Monthly Archives: November 2011

Grafting: Complete

I would like to be able to say that we always have a very happy, harmonious family. But that just ain’t the truth. Now, before Caden came along I probably could have gotten away with that statement a little bit easier. My older three kids all get along really well together and there’s very little arguing between them. That relationship does apply to Caden and the oldest two. They have formed the sweetest bonds, and Chloe is like a little Mama to Caden. And Eli is just a wonderful big brother all around.

But Caden and Eva…that’s another story. There has been a rivalry there almost since the beginning. My mother-in-law attributes it to the fact that Caden replaced Eva as the “baby” of the family. I think it’s a whole lot more simple, though. Caden and Eva are both pretty good at dealing out their share of crap, and neither of them has much patience for anyone’s crap but their own. Eli and Chloe are two of the sweetest, most laid back children you will ever meet. Eva and Caden are both impatient and want to call the shots. They are perfectly happy as long as they’re getting their way…but if one of them’s not, then there is a problem. And truth be told, if one of them isn’t getting their way the other is usually to blame. When it was just the older three, Eva could dominate a little bit more and the others just went with it. And Caden always gets his way where the oldest two are concerned. But Eva can’t dominate Caden, and she doesn’t give in to him. :)

The relationship between Eva and Caden is the one I worry about the most. For example, awhile back Eva said to Chloe, “You can have Caden and Cora will be mine when she comes home.” Chloe did put her foot down on that one and insist that Cora gets to be her sister too. And Mama explained that a family doesn’t work that way.

Last night, we went to a party thrown by some adoption friends of ours. There was SO much to entertain the kids that Mama could send them on their way and talk adoption with the other ladies. Andrew had to work all day…and into the evening…yesterday doing inventory at work, but I didn’t sweat it. We were on a few acres with hayrides, bounce houses, zip lines, a rock wall, one of those bungee/trampoline things, and all the hotdogs and smores a person could ask for. Our hosts had even hired some people to help manage things.

I was chatting with another mother of five about Cora’s adoption, when all of a sudden Eva ran up to me in tears. I could tell by her demeanor (and lack of drama) that whatever this was, it was serious. I didn’t even have a chance to ask her what the problem was when she sobbed out, “Caden’s in the bounce house and it’s going down.” I looked up, and sure enough…the bounce house that Eva and Caden had been playing in while Eli was on the zip line and Chloe was doing the bungee thing had TOTALLY collapsed. With my baby trapped inside. The generator providing it with air had run out of gasoline. I took off running, and the woman I was chatting with followed right behind me. We climbed into the bounce house, both of us searching for Caden. There was no sign of him.

I stuck my head outside and asked Eva if she was SURE that Caden was in there. She assured me that he had been playing by the slide. Sure enough, in the back corner there was a huge pile of plastic that had once been the inflatable slide. By this time, the crowd had been alerted and others were trying to help. The “staff” was trying to get the compressor going again so that the bounce house could be aired up, while some men and I were on the outside of the bounce house trying to manually pull up the plastic Caden was trapped under. Finally my new friend (who was still inside the bounce house searching) saw Caden’s foot and grabbed hold of it, pulling him out from the pounds of plastic that were smothering him.

As soon as he was loose, I ran back in the bounce house to get him. There was just enough air inside by that point to remind you of a deflated waterbed or air mattress, but with some of the men holding the top of the bounce house up for us, we were able to get out. And right there…waiting for us when we came out of the bounce house…was a still hysterical Eva, and her slightly less hysterical older siblings.

In that moment, I knew the grafting was complete. My worries had been in vain. There may be rivalry. There may be disagreements and drama. But Eva’s heaving sobs last night communicated something to me…my little BROTHER is in danger, and I’m upset about it. She didn’t want to trade him in for someone else, and she certainly didn’t want anything bad to happen to him. He was a part of her, and she was a part of him.

Until…of course…a little “squall” erupted between them this afternoon. :)

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Tara Anderson

Tara Anderson began a journey of grace over 20 years ago when she walked the aisle of a little country church and gave her heart to Jesus. She is a stay-at-home mother of four, the youngest of whom was adopted through the China Waiting Child Program in November 2010, and they are waiting to bring home Cora who is currently at New Day Foster Home. Not too long ago, Tara knew exactly who she was and exactly what she wanted out of life…but now she’s just trying to figure out who God intends her to be, and what He wants from her. You can get better acquainted with Tara on her personal blog, Following Our Leader.

