Monthly Archives: March 2014


“I know it’s not THAT papaya…..but I still can’t bring myself to try it.”  

Years ago, I used to love papaya…..
until that fateful afternoon in tropical Costa Rica, when eating a bad papaya made me so weakly dehydrated from food poisoning that I had to suffer the repeated humiliation of being carred to the commode by my new husband.

Even though that was over 30 years ago and I KNOW that today’s papaya is not THAT papaya, my stomach still turns in disinterest at the sight of one.

My papaya story has helped me understand how some of our children felt after having suffered great harm at the hands of their first parents; while we know and they know that we are not THOSE parents, the experience of fear and rejection and self-protection often seems woven into their very framework.

And all of these emotions often come to the surface during the teen years, when each of us has to work on figuring out who we are.

One particular day I was surprised to hear these words from my beautiful, outgoing, winsome,16 year-old, “Every day when I look in the mirror I always am wondering….”
“Wondering about what?” I asked.
“Wondering if she every thinks about me and remembers me and wonders how I am doing.”

The ‘she,’ of course, was her Russian mama, whom she had not seen since age 4 when she was taken away from her home by the authorities.

It was during this same time period that outbursts of rage would sometimes arise like an unpredictable thunder storm. I would hear things like,
“You are NOTHING to me! I am going to tear up those x*&$@# adoption papers and you will be NOTHING to me! NOTHING!”

I cried because I felt so deeply saddened and confused and desperate for some comfort from above, and for some wisdom and insight into the cause of such outbursts, and for some leading about how to respond in love.

Only later did I come to understand reflection. She was reflecting what she felt in that mirror: one feeling rejected naturally reflects rejection. And as the mama or daddy, at this moment we can choose to reflect rejection or distance or judgment or anger or disdain BACK to them, OR we can, instead, reflect Jesus’ unconditional and indestructible love to them.

In other words, we can respond out of who God is and not out of how we feel (read Ezekiel 20 in the Message!…you will see this 4 times!).  When I think about reflecting who God is, I think of being gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

It is as if Jesus is ever whispering to us, “Copy me, not them.” It is what Paul says in Ephesians 1 “Be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love.”

I think of this as attachment reordered God’s love helping me respond rather than react.

Allowing me to reflect Him, not them.

And with time, we are seeing they have this same attachment reordering that I do…..becoming secure in how much God loves them, in spite of the failures of even those they most expected love from.

So how did all this end up?

After years of rebellion, this same child tells me Sunday night, “Mom, you are the person I try to copy!”

Amazing grace….aaammmmaaazzzziiinggg grace!!!!

Susan Hillis, PhD, MS- has been a believer for 38 years, married to a godly servant for 36, a mother for 27, a US government federal official for 20, and a university professor for 10 years. She is the mother of 11 children, 8 of whom were adopted from Russia after the tragic death of her first-born son on the day before his tenth birthday. It is her deep joy and privilege to have received untold personal blessings from the living God. She has worked and ministered in countries in South America, Africa, and Eastern Europe. She participates widely as an invited speaker at scientific and Christian conferences. She has published more than 80 articles in scientific medical journals and is considered one of the leading infectious diseases experts on the HIV risk among vulnerable youth around the world. Dr. Hillis is a recent recipient of the Outstanding Service Medal as a Captain in the U.S. Public Health Service.
During her married life she has worn many hats, including stay-at-home mom, graduate student, missionary, government official, nurse, scientist, and university professor. She has experienced infertility, caring for a son with a fatal heart condition, loss of her son through a fatal biking accident, and 8 international adoptions of older children from Russian orphanages. She, her husband, and their 10 children recently lost their home in the 2009 Atlanta floods, which were declared a presidential disaster.  Her experience suggests that God’s goodness is bigger than all the storms of life.
You can read more of Susan’s encouragement at Hope at Home.

Adoption Update: Masterpieces Take Time


Kate Eschbach Photography-12jpga


Tonight’s phone call was to tell us that all adoption paperwork has been completed and the final petition will be filed with the courts on Monday.

A huge weight has been lifted. I feel like I could sleep for days. So many times, I wanted to write here and ask for prayers, but I was scared of the questions – “Why is it taking so long?”, “What is the hold up?”

