Monthly Archives: May 2011

Big Talks

I’ve been wondering when it would happen. I think it is starting now. I think I have seen the very tippy top of the iceberg of Therese’s grieving.

Last night my sweet Therese poured forth story after story about her life in Yako. These were not pleasant stories. These are the rip your heart out, no child should have witnessed, or seen stories like this. Three hours worth of stories, and I got the impression there are so many more.

Therese told me that she is tired of feeling sad all the time (you would never know she feels sad at all from how she behaves). She knows that here, in America, we “talk talk talk and cry” when we are sad, but not in Yako. She said she wants to cry, but she “doesn’t can’t” (I love that phrase of hers!).

I reassured her that she will cry when she is ready. I told her that God gave us a way to get the sad out of our hearts, namely crying, and retelling our story. I told her that God will do amazingly wonderful things with those sad stories of hers.

Therese told me it is better to adopt a baby, because babies do not have so many sad stories as a girl who is ten. I told her that I wanted a 10-year-old girl, and I am here to listen to her stories. I find her stories, even the sad ones, to be precious. I treasure her stories, and I will help her remember the ones she wants to remember and to use the difficult ones for good. I want my 10-year-old girl, hard stories included, because she would not be Therese without those hard stories.

More importantly, I know a Savior who specializes in hard stories, and He redeems them all if you let Him. Therese knows Him too, and many of her stories include God saving her from harm or revealing something to her that helped her save some one else.

I admit I woke up this morning feeling a little sick and incredibly daunted by the task of raising this sweet girl with too many hard stories. Lord, can I do this? His answer to me was a gentle, “No, you can’t, but I CAN. Come to me and I will pour out wisdom straight from my heart.”

Okay, Lord, we will do this together. You lead. I will follow.

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Erika Solgos

Erika has been married to Casey for 11 crazy beautiful years. Erika is mom to two 10 year olds and two 6 year olds who aren’t twins! Therese (10), newly adopted from Burkina Faso, is awaiting heart surgery. Evelea (10) willingly gave up her position as oldest child so we could add Therese to our family. Sitota (6) was adopted from Ethiopia and brings a lot of fun to the family. Carter (6) has had six heart surgeries and gave us the courage to adopt a child with a heart defect. They are astounded that as our family doubled in size, our love quadrupled. You can learn more about their family on their blog.

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Don’t forget to go back and read this post to enter our giveaway from The Invision Project

What if…

What if by some cruel twist of fate I woke up one morning to find that the tables were turned, and my beautiful and perfect Lily were lying in an orphanage, somewhere in Eastern Europe?

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What if she had lived out the past 16 months of her life with no mommy and daddy to love her, no brothers and sisters to dote on her every day?

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What if instead, she spent most of her waking hours in a crib, staring at the slats of the bars and playing with only her fingers or feet for comfort? What if she cried herself to sleep at night, because there was nobody who cared or had the time to attend to her when she woke up scared or lonely or sad?

What if she didn’t eat when she was hungry, go to sleep with a full belly, or have her basic needs met with loving care?

What if my Lily stayed in that orphanage for many years, never leaving it to see the world around her? What if the only connection she had to the outside world was an occasional trip to the playground on the orphanage grounds…but for the most part she was locked away, an outcast of society?

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What if she never received the help she needed through therapy, never had the opportunity to develop skills, to grow, to learn.

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What if she never got the medical attention she needed when she was first born, had attention given to that tiny hole in her heart that doctors watched so carefully. What if she survived simply because she existed, devoid of any quality of life?

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What if she were never celebrated for the treasure that she is, never nurtured or praised or adored? What if there were no parties or gifts or songs to commemorate that beautiful day she made her entrance into the world, nothing that distinguished that day from any other day of her secluded and monotonous life?

What if, after being shut away in that orphanage for five years, she woke one morning to find herself being whisked away from the only home she’d ever known- however stark or isolated- to the horror that is the Institution? What if, because of the inability of any 5 year old, let alone one with cognitive delays, she could not comprehend what had happened to her? What if there were no one to explain to her why her head was being shaved, her tiny arms tied to a crib, or where her friends had gone, and why no one was coming back for her to save her from the nightmare that was now her life?

