Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Hippie astronaut food

Hello all,
I'd like to take a moment to thank all of you for supporting both Emily and myself in our whole adoption process. Your prayers and words of encouragement have lifted us up and carried us through some pretty tumultuous times these last 10 months. It is truly humbling to think of the love we have received along this journey, and so it is with a heartfelt thanks that I announce that I have nothing new whatsoever to share with you at this time.

I would however like to point out a grievous injustice done recently that I believe deserves to be brought kicking and screaming out into the light. I am of course referring to my wife's comments about my eating habits.

I am hurt and offended that she insinuates that I will consume just about anything around. I present for your review a rather extensive list of items that I would not in this lifetime ever consider eating**

-Bark mulch
-Bicycle tires
-Car tires (radial)
-Car batteries
-Any batteries (non lithium ion)
-Fruit cake
-Glass (safety excluded)
-Lima beans
-Lima, Peru
-Large stones
-Elephant tusks
-Stuffed animals
and last but not least, raw pork (though medium rare might be a treat)

Granted, there are many foods that I enjoy that for some reason my wife finds morally repugnant (steak fat for one), and I can to some degree understand her avoidance of certain, how shall we say, exotic tastes of mine.

However, there is one food; one, dare I say, nearly perfect food that I will not allow to be slandered (or is it libeled?) in such a vicious manner.


It really is quite tasty. Once you get past the gooey jelly-like substance on top you find yourself in semi pork-laden heaven. Come on, think about it. What invention could ever top meat in a can? Not only can you eat it, but because of its ingenious shaped can, you could actually build with spam. Think of it: if the Romans had built the Coliseum out of sturdy, durable cans of spam instead of mere stone, maybe it wouldn't have been so structurally unsound. I mean, how long did the thing last before collapsing; a couple of hundred years? Heck, spam has a shelf life longer than that.

And since I'm acting the part of misrepresented, oft-maligned food product defender, lets talk about another wonderful gastrological treat: SlimJims. Those little pieces of "beef jerky" put me into a nearly euphoric state of digestive bliss whenever I eat one or six of them. Granted, they're not actually beef but rather mechanically separated chicken, but let's look at the big picture. Some folks may balk at the term "mechanically separated," but let's consider what this actually means. Simply stated, it means that the chicken meat has been removed from the bone by means of something other than human effort.

It's what the industrial revolution was all about. I'm sure that back then, one of the forerunners of the revolution had it in his head that there must be a better way to enjoy chicken than having to rip the meat from the bone with such primitive tools as one's hands. Remember the most important part of "mechanically separated chicken": CHICKEN! It's not some made up food or artificial concoction from a lab (though I do love a good twinkie or three every now and again). It's chicken; ergo it's good for you.

Don't be fooled by my wife's criticism of my tastes in foods: there're one or two things on her menu of preferred food items that I can't abide, nor should you. OK, only one item that I wouldn't touch with another person's ten foot pole: tofu.

What's tofu, you may ask? Well, I'll tell you in one word what it is: Nasty. If you want a more specific and less jaded definition of what tofu is, then it could also be called soy. Now all the "natural" food lovers out there will tell you that soy is very good for you: high in protein, low in fat, yadda, yadda, but I'll let you in on something that those people won't tell you. You know what soy really is? Bean curd. Curd. What the heck is curd? I don't know either but I can tell you what rhymes with curd.... now you know what I'm talking about. Who in their right mind would eat a "food" that rhymes with something you'd flush down the toilet? I don't know that either.

When you were a kid, did you ever get duped into trying those foil wrapped packages of "astronaut ice cream"? Remember the taste? Something between Styrofoam and cardboard, but with nice vanilla, chocolate and strawberry colors all over it. Evidently in the space travelling world, flavor isn't something you taste, it's something you decorate for color. Tofu is a lot like that, except rubbery. And without the colors. And without the foil wrap, because that's bad for the environment. I guess the immediate expulsion from my body of said hippie astronaut food (I won't go into details how my body expels it) must be good for the soil or something.

