Kelly Raudenbush

{Hitting Repeat} We’re Adopting

This week alone, I connected with two families actively fundraising for their first adoptions and two families who just announced they are adopting for the first time and adopting again. I have the joy of hearing a lot of “We’re Adopting!” and “We’re adopting again!” announcements. And, each one gets me pretty excited. ONE MORE child with a forever family; ONE LESS orphan in the world. It’s a pretty beautiful thing, folks.

Some of you may not hear that announcement as often and may not always know how to respond when you do. I don’t claim to be an expert—I’m an adoptive aunt to one and we’ve embarked on this adventure only once ourselves. Though my experience is limited, I think some principles are pretty universal.

So, next time you hear someone say, “We’re going to adopt” . . .

  • Please demonstrate excitement – It’s a good thing! It’s not a consolation prize that a couple is settling for because they “cannot have children of their own.” If the couple has experienced infertility, they have made the decision now to invest themselves in becoming a family through adoption. Do some cartwheels and jump up and down.
  • Please don’t offer the infamous cliché – “Oh, now I’m sure you will get pregnant!” or “Oh good! Seems like as soon as someone decides to adopt, they get pregnant.” Not true and a downright not good thing to say. Just don’t. Please.
  • Please don’t freak them out – Just like how you don’t tell a newly pregnant woman about the woman you know who just miscarried or the tragic story of a baby lost at birth, please don’t hear the word “adoption” and proceed to share some stories about a tragic story you heard on the news or someone you know who waited forever or a birthmother who changed her mind after a month or whatever. Couples starting out in the adventure of adoption likely already have a bit of fear in them—as all new parents do—and you don’t need to grow that fear.
  • Please respect their child’s home country – While we have a passion for China, I recognize that not all adoptive families may have a particular passion for their child’s home country if they are adopting internationally. But, even if they don’t, please do not insult the people of that country or the child’s birth family for the choice they made. Feel free to ask questions if you do not understand the culture and why there are orphans there available for adoption. But, in so doing, do not make judgmental or negative remarks about the people particularly in front of biological and/or adopted children. And, part of respecting their child’s home country includes not critiquing their choice of programs (i.e., “Why wouldn’t you just adopt from here?” or something along those lines). Simply encourage.
  • Please be intentional with your verbiage – While not all adoptive parents are sensitive about what words people use, it’s always better to be cautious and respectful with your words. Their child is their child, not like their own child. Use the terms birth mother and birth father, not real mother and father. The adoptive family is very much the child’s real family.
  • Please don’t make saints of the adoptive family – There are many more families now making the choice to adopt to grow their families for reasons other than infertility. Amen! But, don’t praise the family by telling them how lucky the child is to have them or how wonderful they are to rescue this child. It can be pretty uncomfortable. And, that type of praise actually can be harmful if said in the presence of their children—biological and/or adopted children. Instead, simply encourage them for following God’s call for their family. That’s enough.
  • Celebrate! – The typical baby shower typically won’t work to celebrate the arrival or pending arrival of an adopted baby, toddler, or older child. Think creatively! Consider getting girlfriends together for a Nesting Party during which you can help your friend paint the child’s room or even simply clean her house. If the family doesn’t know the age or gender of the child who will be coming home, consider having a book party simply to grow their children’s library. Gifts for new parents can be super helpful and needed. But, perhaps more than the gifts, simply the attention given to the family (okay, fine, mother) and the message sent that friends and family are rallying around this child can mean a whole lot more than gifts and last a whole lot longer.
  • Assure them you will care for them after the fact – In our circles—and I hope in most—when a family brings home a newborn, their church and/or neighbors help through providing meals, babysitting for other children, grocery runs, etc. This is not simply because a woman is recovering from childbirth; it’s because a family has just completely changed their dynamics, and it takes a while to get your bearings. Adopting a child is no different. In fact, having brought home biological newborns and one toddler via adoption, I think I needed care more after our adoption than after recovering from labor and delivery. Please don’t equate labor with need for care. Adoptive moms need that care too.

Anything you’d add to that list?

