Monthly Archives: June 2013

{Hitting Repeat} Grafted In

I’ve been doing some research about grafting lately. And, believe me, research is needed because gardening is not my thing. Maybe it will be my thing when my kids are a bit older. But, as I look out my back windows and see my garden overtaken by grass and weeds, I have to remind myself that I’m growing kids not prize-winning tomatoes.

So, here’s what I’ve learned so far:

Grafting by a master gardener takes two separate plants and binds them into one so that they now grow together as one plant, a more beautiful plant at that. You could graft two apple trees to make one tree that produces two different kinds of apples. Or, you could graft rose bushes to produce a plant with many varied colored flowers. Rather than create a genetically new plant variety through grafting, the plant actually keeps the two separate genetic codes but grows together as one, maintaining both the two original identities as well as creating a new identity as one.

Besides producing an interesting or more beautiful plant, grafting is also sometimes necessary. For example, if a plant does not have a good root system, it will die. Grafting it into a larger, more established tree which will become its root system will save the plant. Furthermore, grafting enables a plant which is no longer fruitful but has deep roots to become fruitful and useful again.

In order for grafting to be successful, 4 conditions must be met:

  • The two plants must be compatible to begin with. And, sometimes the only way of knowing this is through research and trial by a master gardener.
  • Each plant must be at the proper physiological stage. The plant grafted in should have buds that are present but dormant. The plant receiving the graft must be healthy and have strong roots—often determined by the quality of the soil surrounding the plant since you can’t actually see the roots. The best time of year to graft plants is late winter, on the cusp of spring when new growth is close. If the plant to be grafted in has a disease, the receiving plant will be affected and the graft a fragile one. But, if the receiving plant is healthy and the graft is done well, success can still be experienced.
  • The cambial layers of both plants must meet; they cannot simply have their bark touching. They cannot be attached on the surface; rather the plants have to be attached on a deeper level, under the bark, a process that is painful for both plants but absolutely necessary. Without the peeling back of the top layer and a connection at the core, the graft simply won’t take.
  • The graft union must be kept moist and warm until the wound has healed. It must be watered, nurtured, cared for carefully and regularly until the wound has healed. If you neglect the graft, the wound may not heal. And, even if the plants are able to grow, the growth will be poor and the scars on the plants apparent.

Now, read this:

But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree—some of the people of Israel—have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree.” (Romans 11:17, New Living Translation)

Do you get that? Do I really get that? As a Gentile believer in Christ, I have been grafted into God’s family, a full member of God’s family, receiving the blessing promised to His chosen people. I grow there; I bear fruit there; and I am pruned there as all branches should be—not as a punishment but as a way to keep me fruitful and productive.

Now read this:

“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.” (Ephesians 1:5-6, New Living Translation)

Do you see the word synonymous with being grafted in—adopted.

Now, read again about the gardener’s rules of grafting and consider not only our spiritual adoption but our adoptions as lived out in our families on earth.

God’s word is so rich, so absolutely applicable to our lives.

We are grafted in. We are grafted into God’s family, an adoption process initiated by our Father and one that brings Him great pleasure. He has poured out His glorious grace on us and made us—even in our dead state—His own, a coheir with His son.

My earthly family is also grafted. We believed God was calling this rooted family to become fruitful again. We researched and prepared and then had to simply take the leap of faith. We peeled back our layers as our daughter was forced to peel back her own. No doubt, this was not comfortable for either of us. But, comfort without roots is short lived. And, comfort without fruit is purposeless. We’re still quite aware of this new graft and daily caring for the wound, nurturing both the branches (new and old) and the roots of all of them and keeping the wound moist and warm in hopes that it will heal in time and produce a fantastic tree, one with two distinct identities—Chinese and American—but one root system, one life together.

Is this easy? No. It can be scary and overwhelming. But, not only is the end worth it all, but the process of getting there is worth it as well.

_______________________________

Kelly-NHBO1-150x150

Kelly Raudenbush

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 (editing 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 blogMy Overthinking (where she’s going to have some super sweet giveaways this month, by the way).

