Monthly Archives: November 2011

Grafting: Complete

I would like to be able to say that we always have a very happy, harmonious family. But that just ain’t the truth. Now, before Caden came along I probably could have gotten away with that statement a little bit easier. My older three kids all get along really well together and there’s very little arguing between them. That relationship does apply to Caden and the oldest two. They have formed the sweetest bonds, and Chloe is like a little Mama to Caden. And Eli is just a wonderful big brother all around.

But Caden and Eva…that’s another story. There has been a rivalry there almost since the beginning. My mother-in-law attributes it to the fact that Caden replaced Eva as the “baby” of the family. I think it’s a whole lot more simple, though. Caden and Eva are both pretty good at dealing out their share of crap, and neither of them has much patience for anyone’s crap but their own. Eli and Chloe are two of the sweetest, most laid back children you will ever meet. Eva and Caden are both impatient and want to call the shots. They are perfectly happy as long as they’re getting their way…but if one of them’s not, then there is a problem. And truth be told, if one of them isn’t getting their way the other is usually to blame. When it was just the older three, Eva could dominate a little bit more and the others just went with it. And Caden always gets his way where the oldest two are concerned. But Eva can’t dominate Caden, and she doesn’t give in to him. šŸ™‚

The relationship between Eva and Caden is the one I worry about the most. For example, awhile back Eva said to Chloe, “You can have Caden and Cora will be mine when she comes home.” Chloe did put her foot down on that one and insist that Cora gets to be her sister too. And Mama explained that a family doesn’t work that way.

Last night, we went to a party thrown by some adoption friends of ours. There was SO much to entertain the kids that Mama could send them on their way and talk adoption with the other ladies. Andrew had to work all day…and into the evening…yesterday doing inventory at work, but I didn’t sweat it. We were on a few acres with hayrides, bounce houses, zip lines, a rock wall, one of those bungee/trampoline things, and all the hotdogs and smores a person could ask for. Our hosts had even hired some people to help manage things.

I was chatting with another mother of five about Cora’s adoption, when all of a sudden Eva ran up to me in tears. I could tell by her demeanor (and lack of drama) that whatever this was, it was serious. I didn’t even have a chance to ask her what the problem was when she sobbed out, “Caden’s in the bounce house and it’s going down.” I looked up, and sure enough…the bounce house that Eva and Caden had been playing in while Eli was on the zip line and Chloe was doing the bungee thing had TOTALLY collapsed. With my baby trapped inside. The generator providing it with air had run out of gasoline. I took off running, and the woman I was chatting with followed right behind me. We climbed into the bounce house, both of us searching for Caden. There was no sign of him.

I stuck my head outside and asked Eva if she was SURE that Caden was in there. She assured me that he had been playing by the slide. Sure enough, in the back corner there was a huge pile of plastic that had once been the inflatable slide. By this time, the crowd had been alerted and others were trying to help. The “staff” was trying to get the compressor going again so that the bounce house could be aired up, while some men and I were on the outside of the bounce house trying to manually pull up the plastic Caden was trapped under. Finally my new friend (who was still inside the bounce house searching) saw Caden’s foot and grabbed hold of it, pulling him out from the pounds of plastic that were smothering him.

As soon as he was loose, I ran back in the bounce house to get him. There was just enough air inside by that point to remind you of a deflated waterbed or air mattress, but with some of the men holding the top of the bounce house up for us, we were able to get out. And right there…waiting for us when we came out of the bounce house…was a still hysterical Eva, and her slightly less hysterical older siblings.

In that moment, I knew the grafting was complete. My worries had been in vain. There may be rivalry. There may be disagreements and drama. But Eva’s heaving sobs last night communicated something to me…my little BROTHER is in danger, and I’m upset about it. She didn’t want to trade him in for someone else, and she certainly didn’t want anything bad to happen to him. He was a part of her, and she was a part of him.

Until…of course…a little “squall” erupted between them this afternoon. šŸ™‚

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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, and they are waiting to bring home Cora who is currently at New Day Foster Home. 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.

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.

The Awesome Inheritance of the Orphan

Perhaps when all is said and done, beneath the anger of many adoptees is the bone-deep fear of being forgotten. Forgotten by the biological father whose name they may never know. Forgotten by the birth family who went on without them (many times, unknowingly). But most of all, forgotten by God.

As I became aware of this issue personally and shared it with fellow adoptees in our support group, eyes welled with tears. Searching for truth, I learned that far from being forgotten, the orphan is the object of God’s special care and protection. Here’s what God promises orphans, whether we are domestic or international orphans and no matter what our age.

