National Adoption Month

This month is national adoption month, it’s also the anniversary month of the birth of our amazing daughter who was placed in our arms, entirely coincidentally, during Adoption Month 2007.

I’ve had people tell me how hard it is to adopt. The approval process is a nightmare of paperwork, interviews, excitement, heartbreak, and waiting. It takes creative financing – particularly if you go through an agency or private adoption. Oversees adoption is even more so.

I get it. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. And for me, the work, money, and “intrusion of my privacy,” was far better than the idea of fertility treatments. The wait was far more “tolerable” and certain than “waiting to get pregnant.”

I’ve heard that “abortion means less children to adopt.” I cry bullshit. I means less available babies to adopt – which, consequently are more expensive to adopt, because less state funding is available. Adopting through the foster program is far less expensive, and there are plenty of children to adopt – plenty in need of good homes and loving parents. And until they are all adopted and there truly are no children left without good homes, I don’t want to hear abortion and availability of adoptable children in the same sentence again.

I strongly advocate adoption, but only with proper training and preparation. Prepare to have your heart broken by a child whose heart is already in a million pieces.

All of the excuses for not being able to adopt? I can refute them all. It’s about prioritizing what you spend your time, money, and effort on. Anyone can adopt if they really want to. But not everyone should. Parenting is hard. Adoption is harder.

But most days it’s absolutely worth it.

 

-Nean

I’m a Meanie-Pants

 

I’m a meanie-pants. Just ask my daughter. She’ll be more than happy to tell you what a bad mom I am, and how much she hates me. Really. You’d think she was fifteen instead of five some days.

We were driving home last night from an evening with friends. It was a long drive and about an hour or so after her bedtime. We asked her to try to close her eyes and try to go to sleep. It had been a long day and she hadn’t slept well the previous night. (I believe that’s what experts refer to as “grumpy-pants.”)

This simple request was followed by nearly an hour of screaming:

“I’m getting OUT of this family! I’m going out in the dark to walk and walk and find a NEW family. I know you will miss me, but I am NEVER coming back. EVER!”

Even when we got home and put her to bed, she continued her tirade after I told her she might want to sleep in her nice warm bed first, before she went out walking in the cold looking for a family:

“I’m NEVER going to sleep. And I’m NOT going to play with you again!”

She did, of course, eventually go to sleep, and was already asking me to play with her this morning and begging to snuggle. So I guess she slept some of it off or maybe just forgot who I am?

I confess she’s right though; I am a meanie-pants. I expect my daughter to get enough rest, eat food to stay healthy, and to play nicely with others. And apparently that makes me the biggest meanie-pants in the world. I think that might also make me a good mom (despite her vociferous objections), and I think if “meanie-pants” equals “good mom” then I’m okay with that.

All things considered, I hope to always be the best meanie-pants I can be for my daughter. She’s kinda stuck with this family anyway. The judge said so.

 

National Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Month and, more specifically, November 20 is National Adoption Day. Most of our regular readers know that our daughter was adopted through Bethany Christian Services. While they are obviously not the only good adoption agency out there, we highly recommend them because they provide excellent training, support, and understanding to both the adoptive and the birth families before, during, and after the adoption.

If you have read our adoption story, or walked personally through the process with us, you will already know that we were fortunate enough to bring our child home directly from the hospital when she was only a few days old. While we were unable to witness the birth of our daughter, we were able to meet and allow for an open relationship with her birth parents.

Not all children and not all adoptive families are as fortunate, however. The system is broken. Red tape and paperwork keep children in the system for years. Parents and children bond, literally fall in love with one another, and then never get the chance to be the family that all members deserve.

Many are stuck oceans apart from one another, waiting for visas and miscellaneous paperwork. Friends of ours waited for months for the that one last signature from a government official who was on an extended leave. Other friends waited years for specific children in other countries, only to find that the country that their child lives in was now closed to international adoptions and they would never see their child, let alone bring them home to their forever family.

Many children are stuck in the foster care system, constantly being passed from birth family to adoptive family and back again. Torn between allegiences, pitted by one set of parents against another, and never feeling like they have a permanent home or family. They wait years for a decision to be made regarding where their forever home will be. There are failed adoptions frequently, because adoptive (and even birth parents) are not properly educated in the psychological distress that is created for the children from being passed from one place to another. Children are being pulled out of homes unnecessarily because birth parent rights are considered more highly than what is in the best interest of the child.

