The Family

The Family

Monday, August 30, 2010

Back To School

The Rowe Family Beach Trip 2010


Well, summer is almost officially over now.  Labor Day weekend is approaching and you know what that means... back to school!  As a homeschooling parent this is not perhaps as difficult or heart wrenching for me as for some other parents.  I am blessed to be able to have my kids around me most of the day.  Well, lets say that is a mixed blessing.  But seriously, I am grateful for this opportunity to educate and encourage my children and be present there with them each day, though it is a great responsibility.

The picture above is a wonderful reminder of the great memories our family has created this summer.  We had lots of fun!  But I think I am now ready for our school year to begin.  If you had asked me a couple weeks ago if I was ready I would have emphatically said "No way!", but I think I'm good now.

  I am in the process of collecting all those wonderful books we will be learning from this year, fabulous living books as the great educator Charlotte Mason would call them.  And I have to say, I LOVE books!  Love love love them... am happy to have many shelves devoted to them, love being surrounded by them.  So getting this year's curriculum is not a burden to me, albeit a financial one!  Amazon is my friend.

So off we go into the 2010-2011 school year!  I am looking forward to it-- the reading, the field trips, the sojourns into the city to see the children's theater perform, and so much more.  I am especially looking forward to one big change.... our foster daughter will be joining us!  Her adoption is nearing completion and her social workers agreed to let us homeschool her. Hip Hip Hooray!!! (Can you tell I am excited??!!)  I think it will be a great opportunity to further integrate her into our family.  It was always so difficult to have her separated from us during the day and having her own schedule of things she had to complete at night.  I really don't think it was healthy for her to be apart from us that way, definitely didn't help the bonding process.  But there wasn't anything we could do about it.  Now all that changes and I am so very glad!

So as we move through the year, I am sure I will have lots more to blog about on here as our homeschooling journey continues, all our activities resume and normal life rolls along.  Of course there will be more on adoption too, as that was one of the main reasons for me starting this in the first place.  So................ AWAY WE GO!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Horrifying

The following post is re-posted here from http://gardenofeagan.blogspot.com/ and written by Lynn, the blog's author.  I wanted to re-post it here to further drive home the message I have been writing about-- something needs to be done.  Conditions like these just should not exist in our world today!  It is a crime against humanity.  I cannot fathom any child being treated in the ways depicted below, especially those with special needs who cannot advocate for themselves.

               "Whatever you do to the least of these you do unto Me" ~ Jesus
                 "Let us be the change we want to see in the world" ~ Ghandi


Post--

Imagine you're a newborn baby. Born in a land far different than where you are now. A place where the value of human life is much different than it is in developed countries. Now imagine that you were born with something like Down Syndrome, or something as minor as a hand deformity.




Your parents will be told to send you away, that there is no care for you, and you're going to die anyway. So your parents follow the advice of doctors and bring you to an orphanage. But remember, this is an orphanage in a 3rd world country. You spend your days, weeks, months and years cold, hungry, and without medical care. If you're lucky, there will be one caregiver who takes a liking to you and tries to give you some extra attention each day.



But there's something looming over you. Something that most children in the world celebrate...your 4th birthday. Only for you, this birthday brings a death sentence, because in many of these countries, if you turn 4 and have not been adopted you'll be moved to a mental institution where you are no longer available for adoption. For all intense purposes, to the rest of the world you are dead.



There you well spend your days like this



You will be straight jacketed in sheets. Why? Because of the intense boredom and lack of human physical contact you will resort to desperate measures, even if it means gouging your own eyes out. The only contact you will get with people is if you're lucky, someone will notice that your sheets are full of urine and feces and decide to change them. You will never see sunshine. You will never smell fresh air, only the overpowering odor of urine and feces from several hundred children just like you crammed into the same building getting the same lack of care. You will likely die within the first couple of years from some terrible illness, severe dehydration, or hypothermia from lack of heat in the decrepit building.


Or perhaps you would be like this little girl. Bound by her wrists for years already, left alone in a state of severe dehydration. TIED TO HER BED!!!!!




If you don't die within the first couple of years, your body might continue to grow. But don't think it will get you a bigger bed. Instead you'll be forced to spend more years in the same crib, just like these TEENAGERS have been crammed in.



