Yeah! I did it! And it was actually really fun! I am thankful for each of you for asking because it helped me to go back, to remember, to put into words some of the things hidden in my heart. So, here you go!
Melissa asked: If it’s not too personal (I ask because I would like to adopt one day), what are you planning to do about your daughter’s education? I assume there is a language barrier to public/ private school. ELL classes in public school? Homeschool? If so, would you just concentrate on language, or try to maintain in all the other subjects too?
Such a good question! I am going to preface my answer by saying that no matter what, we are not setting anything in stone, and we are going to be flexible and constantly looking to see what Maria’s needs are and what will best suit her. But, for now our plan for the first ‘year’ is to homeschool her in order to accomplish two of our main goals: 1. bonding to her new family and to life within a family, and 2. Language acquisition. I am also a credentialed teacher, and what’s cool is that the things that I will be doing with the boys anyway are the things that help language learners learn a new language. Visuals are huge for learning languages, so things like picture books are helpful in making vocabulary connections. A lot of language can be learned from play, and by just being together, which is the plan. We will swim, and read and play outside. We will make music, and sing and bake together. We want to get chickens, but are waiting until the kids get home because watching them growing is a very enriching time for children to experience. The following year, there is a school program that is free and it’s homeschool plus two days a week of classroom time with other children, and one day a week of a field trip or excursion. She will be too late to sign up when she gets home, but I think that’s for the best. Again, we will see what exactly she needs when she gets home, and we have amazing educational resources around us. It helps that Andrew and I have both taught English at our church before to Spanish speakers, and that I taught Spanish to English speakers last year, but you don’t have to major in language to help an adopted child. I would love to chronicle her progress when she’s home to help encourage others who may be thinking adoption. Oh, and Melissa, I am so excited for you thinking of adoption, we would love to root for you when it’s your turn!
Chelsea asked: I’ve been meaning to ask this one for a while. How did the Tiny Green Elephants blog get its name?
Well Chelsea, prepare yourself for the deep nature of the name, and perhaps the spiritual nature involved with our decision: Finley has green elephants on one of his crib sheets. And it just kind of stuck…so there you go!
Allie asked: How did you “choose” your daughter? My husband and I have been hoping to adopt a waiting child for a while now, but every time we log into those photo listing websites…we become so overwhelmed! It’s been so hard to decide on just one child when there are soon many beautiful ones waiting. How long ago did you start saving for adoption prior to starting the process/committing to your daughter and son?
Allie, such a good question, and I so empathize with how you are feeling. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of orphaned children in the world, the magnitude of the problem, and their little faces just needing a family. But how do we help orphans? One at a time. In many ways it may be a drop in a bucket, but that one drop will be forever blessed, and even more so, you will be. Each one is so worthy. Andrew and I have a whole new view about adoption and about orphans since coming home from our first trip. I used to read adoption blogs, and always think to myself, (Ok, I’m going out on a limb here sharing this, I am totally embarrassed that I used to think this way, but I want to be honest with all of you) “Oh what a sweet kid, they got such a ‘good one’” Bleh, I can’t believe I thought that. Since being there, though, it’s different. We truly wish, in vain, we could give homes to all those kids. They are all so precious and so worthy. We would have said yes to any and all of them. We used to look on RR and think, “maybe this one, maybe that one.” If given the opportunity, there isn’t one we would have said no to. Even the very, very sick babies. We believe now first hand that all children are a blessing from the Lord, that special needs are a gift, and that my definition of good matched up more with the world’s definition, than with God’s definition of good. It’s not about my comfort or ease, it’s about whatever draws me closer to the heart of Jesus, and makes me more like him. And that’s what these kids do.
Allie, there’s no right or wrong answer, just children of God who need homes! Pray, seek God, and be blessed. He will lead you, trust him.
Ashley asked: to answer that one. I already know the answer. =) You seek the Lord in all you do, that’s how. Love you!
That’s, unfortunately not true. I wish I sought the Lord in all things I do because each time I do, my life is just better, maybe not in the world’s eye, but in a very tangible ways that Andrew and I can’t help but know. I still struggle with obedience, even with things like reading my bible at times. Sheeeesh. When will I ever learn!? But I love you sis, and we prayed for you at mommy bible study this morning and about what God is doing in your heart and we are all inspired!