Kate Eschbach Photography-7jpga

I guess the biggest reason I was nervous about sharing was because I didn’t have any answers. It seemed like it was just one thing after another. More paperwork, more changes. On Monday evening, I spent an hour in our adoration chapel – on my knees – really giving things over to God. I told Him that I just was at a loss for why things were taking so long. I knew I needed to trust, but I was just tired. I tried to quiet my thoughts and my heart and just listen.

I was met with silence; a peaceful silence.  In my short life, I can tell you that I have no doubt, even when my hands are empty, that God is holding it all together. He never fails to follow me into the murkiness of life and bring me out on the other side.

Tonight I am a mix of giddy, relieved, exhausted, and thankful.

Kate Eschbach Photography-5jpga

Next up : the court date – you should start bracing yourselves for the ridiculous amount of pictures that will happen.

Kate Eschbach Photography-2jpga

Is it easy to Praise Him when things happen that we like?  Absolutely.

I hope that my heart will always be bound so tightly to His that I will always praise, regardless of the circumstance.


Kate Eschbach Photography-3jpgaKate is a professional photographer, enjoys handwritten correspondance and may break out in musical numbers at any time.  She and her husband, Brian, have been married since 1999.  They have two biological children – Julia, 13 and Nate, 10 – and they are in the process of adopting an adorable three year old, named Riley.  She is a Texas girl and has lived in Scottsdale for 5 wonderful (and hot!) years.  She writes a personal blog named, Songs Kate Sang.  She is passionate about encouraging and serving others!

His Plan.

Sometimes I stand and just stare at my children in disbelief. Sometimes I still almost can’t believe God chose us to parent them. After all the pain and distress of infertility, His plan rocked my world.

His beautiful, amazing, precious children, entrusted to us.

I think again about the agony their birth parents must have felt as they walked away from those sweet little babes, never to look back.

I think again about things they experienced that we will never know about.

I think about the time in their precious lives that we missed.

I think about my anguish and distress and that all consuming desire I had to have a child.

But through all this God had a plan.

He patiently waited for us to seek Him. He wanted us to stop focusing on our problems and to turn our eyes to Him.

THEN He showed us His plan.

A plan for our lives and a plan for their lives.

A plan that was and still is far beyond our understanding or comprehension.

A plan I am living day after day.

So when uncertainty surrounds us in our lives as is so apt to happen, what do we do?

Do we turn our eyes to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith?

Are you ready for HIS PLAN?

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 May 2011 on Mother’s Day from Fuzhou City, Fujian Province, China. And, their son, Anthony Jianyou, joined their family in January 2013 from Shanghai. After a career in politics, Suzanne now works as a Pilates instructor and teacher trainer while home schooling their children, writing and working as a part of the Sparrow Fund Blog leadership team. You can follow their adoption journey and life on her blog, Surpassing

What Was I Thinking?

It may seem a bit odd, but I love to take pictures of my girls sleeping.  Besides the fact that they all seem so sweet as they peacefully sleep, I often find myself marveling at the fact that they are even here.  These children, gifted by God, were desperately prayed for, cried over, and pursued.  There were many years of uncertainty that they would ever fill this room, these beds.  And yet, here they are!









Away from the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day chaos of raising three girls so close in age, watching them sleep is also a time when I think back over what it took to get them here.  And while there is mostly just amazement when I think of what God did, I’m surprised by how often recounting their story brings up almost a sense of fear in me.  Miss L’s story in particular brings thoughts of I can’t believe God did that and I followed!  That is so unlike me!  I must have been crazy, because that is something I would never do!  What in the world was I thinking…

…saying yes to doing an independent international adoption?

…saying yes to adopting from a country that has only done 6 foreign adoptions in the last 7 years?

…being our own travel agent and navigating travel requirements in Bhutan and India? 

…taking the risk that the US Consulate wouldn’t issue her a US visa?

…piecing together what hoops to jump through without an agency’s help?

…riding in a taxi by myself to the Consulate in New Delhi?

Seriously, I was crazy!

