I could think of a thousand reasons I’m a terrible blogger. I think one of the main ones…and hear me say “think”…is that I just don’t like flipping to another site. So, I’ve started a Facebook page and am going to try to be a better blogger over there. Want to follow along? Like us and I’ll jump in your feed occasionally. Hopefully a bit more than I would over here.
Check it out – – Around the World and 2 (or more) Kids.
First of all…hello. I haven’t written in a while. I go back and forth on whether to shut down the blog, but decided to write off some quick thoughts.
A lot lately has me wondering about race. Whether we make enough of it? too much of it? should disregard it?
Starting about a year ago my daughter pointed out that we were different colors. We talked a lot about the fact that we were “light brown” and she was a “darker brown.” We aren’t, after all, literally black and white. We are degrees on a scale…various shades of brown to some degree. This summer, I would love to be a few shades darker, but darn you skin cancer…you scare me. But that’s another post.
Then, my daughter changed the conversation one day in the car.
“Dad…I wish we were all brown.”
I was crushed. I hated to think that at age four she was already wishing we were all the same color. I didn’t want her to have those kinds of thoughts until much later…if ever. A pipe dream, I know.
I asked her why she thought that and then went on to explain that I loved the variety in our family. I told her that God puts different families together in different ways, and that our family included a variety of colors. I also told her that I hoped one day she would appreciate it, even if she didn’t right at the moment.
The comments repeated every once in a while. We would listen and talk each time, trying not to shut down the conversation and letting her know it was okay to feel what she felt.
Now…flip back a bit. In 2008 when we were in training for our adoption, we got to know Kenny and Jill really well. We ended up both adopting around the same time and our daughters were within four months of each other in age. To this day, our E-Girl and their E-Girl (crazy we picked very similar names) are friends. They are always affectionate to each other and have a great time together. Besides the fact that we love Kenny and Jill so much, we always wanted to stay close to them so our daughters would always have a similar reference when it comes to family. We thought it may come in handy when they were teenagers…but never dreamed it would be when our E-Girl was four.
Eating breakfast one morning…out of the blue:
E-Girl: You know, E-Girl (her friend) is brown.
A: Yes, that’s right…she’s brown like you.
E-Girl: And Kenny and Jill…they’re white like you.
Me: Yeah…Kenny and Jill and me and your mom are white.
E-Girl: So, Kenny and Jill are white and E-Girl is brown.
E-Girl: (in a satisfied tone) Humph.
And that’s the last we’ve heard about the wishing we were all brown discussion.
On an interesting note, I was talking to my brother (who is a social worker extraordinaire) about my distress about the entire conversation, and he said “I think it says something about how she feels about herself that she wants you two to be brown…she didn’t say she wanted to be white.”
And that made me smile.
We were fortunate to spend the week of Thanksgiving in New York City. Some of our close friends moved there in September for graduate school, so we had a weeklong slumber party in ther “mo-partment” as E-Girl calls it. We flew up on miles and stayed for free…so it was our cheap, adoption process New York City vacation.
A and I have been several times, so it was so fun to go with E-Girl and see it through her eyes. The trip was so different with a slower pace, but it was fun. E-Girl loved it. She kept telling our friends they live in a “cool New York City,” and has asked several times if we can go back.
Here are a few shots from the trip. Well…maybe more than a few!
E loved riding in the cab. As a matter of fact we saw a yellow car today and she started yelling “we rode in a car like that in New York City!” Our driver was from Africa, too. Quite a fun connection.
E-Girl loves these two boys. She was so excited to see them, and the week involved lots of giggling and running around the apartment.
Our friends live on Columbia’s campus, and there was an incredible park nearby we went to. She had fun…because she was with “Jonafin and Austin”…and because we were no longer travelling.
E-Girl loved the subway. She would just walk right on, grab a seat or just sit by someone. It was pretty funny to watch acutally. She is definitely a city girl!
E-Girl looks a little stressed, because right beside me was a mime dressed as the Statue of Liberty. She was not amused by his skills at all. Or his presence really. She was done.
E loved the Rockettes. She was totally mesmerized by the show and kept tapping my arm saying “when I older I can be a Rockette? I told her she could work really hard in her dance class and try! It was so fun.
Seriously? Is she not the cutest? I can say it since I didn’t make her. She’s cute. Super cute.
We got to meet some friends we have only known through blogs and Facebook. They adopted from Ethiopia this year and have the most adorable little girl. We think these two would make some cute babies…or adopt some, too. We decided we would save these photos for their rehearsal dinner.