The system needs to change. Children need and deserve to have homes, forever families. Without safety and consistency, children grow up unable to develop relationships that last. They grow up thinking that they are lesser citizens, that there is something wrong with them, that they are unlovable or unwanted.

Not everyone is able to adopt or foster children. You may not be emotionally, physically, or financially able to adopt. And there is no judgment in that. Not everyone is cut out to be an adoptive parent. But you’re not helpless to provide a better life to a child in need of forever security and consistency. You can help make a difference in a child’s life:

  • Some of you can help by donating money or time to a local adoption or foster care agency or to a family who is in the adoption process. One of the most common reasons that I hear from people as to why they don’t adopt even though they would like to is that they can’t afford it. Most agencies have grant/scholarship programs to help people in that very situation and these often rely on donations. You can volunteer to spend time with a child who is waiting for foster or adoptive care and let that child know that someone cares enough to give them something as valuable as time.
  • Some of you can help by providing temporary respite care for foster parents. Allow a child to spend a weekend or a few days at your house, so that foster parents are able to refresh and recharge themselves to better care for the child(ren) in their care. You will also help to teach that child that, unlike what their former situations may have taught them, the love and care they receive from their foster family should not be an exception to how family life should be, but that this lifestyle is what they should learn to expect and know they deserve.
  • ALL of you can learn to use appropriate language to talk about adoption and stop spreading (consciously or subconsciously) the false mentality that there is something wrong with being adopted. Comments like, “Be careful or I’ll tell mom you’re adopted,” or “You are so different, you must be adopted.” My least favorite ever: “Are you sure you want to adopt? You never know what could happen. The child could go crazy and kill you in your sleep.” Let’s stop looking at these children as anomalies and start loving the unloved and abandoned, and let’s make sure our speech and actions portray that.
  • ALL of you can spread the word and raise awareness. Let your government officials know that you recognize that this system is broken and that it’s time to promote legislation that speeds the process. At the very least, share this information on Facebook and Twitter, so your friends and family know you care and want to make a difference too.

We all deserve someone who we can trust to unconditionally understand and accept all that we are. We all deserve to be safe and have a home and family where we know we belong. Are you willing to help provide this for a child?

Tuggin’ on the heart strings…

So, exactly how nuts am I? Nuts enough to even entertain the thought of adopting again. And I’m not talking about somewhere down the road when Zoë is a year or two older. Oh, no. Now.

When my “contact” (thanks a lot, Carol!) at Bethany tells me about a two-week old African-American baby girl who is completely healthy and BEAUTIFUL in cradle care because no one wants her, I have to just put the pieces of my heart back together. So here I sit at my computer, trying to figure out if there is ANY possible way we can take her…

How can we finance that?
Can we find a mini-van?
Can we fit her in our tiny house?
Will my nerves be able to handle three kids (two of which would be under a year old)?
Will I ever sleep again? — I’ve JUST gotten used to sleeping through the night again!
WHY are people SO shallow that the fact that she is African-American even an issue?
How would Dante and Zoë handle a new baby sibling?

So, there’s also a couple other “issues” with social-medical background, but isn’t this the case with EVERYONE?

Am I really insane?

Realy, seriously, if anyone is even CONSIDERING adopting, PLEASE call the Lancaster office of Bethany TODAY. This little one is not alone in her situation.

The Winds of Change…

Things seem to always be changing in the Burkholder home. Now that we are officially the Burkholder Four, that chapter of adoption-related change seems to have come to an end… more or less, right?

Wrong! Ever since Zoe came along, I have been struggling to figure out how to balance the ever-growing demands of motherhood and the need to meet the ever-increasing demands of my job as well. Those of you who know me well, know my heart has always been to be a stay-at-home mom. Well, the job that I “fell into” at the church provided me that luxury for 4 and a half years. While I had trouble balancing the part-time position with being a mom to Dante, it somehow always seemed to work. But things are always changing for us. The job changed — several times. The family has changed to include one more little one and the demands of both were becoming too much.

So… in April, I took a month of “maternity leave”. I re-evaluated priorities. The church re-evaluated the position. I was thinking of leaving the position permanently. For many reasons, it didn’t seem practical to quit, however (mostly because Jeff and I were sharing the position and I was afraid that quitting would complicate his job — which he LOVES!)

