Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Brief Profile of George Müller

"If we desire our faith to be strengthened, we should not shrink from opportunities where our faith may be tried, and therefore, through trial, be strengthened."
- George Müller

George Müller cared for over 10,000 orphans in his life.  He also provided an education for them, which angered many who believed he was raising the poor above their natural station.  Müller established 117 schools and educated over 120,000 kids, most of whom were orphans.  Each day was started with him spending hours in prayer as he implored God to meet the needs of his orphans.  When God put it on his heart to start the first orphanage, George Müller had only two shillings (or fifty cents) in his pocket.  Making his wants known only to God, George Müller was sent over a million, four hundred thousand pounds by donors.  This occurred each time he built one of the five orphanages, as well as the many unsolicited food donations he was given only hours before they were needed to feed the children.  As he would say, "Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible.  There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible.  Faith begins where man's power ends."  He did this for sixty years until his death at ninety-three.  

Friday, June 29, 2012

Just A Small Note Of An Update

Our home study coordinator is writing up our home study report and said she should be done by next week.  Once we've checked over the home study report, then she submits it to our facilitor.  Then we move on from this mole hill to the mountain called the dossier.  I've already sent off for two copies of our marriage license.  We are going to go over grant applications this week.  One thing I found out is that you can't apply for any grants until after your home study is completed.  The catch-22 is that all of the grant forms want to know how much money you've already raised.  Thanks to all who read our blog and continue to pray for us as we make our way through this process of red-tape and documentation.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Child's Heart

My son loves computers.  He will watch YouTube videos about programming and checks out numerous books from the library on the subject.  One day when we were at the library this week, he came up to me and asked if I'd read a computer programming book on Python.  Now I've been trying to encourage him to read fiction for years to no avail.  My first thought when he asked me was to snap, "No!  You didn't read any of the books I suggest to you, so why should I read yours?"  But I didn't.  Instead, I looked at my son's face and saw what his request really was: his way of inviting me into his world, his interests, and part of who he is.  Inwardly reluctant, I outwardly agreed.

Later, when I picked up this 400 + pages tome, I sighed.  I didn't really have an interest in reading it, after all, computers are not my thing.  And I just get utterly confused whenever I attempt to read a computer book.  Still, I slowly began to read this book and, understanding very little, I wanted only to set the book down and read one that I really did want to read.  But I didn't.  And I'm glad that I didn't because my son came in the room, saw me reading this computer programming book, and a big smile came over his face.  His Papa was reading the book that he suggested.  This act on both our parts was an act of love.

Now he will come in while I'm struggling through and ask me about what I've read and he'll talk to me about it.  What starts as discussions about computers eventually turns to other things in his life.  This book is not really a way for me to learn about computers, but for me to learn about my son.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bible Verse Of The Day

"For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home."
Matthew 25:35


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Considering International Adoption?

If you're considering international adoption, here's a link to the USCIS Brochure for help on The Immigration of Adopted & Prospective Adoptive Children:
http://www.uscis.gov/files/article/adopt_book.pdf

Book Review of The Connected Child


This was a book that came recommended to me by the Adoption and Foster Care Group that we belong to at church.  Two of the authors, Karyn Purvis and David Cross, are research psychologists at Texas Christian University.  Because of this, they deal with the neurological, biochemical, emotional, and psychological aspects of adopting a child who is suffering the “invisible scars” or “early neglect or abuse” from being in foster care or an orphanage.  They write in one section of the book about how they surveyed a group of 86 families that had adopted internationally.  What they found from this survey were that these “. . . parents reported that 23% of these at-risk children had been sexually abused before adoption, 47% were physically abused, and more than half were neglected by early care takers.”  Because of this, these children lack the attachment skills a child raised in a loving home would have.  In fact, neurologists have show that children who grow up in orphanages have a higher level of cortisol, which are a stress hormone that one usually finds in soldiers who are suffering from shell-shock.  It is with all of this in mind, that the authors approach how to help an adopted child integrate into their new family.  

The parenting advice this book offers is extremely beneficial for anyone who has a child that is struggling with attachment or behavioral issues.  What I found reading the book is that the “normal” forms of discipline (sending a child to their room or to “time out”) one would use with a child do not work for these children (they would view both as more rejection).  Providing detailed and practical techniques parents can use to see beyond the child’s misbehavior to finding out what the child is really saying and what they really need.  It shows how the parent’s role is to guide the child into feeling relaxed, secure, loved, and for building trust.  This is no easy task with children who have suffered abandonment, loss, grief, cognitive impairments, fear, anger, shame, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression.  They provide not only examples of what parents should do but also success stories.