But it doesn't have to be this way! It doesn't! While governments and organizations like Mental Disability Rights International will have to deal with the indidual countries, there are ways to save these children! Reece's Rainbow is an adoption organization dedicated to rescuing children with Down Syndrome from certain death in these countries. There are many children who are approaching their 4th birthday. While not everyone is in a position to adopt a child, Reece's Rainbow has established a fund for each child to help with the adoption expenses so that nobody can say, "I would do it if I had the money."

Even if you can't adopt a child, can you spare $5, $10 or more so that someone else can? Please...this makes me sick to know these children are dying. Read through the child profiles. You'll find children that have nothing wrong with them other than an eye that needs surery, or a hand that has a mild deformity, yet they have been thrown away. But we can save them!!!!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Video about orphans

video


Please take a moment to watch this video.  Perhaps it will move you and motivate you to take some action in the life of an orphan.
So many times, people ask "What can I do?"  They think adoption is too expensive.  Or others think adoption is fine for other people but not for them.  If everyone thought that and held the "pass the buck" mentality would anything ever get accomplished or changed in this world?
But there is so much we can do, from the little things to the big.

Pray-- for the children in orphanages, in foster care and for their workers.

We can give-- give of our time to be a foster parent or to mentor a child.  Or give of our money to help support a child in an orphanage, to aid in grant money to get these children home faster, or to a family you know personally who is trying to adopt.

We can learn-- learn about the orphans of our world firsthand by taking a mission trip.  Go across the world or just across our country and visit with the children who are so badly in need of a loving family.  Or more simply, go to http://www.cryoftheorphan.org/ to learn more about the orphans of this world, their living conditions and what we can do to help.

Most importantly you can ADOPT!  Open your heart and your home to a child who needs both so badly.

The Road of Life

The Road of Life

At first, I saw God as my observer,
my judge,
keeping track of the things I did wrong,
so as to know whether I merited heaven
or hell when I die.
He was out there sort of like a president.
I recognized His picture when I saw it,
but I really didn't know Him.

But later on
when I met Christ,
it seemed as though life was rather like a bike ride,
but it was a tandem bike,
and I noticed that Christ
was in the back helping me pedal.

I don't know just when it was
that He suggested we change places,
but life has not been the same since.

When I had control,
I knew the way.
It was rather boring,
but predictable . . .
It was the shortest distance between two points.

But when He took the lead,
He knew delightful long cuts,
up mountains,
and through rocky places
at breakneck speeds,
it was all I could do to hang on!
Even though it looked like madness,
He said, "Pedal!"

I worried and was anxious
and asked,
"Where are you taking me?"
He laughed and didn't answer,
and I started to learn to trust.

I forgot my boring life
and entered into the adventure.
And when I'd say, "I'm scared,"
He'd lean back and touch my hand.

He took me to people with gifts that I needed,
gifts of healing,
acceptance
and joy.
They gave me gifts to take on my journey,
my Lord's and mine.

And we were off again.
He said, "Give the gifts away;
they're extra baggage, too much weight."
So I did,
to the people we met,
and I found that in giving I received,
and still our burden was light.

I did not trust Him,
at first,
in control of my life.
I thought He'd wreck it;
but He knows bike secrets,
knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners,
knows how to jump to clear high rocks,
knows how to fly to shorten scary passages.

And I am learning to shut up
and pedal
in the strangest places,
and I'm beginning to enjoy the view
and the cool breeze on my face
with my delightful constant companion, Jesus Christ.

And when I'm sure I just can't do anymore,
He just smiles and says . . . "Pedal."

-- author unknown


This is another great poem I have been meaning to post here for awhile. It is especially poignant when you think of it in the context of adoption. The road might be bumpy, there might be curves ahead or mountains in your way, but with God and His direction you will succeed! Relying on Him as your travel companion in life is always the best way to go!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

It Couldn't Be Done by Edgar Guest

It Couldn't Be Done

Somebody said that it couldn't be done,
But he with a chuckle replied
That "maybe it couldn't," but he would be one
Who wouldn't say so till he'd tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you'll never do that;
At least no one ever has done it";
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he'd begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you, one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That "cannot be done," and you'll do it.

Wow-- what an inspirational poem! This applies to so MANY things in life and just goes to show that if you want something bad enough, if you feel the need to do something bad enough, you shouldn't listen to the nay-sayers. Just get out there and do it! Begin the process! Like I said in one of my previous posts, there should be no room in life for regrets. Life is short and we need to make the most of it. If there is something in your life you are feeling compelled to do then gather your information, take the appropriate steps and go for it.

