Tuesday, March 31, 2015

14 Ways To Not Swallow Your Foot (or... Things Not To Say Or Do To Your Friends Who Have Adopted)

So a couple in your small group has decided to adopt. Or your daughter comes home from school talking about her new best friend who looks "nothing like her sister."

Wanna shock 'em with your savvy behavior while at the same time trying NOT to remove your foot from your throat?

Check out these 14 easy things to not do or say to your friends who have adopted... put 'em in practice and you're well on your way to becoming an advocate!

1. "Oh my gosh! They are SOOOOOO lucky!"
Nope. No they're not. Not at all. Lucky would imply that we somehow were part of some saving grace for them -and we all know that's not true. Give them some time (say middle school or so) - they'll likely tell you how unlucky they really are...

They are - however - blessed, divine, righteous, children of a redeeming Savior - but they aren't lucky. Luck did not place them where they were. There is nothing lucky about starting out life in some of the hardest, toughest, most challenging circumstances you can imagine while your birth parents have had to make some of the hardest, toughest, most challenging decisions ever.

Now us... me and Laura? If anybody's lucky - it'd be us. We're beyond lucky. We're also blessed that the same redeeming Savior who built these little champions found it fit to choose us as their parents.

No luck in this family people. Only God.

2. "How much did they cost?" or "You have a receipt for those kids?"
Yep - been asked both of those questions. And look - we are fierce advocates for adoption because we do believe in it as an option after much else has been exhausted - so if you do wanna have a real conversation around costs and ways to step out in this area - we're all about it.

But if you're asking that question with other motives... examine your heart. STAT.

Would you ask me how much I make? Would you ask me to see my check book or online bank account information? No?

Then why would it ever be okay to delve into that area with somebody?

Here's a hint... it's never okay. Ever. And if you just simply can't handle it and just have to know... that's what Google is for.

3. "Could you guys not have kids?"
No - we couldn't - hey, did you get that rash on your privates cleared up? No... still got it? Ewwww... I'm sorry.

See... weird, huh? Infertility is a medical issue that is ripe with embarrassment, feelings of inferiority and inadequacy. Why on earth would you ask somebody that?

On top of that - you're making a pretty strong assumption that somebody only adopted because they couldn't have biological children. Silly naive person...

Here's the deal - get to know us and we'll likely share everything with ya - the good, the bad and the ugly. But don't try and pry it out of me if I don't want to share it with you. Weirdo.

4. Touching their hair (or any part of them) without their permission.
Let's be honest this should just apply to humans in general. Unfortunately - it's on this list - sooooo... ya know... people.

I get it - my kids are UTTERLY ADORABLE. The most beautiful on the planet. I say that with complete humility because they have none of my DNA (thank God!). And that hair... I mean... come on! Meron's Polamalu-esque locks, Mebbie's Minnie-Mouse Puffs and Z-Dogg's Polka Dot, Polka Dot, Polka Dot AFRO!

I know - sometimes I just wanna romp in it myself... but I'm their dad. You? You're a stranger in line at Target. Don't be an even stranger stranger by touching my kids.

And for the record - they're not zoo animals or some wild species we discovered deep in the woods. They're kids. Don't stare, don't touch... go to the zoo for that. Go pet a lion.

5. "Do they know they're adopted?"
Nope. And we're never, ever gonna tell them.

I guess there are times when this may be the case - but in interracial, dynamic families like ours - uh... come on now.

We talk about adoption a lot around here. In beautiful ways while acknowledging the harsh reality and pain of it all - so yeah - our kids know they're adopted.

And ya know what? They're fiercely proud of that, their family and the very place God has put them.

6. "They're so cute. I'd love to sneak one home in a suitcase."
Hmmm... and I guess I'd love to sneak you a file baked in a cake into prison, you child trafficker, you.

I have heard this said by so many people before and I know they say it out of ignorance - but look at it - say it again - while thinking of the situation that led to the need of adoption. While thinking about our kids. Say it again - go ahead.

It's belittling and demeaning. It reduces a person - a beautiful creation of God - to something that you wish you could smuggle out of the country.

It's also a slap in the face to people who respect the system - go about it the right way - and suffer through the process and financial burden of it all.

So no... no suitcase smuggling comments.

7. "We think we want to adopt one day too - but we want to have our own kids first."
I think what you meant was "biological kids" but still... it's an error in thinking that can lead to other problems.