This book is a book I highly recommend for anyone who is considering adopting or fostering a child, as well as for therapists and social workers.


A Quote About Prayer

"Prayer is not asking for what you think you want, but asking to be changed in ways you can't imagine."
- Kathleen Norris


Monday, June 25, 2012

Happy Anniversary!

I cannot believe that it is our eighteenth wedding anniversary.  It doesn't feel like eighteen years have passed since we said our vows to each other.  In all of that time, we have only grown closer in love and friendship.  As John Lennon once sang:

Grow old along with me
The best is yet to be . . .

And I believe this.

Danelle, I love you very much.


"Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies."
Proverbs 31:10

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dreams & Sacrifices


For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted a daughter.  I can’t hear Steven Curtis Chapman’s song “Cinderella” (see video below) without a twinge of envy and sadness.  I’m not sure if this desire to have a daughter stemmed from being a protective older brother over my younger sister or from being around my nieces, one who I had nicknamed my “pretty princess.”  In fact, this is one of my favorite photos of her:
What father doesn’t want a “Daddy’s Girl”?  Or think of her as his “pretty princess”? 

Whatever the reason, when it we prayerfully came to the decision to adopt, my heart’s desire has been to adopt a little girl: who would be a daughter to us and a little sister for my son, Benjamin.  Unlike many, I’m not under any delusions that girls are easier to raise than boys.  To me, both bring their challenges.  It is interesting that I read a recent on-line poll that asked which was more difficult to raise and more than half stated they thought girls were.  This trend of thought does not seem to apply to adoption, however.  From my previous post, it is becoming clearer to me that girls are more highly sought after and are becoming more difficult to adopt.  When I was told that my chances of adopting a girl were a mere 25 – 30%, my heart sank.  I was deflated and on my way to being defeated.

Needless to say, that night, I did not get much sleep as I, like Jacob, wrestled with God. There have been quite a few of those nights since then.  E.M. Bounds, who has written eight books on prayer, concluded that, “Prayer in its highest form and grandest success assumes the attitude of a wrestler with God.”

What about my dream?  One night I dreamed of our family going to an orphanage to get our little girl.  The dream ended with all of us hugging her.  Some would say that was just a dream, but before my son was born I had a dream that we were having a boy. 

Now God knows the desires of my heart just as He knew the desires of Abram’s heart.  How many years had Abram longed for a son?  Then God finally gives him a son, Isaac, and very promptly tells Abram to go and sacrifice that very son Abram had waited so many years for.  I cannot imagine the despair that must’ve gripped Abram’s heart and how he must’ve wrestled with this decision all the way up to drawing his knife.  Abram was willing to sacrifice his heart’s desire to be obedient to God.  I have to ask myself if I’m willing to do the same.  Am I willing to lay my heart’s desire, having a daughter, on the altar as a sacrifice to God? 

Growing up, I remember getting up early on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons, especially the Super Friends.  In between cartoons, ABC would show these animated educational shorts called “Schoolhouse Rock.”  One of them was all about interjections.  In this short, a little boy gets a shot in his behind and yells, “Hey!  That’s not fair!”  How many of us feel that way towards God?  The book of Job deals exclusively with this struggle we have with God.  God’s response was to pointedly ask, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?  Tell me, if you understand.  Who marked off its dimensions?  Surely you know!”    How can mere finite man answer an infinite God who created universes and multiverses and more than our science can comprehend?

God’s ways are not our ways. Still I question them.  I’m very good at questioning, at doubting, but not so much at trusting.  Yet God has called me to have a child-like faith in Him.  He wants me to pray, as Jesus prayed, “Thy will be done.”  I try to do this but it too often comes across as, “Thy will be done so long as Your will is the same as my will.”  I live in a country that is all about getting what you want and telling you that you deserve to get what you want.  Then I read Daniel J. Bennett who wrote, “The goal of orphan care is not creating a pseudo-nuclear family, or getting the children you want.  The goal is the worship of God, which enables you to enter into a relationship easier than those people who have the wrong expectations.”

What?  

Is he joking?  

