Jaaja is Luganda for grandmother.
This is a picture of my mom when we drove down to hang out at the Equator. You know…just a typical day, hangin’ at the Equator. She flew last-minute, halfway around the world, to help me with the boys while in Uganda.
She wrote a few thoughts down the other day, and I thought I’d share them with you…
On Wednesday, February 9, Joseph and Mathew will OFFICIALLY be Jobes and US citizens- all in one swift rap of a gavel. And they will officially be our grandsons. But, they have been ours for over a year.
We began praying for our grandchildren in January 2010. We didn’t know who they were and were not even sure where they would come from. But we knew they were ours.
As the year progressed, we learned they would come from Uganda, and then we finally learned they were Mathew and Joseph. And in early October, Shannon (our eldest) and Colleen went to Uganda to begin the process to bring them home. We knew that Shannon could stay for only two weeks. As her departure approached, it was evident that Colleen would need help until the boys could leave the country. So, being THE MOM (as I always refer to myself), I went. Wouldn’t you? Of course you would.
What an adventure! I saw baboons (along the road, mind you), crossed the Nile River AND the equator, and ate avocados every day. And everyone called me “Jaa-ja”. Ah, Uganda, where Jaa-ja (Grandmother) is revered and welcomed. America, get a clue! And that is where I first met Mathew and Joseph.
They were adorable…..and unhappy and tantrum throwers and belligerent. And I loved them greatly from the very first moment-not because they were lovable, but because they were mine, and they broke my heart. They needed parents and grandparents and a home…and that is what Colleen and Lucas and all the extended family would give them.
Two weeks later, Colleen and I brought them home, all of us crying most of the way (the boys did NOT like seat belts). That was the last day of October. And now it is February, and in these few, short months Mathew and Joseph are happy and obedient (mostly) and well-adjusted three-year-olds. And, most importantly, they are adopted. They are sons. They are chosen. They are secure.
Hmmm. There was a time when I was a tantrum-throwing, unhappy, belligerent lost soul. But now, but now I am adopted. I am a child of the Father through faith in His son, Jesus Christ. He loved me before I knew Him. He loved me when I was unlovable. I broke His heart. And He has made me his child forever.
I look at pictures of the boys, or see them in person and squish them (because they are so-o-o squishable) and always remember that I am adopted, too. Praise God.
Praise God indeed!
Colleen and Lucas are parents of four children – two girls by birth and two boys who were adopted independently from Uganda. The boys are unrelated (by birth) and are virtual twins. Lucas is in the Air Force and Colleen is a stay-at-home mom who also has the privilege of being a partner at Wild Olive, a Christian t-shirt company for women. Colleen’s adoption ramblings can be read on her blog.
an acronym that sounds like something teeny bopper texters are zapping back and forth…
but in my world, it means a HUGE step in our adoption progress…our Letter of Approval (shortened from the real name, which is Letter of Seeking Confirmation from Adopter = LOSCFA…goodness. add in our I-800. I-800A. I-864W. Artical 16. DS-230. DS-1981. and the list goes on…the vast number of forms and form names that make no rational sense in the adoption process is mind boggling.
but this…the LOA. the text messaging name. it’s my favorite.
you know why? because i have been dreading it. it’s a HUGE step, but because of our living situation, we are still waiting on a second homeland security approval in order to return our signed LOA. i have been hoping and praying the homeland security would come in first. but it hasn’t. so now, i will pray for faith. for an added abundance of faith. faith that God has this under control. that we aren’t behind. that we won’t miss a single possible day without our daughter. that i can release my heart racing palpitations. that the earth rocking anxiety pains i am feeling will subside. that i can stop shaking with nervous anticipation.
this is a blabbering post…but i need to document it for me. for emery.
i’m coming for you, sweetie.
your Father has not forgotten you.
i can’t do anything to change this process.
i can’t do anything more than i am doing.
i’m letting Him do the rest.
and i’ll come for you right when i am supposed to.
my sweet sweetie pie.
today i cried a lot for you.
i cried because i don’t have you.
and maybe you are crying because you don’t have me.
soon and very soon…we can cry together…tears of joy at our family complete.
it is a day that will be sooner than i realize. yet still too far away.
