I’m not sure how to put into words what my heart is feeling as I sit at my desk tonight. The past month has been the most joy-filled and dread-filled. I have experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows and right now I’m feeling a little bit numb. I’ve been retyping and deleting my words for the last 30 minutes, unsure of whether to publish this little chapter of my life – it’s definitely a little darker than my normal posts, but it is my life right now and sometimes it’s cathartic to spill it out. Maybe this experience will be helpful or encouraging to someone reading it? I’ve been attacked on this blog before by mean-spirited comments and it was tough to accept, and while I realise that publishing on the internet invites differing opinions, I beg you to be gentle with my fragile heart just this once.
I did something an emergency mother is not supposed to do…
I fell in love with the baby placed in my care. Not in the ‘oh she’s a cute baby’ way, but in the deep ‘I want to be your forever mommy’ way. Within days of meeting this precious baby girl I felt a connection so strong that it literally brought me to my knees. And for the first time, Terence felt it too. Baby J is our 4th baby, and whilst I’ve loved each baby dearly, I always knew they belonged to other parents and it was my joy to prepare them for their forever families. This time felt different. I’m not sure if it’s because she looks like our baby, or if it’s because we are moving towards a different space in our lives and little J felt like the perfect fit for our little family. She came to us at the craziest time. We had weddings and bridal showers and family commitments. I almost told my social worker that we wouldn’t be able to take her, but I also knew she had no where else to go as all the other emergency moms had babies. Terence and I spoke at length, we worked out our finances, we spoke to our family, we prayed and as each puzzle piece seemingly fell into place, we believed it to affirmation that little J could be ours.
And then we approached our social worker…
And soon our ‘perfectly organised plan’ started crumbling. We were told it would not be possible for us to adopt little J. We were crushed. We pleaded with the Lord to work a miracle and we asked our friends and family to pray to. We sought advice from other social workers and pleaded with ours and yet the doors continued to close. I’d like to point out that we love our social worker very much, and a lot of what she says makes sense, but when you’re looking down into those sweet blue eyes, all you want to do is scream at the policies and procedures that are taking this child away from you.
And so we are here – the night before our little J-bug goes to a new home – bracing ourselves for the inevitable pain coming tomorrow and also trying to make the most of every cuddle, kiss and precious moment we have with our little gift. That is what this month has been for us. An unexpected, undeserved gift and privilege to have cared for this baby girl straight from the hospital. Through my grief I know that God continues to work for the good of those who love Him. I love Him dearly, even though I feel so out of control and so uncertain of His plan for our lives, I know that He loves Terence and I and that He loves our little J and has a perfect plan for her life.
I’ve been thinking about some of the things that God may be trying to teach me through this process – things I wouldn’t have learnt if I hadn’t said yes to taking little J. I have learnt that children are a blessing from the Lord; a true, undeserved gift. One that truly belongs to the Giver. It is so easy to feel like we own our children and can choose to care for them as we see fit. Being an emergency mom has helped me to keep focused on who these babies really belong to. Not me, not the social worker or even the biological or adoptive parents, but God. I wish I could fully understand why God has not chosen to give little J to us, but I have been forced to acknowledge that she belongs to Him and He is good, all the time.
I have also grown in empathy for birth mothers. It is so easy to judge a woman for giving up her child and I have been guilty of doing this in the past. I don’t know who little J’s birth mother is, but I know that she loved her daughter, enough to do what she felt is the best for her despite the cost to herself. I have been humbled by her sacrifice as I look at this baby and face her leaving me too.
I have learnt that I love being a mother and am amazed at the incredible joy children can bring to ones life. By nature I am a box-ticker. I thought I could only be a mother when Terence and I had a house with a garden and a fancy car and a cushy life. I believed that would bring me joy, and yet I was content being a mom in my little flat with no garden and a car with no 5th gear. I have learnt that if I link motherhood to material wealth I may be missing out on motherhood for all the wrong reasons and for a very long time.
I have learnt that my husband is going to make an incredible, God-fearing father and this warms my heart more than you can imagine. Very few women have the opportunity to have a glimps into their husband’s character as a father before he actually is one. If you know my husband, you’ll know he’s not the baby-crazy type, but I have seen his heart soften towards this baby and a protectiveness develop that has made me fall more in love with him. I know that if little J had stayed with us she would have been the luckiest girl to have a daddy like him. I feel honoured to call him my husband and so excited to have a family with him one day. This last month has been a confirmation that God has chosen the perfect partner for me.
