Reviews

Reviews of books, movies, etc.

A Cord of Three Strands {Review and Giveaway}

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

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

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

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

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

 

Take a sneak peek here

Want your own copy?

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

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

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Kelly Raudenbush

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

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Birthday Gifts Giveaway

Around here, birthdays aren’t complete without a gift or two. Why should WAGI be any different?

Wish I could give you all a gift–but with an average of 1,200 pageviews a day, I’m thinking that won’t work. Gifts for one will have to do.

EMK Press has offered a giveaway just for us in honor of our birthday worth over $50. If you don’t know about EMK Press yet, go check them out. EMK Press publishes books for adoptees, adoptive families, foster families, and adoption professionals. And, on top of that, in their commitment to support adoption and children, they offer a bunch of resources, articles, and links for parents, teachers, social workers, adoption agencies, therapists and extended family all online.

One winner will receive a copy of the very popular text that we have listed on our resources page — Adoption Parenting: Creating a Toolbox, Building Connections. In this book, over 100 contributors have come together to weave a tapestry of advice within its over 500 pages specifically for parents from those waiting to bring their child home to the seasoned adoptive family. It’s a text you are going to want on your shelf.

The winner will also receive their choice of one of the following children’s books:

Forever Fingerprints: An Amazing Discovery for Adopted Children was written by adoptee Sherrie Eldridge. In this children’s book, Sherrie uses a common occurrence–a relative’s pregnancy–as a springboard for discussions on birthparents, where adopted children are before they are born, and how that makes one little girl feel about it.

We See the Moon was written by Carrie Kitze from the child’s perspective, asking the questions that may dwell in their hearts about their birthparents: What do you look like? Where are you now? Do you think of me? It allows children to use the moon as a way to connect with a family who is always with them in their hearts even though questions may remain unanswered. Though illustrated with beautiful Chinese Peasant paintings, this book would be helpful for all internationally adopted children.

Reviewed here on WAGI early on, I Don’t Have Your Eyes, also by Carrie Kitze, is for the child who looks different from his or her parents. This multicultural book encourages your child to look beyond physical features he or she has on the outside and look inside instead.

And, just to sweeten the birthday gifts ever-s0-slightly more, The Sparrow Fund is offering one piece of handmade African jewelry of your choice from their Etsy store where they raise money to support adoptive families in Kenya as well as for the grants they give to adoptive families on our side of the world. And, there are some gorgeous pieces there, if I can say so myself. Go check them out and see for yourself–and feel free to buy a few.

TO ENTER:

If you are not already, become a follower of this blog, then leave a comment on this post with whatever you want to say before Wednesday the 17th at 10pm EST. It’s just that easy. Winner will be chosen randomly and announced after that.

Tangled

We are HUGE fans of the movie Tangled.

But I have to be honest, the night we saw it in the theater, Rob and I both had a reaction to it. Not the giggly, happy one. No. It was a sadness, and I now know it was God preparing us for something important.

We are in the midst of celebrating four wonderful years with sweet Hannah. Last week we celebrated the day Hannah became formally, fully, no-looking-back, no worries, forever our family member. An extension of us, Hannah is here through the great providence of a God who knew this was where she belonged, and she was the child to grow our little family. Those first 6 months were not easy. They were rich with joy and blessedness, but they were not easy. Hannah struggled to accept an older sister who she perceived to threaten her. She rebuffed Emily’s advances for love and many times rejected her,leaving Emily confused and disappointed. In hindsight, I am able to see more clearly how this impacted our family and all of our relationships. The girls would need to grow into one another, and Rob and I would be left to navigate some pretty bumpy terrain to ensure we honored both of our children and validated the deep well of emotions stirring about our home.

