Monthly Archives: April 2015

Their Vision is Valuable

What if…

A whole lot of greatness starts with those two words. When Ben Leaman, a professional photographer and personal friend, joined our team for the second time to serve at an orphanage in Shaanxi, China where 300 children, most of whom have some sort of special need, call home, we asked a few questions that started with those two words.

What if…

What if we used our giftedness to offer something that had not been done there before? What if we offered children an opportunity to capture the world…their world…in an image? What if we offered some sort of workshop to call out their creative spirits while teaching them about life in the process?

That’s how it all started. We asked what if and then we slowly moved forward step by step as doors opened before us.

In October 2014, only 7 months ago, our team of 15 in partnership with America World traveled clear across the world to serve children without families and those who care for them day in and day out. At 4pm everyday we were there, we paired up one-on-one with 12 children the orphanage selected for our special class and saw a miracle happen.

Ben spoke truth about how shadows serve as a reminder that we make an impact on the world, how colors reflect emotions and how emotions are part of who we are, and how we are created beautifully simply as we are and that beauty is all around us even when it may seem hidden.

Those children’s lives were changed through this workshop as God spoke through Ben and the rest of our team and affirmed each one of these children that their vision is valuable and they are valuable. And, our lives were changed too as we got to take part in it.

What if…

We came home from China asking those words again. This time, they led us to something in our own neighborhood rather than to China.

This Friday, only two days from now, we will be hosting the premier exhibit featuring a sample of the images these children captured. 30 large-scale pieces of art will be on display as well as pictures of the artists themselves. We are fully expecting to have a crowd show up to take it all in. And, we can’t wait because we know that miracles don’t just happen during a weeklong workshop on the other side of the world; miracles happen right here too. And, we trust that this exhibit is going to change the lives of those who come as they enter into the beauty and the stories of the children who captured it.

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We’re already thinking through what it would take to make this exhibit a traveling one. While it seems like a crazy thing as I look at the sheer volume of the 30 large framed pictures in my living room all ready to meet the world on Friday, we can’t help but ask…what if…

If you want to be on that list to first hear about what would be involved in bringing this exhibit to your hometown or your church or ministry, email me at kraudenbush@sparrow-fund.org, and I’ll be sure to send you information as soon as we put it together.

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Kelly has a passion for supporting adoptive families, specifically to encourage parents to be intentional and understand their own hearts more clearly as they seek to care for their hearts of their children. Kelly cofounded The Sparrow Fund with her husband Mark in 2011 to serve adoptive families. After a long time using her Master’s degree in counseling informally, Kelly recently joined the team at the Attachment & Bonding Center of PA as a cotherapist. Married to Mark since 1998, they have 3 biological children and 1 daughter who was adopted as a toddler from China in 2010. You can learn more about their adoption story, how they’ve been changed by the experience of adoption, and what life for them looks like on Kelly’s personal blog, My Overthinking.

Do you have 3 friends?

We’ve been busy behind the scenes around here. The team has been scurrying around gathering builders to join us to Build the Nest.

It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year–and basically TSF’s only organized fundraiser. It’s when we invite businesses to commit 10% of their total sales during the month of May to support adoption and the work of The Sparrow Fund or to sponsor the nest building through a one-time gift. Our original goal was to have 60 partners in place by the start this Friday. But, with only days away, we’re got about 30 right now. We’ve scratched our heads, paced our living rooms, and brainstormed about ways we can reach more small business owners, Etsy shop owners, authors, babysitters, high school landscapers who have a heart for adoption and supporting adoptive families. And, we’ve figured out the silver bullet.

The best way to reach them is through you.

YouSee, your heart is in this. We know that. You read the blog posts and let the words on the screen seep into your heart and transform you. You recognize the need to support adoptive families as they grow their families and bring in children who have experienced loss. You recognize the gap that The Sparrow Fund fills in giving grants to adoptive families to get preadoption counsel and medical guidance as they seek to adopt. You recognize the value of the work we do as we lead teams to an orphanage across the world to serve children and those who care for them who need relationship and healing too.

