You know how it is. You’ve watched every episode of 24, every second of Downton Abbey. And, then you can’t stop yourself from hitting repeat. Once you’ve finished watching, you have the bigger picture, you know where things are heading. When you go back to some of those earlier episodes, you see things in a new way and find yourself nodding your head and saying “ahhh, now I get it.”
In August, We Are Grafted In’s third season will end. With this season finale, we’re going to see a few changes around here. We are super excited to share that WAGI will be becoming the official blog of The Sparrow Fund, a nonprofit whose vision and mission aligns with our own. As we join forces, we trust that we will be able to better encourage and support adoptive families. While we may have a new address and a new look, we will still be what we have been for the last 3 seasons, a place for those with a heart for adoption to share their experiences and be challenged and encouraged.
It just seems right as we transition to hit repeat and revisit some of our favorite posts from our first three seasons. For those of you loyal readers from the start, you’ll remember some of them but will be able to read them now with newness. And, for those of you relatively new to WAGI, you’ll read some words for the first time and likely get hooked for our new season.
So, grab a cup of coffee and sit down with us every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning this summer. Can’t wait to have you join us, friends.
The day after Mother’s Day. That’s today. But, we’re just going to call it the new Cyber Monday because you all have some shopping to do.
I met Kelly a year and a half ago over coffee in her living room. A mutual friend who knew that we shared the desire to serve children and families joined through adoption set us up on a “blind date.” As the sister to an adopted brother and with the hope of being an adoptive mom myself one day, I knew how important The Sparrow Fund’s resources were for families as Kelly explained what they did. I thought I knew— but to see has been another story.
I joined in the work, volunteering, helping wherever I could. With The Sparrow Fund, I’ve attended trainings, conferences, and retreats—what an amazing and challenging learning experience for me. I have been overwhelmed with how intentional, loving, devoted, and honest the adoption community is. Sorting through adoption issues can be difficult, messy, and exhausting. The Sparrow Fund does an extraordinary job of creating s p a c e for this community—space for adoptive families to come and be blessed through relational, emotional, spiritual, and financial support; space to be encouraged by each other’s experiences, informed by adoptees’ stories, and educated by professionals in the field. The brokenness that comes with adoption is just as welcome as the joy. It has been such a blessing to watch this space be filled over and over again.
The Sparrow Fund is doing excellent work. More than excellent, though, it is needed. There are few training and retreat opportunities like the ones that The Sparrow Fund offers. And, I can tell you from experience that they are such encouraging, life-giving times for adoptive parents. In addition, The Sparrow Fund awarded grants for preadoption counseling and ongoing support to 18 families this past year alone, ensuring as smooth an adoption process as possible. Those 18 grants played a part in 24 children being brought into their families as sons and daughters, brothers and sisters.
We need you to help create more space for support and encouragement for children and families—which is where the new Cyber Monday comes in. About 50 businesses selling guitar equipment to children’s books to jewelry to skincare have committed to celebrating adoption and honoring the work of The Sparrow Fund by donating 10% of their total May sales. All you have to do is shop to grow that 10%. Click HERE or on the page in the menu bar on this site, and start shopping!
Abbey Leaman recently married her high school sweetheart of 10 years. She works in admissions at a private school in the Philadelphia area and volunteers for The Sparrow Fund in (most of) her spare time. She loves spending time with family and friends, gardening, cooking, and traveling. She and her husband have dreams of adopting in the future.
If you had been mine from the beginning, I would have cried tears of joy as soon as I knew you were growing inside me.
If you had been mine from the beginning, Daddy and I would have stayed up late at night dreaming about you: who you would be, what you would look like, who you would become. I would have sung lullabies to you, and Daddy would have read books to my tummy as I rocked gently in my rocking chair.
If you had been mine from the beginning, Daddy and I would have walked through the baby store, hand in hand, making plans for you. I would have been so proud of my big baby belly, and thrilled with each tiny kick from inside. As the time grew closer for you to come, we would have been so excited; we hardly would have been able to wait to meet you.
If you had been mine from the beginning, Daddy would have held my hand, lovingly urging me on as I struggled to bring you into the world. Your first cry would have filled us with a joy like no other, and I would have cried happy tears as I held you in my arms for the first time. Recognizing my voice, you would have looked up at me with your beautiful, trusting brown eyes…
…and you would have known instantly that I would love you forever.
