this morning Nolan & I were walking to the mailbox’s in our complex to drop off a letter & get our mail
side note: how much do you love getting handwritten notes?! it makes me so happy. I need to write more of them.
anyway, as I was walking with my 1 year old on my hip, hair in a messy bun, no makeup on, I began to stare at the little bandaids on Nolan’s legs from his shots earlier in the morning.
I remembered that sad, screaming look of pain on his face as he got his shots and how after they were over, he was immediately comforted as he hugged me and cried into my shoulder. and how I would have given anything to take the pain of those shots from him.
and then a barney song popped into my head. obviously.
it goes like this
“a family is people and a family is love
that’s a family
they come in all different sizes and different kinds
and mines just right for me”
and then I cried.
at the mailbox
and kissed my baby
and marveled at the miracle of LOVE
and the miracle of FAMILY
and the miracle of a God that loves and creates families in so many different ways
I looked at my son.
My child that I would give up my heart, my kidney, my very breath for.
my baby that did not grow in my belly for 9 months.
my baby who I did not birth. I didn’t hold him on my chest the moment he was born.
my husband did not cut his umbilical cord.
on the day he was born I had no idea of the trials he would face in his first few moments, weeks and months of life
my son who has another mom who gave him life. a mom who, despite her faults and struggles and addictions, loves him very much
my baby who I did not even know about until we got a call on December 9, 2011
my son who I did not meet until he was almost 5 months old
my son that I fell immediately in love with when I saw his picture for the first time
my son who came to be in our family by a knock at the door as social workers brought him to his home.
his forever family.
his mom & dad.
family is a miracle.
love wins & endures.
people often wonder (but usually are too afraid to ask) if you can REALLY love a child that is not biologically yours. that’s a difficult question. I’ve never had a biological child to compare it to but I can tell you this.
I love Nolan with a love that I have never known before. The love of a mother for her child. There is no comparison, no explanation, just pure love. I can’t imagine ever loving a child more. my love for him grew as we waited to be matched so although we didn’t meet him for months we loved him already.
None of this has anything to do with me. It has everything to do with God and His love that allows me to love others the way he does. God’s love teaches me how to love & respect & pray for Nolan’s birth mom. God’s love gives me patience and gratitude for social workers and state welfare and medical. God’s love covers my selfishness and mistakes. God’s love gives me the freedom to love a child that did not grow in my womb. God’s love made Marc a father who works to provide and loves his family selflessly.
God’s love created our family.
And for that I am thankful.
Kara is wife to Marc and together they are foster-adoptive parents to their first child, a 1 year old boy who they are in the process of adopting. It has been the most rewarding adventure navigating the CA foster care system and her life is forever changed as her eyes have been opened to waiting children in her own backyard. Kara loves reading, chasing after her baby, blogging, watching LOST, and sipping coffee with her hubby. If she had it her way she would adopt a bajillion kids (okay maybe 6…..or 10). She blogs about faith, family & adoption at sunrisesunsetblog.com
Some of my favorite mom moments happen without me even being a part of the moment. You know, listening to the kids playing together nicely in another room (which always seems to happen when I need to be ushering them to bed), overhearing one of their conversations, watching as my husband makes them all laugh.
Yesterday was one of those moments for me.
Soaking in the last days of freedom this week, we spent the afternoon at a local park. Evan found some sort of seed that he got all excited about planting in the dirt where we were sitting under a big ole tree. All three of the big kids got right on into it with him, using sticks and little rocks to carve out a very shallow little hole in the dry dirt where they were convinced this little seed would thrive. They buried it under dusty dirt and used shovels to bring water up to get it off to a good start.
Forever changed by our experience of being adopted and adopting, Kelly is a stay-at-home mom/manager to 4 children and a professional juggler, juggling her calling as wife and mother with her secondary callings (professional editing, WAGI, 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. If you are expecting (waiting to bring your little one home via adoption, that is), click HERE and enter to win a little giveaway just for fun.
We have an agency.
We are home study ready.
Our finger print application can be sent off ASAP.
Only a few minor tweaks need to be made to our paper work.
And then there is one glaring blank:
For about four weeks now, we’ve been asked to fill in that blank.
Our family vote has been bottle necked.
Two votes Ethiopia.
One votes India.
Mommy’s vote can tie it up or give direction.
The Angel and The Hero are set that it’s Ethiopia.
The Dinosaur just likes screaming “I’m an Indian.”
(I have no idea why this is fun. But he loves saying it.)
