Monthly Archives: July 2013

{Hitting Repeat} I think I’m always looking for a baby.


Large baskets by the roadside, dusty corners… dark alleys. My eyes are always peering intently into those forsaken locations, wondering if today is the day that I’ll hear a kitten’s cry and it won’t be a kitten. It will be a baby.

I don’t want to find a baby, and yet I do. I’d like to stay in denial that babies actually don’t get abandoned. I’d rather believe that they ONLY suffer in institutions, thrive in families, survive in foster homes and blossom in foster families. This would be so much easier to believe… if only it was the truth.

It’s a stereotypical “awkward” question from children, “Where do babies come from?” They ask because they want to know. I don’t ask where the orphan in my arms or in that bed came from because I do not want to know. And yet… I do so very want to know.

She was abandoned in a field… he was at the foot of a bridge… the local village, a hospital, the orphanage gate…. At the foot of a mountain….

…by the railroad tracks. That’s the one that gets me the most. Who abandons their baby by the railroad tracks? The hospital – I get that! A poor woman has just given birth to what should be a healthy son but instead it’s a weak baby girl who’s struggling for breath, looking quite blue and has a heart defect according to the doctor that would cost the family more than they could ever afford.

The culture here allows for borrowing and lending. I recently heard about a family who, when they discovered that their child was quite sick, spent every fen they owned. Then, as they cared for their child in the hospital, relatives went amongst one another, borrowing money. In the end, the child died. As the parents recover and grieve the loss of their one child, these sacrificial, unconditional-loving parents must work their fingers to the bone to repay their relatives.

A sick baby is born to a poor family. This is their reality, their situation and, ultimately, their choice. High-quality care costs a literal fortune and you must pay up front.

How high is life valued? I think that I can see an important yet devastating chapter to each little orphan’s story just by hearing about where they were abandoned. The girl abandoned at the hospital was meant to live. The boy abandoned in the town square was meant to be found. The baby in the flower bed was to know that she’s always been cherished… and hopefully will be found by one who loves. The little boy abandoned at the foot of a mountain was meant to be forgotten. The little guy by the railroad tracks… he was gotten rid of.

I want to throw up just typing it. A vibrant, healthy, living child was never intended to be found, to be loved… to be wanted. Of course I could be reading into the story a little bit or a lot, but in reality… he’s not a “perfect” baby and those imperfections could have been seen as negating his value as a human being.

I don’t know why I look for the babies. I think that maybe it’s because I have to prove that this sort of loss and pain exists in the world. But why? Why must something so awful be confirmed? This I don’t know. Could it be that God’s heart is for the fatherless and His eyes are on the little ones at the orphanage gate and in the flower bed and that His passion is to bring children to himself? When I look into the eyes of the children here, I see Him. I see Jesus, because in many cases… His love and care is all that they have to live on.

How much realer and truer is this for the one who hasn’t been found yet? What about the baby who was just given up, who has spent her first night in the cold without arms to keep her warm and a voice to keep her comforted? She has nothing, and if she had anything at all, it’s quickly escaping to leave room for the cold hard facts of the cold hard world.

But she has Jesus. That’s what I want to see; that is what I see.

I’m not looking for babies, I’m looking for Jesus. I’m looking for His love and His provision; for His peace and for His grace. I know that He has His eye out for each tender cry and delicate life.

I hope that I never stumble upon a bundled up child left by the roadside, hidden in a basket or at the public gate, but I do hope that I see Jesus in the eyes of every empty heart.

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Hannah Samuels

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

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{Hitting Repeat} Oh, For Grace

I love that old hymn that says, “Oh, for grace to trust Him more.” The chorus says, “Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him. How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er. I’m so glad I learned to trust Him. Oh, for grace to trust Him more.” And, I am living that desire right now.

JT left today for Guatemala for another 2 weeks (he had been home for 6 days after a 2 week stint in New Mexico). He left very early so he kissed us all goodbye while it was still dark. I woke up but sadly, the kids did not. That makes this even harder for Z and E.

