Day 6…Chipotle on South Beach

Day 6 was more eventful than I would have liked, and not because of our South Beach diet. Late in the afternoon, while on the way to purchase a quick drive-through supper for my children, so I could grab eldest son from wrestling camp and allow him to eat/change in the car while we drove across town to his last baseball game of the season, which we’d hoped to enjoy as a family….I had a “fender bender” of sorts. I will not go into detail other than to say this was one of my more traumatic car accidents I’ve been in, and I’ve been in two others which qualified as pretty serious. We are all ok, and the other party involved appears alright, and for this I am incredibly thankful.

The evening didn’t turn out the way we’d planned, and the hour was late when Jay finally returned home with our ballplayer, whom I personally think looks adorable in his uniform, but you can’t tell a 10 year old boy that to his face.

 

My dear husband was kind enough to bring supper for the two of us since I was in no state to cook.  We each enjoyed a Chipotle burrito bowl, which I hear can actually be more healthy than their salads depending on what you choose to put in yours!

 

 

None of their wonderful rice (which we LOVE!), since that’s off limits right now. But we enjoyed chicken or beef (depending on which one of us you talk to), black beans, a sprinkling of cheese, fajita veggies, salsa, and lettuce. Jay nixed the fajita veggies in favor of adding sour cream to his. All very delicious, and even in line with Phase 1 requirements.

Personally for me, after a less than relaxing afternoon, it took an awful lot of willpower to pass up enjoying a relaxing glass of wine with our meal, but I contented myself with water (and a lot of prayer!).

For future reference, a Barbacoa Burrito Bowl at Chipotle with their delicious beef, black beans, cheese, lettuce, and tomato salsa has only 410 calories and 17 grams of fat. This in comparison to their Chicken Salad with chicken, lettuce, black beans, red salsa, cheese and chipotle honey vinaigrette which packs a whopping 720 calories and 41 grams of fat. As most of my readers likely are aware, salad isn’t always the healthier choice!

Day 5 on the Beach…

Day 5 on the beach went well. Since it was Sunday, I had my diet partner around for the second day in a row which is great because we can commiserate  together keep each other accountable to stay on track. After church in the morning, swimming with friends in the afternoon, and a baseball game for our oldest son in the early evening, we wanted something cool and fresh-feeling for supper.

I grabbed some already-cooked shrimp, threw together a garden salad with some fresh veggies and low fat blue cheese, and we reheated our asparagus from Day 2 for our second side. Once again I forgot to take the picture before we began to eat, so you get to enjoy seeing my plate partway full of food!

As you can see from my hastily-snapped photo, we enjoyed cocktail sauce with our shrimp. Which raises the topic of sauces: ketchup and other condiments often have too high of a sugar content to earn the “South Beach” stamp of approval. I purchased a low sugar ketchup to use in making our cocktail sauce

added a goodly amount of horseradish and lemon juice, and voila! we could dip our shrimp!

Last night as we sat down to watch the Mavs win the Championship (YAY Mavs, you ROCK!!), it hit me: no wonder I can lose weight on this South Beach diet: every time I feel an urge to reach for a snack of something I love, I am immediately struck by the thought that “I can’t eat that, because it’s not on the diet!”. ARGH!

Almost everything I would eagerly reach for to snack upon is forbidden for now. I would expect all the sweet stuff to be off limits: the wonderful yummy things like ice cream and cookies, cake, brownies, pancakes dripping with maple syrup, french toast. Sure, ok. The challenge for me with South Beach is that even healthy snacks like fruit, popcorn, wheat crackers and cheese, apple and peanut butter…none of it is allowed right now in Phase 1. I can still have the cheese (low fat) and peanut butter (low fat, no sugar) but they seem sad and lonely without their carb-ful sides/dippers. And so far I have not learned to love veggies and cheese or veggies and peanut butter.

