Sunday, June 28, 2009

BLTS Class of '89

Man, where does the time go? Today we celebrated Jenelle and Rayleen's graduation from high school. If I ever need a reminder of how long Angel & I have been married we only need to look to our two beautiful teenage nieces. Or so we have told them they're our nieces. The inside joke between the four of us is that they weren't simply born to my older brothers & sisters-in-law around the time we got married. No, they were the reason we got married! Twins, separated from birth and given to my brothers to be raised. Now they're old enough to know. Ok, it didn't work out that way. But still we joke about it, although there may be some who don't find it amusing. Oh well. At any rate we love them both and are very proud of them. Congrats girls!

But what really blows my mind is how long ago it was that I attended my first Bible college, the Baptist Leadership Training School in Calgary. The year was 1988; I was on a Greyhound bus going down what was then simply called Highway 2, now the Queen Elisabeth II Highway. I had left behind my then girlfriend of two months (Angel) and was looking ahead to seven months of discipleship studies. It was one of the best experiences, if not one of the hardest, in my then young life. The challenges I faced were being away from home, away from my loved ones, in an unfamiliar city. I had so many issues I was still dealing with then, like learning to be a people-person, learning to be humble and not letting my fears and insecurity get the better of me. Learning to deal with conflict was paramount, as there were over 30 of us all living together in residence trying to get along.

The blessings however were also in the people I lived with there. I learned a lot about God and myself then, and I liken it as a time where seeds were planted in me that would later take root and grow in my life. There were also great memories like practical jokes, building forts in the student lounge out of the giant pillows, Saturday night pizza parties (the pizza had to be snuck in sideways through the bathroom window so as not to alert our dorm parents), playing Foosball, the list goes on. My favorite memory though was when my roommate Kent took up a collection to buy me 2 tickets to see Bill Cosby at the Saddledome. After graduation we all went back to the lives we left behind, and over the years the contacts I kept up faded. I really blamed myself for this as I had a hard time really making deep bonds with my fellow students; this was part of the baggage I learned to get rid of. It seemed a little too late though for me to start making those connections, or so I though at least. But there were those in my class who reached out to me over the last few years, for which I am grateful for.

So yesterday we sat in a backyard in Calgary, remembering old times. There were only five of us that were able to make it, and all of them were Calgary residents except for us. Maybe I'll have to try and organize an Edmonton chapter reunion, as many wanted to come but weren't able to make it from here. It was because of Jesus that we came together 20 years ago and it was because of Jesus that we were able to come together 20 years later. Through our relationships with each other we experienced God, and yes He was there at the pizza parties and in the pillow forts too. The school closed down several years ago, but the mark left on literally hundreds of young people remains. The same can be said of the 30-something students that had become the class of 1989.

Anyone for pizza?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bigger than us

The doorbell rang this morning at 10:30; normally we would be in church at this time but today was an exception. After several rounds of telephone tag we finally got to put a face to the voice of the person who now stood on our step. Sharon, our adoption placement worker, had come to call and brought with her the next phase in the process of our becoming parents. One of the first things she said when she came in was, "Your neighbor's smoking pot." This wasn't exactly the most encouraging statement coming from the person who's helping us place a child in our home! Does this mean we can't be parents because we live in a "bad" neighborhood? I poked my head out the door and saw who it was (I waved when he saw I was looking at him) and quickly closed the door. "Will your child be hanging around that family?" Sharon asked? "Probably not," I replied doubtfully. Phew, at least the question was phrased in a way that suggested we were still in the running...

After getting settled, with coffee in hand, we dove right into things. Sharon asked us questions like, "What do you do for a living" as she hadn't had time to familiarize herself with our profile - you know, get to know you kinda stuff. The conversation eventually steered into the needs of the children in the system. Then Sharon, who had mentioned earlier in the conversation that she was very open about what she thought, mentioned that people who "fear God" (as she put it) often feel obligated to look after others who are less fortunate. I knew where she was going with this, as she was feeling out our motives for becoming adoptive parents. "This is a decision to make that's bigger than us," I replied. "You're right in saying that we "fear God" (I used my fingers to make the quotation marks here) but we believe that God will bring to us the right child and that He will take care of the ones passed over." This seemed to put our worker at ease as she liked the attitude behind the answer. No, we're not religious nuts, motivated by guilt, who are out to save the world!

We then talked about pre-natal exposure to alcohol, attachment issues, etc and then we re-examined our preferences based on who we are and what our heart really desires. "This is the part where it's ok to be selfish," Sharon said. "We want you to be completely honest about what you want to do as parents." What this meant was that we needed to take a good hard look at what we dreamed about parenthood. For instance if we wanted to kick a ball around with our child it probably doesn't work well placing a child who's blind. As we reviewed our profile we began to whittle down the preferences we had listed in our assessment; most of this was based on further information Sharon provided that made several categories not applicable. Finally, we began to review potential matches. Yes, we already have been flagged by the computers that look for potential placements. Seven of them to be exact. One of them peaked our interest, which Sharon is now going to follow up on.

After Sharon left we had time to reflect on our visit. We were left with the impression that whoever we get we were likely going to be placed with a boy, that he would be on the older side and that he would come with mild to moderate issues. As for the time table it was anyone's guess, but again the impression was that it wouldn't happen anytime this year. But things are moving along now, and between now and our next meeting in August we would look at enrolling in a class or two dealing with subjects like attachment issues. We also felt the need to debrief with someone, so as soon as I'm finished this post we'll go see Niels & Janice, who have been great supports to us as they've gone down the adoption road themselves. We're thankful for the supports we have and were encouraged by Sharon's comments on how we'll be excellent parents. And since today is Father's Day it seems appropriate that today was the start of the next chapter in our adoption story. Most of all we're thankful for our Father in Heaven who we know is guiding us in the process. He knows what's He's doing. After all, He did adopt us as His kids...