Monthly Archives: July 2011

In Love With Adoption

Had one of those sweet conversations with my boys last night. The kind that make you all warm and fuzzy about being a parent. It was bed time and I was impatiently telling them to turn off the light, stop talking, get under the covers, no more drinks, when Keaton asked me a question. Now, he very well could have been stalling; it worked.

He said, “Mom which one of us kids do you like the best. I know you love us all, but which one do you like?” I very much wanted to say I like you all the exact same now go to sleep so I could run into my own bed and start reading my book or flip on the TV. But, I decided to take a deep breath and explore what he was really asking me. So, I told the boys that I have so many things I like about each of them, but I would share one thing about each of them tonight. And, we began. And, in case I don’t tell them enough I will put them here in cyber-print…

Keaton, one thing I love about you is that you were my first child. You taught me how to love like a Mommy.

Kayden, one thing I love about you is that I see so much of your father in you and it reminds me why I love him so much.

Laney, one thing I love about you is you were my first daughter and have been so fun, girly, and full of life.

And, Macy

Keaton interrupted me and said, “I know what it is you love about Macy, Mom. You love that she is adopted. Right?”

My instinct was to jump on that and say I would love Macy if she wasn’t adopted, and I don’t love her differently than you because she is adopted, and you are no less special to me because you aren’t adopted, and ask them do you love Macy any differently than your other siblings? and so on…But again, I was still and listened.

He went on, “because you are in love with adoption, Mom, and you have been ever since we brought Macy home.” Kayden jumped in and said, “because we are all adopted Mom if we choose to love God.”

And, there it was. They said these things with such admiration and clarity that I was humbled. I hadn’t signed them up for an Adoption 101 class, hadn’t made them read a book about it or write a paper, or even made them sit down and talk to me. God was revealing Himself to my boys through me. Through my love for adoption. I was about as giddy as a mommy can be.

And the truth is I am in love with adoption. Sure, I love what it brought to our family in Macy. Sure I go crazy about orphans and figuring out what I can do to help God set them in families. But more than that, I love what adoption has taught me about God. I don’t know anyone else’s story, just my own, so I can only speak for myself. My adoption story isn’t about becoming a mommy to Macy. That was a miracle and a gift, but my adoption story is that God used this time in my life to draw me to Himself. My adoption story included a loss of one of those gifts. A death. And that makes it all the more life changing for me. Because in Gaby’s death, Macy’s twin sister, not the concept of it, but her literal physical death, those last 20 minutes with her on this earth, I experienced the physical presence of God in a way that I have never before in life. I felt the eternal. And, I am forever changed.

This year, I have moved from being a lifelong Christian who God blessed through normal life. I was all high and mighty about my faith and that it could never be rocked no matter what. When in all reality, He had never let anything come into my life to test that. Now, I am someone who saw and experienced pain and hurt that I believe God could have prevented and stopped but chose not to. And, I am okay. I love Him. I believe in Him. I trust Him. And, I still believe that He couldn’t take or do anything that would change my faith in Him. The ONLY way that I can say those things is through His strength and power.

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Through Christ, God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing that heaven has to offer. Before the creation of the world, he chose us through Christ to be holy and perfect in his presence. Because of his love he had already decided to adopt us through Jesus Christ. He freely chose to do this so that the kindness he had given us in his dear Son would be praised and given glory. Ephesians 1:3-6

Macy, one thing I love about you is that you were my first glimpse into the miracle of adoption.

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Shelley Brown

Shelley has been married to her best friend, Gabe, for 11 years. They have 5 children–3 the old-fashioned way: Keaton (9), Kayden (6), and Laney (4). Their family adopted twin girls, Macy (1) and Gaby in 2010. After fighting for 7 months with Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome, Gaby is now in heaven with Jesus. Shelley is a preschool director of a Christian school part-time and Gabe works for a Christian insurance company providing insurance for Missions trips. Their family enjoys the adventure God has them on and is always looking to follow Him and give Him glory in all things. Check out their family blog.

