Handling Questions With Grace

Our response to others around us

{Hitting Repeat} No debate

This post has been being written over and over again in my brain several times over the last few months. Last night I couldn’t sleep at all over it, so it’s time to get it out and put it to rest so I can get some rest! Way to often recently, an ugly debate has been raising its head on social network sites and quite honestly, I believe it grieves the Lord, and fuels the enemy’s fire to steal kill and destroy.

Domestic Adoption
vs.
International Adoption

If you have sensitive toes, you may want to stop reading about now. Because some things just need to be said.

First of all:

This is an argument we should NOT be having.

Disunity in the Body of Christ is a disgrace to the Lord. John 17:23 says that by our unity, the world will know that we are Christians and they would know how much we love people. Ephesians 4:13 says that unity is a sign of maturity. We are immature believers if we are arguing over this issue. We are NOT showing the world Jesus and we are NOT showing the world how much He loves them. If you want to talk to a family about their motivations behind one or the other, do it in private. I am 100% willing to bet that you will come to complete understand about their reasoning. At the end of the day, this argument only brings DISTRACTION from the real issue….every child deserves a family. And the enemy is having a party if he can take the focus off these children, and onto one another and ridiculous arguing.

Second:

No one child is more deserving than another.

I have worked for an adoption agency for 5 years now. The first three were spent in the domestic program. Over the course of that 3 years, I got to be in the delivery room 32 times to welcome precious children into this world. I took custody of 32 babies and handed over the majority of those tiny, squirming infants into the arms of adoptive mamas and daddies. I helped new parents figure out infant car seats and walked sobbing birth mothers out of the hospital and drove them home. Often times, the birth mom didn’t want to see the newborn. I spent many hours, in empty L&D rooms, with fresh newborns, rocking and praying over them, assuring them that they had a family coming. And they always did. More often than not, I was in tears as well just watching the process.
Those babies are just as orphaned as the ones in China. They are no more deserving of a family……and to say, “why go overseas when you can adopt right here in your neighborhood” is a very western, selfish, american, ugly, thing to say.

NO one child is more deserving than another.

NOT. ONE.

I dare you to look at my children and say that they were less deserving because they were born in China. I bet not one person who has made that statement above would believe that if they spent one hour with my kids. Adoption is a picture of the very gospel….and to say one person is more deserving than another is a slap in the face to our call to care for the orphan. People who make this debate would never comment on a missionaries post and say, “why are you going to serve overseas when there are people right here who need Jesus?” Doesn’t that sound absurd? It sounds just as absurd when you ask it of the orphan.

Third:

Families go where God calls them.

Why did we adopt from China?
We had children there.
The Lord made that crystal clear.
We would’ve gone to China, Africa, Arkansas, or the North Pole if the Lord had asked us to. The Lord calls us the Body of Christ….we each have a function. If we were all called to the same place and the same thing, the world would be boring and lots would go undone. If we were all called to care for China’s orphans, the rest would go unnoticed. When families call me and ask about the process, the first thing I say, every single time, is “pray about WHERE.” Then call me back when God tells you, and we’ll move forward. Praise the Lord we are all called to different places!!! We get to be His hands and feet right here in our backyards and overseas!!! That ought to make us rejoice, not debate!!

Lastly:

Be respectful and prayerful.

People need Jesus. Children need families. Families need children. Before you take a stab at an adoptive parents motivation, consider what YOU might do. If you look around and you aren’t doing a thing, please keep your opinions to yourself. Adoptive parenting is HARD ENOUGH. Adoption brings baggage. Even to a two day old infant. It’s a lifetime process and is a beautiful thing. It’s a good hard. Instead of debating, we should be praying for one another. Asking the Lord what we can do. Holding the hand of a broken mama who’s birth mom has changed her mind, and the baby has to go back. Bringing dinner to the family who just came home from two weeks overseas and can’t get their days and nights turned back around. Serve one another! (1 Peter 4:10)

Toes ok?

