Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Brilliant List Made By a Fellow Blogger

This is a blog post (most of it, anyway) taken from the blog Single Dad Laughing. If you haven't read it... give it a try.

This is something that EVERYONE should read. No... really.


Courtesy of Single Dad Laughing at

What do you notice about this photo?

Hopefully you just see a father and son. Maybe you see a beautiful bond. Maybe you see love. Maybe you see two awesome human beings. Hopefully you don’t see a damn price tag hanging from Noah’s ear or a child who will never know true happiness.

You see, today when I was at the store with Noah, somebody had the nerve to ask me, right in front of Noah, “how much did he cost?” And this was the second time somebody has asked that absolutely ridiculous and insensitive question to me; I know his mom has heard it too.

You may have noticed that Noah is of a slightly different race than his old man. He’s a quarter Panamanian, quarter Jamaican, and half Caucasian. Noah is my son. Noah was adopted. Trust me, I couldn’t pass on genetics to a kid this beautiful.

And since he was placed with us, his parents, I have learned just how insensitive the world can be to kids who have been placed through adoption. People don’t realize how fragile the minds of young children are. People don’t realize that wording things certain ways can hurt a child, and badly. And with that, I present to you the following list, all taken from personal experiences in the past three years:

Single Dad Laughing’s Guide to Adoption Etiquette:

Never, ever, ever, ask how much a child costs. This includes the phrase, “how much did you pay for him?” First of all, it’s none of your business. Second of all, if you’re interested in adoption, research it through the appropriate channels. Speak with an adoption agency. Adoptive parents don’t purchase children. They simply pay legal fees and agency fees. Just like biological parents pay hospital and doctor bills. Don’t turn the child into nothing more than a commodity.

Never ask if a celebrity inspired the adoption. Believe it or not, Tom Cruise, Connie Chung, and Angelina Jolie did not convince me one way or the other in the biggest decision of my life. Are you serious?
Never ask “where is his real dad?” Forget the fact that it will hurt my feelings. How do you think it will affect my son’s feelings to feel like I’m not a real dad to him? Adoptive parents arereal parents. The term you’re looking for is “birth mother” or “birth father”.

Don’t say things like, “as soon as you adopt you’re going to get pregnant” when you find out somebody is adopting. First of all, there are usually many, many years of pain and financial burden strapped to infertility, treatments, and heartache. Do you really think that what you’re saying will help them? Secondly, while it is funny when it happens, it’s rare.

Never say, “why did she give him away?” Do I really need to explain why this one would hurt a child? The proper term is “placed”. A birth mother and birth father place their child for adoption. And again, it’s personal and none of your business, so don’t ask if you aren’t my BFF.

Don’t say, “it’s like he’s your real son”. This is similar to number three, but worthy of mentioning. He is my real son, damn it.

Don’t say, “do you love him as if he was your own?” Ummm… probably more than you love your little terror, that’s for sure. And again… he is my own, damn it.

Never say things like, “you’re so wonderful to adopt a child”. I am a parent. Just like anybody else with kids.

Don’t start spewing your horrible adoption stories. “This one time, my friend’s sister’s aunt’s dog’s previous owner’s niece adopted a baby and the real dad came back and they took the baby away after they had him for two years.” First of all, it probably isn’t true. Second of all, how would you feel if I told you about all the ways you could lose your child. Adoption is permanent. And in the extremely rare circumstances that something like that happens, it’s not something you should spread because the hurt that exists for all the parties involved must be immeasurable.

Don’t say things like, “is it hard for him to be adopted?” Well, it wasn’t, until you asked me that right in front of him.

I don’t want to hear about your second cousin who was on a waiting list for twelve years and never got a baby. Granted, this one was much more annoying when we were going through the adoption process. Nobody wants to know that some people never get chosen. Show some kindness. Especially to those who you know might have a long wait ahead of them.

That’s all I can think of right now, but I know there are more. Just be sensitive. Don’t put your nose where it doesn’t belong. Respect my father-son relationship for what it is and don’t lessen it. Don’t talk about my son like he’s not even there or too little to understand. Or do, if you’re okay with a swift kick to the face.

I understand that I’m not being super politically correct here, but I’m a little bit ticked off about what happened today. And understandably, so is the old woman I sent away with a major grunt of disapproval. I know she meant no harm.

