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Archive for the ‘Adoption’ Category

Suffering

We don’t like suffering.  Therefore, we try to avoid it, quit literally, at all costs.

Which is the wrong thing to do, frankly.  Even if we could actually avoid all suffering (which we can’t), it would be the wrong thing to do.

I got started on this line of thinking while reading a book a friend lent me on learning to be more thankful.  (I’ll write about the book eventually; it’s good.)  The problem was, the book started with a lot of dramatic stuff about the very traumatic death of her little sister when the author was young.  Her sister was hit by a delivery truck in her farmyard, in front of the whole family.

Yes, this was truly horrible.  And, yes, nearly everyone’s first reaction at that point would be to do a lot of crying and yelling at God.

So many people, however, forget to quit yelling at God and let Him comfort us.  An acquaintance in college lost her mother to cancer, so she quit going to church.  In the book I read, the author’s family accused God of, essentially, not paying attention and letting their daughter be killed, so they quit going to church.  Plenty of other people I know or have read have said things in this pattern, “(Horrible thing A) happened, therefore I quit going to church.”

We usually accept that as a normal reaction (at least in this country, in this time), but should we?  (I shall refrain from commenting on the sad, sorry state of catechesis in this country, at least in this post.)

I once commented to a friend in a Bible study that angrily walking away from God when suffering enters our lives is like throwing away your life preserver for letting you get wet when you had to jump off the sinking ship.  Of course you got wet!  The life preserver keeps you from dying; there is no promise that you won’t get wet.  And if you throw the life preserver away when you need it most, you’re still going to be wet, but now you’re also going to drown!

So it is with God: He has promised to save us if we trust in Him.  He has NOT promised us that our lives will be pain-free.  Jesus died horribly on the cross, the only totally innocent man there ever was.  Mary stood there and watched her son be tortured horribly and die.  Who do you think you are to think God is going to only send you health and wealth, if He didn’t spare His own Son and the special woman He chose to be His mother?  I won’t even get started on the thousands of martyrs; they took suffering for Christ’s sake as a blessing and went to their deaths not just content, but joyfully and often singing.  Suffering didn’t drive them away from God, but closer to Him.

And yet, so often, we flee from suffering.  Our lives are generally very comfortable here in the U.S.  We sit in some of the most well-endowed houses the world has ever seen and make excuses for why we couldn’t possibly give more to the poor or sacrifice a job to stay home with our kids, because we can’t “afford” it.  Even our parish choir can’t be bothered to sing any “negative” psalms; frequently, the psalm for the day was supposed to be about God protecting us in adversity and our need to trust Him and praise Him anyways… and we get, yet again, “This is the day the Lord has made, we will be glad and rejoice.”  Nothing wrong with the second psalm, of course, except that the psalms about pain and trouble are scheduled to be sung in the normal rotation of things because we need to hear them.

What do you do when suffering hits, when you thought God always gives His children only good things?  When you skip the “Be near me Lord, when I am in trouble” psalms, where is your blueprint for what comes after the suffering?  Do you panic, wondering if maybe you aren’t saved, maybe you didn’t mean it enough when you came to Jesus?  Do you suspect you’re being punished by God?  Do you get mad at God and leave, because you think He broke His end of the deal?

In The Brothers Karamazov, there is a chapter called “The Grand Inquisitor”, which is about a story by the atheist brother that he tells to his younger brother, the novice monk.  After the story, the atheist demands of the monk how he could believe in a good God when nobles have their dogs tear children apart in front of their mothers for some minor infraction.  How, he demands, could the noble repent and get to heaven after that?  How could the mother embrace the noble in heaven and say she understands that God brought good out of her child being mauled to death by dogs?  How or why could a good God allow any of this?!?

The monk, distraught to the point of tears over the story, insists that we have to believe it is so.  God brings good out of the evil, always, even when we don’t see it or understand it.

The atheist replies angrily that he won’t believe it, because he can’t understand it.  (He’s a rather tormented character.)

When we were struggling through infertility, there was a lot of yelling at God.  “Why us?  Everyone else can have kids, even people who will just abort them, so why not us?!?”  Eventually, we decided we’d gone as far as was moral and available to us, and we adopted.  It took some time, but I can now say, “It wasn’t our Plan A, but it was God’s Plan A,” and I don’t have to grit my teeth so much when I say it anymore, either.  The pain fades, and I can see a little bit of what my suffering led me to.

I have four beautiful children so far.  If we hadn’t been adopting, they might have not found homes.

