Realities

Expectations, realities, real struggles

{Hitting Repeat} I think I’m always looking for a baby.


Large baskets by the roadside, dusty corners… dark alleys. My eyes are always peering intently into those forsaken locations, wondering if today is the day that I’ll hear a kitten’s cry and it won’t be a kitten. It will be a baby.

I don’t want to find a baby, and yet I do. I’d like to stay in denial that babies actually don’t get abandoned. I’d rather believe that they ONLY suffer in institutions, thrive in families, survive in foster homes and blossom in foster families. This would be so much easier to believe… if only it was the truth.

It’s a stereotypical “awkward” question from children, “Where do babies come from?” They ask because they want to know. I don’t ask where the orphan in my arms or in that bed came from because I do not want to know. And yet… I do so very want to know.

She was abandoned in a field… he was at the foot of a bridge… the local village, a hospital, the orphanage gate…. At the foot of a mountain….

…by the railroad tracks. That’s the one that gets me the most. Who abandons their baby by the railroad tracks? The hospital – I get that! A poor woman has just given birth to what should be a healthy son but instead it’s a weak baby girl who’s struggling for breath, looking quite blue and has a heart defect according to the doctor that would cost the family more than they could ever afford.

The culture here allows for borrowing and lending. I recently heard about a family who, when they discovered that their child was quite sick, spent every fen they owned. Then, as they cared for their child in the hospital, relatives went amongst one another, borrowing money. In the end, the child died. As the parents recover and grieve the loss of their one child, these sacrificial, unconditional-loving parents must work their fingers to the bone to repay their relatives.

A sick baby is born to a poor family. This is their reality, their situation and, ultimately, their choice. High-quality care costs a literal fortune and you must pay up front.

How high is life valued? I think that I can see an important yet devastating chapter to each little orphan’s story just by hearing about where they were abandoned. The girl abandoned at the hospital was meant to live. The boy abandoned in the town square was meant to be found. The baby in the flower bed was to know that she’s always been cherished… and hopefully will be found by one who loves. The little boy abandoned at the foot of a mountain was meant to be forgotten. The little guy by the railroad tracks… he was gotten rid of.

I want to throw up just typing it. A vibrant, healthy, living child was never intended to be found, to be loved… to be wanted. Of course I could be reading into the story a little bit or a lot, but in reality… he’s not a “perfect” baby and those imperfections could have been seen as negating his value as a human being.

I don’t know why I look for the babies. I think that maybe it’s because I have to prove that this sort of loss and pain exists in the world. But why? Why must something so awful be confirmed? This I don’t know. Could it be that God’s heart is for the fatherless and His eyes are on the little ones at the orphanage gate and in the flower bed and that His passion is to bring children to himself? When I look into the eyes of the children here, I see Him. I see Jesus, because in many cases… His love and care is all that they have to live on.

How much realer and truer is this for the one who hasn’t been found yet? What about the baby who was just given up, who has spent her first night in the cold without arms to keep her warm and a voice to keep her comforted? She has nothing, and if she had anything at all, it’s quickly escaping to leave room for the cold hard facts of the cold hard world.

But she has Jesus. That’s what I want to see; that is what I see.

I’m not looking for babies, I’m looking for Jesus. I’m looking for His love and His provision; for His peace and for His grace. I know that He has His eye out for each tender cry and delicate life.

I hope that I never stumble upon a bundled up child left by the roadside, hidden in a basket or at the public gate, but I do hope that I see Jesus in the eyes of every empty heart.

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Hannah Samuels

When Hannah traveled to China in 2002 with her parents to adopt her sister Elisabeth, she fell in love with the country and people. In 2004, when her other sister Naomi was adopted, she started dreaming of going back. It took 5 years for that dream to come true. She now serves in a foster home for special needs orphans in China. Hannah spends her days studying, writing for the foster home and on her personal blog, Loving Dangerously, and most importantly, holding babies. Hannah loves the adventure of living overseas with her family. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.

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{Hitting Repeat} Oh, For Grace

I love that old hymn that says, “Oh, for grace to trust Him more.” The chorus says, “Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him. How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er. I’m so glad I learned to trust Him. Oh, for grace to trust Him more.” And, I am living that desire right now.

JT left today for Guatemala for another 2 weeks (he had been home for 6 days after a 2 week stint in New Mexico). He left very early so he kissed us all goodbye while it was still dark. I woke up but sadly, the kids did not. That makes this even harder for Z and E.

