Monthly Archives: September 2010

Images of Adoption

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God Doesn’t Need Me

Eden

This is our daughter, just after she arrived at the orphanage. Taken by a doctor who wanted to show us the extent of her malnourishment.

Yes, the orphan crisis is one of the few things that keeps me up at night. Children not only abandoned to AIDS, poverty, and war but then subject to exploitation at the hands of traffickers in their own hometowns . . . and in my hometown. The lump in my throat comes not at the vast numbers of children orphaned throughout the world but at the mental image of one single child. Cracked lips, hair matted from sweat, dirt caked fingernails, and bloodshot eyes from yet another night of poor sleep on the street.

Millions of little cross-bearers fill our earth without someone to help carry their load. I have yet to hear a story of an orphan enfolded into a home that didn’t reek of pain. The weight of my own personal pain has seemed unbearable at times, but it doesn’t hold a candle to what some of these 6 and 7 year-old orphans have faced. Alone. Their tolerance for pain stretched thin and at an age where I didn’t have one “ouchie” go unkissed.

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Eden’s ballet class is tomorrow. She dances around the room in a flurry of African hip-jerks and pirouette attempts. In her leotard and tights, the only thing that distinguishes her from her classmates (also learning to harness their energy into beauty) is her size. I sometimes forget that her petite frame didn’t come because God intended her to be pint-sized but because, as an infant, she spent her days laying alone next to the field where her father worked. No breast to feed this little ballerina.

As I futilely try to wrap my mind around how I see one of the world’s greatest crises—a child plodding through life parentless—there is one conclusion, however, that I keep coming back to.

God doesn’t need me.

I have to admit there are times when I’ve approached this crisis (and even our own adoption as an answer) with a virulent pride, albeit subtle. On the surface, it comes in the form of seeing myself orchestrating a rescue mission. But, a few layers deep reveals a fissure in my understanding of God. He did not create this crisis—but that does not mean He is powerless to fix it. And, when the catalyst for my actions is the belief that God needs me to respond, He is relegated to a copilot. I become the healer; He becomes my helper as I heal.

The end result of this line of thinking or an intimate peak into the things God cares about can look the same: zealous passion for the things on God’s heart. But, the source of that passion is everything.

As we move forward with our next adoption, I wrestle with pride about how I am responding to (what I perceive to be) one of the world’s greatest crises. And, when I’m there, I am usually furiously chasing paperwork and breathing down my social worker’s neck to see if we could possibly speed things up and get these children home sooner.

And, at times, I rest my head on His chest, like I used to do with my dad when I was a child, and I hear His heartbeat for these little ones. And, I ache with the pain that He allows me to feel from His heart. And, when I’m there . . . I am usually furiously chasing paperwork and breathing down my social worker’s neck to see if we could possibly speed things up and get these children home sooner.

I believe God cares more about the source of my passion than the reach of its output. My invitation to participate is less about meeting a need than it is about walking more deeply with the Father. And, this hard-won truth has come after years of zealous pride in my “work.”

I know now that there are two rescue missions going on in this adoption. He’s rescuing my heart, even more still. He’s giving me a window into how He feels about orphans. His heartbeat. His plan. And He’s tenderly letting me in on His work, in the same way I allow my little Caleb to help me cook. He’s drawing me in deeper into Himself by using me in the life of a child He could so easily save without me.

And He’s putting the lonely—two of them, in this case—in a family. Even under our roof and in our arms, they will still need Jesus. Clean water, soft skin, and big comfy beds are what He lets me provide, among other things. But, the power to save rests not in my hands.

He likes it when we respond to His heart, and the world is brought more deeply in line with His kingdom when we do so. It’s just that, actually, God doesn’t need me.

He chooses to invite me.

Eden before her first ballet class, 17 months later

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Sara Hagerty

Sara and her husband, Nate, have been married for nine years and brought home their two children from Ethiopia last year. They recently started the adoption process for two more from Uganda! They have a heart for prayer and to see people touched by the love of Jesus. What started as a blog chronicling the ups and downs of adoption has become a passion for Sara. You can read more of her musings on orphans, walking with God through pain and perplexity . . . and spinach juice at Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet.



Enough

During a fairly normal conversation with a friend, I brought up that I was advocating for a child on my blog. A child that grabbed my heart and that we were waiting for God to speak to us about him.

