Sunday, July 29, 2007

Surreal, random funniness

Friday had a considerable amount of weirdness attached to it. First of all, I'd been spending a couple of days getting the house ready for the home exchange we're doing with a couple from Ireland who were supposedly arriving Friday sometime. I'd scoured the house from top to bottom and had even made a Welcome-to-Portland package, seen here:

There are stacks of books relating to Portland, Portland Monthly magazines, maps of Portland, brochures about Portland sites and events, newspapers relating to what's happening around town, plus a bottle of Oregon wine and chocolate truffles from Trader Joe's.

Friday morning I woke up early, with only the sheets to change on the bed before packing up my stuff and going over to a relative's condo across town. The problem was that we hadn't heard anything from the couple and had no idea when they were arriving. We started to panic, wondering if there'd been some miscommunication and maybe they weren't coming at all.

So Ted asked me to look through his emails for a phone number for them, and while doing this, I found an email from them stating their arrival time and date...on Sunday. We'd even written it in our calendar for Sunday. How the heck did we get Friday stuck in our dufus heads? Why do we not look more at our calendar?

So since the house was ready for visitors and I didn't want to touch anything for fear of messing it up, I decided to sleep in the single guest bed downstairs and live out of my packed suitcase. So for the last two days, I've been spending a lot of time outside, at the computer, and touching only this pile of stuff:

With all the traveling we do, it does sometimes feel like we live out of our suitcases, but doing this in our own home is kind of ridiculous.

Later in the day, I got a myspace message from a woman I went to high school with who was a grade ahead of me. She told me about her blog, so I looked at it and found out that she and her mom are the claymation pigs in the new Creature Comforts show. I really loved the British version of Creature Comforts and didn't even know an American version was being made until I found out that Celia is in it. So so weird and funny. You can see their clip here. Go to the Cast Map and find "Nell and Celia" in Pearl, Mississippi.

The next thing was that Ted and I had a bit of a...disagreement. Um, I got sorta mad at him, something that so rarely happens, really. After getting off the phone with him, I went to CNN's page and was drawn in by the headline, "Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband found naked in car, says he was mugged." Um, okay, gotta see what that's about. I started reading and felt Ted's presence, then looked at the top of the page, and saw Ted looking forlornly over his left shoulder with the caption, "They miss you." I couldn't help smiling, despite being mad. Nice timing, Mr. Rooney. Nothing like a naked husband of Zsa Zsa Gabor and Abe love to get one over a quarrel.

Then I started doing my daily check of adoption blogs I follow and discovered that a couple got their referral this week and posted the funniest announcement I've seen so far. Most of these announcements make me cry; this one made me laugh out loud. Really, please take a moment to look at it. You will not regret the five seconds it takes to look at this.

Finally, and by far the weirdest discovery Friday, came through bestweekever, a pretty funny blog about pop culture that I check every few days since I hardly ever watch tv. The comedians who contribute here are actually pretty funny. They posted the following youtube video that's sweeping the internet called "Chocolate Rain." I'm not sure what to say about it. It definitely makes me laugh, mostly in the same way that I laugh at my friend Noby's "Grampa there's a rat caught in the trap" bit (few things on this earth make me laugh harder than that bit).

And in celebration of my finishing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, here's a featured youtube video by some dude that looks like someone I might have had a crush on, had we been in high school together. I've always had a thing for the goobers, people. Enjoy (and no spoilers are here, I promise).

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Miami Wedding: Part II

I'm tearing myself away from the last third of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for this posting, not an easy task for me. I'm not one of those freaks who read it straight through in the first few hours after getting it. I dole it out in 100 page increments, like savoring a piece of fresh key lime pie (my favorite dessert).

When looking back on Carrie and Rusty's wedding, I realize how hard it is to accurately capture the fun that was had and the absolute sweetness that was that memorable wedding. Few came away from the evening with dry eyes and dry armpits. Tears and fun. Yin and yang. Rusty and Carrie.

Friday night was the rehearsal dinner, during which this happened:

I really have no idea what is going on here, but it apparently was the first part of Ted and Tommy's bonding during the weekend. The next day, this happened during dinner after the ceremony. You try to figure it out:

Tommy is famous, and not just because he's part of Lately David or because he's looking more and more like Don Rickles the older he gets. Making him more famous than that is when he and his wife Melissa made it all the way to the show-case showdown on The Price is Right earlier this year after their Elvis wedding in Vegas.

