The New Year is Here !

Friday, December 31, 2010

We got a call about 10:05 this morning (December 31) from our son and daughter-in-law in China. It was 5 minutes after midnight (January 1, 2011) there, so the New Year is already rolling in around the world.

It makes me think of New Year’s resolutions. On just a few occasions, I’ve set out to keep New Year’s resolutions. My average failure date has been around January 15.

What I usually do about this time each year is pull out my “bucket list”, which I created 20 years ago, before the term existed, I think. I’ve got about 50 items on it that I want to do before I die. World Series – done; Christ statue in Rio – done; Great Wall of China – done; attend all 4 major golf tournaments – done; travel to Israel – not done; write a book – not done; become fluent in another language – not done, not even close.

If I live to an average old age, I can probably finish the list by doing about one a year. It would be nice to know how long we’re going to live… sort of. However, since we don’t, I think we should heed the word of encouragement in Psalm 90 – “teach us to number our days”. My aim in 2011 is “to number my days” – to make each day count.

What’s your 2011 aim or resolution; what’s on your bucket list ?

MTV

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Last night, Gladney was mentioned a couple of times and our website shown briefly on MTV’s show 16 and Pregnant. When I first learned that we were working with MTV, I was nervous about how we and adoption would be portrayed.

Wow ! My first reaction was simply relief. Then it just got better from there, as the show was so well done, even though the ultimate outcome was a bit different from the norm, but I don’t want to ruin the ending for you.

The Gladney references were nice, but what was even more powerful was the performance of our caseworker, Ashley Whiteside, and ultimately the poignant story itself.

The birthmom, also named Ashley, was of course confronted with an unplanned pregnancy. The show chronicled her emotional ups and downs during her pregnancy and after her delivery, focusing on the difficulty of her decision.

This episode of 16 and Pregnant vividly depicted 2 things for me:
• How much a birthmother loves her baby and the anguish involved in making a selfless decision
• The difficulty of being a teenage single mom who cherishes her baby, but also desires independence and the future she had been planning

I watched the show with my wife and college-age adopted daughter and it sparked some interesting discussion in our home. If you watched it, I trust it sparked some discussion in your home as well. If you missed it, I’m told you can watch at mtv.com.

CCAA

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

CCAA – China Centre of Adoption Affairs. To those of us in the field of international adoption, CCAA is an imposing, almost intimidating, institution, as they oversee all adoption activity in China.

On my recent trip to China, I had the pleasure of traveling to Beijing to visit with CCAA’s management team, led by Director-General Zhang. After lunch, a 4-hour meeting and dinner, I came away with 4 observations:
• CCAA is imposing.
• The leadership, and I’m sure the staff, of CCAA care deeply about the vulnerable children of China and are passionate about their well-being and about the international adoption community handling everything we do with absolute integrity.
• CCAA’s leadership team is fun and enjoys a good laugh (often at my expense). “What happens in Beijing stays in Beijing.”
• Finally, and not surprisingly, our own China treasure, Gongzhan Wu, knows everyone at CCAA.

It was a memorable, but exhausting, day. I flew back to Shanghai late that night and fell asleep at the gate, barely rousing myself for the final call to board. Otherwise, I might still be in China.

The Carols Say It Best

Sunday, December 19, 2010

“The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.”

“Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope; a weary world rejoices.”

“Light and life to all He brings; Risen with healing in His wings.
Mild He lay His glory by; Born that man no more may die.
Born to raise the sons of earth; Born to give them second birth.”

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns !
He rules the earth with truth and grace.”

“Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ, the Lord.”

“King of Kings and Lord of Lords; King of Kings and Lord of Lords !
Hallelujah ! Hallelujah ! Hallelujah !

George W. Bush's Gladney Plug

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I just finished reading President Bush’s book, Decision Points. I can see why it’s received such favorable reviews from his supporters and critics alike. Besides giving the reader a real peek under the tent, it is a balanced account of his presidency, in which he humbly acknowledges things he might have done differently as well as the accomplishments for which he is justifiably proud.

Of course, my favorite part of the book comes early (page 28, to be specific), where he mentions that he and Laura approached Gladney before ultimately giving birth to their twin daughters.

President Bush states: “We were fortunate to know about a wonderful agency called the Edna Gladney Home in Fort Worth. Founded by a Methodist missionary in 1887, Gladney had become one of the premier adoption homes in the world.”

He concludes this episode by noting their trepidation in contacting Ruby Lee Piester with news of their pregnancy and her thoughtful response.

Thank you President Bush for your Gladney endorsement ! Should you ever run for office again, you’ll be relieved to know that you can count on my endorsement as well !

Shanghai Children’s Home

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I just spent two weeks in China and Taiwan. One of the highlights was a tour of the Shanghai Children’s Home, an orphanage that houses over 600 children of all ages, most with special needs ranging from very minor to more serious. I was able to witness the deep commitment of the Home’s leaders and the passion of their care-givers. Most importantly, I saw many of the children.


Every time I visit an orphanage, I think to myself that these are the cutest children ever and that proved to be the case once again at the Shanghai Children’s Home. When you enter a room with about 20 three-year old orphans, you just want to embrace them all and give them a dose of fatherly affection. Invariably, one really captures your heart. For me, this time it was a smiling little boy who playfully pointed his “gun” (thumb and index finger) at me. I did the same back to him and he laughed and I was hooked. It was hard to leave.

I am so grateful for the work of the Shanghai Children’s Home and the support they receive from the Chinese government. It makes me proud that Gladney has worked with the Home for nearly fifteen years and that Gladney parents have volunteered at the Home.

I’m pleased to announce that we are formalizing our partnership with the Shanghai Children’s Home and will work even closer together in the future.

Christmas in China

Monday, December 13, 2010

Few things in life can compare to the joy of sharing in a worship service with Christians from all over the world. Yesterday, my wife Rebecca, son Phillip, daughter-in-law Katie and I participated in a Christmas service in China. Singing “Joy to the World” and “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” with Christians from over 30 countries was very moving, as was the pastor’s message on joy – the importance of recognizing that we serve a joyous God.

I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to worship with Christians in Russia, China, Germany, Ethiopia and other countries, as well as at the UN, and experience first-hand the truth of Revelation 7:9, which says: “…a great multitude, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne…”

For me and Rebecca, yesterday’s service was especially poignant, knowing that we would be saying our good-byes to Phillip and Katie right after the service and not see them again until July. Although Rebecca’s tears were a little more free-flowing than mine, I’ll confess to a constant lump in my throat and the occasional use of my handkerchief to wipe away my tears.

Perhaps the most memorable part of yesterday’s service were the children’s choirs, representing many countries. As proud fathers popped up all over the church to get good pictures, I was struck once again by the realization of how similar we all are. Just about every parent in the world wants the same thing – to see their children grow in character, live in peace and freedom, and have the opportunity to flourish.