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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmastime in India

     I've been a major slacker in keeping everyone informed of all the latest adoption news.  I really hate blog posts that are nothing but words, and blah blah blah, more delays, boring, boring, tear, sniffle.  I want to be posting pictures and videos of my adorable boy and all the fun things we're doing together and the progress he's making and how I'm the luckiest mom in the world.  But, the sad truth is that's not where we are yet. 

     I do have some super, happy, exciting, pinch me cause I'm dreaming kind of news, though!
Chris and I are leaving for India on December 26th, and we will meet Holden for the very first time on December 28th!!!  We will only have two days to spend with him before returning home, but we're determined to make the most of those two days together. 

     This super happy news does not at all correspond with progress on the adoption bureaucracy front.  We've had two court dates so far (I think just two... I'm losing track because frankly, I just don't really care anymore.  Until they tell me some real news, they can have a court date every day of the week for all I care.)  We have another date scheduled for December 14th, but apparently, our agency already knows that the verbal order from the judge (you know, the one that finalizes the adoption and is basically the last big thing we're waiting for.... that ORDER) will not happen until after the New Year.  After we get the verbal order, we have to wait for a written order (because for some reason, it's not possible to talk and write at the same time....?) and THEN... it will be about two months to get Holden's passport.  Once we have his passport, it's GO TIME!!  Then we can schedule our trip to bring him home for good. 

     So... all that to say, the timeframe to bring Holden home has moved to March at the very earliest, likely April, and to be honest, as long as we bring him home before his third birthday in October, I'll be thrilled. 

     All of these delays are as we expected, so we're mostly taking them in stride.  I no longer wait on the edge of my seat the day after a court date.  I just go about my day and if we get good news, we get good news.  If not, I'm not gonna sweat it because there's absolutely nothing I can do about it.  There are two other families adopting little ones from the same orphanage, and they are on the exact same timeline as us.  Court date after court date.  In a sense it's kind of reassuring to know we're not the only ones playing this waiting game.  At least they're not looking at all of our info going, "I don't  know about these two.... maybe they're not cut out for this...."  It's just the typical India adoption process. 

     So why the December trip?  The December trip is really just an extra. bonus trip so that Chris can meet his little boy before he goes on an extended cruise vacation in the tropics :)   That's right, it's gonna be all swim trunks and flippy floppies!  I'm so jealous....
     (I'm joking, in case you didn't get that last part...  I did have a guy on the phone ask me recently, "Ohhh, your husband's a pilot? What does he fly?  I mean, do you know what he flies?" 
"No, dude, I'm such a blithering idiot I have no idea what aircraft my husband flies every day... I mean, who cares as long as he looks cute in his flight suit and I can get a manicure and my "hair did" every  month.....  SERIOUSLY, dude?  seriously?!"
     We now know with confidence that I will be bringing Holden home by myself and swinging it single mom style for a while.  We knew this could be a very real possibility.  It's cool.  We got this.  No biggie.  Military wives do this every day.  (I know, we're pretty tough and awesome like that.  Ok, not me, I really haven't proven myself yet, but I'm determined to make it out alive and be a stronger person for it.)  Our agency and Holden's orphanage have been so kind to help us schedule this extra trip.  We will be forever grateful for this.  My work has also been incredibly kind in giving me an abundance of time off of work so we can make this trip happen and I can spend some much needed time with Chris before he leaves for vacation :)  And, I have to mention Chris' work here too.  Really, they approved a last minute trip to India when the squadron is so incredibly busy?!  Chris works with a group of amazing men.  Really, we're so blessed to be part of our squadron.  Also, I should mention that I'm not actually bringing Holden home completely by myself.  My incredibly awesome Dad, who is already the best grandpa in the world to five other little kiddos, will be coming with me on this final trip to India to bring Holden home.  Also, as a military wife, you never really have to raise your kids "by yourself".  I have some amazing, dear friends who are like family to me, and we'll all be getting through deployments together.  Don't cry for me, guys.  I'll be crying enough on my own. You've got to be the ones shaking me, saying, "Pull it together, woman!  You are a MOM now!!!"

     In other disappointing news.  Until we have the verbal order from the judge, we can't post Holden's pics and videos on this blog or on facebook.  So if you're my buddy, I'll be sending you an email with pics and videos from the trip, but nothing will be posted online until sometime after the New Year.  I know... major suckage... I'm pretty bummed about this, but we're so close, I don't want to do anything to mess things up. 

     That's all the news for now.  I'm sure I'll have a lot more to say in 17 days!!!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Happy Birthday, Holden!

Today (October 26th) in India our darling boy turns two years old.  We are thrilled to celebrate his life and everything that he is!  We are really heartbroken that we cannot be in India to celebrate with him. 

Throughout this whole adoption process, I feel like I've done a pretty decent job of rolling with the punches, not letting expectations disappoint me, and not getting super emotional over every delay and setback.  I chalk this up to my life as a military wife.  The unpredictable schedules, ever-shifting timelines, and often-absent husband have all prepared me for the rollercoaster that is adoption.  Holden's approaching birthday has been a completely different story.  My heart has been aching for the past several weeks.  All of a sudden I'll burst into tears for no apparent reason.  I feel like the worst mother in the entire world.  What kind of mother misses her little boy's birthday?  What kind of mother can't express to her son how valued, precious, and irreplaceable he is?  The weeks leading up to Holden's birthday have been a grieving process -- grieving the two years of life that I've missed with my precious boy.  I can't ever get those years back.  When Holden asks where we were for his first two years, there will be sadness and heartache involved in that story.  There is sadness and heartache involved in every adoption story.  While we plan on never missing another birthday of Holden's again and making each year a joyful celebration, birthdays for adoptees are often difficult and filled with mixed emotions.  Holden will wonder about his birthparents and what they're doing on his special day.  He'll wonder if they're thinking of him, missing him, and loving him.  Birthdays will be filled with questions and grieving a loss -- the loss of his birthparents.  We cannot fix or ignore this.  But we can love him with everything we have, listen with our hearts, and do our best to provide Holden with whatever it is he needs.  Most of all, I hope that on his birthday, Holden knows deep within his heart of hearts how truly special and magnificent he is, and how completely and fully he is loved. 

Over the past few months, as I have watched other families transition into the post-adoption stage I have realized how very stressful and difficult the first year home can be for everyone.  I know there will be moments in my future when I will wistfully remember the life I have now-- a life of quiet, and freedom, and not worrying about a tiny person's every need.  In those moments, I want to remember where I came from.  I want to remember that the life I have now is marked with a little hole that I'm desperate to fill.  The life I have now is hope deferred for a future date when I can finally carry out part of God's calling for my life.  When things get tough as Holden's mom, I want to remember the journey.  I want to remember how desperately we wanted him and how thoroughly convinced we are that the three of us are meant to be a family.  Our first year home with Holden will certainly be difficult, but it will be good.  It will be a blessing, and I resolve now to be thankful for every single moment I'll get to have with Holden. 

With that in mind, I wrote a gift for my son so that I wouldn't forget this year of waiting for him. 

For Holden

When your scream shatters every peaceful moment
I will remember
                        how I longed
To hear a million little toddler sounds
Filling the hollow silence that was always in this house

When you invade every closed-up cabinet and unsafe space
I will remember
                        how I longed
To teach you about this fantastic world we live in
How I wanted your soul to be one big question mark of wonder

When your hand reaches out with a calculated slap
I will remember
                         how I longed
To hold those little hands
To feel their feathery weight against mine

When you smash your toys and wreck your room
I will remember
                         how I longed
To watch you wander through dreamed-up worlds
To see you scratch and scuff the universe with your endless imagination

When your voice knows only one word, “NO”
I will remember
                        how I longed
To hear the sweet sound of that precious voice              
To know its symphony above all others

When nights are filled with terror and sadness and toddler thrashes
I will remember
                        how I longed
To hold you close and calm your fears
To know you were right beside me, safe and secure, thrashing and all

When your awkward, eager hands destroy a beloved object
I will remember
                        how I longed
To mend your broken, homesick heart       
To give up everything I had to be your mother

When my world is a chaotic, unending, maddening whirlwind of toddler disaster,
I will remember
                           how much I longed
                                                           for you.