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I Remember

I remember the joy that I felt when I first learned that I would have a little sister.

I remember the excited jitters as we met the social worker for the first time. “How do you feel about having a little sister?” she asked. It wasn’t a hard question to answer.

I remember the long drives into the city to get papers signed and processed. The time we spent in the dull waiting rooms felt like hours, but they always felt so productive and important.

I remember going to the meeting where they gave my parents her picture. Everybody cried.

I remember gazing up at her referral picture, tacked up on our refrigerator. It was a sacred piece of paper – the only picture we had of her. I didn’t like to touch it too much, for fear that it would be damaged.

I remember the family discussions around the dinner table. What would her name be? It took us too long to decide, but when we knew, we knew.

I remember packing to go to China. I felt so special that I, as the oldest, got to go. I couldn’t wait to fly, tour, and meet my sister for the first time.

I remember the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City… and being the pale foreigner girl in everyone’s picture.
And then I remember that day, the afternoon we sat in our hotel room, trying and failing to occupy our minds. There was a murmur, and then elation pulsed throughout all of the rooms occupied by our travel group. They were here.

I remember trying to capture the moment on the video camera. I remember helping my mom reach for a tissue as she held a little child in her arms.

I remember seeing that child’s face for the first time and wanting to cry as well. I remember how she didn’t make a sound, how little her strength was and how empty her eyes were. I’ll never forget the day she cried for the first time, and the next where she smiled, and the next when she vocalized happily to a stuffed penguin.

I didn’t realize then just how significant those moments were. I didn’t understand how heartbreaking it was that, until the morning in a Guangzhou hotel, she had never babbled. But now I think that I see it all, or at least much more of it. It breaks my heart, and persuades me to love my little sister with everything that I have.

And not 2  years after that first, beautiful meeting with my very own little sister, I got to meet another. It hasn’t always been easy to be nice to them, because sometimes they’re not perfect, but they’ve always been easy to love.

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chinese adoption

Hannah Samuels

When Hannah traveled to China in 2002 with her parents to adopt her sister Elisabeth, she fell in love with the country and people. In 2004, when her other sister Naomi was adopted, she started dreaming of going back. It took 5 years for that dream to come true. She now serves in a foster home for special needs orphans in China. Hannah spends her days studying, writing for the foster home and on her personal blog, Loving Dangerously, and most importantly, holding babies. Hannah loves the adventure of living overseas with her family. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.

The Battle is the Lord’s

adoptionThere is one day in the year that we have named “Consecutive Day” in our family. It is the day when our children’s ages run in order, seven in a row. When we first became a family of seven children we had a 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 year old child for a day. Then, we start doubling up again. There were a few years when all seven of our treasures were teenagers–all at once! I tell you this because I think it will then not surprise you to hear with seven children so close in age that we have faced some significantly challenging times, some battles to fight, some circumstances that have stood in direct conflict to the very words God has given us about our children as individuals and us as a family.

I’d like to share with you some encouragement that we have learned to rely on in the midst of these times of pain, discouragement, anxiety, and fear. Certainly some of you are reading this in a good season of your family’s life, full of the warmth and beauty of adoption. But, I know that some of you are in the thickness of a battle, overwhelmed and in need of supernatural strength.

God has not set you up to fail

As an adoptive or foster parent, you are probably aware of a sense of purpose in your life relating to the call to open your heart and your home to a child in need. I want to encourage you today that God has not set you up to fail. He has not called you to this radical life and exposed your heart without preparing you for this very moment you are standing in right now. You and I have the backing of heaven as we choose each day, each moment, to be faithful to our purpose. How do we access these heavenly resources for ourselves as parents, and in turn for our children? One of the stories I have gone to over the years for help is the one from 2 Chronicles 20, the story of Jehoshaphat. We haven’t had a vast army literally attack us, but maybe you are like us and have had times as a parent where you feel as if you, your child, your family, is under attack.

