Monthly Archives: August 2011

I Was Minding My Own Business

Well, technically I wasn’t or I wouldn’t have been reading this blog about another person’s life.

However…

I was minding my own business,

strolling through Google reader,

perfectly happy with my life of four little girls,

glad that I had survived thus far in the whole adoption experience,

so satisfied that all of us were alive and thriving,

and I still possessed some sense of my sanity…

and then I saw this picture on a blog I follow…

and I knew.

I knew alot of things in that moment.

I knew that adopting Lily is one of the most wonderful life experiences I have ever had,

(It’s right up there with salvation, meeting, and marrying my Leading Man, giving birth, but different and unique from all of those and one that has changed all of us collectively, as a family.)

that I would be robbing all of us to not take this adoption journey again,

that the issue is really not, “why would we do this again,” but “why not?”

I knew that I WANT another child because I truly love being a mother. And having a child grow in my heart instead of my womb has truly been one of the most powerful things that has ever happened to me.

I knew that this hasn’t been an inconvenience to my family but has only made us stronger, fulfilled us,

and the life of these children is too precious a thing to waste because of my own selfish comforts.

I just want to read this book, can I just take a bath without interruptions, I DO NOT WANT TO DRIVE A VAN!!!

All the arguments, they are really so futile.

I have truly believed I was done until this moment.

I thought I had done what God had wanted me to and now I was finished.

But, this picture has completely revealed to me that we need to adopt again…

heck, that as CRAZY as this sounds to myself,

and literally at this moment I am shocking myself

I WANT to do this again. I believe there is another child out there for us.

And not only that, I am POSITIVE I think we should adopt an older child some where between Girl #2 and Girl #3.

I guess this is the point that I tell the Leading Man…

but wait…

that is going to make it REALLY official!

Am I seriously considering this????

Help me Lord!

This sounds completely ridiculous, but these are my stupid arguments at this moment:

  • I kind of like this even number thing…
  • We just got a new car, and we will be filling our last open seat. Won’t it be too stuffy? We can’t get another car, we just got one…and I am NOT driving a van!
  • I still feel that I am making so many mistakes with Lily why would I subject yet another life to the torture we know as, Anna???
  • That would mean more years I go without being able to read a book, travel with just my husband, take a quiet bath…
  • Isn’t it too soon? Won’t I be robbing Lily?
  • People are going to think we are crazy.
  • Wait a sec, am I doing this for blog love or because I am addicted to the exciting experience???
  • I don’t want to go back to China…maybe we can go get a child from Africa…that would be good, huh???

God: Shhhhhhhh! My timing is perfect. This life is not about you, although you know I only have your best in mind. You know I love you and will take care of everything. I believe in you, Anna, and you are more equipped than you know. You don’t have to drive a van if you don’t want to…you can get one of those VW buses you’ve always liked, if you want. Who cares what people think, just follow Me. I think you and I both know there is not enough blog love in the world that could make you want another child…on purpose…And, Anna,…sure, we can go get a child from Africa (wink, wink).

…Ok, this is really happening.

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Anna Lokey

Anna Lokey and her husband Shaun have been married 11 years. They have the joyful privilege of parenting four little girls. Three biological (Zoe-8, Hazel-5, Sophie-3) and the fourth, Lily (age 2), recently adopted from China. Anna is a homeschool mom trying everyday to bring up their girls in a loving, Jesus-centered home! She and her husband help lead worship at their church and serve in the children’s ministries. Anna enjoys reading, working out, and playing pretend with her girls. You can read more about them and their Anything but LoKEY life on her blog–as well as read the rest of their story as they embark on the adoption adventure again!

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Sometimes Adoption Makes Me Sad

No man’s land.

We’ve been there.

It took me by surprise the first time it happened.

I got the call that the birth mother had relinquished her parental rights.

I cried.

Then, I got the paperwork and cried some more.

Our child was a “ward of the state.”

Orphan.

With no one.

As hard as foster parenting is, somehow knowing that birth parents were still in the picture was better than no man’s land.

That day, I was overwhelmed with sadness for what this mother had done.

What she had given up.

For her child. For my child. For our child. Hers and Mine.

Everyone told me I would be “happy” because the child was now free for adoption.

On the outside, I was, of course.

Moving forward is good. Being a foster child is not good.

But there is no gain without some loss.

I remember introducing her (still quite young) and people telling her how lucky she was to be adopted into our family.

