I’ve spent the better part of every day for the past week stalking my friends in China.
I’ve watched Gotcha Day come and go. Watched orphanage visits come and go. And watched as my friends try to help their little ones go through this very traumatic time.
I go from happy for these little loves and the future they NOW HAVE in front of them.
The future that up until three days ago was dark, at best.
But, now their lives have taken a 180 degree turn and have future that now holds MUCH promise.
But, then I have cried. Ugly cries. Tears streaming, hardly able to catch my breath, type of cries.
When I see the pictures of these sweet little loves who are so hurting so deeply.
They are scared.
They are confused.
They are grieving the loss of their loved ones, their nannies.
I can HEAR in my head the cry of a little four year old adopted on the same day as Grace… it was the deepest gut level scream you can imagine. I will never forget that sound. As his nannies walked out of the building. Oh man. I remember it like it was yesterday.
You see, these children didn’t ask for this. They didn’t ask for a family. They don’t even know what a family is.
We think we know that this is better for them. It is. There are no doubts about that. A life in a an orphanage is NOT a life for any child.
But, adoption is routed in deep and profound loss. Several losses in fact.
Grief for everything that has been lost to them.
It is absolutely heart wrenching to watch. To experience.
It is these days that I hate adoption. I hate that this children have to suffer through this. NO CHILD should have to experience this pain.
So, when someone says Grace is “lucky”… I want to scream.
I mean, I know a compliment is being paid, they are merely commenting that she is lucky she now has a family. And maybe they are trying to say that we are “good family”.
But LUCKY? ACK!
Grace and others that have come through this journey before her and those that have come after her…. they have suffered more than any child should have to suffer. They have experienced loss like no child should. They have experienced profound pain.
So, next time you want to say the word “lucky” in terms of adoption . . . give it a quick thought. Maybe there is a better way to say what you mean to say.
and certainly, don’t ever. ever. ever. tell one of these children they are lucky. Because, they might not feel so lucky. and saying it to them might make them feel like they SHOULD feel lucky, and that is just unfair.
Deb has been married to her husband, Steve, for 10 years. They have been blessed with four children, ages 9, 6, 4, and 1. The littlest is from Henan Province, China and joined their family in February 2011. You can follow their ups, downs, giggles, tears, and chaos of their family, now a full family of 6,
One of my favorite things about being a mom of little ones is the feeling of their hand in mine.
For me, it expresses trust, protection, connection. . . . It tells the world . . . we belong together. I”m not sure I”d really thought about that until we adopted our son.
Last week, we were walking on a sidewalk
. . . nobody near us
. . . he reached up
. . . and put his hand in mine
. . . for the first time
. . . in 17 months.
Baby steps on the long road of attachment.
Amy and her husband David have been married for 22 years and are the parents of 4 kids–three bio children ages 16, 14, and 10 and their youngest who is 5. They have been home from Ethiopia with him for 18 months. Adoption was on both of their hearts for many years. They took the plunge to move forward with adoption after realizing that all of their reasons for not doing it had nothing to do with the calling they believed they had from God. These past 18 months, however, have been beyond difficult. Each day continues to be a struggle, yet they cling to the hope that healing is happening and will continue to as they learn to parent their youngest child in brand new ways. Amy is an occassional blogger and can be found at www.ourtable4six.blogspot.com.
When I started dating Nathan I knew the central truth that if I didn’t love him exactly as he was right at that moment then I shouldn’t marry him based on how I could change him. Of course time would change him in some ways but it wasn’t going to be because I catered him to my desires. Well God blessed me with a man I did love as is and we later married.
I was reminded of this foundational piece of our marriage the other night as I was ranting and raving about how little progress I felt we were having with Jaydn. Sure there are some steps forward but not the ones I needed. In my fit of frustration I found myself revealing the true nature of my desire- change. I wanted Jaydn to change. It hurts to even see myself type that let alone admit it to all of you. But here I was saying that I wanted to seek healing for Jaydn and for her to be whole, but when it comes down to it the destination of the path I have been on was to change her. But that’s not love.
