Friday, June 24, 2011

Buds Of Hope

Waiting for our rose bush to bloom

      I love roses.  I love the sweet smell.  I love the delicate petals.  I love the splash of color they add to our garden.  Each year when Spring arrives, I look forward to watching our rose bushes burst forth with new life and beautiful blooms.  This year, however, has been a test of patience.  First of all we had a cooler and wetter Spring than usual so everything is behind in growing (including our roses).  Secondly, we lost a few early blooms due to some hungry deer who thought our rose buds would make a tasty snack.  So here it is, middle of June, and we are still waiting for the first buds to open. 

     We water and fertilize the bushes.  We drag the pots out onto the sidewalk so they can soak up as much afternoon sun as possible.  We drag the pots back onto our patio at night to deter the deer.  We watch and we wait!  It would be tempting to give up and quit except for one thing- the buds!  The buds show that something is happening.  Some of the buds even show little glimpses of the colorful blooms to come.  The buds are the hope that the blooms we have been waiting for are not far behind. 
     It started me thinking about our adoption journey.  It too, has been a test of patience.  We don't know why we have waited so long.  We long for sweet baby gurgles and delicate little fingers and toes.  We long for stroller walks through the park.  We long for visits to see Grandma and Grandpa.  We long for the joy of parenthood and a long awaited prayer answered.  We long to have our baby home and in our arms.  And sometimes we wonder how much longer we will have to wait!
     I recently read a post from another waiting mom to be.  It was a post about giving up, losing hope, and wondering whether it was really worth it to continue the wait.  It was really sad.  Several members of the forum posted encouraging comments and I pray that she was able to regain her hope and continue on.  When life seems the darkest, that's when we need to cling even closer to God and the hope He has given us.

     Waiting isn't easy and Jim and I have had our dark days along the way.  But I am so thankful for the buds of hope that God so faithfully continues to send!   A song on the email from a friend...a sweet prayer offered on our behalf...a whisper to our hearts...these buds show us that something is happening, even if we can't see it!  New life is ready to burst forth not only in our garden, but also in our lives!  So we continue to watch and wait....and we are even more confident than ever before that our baby will be with us soon! 

       Wherever life finds you today, don't give up hope!
"And let us not be weary in well doing:  for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."  Galatians 6:9

Our roses are now blooming!  There are new blooms to enjoy everyday.  I couldn't resist adding a few pics to last weeks blog:)  As our garden grows and blooms, so does our hope that our baby is coming soon!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Lessons from Kung Fu Panda II

A giant panda for the nursery (but not a Kung Fu Fighter)

     Life lessons come from all around us.  We might have a truth whispered to our heart through a song on the radio.  We might gain wisdom from the loving words of a close friend.  We might see a lesson played out in front of us at the mall or on our job.  We may even find lessons in unexpected places such as a Pixar animated film about a panda bear named Po. 
     Jim and I recently went to watch "Kung Fu Panda II."  We expected to enjoy Pixar's great animation (and we did!).  We expected a good storyline and lots of laughs (We were not disappointed).  But we were also pleasantly surprised with an adoption story that although sprinkled with a big dose of Hollywood drama contained some very good lessons about adoption.
     I should mention here that if you haven't watched the movie and plan to, you may want to read the rest of this blog later (unless you are someone who likes to know the plot ahead of time!)  For those reading on, here are the lessons we were reminded of.  

Lesson #1:  Adoption and secrecy do not belong together.

