Celebrating Your Child’s Heritage

Celebrating Chinese holidays and heritage

FAQ: Managing Insecurities and Offense

I received a lot of emails and phone calls over my “Mom” post a few weeks ago. I was a little surprised to hear that so many people were surprised that I was okay with Ty calling Rebekah, Mom. One reader wrote an extremely honest email and admitted that she would be crushed if her adopted son called his birth mom, Mom. She was writing for pointers on how to be more secure in that relationship.

We were at church, last week, and someone was admiring the boys and said, “Now, Ty is your real son, right?” I smiled and launched into our story on how both of our boys came to be. I love telling it.

I know that many adoptive parents equate adoption ignorance to cruel and intentional insults…I just don’t see it that way. I take ignorance for what it is and understand that it is usually bred by curiosity.

Overall, I would say our adoption community is hyper-sensitive when it comes to talking about adoption. Parents spend more time than is necessary trying to prove their place and position…while the child never questions it.

Before Ty was born, God gave me a revelation that has never left my mind. It was like a bright light turned on the day I realized Tyrus belongs to him. Not Rebekah. Not me.

God privileged us with the opportunity to mother him, but possession belongs to God alone. That really helped me in the early days of getting to know Rebekah. It removed the pressure of having to define our roles in ways that seemed unnatural.

Love is not finite. There is no limit to the amount you can give – or get. We always approached Ty’s adoption with this attitude because we knew he could never get his “fill” of love. Rebekah’s presence in Ty’s life doesn’t diminish mine. The same goes for her sister and mother and grandmother. Those relationships don’t take away from the ones he has on our side of the family…they just add to it.

I look at Ty calling Rebekah, “Mom”, the same way. He wants to call her mom because he understands the breadth of what she did for him. He understands her love and affection and wants to return it in a way that makes sense to him. It’s kind of like me calling Ben’s mom, mom. She’s not the mother that stressed and sacrificed and poured into me for the 20 years I had before marrying Ben, but she has enriched my life in countless ways over the last 11. I call her mom because I want to show her respect, love, and admiration. My mom doesn’t feel jealous, insecure, or out of place because of my acknowledgement of Ben’s mom. She knows her place. She will always be my mom.

I know that not everyone has that type of relationship with their mother-in-law, but I hope it helps explain why Ty’s recent choice of words doesn’t bother me.

Ultimately, it comes down to my security in the Lord. I know who I am in Christ, so it’s pretty easy to let insecurities roll down my back. When people use the word “real” when referring to my boys or their moms, it doesn’t offend me because I know who they are to me and who I am to them. Most of the people we run into have no adoption experience. They just ask the first thing that pops into their head. I don’t feel the need to make it a teaching opportunity because most of them will never run into adoption, again. Instead, I use their curiosity as a platform to tell our story and praise God for his goodness!

In just a few short days, Ty will have the opportunity to be with both of his moms and the rest of his extended Colorado family. What a wonderful reunion it will be. I can’t wait to get home and tell you all about it!

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Rebekah Pinchback

Next to my faith walk, I am a wife and mother first. My husband and I have been married ten years and have two incredibly, tender sons, Tyrus and LJ. Our boys are essentially twins, yet neither boy was born from my belly. We adopted sweet Ty (domestically) in 2009 and have a wide-open relationship with his birth family. LJ was also born in the summer of 2009, but came to our family, this year, as a ward of the state (via foster care). Our hearts and abilities have been stretched to capacity, but God is moving, filling, and redefining family for all of us.  Follow along on our journey.

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Meeting her.

Last month, before leaving for the DRC,  I wrote about what was weighing heavy on my heart – the day I would take my son from the arms of his foster mother.

Every time I talked about it with someone, I was in tears.  Every time I thought about it, I was tears.

As a foster mom of a son that I have loved since the minute he was placed in my hands at two weeks old, my heart was filled with gratitude for this woman whom I would soon meet.

The days leading up to our meeting were filled with nervous trepidation, as I knew that I would never be able to voice to her just how much I understood her role in our son’s life.

Because of our baby J, I know what it means to love a little one who is not promised to you.

I know what it is to be up at all hours of the night, rocking, cradling, and snuggling a child that I did not birth and whose sweet little toes I may never get to see fill the shoes of a grown man.

I know what it means to pour everything you have into a child that may never thank you, and in fact, never remember you.

There was so much I wanted to say to her, my Tyson’s Mama Isabelle.

As I walked out to meet her and my baby boy, the tears were flowing.

She greeted me with a huge smile and I hugged her as tight as I could.