Put it to rest, friends. Give it up. Let it go. If you are called to this road, celebrate it with one another. It will change you…….and it’s not a glamorous life. Adoption changes the way you see the Lord, changes your checkbook and how you spend your money, and gives you a burden that some days is all consuming. If you haven’t been on this road, respectfully keep your opinions to yourself. Be the Body of Christ that we are called to be to one another and to a dying world that needs Jesus like nobody’s business. And if we are going to fight over something, let it be:

Philippians 1:27
Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.

my lil’ fighter

________________________________________

Emily Flynt

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.
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{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.

________________________________________

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.

{Hitting repeat} Yes, I’m an adoptive mother. No, I’m not a saint

Important to realize, we adopt not because we are rescuers. No, we adopt because we are the rescued…
David Platt

We went to dinner on Monday night, and an all too common scene took place. One of the waitresses stopped by our table and said, “The owner said you guys adopted him. That’s awesome.” At first I wasn’t bothered. I just smiled, told her that he’d been home 17 months and that he was from Ethiopia. Then I mentioned that we have a little girl in Ethiopia who will hopefully be home in a few months. She responded with, “Oh you guys are such nice people. What a wonderful thing you did.” I smiled and said my usual response, “He is a blessing to us. ” But she wouldn’t stop. Over and over she said, “you’re just wonderful people…. what a nice thing to do!” Then she proceeded to just stand there and stare at us for awhile. I don’t know what she was hoping to see but it left us feeling a bit like we were on display at the zoo. She finally left, and I was left with the now familiar annoyed/frustrating feeling.

Here’s the thing. I’m not a saint. I’m a mother – just like any other mother in the world.

I am cranky in the morning before I have my cup of coffee.

Sometimes I get frustrated sometimes with my strong willed toddler and have to work hard to control my temper.

Sometimes the laundry gets piled up and there have been times when John comes out to tell me he’s out of underwear.

Sometimes I give Mareto candy and plop him in front of the TV just because I’m tired and I need a break.

I don’t love waking up at 3am with a teething child and sometimes (like last night) I cry while rocking him because it’s taking so long and I’m so tired.

Sometimes I get tired, or hungry, or selfish and I snap at my husband.

Sometimes I get mad at perfectly innocent waitresses who are just trying to be nice and understand our family that looks a bit different than most families.

Sometimes I just want to go out with my child and not be stared at by strangers and asked by the cashier if he’s “mine.”

BUT ALWAYS

I feel incredible grateful for the gift of my child. Full arms are better than empty arms any time of the day… or night.

I look at the tiny shirts and pants I fold and think of how long I waited for this and feel so much love for my little man who creates impossible stains on his clothes.

I enjoy morning snuggles and hugs – pre or post coffee.

I struggle with maintaining consistency in Mareto’s training and discipline because he is so darn cute and I just want to give in to all his wants.

I miss him just a bit when I do get little mommy breaks and am so thankful to be with him again when my break is over.

I choose rocking him over leaving him in his crib because I love him and want to comfort him and meet his needs no matter how late it is or how tired I am.

I am thankful for my husband who is an incredible father and loves us so well.

I am so thankful that God chose adoption for our family.

Yep. I’m a mom, just like every other mom. I’m not perfect and I mess up daily. But at the end of every day I lay it all in the hands of my Father and ask him to make something beautiful out of my mistakes. I’m not “good.” I’m not doing a “nice thing.” I’m not a “rescuer.” I’m just a mom trying her hardest and leaving the rest up to God – praying that He’ll make up the difference… especially on days when the gap is incredibly large.

 ________________________________________

Lauren Casper

Lauren Casper has been married to her amazing husband, John, for 7 years. After enduring painful years of infertility and the loss of two babies, they embarked on the journey of adoption and brought their son Mareto home from Ethiopia in February 2011. They will be traveling soon to bring home their daughter from Ethiopia as well. Lauren has a passion for Africa, orphan care, adoption, infertility and pregnancy loss awareness, and writing. You can find her at her blog Traded Dreams.

Will You Adopt Again?

I think Arie was home for just over one month when someone asked me this question for the first time.

“Will you adopt again?”