I have been reminded of why I love adoption. God redeems, dear friends. From trauma He brings restoration to the children He loves so dearly. Adoption is such a beautiful picture of our adoption into God’s family. My prayer is that more people would pray about adoption as a way to add to their families. It is hard, but it is good. I hope to add to our family through adoption in the future.
And now it is time for me to feed my little J her bottle and savour every second of it. Thank you for your love, prayer and support over this passed month. We have been so touched by your messages on this blog, on facebook, via sms and email. Please keep praying for little J and her future family. And if you have a spare prayer, please pray for strength for us for tomorrow and the coming days.
If you’re a mommy or a daddy, feel blessed today because you really are.
Julie and her husband, Terence, live In Cape Town, South Africa and they have been married for 2 and a half years. Julie studied print journalism but works in both the non-profit and corporate sector, while Terence is a radio ‘guy’ who constantly gets asked if his afro is real… It is. Julie got drawn into working with the foster care system, when she was asked by a social worker friend to look after a 4-week old baby boy for ‘one month’ during her varsity vacation. 5 years later, that little boy is her parent’s pride and joy and her mischievous baby brother. As of last year, Julie and Terence are registered temporary safety parents for children awaiting adoption. Julie blogs over at caramellaclan.wordpress.com where she chronicles her daily life as well as the joys and struggles of being a ‘temporary parent’.
Not long ago a pastor was praying over Nathan and I when he uttered words along these lines: “Satan doesn’t want this family to succeed so God be their anchor as he attacks them.” It was right then and there that I truly understood what a war zone our entire family had just entered. I always “knew” it would be hard to adopt a child, that there would be days I would get overwhelmed or the kids wouldn’t get along, and days when progress would feel limited, but it was in that moment I became aware that being under attack was going to be a permanent part of our story.
For we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:12
If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave him up for us all- how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who shall separate us from the the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 8:31-39
- I have been married 9 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- 7, Jovie- 4, and Jaydn 3). Jaydn came to us by way of adoption from Uganda, Africa. We live in Little Rock, Arkansas, but I am a west-coast girl at heart. I enjoy photography, adventure recreation, and teaching high-school students about Jesus. 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.
In the feeding of bottles
And the spooning of cereal
In the wiping of faces
And the wiping of tears
He is here
As cleft lips are kissed
And toes are rubbed
And smiles are coaxed
He is here
In the sicknesses
In the surgeries
In the uncertainties
He is here
In the lullabies that are sung
And the books that are read
And the prayers that are whispered
Pleading for health
He is here
And I find that this call to go
To the poor, the outcast, the defenseless
To give, to serve, to love
Is also a call to come
To come and find Him
In these faces
In these smiles
In these tears
Because He hears their cries
He knows their needs
And in Him they find mercy
As a Father to the fatherless
He is here
“Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.” Psalm 27:10
- Angela enjoys being a wife to one wonderful husband and mom to six fantastic kids (three by adoption). Her family just returned home from China in late January with their newest daughter, Lily, who is 8, and enjoys blogging about the ordinary and extraordinary moments of their days together at her blog.
During the seemingly endless & excruciating 18 month wait for our Joshua to come home from a Ugandan orphanage, there were so many times when I felt forgotten by my Heavenly Father. It was so contrary to what I anticipated. I assumed that like our first adoption, I would be comforted and encouraged by His presence throughout the journey. I expected to feel the reward of peace for our obedience. I expected His mighty hand to move mountains to get my child home in a reasonable (if not record) time. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that He had called us to adopt again. I was 110% convinced that He had knit together this specific child in his mothers womb with a purpose, a purpose that included calling me “Mommy”. I was confident that we were obeying God’s leading. And yet, month after month I looked around and saw virtually no movement, no sense of urgency, no apparent desire from anyone who could actually do something, to get my child safely home. I helplessly looked around and cried out “Why have you forsaken me? Why have you forsaken this child? Where are you Lord?”
