Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Story of Adoption

The years that I missed will always haunt me. 

Never feeling their life grow in my womb.

The baby cuddles and smells

Late night feedings

First smile, first laugh, first step, first word

Kissing boo boos and bandaging knees

First days of school 

Comforting broken hearts 

Birthday after birthday, without us

Different things missed for each child.

The sense of loss still lingers. 

Yet

Thankfulness abounds.

Over God’s perfect timing 

Over each moment and memory we do have

Over each new discovery and bonding moment

Over the fact that He choose us to raise them

This is the story of adoption. 

_____________________________________

 

Why do they have to grow up so fast?

It seems like just yesterday we were in that sultry hotel conference room meeting our 18 month old baby girl.

And almost a year ago we sat huddled in a cold conference room waiting to meet our 8 year old boy.

And over the past months, it seems that my babies are growing up 

WAY TOO FAST

No longer the toddler
Ready to take on the world
No longer the baby faced boy we first saw
Growing more mature every day

 

So we will cherish every moment we have with them

Holding on those memories of laughter, joy, sadness, and love 

Thanking our God in heaven for His most precious gifts. 

_______________________________________

Suzanne Meledeo
Suzanne Meledeo

After struggling with infertility for 5 years, God led Suzanne and her husband Adam to His Plan A for their lives—adoption! Their daughter, Grace Lihua, came into their lives on May 8, 2011 (Mother’s Day) from Fuzhou City, Fujian Province, China. And, their son, Anthony Jianyou, joined their family on January 14, 2013 from Shanghai. After a career in politics, Suzanne now works part time as a Pilates instructor while home schooling their children, writing and working as a part of the WAGI leadership team. You can follow their adoption journey and life on their blog, Surpassing Greatness.

The One Time They Told Us to “Tone Down” Our Open Adoption

I am not a big fan of discussing agencies online, due to many different views and opinions and I will not reference this particular agency by name.  There was this one time with the agency that we signed on with for our son’s adoption when they asked us to come back and speak to a group of prospective adoptive parents.  They asked us to come along with Ash, B’s birth mom, and speak as a triad.  We were all so excited to share about our open adoption in this forum.
B had just turned a year old, so of course we were experts on the matter of open adoption at that point, ha!  After the meeting that day, we were planning on sending B with Ash’s parents for his first overnight visit with them, as we had a small group couples trip that weekend.  Ash’s social worker, who was now the director and an adoptive parent herself, met with us before the meeting and asked us to please tone down how open our adoption was and to please not tell everyone that B was going to be having an overnight visit that evening.  She didn’t want us to scare these prospective adoptive couples.
It was a bit awkward to say the least because we were worried that we were sharing too much information or not enough and it just felt weird to not be able to truthfully share about our relationship.  I am of the belief that frequency of visits do not equal open adoption. Visits come about as a natural result of openness in our adoption, but are NOT for everyone in the adoption triad.  Even the things we were allowed to shared that day still surprised and shocked people. You could see the looks on their faces that they weren’t ready for this yet.  We had a lot of intense questions from people after the meeting that day.  People pulled us aside and asked questions like, “do you feel guilt? Is that why you have such an open relationship?  Do you feel like you can’t say no to them?  Is it ever too much? Do you really want to see her this much?”  They obviously hadn’t really read the open adoption books that were assigned to them yet!
We were never asked to come back to speak, which was perfectly fine with us.
We know our relationship is intriguing and we are a walking freak show for so many people.  The shock factor is kinda fun for all of us, at times.
A few weekends ago we did the unthinkable {sarcasmand went away for the weekend with Ash’s family, to a family cabin up in the mountains!
We had a wonderful time together our wish was that we had longer together. For some reason, this time away seemed monumental to me.  It was like we had broken through the ceiling of open adoption.  We had made our own rules about our adoption and defied the odds. Four plus years later we are still doing this open adoption thing and it is still working!
I know open adoption is not ideal for every situation.  I understand that more than you know.  But it’s B’s family and our family and it makes me happy that we are making these memories for us and him.  We are so thankful that we have trusted God to build our family.  It’s so comforting to see his redemption through adoption.  Another amazing thing to see is the way Ash’s family have embraced our daughter, Lah Lah, into their family.  Lah-Lah was brought to our family through a separate, not as open adoption.
I have a few fun pictures to share with you from the weekend that should put a smile on your face.
B and me on the 4-wheeler with Pop-pop, B’s Grandpa!
B’s mom-mom and Ash (birth mom) playing uno with the family
B and Ash (his birth mom) together!  Beautiful picture of beauty from ashes!
Fishing with daddy and Aunt Morgs
We realized on Monday morning that B’s favorite stuffed animal, Pandy-Candy, had been accidentally left behind with Ash.  Being the awesome birth mom that she is, she documented her whole day with Pandy and sent us picture updates all day.  We ended the day with a dramatic return of Pandy!  Thanks, Ash, for saving all of our evening!!
____________________________