How desperately I wanted you. 

How infinitely I love you.

How lost my world is without you.

A very special thanks to my amazing sister-in-law, Abby for her editing help and mad English skills!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

NOC, 1-2-3, Baby You and Me, Boy!

Guess what we got today?!?!

A little piece of paper with 3 beautiful letters on it:

Gus is so excited that he decided to throw an animal party! 

Cool it, Gus.  I know this is great news but that doesn't mean you need to go streaking around the neighborhood peeing on everything.  Geesh, try to keep it classy. 

So India's Central Adoption Resource Authority has issued their "Non-Objection Certificate", or NOC.  In other words, Holden's orphanage can now file his case with the court in Bangalore.  All we do is wait for a court date in India!  We could find out any day about a date and have 3 weeks notice to travel to India and appear before a judge and have him finalize our adoption of Holden... oh yeah, and MEET HOLDEN!!  After the court date,  it's a solid 60 days, and then Holden comes home for good. 

We are so close I can taste it!  Yes, a judge in Bangalore could, of course, choose to sit on the case for a few months before deciding on a date.  He could do that.  He could also murder puppies and push kids off swings and steal purses from old ladies.  OR...he could be a nice person who realizes it's in Holden's best interests to get this thing going and bring him home.  We'll see what happens.  We're certainly praying for a nice judge who loves kids and loves adoption and wants to get Holden home!  We hope you'll pray with us for this.

In other fun and just as exciting news, we got an update on Holden today with some new pictures taken just a week or two ago, I think.  He has gained almost two pounds and is doing great!  He's getting better at balancing on his knees and somehow, he's able to pull himself onto the couch from his knees and down again.  He's got some strong little arms!  He's wearing lower leg braces in some of his photos and doesn't seem too happy about this!  I know he'll need those if he has any chance of standing or scooting along with a walker.  He also wears special shoes, the report says.  I'm guessing to help continue to correct his club feet that still like to turn inwards?  Overall, he still seems to be happy and doing well with his foster family.  I just cannot wait until I can meet him in person for the court date visit.  I have dreamed about that day for so long.  We love our little boy so much already, and we can't wait to bring him home and spend every day loving him.  It's going to be a tough adjustment for everyone, but we're READY.  BRING IT ON!!! 

Now, I gotta go wrangle that dog.  He's smashing beer bottles against the wall.  This is getting out of control.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Beloved, Boisterous, Boy Blanket

     Last week, my most favorite package ever arrived.  Ok... maybe it's tied with the package my mom sent last year on Chris and mine's anniversary that was our wedding invitation matted beautifully and placed in a gorgeous frame.  These two packages are now tied for first place.  (Although that juicer, Mom, has definitely gotten a lot of use in the 6 weeks that I've had it!)  Aren't moms the best?  They have a knack for knowing what you need... Unfortunately, I'm the type of person who will trudge through the inconvenience of make-shift and half-broken kitchen tools for YEARS before I take the effort to buy what I really need.  It took me a YEAR to discover that garlic presses existed instead of painstakingly mincing each little garlic clove 3 times a week!  THEN... it took me another 3 years to realize... fresh garlic really does not taste that much better than the pre-minced garlic in a jar that I can buy at Walmart.  That's right...I no longer use fresh garlic in my recipes.  Those of you who just sucked in a shocked breath of air... are no longer invited to dinner at my house.  YOU deal with stinky garlic hands for days, and then we'll talk. 
     But I digress (what?  me?  never!).  Last week, Holden's toddler blanket arrived in the mail!  The idea of his blanket has been spinning around in my head for months now.  I started out in May knowing only that I did NOT want a toddler bedding set from Babies R Us or Target or anywhere.  I did NOT want a bedding set...  I hunted through all of them and realized that the designers who are currently designing toddler bedding make me want to vomit.  If you currently have a toddler bedding set in your house, and you invite me over, I promise to keep my vomit down.  (I know, I'm very considerate that way.)  Overall, I am NOT a fan of room sets, bedding sets, or anything that says, "let's pick one theme and painstakingly match and repeat it throughout the room so that your head will spin!  If you're a fan of such things, I still like you.  I'm sure you're a wonderful person.  I just don't like your decorating style.  I'm not going to punch you in the face over it, I'll just punch you in my head.  You'd probably say the same thing about my decorating style, so we're even. 
     Knowing that I wanted something unique and non-cheesy, I turned to etsy to find a suitable toddler blanket.  Etsy is pretty much where I always turn if I want to find something unique and special.  If you don't know about etsy... umm, where have you BEEN?!  Etsy is a magical fairyland of original, handmade items and fabulous vintage finds.  I stumbled across this shop:  SirBubbadoo
Unfortunately, she's on vacation right now (hmmm... she went on vacation right after she made Holden's blanket... was I too much work?!...naaaah).  Anyways, you can check out some of her products by looking at her Sold Items.  Doesn't she have the brightest, most cheerful, and modern stuff?  I love it!  I also love her shop name.  SirBubbadoo is her little boy's nickname.  How cute is that?!  She also calls him The Bub, and King Bub.  I love it.  Chris' nickname from his family is actually Bub, or Bubby.  (Uh oh... I wasn't supposed to announce that to the world, was I?)  His sisters and parents still call him Bub sometimes.  I think it's so sweet.  Kristina, the shop owner, also has a Blog where she's always sharing new projects she's working on.  Look here for some of her other custom quilt projects.  Oh wait... not yet!  Holden's quilt takes up the first two entries... Check it out!

Wait for it....

Wait for it...

Just wait a minute...

Patience is a virtue...

Ta Da! 

     So these pictures really do not do this quilt justice.  The colors and patterns are just gorgeous in person!  It's hard to capture how great it is on camera.  (Or maybe it's just hard for someone with absolutely zero photography skills... sigh...)
     Also, Chris didn't get home until it was dark out, so the picture of him holding the quilt uses indoor, artificial lighting. (gasp!) It was the best we could do. 
     Look at the soft minky Kristina used on the back side of the quilt.  I love it!  Holden is going to be snuggling up with this blanket for a long time.  I realize he won't be in a toddler-sized bed forever, but still, this blanket will be perfect for trips away and movie nights on the couch.  Even when he decides it's too immature for his little grown-up eight year-old self, I will seal it away in a zip loc and capture his sweet preschool scent forever.  When he is embarassed at my mere presence in the world and thinks he has lost all use for me, I will sneak away and smell this blanket, and remember a time when I was one of his heros -- when he wanted to do everything I was doing, and he couldn't survive one day without me. 