But what I’m finding is that just like God is in the business of giving grace for the day, I also believe He gives us bravery when it is necessary.  Looking back it is easy to see reasons to be terrified, and while I certainly had a sense of fear at the time of her adoption, I had a greater sense of God calling us to it that overcame my own hesitations.

One of my favorite verses is Habakkuk 3:17-19. (Amplified)

Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines, [though] the product of the olive fails and the fields yield no food, though the flock is cut off from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the [victorious] God of my salvation!
The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!

Throughout the longing and yearning phases of building our family, I drew comfort in the first two verses.  Though I didn’t yet have what I desperately wanted, I was determined to rejoice in the Lord. My focus was on the word yet.

But in these hurried days of raising these girls who have remarkable God-stories, I find myself drawn to the last verse. Looking back in amazement at how God brought them to us and how He chose to use me in the process, and I am more convinced than ever that He was my personal bravery.

In circumstances that today would make me say no way, He gave me the strength and desire at that moment to move forward.

In situations that today would make me say that is too risky, He gave me the courage in those days to press on.

So today, when I am faced with parenting challenges that seem to great for me, may I lean on Him to give me the strength, courage, and wisdom necessary to press on.

He was my personal bravery in the amazing circumstances of Miss L’s adoption, may He be so again today.                                          __________________________________________

stephanie smit18 years in the classroom as a teacher was easy compared to parenting three little ones at home full-time. Through their three daughters, God has revealed Himself most clearly to Stephanie and her husband Matthew. 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. Nowadays she enjoys encouraging and connecting with other adoptive families through her work on the leadership team of “We Are Grafted In”.  You can read more about their family on their personal blog We Are Family.


An Unwelcome House Guest

It’s been pretty quiet here in my little corner of the blogosphere. I know. We’ve been in a hard season with things. This season has been exhausting. Frustrating. Desperate. Isolating. Painful. Exhausting. Draining. The pace of our household has hardly relented in deference to the hard season. It couldn’t.
I can tell you exactly when it started.
Let me tell you the story.
In early December, Trauma came to visit. He snuck into the house, bringing Control, Anxiety, and Fear with him. They are the kind of house guest that rolls into your pretty little guest room unannounced. The kind of house guest that brings his unpleasant friends stowed away in his suitcase before you can even process that his suitcase has been tossed on your guest bed. On the good linens no less. They are the kind of house guest the adage speaks of: “Company and fish start to stink after three days.”
Let me tell you, it stunk way sooner than three days.
It seems as if Mei Mei’s first surgery brought Trauma out of hiding. It’s totally understandable and we knew to expect it from lots of previous experiences – Trauma lurks in those hospitals for lots of kids. Kids from great, loving, nurturing beginnings. Kids from hard places. Kids with serious sicknesses. Kids with simple playground accidents. But it really feels like he was waiting for her in that room. Hiding under that oh-so-institutional crib cage. Hovering under the ugly, rough blankets.
Worse, he felt it necessary to follow her home from the hospital. He toyed with her, making a game of randomly waking her. He got his buddy to help. Fear clutched at her throat. Trauma whipped Control into a frenzy of raging tantrums over peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that weren’t cut “just so.” He’d whisper in Anxiety’s ear a teensy little musing, thus starting the “Telephone Game” of insecurities repeated and grossly warped beyond recognition by the time they got to my girl’s ear. It took us a few weeks of muscling through our own sleep deprivation and the dirty laundry of these unwelcome guests to figure out that they thought they were here to stay.
When the awareness took root that these weren’t visitors, but squatters, The Boss and I dug into our bag of spiritual warfare tactics and started making things very uncomfortable for these intruders. It’s been hard work, this remediation of the damage they sought to inflict. It’s taken all of our energies. Certain Fruits of the Spirit have gotten extra work-outs, through the muddle of sleep deprivation.