Amber Houser

Amber is the blogger behind Bumber’s Bumblings.  She is madly in love with God, her husband (Nate), her two beautiful children, and extended family; she enjoys making new friends, running, cooking, chocolate, green smoothies, sleep, instagram, peanut butter, and pizza.  After months of trying to conceive turned into years, Amber shared in the isolation and devastation that so many women suffering from infertility experience—until she and Nate were led to open adoption and a magical, miraculous son.  Amber is the founder of the Delaware Area Moms Through Adoption Group, has shared her adoption story in a documentary film, Unborn by Christian artist, Caitlin Jane, and has had the opportunity to speak at retreats, women’s banquets, and small groups about her path to open adoption.

Forgiveness

“Forgiveness.”
This is the word the Lord has given me recently.
Quite a while ago I stopped posting about the unwelcome guest in our home:  Trauma.  I wish I could say that absence of posting = absence of the impact of trauma.  Not.so.much.  
It’s been nearly four years since we were first introduced, and I realize I need to take some time to ‘heal thyself’ in order to maximize my ability to help us become a healing home.
I still ask the Lord to change my hard heart, to give me the patience to respond with compassion, the strength to persevere through the trenches and joy to rise above the chaos.  I still make the same mistakes.  Not because He isn’t answering my prayers.  Because I am so very human.  I get in the way of His work in me every day.  I.am.not.bragging.  I’ve been desperately asking God to show me why I am so insistent upon living as the former self, rather than as the new creation He has made me to be.
And He has!  It’s all about forgiveness.
Heaven knows I don’t deserve the depth of forgiveness God has extended to me.  I can’t begin to express how thankful I am for His redemption.  With God’s grace, I have been able to overcome deep wounds and forgive others who have hurt me, only because He has shown me how!  But now comes a revelation that shakes me to the core.
I am withholding forgiveness.  I am casting blame.  Not audibly, but clearly in my heart.  And it is spilling over like poison, tainting everything it touches.
What a horrible admission!  But maybe you’ve been there?  Maybe you are like me and didn’t realize this is brewing in your heart?  Let the healing begin!
I realized that I was so beaten down with the impact of my child’s trauma that somewhere in the process I began to blame him.  In my heart I held him accountable for the countless hours we spend on the road for therapy, for the constant attention he requires, for taking my focus off the other children, for every time our plans change suddenly because of his reaction or response, for the fact that he must always be supervised, for the fact that I am exhausted because every moment must be a teaching one, and on and on and on…  I blamed him for relationships lost, conflict gained, misunderstandings, judgment, and  criticism.
Truth is, as critical as someone else may be of my parenting, I am my worst critic.
And so, I was also blaming myself.  I couldn’t understand why he would do things he shouldn’t or wouldn’t do things he should, why he would retreat so deeply within himself, why he would lash out for no apparent reason, why he would lie about something so c.r.a.z.y and obvious, and why MY response would typically escalate his reaction.   And so I also blamed ME!
Forgiveness starts here!
My child doesn’t need to know that I blame him or that I need to forgive him.  He doesn’t need that burden.  But it is something that must happen in my heart.  Today I began by granting forgiveness…to myself and to him.  I will never be a perfect parent.  At the end of the day I hope to say I did my best (totally relying on God!).
Raising a child requires commitment and investment.  Raising a child with neurological, physical or emotional conditions requires even more.  And in the words of Dr. Karyn Purvis, “…the longer a child experienced neglect or harm, the more invested you’re going to have to become in their healing.”    In an effort to help my child heal, I’ve focused too much on ‘fixing’ him.  That has proven to be frustrating and exhausting because in the process to ‘fix,’ I have not been able to appreciate who he is, making this adventure more about the destination than the journey.
He is treasured.  He is valuable.  He is wanted.  He is a child whom God has entrusted to me.  Not so that I can fix him.  So that He can change my heart.  And so that I can shape, nurture and protect my child.
God has given me a firsthand opportunity to live out Scripture.   It is one thing to say, “Sure, I can love my enemies (because I can keep them at a distance); I can speak for those without a voice (because, in all honesty, I get to choose how much effort I put into it); I can fight against injustice (because I can quit when I’m tired).”
What am I to do when the person who acts most like my enemy lives in my home?  When the person whose voice I must be doesn’t want to hear?  When my fight for injustice is mocked?  When I am at the end of my rope but the battle rages on?
Then I lean in close to my sovereign God, and I trust that He will never leave me (Jos 1:5), that He works ALL things for His glory and for the good of those who love Him (Rom 8:28), that His grace is sufficient (2 Cor 12:9), that He gives me hope (1 Pet 1:3), that His strength is enough (Phil 4:13, Heb 12:12).
God is more than able!  He has loved me in spite of my hard heart, and He has made a way for me to love.  Healing begins with forgiveness!
To HIM be glory!
*Disclaimer*  I am not a single parent.   My husband and I are very much a team with the attitude of me-and-you-against-the-world-babe, but this is my heart issue.