So, today was the day when Z decided he would push me to my limits. We spent 3 hours this morning in a boxing match of sorts. He wanted to do anything and everything to push me away. The mentality seems to be that he wants to see how much it will take to make me stop loving him. I don’t give up that easily. He pushed, and I hugged. He hit, and I administered discipline in a loving way. He screamed and I prayed. He screamed louder, and I ran the vacuum cleaner (and prayed too). He threw himself on the floor and I sat him right back up. Over and over again, this boxing match continued.

All I could see over the course of those hours was a spiritual battle for his soul. I would not give up. I knew God was greater. My other kiddos can tell you that I was talking and praying aloud to the Father. “God, you know how much I can take, and I feel like I’m on the cliff and he is kicking me over….” I know that I cannot do this without the grace of our Father. He sustains. And, He won that battle.

Then, the war began to rage this evening. It lasted for at least 18 hours…it felt like 3 days…I think it was 2 hours total. Z started a new technique…laughing at everyone else, taunting me with discipline, and repeating every word that is said (but in a blah-blah-blah way). Nothing was working. Nothing. I was beat down to the core and showing the scars of the battle.

I sat him in my lap and had him face me. As clear as I could see, I recall a picture of my friend Keri holding her little girl Eden when she picked her up in China. What I remember from that picture is that Eden was screaming bloody murder, and Keri was crying for Eden. It broke my heart yet gave me a glimpse into the very heart of our Heavenly Father.

I told Z that my heart was sad for him today. I know that he missed Poppa and that he didn’t like it when Poppa was gone. I told him that I know he doesn’t have the words to explain or share his sadness. I told him that I loved him. And, then my eyes filled up with tears as I just said that I was so sad for him today. I saw a look in his eyes that I haven’t seen before. Tears rolled down my face, and he began to wail. We just cried together. We must have looked like a snotty mess (thank you God that all of the other children were merrily making up beds and cleaning upstairs)….. I held him and we continued to cry.

Then, we prayed that God would heal his heart and be His Heavenly Father. I begged God to show grace and patience to me so that I could give it to Zeke. Oh, Father, I beg you for grace to trust You more!

It’s not always easy…sometimes it is painful….sometimes it is ugly…sometimes it hurts like I cannot explain. But, our Father is good, and He has a plan. I don’t understand it, but I know and trust that He is holy and He is just and He is Sovereign. Oh, for grace to trust Him more.

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Sheryl Turner

We are a family living by faith for the sake of Christ alone. We have 5 children; some are biological, and some are adopted. We forget which ones are which.  We are living to make His name known among the nations–follow along on our personal blog.

{Hitting Repeat} Adoption Will Affect Your Biological Children

I have heard it said by others that they would never adopt for fear of how it will affect their biological children.

Since adopting,
our children now:

Love deeper.

Think of others more.

Pray for orphans across the world.

Pray for families adopting by name.

Pray for our sponsored children by name.

Will not let anyone refer to Elijah as their adopted brother,
he is their brother (period).

Save their money to help adoptive families and orphan care ministries.

Share the beauty of adoption.

Share that we were all orphans, adopted through Christ.

I would say they have been affected alright.

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Amy

Amy is the mother of four blessings. She and her husband, Paul, have three biological children and one beautiful blessing from Ethiopia, adopted July 2010. They would love for you to follow their adventures at Filled With Praise.

{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-NHBO1-150x150

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.

{Hitting Repeat} The Gift

I came across this picture today. I’m so thankful that Wes captured one of the sweetest and hardest moments I have ever experienced.

I am forever grateful to Max’s birthmom for giving us the priceless gift of a 7 lb. 11 oz. baby boy.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of her.

We love her dearly.

We pray for her daily.

Will you do me a favor? Please make it a point this week {or as long as you feel led to} to pray for birthmoms and their families. There are moms at this very moment who have chosen adoption as the best option for their baby.

Here are a few ideas to pray for.

* peace about their decision

* healing – physically and emotionally

* a loving support system surrounding them

* a tangible feeling of God’s love for them

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Abby Akers

Abby has been married to her college sweetheart, Wes, since 2003. After 5 years of infertility, they began the journey of domestic adoption. Blessed with a (more than they had planned) open adoption experience, they were able to witness the birth of their first child, Max, in the summer of 2010. Wes and Abby are trusting God as he leads them in their relationship with Max’s birth family. You can follow their story, including their second adoption journey at Akers of Love.