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{Hitting Repeat} The Nitty Gritty of Adoption

When we first announced our plans to adopt, many (though not all) of the responses we received were…shall we say…less than ecstatic. We weren’t expecting the same thrills and cheers that people receive when they announce when they’re pregnant. But, when sharing something that has begun to consume your heart receives a negative response, it stings a little bit.

This pic was our initial announcement.

To those who have never thought about adoption and have only been educated about it through the nightly news, it can be a foreign concept that stirs up feelings of risk, danger, impracticality, and fear. Why would you adopt when you can have biological children of your own? What if your adopted child is mean to your biological child? Why would you put your family at risk for something difficult when your life is so easy right now? You’re adopting from Africa, does your adopted child have a communicable illness? Are you sure having an interracial family is a good idea? (Just look at a current family picture for the answer to that one.) How can you love an adopted child the same as a biological child? You’re going to have all girls…doesn’t your husband want a biological son to carry on his name?

We’ve spent a lot of time defending our decision to adopt and will probably continue to do so. We realize it’s not something that everyone does and the unknown can be very scary for some. Not only is adoption changing our lives, but it’s changing the lives of our friends and family. Even though we are the ones who made the choice to adopt, our decision impacts many people. That can take awhile to come to terms with.

So why are we doing it?

To sum it up, we’re adopting because Christ loved us first and has adopted us into His family and kingdom. He has been to those dark, sick, nitty gritty places over and over and over again. I’m not talking about orphanages. I’m talking about places like my own heart. Had I seen the depths of my heart before I was rescued by Christ, I would have considered myself unadoptable because of the sickness in me. But Christ fought for me because I am worth it to Him. Love hopes and believes all things. We know that adoption won’t be easy. This will very likely be the most difficult thing we will ever do in our lives, but we are not afraid because the greatest glory and treasure often comes out of the greatest struggle. There will be challenges, sleepless nights, rebellion, bitterness, feelings of not belonging, doctor’s visits, inappropriate questions from strangers and friends, bad hairdos, delayed milestones, and much more. There will also be cuddles, laughter, new traditions, milestones reached, birthdays, “gotcha day” celebrations, 3 cultures to honor, shared clothing, sleepovers, and unconditional love and commitment.

We are not afraid.

We are not looking for easy lives.

We are looking for glory, hope, redemption, and love in every corner and crevice because our Creator God has placed it there. We’re not about the practical. We’re about the impractical, incomprehensible, wild and ridiculous love of our great Redeemer who has led us from brokenness and pain into His restored and delivered heavenly family.

To get to the point, we’re adopting, not in order to avoid challenges and risks, but to call out love and hope in the dark and difficult places. It’s there and we will not give up, because we were not given up on.

________________________________________

Sarah Pascual

Sarah Pascual lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband Jonathan and sweet 16 month old daughter, Aurora. Sarah works for a non-profit and Jonathan is the best stay-at-home dad ever. They began their adoption adventure in March 2011 when God opened their eyes to the millions of African children needing a family. Their initial plan was to adopt one child under age 2, but God enlivened their hearts to a set of 3 1/2 year old twin girls they are hoping to bring home within the next few months. Their journey is a road of grace, thankfulness, adventure, and love. You can follow their adoption journey here.

{Hitting Repeat} No debate

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.

Domestic Adoption
vs.
International Adoption

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.

Second:

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.

NOT. ONE.

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.

Third:

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!!

Lastly:

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)

Toes ok?

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:

Philippians 1:27
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.

my lil’ fighter

________________________________________

Emily Flynt

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.

{Hitting Repeat} Expectation vs. Expectancy

There we were, going through another miscarriage. I began wondering if it was wrong for me to continue to pray to God for a baby. Afterall, if parenthood wasn’t in God’s plan for us, we didn’t want to be outside of His divine will for our lives.

But, what would I do with the gaping hole in my heart aching to be filled by a baby!?!? My empty arms and aching heart were sobbing ~ at moments even SCREAMING ~ for God to talk to me!

Didn’t HE put this strong desire to be a mommy in my heart!?? WHY wasn’t He answering my heart’s cry?!? Was I being disobedient for continuing to seek Him for a child, if His answer was consistently “NO”?

Jeff believed we should stay on our knees and seek the Lord. I began to wonder if it was even worth asking for, if God had no intention of bringing us children.

