Monthly Archives: January 2012

How We’re Doing, Really

This is a question I get all the time. “Everything sounds great, but how are you really doing?!” So today, right now, I’m going to spare you the “oh, good – we’re doing really good” answer, and give you the real deal. Raw and unabridged.

Because the truth is, we are doing good. Really good. But there is so, so much more to it than that.

The last 2+ months have been hard. They’ve been messy. They’ve been exhausting. They’ve been confusing. Any new mommy & daddy would say the same thing – newborn or otherwise. But bringing a 3 year old into a brand new family is different. Not harder or easier – just different. Carter came with an established personality – a muddy past – and an attachment to….well – no one, really.

I think I was naive to think that after we got home, if we just got that boy some love and some healthy food that we’d be on the road to success. In part, this is true.

Huge difference, right?!

We have seen the difference that a little lovin’ makes – and it’s huge. Monumental. But this 3 year old boy needs more than a little love and veggies.

Like discipline. How do you discipline someone you’re trying desperately to attach to? Very carefully. Being a preschool teacher for 7 years – I have all they keys to unlock the mysterious mind of a difficult preschooler. I know just what to say and just how to handle the most out-of-control child. And on top of that, they would love me in return. But Carter is different. He is fragile. Don’t let his healthy figure and cute smile fool you. He is fragile. He is trying to explore his world. His new world. He is working out, in his mind, all the exciting – intriguing – incredible things around him. And when I see his mind working, and the gears are turning – it’s hard for me to step in and say ‘NO!’. I do say no-no. Often. But each time, I wonder if that’s really what’s best. I know – he needs to learn discipline – and he does understand no-no. But this kid is just walking around, enjoying life. Totally sucking the marrow out of it. And we’re telling him ‘no-no’.

Sometimes, Carter gets a gentle hand tap. Enter, Christmas tree (so stinkin’ glad it’s gone!). And I know he needs that little slap, but as I’m doing it, I can’t help but wonder who has done it in the past. Not on his hands – but on his face, head, back…? And again, I wonder if that’s really what’s best.

See what I mean? Messy.

We are go-ers. Always on the go. It’s our nature. Being-doing-seeing-going is in our blood, somehow. But as a family who just brought home a 3 year old, ‘going’ should not be part of our daily activities. In fact – instead of being-doing-seeing-going, we should be sitting-listening-quieting-holding. It’s easier said than done, trust us. After spending 30+ days in a tiny apartment in Ukraine, we were ready to hit the ground running the day we got home. And we couldn’t. Then, after a week of staying home – we were ready to get back to our old being-doing-seeing-going ways. A tip to those of you about to embark on this incredible journey: When you think your child is ready for xyz, wait another week. When you think you’re ready for xyz, wait another 2 weeks. Once you let that person snuggle your baby, or you start running errands with your child, or whatever – it’s really, really hard to get it back. It’s nearly impossible to go back and say ‘you’re snuggling too much’ or to tell yourself ‘the errands can wait until later’ – because it’s already been done – so what can the harm be in doing it more?!

See what I mean? Exhausting. Confusing. This is the reality of adoption. I don’t ever want to make this journey look easy. It’s not.

That’s not to say that it’s not good. That it’s not incredible. Amazing. Rewarding. Because of course, it is all of those things. But it’s not easy.

So, as I’m sitting here enjoying my coffee – rambling on about attachment….my sweet boy is laughing big belly laughs in his highchair, enjoying the last bits of breakfast. Please, don’t misunderstand. We are so abundantly blessed. Incredibly happy. But don’t think for a second that this is a piece of cake.

It’s tough stuff – this adoption journey. But so, so worth it.


Ashley Gibson

I’m a daughter of the Most High God – wife to the most incredible, Godly man I know – and, as of two months ago, a proud mama to a 3 year old boy with Down syndrome. When Jake & I married 5 years ago, we planned on chasing after the typical American Dream. We’re so grateful that God got a hold of us – shook us up a bit – and then spoke to us, loud & clear. I’m learning to step back, say ‘yes’ to God, and allow Him to pen our life story. I enjoy writing about our life – our son – parenting a child with special needs – adoption – and other random tidbits on our family blog.





Are you interested in becoming a family for a little one with Down Syndrome? This little girl is hoping her family finds her soon. Email to be connected with the adoption agency who has her file.