If you see a difference between a child that pops outta your belly and a child that comes into your family by adoption - then you seriously need to reconsider your plans.

It's gonna take a WHOLE LOTTA GOD to stare at your OWN child that came in to your family through adoption - when they're teenagers, all angsty and angry and yelling at you that you're not their real mom or dad - and to not see them as anything but your own child that you love.

If ya start off on that foot - it's only gonna go downhill.

My kids are my own.

8. "Are they real brothers and sisters?"
No - Mebbie is actually a puppet and Z-Dogg is nothing more than a cardboard cut-out rendition of a little brother. It's all fake.

Again - I think what you meant to ask was "Are they biological siblings."

Not that it matters - or is any of your business - because now - in this family that God mashed together - they couldn't be any more brother and sister.

And that's really REAL.

9. "Do they speak english?"
Well - let's see. Zechie actually came home speaking Minion-ese. Now he speaks a Minion dialect of English.

Mebbie was on her third language when she came home - and she picked up English in about 3 weeks and I'd venture to say she speaks it with a better grasp of it than a WHOLE lot of adults I know.

And Meron - well Meron was 7 months old when she came home - the only thing making noises was her butt. It sounded English. Smelled English too.

Yes - my kids speak English. Unless they're being disciplined. Then they like to pretend they don't understand English and can't speak any language.

10. Acting as if behavior issues are directly related to being adopted
Pssst! Parents of biological kids - come here - I wanna share something with ya...

I see your kids. I see them at church. At School. At Target. At the playground. And... MAN OH MAN ARE THEY HORRIBLE!

Is it because they're biological? It must be because they were born from your womb - because my kids don't act anything like that.

See how irrational all of that sounds? Don't paint with big, fat, broad brushstrokes.

And hear me - a lot of children who start life out in trauma, or terribly hard conditions WILL have some challenges to work though. But ya know what? So will a lot of biological kids.

Just don't ASS-U-ME things...

11. "What happened to their real mom and dad?"
You're looking at 'em Sherlock.

I think the thing you're digging on is what circumstances drove their biological parents to have to make what I can only imagine is probably the hardest decision a parent could ever be faced with.

Is that what you meant? Oh, it is? Well - that's none of your business.

That's my child's story and I will defend it fiercely. Oh - I pray that one day they will be used by God to impact His kingdom in a mighty way. I mean - Meron has already stood up on her own in her Sunday school class and shared a 30 second testimony of her life.

But that's their life. Their story. Don't ask.

12. "Do they have special needs?"
Have you met my kids? They're incredibly needy and they all think they're special.

But seriously - I know some amazing families who have adopted some incredible kids with medical needs and other circumstances. Some of them share publicly about the process and some of them don't.

But either way - it's a pretty pointed question to ask if it isn't being offered up to you.

Tread carefully in that area. Your best bet? Get to know people. You'll learn more in the long run that way.

13. "Why Ethiopia? There are kids right here in America with needs too."
Sigh... truthfully... this one just saddens me.

It's a window into a very shallow and narrow mind.

Yes - there are all kinds of needs here in America - needs that we care deeply about. We try to expose our kids to those needs and find ways we can be involved as often as we can.

But that doesn't mean we can't care for our brothers and sisters all over the globe. Most of the time - when I'm asked this question - it's by somebody not doing anything anywhere - here or abroad. So it's an easy one to brush off.

But my typical answer to "Why Ethiopia?" - it's easy...

That's where my kids were.

14. Asking stupid, rude and probing questions right in front of my kids.
Wanna quickly learn how fiercely I will protect the innocence of my kids? Ask any one of the aforementioned questions within earshot of my kids...

I won't turn green - but you still won't like me.

This has happened at stores, from strangers, from friends, from people who mean well (I think...) - and each time I treat it the same... SHUT IT DOWN.

My job right now - is to protect the innocence of my kids as long as I can - to not let the world creep in and steal it.

So please - don't make me have to get crazy on ya....

So there ya have it folks - 14 ways to not swallow your foot...

And become a pretty solid adoption advocate in the process!

Monday, March 30, 2015

These Two

These two right here...

Keeping blogs cute for several years and counting.


Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Triple D

Today - while all Camp Hoffman females hit the movie theater - Z-Dogg and I got have a Triple D - Daddy Dude Day.

