Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Robert's Day

This whole adoption thing sure has been exciting, depressing, invigorating, rewarding, challenging, great and frustrating all rolled up into one nice little (or big, depending how you look at it) package. I sound bi-polar, huh? Well, I'm not. It's just the truth. We've experienced so many emotional mood swings, that it's not even funny. If anyone ever tells you it's easy to adopt a large sibling group... run! Because they're lying. It's not. There are so many things that we never thought of that we have had to walk through (and still are). It's hard. But it is definitely worth it. Yesterday was Robert, the youngest of the groups, 3rd birthday. He is such a special kid. He always looked so angry when we first got him. You could really tell that he had seen and experienced things that no child should ever have experienced. But over the last several months his temperament has totally changed. He is definitely a mommas boy ( which he tells me several times a day, just to tease me) and he loves being in a family. There have definitely been a few rough days over the last 8 months (especially here lately) but yesterday wasn't one of them. Yesterday was one of those days where we could really see and get satisfaction knowing that we're making a difference in the lives of our children. Having spent almost his entire life in an orphanage, little Robert never really celebrated a birthday the way you and I know it. He never had a cake or presents or anyone sing the birthday song to him. Today was his day. We took all the kids skating, opened presents and sang the birthday song to him. If you could have seen his little face. The appreciation and joy that he had... it was amazing. As he opened his presents (nothing even that spectacular) he was so happy and just sat there and jumped up and down, yelling, "yay, yay, yay!" Man, he was so happy! This may not seem like a big deal, but to us it was huge. You see, there have been several days when we've thought, "have we done the right thing by taking in all these kids?" "Did we really hear from God? Because some days are tough. But it's in the days like yesterday that we know, yes... we are doing the right thing. We did hear from God and these kids are growing up in a family that not only celebrates birthdays, but we also celebrate the fact that we serve a living God. A God that loves us and loves our children. A God that has a destiny and purpose for each and every one of our kids. So, thank you Lord for allowing us to experience difficult times... because it makes days like yesterday even sweeter.

Love ya,
Robert's Proud Daddy

Saturday, October 18, 2008

It's Been a Long Time!

It's been a long time... I know. We've been so busy, as you can imagine, but that's no excuse... or is it? Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking with it. Things have been going pretty smooth considering we doubled the size of our family 8 months ago. The kids have transitioned very smoothly into our family. Really, the only issues we've had worth speaking about have been space related. There always seems like there is someone around... no privacy. We have to think of creative ways to spend time alone. Late night car rides, banning all kids from our bedroom ( for some reason our bedroom is the family gathering place!), making all the kids go out to the back yard and locking the door (actually that is where they are now! lol!). We're not mean... if someone comes up to the window and they're bleeding we'll let them in.
There has been drama here and there though. Like last week, we had to take our new puppy to the animal hospital (we bought a 6 week old white boxer several weeks ago). It's seems as though when the kids were out in the backyard playing with water balloons, they had the pack of balloons on the ground, and the dog decided to eat all of them. That's right, all of them! About 150 to be exact. It was funny at first... seeing brightly colored piles of doggy doo doo laying around the yard. But after a day or so we weren't seeing anymore balloons, exiting, if you know what I mean, and Bella (the puppy) was getting very lethargic not wanting to play. We knew there was a problem... so off to the Vet we went. She had to stay all day and got to come home late that night. So, to say the least, we had a family meeting and I confiscated all balloons in the house.
Mary Jane is homeschooling all the kids. She is my hero. Really... she is. She is doing an amazing job. It has been tough at times and I know that she has wanted to strangle me and the kids, but she perseveres and presses on. The way she does what she does is amazing... being wife, mom, school teacher, housekeeper... it's really amazing.
We are in the process of trying to find a new home (bigger) so that we can all eat at the same table, have a room to home school the kids in, and a room that everyone can hang out in (other than my bedroom!). We'll have to see what God does. We put our home on the market several weeks ago but nothing yet. We are very content though. Even if we don't get another house, we're content. That's such a cool place to be in. To have a bigger house would be great but not mandatory. It seems as though in times past we were always striving to upgrade something or get the newest 'whatever'... but not now. We've really changed our outlook on life. We've acquired an eternal outlook rather than a temporal one. Not that we can't have nice things or that we have to dress in rags and drive vehicles that are on their last leg... because we don't. What I am saying is that acquiring things is not our main goal and focus. Actually you are probably going to think we're crazy... but listen to this... "We think that at some point we are going to adopt more children." I know it sounds crazy but we're praying about a different situations that we know of right now. We are waiting on a few things to happen then we will let everyone know. Long term, our dream is to eventually have a property large enough to put dorms on and take in multiple children and give them a home and a family. Now this is farther down the road but we believe it will happen. This will be large enough that we won't be able to do it alone. Will have to employ staff members to help with the children... kind of like a big children's home. So, just watch and see. Pray for us and agree that God will bring to pass the things he has put in our heart.
Well, that's about it right now but I will try to blog regularly again. If you are reading this and it is something that you like reading, please comment or email me at jim@dunnadoptions.org and I will keep it going. Thanks for reading.
Love ya, Jim
PS The large group picture is all of my neices, nephews, brother-in-laws, sister-in-laws, father-in-law, mother-in-law and our family. It's amazing to see this many people all raising their kids to be intentional followers of Christ!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Destined for Greatness

