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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Beat of My Heart (my kids' version)

Here is yet another video of our kids that I put together earlier this summer. This was actually done before "Walkie Talkie Man" (See post "Rock Star Kids")
As you can tell, we have fun doing them. Enjoy!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Why? Why? Why?

As I talk to more people about our adoption, the questions that I most commonly hear are:

1. Why Russia?
2. Why two?
3. Why a boy and a girl?
4. Why adoption?

I've already covered question 1 and 4. Today I'll tackle question #3. Why a boy and a girl?

The true answer is "because we can." We struggled with this for a while. Are we playing God by choosing the sex of our children? It goes without saying that when we had our first two biological children we had no part in determining the sex. Why on earth do we now dare to be so bold and handpick our children? (one may ask)

Well, if we think about it logically there are only two sexes to pick from. Therefore, we are not really narrowing down our selection to anything unreasonable. Secondly, Russia does not have a major shortage of boys or girls one way or another. Now we have been told that the Russian culture favors girls because it is thought that the girls are more likely to stay around and take care of there parents when they're older. (Nothing motivates more than self interest) Therefore it is slightly more difficult to adopt girls.

Nevertheless, we have opted to ask for a boy and girl and see what happens. Part of us likes the symetry that will occur in the family: 2 boys 2 girls; 2 biological 2 adopted; it seems to make sense to us. It's as if everyone will have a "friend" in any situation.

Do I sound severely warped by my comments? Am I living in a fantasy? I suppose.... Like I said before, the reason we picked a boy and girl is because we can. It was one of the questions that we filled out on our application to the adoption agency. We had to put something down. Must we always have a profound reason for what we do?


It reminds me of a line from my favorite movie "So I Married an Axe Murderer": The scene takes place at a 30th anniversary party for the parents of the main characters. The husband of 30 years stands up to give a toast to his wife and says,

"I'm glad I married you May, because..... uh.... it could've been worse?"


Ok, I'm not really sure that has anything to do with what I was talking about - but it still makes me laugh.

For the record, if we get a phone call saying that they have 2 girls waiting for us, we probablly won't hesitate for one minute. We'll take 'em.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Happy Birthday Hallie

Although this is Molly and Zac's blog, today is my oldest daughter's Birthday. I can't resist giving a big shout out to my little angel.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY HALLIE!!!

It's hard to believe she's 4 years old today. 4 years. Wow. When you start to break down life into 4 year segments, you can't help but marvel at how fast it all goes.

Things that last 4 years:

1. High School
2. College (for some.... )
3. A set of tires
4. Katie's old boyfriend
5. Hamsters
6. A large package of Q-tips
7. A pair of socks (debatable)
8. A President's term
9. Frank Solich's Career
10. My front teeth until I knocked them out as a kid.

For a cool video of Hallie (and Jake) check out the post titled: "Rock Star Kids!"

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Freedom Firm

Most of you may be catching on that Katie and I have found a new passion for homeless/ orphaned children. In addition to adopting, we can't help but be moved to action to help the millions of children that aren't exactly getting what I would call "a fair deal".

If you are at all interested in knowing how YOU may help the cause, I've got a great idea:

FREEDOM FIRM: http://www.freedom.firm.in/

As an organization, Freedom Firm focuses their efforts on removing underage prostitution in India.

Katie and I were made aware of this through some friends of ours. Specifically, our friend's brother is what you could call a Lawyer Missionary.

"Huh? A Layer Missionary? Isn't that an oxymoron? What about all those Lawyer jokes out there?"

Here's the thing, his job is to make sure that brothel owners get charged to the absolute fullest degree upon their arrest. That way, not only are they rescuing young girls from prostitution, but their also busting up the entire "industry" by making the risk of getting caught extremely high. By being an experienced lawyer in the US for many years, he understands how the law and courts work in terms of prosecuting these dirtbags.

"But he's in India!" you may say.

Ah yes, but get this: The Indian courts are set up from the old Brittish law. Believe it or not, they are even required to speak English as their official court language. So being in India works out extremely well!

Check out our friend's site at: http://parkspage.com

I highly recommend sending them some sort of financial contribution. As a CFP, I can assure you that your return on investment will be high.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Middle Names

If you check my earlier post entitled "Names and Rooms", you will read about how we have already named our soon to be adopted children. Molly and Zac. Although in my post I said that I favored the spelling as "MOLLIE", I think we've changed our mind to MOLLY.