Well, I have learned one thing about myself at least: I enjoy my carbs, and I enjoy my snacking. I think it’s safe to say that both Jay and I are practically fantasizing about the healthy carbs we will finally be able to enjoy again in exactly 9 days (not that we are counting!) once Phase 1 of the diet is complete.

In the meantime, we like what our scales read in the morning, and I am greatly encouraged by feeling like I fit in my clothes again properly. When you are 5’4″, a few extra pounds really do impact you quickly, and they can make everything feel so uncomfortable! I am also thrilled to report that my energy levels continue to feel very, very good even, really much better than they’ve been in months. Almost makes saying “no” to some of my favorite things completely worth it, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being grumpy about missing some of my favorite snackie foods for now. Well, I gotta run…I hear a tomato calling me. DELISH!

South Beach Hits the Road

Day 4:

We spent Day 4 of South Beach: Phase 1 on the road as we had an out of town funeral to attend in honor of a friend. We left our house shortly after 6 am and returned around 6pm. I commented to Jay that given we planned to be on the road, we probably shouldn’t attempt to hold ourselves too strictly to South Beach, because it would likely prove challenging, and we were already in for a rather long day. Remember how I told you that he has tremendous will-power? He would hear none of my waffling. He responded that of course we were going to stick to our diet, we could absolutely make it work, even if we did plan to spend eight hours of the day in the car, driving!!

So…I am here to tell you that following South Beach on the road is actually doable, at least in our very, admittedly, isolated experience of one day!! Given our tummy troubles from the day before, we limited veggie consumption early in the day. Breakfast consisted of coffee with non fat half ‘n’ half and splenda, plain lowfat yogurt and hard boiled eggs, all of which I packed from home.

For our morning snack we enjoyed a handful of nuts.

I assumed we’d try to find some restaurant for lunch that would serve meat and veggies. As Providence would have it, the flat tire from last week, which had been repaired, began leaking air again during our drive. It had to be repaired before we attempted to drive home. Immediately after the funeral we checked our maps for the closest Discount Tire store, and mapped the location of the nearest restaurant to the store. (Since we’d have to walk to lunch in 100 degree Texas heat, with one of our party still sporting a severely broken toe, something farther away just wouldn’t do.)

And thankfully there was a Wendy’s right next door. Yay!

After looking over their menu (keep in mind NO starchy carbs are allowed these first 2 weeks: that means no bread, nothing with a bread coating on it, and no potatoes) I chose a small cup of chili, a small side salad, and their grilled chicken sandwich minus the bun and sauce (since sugar is out, so is honey mustard). Oh, and I had a lowfat milk. I finished only half my salad and chicken, packing the rest for home. That chili was about the most delicious thing I’d ever tasted!

Jay also had a cup of chili, and opted for one of their Cobb salads.

In all honesty, neither the blue cheese nor the bacon in his salad was lowfat, so he did cheat a bit, but all in all I think we did very well!

Our afternoon snack (the creator of South Beach strongly suggests enjoying both a mid morning and mid-afternoon snack) was again, a handful of nuts. Admittedly, had I found time to pack a cooler we would have had more cold options available as snacks.

We arrived home just in time for supper. To keep things easy, we threw tuna “burgers” on the grill, and I popped a “steam in the bag” pack of Edamame into the microwave. Meanwhile, for our second side, I tried another “South Beach” recipe I have seen in my cookbooks.

Surprise South Beach Mashed “Potatoes”:

  • 4 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 ounce “smart” butter (I used Smart Balance)
  • 1-2 ozs fat-free half-and-half
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch cracked pepper
  • thyme, to taste
  • lowfat parmesan cheese (just a sprinkling!)
  •  

    Steam or microwave cauliflower until soft. Puree cauliflower in food processor and add butter, half and half, and all spices to taste, mixing to blend. Finish off with a sprinkling of the cheese.