And so, the best people to spread the word and recruit more builders is simply YOU.

Here’s what we’re asking today as Friday quickly approaches—Forward this post, share this opportunity with 3 friends—three, that’s not too much (though if you want to send it to a few more, we’re totally cool with that).

Here are the need-to-know deets—

The Sparrow Fund is committed to serving foster and adoptive families through both grants and ongoing training and support. The Sparrow Fund also leads teams to serve at an orphanage in China. This May, they are raising money so they can continue the work and spread the word about what they do. Build the Nest accomplishes both. Through giving 10% of your total May sales or sponsorship by way of a one-time gift, they will be able to continue their programs for the rest of 2015. And, as The Sparrow Fund works to promote those partnering with them and the partners share as well, everyone helps each other out, getting the word out about adoption, the work of The Sparrow Fund, and all the partners who are willing to say they support both.

Interested in being a part of it? Email Wanda directly at wanda@sparrow-fund.org, or skip that step and go right to the Google form at this link: http://bit.ly/1Fkuoen

Get building with us. We need you.

From an Adoptive Mom to God {Letters}

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Dear God,

I’m thinking you laugh.  That you smile.  That you are so creative, all knowing, and sovereign that we messy, tremble prone humans must make you giggle.  I’m hoping so anyway.

You are love in its purest form.   The ultimate Father.  So I don’t imagine your laugh to be mocking or your smile to be mean.

I imagine you smiling at me the way I grin at my growing, desperate to be independent kids.  The way I chuckle as I stand beside them through their anxious, untrained attempts at bike riding, diving board jumping, and chapter book reading.  I beam knowing they’ll get it.  Their doubts are raging and knees shaking.  But I know what they don’t, so I can’t help but smile.   I grin knowing the joy that is ahead if they will just trust my leading.

It’s that kind of joy that I imagine you having over me.  For me.  With me.

…………………………………………………

Did you laugh when adolescent me attended to the seed of adoption you planted in my heart and started dreaming of an Asian baby?  I bet you pictured almond-eyed Claire, Eli and Evelyn around my future dinner table and smiled big.

Did you laugh when love struck, totally naive, college student Mark and I sat across from each other at Applebees on our first date and I mentioned adoption?  You knew how deeply and beautifully it would complicate our uncomplicated lives, so I imagine you had a good laugh at wide eyed us.

Did you belly laugh when newlywed us mapped out our life plan?  When we decided on one bio birth and one adoption?  We thought ourselves so wise and so adventurous. We loved our slightly risky plan.  We couldn’t see then how you’d teach us to release our grip, open our hands and accept the grand adventure you had planned. How you’d wring out our control issues like a wet cloth, soaking it full again with your grace, mercy and a better vision for our lives.

Did you chuckle when we filled out that first adoption application and checked “non-special needs”?  You knew.  You knew that in fact all of our children would have “special needs” that would press into our parenting limits.  And that each adopted child would have greater needs requiring a special love much bigger than their cleft palates, cleft lip and urological needs.  That emotions and behaviors and loss and living in a broken world would require parenting beyond our capabilities.

Did you grin when, at the end of ourselves in the five year wait to bring home our long dreamed of daughter, we finally realized that the whole pursuit was more about journeying to you than journeying to our baby?  That though you dearly loved our daughter, that more than anything you wanted hearts tethered to you?  That though the timing seemed so off to our weary selves, that it was just the right time?  Your timing ensured that OUR girl, our Claire Liu Wusha, was placed in our (more faith filled) arms in a stark conference room in Chengdu, China, two decades after the seed of adoption was placed in her momma’s teenage heart.

Did you smile when we filled out our special needs checklist for our second adoption and marked yes to all the most minor and easily correctable special needs?  You pictured us holding Evelyn, didn’t you? And I bet you beamed knowing that we faced chronic challenges, regular infections, multiple surgeries and a lifetime of care.  I think you beamed not because you were right, but because you knew how she’d bless our socks off.  That despite having to stand waiting outside operating rooms, that she’d bring us life.  How we wouldn’t trade medical supplies, specialist appointments and hospital stays for the easier days before her soul was woven into ours.