No, no, no.  You see, the plan is to adopt the child that I pick out that meets my criteria: young, female, healthy, pretty, smart, etcetera.  After all, I’m paying good money to adopt so I, as the consumer, should get exactly what I pay a lot of money for, right?

Bennett continues, “Sometimes people enter into adoption with a list of what they don’t want.  They want things to be as neat and tidy as possible.  It’s good to go into caring for orphans knowing it’s going to be difficult.  Difficult isn’t bad; it is often the best thing God has for his people” (A Passion For The Fatherless).

Not exactly what I want to hear.  But it’s exactly what I need to hear.

Once more, I have to ask myself: Do I trust God or not? 


This means I have to ask myself: How do I see God?

Do I see God as capricious or as a father who loves me and knows what is best for me?  As Matthew 7:9–11 tells us, “Which of you, if his son asks for bread will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for fish, gives him a snake?  If you, then, that are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him.”

Do I really believe this?

As He reminded us in Job, God has a much bigger perspective than our limited one.  So what if God has a son in store for me instead of a daughter?  What if there’s a little boy out there who needs our home and our family more than a little girl?  Or what if He has siblings in mind for us?  Am I willing to trust in God’s will more than in my wishes?  Do I long for God more than I do my desire to have a daughter?

C.S. Lewis wrote, “God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want.”

The day after I got the statistics of my chances of adopting a young girl, I went on-line and researched to see if this was indeed true.  Certainly adoption websites would lead you to believe otherwise since the photos on them are predominantly of young, healthy, pretty girls.  As I researched I only became more and more discouraged.  So I stopped.  Going to God, I prayed and, when I opened my Bible to read, I was given Numbers 11:23, “Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not.”  This is a reminder that I’m not to put my faith in statistics or percentages but in Him.  If God wants us to have a daughter then we will have a daughter.  But I have to be willing and obedient to say to Him, “Thy will be done” and mean it.  I, like Abram, must be able to offer my heart’s desire on the altar of God’s will.  More than sacrifices, God desires obedience.  This is not an easy lesson for me.  Yet this whole adoption process is about surrendering my will to His, putting my faith in Him, and trusting that God does know what’s best for our family. 



Friday, June 22, 2012

An Adoption Doodle

Here's a little cartoon I drew while we are waiting for the last document for our home study to come in:


Trends In International Adoption

The U.S. Department of State shows the following in adoptions from 2003 - 2009:


ANNUAL TOTAL OF ADOPTIONS FROM 2003-2009

2009: 12,753 2004: 22,884
2008: 17,438 2003: 21,616
2007: 19,613 2002: 21,378
2006: 20,679 2001: 19,647
2005: 22,739 1999: 15,719


Break down of statistical figures of adoptions by country from the fiscal years of 2004 through 2009 is as follows:


FY 2009 FY 2008 FY 2007 FY 2006 FY 2005 FY 2004
5 Guatemala
756
S. Korea
1065
S. Korea
938
Ethiopia
731
Ukraine
824
Kazakhstan
826
6 Ukraine
601
Vietnam
748
Vietnam
828
Kazakhstan
588
Kazakhstan
755
Ukraine
723
7 Vietnam
481
Ukraine
490
Ukraine
613
Ukraine
463
Ethiopia
442
India
406
8 Haiti
330
Kazakhstan
380
Kazakhstan
547
Liberia
353
India
323
Haiti
356
9 India
297
India
308
India
411
Columbia
344
Colombia
287
Ethiopia
289
10 Kazakhstan
295
Colombia
306
Liberia
314
India
319
Philippines
268
Colombia
287
11 Philippines
281
Haiti
301
Colombia
309
Haiti
310
Haiti
234
Belarus
202
12 Taiwan
253
Philippines
292
Philippines
260
Philippines
248
Liberia
183
Philippines
196
13 Colombia
238
Liberia
254
Haiti
191
Taiwan
187
Taiwan
141
Bulgaria
110
14 Nigeria
110
Taiwan
219
Taiwan
184
Vietnam
163
Mexico
88
Poland
102
15 Ghana
103
Nigeria
149
Mexico
589
Mexico
70
Poland
73
Mexico
89
16 Mexico
72
Mexico
105
Poland
84
Poland
67
Thailand
71
Liberia
86
17 Uganda
69
Ghana
97
Thailand
66
Nepal
66
Brazil
66
Nepal
73
18 Thailand
56
Kyrgyzstan
78
Brazil
55
Brazil
66
Nigeria
65
Nigeria
71
19 Jamaica
54
Poland
77
Kyrgyzstan
54
Nigeria
62
Jamaica
62
Brazil
69
20 Poland
50
Thialand
592
Uganda
54
Thailand
56
Nepal
62
Thailand 