So, today was the day when Z decided he would push me to my limits. We spent 3 hours this morning in a boxing match of sorts. He wanted to do anything and everything to push me away. The mentality seems to be that he wants to see how much it will take to make me stop loving him. I don’t give up that easily. He pushed, and I hugged. He hit, and I administered discipline in a loving way. He screamed and I prayed. He screamed louder, and I ran the vacuum cleaner (and prayed too). He threw himself on the floor and I sat him right back up. Over and over again, this boxing match continued.

All I could see over the course of those hours was a spiritual battle for his soul. I would not give up. I knew God was greater. My other kiddos can tell you that I was talking and praying aloud to the Father. “God, you know how much I can take, and I feel like I’m on the cliff and he is kicking me over….” I know that I cannot do this without the grace of our Father. He sustains. And, He won that battle.

Then, the war began to rage this evening. It lasted for at least 18 hours…it felt like 3 days…I think it was 2 hours total. Z started a new technique…laughing at everyone else, taunting me with discipline, and repeating every word that is said (but in a blah-blah-blah way). Nothing was working. Nothing. I was beat down to the core and showing the scars of the battle.

I sat him in my lap and had him face me. As clear as I could see, I recall a picture of my friend Keri holding her little girl Eden when she picked her up in China. What I remember from that picture is that Eden was screaming bloody murder, and Keri was crying for Eden. It broke my heart yet gave me a glimpse into the very heart of our Heavenly Father.

I told Z that my heart was sad for him today. I know that he missed Poppa and that he didn’t like it when Poppa was gone. I told him that I know he doesn’t have the words to explain or share his sadness. I told him that I loved him. And, then my eyes filled up with tears as I just said that I was so sad for him today. I saw a look in his eyes that I haven’t seen before. Tears rolled down my face, and he began to wail. We just cried together. We must have looked like a snotty mess (thank you God that all of the other children were merrily making up beds and cleaning upstairs)….. I held him and we continued to cry.

Then, we prayed that God would heal his heart and be His Heavenly Father. I begged God to show grace and patience to me so that I could give it to Zeke. Oh, Father, I beg you for grace to trust You more!

It’s not always easy…sometimes it is painful….sometimes it is ugly…sometimes it hurts like I cannot explain. But, our Father is good, and He has a plan. I don’t understand it, but I know and trust that He is holy and He is just and He is Sovereign. Oh, for grace to trust Him more.

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Sheryl Turner

We are a family living by faith for the sake of Christ alone. We have 5 children; some are biological, and some are adopted. We forget which ones are which.  We are living to make His name known among the nations–follow along on our personal blog.

{Hitting Repeat} Wait, while I wait.

Driving home today, I listened to this song.  A stream of words, playing through my speakers, that I’ve heard time and time again.

Keep your eyes on the prize.  Hold on.  

And I related it to our sweet baby that waits, as we wait, in birth mother’s womb or crib in a baby home.

Waiting.

waiting for a loved one to come home from Japan
  waiting to be accepted into nursing school
   waiting to find out about a new position
     waiting for clarity and comfort
       waiting for your baby to come home from Africa
         waiting for healing

 

Waiting, in whatever measure of time, can be difficult.

We wait for things to happen. Some of us wait minutes, months, or years.

It’s what we do with that wait that makes a difference in the wait.

Waiting for the things that Earth holds. Sometimes fleeting and may not be packed and carried with us when we go.  Won’t take nothing for the journey now.

Waiting for the things to come.
A breathe or a lifetime.
Waiting for the reward of things eternal; everlasting.

I listened to the words of the tune again today.  A smile grew across my sun kissed cheeks.  My focus turned from our child to our Savior.  He reminded me that while we are waiting for our child, that I need to be aware of the bigger picture.  I need to appreciate more His hand in the forming of our family.

Trust in Him.  Turn it over to Him. He did start this afterall.  He will finish it…all in His time.

This wait is precious and there is so much that I want to learn, absorb, and put into practice. But I don’t want to wait, while I wait.  I want to make as much of this period of ticking time that I can.

So, driving and thinking about the wait of our child, He reminds me that He is waiting on me.  He’s waiting on me to turn all my focus on Him; invite Him to be an even greater part of our wait.  He leans in and whispers that the wait for eternity is the most precious wait of all.  And that while I wait to meet Him face to face, I spend my time in this temporary home of mine, in a way that will glorify His name.