He does what is necessary to preserve our life (Jeremiah 49:11)
He gladdens our hearts with the bounty of Providence (Dt. 24:19)
He feeds us from “the sacred portion” (Dt. 24: 19-21)
He defends the cause of the fatherless, giving food and clothing (Dt. 10:18; Is 1:17)
He hears the faintest cry of the orphan (Ex. 22:22-24)
He rescues orphans when they cry for help (Job 29:11)
He considers caring for orphans an unblemished act of worship (Jas. 1:27)
He provides what the orphan is searching for–love, pity, & mercy (Hosea 14:3)
He blesses those who provide for the orphan (Dt. 14:29)
He has a unique life plan for the orphan in history (Esther 2:15)
He strongly warns judges who issue unrighteous decress & magistrates who cause oppressive decisions against the orphan (Is 10:2; Mal. 3:5)
He is pleased when nations and people treat the orphan justly (Jer 5:28)
He will draw nigh and be a swift witness against oppressors of the fatherless (Is. 10:2)
He commands others not to remove “the ancient boundary stone” or encroach on the fields of the fatherless (Prov. 23:10)

pow mia stamp never forgotten

While considering the subject of feeling forgotten, I saw a poster-sized reproduction of a U.S. commemorative stamp for those who have served our country. Two words grabbed my attention–NEVER FORGOTTEN.

That’s what I and possibly many other adoptees, foster care children, waiting children, and anyone who is fatherless need to hear.

Healing Beneath the Surface

chinese adoption CHD
18 months home. Check-up day.

This morning, I raced to get the kids off to their schools and then get on over to CHOP’s cardiologist for Lydia’s appointment. I wasn’t worried about the appointment. A check up every 6 months. Just gotta do it.

A VSD put her in the special needs program. We were prepared for heart surgery. We were relieved to learn the week we got home that surgery would likely never be needed. Our cardiologist explained that it would only be necessary if the valve started to pull into the little hole between the walls of the bottom two chambers of her heart.

“Show him your heart, Lydia.” She pointed to her chest and said, all drawn out as she does, “Right here.” He listened. He listened some more. She got the EKG with stickers that tickled. Then, we went into the little room fitted with a big ole bed for her echo.

The tech pulled up her echo from 18 months ago. I could watch it on the computer screen and hear it–her heart sounded like a little bird to me, racing.

“Was she really upset when we did this before?” she asked.

“What do you mean?”

“It’s just that her heart was a bit crazy there. Looks like she was really worked up.”

She wasn’t.

18 months ago, we were in that same room with the same technician even. It was just me and Lydia, newly home, still getting to know each other. I sat there with her and rubbed her legs during that echo all while she lay perfectly still, just looking at me, not making a peep. I remember at one point, I even got her to fall asleep.

chinese special needs adoption

But, she wasn’t at peace. For a year, she never left one building. One day, one of the nannies there dressed her up nicely in new clothes, put her in a car for perhaps the 2nd time in her life, drove 2 1/2 hours, brought her into an office building and handed her to a white lady with a big nose who was crying and laughing at the same time who then passed her back and forth to a big white guy with red hair. We took her to our hotel room, then an airplane, then another hotel room, all while going to restaurants and walking around crowded streets. Then, after a very long plane ride, we arrived somewhere entirely new–new sounds, new smells, new people, new children wanting to touch her and hug her.

As calm as she seemed during that echo 18 months ago, the poor baby was upset. And, we’ve got a video record of her heart to prove it.

But, today, was different. She happily laid on the bed and talked to me about Dora who they had playing on a screen for her to pass the time. I watched the screen and the images of her heart, amazed at the clarity of the picture and how we were able to painlessly look right into our little one’s chest. Amazing.

And, then, she said it. The tech smiled at me and said it.

“Have you been praying?”

Her heart is healed. The hole is gone. Her heart is whole. Totally whole.

The cardiologist, an adoptive dad of two himself, smiled and told us he doesn’t want to see us ever again.

Amazing.

All 23 lbs of her.

Love

jiayin designs custom silver chinese charms

Someone asked me the other day how I knew I loved/could love Ruby. It was a simple question and I understood them asking- but the answer is so plain and simple to me. I already adore Ruby and love her to the ends of the earth, because I love Jesus. I love the God that created her and knit her together – so I already love her.

I don’t think it will always be easy. I don’t think it will always make sense. But I know, as much as I know that the sun is going to rise tomorrow, that she is mine, and I am hers.

I recently read a quote from Kisses from Katie:

We aren’t really called to save the world, not even to save one person; Jesus has already done that. We are called to love with abandon.

I already love her with wild abandon.

And I absolutely can’t wait to meet her.