 ___________________________

Connie Johnson

Connie Johnson

Connie is crazy about her Lord, crazy about her husband, and crazy about her 11 kids.  You can read more about life in her family and what God is teaching her on their family blog: http://k6comehome.blogspot.com/

Adoption and Being Rescued

Last year our church participated in Orphan Sunday for the first time and I
was thrilled to play a small part in that. We have five adoptive families
in our church that I know of. It’s really special to me that we all
represent different areas: one family adopted from Korea, another from
Guatemala, another from China, another domestically and currently foster
parents, and then there’s us – we represent Ethiopia. How incredible to
have such a diverse group of adoptive parents in one church family!

Our children’s pastor was able to share for about 5 minutes in the
beginning of our service about what adoption means to him. He began
talking about how much he likes cars and how impressed he is with the
newest (and apparently most awesome) version of a BMW. Then he began to
share about their recent journey of becoming foster parents and their first
little baby boy placed with them… a couple weeks earlier the judge
ordered this little boy be given to his grandparents. I know first hand the
ripping pain that happens when foster children leave your home. Mike went
on to share how much it hurt… that it cost him a lot. But that in life we
often find that the best things (like that BMW) are expensive… they cost
us something… but they are the best things. Adoption is expensive
(literally and figuratively). It’s not easy to adopt. There are emotions
involved that you never knew you had. But adoption is the greatest thing
that has ever happened to me.

After the service an intimate lunch was planned for people to attend who
were interested in learning more about adoption. John and I, along with 3
of the other adoptive families were there to share and answer questions. We
went around the table and each family shared about their journey — why
they adopted, how the process went, the good and the bad, ect. It was so
special to hear each of the stories. One thing stood out to me above
everything else shared.

Not one family said they adopted to save a life or because they
felt like they were called to fill a great need. Every single family said
the reason they adopted was because they wanted to. There was an empty spot
in the family they wanted to fill.

I loved that. Because adoption isn’t about rescuing a child (though there
is an element of truth to that as I know for a fact both of my babies
wouldn’t be alive right now without adoption)… adoption is about family.
The whole family. Adoption is about love, community, relationship, and
completing families. Adoption goes both ways… adoption fills a need for a
child and for the family. And that’s beautiful.

We were the only couple there without biological children. I am very open
about the truth that our infertility journey is why we adopted. So it’s not
hard for me to say with conviction that yes, maybe we did rescue
our children, but truly they rescued me.
They rescued me from a
life of barrenness. They rescued me from empty arms. They rescued me from
an incomplete family and I am forever grateful for their presence in my
life. My children are a gift that I do not take for granted. To me adoption
is a miracle and a rescue — but not just for orphans… for mothers
without children too.

_____________________________________

Lauren Casper

Lauren Casper

Lauren Casper is the wife of one handsome pastor, a mother of two beautiful toddlers, and worshiper of the King of Kings. She uses her voice to share her broken story of traded dreams and overwhelming redemption with the hope that others will see God’s work of restoration, healing, and grace in their own lives. Lauren is currently writing her first book about her journey through infertility and the surrender that led to adoption. She dreams big and writes with a transparent heart on her blog.

Too Much

The conversation has become an all too familiar one.  The hurt, frustrations and tears came to the surface with four simple words spoken softly as I hugged her:

I can’t get pregnant.

Having walked the road of infertility, I could identify with her feelings of hopelessness, heartache, and anger.  How can something that seems so natural be so difficult to achieve?  Why is (seemingly) everyone else pregnant?  What is God trying to teach me?  Why is it so hard?

But what stuck in my mind is something she repeated a couple times: I know God won’t give me more than I can handle, but today I feel like I just can’t handle it.

It was too much.

Haven’t we all been there?  That place where it all just feels like too much?  Too much fear of the unknown.  Too much of a challenge.  Too much heartache.  Too much pain.  Too much to endure.  Simply too much.

When we reach that place of too much, we often remind ourselves that God won’t give us more than we can handle, which leaves us feeling like maybe we just have to suck it up a bit more because these challenging circumstances, this life, should be well within our limits.

Do you realize that “God won’t give you more than you can handle” isn’t even in the Bible?  Seriously, it’s not.  I dare say, God DOES give us more than we can handle.  It happens all the time in big and small ways, doesn’t it?