     Let me say a few more things about this quilt.  Kristina at SirBubbadoo is a genius with fabrics.  I came to her, thinking I'd just pick one cute patterned fabric and have her make a solid blanket for me.  She immediately had a ton of ideas to offer just in case I wanted something a bit different.  She gave me loads of pictures and examples, and then, when I picked a fabric I really loved -- the bright elephants in a row -- she miraculously paired it with the most beautiful, brightly-colored, cheerfully-patterned fabrics to go with it.  I looked at her selection and thought, "how did you read my mind?!"  Kristina is so fun to work with because she LOVES what she does.  She gets super excited about new ideas and she is so committed to making sure her customers are happy with the finished product.  She really listens, but not only that, she's the perfect guide to help you figure out what you really want.  I will definitely go back to SirBubbadoo for any other special children's blankets I might need.  If you're looking for something unique and special, please check her out.  You will not be disappointed! 
     I can't wait to get Holden's room finished and see this blanket in its place of glory on Holden's toddler bed.  Speaking of Holden's room, our big hold-up has been Chris building built-in bookshelves and a window seat.  He is doing an amazing job!  When your work takes you out of town or takes up 14 hours a day... that doesn't really leave a lot of time to work on projects at home.  Thankfully, Chris is mostly home for the next 6 weeks, so hopefully we'll have a finished room to show you by Septemberish?  Until then, I'm going to be doing some sneak peaks of items we're using in his room.  Stay tuned... it's going to be fun!
     Now go smell your toddler, and appreciate how much they need you at this time in their lives.  Someday, you will miss how much your children used to need you.... (These are wise words from all the wise mothers I know.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Once Upon A Time, I Had a Lovely Toddler Shower

     Ten days ago, some dear and lovely ladies, and one special person in particular, put on the most wonderful toddler shower to celebrate Holden.  I smile every time I think about it.  I just can't get over how honored I felt that these women came together to celebrate my precious little boy.  Even more surprising is the fact that although none of us have a definite date on when he might come home, they wanted to celebrate him nevertheless. 

    If you keep reading, you'll discover that we are one glorious step closer to bringing him home.  More on that later...

FIRST, I have to tell you about this splendid shower.
  I walked in to Christina's house, and it smelled magnificent.  She made Indian food!  I know, RIGHT?!  I can't believe she would take the time and effort to plan an Indian menu to honor Holden.  Indian food is not easy to make, believe me, I've tried!  I've got to get her chicken curry and lentil curry recipes, because they were DELICIOUS!  She also had a coconut-lime drink that was to-die-for, and Lisa brought key lime pie dessert cups - they were so cute and yummy! 
     Plus also, one advantage to adopting is that you can still have alcohol... just sayin'... it's a nice little bonus when you're at an event and the hostess makes the most delicious mixed drink on the planet.  I'm not an alkie or anything, but it's nice to have a little thing or two to rub in the faces of those ladies who have actual due dates for their babies...(jealous much?  naaaahh, not me!)...I mean... I still have normal-sized, non-puffy size 6 feet, so... who can complain about an elephant-length gestation with those little perks?  (FYI: an elephant's gestation is 22 months.  Chris and I applied to adopt with Holt in November of 2010.  So bringing Holden home in September would equal an elephant's gestation... looks like we're giving birth to an extremely overdue, ginormous elephant baby then!) 
      Back to the shower, which was amazing, and also included among its guests, one aforementioned pregnant lady with a due date coming very soon... so excited for you Jackie!  Also, I'm very impressed that you made it through an afternoon of Indian smells.  That takes skill when you're pregnant! 

     When I turned around, I saw this hanging from the mantle:

     Is this not the most adorable pennant you've ever seen?!  The vibrant colors will go perfectly with Holden's brightly colored room... can't wait to finish the room so I can really show this pennant off.  I love the pennant trend that's been going strong for a while now.  Pennants scream happiness and parties and celebration, so their use in baby and children's rooms is perfect.  It's such a fun way to say, "we're so overjoyed that you're here." 

     I got such fun gifts too: like this bath boat with fishing pole... even Chris had fun with this one! 

He was not as big a fan of the music set... but I promised to hide it away when he comes home from work.

We're all convinced Holden will be chasing Gus around the house trying fix him up and/or shove him into this tiny kennel that came with his vet kit.

And this happy, giddy, bowling set is just too fun

Love this little shirt set...adorbs!  I'm such a sucker for preppy little boy clothes. 

Lisa, the commanding officer's wife, gave this sippy cup as part of her gift.  How special is that?!  I love it! 

    We got tons of other cute and/or useful items.  Thank you so much, everyone!  Overall, I'm just overwhelmed by the support Chris and I have received from his squadron and the spouses.  When we first mentioned the adoption to the guys in the squadron, we thought for sure the response we'd get was, "Are you serious?  This is the Marine Corps.  You don't have time to skip all over the globe adopting orphans."  Instead, we've received nothing but encouragement, excitement, and overwhelming support to bring Holden home.  We feel so grateful to be part of this squadron.  We've made so many wonderful friends, and it really does feel like a family.  The military is pretty unique that way.  You may have to live far from home but you develop such close friendships and a network of support that becomes your second family.  We are so incredibly blessed to have our Marine Corps family.  When the wait seems like forever, it's encouraging to know there are so many friends who have come alongside us, waiting and laboring with us to bring Holden home. 

     Speaking of bringing Holden home, I have some news to share!  Remember that little stamp of approval we needed from the ARC/SARA committee at the state-level?  Guess what?!?  We got it today!!  This extra step really had me stressed out.  It could have easily stretched into months of waiting.  Last night I couldn't sleep.  I stayed up praying about this situation, so discouraged at the timeline of things and wondering when we might have news.  I can't get over the fact that at the very moments I was praying for progress and encouragement, God was answering my prayers with an approval meeting in India!  Now, our papers really do go to CARA.  The wait for their NOC should be 4-6 weeks... but no guarantees.  After the NOC, we wait for our actual court date in India.  Either way, another check box is complete.  We are one step closer to bringing Holden home.  Let's just pray India doesn't add any more steps, and that the last 2 big steps come amazingly fast. 




Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Where in the World is Holden San Diego?

     This post isn't really about where Holden is.  Fortunately, we know he's with a loving foster family who are supported and trained by an amazing orphanage in Bangalore, India.  His foster family, and the orphanage, VCT, give him everything he needs: food, clothing, affection, help with physical therapy... everything, that is, but the ability to be his permanent family and to teach him about how cool God is.  We are so very blessed that this foster family is there to fill in the gap for us.  I can't imagine making it through this wait if I thought my child was not getting the love, attention, and care he needed. 
     This post is about where in the world all of our adoption papers are.  We mistakenly thought that for the last 8 weeks our adoption papers, or dossier, was with CARA - India's Central Adoption Resource Authority, and that we were simply waiting for their stamp of approval, or NOC.  It turns out, however, that CARA has decided to add an extra step to the adoption process.  I just LOVE extra steps!  They are so much fun! 
     CARA decided that each state must have an Adoption Recommendation Committee (ARC).  The state ARC must first issue their approval of our adoption before everything gets sent to CARA for the NOC.  This makes perfect sense, because certainly, if we were approved by the state of South Carolina, approve by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration, approved by Holt, and will also need approval by CARA and a judge in Bangalore, surely, that is just not quite enough approvals to be certain that this adoption is a good thing.  We have been informed that the ARC for Karnataka (Holden's state) has not met for two months, and no one is sure when they might meet again.  Today, we found out that a State Adoption Resource Agency (SARA) meeting was scheduled recently, but it did not take place.  So, our papers remain with the Department of Women and Child Development of Karnataka.  I believe the DWCD is similar to the department of Children and Family Services that we see in U.S.  I think they support things like early childhood education and prevention, and address allegations of abuse and removing children from homes.  This is where I am trying to think positively.  I am trying to give these wonderful, hard-working people the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they are far too overwhelmed with children who are starving or abused and situations that must be addressed ASAP, and they cannot seem to find the time to move things along for children who are already safe and taken care of.  I get that, I really do.  It doesn't make the waiting easy, but I certainly don't want any children who are in danger or starving to get overlooked.  If, in fact, these lovely people are just sitting around watching youtube videos and picking their noses, I just don't even want to know.  Please don't shatter my angelic view of them.  It's helping me get through this! 
     Whew, I thought fighter jet pilots over-did it on the acronyms, it turns out the adoption community is quite fond of them as well!  I wonder if they use call signs around the office...
     All that to say, not only do we not know when Holden gets to come home, but we are positive that delays are happening and will continue to happen.  At this point, I'll be thrilled if we get to bring Holden home by January.  Chris and I were talking last night about how we're starting to worry that everyone thinks we've made this adoption up!  I mean, all these delays and little steps seem like fiction.  We're fortunate to have watched many friends go through the adoption process in Thailand and other countries, and realize that these delays and extra steps are just part of the process.  They seem to happen in almost every inter-country adoption.  We promise, Holden is real, and he will really be our son!  It's just not going to happen on our timing. 
     I have faith that God is in control of all of this.  He will not abandon us, and more importantly, He will not abandon Holden.  The same God who blessed Hannah with a son after years of waiting and praying (1 Samuel 1), is the same God who blessed Elizabeth with a son after years of waiting and praying, (Luke 1), and He's my God too.  I read a verse today that really encouraged me: "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance taught in the scriptures, and the encouragement they provide, we might have hope." Romans 15:4  I serve a God who loves to give His children good things.  I serve a God who's in control of the tiniest details of my life and the biggest ones too.  I will choose to wait patiently for His plan to be fulfilled.  I choose hope. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Barefoot in the Kitchen

