Sunday, January 30, 2011

"Welcome to California"

So, here's the update so far: the drive wasn't too bad. The first day was full of LOTS of "How many more minutes?" We tried to convince Carson that he needed to start thinking in HOURS. For some reason, he kept saying "Welcome to California!" But both days we were able to stop at a rest stop and have our picnic lunch. The first day we had gorgeous weather and we ran around and Trent even played some ball with the kids. It was a great break. We all look a little worse for wear since we got up at 3:30 am and got straight into the car!

Little port-a-potties? Genius! That stretch between Sacramento and the Grapevine is torture--not very many clean stops. :)
First stop?
We're spending the weekend with my aunt & uncle who live near the beach. We had gorgeous weather yesterday and had a blast hanging out and building sand castles.
The 2 architects...

Tomorrow we're off to the happy place on earth! Gonna go pack our picnic lunches!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Oh dear.

Wondering how our first day of road trip was? Nope. You'll have to endure a post about my hair first. My hair was getting long-ish and everyday was ponytail day, so I chopped it off. Actually, I had my sweet hairstylist chop it off. But something happened between her chair and the real world. See, I left the salon looking like this: Hahaha! Ok, not at ALL like that (minus the beautiful white teeth, highlights, tan skin, etc.), but I FELT close to that the way Sara styled me. But then when I took a shower and tried to do it myself, it looks a lot more like this:

Pictures to come. I'm not ready to present it to the world just yet.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Just so you know: we know.

If anyone was reminded of a FRIENDS episode by my post title ("They don't KNOW we know they know we know!") then I like you a little extra right now.

OK, I've been talking so much about money lately, even I'M tired of hearing about it. But one more brief interlude before some road trip posts.

First, I just want to tell you that we only get updates from Lifesong every couple of weeks. We got one today. WHOA. Our friends and family are pitching together and those donations of $20, $25, $50, $100? They are adding UP! I don't want to give away any numbers until our push is over (March 1st), but I just want to say THANK YOU to each of you who have been able to give. My goal is to personally contact each family and let you know how much we appreciate it. Maybe not all by mail (since we just paid $100 in postage to send OUT the letters) but at least e-mail.

Second, I just want to say to a LARGE group of people in my life: WE KNOW that you are not able to give financially. We know and we understand and we don't care. The word "support" gets tossed around a lot, and like the word "love" it has lots of meanings. There are so many ways that people are supporting us in this endeavor, this unique journey to our third child. And financially happens to be one way--a needed way, but only a piece of the puzzle. We could not be doing this without the prayers, the comments, the questions, the time, the energy, the help--so many different ways our support system (there's that word again) is THERE FOR US.

Two quotes from two different people have stood out to me lately. One friend said, after she got our letter: "I've never heard of anyone raising support for an adoption like they do for a mission trip. But WHY NOT!?" I know it is surprising to some people and may catch you off guard. I'm ashamed to say that I was asked to give to an adoption several years ago and I didn't. Know why? I was embarrassed that I had maybe $15 and that it wouldn't make a difference. I know now that was lack of faith and also? Incorrect!

The other comment was from a woman in the community when I spoke with her about a fundraiser. When I told her the "cause" she said "Really? I always assumed international adoption was only for the independently wealthy."

"Me too!" I said. "But it's not."

Together, we are proving that assumption WRONG! Adoption is for any family that wants to love a child and be obedient to God's call to care for the fatherless. The end.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Very Good"

When I was in a singing group in college, we would travel around the country and eventually come around to each member's hometown for a few days. I loved when I got to bring the gang back to my house and meet my parents and sing for my church. My girlfriends that stayed at our house picked up quickly on a little phrase that my dad says a lot in conversation: "Very good!" He's a pretty positive and supportive person, and he just had lots of reason to say it!

Well, after the hot mess that was last week, this week I'm feeling like giving a happy sigh and saying "Very Good!" Here's a few reasons.

