Monthly Archives: June 2012

A Treasure to Carry

The Lord continues to bless me with encouragement when he knows I need it the most. A few months ago I went searching online to see if I could find our little man’s orphanage. I want to know where it is, to look it up on google maps, to see pictures, to imagine him there. But between having little idea about where to start and having to translate all those sites from Russian to English on google translate, I didn’t get very far. I looked through hundreds of orphanage pictures, hoping I recognize something in the background from the photos we have of out little guy… hoping I’d maybe even have some sort of motherly sense to just know which “baby house,” as they say in Russia, was his. But I did not.

Until today.

Through the miracle of the internet and what I’d say is God’s gracious guiding, I found it. A woman I connected with on a private adoption-related forum (hi M!) found my etsy shop. She bought a t-shirt and sent me a link to the website of her son’s orphanage, asking if perhaps our son was there too. I clicked on to the site and saw that it was one I had visited before. I wasn’t sure it would lead to anything, but still- I cut and paste every piece of wording into google translate and kept clicking around, hoping and hoping until…

Until I suddenly saw his sweet face and soft smile looking back at me. I inhaled sharply and tears prickled at my eyes. It was one of the pictures we already have of him, but just to know…. to know where he is… to see the faces of his peers, his playmates, his friends… this is a gift I treasure deeply tonight.

There is only one picture of his orphanage on the website and I’ve memorized it already. The white walls, the gray floor, the pine table and chairs, the colorful toys, the old fashioned play-pen like my parents would have played in. The room it sterile, but bright- filled with sunlight from large windows- and clean. It gives my mother’s heart some peace. A treasure, that picture. A gift for my soul.

On the site, the children in the baby house are “listed” with a picture and short description. The words used to describe our sweet son echo the descriptions his nannies have given us through our agency: quiet, gentle, tender, sweet. Our precious, precious, baby boy. Oh God how I long to cup his face in my hands, to stroke his head and push back his hair, to whisper, “My love. My baby. My son.” Do that for him today, I pray. Warm his heart until it glows with my love, from miles and miles away.

Today, for this gift, I am thankful. For a peek into his world. For a gaze into the eyes of the children with whom he spends every day. For a connection with another mama whose son waits with mine.

Until I carry him in my arms, I treasure these gifts in my heart. I carry him in my heart, today.

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Jillian Burden

 

Jillian Burden is an expectant mama; she and her husband are expecting their first child by way of a Russian adoption. While her belly might not be expanding, her heart and her faith sure are growing! You can read about this soul stretching journey to parenthood on her blog.

Response

Imagine yourself in a stadium, surrounded by people. Sports match, Music concert; either way, there is a buzz in the air. You are waiting for something to happen, the goal to be scored, your song to be played. And then it happens. And the crowd goes wild. Everyone is on their feet, screaming, clapping, stamping, smiling. You can feel the excitement and joy in the crowd.

This is kind of the response I expected when we told people we were adopting. We had been through a process of trying and being disappointed, wanting a baby but not getting there. Then we made the decision to adopt and suddenly hope returned and our world became such an exciting place full of anticipation and exhilaration. And so I would go around telling all I could

Whose RAD is it, anyway?

Over the last couple of months, I’ve spent some time with a few psychologists doing basic routine assessments for a few of my kids.

One meeting included me having a serious discussion on the developmental aspects of my Chinese adoptee with only one loopy dangley earring. The other ear: naked. Call me a crazy homeschooling mother of many.

The other psychologist? She was not impressed with our less than “typical” lifestyle with under the breath comments like, “That’s a passel of kids. You certainly have your hands full” and “So, your child doesn’t have any friends because you never socialize with other kids” after I relayed the multitude of activities we participate in on a weekly basis. Swallow hard, carry on.

When your kids come to you at 8 years, or 5 years, or 5 weeks old for that matter, a lot has happened in their lives. More than we will ever know, and it is advantageous to gather as much information in every possible way.

Being informed helps us.

understand the past,
deal with the present,
plan for the future.

As I was talking to the psychologist about my child, she had the nerve to suggest that during a particularly prickly stage with my child, the bonding and attachment was compromised. Not the child’s. Mine. Ouch. I took that nugget home to think about with my tail between my legs.

Yes, she actually said I have attachment issues.