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Kelly Raudenbush

Forever changed by our experience of being adopted and adopting, Kelly is a stay-at-home mom/manager to 4 children and a professional juggler, juggling her calling as wife and mother with her secondary callings (editing and serving adoptive families through The Sparrow Fund). You can learn more about their adoption story, how they’ve been changed, and what life for them looks like on their personal blogMy Overthinking.

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{Hitting Repeat} Grafted In

I’ve been doing some research about grafting lately. And, believe me, research is needed because gardening is not my thing. Maybe it will be my thing when my kids are a bit older. But, as I look out my back windows and see my garden overtaken by grass and weeds, I have to remind myself that I’m growing kids not prize-winning tomatoes.

So, here’s what I’ve learned so far:

Grafting by a master gardener takes two separate plants and binds them into one so that they now grow together as one plant, a more beautiful plant at that. You could graft two apple trees to make one tree that produces two different kinds of apples. Or, you could graft rose bushes to produce a plant with many varied colored flowers. Rather than create a genetically new plant variety through grafting, the plant actually keeps the two separate genetic codes but grows together as one, maintaining both the two original identities as well as creating a new identity as one.

Besides producing an interesting or more beautiful plant, grafting is also sometimes necessary. For example, if a plant does not have a good root system, it will die. Grafting it into a larger, more established tree which will become its root system will save the plant. Furthermore, grafting enables a plant which is no longer fruitful but has deep roots to become fruitful and useful again.

In order for grafting to be successful, 4 conditions must be met:

  • The two plants must be compatible to begin with. And, sometimes the only way of knowing this is through research and trial by a master gardener.
  • Each plant must be at the proper physiological stage. The plant grafted in should have buds that are present but dormant. The plant receiving the graft must be healthy and have strong roots—often determined by the quality of the soil surrounding the plant since you can’t actually see the roots. The best time of year to graft plants is late winter, on the cusp of spring when new growth is close. If the plant to be grafted in has a disease, the receiving plant will be affected and the graft a fragile one. But, if the receiving plant is healthy and the graft is done well, success can still be experienced.
  • The cambial layers of both plants must meet; they cannot simply have their bark touching. They cannot be attached on the surface; rather the plants have to be attached on a deeper level, under the bark, a process that is painful for both plants but absolutely necessary. Without the peeling back of the top layer and a connection at the core, the graft simply won’t take.
  • The graft union must be kept moist and warm until the wound has healed. It must be watered, nurtured, cared for carefully and regularly until the wound has healed. If you neglect the graft, the wound may not heal. And, even if the plants are able to grow, the growth will be poor and the scars on the plants apparent.

Now, read this:

But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree—some of the people of Israel—have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree.” (Romans 11:17, New Living Translation)

Do you get that? Do I really get that? As a Gentile believer in Christ, I have been grafted into God’s family, a full member of God’s family, receiving the blessing promised to His chosen people. I grow there; I bear fruit there; and I am pruned there as all branches should be—not as a punishment but as a way to keep me fruitful and productive.

Now read this:

“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.” (Ephesians 1:5-6, New Living Translation)

Do you see the word synonymous with being grafted in—adopted.

Now, read again about the gardener’s rules of grafting and consider not only our spiritual adoption but our adoptions as lived out in our families on earth.

God’s word is so rich, so absolutely applicable to our lives.

We are grafted in. We are grafted into God’s family, an adoption process initiated by our Father and one that brings Him great pleasure. He has poured out His glorious grace on us and made us—even in our dead state—His own, a coheir with His son.

My earthly family is also grafted. We believed God was calling this rooted family to become fruitful again. We researched and prepared and then had to simply take the leap of faith. We peeled back our layers as our daughter was forced to peel back her own. No doubt, this was not comfortable for either of us. But, comfort without roots is short lived. And, comfort without fruit is purposeless. We’re still quite aware of this new graft and daily caring for the wound, nurturing both the branches (new and old) and the roots of all of them and keeping the wound moist and warm in hopes that it will heal in time and produce a fantastic tree, one with two distinct identities—Chinese and American—but one root system, one life together.