We begin our homeschool year in a couple of weeks and I know the first poem our children will be memorizing! I want them to know they can do whatever they set their minds out to do and I want them to be equipped with a positive attitude as they journey through life. With God and some determination, all things are possible.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Ukranian Children

Here is a link to a story on the news about the wonderful children we had the pleasure of meeting this week!

http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/video?id=7609285

or just click on "The Ukranian Children" title above.

Praying Through it All

We know God is in control, and we know His will is perfect for our lives, but sometimes still it is so hard to accept his answers.  So much has gone on in our lives these past two weeks and I know that things happen for a reason, but it is still hard to give up control in our lives to Him and understand we will not always receive what WE think is best for us.

We started off last week on a trip to my husband's parents' house at the beach in NJ.  Delightful trip except for a major glitch on the way there-- the car broke down on us.  Luckily we weren't far from our destination and luckily too Tim's mom gifts us with AAA every year, so we were able to have the car towed and repaired in time for our return trip home.  We had a great week while we were there, playing at the beach and enjoying some fun family time.

When we returned home it was off to Raleigh to help out with the visiting orphans from the Ukraine.  A group of 15 of them were being sponsored by various families and have been doing camp and Bible lessons for the last 3 weeks.  We went on Monday and helped teach a Bible lesson to the kids, and got to spend some time hanging out with them.  We brought all our children with us as well and they had a blast!  They connected with the kids pretty well, despite the language barrier.  Some of the children had begun to learn English, and they helped teach our kids a few phrases in Russian.  It was so cool to see our children interact with other kids from a different country, with a different language, and yet still find things in common-- like the peace symbols my daughter loves to wear... there was another girl there about her age with one on her shirt too.  This helped break the ice and the two of them were fast friends after that. 

Both we and our children enjoyed ourselves so much that we decided to come back the next day.  By then we were starting to fall in love with two of the kids-- siblings-- who were being hosted.  I prayed for them to find a family, and after much discussion with my husband, thought it might actually be us.  He was getting so attached to them just over the course of those two days.  It caught me by surprise!  Usually it is me discussing adoption with him or pointing out adorable faces on various websites.  This time it was he who was saying "I wish we could just go grab them and bring them home with us!"  I was really stunned at how much he cared for these kids and at his immediate willingness to gravitate towards adoption-- really without any prodding on my part.  But that was just showing me that God was at work softening his heart and opening him up further to the plight of orphans.

In the end, although heartbreaking for us, another family stepped forward and committed to the children before we did.  Everyone believes this will be a good match for them, so we can only pray now that they will have a great future and thank God that He did not allow them to be returned to the orphanage with no hope of a forever family.  That we are truly grateful for.  If we could not be their family we are glad at least that they will have one!

And as my friend Eleni told me-- albeit through my tears-- God would not have lead us through this experience for no reason.  He has a plan.  If nothing else we have had our hearts opened to the idea of adopting more older children from an orphanage, something we might not have considered otherwise.  And my husband was able to understand how wonderful all these children are! They are not a lost cause, they are not all troubled and violent and beyond repair just because they are older as many people would have others think.  And he got to experience firsthand what it is like to begin falling in love with a child who really needs you and wants to have a loving family.

I have to believe God has a plan.  We don't have a crystal ball and we cannot see into the future, but the future is there and it is what we make of it.  For now I know, as I have for a while, that more needs to be done to help these orphans.  I need to make sure I do my part to advocate for them, spread the message, make people aware of their desperate situations and do something to CHANGE their lives....even in some small way.

So although today was a day of sadness for us, while my poor kids were crying at knowing that we were not meant to help these children through adoption this time around, I reassured them that we will have another chance.  There will be more children, there will be-- lord willing-- another camp set up next year for the orphans to attend, and we will be involved.  We will do our part.  And for now I can be content that the seed has been planted- in my heart, in my husband's heart and in the hearts of my children.  If nothing else I know that they will never forget the experiences they had this week.  It has changed their perspective I know about others in this world and what we need to be doing for them.  It pray that it has helped them more to have a servant's heart and opened their hearts and minds to adoption for themselves in the future.  And for all these things I am grateful to God, for I know He has a plan.

Please pray for these wonderful children who we were blessed with meeting this week.  They travel back on the long flight to the Ukraine tomorrow morning, and although they have all been matched with families now-- which is a huge blessing-- they will not be back with them for 6 months or more.  Some of the children have to wait a year before the Ukrainian government will clear them for international adoption as it is their policy to wait approx 14 mos so that Ukrainian families have a chance to adopt them first.  So pray that these children are kept safe while they are waiting to come home to their new, loving families and pray that their futures with these families will be bright ones.