Needless to say, our growing pains were just that, opportunities for growth…for ALL of us. God answered so many questions during that time and honored ME, the mommy, the imperfect, undeserving mommy of these two amazing children with a heart able to love to depths I did not know existed. Our ability to love unconditionally was paramount to successfully nurturing these precious little people into familial health that might not otherwise have been. Rob and I stood united, despite the years of waiting and preparing, our true journey began the day our family expanded. Even the hard days, when tears outnumbered smiles and impatience gave way to loads of imperfect responses, God showed up, assuring us that the answers to our questions would always be enveloped in His Word and His promises. He has always been near, guiding and marking our steps, that in our obedience, fruit would be seen in our family unit.

More times than not, I forget that Hannah was adopted into our family. Barring the occasional crooked glance or inappropriate grocery line question, we are a normal, loving family. I know each curve and crease of Hannah’s face just the same as I know her sister’s. I feel her pain deeper, stronger, more intensely than she would like me to. Her contagious, infectious laugh comes straight from her belly, welling up loudly; I would know her laugh anywhere. Her little thumbnails have ridges and her skin becomes ashy if we do not moisturize it. She is bold and courageous and sometimes, she is scared, abandoning the survival skills she has worked so hard to protect.

Tangled. Somewhere in the midst of knowing all these things about Hannah, there is a truth that cannot be changed. My children’s stories are different. Emily cringes at the real life answers that are shared with Hannah when she dares to ask the hard questions. Emily knows my knowledge of her differs from my knowledge of her sister. And so, when the movie came out on DVD, and two little people begged and pleaded to add it to their collection, I was torn. I liked the movie, but there was a reservation in my heart about exposing Hannah, yet again, to a storyline about a child being raised by anyone other than birthparents (Annie, Despicable Me, etc.). Yet, we have always trusted that Hannah is just part of our family, and we will handle the hard things as they come…I don’t want to plant seeds that accentuate the vast expanse of their differences. So, yes…Flinn and Rapunzel live with us now.

For our first viewing at home, we were munching snacks and dancing around the family room, when Hannah became very quiet, sat in my lap and hugged me as tight as her little body can muster. With just a glance, she whispered, “I don’t want to go back to China, ever.” At the tender age of 4, Hannah had connected the dots well enough to know Rapunzel went back to the parents who had birthed her. I knew God had instinctively given me a heart to prepare for this. Based on our initial feelings, we had prayed and readied for this. Though I thought it may come much later, I was rather shocked at her intuitiveness and quite honestly, it changes my prayer life regarding Hannah. Not all children deal the same, not all adoptions look the same, not a one of us will experience our situation in the same way. I share this here, in transparency and love, because there are truths in adoption that are real. But, joyfully God has prepared us for these moments. If we sustain our children in His truth, there is no subject matter too difficult for Him.

I am so thankful she does not view me as Mother Gothall. Quite the opposite, Hannah wants to know that this is forever. And so, I assure her, as long as there is breath in my body, she is my daughter. Even if the Lord would choose to take me home, she remains my daughter. I love her and cherish her in the way that God designed parents to love their children. Her daddy feels exactly the same way. We learned that unconditional spirit from the Master himself, and though we’d never profess perfection, we know His plan is perfect.

Our conversations may be tangled as we weave our way through difficult discussions, but they smooth out seamlessly when we commit our children to Him, remembering He trusted us. Ultimately, both of our children are HIS, loaned to us for such a short time. I pray that I serve BOTH of our children well in that all too short time.

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Heather Beals

Heather is a thirty-something wife and mom (okay forty-something) who loves that God has trusted her with two precious miracles (Emily, 9, bio and Hannah, 5, Jiangxi, China) and a wonderful husband to boot. They are a reminder that His plan is perfect and families are grown His way. A teacher, by trade, Heather loves working with children and especially has a passion for children who learn differently. When not working or tending to the affairs of her home, she has her head buried in a good book or is searching for inspiration to write. Heather blogs about her family and life on her personal blog and also at the collaborative blog effort at Titus 2 in Action.

A Review and Giveaway: Secret Daughter

I have some friends I’d like you to meet – Kavita, Jasu, Somer, Krishnan, and Asha. I met them here at the beach on vacation; I’ve only known them for a few days. As much as I’d like to speak to them and allow you to do the same, we can’t; they are alive only in a well painted portrait of words. But, they’ve spoken to me.