Parenting Skills & Parenting Books



“Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children and no theories.”
- John Wilmott


Traditionally, I’m not a fan of parenting books, especially when they write things like asking your child if their “love tank is full.”  Phrases like that just tend to make me scowl in sarcastic disgust and dismiss the author as a flake.  As I’m reading The Connected Child, a book recommended by an adoption and foster care group we belong to at our church, I started to think about my parents.  I don’t recall them ever reading a parenting book - or owning one for that matter.  I do remember Dr. Spock’s book on their shelf but I think that was a requirement of all parents at that time.  Maybe the hospitals sent that book home with each new baby.  But Dr. Spock just sat there collecting dust on the shelves along with all of the Reader’s Digest books. 

But ruminating about this got me to thinking about how different my childhood was from my son’s or my nephews and nieces’.  Hopefully this blog entry doesn’t sound like a grumpy old man rambling in irritation about how things were different in his day. 

Growing up, we played on steel playgrounds that were on asphalt.  There were no shredded tires or mulch for us to jump off our swings onto. 
I don’t recall wearing seat belts when we were in the car, even on long family trips.
There were no such things as “play groups” that our mother’s organized to get together with other moms and children.  No, we played with whoever lived in our neighborhood.  And we played outdoors.  Under no condition were we allowed in the house if the weather was nice outside, no matter how hot we were.  And if we were hot, we drank that luke-warm metallic water out of the hose.  Yum!
We made up our own games or played tried-and-true ones like kick ball, kick the can, or hide and go seek.
On long trips, there were no portable anything (iPods, DVD players, etcetera).  We had to listen to whatever music our parents listened to and, as kids, we had to make up our own ways to entertain ourselves.  Hence, we played the alphabet game using road signs or tried to spot the most license plates from other states.
When we went to another child’s birthday, the only thing we got was a slice of birthday cake and maybe some ice cream.  Where did the gift bags required of birthday parties today come from?

When my wife was pregnant with our son, I had planned on using my baby crib for him.  Then I saw on a morning show how a crib was unsafe if you could pass a soda can through the slats.  So I tested this.  I could practically get a soda can side-ways through the slats in the crib I had as a baby.

But reading this book made me wonder if our parents questioned themselves as much as we do today? 

I mean, there are days when it feels less like parenting and more like one of those old westerns.  In fact, there are days when I wonder which of my child’s personalities will I get to experience: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (a title from a classic Sergio Leone western)?  I can even hear the whistling from Ennio Morricone’s score as my child and I take separate sides of the old town like two gunslingers as we prepare for our shoot-out.
And I don’t want it to be this way.  Nor do I want for it to be a courtroom debate whenever I ask Benjamin to do something. 

In The Connected Child, the authors’ words hit me square in the heart when they wrote, under the category You’re Too Strict And Controlling If . . ., “You tell your child “No” more frequently than you praise him.”  Now, I wouldn’t go that far, as I do praise my child frequently, but I do tell him, “No” a lot.  Mainly because I get worn down by his constantly asking to do something or make something or go somewhere or a list of other wishes, wants, and desires that he expresses on a minute by minute basis.  I get tired and it is simply easier to just say, “No,” then to explain myself or to allow myself to do some of those things which require my time and energy.  The book offered examples of finding the right balance between being too strict or too permissive.  Although I started reading this book in relationship to our future adopted child, I realized I could put much of what I’m reading in this book to work with Benjamin. 
  
The key for me is that I want to be a good Papa to my son and to be a real part of his life.  I do wonder what he will tell his kids about his childhood and what will they look at him askance on and ask, “What’s that?”  Like kids today do about typewriters, 8 track tapes, having only 3 or 4 channels on the TV and having to physically get up to change the channel or rabbit-ears for television sets.  When I’m a grandparent, I can’t wait to see – and to see how my son reacts to his kids.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

JJ Heller's What Love Really Means

The opening to this song always makes me think of the orphans around the world . . .

Quote From Tolkien

"The wide world is all about you; you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot forever fence it out."
- J R R Tolkien, 


He was author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Orphaned at age 12, Tolkien was raised by a Roman Catholic Priest.