She spoke no English and I spoke no French.

Through our lawyer, who spoke minimal English, I shared with her everything I could muster in the shortest and most succinct amount of words.

“You have loved him so very well.  Thank you.”

It wasn’t enough.  But nothing I said would have been.  Nothing could have conveyed how full my heart was at that moment.

As I held our smiling, cuddly son, with chunky thighs and full cheeks, it was quite evident that Tyson had been well-fed, held tightly, and cuddled often.

And believe me, I fully realize that this is not always the case in international adoption.

Because of Mama Isabelle, our Tyson bonded quickly to us.  He craves snuggles, makes great eye contact, and smiles and smiles and smiles and smiles.

It’s been three weeks since I met my son.  Three weeks since I took him out of the arms of his Mama Isabelle.

When I talk about it or think about it, it still brings me to tears.

But it isn’t out of sadness.

It’s out of a heart that overflows with emotion for the gift of a son who now carries my last name.

It’s from a heart filled with thankfulness for the selfless love of a foster mom caring for our baby 4,000 miles away.

It’s because of a heart bursting with love for my own foster son who is a miracle and gift that I one day may have to return.

I can’t guarantee the tears will stop anytime soon, because they are filled with gratitude and awe at this life we’ve been given.

Thank you, Mama Isabelle. You were an answer to five months of prayer for our son and a tender reminder to me of my call as a foster mom.

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Leslie Word

Leslie has been married to her husband Brian for almost three years. They live in Montgomery, Alabama where Leslie works for a nonprofit agency and Brian is a student pastor. They are passionate about caring for the orphan and have helped start ONEfamily, an adoption, foster care, and orphan care ministry in their church. Their free time is made up of watching football, eating Mexican food, and spending time with their rambunctious puppy, Knox. They have chosen to adopt first and are currently fostering a little guy and just returned from the Democratic Republic of Congo with their son. You can read more about their adventures here.

That Was Before

Hyatt and Holden (both 4 yrs old) were in the hallway cleaning fingerprints off the walls with anti-bacterial wipes (this is a chore that I have the littles do often, mainly because they are the fingerprint culprits). As they cleaned, they were talking about the pictures that hung above their heads. Their conversation caught my attention, so I quietly listened where they couldn’t see me…

December 2009 – the picture that was the topic of discussion.
Holden: See me right there when I was a baby?
Hyatt: No that’s not you
Holden: Yes it is, mommy is holding me
Hyatt: That is Hucky, you were still in mommy’s heart
Holden: oh that’s right, when I was a baby I was still in mommy’s heart
Hyatt:  This picture was taken before we were the Real Lang Family.
December 2011 – lizziebeephotography.com

 

Hyatt:  See this one Holden?  (as he points to the photo above) This one was after we became the Real Lang Family.  This is the one that has all of us together.

And it hit me.  I thought we were the Real Lang Family the day we got married. Then I thought we might be complete after two children. Then again after four.
What I didn’t expect was to still feel the ‘lonely.’
Psalm 68:6 God sets the lonely in families…
We were a family when we were much smaller in number, but we were not the complete family that God had in mind for us.  Until we surrendered our idea of what our family was supposed to look like, we were unknowingly missing the blessings God had yet to come.  We had assumed the role of  making all of the decisions, rather than allowing God to masterfully design the family he had perfectly planned for us to have.  I still remember the day that all of this came to light and I called my husband at work to tearfully tell him that we needed to repent from our arrogance, and give our family back to God.

I know from experience that God often uses my children’s ordinary behavior to reveal hidden treasures in my own spiritual journey.  I can so easily get taken up with the busyness and the ‘need to do’ while my kids are much better at seeing life simpler.  I pass by those photos in the hallway everyday, and admittedly, there are times when I see the photo with the four children and think how easy life was back then.  Our family tree was easy to explain, we didn’t need an oversized vehicle to transport us all and our vocabulary didn’t include words like birth parents, social workers, attachment issues, and court dates.

A life fully surrendered to God cannot be taken back, and I wouldn’t want to.   Doing so would completely derail any spiritual progress I have made and would leave me feeling empty and guilty.  So even though looking back at family pictures when life was ‘easier’ can sometimes make me feel a yearning for a simpler time, I know that God has me on the path that He has chosen for me.  Choosing the narrow road has brought about positive life changes both in this temporary world and in the eternal. Why would I yearn for anything else?But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.  Matthew 7:14

Comparison is a contentment killer.  I used to only think that meant comparing myself to other people, but it can also be personal.  I have grown so much since the younger version of me walked that forest path.  I wouldn’t give back these hard earned years of maturity for anything.  I may not be living a life that I thought I would be (which can often feel like a reality television show without the famous paycheck) but I can honestly say that in the midst of the chaos, I have an inner peace that only the Holy Spirit can bring when in direct obedience to Christ.And I got all of this from overhearing a conversation between my two 4 year olds.  I am still in awe of the belief and the understanding of the eternal in my son’s heart.