Dan Pearce, Single Adoptive Dad Laughing


Now I'm going to answer his question "What do you notice about this photo?"

What I notice is a handsome man and an equally handsome little boy who look very happy and relaxed. The little boy has skin that glows and looks as if he's been dipped in honey. He's absolutely GORGEOUS. The man looks happy and proud. That's it. It didn't enter my mind that he might be adopted and even if he was... what would be the point of asking? It's rude and hurtful to be singled out and reminded that you look different from those around you.

I know that this is going to happen with Crista. There will be (at some point) the inevitable questions and comments. It's true that her facial features are very similar to mine and her eyes are a beautiful deep brown like her father and brothers' eyes. But where we are all pale and pink, Crista is lovely and golden skinned.

Which is actually funny since we live in Texas and there is a large Hispanic population here. She doesn't stand out at ALL. People assume she's Hispanic. lol She's not, btw. Ethnically, she's Roma (or Romany, Romani... Gypsy, if you will).

None of that is really important to anyone except us, though. To us, she's our little Bulgarian beauty... our golden girl, our precious daughter. We love her and she loves us. That's all that should matter to anyone outside of our family and close friends.

We're proud of our daughter's heritage and love the country where she was born. I never imagined that I would do more than just enjoy a visit to a foreign country... that I would ever fall completely in love with another culture, but I did. Bulgaria is the most amazing place and the Bulgarian people are (in general) kind, generous, and welcoming people. Please don't think I'm looking at Bulgaria through rose colored glasses of naivete. I'm not. Bulgaria is an eastern European, post-Soviet country that has been through an enormous amount of upheaval since the fall of the Soviet Union. It is one of the poorest (economically) countries in Europe and although it is a part of the European Union, it's economy is still too weak for them to be able to switch to the euro.

Bulgaria is a country of contrasts. It is as old as civilization itself and yet as a modern post-soviet nation, it is still very young and still finding it's way now that it has regained it's independence. The streets of the Capital (Sofia) sport shops like Bulgari, Versace, Lacoste, and many others. Italian designers and their shops sit just around the corner from open air markets where you can buy cheap souvenirs and "soviet memorabilia" (99% fakes, btw). Wealth and poverty blend in a mishmash of new wealth and old world destitution. It is a country of extremes in certain ways. To western eyes, it can be shocking to drive down the highway and see farmers taking crops to town in horse drawn carts made of old pickup truck beds, or sheet metal slats that have been tied together around a flat cart in order to contain their cargo. In smaller towns and villages, the streets are clean and tidy. Not because they have street sweeping trucks like almost every city in America. But because groups of housewives roam the streets in the early mornings chatting and gossiping while they sweep the streets and sidewalks clean with their brooms.

I'm sorry. It seems that I've left my original subject and gotten lost in my memories of my dear Bulgaria again. It's strange to think that although I only had two weeks in that beautiful land, I miss it very much. It felt like home in so many ways that I can barely describe. Even the food reminded me of my grandmother's cooking. Which makes absolutely NO sense since she was descended from Scottish and English ancestors almost exclusively!

I know that I should spend more time and round out this blog post... make it a bit more structured and organized. But I'm not. I'm just going to leave you with this:

Any time you meet a family that includes a child you think "must" be adopted... don't ask. Really, it's none of your business. All that should matter is that they are a family and a child is in a loving home. If you want to learn more about their story or about adoption, get to know them. Make friends and take the time to get to know them well enough for THEM to feel comfortable bringing up the subject if they choose to do so. But whatever you do, don't ask questions in front of their (or any other) children. Even if the family is open about their adoption, you may be planting the seed of "I'm different" or "I don't fit in" in a child's fragile heart and mind. And make no mistake... the hearts of adopted children are fragile and extremely easy to hurt even if they don't show it to you.

With love to you all... more to follow,


A photo of Crista with her kind and loving foster mother

A photo of Crista's wonderful and beautiful foster sister Aleksandrina.

My daughter was blessed to share their home for 5 wonderful months while she waited for us to be able to bring her home.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I've been terrible...

We're home with Crista!  We brought her home in mid-March.
Things have been so hectic... so amazing and crazy that I have completely neglected my blog.
I'll update this soon and tell you all about our gotcha trip.
Here's a little photo for you all until then....