There aren’t many books in which I find myself drawn in some way to all the characters. Maybe one or two resonate with me, not all. Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s Secret Daughter is one of the few.

A poor rural Indian family unable to provide for more than one child and knowing for varied reasons (as is the case in many places) that that one child needed to be a boy. And, a California couple, both doctors, unable to heal their most emotional case yet–their own infertility. Their families become forever intertwined through adoption.

It is a story of motherhood and of the discovery of what motherhood really means. You follow the journey as an Indian-American girl sees life in a new way as she learns her own story and the love of her past for the first time and concludes that sometimes the family you create is more important than the one you are born into.

Part of me wishes I were the reporter and that I could sit down in a crowded restaurant in Bombay with Kavita over a cup of hot chai and hear more. Maybe I’d bring Lydia with me and let her hear it all too, see it in Kavita’s own eyes. I know that her story of commitment and surrender is not Lydia’s story–we don’t know what her story is despite my efforts to learn more. And, I know better than to pretend that they are alike even if Kavita were Chinese instead of Indian. Still, I imagine the meeting and the blessing it would be to us.

Part of me wishes I could travel to California and join Somer at Starbucks over a cup of iced coffee. I’d ask her how she would have parented differently knowing what she knows now. Though our worldviews differ, and I have four little ones while she has one who is grown, we share the common bond of raising a daughter we wanted before she was even born whose skin, eyes, and frame do not resemble ours but who fits perfectly in our arms.

Part of me wishes we could be instantly transported to wherever Asha’s work has her now and talk while we walk together in the early morning. Asha’s self-discovery is not based first on her position before her Maker as we pray Lydia’s will be. Yet, I wish I could ask her her thoughts on language classes and holidays and traditions and searching.

But, I must settle for the page before me, pages about women and families based only on research, women and families who do not exist though represent thousands and thousands around the world, pages I will likely read again perhaps along with Lydia in 12 years or so. All so that as she enters adolescence and asks more questions, and I’m in a new season of parenting an adolescent girl with a history I do not share, I’m there as questions come up. Maybe I’ll be able to answer some, and I’ll simply be with her when I can’t, while pointing her to Truth all along.

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Interested in a copy of your own? Come on over here and leave a comment to enter to win a copy of your own. Just be prepared to get an email from me in a few weeks to hear what you thought of it!

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Kelly Raudenbush

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

Blessed Are the Booty Hearts: Giveaway!

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Did you feel the need to say anything out loud after you read this?

Maybe a Hallelujah, or an Amen?

Well, if you were Eva Rose, you would have cried out, “Mom! My bottom is dancing!”

Isaiah 41:10 makes my daughter’s bottom dance.

Praise be to our Lord Jesus Christ.

For a long, long time, eons it seemed, I searched high and low for un-annoying Christian children’s music. In vain. In vainy vainy vain.

I just wanted some good tunes, fun for kids, while not simultaneously making mom want to bang her head against the dashboard. So much good stuff exists in the secular world, I could not fathom why it was so impossible to find a Christian Laurie Berkner? Or a Dan Zanes for Jesus?

Wanting my kids to learn the good old songs and hymns I knew, I settled for listening to melodramatic children’s voices accompanied by a synthesizer played by a guy whom I imagined to have Flock of Seagulls hair. (With the Christian music leader frosted tips, of course. And a goatee. Probably wearing some Toms. And sporting some tats.)

And then, something beautiful and magical happened….I discovered Seeds Family Worship.

And now, if you are experienceing a little anxiety, I am not likely to quote scripture at you. Oh no.

But I will sing it at you. (Walker might accompany with an interpretive dance, should you happen to be exceptionally blessed.)

Lord knows I serenade myself with some do-not-be-anxious, like, well, pretty much every day.