Demanding toddlers.

Job uncertainty.

Infertility.

Job loss.

Death of a child…or parent…or spouse.

A failed adoption.

A terminally ill spouse.

A stillborn child.

A job transfer.

An unexpected diagnosis.

Isn’t it all just too much for us to handle?

I can think back to some hard stuff in my life.  The struggles with infertility.  The 11 month wait that stretched into an almost 4 year wait to adopt.  The big detour in our adoption from China.  Tackling an independent international adoption.  It was all too much for ME to handle.
I don’t like change
or the unknown
or uncertainty
or waiting.
But GOD?  God could handle it…and HE did…although it was often only in hindsight that I could see how he worked things out.  It may not always be the ending to the story that I may have envisioned, but I can see his hand at work.  I can see how HE got me through.  (And I am grateful that HE is the one writing the story of my life.)
My job (although I failed miserably at this at times) was to depend on HIM, lean on HIM, cry out to HIM.  Doing my best to walk in obedience, and trust what I knew in my head to be true, even when my heart couldn’t feel it.

It is about depending on HIM intentionally hour-by-hour or even minute-by-minute saying, “I can’t do this God. Please give me strength for the next half hour.” (Or the next procedure. Or the next ovulation test. Or the next family gathering. Or the next paperwork gliche.  Or the next interview.)

Years ago, as I sat in a parking lot collecting myself before heading in to see the fertility doctor for diagnostic testing that would predict our likelihood of ever conceiving, I put my head in my hands and prayed, “I just can’t do this.  I can’t walk in those doors.  I can’t smile at the receptionist.  I can’t hear what the doctor will likely tell me.”  And as clearly as if it were spoken aloud, I heard in my heart: My strength is made perfect in your weakness. 

Now THAT is biblical.  His strength is made perfect in {my} weakness. 

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:9

Because of HIM, I walked through those doors and learned that our chances of conceiving were dismal at best.
Because of HIM, we somehow made it through an adoption trip full of surprises and heartache.
Because of HIM, we were able to complete an independent international adoption that most would have never attempted.
Because of HIM, we are able.  Not because He won’t give us more than we can handle, but because when He does give us more than we can handle, HE is able.  HE equips.  HE sustains.  HE directs.
HIS power is made perfect in OUR weakness.

______________________________________

Stephanie Smit18 years in the classroom as a teacher is nothing compared to parenting three little ones at home full-time. Through their three daughters, God has revealed Himself most clearly to them. He not only worked a miracle in giving them their biological daughter, He continued to show Himself in mighty ways throughout adoption journeys in China and Bhutan that were anything but normal. You can read more about their family on their personal blog We Are Family.

My Find At Salvation Army

Today, I was heading to the grocery store, but I had a feeling Max wouldn’t do well.  We had already been running errands for a little over an hour, so I decided to go to The Salvation Army to see if I could find any treasures.  I’m not sure that reasoning makes a lick of sense, but that’s what I did.  I was going to do a quick walk-through – maybe I would find a cool piece of furniture or some clothes for Max.

I found something much more amazing.

One of the workers was helping me figure out the price for a play kitchen set.  She looked familiar, but I didn’t really think much about it.

I went on my way to hunt some more.

As I was walking up and down the aisles, I heard another worker say the nice lady’s name.  It’s a unique, unforgetable name and it’s the name of the first birthmom we met when we were going though our first adoption journey.  It clicked and I realized why she looked so familiar.

I made a bee-line for her.

January 2010 An expectant mom wanted to meet us. We found out that she was from the Gary area, but was in a rehab center in our town. She would be having her baby in our very own city. This for sure was the baby God had for us! We met her and the meeting went really well. She had it narrowed down to us and another couple. We were her #1 pick. The counselor said, “Birthmoms almost always go with their first choice. It’s just to make sure that they made the right decision.”  She didn’t pick us. That was a humbling experience and we would love to know the reason she went with the other couple, but we know that God had other plans.

I started jabbering at her.  Understandably, she was looking at me kind of nervous.  I told her my name and then I’m pretty sure I said something ridiculous like, “Did you place a baby for adoption?”   Did I just say that out loud?

I told her my name again along with Wes’ name and she said, “Oh yeah!”  I then remembered how much she loved Wes.  She has good taste.

We just assumed that this uniquely-named, nice lady would move back to the Gary area.  I’m so thankful that God allowed our paths to cross again.

We hugged.  She told me about her little girl and how she gets pictures every 3 months…and this month is one of those months…and she’s checking her mail every day for those pictures.

She gave me an update about her life and I could tell that she was proud.  She has her older children back, she has a job and she has a house and I believe her.