I can argue the Church’s position on IVF (in short: NO), and nobody can say (although, illogically, they still do), “Your opinion doesn’t count, because you don’t understand what it’s like!”  No, I understand exactly what it’s like; it sucks.  It hurts.  It’s hard.  Painfully.  Freaking.  Hard.  People won’t understand why you adopt instead of trying to force God to give you “one of your own,” and they will say stupid, hurtful things about adoption, even people you trusted.  But I now understand the beauty of the Church’s teachings on life, and I am in a position to be an unusual witness to them.

Being adoptive parents made us much, much more aware of the pro-life movement.  We’d always been pro-life, but not particularly involved.  We realized that our children were all being stalked by the culture of death before they came to us.  Whether it’s Planned Parenthood here or the One Child Policy in China, they all beat the odds just to be born and make it into the adoption system.  It is the most horrendous evil of our day that so many children in the womb should have to fear for their life.  And, like so many others, we were sort of ignoring it, until we looked into our children’s faces and realized that they could have just as easily been among the dead and discarded.

When we encounter suffering, we are forced to lean on God.  Often, this turns us in new, surprising directions.  The point is not the suffering itself, it is what comes of it.  Instead, we tend to focus on the suffering, endlessly rehashing it or claiming victim labels.  What we should be doing, rather, is taking what God gives us and asking Him humbly, “Ok, so what the heck was I supposed to do with this?  I am trying to believe You will bring good out of this; Lord, help my unbelief!”  Then we have to wait for the answer.  Even if we don’t see it this side of Heaven, the answer is in God’s hand.

Job rails against God for all his misfortunes, losses, and pain, but, ultimately gets through it to, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord!”  We can’t offend God by admitting we’re mad about the situation; He knows it already.  We can’t shock God with our howling sorrow; He’s borne that, too.  But we have to end the suffering with Job, all the suffering Psalms, and the martyrs: by praising God, whether or not we think we understand the suffering and whether or not things get better by earthly standards.

And there’s our blueprint.

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I had to take Diva to an appointment with a new doctor, and I received the standard pile of paperwork in the mail to fill out before our first visit.  At the bottom of the form letter about being a new patient was this:

If you are not the patient’s natural parent, you must bring with you a legal document reflecting your custody of that child or a current signed/notarized statement authorizing medical treatment.

Oh, lovely.

The nurse asked me if I’d been informed of the requirement for adoption papers or something, and I looked her in the eye and flatly stated, “Virginia law says that after my adoptions were finalized, we are to be treated as any other family.”

She backed down.

I asked her what they were trying to catch or prevent, and she obviously didn’t want to continue the conversation.  So, for the edification of any other medical office out there (or any parent who’s tempted to hang their head and mumble, “I’m only an adoptive mom, I guess I deserve this kind of abuse…”), let me clarify exactly who this policy would catch:

  • My friend’s wife, who declined to change her name when she married.  Hence, Ms. Thomas takes the Smith kid to the doctor.  Yes, she gave birth to this child, and no, she doesn’t need permission to take her to the doctor.
  • My divorced friend, who reverted to her married name, but her kids still have their dad’s name, even though Mom has full custody.  No, she also doesn’t need permission, nor does she need her nose rubbed in the fact that her marriage failed.
  • My friend from Malta who married an American, who happens to be black.  Her kids don’t look like her, but she doesn’t need special paperwork.
  • Anybody who has adopted transracially.  Because, of course, even though adoptive parents are screened for finances, parenting skills, and marital stability, unlike anybody who gave birth to a child, we need to keep an eye on those people, right?

In short, unless you’re trying to harass multi-racial families or women who have chosen to keep or revert to their married name, you aren’t going to catch anybody you wanted to find.

And who wouldn’t this policy catch?

  • The various children reported missing who were taken by the parent who was apparently losing the custody battle after the divorce.  (Those “have you seen me?” ads are full of kids who disappeared with someone with the same last name and about the right age difference to be a parent to the missing child.)  The parent on the run would look like the child and would probably have birth certificates and other documentation.
  • Any child who was abused or trafficked.  (Do you really think those kids are being taken to the doctor?  If they are, I’ll guarantee they have falsified documents claiming these are their kids.)
  • My now-divorced friend while she was still married and taking her stepson to the doctor.  They were both white, and they had the same last name.  Therefore, no warning flags are tripped, even though she technically had no legal right to take her stepson to the doctor without written permission from his father.
  • Anybody who adopted a child who vaguely looks like them.  (Even though a child from Russia, although also white, wouldn’t look much like me.)  If the “problem” is adoptees, don’t you want to catch all of them, not just the transracially adopted ones?  I asked a nurse once, at another pediatrician’s office, if she would have asked for adoption paperwork if I’d walked in with a freckled red-head.  “Of course not, because then she’d look like you,” she replied.  “Um, not from my gene pool!” I told her.

