Now we’re a family of five.
We announced earlier this spring that we were pursing the adoption of an older child. We never imagined that a few short months later we’d be welcoming an 11-year-old girl into our family. But that’s what happened.
We’ve been pretty tight-lipped about this adoption, both because of the speed of the process (we got the call on June 8) and the nature of the situation. But it’s happening. So the beans get spilled.
Last week Abby and our good friend Nicole traveled to Anchorage, Alaska to meet Yeshumnesh (pronounced Ye-shem-nesh). They return today (hopefully). She’s a bright, out-going and active Ethiopian girl who will turn 11 in August. She originally came to the United States in December of 2009, but that original adoption is being disrupted (that’s adoption lingo for what happens when a child is placed with a family and it doesn’t work out). The reasons behind that disruption will remain private, but in general this family was not the right fit for Yeshumnesh.
Yeshumesh will go to school a few blocks from our house. She’s very athletic and enjoys soccer, biking, cross-country skiing and ice skating (hockey!). She likes to color and enjoys listening to stories. She loves movies, including High School Musical and Hannah Montana. She’s pretty good with her English though is still catching up. She’ll have her own bedroom across from Lexi & Milo’s that we hope we can decorate together.
This has been a pretty insane week. And I’m not in Alaska. I stayed home with the kids and tried to maintain some normalcy. This is the longest Milo has ever been away from Abby and I realized it’s also the longest I’ve been away from my wife in, well, I don’t remember how long. Definitely since we had kids, probably longer. Maybe since we got married.
And I’m sure it’s been crazier in Alaska. Welcoming an older child into your family isn’t like adopting an infant. It’s a whole new ball of wax. We’ve had a rollercoaster of a summer preparing for this and it’s finally coming together. It’s not going to be easy. Yeshumnesh needs to get used to our family—and an entirely new life—and we need to get used to her. Lexi and Milo will have their own transitions, so it could be bumpy all the way around as we get used to one another.
We’ll be leaning on a lot of folks for support, from social workers and therapists to friends and family. I’ve been leaning on them pretty hard this week and it’s just me and the little ones. I don’t know where we’d be without help—definitely not here, that’s for sure. You can’t do this kind of thing without help.
Our friends and family have been incredibly supportive of Milo’s adoption and we’re hoping to find the same love and support this time around. Any efforts to shore up our sanity are always appreciated. If you’re the praying type, we could use lots of prayer for the remaining legal issues, travel, transitions, family bonding, logistics and financial considerations.
I never imagined I’d be the father of three and rocking a mohawk at 31.
I’m now rocking a mohawk and a soulpatch for charity: water. Christopher Turner had the winning ( and only) donation in my ill-advised Haircut for Charity campaign. Some folks commented that sacrificing my hair for charity is kind of played out. Probably. But it’s still fun. And we gave people some clean water.
So $100 for charity: water, clean water for more people and a new ‘do for me. Everybody wins.
My wife hates it. I kinda like it.
You can donate here to support my charity: water campaign and help build a well in Ethiopia. So far we’ve raised $1,914. You can help us get to $5,000. Thanks!
Oh, and this is the first time in at least three years that I’ve had a real haircut.
So here’s the situation:
- I need a haircut.
- My wife is going out of town.
- I need to raise $3,186 more to build a well in Ethiopia.
So here’s the plan:
- Pick a hairstyle. (Feel free to use this handy PDF or JPG to draw your own.)
- Make a donation to my charity: water campaign.
- Biggest donation wins. I’ll rock your selected hairstyle until my wife returns.
It’s pretty simple. A haircut for clean water, and you get to pick the style (or lack thereof). Have fun, be stupid and give generously. Remember you can always support the well simply by buying a copy of my book. I’m only doing this because my wife will be out of town and I can get away with it. Plus I need a haircut and I’d rather see some good come out of that, like clean water. All in good, clean fun.
- Make a donation to my charity: water campaign by 1 p.m. CT on Friday, July 23.
- Note in the comments of the donation what hairstyle you’d like me to rock.
- Send me your proposed hairstyle and I’ll post them here (post the image somewhere and send me a link or e-mail the image to me).
- Facial hair is in play. Eyebrows are not. No razor blades (i.e., I’ll cut it clippers short, but I’m not shaving it with a razor short—wife vetoed that).
- Donations must be made between Monday, July 19 and Friday, July 23 at 1 p.m. Central Time.
- I’ll get the haircut on Friday afternoon/evening and it will last until Monday, July 26.
- It has to be a haircut a barber shop can actually do simply by cutting my hair (no extensions, no dye jobs, nothing the fine people at Great Clips can’t manage).
