Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Multi Million $ Boondoggle

One of my goals with writing is to be reflective without just being critical.  Not easy for me.  So as I think and write, I'm just praying that instead of just seeing faults in others, I will look at myself, and see my own plank.

A local ministry has just finished a new building.  Instead of being a cornerstone for its organization, graceful and classy, it has become a multi million dollar monstrosity.  I've driven by it a couple of times recently and each time, I just shake my head.  I'm sure those involved use justifications like, "Well, it's a quality facility that will be utilized by men & women preparing for ministry for years!" &  "Countless people all over the world will be impacted by the men and women encountering God in this very building."  And I'm sure the justifications go on and on.  Because this wasn't just one person's idea.  There were lots of board members and donors who thought this was a good idea.  But sometime between the concept and completion, things went horribly wrong.  It is tasteless and over the top expensive.

A good friend was visiting the area this summer and had just finished listening to another ministry share the reality that pastors and families are starving in Sierra Leone.  Personal friends.  No money. No food.  Then my friend went for a drive past this other ministry and this new building.  Her heart broke.  Somehow, we have become immune to the cries from the poor and helpless and have become convinced that we NEED  all of this stuff in North America to minister.

This is where it becomes me being reflective.  How much stuff do I need when the poor and the helpless are crying out just for food... rice... not even fun food like ice cream... just food.  And what are my justifications?  Well, we're spending a boat load of money on our adoption.  We faithfully give to our church.  I throw money at special projects, every once in a while.  I need to have fun.  Even God wants me to be entertained, doesn't he?  My house will minister to my neighbors, and friends.  I don't want to be embarressed.  We only have one vehicle.  My husband takes the bus to work for crying out loud.   Talk about sacrifice!  I have one son in university and another child will join in a year.  It all takes money.

Yes, it does all take money.  But somehow, I have to close my ears and eyes to all of the stuff that consumes me.  The stuff that is shouting out to me.  I need to listen to God.  I need to tune in to the hurting all over the world.  I don't need to live in guilt.  I just need to walk with God.  I have to hear and listen to His voice.  

Lord, consume me with your fire.  Drown out the false voices all around me.  Help me to hear you and you alone.

Monday, July 21, 2008

We're out!!!!

We just received the news that our file is out of IBESR.  We have received permission to adopt Peterson & Gaëlle, even with our 3 biological children.  Whew.  I am just so happy.  I can't believe the emotion.  Each step seems monumental.  As though I've labored so hard for the past 7 months.  The only thing I've been able to do is pray, and wait.  No physical work, but it sure has seemed hard.

Unfortunately, there is bad news.  According to our orphanage, "Parquet will be closed from the end of July through October. We do not know why or exactly the dates but I will be in touch later this week to let our families know exactly what is going on. I believe that Parquet will work to get out the dossiers that are in there right now, but they have not promised us anything."

But there's a part of me that doesn't believe it.  Oh sure, they say they'll be closed, but something else will happen and they'll start processing files before October.  That's the Pollyana in me.

Purple slingshot

What do you get when you take a lycra tube and 4 teen girls?  A purple slingshot.  Fun, fun, fun.

She's growing up

I went and visited my little girl this weekend.  She was having a break between camps.  Yes, that's right... she's working at camp.  How did this happen?  I ask myself that all the time.  Where did the time go?  

Needless to say, she's having a blast.  She's making new friends and interacting with lots of little kids.  She's staying up late having spiritual talks.  And, oh look, she's ignoring her mom as she heads back to her little island.  

Monday, July 14, 2008


I have long wanted to read the autobiography of Jean-Robert Cadet, Restavec: From Haitian Slave Child to Middle-Class American
I finally got the chance and what an emotional journey.  My senses are still reeling and I've had a few days now to process it.

Jean-Robert or Bobby, as he was called, lived his entire childhood as a restavec.  According to his own definition, " a slave child".  He states that restavecs are treated worse than slaves because they don't cost anything and their supply seems inexhaustible.  Poor families in far away villages think this is a way for their children to have a better life.  Often education is promised but rarely delivered.

Jean-Robert had a wealthy father and a poor mother who worked in one of his factories.  After his mother's death he was left with his father's current lover to raise.  A baby.  Defenseless.  Treated worse than a slave.  

His story is one of cruelty, hatred, and fear.  Hated by those around him.  Cruelly forced to work at an early age.  Sporadic schooling.  Never allowed to interact with the people around him.  And always wondering if he would be beaten to death like others he knew or taken to the police for some infraction.    

