Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Homosexuality and Religion: A Sequel to "For the Bible Tells Me So"

Mark and I recently had the opportunity to get to know and spend a wonderful week on our Croatian cruise with an amazing human being, Daniel Karslake, an independent filmmaker and producer. We're pictured above with Daniel (green shorts) and another new friend, John.

Dan is best known for directing and producing the award-winning documentary, “For The Bible Tells Me So.” Many of my FB friends and their friends will have seen this movie, which sensitively and poignantly examines the nexus between homosexuality and conservative Christianity. It had a profound impact on me as I was coming out, and I'm sure many who read this blog have seen it. If you haven’t seen it or haven’t seen it recently, it’s on Netflix and is well worth the time and effort to watch.

Margi and John Dehlin

Dan is now working on a follow-up documentary to be entitled, “For We Know Not What We Do.”  Of special interest to many who read this, the film will feature, among others, the stories of John Dehlin and Kate Kelly, two Mormon activists who were recently excommunicated for their public support of marriage and gender equality.

Kate Kelly

Another story will be the poignant account of the evangelical parents of a teen who came out at age 12 and was driven to a deadly addiction after being enrolled for six years in Christian reparative therapy programs…heartbreaking.


The subject matter of this film is very close to my heart and, I’m sure, to many who read this post. Dan’s work is funded by donations, and I would encourage any who read this to consider contributing to the production of this film. Donations can be made online at FORWEKNOW.ORG, and you can also help by liking the film's FB page and sharing this with as many people as possible.

Donations of any size are welcome, and the name of anyone who is able to make a fully tax-deductible donation of $1,000 will be listed in the end credits of the film. Dan has the material and the vision to proceed with production of the film, but he needs our help to translate this vision into reality. (Check out what he’s done so far on the film’s FB page.)

Dan and me on our cruise with two other amazing men, Jeffrey and Leif

“For the Bible Tells Me So “ has made a huge impact in the lives of thousands of people around the world, as has another film Dan produced and directed, “Every Three Seconds” (also on Netflix). Having seen Dan’s work and having spent a week with him, I believe that “For We Know Not What We Do” will similarly touch the hearts and change the lives of countless individuals.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Adopting Three Russian Babies

Within the next few days, our three adopted children will be celebrating their birthdays. Annie turns 9 tomorrow, and Aaron and Esther are turning 13 on Sunday. All three were adopted in the Vladivostok, Russia region.

Aaron and Esther

Aaron and Esther (born Dmitry and Yulia) were born 12 days apart in October 2002 in Nakhodka, Russia - a sea port that is a 2-3 hour drive from Vladivostok. Both of their birth mothers relinquished their parental rights within hours of the babies being born, and they were both moved directly from the hospital to the same orphanage in Nakhodka. Unfortunately, they had very little human interaction as infants. The first video we saw of Esther showed her drinking from a bottle that was propped up to her mouth with a pillow.

Children's Hospital #2 in Nakhodka. It was a rather dreary sight the first time we visited in early April 2003 - shortly after the outbreak of the Iraq War and during the SARS scare.

The story of why we decided to adopt and how we went about it is one for another time. Needless to say, however, it was an incredible experience in so many ways. I will never forget the first time we had the opportunity in the orphanage to feed the children their bottles. Aaron's eyes literally rolled back in his head, he was so hungry.

Me holding Esther in the orphanage

We had to make two trips to Russia that spring of 2003. The second one occurred in May, when we went back for the formal adoption hearing and processed the paperwork to obtain their US visas. The day of the court hearing was memorable. It was in the morning, then we drove to Nakhodka to pick up the babies, then drove back to Vladivostok. I will never forget sitting in the back seat of our Russian facilitator's car on the way back, holding Aaron. He cried the entire trip.

The day we took the "twins" out of the orphanage following our court hearing.

Playing with Aaron in our hotel while we waited for their visas from the US Embassy in Moscow. Below are their passport photos.


In 2007, we went back to Vladivostok to adopt another Russian baby, a little girl named Yelena, whom we named Annie.

Annie's Orphanage outside Vladivostok

In conjunction with Annie's adoption, I found a birth family researcher, Vladimir, who was able to find members of Aaron and Esther's birth families in Nakhoda. When we made our fourth trip to Russia in September 2007 to complete Annie's adoption, we drove there to meet some of these family members. Below is a picture of me and a cousin of Esther's birth mother, Tatyana. Though Tatyana was in Nakhodka, she didn't want to meet with us. She subsequently died of tuberculosis.

Tatyana, Esther's birth mother

The highlight of our visit to Nakhodka was meeting Aaron's birth mother, Yulia, and her mother, Nadeshda. We were invited to dinner at a home owned by one of Nadeshda's friends, where we were treated to a traditional Russian dinner featuring homemade pelmeni (Siberian dumplings) and, of course, vodka. It got a bit tricky when we explained we didn't drink. Our host was initially offended, but mollified after Vladimir explained the situation to her.

Nadeshda looking at photos of Aaron.

A not very flattering picture of Aaron's birth mother, far left, her mother Nadeshda and me.

Both adoption experiences were amazing and wonderful and challenging. Raising the three children was challenging. We weren't prepared for the attachment issues all of them had to varying degrees. The twins were particularly difficult in the first several years. There were times when I wondered whether we had made a serious mistake in adopting them and, frankly, whether I would ever be able to truly love them.

A lot of water has passed under the bridges we crossed in 2003 and again in 2007. Now, I can truly say that I love them as much as I do any of my biological children, and I cannot imagine life without them. They're pretty amazing.

Esther, Aaron and Annie - Maui, June 2015

Levi, our biological surprise born in between the two adoptions

A happy family. The kids love Mark, and he loves them.
He has been and is such a blessing in their lives.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Unforgettable: Part II

This post continues where I left off yesterday, posting some of our favorite pictures from our trip, including some that I haven't posted before. I obviously don't blog about everything we have experienced on this trip; we've had wonderful, amazing experiences that I haven't written about. It's been the trip of a lifetime.


Busts of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and his lover Antinous at the British Museum. 


Our favorite coffee house (as opposed to coffee shop.)

I love this picture, even though it's of a laundromat window. But notice the reflection of the two handsome blokes.

We have a very special memory associated with this postcard that involves a coffee shop.

I. Love. Amsterdam.


I loved driving this car.


This photograph and the following two are among my most favorite pictures from the entire trip, and they were taken within a few minutes of each other.

We are now in Amsterdam again, which was the end point of the cruise. We had a wonderful day yesterday and are looking forward to spending today in Amsterdam as well. We fly home tomorrow.