Monthly Archives: November 2014

Lucy

I can see an airplane from where I am. The tails of cloud widening out behind it. It looks like the flames of the birthday cake candle I saw on the TV in Miss Fu’s office and I can’t help but squint and pinch it with my outstretched fingers. Is it small or big? I have never seen one up close. They are always just dots against the wide, flat sky. And how do they stay up there? God must live in whatever country they come from.

I’ve heard of God and am sure he could make metal fly. At least that’s what Mei Mei says and she knows God. She met him in an ambulance in Beijing when she had her heart surgery.  She says he visits our orphanage at night sometimes so I often stay up past lights-out to hear him. Lying on my bed with my eyes closed so Ayi won’t see, I wait. Does he sound like wind? I have heard that he speaks Mandarin and Cantonese and can sing like a bird—at least that’s what Mei Mei says.
I wonder if he knows my mother and father. I have never met them, and Ayi says she is my mother for now, but I know I have parents that love me and will come find me. I must, because Kang Ming’s parents found him. So did Chu Guan’s and Xiao Bo’s. I wonder if I ask God, if he will tell me what they look like. I think my father is tall and thin and solemn, and mother must have beautiful hair like mine. Ayi braids my hair in intricate patterns and I like to think my mom will do the same.

What if God spoke to me and I didn’t understand? Was the sound of the clouds hitting together, him? Or the rain tapping against the roof above me? There have been three rainstorms this month so I hope I haven’t missed it. I tried to listen for a pattern but there was none. I have ruled out the voice booming across the square because it belongs to Mr. Ping and he is very mean. God does not treat people like that.

Because I think God made me and my parents and Ayi. He made us to look like him. To look beautiful. Mei Mei says it says so in the Bible. That’s the book that God wrote that Mei Mei hides under her blankets from Ayi, the one that is black and ripped and smells like old sandals. I want to read it but it’s in a language I have never seen where the letters are all separate and look like little buildings. But Mei Mei tells me that God is our Father. I am not sure what she means by this, but I believe Mei Mei because I always wanted a sister and it makes me happy to know that someone will protect me when the older boys fight and throw rocks and curse at each other. I wish I could meet God though. I wish that if I waved my arm big enough the airplane would see me and come down and take me to meet God. Or at least maybe they could bring me a Bible that is written in Mandarin so I could read it and see if Mei Mei is telling the truth because sometimes she lies about knowing famous people.  But the plane is so small now and I can hear the Ayi yelling for mealtime. Her voice is echoing against the yard wall so it sounds like two voices. For a second I thought I heard a pattern, I thought I heard God but Ayi is shouting and I can’t hear past her telling me to stop walking with my eyes closed and come eat. It is mealtime now, but someday I will meet God and my parents. I know that they are there and I will not stop listening.

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Ben Leaman bio picMy name is Ben.  I am a photographer/writer from Phoenixville, PA. My wife, Abbey, and I have been involved with Kelly, Mark and the Sparrow Fund for 3 years and count them among our closest friends. I write to unearth myself, my past, the collective history of my family, from the compression of memory over time. I write for the moment when a bit of dispatched truth pushes out from the din of the everyday and whispers: I made you. Remember me.

What I Learned From My Daughter’s Tantrums

I’d never seen a more independent four-year-old. When K came home, she could literally do everything for herself. She dressed and bathed herself, brushed her teeth, got herself a snack. For a while, we were relieved and grateful. These are the things we’ve taught our boys to do for themselves because we want them to be independent and confident. She fit right in. But then it hit us.

She was independent because that’s how she’d survived.

Based on attachment parenting research, we started to re-parent her. We started saying things like, “I know you can brush your teeth, but I would love to take care of you. May I brush your teeth for you tonight?” A little at a time, she started to let her guard down and let go of some control. Later it became, “Can I help with your PJ’s tonight?” to which she would respond, “Because you want to take care of me?” She was getting it.