LOA. Love of Adoption. because no matter how hard or difficult or confusing, it leads me to you. and i love it.
I have to say that I have been pleasantly surprised! We have actually received no negative comments to our announcement that we are adopting again.
That includes negative comments from family as well!
Well, at least none that were made directly to US.
But, we have had lots of questions. Mostly the regular ones:
How expensive is it?
What made you decide to do this again? (asked with true sentiment)
How many kids do you have now? Do they all get along?
How do you find the time and energy?
Here is my favorite funny one: I guess China expects you to come back every year now?
And then I received the most profound comment the other day.
I don’t know what made me so acutely aware of the words…that probably means it’s a GOD thing.
“So…you guys are yet again committing yourselves to another life.”
I actually just…stopped. It was like the whole world was in slow motion at that moment.
You might say…ALL THAT over a simple comment?
But, it’s not simple. For me, it was quite clear how double the meaning was.
YES…we are committing ourselves to another LIFE. Bella’s life. We will be promising to love her, care for her, provide her an education and medical care.
And YES…we are committing ourselves yet again to another LIFE. Meaning the way we live, the way we spend our money, the way we view the orphan crisis, the way we view society, the way society views US.
I think that last reason is the one that has caused my husband to take pause.
The way in which society views US.
I mean…the first thing that our social worker (SHE’S THE BEST!!!!) said to us when we sat down to do the homestudy for Bella’s adoption was “Anyone called you crazy yet???” We both laughed.
Sometimes the comments ain’t pretty which is something I truly don’t understand. And, sometimes it’s quite interesting.
Here is an example from last week’s outing to Jake and Kiah’s Belt Ceremony at the karate school.
I sat next to a family whose 2 children started karate on the same exact day as Jake and Kiah. We began talking about the kid’s belt progress and having casual conversation about the mom’s new 3 month old son. You know…burps, formula, giggles, and sleeping through the night.
And then, it got interesting.
THE MOM: So, what have you been up to?
ME: (blah blah blah talking about regular life as I hold her baby) and you may have heard that we are adopting again.
THE MOM: Again? (brief pause) WOW! (more loudly) Like WOW! I mean WOW! (super loudly with giggling) MOM! (now addressing her mother) MOM! They are adopting AGAIN! (people around us start staring.)
The G’MA: Again? (LOUDLY) WOW! This is like big WOW! WOW!
THE MOM: I know! (shaking head and looking at me) WOW! Just WOW!
And, I am not kidding. There was lots of WOWs flying around because they just didn’t know what to say to me. It wasn’t “genuine” WOWs but “let’s fill up this uncomfortable space with sound” WOWs.
Then I entered the daycare last Friday to pick up Logan and Ava. Evidently the kids have been talking about Bella at school. I figured it wouldn’t be long before one of the teachers asked me questions…especially with the kids drawing family pictures that include a child missing a hand and foot.
I walked in and one of the ladies (who is quite young and who I don’t know) whispered “That’s her.” I smiled and kept walking. She came up to me and said “Are you the one adopting the baby with no hand and foot? Don’t you have like….lots of kids already?”
Truthfully….I don’t get it sometimes. Why the mention of adopting again sends people into a tizzy.
We don’t want to be WOW. In fact, I think that this whole weird reaction thing can make some people decide NOT to adopt that next child. It was definitely a line item on my husband’s list of reasons to say NO to adopting again. He didn’t want to be teased and cajoled by co-workers. He didn’t want to be stared at. He didn’t want to have to answer crazy questions. He didn’t want to be talked ABOUT. I have spoke with 2 other dads who have adopted lots of kids as well and they admitted to feeling the same way.
Although they WANT to do God’s work….they don’t want to be “outcasts” per se or viewed as those weird people for committing to this different LIFE.
And that’s tough.
But, I reminded my husband….Jesus was viewed as an outcast and as a weird person. Sometimes, we just gotta put our blinders on and look at only one thing…GOD.