Man, you wouldn't believe the lengths my wife went to to get me to eat that stuff. She'd put it into everything: stir fry, casseroles...you name it, she's tried it. What does tofu taste like, you ask. Nothing. Not a single thing. It comes in these disgusting gelatinous cubes (it doesn't even have a natural shape) which can be found in "health" food stores, soaking in water in 5-gallon buckets in the fridge, next to the fake ice cream and fake cheese.

There are all kinds of tofu-laden foods out there, but it seems that this soy product has a bit of an identity crisis, because it tries to pass itself off as any other type of food but what it is: gross. There are tofu burgers, tofu chicken nuggets, tofu stir frys, tofu buffalo tenders, tofu ice cream, tofu cheese, and, yes, tofurkey: tofu trying to pass itself off as turkey.

Though the foods I eat may not be for everyone, they are at least honest about what they are, disgusting as that may be to some. They don't try to fit in with all the other cool foods by trying to be like all the rest. C'mon, soy, just be who you are. Look at the bright side, if you didn't try to hide your nature all the time, you'd live a long (however long beans live) life free from the worries of coming to an early demise by consumption.

** Oh BTW, the asterisks used above were to indicate that if money were wagered, there isn't much I wouldn't eat. I once chewed the gum left over from under the tables at MacDonald's just for lunch money. As a little bonus, I'd also inform everyone which kind of gum it was.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Christmas at the orphanage

Remember how stoked we were to get those few pictures from Bonnie this past weekend?

Well, the floodgates have opened!

Today we received even more pictures from Ann at Red Thread China (we LOVE her!). She is the one who helped us put together our Christmas package - the spiderman backpack, some books, a panda bear, a new winter jacket etc. She also called the orphanage to make sure she got the right size, and then later called to make sure the cake was delivered. That would be the Christmas cake you now see in this picture!

Ann received some pictures from Nanyang orphanage and knew right away these were from the Christmas party. She forwarded them to us so that we - and in turn you - could enjoy.

Yong is the VIP in the green shirt. I'm guessing he was the star of the show since it was his Mama and Baba that financed the par-tay. We are already so becoming the cool 'rents.

"Deadly Poor"

In December, Chinese Television aired a program, courtesy of Henan Charity Federation, called “Orphans in China” that focused extensively on the poverty of Nanyang City and the plight of the orphans there.

Contrary to popular belief, poverty and medical care issues are major contributing factors for abandonment, not the family-planning measures or the social structures in place (parents who are trying to care for elderly relatives cannot afford to rear their children). And 56% of those abandoned are boys (not girls).

Nanyang is a poor orphanage. Originally I thought it was better off, based on the fact that it in is a city (cities have better economy than outlying rural regions). Also, it’s in Henan province, which is considered the “cradle of Chinese civilization” because it’s the breadbasket of the country. However, I’ve since learned that per hectare, more money is made with other crops, so Henan is actually not doing very well at all. And there is a lot of corruption; money intended for charity is often pocketed by officials.

The Morning Sun Center of Hope is an organization that works to bring relief to Henan. One of the programs they’ve been able to initiate is a nutrition program for babies in orphanages in Nanyang (where our little boy is). They also work to improve the medical care of the children there.

At the end of the video you will see images of Nanyang City Social Welfare Institute, where our little boy is. You will recognize the room from the pictures we just posted of Dang Yong. While watching it, Jason and I had to repeatedly press “pause” while it loaded. But if you’re patient (or have a better system!) it is well worth it.

If you want to hear about poverty as it relates to the abandoned children of China, you will hear it straight from the children themselves. The video speaks for itself:


Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Father who understands a mother's heart

If you’ve read the previous blog, you know that this weekend we had one great, big happy thing. But part and parcel with that came the one wee little sad thing. There’s no question we wouldn’t have gotten the one great, big happy thing if we hadn’t also learned the sad thing, so we definitely wouldn’t have traded it for anything. But I jump ahead, so let me retrace.