The response: “Another one? Geez guys, haven’t you all done enough?”

I was kinda stunned for a second then threw out a little nervous laugh and reminded him that there were 147 MILLION orphans in the world. We have adopted 5. Just 5.

That got me thinking about what he said.

What is the perception of enough?

I actually went to the dictionary (online, of course, ’cause I don’t own any other type!) because I wanted to fully understand the actual definition of this word, not my perceived definition of the word.

enough: occurring in such quantity, quality, or scope as to fully meet demands, needs, or expectations.

And there it was…expectations.

Because 5 adoptions doesn’t meet the demands of the orphaned children or the need for families to adopt, the issue is then with the expectation of what is enough.

And, because we are human, each person’s expectation of what is enough is different.

I mean, last night at Cold Stone, Jacob wanted the Gotta Have It cup size of Oreo Crème Filling ice cream (translation: 12 oz LARGE SIZE), and I felt that the kid size was enough. He also wanted multiple mix-ins (marshmallows, gummy bears, and rainbow sprinkles), and I only allowed him to have 1.

The problem with this issue is that when it comes to caring for God’s children, the only person who can define what is enough is God.

To my friend, 1 adoption is enough. His baseline thinking is: There is an orphan problem; you adopt one of them; you’ve done your part.

In my view, this isn’t about “your part.” It’s about God’s call and what HE wants YOU to do.

For some families, God’s call is to adopt 1 child.

For another family, God’s call might be to adopt 9 children.

It looks different for every family.

In my opinion, this can’t be defined with our human eyes or by our level of comfort or by the level of “risk” we want to personally take on, because humans are normally all about comfort and low risk (I know I am). This is why I cannot and do not depend on my own self as a determining factor on whether we adopt again.

Adoption is about a lot of things including risk and being uncomfortable, and God never promised that following him wouldn’t be risky or uncomfortable. But, sometimes, you have to experience those things in order to experience God’s BEST.

As missionary Hudson Taylor put it: God’s work done God’s way will never lack God’s supply. This means that if the Lord has directed you to adopt, He will bless you with everything necessary to accomplish what He has asked you to do regardless if it’s the 1st adoption or the 10th. And, by “everything necessary,” I mean: patience, love, money, etc.

He’s done it 5 times for us. 5 TIMES.

God is faithful, and He doesn’t fail.

The Bible states clearly that only good things come from Him.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

So, if God is asking us to adopt again, then it must be a good thing from Him. Therefore, we made the decision to let God decide how many adoptions is ENOUGH. And, truthfully, I don’t know what that number will look like. This is scary and exciting at the same time! And, that’s what following God is all about.

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Nicole

Nicole is a Christian wife and mother to 6 amazing blessings. She has a 19-year-old daughter Katelyn (19) who is homegrown and 5 miracles through International Adoption:  Jacob (7) was adopted from Russia and Kiah (5), Luke (4), Logan (3), and Ava (3) were adopted from China.  You can read more about her and her family here.

Adoption Day: A Letter to My New Son

Just recently, we finalized the adoption of our son, Joshua, from the foster care system. On adoption day, I wrote the following letter for him to read as he grows up:

Jason and Josh Weber

Dear Joshua –

As I write this it is about 5:30 in the morning. The house is very quiet right now, but it won’t be for long. In less than three hours, you, me, your mom, and your 3 sisters (who will probably be wearing very fluffy dresses) will pile into the van to go the courthouse for your adoption day. While you’ve been with us for just over six months already and I considered you my son the moment you arrived, there is something very important about today.

What makes today different is the fact that you being my son and me being your dad becomes FINAL. When something becomes final, rest always follows. When God created the world and everything in it – from trees to dandelions (don’t let anyone tell you they are weeds) to the duckbilled platypus – He finished all of that and then there was rest. When your mom and I finish a hard day of working, there is rest. When a runner runs a race and it is finally over, he rests.

So today, when the judge hits the top of her bench with the gavel, your mother and I will take a deep breath inside and feel this great sense of peace and rest.

Josh, one of the reasons adoption is such a privilege is because when I think about the process of adopting you and your big sisters, it helps me to understand God much better.