Nicole is a Christian wife and mother to 6 amazing blessings and one more on the way! She has a 20-year-old daughter Katelyn who is homegrown and 5 miracles through International Adoption: Jacob (8) was adopted from Russia and Kiah (6), Luke (5), Logan (4), and Ava (4) were adopted from China. They are waiting for blessing #7 from China…a precious little girl named Bella (1). She is passionate about orphans and special needs adoption. You can read more about her and her family here.
Our family grew by one yesterday.
We accepted our first, of two, referrals. The Hagerty crest has been imprinted in another country, on another little heart.
And as I create my mental baby book, replaying the details of this past week’s events over and over again in my mind, the small insignificants are what make her story significant. He’s left His mark. Everywhere.
We first heard word of her just days after I emailed my coordinator to say “although we’re leaning towards four and under, please let us know if any child outside of this age range comes across your desk.”
Like a woman found pregnant just months after she delivered her last child, I readily field the skeptical responses. Aren’t they more likely to have … permanent damage? Doesn’t it take a long time to restore one who has spent that many years out from under your roof? Older children, older orphans, raise eyebrows. Including my own. I have no judgment for these responses, because they once were fears I slept with, and too much analyzing and not enough leaning into Him leaves me entertaining them again.
Humanity is fear’s breeding ground. We accept fear as our daily drink and pattern our lives around it. And something the Father has highlighted to me these past few weeks and months is this fear. In me. Rather than doing what I’ve always done and avoid all circumstances that might offer opportunity to play with fear’s fire, He has said a simple: walk through it. Hot coals, an obstacle in my path, are His corridor for this time in our lives.
The anything-but-flippant email to our coordinator upping our age range was our RSVP.
And she came back with this: “I have a five year old girl for you to consider.”
She prepared us for waiting weeks to receive the official referral, but I knew it would be less. In every way, this second adoption has been accelerated — for what reason I’m not yet sure.
One week later, my brisk-Colorado morning prayers echoed in the loft of our friend’s mountain home. Like a boomerang, they came from Him and I breathed them back. Today, Lord. Will you let it be today?
His yes came just hours later.
I scurried through the self check-out line with detergent and ketchup in-hand, staples that hadn’t earlier made my list. As I reached for my receipt, my phone revealed the sacred number that every adoptive parent memorizes when waiting for a referral — but because we were so early in the process, I didn’t yet recognize it.
“Sara, I have some news for you,” she said.
I stumbled into the car full of friend and children passing the time by singing, and swallowed deep. This is it.
My water broke and the waiting I have worn like an old, comfy bathrobe over my family-building years was exchanged for contractions. It’s time to fight for her homecoming.
Our last trip to this friend’s mountain-home brought with it the news that our first adoption would be at a standstill. Three years later, He came with the restoration that says “I will wash over every-single-broken place.“
We sat on the referral for days, unheard-of in most adoption circles, but my insecure heart needed the surety that this field-of-fear — adopting outside the birth-order and older than we’d anticipated, on top of some extraneous details of her story — was His to win. My already-reminded heart needed more reminding.
And the Remind-er patiently reminded me.
With the mountains at our back and Kansas tumble-weed blowing across the great plains, we made our final decision. This five-year old would be our five-year old. Eden would be, as she calls it, a virtual “twinnie.”
I picked up the phone to call our coordinator and as the receptionist wired me through to her line, out of the big-sky blue, barren of all but windmills, rose a hand-painted cry on a small billboard: “Adoption, Not Abortion.” One farmer’s declaration was God’s signpost for me.
Another detail, just in time, reminding us that He has written life onto our DNA and that, when we asked Him a year or so ago what we were about as a family, one of His responses was Life. At any age. Anytime.
I’m not sure which will be the bigger salvage here: her life or my fear-threatened heart.
So now we wait for our second referral. And when that comes, we pack our bags and go global.
In the meantime, please pray for our daughter on the other side of the world. And the name we’ve given her?
Please pray for Hope, that’d He’d whisper to her heart that we are coming.
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.
As an adoptive dad, I’ve come to the place that I can readily acknowledge that all of my kids are little different in some way or another. Different than what, you ask? I’m not entirely sure, but I know that they are different.