Getting to know Him on a more intimate level.  Growing.  Hand in hand.  In Him we are FREE.  In the Bible.  Free of fear, free of the burden of wait, free of worry, and questions.  FREE.  And again His voice echoes, “Turn it over to me.”

The wait is slow and we’ve so far to go.  Keep your eyes on the prize.

Rubbing away the cloudy vision, my eyes are trying to focus on the prize that is eternity with our Heavenly Father; ultimate prize.

distance separating loved ones will disappear as phone calls are swapped for embraces

acceptance into nursing school develops into an on the spot hire for a job that is more than perfect

everything works out in God’s timing

soft words spoken during moments of quietanswers and peace

learning and growing during the wait; seeing beauty unfathomable

finding healing in difficult times

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This couple from Alabama has been married just shy of four years.  They knew they were ready to start a family.  The southern pair felt that at some point in their lives they would welcome a child into their family through adoption.  They just didn’t know God would speak and move them to adopt first.  They continue seeking God’s face as they embark on their journey to adopt their first child from Uganda, Africa.  You can follow them on their blog, Love for the L.O.T.

{Hitting Repeat} Adoption Will Affect Your Biological Children

I have heard it said by others that they would never adopt for fear of how it will affect their biological children.

Since adopting,
our children now:

Love deeper.

Think of others more.

Pray for orphans across the world.

Pray for families adopting by name.

Pray for our sponsored children by name.

Will not let anyone refer to Elijah as their adopted brother,
he is their brother (period).

Save their money to help adoptive families and orphan care ministries.

Share the beauty of adoption.

Share that we were all orphans, adopted through Christ.

I would say they have been affected alright.

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Amy

Amy is the mother of four blessings. She and her husband, Paul, have three biological children and one beautiful blessing from Ethiopia, adopted July 2010. They would love for you to follow their adventures at Filled With Praise.

{Hitting Repeat} A Highlight of Our Lives

The anticipation that builds as you wait to meet your child for the first time is hard to express in words. It reminds me a little of waiting to walk down to the aisle on my wedding day. As we signed paper after paper, it was truly difficult to concentrate on what I was doing! Our lives were about to change forever!

AND THEN HE WALKED IN THE ROOM . . . our precious, precious boy. I almost couldn’t believe that it was happening just as I had imagined it, quite unlike our experience with Grace (but she was 18 months so you can imagine she was very scared and didn’t know what to think). He ran to us and hugged us and said, “I love you, Mother” and “I love you, Father” and “I love you, sister.” It was sweet music to our ears, and I feel tears welling up in my tired eyes as I write this.

The First Photo!

The First Photo!

He came to us with a backpack filled with candy and snacks and the items we sent him in the care package. The Shanghai Children’s home also gave us a beautiful photo album and a chop (a traditional Chinese name stamp). They were so sweet and generous.

He brought some toys which he showed us with great pride and shared several of his interesting treats with Grace and us. You should see them together. They are so cute. Children can overcome language barriers in amazing ways.

The language barrier is pretty significant, but we will trust God and speak lots of English. God put homeschooling on my heart for a reason! Exciting times ahead.

First Family Photo

First Family Photo

 

UPDATE as of July 17, 2013: It has been six months since Anthony Jianyou joined our family. From that first day forward, our love for our boy has grown in leaps and bounds. It amazing, wonderful and inspiring to watch him grow and unfold before us. He is so full of life and personality, and his English is amazing! I can’t believe how well he speaks, and he is also working hard to maintain his Chinese. We are so proud of him! He is such a smart, bright, energetic boy. We are so thankful to God for choosing him for our family and for the blessing of adoption.

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Suzanne Meledeo

Suzanne Meledeo

After struggling with infertility for five years, God led Suzanne and her husband, Adam, to His Plan A for their lives, adoption! Their three year old daughter, Grace Lihua, came into their lives on May 8, 2011 (Mother’s Day) from Fuzhou City, Fujian Province, China, and their 8 year old boy, Anthony Jianyou, joined their family on January 14, 2013. After a career in politics, Suzanne is thankful for God’s provision in their lives that now allows her to serve on the We Are Grafted In admin team and work part time as a Pilates Instructor while home schooling their children. You can follow their adoption journey and life on their blog, Surpassing Greatness.