Now, we are in the trenches of dependence. At this point, we’ve created some dependence on us so she can develop out of it into healthy independence. If we say, “Go brush your teeth,” she often says, “I can’t!” It’s not a particularly fun stage, as we value independence. But we know it’s going to be worth it in the long run.

There’s something we’ve noticed about her since she’s started depending on us: she’s at rest. When we are patient and meet her needs, she is happy and peaceful. Her guard is down. She accepts help consistently now, which means losing the thing she held onto more than anything- control. And she’s happier than ever. It seems counter-intuitive for someone who holds onto it so tightly, but there’s comfort when she lets go of control.

Like many things in life, children show us the way. K has taught me so much already, and this is no different. She had no control over her environment before she was with us, so now she holds onto any sliver of control with white knuckles. I often feel powerless in my circumstances, so I scramble to control something, anything. How much of my life have I complicated by fighting God for control? More than I’d like to admit. Our baby girl literally goes from kicking and screaming to peaceful and calm when she surrenders and lets us meet her needs. And much like a four-year-old, I fight and fight until I finally surrender. Then I rest in the comfort of having God meet my needs. I always wish I’d done it sooner.

She is getting more and more comfortable with releasing control, and she’s starting to realize it feels good to be taken care of. I’m thirty years older than she is, and I just wish I had learned as quickly as she has.

Where do you fight to release control? What would happen if you surrendered?

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Becca WhitsonMatt and Becca write about marriage, parenting, and life through the lens of a married couple, parenting team, and pastor and professional counselor. They share hope and restoration by giving a glimpse into their lives- the failures, the successes, and the brokenness and beauty of everyday. You can read more of their writing at WhitsonLife.

