Aiming Arrows

Musings of a Mommy

Category: Adoption

Bethany Fashion Show & A Give Away

I love Bethany Christian Services!  Our two children came to us through Bethany so of course I’m crazy about Bethany, but I also love their outstanding dedication and ministry to birth moms.  There will always be women who need the option of adoption for their unplanned pregnancy, and there will always be couples who can’t have children biologically.  Bethany is the hands and feet for the God designed provision of adoption.  Bethany is meeting a need and making a difference in the lives of people in Arkansas, so I’m so excited to tell you about an opportunity to support this non profit that is so dear to me!  One function of the Bethany Board is fund raising.  To that end the board members are hosting a Brunch and Fashion show in Little Rock which is where the Arkansas Bethany headquarters are located.

Who are the models you ask?  I’ll give you two hints.  #1  They are five years and two and a half years old.  #2 Their names begin with G.  (Of course, there will be other models too, and I’m sure they are just as cute as these two!)

The event is just over a week away!  Please call right away for your tickets!

(Keep reading for information on the give away – a  free photo session.)

Now for news of the free photo session:

For the first TWO people to call Bethany and buy tickets to the Brunch & Fashion Show, I’m offering a completely free photo session!  So many of you have supported us in our adoptions.  As I was thinking of how I could thank you my photography hobby came to mind.  Even though I’m just an amateur photographer I want you to know this gift comes from my heart and I think we can come up with some images you will enjoy!

Tickets are available online but in order to be counted for the free photo session you must call Bethany and you must tell them you heard about it on my blog.  They will then give me your contact information so I can get in touch to set up your session.

Some specifics on the photography session:

  • I will give you at least 20 images on a CD for you to print, use in your scrapbooks, post online or whatever you desire.
  • So that it doesn’t get to hot for us, sessions need to be scheduled and completed before June 11, 2011.
  • I prefer to shoot outside but can do inside especially if you want a newborn session.
  • Please remember I’m an amateur, but I love photography and I’m so happy to give you a keepsake for your own precious family!
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Graceanna’s Adoption Story

I read this blog called Kelly’s Korner and every Friday she hosts “Show Us Your Life.”  This week the topic is Adoption, so you know I’m really excited about this topic!  I’ve never linked up with another blog like this and I think I should have gone about it differently (since I’ve already posted my link…:)) Anyway, I decided to write this little post and include all the links to Graceanna’s story in case someone wants to read all 6 of them.

Someday soon I write and share on the blog all about Gunnar’s adoption story.  That will be another day though…

Here’s a glimpse of the road that lead to Graceanna!

Loss Along the Way (#1)

Heart Sickness on the Road (#2)

Fear Blocking the Path (#3)

Our Good Gift (#4)

What’s in a Name? (#5)

Happy Birthday! (#6)

Vision From the Prodigal’s Father

It seems we all love the story Jesus told of the prodigal son.  We’ve heard it often in sermons.  Maybe we’ve even read it several times on our own.  I think the draw is that on any given day or season of our life we can relate to at least one person in the story.  Prior to having children of my own, I  vacillated between identifying with each of the brothers.  I was so appalled that the son would ask his father for his inheritance.  Talk about inappropriate and disrespectful!  To me it sounds like he not only couldn’t wait for his father to die but he didn’t care much about his father while he was living. 

As Gunnar’s birth was approaching in the fall of 2005, I was thinking about the kind of relationship I hoped to develop with my son.  One of the most important things to me was that I would be a person with whom he could be himself.  I don’t want my children to have fear of being embarrassed by their questions or desires.  As we walk through issues of character development I don’t want them to experience shame and guilt but rather inspiration, encouragement, and always love.  Character development is always painful but I hope they will not feel alone on their journey.  This type of relationship looks different with my 22 month old daughter than with my 4 year old son.  And, it certainly will look different when they are teenagers and then adults.  I haven’t always achieved this goal in my interactions with them, but my failures don’t make it any less important for me to keep trying.