One of the best things about adopting an older child is that we’ve had the ability to send care packages, something you can’t really do as well with a baby, obviously, because it holds no meaning for them.

What is sometimes frustrating is that it’s all one-sided. You don’t ever get a response from China to know how Dang Yong reacted. So all you can do is wonder: Was he excited? A little nervous? Did he smile? Did he like the M&Ms? (Did they give him the M&Ms?) Did he ask questions about us? Did his caretaker let him have his items, or did she worry they would get dirty or ruined and keep them away?

Interspersed with all the joys of our upcoming adoption have been times when we begin to experience this weird sense of irreality. I mean, really, you could say that all we had is a medical report and a few older photos of some random little boy. It takes some faith to believe there really is a little boy who looks like the one in the picture (at least somewhat – they change so much in such a short time!), and that he is indeed sitting in this place called Nanyang City Social Welfare Institute on the other side of the world.

When you’re adopting, sometimes it feels like the Twilight Zone. We don’t get any e-mail updates on Dang Yong. The orphanage doesn’t send us regular monthly reports or anything. Obviously we can’t call the orphanage to say “hi” to him or hear what’s new. We literally know nothing more than you guys do. HOPE for Children, our agency, lets us know up front that we won’t hear anything unless something changes. No news is good news, that sort of thing. This is the reality of the situation for most adoptive parents at this stage in the game.

But sometimes God chooses to reach down through time and space and do some amazing, wonderful, above-all-we-could-ask-or-think thing, like drop some new photos of Dang Yong straight into my e-mail inbox with a note that says, “Hey, I think I saw your little boy last month!”

But on the tails of this huge exciting news comes the wee bitty sad thing where we learned that conditions over there aren’t…well…stellar. The only room in the orphanage which Bonnie was allowed into was the one you see in the picture. She described it as “basically an unheated garage, with few toys.” You’ll notice in the picture how all the kids are bundled in many layers, and you can see many of them have flushed faces. China is about as cold as it is here in Maine in the winter, to give you an idea. (Maybe they turn on the heat monitor at night?)

Bonnie also said that the kids were all sick with colds; her little girl, Zoe, had bronchitis and a 103 degree temp for three days. (She couldn’t go sightseeing, because little Zoe was so sick.) Bonnie’s opinion was that if had been a week later, Zoe would have had to go into the hospital for her illness.

You can imagine how disheartened I was to hear about the conditions. The mother’s heart in me just aches to think of my son in a cold room with just a few toys. It sounds like most of the kids are sick. Is he sick, too? Is it bad? Could he have bronchitis?

But then I have to slow down and realize that if God has brought our “brave, courageous” one this far, He can keep him just fine until we get there (and beyond!). If God can arrange to get me recent photos of my son – something some parents can only DREAM of – God can certainly keep him safe and healthy.

The mom in me wants to rush to fix things; to help our little one, to go get him and bring him home to warmth and safety now! But now is not the time. Now is the time for this child to head straight for the arms of her heavenly Father and drop it all in His lap for Him to deal with, because there’s nothing for her to do.

So, having pulled up those recent photos of my little boy one last time for the night, I can smile at that handsome little face. Then I can go ahead and let go, and shut down the laptop and lay my head down to rest. And I can actually sleep in perfect peace, because my mind is fixed on Him, the One who loves Dang Yong and holds him in greater safety than I ever could.

"Stay Strong"
Stay strong, you are not lost
Come on, fix your eyes ahead
There's a new dawn to light our day
You and I run for the prize that lies ahead
We've come too far to lose our way

Have you forgotten who you are?
Did you forget whose trip you're on?

Come on and stay strong
His grip is sure and His patience still endures
There'll be no letting go today - no way.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Falling for the Wrong One...

Well, Emily got into contact - through a chat group - with a wonderful woman named Bonnie who had just adopted from China. (Big deal, you think. What the heck does this have to do with you guys? Does her cat pee on her stuff? Does the man in her life eat foods of questionable lineage? (By the way, I'll deal with that subject later.) Why bother to talk about some other person who's just gotten a child from China?) I'll tell you: Bonnie's child, Zoe by the way, came from Dang Yong's orphanage, or maybe Dang Yong comes from Zoe's orphanage. I'm not quite sure of the ownership issue over there, but either way, they come from the same place, and Bonnie said she might have pictures of Yong. Of course our first question to her was "How is little Zoe? Is she adjusting alright? How was the food? Were the airline seats comfy enough? How has the upcoming Year of the Rat affected Chinese relations with the rest of the world?

Heck no. I could care less (right now selfishly enough) about Zoe. I want to know where the pictures of my boy are. We all know that it can't be possible for anyone with a heart beating within them to not take a picture of the most beautiful Chinese child ever. Sorry, Zoe, you're going to have to take the Silver in this event. Well, Em shot an email to Bonnie within one nanosecond of receiving her email, politely yet desperately requesting any pictorial documentation of our son. I like to think that I handled the matter in a very mature fashion. Every three to four minutes that passed by found me furiously checking email on any computer with an Internet connection. As of three o'clock this morning, we still had no reply. As of three oh three this morning, we still had no reply. At this point, I exercised the ultimate in self control and waited until a reasonable hour (seven am) to check again. Cursing the day Bonnie was born, I promptly powered down the computer after still no reply and headed off to our Saturday morning Deacons meeting at the Church. Upon arrival home however, our Henan correspondent had sent an email with an attachment or two (or three or four). I quickly retracted my curse and electronically tore into the email with the gusto that I usually reserve for the all-you-can-eat buffet lines.

There were a number of children in the pictures (all four pictures were basically of the same kids) and immediately I picked him out. He was the tallest and least happy looking of the bunch. Quietly watching all of his other friends and their toys and candies received from Bonnie. The look on his face nearly broke my heart. It was a look that seemed to say, "Why aren't you bringing me home? Why did you pick the little girl?" I doubt it if anybody else noticed that look, considering the commotion and number of kids involved, but I saw it instantly. I wanted to shout into the picture so loud that my voice would carry through the limitations of the picture and of time itself and declare, "You know why she's not bringing you home? It's because I am! I'm the one God picked for your father, not anyone else. I'm sorry I can't be there right now, Yong, but we're going to come and get you as soon as we possibly can. Just hold on for a little bit longer. I'm coming!

Then I got a chill running down the back of my spine. What if that picture wasn't of Yong? What if I was mistaken. Had I just bonded with a child I would never know as my own? I felt like I might have just cheated on my son. Why did I pour out so much emotion without making absolute darn sure he truly was my boy?

With fear mixed with paranoia, I brought up one of our pictures of Yong that was on the Hope for Children Child Waiting website, and studied it as furiously and intently as I could, going back and forth between the pictures. It's amazing how a child can change over a relatively short period of time. After very close scrutiny of the pictures I sat back with a sigh.

They were the same boy. I hadn't emotionally strayed at all. Now I could unabashedly admire my son's most recent picture. He is the most handsome boy I have ever seen. He must take after his new daddy that way. Even as I write this, I have to keep looking back at his picture to make sure it's all real. Yup, just looked: it's real.

I'm looking back over this posting, self editing as I go, and I realize that my emotional outpouring over wanting to go and get Yong could be taken the wrong way. I don't want to be thought of as some hero, going to save a poor orphan halfway around the world. If I wasn't going to adopt him, God would find someone else to. I don't want to be thought of a someone who wants wants to be seen as a "good person" or selfless for adopting.

I just want to be his daddy, and that's about as selfish as I can get.