Boomerang

{“everything is so clean“}
 {“there’s air conditioning“}
 {“look how cushiony the seats look“}
 {“everyone is so white“}
…these are my thoughts as I step onto the American Airlines plane. Everyone is smiling professionally. Their hair is clean. Their demeanors calm. The pilot grins a cockeyed smile to ensure us who are boarding that he’s totally got this flight in the bag. Every light bulb is functioning. It feels like a spaceship from the future to me. And people are relaxed as they step past me, orderly and shushed. I am leaning my head back on the stiff blue pillowed chair, completely upright and squeeze my eyes closed so that I can’t see every single one of them stare at me anymore as they file past my 14th aisle seat, watching my endless, silent tears streaming like a never-ending river down my cheeks. I can’t decide if it draws more attention to wipe them away or just let them stream down my cheeks, my chin, my throat, into my hair and my shirt and onto my lap. Either way, I cannot make the tears stop, even though I am literally tired of crying by now. It has been 4 hours since I kissed her for the final time and they are still running down my cheeks and this is just feeling so ridiculous now I am downright angry with myself. I am angry at all the Haitians boarding with leisure and business on their agendas. I am angry at all the Americans staying here. I am angry that no one else feels a boulder of agony on top of their heads, sitting here feeling crushed by the weight. Just about the moment that a peace settles on my face and my heart feels still and my face relaxes into an expressionless passivity, the captain says we are next in line for takeoff. The plane is racing down the runway. Andrew films out the window beside me, watching for Haiti to become a child-sized toy beneath us, and I feel fresh anguish squeeze around my heart. {“Jesus, help me. Jesus, help me. Jesus, help me….“} on repeat. These are my only thoughts for minutes while I sob.
She is too far away in just seconds. I can’t get to her. She needs me. She is too far away. I will have to wait for people to figure out what happens next, wait for a break in life’s demands, wait for it to make sense, wait for money, wait, wait, wait until I land here again and am within maybe a day’s walk at most from her if it came to that. If there’s another earthquake I can’t run at top speed to her and scoop her up, laws be damned. She is on an island. I can see the water lapping at the edges of her island and I see it from way, way up here now – she is smaller than a particle, small and gone from me somewhere I cannot find or get to on my own, in the middle of a wide blue ocean I know nothing about. Almost evaporated. Before we even land in Ft Lauderdale it feels like it was all just a dream.
***********************
 All day I had planted my heels in the chalky dirt, digging my toes against the door, pulling back with both hands and all my strength, hands wrapped around the doorknob, heartache knocking on the other side. I determined not to let her see me crying. These white people crying while the babies were playing would only be confusing and troubling to this baby girl who now wanted to be on my lap, who wanted me to feed her by hand, who would go to no one but me, who smiled mischievously and lovingly, who laid upside down on my legs to have her neck tickled and nuzzled, who walked with arms up stretched to Andrew and I, back and forth, while dancing and giving kisses.
There is no holding the door closed anymore. There is nothing to numb this. There is nothing to dial it down. It steamrolls and flattens me, leaving my bones crushed to powder, my stomach filled with lead, my head thick with cement. Putting one foot in front of the other takes thought.This is sorrow. It is here.
I had leaned her back in my arms and said: “I gotta go bye-bye, baby“, remembering I should never just disappear from a toddler, and I watched a cloud pass in front of her eyes, watched as she furrows her brow, watched as she retreated from me in her eyes, scampered down out of my lap willingly for the first time this day, marched across the room to her beloved nanny whom I am so grateful is here to rescue her from me, watched as she wound her arm around the nanny’s neck, her baby doll still clutched tightly, watched as she looked at me with hurt and distance. I kissed and kissed her cheeks while she sunk into the nanny. She waved and smiled, safe again. She blew final kisses and made the “ok” sign with her hands because she can’t master the “I love you” hand signs we spent all 2 weeks sending her from across a room. 2 weeks. Behind us, we leave 2 weeks.Ahead, there is unknown.
 We determined we will not despair – she is far from us but she is not lost to us. We will wait. Jesus is steadying our hearts. We are sorrowful but not destroyed. God is with her. God is with us. He is so, so near, still using our weakness for an opportunity to show up. Andrew is already at work, already a doctor again instead of a One Man Toddler Entertainment Machine. My kids are clamoring for souvenirs and kisses, Rissa already in our bed this morning between us by 2am, ready to reclaim her parents in a way only a 3 year-old can. I hear birds outside but no armed guard, I see sunshine but no school children. I hear cartoons on the TV but no Creole songs. It’s weird. I feel disoriented still. It will take time to gently reclaim our lives but we will not ever feel right again until all 5 of our children area asleep in this house, under the same roof, breathing the same air, 10 arms wrapping around us instead of 8.This is what it feels like to leave your heart behind you and walk away.This is what it felt like when Andrew and I were long-distance dating for 2+ years. This is how your brain starts to take all the messy, sloppy emoting and turn it into action, trying to get steps accomplished to achieve the goal. This is how it feels. It feels like sorrow. It is a boomerang, though and it will not return to us empty. We are sending it all like single-lined texts to God our Father and He will send back answers and whispers smothered in grace enough for that moment. He already is. He will not let this be for nothing. He never does. He brings beauty from destruction. We will see it happen, friends. He will – He must.
                                        ____________________________
Esty Downes

Esty Downes

Esty is a wife to Andrew, mama to their 5 growing kids including 3 biological boys, a daughter from Uganda and their youngest daughter, who is not yet home from Haiti. This, their second adoption, has reached the 21-month mark in progress, and they earnestly hope to have their daughter home in 2015. It’s a very long process but they are surrounded by community and find that adoption has led them to deeply hidden treasures like nothing else. A former pediatric nurse, Esty now fill the days chasing her kids while her husband practices medicine in a southern Florida beach town. Their passion to build community among adoptive families birthed OASIS, a retreat offering intimacy and ongoing fellowship to adoptive mamas. This life is held together and flourishing only in Jesus, rooted in His good grace. You can follow their Journey at These Little Lives.