What if that were my Lily’s fate?

What would I do?

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In the words of a dear friend

I would beg, borrow, and obsess myself to make sure she knew love and felt valued and wanted. If Lily were alone on the other side of the ocean, I would find her and rescue her no matter what the cost or how much dignity needed to be compromised.

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Albina is my Lily.

She’s no more deserving of the fate that awaits her than my child.

Or yours.

She is a beautiful and precious treasure, waiting for someone to recognize her value.

Albina is an orphan in Eastern Europe. Because she was born with Down syndrome, she is considered a burden to her society, an outcast to be hidden away.

An anonymous family has committed to matching dollar-for-dollar donations for her up to $5,000. So far, through the generosity of so many like-minded people, she now has $5,332.50 in her grant fund on Reece’s Rainbow; with the matching funds, her grant fund for her adoption is over $10,000.

I have a feeling her sweet little face is enough. But, due to the nature of international adoptions, it’s going to take a pile of money for someone to rescue her. And,

Giveaway From The Invision Project: So This is What Happens When Dreams Come True

About 9 months ago, I returned home from a trip to Mexico that confirmed my desire to get cameras into the hands of orphans. Some of the girls at the Door of Faith Orphanage in La Mision had borrowed my SLR, and I could not get over the images they captured.

So not long after, I started brainstorming an idea I believe the Lord planted in my heart

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.

Living Out James 1:27 From My Dining Room

I was simply searching for an African doll. That’s all. I emailed a missionary who our church supports, knowing she works with village women who do crafts. Maybe one of them could make a doll. The missionary told me she no longer worked with those women but gave me an email to get in touch with one, Mary Magdalene.

All I did was send her a simple email asking if she or one of the women she works with could make a doll.

But, her response left me stunned. She told me that only 4 days earlier–she gave me even the exact time of day–she had cried out to the Lord asking him to bring someone to buy her crafts.

She had been widowed twice, both husbands had been killed in war, leaving her with 9 children to raise on her own. But, what we would see as a desperate situation did not stop her from bringing 7 orphaned children into her home. One of the children she now cares for was abandoned at the age of 6 because it was discovered that she is HIV+, which she contracted from her parents, the ones who abandoned her. Mary is a strong and faithful woman who trained women in her village to make beads and helped them learn how to sell them in the marketplace. They pool the money made and split it between them so that all are provided for.

But, here she was, crying out for provision, desperate to see God at work. 4 days later, she received my email. I encouraged her to send me what she had–I will find people to buy it, I told her. Just send it, I said. And, she did. She sent jewelry and more jewelry and handmade animals and more jewelry…and two little dolls. The dolls that started it all.

So, here I am with a dining room full of what some may see as paper beads and small animals but what I see as precious jewels and treasures, created by women sitting together in community, caring for the least of these, in faith that He will provide.

Join me in being part of God’s promise to them.

Email me or contact me via Facebook where pictures will be posted for purchase. Or, visit the dedicated page I just created here on We Are Grafted In with pictures and prices for some of the pieces as well.

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Kelly Raudenbush

Forever changed by our experience of being adopted and adopting, Kelly is a stay-at-home mom/manager to 4 children–the youngest of whom is from Baoji, Shaanxi, China–who is a professional juggler, juggling her calling as wife and mother with a small online store (Jiayin Designs), editing, administrating this site, and, now, joining the efforts with

Measuring

Measuring.
We do it all the time.
I could go on a tear about how we as Americans do it, with everything, but that might be a whole ‘nother post…and the point is that we do it consciously or unconsciously…ALL THE TIME.

But, let’s stay focused: as parents we measure…what? Everything, right? Right!
And no matter how you became a parent, you still measure everything…right?
Hmmm. Think maybe not? Consider.

