Sunday, October 13, 2013

One Year + One Month

It dawned on me a few weeks ago that we have been on this journey to adopt for just over a year and a month. You can read more about all the details and timing of the journey on this post.

As we have talked about our first year on this journey, we are both surprised and grateful for how quickly it has gone.

Even though our journey on this road of adoption has been a large part of the last 13 months, our lives have been marked by other highlights... a few are recounted below:

1.) We both changed jobs at the start of this school year. Philip has left the role of a classroom teacher and serves as the Behavior Interventionist at the same school. This role keeps him very busy during the school day, but he enjoys interacting with more students and staff. He is also gaining great experience to help him move toward a principal job someday. I changed schools from Southeast to South. I was telling a few folks this week that I really could not have asked for a smoother transition. I'm still teaching math (algebra 1 all day) and working on completing my master's field experience.

2.) In June, we brought a little chocolate lab named Lucy into our lives. Much of our daily routine has now changed as we have adjusted to having a high-energy, four legged creature live with us. She is now 5 1/2 months old and quickly approaching 50 lbs. I actually think she gets bigger each day while we are gone to school. Owning a puppy has definitely had its high and low points, but we have learned a lot about ourselves, patience and puppy behavior.

3.) My sister moved to India in August to help start a school.

4.) In early September, we helped to launch and lead a young adult small group ministry on Sunday evenings.

5.) My classes are finished for my master's and we have thankfully paid for each class as I've gone through so that when my master's is finished we will have no school debt from it.

6.) Philip got to do some to do some traveling for free. In September 2013, he won us a free trip (all expenses paid except food) to the Desiring God Conference which included airfare, hotel and conference registration for both of us. In July, he went to Portland for a week to a conference on positive behavior support to train him for his new position.

7.) On the adoption scale, I'd like to think we are 50% of the way there, but we do not really know. We are well over 50% of the way through the paperwork. We have probably paid close to 50% of the total fees and expenses. Time will tell how long we will wait.

That is a very quick year in review... maybe it is true that the more things change, the more they stay the same. :)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Being a Parent

When you google the definition of parent, it says the following...

1.) a father or mother
2.) be or act as a mother or father to (someone)

Another definition that struck me said...

"a guardian, a proctector"
"to act as a parent to; to raise and nurture"

Wikipedia says..

"Parenting (or child rearing) is the process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotion, social and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. Parenting refers to the aspects of raising a child aside from the biological relationship."

I know my sources probably are not the best or most reliable but I would doubt that I would find definitions or descriptions that would be far from the ones above.

As we have begun this journey of adoption with the end goal of starting a family by bringing children into our home and family, I have spent significant time thinking about "being a parent." I think most parents would tell us that you are never really ready to be a parent and you just learn as you do it. My mom likes to say that babies do not come with an owner's manual. 

We are taking the non-traditional route to becoming parents in the world's eyes but in God's eyes it is the route in which he parents us so adoption is the deepest rooted path to a family established by the creator of the universe. 

I could make a pretty long list of the training and requirements we have already gone through on this path to being parents, but do any these really train or qualify us to parent? Sure, they have been helpful an educational on what to expect and what to not expect. They have alerted us on the realities of bringing a child into your home who has only known the walls of an international orphanage as home. They have bluntly prepped us for potential medical, emotional and psychological issues that are present in many, if not most, internationally adopted children. These realities alone were enough to really cause us to pause and ask ourselves if we really are ready for this. Are we sure? Are we parent-material?

In the midst of asking these questions throughout this past year, God has brought to mind the ways he acts as our father. He has also shown and reminded me of the opportunities he has placed on our path to deepen our understanding and desire to be parents.

"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." - Ephesians 2:10

Recently our pastor began a series on Ephesians and this verse was the conclusion of the passage he was preaching through one Sunday. However, you must read Ephesians 2:1-9 to really grasp the emphasis in this verse. It is GOD who prepare these good works (like parenting) for us to walk into. He is glorified as we obediently walk in these good works. He gives us the gift of faith through grace to follow him obediently. 

This truth as well as so many others has been an encouragement to me in the midst of questioning if we are ready, if we are sure, if we really can and will be parents... Good parents. 

The Lord has also put so many opportunities for us to "practice" parenting. Since we are both teachers, we have had countless opportunities to, in a small way, be a parent-role in the lives of some of students. The amazing part of these opportunities is that the Lord has used those students to teach and shape us more than we probably influence the students. We had the opportunity to host a college student for the summer. My sister called him our "summer son." It was a great chance for us to learn how to support and encourage a student heading off to college out of state. The more we interacted with him, the more we found ourselves invested in his success. I am sure we only had a small glimpse of what parents go through as they send their children off to college.

There are so many faces and names of students who have impacted the parents we will be someday. Sebastian. Thao. Josh. Tram. Kaheem. Courtney. D'Avonte. Jeremiah. Kikelomo. Teya. Donald. Steven. Alex. Joe. Tyana. Rebecca. Mineka. Jay. Austin. Richard. Ryan. EJ. Amy. Antoine. Halston. and countless more could be added to this list.

And the more recent parenting training has been the newest addition to 2469 S Linden... Lucy, our chocolate lab. We brought her home in early June when she was just over 6 weeks old and barely more than 9 lbs. Now she is 5 months old weighing 43 lbs. (those stats are not exaggerated!) She has revamped and rescheduled our lives in many ways, most for the good. She isn't a perfect puppy, but she loves us unconditionally and forgives quickly. Yes she is a dog, but we learn a lot about ourselves from having her around. We learn that having something so small rely on us for everything is taxing and rewarding at the same time. We learn that functioning off little sleep is difficult. We learn that sometimes you get a good routine established just for it to get upset and you have to start over again. We learn that we have to communicate so that she is taken care of. We are reminded even though it would be easier at times to not have her around that sometimes the easy route is not the most rewarding or most beneficial.

Does all of that mean we are ready and prepared to be good parents? Probably not. We really have no hope apart from God's grace guiding us through it day by day. His grace is what has show us these lessons through these experiences. All we can strive for is that he gets the glory out of our lives as singles, young marrieds and someday parents.

Luke 12:48b "Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more." We have been given so much in all areas of life, but especially in the area of family and the parents who have raised us. We pray that we will be good stewards of these good gifts when our opportunity arises.