- I promise to conduct business as usual with the winning haircut (i.e., no hiding out at home). I’m thinking about hitting up the Middle Eastern Festival (camel rides!) on Friday, the Red Bull Flugtag on Saturday and I will attend church on Sunday (I’d pitch sporting the winning ‘do at work, but the whole work-at-home thing makes that kind of boring).
- Nothing inappropriate can be shaved into my head.
- I reserve the right to donate myself and trump lame-o entries (i.e., if the winning donation turns out to be a paltry $20 for a mullet, I’ll donate $25 myself and pick something better). In a nutshell, if I’m going to look like an idiot in public for three days, it has to be worth it. So if you want me to look like an idiot, better donate more than I likely would.
Let’s build that well in Ethiopia! Thanks.
I’ve been writing a “statement of need” for an adoption grant application and been trying to explain how poor we are. Not poor enough that we can’t handle the adoption of course, but poor enough that we need help. Which raises the question of what’s “poor enough”? After all, who doesn’t need help, especially these days?
It’s been an interesting exercise. At any rate, I found myself trying to describe our family as financially responsible and frugal and trying to give realistic examples to back it up. I kept wondering what other people do to be cheap. After all, one person’s frugal is another person’s extravagance. One person’s necessity is another person’s luxury.
I want to share a few areas where I think my family is being cheap—not to brag, but to share some thrifty ideas. I hope you’ll share your thrifty ideas in the comments. It’s kind of a touchy subject because everyone has different values (cable TV may seem like an extravagance, but if it’s your only entertainment expense and you never go to the movies or buy DVDs that might be pretty economical), but I hope maybe we can learn something from how others have done it. Saving money is always good, but especially in this economy.
This summer was supposed to be relaxing. Abby would be home from school and we’d have some free time. We had a lot packed into the summer, but it was summer and it was going to be nice and slow.
Instead the past month has been pretty head-spinning. Our slow, leisurely adoption plan that likely wouldn’t have seen a child join our family until next summer went into overdrive with a single phone call we received about 30 days ago. Since then that relaxing summer plan has gone completely out the window. The best-laid plans, huh?
Let’s recap the last 30 days:
- We skipped an all-church camp weekend in Northern Wisconsin due to sickness (failed plans is going to be a recurring theme).
- Lexi started weekly swim lessons.
- I pitched my book to the Social Media Breakfast crowd and raised some extra money for charity: water (proving once again how much I hate and am terrible at public speaking).
- We celebrated a birthday and Father’s Day.
- Abby had an entire week of day-long conferences.
- We had a major article appear in the local paper hyping my book (still getting comments about that one—so cool).
- I spent the night and a separate evening at church.
- I skipped out on the week-long youth group missions trip to Chicago I was supposed to chaperone because things were too crazy.
- A brand new niece came into the world (and I’ve lost count of how many people are pregnant right now).
- We moved Milo from his crib into a real bed.
- We switched Lexi and Milo into a new bedroom.
- We installed a new cabinet in the bathroom and somehow acquired three large pieces of furniture.
- Both sets of grandparents visited on the same weekend.
- We averaged 4-5 meetings, playdates or non-standard commitments every week. In a normal week we maybe average one.
- We’ve had a total of 12 meetings or scheduled conference calls regarding the adoption. When I added them all up I was actually surprised it wasn’t more.
- Tomorrow we attend the massive Summer Mehaber, a picnic for Ethiopian families, and my book will have its own booth (thankfully I hired a couple guys to run the booth for me).
- The only reason I have time to write this post is because Lexi is sick and we’re staying home from today’s massive zoo trip with Ethiopian families in town for the picnic.
Native American pastor Jeff Yellow Owl shares a helpful perspective for the Fourth of July. He recalls attending a church service on July 4 and the pastor spoke about “the great sacrifice of the forefathers who established this country.”
“I was so angry,” Jeff admits. “I felt like a cold knife was plunged through my heart. All I could think of was, what about my forefathers and the blood of my people that has been spilled on this land?”
That’s a sentiment I’ve often felt as church worship strays from Creator to country. The freedom we have in America is worth celebrating, but it becomes dangerous when we whitewash our history in a red, white and blue frenzy. It becomes too easy to swell with pride and forget our failures. That kind of blind celebration becomes a slap in the face to those who endured injustice. As we celebrate our freedom we should remember our failures and steal ourselves to correct current and future failures.
The Fourth of July isn’t just an excuse to blow stuff up. It’s a chance to celebrate and move forward, towards a more perfect Union.
Jeff Yellow Owl eventually found the strength to do just that:
But forgiving the past was “a process and didn’t happen all at once,” he says. “That kind of forgiveness has to be supernatural.” …
He prayed: “I want to be healed from my anger. I don’t want this feeling in my heart anymore.”