Monday, June 19, 2017

Elephants and Orphans

* This blog post was written by my husband, Ryan.

20 years ago South African wildlife parks were successfully bringing animals back from near extinction. However, along with the growing population of endangered species like the White Rhinoceros, the Pilanesberg Park had a serious problem.  The Rhinoceros were now thriving, but 10% of the total population had been brutally and maliciously killed.  

The motive of the murders was unclear.  The ivory horns of the Rhinoceros, a popular treasure among poachers, remained untouched.  This wasn't the classic case of human greed needlessly killing an animal for profit.  After setting up surveillance cameras to monitor the park, the culprits were quite unexpected.  It turned out that young male elephants were responsible for these vicious attacks.  

So what happened?  


In another South African park, Kruger National Park, endangered elephants were being protected and nurtured back to a healthier population.  The program was so successful that now these elephants were outgrowing the park.  A plan was created to relocate some of these elephants to another wildlife refuge.  As you can imagine transporting elephants is not an easy task.  The elephants to be relocated were set in a special harness and transported via helicopter.  This was a fine plan for transporting young and female elephants.  However, the male elephants were too large to transport in this way.  They made the decision to transport the young and female elephants and leave the huge male elephants behind.  

The transported elephants found their new home in Pilanesberg Park where the White Rhinoceros population was growing strong.  It wasn’t but a short time later that the Rhinoceros in the park were found dead, violently killed.  

The young male elephants that were transplanted from Kruger Park were found to have created gangs that were viciously attacking the Rhinoceros as well as other animals in the park.  What officials had discovered and concluded is that the young male elephants lacked the leadership of older male elephants to model appropriate behavior. The young male elephants needed the older male-figures to keep them in line, model the right kinds of behavior, and establish the right way to conduct themselves.  Without this, they turned rogue and extremely violent.   

To test this theory they transported some of the adult male elephants into Kruger Park, and in a short period of time, the aggressive behaviors stopped completely.  More than a mere coincidence.     

Without a male role model, these young male elephants left the herd, formed gangs with other young males, and took to violent behavior.  They didn't have anyone to set an example for what was appropriate.  There was no one there to put them back in their place.  No one was there to curb their natural, but unacceptable impulses.  While the intentions of the people who designed this program meant well, they created a generation of orphaned elephants without adult males to teach them how to live in their community.  

Talking about elephants sometimes catches our attention more effectively than talking about people.  We feel a lot of fatigue when we read about other kinds of injustice.  We hear statistics about our fellow humans and then casually turn the channel, keep on scrolling, or think how terrible that is, and then wonder what's for dinner.  But the truth is the role that fathers play in raising their children have similar effects as these elephants.

In fact, did you know when a father is active and involved in their children's life they are significantly less likely to:

  • abuse drugs and alcohol
  • become sexually active as teenagers
  • be violent
  • end up in jail
  • suffer from depression
  • experience anxiety
  • live in poverty

When a father is active and involved in their children's life they don't just deter them from dangerous and destructive behaviors, but promote positive outcomes too.  These include outcomes that will make a child much more likely to:

  • form positive social relationships
  • perform at a higher level academically
  • experience emotional and psychological health throughout their entire life
  • make healthy lifestyle decisions
  • have higher levels of confidence and self-control
  • make better long term decisions
  • form healthy families of their own as adults

This Father’s Day I want to encourage all fathers, whether biological, adoptive or otherwise, to get involved with the children in your life.  Spend time with them, play with them, teach them, correct them, and provide for them.  Show them how to treat their siblings, their neighbors, and people they meet for the first time.  Model how to be caring, respectful, and kind.  Show them how to work hard, achieve their goals, and follow their dreams.  Give them a chance to explore the world around them while knowing they will continue to be supported even when they fail.  Give them a chance to love and be loved in return. Children don't just like the attention of a father, they need it.  Their biochemistry responds to a caring and loving male figure.  Their lives are shaped by the men who will take responsibility and lead them to a successful life.  

In August we are bringing home the newest addition to our family.  We are adopting a beautiful baby girl from China.  We are excited to introduce her to her brothers and sister.  We are blessed to call her our daughter.  