Yes Hyatt and Holden, we are now the Real Lang Family, and we are so very proud that we are.

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Christina Lang

Christina is a proud wife to an amazing man named Brandon and mama to six beautiful children ages 9, 7, 4, 3, 2, & 1. After getting her degree and teaching junior high for a couple of years, she had four sons. When her youngest boy was 13 months old, they completed their family by adopting a brother and sister from foster care. She blogs as a way to document her family’s growth, as well as an outlet which she hopes will encourage others. She feels truly called to her lifestyle and knows that she is incredibly blessed to fulfill that calling. Their family life is entwined by selfless faith and together learning daily how to live missionally. They recently moved from California to their new forever home in Arizona. She absolutely loves her life as a stay-at-home/frequently found warehouse shopping/carpooling/football mom.

When Going Almost Breaks Us

Silas likes to pretend to be a baby sometimes. His brother always liked it, too. I know this is normal toddler behavior, but I’ve always suspected that for the two of them, it’s more than that.

You couldn’t have convinced me, before all of these brown babies came into my life, that a tiny baby could really know what he missed. But there was the time Calvin was 9 months old and the cartoon cut to kids in Korea, a whole schoolyard of them laughing and playing. He froze. Then he bawled his eyes out. He knew. I swept him up and our hearts broke together, for two different reasons. That’s when my mind changed. That’s when I knew for sure that the heart knows what it wants. That’s when adoption became more than my path to a family.

Then there’s his little brother, the one who changed everything we knew all over again, the one who pushes back at life, all wiry limbs and almond eyes bigger than forever.

He’s four now, and he’s got some things to say. He tells us he loves us all the time. He calls everyone “Mrs. Doohiggy” and laughs like he invented four-year old humor. He talks trash. He gives me permission to do stuff all dang day because he has a monstrous Boss complex. “Oh sure, you can put those dishes away.” “Yes, you may check your email.” “Okay, you can make some lunch!”

A few weeks ago he curled up on my lap like a monkey baby and lapsed into that really safe baby world, his wide eyes wider, the weight of his body a gift in my hands. I’ll play baby with him anytime.

This time, the baby started talking.

S: I was born in my Kria (Korea).
Me: Yes, you were.
S: You get me there wis Daddy. We go up in the airplane.
Me: Yep. Did you like the airplane?
S: No. I cried.
Me: Why did you cry?
S: Because I was sad.
Me: Why were you sad? (super curious at this point)
S: Because I didn’t want that mommy.
Me: You didn’t want what mommy?
S: (points to me) That one.
Me: What mommy did you want?
S: Foster mommy.

He wasn’t sad when he said it. He was just telling the truth. I kissed his neck and sniffed his head and the baby was gone. He smiled and raced off to the toyroom, Charles wedged under one arm.

We have talked to him about Korea. We’ve talked about foster mommy. We’ve talked about the airplane and that he cried on it. We have never, ever, talked about why he cried on the plane. We’ve never come close to talking about how desperate he was for the life he knew, or how his world ended for a while when we showed up.

We knew his heart was broken. We know it’s mapped with scars. We did not know his little-kid brain was capable of remembering a feeling that showed up 3 years back.

This might be one more way that healing comes down, to him and to us. God never wastes pain.

But I talk about Going and all the ways it can weigh us down, make us jittery or sad, and none of it will ever come close to the kind of Going that buttons your coat, ties your shoes, and sends you across an ocean, or a river.

The amount of collective faith required in adoption sends me staggering, and most of it isn’t even mine.

They would never have chosen this. But there was so much more to the story than what they could see. So they came and let us love them and sooner or later, they loved us back. They chose us back.

Maybe it’s in the brown eyes looking up at me every day that I find this urge to reach up and grab onto something Brave. Because despite all the ways they have lost, my babies will understand how God redeems. Their worldview and the scope of their belief will leave mine in the dust. They’ll never think for a second that the neighbors they should love share their language, their skin-tone, the same hunk of dirt.

For them, it will be rooted in their soul: a good thing isn’t always an easy thing. Sometimes, just what we need, that one thing that will define us, hold us, carry us into the all the rest, is born from a heart wide-split and questions that won’t be answered.