     Today, I'm interrupting your regularly scheduled adoption programming to talk about a portion of life I enjoy.  I think I've been taking this little piece of happiness for granted for quite some time.

                                                     I love being in the kitchen. 

     Cooking isn't something I always thought I'd love.  When I was first married, I really dug my feet in about spending time in the kitchen.  Sure, being Chris' homemaker hero sounded great for about 5 minutes, until I actually tried making a recipe.  I mean, the TIME it takes to cook.  I had no idea!  Even a simple casserole or salad with some chicken and special toppings can take a novice chef a few hours.  (Or maybe just me... if it's just me, please just leave it alone... I don't want to know how terribly awkward I used to be in the kitchen...)  Adding a few hours to my night after spending 3 hours just to commute to work in Northern Virginia was not how I imagined married life would be.
     Add to that being a brand-new military wife trying to navigate my way through the commissary to get our groceries each week.  The commissary can be a very stressful place for a brand-new 2nd Lieutenant's wife.  The "powers-that-be" ingrain it into your little newlywed head that your husband is an officer.  He is going to be a leader of Marines, so you better be a good example.  They tell you things, like "don't drive faster than 1 mph in the commissary parking lot, and never wear flip flops on base.  Don't chew gum, never wear jeans, get that frizz out of your hair, and if you put too many cookies in your cart, you're done."  They tell you to watch how you dress, what you say, how you smile or the way you reach for things, because someone is watching you.  And just when you think all is safe, you'll mutter under your breath that those d***, unbehaved, screaming kids the next aisle over better shut up, and there will be a General behind you.  He will ask you your husband's name and rank, and then a stamp will go on his permanent record.  Actually, not just that, they'll probably just dishonorably discharge him on the spot, because he didn't reign his wife in.  And your husband will never be able to get a job again, and you'll be poor and starving, and it will be all your fault for using a four letter word in the commissary. 
     Alright, so maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, and I'm proud to say I've never used a four-letter word in the commissary.  But seriously, this is how you feel when you walk into the commissary your first couple of months as a military wife. 
     Despite all these deterrents to cooking, I realized something: my husband's love language is FOOD.  Not words of encouragement, physical affection, gifts, quality time, or acts of service.  He literally gets fed both physcially and emotionally by eating good food cooked by me.  All those other ways of expressing love are perfectly wonderful and nice, and he appreciates those, but he will never feel fully loved unless he is getting home-cooked food from me.  I'm not joking.  If Chris wasn't blessed with such an amazing coal-fire furnace of a metabolism, I might have found a kind, gentle way to tell him to find a new love language, but this is not the case.  Besides, even if his metabolism had special needs, I could still find ways to cook healthy meals for him. 
     There is something wonderful about giving your spouse exactly what they need.  When you see their eyes light up and you can tell they feel perfectly content and loved, really, there's no better feeling.  I'm also blessed to have a perfectly grateful and merciful dinner recipient.  I have botched more than my fair share of recipes, but Chris eats every single one of them with a smile and tells me "thank you".  He has an amazing ability to tell me something is not his favorite while simultaneously making me feel loved and appreciated for my efforts.  I think if he started cooking appreciation classes we could save marriages all over the country! 
     The more I cooked, the more I realized I got something out of it too.  There is something incredibly relaxing about chopping vegetables and stirring sauces and not thinking about anything else.  It's the kind of relaxation that you can't get by just sitting on the couch watching TV or even reading a good book.  There's too much guilt associated with sitting on the couch for too long.  With cooking, you feel good about yourself for accomplishing something, but it's a stress-reliever at the same time.  The rest of life I'm either at work thinking about how to keep my kids stable and comfortable, and when to call the resident and when to suggest something and when to keep my mouth shut, or I'm at home thinking about when I'll get to meet Holden or what on my list of 100 things to do I should be doing to get ready for him, but when I'm cooking, all of that goes away.  It's just me and my kitchen.  I'm in charge, and guess what?  I don't even have to listen to the recipes.  I modify EVERYTHING. 
     By the way, when a recipe says, "clear" that means "see-through", not "colorless".  You might wanna keep that in mind if you're making strawberry candy and you've been stirring it for 2 hours waiting for it to turn "clear".... just sayin'. 
     After you have a year or two of cooking under your belt, you can look at a recipe and say, "that way of cooking chicken will make it dry and terrible, I'll keep the ingredients but make it this way" or "Please, that is not enough siriachi and way too much coconut milk... I'll do it this way."    Honestly, I get such pleasure out of modifying recipes and doing things my own way that sometimes I modify things just because I CAN.  I'm nowhere close to being a gourmet cook, but for me I know I've reached the mountaintop of cooking when I can make something like this: Chicken with Olives, which includes two of my husband's most hated ingredients: onions and green olives.  And he will eat it.... and he will LIKE IT.  It's pretty awesome, I'm not gonna lie.
 So bust out those pots and pans (measuring cups optional), play your favorite music, provide your fan-base with a little coaching on how they can best support you, and give cooking a second chance. You can do it, and you will be awesome at it, I promise!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

When is Holden coming home?

