Wednesday, June 29, 2011

... yeah, but they're not REALLY brother and sister, right?

i can't begin to tell you the number of times that i've gotten that comment ... the naivete of some thinking that just because they don't share blood, they aren't related (the same argument can of course be said of us as parents .... but that is another discussion for another day).

when i get these comments i generally just politely smile and move on.  now in earnest, what i would really like to say goes something like this ....

WHAT?  you've got to be kidding! 

 these kids fight like siblings fight!
they dob each other in as if they were related
they play one another off against each other
they certainly get jealous of each other
they cuddle, snuggle and are protective of each other

don't tell me these kid's aren't brother and sister.

was i concerned when we brought the boys home that they would be drawn to each other and close Lea out because of their biological relationship?  that they would turn to each other for comfort and reassurance?  of course!  it was a possibility we had to acknowledge.  but part of acknowledging it is being prepared to set things up to minimise those opportunities.  teaching each of our children that they are individual within our family .... that each of then has a unique place and role to fill in our family structure.  

so today we have

an eldest son who idolises his big sister
a big sister who is protective of a little brother
a little brother who adores (and hates) his big sister
a son who is starting to draw like crazy because his sister does
a little boy who wants to do what his big brother does (and doesn't 
understand why he can't!)
a big sister who gets sick and tired of her little brothers because ...
well .... they are boys!  i don't like boys!
and three children who will cuddle on the couch together,
share toys and pray for each other.

yeah .... they're REAL brothers and sisters alright .... 
REAL in the only way that truly matters!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Filipino Fridays 2011.7

today i'm just sharing some random shots of my family on our previous trip to the Philippines in 2009 when we picked up the boys.  thot it would be nice to focus on the beauty of the place .... both the people and the landscape.  if the pictures are not ours, then they are copyright I.T.  thank you!

our family on a weeks holidays at the beach at Batangas after
we picked up the boys.  gorgeous sunset!
Punto Miguel ..... our filipino style beach resort.  can't recommend
it highly enough!

our cabana .... we slept and ate here.  meals made on the patio
what a blast!

i know the boys look wasted!  but boy!  they were doing
amazing considering they'd only been with us
for a few days!  what troopers!

amazing woman, amazing tribute.  we were there just after her
funeral.  wow.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Book Review: unPLANNED

you may be wondering what in the world a book review about the pro-life vs. pro-choice movement is doing on an adoption blog.  for those of us in the adoption world, it goes hand-in-hand that abortion is a big issue to us.  whether is is something we have had to grapple with in the lives of the children we adopt or the birth mothers who valiantly carried them to term, inspite of what society might say is the easy out.  for those of us who adopt, many because we cannot have biological children ourselves (including me!), to see human life destroyed because of societal pressure or because it is the easy way out (generalisation, i know!) .... it breaks our hearts.  when we are desperate to have children and these lives are tossed aside.

that is why i am happy to do this book review here.


unPLANNED, by Abby Johnson.

an unbelievably candid read about a woman's struggle to come to terms with her role as a director of a Planned Parenthood Clinic in the US, and her decision to leave because of heart changing convictions.

graphic content.  it would be easy to assume that this was included for shock affect.  i see this more as an accurate portrayal of a woman's realisation that what is easily termed as a fetus to make abortion palatable, is actually a life being taken.  she is asked to assist under unusual circumstances in an ultra-sound abortion of a 13 week pregnancy and watches as the baby struggles against the cannula for it's life and dies.  yeah ... graphic. but it is the struggle this woman had to go through and she is sharing it in honesty.

i found, in spite of the graphic opening, that her portrayal of both sides of the struggle on what is a very difficult issue to be compassionate.  she paints a very authentic picture of the emotion and struggle between both sides of the issue .... because it is so personal.  she isn't afraid to delve into the good and bad on both sides of the equation ....because her ultimate goal is to show that it is only through care and compassion that human life will be respected.

for the pro-choicer.  you would find the way that most employees in abortion clinics treat clients to be well received and appreciated as they assist these women in making difficult decisions, and that the bigger picture of preventing unwanted pregnancies, rather than abortion is held up as a banner and standard.  you will appreciate the way she portrays the antagonistic approach that some pro-lifers have and the utter lunacy of shooting clinic workers and doctors who perform abortions.

for the pro-lifer.  you will rally with her coming to terms with the idea that no matter the circumstances, abortion is murder.  and you will appreciate the support and nurture she encountered from the pro-life movement in her decision to "change sides."  and hopefully, you will appreciate that there is more to a pro-life stance than simply saying no to abortion .... it has to be about prevention and also care for the mothers involved.

i would not expect that this book would change the minds of anyone who read it.  but, what i do see is a story  about how we can treat each other with respect ... in spite of our differences.  that we can understand that for a pro-choicer, the "opposition" isn't trying to deny a woman control of her body ... but is trying to inform her about what is at the root of what she is doing.  and that for a pro-life, the most important thing for most who work in this field is the reduction in the number of abortions ... not making them the easy out.