So, I came back to work in May, but the church staff was noticing my heart wasn’t in my job anymore. So, we sat down and talked about it. They’re splitting out the position and Jeff will move into a role a Director of Technical Arts and the administrative stuff that I’ve been doing under the title of Creative Arts Director, will be open for hire as of July 21.

I’d call it a mutual decision even though the church broached the topic first. It’s an “amicable breakup” to borrow an analogy, and I’m really happy, looking forward to having more time and energy for my kiddos. But it’s still a “breakup”. It’s still change. I still don’t deal like change. And it still means re-evaluating our finances, our schedule, and our life in general…

So as thrilled as I am, it’s bittersweet. And so I mourn the loss of one “chapter” of life, while excitedly awaiting the freedom to be the mom I always wanted to be. See-Saw Ride anyone? 🙂

National Burkholder Day!

Today is the May 29th that was mentioned in our previous post. That, coupled with the exclamation mark in the post title should let you know that we’re in pretty good moods today. 🙂 Judge Jay Hoberg of the Lancaster Court of Common Pleas decided that we were cool enough to have custody of another kid: Zoë! Yay! Woohoo! Yippie! w00t! and other assorted happy sounds!

We also had quite a crowd in the courtroom with us: grandparents, church folk, Bethany people, and so forth. All three of us elder Burkholders got to testify (including Dante…we were all quite concerned when the judge asked Dante if there was anything else he wanted to say. Visions of him introducing the court to his orchestra-sized and -themed imaginary friends loomingly danced in my head, but didn’t happen) about how we all wanted this to happen; the judge declared that everything was in order according to some statute from October 15, 1980; and Zoë Elaine Burkholder is officially both our daughter and … well, Zoë Elaine Burkholder. 🙂

Pseudo-uncle (and actual Godfather) George called later to wish us a Happy National Burkholder Day. Sounded catchy. He, Holly and Elia couldn’t make it due to his school/work schedule, but we hope to get together with them soon. Most of the assembled then headed over to Oregon Dairy for a luncheon — ended with ice cream for all, so again: good moods.

Eventually, we’ll post pix or something, but to summarize: The long, dark nightmare of our nation is finally ended! Oh, wait…that won’t happen until Inauguration Day…unless McCain gets elected. I kid! I kid!

Mostly. 😉

Of adoptions and illnesses…

So… I must be the worst blogger in the universe. Thanks Ami, for a gentle prod to update this yet again.

And now for the big news: Zoë’s finalization hearing will be on May 29 at 10:00 AM. After that, she’ll officially be a Burkholder! And that will mark the end of this seemingly endless quest for adopting a child — and only the beginning of a lifetime of being a family of four! What a long, strange ride it’s been…

On the home front, Dante is LOVING being a big brother, helping out where he can and thoroughly enjoying his ability to make his sister giggle. She adores him and he adores her, and aside from some jealousy over mommy and/or daddy’s affections and attentions from time to time, life is good for two siblings.

Unfortunately for Dante, however, we’re continuing our quest to determine the cause of this never ending cough and swollen glands. The poor boy has had more than his fair share of coughs, fevers, and sore throats this winter. The hope that spring would bring relief, seems somewhat ellusive as well at this point. We’ve begun seeing an Ear-Nose-Throat Specialist in an effort to narrow down the allergy-asthma-something else debate… so… hopefully, we’ll have an update on that soon as well..

We covet your continued prayers as we head into the final stretch of the adoption and as we work with doctors to get the little guy some healthier days.

Another day, another load of laundry…

So, it was pointed out to us (thanks Greg) that we’re incredibly lax on the updates of late. Our apologies on that one. Somewhere in the middle of the daily life of searching for pacifiers, mixing bottles of formula, throwing yet another load of spewed on laundry in the washer, and generally collapsing in exhaustion when we finally get both kids settled in for the night, we forget that there is a world of people outside these four walls that care about us (apparently) and about knowing how we’re doing and how the adoption is going.

It really isn’t as bad as that paragraph makes it sound. We’ve just been through a rather hard week (which capped off a rather difficult month) in which we have been taking turns getting sick. The 24-hour bug hit us this past week… and this was after we have been struggling with various colds and stomach bugs from Dante for the past several months. Hopefully, the worst is now behind us and with spring coming and the ability to open up the house just around the corner, we’ll be able to defeat these germs.

As for the adoption: well, the petition for a court date is filed and now we continue to wait. Sometime in the next couple months we can expect a Thursday in court to mark the finalization of the adoption of our sweet little daughter. We don’t have a date yet, but when we get it, we’ll let you all know.

