Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Picture of the Day

Here is the picture of the day - CrazyD style. I should mention that at the previous game Miss Bookworm scored a goal. She normally plays defense, but she was playing center mid when she had the opportunity to step up and hit a shot from the 18. It was a very nice shot.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Updated Sidebar Photos

I was just going to update the photos on the sidebar, but then I thought I should preserve the old photos in a post. This is not really for you, but for us, since this blog is the sum total of our family archive.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Picture(s) of the Day

I take most of the photos in our house, but these are compliments of CrazyMom. Since they are her photos, I am putting them on the blog "CrazyMom Style." I often call her over to the computer to show her three photos and to ask her which one should go on the blog. "All three," she will say. "Edit, edit, edit," I will reply. But then every time she finds a post on another blog where there is a whole cute and adorable series, she calls me over to show me what a good thing it is. Of course, in my mind I am wondering why they did not pick just one.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Good Stuff About Adopting

In the subsequent discussion resulting from the post regarding the tough stuff about adopting, Anna Maupin said that she thought it would be good for us to share about the some of the pleasant surprises that we have had. It is hard to pass on a good idea like that, so hear are some of the things for us. Please leave a comment and share your good stories with us, too.

First, I have been surprised by the good it does ones heart to love yet another child. I know in my head that our hearts have an incredible capacity to love, but it is an entirely different thing to experience your heart loving more people. And when you experience it, you realize that it does your heart good.

I have been surprised by how much I like brown skin. In the past when I had thought about brown skin my thoughts were dominated by racism in America. Now that I live with brown-skinned kids, I get to enjoy the qualities of brown skin without always thinking about racism. Also, I love taking pictures of them and working with the richness of color that there is as light spills across their skin.

I also love seeing the things that are largely universal in kids. All of our kids are different, but all of them have some things that are the same. Seeing the things that transcend culture, race, and nationality is a real treat.

When I asked CrazyMom about this she said she loves the diversity of culture that is now in our home and the perspective that adoption brings to all of our children.

Also, when CrazyMom hears K.D. complaining about not having a toy or not getting a second piece of candy she smiles inside. It is just so satisfying to see that he no longer has to complain about a lack of food or a lack of clean water.

These are a few of our fun surprises. So how about you? What fun things have surprised you?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Soccer Season

We sat out soccer for the last year as we have taken time to settle in as a family. It is now soccer season again and we have come off the bench with four out of the seven kids. Ed and F.G. got to be on the same team this season, which is great since this is F.G.'s first time with an organized sport.

At the game last night, Ed and F.G. each scored two goals. This was certainly exciting stuff for them. Here is Ed taking advantage of a goalie who was a little out of position.

Each team has six girls on the field and one in the goal. Here is Ed with five of the six field opponents.

F.G. is an intense player as you can see here.

It is a little hard to tell what is going on here, but if you look close you can see that F.G. is scoring a goal.

Here are two sisters celebrating after F.G.'s goal.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Nighttime Prayer

K.D's prayer from tonight:

Dear Jesus,

Thank you for this day. Help all the kids who don't have a mom and dad to get a mom and dad. Help them to get food, too. Help us to have good dreams and no bad dreams.

In Jesus' name,


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Prescription Drugs

A few years back my father developed a sickness that was accompanied by a fever. His doctor diagnosed the problem and wrote out a prescription. “What would have happened if I lived before our era of prescription drugs?” my father asked. “You would have died,” replied the doctor. What used to drive us to the grave now compels us to go to the pharmacy to get our prescriptions filled.

All three of the children we have brought into our home from Ethiopia have come with some medical conditions. As the doctor describes what they have it sometimes seems serious because they are not the type of things we have here in the States. Then he writes out a prescription and instructs us to make sure they take a particular pill for a few days.

The simplicity of it all is amazing - take the magic pill for however many days and then this thing they have been living with for years will go away. It is far easier than dipping in the Jordan.

Not only is it simple, I get paid to do it. I drive to Giant Eagle with my $1-off-per-gallon-of-gas-for-a-new-prescription coupon which saves me $30 in gas. Sometimes the drug is on the 400 drugs for $4 list and I end up making $26 bucks on the deal. If not, I pay the $10 co-pay and only make $20.

When administering a prescription drug to my kids, I will tap one of the magic pills out of the bottle and into the palm of my hand. As I look at it I reflect on what good this pill will work in my child’s body. I also reflect on how our world has been structured in such a way that many people don’t have access to the medicine they need.