The Bible says this:

“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do and it gave him great pleasure.” – Ephesians 1:5 (NLT)

There are many times when I don’t understand why God would ever want me as His son. There is nothing special about me and I am always messing stuff up. There are things I know He wants me to do that sometimes I am afraid to do or just too lazy to do. But that verse tells me that He didn’t adopt me because I was good enough to be adopted by Him. He adopted me because He just wanted to. He just wanted to and it gave Him GREAT pleasure! Now, this is something I really understand. And the only reason I understand it is because I have had the privilege to adopt you and your sisters. Joshua, I just want to adopt you. It gives me such great pleasure to do so. In fact, I can’t believe I get to adopt you. Your mom and I love you so much and we are overjoyed to be able to call you our son. It gives us GREAT pleasure!

So with that, I am going to get up and iron my shirt and get ready to take you to the courthouse, little man. Let’s get this thing final and enjoy the rest that will come.

Love,

Your Dad

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Jason Weber

Jason and his wife Trisha have been foster parents since 2001 and have adopted their 4 children through the foster care system. They have been on staff with Hope for Orphans since 2004. Also, Jason wrote the book Launching an Orphans Ministry in Your Church and he and Trisha are coauthors of the FamilyLife Homebuilders Bible Study entitled Considering Adoption: A Biblical Perspective. Jason is also one of the cohosts of the If You Were Mine DVD Adoption Workshop published by FamilyLife Publishing. Jason is a national speaker and workshop leader on adoption and church orphans ministry. You can read this letter in his original post dated March 3, 2010 here.

Just Waiting, Part 25…or Large Thorns, Large Blessings

Faith is believing in things not yet seen.

I have yet to see a photograph of a baby dressed in split pants, with a sign propped next to her boldly announcing the three Chinese characters that form her name. I have yet to share in the joy of referrals with others in our DTC group. I have yet to see a light at the end of our tunnel. Yet, I still believe.

I believe because I have faith.

Whether you are Christian or not, it takes Great Faith to believe that China continues to move along with its international adoption program, albeit at a snail’s pace. It takes Great Faith to cling to the thought of one day meeting a child who will become your daughter or son. It takes Great Faith to trust in God’s will and timing.

Faith.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

We, I, being human, often blur the lines between faith and personal rights.

China doesn’t owe me anything. God doesn’t owe me anything. In fact, if the truth were told, I owe everything to God and to the country of China for allowing me to parent the one beautiful, vivacious daughter who currently fills my life with laughter and our little corner of the world with mischief. (Most recently, she upended an entire bucket of water onto poor Posies head. Sigh.)

Yet, I’m struggling with anger right now as well as a tremendous sense of impatience. It shames me to admit that because I don’t have a right to these emotions. God does not owe me anything, not even parenthood, whether through birth or adoption. I am not entitled to adopt from China; I am privileged to apply. And, a child born halfway around the world does not deserve to experience abandonment just so that I can mother her.

Impatience.

It’s difficult for others outside of the adoption world to truly understand how it feels to wait during the adoption process. It’s similar to being two months pregnant, only that single moment in time lasts for years and years. You still haven’t quite reached “the safe period,” so you hesitate about sharing the news, since you don’t know what the future holds. It’s too early to set up the nursery, yet you need to plan for it, so you dream and wait. You aren’t visibly pregnant, yet your emotions often take you on a roller coaster ride, so you struggle to live life as you did before. Things get put on hold because you make statements like, “well, we won’t be able to do that because the baby might be here by then.” And, because it’s an adoption, instead of a pregnancy, your due date constantly pushes back further and further and further.

It’s difficult to wait.

This past weekend the Husband and I worked for hours in our garden: pruning, weeding, even widening one of our flower beds. I spent quite some time puttering with my roses. We have several rose bushes, but the ones most people notice are the two largest. The first sits in the front yard, along the walkway leading to our front door. It blooms with gorgeous, fragrant red roses. The bush in our backyard next to the herb garden blooms with smaller, pale peach and less fragrant roses. While I worked with these two plants, I remembered something my friend Lizard once called to my attention.

If you look closely, you’ll see there exist less obvious differences between our two rose bushes. And, if you grab hold of a stem from each plant, you will learn of their differences painfully.

Our red rose bush sports the most wicked thorns I’ve ever personally handled. Our peach rose bush? It hardly contains any thorns at all. I can cut this bush back without even bothering to wear gardening gloves. Lizard, a former florist, once told me that you can predict how large the blooms will be by looking at the thorns . . . the larger the thorns, the larger the roses.

The larger the thorns, the larger the roses.

