shining light...

I saw nothing, but I learned something... Death answers to God.

(God was kind enough to remind me of this yesterday at our staff picnic. A friend mentioned that he had once died... and suddenly I recalled a day long ago, a day I had almost forgotten, a day that taught me that God calls the shots, not me.)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Open Door

I feel this poem...

Death Barged In
by Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno

In his Russian greatcoat
slamming open the door
with an unpardonable bang,
and he has been here ever since.

He changes everything,
rearranges the furniture,
his hand hovers
by the phone;
he will answer now, he says;
he will be the answer.

Tonight he sits down to dinner
at the head of the table
as we eat, mute;
later, he climbs into bed
between us.

Even as I sit here,
he stands behind me
clamping two
colossal hands on my shoulders
and bends down
and whispers to my neck,
From now on,
you write about me

(From Slamming Open the Door by Kathleen Sheedar Bonanno. Copyright © 2009 by Kathleen Sheedar Bonanno. Used without the permission of Alice James Books and so I hope you go buy a copy so they don’t send me to prison. All rights reserved.)

She knows what I know, only she knows it better than I.

Death opened the door and I cannot get it to close all the way.

It doesn’t seem to matter that Kimani is a healthy 25 lbs. of sheer power and joy. It doesn’t matter that she has 21 signs and says things, and can almost walk. It doesn’t matter that when she eats peaches or berries or watermelon that the sweet juice bursts forth and trickles down her chin. Even her wild laughter cannot bolt the lock.

I can see him, I see the shadow he casts from that thin crack of space where the door is still slightly ajar.

“Go away,” I yell at him pushing hard against the smooth cold wood. My efforts are futile and he is nonplussed, still tossing golden coins in the air.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The B-Side of Summer

I used to love my flowers. They reminded me of summertime, carefree days and warmth. But now my brain has tangled them with imagery of my baby suffering. I can no longer disassociate this blooming flower...


from these bruised flowers.



And when the hot sun, that I used to love, beats down on me I think of how her mouth and nose looked when I would come back in the mornings. No mercy from the imaginary sun that dried her lips into rock candy and caused her nose to bleed.



The smell of fresh cut grass tells me that today there may be some skin missing or an infection brewing.



As I watch the ants coming and going, all over their little hills,


I see the needle pricks. Once, after her surgery, I counted 47 holes in her wrists and upper inner thighs... and then I stopped counting. With nothing left to hit on the outsides, it went in under her armpit.



I debate whether I should destroy the pictures and burn her accoutrements. Will summertime return to me anew if I do?


Maybe you should talk to someone my husband says. That is why I write, I say.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Can a Broken Heart Forget?


Two years ago last Friday she came and rocked my world. I had already been around the block a time or two. Lived through parents’ divorces, beloved boyfriends cohorting with best friends, surgeries, and plenty of bad news. But as Hillary Johnson put it, I had never really learned to cry.

Oh, but I did learn how then. I learned that nothing, nothing hurts like losing a child. In the end, as you know, we got to keep her. But there is this little part of my heart that doesn’t believe it, that can’t trust it, that won’t let me forget.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Very Special Gift


Ruby’s big brother Grady has an amazing ability to draw. He has decided to use that talent to help save Yana, a little girl in an Eastern European orphanage who has a family committed to her. Grady is donating a custom 5x7 single subject drawing to the winner of Yana’s 100 Good Wishes fundraiser.

Here is how it works. Donate any amount to Yana’s 100 Good Wishes fund and you will be entered to win. Once the 100 wishes are filled, Lisa (Yana’s mama) will put all the donor’s names it a hat and select a winner. The winner gets to send a photo to Grady and he will create a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind graphite pencil drawn replica of it. This gift is valued at $100.

Don’t miss your chance to win something special from this up and coming amazing artist. Check out more of Grady’s work on his blog, The Way of the Pencil.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Straight from the Horse's Mouth

800 children and only 40 childcare providers, whew. No wonder they only get one or two diaper changes a day. Pay close attention to the part about what happens to the children with Down syndrome. This is why we are saving Mallory and Peach.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Dear Anon, Now That You Mentioned It

I’ll speak to your comment (left on my last post) in the order that you mentioned your concerns.