    (Notes) I added the thyme and cheese to enhance the flavor of the dish. I also didn’t want to bother with the food processor, so ended up trying first the hand-held mixer, and then the hand-held blender to mash the cauliflower. Small bits of cauli flew all around, so the folks who suggested using the processor seem to have known what they were talking about. Just saying.

    Everyone says this recipe “will fool people” into thinking they are eating mashed potatoes. While we did not agree with this conclusion, we really did enjoy this dish, and I will plan to make it again.

    I forgot to take a picture before we ate, so had to use the empty box to represent our tuna burgers!

    I am happy to report that our tummies did indeed recover from the ickiness of Day 4. We’ll see how we do from here on out.

    Days 2 and 3 “on the Beach”

    Day 2:

    Day 2 on the beach went alright. We successfully stayed away from the carbs and sugars we are eliminating for right now. Supper looked like this (from my point of view, it was missing a nice baked potato or other equally delicious rendering of this most beloved starch, and maybe in general was a bit heavy on the green veggies, but all in all very tasty!):

    And after supper the two oldest children helped me bake a “delicious” Lemon Ricotta Creme Souffle, an SB Phase 1-approved dessert. Now, if I’m being completely honest, only the book claimed it was delicious. I personally give it a rating of “so so”, but admittedly, I am a fan of the white flour, sugar, and butter!! Still, this was interesting and I’m glad we tried it. But in the future I will likely spare myself the work to bring about this end result.

    With that rave review and since I am now posting the recipe, I know you are going to race straight to the kitchen and whip up some of this souffle for you and the ones you love….but before you do that, check below for the Day 3 report.

    Creamy Lemon Vanilla Ricotta Souffles:

    1 cup part-skim ricotta

    2 large eggs, separated

    3 tbs granular sugar substitute

    2 tsp grated lemon zest

    1/2 tsp lemon extract

    1/2 tsp vanilla extract

    pinch salt

    Preheat oven to 375. Coat 4 ramekins with cooking spray.

    In a large bowl, whisk ricotta, egg yolks, 1 tablespoon of the sugar substitute, lemon zest, lemon extract, and vanilla until combined.

    In another bowl, with an electric mixer (I used a handheld) at high speed, beat egg whites and salt till soft peaks form, 2-3 minutes. Add remaining 2 tbs sugar substitute and continue beating till stiff peaks form. Gently fold a third of the egg whites into ricotta mixture till combined. Repeat with remaining egg whites.

    Spoon ricotta mixture into prepared ramekins

    and bake till souffles have risen and are set and lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

     

    So yes, these are the finished product. Please note that the dark spot in my picture above is not a roach, but a little section of our countertop which has peeled away from the rest of the formica. And yes, those are a set of goggles and some sunscreen in the photo; I am trying hard to just capture a slice of real life here.

    After tasting my souffle, I decided a sprinkle of cinnamon and some very light whipped cream (has less than 1g of sugar per serving so I don’t think I am cheating too awfully) added something to the overall enjoyment.

    Day 3:

    Day 3 on the beach started out just fine. Despite fantasizing hourly about gooey chocolate chip cookies warm from the oven, I was greatly encouraged by my morning weigh-in (actually the creator of the diet really discourages weigh-ins, but on this point I really do not listen well). Feeling more comfortable already in my clothing was quite encouraging, and Jay said he could tell a difference at his weigh-in too. So in spite of our cravings for the carbs we missed, we felt motivated to press on.

    And then around midday, our tummies began rumbling in a most unpleasant way. I’ll spare you most of the details, but let’s just say that for the remainder of the day there were plenty of strange gurglings and many other unpleasant symptoms we experienced. Due to our little woes, supper on Day 3 consisted of a couple of spoonfuls of plain yogurt. With a side of Immodium.

