Counting our blessings…

So, it’s been a while since our last update… Life keeps marching on. We have turned in the second (or is this the third?) batch of paperwork for our adoption. This is the one where we had to prove we had wills, life insurance policies, etc. as well as answering all sorts of questions (pages in fact) on everything from parenting philosophy to personality to how we met each other and everything in between. We’re currently in the waiting process again — this time for our references to come back, so that we can schedule our interviews. And then, of course comes the visit in our home and — you guessed it — another batch of paperwork.

We’ve been celebrating with several friends though in the meantime: George and Holly had their first, Elia, on Jeff’s birthday in November. In the beginning of February came two more bundles of joy: Jeremy & Anita’s second, Tyler; and Peter and Brandi’s second, Elijah. Greg and Sara also just had their second, Grace, last Saturday (and are still waiting on finalization for Mathieu to come home from Haiti to live with them). Joel and Andi just received their referral for two little ones (a 2-year-old girl and an 8-month-old boy) from Ethiopia. Noah and Carol are expecting their first, Micah, in June. Ben and Rachel are getting married in June. So wow… as far as blessings go, we’re just counting and counting!

That’s about it for now. I think it’s time to go and feed the boys!

–Nean

The Further Mediocre Adventures of Us!

The questions of, “So, where are you in this whole adoption process thing?” have been ramping up of late, and I realize it’s been a while since our last post. So, here’s where we’re at:

Filling out forms, answering questionnaires.

“But wait,” I hear you say, “Isn’t that where you were a month ago? Doesn’t that mean that things are going really, glacially, astonishingly slowly?”

Yes. Yes, that’s what it means. Things are going ridiculously slowly. And the main culprit of that is our own, gonzo-crazy schedule. But, we’re making headway (slow as it is), so there’s light at the end of the tunnel. It’s just a very, very long tunnel. 🙂

Also, I discovered the meaning of the phrase, “comment spam,” as I’ve gotten about two dozen comments on the blog of late from people offering pictures of Egyptian lotus flowers that go to websites that have names like, “pharmacheap.com”. I may need to restrict the way comments are registered, just so I’m not forever having to delete things like that. Shouldn’t be too much of a hardship on you, the actual readers of the site. Please don’t let any changes prevent you from posting! I like reading them and pretending I have a social life…

–Jeff

MLK

Sorry about the lack of new toon on the un-suffixed version of the site. Had a busy weekend. Actually finally working on creating a cast page. Something that I started doing back in, oh, 2004 or so, but just never followed through.

Main reason for this post (and the title) was that yesterday was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. And I did something I’ve never done before: I listened to the entirety of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Inspiring stuff, I tell you. Dr. King was a gifted orator, a magnificent visionary, and while the world has continued since, it has been made incomprehensibly worse-off by the loss of his voice.

God bless you, Dr. King.

…and continues…

I don’t know about eloquence, but I’ll give it a shot…

After about three weeks or so of digging out this or that old tax form, lining up our references, and taking general inventory of our lives, we are proud to announce that our formal application is now complete. This morning, Dante and I took a drive out to Bethany to personally deliver it (with a couple of our required reading books) to the office. What a sense of accomplishment!

So, now, we wait (this whole process is a lot of “hurry up and wait” from the sounds of things). Wait to hear that our application has been accepted. Wait for the next batch of forms to be mailed to us to fill out even more questions (hope they don’t take as long as the application). And wait for those of you who were gracious enough to agree to be our references to receive your forms and get them sent back in for us. And then we wait some more. And so it goes.

And in the waiting, I’m thanking God for the beautiful son I have and for my wonderful husband. I’m enjoying the moments I have to spend with them — our last chance to be the three Burkholders. As we anticipate the next child in our family, I am realizing that (once again) our life is going to change irrevocably. And I thank God for this blessing that we have.

–Nean

…And so, it begins!

Well, this is it. The point of no return. On this day we have finally, at long last, turned in our formal application to become adoptive parents!

Now? We wait.

And wait.

Honestly, I’m not completely certain what happens at this point. Except for the waiting. I know that’s gonna be a major part of our lives for the foreseeable future. But beyond that, I’m really not sure. I do know that we’re in for an interesting time. 🙂

Really not feeling very talkative at this point (long day). Nean’s got a few more details, so I think I’ll let her exercise some eloquence of her own.

–Jeff

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.

–Nean

Christmas Hijinks

So, Friday was Dante’s birthday, and given that he just turned three, he didn’t really have that lengthy of a wish list. Pretty much the only thing he specifically asked for was to go to Isaac’s for supper. Love that kid. 😉 Anyway, as we’re packing him into the car to head back home after supper, he announces that, “Now, we go home, put on our pajamas, and get ready for Christmas!” Cute, huh?