Hey, do you want to see my son? He's the tall one on the right.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

"You had me at Ni Hao"

So I've had a few comments that people really enjoyed the tone of the first couple entries we made. You know, the emotional, touchy-feely ones from us, the ones that let you into our oft too-fragile frame of mind.... Apparently you'd like more along those lines. (Saps.)

Well, I have to say, it's so much easier to write of the banal day-to-day stuff than it is to write that vulnerable stream-of-conscious journaling type stuff. Do you realize how much self-editing I have to do (with my perfectionist tendencies)? It kind of defeats the purpose of stream-of-consciousness.

And do you honestly realize just how many people we've given this link to??? Oy veh. I have to think to myself, Do I really want our five readers perusing this?!?!

But what's the point of a blog journaling our experience if we don't really let you know what we're experiencing. So here goes.

I'll let you in on a little secret.

Many of you have said, "You must be dying to meet your son, to wrap your arms around him tightly, shower him with kisses, smother him in love and never let him go..." or variations on that theme.

Usually I just nod and say, "Yeah, it's pretty hard" or "We can't wait!"

Can I just ask you this:

How would you feel if you've just left all your friends (forever), and you're in this small sterile room in some bureaucratic office building you've never been in. You've got all your earthly possessions (all three of them) in your Spiderman backpack. In walk these people you've only seen pictures of. They smile down from their gigantor height... and go all emotional on you.

I think that would be the most selfish thing in the world (even though I may not be able to help it). But a blubbering, falling-apart female is totally not going be what he needs (who does, for that matter?). It would make a touching story. It would fill some some romanticized idealistic vision of family reunited. The problem is there never was a "united" to begin with. We're relative strangers to him (pun intended).

Lately I've been imagining what it will be like the first time we meet him. Sometimes (i.e. today) I've been figuring it will be rather subdued, for both parties. Maybe a smile and a pat on the head. Maybe no touch at all. After all, he doesn't know us.

We're the ones who have his picture memorized. (Not him.) We're the ones who have read and re-read his life story (the little we have of it). We're the ones who have used the conversion calculator countless times to figure out how many kilograms/pounds he weighs compared to the last growth status report, and how long his feet are now. We're the ones who have been praying and planning and dreaming about him since the day we first saw his little picture.

So I don't know. Maybe we'll just smile and say, "Ni Hao, Dang Yong."

And be absolutely thrilled if he just says "hello" back.

A kid by any other name…?

Many people have asked us, What are you going to name your son?

It’s a tricky thing for us because – really – he has a name. He’s four years old, which means that (unlike an infant) he has spent the last two years going by “Yong.” It is by now pretty much as entwined in his identity as your name is with your identity.

That makes it difficult for us. We are already uprooting him from everything he’s known and plunking him down in a new country in a new strange house where he will live among freakish giants – one of whom has sunshine hair and blue eyes. We don’t talk right, we eat weird food (have you seen the things Jason can and will eat?), we keep a giant dog inside the house. And after growing up with tons of kids everywhere, he’ll suddenly find himself alone with us.

Psychologists tell adoptive parents, "Don’t be thinking you’re the hero, swooping in to save the day for this orphaned kid – no matter how bad it is, it’s the only life he’s known." It’s his entire world. And it will be gone.

Of course, it’s not something we feel guilty about. We know that he will have a much better life as part of a family. He will have a home, schooling, a whole new circle of loving family and friends. He will have opportunities he would never have had otherwise.

Even though he’s at an orphanage now, at some point (if he stayed in China) he would place out and be on his own, very alone. That’s pretty bleak. Imagine having – literally – no one who had your back. No one to turn to. No one to tell you you are loved - individually, created by God with a purpose, that you have a hope and a future!

And this brings me back to the “naming.” I remember learning something fascinating about ancient Hebrew culture: a baby was not considered to truly have identity until it received its name. A name literally conferred being. Sometimes God Himself gave someone a new name to reflect a life-change. “Now you will be called…”

I’ve e-mailed a couple people who have adopted older children (3- or 4-year-olds, even one 2-year-old) to ask them about the “naming” issue. I learned it’s pretty standard for people to give a new American first name and keep the Chinese name as a middle. But the parents all tell me that the question becomes, Which name does the child want to go by?