Is this easy? No. It can be scary and overwhelming. But, not only is the end worth it all, but the process of getting there is worth it as well.

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Kelly Raudenbush

Forever changed by our experience of being adopted and adopting, Kelly is a stay-at-home mom/manager to 4 children and a professional juggler, juggling her calling as wife and mother with her secondary callings (editing and serving adoptive families through The Sparrow Fund). You can learn more about their adoption story, how they’ve been changed, and what life for them looks like on their personal blogMy Overthinking (where she’s going to have some super sweet giveaways this month, by the way).

Fill in the Blank

“Go around and introduce your child and then say I love him or her because ____________.”

That was the ice breaker, and I had about 30 seconds until I was up.

This is David, and I love him because he’s really smart.

This is Emily, and I love her because she’s so kind and caring.

I’m up. And, I played along.

This is Drew, and I love him because he’s so silly and funny. And, this is Ashlyn, and I love her because she’s so helpful all the time. And, this is Lydia, and I love her because she is mine.

Isn’t that how I should have answered it for all of them?

I recognize my children need to be affirmed—probably because I recognize my own need to be affirmed. Words of affirmation are my love language.

But, what we were asked to do by filling in the blank had a fundamental flaw.

I don’t love Drew because he’s silly and funny. I don’t love Ashlyn because she’s helpful. I don’t love Evan because he’s sensitive and gentle. I don’t love Lydia because of how she lights up a room. I don’t.

red letter ink ephesiansI love them because they’re mine, and I’m called to love them. God has given them to me; and, in so doing, He has given me the very significant calling to love them. Sometimes my calling as a mother is easy, and love overflows. Other times aren’t as easy and I feel the internal resistance to continually pour myself out. Regardless, I’m still called to love—not because he’s gentle, not because she’s smart, not because he’s funny, not because she’s creative. It is really more about me than about them. I love; they are simply the receivers of that love.

If God humored us with joining our ice breaker, how would He fill in the blank?

This is Kelly, and I love her because she is mine.

If a million words of affirmation were spoken over me, 999,997 would be unneeded. She is mine. They’re the only 3 words I really need.

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. Titus 3:4-5a

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Kelly Raudenbush

Forever changed by our experience of being adopted and adopting, Kelly is a stay-at-home mom/manager to 4 children and a professional juggler, juggling her calling as wife and mother with her secondary callings (editing and serving adoptive families through The Sparrow Fund). You can learn more about their adoption story, how they’ve been changed, and what life for them looks like on their personal blogMy Overthinking (where she’s going to have some super sweet giveaways this month, by the way).

Building the Nest

I’m such a numbers girl. Give me percentages, and I start tracking. When I read these numbers a few weeks ago, they stuck with me. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services reported that 30% of all Americans reported having seriously considered adopting at some point in their lives. Yet, only 2% actually adopt. That means that of those who say they’ve seriously considered adopting, 14 out of 15 don’t ever do it.

Why not? It’s daunting—the financial cost, the impact this child will have on your family, the overwhelming number of unknowns. It’s no easy thing. We get that.

As we walked that road ourselves and alongside other families, we saw a need. That 2% of families who were taking that leap of faith to bring a child into their family through adoption—they needed more support. So, we took the leap of faith ourselves to do whatever we could to do just that.

Build the Nest for The Sparrow FundTwo years ago, we started The Sparrow Fund to give grants to families specifically for the purpose of family support through programs around the country that provide preadoption support and counsel, on-call support for families while they travel across the world to meet their children and bring them home, and support once they are home to help both the parents, new son or daughter, and family as a whole become a family.

Recognizing more need, we added programs to encourage and support families from those waiting to meet their children to those who have been home for years. We’ve helped families learn about the unique needs of children who have been adopted in the classroom and how to use correction as a vehicle of connection with their children in a way that is sensitive to them and their histories. And, this past February, we put on a weekend retreat for couples to be reminded of their calling as parents and refreshed to continue serving their children. When registration opened nearly 5 months before the event, it sold out in 16 hours. The need is undeniable.

