Archive for April, 2006

Empowered Adoptions… LOL

Posted in Uncategorized on April 27, 2006 by Avery

Empowerment. It seems that that word is the very yang to this adoption process. I feel so useless and out of control. It doesn’t help that we accepted our referral back in September of 2005 and we are no closer today to bringing them home than we were then. We are starting to wonder if they will even get home this year. The closing of the Ethiopian courts gets closer every day, and every day with no progress seems like hell. Emotionally it is. I’ve jokingly told people it’s a good thing adoption is so expensive, because we live within walking distance of the liquor store. We have some friends that just got home with their beautiful kids and their process took them over 3 years to complete. We are over a year in the making now. People question us about it a little when we say it’s been that long, but you have several months prior to knowing who you are adopting that you have to go through the American legal hoop system.

On a positive note, our kids have received the photos of our family. They now know what we look like too.

I have readers, I know this because people are actually spending time with the page open, they even click through on some of the links. (or so my meter tells me)

Also I’m 100% ready to travel now. I have all my shots, passport, and immunization book. All I need now is a reason to go.

I’m fried right now, can’t think straight. Need to call this one a short one, at least I updated something this week. Maybe if I can clear my head I’ll post a longer rant later this week.

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Posted in Uncategorized on April 21, 2006 by Avery

Have you ever wondered what it would look like if Beaver just snapped one day, came in with teh baseball bat and started to wail on everyone for talking down to him and treating him like an idiot? Yeah, if you had a window into my head you would be seeing that right now, I would be cleaning house. I guess it’s a good thing there are no baseball bats around.
This week has continually gone downhill from day one. I order a camera so we have one when we finally get to go to Ethiopia, it gets here, but the stupid thing doesn’t work right. This is after I was conned by the sales dude on the phone to buy a new battery:

Sales: We are calling to verify the order.
Me: OK
Sales: (reads order)
Me: Yep, that’s it.
Sales: Sir, I notice you don’t have a battery here on this order
Me: No, the camera comes with a battery, it’s listed on the website.
Sales: But sir it’s not a good battery
Me: What do you mean, isn’t it the same kind of battery that comes with the camera standard?
Sales: No these are refurbished cameras, the batteries only last about 20 minutes.
Me: So what size battery does it come with
Sales: 700 mAhz
Me: Not the standard 1700 mAhz?
Sales: No but we are running a special on the 2100 mAhz batteries for only $39 with the purchase of this camera.
Me: This should really be on the site, this is total BS what you are doing.
Sales: Yes sir, your right, I agree, But we have a contract with Kodak that we won’t put the specs of the refurbished units on the site.
Me: Well I guess I don’t really have a choice do I? Yes, I’ll take a battery, but I’m not happy.

Well it went on from there, I was pissed that I was having to pay for a battery that should have been listed on the specs page, but at least I was getting a decent battery and I would have a bogus battery for a spare.
Well the camera came in yesterday, and lo and behold the 700 mAhz battery was the standard 1700 mAhz battery, but so was the supposed 2100 mAhz battery!!!! I got tow batteries that are the exact same! Now I know what I verbally agreed to with sales rep, it’s not what I got, and I’m royally pissed off.
Also, refurbished means it works, and all functions work. The Camera I received, the scene selection feature does not work. Now as this is the primary method of taking photos on this camera this is a major issue. When I select the scene select feature on the dial, it goes into AUTO mode.
So if this wasn’t bad enough, the SD cards I ordered for the camera came in, but only one of them was in the package. Now I’m trying to convince the company I really didn’t get it and I need the package sent to me.
This is 3 weeks since I was told our paperwork would be signed for our kids to come home, the papers are still unsigned.
We are babysitting a dog for some freinds that went to Disney World, she has crapped in our house twice now, she isn’t allowed back in.
And I went for a walk with my son last night while the wife went to the store with the daughter, and locked myself out of my house.
And this is just the stuff that I can talk about publically, there are a ton of issues related to the adoption that have me flustered that I am not allowed to disclose.

This week has really sucked.

Next week, please be better.

I Need A Vacation

Posted in Uncategorized on April 20, 2006 by Avery

I got a raise today, not as exciting as you might think. It was a whole 2.25% That comes out to $.46 an hour. Yep, another year of my life spent behind this desk, on a broken office chair staring at a crappy computer monitor, talking to idiots and fixing their computers over the phone, and my reward, $.46 an hour. Yep, my incentive to work harder went through the roof. It’s what I expected though, actually I was hoping for a 2.5% but hey what can you say. Now for you math whizzes, if x=y then x+.46=y1.0225 what is my salary? I’m so bad ad math I probably even got the formula wrong.

