our adventure…life, adoption, and a little bit of everything else
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Posts from — August 2011

Our unconventional family…

Yep, we have one…an unconventional family. As if homeschooling wasn’t “strange” enough for some people, now we have a multi-cultural family also. (insert cheesy grin here) We didn’t exactly start our married life out knowing our family would end up like this. However, I did begin to toss the idea of homeschooling way back when Ali was just a baby. I read an article in a Christian magazine about how well homeschooled children were doing on exams, etc. But back then I was years away from having to make that final decision. But in the end we just felt that homeschooling was the right fit for our family. We were an active duty military family at the time. Uprooting Ali every few years and sticking her in a new school just didn’t appeal to us at all. But even after T.C. left active duty behind, it was still the right choice for our family. Oh and then we felt the Lord leading us to add to our family from Ukraine and then from Ethiopia. Wew…radicals. 🙂 This post is just some thoughts that have been running through my head. The questions we have been asked along the way…and answers to those questions. And wondering WHY people feel the need to constantly ask questions. I don’t ask people why they think it’s ok to stick their kids in public school. Never once.

So I have always wondered why others feel the need to question homeschoolers. Our children are being educated. Period. Does it really matter how that is taking place? The fact that Ali ended her freshman year with all A’s and only one B! (and no that wasn’t me grading her…we send her grades into Abeka Academy based in Pensacola, FL) Not to mention she maintained an incredibly rigorous swim schedule! She is learning and learning quite well actually. Clark has learning difficulties. I shudder to think about what would happen to our little man if he were dumped into a mainstream class. He has blossomed with being schooled at home. He is now watching his classes via DVD’s just like his big sister. He enjoys seeing the other children in the classroom in Pensacola where the classes are filmed. He even interacts, sings the songs, says the poems, etc. It is wonderful to watch him. He is learning to read…albeit a bit slowly since we are dealing with dyslexia. It is not an easy thing to overcome, oh by the way. It has taken tutoring sessions and lots and lots and lots of one on one. He also struggles with ADHD. Dyslexia and ADHD go hand in hand over half of the time. I sure didn’t know that before he was diagnosed. Oh the things you learn that you never think you would ever have to learn. But God has led us on this journey…for that we are certain. There are a lot of things in life we will never understand, we just accept them. Clark has such an incredible, inquisitive mind. I just can’t wait to see where God leads this precious son of ours. Right now we have to look past the learning issues and see that God has such a wonderful plan for him. It will be a blessing to see his little life unfold. Ali on the other hand was always such an easy student. She learned quickly…read by 4 1/2…could memorize at the drop of a hat. So to say it’s been an adjustment is an understatement. But I digress…moving on. I think it will be easiest to type this out with questions we have been asked then the answers.

“Do you worry about socialization?”
This one cracks me up EVERY single time. Are you freaking kidding me? I can’t believe this question is still even out there. Just because we homeschool doesn’t mean we lock our kids inside and discourage outside interaction. I heard a fabulous radio interview years ago with Dr. James Dobson. He was touching on this very subject and I LOVED his answer. It went something like this…do we send our children to school to be socialized or educated? Can I get an amen? I love, love, love that. It changed my perspective. Our children need to be educated first, then socialized. Socialization happens naturally. We don’t have to force that. With homeschooling, we actually have the ability to have input into how that socialization takes place. We go on field trips with a homeschool group, get together with other homeschooling families…and gasp…they even have friends over! Our children are active in church groups, they each are dedicated to their individual sports, and Ali is even an accomplished guitarist. One day we hope the other children will all learn a musical instrument also. They are socialized quite well.