Love doesn’t come in the form of wanting to change the other person all the time- its meeting them where they are and staying there unless they decide to go elsewhere. Even their choice to move may not be in the direction you would want but a commitment to love that person means going with them there anyway.
What if Jaydn never stops chewing on her tongue? What if she never stops trying to manipulate people and situations? What if she never starts understanding the meaning of words and not just what they sound like? What if she always gets out of her bed in the middle of the night and wakes up her sister? Etc. Where will my love be then? Over and over again you hear about how love is a choice and this relationship is no different- I have to CHOOSE love regardless of whether anything changes.
As I was making this self discovery, I had a mental flash of the words I etched onto my living room wall that I adapted from the book Captivating by Staci Eldridge. It says, “May you find here the grace to be and the room to become.” Like a dagger to my heart those words dredged up in me my deepest desire to love others as they are. That philosophy applies to strangers, friends and yes Bethany, even to your children.
I’m sitting in the play area at Chick-fil-a and the kids are climbing, running and playing. A girl of about eight walks up to me and points to Emma.
“Was she adopted?”
I was a little surprised. Most people just assume my African-American daughter is adopted. But of course, eight year olds don’t assume. They ask.
It also struck me that she used the past tense. The few adults who ask usually say “is she adopted” as if the act of adoption is a status (like “I’m American” or “I’m married”) instead of an event that happened (like “I was born”).
“She was adopted,” I replied.
The little girl beamed.
“I was adopted, too,” she said.
I blinked back surprise again. A moment I had thought was about my unusual looking Korean-Ethiopian-American family was actually not about us at all.
Instead, it was a moment of affirmation for this precious eight-year-old girl, who knows that a piece of her history is different from many of her friends, but caught a glimpse that told her it was normal. Good. Positive. Accepted.
I smiled back at her. “That’s very special. I’m sure your mom and dad are so happy you are their daughter, just like me with my Emma.”
“They are,” she said. “They are.”
Aaron Klein and his wife, Cacey, are the adoptive parents of two beautiful kids: Spencer, who was born in South Korea, and Emma, who was born in Ethiopia. The Kleins serve on the board for Lifesong Ethiopia and advocate for adopting, fostering and caring for orphans in their community. In his spare time, Aaron is CEO at Riskalyze, a technology startup changing how we make investing decisions.
Three blog drafts later, I am giving an update. But it might be shorter than those three and perhaps a bit sweeter too.
We need prayer.
I got a phone call today from their preschool. I was asked to come get one of the twins.
The same twin who missed preschool yesterday, and all last week, and once or twice a week since their first week.
They are defiant, rebellious, deceitful and disruptive….Over the last 22 months, I’ve watched some people favor this struggling twin, and I know that that is not helpful. Our children – both of them – should never feel like they are or aren’t on the end of favor from someone – against their own twin or a peer. They need to understand that winning people’s attention is not a result of sympathy, but an outcome of their right spirit. Yes – I want people to love my children, and to understand them. But not pity. I definitely don’t want them seeking out that same pity when they are older, because the world has little time for adults on the victim train. And it certainly is not biblical to go about life believing the world owes us something grand.
This child has struggled a lot these last 3 weeks, and it has gotten much worse this week. We have been careful to exercise grace to them, since God is quick to give it to us. Yet, today, we saw how perhaps we were possibly enabling them to continue even further down their path to wrong choices. Perhaps, sometimes the grace was being given out of pity. If you’re a parent, you know! Seeing your child saddened to be held accountable is awful. I hate it! We are learning. But apparently even we – their own parents – tip the scale and pity them too much to their detriment. Their flippancy about their own bad behavior is almost scary. Yesterday, they were asked if they obeyed their preschool teachers on Tuesday, to which they replied, “NOPE!” very casually. Almost giggling. Argh. I thought my schpeel about respect and rebellion towards authority was being listened to.
Apparently it took 3 adults 5 minutes of struggle to calm them down for a little time out. And one of the teacher’s got hives because it upset her so much.
They have been confronted a LOT of late with Biblical truths about rebellion. Andrew and I are striving to communicate Truth to them. They have been clearly given an explanation of authority. The whole reason we want them to do preschool is because they do not respect other adults. If they don’t learn this, we are in for serious issues in kindergarten.
