God's Child, Our Joy

An adoptive family's journey in faith and life

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The car the brought us our future

We mark the moments when we shift to a different stage of our lives. The person that emerges from that moment is different than the person who entered it. Your first kiss, your first paycheck and your first moment with your child are just some of those rites of passage that we experience. We anticipate (or perhaps even fear) these moments because we know we can’t go back to the way things used to be but we also need these because they may make life better.

We just passed one of these angst filled rites of passage, one that so many dread and make definitive declarations about how they will never do it. We now own a minivan.


The minivan is the ultimate function over form. Its big, looks like a loaf of bread, and it’s sexiest feature allows you to collapse the seats to make more storage. It conveys to the world “Hey, I don’t care about impressing you anymore, I’m going in comfort.” Minivan, the sweatpants of vehicles.

Even still, it was a no-brainer for us. The car was good to us, but watching Eva eat her knees while sitting in it just showed that it wasn’t working for us. We also had started to reach critical mass with Christmas. The CR-V is great, but packing for a trip back to Iowa and lugging home gifts was getting difficult. Plus, whenever we’d have visitors it would be nice to all pile into one vehicle instead of two.

We decided to go with the Odyssey. We were already in the Honda family with the CR-V and have loved it so far. We did check out all the minivan options at the Dayton Auto Show, and still came away with wanting the Odyssey.

(This next paragraph will make high school Scott and any gear head die a little inside.)

The features of the Odyssey are pretty neat. Push button start, a door that unlocks by just putting your hand on the handle, easy hideaway rear seats, climate control, push button calls via your Bluetooth device, and sliding apart mid row seats (perfect for adjusting your car seats).

We decided to sell the car on our own. Not as awesome as you’d think it would be. We placed ads a few places on-line and the responses can be categorized like this:

Obvious Scam

(From California) “Is your AD still available for sale. Shipper coming to look at it. Do you have paypal so i can send payment now?”

“Hi, about ur addvartizzmennt on the innterrrnet. Pls msg me at (gmail) to kconfirrrm pprricee and avvaillabbility.”

Probably a Scam

“It still For sale ? please reply me back asap to my personal email at (gmail) because am unable to reply back on this number this my office number. Bye”

Text msg from one Gmail that lists the contact as another Gmail. Also asks for rock bottom price after being listed for less than 12 hours.

Let’s Trade

As with any response, could be a scam (picture they sent was not their car, their car is a lemon, etc.)

The Promising Lead (that isn’t)

Every contact was from a long distance number (not unusual with an Air Force Base near and cell phones), but we got one from a local number who wanted to see it. Gave him a potential time and place and…never heard back. Could have lost interest in the 10 minutes I took to reply, or since I offered to meet at a public place he figured out he couldn’t use my bathroom and steal my meds.

The “Helping” Hands

On the Monday after the ad posted, three different websites called to offer their services in selling our car for a nominal fee. How generous! Special algorithms! Dedicated experienced sellers! How could I lose!

The Winner

We refreshed our Craigslist ad and boom we got a solid car offer.  We met the next morning before work, and finished the sale at lunch.  One less thing to worry about.


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The Acura was just an object in some ways.  It got us from Point A to Point B, but in some ways it meant so much more.  It was Steph’s first newish car which always will hold a little place in her heart.

It’s place in our family history is cemented in more than that.  Point A to B was Omaha to Dayton, bringing us to where our family would grow.  The car carried our growing family around, and when funds were needed to bring Eva home the car provided them.  Then once our family outgrew it, the car provided once last great test drive, one last great impression, and one last infusion of money towards that minivan.  The car wasn’t so much a vehicle, but a Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Car”, it’s last deed was to give itself up for our family.


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Does everyone have a traumatic balloon story? Most balloon stories involve a balloon that floated away from them or popped unexpectedly. My story comes from when I was kid, maybe 6 years old. We had just finished eating at the Ground Round, and they gave us a balloon. A box of crayons was tied on the end of the balloon to hold it down, one of those two crayon boxes they give kids at restaurants. We got home and I placed the balloon down outside, most likely to tie me shoe as I did that a lot.