If they and all the others like them can Go, so can we.

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Shannan Martin

Shannan Martin is an ordinary girl who searches for and finds beauty in the everyday. She’s the wife of a man who thinks all of her jokes are funny and who regularly indulges her late-night, thinking-out-loud ponderings. They have three funny shorties, Calvin, Ruby, and Silas, who came to them across rivers and oceans. Together, they are embarking on a fresh adventure and are confident that God will meet them there. And though they no longer live on the farm, life remains a heaped-up pile of blessings, and Shannan will forever remain a Farmgirl at heart. She has blogged for three years; come take a look.

My Love/Hate Relationship with Adoption

I feel like an emotional ping pong ball lately. I am ecstatic at how well the big kids are doing but cry often when the weight of what they’ve endured to get here comes crashing down. And so it goes. Extreme joy to debilitating grief.

I hate when a language gap the size of the Grand Canyon is between meeting my kids’ needs and me.  I love that so many things in this life transcend language.

I love when they tell stories from their past that tell about what they love and who they are.  For example, our son used to own a small flock of homing pigeons.  I hate when they tell stories of their past that drip of anguish and pain no person let alone child should ever experience.

I love the diversity and culture in our family.  It is helping to shape our kids into compassionate, sensitive, and adventurous kids who handle race issues better than most adults we encounter.  I hate that we have a cross cultural family because our kids’ birth countries weren’t equipped to care for them.  I hate that their culture slips away a little more each day unless we play an active role in re-capturing it every day.

I hate that we have kids who have suffered emotional trauma which forever and completely changes their perception of the world.  I love that we’ve been stretched where parenting is concerned.  We’re so much the wiser for our troubles and have been able to use our experience to come along other families as they adventure through adoption.

I love watching them experience new things with the wonder of a toddler but hate thinking about how much they’ve missed.

I love hearing them chatter as they catch up with friends using the latest video chat technology.  I hate that video chat is the best we can do socially right now because social situations will be the last and most difficult thing to overcome.

I love that every time we adopt our diet expands.  I hate that food can be so alienating.  Thank goodness for berbere!

So goes our adoption adventure right now.

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Melissa Corkum

Patrick and Melissa, who was adopted from Korea as an infant, have two biological children, a son adopted at age 2 1/2 from Korea, and 3 big kids from Ethiopia (adopted at 12 to 14 years of age). They reside in Maryland where they started a ministry called Grafted Families. Its goal is to serve Gospel-centered churches as they care for orphans and vulnerable children. Melissa also has a photography business that specializes in adoption homecoming and foster family photography. You can get to know Melissa better on her personal blog and Patrick on his personal blog.

Russia On My Mind

As I was standing during worship at my church in Orlando this past Sunday, out of nowhere God brought up Russia on my mind. It caught me by surprise that God brought this particular thought into my head. God does that, catches us by surprise. Now for those who don’t know me very well you must know that I think about Russia all the time. Oftentimes I wake up in the morning just simply missing Russia. I really do miss Russia every day of my life. This is not to say that I hate living in America. I love America. It is where my family is, my home, my friends. I love going to college in Florida, baking in the sun at the beach in the months when everyone else is already getting out their winter clothes. I wish I could combine the best of both worlds; Russian culture and the American family and climate. One must always make sacrifices. Recently missing Russia and talk of Russia has been incessant due to the fact this is my last year in college and I must decide where my future must head. The constant question of, “do you know what you are going to do after you graduate?” is engrained in my brain. I almost can predict when the people will ask the question before it comes out of their mouths. I get excited and at the same time sad answering the question. “I’m moving to Russia,” is my initial response. Then comes the question, “What are you going to do there?” This is where I hesitate….What am I going to do in Russia?!

It didn’t take me by surprise that God brought Russia on my mind this past Sunday, but it did surprise me that he brought up orphans and adoption. Even from a young age I knew I would go back to Russia and that God would use me to minister to orphans, but as I got older, my desire still stayed the same– minister and help orphans. However, college changed my perspective. What am I going to do ministering to orphans when I’m graduating with a double major (Russian Studies and Environmental Science)? Was the time spent in college working so hard going to go to waste? Did I choose the wrong majors? I could make a very good living through in either of those areas. I’m going to need money to live on. I can’t do ministry work in Russia; I need to find a real job.

