Part 3 of our adoption story will be used to talk about our plans going forward (yes, we’d like more). You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

There are over 40 references to orphans in the bible with the most notable, in my opinion, being James 1:27 - Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

Though I don’t really use my blog as a mouthpiece for my faith, I’ve never denied that God and his word mean a great deal to me. Though the above passage isn’t the sole reason for me and my wife adopting (we would do it anyway), it is still an important factor.

So far, we have adopted two beautiful girls through private adoptions (both newborns). Going forward, we would like to try to adopt through the foster care system. Two main factors have led us to this decision.

1. Cost – It’s awful to say, but private adoptions can be very expensive and vary in price greatly. By spending less money per adoption, we hope to expand our family that much more.

2. Providing homes to older children (possibly siblings) – Many choose not to adopt older children because they are scared about the unknown in doing so. This is understandable. However, many concerns are the result of high profile cases that are not the norm. Regardless, children of all ages need homes. Going forward, my wife and I have decided not to let age alone be a determining factor in our decision to adopt.

So what are our next steps?

1. Build our savings back up and then look to put away money that we’ll use to buy a larger home to accommodate a hopefully bigger family.

2. Start the process of adopting through foster care which will involve taking parenting classes and completing a whole new set of paperwork.

3. May need to buy a larger vehicle if we end up adopting siblings. Something else to save up for.

4. If all of the above works out, we’d like to adopt through the foster care system in the next 2-3 years.

5. Repeat.

Below are some statistics about orphans I truly hope will tug at your heart strings because there are far too many children out there in need of a loving home environment.

The CCA Institute mentions that according to UNICEF and ChildInfo Data, there are an estimated 153 Million orphans around the world. (This number excludes all children over 16 years of age).

Startling information about the environments these children are growing up in:

• In Sub-Saharan Africa 1 out of 9 children dies before the age of five (UNICEF).
• Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest risk of first-day-death for infants, and is the region showing the least progress towards ending infant mortality (UNICEF).

• Asia is home to the largest number of orphaned children in the world; 60 million, at last count
• In the Russian Federation alone, 140,000 children with disabilities live in institutional care. 2-3 million total kids need a home.
• Under-five deaths are increasingly concentrated in Southern Asia – India and China are two of the countries with the highest rates of early childhood mortality

Latin America:
• There are 10.2 million orphaned children in Latin America, 5% of all children in the region
• Women and children are especially vulnerable in Latin America; under age minors represent 50% of people living in extreme poverty

• “In the U.S. 400,540 children are living without permanent families in the foster care system. 115,000 of these children are eligible for adoption, but nearly 40% of these children will wait over three years in foster care before being adopted.”
• It is common for children in foster care to age out, leaving them with little financial or emotional support. 27,000 children age out of the system every year (AFCARS).
• Almost 25% of youths aging out did not have a high school diploma or GED

And most alarmingly, orphans are systematically released to the streets on their own at age 16 in most parts of the world. Within 2 years the following happens:
• 70% of the boys become hardened criminals
• 60% of the girls become prostitutes
• 25% become the victim of violent crimes
• 15% commit suicide

There are over 153 million reasons to adopt, I pray that you find at least one of them important enough to you.

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I can’t remember but I think I’ve posted this song here before. If I did, so what? It’s a great song and my favorite by Pink Floyd. :)

Pink Floyd – On the Turning Away


This is part 2 of our latest adoption tale…

Match, Placement, and ICPC

This is where things get really interesting and hectic so I’ll break it down by day.

December 20th – My wife was at a Christmas cookie exchange party when she got a call from the adoption agency saying that a woman was in labor. If we wanted the baby, it was ours as the expectant parents did not want to be part of the selection process. Well, this was a huge surprise, but pretty quickly we decided we wanted to do this. We knew absolutely nothing about the situation yet.

We learned in a later phone call that the woman had only begun having contractions and was not actually in labor at the hospital. Therefore, the agency told us to wait on booking travel so we didn’t get to AZ early and potentially waste money.

December 21st - Lots of waiting by the phone as the agency sent us more information about the expectant mother and situation. We kept an eye on flights, rental cars, etc.

December 22nd – Same as the previous day. We were really on edge and antsy. We decided to continue with our previous holiday plans to visit my family in NOLA. Therefore, we packed to drive to Louisiana with the knowledge that we would fly from NOLA once we received word from the agency. We did this rather than staying home because our hotel in NOLA had already been paid for and I only see my family a couple times a year.

December 23rd – We got on the road at 5:30 a.m. and drove 500+ miles to my parents’ house.