These CDs, which are also available on iTunes, totally rock, and I mean that literally and figuratively. The band takes great Bible verses and sets them to great music. After listening to them, God’s word will be hidden in your child’s heart – and yours. Because get this – are you sitting down – I find myself listening (and jamming and singing very loudly) to Seeds even when my kids are not in the car.

And if you ever hear someone singing “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith, it is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, it is the gift of God….la di DA. La di DA, ohhh, not from yourselves…” while goosing cantaloupes at Kroger, well, that would be me, and that would be Ephesians 2:8. Which I now know by heart. And which my bottom now dances to.

Now, one caveat – if you buy this CD, you will find yourself trying to explain things like, “Why is Jesus da wight of da world?” and “What is wages of sin?” or, “What’s a new cweation mean?” to 3 and 4 year olds. So have your coffee ready.

But can I tell you how my heart rejoices while I try and explain theological concepts to my preschoolers that I did not learn about until I was almost 30?

Shepherd and Eva Rose’s all time favorite is Booty Heart. “Play the Booty Heart song, Mom! Booty heart!” Did you not know about the booty hearts? Well, they will see God. Jesus said so in Matthew 5:8: Blessed are the booty pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed, yeah yeah yeah, blessed, yeah yeah yeah…

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Missy

Not your typical “mommy blog,” Missy’s beautifully-written musings run the gamut from witty and light to deep, thought-provoking and prayer-invoking…often simultaneously. Her blog touches on anything and everything: the nitty-gritty of daily life with four small children, social/political commentary, the calling and pursuit of adoption, and the ups and downs of walking faithfully through life with her husband and for the glory of God.

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And, We Are Grafted In is sharing the love today. Seeds Family Music has agreed to do a giveaway here. One reader will receive the cd of their choice from their store. And, you know what else is super cool? Each cd comes packaged with two identical cds–one for yourself and one for you to giveaway. Just keep planting the seeds, people.

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post (one per family, please). A winner will be chosen from those who commented at the end of the week.

Hannah’s Story Review

The movie opens with the image of a young Chinese girl with hair hanging down in her eyes, flushed cheeks, a runny nose, and tears streaming down her face.

And, I’m hooked.

With funky music in the background that draws you in and a casual filming style that almost makes you feel like you are watching someone’s home videos, Bring Me Hope’s Hannah’s Story tells the story of two young college graduates who, unlike most of their peers, have found purpose in caring for Chinese orphans through Bring Me Hope.

You watch as they anticipate the arrival of a bus of Chinese orphans to summer camp where they are counselors; they are giddy with excitement and are literally jumping up and down as the bus rolls in and the children arrive.

Their testimonies focus mainly on a 9-year-old girl, Hannah, from Henan Province and her experience coming to camp and seeing Westerners for the first time. As they shop with her to get her essentials like underwear and shoes, I find myself longing to be there with them, just buying anything I could to give to this little girl who has nothing.

As the story continues, you see Hannah start to struggle. Her love and kisses for her counselors quickly turned to angst and tantrums and threats and violence. And, the giddy counselors now see the real life trauma lived out in the life of a destitute child. It’s hard to watch as their hearts break and they start to meltdown. Even if you have adopted a young child rather than a child Hannah’s age, I’m sure you will find yourself able to identify with their feelings of confusion and helplessness as they try to love a child who is rejecting them.

At the end of the week, you get to see a glimpse of Hannah’s transformed heart as well as the deep emotional responses of the camp volunteers who have to say goodbye to these children. As they cry, I cried. Why? I guess I just remembered how there are so many children just like Hannah, so many who have so little and need so much. It’s hard to not cry.

Hannah tasted love at summer camp, just tasted it. Love in action. God’s love in action. For children like Hannah who are not eligible for adoption, programs like Bring Me Hope’s summer camps are so very important, like life-changing important.

I’m hanging onto this DVD—it would be perfect to show for a youth group or high school Sunday School class focusing on missions or for Orphan Sunday in November. At the end of 40 minutes, they will be confronted with things they may have never thought about before. And, God will move in their hearts.

