Father’s Day

June 20, 2009 at 10:24 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The following is a portion of an article about fatherhood by Andrew Peach that I read the other day and thought it was a ‘nail on the head’ article!

Fatherhood is a hard, hard job but my husband does it really well!   Whatever his single life used to be – I’m sure it’s completely unrecognizable by now as he’s poured himself out thousands of times for all the other Hardings around him.   He is that faithful solider mentioned below and he does it with strength and integrity and is always the one to bring the laughter!   Thanks, Tague,  for the joy of watching you father for 21 years!

(some shots below of him in action)

Most fathers-to-be suppose that their old ego-centered lives will continue more or less unabated after the child arrives. With the exception of a few more obstacles and demands on their time, their involvement with their children is envisioned as being something manageable and marginal. Nothing like a complete transformation—an abrupt end to their former life—really enters men’s minds.

But then the onslaught begins, and a man begins to realize that these people, his wife and children, are literally and perhaps even intentionally killing his old self. All around him everything is changing, without any signs of ever reverting back to the way they used to be. Into the indefinite future, nearly every hour of his days threatens to be filled with activities that, as a single-person or even a childless husband, he never would have chosen. Due to the continual interruptions of sleep, he is always mildly fatigued; due to long-term financial concerns, he is cautious in spending, forsaking old consumer habits and personal indulgences; he finds his wife equally exhausted and preoccupied with the children; connections with former friends start to slip away; traveling with his children is like traveling third class in Bulgaria, to quote H.L. Mencken; and the changes go on and on. In short, he discovers, in a terrifying realization, what Dostoevsky proclaimed long ago: “[A]ctive love is a harsh and fearful reality compared with love in dreams.” Fatherhood is just not what he bargained for.

Yet, through the exhaustion, financial stress, screaming, and general chaos, there enters in at times, mysteriously and unexpectedly, deep contentment and gratitude. It is not the pleasure or amusement of high school or college but rather the honor and nobility of sacrifice and commitment, like that felt by a soldier. What happens to his children now happens to him; his life, though awhirl with the trivial concerns of children, is more serious than it ever was before. Everything he does, from bringing home a paycheck to painting a bedroom, has a new end and, hence, a greater significance. The joys and sorrows of his children are now his joys and sorrows; the stakes of his life have risen. And if he is faithful to his calling, he might come to find that, against nearly all prior expectations, he never wants to return to the way things used to be.

Tague and the little boys

Tague and the little boys

Tague and all the boys

Tague and all the boys

Looking serious with the crew

Looking serious with some of the crew

helping with the basics

helping with the basics

being the fire-master

being the fire-master

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A kiddie pool provides LOADS of fun!

June 16, 2009 at 1:37 pm | Posted in family | 3 Comments

Philip

Zach

the youngest three

the youngest three

Philip 2

Delight

Wrapping it up

June 15, 2009 at 1:05 pm | Posted in adoption process | 2 Comments

Today we (finally!) mailed away our ‘post placement packet’ to our adoption agency.    It was filled with monthly reports on the boys’ progress, Ugandan legal paperwork, medical reports and the obligatory ton of documents to be notarized.  It feels good to have that stack of paperwork complete and paving the way for the final visit to the judge!

Now…. to the courthouse to pick up that set of papers.

A response (Part 2) – let’s get more personal

June 11, 2009 at 9:56 pm | Posted in adoption issues | 3 Comments
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The writer of the facebook comment accused us of cultural genocide:  The deliberate destruction of the culture or heritage of a people. Clearly, that was neither our intent or the result.

Back on November 19th I wrote these words from my guest room at the orphanage:

I am more convinced than ever that this adoption is of God.   The longer I’m here, the more I see that He has created a situation in time (in the Ugandan government) and in the general process here that is just a slip of an opening.   We are squeezing through the crack for these two specific children and are squeezing back out.    It’s a little like a parting of the Red Sea, actually.    Something incomprehensible and unreasonable and yet, it’s happening so that God can rescue His people and get them to the land of His choosing.