Anyway, I’m not here to defend our decision to do preschool. We absolutely believe it will be extremely helpful for them to learn to respect other adults. Apparently we were RIGHT ON with that being an area they had to grow in because now we can see how far they still have to go.
We have spent a lot of time in prayer over that child (to make me concerned we aren’t praying for the other one as much as we should!), and we have been quoting several scripture verses to them. And talking about how pleased S*tan is when they rebel, or lose their temper or whatever. How much he hates them. How happy he is that they are in trouble.
Then we have explained how Jesus loved THEM SO MUCH that HE DIED on a cross for their sins. How He is grieved when they do wrong. And despite it all, He loves them very much.
This decision to start bringing it home in this way could very well be the reason they are under so much attack. NOT PRESCHOOL. NOT BEING AWAY FROM ME FOR 2 1/2 HOURS. NOT NEW FAMILY MEMBERS. NOT THEIR BACKGROUND. NOT THE TIME OF YEAR. NOT SOME PSYCHOLOGICAL JUNK GOING ON IN THEIR HEAD. Though those things have weight in describing who they are, IT REALLY SEEMS TO BE A SPIRITUAL STRUGGLE. WE ARE IN A WAR ZONE.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PRAY for US AND FOR THEM. We will NOT hold back from sharing the GOSPEL OF CHRIST to our children. We will NOT hold back from quoting THE BIBLE to them. JESUS CHRIST CAN CHANGE THEM! And, He can change all of us–and all the children–adopted or otherwise–who are struggling as they are.
Please pray for strength and encouragement for us. We are especially weary and often confused as to what is going on in their head. Please pray that CHRIST changes them. He is our only hope.
I don’t like sharing as much as I did. But if I’m not honest, people won’t know how to pray. And as you can tell, we need prayer.
I know I put a lot in caps. I know I was snarky at times. But I am quite rattled as to why they rose the stakes. Why on earth they acted out in such a violent way that was totally reminiscent of Spring, Summer and some Autumn of 2010. The teachers are tired. And as of this afternoon, scared. We are bewildered and frustrated.
Thankfully the preschool hasn’t given up and kicked them out yet. We are so grateful to have their support. It’s been priceless. To have yours too would be amazing.
Esther and her husband Andrew became first time parents to twin toddlers with 24 hours notice, and a year before planned. Though they still have far to go in the healing process, Isaac & Mikayle have come leaps and bounds from their arrival date almost 2 years ago. Andrew and Esther accepted Christ as their Savior when they were much younger, but only recently have begun to scratch the surface in understanding the miracle of their own spiritual adoption. Currently Andrew and Esther are also host parents to two sweet Korean sisters here for a school exchange program. They hope to adopt more children in the future. Esther is the caretaker of their children (who as of last week are no longer in preschool and are home with her full-time [insert sigh]), the cook, the baker, inventory control manager and home manager. Andrew works with Bethany Christian Services in Church and Community Relations assisting South Eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware area churches in fulfilling the command to care for the orphans around the globe and close to home (you can connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org).
I’ll never tell you how much this hurts.
The waiting, wondering, not knowing. Loving someone who you can’t touch, who isn’t real. Feeling an ache, a hole. And then out of nowhere that feeling turns into a sharp pain, as your gasping for air, a moment in time when life literally seems to have been sucked from your body. Why? Because that is all she is…a feeling.
I’ll never tell you that I contemplate the potential I am going insane.
As I check my email upwards of twenty times a day, constantly wonder what time it is in Taiwan, and burst into tears when I wake up and have no emails. Because while I sleep, she could be awake. The people who hold my future in their hands are awake. And when I wake up and realize I will have to survive another 12-16 hours before I can crawl into bed and dream about waking up to some sort of morsel of news…it feels like a wasted life.
I’ll never tell you I question God.
As I sit alone in Adelyn’s nursery, struggling to believe she’ll ever be real. As I wonder why this road was chosen for me. Why didn’t I ever even want to be pregnant? Did I cause this for myself? Did my dream of adoption first render me incapable of being pregnant ever? Why can’t I just go back to being the me I was a year ago? The me that was 100% healthy, the me that actually had a choice.
