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 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.
In Moscow at least, the children leave the orphanage “homes” when they are 17 or 18 years old and the government provides an apartment (to own, not just rent) and tuition for a college education. Mostly, she said, these young adults are encouraged to learn a trade.
When we heard this, our initial reaction was something like that’s actually not too bad, but then our facilitator went on: the young men and women who have spent their whole lives in an orphanage are often unable to cope with the world once they leave. They’ve had meals prepared, clothes and school supplies bought, they’ve lived in community their entire lives, and they just don’t have the skills to live alone. They become terribly lonely. The worst, she said, are holidays. When every other college student returns to Mom and Dad for New Years or summer holidays, these orphaned students have no one. Just think for a minute when you were in college or just starting out in the world. Think about how many times you called home, emailed, or visited your parents to ask for advice or just for a hot meal and come company. These young adults have no one.
Many of the young children in baby homes right now are the offspring of young men and women who grew up as orphans themselves. Having grown up without an example to follow, they simply do not know how to parent.
There are organizations that exist to help these young people not just survive but thrive. They provide mentorship, classes for life skills, and invaluable direction for those who don’t know where to turn. We should remember to pray for them, especially now.
God who guides our every step,
Today we pray for the young men and women who have just left or are about to leave their orphanage homes. They are in deep need of your love and guidance. We pray you will provide for them in very practical ways.
Give them a safe place to live, food to eat, an education, and a way to be fulfilled in their work. We thank you that the government provides many of these things in Russia.
However, we know that it is not enough. We also pray that you will bring older and wiser people into their lives to provide wisdom and direction. We pray you will give them a community in which they experience real love. Give them a place to go for the holidays, someone to call for advice, and a loving hand to hold as they figure out how to make their way in the world.
Provide them with spiritual direction through your church. Bring them missionaries, clergy members, and believers to share your gospel truth. May they find unwavering peace and lifelong direction in your precious word.
As adoptions in Russia close, we pray that you will bless the people and organizations who help these older orphans with all that they need. Make them a blessing in their country.
We thank you for every good and perfect gift; we know they all come for you.
Be with these oldest orphans today, we pray in Jesus’ name.
Jillian Burden and her husband John welcomed their son home from
Russia in November 2012. Follow their journey to adoption and
parenting joy at www.addingaburden.com.
Two years ago you came into this world!
There is a story there, one I have bits and pieces of. All babies get here through labors and tryings and struggles. I am sure there was giving up of hope, some anguish and dispare, but then eventual sweet deliverance. I know there was an almighty Hand of grace and provision over your somewhat amazing entrance to the world. You came into this very scary world and lived. You amaze me!
It is day’s like today when all I feel is fight from you that I remember that little fact about you… you have fought fights I will never know.
Tonight when I laid you down for bed I asked you gently, “What is your problem today, huh? Why are you having such a hard time?” Then I am transported to what I think that day might have been like and I remember a baby with amazingly soft hair and rosebud lips was fighting to be born, fighting to live and fighting to not be left on her own. Oh what a trivial life I live, sweet one!
Sometimes I ache to just have been a fly on the wall of the room you came into being in.
I have this one almost sacred photo of the day you were born. It is beyond special to me. It conveys feelings and thoughts that are real and raw. Everyone looking someplace other that at you, the star of the day. Most birth photos don’t look like this and I know that it wasn’t any one’s fault, they just didn’t know what to do with a situation that was as cloudy as the photo.
Your birth was planned very specifically to grant you life! Simply amazing! You also had so many things take place to bring you to our family. Sometimes it boggles my mind. Sometimes it makes me mad. Sometimes I don’t understand why others wouldn’t have cared for you like they should have. It still amazes me because those events were something utterly out of my control and brought into action through visibly unalterable events by the One who did have a plan for you.
Even when we met, I wasn’t sure about you. This is a fact that I have only uttered to a few people. When I met you I thought… “God? What am I suppose to do here?” and His fairly clear prompting was, “Marci, do the next thing and do it rightly.” We did that, and it brought you home eventually. His plan has been perfectly wrought in the annals of time! His will could not be thwarted, over and over again this proved true. I am thankful I had the where-with-all to listen and obey.
Today I held you and your fought me.
Then you’d kiss me.
Then you’d fight me.
Then you’d say “Hey Mom??? Sorry…”
Then you’d fight me.
Then you’d lay your head on my chest and seep in.
This isn’t normal, but it was today. It is ok Thea. You don’t have to be sorry, never never, for struggling. You are a survivor, but you don’t have to fight anymore. You are home.
Know that your birth was a joyous event! It made me a mom for the fifth time! You joined our family that day. Your birth mom became mother that day! She learned to love in real ways. You have made me a far better person. You have brought joy to grandparents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends. On the day of your birth I know God was unfolding a plan for you… all the way to the end, for His glory and for your benefit. I am excited, baby girl, to see where it goes!
You were named Thea Agnes Katsiime because we know God is Holy and in that we Give Thanks!
I know this is sort of a serious birthday letter, but you are two and won’t read it for a long time.
I hope it brings you perspective… because perspective is priceless.
Happy 2nd Birthday my sweet baby!
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…
2 years ago today we were walking through the halls of what had been Asher’s home for 23 months.
Still in shock over being handed a 17 lb 23 month old who had never had anything solid in his mouth.