During the first 12 months of our wait, my heart would leap with excitement if I got an e-mail or phone call from our agency. But as time went on, my excitement slowly turned into bitterness. I was aware of what was going on politically in Uganda, therefore I knew that any contact from our agency was just to say “hang in there.” After about 16 months, with no hope on the horizon, I felt like my heart couldn’t “hang in there” much longer. One day, after opening (yet another) discouraging e-mail from our agency, I quickly excused myself to my room, closed the door and wept bitterly face down on my bed. I felt the pain over my entire body. My soul was weeping. Within about two minutes of closing the door behind me, my 8 year old, Faith, came barging in to tattle on her little brother “MOM!!! Hank just… Mom, are you o.k.?” I tried to hide my face in the blankets, calm my breathing and compose myself. I had tried so hard to keep my anguish from my children. We often cried and prayed together over Joshua, but I kept my grave weeping private, even from my husband who I knew would feel consumed by helplessness if he saw me in such a state. I didn’t want any of my family to see “the mommy” wholly & completely undone, defeated and crushed. Faith came to the edge of the bed and asked “Mommy, are you sad because Joshy isn’t home yet?” “Yes baby.” I squeaked out “My heart really, really hurts to be away from him for so long.” She stood there in front of me at a loss for words. With my face still buried in my blankets, I felt her sweet little fingers stroke my hair. As I took deliberately large breaths, she broke the silence when she started praying over me. I could no longer breathe. She said “Dear Jesus, we have faith that you know what you are doing. And I know that you could have already had Joshy home if you wanted to because you can do anything. But I also know that sometimes you let us hurt because you want to teach us something that we can only learn when it hurts. Please help us to learn whatever it is that you want to teach us and then bring Joshua home super soon. I love you. Amen.” I lay there in awe of God’s incredible provision, in awe that my child was ministering to me, in awe of the wisdom, discernment and faith of this child, in awe that when she had no words to comfort me, she knew that the Great Comforter was always right there. I then realized, for the first time, that in this agonizing wait, He WAS showing Himself so tangibly to me.
After I semi-composed myself, I looked up at her sweet concerned face and I said “You know what, Faith? Joshua is still so young that he may not even know that he was once an orphan who now has an adoring family waiting for him to come home. Though, he may have a faint idea of who we are from the pictures we have sent him, we are not real to him right now. And because we are not real to him, he can’t possibly love us yet. But WE know that HE is real and we already love him desperately. We know specific details about him, we have his room and his clothes all ready for him, we pray for him every day, we miss him every second, we feel incomplete without him here, we yearn for him to be home with us where he belongs, we cry over his absence, and pray for the day he will finally be in our arms. You see, if nothing else, this painful wait for Joshua can teach us one thing. Now, we may know a small fraction of how God feels when one of his children are separated from Him. Some people don’t know God exists because they are just babies, like Joshua. Some may have actually walked away from him. And some people may not know He really exists until they are 40 or 80! And the whole time God knows every detail about them, He is yearning for them, preparing a place for them, making plans for them, wanting to share life together, desperately loving them, wanting them safely in His arms and safely on His path, and all the while He patiently waits for them to come home to Him.” And that is when my precious Faith said “Ya… but Mom, the real reason I came in here is because Hank pushed me.” … All I could do was laugh! Our God sure has a wonderful sense if comedic timing, doesn’t He?
Isaiah 43:2 & 5 say “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.”
Fortunately our God is HUGE and I believe that he can handle our questions, our anger, our fear and our honest broken hearts. There are times when we all must walk through the fire, and many stages of the adoption process can cause us to cry out “why have I been forsaken?” And yet, even in our anguish, He is good…always! Our God can handle anything we can throw at Him and He uses “ALL things to work for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose”…even our heartache. He is good, He is real, He is love. Even when we endure pain so intense we think it will do us in, He holds each tear in His hands and carries us through the pain. I am learning how to cling to hope and believe in His promises, “for faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” Hebrews 11:1
Heather and her husband Russ have been blissfully married for 15 years and are blessed to have their quiver full of 5 fabulously unique children. The first three came the old fashioned way and the last 2 through the blessing of adoption. Their first 3 were born in Oregon, child #4 was born in S. Korea and was adopted 5 years ago and child #5 was born in Uganda and was adopted a little over a year ago. Heather is a full time mom and part time home school teacher.