“Do your kids ever wish they went to school?”
Ummmm, they do go to school…our school just happens to be part of our master bedroom. 🙂 Should I start asking public school kids if they would rather be homeschooled? I didn’t think so. So why is it ok to ask the reverse of our children? Strange really. Schooling is such a personal matter that if we EVER felt our children were not benefiting from being schooled at home, of course we would pray about it and see what the Lord would lead us to do at that point. Believe it or not…Ali is 14 (will be 15 in Dec.) and she never ever…no, not even once asked if she could go to public/private school. And she will graduate in just 3 years. (sniff..sniff)

“How will they go to college?”
Seriously, that’s been asked. They will actually graduate with a REAL diploma from Abeka Academy and will even have the opportunity to attend a homeschool graduation in Pensacola, FL with other graduating homeschoolers. Quite cool indeed. They will then take the college entrance exams like everyone else. Yes, they can most certainly go to college.

And then there are the “off the cuff” comments…”oh yeah, your kids don’t go to school”…I mean really? For the umpteenth time…they do attend school…just not in the way you are referring. We don’t sit around and watch T.V. all day (they actually watch very little T.V.). They sit and do their schoolwork like every other kid out there. Ali is even taking Spanish this year!

This is probably coming across like I’m bitter. I’m not…not at all. It is sometimes a little humorous…the things we have been asked. I just felt like addressing some of this. To set the record straight…so to speak.

Then there is ADOPTION. Oh the wonderful world of adoption. It fits our family like a glove. This journey that God in his infinite wisdom has placed our family on. He called us to this. Why is it that we have to explain it again? I don’t ask people I meet with many biological children…”so why did you have so many children again…don’t you know there are children out there that need families.” Wouldn’t that be slightly awkward? Would that question make you fidget just a little? It might be true, but it sure isn’t my place to judge someones choice of how many children to have…whether or not to adopt…and on and on. I usually think that the answer that God called us to it would be enough. But I generally get the deer in the headlights look. But that is alright. Sometimes I think that if I could change just ONE persons view on adoption that all the questions would be worth it. That just once it would click. That adoption is God ordained.
“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” James 1:27
“Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.” Isaiah 1:17

Oh, oh then there is the one that gets me every time…”is Ali your REAL daughter?” Seriously? The first time I was asked this my first thought was, “did you really just ask me that?” I wanted to respond, “well, the last time I checked she was real.” Ha! But I didn’t. I just said, “yes, she is our biological daughter.” I hate that word REAL in reference to a child. All children are real. Clark, Hana, and Haile are every bit as real to us as Ali is. Biology is so overrated. My parenting ability has nothing to do with whether my blood runs through their veins. When we are holding a sick child, does it matter if we are biologically related? When our son falls down and comes running for a hug and a kiss…does it matter that we adopted him half a world away? Not at all. We are his mom and dad and that is ALL that matters. We would give our life for his, just as we would for all of our children.

“What you are doing is wonderful…but I could NEVER do it.”
Yep, heard this one too! We are not saints, people. We are just normal folks raising a less than “normal” family. (or normal according to good old American standards) You know…the white picket fence…with 2.5 children (all the same colored children I might add). Yep, not us. What if we find all that boring? We don’t want a typical life…we want an extraordinary life. A life designed just for us by God himself before the creation of the world. And for us that means one biological, one Ukrainian American, and 2 Ethiopian Americans! (and who knows, maybe God will call us to adopt even more..we don’t foresee that at the moment, but he does surprise us sometimes!) We also love learning about their different cultures. We always want our children to know that we love their birth countries. We especially LOVE Ethiopian food. I am more than excited to incorporate their foods into our family! Yum-yum! Let’s hear it for injera bread…who needs forks when you have injera. 🙂

“Why Ethiopia…there are children here in the U.S. that need homes too”
Yes, we are well aware that there are children here in the U.S. that need a family. If God had put it upon our hearts to do a domestic adoption…well then we would have done so. Truth is, there are children here in TX all the way to the far side of the world and everywhere in between that need a family. Just in Ethiopia alone there are over 5 million orphans. 5 million….let that sink in a minute. So no matter if you adopt here or like us, in Ethiopia, the need is equally as great. Adoption is awesome no matter where it is from!!