I wondered if I was being selfish in my continued prayers for what God didn’t seem to want to bless me/us with. God assured me one night, through Jeff, that YES! He wanted me/us to continue to seek Him and pray for the desires of our hearts! He wanted us to continue to pray for our children and wait for Him!

Psalms 27:14: “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”

After reading an article one night, Jeff paraphrased for me the difference between expectancy and expectation. He doesn’t recall now where he read it, darn it! I wish I could credit who helped answer such a mystery for me! Allow me to share with you how learning such a difference freed me to keep praying amidst our unanswered prayers!

God wants us to lay the desires of our heart at His feet. He wants us to pursue these desires with confidence in Him. Not confidence in our ability to reach these dreams, but confidence in His ability and willingness to answer our prayers! He yearns to bless us abundantly! His plan for us is GOOD! ALWAYS!

Matthew 21: 22: “And what you ask for in prayer, having faith and believing, you will receive”

He definitely does want us to pray with expectancy ~ belief that He WILL answer our prayers!

Here’s the catch: He wants us to have child-like faith that He will answer ~ but He doesn’t want us to tell Him HOW or WHEN to answer our prayers! He doesn’t want us to pray with expectations of the details. He wants us to pray with excited anticipation and assurance that He will answer our heart’s cry. He just doesn’t want us to go about telling Him how to do it! {ouch!}

Knowing that His plan is good (Jeremiah 29:11), we are to seek Him like a child awakening on Christmas morn, excited beyond all excitement of what awaits us! Such expectancy builds in us hope which stems from belief. Belief in God’s faithfulness ~ more than the details of our dreams!

Our dreams will be fulfilled perfectly, in His timing, in His will! No worries. If His answer differs from our original dream, He will gently transform our heart to match His blessed plan for our lives.

Isaiah 30:21: “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'”

Living with expectancy but without expectation frees us from disappointment, worry, and doubt.

Living with expectancy but without expectation frees us to have hope, to believe. With each answered prayer, it frees us to build more and more trust in our Lord.

Romans 15:13: “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Thank you, Lord, for helping me find your truth in that difficult time. Thank you for helping me find my hope in you again! I do believe! I trust you, Lord, with the creation of our family!

Thank you for introducing to us, this amazing blessing called adoption!

We are coming, my little one(s)! We are coming. And, God is holding you while we wait!

________________________________________

Debb Marquez

Debbie has been married to the man of her dreams, Jeff, for over 3 years. God has greatly blessed their marriage. And now, God’s handprints can be seen all over their journey to parenthood. God is blessing them with the precious gift of adoption! They have been on the waiting list for an infant boy (or maybe siblings!) for almost 3 months now. You can follow their journey by visiting her blog, Holding God’s Hand in the Journey.

{Hitting Repeat} biggest.

if someone would have told me 7 years ago that our almost 1 year old baby girl, chloe, would someday be a little sister, i wouldn’t have been able to fathom that. i couldn’t even imagine how my heart could fit love for any other children–let alone one ‘stealing’ her birth order. [yes, people say that to us.] yet, my heart has grown with each child we’ve been blessed with. i didn’t realize that was one thing that really doesn’t only hold a certain capacity.

and here we are. a different child as our oldest. i don’t think this is for everyone. but, i do know it’s for some. it is for us. and missing it because i was more worried about the ramifications of disrupting birth order than educating ourselves & listening to God’s plan for our family makes me shudder at the thought. so many of these ‘older children’ are really just children. ready to love. ready to make your heart grow again. ready to be the big brother. ready to excel at every new task. eager to serve. quick to learn. ready to be little again.

it’s really been a blessing to watch those things in him. there are also blessings for each person in our family from it.  today i was in the middle of hard and i giggled out loud as i waded through it. i giggled at how easy our lives could have been. you know, when we were on track with our 2 kids and climbing the ladders. getting manicures every week and eating out all the time. able to enroll our kids in private classes & they could have calendars like socialites. seriously–it would have been so easy. [and i’m not knocking anyone…i’m truly saying that’s how i saw our lives at one point.] but, oh, what i would’ve missed. what we all would’ve missed. this kid is right where he belongs.

and so am i.