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Share and win during Lent

Just visit this website to find out how!  It's called Forty to forever.  Their goal is to help 39 families and one sweet orphan raise money for their adoption costs and to spread the word about these children and their need for loving homes.
Please consider making Forty to Forever part of your Lenten season this year.

Because every child deserves moments like this.

Listen up!

 I was just told that someone made a disparaging remark on Facebook about the fact that we need to take one of our children with us for the gotcha trip and I would like to clear up some misunderstandings. (Before anyone asks... it doesn't matter who said what.  That's not what this post (rant, diatribe, etc) is about.)

Yes, we are taking on of our children with us on our trip to bring Christiana home.

We are not taking our son who has autism. (Deacon)  He will be staying here at home (his Rara (grandma) will be staying with him.. and with Jasper) because his autism would make a trip like this EXTREMELY traumatic for him.  He could not handle the sensory issues involved in airplanes, airports, new foods (he has feeding issues and gi issues), etc.  We will be spending almost 24 hours travelling nonstop.  We would never want to put him through that kind of stress and hardship.

We are taking our son James (who is 6).  He can handle the trip much better than our 3 year old can... and unlike Jasper... he will be able to benefit from this experience.

I want to stress this to everyone... WE ARE NOT doing this frivolously.  We aren't taking him because it will be "fun" or like some kind of vacation.  We're taking him because we need to take one of the kids with us and he is the child that will do the best on the journey and we hope that he will learn from this experience and grow in his spirit, heart, and mind.

There was some discussion about overnight layovers in foreign countries (Paris, for example) in one of the adoption groups.  I know that at least one family plans to do this.  If our flight had an overnight or very long layover, (some do, most don't) it would be awesome to see a city like London, Frankfurt, or Paris (typical stops for flights to B).   But it's not likely and we're not tying to do that.  Sure, it would be fun... but it would also be a large, added expense.  We're trying not to have any of those!

We are VERY mindful of the money that we have been entrusted with!  Please note that I don't say "given".  We haven't been given these funds.  We've been entrusted with money that is intended for a specific purpose - paying for our adoption and adoption related travel expenses.  We are budgeting very strictly and have already planned to donate any remaining money (once we're home) to other families in need.  I've posted this before.

I don't look at this as "our" money.  I never have.  That's why I've always (with a couple of exceptions... money to pay shipping costs, for example) asked that donations be made to our FSP. I've wanted as much as possible to be designated "her" money so that if something happened with our adoption... Crista would have a better chance of finding a family - and that family would have an easier time bringing her home.

Once we're home, we plan to continue fundraising for other adoptive families and orphaned children.  We plan to begin with families who are still working toward their OWN gotcha trips.  There are a LOT of families out there who are in need and we plan to help them as much as we are able.

We are not treating this money frivolously and we will not waste any of  it.  We are doing what we feel is really necessary.

Once we're home (and before we leave if we can get our tickets bought and food/lodging paid for) I will still be crafting, selling, donating, and advocating my butt off!  I know that some people see their gotcha trip as reaching "the end of the rainbow".  Let me tell you, folks, it's not.  You can ask anyone who has adopted... the gotcha experience is JUST THE BEGINNING.  It's just like having a baby.  Pregnancy ends once you give birth (adoption process), but a whole new journey begins at that point!  You're getting to know a whole new person and adding them into your family.  It's a process that changes everyone.

We haven't committed ourselves (and our lives) to just Christiana.  We've committed ourselves to orphaned children AND the families who are adopting them.  We plan to keep moving forward.  Whether that means just advocating and helping other families or adopting again in the future... I don't know.  I do know that we're in this for the duration.

And with that in mind... we will continue doing what we've done all along in this process.  We'll be budgeting, pinching pennies, crafting, fundraising, and trying to get the most impact from EVERY CENT we're entrusted with!

I'll try to wrap this up now.  Yes, we're still fundraising.  We still need around $400 to meet a small, last minute matching grant that was generously offered to us.  Once we have that, and the proceeds from the facebook auction that ends on Tuesday, we should have enough money to pay for our plane tickets, food, hotel, and embassy costs (pretty minor... an exam and a small fee, I think) for our daughter's visa to enter the US and become a United Stated citizen upon arrival.  That's it!  That's all we have left to raise... all we have left to do to complete our adoption and get our daughter home.