{Really, moms, isn’t the irregular sort of sleep deprivation the worst kind of all? I think I could probably get used to 4-5 hours of sleep if that was the new norm. But 8 hours, then 4, then 6 then 4 again? Oh.MY.WORD.}

Scripture is being spoken, sung, hummed, and prayed. The new rocking chair is logging many, many miles. Old hymns of Truth and Promise are being called to mind, used as lullabies, even if the verses are mixed up and tunes are badly mangled. The security and anchor of The Word that my folks encouraged me to memorize and sink deeply into my heart as a young believer are pouring out when I’m too tired to coherently put together my own prayer.
Practical things had to be tended to, to aid the eviction of the unwanted tenants. So January was spent re-establishing household routines and my beloved systems.(Gasp! Yes, even I was shocked at how long it took me to get back on that bandwagon I so love!) I grocery shopped multiple times between snow storms. I baked and cooked whenever the snow dumped on us, and we were snowed in. Menu planning, preparation of the daily dinner, and laundry days all were re-instituted. Many days those tasks were literally ALL that I could handle. But handle them I did. Anxiety had no choice but to pipe down in the wake of the loud, proud boasting of permanence and structure that our return to routines gave. I much prefer when Security and Confidence hang out with my gang, don’t you?
February was focused on establishing some kind of social schedule for the little extroverted Mei Mei and her extrovert momma. Too many unstructured days staying home all day gave Trauma and Control way too much freedom to wreak their havoc. Play dates here at home and busy mornings out to do our errands made way for Joy, Cooperation, and Peace to hang out with us. It continues to amaze to me just HOW much of an extrovert this little girl is!
And while we aren’t certain that Trauma has left the building just yet, we do feel as if he’s recognized that his days are numbered. When he slinks off into the darkness and muck from whence he came, he will have no choice but to pack up his traveling mates with him. The foundation upon which we have built our home has made Trauma’s stay an uncomfortable one and he’s learning that we cannot, WILL NOT co-habitate with him.
Since our name is on the mortgage, he’s the one that’s got to go.


tracyTracy, aka The Gang’s Momma, has been married to Todd, aka The Boss, for almost 24 years. Together they parent 6 kids (ages 19, 18, 14, 12, 6 & 2 ½).  She loves to read, write, cry over weekly episodes of Parenthood, and share a good cup of coffee with a friend. A confirmed extrovert, Tracy has met her match in their newest daughter for both strength of will and love of socializing. While parenting her two youngest who came home through China’s special needs program is definitely the most challenging thing she’s ever done (between attachment issues & some complicated medical needs), the Lord is also using it to make her a stronger, better mommy. (At least that’s what she tells herself over her 2nd or 3rd giant Tigger mug full of coffee almost every day!)  You can find the occasional musings of the momma at


What Adoption Won’t Do

Adoption is a topic close to my heart. My husband, Matt, and I adopted our twoyoungest children. After having our oldest son, we were not able to have morebiological kids due to a rare medical issue I didn’t even know I had. We adopted ouryounger son as an infant and are still waiting to go to court to finalize the adoptionof our daughter, who came home in November at age four. Their stories are here

and here.

In our seven years as part of the adoption community, we’ve noticed some common

misconceptions. I want to help clear some things up for you, especially if you’re

considering adoption for your family.

What Adoption Won’t Do:

Erase the pain of infertility
. We tried for longer than I would have liked to have

our son, and I distinctly remember the grief that came every month. I didn’t expect

the same kind of pain with secondary infertility (after all, at least I already had one

baby, right?), but there it was. It turns out that having a child (or more than one)

doesn’t make infertility any easier. Our biological son is now nine, and I still grieve

the loss of the ability to conceive, carry, and deliver another child. Our two adopted

children bring such joy to our lives, but they do not erase the pain of infertility and

cannot be expected to. If you are considering adoption after infertility, please give

yourself time to really experience and grieve your loss before adopting.

Make you a savior. If you are going into adoption with the idea that you’ll ride in

on a white horse to rescue a child who will in turn be appreciative and loving, you’re

setting yourself up for disappointment. No matter the age of the child being adopted,

you are not their rescuer. God is. When you reverse those roles, you will set the

stage for resentment and an unhealthy dynamic. God is the only one who rescuesIf

He calls you to adopt, let Him do the rescuing. The best thing you can do is to obey

and thank Him for letting you play a part in that child’s life.