We’re not interested in growing the number of families adopting; that’s not our focus. Rather, our focus is on pouring into that 2% who are adopting; we want to love and serve them and do whatever we can to make the daunting a little less daunting. And, maybe, just maybe, as the daunting becomes less daunting and the support available becomes more readily available, we’ll see more of those families who have seriously considered adopting say, “maybe we can do this afterall.”

Today starts an important month around here. A whole bunch of folks are coming alongside of us, saying, “Yes, we support adoptive families and the work of The Sparrow Fund to pour into them. And, we want to help.” This May, in our third annual fundraiser, about 50 businesses have made a commitment to help us build the nest so that we can help others as they build their nests. In addition to event sponsors who have donated set amounts to get that nest going, these business partners have made the commitment to give 10% of their total sales throughout the month of May to The Sparrow Fund so that we can do what we do.

That’s where you come in. CLICK HERE to see them all on one page or check them out below. Start clicking, and start shopping. Shopping purposefully is pretty fun. Let’s work together to make that 10% something crazy big.

Clothing & Accessories

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Jewelry Design

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Art and Design

Home

Special Gifts & Treats

Books, Toys, & Musical Things

Photographers

 

Sponsors for Building the Nest

To get the nest started…

Sparrow Sponsors

Trades of Hope

Trades of Hope empowers women to create sustainable businesses worldwide. Their desire is for women worldwide to realize their potential as world changers, business owners, dream creators, and heroes of their own stories. A perfect supporter to build the nest for The Sparrow Fund.

Norman L. Graham, Inc.

Norman L. Graham, Inc. is a premier builder of custom homes and additions in South Central Pennsylvania. From design to construction, every Norman L. Graham project is built with care and careful attention to detail. What better partner to build the nest than a company who is all about nest building.

Other Sponsors

If you would like your store or business to be a part of this May fundraising event, please contact Kelly at The Sparrow Fund to be added to this post and future posts as part of this effort.

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Kelly Raudenbush

Forever changed by our experience of being adopted and adopting, Kelly is a stay-at-home mom/manager to 4 children and a professional juggler, juggling her calling as wife and mother with her secondary callings (editing and serving adoptive families through The Sparrow Fund). You can learn more about their adoption story, how they’ve been changed, and what life for them looks like on their personal blogMy Overthinking (where she’s going to have some super sweet giveaways this month, by the way).

…but we’re afraid

The words in my inbox were words I had read before.

we’ve been prayerfully considering adoption…but we are both still wrestling with a lot of fear and uncertainty….I know God will provide, but I really don’t know how to move beyond this place of fear.

The same words have been parts of other messages from other women. The same words had been written on my own heart years ago.

I remember when our family story began. Mark and I met at Young Life camp right before my senior year of college. Only 3 months later, after only phone calls and emails (which was nearly brand new), we started talking serious, and I knew where we were headed. After one of those late night phone calls with Mark, I called my mom, and I cried. I was scared out of my mind. I knew he was amazing and that God was leading and I was following — all good things. But, I was so uncomfortable and scared of the unknown and the commitment I was likely to be saying yes to soon. Fear and uncertainty filled me. My mom said something seemingly not all that brilliant; yet, 15 years later, here I am with her words still playing over in my head. They were words that quieted me and helped me move past my own self in spite of myself.

Kelly, I’d be worried if you weren’t scared.

 

Here’s the thing. Adoption is a big deal. And, wrestling with fear and uncertainty is right where you should be. It’s all part of the adoption journey. If we take that lightly and not wrestle with it, well, that’s when I’d be concerned.

It’s really not about having the best parenting skills or being able to stay at home or knowing all about attachment or all that we can wrongly claim as making as fully able and therefore ready. It’s about discerning if God has called you to it and if He has, if that timing is now. Even after we discerned that ourselves, I still battled fear, fear that literally took me prostrate to the ground at times. Some days while we waited, I wondered if we were making a mistake. I wondered if I forced something and if we were headed down the wrong path, if I’d be able to cut it, if I could really love a child who wasn’t “my own,” if I was motivated by the wrong reasons. But, God wouldn’t let us not do it. So, we pressed on. It wasn’t the easiest road–the wait, looking over files of very real children, traveling across the world, coming home with a toddler who was now our own, the grafting process. But, I know that right here is where God wants me to be, even when I’m overwhelmed by my inadequacy and wondering what He’s doing.

