Monthly Archives: April 2011

An Open Adoption? (Part 2)

Read Part 1 here.

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The phrase, “Adoption begins in pain” kept echoing in my mind and heart. Yes, but how does it end? What is the best way to bring healing? Open? Closed? Semi-open? And, if it’s open, what does it look like???

Enter bloggers! Grace in My Heart informed me that Small Treasures had experienced both open and closed adoptions and could talk about both perspectives! After reading her story I was amazed at her experience and stunned by how positive it was. I emailed Kristen, and she wrote back right away. Her email was like an IV of Peace. It flooded my system and instantly relaxed my fears. She explained that having experienced both, she actually preferred open, and NEVER would have guessed that she would feel that way! She told me how she loves knowing where her daughter gets this or that trait and that she’ll be able to share that with her daughter. She also informed me that birthmoms need to move on with their life and that contact may not continue in such a regular manner.

Another blogger gave me her phone number and we talked for almost an hour. She said a few things that really struck me, the most profound was, “There is a God-given relationship between a birth-mom and baby, and I respect that relationship.” True. Another statement to get tossed around in my heart and mind! She also spoke of the joy of developing a relationship with the birthmom during her pregnancy. In her case, they talked on the phone everyday. This, she pointed out, would greatly help my fear that the adoption would not work out, because you get a direct feel for how she is feeling about the situation. Is she wavering? Dead-set? Does she have the support of friends and family?

She also gave advice that put my husband’s fears at bay. Right now, the birthmom is totally in the driver’s seat. She’s calling the shots and saying what she wants this to look like. But, after the adoption is final, we’re in the driver’s seat. And, if the relationship was no longer healthy, we could cut off contact. Now I would never ever ever promise to do one thing (contact) while planning on doing another. But, as the Daddy wanting to protect his family and baby, it brought my husband (and me) peace knowing that we COULD take action if it was absolutely necessary. Furthermore, the birthmother realizes this, too, and as a result, respects the relationship.

***Please read that last paragraph in the spirit it is meant. Again- I would NEVER promise something without intending to do it. And anyone planning on such action would be dead wrong and guilty of moral sin, in my opinion.***

I also spoke with a friend who was adopted about her experience. Her adoption was closed, and she has no knowledge of her birthmother. She doesn’t know her medical history, what her birth parents look like, or the reasons for the adoption, and she has hurt as a result. She speculated that openness would have helped heal these wounds.

And what of Scripture? One of the special things about adoption is that WE have been adopted. Adopted children have a very real experience of what that means. As I discovered in Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches by Russell Moore, adoption is identity. It tells us who we are in the Lord.

Confusion is Reigning in Our Home

wowzers.

I finally got my act together enough last week to invite some new friends of friends of friends over to our house for dinner.

Friends that have lived in China for 13 years
that are here for a year on sabbatical
and are
of course
fluent
in Mandarin.

It was such a great evening!
I made tacos
because really,
what’s more Chinese than ~ ahem ~ tacos.
And once the boys got over their initial shock of perfect mandarin flowing out of the mouth of a very white American man they opened up
big time.

Had I even known how downright confused and lost my precious boys were I would have had them over the day after we returned home.
Jet lag and all.

We found out so much that night.
Some good.
Some not so good.
Some downright awful.
Things that, as their mother, I am still processing.

For starters Jacob and Joey had no stinkin idea that they were here to stay.
No.
Idea.
The fact that for nearly 3 months they have woken up day after day after day after day and wondered if today is the day that
they
will
be
sent
back
is nearly too much to bear.

You could have sucked the life right out of me when those words came out of their mouth and
I’m pretty sure a piece of my heart shattered at that moment.
Sweet, sweet boys.

They are going to be your parents and love you and take care of you forever they were told.
“Impossible.” Jacob answered.

Oh my heart.

He wanted to know if we were “happy with them.”
As if we were still trying them on for size and about to activate some kind of return policy.

Sweet boy.
Sweet innocent boy.
If only you knew the depth of the love that we have for you.

At one point, he began to catch a glimpse of that secure future and somewhat understand and the look on his face when it dawned on him that he really does get to stay was a moment I shall not soon forget.
He.
Lit.
Up.

We had some funny moments mixed in with some things that were very hard to hear.
Funny things like, when they were told about our upcoming move, they said that we had too much stuff, and there was no way it was going to fit in our new house.
Would the toys come with us?
The swimming pool?
The clothes?
The couch?
The window blinds?

Yes.
No.
Yes.
Yes.
No.

When we found out that Joey has been having nightmares, we told him that he could come into our room and wake us up or call for us, and we would come comfort him.
He liked that idea.
And, for curiosity’s sake, I asked our friend to ask him what he did in China when he had nightmares.
Joey’s response was that one time he got up to go tell his foster parents but one of the other boys told him not to go in there because
they
might
be
making
a
baby.