______________________________

Lovelyn Palm

Lovelyn is the mother to 9 children who range in age from 11 years to 3 month old twins. Her home is in the Midwest, but her heart is forever changed by a love for East Africa. She has a passion for caring for vulnerable children & families and advocating for waiting children. Sure her hands are full, but so is her heart. She blogs her family’s journey at Moments with Love.

{Hitting repeat} God doesn’t need me

Eden

This is our daughter, just after she arrived at the orphanage. Taken by a doctor who wanted to show us the extent of her malnourishment.

Yes, the orphan crisis is one of the few things that keeps me up at night. Children not only abandoned to AIDS, poverty, and war but then subject to exploitation at the hands of traffickers in their own hometowns . . . and in my hometown. The lump in my throat comes not at the vast numbers of children orphaned throughout the world but at the mental image of one single child. Cracked lips, hair matted from sweat, dirt caked fingernails, and bloodshot eyes from yet another night of poor sleep on the street.

Millions of little cross-bearers fill our earth without someone to help carry their load. I have yet to hear a story of an orphan enfolded into a home that didn’t reek of pain. The weight of my own personal pain has seemed unbearable at times, but it doesn’t hold a candle to what some of these 6 and 7 year-old orphans have faced. Alone. Their tolerance for pain stretched thin and at an age where I didn’t have one “ouchie” go unkissed.

________________________________________

Eden’s ballet class is tomorrow. She dances around the room in a flurry of African hip-jerks and pirouette attempts. In her leotard and tights, the only thing that distinguishes her from her classmates (also learning to harness their energy into beauty) is her size. I sometimes forget that her petite frame didn’t come because God intended her to be pint-sized but because, as an infant, she spent her days laying alone next to the field where her father worked. No breast to feed this little ballerina.

As I futilely try to wrap my mind around how I see one of the world’s greatest crises—a child plodding through life parentless—there is one conclusion, however, that I keep coming back to.

God doesn’t need me.

I have to admit there are times when I’ve approached this crisis (and even our own adoption as an answer) with a virulent pride, albeit subtle. On the surface, it comes in the form of seeing myself orchestrating a rescue mission. But, a few layers deep reveals a fissure in my understanding of God. He did not create this crisis—but that does not mean He is powerless to fix it. And, when the catalyst for my actions is the belief that God needs me to respond, He is relegated to a copilot. I become the healer; He becomes my helper as I heal.

The end result of this line of thinking or an intimate peak into the things God cares about can look the same: zealous passion for the things on God’s heart. But, the source of that passion is everything.

As we move forward with our next adoption, I wrestle with pride about how I am responding to (what I perceive to be) one of the world’s greatest crises. And, when I’m there, I am usually furiously chasing paperwork and breathing down my social worker’s neck to see if we could possibly speed things up and get these children home sooner.

And, at times, I rest my head on His chest, like I used to do with my dad when I was a child, and I hear His heartbeat for these little ones. And, I ache with the pain that He allows me to feel from His heart. And, when I’m there . . . I am usually furiously chasing paperwork and breathing down my social worker’s neck to see if we could possibly speed things up and get these children home sooner.

I believe God cares more about the source of my passion than the reach of its output. My invitation to participate is less about meeting a need than it is about walking more deeply with the Father. And, this hard-won truth has come after years of zealous pride in my “work.”

I know now that there are two rescue missions going on in this adoption. He’s rescuing my heart, even more still. He’s giving me a window into how He feels about orphans. His heartbeat. His plan. And He’s tenderly letting me in on His work, in the same way I allow my little Caleb to help me cook. He’s drawing me in deeper into Himself by using me in the life of a child He could so easily save without me.

And He’s putting the lonely—two of them, in this case—in a family. Even under our roof and in our arms, they will still need Jesus. Clean water, soft skin, and big comfy beds are what He lets me provide, among other things. But, the power to save rests not in my hands.

He likes it when we respond to His heart, and the world is brought more deeply in line with His kingdom when we do so. It’s just that, actually, God doesn’t need me.

He chooses to invite me.

Eden before her first ballet class, 17 months later

________________________________________

Sara and her husband, Nate, have been married 10 years. They brought home their two children from Ethiopia in 2010 and two more from Uganda in 2011. They have a heart for prayer and to see people touched by the love of Jesus. What started as a blog chronicling the ups and downs of adoption has become a passion for Sara. You can read more of her musings on orphans, walking with God through pain and perplexity . . . and spinach juice at Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet.