We ate at the Red Rooster Harlem and met Chef Marcus Samuelsson…and did you know he was an Ethiopian adoptee raised by a family in Sweden? I started tweeting him the week before we went to tell him we wanted to meet him, and he actually responded with his schedule at the restuarant. We were so glad he stopped by…he is one of the nicest people. He scooped up E and told her “I’m from Addis, too!”
A and our friend Joyce cooked dinner together. It was really such a great time staying with them. They are some of the most gracious people who opened up their home, and we really seemed like one big family that week. We laughed so much, ate most meals together and share bathroom space together (see below). It was so fun getting to say with them…thanks for letting us crash your space!
Okay, if you’ve never been to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade…you have to do it at some point. A and I had been twice before with friends over ten years ago, but it’s so different from the kid’s point of view. It’s a madhouse for sure. You are literally there with a few million other people – so subways, sidewalks, streets are all crazy crowded. But there is a fun energy in the air and the kids had so much fun! You could always tell when a great balloon was coming because you could hear them screaming up the street. So fun. You must do it!
After the parade, the streets are clear and you finally get to spread out. This picture was taken in the middle of Central Park West…probably the only time of the year you can grab a shot like this. The time with our friends at the parade is definitely a memory we’ll always remember. So fun.
That night about five we had dinner at our friends’ apartment. They invited friends from town, and it was such an incredibly special time. There were Haitians, French, Jamaican, Brazilian, Ethiopian and American people there. Such an image of God’s kingdom. Such a fun spirit. Great food made even better by great people. It was really one of the most fun Thanksgivings of my life.
We got to go to breakfast at Sarabeth’s, one of our favorite places in New York. We met Shonnie (in the back), Adam and Leighanne. They all grew up at our church and were part of the College Ministry when I was College Minister. Now they are all big city folks with jobs and stuff. It was a highlight to see them. Some of my favorite’s for sure!
It was a great Thanksgiving. It was fun seeing such a familiar city new the eyes of E-Girl. Her amazement and joy made it new again for us.
Hope you had a great Thanksgiving, too!
Three years ago it was a tired morning for us! We were up to bat for court in Ethiopia, and we were really ready for it to go through. We had been through several times before and it was getting frustrating. You can read all about those in the archive…starting in June 08 through October!
But this time was different. We passed. We hate waited up until after 3am praying. It was a very moving time as we got Facebook messages and tweets all through the wee hours of friends praying for us literally all around the world. We got a call about 3:30am telling us we had passed court, and A and I literally jumped out of bed yelling, jumping and praising God for what He had done.
Happy Family Day, sweet E-Girl! We are grateful that God brought us together. We are thankful that you are doing so well and bring such happiness and joy to our lives. We are so grateful we get a Family Day…and that we get to share it with you!
I don’t really even know what I was doing four years ago. I wish I did. It was before children…and when I really blogged quite often. But I didn’t blog on October 9th, 2007. I wish I had. It was the day E-Girl was born.
Several thousand miles from here a little girl – literally little as we have her hospital records – was born in a hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
We were living in Texas.
A mother was worried about how she would take care of her little girl in the middle of such difficult circumstances she found herself in.
We were worried China’s adoption program was going nowhere and we were never going to be parents.
But two families, from very different circumstances, different continents, different races and different languages were beginning to weave together that day.
Our little girl is four today. To think of the trajectory of her short life is astounding. I often wrestle with the reality of it: a sweet little girl born into utter poverty in Ethiopia had a birthday party yesterday that cost more than many people in her home country live on for a year. That’s really not a statement about extravagent parties as it is a statement about the dire economic situation of most Ethiopians. A girl who would have had a much more difficult and simpler life in Ethiopia has found herself in America, the only child of a couple who will be able to provide her with so much. Again, not a statement about our (nonexistent by American standards) wealth, but a statement about the limited opportunities for women in Ethiopia. It’s astounding.
I’m always a bit emotional on E-Girl’s birthdays. I’m reminded again of the family that loved her dearly in Ethiopia, yet could not provide for her. I’m reminded again of the economic inequality that even led her to be living with us. I’m reminded again of the wild lottery that is played out everyday of where you are born and how that simple fact can dictate so much about your life. I’m in awe of a God that can do incredible things in the lives of people even in the midst of the saddest situations for some, that, cruelly, become the happiest of situations to others.
I’m drawn back to that day in Ethiopia, where we got to meet some of E-Girl’s extended family. I’m reminded of the love they had for her long before we knew her. I’m reminded of the fact that we are the beneficiaries of someone else’s sacrificial choice to provide for a little girl in the best way they could…even if it meant loosing contact with her. I’m reminded again how being born in America, with educational opportunities and economic opportunities can mean so much more is possible. I’m reminded of that day when my wife and I sat in the backseat of a dusty four-door Toyota pickup truck, watching E-Girl’s birth family walk off into the crowd in Addis Ababa. Tears streaming down our faces and a deep pain in our souls. Wondering if we would ever see them again. I still hope we can.