First, many of you long time readers know Rory and Lee, dear high school friends of mine. They have a HUGE passion for adoption and have been overwhelming in their support of ours. I knew they had started the adoption process twice before and then became pregnant! So I was not shocked to learn that they have decided to adopt! This announcement less than 2 months after their 4th daughter was born. :) Yep. People are going to think they are crazy. People are going to CALL them crazy. And I have ZERO doubt that they? Will. Not. Care. This is a family who follows God's leading NO MATTER WHAT. I'm so excited for them! Rory is a great blogger, but hers is not public. I KNOW if you leave a comment on this post with your email address, she'll invite you to the blog and you can follow along on their process.

Then, over Cmas break, I got a call from a good friend of mine here in town that they were strongly considering adoption. As she told me about how God had been working--no BREAKING their hearts for the cause of caring for orphans, I could not stop grinning, even as tears were falling down my cheeks. See, Amy and Josh were DONE with having kids. Done, done, done! We all knew this. They have several friends who have or are adopting, many of them are doing so after being unable to have biological kids. She said "I've seen adoption as a logical and wonderful way to have a child. I never thought of adoption as simply: obedience to God." I remember that feeling so strongly, pretty much exactly one year ago, when I had an almost physical heaviness about this same thing. The consuming sense that "My child is THERE and I need to bring him home." I could relate so well to what they were feeling, and praising God that He had moved the hearts of both husband AND wife. We finally got to sit down yesterday and talk and encourage and cry and talk about the scary cost, and I had the feeling I had when I was pregnant and one of my friends was pregnant too. I'm so excited to walk this path with them! You can follow along at Amy's new blog:

Oh and also? BOTH Rory's family and Amy's family are adopting a baby from Ethiopia through All God's Children International!

Then, lastly, a moment of full disclosure: we are going to Disneyland. This week. I haven't wanted to make a big deal about it, because the timing is not ideal: asking everyone for money to support our adoption while we party at the Happiest Place on Earth. The coincidence was accidental. So, "lemme 'splain." Many months ago, Trent and I decided we wanted to take one last special trip with our 2 kids--our last vacation as a family of four. Next year, it will be ALL about going to Thailand, and I know every last penny will go toward that. The focus will be HEAVY on child #3. We wanted this memory for Carson and Sydney and to celebrate them. Some very special friends gifted us timeshare points so we have lodging. For Christmas we asked for money for Disneyland passes. We took that gift money, along with a small honorarium I got for speaking at the women's retreat and it covered our tickets. Then I got 7 sub jobs in one month (I usually get 1 or 2). We are absolutely not taking a penny from our own family money that has been set aside for adoption fees. We are only paying for gas and food, and we're taking our collapsible cooler and bringing our picnic lunch into Dland every day! It's "Disney on a Dime." I may write an advice column about it afterwards. ;)

So, having said that: we are EXCITED! We've been looking at the website every day and pumping the kids up. (Mainly Carson.) We've collected all our coloring books, DVD's and snacks to prepare for the 2 day drive (both ways). We leave on Thursday morning at 4am. I considered just not blogging about it at all, in order to avoid offending our generous and gracious friends who are, perhaps as I write this, writing checks to help us bring our baby home. But then someone pointed out to me that the gracious and generous friends who joyfully want to help our Thai baby also do that because they love us. And they'll understand.

Thank you for understanding, for giving, for praying, and stay tuned for some ridonculously adorable pictures of my first 2 children.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Take a deep breath, self.

I did not intend for that fundraising post to stay up that long. Sorry if that seemed like some passive-aggressive blogging. ;) This has been...just...a week, ifyaknowhwhatimean. The calendar showed that LAST week was the busy one--I worked three days and had several trips to Portland I had to make, some playdates, appointments, helping at our old church on Sunday am. But then last Sunday, Carson voluntarily...took a NAP. If you know Carson, this is extremely rare and a sure sign of something being amiss. I cringed, b/c this week was also supposed to be pretty busy, with me working 2 days.