{Hitting repeat} Sameness

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?

NO.

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!!!

WELL I DON’T.

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 boys. She and her husband have a 6 1/2-year old bio son, Isaac, and her younger son (6 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. 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.

{Hitting repeat} Yes, I’m an adoptive mother. No, I’m not a saint

Important to realize, we adopt not because we are rescuers. No, we adopt because we are the rescued…
David Platt

We went to dinner on Monday night, and an all too common scene took place. One of the waitresses stopped by our table and said, “The owner said you guys adopted him. That’s awesome.” At first I wasn’t bothered. I just smiled, told her that he’d been home 17 months and that he was from Ethiopia. Then I mentioned that we have a little girl in Ethiopia who will hopefully be home in a few months. She responded with, “Oh you guys are such nice people. What a wonderful thing you did.” I smiled and said my usual response, “He is a blessing to us. ” But she wouldn’t stop. Over and over she said, “you’re just wonderful people…. what a nice thing to do!” Then she proceeded to just stand there and stare at us for awhile. I don’t know what she was hoping to see but it left us feeling a bit like we were on display at the zoo. She finally left, and I was left with the now familiar annoyed/frustrating feeling.

Here’s the thing. I’m not a saint. I’m a mother – just like any other mother in the world.

I am cranky in the morning before I have my cup of coffee.

Sometimes I get frustrated sometimes with my strong willed toddler and have to work hard to control my temper.

Sometimes the laundry gets piled up and there have been times when John comes out to tell me he’s out of underwear.

Sometimes I give Mareto candy and plop him in front of the TV just because I’m tired and I need a break.

I don’t love waking up at 3am with a teething child and sometimes (like last night) I cry while rocking him because it’s taking so long and I’m so tired.

Sometimes I get tired, or hungry, or selfish and I snap at my husband.

Sometimes I get mad at perfectly innocent waitresses who are just trying to be nice and understand our family that looks a bit different than most families.

Sometimes I just want to go out with my child and not be stared at by strangers and asked by the cashier if he’s “mine.”

BUT ALWAYS

I feel incredible grateful for the gift of my child. Full arms are better than empty arms any time of the day… or night.

I look at the tiny shirts and pants I fold and think of how long I waited for this and feel so much love for my little man who creates impossible stains on his clothes.

I enjoy morning snuggles and hugs – pre or post coffee.

I struggle with maintaining consistency in Mareto’s training and discipline because he is so darn cute and I just want to give in to all his wants.

I miss him just a bit when I do get little mommy breaks and am so thankful to be with him again when my break is over.

I choose rocking him over leaving him in his crib because I love him and want to comfort him and meet his needs no matter how late it is or how tired I am.

I am thankful for my husband who is an incredible father and loves us so well.

I am so thankful that God chose adoption for our family.

Yep. I’m a mom, just like every other mom. I’m not perfect and I mess up daily. But at the end of every day I lay it all in the hands of my Father and ask him to make something beautiful out of my mistakes. I’m not “good.” I’m not doing a “nice thing.” I’m not a “rescuer.” I’m just a mom trying her hardest and leaving the rest up to God – praying that He’ll make up the difference… especially on days when the gap is incredibly large.

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Lauren Casper

Lauren Casper has been married to her amazing husband, John, for 7 years. After enduring painful years of infertility and the loss of two babies, they embarked on the journey of adoption and brought their son Mareto home from Ethiopia in February 2011. They will be traveling soon to bring home their daughter from Ethiopia as well. Lauren has a passion for Africa, orphan care, adoption, infertility and pregnancy loss awareness, and writing. You can find her at her blog Traded Dreams.

Hitting repeat

You know how it is. You’ve watched every episode of 24, every second of Downton Abbey. And, then you can’t stop yourself from hitting repeat. Once you’ve finished watching, you have the bigger picture, you know where things are heading. When you go back to some of those earlier episodes, you see things in a new way and find yourself nodding your head and saying “ahhh, now I get it.”