He's been asking for one for a while - and even though I think he'd rather have gone hunting (he's been asking me about that daily) - I think we had a good time.

After a Starbucks run for cake pops and coffee - we came back home and did some Spring tune up work on the motorcycle. Unfortunately - he couldn't ride it like he wanted to - but I think he had a good time anyways...

When the wind picked up we decided to give his kite a try....

Somebody was stoked!

And he turned out to be a petty darn good kite pilot!

Z-Dogg... daddy LOVED today with you!

Can't wait for our next Triple D!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Run Like The Wind

I love this photo of Z-Dogg.

It's not the best composition or lighting or angle or clarity even...

But it embodies Zechie's little spirit perfectly.

Smiling... moving fast... living life at top speed.

His biggest sister was across the parking lot yelling:

"Run Zechie! Run like the wind!"
And he was.

Straight into her arms.

Don't ever let life slow ya down Z - keep moving!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Paint Mines

I took today off to try and spend the last day of Spring Break with my favorite people - and it ended up being more of a sick day as we are all getting over some allergy sinus stuff...

But when the meds kicked in - we had to get out cuz it was just too beautiful to stay inside today.

So we headed to the Paint Mines - a really cool series of trails through a bunch of neat geological formations that I had heard a lot about...

We heard there was all kinds of natural beauty out there...

And as we pulled in and hopped out the van...

we saw it!

The sky and trails were pretty beautiful too!

We headed out on the trails and MAN was it crazy.

Gorgeous skies, wide open, expansive views... almost enough to give ya a case of agoraphobia!

At one point - Laura channeled her inner William Wallace and let loose with a battle cry that is still echoing across those plains I think...

The formations were super cool...

Eventually we deserted the B.O.B. and headed off to explore a little closer...

The natural colors on the formations were really cool to look at...

But about a hour in - it was time to head back.

On the way back to the trail-head - we noticed these massive black spots that looked like fires had taken place...

But then... they moved. And we realized it wasn't a fire scar at all - but rather massive, dark shadows of the clouds overhead.

It's weird out here. You're a lot closer to the sky and all of its inhabitants. Cloud shadows aren't something we ever really felt like we saw much of before!

We finally rolled back in to the parking lot after covering about 3 miles total... and we had some pooped little hikers on our hands!

This picture here pretty much sums it all up for us...

GOD - we LOVED Your beauty and creations ya left us out there!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Creative and Talented God

The same God that made the Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains and the gorgeous red rocks at the garden they are standing in...

Also made them.

And it shows.

We serve an incredibly creative God!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Straight Beauty

Laura has been putting in some serious work on the girls hair this spring break!

While we absolutely adore the curls in this house - Laura put in like 4,000 hours today to brush and blow dry Meron's hair to let her see just how long her hair actually is...


The girl has a ton of hair - and it left us just staring at its length...

Well - some of us.

Others were passed out in the fetal position from the effort...

Meron - ya look 10 years older with this 'do!

But we all know what one drop of water or a humid day would do to that head... BOING!

Looking beautiful Meron...

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Towering Tower

Meron was laid up on the couch this afternoon with a sinus headache - so what'd this one do right in front of her for some entertainment?

Built a towering tower of power out of legos that dwarfed her and her brother , that's what!

Way to build guys.. way to build!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Let Your Hair Down!

Sunday - Mommy gave Mebski Love a big fat gift - two hours of straight work on her hair!

Mebbie came outta that bathroom looking like somebody we didn't even know!

And let me tell you - she is LOVING IT.

Big ole smiles beaming across her face...

And honestly - we were all kinda shocked at just how long her super curly hair actually is!

Looking so good Mebbie!

Your hair doesn't make ya girl - but it is part of your beauty!


Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Bit Of It All

Crazy. Defiant. Stubborn. Insane. Whiney. Selfish.

Fun. Silly. Goofy. Hilarious. Nutty. Cool. Adorable.

Loving. Caring. Giving. Compassionate. Sweet.


He embodies all of these - sometimes all at once - sometimes individually but in a matter of seconds of each other.

And we love all of it.

Keep on doing you Z-Dogg!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Deep Thinker

This girl right here is our resident deep thinker.

She's gonna change the world one day with the way she thinks. I just know it.

And I can't wait to see it!