It didn’t catch me off guard because I’d asked myself this question a lot. During the fundraising. After the home study. After the first trip. In the middle of our court trip. When Arie came home. A week after he came home. Two weeks. Three weeks. A month.

But asking a new mom if she wants to adopt again when the adoption is in progress or shortly completed, is sort of like asking a new mom if she wants more kids when she’s in the middle of labor. Or those long, sleepless night with a colicky baby.

Theoretically she’ll probably tell you yes, but it’s also a lot to get her head around.

The process of adoption is hard. For us, the fundraising, home study, paperwork, and of course the travel was almost all-consuming. When we remember that very long year, it’s hard to imagine doing it again.

But then of course, we think about our son…

…and the way he wakes up from his nap and waits for us to come and get him. I think about the cautious look he wears when he sees me peeking in the door, wondering is it time to get up? Am I allowed to be awake? And the smile he wears when instead of it’s nap time now I say, wakey wakey! Did you have a good nap?

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I think about that timid, obedient little boy we met at the orphanage and then I see our little Arie- still obedient, but walking around with a new swagger. And lounging on our furniture like he owns the place. Like he belongs here. Like this is his home at last.

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I think about the little boy we knew in Moscow who rejected almost every food we gave him but scarfed down whole bananas in three or four bites, struggling to control something in his strange new life. And now I watch with total delight as he digs his hands into the cookie dough to pull out as many chocolate chips as he can grasp. He eats them with a sly grin on his face and a sparkle in his eye and I think to myself that these are the simple gifts of belonging to a family.

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I remember holding him in July when we first met him and I remember the way his body flopped out and away from me. He’d been walking on his own two feet for so long, he didn’t know how to be carried. Then I watch as he climbs onto the couch with his stretched out papa, imitating what he sees with endless giggles, and then falling into his father’s chest.

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I remember that endless paperwork. I remember the giant doses of stress. I remember the long flights. The home study. The fingerprinting. The being-on-a-first-name-basis at Fed-Ex. The feeling like it was too much and that it would never end.

And then I look at Arie and I think about how immensely blessed I am. Not just to be a mom at last, but to have been used by God to change a life. I think to myself that all my angst-filled questions about what I’m going to do with my life have been laid to rest because I feel like I’ve done something. I can’t imagine anything greater in life than to receive a divine calling and to answer it.

I was really hard but it was worth it.

When I think about that, I think that yes I’d like to adopt again, if God calls us. And honestly? I’m praying he does.

_______________________________

Don’t forget about the easy way you can support adoption and care for orphans…through shopping. Go find some gifts for your family and friends…or yourself…HERE.

_______________________________

Jillian Burden is still adjusting to this beautiful thing called motherhood; she and her husband are still new parents to a son by way of a Russian adoption. While her belly might not have expanded, her heart and her faith sure grew as her family did! You can read about this soul stretching journey to parenthood on her blog.

Questions of men. Answers of Him.

The Word is eternal and it is true.
And it tells us that these, days, and us, men, are like grass.
We are here today and gone tomorrow.
But, oh, how we often live as if that is not true.
And how we fill our heads and hearts with doubts, fears, and questions.
As if this was our home and our destination.
As if there was not Glory waiting on the other side.
Surely, I have seen my own tendency towards these thoughts.

Jessica Cooksey 2

September 18, 2011 is our oldest son, Adam’s birthday.
It came unexpected, to us.
Husband and I were playing badminton on that muggy hot Indian evening.
We did not know of the baby that was being born in our rural hospital.
That precious baby, whose unformed body had been created by a good God.
But, whose unformed body, puzzled us, mankind.
Our precious Adam entered the world without eyelids, a severe cleft lip and palate, a partly absent nose, and severe webbing of the legs.
There are diagnoses for these things.
And his is “Bartsocas Papas Popliteal Pterygium Syndrome”.
It is a bit overwhelming, is it not?
And if you really look into it, you will see it is often referred to as the
“Lethal Pterygium Syndrome”

When husband, a doctor, and I, a nurse, read those words, we grasped the severity.
Maybe you do too.