December 24th – More waiting while we spent time with family. We did our Christmas present exchange and traditional foods. We didn't know it at the time, but the baby’s mother had been admitted to the hospital and the doctors had started inducing her.

December 25th – We got the word that the mother had her child (a baby girl, but we wouldn’t find that out for a few more hours). We booked our flight for the following day and sorted through what we would take with us and what we’d leave behind at my parents.

December 26th – Of all the traveling for the trip, this was by far the worst day. It was our first time flying with young kids and we made a couple of rookie mistakes (especially as it relates to the car seats…had to bring 3 with us). Our flight got in around 8:00 in the evening. Once we finally got all our bags and the rental car taken care of, we went straight to the hospital.

We met our new baby and spent about an hour at the hospital. Leah stayed overnight with the baby while I took our other two kids to an older couple’s house. They graciously opened their home to us for a free place to stay. Finding the home, getting the kids dinner, and so on meant that the kids didn’t go to bed until around what would have been 1:30 a.m. if we were still in the eastern time zone.

All things considering, my two oldest did pretty well.

December 27th – Took the two oldest kids back to the hospital to have lunch with Mom who was going to stay there until our new baby was released.

Unfortunately, Daddy made a big mistake. My oldest daughter has a pretty bad egg allergy and we have to be on constant alert to make sure she doesn’t accidentally ingest something with eggs in it. Well, for lunch I decided to get Jack-in-the-Box because I love the food and they don’t have any in Georgia. Problem is they put mayo on their hamburgers. I didn’t even think about that being a possibility. We thought we caught our screw up fast enough after taking the burger from her after only two bites….however we were wrong….

After leaving the hospital, I decided to go to the store and pick up some groceries. She began throwing up in the store so I left my cart where it was and got out of there quickly. In the process, she threw up all over me and in the parking lot for over half an hour. Then she threw up twice in the minivan on the way to the house. Then she threw up off and on for another 2 hours until finally working it all out of her system.

Talk about a mess.

On the bright side, we were able to take our baby girl home that night.

December 28th – Tried to get somewhat settled into our temporary home with everyone out of the hospital.

December 29th – More of the same and got to go to church with our new family of five.

December 30th - We had to take our baby to the pediatrician for a newborn checkup. Some blood tests that should have been done on the birth mother in the hospital had not been done. So, we had to go all over Phoenix to find a lab to ensure that our baby did not have an infection that would have required a 10-day stay in the NICU. It was a frustrating and stressful day thanks to a screw up at the hospital.

December 31st - Blood test came back in a normal range which meant no infection.

My two oldest kids and my wife got hit with a REALLY bad stomach bug. They threw up all evening and all night (and all over the house). My son had it the worst. He was throwing up in his sleep. To make matters worse, this was after a New Year’s dinner of hot dogs. My wife doesn’t think she’ll ever eat any again.

On the plus side, I managed to dodge the bullet, as did our new baby. That meant Daddy was cleaning up throw up for three people. Fun!

January 1st – My son was still throwing up, but eventually everyone’s stomachs settled. I did my best to keep the baby away from those infected while doing about eight loads of laundry and continuing to clean up after the chaos of the night before. Leah and my two oldest watched movies all day.

January 2nd – Everyone recuperated while I spent the day working remotely. (Year end close and I’m an accountant.)

January 3rd – I worked remotely again to take care of year end close duties. Leah took the kids out of the house for a bit so I could concentrate more. However, I ended up coming down with a partial bowel obstruction (very painful) thanks to a Crohn’s flare up. I had to go to the ER where I was pumped full of antibiotics, steroids, and painkillers. I was admitted for the night into the hospital.

January 4th - The attending GI doctor decided to keep me another night. Basically, this meant I wrote, read, and watched movies on demand and the NFL playoffs. Not too bad of a way to bide your time except I knew Leah had all three kids by herself.

January 5th – I made it out the hospital. Yay. Unfortunately, I hadn’t had anything to eat in nearly two days and for some reason the re-introduction of food into my system after a fast is always extremely painful.

January 6th – I continued to recover….very painfully. The kids’ behavior started to be awful. The strain of travel, a new baby, and being away from home really started taking a toll.

January 7th - We met up with some friends of my wife for dinner. We got word that the Indian Court approved our adoption (our daughter’s birth mother is a registered Navajo tribe member so she and her boyfriend had to go before a special Indian Court for it to get approved. This is not anywhere near as complicated a process as people think it is so long as you do things the right way.).

January 8th - We took the baby to her two-week check up. She grew all of an 1/8 inch, but she put on over half a pound! We got word that Arizona cleared us to leave the state and they sent our info to Georgia for them to approve us to enter.