The balloon was placed on a table and a little gust of wind came through the carport. The box that held the balloon tipped ever so slightly, just enough that the two crayons held inside spilled out and landed on the cement below. The balloon, unencumbered with the crayons, abandoned me for the the summer breeze leaving me behind never to ponder me again.

Balloon stories are always more traumatic than they should be. They happen to us when we were kids and most impressionable. The balloon’s lifespan is just so short, and it always leaves us so dramatically. It either goes away in a loud, instant explosion that lets everyone know it’s done all it’s going to do, or it makes a quick escape out of our reach and taunts us from the sky for a very long time.

Eva and Eli are at an age where balloons are just awesome. We like to eat at Red Robin (yum) and after the meal is finished we grab a balloon on the way out (well, two balloons now). Unfortunately, we’ve run into a bit of an unlucky streak with the balloons once they reach home.


We’ve popped three. The culprit is the ceiling of our living room which is marked with a speckled pattern that has some some points that stick out. Most of the time the balloon hits and is fine, but not always.

The ceiling between our kitchen/playroom (seen below in all its glory) is tall and arched, and we’ve lost balloons while they’ve rested at the peak out of reach.


The Playroom (look close and you’ll see Eva and Eli in there)


Balloon lost to the peak of the house

The most traumatic of these happened to Eva’s pink balloon. There only was a green balloon ready when we were leaving the restaurant, but one of the fine hostesses said she would make a balloon for her and came back with a pink balloon. She carried it to the car and we tied it in the back for the drive home. Once home, we opened the back of the car and untied it. We handed the string to Eva to hold, when the event happened. In the haste to make the balloon for her, the hostess didn’t tighten the string to the balloon well enough.

The balloon slipped out of the loose knot and floated away, carrying Eva’s joy and leaving only a sad string behind. We had told her many times to hold that string so tight so she wouldn’t lose the balloon, only now she had lost it despite doing all that was asked of her. Only two and already learning that the world is not going to be fair.

Luckily the story ends happily. Eva has a good uncle who got her a pink balloon to replace the lost one, and all is well with the world again.  As for me, some day that balloon will come down to earth with my crayon box.



Another lost balloon



Birthday balloons!


I love balloons!


Me too! (a six month old Eva)

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Eva the Artist


Eva is reaching an age where she’s able to express herself more.  She’s talking, signing, very expressive with her smiles and sly look, and she’s starting to be a little artistic.  She sings, she draws,  and she sculpts.  Here is a few of her pieces.

Her Dali version of Mr. Potato Head


Playing “Call Me Maybe” with Jimmy Fallon and Carly Rae Jepson


Playing Duets

Singing “You Are My Sunshine


Sculpting Eva’s Train


Her picture of the train (and her finger)


The train


A Horse


Some Magnadoodle art

How Eva draws Mommy


Crayon art


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Screen View : The Blacklist

What’s the show about?

Elizabeth Keen is a new profiler for the FBI who work exclusively with Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader), a former agent gone bad who is working with the FBI by giving them names from the “Black List”. Those listed on the black list are villains so bad that we don’t even know that they exist, or something to that effect. This show (along with Hannibal) are NBC’s “cable” dramas, by that I mean they show more gore and have complicated anti-heroes. This show isn’t for those looking for something light.

What is the adoption story line?

Actually there are two. The first involves Agent Keen who along with her husband are planning to adopt. The second story line was the main story line of an episode where the villain ran an exclusive adoption agency that may be up to no good. (Of course it wouldn’t be much of an episode if it wasn’t up to no good.)

I thought about writing each one up separately, but they do intertwine so that makes it difficult to not reference the other. Agent Keen has deal with her own adoption plans, and this case will make her reevaluate her own circumstance.

The Details

Let’s start with Agent Keen’s adoption. She is a rather young agent, just graduated from the academy. If you said somewhere between late 20’s and early thirties you’d probably be right. The adoption that they are pursuing is an infant adoption, as referenced by the conversation where the husband mentioned meeting the potential birthmother.

The husband is the puller of the two. Typically when a couple adopts, one of the two is pulling the other one through the process, whether its to get the process started or to accept the situation. It is not clear why the couple is adopting over pursuing the “natural” way. (While that is currently true, I can imagine they probably will explain why at some future point).

The couple is chosen by the birthmother and they have a baby shower where one of their guest is shocked to learned that she was not planning to take any time off of work to bond with the child. Judging by the number of late nights and missed meals with her husband, any bonding time would be sparse.

She gets a case where it appears this high end adoption agency is up to no good. They advertise that they can provide a child that meets your specifications, such as hair color and no birth defects. Suspisions surround how they can do this, and the thought is that they are kidnapping these children from around the world as no one ever meets the birthparents.

Turns out that the children are not the only kidnap-pees. The moms are chosen for their genetics, kidnapped, put into a coma and turned into baby machines. The owner of the agency and the mastermind behind it all was a foster child himself growing up and had been through many different homes. He took all those years of rejection and made sure that a part of him was not rejected by these adoptive parents, by that I mean he was the father of all those babies.

Through her investigation of this case and through many interviews with these parents, Agent Keen realized that she was not ready to be a mother.

Adoption Discussion

Does it matter why someone is going to adopt?

It does and it doesn’t.  Adoption is a major life decision, so it needs to made with the best intentions and reasons.  If you’re adopting to avoid stretchmarks, you probably shouldn’t do it because kids will ruin your body in many different ways.  If you are adopting because it’s the cool thing to do, you should reevaluate if you are doing it for the child or for yourself.

However….whatever the reason, it’s not your business.  Yes, its the business of the agency (private or government) providing the services.  It is not our place to judge the reasons why a person would go through adoption, whether its health related, faith related, or whatever.  If Mrs. Keen decided that she was ready to be a mother and decided that adoption was the best choice for her, that should be enough for us.  Even if we really want to know why.

Adoptive parents CAN select what kind of child they want, but SHOULD they?

When we adopted through our agency, we had to fill out paperwork about what kind of child we would accept.  Boy or girl (or either)?  Mother smoked?  Mother drank? Mother did crack?  Born with a handicap? Wets the bed?  You get the idea.

One thing that many adoptive parents struggle with is making sure that they and those around them treat their adoptive child the same as they would any other child.  If they weren’t adopting, they wouldn’t fill out a form to send to God saying what kind of child they would take.

There are two major differences though.  Through adoption, you can’t control pregnancy.  By that I mean you can’t control mother’s stress, her diet, her medical attention (although you can certainly help in some ways).  The second difference is that someone is choosing you to raise their child.  That is an extra special responsibility.

So, filling out the form helps ease those two differences.  First, if you don’t think that you could raise a child without being constantly mad at birth mother for smoking during the pregnancy you can prevent that.  Second, if a birth mother is looking for a special couple to raise their special needs child, you have to be honest with her and yourself and fill that paperwork out right.

What are some of the issues if a puller pulls their partner too fast?

In this show, Agent Keen was reluctantly going through with the adoption.  She planned on still working right after the child was born rather than staying home to bond with the child.  At one point during the adoption agency story, she realized that if she was going to do this, she needed to be fully invested so she decided to take the time off.  (then change her mind at the end of the episode…probably not the right time for her)

The risk of pulling too fast could mean that someone is not ready for it, which is bad, or reject it completely (which is also bad). In the show, their relationship started to crumble afterwards because…read the spoilers below.

Of course there is a risk of waiting too long.  So there is a difficult balance there.  The puller needs to read their partner and decide whats best.  He did not read her correctly, probably because….spoilers below.





Spoilers coming in 3….






What happened the rest of the season.

So…her husband was an evil agent who married her to get to Reddington.  He didn’t read her well because he didn’t actually love her.  It was never really discussed why he pushed adoption, other than leverage I suppose.  So I guess this show isn’t the best example of adoption, but it did bring up some interesting questions.



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Screen View Of Adoption Series

I watch my fair share of TV and movies (although much less now that I have kids), and I’ve noticed a lot more story-lines lately that related to or revolve around adoption. Perhaps this is not a new trend and I’m only noticing this because of my personal experience with adoption (just like I notice whenever a character is named Scott.) But perhaps this is a new trend. If it is, I would think that this is a result of a couple of things. One being celebrity adoptions that you hear about in the news (Jolie, Madonna, etc) that make you think wonderful things about the celebrity (“Oh, what a heart to bring a child into their homes!”) or think terrible things (“Using children to bring attention to themselves is despicable, they probably cut in line for the adoption!”), but either way you’re thinking about adoption.

The other reason I feel adoption is a more common story-line is the prevalence of open adoptions. Open adoptions typically define the open relationship between birth parents and the adoptive family, but I feel that this openness also exposes their friends and family to the adoption experience as well. Our birth mother proudly displays pictures of all her children at work, and opens up conversation when someone asks who the two kids are with her daughter.

Anyway, regardless of the relative frequency of the story-lines, there are plenty out there to look at, analyze and see how they view the adoption experience. I took a glancing look at Once Upon a Time’s adoption story-line way back when, but haven’t really touched much since. With so much content, I’d like to start a recurring series of posts called A Screen View of Adoption. After all, if I can write a long post analyzing the scare record in Monsters, Inc, I can probably analyze something a bit more weighty. If you have any suggestions please let us know in the comments below. Here’s a list I’ve come up with to start with:

TV :
The Blacklist
Once Upon a Time
30 Rock

Movies :
Blind Side
Kung Fu Panda
Despicable Me

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Which ones are the adopted ones?

I follow a few adoption related source on Twitter. Occasionally I find some interesting things, a good post or whatnot. Today one of them posted a picture of Terry Crews at what appears to be a premiere of a movie or something. I’m a big fan of Crews, as he is the funniest guy on Brooklyn 99.  You might know him from his Old Spice commercials or from The Expendables movies.  I was curious to see his relation to adoption, so I decided to Google it.

Google is fascinating.  On one hand it brings us so much information that expands our minds.  On the other it weakens our ability to remember things, because why put forth the effort when you can Google it.  It helps us find out who we really are, and exposes who we really are.  If you google almost any female celebrity (like say Scarlett Johansson), the autofill recommendations will probably list ‘Scarlett Johanson feet’.  Autofill doesn’t hide what we really think or what we really want to know, it exposes how many people think the same thing.

I typed in ‘Terry Crews Adoption’.  This is what I got:


The first article gave me the info I was looking for.  He and his wife are going to adopt.  The next two results struck me the wrong way.  The both essentially asked the same question: Which of the kids are biological and which are adopted?

Gut reaction : Why does it even matter!  Are you trying to categorize them so you can treat them differently!

The problem with being mad at someone for being judgmental is that you are judging them as well.  I try not to be so judgmental, but it is so easy to judge the google searches for these anonymous  searchers when you can’t talk to them or know where they are coming from.

I sit and ponder why a person would want to know which kids are adopted.  In the grand scheme, perhaps its all in the search for truth for some.  It matters no more to them if they are adopted or biological vs. if they are right or left handed, but truth is truth.  Googling their handedness….no results.  I guess finding out the truth about the kids is not what’s going on.

Perhaps they want to see which genes Terry and his wife will show up in specific kids. Like which of the boys will inherit his bouncing pecs.  Ya, probably not.

Maybe it’s adoption agencies research their adoption story so they can see if the kids are infant/older child/domestic or foreign adoptions.  I know when I’m getting ready for an ad campaign, I go to wiki.answers.com for my sourcing information.

I just don’t know what a good reason is to google that sort of information.  Curiosity is probably the main reason it’s up there, but what’s the driving force that creates the curiosity.  We categorize people so that we can make judgments about each group and treat them different.  If you tell me you’re a Republican, you hate the science, and if you’re a Democrat you hate guns.  Both are generalizations that may or may not be true, but since we can put you in that category we can make that judgment so easy.

So what judgment are these googlers making about Terry’s children?  I don’t know.  I just hope that they are not googling one thing and thinking “Which kids are Terry’s real kids?”

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All About Eva

When you have a second child, you worry about jealousy with the oldest. A new baby requires much and immediate attention. To the first child, it may seem that daddy prefers the baby since he’ll stop playing with her whenever the baby makes a noise.

With Eva we received some good advice at the beginning. Involve her when you can. Fill the bottle and let her shake it and bring it to mommy. Let her pick out a diaper during a change. Have her grab a blanket when daddy is holding him on the couch.


Eva took to her new big sister role very quickly, and was really helpful. Sometimes too helpful when mommy and daddy were doing something with Eli and she demanded that she be the helper. She sometime would try to hold the bottle for him, but couldn’t hold it level for long enough so Eli would get fussy. All done with best intentions, but difficult sometimes. But none the less, being involved in Eli’s care seems to have prevented any major jealousy issues.

Now that Eli is approaching one (eek!), she still likes to be helpful. She wants to put his shoes on, pull his coat off when we arrive, and make sure that he gets to do the same things that she does (E I too?) However, jealousy has shown up.

I’m not sure if at 15 months she wasn’t mature enough to be jealous, or if she really just didn’t show any jealousy at that age. Two year old Eva does have jealousy though. It’s interesting to see where it comes out. It’s not when we give Eli hugs and kisses when we get home, but when we give Eli hugs and kisses because he fell. It’s not when Eli gets to eat and she’s not eating, but when she’s eating and he gets something that she doesn’t get. It’s not when he’s having fun with a toy, it’s…well that one is true.

Eli is going to be our emergency room child. While they both are adventurous and daring, Eli is just more so. He’s already had his first large bleeder from falling and hitting his mouth on the table. He climbs up things with no plans or ability to get down from them. So we’ve had plenty of falls and minor injuries that have needed mommy hugs.

When this happens, say trying to balance himself on the basketball hoop only it topples on top of him instead, we pick him up and rock him and tell him everything will be fine. Eva will come over, lie down on the ground where he fell, pull the hoop on top of herself, and cry. The obvious implication is that she knows that an injury will get you picked up and rocked.

Why would she do this? There is no shortage of affection in the house. Some days I wonder if I in fact give them too many hugs and kisses. The moment before Eli fell, Eva was playing by herself and was content. It wasn’t a moment where she tried to garner my attention or affection. Had I gone over and hugged her, she would either let it happen or shrugged it off because it was interrupting play time. So why did she try to get attention right after Eli fell?

We know that Eva cares for Eli. When we bring out the green beans to eat for dinner, we’ll put some on her plate and she will ask “E I too?”, right before devouring her portion. So we also know that she’s willing to share (except when tired, but almost everything about her is diminished when she’s tired, except for her voice volume, her risk taking, her running energy level, and her ability to say “No” when we ask her to do something.) But sharing daddy when Eli needs him the most is not cool with her?

Trying to understand the psychology of the two year old is like trying to decipher that NCAA bracket. It seems so simple at first, but then all the sudden North Dakota State is in the Sweet Sixteen. So I can’t explain why it is that something has more value just because someone else wants it. I suppose this isn’t just restricted to two year olds, but it is definitely accelerated. So all I can do here is guess what’s going through her mind.

When is a hug more than a hug? The hugs I give her are interchangeable, full of love, but common. If I gave you $5 on Monday and everyday afterwards, come Sunday you’d no longer be thinking “Thank you, that’s incredibly nice” but “where’s my $5?” If, however, I gave you that $5 when you were at the cashier and $5 short you’d be extra thankful. The hugs we give Eli when he falls are extra special because they are targeted and are done with no need for reciprocation. This is a special hug. Eva knows this, and if Eli gets something special, she wants something special too.

There is nothing unusual about a two year old wanting something special. The trick is how to convince her that she cannot have want she wants all the time. It’s not All About Eva.


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