No one is “perfect” for this journey. But, He is and the journey itself is when He has called you to it.

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Kelly Raudenbush

Forever changed by our experience of being adopted and adopting, Kelly is a stay-at-home mom/manager to 4 children and a professional juggler, juggling her calling as wife and mother with her secondary callings (editing and serving adoptive families through The Sparrow Fund). You can learn more about their adoption story, how they’ve been changed, and what life for them looks like on their personal blog.

My Seedlings

Some of my favorite mom moments happen without me even being a part of the moment. You know, listening to the kids playing together nicely in another room (which always seems to happen when I need to be ushering them to bed), overhearing one of their conversations, watching as my husband makes them all laugh.

Yesterday was one of those moments for me.

Soaking in the last days of freedom this week, we spent the afternoon at a local park. Evan found some sort of seed that he got all excited about planting in the dirt where we were sitting under a big ole tree. All three of the big kids got right on into it with him, using sticks and little rocks to carve out a very shallow little hole in the dry dirt where they were convinced this little seed would thrive. They buried it under dusty dirt and used shovels to bring water up to get it off to a good start.

They hunted and found one or two more of the same seeds. More digging, more burying, more watering.
“They can be a family.” – Ashlyn
“Yeah, the big tree is the mama and all the little trees are the babies.” – Evan
I’m sitting there, just smiling to myself, looking all deep in thought in my reading.
Then, their hunt turned up some different kinds of seeds. Who know what they were from really. They may have been rocks. Whatever they were, they looked different.
Then, I heard:
“I know, let’s plant all different kinds of seeds. Then, they can be adopted!” – Evan
“Yeah!” – Ashlyn
Digging, burying, watering. Repeat. Until a handful were seemingly safe and sound in the dirt, and it was over.
Nothing extraordinary. Just my children playing. But, my smile to myself got a little bigger and my heart swelled a bit as I was reminded how comfortable they are with how our family has grown.
Our adopting our fourth child hasn’t been an issue for our biological children one bit. In their eyes, it’s just how their sister came home.

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Kelly Raudenbush

Forever changed by our experience of being adopted and adopting, Kelly is a stay-at-home mom/manager to 4 children and a professional juggler, juggling her calling as wife and mother with her secondary callings (professional editing, WAGI, and serving adoptive families through The Sparrow Fund). You can learn more about their adoption story, how they’ve been changed, and what life for them looks like on their personal blog. If you are expecting (waiting to bring your little one home via adoption, that is), click HERE and enter to win a little giveaway just for fun.

Overthinking fundraising

Fundraising.

Just the word can give me the chills. I picture overpriced wrapping paper and pizza kits, going door to door and begging family friends to help me go on my choir trip or get new softball uniforms.

Years later, I don’t really remember who bought the candy bars or candles or pizza kits I was selling though I remember where they got me.

But, raising funds—terms with a whole lot less chill factor, in my opinion—for an adoption is entirely different.

A private domestic adoption may cost around $20,000. An international adoption costs a whole lot more than that–$10,000-$25,000 more than that. I have a friend who spent $60,000 to bring their daughter home. There are simply not a lot of families who have that kind of money at their fingertips.

Enter…raising funds.

And, enter criticism.

If you can’t afford to adopt, you shouldn’t be doing it. You shouldn’t use a child to play on people’s sympathies to give you money. If you wouldn’t fundraise to buy a house or your car, you shouldn’t do it for an adoption either.

But, see, a child isn’t a house or a car. And, not having $20,000-$45,000 in a savings account doesn’t disqualify you as a good parent—thankfully. And, actually, I’d venture to say that most families raising funds for their adoptions are not standing on street corners with cans and a picture of a malnourished child wearing a tent sign saying, “Help bring my baby home.”