Allow you to parent the same way you parent your biological kids. Adoption

is born out of loss. The birth family and child have all experienced deep loss, and

the adoptive family has often had their own losses as well. Adoptive parenting has

to be different from parenting our biological kids because of the child’s history.

Whether infant or older child adoption, the loss of their birth family plays a role in

their development, attachment, self-concept, and relationships. We can love our

children the same regardless of how they joined our family, but we need to parent

them differently.

Make your marriage better
. Whether you’ve endured years of infertility or are

adopting because it’s what God has put on your heart, adoption will not make

your marriage better. It’s easy to think “if only we had a baby, things would be

better.” No more hormones, no more monthly disappointments, no more doctor’s

appointments. Or maybe for you, it seems like your marriage was so much better

when you were both focused on your babies; and now that they’re older, things are

more difficult again. Whatever the case, adoption is difficult and adds stress to a

marriage and family. It doesn’t “fix” anything.

Make your life easier. This one is probably obvious. Adoption, when done with

intentionality, is hard. And that doesn’t end when the baby or child is in your arms.

That’s only the beginning. Adoption is heart-wrenching and overwhelming at

times. I’ve sat with our six-year-old son while he wept over not knowing his birth

family and not being able to fully understand why he was placed for adoption. Our

daughter has wounds only God can heal. She has emotional triggers that we may

never know the root of. And we grieve too because we didn’t see her first steps or

hear her first words. We didn’t get to rock her to sleep or soothe her when she cried.

Whatever the circumstances, adoption is hard for everyone involved.

But what adoption does is more powerful than anything it doesn’t do.

Adoption has brought our family together in a way only God could orchestrate.

His hand has been evident in every step. He literally provided a father for our two

fatherless children, and is the Heavenly Father for us all. We will forever be grateful

for the gift of all three of our children and on our knees with humility that we have

the honor of parenting them.

Adoption has given us a glimpse into God’s grace like nothing else could.

The grace I show my children when they act out is only a tiny shadow of the Grace I’ve received(and continue to need daily). The financial and emotional cost of adopting ourchildren is nothing compared to the cost of my own adoption by God. In order forme to become His daughter, God sacrificed His only Son.Adoption has revealed God’s love for us like we hadn’t seen before. When we look at

our adopted children with the same love we have for the one who shares our genes,

we grasp a little bit more the love God has for us. When He looks at me, He doesn’t

see second-best. He sees His daughter.

Adoption is hard. But it’s worth it.


Becca WhitsonBecca Whitson writes with her husband Matt at They write about marriage, parenting, and life through the lens of a married couple, parenting team, and pastor and professional counselor. Their desire is to provide hope and restoration by giving you a glimpse into their lives- the failures, the successes, and the brokenness and beauty of everyday.



As a mother, I am always measuring my parenting by the Word.

I especially desire to have my parenting be a foundation for my children as they begin to develop a relationship with God of their own. My prayer and my hope is that the things I have taught them, the way I have disciplined them and trained them, the character I have shown them will be a good reflection of our Heavenly Father. I know that I am not perfect and that I will make mistakes, but my desire is that my parenting and actions help them to have an accurate idea of who the Father is.


This is my desire for all of my children,
but I can see the need for this even more clearly with my adoptive children.

And so often as a parent, you learn about God from your children.


But even more so, with my adoptive children,
I see the parallels of myself and my own salvation.

I can see how much they need to see a reflection of that kind of love through me, because I remember how much I needed to know that love. I remember how hurt and bruised and empty and broken and distrustful of people I was when I first came to Him. I remember how I had grossly inaccurate perspectives of the kind of God He was. I remember how much I needed to learn to trust Him.


Years of suspicion, fear, rejection.
Being let down and forgotten.
Stepped on, abused, taken advantage of.

This was me at once.
To some degree this was my children.
This was some of you in one form or another before we knew Him,
or when we have walked away and rejected His love.


I see a HUGE need for me to teach all my children to TRUST me,
and especially my adoptive children.

What they deeply need me to instill in their hearts with my everyday actions is that they can TRUST me. They can trust my love for them and ultimately God’s love. To show them I will be faithful to love and forgive them, stand by and defend them. And that when I make mistakes, I will honestly seek forgiveness and own up to my own wrong actions.