Did you giggle when we filed a petition for the adoption of Evelyn, knowing that a trip to adopt one more child, would end up being a trip to adopt TWO more children?  If any of our bends in the road made you smile, I bet it was that surprise late night phone call with a match “in case we also wanted a boy”.  How you must have giggled later when the unexpected gift of a son came around the corner of the orphanage office door.  You knew how Elijah LanChang would smile and giggle.  How he’d bring lightness, laughter and joy to the hardest year of our lives.

…………………………………………………

I like to hope that our lives, all these years of growing and stretching, of both tiptoeing and leaping outside our comfort zone have brought you joy.  I know that givers love to give, and that you’ve given us much.  You bestowed adoption on us like a miraculous offering that was ours for the taking.  And because we said yes, it’s blessed and bent us in ways we never could have dreamed of.  I think you must smile when we step out of our plans and into yours.

I know our story has your glory written all into it.   Not because of our strength, but yours.  Not because of our abilities, but yours.  Not because of our plans, but yours.  I can look back on it now and smile along with you.   Now, I can count it all joy.  All the waiting, all the doubts, all the surprises, all the hurt, all the life deconstruction, all the heart widening, and the faith deepening.

You dropped a seed into my heart and then stood back and watched tender roots shoot forth, bloom and multiply.  And I bet there is more to come. That’s gotta make you smile.

With much gratitude and a smile,

Rebecca

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Rebecca Radicchi

Rebecca Radicchi

Rebecca Radicchi is a homeschooling, tea sipping, mother of four. Already moved well outside her comfort zone by motherhood, missions, orphan care and adoption, the Lord keeps taking new ground in her heart. Only able to offer a “yes” when the Lord calls, God’s been blessing, refining and stretching her. With the hope that others might be encouraged, her humble response is to share the stories. You can find her recording the wonder, struggles and graces of everyday family life at La Dolce Vita and as a contributor at No Hands But Ours and Ungrind Webzine.

From One Grandmother’s Heart to Another {Letters}

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My son and daughter-in-law have fostered over 30 children in 6 1/2 years.  They are believers of families being reunited and rejoice when it occurs.
 
They fostered and loved Isaac since birth.  He was a week away from turning 4 when he left.  His sister, Mariah, joined them at 5 1/2 and was with them for shy of 2 years.
 
The process of adoption had begun.  Yet, it was not to be.  
 
A judge ruled they were to be adopted by family the children did not know, 3 states away.  He gave the foster parents less than 18 hours to prepare, pack and say goodbye to their children.
 
Foster care has many successes and it is a joy to stand in the gap on behalf of the children.  However, this event was gut wrenching.  Hearts were broken and man’s system and process failed the children.  Because they left?  No.   Because they were not considered.  
 
But Father God considered them and He was in the midst of their fears and tears.  He promised them a peace that cannot be understood, a love that will never fail, and plans that are good.  We trust Him and believe Him.
 
This letter came from His heart beating in my heart 12 hours before it broke.

Oct 17, 2014

From one grandmother’s heart to another…
I want to first say I am not angry.  But, I am very, very sad.  The thought of saying goodbye to Mariah (not her real name), who I have come to love as my own is very difficult.  And then, Isaac (not his real name), who we have loved since birth is equally as difficult.
But, this is the decision that has been made, and so I pray blessings upon you, your daughter who will care for them as her own, and for your son, as their father.  I am sure there is joy for his children to be with their aunt and grandmother.
I don’t know how many grandchildren you have, but I have 7.  I know their skin color and mine are obviously different.  The very sweet part of it all is that their heart and my heart both beat red….with love for each other.
I will always love Mariah and Isaac.
I pray they will bless you and your family with the joy, laughter and fun that our family was blessed with.
I promise I will pray God’s provision, protection and presence as the days of transition occur.  I pray, while they will not be easy, they will be filled with peace.  For your sake and theirs.
Speaking heart to heart, if you would ever feel comfortable letting them write us a note, or even call, I would be forever grateful.
I know the past several months may appear our families are at odds…but we aren’t.  We both love the same children with all our hearts, that’s all
Please whisper to them now and again that “Tiki (that’s what they call me) loves them.”  And will you give them a kiss for me?
Peace be with you – Tiki
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Dave TeresaTeresa married her best friend, David, and blended their families together almost 29 years ago. Technically, they have 3 grandchildren but claim an additional 16, as one of their sons and his wife are foster parents. Teresa lives in Kennesaw, Georgia and just celebrated her 62nd birthday.  She is a retired bookkeeper, avid tennis player, and now a missionary with Operation Mobilization USA.