I give families raising funds for adoptions a lot of respect. Everywhere I go online, I’m finding families who have designed and are selling great t-shirts to raise funds. I’m finding moms who have learned a craft and are working hard when all is quiet in their homes at night to make them and list them online. I’m finding parents writing books, threading needlesmaking jewelry (and more and more jewelry), selling coffee, teaching a skill–in this case, Chinese!, becoming artists, selling items through The Sparrow Fund (there’s a program for fundraising families), gathering unwanted stuff to sell at massive yard sales, hosting giveaways for Kindle Fires, putting together big ole raffles, doing their best to somehow get closer to that money needed to grow their families through adoption.

And, I’m finding God providing.

These families aren’t playing on my sympathies and making me say, “Fine, already, take my money!” Instead, I’m saying, “I want to be a part of that family’s story. I want to play a part—albeit a small part—of God’s provision for that family.”

I read a post not long ago written by an adult adoptee criticizing adoption fundraising, criticizing adoption itself in a lot of ways. At one point, the author wrote specifically about fundraising with this:

Is it really so hard to see how that [fundraising] is using the child, your future child, for personal gain? Do what you have to do, but is doing it at the expense of your child’s privacy, and well-being, really how you want to begin your new family? What will it teach your child? Will it teach them that when you want something bad enough, it is acceptable to play on the compassion and sympathy of others to get what you want?

Is that really how parents want to begin their new families?

Yes.

What will it teach their children?

It will teach their children that they did all they could to bring them home. It will teach their children that their being a part of their families was not a mistake. Families will recall to their children the late nights, the thank-you notes, the clicking away on the computer. And, they will tell their children how God provided through people—people who shopped with purpose and people who gave with purpose.

Count me in.

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If you are a fundraising family, head over HERE to the original post on Kelly’s blog to link up your fundraising efforts. If you are looking for ideas or want to support other fundraising families, go there too and click around to see what these families are doing.

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Kelly Raudenbush

Forever changed by our experience of being adopted and adopting, Kelly is a stay-at-home mom/manager to 4 children and a professional juggler, juggling her calling as wife and mother with her secondary callings (professional editing, WAGI, and serving adoptive families through The Sparrow Fund). You can learn more about their adoption story, how they’ve been changed, and what life for them looks like on their personal blog.

And, if you have a few seconds to spare, help them get to the Together for Adoption national conference in September by voting for their video entry HERE. No sign ups or sign ins and takes 2 seconds to vote for Video 4. You can vote once a day until the contest ends Saturday at noon.

Building the Nest 2012

It’s been a year since The Sparrow Fund officially launched. A challenging year of figuring this non-profit thing out.

But, all the late nights, computer time, and paperwork get chalked up to “oh, it’s not that big of deal,” when we see pictures like this.

That’s Mazie. And, we got to play a small part of her coming on home to her family.

She’s one of 11 children whose families we helped through a grant in 2011.

11 children who were alone who are now sons and daughters.

That’s something to celebrate right there.

Her mom just emailed me with this–

We wouldn’t have adopted this sweet amazing beloved child without the medical review that Sparrow’s Fund assisted with. There were just too many unknowns in her medical reports for us to feel comfortable proceeding with her adoption without a professional interpreting them for us. The medical evaluation that Sparrow’s Fund paid for couldn’t answer all our questions, but it did help us understand the reports that we were given, consider things that we hadn’t even thought about before, and helped give us peace about proceeding with her adoption and the unknowns that remained. Thank you so very much Sparrow’s Fund for being the Lord’s hands here on Earth! Thank you for lifting the financial burden of the medical review and helping make the adoption of our Mazie Jade possible!

And, you know how we were able to be a part of this miracle? In large part because 33 businesses last May partnered with us, giving us 10% of their total sales in May.

It’s the end of April, 4 months into 2012, and we’ve had the joy of awarding 8 grants already.

As applications have come in, I confess that I got a bit concerned—Can we get all 33 businesses on board again this year? Will that 10% be enough? We’re going to need more.

Silly me.

There aren’t 33 businesses to Build the Nest this May.

There are only 58.