I'll save you the play by play (actually, I started typing it out, but the ins and outs of the health drama were just too depressing), but the kids have been off and on sick with fevers and strange symptoms since then. (I'm feeling especially sheepish, b/c on Thursday morning I thought all was well and took them out and about and played with other kids! Ugh. I'm THAT mom, spreading germs.) I talked to the on-call nurse 5 times this week. We took 2 trips to the pediatrician and have 2 sets of antibiotics for Syd's ragin' ear infection and Carson's strep. We have not had a good night sleep since Sunday. I really, really miss sleep. During the day everything seems OK, then at night these 2 little monsters disguised as my children plot against us to cry, whine, pee, vomit, moan, walk, talk....ANYTHING but sleep. I, clearly, am harbouring some ill will. I need to work on that whole maternal compassion thing.

But today I really think we're turning a corner. (FYI, I've said this every day since Wednesday.) Antibiotics have been going for a couple days now, I got a pedicure (yeah!), Carson and Trent get to go to a Blazer game, and I can go to sleep as early as I want and no other adults will know about it to make fun of me. Here's hopin for a fresh start, a GOOD night, and, call me crazy, no more copays to make this week.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Here goes....everything.

Since we sent in our application to Holt last March, we knew this week was coming. We knew that at some point we would have to come to pretty much everyone we know and ask them, point blank, if they could help us financially afford this adoption. To be honest, that realization was a hindrance to fully committing to the process. It makes me a little nauseus still.

As I pictured what it would be like to be so vulnerable and present ourselves and our need to people, I wondered how everyone would respond. No, actually, I wondered what everyone would THINK. I've fretted off and on about that for 1o months. But also? During that 10 months, we've had to do some lower-scale fundraising. (You know, $8,000, as oppose to $20,000. Everything has become relative!) And I have been floored over and over by the generosity,the support and the graciousness that has been shown to us. My faith was so small when we jumped over that ledge last March. I imagined only our closest friends and families would give, and even then possibly out of obligation. Never could I have dreamed the various people in our lives that have given so abundantly and so JOYFULLY.

So now, we've decided to just go for it. To ask everyone and anyone we know. Instead of me sitting at home with my address labels, trying to decide if this person or that person would be able to give, would be offended by the question, would be interested in this "cause," I'm not deciding for anyone. We're going to let YOU decide that! If I have your address or access to your address, you probably have or will receive the letter below. But I come to you, as my blog readers and present our request before you. I love when I hear about a surprise reader. A new friend, an old friend I've lost contact with, an acquaintance. YOU. Yes, YOU! This letter is for you.

We found out this week that we did NOT get the third and final grant we applied for. This one mass fundraising push and a garage sale are the only plans we have left to cover our remaining costs. (We are prepared and planning to take out a loan.) So, here goes...everything! If you have questions or would like an addressed, stamped envelope sent to you, email me: jen_tompkins[at]comcast[dot]net.

Dear Friends and Family,

As we enter this new year of 2011, we’re filled with excitement, because we are looking forward to the addition of another family member in the Tompkins house! Many of you know that we are in the process of adopting a baby from Thailand. The journey is long and fairly unpredictable, but we’ve been told that we will probably be matched to OUR child this summer and bring him or her home at the beginning of 2012.

Our adoption story truly began years ago, when those carefree newlyweds Trent and Jen discussed a shared interest in adopting internationally at some point. After our daughter Sydney was born in 2008, we decided to pursue it more purposefully. However, we were stopped in our tracks by the financial burden, ranging between $25,000 and $40,000! We sadly set aside our plan, thinking it was just not feasible.

