Merry Christmas!

So, I didn’t ever get around to sending Christmas cards this year, but I’m thinking a lot about my family and friends and how incredibly blessed I am. I have more friends and family than a lot of people in this world, and there’s a lot of love from everyone. As I read cards and letters sent to us, I continually thanked God for each one of you who touch our lives.

This has been another busy year in the Burkholder house. Dante is now three with everything that entails. He’s very independent, and is a “good helper” as he constantly reminds us. He’s decided that one or two naps per week is really more than enough for him (despite the fact that Mommy still seems to need more than that!). His favorite things to do usually involve some sort of letters or numbers and he’s becoming very proficient with the mouse on the computer (parents who use computers have children who use computers). He also LOVES playing games with us, especially Uno, Memory, and Chutes & Ladders.

Jeff is still working full-time at D&E Communications running numbers and theoretically helping things to run more smoothly for the company. We are still sharing our part-time job at Hosanna Christian Fellowship as Program Director/Coordinator, but have scaled hours back to 10 for each of us for the upcoming year. As much as we love working at the church, it will be nice to have a bit of extra family time! I recently joined the worship team at church and am loving the chance to sing more often again!

The biggest news of course is our upcoming adoption. We are still working on our formal application but hope to really get the process in full-swing come January. For more on that, please see previous posts here. Dante doesn’t entirely understand all of what is going on yet, but he knows that Mommy and Daddy are working on getting him a sister or brother. He’s apparently decided that he will have a little sister, because this is what he talks about the most. Hope he isn’t disappointed if he ends up with a little brother instead!

We’re all looking forward to Christmas. Dante has been ready for weeks and he’s been very excited, hyper, and occasionally ornery as a result. If he could just kick this cold he seems to have caught, he could enjoy the holidays a bit more. He’s very proud of our Christmas tree with the blue lights and tells everyone about it!

If I can figure out how to upload some family photos I will do that soon. I tried earlier and didn’t do something right apparently… Maybe I can get Jeff to help with that later. We’ll do our best to keep this blog updated this year, so please check back soon!

Merry Christmas to all of you and your families!

–Nean (on behalf of all three Burkholders)

Mind Boggling

I realize this post is a bit late. We had our all-day adoption class through Bethany this past Monday. Talk about information overload! We heard everything relating to the birth-parents’ viewpoint, the legal process of adoption, home study and profile information, proper language relating to adoption, and even baby-care. I’m sure I left something out, so forgive me. Even five days later, my mind is still processing everything.

I don’t know that I heard anything that I hadn’t heard before. Since my mom and dad have been foster parents off and on for most of my life and since I have adopted siblings and cousins, I’m pretty familiar with all the legal stuff (like waiting for parental rights to be terminated and court dates and all that). Having Dante means we’ve already learned all the baby care stuff. I’ve even known birth-parents who have put their child up for adoption and friends that have recently adopted (or are in the process themselves). But the class was really good to review all that.

What I most got out of the class? I got a greater compassion and sympathy for birth-parents. Having to allow another couple (that you’ve chosen solely based on pictures and paperwork that they’ve chosen to let you see) raise your baby — for ANY reason — has to be one of the most difficult decisions in the world. I pray that our angels will have the strength to trust us when the time comes. And I think I’m more willing to consider an open adoption arrangement (more on that down the road).

We also greatly enjoyed having lunch with another couple from our class. We’d actually met them before; they are the sister and brother-in-law of our friend Carol who works at Bethany. But it was great to talk and realize how much we have in common. Having another couple to walk through this journey with will be helpful!

Sitting in the class and looking around the circle reminded us a bit of our childbirth classes when I was pregnant with Dante. The reality that our lives are about to change forever finally sets in and suddenly the family won’t look quite the same as it did before. I feel a greater need to spend time with our family (the three of us) and enjoy every minute. I think I am even more thankful that God has blessed us as He did with Dante and given us the ability to care for him and love him.
What’s next for us? A lot of waiting! Next steps are the formal application (which we hope to get in before Christmas) and then the home study, creating a profile to show to birth-parents (kind of a family scrapbook), and then lots of waiting. In that sense it’s quite similar to pregnancy I suppose… Lots of preparation, followed by a lot of waiting. We’ll keep you posted.

We got to see a photo of the little boy, Marc (now Ashton), whose story spurred us into action this fall. He’s been adopted by a wonderful family (for those who’ve been asking about him). We are praising God for that and praying for the child who is meant to be part of our family.

The day ended with a panel of two couples who have adopted and a woman who does cradle-care foster parenting for Bethany. We heard two very opposite extremes of how adoption goes. Both had very beautiful little girls, but one of the experiences was very quick (less than 6 months from the time they turned in application until the finalization of the adoption) and the other was long, drawn-out and very painful. The second mother was threatened by the possible birth-father at the hospital and nearly lost their little girl after bonding with her. This mother has become very active among her local politicians in an attempt to speed the adoption process for the benefit of the children. Her comment to one politician has stuck with me and I issue it as a challenge to each of you who have children: “When you kiss your children good night and tuck them into bed tonight, thank God that no one can come and take them away from you.”

We hope and pray that our process is more like the first family’s experience, quick and painless. We covet your love and prayers as we walk through this next year. Please pray for us and our future child, but also for the birth-parents of that child. And enjoy your family today; they are your gift from God.