1. As far as I know there are no children in this country dying of starvation and dehydration tied to metal cribs in mental institutions. If I am wrong, and you know this for sure, please hang up and dial 911 and direct the authorities to the scene of the crime.

I have not forgotten the children in my own backyard, I just haven’t seen any there that need me to adopt them the way these girls do.

2. I wish the US made that its calling. If so, the world would be a better place.

3. There is a waiting list to adopt a child with Down syndrome in the United States. There are over 200 families waiting at any given time. Most of these babies don’t even make it into foster care and are snapped up right at their hospital of birth.

4. If you have a bed and food, and medical insurance, you should adopt those children that you know need it. Saving a child’s life has nothing to do with national borders. If you and everyone who felt like you do adopted a US child out of foster care, well we wouldn’t even need foster parents anymore! I look forward to following your adoption blog, please post a link for us.

5. It is actually 25 thousand dollars, plus 5k more for the second one.

6. We can afford to raise two more children. Our finances have been gone over and proven to an accredited agency that has recommended us as being able to provide a good home and a bright future to two more children.

7. We do not have 30 thousand dollars laying around, ‘tis sad but true. If you donated, we’d get it faster though ;-)

8. The worst kids of all? As judged against what criteria? Well, no worries, we had to prove that we carry private health insurance before we were approved to adopt... so your precious medicaid system is relatively safe from my little raiders.

9. Thank you for bringing this all up and giving me the opportunity to talk about these things.

Anonymous is not alone. Anonymous is not the first person to hint around (ok, so anon didn't hint) that what we are doing... well... might cost American taxpayers money someday. Money taken away from you by our gov't and spent on people with special needs. Well, yeah, the possibility is there, and I’m sorry about that. Hopefully our trust will always provide for our girls, but if it doesn’t, I ask you now to forgive me for saving their lives.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Am I Crazy?

Many many people have asked if my husband and I are nuts for adopting two Eastern European orphans with Down syndrome. They try to say it in a joking manner, but they are implying that maybe this isn’t such a good idea.

Mallory is three years old. On her 4th birthday she will be institutionalized. Have a look at her future.


I am not exaggerating. Read all about it here.

Am I crazy? No I don’t think so. Can you look at that picture and read that post and do nothing to help the families who are willing to take these children? Can you turn away and forget what you have seen? Are you crazy?

If 1000 people throw in just $25 each, one less child ends up tied to a metal crib for life. We need your help to save these children:
Mallory and Peach
Visit Mallory and Peach's adoption blog

Visit Yana

Visit Makayla's adoption blog

Visit Josiah's adoption blog

Want to do even more? There are lots of families on Reece's Rainbow who are in the process of saving orphans. Go visit them and show them some tax-deductible love.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Wrong Impression

If you left my Rescue Me post thinking my church is filled with cheap hypocrites, then I gave you the entirely wrong impression of the few thousand people that attend there. Just as every human being has weaknesses and imperfections, so does a body of people, even those who love Christ.

My church actually spends about three hundred thousand dollars a year on missions. That is a very generous number. It is just that we do not have an orphan adoption ministry and that really needs to change.

And if I stood up in front of my church during all three services one week and made a presentation of what we are doing and asked for help, I have no doubt that our congregation would rise to the occasion and I would probably even have tons of money left over to give to other RR families who are adopting. (Unfortunately, I wouldn't be allowed to do that sort of thing.)

So don’t get me wrong, my church is filled with true Christian people... it has just become a little too corporate, a little too about itself and its corporate mission. This experience has made that clear to me. That is the discomfort I have been struggling with for a couple years now. To me, there is no more personal family-style church left in my church.

But I promise you God is there.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Doubting TUC

Have I ever told you that I am not the most faith-filled Christian? Yes, well, I am not.

I swear God told me it was time to adopt a child. I felt it. I prayed about it. I was pretty sure He said to do it, but it isn’t like there was a burning bush in the back yard or anything.