     The question I get most often regarding the adoption is: "when do you get to bring Holden home?"  I would give up my clothing budget, stop eating candy, and pull weeds every day for the rest of my life if I could have the answer to that question.  (Those of you who know me best know that's saying a lot!)  Unfortunately, adoptions from India don't come with a set timeline.  There are a lot of factors that determine the wait.  I'll attempt to describe them below.  And yes, I agree with everyone else's sentiment that once a child has a family, shouldn't they get to come home as soon as possible?  Yes, in an ideal world they should.  However, most countries have quite a backlog of work when it comes to adoptions.  Holden is not the only child waiting to come home.  There are hundreds more who have been waiting along with their families longer than he has.  So, we take a number and stand in line.... and hope and pray that India and other countries somehow get "caught up" on their work in the next few years. 
     Here's what we've done so far in the adoption process.  Applied to be Holden's parents and got approved.  Then, we had to update our home study to meet India's requirements.  Our home study agency was great and got this done in a month's time.  Then... our state's department of social services had to approve our home study before it could be sent to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration.  This is not a requirement in every state.  Unfortunately, that added a good extra month to the process.  Once USCIS received all of our paperwork, they approved us pretty quickly...within 3 weeks, I think.  They issued us the I800, which basically says that they approve us to be the adoptive parents of Holden, and everything appears to be in order for him to be legally adopted and brought to the U.S. to become a U.S. Citizen.  (Usually, you apply for the I800A first - which we in the Fall of 2011 while we were still in the Thailand program.  That step required fingerprints from Chris and I and took a little longer to process.)  Let me say this about USCIS.  We have had nothing but wonderful, helpful experiences working with them.  Not what you would expect from a government agency, right?  Our adjudication officer talked with us directly on the phone to clarify parts of our application and home study and gave us really good advice on what and when to submit things.  Everyone at USCIS has been super nice and helpful and has responded to our inquiries really quickly.  Even when we walked in to the USCIS office to get our fingerprints, the workers there were very friendly and helpful.  I know not everyone has had that experience with USCIS, but that's been ours.  We're super impressed with them and have no complaints. 
     Wow, this is getting really boring.  Maybe it will help someone else considering inter-country adoption to grasp how all this works.  If not, I apologize for this incredibly dry post!  Plus also, before we could send everything to USCIS, we had to gather up a brand new dossier for India to send to our agency, Holt.  The dossier is just a bunch of paperwork (when I say a bunch, I mean A BUNCH!)  that describes who we are as people, what jobs we have, our physical health, etc.  Then, we had to fill out a bunch of acceptance paperwork regarding Holden.  (Again, I mean an enormous, ridiculous, almost gave the notary debilitating carpal tunnel syndrome for life BUNCH!)  We had to sign and notarize every page of Holden's medical info and progress reports.  Thankfully, since Holden has gotten such great care in India, this meant a TON of papers to sign and notarize.  We spent about 2 hours with the  notary that day, and the bill came to about $200 worth of notary and shipping fees.  Yikes! 
     Oh wait, and we also had to get the Article 16 to send to USCIS - this is just paperwork that shows that Holden is free and clear for adoption.   Holt gathers this up for us.  After we got our I800 approval from USCIS, it gets forwarded to the National Visa Center, who then sends it on to the appropriate Consulate in India along with Holden's visa photo.  The Indian Consulate then issues their approval of the adoption in the form of Article 5.  THEN... all of our paperwork, the dossier and acceptance paperwork and Article 5 get sent to India's Central Adoption Resource Authority, or CARA as we affectionately call them.  CARA has to issue us the Non-Objection Certificate, or NOC.  This is what we're waiting for right now.  I love that it's called the NOC.  It's not a resounding approval of the match, it's just India's way of saying, "Well, we don't exactly love the idea of you taking an Indian child and raising them in a mostly white world and removing them from their birth language and culture and religion... but given the fact that this child needs a family, and you seem to love him, I suppose we don't exactly object to this arrangement..."  Love it! 
     Holt told us it would probably be 4-6 weeks to get the NOC.  All of our paperwork was mailed to them on May 2nd, so we're now sitting at 6 weeks of waiting tomorrow.  Which means, we should have that NOC in our chubby little hands any day now!  After we get the NOC, there is sort of a light at the end of the tunnel.  Our paperwork gets filed with the Family Court in Bangalore, India.  Then, a judge picks a court date for us.  We might only have 3 weeks notice to buy our plane tickets and head on over to India to appear before the judge.  On this trip, I'll go with a friend and leave Chris behind.  I'll get to meet Holden and spend about 2 days visiting with him.  Then, 30-60 days after the court date, Chris and I will head back to India to bring Holden home!  Here's the catch, though:  the courts in Bangalore are really backed up, and have always taken a good long while to pick the court date.  In the past, the court date would literally get rescheduled about 5 times.  So, just because we might have the NOC in our hands this month doesn't mean we won't be waiting months and months more to get news of that court date.  So... when will Holden come home?  We have no idea.... no idea....  could be by the end of the summer, could be the fall, could be January 2013.  Who knows... I'm hoping not any longer than January, but there are no guarantees. 
     Plus also, you made it! You're now no more closer to knowing when Holden will come home than you were when you started reading this post a year ago! I'm kind of chuckling an evil little chuckle inside right now; thinking about how frustrated and impatient and confused you are at the moment.   Welcome to international adoption, my friend! 
     If all of this sounds incredibly complicated, you're right.  It is.  But.. at the same time, it makes sense to ensure things are done ethically and correctly and in the best interests of children who need homes.  Is it frustrating and confusing and trying to our patience?  Of course!  But in the end, we'll be the proud parents of the most darling little boy on the face of the planet.  I would do this all over again 100 times to have that kind of happy ending.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

An Update on Our Little Boy

     I have been extraordinarily silent for the past few months.  In that silence, I have been reading, praying, preparing Holden's room (not even close to being finished!), collecting a toddler boy's wardrobe, and busying myself with anything and everything to keep from dwelling on the wait.  I have fussed and fretted over art prints, this train set or that train set, and any number of other completely frivolous and unessential things in order to mask the pain of the only essential thing to me right now: holding my little boy in my arms and telling him how much I love him.  My constant prayer for him is that he will know how loved he is.  I am so thankful that he has such a wonderful foster family to love and care for him.  I pray that through them, he feels our love half a world away, and most importantly, through them, he feels God's love for him. 
     Finally, finally, I have an update on Holden to share!  And now, it's confession time: I received this update at the beginning of May.  For the past couple of weeks, I have hoarded it and kept it for myself and a few family members and friends.  I delighted in the fact that I finally knew something about my son that others didn't know.  I felt like a real Mom for half a second.  And then I remembered all the questions the update didn't answer that I so desperately want to know: what is his favorite story?  what makes him laugh? what comforts him when he's sad? what is his favorite toy?  does he have a favorite blanky or stuffed animal?  is he quiet and shy or outgoing and boisterous?  does he get frustrated that his legs won't move, or is he so busy crawling around that he doesn't notice?  does he know about us yet?  has he looked at our pictures?  what does he think of it all? 
     I don't have the answers to those questions yet, but here are some things I do know about our darling boy:  He is teeny tiny.  He looks like he could be 4 years old in his recent pictures, but his height and weight are super little for 18 months old.  That's ok with us, and we know it's rather expected for kids with sacral agenesis.  His height has progressed well over the last 3 months, but he lost a pound!  I think he just expends so much energy crawling around using just his arms.  We may have to put him on a higher calorie diet once he comes home.  His appetite and diet in India appear to be very good.  He can say mom, dad, brother, grandma, grandpa, food, and doll in his native language of Tamil.  After doll, the report just says, "etc."  Later, it says he recognizes vehicles and names them like bus, auto, cycle,"etc."  (I better start a little vehicle collection for this boy!)  Also, I'm riding a bike in one of the pictures we sent to him, I wish I could see his adorable little finger pointing at it and naming it.  The report also says, "He is very expressive and jabbers continuously."  This makes me so happy.  I cannot wait to hear his sweet little voice.  He can throw a ball, and he shows a hand preference, but it doesn't say which hand he prefers.  He can feed himself little pieces of food and drink from a cup.  His therapy report is encouraging and mentions that they are working on "kneel standing" with support right now.  I am constantly trying to picture Holden going about his day and wondering what he is doing at the moment.  I am so desperate for the day when I can look over and see him on the floor right next to me... when I don't have to wonder about him anymore.  I will be his Mom and I will be there every second.  I am sad when I think about the seconds, minutes, days, and years we have missed, but I will get over it.  I will accept that God's timing is perfect and try to stay sane during this wait. 
     That's all I know right now, and it will have to keep me until the end of July when another update is due.  Either that, or I will be in India at the end of July for the court date!  (Not likely, promise me you won't get your hopes up, and I'll try to do the same.)  Thanks to everyone who has continued to ask me about Holden and how things are going.  Even when I don't have any news to share, it's encouraging to know so many people are cheering for us and impatient for him to come home too.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Namesake