Are You sure, God? Where is she God? When?
I’ll never tell you how deep the words can cut.
From the friends, family, and strangers who don’t understand. When I am attacked for past fundraising and called a beggar. When my intentions are misconstrued and my heart is dragged through the mud. When someone tells me “I never really thought your daughter would come from Taiwan anyways.” “You should just try and have your own.” “If it’s so difficult maybe your not doing the right thing.”
But those questions bring out the mother in me…
I don’t care where she is – God will be sure we find each other.
Yes this will happen. When God is ready, this will happen.
And no – I don’t want to risk my life or my unborn child’s life to “give it a go.”
It seems that it’s in those moments where I’m at my lowest that God calls on my mothers heart to remind me that He gave me one. And that our Kayla made it beat in that sweet and knowing rhythm.
You didn’t hear any of this from me.
Brooke is a beloved daughter of Christ and a dedicated social worker who lends her expertise to the lives of over 30 children with disabilities. She is a passionate advocate for both the disability community as well as adoption and her passion is rooted in her adopted brother, Brad, who has down syndrome. Brooke has been detailing the ups and downs of the journey she and her husband Michael have been on as they set out to adopt from Taiwan but just recently started blogging about the amazing story of receiving their new bundle of joy…from Florida…sweet Adelyn.
Sometimes I get really frustrated at people asking the “Is this ideal?” question in adoption. I’ve had people run fearfully away from adopting because having an transracial family isn’t “ideal.” As the world sees it, our identity is merely formed by the bits and pieces of our environment. Where we live, who are our neighbors, what type of house do we live in, the color of our skin. All of these things come together to fashion who we are. What the world fails to see is that Christ took all of those fallen identity bricks and replaced them with a redemptive cornerstone. He knew an identity built on bricks made by our own decisions and life patterns would crumble or at the very least become replace with new, more promising bricks as our discontented hearts yearned for our neighbor’s homes. Jesus knew our transformation had to require a complete leveling of the old structure.
This is why adoption makes no sense to the world. Bring a baby into a white family who lives in China among all yellow faces?! Ridiculous. And they will puff up and retort “Certainly this will cause that child’s identity to be confused and misplaced!” So they recommend leaving that child, leaving my daughter, in an orphanage among her own people and culture. To leave my daughter in a place that can’t feed her or put a book in her hands to read. Why has remaining in a home culture become a blinder to seeing what is really happening? If I gave birth to a child with one arm, would the logic tell me that I should ship this child off to some camp of one armed people so they can raise him and where he can feel good about himself?! The Livesays who live in Haiti just aptly wrote on this from the perspective of what they are seeing happen there in regards to orphan care. We had a friend just this week get notice that his adoption agency was dropping them because they lived in China and were adopting an Ethiopian baby and the agency thought that the social pressures the child would feel were just too great. Sociologists and psychologists make these hypothesis’ about what is best for a child based on what they assume is best for a human-to remain among it’s own people. What they are forgetting to see is the whole child. Is remaining in a home culture best when that home culture is not able to provide what they need? Is it ideal that a white mom is raising a black child, maybe not. But I would also argue that living in a fallen world also isn’t ideal. We live in a world where ideals are many times just a mirage. We live in a world where children die of dehydration, parents sell their children to the black market, and diseases are spread simply because people aren’t wearing shoes. Ideally, none of these things would be happening.
God knew all of this. He sent Joseph a dream to reveal to him that his adoption of Jesus as his own Son was a perfect plan. God gently whispered to Makaria that although her birth parents weren’t able to raise her, His plan was to bring her to an all white family living in China. And that… was a perfect plan. If we place our identity in the things and people around us instead of on being a new creation buried in Christ, then we will continue to see adoption as a set of “not ideals”, but it is so much more than that. It’s the story of Christ being adopted by Joseph, being raised by parents who taught him the Jewish scriptures, sent to the cross by his Heavenly Father and killed by the children He was sent here to save in the first place. This is a messy, tragic, beautifully perfect plan set in motion by a God who has His very own definition of what is ‘ideal’.
