Posts tagged ‘Family’


As I remenisce the wondferful silent auction evening, I keep thinking to myself…

I am not worthy.  

I say “I’m not worthy” not to play the martyr, but to show how blessed I am.  We all want to help eachother…it’s in us.  When we allow that part of us to shine, God takes over and miracles happen.  I see this fundraising experience as a miracle because out of an idea…one idea…people joined to support someone in need.  Most of the guests were friends and family–but some didn’t know us from a man on the moon.  What an incredible thing!  That’s why I say “I am not worthy.”  Who is worthy of such outpouring kindness? 

The night went perfectly. The weather, turnout, EVERYTHING went like clockwork.  My mother and wife are mostly responsible.  When you put heaping amounts of time and energy into something, good things happen.  But even the most meticulously planned events have issues.  Not ours.  It was as though God took care of all the variables. There was a good mix of old and new friends, family and relatives. My Godfather who lives in Naples, Florida came as well as friends I hadn’t seen in years. I was especially touched by the Sisters of the Transfiguration who showed their support and provided insight into the adoption process.

As one guest put it—”if nuns show up then you know it (the party) is meant to be.”  I had to laugh because I couldn’t agree more.

All told, about 100 people showed up–the cream of the crop. I say that because many of them (the majority) stayed till the end.  Out of 70 items offered, only five remained when the bidding stopped. 

(My hypnosis treatment was one of them.  I guess the thought of Billy boy putting someone in a trance freaked out the masses)


65 out of 70 items sold! That’s amazing considering only a third of the people showed and that’s why I say “cream of the crop.”  Had all 300 invitees attended, the outcome would be the same.  Not to get all biblical on you, but it put me in mind of Jesus dividing the bread and fish. We had a huge hall fit for 300 guests, yet it never felt empty. 

I can only recall one other time in my life (at my wedding) when I was so full of spirit/support/love.  But this night was better.     At the wedding, the enormity of the event swallowed me up and I retreated from the crowd instead of embracing them.  This party was altogether different and I’m blessed to have been part of it.

Thanks everyone for supporting our journey! (There will be pictures of the night as soon as my nephew emails them to me)

Losing Myself

Been feeling kinda lost lately.  Not because I’m forty…I’m over that for the time being…or at least until I hit fifty.  When I say lost, maybe what I mean is–overwhelmed.  Life can do that.  You get all geeked up over small, trivial things until they take over your mind creating a reactionary robot instead of a present being of thought and action.  I hate that this world wires us to live like scurrying mice, running through our hectic days as though every conceivable ounce of time should be efficiently spent. And what are we doing during those “efficient” moments?

Finding pictures of cross dressing cats on bing images, apparently.

We really over-estimate our importance don’t we?  When I think of all the time I spend updating Facebook, looking through my emails, checking voicemail and even writing in this blog it makes my head spin.  When did this happen?  When did our lives become hyper driven?  Better yet…how do we stop?

I have tried putting away my smart phone, turning off the laptop, forgetting about my profile on Linkedin, but a few days, hours or even seconds later I’m at it again–checking Facebook or answering the buzzing phone.  It’s beyond choice now. This world has conditioned me to do idiotic things like text while I’m driving (yeah, I hate to admit it but I do it), check the I-net during commercials and message friends during play time with my kids. 

That last part really stings.  I don’t want my kids seeing a father who appears absent, uncaring, distracted, aloof.  What message is that sending them?  That they aren’t important?  This sudden awareness of my habits comes during a busy time in my life.  To be fair, there are times when I need to multi-task and when the kids need to take a back seat, but those times are far and few between and I need to start thinking of how to be present with my family…but how?

I need to start asking myself: “What is really important here?” Is texting back a friend really worth plowing into a telephone pole at eighty miles an hour? Is deleting all of those voice mails or emails more important than playing with my son?

It’s simple, really.  But like most simple things, putting it into practice is not so simple.  Eckhart Tolle has made a career on this advice: Be present and in the moment, always.  I admit that such a mantra doesn’t make much sense when you’re charging through a day of work schedules, dropping kids at school, managing a budget, working out, supporting your spouse…add to this the adoption process and organizing a large party and you have a sure recipe for chaos.  But there is an eye to every hurricane.  and I am gonna try my best to find it each day and every moment.

What are the storms that keep you from being present?  What are you gonna do about them? 

Here’s one idea:

Good luck!

What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate…

The other day I was treating a deaf man and trying my best to communicate with him.  Even though I know a little American Sign Language (ASL), talking with Bruce is usually not a big deal because he’s able to get his meaning across without words or signs. In short–he acts everything out like a 300 pound mime.  Most days, there isn’t much to say during therapy sessions.  Mainly, I want to know if my client is in any pain or what they want to work on…stuff like that.  I may want to discuss things like home safety or pain management, etc. but basically all I do is communicate what we are gonna do…then do it.  With Bruce it’s not that easy.  He’s a class “A”  clown who ends up signing that he hasn’t been laid in days or how his penis is useless (at least I think that’s what he’s trying to say????)  His wife (who is also deaf) thinks it’s hilarious which only encourages his clownish behavior.

I have to admit….he is pretty darn funny.

Even though it’s sketchy at times, my interactions with Bruce are functional, but I wish I could go deeper.  Our talks are shallow, like reading cliff notes of a novel instead of delving into its pages.  When questions get complex, I have to defer to his son who translates for me.  But when the kid isn’t home…I’m lost.  One day, Bruce rambled on and on about the railroad.  I know this only because he gave a few “Choo!  Choo’s!”  I thought he worked on the railroad and tried asking if he was talking about himself, but our language barrier prevented me from getting the whole story.  Later, I asked his son about it and found out Bruce’s father was a railroad engineer for thirty years.  I asked Bruce to repeat his story to his son–so I could understand, but he refused.

After my therapy session, I thought about what it would be like to raise a deaf child.  We’re still waiting to be matched and don’t know her medical issues…but what if Little Panda is deaf?  Will her days be lost in silence? Thinking about that motivates me to learn ASL.  Since Reece is fluent in ASL, I should pick it up easy peasy, right?  You would think so, but that’s not been the case.

Reece works with family’s of deaf kiddos and most days they embrace their child’s deafness.  These are the families who learn ASL or work to empower their child through cochlear implants.  Then there’s the opposite end of the spectrum or parents who are indifferent and never learn ASL.  Wouldn’t you want to communicate with your own child?

Am I different?  I’ve toyed with learning mandarin and continue to drag my feet with  ASL.  My excuses are:

Mandarin: there are dozens of dialects in China therefore learning mandarin would be a waste of time and effort

ASL:  first learn what Little P’s health issues are—THEN adjust accordingly.

Both are reasonable excuses, but imagine if I had put a little more effort into learning sign language. Perhaps I would understand why Bruce cares so much about his father.  Perhaps there would be less “closed books” in my life.

I need to get crackin!


Do you think fundraising for an adoption is unethical?


When I hear something totally against what I believe, my initial reaction is to get angry so when I read a post on Facebook about this topic, it fired me up.  After venting for an hour or so, I took ten slow breaths and read the post again. The words “appalling” and “embarrassing” were used to communicate the person’s viewpoint (i.e. fundraising for adoption is wrong.) The source was someone with several adopted kiddos from around the world.

So what?  This group (adopting parents) takes all kinds—right? What I didn’t realize was that the original thread came from an adoptee.  The general gist (in my opinion) was that anyone raising funds to adopt is treating their future child like a commodity–something sold to the highest bidder.  The idea sickened me, because it came from someone who lives that life…a life under the stigma of being adopted.

My mind flashed forward fifteen years.  Little Panda is now an adult and besides hating being called Little Panda, she has many opinions.  Will she be embarrassed…appalled that we asked for money to help bring her from China? Will she see herself as property rather than my daughter?

Complex–this whole deal is so complex. At face value you see a child in need so you follow your heart and do what you think is right.  Then you begin researching and peeling back all the layers involved and see things you never thought you would. For one moment I tried seeing this adoption through my future daughter’s eyes and…I couldn’t do it.  The paradigm shift was just too difficult.

But then I thought of the spark God put in our hearts for this little girl and guess what?….all of my worries vanished.  It’s a recurring theme in this blog (I know so sue me!) but I can’t help it.  God put His desire in our hearts and for some reason he wants the Danner family to include a little girl from China.  I realize this is difficult to understand.  I realize there are children in America…in my town that need love…need a home, but God wants it this way.  He wants us to take this leap and go the distance, all the way to China. So that’s what we are going to do and if people want to help us along the way, I aint stoppin em.

Would I ever have a fundraiser for my biological child?  No. But aren’t baby showers (sort of) the same thing?  This fundraiser/party is a wonderful opportunity for us to receive support from those we love.  As Reece said to me, besides a wedding, there aren’t many opportunities to share your life with so many family and friends.  We are going to enjoy the heck out of it!

Little P. is not a charity case and doesn’t need us to save her.  She is our daughter and our job is to bring her home.  Period.

One Step Closer to the Rising Sun

We received this glorious email the other day….
Just got the approval for your home study from the Dossier Dept. so I’ll be printing all the hard copies and sending everything to Julie.  She will forward the appropriate copies to USCIS and you for your dossier. Congratulations, you are one step closer!

Amy Kinnell

Adoption Caseworker
Yes one step closer. 
We also secured a place for the party/silent auction with my parents offering to pay for it. Pretty awesome!  Things are falling into place, just like I knew they would.  Now that we know this silent auction will happen the task comes down to finding donations.  There’s many, many options of course.  Family, friends and friends of friends have already come forth with ideas and items.  Also, there’s several companies who provide items (such as sports memorabilia) and will split the proceeds, but how far to take this? immediately my mind begins to say–
We don’t know what we’re doing.  What if we don’t have enough items to auction or what if nobody shows? 
Worried thoughts  of a busy brain.  But it really doesn’t matter.  I know things will work out. 
Just keep telling yourself that Billy boy.  
For the first time in this process, I posted on Facebook.  Within seconds (22 to be exact) I had friends reaching out from cyberspace. Most of these friends, I rarely talk to and some I haven’t  seen in years, but there they were, reaching out to help my family. 
I don’t care what anyone says (and I know I have said this before) people are naturally good.  I always knew this.  That’s why I chose to work with people on a daily basis.  But sometimes it’s nice to be reminded of our inherent nature. 
Not to sound cheesy but I was pleasantly surprised.
One of first suggestions from Facebook was to use  Theresa and I discussed using another website for donations, but once I poked around Gofundme, it became the easiest course of action.  And you know what?  Those wonderful people I was just talking about have already raised nearly $1200.00 for our adoption!  One guy pledged $500!  This isn’t some independently wealthy business mogul either.  The man has his own family (two kids) and was someone I hung out with during my Roger Bacon (high school) days. To say I’m humbled by this experience would be putting it lightly. Perhaps the most amazing thing about this is that Reece (who swore off Facebook from the beginning) now has her own FB page. Will miracles never cease?  For anyone interested, here’s a link to our Gofundme page
Like I said, it’s all coming together.  Each experience, each donation, each generous heart brings us one step closer to the land of the rising sun….one step closer to meeting our precious little girl. 

Parenting the internationally adopted child 101

Still no match.  The only positive thing about that is there’s still time to prep for our new arrival.  Luckily, Reece and I are aware of some valuable resources such as:

Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child by Patty Cogen.

I won’t give you a book report, but here are some early highlights that I found interesting:

Seeing yourself through child’s eyes:  Cogen invited me to become our new child, where everything I knew disappeared forever.  I thought it would be easy, but it wasn’t.  We all have times where we start over.  A new school, new team, new job, new neighborhood…but to grasp the intensity of total change in EVERYTHING from language to customs, people, places…I can’t imagine how overwhelming that will be for her.


Establishing an identity:  The issue of self and identity will be recurring themes throughout our little girl’s life. She will be American, yet Chinese…a Danner yet a Lee, Chan, etc. Basically, she will always be pulled in two directions…two worlds. Cogan suggested researching the circumstances of your child’s adoption and sharing this story with them, no matter how grim. There will be gaps or holes in the story that may never be filled, but sheltering your child from the past will only prevent her true identity from taking root.

Linking behaviors to prior experiences: Cogen cited an example where a kid pooped every time she sat in a high chair.  The family became upset and attempted to dissuade her behavior but failed.  It wasn’t until they saw pictures of their child’s orphanage that they made a connection.  Sitting there in high def digital was a little toilet closely resembling their high chair. Turns out, their daughter’s inappropriate behavior was a conditioned response.

Family skills: Adopted children need more time learning basic skills like turn taking, sitting at meals, playing appropriately, etc.  Cogan suggested following family age rather than chronological age when gauging appropriate behavior.  What is family age?  Basically, it’s the time each child has been with their new family.

Why can’t there be a married age?  I think all men would benefit from that idea.

Establish a bond: According to Cogan, the bond between child and parent must be present before discipline is effective.  I see this with our son, who is so driven to please his mommy that any correction from her is devastating.  Seriously, it’s kinda sad to watch. But what if that bond was missing?  What would motivate Mitch to behave appropriately?


Not a good place to start when you’re trying to build that bridge of trust.

How are you reacting? Cogan interviewed parents of newly adopted kids and asked how dealing with problem behaviors made them feel.  The responses included: angry, resentful, lost, inadequate, numb…to name a few.  The author then invited each parent to imagine these emotions as mirrors of their adopted children.  In other words, a child who brings out your “anger” is probably dealing with that very same issue.

Teaching dependence: This strategy seems counter intuitive, but these kids have learned to survive on their own and must be taught to look towards their parents for help.  This survival instinct manifests itself in many ways such as the overly friendly kid who throws themselves at complete strangers or the boy who steals food from your dinner plate.  How do you teach dependence?  According to Cogan it’s a matter of constantly being available to your child.  This flies in the face of my parenting philosophy which teaches my kids to be independent and self-sufficient.  In fact, the author went so far as to encourage whining and clinging in your newly adopted child.  I don’t know about you, but whining of any kind is like fingernails on a chalkboard.


This new philosophy may take some getting used to.

What’s in a name?

So here we are…waiting on a few documents (our homestudy report and child abuse clearance form) before the mass notarizing process begins. Although I’m anxious about getting through all of this, the waiting is easier than expected.  Why?  Because we haven’t been matched yet.  Once that happens, this waiting-around becomes much more difficult.

As soon as we’re matched (and I hope it’s soon) CCAI will call us to share our child’s medical history.  At that time we have the option to accept the proposed match, or wait for another alternative. It’s a good process since it enables the adoptive parents to make an educated decision rather than keeping it purely emotional. Obviously, there is no guarantee your kid will be an exact match, but gathering evidence is the best defense against future strife.  As much as I hate to say this, some kids don’t belong with certain families and vice versa.

During this waiting time, Reece and I continue to knock around names for Little Panda.  Here’s a short list of our favorites:

Whats-In-A-Name1Aliviababy girl





Lu Lu



Okay the last three are my idea and have zero possibility of being Panda’s name but I still love em.  Alivia looks like the real deal but the rest are still contenders.  I’m sure once we meet our little one, her name will naturally fall into place.  Whatever we call her, Panda’s middle name will remain Chinese.  Since China is her birth place, Reece and I feel this will keep our youngest daughter close to her roots. 

Now that the dossier is in motion and there’s time to breathe, we are seriously brainstorming ways to fund this adoption.  Reece and I agree that asking for donations is difficult. Nobody was holding a gun to our head when we made the decision to adopt internationally.  As Theresa said, “Couples go through all sorts of expensive procedures (i.e. in vitro fertilization)  in order to have kids and you don’t see them asking for donations.”  So how do you ask friends, family and others to give their hard-earned money to such a cause?  There’s no easy answer here, but we both agree that whoever gives, should get something in return.

The question is what?  What would be a good thing for people to get back for helping Reece and I out with this adoption?  One idea came from this website:  Basically, Chrome Buffalo allows us (or anyone) to sell designer T-shirts with part of the proceeds going directly to the adoption.  Once in place, we will have eleven days to get as many sponsors as possible with each sold T-shirt providing eleven bucks towards our cause.  I think it’s a cool idea, especially since sponsors get something in return other than just gushy feelings. Since I’m writing this blog and have a Facebook account we figured, “why not reach out into cyberspace for help?”

Another idea we’re kicking around is using my birthday to help springboard donations.  Since I’m turning forty this year, why not bring Little P into the celebration? There’s a couple ways we could tackle this (simple party, silent auction, clown rodeo, etc.) Silent auctions are great, but for that to happen, we would need to find a lot of cool stuff to bid on. 

Nick LacheyDid I mention I know Nick Lachey?  No kidding.  The only problem is…I haven’t seen or talked to him in over thirty years. If I could somehow remind Nick of our friendship, then perhaps a silent auction would work.  Heck—one pair of his boxer-briefs alone would bankroll our fare to China!

Speaking of fundraising, one heart-warming donation occurred this week…

Our kiddos attend Immaculate Heart of Mary where fundraising is commonplace.  This week the entire school took part in Tag Day where kids can spend a day out of uniform for twenty-five cents.  All the money from Tag Day went straight  towards our adoption. 

How awesome is that?



Whenever I hear “this world is full of evil,” humans are parasites,” “people aren’t like they used to be,”  I’m reminded of things like Tag Day, and guess what?  All of those negative, miserable voices lose their power.  I believe that people are generally good.  Do you agree?  If not, take a look here: (Be patient—it takes awhile to load)

Amazing what one group can do when joined by a common purpose!

We all have the ability to change lives. Some (like Gandi or Nelson Manela) change nations while others provide hope in the little things.


In my humble opinion (IMHO for those who text) the meaning of life is to use your gifts for the benefit of others.  Even one pair of undies can make a difference.

You getting this Nick?

Home Study III

I had twenty minutes and all was running smoothly.  The leaves were raked, kids fed, and clutter picked up.  The only thing left to do was a quick vacuuming and then I could get dressed….

Was that the doorbell????


Sometimes we push time to the limit and Saturday was no exception.  There I was, running the dust devil in my skivvies when Ellie opens up the front door to our social worker (Amy). Was her early arrival planned?  After all, you can tell a lot about a family when they’re caught with their pants down…or off as was my case.

Thus began our final home study appointment. Final for a while at least.  Amy will do a few more visits once Little Panda has made the trip home to Union, Kentucky.

Since I was in black socks and boxer shorts I excused myself to get dressed while Reece and Amy began the interview. Things started off a little nuts.  Our kids get downright manic when people come over which is fine with grandma and grandpa but not so fine when you’re trying to make a good impression. (No offense mom and dad). By the time I returned, Mitch was riding his Hot Wheels all over Amy’s back while Ellie banged out Ode to Joy from our baby grand piano.

I don’t know how single parents do it.

I kept the natives busy with marble games while Reece was interviewed.  After a half hour or so, we swapped places and it was my turn on the hot seat. For some reason I thought the session would be like Oprah, with a lot of probing questions, but Amy kept things efficient and to the point asking things like: Are your parents still married? What do they do for a living?  What is your philosophy regarding disciplining your kids? How did you meet your wife? What are her most positive traits?

I mentioned before that my mouth gets me into trouble but Saturday was not one of those days.  The only time I got tense was when Amy asked, “Have you ever been abused?”Good-Cop-Bad-Cop

I answered with a quick “No,” but for some reason, my answer felt incomplete as if I had to justify myself.  Shouldn’t “no” be an acceptable answer? Whenever I’m pulled over by a cop, the same thing happens.  I get jittery and start gabbing about all kinds of crazy stuff just to fill the silence. Thankfully, Amy concluded the interview before I could sabotage anything.

Finally, Reece and I were both grilled on our parenting styles.  Not really, but “grilled” sounds compelling doesn’t it?  Amy broke down “expert” opinions on managing typical and atypical child behaviors.  One valuable resource was Dr. Karyn Purvis who has developed research-based interventions for at risk children (i.e. Little Panda).

On her website Purvis states, “we have yet to see a child that cannot experience dramatic levels of healing in response to the right approach and interventions focused on helping the child and parents develop deep and lasting connections.”

So what are the right interventions?  Are they realistic?  Reece and I plan to study and use Dr. Purvis’ methods but each kid and family situation is unique therefore our parenting will not always be by the book.

Amy agreed.  She shared how parenting her at-risk children has been an evolving process. “What works for one may not work for another,” she said.  “Just know that there will be mistakes and learn as much as you can from those mistakes.”

Good advice, especially since I’m already worried about those first few months of Little P’s arrival.  Ideally, Reece would stay home until Panda made the initial transition, but we are a two income home and unable to work remotely. But you never know…the way Obamacare is going, perhaps I’ll be able to Skype my home therapy treatments by next year…now that would be interesting.


Being a two income family means we will need child care three days a week. Thankfully, we have a wonderful sitter in place who will provide a loving home environment during those long work days. Is it cacooning?  No, but it’s the best option available for us.

Amy was wrapping things up when I had one more burning question.  “Have you ever had to refuse an adoption?”

“It’s rare…but yes,” she said. “What we don’t want is for a child from an unhealthy environment placed right back into the same situation.”

Her answer was sobering.  The financial commitment, along with various personal issues limits many good-hearted people from taking part in this life-giving process.  I feel so blessed that Reece and I have the opportunity to provide a loving home for a child in need.

So now, the home study process is complete and the waiting game begins.


Home Study (Part 2)

Reece and I once again made the two hour trek to Lexington to complete the second visit of our home study process. In less than a month we have all of the paperwork pretty much completed.  Reece is the organize police. I told you she’d have us whipped into shape by Christmas!  The last form standing is the I-800A  which can take up to four months to process and can only be completed once the home study process is over with.  Yeah, four months…makes you wonder what those guys in the United States Immigration Department are doing with themselves.obama

This meeting went a lot better than the first.  Instead of dwelling on paperwork, the discussions trended towards practical issues like picky eating, sleeping schedule, behavioral issues and cacooning.  Yeah, I said cacooning. More on that in a minute.

I think I mentioned this before, but it’s worth repeating…studies show that children under the age of three who are institutionalized show significant delays in development.  The reasons are many but mainly young brains need a stimulating environment to develop and thrive.  Our social worker said that most orphanages in China are over crowded with two workers for every twenty to thirty children. I imagine it’s tough for these workers whose main goal is keeping their kids safe and fed but as you can imagine, there isn’t a lot of meaningful activity going on. For a child in this setting, it’s not unusual to spend eighteen hours a day trapped in a tiny crib instead of crawling, exploring or playing. Since critical neural pathways occur within the first three years, the effects of such an environment are profound.

I feel like I’m at work.  Sorry about that.

The good news is that while such an environment stunts brain development, the process can be reversed.  My therapy background helps here.  I spent my first five years as a pediatric occupational therapist and have a working knowledge of early development. In fact I have a whole basement packed with treatment activities, ideas and protocols that I couldn’t stand to throw away when I made the transition from peds to geriatrics.


Excellent!  Thank God I’m a pack rat.

In addition to brain chemistry we discussed issues that may arise when little Panda (we really need to come up with a name) comes home. I said I would talk about cacooning so here goes nothing.

According to Patti M. Zordich, Ph.D. cacooning is a process where the adopted child is kept close to their new parents for the first few months of transition.  This closeness helps newly adopted children emotionally adjust to a new home and family members.  How close? Well that depends on how far you want to take it.  I have read a few blogs where the family spent eight months in virtual lockdown with one parent at home at all times with their adopted child. Here’s one account of the process from Adoption Magazine.

I think eight months is a tad extreme but I do believe that we will need to establish attachment and trust with our Panda.  How we do this is up for debate, but if it means cacooning or regressing our parenting to fit her developmental stage than so be it.

On our way home from our meeting, Reece and I talked about the fear of having an unhealthy child. How many times have you heard someone say, “I don’t care if it’s a boy or girl just so they’re healthy.”  Sometimes during the pregnancy process, you don’t know if your child is completely healthy until they are born.  Take for instance our second child, Mitch who was born with a club foot.  My point is, there’s always that unsettled feeling during the birthing process (at least for me there was) that your child will be born with some awful condition.  But this process that Reece and I are going through is different.  This process began with our decision to accept numerous medical issues.  As strange as this may sound, I am more at peace with this process than I ever was with the birth of Ellie or Mitch.

Today if you watch my son run, you’d never guess he had a club foot…someday little Panda will be the same, no matter her issues.


Money, money, money

We have submitted our forms and now are waiting to be accepted into the adoption program.


I have a feeling that waiting is a huge part of this adoption process and I don’t like it.  When you think about it, our modern society is not conducive with waiting.  Just sit at a green light for more than two seconds and you’ll get my point.  When I’m waiting around my mind starts chattering which is a baaaaad thing for me.  Right now the voices in my head are having a field day with money. The longer we wait, the louder they shout.

Why is my car squeaking?

Friggin ash borers and we have two huge trees right next to the house.

Never noticed that hole in the driveway before.

Where is that water coming from?

$400 for a telephone consultation?

Don’t get me wrong, ever since we made the decision to adopt, I’ve had a calm certainty about it.  But the chattering voices keep probing—

“Will this adoption throw a wrench into my perfect little life?”

Uh, Yeah.

“Will it bring financial challenges?”

Most definitely.

“Will it strain our family and add stress to our relationships?”

It could.

“Is all of this worth it?”


While struggling with this, I was lucky enough to attend a seminar on positive psychology. One thing I learned during this six-hour course was how money affects our happiness. In fact, studies show a link between spending habits and happiness. It’s obvious that buying stuff will not bring long-lasting joy. Every time I buy a new album on I-tunes I’m reminded of that!  But did you know that people who use money for experiences rather than things are statistically happier? This link explains the concept.

I really believe that God used this seminar to help me get over my fear of money. Not that I want pity but the process of adopting a child from China will run us in the neighborhood of $30,000.  There’s a tax break and I have a program at work that will help with cost but in the end there’s around $15,000 that needs to be accounted for.  When Reece and I first looked into an international adoption we immediately saw that number and said,  “No way.  We can’t afford that.”  But after researching  the alternatives: domestic adoption, foster care, kids from other countries, China kept snuggling its fuzzy Panda head up to us. There are many support programs and we will eventually organize a fund raiser to help with the initial costs. I know the money will be there and even if it isn’t, it will not stop us from bringing another child into our lives.  As Reece said the other night, “Even if we need to pay off the dept for fifty years, how could you put a price on a child’s life?”

I hate asking for help…especially when it comes to money.  Maybe it’s because it’s my duty to provide for our family and if I’m asking for money than I must not be doing my job. Yet, when faced with the cost of this process I must learn to put my pride aside and ask. My godmother, Ann Farina was a wonderful lady who taught me about humility. She had polio for most of her life yet was extremely independent, thriving in a society where women and the disabled are viewed as second class citizens. One day while visiting Ann gave me this little nugget of wisdom.  “Billy, it’s much harder to ask for help than to give it. Once I accepted my limitations, I became a good asker!”

Thanks Ann. I finally got it.

(If you are interested, I found some of Ann’s achievements online and pasted them below).


The Harold Scharper Achievement Award is presented each year to the graduating senior or recent alumnus who has exhibited the greatest achievements academically, physically, socially, in extracurricular functions, and in professional endeavor during his/her schooling at the University of Illinois or immediately upon the completion of that schooling. It is the highest recognition that the University of Illinois and Delta Sigma Omicron, Incorporated can bestow upon one of its physically disabled students. It is indeed an honor to the recipients and a great example to the many students who will follow in the years to come.


Ann, as she prefers to be called, is presently Loan Officer of the Export-Import Bank of the United States with offices in Washington D.C. Prior to that she served as a Loan Specialist with the Export-Import Bank and prior to that she was a Financial Analyst for :he Federal Home Loan Bank Board.

In 1970, Ann received the Merit Award for special contributions to projects. In 1971, she received a Superior Performance Award from the Federal Government. In 1973, she was nominated by the Export-Import Bank for the Federal Woman of the Year Award. In 1974, Ann was
elected one of the Ten Outstanding Handicapped Federal Employees of the Year and was privileged to receive this award from the Vice President of the United States.

Ann has compiled a remarkable series of accomplishments, many of them beneficial to her fellow workers, U.S. exporters, commercial banks, and private insurance companies in their efforts to make a maximum contribution to sound export growth.

During her time at Export-Import Bank, Ann has made a number of worksaving suggestions, improved loan officer efficiency and provided better service to the export community. She has helped design new forms of insurance and has initiated improved training programs for non-professionals and para-professionals within the bank. She has analyzed and been responsible for the approval of a number of individual export transactions, many of them problem cases. Because of her outstanding performance, Ann has been promoted twice within the minimal allowable amount of time by the Export-Import Bank.

Her employers have said of her that she is a “woman of strong determination and professional skills and competence, who has exerted a positive influence on people and programs within and outside this agency.” In 1974, Ann was elected President of the Export-Import Banks
Federal Women’s Program. She is among the youngest of those with the rank of Loan Officer.

Ann has also been very active in many civic functions and many functions related to federal employees and many employee benefit programs. She has been in a wheelchair, as a result of Poliomyelitis, since the age of twelve.


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