Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Cletus Hogg signs our t shirts

Cletus signs our t shirts
Originally uploaded by SkipGienapp.
Truly, a highlight of our vacation.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

How I became a Father- Conclusion

How I became a Father
part V
So there we were, Laurie and I, in June of 2005 with two little boys on the way and the entire contents of our house packed into one room. (Note: my wife accurately corrects me that it was the NURSERY that we had packed everything into, so that we could still walk through our sitting room to the kitchen. Okay fine.)
So we got back from our second visit with our soon-to-be sons and started moving everything OUT of the nursery and INTO the Dining Room. We had a bit of a storage issue because we lived in St. Elmo in a house that was built in the 40's when they didn't build closets in rooms- they had wardrobes. We were also faced with the issue of where each boy would sleep... we had a crib for Nick but Damian was going to have to make due in the Pack-n-Play. The only reason Laurie was able to tolerate this was because it was only going to be for 10 days. We were to close on the new house and move in the weekend of July 1st. The boys would each have their own rooms and a playground out back.

June 16th, 2005- I think it was a Thursday, we drove to Knoxville TN to the Bethany office for the 3rd time in two weeks. This time we were coming back with our sons. I don't know what I expected exactly, but I can tell you when you get into that room, you really don't think about it that way. In addition to our joy and excitement about bringing the boys home, we were also face-to-face with Amanda who was saying goodbye. It was apparent to us from the beginning that both Amanda and David had chosen adoption, and then us in particular, out of real love and concern for Damien and Nick. It was clear they had thought this all the way through, and knew that they were giving the boys up for their own best interests- but that isn't going to make it any easier. I don't remember exactly everything that was said, but I do remember Amanda saying "Please take care of them" and then making a quick exit from the emotionally charged room. I remember everybody, including the Bethany person, being in tears. I remember signing yet another stack of papers, and the next thing I remember is strapping them into the car seats for the ride home.
Adopting two boys would be akin to having twins naturally. You have to buy two of everything, but in this case Damien was two years older than Nick. However, when we first got the call about meeting Damien and Nick three weeks ago, my wife had quickly sized up the situation and made a list of the additional toddler-friendly accessories we would be needing. So we had two car seats. I had no idea so much equipment was needed for kids. My wife, however, who a child-development background and is VERY organized, had thought of everything. We got home.
The next week, Laurie's parents came down from Wisconsin to help us move. For the last two days in our St. Elmo house Laurie and I slept on an air mattress while her parents had our room. Her parents watched the boys while we closed on both houses. Then on July 2nd we watched Two Men and a Truck try to move the equivalent of what should have been Six Men and Three Trucks worth of stuff 17 miles up the highway to Ooltewah.

And so our new life began. This is the end of this part of our story, the first part of the rest of our story is still being written. 16 months later, Laurie and still marvel at how we went from "zero to 60" in about two weeks, after a 4 year wait. God absolutely had this planned out. We questioned him at times but as we look back at it, it's clear why God chose this time, and these two boys for our life. I can't imagine it any other way. We continue to have regular communication with both Amanda and David, including follow-up visits. Amanda has been out to our house, seen the boy's rooms and their playground. I think it's gone a long way to reassuring her even more that the boys have a happy life, that she really did what was best for them. our story will continue...

