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

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.)