Saturday, June 30, 2012

30-some years old

In the early hours of my 30-somethingish birthday,  someone may have over-indulged on my brew of choice and drank a little too much Mt. Dew with her cheap pizza tonight.   A party animal I am..

So reflection/confession time. 

Things you may not know about me:
  • I HATE my birthdays.  Like really hate.   I don't know why but I am so uncomfortable with the attention and would rather the day went by unnoticed.   I think it is because having a summer birthday, most of my friends were usually at the beach and it was all the expectation of presents or 'Happy Birthday, I just miss you soooo much!' calls that never came and the downer after.  
  •  I also HATE singing the 'Happy Birthday song'.  My children have been blessed to have their Daddy sing it or it would never be started and nobody would know when to blow the blasted candle out.   Thank goodness I make really, like really, good cakes.
  • I have yet to see a psychiatrist for my Happy Birthday phobia.   And I'm dealing with it fine, thank you very much.
  • Voted 'most changed since junior high as I went from a homely little one who was said to look like 'a little owl' and had never been given a boy's Swatch watch to wear (HUGE let-down in the day), to the Vice President of Student Council.
  • Worked at Sonic as a car-hop, without the skates.   It was required I learn in 2 weeks after hiring but after falling on my tail too many times, I risked firing as I turned my white skates in with a 'no thank you note'.    Thank goodness I was hot so they let me stay on and drink free Cherry Lime-Aids to my heart's content.
  • Did the beauty pageant wave in 3 home-town parades on the back of a convertible mustang.   
  • Participated in 2 pageants - one of which I won (with only two competitors) and was crowned 'Miss BBQ Queen'.  The other of which had to be rigged cause I didn't even place runner-up.   Still a little bitter bout that one.
  • If I show you my owl pictures and my pageant pictures you would swear I was a liar.  I can promise you that.   I was a reality make-over show before reality make-over shows came on every other hour on cable tv.
  • I fell in puppy love with a jock who was my bus driver and sat behind him drooling over his shoulder every day of my sophomore year.   Shocker is that my pageant days had not yet hit and he still flirted with the little owl anyway.
  • Even more a shocker was that the bus driver turned Navy Sailor would come and visit the non-skating-Sonic-carhop who was now hot on his weekends off.    
  • Even more a shocker was that we got married between my Junior and Senior years of college at a party school.   Was I trying to throw away my free pass at being-an-idiot-years??
So in my last 15-17 adult years I have pretty successfully:
  • married my high school crush, and stayed married to him - SCORE
  • Made it through graduate school as a married student who never saw her new husband, and still stayed married to him - SCORE++
  • Been pregnant and gave birth to 3 beautiful children.  Each through the magical moments of epidural deliveries.   And do not regret never doing it naturally.  Not one iota.   And my hair and make-up still looked good for after birth photos.   So there.  Another +. 
  • Did my tour of duty in the public schools before starting my own business.   Loving the work I do but hating every minute of the required paperwork and labor it takes to get paid.   I think I need an epidural drip for my office chair. 
  • Made three trips to Africa.  The first completely 'on my own' with a group of strangers who were to become life-long friends.  My longest (and only) plane ride prior had been approximately 45 minutes to Florida.  On my honeymoon.
  • Fell in love with Africa and began the short, but turned out to be long, process to adopt our daughter from there.   And realized that natural labors are bound to be much easier than adoption pregnancies.   Why is there no option for medication in adoption labor??  oh wait, there is - it's called anti-depressants....  
  • Have realized anti-depressants are not the enemy.  They help me to curb my desire to yank my eyebrows out if I have to wait too long at a stoplight during my week when Tony feels compelled to ask 'are you PMSing!!!!'   Why yes, hubs, yes I am.   Did the chocolate ring around my mouth give it away??
  • Have realized that said chocolate doesn't fall off my thighs as easily in 2010's as it did in the 2000's.  Dang it.

I have also realized that I am the daughter of a King.  A fact I think I somehow missed in my early years.   I thought I was good to go to the party but really was one of the virgins stuck outside the gates with a lamp with no oil.   (Matt 25:9-11 for an explanation of the virgin reference)  

And my only regret (besides letting Dave Ramsey advise us to move our deductibles really high before a hailstorm which wrecked our cars and roof..) is that I started it all so late in the game...

How much more could I have done if my passion, or light, had been lit earlier?   How many more miracles could I have been able to witness had I opened my eyes earlier? 
How many more friends, true friends, could I have made if I had searched them out sooner?
How would my life have changed if I had let loose and given it over to HIM at a younger age?

Somehow I don't think things would be much different because one thing that it did take me 3 years in the adoption race to learn is that HIS TIMING IS PERFECT and patience is hard learned.    So I guess He has me right where he wants me and the above bullets are exactly where he wanted 'em to be...

just wondering where the next 20 years may take me.   Cause my fire is lit now, and I pray that my path will be as well. 

Happy Birthday to me... if I celebrated birthdays that is.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Not all adopted kids have AIDS... but so what if they do??

Olivia has been home now a month and a half!   She is so healthy, so happy, and just exudes such joy to everyone who meets her.   She's gone to the farm, to the beach, to the mountains, and even (gasp) to the grocery store since she has been home.   I had expected it would be harder... and I know I should  be knocking on wood here.  But I thought her  transition would involve many more tantrums and the feedback from our little Southern town would be less than enthusiastic.  