Carrie and her family have lived in China for 7 years. A homeschooling, mother of 5, she makes it through the day with prayer and a bit of caffeine. 3 years ago God flipped their family’s world upside down through the blessing of adoption. They have watched Him not only orchestrate the adoption, but compose a life dependent on His grace. She has written her first book, “Redefining Home: Squatty Potties, Split Pants, and Other Things that Divide my World,” set to come out this spring. Feel free to follow along and laugh at their crazy lives with them at www.rescuedremnant.blogspot.com.
Recently we were told by people whom we love and respect why they oppose our plans to adopt. One of the reasons given was that we would not be able to pay for your college education.
You all have college funds – college funds which recently took a terrible hit – but “they” say that by the time you’re 18, college will cost anywhere between $200,000 to half a million dollars each. You might as well know now, we won’t be covering that. I’m telling you now, babies.
The people said that the day would come when you would look at us with resentment because you had to apply for school loans while many of your friends got a free ride from their parents.
Maybe you will. Maybe you’ll resent us. I really hope not. But maybe I should tell y’all now why your dad and I have decided to do what we are doing.
I know you’re going to think I am going off topic (I do that a lot) but several years ago I saw a story on a TV show about how the latest trend was for parents to give their daughters boob jobs for high school graduation (I don’t know what they gave their sons.) When interviewing one of the moms, she said, “I just want my daughter to be happy.” And as I tossed a throw pillow at the television, this really huge thought occurred to me:
What if love looked different than we expect or imagine?
What if love is hard?
What if many don”t understand when love looks different?
When we plan to become parents, we have a flood of emotions, including excitement. Particularly as adoptive parents, because let’s face it, no one accidentally becomes an adoptive parent.
As parents, we have great expectations, hopes, dreams, and love for our children.
But what if:
the best way to love them isn’t the easiest way?
the scars of their past have left an impenetrable barrier to the heart?
our love isn’t enough to heal them?
we know there is One who can, but they can’t fathom it?
our tangible kindness causes a response of fear because it is foreign to them?
they don’t know how to give love back?
What if we love them so much we will do things radical, sacrificial, and misunderstood to help them heal?
What does a different kind of love look like?
Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. John 13:26
Jesus knew that Judas would betray him, but it didn’t change His love for him.
At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job 1:20-21
Job had lost everything, and he still acknowledged God’s sovereignty and loved Him.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
God’s love for us is so great that He came down from glory in the form of a man (yet, completely God) and died for the sin of all mankind.
But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Matthew 5:39-41
Jesus commands us to do the unthinkable ~ love those who wrong us.
Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him. Luke 5:13
Lepers were untouchable, yet Jesus touched the man because He loved him!
He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Acts 9:4-6
This man who persecuted Christians was loved by God, chosen by God, and ultimately devoted his life to sharing that love!
Just a few examples of when love looks different.
I’m a long way from loving like Jesus does, but I am “being renewed day by day” (2 Cor 4:16).
We are relying on the strength of the Holy Spirit as we love all our children, but especially one, in a way that looks different. Truth is, it’s hard. It’s lonely. It’s radical. I would say it’s a sacrifice, but can I really use that term after all that Christ has done for me?
Despite all of that, it is good! We have hope! Not because we always make the right decisions, but because God never makes mistakes. We are standing firm on His promises and watching expectantly as He brings healing and victory to our child!
God alone brings beauty from ashes – from the ashes of our mistakes, our sin, our pain, and our sorrow.
And that is a very different kind of love.
Connie and Clayton Johnson and their family live in Oklahoma. Coming to faith later in life (Clayton at age 40 and Connie at age 36), they surrendered to missions soon after accepting Christ but had no idea that would mean seven trips to China…and back. They have ten children, and are open to whatever the Lord has in store for them next. Connie hopes to encourage families who feel less than qualified to adopt and families who are burdened for older children and children with medical special needs outside their comfort zone. God does not expect us to come to Him perfectly equipped for His purposes, only perfectly willing. Visit their blog One More Ladybug.
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