You wouldn’t have seen it, but I did.

The shadow of confusion that went across her face, a split second.

Yes, of course, she was happy. But, she was filled with sorrow, too.

Because gaining a new life means loosing the old one, even if it isn’t so good.

That’s how I am feeling about Joshua today.

I am sad that he has to give up EVERYTHING to be part of our family.

The onus is on him to change.

He has to learn our language. (We have Chinese word charts on the wall.)

He has to eat our food. (We like Chinese food but it’s not the same.)

He has to adapt. (We only have to make another place at the table.)

He will have a family. (Not an institution.)

He will have the best medical care available. (Not limited by status.)

He will know the Savior. (And have eternal life if he chooses to embrace the Hope.)

There is no gain without some loss.

Thank you, Jesus, for giving your life so that we might have ours.

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Jennifer Peterson

Jennifer Peterson is wife to one faithful man and mom of 9. After the first three came along, they became foster parents and adopted 5 kids including 2 sets of siblings. Jennifer and her husband Bob are currently in China to adopt an 8-year-old boy with a heart condition who has been waiting a long time for his forever family. Join the journey here as they ponder how and where God will stretch them next.

Encore: 20 Ways to Become an Adoption-Friendly Church

Posted on We Are Grafted In on November 19th, 2010

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  • Pray – Pray that potential couples will be sensitive to the Lord’s leading in their lives. Pray that the church as a whole steps up its involvement in assisting adoptive families.
  • Preach key passages on caring for orphans and spiritual adoption – Passages like James 1:26-27 remind us that pure and faultless religion emphasizes care for those who are least able to care for themselves. Ephesians 1:3-5 portrays the act of physical adoption as a great object lesson for spiritual adoption in Christ.
  • Invite guest speakers to raise awareness of adoption needs and opportunities – Those who lead adoption ministries can share their passion with your church. Give church members the opportunity to hear about these needs while giving them ways to help.
  • Make adoption resources available to the church family – A wealth of adoption resources—both secular and Christian—can be helpful to couples considering adoption. Most of the time, misconceptions about the adoption process keep families from considering adoption. The church can provide helpful facts for couples to make informed decisions.
  • Freqently list proadoption ministries and organizations – List them in your church bulletin and have a “resources” link on your church website connecting to these fine ministries. You help these ministries by making them known to your people, but you also assist your people by providing accessibility to helpful resources.
  • Encourage couples facing infertility to connect with adoptive parents – Some couples hop onto the emotional roller coaster of infertility drugs and in the process incur huge medical expenses. Graciously counsel those couples to consider the privilege of parenting an adopted child (before their emotions and finances are exhausted).
  • Regularly have adoptive parents and birth mothers share their testimony of God’s goodness and grace – Testimonies can be powerful reminders to the congregation of what “good” can come out of a “bad” situation as ordained by God.
  • Education your church family regarding the costs involved in adoption – Members may be unaware of the expenses involved in adoption such as to pay for home studies, background checks, attorney fees, airfare and travel costs (especially for international adoptions). Adoption costs vary from a few thousand dollars to $20,000 or more. The cost should not scare off potential adoptive families but should motivate the church as a whole to “count the cost” and offer assistance.
  • Encourage the church family to give financially to adoptive couples – Giving financially to adoptive parents is one of the most—if not the most—significant things you can do. As potential couples take the giant step of faith in the adoption process, one of the biggest concerns will be “how are we going to pay for this”? A monetary gift along with a note of encouragement can greatly encourage the couple by affirming their decision to pursue adoption.
  • Create a standing church fund for adoption costs – Members can contribute to this special fund that adoptive families can utilize (either an interest-free loan or one-time gifts to these couples). Churches can also take up a special Deacons’ Fund offering.
  • Challenge Sunday School classes and small groups to raise money for adoptive couples – Love offerings help lessen the financial burden of adoption while exhibiting how members of the body of Christ can encourage and support each other. Imagine the surprise on the couples’ faces when they discover that their own Sunday school class sacrificially gave to help in the adoption of their child.
  • Establish an adoptive parents’ small group – Get a key person in the church to take this on as a ministry. Meet on a monthly or quarterly basis as needed. This support group provides encouragement for those couples who have adopted, are in the midst of the adoption process, or are contemplating adoption.
  • Create email list-serves of adoptive parents for support and encouragement – Since the adoption process brings emotional highs and lows, staying connected by email can prove helpful—especially when a couple needs a timely word of encouragement.
  • Connect with local social service agencies – Most counties and states have child welfare and foster care programs in which Christians should be involved. Many times there is financial assistance for those families who are foster parents or are in foster-adopt programs.
  • Use attorneys or case workers within the church family – Some lawyers specializing in family law are willing to donate their time and expertise to assist a church family with the legal documents for adoption. Such volunteers provide both financial savings and peace of mind.
  • Sponsor a child – Find ministries of like faith and encourage members to pray for and financially support orphan and adoption ministries.
  • Participate in mission trips to orphanages abroad – What better way to raise awareness for adoption than to experience the desperate living conditions of others?
  • Maximize special holidays to emphasize adoption – When adoption needs are presented with sensitivity and discernment, Mother’s and Father’s Day can be an ideal time to raise awareness of adoption. A special offering could be collected for an adoptive couple. An adopted child or adoptive parent could give testimony to God’s gift of a family to them. At an annual Sanctity of Life day, typically the third Sunday each January, discussion of adoption can be a poignant reminder to the church of the devastation of abortion and, at the same time, a powerful prompting for the church to become adoption-friendly. Recognize Orphan Sunday in November, using the myriad of resources available online to focus on the needs of orphans worldwide and the blessing of adoption.
  • Celebrate adoption as a church family – Affirm those who pray and encourage others to adopt. Encourage those who give financially to adoptive parents. Celebrate the living object lesson of Ephesians 1:3-6.
  • Support adopted kids as they struggle with attachment and questions of identity, abandonment, or rejection – Adoption is the ultimate expression and outworking of loving the modern-day orphan. While not every Christian will be led by God to adopt, the church can and should do what it can to encourage and facilitate adoption.