Keep scheming, plotting and thinking Mebski Love!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Their Heart Growth, Strength and Maturity

Sometimes... I wonder how our goofballs feel about us and the emphasis we have around here on God, His nature, knowing Him, etc.

Like... do they or will they resent us for it? Would they rather us have a monthly "toy budget" instead of saving for adoptions or trips to Ethiopia?

Would they rather us lavish gifts and STUFF on them than try to keep a focus on others and their needs before our own?

Will they even care that we prayed for ambulances, Christians abroad and anybody else that asked us to pray?

I wonder this stuff.

But then I see these three and how they interact. With each other, with us and with those outside our family.

How quick they are to run to each others' sides and rally around each other when one is down, hurt or sad.

How fiercely they love, how quickly they forgive, how deeply they care and how richly they give.

I see all that... and I don't wonder any more.

These guys get it.

They've seen a lot, lived a lot and experienced a lot in their short lives.

Their hearts are stronger and more mature than most any I know.

And I'm a better dad, dude and human for having known them...

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Bring It On Spring!

Perfect timing Granny!

After a rough 48 hours or so - we opened up the mailbox to a box from North Carolina.

Yeah - it snowed this morning - but tomorrow is the first day of Spring and this water gear was much appreciated!

The Goofball Gang is ready for some pool action!


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

When Good News Is Super Hard...

We got good news the other day. 2 days ago to be exact. Really good news. Great news. It made us sad and a little confused... but super good news, nonetheless.

Those little hands up there. The ones we had prayed about and said "Okay God... we'll do this..." - well... two days ago the birth mother of those little hands came back in to her life. She took her home and has decided to give it a go.

And we couldn't be happier!

But that doesn't mean it didn't cause a little sadness too.

Laura and I talked and while we were both sad - sad because the buzz and excitement of a new Hoffman had already permeated the whole family - we were OVERWHELMED WITH JOY because THIS IS GOD'S PLAN. In a non-fallen world there would be no need for adoption.

I told Laura - who knows... maybe God wanted us to step out in faith (which trust me - this was a fiscal act of faith beyond any other for us). And maybe that step out in faith - and coming to all you prayer warriors for prayer and accountability - is exactly what was needed - an uprising of prayer that turned a birth mother back to her daughter. Her sick daughter - who needed her.

We were sad... but we are TRUSTING HIM.

And then... there's the goofball gang. Hard news to tell any kids who would be excited.

But now - consider telling two gorgeous daughters of our King who were adopted that a birth mother came back and that this is the right thing for her. I needed God to give me the words because I am incapable of crafting them when it comes to my kids - gorgeous, beautiful pieces of our family that sprung up from hard places - like redeemed roses from concrete.

How do I tell these redeemed roses that a birth mother coming back is the right thing - the best thing even - when theirs did not?

See - I needed God to do this.

And after hearing Meron tell me that her "good thing" at school was her telling the class about her sister in Ghana and getting to go with us when we traveled there - and then being bumrushed by Mebbie tonight as she explained her new venture... "Art by Mebbie" that she was launching to raise what she called "family money to bring home our girl..."

I knew tonight was the night we had to tell them this.

I prayed my whole run. It rained on me - kinda hard - which is funny cuz God knows I like to run in the rain. And it helped make the tears be indistinguishable from the rain and sweat. Cuz I prayed and cried cuz I didn't know how to have this talk.

But He did. And we talked at dinner.

There were tears. Some anger. Some confusion. Lots of hugs.

And some really deep, solid conversations with our amazing 7, 6 and 3 year olds... who are stronger than most ANYBODY i know.

Laura had some good words - and she said she feels like we are really learning what Jesus is like. And truthfully - all the pain, confusion, sorrow and joy is worth it. It's so so worth it - to know Him better.

So thank you Internet - for praying with us and for us and for this precious little girl who tonight is sleeping in a home where she belongs.

Tonight - we learned that some good news can hurt really, really bad... but ice cream always helps.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

She Just Wanna Know Where The Gold At!

This girl right here... she loves her a good tradition!

And that's exactly why she spent a good hour or more plotting, designing and putting together her homemade leprechaun trap this evening.

Complete with fake gold coins to entice him in and a bowl propped on a Sharpie to snag him when his greedy little self comes exploring!

The best part of it all though is this... when push comes to shove - she knows what matters!

Meron - your worth way more than gold to all of us too girl!