    Frankly, this was the hardest stage of the diet for me so far. When my tummy is sad, all I want are some saltines and then maybe a nice plain 1/2 a bagel, slightly warm from my toaster. Even a plain frozen waffle feels comforting (after it is toasted, and no longer frozen, of course). I google searched for “what to eat on South Beach Phase 1 when you have _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ” but found nothing helpful. I did learn that we are not the first South Beachers to experience this most unpleasant side effect. Some attribute it to possibly the extra fiber in one’s diet during this first phase, while others believe it to be a combination of the fiber and the consumption of some sugar substitutes which are known to cause stomach upset in some people.

    Regardless, I give Jay credit for helping me to stay “on the beach” on Day 3. I feel certain I would have just given up and grabbed myself a saltine or two had he not held firm. Let’s hear it for awesome hubbies!

    Accidental Recipes and the Best Broccoli Ever!

    A couple of days ago we returned home from a trip to Target to discover

    1 – We had a flat tire

    and

    2 – The large freezer in the garage was apparently defrosting inside, despite the door being firmly shut.

    The tire had to wait till the next day for my sweet husband to attend to it (thankful both that Jay saw to the tire, and that he kindly switched cars with me so that I could ferry the rest of us to our appointment we needed to keep that morning).

    The freezer worried me a little (had it stopped working suddenly?) but after a thorough questioning of the troops, I discovered that a little blonde-headed tyke had come upon the door slightly ajar earlier in the day (likely thanks to the youngest member of the family) and had dutifully shut it immediately, but didn’t realize he should maybe let the Momma of the house know.

    The only food greatly affected other than my beloved Tin Roof ice cream appeared to be a package of pork chops near the opening, which I snatched out of the (mostly still) icy box, and took to the kitchen for a thorough inspection. Deeming them still slightly frozen and safe to cook with, I rinsed them with water, then dumped them into a ziplock bag with the following hastily-concocted marinade:

    Grilled Pork Chops (aka the main supper course on Day one of South Beach Phase 1):

    7-ish pork loin chops

    1/2 cup remaining white balsamic vinaigrette in the fridge (Wow, I just learned how to spell “vinaigrette” been doing it wrong for years!)

    splash of low sodium soy sauce

    few more splashes balsamic vinegar

    couple splooshes of dijon mustard (yes, I did say “Sploosh”…if you are wondering, I think a “sploosh” is just a tad larger than a “splash”.)

    Toss into fridge overnight. Heat grill, and plop the pork chops on the rack. Cook till done, give yourself bonus points for nice dark grill marks in special patterns on either side of the lovely chops.

    You can see that we also enjoyed broccoli that first night. Shout-out to my friend Chrys, mom to four boys ages 5 and under (God bless her) and the wonderful woman who shared this recipe with me. It is absolutely my favorite way to enjoy this delicious vegetable.

    Oven-Roasted Broccoli:

    About a pound (maybe 2 heads?) of broccoli, cut into pieces

    2-ish cloves of minced garlic

    2 tbs olive oil

    sea salt to taste

    fresh cracked pepper to taste

    Fresh lemon juice (use half a lemon)

    (optional) small sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese

    Toss broccoli with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. You careful cooks will do this in a bowl, me, I hate to get one more dish dirty so I just toss it all together on the cookie sheet I’m going to roast with. Pop the broccoli into a 425 degree oven, and roast about 10 minutes or until slightly browned around the edges. It will smell wonderful!! Remove from oven, spritz all over with the lemon juice, and if you like, sprinkle with parmesan. Now: try to keep from eating the entire panful before supper starts!!

    Note: I will sometimes add cauliflower to the mix for fun, and to change the recipe up a bit. Ina Garten also has a wonderful take on this recipe, it makes about four times the amount listed here, and adds some additional ingredients which look delicious. I see Ina tosses her broccoli with the garlic and olive oil right there in the pan, too, so I consider myself in very good company!

