This is America: Are We Listening

I’ve been watching the video for Childish Gambino’s (or as Cardi B wonders, is it Donald Glover?) song “This is America.” It is an important commentary on the America that our African American brothers and sisters experience that is different from my experience as a white American. The differences of privilege makes it necessary for me to listen to the experiences of others so that I might be able to stand beside and walk with my neighbors.

There are a lot of interpretations of what Gambino is trying to communicate in the video and there are many places on the internet to find those thoughts. A couple really stand out.

1. Treatment of Guns vs. Victims: Notice that the two times guns are used in the video, Gambino’s character gives them to a man who takes great care of them, wrapping them in a cloth/towel to protect versus the way the man killed by the gun is drug offscreen. There are those who are quick to cherish our guns (things) while disregarding victims/marginalized (people).

2. Distractions vs. Injustice: The dancing in the video, especially in groups, looks like any number of pop song dance routines. It really doesn’t fit the tone of the video- which is intentional. Look in the background of the video. There is chaos happening all around. The dancing takes our attention away from the injustices and chaos being portrayed. The news cycle has trained our minds to do this.

A great example of this is the recent news story that the hurricane is Puerto Rico killed over 4,000 people rather than the official 64 listed by the government. TV news stations greatly ignored this story and instead chose to focus on the racist remarks by Roseanne Barr that got her fired and her sitcom cancelled. (Read the analysis here)

Oh yeah, Puerto Rico still needs power. (Flint, MI still doesn’t have clean drinking water).

As Christians, and especially a white Christian, it is imperative to listen to our brothers and sisters, and the experiences that they have and are having. We cannot discount what they go through because it does not line up with our experience or because it is something we cannot relate to.

Watch the video. Listen to what it says through the medium of art/music. Where are there injustices happening that we too quickly gloss over through distractions?

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#BringCalebHome: Paperwork and Bonding

It’s Saturday afternoon here in Guangzhou, China as I am writing this. It is hot! Like 95 with suffocating humidity hot. We have had Caleb for five days and have about five days left before getting back to Delaware. One question we’ve been asked is why the trip to China is so long (15-16 days).

The process of adoption here (not sure about other places) is very linear and happens a step at a time. You cannot “Pass Go” or “collect $200” until the step before is complete. So here is a quick rundown of our itinerary and the process of adoption.

May 10-13: Arrive, Sightseeing in Beijing (helps adjust to the time change), fly to province.

May 14: Receive Caleb- 24 hours with Caleb before adoption

May 15: Officially Adopt Caleb, get everything notarized

May 16: Apply for Chinese passport

May 17th: Touring Day (waiting for paperwork to process)

May 18th: Health Clinic Check-up

May 19th: Touring/Shopping

May 20th: Zoo Visit

(Now we really start working our way home)

May 21st: Visa Appointment at the US Consulate

May 22nd: Shopping Day (i.e. waiting for paperwork)

May 23rd: Pick up Visas, go swimming one more time, pick favorite place to eat, and say good-bye to the other families.

May 24th: Leave Guangzhou and begin long journey home

Every step along the itinerary is build around paperwork of either the adoption or the visa process. Most of the appointments take 1-2 hours with travel. Some 3-4. Which leaves time during the day to bond with your child. Doing this in a hotel room is less than ideal- but families make it work.

Attachment/Bonding is a long process that has many stages over the course of weeks, months, and years. I think we are off to a good start, though you can see the difference in the process with Malachi (14 months at adoption) and Caleb (25 months at adoption).

We are ready to come home. We looking forward to a bowl of cereal, water with ice cubes, seeing Abbie and Malachi, and sleeping in our own beds. Thank you for your continued prayers!

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#BringCalebHome: Yuexiu Park

Across the street from our hotel is Yuexiu Park. It is a large park that we got to explore when we adopted Malachi and visited again today, with Chloe and Caleb. The park is lush and beautiful. Even after a couple of visits, we have not seen anywhere close to the entire park.

We were told during our first trip to China that the parks are the center of community-especially for those who are retired. The parks function as a meeting space, exercise space, a place to practice the arts, and a place to be entertained. In short, the parks are a outdoor senior center (that everyone can benefit from).

We were able to sit and watch a, for a lack of a better word, talent show that was happening at the amphitheater. There were groups in colorful costumes doing dances and singing songs. (For those in the Caesar Rodney Immersion Program, it feels/looks a lot like the Chinese New Year Celebration at Delaware State University.) The show started at 9:30 and ended at 11:30 a.m. before the real heat set in. There was a schedule set up and there are shows nearly every day in for people to participate in and watch. There were well over 100 people watching the show.

Instrumentalist would meet up with friends and jam, people would gathering around and play hacky-sack (Chinese version), and there were all sorts of exercise/Tai-Chi/dances going on with fans, umbrellas, and badminton rackets. The park is beautiful botanically. There were wonderfully landscaped areas, and orchid house, and traditional Chinese architecture throughout.

In short, the parks (like Yuexiu) provide space for the well-being of the individual and the community. It is a part of China that is beautiful and exciting to observe.

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#BringCalebHome: And Then There Were Six

It’s been a long birthing process- two years in the making. Little did we know that when we started to apply to adopt a second time in July 2016 that there was a little four month old boy who needed a forever family. Today, we met that little boy for the first time. His name is Caleb Hong Xi LaMotte.