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Kelly Raudenbush

Kelly is a stay-at-home mom/manager to 4 children–the youngest of whom is from Baoji, Shaanxi, China. Though she’d love to spend more time writing, she is a part-time editor and part-time blog-surfing junkie, always on the lookout for good resources and essays to post on this site that are way better than what she could come up with. You can learn more about their adoption story as well as follow day-to-day life on their personal blog.

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Look for a giveaway tomorrow!

Post-Referral Panic

I have debated long and hard about whether to write about this or not, but I have decided to for three important reasons:

  • It’s the truth.
  • I felt like the worst person in the world when it happened to me, and I think part of that was that I had never heard of anyone else having these same feelings though many surely have (or maybe not in which case I may be sorry to be the first person to admit it). Feeling like you are having a reaction no one has ever had makes the feelings feel even worse. Maybe me admitting this will help someone else.
  • Most importantly of all, it contains the most significant moment in our referral story for me. The moment I’ll always come back to if I ever panic again.

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The joy of being matched lasted about 24 hours for me.

Wait.

I’m not sure I felt joy at all that day we called to tell our agency that we were sending in our LOI (Letter of Intent to Adopt).

In fact, my matter-of-factness, my taking-care-of-the-business of it, never actually yielded any emotions. However, after hanging up the phone, the fear began to build up, growing more and more as the hours ticked by. By Thursday night (the day after accepting our referral), once I had the kids in bed and the house was quiet (Scot was away the week we accepted our referral), I began to feel panic almost physically strangling me.

Scot called that evening to say good-night to the kids and to let me know that he really couldn’t talk to me that night because everyone was going out. I told him I needed to talk to him and that it really could not wait until morning. Who knows what else I said, but after the kids were in bed, Scot called back (having excused himself from the events of the evening), and I fell apart on the phone with him.

Fell. Apart.

Every fear, doubt, anxiety, worry, every bit of it came pouring out. And, that’s not like me. In this whole adoption process, if I’ve gotten really freaked out at any point, I tried to temper it with Scot fearing I’d freak him out too much. But, I figured it was now or never to let it all out. Not about adoption in general, but about the boy we just accepted in particular. I’m not sure how he even understood what I was saying over the phone because I was so emotional.

I covered it all. Every “what if.” And, that was no small task, because at that point, there were for me, still many, many unanswered questions.

I told Scot point blank that I thought we may have made a mistake, and that IF that’s what we ultimately decided, HE would need to call our agency, because I simply would not be able to. (Scot’s never called our agency. I handle all that.)

Scot patiently listened to it all, told me that if we felt like we needed to change our minds that he would “absolutely” call the agency for me but that he thought I should let him get home the next day before we made any decisions. We both knew that it was nearly Friday in China anyway, so we should take the weekend to talk and pray. He felt sure that once he was home we would figure it out.

After that conversation, I felt better. Mostly, because I got it all out. There was no question about where I was at. I was terrified.

Cooper pre-Hardy

During these couple days, I told no one about our referral (besides one dear friend who already knew about it and our pastor). I couldn’t look at the child’s picture. In fact, I had called my mother-in-law on Wednesday after accepting the referral and got her voice mail. When she called me back on Thursday, I pretended I had forgotten why I had called.

I couldn’t bring myself to tell her. THAT’s how bad it was.

(I remember it so well that I’m crying just typing this. It was awful to feel that way.)

After my conversation with Scot, I went to New Day Foster Home‘s website (where the child was being cared for) and looked at every. single. picture. they had of him. I looked hoping I would recognize him. Because looking back, I think that is what bothered me the most.

I didn’t recognize him.

I had thought when I saw the face of my child I would know him (or her). That there would be some magic or something. Or that it would be a very spiritual moment. Or, you know, anything but a series of very intentional decisions. Which is what it was.