Etosia asked: How did you know Elijah was your son? I’m assuming there where many other babies around and would just like to hear about how God directed you to him.
Such a good question, Etosia. I will have to expand more once he’s home, but to be honest we didn’t feel like he was our son right when we met him. Andrew and I are super average people living a super, below average life (as far as extravagance, not quality… ;). We first met Maria and it was electric, loves splashing around from us to her, and from her to us, and from all the workers and all the kids, and directly from God above, and it was euphoric. She hugged us, and basically told us she was ready to come home today. The next day we went into a very sterile, white building full of silent babies. Our boy could only look at us for a minute or two, then needed to decompress, he wasn’t used to it. The same “feelings” weren’t there. We felt tired after only a short time with him. He wasn’t able to give back love like Maria, the other kids in his orphanage broke our hearts, it was just –a lot. We just couldn’t decide yes right away. But God. The more we were there, the more God changed our hearts. Oh gosh, how I long for everyone to have the same experience, it is hard to relay, but God shifted in our hearts like never before. Life truly isn’t about us. It’s about serving others. He IS our son, and we can’t wait to love on him every day, but we couldn’t have gotten to that state without the example of Jesus. The world tells us take what you can, you deserve it. God says abandon self. And it’s truly freeing to live that way, really.
Snaves asked: How can we help donate to your adoption? Is there a PayPal or link somewhere where we can donate online?
Thanks girl. We are still not at our fundraising goal, but God has provided like I would have never thought even possible. Literally, this whole thing is a miracle that we are experiencing every day. But, if I can be selfish, would you mind donating to Kate
or Finley’s baby Beatrice
? Our two have a mom and dad working literally their butts off for them, but these two girls have no one. Our two will
come home, these two as of yet have no promise of a family. In the past, Andrew and I would pick a child, and keep donating little by little here and there, until a family committed to them. It’s amazing to be a part of! To be a part of the lives of so many little ones. See more here!
But, I love your heart, and I so appreciate you and your heart for orphans.
Superfan 519 asked: Is Elijah special needs too? How’s room decorating going? How’s Maya’s English classes coming along? Ah! So many questions! But you two are awesome!
Oh! And how do you pronounce Hawea?
Hehe, I got my work cut out for me in this one. Elijah is in many ways considered special needs, but not to us! His biggest need is a family, which will be checked off soon! While in country, we committed to him when he had two, big looming special needs listed, and we said yes anyway while trying to research late at night in our hotel room. After we committed, and the day we left, he had a bandage on his arm from blood tests. He was negative for both of those two biggies! It was cool, just an added bonus. While Maria may only have one sentence in her medical report, our sweet boy has a longer list. Many things though I think will work out once he’s in a family, and the others are aspects of him that we will love anyways. He is ours, and he is loved just the way he is.
Room decorating is good, the boy’s room is almost done, we are just on the lookout for a crib now. Maria’s room is still a work in progress. I haven’t wanted to complete it until we got a court date, because I didn’t want to be sad and miss her when I looked inside. But, this weekend we will be painting, etc. Plus, we got a whole bunch of amazing and free things from my parent’s neighbor who owned an antique shop! I can’t wait to show pics when we’re done!
We’re not sure about her English class, communication is hard, if not impossible, but we try!
Hawea is Hawaiian, and w’s are pronounced like v’s, so its (Hah-vey-ah) or as Finley likes to put it, “BEYA!!!!!” which is also now what Andrew and I call her coincidently. We are so blessed by her awesome parents as friend who love God and love others too.
Kym asked: How much have you talked to Finley about his new siblings? Do you think he understands it at all, and what do you think will be the biggest adjustment for him?
Finley has no idea, really, he’s not quite there yet developmentally. We talk to him about it, “Finley do you want a big sister?” He looks at me and nods, “yeah!” “Finley, do you want a little brother?” he nods, “yeah!” Each night when we pray, we pray for ‘lijah’ and ‘Maweeee-ah!’ to come home soon, to feel loved and comforted. He recognizes her picture, and when he sees Elijah’s, he says, “BABY!!!!” We are thinking about getting him a baby doll so he can practice taking care of a baby, and he loves pushing strollers, so maybe a stroller too! But Finley loves other kids, he loves playing, he is very social, so I think he will love having permanent best friends.