Yeah.
Older child adoption…never a dull moment…or an awkward one for that matter…

So, the apparent confusion and silent chaos that they were living is ever so slowly being replaced by truth.
Replaced.
By.
Love.
…and from that…there’s no going back.

“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace….”1 Corinthians 14:33

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Sonia M.

Sonia and her husband John are an Air Force family with 6 boys ages 14, 13, 8, 8, 7, & 7. She stays at home part time and spends the other part of her time shopping at Stuff-Mart buying large quantities of food to feed said boys. Sonia’s hobbies include cooking, cooking, cooking more, cleaning, cooking, and cleaning bathrooms. They just returned from China with their two newest sons and are navigating their way through life attempting to glorify God in all that they do.

But Will He Conquer My Death?

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3 (NIV)

It was Easter, but I didn’t want to celebrate. My head knew the truth of new life, but my heart felt like I was living in a valley of death.

Every Easter we had sung songs about Jesus conquering death and rejoiced at His resurrection. Normally it was a glorious celebration, but not that year.

An outsider might have scoffed. I wasn’t dealing with real death, thankfully. Instead, an avalanche of daily deaths was burying me. My heart was breaking over the end of a ministry at church I loved.

We thanked God for our adopted daughters, but their severe needs forever ended my family the way it was. And because of those needs, I was having to close doors of opportunity that brought me great joy. One “death” after another faced me.

As I stood that Easter Sunday, arms raised in pleading more than praise, with tears streaming down my face, I begged God, “I know You raised Jesus from the dead. But will You conquer my death? Will You redeem what feels like death here and now?”

The power of my emotions poured out in waves of grief.

Before then, I had not admitted to myself that what I faced felt like death. But there it was. Putting a name to it helped. The song ended, I dried my tears, and the service continued. No lightning bolt flashed, but my heart felt a little lighter.

In the coming weeks I allowed myself to feel the grief of loss. When sadness swept over my heart, I returned to my same questions: God, I know You can, but will You conquer my death?

I prayed for new life to come into my areas of “death.”

Interestingly, a month later I went to a conference where God opened floodgates of inspiration and ideas. I left more excited about the future than I’d been in years. One day that summer, I realized God had eased my heart over the loss of the ministry I had loved.

In late summer, God handed me an incredible gift of another ministry job that I could manage in my crazy schedule. In early fall we found a therapist who could help our family with one of our daughters. Within months of my pleading prayer, it became obvious God was resurrecting what seemed dead.

While my circumstances weren’t changed in every situation, my heart was comforted. My hope was resurrected.

Jesus showed me He is the Conqueror of all death: here in this world and forever. God answered my question and prayer with a resounding “Yes!” Yes, He can and will conquer my death. I don’t have to wait for eternal life to experience my own resurrection of the heart. And neither do you.

Dear Lord, I praise You today for Your power over all death

Play-doh Revelations

Today, Cooper was playing play-doh at the kitchen table while I was washing dishes. He was chatting away to me as he did. He told me he was going to make a face with two eyes, a nose, and a mouth.

“I make him sad face.”

Something in me knew exactly where this was going, so I dried my hands and sat down at the table.

“Why is he sad?” I asked.

“He sad ‘cuz mama went to grocery store and he not find her. His mama all lost.”

Ok, think fast. Pray quick. What to say?

“Oh, and that makes him feel sad?”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah, that is sad.”

He continued to play play-doh and I continued to say a few things….honestly, I can’t even remember what now because I was on auto-pilot. In the end, the shape of the plate he was using to make the face sort of “forced” the face into a smile. I didn’t notice this and neither did he till it was done.

“Oh, he happy face.”

“Oh, yeah. He does have a happy face. Why do you think he is happy?”

“He happy ‘cuz his mama find him.”

This is the face of 4 year old grief….and we’re starting to see it and hear it now more and more. It’s a good sign (he trusts us) and, yet, it’s so hard to watch.

It doesn’t wait for you to have “all the right answers”. It humbles you pretty quick.

To be totally honest, I felt like I blew it today (although, while I can’t really remember what I said, I do remember that he never elaborated much on his story no matter what questions I asked). I’m not beating myself up though, because I know this is the tip of a deep, huge iceburg, and I’ll have many more opportunities to respond “better”. But, I did sympathize, let him talk, and tried not to put words in his mouth. I figure that’s a good start.

We’re all new to this- all of us- and I’m sure we’ll figure out our way.

Any advice on how to handle stuff like this when it comes up from those of you who have been there, done that?