Thursday, Jan. 9 – It was my wife’s birthday. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do anything very special for her so we decided to just get out of the house and spend most of the day together as a family. We took the kids to a playground and then ate the worst Mexican food in my entire life. I actually couldn’t even finish it and it made me nauseous until dinner. We tried going out again for dinner and had Applebee’s (classy, I know). Better meal, but the kids are just behaving awfully so it was kind of a stressful meal.

We found out that somehow only a tiny fraction of the necessary paperwork made its way to Georgia. Leah had to scramble to find a FedEx location with a late enough pick up time to allow her to overnight copies of all the paperwork she had thankfully taken with us.

In the words of my wife, “the kids have become full on demon-spawn” at this point.

January 10th - After frantic calls to lawyers and caseworkers and after stalking the FedEx tracking page all morning, our paperwork arrived in Georgia. The ICPC coordinator couldn't get a hold of any of our agency's contacts, so they called us directly to say we were cleared! Frantically, we booked our airfare back to NOLA.

January 11th - We left early in the morning to catch our 10:30 flight. The kids did really well until we got to the gate and we realized that in our rush to leave, we had forgotten to give them any breakfast or snacks. Oops. We got to go through the easy security line. Our shoes remained on, our bags remained unopened. They didn't even have my wife take the baby out of the sling! All three kids did great on the flight. Travel couldn’t have been easier which we were very thankful for. My mom picked us up from the airport. We went to my parent’s house and within minutes my grandmother and aunt came over to see the new addition to the family.

January 12th - We headed home. It took 10 hours. Overall, the kids did great. We knew being away for so long was affecting their behavior but we didn’t realize how much they missed our house until we walked in and my son started touching everything excitedly exclaiming how happy he was to see it. “Look dad, it’s my very own wall! And my floor! And my chair!”

Leah started feeling a tickle in the back of her throat that later in the week became a full on cold (that she picked up from our host family).

The week following was hectic as we were catching up on not being home for over three weeks…we all caught Leah’s cold…and also having my mother in law with us while my father in law had to travel for work.

Unfortunately, I was back at work on the 22nd.

I promise you that’s not everything that happened and typing it out like this really isn’t doing the story justice. I jokingly told my wife that if the Simons were a Westeros family in GRRM’s series, our house motto would be “We do things the hard way.”

But, it was all worth it to have our new addition to the family.

And on a side note, despite all that we went through, I managed to write every single non-traveling day and totaled around 30K words.

Next week will be part 3 in which I’ll touch on what our plans are for the future (yes, we’re hoping for more!)

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A personal favorite among one-hit wonders. And yes, time sometimes feels like a tumbling tide . . . at least lately when I can’t seem to find enough of it. Ha.

Time Has Come Today


For those that follow my blog, you probably remember me mentioning that we were in the process of adopting again. Well, I’m happy to say that on Christmas Day our new baby girl was born (which puts all three of our kids with December birthdays…crazy, I know). It also means that now with two daughters, my son and I are outnumbered. Ha.

All joking aside, this has been a pretty crazy experience with lots of ups and downs (far more than with my other daughter’s adoption). Some of those ups and downs occurred before we were matched with our new child, others occurred afterward while waiting for paperwork to process so we could leave the state where she was born) and return home.

Since everything is all squared away and we are back home, I thought I’d share some of those ups and downs. It’s my hope that by doing so, more people might see that just because things don’t always work out how you planned (or wanted them to) it doesn’t mean that they won’t still end up well for you in the end.

Before Placement
One of the risks associated with adoption is that after being matched with an expectant parent, the prospective adoptive parents run the risk that something will endanger the match (i.e. one or both expectant parents changing their mind about adoption). This isn’t something that happens as often as people think, however, it does happen.

Oddly enough, this happened to us twice over the last few months. The first time, the expectant mother committed fraud about her pregnancy. The second time, the birthmother withheld medical information that showed she suffered from a mental disease. Because of this, she needed to go through psychological evaluation to prove she was mentally fit to terminate her parental rights before the adoption could continue. She didn’t want to do this. As a result, we lost several thousand dollars used to cover medical/living expenses for these two women prior to the match failing. In between these two matches, we also missed a couple of opportunities because expectant parents who initially chose us to parent their child, changed their mind once they realized that we did not live in the same state for them to visit the child post-adoption.

Unfortunately, these things happen.

More unfortunately, is that people often hear about or even experience these setbacks and get discouraged with the entire process. I find that sad. The little sacrifice or suffering we dealt with throughout these experiences is nothing compared to what we’ll be doing for and getting out of our new child. Something to remember for any adoptive parents is that a matched child is still not your child. Do not allow yourself to think of the child as yours or refer to the child as yours (even right after birth) until parental rights have been signed over to you and the child is actually yours. This outlook might seem a bit harsh, but it protects you emotionally from any ups and downs. I know it has helped us.