Will you help your church become adoption friendly?

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Paul Golden

Paul has been married to Marbeth Showers for over 11 years. They are the parents of Jeremy through adoption (8 years old) and Joy (7 years old). Paul graduated from Baptist Bible Seminary in 1995 with his Master of Divinity degree and serves as Director of Admissions at BBS. During his off hours, he enjoys playing keyboard on the worship team, doing pulpit supply, and short-term mission trips. He is also a sports fan of the NY Yankees and NY Giants.

Encore: God Doesn’t Need Me

Eden

Published on September 26, 2010 on We Are Grafted In

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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 and just recently brought home 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.



Encore: When?

Posted January 7, 2011 on We Are Grafted In…

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A few months after bringing Matthew home from Korea, I began my search. After a while, I thought that things were supposed to be perfect between us, and they weren’t. They weren’t close. I was scared. I scoured blogs, books, and articles. I knew adjustment periods varied to a point, but I have a logical mind, and I wanted to know when.

I wanted to know when everyday wasn’t going to feel like an overwhelming amount of work. I wanted to know when the feelings that I wanted to feel were going to be there naturally so I could stop pretending. I wanted to know when or if my agitation level would ever decrease.

I read through blogs that mentioned “a few weeks” of adjustment. I rolled my eyes and tried not to throw my laptop out a window. Someone mailed me a copy of a book about postadoption depression. I told my husband, “I really don’t think I’m depressed. I’m just scared that Matthew and I will never, ever like each other…well, I guess that is depressing.” I scanned through the book, but I have a confession: I was trying to find a passage that had the magic number, the amount of time it takes you to bond with your new child. Newsflash–it never said. Stupid book.

When we had been home with Matthew for 3 months, someone emailed me and said that her sister adopted a sibling group from Ethiopia, and it took her 6 months to feel “motherly” towards the oldest son. She said this in a way that was like, don’t worry, can you believe it took her 6 months???

I took a deep breath and told myself, 6 months, tops. I can do this. That was worst case scenario. At 6 months home, I was beginning to feel “neighborly” towards Matthew…what kind of monster was I?

I don’t know the answer to that question. All I know was, I told myself, this is my family, everyday. We finalized. We resolved to get through it, and I really believed that one day, everything was going to be good.

Matthew began getting specialized therapies through his preschool and finally getting sleep. Things slowly began to click for both of us. I had to let go of the timeline and accept that there is no formula for falling in love with your kid. I also had to accept that while it is hard for a lot of people, I still believe that our experience is on the outer limits of how hard it is for most people…and that is probably a combination of Matthew and my personalities put together.