One adopted 4-year-old insisted his parents call him by his Chinese name, but other people could call him his American name. Then after a while, he decided he only wanted to go by his new American name. (Many times the kids are so happy in their new life, they associate their new name with their new life). But there’s another 4-year-old that has kept his Chinese name. And interestingly, the 2-year-old I mentioned was insistent, even at that young age, that she be called by her Chinese name.

I can tell you one thing. It doesn’t matter to us what the birth certificate says. Dang Yong by any name will still be as sweet…

Friday, January 4, 2008

Let the weekend begin...

Bedroom Phase 3,472: First coat of paint
(and installation of cool new light thingy)

Hardwood goes down tomorrow!

How Emily feels about the progress being made.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

How much fun are we having?

Keep on rockin' with the drywall...

Here's Jason sanding the new walls in our bedroom while blasting 80s tunes. Soon we paint, then put in the hardwood and finish the closet remodel.

Next on the agenda is getting Dang Yong's room ready upstairs. I wasn't sure we were going to have enough time before heading out, but so far so good!

Out with the old...

(had to go with a New Year's theme)

For those who have graced our humble abode at some point in the last 4 years, you will better appreciate the renovations we've been doing, since you'll have tasted of the "before."

Suffice it to say, it needed a tad.

We are happy to announce our one and only bath now actually has a bath. (It formerly hosted a standup shower.)

[Sorry for a view of our open-concept medicine cabinet. We broke our mirror pretty much straight off. In the meantime, it saves you all from wondering what awesome drugs we take.]

Moving on...Our two small living rooms are now the same level and are more like one largish room. Being a carpet cleaner, Jason is happy to come home to hardwood. And we both enjoy having baseboards that are actually the same size all the way around the room. Don't ask.

Best Christmas Present Ever!

There is a small company in China called "Red Thread." It is run by two women - one in the US and one on Shamian Island in China. They own a store that works with adoptive parents to help them send items to their waiting children in orphanages across the country.

We e-mailed them and asked if they would put together a Christmas package for Dang Yong. (Christmas is becoming more recognized because so many adoptive parents want to send gifts to orphanages at that time of the year.) This is a photograph of what we ordered. She bought the items right there in China and took a picture before she mailed the package off to the orphanage.

Ann (the woman in China) called the orphanage directly and got updated growth reports so she could be sure the clothing would fit. I can't tell you how awesome it was and how "real" it made everything feel. (And, yes, he's getting bigger! He's a size 4T now.)

We also had her order a cake from a local bakery in Nanyang City. Cake is a delicacy -- a treat the children very rarely get. Ann had the bakery deliver it Christmas morning. Since it would have been a special treat, we're hoping the caregivers were able to take some pictures of Dang Yong enjoying it with his friends.

We got an e-mail Christmas morning from Ann. She had called the orphanage that morning to confirm the cake was delivered. The director told her everybody there enjoyed it very much, and they wished us a Merry Christmas.

That was -- hands down -- the best Christmas present ever!

Map of Henan province

Here is a closeup of Henan Province. On this map you can see Nanyang City on lower left. Everybody say, "Hi, Dang Yong!!!"

Map of China

Dang Yong is in an orphanage in Henan Province. I tried to draw a red line to show you where Nanyang City is.

great quote

Our children are not ours
because they share our genes.
They are ours
because we have had
the audacity
envision them.
That, at the
end of the day...
or long sleepless night…
Is how love really

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Adoption update (from October)


We know you all thought we were going to be adopting a baby girl from China. We kinda thought so too. But God had other plans…

October 12, 2007
We are thrilled to announce our upcoming adoption of a little boy named Dang Yong. Yong is a 3½ year old who arrived at the orphanage in Nanyang City in the Henan Province of China when he was 18 months old. He was given the first name “Yong” by his caregiver, because it means “brave” or “courageous one.” Because Yong is an older child, our application with China will automatically be moved to “fast-track,” and we anticipate traveling to China to complete the adoption this coming March!