But here's the new debate: Middle names.

For a long time we had picked Zachary Douglas Horner. (Douglas is my dad's name). But now we're not so sure about the middle name. (Sorry dad). And Molly we were never very sure of.

Our thinking is this: Should their middle names be their giving Russian name? Or should their middle names be named after our family. (Giving them continued reassurance that they ARE 100% in the family). Or could we have two middle names? (Zachary Vladimir Douglas Horner?) Hmmm.... If we were really creative, we could name him Zachary Antov Charles Horner. Then his initials AND his name would be the same!!! ZACH! How cool would that be?

I welcome anyone's comments on this important issue. We need your thoughts and advice. Simply click on the word "comment" right under this post. You don't need to sign in. Just click on the anonymous button.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Get Involved!

Katie and I had a chuckle yesterday. Our homestudy caseworker called and wanted to get a complete list of Katie's High School activities.

Huh? High School activities? Are you serious, Clark?

Let that be a lesson to you kid readers out there. It really is important to get good grades and be involved in high school. Not only does it help you get into the college of your choice, but apparently it counts in your homestudy if you ever choose to adopt.

FYI - Katie was in Swing Choir, Job's Daughters, Yearbook editor, volleyball, basketball, Danz Katz, French Club (president), National Honor Society, Madrigals, and was the lead in the musical.

Friday, December 22, 2006

All I Really Want for Christmas

Katie brought to my attention a song written by Steven Curtis Chapman entitled "All I Really Want for Christmas". For those of you that know, SCC is a big supporter of adoption and has adopted a little girl into his own family. See www.shoahannahashope.org for more info.


Here's the lyrics to the Chorus:

All I really want for Christmas is someone to tuck me in
A shoulder to cry on if I lose, shoulders to ride on if I win
There's so much I could ask for, but there's just one thing I need
All I really want for Christmas is a family.


Woah. Although I heard this song last year when it came out, it didn't mean as much to me as it did when I heard it again yesterday. Then things really hit me. Realistically, my kids are alive out there somewhere in Russia right now. I know that we have to go through all the same procedures as everyone else that adopts, but yesterday I really wanted to jump on a plane and go find my kids. I don't feel like waiting. I don't feel like being patient. I need to be their dad. I need to hold them. I need to tell them it's going to be alright. I want them to sit on my lap this weekend and tear through the wrapping paper. I want to read them a bedtime story. I don't want them to be hungry or scared anymore.

Man, this is going to be harder than I thought....

Thursday, December 21, 2006

News from China

Yesterday, the newswire told us that China is tightening up its standards for adopting. Apparantly, a person cannot be fat, ugly, poor or emotional if they want to adopt. (I'll probally get myself for that last sentence.... I couldn't resist saying it).

Here's the details:
1. You can't adopt from China if your Body Mass Index is over 40. At first I was shocked at this. But then I found a website that calculates BMI and found out that a man my height would have to weigh in at 305 to exceed a BMI of 40. Without sounding like a jerk, I have to admit that 305 is a bit large for a 6'1" dude. I've got to think that the health concerns are high for someone of this stature. Now that I think about it, I'm surprised that they didn't add smoking as another disqualification. (If indeed health is a concern)

2. You can't adopt if you have "severe facial abnormalities". I hope this doesn't include the occasional zit that I get. The irony is that I get zits from all my working out over the lunch hour. (To avoid weighing 305 pounds!)

3. You must have a net worth of over $80,000. Actually being a financial advisor, I somewhat agree with this. Well.... I don't know.... maybe not. I think I'll remain neutral on this one. Although saving is important, there are plenty of good, poor parents. Conversely, there are plenty of poor, rich parents. (Do you like my play on words here?)

4. You can't be on any medication for mental stuff. Once again, I'm not really qualified to comment here, so I'll remain neutral.

I think the point of it all is this: China is improving as a nation on several fronts. Their economy is improving, and their view towards having baby girls is improving. (No facts here, just my opinion) It is to my understanding that they simply don't have as many children to adopt as they used to. Therefore, they are only becoming more strict because they can.

It's possible that we can view this as a positive thing. There are still plenty of other nations that people can adopt from.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

More Good News!!!

I haven't allocated a tremendous amount of my writtings to the subject of agency accredidation, so today's entry may not appear as exciting as it truly is.