I cannot remember exactly when I was following her blog. We were either waiting to travel for Joy, or had just returned home with Joy. Whenever it was, I do remember not understanding why this woman would travel all the way to the other side of world to adopt a little boy, but change her mind once she met him. She never detailed her reasons, but people on the adoption forums made their assumptions. I admit that I, too, passed judgment on this lady, albeit quietly, not on forums. But that was before.
Disruption is a dirty word in the adoption community. Opinions are very strong on this topic. Many adoptive moms say that they would never even consider a disruption. And, I have to admit that it never once crossed our minds. When we started the adoption of Yang in 2008, we knew that she had a variety of delays. But, I also believed we could work through them. I did a lot of research and reading preparing myself for this adoption. While doing the paperwork, waiting, and doing more paperwork, I never once considered that we would not bring Yang home with us. Never. We were prepared.
We traveled in 2009 and met Yang in Nanchang. She looked just like her pictures with the happiest smile on her 8 or 9 year old face. Her delays terrified me. I thought I was prepared, but hindsight, no amount of reading could have prepared me for the face to face reality of the disabilities. I filled out paperwork, but could not rid myself of this gnawing feeling in my gut, this fear. We were her parents briefly. My husband and I talked, cried, prayed all night long as I watched this beautiful child sleep. Without going into details, we knew that Yang’s needs were so great. We had to make a decision for our family as a whole, not just what I wanted. We had 5 other children back home to consider, each that would be impacted greatly in one way or another. We chose not to continue the adoption. Shortly thereafter, the emails and comments came.The adoption forums started their discussions and judgments about our decision, all without even knowing what was happening in our lives.
It was not an easy decision. I never thought I would be in this situation…having to make this choice. We once had to make a decision about removing our child from life support. We could see our daughter deteriorating before our eyes, but we didn’t want to accept it. We knew we were prolonging the inevitable, unless God intervened. With both decisions came grief and the loss of a child. The feelings were the same.
One lady on a particular forum stated that those who choose to disrupt are not “good human beings”. Another stated it was just a wrong decision to disrupt. These are both judgmental attitudes. No one knows what a family is experiencing. No one knows their financial or emotional situation. A serious, unexpected special need could be detrimental to a family financially. No one knows what is happening with the other children in the home. One child at home could be resentful of the new sibling that takes mom or dad away many days a week for various therapies. Everyone has to make a decision based on what is best for their families at that particular time. If Yang had been our first or second child, I’m sure the outcome would have been very different.
With China special needs adoptions becoming more common than non-special needs, there may be more disruptions. My hope is that the adoption community would be one of support and not one that tears down. If you’ve never disrupted, you cannot understand what a family is going through. It would be like comforting a mother who just lost her child by saying, “I know how you feel. Our child ALMOST died.” I’ve heard people’s “almost disruption” stories numerous times. It is not the same.
I’ve learned never to say “never”. You may say you know in your heart you would never disrupt. I’m glad. I hope you are never put to the test. I’ve learned that I have limits and am not perfect. It is very humbling to leave China without your child.
Cheri lives in Virginia with her husband, Mike, of 23 years. They have 3 biological children, ages 20, 16, and 11. After struggling with many pregnancy losses, they felt God was calling them to adopt a little girl from China. Upon returning home from their trip in 2006 to adopt Eva, they became more aware of the need of orphans. They traveled to China again in 2007 to adopt Joy. Always having the older children on her heart, but feeling incapable, Cheri felt an older child was in their future for adoption. In February 2010, Cheri traveled alone to Guangdong, China to adopt 7-year-old Ivy. Cheri started blogging to share her travels to China with friends and family but has also enjoyed sharing the ups and downs of adoption and family life.
This post has been being written over and over again in my brain several times over the last few months. Last night I couldn’t sleep at all over it, so it’s time to get it out and put it to rest so I can get some rest! Way to often recently, an ugly debate has been raising its head on social network sites and quite honestly, I believe it grieves the Lord, and fuels the enemy’s fire to steal kill and destroy.
If you have sensitive toes, you may want to stop reading about now. Because some things just need to be said.
First of all:
This is an argument we should NOT be having.