The larger the bumps in the road, the larger the blessings.

I learned this lesson already with the Tongginator. I truly did. Now, perhaps my thorns, at least this time around, aren’t the actual adoption process and wait, as I initially believed. Perhaps, this time, the thorns are in my soul. Perhaps God is using this long wait (25 months today) to teach me the true meaning of faith: hope without entitlement and patience without anger.

Perhaps…

What are you waiting for? And, more importantly, what are you learning during your season of waiting?

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Mother to the little Tongginator

Although Tonggu Momma wrote this post over 2 years ago, she continues to learn God-sized lessons during her season of waiting. She and her family now have been officially waiting to adopt from China for 4 years, 3 months, 5 days, and 6 hours. Not that she’s counting or anything. (And see??? She DOES need this lesson from the Lord.) They expect to receive a referral sometime this winter and to travel to meet and bring home their newly adopted child 1 to 2 months after that. Tonggu Momma knows that her long-awaited second child will be worth the wait! And that her now 6-year-old Tongginator will make an awesome big sister! Follow along as they prepare to travel to China to meet their new child at her personal blog Our Little Tongginator. She also writes at the group adoption blog Grown In My Heart and the China-adoption special needs program advocacy blog No Hands But Ours because sometimes children adopted through the nonspecial needs program have special needs too. Just ask her daughter, the Tongginator.

Why We Chose Special Needs Adoption

We were accepted into our agency’s Ethiopia adoption program in December 2008. Soon after we received our acceptance, we filled out a supplemental application to be accepted into their waiting child program for Ethiopia. There are two different types of adoption in respect to international adoption. Healthy children are children who are under 5 years old and free from any medical or developmental conditions. Waiting Children are children who are over the age of 5, have special medical or developmental needs, or are part of a sibling group where one or more of the children match the criteria for waiting children. Waiting children are considered harder to place and less adoptable. Sometimes the only special need they have is their age. Many children over 5 are on waiting child lists and have no other medical or developmental special needs other than the fact that they are over five. And, it is fair to state here, sometimes children who are adopted as healthy children in fact have medical conditions that have gone undiagnosed or undetected. It is important to remember that cultural and medical standards are very different in developing countries. Do your research, and trust God.

We had been approved through the healthy child Ethiopia adoption process, so the next step was to also gain approval to adopt a child from the waiting child list. Why did we want approval to adopt from the waiting child list, knowing that these children are harder to place and come with special needs (some lifelong)? When we began talking about adoption, we felt the Lord placing on our hearts to be open to any child that He has for us. It was through many conversations, prayer, and reading God’s word that we knew God was calling us to more in our adoption. The Lord was gentle in leading us to this revelation, and He was sure to take us to a place where we were at peace with possibly having an adult child to raise. We knew that the Lord was at work when we found ourselves not fearful about bringing a child with special needs into our home, even if that meant they would be with us at home forever.

I can remember how the Lord walked me through the realization that we would be giving some pretty big things up in order to fold children with special needs into our family, things like freedom through retirement, freedom from financially supporting children, freedom to rest in retirement, travel…all the things that are so important to our society. It seems that as Americans, the pinnacle of our life is to make sure that we have set ourselves up for retirement. And, once we have arrived there, we have made it. Then, we have total freedom to do as we choose until we leave this earth. We knew that we would be giving all that up, until we realized that the only freedom that truly exists is to be living in God’s will for the rest of our lives. And, the bottom line for us was that we chose to serve Him. And, He was clearly calling us to serve Him through loving His orphans, specifically disabled orphans.

Please don’t think that this decision was made lightly. We had many conversations. We counted the cost. And, in the end, the cost was insignificant. Serving God, loving His orphans, living in His will, finding peace and joy in His commands…all that was more significant than anything we thought we might be giving up. I’m not sure really when the Lord began opening our hearts to special needs adoption, but I would be comfortable saying that it was years ago, before we ever knew we would adopt. I’m sure the Lord was at work long ago planting seeds, conversations, ideas and anything else He knew we would need to make this decision with peace in our hearts. That’s just the kind of God we serve. He’s gentle, compassionate, and very intentional. Nothing He does is nonpurposeful, and I hope that we are always in fellowship with Him so we don’t miss what He is trying to communicate with us.