The bad news is, if you are an adoptive parent and you are reading this, I cannot give you a definitive answer as to how long it might take you to bond with your child. It could be a few weeks or, you could be like me and struggle through months and months and wake up one day to realize that the things that used to be so hard just feel like life now. You might be cooking dinner one night and think, “Wow, things are good. When did they get so good? Or, when did they stop being so bad?”

I take that back. I think I can give you a definitive answer. Do you know when I finally fell in love with my son?

When I least expected it.

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Elizabeth Wood

Elizabeth is a happily married mama to 2 preschool-aged boys. She and her husband have a 4-year old bio son, Isaac, and her younger son (3.5 year old, Matthew) joined their family as a toddler through international adoption from South Korea’s waiting child program.  Being only 6 months apart in age, the boys are virtual twins but couldn’t be more different. They have been a family of four for just over a year. Feel free to visit their family blog, Everyday the Wonderful Happens, where Elizabeth blogs about the boys, their antics, her son’s special needs, her beliefs, adoption, and pretty much anything else that tickles her fancy.

Encore: You Have Enough Kids

Posted on We Are Grafted In on December 29, 2010…

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Over the years, starting even when we had just two kids, I have heard statements (from friends, family, and strangers alike) such as “you don’t need any more kids,” “you have enough kids,” “well, surely now you have enough kids” and “why would you adopt again? You have enough kids already!”

These types of statements used to make me feel like I had to explain our decisions or they used to make me feel like I needed to be a better parent because maybe if they saw that I was the best parent in the universe, they would think that I could “handle” more kids.

I have tried (in vain) to explain to people that we are adopting children WHO DO NOT HAVE A FAMILY, kids who NEED A HOME, but this does not seem to matter to those who continue to make this statement after or before each addition we have made to our growing family. I know that some of it has been said by those who are concerned because they do not want to see us overwhelmed or having a harder life than we could have if we chose the easier path, but this is the path we have chosen, and all we need need is support. We are not demanding that others open their homes and adopt. (I do encourage adoption, but I never ask my friends and family directly why they are not doing more to help the plight of orphans in the world!)

Recently, a family member said to me again, “you have enough kids” and for the first time, instead of feeling like I needed to justify our decisions and make excuses and explanations, I felt angry. I thought about all the other times that people have said to me similar things and I realized that many of those things were said before the addition of some of our kids, kids who those same people now love and adore. Kids who now have a home and a family. Kids who are no longer orphans. Kids who I could not be more proud to call my children. Kids who have made our lives richer, not harder. Kids who have taught me more than I have taught them. Kids who have given me more than I have given them. Kids who we would not know had we thought of our family in terms of “enough.” And, I was angry.

We have been on the adoption journey for more than 10 years now, and it is one that has had its share of heartache, and I am well aware that some of that heartache has been shared by our close friends and family, even though they did not get any say in our decision to choose this path. But, they have also had the opportunity to get to know and love tiny humans who are so precious and have so much to give. I have listened to well-meaning friends or family members over the years say things that have hurt, badly, and for the most part, I have remained silent. I have talked to Mark about my feelings about certain things that have been said. I have cried about some of the more hurtful comments. I have tried to understand where the person is coming from and for the most part, I have not gotten angry.

But, suddenly, when this last comment was made, all those other hurts came bubbling up to the surface and I felt ready to attack! I held my tongue, but have given a lot of thought as to why that one comment has upset me so much. I think part of it is because of the implications. Some people said this when we only had two kids or three or four, if four was “enough kids,” then what does that say about the last three?

Another reason it has me so upset is that we are talking about human beings here, precious children, not possessions. To say that one can ever have “enough” children sort of sounds like they are shoes or something. Another is that I have never seen how it is deemed okay for people to question our personal decisions and give unsolicited advise and judgments, but it is not okay for us to do the same to them. What I mean is that when it comes to things that go against the norm, things like adoption, having a large family, and homeschooling, it seems that everyone and their neighbour thinks it’s somehow acceptable to tell us what a terrible thing we are doing. (Honestly, a family member told me when the boys were little that if I chose to homeschool, I would RUIN my children and they would never be normal – I have seen “normal” and believe me…I will be so glad if my kids are not “normal”!) Can you imagine how inappropriate it would be for me to say to a friend that I thought it was a selfish decision to go back to work full time when their baby was 4 months old because they wanted to pay for a nicer vacation or to say to a family member that it sickens me to think of all the starving children who could be fed for the cost of one of the brand new vehicles they buy for themselves every year? People judge it wrong that we went into debt to pay for an adoption of two children, but think nothing of going into debt themselves for a newer car, a bigger house, or even the latest computers, gadgets, and fashions!