Oftentimes, I go into thinking in this way. I imagine myself being a very successful government official or businesswoman. I see myself changing the world in some grandiose way. I desire those things; however, then I see someone in need and my heart just breaks. I know there is nothing wrong with wanting to be successful or making a lot of money, but it all comes down what is most important in this world to me! Money comes and goes, experiences come and go, troubles and happy times come and go, but people live on. Whatever I do in my life, I want to help people better their lives. I want to see them succeed and be happy and satisfied with life. I want to help orphans because I was one once and knowing this I know there is hope and there is life after you have been abandoned and rejected by those people who gave you birth.

Over the years my very good friend, my mother, and I have been making a quite interesting observation. We have been surrounded by many adopted children most of them coming from Russia, who have been placed in wholesome, loving, caring families. The adopted children have every basic need satisfied in their lives plus more, for these new parents provide them with overwhelming love and care. We have seen these adopted children grow up and live their lives like they grew up in a home without love, care, protection and parents. The decisions they make are harmful to their lives. Oftentimes, they begin to use drugs or alcohol, get into rebellion–and the list goes on. I look at those children and without judgment and wonder, “Why is this so?” I know these families well enough to know that they have poured nothing but love into their adopted children.

I can testify to this happening not only as someone looking from the outside but also as someone who has personal experience. In my own family, we have had many such experiences. My own adopted siblings have sometimes chosen paths of destruction and hurt. I have watched for months, which later turned into years as my parents did everything humanly possible. Some situations got so bad that only God could do anything, because it was humanly impossible to do anything else. I don’t know how it feels to be a parent of a struggling child, but I know how it feels to have someone of your own blood be in a painful place and feel so helpless.

And I began to entertain the idea, could it be that love is simply not enough to dramatically change the adopted children’s lives? Could it be that God isn’t enough to change their deeply hurt hearts? I don’t entertain that idea for too long, because if God isn’t enough to change these hurt hearts, then there is no hope for orphans. God has to be enough and is enough to make a difference in the heart of the orphan. All I pray is that God will use me to do just that.

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Kristina

Kristina,  a 22 year old college senior majoring in Russian Studies and Environmental Studies, is one of 7 children, 4 adopted and 3 biological.  Kristina was adopted when she was 10 years old from Russia. She has experienced the redemptive work of God in her life and has a calling to minister to children and a deep desire from God to have an impact in the very country that was the source of so much pain. She occasionally writes for the Hope at Home blog.

The Waiting Room

I can vividly remember the last week of my mother’s life. She was diagnosed with cancer and one week later, she was gone. As quickly as it was, I will never forget that last week of her life. And one thing specifically I remember was the waiting room and the waiting by her side…watching…wrestling…and finding God.

The normal question after we get back from each family trip is, “When will Kelly be home?” I love and hate that question. I love that question b/c people are not afraid to ask us…they don’t stop asking us even though it has been a year and a half now. I love that people continue to stick along side of us and don’t forget that one of our son’s is in Haiti and not with us. I love that. But I hate not having a real answer to give. How do you really explain all this wait besides blame it on Haiti or government or paperwork or this and that? So I fumble through my words in hopes to explain the realities but inside there is a wrestling that is often unexplainable.

This waiting room, as I think of it, is a place between joy and pain. The joy of the moments we get to visit Kelly and see him grow, the pain that we are not with him daily to help him thrive. The joy that we see him and hold him, the pain that it is only for a few weeks a year. The joy of running to grab him when we arrive in Haiti, the pain of saying “we will return, son” as we get in our cab and head away from him. The joy of meeting his Haitian mother and hearing of Kelly’s life as an infant, the pain as she and I both cry tears of all the brokenness of this story. The joy of our children talking of their brother and loving him far off, the pain as I place Kelly’s clothes in his drawer without him to wear them. The joy of saying hello as we see him over Skype, the pain as he stares at us and we wonder what he must be thinking. The joy of tucking him in bed at night when we are with him, the pain of him crying in our arms as he struggles to trust our love will never go away.

In our waiting room we ask many questions. Many questions of the process to our agency, the orphanage director, the lawyer, other adoptive parents. But most of our questions come screaming from our heart. I can remember the last 24 hours of my mother’s life. I was pregnant with my daughter Sally and had to leave my mom’s side to go lay down in the waiting room. I lay in my husband’s arms silent. And then the tears came flooding. And my heart screamed out, “WHY??!!!!” “Tell me why she must suffer!!!” My heart knew my God and believed Him, but there is something about suffering and pain that will cause you to ask and want to know more of God. “Who are you really?!” “I know you are doing something, but I can’t see?? What about my mother??!!” “Are you there??” “Do you care?” “Do you exist!?”