We decided on Saturday to follow through with that: The get ready for Christmas part, specifically. We ran out to Wal-Mart to pick up a new artificial tree, since we chucked our old, mangy one last year. After a brief flirtation with a pre-lit (and over-priced!) tree, we decided to go with a regular one, which was half the price, and after all, “We have all those lights at home, anyway.” We bring it back home, put Dante down for a nap, and start to move furniture around in the living room to accommodate the new tannenbaum.

That’s when we discover the wall behind our Futon was starting to fall apart. Old, painted-over wallpaper was peeling away from the mildewed plaster. A quick visit from my mom (quick house-repairer extraordinaire!), a bucket o’ bleach, and a tub of ready-to-use spackle later, and we’ve got the wall fixed, and the tree is on its way to being set up.

After completion of the tree, we rifle through the boxes of decorations looking for the lights. A brief exchange follows:

“I can’t find the lights!”
“Um…You sure you brought all the decoration boxes down from the attic?”
“They were the only ones there!”
(insert attic rummage here)
“I can’t find the lights!”
“Told you.”

It’s at this point that we recall that we chucked the lights (read: half-burned out, tangled-up messes of wires and broken hard plastic bulbs) in addition to the tree last year. (sigh) The upside is that this led us to purchasing these nifty new LED lights that are brighter than fabled direction-pointing stars, have the life expectancy of a twinkie crossed with a cockroach, and I think if they pushed just a little bit harder in the R&D department, could actually generate electricity on their own. When these puppies turn on, you can’t help but stand there and go, “Ooooh!” Of course, part of that may be a bad reaction to the eggnog you just quaffed, but you need to take that up on your own with your stomach.

So, as you’re decorating your own domiciles this holiday season… Um, I really wanted to wrap this up with a nifty, pithy saying that would be quoted on the blogosphere for decades to come, but I got nothing. Sorry. Uh, Merry Christmas?

–Jeff

Updates? We don’t need no steenkin’ updates!

So, I can’t tell you how many times people have come up to me and said, “Hey, you guys haven’t said anything on your blog about the adoption lately.”

Well, actually I can tell you how many times people have come up to me and said that. It’s zero. I just don’t really want to, because it makes me look emotionally needy. And I’ve heard that emotional neediness is bad for the image. Does this emotion make me look fat?

Anyway, things are progressing quite … glacially … at this point. Nean & I are still reading up on the pleasures and pitfalls of adoption. And we’re starting to stress out about what needs to be fixed around the house and whether or not we need to do it before the home study. One happy thing that kinda dropped in our laps was the fact that Sesame Street this week was doing a storyline where Gina, the veterinarian on the ‘street, went to Guatemala to adopt a baby. This very nicely helped Dante to understand the situation. In his words, “Oh! Marco’s adopted and Gina’s his mommy!” ‘Twas a good moment.

So, yeah, not much else to say. I’m sure we’ll have more news after December 11, which is when we have our class at the agency. Stay tuned.

–Jeff

Adoption 101

I think it’s my turn to weigh in here–particularly with some more information on the adoption. For some of you reading this, our adoption news seems sudden and perhaps a bit impulsive. So let me explain a bit. Jeff and I both have adoption in our families and, therefore, adoption always seemed natural to us. We have discussed this option since before we were even married, and have looked into it at different times in our married life with varied levels of seriousness. Up until this point, however, there always seemed to be a sense of, “Now is not the right time.”

God has blessed us in so many ways. We have an incredible network of supportive family and friends and a nice home. We also have a beautiful son, Dante, who is a source of endless delight! With so many children out there in need of good homes, we feel that we have so much to offer — but also so much to gain from the child that God chooses to bless us with. While we may or may not be finished having birth-children of our own, we really feel that now is the time to pursue adoption more seriously.

We appreciate your prayer and support in this process. We have chosen to work with Bethany Christian Services, particularly with the Domestic Adoption program (which means we are looking at receiving an infant born here in the states). We will begin with a full-day class in December followed by a “home study” (which we’ll fill you in on as we have more details) and then it could take a year or more until a child actually comes to live in our home.

Because adoption costs literally thousands of dollars (between court fees, medical expenses, and counseling support for those involved), we will be setting up an account designated for our “adoption fund”. We’re not asking you to contribute unless you want to, but we wanted to let you know that we would find any donations to this fund to be a great gift to our family!

Please feel free to ask any questions you may have along the way. We will answer them the best we can. I’m sure we’ll have plenty of our own questions along the way too!

–Nean