Today I still have no doubt whatsoever that Philip and Zachary are in the country and the culture of God’s choosing.   With only 55 children leaving Uganda last year to live in American homes, it makes the reality of their presence here all the more amazing.   But let’s get beyond the statistics and talk about it on a more human level.

Africa is a land of sweeping paradox.   Beautiful landscapes, exotic animals, a rich history and intoxicating music are all part of the African experience.    So is the unavoidable reality of limited educational opportunities, inadequate health care, a skyrocketing culture of AIDS and poverty,  disease-infested water and a host of other ills.  To let the preservation of their culture trump everything else would mean leaving Philip and Zachary to experience all of Uganda…..the beauty and the pain.

Perhaps it’s a matter of looking at the very corporate issue of ‘culture preservation’ from the other side of the coin.

I believe that anyone, if they saw a child lying limp in the street while a giant semi-truck was roaring towards them, would do what he could to shove that child out of harm’s way.     The semi racing towards third-world orphans is devastating.

No one gets to decide what hand you’re dealt.   My boys didn’t ask to be orphaned and only survived that status because they were brought to  Amani Baby Cottage. Many orphans aren’t as lucky.   Some die in trash heaps or are drowned in pit latrines or are left to wither in the tall reeds of a sugar cane field.   Some are lucky enough to be put directly into ‘orphan for life’ group homes.  Older children who are orphaned often live on the streets begging, selling small items, offering simple services or selling themselves to stay alive.    So what can we do to ‘shove a child out of the way’ of an impending catastrophe?

Surely, there are the legitimate macro concerns regarding the protection of a nation’s culture.  And it’s obvious that you need children around to preserve any country’s future.   But look into the eyes of a 2 year old orphan who has no family, who’s health is compromised by malnutrition, disease and neglect, who has no idea how to care for himself and no prospects of an adult to care for him, and suddenly the issue of ‘culture preservation’  drops a lot lower on the list of important things to debate.

When we looked into those eyes, all philosophical arguments paled completely out of view.

As we, personally, recognized Africa’s vast needs and pondered ways to best assist, we could not forget ~ The micro issues that involve real human beings are at least as important as the macro issues that surrounding culture protection.    Protecting the most vulnerable is absolutely necessary – and, with the blessing of the Ugandan government and the careful eye of social services in the US, adoption offers a beautiful and deliberate means to do just that.

A response (Part 1) – the cold, hard facts

June 9, 2009 at 7:16 pm | Posted in adoption issues | 3 Comments
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Our previous post referenced a quote that I received on facebook not long ago. The writer condemned our adoption calling our actions “horrific” and accusing us of committing cultural genocide in Uganda.

As promised, here’s our take on international adoption and it’s effects on the culture of Uganda. (Part 1)

We are well aware that we have intentionally removed two citizens of Uganda from their country and their culture. Uganda has lost Philip and Zach. And Philip and Zach have lost Uganda. That’s a reality. While we honor and celebrate our sons’ origins in Africa, we live in America and Philip and Zachary will become Americans in every way – including culturally.

Is that bad for Uganda? Does international adoption wound a culture and rob it of it’s rightful citizenry and hope for a future? If children were leaving Uganda by the hundreds of thousands, I would answer, “Yes”.

But that is not the case. The immigration and adoption statistics for 2008 were recently released by the U.S. State Department revealing that last year a total of 2,399 children were adopted into the US from the continent of Africa.   Of those, 55 were Ugandan.  Only fifty five!

In 2005 UNICEF reported the number of orphans in Uganda to be 2.3 MILLION .   55 children out of 2.3 million is a percentage almost infinitesimal in regards to its impact on the overall culture.

With an orphan population as staggering as Uganda’s (roughly the same as the population of America’s 4th largest city ~ Houston Texas) the nation’s infrastructure cannot possibly handle the demands it is faces in orphan care. There are church-run orphan villages , local ministries such as Wototo and ministries from the US such as Our Own Home that are doing a great job in ministering to orphans. There are good men and women working in the social welfare department and good government-run baby homes.  There are Ugandan families that adopt children and keep them in their culture. And there are international families that adopt children and remove them from their culture.  ALL of these efforts combine to make some difference in the lives of these most vulnerable children.