As often happens to me, I will get partway through doing something and I will begin to doubt God’s presence in it. This is especially easy for me to do when my church isn’t formally supportive, and when my father begins to question me, when the funds don’t appear, and when people send me emails hinting around that this adoption thing isn’t a good idea.

I start to think, OMGoodness, maybe I made it all up in my head. Maybe God didn’t say anything to me at all. Maybe I am crazy. Maybe there really is no God. Yes, I am a perpetual doubter. I panic and then I worry that my mistake will haunt me forever. Dramatic, eh?

And just when I started to feel sick to my stomach about the whole affair, my sweet Lord sent me a gift, a reminder of his promises, of his word, of his love and support. It came late last night while I was perusing blogs. I stumbled upon a video of a missions trip to an Eastern European orphanage. In web time it was long, eight whole minutes, but I clicked start anyway. And then it happened, she appeared on a swing, full of smiles. My heart skipped a beat and I backed it up. Was it really her? Was this possible?

That was the gift but not the reminder of his will for me. No, the reminder was the verse that was posted right at the end of my girl’s scene,
“Truly, I say to you, as you do to one of the least of these my brothers, you do to me.” Matthew 25:40.

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you might remember that is the verse that God used to prompt me toward adoption. I felt a physical swoop of joy and thankfulness when I read it there and my doubts melted away.

5:21 and 7:27, isn’t she adorable?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rescue Me

I’ve been feeling uncomfortable disconnected disappointed disconcerted with my church for some time now. It started during my pregnancy for Kimani and it has grown into a nagging feeling that I cannot shake.

I probably could have managed to ignore it if not for the picture, titled Rescue Me, that appeared in the upstairs hallway. I have to look right at it each time I exit the stairwell to go down the hall to my office. It is under copyright so if you want to see it, go look.

It is a picture of part of a child’s face, an obviously non-American child, and on it are the words,

“As the body of Christ our greatest crime against humanity is our indifference and indecision towards the cultural problems we are faced with. This tolerance lulls us into a state of limbo that kills action. Without action there is no rescue. For some, without rescue there is no hope. You can be that hope, you can be that rescue."

It immediately makes me think of orphans that need to be rescued. You might think it is wonderful that our church feels so strongly about this sort of “cultural problem” that such a lovely reminder was chosen to hang on the wall, but...

When God called us to adopt an orphan who without rescue would have no hope in this world, we were shocked to find out the cost of an international adoption. I felt ill as I read the sheet of impending expenses... document fees, required donations, court costs, facilitation fees, translation costs, attorney fees, travel expenses... It was overwhelming and insurmountable.

Then an amazingly generous donor appeared and offered to cover two-thirds of the cost but only if other donors could be found to raise the remaining funds. We were thrilled. We knew we could raise the rest. After all, we are part of a huge church and we have zillions of friends and family and acquaintances who all love God and care about orphans.

Our first stop was the church. My husband met with the appropriate leader and explained our mission to him. He asked for any financial support our church might be able to give. He was told that our church doesn’t assist with adoptions, that the elders have not approved that sort of benevolence.

I admit, I was stunned. We are not an infertile couple seeking help to adopt the perfect Russian doll. We are just an average family seeking to do God’s will to rescue two children facing life in cold hard hopeless institutions. My heart was hurt that our church of all these years showed “indifference” toward this very real “cultural problem”.

And then the fine art print appeared in the hallway and now I can’t ignore my feelings anymore but the problem is... I don’t know what to do with them.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Saying Yes Is Hard

Sometimes I know what God wants me to do but I am not ready to do it. Like when he wanted me to get baptized and I pretended not to listen for about a year and a half.

It has been a while now that I have known that it grieves God’s heart to see the fatherless left to suffer and die. No doubt I first heard about that in Sunday school many years ago, and certainly there have been refreshers along the way.

Then Kimani was born and a new world opened up to me, a world where children like my little beauty are left in orphanages, without necessary medical care and therapy, without affection and comfort. A world where four year olds are shipped off to mental institutions where the lifespan inside those walls is less than two years.

I don’t exactly remember how I found Reece’s Rainbow but I do remember how I felt when I looked at those little faces, those eyes, eyes like Kimani’s, eyes asking to be saved. I felt the squeeze in my heart. I knew the day would come that I would travel halfway across the world to take one of those babies home to safety.