I do not walk around telling people that they should not move because the house they have is “enough” or that they should not get another TV because the two they already own are “enough” or that they should not buy the latest iPhone because they just bought the last version and that should be “enough.” And, if you are shaking your head thinking, “yeah, but those are things, not children” then you are starting to get the point here! It is actually pretty uninformed to say “you have enough kids” as though they were objects. If there were ever anything I would want “too many” of, it would be children. Children are a blessing.

In response to the inevitable question, “are we going to adopt more kids?”, the answer is this: I don’t know. If you look only at logic, then the answer is…probably not. Logic dictates that seven children is nowadays, in North America, a huge family. Logic dictates that seven children is a huge expense. Logic dictates that I have a husband who is much more rational than I am and is less apt to make decisions based purely on emotion. Logic dictates a lot, but it does not dictate the size of our family. For now, we are done. That could mean forever. Or it could mean that tomorrow we will start the process for another adoption. Because God trumps all logic in my mind and in my heart. Our family size will be determined by God. He has called us to adopt, and I know that He is still working in our family. That does not necessarily mean that He will add children to it though. But, if God did lead us to add more children to our family through adoption, they would be as much of a blessing as each of our other seven are. Our lives would not be as rich or as fun or as crazy or as full of love as they are were it not for each one of our SEVEN children, each one.

As a message to our friends and family and to the friends and families of others who choose paths that are less socially acceptable…

Please support and love us where we are at, on the path that we have chosen. Pray for us, because the path that we have chosen is not an easy one. We know that you did not choose this path and we are not asking you to homeschool yourself or adopt yourself or have a large family yourself. We are not even asking you to understand or like the path we have chosen. If you choose to come and visit us on this journey once in awhile and ask how we are or offer your help, we would appreciate it greatly, but if you can only offer judgment and harsh words, please heed the wise advise of Thumper in “Bambi”…”if you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all”!

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Sharla and family

Sharla and her husband Mark are the parents of seven children, two gifted to them through birth and five gifted to them through adoption. They adopted three of their children through the foster-to-adopt program and, in 2009, brought home siblings from Ethiopia. You can follow their story of faith, homeschooling, adoption, and special needs parenting at Pockets of Change.

Encore: Fundraising Facts 101

Published on We Are Grafted In a year ago today

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Many of us in the adoption world are affectionately referred to as “fundraising families.” For the purpose of this post, we will go with FF for short. Our numbers are growing…and for good reason.

Those who “affectionately” refer to us are basically…well…US! We are a tight bunch. We empathize, sympathize, strategize, rationalize, visualize, and sometimes even hypothesize on what all this fundraising stuff really means.

I don’t have hard numbers, but I heard it said not too long ago that the number of families entering the adoption journey that will be fundraising will be 8 out of 10.

80%!!!

So, being a FF in the homestretch of this part of the journey, I thought I would share a few thoughts on what I have learned thus far. I guess I’ll start off by being a “negative Nellie” and then end on a super positive note.

Fundraising Fact #1

It’s hard.

There is no easy way around it. It is simply hard. And, with hard comes not always fun as well. Oh, it is loads of fun when the t-shirt orders are pouring in, and the agency deadline is far enough away you are pretty optimistic it will all come together before it’s due. By the way, we missed the deadline more than once with our agency. But, there are the many days where there is just silence. One of the plagues in Exodus was darkness. God’s word says the darkness was so strong it was felt (see Exodus 10:21). Well, in fundraising, there is silence. Often, the silence is so loud, it is heard. And, that silence leads to discouragement, loneliness, and even despair, leading us right back to hard and not always fun. Even those in the cyber community who make it look easy will admit it is hard, but each will also admit that the hard is worth every single tear, cry, and groan.

Fundraising Fact #2

The 80/20 rule applies.

Actually, according to other FF’s, it is really more like the 90/10 rule. In other words, 90% of the funds raised seem to be given by only 10% of the people with whom you are journeying through life. And, while your heart is strengthened by these generous donors, you realize the entire 30-34K (estimated cost of an international adoption) cannot be obtained by these precious few…and they realize it, too. Which leads us to…

Fundraising Fact #3

“Where did everybody go?”