     Just when everyone was getting used to thinking of our little boy as "Hudson" we threw everything off and picked a different name!  Our son's name will be Holden Anil.  To be honest, I really liked Hudson.  I had begun thinking of our little guy as Hudson, but Chris just couldn't get on board.  He knew a guy with that name, and he really wasn't Chris' favorite person.  Don't you hate how one person can ruin a name for you?  Sometimes I crack up thinking about an expectant couple discussing names together and one person says, "What about Beth Anne? And the other person says, "No way, I knew a girl with that name, and she was THE WORST!"  (I was a pretty ornery little kid, so I wouldn't be surprised if this has happened.)  Also, we have friends who are adopting and they just love the name Hudson for a boy, so I'm glad we could save it for them to possibly use.  I'm dreaming of the day when my Holden can play with her Hudson. 
     Back to our son's name:  We came up with Holden because we really wanted to keep an H-name.  We initially planned to keep our child's original name as their middle name, but in our son's case, this would have left way too much room for jokes and poking fun.  His name is super cool in Hindi, but... not so much in English.  So, in order to honor his given name, we wanted to at least keep an H.  We both love Holden, so it was a pretty easy choice.  As for Anil, we wanted to keep some level of  Indian heritage involved.  I mean, our last name is not going to help AT ALL.  I think our last name alone is going to make people look at our son and ask, "So what are you, exactly.......?"  Sorry, baby boy, blame it on Daddy!  I really wanted to use the name of one of the darling kids from the orphanage in order to honor how much those children touched me and changed my life forever.  We went through a big list of all my favorite children, and we settled on Anil. 
     So let me tell you about Holden's namesake.  Anil was full of life and energy.  He was so funny and engaging that he always had a little posse of boys following him around.  He loved to make goofy faces, ride down the steps on slats of wood, and play cricket.  He was a natural leader, and at 11 years old, already had a faith that would put grown men to shame.  This little boy wanted to be a missionary to all of India, as he put it.  He told us of going back to his small village of farmers in the state of Madhya Pradesh to see his family, and telling some villagers, "this rock is not a god.  There is only one God."  Anil still had two living parents, but was sent to the orphanage for a chance at an education and food every day.  Apparently, the state of malnutrition in Madhya Pradesh is comparable to that seen in Ethiopia.  Here is part of what Anil wrote in his testimony that he shared with us:  "In this world people need money diamond or richness.  But I need only Jesus christ.  I thank God for he love me."  Anil would be 18 years old today.  It's hard to imagine him grown up, and possibly out on his own in the world by now.  I pray that God will protect and provide for him.  Knowing the faith that he has, I'm confident God will use this young man to do amazing things.  If our Holden is anything like Anil, I will be one very proud momma.
     Below are some pictures of Anil. I love how well my friend at the orphanage captured his life and personality in these pictures. Here's to you, Anil, please know that you will never be forgotten. You touched my life forever, and I know you will continue to touch the lives of thousands.  


Tuesday, February 21, 2012


     Over the past couple of weeks, as we have begun preparing to be Holden's parents (yes, we've decided on a name, more on that later), I've thought a lot about the "issues" that might trouble our son's little heart.  When we first started this journey last year, I pored over adoption blogs and books, learning everything I could about fostering attachment, love, and trust with our child.  We learned about respecting our child's story as their own to share.  We learned about making adoption a regular part of our conversations, so that our little one would feel they could always be open and honest with us about their thoughts, feelings, frustrations, sadness, ambivalence, whatever it is that's going on in their hearts and minds.  We learned, most of all, that attachment takes a lot of time and patience.  We started putting ourselves in our dear one's little shoes:  being wrenched from a loving foster mother's arms, taken from a familiar language and people, and put into the arms of people who look very different, speak a language they don't understand, and for some reason, think this is just the greatest thing ever!  I love this quote: “Adoption Loss is the only trauma in the world where the victims are expected by the whole of society to be grateful”-Keith Griffith  I found it on the blog of a teenager who was adopted from Thailand at a young age:   
     After learning about attachment, we discovered a completely separate issue--that of parenting a child whose race and ethnicity are different from our own.  We learned that, for transracially adopted children, most report that race plays a bigger role in their identity than the fact that they're adopted.  So, we switched gears.  We started learning about fostering a positive racial identity by making a point to raise our child in as colorful and diverse a world as we possibly can.  Making a point to expose our child to meaningful cultural activities that teach them about their birth country and give them pride in their ethnicity.  I think the saddest thing I learned in all of our "racial identity" research, was how often transracially adopted children wished they were white.  As someone who thinks being white is pretty boring, and has often wished for a more exciting racial background, I just found that so sad--that children who are so beautiful and special just the way they are, wanted to blend in and just be like everyone else.  It made me realize how much each of us longs to fit in and belong.  The fight to teach our child(ren) how special they are, how loved and valued they are EXACTLY as they are, will be ongoing.  Race will always be an issue for our child.  It can't be ignored.  We can't just say, "race doesn't matter to me" because race matters to our child. 
     Now, with our darling Holden, we will tackle yet another "issue".  The issue of disability.  I haven't read the stats, but my guess would be, that a transracially adopted child with a disability would tell you that the disability defines them more than anything else.  Unlike the transracially adopted child, who can choose to walk on the opposite side of the street from their parents, who can choose to hang out with children of the same race as them, and be involved in cultural activities of their choosing, our Holden will be stared at no matter what.  At the playground and at school, kids will ask him, "Why do you need that wheelchair?" or "Why do you need those sticks?"  Every day will be a struggle for him to show others that he's more similar than different from them--that even though he gets around the world differently, he can still have fun.  He has the same hopes and dreams and feelings.  I think this really hit me, when I thought about the fact that our Holden could be surrounded by all transracially adopted Indian children, and he will STILL be different.  He could be surrounded by all children in wheelchairs, and he will STILL be different.  I'm guessing a support group of transracially adopted Indian children in wheelchairs probably does not exist!  Modern psychology would tell us that our son is destined to have a lot of "issues".  This whole thing kind of sounds like a psychological experiment destined to implode on itself, (think Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Experiment,
     After pondering all of this, and, at times, feeling overwhelmed, I kept coming back to one thing:  don't we all have issues?  Our "disability" might not be evident on the outside, but it's there just the same.  I'm not trying to downplay the hardship that people who are physcially different face.  I'm just saying, none of us is perfect.  God makes that very clear throughout His word.  Each of us humbly comes to God with a messed up, sinful heart, with nothing to offer but our broken little selves.  And, each of us, on our own, can never solve our issues.  I don't believe that all the research, therapy, or support groups in the world could fix our son's issues.  I'm not saying we won't continue to seek out those things as a supplement, but in our humble opinion, each person's issues are healed at the feet of Jesus.  I like how Ephesians 2:1-10 explains this plan:
"1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
     So, our solution to what seems like insurmountable issues in our precious child's heart, is simply to take them to Jesus.  To kneel at His feet every day, and offer them up to Him.  I'm not saying, that by doing this, we'll guarantee that our son will come to love and trust in Him.  That will be his choice alone to make.  But I do think that faith in God is the only real hope for a broken heart to be healed.  I know I'm not going to make many friends by saying that.  I know it seems closed-minded in a world where so many different faiths and beliefs prevail, but I take God at His word.  I believe it to be true.  I've seen the evidence of Him in my life and the lives of others, and I won't apologize for my unwavering faith.  I don't dislike or disrespect anyone who believes something different, but I do wholeheartedly believe that Jesus' blood is what covers and cleanses the sins and imperfections of this world... be they our own sins, or just the sad consequences of living in a world that is so terribly imperfect. 
     That being said, adopting a child for us has nothing to do with "saving" them or trying to put a checkmark in a box on our Christian works checklist (Yep, that's right, all Christians have a checklist, and they're supposed to complete a minimum of 10 boxes a year.... totally kidding).  It has everything to do with allowing God to show us His world as He sees it.  It was God who gave us an overwhelming love for this little boy.  He blessed us by showing us how He sees this child, how special and marvelous he is.... how much God loves him; how much God loves each of us.  If adopting a child were about looking like good little Christians, we would never make it out alive! 
"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me."  2 Corinthians 12:9
     So that is where we are right now.  We'll continue to learn and research and prepare as best we can to be the loving parents that Holden deserves.  But for us, preparing also means growing in our faith and learning to trust in Him minute by minute.  You know, it's funny, because Holt just featured our story of finding Holden in their e-newsletter, and I keep thinking, "What is the update one year from now going to look like?"  It's so easy to stand on this side of the water, trusting God, but the day to day realities of parenting our little boy will challenge and stretch us in ways we can't even imagine.  I'm thankful, that although I'm guessing many people have wondered silently to themselves, "are they CRAZY?!" that no one has dared to speak those words out loud to us.  We've received nothing but love, support, and excitement at bringing Holden home.  And trust me, people, we're gonna need every ounce of love and support you can give!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It's a Boy!!!!