Fear and Friends

When Jehoshaphat gets the report, “a great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea,” his response is familiar to me. “And Jehoshaphat feared and set himself to seek the Lord and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord…” I like this for two reasons. One, he is afraid. When I see the issues of our children’s past rise up to try to steal away their inheritance and come against my peace and hope, I confess that my first response is also fear. But, like Jehoshaphat, I have learned that fear and anxiety are my cue to seek the Lord and to call for prayer. Finding people that we can trust to stand with us in prayer for our children has been a key for Stephen and me–my second reason. Our friends, the van Zyls like to say that “parenting is a team sport.” And I’ll tell you, we have found that we have great need to call on others to pray with us, to help us face the enemy that comes against us. I encourage you to find at least one other believing friend who will do as the people of Judah, seek God’s help on your behalf.

Telling it Like it Is

What happens next is really great– I love it! Jehoshaphat proceeds to remind God of who He is. In other words, he takes his focus off the vast army marching against him and begins to proclaim aloud, in the hearing of others, the awesome character of God. “Are you not God in heaven and do you not rule over the kingdom of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might so that no one is able to withstand You?” And then he proceeds to remind God of things He has done for them in the past. He tops it off with reminders of promises God has made to them as a people. Only after all of that does Jehoshaphat bring this devastating situation before God. “For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” The deep, seemingly endless pit of need created by rejection, neglect and abuse, has made it easy for Stephen and me to recognize that our parenting, and even our love, is not enough to bring wholeness and freedom to our children. We realize, like Jehoshaphat, that we have no power in ourselves to take this enemy down.

The Battle is Not Yours

God’s response to the prayers of the people is clear and freeing, full of HOPE, “Be not afraid or dismayed of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” I have taken this word from God to Jehoshaphat personally, and I encourage you to do the same. Do you struggle with fear and anxiety as a parent? Looking at the great multitude of issues and behaviors, not to mention the sometimes crushing weight of the past, it is so good to hear these words. God repeats Himself again, saying, “You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourelves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem! Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the LORD is with you.”

What do I DO?

It is helpful to see that God does not mean that we have no role or part in the battle when He tells us that the battle is His. The scripture takes the time to say exactly where Jehoshaphat leads his men, “You will find them at the end of the brook before the wilderness of Jeruel.” We have found God to be amazingly specific in how we are to deal with each of our children, in each season, in each specific issue. Listen to His voice telling you what to do with your son who has outbursts of rage way out of proportion to the situation at hand, or your daughter who lies regularly and without remorse, or your teen who has become rebellious and distant almost overnight, or your precious grade schooler who clearly is not able to make healthy friendships. Wonderful Holy Spirit will whisper to you practical answers to real problems.

Belief and Praise

Let’s listen, believing God for practical solutions to the real life issues we face as parents and those who love adopted and foster children. Believe, this is what Jehoshaphat says to his people. “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the LORD your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.” May we, each one, be established and prosper as we face the great multitudes of problems that come against us, our children, and our families. Through faith we will access the answers, the healing, and the peace that is our inheritance in Christ. As you read the end of the story, you see that Jehoshaphat assigned people to praise God, before the battle was won. He believed God was who He said He was and would do what He said He would do–always worthy of praise. As they stood where God told them to stand, Judah saw that the enemy was indeed destroyed (they had killed each other off!). All that was left to do was to gather the spoils, a 3-day effort because there was so much–love it! I believe that we parents will one day be in this position of gathering the spoils of this battle–not gold, jewelry and weapons as with Jehoshaphat, but wholeness, healing, healthy relationships, love of God, God-given identity, good success. And our families will be called Families of Blessing, just as that battle field became known by all as The Valley of Blessing.

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Beth Templeton

Beth has been married to her husband, Stephen, for 25 years. They have seven children, ages 16 to 22. Several years after giving birth to three girls, God called their family into the adventure and blessing of adoption. In 2000, they brought home a brother and sister, ages 5 and 10, from Russia. Then they returned to the same orphanage 18 months later and brought home two more brothers, ages 7 and 10. Stephen and Beth serve as leaders in their local church. Beth leads a ministry called Hope at Home, dedicated to help adoptive and foster parents encounter the Father’s heart for their families, partnering with God to transform orphans into sons and daughters. For more parenting insight and encouragement in the Lord go to the Hope at Home blog.