I know this may sound elementary.
I know you guys have all read the Connected Child. ;)

But I think if you’re like me and miss it sometimes
you probably need to be reminded of these things sometimes,
who are we kidding,


When I am trying to control myself as I kindly correct my child, and they hear that slightly detectable change of tone and completely shut-down.

I hear the voice of the Lord whispering,
“Teach them they can trust you. Teach them they can trust Me.”

And I remember how patient the Father is with me.

When I see them again doing that behavior I thought we had addressed.

I remember how faithful God has been to me to help me renew my mind to His Word.

When I see them have a physical need and not come to me with it for help,
either from lack of sensitivity to pain or from the lingering misconception that nobody cares.

I remember how loving and gentle the Father was to me as the wounds of my past healed.

My actions need to help them build trust in me.
This year.
Next year.
As long as it takes.

Just like I had to learn and am still learning to trust My Heavenly Father.

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That I can come to Him when I am sad, nothing is too small for Him.
I can come to Him when I am fearful, nothing is too BIG for Him.
When I need provision, there is Someone who is faithful to His promises.
When I am distrustful of people, I can remember His forgiveness and love for me.


Help my actions in parenting, Lord, to help my children trust you more.
Help them to trust me and my love for them, Lord.

And help me to be faithful to the task, worthy of the calling.
I pray that when I am tested that I will remember all You have done for me,
how patient You have been with me, how much You love me, and I will use that wisdom as I teach and train my children.
Help them to turn from the fear and rejection they may have known to the freedom of love, faith and trust.
I know that you are the Healer and are working in us spirit, soul and body to make us whole.
Thank you for your grace to finish the race you have set before us.


The Unknown Future

After almost four years of trying to get pregnant, we got the green light from God to start the adoption process.  And boy, are we glad for the path God led us on because it led us to this sweet, little guy.

And then, a little over a year later we started the adoption process again and God led us to another sweet, little guy.

When our youngest was about 6 months old, I started dreaming of the next little babe that would come along.  I started obsessing about when it would happen or if it would ever happen again.  Growing our family consumed a lot of my thoughts.

Then God graciously pointed me back to these two faces.

I was so wrapped up in what our family could be that I was failing to see and truly appreciate our present reality.

This family of four that I belong to is far better than I could have imagined.  God is teaching me to be thankful for what I have today.

I, of course, still think about our future.  Dreaming about and wanting more children is not a bad thing, but why waste time dwelling on the unknown future when God already has it taken care of?  He has proven to be trustworthy in the past and I know he can be trusted for our future.  So, instead of me planning out our future, I’m praying for our future.  My perspective has changed and I can rest in his plan.

 I can rejoice over our unknown future because God is trustworthy.  

If I’m a mama of 2, I will rejoice.

If I’m a mama of more, I will rejoice.

 In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name.  Psalm 33:20-21


1010448_10151694184529120_1677268010_nAbby 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.

The Whole Truth and Nothin’ But the Truth

Ok–so my ambitions were BIG in writing on the blog this week…..and then LIFE happened! Birthdays, and pneumonia (for Charlie), schoolwork, and practices swallowed me up.