    South Beach

    It’s been a week since my clumsy run-in with my bathroom door jamb and I am still much more bothered than I thought I’d still be at this point by my pesky toe. Never you mind that my new friend, the Orthopedic Surgeon (whom we’ll assume for the sake of argument knows a bit more about broken bones than I) assured me to expect a full six weeks’ time to allow the toe to properly heal. I like to push the envelope a bit. For now, I am contenting myself with having graduated from walking with crutches to gimping around with the help of this bit of glam footwear.

    I’ve done alright, but am still in a fair bit of pain. Today the metatarsal which I broke back in 6th grade began plaguing me painfully; I attribute this new ache to the weird way I am walking on my injured foot.

    But you don’t want to read all about my aches and pains…

    I decided that if I couldn’t work out (envelope-pusher or not, that is absolutely out of the question for now) to help rid myself of these few pesky pounds I’ve acquired, I could do the next best thing: change my eating habits. And so after a bit of research into various diets which span the gamut from crazy fad diet all the way to the simple “Eat Less” (kudos to my awesome brother, Pete who has lost and kept off a significant amount of weight with this ground-breaking method!), I have settled on and begun the South Beach. Yes, ok it might sound a little “2003”, but it seems a fairly reasonable way to knock out a few pounds while still eating in a mostly balanced fashion. Being the smooth talker that I am, I have gotten my darling husband (who has, himself hinted at wanting to drop a few pounds) to jump on board with me, and so as of today we are two days into the first phase of South Beach, aptly termed “Phase 1”.

    I won’t bore you with the science and chemistry behind what you are allowed to eat and not eat in the various phases of the diet; suffice to say I think it is sound for the most part, and it is centered around eating the right kinds of carbs and really minimizing sugar for the first couple of weeks. The hardest part of this is foregoing any and all starches which I LOVE LOVE LOVE. Not to mention saying goodbye to alcohol for a full two weeks.

    Here is the one observation I have to share at this early stage: in spite of feeling somewhat hungry as I gaze longingly at the Wheat Thins, homemade granola that a sweet friend made us (M, I promise I enjoyed quite alot of it before succumbing to SB!), Cheetos, bread, cookies, ice cream, Triscuits, my wonderful friend Tia…

    and so many more delicious things that are, for now, off limits….

    That in spite of this, or maybe, because (I am starting to believe), because these things are off limits, I have had more energy yesterday and today than I can recall in a long time. A very, very very LOOOOOOOONG time.  And it has given me pause. I have read over and over about how refined carbs will ultimately lead to blood sugar crashing, and then inevitably, a craving for more of the same. I have never been a gluttonous eater, but I enjoy mostly what I want to enjoy, in moderation. Admittedly, along with the better carbs, there are a fair amount of the more refined variety in my regular diet. Which isn’t a bad thing. BUT….I have been truly amazed at the way my body has responded to the removal of starches. Two days is not nearly enough time to draw huge, sweeping conclusions, but let’s just say I am encouraged to stay the course through the end of Phase 1 and see how I feel after two weeks of eating this way.

    For his part, Jay called me during his commute home today and begged me to have some sort of”South Beach approved” snack ready and waiting when he walked in the door or he vowed to eat his steering wheel right then and there. Despite his good-natured whining, my man has way more willpower than I do, so I believe he’ll be a perfect diet partner and either encourage me faithfully or drive me nuts with his ability to “be good”!

    I have faithfully taken photos of our suppertime meals in addition to a couple of new recipes I’ve tried and I hope to post recipes and observations as we progress. So for now I will leave you with an iphone pic showing what we enjoyed for supper our first night “on the beach”: grilled pork loin chops, roasted broccoli, and a garden salad.

     

     

     

    It Was Inevitable

    Summer is officially here, folks. Oh joy! My little darlings and I have looked forward to swimming with friends, consuming copious amounts of ice cream, making many trips to the library and spending lazy hours with good books, watching movies late into the night while we all snuggle on the couch and so much more. All my kids love school, but after 9 busy months, we are all so ready to not be tied down to a strict schedule for a while.