Today is a big day here at the Dunn house. Michael, our 18 year old is graduating from high school tonight. We are so proud of him. We know that God has great things for him in his future. He has always made us proud. Michael, we love you little buddy!

All the kids are doing good. Ana and Diogo won trophies in Children's Church Wednesday night for the pinewood derby races they were in. They built their cars from blocks of wood and they won 3rd place for their age groups. Also, Diogo and Gabriel have taught themselves to ride their bikes just over the last few weeks. And I do mean they taught 'themselves.' Nobody helped them. That's pretty amazing to me. These kids have so much potential and so much tenacity to stick with things. We know God has great things in store for all of our kids. Destiny... greatness! I think today's children need to be told about the greatness that God has for them. Don't you? I don't know how you were raised, but in my house there was a serious dilema. On one hand, I had a God-fearing mother who took me to church every Sunday. On the other hand, I had an abusive, alcoholic father who never went to church. To say the least, I didn't have the greatest example of how to be a father. As I grew up, my mother (bless her heart) was doing the best she could to raise me and my brother to love God; but, as a boy, when you see the man of the house not serving God, it causes confusion.

My parents eventually divorced when I was 11 years old and suddenly, I was the man of the house. My mother still tried to take me to church, but it was hit or miss. When I was at church, I heard a lot of "don't drink, don't smoke, don't listen to that music and don't do drugs." I never heard anyone tell me that God had a destiny and a purpose for my life. It was always don't do this... but never, "God has greatness in store for you." You see, I think that we as parents (and ministers) spend so much time trying to get our kids to be good when we need to be spending more time showing them how to be great. We need to be continually motivating them to be great men and women of God... men and women whom God has destined to change the world! If we could show them Jeremiah 29:11 and instill in them the fact that Acts 1:8 applies to them, and that if they truly embrace the potential of what God has planned for them... then their motivation for not drinking and smoking would go from good (my parents told me not to and it makes God mad) to great (God has a detailed plan of greatness for my life and to mess it up with sin would only diminish His Glory!) When is the last time we told our children about the great plans and purposes God has for them? When is the last time we really focused in on helping them find out what their God given talents and abilities really are? I encourage you to talk to your children about the plans God has for them. Help them realize that God has a specific purpose for their life. Don't be guilty of just telling them what their "not" suppose to do all of the time. Start showing them what they are "suppose" to do. It doesn't matter that you didn't have a good example of how to be a Godly parent. You can be the one to break the cycle of ungodly parenting. The Word of God is rich with wisdom on how to parent our children and to show them that they are "Destined for Greatness!"

Love you guys!


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"Where's the Fire?"

