Sunday, July 31, 2011

4-month stats

Sooo, I have been meaning to write this post for two weeks now. Karis turned 4 months old, and this is how she celebrated the day.

She took a bath, and then fell asleep playing in her bumbo. It was really cute, one second she was talking and then the next she was out!

After lunch, she went to the doctor for her 4-month check-up. Everyone commented on how much she had grown. She weighed in at 14.2 lbs, and she was 25 inches long. The doctor said that she was perfect, and then she got her shots. It was awful. She really screamed this time, and then it only got worse when she got home. She had a fever for a few days. I'm glad that is over.

We came home and tried rice cereal again.

She slept most of the rest of the day because of those awful shots. Happy 4-months Kare-bear! We have loved every second of being your parents!

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Thank you all for your prayers yesterday as we just waited. The hearing went well. No one showed claiming to be her birthfather, which makes me reconsider the word choice "well." Adoption is filled with so much joy and pain commingled. It was incredible the giant weight that lifted when we got the email telling us we were in the clear. I mean I knew I was concerned, but I really had no idea how great of a fear I had until it was gone! So, we got that past us and then we put Van on a plane to Poland for the week. You know we like to exchange one stressor for another around here. I am really excited for him. It is a trip through work to visit a ministry that they support. He will have a great time, but we'll miss him. The GREAT news is that we pick Adrienne up from the airport tonight and she will be staying with us. I can't think of anyone better to fill up the empty space in our house. AND, she'll finally get to meet Kare! So excited! Thanks again for you support this week!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Disparity...Since I didn't talk about it last time

I mentioned that my morning run, er, jog, er, walk prompted my posting and then I got a little sidetracked. Here is what I was actually going to talk about.

I had just spent my morning frustrated with my neighborhood crime and lack of support/security, so I drove to the nearest affluent neighborhood to get in my morning exercise. Yep I was a neighborhood traitor this morning, but I just wasn't in the mood to get hit on by a drunk guy, and I really just wanted to be able to think, not have to be acutely aware of my surroundings.

As I started my walk, I looked around at the multi-million dollar homes and began to wonder how long it would take the police to get there if an alarm went off. I would be willing to bet it is a lot quicker than 15 minutes. Which got me thinking about all kinds of injustices between the haves and the have-nots. Let me just give you a picture.

Most mornings I will walk/jog around my neighborhood. The sidewalks are not at all maintained, there are scary dogs in most yards, and I can usually count on being hit on by at least one intoxicated male along the way. Because the sidewalks aren't stroller-usable, I am forced to walk in the street which can be incredibly frustrating because sometimes people do not yield to pedestrians. I usually get passed by cars going entirely to fast for residential streets. I also end up picking up a stray dog or two every once in a while.

This morning, the dogs were on leashes or invisible fences and their owners were picking up their excrement. On my 45-minute walk I was passed by a security truck patrolling the neighborhood and talked briefly with a police officer (on bike) who was also just in the neighborhood to be a presence. I also encountered a few others pushing strollers and a few bikers all who smiled and waved as they passed.

Here is the thing. The sidewalks...not the resident's is the city and since most of my neighbors don't vote or pay much in the way of taxes, we don't get things fixed. The dogs, they are in the place of security guards or police officers who are just being a presence. I bet if there was a police officer on my street, the drunk guy wouldn't walk by (or he would be taken in to sober up).

Some things that I bet you wouldn't find in that multi-million dollar neighborhood that we have: My neighbor going to the house with the alarm sounding because the police were taking so long, to make sure everything was okay, neighborhood basketball games lasting all day, neighborhood kids asking if they can do your yard work so that they can buy school supplies (sad yes, but what responsibility!), an entire block helping fix one neighbor's car that won't start, borrowing lawn equipment. The thing about my neighborhood is that we may be the have-nots as far as possessions, but could go up against anyone in community. See the thing about not needing anyone is that you don't have to have community. It is a trade-off, one that I'm glad I'm on this side long as I can still go on a walk to the good sidewalks every now and then.