{Hitting Repeat} Expectation vs. Expectancy

There we were, going through another miscarriage. I began wondering if it was wrong for me to continue to pray to God for a baby. Afterall, if parenthood wasn’t in God’s plan for us, we didn’t want to be outside of His divine will for our lives.

But, what would I do with the gaping hole in my heart aching to be filled by a baby!?!? My empty arms and aching heart were sobbing ~ at moments even SCREAMING ~ for God to talk to me!

Didn’t HE put this strong desire to be a mommy in my heart!?? WHY wasn’t He answering my heart’s cry?!? Was I being disobedient for continuing to seek Him for a child, if His answer was consistently “NO”?

Jeff believed we should stay on our knees and seek the Lord. I began to wonder if it was even worth asking for, if God had no intention of bringing us children.

I wondered if I was being selfish in my continued prayers for what God didn’t seem to want to bless me/us with. God assured me one night, through Jeff, that YES! He wanted me/us to continue to seek Him and pray for the desires of our hearts! He wanted us to continue to pray for our children and wait for Him!

Psalms 27:14: “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”

After reading an article one night, Jeff paraphrased for me the difference between expectancy and expectation. He doesn’t recall now where he read it, darn it! I wish I could credit who helped answer such a mystery for me! Allow me to share with you how learning such a difference freed me to keep praying amidst our unanswered prayers!

God wants us to lay the desires of our heart at His feet. He wants us to pursue these desires with confidence in Him. Not confidence in our ability to reach these dreams, but confidence in His ability and willingness to answer our prayers! He yearns to bless us abundantly! His plan for us is GOOD! ALWAYS!

Matthew 21: 22: “And what you ask for in prayer, having faith and believing, you will receive”

He definitely does want us to pray with expectancy ~ belief that He WILL answer our prayers!

Here’s the catch: He wants us to have child-like faith that He will answer ~ but He doesn’t want us to tell Him HOW or WHEN to answer our prayers! He doesn’t want us to pray with expectations of the details. He wants us to pray with excited anticipation and assurance that He will answer our heart’s cry. He just doesn’t want us to go about telling Him how to do it! {ouch!}

Knowing that His plan is good (Jeremiah 29:11), we are to seek Him like a child awakening on Christmas morn, excited beyond all excitement of what awaits us! Such expectancy builds in us hope which stems from belief. Belief in God’s faithfulness ~ more than the details of our dreams!

Our dreams will be fulfilled perfectly, in His timing, in His will! No worries. If His answer differs from our original dream, He will gently transform our heart to match His blessed plan for our lives.

Isaiah 30:21: “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'”

Living with expectancy but without expectation frees us from disappointment, worry, and doubt.

Living with expectancy but without expectation frees us to have hope, to believe. With each answered prayer, it frees us to build more and more trust in our Lord.

Romans 15:13: “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Thank you, Lord, for helping me find your truth in that difficult time. Thank you for helping me find my hope in you again! I do believe! I trust you, Lord, with the creation of our family!

Thank you for introducing to us, this amazing blessing called adoption!

We are coming, my little one(s)! We are coming. And, God is holding you while we wait!

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Debb Marquez

Debbie has been married to the man of her dreams, Jeff, for over 3 years. God has greatly blessed their marriage. And now, God’s handprints can be seen all over their journey to parenthood. God is blessing them with the precious gift of adoption! They have been on the waiting list for an infant boy (or maybe siblings!) for almost 3 months now. You can follow their journey by visiting her blog, Holding God’s Hand in the Journey.

{Hitting repeat} Sameness

I knew it was coming, and here it is. I don’t know if it’s a new phase of self-awareness, or a new confidence that Matthew has to start letting out some of these feelings he has inside, but he’s got some things to get off his chest.

So even though I knew it would come out someday, I was still devastated when he told me the other day–I don’t want brown eyes. I don’t like my eyes. I want green eyes like YOU.

{God give me wisdom}

Oh dear, I really like your brown eyes, I say.

DARK brown, he corrects me. And I NOT, he adds, shaking his head back and forth.

Well, do you know why your eyes look the way they do? Why they are that shape and why they are that color?

NO.

