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
During a fairly normal conversation with a friend, I brought up that I was advocating for a child on my blog. A child that grabbed my heart and that we were waiting for God to speak to us about him.
Just recently, we finalized the adoption of our son, Joshua, from the foster care system. On adoption day, I wrote the following letter for him to read as he grows up:
I have yet to see a photograph of a baby dressed in split pants, with a sign propped next to her boldly announcing the three Chinese characters that form her name. I have yet to share in the joy of referrals with others in our DTC group. I have yet to see a light at the end of our tunnel. Yet, I still believe.
I believe because I have faith.
Whether you are Christian or not, it takes Great Faith to believe that China continues to move along with its international adoption program, albeit at a snail’s pace. It takes Great Faith to cling to the thought of one day meeting a child who will become your daughter or son. It takes Great Faith to trust in God’s will and timing.
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
We, I, being human, often blur the lines between faith and personal rights.
China doesn’t owe me anything. God doesn’t owe me anything. In fact, if the truth were told, I owe everything to God and to the country of China for allowing me to parent the one beautiful, vivacious daughter who currently fills my life with laughter and our little corner of the world with mischief. (Most recently, she upended an entire bucket of water onto poor Posies head. Sigh.)
Yet, I’m struggling with anger right now as well as a tremendous sense of impatience. It shames me to admit that because I don’t have a right to these emotions. God does not owe me anything, not even parenthood, whether through birth or adoption. I am not entitled to adopt from China; I am privileged to apply. And, a child born halfway around the world does not deserve to experience abandonment just so that I can mother her.
It’s difficult for others outside of the adoption world to truly understand how it feels to wait during the adoption process. It’s similar to being two months pregnant, only that single moment in time lasts for years and years. You still haven’t quite reached “the safe period,” so you hesitate about sharing the news, since you don’t know what the future holds. It’s too early to set up the nursery, yet you need to plan for it, so you dream and wait. You aren’t visibly pregnant, yet your emotions often take you on a roller coaster ride, so you struggle to live life as you did before. Things get put on hold because you make statements like, “well, we won’t be able to do that because the baby might be here by then.” And, because it’s an adoption, instead of a pregnancy, your due date constantly pushes back further and further and further.
It’s difficult to wait.
This past weekend the Husband and I worked for hours in our garden: pruning, weeding, even widening one of our flower beds. I spent quite some time puttering with my roses. We have several rose bushes, but the ones most people notice are the two largest. The first sits in the front yard, along the walkway leading to our front door. It blooms with gorgeous, fragrant red roses. The bush in our backyard next to the herb garden blooms with smaller, pale peach and less fragrant roses. While I worked with these two plants, I remembered something my friend Lizard once called to my attention.
If you look closely, you’ll see there exist less obvious differences between our two rose bushes. And, if you grab hold of a stem from each plant, you will learn of their differences painfully.
Our red rose bush sports the most wicked thorns I’ve ever personally handled. Our peach rose bush? It hardly contains any thorns at all. I can cut this bush back without even bothering to wear gardening gloves. Lizard, a former florist, once told me that you can predict how large the blooms will be by looking at the thorns . . . the larger the thorns, the larger the roses.
The larger the thorns, the larger the roses.
The larger the bumps in the road, the larger the blessings.
I learned this lesson already with the Tongginator. I truly did. Now, perhaps my thorns, at least this time around, aren’t the actual adoption process and wait, as I initially believed. Perhaps, this time, the thorns are in my soul. Perhaps God is using this long wait (25 months today) to teach me the true meaning of faith: hope without entitlement and patience without anger.
What are you waiting for? And, more importantly, what are you learning during your season of waiting?
