Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Integrity in Adoption -- Your Opinion Wanted!

So recently, Jason and I were informed of a possible way to adopt sooner rather than later, apparently less expensive, presumably easier, etc. The only catch is the agency is located in Georgia, and we would have to set up a residence in that state... We were told we could find a house to rent for pretty cheap, make it appear that we lived there, spend a few weekends there a month, at least until the adoption was completed. And that apparently happens darn fast, too.
Now go back to high school softball days... When it was suggested that if you wanted to transfer to a different school and not have to sit out a year because of districting and all, you could just use the address of a relative or friend, and spend the night with that person occassionally.
There can be lots of integrity issues in adoption... And life in general... Especially with international adoption, where there's a paper-thin line between when-in-Rome, and retaining your integrity and not making it harder for the couples who adopt after you go back home. If I say I live in Georgia, but my job, "real" house, church, friends, and LIFE are all in Alabama, have I compromised my integrity?
What about.....
***The family who really does live in GA that the birth mother might have chosen, had I not been there?
***The birth mother who thinks I live in GA, who might have wanted to be nearer to her child. Maybe she couldn't travel to AL, but would have been close enough to visit in GA?
***The people who adopt after us, who might have to try harder to prove they really DO live in GA full-time, because the gov't decides setting up a temporary residence is unacceptable?
***The person who doesn't know Jesus, and wonders why I call myself a Christian, but purposely do something that could compromise my integrity? Or the person who IS a Christian, and justifies their own compromising, because they saw me do something similar?
***My very own self, for going ahead with something I feel in my heart is not exactly kosher?
***My (currently hypothetical) child?
***Anyone/anything I'm leaving out that you think of?
Thus far, I've basically given my/our opinions and told you what we're planning.* But this time, I want your opinion! Would this whole scenario be an issue if integrity? Why do you agree or disagree?
*Even if we don't ask for your opinions, feel free to comment anytime or any post.... We like to know who's here! ;)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Contact your legislators!!!

I contacted Robert Aderholt today -- the first time I've ever sent an email (or anything, for that matter) to any political-type person. Here's why.
The current Adoption tax Credit, put in place by Bush, expires in 2010. Basically, in the year your adoption is completed (for international adoption) {for domestic, I think you can claim expenses as they occur}, you can list all adoption expenses and get a tax credit. You can carry the credit over for up to 5 years. It won't completely pay for adoption, but it definitely helps, and it's the only way some people can afford to adopt*. So contact your representatives and ask them to support the Adoption Tax Credit bill!!!

*Disclaimer: If God calls you to adopt(or do anything else), He will provide a way for that to happen. I would like the tax credit to be extended to infinity, but if it is not, I know that God will provide another way.

What are you waiting on? Go! Shoot that email! Thanks for helping! :)