    I, however, in the midst of all this summer merry-making had one serious personal goal I really wanted to attain during these next 3 months: given my calendar is now clear of most activities, appointments, lessons and carpools, I wanted to take the opportunity to proactively focus on fitness.  For a couple months now, things in my closet have felt a little tighter than they should, and despite keeping a pretty stiff pace day to day, I have just felt sluggish and not as good as I probably ought. Those of you who know me well know that I LOVE to contemplate the idea of exercise a whole lot more than I enjoy starting the actual exercise itself. But I had already made a verbal commitment to those who are closest to me that working on my own personal fitness was at the top of my “to do” list for June, July and August.

    I had no intentions of trying to achieve an Elle MacPherson-like physique; that, as my dear friend Steph broke it to me gently, is impossible simply because well…God made her tall, and me, not so much. I can do nothing about the fact that Elle is 6′ to my 5’4″. I’m glad Steph pointed this out to me…after all, that’s what friends are for, right? To help you deal with reality. Thanks, Steph, because we both know that were it not for the shortfall in height, it is almost certain that after a rigorous summer of exercise I could totally stand in for Elle. Ahem.

    No, I just wanted to do the best I could do with the body and abilities God gave little old me. And I can tell you that starting from a place of almost no regular exercise, one cannot help but improve the status quo. So, in spite of feeling suitably intimidated over how sore my body was going to be, and how much pain I was likely going to be experiencing a matter of days, and despite bemoaning all the ice cream cones I would likely have to forego in the pursuit of my clothes fitting nicely again, I was ready. Ready to bite the bullet and get back into better shape.

    Well, sadly…I think I am going to get a lot more friendly with the status quo for the next few weeks, because for now at least I have had to say farewell to my lofty fitness intentions. This morning while simply attempting to walk into my bathroom, I missed the doorway and instead smashed into the doorjam in a most horrid way, fracturing at least one toe in the process. Not sure if the toe next to it is just bruised or also broken, but it really doesn’t matter. I have broken many toes in the last 12 years and this is about as bad a break as I’ve experienced. No P90X, faithful elliptical workouts, or trips to the gym are in my immediate future. Bummer.

    I gotta say though, if one has to break a toe and be laid up, I am blessed to have some of the sweetest folks around to lend a hand and help cheer me. Like this little guy, who despite not finding the ice pack he wanted to give me for my poor toes, quickly reached for the first handy cold thing: his yogurt drink, which he faithfully held on my foot for as long as I would let him. Oh my heart.

    And even though I’ll be sedentary for a little while to come, I did manage to find a really awesome personal trainer to work with me. Her name is Tia. She is snappy, wonderful, and tastes delicious! Here she is with her sidekick, Joe.

    Joe T. Garcia to be more precise. I hear he’s pretty fabulous to work with too. While Tia and Joe are working with me, I think it might be practical to look for another personal goal to pursue. So maybe, just maybe…I might work on getting back into the blogging thing. We’ll see…

     

    Updated to add:

    A visit to my PCP the day after my little run-in with the door jam netted me a pretty set of x-rays confirming a triple break in my 4th toe. The complexity of the break and its proximity to a joint necessitated a visit to a very cool Orthopedic Surgeon who at least for now has told me that he thinks the breaks will heal without the benefit of surgery. What a relief to this Momma! I am on a cool new drug called Vimovo — rolls off the tongue in a lovely way, dontcha’ think? Unlike most anti-inflammatory meds, it contains an ingredient to minimize the most unpleasant side effect I experience while on these drugs, that of my stomach being ripped apart by all the “stuff” in them. Good times, y’all.

    Why International Adoption???

    Recently a friend asked me what it was that prompted our family to choose International Adoption over Local or Domestic Adoption. Okay, actually….if I’m being anywhere near truthful, it wasn’t all that recently that our friend asked us this. It was back in uhhhhhhh, (clears throat) July. (Sorry, Melissa, for taking so ridiculously long to write the post I promised!)