Because everyone born in Korea has eyes shaped like that. Korean people have brown eyes! I wasn’t born in Korea. I don’t get to have eyes like you. I have to have green eyes.

For a second, he is impressed with this information. Being born in Korea is a great source of pride to him right now. But it isn’t quite enough to tip him over. He remains gruff and grumpy with his lot in life. Isaac bounds in the room.

I love my eyes! The shape and the color! I love your eyes too, Matthew! I love your brown eyes!!!

WELL I DON’T.

If there is one thing about Matthew, it is that he has an innate ability to stand firm in his beliefs.

So we sit in the floor of the hallway and begin to discuss how we all look a little bit different. All of our hair is a little bit different. Isaac says that my hair is black (??) and I correct him that it is brown. He counters with DARK BROWN, and I don’t feel this is worth arguing about, so I say yes, I have dark brown hair. Matthew perks up immediately. He is gleeful.

Like me, mama!! You hair is dark brown and my eyes is dark brown! We the same!!!!

Yes! You’re right!!!

Then we all went and stood in front of the bathroom mirror together and stuck out our tongues. YES! Our tongues are all pink. That’s one way we are the same! We all pulled up our shirts to reveal belly buttons. Look, we all have belly buttons! The same again! We examined our arms next to each other and realized none of our skin is exactly alike. Isaac’s is pinker. Mine is very freckly. Matthew’s is bronze and clear. We examined hands and earlobes and looked for the presence of widows peaks until everybody was satisfied that we have some things in common but also many differences. Matthew’s spirits were good.

When Jason came home and sat down with us for dinner, Matthew asked with a huge grin, “Hey Dad, do you know what’s the SAME??”. He answered excitedly–my eyes and mommy’s hair. Dark brown! The same!!!

It may have been my imagination, but I believe he was sitting up straighter than ever in his chair that night.

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Elizabeth Wood

Elizabeth is a happily married mama to 2 boys. She and her husband have a 6 1/2-year old bio son, Isaac, and her younger son (6 year old, Matthew) joined their family as a toddler through international adoption from South Korea’s waiting child program. Being only 6 months apart in age, the boys are virtual twins but couldn’t be more different. Feel free to visit their family blog, Everyday the Wonderful Happens, where Elizabeth blogs about the boys, their antics, her son’s special needs, her beliefs, adoption, and pretty much anything else that tickles her fancy.

Messages Through Music

I’ve been meaning to write this for a couple weeks, but we’re in the midst of a really tough season with the older kids. It’s nothing we didn’t expect or that’s not normal, but it’s kept us busy and exhausted nonetheless. It’s also made these words even more appreciated than they were when I meant to blog them.

Ty’s current favorite song is One Thing Remains. We’ve been listening to it a lot at home and singing it a lot at church.

The chorus echoes these words again and again…

Your love never fails it never gives up it never runs out on me.

Imagine if you believed the opposite in your core–that love always fails, and it has given up and run out on you. That is what our kids from hard places believe. Their behavior reflects their insecurity because their brain dictates survival and not logic. Traditional consequences are not just ineffective but damaging. Nonsensical arguments and hurtful words reign. Behavior is meant to push you away but also screams, “PLEASE!! Don’t leave me like everyone else.”

It will probably take years of love and consistency to change their paradigm. My head knows this, but my heart is frustrated at the ridiculousness that defines my day-to-day life. My flesh wants to give them what their words are asking for, but my heart is begging for the grace to give them what they need.

Enter song #2. Take My Life. Here are the lyrics that need to define my life if we’re all going to emerge on the other side.

Here am I, all of me.
Take my life, it’s all for Thee.

Take my will and make it Thine
It shall be no longer mine.

My new motto: If you thought marriage was sanctifying, try adoption.

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Melissa Corkum

Melissa Corkum

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). She resides in Maryland where they started a ministry called The Grafted. The Grafted exists to help the local Body of Christ connect to information, resources, and organizations in order to develop a compassionate culture that cares for orphans, vulnerable children, and widows. 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.

 

 

What Else Would You Rather Be Doing?

Complaining
Sometimes a mom just has to have a good complaining session, you know what I mean? Well, at least I know I do. It’s never fruitful or helpful to let the session last too long, but sometimes I just have to “get it out.” I remember driving my big extended 12 passenger van one day fully engaged in one of these “sessions.” I was concerned about multiple issues with our children, all of which were either rooted in adoption issues or were exacerbated by them. At that point all seven of our children were living at home and in school, and I remember feeling simply overwhelmed by all the needs. So, I’m driving the van, painfully aware of all that was not right in our family, and completely unaware at the moment of all that was good! And that led me to thinking how I just wished I could just go away– by myself! Anyone else “out there” know that feeling?
The “I’m DONE!” feeling?