The Muddle in the Middle

I have a confession to make. And, I apologize in advance to all my reading and writing friends who thought you knew me and will now be forced to rethink whether to admit that you’ve ever once asked me for editing advice.

When I read, I sometimes jump ahead to the end.

I know. I said I was sorry. I can’t help it. It’s a sickness.

I don’t read much. A page or two at most. Just enough to make sure that the characters I’ve grown to know and love survive to the end. If they all get killed off, why waste the emotional energy to keep reading through all the turmoil? I just want to know that the good guy wins and the bad guy gets his. Once I’ve got that sorted out, then I can settle in and enjoy the ride.

So, that may explain why just now, stuck as we are in the no-there-is-still-no-news-yes-I-know-it-has-been-a-long-time MIDDLE of this adoption process I have been contemplating taking something just a wee bit stronger than Tylenol PM to get me through the night. Can a sister get a hook up? Seriously.

I so desperately want to skip ahead to the end of the story. I want to know that we will survive this journey. I want to know that Pacman* will survive this journey. My heart is literally breaking for this little boy. Abandoned. Vulnerable. Desperately needing to belong, to be loved. How long must he wait? He needs a family. We need a little boy. Seems a relatively easy plot line, right?

In novel writing, middles are notoriously difficult. They must link the call to adventure in the beginning to the resolution at the end. Middles contain all those tests and trials that are meant to build character. I love reading a good middle – the more suspense the better. (So long as I know it all turns out okay at the end.) I’m always encouraging my writing students to add more difficulties, more problems, more tension. In story, conflict equals excitement. In real life, not so much fun.

Not only are we stuck in the middle, we are stuck in a SLOW middle. I’d be getting bored if it weren’t so desperately heartbreaking. Just when I think I can’t slog through another day of waiting, guess what? Another day of waiting. “Pace of story too slow.” “Needs some action.” I was hoping for a hi-lo adventure. Instead I fear we’ve landed in a Victorian epic. A long, drawn out treatise with lots of sighs and a fair amount of whining (mine).

The middle is hard. Hard, hard, tear-my-hair-out hard.

But I will believe – even when I’m crying and whining and asking “are we there YET?” and “how much longer?” – that God has this story well in hand. He’s the author. He knows this struggle through the middle, and he’s right here with us. He knows about the bureaucratic red tape and the unanswered emails and the months-long delays. And what’s more, He’s right there in the middle with Pacman. In the quiet loneliness of nighttime at the orphanage, He is there. When Pacman watches others meet their forever families while he is left behind, God is there. When Pacman wonders if he will ever again be loved or belong, God is there. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Yes, God knows our middle, but even better, God knows how it resolves. He’s even given us a sneak peek at the end – “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matt 5:4); “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you” (John 14:18); “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev. 21:4).

The middle is hard. The end is joy-filled. The middle is slow. The end is perfectly timed. The middle is filled with turmoil. The end is redeemed.

* Not his real name. Although it is catchy.

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Kristi Thompson

Kristi Thompson lives, laughs, counsels, and writes (www.collierbooks.com) in Louisville, KY, with her husband, Trent, and their daughter Sam. After three year of working for Child Protective Services, six years of serving on short-term mission trips to Mexico and a job lay-off scare, they felt led to add a little boy from Lesotho to the family. Follow the journey at Praying Him Home.

The Awesome Inheritance of the Orphan

Perhaps when all is said and done, beneath the anger of many adoptees is the bone-deep fear of being forgotten. Forgotten by the biological father whose name they may never know. Forgotten by the birth family who went on without them (many times, unknowingly). But most of all, forgotten by God.

As I became aware of this issue personally and shared it with fellow adoptees in our support group, eyes welled with tears. Searching for truth, I learned that far from being forgotten, the orphan is the object of God’s special care and protection. Here’s what God promises orphans, whether we are domestic or international orphans and no matter what our age.