In the end though, do you know what it all came down to? There was a child in Ethiopia, in an orphanage, who desperately needed a family and medical attention. And, we were a family, in the United States, with access to all the things she needed, and we were willing to love her. The Lord had already taken care of all the rest.

We are not surprised to say that the Lord has remained faithful to us, His servants. Our daughter has never had a need go unmet. The Lord has never forgotten her. And, as we have learned more of her history, we see how the Lord’s hand has never left her little life. We are so grateful that we did not miss out on this huge blessing in our life. We could have said no, and I hate to think of how we would have missed God big time.

Luke 9:57-62

As they were walking along the road a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to home, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you Lord; but first let me go back and say good-bye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

I will wrap this up by saying that this journey has not been all roses. There have been many thorns along the way, but God has been so gentle and patient with us as we repeatedly stick our fingers on those thorns. His faithfulness and healing have been overwhelming at times. We still can’t figure out why He has chosen to bless us with the responsibility of showing His love to these very special children, but we are so glad He did. We are happy to try and answer any questions that prospective adoptive parents might have regarding special needs adoption!

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Allison

Allison has been married to Andy for almost 9 years. They have gathered four treasures so far: two sons through birth (5, 3) and two daughters through special needs adoption (6, 3). Their first adopted daughter came home from Ethiopia in July 2009. She is partially blind and has a severe global developmental delay. Their second adopted daughter should be coming home from China in December 2010 and has Osteogenesis Imperfecta or brittle bone disease. Allison and Andy are very involved with their Orphan’s Hope small group at church and are looking forward to bringing many more treasures home, Lord willing! You can follow their family’s journey on their blog.

Who’s the Protector?

When I was 21 years old, I called my mom and dad from college with some reservation, nervousness, and hesitation. Finally, I announced I would be searching for my birthmother. There was a pause on the other end of the phone and then my parents erupted with information, information that they had known for 21 years, information they were waiting for me to come and get.

Over those 21 years, I thought a lot about my birthmother and wondered about her, but I never shared that with my mom and dad. Recently, I realized we were both waiting for the other to say something. My parents assumed since I didn’t bring it up that I wasn’t thinking about it. I assumed since they didn’t bring it up, they didn’t want to talk about it and didn’t know anything.

Often, I hear the same assumptions from adoptive parents especially about the issue of race. “Kevin doesn’t have issues with race because he never says anything about it. But, when he does say something, we will talk about it.”

Many adoptees learn early on how to protect those around them. So, if an issue comes up about race, and we already sense our family isn’t comfortable talking about it, we just don’t say anything. We believe it will hurt them, so we hide it to protect them.

The number of racial incidents and issues I had growing up are beyond my ability to count. The number of incidents I shared with my parents I can count using my fingers and still have some digits left over to type this post.

I have heard children notice racial differences as early as a few months old and as late as 3 years old. Assuming your child of color doesn’t realize or feel different in an all-white family and environment because they haven’t said anything is at best an oversight. Giving the child of color the responsibility of addressing this issue or starting this conversation is at best a misstep.

When I hung the phone up in my college dorm room, I was relieved that Mom and Dad were so open to me searching for my birthmother and happy they knew so much about her. As I walked across my college room, relief and happiness swirled into confusion. “How come they never shared this information with me over the past 21 years?” was the question that echoed off the walls of my small room. “I guess I should’ve asked” was the thought that bounced back. The role of protector had become such a part of me.

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Think about it. Talk about it.

How can you create a safe place for your child to discuss racial issues?

What can you do to be proactive in conversation with your child about his or her heritage?

How can you appropriately and effectively involve others to this end?

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Kevin Hofmann

Kevin Hofmann is an accomplished writer and public speaker who has a passion for adoption and especially transracial adoption. He is an adoption advocate and enjoys sharing his experiences as a biracial, transracial adoptee to help other adoptive families. He has dedicated his blog to adoptive parents, sharing his thoughts and feelings as a transracial adoptee.  He lives with his wife and two sons in Toledo, Ohio.