The Lord’s Response
I’m sharing this with you because I’ll always remember that particular complaining session. I remember because of the Lord’s response to me. How kind of Him to listen to my complaints that I had not even turned into prayers. He asked me one simple question. I find that He has a way of doing that– of asking a question instead of giving an answer. And somehow the question, coming from Him, releases the freedom I so desire and so need to move forward.
(You’d think an answer is what we need, but somehow the answer with all its multifaceted beauty is tucked into the folds of the question. I think God enjoys my process of discovery! Proverbs 25:2 says that “It is God’s privilege to conceal things and the king’s privilege to discover them.”)

So in the midst of my complaining He asked me this:
“What would you rather be doing?”

As I am typing this I find my eyes stinging with tears once again at His kindness to me in that one question. For hidden within that simple question were great depths of His love, both for me and for my children.

A Work of Powerful Love
Adoption is a beautiful thing. Not the kind of beauty that is soft and gentle, butterflies and bunnies. Its beauty is rugged and powerful and sometimes even frightening in it’s scope. What a glorious thing to be a part of! What a privilege to co-labor with the God of the Universe as He pours out His love on these children. Indeed, what would I rather be doing?! To be an intimate player in a work of eternal significance is too lofty a thing. And yet, God has called me and many of you reading right now to partner with Him in the miraculous transformation of an orphan into a true son or daughter. That He would condescend to allow me to partner with Him, that He would call my name to join Him in His eternal purposes and will– I am overwhelmed at such an invitation.

A Work of Rebuilding and Restoring Love
Adoption is a beautiful thing. It is the work of rebuilding and raising up, of repair and restoration. It is the very work that Jesus gave His life to make available to us. Again, what else would I rather be doing? To have the awesome and deeply humbling opportunity to participate in putting an end to what are often generations of destructive living, resulting in great pain and disfunction, and to then be a part of the restoration work made available through God’s love found in Jesus. For many of our children (certainly not all adopted and foster children fit in this description, but most it seems) there are generations of ancient ruins and age-old foundations that God wants to rebuild, and many whose inheritance apart from adoption is not one of wholeness and abundant life. How amazing is it that we can be a part of the giving and receiving of a new inheritance, of a complete legacy shift, so that future generations no longer inherit abandonment, rejection, survival and pain. To see our children embrace love and then have the freedom to give love, to see them learn to enjoy life and to make plans for their future with excited anticipation– this is just incredible! Oh what a shift adoption is making in the trajectory of a generational line. Is this not amazing to be a part of?! It is the gospel at work and it is powerful and oh so good!!

The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. (Isaiah 58:11-12)

A Work of Intense Love
Adoption is a beautiful thing. What other occupation would I prefer? Yes it is a work that is difficult and sometimes overwhelming. And I am thankful for the trend in the adoption community to share some of the harsher realities of adoption. Indeed, it is necessary that we not “sugar coat” the more intense nature of this beautiful occupation. But I also see that in the authentic sharing we can sometimes lose sight of what it is we are actually doing.

Gotcha Day for the Templetons
For it is a beautiful thing to be a part of. And I don’t mean just those amazing moments when you your child comes home for the first time and there is great celebration and joy, or when your child calls you mommy or daddy for the first time, or when she seeks you out for comfort rather than retreating into herself, or when he pats your cheek and tells you he loves you more than anyone in the world, or even when she thanks you for adopting her. I also mean those tough and sometime cutting moments when she says she wishes she never was adopted, or that you aren’t his “real” mother, or when she goes into a violent rage causing the whole family to retreat from the pain of it all, or when he shuts you out, unable to accept your love. All of these scenarios are beautiful I believe. Beautiful because it is for these situations, both the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ that God brought our children into our homes.

Dear friends, if you are in a difficult season with your child think of this– was it not for this very situation you are dealing with that God Himself brought your daughter or son into your family? Did He not look ahead into time when He saw the plight of your child and say to Himself, “where can I find a safe place for this precious child to live so that I can go about my work of restoration and rebuilding? It will be a costly work, and it will be years in the doing. Who can I trust with the messiness of such a work? Where is a safe place where I can pour out my healing love and where this sometimes trying work can be accomplished?” He looked to His people and saw you and me. He saw His servants who know how, when sun-scorched and weak, to enjoy the “spring that never fails.”