And guess what I did? I felt guilty about not doing what I had said I would. Felt like I kinda set myself up for failure..and that everyone would judge me.
I recently passed on a link on FB that was so powerful, I now see it being spread amongst many of my mom friends. It’s called “Don’t Carpe Diem” and it is such an insightful article..and SO NEEDED!!
Read it HERE…and then come back!
I have a tendency to look on the bright side of things…remain somewhat unruffled by kid stuff…and to keep things cheery…at least to the outside. I cannot TELL you how many times I have been told while out with the kids…minding my own business…
“oh you must enjoy having all those kids around”
“So many reasons to be happy”
“What a blessing they are..enjoy them goes fast.”
“What an incredible person you are”
“You are a saint!” (at this I literally laugh out loud…)
And I ALWAYS give the answer that they want to hear….
“Yes…our house is SO much fun!”
“Oh they make me smile everyday!”
“I am SO enjoying every minute..I’ll be sad when they’re gone!!”
as for the accolades about me being a great person and all….well I always respond….”these children have blessed me waaayyy more than I them.”
And I actually do mean everyone of those responses..I truly do.
Just not EVERY day.
And why is it that we can’t, as human beings… just tell the truth?
Why, instead of giving wanted answers…can we really say how we feel? Maybe not to the cashier at Target…or the well-meaning grandma…but how about to our friends?
What is it…Fear of being judged?
Fear that you might come across as…I don’t know…normal???
Fear of breaking the perfection illusion that you have created?
Or in us adoptive parents..fear that people will think you regret your adoption? Or that you have gotten yourself in way too far over your head?
Because, as I posted that link…I got thank you’s from my niece who is caring for her first infant…and feeling guilty when she just wants to scream from her baby screaming. But she’s afraid to say it because she should be grateful she has a beautiful healthy infant .
Or the private message from a friend that has many kids that feels like she’s drowning some days…and won’t fess up because she got herself into it in the first place.
The email from my friend who is navigating her way as a single mom..and doesn’t want to give off the impression that she’s struggling.
WHY?? Why can’t we share??
I know that when a mom tells me of any kind of trouble with her kid, personal life..whatever…I am so happy to hear that I am not alone!
When someone lets you in…you feel closer to them..and it can have a great impact on the quality of your friendship. I know that I LOVE real people. The kind I can dish with over coffee…and that I can tell about the craziness at my house..and all of the sudden be laughing so hard I can’t stop!
I think it is WAY healthier than keeping it all bottled up inside…so on that note…I will share. I will give you (in bulletpoints) an honest look at the past few weeks.
I will promise you that all of the following statements are fleeting feelings…that we all have…and I DO LOVE MY KIDS….really I do……
Here are some things that I could have answered to the above statements….
*Well-meaning samaritan:
“Oh you must enjoy having all those kids around!”
My “real” response:
“You think? Yes I really enjoyed waking up to 4 kids, two dogs, and 10 matchbox cars in my bed this morning. In addition, I enjoyed discovering that my 4 year old wet the bed..again..and I have to wash all his sheets….again. I also enjoy seeing that as I go downstairs in my hazy fog..I discover that someone has drawn smiley faces on my white red….with a sharpie. I also enjoy the mad scramble of feeding 7 kids..5 of whom are always running late for the bus..and all of whom argue about everything that I prepare.
Now THAT, my friend…sure is enjoyable…especially before 7:30 am!!
Yes..having all these kids is a daily joy-fest. Have a nice day….”
*Kind..usually elderly person: *”What a blessing they are…enjoy them now, time goes fast”
(this would be the carpe diem comment)
My “real” response:
“How fast does it really go? Because right now my dreams consist of being able to have one nano-second to for the luxury of peeing in peace. Yes—please tell me it goes fast..I would like to go into the pantry for a pretzel, and eat it without hiding in fear… of the “seagulls/kids” that will swarm me if they see me having a morsel of food.
Yes, dear kind person…I would like to watch something besides the Disney Channel..and I do NOT want to know all the words to every Justin Bieber song. I would like to watch movies without 3D glasses, and go to restaurants that don’t have a kiddie menu. Fast, you say? Yes, fast will get me through the day…thank you very much!”
And the best…of them I tote around my adorable Chinese children..from all kinds of people:
“you are an incredible person, saint, Mother Theresa..whatever..”
My “real” response:
Well, thank you kindly…but I seriously doubt that saints, or the dearly departed Mother looked forward to a beer at 5:00 pm to get them through to bedtime.
I also don’t think those of a saintly status had times where they lied to their kids and told them it was 8 pm…time to brush their teeth..when in actuality it was 6:30.
Or I am quite certain that saints don’t second guess themselves…thinking that if we had only had two…we would be doing this, that and the other….(usually quite frivolous trips, and the like…)
I also know that the Holy do not throw temper tantrums worse than a two year old at times when their kids don’t listen. So ….thanks for the compliment…but…..
The saintly would also be quite calm and patient when kids do things like….
hide mom’s car well that the car has to be towed to the dealer for a new set
stuff 12 juice boxes down the toilet…mixed with applesauce..for fun..
take food from the pantry..and when they have eaten half of it..just stuff the remaining half in the be found..quite awhile later…
carve their name in the kitchen table…
YES..these things would NEVER ruffle a person with “holy” describing them.
So, that’ the REAL truth…and nothin’ but the truth…so help me God!
And at the end of the day, I would never, ever, trade this life for anything. No life of leisure could compare to the love that I feel for every single one of my kids. No amount of money could replace the amazing experience of having this family. And quiet, perfect, houses make me a tad nervous.
I’m just saying’….it aint perfect ALL the time. And it’s ok to let it all out. Tell a friend, sibling, partner, your dog…anyone….how you REALLY feel at times. It gives such a sense of freedom.
And to be honest…..I think it helps you to appreciate your life on a whole new level, because when youREEAALLLY picture your life without all “this”(whatever “this” entails to you”)…… just seems empty.
SO vent away my friends….take a load off your shoulders and your heart…and your tomorrows will take on a whole new meaning.