From Mommy to Daughter {Letters}

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Olivia, one year ago we walked into a crowded Civil Affairs building.  We were full of nerves and anticipation.

 How would you react?  What would you look like in person?  What would your personality be like?  Were you small or big for your age?  Could you walk?  Were you loud like your brother and sister or a calm addition to our family?  Would you bond?  Would we bond?  What was your favorite food, favorite toy?  How did you like to be soothed?  Did you like to sleep?  In what position? Would you know how much you were loved?

We never could have imagined the love we felt the instant we saw you.  It reminded me so much of the day your brother and sister were born.  I locked eyes with you, touched your hands and consoled you by gently rocking while stroking your head.  The terror you felt is nothing we could have prepared ourselves for.  I am so so sorry you had to go through the pain you went through.  No person should ever have to experience what you experienced.  You are brave my daughter.

It has now been a year.  I can now answer all of the questions we had that January afternoon.  I love watching you each day and seeing more and more of your personality unfold.  I am certain that God created you for our family.  I am just sorry that you had to go through what you did so God could get us to you.  Your first mommy, your tummy mommy made a very brave decision so that I could be your forever mommy.  I am so grateful for her.  In my eyes she is a hero.

Your forever family day will always be a favorite day of the year for me.  I don’t ever want to forget what you went though a year ago but, I don’t want to dwell on it.  Because, that baby is not you.  It has been a miracle this year watching YOU unfold.  You are mighty, you are spicy, you are loud, you are loving, you are silly, you are stubborn and you are a miracle.

So to celebrate you we decided to indulge in your favorite “cocholate” (Chocolate) with a trip to the local French Bakery.  We let you pick out any item you want and eat until your heart was content. I loved our day together just as I do all of our days together.  You lighten our world baby girl.  You are so very loved.

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sund-314-44Caitlin has been married to her high school love for 10 years.  God placed adoption on her heart at a young age.  Caitlin and Brad have two biological children and they brought their youngest home from the Guangdong Province of Chine in 2013.  Caitlin works part time as a pediatric occupational therapist.  She views this career path as God’s design toward orphan care in her life.  She is excited to serve with The Sparrow Fund on their mission trip later this year.  Caitlin blogs, but not nearly as often as she would like at Fortunate Blessings

What I Learned from My Daughter’s Tantrums

 

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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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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.

 

What You Say Is Not What They Hear

I recently heard William Paul Young, author of The Shack, say something
that so perfectly describes what I have seen in some of our children. He
said, “Shame destroys your ability to distinguish between a value statement and
an observation.”

As soon as I heard this I thought, “That’s it. That perfectly describes
countless parenting moments in our home.”

I would make a statement, completely reasonable and normal, the kind
parents all over the world make as part of the loving raising of a child.
And my child would respond as if I had just asked them to do something
horrible, something no parent would ever require.

There have been times over the years when it felt like my parenting seemed
to always and only affirm their shame.
No matter what I said, or what tone of voice I used, the push back from my
parenting efforts was massive. To the point where many times I would
almost despair of it all.

I would offer, “Let me help you with your vocabulary so you can be ready
for you test tomorrow.”

What I hear myself saying is, “I am here to help you. I know you can do
this. You are not alone. I am proud of you and want to be a part of your
life!”

What they heard was a harsh value statement, “You are such a loser. You
are not smart and you can’t do anything right. You are a disappointment to
me.”