Hearts Connected

As we walked along the paths to the play yard, in search of our daughter, it was never far from our minds that this was our last day with her. Her groupa was already headed outside, but once we caught up with them and called her name, a moment unfolded that I hope to never forget.

We called her name, she turned, spotted us and her face lit up like the sun itself. Her whole entire countenance changed as she began running toward us. As soon as I saw her face shining, I got down on her level and received her into my embrace. My heart was full.

Our play time together was just like any other day, but we were treasuring every moment. I felt like Mary in Luke 2:19:

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

As we played, it was clear she had learned over the days to anticipate our every move. She would get to the top of the slide and wait, slightly lifting her arms, expecting one of us to come up behind her, slipping our arms under hers, enfold her into our embrace, count to three in Russian and then slide down in glee.

When we would begin to climb the stairs, one of her hands used the rail, the other stuck out in anticipation of the filling with our bigger, stronger one to help her up.

She would sit on the swing sideways and quietly listened as I told her of her new family and sung to her. Sometimes she

A Review and Giveaway: Secret Daughter

I have some friends I’d like you to meet – Kavita, Jasu, Somer, Krishnan, and Asha. I met them here at the beach on vacation; I’ve only known them for a few days. As much as I’d like to speak to them and allow you to do the same, we can’t; they are alive only in a well painted portrait of words. But, they’ve spoken to me.

There aren’t many books in which I find myself drawn in some way to all the characters. Maybe one or two resonate with me, not all. Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s

Meet Lily & Hope

Because of the sensitive nature of our adoptions, I have not been able to share details of what has yet been one of the greatest rescue stories of our lives. A story that is now becoming our pilgrimage.

But, today, justice and mercy kissed, and we saw the strong arm of the fatherless on behalf of our no-longer-fatherless.

Today, in Lily

Part 3 of 3: I Refuse

Through this season of prayer and seeking God through His Word, Scott and I had become convinced that indeed God was leading us to begin the process to adopt a little girl from China with “special needs.” It was all so different than the process we went through to adopt Beniam from Ethiopia. This time, we were looking at photos of waiting children and asking God to show us which one we should adopt. It felt so strange to make this choice and often we felt paralyzed and unsure of where to go from here.

We spent hours looking and reading and praying. Sometimes I wondered if we were taking too long. But now, I can look back and see what God was doing in that time. Every child we looked at I wondered, “Could this be our child?” So with every child, my heart was opened to see them as a son or daughter, not just a picture or a statistic of yet another orphan who I could not help. With each passing week, I became more willing to say “Whatever, Lord. Whatever you want. I just want to love one of these precious children.” And following this season of searching, my heart has broken more and more for children waiting for a family. Their faces are etched in my mind, and I am totally confident that God will use these things that have happened in my heart for further use down the road.

Then one day, I think we were just ready. And, we saw this picture of Mei and Scott said, “That’s her.” We did not know much about her at all, and her special need was one we had not considered before. That night we put her file on hold in order to have it reviewed by an international pediatrician who could tell us more. When I was getting ready to go to sleep that night, I began to think more about little Mei’s “special need,” and I thought maybe this wasn’t something I was comfortable with after all. I just let my mind focus on her medical records and lost sight of some other things. My heart was heavy, and I was worn out. I sighed and rolled over to turn on the alarm for tomorrow. As I did this, I whispered out loud a quick prayer, “What do you think, Lord? Please speak to me.” (Thinking that I was checking out for the night, and the prayer could maybe be answered tomorrow) I pushed the button to check the volume on the radio, and these were the exact words I heard:

He cries in the corner where nobody sees
He

Part 2 of 3: Everything in Here is Crazy

Scott did not freak out. I decided to tell him on our car ride to see family over the weekend since the kids would be engrossed in their books or DVDs. And, he didn’t freak out. His attitude was that if God is calling us to this, then He would make that clear and take care of everything. I was so sure he would freak out that it freaked me out that he didn’t freak out. I handled it all very maturely by telling him he was crazy and climbing into the back seat to hang out with slightly more sane people. At which point, I kid you not, Scott calls out, “Hey kids, you wanna adopt a sister into our family?” This was met with a rousing cheer from the back.