The day started a little earlier than we anticipated. A thunderstorm woke us up at 2:00 am and I have been up since. Along with another family, we had to navigate the city to find a bank that would exchange our US currency for Chinese Yuan. While the teller, thankfully, spoke some English, it was a 45 minutes ordeal of paperwork and struggles through the language barrier to get the tasked accomplished. While it was lunchtime, our teller immediately closed her window as I walked away! I think she had had enough!

The receiving part of this adoption was much more organized than when we adopted Malachi. There were not as many families present, and they brought each child out one at a time to be united for their forever family for the first time. It made it easier to be in the moment and to capture that moment with some pictures.

Caleb came walking out with one of his caregivers. It was great to see him for the first time. He looked healthy and happy, until Andrea tried to pick him up. It was stranger danger! While he cried, he did settle in quickly until I tried picking him up which caused him to cry again. I am slowly working on a rapport with Caleb. This is to be expected as he has had women caregivers with, likely, very little interaction with men.

When we returned to the hotel, Andrea and Chloe accompanied Caleb back to our room where they began to play with some toys together. While the fun stopped when I entered the room, Andrea said that Caleb was laughing and showing off his personality. That personality is present in some of the pictures we received. While we know we have a long road of bonding and becoming, we were encouraged by our first few hours together.

Thanks to all those who continue to keep us in your prayers. We feel them and continue to covet them!

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#BringCalebHome: Day 2

Today was all about The Great Wall of China. We visited the Great Wall in 2014 when we came with Abbie to adopt Malachi. It was incredible then- and just as incredible now. There are myths about the wall. First, it is not one continuous wall. Two, you cannot see The Great Wall from the Moon.

When we came four years ago, we saw what we wanted to of the area. We had a good time watching the locals take pictures of Abbie (Blond hair!). But today we stepped up our game. This particular section of the wall is a 3km loop up and down some mountains. The stairs are steep and uneven. With Chloe’s approval, we decided to see how much of the loop we could hike in two hours.

We started out going along with everyone else, hitting the “steep side” first. It was a bit arduous. Andrea and I have both been running and working out, but we were also sucking air on some of the sections of the wall. Chloe, on the other hand, was excited and motivated. She served as encouragement for Andrea and I, calling out to us to “Pick up the pace” and “just a little bit farther.” She had a bounce in her step all day.

We made it to the peak fortress in about 45 minutes. By this time, the crowds had thinned out and we had most of the rest of the walk to ourselves. The views were still breathtaking even though a thick smog was present from Beijing. The walk down from the peak was steep, but our muscles were happy not to be climbing.

We also knew that we had to make a decision. We were either going to walk the entire thing and be late getting back to the bus, or we were going to walk about half of what was left where we were pretty sure that there was an escape route back to the beginning. Thankfully, we were able to get off the wall and back on level ground. The excitement didn’t end there as we realized that we were know outside of the park and had to get back in without our tickets, which our tour guide had. Andrea saved the day and used her Mandarin skills to ask if anyone spoke English at the ticket booth and we were let back in the park and reunited with our group.

We had a great day, making some memories that will stay with us for a long time! Tomorrow, we say good-bye to Beijing and fly to Guangzhou to prepare to receive Caleb into our family on Monday!

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#bringcalebhome: Day 1

We are wrapping up our first full day in China. We are presently in Beijing where we are getting adjusted to the time change while doing some sight seeing. One would think that adjusting to the time would be easier after after a 13 hour flight where there was little sleep-but that wasn’t the case. While we went to bed as soon as we could Thursday night, we were all up by 3 a.m. because our bodies told us it was 3 p.m.

So what did we do today?

Today was about keeping moving. We had the opportunity to visit Tianamem Square and the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City is fascinating because it was built in the 14th Century. It is a beautiful place. The garden at the Forbidden City is our favorite part of the tour.

After the tour, we rode a rickshaw around the oldest residential part of Beijing. The Houtong Neighborhoods go back for generations. A local family prepared a traditional Chinese meal for us (This guy once cooked for the 4th President of China). Then we toured a houtong house/courtyard. This neighborhood sits are the very center of Beijing- a city of 22 million people- and yet it was peaceful and quiet there.

We wrapped up the day by going to a traditional tea house (like Abbie, Chloe didn’t like the tea) and then went to the Acrobat show- which was pretty incredible at times. We resisted the urge to go straight to bed and found a place to grab dinner. Tomorrow we head out for The Great Wall.

Thanks to everyone who is praying for us and thinking about us. You are a real encouragement! More updates to come.

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A New Beginning: An Adoption Update

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
– 
Seneca (4 B.C.-65 A.D.)

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
Semisonic (Closing Time- 1998)

Andrea and I went out for date night on Saturday. We had dinner at a local Mexican restaurant, and thanks to a really slow server we were able to enjoy a two-hour dinner together. Most of that time was spent talking about the closing of one era of our life and the beginning of a new era. This would, likely, be our final date night in our current family configuration.

If you don’t know- May is adoption month for us. We will be ending life as a family of five and preparing for life as a family of six.

We’ve been waiting for this month to come for some time. There has been the application process and the wait to be matched with a child. Honestly, that process took longer than we could have anticipated. But we are in the process of preparing to leave on a journey of two weeks that is, in reality, a journey for a lifetime.

While we have been slow on updates- whether on the blog or facebook- we are going to do our best to post updates over the next month here and be more active. If you’re interested in following along, follow this page for updates- or one of our Facebook pages so that you can stay current with what is happening. If you’re a praying person, we would love your prayers. If your not a praying person- good vibes are certainly welcome!

May is Adoption Month- and it is almost here!

 

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