she makes the comment several times in the book about how, as a director of an abortion clinic, she actually held with many of the stances of the pro-life movement .... at the centre of which was to reduce the number of abortions by offering other means of birth control.  her point being, to show that in many ways both were looking at the same goals .... but just had different foundations to get there.

at the heart of this book is compassion and grace.  for the workers on both side of the fence and for the women who are making decisions they never hoped to make.  and, whether these women make decisions that we agree with or not ... they need and must be shown grace and compassion.  we can do no less.

on a more personal note ... i applaud the writers bravery and willingness to share her very difficult struggle to come to terms with her life.  she admits she was naive and ignorant in many ways.  any time a person has that sort of guts, they have my admiration.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Filipino Fridays 2011.6

on the 12th of June, the Philippines celebrated it's Independence Day.  but did you know that this weekend, on the 19th of June the will be celebrating Jose Rizal's 150th birthday?

if i were in the Philippines, I would find 10 Things To Do To Celebrate Jose Rizal's Big Day

but, in lieu of that, we'll probably talk about him at dinner with the kids tonight .... what will you do?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

a slice in time

"better get moving!  time for breakfast!  if you don't hurry you'll miss the bus!"

"go away mum ..... (whinge, whinge, whinge) .... i don't want you to watch me put on my shoes!"

"why is that?"

"i just don't want you to!  go away!  leave me alone!"

(hmmmm, i say to myself .... something else going on here)  "well, you have to have a reason sweetie.  do you want me to help you with your shoes?"

"NO!!!!!!!!!!!!  GO AWAY!!!!!"  .... meltdown and heaps of tears.

"what's wrong sweetheart?"

sob, sob,  tears and heaps of sobs .....  "i miss M______ (birth mum)"

i sit down on the bed .... straight onto my lap, head buried in my shoulder and heaps more tears.

"she was such a wonderful mummy to you, wasn't she?"

"uhhu ...."  sob, sob.

"i wish she could see what a wonderful person you are growing into.  you are so smart and so kind.  she would be really proud of you i think.  you know, mummy and daddy are always happy to talk about her .... because we know how special she is to you."

sniffle, sniffle  "yeah ....."

dear Lord .... give me the grace to walk this path with them ... to show them Your love .... which is what will get them through.

a few silent snuffles.  "mum.... can you help me tie my shoes?"

"of course i can poppet.  let's get you ready for school."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

fearfully and wonderfully made?

as is fairly normal for me .... i just share what is going on in my heart.  i don't have all the answers, but hope that along the journey all of us find support and encouragement in the path we walk as adoptive parents.  

it is with that in mind that i offer this topic for discussion.  not having an answer .... but just wrestling with the issue at hand.  this is one of those posts that sits very uncomfortably.  i admit .... it does with me!

i believe in the Bible.  i believe that it speaks to us in a way that nothing else can about the truths of life.  but when it comes to adoptive parenting .... how do i deal with the following passage?

Psalm 139:13-18

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place,
   when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
   before one of them came to be.
 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—
   when I awake, I am still with you.

for me, as a christian i find great comfort and reassurance in these verses.  for both myself and my kids.  to be able to rest in the fact that God knows us that well .... that He formed us, down to every hair on our heads.  wow.  i even have this passage as part of a quilt i have done for my daughter.  

and yet, i know in my heart that this passage also is a HUGE challenge.  how can i accept that my child's life, being ripped from their birth family (in whatever context that took, they were ripped from their birth family), being shipped off to a foreign country is what God ordained?  does that really make sense?  

... surely staying in their birth families would have been best for them
... surely living a life where they are "different" to their parents will only instill a sense of isolation
... surely not being in the culture that they were born to isn't right for them

i struggle with this.  where is the balance?  and sometimes ... .the guilt i feel over being so glad that their birth parents relinquished them .... because now we are a family.  is my gain ok in light of their loss?  i acknowledge that it would be the ideal for them to have stayed in their birth families .... but then they would never have been in our lives .... and it makes my heart choke to think of these children not being in my life.  how could they not be ours?

why did God do this?  why did He allow this to be their path in life?  why should a little life have to deal with so much of this pain and loss?  and what about when they are teenagers?  when they question so much of life anyway .... this will just add so much for them to have to process.  it really tugs at a mothers heart.  what if they reject everything?  turn their back on all that we have tried to do for them? 

but i need to take a step back and remember that someone who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, has lost a child ... feels the same pain .... trying to acknowledge that God is the Author and Finisher of our Faith .... unable to comprehend the logic in it all.  but .... BUT recognizing that His ways are higher than ours and that we are a thread in the tapestry of life that He has woven .... he colours us the way He chooses ... to best fit the BIG picture -- i can find comfort and peace in that. 

in the meantime, i must do what i can to acknowledge my children's birth right.  their heritage ... their innate right and calling to be "pinoy".  to ensure that their lives are as full as possible of the things that they can look at and say, "hey ... guess what?  that's me and that's cool! it's how God made me!"  knowing that at times they will doubt .... and question and shake a fist at God.  but if i paint a foundation now that nurtures a trust in His way ... i can rest a bit easier.

i am gonna have a lot of questions of God when it comes time to hit eternity.  and you know what?  God can handle them.  THIS is truth!
our kids .... yep .... fearfully and wonderfully made!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Filipino Fridays 2011.5

lechon!  hand roasted and
very yummy!
it's friday again .... did you think i'd forgotten?  not me!  <g>

today i thot it might be fun to look at the food of the Philippines.  mmmm .... Masarap!

filipino food has this intoxicating, sensory overload affect on me.  i put my nose into the steam of a good pancit and i am instantly transported to the streets, smells and sounds of the Philippines.  on a recent trip to the Philippines my gracious host commented that i seemed to be the only one willing to try all the different dishes .... and i smiled ... "how could i not?" was all i could say.