Now, I was really mad! This is not how we normally handle family decisions!

But, I was beginning to get excited too.

After talking about it some more, I agreed to find out more about “Mandy” acknowledging that God was probably calling us to be an advocate for her and help her find a family. When I inquired, we found that Mandy had found her family.

But, we both knew that God was doing something in our family, so we began to pray and read scripture, seeking His will. My heart began to be softened and eager to follow wherever God was leading us. But, I was still scared. At first, all I could see was my own weaknesses, limitations, and inabilities. But, day after day of drawing near to God, I found that I was seeing things more from his perspective. And, everything changed.

And I do mean everything. Not just my desire to follow his will no matter what. But the way I looked at my day and my kids and my house and my husband. The further we went on this journey, the more I was throwing off all these things that had hindered me from stepping out in the first place. Worry. Fear. Selfishness. Doubt. Discontentment with what I’ve been given or how my day goes. All of a sudden things that used to seem such a big deal- a missed nap, a temper tantrum, the flu, potty training, a migraine… they were all things that I could laugh in the midst of. Because, slowly, I was seeing it all through a different lens.

And that lens was Truth. It was the Word that I said I believed and loved but now I would have to live. It was the God I said I trusted but never had I been asked to trust so much. And, He was so very patient with me in my doubt. So very gracious to continue to meet me when I asked for Him to show me the way.

I remember specifically one night when I was focusing my thoughts on what others would think of our decision to adopt a child with “special needs.” I was holding my Bible open again.

“God, this is crazy. Seriously. This is crazy.”

And just as clear as day, this is what came to my mind . . . a patient, gentle voice, but firm . . .

“Haley, everything in here is crazy.”

And, I looked back down at the Bible and thought, “Did I hear that right?” So I began to think through all the stories of the Bible I could think of. And it is true. From a human perspective, everything in there is crazy. Everything.

It was a significant moment for me. Because I knew that I believed it all and God had confirmed it over and over again in my life. So if what was Good and True and Love and the Way of Jesus were crazy in the eyes of man, well then, call me crazy.

Part 3 to follow…

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Haley Long

I am a recipient of amazing grace. I’ve been married 11 years to my husband, Scott. We had 2 children, Isaac and Zoe. Then one day God met us both in the same moment and broke our hearts and filled them with love for orphan children. In 2008, we brought our son Beniam, now 3, home from Ethiopia. We are currently in the process to adopt a little girl named Mei from China. I am a Florida girl who loves sunshine, water, and sand. I enjoy almost anything you can do outdoors, especially in the mountains. When forced to stay inside, I love to read and write.

Part 1 of 3: Not On Our Radar

Adopting Mei was not our idea. We both knew that we wanted to adopt again and had our ideas of what that would look like. We would adopt a girl, maybe about 4 years old from Ethiopia or domestically, and we would wait until Beniam was in kindergarten. Because God knows we have our hands full right now. I mean, if everyone who sees me in the grocery store with all three kids remarks that I have my hands full, surely God knows, too. That is what I thought. Because that is how I looked at it then.

But, then one night, I was looking at this girl staring back at me on a computer screen. She was a “waiting child” from China. I had not intended to see her. (It is easier if you do not see.) I was innocently checking a blog to see an update on a friend’s new daughter from China. I did not know that she primarily uses her blog to advocate for waiting children in China.

So there I sat, looking at

Fighting Stance

Isn’t that the way it always works? Once you think you’re really making progress, there’s a flare-up that lets you know you’re not out of the woods yet.