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Confessions From An Overpacking Adoptee

Take nothing for the journey, neither staffs nor bags nor bread nor money; and do not have two tunics a piece.

Luke 9:3

I confess, I admit it. I am guilty of overpacking for family vacations. This baby boomer nervously scans her closet and shoe racks multiple times and fills every nook and cranny of her suitcase to over flowing. When I’ve emptied half my closet, and I find myself sitting on my baggage forcing to close it, the relentless question still persists, “Have I forgotten something?” New luggage guidelines for weight limitations have not helped me cut back one bit. Do I really need to take 15 blouses for 7 days of travel? Makes not a bit of logical sense to me, but I am still compelled to repeat this ritual every time I pull my weathered suitcase out of storage for the next trip.

I seem to find solace in my over stuffed suitcase.

I spoke with another adoptee recently who was packing for a summer trip. She confessed to the same annoying habit I have of overpacking. Didn’t Jesus command in Luke 9 to travel lightly? He tells his disciples to not be concerned with procuring extra provisions for their journeys as they traveled to preach the gospel. Nagging guilt over my obssessive actions sends thoughts of condemnation coming my way.

I ponder the possible underlying motives of my mad packing. On the day of my humble birth as an adoptee, I was left all alone on the hospital delivery table without a family. Could it be that I felt the separation from everything familiar to me in the security of the womb–my birth mother, my birth family, my genetic connection, my cultural heritage? Ouch! Is it any wonder that I have a tendency to cling so tightly to things and find separation from my stuff so very painful? Taking my extra belongings with me seems to offer me a temporary sense of security and safety.

As God impresses these thoughts on my mind, the condemning voices begin to fade away. In their place, I hear the tender voice of Jesus, my Savior whispering to me,”I understand, I care, I don’t judge you.” And then he gently bids me to rest secure in His everlasting arms and to trust in His grace as my daily Provider, my trustworthy Father. He promises to never leave me nor forsake me. He offers to carry my every burden and encourages me to leave my extra baggage at home and travel light with Him.

Quite an irresistable invitation.

What an awesome traveling companion, what an faithful friend!


Jody Moreen has been involved in adoption ministry facilitating a Chicagoland surburban support group for 14 years with adult adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents. As an adopted person, God has given her a passion to encourage others touched by adoption. She provides adoptee peer-support phone mentoring. She also hosts a private Facebook group Adoptee’s Anchor/Kindred Spirits for female adoptees 18 and up, providing a safe place to share and receive encouragement, fellowship with other adoptees, devotions, and prayer. You can contact her here.

Copyright 2011 by Jody Moreen. This devotion may not be copied or reprinted in part or in full in any media form without permission from the author.


I knew it was coming, and here it is. I don’t know if it’s a new phase of self-awareness, or a new confidence that Matthew has to start letting out some of these feelings he has inside, but he’s got some things to get off his chest.

So even though I knew it would come out someday, I was still devastated when he told me the other day–I don’t want brown eyes. I don’t like my eyes. I want green eyes like YOU.

{God give me wisdom}

Oh dear, I really like your brown eyes, I say.

DARK brown, he corrects me. And I NOT, he adds, shaking his head back and forth.

Well, do you know why your eyes look the way they do? Why they are that shape and why they are that color?


Because everyone born in Korea has eyes shaped like that. Korean people have brown eyes! I wasn’t born in Korea. I don’t get to have eyes like you. I have to have green eyes.

For a second, he is impressed with this information. Being born in Korea is a great source of pride to him right now. But it isn’t quite enough to tip him over. He remains gruff and grumpy with his lot in life. Isaac bounds in the room.

I love my eyes! The shape and the color! I love your eyes too, Matthew! I love your brown eyes!!!


If there is one thing about Matthew, it is that he has an innate ability to stand firm in his beliefs.

So we sit in the floor of the hallway and begin to discuss how we all look a little bit different. All of our hair is a little bit different. Isaac says that my hair is black (??) and I correct him that it is brown. He counters with DARK BROWN, and I don’t feel this is worth arguing about, so I say yes, I have dark brown hair. Matthew perks up immediately. He is gleeful.

Like me, mama!! You hair is dark brown and my eyes is dark brown! We the same!!!!

Yes! You’re right!!!