I Don’t Love You Today, Maybe Tomorrow…

Adrian and Ping

Me: What did Daddy say?
Ping: Ping no throw books.
Me: Right, and what did Ping do?
Ping: Yes throw book.
Me: Did Ping listen to Daddy?
Ping: No.
Me: Is Daddy happy or sad that you did not listen.
Ping: Daddy no happy.
Me: So will Ping listen to Daddy?
Ping: Yes.
Me: Thank you. Daddy loves you, Ping.
Ping: I no love Daddy.
Me: That is okay. But, I still love you.
Ping: I no love Daddy.
Me: That is okay. But, Daddy still loves Ping.
Ping: I no say I love Daddy today.
Me: Maybe tomorrow?
Ping: Yes. Ping love Daddy tomorrow.
Me: That’s great. I still love you today though and tomorrow.
Ping: No today. Tomorrow, I love Daddy.
Me: Okay, good night, baby. I love you.

I would have to say that once the initial punched-in-the-gut feeling wore off, this made me so very happy! I was thrilled that my daughter said she “no love” me (more on that at the end of the post).

Ah, the joys of parenthood! It is not for the faint or the weak or those who get queasy at the sight of blood. That’s for sure. Having your child tell you they don’t love you is one thing, thinking they believe it is something else. If Ping were angry or yelling or if we just had a big fight, I would have been much more fine with her saying she “no love” me, because I would understand that it was an emotional response, and she was angry. However, this was not that case. Yes, I told her not to throw books, but it was actually kind of funny, not a “scolding,” and she never got into any “trouble.” So, when she said she didn’t love me, it was much more “matter of fact.” You know, like a “Hey, just in case you were wondering, no, I don’t love you.” To which I would say, “Any particular reason?” And, she would answer, “Nope, no reason. I just don’t love you.” Ah, well, I see then . . . carry on then.

But, this was the “1 step back” for the week, and the flip side has been the “2 steps forward.”

Just this morning, Ping chased me down as I was getting breakfast ready and asked to be picked up. Once she was safely in my arms, she snuggled her head into my neck and said she wanted a hug, then she held on so tight, and I’m pretty sure she was just about crying.

There are definite moments of vulnerability now which were never there before, and we are so proud of how well she is doing. Ping is truly amazing.

But my final thought on this whole “I no love you Daddy” is this:
She gets it.
She finally gets it
or, at least, is getting it.
It being love.
If she did not get love, she would not think to deny me love.
Right?
She must be understanding that love is this wonderful thing and that it is very important and that it feels great to be loved, safe, and accepted.
She would not try to deny me something bad.
I mean, after she threw the book and was angry, it’s not like she said, “Ping no give Daddy dirty diapers!”
She knew that denying love would be painful which means she gets the importance of love.

So, I am thrilled that she thought to deny me love.
I can only hope everyone gets that chance to have their children tell them that they don’t love them.

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Adrian Berzenji

Adrian and Roberta have been married for over 13 years. They were married for 1 year when they decided to “wait 3 to 5 years” before having children. They bought a 1-bedroom condo and a 2-door car and were pregnant 2 weeks later. Nine months later, Kole was born (who is currently 12 going on 30). Shortly thereafter, their second son Dawson was born (10, going on, well . . . 10). Gemma came 4 years later (she is 6, going on 16). They were pregnant with Ping for about 2 years, but she came to them in November 2009 from Guangdong, China and is currently 4 1/2 years old. Adrian blogs about their family story and daily life here. Visit and be impacted…and amused by his wit.

Dressed as Orphans

Kayden

Prior to leaving for China, I had purchased several new outfits for Kayden and brought them with us. Even though every outfit was a perfect fit, Kayden continued to wear the clothing that she had brought with her from the orphanage. She only had one pair of jeans, and she wore them over and over again, regardless of me suggesting other outfits to her. I have read that this is a pretty typical behavior and figured if wearing the clothing that she had brought with her, that had all of the familiar smells of the orphanage, gave her a sense of comfort or familiarity, than it was not worth an upset to try to get her to wear the clothing we had brought for her. I admit that I always felt a little uncomfortable when we went out, as most of her clothing was a poor fit and the styles were unflattering on her. I wanted to tell everybody that she had some really cute outfits but that she wasn’t wearing them. I wanted everyone to be able to take one look at her and know that she belonged to us and that she was loved and cherished. In spite of all of my desires and Kayden having new clothing readily available to her, she chose to dress as she did when she was an orphan.

Is this behavior because these children want to hold on to the comforts and familiarity of their past, or have they not fully embraced this new role and are not quite comfortable or confident in dressing the part? Maybe in the newness of it all, they do not even realize that there is even a difference.