And, each one has said, “We want to do what we can to support adoptive families!” And, they have chosen to do that in a significant way this month, giving 10% (or in some cases more) of their total sales to The Sparrow Fund so that we can give grants to adoptive families so that they can get the help and support they need in every season of their adoption journey.

Check these places out—find some new fave shops. Schedule a portrait session. Buy your mom a gift. Or, buy yourself a gift, why don’t you. Share your favorite items on your online spaces, and get the word out that these places support adoption. And, thank them for stepping out to do that in such a significant way. It’s a pretty big deal. I’m a bit wowed by it all—and can’t wait to see how God multiplies that 10%, ‘cause I know He will.

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If you have a business and want to be a part of this May fundraising event, we’d love for you to join us. Email me. I’d be glad to add you to this post. That would pretty much rock.

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Kelly Raudenbush

Forever changed by our experience of being adopted and adopting, Kelly is a stay-at-home mom/manager to 4 children and a professional juggler, juggling her calling as wife and mother with a small online store (Jiayin Designs), editing, administrating this site, and serving adoptive families through The Sparrow Fund. You can learn more about their adoption story, how they’ve been changed, and what life for them looks like on their personal blog.

A Cord of Three Strands {Review and Giveaway}

I’m watching my daughter run around with her cousins, laughing so hard she’s throwing her head back.

She’s three. No cares in the world. No questions yet about her story. But, I tell her anyhow. I want her to know her story is much bigger than just us.

In A Cord of Three Strands, Sara Berry and Tricia Robbins do just that—remind us all that our stories are part of a much larger story. The true story of a prodigal child who becomes pregnant and makes the decision to place her child with another family. The true story of a faithful couple whose hearts and arms ache to be filled with a child. And, the true story of a young girl raised by parents who love her deeply, honor the mother who gave her life, and teach her that her story is part of a bigger story—ultimately, one laid out before time began.

Finished in only a few hours, somehow, I found myself able to identify in that short time with every woman in the story—the prodigal child, the parents who struggle to accept her failings, the counselor who mentors the young woman and pours into her, the couple who struggle through infertility together and ultimately adopt a baby girl, and even the girl herself who by grace is able to love and have relationships with both of her mothers.

I’m keeping this one in arm’s reach and looking forward to reading it and talking through it with my oldest daughter soon—the one who was not adopted. Written using quite easy language with not too many words on a page, it won’t be long and I know she’ll be able to handle it and the issues it introduces–peer pressure, discovering our true identity, dealing with our failure, forgiveness, living out grace to people God puts in our path, and the feelings of a birthmother, adoptive mother, and adoptee.

 

Take a sneak peek here

Want your own copy?

Before you buy it, you may want to try to win one for free here, ‘cause we’re giving one away (that’s always sorta fun). Or, better yet, buy a copy and still try to win so you and your daughter or friend have your own copies to read together.

Just leave a comment sharing why you want to read the book, how you’d use it, what you’d hope to get out of it, or something along those lines. Giveaway will close next Sunday, April 15th at midnight, and the winner will be announced the next day with Monday’s post.

 ________________________________________

Kelly Raudenbush

Forever changed by our experience of being adopted and adopting, Kelly is a stay-at-home mom/manager to 4 children and a professional juggler, juggling her calling as wife and mother with a small online store (Jiayin Designs), editing, administrating this site, and serving adoptive families through The Sparrow Fund. You can learn more about their adoption story, how they’ve been changed, and what life for them looks like on their personal blog where she’s currently offering a big ole Chinese themed giveaway to help fund her husband’s purposeful trip to China this May.

“We’re Adopting!”

This week alone, I connected with two families actively fundraising for their first adoptions and two families who just announced they are adopting for the first time and adopting again. I have the joy of hearing a lot of “We’re Adopting!” and “We’re adopting again!” announcements. And, each one gets me pretty excited. ONE MORE child with a forever family; ONE LESS orphan in the world. It’s a pretty beautiful thing, folks.