Monday, June 18, 2012

The Adoption Tax Credit Extension Is Now In The Bill

Jedd Medefind wrote the following over on The Christian Alliance For Orphans Blog (http://www.christianalliancefororphans.org):


As previously highlighted, the adoption tax credit will be greatly limited if it is not extended by December 31.  Recently, a bill to extend the credit was introduced.   Supporters can now ask their member of the House of Representatives to co-sponsor the bi-partisan H.R. 4373, known as the “Making Adoption Affordable Act.”
(Note that although not directly involved in lobbying, the Alliance seeks to ensure our network is informed of key policy issues and legislation with potential to impact engagement by Christians in foster care, adoption and global orphan care.)
Citizens can reach their Representative by calling the U.S. Capitol Operator at 202-225-3121 and asking for their Representative’s office. (Those who do not know their Representative’s name can find it at http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/ using their zip code.)
Citizens contacting their representative can convey a clear message simply by expressing that want to see the adoption tax credit extended, and one or more reasons it matters to them.  Citizens can then ask their Representative to become a co-sponsor of The Making Adoption Affordable Act, H.R. 4373.
If you want to learn more about the adoption tax credit go to http://adoptiontaxcredit.org/.   You can also help by liking the Save the Adoption Tax Credit on Facebook.

Chalk Drawing On a Summer's Day

Having bought some new sidewalk chalk, my son & I went outside and drew on the driveway.  He was feeling in a particularly Van Gogh-ish mood:


Sunday, June 17, 2012

FATHERS & SONS


“He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers . . .”  Malachi 4:6

In the past, when I shopped for a father’s day card, I would try to find a funny or amusing one because I thought that’s the kind of relationship my Dad and I had with each other.  But then I realized that this was not the kind of relationship I wanted to have with him, so I stopped buying the silly cards and tried to find ones that really did mirror how I felt about him, as well as writing in the card in a way that expressed how I wanted us to grow closer.  And we have.   


When I look at this photo, how can I not see how much my Dad loves me.  What son doesn’t want to love and look up to his Dad?  In his song “Father Son,” Peter Gabriel emotionally sings about this:

Remember the breakers down by the waves
I first found my courage
Knowing daddy could save
I could hold back the tide
With my dad by my side


What son doesn’t want his Dad to love him back and tell him, as a form of blessing over his life, “I’m proud of you”?  I want my Dad’s approval.  I want him to be proud of me.  Even God, as a Father, understood this, and that is why He said of Jesus, “This is my son in whom I’m well pleased.”  What kid doesn’t want their dad to say that of them? 

And my Dad was proud of me.  So proud that when I, as a precocious ten year old, sent off my cartoons that I drew to a national syndicate company the distributed comic strips to newspapers nation wide, my Dad not only mailed them off but wrote a note telling whoever might read this, that I was only ten and could they please offer me encouragement.  It was years later that I found this out. 

Or my Dad showed his love by getting a speeding ticket, racing home from being out of town for work, to make it to one of my little league games. 

As much as our society tends to diminish the roles of fathers (especially on TV where dads tend to come off as clueless and inept), sons still desperately need their dads.  Is it any wonder that a recent poll still lists Bill Cosby’s Cliff Huxtable as their favorite TV dad?    

Like all kids, as a child I swore to myself that I would be different as a dad from mine was and that I would definitely never say the words all kids hate to hear, “Because I said so . . .”  Then I became a Papa.  One day, on the way home from school, I had a discussion with my son after he asked me, “Why can’t you be a fun parent?”  I asked him, “What is your idea of a fun parent?” His notion of “fun” being a parent who lets him do what he wants, buys him the things wants, etcetera.  I told him how I view being a parent as more than being a mere friend or buddy, but that I held the weight and responsibility of being his Papa very seriously.  My main goal as a Papa is to raise a son who is a man who follows God, is compassionate, caring, and loves his wife and children one day.  I try to model this for him in my own life.  There’s a quote that I like which says, “Every father should remember that one day his son will follow his example instead of his advice.”

I constantly tell my son how much I love him as well as show him affection.  I tell him often that I’m proud of him, many times for no other reason than for being himself.  When I, being an imperfect Papa, do something wrong, I tell my son this and, if it’s him I’ve wronged, I ask for his forgiveness.  I try to encourage my son in his interests and pursuits.  Growing up, I loved to draw, and there were times when my Dad would come back from a business trip having brought me a book on art or cartooning.  Now this wasn’t his interest, but he knew it was mine and that was his way of letting me know not only loved me but encouraged me.  I’m sure he was often puzzled over a son who had no interest in sports but loved the arts, just as I often puzzle over my son who doesn’t like to read novels but prefers science and computers. 