Time for [Insert deep announcer’s voice]…confessions of an adoptive mom:

I love my children. I really do.

Yet, sometimes, there is one that is very hard to like.

All that history that I wasn’t part of?

It gets in the way.

Of my understanding. It disrupts my compassion.

And the truth of it all?

God has given me a vehicle for growth.

A way to learn more about how Jesus loved the unlovable.

And, He did exactly that in the best possible way.

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Jennifer Peterson

Jennifer Peterson is wife to one faithful man and mom of 9. After the first three came along, they became foster parents and adopted 5 kids including 2 sets of siblings. Jennifer and her husband Bob are currently in China to adopt an 8-year-old boy with a heart condition who has been waiting a long time for his forever family. Join the journey here as they ponder how and where God will stretch them next.

The Sin of Our Generation

“I believe that this could very well be looked back on as the sin of our generation. I look at my parents and ask, where were they during the civil rights movement? I look at my grandparents and ask, what were they doing when the holocaust in Europe was occurring with regard to the Jews, and why didn’t they speak up? And when we think of our great, great, great-grandparents, we think how could they have sat by and allowed slavery to exist? And I believe that our children and their children, 40 or 50 years from now, are going to ask me, what did you do while 40 million children became orphans in Africa?”

–Rich Stearns, President of World Vision

I first read this quote awhile ago but came across it again recently and it hit me in a much different way. I don

She is not an orphan

I’ve always been a “suck it up” kind of person but when Jaydn came along I made a huge effort to be a real softy even though it hurt, a lot, and I got really worn out. As time has distanced us from her past I made a shift and had expected others to follow along. Jaydn has a family, a loving home and all that a child needs to thrive now. Yet for some reason people still act as if they need to give her extra attention or allow certain behaviors they would never normally be okay with because, well, you know, she’s…

I know I sound like a crazy woman but think about it: if you are lighting up like a Christmas tree at the sight of my youngest daughter but hardly notice my other two, why is that?! If you let Jaydn climb all over you while you sit on the couch trying to exchange a sentence with me but would be annoyed if anyone else’s 3 year old mistook you for a jungle gym, why the sudden acceptance of such behavior? If you are asking for a hug from Jaydn and not the other two kids standing in front of you, how might that make them as spectators feel?

I whole-heartedly believe that no one comes into our home or interacts with our family with this mindset intentionally but allow me to explain a few of the results for us as a family.

1. Attachment with Jaydn has been opposite than most cases you hear about. She goes to where the attention is. So anytime you make her stand out and into the spot light against her siblings, she would rather walk off with you than stay around me, her mom who has to share attention equally. Of course we make moments where each child is celebrated individually but its intentional and purposeful for the sake of ALL our children.

2. My other kids see people draw Jaydn out from our family and it causes some tension that often results in increased control of their baby sister at home. Almost like an “everyone else may think you need more attention but I will put you in your place” attitude. I watch those two as they see the focus shift to Jaydn so often in public and it breaks my heart.

3. Ultimately it is no ones job to bring healing to our daughter’s past but God, through us her parents. We are called to give her the needed attention and extra effort that she needs. Until she has established a bond to us and us to her, this act of meeting her needs can only come from Nathan and I.

I am not asking for people to ignore Jaydn, just to consider and acknowledge if there is a draw to Jaydn more than other kids and if so, ask why. If it is for any other reason than she and you click in personality, then please attempt to balance out the attention. It does more harm than good to our family to show favortism to our youngest child because of her past rather than calling her into her present and future that is so full of love from those of us in her home.

Maybe this is my slant in personality but I expect Jaydn to grow in her home environment. I really must stress to the world that JAYDN ISN’T AN ORPHAN. She is my daughter and the more we all treat her based on her past instead of her present, the harder it is for her to move away the manipulation and attention seeking nature that she used before coming home. Our desire as a family is to teach her healthy social interaction for her age, the art of meeting a stranger, a respect for personal space, attachment to family members, how to take time to get to know someone new before you introduce physical touch etc. All of these things take effort on our behalf and understanding from those around us.

I have seen some major steps forward in Jaydn regarding this stuff when others interact with her in a healthy way. We were at a large gathering and someone came up and said hello to Jay without reaching for her at all. She didn’t respond until the person said their name. Then she turned to me and said, “I don’t know (insert name).” I said, “You are right Jaydn! You don’t know (insert name). Would you like to meet her?” Then she turned around and shook hands with the person while exchanging names and then she ran off. I was so proud.