I didn’t get a phone call out of the blue and click open the e-mail to see my child’s face for the first time. Because that’s how you think of it in all those years of waiting. And, just like when I struggled after having Sawyer via c-section (the LAST thing I expected and certainly was never part of my becoming-a-mom fantasies), I realize now that I was struggling again with reality verses how I imagined it would be.

Then there were the very REAL questions on top of that:

  • Does he have Hep B? And, if so, in combination with his heart issue would that be something life-threatening possibly?
  • What is the result of his oxygen deprivation in his first year?
  • And what about his age? What business do we, unexperienced adoptive parents, have adopting an almost 4 year old? He’s only a year younger than Chloe!!!

On Friday, Scot came home, and I’m not sure I had ever, EVER been so glad to have him back from a trip EVER. And honestly, we only casually talked about the boy we had accepted that night and even through Saturday. I actually don’t remember much about those two days.

I know we prayed about it, but I don’t remember much else.

On Sunday morning, I was on my way to church by myself. I have to be there early, so I always go by myself, and Scot comes during the second service with the kids. In the car, I prayed very specifically, and I remember exactly what I said: “God, I need to hear from you today, and I’m in a very emotional state. Anything less than complete clarity will only confuse me. Can you please be crystal clear with me this morning?”

Nothing fluffy or ornate. Just a simple honest prayer.

But, as soon as I uttered it, I wondered how it would ever be clear enough for me in the state I was in. I remember distinctly thinking, “Unless I hear ‘You should adopt him’ or ‘You shouldn’t adopt him’, will I really walk away feeling sure?” Any amount of faith I had seemed gone in those moments.

Usually, I go to church during first service, and Scot attends second service. Unfortunately, that’s just how it is because second service for us is very busy, and I have to be back in children’s ministry that hour. However, on this particular day, Scot showed up early and went to church with me.

Our pastor wasn’t teaching that morning, and one of the people Scot and I respect most in the world was speaking. This man has been a missionary around the world and is a walking example of what a life looks like when lived trusting God to the fullest!

This morning, he was speaking about Noah. He talked about a lot of things, but he specifically talked about how the call that God made on Noah’s life could not have made a whole lot of sense to Noah. Noah had never seen rain. And, the Bible doesn’t say that Noah had any skill at building. Noah, the speaker said, probably felt completely inadequate for the task. The task HAD to have seemed too big for him, too hard, too unknown, too scary. I mean, God told Noah he was going to destroy everything on the earth. That had to have been unsettling at the very least! Everything in Noah’s world must have felt turned up-side down, but because He walked with and trusted God, he did it.

Then, right there in the middle of the sermon, with his British accent in full tilt, the speaker says: “So…what is God asking you to do today? *there might as well have been a l-o-n-g pause here, because I remember it as if time stood still* Does it seem hard, scary, unknown? I don’t know what God has called you to today, but I am here to tell you JUST DO IT!” (That was all caps on purpose because he yelled it. The man is 80 years old, and he yelled it!)

Could God have been ANY clearer? At all? Really?

JUST DO IT!

And, the choice of words? Echoed the EXACT words my friend had said to me when I told her we accepted our referral. She said, while she talked to me on the phone that night, she just wanted to yell, “JUST DO IT!

Tears immediately started rolling down my face, and I leaned over to Scot and said, “I think we have our answer.”

He just smiled, and was gracious enough NOT to say, “No, I had my answer all along. It seems that now you have YOUR answer!”

That’s in my mind when New Day’s Evan became Cooper. When all my doubts and fears took a distant back seat to the fact that this was oh-so-clearly the child GOD had chosen for our family.

I will always, always be so thankful that God cared enough about me to speak to me right where I was at that morning. To assure me when I was doubting. To answer my very specific prayer and to do it in such a resounding way.

That next week, after we got PA, we requested an update on Cooper. Specifically, we asked for updated lab results so that we could see what his Hep B status was. The woman at our agency said she would ask but that updated medical info is not generally given and so we shouldn’t expect it.

