our adventure…life, adoption, and a little bit of everything else
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Posts from — December 2009

Christmas came and went…bring it on 2010!

I can’t believe Christmas has come and gone. Our prayer is that we keep the spirit of Christmas in our hearts way past the taking down of the tree! We had a wonderful Christmas this year. After the children received their gifts and we had a nice breakfast together, we loaded up the car and headed to Lake Charles to see my family. We spent what was left of Christmas Day enjoying a meal with my parents and my brother and his family. That evening we had our gift exchange, and just enjoyed being together. Children and lots of presents equals wrapping paper EVERYWHERE and some kiddos that were on cloud nine! The rest of the weekend was spent trying to organize and find room for all of the Christmas loot. We ended up buying a new shelving/cubby unit to house it all. 🙂

Our adoption process is creeping right along, considering the holidays. I have been gathering/ordering some necessary documents, getting our fingerprints taken, getting some background checks, and beginning the home study process. We HOPE to have our dossier ready to send in for authentication by early spring. The sooner we can complete our dossier, the sooner our dossier will be sent to Ethiopia for approval. (and that means the sooner we can bring our children HOME!!!!)

Some photos from Christmas…

December 30, 2009   No Comments

“The Blind Side” — Reflections on Adoption

Yesterday, we enjoyed our first free weekend afternoon in December by heading to the theater to see “The Blind Side.”  In case you are unfamiliar with the story, as I was before yesterday, here’s the summary from the movie’s website:

Teenager Michael Oher is surviving on his own, virtually homeless, when he is spotted on the street by Leigh Anne Tuohy.  Learning that the young man is one of her daughter’s classmates, Leigh Anne insists that Michael–wearing shorts and a t-shirt in the dead of winter–come out of the cold.  Without a moment’s hesitation, she invites him to stay at the Tuohy home for the night.  What starts out as a gesture of kindness turns into something more as Michael becomes part of the Tuohy family despite the differences in their backgrounds.

Through the course of the story (i.e., Oher’s real life), Michael journeys from a violent, drug-wracked upbringing — where he was in-and-out of the foster care system, attended eleven different schools in nine years, and entered his sophomore year of high school with a 0.6 GPA — to an All-American college football player for Ole Miss and a 2009 NFL first-round draft pick for the Baltimore Ravens.

Perhaps the best short summary is the movie’s trailer itself:

As I sat there in the dark, one hand holding the hand of my 13 year-old daughter and the other holding my 5 year-old son in my lap, the impact of this movie hit home like a freight train…in two ways.

For starters, our daughter has no real grasp of the reality behind the drug and poverty-related violence and lifestyle portrayed in Oher’s upbringing.  Talking about the movie afterward, I realized she had no idea that people lived in very similar circumstances only a few miles from our home.  While she knows intellectually about such things, she has (fortunately) never experienced them first-hand and didn’t really understand how physically close to home such suffering, pain, and hardship really exists.

In addition to my daughter’s epiphany, seeing the violence toward the end of the movie where many of Oher’s acquaintances are gunned down in various drug-related shootings made me hold on to my son even tighter.  In case you didn’t know, we adopted our son from Ukraine in 2007, just over two years ago.  Statistically speaking, like Michael Oher, if our son had stayed where he was, he didn’t stand a chance.  To put it into perspective, here are the statistics (from here):

  • Ukrainian orphans typically grow up in large state-run homes, which may house over 200 children.
  • Many children run away from these homes, preferring to live on the street.
  • Children usually graduate from these institutions between 15 and 16 years old and are turned out, unprepared for life outside the home.
  • About 10% of them will commit suicide after leaving the orphanage before their 18th birthday.
  • 60% of the girls will end up in prostitution. Those who run prostitution rings target orphaned girls, who are especially vulnerable due to their lack of options and lack of people who care what happens to them. Though promised good jobs, they end up on the streets and brothels of cities across Europe.
  • 70% of the boys will enter a life of crime. Many of these will die young of violence or end up in prison. Most inmates contract TB in prison.