And then let’s address the uselessness of a “signed/notarized document” authorizing medical treatment.  We wrote those up for our kids for while we were gone in China; the notary only asked to see our drivers’ licenses, not to see proof that we really have kids with these names.  Furthermore, unless we start tatooing social security numbers on babies like we do to cattle, there is no way to link that name to that child.  So what does that paper actually tell you?  Only that someone with an ID card matching the name printed under the signature line actually signed the document.

Yet another example of nonsensical discrimination and “protection” that doesn’t protect anybody.

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7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 163)

1.  The editors of First Things like to quote their late founder, Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, on the nature of public life.  “The first thing to be said about public life is that it is not the first thing.”  Hence, the blog languishes while real life at home is crazy.  I told myself when I started that, even if I didn’t write regularly or influence anyone, the blog would not take over my real life because the blogosphere demanded attention.  At least that’s one first intention about blogging that I’ve kept.  So, when I vanish for a bit, please say a prayer for me; something chaotic is probably happening at home.

Which is my excuse for not posting the cute frog-and-lily-pad cookie photo on Leap Day.  So, belated Happy Leap Day! 🙂

2.  … and in the real world, these children are obviously in danger of starving to death before the first batch of homemade pizza (yes, I make my own dough, with yeast, it isn’t rocket science!) comes out, but aren’t they cute?

3.  Also, unfortunately, occuring in the real world, is the Obamacare contraception mandate debacle, exacerbated today by the thirteen Catholic senators who voted against the Blunt amendment, which would have provided a permanent conscience clause.  Earlier in the mess, I found this by Michael Ramirez, who is, hands down, my favorite political cartoonist ever.  He just “gets it”.

4.  In the chaos of normal life, I entirely missed posting about the Great Backyard Bird Count.  A small local chain of birding stores promotes it strongly, and, apparently, so do other birding stores in other areas.  We took our “usual birds for your area” checklist and counted birds on two days.  They do this every year on the weekend after Valentine’s Day, you only have to count for fifteen minutes, and you can enter your counts online or by dropping off your checklist where you got it.  This year, they added a really cool searchable map, so you could see where all the checklists were submitted from and what birds were reported and in what numbers.  (We saw an odd duck, so we could see our actual dot when we searched for that species!  The whole thing made for some really fun homeschool science lessons.)

My kids thought this was incredibly fun stuff… my DH asked, “Isn’t birdwatching supposed to be a quiet activity?” as children dashed from window to window shrieking about house finches and mallards and coots.

In a house with four kids?   Um, no, “quiet” and “activity” rarely go together.

5.  It isn’t often that I can say something nice about the Chinese government, but they did get something notable right lately.  For some time, many orphanages have named orphans either “State” or “Party” as their family name, then something to do with their finding place as their given name.  So, not only were orphans starting out without a family in a very family-oriented society, they were labelled for life as orphans, because their names were things like “Federal Street Corner.”  Everyone would immediately know that the person was an orphan because of their odd name.  Although my Chinese-born daughter did not have this (her family name was from the name of the county she was born in), my Chinese-born son’s family name was Guo, “country”.  Continuting a positive trend lately, beginning with reports of re-naming ceremonies in India for girls named “unwanted” and such, the Chinese government has told the orphanages to give the children normal names.  Thank God for little victories.

6.  Our local botanical gardens had a special for February: discounted admission and all-day biking.  Woo hoo!  Coupled with some incredibly warm weather for February, it was a big hit with us.  The two little ones are in the bike trailer (which I’m fairly sure is not rated for their combined weight, since the new guy is denser than lead)… which means I got a great workout, in spite of the gardens being rather flat, because I was hauling an extra seventy or so pounds behind me!

I will have to do a post on the photos from that day; I kept snapping neat shots, thinking, “Hey, I could put this on the blog… if I ever get back to posting regularly…”

 

7.  And finally, a cheery sign of spring.  The photo doesn’t do them justice; they were a gorgeous, deep purple that my little digital camera didn’t quite catch.

