Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


(While trying to put on his sandals...) "Mommy, I need help. I not have three hands!"

Mike: (pumping himself up to get some schoolwork done, singing with gusto...) "I believe I can fly..."
Jadon: (laughing) "No, Daddy, you can't fly!"
Mike: (continuing with the song) "I believe I can touch the sky..."
Jadon: "No! Daddy, you can't touch the sky. It's too high!" (This is followed by extended giggling at the foolishness of his father and numerous recountings of his father's ridiculous claims to other family members.)

Current favorite expressions/terms:
"Wanna play cars?"
"I think so."
"I think not."
"Skitta-dinky-dink" (in reference to his favorite pre-naptime song)
"Sidney Cwosby"
"Un! Deux! Trois! . . ."
"You like ... ?"
"Inukshuk!" (I consider this one a pretty good sign that our Ethiopian boys are fairly acclimated to Canadian culture!)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Taking Cues from a Tiny Few

Guess what came in the mail yesterday?

25 (okay, well, actually 21 actually survived the trip north) live harvester ants! The kids have been quite fascinated with watching these tiny creatures as they tunnel through a "space-age habitat" complete with nutrient-packed gel, LED lighting, and (happily) a very tight seal. In one day, the ants have been working non-stop on one looping tunnel. Apparently, we can expect a complex network of 3-D tunnels in the weeks to come.
Admittedly, I've already referred to these hard-working ants as a motivational example several times today. I also plan to make regular use of the words sluggard, industrious, cooperation, responsibility, initiative, organization, diligence, and perseverence as we continue to check out the ants' amazing work over the next few months.
It's a pretty cool tool for exploring these themes and just marveling at the intricate and fascinating nature of God's creation.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Have You Heard the News?

Perhaps you heard about this on the news recently. Or saw this news report a while back. Or perhaps you remember this infamous court case.

Each of these news stories is unique. But, of course, they all have one thing in common. Each highlights an adoption case gone bad.

I can't deny any of these stories.

However, I can throw my two cents into the mix. I find the media's propensity to accentuate negative portrayals of adoption to be indicative of ignorance and sensationalism, rather than insight and realism. By focusing on aberrational stories, rather than the actual experiences of the vast majority of those affected by adoption, the media skews public perception of adoption and contributes to the stigmatization of adoptive parents, adoptees, and birth parents. In this way, adoption involvement makes one less "normal," pitiable, undesirable, or somehow unable to truly measure up. In other words, there is an asterisk beside this kind of family formation.

I wish it wasn't that way.

In meeting new people, I wish I didn't have to try to figure out how to respond to the recurrent questioning centering around which of my children "are adopted" and which are "really mine." (By the way, I prefer to speak of our boys who were adopted. In the past. It's done. In differentiating the manner in which our children joined the Tapper family, I speak of our children "by adoption" and our child "by birth." I understand that most questions are motivated by a somewhat benign curiosity, and I often try to share openly. However, the apparent need for differentiation is somewhat awkward. I mean, when was the last time you spontaneously asked a mother, as her children played nearby, whether her deliveries were natural, medicated, or cesarean?)

I wish that the first question people ask about the adoption process would not involve the issue of finances. (Yes, adoption processes can be expensive. Yes, the large sums of money within the "adoption industry" do raise compelling ethical issues. However, I believe that, too often, people are scared off by these controversies or total dollar figures, when they really should be exploring how adoption or orphan care might be something that they might be involved in. I talk dollars, and people make excuses.)

I wish I could speak about potential challenges my boys face without people automatically attributing concerns to their adopted status, or, alternatively, that I could explore, with others, issues related to potential harms in their early life without conversational partners dismissing such ideas as unnecessary concerns for our loving family. (The idea of adopted children being second-class, "damaged goods" is repulsive to me. The idea that adopted children may have special needs, necessitating that those around them speak hope and healing into their lives, is foundational to our family's child-rearing approach.)

I could probably go on, but I'll just try to summarize.

Ultimately, what I want to say is this: There is probably some portion of your understanding of adoption or adoptees or adoptive families that has been based on misinformation or a skewed social construction based on limited information. It's this way for me, too. I'm still learning.

I just ask that you don't take everything you hear as the be-all-and-end-all of how things work. That you stop and think before you speak in ways that might devalue another. That you actively seek, beyond the sensationalized stories, to understand the rich realities of so many.

These are my boys by adoption. Here's the news from our family: We wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Impressing the Boys

Admittedly, winter sports involving ice and snow are not my strong suit. However, now that the snow has melted and the sun is warming the earth, I am able to showcase my athletic ability to a much greater degree. This is particularly helpful with Andrew, who to this point has basically assumed that Mom is useless for the important things in life: hockey, hockey, and hockey (with some form of extreme skiing or snowboarding thrown in, perhaps).

Besides scoring some goals -- on a surface that doesn't slip and slide :), I have also exhibited the proper technique for throwing a football, served as pitcher and batting coach, and demonstrated a perfect cartwheel. Last night, after supper, the whole family enjoyed some backyard playtime. Ethan and Andrew were quite keen on practicing their baseball skills. After the kids had turns fielding and batting, Mike suggested that I take my turn at the "plate." After thoroughly impressing the boys by smacking a ball onto the rooftop (That is impressive, considering it is a sponge ball and a sponge bat!), it was also fun to hear my hubby repeatedly say, "I forgot about Mommy's sweet swing!"

Bring it on, boys!

Pressing On Toward the Goal

"Risk your life and get more than you ever dreamed of. Play it safe and end up holding the bag." --Matthew 19:26 MSG

"I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.

Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep,

but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine.

I don't want enough God to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant.

I want ecstacy, not transformation.

I want warmth of the womb, not new birth.

I want a bound of Eternal in a paper sack.

I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please."

--Wilbur Rees

"When someone has been given much, much will be required in return." --Luke 12:48 NLT

"Evil is not just where blood has been spilled. Evil is in the self-absorbed human heart." --Ravi Zacharias

"But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It's quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don't take yourself too seriously--take God seriously." --Micah 6:8 MSG

"Heal my heart and make it clean.

Open up my eyes to the things unseen.

Show me how to love like you have loved me.

Break my heart for what breaks yours.

Everything I am for your Kingdom's cause,

As I walk from earth into Eternity." --Hillsong United's "Hosanna"

"As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world's interest in me has also died. . . . we have been transformed into a new creation." --Galatians 6:14-15 NLT

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Milestone

It was a quiet Sunday afternoon. Suddenly, Abby, Ethan, and Andrew's shouts of excitements reverberated through the house. Surely they could be heard around the block. What was the cause of all this exhilaration?

"Jadon's coloring in the lines! Jadon's coloring in the lines! Jadon's coloring in the lines!"

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Today was one of those Saturdays that you just love, a work-together-and-play-together type of Saturday. It included Abby's first dance lesson, clearing out winter stuff/wrongly-sized clothes from closets, de-cluttering and reorganizing, a bike ride to the park, and a fundraising dinner at the church for a Ukraine missions team.

A friend at the dinner tonight said, "I just love watching your family. The kids just seem so bonded." That comment warms my heart. I think it's true, too. And quite amazing. Four kids. From three continents. Who have been together all of six months. Learning to love. Teaching love.

Yeah, it was a good day.

This one demands commentary. This picture was snapped shortly after an exchange in which I asked why Jadon wasn't riding his trike, and he responded: "Mom, I want to walk it. My bum is just too tired."
Oh, and I just love the serious expression on Andrew's face in the next one. Let's say this: When this kid does something, he means business.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

All Signed Up

To this point, our family has been rather mellow about getting our kids into various extra-curricular activities. Well, today, we made the big jump. The three biggest each registered for one preferred activity. So here we go!




Of course, after all the excitement of the signing up process, Andrew, Ethan, and Abby wanted to know what Jadon was going to do. I suggested that Jadon had a very important part to play as well. Four sets of eyes stared at me attentively.

"Jadon is the biggest cheerleader of all!" I said.

And immediately, Jadon began to jump, clap, and shout "Yeah!" I think he'll do just fine!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter 2010

Those who enter into Christ's being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn't deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. Romans 8:1-3
Now that you've cleaned up your lives by following the truth, love one another as if your lives depended on it. Your new life is not like your old life. Your old birth came from mortal sperm; your new birth comes from God's living Word. Just think: a life conceived by God himself! That's why the prophet said,
The old life is a grass life,
its beauty as short-lived as wildflowers;
Grass dries up, flowers droop,
God's Word goes on and on forever.
This is the Word that conceived the new life in you. 1 Peter 1:22-25

So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective. Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you'll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Colossians 3:1-4

The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together. The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road. The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy. The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes. God's reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee. The decisions of God are accurate down to the nth degree. Psalm 19:7-9

Thursday, April 1, 2010


In her book, Penguins and Golden Calves, Madeleine L'Engle describes what she means by an icon: "I am not thinking of the classic definition of the icons so familiar in the orthodox church, icons of Christ, the Theotokos, saints, painted on wood and often partially covered with silver. My personal definition is much wider, and the simplest way I can put it into words is to affirm that an icon, for me, is an open window to God...something I can look through and get a wider glimpse of God and God's demands on us...than I would otherwise. . . . We usually think of icons as corrupt images which ought to be broken. But it is only the icon misused [an idol] that needs breaking. A true icon is not a reflection; it is a metophor, a differnet, unlike look at something, and carries within it something of that at which it looks."

While some within Christianity have avoided symbolism, recognizing the impossibility of ever fully representing the fullness of God, I find myself drawn to these attempts to open the windows of my mind and heart to truth far greater that anything I could ever really understand. I have several items that serve as icons in this way for me.

Near the beginning of our adoption process (that seems so long ago!), our family made bracelets with three beads. They represent Romans 12:12 for us. The colored bead symbolizes joyfulness in hope, the black bead symbolizes patience in affliction, and the clear bead symbolizes faithfulness in prayer. I have been wearing my bracelet for over two years. There are times when I find myself fingering a particular bead (perhaps inadvertently at first), and I am brought into connection with my God who provides hope, strength, comfort, and perfect love.

Another icon for me is a small silver bell necklace. It was given to me by a friend from our church in Maine. For me, it represents many things: the love of the giver (causing me to rejoice and reminding me to pray for her), the particular community of believers from which it came (causing me to be thankful and to pray for that local church), and the life of the Spirit. You see, whenever I wear it, this tiny silver bell jingles ever so lightly and beautifully as I move throughout my day. I find myself continually rejuvenated with the knowledge of the Spirit's presence--moving, working, making new and beautiful creation, in and through my day, my life, my world.
Quite a while ago, Abby was doing some crafty projects involving paper, scissors, glitter glue, etc. After a while, she came to me with a plain white piece of paper and asked me to cut it into "just a cross." As I reached for the paper and scissors, I asked her what she wanted to do with the cross.
"Hang it on my bed so that I think of Jesus when I wake up in the morning."

We Tappers need our simple icons.