Chris and I have been matched with a 15 month-old boy in India!  A lot has happened in the last couple of weeks.  It's been a whirlwind; the good kind of whirlwind that makes wheat fields look gorgeous and blossoms fly and nothing gets destroyed, and the world is just full of more flowers and trees and life because of the whirlwind... I still look back at everything in absolute awe of God and how He has worked.  Usually, I try to somewhat edit my blog posts (hey, stop laughing, 3 pages is the edited version for me)... I swear I don't try to write entire book chapters, they just start pouring out.  This time, I'm not even going to try.  I am going to tell you about our precious child, and I am going to go on and on and on.... As Chris told his Mom last night in reference to talking with me about our child... "just make sure you have an escape route!"  I have fallen in love with this little boy.  I think everything about him is exquisite and wonderful.  I want to plaster his picture on billboards, have Chris write it in the sky that he's ours, and announce it at the Super Bowl.  I am so incredibly proud to be his mommy.  (Oh no... I am going to be one of those facebook moms that writes a post every time her kid moves his pinky toe or wipes a booger on his shirt....oh well, I guess there are worse things I could be than that...I can't think of any of them right now, but I'm sure there are worse things, right?)  Speaking of plastering his picture everywhere.  For those of you who have gotten this far, and are yelling, "Where are the PICTURES, jerk?!??!  That's all I care about, I want to see the pictures!"  We can't post his pictures on the internet.  Indian adoption/privacy/kid-friendly laws prohibit it.  We can email his pictures to friends and family, as long as they also know not to post the pics on the web.  So, just send me a message or email, and I'll show you some pics :)  Really, just ask, I'm dying to show him off!  Fellow India adoption families, do you have a better solution to this?  Is there a secure site where you posted pics and people could access them?  It almost feels like I have way less control over where his pictures go if they just keep getting emailed over and over...  We're also in the process of setting up private access to a video-sharing site.  We'll keep you posted.  The videos of him are adorable!  He has the cutest personality.... best little boy in the world. 
     So, back to your regularly scheduled programming about how our son came to be our son.  16 days ago, Chris and I were thinking it would be years before we could bring a child home.  We gritted our teeth and hunkered down for a really long wait.  Then, on Thursday, January 12th, I saw a blog post from Holt on one of the waiting children.  I love to check out these posts, share them on facebook, and pray for these children to find families.  This little boy tugged at my heart right away.  I thought, "he would be a perfect fit for us, but he's in India.  We're not old enough to adopt from India.."  Read the blog post here:
I figured it was worth a shot, though, to check out India's requirements again.  I went to India's Central Adoption Resource Authority website, and I couldn't believe what I read.  I almost fell out of my chair with happiness.  India had recently changed their guidelines, so that now, married couples only had to be 25 years old to adopt, rather than 30!  I contacted Holt, and asked, "is this really true?!  Seriously?!  We can adopt from India?!?!"  India is where my heart has always been.  The orphanage in India changed my life.  We love Thailand, and have learned so much about Thai culture in the time we were in the Thailand program, but let's face it, God gave me a special place in my heart for India.  One of the waiting child program staff emailed me back, and said, "yes, it's true!"  She sent me all the information they had on this little boy, so we could begin to research his condition and decide whether or not we wanted to apply to be his parents. 
     Before we got "Hudson's" information via email (not sure if I can post his Indian name online, so we'll refer to him as Hudson for now), I spoke with Erin from the waiting child program on the phone.  She told me all about him, and I froze when she read the words: paralysis of lower limbs.  "Oh, I said, so he will need a wheelchair.... ok."  She continued to talk about him, and even though my heart was sad that he might never walk, I never felt that he wasn't meant to be our child.  After I got off the phone with Erin, I took our dog Gus for a walk and thought about this little boy.  I grieved for the things he might miss out on if he couldn't walk, I grieved for him feeling different from his peers and struggling to do what came so easy to everyone else.  This whole time, though, I felt God whispering to my heart, "He is yours, I'll be with you every step of the way." 
     I had a lot of questions, "How are we going to give this little boy everything he needs as a military family?  We move every 3 years, can we guarantee that every location will have what he needs, that everywhere we go we can find a wheelchair friendly house, and wheelchair friendly activities for him, and what about the specialists and therapies he will need?"  One by one, God answered every single question.  I was amazed to discover what resources and specialists we have close to our little southern town, and all the other places we might go over the next 15 years have even more resources than we have here!  We could be in San Diego, California - home of the Challenged Athletes Foundation.  This organization is amazing - they provide special wheelchairs and other equipment for athletes with disabilities.  They provide free mentorships for kids 8 and older.  We could be in Quantico, close to D.C.  We could be at Camp Pendleton, which is right between San Diego and L.A.  We could be in Virginia Beach.  The only location I had my doubts about was Camp Lejeune, NC.  But the great thing about the military is they have the Exceptional Family Member Program.  So basically, they'll never station Chris anywhere that doesn't have adequate resources and care for our child. 
     Even in our little town, there is horseback riding for kids with disabilities, there are a plethora of swimming pools and obviously, beaches.  Wheelchair tennis and basketball organizations are not too far away, and all the medical professionals we need to see are no further than 1.5 hours away.  (Yes, I know this seems kinda far, but for a girl who has driven 14 hours in one day to visit family... this is a piece of cake!  I just have to figure out how to make car trips fun for Hudson.)  Chris started cracking up when I told him about all of this stuff.  He said, "You know, he'll only be about 2 years old when we bring him home... I don't think they'll let him go horseback riding just yet."  Ok, good point, Chris, I guess I'm getting a little ahead of myself!  All that to say, the more I researched, the more encouraged I was, and the more convinced I became that we could provide this little boy with all the resources, support, love, and encouragement he would need to lead a happy, fulfilling life. 
     Another amazing answer to prayer was how open Chris was to this little boy from the moment I told him about Hudson.  Chris has been adamant that we would know who our child was through a traditional "match".  Meaning, we wait in line, Holt picks a kid and says, they're yours!"  I, on the other hand, have been pleading with him to consider one of the waiting children for the past year.  Amazingly enough, the two waiting children who had been most on my heart before Hudson both had some similar medical and physical needs as he does.  I really feel that God used these other two children to prepare our hearts to be open to Hudson.  When I told Chris about Hudson, I expected him to say, "absolutely not, we are not applying for a waiting child."  Instead, his reaction was, "ok... " and we both started talking about how we could adapt our house for a child in a wheelchair, and how we could give this little boy what he needs.  There was definitely some blood, sweat, and tears as I tried to get Chris to make a decision faster.  Umm, I threw a spoon into the sink in frustration, that was my worst moment.  Chris thought I was going to throw the spoon at his computer, so he was actually impressed with my level of self-control.  Yay, me!  (Ok, not really, still working on controlling my emotions.)  Chris does not like to make up his mind quickly.  It's really a great balance to my do-a-triple-back-flip-dive-into-the-deep-end mentality.  But I'm not gonna lie... sometimes his brain's processing speed drives me completely coo coo for cocoa puffs!  I would ask him, like a used car salesman, "So what can I do to get a Yes out of you today?  How can I help that brain of yours along?"  Chris responded by saying, "You can quit bugging me, because every moment you distract my brain, it will take me longer to decide."  Again, I think God was chuckling at me, thinking "You can't change his mind or heart, Beth Anne, that's MY job!"  After all of that, it only took him 4 days to decide.  Wow, I am incredibly impatient.