Some of you may know that the accredidation process in Russia has been somewhat jacked up this past year. Specifically, Russia has not reaccredited a single adoption agency since April 12, 2006. This is big for two reasons. 1. The only way to adopt from Russia is through an accredited agency. 2. The current laws mandate that accredidations expire after one year, at which point the agencies can then reapply.

Therefore, it would seem reasonable that if the Russian government doesn't figure something out here pretty soon, that all agency's accredidation will run out on April 11, 2007. (Which isn't too far away)

Well, worry no more.

As of today (December 20th) the Russian government has spelled out the new requirements for reaccredidation and is officially accepting applications. What's more is that a recent law was passed that states that Russia must let an agency know whether or not they have been reaccredited within 3 months of the application date.

Here's the bottom line: We were (somewhat) nervous that upon the expiration of our agency's accredidation (April 12th), we would experience "down time" while we wait for the unknown. Yesterday's news from Russia gives us a ton of confidence that we may experience virtually NO DOWN TIME after April 12th.

Naturally, we will always be prepared to expect the unexpected.... Nevertheless, we were very excited to hear he news yesterday.

Side Note: If you want the details, the Russian Ministry of Education website spelled out that agencies whose accredidation runs out AFTER March 15th may not apply until January 10th. (This applies to us). This is not a big deal though, because with the "3 month rule" we'll still know by April 11 whether or not they've been reaccredited. Thus, we will still avoid any lag.

I suppose the worst case scenario is that our agency would get rejected...

That would suck. Let's not go there.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Dare to get involved

We're not all called to adopt, but I dare each of you to get involved!

The following is a cut and paste from www.voiceoftheorphan.org


Did you know...

143 million children worldwide have lost one or both parents. i
At least 16.2 million children worldwide have lost both parents. ii
16 million children were newly orphaned in 2003. iii
Armed conflicts orphaned or separated 1 million children from their families in the 1990s. iv
Two to five percent of all refugees worldwide are children living without their parents. v

The proportion of children who are orphans generally increases with age. vi
12% (17.5 million) are 0-5 years.
33% (47 million) are 6-11 years.
55% (79 million) are 12-17 years old. vii

Where the orphans are living
87.6 million orphans live in Asia. viii
43.4 million orphans live in Sub-Saharan Africa. ix
12.4 million orphans live in Latin America and the Caribbean. x
Almost 1.5 million children live in public care in Central and Eastern Europe. xi
More than 800,000 children pass through America’s foster care system each year.

Adoption and waiting children in the U.S.
Between 118,000 and 127,000 children have been adopted every year since 1987. xviii
More than 50 percent of all adoptions are handled by public agencies or come from countries outside the U.S. xix
More than one-third of Americans have seriously considered adopting, but no more than 2% have actually adopted. xxi
Only 4 percent of families with children (1.7 million households) contain adopted children. xvii
118,000 children were waiting to be adopted in September 2004.
Approximately 50,000 children are adopted from foster care per year.
On average, children waiting for adoption have been in foster care for 43.8 months, almost four years.