The little angel is now four months old and growing so fast. She rolled over for the first time last night all by herself. She has recently started exploring a world of flavors (I thought it was early too, but doc said go for it!), and seems to like bananas just fine, but the jury’s still out on carrots. Much to our surprise, it looks like she may be working on a tooth or two already. She’s drooling and chomping on her fist non-stop and she seems really bothered by random pain from time to time.

The kids are both great linguists already. The little man is using 4 and 5 syllable words with alarming regularity and recently read a Peanuts cartoon to Nana (with the word imagine in it and no hesitation –!–). He reads whatever he can get his hands on and lately has started making up his own words, telling me he is singing in various languages (including “gerpanese” which I can only assume to be a cross between Japanese and German). He is learning sign language and Spanish and one of his best friend’s mothers is from Ecuador so he loves listening to her talk. Zoë is babbling incessantly as well, and I can only assume that she is trying to keep up with her brother (and mother for that matter — poor daddy will never get a word in edgewise). She’s developing several new syllables in her vocabulary as well.

So, it looks like it’s a good thing that I’ve decided to take a month’s leave from work. A chance to work on the great “Burkholder Ultimate Reorganization Project” or “BURP” as Jeff calls it. 🙂 A chance to catch up on the things about life that I love — which includes my family and my creative sides… I just hope a month is enough time to catch up! 😀

–Nean

And so it goes…

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Zoë is 3 months old now. Growing like a… something nice that grows quickly. Smiling, cooing, and having fun interacting with us.

TPR hearing (Termination of Parental Rights) was last Thursday. All went well. The birth-parents have 30 days in which they could appeal the terminations by claiming they were in some way duped, coerced, or otherwise manipulated into signing their rights away. However, this is so unlikely to happen that it’s a mere formality for the most part. After those 30 days are up, we petition for a court date to finalize the adoption (which will then take about 2-3 months to set). So… we’re looking at early summer for finalization.

Today we met with her birth-parents for lunch. First time we met the father. It was a nice visit. A bit draining. Zoë was a bit over-stimulated and exhausted, so she was very fussy, but it was good to see them.

I’m wiped out. Enough for now.

Christmastime is here…

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night… Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part. 🙂 The Burkholder homestead got much crazier in the last several weeks. We three are now we four. 8+ hour nights of sleep are a thing of the past and now we’re thankful for 3-4 hours uninterrupted (which we occasionally get)!

Jeff is still at D&E Communications full-time (stats guy) and Hosanna part-time (artsy/techy guy). He’s insanely busy as usual, since in addition to his job and a half, he’s also doing his online comic strip (Zoidland, and if you haven’t checked it out, go now, we’ll wait until you return…) and has just reached his 200th strip. In the upcoming year, he’s planning a continuing story line for his characters and you won’t want to miss all the drama, suspense, and of course laughter at the insane humor that comes only from the mind of Jeff.

Nean is still working 10 hours a week at Hosanna (artsy/semi-techy/semi-admin) and is full-time mom and failed house-keeper (we all have our weaknesses, right?). She is still enjoying singing on the church’s worship team and scrap booking as her two main creative outlets!

Dante started Preschool this fall at Morning Star M, W, F mornings. He adores his teachers and is making tons of friends. Everywhere he goes, he is a charmer. He’s also started Wednesday evening Pioneer Clubs at church and asks every morning if it’s “Pioneer Day”. He is four years old and loves to learn anything new. He’s teaching himself to read and is constantly asking, “How do you spell…?” He’s quite proud to be the “big brother” but does occassionally inform me that it’s a tough job!

Zoë is the newest addition to our family. She is almost a month old and is still only about 5 1/2 pounds. She is a very happy little one and is normally content to study the world around her. She enjoys snuggling, eating, and sleeping! On the adoption front (since many of you are asking), it will take a few months to finalize the adoption and we’ll keep you posted on the process.

Sabine, our silly little feline, is as cranky as ever. She still prefers Jeff’s company to anyone else’s (and I suppose that is the understatement of the year to any of you who have been hissed/swatted at!)

We’re looking forward to seeing as many of our friends/family as we can this holiday. May you have peace, joy, love, and REST this Christmas season.

Love from all of us here in the Burkholder chaos… er… home!

The kids wish you a happy holiday too!