But, we also read something else alongside this diagnosis.
We read from the Word, Living
He said “Your eyes saw my unformed body, every day was ordained for me before one of them came to be”.
The psalmist, David, scribed those words.
So if the Creator’s eyes sees unformed bodies and brings them into this world with breath in their lungs, then He created this Adam for a purpose.
His first days were heavy, but a silver lining revealed a Hope unseen.
An adoption story that would move mountains.

For this husband and this wife, they had already been adopted.
Into an eternal family.
They knew that they were more like Adam than people realized.
Spiritually, they had been Adam.
They, too, had once been deformed, orphaned, and destined for death.
But a Holy Blood was spilt on their behalf.
And a Holy God became flesh and dwelt among them.
And gave Himself for them.
So they could no longer be orphans, but children of this God.

So, if this adoption was true of that husband and wife
And if they were called to be His ambassadors on this earth
How could they deny this abandoned, unformed child and his need for a family?

They could not.
His Spirit compelled them and empowered them.

But, I, that wife, had one question.
“How can I raise a dying child?”
“Could I knowingly raise a child with such a diagnosis?”
I did not know that I could.
But His still small voice pierced those depths of my heart.
“Jessica, you TOO, are dying”
“Raja, your beloved, is dying”
Yes, our Spirit’s will live. But this body, it is fading.
“Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day”
After all, didn’t Solomon tell us…
“All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of the Lord stands forever”
Yes, we are eternal beings. That I know. And in that I rejoice.
The idea that we are all dying is not some fatalistic idea.
Each year that passes, I see changes in my own body. We age and no man knows if he is guaranteed tomorrow.

Did I choose to not marry Raja because one day he may die before me?
No.
Do I love him or any of my family and friends less because of unavoidable death?
No.
I love them deeply in this moment.
Then why should I question loving, adopting, and caring for this precious boy because a diagnosis speaks of a shorter life?
There is no answer.
And one day, when other children enter our family, I should not look at them in a different way.
For their future, too, is uncertain.
I love each of them, my husband, and all my loved ones with love from Heaven. Love one day at a time.
We do not know what tomorrow holds. I know this moment. I know Jesus. I know what love is. I know His word.
And, after all, “the word of the Lord endures forever”.
Flesh fades like grass, but the Word endures.
The Word will give me the strength I need to love Adam.
No matter what tomorrow holds.

So, he became ours.
And this unnamed baby was named Adam.
And the one seen as a curse was a now a blessing to countless thousands.
And he was no longer alone but known by many.
And he is our son.

Jessica Cooksey 3

Many of my questions ended there.
His Word silenced my fearful heart.
But their questions?
From others you look and see…
They do not stop.
They come daily and it can unnerve me.
And it can bring up anger in me.
But He is teaching me grace in those moments.

And He uses the stories of others to remind me.
I am not alone.
We are not alone.
Adam is not alone.

Like this story.
It is incredible.
It is about a boy and a girl.
Headed for marriage.
He gets a brain injury from a car accident.
She still marries him.
And they say “it all works for good”
That verse Paul scribed in Romans 8.28.

That same verse has pulsed life through our veins many days since September 18, 2011.

There are really not words to share to capture the Glory in their story.
Just watch.

They have a blog.
And I was reading an entry from September 2012.
It was titled “What If”.
The husband and wife are talking:

wife: “Ian, if the role were reversed and I had the tbi, would you still be with me?”

husband: “yes”

wife: “why?”

husband: “because you’re more than a brain.”

And it resonates so much in this heart of mine.
And it makes such sense.
So the more people ask me,
“Why did you adopt Adam?”
“Why did you save this child?”
And when they bring up future issues that, though we consider, are not relevant or important to Adam being Adam,
I have a new answer.

“Because a baby is more than eyelids”.

“Because a person is more than fingers”.

“Because a life is more than a nose”.

“Because a baby is more than full legs”.

And when that fails, the Word LIVING is there.

His eyes saw our “unformed body”
and
“What God calls clean, do not call common”

So my heart’s “how’s” and their “why’s” are answered in Him.
We are temporary bodies, with eternal purposes.
Not just the medically fragile.
But each and every one of us are temporary.
And we are more than perfect bodies.
So much more.