In another instance someone asked Jadyn for a hug and she turned to me with a look that basically asked if it was ok. While I would have preferred this person not to have asked, I wanted to encourage the response from Jaydn and said it was ok. When she tried to stay with this person I had to gently remove her and gave her a hug of my own.

So you can see that progress is possible if we work together to create a healthy environment for every child. Regardless of how well you know someone, help us teach children healthy interactions by following a parent’s lead and trusting that we know what is best for our kids based on their personality, not their past.

 

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I have been married for over 9 years to a worship pastor/ a rock star/most involved and intentional dad I have ever seen! Together, we have the privilege of parenting three amazing children (Jaxon- 7, Jovie- 4, and Jaydn 3) and another is on the way! Jaydn came to us by way of adoption from Uganda, Africa. I enjoy photography, adventure recreation, and teaching high-school students about Jesus.

For his Birthfather: I’m doing the best I can, sir.

When I was messing with your hair that day, right after this picture was taken, my heart took a left when I figured it would have taken a right.

To the right would have been throwing you on the sofa and tickling you until you fart.
To the left was that place I accidentally stumble into every few months.
That place that looks, tastes, smells, and feels funny.
The last few strokes of your hair I imagined your father

For Fathers On the Fence

Every now and again, I feel compelled to talk to the Dads out there. The new Dads, the old Dads, the soon to be Dads, and even the ‘WhoooMyGoshHowDidThisHappenToMe’ Dad. And, since it’s Father’s Day, I’ve got an invitation to do that.

We sometimes, bless our little souls, feel inadequate to be a father. Kind of lost in the parental landscape dominated by Moms.

Yes sir, right from the 1st time we got pregnant, my wife had books like What to Expect When You Are Expecting… and it was a thick book! It talked about about the baby stages of development, the zygote stage, the embryonic stage, the platypus stage. It talked about changes in the mothers body, mood swings, things to look forward too, and stories of joy and happiness.

I got a similar book, except it was really just a handwritten note by a fellow father which simply read “Crazy. Expect Crazy.”

With adoption, all the books are about attachment and disorders and getting in touch with one’s feelings and emotional connections to your child and bonding…stuff. These types of things fall distinctly in the realm of the womanly way of dealing with things. If these books were written by men, for men, they would be the same as that handwritten note from my fellow father all those years ago…“Crazy. Expect Crazy.”

Then, when the kids get a little older, there are mom and tots play groups, coffee breaks for moms, moms group at church, and so on and so on. All these wonderful ways to build a healthy relationship between mom and child. A very woman dominated society in raising the children.

Men do have something similar…except that we leave the children at home with the moms, and we go play golf.

Yes, society has done a wonderful job of isolating us men AWAY from the process of “children.” There is little encouragement (except for our wives BEGGING us to actually be active participants in the process) for us to get involved with the pregnancy, early years or emotional side of adoption. And when we DO try to get engaged, we feel that we are invading the mother’s turf.

I remember one time that I went to the Neo-Nazi-BreastFeeding-Womans-Group… er, La Leche League, and I think EVERY woman there wanted to kill me for being a man (including my own wife). It’s a wonderful group though, seriously, which helps new moms learn how to breastfeed. Look ladies, if I could lactate, I would have! It’s not my fault I don’t have mammary glands! Us Dads are reduced to spectators in the childrearing process more than we would like!

Well enough of it! So I figured it was about time someone stood up for us DADs, and found us some good role models!!! So what better place to turn than the Bible… Lets look at some Dad role models in the Bible to encourage us DADs in our quest to be better Fathers and Husbands!

Adam
Key to Fame: 1st Dad in the Bible…well, except for God.
Outstanding Parental Achievement: … um, fathered most of mankind.
Results of Parenting: One of his children killed 25% of the worlds population (Cain + Able, Gen. 4)
Okay, maybe NOT the best example…let me find another one…

Abraham (Genesis 22)
Key to Fame: Considered the father of Israel. Still had game into his 90s!
Outstanding Parental Achievement: Had 2 sons. Many descendants, countless as the stars in the sky.
Results of Parenting: Almost sacrificed one of his sons on an alter. Kicked his other son (and his mother) out of the house at the tender age of 4(ish). The descendants of both sons are still at war to this day.
Ummmm… moving on!