Amy Dinello

My name is Amy, and I have been married to Darrin for almost 16 years. We have 4 biological kids (Hannah 12, Joseph 8, Caroline 6, Charlie 5) and two children from China (Hope 5 and Samuel 3). Both of our blessings from China were born with limb differences. We are incredibly blessed by the miracle of adoption and would love to talk to anyone about adopting a child with a limb difference. I am a stay-at-home mom who also is a volunteer for Love Without Boundaries. I am the Fundraising Coordinator for their Orphanage Assistance Program. It is an incredible way to remember those children still waiting for a family! I am just happy to be living an amazing life with my family and sharing a bit of our continuing story on our blog.

Tears, Tantrums, and Tummy Troubles

Oh my! That’s an ominous title.

But friends, I want to be real with you. I want you to know that even with the easiest of adoptions, there will be difficulties.

Why is that?

Because we’re adopting human beings here…little persons who sometimes (or often) sin.
And not only are they human beings, but they are human beings who have experienced trauma, in the past, and who have just experienced trauma by leaving the place that they know and entering into a whole new world.

Oh how I wish that I would have understood this more completely with our first adoptions! Tantrums brought me to near breakdown, and I took many of my childrens’ outbursts far too personally. I was more concerned with how I might look, than with helping to heal their little hearts. I was always trying to catch them up (emotionally, physically and socially), rather than appreciating how amazing and brave they were for coming through such intense trauma with so many wonderful qualities!

Up until this past weekend, this little angel boy has displayed hardly any of the behaviors that are so common with adopted children.

But then Kaikai got sick (serious tummy trouble–he threw up on the dog!). And then, he didn’t sleep well for two nights. And then, he was g.r.u.m.p.y. on Saturday. Everything and everyone was “very bad” (his words–yay for learning so much English already!) and he had a couple of full-fledged tantrums. He was tired of feeling yucky and tired of not being able to communicate his needs to us.

Whew! It was a loooooong day.

But friends, even though it was difficult (and I will admit, I hid away in my room for a half-an-hour when I was in serious need of a break), I look back and know that it was such a good day! We overcame some real difficulty and came out on the other end with Kaikai being a little more sure that we will love him no matter what. I truly consider it an honor that God has entrusted David and I to help our son to heal from his past wounds. What  a privilege to partner with God to pour love out on this little man!

Most days it is easy (and I am sooooo grateful for that!). But, at the end of a difficult day, there is the satisfaction of knowing that Kaikai’s life is being redeemed, that he is learning how to love and trust us more and that we are being formed more into the image of Christ, as a result.

Thank you, Jesus, for wonderful days! But thank you, also, for days that involve tears, tantrums and tummy troubles, because those days help our son to trust us more, and they help us to trust You more.

Oh my goodness!

I LOVE adoption!


sarah-bandimere-picDavid and Sarah have been joyfully married for almost 18 years. They have been blessed with 6 wonderful children (one homegrown son, a daughter from Ukraine and four children from China) and are never sure if they’re “done yet”! They love Jesus and are grateful that He has recently led them to the urban core of Kansas City where they are learning to give their lives away as they build His church in the inner city.  You can read more about what God is doing in their lives at