Tonight Mary Jane and I were sitting at the kitchen table watching all of the kids playing in the back yard. Because of the way the sun was shining, they couldn't see us but we could see them. They were all in a big group in the middle of the yard trying to work on their bikes. All of them were there except for Robert. He was on the trampoline by himself. But then we saw him get off of the trampoline, making his way toward all of his brothers and sisters. But he was walking funny...? wait a minute. His diaper had fallen off, half way, and was hanging through one of the leg holes on his shorts. We could tell it had some pretty good weight in it because of how far down it was drooping. We started making bets on who would notice it first and help him. MJ said, "it would be Ana" and I said, "I thought it would be Matthew." These kids really do help each other out quite a bit, which is amazing. Anyway, we were sitting there watching as he walked awkwardly toward everyone... no one noticed him. As he got closer to the herd, we started cheering on who we had picked as our choice as the one who would help first. But then we noticed... his diaper wasn't full of #1 but it was full of #2... and it was almost a neon green in color! As he stepped up to the rest of the kids, I think they all noticed him at the same time... and they all ran like there was a fire! All the kids ran in different directions and were yelling different versions of eww!We were laughing so hard... you had to see it. But speaking of fires we actually had one last week here at the house. It seems as though Matthew, Marlon and Diogo had a magnifying glass and used it to start a log on fire. Not that big of a deal, right? All boys do that at least once in their lifetime. But my boys took it one step further. They decided to walk around the yard with their flaming log. They walked around the side of the house and a piece of the fire fell off into a landscape bed containing an assortment of plants, including a perfect hedge of 25' tall leyland cypress that spans the entire length of the house. The bad thing is that they didn't notice it fell off. When they walked back to this side of the house about 45 seconds later, they heard a crackling noise and then they noticed that the tree was on fire! They ran inside to get MJ and she tried to pull the hose over to the fire but it was too short! She tried to arch the spray of the hose to reach the fire but it was barely reaching. All the kids ripped off their shirts and were trying to 'beat' the fire out as MJ was frantically trying to fill up pots to dump on the fire and spray the hose at the same time. Maryssa called the fire department as everyone tried to put out the fire. It was spreading rapidly because it was very windy that day. It was only about 10' from the house and everyone was freaking out because the fire was about 15' high and 10' wide! They were finally able to put it out, after what seemed like an eternity. It was a very stressful time for my little wife, to say the least. Other than that, things have been going great (except for having to take Matthew to the Emergency Room the Monday before that. He was riding his bike in flip flops and ripped half his toe off!). We've been home for a month now and there is never a dull moment at the Dunn home.

There have definitely been a few challenges though. One of the things is never seeming to have any time to just enjoy the kids. It seems like we're always having to referee and discipline and entertain... non-stop all day long, without just being able to just have fun. That gets very exhausting ( for MJ mostly because I'm usually at church). Also, not having anytime to just relax (except when it's time for bed.) is very wearisome for my wife.The other thing is being able to spend quality time with the kids one on one. We don't want to just provide food and shelter for these kids. We want to love on them individually and make sure that each one feels special. Dealing with everyone as a group doesn't achieve this. So, we're praying for wisdom so that we can come up creative ways to make this happen. As far as never having time to relax... I told MJ to fill up our big cooler with water (we wouldn't want anyone to dehydrate) then make all the kids go outside to play and just lock the door! Problem solved, right? Seems reasonable to me. Now I'm not talking about all day or anything just for an hour or so each day. If someone has a droopy diaper filled with poop hanging to their knees, or if someone severs their big toe off or if there's a fire... then they can come in. Sounds like a plan to me.

Love ya,

Jim and MJ

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

A couple of years ago I made the stupidist comment I've ever made during my 19 years as a husband and father. It was Mother's Day and I totally forgot all about it. I didn't remember until I got to church and then it hit me... "oh man, I didn't get MJ a card or anything!" After church we went out to eat and when we finished eating all the kids gave her cards and stuff they bought for her in the bible bucks store at children's church that day. It was their way of honoring her on her special day. When they were finished I could tell she was wondering where my card was... or my little gift I had gotten for her... it was an awkward moment because I didn't say anything. How could I tell the mother of my children that I had forgotten all about her? After what seemed like an eternity I changed the subject but I could tell she was wondering what was going on. When I got home I began to look around for something I could give her or something I could re-gift or something I could make for her at the last minute (what was I thinking?)... please Lord, I'm dying here, help me because I can't come up with anything. We finished out the afternoon and that night when we were in bed she asked me the million dollar question... "what did you get me for Mother's Day?" Before I could stop myself, these words rolled off my tongue... "you're not my mother." What? Did I actually just say that? Did those words just come out of my mouth? Man, am I in trouble now! Why couldn't I just tell her I forgot? No, I had to say, "you're not my mother." But my sweet little wife didn't even bat an eye she just said, "just wait until Father's Day!" Father's Day rolled around and sure enough... nothing. I thought she would walk in forgiveness because she loved me so much, but nope, I got nothing, zero, nada, zilch! What's up with that? Lesson learned. I've never forgotten Mother's Day again. Actually the next few years I really went overboard so that she would know the deep level of repentance that I had concerning this special day.