Franny asked: Are you going to change your daughter’s name? How do you think she’ll transition into the role of a big sister? Does she have a varied diet now or do you think that you are going to introduce her to a lot of new foods/dishes?
Great questions! We will not change her name, except by giving her a middle name, and giving her our last name! Her middle name will be my middle name, like mother like daughter! Her diet right now is very basic. Andrew and I like to eat really healthy, and we like our kids to eat very healthy, but: our main goal the first year of her being home will be one thing—bonding. With her temperament, I don’t see the food issue being too big of an issue, but
here’s the plan: it will be our goal for her to enjoy
family meal time first, and healthy eating second. We will be making a lot of borscht and foods she likes and is familiar with when she first gets home. The boys on the other hand, aren’t as lucky. They will have to eat whatever we give them and won’t have a say. I know, poor guys. I think she will be an amazing big sister, she is full of love and care. But I want her to just be a kid when she gets home, she already only has a little bit of time left being a kid. Finley still takes a 3-4 hour nap a day, and if I can somehow have Elijah do the same, that time can be mama and Maria time to spend together!
Espnjen asked: Does Maya have special needs? Will your next trip be the trip to pick them up? How long do you have to stay in country on your next trip? Was it a big shock meeting Maya after only having pictures? How recent were the pictures of her you had before meeting her? Thank you for sharing your journey! I am pretty much addicted to your blog and love sharing your experience with my husband…hopefully prepping him for the day we will start our adoption adventure.
Hi Jen, thank you for your kind words. I can honestly say…that to us and in real life, Maria does not have special needs, but that’s all I really want to share. Maria is amazing, loving and a daughter of God, and we love her to bits and pieces, and that’s how we see her and want everyone else to see her. Our next trip is shorter than our first trip, and there will be a third and final pick-up trip! I wouldn’t really say it was a shock to meet her the first time after only seeing pictures, but it was amazing. It’s hard to put into words what it was like to meet your child for the first time, one you had been working so hard for, one you had to travel the world to see, ‘sacrificed’ so much to get there, with no certainty. We prepared our hearts for her to say no, just in case, but she didn’t, she ran to us with open arms.
It was not a shock, but it felt like this portrayal of the gospel right in front of my eyes, right in my arms when she chose to say yes to us. When she was ready to give up everything for the love we have for her, for the life we will give her. It was amazing, to say the least.
Cindy asked: Do you and your husband both work? I remember being overwhelmed with just our one daughter when my husband and I were both working. I can’t imagine it with three children, especially when two of them are brand new. My hat’s off to you two!.
Andrew and I made a decision at the end of the school year in May, that I would not be returning to teaching this next school year, and I love it! It will be good so that I can wear Elijah in a Moby wrap all day, and spend all day with my kiddos. It’s cool too because Andrew works from home, well from the office attached to our garage, so it will be great for family bonding since we will be able to eat most our meals together, etc. We feel very blessed, and as much as I loved just working a couple hours a day each morning 4 days a week, I love being home more! Time is so precious.
Q: I love daily come to your blog and get excited to read what is next in your family’s adventures. I am 22 weeks pregnant, I loved your post on cloth diapering, I found it very helpful. I would also like to know how you decided on a crib, stroller, car seat.
Awww, yes, I used to post all about baby stuff. Something I still think about doing so, but never get around to it! Our crib and stroller bother came from Craigslist, we’re all about used items since they use them for such a short amount of time! It’s funny to think now about needing a DOUBLE stroller next! Wow! Our car seat was literally the least expensive one from the baby store (those are good to get new) and it had tiny green elephants on them! A firewoman told me it doesn’t matter how expensive they are, they just have to work when they are needed! I am so excited to hear you are 22 weeks pregnant, such a fun and special time for you and your husband!
Nobody asked: What’s your favorite TV show? (no really, nobody I just wanted to share…)
Hmm, well we don’t have TV! Well, we have a tv, but it’s in the garage, and we have loved our life so much more without it. Buuuuut, sometimes if we’re really tired, and Finley is in bed, we’ll watch Downton Abby, because it is the worlds best show!!!!
|Us at one of the amazing weddings we went to this summer