A Work of Enduring Love
Adoption is a beautiful thing. For in it we participate in God’s enduring love. The scriptures are full of this phrase, “His love endures forever.” There is a story being told in the kingdom; it is the story of this enduring love. And you and I have been invited to enter in to the story. We have been given the shocking honor to participate in the kind of love that is solid, immovable and patient. Not our love– for those adjectives don’t describe the quality of my love! No, this is the story of God’s love that I get to enjoy and share.
To endure is to hold out against, to sustain with out yielding, to last, to bear with patience. It is lasting and it is permanent. What else would I rather being doing with my life than to join into the telling of this love story?! What price is too great for the opportunity day after day to participate and co-labor with enduring love?!

So, when I get started in one of my complaining sessions it is best for me to step back and ask myself the question that sets me free from whatever disappointment and discouragement is in the now–
For indeed, What else would I rather be doing?

Oh Lord God, nothing else. Thank you for allowing me to walk alongside my child and to be a well-watered garden, a source of life. Teach me how to receive the sustenance You are for me when I feel sun-scorched and weary. What an honor it is, Father, to be allowed a role in this amazing story of restoration. And thank you that you are busy doing a work of enduring love in me as well. So, Father, I invite you to keep telling your story of enduring love in my home, in my life, in my family, in my heart. For it is true Lord, adoption is a beautiful thing.

____________________________

Beth Templeton

Beth has been married to her husband, Stephen, for 25 years. They have seven children, ages 16 to 22. Several years after giving birth to three girls, God called their family into the adventure and blessing of adoption. In 2000, they brought home a brother and sister, ages 5 and 10, from Russia. Then they returned to the same orphanage 18 months later and brought home two more brothers, ages 7 and 10. Stephen and Beth serve as leaders in their local church. Beth leads a ministry called Hope at Home, dedicated to help adoptive and foster parents encounter the Father’s heart for their families, partnering with God to transform orphans into sons and daughters. For more parenting insight and encouragement in the Lord go to the Hope at Home blog.

Adoption Perspective…Fears and Transitions

I wanted to share about one thing I learned in helping our kids transition into our care… and how fear plays a part in those transitions. And as part of my theme for this blog is “perspective” I want to share how I experienced a huge perspective change in the reality and nature of fear.

I wrote about all the ways I tried to help our big boy transition into our care… and really I think we did a knock out job of helping him feel safe, secure and that we love him and he could trust us. In some ways, his transition was far more easy for me to understand and feel compassion for than it was for me to understand with Thea. I think I saw the physical fear in his face and eyes when I met him. He really did wonderful and had very little problems adjusting to us and our new role in his life.

That brings me to where fear took hold of me. We were always really uncertain if adding 2 new kids was a “good idea”… it was a subject of months of weighing and wrestling with… there were so many up sides for our kids (the new ones), a few downsides, and we knew a bigger and heavier commitment and responsibility on our shoulders and parents. Then there was always the thought, “What if we get a child that needs more than we are able (or feel capable) of giving them?” It was not an easy choice. But at some point early last summer we realized that there was a series of events that had lead us to both of our kids, and we had tried to find other alternatives (particularly for our daughter) but all fell through nearly immediately. We were certain she was meant to be our daughter.

But, then again, after meeting our sweet girl in September I had a bunch of doubts all over again if we could be the kind of parents and family that *she* needed. It was as if all those fears and uncertainty returned to me with a vengeance. It was almost like drowning in fear! For one, I had gone home with a sweet little boy who really made our life easy… we enjoyed, for those 3+ weeks, a family-life that was almost simple. And I liked it. We knew that we’d most likely return for Thea in January… when we were ready and able to give her the time and attention we thought she would need… but then almost immediately we had another court date for her! I was immobilized in this fear that “I didn’t have what it took” to be a mom of 5 or to be her mom!