In a waiting room when suffering or pain is involved, you panic to know “Is there more than what I see?” I begged my husband to explain to me, what the Bible means when it talks about the gain in suffering. He was wise and let me wrestle in silence after my question and then he answered with grace and truth. If anyone knows about suffering, it is my Lord, Jesus. “Jesus understands better than we do that many times the most effective way for the glory of God to be advanced is through the suffering of His people.” – As author Kelley who wrote, “Wednesdays were pretty normal,” reminded me and my husband in that waiting room with my mom. On May 18, 2008 I got up out of the waiting room and went to my mother and helped her fight with faith until her last breath. I reminded her who her God was. I told her not to be afraid. I assured her that He was who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. And 10 hours later, she met that truth face to face and all of her tears were wiped away. All of her sickness was gone. And I had tasted faith and a greater understanding of my Lord.

So, I find myself again, in a waiting room as we wait for Kelly to come home. It is a place between countries, a place between joy and pain, a place between questions and faith. I have to go to the end of all my fears and questions, because it is there that I find who God really is. He has been faithful to give us grace and faith in Him and what He will do.

Our waiting room is a place were we are becoming. We are being changed. Though I can’t see all things, we are all changing.

Though we are in a waiting room, we still must live. We must go on with school, neighbors, friends and family in this journey of life. But this waiting room makes us see all these things we are living in differently. And I am thankful for that. One day Kelly will come home, and we will enter a new journey. But in the meantime, we are finding who God is. We are experiencing love and generosity from so many people who help us fight in this waiting. In the meantime, we are finding new life.

Today is Kelly Josiah’s 5th birthday. When we met him when he was 3 1/2 years old, I never imagined we would be apart on his 5th birthday. But it is what God had for us. Not because He is not or He can’t. But because He made us and knows what is best. Because He sees all things. He has all power. He is who He says He is. He will do all things right and bring our son home, when it is good for us and for kelly. For now, we will celebrate in the waiting room and live until God sees fit to end that time. And then, the waiting will be over. We will take a deep breath and breathe new life, not because it is over, but because we persevered and God’s grace helped us endure the Waiting Room and bring us to a place were we came face to face with God.

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Kimberly Stewart

I am married to Michael Stewart. We live in Austin, TX with our 3 children, Wesley-Grant (7 yrs), Sally (6 yrs) and Karis (4 yrs) while waiting on our son, Kelly who is 5 yrs old, to come home from Haiti. We have been in the process of adoption for almost 2 years. We are imperfect people but loved perfectly by a gracious and loving God. Follow our journey on our family blog.

It’s All Good Hair

She’s beautiful just the way she is. Each hair an uncanny reminder of who God made her to be. African, tightly wound, a coil of boundless energy, full of spunk, with a mind of her own, and wild. I’m glad I remembered that before we decided to change it.

Satan speaks his lies in the subtlest of ways. And he is relentless…and his lies so predictable. “You don’t have what it takes to care for her,” he whispers. He’s been whispering this since the day she imprinted herself on my heart. Most of the time, I don’t pay any attention. Most of time, I remember all of the ways that God has made her mine and marvel at the miracle of adoption.

But sometimes….sometimes, his whisper sneaks it’s way inside. It wraps itself around my heart and I feel that familiar sadness. I feel all of the distance and the differences that separate her from me. The flesh and blood and DNA that prove that the miracle of her had nothing to do with me. And sometimes, in that state, I come up with ways to minimize the differences, and convince myself that it’s best for all of us.

So, we almost relaxed Hope’s hair last month. I came really close. I’m not saying we won’t do it someday. I don’t have firm feelings on whether it’s right or wrong. I don’t really think it’s a moral issue. But, if we do it someday, it won’t be so that I can avoid learning ALL I need to know to properly care for her naturally beautiful hair texture. And it certainly won’t be so that I don’t have to think about our differences.

I’m glad I was reminded that it doesn’t honor Hope when I pretend we aren’t different. Because we are. And most of the time, I remember that that is something to celebrate! I don’t need us to be the same. I don’t want us to be the same.

And besides, what does flesh and blood and DNA know about love, anyway?

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Amada Kolman

Amanda lives in Canon City, Colorado with her husband Loren where he serves as the Young Life area director. She is a stay-at-home mom to three fabulous kids, all adopted, and all girls, which means she also spends a lot of time sweeping up glitter. Recently, she has begun serving as the team leader for YoungLives, Young Life’s ministry to teen moms. She blogs whenever the mood hits about adoption, ministry, and raising girls.