After each horrific episode of his life is recounted, I just felt despair for all the Haitian children caught up in this life, and loathing for the Haitians that accept this as perfectly acceptable.  But I soon realized that the North American way is not a rosebed either.  We have our own prejudices and faults which Cadet faces when he follows his "family" to the US.

Here he finishes high school and finally separates himself from his restavec status.  But the damage is done.  He is physically and emotionally scarred.  With perseverence against incredible odds, he finishes high school, joins the army, becomes a ranger, finishes several college degrees, and gets married.  Ah, life should be perfect, but along the way, he is rejected by white and black peers, paid less than white peers, unable to maintain healthy friendships, and consumed with rage.

Jean-Robert Cadet's accomplishments are remarkable.  However, I think his ability to face each day, to just put one foot in front of the other, is the most remarkable accomplishment of all.

Friday, July 11, 2008

What if it's a scam?

I was explaining to somebody where we are in the adoption process.  He deeply cares for our family and when I explained that IBESR has the authority to accept or reject our family for international adoption, he asked, "So, what would happen if they rejected you?  Would you lose all your money?"

"Well, yeah.  That's one thing that would happen."

"So, what if it's a scam?"

"I am positive that we are not being scammed."

But, how in the world do I convey that to other people who are not immersed in this adoption world?  How do I let them know that I have absolute faith in my orphanage?  

We have all read stories of well respected agencies where things are perfect and above board and then huge problems develop.  So how can I have such confidence in the facilitators I have chosen?

I don't think there's a simple way to get that across.  I know this person cares about us, and if he had mentioned any other kind of loss other than the bottom line, I may have sat down and gone through all of the reasons for my faith in our process.  But as it was, I just dropped the issue.

Because quite honestly, if we are rejected by IBESR, money is the last thing I will be crying over.  The loss of 2 children that I consider my children would be devastating.  I wish I could send more money to our orphanage.  Their compassion and their love and their persistence and vision for caring for children humbles me.  I'm looking forward to sharing all our love.

Healthy eating

For the past 2 summers Emily has worked full time at camp, which was a great experience but it did have its limitations.  She had significant weight gains both summers.  And it wasn't from canteen food.  She spent less than $5 at the canteen both summers.  We're still not sure why she gained... we have theories, but who really knows.

So this summer she decided to get a concrete plan in place.  We looked at all kinds of websites and talked with my dad (PhD in nutrition) and came up with a plan of action.  She has a list of foods that she will try to keep in stock and she can draw from for meals and snacks.  A bit tricky at times because as a counselor she is supposed to eat with campers and she doesn't want to look finicky.

Anyway,  I picked up my son yesterday from the same camp, and so I loaded up with her healthy food.  Lots of dark veggies and fruits,  fish,  fortified cereal, etc.  There was one odd looking food item in my cart.  Because of my long road trip, I decided to treat myself to my guilty pleasure...

Mrs. Dunsters Doughnuts.  Mmmm.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Mistress's Daughter

I love summer for so many reasons, but one thing I love is my ability to read more than usual.  I don't have any grand reading plan but I am continually drawn towards adoption stories.  Yesterday was no exception.  Writer A.M. Homes was adopted an an infant and at the age of 31 was contacted by her birth mother.  The Mistress's Daughter
chronicles the relationship or lack of relationship she has with her birth parents.

This memoir pulled me in and I easily finished the book in an evening.  However, it left me with many unanswered questions and many uneasy feelings.  In a way,  I think that may have been her goal.  Her entire life was full of unanswered questions.  Even when her biological parents became known to her, those unanswered questions just became multiplied, not satisfied.  It is with pain and unease that she realizes her biological mother has never been able to overcome the relinquishment of her baby girl nor the betrayal of the much older man that she was involved with for 7 years.  Her mother stalks her and demands more of her than she is able to give.  Her mother is not a stable person.  Could this be her destiny?

Her biological father strings her along for 2 years, much like he strung her mother along, meeting her in out of the way places and never including her in family events.  Then he discards her and eventually refuses an innocuous request of hers.  

Homes is a fiction writer by trade and that is one aspect of this book that I didn't care for.  She spends a lot of time using her imagination to create detailed fantasies.  Again, maybe that was intentional to show how much of her life was fantasy.  She just didn't know.  So she created.  Her entire life she compared her adoptive families to other families and they just never measured up.  In a way, that's typical of many people.  The old saying, "The grass is greener on the other side of the fence," calls out to many of us at different points in our life.  However, I think the pain an adoptee feels at not knowing "who he is" must be deep and fierce.  