In August, We Are Grafted In’s third season will end. With this season finale, we’re going to see a few changes around here. We are super excited to share that WAGI will be becoming the official blog of The Sparrow Fund, a nonprofit whose vision and mission aligns with our own. As we join forces, we trust that we will be able to better encourage and support adoptive families. While we may have a new address and a new look, we will still be what we have been for the last 3 seasons, a place for those with a heart for adoption to share their experiences and be challenged and encouraged.

It just seems right as we transition to hit repeat and revisit some of our favorite posts from our first three seasons. For those of you loyal readers from the start, you’ll remember some of them but will be able to read them now with newness. And, for those of you relatively new to WAGI, you’ll read some words for the first time and likely get hooked for our new season.

So, grab a cup of coffee and sit down with us every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning this summer. Can’t wait to have you join us, friends.

No One Told Me . . . {Preparing to Adopt}

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with a friend who had recently received her referral. The first thing she said to me was, “No one told me it would be so hard.” As soon as I heard the words, I realized she was right. Receiving your referral call is amazing, but there is more to it than that. It isn’t something that we talk about much. While it is true that adoption is beautiful, it is also brokenness and each life involved needs redemption. When we first started the adoption process, I thought it was clear cut. There are children who need families and we are a family who want children. What I am learning and accepting is that adoption is deeply complicated. Every person in this world has a story, things happen that are beyond our control, decisions are made, lies are told, truth is told, good intentions, bad intentions, pain, love, selfishness, selflessness. It is complicated.

All those months of waiting, you expect a flood of joy and nothing else on the day you get “the call.” The call makes it all real. No longer are you imagining your child, you can see their beautiful face. With your referral, you will begin to know their story. The same love that fills your heart with joy is the love the breaks your heart for the pain and loss in their little lives. My sweet friend could not bring herself to feel the full measure of joy because her heart was aching with each word she read of her child’s past. Your friends and family who have been waiting with you expect to see you dancing on Cloud 9. You are happy, but you cannot and should not forget the sacrifices, the difficulty that brought this child whose photo you are now staring at, your child, to a place where they needed a family. The pain that they have felt and the pain they will feel as they lose everything that they know in this world to join your family. It is joyful, but it is hard. Change is often hard, even as it is bringing healing. Nothing can prepare you for the moment that you really realize the child you have waited for, prayed for and loved has pain in their hearts, pain that you could not protect them from and pain that will always be a part of their story.

There are many days now that my heart and mind are filled with anguish at the reality that I have the amazing privilege of mothering these two precious lives instead of their mothers a world away. Each day, I get to kiss Maya’s soft cheeks and watch her grow. That is my joy. I love her more than I could have ever imagined. As I kiss her cheeks, I remember the one who brought her into this world and I grieve for her. For all she is missing. I grieve for Maya and the pieces of her life that are missing. One day, we will start having conversations with Maya about how she became our daughter and those conversations will be filled with smiles and tears. Joy and pain. But there is hope. There is a future. As her parents, we will have to walk her through moments of grief and loss along with all the good moments we get to be a part of. I will never understand every piece of her story. I think I am grieving for her now, so that in the future I will be better prepared to grieve with her. For both Alain and Maya, I pray that God will turn their broken pieces into joy and that in Chris and I can be a part of that healing.

As you are waiting, prepare your heart for the complexity of it all. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself or you family to feel any one way or another. Expect to feel a range of emotions both at the time of your referral and when you meet your child. Be encouraged that you aren’t alone.

Psalm 30:11-12:“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.”

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Jennifer Verme

Jennifer Verme

Jennifer and her husband Chris have been married for four years. Very early in their marriage they made the decision to grow their family
only through adoption. They are both small business owners and love the time they get to spend with each other and their two children, a 17 year old son from Rwanda and one year old daughter from Ethiopia. When they began their adoption process in 2010, there were many things they thought they knew about adoption. Three years later, their viewpoint of adoption has changed tremendously. One thing they know for sure, adoption is complicated. It is brokenness, wealth, poverty, and passion with a huge helping of good intentions. All the while, the precious lives of children hang in the balance. Through this continuing journey, they have grown in their faith, their compassion and the fire to be a part of what God is doing all over the world. You can follow her blog at Pure and Lasting.

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