Disparity, Fear, and Other Ponderings

1) It is significantly warmer jogging at 9:00 in the morning than at 8:00. I'm just saying...

2) Karis just rolled over from her stomach to her back. This happens on occasion, but not on a regular basis...just keeping you updated. Ooh, she just did it again...maybe she's getting the hang of it! She is currently playing on her play mat. Sometime I'll put up a video of it because it is adorable. She just talks and talks and coos. She loves it.

3) The reason why I was jogging this morning at 9 instead of 8 was not because I slept in, it was because my neighbor's alarm started going off around 7:30 this morning (which prompted this post). I actually composed the post while running, but I don't think it will come out as well now that I'm here. (does anyone else accidentally type know for now and have to correct it? I do it every time.)
Just for authenticity and to give a glimpse of why I'm so all over the place, I'll let you know that I just took a break to feed my baby. Unlike you breastfeeding moms, it takes two hands for me to feed my child. The only other thing I can accomplish during feeding times is getting hooked on crappy TV. My latest is Teen Mom, although I justify it by saying that I am learning about adoption from the birthmother's point of view via Catelynn.

So, my neighbor's alarm was going off, and I called the police. You see, when we were robbed the first time, our alarm was not monitored and so basically it just sounded for a while and then nothing. I was very frustrated with our neighbors that no one had called the police, they just listened to it going off. This morning I was determined to be a good neighbor. Now, I couldn't tell exactly which house it was, and I wasn't about to go looking for which one, so I just sat at the front door watching for something suspicious and/or the police. FIFTEEN minutes later, a police car leisurely drove up. By this time another one of my neighbors had walked around trying to figure out which house it was. I tried to voice my frustration about the lack of a quick response, but at the same time be thankful that they DID respond, because sometimes that doesn't happen. I then went back inside my house and began a battle in my head over whether or not I could go anywhere (and therefore leave my house unoccupied) today.

See, I think about my patterns of coming and going, and the occupancy of my house WAY more than the average person and WAY more than I should. It just comes with being robbed regularly. I had actually been thinking the past few days that we are coming up on the one year anniversary of the last time that we were broken into. This is big, because we have never lived in the house for a full year without being robbed or broken into in some form or fashion. Honestly, because at some point in my life I became a pessimist, I was thinking that it is time for another one.

4) At Fellowship we are going through a sermon series called the God of Rest. It is about fear and worry and how it traps us. From the announcement of the title I have been in a state of conviction. Diaper change break... As I just announced in the previous paragraph, I worry constantly. It is a form of control for me. I somehow think that if I am thinking about it, or if I have thought through something all the way then there will be no surprises, therefore there will be no hurt.

What the sermons have been about have not been what you may expect. "Trust God, he will take care of you." That is true, but He won't always take care of you like you might want. Really they have been, "Trust God, He is good no matter what.

There are many lies floating around in our American Christian culture, but I think that one of the most dangerous is that if you follow Jesus, your life will be easy, safe, and comfortable. "Follow Jesus, he'll get you a good job." Follow Jesus, He'll keep you safe." Do you think that Isaac felt like God was keeping him safe when Abraham put him on the altar? Jesus told the rich young ruler to GIVE all he had to the poor, not invest it in order to build wealth and give the interest to the poor. Does God call all of us to give all we have to the poor? Does God call all of us to sacrifice our children on the altar of public schools or living in "unsafe" neighborhoods? No, he doesn't call all of us to the same thing. In fact, he rarely calls us to the same thing. The point is that a life of following Jesus is not safe, but it is GOOD.

And that is what my head battle is all about. I know that God is good and that His plan is perfect even when (especially when) it is hard. I know that if God were to choose to let us get robbed again, He would have a purpose in that, but I also know from experience that it would be hard and uncomfortable. The sinful side of me fights against being uncomfortable. So what I'm really struggling with/fighting is God's lordship over my life. I am fighting for my kingdom over His Kingdom. I am fighting for the temporary rather than the eternal and not trusting that He really is the most important.