And please, search your hearts and see if you can find it within yourself to do something to help in the plight of orphans across this world.  There are so many ways to help.  If anyone is interested in donating to help provide support to the camp for the orphans next year, leave a comment and let me know.  I would be happy to put you in touch with the right people!

Friday, August 6, 2010

No Regrets

We picked up our 3 eldest children from camp today-- it was entirely all too quiet and calm while they were gone!  They had a blast though, as I knew they would.  The camp is a wonderful Christian-run program sponsored by Florida College each year and it is always a great week of Bible study, reflection, friendship and fun!  My two older kids had attended this camp before, but this was our daughter Kierstyn's first time going and we were a little worried... thought she might be homesick or be uncomfortable because she didn't know many people.  But she did great!  I am so thankful to all the counselors who helped her ease right in and took care of all my kids for me.

She was a great example this week to remind me that sometimes you have to take a leap of faith.  You have to just jump right in and trust that God will be there to guide you... always... and that people will be there to support you.  Sometimes it might even be people you really don't know.

God doesn't want us to always take the easy way out.  What fun would life be if we were never presented with challenges?  We wouldn't ever have the opportunity to rise above and show our strength, our determination or our abilities! We would never get to test our mettle and see what we are really capable of. More importantly we would miss out on some amazing experiences along the way.  And I can assure you, there would also be a lot of what-ifs and regrets left for us to ponder later in life-- just because we were too afraid to take a chance.

What if Kierstyn had decided to let her fears and uncertainties get the better of her this past week?  What if she had turned-tail and run, choosing to head home rather than brave a week of camp?  She would have missed out on one of the greatest weeks of her summer, perhaps her life.  She would not have any of the new friends she made, or have any of the sweet memories she now has.  She would not have any of her new Biblical knowledge.  She would have defeated herself before she even began.

The same is true for anyone out there considering adoption, but still in the process of sorting out all the what-ifs.  Sure, there will be challenges-- but they can be overcome.  With prayer and support from others all things are possible.  Sometimes you have to take that leap of faith, especially in the case of special needs adoption.  There are lots of unknowns out there, and some just can't be answered until the future happens.  But if you feel yourself being lead in that direction, give it the opportunity to happen, give yourself the opportunity to make one of the best decisions of your life. Test your mettle, see what you're made of and what purpose God has for your life.  You might be surprised.

Our family had dinner at a Chinese buffet last night-- our last hurrah with only two kids in tow.  At the end of our meal we were handed our fortune cookies as we got ready to pay and immediately broke them open to read our papers inside.  Mine said "You are heading in the right direction".  As I read it I looked across the table at Tim who had this "ah-ha" look on his face, if but for a second.  Our daughter Georgia immediately said that I had to post that on here!  Not exactly a divine revelation but a timely confirmation at least, as we continue to ponder what is in store for our family with respect to adoption.

Who knows what He has in store for our lives, but I for one know that I don't want to have any regrets.  If that means following life's curvier path... then so be it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I Am In Love.... With A Van

I know it sounds rediculous, it does to my husband and most of my friends too, but one of my greatest dreams is to someday own one of those 12 passenger Chevy vans. Crazy I know.... right?? They all say "Who would ever want to have one of those?"

I only have two friends I know of who agree with me, one who already owns one and one who has no choice but to get one once she has another baby. I remember the day my one friend and her family drove theirs to church for the first time. I was so excited! I couldn't wait to run out to the parking lot after services and see it! I climbed up in the driver's seat and ooh-ed and aahh-ed over its brand-spanking-new interior and then I glanced into the back to gaze at all those seats. Those empty seats just waiting for her kids to fill them up. And I sighed.

I think I know the reason behind my love of these vans... it is what they symbolize. It isn't so much the van itself, after all this is not a Mercedes or sporty put-the-top-down coupe we're talking about here, but rather it says to me "There's a big 'ole happy family driving down the road!"

I even stopped a lady at Cook Out one time to ask her about her van... a 15 passenger this time. She and her husband were getting dinner with their 7 children, 2 of them adopted, and she happily gave me a rundown of its conveniences with her husband emphatically nodding behind her. And what a great family too. Turns out they even homeschool like us, and we ran into them during one of our outings last year. Our kids really hit it off and afterwards we got to talk even more.