Then we all went and stood in front of the bathroom mirror together and stuck out our tongues. YES! Our tongues are all pink. That’s one way we are the same! We all pulled up our shirts to reveal belly buttons. Look, we all have belly buttons! The same again! We examined our arms next to each other and realized none of our skin is exactly alike. Isaac’s is pinker. Mine is very freckly. Matthew’s is bronze and clear. We examined hands and earlobes and looked for the presence of widows peaks until everybody was satisfied that we have some things in common but also many differences. Matthew’s spirits were good.

When Jason came home and sat down with us for dinner, Matthew asked with a huge grin, “Hey Dad, do you know what’s the SAME??”. He answered excitedly–my eyes and mommy’s hair. Dark brown! The same!!!

It may have been my imagination, but I believe he was sitting up straighter than ever in his chair that night.


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.

You Are One

What If?

You were misunderstood, isolated, never held, never educated, had to wash your bedpan, had no concept of mom or dad, weren’t allowed to touch anyone else, but were actually perfectly normal by all appearances (except one unseen diagnosis)?

As crazy as this sounds, this is the story of Xiao Ling, a 3 year old from Zhonshan, China.

For many reasons, HIV is not something China has a lot of experience dealing with. Subsequently, many of the same misconceptions, misunderstandings, and unjustified fears of years past are the norm. Xiao is HIV positive but is being dealt with as if he has leprosy and can’t be touched or isn’t worth educating. Through a random posting, I encountered this article about Xiao, and it has touched something deep within me and Melissa.

I should probably back up and explain why. In November, we attended an annual fundraising banquet. It’s extremely encouraging to be around so many like minded people wanting to defend the fatherless. The theme was ONE, that you can help one, it only takes one person to make difference, etc…something we’ve always shared with people who ask why we’ve chosen the path we have for our family.

Heading into the banquet, Melissa and I were at the point of praying for where God would lead us next on our orphan advocacy journey. We both had prayed and agreed we were not supposed to go down the traditional adoption path again; fill out application, pick a country, wait for a referral, etc. We simply agreed we knew we were to be at the ready when God calls to act, and this is where we’ve been for many months.

In the midst of the banquet, while David Platt was speaking, our new path became apparent to me. We were to advocate for the orphaned in China who have been diagnosed as HIV+. I didn’t mention this immediately to Melissa as I needed to make sure this “stuck” if you know what I mean. We’ve all been swept up in the emotion of an event to only wonder later what in heaven’s name were we thinking?! The clarity around this never subsided in the coming weeks, so I finally shared my heart with Melissa at the next opportunity. I told her we should make it known that we are willing and ready to help ONE child in China who has been diagnosed HIV+. She hardly blinked and said YES.

Very shortly after, while searching adoption and orphan stories, I found the above article and simply sent it to Melissa because it was in line with our discussions. Not so much to say “here is a child,” but to begin the discussion around the apparent need. If you read the article, it states this boy is not adoptable (which isn’t correct), and it didn’t state what orphanage he is in. Through some internet sloothing, I believe we’ve found the orphanage and have talked with an adoption agency who has previous experience getting HIV+ children adopted into the US. They have indeed been able to help us locate him, and we are now waiting to hear what can be done for him. At the minimum, he needs someone to go there and love on him.

So, at this time, we are advocating for Xiao. Whether he is to be a Freeman some day is unknown but we are trying to see if there is a foster family near him willing to take him or anything to get him out of his “jail” like conditions.

He is ONE boy.

Made in the image of God.

Who needs ONE person to make a difference.

Please join us in praying for Xiao and how God can use us to help and advocate for him.


Chris FreemanI’m an Educator by trade, father of 5 (2 internationally adopted), love participating in triathlons and have been a Christian since my early teens. I am currently the Vice President of Academic Affairs for Virginia College’s online division based out of Birmingham, Al and quickly becoming overwhelmed (in a good way) with volunteer work with Lifesong for Orphans and their international orphan care ministry along with organizing short term missions recently at our church. Read more from Chris and how God has already worked on behalf of Xiao on Chris’ blog.

Would the Real Jaydn Please Stand Up?

I feel like I am starting to pin point why there are so many hurdles in this race towards attachment. It isn’t that Jaydn won’t let me love her, and it is most certainly not that I don’t love her. The issue that has surfaced over time is that she is adaptable. Too adaptable. She conforms to her environment and has no sense of self. It isn’t her fault, its just another defense mechanism that protected her the first two years of institutional life. But the poor girl is a chameleon. That is why she would be perfectly content to walk off with a stranger and never see us again b/c she would just change what was “required” and survive there too.