Disunity in the Body of Christ is a disgrace to the Lord. John 17:23 says that by our unity, the world will know that we are Christians and they would know how much we love people. Ephesians 4:13 says that unity is a sign of maturity. We are immature believers if we are arguing over this issue. We are NOT showing the world Jesus and we are NOT showing the world how much He loves them. If you want to talk to a family about their motivations behind one or the other, do it in private. I am 100% willing to bet that you will come to complete understand about their reasoning. At the end of the day, this argument only brings DISTRACTION from the real issue….every child deserves a family. And the enemy is having a party if he can take the focus off these children, and onto one another and ridiculous arguing.
No one child is more deserving than another.
I have worked for an adoption agency for 5 years now. The first three were spent in the domestic program. Over the course of that 3 years, I got to be in the delivery room 32 times to welcome precious children into this world. I took custody of 32 babies and handed over the majority of those tiny, squirming infants into the arms of adoptive mamas and daddies. I helped new parents figure out infant car seats and walked sobbing birth mothers out of the hospital and drove them home. Often times, the birth mom didn’t want to see the newborn. I spent many hours, in empty L&D rooms, with fresh newborns, rocking and praying over them, assuring them that they had a family coming. And they always did. More often than not, I was in tears as well just watching the process.
Those babies are just as orphaned as the ones in China. They are no more deserving of a family……and to say, “why go overseas when you can adopt right here in your neighborhood” is a very western, selfish, american, ugly, thing to say.
NO one child is more deserving than another.
I dare you to look at my children and say that they were less deserving because they were born in China. I bet not one person who has made that statement above would believe that if they spent one hour with my kids. Adoption is a picture of the very gospel….and to say one person is more deserving than another is a slap in the face to our call to care for the orphan. People who make this debate would never comment on a missionaries post and say, “why are you going to serve overseas when there are people right here who need Jesus?” Doesn’t that sound absurd? It sounds just as absurd when you ask it of the orphan.
Families go where God calls them.
Why did we adopt from China?
We had children there.
The Lord made that crystal clear.
We would’ve gone to China, Africa, Arkansas, or the North Pole if the Lord had asked us to. The Lord calls us the Body of Christ….we each have a function. If we were all called to the same place and the same thing, the world would be boring and lots would go undone. If we were all called to care for China’s orphans, the rest would go unnoticed. When families call me and ask about the process, the first thing I say, every single time, is “pray about WHERE.” Then call me back when God tells you, and we’ll move forward. Praise the Lord we are all called to different places!!! We get to be His hands and feet right here in our backyards and overseas!!! That ought to make us rejoice, not debate!!
Be respectful and prayerful.
People need Jesus. Children need families. Families need children. Before you take a stab at an adoptive parents motivation, consider what YOU might do. If you look around and you aren’t doing a thing, please keep your opinions to yourself. Adoptive parenting is HARD ENOUGH. Adoption brings baggage. Even to a two day old infant. It’s a lifetime process and is a beautiful thing. It’s a good hard. Instead of debating, we should be praying for one another. Asking the Lord what we can do. Holding the hand of a broken mama who’s birth mom has changed her mind, and the baby has to go back. Bringing dinner to the family who just came home from two weeks overseas and can’t get their days and nights turned back around. Serve one another! (1 Peter 4:10)
Put it to rest, friends. Give it up. Let it go. If you are called to this road, celebrate it with one another. It will change you…….and it’s not a glamorous life. Adoption changes the way you see the Lord, changes your checkbook and how you spend your money, and gives you a burden that some days is all consuming. If you haven’t been on this road, respectfully keep your opinions to yourself. Be the Body of Christ that we are called to be to one another and to a dying world that needs Jesus like nobody’s business. And if we are going to fight over something, let it be:
Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.
- Emily and Jay have been married for 11 years and have 5 childen–Avery 8, Ally 6, Annalyse 4, Ashley 3, and (finally) our BOY, Asher 2. Ashley and Asher were adopted from China and were both special needs adoptions. Jay is an associate pastor at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, GA, and Emily spends her days chasing toddlers and waiting in line at carpool. Her favorite place in the world is in her van, all alone with the worship music blaring! She would count it an honor to have you be encouraged at www.ourhimpossiblejourney.blogspot.com.