Enter in.

Dare to watch. Dare to get a glimpse of people on the other side of the world whose stories we’ve only just gotten glimpses of ourselves, children and students and adults who hold our hearts.

Be ready.

You’re going to want to go and enter in.

And, we’d love to have you.

You Might Need a Mirror

You can read all the adoption and attachment books you want.

You can prepare as thoroughly as possible.

Your heart can be bursting at the seams at the thought of finally meeting and bringing your child home.

And it {most likely} will still be hard to adjust.

Jet-lagged parents have little to no energy to make it through the day, let alone manage those first days of juggling the bumps of sibling adjustment.  Emotionally drained parents have little ability to truly assess how things are going, how the newest child is bonding, how the family as a whole is adjusting.  What was read in a book or learned in a seminar days, weeks, or months before can seem entirely different when you are the one navigating it all.  All the stuff you learned before you adopted can come flooding back in snippets and you might catch yourself over-analyzing every. little. thing.

Whew! She’s sleeping in her own crib…is that okay?  Does it mean she isn’t bonding…or won’t bond?

How is big sister adjusting?  Is it just me or does she seem a bit distant?

Is our child showing signs of bonding?  Even tiny signs?  

He’s crying…a lot.  Crying is good, right?  Grieving.  Or is he crying too much?  Am I not meeting his needs?

If you are like me, the desire to “get it right” and implement all those good techniques can leave you more than a bit overwhelmed and even confused.  I should know this stuff.  I’ve read all about it.  So why is it so hard to know what’s going on now that I’m in the midst of it?

Fatigue, emotions, stress, adjustment, jet-lag, they all have a way of clouding our judgement. Seeing the affects of trauma up close and personal seems more overwhelming than you thought it would be back when you read that book.

You want some advice?  Get yourself a mirror.  Yes, a mirror.

Not an actual, reflective mirror you can hold in your hand or hang on a wall.  But a trusted and wise friend, a close family member who can reflect back to you what they see in your children and in your family.  Like an actual mirror, they will be able to help you see yourself from the outside looking in.

Following both of our adoptions, the words of those closest to me — who spoke truth to me as I felt overwhelmed by how much adding a new family member rocked our carefully balanced family –were balm to my soul.  From outside of my overly analytical and emotional mind, they could see what I could not.  Their sight was not clouded by fear and worry and sheer exhaustion.  Instead they spoke back to me encouraging words about what they saw happening in our new child and in our family.

Look!  I can tell she keeps her eyes on you as you move around the room.  She wants to know where you are.  That is good!

You guys are so natural with your kids.  You are doing such a great job of keeping their routine and making life feel as normal as it can.

She already seems much more relaxed and alert.

From inside my crowded mind, I could not see what they were seeing.  My fear and worry had kept me from seeing the bits of growth happening right before my eyes.  Hearing their positive observations reflected back to me helped me to see reality a bit more clearly.

Are you feeling overwhelmed?  No matter what stage you are in the adoption process, we all find ourselves there sometimes.  Resist the urge to just keep muddling through.  Invite that trusted friend over.  Call a close family member.  Ask them to reflect back to you what they are seeing.  What they have noticed.  Let them be your mirror.

Note: Perhaps you are in the position to be a mirror for someone else.  Has God crossed your path with another adoptive parent who could maybe use some encouraging words?  Pray about how He might have you be their mirror.

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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 speaking and 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.

Mile Markers

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I was eight-years-old when I said goodbye to my first foster sibling. She had lived in our home for only 40 days, but it felt as if she had always been a part of our family walks and read-aloud mornings by the fireplace. She came to us with each leg secured in a cast, working day and night to hold together broken bones and provide stability for cracked ribs. Six weeks later, we were madly in love with a baby, and that baby was being stripped away by the vulnerability associated with love. She left our home with strengthened legs, kicking and flailing like babies should. That part was good. But still, she left.