I would observe, “That outfit is probably not appropriate for this event.
Maybe you could wear that nice outfit we bought last month.”

What they heard was, “You are ugly. You aren’t meeting my standards. I
don’t accept you the way you are.”

It is the voice of shame.

If you think this sounds extreme then that is truly wonderful, because
that probably means that shame is not a big part of your child’s
foundations. For many adopted children however, the facts of their early
years have been masquerading in their minds and emotions as truth. Shame
takes the facts of abandonment, neglect, abuse, relinquishment, orphanage
life, and anything else it can wrap it’s tentacles around, and disguises
it my precious child’s mind as a deep truth about his/her identity.

Shame speaks words like rejected, never enough, alone, unwanted, failure,
weak, too much to handle, unsuccessful….

And when those horrifying words are spoken a child may shut down
completely, totally disengaging.
Frozen.
No eye contact. No verbal replies.

Or there might be yelling. “I hate you. You are a horrible mother. I wish
I were never adopted. My life would be much better without you. Get off my
back and just leave me alone. You make me want to die…..”

We have heard all of these words, and more, in our home.

It is the voice of shame.

Or, you might see your child put even more pressure on him/herself to
please, to do everything just right. But the anxiety and anger levels
build over time and at some point you will experience the inevitable blow
up from so much self-imposed pressure.

I am overwhelmed with the reality that my Father God has allowed me to be
a part of His healing work in my children through adoption. For it is in
the context of family that our children have heard, over and over, that
they are no longer orphans, but true and beloved sons and daughters.

It is so easy to allow shame to bait me into an unloving, shame-based
response. And so unhelpful!
So I decided a long time ago to respond with the Truth–to counteract the
shame with the antidotes of love, belonging, identity, understanding.
Over and over again, in so many varying forms of my maternal love I have
the opportunity to speak truth into the lie.
Speak it in season and out of season.
Speak it when your child embraces their identity as the beloved, and speak
it when your child denies the truth of it, either through their words or
through their actions.
Speak it when they are in front of you listening, and speak it when they
have gone to bed and only you and God can hear.
Speak it when your heart is full of the truth of it, and speak it when the
words seem like a lie even to you.

Speak it–
over and over and over and over,
day after day after day after day,
year after year after year after year.

I am seeing the fruit of this in our family. That inner voice of shame is
being drowned out by truth, unmasked by love without conditions and
limits. And where shame is still successful in its ugly masquerade, I am
even more determined than ever to speak truth, for this is what adoption
is all about, right? It is about radical rooted love, both for me and for
my child.
It unmasks us all and reveals the beautiful truth that we are His beloved
ones.

                                        ___________________________________________
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.

From Foster Mom to Birth Mom {Letters}

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Dear Sara,

My head won’t let go of the last time I saw you.

You stood there, by my dirty Odyssey, clinging to your little girl’s hand. You kissed it over and over again. You spoke these words, “I love you; I’ll see you. If I’m not at the doctor, I’ll be here next Monday.” You reached to the back of the van for your little boy with an “I love you very much.” Still, you held on to your baby girl.

I admit that I rolled my eyes at your, “If I’m not at the doctor…” comment as I sat in the warmth of the driver’s seat watching you through the rear-view mirror. How many times had you already detoxed? Your commitment to the whole thing seemed suspect.

I held my hand over the “Close Door” button, as I waited for you to let go. My face depicted a patience that my head was not claiming. I had to get these kids home. We needed to commence with the terrible transition from you, Mommy, to me, Mama Kim, from candy and toys to dinner with vegetables and rules. We needed to start the conversation about where Mommy goes when she leaves us at the Child Protection Agency. I wanted to get going with all of this, but you wouldn’t let go.

That was Monday.

Today is Thursday, and I’ve just hung up the phone.

D&#n it, Sara!

The caseworker said it was last night. But, they found you this morning. You’re gone. You took your last breath in the dark with a needle in your hand.

I would have waited, Sara. I would have waited to strap the kids into their car seats. I would have waited to push play on the video player that distracted them from your “I love you.” Had I known it would be the last time they saw you and you saw them, I would have waited!