SOURCES: (So you don't think I'm making this up)
i Ibid, Children on the Brink 2004, p. 7.
ii Ibid, Children on the Brink 2004, p. 29.
iii Ibid, Children on the Brink 2004, p. 9.
iv UNICEF, Aug 2006. From website, “Child Protection from Violence, Exploitation and Abuse.” http://www.unicef.org/protection/index_orphans.html
v Ibid, UNICEF, Aug 2006. From website, “Child Protection from Violence, Exploitation and Abuse.”
vi Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, United Nations Children’s Fund and the United States Agency for International Development, Children on the Brink 2004: A joint report of new orphan estimates and a framework for action, Population, Health and Nutrition Information Project for USAID, Washington, D.C., July 2004, p. 12. http://www.unicef.org/publications/index_22212.html
vii Ibid, Children on the Brink 2004, p. 12.
viii Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, United Nations Children’s Fund and the United States Agency for International Development, Children on the Brink 2004: A joint report of new orphan estimates and a framework for action, Population, Health and Nutrition Information Project for USAID, Washington, D.C., July 2004, pp. 8-9. http://www.unicef.org/publications/index_22212.html
ix Ibid, Children on the Brink 2004, p. 3
x Ibid, Children on the Brink 2004, p. 9.
xi UNICEF, Aug 2006. From website, “Child Protection from Violence, Exploitation and Abuse.” http://www.unicef.org/protection/index_orphans.html
xii Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and reporting System (AFCARS) #11 data submitted for the FY 2004, 0/1/03 through 9/30/04. http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/stats_research/afcars/tar/report11.htm
xiii UNICEF, Press Release: As G8 leaders discuss global poverty, UNICEF puts spotlight on children in poor countries. http://www.unicef.org/media/media_21421.html
xiv Global Partners Forum convened by UNICEF with support from UNAIDS. The Framework for the Protection, Care and Support of Orphans and Vulnerable Children Living in a World with HIV and AIDS, July 2004, p 5. Global Strategic Framework: http://www.ovcsupport.net
xv Global Partners Forum convened by UNICEF with support from UNAIDS. The Framework for the Protection, Care and Support of Orphans and Vulnerable Children Living in a World with HIV and AIDS, July 2004, p 5. Global Strategic Framework: http://www.ovcsupport.net
xvi Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, United Nations Children’s Fund and the United States Agency for International Development, Children on the Brink 2004: A joint report of new orphan estimates and a framework for action, Population, Health and Nutrition Information Project for USAID, Washington, D.C., July 2004, p. 11. http://www.unicef.org/publications/index_22212.html
xvii Global Partners Forum convened by UNICEF with support from UNAIDS. The Framework for the Protection, Care and Support of Orphans and Vulnerable Children Living in a World with HIV and AIDS, July 2004, p 7. Global Strategic Framework: http://www.ovcsupport.net
xviii Fields, Jason, Living Arrangements of Children, at pg. 9, Current Population Reports, P70-74, U.S. Census Bureau (Apr. 2001). [Children encompasses the ages 18 and under. The total includes the approximately 500,000 children living with one biological parent and a stepparent who adopted them.] http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/FactOverview.html#1
xix National Adoption Information Clearinghouse, How Many Children Were Adopted in 2000 and 2001? August, 2004, p.1. http://www.ncsconline.org/WC/Publications/KIS_AdoptStatistics.pdf
xx Ibid, How Many Children Were Adopted in 2000 and 2001? p.1.
xxi Child Welfare Information Gateway, Persons Seeking to Adopt: Numbers and Trends, 2005. http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/s_seek.cfm
xxii U.S. Census Bureau, Facts for Features, National Adoption Month, Sept, 2004. http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/002683.html

Monday, December 18, 2006

Haiti vs Russia

We had some friends come home this weekend with their newly adopted baby boy! It was exciting to see everything work out so well for them. It's also very interesting to see how different an adoption experience can be depending on the country one chooses to adopt from. Our friends adopted from Haiti.

Here are some of the main differences:

Haiti: 6 hour flight
Russia: 20 hour flight

Haiti: 1 trip to Haiti
Russia: 2 trips

Haiti: Time in country is about 6 hours. You get the kid, sign some doc's, and go home.
Russia: Time is country is about 4 days the first trip and 2 weeks for the second trip. You get there the first time, meet your child, fall in love with your child, accept the referral of the child and then go home for a month. The second trip, you go back, spend time with the child, wait for a required 10 days while the government enjoys your contribution to their GDP, stand in front of a judge to officially sign and finalize the adoption and then you come home.

This all makes perfect sense, right?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Rock Star Kids!!!

This is something that I thought would be fun to post.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Why Russia?

Well, we've been telling more and more people about our adoption and it seems that the most common question asked is "Why Russia?".

Unfortunately, I'm not sure I have a good answer. The truth is that Katie and I have always talked about adopting from Russia. It may have stemmed from watching a 20/20 many years ago where they showed pictures and stories from Russian orphanages. Once you see the images, it's pretty difficult to get them out of your mind. I realize now that there are many countries that have high needs for adopting. (Africa.... and yes, I'm aware that Africa is not a country) But part of us feels that if we adopt from anywhere but Russia that we'll be abondoning the kids that we've always had on our heart.

So there you go. My answer is "because that's what we've always felt called to do". Sometimes what leads us to do things is nothing more than a feeling. I can't explain it in words. I can't prove it by numbers. It simply feels right to adopt from Russia.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Dossier

After our homestudy is done, we must submit a dossier to the Russian government. (As mentioned in yesterday's entry). A dossier is a fancy word for a "huge amount of paperwork".