“Hana’s hair is going to be hard to handle…do you know ANYTHING about THEIR hair?”
Like I needed others to point out the obvious, right? Of course I don’t know much about THEIR hair. But that’s not to say it is impossible. It will become second nature for me, I’m completely certain of that. I will learn how to care for their dry hair and skin. I’m also certain I will fail miserably…again…I don’t need anyone to point that out. 🙂 If Hana comes to church or an outing looking a little less than magazine worthy…just know I’m learning and it’s a work in progress. It will take us time, there is no doubt. I have already purchased cute headbands and darling bows to help distract you from the obvious. 🙂 I think I’m prepared. Ok, not really…but I’m also not worried about it. I’m going to make a run to Sally’s soon and see what I can find. For Haile the answer is easy…keep it short. The end.

Well, I think I will get down from my soapbox already. Again, I’m not bitter. But before you ask homeschooling families and adoptive families a million and one questions…choose your words wisely. We don’t mind educating others on our family, but sometimes the questions are invasive.

I can’t believe we are already 3 weeks into our school year. I’m so glad we started early. It makes it so much easier throughout the year to take a day here and there for field trips, etc. We also like to take our family vacation early (before schools let out) and starting early allows us to do that! Love it! It helps on crowds and also the hotel rates are lower. Double score!

The children have already had 2 fun “field trips” to start our school year off. Last week they attended one with a homeschool school group to a chocolate shop in The Woodlands. They LOVED it. They learned all about the making of chocolate and even got to make a chocolate bar. To say it smelled good in there, was an understatement. Mmmmmm! Then today we were able to visit a Ukraine exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Check it out here. It was so neat explaining to Clark that all of the artifacts came from his birth country. There were even a few items from the region where he was born!

On the adoption front…we received electronic copies of Hana and Haile’s new birth certificates and court decree. We were overjoyed to see it all in writing! The fact that we are officially their parents. So what’s next? They have to order their passports, receive physicals from the U.S. Embassy (and wait for paper copies of the exams), and submit all of that to the U.S. Embassy. Our agency can only submit cases once a week, on Tuesdays. They also heard from the Embassy that they were not granting any appointments from Aug. 25th-Sept. 5th, but we aren’t sure if that means that they are allowing cases to be submitted during that time. It’s only 12 days in the grand scheme of things…so I’m trying to to worry about that too much. Anyway, once our case is submitted (really praying that happens in the next week or 2) then we wait to be contacted by the U.S. Embassy. They will either accept all the documentation as is, or they could request further clarification, etc. So we are asking that you join us in prayer about this matter. Please pray that Hana and Haile’s case will be accepted as is and we will be invited to travel to get their Visa’s within a matter of days. Oh we want our children home! Knowing we have 4 children but that 2 are still half a world a way…it is so hard to put that into words. But God is God and he is in control. He is still answering prayers and we covet yours! Our home is now ready for our new son and daughter. We have been pondering how to make our house work for all 6 of us. We tossed one idea then another then another. How do you cram a family of 6 in a 4 bedroom home. Keep in mind we don’t have basements here in TX and our home doesn’t have a bonus room. We do have a plan down the road for a small bonus area, but that has to wait until our ship comes in. 🙂 For now we rearranged what was our “playroom” (4th bedroom) and bought the boys a bunk bed for what will be Clark/Haile’s shared room. Can you say it with me…those boys will NEVER get to sleep! Haha! Hana will now have the 4th bedroom. It turned out darling. (especially considering where it started) T.C. painted the walls a beautiful yellow months ago…we gave her Clark’s trundle bed and hung green curtains. I hope she loves it. She even has clothes hanging in her closet. (cute pink and purple clothes I might add!!) Clark is thrilled with their bunk bed! He has made many a fort on the bottom bunk already. He keeps rotating sleeping on the bottom then the top. It is simple and oh so cute. I think they will spend many a hour playing hide out under there! I can picture it now and can’t wait for the day. Oh those boys will have some fun!

We finally have birthdays for Hana and Haile. We have waited a long time for this information. Haile will be 5 in Sept. and Hana will be 8 in Dec. We suspect that Hana is a little older than this, but we will deal with that later. We are just so thrilled to have some dates for them!