As I have pondered this, I cannot help but see the parallels to this and our own adoption into the family of God. How often do we exhibit this same behavior? As Christians, we have been adopted as God’s own children. Our father is the King of Kings; and, yet, day after day, we frequently get up and put on the same dirty clothes that we wore before we ever knew Him. To be “in Christ” is to be clothed in His righteousness; and, yet, often when faced with the difficulties of life, it is “easier” to respond apart from that righteousness. How often do we find ourselves “wearing” anger, fear, doubt, wrong thoughts, impatience, or immorality rather than the garments of mercy, trust, faith, humility, gentleness, patience, or purity? Whatever “outfit” we decide to wear is going to be directly affected by the condition of our mind and thoughts.

Father,
Forgive me for so often dressing as an orphan when you want others to be able to look at me and know that I belong to You. Help me to put on the garments that You have provided me to wear and to bring glory to Your Name rather than shame. Place in me the desire to daily renew my mind through the reading of your Word, becoming more and more like You.

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Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. . . . And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. (Colossians 3:12-14,17)

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Lori King

Lori and her husband, Paul live in Northern MN where they are raising 6 of their children (aged 3, 5, 6, 13, 16, and 18). They are passionate about living for Jesus, adoption, homeschooling, and raising children who know and love the Lord. You can learn more about their family and their most recent adoption of Kayden in March 2010 on their personal blog.

What is Your Fairytale?

This is my family!!!

I have been thinking a lot about the Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream
by David Platt, our daily life right now, 147 Million Orphans, Amazima, and so much more. I think I paint a pretty real picture of our lives, and I have no idea how many people read my blog, but it has been requested that since I have a large audience (not sure if that is true), I have an obligation to tell the truth about adoption and make sure people understand what the journey really looks like. I will say this sorta of didn’t sit well with me since I think I do, and it is my blog, so I get to write what I want…

TRUTH #1

No two adoption journeys are alike. I have had easy, hard, and beyond difficult.

TRUTH #2

I have been wiping bottoms for the last 12 years (except for a 1-year break). Do I like wiping nasty, just-came-home, stomach-adjusting poop to start my day? NO WAY. But, I am the MOM. So, I do.

TRUTH #3

Your body adjusts to no sleep. Don’t forget to take care of yourself (I try my best to workout 5 days a week), but the bottom line is we are called to die to self everyday. So, waking in the middle of the night to a screaming tantrum child who is healing from trauma is what I do because I am the MOM.

TRUTH #4

I don’t like laying down with my kids at night. I have been with them all day–playing, laughing, feeding, healing booboos, kissing foreheads, and tickling silly. So, at bedtime, I just want them to go to bed. I have a million things to do; and, if I lay with one child, then I have to lay with 6. And, by the end of that, I am toast!!! But, I lay down with kids because I have one who needs me to feel secure to go off to bed, and I do this because I am the MOM.

TRUTH #5

I don’t like putting bandaids on pretend injuries. I am a pull-yourself-up-by-your-boot straps kind of girl. Both of my parents worked as I was growing up, so I learned how to take care of myself and my brother pretty early in life. I don’t like whiners or crybabies. But, when the cries and whines come from a deep place within a child who is really just testing if you love them or not, then I put on a smile, get out the bandaids, and pretend we are preforming a serious operation. I do that because I am the MOM.

TRUTH #6

More people could do what I do because I am no one special. I am just a MOM being available to the Lord.

The bottom line is that if you think I live a fairytale life or you want a fairytale adoption journey, then you are living in a fantasy world. I am living out the fairytales that are written about in Scripture.

Serving

Giving

Dying to self

Loving the least of these

Telling people about Jesus

Seeing my brothers/sister who are hurting

Prince Eric & Ariel–Prince Charming & Sleeping Beauty–Cinderella & her Prince–Jasmine & Alladin got nothing on Scott and I!!! You decide which fairytale you want to live out on this earth, because it will determine which life you live for eternity.

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Gwen Oatsvall

Gwen Oatsvall is a wife and mother of 6 and is passionate about orphans and Jesus. She knew that their family had a part in helping, loving, and providing hope to the 147 million orphans of the world, so Gwen and her best friend cofounded 147MillionOrphans.com. Their families try to bring light to the orphan crisis and speak up for those who have no voice. Her life is what she likes to call “organized chaos,” and she wouldn’t have it any other way. You can follow Gwen Oatsvail’s family blog about adoption, family life, and helping orphans around the world here.

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