So at dinner each night as we pray, we’ve been asking for direction.
We’ve received nothing but silence.
To be honest, I’m not sure He cares.
Don’t get me wrong.
I know He has a plan and that He has chosen a very specific person(s) to join our clan.
But we know what the Word says.
The mandate is out there for us to receive.
And now that our eyes have been opened we know what to do.
But like all things, we have a choice.
Geography is up to us.
He is leading our every step, He’s waiting on us to choose to fill in the blank.
We are a family of God’s perfect design. With two adopted angels (2, 5) from Ethiopia in 2010 and more on the way soon. The Andrews family are one of three founding families of LoPa Art, buying Ethiopian art fair-trade and proceeds benefiting an Ethiopian non-profit, currently serving 210 orphans in Korah, a trash dump outside Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Lovers of gardening, advocating for Children’s HopeChest, swimming and traveling to Africa, the Andrews continually seek to connect those they know with the things they love. Mommy is a writer, lawyer, speaker and chief laundry distributor. Daddy “The Hero” is a fireman, handyman and human jungle gym. “The Angel’ is now eight and loves reading, drawing and dreaming about buying a bunk bed. “The Dinosaur” is now four and stomping his way through home, hearts and life. The family is loved by Jesus and protected by a french bulldog, Walter. Mommy blogs at www.africaboundandrews.blogspot.com
While I realize that our family has been formed a bit differently than most, to my children it is completely normal…as evidenced by some of the funny things they say:
Overheard as we drove past an airport…
That’s where people go to get their babies!
We often talk of traveling to get Miss A and Miss L, which always leads Miss E to ask…
Mom, where was I from?
She seems less than thrilled that she just came “from my tummy”.
Watching the Olympics we would often point out the athletes from China. To which Miss A replied,
“Just like me!”
At one point I think I said how a particular athlete was from China like Miss A, but he still lived there. Miss E was aback and said,
You mean he actually eats and sleeps there?
(As if it had never occurred to her that people live in China, but only come from China.)
Miss A came running into the room distraught during Olympic coverage saying,
Miss E say I not Chinese!
Oh, honey. You’re Chinese.
But she say I not Chinese! She say I USA!
Well, you are actually both.
18 years in the classroom as a teacher is nothing compared to teaching three little ones at home full-time. Through their three little girls, God has revealed Himself most clearly to them. He not only worked a miracle in giving them their biological daughter, He continued to show Himself in a mighty way throughout adoption journeys in China and Bhutan that were anything but normal. You can read more about their family on their personal blog We Are Family.
I talked about exercising a while ago in a post (you can read here) where I made fun of myself for trying to be a runner. I am happy to say that I am still attempting to conquer that treadmill as often as I can.
I discussed a few reasons for exercising but omitted one of the most important ones so I could talk about it now. So here it is…
I run to help conquer depression.
I am wondering if you know me if you are shocked right now (or maybe not??). Here is some dirt on me…
A little over one year ago (it was June 2011) I finally admitted to myself and a few others that I was depressed. I have always been a bit of a melancholy personality by nature, but I instinctively knew that I was dealing with a monster of a different kind. I was suffering from what I now know is referred to as PADS (Post Adoption Depression Syndrome). Statistics show that PADS affects over half of mothers who adopt (adoptionissues.org). It is similar to post-partum depression, even though there were no hormonal changes within my physical body. The symptoms are similar.
Adoption rocked my world.
Adoption threatened my parenting.
Adoption threatened my marriage.
Adoption threatened my finances.
Adoption threatened my self-esteem and the person who I thought I was…
and the list could go on.
I knew that I was on a downhill spiral and that I needed help. I still felt close to God, but I also knew that there were some tangible things that needed to change and I couldn’t do it alone. I didn’t want to tell anyone because I didn’t want them to think that I couldn’t handle my life. But the truth is, I was at a point where I felt like I couldn’t handle my life. I never got to a place where I didn’t want to keep trying, but I did get to a place where I felt like I had ruined any chances of ever feeling like my head would be above water again.
I was angry.
I decided to get help.
I cried out to God and begged him to remind me how I had gotten to this place. I prayed that He would get me through what felt like the hardest trial I had ever found myself in the middle of. Then I began taking steps to slowly walk out of my depression.
First, I talked with my husband (as if he didn’t already know that I was close to my breaking point!).
Second, I made an appointment to talk with someone.
Third, I took both of their advice.