I slap my hand away from that “Close Door” button over and over again in my mind, now. I repent of my impatience. I watch, a million times over, your hand relentlessly squeezing, caressing, and grasping your baby girl’s. It was like, somewhere in your heart, you knew.

You were sick with your addiction, Sara, but you were their home base. You were what their little 3 yr. old and 4 yr. old brains understood to be reality. What words do I use to explain that what was real is gone?

They ask where you are every week. And, every week, they learn all over again that you won’t be back. They say, “ok.” But, I fear what that “ok” will turn into at age 9, 13, 17. Will it be anger, betrayal, fear, recklessness, or a will for something different? I pray that it’s something different, Sara. I pray that what they will know of you is that you loved, and you loved hard. That you didn’t want to let go. That the tide that overwhelmed you, does not have to come for them.

That will be my prayer now. And your hand, holding and reaching, will be the picture I keep and the story I tell, as long as I get to be a part of their new reality.

Rest, Sara. Rest well.

Love, Mama Kim

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kim millerKim Miller and her husband Bryant live in Ohio, where she serves in full-time ministry in the United Methodist Church. They are the bio parents of two, foster parents of an ever-changing number, and pet parents of a nervous Border Collie and a cat who doesn’t care. Kim is a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary and Ohio University. She shares bits and pieces of her life over at kimberlyrmiller.com.

From Adoptive Mom to Adoptive Mom Who May be Losing Hope {Letters}

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Dear hopeful adoptive mom who may be losing hope,

You have been waiting a long time. A very long time. Longer than you ever anticipated. You had an abundance of hope (and were admittedly a little naive) when you first began your adoption journey. You were confident that you wouldn’t be “that couple” waiting longer than everyone else who walked this path before you. It was going to happen fast, right? God would grant you the desires of your heart lickety-split, right? And you would certainly never become an adoption horror story. You know the ones, from a friend of a friend of a friend? They share your story, about how long you’ve been waiting, and all respond with deep sighs and versions of “gosh, I could NEVER do that!” That was never going to be you, right?

Now, here you sit. Still waiting on the Lord, praying that He would bless you with children. Your hope is dwindling, and you wonder if He brought you into this process solely for the sanctification aspect, and possibly not to fulfill your desire for a family. You’ve out-waited all of your friends, and every other adoptive couple you know. Friends who began the process after you have been placed with children before you. Lots of them. Your heart hurts constantly. It’s sick with the hope that has been deferred, and you long desperately for that tree of life (Proverbs 13:12). Yet, your desire is left unfulfilled, and your home remains quiet and empty.

Maybe you came very close to being placed with children and it ended up falling through. Or maybe an expectant mom chose you to parent her baby, and after the birth she decided to parent the baby herself. I understand that pain because it happened to us recently. For almost six weeks we were moving forward with a sibling group we had been matched with. The details don’t matter. It was a complicated situation as every adoption situation is. What matters is that it hurts, and it’s an incredibly isolating experience because there are really no good comparisons for it. I’ve heard others very cautiously compare it to a miscarriage. You’re filled with excitement, and healthy levels of fear and nervousness. You plan and prepare. You shop and you dream. Your life is about to get turned upside down. You’ve started to let the word out to friends and family, and everyone is excited. Your love for these precious children grow more and more each day. Then suddenly it all ends. As quickly as you heard the words “you guys were chosen” from your case worker, you’re back in the state-wide computer system, waiting to be chosen again. The comparison to a miscarriage fails on many levels, I know. These are two very different experiences with uniquely devastating pain. For now though, it has given me some type of category to process this experience through. If you have been there, I hope it helps you process too.

I want you to know that if you have experienced this, it’s good to grieve. Going through this is incredibly heart-wrenching, sad, and will test your faith in a deeply profound way. You ought to grieve it. The best, and most loving advice I was given was “take time to grieve.” This advice came from a friend who experienced something similar in her adoption journey. She’s absolutely right.