This characteristic poses a daunting task to me as a mother. It is my job to help my kids figure out who they are, what they like and what they want to become. Its clear Jaxon is a people pleasing, tender hearted, brilliant and self confident little boy. Its clear Jovie is a strong willed, independent, charmer with a love for all things beautiful. Its clear Jaydn is…. she is….um…whatever people want her to be. My heart breaks that even she doesn’t know what she wants or who she is and be confident enough to go and be it! How do I teach her this habit of “doing” is less important than “being”? I want to know and see who SHE is and comfort and nurture her from that place. But when a child grows up more like a parrot copying behavior, actions or words for the sake of attention (good or bad), it is difficult to know how to parent them in the most effective way. What “works” one day won’t the next b/c she has simply adjusted herself to the situation rather than chosen what is right and wrong.

Im not sure I am articulating all of this very well so let me just leave you a word picture for how it feels: Its as if I am playing a game of “pin your heart on Jaydn” and after being spun around 20 times and after the blindfold has been removed I look around only to be told that I am supposed to pin my heart on a vapor, an ever changing, ever moving mirage. Its an impossible task, or at least that is how it feels right now. But I am trying and hoping and praying. The only thing that brings me comfort in this crazy “pin my heart” game is the knowledge that God knows Jaydn. He knows her heart, desires, dreams and personality better than I ever will. Maybe I will get glimpses over time and I pray I do, because I can’t wait for the real Jaydn to be revealed to the rest of us too.


Bethany Gaddis

I have been married since 2003 years to a worship pastor, a rock star, and the most involved and intentional dad I have ever seen! Together, we have the privilege of parenting three amazing children (Jaxon-born in March 2005, Jovie, born in March 2008, and Jaydn born in August 2008). Jaydn came home to us through international adoption from Uganda, Africa. I enjoy writing as a way to learn life lessons out loud because, most of the time, the right (wise) answers are in me somewhere; I just have to dig to find them.


Responding with grace is hard, but lately that is what I have felt in my heart. I was reading an adoption blog, and there was a small sentence about extending grace to people around us. That stuck in my mind as I thought about some difficult conversations I have had with a family member. She does not understand our adoption and is rather vocal about it in family situations. My instant reaction was to defend my position, defend my family, and argue my way through the conversation. I have tried to have private conversations explaining our journey, all the way God has provided and orchestrated every single detail. I thought, if I just explained it eloquently enough, she would see that something beautiful is transpiring and she would join in our excitement. Well, that didn’t happen no matter what my strategy was.

Then, I decided to respond with grace. When a hurtful comment was made, instead of feeling righteous, I responded with grace and kindness. When she did not ask questions about the status of our adoption, instead of feeling hurt, I enjoyed her company as it was. When a funny story from our trip to Ghana came to mind, instead of forcing her to listen to it, I shared it with someone else. Grace. Grace. Grace. I can’t say that it was easy. My lip was bloody from all the times I bit it to prevent my mouth from responding in anger and hatred. I practiced deep breathing to lower my blood pressure as it began to rise.It was a constant effort to overcome my own sin in the responses I gave.

As the dynamic of our relationship began to shift, I realized that responding with grace was just as much for me as it was for her. Slowly, the tension began to melt, my guard came down and I relaxed again in her company. Trust was being built and conversations have honesty behind them. True reasons for this hesitancy to support us became clearer and progress was made. Once I was able to extend grace, she responded with honesty. This would have not happened with my typical response.

A few weeks ago, we realized that in order to afford the final part of our adoption, we would need to raise funds. As we were praying about our options, this same family member called and offered to help. She is now fervently advocating on our children’s behalf, and I can see that God is using this situation to foster healing.

I know there must be others struggling with someone less than enthusiastic about something in their lives. It could be because of an adoption or any life situation that God has called them to that is “out of the comfort zone” for most people. What is the response that we should have? What yields the desired result? For me, it has been grace. Over and over and over again.