He does what is necessary to preserve our life (Jeremiah 49:11)
He gladdens our hearts with the bounty of Providence (Dt. 24:19)
He feeds us from “the sacred portion” (Dt. 24: 19-21)
He defends the cause of the fatherless, giving food and clothing (Dt. 10:18; Is 1:17)
He hears the faintest cry of the orphan (Ex. 22:22-24)
He rescues orphans when they cry for help (Job 29:11)
He considers caring for orphans an unblemished act of worship (Jas. 1:27)
He provides what the orphan is searching for–love, pity, & mercy (Hosea 14:3)
He blesses those who provide for the orphan (Dt. 14:29)
He has a unique life plan for the orphan in history (Esther 2:15)
He strongly warns judges who issue unrighteous decress & magistrates who cause oppressive decisions against the orphan (Is 10:2; Mal. 3:5)
He is pleased when nations and people treat the orphan justly (Jer 5:28)
He will draw nigh and be a swift witness against oppressors of the fatherless (Is. 10:2)
He commands others not to remove “the ancient boundary stone” or encroach on the fields of the fatherless (Prov. 23:10)

pow mia stamp never forgotten

While considering the subject of feeling forgotten, I saw a poster-sized reproduction of a U.S. commemorative stamp for those who have served our country. Two words grabbed my attention–NEVER FORGOTTEN.

That’s what I and possibly many other adoptees, foster care children, waiting children, and anyone who is fatherless need to hear.

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sherrie eldridge

Sherrie Eldridge

Sherrie Eldridge, a reunited adoptee, is passionate about seeing fellow adoptees thrive. One adoptive parent said she had a beautiful heart because she helps adoptive parents see life through the eyes of their children. During the last 15 years, she has authored five books and five workbooks and has become an internationally recognized speaker, emphasizing that those touched by adoption can grow through the challenges. In 2010, she was awarded the Angel in Adoption Award by the Honorable Congressman of Indiana, Dan Burton. She has been married to Bob Eldridge for 45 years, and they have two married daughters and six grandchildren. Visit her site at www.sherrieeldridge.com and her personal blog for more.

Healing Beneath the Surface

chinese adoption CHD
18 months home. Check-up day.

This morning, I raced to get the kids off to their schools and then get on over to CHOP’s cardiologist for Lydia’s appointment. I wasn’t worried about the appointment. A check up every 6 months. Just gotta do it.

A VSD put her in the special needs program. We were prepared for heart surgery. We were relieved to learn the week we got home that surgery would likely never be needed. Our cardiologist explained that it would only be necessary if the valve started to pull into the little hole between the walls of the bottom two chambers of her heart.

“Show him your heart, Lydia.” She pointed to her chest and said, all drawn out as she does, “Right here.” He listened. He listened some more. She got the EKG with stickers that tickled. Then, we went into the little room fitted with a big ole bed for her echo.

The tech pulled up her echo from 18 months ago. I could watch it on the computer screen and hear it–her heart sounded like a little bird to me, racing.

“Was she really upset when we did this before?” she asked.

“What do you mean?”

“It’s just that her heart was a bit crazy there. Looks like she was really worked up.”

She wasn’t.

18 months ago, we were in that same room with the same technician even. It was just me and Lydia, newly home, still getting to know each other. I sat there with her and rubbed her legs during that echo all while she lay perfectly still, just looking at me, not making a peep. I remember at one point, I even got her to fall asleep.

chinese special needs adoption

But, she wasn’t at peace. For a year, she never left one building. One day, one of the nannies there dressed her up nicely in new clothes, put her in a car for perhaps the 2nd time in her life, drove 2 1/2 hours, brought her into an office building and handed her to a white lady with a big nose who was crying and laughing at the same time who then passed her back and forth to a big white guy with red hair. We took her to our hotel room, then an airplane, then another hotel room, all while going to restaurants and walking around crowded streets. Then, after a very long plane ride, we arrived somewhere entirely new–new sounds, new smells, new people, new children wanting to touch her and hug her.

As calm as she seemed during that echo 18 months ago, the poor baby was upset. And, we’ve got a video record of her heart to prove it.

But, today, was different. She happily laid on the bed and talked to me about Dora who they had playing on a screen for her to pass the time. I watched the screen and the images of her heart, amazed at the clarity of the picture and how we were able to painlessly look right into our little one’s chest. Amazing.

And, then, she said it. The tech smiled at me and said it.