Although Tonggu Momma wrote this post over 2 years ago, she continues to learn God-sized lessons during her season of waiting. She and her family now have been officially waiting to adopt from China for 4 years, 3 months, 5 days, and 6 hours. Not that she’s counting or anything. (And see??? She
We were accepted into our agency’s Ethiopia adoption program in December 2008. Soon after we received our acceptance, we filled out a supplemental application to be accepted into their waiting child program for Ethiopia. There are two different types of adoption in respect to international adoption. Healthy children are children who are under 5 years old and free from any medical or developmental conditions. Waiting Children are children who are over the age of 5, have special medical or developmental needs, or are part of a sibling group where one or more of the children match the criteria for waiting children. Waiting children are considered harder to place and less adoptable. Sometimes the only special need they have is their age. Many children over 5 are on waiting child lists and have no other medical or developmental special needs other than the fact that they are over five. And, it is fair to state here, sometimes children who are adopted as healthy children in fact have medical conditions that have gone undiagnosed or undetected. It is important to remember that cultural and medical standards are very different in developing countries. Do your research, and trust God.
We had been approved through the healthy child Ethiopia adoption process, so the next step was to also gain approval to adopt a child from the waiting child list. Why did we want approval to adopt from the waiting child list, knowing that these children are harder to place and come with special needs (some lifelong)? When we began talking about adoption, we felt the Lord placing on our hearts to be open to any child that He has for us. It was through many conversations, prayer, and reading God’s word that we knew God was calling us to more in our adoption. The Lord was gentle in leading us to this revelation, and He was sure to take us to a place where we were at peace with possibly having an adult child to raise. We knew that the Lord was at work when we found ourselves not fearful about bringing a child with special needs into our home, even if that meant they would be with us at home forever.
I can remember how the Lord walked me through the realization that we would be giving some pretty big things up in order to fold children with special needs into our family, things like freedom through retirement, freedom from financially supporting children, freedom to rest in retirement, travel…all the things that are so important to our society. It seems that as Americans, the pinnacle of our life is to make sure that we have set ourselves up for retirement. And, once we have arrived there, we have made it. Then, we have total freedom to do as we choose until we leave this earth. We knew that we would be giving all that up, until we realized that the only freedom that truly exists is to be living in God’s will for the rest of our lives. And, the bottom line for us was that we chose to serve Him. And, He was clearly calling us to serve Him through loving His orphans, specifically disabled orphans.
Please don’t think that this decision was made lightly. We had many conversations. We counted the cost. And, in the end, the cost was insignificant. Serving God, loving His orphans, living in His will, finding peace and joy in His commands
When I was 21 years old, I called my mom and dad from college with some reservation, nervousness, and hesitation. Finally, I announced I would be searching for my birthmother.
Me: What did Daddy say?
Ping: Ping no throw books.
Me: Right, and what did Ping do?
Ping: Yes throw book.
Me: Did Ping listen to Daddy?
Me: Is Daddy happy or sad that you did not listen.
Ping: Daddy no happy.
Me: So will Ping listen to Daddy?
Me: Thank you. Daddy loves you, Ping.
Ping: I no love Daddy.
Me: That is okay. But, I still love you.
Ping: I no love Daddy.
Me: That is okay. But, Daddy still loves Ping.
Ping: I no say I love Daddy today.
Me: Maybe tomorrow?
Ping: Yes. Ping love Daddy tomorrow.
Me: That’s great. I still love you today though and tomorrow.
Ping: No today. Tomorrow, I love Daddy.
Me: Okay, good night, baby. I love you.
I would have to say that once the initial punched-in-the-gut feeling wore off, this made me so very happy! I was thrilled that my daughter said she “no love” me (more on that at the end of the post).
Ah, the joys of parenthood! It is not for the faint or the weak or those who get queasy at the sight of blood. That’s for sure. Having your child tell you they don’t love you is one thing, thinking they believe it is something else.
Prior to leaving for China, I had purchased several new outfits for Kayden and brought them with us. Even though every outfit was a perfect fit, Kayden continued to wear the clothing that she had brought with her from the orphanage. She only had one pair of jeans, and she wore them over and over again, regardless of me suggesting other outfits to her. I have read that this is a pretty typical behavior and figured if wearing the clothing that she had brought with her, that had all of the familiar smells of the orphanage, gave her a sense of comfort or familiarity, than it was not worth an upset to try to get her to wear the clothing we had brought for her. I admit that I always felt a little uncomfortable when we went out, as most of her clothing was a poor fit and the styles were unflattering on her. I wanted to tell everybody that she had some really cute outfits but that she wasn’t wearing them. I wanted everyone to be able to take one look at her and know that she belonged to us and that she was loved and cherished. In spite of all of my desires and Kayden having new clothing readily available to her, she chose to dress as she did when she was an orphan.