My mother has a friend, an elderly man, who was preparing to go on a cruise. This first required a flight and before leaving for the airport the man, knowing that he might be walking on some uneven territory, grabbed an old cane, a walking stick that had belonged to his grandfather. It had sat in the corner, used only occasionally.
The man and his traveling companions stood in line for security at the airport. They noticed that those to whom they had entrusted to keep them safe were eying his cane very carefully, examining it from every angle. Suddenly, to the extreme surprise of the gentleman, the agent pulled on the cane and out whisked a very long, very sharp sword.
Chaos ensued. The travelers were rushed away, interrogated, but fortunately were deemed harmless and allowed to travel, sans the antique threat to national security.
It’s been dry around here lately. My heart, I mean. My spirit is parched.
Last November I spoke at a retreat on the extremely weighty issue of how God uses our suffering for His glory. I believed that God had called me to tackle this topic but the stress of it was overwhelming. After reading every book I could find on suffering, listening to every podcast, and pouring over every bible verse, and trying not to throw up in between sessions, I was drained. I had immersed myself in the Word for weeks and when it was all over, my sin nature immediately said “No more! Bring on the chick lit! DVR up the drivel! I need a break from all things deep and godly!”
It’s disgusting, actually.
About this same time, I discovered things about the adoption industry in Ethiopia that ushered in more nausea. Overwhelmed by information and confronted by the shocking ugliness of sin, plus accepting that bringing our daughter home is probably not on God’s agenda for 2012 caused my spirit to withdraw even more. Am I angry at God? I don’t think so. Am I jaded and cynical? More than ever before. Am I in despair? Yes.
Throw in the all the other worldly diversions and my bible has sat neglected for weeks.
My soul almost recoils at the thought of reading it. My short prayers consist mainly of, “I’m really sorry God. Thank you for loving me anyway.”
Oh wretched woman that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?
This past weekend I went to a retreat in Atlanta, designed just for moms who have or will adopt. My soul was refreshed by being around other wonderful, loving, God-seeking, hysterical moms who share my heart.
But there was also a constant reminder that this business we are in, this orphan care business, requires our hearts to confront the gut wrenching consequences of sin on a daily basis: corruption, rejection, racism, illness, disease, or the exhaustion that ensues from the commitment to help heal the broken heart of a child.
And as I sat in the dark surrounded by like minded sisters, my mind wandering while godly speakers spoke of godly redemption, a Godly voice whispered to me, How dare you?
How dare you decide to neglect Me now?
Indeed, how dare I?
During the time preceding my marriage, I was immersed in the word of God. Between BSF, Beth Moore Tuesdays, an obscene amount of time to myself, and equally hungry friends who enjoyed discussing theology late into the night, I dove deep into Scripture almost daily. My future husband and fellow BSF leader was one of those hungry friends. Our marriage, all nine stressful years of it, has been blessed and happy. I am convinced it is because we were both bathed, powdered and lotioned in the Holy Spirit for years before we walked down that aisle.
Yet here I am, in the adoption process, entering straight into the lair of the Enemy, answering the challenge from the prince of this world with some dust from a dried up brook. I’m daring to call my own a child whom he had assumed would be his – and I’m choosing banality over the Living Word of the One whom he hates the most.
How dare I?
Hebrews 4:12 says “the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
I’ve taken that sword, sheathed it, hidden it away in a corner. I’ve occasionally pulled it out as a cane, a whimsical decorative piece, leaning on it briefly only when I felt exceptionally weary.
I have neglected it, but it has not neglected me. From the dusty corner it has continued to judge the thoughts and attitudes of my heart – my selfish, desperate, lazy heart.
Things must change.
Things will change.
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
Matthew 11:29-30 (The Message)
I need a real rest given to me by my Sword, my Cane, my Crutch, my Savior – the only One who condescends to enter this broken heart.
Then I will whisk out that Sword and brandish it against all who threaten His plans – especially myself.
How dare I not?
Not your typical “mommy blog,” Missy’s beautifully-written musings run the gamut from witty and light to deep, thought-provoking and prayer-invoking…often simultaneously. Her blog touches on anything and everything: the nitty-gritty of daily life with four small children, social/political commentary, the calling and pursuit of adoption, and the ups and downs of walking faithfully through life with her husband and for the glory of God.