Most of the time I don’t really think about my kids being different. It’s just who they are, and a part of who we are. And as I listen to dads who don’t share the adoption or foster experience, I realize how normal being an adoptive dad is. I can relate to almost everything they talk about because I’ve experienced it myself. But, I know that there are things about my experience as an adoptive dad that these other dads can’t relate to. I am generally okay with that. But, every once in a while, I notice it, and it can leave me feeling a bit misunderstood, even isolated (except among other adoptive dads).
“Typical” seems to have replaced the word “normal” in the world of adoption and foster care. This is probably for good reason. Children who have backgrounds involving trauma, abuse, abandonment, and institutionalization aren’t abnormal, but they often don’t develop in the same way and at the same pace as a “typically developing” child. And as many adoptive and foster parents have discovered, they generally don’t respond to the “typical” parenting strategies either. But, that’s an entirely different conversation.
In many ways, my son Carter is a typical six-year-old boy. He loves to play sports, ride his scooter, fight with his brother, bother his sister, act silly, give a good hug, and eat as much candy as he can. But, in other ways, he is anything but typical, at least if your reference point is other “typical” kids, whoever they are. Because of his history, Carter faces many challenges that most typical kids don’t. Many of those challenges he has already overcome. Others, he and we are still working on. But, I can tell you that this atypical little boy has already learned a lot of valuable life lessons. He’s taught me a few as well.
Carter is not typical for other reasons too. It’s all too easy to look at him and some of his lingering challenges as a glass that is half empty. But, on those days when I slow down enough to take a step back and look at the entirety of the picture that is my son, I realize that his life is already, at the young age of six, a glass that is full and overflowing.
Typical kids don’t experience the series of hurdles that life’s circumstances have thrown his way. Most typical kids wouldn’t survive his start in life. Typical kids don’t endure the years of illnesses and surgeries and bounce back in record time, every time. Typical kids don’t go to countless therapies, refrain from eating most of the foods that kids love, take all kinds of medications and supplements, and on most days without so much as even a whimper. Many typical kids don’t have the same spunk and love for life.
Don’t get me wrong. I know that some children face far greater and graver challenges than my son, and I hope it doesn’t come across as bragging when I say that he is one amazing and resilient kid. I just know this kind of proud dad talk doesn’t seem to fit when I’m at the water cooler talking with dads who have typical kids. Their kids are soccer stars or geniuses, or so they are convinced. Imagine if I chimed in “Oh yeh? Well Carter scored a goal in his soccer game and his therapists say he is rock star at speech AND occupational therapy.” See what I mean? I suspect I would be left standing there with my coffee as everyone suddenly looks at their blackberries, realizing they’re all late for a meeting.
Loving this atypical son of mine can be very challenging and extremely humbling. More often than not, however, it reveals far more about my shortcomings and flaws than it does about his. For me to love him well I must learn to be anything but typical myself. No, I don’t need to be some sort of super-dad or become a child-rearing expert. But neither can I put things into default mode or on cruise control. I need to constantly meet him where he is, even as he takes two steps forward on some days and one step back on others. I need to remember and celebrate how far he has come. I must always be willing to kindly and firmly take him by the hand and walk with him side-by-side in the direction we need to go.
I am realizing that I cannot have Carter and have a “typical” son. Far from being any sort of sacrifice, this reality is a blessing from God, for which I am forever thankful. As this atypical son of mine continues making me, day-by-day, into a rather atypical father, I am learning how much I still have to learn. And yet, I clearly see all that he has already taught me.
So. maybe next time I hear dads start to brag about their kids I should weigh in about my atypical son. Or maybe not. I’m not sure they will understand why a six-year-old boy from Guatemala is, in many ways, a hero to me. After all, heroes are supposed to be strong and courageous; they are supposed to inspire you and be larger than life. My point exactly.
Michael and his wife Amy are the proud parents of four children, each welcomed into their family through adoption. Together they lead Tapestry, the adoption and foster care ministry at Irving Bible Church in Irving, TX. In addition, they lead the DFW Alliance of Adoption and Orphan Care Ministries, a network of over 25 churches in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, as well as Empowered To Connect, an online educational resource for adoptive and foster parents and church ministries. As part of this effort, Michael and Amy coauthored, together with Dr. Purvis, Created to Connect: A Christian’s Guide to The Connected Child. This blog post was originally published on the Adoptive Dads blog on January 14th, 2011.