We drove her to the office where a caseworker was waiting in the parking lot to carry her off to her next new home. I kept bending down, reaching under her car seat straps, to kiss her over and over again. It was my first bitter taste of loss in this life. I now know her story had a happier ending than it did beginning, but still, she was living in our home, riding in our minivan, filling our washing machine with laundry, sucking on bottles in the middle of the night, healing from broken bones, learning to trust humanity again – and then, with what felt like no fair warning, she was gone and never seen again.

That loss (and the subsequent losses of the many foster siblings that followed) was profoundly formative in my heart’s fight for growth.

I find it fascinating that the human heart is only capable of grieving to the extent that the brain has progressed physiologically. It’s as if we have these mile markers that only allow an eight-year-old to grieve with the expression and understanding that is appropriate for that tender, missing teeth, messy hair, molding heart, stage of life. Then, the next mile marker comes into sight and the now twelve-year-old child can revisit the traumatic event with a new, deeper level of understanding. As children, we have these deeply formative life events, that leave us crying and hurting and angry and sad, and yet, our hearts have this ferocious resiliency so that it is only through the appropriate passage of time that we are able to safely grapple with and process the full extent of the tears of our childhood. This is how the heart was made, to grieve carefully and methodically, because if a child starts the race of grief too fast, there may be burn-out, and suddenly, the finish line’s view is obstructed by social delay, behavioral outbursts, and developmental regression.

My saving grace is that during my years of loving and letting go over and over again, I was held by parents who listened to me cry into the deepest pockets of the night, planned a fun outing to distract us immediately after a foster child left, answered questions about drugs and abuse, fed me ice-cream, and allowed me to feel whatever emotion my heart needed to feel.

What happened through all of these moments is that I was safely able to process the circumstances taking place in our home, and my heart was able to find room to expand as it grasped with greater understanding the acts of injustice that are repeatedly inflicted onto those who are the most vulnerable. So that then, when a few of those kids stayed in our home, turning temporary siblings into forever siblings, I was maybe a tiny bit more equipped to empathetically enter into their pain.

Not that I can begin to understand the fires of trauma that my siblings have walked through, but maybe, because my parents allowed me to enter into the care of the many foster children that lived with us, I am better able to stand ahead at each mile marker, armed with an ice-cream date or a spontaneous trip to our favorite bookstore, ready to fight off the attacks that accompany the perils of the grief and healing journey.

They pass these markers with chocolate-stained faces and a few extra “I love yous” tucked safely in their pockets. I watch them keep running. They are passing mile markers, sometimes in a sprint and other times slowing to a walk, championing through their journey with so much courage that it astounds me.

As an eight-year-old, long before I ever knew I would be a big sister, I grieved the loss of a baby who had enough resilience left to trust, even after acts of horror had been inflicted on her. The irony is that as I said goodbye to one who had fought to heal, I had no idea that our hearts are capable of withstanding storms; that the immediate pain we feel can be used to cultivate a level of trust and passion and pursuit, used to contribute a little bit of safety to the hearts around us that are also journeying through grief.

That the cries of our heart and the running- stumbling- across the finish line are achieving an eternal weight of glory that far outweighs even the hardest goodbye.

 

 _______________________

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    Kylee Craggett

Kylee 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.

Do’s and Don’ts for Talking with Adoptive Families

Adoption always comes with loss. No matter what the situation, at least some part of the adoption triad (birthparents, child, adoptive parents) has experienced loss. Often all three. Because it’s such an emotionally-charged topic, we thought we’d give you some tips on talking with friends and family who are in the adoption process or who have already brought their child home.