Then last January, a severe and devastating earthquake struck Haiti. Due to a variety of circumstances, we were especially heartsick with grief and despair over this particular catastrophe. We began hearing with new ears and seeing with new eyes the extreme need for godly adoptive parents and the overwhelming statistics of orphans, both in Haiti and around the globe. That tragic event was a catalyst for the Lord to speak to us—more clearly than I can possibly recount—that His will in our lives was to open our home and our family to a child who needed and deserved nothing less than a secure home and a loving family. Both Trent and I agreed that we were frightened about the monetary cost, but that we had an unbelievable peace that we were being called to adopt. We chose together to TRUST our great God, to be obedient, and to make this leap of faith. Over and over, we felt Him telling us: “You will not be in this alone.”

Although it was not possible to apply for adoption from Haiti in those following months, for us it was not specifically about having a Haitian-born child. It was the fact that we wanted to love a third child, and that child did not need to be grown in my tummy! We fell in love with the Thailand program of Holt International and have experienced nothing but confirmation and support from both Holt and our families as we have begun our journey.

One aspect of the adoption process that has been a bit hard to swallow is the humbling nature of asking for help. And yet? We do need help! We are willing to humble ourselves as we keep our eye on the goal of bringing our baby home. Over the last year we have seen support in a vast variety of forms come flying at us, and the givers of time, money and prayers have given with such joy! It truly does feel like our little Thai baby is being welcomed by an ARMY of God’s people, imprinting themselves on our hearts and our baby’s life forever.

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!” Ephesians 3:20-21

Would you consider being a part of our child’s story? There are two primary ways that you can help.

We covet your prayers for our precious child, whose name and face are not yet known to us. Pray for health, safety and a loving, secure foster home while he or she awaits the finalized adoption. We also request prayers for our child’s birth mother, as choosing an adoption plan for her child must have been the most agonizing decision of her life. We will be connected to her and cherish her always. And lastly, we desire prayers for our current family, especially Carson and Sydney, as they anticipate the life-changing transition to a newly adopted sibling!

We have approximately $20,000 left to pay in agency fees, legal fees and travel expenses. Will you consider making a tax-deductable donation to help us pay these remaining costs? We have learned that even small amounts add up very quickly towards a large goal! Any amount you could give would be so appreciated.

Lifesong for Orphans ( has graciously set up a fundraising account for us. If you would like to be a part of bringing our Thai baby home forever, you can send your tax-deductible gift between now and March 1st to the address below. Lifesong is a trusted organization administering the funds on our behalf, and will pay adoption expenses out of funds received. They have guaranteed that 100% of the donations will be placed in our account; none will be taken out for administrative costs.

1. Please make checks payable to:
Lifesong for Orphans. You can preference how the donation will be used by writing “preference Tompkins #1664 Adoption” in the memo section of your check.
(*Note: In following IRS guidelines, we must say that your donation is to Lifesong which retains full discretion and control over its use, but intends to honor the donor’s suggested use.)

2. Mail checks to:
Lifesong for Orphans
Attn: Tompkins #1664 Adoption
PO Box 40
Gridley, IL 61744

3. You can also pay online through Paypal by going to Lifesong’s donation page: Scroll down and click on the yellow “DONATE” button, and be sure to clarify your donation purpose: TOMPKINS #1664 Adoption

Thank you for considering an eternal investment in the life of an orphan—soon to be our future kiddo. We’ll give you an update with details and a picture of our little guy or girl as soon as we can. It is our prayer that this entire process will be for HIS glory!

In His Grace,

Jen, Trent, Carson and Sydney T.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

An unfortunate parenting coincidence

In the last month, I've been working myself up a bit about Carson starting kindergarten next year. I'm not usually this weepy, "oh my sweet baby is growing up so fast" type of mom, but we've all got it inside of us and the looming kindergarten registration is pulling up the crazy, nice and strong. Part of it is just plain old mama-bear worried about her cub going to "big school" (even though in truth I feel like first grade is when they really cross that threshold). But another part of it is that we've come to the conclusion that we can't afford to keep Carson at the sweet little private school he attends now. Where most of his preschool friends will be attending next year. Where we know the teachers, the campus, the parking lot, the curriculum, the principal, etc. I used to claim that I had no bias toward small Christian schools, even after attending one for 12 years, but guess what? I do. I wish my son could stay at that school, but we just plain old don't have the cash, especially with another (wonderful!) situation going on in our lives. Maybe you've heard? ;) So I had a little pity party, bucked up, and started looking into our wonderful local public school. I don't say that with sarcasm. It really sounds like a great school, and we happen to be friends with one of the kindergarten aides, whom I will be paying to conduct covert ops to check on my son daily.