     In the story, Po the Panda, is now an adult living his dream of being the Dragon Warrior and an integral member of the Furious Five Kung Fu Fighters.  During a battle he has a flashback that makes him question his identity.  He later asks his father, Mr. Ping the Goose, about his origin and finds out that he was adopted as a baby.  This sets off a mini identity crisis for Po and he becomes obsessed with finding out about his birthparents and why they "gave him up."  Although the movie treats this adoption discovery with some humor (Po the Panda is raised by a goose but never suspects he's adopted and is shocked by the news), it warns against keeping adoption a secret. 
     In the U.S., adoptions used to be closed- meaning the adoptive parents and birthparents never met and were only given minimal information about each other.  Adoptive parents were told to raise the baby "as their own" and not burden the child with the news of adoption until he or she were old enough to handle it (if ever).  Consequently, many children did not find out about their adoption until their teen or adult years.  Like Po, they were shocked and began to question their identity.  "Who am I?"  "Where did I come from?" "Why was I given up?"  Today, adoption practices are much more open.  Adoptive parents are encouraged to make adoption a natural part of their child's birth story.  Birthparents and adoptive parents often meet and many families stay in touch after the birth of the baby.  With open adoption, the child is able to hear the loving words of why they were placed for adoption (often from the birthmother).  This helps to minimize feelings of rejection and abandonment.  There are no secrets and the child benefits by feeling loved and secure and by having the freedom to ask questions.

Lesson # 2:  All children have the need to identify with their roots/heritage.
     Po asks the questions that all children ask at one time or another "Who am I?" and   "Where did I come from?"   This is a natural part of growing up, whether an adopted or biological child.  Who we look like, where we get our talents, why we act the way we do?  These are questions we consider while growing up and forming our identity.  When a child is denied that information, he or she will often "fill in the blanks" with fantasies that range from fairy tale to tragic.  In the movie, Po has a dream that he meets his biological parents and they have traded him in for a radish.  The radish then beats him up and Po awakes disturbed and feeling rejected.  Information about and contact with the birth family helps prevent the need to "fill in the blanks" with fantasies.  Truth helps to build a foundation of loving reality.   Even when the birth family chooses not to remain connected, adoptive parents can share what information they do have and reassure their child that he or she is loved and was not rejected.  Not all pain can be avoided.  Po's story is tragic.  His parents are presumed murdered and birthmother saves his life by hiding him in the radish crate.  But although the truth is painful, Po still benefits from knowing the story of where he came from and realizing he was not replaced with a radish. 

Lesson #3:  Adoptive parents are real parents (and so are birthparents)!

     The adoption language is not always "correct" in the movie, but the message is clear.  Po's birthparents are real parents.  They loved Po, gave him life, and made the best choice possible for him (to literally save his life).  Mr. Ping is a real parent.  He raises Po from a baby.  He feeds him, comforts him, teaches him and loves him.  Children can experience love from their birthparents and adoptive parents without being confused.  Open adoption acknowledges this love.  It is not shared parenting.  The adoptive parents are Mom and Dad.  In the movie, this concept is reinforced when Po returns from his conquests.  He tells Mr. Ping, "I am your son" and they go off to cook together.  Po benefits from the knowledge of his birthparents; loving sacrifice, but Mr. Ping is still his dad!

Huge Spoiler Alert!!!!!  In the very end of the movie, we see that Po's birthfather is still alive.  This may pave the way for a Kung Fu Panda III and more exploration of adoption themes!

     Jim and I really enjoyed this movie and it reinforced our committment to open adoption.  We look forward to celebrating our child's heritage and to many, many tellings of his or her birth story!  We are so excited about becoming parents and pray every day that our match will come soon!

Thursday, June 2, 2011


     Last week you heard my "When I was a kid..." stories.  This week it is Jim's turn to share some of his favorite childhood memories.  Again we promise no "walking to school through snow and sleet" references- just some of our favorite memories that we'd like to pass on to our child some day.  Enjoy! 

Jim at Easter when he was four years old

When I was a kid, I loved the outdoors...

     As a child, I spent hours each week hiking, exploring, bike riding and swimming.  If a tree was big, tall, or unusual, I probably climbed it.  Hemingway describes an old growth forest like a cathedral.  I experienced this often- the woods behind my home was truly a sanctuary for me.  From early ages I was refreshed by babbling brooks and mini waterfalls.  I am still refreshed by nature today.  Amy and I love to go hiking on one of the many trails near our home or take a drive up to Lake Tahoe for a mini escape.  I can't wait to pass on my love of nature to our child.  Sand, pine needles, and autumn leaves, I look forward to feeling these under my bare feet along with my child's small feet. 