Who wasn’t walking, talking, or even crying. Whose spine I felt every time I held him.
I was angry. The other child that was adopted from this place on the same day was healthy, chubby, running all over and babbling all kinds of Chinese. And was younger than Asher by a few months. I was anxious to see just what kind of place this was and try to put the pieces together of a very, very fuzzy puzzle.
It was cold and dark inside the building. Colorful but sterile. The staff were sweet, smiling at us, and welcoming. A nanny walked by with a basin of bottles, with large holes cut out of the nipples so the kids would drink fast and be done so the next chore could be done. Strangely quiet for being “home” to about 100 children.
We didn’t get anymore answers to our fuzzy puzzle. All we were told was that they had tried to “fix” his hands, but that “it didn’t work.” (how exactly you fix missing fingers is beyond me)
But then our time was over. We said our goodbyes. And we participated in one of the greatest miracles I believe I’ll ever be a part of:
We walked out of that building with our son.
That my friends, is a miracle.
The Lord had His eyes on this child when he was abandoned in a box. In His Sovereignty, moved the heart of a man to find him, take him to the police station, and then to an orphanage that participated in International Adoption. In a city of 7 million people.
And we got to be a part of that plan and participate in the miracle. I’ll tell you one thing, no one ever struts when they are adopting. Adoption has been the most humbling experience of my life. Hands down. If there’s ever any pride in this process, the Lord is not in it. Saying yes to this calling ought to make us fall on our faces to the ground and just weep over how BIG God is and how GOOD He is and how SOVEREIGN He is. And BEG Him for wisdom and understanding on how to love and parent these gifts He’s given us.
We got in the van, and drove away that day. Feeling more guilty than I ever have in my entire life that I only had ONE child in my arms. That 100 were still in that place. It did and does still feel, like not enough.
Today, there is healing.
There is eating and running and singing and giggling.
There is peaceful sleep and security.
There are lots and lots of hot wheels.
And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
The miracle is still unfolding.
Happy 2 years home, Asher Stephen.
God’s gonna use you BIG, buddy.
You are indeed fulfilling your name.
Happy and Crowned.
Emily and Jay have been married for 11 years and have 5 childen–Avery 8, Ally 6, Annalyse 4, Ashley 3, and (finally) our BOY, Asher 2. Ashley and Asher were adopted from China and were both special needs adoptions. Jay is an associate pastor at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, GA, and Emily spends her days chasing toddlers and waiting in line at carpool. Her favorite place in the world is in her van, all alone with the worship music blaring! She would count it an honor to have you be encouraged at www.ourhimpossiblejourney.blogspot.com.
I think one of the biggest misgivings people have about adoption is wondering if they can love an adopted child as much as a biological child.
I’ve been asked it.
And I’ve answered it in various ways….depending on where we were on this journey.
I’m going to be honest here.
Back when we adopted Rylie, deep down, I might have answered in a way that showed my doubt. She was tough. And a lot of the time, I was faking it. And a lot of the time, I wasn’t very good at faking it.
And I wondered.
Can I really love this kid? I mean, really love her like my others?
Without convincing myself? Without trying to convince other people?
And if I can….when? When will it happen?
Because it wasn’t instantaneous. And I was completely unsure if she would ever really feel like my daughter.
It was hard to love a kid who gave you absolutely nothing in return. Who fought you every step of the way. It just was. And I’m only human, so I’ll admit that.
With Jude, it was much more instantaneous. Because he was so darn lovable. And he made loving him easy.
Same as Jonah.
Same as Reagan.
Love at first sight.
Now back to Rylie….
Let me say…unequivocally….without question…I. LOVE. THIS. GIRL.
I love her as much as I love my other kids. I don’t always get along with her as well. But I love her.
She doesn’t make me mushy with the warm fuzzies.
She is usually pushing my buttons in some way….and I sense she gets a great bit of joy out of that.
But still, I love her.
I love her in a “I can’t handle her dealing with any more injustice and tragedy in her life than she has already experienced” kind of way. In a vengeful kind of way. In a fighting kind of way.
Because her life hasn’t been fair. And it’s wounded her in a lot of ways.
But I venture to say that in the end, SHE will be the one I am the most proud of.
Because when I look at her on the playground at preschool…..playing by herself because the other kids can’t understand her, I realize how brave she is. And I realize how much I admire her tenacity.
And I realize that it makes my heart physically hurt to see her experience that.
And I want to fix it and shelter her from it.
She’s got a lot to overcome. She risks a lot of hurt and rejection coming her way in the future.
And I know that loving her doesn’t change that.
But I hope it helps her get through it.
I hope it helps her realize her value. Her worth.
I hope it shows others a glimpse of God’s love for us….despite how utterly unlovable we sometimes are.
So….can you? Can you love an adopted child as much as a biological one?
Well, let’s just say if you mess with her, I will mess. you. up.
And if that’s not love, then I don’t know what is.
Jennifer and Rush Middleton have been married for 11 years and have 4 kids, Jonah (8), Reagan (5), Rylie (3) and Jude (2). Rylie came home from China in 2010 and Jude just arrived earlier this year. The Middletons have been through the easy and the hard of bringing a child into their family, yet the awesome gift of adoption has rocked their worlds in more ways than they can count. You can check out their blog about family, life, adoption, cleft lip/palate and other randomness at Apple Pie and Egg Rolls.