If you are having a baby (meaning you are pregnant and are gonna literally give birth to a child), from the very moment you find out you are pregnant, there you are: measuring.

You count the days since your last period; you measure how many weeks along you are;

Love is…

This post is a reminder to myself. Because I’m not loving anyone well right now.

And, I am not so lovable or fun to be around.

You see, I am struggling greatly with how to really love.

Love that is absent of jealousy.

Like when I hear how smooth another person’s bonding/attachment is going with their newly adopted child.

Yea, I am jealous like that.

And, yet ,that isn’t love!

It isn’t loving my family or loving the way God brought our family together.

So, instead of seeing the growth and the lessons our Lord is teaching me through hard times,

I get jealous,

and then I start complaining,

about how it was SOOOO much harder for us than them,

and I blind myself to the goodness of my Savior.

I want a love that is does not take into account a wrong suffered.

Where I can walk through a time when I was hurt, deeply, by someone who said they loved me

and forgive them,

and hug them when I see them,

pray for them when they need prayer,

or hurt when they hurt.

Without holding it over their head how much I was hurt,

because that’s not forgiveness, nor is it love.

Am I the only one who feels like this sometimes?

When I should be loving and kind with my child who has been oh.so.difficult

ALL.DAY.LONG.

And I am not.

And I hurt them with my words out of my frustration.

And I ask for their forgiveness, because I was the one who was unkind.

Why is this so hard?

To love others well. To love them like Christ calls us to?

I want to be more than I am now.

Not in a wordly sense like having more money, greater status, or more things to have around my home.

I want to be filled and overflowing with love,

for my family, my friends,

and the stranger I meet in the store.

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love”

Hannah’s Hair

One thing I prepared myself for when we started the adoption process was the possibility of a transracial family. Remember, we did not request a race or a gender, so we weren”t really sure what we would end up with. One of the thoughts that scared me was the possibility of having to do black-girl hair. Of course deep down inside, I was assuming we would have all boys (and we would shave their heads).

I have read enough about adoption to make sure that I respect Hannah and Olivia”s culture (by that I don”t mean their roots, like whatever country their ancestry is from, but I mean the importance of respecting that their skin and hair are different than mine and have different needs), I watched Chris Rock”s Good Hair, I read I”m Chocolate, You”re Vanilla: Raising Healthy Black and Biracial Children in a Race-Conscious World (which I *highly* recommend to anyone interested in adopting a black or biracial child, or is related to one, or is a teacher, or social worker, or just someone who likes a good read), so I am well aware of the importance of doing Hannah and Olivia”s hair. Out of respect for them, I do their hair (as well as I am able, again, I am still learning) far more than I do my own. Sometimes I get . . . impatient. Annoyed and frustrated are not the words I want to use, so it”s more like an impatient feeling, kind of like, “Dang, I don”t even have time to do my hair, much less my 2 year old”s hair!” But, I make time because I don”t want to embarrass my girls when they look back at their pictures. Sure, embarrassment is not the worst thing in the world, but I want them to look back and see that I made the time and effort to help them embrace who they are.

I have read that it”s typical in black communities that hair is a mother-daughter event–the washing, combing, and styling. That”s what I want for my girls too. I want them to have the memories of their mom spending time on their hair, just like their classmates. My prayer for my girls is that they understand they were created by God and put in our family. I”m sure at some point Hannah and Olivia will wish they had straight hair. I myself have wished for curly hair, and I certainly wish I didn”t have to wash my hair every day. But, I want to invest enough respect into who they are that they can embrace the family that we are.

Every morning, during devotions, I ask my girls, “Who loves you?” and Hannah is finally saying “Jesus loves Hannah” and then I say “Hannah, who has a plan for your life?” and Hannah says “God.”

God put Hannah and Olivia into our family; they are part of His plan for our lives. That”s why I am doing the best I can to fully embrace who my children are.