I thought it might be fun to list what we're supposed to put together:
1. Homestudy Report
2. Copies of Passport
3. Marriage Certificate
4. Immigration Approval Letter
5. Health Report from Physician
6. Physician's Medical License
7. Psychologist Letter
8. Psychologist License
9. References
10. Police Clearance
11. Letter from Emploer
12. Letter from Bank Stating you have an account
13. Photographs (A minimum of 10) Ryan's Note: They want to make sure we're not ugly
14. Proof of Home ownership
15. Copies of Birth Certificates
16. Personal Financial Statement

Most of these need to be notarized too.... just to make it a little more fun. As soon as we get the homestudy report, we'll get on the rest of these.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Pure?

James 1:27 “Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles, and refuse to let the world corrupt us.”


It seems like I do so many things wrong. It's nice to have this passage to turn to and think, "Hey! I'm doing something that is really right!" Not that I'm trying to earn points or anything. Afterall, we're talking about my children here - Not some "feel good project". I don't know.... I just felt like including that passage in today's entry.

I've had a few people ask: Where are you at in the process?

Let me tell you:
1. We're waiting for the final draft of our homestudy. The meetings are done, but our caseworker needs to type up the report. She said it'll be done around Christmas or so.

2. We need to submit about 15 different forms for our agency. Once these are done and copied 4 times, we will package it all up with the homestudy report and send it to the agency. Then we wait. And wait. It will be translated in Russian and sent off to them. Did I mention that we wait a while after this?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Dream

I had my first dream about the kids last night. I knew that it was just a matter of time before I started having dreams about them. When Katie was pregnant with both Hallie and Jake, I remember having some pretty vivid dreams. Frankly, I find these kinda fun.

So in my dream last night, we only received Molly. They told us that because girls were so much easier to come by, we could go ahead and take her home now and then we'd still have to wait for Zac. (In reality, boys are easy to come by in Russia) I got to hold Molly and she looked right at me and smiled. Even though it was just a dream, I can't help but get alittle choked up even as I type right now. Katie and I are pretty sure that both of our kids are alive and out there right now. So it was nice to get a smile from my little angel last night.

The funny part of the dream is that Molly looked Columbian, not Russian. She had very dark hair, big brown eyes, and mocha skin. I can only assume this was because we just had some friends adopt a boy from Columbia last month and they sent us email pictures daily for about two weeks. He's an absolutely darling little boy.

It was good to meet her last night. I can't wait to meet Zac. Maybe next time...

Friday, December 8, 2006

Agencies

Some of you may know this:

In order to adopt from Russia, a person must work through an accredited agency. Becoming accredited has become somewhat of a big deal this past year. Right now, there are only 14 agencies that are officially accredited by the Russian government. What makes that even more of a big deal is that an agency's accreditation only lasts 1 year. With each passing day, more and more agency's accreditations are running out and Russia is not reaccrediting agencies. In fact, the last agency to become accredited was on April 12. Do the math, in 5 months, there won't be any agencies left to adopt from if Russia doesn't get there act together.

Here's the good news. The reason Russia has been dragging there feet is that they were passing a law that extends agencys' accreditation to 5 years. It only makes sense that they wanted to get this law fixed first before moving on to re-accrediting agencies. The law was changed about 2 months ago, so I believe that any day now we'll see more agencies get re-accredited. Of course, keep in mind that Russia is heading into their "holiday season". As near as I can tell, this "holiday" runs most of December and January. Their holidays are slightly different than ours. Apparently, the government all but shuts down entirely during this time. Must be rough....

(For the record, our agency is accredited through April 11). We're hoping everything gets straightened out before April, so that we won't miss a beat.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Names and Rooms

Have I discussed names yet? It's real simple: The boy is Zachary. The girl is Molly. The only real debate is the spelling. Zachary is straight forward, but the abbreviated version "Zac" is up in the air. Obviously, you can see that I just spelled is Z-A-C. Of course there is Zack and Zach as well. I suppose we could even include Zak, Zaq, or Zaque. I think Zac is the front runner right now. (Afterall, let's not forget the starting quarterback that led the Big Red to it's first Big 12 North title in 6 years: Zac Taylor)

Believe it or not, the spelling of Molly is in question too. We have Molly and Mollie. I think I'm actually a fan of Mollie. That way all the girls in the family have the "IE" ending. Katie, Hallie and Mollie. Cute, huh?

In addition to the spelling, we also have been trying to figure out the sleeping arangements. After much discussion, I believe that we are planning on sharing rooms. Of course, we'll have to see how Mollie and Zac handle everything, but right now the plan is for the girls to share one room and the boys to share the other. We believe this will be good for many reasons:

1. The guest room can stay a guest room. (Save money by not having to finish the basement)
2. Bonding between siblings.
3. Teaching the kids to share.
4. Building character by giving them less, not more.