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{Hitting Repeat} We’re Adopting

This week alone, I connected with two families actively fundraising for their first adoptions and two families who just announced they are adopting for the first time and adopting again. I have the joy of hearing a lot of “We’re Adopting!” and “We’re adopting again!” announcements. And, each one gets me pretty excited. ONE MORE child with a forever family; ONE LESS orphan in the world. It’s a pretty beautiful thing, folks.

Some of you may not hear that announcement as often and may not always know how to respond when you do. I don’t claim to be an expert—I’m an adoptive aunt to one and we’ve embarked on this adventure only once ourselves. Though my experience is limited, I think some principles are pretty universal.

So, next time you hear someone say, “We’re going to adopt” . . .

  • Please demonstrate excitement – It’s a good thing! It’s not a consolation prize that a couple is settling for because they “cannot have children of their own.” If the couple has experienced infertility, they have made the decision now to invest themselves in becoming a family through adoption. Do some cartwheels and jump up and down.
  • Please don’t offer the infamous cliché – “Oh, now I’m sure you will get pregnant!” or “Oh good! Seems like as soon as someone decides to adopt, they get pregnant.” Not true and a downright not good thing to say. Just don’t. Please.
  • Please don’t freak them out – Just like how you don’t tell a newly pregnant woman about the woman you know who just miscarried or the tragic story of a baby lost at birth, please don’t hear the word “adoption” and proceed to share some stories about a tragic story you heard on the news or someone you know who waited forever or a birthmother who changed her mind after a month or whatever. Couples starting out in the adventure of adoption likely already have a bit of fear in them—as all new parents do—and you don’t need to grow that fear.
  • Please respect their child’s home country – While we have a passion for China, I recognize that not all adoptive families may have a particular passion for their child’s home country if they are adopting internationally. But, even if they don’t, please do not insult the people of that country or the child’s birth family for the choice they made. Feel free to ask questions if you do not understand the culture and why there are orphans there available for adoption. But, in so doing, do not make judgmental or negative remarks about the people particularly in front of biological and/or adopted children. And, part of respecting their child’s home country includes not critiquing their choice of programs (i.e., “Why wouldn’t you just adopt from here?” or something along those lines). Simply encourage.
  • Please be intentional with your verbiage – While not all adoptive parents are sensitive about what words people use, it’s always better to be cautious and respectful with your words. Their child is their child, not like their own child. Use the terms birth mother and birth father, not real mother and father. The adoptive family is very much the child’s real family.
  • Please don’t make saints of the adoptive family – There are many more families now making the choice to adopt to grow their families for reasons other than infertility. Amen! But, don’t praise the family by telling them how lucky the child is to have them or how wonderful they are to rescue this child. It can be pretty uncomfortable. And, that type of praise actually can be harmful if said in the presence of their children—biological and/or adopted children. Instead, simply encourage them for following God’s call for their family. That’s enough.
  • Celebrate! – The typical baby shower typically won’t work to celebrate the arrival or pending arrival of an adopted baby, toddler, or older child. Think creatively! Consider getting girlfriends together for a Nesting Party during which you can help your friend paint the child’s room or even simply clean her house. If the family doesn’t know the age or gender of the child who will be coming home, consider having a book party simply to grow their children’s library. Gifts for new parents can be super helpful and needed. But, perhaps more than the gifts, simply the attention given to the family (okay, fine, mother) and the message sent that friends and family are rallying around this child can mean a whole lot more than gifts and last a whole lot longer.
  • Assure them you will care for them after the fact – In our circles—and I hope in most—when a family brings home a newborn, their church and/or neighbors help through providing meals, babysitting for other children, grocery runs, etc. This is not simply because a woman is recovering from childbirth; it’s because a family has just completely changed their dynamics, and it takes a while to get your bearings. Adopting a child is no different. In fact, having brought home biological newborns and one toddler via adoption, I think I needed care more after our adoption than after recovering from labor and delivery. Please don’t equate labor with need for care. Adoptive moms need that care too.

Anything you’d add to that list?

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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.

{Hitting Repeat} What’s in a Name

There isn’t a person alive who does not yearn for identity and purpose. As we raise our adopted children we see that this question of identity is often more complicated for them–complicated by a missing or shattered past, by the realities of relinquishment, rejection and abandonment, by the issue of race and culture, by tough questions of “why me” or “what if….?”