The main way I get hairstyles (which I will repeat, I am still learning here) is shopping. I spend my time grocery shopping and hairstyle shopping. I study styles that I think I can repeat and then I try it at home. Of course, Hannah”s hair is uniquely her own so there are lots of styles I can”t remake (at least by myself). Also, her hair is getting thicker as she is growing up and the only way to get thicker hair is for more hair to start growing. We are at a stage right now where her hairline is starting to fill in and get thicker so I am having to wrestle with short baby hairs around her entire head. You can imagine that if I don”t pull those back or straighten them, she kind of ends up looking like a mess. Add that to a naptime and a little 2-year-old who doesn”t respect her own hair and rubs it on the couch, or messes it up doing summersaults, or pulls out the round brush and tries to comb it herself, or sneaks a bristle brush to bed with her and ends up with a lion”s mane. So, her hair is not perfect all the time.

But trust me, if you saw her by herself somewhere, you wouldn”t know she was being raised by a crazy white lady.

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Abby Brandenberger

Abby is a stay-at-home mom, married to her college sweetheart Matt. Matt is an elementary school teacher, a coach, driver”s ed instructor, tutor, and sports fanatic. Abby just tries to keep up with him and the two little ones they adopted domestically (15 months apart). They are trying to figure out when to start the adoption process again. Keep up with the nonsense at Our Little Hope.

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We”re half way through May! Don”t forget the 30+ businesses supporting adoption, adoptive families, and the work of The Sparrow Fund by giving 10% of their total sales this month. Clicking on the button below to see them all, and start shopping if you haven”t already!

TSF

Musings of an Adoptive Dad – Part 4

Concluding this series today, I thought I’d post about why we’d do adoption again, particularly international adoption, if God let us. Of course, He just might. But, that’s really up to Him and a discussion to be had later.

First comes the question about money. Money wasn’t an issue when we adopted our little peanut. For our part, I’ll say that we had a few people contribute to the cause, but we also worked really hard on saving for it. It was an expensive process, well over $20,000. That’s a lot of dough. But, God provided. My lovely wife worked some extra, we cut back some, and it came together. Amen. We’re also seeing some of that come back now through the adoption tax credit. Amen to that too. I know others who have struggled significantly. I don’t want to deny that or denigrate them. I will tell you that God provides. Faithful is He who calls you, and He will bring it to pass (1 Thessalonians 5.24). We held tightly to that Truth for so many things through this process.

Second, we’d do it again because through adoption, we changed the world. I don’t mean that in some triumphal, conquering, slam-dunk sort of way. We’re way more humbled by the process than I imagined. But, I also know with great confidence that there’s a little girl sitting in the next room who’s eating breakfast with her brother that this same morning would’ve woken up next to another kid, been untied from her crib, fed porridge because she couldn’t have fed herself, and played the day away with 20 others in a room supervised by 2 nannies. Just now, she walked in having gone to the potty and letting me know that she pulled her big girl undies up “all by myshelf.” It’s not that we changed the entire world. But, we changed it for her and for us and for our sons, our extended family, our church family, our neighbors, and, Lord willing, our grandkids and generations of Hendersons to come.

Third, the need isn’t going away. According to my cool friend, Jon Singletary, there are 120,000 adoptable kids in the U.S. How about this one: 3,000,000 kids in the world ready to adopt. The need isn’t going away. We chose China because it seems about 1,000,000 of those are in China.

Lastly, our family is better because of it. I know some of you walked through the adoption with us, and you saw the sanctifying process that we went through and, hopefully, are seeing its fruit in our lives. I know I can. Perspective. Patience (?). Trust. Compassion. Gospel. Selflessness (?). Love.

I don’t know if God will let us adopt again. I don’t know if He’ll let you adopt. But, it’s amazing.

But that’s just me thinking thoughts…

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Trent Henderson

Trent is the husband of the amazing Ginny and father to the thoughtful Jack, adventurous Sam, and hilarious Ruthie Mei. He also serves as pastor to the saints of Heritage Park Baptist Church near NASA in Houston. He tries to say something worthwhile in his preaching and at his blog. Feel free to go check it out.