We were not in a position to adopt a child. Our house is full. We do not have an extra 30 thousand dollars sitting around. I already cook a lot and do a ton of laundry and change many beds. As parents we are already stretched. But one day in February as I was perusing Reece’s Rainbow, God whispered in my ear, “It’s time.”

And though saying yes to adopting was a hard thing for us to do right now, we did not bother to waste time protesting. With that said, let me introduce our daughters-in-waiting...

Mallory is three years old and currently living in an orphanage in Eastern Europe.

Peach is seven months old and lives in the same orphanage as Mallory though it is likely they have never met. Peach has a very serious heart defect and needs to get home soon so that she can have life-saving surgery.

There is a lot of story between February and now, and I will share it when I get a chance on our adoption blog. There you can read more about our girls, and our adoption adventures.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Man Bag

I bought my six year old son a pocketbook. It wasn’t easy.

Tuesday night after dinner, I announced I was going over to the mall to find a nice organizer bag to go inside my new big black pocketbook. My husband gave me that look, the “You’re going to leave me home with all these kids during the bewitching bedtime hours?” So I took the Gecko with me to lighten the load for him.

We headed straight to the Macy’s purse displays. Mmm...delightful... Guess, Nine West, Fossil... We snapped, zipped, flapped, stroked and sniffed. We admired, explored, examined, and counted pockets. I favored a Giani Bernini black, shiny, soft nylon bag with a gorgeous royal purple interior. Gecko wanted its red twin, but not before he pleaded for a black flower-embossed Fossil wallet, a leopard print triple zipper bag, a bright blue leather sac, and a screamingly shiny black Guess satchel with a couple pounds of silver bling on it.

How could I say no? No, Gecko, you can’t have one of these fancy bags with cool hidden pockets because you are a boy. I couldn’t bring myself to say that, so I told him what a man bag is and said we would hunt around the mall until we found the perfect one for him. We hit up several stores and all the while I hoped he would become distracted by something else that I could use as a diversion. Maybe he would then choose on his own not to get a pocketbook.

But he was determined. I guided him away from the sequined evening bags, pointing out how they don’t have enough pockets. I reminded him that pink, silver, and yellow will not match most of his wardrobe so we should stick with black or brown. He finally settled on a black and gold mid-sized bag with front pockets, a back zipper, top zipper, and an inside zip pocket. He carried it up to the counter and proudly gave it to the cashier. She made some comment about how she thought he was carrying his mom’s pocketbook, and I thought, “So it begins.”

We asked her to cut the tags off because he wanted to use it right away. On the way out of the store he swung the bag high over his head and said, “Mom, when I become a soldier I am bringing this bag with me. I am going to fill it with rocks and BAM somebody with it.” Lol, that’s my boy.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Don't Try This At Home

Seriously, this trick is being performed by a professional. You will hurt yourself if you try to sleep like this.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Worst Kind of Mistake

A Florida OB-GYN who was supposed to abort a fetus with Down syndrome in a twin pregnancy but leave the normal one alone made the worst kind of mistake.”

I’ll bet you can guess what the oopsie was.

I must be really jaded about this issue because I snorted a half laugh and half humph after reading the article in the Miami Herald. I couldn’t help it. The sick irony of the whole situation sent me over the edge.

This couple wanted a child bad enough to hop through the in-vitro hoop, and they got twins out of it, a boy and a girl... two for the price of one. But, oh no, one was “not normal.” One had Down syndrome and was therefore scheduled to die.

But then uh oh, Mr. OB-GYN accidentally injected the wrong baby... and when you kill the wrong baby there is hell to pay. You can lose your license to practice medicine over such a mishap. The doctor felt really bad about it (not sure if “it” was losing his license or killing the wrong baby.) He said he was going to kill himself over it and ended up involuntarily hospitalized. (You can kill babies but not yourself, I guess.)

And what did the mom and dad learn from this mistake? If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. A week later they had the little guy with Ds injected and ended the whole nasty affair.