One more thing I would like to add...
This blog and my voice on facebook has done more than just record our adoption journey and boost our fundraising efforts.  I'm very proud to say that because we've shared this with all of you, seven families have come to me privately to either inquire about a particular child, ask advice about choosing an adoption agency, or for advice on committing to adopt a child.  It has also allowed me to have support when I've needed it during this last year.
Communication is an amazing thing.  I urge you to give it a try.  Many days you will think you have nothing to say... that no one will read it... that it won't matter.  I've thought these same things so many times.
But this week I was shown by my dear friend "Ammu" that I was wrong.  People are listening and my words matter.

I'm going to end (I know... finally!) with the Starfish Story because "it matters to this one" is my favorite message and one that we all should remember.

The Starfish Story

adapted from The Star Thrower

by Loren Eiseley
(1907 - 1977)

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, so he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out, "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The young man paused, looked up and replied, "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

As if he hadn't heard, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he turned, smiled and said, "It made a difference to that one!"

Make a difference.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Some good news: the final push

On Thursday, the 7 day mandatory wait will have ended and our adoption decree will be final!  Our daughter will OFFICIALLY be a Matthews!

I'm so very excited.  The following week we should receive the dates when we can travel to bring her home! As soon as her little foot steps onto US soil... she will automatically become a US citizen.  How amazing and beautiful is that?

Other good news... we've been offered not one, but TWO matching grants totaling $1,250!  For those who don't know - a matching grant is one where a donor asks you to raise a certain amount of money and when you meet that goal... they give you the same amount, doubling what you have already raised!

Once we match the $1,250 that has been pledged, they will donate the same amount and WE WILL BE FULLY FUNDED!!!  We will be able to go and bring our daughter home as soon as her government says we can!

So if you want to get one of my mystery gifts (hair clippies, key fobs, button bobbies, and more), just go to our link and make a donation!  Then email me at and I will send you something amazing as a great big thank you for helping me bring my baby girl home!!  The link to our adoption fund is at the top right side of this screen.

I'm so excited.  I wish I could make you all understand just how VERY excited I am.  In just a few weeks I will see my daughter again.  But this time... I won't have to say goodbye. Not ever again!!

One last thing...
Could I ask another favor from those of you reading this?  Could you please share this on your own blogs, Facebook pages, etc?


Saturday, February 2, 2013

The best news yet!

Our adoption has been granted!  Crista is officially our daughter.  

We have a mandatory 7 day wait for the judge's ruling to be final and then another 4-5 days before our lawyer gets our court decree.  

But she's ours and in about 2 weeks, we should receive our travel dates to bring her home for GOOD!  

We're almost fully funded for this trip, but still need to raise another $2600 to pay for our travel.  So... I've decided that anyone who donates $20 (or more) and forwards their email receipt to me will get a thank you gift from our family!  The gifts are mystery gifts. After all... doesn't everyone love a surprise?  You could get a key fob, a hair clippie, or any number or other things.  It's our way of saying thank you for helping us bring our baby home.  

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Big news!

I know that I haven't been the best blogger.  I always seem to be apologizing for that.
But what can I say?  Life gets in the way of good intentions.  I have 3 small boys, am in the middle of an adoption, and have other friends who are adopting and need help.  I stay pretty busy.

For those of you who don't read The Blessing Of Verity, you should go over today and read the post about 40 to Forever.  We're one of the 40 children and families who will benefit from this event.  It's an amazing project that goes through the Lenten season.  There will be devotions and prize giveaways every day!  It's going to be amazing!  Our day to be featured is February 25th (day 11).

Ok... now for the big news!

Since my last blog, we've gained our I800 approval from the US government and the ministry signature from our daughter's government. If all goes well, a judge will approve our adoption tonight in the wee hours.  (They are 8 hours ahead of us, so they will be working while we still sleep!) Our daughter will officially become a Matthews 10 days later (their mandatory waiting period for the adoption to take effect).

So please pray hard for us tonight dear friends.  We're so close to our goal!  If all goes well and our adoption is granted tonight, we will be able to bring her home soon!  We're hoping to travel in early March.