One of the things I love about my Dad is how much he truly loves my son.  And my son dearly loves his “Granddad Bob.”  I also see parts of my Dad in my son – and it makes me happy to see this.  Just as I want my son to have a great relationship with me, I also want him to have a great relationship with my Dad.  We all need and love each other.  Another line in Peter Gabriel’s song tells how that though “It’s been so many years” his voice cracks with, “Guess I’m still your child.”  Just as my son will always be my child, I will always be my Dad’s.

Dad, I love you very much.

Happy Father’s Day!
Your Son, Elliott



Friday, June 15, 2012

Always Amazed


Do you ever look at your child and are amazed at how much they've grown and how quickly?

Looking at this photo of my son taken by my Dad on a dolphin cruise, I saw my child so differently in the picture, as if I'd seen him anew and was taken aback by how much older he looked.  My son had spent the week with his "Granddad Bob."  It was just the two of them and, while I missed Benjamin (something parents need to do from time to time), I was thankful for that time the two of them would have together.  Yet when Dad sent me this picture, I stared at my son with the realization of his growing up. I couldn't help but be reminded of the poem I read recently in Madeleine L'Engle's The Irrational Season and these lines from one of her poems in the book really hit me full force (especially having just watched my nephew graduate from high school):

Child,
give me the courage
for the time
when I must open my arms
and let you go.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Kisses From Katie


“People who really want to make a difference in the world usually do it, in one way or another.  And I’ve noticed something about people who make a difference in the world: They hold the unshakable conviction that individuals are extremely important, that every life matters.  They get excited over one smile.  They are willing to feed one stomach, educate one mind, and treat one wound.  They aren’t determined to revolutionize the world all at once; they’re satisfied with small changes.  Over time, the small changes add up.  Sometimes they even transform cities and nations, and yes, the world.”

- Kisses From Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bible Verse of The Day

"I will not leave you as orphans . . ."
- John 14:18



A Review of How To Adopt Internationally by Jean Nelson Erichsen & Heino R. Erichsen


This book is a good general over view of the international adoption process from considering international adoption to parenting an internationally adopted child.  The authors have provided a practical step-by-step manual whether you go through an adoption agency or independently.  They give you great questions that you should ask when choosing the right agency for you and break that down into questions about the agency itself, placement procedures, requirements for adoptive parents, the referral of a child, and expenses.  Another big help that this book offers is examples of all the forms a person will be filling out since paperwork is a big majority of the adoption process.  What makes this book work is that the Erichsen’s go through each step of the adoption process and break it down in layman’s terms so that the reader can understand exactly what is required by each country (and they cover 64 countries that allow for adoption).  So if you are considering adopting internationally and want good, solid, practical advice then this is the book where you should start.

Adoption Preference: Boys Or Girls?




Our family is currently in the international adoption process and the more we research our information, the more we see how difficult it can be to adopt a girl, no matter which country one adopts from.  Since we have our biological son, we wanted to adopt a girl.  We are not alone, since Americans want to adopt girls 64% to boys at 36%.  While boys are often more desired biologically, this is not the case in adoption.  Statistics show that 70 – 90% of parents looking to adopt register a preference for a girl with their adoption agencies. 

According to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, girls make up 64% of all children adopted by Americans outside the United States.  That’s a mere 56 boys for every 100 girls.  To read more, one can go to John Gravois’ article for Slate magazine on-line at:
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/hey_wait_a_minute/2004/01/bringing_up_babes.single.html

The Bureau of Counselor Affairs and the U.S. Department of State show that between 1999 and 2011 there were over 233,934 adoptions and of those well over half were girls. 
Their website is:

But why is this?

There are many theories, but here are a few:
1). Most who initiate and pursue adoption is the wife.  Because of this, they are looking for girls they can bond with.
2). Many people fear boys will be too much to handle.  Some even said that boys would be “too energetic.”  They believe girls will be easier to raise than boys.
3). Most people’s first awareness of adoption is from people who’ve adopted girls from China

Statistics show that the number of girls adopted decrease as the girls get older:
Under 1 year old: 47%
1 – 4 years old: 41%
5 – 9 years old: 11%
Over 9 years old: 1%
(These statistics came from Child Welfare Information Gateway).