Here is Melissa with Ted. See, this is funny because she's so short and he's so tall. Geddit?

Also at the rehearsal dinner, the groom's dad was very excited to meet Abe Lincoln in person, though the groom's sister was unimpressed. As she said, "It's not like he's in Rascal Flatts or anything." True dat.

Following the dinner, we roasted the couple, the highlight definitely being Jason's video that he sent through friends since he couldn't make it to the wedding. The video can be seen here. Jason is a creative, funny smarty-pants.

Also during the roast, someone described Ted's "performance" this way: "It was like watching someone violently shake a can of coke and then pop the top." I believe that few will soon forget it.

As part of my roast, I got to say the following sentence: "I began beating on bongos as soon as I changed into swim trunks."

We'd rented a karaoke machine, so here we are singing a truly awful version of "Love Shack." I'm not being humble by saying that it was terrible. It really was. Here's our friend Matt and his girlfriend Liza enjoying the evening's karaoke performances:
Notice the firm placement of fingers in ears.

Here we are with the future bride and groom after the roasting and karaoke fun.
Day Two

Here's that $19 dress, Jill. This is also one of, if not the only, normal photo we got at the wedding.

There are very few serious drinkers in our crowd, so since we prefer funny faces to straight faces, we asked all these sober folk to pretend drunk.

We start with the bride and groom, Carrie and Rusty:

Next we have the groom and his father:
Then we have some high school band director and his girlfriend:
Finally, another of those "What the heck?" photos.
So it looks like just a lot of silliness, I know, so what made this wedding so sweet? I've known Rusty since we were thirteen. He was my first friend at the new junior high I moved to. We met during art class, when we'd taken our chairs outside to draw a tree. He plopped his chair next to mine and asked, "So, have you ever read any C.S. Lewis?"

How could we not be friends after that?

When you've been friends with someone for more than half of your life, it is really exciting when you watch them find their other pea in the pod, as I got to witness Rusty find Carrie. These wedding-things are also very emotional for me, with the whole passing-of-time-thing. When I'm with this crowd of people, I feel thirteen again (minus the teenage drama) and go through these mind-warps every five minutes upon realizing, "oh yeah, we're grown-ups now...weird."

So I cried when I toasted Carrie and Rusty. I cried especially hard when Rusty's dad toasted them; I told Rusty later that not every man gets to hear such affirmation and unconditional support from their dad and that he should be thankful. Right after the ceremony, amidst the cocktail hour, Ted and I glimpsed Rusty and his dad, nose to nose in discussion, dad's hand on groom's shoulder, reassuring and blessing. I got choked up then too.

Then when the whole party was over and we were waiting to go home, Rusty, one of those true-blue friends who without reservation contributed a letter to our foreign dossier, came up to me with a hug and told me that he can't wait to meet the new addition to the Rooney family. Just the way he said it, all grown up and married, yet still as magically boy-wonder as ever now with a gorgeous girl-wonder beside him, got me and I cried all over again, as I'm crying now writing this.

I am blessed with loved ones.

Dr. and Dr. Spell
July 21, 2007

Monday, July 23, 2007

Miami Wedding: Part I

After one of the interpretive dances with Noby and Tommy, a sweaty Ted sat down and said, "Honey, I don't think I really get along with your friends."

This was one of the silliest and sweetest weddings ever. Congratulations Carrie and Rusty!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

My Hero.

No, he isn't giving anyone the finger; Ted snapped the tendon (or ligament? I always confuse the two) in the front of his middle finger a few weeks ago playing basketball, making it impossible for him to hold upright his finger above the top joint. When he got home from the gym that day, it actually was sort of cool--the top part of his finger just hung limp. It didn't hurt at all when it happened; he just noticed that he couldn't control that part of his finger, so he got a fellow player to pull as hard as possible on his finger since that's Ted's way of doctoring anything that might be dislocated.

The doctor is keeping this strange plastic cast on the finger for two months, during which time the tendon-ligament will grow back together. It fascinates me how the body can heal itself. Ted is only supposed to take this cast off every two weeks at the doctor's office, when he goes to get it replaced with a new one.

This became a problem today when we went to get fingerprinted, an issue neither of us had thought about until the technician noticed. We experienced a small bit of panic when the tech said that it just couldn't be done and that we'd have to come back later. Please don't make us wait another two months for something!