I was also worried about getting on the plane to go back because I thought that we’d lose our court date again, for legitimate reasons due to circumstances that were taking place in country at that time. I was so worried and not wanting to go back that Tim had to make a deal with me like you would an 8 year old going to camp, his “deal” was if after one week things had not worked out I could come home, and he had already booked that ticket so I knew he was telling the truth. I feared the unknown, all the hard things I had to do on my own and I felt completely unable to skillfully take care of the possible problems that I could potentially come up while I was there! Then there was Thea and all of the hard things we had dealt with when I had cared for her the first time.

Now I feel really silly about it all… silly, that I should have known God would work it all out and that this was never up to us, but on His timing and in His will!… but all I could feel was that overwhelming dread and fear!

But… the fear was real, even if the circumstances were just possibilities.

Walking through that fog of fear I some how found my way back to her and “just did the next thing” for about 5 days. After those days I realized that instead of a screaming terrified baby, I had a really sweet, and happy baby that wanted me… as her mom. All of the logistics and issues in court worked themselves out… perfectly. Amazingly. I was humbled.

For three days after that I felt like I had been hit by a truck… it might have been jet lag, a baby that was up a few times at night or something else, but I really just had to lay around and rest because I felt so depleted! I even worried that maybe I had gotten a “bug” or was beginning to get malaria… but I didn’t. I was just wiped out… I now think it was from all the stress and fear that I had surrounding me that week or two prior.

Fear is such a weird thing.

It is an emotion, but it has physical, mental and even the ability to change how you view people and circumstances. I physically felt different during that week, my stomach in constant knots, feeling hyper, unable to sleep and unable to relax and even slightly suspicious and paranoid.

I have never ever felt those things before in my life… or at least to that degree and in that overwhelming of a way! There were times I had to say, “Marci, this just doesn’t make sense what you are feeling! You need to think other thoughts…” and I would pray.

And you know, eventually, I realized that must be exactly how sweet Thea felt for sometime (if not much longer). When I realized that that is what she was going through I immediately felt so so broken at my inability to have understanding for her! I feel so glad I had that horrible week of fear just to understand how she must have felt too!

I understood her restlessness at night, her fits of screaming, her drowsiness all day long and her desire just to “shut off” and zone out. She was afraid! She was dreading the unknown, she felt suspicious and untrusting of me and others, she felt wiped out and even potentially sick feeling. And when we moved rooms it was highly scary and alarming to her because she didn’t know what that would mean for her!

Again, I am so so thankful that I went through that horrible week… it wasn’t the week that was really horrible, but my fear in the unknown of what that week might hold.

In one of the books that we read on adoption that seemed to have the most “sense” and logic to it, the author talks about how it is one of the most important tasks for parents of adopted kids to help them have “felt safety”, it isn’t that it is truly unsafe around them, but that they perceive more fear in situations, more insecurity and that our job is to help them understand and feel safe in our care!

That is what God did for me. While I was in the airport, half way there, I sort of had a breakdown… I just didn’t want to get on that last plane to UG… I wanted to run home! I was internally wrestling with God saying, “God, I want to go home! I know (because that was what fear was telling me) I will get to UG and be told the judge will not show up, I’ll wait for weeks all alone and I am not even sure we should be bringing Thea home… I am so afraid… I can’t do this on my own! Why does your Word not tell me what I should do?” I felt this voice say, “David… David was afraid… look to his words.”

I opened Psalm 1

“1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers. judgment,
4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.”
Every word was like cool water to me, it calmed me, gave me perspective and peace. Every day of my 26 day trip I read the next Psalm in order… every day it addressed the need or fear I had for that day! It was “felt safety” for me. It reminded me I have a Father who cares, provides, is trust-worthy and in control… and I need not fear.

The last verse I read on concluding my 26 day second trip was Psalm 26:12,
“My feet stand on level ground; in the great congregation I will praise the LORD.”

That is what our God does for us. He helps us overcome fears and to stand on the level ground of Him… so that we can give Him glory! That is also what we are to do for our kids.

How can we be that kind of parent for our kids?
Do we brush off their fears as silly or do we help address their fears as something real, but help them see the situation through that new perspective?

______________________________

Marci Miller

Marci Miller and her husband Tim live and work at a camp for socially and economically disadvantaged youth, many of whom are foster or former foster children. This is their 8th summer at CBX and their 11th summer in camp ministry.They currently have 5 children, ages 7, 6, 5, 4 and 2 years old. The 6 and 2 year olds came home through the miracle of adoption late in 2011. Marci blogs about their adventures in parenting, ministry, homeschooling and adoption at She Can Laugh

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