The more I research, the more I discover that even these statistics are changing as couples from around the world are now so desperate to adopt a girl that female infants are not the only most sought after, especially as many countries are no longer allowing adoption of infants.  My wife and I thought that since we weren’t looking for an infant but a girl between the ages of 6 and 11 that it would be easier, but we’ve heard that this is not the case and we only have a 25 – 30% chance of adopting a girl. 

For those of you who have adopted a girl internationally, please share with us and let us know about your adoption experience. 



Sunday, June 10, 2012

These Are The Days To Hold Onto . . .


Back in 1999, the movie Toy Story 2 came out and we took our nephew, Christian, to see it.  He was 5 at the time and I had introduced him to the Star Wars movies.  So when the film opened with Buzz Lightyear and Zurg, Christian was enthralled.  In 2010, Toy Story 3 came out.  When I saw the boy, Andy, going off to college and leaving behind childhood things (Woody and Buzz), I immediately thought of my nephew, who was now in high school.  I also flashed forward with my own son to when he would graduate high school and go off to college.  By the end of the film, I was in tears.  I still can't watch that movie without crying.

Christian was like my first child.  Before him, I had not wanted to have a boy at all.  I wanted a girl - and only a girl.  Then Christian was born.  My heart was changed instantly.  Even now, I can't help but think of the little curly-haired boy who loved Michael Jordan and the film Space Jam so much that I had to hold my arms in a circle so he could slam dunk over and over again just like his sports hero did.  As my nephew grew, I watched him become a teenager.  Normally, we think of teens as sullen and moody, but what I will always remember Christian for is calling me on my birthday and not only wishing me a happy birthday, but telling me that he loved me.  Those are not the words one tends to associate or expect to hear out of the mouths of teenagers, especially in regards to their relatives.  I got off the phone, choked up, and told my wife.  "My sister's raised a good kid."

When I graduated high school, way back in 1987, our graduating song was Billy Joel's "This Is The Time To Remember."  I could not help but think of the chorus as I sat through my nephew's graduation ceremony yesterday.  The chorus goes:

This is the time to remember
'Cause it will not last forever
These are the days to hold onto
'Cause we want although we'll want to
This is the time,
But time is going to change . . . 

And we do.  I can't help but relate the lines "These are the days to hold onto" with a parent holding a child's hand.  As parents, we have to know when to hold onto their hands tightly and when to let go, even when we don't want to and aren't ready to.  Before we left for the graduation ceremony and everybody was going out to the car, my sister held back and waited for my nephew to come downstairs.  I caught a glimpse of her straightening his tie, talking to him, and then hugging him.  I'm sure every part of her wanted nothing more than to stop that moment, to freeze time because it was whizzing by.  My Mom once said that those little hand-prints that you complain about having to clean off the windows or the coffee-table are the very same ones you will miss desperately one day.  

The time will come when my wife and I will have to let go.  That little boy who tags along with me will be going on ahead of me and then leaving me behind to start his own life.  And we will have to let him.  No matter how much our hearts ache and our eyes fill with tears.  He, like my nephew, will be filled with the over-sized ambitions of youth and the feeling of finally being free after graduation.  This is as it should be.  

Watching Christian walk up on that stage to get his diploma, I held back the tears that our little "Spark-plug" (his nickname from soccer when he was little) was now grown up.  I feel I have blinked and, in that instant, so much time has passed.  In her song "The Circle Game" Joni Mitchell sang of "being captive on the carousel of time" and of how "We can't return, we can only look behind from where we came."  It's true.  It will continue to be true.  As Psalm 144:4 tells us, "Man is like a breath.  His days like a passing shadow."

One of my favorite things this past year has been driving my son to and from school each day.  I love talking to him and hearing him sing along to the radio as he rides in the back seat.  When I told him how I'd miss this, he said, "Papa, you'll be taking me to and from school next year, too, you know?"  Yes, but he will go from sitting in the back to the front, going from singing along in his sweet child's voice to remaining silent in a voice that is changing from childhood to manhood, and from talking freely to possibly sulking silently (though I hope not).  He will not be the same.  And I, like all parents, want to hold onto this moment, this fleeting, passing moment.  

Congratulations, Christian!  I'm more proud of you than you will ever know.