It is very timely that I am having such a battle today with fear and worry, as Friday marks the court date for Karis' birthfather's default hearing. Without going into all of it, Friday there will be a hearing in which her birthfather could show up and claim his rights. It is not very likely, but it could happen. You better believe I can't stop thinking (worrying) about it. I keep trying to play out all scenarios in my head so that I won't be taken off guard by anything. It is all fruitless. Instead of spending all of that energy, I should give it to the Lord. He put her in our home. He knows what is best for all of us. I have to learn to trust. He has shown me in the past that His plans are best, but I am just like those Israelites complaining in the desert.

This is me being very vulnerable. Please keep in mind that I am very hard on myself.

Pray for Friday. Pray for her birthfather. Pray for us. Trust God, and live in light of His kingdom, not your own.

I guess I'll get to disparity later...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Food, Real Food?

Before her 4 month check up, the pediatrician asked us to try giving her rice cereal with a spoon, so that we could talk about it when we got there. Here we are documenting the first time. I think it goes without saying that she didn't love it.

That went on for a few days and then we decided that maybe she didn't like the rice cereal. We waited long enough to look for allergies then tried bananas. It went so much better! She eats them all every time!

A Visit From Isaac

A few days after we returned from the lake, Karis' friend/future husband came for their first playdate. Isaac's mom, Sarah, is one of my best friends from home. Isaac is two months older than Karis, but his due date was the same week she was born, so in my head they are very close in age.

Look, they're holding hands. I don't think Karis likes it though...

We loaded them up in their matching car seats.

And took them to Chick-fil-a and used some of our 1st 100 coupons to get a free lunch. At least we got a free lunch. Isaac had peas. Karis had formula. I think they were jealous though.

It was a fun first visit. Let's do it again soon!

Monday, July 18, 2011

July 4th

The reason for the long break between posts for a while there is that we were at the lake, and one of the many wonderful things about the lake is that there is no internet.

July 4th is one of the few work-free holidays that Van gets, so he took the next two days off in order to have an extended time off of work.
So, we left on Friday and didn't come home until Sunday. It was wonderful! We shot fireworks, rode in the boat, swam, ate lots of food, and spent good time as a family. My siblings and parents were there on Saturday and Sunday, so we got some good time with the fam too.

*Sorry, I don't know what is up with the picture alignment. I am too impatient to just start over.

A Retraction

or I guess just a correction, and then we'll get back to your regularly scheduled programming of cuteness!

In the first grocery store post, at the end, I wrote "a little black girl in a white home." It has driven me absolutely crazy since I posted it, so I just have to fix it. I should have written, "a little black girl with white parents" or something like that.

You see, our home, our family is now 1/3 African American. We are a biracial family. In adopting Karis, a child of color, we took on those issues that we as a solely white family could have easily lived our lives ignoring. There is a great gospel analogy in that. Another post, for another time. I just couldn't go any longer without fixing it.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Grocery Store Encounters Pt. 2

I feel the need to let you know that those examples were two extremes and maybe the most extreme we have encountered. Most of the time the visibility shows itself in stares with both supportive looks and disgust, or stares from people who are trying not to stare...those are my favorite. And really more often than not, when others comment on Karis, it is just to say how cute she is.

But I will say the adoption questions come on a pretty regular basis. Most of the time those are well meaning and come with a "I have a second cousin who is adopted," or "my sister's boyfriend's sister adopted a baby from Africa" (everyone assumes she is from Africa). If I'm being completely honest, those things don't bother me too much. The thing that concerns me is when K gets older and she begins to understand what people are saying. I don't want her to feel the insecurity that comes with constantly being asked "Where she is from," or "Do you know her Mom?"

Enter soap box/lesson on how to speak about adoption in a sensitive way:

I am her Mom. Van is her Dad. If you need to ask a question about her biological parents please refer to them as birthparents or biological parents. I know what you are asking and I probably won't correct you, but know that it is important.