As always, many thaks to Jen for hosting 7 Quick Takes Friday, and don’t forget to go check out everyone else’s Friday musings at Conversion Diary!

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Home, at Last

I said I was going to keep up with the blog.  I said I wasn’t going to spend all my online time obsessing over stats and timeline predictions over at Rumor Queen.  I said I was going to take a deep breath and be sane throughout the paperchase for this adoption.

Obviously not.

But, we are now home, after nearly two weeks in China.  Very generous friends and family (most of whom seem to still be on speaking terms with us) watched our kids, our dog, and our house.  Someday soon, we even hope the newest addition will start sleeping through the night and in his own bed.

DH looked at me today on the way to the photo studio and said, “Hey, do you realize the minivan is full now?”  Yep; if we go again, we’re going to need a bigger van, I said.  He gave me a still jetlagged blink that said something to the effect of, “You aren’t honestly thinking about that yet?!”  We’ll see.

He’s kinda insanely adorable, so we’ll have to forgive him the turbo-poops and throwing up on Daddy on the plane (and at several restaurants, and in the middle of the night…).  He’s also talking, sort of; mostly he seems to babble, but he does yell, “WO!” a lot, which means “I” or the first half of “mine” (“wo de”), which makes some sense.  He’s chubby, his hair never lays down, and he’s a *bit* spoiled (Diva hates to hear him cry, so she’s been carrying him almost everywhere, which he loves).

And it’s really hard to catch him still enough to get a non-blurry photo!

I suppose I can officially update the “cast” page now… 🙂

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Utter lack of focus…

Or, rather, I have been plagued with some very intense focuses (foci?) on other things besides the things I normally blog about, including, but not limited to:

  • an unblogable, frustrating, long-running family problem
  • an unblogable, frustrating, gone-then-back-again child problem
  • football season (i.e. dinner at 8:30, I see my husband maybe half an hour a night, and I have to mow the lawn on top of everything else)
  • the beginning of the homeschooling year, which has yet to hit anything I could even somewhat euphemistically call “orderly”; things get done, but not with much gracefulness
  • checking Rumor Queen about fifty times a day to see if anybody else got any adoption paperwork in and re-re-checking the charts to see where we are in the waiting process compared to everyone else  (DH ultimately banned me from checking more than once a day)

Oh, yeah, and I’m still killing trees for the purposes of an adoption from China.  They don’t warn you at the beginning that ink and paper will become major budget issues for the adoption.

“Congratulations!  Your LOA came!  Now please do the following three checklists of paperwork…”

Now that the official you’re-really-matched-this-time paperwork came (the previous “match” was only a preapproval), I can start obsessing over what there is to do and see in China.  And bemoaning the fact that the White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou had the horrible timing to shut down for renovations in September.  How am I supposed to survive this stressful two weeks of adjustment to our new son without the White Swan’s awesome (and dumpling-laden) breakfast buffet to look forward to?!?!

Having the LOA in hand means one definite thing: another step with a wide variation in completion rates is removed from the equation.  So, we now know, within a range of a few weeks (instead of a few months), when we’ll be travelling.  No, I’m not saying when.  (Have I mentioned that DH is a bit of a privacy freak and that there’s been entirely too many stories out about people who put info online about their vacation and got robbed because someone figured out where they lived and that they wouldn’t be home for another week?)

I cleaned my craft area (thanks to a lovely new cabinet that Mary was trying to get rid of on Craig’s List (“You’re asking $80?”  “Do you think that’s too much?”  “No, I think I’m going to buy it…”).  I pulled out all the 24 month boy clothes.  I’m trying (without much success) to finish make progress on my SIL’s Christmas present before I can’t sew for a few months.  I’m trying to keep up with the figs and tomatoes in the garden (the dehydrator is running almost constantly, and if it isn’t, it’s because I didn’t clean tomatoes, not because there aren’t any that need to be in there).

And I’ve hardly read another blog all summer.  (sorry, y’all)

I’m trying to keep this blog going.  We’ll see; maybe I need to shift direction.  Or length.  Or something.  Or just put to rest the nagging, “Yeah, you tried to change someone’s mind, and they obviously only skimmed and misread what you wrote and dismissed you as ‘not understanding the situation,’ and then freaking testified to Congress that Chinese adoptions should be shut down, so why bother?”

Summary: adoption is going well.  Some other things, not so well, including the computer situation, so I can’t access my precious two post-cleft-lip-repair photos right now.