Yep, that van is definitely a symbol for me. A symbol of what I would like to achieve in my life-- a big happy family, made up of children I have physically birthed and those I have birthed from my heart. It symbolizes the good I would like for my husband and I to do in the world, truly worthwhile good... to rescue the lives of those who have so few who want them, so few to love them and call them their own.

Our first adoption from foster care, which is still in process and hopefully to be completed before this year's end, was a great first step into this arena. Our newest daughter needed a loving, supportive family, and thankfully we have been able to give her that. It is my greatest hope, and it would be our greatest joy, to give another child or children that same kind of love and security. There is nothing like having a family to kiss you goodnight, praise your best efforts, and even love you when you fall short. All kids need that.. bare minimum. And to me there is nothing like being a mama-- bandaging the bruises, homeschooling them and teaching them that the world is their oyster, and even reprimanding them so that they can grow and mature into all God wants them to be.

So to me, there is nothing like a full 12 passenger van. And for now I can ooh and aah, and dream of all those seats.... maybe one day filled.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Opposition

I have been wanting to sit down and write this post for 3 days now, but unfortunately our DSL was on the fritz. Finally got a technician out here today so it is up and running now. Hooray!

"There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it hardly behooves any of us to talk about the rest of us." Colin Williamson

I have been hearing a lot about opposition on the Yahoo group and the blogs I frequent lately. Opposition to adopting special needs children mostly. It is amazing what some people will say to others about something that has nothing to do with them, or is none of their business. And it is sad that these kind of comments especially are directed at people trying to adopt SN kids or people who already have. Apparently opinions out there are running wild.

I truly believe adoption of a child is one of the greatest gifts you could ever give to yourself as well as to that other person. It opens your eyes and graces you in a way that you might never have thought possible. You learn so many things-- patience, understanding, problem solving and most of all you learn about love in a way you otherwise might never have known. I think that all of this must certainly be ten-fold when adopting a special needs child. So many people on their blogs say that parenting a SN child has brought an abundance of blessings into their lives. You are not just blessing that child with a family, they are blessing you in your day-to-day experiences.

Most posts I have read say that parenting a SN child, especially one with Down Syndrome, has allowed them to be an ambassador for the cause-- enlightening and educating others, and even helping to soften other people's hearts towards people with special needs. Yet lately I have been reading quite a few discussions that are exactly the opposite. People's hearts, instead of being softened, are being hardened to the idea of adopting a SN child... especially one internationally. Some people would ask things like "Why would you want to take on a child with problems instead of a "normal" child?" Or "Have you ever considered foster care? What is wrong with adopting in our country?"

Sometimes questions like these are asked simply out of ignorance. Adopting might be something these people were never interested in and SN might be something they know nothing about. I will surely say I have been getting an education recently on that one! But I find it awfully sad that today in our world, well meaning adoptive families have to be confronted with questions like these from complete strangers and must prepare themselves with an arsenal of answers for the inevitable future confrontations as well.

In my opinion people certainly have the right to hold their own views, but if they do not edify the listener than I see no reason why others must be subjected to them. The old adage goes "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all," and it still holds true today.

Sure, there will always be people out there who don't understand the hearts and minds of those who feel called to adopt-- wherever it might be from, and whatever child it might be. I think it is the hardest when it is family members or friends, the people you feel closest to. It is difficult to explain yourself to them and give a play-by-play as to your reasons for wanting to add another child to your family-- especially in our case since we already had 4 when we decided to go into adoption, or in these other families' cases when they are feeling lead towards a SN child for reasons that others just don't get.

But I believe when you truly feel in your heart that God has called you toward a purpose, nothing should stand in your way. If you truly believe that God will provide, then you have no excuse. He will give you the patience, the heart, the desire, the energy, the finances to do His will. To allow ourselves to be backed down by the words of men, to allow those people to force us to betray our conscience would be unthinkable and a shame.

I feel so blessed to read the writings of so many families who are on the adoption journey, especially the ones through Reece's Rainbow who are out there rescuing the orphans that so many others do not want and would allow to just be cast aside. I am so proud of them and the example they set for others. I feel ashamed for the rest of the world that these families are made to believe that they have to defend or explain themselves for doing what God has called them to do.

All I have to say is this-- whomever is getting in your way, whoever's words you need to politely ignore to continue on in your journey to make this world a better place one child at a time, please continue to fight the good fight. Everyone else does not need to understand. It would be nice if they would support us, but we know that God does even if they don't.

Proverbs 16:17 states "When a man's ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him."

Let's continue to try and please the Lord.