Homes closes with, "Did I choose to be found?  No.  Do I regret it?  No.  I couldn't not know."  

And that is probably the strongest message I'll take from this book.  My adoptive kids need to know "who they are".  I hope to show them their strong identity in Christ.  Being a child of the King is powerful.  But I cannot discount their biological identity.  I will do all I can to help them remember and stay connected to their biological family.  They deserve to know.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Still purging, but not this

Still taking my time and unpacking boxes.  I took this out of the box today and promptly put it in its place.  My Great Aunt Dot crocheted this with odds and ends of yarn and gave it to me.  She did this when she was in her 80's and her hands were severely deformed by arthritis.

I wish I had taken note of the date.  I wish I knew exactly how old she was.  I wish I had a picture of her hands.  She always wished she had taken pictures of all the things she created.  She gave almost everything she made away.  I have a couple of her treasures.  Things she made when her hands and mind were nimble.  And this lap blanket she made when her hands were no longer nimble but she couldn't stand to sit still and do nothing.  I think I like this the best of all.  This will not go in the yard sale.  

Shades of grey

4 summers ago painting everything in sight.

This summer going from grey to green.

Our new house is a little limited on color.  There's only one... grey.  Yes, every wall is painted grey.  We have spent a few summers painting.  4 years ago we moved into our house and promptly set about painting.  That first summer we did the living room, entrance, hallway, 2 bedrooms, and 1 bathroom.  The kitchen was a fall project.  Then it was the master bedroom and last summer we painted the entire basement.  Whew!!!

With a brand new house, it's kind of hard to get motivated to paint.  It's so fresh and clean.  It's just a little grey.  

But, we promised Kaylin that she could have her room painted right away.  Robin started on that this weekend.  It looks really sharp and Robin is actually keen on doing other rooms.  But I'm a little too practical for that.  I hate to waste the money and the time when the walls are so new and fresh.  

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Just the 3 of us

For the past 2 summers it's just been the 3 of us... mom, dad, child.  The other kids have been away working at camp.  But other years, Kaylin has had friends to break up the monotony of just mom and dad.  Not this year.  It's just us.  So far.  And we're having fun.  Well, sort of.  When Kaylin was a toddler she loved being an only child.  She loved those rare times and all of the attention.  Now she's missing her siblings.  Ah...

Today's adventure was the farmer's market.  Great food, flowers, fair trade cocoa, and bitter coffee.  Next time, the plan is coffee ahead of time.  The day also brought really cute kids dancing to the hand puppets playing a tune on the piano.  A beautiful day which could have only been better with a friend, or a sister.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Burdened with stuff!!!

This move has highlighted something so clearly for Robin and myself.  We are loaded with stuff.  And we really feel the weight of it this time around.  It just feels like a huge burden.  

Every time we move we purge, purge, purge.  I know that we do and yet there is still so much junk that gets packed.  Because we are fortunate enough to have professionals pack and move us,  we don't bother trying to get rid of the stuff until we unpack.  Then we go through and throw out or give away.  Sometimes we try to sell.

That's where I am right now.  Going through our junk and setting it aside or throwing it out.  And it's such a weight on me, but it doesn't stop me from accumulating more stuff.

We're in a new house, so we went out Saturday and bought towel bar holders, tp holders, mirrors, etc.  And what about perfectly coordinated bathrooms.  Need new mats and shower curtains.  Which brings me to curtains and blinds and... It just never ends.

It's too much.  I'm trying hard to weigh my needs agains my wants and to stop with all of this stuff.  This time around it just isn't fun.   

141 years and counting

We celebrated Canada Day in our new home.  It's always strange when you're in a new community and you expect traditions and events to be the same, but they aren't.  After all, it's Canada Day.  For the past 4 years we've done this... fill in the blank with all the old familiar activities.  But we're in a new place and there will be new activities.

We headed out the door to see what we could find.  Nothing in our own community so we went down the street to Halifax.  It was hot which is much better than rainy.  And the families were out in full force.  We decided that Canada Day festivities really are geared towards children.  Which is fine, but I couldn't convince my child to walk through the giant blown up shark with me.  Maybe next year.  We said that a few times.  Maybe next year we'll be able to enjoy all of this with Gaëlle and Peterson.  

We did have a true Canadian experience... a beaver tail.  I love those deep fried cinnamon treats.  And we walked and just enjoyed the day.  We didn't stay for fireworks, tho.  Kaylin just didn't have it in her.  She really missed her friends and it wouldn't be the same.  So we didn't venture out for the late night fireworks.  Maybe next year.