He became flesh to be among the likes of us.
To adopt us thru His Holy Blood.
So these weary, broken, unformed bodies.
Can one day join Him in glory.

_____________________________

Jessica Cooksey 1Jessica Paulraj loves to see the Light known and made much of. Bred
and reared on Florida shores, she now lives in north India with her
adventurous husband, Raja, who is a Psychiatrist. She was teaching
nursing in India when her son, Adam, entered their life through the
glorious ransom of adoption. Adam’s younger brother, Elliot, was born
this past September through the beautiful miracle of childbirth, and
these brothers are quite the force to behold, keeping Jessica busy all
the day long. Jessica is convinced that a steaming cup of spicy chai
is remedy for any peril a day may bring and she loves exploring by
bicycle. You can read more about her life with these boys and her
longings to see the Light pierce darkness at We: Unformed.

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!

_________________________________

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.

Same Love, Different Love

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.

Deeply.

Fiercely.

Just different.

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.

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Jennifer Middleton

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.

On Big Kid Adoption

The other day I was talking with a fellow adoptive mom and we were discussing some of the misconceptions surrounding big kid adoption. Who invented these ideas that older kids are always troubled, angry and aggressive? In many of my interactions with adoptive parents they say things like, “Well, we know an older child would just be too much for us….” Now, no one should adopt a child of any age ever unless that’s what they really want to do, so the point here isn’t to guilt people into being open to older kids. Yet, there are so many people opening their hearts to adoption and older kids do often get overlooked. At the end of our chat, my friend and I came to the conclusion that parents of older adopted kids need to be more open about the good, bad and ugly of big kid adoption.

Since we brought home our first older child 13 months ago and our second older child 3 weeks ago, I’m obviously an expert on this topic and should share my wisdom. And if you believe that, I’ve got some lovely oceanfront property in Arizona to sell you…. But really, I would like to address some of the concerns people commonly have about adopting older children and share our experience. Like all experiences, it is unique and no one else’s will be exactly like it.

Let me start by sharing some details about our first month or so with Amby. It started off all rainbows and unicorns because he was so excited to have a family. Then, the day we took full custody of him in his country, a switch flipped the first time he heard me utter the word, “no.” The poor kid thought he was getting a candy-giving orphanage volunteer for a mom and he was ticked when he learned otherwise. He would wail, at the top of his lungs, for an hour at a time whenever he was told no. I am not exaggerating. Ask the security guards at the mall in Uganda who witnessed one of these displays. Ask the guesthouse staff who would stare, wide-eyed in disbelief.

I responded to these episodes by sitting close to him and letting him know as soon as he was done, I would be there for him and ready to talk. I made a point not to involve any of my own emotions (believe you me, he had enough going on for both of us.) Whenever he did calm down, I made a big stinkin’ deal out of it and congratulated him for regaining control. Then I moved on and didn’t bring it up again. I did my best to show him that no tantrum was going to scare me away or make me cave in and give him the thing I had said “no” about. I did try to structure those first days to avoid power struggles, but there are times when no is necessary and I think it helped us to get that out of the way in the beginning.

For whatever reason, after a little over a month he was done having fits and has never had another one. He is now my most happy-go-lucky, compliant, cheerful kid. I think a lot of this is his God-given temperment (as his older brother is a little more stubborn by nature.)

I share this story to illustrate what I believe is a very important truth about all adoption: the child you first meet is not necessarily indicative of who your child really is. Today we visited that mall where he once had a massive tantrum. I asked if he remembered it and he didn’t, but we had a good long laugh about it. The scared, confused kid he was that first month is not at all the little boy I have now.

Three weeks ago, when we first took Mary into our care, I was incredibly overwhelmed. I was jetlagged. My kids were jetlagged. Add to that a new child who is sick and speaks no English and it was a rough start. We had longed for and dreamed about telling her we were her family forever and she was just flat out terrified the first few days. She cried a lot and didn’t have the language to express how she was feeling. Each day, she came out of her shell a little bit more. She interacted with us and opened up to us. Thankfully, there have been no wailing tantrums, but she has had quiet little pouty fits when she doesn’t get her way (for the record, this might be just an 8 year old girl thing.)