Jenni is first and foremost a daughter of our Heavenly Father. She has been married for 16 years to Eric. Together, they have a daughter Emmi (12), Jakob (6), and recently received news that their Visa interview in Ghana will be at the end of this month so they can become parents to Kofi (6) and Agyeiwaa (3). Jenni’s prayer is to have all her children under one roof soon. Jenni began her adoption process a year ago when God broke her heart for the fatherless. Jenni writes a blog about their adoption journey.

Her Nanny’s Love

The nanny strokes the head lying in the crook of her arm. “You’re so cute,” she croons. Then to me, “he’s just unbelievably adorable.” I smile, and glance at the little one in her arms. He grins up at me, kicks his little feet… it doesn’t take long and I am smitten as well.

“Is he your favorite?” I ask. I learned early that when a child has been chosen as a favorite, a life is changed. Even in a place like this, where each little one is cared for equally, held for the same percentage of the day, and hears the same voices, the babies know that they are chosen.

I think that there must be something special, hidden deep inside each child’s heart, which responds to love. It’s like radar… their little hearts send out signals, searching for echoes of love from our own hearts. And when the beams collide, magic happens. The child changes, grows, flourishes. He doesn’t have to wait for a family; a nanny can help make that change.

“Of course,” she says. “But she’s my favorite too. They both are.” She’s referring to the sweet one in my arms… so sick, but so loved. This baby is my favorite, there’s no doubt about that. Just ask the nannies, they all know. I think that I chose her because she was hard; hard to care for, hard to love. Somehow, I thought that she needed extra love that I could give. She needed to be a favorite.

“They’re both my favorites,” she continues, “but she… she’s hard. Loving her makes my heart hurt.”

The look in her eyes speaks volumes, and empathy fills my soul. I know just what she means. Loving this precious one aches; it digs deep and pierces the tender parts of my heart. That’s what loving dangerously is all about, though, and I just can’t escape. I can’t escape from her… from loving her.

But it’s true, it makes my heart hurt. And it makes her nanny’s heart hurt too.


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.


Originally posted December 2010…


Guys, it is 6:00 in the morning here, and I am wide awake.

If you know me, you know this is quite unusual for me.

It’s not because of nerves. It is because I woke up from a dream with some fresh revelation, and I had to write it down lest I forget.

I was dreaming about a dear lady we know who is single. In my dream, she was telling me that she had decided to start the process to adopt. I immediately hugged her and started to cry and jump up and down with her. Then, in my dream, I froze because I realized that my adoption of Lily was complete in the dream, and I felt something inside me that completely surprised me.

I felt jealous.
Jealous that it was happening to someone else and not me again.
Sad because in my heart I wanted to do it all over again.

This emotion was so shocking that it actually woke me up from a deep sleep.
WHAT??? Then, at that very moment it dawned on me…

Why can’t I be good at this??

I was good at birthing babies. (Miss Scarlett) Really. Not bragging on anything but the grace of God, but I was good at it. I enjoyed the entire experience. I had two of the three naturally with no pain other than the kind that comes from REALLY had work. It was a great experience, and I have said many times…

If it wasn’t for the raising the kids part, I would have 100 babies!

Well, why can’t I be good at this adoption thing?
And why be afraid of the raising the kids part?
Why can’t this be exactly what God has created me for?

Most of the reasons that I haven’t wanted alot of children is because of fear. Fear that exists because of selfishness. (I am being honest about ME here. This doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone.) I am selfish. I enjoy my sleep. I enjoy a good book in a quiet room. I enjoy a massage. I really miss the theatre and have wished for some time that I could get back up there and show the world what I was GOOD at. Kids mess all that up. They would steal that from me. (Again, honesty.)

But maybe, just maybe, I have been missing it. Maybe all the gifts and abilities He gave me are for this right here. Maybe my whole life has been leading up to this VERY MOMENT!

These are the reasons why I have always shied away from the thought of having more children. These are the reasons why I didn’t want to adopt in the first place. I didn’t want to be good at this because of my own selfishness and fear. Yet, if I believe what the Word of God says, “Give. And it shall be given unto you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.” (Anna’s translation) Then, why should I be afraid to give myself away. Will God not return it to me with more blessing than I can keep up with?

Here I am, at this moment, a completely changed woman. I am going to be good at this!! I fully believe that every gift and ability He has given me has created me for this moment. Not that I am some great, talented person, but what God has called us to do “He is able also to perform it.”