This of course, is all just a theory. We'll see how it actually plays out.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Homestudy 2.0

Well, it's hard to believe but we're actually done with our homestudy already! The homestudy consisted of 3 two hour meetings with our caseworker. Today's was the "big meeting" because our caseworker (Katie) actually came out to our house. Katie (my wife) and I felt that the whole process was extremely positive and quite easy. Katie (the caseworker) basically asked us about our parenting philosophy as well as discipline strategies. After that, we toured her around and showed her where the kids would sleep (We have a tent set up outside.... just kidding!) And that was pretty much it. Our caseworker is fabulous. Super nice and easy to communicate with. Also, very responsible and punctual. In addition to the meetings, we had to get 3 personal references, 2 work references, a health screen and the fingerprints. I believe that it's all done. So now, we'll wait for Katie (the caseworker) to type up the official report. That should take 2 or 3 weeks. Then we get to proof-read it, make any corrections and send it off to... who knows. For the record, our caseworker already informed us that we "passed". No real surprise, but it's still nice to have that part done. It's only human for us to think "what if we get denied?" Not to worry anymore.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

State of the World's Children

Not much on the adoption front today, so I'll speak out for the children today.

You all should check out www.unicef.org/voy when you get a chance. This site goes into great detail about the problems our world has regarding how children are treated. Specifically, there is a "State of the World's Children Report" if you dig deep enough in the site. Some of the more startling facts:

1. More than 1 billion children suffer from a lack of proper nutrition, safe drinking water, decent sanitation facilities, health-care services, shelter, education and information.

2. In 2004, an estimated 10.5 million children died before they reached age five, most from preventable diseases. Vaccine-preventable diseases cause more than 2 million deaths every year.

3. There are an estimated 150 million children with disabilities in the world, most of whom face discrimination in one form or another.

4. At the end of 2003, there were an estimated 143 million orphans under the age of 18 living in 93 developing countries.

5. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that 246 million children between 5 and 17 are engaged in child labour. Of these, nearly 70 per cent are working in hazardous conditions – in mines, with chemicals and pesticides in agriculture or with dangerous machinery. Some 73 million of them are less than 10 years old.

6. Reliable global statistics are impossible to compile, but it is estimated that trafficking affects about 1.2 million children each year.

Ryan's Note: FYI - trafficking is defined as the moving of persons from one place to another illegally, for the profit of others. Child trafficking is lucrative and linked with criminal activity and corruption. It is often hidden and hard to address. Trafficking violates a child’s right to grow up in a family environment. In addition, children who have been trafficked face a range of dangers, including violence and sexual abuse. They are even arrested and detained as illegal aliens – often with little or no access to their parents or other support services.


These kids need a bigger voice than what I've got.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Fingerprints

Last month, Katie and I went to the Nebraska State Patrol office to get our fingerprints taken. Apparently, being a convicted felon is "frowned upon" when adopting. Well, as luck would have it, my fingerprints were rejected. Of course, Katie's were fine (she's perfect) but some of my prints were illegible so I have to go back and get them taken again. As I looked at the card, I noticed that the State patrol was even nice enough to circle the particular prints that were rejected. I couldn't help but immediately see the trend that it was only my left hand that came back rejected. I also noticed that when looking at the prints, only 2/3 of my fingerprint was on the page. "That's odd" I thought. But then I looked at my left hand and realized that I have a dime sized callous on each of my fingers on my left hand. "Why?" you ask. BECAUSE I'VE BEEN PLAYING GUITAR LIKE A MADMAN FOR THE PAST YEAR! I'm so proud! I'm officially a guitarist! Of course this means I have to go to Lincoln to the State offices to get my prints redone, but I don't care. It's totally worth it if I am now able to offically call myself a guitarist.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Vision for the voiceless

Today is probablly a good day to discuss "the vision" that Katie and I have. Originally, we were thinking that it may be a nice idea to take up some sort of "collection" from our friends, family, church, etc when we go to Russia to adopt our kids. Everybody has a few old blankets, toys, and clothes that an orphanage could certainly use, right? Well, apparently it doesn't work this way. I'm not sure why, but we've heard that Russian orphanages won't take things unless their new. Clothes without the tags still attached are simply not accepted. Again, don't ask me why in the world this is the case, but it is what it is.