It seems to me that the people who are the most whole are the ones who are settled with who they are and enjoying a strong sense of purpose in their lives. Identity and purpose are the basic ingredients of wholeness for all of us, and most likely your adopted child will require extra effort on your part to instill and call forth his identity as a son with a destiny, her place as a daughter with a calling. It has been fascinating to me to hear that even children adopted as infants often find, once they become teenagers, that this issue of identity gets confused and complicated by the realities of adoption.

One of the most effective opposing forces to your adopted child’s sense of identity is an orphan spirit. For some children their adoption into a loving Christian family has not freed them from this sense of being an orphan– one who lacks parents, lacks love, lacks protection and provision, lacks security….. Even when the lack is replaced in adoption by a loving mother and father, a wonderful home and church with lots of friends, abundant provision in every way, this sense of being one who lacks can remain and threaten to become a child’s primary motivating identity, even years after his or her adoption as a daughter or son.

Much of our work as adoptive parents is to administer this truth, day after day and year after year, that this child is no longer an orphan, but a true Son or Daughter. One who is defined not by lack, but rather by possession and inheritance! One who is worthy, acceptable, significant, powerful, full of purpose and destiny and calling, defended, safe, beloved….

What can we parents do to help our child receive and embrace their Identity as a Son or Daughter, rejecting the lies borne out of the facts of their past? Lies that tell them “you are not significant, you don’t have what it takes, you are unloved and unwanted, you are too different to fit in, you have to fend for yourself….” Lies that keep them from connecting, and limit their ability to walk in their true destiny.

There are no simple answers to this question, but I believe there are some practical things we can do to massage into our treasured children the TRUTH of their identity.

Family Name

Be intentional about using your family name. There is something powerful about a family name. It speaks of belonging, heritage, relationship, history. When we are born again into the family of God, we take on His name and the full inheritance that goes along with it,

For Whom every family in heaven and on earth is named
Ephesians 3:15

Being named is more important to our perception of ourelves than we may realize. There is something significant for our children in hearing over and over that they are Templetons. If your child is being unkind, rather than say, “Don’t be unkind. That’s not nice,” you might say, “In the Templeton [inserting your name of course!] Family we treat each other with kindness.” Look for ways to intentionally insert your family name into daily life. “We Templetons go to church and worship God.” It may seem awkward but we have found it to communicate the truth of sonship to our children, especially in those early years.

Family Meetings

Having regular family meetings is a wonderful way to impart the wholeness of “sonship” into your adopted child. Just the gathering itself communicates that they are part of a whole or a unit, something established, something that has a history. These times can take on whatever flavor or purpose, you decide is needed at the time. Because we have such a large family, in recent years we have used these meetings to share what is going on in our lives. We ask each child to share what they are doing in school, what activities they are involved in, what issues they are dealing with. That way everyone feels connected. We also find that using these times for prayer is very powerful. Praying out loud for each other (especially in response to some need that has been shared) goes a long way to establish belonging and love. Sometimes each of us will write down five things we like about each family member (younger children can draw pictures) and share. Other times Stephen or I will read aloud a story or scripture, or address a family matter that needs adjusting or correction. No matter the focus, the gathering will help you to create sense of identity and belonging.

Family Traits

Something we learned is to be sure to identify Templeton family traits in our adopted children. Just like we do when a baby is born, we search for and comment on family traits. (“He has his daddy’s nose,” or “Her eyes are definitely from her mama’s side of the family.”) For instance we might say, “You look just like your mama when you smile like that!” or, “You are so much like your daddy taking care of that dog. He always loved dogs when he was a boy your age.” The wonderful thing about these comments is that they can be said regardless of skin color or any other physical difference. They speak volumes to your child– you belong, you are a part of a family with a story, you are not separate.

There is power in a name! The question of “Who Am I?” is one we adoptive parents want to be answering within the day to day life of our family. Don’t wait for the question to be asked by your adopted child. Look for ways to communicate the Identity of Sonship in everyday life– you belong, you are loved, you are acceptable, you are celebrated, you are connected, you are a person of destiny and purpose.