Fourth, I decided that I was going to do everything I could to beat this thing and not let it define me.
The options to manage PADS are different for everyone. In my case, I decided to not pursue a prescription medication. Instead I opted for a source of amino acid (in tablet form) that naturally increases the body’s level of seratonin (the chemical messenger that affects emotions). I also agreed to write/journal more often, have daily quiet study/prayer time, eat healthily, and exercise regularly.
In the past 14 months, I have worked harder at taking time for myself without feeling too guilty. I have kept my commitments to all of these things and I am feeling pretty good. I am learning to let myself off the hook, and I am even working on learning to relax when my surroundings are chaotic.
In our adoption classes we discussed skimmed PADS, but there was no one to offer any personal experience. I was completely blind-sided when it happened to me. I felt like a failure as I began to listen to the enemy’s lies telling me that I should have never adopted in the first place. I was even starting to believe that I must have been a very selfish person and now did I not only ruin my life, but I had ruined the lives of my entire family. Looking back with a clear mind now I can see that these were lies, and that because we had rescued two children from the grip of helplessness and victimization the devil was going to work overtime to make me believe I had failed. It worked, temporarily.
I write this to be an honest voice in the world of adoption. My goal is not to disuade anyone from the miracle of adoption. Sometimes media can make adoption look like a warm fuzzy thing and when you bring a hurting child into your home they will run into your arms and thank you for doing so. If God is leading you into the world of adoption, then He will see you through. Very often, God’s paths can be the hardest to walk. Yet at the same time, God’s plan is the only plan for your life that will be accompanied by true peace and His blessing.
I am not cured from PADS, nor am I far enough beyond it that I don’t feel it creeping up on me every once in awhile. The important thing is now I know the signs and I have the resources to reach out for when I find myself slipping down that familiar slope. If you want to learn more about our adoption story, please go to this link where you can read about it. To learn more about our family and our adopted children, click here.
Christina is a proud wife to an amazing man named Brandon and mama to six beautiful children ages 9, 7, 4, 3, 2, & 1. After getting her degree and teaching junior high for a couple of years, she had four sons. When her youngest boy was 13 months old, they completed their family by adopting a brother and sister from foster care. She blogs as a way to document her family’s growth, as well as an outlet which she hopes will encourage others. She feels truly called to her lifestyle and knows that she is incredibly blessed to fulfill that calling. Their family life is entwined by selfless faith and together learning daily how to live missionally. They recently moved from California to their new forever home in Arizona. She absolutely loves her life as a stay-at-home/frequently found warehouse shopping/carpooling/football mom.
Recently, I had a candid chat with a friend of mine who is parenting former orphans. It was Mother’s Day, which is one of those slightly awkward holidays when you aren’t the only mommy your child has ever had. She has also faced infertility, making it an even harder day. She was overwhelmed by the loss and brokenness that accompanies adoption. Hurting for her children, but also herself, at the years of life she didn’t get to see.
The hard thing about loving someone so much it hurts is that, well, it hurts. When you think about their loss and pain, you just ache and wish you could take it on yourself.
Sometimes the brokenness is overwhelming.
Sometimes it’s maddening to think about all you’ve missed.
Sometimes you just want to tell your child, “YOU are remarkable. Your life has been harder than just about anyone I know and yet you have somehow come through it all with a tender heart.”
Sometimes you actually do tell your child that.
So, what do you do with all of the grief and loss and brokenness?
Gloss over it and pretend it didn’t happen? Sometimes that’s a good option, frankly. It’s sort of hard for kids to heal if they’re reminded all the time of their wounds. But, obviously, that’s slapping a bandaid on a big, big hurt.
Where I’ve noticed the greatest moments of redemption are in the firsts. Which are (ironically) usually the most painful reminders of all that’s been lost. I didn’t get to see my child’s first step. I don’t know how much be weighed at birth. Or when he got his first tooth or said his first word. I grieve all of that, but I cannot focus on it. That wouldn’t help anyone.
So we manufacture firsts. We choose to celebrate the firsts that might seem insignificant to others.
The first unsolicited hug.
The first time he had ice cream and winced at the cold with every bite.
The first time he pushed away a plate of food without pleading for more.
The first time he saw the ocean.
The first “I love you.”
The first time he went to a movie.
The first time he fell asleep without clinging to me for dear life.
The first time he celebrated his birthday.
We make a big, big deal out of these things.
We see the brokenness for what it is, which allows us to stand in awe of the wholeness that comes out of it.