So this is where Ted's "can-do" attitude came in handy. He just pulled the cast off and showed the tech that he could still get fingerprinted. It took some convincing. The first tech refused to touch the finger for fear of getting sued if anything happened. So we all sort of stood there at a stand-still until another tech, a lady with some sort of medical background, stood up from her desk with this attitude of "Oh, will you people give me a break" and did the job.

Ted then slipped the cast right back on, and we're hoping no damage was done. The good news: we've officially been fingerprinted.

That Rooney "where there's a will, there's a way" attitude came in handy yet again later this afternoon. We had overnighted to our house yesterday a package that I really needed for the wedding I'm in Saturday. It was super-important that I get it today, so when we got home and I saw the postman turning our corner, I figured it would be waiting for us.

Except it wasn't. I just had a notice saying to go get it from the post office. I waited an hour or so, thinking I was giving the postman time to finish his route and get back to the P.O., but when I got there, the very Newman-esque postal boss said it wasn't there and wouldn't be there until the next day.

I went home and told Ted about how frustrating it is that we pay to have something arrive the next day and are told we have to wait until the morning to get it. That's the whole point of having something over-nighted! So we seethed about that for a while until Ted said, "Give me the slip and your driver's license" before taking off.

He went to the post office and found out who was delivering the mail to our street, then explained how the p.o. had failed us here. Newman told him there was nothing to be done, that the package wasn't there and that our postman wasn't due back until after the p.o. was closed. Ted doesn't give up though, especially when faced with Newman telling him to quit.

So Ted went out back behind the p.o. and asked the workers there when our postman was coming back. He then parked there and stopped every postman who arrived, asking if he had our package. Apparently, people inside had been discussing the dude outside determined to get his package, so someone came out to give Ted the exact route of our postman.

Ted took off, following the route, until he found our postman to get the package from the truck. The problem was that our postman didn't have it. Another postal worker had delivered it to our house that morning while we were gone to get fingerprinted and took it back to the post office since we weren't there to sign for it.

So it had been sitting at the post office all along, and Newman had just been too lazy or inept to figure that out and go get it. By the way, our post office is pretty small, so it couldn't have been that hard to do a slight bit of investigating.

Ted went back inside and complained, saying he wanted our package and that he'd wait for an apology. It was pretty awesome. Newman never came out, but another guy did and basically told Ted how hard it is to work with that particular Boss-man.

Ted came walking in the house an hour later with the package that had been sitting there all along. He was flustered from the experience, but just shrugged and said, "Where there's a will, there's a way."

Amen to that, Mister.
We're off to Miami tomorrow morning for lots of funky wedding fun with parrots, karaoke, and Cuban food, so hope your weekend is Harry Potterific. I have to wait until Sunday night to start reading it!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Lesson learned.

There's something to be said for fresh air. I just went on a little jaunt on the bike through the neighborhood to clear my head from the last two days and from that most unpleasant (for me) of chores: a visit to the mall. Ick. I hate most everything about the place: the parking, the chintzy chain-store clothes, the obnoxious teeny-boppers spending their summer break there in noisy large masses, the cart vendors who try to engage me in their sales pitches, and the layout of the place that forces you to walk by as many advertisements as possible. Why some women love spending hours on end here is beyond my realm of understanding. Retail therapy?? Could I please borrow your Abercrombie bag to vomit in?

I had to go today to hunt down a dress for a wedding I'm in this weekend. The bride doesn't care what we all wear. She just said to get something comfy that we'd wear again. Rock on, Missie. I can live with that.

So I walked into Macy's on a mission to get the heck out of there as soon as possible. I found a sale rack, grabbed a couple of dresses, tried them on, looked in the mirror at one and said, "That'll do, pig," (a line in Babe that always makes me cry) and headed to the register. Turns out the dress was only $19. Rock on, Me.

On my way out, my father-in-law called me from the mall bookstore, so I had a surprise cup of tea with my favorite old man. He was there to get framed his album cover from the soundtrack to Once, a movie he's a big fan of.

Look at me going on about the mall.

I did walk out of there with the requisite headache though, just like always. Goodwill and other thrift stores don't give me the same sensory overload as the mall, yet another reason to do my shopping there.

So when I got home, I had for dinner a piece of marionberry pie we made yesterday and breathed deep some clear, after-the-rain, cool air. It's been an emotional last day or so.