But it hasn't been that at all.  Strangers (black, white, old, young) have frequently stopped us to comment how beautiful she is and we haven't had a single negative public comment as of yet.   Again, knocking on wood.  I'm still expecting to meet that idiot at Wal-Mart who starts out with 'Where's her real mama?' (ahem, I am her real mama.  I have thousands in dr. bills to prove it.)

The one comment that has knocked me on my behind is 'well, she doesn't have AIDS does she??'    Because obviously, she is from Africa.... and well, everyone knows AIDS comes from Africa. 
 So all black African children must have AIDS.  (insert eye roll)

And let me start by answering - no, adopted children are tested before, and often after, adoption to find out any conditions that may be present.    There have been cases of false positives, but not negatives.  If they don't have it, it does not 'mature' and exhibit itself at a later date.   Decades of research, decades.

But let me also say, if my child did have HIV - #1 it wouldn't really be anyone else's business but ours.. and #2 your child would most likely be the dangerous of the two when they play together as it would be your germs that could hurt my child's fragile immune system.   Just sayin'.

It is pure idiocracy that the media has ignored this issue for so long.  No new information has been publicized since the 1980s.  And that is a crime.  HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence.  Especially in a country as affluent as the old US of A.   Medicines have made great strides and the condition, and treating it, has actually been said to be much easier to manage than childhood diabetes.   So why hasn't the media told us this???    Children diagnosed with AIDS can now be medicated to the point that they would actually test negative their counts are so low.  They can marry, and have sex, and have children without passing the disease along.   Didn't know that did ya??

Why is there still the stigma put on these children, who had no say in the matter anyway as to whether they contracted the disease or not??  Why are they the ones that parents don't want their kids to play with on the playground - when no cases have shown casual contact like hugging, wrestling, or swimming can transmit AIDS??  There are even no cases of an adopted child passing the disease along to their parents or siblings - even with contact with blood from accidents or scrapes.

So IF my child WERE sick:
The facts are that unless your toddler is planning on having sex with my toddler, they can't get it.
Unless you toddler is breastfeeding from my toddler, they can't get it.
Unless your toddler is sharing needles under the plastic slide with my toddler, they can't get it.

And let me take another wild guess that your child would not be giving birth to mine as that is the ONLY other way to get it, and happens to be the way that the majority of orphans abroad contracted the disease. 

So back to Africa - yes - the rates are high.  But they are also high in the Ukraine and Russia, worried about that little blond boy at the playground lately??   His mom has dark hair, he might be adopted?  Who knows?  

These orphans in other countries have a very good chance of dying from childhood illnesses they contract in the crowded orphanages.  These children in the US have a much better chance of leading long and healthy lives.   These children were orphans, and throughout scripture it says to defend the orphans, so how Christ-like are people who call themselves followers of Christ who are shunning these children like they have leprosy??   I'm pretty sure a guy I look up to ate with them as well...  

So NO, not all black, adopted children from Africa have AIDS. 
But if they did, so what?   My children have played with children with HIV in America and in the African orphanages, and you know what, I don't know which ones had it and which ones didn't.  And my kids could have cared less either.  So, so what?  

This awesome video explains the above in a much more friendly way - without the aggravated tone I was unable to hide:

Truth Pandemic

There is no excuse for ignorance.
Get the FACTS: 
take the time to browse Project Hopeful's website.  They have been making tremendous strides in trying to educate the public and defend the orphan.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Blame it on the Rain

Written a few weeks back, and just now finished (cause I've kinda been a bit busy)

People have asked me - 'how did your kids do in Africa?' Amazing. Great. They loved it. Seth was begging me to take him back for trip #2. My response, "Bud, if you go back; you will fail 6th grade." I think he would have been ok with that...

Braeden prayed yesterday for the guard at the guest house who had played soccer with them to be safe (and to dream about them).   One of the boys woke up a couple nights after we returned home and said he had had a bad dream that he was one of the boys living on the streets.   These are the feelings I had hoped they would feel.    Eyes opened with new vision.

Addison, I thought, just went with the flow. She saw dirt, and poverty. But she also saw kids. And she played. And saw hippos. I thought she was too young to really process and learn a lot from this trip but there was no way I was leaving her at home. But I didn't think she would 'get it' - that life lesson I wanted the boys to learn. But oh, was I wrong.  One night after our trip (prior to bringing Olivia home)  while  coming out of the movies, it was a torrential downpour. Like the kind where you get soaked to the bone even with an umbrella. The streets were flooded instantly and Daddy had to go and get the car for us from across the street. As we waited underneath the overhang of the Little Theatre, her eyes went big and she had that look of terror. "Mommy! What about Olivia!??!! What will happen to her in all this rain???" So I explained that Olivia will be fine. It was not raining that exact moment in Ethiopia, and even if it were, Olivia would be nice and warm inside the transition home. To which her eyes got big again and she asked, "but what about all the little boys who live on the street??? Where will they go!!??!!!" To which I had no soothing answer.

 Because there are so, so many little boys living on the streets of Addis.   And big boys. Sleeping in the medians.  And old people. And handicapped. And mothers with babies and toddlers huddled under their shawls.  

 And it is now the rainy season in the city of Addis.   A necessity for crop production but a season which brings tropical storm type winds and heavy rains almost every day.  And where DO they go?  And why don't we care as much as my 6 year old??? 

And even for some 'lucky' enough to have shelter.... how much shelter from torrential downpours can this be? 
 homes we passed on the way up Mt. Entoto

On those nights when I complain about my back hurting from our super thick mattress... or I complain about having to pay to have a brand new roof put on our house after our last one was damaged...  I stop myself and thank God; for blessed doesn't even seem to describe our affluent lives.....