If you had been mine from the beginning, I would have held you close to my heart: nursing you, covering your downy baby head with millions of tiny kisses, marvelling at all your perfect little fingers and toes. I would have held you for hours, drinking in your warmth and your sweet baby smell.
If you had been mine from the beginning, your new-baby cry would have broken my heart. I would have spent hours soothing you, if you needed to be soothed. I would have rocked you and held you and changed you and fed you and burped you and kissed your sweet baby face another billion times.
If you had been mine from the beginning, I would have spent hours looking into your darling face. I would have cooed at you and smiled at you, and Daddy and I would have gazed down at you with love in our eyes, and we would have celebrated those first little sounds that you made…and every little thing you did after. When you rolled over, sat up by yourself, clapped your chubby hands, spoke your first words, took your first steps…we would have been right there cheering you on.
If you had been mine from the beginning, I would have kept you with me always. I would have made up a gazillion silly little songs to animate our days together, and I would have read books to you and dressed you up and put tiny little bows in your hair. As you grew, I would have taught you your numbers and your colors and your ABCs, and I would have pushed you on the swings at the park. You would have laughed and squealed in delight, and looked at me with your beautiful, chocolate brown eyes…
…and you would have known that Mama would love you forever.
If you had been mine from the beginning, you would never have worried that someday, you might be abandoned. You wouldn’t, deep down, think that you’re worthless and unlovable.
If you had been mine from the beginning, you wouldn’t feel the need to control everything. You wouldn’t be so full of anger and fear and you wouldn’t have the need to fight against me and Daddy and against everything we ask you to do.
If you had been mine from the beginning, things would have been so much easier for you…and for me…and for our family. You would have been a happy, care-free child. You would have let the adults worry about adult things, and you would have spent all your energy on simply being a child.
If you had been mine from the beginning, you would trust me, and you would trust my decisions.
You would trust that I’ll love you forever, no matter what.
It’s been a tough day, huh, kiddo?
It was the kind of day that makes me cry out to God, asking Him to take away the suffering I see in your heart. The suffering that’s in my heart, too. I wish life could be easier for us, and especially for you, dear one.
But I know you’re going to make it.
We’re going to make it.
I believe in you, and I believe in us.
We’re fighters, you and me.
Oh, girl. How I wish you had been mine from the beginning.
No matter how many days like today we have, no matter what you do or how angry I am or how horrible you feel, I promise you…I’m so thankful that you’re mine now.
Mama loves you, Butterfly.
And I’ll love you forever…no matter what.
I’m married to a man that makes me laugh so hard that I usually end up in tears. He was saved four years into our marriage, and then we turned our union over to God and His plans. God took our offer and blessed it with four children in two years (two through the U.S. foster care system and two through good old-fashioned baby-making), and has since given us two more little biological sons, now 2 years and 3 months old. If anyone’s keeping track, that’s six children in seven years. Did I mention I’m insane? No seriously, God is good. He’s gently leading me down the paths of mothering, partnering with my incredible hubby, dealing personally with impulsive ADHD, homeschooling, and helping our adopted kids overcome Reactive Attachment Disorder. I’ve got a lot to learn, and most days I wonder how God could possibly love me with the absolute abandon that He does. I’m so thankful and so blessed, and I write about raising RAD kids, my family, and my lifelong journey of Overcoming Myself. Feel free to visit, but don’t expect perfection…the only good in me comes from Him.
I’m such a numbers girl. Give me percentages, and I start tracking. When I read these numbers a few weeks ago, they stuck with me. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services reported that 30% of all Americans reported having seriously considered adopting at some point in their lives. Yet, only 2% actually adopt. That means that of those who say they’ve seriously considered adopting, 14 out of 15 don’t ever do it.
Why not? It’s daunting—the financial cost, the impact this child will have on your family, the overwhelming number of unknowns. It’s no easy thing. We get that.
As we walked that road ourselves and alongside other families, we saw a need. That 2% of families who were taking that leap of faith to bring a child into their family through adoption—they needed more support. So, we took the leap of faith ourselves to do whatever we could to do just that.