Our First Meeting

It seems almost impossible to accurately describe the feelings and emotions that surround the meeting of the parents of your child. That statement alone holds thoughts that can never be understood unless this exact experience has been a reality in your life. But, here I am over two years later, and I clearly remember every detail, and I will try my best to express and explain the most important meeting of my life.

The night before the meeting I sat at my window, watching the snow quietly fall, and told Bundle all about the events of the next day. I read and re-read their profile, analyzing every word and picture. I was so nervous I could not fall asleep and I just stared and talked. I wasn’t nervous because I was unsure of my choice to pick a family for adoption I was nervous because I wanted to pick the perfect family. My idea of perfect is not the family who has everything together, never fights, and looks beautiful every Sunday at church. My perfect family is one that loves each other unconditionally, loves God, and loves life. How exactly do you decipher these qualities from a couple you meet for two hours? I had no idea how I was going to be sure that these were the people I wanted influencing and raising my son. This seemed like an impossible task and I was terrified of making the wrong choice.

The snow began to pile outside my window and I decided that the first test for the couple would be whether or not they canceled our meeting. It was an early morning meeting and we had chosen a neutral location at a conference room in a hotel. But, of course the blizzard was predicted to blow through the night and well into the following day. I told my social worker that I did not want to cancel the meeting and I waited to hear what the couple was thinking. I wanted to see if they thought this meeting and, essentially meeting their potential son, was worth driving through record breaking snow. If they canceled I would have never rescheduled and started back at the beginning.

The next morning my social worker confirmed that the couple was not only willing but thrilled to hold to our meeting time. So, my family packed into my Dad’s truck and proceeded to drive in a raging blizzard to get to the meeting. I went over thoughts and questions in my head as I stared out the window and whispered to Bundle. I had read their profile so many times, I felt like I knew them already. I tried to put myself in their shoes so that I could understand what they were thinking and feeling. My plan was to be myself and see how well we meshed because Bundle’s personality would probably reflect mine. We pulled into the hotel parking lot and I instantly checked all the cars plates and tried figuring out which one was theirs. A car can say a lot about a person and I was desperate for any clues or hints.

We trudged through the snow into the conference room with my social worker. She said that the couple was in the hotel waiting and that they were very nervous. We joked about how we should just not smile and shoot questions at them and make them really nervous, just to break the ice. It was obvious that everyone involved was going to be nervous but I wanted to see the couple in a comfortable setting so that I could understand who they were, how they acted, and their thoughts without the pressure to perform for me. So I rearranged the room. The hotel had set up long tables with chairs sitting far apart and it was very impersonal. So I suggested taking the chairs away from the tables and setting them up in a cozy circle to ease everyone’s nerves.

Watching them walk through the door brought a flood of emotions. My mind immediately went to work. First thought, Nate held the door open for Amber, good. Second thought, she is beautiful. And this was the beginning of exhaustingly documenting every thought and storing it deep into my memory. Every second that happened in that meeting I relived and worked over in my mind every hour of every day until I went into labor.

I immediately jumped out of my seat and ran, actually waddled over to them. I told myself early on that I would not pay attention to superficial things such as looks or clothes. But, the first thing I noticed was that they were a very good looking couple and well dressed. I introduced myself to Nate first and I told him I would rather hug him than shake his hand. I remember thinking that he was really handsome and had features that Bundle was going to have, dark hair and blue eyes. This was very important to me because I wanted Bundle to look like the family I chose. He smiled and hugged me and was quiet. I instantly decided it was not necessarily the shy kind of quiet but more the thinking kind of quiet. I then turned to Amber. She was beautiful and very nervous. Hugging her was special because Bundle hugged her too. I’ll never forget when she looked at me and then at Bundle. It was a defining moment in that day and in my life. It wasn’t the sparkle of excitement in her eyes or the kindness that I saw, those things I expected. It was the sadness that I saw, not for her or from her past but for me. I had put myself in her shoes so many times and I knew she would be nervous and hesitant and excited. But the fact that she had thought about me, my feelings, what I was about to do, made me realize that she already loved Bundle. She had a kind heart, she understood me.

After introducing my family, minus my twin who couldn’t make it, we all sat down in our circle of chairs. My social worker prayed and we began our meeting. Right away, Amber, was so nervous that she picked her finger nail off. It went sailing through the air and then fell to the floor in the middle of the circle. She quickly jumped out of her chair, picked it up, and stuck it in her pocket. It was a hilarious event because my little sister literally asked her why she decided to put her nail in her pocket. This was the ice breaker because everyone had to laugh. Looking back it’s even funnier because I know Amber so well and I am no longer surprised at her hilarious and wild antics.