Next week, I’ll talk about the craziness that ensued once we were matched this last time …

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Finally, after more than three weeks away, we made it back home to GA last night. More details about our trip coming up later in the week. Until then…

Homeward Bound


In January of 2013, I posted the following writing related goals. The results are bolded.

1. Publish Trial and Glory, the last book in the Blood and Tears trilogy. DONE.

2. Secret project for Rise and Fall: Book One in the Blood and Tears Trilogy. DONE. This was the audiobook. I’m happy to say that all three books in the trilogy are now available in audio form.

3. Write and finish Forgotten Soldiers - Book One in The Saga of Tyrus. DONE.

4. Write and finish Book Two in The Saga of Tyrus. NOT DONE. I’m only about halfway through with this. The reason is because I shifted gears and instead wrote the first two books (and started the third) in the Epic of Rondel and Andrasta series. I consider that a pretty decent trade-off.

5. Decide how I want to approach publishing The Saga of Tyrus. DONE. These will be indie published for now.

6. Write four to six short stories. I have outlines for three of these. The ones I have in mind would run the gambit: a post-apocalyptic modern world, sword & sorcery, and science fiction. NOT DONE. I think I only finished one short story in its entirety and I decided to hold on to it for a while. I actually started four to five others, but just lost interest. I don’t know what the deal is, but I just don’t generally enjoy writing short stories like I do novels...therefore, unless a short story idea really moves me or I have the time to pursue them at my leisure, I won’t be worrying about them for some time.

7. Possibly indie-publish one to three short stories. NOT DONE. See note six above for why. However, I do have an older short story that is in good shape I might try to put up next year.

8. Finish outlining and start writing Book Three in The Saga of Tyrus. NOT DONE. As mentioned in point 4 above, this is because I switched gears in focusing my time in the second half of 2013.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the way the year has turned out as I’ve managed to write well over 300,000 pretty clean words (much more if you count the short stories started, but not finished). Although my focus shifted temporarily from one series to another, I really didn’t miss a beat. Because I wrote so much, I should be able to make up for only publishing one novel in 2013.

2014 Writing Goals

I’ve decided to keep this list pretty simple this year.

1. Write two to three books. This will probably be Book Three of the Epic of Rondel and Andrasta  (currently working on this…about 35K into the rough draft), completing Book Two in the Saga of Tyrus, and either working on Book Three in the Saga of Tyrus or going back and doing Book Four of the Epic of Rondel and Andrasta series.

2. Publish four to five novels. This will be the first three books in the Epic of Rondel and Andrasta and at least the first book in the Saga of Tyrus. I’m hoping I might be able to publish the second book in the Saga of Tyrus as well, but I’ll have to play that by ear. If I do get it out it will probably be around December.

So, those are the main goals. I’m sure I’ll try to do more, but so long as I do the above, I’ll consider it a very successful year.

What are your 2014 goals?


Presented without comment.

The Lion Sleeps Tonight


10. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Finally got around to this classic. Great read. I found the stories improved as the book went on.

9. In the Realm of the Wolf by David Gemmell

I finished my read of the Drenai Saga this year. Gemmell is definitely one of my favorite authors now. I can’t wait to read his other books.

8. Hyperion by Dan Simmons

This is such a weird book and actually took me a bit to get into. However, it is well worth the effort. Awesome originality. Will be reading the sequel shortly.

7. Passage at Arms by Glen Cook

It’s Glen Cook. That should be really all I need to say. Awesome Sci-fi military. Another book that starts a bit slow and really picks up as the story progresses.

6. The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson

I was really surprised how much I enjoyed this one. One of Sanderson’s better releases.

5. First Chronicles of Druss the Legend by David Gemmell

Possibly my favorite of the Drenai Saga as it had one of the better endings.

4. The Tyrant’s Law by Daniel Abraham

Each book in this series gets better and better. And thankfully, book four is scheduled for a 2014 release.

3. The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks

Weeks is really coming into his own. I was sort of indifferent to the Night Angel Trilogy. This series (especially this book) has moved him up on my list of authors to keep track of.

2. Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein

A classic I’m glad I finally got around to reading. Worth every bit of praise it’s ever received. And now I fully understand why Heinlein fans hated the movie so much.

1. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Another classic I finally got around to reading this year. Very original for its time and copied quite a bit since (Though none have done it so well). Full of heart and emotion. A must read.