With my vision for our family relationships still developing in my mind, I found my thoughts about Jesus’ story of the prodigal son changing.  I began wondering, how did the father develop a relationship with his son that would allow him to ask any question no matter how inappropriate!  Yes, the son’s question is still awful, but I love that he asked his father for what he wanted.  I imagine there had to be a sense of safety with his father.  I imagine he also knew the father loved him extravagantly.  

I am teaching Gunnar about things that are not appropriate to ask people, and we’ve had a few learning experiences as of late.  However, for his daddy and me, I want him to ask us anything.  I believe he will also learn to curb some interactions with us by learning of appropriateness with others, but I really don’t care if he doesn’t.  It is so important to me that he feels completely safe to let his emotions out, his desires be known, and his questions asked.

The topic of adoption is one that I adamantly believe must be explored with honesty.  It’s tricky though.  A young child may be ready to identify themselves as an adoptee, but they certainly cannot be expected to understand, embrace, or feel comfortable with some of the more emotional or complex relational aspects of adoption.  Pictures and letters from birthfamilies are treasures but they must be saved for a time when the adoptee is mature enough to handle the information.  Even with the realization that some of the wonderful details of Gunnar’s adoption story needed to wait until he was older, I really thought he should at least know he was adopted, but he didn’t.  I’m not totally sure that even today, he would say, “I was adopted.”

About 9 months ago, I called Bethany, because I was alarmed to realize that not only did Gunnar not know he was adopted, he had no idea what the word meant.  I was stunned because I don’t think hardly a day goes by that I don’t talk about adoption in my general routine.  My social worker at Bethany assured me it was not uncommon for young boys to show no interest or knowledge of adoption and the disinterest can often last several years.  With my fears relieved we went on about our life.

My first indication of Gunnar’s interest came right after Memorial Day weekend when he asked me why Graceanna’s skin was brown.  I think he’s always been aware her skin was brown but having a brown skinned sister was totally normal to him, so there were no curiosities about it.  I told him I wasn’t sure why God made her skin dark brown and his a very, light brown – almost white.  He seemed satisfied.  I, however, had to bite my tongue really hard to keep from talking about all sorts of things that he wasn’t really asking.

Early this week, I was talking on the phone with someone who thinks the foster baby they have may go back to her family.  My friend was sad of course, and I shared some of my experiences from when Garrison went home with his birthmom.  Gunnar was listening while we talked and he wanted to know “what family is Garrison in now?”  I questioned him about whether or not he knew Garrison and he pointed to the picture of him we have in our living room.  Then, I told him that after Garrison was born we thought God was giving him to us so we could be his family, but instead his birthmom wanted to keep him in her family.  Again, Gunnar seemed satisfied and I again had to bite down on my tongue.

Yesterday, I received some relief for my tongue!  Gunnar asked, “Mommy where do we get babies?”  I explained that God grew a baby in the tummy of a woman.  If Gunnar had been 16 years old, a significant roll of the eyes would have accompanied his response, “I know that; but Graceanna didn’t grow in your tummy.”  Aha!  He really is asking for more!  “That’s right Gunnar.  Graceanna grew in the tummy of another lady and then God gave Graceanna to us to be her family….The same thing is true for you.”  “I didn’t grow in your tummy?”  “Nope.  Isn’t it amazing how God made our family?”  “Yep.”  (Sidenote:  I bristle at using the term “another lady” for their birthmoms, but in the moment that’s what I used.  I want them to connect the dots about having a birthmom when they are ready.  Right now I believe they are both too young to have a meaningful and accurate understanding of the fact that they had another mommy before me.  As they get older, they will get more and more details about their own adoptions and I look forward to those conversations too!)  I think that’s going to be his last question for a while on this topic, but we’ll see.  As much as his constant talking can wear me out, I hope he never stops asking these kind of questions.

So, while there is a lot I don’t understand about the prodigal son’s father, through Him, I gained a vision for our family.  This week I believe I saw glimpses of that vision joining me in real life!

“Pure and Undefiled”

“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress…”  James 1:27

I have heard that verse quoted countless times by adoption and foster care related ministries and organizations, but I always walk away wondering what it really means.  Today I came a little closer to having some ideas through hearing from one of the speakers of Summit VI – John Piper.  (Yes!  John Piper!  I want to go to Summit VI just to hear and see him in person!)  Click here to see a 2 minute video from John Piper where he very, very briefly gives his thoughts about why caring for orphans is pure and undefiled religion.

So, what’s all this Summit VI about?  Well, it’s a conference hosted by Christian Alliance for OrphansOne of their goals is to organize Christians to speak with a united voice on behalf of orphans which is how I have become involed – part of that united voice through my blog!  So my first post is regarding Summit VI which they are hosting in Minneapolis, MN on April 29-30, 2010. 

Are you interested in knowing what to do with your passion for the orphans as a result of the earthquake in Haiti, the children in our own country who have never felt the comfort and security of a family and home, or maybe you are stirred by the dark skinned, curly haired, brown eyed girl you’ve dreamed about for months?  No matter which spot on the globe draws your heart, you can find answers at Summit VI.  They will have several great speakers including John Piper as I mentioned and also Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman.  Check out the website or contact me for more information.  It should prove to be inspiring as well as informative.

Now is the time to do something with the fervor in your heart.  Don’t let fear stop you.  So, you are not ready to adopt yet?  Well, at least get some answers to your questions.  Maybe you will learn that foster care or giving financially is your calling rather than adopting.  I can only imagine how great Summit VI will be for answering questions and confirming your desire to answer the command to visit orphans in their distress.  I hope you will consider taking that next step.

One final thought; for those of you who are local, Steve and I can connect you with the right people in our area to answer your questions and begin your journey!

Adoption Tax Credit Expiring

Hello blog friends!  I’ve been away from blogging for a couple weeks but plan to get back to it soon.  For now, I want to just pass on some information I saw today regarding the adoption tax credit.

For more information please go to www.adoptioncouncil.org and for the specific tax information you can click on this link http://www.adoptioncouncil.org/documents/AdoptionAdvocate21.pdf 

The adoption tax credit as provided for in the 2001 legislation is set to sunset in tax year 2010 unless it is renewed by Congress.  If it expires, the maximum tax credit for the adoption of children with special needs would decrease to $6,000 per child, with the credit for adoptions of non-special needs children expiring altogether.  Several bipartisan proposals have been introduced in both the House and Senate that could extend the adoption tax credit. S 2816 and HR 213, introduced in the Senate by Sen. Jim Bunning and Sen. Ben Nelson and in the House of Representatives by Rep. Joe Wilson, would make the tax credits permanent and expand the current credit.

 

The Middle Mom – Book Reccomendation

The Middle Mom: How to Grow Your Heart by Giving It Away ...a foster mom's journey

The Middle Mom is an easy read that tugged at my heart-strings and made me think about my priorities at every page turn.  It’s written by a woman I have met a few times and she warmed my heart and ministered to me during our journey to Graceanna.  She is as sweet as she sounds.  In her book, she tells about her experience loving many children in her home as a foster mom and also an adoptive mom.

On page one Christie reminisces about being a child and wanting to be a black singer.  I don’t know if Christie is a singer or not, but she is most definitely not black.  After completing the book, I was still thinking about this inconsequential story and something was resonating with me.  Finally, I reached into the recesses of my memory and I realized I had the same dream minus the singing.

To find my story believable at all, you need to know I can walk outside and come back in with a tan.  And who doesn’t love a good tan!  Even though I like that deep golden glow of summer, I lather on the sunscreen these days.  However, this story occurred before the skin cancer awareness days.

So, my great tanning, lead to a conversation with my dad.  Our conversation went something like this, “Dad, you know how I get really dark in the summer?”  “Yes…”  “You know, in the summer when I’m really dark… do you think people might think I am part African-American?”  “Well, sure.  I think that’s possible.  You do get really dark.”  Yes!  And, off to school I went.

I was in about first or second grade.  It was a crisp, cool, fall day.  Several of us were on the monkey bars and I had an announcement I couldn’t wait to make!    I made sure I was in good position for maximum ears and I blurted out, “I’m probably part black.  One of my biologic parents must have been African American.”

Where was the excitement?  Why are they looking at me with blank faces?  You don’t think so?  I hurried to add my proof.  “I’m very, very dark in the summer.”

The moment passed.  We all resumed trying to cross the bars without falling to the sand.  I was very disappointed.  No one seemed to agree that my conclusion was likely.  Actually, I think they thought I was crazy.

Twenty-five (or so) years later, this desire still rings true for me and while I’ll never be black, I enjoyed this memory and the emotions The Middle Mom stirred in me.   Even my mom, who doesn’t like to read too much, read it in one day.  Now, that’s an endorsement!

I just included my little story to bring you a little humor and to share a little bit more of my craziness.  I want to be clear, children in foster care are ALL colors.  And, Christie’s book is not about fostering or adopting “outside your race.” Her book is about her heart which has been broken as she grieves the babies she’s loved deeply and then lost.  It’s also about her heart which continues to grow in capacity to love even more and show others that it’s possible for us too.  We can make a difference.  Even if you have no intention of ever fostering or adopting, I hope you will read this book.  Maybe it will stir memories of a childhood dream or stir your heart into action by finding a way to care for the truly innocent ones.  If nothing else, it will open your eyes to the real experiences in a world you may not know exists.

To buy her book and find out more, click here.    She also has a blog I have enjoyed.

Seoul Teeth!

I’m totally cracking up at my catchy title.  But, let’s move on to my two tidbits for the day.

Last Friday, Uncle Taylor came by our house for a minute.  He was playing with Graceanna and commented about her teeth.  I was sure he’d seen her two teeth before, but he pointed out the giant swollen spot where the top tooth was about to break through.   I can’t believe I had missed it until then.  Graceanna was miserable all day Saturday, and the tooth barely broke through that night.  Her gums are still puffy in that spot.  I’ve never seen gums get that big in the “tooth coming through” process.

I also want to share my friend’s blog with you.  Catherine is one of my first friends.  I have no idea how old we were when we met, but it was definitely before we started kindergarten.  We shared life all through High School and it’s been so fun to be in contact with her again through adoption and blogging! 

Catherine and her husband just met their son, Daniel in Seoul, Korea!  They posted pictures already and he is so, so cute.  I’m talking melt your heart cute.  It’s been so fun to read about their adoption journey.  The next couple days should be fun to watch unfold through her blog.  I think she said they would be coming back to the US on Thursday.  So fast!  Anyway, her blog is I Smell Elephants on my side bar.  Check it out!

So, do you get my title?  Seoul Teeth!  I’m still chuckling.  I realize this is probably not nearly as funny to anyone else.  But, it is my blog, so I can make my own jokes and laugh at them too.

Gotcha Day and Big Brother Day

Hi everyone!  I’m still here.  Thanks for checking on me.  I will be back from my little blog break soon and posting pictures from Graceanna’s party. 

Tomorrow we celebrate Gotcha Day and Big Brother Day!  September 16, is the day we got Graceanna and the day Gunnar became a big brother.  We’re new to the Gothca Day celebration.  We never really felt like we had Gotcha Day with Gunnar because we were there when he was born and with him since.  But, I’m looking forward to marking the day with thanking God for our two baby blessings!

On another note, I’d like to ask you all to pray for a forever family to be found for two little girls.  They are 2 and 4.  I hope to post more about them soon.  But, please take a minute to pray right now that their family would be nudged into action so they can be united with their two daughters.  I fervently pray these girls get to have the arms of their forever mommy and daddy around them soon.