Grieving an experience like this will look different for everyone. Adam and I have grieved in very different ways. This is ok, and good. As I’ve processed through this experience, my faith has been tested in ways that it never has before. My heart is in a constant tug of war, frequently doubting that God cares (He does care – 1 Peter 5:7), and wondering if He even sees me in my pain (He does, and weeps with me – John 11:35).

Maybe you feel deep regret for letting this news spread as far as it did, building excitement among those who have been waiting alongside you for years. Having to backtrack and tell your friends and family that it’s not happening anymore only amplified the pain. Well-meaning people, who love you very much, unintentionally say things that cut to the quick. I know you’re weary of hearing optimistic versions of “It just wasn’t God’s timing!” and “They just weren’t meant to be yours!” and “Everything happens for a reason!” Although these sentiments may be true, the deep pain you’re experiencing is often unknowingly disregarded during those conversations.

Or maybe those closest to you just kept silent. That often hurts the most, doesn’t it? They probably didn’t know what to say, and they didn’t want to make your pain worse by saying the wrong thing, so they retreated. That’s certainly understandable. You know they can’t read your mind, but you would have loved to hear them say something like “I don’t understand what you’re going through but I can imagine this is deeply painful. I’m so sorry. I’m praying for you.” Not many people do understand what you’re going through, and it just plain hurts sometimes.

All this to say, I see you, hopeful adoptive mom who may be losing hope. I understand the pain you’re going through, and the wrestling your heart has been engaged in. You may feel like you’re hanging on by a thread because your hope has dwindled so much. You wish you could go back in time to your naive, optimistic, idealistic self just starting out the adoption process, and give her a swift reality check punch to the gut. But, you can’t. You know it will be worth it if it actually happens one day, so, you move on with the tiny glimmer of hope that you still have. It’s only a glimmer, and it’s dim, but it’s enough to move you forward by faith, trusting in God’s sovereignty, goodness, kindness, and love towards you.

Psalm 77, a lament, has been deeply comforting to my soul during this time. It’s beautiful to see how the Psalmist (Asaph) is so honest with the Lord about his feelings. Sweet, hurting sister, allow these verses to give you the freedom to be honest with the Lord. You may feel like “your soul refuses to be comforted” (Psalm 77:2) and your spirit may be faint (Psalm 77:3). Your heart may be so full of trouble that you find it nearly impossible to put your feelings into words (Psalm 77:4). You may be like me, where verses 7-9 are the cry of your heart right now and you’re tempted to believe that God will never again show you favor.

Allow your spirit to “diligently search” (Psalm 77:6), and then, as it says in verse 11, “remember the deeds of the Lord.” Recall His faithfulness in your life. Even if it feels nearly impossible to do so. Allow this lament to shape your prayers as you fight for hope in Christ.

I cry aloud to God,

aloud to God, and he will hear me.

2 In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;

in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;

my soul refuses to be comforted.

3 When I remember God, I moan;

when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah

4 You hold my eyelids open;

I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

5 I consider the days of old,

the years long ago.

6 I said, “Let me remember my song in the night;

let me meditate in my heart.”

Then my spirit made a diligent search:

7 “Will the Lord spurn forever,

and never again be favorable?

8 Has his steadfast love forever ceased?

Are his promises at an end for all time?

9 Has God forgotten to be gracious?

Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah

10 Then I said (emphasis mine), “I will appeal to this,

to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”

11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;

yes, I will remember your wonders of old.

12 I will ponder all your work,

and meditate on your mighty deeds.

13 Your way, O God, is holy.

What god is great like our God?

14 You are the God who works wonders; (emphasis mine)

you have made known your might among the peoples. (Psalm 77:1-14, ESV)

He is the God who works wonders. This is true. It doesn’t necessarily mean He will grant you the desires of your heart, but it does mean that He can. He can redeem this ridiculously long, emotionally bumpy, seemingly unproductive, roller coaster ride of an adoption process for His glory. That has always been my prayer, and I’m guessing yours too. If you know Jesus, He has redeemed your soul, granting you salvation through his life, death and resurrection. If anything would be difficult for God (and we know that nothing is), turning our hardened hearts from a life of sin to one that desires to glorify Him would have been it. But that wasn’t hard for Him at all! He can certainly do this too, for the sake of His name. There is hope in the name of Jesus (Matthew 12:21), and He’s the only hope we need.