They didn’t go anywhere; you did. They are where they have always been and probably where you once were as well. You have in your life your “go to” people—always there for each other, always will be. But, the fact is many others are just not going to understand with their heads or their hearts where you are going. It just is what it is. They may smile and admire what you are doing, but the truth of the matter is they just don’t get it and THAT IS OKAY!

When my 12 year old was questioning the lack of support at one point, I tried to put it in a way he could understand. I asked him if his sister were kidnapped, and I needed a million dollars ransom to save her, could he help me? He looked at me long and said, “I can’t, I don’t have it to give.” You can’t give something you don’t have to give. For some reason, known only to their hearts, these “where-did-everyone-go” people don’t have the support to give—money completely aside. You have got to let yourself off the hook with this one. The time and heart energy wasted on trying to convert even closest friends and family members is not yours to take on. Surrender it, and give it back to God. It’s His job. Can He use you? Sure, but probably not in the way you envision right now. Let it go. Or, at the very least, put it on the back burner for now.

Cause here’s the deal…

God has called you to an incredible journey. He is entrusting you with that which breaks His heart. It is so clear in His word He favors the orphan, widow, and the least of these. He trusts YOU to steward this journey, not them, at least not now. Whether these people around you ever “get it” or not, whether they come around and support you with a financial gift or fundraising support or emotional support or not…

That is THEIR journey!

Take your eyes off them, and put them on Him. He will amaze you with new people who will encourage you in so many ways. Some of the people I thought would walk shoulder-to-shoulder with us simply cannot or will not. Others I knew only as acquaintances I am now “doing life with.” Further, some people I have never met in person have provided faithful support and encouragement. God is drawing together a community. He’s good like that. I was discussing the plagues in Exodus with my husband and was amazed at how God continued to harden Pharaoh’s heart over and over. But, you know, others needed to see. They needed to see God’s power and believe. The same is true for some hardened hearts watching your journey.

Fundraising Fact #4

God funds what He favors.

I know on the “silence” days, you really wonder if it will all come together. Let me let you in on a simple truth I wish I had embraced early on. It’s real deep; steady yourself. It is four simple words but full of truth:

It is already done.

I told you it was deep. It really and truly is already done! It is already accomplished. It just has not been delivered yet, and the reason it has not been delivered yet is because God has a purpose greater than the adoption costs going on here. Your journey will look like what He needs it to look like; fraught with struggles and successes; covered in tears and triumphs; filled with hope, dreams, faith building and worship. Because, it really is not about you, and it really is not about the orphan. It is about Him, and it is about the Gospel. Each of these little journeys is a picture of the Gospel. No wonder it costs so much. For Jesus, it cost his life. No wonder it is so hard. No wonder others don’t have it to give. No wonder.

Being the picture person I am, I liken the journey of my family and your journey to pieces of a big, beautiful painting, sort of picture tiles building side-by-side and on top of each other to form the final masterpiece. As I said before, our “tiles” will take as long as He needs them to take and will look like what He desires them to look like so that He can draw from the other tiles pieces that will form around ours and continue to form the grand picture . Wow. I’m sure that is full of theological holes, but that’s what I wish I had known from day 1.

I would not for a minute dissuade you from entering the journey of adoption due to lack of funds but rather encourage you to take the next step. You don’t have to have the end in sight. You don’t even have to have the step after the next step in sight. You just have to start. A fence is no place to sit. No matter how you dress it up, a fence is a fence, and it’s just a barrier. Hop off one side or the other. You’ve already been on “that” side. And while it may be safe, your “picture tile,” is losing its color. Watch as He blows your socks off with what He will do with your story. In the end, there WILL be enough, because He is enough.

He promises.

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Kim Jewett

Dale and Kim have been married for 24 years and are busy parents of three childen (14, 12 and 9). Although they thought they were “done” and even made it official they would not be enlarging their family, God led them to His heart for the orphan. They are now waiting on a referral of a toddler girl from Ethiopia. They consider it an privilege to steward the fundraising journey and have agreed to “never say never.” You can read more about their family and follow their adoption journey on their blog.

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Encore: More Learning Through the Adoption Process

Originally published on her blog on September 25th, 2010 and on We Are Grafted In on February 21, 2011….

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I woke up last night–okay, let me rephrase–Trevor woke me up last night at 2:00 with a bad dream. I quickly got him back to bed, tucked in tight, listening to Christmas music (his choice–good boy!), and went back to bed.