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Jenna Hardy

Jenna is a teacher, turned stay-at-home mom, turned Children’s Ministry Director who is passionate about children. After hearing God’s call to care for orphans 4 years ago, she has become increasingly passionate about adoption and orphan care. She and her high school sweetheart, Scot, have been married for 13 years and recently brought home their son Cooper who is 3 years old and seriously adorable (go see for yourself!). They are excited to see what God will do in the next chapter of the story He is writing with their family. Jenna and Scot feel strongly about sharing their story so that they might be of encouragement to others in various stages of the adoption process. You can follow along with them on their trip and afterwards at Our Many Colored Days.

An Open Adoption? (Part 1)

So here we are…moving towards a baby and an open adoption. We’re going to be PARENTS!!! The reality has not sunk in at all! There are so many unknowns in adoption. Should we start buying things? How can we not? How can we? But, there are even more questions about what an open adoption is and what it looks like. The Lord has opened my heart beyond belief in this, and I want to share the process with you here.

As I freaked out prayed about the reality of an open adoption, I did what any other rational woman would do. I googled it. (Turns out the birth mother did, too!) As I browsed through blogs and websites, I found four words that struck me to my core: “Adoption begins in pain.”

“Adoption begins in pain.”

“Adoption begins in pain.” I kept turning the words over and over in my mind. I thought about them while I showered, cooked, cleaned, and folded laundry. I kept mulling them over pondering their truth, significance and implications. Then as I was drying my hair one morning, I felt God calling me to my old faithful journal.

I wiped the dust off and cracked my old friend open only to find the last words I had written six months ago. “Your fears are a passport to a new state, to a higher level, to a greater joy” (from A Call to Joy – Living in the Presence of God by Matthew Kelly).

The Road to Elbasan

Originally posted on June 2, 2010 as they waited to travel to adopt their son…

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We had hoped to be in the air today on our way to Albania, but we are currently waiting on some paperwork to go through here in the US. God knew we needed this extra time though. We have been so busy in May that had we left today, we would have spent much of our time in Albania worried about what we didn

How Are You?

January 27th was a Thursday. After saying goodbye to friends, and praying with mountains of people, we boarded a plane. It was to be a long trip, possibly 2 months, but we would return with our adopted daughter. There was a chance we would have to return without her. There was a chance we would have to make two trips. That didn’t matter. We were sure that God would provide us a way to come home with her. It was his calling for the Polsgrove family.

It didn’t work out that way. Due to some issues beyond our control, we’re still waiting. When we came home, we thought we would only be home for 3 or 4 weeks before we returned. It’s been over that now. And, even though we hear rumors, there’s no way for us to know when we will be going back to get her.

People have been great. They’ve been encouraging and loving and supportive through every step. Joys and pains have all been shared with our friends and family. The one question we seem to get all the time is “How are you”? That’s a hard question to answer. The most common response is “we’re okay,” which is actually probably a lie. I guess the answer is “most of the time we’re great, but other times it feels like being kicked in the chest repeatedly.”

I’ve gone through a wide range of emotions since we got home. Sad to leave her. Glad to be in a familiar place. Confused why we’re delayed. Thankful for what we have.

The truth is, we stepped out in faith asking God to do something that was highly improbable if not impossible. He didn’t do what we thought he would. In fact, on the surface it seems he didn’t do anything. I thought that would rock my faith. I even thought it might make me doubt if he was even real. That hasn’t happened. This has really opened up the most honest conversations I’ve had with God in my entire life, and I’ve been more assured of his presence because of it.

I am absolutely confused. I am fine one second, impatient the next. There are even times of searing anger towards Him. I’ve been so angry that I wondered if other Christians’ opinions of me would change if they knew about it. All these things have resulted in me having honest conversations with God. I’ve been able to celebrate when He moves in other areas of my life. And, man, he has moved in other areas of my life.

The last time I posted, I was excited about going to get the baby girl. I also said that any semblance of control is an illusion. I had no idea how true that statement was. Although it’s been painful, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I know how much I screw up things when I start to take the reigns. God will bring her home to be with us; I have no doubt. With each conversation and question and prayer, God is asking me to lean on him more, rely on his grace, breathe deep while He does the work.

This is a hard thing, but if I’m going to say “Jesus is the most important thing in my life,” I need to mean it. If it’s not put to the test once in a while, I can’t really mean it. So, I’ll wait. It’s not always easy, but I have a feeling it’s going to be worth it.

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Russ Polsgrove

Russ and Anna have been married for 5 years. Even as friends, before dating or marriage, they shared with one another that they each wanted to adopt. After marrying in May 2005, talk of adoption slowly entered its way into their conversations. Russ, working as a youth pastor, and Anna, working as a teacher and at a girl’s group home, saw the need more than ever for children to have loving, safe homes. After coming to this realization, they chose to begin the adoption process to adopt a little girl from Ethiopia who they have named Lucy. You can follow their journey and offer your support as they answer God’s call on their lives on their personal blog.