November 14, 2007
Today we sent our FIRST CARE PACKAGE TO CHINA!!! It was a very exciting day, and a bit daunting. We wondered, “What do we send? What would he recognize and have fun with?” Well, we ended up mailing out a Noah’s Ark blanket that Emily’s mom made for him. Also we sent crayons, markers, a coloring pad, two small books, a bright red truck (from Cousin Abby), some CANDY, and a stuffed moose. Jason enclosed his Boston Red Sox hat with a note that said, “This was my hat. Now it is your hat. I hope you like it.”

We also enclosed a small photo album with pictures of us so he knows what we look like.

THE BEST PART? The local Chinese restaurant – Asia CafĂ© – translated little notes to him. We wrote what we wanted to say and they wrote the Chinese words beneath it. (It looked absolutely beautiful, by the way!) Now his caregiver can read him our messages in Chinese. It’s SUCH A BLESSING to have a small means of communicating to him, at least somewhat directly.

What adoption feels like

Emily here. First off, the cat is not retarded. That being said, she may have the occasional issue. And by occasional I mean "pretty much all the time." But then again, put yourself in her paws for a minute and tell me what you'd do if this 6'1" behemoth thundered "Kitty Kitty KITTY!" at you randomly just to get a rise out of you. And he wonders why she might have lost bladder control a few times. Anyway...

Yes, we finally have a blog so all our friends and family (and the random lurking e-stranger) can read all the latest on our China adoption, and home improvements, and pet psychoses. Now that we have only 3 months (hopefully) before we will be heading out, reading our blog won't end up being some herculean literary undertaking on your part (or ours, for that matter).

For those of you who are wondering......YES, it is very disconcerting to realize that there's this wee little stranger on the other side of the world, and in a few short months he will be making his entrance into our lives, and that everything we are, everything we have, everything we can give, is now irrevocably intertwined with him.

I used to wonder what it would feel like to adopt -- could I ever adopt? -- and now that we find ourselves here, I don't know how to explain what it feels like. My best answer would be "a miracle," I guess. It's true: this little one didn't grow and develop inside my body, under my heart. But without a doubt he grew in it. How is that not incredibly miraculous? I think it's something God does in us, to engender this love for someone yet unknown.

After all, adoption is really God's idea -- He calls Himself "defender of the helpless" and "Father of the fatherless." God has always been the primary champion of the orphaned and neglected ones.

What does adoption feel like? Like getting married to someone....without the whole getting-to-know-you dating period.

What does adoption feel like? The biggest, best, most important thing I've ever done.

What does adoption feel like? Complete and utter panic some days....until I try very hard to give it all over to God and just be still and trust.

Taking stock of things thus far.....

Morning is both the most insightful and deceitful of times for me. For example, this morning, I awoke quite refreshed, though sore (darn these New England snow storms), and thoughtful. I realized that this is the perfect opportunity to work through these thoughts and begin our blog cataloging our adoption ups and downs...

The first thing I did this morning as I woke, after yawning of course, was to thank God for all that he's given me over these past ten years. The major things that come to mind (though certainly not all) are these: the woman and now wife of my dreams, Emily; a fantastic and growing relationship with Him; a loving and caring church family; a home, complete with pets; and a sense of satisfaction with it all....

Then other thoughts began to creep in. Thoughts like: holy crap, what the heck am I doing? My life is good right now just as it is. Everything is nice and safe and predictable and stable. Why the heck would I want to mess all of this up with the importation of a foreign national (albeit 4 years old) into my household? Say goodbye to the good life. The freedom youngish non-parental couples have to rush off without a moments hesitation to Paris (or in our case, New Hampshire)will be gone.