I started to get all teary-eyed as I told her how humbling it was to not be chosen, but that we knew that God had a different plan for our family.  I wasn’t teary-eyed because of the not-being-chosen-part but because I was holding in my arms the different plan that God had for us.

God wants me to pray for her.  I just know it.

And I can’t wait to go back to The Salvation Army.

_________________________________

beach familyAbby and her college sweetheart husband Wes began the journey of domestic adoption in 2009. Blessed with a (more than they had planned but oh so thankful for it) open adoption experience, they were able to witness the birth of their first child Max in the summer of 2010. Little brother Sam joined their team in September of 2012. Wes and Abby are trusting God as he leads them in their relationship with their sons’ birth families. You can follow their story at Akers of Love.

Of My Own

“If Mommy gets a baby in her belly, will you send me back?” she asked him, with nervous eyes searching the floor, inhaling the shame of those words as if they were her indictment.

It’s often near the surface for this one — not the year she was “chosen” and a mommy and daddy flew all the way across the ocean to look her in the eyes and call her daughter — but the too-many, earlier years that still seem to weigh heavier. These days, she lives buoyant and giddy. Her eyes have found a sparkle and we see them more than we see those hands that spent nearly a year awkwardly covering them. My little girl laughs. A lot. And this week when I hugged her I could tell her body wanted to melt (not stiffen) in my arms.

But just within her reach is the shame she feels about her life on the other side, when her given last name tied her to no one. One phrase or question or hint of her past and I watch those eyes, which just harnessed a sparkle, go dark.

Adoption saved her and it haunts her, because of its open-ended definition to her. It’s still a question.

She, like many of the rest of us, has yet to reconcile the power of this one act.

+++

I hadn’t even kissed their foreheads or tickled their feet and this stranger’s words about them stung.

“Oh, you’re adopting? Just you wait. Once you have them at home I’m sure you’ll be able to have children of your own.”

A phrase I’ve heard a hundred times, and it never ceases to give my heart pause. Children of your own, words that expose a subconscious understanding of adoption as charitable affection versus primal love. As if these, once-adopted ones, were somehow, not truly … mine.

There is a distinction in our language about those children, once adopted, and their biological counterparts that reveals much more about the state of our hearts — the state of my heart — than it does about the children to whom it’s referring.

Orphan MJ

That simple phrase, often spoken by beautifully-intentioned people**, reveals the shame under which my daughter sometimes lives. But she’s not alone, she just lives an outward existence that represents the battle each one of us fights in our understanding of Him.

It is inherent to human flesh. We are interlopers, or so we think, hanging on to the coattails of another person’s inheritance. Certainly we’re not “one of His own”, we hold deep-down; instead we grasp at something we believe will never really name us. We are simply recipients of His charitable affections, we subconsciously reason.

Our language about physical adoption reveals the gaps in our understanding about how He has adopted us. And those words that sting when I hear them make me hurt more than just for my children, but for the representation of His name.

Most can’t imagine a love beyond what we see in the natural as the most intense form of love — the kind birthed when a mother’s body breaks open to give life to one that shared her flesh and her breath. How could it be that a mother could not only love, but see as her own, a child that her womb did not form and who wears another mama’s skin? We see the struggle of attaching, mother to child and child to mother, that so often happens in adoption, and it only reinforces our subconscious belief that true love between mother and child is only inherited through blood … and not won.

Lion MJ

+++

When her eyes fill with the shame of her history and her heart begins to clamp behind them and adoption is still her question — am I truly “in” or just posing – I see me. I see a hundred weak yes’s as just plain weak and all the things I’ve declared with my mouth that my body never fulfilled and the times I poured out prayers to Him only to forget Him, the real source of my strength, hours later.

I see a never-ending list of failures.

I live, subtly, as if I am on the outside of that fence. Just like her.

Barbed Fence MJ

All things that could be wiped away in an instant if I understood the power of His having adopted me. This reality changes everything.

I am a child of His own, this God-Man who wrapped His holiness around my sin-stained existence and renamed me.

Adopted.

Grafted.

Ducks MJ

I am one who is marked by His name more than any of my failures.

A child who knows that adoption isn’t really about the past that haunts her, the forever stamp of separate, not included, but instead the name of the King who fought, hard for her — she wears a love that is fierce.

Daddy

She’s a force with which to be reckoned, this wildly-loved former-orphan.

Me.

+++

So when I hear that phrase “a child of your own” separating the children under my roof from the one my womb will bear, and my heart saddens at the misunderstanding of this wild-love that’s been birthed within my home* among children who wear another mama’s skin, I can’t help but think of Him.

He calls me “His own” when the world and my heart wants to label me forever severed.

Adoption is His great declaration.