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7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 136)

Last Sunday, several people at church commented to the kids about summer being “half over”… which it isn’t for us, since we homeschool.  In fact, it’s all over.

You know how they tell you that the population of the South didn’t really start to increase significantly until the invention of the air conditioner?  They aren’t kidding.  There are reasons for this, and August is the main one.  So, instead of listening to a month of, “But I don’t want to go outside!  *whine*  It’s too hot!” we start school at the beginning of August.  This has the lovely secondary effect of us being done with school by the beginning of May, when the weather is frequently lovely and the garden needs a ton of work.

All that being said, I offer (in homage to teachers past who seemed to love the old standby): What I did on my summer vacation, by the Political Housewyf

1.  I made an awning.  Three 2x2x8 treated pine poles, pipe strapping (DH insisted I shouldn’t screw the poles directly into the dock walls), six large screw eyes, six D-rings, a package of huge grommets, some PVC pipe and the stand from the failed patio umbrella (to hold up the fourth corner, where I couldn’t install a pole), and yards and yards of fabric (on sale!).  The D-rings stay in the grommets and hook quickly into the screw eyes.  It takes about two minutes to walk down to the dock and put it up.

And this view is part of why I haven’t gotten a whole lot of blogging done lately…

2.  I read Eats, Shoots, and Leaves.  The cover has a panda with a smoking gun running away.  (If you don’t get it, you need this book!)  I loved it and discovered that some of my odd punctuation practices would be considered proper in British punctuation but not American.  Thanks to my high school English teachers (who were better at imparting grammar than enthusiasm for Shakespeare), none of the grammar rules was new to me, but the book is very funny.

Sticklers of the world unite!  You have nothing to lose but you’re your misplaced apostrophe’s apostrophes’ apostrophes!  (Contrary to what some of you may think after reading my blog, I do know grammar rules… I just choose to break them upon occasion.  And I shall continue to do so. 😉 )

3.  I killed a whole lot of trees doing adoption paperwork.  Our dossier finally went to China in June, got assigned the all-important log-in date (LID) quickly, and… now we wait again.  We hope to see our LOA from China before the end of August, which then triggers- get this- even more paperwork.  But at least we got some updated photos.  (No, no photo here.  Yes, everyone else does, but “everyone else” usually has a adoption-specific website that doesn’t get into criticizing certain governmental policies.)

The good news is that I have rediscovered the joys of the Rumor Queen’s website, populated by number crunching waiting parents who, like me, want more info than the adoption agencies are usually willing to commit to.  (The agency says, “Well, it could be four to six months…” and the number crunching waiting dad says, “The average for the year, over two hundred familes, has been 74 days.”)

4.  I made sushi.  No, no raw fish (which is technically sashimi, a subset of sushi).  A trendy little sushi place in Richmond (I don’t think we’re cool enough or left-leaning enough for it, honestly) had a special one time we were in there on our way back from running adoption paperwork in DC.  They called it Kong’s Lunchbox, and it had tempura-fried banana, peanut butter, and grape jelly in a sushi roll.  The kids adored it, which is why what was supposed to be a photo of happy kids eating sushi has no sushi slices in it.

Ah, there it is, along with some tempura-fried figs and pickled ginger.  Good stuff.  (My DH informed me that the tempura-fried okra was not acceptable.  I suspect it’s because the tempura doesn’t coat heavily enough to disguise the vegetable.)  (Tempura-fried green beans are really good, too.  Start with fresh, raw ones.)

5.  I grew rice, although, really, it’s very low-maintenance, so I can’t claim much credit.  It started out tiny and pathetic.  Recently, though, I told Empress to stand behind it to show off how tall it is… except that you can’t really see her in the photo, the rice is so tall!  So, I took another shot with her in front of it.  The rice seems to take up a ton of water; I’m not keeping it full of water constantly, because of mosquitoes (I let the top of the soil dry just a bit in between floodings), but it does get watered every few days in this heat, especially since it is in a windy location (it makes the nicest swishing sound in the breeze), which could be causing it to lose water faster.  Just this morning, I found a fat, bulging part that is about to erupt into the seed head!  Woo hoo!