Enjoy a few pictures from the last week or two. Ali had a guitar recital this past Wed. She did so wonderfully. God has truly blessed her with the gift of music and we are so thankful for that.

August 20, 2011   1 Comment

He gives and takes away

Last week I had to do one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Something I had dreaded for a LONG time. However, I always said that T.C. would have to do it if it ever had to be done. But, he is in Russia. So, I had to do it by myself. You see, our sweet Timmy dog was 17 years old. That is quite a long life for a little miniature schnauzer. What that furry friend lacked in size he more than made up for in spunk. Up until about a year ago that little bundle of energy ruled the roost around here. Over the past year he really went downhill. He had good days and bad days, but the bad days were coming more frequently. I had to make the tough decision to let him go peacefully and not struggle anymore. We will always miss him. Pets become part of the family…especially when they are spoiled like ours are. But just when my sadness was taking over……………………..

Jesus blessed me with the best news ever on Thursday, Aug. 4th! We are officially the proud new parents to Hana Elizabeth Judd and Haile James Judd. Ok. officially they are Hana Thomas Judd and Haile Thomas Judd. Haha, in Ethiopia they are given the father’s first name as their middle name. (even the girls) But, once we get them home we will be changing their names. We are so excited. It took 3 weeks and 2 days post court for it to be approved. (not that I was counting) The missing letter made it to court and we were approved. There is a chance that their new birth certificates and court decree will come in this week. We are praying! Once those come in and they get their passports and Embassy medical exams, it can all be submitted to the U.S. Embassy for their approval. Please pray all of our paperwork is approved as is and they won’t request further documentation. They have really gotten strict lately on paperwork and asking for documents to be changed/reworded, etc. It is adding more time onto the wait to bring them home.

T.C. left for Moscow, Russia last Friday. He has enjoyed his time there quite a bit. He went to Red Square, horseback riding in the forest, gotten to actually crawl around and touch the first space capsule. He has gotten to see how Russia’s space program works. Very interesting for him!

The children and I took a long weekend and went to Shreveport to visit family. My cousin, Lisa, and her husband hosted a cookout for us. It was SO fun. I’m so thankful I only live 5 hours from them all. They also took us out on the river while we were there so that the kiddos could go tubing. It was about 105 degrees…that’s how much we love Ali and Clark. Ha! It was a lot of fun though. It was fine as long as the boat was moving or we were in the water. My cousin, Cheryl, took us to Jefferson, TX another day to go through some antique shops. (one of Ali’s favorite past times) It is the neatest little town with shops and restaurants. Thanks everyone for showing us a wonderful time. We always love spending time with all of you!

We started back to school week before last. I wanted to start super early this year. We now have wiggle room to allow us to take days off. Not to mention we hope to take Ali to Ethiopia next time and she will miss those days. I now have a 10th grader and a 1st grader. Eek…can’t believe in 3 years Ali will be graduating! Wait, how did I get that old? Summer passed way too quickly as always!

We celebrated yet another year with Samuel Ruslan Clark. We had to celebrate a couple of days early with T.C. leaving for Russia. We went out to our favorite Ethiopian restaurant and afterwards we went out for ice cream. In some ways I can’t believe it has been 4 years, and in other ways it seems he has always been part of our family! It is so neat that our adoption date for Hana and Haile is so close to Clark’s special day. We can just have one big celebration each year. Clark’s day is July 31st, and their day will probably be Aug. 3rd. (we are still waiting on a copy of the adoption decree)

Ali has been at my parents for a few days getting spoiled. Clark will get to go when we are in Ethiopia. Ali had her first driving lesson courtesy of Nona and Poppy! She also got to eat at her favorite lunch spot and spend some time with her cousin, Abby.

So…without further ado we want to introduce Hana and Haile Judd. We can finally legally post pictures of them since we are now their parents! Wahoo! It was brought to my attention by some that they didn’t realize they could view our pictures larger. Just click on the slide show.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. 1 John 4:4-6

August 9, 2011   3 Comments