Some of you may not hear that announcement as often and may not always know how to respond when you do. I don’t claim to be an expert—I’m an adoptive aunt to one and we’ve embarked on this adventure only once ourselves. Though my experience is limited, I think some principles are pretty universal.

So, next time you hear someone say, “We’re going to adopt” . . .

  • Please demonstrate excitement – It’s a good thing! It’s not a consolation prize that a couple is settling for because they “cannot have children of their own.” If the couple has experienced infertility, they have made the decision now to invest themselves in becoming a family through adoption. Do some cartwheels and jump up and down.
  • Please don’t offer the infamous cliché – “Oh, now I’m sure you will get pregnant!” or “Oh good! Seems like as soon as someone decides to adopt, they get pregnant.” Not true and a downright not good thing to say. Just don’t. Please.
  • Please don’t freak them out – Just like how you don’t tell a newly pregnant woman about the woman you know who just miscarried or the tragic story of a baby lost at birth, please don’t hear the word “adoption” and proceed to share some stories about a tragic story you heard on the news or someone you know who waited forever or a birthmother who changed her mind after a month or whatever. Couples starting out in the adventure of adoption likely already have a bit of fear in them—as all new parents do—and you don’t need to grow that fear.
  • Please respect their child’s home country – While we have a passion for China, I recognize that not all adoptive families may have a particular passion for their child’s home country if they are adopting internationally. But, even if they don’t, please do not insult the people of that country or the child’s birth family for the choice they made. Feel free to ask questions if you do not understand the culture and why there are orphans there available for adoption. But, in so doing, do not make judgmental or negative remarks about the people particularly in front of biological and/or adopted children. And, part of respecting their child’s home country includes not critiquing their choice of programs (i.e., “Why wouldn’t you just adopt from here?” or something along those lines). Simply encourage.
  • Please be intentional with your verbage – While not all adoptive parents are sensitive about what words people use, it’s always better to be cautious and respectful with your words. Their child is their child, not like their own child. Use the terms birth mother and birth father, not real mother and father. The adoptive family is very much the child’s real family.
  • Please don’t make saints of the adoptive family – There are many more families now making the choice to adopt to grow their families for reasons other than infertility. Amen! But, don’t praise the family by telling them how lucky the child is to have them or how wonderful they are to rescue this child. It can be pretty uncomfortable. And, that type of praise actually can be harmful if said in the presence of their children—biological and/or adopted children. Instead, simply encourage them for following God’s call for their family. That’s enough.
  • Celebrate! – The typical baby shower typically won’t work to celebrate the arrival or pending arrival of an adopted baby, toddler, or older child. Think creatively! Consider getting girlfriends together for a Nesting Party during which you can help your friend paint the child’s room or even simply clean her house. If the family doesn’t know the age or gender of the child who will be coming home, consider having a book party simply to grow their children’s library. Gifts for new parents can be super helpful and needed. But, perhaps more than the gifts, simply the attention given to the family (okay, fine, mother) and the message sent that friends and family are rallying around this child can mean a whole lot more than gifts and last a whole lot longer.
  • Assure them you will care for them after the fact – In our circles—and I hope in most—when a family brings home a newborn, their church and/or neighbors help through providing meals, babysitting for other children, grocery runs, etc. This is not simply because a woman is recovering from childbirth; it’s because a family has just completely changed their dynamics, and it takes a while to get your bearings. Adopting a child is no different. In fact, having brought home biological newborns and one toddler via adoption, I think I needed care more after our adoption than after recovering from labor and delivery. Please don’t equate labor with need for care. Adoptive moms need that care too.

Anything you’d add to that list?

 ________________________________________

Kelly Raudenbush

Forever changed by our experience of being adopted and adopting, Kelly is a stay-at-home mom/manager to 4 children–the youngest of whom is from Baoji, Shaanxi, China–who is a professional juggler, juggling her calling as wife and mother with a small online store (Jiayin Designs), editing, administrating this site, and serving adoptive families through The Sparrow Fund. You can learn more about their adoption story, how they’ve been changed, and what life for them looks like on their personal blog where she’s currently featuring some great ways you can shop with purpose this season (which includes over 25 giveaways!).

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