Also (for lack of a better way to say it) it isn't really anyone else's business if we have a relationship with her birthfamily or why they "chose adoption" not "gave her up" (think about the message that portrays to Karis). If you and I have a genuine relationship or if you have honest questions about adoption you can ask me about all of that, but know that it is Karis' story to tell, not mine, so I will have to be vague in the best interest of my daughter.

I feel a little like I am scaring people away from asking me about adoption. Know that I Love adoption and I love to talk about adoption, all I'm asking is that you are sensitive in the way you approach the subject and sensitive in your expectations.

So, basically, the point of this post is to ask you to think before you stare. Think before you speak. Think about what your words portray to those who you are talking to and those that can hear.

There is your daily lesson. Thanks for reading.

Grocery Store Encounters

An interesting side-effect of having a baby that doesn't look like you is that your family is incredibly visible. I used to complain that I wasn't memorable or that I had to introduce myself to people multiple times before they would remember me. That is not the case anymore! Not only does everyone remember having met or seen us, but people everywhere feel the need to talk to us. It is nearly impossible to run errands without someone making some comment or another, negative or positive.

For example:

Last night Van, Karis, and I were shopping for shoes. It was taking a while because we were having trouble making up our minds, so we saw several other people come and go. Only one couple that came by didn't comment on Karis. Now I know that a lot of this comes from her being a baby. I get that, however, we definitely make people curious. I can tell that they are just trying to work it all out in their minds. Last night though, was what I would consider a good encounter. You see, the shoe guy (I don't want to use his real name) was very attentive, and I could tell that he had taken an interest in us but didn't really know what to say. (I'm getting pretty good at reading this look.) After we had made our selections and were going to head to check out, he stopped us. He was apologetic about being so personal, but then basically laid on us that he and his wife were having fertility issues and was just really wanting to ask us about adoption. We then proceeded to spend the next 5-10 minutes educating him on the different adoption agencies in Memphis and how the finances work and different resources that we knew of. Honestly, I loved it. I thought it was a very sweet way to minister to this man who was clearly going through a hard time. I think that our little family gave him hope, and that makes me really happy. That's what I want from our visibility. Well, that and to point people to the gospel, but that is a whole other post (or four).

Then you have the complete other side of the grocery store encounters.

Today: I had to run to Kroger to pick up one thing. I was kind of in a hurry, and Karis was not in a good mood due to her four month shots that she received yesterday. We were standing in the dairy section, when from across the way I hear someone very loudly say, "Someone gave that girl the wrong baby!" At that point my pulse began to race because I knew this could go poorly (as if it already hadn't), but I didn't want to encourage so I pretended to not hear. She continued, "That baby doesn't match, she's the wrong color. That baby matches me, not her." At this point, I sneak a peek. It is an older lady talking to a little boy, and she is walking our way. Still loudly, "I just have to check this out." To me, "Where did you get her? It's a she right?" Now at this point I almost said, "it's the one they gave me at the hospital, Why?" But that wouldn't have been helpful, so I took the meek road, although I'm not sure it was the right one, and just said, "We adopted her." At which point the lady looked at Karis and said. "And she's going to give you a good life, in the name of Jesus." I said, "Yes, ma'am I am," trying to get away. But she continued and asked me her name, then gave me a lecture about how no one would know her color by her name that her mama would have named her Shaniqua or something like that and then people would know where she came from, etc. Finally I ended up getting away, but I was exhausted and wondered if it was worth the milk that we had gone to pick up, but mostly thankful that Karis wasn't old enough to understand or worry about how "we don't match" and become insecure about it. We have a big job on our hands in order to set our little girl up as secure and happy in who God has made her to be, a little black girl in a white home. (In Memphis no less)

I think I might start sharing our encounters like this, so that you can see them from our point of view, the people who stand out, and then maybe share some ideas on how you can appropriately and sensitively interact with others who stand out, at the grocery store or anywhere else.

When we first began looking into adoption we were told that we would have to be the world's teachers on adoption. I am beginning to see how that is true. Can I teach you?