*For the mama who has children “of her own” wearing different skin: This love we birthed, when we signed countless papers and spent sleepless nights waiting and fell in love with a picture or a name before we heard a heartbeat, is other but still very much His. To love them fiercely, like blood, requires an unnatural impartation of His love, in and through us. It’s not normal, but it is fully possible. In Him.

If you’re wrestling under the weight of the “not yet” that you feel towards them or the “not yet” that they demonstrate towards you, don’t shrink back. This gap is merely His opportunity to move. Now, more than ever, it’s your time to pray and to ask and to hope for Him to bind your family with a beautiful love that can only point back to His name.

**For those looking for a new term: There is grace to learn, and learn now. If you are like me, you have likely been one who learns what not to say by saying it several times the wrong way :) . You are in good company.

The term we and many other adoptive families prefer to use to distinguish a child born into a family versus one adopted into a family is “biological child”. We, personally, prefer not to refer to our children as “adopted children” as we see adoption as having been a one-time event. We just call them our children. (And this leaves room for all the other adjectives that define them;)). If we need to distinguish, we’ll say “we have four children who were adopted.” But that’s just our personal preference. No need to stumble over your words around us, we’re all learning — there is grace for you to stumble while you learn!

Photos compliments of Mandie Joy (who is currently fostering a baby, stateside! Pop on over to her blog to catch a glimpse of those baby-toes.)

For Your Continued Pursuit (verses on adoption): Ephesians 1:4-6 | Galatians 4:5-7 | 1 John 3:1 (&2) | Romans 9:26 | Romans 8:14-16 | Romans 8:21,23 | Ephesians 2:19 | Romans 9:8 | John 1:13 | Isaiah 43:7 | Psalm 27:10 | Hebrews 12:6 | Revelation 21:7 | Hebrews 2:10 | Ephesians 3:15 | John 11:25 | Psalm 68:5-6 | Psalm 10:14, 17-18

  _________________________________

Sara Hagerty

Sara Hagerty

Sara is a wife to Nate and a mother of four (and one on the way) whose birth canal bridged the expanse between the United States and Africa. After almost a decade of Christian life she was introduced to pain and perplexity and, ultimately, intimacy with Jesus. God met her and moved her when life stopped working. And out of the overflow of this perplexity, came her writing.You can read more of her writing at Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet.

A Letter to My Daughter from Her Homeland

My dear daughter,

When I came out of the airport concourse and saw the sea of dark heads and Chinese faces calling out for the person they were waiting for, it all came flooding back to me. I remember turning to look at your Daddy with wide eyes and the frantically searching for an unfamiliar someone with a sign who was waiting for us. This time, it was a friend who yelled my name and ran to meet me. Last time I was in China, I came for my daughter—you. This time, I came for a different purpose as we start a new season of our lives.

As I walked around Beijing today, I was surrounded by people taking pictures of the landmarks—the old city wall, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City. They are breathtaking. But, I found myself taking pictures of something else entirely—families. In a city full of one of the richest histories in the world, I am looking at a mother walking along the sidewalk with her son, letting him dictate the speed of their stroll based on his curiosity alone. I am studying the father comforting his crying baby, seemingly unaware of the fanfare going on around him. I am zooming in on the mother and father laughing as their little one begs to play with his phone.

kids in china5

kids in china4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think of you constantly here. In every child’s face, I think of yours. And, like a bride-to-be longs for people to see the ring on her finger and know she will soon be walking down the aisle, I find myself longing to show the people around me some sort of sign that I have a daughter who is Chinese too. When the mother smiles back at me, I want her to know. In place of a ring, I wear the charm around my neck with your name.

“Ah, Mei yue? That is your name?”

“No, it’s my daughter’s name. I have a daughter from Baoji.”

“Baoji? Shaanxi? Ah….”

It doesn’t change a thing—I’m still an American; they are still Chinese. The differences between us are obvious, enough to often cause them to stop and stare. But, they see my eyes light up when I speak of you and can begin to understand why I’m here. You are a bridge between us, my dear daughter who is both fully Chinese and fully American. Because of you, my sweet one, a living, breathing, walking expression of love, the people can start to understand why I’m here, why I love this place, why I feel as if it is an extension of our home on the other side of the world.

Last time I was in China, I came for a daughter. This time, I came with a daughter.

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KellyRaudenbushForever changed by our experience of being adopted and adopting, Kelly is a stay-at-home mom/manager to 4 children and a professional juggler, juggling her calling as wife and mother with her secondary callings (editing and serving adoptive families through The Sparrow Fund). You can learn more about their adoption story, how they’ve been changed, and what life for them looks like on their personal blog.

For a Moment, She Was a Baby

For a moment, she was a baby.