Two years ago, we started The Sparrow Fund to give grants to families specifically for the purpose of family support through programs around the country that provide preadoption support and counsel, on-call support for families while they travel across the world to meet their children and bring them home, and support once they are home to help both the parents, new son or daughter, and family as a whole become a family.
Recognizing more need, we added programs to encourage and support families from those waiting to meet their children to those who have been home for years. We’ve helped families learn about the unique needs of children who have been adopted in the classroom and how to use correction as a vehicle of connection with their children in a way that is sensitive to them and their histories. And, this past February, we put on a weekend retreat for couples to be reminded of their calling as parents and refreshed to continue serving their children. When registration opened nearly 5 months before the event, it sold out in 16 hours. The need is undeniable.
We’re not interested in growing the number of families adopting; that’s not our focus. Rather, our focus is on pouring into that 2% who are adopting; we want to love and serve them and do whatever we can to make the daunting a little less daunting. And, maybe, just maybe, as the daunting becomes less daunting and the support available becomes more readily available, we’ll see more of those families who have seriously considered adopting say, “maybe we can do this afterall.”
Today starts an important month around here. A whole bunch of folks are coming alongside of us, saying, “Yes, we support adoptive families and the work of The Sparrow Fund to pour into them. And, we want to help.” This May, in our third annual fundraiser, about 50 businesses have made a commitment to help us build the nest so that we can help others as they build their nests. In addition to event sponsors who have donated set amounts to get that nest going, these business partners have made the commitment to give 10% of their total sales throughout the month of May to The Sparrow Fund so that we can do what we do.
That’s where you come in. CLICK HERE to see them all on one page or check them out below. Start clicking, and start shopping. Shopping purposefully is pretty fun. Let’s work together to make that 10% something crazy big.
Clothing & Accessories
Art and Design
Special Gifts & Treats
Books, Toys, & Musical Things
Sponsors for Building the Nest
To get the nest started…
Trades of Hope empowers women to create sustainable businesses worldwide. Their desire is for women worldwide to realize their potential as world changers, business owners, dream creators, and heroes of their own stories. A perfect supporter to build the nest for The Sparrow Fund.
Norman L. Graham, Inc. is a premier builder of custom homes and additions in South Central Pennsylvania. From design to construction, every Norman L. Graham project is built with care and careful attention to detail. What better partner to build the nest than a company who is all about nest building.
Other SponsorsKelly at The Sparrow Fund to be added to this post and future posts as part of this effort.
Forever changed by our experience of being adopted and adopting, Kelly is a stay-at-home mom/manager to 4 children and a professional juggler, juggling her calling as wife and mother with her secondary callings (editing and serving adoptive families through The Sparrow Fund). You can learn more about their adoption story, how they’ve been changed, and what life for them looks like on their personal blog, My Overthinking (where she’s going to have some super sweet giveaways this month, by the way).
I’ve been counting down the days until this Spring’s Created For Care conference for over a year.
I stayed up until midnight the night registration opened to make sure I got on the list before it sold out. I arranged a sitter months ago. I made new friends online and even arranged to share a room with someone I’d never met, which is huge for a socially awkward girl such as myself.
Created For Care is a conference for Moms who have adopted to come together and be refreshed. To learn more about what it means to parent for these kids that come from a broken past.
Cause y’all, it’s hard.
Harder then I ever imagined.
Josie’s six now and it’s been about six months since the questions started.
Some are easy, “How big was I when I came home to you?”
Some squeeze my chest until there’s no air left and I have to actively fight the tears back, “Can I call her Mommy? Does she love me? Would it be OK if I love her?”
It wretches and twists.
I selfishly want her all to myself, but that’s not the truth. She once belonged to someone else and even if that woman has no clue what she gave up when she walked out of that hospital and left my Josie Girl behind, Josie has a right to know about her, to love her if she wants to.
I want so, so badly for her to have a positive view on her adoption story. It’s special and,miraculous. Touched by God so obviously that anyone can see it. And everyday that Josie gets older I’m more aware that how she feels about her adoption will lay largely on how I react to her questions.
We’ve been age appropriate, but open with her.
We’ve recently began sharing more details with her when she asks. We don’t know much and a lot of her story she won’t be mature enough to hear for quite awhile, but she has names and her birth story and, yes baby, you can love her too.
