Tomatoes and an Elf Shoe

Oh, how we’re going to learn patience in the adoption process. I think that’s why I rejoice so much over the gargantuan size of my tomato plant.

My Huge Tomato Plant

It’s already enormous, after less than two months. Taller than me. My gut gets all aflutter when I see it. My peppers, on the other hand, have not been nearly as hardy. They haven’t grown much, and despite promising little bud-like things, I have only one pepper. It looks a little like an elf shoe.

Elf Shoe Pepper (Jalapeno)

So far, the adoption process has been like growing a pepper. We’ve got our homestudy date on the calendar, a little elf shoe, but there is still so, so much that needs to happen before we’re nuzzling a soft little noggin’ into that part of the neck that seems made to fit a baby’s head. I know at the homestudy we’ll be asked why we want to adopt. We’ll be asked again at the psychological exam, just another stepping stone to getting the dossier complete. For those not familiar with the terminology (we weren’t until recently) you have to have a homestudy to have a complete dossier, and you have to have a complete dossier to be matched with a child in Honduras. The dossier is the official pack of paperwork that we’ll send. Back to that question: Why do we want to adopt? Why do I want to adopt? Why are we willing to go through all this paperwork and waiting?

It’s not because my kids want a baby, though they do. Not because Clay wants a baby, though he does, too. I’ve heard some parents say their family just didn’t seem complete, they knew they were supposed to have another child. But that’s not really the right answer for me, either. The reason I want to adopt a baby is because the best thing I’ve done with my life is raise children. Better than writing books, running, reading, traveling around the world, and yes, even better than growing a tomato plant taller than me. Diapers, giant plastic toys, and lack of sleep are a small price to pay for laughter around a dinner table, reading a book to a child in bed at night, or spying on one of my kids lost in a world all their own. Sharing my home with a child opens my eyes to a world I would never have seen without them.

Our family is not incomplete right now. But it can become deeper and richer. Clay and I have the health, energy, and resources to raise another child. Most of all, we both feel called to it. The elusive “call,” that you can’t put your finger on, but you know. You feel. And as soon as you act on the call, you get confirmation. So-and-so has a friend in Honduras who works with orphanages. We were told this not one, not two, not three, but four times. Four separate, different contacts in Honduras, once we decided that’s where we wanted to adopt. And that’s just the beginning of the open doors.

Today I saw pictures of a family we know who is picking up their little boy in Rwanda. I felt like I was looking at someone else’s giant tomato plant, and all I had was a little elf shoe of an adoption process going. But I have to trust that eventually the call that planted this seed will continue to grow and grow until we’re picking up our baby. Something taller than ourselves is at work, overseeing the growth of the Davis family, and with his help, we will bear some beautiful fruit.

It's Growing . . .

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Togas and Toenails

This week I had to learn to tie a toga, and cut our guinea pig, Mohawk’s, toenails. This seemed appropriate, as we forge ahead with paperwork, continuously stepping into the great unknown. I’d never tied a toga before, but I figured it out. Benji had a Greek and Roman Feast at school and he looked quite stately.

I never cut Mohawk’s toenails before, as evidenced by their gnarly appearance.

I was less successful in my clipping endeavors, and had to call a neighbor for help.

We finished a second big round of paperwork this week, and we’ll soon be contacted by a caseworker for our homestudy, the next benchmark on our road to our little girl. We’ve never done a homestudy before, never adopted a child before, but we’ll figure it out. We’ll probably call on neighbors for help. And family, and friends, and our church. And God for sure. Lots of praying going on around here. And toga-tying. And toenail-cutting. Life’s an adventure, and there are lots of stories to be told.

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White Out and Sticky Tabs

If it didn’t feel real before, it does now!

We printed out some of the adoption paperwork last night and Clay and I began tackling it today. I knew it took courage and a calling and lots of love to adopt.

I didn’t realize the need for lots of sticky tabs and white out.

I am not a good form-filler-outer. I write too fast (hmmm, could be linked to my talking genes) and don’t always look first to see if a) it needs a notary or b) I’m writing in the right box or c) which birth date goes with which child. Thankfully, I found the white out, and some colorful paper clips to boot. The pages are now bristling with sticky tabs, places Clay needs to sign or read or we need to figure out together. It feels good to be doing something, anything that brings us closer to this child.