“We love because He first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19

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Sara McClintock

Sara was blessed by marrying her best friend 15 years ago. Then, found The Greatest Love of All in Jesus Christ in 2004. Having already had the privilege to parent two football-loving sons, Sara and Bill had international adoption laid on their hearts. They were blessed beyond belief when they welcomed the cutest, spunkiest Chinese girl from Luoyang into their family in December 2008. Having left pieces of their hearts in China, Bill & Sara are praying for God’s will to retrieve them. Please stop by their family blog

Back to His Arms

Last week kicked my rear end was crazy hard. I admit it…I was drowning/sinking/floundering/stumbling/staggering; call it whatever you wish, but, basically, I was wallowing in self-pity. I wanted our referral and I wanted it NOW {or yesterday or the day before}.

I wanted to believe all my sadness was justified. I mean, really? 11 weeks with no referrals? (Not to mention multiple families in the final stage of bringing their children home reporting delay after delay.) Think of all those orphans who need homes and here I am, waiting so patiently for a call that just doesn’t seem to ever come!

So, there I was…whine, cry, frump…when, BAM…I got slapped in the face with the gospel! OK, maybe that’s a bit of an exagerration, but truly, I got me some CON.VIC.TION!

Because, the truth is, my lip service was NOT matching the state of my heart. Don’t get me wrong, I want desperately to believe that this journey is not in vain…that I am enduring this wait because this is exactly where God wants me, and I DO believe that, but my heart was just not feeling it and I was sinking into a dark place. And, the bottom line is I wasn’t as close to my Jesus as I need/want to be. Instead of drizzling my sorrow in Christ’s redemptive love and promise to stay by my side {even when days are dark}, I was relying on myself to get me through. Not. Pretty.

This seed of longing for more began early in the weekend, so when I went to church on Sunday morning, I just knew I was meeting Christ there and that I was ready to lay it at His feet, to start this wait over {in a sense}, to get back to the arms of My Savior. And, guess what?! He did it! He met me there and He held my hand and he spoke to me through the sermon. We began a study of Hebrews and dug into verses 1-4 of the first chapter, which our pastor summed up like this:

“It is impossible for you to have too high a view of Jesus.”

So true. My Jesus will carry me through this difficult wait. Wasn’t he faithful to Noah, Moses, Job, David, Abraham, and countless others? He shows me over and over again where a child-like faith leads and yet, I somehow lost sight of that. And so, I am done. I can’t do this wait alone or even based on the strength of my family and friends. I need HIM and He promises to carry me, hold my hands, and walk beside me. And so I’m reaching for Him…

I’m determined to hold tight to the following verse from Hebrews:

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:23

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Jennifer Campbell

Trevor and Jennifer Chase live in Southwest Missouri where they reside with their two biological children. They have been married for 11 years and desire to serve Christ in all that they do. Their current journey to bring their next child home from Ethiopia has been filled with ups and downs as they manuver through the ever-changing process of international adoption. However, they are leaning on the Word and trusting in God’s perfect timing as they wait for the referral of their child (or children) from Africa.

{Advocating} Ready to Belong

Chinese boy for adoption scoliosisIn July, my husband and I traveled to China to serve with Bring Me Hope to provide a camp experience for orphans. As prepared as you think you are with packing lists and immunizations and reading all you can beforehand, I wasn’t at all prepared for what God had in store for me.

My heart was broken. My heart was broken over each one of those children He brought to that camp. Broken.

During my second week in Xi’an, I had the tremendous blessing of spending 5 days with a sweet little boy [David]. I’ll never forget seeing him for the first time. He immediately reached for my hand and held it with a tight grip. He didn’t want to let me go. I noticed right away that he had some difficulty walking. And, as we walked to the edge of the room together to play, I became more aware of the trouble he had walking. As I walked easily in stride, I could feel his body shift from left to right as we walked hand in hand. He has scoliosis. I imagine that the years of little to no treatment and no family to help him get what he needs has contributed to his rhythmic gait.

But, his spirit is so bright. He smiled up at me with an excited grin and told our translator he was excited to come to camp. Every few minutes, he would shift his entire body to turn and smile at my translator and me. I remember consciously noticing what a beautiful smile he had.

That first afternoon, we played badminton until we could play no more. And, he laughed and played with joy despite the differences in how God formed his shape.

scoliosis chinese boy adoptionWhen I think about [David], I think first of his sweet spirit–quick to listen, eager to try new things and soak every bit out of camp that he could. He had two close buddies at camp. They all lived in the orphanage together, and it was very easy to tell that they were best buds, three peas in a pod. It occurred to me that they were probably the closest thing he has to a family, the closest thing he has experienced of what it feels like to belong.

He was made paper ready, made available for international adoption when he was only 5 years old.

He just turned 8.

And, for nearly 3 years, he has waited, paper ready to be adopted.

[David] seemed most happy when he was beside his two best friends. I couldn’t help but picture him home with a family, HIS family, and how happy he would be, how much potential he has, how much he’d grow and thrive. And, how tightly he’d hold the hand of his mother and father.

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This little boy’s name has been changed for the purpose of advocating.