It's funny... the other day I had another one of those moments where I couldn't believe I said something. You know, after it comes out of your mouth you think, "that was stupid." I had just gotten home from the office and when I walked in MJ said, "I've had a rough day today and I'm glad you're home." Rather than saying, "sorry, tell me about it" I said, "you should have seen what I've had to deal with today." Now in the past that comment could have carried some weight and I would have probably received some sympathy. But now it means nothing. As soon as I said it, my brain said, "you're an idiot... look around." There were 7 kids running all over the place just being kids, dogs barking, dinner was cooking, laundry was washing, the house was buzzing with activity. I thought, "there's no way my day could have been anywhere near this hectic. I looked at MJ and said, "you win." Your day was worse than mine... hands down." "That was stupid for me to even try and get sympathy just because I was a little fatigued." "Come here and let me hug you for a minute." My wife is amazing. She does so much for us all. Most of the stuff she does goes un-noticed but she does it anyway and never complains. She always keeps the kids looking good. She's also an amazing cook. The way that she keeps the house together amazes me. We had a couple of neighbors stop by last week unannounced. When they came in they couldn't believe how good the house looked. They said, "our house was cleaner than theirs and they only had 2 kids!" She spends time with the kids and is always there for them. I was laying in bed one morning and I could hear her out in the kitchen feeding all the kids and making them laugh as she was talking to them. She is so much fun to be around. I'm amazed at how she is always giving and giving. I have no idea how she keeps it up??? She is so consistant and the way she manages to keep all 10 of us in line is truly a sight to behold. I am so blessed to have her as not only as the mother of my children, and as my wife... but as my best friend. I don't always remember to say it but, "thank you" for all you do. I love you, Mary Jane... even though "you're not my mother."

Sorry we haven't blogged over the last 2 weeks. It's been very busy at church and with our business. The kids are doing great though. I will blog within the next few days with some new pictures and updates. We've been receiving your emails, wanting to know how everyone's doing, and we're going to try and be more consitant with the blogs again (maybe 2-3 times a week). Please continue to pray for our family as we try and get a handle on being the parents that we need to be for our children.

Monday, April 28, 2008


OK. I know I'm going to sound crazy, but here it goes... we went to church on Sunday, which was great. The kids love church. After 2nd and 3rd service they had a meet and greet/reception for us and the kids so that whoever wanted to, could come by and meet the all our new children and see the rest of us since we've been gone so long. It was amazing to see all the support and love for our family (thank you Hope and Life... you truly are our family!). We were given so many gift cards and other gifts. It felt really awkward because we're not use to being showered with that type of attention. We'd rather be on the giving end than the receiving end. But it was amazing none the less, thank you everyone who came by! When it was all over Pastors Tony and Gwen asked us if we'd like to go and get a bite to eat with them... we were all so tired but it had been so long since we've been able to see them so we said, "yes." We went to a Mexican restaurant right down the street from the church. Now, in case you don't know this, brazilian food isn't spicey. Actually it's kind of bland in comparison to Mexican food. We didn't know if the kids would like mexican food but we didn't care because we just ate their food for 46 days and you didn't hear us complaining... well maybe you did a little bit. Anyway, off we went. When we got there and were waiting for our food to arrive we were all eating chips and salsa. Gabriel was sitting next to me and he likes to touch everything! He also eats just about anything (remember our blogs from Brazil?). But I know he doesn't like spicey food. He kept on wanting to dip his chip in the salsa like everyone else. So, to teach him a lesson and to make sure he wouldn't want to dip his chip in the salsa anymore... I took his chip and scooped up a nice heaping blob of salsa and let him take a big bite. As he was chewing, it seemed like it took at least 20 seconds (delayed reaction?) and he then cupped his hand over his mouth and made the sound you make when something is hot... all the while his other hand was waving up and down in a fanning motion. Of course I was laughing the whole time because it was funny (it is funny, right?). Then I picked him up and whisked him away to the bathroom so that I could rinse his mouth out with cold water. When we were finished I asked him if he wanted any more salsa and he said, "NO!" So, mission accomplished... he will probably never touch the salsa bowl again. Wow, this parenting thing keeps getting easier and easier...LOL! Now here's where the 'payback' comes in. When we were finished, Matthew, Gabriel and Diogo wanted to ride home with me in my truck. We all sat in the front seat next to each other (in seatbelts, of course) just driving along, minding our own business, nobody talking. We drove for about 25 minutes everybody was happy, listening to music, singing... it was very relaxing. We were about 3/4 of a mile from the house...then it happened. I looked down at Gabriel, who was wedged in between Matthew and Diogo, and he just looked me in the eyes... and he kind of had a blank look on his face. He then looked down and began throwing up! I'm not talking a few little spirts of liquid either... I'm talking projectile, solid column hold your mouth open and let it all fly vomit! And of course it was salsa colored! He did it back to back 3 times in about 30 seconds! It was everywhere! We couldn't do anything because we were all wedged in the front seat and couldn't move. The only thing we could do was sit there and watch in horror. Matthew rolled his window down and said, "Dad it smells soooo bad... I think I'm going to throw up!" I said, "please just hold on... we're almost home!" I reached my arm around Gabriel and started to rub the back of his head to let him know it was alright... then he looked back at me and smiled reeeal big. Now this is where you're going to think I'm crazy... I could swear to you that when he looked at me and smiled he had that look of "that will teach you to put spicey salsa in my mouth, won't it Dad?" Payback! Lesson learned son, Daddy's sorry (it was still funny though). Maybe this parenting thing isn't that easy after all.