But still? He will probably take the bus. THE BUS. Say WHA?!?! Didn't he just master the tricycle last week? Cut his first tooth last month? It feels that way. I definitely think my anxiety has much more to do with the "growing up" aspect of this milestone that the actual LOCATION.

Meanwhile, in seemingly unrelated news, one of my loosely formed new year's resolutions was to read through some "classics" that I, the English Lit Major, have never read. In particular, I want to read some works that are a part of the suggested Oregon high school curriculum of which I am familiar, but not knowledgeable. So, I got on my trusty (awesome site, btw) and snagged The Great Gatsby and Lord of the Flies to start with.

Um, yeah. Have ya READ Lord of the Flies? I'm not halfway through, so maybe I should have waited to post this, but so far it is about a plane full of boys, ages 6-ish to 12ish, who are being evacuated from Britain during the war, and their plane crashes on an island. NO adults survive, just a bunch of unruly, crass boys. These BOYS proceed to run around mostly naked, trying to "rule" each other, fight with each other, figure out leadership hierarchies, provide shelter, food, etc. But all I keep thinking about are the "littluns" on the island, these 6 year olds (the exact age my son will be 3 weeks into kindergarten), whom none of the older boys seem to have ANY inclination to protect, comfort or nurture. They are ignored at best, bullied at worst. Yeah. It's quite the "feel good" read for a young mother. I imagine most sophomores in high school don't have the emotional complications I have when reading about Ralph, Jack and Percival.

Needless to say, my mind is forming some uncomfortable and involuntary comparisons between my precious "littlun" and the big, bad world of older kids he is going to embark upon. Are the big kids who think they are boss going to throw rocks at him? Make fun of him if he cries? What if he wants me and I'm not there? Oh good grief, I can work myself into a COMPLETE TIZZY!

In a much better coincidence, tonight I was in the car and I heard an interview with a man who was trapped in an elevator after his hotel in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, collapsed. He was fairly certain he was going to die there, and began to process that. He said first he had to figure out his relationship with God, knowing they would soon be face to face. He felt confident in his faith in Christ, asked forgiveness for his sins and accepted this fate, if it was God's plan for him. But he said what was much harder was letting go of his worry and fear for his family. He wondered how they could survive without him, and the thought caused him physical pain. But then he realized that if was willing to trust God with his own life, he needed to trust God with the lives of his wife and children. He needed to not place so much importance on himself and believe that God was bigger than this man, this earthly father, and would take care of his family. He wept as he described this thought process, and I wept listening to it.

Something that I KNOW in my heart, but have difficulty practicing is this: I cannot parent out of fear. I cannot make decisions and spend my time fretting over the "what ifs" and worse-case-scenarios. I must do my best to protect and prepare. I can never give up or let down or get lazy on my end of this job--this raising of little people. But I also shouldn't get so high-and-mighty thinking that I'm the only one who can keep them safe and happy--let alone if being safe and happy all the livelong day is the best thing for them! (I know it's not.)