The point of these statistics isn’t to pat ourselves on the back for doing something so noble as adopting, far from it.  The point is this:  there are hundreds of millions of children around the world just like Michael Oher and our son.  Some of them live five miles away, some of them live thousands of miles away.

How can we help them?  How could we possibly not?

(photo from https://www.4orphans.com)

December 22, 2009   No Comments

Teenager in the house!

On Dec. 18, 1996 at 5:45pm our precious Alexandra Paige entered the world. Our lives will never be same. She is full of life, loves her family, loves to aggravate her brother, loves dark chocolate, loves swimming and playing guitar, loves her friends, loves listening to music, and LOVES and I mean LOVES Joe Jonas. She brings much joy to our family. We love you sweet girl, can’t believe you are now a teenager. Gone are the days of those chubby legs running around hearing the little crunchy sound of diapers. I wish I would have savored those days a little more. Childhood is so fleeting.

Ali chose a “dinner and a movie night” themed party this year. She had 8 other children over for dinner (what do you eat at the movies, none other than hot dogs of course!) and then they watched a movie…complete with popcorn, and LOTS of candy! Once the movie was over and the sugar started kicking in…T.C. just did what any respectable father would do and brought out the video camera. 🙂 Those kids were bouncing off the walls. It truly was a joy to watch them just enjoy being kids. With the exception of the noise level being through the roof, they were all good kids! Of course cell phones started flying out of pockets as they discussed what all their phones did. Ha! Can you believe some even texted each other AT THE PARTY. Huh? One guy yells out, hey so and so…check your phone! My how times change!

Clark had a fun outing Saturday morning. The church where he goes to Mother’s Day Out had “Santa and Snow.” Inside their gym they had pictures with Santa, face painting, cookie decorating, and breakfast…outside they had a sledding hill and snow pile. Yes, even in Dickinson, TX kids were able to play in a pile of snow! The kids all had a blast. However, it started melting and turning to mud…and we saw more than one kiddo take a handful of that melting mess and lick it. GROSS, but as we say, “better than a flu shot.” Ha!

Our adoption updates are going to be very, very boring for a while. Right now we are trying to get through a little of the training that our agency requires for international adoption. We have to read a specific adoption book and take an online quiz, watch a 2 DVD set on Ethiopian adoptions, and do 8 hours of online training classes. Our home study will get underway shortly. Right now our social worker is waiting on us to sign an agreement and send in the first 1/2 of the payment. That is one thing with international adoption, you are always paying someone! 🙂 God has been blessing us with little amounts of surprise money that we weren’t expecting. It is such a blessing when God surprises us like that, and makes paying all these fees just a little easier. For now we are leaning on John 14:18. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. ” Like we always said about Clark, God planned for these children to be our children before the foundation of the world, and for that I am forever humbled.

We hope each and every one of you will turn your hearts and minds towards the stable this Christmas. Christ came to us in the form of a helpless babe, and was named the name about all names. Our baby Jesus is anxiously awaiting his arrival to our nativity scene on Christmas morn. We hope to make the children pause a moment before digging into their presents, to recognize the most important present given to us so many years ago. Merry Christmas from our home to yours.

(always like to add a little Clark humor…last night Clark got out of bed to let the cat out of his room and decided to take a little stroll down the hall, and T.C. called up to him for him to get back in bed and he said “ok Dad, just calm down.” Oh wow, this kid always has something to say!)

December 20, 2009   No Comments

Care4kids

We wanted to put a little plug on here about a wonderful fundraiser our adoption agency has going on. It is called Care4kids, and they are raising money to stock the shelves of Acacia Village. Acacia Village will be a mini village with a children’s home, medical facilities, women’s center, housing for adoptive parents, and a chapel. Click HERE to go to the website. You can read all about Care4kids, Acacia Village, and also view a Christmas catalog to help purchase items for Ethiopian orphans. So if you love to help those in need during the Christmas season, this would be a phenomenal way to do so.  You can also read all about why it is called Acacia Village, lovely comparison with the Acacia tree.  Our hearts long to go to Ethiopia and bring home our future children.