The beginning was hard with both of my big kids, but I don’t think it was hard just because they weren’t babies. My friends who adopt babies have their own struggles. Adoption is hard. It is borne out of loss, so “hard” is inherent. I really think parents need to know this and embrace it going into any adoption.

Earlier I mentioned these myths that seem to surround big-kid adoption. I’d like to share my take on some of these:

1. Older kids are angry. Every child processes trauma in different ways. Neither of my big kids are angry or aggressive. Both have dealt with trauma and both are on the road to restoration. I do sometimes see grief processed as sadness. During these difficult times, both of my older kids are open to letting us help them process their emotions and we consider that a huge blessing.

2. Older kids have difficulty attaching. Since the term RAD came out, somehow it has become synonymous with “big kid” and “beyond hope.” I don’t believe either of these things are true. My Amby has a very strong, healthy developing attachment. I say developing because he has only been ours’ for one year and I feel like this is a years long process. Mary is in the very early stages of attachment, but she is doing really well with it. She lets us be physically close to her, she comes to us to meet her needs, she prefers us over strangers and we see the first buds of healthy trust forming. Each day at exactly 11:30 AM, no matter where we are, she climbs into my lap and takes a long nap. Now, what about children who have dealt with so much trauma that they truly do struggle to attach? There is hope! I refuse to accept that a child with RAD is doomed. First of all because God is just as faithful to them as He is to anyone else. Secondly, we now have so many resources available to help these kids that, with some professional help, I believe no child is a lost cause.

3. Older kids are a threat to younger kids in the home. This delves into disrupting birth order, which I understand is a controversial topic. We do not bury our heads in the sand about issues surrounding birth order, but we also don’t live in fear. I’d like to start by saying that much of this depends on the personal history of the newly adopted child and all parents must do their due diligence to find out as much as they can about that. I also think if one is going to disrupt birth order, it is beneficial to meet the child ahead of time and observe how that child interacts with other kids. I am grateful to say that this has not been an issue for us. Neither of my big kids have ever tried to hurt one of the other kids in any way. There are boundaries in our home that help keep everyone safe. One is the open-door policy. No child is ever in a room with another child with the door shut. Another is that our kids don’t play naked. Another choice we’ve made is to talk very openly with all of our children about behaviors that are safe and appropriate and those that are not. With these boundaries in place, we also observe our kids closely when they play together.

I want to close by saying that this is not for everyone, but it is for some of us. In our family, big kid adoption has been an amazing experience and we are so blessed God called us to these precious kids.

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Lara

Lara is a Jesus-loving, book-reading, coffee-drinking, kid-chasing farmer’s wife of 5 years. She and her beloved farmer, Jon, have 4 kids: Mary, Cade, Ambrose, and Ellie. They just brought their most recent addition, Mary, home from Uganda. Follow along on their journey at The Farmer’s Wife Tells All.

“How do you do it?”

I have heard many comments and been asked similar questions since being home with our newest son.

“You must have a lot more patience than me!”

“So, what’s it like being a mother of four?”

“How are your other kids reacting?”

“How do you do it?”

I recently read this quote:

I’m convinced that such questions and concerns will ultimately prove to be opportunities for God to show His faithfulness in ways you never could have imagined. Our Father is committed to providing for the fatherless, and I trust that He will grant you grace to follow Him if He is leading you to become a part of His plan to care for one of these precious children in need.

Grace has been our mantra, not only throughout the adoption process, but through life in general. When it’s getting chaotic at home, Mark & I often look at one another and just say, “Grace.”

God’s grace is abundant . . . more than enough . . . never-ending.

10 years ago when we brought Madeline Hope home from the hospital and didn’t have a clue what we were doing as new parents? Grace.

Losing 5 babies and dealing with the heartache of miscarriage after miscarriage? Grace.