How I became a Father, part IV

How I became a father
part IV
We got our Bethany paperwork in the Fall of 2004. We finished our Bethany paperwork, and the home study, in Feb of 2005. We settled in for what we were told would be anywhere from 6 months to a year or even two year wait. We were at peace this, satisfied we had taken the necessary steps and leaving it in God's hands at this point. We started thinking about what else we needed to do. I had bought my house in St. Elmo in '91, and liked the neighbors, but Laurie and I agreed it wasn't going to be big enough for a family with kids. We decided to start looking for a new place, and put 1501 W. 44th St. up for sale. (That's actually a whole saga in itself, in some other forum...) That was in April.
By early May, we had a contract on our house, and after Laurie had dragged me through 40 or 50 houses in various developments, we had settled on our new place in Ooltewah, TN. That was early May. We set a closing date for both houses of June 30th. We started packing. Packing under any circumstances is no fun, and I'd accumulated 15 years of bachelor crap, and Laurie had brought stuff from WI that we had never unpacked, it was all crammed into the attic. We started stacking up all the boxes in the Dining room. In addition, we had converted our "spare room" into a nursery, complete with crib, changing table, dresser, etc. It had been therapeutic for both of us during this whole time to be "working" towards adopting our first child, and helped us anticipate that big day. We took the nursery apart as well, disassembling the furniture, stacking everything in the dining room, making a yard sale pile. That was Mid May.
In LATE May we got a call from Bethany. Would we be interested in meeting a young family with TWO boys? 3 years old and 8 mos. This scenario had not even dare entered our minds. We had said we'd be open to an older child, but I think both of us deep down hoped for an infant, as I suppose may be a common emotional need amongst parents who have found out they probably won't ever have a baby naturally. But when we got the call...("Two brothers.... and the birth mother wants to move fairly quickly") honestly, all other preconceptions we may have had were lost. We said Yes instantly. However else I had pictured adoption might be, or might play out, was forgotten. A week later we drove to the Bethany office in Knoxville. We met the mother, father, and both boys all at once, in a conference room in the office. We sat around on the floor playing with them. We spent about an hour, mostly playing with the boys, sharing nervous laughter with Amanda and David as all of us tried to get used to this situation, and figure out how to behave. At the end of the first visit, Laurie and I both felt a chord had been struck, perhaps reassuring both to us and to them that this could work, that the boys could be happy and there might be a future for a relationship with them (Amanda and David) long term.
It's kind of weird to think about a birth Mom and Dad looking through a book of profiles, much the same way a detective would scan a book of mug shots- but isn't amazing that both Amanda and David had decided they wanted to meet us based on this- they thought that Laurie and I resembled how they might look at our age (they are both about 10 years younger). With this thin thread of commonality we soon all found that it was pretty easy to talk when it came to the boys, and both of them spoke of the boys with obvious love and interest for them. They were trying to give us all the information they had that they thought we could use: "Damian loves to take things apart" "Damian has started potty training already" and "If they ever act stubborn, sorry, they get that from me". The whole thing was slightly surreal.
We agreed to meet again 4 days later, a Monday, to make sure that the rapport that had been struck was not a fluke. It wasn't. The second meeting was much easier, and it was more like seeing cousins whose name you knew but hadn't seen in a very, very long time. Does that make sense? You know that you are family now of sorts, but your behavior is still somewhat guarded. In any case, more "tips" were given to us by Amanda and David, and pretty much Laurie and I were 110% certain that this was really going to happen, that the wait was over and we were going to not get not just one child, but TWO! We agreed that Thursday, we would meet for the third time, and bring the boys home. When we got home Monday afternoon we looke at the room that had been the nursery. Empty. Then we looked at the crib and the nursery furniture stacked up in the living room, ready to move. The boys were coming home on the 16th of June. We were closing on our new house on June 30th, moving to the new house July 1.

We reassembled the nursery.

To be continued...

How I became a Father continued

How I became a Father
Part III
By the time we "got over ourselves" and went to Bethany Christian Services, we were sure this was the way God wanted us to go, since he had more or less seemed to close the other doors. This didn't mean we were resentful of the prospect of adoption, rather, somewhere along the way our hearts were changed and we longed to open our home to a child that needed a home. It took us nearly 4 months to gather all the documentation, fill out all the forms, complete the self study, have the home study done, etc etc. Those of you have adopted are well acquainted with all the enormity of it all. We finally completed our home study and were approved in Feburary of 2005. When we filled out "Open to" form, my wife checked everything. To some extent, we may have felt that by expanding the breadth of the various needs that we would consider looking at, we might proportionally shorten our wait time. Keep in mind, we had already been "waiting" for 3 years or so. Now that we FINALLY were on track with Bethany, they told us our wait could be 6 months all the way up to ANOTHER TWO YEARS! The difference however, with this prospect was that Laurie and I both seemed to be at peace with it. We knew God had brought us to this place, and we had started to actually trust Him about the whole matter.
Nevertheless, we still signed up for many of the so-called special needs, including-
African-American or "mixed race"
Known maternal medical history
known maternal drug use,
etc, etc.

oh, and siblings. They're special needs too....

How I became a Father

How I became a Father
by Skip Gienapp

Part I. Infertility.

Part II.

I'm the oldest of 8 kids in my family, the last 4 of which were adopted. I never actually lived with my younger adopted siblings, ( I was already at Covenant) yet it is still a large part of our family culture. Our church in Chattanooga, New City Fellowship, has a large adoption culture as well. I guess we felt that this helped "qualify" us for adoption somehow. It seemed like a low-risk proposition, compared to say, IVF. In any case somewhere along the way we "decided" that adoption was the way to go. We were tentative at first, consulting a lawyer, creating our first profile, quietly easing into the adoption market. We really had no idea what was going to happen, but we had heard that a private adoption was cheaper than going through an agency, because you were working directly with a lawyer. That sounded good to us, we didn't want to get tangled up with any "agency". But weeks stretched to months and then to over two years, with nothing happening. My wife doesn't mind waiting a little bit if she feels "progress" is being made. But waiting for a lawyer to call you, is a little like waiting for a fish to swim by and snag his tail on your empty hook. I think our profile was shown maybe once in two and half years- and my wife, when she realized this saw her hopes and dreams crushed again. We felt we had wasted almost 3 years waiting for a baby to fall into our laps. In the fall of 2004 we finally approached Bethany Christian Services.

To be continued...

Monday, October 09, 2006

Hand History

Originally uploaded by SkipGienapp.
Hand number: #245
Damien is the button.
Damien posts small blind of 200.
Daddy posts big blind of 400.
Damien calls big blind (200)
Daddy raises pre-flop to $1000.
Damien calls.
$2800 in pot.
Flop comes Ad, 7s, 2d.
Daddy checks.
Turn comes Js.
Daddy bets $10,000.
Damien calls.
River comes 3d.
Daddy checks.
Damien bets $10,000 and is all-in.
Daddy calls, even though he knows he's beat.
Daddy shows a pair of kings.
Damien shows three-of-a-kind, Aces.
Damien wins a jillion dollars.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Resist him if you can...