It’s a good thing I don’t like beer, and liquor is expensive, otherwise I’d be drinking myself to sleep at night. The earliest my kids can be home now is June, but even that is hoping for a miracle. I’m not holding my breath as it would require someone in Ethiopia doing something, and that doesn’t seem to be the modis operandi.

On a lighter note, one of the parents that was just in Ethiopia told me my kids are doing good. They are in good spirits and healthy.

This is why you never see any one on a sit com try to adopt a kid. The emotional roller coaster the character would have to play would give them grey hair. The morbid reality the veiwers would have to watch would be ungruling, and the amounts of seasons it would take until the child actually got home to the family would be unbeleivable to all but the parents of adoptees. You would loose your viewers as there are too many loose ends and unknowns and the viewers demand simplicity.

Me, I’m at the point that I like to watch the static on TV as the plot line is simple enough for me to cope with. I tried watching Seseme Street with the kids the other day, and there was just too much strees in it, I couldn’t cope with the fast plot lines. I need a vacation. No, strike that. I need this adoption to be over so I can continue on with my life. I’m tired.

Hurry up and Wait

Posted in Uncategorized on April 19, 2006 by Avery

Hurry up and wait – this was the motto of the Army, and it was so very, very true.

There is no hurry in Africa – this is the motto in Africa, and oh so very, very true.

Hurry, Hurry, Hurry – the motto of my employer every single day.

It seems as if everything points towards hurrying, well everything except the adoption that is.

No, In the adoption they have combined all 3, we have to hurry up so we can wait in the front of the line, we need to hurry, hurry , hurry as time is wasting and the kids need us now, but now you just need to sit on your tail and wait, because the word hurry doesn’t translate well in Africa.

We chose our agency in large part because we were trying to be good stewards and went with one of the cheapest agencies available. Well you get what you pay for, and while the larger more expensive agencies would have had our children home by now, we have hit road block after road block in the most mundane of things. All of which are in Ethiopia and none of which actually have anything to do with our kids. At this point we are waiting on one signature on one piece of paper. We have been promised by those with the power that they will sign it, but our agency is unable to get them to actually do it.

I read a blog today, it made the analogy of imagining you are pregnant, heavy with child, but you don’t know your gestation time because it’s not a “normal” child. You may birth today, it may take you a few more YEARS!!!!!! All you know is you keep on being told it’s almost here, we almost have it figured out, don’t worry everything is fine.

Guess what, everything isn’t fine. My house is on a roller coaster, I knew this would happen going into the adoption, but we had done the math, and the figures showed that is everything went as slow as possible they would have been home this month. We still need a court date, to get that we need a signature. I don’t know how much longer it’s going to be.

Oh, and by being good stewards, this has actually gone to be more expensive than the other agencies. My kids want to know when we will have money again so we can afford to eat out. LOL. If I don’t laugh I would just cry. That was my Easter present to the family, I took us out to a buffet, no we can’t really afford it, but hey I can’t really afford to drive to work each day but I still do it. ($2.90 a gallon, this is nuts)

I keep looking for the bigger picture. We have been in process, for a year now. We were slow to get started, but we started talking about adopting about a year ago. We had our referral and pictures of our kids last October, that’s 7 months of watching our kids grow. We have the intake interview on DVD from December of 2004, they were still on the street then, they wouldn’t be brought into the orphanage until July. Every day I look at my pictures of my kids that I don’t know, I see so much in both of them, and yet I have never met them. I have less than 10 seconds of their voices on the DVD, and that is 2 scared little street kids not having a clue of what is going on, and reciting their names for the camera. The only words I’ve ever heard from my son, and he is explaining his sister shenanigans to the crazy white lady with the camera.

Thank God I’ve made friends with some other parents that have been to the orphanage, that have met my kids and spent time with them. I’ve heard about the quite resolve of my son, something that shines through in the intake DVD as he is taking care of his little sister. We also get to see the mischievousness of our daughter as she spends her time lying to the orphanage director about EVERYTHING, and laughing the entire time. Yes her non biological twin brother is the exact same way, yes we will have our hands full when they do get here.