Here's why:

Everyone who knows anything about adoption will tell you to keep your expectations low, expect delays, and be able to roll with the punches. Alright, I get that in theory, and I've even had to put that into practice here and there. But we made our fatal flaw a few weeks ago when we sat down with a timeline and calendar and tried to figure out when exactly we could be traveling over to Ethiopia. From our calculations, it would be fall.

Wrong-o, Mr. and Mrs. Rooney. (Feel free to skip the next part--it can be dry for anyone not in the adoption process). So most adoption agencies advice you to submit to CIS straight away in the whole process your I-600A form, which is the request to adopt an orphan. You are to do this first because some CIS offices will process your request right away and pretty quickly mail you your appointment date to get fingerprinted. From that point, it's typically a 6-8 week process, which is pretty long. During this wait-time, you can get all your other paperwork together, including your homestudy, and by the time this is done, your CIS approval usually shows up, and you can start working on your foreign dossier.

If you live in a state that works this way, your adoption timeline is most likely shorter than those like us who live in states like Oregon. The difference, for anyone who has read this far, is that Oregon CIS office will not process any I-600A request form until the homestudy has been submitted to their offices. Only then will you be called in for fingerprinting and begin the 6-8 week wait time for approval.

We did not know this. We knew there would be some wait, but we didn't expect it to be a potential of two months. We feel like we've already been in this process for so dadgum long, and now we've got another two months ahead of us, despite our paperwork being virtually finished (Kate only has another two weeks before she's done with our foreign dossier).

We got our letter in the mail this week telling us our appointment date for fingerprinting, but we're out of town during that time. So we prayerfully went to that office today to ask if we could do it this week. This felt like a huge request to us, since normally if you can't make the appointment they assign to you, you have to submit a request for a new appointment. How long that takes, we don't know and didn't want to find out.

Thank you God, despite this being a governmental bureaucratic office, everyone we encountered was super nice. We told the lady in charge our plea, and she is fitting us in tomorrow. We walked out of there truly amazed that our request to circumvent the normal red tape was granted.

So that's the good news: we're getting fingerprinted two weeks early. Ask and ye shall receive, I suppose.

Then this afternoon I had an encouraging talk with Mary, the person at Gladney in charge of the whole international aspect of the process, from dossier approval on to travel plans. She told me that we are right on schedule, that 6-9 months is the usual time for the whole process from start to finish, and that we are right in that. She said that many states work the way Oregon does, with CIS not starting your process until the submission of a completed home study. Feel blessed if you live in one of the states that doesn't work this way.

So we started working with Gladney at the end of March, which means we've only been in the process four months now. I guess it just feels like a heck of a lot longer, and being hit with this unexpected two months wait for CIS approval really dealt us a blow yesterday.

So my encouragement for other parents in the process now is to keep your expectations low, expect delays, and be able to roll with the punches. Yep, it's a cliche and you may hate hearing it just as much as I did, but it really is only a set-up for disappointment when you start getting excited about seeing the end, about getting on the waiting list, about being done with paperwork.

Maybe along the way you'll be surprised by things working as they should or better, like how we got this early appointment for fingerprinting. Just don't expect these things to happen because usually they don't.

And one thing that has been interesting to me in the process is how encouragement seems to come at just the right time. It happened for me early in the process when I was feeling low about the mounds of paperwork and happened for the first time upon this blog, when they had just gotten their referral. Then yesterday after the harsh realization of the potential of another two-months wait, I got a sweet email from Jason, an old friend from high school whom I am rarely in touch with, encouraging us in the process. It made me cry, so thanks Jason.

Finally today, I discovered that my fellow blogger Rachel is now in Addis Ababa with her daughter Piper. I've been following her journey for a while now, and it's always so amazing to get to see these blogging friends actually hold and bond with their children after such long waits.

So we asked ourselves today what we're going to do with those extra two months, which turned into a fun game. We're pretty aware of how different life will be once we've got a child in tow, so we plan on taking as much advantage as possible to the pluses of not having kids.

One of these days, all this won't matter--the paperwork, the wait, the red tape, etc. We'll just have Baby Rooney and get to kiss chubby cheeks til the cows come home. Until then, thank you for reading and thank you for all the encouragement from online buds and friends in the real world.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Central Oregon

We took a trip to Central Oregon this week to show our niece Crater Lake, which she's been interested in since her first trip out here three years ago for our wedding. We wanted to make the dream come true of seeing the strange phenomenon of a perfectly round, crystal clear lake at the top of a volcano that erupted 7,700 years ago. It really is pretty cool. If you ever come to Oregon, it's worth the trip out there.

Here's Ted doing his Superman impression:

Our niece wasn't so sure about the prospect of jumping off a 20-foot cliff into the seventh deepest lake in the world. She got to the top of the cliff and chickened out once, coming back down to the shore. Then another 11-year-old jumped off, and she figured she could do it too.

Except, she got to the top for the second time and started to chicken out again. A whole crowd of people at the bottom were cheering her on, but she wouldn't budge until I yelled out, "If you jump, I'll buy you a marshmallow gun!"

Here's what happened next:

Girl's been wanting a marshmallow gun for some time. She had so much fun jumping that she went a second time before we hiked back up. Aunt Lori was content to be photographer at the shore.

The next day we stopped by Scout Lake to float on some tree trunks.

Then on our drive home to Portland, we got a call from our friend Matt, who owns a Hawaiian restaurant, that they had their baby-back ribs special going on, and would we like some? Uh, heck yeah. We missed them the last time they had them, so these were on the house. Thanks, Matt!

Here's our niece eating an appetizer of Hawaiian shave-ice as we wait for our ribs to get served up. She's very special, as you can see.

It's been super-fun having our niece around for the last couple of weeks, and we'll be sad to put her on an airplane home Tuesday morning.
Adoption news: We got our notarized home study in the mail last week, all official and stamped. It's a pretty weird thing to see so many personal details of your life succinctly fit into twelve pages. A copy is off to Kate, so it's only a matter of time before she's done with our foreign dossier. Time keeps ticking away.

My sister-in-law in Klamath Falls gave us her baby sling that she used for their three kids, which I was really touched by. She made the comment that there's newer ones now with more updated prints, but I plan on using this one proudly. Who gives a rip about having a stylish print for a baby-sling? It means more to me that Margaret thought of us and went to the trouble to pull the sling out of storage to give to me. Margaret's a cool chick-a-dee, and I'll think of her every time I use the sling.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Oregon Summers

Yesterday while three of the nieces and nephews were playing various made-up games in the blow-up pool in our backyard, I got to thinking about how great summers were when I was a kid. We had a few favorite methods for beating the heat in Mississippi. When we got our first VCR, my sister and I would do the same thing nearly every day while my parents were at work: we'd turn the air conditioners up full-blast, lock the doors to the house, and one of us would walk to the video store for Ghostbusters, Real Genius, or Poltergeist while the other would trudge up the hill to the convenience store for Doritos and Lemon-heads. By the time we'd meet back at home, we'd be drenched in sweat, so we'd take a few minutes to lay flat on the orange shag carpet and cool off in the frigid air. Then we'd eat tuna casserole made from boxed macaroni-n-cheese and canned green peas before digging into the junk-food and movies. It's no wonder I was such a pudgy kid, and my sister and I might be solely responsible for the current climate crisis with the amount we ran the AC.

My sister came to visit last week, and it was fun to do some summer hanging-out again with her, though this time in cooler Oregon.

We found a lake in view of Mt. Hood where my sister jumped right in.

When we got home from our trip up to Mt. Hood, we discovered that Mr. Ed, my father-in-law, had been sitting on our front porch for a couple of hours reading/napping. We asked why he didn't just go in the house since he's the one who gave us the lock-box with a key, and he said that he just liked it on the front porch. That's another great thing about Oregon summers: front porch sitting. When we started looking at houses up here, we passed right over any house that didn't have a hefty front porch. They're such social things, so healthy for a neighborhood.

So my sister and niece ended their day in the hot-tub, listening to whatever pearl of wisdom Mr. Ed was passing on.

So along with AC and tuna casserole, front porches, lakes, lemon-ade stands, and visits from Ed, a few other timeless things I love about summer are:

Fuzzy baby ducks.

Farmers market crepes.

Cold drinks and swimming pools.


Picking ripe berries.

Water-gun fights.

I hope that your summer is as slumbersome and fun as ours. What were/are some of your favorite things about summer?

Friday, July 6, 2007

Reality is sinking in.

Kate from our dossier service is getting all our documents authenticated now. The insurance letter was redone and is good. The bank letter did have to be done again (because of some problem with the notary), but Ted took care of that this morning and overnighted it.

Then yesterday we got this email from our social worker:

Your homestudy is being signed and notarized as we should be put in the mail to Gladney tomorrow as well as a copy to Immigration and 2 copies to you. You are definitely on your way to parenthood!!

Last night I fell asleep really quickly but was startled awake by my dream that my hand was being burned by a pizza pan. Then I just lay there in bed thinking, "Oh my gosh...that email...are we ready? This actually just might's not just paperwork anymore...we're gonna get a referral and we're actually going to make a trip to Africa for crying out loud. Are we ready for this? Should we move to a different neighborhood? Will our baby fit in with all those lily-white urchins hanging out in the hot tub yesterday? I can't believe this is actually going to happen..."

I'm guessing these questions are normal? I'm hoping. Anyone else have these middle-of-the-night thoughts upon entering the waiting stage of adoption? I'm definitely still excited about it for sure, but it sure is a different experience when you realize that you're about to be put on the waiting list...

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Fourth of July

Our Fourth of July party ended up as more of a kiddie party. Can't you see these nine in a few years time sitting in about the same configuration, except with margaritas in hand?

One of my favorite pics of the day: the grubby hands of a two-year-old.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Uncomplicating Generosity

A continuing theme of discussion lately among some of our friends has been about the "works" side of our faith, namely how little we really do and wondering if we are one of the bleaters instead of the baah-ers. A friend of mine named Heather, who isn't even a believer, is more charitable than I am, I think. She's a single mom to a 13-year-old boy and has done a fair amount of scraping by to provide for her son. But she's been making it and inspires me by her giving spirit. A few months ago, she was coming home from her second job in a restaurant around 3:00 am and saw an injured woman walking the street. So Heather pulled over. How many of us would actually pull over in the middle of the night on a dark street to check on someone who looked hurt?

The woman had just been released from a hospital after being beaten up by her son, who has a nasty meth addiction. Heather drove her to a womens' shelter in the area, but they were closed for the night. So she paid the woman's fee for the following night and gave her some blankets she had in her car to keep warm with while she waited the couple of hours until the shelter opened its doors.

Heather has raised her son with an awareness of suffering people. Though she only gives him an allowance when she's got some excess cash on hand, he regularly spends it by buying burgers for people on the street or getting Heather things that she likes. She was proud to be able to give him a $20 allowance one week, and he promptly went to the video store and came back with her favorite movie, Invincible. How do we raise kids like that?

Despite Heather and her son not even knowing Christ, they are more giving than a lot of Christians are. I wonder if it's just that they themselves are more familiar with hardship. They've been through it. They've been on the receiving end of "charity" by friends over the years, and this must have made a stamp of remembrance on them to give back.

This week in The Oregonian, there was an article about a food-bank in inner NE Portland having to move to another location because of the rising cost of rent in the area they're located that is quickly being "gentrified." Right next to $400k restored bungalows, you have run-down apartment buildings with the disabled and people living on assistance who've been there for years. The food-bank director was saying that the thing he'll miss the most about the area is the community, how giving out bags of food is pretty much an excuse to sit and drink coffee with these long-time friends of his in the neighborhood. I was really struck by that. Though he was the one dispensing the food, he remembers that he's essentially one of them, one in a bit of a rough patch here and there.

Then they interviewed a resident of one of the apartment buildings who told them about this one neighbor of theirs who has a washing machine and dryer at her place. She lets everyone use it. It's become essentially the building's machines. The woman being interviewed made the comment that she would never dream of asking one of the new neighbors residing in one of the "gentrified" houses if she could wash her clothes at their place. She knows what look she probably would get and who wants to bother with watching her new neighbor fumble to come up with an excuse?

It all reminds me of those statistics out there (wish I could find them) stating that the most generous Americans are the poorest.

So last night while Ted and I were loading up some stuff in the Home Depot parking lot, we were approached by a scruffy fellow who started laying out his mumbled spiel. Our reaction first, I'm sad to say, was to ignore him, hoping he'd move on. But he didn't, so we started listening.

I won't try to remember his whole story, but what made us come around I guess is that he wasn't asking for money, just a place to stay for the night with his pregnant wife and his brother. So we went to the nearby motel and they met us there.

The room ended up being $20 more than the man had said it would be, and the motel director told sort of shook her head at Ted, rolled her eyes, and said she just hoped there wouldn't be any trouble from them. She suspected them of being meth addicts, of whom there are tons in Portland. The two guy definitely had trouble making coherent sentences, and both had really swollen hands, which they attributed to spider bites.

The woman they were with though was lovely. She had these captivating, huge blue eyes and this real innocence about her. She truly looked pregnant (assuming they weren't faking that somehow) and told me it's her fourth. She couldn't have been older than 30. She said her other kids were in central Oregon with her 90-year-old grandmother. I enjoyed talking to her.

She asked if we had kids, and when I told them we were adopting, she and her husband both lit up. Both of them had been adopted. She'd been adopted by her aunt when she was nine, and he had been "adopted adopted" as an infant.

We prayed with them in the parking lot, holding hands in a circle (no rounds of "Kumbaya" I promise), which they seemed used to doing. As Ted pointed out, they must be used to the Christians out there who end up lending them a hand wanting to pray for them. He said it might just be part of their routine. That made me sad.

Were we suckers? I don't know, but I couldn't stop thinking about them last night. I wonder where they are today and if they're getting further on their way to Tacoma, like they said. I wonder if they stayed clean and sober last night in that motel room, just taking advantage of the chance to get a hot bath and warm bed or if they did other things.

It got me thinking about how the pervasiveness of drug-abuse has made it so much more complicated to be giving. It's the whole dilemma of wanting to give money and food to the poor, but not wanting to enable an addiction.
I know what we did last night wasn't done perfectly, but at least they wouldn't be sleeping on the street, and I do believe that she was pregnant.

I guess when it comes down to it, I'd rather err on the side of being made a sucker out of charity than letting my heart stay cold in protectiveness of my middle-class comfort.
So what can we do? Last week on someone's blog (I can't remember which one--if it's you, please let me know), I came across this verse:

Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.--James (in The Message).

It's quite a reminder. That's what true religion is, not forgetting the poor and loveless. There's no caveats there about drug abuse or being taken advantage of and/or lied to. It just says to reach out to them. I'm so self-protective. I forget so easily that this world is not my home, that this house I live in is not mine, that the fact that I have a washer and dryer is a blessing from God.

I had a conversation last week with my 17-year-old brother where I told him a little about our adoption plans. He got excited about it and said, "Lori, I always hoped that you would adopt."
"Why?" I asked him.
"Because then I won't feel so alone."

He came to live with our family when he was only four months old and was officially adopted at age five. I'd never known that he felt any sense of isolation in our family due to his being adopted. I know that he feels loved and accepted, but it made me wonder if kids who are adopted won't automatically always feel a sort of sense of not belonging, even as slight as it may be.

So this conversation with my brother combined with that verse from James made me really start thinking about how much I wish adoption were more the norm in the Christian world. Ted and I talked about how wonderful it would be if every family just took on one child in need of a home, only one. We'd be living out true religion, as laid out in the book of James, and our children who came to us through adoption might be less inclined to feel that sense of being the odd one out, the "adopted" child in a family of biological ties.

I know that adoption isn't easy. It takes a lot of time and money and emotion. But, as a Christian, I'm starting to challenge that old adage that says "It's not for everyone." I think it just might be. I've heard people express concern over whether they would ever be able to "bond" with an adopted child, and I think I understand that, but the thought I have lately in response to that is that, God can give you that ability if you ask Him to. If the Christian community made taking care of orphans a true priority, issues of bonding should not be a deterrent. He can fill us with love for these kids who need a home.

And maybe if enough people out there starting adopting, if it really started to become more "normal," we could band together and do something to change the system to make it more affordable, the way it was in the past (our social worker adopted eight kids through the '70s and '80s, when it was much less expensive--this issue is a hot topic for her, rightly so).

I know it sounds like I'm getting on a crusade. Maybe I am. All of this came mainly from talking to my brother and wanting him to truly feel a sense of belonging. If our adopting a child does that for him, that's wonderful. He'll feel a unique connectedness to a baby in Ethiopia that maybe no one else in the family will.
My sister and her youngest daughter are landing in Portland in approximately ten minutes, so I should be getting out of my pj's now so I can go pick them up. I'm not even going to proof this entry, so please forgive any mistakes. I'll get to them later.

Have a wonderful Fourth of July. Try not to blow any fingers off. And remember that pies should not, I repeat should not, be turned on their sides for any reason.