Goodbye to all of those times when we made fun of our parentally burdened friends for their woes and tribulations. Emily and I were diving headfirst into those very shark-infested waters which we not all that long ago thankfully viewed from a safe distance. We aren't even forming a family the way all of our friends did (you know, the "natural" way). If we did that, we'd at least have the relative predictability of DNA on our sides. The way we are creating this family has all kinds of hazards: for all we know, our son will have some difficult inherent tendencies: bed wetting, emotional distress, a need to overthrow any and all existing authority structures etc...

This all seems utterly irresponsible to my barely awakened intellect. There are responsibilities to be considered. Did we discuss this matter with anyone else living in our house? No. How is our dog of dubious heritage going to take this Chinese invasion? Will he be alright sharing the affection with a new two footed creature with rights he (our dog) never had, like having uninhibited access to all of those wondrous people foods on the kitchen table? Will he be alright with the poking, grabbing petting which more resembles a sound beating? How will he deal with the crying and fussing a carrying-on that accompanies such a big change? What happens when the child and not just me has those issues. Will it be too much for simple canine sanity?

Then there's the other life form already occupying the household to be considered. What about our mentally retarded cat? I'm not joking;; our cat's about as smart as a box of rocks. Her eyes cross in opposite directions (disturbing), her tongue hangs out because she hasn't the God-given sense to keep the stupid thing in her mouth. She can't choose to meow. What I mean by that is one day she was yawning and a sound came out, quite accidentally. Our once mute feline resident does in fact have the power to vocalize, she just has no idea how it's done. Sometimes she opens her mouth and nothing comes out; sometimes she sounds like a strangled chipmunk, sometimes the sound is closer to an ambulance siren; and very occasionally, it sounds like a cat. She's as surprised as we are when it happens. This cat chooses the most precarious of places to lay down, which wouldn't be all that bad if she kept awake and retained balance, but she doesn't. The fool thing perches like a mentally deficient eagle atop the craggiest crest in the house, falls asleep, and then falls. This beast then has the nerve to look offended and indignant that she just fell! How will a creature with no natural sense, instinct or intelligence ever deal with the insanity of a child in the home? She's crazy enough as it is: will we have to put her into a drug induced coma just so she can coexist with the boy? She's already on kitty Prozac, (I kid you not my friends, it's the truth). It seems the regularity of day to day life is too much for this fragile feline to handle. Any change in her life's routine (litter box not clean enough, new food, the same food, too much noise, too quiet, etc.) and her unnatural defenses kick in. This involves finding any object of mine which is easily accessible, and peeing on it. I don't mean to be gross, but cat urine stinks, and why she thinks all of life's injustices done to her are my fault and therefore deserving of a thorough dowsing is beyond me.

So with one swift and calculate decision, five lives will be in a state of upheaval - 4 residents currently and one Chinese national, soon to be American (Mainer specifically).

I am at this point completely terrified and anxious. Are we being as foolish as our retarded, balance-challenged, semi-mute and selectively incontinent cat? Is it too late to pull out of this mess, before things get worse?

Then a still quiet voice creeps into my head: God. "It's going to be all right" he says. "Who directed you to this decision? Who brought you to this place in your life? Who showed you this beautiful little boy in the first place? Adoption is a wonderful and blessed thing. Have I ever disappointed you? Let me work wonders in your life though him, Jason, and be amazed with what is ahead of you. Trust in Me."

It's amazing what the right perspective can do for your sense of well being. This whole venture from the beginning was directed by God. I can rest and have peace in that very thing.

Soon my eyes become heavy again and I begin to drift off into sleep, wrapping my arms around Emily. The chaos and clashing in my head is gone. My mind is blessedly free from distractions. Then I fell back asleep to the sounds of my dog snoring and a wheezing catlike creature, probably looking for a reason to pee on my stuff.

Everything is going to be just fine.