Is this behavior because these children want to hold on to the comforts and familiarity of their past, or have they not fully embraced this new role and are not quite comfortable or confident in dressing the part? Maybe in the newness of it all, they do not even realize that there is even a difference.
As I have pondered this, I cannot help but see the parallels to this and our own adoption into the family of God. How often do we exhibit this same behavior? As Christians, we have been adopted as God’s own children. Our father is the King of Kings; and, yet, day after day, we frequently get up and put on the same dirty clothes that we wore before we ever knew Him. To be “in Christ” is to be clothed in His righteousness; and, yet, often when faced with the difficulties of life, it is “easier” to respond apart from that righteousness. How often do we find ourselves “wearing” anger, fear, doubt, wrong thoughts, impatience, or immorality rather than the garments of mercy, trust, faith, humility, gentleness, patience, or purity? Whatever “outfit” we decide to wear is going to be directly affected by the condition of our mind and thoughts.
Forgive me for so often dressing as an orphan when you want others to be able to look at me and know that I belong to You. Help me to put on the garments that You have provided me to wear and to bring glory to Your Name rather than shame. Place in me the desire to daily renew my mind through the reading of your Word, becoming more and more like You.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)
Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
I have been thinking a lot about the Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream
by David Platt, our daily life right now, 147 Million Orphans, Amazima, and so much more. I think I paint a pretty real picture of our lives, and I have no idea how many people read my blog, but it has been requested that since I have a large audience (not sure if that is true), I have an obligation to tell the truth about adoption and make sure people understand what the journey really looks like. I will say this sorta of didn’t sit well with me since I think I do, and it is my blog, so I get to write what I want…
No two adoption journeys are alike. I have had easy, hard, and beyond difficult.
I have been wiping bottoms for the last 12 years (except for a 1-year break). Do I like wiping nasty, just-came-home, stomach-adjusting poop to start my day? NO WAY. But, I am the MOM. So, I do.
Your body adjusts to no sleep. Don’t forget to take care of yourself (I try my best to workout 5 days a week), but the bottom line is we are called to die to self everyday. So, waking in the middle of the night to a screaming tantrum child who is healing from trauma is what I do because I am the MOM.
I don’t like laying down with my kids at night. I have been with them all day–playing, laughing, feeding, healing booboos, kissing foreheads, and tickling silly. So, at bedtime, I just want them to go to bed. I have a million things to do; and, if I lay with one child, then I have to lay with 6. And, by the end of that, I am toast!!! But, I lay down with kids because I have one who needs me to feel secure to go off to bed, and I do this because I am the MOM.
I don’t like putting bandaids on pretend injuries. I am a pull-yourself-up-by-your-boot straps kind of girl. Both of my parents worked as I was growing up, so I learned how to take care of myself and my brother pretty early in life. I don’t like whiners or crybabies. But, when the cries and whines come from a deep place within a child who is really just testing if you love them or not, then I put on a smile, get out the bandaids, and pretend we are preforming a serious operation. I do that because I am the MOM.
More people could do what I do because I am no one special. I am just a MOM being available to the Lord.
The bottom line is that if you think I live a fairytale life or you want a fairytale adoption journey, then you are living in a fantasy world. I am living out the fairytales that are written about in Scripture.
Dying to self
Loving the least of these
Telling people about Jesus
Seeing my brothers/sister who are hurting
Prince Eric & Ariel–Prince Charming & Sleeping Beauty–Cinderella & her Prince–Jasmine & Alladin got nothing on Scott and I!!! You decide which fairytale you want to live out on this earth, because it will determine which life you live for eternity.
Gwen Oatsvall is a wife and mother of 6 and is passionate about orphans and Jesus. She knew that their family had a part in helping, loving, and providing hope to the 147 million orphans of the world, so Gwen and her best friend cofounded