So. We're preparing for the bus. For nice kids and mean kids. For the fun that is kindergarten. For being a light for Jesus. But I tell you what: if he so much as MENTIONS a conch shell? I'm homeschooling.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

One Year

It has been one year since the devastating earthquake hit Haiti. I still cannot fully explain WHY this tragedy affected me so greatly. I know it was partly because I had been to Haiti, fallen in love with the people myself several years earlier. I know it was partly because my friend Kristen was there with her infant daughter, visiting her son who they did not have approval to bring home from Haiti. When I read about the earthquake online, I immediately thought of her and panicked that it seemed no one had heard from her. I know it was partly because I had several friends in Haiti on a mission trip, to the same compound I had stayed at myself. One of them is my age and had young children back at home. But I also know it was partly because God chose that day and that disaster to stir in mine and Trent's hearts. He used the situations and conversations and news stories that came out of that day to open our eyes to His will for our life, and asked us to trust His faithfulness even through our fear and even after such devastation. Two months after the earthquake, almost to the day, we sent in our application to adopt a child from Thailand.

Since January 12, 2010, THIS BLOG has been my newsline to Haiti and the horror and hope that is so inexplicably mixed. I encourage you to read Tara's post today, including her recount of one year ago. I'm sure you won't be able to look away, and I beg you to be praying for Haiti.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Part 2 of maybe I haven't screwed them up beyond hope

I wrote this on Facebook, but for those of you who don't have a FB account or don't check it, I will repost here. Plus, after The Lockout, I feel like I need to tell some positive stories about Mr. C.

On Sunday night we were watching America's Funniest Home Videos with Carson, and during a commercial my mind was wandering. Then he looked up at me very seriously, but with one eyebrow raised and said: "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"

I snapped back into the moment, and unless he was planning meals for the week, figuring out a way to get the stain out of Sydney's shirt and trying to remember when the Golden Globes are on, NO we weren't thinking the same thing.

"I don't know. What are you thinking?" I said.

"We NEED to give some shoes to those foster kids."

Then I realized that he had just seen a Sleep Country USA commercial that talks about collecting shoes for foster kids in Oregon. I hugged him and told him that was a very compassionate thought to have and that we would definitely get some shoes to give. I read online that they need to be new, so we are going to buy one pair and donate a new pair of Nike's that Carson got from his uncle, but that don't quite fit him yet.

I was very proud of my little man and his steps towards empathy for others. The next day when we were discussing the shoes, I asked him if he knew who foster kids were.

"Yeah," he answered. "Kids without shoes."

Weeeeelllllll....not exactly, but I gave him a very simplified version of the term and just decided to leave well enough alone. Then I thanked God that my sweet son is so fortunate that he has an EXTRA pair of new shoes to donate and that he lives such a safe, secure life that he doesn't even know the term "foster." Life is unfair, and right now we're heavy on the blessing end.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Why I busted out the Ugly Cry on Christmas morning

There's nothing like a really, really good Christmas morning surprise. You've been a part of one, haven't you? Either on the giving or the receiving end--both are just a ball of giddy excitement. Well, I was on the "opening" end this year and I still have goose-bumps.
See, with our families, we usually exchange gifts around the $25-$35 range. We usually make lists, get something we hoped for, it's awesome. Sometimes someone throws in a sentimental gift and gets the "awwww!" factor. Or they go off list just for fun. When I saw a special gift tag for our whole family, I thought it might be a cute picture frame or something about Thailand. The accompanying note was to Thai Baby, and it said this gift was for him/her, wishing that all our relatives could be there when Mommy and Daddy meet you, hopefully they'll take some pictures.
When I tore back the particularly nice wrapping paper, I saw the word REBEL and, in all honesty, my heart skipped a beat. I'm sure my eyes got huge. But then I had this coversation in my head in .6 seconds: "Calm down, Jen. Get real. They used this box to put your ACTUAL gift inside. Don't embarass them by thinking for a second that the picture on the box is what's actually inside." But then I opened more and I saw the box was sealed. Professionally. Then I confirmed and saw the word CANON. And I'm not sure what came out of my mouth, but I remember sobbing and thinking "NO! NO! I CAN'T TAKE THIS!"
It was a strange feeling, this simultaneous euphoria that the gift of my dreams was in my lap with my name on it and also the nausea of knowing the approximate price tag. I'm not kidding--if you had asked me anytime this fall what physical object I wanted more than anything in the world, it would have been a DSLR camera. But Trent and I discussed that it just was NOT going to happen. Broken computer, broken sump-pump, car payments, tuition, adoption fees, California trip, LIFE expenses--just did not leave room or justification for this luxury. Practice contentment, I told myself.
"We know you wouldn't buy this for yourself," they said. "It's our way of supporting your family and your adoption," they said. "We got a smokin' hot deal," they said. "Take really good pictures of our new neice or nephew," they said. And I looked at these two people, who know me and love me so very well, who know and appreciate how precious family pictures are, and I was just speechless with gratitude and love. Oh, how I love picturing the day when I'm snapping away shots of our little Peanut in Bangkok on this new camera and sending them thousands of miles away to a beaming auntie and uncle. Love, love, love you guys. It's taken a few weeks to accept it--and I probably won't ever understand such a generous token, but I KNOW I'll never forget the feeling of being on the receiving end of a really, REALLY good Christmas morning surprise. :) I don't know if I can every say "thank you" enough.
PS: Trent's first words I remember were [deadpan]: "I'm never going to get to touch that, am I?" My response, through my tears [equally deadpan]: "Not for a very, VERY long time."
I've got so much to learn about what my, er, OUR camera can do, but it's not gonna stop me from playing around right away. Here's the first round of shots taken of one of my favorite subjects on a morning with just the girls:

