Adoption update

As we get closer to buying a house, we grow more anxious to expand our family. Since our failed placement in August, we have not heard anything from our agency about potential adoptions. We've only been on the list of available adoptive parents for a year and a half, but we've been trying, waiting, and hoping for kids for nearly five years. It's been a long wait. Over the past few months, Nate and I have talked more and more about the question we've been avoiding for five years: What if we are never presented with the chance to adopt a baby? Then what? Our desire is to be parents, so what do you do with that desire when it seems almost totally out of reach?

Over the past few years we've peeked at a local agency's website that contains photos and profiles of kids in Nebraska who have been in the foster system but are now available for adoption. Typically these kids are older (the average age seems to be about 11) and many of the kids on the website come with siblings that must all be placed with the same family. Last week we made contact with a woman through this agency to see what we needed to do if we were interested in adopting one or more of these kids. She responded promptly and gave us all the steps we needed to take...the first step is to become licensed foster parents. After some praying and researching, we've decided that we will take this first step. Even if we don't adopt one of the kids from the above agency, there are lots of kids in Nebraska who need stable, loving temporary homes. That's something we can provide, so why wouldn't we?

Nate and I have been thinking and praying about this a lot this week. We've wondered if we should stay in the adoption pool and just become foster parents while we wait; we've wondered if we should take ourselves out of the adoption pool for now and pursue adopting one or more of the kids who are ready for adoption...it's a lot to think about, really. When most couples get married, they assume they'll have a few babies to raise. Most couples don't imagine themselves facing infertility and adopting an older child. It's definitely not the direction we thought our lives would take, but the more we face reality, the more we realize that we simply want to be parents. When I think about not adopting a baby, it doesn't make me sad like it once did. Our path to parenthood might be non-traditional: It could mean fostering kids; it could mean adopting an 11 year old or adopting a set of three siblings. I'm sure people might think we're crazy for taking on any of those options, but if crazy means providing a loving, safe home for kids, then I'm all for being crazy.

If you're the praying type, here are a few requests:

  • We're trying to decide if we should stay with our agency or switch to a different agency here in Omaha that works more closely with the agency that places those older children with "forever families." It's a big decision, so we'll need to be wise and patient as we make it. We will be attending an informational meeting in two weeks for this other agency to see what the process is for fostering and how it compares to our current agency. 
  • Pray that God would continue to prepare us (our marriage, our home, and our families) for whatever God has in store for our family.
  • We need to close on our house in Ogallala, and if we want to foster or adopt, we'll need to find a home here in Omaha that we can move into by June or July. Like most young couples, we're on a limited budget, but we would like to find a home that doesn't require a lot of work and has four or more bedrooms so we can either adopt a set of siblings or offer foster care to siblings. 
  • Something has to change a bit with my current schedule before we invite kids into our home...not sure how that might look, and I know I need to remain working full time. I want to be able to give whatever kids we have in our home the attention they deserve.
Many of you have offered us support through prayers and kind words; please know that we could not have traveled this tough road and come out stronger on the other side without this support. Thank you! 


The Power of Language

My juniors and I are currently reading Kindred, and this week we're studying the power of language. We've read some fabulous pieces about how language is used to oppress, how a word can change meanings based on the context, and today we read about how language can offer restoration as we read Jimmy Santiago Baca's essay, "Coming into Language." My students were captivated as we read the piece out loud. It's a powerful piece that leaves me breathless each time I read it. Tonight they are writing about their experiences with language--how the written or spoken word has impacted them. I'm anxious to read their pieces. As a whole, they're kind of a hesitant group. I'm not sure they've been asked to do much personal writing or sharing of their writing. They were very panicky about this, so I  had to give them a pep talk about the importance of sharing our work and experiences in order to build community and learn from one another's experiences. I'm still not sure they completely bought into it...

I told them I'd write my own piece and bring it to class to share. I've done this before with them, and each time they're a bit taken aback, and I can tell that some find it unnerving that their teacher is sharing a piece of her life with them. So tomorrow I'll unnerve them again by sharing this piece:

It was my senior year, and I was 17. My close friends, the ones who saw the real me--the me without the mask--had graduated and left for college or to pursue jobs, and I was left behind in my dusty, factory speckled town. A usual symptom of youth is a discontentedness with one's community, and I was no exception. I couldn't wait to leave. I didn't know where I wanted to go, but I knew I wanted out. Feeling a bit abandoned, I took to reading books. I read Tom Robbins, Kurt Vonnegut, John Steinbeck, and Jack Kerouac among others. I pictured myself hoboing with Kerouac, and time traveling to be a fruit-picker in California, and for the first time I dreamed of becoming a writer. I ate lunch with Steinbeck--outside when the weather was nice leaning on a tree that sat near the front of my high school or inside on an 80s looking wooden cube--carpeted on top and with rounded edges that sat in front of my English classroom. I rekindled my childhood love-affair with the public library and spent afternoons after school reading on the floor upstairs where it was the quietest. My previous three years of high school had been incredibly social, but this year I became more introverted and found a sort of peace in this newfound solitude. Perhaps it was because I wasn't really alone; my books provided me with companionship. At the end of the year, I found myself declaring a major in English. I was to be a modern beatnik poet--without all the hitchhiking. For a graduation gift, a family friend gave me a dark brown leather journal. The cover was soft and the pages inside were crisp and earth-toned. I spent that summer writing pages of poems and songs and later took it with me to college--those pages helped me process some difficult moments in life: a troubling relationship and later a devastating heartbreak, an unexpected bout of homesickness, a wild phase where I tested my limits with alcohol, and eventually self discovery. Books and writing carried me to new places within myself I didn't know existed before that year. And still, when I let them, they sweep me up in a wave of introspection that muddies the waters but almost always leaves me feeling clean and calm afterwards.