I feel sad that when it is all said and done, the worst kind of mistake means something entirely different to me than how it was written in the article. And I feel sorry for that couple, sorry for them in ways I can’t even explain.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

What She Saw There

"We showed up unannounced one day at the orphanage. All the children were in the big wooden playpen. They were all tied to the slots of the playpen so they couldn't move. No wonder they didn't want us to come in the room." - Jodi

They spend the first four years of their lives in these orphanages, then the rest of their lives in mental institutions.

It does not have to be that way.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Say It

I remember when I couldn’t say it without choking up. I couldn’t get it out without the heat rising inside of me... I couldn’t say it without feeling like I might crack wide open and my guts would fall out on the floor.

Maybe if she had been born with no heart complications, maybe if she had nursed from the start like a champ, maybe if I had been able to take her straight home to her beautiful nursery.

Maybe if someone had captured gorgeous pictures of her in fancy baby girl lace, instead of decked out in wounds, wires, and tubes...

Maybe if I could have convinced myself that she was a Rockstar, that she would be the One to break the mold, that she was going to be different... that she was more special than special. Maybe if all my friends and family had played along...

Maybe then I could have said it without shaking,

"My baby has Down syndrome."

But none of that matters anymore, because I can say it now. I can say it with ferocity. I can say it with dignity. I can say it with love.

But most importantly, I can say it with indifference.


Monday, March 15, 2010

In Today's Mail

Dear Mrs. Easter Bunny,

bunnytailYou’re so beautiful and sweet and smart. Your tail is the fluffiest tail I’ve ever seen, and I can tell looking at you that you really do love me, even when we fight. Your hair looks fantastic, even when you’ve just gotten out of bed. You don’t need makeup, you’re covering the most beautiful face under it.

And of course, your amazing cooking. You’re so creative with your food, your scrapbooking, it’s great. And I really do appreciate all the time you spend with and for me. Thank you, Easter bunny. You have given me more than candy could ever give me (but candy would still be nice).

Easter wish list
Gift card to the artist store, mp3 player, JellyBelly Jelly Beans, fancy leggings, Bic mechanical pencil, G2 07 pen, rubber bands, orange Cadbury eggs, and paper.

Love, TK.

(Lol, I love my teenager.)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Blood Brothers

As a kid there were a handful of times that I cut my palm and smushed it against a friend’s matching wound to seal our alliance. Only the coolest, most trusted buddies became my blood brothers this way. Then the Eighties brought aids to light and my sanguinary relationship building came to a halt.

I had all but forgotten about that ritual until the other day when a blogger I know only through our various online relationships made an extraordinary promise to me. She pledged to make a modern-day blood sacrifice that will be added to my own personal sacrifices to accomplish something that will be life-changing.

We are blog sisters, friends, mothers, advocates, and educators walking down the same road of life together. Her son and my youngest daughter brought us together in this exclusive, invitation-only club. She knows certain private details of my life that are written on my heart because she has read them off her own. She recognizes my pain, and feels my pride. She dreams my dreams and wakes from my nightmares.

One simple genetic hiccup has given me a new sister, and she is worthy of a bloody high-five.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I’m Supposed to Save Who?

In many ways my church is evangelical... we want to go out and save as many people as possible. We want to show people the way to God, encourage them to take next steps, and train them to become mature followers of Christ. We want to grow the body of Christ... to make more and better disciples.

Why? Just so they can fill our seats at weekend services? So they can tithe ten percent to support God’s work? So they can be Godly examples to others? So they’ll know the “right” way to vote when it comes to abortion?

I’m doing my part. I work for the church. I tithe as I should. I am involved in a bible study and I pray for my unchurched friends... Wanna see?