But, we need you.  We are adopting from an orphanage that has cared for her these past 13 months of her life, meeting her needs as best as they can.  But an orphanage is no place for children.  Kids belong with a family.

As part of the adoption process we need to raise $7000-$8000 for a donation to the orphanage.  This is for vital supplies, clean water, food, and other basic needs of these orphans.  Every dollar we raise is helping the boys and girls who have been living at the orphanage to continue on until they too can be adopted into a family of their own.

Maybe you also feel that you could do more to help orphans.  We would love to talk with you if you're considering adoption or other ways you can make an impact.  My wife and I want to see a world where every orphan bed is empty, and every child experiences a loving family to lead and love them for all of their life.

If you'd like to give, please visit our fundraising page.  Your gift is literally changing the life of our daughter as well as her "brothers and sisters" that continue to wait:

Friday, May 26, 2017

13 Things For 13 Months

 13 things on her 13th month…

1. Today our Little One turns 13 months old. There is no one there with a fun sticker on her onesie, or a blanket to lay her next to, or a headband to put on her little head. She is just going through her day at the orphanage, no fanfare, no pictures. Nothing.

2. Her birthday is an estimate. We do not know the day that she was born. Officials estimated the day. Regardless, we will ALWAYS celebrate her on April ~~th*. It will be her birthday and we will celebrate her beautiful life every year for the rest of her life.

3. Little One’s orphanage has a one to one partnership with our adoption agency, which meant that we got the very first look at her file once the Chinese government released it. She was ours from that very first look.

 4. Because our agency partners with her orphanage, they have been able to come in and make some changes and help support the orphanage in very vital ways.

5. I read on an adoption blog of a family that adopted a little 2 ½ year old girl from our daughter’s very orphanage five years ago and the conditions were heartbreaking. There was a 35+ kid to 2 helper ratio. One of the nannies would cook and clean while the other would take care of the kids. 35+ kids for one single lady. No one can love and nurture 35+ kids in the way that they need in a day. It is not humanly possible.

6.    The same family estimated that the kids were out of their cribs for one hour in the morning and one hour at night. That means these kids lived in their cribs for 22 hrs a day, including when eating their meals.

7. We are SO thankful that our agency has since gone into that orphanage and brought color, toys and training to the nannies. They also do regular visits and work very closely with them. We will pay an orphanage donation fee of around $6,000 (a standard procedure for all Hague country adoptions) and I will gladly give them every penny. These kids need to have those funds to help care for them, give them toys and areas to play.  They also took care of my daughter for the first 13 months of her life and for that, we are eternally grateful.

8. We have no idea what our daughter eats or how often, but we have read of one family that adopted their 22 month from China last year and she was only formula fed. 22 months old and had never had solid food, only 3 bottles a day.

9. Our daughter was given a Chinese name with a very generic last name. Most of the kids in that orphanage are given the same last name. We are SO excited to give her our last name!

           10. We will change her first name and her last name, but we are keeping her Chinese name as her middle name. If one day, she would like to go back to her Chinese heritage and be called by her Chinese name, she will be able to do that without having any legal issues to change it.

11. We have pictures and two videos of her and we look at those every day! We will not be sharing those pictures on any social media until we get home, or have permission from our agency. We want to respect our agency's ties to China and do not want to cause any problems by posting things before we finalize everything in China. However, if you see me, I have those beautiful pictures on my phone and would love to gush over them with you!

12. We are fortunate to have a few newborn pictures of her. Fortunate because many families do not have pictures of those first few weeks. However, they are very difficult to look at, as she is in the nicu with cords and wires and she is screaming.  It is heart wrenching. That sweet newborn baby was by herself in that nicu, and I hate that. I am so thankful for the medical staff that worked on her and kept her safe, but those pictures are just one more reminder of why she needs a family and why we need to bring her home.

13.  UNICEF estimates that there are 132 million children in the world that have lost one or both parents, the true definition of an orphan. This is a staggering number. We are choosing to  make that number one less. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How can change the orphan crisis? One child at a time.