  • Don’t compare the adoption process to pregnancy.  Many prospective adoptive parents have been through years of painful infertility, and hearing that their process is like a pregnancy may be hurtful. Sometimes the differences in adoption and pregnancy/childbirth are glaringly obvious for adoptive parents. I remember sitting in the waiting room during Cy’s birth and saying to Matt, “I never thought I’d be in the waiting room waiting for my child to be born.” Few of us picture that or the many other moments that come with adoption.
  • Follow the adoptive parents’ lead to monitor your excitement. If they are ready for baby/child showers before the placement of the child, go for it. If they want to wait until they feel more confident that it will actually happen, please respect that and wait. I can’t tell you how many adoption situations have been presented to us, and we’ve always been very careful about how much information we’ve shared because we know things can change very quickly. The same is true for accepting gifts. We just weren’t comfortable until the revocation period was over.
  • Don’t talk about your own fears unless you’re asked. Even then, please make sure you only share informed opinions. Open adoption can be scary for family and friends who aren’t educated in the realities and benefits of openness. Asking prospective adoptive parents to give you resources or educate you is a great way to get involved in the process. Please remember that children are precious, regardless of their genes. Comments like, “Adoption is scary… you just never know what you’re gonna get” are insensitive and hurtful. Not to mention the fact that we have no idea what our biological children will be like either, right?
  • Treat the homecoming similarly to if they’d just delivered a child. Offer to bring meals, help with older siblings, etc. For older child adoption, check out this post. For infant adoption, remember that they’re just as tired as you were when you brought your biological child home from the hospital. (I’ve done both). And post-adoption depression is just as real and difficult as post-partum depression.
  • Keep your curiosity to yourself. I know this is difficult. We’re naturally curious, especially about situations in which we’re inexperienced. However, the story of a child’s biological family and the reasons that child was placed for adoption are the child’s story. Children should have the freedom to share their stories when they’re ready, if they’re ready. Also, the financial aspect of their adoption is none of your business. Please don’t ask how much it cost, especially in a rude, inaccurate way like, “So how much did he cost?” Adoptive families don’t buy babies. They do, however, pay an agency, attorney, and often help with expenses for the birth family.
  • Please, for the love, don’t tell an infertile, adoptive mom that she’ll probably get pregnant now. Because that happens all the time! First, adoption doesn’t take away the pain of infertility. So your comment may be hurtful. Second, the surprise-pregnancy-immediately-following-adoption thing doesn’t actually happen all the time. Adoptions don’t magically activate ovulation or erase other factors that cause infertility. (Side note: saying “just relax” doesn’t help either).
  • Refrain from comparing an adopted child’s struggles to your biological child’s. Yes, some issues may seem the same, but issues in an adopted child’s life are multi-layered. Saying “all kids do that” or “that’s normal” may seem to you like you’re normalizing the behavior and encouraging the adoptive parent. However, it may be that you don’t understand all of the facets of adoptive families. This is especially true with older child adoption. Their “behavior problems” come with years of history and hurt. Even with infant adoption, families look at issues through different filters than you. When Cy was a preschooler, he’d say very hurtful things in anger. Hearing, “I wish you weren’t my mom” is hard for any mom to hear. But because I have children through birth and adoption, I can say with certainty that hearing a comment like that feels very different when it comes from an adopted child.
  • Treat and talk about the adopted children with respect. Don’t ask adoptive parents if they have (or will have) children of their own. Our adopted children are ours, and they aren’t second-best. Don’t assume all non-white children are from other countries. Asking if a family adopted domestically or internationally is completely fine and much better than assuming.
  • Don’t treat adoptive parents like saints or saviors. They’re neither. For more on this, please read this post.

Use positive adoption language. For instance, people have often said, “Your boys look so much alike, they could be real brothers.” The intent is good, but the delivery is lacking. Our boys are real brothers. They are not biological brothers. And they’ve never entertained the idea that their genes would keep them from being “real” brothers. We’d like to keep it that way. I could go on and on with examples like this. The best thing you can do is to read this short list of positive adoption language compared to common language.