Saturday, April 18, 2009


So I promised some substance for this time.
Long ago, before Jason and I were even engaged, I began researching international adoption. All of the details about why and how all of this came about are a little fuzzy, but I was working at Shocco at the time. Somehow I wandered over to the Student Life website, and found where Randy and Valerie Hall were hosting orphans in their home, sent Valerie an email, and before I knew it, Jason and I were headed to play with some orphans from Ukraine. We went to the airport to meet them, and oh my heart. One evening, Jason and I headed to the Hall's house. We wandered around, trying to talk to several kids, and eventually saw a little boy hanging out on a hammock by himself. We "talked" to him, as much as 3 people speaking 2 languages can talk, before this little boy named Denis was to go shopping with a group. While he was gone, we played with some of the others, including "Little Sergey," who was born with a very fragile skin condition. Such a bright, happy little boy, who dealt with so much pain. Just a little friction on his skin caused blisters, but he was so happy with his Dollar Tree toys. When his handcuffs broke, he just shrugged his little shoulders, threw down the broken part, and continued to play. Later on, he asked for an orange, asked me to peel it, ate part of it, then shared the rest with me. Nothing could keep this little boy down, no matter what kind of crap came his way, he was smiling and happy and had such a giving spirit.
Denis comes back from his Dollar Tree trip, obviously thrilled with his purchases. I won't get on my soapbox about how much these kids appreciate cheap toys, compared to how so many of us do NOT take good care of our expensive toys and are always looking for the newest, best available, when we have so much already.... So Denis takes us to a sun room that has been converted into a bedroom for a while, and we sit down and start to play with his Nerf basketball . A lady comes in a little later, introduces herself as Valerie's neighbor, and says "I just wanted y'all to know what a God-thing it is that y'all came TONIGHT and are playing with Denis TONIGHT... Denis hasn't received as much attention as some of the other kids, and just today he was upset and telling the translator, 'I good boy, I need mama... Why no mama for me? I good boy'.... So I just wanted y'all to know how much it means that God has sent you here tonight." We both fell in love with this little boy! He was playing with Jason's hat, so Jason gave it to him before we left. Denis gave us a bracelet that he had been given... WOW... A little boy who has NOTHING, is giving ME, who has more than I need, something that he was given... It'll make ya think. Over the next year, we wrote each other letters. Denis came back again the summer that Jason and I were not together, but I still went back down and hung out with the orphans again. I said good-bye to him, knowing that would possibly be the last time I would ever see him. I prayed for Denis... For him to be safe, for a family to want him, for him to grow into a successful man if he was not adopted. I asked so many people if they were interested in adopting Denis, but nobody was ready. It broke my heart that a boy with so much potential was likely to be a street kid in just a matter of years.
Some time ago, I found a blog of a family who was in Ukraine... In Kiev... Trying to adopt a boy from Orphanage 21, which is where Denis had been. The more I read, the more connections I found. They were working with the same translator who came with the Kiev group to B'ham. I thought eh, what the heck, I'll leave these people a comment and see if they can ask Zhenia (translator) if he knows where Denis is, if he's doing okay, etc. I get an email reply from the dad, saying that he can do better than that, DENIS IS STANDING IN HIS APARTMENT AS HE READ MY NOTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! In a city of millions of people, this one little boy kept showing up at this one particular apartment. The dad kept saying "Okay God, I know You have a reason for Denis to keep showing up like this, so what's the deal?" It was so comforting to know that God had answered my prayers. Denis was in a trade school, doing well, and oh my, how tall he is now!! Jason and I were able to buy some things for the mom to take back with her to Ukraine for Denis. Isn't it amazing how God takes care of us? The family did tell me that Denis is one of the kids who CAN make it. He wants to become a banker. He has a long way to go, but I still hope and pray that he's going to be okay.
See, orphans in Ukraine, like many countries, are seen as second-rate (or third, or fourth) citizens. I used to know all of the specific statistics, but suffice it to say there is a better chance an orphan boy will end up in prison or committing suicide, and a girl in prostitution, just to survive. These are not necessarily bad kids; they are kids who do whatever is necessary just to survive. When they are 15-16 years old, they are given what amounts to some change, and basically kicked out. Some go to trade schools, and can live in a college-type dorm. A lot end up on the street. There's not much help available.... And how many 16-year-old kids do you know who can make it own their own?? An 80% chance of not making it for whatever reason, is not a good chance. This is one reason I have looked into international adoption so heavily. Is the US system perfect? Not by far. Do some kids, or even a lot of kids, manage to fall through the cracks? Definitely. But there are so many more options in America. It absolutely takes hard work and determination, and there are set-backs and bad things going on, but it is so much easier to "make it" in America. An orphan in so many other countries stand almost zero chance of becoming a productive adult. Think about your child.... Would you want to see your baby end up as an inmate or a prostitute?
We are instructed in so many places in the Bible to care for orphans. (A post in and if itself, coming soon) The biggest way to impact the life of individual orphans is to adopt. Orphan care is such a huge ministry, though, and adoption is only one way. Sponsoring a child through a non-profit, sending donations to Children's Homes, maybe even volunteering your time or talents. You've probably heard the story of the starfish... How the kid was picking them up one-by-one on the beach and throwing them back in the water, an adult comes along and makes some comment about not being able to make a difference.... And the child says "It mattered to THAT one!!!" Maybe my childhood dreams of finding a home for all the orphans in the world won't work out.... But it will make a lifetime of difference for at least a few. What difference are YOU willing to make?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Once a week is going great, huh? ;)

Okay, I originally thought I would start out posting once a week, until I had more news to share. Sunday nights were great nights for posting. Then this past Sunday I woke up with a migraine that would NOT go away! I refuse to stay home, no matter how bad it is, but once we got in Sunday night, I hit the bed. This is our busy time at work. I've had random "stuff" to do every night this week, and this weekend isn't slowing down any either! (Confession: I would have been home Tuesday night, but how do you turn down Rhonda's chocolate Amish friendship bread, and Alex wanting his "Sessa", and good talking time with my favorite sister-in-law?)
Cut to the chase: I don't have any of the things I promised in the last post. I do have a couple of small updates though. Bro. Tom told Jason and I about a meeting by the A*labama B*aptist Children*s H0me, for potential foster parents. So we went. We're not completely ready to say "yes," but we're kicking around the idea. This is one of those things I said I would NEVER EVER do, but we'll see. There's a 10-week class we would eventually have to take anyway (if we adopt domestically), so we're considering taking the class to see if we want to go further.
We also have been told about a couple who adopted verrrrry quickly through an agency in Georgia. We don't really know a lot more about that, but someone is supposed to be checking on it when they see that couple again.
So. There ya go. Sorry for the lack of profound thoughts, but all of my brain power has been devoted to mental health drug packaging this week! ;) Hope to be back to "normal" next week!