In celebration of our Little Lady’s 13 months on this planet, we are asking that you join us and give to her orphanage donation. Help us provide for the other children that are still waiting for their forever family.
 Click HERE to partner with us.

*removed for privacy sake until we are home with her


Friday, May 19, 2017

And then the phone rang...

5 days after my last adoption post, I woke up feeling down. I got online and saw that another family was going to China to adopt. They were leaving in week. I was so sad. I was so happy. It was such a bittersweet thought. Happy that there is now one less orphan, one more baby that was rescued from an orphanage, but yet, my heart ached. Where was my baby? Where was my little one?

And as life always does, I moved on through my day. I packed up the boys and sent them off to school and I got ready to go to my weekly ladies Bible Study. I tried to not let the sadness of not knowing overwhelm me and concentrate on those around me. I was not very successful.

At the very end of my bible study, as we were packing up and saying good bye, my phone rang. I had been getting a lot of spam calls, so when I saw it was from Kentucky, I just silenced it.

Wait. Kentucky is where our adoption agency is located. They left a message. My heart raced. I grabbed Macy from her class as quickly as possible and I pretty much ran to our car. I listened to the voicemail that said it was our agency and to give them a call back.

I stilled my thoughts. It could be just a recap on our file, maybe questions about what to do while we wait. It could be anything.

It wasn't.

They had a file for us. They had a baby that they wanted to match with us. This was it.

I listened with tears running down my face. It was more than I was expecting. It was more than I had every thought. While we were open to so much,  and we would have been happy with whatever the file said, this file was exactly what I had been dreaming of, hoping in my heart of hearts. The Lord is so good to us. He knows those secret desires of the heart and He listens.

It's a GIRL!! A beautiful 12 month old baby girl.  We are so thankful and excited and shocked.

We are now officially matched with the cutest 12 month old baby girl that you ever did see. She is ours and we are working frantically to get her home to us.

In the past two weeks, we have been working, talking with doctors and filing SO many papers. We have had a few hiccups and we are working and praying to get those papers through the system so that it will not delay our travel to China, thus delaying bringing our girl home. One extra day spent in an orphanage is one day too many. We want her home.

How can you help?

First, you can pray for us. We need some seriously smooth paperwork to happen. No delays, no complications.

You can donate to our fundraising page. We are still frantically working on getting the $15,000 needed to bring her home. Click HERE if you would like to partner with us and be a part of bring our daughter home. We chose to use PureCharity so that your donations are tax deductible!

We are still doing her puzzle!! While our account at AdoptionBridge is no longer open, we are using every donation as a puzzle piece on Pure Charity.

We are doing a big yard sale. If you are local, we would love to help you get rid of some of your no- longer-used treasures. Also, tell your family and friends to come by the yard sale! June 8th-10th!

Celebrate with us! We are matched and we can not wait to introduce you to our daughter. We just need to get to China and bring her home.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Momma Heart

I will be celebrating my Mother's Day cheering on my boy in his very first big tournament and I am 100% ok with that.

As Mother's Day was approaching, I was thinking about motherhood and the many varied paths to it.

I am lucky to have a beautiful solid example of motherhood that I witnessed from my Great-Grandma, my Grandma and my mother. I was able to sit in all of their kitchens, and watch and learn from their examples. I realize how blessed I am to have known not only my Grandmother so well, but also my Great-Grandmother. Following in their foot prints has been one of my greatest privileges in life.

But this is not the case for everyone.

I know that this day is hard for many. Mothers that are no longer here, or were not around. Mothers that may have never been there in the first place.

I know that there are many that are longing to be mothers and are not.

I know that there are mommas who gave up their babies, babies that will one day be adopted by another momma.

I know that there are women that may not be biological or even adoptive parents, but whose love and devotion is the same to those around them.

They all have that momma heart.

For the momma heart is not grown from purely a biological birthing. No, motherhood can take all shapes and forms. That is the beauty of the momma heart. It shows no preference. It only shows love, pure unconditional love.

That momma heart is so strong. So brave. It rallies for their loved ones with a fierceness of a great warrior. That momma heart gives selflessly.

So today, I salute that momma heart that is alive and beating in so many of us.

Keep giving, keep sacrificing, keep loving.