This one's my fave.

So just maybe I haven't screwed them up beyond hope.

After an especially loud, violent and emotional screaming, scratching and hitting match (btw, both parties were fighting dirty--neither was more or less to blame) over a remote-control Strawberry Shortcake car, an angry mama put two angry kids in angry time-outs. When they had served their time, I quietly opened the doors to their rooms. A few minutes later, Carson came out and said he needed me to write some words on a card (we do this a lot) but he wouldn't need a stamp because it was "for someone already in this house." I patiently waited as he dictated. He finished the card with a ballerina drawing--in case you didn't recognize it immediately--sealed it in an envelope and hand delivered it with a hug. Thank you, Lord, for this sweet little miracle moment. I needed it today!

The Golden Ticket

More good news! We got our I797C! Don't worry, 10 months ago, that wouldn't have meant anything to me, either. Basically, it's THE paper we needed to be ready for a referral. We filed the I-800A, which asks the US to approve us as adoptive parents, to say that we're cool to adopt a baby from a Hague Convention country. We got fingerprinted by Homeland Security, and now we are approved to be matched with a child of either geneder, under 18 months at time of referral and under 3 years at time of taking custody.

Just to be clear, referral is when we are matched with a child. We'll get pictures and a name and some medical information. This will happen probably this June. This will be a HUGE. DEAL! This is NOT when we travel to Thailand and get to bring our baby home. That will take another 9-10 months of paperwork between both countries. The Thai gov has to approve US as the child's parents, saying we can take the child out of Thailand, and the US gov has to approve THIS specific child, saying we can bring him/her into the US. Apprently this can not take place on over email. ;)

The other evening I was tearing up as I told Trent about this family's surprise referral of a baby girl right before Christmas. Carson's ears perked up and he looked over with wide eyes and said "What? Are we getting a girl?" We said, no, we're talking about another family. "Oh, okay," he said with a smile. "But don't forget: I want a baby brother." :) Noted.