“You don’t look like your Mommy,” her true to the world six year old friend states matter of factly and I see her eyes searching mine. I know that she’s feeling shy so I take her hand in mine and share the mystery of adoption with a huge smile on my face. I watch her friend get excited and yell out, “you got to be adopted?!?!” and there’s Josie’s smile. She’s ready to share.
Born in an ambulance, made to be a Pope but had to find us first. It’s her story and she’s piecing it together and I’m letting her grow and ask and trying hard to hold fast to my peace that I get to be her Mommy now and it’s ok, it’s good, to share.
So it’s hard and I was excited to go to Created For Care.
I was going to meet other moms that could really understand me and hear me and know I wasn’t complaining or ungrateful, but learning and feeling my way though, hoping I don’t screw up these kids.
And maybe a little bit scared too.
The closer the conference got though, the crazier our days were getting. We have a few big trips coming up and I am struggling to find ways to fit everything in. I tried to fight it and push on, but the feeling that something had to give kept pushing back.
And after a stressful morning where I was unkind to Josie, I looked at her coloring at the school table and my solution became clear. I didn’t need a weekend away to refresh and regroup. I needed a weekend away with her.
Just the two of us. Where we can talk and make memories and nurture this bond.
And so we are.
This morning we hopped on a plane and are headed to our Winter Wonderland. We should land in Minnesota anytime now. We are going to have tea and meet Baby Ralphie and, if I can talk myself into it, spend some time sledding down hills in the freezing cold.
Sometimes I have to get out of my own head and refocus on what’s important. I’m sure I’ll go to that conference someday. But today I’m going to hold my daughter’s hand and celebrate everything God gave me when he handed me this child.
It isn’t easy, but it’s everything I’ve ever wanted.
Nicole is a Northern Girl turned Southern Belle. She loves Starbucks, Photography, and Homeschool Curriculum Catalogs. Passionate about Jesus, adoption, and squeezing all the love and joy out of each day. You can follow along with her life at www.JourneyToJosie.com
I think I am back on my feet.
I spent a couple of days in denial before I finally faced my crushed emotions about having to wait even longer for our daughter. I felt victimized by our circumstances. In some ways, it is still tough for me to wrap my mind around the fact that I have NEVER heard of another Ugandan adoption taking 19 months – and we’ve only waited 19 months SO FAR. It looks like we’ll have been in process around 2 years before we bring Amelia home.
A couple of friends who were not pregnant at the start of our process are now pregnant for the SECOND time. Fellow adoptive parents who started their journey towards Uganda AFTER us are either home with their babies, or in Uganda now with their children.
I cried all Sunday long, thinking that I JUST want our daughter, and that this never-ending wait imposed most heavily upon our family simply isn’t fair.
But then I thought about what else is “NOT FAIR.”
It’s not fair that we are blessed to be able to adopt, while others will never know this blessing.
It’s not fair that we were matched with such an amazing baby girl, even when we’re so undeserving.
It’s not fair that our sweet girl still hasn’t reached her first birthday, while others have missed out on multiple birthdays of their children.
It’s not fair that God is using this adoption to teach us beautiful lessons that show us how majestic He is, even though we act like insolent toddlers pitching fits – at best.
It’s not fair that our version of a “tight budget” due to adoption expenses is the equivalent of flagrant wealth elsewhere in the world.
It’s not fair that our daughter is thriving in the most incredibly loving babies’ home I’ve ever heard of, while the children of other waiting parents around the world are stuck in cold, unloving orphanages.
It’s not fair that our daughter is held and loved and made to laugh every single day, while untold numbers of children around the world aren’t given as much as one smile or warm touch.
It’s not fair that we have received dozens of pictures of our daughter, while so many others ache to know who their child is.
It’s not fair that we’ve never lost a child, or had a child face serious illness, or faced any tragedy within our family, when there is so much pain in this world.
I could go on and on. My point is this… thank God that life isn’t fair. Without God’s grace, we are unloving, selfish, poor, evil people. Without God’s grace, “fair” takes on a very frightening meaning… and leads us to the depths of Hell. Our helplessly evil hearts deserve no good thing. Fair, truly, is that we face the wrath of God. Instead, Jesus came to face the wrath that He did not deserve. The cross was unfair. The cross put our punishment onto perfect Jesus, and put Jesus’ incredible rewards onto us. What could be more unfair than that?