James tells us: If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? (James 2:15-16)

I am truly blessed to live in a home where I have access to the prescription drugs that my family needs. But I must not forget those who do not and I must find a way to try to get them “what is necessary for their bodies.”

Friday, April 18, 2008

Unsupportive Family

In a recent post many of you shared some amazing stories of the tough stuff about adopting . Carissa shared that the difficulty she is facing right now is having parents who are “unsupportive to the point of refusing contact.” That is tough stuff indeed.

Carissa asked for some advice, but I feel unqualified to give it. CrazyMom and I have been blessed with a supportive family and have not had to bear that cross. I have heard multiple stories of parents who were against their adult children adopting. It seems like they are concerned that the new child is not the same color, or the child will consume too much of the family resources, or the child is handicapped, or the child will have a negative impact on the other kids in the home. Fortunately, it seems that many of these parents who wish the adoption would not take place change their minds after it does and they have developed a relationship with the child.

That is about all I know. If you have walked this path, please feel free to leave a comment for Carissa.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Misc. Events from Tonight

The table was set for supper and I was just getting ready to take the steaks off the grill when I got the dreaded question for the second time – “Dad, can we eat outside? Pleeeeaaase!”

Now I like being outdoors, but dinner for nine on the deck can be a real hassle. As a guilt-alleviating consolation prize I suggested that we have dessert on the deck instead. After dinner I opened up Dad’s Sundae Shoppe where the sundaes were so good that F.G. spontaneously decided to give me a tip.

I told F.G. one time that she looked like a rock star when she got out of the shower and had her hair down. She remembered that and tonight after her shower she showed up with a guitar.

Anna liked the rock star role as well and took the guitar when F.G. was done with it. She is quite the ABC singing rock star.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Fake Ouches and Real Ouches

At school lately I have been promoting a phrase that our faculty came up with about a decade ago – healthy respect for self and others. Along these lines I told some of my students about the “ouch” system. If someone says something that hurts a little, say “ouch” to let them know. Sometimes people don’t realize when they are not being respectful to you and gently pointing it out can be beneficial.

Well, tonight CrazyMom was going out with her girlfriends but first she was helping me get out the door with the seven kids for soccer practice. I came bustling downstairs and happened upon CrazyMom tying Anna’s shoes and giving instructions to Ed.

CrazyMom: Ed, when you are getting ready for bed tonight, remind dad to give Anna her medicine.

Ed: OK, mom. I will.

CrazyD: Ouch. That hurts, hun.

(I feign competence in caring for kids and this was an attack on my feigned competence.)

CrazyMom: I knew you would hear, too.

CrazyD: I am not sure that makes me feel any better, hun.

CrazyMom lifts her head from Anna’s shoes and grins and gives me one of those you-know-you-love-me-and-you-know-I-love-you-and-you-know-I-need-to-tell-Ed-to-remind-you-to-give-Anna-her-medicine looks.

I can fool a lot of people, but I can’t fool CrazyMom.


I just got done putting the kids to bed and I am sure I would have remembered Anna’s medicine, but we will never know for sure. I had multiple surrogate mothers reminding me all night to give it to her.

When I put Anna to bed we snuggled a little and she wanted me to sing to her (very scary, trust me). She seemed sad. As I tucked her into bed she looked up at me and on the verge of tears she said, “Momma bye bye?”


I had told Anna that momma went bye bye and I now could see that bye bye to her was something much more serious that CrazyMom going out with her girlfriends. I wondered if “momma going bye bye” was a phrase that brought back memories of another mother that had gone bye bye.

I gave it another try by saying, “Momma went in makina (car) to see friends and eat dabo (bread). Mom will come home and sleep here.”

“Mamma night night?” Anna asked pointing in the direction of our room.

“Yes, Mamma night night.”

Anna’s face was no longer teary, but not peaceful either. As she assumed her sleeping position with her hands together tucked under head, her eyes were in a distant stare. There was some memory there which I could not see and which she could not tell. I bent over and kissed her gently on the head and quietly left the room. She was soon asleep.

There are fake ouches and then there are real ouches.

Monday, April 14, 2008

What If?

I have been ruminating over the Tough Stuff stories that many of you shared and it has caused me to ask what if -- what if it were my children who were orphaned?

I imagine my 40th birthday party where family and friends have gathered. Some disaster strikes leaving my children orphans and no close loved ones to swoop in and care for them. A social worker leads my children by the hand to a foster home and after a year or so some are adopted by a family here and some are adopted by your family.

How will my children behave in your home? After opening up your home and laying your heart on the line they may bite you, hit you, or scream at you. They may say, “I hate you!” or “You are not my dad!” They may do those things of which you spoke in the tough stuff post.