The afternoon seemed to float along. We talked about planes, boats, and shopping. We talked about their history as a couple, their goals, and families. I was very specific in my expectations for them and they met every single detail that I had in mind over and above. It surprised me. I set goals that I thought I would have to compromise on. I did not want a history of divorce in either family, must be adventurous, educated, friendly, Christians, outgoing, kind, hard working, easy to relate to, and the list was endless. They fit each idea and description and I was overwhelmed.

Then Amber told me of when she first found out about me choosing them and she was so excited just telling me about it. Her eyes were sparkly, excited, and her words were full of happiness and anticipation. I loved that she was so bubbly and vibrant. She said exactly what she was thinking right when she thought it. It was easy to tell that she was driven and loved life. Nathan was very funny also but in a different way than Amber. He was kind and sensitive and reminded me a lot of my Dad. Towards the end of our meeting I excused myself to call my twin and fill her in. I wanted to be on the outside and secretly spy when they thought I wasn’t looking. So I stood in the back of the room and watched Nate and Amber interact with my family. The thing that struck me the most is that they were so eager and absolutely bursting with life. The room was never silent, but filled with laughter or happy chatter. We had our serious moments but they were met with open hearts and minds. This was not only similar to my family and home life, but it was exactly the atmosphere I wanted my son to be raised in. I wanted an atmosphere of life, living, laughing, and loving. I chose life for my son once and I wanted to choose life for him indefinitely.

Before I knew it two hours had flown by and we decided to head out into the storm. I could’ve sat and talked for hours and hours with them and this was something I had not expected going in. I said good bye to Amber last and I asked if she wanted to rub my giant belly. She looked at me with hesitation and I’m pretty sure slight anxiety. My decision was already made and I knew Amber would be perfect for Bundle. And as corny as it sounds we shared a special moment.

So how do you pick the people to care for your child? How do you make that choice of handing over the life you made? I wanted to be the one to protect him and love him. But I couldn’t. Once you get past the feeling of helplessness you have to decide who can take your place. So how do you pick and trust someone to care for the only thing in this world that you love? You don’t. I really believe that I did not pick them. God did. It was a God ordained plan. A masterpiece of events and incidents. We found each other through God. This plan is my gift to Bundle. I may not give Bundle his dollar from the tooth fairy, I may not give him his first piggy back ride, I may not give him gas money or drop him off for his first day at school. I may not give him a kiss good bye after his first date or give him the keys to his first car. But I gave him my eyes, I gave him my heart, and I gave him life.

_______________________________________

Ash

Ash is proud to be B’s Birth Mom. She graduated from college with a major in Business and Finance and a minor in Philosophy and currently works as a portfolio manager for a large North Eastern banking institution. In addition to drinking in the salty sea air while taking long walks on the beach, Ashley’s favorite activity is spending as much time as she can with friends and family, especially if it involves smothering B with love and kisses. Visit Bumber’s Bumblings where you can find her occasionally collaborating with her son’s adoptive mom.

For his Birthfather: I’m doing the best I can, sir.

When I was messing with your hair that day, right after this picture was taken, my heart took a left when I figured it would have taken a right.

To the right would have been throwing you on the sofa and tickling you until you fart.
To the left was that place I accidentally stumble into every few months.
That place that looks, tastes, smells, and feels funny.
The last few strokes of your hair I imagined your father’s hair.
It must feel similar to this.
It must be light and wispy.
I wonder, right now, if his fingers are running through his hair.
But he’s probably wearing a hat.
I wonder if his hands smell like the fish that he has been catching all day.
I hope they do, or his day would have sucked.
I wonder if they are more calloused than they were a year ago.
I’m sure those nets are a pain.
I wonder if when he looks at them…he wonders about yours.

And so I walked outside, looked up to the sky, and screamed…”He’s OK!!!!”

When I walked back into the house I had this romantic thought that maybe…

Right before I looked up…

You got off your fishing boat…

Looked up…

And screamed

?????????!!!!!!!

(Is my son OK?!)

Then I looked at the clock and realized it was 2 am in Seoul.
I got sad for a second…that my dream was a joke…
Until I realized…
He was probably dreaming of you.
Laying on his wispy hair.

I’m doing the best I can sir…
I promise…

_______________________________________________

Carlos Whittaker is an artist, pastor, thinker, experience architect, and Web 2.0 junkie. He and his wife Hetaher have 3 children.  In November 2006 they adopted their son Losiah from Seoul Korea. Carlos lives to ignite a movement of authenticity among all generations of Christians that morphs the face of the evangelical church into a place of being real with yourself, others, and God.

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