I will take unfair any day. I will thank God for unfair every day.
It was unfairness that led Jesus to the cross for our sins, and it will be unfairness that brings sweet Amelia home.
Rachel has been married to her husband Brad for 5 years. They have a 3 year old named Caroline and a 1 year old named Amelia, whom they recently brought home from Uganda. God has used Amelia and adoption to show His love and glory to the Goode family. You can follow their story on their blog.
My afternoon yesterday was most likely your night…since I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific ocean. I read through Facebook posts and tweets about the Cardinals losing, Monday night football, Dancing With the Stars and some pretty nasty comments about the presidential debate. My mind was on other things. I was googling “mental retardation.” I engrossed myself in stigmas and causes. Medicinenet.com defines it this way, “Mental retardation: The condition of having an IQ measured as below 70 to 75 and significant delays or lacks in at least two areas of adaptive skills. Mental retardation is present from childhood.”
I read about studies done in orphanages in Budapest. Some said that for each month a child spends in an orphanage up to age three, their IQ score goes down 1/2 point. I read about stigmas of each name. How retard has become a dirty word. I know, I used it on just about everything growing up in the ’80s. Now, the politically correct phrase is developmentally delayed. Huh? That’s Jack’s special need according to all his paperwork.
Why am I bringing all this up now? I just left Jack’s cognitive assessment. I won’t have the results for several weeks, but I know the test the psychiatrist was using needed to be changed to fit his level more than once over the three hours we spent in that little room. Jack was awesome. I think in the same situation I would have been irritated with someone asking me the same question in a sing song voice repeatedly. I didn’t do so awesome. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t lost my composure. Here’s the thing. It’s a standardized test and Jack, well, Jack’s not standard. We call those little wax things colors. Dolls are babies. I’m Mama, not Mommy. Grandpa is a bear. Things like that tend to skew a test. I can’t think of a time I’ve said, “Jack give me the _____.” I say, “Can I have ____?” or “Hand me the _____.” “Get your shoes.” “Find your cup.” I wanted to yell, “You aren’t asking the right way!” I did finally say, “In our house those are (and then I spelled out) B-A-B-I-E-S.” That’s when I got the standard rules for standardized test speech.
Jack can count higher than half the kids on Bria’s class but he won’t answer if you say, “Jack, how old are you?” He just learned to say “Mama and Daddy” not that long ago. Jack parrots our behavior. Matching something is an abstract concept for him. He shares. He tries to do what we ask. Today I was overwhelmed leaving the test when he patted my shoulder and said, “Woook! Is a train!” He is getting it, ever so slowly. The fact is for whatever reason he is delayed.
I heard all about the orphanage delay. I had delusions of grander. Apparently what I heard loudest was, “he will catch up.” Instead of that, can’t speak, low muscle tone, missing fine motor skills points. I heard he’ll be like everyone else. He’s not. Neither is Arleigh, or Hanan or Bria. We all come with our own set of kinks and quirks. Low IQ was off my radar. I thought this would be, show him a car, say car, he’ll learn car sort of deal. It’s not. I’m mad right now because I hear some people saying, “I told her so.” I hear the naysayers in my head saying, “Do you know what’s going to happen to your family?” or “Did you really count the cost.” When I am overwhelmed with Jack’s delay I’m reminded that there were people along the way of our paper chase who wanted to tell me it would be too hard. When I’m struggling, sometimes I wonder what they are thinking now.
This is what I would say to myself of almost two years ago when we were just getting Jack’s file…
If you think the paperwork is scary now, you don’t know what scary is. Wait until they take him back for an MRI to look for brain damage. It is going to get a whole lot worse. It’s not blue skies and rainbows and sisters loving on brother the second you get off the plane. It’s hard. He’s going to get mad because he can’t tell you how he feels. You are going to get mad because all you want is a day at the beach and the beach is going to be the most terrifying place on earth the first few times he goes.
During this paper chase there is something about it. You are broken and want your boy home but you also feel like you are part of something bigger. You somehow really see your place in God’s plan. It’s easy now to shirk off naysayers. It’s a bit harder when Jack is in your arms and you want him to act like a normal little boy and he’s not. When you are holding him and he is tremoring like a seizure is coming on just because something is new and people are giving both you and Jack funny looks, try to remember that Wonder Woman feeling you have right now. It’s a bit harder to hold on to these days but it’s still there. Remind yourself that you are still part of God’s plan. You are helping the world see God’s love in a little boy.