“Have you been praying?”

Her heart is healed. The hole is gone. Her heart is whole. Totally whole.

The cardiologist, an adoptive dad of two himself, smiled and told us he doesn’t want to see us ever again.

Amazing.

All 23 lbs of her.

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Kelly Raudenbush

Forever changed by our experience of being adopted and adopting, Kelly is a stay-at-home mom/manager to 4 children–the youngest of whom is from Baoji, Shaanxi, China–who is a professional juggler, juggling her calling as wife and mother with a small online store (Jiayin Designs), editing, administrating this site, and serving adoptive families through The Sparrow Fund. You can learn more about their adoption story, how they’ve been changed, and what life for them looks like on their personal blog where she’s currently featuring some great ways you can shop with purpose this season (which includes over 25 giveaways!).

Love

jiayin designs custom silver chinese charms

Someone asked me the other day how I knew I loved/could love Ruby. It was a simple question and I understood them asking- but the answer is so plain and simple to me. I already adore Ruby and love her to the ends of the earth, because I love Jesus. I love the God that created her and knit her together – so I already love her.

I don’t think it will always be easy. I don’t think it will always make sense. But I know, as much as I know that the sun is going to rise tomorrow, that she is mine, and I am hers.

I recently read a quote from Kisses from Katie:

We aren’t really called to save the world, not even to save one person; Jesus has already done that. We are called to love with abandon.

I already love her with wild abandon.

And I absolutely can’t wait to meet her.

“We love because He first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19

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Sara McClintock

Sara was blessed by marrying her best friend 15 years ago. Then, found The Greatest Love of All in Jesus Christ in 2004. Having already had the privilege to parent two football-loving sons, Sara and Bill had international adoption laid on their hearts. They were blessed beyond belief when they welcomed the cutest, spunkiest Chinese girl from Luoyang into their family in December 2008. Having left pieces of their hearts in China, Bill & Sara are praying for God’s will to retrieve them. Please stop by their family blog to follow their journey to their second Chinese daughter who makes a buzz cut marvelous and for random musings on life, redemption, grace, hope, love and faith.

Back to His Arms

Last week kicked my rear end was crazy hard. I admit it…I was drowning/sinking/floundering/stumbling/staggering; call it whatever you wish, but, basically, I was wallowing in self-pity. I wanted our referral and I wanted it NOW {or yesterday or the day before}.

I wanted to believe all my sadness was justified. I mean, really? 11 weeks with no referrals? (Not to mention multiple families in the final stage of bringing their children home reporting delay after delay.) Think of all those orphans who need homes and here I am, waiting so patiently for a call that just doesn’t seem to ever come!

So, there I was…whine, cry, frump…when, BAM…I got slapped in the face with the gospel! OK, maybe that’s a bit of an exagerration, but truly, I got me some CON.VIC.TION!

Because, the truth is, my lip service was NOT matching the state of my heart. Don’t get me wrong, I want desperately to believe that this journey is not in vain…that I am enduring this wait because this is exactly where God wants me, and I DO believe that, but my heart was just not feeling it and I was sinking into a dark place. And, the bottom line is I wasn’t as close to my Jesus as I need/want to be. Instead of drizzling my sorrow in Christ’s redemptive love and promise to stay by my side {even when days are dark}, I was relying on myself to get me through. Not. Pretty.

This seed of longing for more began early in the weekend, so when I went to church on Sunday morning, I just knew I was meeting Christ there and that I was ready to lay it at His feet, to start this wait over {in a sense}, to get back to the arms of My Savior. And, guess what?! He did it! He met me there and He held my hand and he spoke to me through the sermon. We began a study of Hebrews and dug into verses 1-4 of the first chapter, which our pastor summed up like this:

“It is impossible for you to have too high a view of Jesus.”