So then we thought that maybe we'd just take up a money collection. Then we can either give money directly or buy something in Russia when we're there.

But then the real vision hit: What if we threw a big concert next summer with the sole intention of raising money for the voiceless!?! Perhaps we'd raise a few thousand dollars instead of just a few hundred dollars. Plus Katie and I loved the excuse to have a concert. Of course there are a thousand details we need to figure out, but we're stoked nevertheless.

Truth be told, this vision had a lot to do with me starting this blog. I thought it to be a good idea to give people something to read if they had an urge to donate something. Naturally, no one wants to give if they don't know or trust what they're giving to. Right now, it's just a vague vision. But it'll be fun to watch things unfold over the winter and spring...

Thursday, November 30, 2006

TB test

So apparently a person cannot adopt if they have TB: Turburculosous - I'm pretty sure that I don't have it considering that I can't even spell it! Nevertheless, I went in yesterday to get a TB test so that I can cross off one more thing from the mile long list. Now, you must understand that with Katie being a P.A., I don't pay attention much to the details of my health. Well, that may not be entirely true. A better way to state it is that I trust Katie's judgement 100% when it comes to my own health related issues. What I'm trying to say is that Katie told me to go to her office to get a TB test and I said "OK" and didn't get it a single thought afterword. So, yesterday I showed up at the office to get my test, and the nurse pulls out a needle (which I fully expected) BUT much to my surprise it was full of some chemical. THE NURSE WAS INJECTING SOMETHING INTO ME!!! This freaked me out. Usually, when I think of a test, I think of them taking MY blood and running whatever test they need to do. I don't think I've ever had a test where someone is depositing something into me. What's worse is that when she injected me, the chemical (toxic for all I know) bubbled up under my forearm. It actually looked like someone had shoved a pea under my skin. It was also quite bothersome to see my skin stretch similarly to when you squeeze a waterballon and it bulges out and looks super-thin. I have to admit the room started spinning. I'm sure that in the long run, the kids will be better off from me not having TB. Nevertheless, I would have been happy skipping that part yesterday.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Moving Forward

Well, we can check off another piece today. Katie and I met with Katie (see yesterday's post) for about 2 hours today and discussed our family. Parents, grandparents, kids, brothers, sisters, pets, neighbors, roommates, the list goes on....

I think for the most part we "passed". After reviewing every possible family dynamic in existence, I believe that Katie and I have a healthy family. (Isn't that nice to know)

Next week, we will meet with Katie for our third and final visit. (This seems to be going fast) This meeting will be at our house and will involve a discussion with our children. Naturally, Katie and I have two concerns: 1. A clean house. (This shouldn't be too much of a problem, but naturally it's always a concern). 2. An interview with our children. I'm pretty sure that Jake won't say anything coherant, but Hallie remains a wildcard. I just hope she doesn't say something like "Daddy hits me" or "Mommy locks me in the garage at night when I don't clean the toilets good enough".

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Round 2

Tomorrow we have our second meeting with the caseworker for our homestudy. If I didn't mention this, our caseworker's name is also Katie. Obviously, this can create a little confusion when I begin to tell stories. "Katie said this... Then Katie said that.... Then Katie asked Katie about such and such..."

Anyway, Katie (the caseworker) told us that tomorrow we'll spend more time talking about our childhood and our parents. That should be interesting. I get this vision of me laying on a couch, talking about how great life has always been and then suddenly I burst into tears and begin to open up about how my parents never bought me a drum set when I was growing up. Clearly, I'm forever scarred.

Monday, November 27, 2006

World News

I admit that I am not a big "news" guy. I rarely watch the news. Most the time, I skip the "World section" in the newspaper.... more fighting and killing in the middle east. However, I have found this recent story of the Russian spy rather intriguing. Beginning last June, when we committed to officially adopting from Russia, I'm always drawn into "Russian news". I've learned that oil is a major industry in their country. I've learned that their economy has drastically improved sinse their meltdown in 1998. And I've also learned that their is still a lot of political turmoil in terms of the "new guard" vs. the "old guard". Here in the U.S., we take for granted a working, effective government that (for the most part) follows a resonable standard of ethics. - Now before someone goes off here, let me clarify: Our government doesn't regularly kill people for talking out of turn. Our government doesn't flog people in the town square for being a witch. (anymore) Our government doesn't promote children into slavery.... you get my point.