Fifty five internationally adopted children hardly constitute a death-blow to the culture and the future of Uganda.  Those who oppose international adoption because of the cultural damage it does to the birth nation suggest that adoption removes Africa’s brightest and best and, therefore removes the nation’s hope for a future.

While I agree that Philip and Zachary are some of the brightest and best, as orphans in their homeland they were not in a position to ever have a major influence on their culture. They were not in a position to stay alive long enough to do that. The trajectory of an orphan’s life in a third world country isn’t like a Hollywood movie.

Cross cultural adoption is not the only solution for Uganda’s orphans, but it is ONE solution that will, in fact, help to preserve the Uganda by reducing the number of orphans that need help from an already overwhelmed system.

Next post: the reasons supporting cross cultural adoption from a personal point of view.

An indictment

June 5, 2009 at 8:42 pm | Posted in adoption issues | 5 Comments
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The following (partial) quote was recently sent to me on Facebook:

What is happening in Africa is a human tragedy with vast proportions. What you have done is deliberate, self-serving and horrific….and totally Christian in it’s arrogant assumption that buying African children because you are American, white and can… is anything less than a cultural form of genocide.

The venom in this comment stings.      I feel the (intended) indictment of these harsh words.  And this is the most offensive and intense push-back we’ve gotten in the whole process.      Most people, Christian or not,  are extremely supportive.     This person obviously isn’t.

But the writer does pose an important question about transcultural adoption .     Should a child’s birth culture ‘trump’ his opportunity for adoption into another culture?    Does transcultural adoption contribute to the killing of the culture of another people group?

I’ll post our thoughts on this later. What do you think?

A really good deal

June 3, 2009 at 7:47 am | Posted in devotional | 3 Comments
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The Loveliness of Christ

The Loveliness of Christ

Recently I’ve been reading “The Loveliness of Christ” by Samuel Rutherford.   (Thanks to Caryn Turner ).   It is a very small book with bite sized quotes from the letters and writings of Rutherford, who lived in the 1600’s, and it has been the perfect reading companion for me lately since:

  1. it’s pocket sized and fits in my diaper bag
  2. it’s short ~ about 100 pages
  3. there are no chapters – only quotes, which makes me feel like I can read just a tiny bit and steep in it rather than trying to gobble whole chapters.
  4. It’s filled with beautiful and poetic nuggets of truth from Scripture.

I realize those are not all ‘high-brow’ reasons for liking a book, but it’s just where I am these days.   Anyway, I was struck by this quote :

“Poor folks must either borrow or beg the rich, and the only thing that commendeth a sinner to Christ is extreme necessity and want. Christ’s love is ready to make and provide a ransom and money for a poor body who hath lost his purse. ‘… ye that have no money, come and buy’ (Is. 55:1). That is the poor man’s market. “

Lately all I’m hearing about in real estate news is that it’s a buyer’s market.   It’s the time to buy.   There are deals out there that haven’t existed in years.

But the true market is the one that the soul shops in.   And if you’re ‘broke’ …  the best deals are in the market where the stuff is free.    It’s amazing that the owner of any shop would say, ‘You who have no money, come buy and eat!”    But that’s God’s market.

The transition we’ve all been through in the past six months has put a spot light on the parts of my soul that, shall we say,  are still un-conformed to the image of Christ.   I’ve discovered that I am less patient and more selfish than my life ‘before adoption’ made visible.   I was (am?) over-committed to calling the shots in my life and to having a decent amount of solo time now and again.   I am even more committed to order over chaos.   (which is not a good fit with two toddler boys on the loose)   I can pitch an internal fit that beats what Zachary can do any day. [see post below] But – there’s really good news!   Now is the best time of all to buy and the price is FREE!

It’s never easy to get a glimpse of the unwelcome stuff that still lurks in your soul  but if you would like a peek, I recommend adoption to you.    It will reveal the internal reality and has a unique ability to disrupt any thriving idolatry!   Thankfully,  Rutherford was right ~  It is a poor man’s market!

I’m celebrating that we have had our two youngest sons for half of a year and I’m celebrating that I get to come to the market of God with an empty purse and buy and eat drink til my soul is content ~ and reshaped.

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