I am going down to the civil affairs office to meet my new daughter today, and I am going to be good at it because God has called me, and HE is able. This is NO DOUBT what I have been created for!

I have always held my family MOST dear. I fight every year to get together with ALL our brothers and sisters. Our nieces and nephews. Our parents. Maybe family is what I was meant for, what I am GOOD at. Even though I would have NEVER believed that.

And truly, as many times as God would ask me to do this, I will. Maybe I was meant to be the old woman who lived in the shoe. Except, I will be the one who does know what to do. Lean on my Savior, who has equipped me to be a mother.

To sing and dance for them.
To teach them.
To love and cherish them.
No matter where they are from.

I am signing off. I hope this all makes sense. I am feeling refreshed and revived. I have already cried much and I haven’t even met her yet. :) Also, you can bet my posts won’t be this long again for awhile so go ahead and read it all- just this once. 😉


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!

The Joys of Boys

I come across this video on one of my favorite blogs at an hour far too early to be out of my bed. Taking a sip of coffee and pouring puffs across Gabriel’s high chair tray, I drowsily push the play button…

Way too soon for the caffeine to have reached my veins, I am jolted awake.

There is one special need, ironically, that often is the barrier to a child ever finding a permanent home. Being and orphan and being born a BOY…

Can that really be true?

As the mother of two little guys whose boy-filled ways melt my heart daily, it is hard to fathom.

By the time that first sweet little face fills my screen, a lump begins rising in my throat and my eyes threaten to brim over.

And then…some of the reasons to consider adopting a boy:{deep breath}

Because a boy’s laugh is contagious…Because it’s never too soon to buy that first truck…Boys have dreams, too…Boys are soft and sweet…Because playing sports is fun…Because we need more cowboys…Because who else can make a suit look so good…Because we all need a superhero…Because boys love a good adventure…Because boys are gorgeous, too…Because brothers are a wonderful thing…Because boys love playing outside…Because every little boy deserves a family…

The tears are now flowing freely because these truly are the joys my boys bring to my life and, oh, how I know the list can go on!

I adore my little men and find myself smitten with all the things that delight their wild hearts. For someone who has always been a bit of a girly girl (my interests growing up being dancing, singing, acting, art, and anything beautiful), there has been a shift of focus for sure, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s amazing how my love for them has transformed the world around me too. Creepy crawlies have gone from being, well, creepy to really fascinating and what is a day without a good sword fight, cool cars, and at least one game that involves throwing, catching, kicking or hitting some kind of a ball. Life with them in it is good for me…very, very good.

This gratitude for the gift of their little lives in mine is quickly adding gravity to the harsh reality playing across my computer screen. My heart is being torn right in two as I contemplate others just like Jack and Gabriel who are hurting and lonely waiting for a mommy and daddy to come and make them family.

I find myself already responding to questions implied but as yet unasked and I wonder…


Is it wise to let myself go where this train of thought is going to take me? Because once it leaves the station, there is going to be no turning that puppy around. We’re not talking so much along the lines of, “What’s one more?” but more to the effect of, “Why not pack this house with little boys”? A glimpse of my future is coming into focus that resembles a football team, and I can smell the stinky feet already.

Lord, give me strength.

I try to shake it from my mind and tell myself that what I really need is more sleep. Gabriel’s late night feedings and early morning wake-up calls are getting to me more than I realized, and I have to regain my grip on reality…

Or do I?

For I know it to be true that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts nor are His ways our ways. And the wisdom of the Lord is foolishness in the eyes of the world. This craziness does seem to have His fingerprints all over it. This is the way He consistently speaks to my soul and asks me to follow Him along paths as yet unknown. Will I cast out into the deep and lower my nets for a catch? Will I step out of the boat into the raging waters and keep my eyes fixed on Him?

And then, there they are in plain view, written on my screen, the questions my heart had already been asking and I know their answers have already been given.

Can you open your heart to a little boy?…And open your life to adventure?…Every baby boy needs a momma…There are thousands of little boys right now who are dreaming of just one person to believe in them…

Oh, my heart…I can’t take it! Seriously, it really is too much, as if the voice of God Himself is asking me to love his little ones, to be a mother to his sons.

Could that person be YOU?

Game over. Every fiber of my being is shouting, “YES”!