Sunday, January 02, 2011


I've alluded to The Lockout several times on the blog, but never got around to telling you blog peeps about it. I'm not going to lie, it was a pivotal moment in my parenting of the C-dawg, and part of the reason I didn't want to talk about it for a long time was that it still caused a bit of fire to come out of my eyes and ears just thinking about it. But around October I decided I would use it in my message at the women's retreat where I spoke. I had to whittle it down and yet refine the punchlines, so I practiced reciting this story several times. By the time Thanksgiving came around, I was using it as a charming anecdote at family gatherings. But I've never forgotten the emotions of that day and my shock at the sheer will and appalling guts of a then-four-year old. So, I apologize if you've already heard this story, but those of you who haven't (aka Shannan, who's been asking for it), here it is:

One lazy morning in August the kids were up EARLY and ate breakfast by 7am. By 8:50, Carson wanted a snack. None of us was dressed, and I figured this was a good motivator to get the day started, so I said he could have a snack when dressed. Cue: falling on the floor screaming and kicking at the unfairness of it all. When these melodramatic rants occur (which was almost daily this summer) I have a choice in how I handle it. This morning, I chose to completely ignore it. So, the schtick got louder, more dramatic, more violent--a sister passing by got a kick in the shins. A brother got a timeout.

But if you've been following along this here blog, you might remember that if Carson doesn't approve of being given a timeout (and why would he ever?) he just doesn't STAY in time out. I wrestle with him to get him to stay in the room long enough for me to close the door, then hold it closed for five minutes or until he calms down. Well, this morning, he never calmed down, and after five minutes I offered to help him get dressed. We got to the part where the clothes come OFF, but never got anything ON. Then he bolted. I was ticked. We have this CRAZY rule in our house that you have to wear at least underwear. I KNOW! I'm so mean. And now I was chasing a naked preschooler around the house and we were both angry. We ended up back in the bedroom, after he had clocked the sis on the way down the hall. Wrestling again, with me trying to get some Lightning McQueen underoos on this dang kid, and him swinging and kicking like a maniac. I know. It's ridiculous and insane. I am not saving space for my mother-of-the-year award. But that's what happened.

Sydney was crying and getting a little scared, so in the mayhem I made a split-second decision. I told Carson that Sydney and I were going to step out on the front porch to get some fresh air and try to calm down. See, I knew he wouldn’t go out there with no unders on, because he’s embarrassed for the neighbor girls to see him. And I was right. I was not 4 steps out the door when I though, “Hmmm, I should grab my ke—“ and CLICK. Carson had locked the deadbolt behind me. I was standing on my front porch with no keys, no phone, no shoes, no bra. In my PJ's.

I ran to our keypad, unlocked the garage door, but it took so long he had also locked the door from the garage to the house. I was in shock. At first I banged and screamed on both the front door and the garage door. (Fun moment when our neighbor Terry was getting into his truck and asked if I needed help. "OH no! Everything's fine!") Then I lapsed into about 10 minutes of silence. Figured I'd psych him out and he'd open up. I FIGURED WRONG. I peeked in the windows and listened at the doors. Nothing. So I alternated: quiet, freakish pounding and threats, then quiet.

Over 20 minutes (!) had passed, and the thought that someone whose bottom-wiping skills are mediocre-at-best was waltzing naked around my home and sitting on my furniture was enough to almost make me lose my ever-loving mind. I decided I needed to try the gate to the backyard, but I can't really reach the latch. So I got my huge rain boots out of the garage, put them on over my pj pants, and went to try to partially climb the fence to unlock the gate. As I’m struggling at the gate, I look into the window next to me and see my son. Sitting on the couch naked. Watching me. We made eye contact.

He stuck his tongue out at me.

Oh no he di’in’t.
I was in shock. I wanted to physically jump through the glass and throttle him, but also, this was the first contact he’d made—the first time he’d shown his face, and I felt like a hostage negotiator, who has to tread v-e-r-y c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y and calmly talk the crazed lunatic with the gun (and therefore all the power) into being reasonable. “Hey buddy,” I said quietly but firmly. “You need to open that door right. now.”
To be honest, I don't remember a lot of the details after that because it's all just a big angry red BLUR. Eventually, obviously, he let me in, he put on underwear and by the grace of God I didn't strangle him with my bare hands.

I don't know what you see as the moral of this story. I made some changes and made some calls that day and with the hubs chose some very comprehensive and long-lasting consequences. But here's my take-away and my advice to all parents of strong-willed children: