Tuesday, December 14, 2010

More Pictures - Family Photos

We just had some family photos taken by our friend Kelsey.

Click on photo to start slideshow

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Trimming the Tree

I love some of these pictures from our family tree decorating party.

Click on picture to begin slideshow

Monday, December 6, 2010

What Qualifies as Rich?

With all of America's financial woes lately, I've been thinking a lot about how easy it is to take for granted what you have. So many people have lost jobs (and are still looking), homes, cars and life seems much harder than it used to be. But, what is poverty or wealth for that matter? The United States for the last half-century or more has been the wealthiest nation in the world, so I always have trouble with discussions of America's poverty, especially since I've seen poverty in other countries beyond anything imaginable here.

As I stumbled upon this article tonight, The New Rich: How Much Does It Take?", I thought again about what true wealth or true poverty really is. Growing up I saw extravagant wealth in places like Saudi Arabia where some people literally live in palaces. I also saw in Indonesia, Thailand, Africa, China and several other places, poverty like nothing seen here in the U.S.A. I remember one trip to Indonesia seeing entire neighborhoods filled with shacks that literally had only 3 walls. The open would-be 4th wall faced the dirt road where traffic rushed by and children played with empty coke bottles and trash. It was shocking then and still is to me now.

So, when I read in this article that having a million dollars really means you're middle class, and that in some parts of the country you can't even buy a home with a million dollars, all I can think about is that we're not so bad off after all. In America being poor means you only have 1 car and you can't buy name-brand clothes, but let's face it, that's not poverty in a life-threatening sense. That's just inconvenient.

I submit that true poverty has less to do with money and more to do with quality of life, happiness and personal peace. There have been times when my husband and I were poor by almost every American measure (although in other countries we would've been considered middle class) but I never felt deprived because we had peace and happiness with each other and our children. Our priority was not on having a lot of things, but on having a happy family. Now that we are more established, I don't feel any richer than before. We are just as "rich" now as we were back then. We love each other, love our children and love God.

So, while the world concerns itself with just how much it takes to be rich, I can't help but feeling like they're missing the point entirely. You can have billions of dollars, everything your heart desires, and still be miserable and alone. In contrast, you can have no material things to speak of but be entirely at peace and happy if you have what really matters...those things that DO go with you after this life: family, friendship, love, faith, knowledge and peace of conscience.

Here's my definition of wealth:

Monday, November 29, 2010


After over 3 months of health problems including surgery, I am finally feeling like myself again...for the most part :-) The main thing is that I don't wake up in pain or feeling like it's going to take every ounce of my energy just to get out of bed and feed whichever baby is crying at that moment. I am healthy again!

When I think about all that has happened in the last couple of years, it is overwhelming. It's no wonder my body rebelled and broke down. Here are all the changes that we've experienced in the last 2 years:

  • Kent got a new job - (OCT 2008)
  • I got called as RS president and Kent as assistant ward clerk (the exact callings we had in our previous ward BTW) - (OCT 2008)
  • We bought and moved into our first home - (NOV 2008)
  • We started the adoption process - (NOV 2008)
  • Kent finished his masters thesis and graduated - (DEC 2008)
  • Forest was born and became a part of our family - (MAR 2009)
  • Both sets of grandparents (Kent's side and mine) left for missions overseas - (MAY 2009)
  • We finalized Forest's adoption and were sealed to him - (NOV 2009)
  • Found out Forest's birthmom was pregnant again and started the adoption process again - (DEC 2009)
  • I was released as RS president - (FEB 2010)
  • Forest's birthmom disappeared (and probably kept the baby) - (FEB 2010)
  • We were matched with a new birthmom due in May - (APR 2010)
  • At the end of May she changed her mind and decided to parent her baby - (MAY 2010)
  • My parents came home from their mission - (JUN 2010)
  • My sister got married - (JUN 2010)
  • We were matched to Kiira's birthmom - (JUN 2010)
  • 2 weeks later Kiira was born almost 4 weeks early...surprise!!! - (JUL 2010)
  • Kiira became a part of our family - (JUL 2010)
  • We finalized Kiira's adoption and were sealed to her - (SEP 2010)
  • ....and the rest is history....

I'm just saying that one can only run as fast as one has strength. I had been running a crazy marathon, and when I hit the finish line (adopting Kiira), my body just gave out.

But I came to appreciate so many things during my "down" time - the kindness of friends and family, my 4 beautiful children, my amazing husband who took over with the kids without complaint, and just a general appreciation of being able to do the simple things. I am a blessed woman. And I am so grateful to be back to myself again ready to face the next marathon or whirlwind or drama or whatever may come...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Railroad Park

Finally, finally I have started feeling stronger and more like my old self. I was so overjoyed about my progress that I decided our family should spend the day at a railroad park in Scottsdale on Veterans Day. We found the McCormick Stillman Railroad Park after an online search because for some reason we wanted the kids to take a train ride.

The park turned out to be a lot of fun and great deal (read "cheap"). For anyone living in the area, I highly recommend it for families with little kids. The park is free and you only pay for the train rides and the carrousel which run from $1 to $2 per person. And even the concessions were pretty cheap considering it's the only food option at the park unless you bring your own.

The park also has 2 playgrounds and a large grassy area to hang out on, a museum and even on a holiday was not overcrowded. So, what I'm saying is... even though walking around all day ended up being a little hard on this recovery body of mine, it was well worth it. Our family had a great time.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Family Home Evening

OK, all you Mormons reading this, you can skip this first paragraph wherein I will describe what Family Home Evening is. Every Monday night families in our church are encouraged to hold a family night or Family Home Evening. This usually means that Monday night is off limits to any other activities since everyone in the family gathers for singing, a short lesson or thought, and then the fun stuff - games and treats.

At our house Family Home Evening up to now has pretty much gone like this - either Kent or I will plan the lesson a few minutes before we start unless Maija has decided that she MUST do the lesson. If Maija does the lesson, we get a nice presentation on how great Jesus is and then how to read our letters, or some other mix of topics. It's quite entertaining. Then Bekah always wants to be in charge of treats and games. This worked for us since our children are so little, but I've been wanting a way to rotate who does what without spending a lot of money on something like --> this or --> this

Last Monday Kent and I finally took a little extra time to find whatever we happened to have around the house, and we put together our own little Family Home Evening craft with the kids. It's definitely nowhere near as nice as something you'd buy in a store or online, but it means a lot more to us because we all made it together.

(Note: You'll notice in the picture that Maija has the lesson for this coming Monday. Lol.)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Birth Mothers

I've been thinking so much lately of Kiira's birth mother, who I've been calling Sh on this blog to protect her privacy. Sh is a somewhat shy person, so I haven't wanted to embarrass her or anything. But I have to write about what a wonderful person she is and how she's become a part of our lives.

Many adoptive couples are nervous about open adoption, and some birth mothers are too. Forest's birth mother, for instance, didn't want to meet us until after she was discharged from the hospital which was a few days after Forest's birth. We met at a restaurant, and we were able to take pictures of her with Forest and with his birth sister who is 2 years older than him. That's the first and last time we ever saw her. We have written letters and sent pictures through the adoption agency, but she has since lost contact with the agency. We hope one day she will contact them again and get back in touch. Even though she has gone her own way, we still have a special place in our hearts for her because she gave our son life and also his talents, his good looks, his calm sweet demeanor, and his heritage.

With Kiira's birth mother, it has been very different. We have an open relationship with her which has been a real blessing for our whole family. Sh and I talk on the phone and more recently have gotten in touch online, so we're sending messages back and forth. She also visits this blog and we send pictures and letters in the mail. I would say that our relationship with Sh is one of the most important in our lives; she has become family. We have a special bond because she and I are both Kiira's mothers. Sh is the mother who gave Kiira life and all of her beauty, talents, and her amazing smile. I am the mother who will raise Kiira up, along with my husband, to become the young woman God plans for her to be.

I realize that every adoption situation is unique, and it's not always possible to have an open adoption. And, often there are legitimate concerns on both sides. But I am so grateful that we have been able to have an open relationship with Sh.

We love you, Miss Sh!

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Other Side

In the last 2 months that I've been sick and the last 2 weeks recovering from surgery, I've had plenty of time to throw some pitty parties. Poor me with 4 children 5 years old and younger and not able to care for them, and feeling miserable, and why couldn't I have been a mom earlier so I would be younger and strong? And...and...and...

Then in the last couple of days several of my friends have had awful things happen - major injuries to their children, husbands losing jobs, and suddenly it hit me that the grass really isn't greener on the other side. In fact, Elder Mervyn B. Arnold just said that earlier this month in LDS General Conference (where leaders from our church speak to us every 6 months) -

"The grass is never greener on the other side of the fence—nor will it ever be."

Of course, he was referring to sin, but I think it's true even when contemplating one's own challenges in life. It's sometimes hard to remember that the grass is not greener somewhere else or in some other version of one's life. This version of my life is the best version. My children are healthy, sweet and wonderful. Because of modern medicine I will be healed from my illnesses. I'm actually married (which I wanted for so long) and have the family I always dreamt of. And, by the way, my husband is kind, loving, supportive, and helps with the kids, the laundry, the dishes, and makes dinners. Shall I go on? Yes, this version of my life is where the grass is the greenest and right where I'm supposed to be.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


It's been 6 days since I had hernia repair surgery, and it's been a LONG six days. I can move around a little, but getting up and getting down is pretty painful so I spend most of my time sitting around. I've watched lots of Stargate, read a book, created a Shutterfly calendar for next year, ordered way too many things off the internet, and taken plenty of pain pills. If I didn't have 4 children, I might actually be enjoying this time to rest, but it's almost like torture watching others take care of my children and not be able to do it myself, especially my baby Kiira.

I can hold Kiira and feed her, but I can't get up when she's crying and change her diaper, make her bottle, etc. She has to be brought to me, and it makes me feel guilty and frustrated that I can't take care of her like I normally do. Of course, it hasn't even been a week yet, and I can tell that within another week or so I'll be back on my feet for the most part.

I don't know the details of what they did in the surgery (I see my doctor Tuesday so I should find out then) but they basically cut along two-thirds of my c-section scar, so I feel like I've had a c-section. The nurse in recovery told me they put some mesh inside to keep the intestines in their place. Because the incision is on my c-section scar, it's a bit like I had a baby, except that the baby is 3 months old and weighs 12 pounds, and she smiles already.

The jury's still out on how my recovery will go overall. I'm so grateful to have my mother here and that my husband has been home a lot helping. And my friends and women in the ward have been amazing to bring dinners and take the kids to play. I feel very lucky to have so many good friends and family.

P.S. I have to add a funny quote I overheard:

Bekah telling Maija: I pooped in my panties. Naughty panties!!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010


On Monday I'll be having hernia repair surgery. I've been hearing all kinds of recovery horror stories and frankly I don't buy it. One person told me it's like recovering from a bad c-section; this person has never had a c-section mind you. I've also heard that I won't be able to lift any of my children for several months. All I have to say is... yeah, right.

Here's why I am skeptical. This will be my sixth surgery in the 7 years I've been married. My mother jokes that I must be allergic to my husband, but I think it's more like an allergy to childbearing since most of my issues have been related in one way or another to having children. I had an ovarian cyst and endometriosis removed, then my appendix removed while I was pregnant with my first child, then an emergency c-section to deliver her, another c-section 2 years later for my second daughter, and 2 months after delivering her I had my gallbladder removed (apparently it's common for pregnancy to cause gallstones.) So, I'm just saying...one outpatient hernia repair surgery doth not scare me. I may eat my words, but for now I'll choose to believe that all will be well.

By the way, this hernia is in my c-section scar, so technically you can even trace this one back to childbearing.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Kiira - Sealed & Blessed

It's taken me 2 weeks to get this posted, but everything has taken me a little longer lately. I've been having some health problems which means that it's pretty much all I can handle just taking care of my kids from day to day. The women in my ward (church congregation) have been amazing helping out with the kids and bringing dinners. And weekends are always easier with Kent home.

So, on Saturday, Sept. 18th we went to the Mesa Temple as a family and were sealed to Kiira. It was a very special day. I can't describe how amazing it is to see your children all dressed in white and knowing that we are a forever family now. The next morning Kiira was blessed at church. It was a beautiful blessing Kent gave her, and we were grateful to have my parents and my aunt and uncle in town and to have good friends join us.

Kiira's Sealing Day:

Click on picture to Start Slideshow

Kiira's Blessing Dress:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

O Scorpion, Where Is Thy Sting?

One of my biggest fears was realized tonight. My child was stung by a scorpion. It was actually my oldest, Maija, who suddenly began screaming and howling like I've never heard her before. I was on the phone with my sister and told her something was wrong and I had to go. When I walked into the playroom, there was my husband smashing a scorpion, and Maija screaming and crying and completely freaking out.

My first thought was to watch her and make sure she didn't have an adverse reaction. I had heard the stories of my brother-in-law getting stung as a kid and going into seizures. Although I had also heard of several other in-laws getting stung and being fine. Luckily, Maija was fine other than a really sore arm and lots of tears. She laid in her bed for over an hour getting over the sting, but probably even more so the shock of having been stung by a scorpion. See, it's one of Maija's biggest fears too. I guess now that it's actually happened, we're over the irrational fears. Although, I'm going to be a LOT more alert watching for scorpions. Ugh!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

First Smiles

Kiira has become the smiliest baby. She will just smile and smile. It just makes all those sleepless nights SO worth it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Kiira's Adoption Finalized!

I can't even express the sense of relief and completeness you feel once you've heard the judge declare that your child is officially yours in the eyes of the law.

Today we drove down to Florence, Arizona for Kiira's adoption hearing. The judge, Stephen F. McCarville, was very friendly and got the kids involved; he asked them to come up to his podium and gave them candy. He asked us if we were prepared to be Kiira's mother and father - YES! Then he officially declared that we are Kiira's father and mother in the eyes of the court and by law. It was the best feeling walking out of the courthouse knowing that we are blessed to be this sweet little girl's parents in every sense.

Of course, we had to take a picture.
(Click on pic to see larger)

Friday, September 10, 2010

You Know You're a TCK When...

A good friend I knew in high school in Hong Kong sent this to me. All I can say is, that after reading the list, I am definitely a TCK, Third Culture Kid.


You know you’re a TCK when…

- You’ve heard this ‘textbook’ definition of a TCK before: “A third culture kid is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside their parents’ culture. The third culture kid builds relationships to all the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture are assimilated into the third culture kid’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of the same background, other TCKs.”

- “Where are you from?” has more than one reasonable answer.
- You’ve said that you’re from foreign country X, and your audience has asked you which US state X is in.
- You flew before you could walk.
- You speak two languages, but can’t spell in either.
- You feel odd being in the ethnic majority.
- You have three passports.
- You have a passport but no driver’s license.
- You go into culture shock upon returning to your “home” country.
- Your life story uses the phrase “Then we moved to…” three (or four, or five…) times.
- You wince when people mispronounce foreign words.
- You don’t know whether to write the date as day/month/year, month/day/year, or some variation thereof.
- The best word for something is the word you learned first, regardless of the language.
- You get confused because US money isn’t colour-coded.
- You think VISA is a document that’s stamped in your passport, not a plastic card you carry in your wallet.
- You own personal appliances with 3 types of plugs, know the difference between 110 and 220 volts, 50 and 60 cycle current, and realize that a trasnsformer isn’t always enough to make your appliances work.
- You fried a number of appliances during the learning process.
- You think the Pledge of Allegiance might possibly begin with “Four-score and seven years ago….”
- Half of your phone calls are unintelligible to those around you.
- You believe vehemently that football is played with a round, spotted ball.
- You consider a city 500 miles away “very close.”
- You get homesick reading National Geographic.
- You cruise the Internet looking for fonts that can support foreign alphabets.
- You think in the metric system and Celsius.
- You may have learned to think in feet and miles as well, after a few years of living (and driving) in the US. (But not Fahrenheit. You will *never* learn to think in Fahrenheit).
- You haggle with the checkout clerk for a lower price.
- Your minor is a foreign language you already speak.
- When asked a question in a certain language, you’ve absentmindedly respond in a different one.
- You miss the subtitles when you see the latest movie.
- You’ve gotten out of school because of monsoons, bomb threats, and/or popular demonstrations.
- You speak with authority on the subject of airline travel.
- You have frequent flyer accounts on multiple airlines.
- You constantly want to use said frequent flyer accounts to travel to new places.
- You know how to pack.
- You have the urge to move to a new country every couple of years.
- The thought of sending your [...] kids to public school scares you, while the thought of letting them fly alone doesn’t at all.
- You think that high school reunions are all but impossible.
- You have friends from 29 different countries.
- You sort your friends by continent.
- You have a time zone map next to your telephone.
- You realize what a small world it is, after all.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

1st School Picture

Maija's school picture arrived today, and I had to post it. It reminds me so much of the many school pictures I had taken through the years. Very few of them turned out good, but they're all still floating around somewhere in a box (or several boxes).

We're getting excited to finalize Kiira's adoption this coming Monday. Then next weekend we will be sealed to her in the LDS Mesa Temple and have her blessed at church on Sunday. Big week! Now if I could only get over a series of bizarre illnesses (kidney infection, bronchitis, costochondritis, hernia) I've had in the last 2 weeks, everything will be perfect :-)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Piece O' Steel

Kent and I have been watching Tyler Perry movies lately: Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Meet the Browns, The Family That Preys, Madea Goes to Jail (actually next on our list). For anyone who hasn't heard of Tyler Perry, which is most of white America, you can read about him here and here. He's a Christian filmmaker who uses his culture, African American culture, as a backdrop for important messages of hope and faith. And he also uses humor in the form of Madea, the gun-toting, Bible quoting, grandmother figure who is always there to help the down-and-out.

Here are some of my favorite Madea quotes:

Myrtle quoting the Bible: "Peace be still." That's what he said.
Madea: Well, peace always comes with still... [takes out gun] ... 'cause I keeps me a piece o' steel.

Madea: I remember this dude made me so mad, I didn't even know how mad I was until I went to his funeral.
Helen: Why were you so mad at him?
Madea: Because he hit me. Yes he hit me... and I didn't even know how mad I was until I saw him in his casket, he's 8 feet under.
Myrtle: 6 feet, that's how they bury people, Madea, 6 feet under.
Madea: That's what I'm trying to say, I thought I was over what he did to me until I saw him at the funeral, I was so mad I BEAT HIM DOWN 2 more feet.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Eye For An Eye

Having lived in Saudi Arabia twice, I learned from firsthand experience the cultural differences that exist between the "western" world and the Middle East. Americans have a very hard time understanding why Muslims do things the way they do and how an extremist movement like Al Qaeda could have emerged from that culture. For me, it's not a mystery at all. There is one main difference between our two cultures that is so fundamental that it's almost taken for granted - Christianity and the New Testament.

The ideas of social justice, kindness to your enemies, and forgiveness are "western" ideals for one main reason; our society is based on Christian teachings. It was Jesus Christ of the New Testament who turned mosaic law on its ear when he preached:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

- Matthew 5:43-44

I personally experienced great kindness and generosity from Saudi friends and other Muslim friends I have. I know of their capacity for kindness and hospitality. I also have to add how beautiful that part of the world is; Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman. There is much good that exists in the culture. You literally can leave your car running with the door open, and it will still be there when you get back. If you drop your wallet, it will most likely be there on the ground when you go to look for it. Why? Because the punishment for theft is having your hand cut off. Islamic law is very much part of the Old Testament world where an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth is the guiding principle.

We cannot understand the Muslim world if we assume they have the same basic core western values which really are Christian values (no matter how much some try to ignore our Christian roots.) Muslims are good people, but guided by different principles. There really is a place called Chop Chop Square in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia where corporal punishments are carried out in public.

This article from the Huffington Post illustrates my point:
"Saudi Judge Considers Paralysis Punishment" -by Salah Nasrawi from huffingtonpost.com

Friday, August 27, 2010


I almost feel like I have nothing to blog about because I don't really want to talk about:

1) How Kiira's doctor called to tell us she thinks she might have Sickle Cell Anemia, so we spent last week running from lab to lab having Kiira's blood drawn 3 times... thank you very much! She was only 6 weeks old! All this just to find out that the 1st blood draw was for the test that actually told us in the end - she does NOT have Sickle Cell Anemia (big sigh of relief) just the trait. I shed a few tears that week.

2) That our No TV Week didn't turn out as nicely as I thought it would. It was truly like torture not having a single second to myself all week long, not even to take a shower. I hate to say it, but I'm grateful for TV.

On a happier note, Kiira is healthy and doing great. Every day her cheeks get bigger and she gets cuter and cuter. I just talked to her birthmom again tonight and am so grateful for an open adoption. Life really is good even with a few bumps in the road here and there.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

No TV Week

Today begins No TV Week in our household. The bishop in our church asked everyone in the congregation to go one week without TV or digital entertainment. This will be no easy feat with so many little ones at home, but I'm counting on their creativity to save the day. As long as it doesn't involve "painting" the playroom with my makeup, toothpaste, permanent markers or actual paint (yes, all 4 of these have happened in the last year!)

As for me, I think I will somehow get through my Stargate and Star Trek withdrawals. Kent isn't sure he'll make it without Arizona Diamondbacks baseball. But, I think in the end this will be a great time for our family to find other ways to be together. Maija and Bekah have already started working on puzzles; I've started reading a new book (see my "Books I'm Reading" list on the right side of the blog); and Kent and I have both had a couple of good naps today, which sort of segues nicely from my previous blog post. Ah, sweet slumber!

A few interesting anti-TV links (not that I'm anti-TV entirely, I have to add):


Monday, August 16, 2010

Daddy & Baby

I had to post this cute picture of Kent and Kiira asleep on the couch. It reminded me of another sleepy picture I took when Maija was a baby.

(Click on pictures to enlarge)

Yes, Kent is wearing my pink robe. LOL!

And one more of Kent and Bekah

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Now It's Bekah's Turn

So, last week was Maija's first full week of kindergarten. She actually started the week before that, but anyway... On Maija's first day of school Rebekah cried and cried after Maija got out of the car. Then she told me a few times that afternoon that she missed Maija, and when is Maija coming home? These girls have been together pretty much 24/7 for the last 8 months.

Now today it was Bekah's turn to have her first day; she started preschool. It just so happens that Bekah's preschool and Maija's kindergarten do not overlap at all, which means they won't be seeing each other all day. This morning we all woke up a little earlier than normal and I got Bekah all ready for her first day at preschool. Suddenly, when it was time for Bekah to leave, Maija started crying. Then after returning home from dropping Bekah off, Maija burst into tears and cried and cried. I asked her, "What's the matter? Why are you crying?" And Maija said, "I don't know!" I think i've felt that way before :-) Finally, she admitted that she was sad that Bekah was gone.

These two girls' reactions have really surprised me. I knew they might miss each other, but I did not expect the tears and sorrow they experienced. Although I was sorry they were sad, for the most part it warmed my heart. As a mother there's nothing better than seeing your children love and serve each other. At the end of the day when Maija got home from kindergarten, Bekah yelled, "Maija!!!" And they hugged. Adorable! I hope they will always stay close.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

That Was Fast

We heard from our lawyer today that we got a court date to finalize Kiira's adoption!!! It's September 13th! She will be just barely over 2 months old when we can officially say that Kiira is our girl. Then that Saturday we will be sealed to her in the LDS Mesa Arizona temple.

Talk about fast! By comparison, it took us nearly 8 months to get a court date to finalize Forest's adoption. In case you're not familiar with the adoption process, it goes basically like this - at least for domestic agency adoptions -

1) Get Certified by the State to Adopt
    This involves:
  • A lot of paperwork, backgrounds checks, doctor's physicals, financial documentation, 3 letters of recommendation, education classes, in-home visits from a caseworker, very intrusive questions into your personal life, and probably a few other things I'm forgetting.

2) The Matching Game
  • The agency shows your profile (which you've created) to interested birth mothers and you wait for a birth mother to choose you to parent her child. If there's enough advance notice, you can often spend time getting to know each other through visits and/or phone calls.

3) Matched!
  • Once you're matched with a birth mother, you may or may not have to pay some of the adoption fees at this point depending on your agency. And you also wait until the baby is born, and hopefully are continuing to get to know your birth mother.

4) Birth and Placement
  • When the happy day comes and your baby is born, you rush to wherever you need to to be with that sweet baby and birth mother. It may be in your state or in another state, In our case both times it was out of state. So, we jumped on an airplane as fast as we could.
  • After a specified amount of time (each state is different - Utah is 24 hrs, Arizona is 72 hrs) the birth mother can sign the placement papers and you sign papers as well. This is when you become the official guardians of the child. This doesn't mean the baby is yours in a full legal sense, but that you are planning on being the parents. Each state has different waiting periods and requirements before finalization of the adoption can occur.

5) Finalization
  • This is where we are at right now. In Arizona 3 supervisory visits must take place by a social worker to make sure the baby is being taken care of and that this adoption should really happen. In some states, there's a certain waiting period, for example, in Utah it's 6 months.
  • Finalization happens when a judge looks at your file and determines that everything has been done correctly and appropriately. He asks you some questions about your commitment to parent the child, and he then signs the Declaration of Adoption. THIS is when you legally become the parents of the child.

In some ways it seems crazy to have to go through all of that to become a parent, especially when by comparison there are no prerequisites for someone to give birth to a child. But, there are reasons for so much oversight, and it's mainly to protect the children involved. Having become a mother both ways, by giving birth and by adoption, I can say that they are both hard and emotional and full of uncertainties. In both cases, once you hold that sweet baby in your arms, you forget all the pain, fears, work, preparations, and all you feel is the joy. And right now as I type this and have my baby Kiira sleeping in my arms, I can absolutely say it is worth all of it!

Monday, August 2, 2010


This has been a momentous week for our family. I've been wanting to blog all week but I just had to wait until we had pictures of all of our firsts -

(I had to take pictures of her in her dress)

(Bekah was also ready for her first day of preschool which starts in 2 weeks)

(I just couldn't do 2 car seats and an infant seat anymore!)

(Our friend, Demetrius, cut his hair and did a GREAT job! Poor Forest wasn't as happy about it as I was.)

Friday, July 23, 2010


In the last 17 months since we adopted Forest I have learned more about race and racism than in my 20 plus years travelling and living all over the world. What I learned growing up in various countries was that people of different races can coexist, get along and even love each other when they're all out of their element. I attended international schools which used an American school curriculum and had English as the primary language, but most of the kids who attended these schools were from all over the world, not necessarily the United States. I learned fast as a young child the importance of openness, because everyone was from such different racial and ethnic backgrounds.

In the last year and a half, I've seen a different side of race than ever before. Some experiences have been positive, some negative. Some whites are open and supportive of our blended family; some whites have been downright racist. Some African Americans are very open to our transracial family; some think it's terrible that a white couple adopted black babies. Just like anything in life, you have all kinds of opinions and degrees of openness or narrow-mindedness. And that right there is evidence that we are all just people regardless of our backgrounds or skin color. Some people are loving, supportive and open. Some people are critical, negative and judgmental. Period.