So, I’m pensive on her birthday, but I’m also grateful. And happy. I’m glad that sweet E-Girl is in my life. I’m awed by her spirit, her humor, her “run the world” attitude, her ability to make people feel comfortable, her spunk, her self-confidence, her sillyness, and…most of the time at least…her stubbornness. I think her strong will and spirit will do her well. No one pulls the wool over E-Girl’s eyes.
That is for sure.
So, happy birthday, sweet E-Girl. I’m all smiles with you today, in the middle of cupcakes, paper chains, pink balloons, twinkling lights, new bicycles and dress up shoes, smocked dresses and phone calls. It’s a day to celebrate the wonderful person you are and to express our gratitude for all He’s done in our family.
And one day, when you’re much older, we’ll talk about how this day makes me think. And makes me reflect. And makes my a little sad in some ways. We’ll have that discussion some other time.
And to E-Girl’s family in Ethiopia. Know we love your little girl more than we love our own lives. She is thriving and intelligent. Funny and spunky. Proud of her Ethiopian heritage and quite adept at expressing her mind. We hope she is all you would have wanted when you made that painful choice four years ago.
We are thinking of you, today, as we celebrate our sweet E-Girl.
P.S. A made her birthday dress…isn’t it great?
Oh, and we’ve got our new line of ornaments up on our Etsy store. There are ornaments for China, Russia, India, Guatemala, the United States and lots of African ones. Check them out here. Plus – my blog readers can use coupone code BLOG2011 to get 5% off through October 10th! I know it’s not a lot off…but hey…I’m raising money for adoption number two!
Last year, word of mouth is what helped our sales so much…so if you can, please post a link on your blog, your Facebook, Twitter, adoption forums, listserves, etc! It will help us out so much!
As most of you know, I am a minister. It was a series of events in college that led me to realize God was calling me to work in full-time service. I realized I would get more satisfaction in life doing ministry than I would other things. While many professors didn’t understand my choice – I did pretty good in college – my friends all said “we were wondering when you would figure it out.”
I went to seminary thinking I would be a youth minister. I definitely didn’t want to preach. I certainly couldn’t lead music. Most of my ministry experience had been working with youth. So that’s where I figured I would be…because it was all I knew.
I left for seminary in 1992. Hot on the trail of a master’s degree in Christian Education with an emphasis in Youth Ministry. It was what I studied all three years for…and actually what I graduated with in 1995.
But in the fall of 1994, I took a class called “Church and the University Student.” In it, I learned about church-based college ministry. I had never heard of it…a College Minister? My college church, in which I was very active, had a Youth Minister that would occasionally drop by and see us…but I didn’t even realize College Ministers even existed. College had been very important in my spiritual development, and the thought of college ministry excited me a lot.
So in August of 1995, I started in college ministry. As a College Minister. And it’s what I did for the first fourteen years of my career. All the time I had imagined I would be a Youth Minister, but I was following my call into ministry not quite knowing where it would take me. It would take me where I didn’t know. And it took me some where I loved.
Now, I also got married in 1995. There were many times I had a feeling that parenthood was going to be different for me and my wife. Quite frankly, I thought it may be that we were going to have a child with some sort of physical handicap. I had even mentioned it to my wife. I couldn’t quite place my finger on it, but I knew the road was going to be different somehow. I imagined it must be some sort of physically handicapped child, because it was all I knew.
But, again, God led me to where I didn’t know. I had heard of adoptive families before, but I didn’t really know many personally, and I had never explored what it was really all about. But God led me where I needed to be. An adoptive dad of an amazing Ethiopian girl.
My parenting experience is quite different from many. I get questions all the time in public. I see people look around when we’re at the waterpark wondering where the black girl’s parents are. I get the popcorn at Target offered to the black man behind me when my daughter asks because “I’m going to give it to your daddy.” It’s nothing difficult, but it is different. And it comes with responsibility: helping people understand adoption, the orphan crisis, the amazing country of Ethiopia, how everyone can adopt – even fertile people! I followed my call into parenthood not quite knowing where it would take me. It would take me where I didn’t know. And it took me some where I loved. And was loved.
Ephesians tells us that God can do more than we ask or imagine. That’s a pretty powerful statement. We can limit our lives when we stick with only what we know. So, what do you not know?
*Side note: I’m going to try to post more often. Can’t believe it’s been this long. We have a lot to catch up on! I’ll write more later, but…we’ve started our second adoption from Ethiopia!