6.  I spent way too much at my friend Jen’s favorite local yarn store in DC, Yarn Cloud.  Yarn stores are usually nice, but this one is gorgeous!  Well-lit, easy to navigate, and the yarn is well-arranged.  What do I mean by well-arranged yarn?  Some was stacked neatly on shelves, but lots of it was hung on peg board display hooks, which encourages you to touch the yarn… which is how my bill got so big.  Once you start petting the yarn, all kinds of wonderful projects come to mind, and oh, that linen blend feels interesting and…  (If you’re on a strict budget, DON’T PET THE YARN!)  The priority right now, however, is to get the baby’s blanket on the loom: a single-ply silk blend weft on a plied silk blend warp, both in a gorgeous, deep shade of red.  Yes, photos will be forthcoming whenever I get going.

7.  I pulled my SIL’s Christmas present out again.  It’s an embroidered map of Middle Earth.  I spent more than an hour tying knots to make Mirkwood last night, and it’s nowhere near done.  (As I told her, “The forests are taking hours each, and that’s just the small ones on the fringe of the map that don’t figure in the stories.  I’m not sure I like you this much…”)  I had been avoiding it, because I couldn’t figure out how to do mountains.  I think I figured out a decent solution, but you’ll have to wait for a photo; it’s just too unfinished right now!

As always, I’ve been a bit wordy for “quick takes”, but there it is!  Go check out Jen at Conversion Diary for a weekly dose of 7 Quick Takes from her and dozens of other bloggers.

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(and I get to say that in a not-because-I-need-convincing-today tone!)

In other words, we have very good news.  Which also explains why I’ve been missing again recently.

Last weekend, we had a very nice visit with Jen, the Magpie Knitter, and her husband, both Naval Academy classmates of ours about to leave DC for the West Coast.  After a great deal of wine, beer, hotly contested board games, our three kids making their house look like a bomb exploded in a toy factory, and none of our combined five children sleeping very much… well, we got home tired.  To find a surprise waiting for us.

My father-in-law came over to let the dog out a few times a day and grab the mail for us.  And in the pile of mail on the table by the front door, I found a letter from Immigration.  No, not a problem.  It was our approved form that is the last piece of our dossier.

I had to read it twice to be sure.  We weren’t expecting it for at least another two weeks, if not four.  I had hoped to have it in time to visit our friends in DC, but that didn’t look possible as USCIS slowed down and other things delayed our paperwork just a bit here, a bit there.  When we told our agency we got our immigration approval (I-797, for those of you who know what I’m talking about) in 58 days, they were shocked.

So, the day after returning from DC, I got to drive (with all three kids) back up to Richmond.  We got the copy notarized on the way up, the state authentication office had their stamped sheet done in five minutes, we ran copies, and we stuffed forms and checks for the courier, the State Department, and the Chinese Embassy into an envelope to go to DC.  The courier got it, ran it through, picked it up at the embassy the next day, and got it in the mail.  Meanwhile, our agency had already done their big review of the rest of the dossier, which I’d already finished and mailed, so that cut two more weeks off the process.  Our agency got the authenticated I-797, said the now-complete dossier would be with the translators for a few days, then e-mailed back that same afternoon to say it was done and in the mail.

And tonight, our dossier is on its way to China.

Two of our three adoptions have had very odd coincidences associated with the anniversaries of the deaths of the saints we had picked to name our children after.  Diva’s namesake’s feast day turned out to be the day we were probably starting our initial paperwork for her adoption.  Empress’s namesake’s 150th anniversary of her martyrdom was the day of our appointment at the U.S. Consulate to get the “magic brown envelope” that lets you get back in the country with your new child, generally the last full day you’re in China because it’s the last wicket to clear before you can go home.  Part of the youngest’s saint’s name actually sounds quite a bit like “Kassie”, as in Secret Vatican Spy, who sort of tipped off this whole thing by posting a link to her RCIA sponsor who’d just adopted a child from China through the Special Needs program (and, no, that’s not why we picked that saint; I realized after the fact that, hey, “Kai Zhi” sounds a lot like “Kassie”, what a cool coincidence!).

I had somewhat tentatively asked for another miracle, hoping to at least get the immigration paperwork by the anniversary of our youngest’s saint’s martyrdom.  As various things slowed down and delayed, that began to seem like it would be a stretch.

However, instead of that intermediary step, we could actually have a log-in date around then.  I’m still sort of in shock.

I am reminded of a sermon I heard once on the miracle at the Wedding at Cana.  Not only did Jesus turn the water into wine, he made it exceptionally good wine, and a lot of it.  Several of Jesus’ major miracles went beyond what would have been the bare minimum, and provided an overflow of blessings.  God, the preacher said, does not just meet our bare needs, but often chooses to give us more than we dared hope for.

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