Keep beating those strong Momma hearts.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Radio Silence


Remember us? Adopting from China?

We are still here. We are still adopting from China. And we are still waiting.

We are ticking over to 5 full months that we have been on the "list" waiting for our referral. Waiting to get that first glimpse of our Little One.

5 months.

I can't say that I have been the most patient. On the outside, life goes on. We went to a bazillion indoor soccer games and are gearing up for another bazillion outdoor games. We got sick. We played outside and learned to ride bikes.  We went to school and we went to church. Life just went on.

But on the inside, on the inside I have been less than patient.

"Will they call this week?"

"Will they call tomorrow?"

"What if they call while I am gone or have my phone off?"

"What if Ryan is out of town?!"

"What if we can't reach our adoption doctor to look at the files?!?!"

But, do you know what can't hurry China to release more files? Impatience.


So, what do we do while we {impatiently} wait?

We read books on attachment and adoption. We sort through piles in drawers that have not been cleaned out in years. We don't plan too many activities in the next 5 months. We think and pray.

We have moved all of our fundraising to Pure Charity/Adopt Together. Our Adoption Bridge account expired and this was the next best hosting site that would allow us to give tax-deductible receipts to those that wanted to partner with us.

You can find our profile and giving information by clicking HERE.

We are also planning on doing a yard sale to help make room for Little One and to also bring in more cash for our adoption. If you are local and have in good shape items that you know longer want and would be willing to donate to our yard sale, let me know!! We will take them.

For now, we are on hold. Waiting. Hoping. Praying.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

In Christ Alone

In Christ alone! - who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied -
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand:
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.
~lyrics by Stuart Townsend and Keith Getty

Sometimes, when the words fail to come and it is just the resonating sounds of the heart, you let the words of a song come forth and bask in its resounding truth. This was how I was feeling today.
In Christ Alone...
Happy Easter to you and your family!

May you experience the peace and power of Christ this Sunday morning!
No guilt in life, no fear in death!

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Little Things

2017 is in full swing, with one month under the belt and the second racing towards the end.

While the rest of the country seems to have lost their ever loving mind, the Fedell house is just quietly plugging away.

And that is is not a bad thing.

Because it is in the little things that grow to be the big things, the most important things, the most influencing things.

So here are a few of my favorite little things of late....

We took the kids to a dog show. It was...interesting. Apparently you can bring your own dog to the dog show. When you bring said dog to the dog show and you are wondering what it is thinking about, you can actual find out. Pet pysics, who talk to dogs (and other animals, of course) can communicate with your pup. Quite miraculous.

We did manage to come away unscathed and puppy free, so it was all in all, not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

This handsome man celebrated another circle around the sun and we celebrated with Thai food, as any proper celebration should be done.

This year, the first grade class at the boys' school partnered up with a school in Detroit that was in need of some warm winter supplies. The kids had to pick a product or a service that could be offered in exchange for hats, mittens, socks and toothbrushes. They were divided into groups of 3 with one person being the project manager. They did everything on their own and decided what they could do or sell.

Colin was the project manager for his group and they decided to offer the service of joke telling, because jokes are funny and people will like it.
And like it they did.

Both of Colin's partners were sick, so my brave little guy had to man his joke booth all alone. In exchange for one of the items listed above, Colin would tell them a joke.
And he had some great jokes!

Here is the thing. Colin spent 2 years in speech therapy. His preschool teacher could not understand some of his stories. His kindergarten teacher had to ask for him to repeat himself often. He would not speak up in front of adults, especially if he did not know them. He would mumble and barely be audible. He would just hide behind me when we were in public.
But Colin worked hard and he tested out of speech in first grade.

Here is he, telling jokes all alone, jokes that he researched, studied and practiced the perfect punch line delivery. The whole night he delivered his jokes, picking out new ones all the time, to adults and children alike. He was clear, he spoke loudly and he was confident.

I stood back and watched him work hard, raised supplies and never shirked from his responsibilities. I was so proud of him. He blew me away. 

Soccer fields, basketball courts and Disney princesses fill our days and nights and I wouldn't want it any other way.

Life really is filled with all those lovely little things.