This healing – it doesn’t come from a family, although that certainly helps. It doesn’t come from a book or counselor or therapy method.
It is God Himself who takes these little lives and makes them whole again. He redeems all the lost firsts and shows us that sometimes the manufactured firsts are even better, because they remind us of His goodness.
Lara is a Jesus-loving, book-reading, coffee-drinking, kid-chasing farmer’s wife of 5 years. She and her beloved farmer, Jon, have three kids: Cade, Ambrose, and Ellie. They brought their most recent addition home from Uganda in October 2011. Follow along on their journey at The Farmer’s Wife Tells All.
The Boat was Rocking
I found her sitting on the stairs all by herself. Head bowed and those little 8 year old knees drawn up to her chest. We were in those early stages of non-stop intensity (and, therefore, physical and emotional exhaustion) having just brought our first two adopted children home from Russia.
Julia, who you can see in the tea party photo above with the yellow scarf, was trying to grab hold of something that would steady the rocking of the boat of her life a little. She was trying to make sense of it all I think. As soon as I saw her sitting alone on the stairs, my mother’s heart was moved. I knew I was up against another need, a deep and important need, in our family. Could I handle this? Could I calm the storm enough for my sweet daughter?
She simply asked one question.
“Mommy, didn’t you like it the way it was?”
Loss is Loss
That one question, spoken in her sweet little girl’s voice, was one of the most moving times in my life as a mother. It was a question weighted with the pain and fear of change, the cost and sacrifice of giving, and the sadness of loss. Because as wonderful as adoption is, and it is truly truly wonderful, there is much pain and loss that accompanies it. For our adopted children, there was the loss of their culture, their birth family, the loss of literally all that was familiar to them– every smell, every taste, every sight, every touch, every sound.
And loss is loss, isn’t it? Even when the loss is the door through which a wonderful gain and blessing from God is secured.
For Julia, the youngest of our three birth daughters, there was also loss. The loss of the comfort and familiarity of her home, her family relationships, of her schedule. Comfort and familiarity was regained as we all got our adoption sea legs, but that time of transition was a huge adjustment for us all. Julia was grieving her loss, and needing to know that we saw her in the midst of it.
A Question of My Own
I remember silently asking God for help. You know those moments as a parent when you know you have been given a weighty opportunity– those uncomfortable moments when you wonder if you have what it takes. So, I did exactly the same thing Julia did, I asked my Daddy God a question of my own.
“Father, You are the Wonderful Counselor. How do I answer this question?”
When I try to describe how it felt for me–being the mother of three biological daughters whose worlds had been rocked, and the new mother of a 5 year old boy and a 10 year old girl whose worlds had been utterly and completely and permanently altered– I use the analogy of a swimmer treading water, just barely keeping up high enough to take a breath. That’s how it felt in those early months. Do any of you relate? It wasn’t as negative as it sounds; actually it wasn’t negative at all. But, boy, was it hard!
And I felt the lapping of the water rippling under my nose!
A Glorious Moment
Oh how thankful I am to know that God speaks to me and to be in relationship with Him! Dear mothers and fathers, your Heavenly Father is speaking to you. He has so much to say to you about your children!
For me, this was one of those glorious moments when I suddenly knew what to say. Holy Spirit showed me the path forward, what my sweet girl needed to hear from me. It went something like this:
Julia, when Daddy and I got married we were so happy together. We loved being married! After a time we began to think how wonderful it would be to have a baby. Not because we were unhappy or because we didn’t like the way it was. Not at all! It was because we were so happy and content together that we wanted to share that with a child. After Emma was born, we were so happy. We loved her and did not ever think, “Emma is not enough for us. She does not satisfy, so we need to have another baby…” No. We liked the way it was, so much that we wanted to have another baby. After Rachel was born, the same thing happened. We wanted to have you, not because we were dissatisfied, but because we had a Julia place in our hearts. And you were born.
When we brought Kristina and Pasha home we did not do so because we didn’t like it the way it was. NO! We so loved being the mommy and daddy to Emma, Rachel and Julia! So much that we were able to hear God when He said that there were more children for us.
As I spoke these words it was like I could see the boat begin to steady; I could see the peace settle on Julia. Even now, I consider this time as quite special in my years as a mother.
Limitless Supply of Wisdom for Every Hard Question
Since then, we have had many such questions from our children. Some have been harder to answer than others. Many of the questions, especially the ones from our adopted children, have been filled with pain and all have expressed great need.