So true. My Jesus will carry me through this difficult wait. Wasn’t he faithful to Noah, Moses, Job, David, Abraham, and countless others? He shows me over and over again where a child-like faith leads and yet, I somehow lost sight of that. And so, I am done. I can’t do this wait alone or even based on the strength of my family and friends. I need HIM and He promises to carry me, hold my hands, and walk beside me. And so I’m reaching for Him…

I’m determined to hold tight to the following verse from Hebrews:

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:23

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Jennifer Campbell

Trevor and Jennifer Chase live in Southwest Missouri where they reside with their two biological children. They have been married for 11 years and desire to serve Christ in all that they do. Their current journey to bring their next child home from Ethiopia has been filled with ups and downs as they manuver through the ever-changing process of international adoption. However, they are leaning on the Word and trusting in God’s perfect timing as they wait for the referral of their child (or children) from Africa.

{Advocating} Ready to Belong

Chinese boy for adoption scoliosisIn July, my husband and I traveled to China to serve with Bring Me Hope to provide a camp experience for orphans. As prepared as you think you are with packing lists and immunizations and reading all you can beforehand, I wasn’t at all prepared for what God had in store for me.

My heart was broken. My heart was broken over each one of those children He brought to that camp. Broken.

During my second week in Xi’an, I had the tremendous blessing of spending 5 days with a sweet little boy [David]. I’ll never forget seeing him for the first time. He immediately reached for my hand and held it with a tight grip. He didn’t want to let me go. I noticed right away that he had some difficulty walking. And, as we walked to the edge of the room together to play, I became more aware of the trouble he had walking. As I walked easily in stride, I could feel his body shift from left to right as we walked hand in hand. He has scoliosis. I imagine that the years of little to no treatment and no family to help him get what he needs has contributed to his rhythmic gait.

But, his spirit is so bright. He smiled up at me with an excited grin and told our translator he was excited to come to camp. Every few minutes, he would shift his entire body to turn and smile at my translator and me. I remember consciously noticing what a beautiful smile he had.

That first afternoon, we played badminton until we could play no more. And, he laughed and played with joy despite the differences in how God formed his shape.

scoliosis chinese boy adoptionWhen I think about [David], I think first of his sweet spirit–quick to listen, eager to try new things and soak every bit out of camp that he could. He had two close buddies at camp. They all lived in the orphanage together, and it was very easy to tell that they were best buds, three peas in a pod. It occurred to me that they were probably the closest thing he has to a family, the closest thing he has experienced of what it feels like to belong.

He was made paper ready, made available for international adoption when he was only 5 years old.

He just turned 8.

And, for nearly 3 years, he has waited, paper ready to be adopted.

[David] seemed most happy when he was beside his two best friends. I couldn’t help but picture him home with a family, HIS family, and how happy he would be, how much potential he has, how much he’d grow and thrive. And, how tightly he’d hold the hand of his mother and father.

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This little boy’s name has been changed for the purpose of advocating. 

please email Kelly if you are interested in learning more about him. Additional pictures are readily available, and you will be put in touch with someone who can send you his full medical file.

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Micah Hodges guitar orphan advocacy

Micah Hodges

Micah Crowe is 22 and lives with her husband, Josh, in Vero Beach, Florida. They spent 3 weeks in China, serving with Bring Me Hope, an orphan ministry. She has also served in Russia and Taiwan working with youth and children. She enjoys traveling and playing guitar, but her real passion is for missions. Micah and Josh plan to move overseas to be full-time missionaries.

My Orphan Heart

God had blessed Brent and me with 4 beautiful children the “old fashioned way” – Caleb and his three little sisters, Gracyn, Maddie and Ellie. We felt the call to adoption even before the last two came along, and as the estrogen level gradually increased in our household, we grew more and more excited about adopting a brother for Caleb. We were living in Lusaka, Zambia, as missionaries, and we had the opportunity to visit several orphanages in search of any possible matches for our family. Finally, we met the one who was to be our son. Thomas came into our home at the age of 6 (well, in theory anyway). He was as cute as he could be and full of energy and joy. He rarely spoke and when he did it was in a whisper. He was precious. He was a perfect companion for Caleb because they were both very athletic and active, but he also played well with Gracyn and really reached out with gentle affection to Maddie and Ellie. At first it seemed that our transition was too good to be true!