We’re experiencing the tension of being foster parents.
Our foster baby’s mom has come into the picture for the first time since he was born. He’ll start to have regular visits with her next week.
There is much tension in my heart as I want the woman who birthed him to know how much we love him and how we have done everything we can to protect and nurture him.
And, I want her to know that SHE is loved, because I know this life hasn’t been easy for her. She’s where she is in life because of some things that aren’t her fault.
And, I want her to know I’m not the enemy. That I want the best for him. Whatever and wherever that may be.
I want redemption for her: restoration for her body, her spirit, and her life.
But, I love this sweet baby boy who currently lives in our home. As all this has played out this past week, I’ve wanted to grab him and hold him and not let go.
And, I want to make her earn the right to see him because she’s left him for the last three months.
I want to grab her face in my hands and say, “Don’t you know what you’ve missed? Was it worth it?”
But, I realize that she has given me a gift for the past three months. And her gift is the result of a life that has been littered with heartache and devastation.
And there is the tension.
We need loads and loads of prayer as we navigate these new waters.
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 fostering a little guy and awaiting a referral of one or two children from the Democratic Republic of Congo. You can read more about their adventures here.
I’ll admit it. Sometimes I sit in the playroom with a baby in my lap and wonder if anyone will ever adopt some of these children. I know what their special needs are. Words that are probably foreign to many are now part of my regular vocabulary… but that doesn’t make them any less scary for the potential mamas and babas. Seeing these words – these diagnoses – on a child’s file can’t do anything but make the kids seem more needy… more hopeless.
But do you know what I’ve been learning? I’ve been learning that it’s not the people who have adoption agendas that bring these sweet babies home. It’s not families who have necessarily decided to adopt from a specific country at a specific time for a specific reason… no, it’s not that at all.
It’s families who have a God-agenda driving them. They’re the ones who bring home kids who might not make it. Kids who may have many surgeries ahead of them. Little girls and boys who may just never learn how to behave.
And that doesn’t mean that it’s any easier for these families. Just because they’re not happily jumping into this ‘pool’ and instead are being bounced off of the diving board by an all-powerful God doesn’t mean that this adoption is going to be easy or safe. Parenting, loving… it’s going to be rather scary, I think.
I’ve seen some of the needs here. I’ve met little girls whom I know will have lots of trouble attaching and behaving, if they ever figure it out. Children who probably won’t grow up normally; little ones that might not make it through the unexpectedly expensive and draining surgery, if they make it up to the surgery at all.
The word palliative is scary. So what happens when that’s the word that the doctor gives after looking at your child’s medical file? Or maybe you see the word “delayed” pop up much too frequently on her file, and you wonder what it really means.
There’s a lot that goes on in an orphan’s life between the special needs listed on their adoption paperwork and their real physical, emotional, and psychological condition. Sometimes gains are made when they get home, sometimes they slowly regress. So often the sweet almond-eyed Asian beauty you bring home is nothing like who you expected him or her to be.
But I think that maybe I’ve figured it out. Maybe I now know why families bring these unexpected blessings and unanticipated struggles into their lives.
Because they don’t have a choice.
Someone put them on a God-roller coaster, and there’s no way to get off until the ride is over. A picture on an advocacy site pulled a heartstring that caused a lump in the throat that led to sleepless nights, and the rest was history! Suddenly that long, long list of heart defects and grim “doctor’s opinions” didn’t matter at all. The established fact that this child might not even live until Travel Approval was a nonissue. Daddies are crying, and Mama Bears go into full-swing paper chase mode.
And there’s nothing that they can do about it.
God’s given them a mission. Scared out of their wits, these families go forward. They’ve never met these children before, yet something inside of them has gone into overdrive, and they know that they have to do whatever physically possible for their children.
There’s a huge risk to being willing. Who knows where God will meet you, plop you into one of His amazingly scary roller coaster rides and off you’ll go. Screaming to get off because it’s scary is 100% normal, from my experience. Deep down, the ride is exhilarating because you know that it’s all-God. He’s not safe (but don’t worry, you won’t fall off of the roller coaster), but He’s good, and He has the whole situation under complete control. Even your frazzled brain and confused heart.
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.