Tuesday, January 10, 2012

How Do You Measure Debt?

Debt is a common word in adoption land. Some discuss how to avoid it when adopting, others discuss how they survive it when adopting.
Many years ago, before we ever seriously contemplated adopting and before adoption was on the rise internationally, our friends were fundraising to bring home their child in Russia. They did numerous fundraisers and frequently sent out letters updating friends and family on their process (this was even before bloggy world became so useful!). These letters also contained info on how to go about donating or participating in a fundraiser to help cover expenses incurred with their adoption. I honestly did not get it or, rather, did not want to get it. Why would someone ask for money to bring home a child?
A 3 year old child. A 3 year old little girl in a cold, wet orphanage. A three year old little girl who went to bed at night without hugs and kisses, without someone to kiss her boo-boos; a three year old little girl who no one wanted except our friends who were desperately trying to raise money so that they could bring her home, love her, hold her and be her forever family. And what did we do to help? Nothing. It was not on our hearts. We did not understand. We didn't "get it."
Instead, we were much more into "getting" how we could purchase the many-thousands-of-dollars car that we wanted and the electronics that were top-notch and the clothes that we would soon grow out of and the jewelry that would go out of style sooner rather than later. After all, that is what people spend their money on - their desires, their "needs." We did this too well and incurred debt while doing it. Today, we have nothing to show for it; nothing but thoughts of how we should have used that money, how we could have used that money.
Fast forward several years. Adoption became a reality in our lives. And the money needed to adopt became a burden to our finances. We could have said no, but we didn't. Instead, we trudged forward and piece-mealed a plan of our own on how we would afford adoption. We never asked for help; we spent many nights working through the "what-ifs" and we worried endlessly how we were going to bring home a baby girl, one who needed several surgeries, one who needed therapies. One who needed a family.
Our Mason-Kate.
Even through this we did not "get" fundraising and/or helping families who are seeking to adopt. Our thought was pretty much that if one wanted to adopt a child, they should plan accordingly and have the finances upfront. Or not adopt.
Fast forward two years. MK is thriving. We managed to refinance our home (yes, this is always an option for the willing) and our debt was paid. AND, we had a three year old baby girl to show for it. A happy, well adjusted, little girl who went to bed at night knowing that she would awaken the next morning to a house full of love for her. Our plans to build our family once again through adoption became a reality. However, this time, we wanted to adopt "debt free." Hmmmm.
We tried. Really. And we thought the adoption would take so much longer. And, thankfully, it didn't. However, it is hard to come up with a mere $30,000 in just 10 months.
We will forever be indebted to those who willingly gave to us. The goodness. The love. I cannot tell you how many people sent money and said, "I wish we could do more!" What these folks did not know was that with each piece of money we were given, the large amounts and the small, we were taught so much more. Kindheartedness. No one who is adopting wants to ask for money. Choosing to ask is a humbling experience. Choosing to invest in a life, a deserving life that God has called each of us to do, is even more humbling. Finally, after two adoptions, we get it.
We get that adoption costs are a burden; raising the child is expensive enough. We get that the child may have needs beyond your average child; multiple surgeries, therapies that are not covered by insurance, dental work that was unforeseen; we get it. We also get that each child is so easy to look over until they become yours; or, until, they become a part of you. Through our girls, we continue to learn so many life lessons that we would have easily looked over had they not been a part of God's plan for our family. For this, I am so very thankful.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Boy Trip - Day 2

Thank you to Gran and Pop for making our Islands of Adventure day possible! (And for taking extra special care of the girls for us while we were away!)

Ryan wasted no time stating what was on his A-List of rides - the Hulk. The boys begged him not to go and I egged him on to try it out. He rode. And screamed like a girl. And loved.every.minute.of.the.ride.
The boys had other priorities. Harry Potter Land. Having read all of the books and seen all of the movies, they were mesmerized and it took them no time to warm up the the seemingly real life land of Harry Potter.
I, on the other hand, have not read the books and have seen only the first movie. And that was a very long time ago. However, I was taken with the authentic looking set. It never ceases to amaze me the way the theme parks dress every "land" up to the most perfect tee.
And Harry Potter Land was no exception. It was like being in the movie. The shops. The train. The food. Every little detail.
After withdrawing ourselves from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, we immersed ourselves in taking in more sites of the park. Along the way, we spotted a little boy feeding this little squirrel. The boys thought it a funny site to see a squirrel eating a french fry.
And eventually the real adventure began. Or ended, however you choose to look at it ;> At some point, Ryan jokingly questioned my sense of adventure. Well throughout the course of the day, I took this to heart and upon our last hour in the park, we came upon a rafting ride. As a child, I LOVED a good rafting ride. Somehow over the years, though, I have lost track of the many wet memories I have shared upon said rafting experiences. Keeping in mind that it is January, mid-60 degree temps, I convinced the boys to ride the rafts with me. I figured wet pants would be ok....we all figured out how we could salvage our shirts post-ride. We knew we were going to get wet.
So we got on the raft and dutifully packed our shoes and socks into the center console to stay dry. Then, we cuddled down into the puddles of ice cold water that was pooled into our seats, buckled up and the ride began full force. Colin got splashed on a good bit; Pryce was pretty wet; I, of course, was drenched beyond measure in the nastiest, most chlorinated water EVER. I may as well had jumped in for a swim. It was "epic" as the boys often say. Every opportunity for one to get wet sprang upon me. There was a couple on our boat wanting to get wet - they may have had wet shoes by the end of the ride, I got all of their water too!
And, so, as the sign above reads, the adventure lives on! So thankful for the opportunity to spend quality time with my boys and Ry. So glad that my girls were spoiled beyond measure at home with their grandparents. Loving this season of life!

Boy Trip

A big thank you to G-Mom and G-Dad for our Legoland Adventure! The boys were given tickets to visit the newest theme park in Orlando and the four of us took off for some "big kid time" in Florida. Fabulous!
We were all amazed at the site of the little Lego cities on display. Below is Miami Beach....New York was a fav of mine and Las Vegas was incredible!
Of course, a theme park would not be a theme park without a bit of riding adventure. This jet ski style ride was a favorite of all of the boys, big and little :)
The bouncer and the roller coasters were also top entertainment throughout our day. Luckily, the crowds were small and the guys were able to ride and ride and ride.
Alas, our day came to an end. The boys curled up next to this Lego dude and didn't think twice about catching some zzzz's before our departure!