Saturday, October 18, 2014

Chosen For Adoption

One week from now will be the 2014 Chosen For Adoption half and full marathon in New Braunfels, TX.  I am going for the full this year to raise funds for one of the adoption ministries back in Ukraine that we keep in touch with.  I am trained up with a good 350 hot Texas summer running miles under my belt, tapered down and taking my week of rest before the race on Saturday the 25th!

Naturally the benchmark moments like this get you thinking and I've been chilling out (and coffee-ing up!) and reminiscing this morning.  I remember the 2011 race where we did Team Tansey to raise support for the adoption of our two kids.  We were so blessed with incredible support of friends and many distant contacts and strangers who became friends through the process.  Amazing support from people who were only business contacts to begin with, and through the journey I discovered were truly amazing people!

Ironically I had to sit out our race with an injury, Dylan ran the half marathon (13 years old!) and rocked it (yes he is still faster than me any day...).  All of our kids were 110% engaged in our process and own it's success as much as anyone.  I remember all the paperwork (ugh!).  Flying to Ukraine (long!).  Our amazing facilitator (Oksana) who made it all happen wonderfully.  Weather - we arrived at the end of the coldest winter in a century, and left at the early part of the hottest summer in 30 years!

Friends!  To say God works in amazing ways would be an understatement as we were truly blessed by wonderful people in Ukraine who took care of their American visitors and made us feel at home 6,092 miles away from our house :)  Andriy & Alex who would undoubtedly be my best friends.  The food (it was really, really good :)  Visiting the orphanage every day for 5 weeks getting to know our kids and their friends.  Finding that love overcomes any language obstacles, and laughter overcomes my terrible grasp of the Ukranian language :)  The intense joy of them becoming our kids.  The sadness of so many other kids that remained without families (I still wear a black band on my right wrist to remember and pray for them.)

Very happy that ministries like Last Bell exist to try and care for the orphans who need a shot at having a life and not falling into the otherwise likely fates of prison, prostitution or suicide.  Hoping those who did not get adopted make it (many great kids with all kids of potential!).

Glad I get to wake up and give Kayleigh and Michael all the hugs I want now.  To play and joke with them.  To tell them I love them!  To see how happy they are.  To know they have a family, are truly loved.  The daily amazement of how natural it is to have them in our family!  To see their futures unfold before our eyes.  To know those futures are bright!

We ran for them in 2011, for other adoptive families in 2012 and 2013, and for others now in 2014, and beyond!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

18 Again

Tomorrow marks Kayleigh's 18th birthday.  It's going on 2 1/2 years since she and Michael arrived in Texas (May 9, 2012 :).  It has been a truly remarkable experience.  Even to this day is seems so amazing to have 2 kids from 6,092 miles away in a different part of the world join your family through adoption, and yet seem like they are such a natural fit.  If you didn't know they were adopted, well, you wouldn't know!

Kayleigh has really blossomed here and has blessed our family so much.  She is super smart and an excellent student, great with kids, a wonderful sister and daughter, and has really gotten way too beautiful!  She and I have a blast as she somehow (osmosis perhaps....) has my family's sense of humor.

So, now we have a 20 year old daughter and TWO 18 year old girls!  That is always good for some puzzled looks :)  I can't wait to see what the coming year will bring for her!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Fathers Day!

OK, so every time I blog I'm thinking that I need to blog more frequently, and then 3 months go by!  First of all, Happy Fathers Day to all the dads out there.  What a tremendous responsibility we have.  What a tremendous privilege and blessing we have! 

My best Fathers Day gift each year is the wonderful group of kids I have, there are simply none better than mine (sorry, y'all can wrassle over 2nd place... :)  Honestly, I have enough coffee cups and shirts!  Of all the many bubbles my life has, being a husband and dad is top of the list and nothing else really matters in the grand scope of things.