    Regardless of how long it has taken me to answer Melissa, I have to say GOOD QUESTION! And one I am happy to answer.

    But first, I have to say that I love getting questions from people who are genuinely interested in why we are adopting, where we are in the process, how it is all going, etc. Thanks to everyone who checks in with us and for all the encouragement we have received already. We feel so very blessed by our family and friends and all the support we are surrounded with. If you ever have a question about adoption, whether in general or more specifically about our journey, I absolutely encourage you to ask it! I also encourage you to be patient like Melissa because with the pace of life around here lately, I may or may not be timely with my response!

    So: the question about how we chose international adoption. It is a fact that there are orphans both here in the United States as well as all around the world. Children here and children abroad are in need of parents who love them. In need of family. Far be it from any of us to stand up and state that children here in the United States are more deserving of a family than the children who live across the world. Or vice versa.

    Truthfully, deciding which type of adoption our family was going to pursue was both easy and hard. How did we do it? Why did we decide to go international?? Well, the short answer for our family is that so many doors opened in that direction and we honestly felt very led to pursue International adoption. We pondered, prayed, asked lots of questions, and researched a ton, and the people and events that were placed in our path all pointed toward going International. Most specifically, our school and church friends, Michael and Jana Funderburk, who were part of our church home group, adopted their own precious Ruthie from Ethiopia, and not too long after, moved their family to Ethiopia to work in country with Gladney Adoption Services. And so we have started on the journey that God appears to be leading us on.

    That is not to say we didn’t wrestle with the fact that there are orphans right here in the United States who are in need of families. There are currently about 130,000 children in the American Foster Care System who have been cleared for adoption. These children need moms and dads every bit as much as the orphans who wait around the world for a family to call their own.  We are thrilled that some of our very best friends in the world, Mark and Susan Peck, are even now in process to adopt a child or sibling set from their state’s foster care system. For over a year and a half now we have waited excitedly as they work with the folks in Missouri to prepare to adopt children out of foster care and into their family.

    If you ask Mark and Susan what led them to adopt from CPS, they will tell you that it felt very natural to them because people who were put into their lives have themselves adopted from CPS and they have lived among these families and seen their adopted children thrive. These children go to church and school with them, they live in their neighborhood. They are friends with Mark and Susan’s four kiddos, and simply put: they are in a community where they have seen local adoption done well, and where they have a ton of support in place as they prepare to add two more children to their already large family.

    I ramble on about the Pecks because their adoption journey is very similar to ours in that we have responded to what we have seen around us here, and when we see adoption, at least in our circle (admittedly a small sample size, but it is where we have been put!) it is almost always international. When you are stepping out into new territory, there is comfort in knowing you have families around you who have navigated that territory as well, and that you have some built-in support going into it all. (I know families who have been the first in their circle to adopt, and my hat is off to them for being the pioneers in their world as they see it.)

    One of our younger boys’ best buddies from church is a beautiful little guy from Guatemala. Our families are in Home Group together. One of my daughter’s sweet friends from school is a hilarious little girl from China. Our beloved Kindergarten teacher and friend, Jami and her husband brought back gorgeous twin girls from Ethiopia. The list goes on…but after Michael and Jana moved to Ethiopia to work with Gladney, we learned a lot more about the plight of children in this particular country and the gigantic need for adoption.  Our hearts were moved to welcome home one of these many little ones in need of a family. Here are just a few stats that tell some of the story in Ethiopia:

    – Ethiopia has approximately 5 million orphans and the country is twice the size of Texas.

    – One in ten children die before their first birthday.

    – One in six children die before their fifth birthday.

    – 44% of the population of Ethiopia is under 15 years old.

    – Half the children in Ethiopia will never attend school.

    – 88% will never attend secondary school.