I was still awake at 3:30 when Jay Henry came in after having a nightmare.

I simply could not turn my brain off.

I truly feel like I’m failing Emebet. In every way possible. We make it through each day. But we are not moving forward. Every word, behavior, action, gesture and complaint from her cause me to react poorly. Even if it’s nothing extreme or purposeful, my immediate response and feeling is dislike. I do not like her. I do not like her being here. And I make her know it. This is not always the case, but often.

This has created a huge conflict in me. Why in the world do I act this way? How can my love for my biological kids be real and genuine, if I can treat another child so differently and with contempt? Why, when I am constantly praying and asking God to change our circumstances, do I go right back to these wordly, selfish actions? I know that my actions towards her cause her behaviors. I have no doubt about it. But it seems impossible to change my feelings. And we all know that it is so hard to act one way when you feel the exact opposite. I have always worn my emotions on my sleeve, and Kent can clearly verify that I cannot hide anything.

But last night, as I lay awake, praying for God to change this in me, my thought process changed a little. I turned the tables, and played my own devil’s advocate for our situation. If I were the one in a new home with new people and a family that was already established, and I was treated the way that I treat her, how could I possibly feel loved, cherished, important, or equal?

I absolutely wouldn’t. I would feel sorrow. Pain. Loss. And I, like her, would respond with defiance and anger. She is acting exactly like I am.

We are both experiencing pain. We have both experienced loss. We are both living in the midst of sorrow. And neither one of us is handling it well.

Immediately upon returning home, we were convinced that she needed rules and structure, which we quickly put in place. In doing so, I think we skipped over the part where we needed to love, love, love. Unconditionally and without reserve. No rules. No expectations of her. We seem to still be in that place. Expecting so much (partly because she is so capable). Giving so little.

My thoughts then went beyond that.

Most of you know what a scary beginning we had with Masyn. Almost losing your child creates gratitude that is huge. Deep down, she holds a special place that no one else can, because I know how close we came to not having her. She is my precious, precious girl who causes tears often because I am overwhelmed with love for her. Completely overwhelmed. It is really hard, then, to add in a child who creates the exact opposite feelings.

So after putting myself in Eme’s place last night, I put Masyn in Eme’s place and tried to imagine her losing us, her family. I then imagined the pain, terror, and uncertainty that she would face being relocated to another country where she didn’t speak the language, and never seeing her sweet brothers again.

And then I tried to invision her being placed in a home where she had a new mom who disliked her, and couldn’t see her for the amazing little girl that she is. And where she was yelled at all the time just because she was different than their existing daughter. And where she was not loved on in the midst of her grief and adjustment, but was told to stop crying because it was annoying.

This completely broke my heart. I would be devastated to know that my daughter were in such a place. I would be heartbroken that this little girl, who was so amazingly special to us, was being treated indifferently in what was supposed to be her new “family.”

I spent much of the rest of my “awake” time asking God to forgive me–yet-again–and to help me, every moment, shower Eme with love. I want to create an environment of security for her. I want her to know that she is loved, just like the others. That she is special. That we want her here. I want my behaviors towards her to be so different than what they have been. Mostly, I want my heart to want her here. I don’t want it to be fake. I want it to be genuine.

Today has been good. Her behaviors are still present, but my reaction to them is different. I am calm and loving in my responses. I am hugging and kissing on her any time I get the chance. I am trying to look at her through different eyes.

I know our struggles aren’t magically over by any means. But getting back to that place of surrender is key. God can’t change me when I’m being stubborn and closed-minded, and I have been living in that place. Bitterness has crept in and taken up residence. Last night, lying in my bed while the rest of the house slept, I wrestled with God, and He returned me to the place where He needs and wants me to be. Completely dependent. Completely reliant.

Hopeful.

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Lindy Gregg

Kent and Lindy have been married for 10 years and have three biological children (two sons ages 8 and 6 and a daughter who is four) and our newest addition, Eme, who is 2 ½ and has been home for a little over a year. We enjoy our lives in Colorado with space to roam, beautiful scenery, pictures to take, lessons to learn, and hope for the future. You can follow their blog to learn more about their family and read about the progress they have made together through His grace.

Plan A

Adoption is not Plan B.

Not for us.

We have never looked at it this way, but in conversations with quite a few well-intentioned folks, I realize that the general population often views it that way.