The early bird doesn’t always get the worm.
Out of the 38 entries for the giveaway, #36 was chosen using a random number generator.
I’m sure she’ll have Max singing “Blessed are the Booty Hearts” in no time. Okay, it might be a couple years. But, she’ll be singing it in the meantime.
Back in the day when I served as a youth pastor and then later church planted and served on staff at a larger church, we had a little routine when people would start sentences with “If I were the pastor…”.
We’d roll our eyes.
Most pastors have a similar routine. They may be more gracious than I ever was, but inwardly, when they hear someone announce what they would do if they were the pastor, they’re fairly dismissive, because generally, that sort of input is reactionary and not helpful. People announce what they would do if they were the pastor in reaction to what their pastor is not doing…and of course, because they’re not having to actually do it anyway.
With that preface, I’m going to tell you what I’d do if I were the pastor and I’m going to tell you why. I think this applies to pastors of all sorts – large churches, church plants – wherever you are in development or achievement.
If I were the pastor, I’d promote adoption.
If I were the pastor of a church, I’d make sure my people knew how, knew why, and had help doing it. Why?
Adoptive families flock together.
This is probably the most carnal reason to promote adoption, but it’s true. You never find a solitary adoptive family in a church – you either find zero or you find a lot. If someone in a church can break past the confusion, disinformation and financial barriers to adopt, it gives others confidence to do the same.
Honestly, a church planter could build a congregation this way. Granted, a lot of the attendees would be knee high, but Jesus seemed to have a soft spot for those kind anyway.
Additionally, adoptive families find one another. They have similar challenges and experiences, so they’re going to do life with people who have walked their road. They might as well find that life at your church as the guy down the street.
Adoption teaches our younger ones that reality exists outside of themselves.
I have four children that are small enough to be entirely convinced that the entire universe revolves around them. The older three – and myself – are generally aware that there are valid needs outside of our own, but occasionally lapse.
Adoption is a great way to teach young ones – our children and new Christian converts – that there are people in the world who are in need and it’s our responsibility to help meet those needs. Confronting that reality turns a family and a church inside out. This is why many families start thinking they’ll adopt a child and end up adopting three – once they’re exposed to the need, it’s hard to lay awake and night and worry about the lives of your favorite tv show’s characters. You’ve got bigger fish to fry.
Adoption is part and parcel of the Gospel.
James 1:27 refers to it as the measure of pure religion. The inference is clear – without caring for the orphans and widows, we have no right to claim we’re actually doing church.
We’re at an interesting point in church history, where the plummeting price of technology and an increasingly individualistic society has led to an explosion of congregations where the package is the product. If you ask people about their church, you’ll hear more about how the Gospel is presented than what is actually shared…because there’s more energy behind the mode than anything else.
Understand, I’m for using the latest and the greatest. Why not? But not at the expense of the greatest message of all time. I long for the day – and we’re getting there – when our churches are as convinced of their need for an adoption ministry as they are their need for a coffee shop. (For clarity’s sake, I’m in favor of both, but certainly in that order.)
So, there you have it. If I were the pastor, I’d promote adoption.
And I’d probably lose the comb-over.
And tell the youth pastor to try and quit dressing like the kids. It’s not convincing and they’re embarrassed for him.
Married since 1989, Randy and Kelsey have spent their entire adult life in ministry as youth pastors, church planters, pastors, and prayer missionaries. They live in Kansas City, Missouri where, in addition to starting and serving with The Zoe Foundation, they serve as prayer missionaries with the International House of Prayer and on the leadership team of TheCall. They are proud parents to 3 sons and 4 daughters. Randy regularly blogs on ministry, family, and adoption issues. Go check his blog out for a good read.
Need some cool new tunes for your family? You’ve got one more day to enter before we choose a winner. Make sure you check out Monday’s post and leave a comment to enter the giveaway for some Seeds Family Worship music!