Don’t quit. Jack will teach you so much about yourself. Some good, some bad. Jack is going to show you and those little girls a bigger world. He is going to win EVERYONE over even though he doesn’t talk much. The random guy at the school will come to love him. He will make people laugh out loud on a regular basis and you get to watch as he touches their hearts. Jack is going to open up compassion in Arleigh, Hanan and Bria like you’ve never seen. Bria will walk away from her little sister role to become a champion to her brother. You’re going to cry over all the tests. It’s going to be hard to watch him fail. Hard isn’t impossible. In his failing, he just gives himself more room to grow.
Jack isn’t going to be what you thought. He won’t be perfect. He’s going to be better. He may be with you until he’s 18 or forever. Either way it’s okay because you’re going to learn that when he’s around, you’re better. Delays are hard to swallow. It’s just one more mountain to climb. God wouldn’t have sent Jack to you if He thought you couldn’t do it. Somedays you may think you can’t. Remember that with God, you can.
Don’t quit! Sincerely,
Brandi is a Christian, military wife and mama to four true blessings. After living in Iceland and Maryland she started blogging so their extended family could keep up with their life on the east coast. Two moves and two kids later, one brought home from China, it’s about faith and family, dealing with developmental delays and their misadventures in Hawaii. You can read more here.
My heart is heavy this morning – burdened by families who I know and love who are struggling with their adopted children.
These kids come into our families from hard places where they have experienced unthinkable traumas. We have hope for our kids to heal and to learn how to be a part of a family again, but sometimes the road to healing is a long one – which isn’t always understood by folks watching from the outside.
I will never forget the day I taught a painting class at the orphanage in XN, where we lived for 4 years. I had paint kits for each child – with extras so they could choose which kit they wanted to work on. I stood before the class telling them they could choose. That is when all hell broke loose. There really are no other words to describe the chaos that followed. A fist fight broke out and I stood in shock. The nannies who were helping me pulled the “bullies” off of the other children and I ran to comfort the child who had received the worst of the blows.
I bent down and scooped up the 8 year old boy – who was one of my favorites in the class. I cradled him in my arms and began to softly speak to him as I rubbed his head. That is when the tears came in full. He pushed me away and began to scream and roll on the ground.
I recognized my mistake quickly. I am a mom at heart – I wanted to comfort my sweet little friend, but I had caused him more pain than the punch of his classmate. Being held in my arms was to much. He didn’t know how to respond. Didn’t understand the love of a mother.
His reaction haunts me. But it helps me to understand the hard work that is ahead of most adoptive parents. Our children, for many different reasons, have been denied the basic needs of feeling loved, safe and cared for. It hurts them in depths of their souls. One hug after a punch won’t fix that.
only a miracle from God the Father. I am watching God work that miracle in our little monkey. Nightmares slowly cease. Trust is built. Love is learned. But man – have we needed a bucket full of grace and a lot of prayer as those things have happened.
I guess that is what this post is about. Grace & Prayer.
When I am carrying my 5 year old on my hip – don’t look at me like I am an over indulgent mom. Understand, my girl was never carried as a baby. When she throws a temper tantrum over being left at Sunday school, understand she doesn’t trust me to come back to pick her up. When my little monkey spits out the food you serve our family, please remember she never had tasted cheese till a few months ago. Her new life is so foreign to her. Please show her grace and pray for our family.
Thankful God has extended it to me – so that I can extend it to my dear daughter – so that I can pray for other adoptive families and extend it to them as well. What a gift it is (and will be) to see the healing and transformation take place in the lives of our kids. Daily I am thankful that God has given me a front row seat to watch his hand at work.
Tammy has an amazing husband and four fantastic kiddos who keep her hopping. She counts it a blessing to have such a family and is burdened by those in the world who don’t. After living in China for several years and volunteering as an art teacher in a local orphanage, she is changed. She learned that orphans in China are normal, sweet, loving children who are hoping, wishing and praying for a family to call their own. She couldn’t adopt all of her students so she is on a mission to tell others about the joys of adoption. Check out her blog here.