Dear God, I pray for my friend so-and-so, that she will come to know and love you. I pray that she will be saved and come to church. I pray that she will become like me... that she will write blog posts about you, that she will model your love in her marriage, that she will sing in the choir and volunteer in the Sunday school nursery. All this, Lord, so that she can become Christ-like, like me and then pray for her friends to become Christ-like, like her. Amen.

rfarLately His replies are way off topic... “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Psalm 82: 3-4


Come on God, you’re not serious... are you? You want me to go rescue afflicted, destitute orphans? Don’t you think me working for you, me tithing my ten, me leading a bible study, and praying for those in need is enough? Sheesh. Can’t I just pray that somebody else takes up that cross?

alinafeb2010-croppedAnd the King answered me, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me... Truly, I say to you, as you do to one of the least of these my brothers, you do to me.”
Mat 25:34-40

p.s. Oh Mel-an-ie, La la la la la...I’m not listening to you.
"Will God call you to lead a Bible Study while He calls others to adopt orphans? No. As long as there are orphans in the world, we are ALL called, because these children deserve to have a family and a chance at life; they need to know God loves them. If every Christian family in the United States adopted only one orphan, we wouldn't have an orphan crisis around the world, and many Christian families have room for one more child in their homes. I firmly believe EVERY believer is called to care for orphans unless you are aged out of the system, are financially limited or have a physical condition that prohibits you from adopting.....and in those cases, you can still help raise money to assist others in adoption.

Some of my words may be tough to digest, but I am sickened by the prejudice against the orphans.....especially the orphans with Special Needs. For goodness sake, they are children. They are children. They are children. They are children. We cannot turn our heads and pretend it is not our problem."

Ok, seriously Melanie, I am listening. In fact, the whole "Will God call you to lead a Bible Study while He calls others to adopt orphans?" line is what inspired this post.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Man Feet

My son the Gecko is my first born child. I tend to baby the Gecko a bit... on school mornings I dress him either while he is still half asleep snuggled in his bed, or while he is at the kitchen table enjoying his breakfast. It is a ballet dance between us as he automatically presents an arm or foot just as I am slipping on a sleeve or pant leg.

Yesterday morning, a morning that pretended to be like any other, he swung his foot up to hook the oncoming sock... and I saw it. I caught his foot in one hand and left the sock dangling in the other as I gawked at it. It was a man foot. There were strong tendons fanning out with little dips between them. The toes were individually shaped with the first and middle ones grown longer than the big one. There were indents in the sides of them where they lay tightly against each other when he walks or runs. And there was a faint hint of stinky.

Before I could stop it, out flew an astonished, “Oh my goodness your toes!” Peanut butter and honey toast froze midway to his mouth and he looked down at me with concern. I recovered quickly and made up a little myth about how having your first and middle toes be longer than your big toe meant you are brilliant. I showed him the evidence of his genius and then tugged the sock over it and moved along to the other foot.

It too showed no trace of my baby boy’s scrumptious feet. No longer was it plumped up and covered in silky soft skin, topped off with perfect piggies... one the size of a small grape, the others like tiny treats in a row from biggest to smallest.

Those infant boy feet that I had sung to, feigned eating, massaged with lotion, and squashed against my nose to sniff up the sweetness of babyhood were gone, replaced by man feet. I had made it just fine through his first crew cut, his first day of kindergarten, and the loss of his first tooth but this... this was different.

I knew the second I saw that man foot it was a harbinger. It gave me a vision of something I was not ready to see. One day those man feet will walk out my front door and the boy will not return.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Bless Me Father, For I Have Sinned


Bob Marshall, a Virginia delegate (R-13th District), had this to say about the reason women have disabled children...

“The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion who have handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the first-born of any, Nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children. In the Old Testament, the first-born of every being, animal and man, was dedicated to the Lord. There's a special punishment Christians would suggest, and with the knowledge they have from faith has been verified by a study by the Virginia Commonwealth University.”

Huh, I am not even sure where to begin with all that is wrong there, so I’ll change the subject.

I got baptized in the Spring of 2008. As part of the process at my church you have to meet with someone and talk about your understanding of baptism. I was asked what I expected would be the result of my baptism.

Considering that God had made it very clear to me that he wanted to me to get baptized (why else would I stand in a water tank, chest-level deep, in front of a couple hundred people and profess my commitment to him), I was convinced that there would be a dramatic change in my life. I expected to come up out of the water a new person, connected to God in a new way.

Just a couple weeks after my baptism, I found out that the baby inside me had a major heart defect and would require life-saving surgery by 6 months old. Oh, yeah, and it likely had Down syndrome too. Not exactly the baptism blessing one might expect to receive.