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Beth Templeton

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

{Hitting Repeat} Just Because It’s Hard Doesn’t Make It Wrong

“But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God.” Phil 2:17

This fostering journey has taken it’s toll on me emotionally and physically but it has grown me spiritually. My natural tendency is to think that when it is hard or when I see myself or my kids being affected that we shouldn’t have done this. But, that’s simply not true. We know that we are right where we are supposed to be. We didn’t make a mistake.

Somehow, we have this notion in our heads that if we’re in God’s will, life will be easy and uncomplicated. Things will make sense but that is just not the case. If it were, where would faith come in? Why would we need to be dependent on Him?

I’ve been pondering the story of Jesus’s birth – The Story. Mary was pregnant with the Son of God. The King. The Savior Himself. And yet Mary and Joseph went from Inn to Inn looking for a place to rest. They had to question what in the world was going on. “God, you want this baby to be born healthy don’t you? We need a place to stop. Why are there no rooms? I thought this was Your plan but it doesn’t make sense to us. It hurts.”

In our own waiting seasons, don’t we find ourselves asking the same types of questions? Mary’s situation was not easy or uncomplicated. It was definitely not comfortable. She was affected in many ways and yet through her obedience, she received the greatest gift imaginable. She held Jesus in her very arms. She cared for the King of Kings. I cannot grasp this really.

In our situation, I have come to realize that I need more help. I have always been full of emotion but with the added stress that six kids brings (and oh they do!), my lows have been lower, and I need some help with steadying out my hormone levels. I’ve talked with my Dr. and we have a plan to try out some medication.

This is not really fun for me to share but I do so because I want you to know the realities. I know there are differing opinions on this whole issue but we believe that this is the right next step for me.

Even so, I struggled with this. One of my biggest fears going into fostering was that I would “wither up like an old dead flower” and let me tell you, Satan has been throwing that back in my face. “Look, Jami. You have failed, you can’t handle it. You are losing.” But I am not accepting his lies nor his evil whispers. I will choose to listen to the Voice of Truth. He tells me “You don’t need to handle it. I am in control. I have given doctors the ability to help you. This is My provision right now.

When I am weak, He is strong. His strength is made perfect in my weakness. He doesn’t call us to pull up our bootstraps and work harder for Him, He knows our weaknesses. He just wants us to look to Him and be led by Him. He calls us to obedience, no matter what the cost. Even if that means the decline of health. Even if that means pain. He died for us. Why should we not suffer for Him? In our situation, my “suffering” pales in comparison to what the three little ones in our care have experienced. They are worth it.

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Jami Kaeb

Jami Kaeb is wife to Clint and together they have six children (four of whom were adopted). After having her eyes opened to the overwhelming needs of those in the foster care system, she began a journey that ultimately led her to found The Forgotten Initiative (TFI). TFI equips and supports “Forgotten Advocates” to bridge the gap between Agencies and the Church, bringing joy and purpose to the foster care community. Learn more at www.theforgotteninitiative.org. Jami loves coffee. A lot. And connecting with others. When the two are mixed, she is especially happy! You can get to know her better through her blog at www.lifewithapersonalgod.org.

{Hitting Repeat} The Gift

I came across this picture today. I’m so thankful that Wes captured one of the sweetest and hardest moments I have ever experienced.

I am forever grateful to Max’s birthmom for giving us the priceless gift of a 7 lb. 11 oz. baby boy.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of her.

We love her dearly.

We pray for her daily.

Will you do me a favor? Please make it a point this week {or as long as you feel led to} to pray for birthmoms and their families. There are moms at this very moment who have chosen adoption as the best option for their baby.

Here are a few ideas to pray for.

* peace about their decision

* healing – physically and emotionally

* a loving support system surrounding them

* a tangible feeling of God’s love for them

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Abby Akers

Abby has been married to her college sweetheart, Wes, since 2003. After 5 years of infertility, they began the journey of domestic adoption. Blessed with a (more than they had planned) open adoption experience, they were able to witness the birth of their first child, Max, in the summer of 2010. Wes and Abby are trusting God as he leads them in their relationship with Max’s birth family. You can follow their story, including their second adoption journey at Akers of Love.

{Hitting Repeat} The Muddle in the Middle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Not his real name. Although it is catchy.

 ________________________________________

Kristi Thompson

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

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