          ———————————————

Becca Whitson

Matt and Becca write about marriage, parenting, and life through the lens of a married couple, parenting team, and pastor and professional counselor. They share hope and restoration by giving a glimpse into their lives- the failures, the successes, and the brokenness and beauty of everyday. You can read more of their writing at WhitsonLife.

Mommy Friends, What Story is Your Life Telling?

So, my mommy friends, what’s the story?
Honestly, this post is really just this one question.

What is the story that my life is telling?

What is the story your life is telling?

Once upon a time, there was a mommy……

I want my life to tell the story of God at work in me and my family.

On the title page it will say,

A Story of Love
By God


Looking back I realize that I used to want (and often try) to write my own story. Well, I suppose I still do, but I am getting increasingly comfortable with letting that go!

I had an idea of what our family would look like. I had a great plan, a godly plan, for each of our birth daughters. Really, you all would have so loved my story!

And when God called us to adopt, this new thread in the story turned out to be an amazing plot twist, and we loved it when God introduced the new “characters” in our story line. What an amazing story-teller He is!

So, of course, I quickly wrote their plot summaries as well. That’s what authors do, right? We mamas know how to make a good story for each of our children!

In reality though, I was telling the story of me–the story of my love for God and of my love for my children.
The story of my good parenting and my wonderful children.

Once upon a time there was a mommy, and she did this, and then she did this, and then this….

That is how the story was progressing in my mind. But over the years I see how many times the True Author has gently taken the pen from my hand and written it differently. How kind He’s been to me.

It’s like He’s said, “Beth, how about we do it this way….”

And sometimes the story becomes so beautiful that it brings tears to my eyes to think that He is letting me be a part of such narrative. How could it be that I get to play this role?! To be a mommy in this story is more glorious and beautiful and good than anything I could have imagined! I LOVE my part in this story!!

And then sometimes I think for sure He must have made a mistake. This isn’t the plot line we agreed upon! It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.

But then He gently pulls me aside from the pen and paper, from the telling of the story, and He begins to whisper to me about the particular story line that is so upsetting for me. And I push back and let Him know that I don’t like this part of the story! Please, please can we not change it? Like, maybe NOW?!

But Beth, take a look here. Let me show you some plans I have for this part of our story. For it is OUR STORY being told you know. I’m taking this mistake of yours and that misstep of theirs, and I’m weaving them together to create a plot line that will bring glory to my name and release life to you all. I’m not wasting anything here. Where your choices have taken the story in the wrong direction, I am busy writing up a story line that will be so good that you’ll want to read it aloud to anyone who will listen.

And so, wonderful, Wonder-Full God, I just want to thank You that You are telling a story of life and beauty and power and redemption and hope and faith, and so many good things. I want my life to tell this story Lord God. Sign Your Name to this life, be the author of this story. I LOVE the way you write! Pick up my life like a pen and write something glorious. Amen.  

For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. (Jeremiah 29:11) 

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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 Hope at Home.

Orphan Sunday

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While attending a church service in Zambia, an American visitor, Gary Schneider, was struck by the pastor’s passionate call to care for orphans in the local community, a community dramatically affected by AIDS and poverty. Those in the congregation faced real need themselves, needs we can barely imagine. But, as the service ended, one after another stepped forward with money, food, and material things, some even taking off their own shoes and placing them in the offering as a response to the pastor’s call for the orphans.

Gary Schneider, President of Every Orphan’s Hope, was so impacted that he began to help Zambian leaders coordinate Orphan Sunday efforts across Zambia which spread to the United States in 2003.

So we stand together on this day specifically set apart to bring attention to God’s call for us to care for the orphan. We are a people called to defend the fatherless and to visit orphans in their distress. God sets the lonely in families.

Orphan Sunday is our opportunity as preadoptive families, adoptive families, and those who have hearts for children around the world to rouse the Church, our communities, and friends to God.

Join us as we pray for, love and defend the millions of precious children worldwide waiting for their forever families.

We may not all be called to adopt but we are all called to share in God’s heart for orphans.