I asked what the secret of yummy filipino food was ... and found out a few things.

  • if you put garlic, ginger and onion in it ... well, you're close enough to call it a filipino dish!
  • noodles -- rice or egg -- are a great accompaniment to any dish!
  • you can make anything adobo.  chicken, beef, pork, and yes .... even pig guts can be done "adobo" style
  • yes, rice can and should be had at every meal
  • filipino's have a great way of balancing salty, sweet and sour (sinigang is a great example of this)
  • pig guts, adobo style ... i tried it
    and it was yummy!
  • oh .... and never underestimate the sweet tooth of a filipino!  ay-yay-yai!  

i thought about sharing some of my favorite filipino recipes ... but thought, you know .... anyone can look in a cook book and give it a go.  i have always loved filipino food.  i love going to the asian grocer and just wandering the aisles to see what they have today. will there be longganisa?  and what about the bangus?  dried milkfish?  there area always new things to try.  and i ALWAYS get the staples for my kids ... the flavoured jelly or custard cups .... mango, coconut.... they love them.  i know it is a taste of home for them and i am delighted to be able to encourage it!

there are heaps of web sites that you can get recipes off of.  a few of my regular haunts are:

yes, that's me, eating a pig's ear.
the only reason my eyes
are closed is because
it was really chewy ...
and masarap!
i really encourage you to take the time to give it a go.  do you know some filipino's who live near you?  guaranteed, they would love to share with you some of their great recipes.  it's the filipino way .... and they are so gracious and honoured that we want to learn about their food!

i have to conclude with something a little funny and tongue-in-cheek.  Mikey Bustos is a very creative filipino canadian singer/comedian who has heaps of video's on YouTube about filipino culture .... and in true filipino style, they can laugh at themselves!  enjoy his take on filipino dining!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

That Love Tank!

i wonder how they do it sometimes.


our kids .... with everything they have been through in their lives.  to turn around and look at me and call me mum, and love us.  honestly .... never underestimate the size of the love tank that our kids have.

i know that Proverbs 31 says that "her children shall rise up and call her blessed."  but truly ... what did i do to deserve this!?!?!

my journey to this to this place of overwhelming love for my kids is pretty straightforward.  emotional yes -- never underestimate that!  but it was grief over not being able to have children, then paperwork to adopt and the process of bringing them into our lives.  and then 6 years and two processes later we have three kids in our lives.  woohoo!

but when i stop to think of what our precious little children went through .... and still go through -- and yet they turn around and their hearts are overflowing with love.  it almost makes me weep ... i am in awe.

the loss they have experienced, the grief (disguised at times as anger!).  why in the world would they ever trust us?  isn't it the adults in their lives that have betrayed them?  isn't it the adults who have abandoned them?  and not just their birth families either .... they lived good lives in their orphanage ... and were yanked out of that.  given to these white faced strangers who claimed love .... took them away from everything they new and was familiar to them .

why would a small child ever be able to trust in that?  more to the point .... why should they?

and yet today they do.  when i discipline them i sometimes cringe and wonder if they think i don't love them.  walking that fine balance between teaching them the right way to behave and not destroying the trust that you have built .... it's hard one at times.  i am human, i do the wrong things too!  and yet .... after the "mum, i'm sorry for disobeying you" comes the lap hug, the cuddle and the whisper in my ear of "mummy .... i love you!".

the depth of our kids love tanks defies all norms.  by right they should never trust, never bond ... and yet they do.  they have this inbuilt capacity to love and craving to be loved.  their love tank ... each day it grows deeper and wider ... and blesses my soul.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Filipino Fridays 2011.4

Pop Quiz!  <g>

  1. how many islands are there in the Phillippines?  
  2. ah .... and how many are inhabited?
  3. and while we all know that Luzon makes up the largest island group .... which island group comes next?
  4. the Philippines is bordered by what Sea on the West?
  5. in what year did the Philippines become a self governing Commonwealth?
  6. who was the first President?
  7. how long did Ferdinand Marcos rule as President?
  8. what is done to the Filipino flag to show a state of war?
  9. what does the sun represent on the Filipino flag?
  10. what is the name of the Presidential Palace?
how well did you do?  <g>  don't worry!  i had to look all the answers up!  that was half the fun of doing it!

  1. 7,107
  2. 2,000 (roughly)
  3. Mindanao
  4. The South China Sea
  5. 1945
  6. Manuel Quezon
  7. 21 years, 1965 - 1986
  8. the red band is placed on the top when flown
  9. Unity, freedom and people's democracy
  10. Malacanang Palace