Noah (Genesis)
Key to Fame: Built a big boat.
Outstanding Parental Achievement: With his sons and daughter in laws, they repopulated the earth.
Results of Parenting: After getting off the boat, and being stuck for 40 days and 40 nights with his kids, he immediately got drunk and passed out (Genesis 9:20~24).

David (Samuel, wrote many books in the bible as well)
Key to Fame: Killed the giant Goliath. King of Isreal. Was noted as having a “heart after God’s own heart” (bad husband and friend though… seriously, had one of his best friends hand deliver his death sentence to his commanding officer).
Outstanding Parental Achievement: Had some kids.
Results of Parenting: One of his kids tried to kill him. David wound up having his kid killed in a battle over the throne. There might have been something about some woman and adultery and such…

Okay, you know what. Forget it. I’m just gonna skip on over this all and wrap this up before I get into more trouble.

So, WHY point all this out?

Only to remind us DADs, that no matter HOW hard parenting looks…
No matter how SCARED we are about having kids…
… about adoption.
… about pregnancy.
… about making mistakes.
… about being a bad father.
… about feeling inadequate.
… about all those things and SO many more we are unable to articulate except though far off stares, the odd guttural grunting and cooking some meat on the bar-b-q as “protein based therapy”…

… is the simple truth that if THOSE guys up there, Adam, Abraham, Noah, David, YOUR Dad, MY DAD, or any other Man who has stood in the place of a father figure which may have been missing in your life…

IF they can do it. Then by the good graces of God, YOU and I can do it.

So lets stop being sidelined, stand up, and have the courage, strength and “lacking of common sense” that is required to thinking being a Dad is a good idea, and rush headlong into this fatherhood thing with all that is within us!

Even if all you can muster up today, is “You know, maybe we could consider adoption”, I’m sure it would mean the world to your wife… and you just never know where that fatherhood journey might lead you…

… hopefully not to an alter trying to sacrifice one of your children though. That would be bad. Although, when they hit about 2 years old… totally understandable.

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Adrian Berzenji

Adrian and Roberta have been married for over 13 years. They

From a Father: Until Today

To my precious new baby girl,

We’ve been separated for what seems like a lifetime, only a dream in your mommy and daddy’s heart… until today. We have spent years imagining what it would be like to hold you and kiss you and shower our affection upon you. You’ve been solely in our hearts, minds and imaginations… until today.

So much preparation, so much prayer, so much excitement, so much time and now we arrive at this perfect and God-appointed moment to meet you, our sweetheart. Strangers to one another… until today.

As we entered your country 4 days ago, your mommy and I were so excited to finally be here and be closer to you. Foreigners in a country in which you were born but knowing that God had a plan for our lives to intersect. Foreigners to one another… until today.

We now only have 3 small hours to wait for you. As I write this, you are getting ready to leave the only place you know as home. Those who have loved you are getting you up, dressing you, feeding you, making you laugh, helping to comfort you so you’re not scared. God provided these precious people to take care of you. The only ones who were able to love you in person… until today.

I am so excited to introduce you to your new mommy. She loves you so much. Watching her loving you from a distance; only knowing you from a few short pages and 5 pictures and yet fully loving you. I love to see her heart of love and compassion for you. You are getting a great mommy; the best, in fact. You don’t know her, sweetie… until today.

Today, today, today… what a day! You’ve been ours even before we knew you. You’ve been ours the last 2 months. But today we meet you, our love. Today we wrap our arms around you. Today we begin to introduce you to the love of your true Father and are so glad that we have that privilege. You don’t know your Father in heaven yet but He’s been protecting you and watching over you. We can’t wait for you to know Him and experience His saving grace. We haven’t had the chance to begin showing His love to you… until today!

We’re coming for you, honey. Today is a wonderful day.

Love,
Daddy

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Todd Whitney

Todd Whitney is the busy father to five, coming up on 6 kids. When he isn’t working to keep The Gang all fed, he enjoys hanging out poolside, working in his garden, and working around the house. He has a big heart for Chinese adoption and wrote this post while waiting to meet the Li’l Empress in a hotel room in Xi’an. You can read more about The Gang’s comings and goings over at The Gang’s All Here!