Maybe not as enlightened as normal, as if I ever am, just in a dark mood today, in one of those valleys on the adoption ride. Actually this funk has settled in on my entire house, my wife was on the verge of a mental breakdown last night, and I was no support for her. We keep on having that carrot dangled in our face, but we can’t get any answers as to why it keeps getting taken away, and why it never gets any closer. Someone on one of the newsgroups I subscribe to asked me about it recently. Apparently my normal wit was missing and my flashy humor was gone. Unfortunately I started this blog on the downside of this hill, no I’m not sure I’ve hit bottom yet, so perhaps what is here is a bit dark and depressive. Unfortunately this roller coaster is very much a part of the adoption process, and where I was fine during the normal duration of how long it normally takes to complete the adoption, I forgot to pack a reserve, and I’m out of gas.

Same House, Different World

Posted in Uncategorized on April 18, 2006 by Avery

Do you remember when you were a kid and you would look at the grown ups and idolize them? Wow, they were cool, they had cars (mobility), money (power), and stature (influence). Now I’m an adult and my mobility isn’t worth the car payment, my job isn’t worth the little power is gives me, and all I want to do is lose 50 pounds of my stature. I’m not quite living up to my own expectations am I?

I read my 1/2 sister’s post the other day about her stint in Jamaica, and it made me realize just how different lives can be even when they come from the same house. For me I was born in inner city Charlotte, I don’t remember much, I left when I was 5, but from what I do remember is was a nice place to be a kid. Of course we where the ONLY white family in our section of town, I was too young to pay attention to any racial tension with the adults, us kids just liked to play in the woods behind the house (now gone for the sake of development). What I do remember is thinking that my family was the odd man out, we only saw people like my family at church and when my mother carried me to school, other than that my world was black and brown. I remember thinking there was something wrong with my families skin, that we were the minority. When my mother got married and we moved to white bread Amishville PA, well that was the culture shock for me. In 3rd grade some Hawaiian boys moved into my school district, but I left that area after a few years. I would be in high school before I was in a school with any black students. Besides a few months in Kenya it wouldn’t be until I was in the Army that my whiteness would be the minority. I know there was a large number of minorities on my campus in college but for the life of me I really don’t know why I never saw them in my classes or in my dorm halls. I roomed with a guy from Brazil for a year, and hung out a lot with the internationals at meals and such, partly because I was mandated to volunteer hours teaching at the ESL program. Wow, tangent, imagine that with me at the keyboard.

So the difference you ask? Well as I was reading my sister’s blog she mentioned the way she felt as the “whiteys” in Jamaica, how it was a new experience for her and how she has a slightly better grasp on her black boyfriends world view living in the mid white USA, oops I mean mid west USA. Finding a black man in rural America is about the same as a decent white cop in Harlem, they are there but you have to look to find them. But then I got to thinking about my siblings and for the most part they lived most of their lives in one town in PA, the youngest to my mother was the only one to always live in the same place but the other two youngins always went to the same school with the same friends, my brother was the only other one to change. Me, I’ve lived in one place for the longest ever in my life right now, here in North Carolina. For the most part I’ve moved every 3 years or less. Mostly around Pennsylvania but I pulled my stints in North Carolina, and Georgia, South Carolina if you count boot camp, and tried to move to New Jersey but couldn’t take the smell.

Same family, different world views. Funny how life can do that. My kids will have even more of this than I do, two Ethiopian born black kids and two American born white kids and they are all going to come out from under the same roof. Their world views will be so far apart it’s not even funny, well maybe some of it will be.

To Do or Not To Do, Is the question answered by your economic status?

Posted in Uncategorized on April 17, 2006 by Avery

Robin Hood was supposed to be the run of the mill kind of guy. If he existed he was probably a poor guy growing up, why would I assume that you ask? Because if he actually had any money to make a difference with he would have been too apathetic to do anything about it. I have never been more obvious of the fact that those that can, don’t and those that can’t find a way to do it. I live a decent life, I make decent money, enough that I own one car, one motorcycle, and am able to make payment to the bank for my house. My wife stays at home to raise the kids and we live comfortably enough for us. Sure we make splurge purchases at times, my wife always knows she can make me happy at gift time with a gift certificate to the tattoo parlor, and I keep her happy with new fangled musical instruments to tinker with. We don’t eat out very often, haven’t had cable for 6 years and our TV was actually recovered from the neighbors trash. A comfortable lifestyle, but no way anywhere the “norm” of the American Lifestyle of the rich and gluttonous. Obviously with my weight we are doing OK, but most people look at our lifestyle and wonder how we survive. So why on earth would we decide that we could afford to adopt some kids from Ethiopia?