Happy Birthday! (#6 in a series)

Happy Birthday Graceanna!

You were worth the wait.

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What’s in a name? (#5 in a series)

Graceanna Catherine

In the case of our new daughter, there’s a lot of meaning in her name and I’ve been excited to share the story on my blog!  When Steve and I began the application process for our second child, we really struggled with names for girls.  For us to struggle with a name is not surprising in the least.  Gunnar was almost 12 hours old before we settled on his name, and even then, I thought about changing it for weeks.  “Graceanna” was one name we tossed around quite a bit, but we weren’t certain that’s what we would choose or even if we’d stay with G names.  I was really dreading the moment when we’d need to make a definitive decision since it had been so difficult the first time around.

As Steve walked in the door at 7:30 on the morning we received the call from Bethany, his first words were, “The name that keeps rattling in my brain is Graceanna.”  This was confirmation to me of two things:  1.  this baby was meant to be ours and 2. her name was indeed to be Graceanna, because when Janna called that morning she told me that her interim care family had been calling her Anna Grace.

When we met Graceanna’s foster mom, she told us that almost a year ago they decided to do interim care for Bethany babies, and  Graceanna was their first baby.  Their 3 children were really excited about having a baby in the home too.  Their daughter picked the name for their first baby girl, and for almost a year they had been planning to call her Abigail.  But, after seeing the baby she didn’t think she looked like an Abigail but rather Anna Grace.  So, picking our daughter’s name was easy, unlike the first time around. 

This sweet family spent Graceanna’s first 12 days loving her, and bonding with her, and feeding her in the night, and worrying about her stuffy nose, and just treating her as their own beloved daughter.  So, it meant a lot to them that she still has the name they gave her too.  Incidentally, this family is compromised of a mom and dad with 3 children, all of whom came to their family through Bethany.  Though we didn’t know this family, they are in-laws to some of Steve and my most admired Christian leaders and mentors.  Also, the mom’s name is Leanna.  The only other Leanna I know is my dear friend who was my maid of honor.  So, we had lots of super sweet connections with them.

They gave me lots of sweet pictures from Graceanna’s time with them.  With permission, I’m sharing a picture of Graceanna with Leanna on the day she brought her to us at Bethany.  The love of a foster family was evident in her torrent of tears, and the difficulty with which she said good bye.  Also, we were sitting in the same room receiving our daughter where Leanna had received her own children years ago.  What a special moment for me and all of us.

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Graceanna’s middle name, “Catherine” is also very special because it is in memory of my grandma.  I have known for years I wanted to name a daughter after her, because my grandma was one of the most special people to me.  Even though she lived an airplane ride away, I spent a lot of time with her.  As a child, we spent long summer days working on sewing projects, watching baby chics hatch, eating ice cream, mowing the grass, picking strawberries from the garden, and Grandma read to me all the time.  I so loved hearing her tell stories about the dogs she had loved, growing up years, and her years in college.  She had a Master’s degree, by the way.  Grandma was the kind of woman who at 85+ was still using a computer and sending emails.  She mowed her own yard and kept a garden well in to her eighties.  She could run circles around any of us.  Every night she ended her day by writing in her journal and reading a couple chapters in her Bible. 

I’m having a hard time really describing our sepcial relationship and the things I loved about her.  But, maybe that’s what makes a person touch our hearts this way.  It wasn’t just one great thing about her.  It was her whole essence and the integrity in which she lived her life.  I miss her terribly. 

Grandma loved children, and in fact the last couple years before she died, she was still tutoring students in math and other subjects.  Grandma was really looking forward to being a great grandma.  This is a picture of Grandma with Gunnar when he was 4 months old, she was so happy to finally have a great grandchild and to get to meet him.  Grandma died when she was almost 93, September 5, 2006  – within 2 days of Graceanna’s birth 2 years later.

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