After 3
Originally uploaded by SnLGienapp.
And so we cross another milestone in life's journey. Grown-up haircut. Despite my earlier desire to vicariously prolong my rebellious teenage years, my college experimental days, and my post-college rock band decadence, through my 2 yr old son, I must admit, this looks much better. Looks like a slightly different (older) boy.

Squishy gets a haircut

Before 1
Originally uploaded by SnLGienapp.
Well, one too many people looked at my son Nicholas' picture and asked if he was a girl. I started pushing Laurie to cut his hair. To be fair, I was all in favor of both the boys having long hair, because I've always had that in my head that it was "cool" and "rock and roll", and my parents never let ME wear my hear long, no matter WHAT every other kid in the 70's was doing. Hey, if they jumped off a bridge, was I going to follow in after them?

It was sort of in reaction to that, that I wanted the boys to live out my rock and roll dreams. But clearly, we had reached a stopping point. On a regular basis, we'd be combing out broccoli or whatever else he had for supper that evening, mashed potato's, creamed corn, etc.
Nick likes to wave his fork around his head with one hand, while eating with the other hand. This is just one of the reasons why his nickname is "Squishy".

Time to lose the baby curls. He'll be 2 next month...

Friday, June 23, 2006

Backstage at Riverbend

Boys & Balloons
Originally uploaded by SnLGienapp.
The boys were way more interested in the balloons then they were in the Allman Brothers or the Derek Trucks Band. They had a blast, secure within the confines of the fenced off stage area.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The family that camps together...

Boys By Fire
Originally uploaded by SnLGienapp.
...smells together. Lovely sentiment, I know. You just don't realize how much you smell like wood smoke until you're done camping, or in a sterile enviroment such as an emergency room. As it happened, we were standing in the Crossville, TN Emergency room, waiting for my youngest son's (bloodwork, EKG, x-ray, gamma-ray, urine sample, aptitude test, psychological tests) results back when Laurie says to me, "Gee-Whiz, we smell like campfire". Obviously I use prosaic license, Laurie would never ever say Gee Whiz, but you get the idea. One of the reasons that we smelled like campfire was because we had just awaken from two nights of camping, when our 18 month old gently alerted us to the fact that he didn't feel terribly well, and could we go home now please. Thus at 7 am last Saturday we found ourselves in a strange ER. The fact that it felt like a strange ER to us was because it was in fact we were not in the town we live in normally, and because we've become fairly well acquainted with our "regular" ER. In fact, that 's what we call it.... "Hey Laur, do you want to go to the regular ER or do you want to try to find a new one this time?".
We hadn't PLANNED on going to a strange ER and ending our camping trip a day early, but (check it and see )Nick caught a fever of a 103, thus fulfilling the "Hot-Blooded" Foreigner fantasy that we all have from time to time. Nick spent most of very early Saturday AM keeping Mommy and I posted on his condition, which to hear him tell it was intolerable. These health updates came every 15 minutes, in the form of crying, and when that didn't work he would throw his elephant at our heads, and when that didn't work he would just vomit.
So at 7am, when the night was officially over, we woke up big brother who had slept like a log the entire night, (grrrrrrrrr) and drove to the ER.

My wife and I came together with a common love of camping and fishing, and it's something we always enjoyed doing together. We hope to instill the same love of the outdoors in our sons, who other than going to the ER totally enjoyed camping, with all the accompanying snack foods.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

nope.. can't improve on this..

D. & Daddy Fishing
Originally uploaded by SnLGienapp.
Those of you who really know me know that I'm not one for rank sentamentalism, but there is something about this picture that is dreamlike and chock full of emotion for me. I suppose most Dad's have this feeling at this moment, and I'm sure that my Dad did as well, even if we never caught any fish that day. This picture speaks volumes to me, and reminds me that when things in my life seem out of control, I've still been very blessed...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Monday, May 01, 2006

D's First Fish 3

D's First Fish 3
Originally uploaded by SnLGienapp.
Yes, it was indeed a tiny fish. But then again, it was HUGE.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

D. & Daddy Working 2

D. & Daddy Working 2
Originally uploaded by SnLGienapp.
Almost springtime. Weather getting warmer, and creating an irritating urge to feel like I'm accomplishing something. Once I get started, I'm okay with moving along with it. Invariably, I'm fine getting to almost 90% completion, whereupon I take a break, then somehow get distracted, promising myself I'll just "finish that up in the morning", etc.
HOWEVER. Laurie actually funded this home improvement project, thus I had her unwavering motivation working for me.
Also, everything is much more fun when you have a 3 year old tagging along behind you. He's so interested in everything...

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Coffee and Deer

Coffee and Deer
Originally uploaded by SnLGienapp.
Looking forward to Spring already.. it's Feburary, but the weather has been unseasonably warm... at least until today. Couple of more weeks and it'll be March.. and then it WILL be spring... time to start thinking about what we need to do to the house. Probably some kind of landscaping this year....