In fact, a girl might start to wonder if God was punishing her for something. Because after all, aren’t disabled children a burden? Don’t they suffer and cause those around them to suffer? Isn’t the scorn and hate people heap on them because they are inherently wrong, a mistake of nature, perhaps even Nature’s vengeance?

I am so glad God prepared me through baptism for the birth of Kimani. He knew that soon I would walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. He knew all the things I might think, all the fears I would have. He knew the barrage of contempt and ridicule complete strangers would hurl at me.

And he also knew that when it was all said and done, I would know I had been honored. I have given birth to a child that has given birth to me. There is no greater gift I could ask for. Kimani has cemented my faith in God and she has woken up my creative heart.

Thank you God, for in spite of my many sins, you have richly blessed me.

(Oh, and Mr. Marshall, shame on you for saying such an ugly, hurtful lie.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Learning When to Laugh

I love stand-up comedy. I can't tell you how many times Eddie Murphy has cracked me up... “You don't got no ice cream.” I grew up with no ice cream and I could still laugh at that skit. And Damon Wayans describing his cheese-eating math teacher... ROTF LMBO.

I could have been a comedian. And I might have if only I hadn’t been so slim. (Oh, come on, you know there is a weight requirement when it comes to being a successful girl stand-up comedian.)

I love to laugh. And I am my favorite target. I make jokes about things that were hilariously embarrassing, scary, or painful only a few years (weeks, hours) ago. I make jokes about my marriage, my sex life, my weaknesses, my crazy childhood, my colorful pre-Jesus years...

Because laughter is therapy... it feels good. Laughter heals.

But not when it’s ugly... like the time I was in the back seat of a car with a friend-of-a-friend driving... and it was raining and there was an obese girl walking down the sidewalk. The driver deliberately drove faster into a large puddle alongside her and splashed her with the muddy water. The guys up front laughed like hyenas. I was horrified. Ha ha ha, not funny.

I pink slip people who make fun of others in a cruel or demeaning kind of way. I consider it a fatal character flaw, and with all the people I can choose to spend time with why would I pick someone who gets a belly laugh out of humiliating someone else?

Yeah, I knew when to laugh and when not to. Then Kimani was born and the line shifted.

Damon Wayans doing “Handi-Man” isn’t quite so funny anymore. And yet, one night when my husband and I were talking about Kimani having Down syndrome I said to him with a grin, “Last one out’s a rotten egg.” And then I burst out laughing (and ended up crying. It was all a little raw still.)

If you made that joke I’d wipe the mud off me and hand you your walking papers. Is that fair? She’s my kid, she’s my egg... it was my guilt. So yeah, it’s ok that I could make that joke. (And it's ok if you laughed at it, or gasped and said, "That's horrible.")

I hope Kimani inherited my sense of humor. I hope she learns when to laugh. I hope when she hears a joke about squeezing her pet rabbit to death... that she gets it, and that she cracks up over it.

(And, I am already proud to know that she will never get her laughs by hurting someone else.)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Stone Me

A while ago I went with my aunt to see The Stoning of Soraya M. It was a hard movie to watch.

Soraya’s husband no longer wants to be married to her so he arranges for her to be accused and found guilty of adultery. According to Sharia law, she must be stoned for this. Her own father and her two young sons participate in the stoning (along with her husband and most every other male in the town).


I wanted to close my eyes, to turn away as the rocks flew into her face. But I denied myself that out because I knew it was a true story, and because she could not turn away, I would honor her by watching what she went through.

I felt so connected to her. I live in the same time period as she did. I have a husband and two young sons. I have committed sins much more worthy of a stoning.

I, too, have been condemned to die for my sins.


But as I await the fulfillment of my sentence, I hear Christ’s words, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7

Though no one steps forward, the weight of my own sins still holds me down in that hole like the convicted prisoner that I am. I realize that I am alive today simply because I was born in the USA instead of Iran.

Picture credit: I doctored the dvd box art. You can click it to see the original.
'TUC in the Ground' by Artist Anaa.