Fight for hope, sweet sister. Keep your eyes fixed on the One who knows every hair on your head (Matthew 10:30), and sovereignly rules over the smallest details of your life. He can work wonders with your situation, and sprout up a tree of life (Proverbs 13:12) after an exceptionally challenging and long wait. Even if He chooses not to, He is still all of these things, the same trustworthy God today, yesterday and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

Love,

A hopeful adoptive mom fighting for hope by your side

P.S. This old school resource from Pastor John Piper brought hope to my soul recently, and reminded me that “blessed are those who wait for Him.” It’s called Battling the Unbelief of Impatience.

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RedemptiveHomemaking.com_April is a follower of King Jesus, wife, mother, writer, and adoption advocate. She lives in New England where her husband serves as a worship-pastor. Her introverted nature loves to read, sip coffee, and cook nourishing food for those she loves.  Read more on her blog Redemptive Homemaking.

 

 

From One Mother to a Grieving Mother {Letters}

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Dear friend,
We know what today is. Your baby would have celebrated her first birthday today. We can’t know how you feel today and for the last month leading up to today since the Lord took her home. We can’t know how you will feel moving forward from today and everyday after. We can’t relate on that level. Our vain attempts to imagine being your position fall so obviously short. Even still, though we do not know the loss you know, we know the God you know.

He is present, never distant.
He is active, never still.
His vision is way bigger than the small glimpses we are able to see.
He is the only author of peace.
He loves you.
He loves your marriage.
He loves your family.
You are His.
He is good–but not only good–He is good in you, for you, and to you.

In those times when you may find yourselves looking at each other and unable to even speak, unable to put words to your hearts, may the Holy Spirit who is in you preach those truths and others to you. May they take solid root in your hearts, and may they fill you even in the depths of your being that seem unfillable.

We are trusting in the God we know to provide healing to all of you in a way that only He can. It may look very different that you may expect or even want right now, but we trust that He will build you up in time as you press on and that in so doing, you will see Him in ways others never will.

We have not forgotten your sweet daughter on her birthday today. We have not forgotten you. But, more importantly, He has not forgotten you and will not for a single moment. We pray that the impact of Avery’s life would go on and on and that you’d experience those blessings personally and see glimpses of ongoing blessings of her life to others all of your days.

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Kelly has a passion for supporting adoptive families, specifically to encourage parents to be intentional and understand their own hearts more clearly as they seek to care for their hearts of their children. Kelly cofounded The Sparrow Fund with her husband Mark in 2011 to serve adoptive families. After a long time using her Master’s degree in counseling informally, Kelly recently joined the team at the Attachment & Bonding Center of PA as a cotherapist. Married to Mark since 1998, they have 3 biological children and 1 daughter who was adopted as a toddler from China in 2010. You can learn more about their adoption story, how they’ve been changed by the experience of adoption, and what life for them looks like on Kelly’s personal blog, My Overthinking.

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On Saturday, February 28, 2015, 11-month-old Avery Madison of Fulton, Maryland passed away unexpectedly of SIDS. Avery was the beloved daughter of Shaena and Jeff and cherished little sister to Caitlyn.

Shaena and Jeff requested that donations be given in Avery’s honor to a special Avery Fund in lieu of flowers. The Sparrow Fund will be working closely with the family going forward so that whatever funds come in are used in a specific way to support adoption and honor their precious daughter who joined their family via adoption.

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You can donate with a credit card through PayPal below.
Donations can be made even if you do not have a PayPal account.
Please select gift when donating, PayPal will waive the transaction fees.




To donate by check, please make payable to The Sparrow Fund, note Avery Fund in the memo line, and mail it to:

The Sparrow Fund
124 3rd Ave
Phoenixville, PA 19460