Therefore, I find it interesting to hear that the Russian government supposedly had their hand in poisoning some guy that did some spying. Because of my ignorance, my excitement only exists on a shallow level. To me, this is nothing more than an exciting movie plot. A Tom Clancy book, if you will. Maybe John Grisham.

Nevertheless, this stuff is real. It blows me away that technically, this is the same government that we'll be working with to adopt our children. Come to think of it, writting this post is probablly a very bad idea. I'll have to make sure to keep a close eye on my coffee cup....

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Waiting for life to happen

This weekend has been Thanksgiving weekend. It's always easy to view life as a series of holidays. With the exception of August, we tend to move from one holiday to the next. "I can't wait till Thanksgiving. I can't wait till Christmas. I can't wait till New Years. I can't wait till Presidents Day. (OK, that last one may be a stretch). I heard once that life is what happens as we're waiting for something else to happen. For example, a person waits in line for an hour on the day after Thanksgiving to be one of the first 100 customers that receives a portable DVD player for $29.99. The shopping trip itself only takes 10 minutes but the entire experience lasts an hour and a half. (Drive time included) Most people view this as a waste. The reality is that the whole experience was indeed life itself! If we embrace our "down time" as life, we may discover that it's what we do during life's meaningless moments that define our character. Do we grumble as we stand in line? Do we yell when we're driving on our way to work? (A personal character flaw of my own) Do we glare at the people in the restaurant?

Here's my point to this rambling: Katie and I will wait quite a bit before we get Molly and Zac. (Yes, we've already picked the names) We could choose to think of this as "wasted time" waiting. Or we can embrace it as a life experience in and of itself and enjoy the lessons learned along the way.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Quick post

As the kids are running around the kitchen, I'm attempting to write a quick one today.


First, I wanted to let everyone know that you can now successfully add a comment without having to sign in. I added a feature that allows you to add a comment annonymously. I'd appreciate it if you sign it with your first name, just for fun. Truthfully, you all can do as you wish.


Second, I wanted to put a picture in today's entry just to see if I can do it.


Here I go:


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Homestudy

Now that I got the first post out of the way, I wanted to note that Katie and I met with the homestudy caseworker today. This was our first of three meetings. Our caseworker (if that's what you call them) was extremely nice. It was actually a ton easier that what I thought it would be. Basically, we just chit-chatted for 2 hours. Katie and I both felt very positive when we left. Katie said, "That was fun! We just got to talk about ourselves the whole time. Who wouldn't enjoy that?"

I'm also psyched because I feel like I can legitamately tell people that we're "in the middle" of adopting children now. Before, I'd tell people "We're adopting!" And they would say "Wow! What all have you done?" And I'd say, "... nothing.... yet."

Now, I won't have to deliver that lame response.

First Post

Well,

This is my first blog (I wonder how many blogs start with that sentence). I remember hearing about blogs for the first time a few years ago and thinking to myself, "What's the point? Why would anyone want to start a blog? Why would anyone want to READ a blog?"

Most importantly, I'm usually against anything in writting. It seems to only get us into trouble. Nevertheless, here I am.... typing a blog..... at work.

Here's the point of this whole thing. Katie and I are adopting 2 children from Russia. For those that want to, we want a place where people can check in on our journey. I suppose additionally, we would like to provide hope, support and education for those who also choose the adventure of adoption. Last, we want to be a voice to the voiceless. I have learned that there are 143 million orphans worldwide. 143,000,000 !!!!! Omaha is 600,000. Nebraska is about 1.7 million. Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri are 10.2 million. But worldwide there are 143 million orphans.

When I heard this number, I had to stop and think about that. First of all, when it comes to population numbers, I'm always amazed at how different the world really is from what I think it is. Most people live in Asia. Most poor people live in Africa. These are 2 continents that I have yet to step foot into. For the most part, I'm clueless. It's not that we Americans are being greedy as we clutch onto our money. It's just that we don't really realize that there is a such a huge problem out there.

And one of the major reasons for this state of unawareness, is that these people (and especially the children) have no voice. They don't have money to buy an advertisement slot. They don't have an educated plan to organize their thoughts and efforts. They don't have "friends in high places" to help them with their cause. They are voiceless.

And thus, I am calling myself the Voice of the Voiceless. (Although, I understand that this phrase has been used a few times. It's a song by Rage Against the Machine... whatever. It's a website about Animal Rights... whatever.)

I may not be a loud voice. I may not be a smart voice. I may not be a smooth voice. But I'm a voice. A voice of the voiceless.