Quickly, however, reality began to set in. The only thing we knew for sure about Thomas’s past was that he had been dropped off at a police post by a “good Samaritan” about a year and a half before we met him. He had a family once, but then he was alone. We will probably never know why. The hardest thing for me as a mom is not knowing where all his bumps and scars came from. I was there when each of my other children breathed their first breath. I was there for every sleepless night. I was there for every boo-boo and bad day. I know what makes them the way they are because they came from me. I know why they are scared of certain things and how to make it all better when they cry. All I wanted from the first moment with Thomas was to wrap him up in my arms and make everything OK for him. Why couldn’t it be that easy?

“Expectations are premeditated disappointments,” I heard someone say. Of course, I didn’t expect adoption to be easy, and I knew in my mind that Thomas would be dealing with many emotions and baggage that I didn’t understand. We read the books and did the online classes. But knowing all that in my mind didn’t make it easy for me to handle the fact that he did just about everything completely backward from what we expected. We took Thomas into our family, our home, and gave him our name. We gave him his own bed that he didn’t need to share (though for quite a while he still preferred having a bed mate). We gave him his own clothes to wear and his very own toys to play with. We told him constantly how we loved him, how we would never leave him, and that he could always trust us to do what was best for him. I expected Thomas to soak up our love like a thirsty sponge. But instead he was stiff and guarded. I expected him to be grateful for every little thing he was given. Instead he broke things, lost them or left them lying around. He was insatiably selfish and even on Caleb’s birthday was throwing a full-on tantrum because he did not receive any gifts. I expected him to feel safe and secure with us. But instead he was afraid and I had no idea how to help him. I expected Thomas to treasure the fact that he was part of a family and that we cared for him and his well-being. But instead, he resisted everything we said. He was manipulative. He was protective. He didn’t trust us.

The only thing I have been able to do is cry out to God. And God has most definitely used this time to reveal “junk” in my life that I never knew was there. But even more than that, He has used Thomas to reveal Himself to me in a very real and intimate way. As I have seen my Father more clearly I have also seen how very much like Thomas I am.

God has adopted me as His own, given me a new name, clothed me in His righteousness, blessed me with every spiritual blessing, and made me a co-heir with Jesus, giving me an imperishable inheritance. Yet, I often refuse to receive what He has given me, treat His gifts poorly, or complain that I want something different or more. God longs to be intimate with me, to show me the fullness of His presence, abundant life, freedom and hope. But I resist Him, I guard myself, and I look for fulfillment in other places and from other people. He tells me not to be afraid and He promises He will never leave me. Yet, I can become crippled with fear. He says that I can trust Him wholly, completely, and He wants me to give my cares to Him, to rest in His wisdom, and to know that He will always do what is best for me. But instead, I trust in myself, my husband, my friends, and I want to plan out my own life on my terms. Apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, I would continue to live as an orphan. Yes, I would say I am His child, but I would continue to leave His banquet table to return to the streets and eat scraps.
There is only one hope for me, and for Thomas. God is a faultless Father. He knew us before the foundation of the earth. He was there when we breathed our first breath. He has been there for every sleepless night. He has seen every hurt and heard every cry. He knows why we are the way we are because we came from Him. He wove us together in our mothers’ wombs. He knows our thoughts and the things that we are afraid of, and He knows exactly how to help us. He does not get tired or overwhelmed or lose His temper. He cares so much that He will not leave us in our orphaned state. He lovingly forgives, restores, and sanctifies us with greater patience than I can even imagine.

I thank God so much that He has considered me worthy to be Thomas’s mom. I thank Him for loving me enough to show me even how much I really need Him. I thank Him for loving me perfectly and for being the perfect example of how to love my children. I thank Him for the progress that we have made, and that our hearts are melding together – slowly but surely. Thomas is, in so many ways, an incredible gift from our Father.

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Kerri Roberts

I am the very grateful wife of Brent and mother to 5 blessings! Our family has served on the mission field in Zambia since 2008, and we are currently embarking on a new ministry in a more rural part of that country (check out our ministry blog). I am passionate about music and though I don’t get to sing in public much anymore, I am always singing somewhere – the shower, the kitchen sink, the car – or dancing around the house embarrassing my kids! I’ve also become an avid runner and am training for my third half marathon! God has been so gracious to me and, in His mercy, He continues to teach me and lovingly guide me as I seek to be like Him and to nurture my family. I pray that as He teaches me, I can also be an encouragement to others who are on this journey with me!

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