As I've seen racial tensions flare in politics and the media recently, it again brings up the issue of how we can choose to think of ourselves as different and divided or the same and united. There is more that makes us the same in our hearts than what makes us different. I always think of the scripture in 1 Samuel 16:7 -

For man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Blur

For any fans of Smallville, I'm not talking about Clark Kent here. I'm talking about the blur that becomes your life when you have a newborn. Time seems to become a big blog that has very little meaning and sleep is an ever elusive luxury. Yes, those first few newborn weeks are a blur. I'm in the fog right now.

When I had my first baby, I thought I had it so hard sitting around the house all day with a newborn baby constantly feeding and changing diapers. Of course, I couldn't have realized how easy things really were being able to sleep whenever the baby slept and pretty much letting time melt away into nothing. It was okay to get caught up in the blur because there was nothing to mark time other than the comings and goings of my husband.

But once you have other children who still wake up at the same early time every morning, you have to sort of pretend that you're alert enough to keep going. They still have their "I need a drink" and "I'm hungry" and "Mommy, she won't share with me". I'm not really complaining (ok, maybe a teensy bit), I'm just saying...that's the reality. Several people have asked me how I'm managing with 4 children 5 years and under. The truth is that the quantity of children isn't the problem. It's the lack of sleep and being in a blur while the rest of the family continues to live on their normal schedule.

One thing I am grateful for, which I didn't think I would be, is that Forest is still only 16 months old. It means that he still stays in his crib and sometimes takes 2 naps a day. And if a miracle happens and he is napping while Kiira is asleep....happy day! I lay down on the couch and try to get that elusive luxurious five minutes of sleep until someone else needs a drink, or food, or to tattle on a sibling. :-)

Oh, and Kiira is becoming cuter every day! I promise to post more pics soon.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

We Made It Home

Yesterday while Kiira and I were at lunch with her birthmother, Sh, and her 2 sons, Kent called me to say that ICPC was done, and I could bring Kiira home!!! Of course, I wanted to jump on the very next plane, but in the end I tried to jump on the last plane of the night. As soon as I got to the gate and sat down, they made an announcement, "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Atlanta airport is now closed. There is no traffic coming in or going out." Ah!!!

My first worry was that I'd end up stuck for the night at the airport or somewhere in Atlanta. I noticed a pretty bad lightening storm outside, so I hoped that maybe it was just the storm and it might pass. Thirty minutes later they reopened the airport, but by then our airplane had been rerouted to Birmingham, Alabama. In the end, there was a 3 hour delay. Yes, THREE hours in an airport late at night with a newborn baby. Not fun, but I was grateful that at least I was going home. I landed at 1am and got home around 2am, which Atlanta time is 5am. Needless to say, I slept for most of the morning.

Here are pictures of all of our kids together...all FOUR of our kids! And a few of Kiira.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Just Me and Kiira

What a whirlwind of a weekend we had! Now that baby Kiira is officially ours, we get to wait for the Interstate Compact (ICPC) process. This is where the legal papers have to be processed at the state level for both the sending state (Georgia) and the receiving state (Arizona). Basically, Kiira can't leave Georgia until we get permission. The process can take anywhere from a week to 2 weeks.

This means that the rest of our children are in Arizona while we wait here. In the end, we decided that Kent should go home to take care of our crew while I stay here with Kiira to wait for ICPC. He left last night, and I can't tell you how hard it was to have him leave and know that he'll be seeing my other 3 children while Kiira and I will be here on our own. On the other hand, this will be my only chance to have one-on-one time with Kiira which will make for good bonding. I know that once I get home and have all 4 children together, there won't be much alone time with Kiira. So I'm determined to make the best of this time and enjoy some good mother-daughter bonding.

Here are some more pictures of Kiira: