Aside

Today was the twins one week anniversary with us! We were talking during dinner about how far the kids have come in just one week and how well it’s really going. It’s true. I am so thankful! All four of my kids have handled this last week with flexibility, grace, love, and a whole lot of good humor. I’m happy tonight to report that both the twins are finally on antibiotics and vitamins and that it seems their journey toward health and healing is well underway. Good news. I can’t quite describe the deep joy of being able to give them the nutrients they need. It’s weighty and wonderful, knowing that we are now responsible for those little mouths and the hearts that go along with them. It’s about time!

#itwasagoodday

Today was just the type of day our family needed- free of all obligations and errands. A chance to just be together and (like I said I was hoping for in my last blog post), a chance to enjoy this beautiful country.

We started the day with a walk to the local “market” where we perused the stores and stopped at a bakery for treats. We met some neighbors and chatted with people along the way. We were in no rush. 

We then came back to the community pool where Macy took a swim lesson from one of the locals (for $4!). After lunch we headed on foot to a resort that is about 20 minutes from our house, right on the shore of Lake Victoria. We stayed at the resort through dinner and then came home just in time for the kids’ bed time (as if they really have a “bed time” here… more like just in time to avoid meltdowns).

Noteworthy from today:

  • I really love being part of a culture that walks most places. Life moves slower and is more relational when you walk. I also love how it limits where you go and what you try to do.
  • A neighbor stopped by the house this morning because he was going to the “big” store and wanted to know if we needed anything. Something else I love: neighbors dropping by and looking out for each other (#sharetheload :)) 
  • We needed papertowels and decided to try and pick some up at the little local market we visited. I grabbed two rolls of what I thought were paper towels but that turned out to be huge rolls of 100% pure cotton (to be used for surgical and sanitary purposes). Tomorrow Macy will be building snowmen in the backyard with said cotton. I can’t even imagine what the shopkeeper must have thought I was going to do with that! To my credit… it was right next to the toilet paper, just like it is in Target.
  • A few firsts for the twins today: swimming (they loved being floated around the pool by dad) and horses. I wouldn’t say they loved the horses… mostly just stared wide eyed. One twin let out a little shriek when the horse licked his feet while we were trying to take a photo.
  • Each day it seems there has been a new adventure with our house (a new third-world normalcy to “embrace” I suppose). Last night and for the first have of the day we had no running water (except for a little bit in the kitchen sink). That meant no showers, no flushing toilets, no face washing, etc. Again, it was refreshing to feel like we could live without those things for a very short season, and it certainly put into perspective how much we take for granted the access to water that we do have on a day to day basis (California may be in a serious drought, but I still have all the water I want, and I feel entitled to use it as much as I want). I’m thinking through how selfish I can be with the resources we have. Hold me to it.
  • Met another adoptive family today at the pool. Was super encouraged to chat with someone else who could speak to the challenges of the adoption process, of court, and of being a white mom carrying a black baby in Uganda (people are either really friendly, or else they give you horribly mean looks and under the breath comments).

The “kid” update:

All four kids continue to do very well through this transition. Today there was more interaction and more laughter between all of the kids, and for that I’m thankful. Owen has a blast playing with his younger siblings, and Macy wants to mother them all. It’s pretty hilarious to watch. The twins are getting more comfortable with us and are eating well, sleeping decently well, and are progressing in the milestones we would hope for. It’s hard to believe it’s only been 4 days that we have been a fixture in their lives. Their receptivity to our love and care is pretty humbling. I can’t wait to introduce them to you all!

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a couple sights from our morning walk

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the time the horse licked my baby’s foot while we were trying to take a picture.

 

 

my grown-up christmas wish

Laundry folding. It’s not something I’d say I typically get very excited about. In fact, tonight as I even thought about walking from the cozy house to the cold garage to get the load of laundry that was ready to be folded I grumbled (post on “first world problems” to follow). But as I folded piles of super-hero shirts, footed pajamas, and little boxer-briefs (also super-hero themed of course), I found myself smiling and actually cherishing this mundane task.

Maybe it’s because I was folding in front of a lit Christmas tree and a warm fire burning in the fireplace.  Maybe it was the conversation I had earlier tonight with a mom who was lamenting the fact that her “baby” is getting ready to graduate high school which means a much emptier and quieter house after all these years. Maybe it’s that I’ve actually slowed down a bit recently and can enjoy and appreciate the time I have to fold said clothes.

I’m not sure what it is, but it made me want to write. It also made me long once more for the day when I will have double the laundry to do, two more little bodies to dress, two more hungry mouths to feed. I’m sure I’m idealizing the thought of it, but tonight, I can think of nothing I’d rather do. So, I’m savoring this moment, giving thanks for these little clothes and the healthy bodies that dirty them oh so quickly (knowing that 2 more bodies will nearly double our laundry loads and the time it takes to fold and put them all away), and dreaming of the day when I’ll need to be reminded that I was once longing for more laundry to do. I’m sure it’s coming. But for now, I wait and hope for more. This is my grown-up Christmas wish.

how you can help (so far)

I suppose I shouldn’t be embarrassed- everyone needs help of some sort when they bring a new child (or two!) into the home. When our second child was born I had help getting groceries, with meals, I even had to have someone come over a few times to watch the kids while I took a shower! It was temporary for sure, but there is nothing like adding a little child to the family to reveal your total need for help. And so, I’ve been mentally preparing to enter into a season where I am going to have to rely on others and their gracious offers to help once again!

It seems I’m getting help with that “preparation” already as the time has come to ask for help! There are two primary ways that you can help us with where we are currently at in our adoption journey

-Financially. While we can handle the month-to-month expenses of two additional kids, the cost of adoption is steep and we are hoping to do it debt-free. We have partnered with a non-profit that helps families raise money for adoption so that gifts are tax-deductible. You can read our profile and support us financially here: https://www.adopttogether.org/theludwigs/

-Prayer. While we ask you all to generally be in prayer for us, we are looking to build a team of people who will very seriously and intentionally commit to pray for us through this time. If you would like to be part of this team, you can leave your email address in the comment line or email me with it and I will add you to a list of people who will receive regular updates about how they can be praying.

There will be more opportunities to help in other ways as we continue to move forward in this process, but I wanted to share those two with you now, as they are both pressing needs. To stay up to date on our adoption journey, please hit the “follow” button on this page. That way, you won’t miss a thing! This will be the primary way we keep people posted on the process going forward (I won’t always link to Facebook or send an email as I don’t want to be too pesky).

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and for your desire to be part of this adventure we are on. The love, support, and joy that surrounds our family has compelled us to share what we have been given. Thank you. We love you all.

what dad thinks (guest post by David Ludwig)

When people hear that we are inviting in two kids from Africa to join our family, the response we frequently receive is either a look of compassion (typically not for the kids we’re adopting but for Jess and I and our apparent inability to make rational decisions on behalf of our family), and/or a look of unmistakable curiosity.

To make things worse, when the person finally asks “why” we are adopting, as an internal processor, I typically resort to as brief of an answer as possible.  Something like “it’s gonna be fun…” which usually doesn’t give people the type of insight into my thought process they are looking for.

So here it is…

There are three things that have been the primary influences on my decision to adopt two kids from Africa.  First, my three years of teaching Jr. High math/science in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), and second, two guys who, if you saw them walking toward you on the sidewalk, you’d think they were twins: Rob Bell and Kid President.

For 3 years after college I taught for an LAUSD Jr. High school that was 70% black and 30% Hispanic.  Over the course of those 3 years as I became more familiar with my students, their lives, and the struggle they routinely had to overcome that I didn’t even know existed (because I never had to or never will have to face), Jess and I began a conversation about what it might look like to bring a child in as our own who typically wouldn’t be able to experience stability, support, and consistency in a home environment.  So the conversation of adoption between Jess and I started over 13 years ago as a result of my teaching experience and has just resurfaced in this last year as we have been talking about our future as a family and if there were any more “Ludwig children” to come.

Post teaching I began to spend the better hours of my day in ministry to students, and like every other Youth Pastor during the early 2000’s, I became very familiar with Rob Bell’s Nooma films.  The teaching in the film Rhythm had a profound influence on not only my decision to adopt, but also my attempt to understand God. Rob Bell begins the film by stating that we can’t know God fully (this resonated well with me b/c I’m convinced you couldn’t explain to me how my car works in the same amount of pages as the bible let alone fully reveal a God we cannot see). He goes on to say that although we can’t fully know God, He can be compared to a song that has been “heard” all throughout human history through acts of love, downward mobility, justice, righteousness, compassion, and mostly through Jesus.  And so at the end of the day, as his children, we are best off orienting our lives around the “song” of God, keeping rhythm with what he is doing in the world. In my mind, the idea of adoption is something that is in rhythm of what God is up to in the world- extending a community of love and grace and peace to those who do not have it.

Finally from the endless wisdom of the cultural icon that is Kid President… “if Robert Frost is correct and there really are two roads that we can travel… I want to go down the road that leads to awesome.”  Jess and I know it will be difficult at times, but we feel that adopting children who don’t have a family fits into the category of “awesome” and we are excited to be heading down this road.

the “waiting” stage

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This is the stage you realize God can put a vicious fight in you for a kid without your blood coursing through his veins. Those early doubts about loving a child without the helpful instincts of biology are put to rest. Of course, you don’t know this kid yet, but you love him in your heart, in your bones. You’ll fight like hell to get to him. You can’t think of anything else. You are obsessed. You dream about him like you did when you were pregnant. You realize that when God said He sets the lonely in families, He meant it, and He doesn’t just transform the “lonely” but also the “families.” He changes us for one another. God can create a family across countries, beyond genetics, through impossible circumstances, and past reason.

-Jen Hatmaker

Link

Sign this (please).

I often look at the magnitude of the brokenness in the world and feel that there is little I can do about it. I am passionate about living a life of love that leaves people, places and things better off and more whole than when I came across them, but still, my potential impact can seem so small in comparison to the size of the problems in the world.

Every once in a while I come across small things that actually make a big difference, and this is one of them. Conservative estimates say more than 10 million children around the world live outside a family setting, in institutions or on the street. In reality, that number may be much higher. 

Adoptions into the U.S. have fallen by more than 60 percent since 2004, due in large part to a broken system filled with delays, bureaucracy, discrimination and staggering costs.

By sacrificing a small amount of time (it took me about 1 minute to fill it out) we can be advocates for these children and these families who are waiting around the world. To me, it seems like a small sacrifice for a potentially big impact. I hope you will join me.

Here’s to bringing kids home and to ending the false assumption that we can’t make a difference in the world at large.

victor becomes a braverman

Video

I don’t watch Parenthood, but not too long ago I was told I should. So, when Dave and I were sitting down in front of the tv (a rare occurrence) looking for something fun and lighthearted to watch and we came across this show, I remembered the recommendation from a friend and suggested we watch it. For some reason I had it in my head that this was going to be a funny show, so I had high hopes of a good laugh and a mindless viewing experience. Turns out my expectations could not have been more wrong. I was crying by the first commercial break- disturbed and yet comforted by this very real look at the “messiness” of family life. The episode wrapped up with this scene, and I have not been able to get it out of my head ever since. To me, this is a beautiful picture of “family” and also a beautiful picture of the Gospel. It came up again today at a conference I’m at for work, so I thought I’d share it here. This has implications for both my personal and my professional life right now- adoption seems to be a theme that is being woven through every facet of my life these days. I am both nourished and challenged by it all. This is crazy stuff. Enjoy!

(Note: I do not mean this is a good picture of the Gospel because these parents are doing such a good thing by “rescuing” this boy who has no family. That is cool, but it is not the point. It is a picture of the Gospel because we, too, are that boy who has been brought into a beautiful and quirky family. We are loved completely and given an identity and full rights as children that we do not otherwise deserve. Something deep within me comes alive when thinking about this. Yes. This is the type of love and family I want to define my life and my work. More on this in a later post…)