A shade over 2 years ago we finished our first adoption and added two more kids to our family and what a blessing that has been.  For all of the many varied stories of adoption we've heard of, we still get told on a pretty consistent basis how awesome ours has been.  Kayleigh and Michael jumped right in to our family and if you didn't know they were adopted, you'd never guess it (LOL, when people try to pick the adopted kids out of our pics, most get it wrong!). 

I can't really speak as to why these two kids were orphans and don't want to spend time guessing.  All that really matters to me is that they're here now, and have a family and a dad who loves them, cares for them, protects them, and wants them.  Knowing that they have that now is my best present today.

p.s.  Spurs, you can add the frosting to the day by beating the Heat.... :)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Big Mike Turns 15!

This weekend we celebrate Michael's 15th birthday, it is hard to believe that he is growing up already!  I suppose a lot of the usual "my baby is growing up" stuff is hard to apply as we've had him less than 2 years so we missed the infant, diaper, toddler and little boy phases and jumped right up the scale.  In Michael's case it has been an amazing journey so far.  He was a quiet little boy when we met him who typically just stayed to himself.  I didn't really see at the orphanage that he had friends or even a group that he ran with, most of the time he was off by himself in the surrounding woods.  He wasn't the kind to get into trouble and knew his place in the caste order of things, staying out from underfoot of the older kids. 

There is no other way to describe him from then to now in any terms less than a total transformation of a person.  He's grown a ton first of all, is friendly and has friends, is confident and fun loving.  He is actually a pretty warm and funny guy!  I have always loved having a son in Dylan, and it has been such a joy to add Michael to the family.  We get along great and have so much fun doing the father / son thing.  It is one thing to read all the churchy books on how important having a dad in your life makes, it is something else to live it and see how incredibly important and impactful it really is.

As with any teenager there is no telling for sure what lies ahead.  Michael is still adjusting to his new world but seems to be doing great.  In his case it seems like he just packed up and leapt forward and has never looked back.  We shall see what layers of onion peel as time goes by and what man will grow from the ashes.  I am very excited for the privilege of being a part of that and so excited for all of the potential I know he has!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Prayers For Ukraine

First of all, yes, I haven't blogged for awhile.  All is good, just never seem to have a lot of time to sit and play!  The Fab 5 are all well, Kayleigh and Michael have been awesome as ever.  Beautiful, happy kids :)  We've been following the situation in Ukraine with heavy hearts.  We see the reports in the media and have continued to keep in touch with friends we made while there, and the stories are so truly saddening.  We ask that you join us in praying for the safety and well being of our friends and their families, and the people there.

It has been almost 2 years since our family boarded a plane in Austin Texas for our 47 day adventure to a destination 6,092 miles away.  An adventure it was and a great experience in seeing that the world in different places is truly different!  Different language, alphabet, currency, measurement system (metric...), culture, and climate.  During our stay there we were truly blessed by many people who met an American family on the road, and took us in as friends.  By the time we left, not only did we have 2 more teenagers, but a home church, best friends and our new favorite pizza place!

The Ukrainian people love their country and are very patriotic, and the tough times are very hard on them.  Our experiences with the people there were wonderful.  Recent events are surely incredibly difficult and the stories we hear are pretty awful.  We are praying for their safety and that circumstances there would improve.  Even though we are separated by 6,092 miles, they are always in our heart.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Home For The Holidays

We've been enjoying the Christmas season with our expanded family this year.  This was the first full year of Kayleigh & Michael being part of our family and it has gone exceedingly well.  We still get comments from people saying that it is pretty much the best adoption story they've seen or heard of.  There were a lot of factors that played into our family being a great fit for them, but in the end I think it's just a God thing, taking two orphans that statistically had no real chance of getting adopted and finding the ideal family for them 6092 miles away!

We had a great Christmas time with the kids this year.  It's always a blast doing Christmas with the kids but in some ways it's like going back in time when it's a new things, as many things still are for K & M.  We give each kid a budget for shopping for presents and a lot of driving them here and there to do their shopping.  You will hear many stories of older adopted kids being extremely selfish and survivalist in nature (in knowing the situations they come from that would be normal....) but K & M are not really that way.  They really enjoy giving! 