Well, we really haven’t gotten started on our adoption just yet. We will be taking an online orientation for the Ethiopian program probably this week. We have contacted a social worker that will be writing our home study, and I assume we will begin that process after Christmas.  We are anxious to get started, as the sooner we get started…the sooner we will get to Ethiopia. We ask you to begin praying for our future children…for their health, birth families, protection, that they will be nurtured and loved, and so much more. Just as God protected Samuel Ruslan Clark until we could bring him home, we know he will do the same for these children.

I can’t believe our first-born will be 13 years old on Friday! What, a teenager? How quickly they grow up! She will be having a “dinner and a movie” themed party at our house on Saturday night. She is so excited. T.C. is going to grill hot dogs, then they will watch a (not too childish…as Ali puts it!!) movie while enjoying popcorn and candy!  That’s right, sugar them up and send them home. 🙂

I think I am about finished with our Christmas shopping. But just when I think I am done, I remember something I had forgotten. Ha! Anyone else like that? Leave me some comments people….have any neat family traditions you would like to share? Ours aren’t real exciting, but they are OUR traditions, and that’s all that matters. We like to go to Starbucks and drive around and look at Christmas lights, the kids always make a gingerbread house (a train this year..and yes, I cheat and buy the kits!!), Christmas cookies, kids always do some type of Christmas craft (ornaments usually), Advent devotions (in which we are never as consistent as we want to be!!) , etc. So share some of yours!!

Ok, this is funny…Ali had a swim meet this weekend and she was trying to pick out a shirt to buy at the meet and she came across this one: Reasons for a girl to swim   1. gold medal…no, 2. scholarship…not quite, 3. guys in speedos…yes!!!!!!    T.C. gave that one a BIG FAT NO, NO, NO!!! Hahaha! Not that Ali would have bought it, she thinks speedos are gross (hold that thought, Ali!!!!) but she sure thought it was funny!

Clark saw Santa last night! We went to the Dickinson Festival of Lights. Thank goodness Santa didn’t smell of liquor like he did a couple of years ago!! Hahaha! No kidding, guess he was trying to keep warm that year.

Clark is lucky he is alive right now…he walked up to T.C. and announced, “I know what Ali got you for Christmas…I’m just teasing…yes, she got you a tie.” After some DIRTY looks, and many words from Ali, hopefully he won’t do that again. She was SOOOOOOOOOOOO mad at him! Ha..kids!

December 13, 2009   No Comments

Anticipating Jesus’ birth

It has been a while since I last posted. Life is passing at an incredible rate these days. I can’t believe Christmas is around the corner. My wish right now is for things to slow down so we can savor and anticipate what is to come…the celebration of the birth of our savior! Our wish for our children is to turn their hearts toward the manager on that night so long ago. Society just wants to turn their hearts towards STUFF…and getting more and more of it. Ugh, so difficult to keep them focused on the true meaning.

Well, we have some big, big news in the Judd house this Christmas season! We are expecting 2 children, but as T.C. pointed out in our Christmas letter…no, I’m not pregnant with twins! 🙂 We have begun the adoption process for 2 children from Ethiopia. We both feel that God is leading us there to add 2 children to our family. We will just trust in Him to provide financially, as it will be a leap of faith on our part. God is most definitely in control. Ethiopia alone has 5 million orphans, wrap your heads around that for a moment. That is so heartbreaking. It will be a lengthy process, of course, maybe in the ballpark of 12-18 months…but we know from experience, the wait is so worth it.

We hope each and every one of you has a blessed Christmas season.

Thanksgiving and the Nutcracker

December 5, 2009   No Comments