A few days later, we got a short update, and some pictures. The update did not contain any updated lab work. We were disappointed but okay with whatever. However, when we looked through the pictures, the last picture was a jpeg file of Cooper’s most updated lab results where we could see VERY clearly that the ambiguous test results were gone, and he was quite clearly NOT Hep B positive.

I thanked God that day for those lab results, because although I would have trusted Him either way, He knew how scared we were about that, and he took that fear completely away.

How great is our God indeed.

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Jenna Hardy and family (minus 1!)

Jenna is a teacher, turned stay-at-home mom, turned Children’s Ministry Director who is passionate about children. After hearing God’s call to care for orphans 4 years ago, she has become increasingly passionate about adoption and orphan care. She and her high school sweetheart, Scot, have been married for 13 years and are currently IN CHINA to meet and bring home their son Cooper who is 3 years old and seriously adorable (go see for yourself!). They are excited to see what God will do in the next chapter of the story He is writing with their family. Jenna and Scot feel strongly about sharing their story so that they might be of encouragement to others in various stages of the adoption process. You can follow along with them on their trip and afterwards at Our Many Colored Days.

A Review: “I Don’t Have Your Eyes” by Carrie A. Kitze

When I took my eldest child to the pediatrician for a check-up as a newborn baby, the nurse looked at the infant carrier at my son, looked up at my husband, looked at me, and then said, “Sorry, maybe the next one will look like you.” I always thought that was sort of a funny remark to make, as if I so loved the way I look that I’d want my children to all be clones of me.

With three blond biological children and my head of dark brown hair, I always joked that my Chinese daughter would be the child who looks most like me. But, even with our dark hair, we very obviously look different. When we’re at home just doing life, I really don’t think about it. But, when we’re at the grocery store or shopping at the mall, I am reminded of how different we look. We draw a lot more attention than I ever got when I shopped with any of the other children.

Our youngest daughter is only a toddler now, seemingly unaware of our physical differences. But, there may come a time in a few years when she is unsettled about how different she looks and asks questions about how or why we are different. And, if she does, I want to be prepared to answer her.

We will talk to her about our own insecurities and how we have struggled with how God made us. We will share with her how God has helped us through that and how He continues to. We will encourage her that He is the one who made her and that there is nothing about her that is a mistake. And, we will assure her that we love everything about her—how she is different from us and how she is like us.

A helpful children’s book to follow that conversation could be I Don’t Have Your Eyes by Carrie A. Kitze. The book recognizes the differences between parent and child—eyes, ears, nose, hair, hands, knees, feet, toes, height, smile, voice, face, skin. But, also points out what is similar, those things that we share because we love each other and are part of each other—the same way of hearing those in need, the same way of gently touching others, the same way of giving thanks on our knees. The message of the book is this: it’s what is on the inside that matters most. The book ends with, “I don’t look like you on the outside but I look inside and in our hearts we are the same.” At a young age, this may be all Lydia needs. But, I think I’d want to follow it with one more thing—even when we don’t see eye to eye, even when our way of doing things are very different, even when you feel like our hearts are not the same (as children adopted or biological are certain to feel at some point), we love you; we want you with us; we are thankful for you; and we will walk with you always. Not a bad message for my biological kids too, don’t you think?

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Think about it. Talk about it.

If your child looks physically different from you or siblings, when did he or she notice that and ask about it?

Do you look different from your family of origin? Was that an issue to you growing up or as an adult?

How have you celebrated your similarities and differences as a family?

This book has been used in a positive way in schools. Consider buying it for your children’s classroom and downloading the actiivity that goes along with it here.

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Kelly Raudenbush

Kelly is a stay-at-home mom/manager of a bunch of little ones (3 blond biological kids age 8, 6, and 4 and 1 dark haired girl from China, age 17 months) she’s hoping stay little for a while longer. She is a part-time editor and part-time blog-surfing junkie, always on the lookout for good resources and essays to post on this site. You can learn more about their adoption story as well as follow day-to-day life on their personal blog.

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