Christmas morning ended up really being Christmas afternoon as our crew doesn't leap out of bed in the morning on the days they don't have to :)  We had a great time opening presents and just being a family.  I will still marvel almost daily at how natural it seems to have them in our family, and how much I love getting to be their dad now.

I've had some time off here around the holidays so have been enjoying one on one dates with the kids (it's something we do to get special alone time with each kid, away from distractions, siblings.....) and that has been wonderful.  Usually families with multiple kids have one that is a train wreck or something.  We've got five teenagers, two that we didn't get early in life, and yet all five are pretty awesome people :)

2014 is swiftly approaching and the goals are set for the year.  It will be a big year for kids ages as we'll have our first non-teenage child (Bekah turns 20....), TWO more adult children as Alyssa and Kayleigh hit 18, and another sweet 16 with Dylan in the spring.  Michael is still the baby who will turn a mere 15 in the spring as well.

All of the kids bring up adopting again, with Kayleigh and Michael being big proponents of it (although I think some of Michael's motivation is to not be the baby of the family .... :).  I think we need more bedrooms....

Wrapping up the holiday season (and Hallmark movie marathon, Kayleigh and I are hooked.....) and looking forward to an amazing year to come.  Best wishes to each of you and your families, thanks for reading along and being a part of our family adoption adventure!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Road Trip

We had our first major road trip over the Thanksgiving holiday, trekking 1200 miles up to frigid Wisconsin.  Jodi's mom had passed away so we were heading up for the services for her.  Not why you would want to go, but the silver lining was reuniting family and Jodi's family getting to meet and spend time with Kayleigh & Michael for the first time. 

Road trips are great as you get to eliminate the rest of the real word and just spend a couple days over-packed in a car without the distractions of a typical day, each junk food, and see how flat the Midwest is!

The kids had a great trip up and we were blessed by snow the night we arrived (the kids have really been wanting snow).  We had weeks of snow when we arrived in Ukraine to finalize our adoption, and K & M are accustomed to snow every year and I'm sure plenty of it.  Our others, well, not so lucky, I think we've gotten a quick bit of it 3 times since we moved back to Texas in 2001.  Anyway, the kids got snow fun all week because that stuff don't melt when it's 22 degrees!

Our Fab 5 got to reunite and spend a ton of time with their 4 cousins up there and they all got along very well.  Honestly, we just didn't see them a whole lot because they were always hanging out playing in the snow, gaming, watching movies, and anything else they could think of.  It was a great time for them to connect with more of their new family.

We're back home in Texas now and the cold followed up, so it's below freezing here as well, but no snow for us to play in :(  Fear not, it'll be back up in the warm range before we know it!

Now we're getting into Christmas mode, the tree is up and we're decorating it today, and the kids are getting excited as the holiday approaches.  Kayleigh is a Hallmark channel Christmas movie - holic, so we're getting our (over)fill of the movies.  Some are cute, some are truly awful, but we are truly blessed to have her here to make us watch them to begin with!  Michael has developed quite an interest in American football so at least I have that to counter balance a bit :)

This will be the wrap up for their first full year here in America, we are so glad they are here!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

National Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Month.  Adoption Sunday was a few weeks back.  Tomorrow will be National Tomato Day (ok, I made that one up....).  Our calendars are chock full of days and months that have been earmarked for some event or cause.  The day or month comes, gets a bunch of hoorah and then goes back into the calendar closet to collect dust until the day or month comes back around.

My question to each and all of us is what will you really do with that event or cause.  Obviously in the case of our family, adoption is something near to our hearts.  It is much more than an event, cause, or date on a calendar.  It's our daughter and son.  It's two kids that had no hope of a real life or future, if they made it that far alive.  It's a beautiful daughter who would have by now probably have been forced into horrible life choices by predatory people or lack of any other options, or dead.  It's a wonderful son who would continue to ride out the orphanage ride until he aged out, and ended up in prison, or dead. 

