Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Praises, praises, praises...

It may have something to do with the caffeinated Diet Coke I drank tonight (when I don't usually drink caffeine). It may be the over-abundance of good adoption news lately. Whatever it is, I feel like I will burst if I don't get some PRAISES out into the blogasphere!

1. Visas. Visas! Visas!!! There is absolutely no high higher than when a family is granted their child's visa. Actually, any good news related to visas is an absolute high. One of our families was granted their child's visa recently. They waited a long time for the referral and they waited a long time from court to visa issuance. I couldn't be more happy for them. Another two families got the BEST surprise when they were given visa appointments much more quickly than we anticipated. 1 or 2 weeks away is so much better than having to wait 1 or 2 months for the appointment!

2. Court! After a long dry summer, the past month has proven to be full of LIFE in Ghana adoptions. I can't tell you how thankful I am to know that SIX of the families I work with have passed court in the last month (and another handful on their way)! Just to know that six families have been created...wow.

3. Refund! We feel incredibly blessed to say that we received our IRS adoption tax credit over the weekend. We filed our taxes in February and we've been going through the verification process almost all adoptive families have been forced to go through in order to get their refund. Honestly, I am a crappy record-keeper. I had very few receipts from our travel. Thankfully, AAI sent our paid invoices for adoption expenses. I really didn't know if everything would match up and knew we didn't have any more "proof" to send. We were already lucky, because the refund wasn't being counted on to pay off an adoption or other important things. We would get it, or not. We got it. Since we weren't set on getting it, it was an extra special surprise!

4. Debt (or lack thereof). Since we got married, we have been in debt. Most of the debt was adoption-related (thanks to loans from a relative). Some of it was stupid credit card debt from when we were young and didn't know better. Some of it was essential credit card debt that went to pay for hospital/medical bills when Samren was so sick. For the past 5 years we have really been trying to pay our debt off. Earlier this year we paid off the family loan ($30K)! Whew--talk about a monkey off your back! We have been chipping away at the revolving debt and are now down to $4500. Between the tax credit and what we've been able to save, it looks like that debt will be paid off within the next few months. It also looks like within the next 6 or so months we will be able to pay off our car. Woo hoo! We will still have student loan debt, and a home-improvement loan to pay off (from the house we lived in 6 years ago!), but we are making progress.

5. School. While there have been some issues surrounding the program we chose for Taevy and Samren, over all, we've had such a great start to our school year! The little ones (and the rest of us) absolutely ADORE Calvert so far. They littles are basically both doing both years (pre-k and K), with modifications as necessary. It may just be that Kendi will get to jump ahead to 1st grade next year, or it may be that Bright needs an extra year to master Kinder concepts. The big ones are working diligently on their more basic curriculum in hopes that next year they will be totally caught up by end of year. All of us adore our little classroom. The best part of the day is our corny opening procedures! The Pledge...calender and weather..."daily news"...journal writing. It's great.

6. My husband's job. In an economy where so many have no job at all, my husband has a steady position that provides well for his family. He works very hard for us. Our goal has been that Eric would someday be able to provide fully for our family without my needing to make an income. That was impossible in the past, because of our debt. As we pay our debt, it's becoming more possible. It will be a wonderful day when we know I am working because I choose to, rather than because I must.

Recently he was asked to interview for another position, and was offered that position. While it's not the right fit, the experience as served to encourage him--to feel respected and appreciated for his talents. It also served to help him feel more appreciative of the job he does have. Isn't that awesome?!

7. Our home. Over the weekend we went to an open house...just because. We ended up in what would seem like the perfect house for us (of course!). An established older neighborhood with beautiful big trees for me. A house that had been taken down to the studs to the point that it was basically like new construction, for Eric. 3200 square feet with 4 bedrooms and a huge 2nd living space (aka classroom!) upstairs, for all of us. The perfect kitchen. Huge closets. A big deep bathtub. All at the amazingly low price of about 3 times the cost of our current house! We asked ourselves, "Did it feel twice as big as our house?" No. "Did it seem like it should be 3 times the price?" No. "Do we NEED all of those extra dream things?" No. "Would adding that huge debt feel good?" No.

By the end of the afternoon Eric and I were talking about all of the good things about our home. It's big enough (1800 sf). It has all the sleeping space we NEED. We have a ton of neighborhood support (should something ever happen to Eric). The mortgage is very comfortable, and would be easily paid off (if something ever happened to Eric). We have great access to the highway. Things could change, but instead of trying to figure out how we could sell our house and afford the "dream house," we ended up making a list of things we can do in this house to make it even more our home. For the past 6 years it feels like we've been living here without really knowing if this would be the forever house, or an interim house. We haven't painted. We haven't improved. We haven't even maintained it well, to be honest. We're ready to change that. We've already started with our recent classroom remodel and bedroom painting. With part of our tax refund we are going add some other things, and make this house even more of OUR home.

8. My job. I am a job-changer. I taught in public school for two years, then resigned to stay home with my kids. I worked in adoption for a few years, then resigned to be full time mommy again. I taught private early childhood music classes for a few years, and then resigned again. I have a constant struggle between mommyhood and career. For the first time in my life, I feel somewhat settled. My job is really emotionally draining some days (weeks), but for 4.5 years, the good has outweighed the bad. I have been able to keep my family as my #1 priority (which didn't happen the last time I worked in adoption). Nothing has been sacrificed. Well, I guess there are days here and there were the kids take a backseat, but not as a whole. I truly enjoy the families I get to work with. I don't know what it is. Is it that Ghana draws a certain type of family? Is it that AAI draws a certain time of family? There is *something* different.

Here are some character examples of the people I get to work with daily:

*Family organizes and hosts largest Ghana Adoptive Family gathering in the U.S., before they even have a referral.

*Families (plural!) VOLUNTEER to pay monthly foster care fees for their children, even though it is not required of them--just because they know funds are tight. What? Really?!

*Family hears of a mom in Ghana that needs career training. Plops down $500 IN THE MIDDLE OF THEIR OWN ADOPTION EXPENSES to help the mom.

*Families write to ME to see how I am doing when there is bad news coming out of Ghana, when they are the ones who are in the middle of the process!

*Families write to express appreciation and thanks for the agency when fees go up!

*Family runs huge adoption auction for another adoptive family--raises $16k for the family!

I could go on and on and on, but you get the idea. How could I not feel privileged to do this work? And this is only the U.S. side. I won't even go into the amazingess of the folks I get to work with in Ghana.

Praises and blessings. Praises and blessings.

I don't want to put it out there like our life is all sunshine and roses. It's not. You all know about the challenges as well (since I write of them often)! There are times when this life feels completely overwhelming in the worst possible way. And there are times (like today) where I feel completely overwhelmed in the best possible way. I suppose that the bitter makes the sweet taste all the better.



P.S. The next time I'm on the low side, someone please remind me to go back and read this post again!


CarrieT 4:36 PM  

Great list and great reminder to count our blessings. We have had some setbacks recently but your list reminded me of many reasons we have to be thankful.

Carrie T. - mom to 4 from Korea

GrandmaB 12:41 PM  

Praying you rest well in Jesus' arms.