Everyone is doing great. It was such a blessing to see our kids in church clapping and raising their hands, in participation, during the worship. No one told them to participate. They saw everyone else doing it and felt comfortable enough to want to join in. That makes all of our struggles worth it. To know that these kids are going to be raised in a christian home with christian parents who have all christian friends and family, who attend a church that isn't afraid to worship God and reach out to change the community...it's such a blessing. I'm still in awe of the way God pulled this whole thing together. He took a couple with no desire to enlarge their family, without the resources to make it happen, without the space in their home to house 5 extra children adequately, who had busy schedules and... bam! Our hearts were changed when we realized the enormous amount of orphaned children in our world, he provided over $40,000.00 to bring the children home, He worked through friends and family to enlarge our home and He was able to make all of these things happen in spite of our busy schedules. So if you're contemplating stepping out in faith on something God has laid on your heart, even though it seems crazy... go for it! You're going to be amazed at what He will do for you if you are only willing to step out and trust Him.

Love ya,

Jim and MJ

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Where's all that water coming from?

We went to my sister-in-law's house to let all of our kids play together. I was talking to my nephews and nieces and then I noticed something... Gabriel just sat down on one of the tri-cycles and there was water dripping from the seat???... not just a couple of drops, but a steady trickle. At first I thought the seat had gotten wet by rain or something and when he sat down on it, that it was squeezing all the water out of it... then it hit me (I was still a little slow... jet lag, you know.)... he's peeing in his pants on purpose! What!? I told him to stop and picked him up and took him to the bathroom for the interrogation. What are you thinking? I was so mad. Here I was wanting to show off my new family and one of them is peeing all over himself on purpose. He's 4 years old and doesn't have accidents. We didn't have any extra clothes or anything... is he just trying to embarrass me (it's always about me, of course.)? I was livid. What would possess someone to pee all in their pants with that many people around and the bathroom only a few steps away? I have to confess... I was beside myself. Then, after I cooled down and was able to get my head around the situation, I realized it was his turn (finally) for the tricycle and if he got up, someone else would jump on it (there were literally another 20-25 kids there) and he would loose his turn. Now, I felt bad. I had just gotten all over my son and I didn't know the whole story. I just took it as something against me... embarrassing, inconvenient, un-necassary. I've never told anyone this, so keep it a secret... sometimes as a parent I over-react. Shocking, I know. I know you never do that, right? (note to self: try to get all the information before you react) You'd think that I'd have this parenting thing down by now. We've been doing it for almost 19 years now but I guess there's always areas we can improve in. It's just hard as an adoptive parent starting with kids who already have personalities and a history. You definitely have to take a step back and try to look at things from their perspective, in light of where they've come from and what they've experienced in their lives. Gabriel never had a tricycle. He was having so much fun that he didn't want to take a chance on losing his turn. Sorry Lord, for getting so upset. Help me to be more patient.

Sorry about not blogging more this week. It was very busy for us trying to get back into the swing of work and everything else involved with comng home. The kids are doing great. There haven't been any problems to speak of. The transition has been great. We're just trying to get into the groove of how to get things done when there are this many kids around. If anyone has any suggestions, please let us know. You know, I was having such a good time writing the blog today, I decided to just sit here and pee in my pants so I wouldn't have to stop writing... so I better go.

Love ya,

Jim and MJ