     "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."  2 Peter 3:8-9.  I know this verse is talking about God's eternal plan for the universe, about saving people for His glory, about when Jesus will come back.  But I also think it applies to the promises He writes on each of our hearts.  God was not slow in keeping the promise to give us a child to love and care for.  He worked everything out in His perfect timing.  For those of you who are still driving the endless, circular, monotonous racetrack that is the waiting game, know that God will not be slow in keeping His promises to you too.   I am amazed by the fact that, last year when Chris and I first started talking about adoption, our little boy was being born in India.  God knew all along.  It gives me chills.  It takes my breath away.  He had this marvelous secret for us.  I can just see him waiting with anticipation for the day when He could reveal His plan to us! 
     Sorry, got sidetracked again.  How could I not?!  God is just way too cool.  Ok, so on Tuesday, January 17th, Chris told me we could apply to be Hudson's parents.  By the way, 17 is a special number for us.  It was Chris' sports number all through high school and college, and on November 17th, 2003, Chris asked me to be his girlfriend.  (He swears he didn't plan it that way.... sure, sure, just like you didn't plan to make me wait 4 days so you could tell me Hudson should be our son on the 17th too!)  I wrote to Erin and she sent me all the questionnaires.  I spent the next four hours pouring out my heart on those pages.  (before you shake your finger at me for filling out all this stuff while Chris was at work, trust me, we had already talked about each and every one of the questions on that list.  I already knew what both of our answers were.) 
   Ok, really, this is getting extremely long, let me cut to the good part...on Monday, January 23, Jessica from the Waiting Child Program called to tell us that we were chosen to be Hudson's parents!!  I cried, I was shaking, I couldn't believe it was true.  I'm still in shock.  I feel like I won the lottery, but instead of winning a bunch of money (useless, right?) I won the gift of a beautiful, precious, smart, social, happy little boy.  Wow, Chris and I feel so blessed.  So now, we fill out a bunch of paperwork for India.  Create a photo album and video to send to Hudson, and wait...  It will probably be 6-12 months before we can go get Hudson and bring him home.  6 months would be super extremely amazingly fast.  The reason I even dare to mention 6 months is because supposedly, with India's new and improved adoption system, things are supposed to progress a little faster, and kids with "special needs" are supposed to get expedited a bit.  I'm  not sure where Hudson would fall in this category.  He is clearly healthy and happy, but he does have physical needs. 
     So let me explain a little more about Hudson's condition.  I am still struggling to find the balance between what to share and not share.  In his case, I'm going to share a lot of the physical stuff, because it will be very obvious, when you meet him, that he's different in that way.  I also want to share in the hopes that it might make other adoptive families more open to a child with "special needs".  I don't really like the term, "special needs".  It kinda reminds me of kids making fun of other kids in elementary school and calling them "special".  I heard one parent refer to kids with disabilites as "exceptional children" whereas normal kids were called, "typical."  And yes, I know that every child is exceptional to their parents and family, but for now, that's the term I'm going to use:  exceptional.  I mean, really, the level of work and determination it will take Hudson to do the things that other kids can do without even thinking about it, really is exceptional.
     Hudson was born with sacral agenesis, also known as caudal regression syndrome.  This condition starts in utero, during the development of the neural tube, but it's different than spina bifida.  It can have a similar presentation, but its cause and what's going on in the body are quite different.  Fortunately, this condition does not cause hydrocephalus (build-up of fluid in the brain) as spina bifida can.  Children with sacral agenesis have normal intelligence and are not at any increased risk for learning disabilities or ADHD, as is the case with spina bifida.  Here's what it can cause:  absent or malformed sacrum (the sacrum is a triangular bone that has 5 fused vertebrae S1-S5... they don't fuse until adulthood, and sits below the lumbar vertebrae and just above the "tailbone"  here's a link to a picture of it and definition:
  We're not sure exactly what Hudson's sacrum looks like.  The MRI report simply says:  "posterior element in sacrum are partially deficient and held together by a fibrous band"  So I'm sure we'll figure more stuff out once he's home.  We do feel really blessed at his overall health and stage of sacral agenesis.  Some children born with this condition are missing parts of their lumbar or thoracic spine, can have affected kidneys, have missing bones in their legs or contractures in their legs.  Hudson's kidneys are healthy.  His lumbar and thoracic spine look great, and his legs are relatively normal.  He had a congenital hip dislocation of his L hip and a healed L femur fracture - we think due to his breach position at birth.  He had club feet that were casted.  (His feet are absolutely adorable, they were just turned on their sides at the ankles, and to be honest, still look a little turned so we'll have to see about that when he gets home.)  We also know that he doesn't have normal knee or ankle reflexes, so this tells us his spinal cord and nerves are not functioning properly in his legs.  The two doctors who have reviewed his information for us, tell us that they do not think he will ever walk.  They also say, "never say never, kids are amazing and always surprise us."  We're going to give Hudson the best care we possibly can, and whatever his outcome and level of mobility, we're just fine with that.  We're somewhat hopeful, because we've learned that walking depends a lot on hip movement and control, and he appears to have some level of this from the videos we saw.  But who knows, it's kind of fun to just be surprised by what he can do when we bring him home.  I'm also kind of concerned that he's missing tibias (shin bones) or they are deficient because his calves look different.  Chris thinks, "surely, they would have noticed if he was missing his tibias and only had fibulas."  Who knows.  Another surprise for later! 
     We've learned about many children with this condition.  One kid, Cody, was missing his tibias and patellas (knee caps), so his parents made the very tough decision to amputate his legs above the knee to give him the chance to walk with prosthetics.  He is doing great!  Here's a video on him:
Cody's legs were definitely in worse shape than Hudson's are, and to be honest, we don't know yet if Hudson's lower legs can bear weight.  If they can bear weight, or if he has no hip movement and control, amputation would be useless.  We'll just take things one day at a time.  Here's another inspirational story:    Really, just type in challenged athlete profile in youtube, and you'll find all sorts of stories that will change your perspective on people with "disabilities", or exceptional people. 
     Ok, now that I've bored you with all of the medical stuff.  I'll just conclude by saying this:  parenting this precious boy is going to be the biggest challenge of our lives thus far.  We are ready!  Well, as ready as any parent could even be....  We know there are going to be rough days, days where we are exhausted, and Hudson is exhausted, and we don't want to see another doctor, and we don't want him to have to go through another procedure.  There will be days when we're just downright discouraged.  Days where we just ache for him to be like every other "typical" kid, not for our sake, but for his.  But we're counting on every single day with Hudson being an absolute blessing.  We love this little boy with everything we have.  We love his fascination with the world and people around him, his enjoyment of being held, his dark curly hair, his sensitive brown eyes, and his round smiley cheeks.  We can't wait to discover a million other things that we love about him.  We have a conviction that cannot be shaken that God meant for him to be our son.  We will not give up, we will not dwell on the hard things, we will trust in God to walk with us every single day. 
19 "I remember my affliction and my wandering,
   the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
   and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
   and therefore I have hope:
 22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
   for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
   great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
   therefore I will wait for him.” 
Lamentations: 3:19-24

Ok, just read all of Lamentations... it's good stuff.

Also, congratulations if you've made it this far!  You clearly do not have adult ADHD!

I just want to thank everyone for all their prayers, support, and encouragement.  We have been overhwhelmed by everyone's love and support.  We know we will continue to need it, so thanks in advance for that. 

The end... for now... of course you know I'm going to keep talking about my precious son for the rest of my life!