    – Ethiopia’s doctor to children ratio is 1 to 24,000.

    – Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any country in Africa.

    Did you read my first stat? 5 MILLION CHILDREN. When people ask us about where we are adopting from, and I tell them Ethiopia, and they then ask “Why Ethiopia?”, I often drop that number into the conversation because honestly it is just so staggering. It is so desperately sad that there are any orphans on this earth, but once we felt drawn to this particular country, the immense need that we saw there compelled us. Statistics tell the sad truth: that of the 5 million children in need of homes in Ethiopia, less than 1% will find their way into a family. The rest will never experience the miracle of adoption.

    The future prospects for children in Ethiopia who age out of the system, much like orphans in Russia and elsewhere, are very, very grim.

    One of my children asked me what good it would do to adopt just one little girl when 5 million children in one country alone need homes. Good question. In reality, the answer for most of Ethiopia’s orphans is probably not ultimately adoption. Or perhaps better said, not just adoption, but adoption as part of an overall plan. Organizations who give aid, and help families in country to be able to support the children are definitely needed. Gladney, our agency, in addition to facilitating adoptions, provides much-needed aid and support in country to children and adults of all ages, including many children who will never be adopted. In addition, I have seen a trend that families who adopt from Ethiopia have a heart for the people of their child’s birth country, and they often look for ways to give back. We are seeing wells built, schools and homes established, and other wonderful forms of support put into place. I hope and pray that such efforts and compassion poured out will indeed begin to make a huge difference in the plight of orphans in Ethiopia.

    But back to adoption: there is no replacement for a family. Growing up in an institution, while admittedly much better than living on the street, or in slavery, does not in any way begin to equal the love and support of a family to call your own. As long as there are children who need families, there will be a need for adoption. So….as to the question of what good does it do to adopt “just one” out of millions?  I leave you with what is an old, old story, but one which beautifully illustrates the “why”…

    A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.

    She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”

    The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and politely replied,

    “Well, I made a difference to that one!”

    – adapted from the Star Thrower by Loren C. Eiseley

     

    4 Months on the Wait List

    Tomorrow marks four official months on the wait list in Ethiopia with Gladney. Four months closer to our referral for a little girl we haven’t yet met or even seen a picture of, but whom we are already in love with.

    (Thanks to my adorable in-house models for their help in illustrating “FOUR”!)

    Well, after saying in February that the months on the waitlist have been the quietest so far in our adoption journey, I am ready to eat my words!! It’s not that we have had a long list of “to-do’s” to accomplish like earlier in the process. But wow, this last month of waiting has seen some very interesting activity: some very wonderful, some not so wonderful. Here are some highlights:

    * We have located 2 amazing doctors locally who have a wealth of experience and knowledge specific to children adopted from Ethiopia. The stories behind finding these doctors are encouraging and I look forward to sharing more with you in a future post. We are so thankful to know we have these women on our team as we bring our daughter home.

    * A couple of weeks ago Jay and I were humbled to learn we have been awarded a Matching Funds Grant from a partnership between Lifesong and Irving Bible Church. We are blown away and grateful for this HUGE provision for our adoption and again, please stay tuned for more information in a future post.

    * As you may already be aware from reading the news reports, there have been some significant changes these last couple of weeks in the country of Ethiopia which affect how court cases are processed for adoptions. We do not have full information yet as to what the ramifications may or may not be in the long term for the children who are waiting, and for prospective adoptive parents. For now we are praying and hoping that things may be resolved soon and that so many children who are in desperate need of families will be able to come home sooner rather than later.

    When we started the adoption process almost a year ago, four months was often well inside your “window” of time for when you’d receive a referral if you were requesting a child of toddler age (as opposed to an infant). The last year has seen some increases in wait times and so we know we’ll most likely be waiting quite a few more months. As we wait, we pray for not only our tiny girl but for all the precious children who wait and hope for a family. We are so thankful to be on this journey.