When I was a kid, I loved holidays and family gatherings...

     When my brothers and sisters came home from college I always enjoyed spending time with them playing board games, watching movies, just sitting and talking for hours, no agenda, just family and friends spending quality time together.  I am the youngest of five children and was always fascinated by what my siblings (John, Peter, Heidi, and Becky) had to say about their lives away from home.  I still love to get together with family and friends on holidays.  Celebrations are always best when shared!  I look forward to celebrating with our child and introducing our child to as many friends and family as possible.

When I was a kid, our kitchen usually smelled like a baker's paradise...

     How many times did the aroma of fresh baked cinnamon rolls fill every room in our country home!  Strawberry rhubarb pie, pineapple upside down cake, peanut butter cookies (Man, I'm getting hungry!)-these are the smells I grew up with.  Mom was such a good cook.  If it could go in a casserole, she made it work.  And when she canned cherries or grape juice the smell coming from that kitchen was a thing of beauty.  Mom shared that love for good food with my siblings.  John and Peter have an appreciation of the finer things that years of being bachelors couldn't erase.  Both Heidi and Becky have become fantastic cooks in their own rights, this process began when they practiced on us all years ago!  And, of course, Amy is constantly making our apartment an inviting home by the love she puts into her creations.  Our child will be able to enjoy the sights, smells, and tastes of this paradise.

When I was a kid, I loved Christmas...

     Vibrantly colored gift wrapping dazzled my young eyes.  Life always seemed at peace whenever the tree was up, decorated with lights and our mismatched, but well loved ornaments.  Lights and scented candles were everywhere and mesmerized me year after year.  Hearing the story from Luke chapter 2 about a special  baby and His arrival brought joy to my world.  Giving of gifts and the enjoying of gifts given felt right in this happy context.  Christmas was a magical time and a time of togetherness.  How many board games did we wear out from use each Christmas!  How often I was warmed by hot chocolate and marshmallows after hours of sledding with friends or family on the hill across the street!

When I was a kid, I used to play sports with kids in the neighborhood...

     I can still remember every rut, hill, or mound on the field where we played.  Football, baseball, soccer- it didn't matter- the game was always fun.  Sometimes the neighborhood dogs would join in the play and new games would be created.  There was always a dirt path between my house and my neighbors and it was always well-worn!  As I got older, I traded the field for the basketball court, but I never lost my love of the game.  As a high-schooler I enjoyed volunteering as a soccer referee.  I look forward to refereeing, coaching, and/or cheering again someday when my child is playing.

When I was a kid, my dad taught me to garden...

     My dad always said the garden was the most naural place to feel close to God.  He showed me how to plant, fertilize, water, weed, maintain and finally harvest a sizeable vegetable garden.  I loved the smell of the tomato plants and the crisp pop of green beans fresh-picked.  One year I stood, overwhelmed by pride, as I saw several of my tomato plants towering over me- over six feet tall!  Money was tight in those days and I am sure we saved quite a bit by having a vegetable garden, but looking back I think my dad had other reasons.  Looking back I see not just a boy cultivating and growing a garden, but also a boy cultivated, raised, and shaped by his father's garden.  This is the legacy I ache to pass on to my child. 

When I was a kid, I learned to love music.  I had a growing hunger for knowledge.  I came to know God and began a relationship with God that has impacted all my other relationships for the rest of my life.  I learned to work hard, to play creatively and enthusiastically.  I learned not to be overly affected by what other people do to me, but to remember to "consider the source," as my dad used to say.  I loved to watch television, sometimes too much!  I enjoyed spending time with others and walking this journey of life together.  I really look forward to walking the road ahead with all the people in my life, and I look forward to a set of small feet coming with me on this road.