“You know you’ll get pregnant as soon as you finish your adoption.”

“I know a lot of people ‘your age’ who are looking toward adoption because they can’t get pregnant.”

“Do you want to have your own children?”

I’ve learned that adoption is often viewed by many (on the outside looking in) as the consolation prize. Plan A didn’t work. So you’re settling for what is available.

I disagree and so would all the other adoptive parents I’ve ever met.

There is no Plan B.

The journey to adoption is NOT a surprise to God. He’s wasn’t caught off guard by the reasons or the path. For some it’s infertility or health reasons. For others it is how God calls them to add to their family.

For us, it’s because God is made it ABUNDANTLY clear that we are to adopt. Now.

Many people assume because we are adopting first that biological children are not an option for us. At this point, we have not heard otherwise, so we hope to welcome a freckled, type-A, northern/southern hybrid into our lives one day.

But whatever happens, it will be Plan A.

We are adopting now because there is a need, and we have a call. In the DRC alone, there are 5 million orphaned children.

We could not get that figure out of our minds and hearts. There was no reason good enough to hold off on adopting until we had biological children. We couldn’t stop talking about adoption. We needed to start the process.

We know it doesn’t make sense to most of the world. God made it clear, so we’re just following.

Any child brought into our home, biological or adopted, will be real and be our own. We pray that others will come to understand that as well, but we also know that we have the privilege of telling the story of redemption and grace each time someone questions our family dynamic.

The story of Plan A for our family.

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Leslie Word

Leslie has been married to her husband Brian for a little over 2 years. They live in Montgomery, Alabama where Leslie works for a nonprofit agency and Brian is a student pastor. They are passionate about caring for the orphan and have helped start ONEfamily, an adoption, foster care, and orphan care ministry in their church. Their free time is made up of watching football, eating Mexican food, and spending time with their rambunctious puppy, Knox. They have chosen to adopt first and are currently awaiting a referral of one or two children from the Democratic Republic of Congo. You can read more about their adventures here.
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Get ready.

As part of celebrating one year of WAGI, this next week will feature encore postings from a few of the most popular posts from WAGI to date. Whether you are new around here or have been reading since August of last year, you won’t want to miss these.

Gentle Reminders

A few weeks back, Steve and the kids were at our town pool.

On this particular day, we were given a gentle reminder…about loss.

As Grace was happily holding Steve’s hand as they walked along the pool, they passed two women speaking Mandarin.

Grace abruptly stopped. And stared.

Steve gently nudged her forward to continue on their way.

Grace wouldn’t move.

In fact, as Steve pulled her little hand and tried moving her forward, she cried and tried to pull him back.

Five months.

And the sound of two women speaking Mandarin made her stop in her tracks. I can’t help but wonder what went through her head. Did she think she should go to them? Did the sound of Mandarin being spoken bring her comfort? or concern?

I cried when Steve told me the story.

It was such a reminder of the loss that she has endured. I HATE IT! I WISH such loss did not need to have to occur in her life. It’s breaks my heart to think of it.

Of course, there was a part of me that wondered…would she have just gone to them…and never looked back?

Maybe?

She is happy…for sure.

She smiles. Laughs. Plays. Hugs. Kisses.

But, that doesn’t mean her loss is not real. Pain and confusion still exists. Attachment…still a work in progress. Healing doesn’t occur over night or in 5 months. There are very real issues that we are dealing with that are a product of her loss and 17 months of institutional life.

Can a person who hurts still smile. Yes.

But that doesn’t mean they still don’t hurt. And their hearts still don’t need healing.

With four young children and a very busy household, we can easily get wrapped up in day-to-day life and forget where she is, where she was and all that her little heart and mind are dealing with…and how much she needs us.

I am grateful that God provides small reminders…like two women speaking Mandarin at the town pool…to focus us, give us perspective and not let us forget.

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Deb Migneault

Deb has been married to her husband, Steve, for 10 years. They have been blessed with four children, ages 9, 6, 4, and 1. The littlest is from Henan Province, China and joined their family in February 2011. You can follow their ups, downs, giggles, tears, and chaos of their family, now a full family of 6, here.

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The Birthday Gifts Giveaway Winner is…#16…a mommy who calls herself Captain Murdock. They adopted their youngest son from Ethiopia in May 2010 (child #4 for them) and are now on that adoption adventure once again to adopt his older biological brother. Congrats, Captain!

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