Just yesterday, I bragged on how well Caden is adjusting. I’ve been seeing it time after time again. And, last night, he blew me away with his increasing vocabulary…not only by identifying Yoda as “Tar War” but by repeating the majority of the alphabet after Chloe.

Then, today it happened. For the first time in months, Caden took his fighting stance. Along with tantrums, eating nonstop and his separation anxiety issues…all of which are GREATLY improving…it’s the only negative result of his orphanage upbringing that we’ve seen. It’s hard to know exactly what will set him off, but it almost always happens if you take a toy away from him. Therefore, I’ve trained the kids not to do that. But, this afternoon, I promised them the treat of an “On Demand” movie if they cleaned up the tornado aftermath mess upstairs. They’ve had a very “creative” morning, and I wanted it taken care of prior to dinner.

I had assigned Eva the task of collecting the Barbies (and their accessories) and putting them back in their plastic tote. So, in the clean-up process, she tried to take the plastic Barbie horse away from Caden…and then it happened. I was in their room helping Chloe pick up, and I saw it. But, I wasn’t fast enough. Caden rocked back on his legs, raised his hand, and swung the horse right across Eva’s face. He reminded me of a spider about to attack its predator…as he always does when he takes his fighting stance. I grabbed his arm immediately after he made contact and said in a firm loud voice, “No. You cannot hit your sister!” I continued holding onto his arm while I took away the horse and put it where it belonged. As soon as I let go, Caden ran off crying. I took a quick look at Eva’s face and gave her a kiss on her “boo boo,” then I took off after him.

I found Caden in my closet, sobbing a heartbreaking sob that always takes me back to Gotcha Day. I grabbed him up and snuggled him close. Through his sobs, I gave him gentle kisses that created another scenario very reminiscent of Gotcha Day. Finally, I got him calmed down, and I switched him from “snuggling position” to “cradling position”. Then, I looked down into those brown eyes I fell in love with in a referral picture over a year ago and said, “Mommy loves you.” He shook his head no. So I told him over and over and over again…kissing and snuggling more as I progressed.

I know this is perfectly normal for adoptive families. And I’ve had that point reiterated through the 12 hours of online Hague training I finished this morning…in addition to the 10 hours that I took for Caden’s adoption. I know. It’s been drilled into my brain.

My baby boy fell asleep in my arms sitting on the floor of my dark walk-in closet. And, the tears began to flow. I was crying because he doubted my love…even for a second. I cried because a 2-year-old should not even know how to defend themselves like a wild animal under attack. I cried because I can’t make the damage done during his 21 months in the orphanage go away. I cried because there was a time when he wouldn’t fall asleep in my arms. And, I cried because soon I’ll have another wounded soul calling me Mama.

We stayed true to our original plan…GOD’s original plan, rather…and are pursuing a little girl with a congenital heart defect. Her heart will be broken in ways that the cardiologists won’t be able to fix…or even stabilize with medication. Her heart will be broken in ways that Mama can’t make go away no matter how hard she tries. And that scares me as much as the complications that can arise from complex CHD.

When you adopt a child, their pain becomes your pain. It’s no different than your biological children…but the relationship is. The bonds are harder to form…and easier to damage. It’s a battle establishing a good, solid relationship with them. And it’s a battle helping them overcome the baggage from their past. You can’t be a bystander…you have to be proactive. It takes hard work to get through the issues adoptive families face. It’s not easy meeting the needs of a child who has been hurt emotionally.

As an adoptive parent, you have to develop your own fighting stance.

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Tara Anderson

Tara Anderson began a journey of grace over 20 years ago when she walked the aisle of a little country church and gave her heart to Jesus. She is a stay-at-home mother of four, the youngest of whom was adopted through the China Waiting Child Program in November 2010. Not too long ago, Tara knew exactly who she was and exactly what she wanted out of life…but now she’s just trying to figure out who God intends her to be, and what He wants from her. You can get better acquainted with Tara on her personal blog, Following Our Leader.