But after reading your comments, I know that you are ready to rise to the challenge for my children and other children in need. I am deeply moved that whether the journey has been easy or fraught with peril, you have given your all to try to make it though the tough stuff. Then some of you emerge from this phase and turn right back around to go though it again with another adopted child. All of you are amazing.

So on behalf of all of the parents who desperately wish they could care for their children, but due to death, AIDS, poverty, and violence they can not do so, I say thank you. Thank you for going through the tough stuff to redeem these children and make them a part of your family. You have heeded the call to be imitators of Christ, who went through the tough stuff to redeem us and make us a part of His family.

And for those of you who are thinking about adopting, I invite you on a journey to redeem a child. It will possibly be the hardest and most rewarding thing you will ever do.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

If I Want It, I Can Rationalize It

One of my popular posts from a year ago ( CrazyD’s Icca) was about my struggle with materialism. Well, I evidently got over it since CrazyMom and I recently made a large purchase.

One of the things that I love is that I can rationalize anything. For the last decade I have been providing arguments as to why we should NEVER own a trampoline. They are a leading cause for emergency room visits. They are big and ugly and sit out in your yard all of the time. We don’t have a good place in our yard for a trampoline. They are expensive. You get the idea.

Then the other day CrazyMom and the kids were at another house in the neighborhood and they had a great time on a trampoline. It was a sweet trampoline packed with all sorts of safety features. It had a clean, slick design which looked good. We had the perfect spot in our yard for one just like it. It was on sale at Costco. While it may seem expensive, since we have seven kids the cost per kid is quite low. It is imperative for home-schooling families to provide equipment that encourages physical activity. George Bush is sending me a check and he asked me to spend it to help stimulate the economy. I figure I can be an even better American by spending it before I even get it. You get the idea.

Here is the new view from the kitchen window. As you can see, we do have the perfect spot for a trampoline.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Tough Stuff About Adopting

For those who have been with me for awhile, you may recall the post What Have I Done? from about a year ago. In it I explored those dark moments after adopting where some of us wondered what we had done.

I have been thinking lately about the trials of adopting. Often when talking with someone who is considering adopting, they want to know about the tough stuff. They want to know what it is so they can ascertain if they have the reserves to walk through what might come their way.

So, if you have adopted, here is an opportunity to let others see what the tough stuff is. Please leave a brief comment that conveys what the hardest part about adopting was for you.

Note: I am more concerned about authenticity than about knowing who you are, so feel free to log out of your Google account and leave an anonymous comment if that is more comfortable for you. On the other hand, if you have posted about your tough stuff on your blog, feel free to leave a link here.

Note: This is not a contest to see who has had the worst experience. Do not let the easy or difficult time others have had hinder you from sharing what you have experienced.

A final important note: You may have come through your hard time, you may still be in your hard time, or you may not have made it through. Let us know if you are still dealing with your tough stuff so we can be praying for you.

I guess I should go first. Here is my brief “comment.”

Hi - My wife and I have four bio kids (6-12) and have adopted 3 kids from Ethiopia (4-9). One of the hard things for me was when something was not going well (difficult interaction with a child or tension between children) I would assume that the behavior would get a little worse each year for the next decade and there would no longer be any happiness in my life. It turns out that this stuff continues to get better for us over time, as my rational side suspected, even though my emotional side was all that my head could hear in the moment.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Picture of the Day

Actually, this is the "Picture of Yesterday." The whole family convened at Buddy's soccer game and about half way through CrazyMom took off with the kids to head to the nearby playground. I happen to look over my shoulder and seeing CrazyMom with the kids making their way across the field made me feel warm inside. I am glad I have a photo to remember the moment.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Ongoing Name Saga

If you have read What is in a Name? then you know Anna’s name is not really Anna. You would also know there are some issues – oops, I mean mild variations in opinions – regarding her name. Here was the conversation at the supper table tonight.

Background information: The six older kids all have cups with their names on it. CrazyMom has been working on trying to find a matching one for “Anna.” To avoid confusion, __________ will represent Anna’s real name in our family.

CrazyD: Oh, I see you got __________ a generic mug. Couldn’t find one with her name on it?

CrazyMom: No. I even checked on ordering one, but they don’t have it.

CrazyD: Hmmm. I guess we could have gotten one with the name Anna on it.

(Editor’s note: That was a bad comment.)

CrazyMom: The last thing we need is to add more confusion about her name!

CrazyD: Did they even have a cup with the name Anna on it?