Because every time we thought about waiting for our finances to be in better shape we kept on running across a scripture edifying us that it was the commission of the entire church body, not the individual to care for the orphan and widow. We decided we would start down this road and leave the finances in Gods hands, and He more than provided for our need, but not by those you would assume. Did our rich relatives gives us anything? No, nothing of note. But the relatives looking down the barrel of losing everything is something doesn’t change for them soon, they sent several hundred dollars. What about the millionaires in our church(there are a few)? No, but the single mothers living in run down shacks have gone above and beyond what we would have ever expected. What about the home church? We had to beg for a chance to present the need to our own church, but we were asked by other, smaller, churches to come out and present the need to them. We have received everything we need, minus the need for a van as my little Echo won’t hold a family of 6, but we have a few thousand tucked away to at least put a down payment on a used van.

So what is it about the human nature that makes it easier for us to empathize when we are ourselves in need? I’ve never really had the opportunity to sit on the other side of that fence, so I don’t know what they see when they see their full bank accounts and struggling neighbors. I know that even through this process of adopting the kids we opened our home and crippled our finances by taking in a high school student that needed a home. I’m sure we could have said no and she would have found somewhere to live, but it wasn’t a secret need, everyone in our local church knew she needed a place to live. I know many of the homes in our church even have several empty bedrooms as their kids are in college and only come home for the summer. I just don’t understand.

I spent the holidays with some friends, and as I sat around the picnic table eating and laughing I took note of who was there. No where at the table was a person who was living the “American dream” Single mothers, a couple who’s home was recently reposed, ex-cons, and a typical blue collar family (they even have the Harley) We spent the day together chasing around town taking our kids to the free events, we walked to save the gas even. Then for supper we all chipped in and brought a little something to the table and ate a feast!!!! The ex-con just got a new job so he had a few extra dollars so he treated us all to rib eyes even (I hadn’t realized how long it had been since I had a good steak). I took a good look at those I consider my friends and noticed that the ones I actually enjoy spending time with are all the same way, just the regular run of the mill people, working to pay the bills and living their lives content to provide a stable house, as meager as it may be. Sure I have friends that are considered by anyone’s standards to be “rich” but honestly take your kids to a house you are afraid to let them touch anything and tell me how comfortable you are. Then let one of them actually break something while you are there, there goes the friend. How do people get so attached to “things?” I’ve noticed this a lot with the bikers I hang out with, there is no way I could afford to replace my bike, but I loan the keys to anyone I know with a valid “M” endorsement on their license. Most of my riding partners won’t even let you sit on their bikes. I really don’t understand it, as much as I have tried to rationalize it I still can’t come up with an answer.

I’m not a hero, no far from it. I’m actually a very selfish person. But I live my life the way I think is human. No I don’t think I can even say my lifestyle is “Christian”. I live as Godly a lifestyle as possible, but I could be doing even more if I made more sacrifices. Is it that our lifestyle in America has lost the ability to make sacrifices? Have instant gratification, and credit cards removed the ability to sacrifice for the good of mankind obsolete? Or have we truly become so apathetic that we just don’t care that over half the world survives on lees than $2 a day? That every 3 seconds another human dies from malnutrition or related causes. That America waste more food yearly than most countries consume. Have we really become that evil of a Nation? And don’t say I give at Church!!!! The American Church has become the sickest of them all. There is enough money in the Church of America to end world poverty in one fell swoop, but it will never happen, because those that have it are too busy creating crystal cathedrals, mega churches, new TV shows, or fighting the war on the homos! Let’s get real people, there are sick and dying and orphans and widows that need our help, exactly what Kingdom benefit is that new multi million dollar church? The $1000 suit or the Jacuzzi baptismal, what ever happened to the good old river and swimming pool dunkings?

I said on day one more questions than answers. I doubt I have any readers out there, so this is more for me than anyone else. maybe one day I’ll get there, and be able to look back with answers. Maybe I’ll be on the other side of the fence and be too apathetic to care. I doubt it as I would have to stop giving the excess away and horde it for myself to get there. Who knows?