How wonderful that each one of us has full access to the limitless supply of wisdom and insight that is ours through inheritance, ours not because we are especially clever parents, or always full of compassion and understanding. But ours because Jesus opened the way for us and made us heirs, simply by believing, to His eternal kingdom, a rich and glorious inheritance!
By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones)
What is a hard question your children have asked you?
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.
When we began this journey the number 1 question or concern people had were for our bio children. This past weekend proved that adoption is possibly the single BEST thing we could ever do for them!
Our big boy is 13 and spent last week away at a church camp with 5 other of his buddies from school. WE didn’t sign up with them, this was just something that happened. BUT once we found out that all six were going we made sure that they were in the same cabin (already taken care of). I only tell you this because my son was surrounded by his peers.
At the very last minute, I decided to take both Brahm AND Cav, even though we didn’t have room for his wheelchair or stroller.
As we walked into the chapel area (me holding Cav) and waiting to find a seat I noticed a boy walking around us looking at Cav’s amputated legs. Now that isn’t unusual and we are fine with it until they are rude or direspectful.
Suddenly, he looks at me and says, “I know what happened to him, your older son gave a testimony!”
Hmmm, that was interesting I thought.
Finally, after hearing about how incredible camp was for TWO days, I asked my son about this encounter.
My larger than his momma, kind hearted son told me how he felt led to present a testimony about Brahm being born little and how we got Cav and FeiFei.
He didn’t tell me much more than that – cuz you know he is a 13 year old boy.
When I told him about my encounter, I found out that this boy was actually a very small 6th grader. Not as in small due to dwarfism but just a late bloomer.
I stand in awe of my sons obedience of sharing when led
and how God has already used a 13 year old and 4 year old.
Two boys who were separated by an ocean,
looking past differences,
to do God’s work,
and affect the life of another.
I am so thankful for my sweet husband of 17 years. Truthfully, we never expected to have five children . . . with a little one waiting in China. We laugh at God’s plan for our family, for only HE would bless a 6’3″ man, with a little person. Just like jewelry, we have found that sometimes the most incredible gifts come in the smallest packages. In December, 2011 we brought our newly adopted children home from China. Little did we know an “oops” adoption was in the works just months later. We will soon be the parents of 3 children with dwarfism, a double amputee, and a whole lotta personality. We welcome you to follow along on our journey of learning to walk in faith.
We joined the “Century Club” today (meaning we have been waiting 100 days to receive our letter of approval/acceptance from China to adopt our daughter). Thankfully, not too many adoptive families achieve this status, but for whatever reason, our adoption journey includes being a part of the “Club.” I know in my heart there is something beautiful and wonderful that will come out of this wait. There is a purpose. And there is an end. Not today, but some day the wait will be over, and our Little One will be home.
When this season ends, I hope I am more like Jesus. Refined. Stronger in my faith and character. More equipped to meet the difficulties and hardships the next season is sure to bring.
God is so faithful in encouraging my heart as I wait, whether it be through a promise in Scripture, the gift of a darling Chinese doll, a phone call from a friend, or the opportunity to send a box of supplies to my daughter’s Healing Home.
So, while I never dreamed we would reach Day 100 without our LOA and I am sad, I decided to celebrate 100 today with the kids.
We counted 100 steps.
We ran down the road for 100 seconds. (During this 100 seconds, the dog managed to get sprayed by a skunk. Stinky!!)
We dug for treasures in our 100 year old barn.
Ori told me he had 100 treasures. I’m pretty sure he does.
We played in the 100 degree heat (it’s sooo dry!!).
Ori and Calla each strung 50 Cheerios on to a pipe cleaner to make 100 (then they ate 100 cheerios, I’m pretty sure).
I’m thinking ice cream might be necessary tonight. Maybe we can each lick our ice cream cones 100 times?
It’s a good day. Resting in the fact that my God is faithful, all-knowing, and good. Even the heartache of joining the Century Club is for my good.
Julie is a former middle school teacher turned stay-at-home mom who is passionate about children. She and her husband, Ian, have been married for 8 years. They have two biological children, both born prematurely. God placed adoption on Julie’s heart as a child and it was something Ian and Julie discussed off and on throughout their marriage. However, when their daughter Calla was born at 26-weeks and faced many challenges, they became interested in special needs adoption. Currently, Ian and Julie are waiting to bring home their precious 17-month old little girl from China. Julie blogs about motherhood, adoption, and toddler activities at Breezy Acres Farm.