Beginning the adoption process for Lily and following God’s plan for our family? Grace.

Reeling from the shock of discovering Lily’s medical needs? Grace.

In the middle of all these changes, the blessing of Baby Jude? Grace.

Stepping out in faith, obeying God’s voice and walking down the path of adoption again? Grace.

Bringing Jaidin home and changing the world once again for Maddie, Lily and Jude? Grace.

Are our days always easy? Nope.

Do I struggle and feel overwhelmed at times? Yep.

I am a very ordinary girl serving a super extraordinary God. He blesses me in ways I never imagined (hello? 4 kids!) and is guiding me every step of the way.

So, how do I do it? I don’t. God does.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
-Romans 5:1-2

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Rachel Shafer

Rachel, along with her husband, Mark, parent four wonderful children, 2 biological and 2 adopted from China. Along with her heart for adoption, she is also passionate about her faith and serves as the Worship Pastor at her local church. Rachel enjoys spending time with her family and getting the occasional break to go shopping and get a nice coffee. She blogs about her faith, family, and adoption.

The Problem With Adopted Kids

So here is what happened after church. We went downstairs for coffee and donuts, as we do most Sundays when Lute is mostly well behaved during the service. (Yeah, we bribe our children, and sometimes it works.) The boys were running around, playing with their friends, dancing onstage, chasing each other, and stopping for brief moments to stuff their faces with maple bars. Eddie asked for water, so I lifted him to the water fountain, where he managed to ingest about three teaspoons from the 12 gallons that hit his face.

As I started to carry him back to where the action was, an older gentleman stopped me and asked, “Is he your foster child?”

“Oh no, we adopted him as a newborn, he’s mine,” I replied happily.

“It looks like he needs a lot of guidance, doesn’t he?”

Well, yeah dude, he’s TWO.

I was a little more diplomatic than that, but a bit of the mama bear started to well up within me.

Why is there such a stigma attached to adopted children? Here is my thought: they are kids. A kid is a kid. Now I am not saying that there aren’t real issues for children that stem from adoption. I’m sure there are. But I am just as sure that every child has some issue of some kind… because they are human. They are going through life. And life isn’t fair, and we all have to deal with that at some point in some way, and we usually feel pretty disillusioned and victimized.

Before we brought Eddie home, several people asked us if we knew if he was exposed to anything harmful (valid question) or if we were worried that he would have predispositions that we weren’t prepared for. I am not sure I am prepared for any of the things any of my children are predisposed to. You should see George when we cut off the cookies.

If anything, it’s been the opposite of the common misconceptions. If you were to spend a good amount of time with my three children (does anyone want to, by the way?), you might notice that Lute and George have a little bit of a woeful nature. Sometimes a lot of a woeful nature, actually. Eddie, on the other hand, is probably the most joyful kid I have ever encountered. He might get a little frustrated from time to time, but he is usually having a grand time doing whatever it is he is doing. And yes, he is a handful, but that is because he is a boy through and through. (I think they are calling that “spirited” these days, right? Wanna be PC.)

So here are a few statistics that I hope help eradicate some of the ideas floating around about adoption:

85% of adopted children are rated in “excellent” or “very good” health.
The national average for non-adopted kids is 82%.

over 90% of adopted children have positive feelings about being adopted.

88% of adoptive parents describe themselves as a “happy couple”.
Non-adoptive parents: 83%.

The New York Times did an interesting article awhile back that addressed this issue. I know I have a tendency toward the Pollyanna side of life, and I can gloss things over from time to time, but in my heart of hearts, I really believe that a change needs to come about in the attitude toward adoption.

In my experience as a parent with three little boys very close in age, no kid is easy, but every kid is a blessing.

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Carina

We are a family of 5 3/4: 3 kids – 2 biological, 1 adopted, and waiting to bring a little girl home soon. Adoption has always been on our hearts, hopeful that it’d be part of our story. We’re so blessed to say that it is, and has changed us forever. We love our three boys more than we’d imagined possible and can’t wait to bring home our sweet little peach!  We welcome you to join us on our journey at lovely little whimsy.

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