If you would like to do something, just a small thing, do me a favor and sign the ONE campaign petition. It’s a small step in the right direction.
http://www.one.org/

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Posted in Uncategorized on April 14, 2006 by Avery

So my wife goes to the grocery store to pick up a few things for a covered dish diner at the church last night. On her way out of the store she notices a car with a big Ethiopian flag sticker in the rear window and a bumper sticker that says “I love Ethiopia” She is looking at the car and trying to get our two kids that are here under control and two black men come out of the store and start walking to the car. She calls out to them asking if it’s their car and the one with dreads answers “Yes.” So my wife introduces herself to them, she tells him that we are in the process of adopting two kids from Ethiopia and she noticed his car. Now mind you our two kids are white as the sun, blonde hair and blue eyed, and this guy looks at our two kids and ask her if these are the kids we are adopting!!!!!!!!! I wasn’t there but I don’t know how it would have been possible to keep a straight face! My wife’s reply was “No, we are adopting brown kids” Personally I think I would have been on the floor laughing! The conversation continued and my wife discovered he was a Rastafarian that moved to the states from Ghana. When she explained that the tribe our children come from claim to be descendants of the Queen of Sheba he just about died. He asked to shake her hand and started telling his friend that this is the first white person he ever met that knew anything at all about Ethiopia, I wonder what he would have done if she would have started to speak in Amharic to him? Better yet, my 4 year old boy can speak decent Amharic, that would have tripped him out too. So my wife made the day of a local Rasta, strangers crossing in the night but makes for an amusing story.

Personally I have only met one Rasta since we started this process and he was so stoned I don’t know if he noticed I was white, he did notice the Lion of Judah tattoo on my arm though.

Peoples reactions to the adoption can get really funny at times. We’ve been asked if we will have to teach them to wear clothes (they have lived their entire lives in the city of Addis Ababa), if they have ever seen white people before (it was white people that got them off the street). Most of the questions are cute and harmless, but asked enough they are annoying. At this point I want to get a shirt with the following top 10 list:

1) No, we are not “heroes,” we are not “saving them,” they are just as much a part of our family as our biological kids
2) No, English is not their first language, Amharic isn’t ours, but just like we are learning Amharic, they are learning English
3) No, they are not the tribe that speaks in mostly clicks and guttural sounds, although the do have clicks and sound in their language not found in the English language. It’s not as hard as you think to remember to use the clicks and pops when you are speaking their language.
4) No, they are not running around naked at the orphanage. Have you seen a single picture of them naked? They don’t wear shoes, but that has to do with hygiene and cultural preference. Look at any tropical or desert region, see shoes? No? It’s because shoes cause foot fungus (athletes foot and worse) sandals allow the feet to breathe. And look at my family, if I’m not at work, or on my motorcycle have you seen me wear shoes? I don’t think wearing sandals will be a big issue.
5) No, they don’t have lip plates, stretched ears, nose rings, implanted bones or tattoos, but once again, look at my family, would that make them more or less like the rest of us?
6) No, I didn’t know they were black and I was white, thanks for pointing that out, that changes everything.
7) No, food isn’t going to be a major obstacle, two reasons. One, they are learning to eat “American style” at the orphanage. Two, we love Ethiopian food and the custom of “Gursha” our kids ask to eat on the floor and eat with our hands anyways.
8) No, as funny as you think you may be making your smart comments about “buying people from Africa” you are not funny, the comments are hurtful and make my family cringe.
9) No, we will never replace their birth parents. Their birth parents are just as much a part of our family as our kids are. They have a place of honor in our family. In a perfect world, one where Eve never picked the orange (who says it was an apple?), there would be no death, no poverty, no sickness. Unfortunately we live in a dying world, but as the Chosen we are instructed to carry out our Fathers Justice. Reestablishing a family to the orphans is bringing Gods Justice back to what the enemy has stolen.
10) No, I don’t think you could do it either. And for the sake of the children I hope you never try.

Not everyone fits into that category, but adoption, especially trans-racial adoption takes a certain degree of open mindedness and ability to roll with the punches. Life becomes a different boat and not everyone is equipped to handle the ride. For those that are it’s the best trip of a lifetime, one that opens your eyes to aspects of life that you are unable to grasp otherwise. It opens the eyes of the mind to aspects of Gods love that are, at least to me, inaccessible without this experience.