Now I am praying, pleading…Oh God, please let this be done in me, in my family. Allow us this gift, the tremendous blessing of raising your sons. May they grow to be men after your own heart. God let them know the unfathomable love of the Father to the fatherless. Let us show them One who has heard their cries, who has not allowed one tear to fall unnoticed and who will not leave them abandoned as orphans forever.

I can barely wait for Johnny to wake up so that he can see what I am seeing and know what I am knowing….

The poor guy isn’t even greeted with a good morning much less given the chance to make his way to the coffee pot before I pull him over to my laptop. Sure enough, I’m crying again before it has even begun, and he wraps his arms around me as he watches the screen. I can feel his embrace tighten as this truth, one we hadn’t known before this morning sinks in.

I’m not one to cry very easily or often but when I do…well, let’s just say that it’s not pretty. I somehow manage to sob, “Did that have the same effect on you that it had on me”? He jokes that he doesn’t think it could affect anyone as much as it had me. But through the smile on his face, there is an intensity in his eyes and I know.

He sees what I am seeing and knows what I am knowing…

Our sons are out there somewhere, waiting for us bring them home.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:9


Alison Oertle

Alison Oertle

Alison Oertle is a wife and mother who works in full time ministry at her Church and serves women and families as a FertilityCare Practitioner. Just when she thought life was settling into a comfortable and somewhat predictable routine, God laughed. As it turns out, a new vision for her future is being revealed that promises to shake things up a bit and involves sharing Christ’s heart for the orphan. Her family is hopeful and excited to see where the glorious unknown will lead as they strive to be faithful to the call. Read more of Alison’s story, a lot of the ordinary day-to-day alongside her deep thoughts about the things that matter most, as the Oertle’s adoption journey unfolds at Let Us Begin.


Wanna see a very special 17-month old boy who is waiting for his family to say yes to him?

Come swoon over this beautiful child.

More information available if you are interested in learning more about him.

In Action

It was after a Focus on the Family broadcast during Adoption Awareness Month four or five years ago about Antioch Adoptions that God first started tugging us toward orphan ministry. We had decided we couldn’t afford to adopt but perhaps God was calling us to help others instead. Antioch Adoptions provides fee-free services in Washington state in an effort to get kids into homes. We figured that if they could do it so could we. That was just the tip of the iceberg. Years later, God has opened our eyes and hearts to a much bigger picture than adoption.

Over the past couple years, we’ve taken in hundreds of hours of conference audio, webinars, and books that basically led us to this conclusion–Everyone is called to orphan care (not adoption, orphan care). Orphan care comes in all shapes and sizes.
As you read the story, see if you can pick out all the different people and ways they helped orphans.

About 3 years ago, Patrick and I had a vision to see an Ethiopian orphan hosting program come to our church–these programs bring eligible orphans (usually ages 8 to 15) to the U. S. to spend 4 to 8 weeks for a “cultural experience.” Many of these children are able to find forever families. The problem was no programs to that country existed, and we were not equipped to start one.

We had all but forgotten about it when an old friend called and said, “I’ve just been hired by AWAA to start an Ethiopian hosting program in Maryland, do you want to help?” Um-mm…yeah!

Ten months later, 5 families (coincidentally all acquaintances of ours) welcomed Ethiopian children into their homes for a month. Throughout that month, the community came together to provide lots of American experiences to the kids from a trip to the zoo to an old-fashioned, American birthday party. Generous donations from the community allowed us to send an extra suitcase back with each child packed chock full of stuff for their orphanage.

By God’s grace, each of the 5 children have families (either their host family, a family they met while here, or a family who was able to connect to their host family some other way).

Recently, one of the families traveled for their court date in Ethiopia. They needed someone to watch their kids while they traveled. We volunteered but needed someone to watch our dog since the kids were allergic. Another host family volunteered.

It may seem trivial as you read it, but from where we watch, the beauty of the community working together to bring these 5 children home is astounding…

it’s the Gospel in action.


Melissa Corkum

Patrick and Melissa, who was adopted from Korea as an infant, have two biological children and a son adopted at age 2 1/2 from Korea. In May they, started a paper chase for a sibling group from Ethiopia. They reside in Maryland where they started a ministry called Grafted Families. Its goal is to serve Gospel-centered churches as they care for orphans and vulnerable children. Melissa also has a photography business that specializes in adoption homecoming and foster family photography. You can get to know Melissa better on her personal blog and Patrick on his personal blog.


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