Having just climbed out of the bathtub, she was warm in her pink hooded towel. In a sweet, soft voice she whispered “I want you to cuddle me.” Those few words were all it took for me to stop my world of selfish business and look at this sweet sister of mine who was craving physical touch. I wrapped her tightly in that pink towel, picked her up, and placed her on my lap.

She nestled her head close to my body, and I held her like a baby, rocking gently back-and-forth. Her big, blue eyes locked with mine, much like that of an infant, and for a moment, I forgot I was holding a four-year-old.

I kissed her forehead and rubbed her still-soft babylike skin. The usually rambunctious child sat in silence, giving my mind opportunity to wander.

For a moment, she was a baby.

I thought of her first Christmas, one that was spent with a foster family who got to hold and cuddle her. I thought of the months that followed, the homes that followed, the people that bounced in and out of her life. I thought of her first birthday and her first steps. Who were the people cheering her on, encouraging her, advocating for her?

For a moment, she was a baby.

And I missed it.

And sometimes my heart hurts for those precious moments of my little sisters baby-hood that I will never know.

Selfishly, I wish I had been the one feeding her bottles, rocking her to sleep at night, watching her take her first steps, spending her first Christmas with her, and taking pictures of her smashing into her first cake.

I will never know all that went on for the first 34 months of Sunshine’s life, and the first 5 years of Princess’ life. I grieve for that precious time lost with them, but even more, I grieve for them and the many losses they experienced.

I see it on their minds a lot these days. Princess is asking questions and seeking answers. Just yesterday, while walking hand-in-hand with my mom, she asked “so were the boys adopted too?”

“Yes, they were.”

“So they were in somebody else’s tummy?, she pressed.

“Yes” my mom answered, “Kylee was the last baby in my tummy, but that doesn’t make you any less my daughter.”

“I know”, she confidently replied.

As family traditions are pulled out, relatives come in and out for visits, and memories are talked about and laughed over this holiday season, I am continually reminded that for kids from hard places, this is a challenging time of the year. My little sisters hurts and insecurities seem to be spotlighted this time of the year, and as I watch them hurt, my love and respect for them continues to grow deeper.

As Sunshine sat there on my lap, breathing steadily against my chest, I noticed a sense of peacefulness about her, a peacefulness that comes with security and belonging. Those moments, those precious, precious moments from her babyhood, they are gone. But we have moments like these, moments when she initiates cuddling after bath time, in which I see tremendous amounts of growth in her; growth which reminds me that her heavenly Daddy has journeyed with her through every event of her life and has ordained each moment in a beautiful, perfect way.

For a moment, she was a baby.

She got to be a baby in my arms, allowing herself to be soothed by someone who cares and loves for her more than I might ever be able to express to her.

She was a baby, resting safely in the arms of her big sister.

Safe in my arms.

Fastened tightly by His love.

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headshot1Kylee is a college student who is passionately pursuing a degree in Social Work while simultaneously learning what it means to be a big sister to kids from “hard places”.  Her parents jumped into the crazy world of foster care just days before her 8th birthday for numerous infants and toddlers over a ten year time span;  four of those children became permanent family members through adoption.  Kylee loves sharing about foster care and adoption and is passionate about advocating on behalf of vulnerable children on her blog Learning to Abandon.



		

A Peek from His Vantage Point

Lately God has been inviting me to look at our adoptions from His vantage point–kind of like a bird’s eye view/big picture perspective. I want to share this with you because I have found this perspective to be so refreshing and helpful. It has lifted and empowered me to love my children better. How kind of our Father to take my hand and say, “Come up here for a moment, Beth. I have something I want to show you…..” The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets to Dwell In. (Isaiah 58:11-12 AMP) God’s clear intent expressed throughout scripture is to restore who we are meant to be. We are talking full recovery. His holy intent is to wholly restore!

For many of our children there are generations of “ancient ruins” and “age-old foundations” that God wants to rebuild, and many whose inheritance apart from adoption is not one of wholeness and abundant life.

How amazing is it that we can be a part of the giving and receiving of a new inheritance, of a complete legacy shift, so that future generations no longer inherit abandonment, rejection, alcoholism, abuse, neglect, or other manifestations of a broken world. To see our children embrace love and then have the freedom to give love, to see them learn to enjoy life and to make plans for their future, rather than only decisions for survival that day–this is just incredible! Oh what a shift adoption is making in the trajectory of a generational line! Is this not amazing to be a part of?! It is the gospel at work in our families, and it is powerful and oh so good!!

Our God thinks and moves generationally, not merely circumstantially. He is in the circumstance, in the moment, absolutely! I’m sure you are like me and know Him to be “an ever-present help in time of need.” (Psalm 46:1) But from this birds’ eye perspective, we see that God is up to some amazing things with our adoptions or fostering that go way beyond the circumstance of the moment.