(Editor’s note: That was a bad question.)

CrazyMom: Yes. I was not going to tell you.

(Editor’s note: When your wife does not trust you with the information that there is a cup at a store with the name Anna on it, it is not a good sign.)

CrazyD: If we ever adopt again, we should just go to this rack of cups and look it over and pick out a name. We can’t have two generic cups in the house, you know.

Little Foot: Wait! I got it! You can just go on the blog and change Anna’s name to __________ and we can call her Anna at home. Then we can go buy her a cup with her name on it.

CrazyD: Now that’s a good idea!

(Editor’s note: This was a really bad comment.)

CrazyMom:                <-- Note the white space. That is silence.

CrazyMom: Or, we could go on the blog and call her “Cutie Pie” or something to clear up any confusion.

(Note to self – change the blog password ASAP.)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Amharic Flavors in our Home

When our Ethiopian kids came to us, they were Amharic speakers and not English speakers. Sadly, their Amharic skills faded quickly. There have been a handful of words that have persisted, however, and they are used by both our American and Ethiopian children. Words such as “coy” which means to wait or “asa” which means fish are still with us. It is hard to know why these words have persisted and not others.

One word that we were hoping would fade away was “shint,” which means to go to the bathroom (number 1, if you use that language). With non-crisp English speakers, it was just a little too dangerous of a word for our liking.

Well, it has not faded. Today I was with all of the kids at a playground while Miss Bookworm was scrimmaging in a soccer game nearby. As I was talking with another parent, F.G. came up to me to let me know she had to go to the bathroom. I encouraged her to wait because I did not want to round up the kids into the car to go look for one. She said she could wait. But then I realized an accident would be worse than a car ride.

“Are you sure you can wait?” I asked.

“Yeah. If not, I will just shint in my pants,” she teased, oblivious to how she could be misunderstood.

Needless to say, I felt compelled to explain that one to the parent with whom I was chatting.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Why not Anna last year?

Anna and K.D. are together again after not seeing each other for about a year and a half. Seeing them side-by-side is one of those things that gives you a deep sense of satisfaction and peace in your innermost being. The question has come up in a comment on our blog as to why we did not adopt Anna last year when we adopted her brother K.D. The truth is that we tried. Both K.D. and Anna were brought forward for adoption in Ethiopia and CrazyMom and I pursued them both.

We could not adopt Anna at that time because the adoption agency we were using decided not to facilitate the adoption. While we won’t be sharing why they refused in this case, in general adoption agencies may make this sort of decision for a variety of reasons. For example, they may not feel comfortable working with the birth family, the child, or the adoptive family. Or they may feel the child and the adoptive family are not a good fit. Or there could be a host of other concerns that the agency has.

While this was a setback for us and we strongly disagreed with the agency, I remember not being that upset with them about it. It wasn’t like we couldn’t adopt Anna; we would just have to use a different agency that thought more like us. Yes, it was going to cost us thousands of dollars and take another year to start over with a new agency, but I remember just thinking, “So be it.” CrazyMom and I contacted Adoption Advocates International who was very willing to help us adopt Anna.

AAI told us that the normal procedure is to do an agency-to-agency transfer of Anna’s contact information. I called our old agency and let them know to whom they could send the information.

Our agency said no. They would not transfer the contact information to AAI.

Our agency said they were acting in our best interest. But in subsequent and futile conversations with them I was told that if they gave the contact information to AAI, AAI would still not be able to find Anna. In order for AAI to find Anna, our agency would have also have to disclose to AAI some of their “business contacts” who worked in the area of Ethiopia that Anna was from, and they were not willing to do that.

I was both shocked and upset. I was shocked because our agency was acting at least in part on the perceived best interest of their business model in the region. I was upset because I knew that this meant we would not be able to adopt Anna. The only information we had about her that we could give to AAI was a 1” by 2” photo of her with a hat on and the region of Ethiopia that she was in. Finding Anna would be like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack, and only God could do that.

And God did.

Scripture repeatedly tells us that we are to care for the less fortunate, particularly orphans and widows. Scripture also tells us that God sees himself as the “father of the fatherless” and the way He has chosen in this day and age to be that father is through His people - people like you and me. But these are all general things to me. What has impressed me over the last year is seeing how God specifically wanted Anna in our family and to prove it, He found the needle in the haystack. He used a network of people to find Anna - some of whom we knew at the time, some of whom we now know, and some of whom we will probably never meet this side of heaven. Finding this precious little girl in Ethiopia was truly a remarkable thing.