To us it is very real and personal.  It was not just something to fight and sacrifice for, it was SOMEONE to fight and sacrifice for.  The question for all is what will you do.  To what extent would you fight and sacrifice to protect and save your own children.  To what extent would you fight and sacrifice to protect and save a child that you would have to choose to make your own. 

Adoption isn't the easiest road which is always baffling to me.  There are millions of children literally dying to have a family.  The process and cost of adoption makes it really, really hard to get it done.  For any of us who already had children prior to adoption we know we would do anything for them.  We would kill to protect them and die to save them.  We would sacrifice any personal want or need to provide for them.  There are literally millions of orphans out there who need someone to save their life.  Let's go get them.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Orphan Sunday

Today is Orphan Sunday in churches across America where they will highlight the need to rescue orphans, and to celebrate the ones that have been rescued.  In our circles it has been truly wonderful to see so many children be brought into homes and families and to have the opportunity to have a family, be loved, and have a future :)

To be totally honest, I'm not the biggest fan of making a scene over our two adopted kids.  We have generally skipped these days at church.  It's not that I don't support celebrating all the kids who have been adopted, or support the cause of adoption (obviously, we do....).  I just don't want them to feel like they are something other than us, or different, or like they were a project or something.  I hope that makes sense.  To me, they are just my kids.  I had 3 kids.  Now I have 5 kids.  Not 3 kids plus to adopted.   Just 5 kids :)

When we adopted Kayleigh and Michael, I know I made the decision to just have them be my kids.  In the words of Gary Smalley, love is a decision.  I decided to just love them as my kids, even though I had not been their parent for the first 15 and 13 years of their lives.  To just accept and love them, to treat them no differently than the others.  To just have 5 kids.  Same household rules, same expectations, same love, same bad jokes, same wrestling and tickling (yes, it still drives Jodi nuts.... :). 

As with our first 3 kids, there is still that level of each relationship being different as each kid is different in personality, etc, but they just part of us.  I think for our family that has been a great way to go.  K & M have integrated into our family so very well.  I was talking with one of my girls and their comment was that it was hard to think of the time when they weren't part of our family.

I enjoy all the things we do together, embarrassing Kayleigh at McDonalds (I dance while we wait for our order....), wrestling around or riding bikes with Michael, piled together on the couch watching movies, etc etc.  I love getting to love these kids.  I don't celebrate their being here today.   I celebrate it every day.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Chosen For Adoption

Yesterday was the annual Chosen Marathon for Adoption race, a half and full marathon race, the purpose of it to raise funds for families pursuing adoption.  This race has a special place in our family as it was the primary fundraising driver for our adoption along with the generous support of the Abba Fund.  If I could only run one race a year, this would be the one.  I'm pretty sure I'll run it every year for a team of either someone I know or friend of a friend, or just pick a random team that would benefit.

The race shirt has the phrase "sweat and sacrifice" on the back, and as we well know it's a huge undertaking to adopt.  Being a runner, I had a great time racing (and a great race, set a new personal best for my half marathon time by 8 minutes!).  What really stood out though was all of the racers who I could tell were not runners.  People who came out and ran to financially and emotionally support family and friends who ran for them and their adoptions.  Who ran for an orphan they had never met.  Who truly "sweated and sacrificed" for families they love, or are friends of, or for someone they may not even know (we had all of the above for our team in 2011). 

I think that is what makes the race and day so special, in that it's not just financial support for a faceless cause.  It is real help for real people and to literally change or even save a life.  To change families.  I was talking with one of my kids and they made the point that it's hard to remember a time when Kayleigh and Michael weren't a part of our family.  It's only been a year and a half since they walked out of the plane in San Antonio, but I see the point.  It seems like they've always been ours, and have been such a joy and blessing in our family. 

I often wonder if it is they who have gained more by being adopted, or us by having them added to our family.  I know their likely fate if they had not been adopted and it would not have been good, but I also know that we've so enjoyed getting to be their dad, mom, brother, sister, family.  I think we've all been blessed by it!