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Hurry Up and Wait

This Sunday we ran into a friend whose family is adopting internationally, and when we asked him if there was any news about their child, he just shrugged and said, “Oh, you know, it’s hurry up and wait.” I can’t seem to get those words out of my head. Here’s why:

My early girl tomatoes don’t even have flowers on them yet! The plant is growing, true. They’ve at least doubled in size, and the branches are stretching outside the cage, but no tomatoes. I thought they would be “early” bloomers, so come on girl, grow me some ‘maters! I was in such a hurry to get them planted, once I finally decided to make the commitment and give it a try. I didn’t want to waste any of the growing season, so I rushed to the nursery with my friend. I bought liquid seaweed, and I fertilized. I water at the hint of dry soil. I do everything I can do, and now I wait. If a watched pot never boils, what happens to a watched plant?

My jalapenos are more exciting.

Can you see it? Right in front of the finger?

Benji and I oo’d and ah’d over these babies they way you might ooo and ahhh over tiny fingers and toes. Such a cute little pepper.

But I’m not just hurrying and waiting with the plants. I’ve been working diligently on a middle grade novel, sending it to readers, revising, blocking hours on my calendar so I could get it in tip-top shape. I sent a query to an agent yesterday, and got an automatic email reply that she’s out of the office until the end of April. In my dreams, she emails me from her vacation and says to send her the novel because she wants to read it while she’s on the beach sipping on a frozen margarita. Does a watched inbox ever get emails?

And on the adoption front, we’re entering the hurry-up phase. As of last night, we’ve decided to pursue Honduras. There have been many open doors in that direction. Many “coincidences,” people crossing our path with connections to Honduras. An author friend is house-sitting there for a year, we met a couple living in Honduras and working in orphanages who is in Dallas for a couple weeks, and every day or so when we mention Honduras, someone knows someone or has a connection that provides another open door. So we step through the doors, until they start closing.

I am thankful for the “hurry up and wait.” It helps me prepare for the inevitable. I know the next few weeks and months we’ll be busy filling out paperwork and making doctor’s appointments and preparing for a home study. Clay and I are type A, we’ll get the work done. We met with a wonderful woman this week who can help us navigate these waters. Weeks from now, when we’re frazzled or tuckered out, we’ll wait a while. We can expect to wait months before we’re matched with a child. I can see us now, out on the back porch, on the other side of the next few busy weeks. We’ll have a salt shaker in hand, and on a plate, a big, juicy, sliced up tomato. Good things come to those who wait.

“But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” Romans 8:24-25


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The Extraordinary Ordinary

“Do not look at the faces in the illustrated papers. Look at the faces in the street.” –G.K. Chesteron

This was the quote we chose as the banner for our “trip around the world” site, which we called “Faces in the Street.” It says everything we wanted to say about why we traveled for nine and a half months. We wanted to meet those faces on the other side of the globe. We wanted to hear their stories. We wanted them to become real. This blog is about the stories right here at home, because we all have stories to tell. The “Stories in the Street.” There are stories in homes, grocery store aisles, and cafeterias. I want to hear them. I want to “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.” (Henry David Thoreau) This is where I’ll share my stories. I hope you’ll share yours, too.

I came across a Jacques Cousteau quote that says exactly what I want to say about life, my writing, and this blog. “When one man, for whatever reason, has the opportunity to lead an extraordinary life, he has no right to keep it to himself.”

We all lead extraordinary lives. The extraordinary can be found in the most ordinary things. A leaf with fuzzy balls on the back. The first hint of a tomato. Coming home with my arms full of groceries to find an elaborate dart game taking place in my living room. I’m talking take-the-picture-off-the-wall-and-mount-a-target elaborate. Of course extraordinary can be found in the big moments of our lives, too. Our trip around the world. A first book contract. The adoption of a child.

I begin this blog on the cusp of big adventures, and small ones. I’ll be sending a middle grade manuscript to agents in the coming weeks. Our family recently decided to adopt a baby. And I just planted my first tomato plant. Ever. If it is successful, it will be the first time I’ve ever grown something I can eat.

I write this blog because I want to share my adventures, big and small, with others. I want to encourage others to share their stories with me. I’m a lover of stories, big and small. If you’ve found your way to this page, maybe you are, too.

Check back  for updates on manuscripts, babies, and, hopefully, tomatoes.

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