So, what you are fighting for right now–reams of paper work in order to bring your child home, government regulations and international laws, meltdowns or rages, attachment or trauma issues–may have more to do with the seeds in your child that will bear fruit in future generations than it has to do with the circumstance you are in right now.

The adoptions of our children, Kristina, Pasha, Andrei, and Sergei, were not just about Kristina, Pasha, Andrei, and Sergei. God is showing me that our adoptions were also about their children, and their children’s children for generations to come.

The truth is that when Stephen and I were first called to adopt we didn’t see the grand vista that Father God was seeing of the generations to come. We saw our children, and that was grand enough for us! That God would rescue our children from their relinquished state was overwhelming in itself, and still has the power to bring me to my knees. Such a thing is too lofty for me to attain, as the psalmist says in Psalm 139.

Our intent was to adopt children; God’s intent was to change the lives of generations of children to come.

And you know what we have found to be even more exciting?! These legacy shifts are not limited to our adopted and foster children. Adoption changes us and our birth children too. Listen to what our daughter Rachel wrote on our Hope at Home blog: I could write a book on this experience, on adoption and how it has affected my life, and my family’s life, but what I really want to emphasize is that adoption has not only dramatically changed me, but has come to define my life and my view of the world around me. As many of you surely know, melding individuals who previously knew nothing of each other into the most intimate of relationships–a family–is a weighty venture that has the potential to redeem and restore broken lives, for both those who are adopted and the family into which they are adopted. Our adoptions have changed and shaped my life completely. When I meet new people I talk about adoption; when I wrote my college application essays I wrote about adoption; when I picked my major I thought about adoption; when I show friends family photos I talk about adoption. I say all this to show that adoption doesn’t just change those who are brought into your family – it changes you to the core. It expands you, challenges you, and fills you up until it overflows into every area of your life.One thing I know for certain is that God’s love is infinite, his heart is universal, and his vision is endless. God bridged the gap between each of my family members, connecting us with threads of supernatural love that cannot be broken and that pulled and shaped us into a wholly unconventional and wholly beautiful family. Yes it’s hard, and there were bumps and bruises on all sides, from having to share my friends with Kristina to getting used to having smelly, loud boys in the house (who were also handsome and wonderful of course). And yes my family doesn’t look like many peoples’. But thank God that he is strong enough to heal the broken parts in all of us, and to not be constricted by terms like “normal families”. I love my family, and I love God for bringing it together in such a powerful and beautiful way.

To be honest, it’s not like I wake up every morning and contemplate the grandness of God’s purposes for future generations! I wake up thinking about my needs, my children’s needs, grocery lists, school meetings and car pools. It doesn’t come naturally for me to think in terms of living for something bigger than myself, but it does come supernaturally!

So as you and I are living out our days, parenting our children in the circumstance of the now, let us remember that every prayer that we pray for our child, every word of life that we speak into and over him or her, every breakthrough in attachment, every sacrifice of love, every dinner time conversation–it all is an inheritance we are leaving for the next generation.

Adoption is having a ripple effect into eternity, friends! This is a work of love that is often costly, but when I see from God’s perspective the beautiful work of enduring love that He has invited me to co-labor in, I am humbled and honestly overwhelmed to be a part of something so grand in it’s scope. When I see how He is restoring me and my whole family, when I see that He has invited me to participate in the breaking of generational bondages, the canceling of curses, the building streets to dwell in, the rebuilding of ancient ruins, and the restoring of stolen heritages that will affect future generations, I am excited once again to love my children in and through every stage of their lives.

Father, thank you for this invitation to co-labor with you in Your amazing work of restoring and enduring love. I am not up to the task, but oh how exciting to be able to be a part of such a beautiful thing with the One who is the Great Adopter and Restorer, the One who is able. Lord, I yield myself once again to Your plan for my family and I thank you for your great love that extends into the generations to come. Would You cause the inheritance that I leave to be one of eternal significance and a blessing to my children’ children’s children? Thank You and Amen.

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Beth Templeton

Beth Templeton

Beth has been married to her husband Stephen for 27 years. They have seven children, ages 18-24. Several years after giving birth to three girls God called their family to the adventure and blessing of adoption. In 2000 they brought home a brother and sister, ages 5 and 10, from Russia. Then they returned to the same orphanage 18 months later and brought home two more brothers, ages 7 and 10. Beth’s heart has been deeply and forever changed as she has watched the love of Father God poured out on her whole family through adoption. She leads Hope at Home, a ministry dedicated to help adoptive and foster parents encounter the Father’s heart for their families, partnering with God to transform orphans into sons and daughters. For more parenting insight and encouragement in the Lord, go to hopeathome.org.