Monthly Archives: May 2015

My Gardening Life.

I am not a gardener, but if I were my garden would look something like this.

 Chateau_de_Bouges_Flower_Garden_1


Pretty, right? Everything in its place, ordered, organized, contained and thriving. Beautiful and fruitful. Yep, that is it right there. 

And that is a pretty good picture of what I was going for with our family. Each child organized, contained within the life-giving boundaries we set up, and thriving, etc. Sounds good doesn’t it? 

But as our family grew through adoption my neat rows of seasonally appropriate lettuce and tomatoes, and those lovely flowers intentionally planted to catch just the right amount of sun, changed into a whole other garden.

Our family metamorphosed overnight into a crazy out of control mess of a garden. A beautiful, willy-nilly kind of place, full of surprising varieties and diversity. 

It has been a great adventure to discover and appreciate all that our adopted children have introduced into our lives. They brought with them so much that is lovely, fascinating, strong, creative and exciting from their birth families, country, and culture that have made our garden gloriously unique. Like an heirloom tomato imported from a far away place, I haven’t always immediately recognized the special qualities introduced to our family through adoption. But as the years have gone by, 15 now since our first two treasures came home, I have identified so much that I might have at first mistaken as a weed. 

I have learned to not to try to pull up something because I didn’t plant it, but rather clear a space for it in my heart and in the culture of our family. Let it grow and enjoy its fruit and beauty, and make it my own.

And where weeds have come in (to join the ones already there!)–the unwanted and unwelcome residue of rejection, abandonment, trauma and orphanage life–then I have learned to carefully remove them. Not all at once with a hoe of shame, but gently dig them out with the trowel of prayer and love and identity. Some of these weeds continue to sprout up over the years, the lies that threaten to choke out sonship, so I continue to maintain this special plot of land God has given us. 

And I have learned that some plants just need some time to grow before they can set themselves apart from the look-alike weeds. So I garden with care and nurture, waiting for the season of flowering and fruit.  

And I have learned to be at peace with the process of being a care-taker of such a crazy garden. As tempting as it was to take our new transplants and try to force them into my perfect rows, it proved to be destructive to us all whenever I tried it! 

So instead I focus on enjoying the beauty and surprise of it all, and the honor of being a part of such a family. 

                         _________________________________________
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.

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We’re building the nest this month!

Head right on over HERE to find out more and learn about the 40+ businesses that support adoption and the work of The Sparrow Fund!

 

He calls me mama

Today marks 5 months that Dumpling has been in our arms.  It also marks about 2 months of him seeking me out as “mama” and “mom” and “mommy.”  I had to work hard for those titles though, they didn’t come easily.  For the first couple months, he didn’t refer to me or DH as anything.  He simply walked over to us and tapped our leg or arm to get our attention.  Even despite our silly name games when we pointed to and named each family member.  We did that a lot.  For awhile, Dumpling even called himself “mama.”  Oy.  There was a lot of confusion associated with names of people because, frankly, my guess is he may have never understood that people have names.  Oh sweet boy.

After awhile, he began to get my attention with a word/sound he developed after coming home.  It reminded us of the sound one might make while doing a karate chop.  It’s humorous now, but at the time, I’ll admit it was a bit frustrating.  He still defaults to that sound sometimes now, but a quick reminder sets him back on track.  A few months ago though, no amount of repeating “mama” seemed to do the trick.  He just wouldn’t call me mama.  Or couldn’t.  I can’t be sure.  He was able to easily repeat it but just didn’t make the association.  I wondered if maybe it was because of his hearing loss, but he only has minor loss on the one side and has been able to hear and follow multi-step directions from early on.  I’ll never know what was going on back then.  But it was hard to not feel a little hurt in my heart because it felt personal, even though I knew in my brain that it wasn’t.

web 2Slowly though, with time and lots and lots and lots of repeating and reminding, it happened.  His karate chop sound was replaced with “mama.”  And then “mom.”  And even “mommy” like the other children call me.  And then “MOM!!!!”  And like other parents who want so badly to hear their children use words but then sort-of-but-not-really regret they wanted it, he was calling for me all day long.  Sigh.  And now at 5 months home, he even calmly calls for me by name when he wakes up in the morning.  It’s beautiful.

I think this transition closely mirrors his attachment transition too.  It’s as if his willingness or ability to call me by name is representative of his attachment growth.  Although I still think we need more time, I feel more and more comfortable every day with his connection to us.  And our choice to keep him close for these first months is just confirmed over and over for me.  I know it’s been difficult for our extended family to be kept at such a distance, but I’m confident it was the best decision for everyone.  Attachment requires work and intentionality, just as it has to teach him who his mama is.  And that work is worth every bit of time and effort.  I still find myself quietly observing him, simply amazed by him.  By all he’s accomplished in the short 5 months he’s been our son.  By how much I deeply love him.  And I’m overcome with joy and thanksgiving because it is such an honor to be his mama.  The days are long and I don’t always make the best choices or have the most patience, but good gracious I love this child with all of my being.

web 1

Last month when DH and I were at Together Called, DH was waiting with Dumpling in the hallway while I finished leading my breakout session.  When I opened the door of the conference room to the hallway, I spotted them at the other end of the hallway.  DH was chatting with a friend while his wife played with Dumpling at a distance (I love being with other parents who understand adoption attachment!).  Dumpling was having fun and was clearly engaged, but do you know what he did when he caught my eyes?  He pointed at me and yelled, “MAMAAAAAA!!!!!” and came running to me with all his might.  And you better believe that his mama got down on her knees and scooped him up in her arms when he crashed into her.

In that moment, all of my attachment and connection worries melted away to a puddle of mush on the floor.  It’s one of those memories that will always be with me.  Yes, I knew right then that we were going to be just fine.  He knows I am his mama and he is so very certainly my son.

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NicoleNicole is a daughter to the King and a wife to an amazing man. She is a classical homeschooling mama to four, by birth and adoption. She is a part-time newborn photographer, a founder and adoption photographer at Red Thread Sessions, a contributing blogger at No Hands But Ours and an advocate of orphan care and adoption. When she’s not with her family or behind her camera, she loves to blog, create, give life to old furniture, spend time at the beach and read. She strives to live her life to glorify our Heavenly Father.  With His love, all things are possible.

                                          _____________________________________

We’re building the nest this month!

Head right on over HERE to find out more and learn about the 40+ businesses that support adoption and the work of The Sparrow Fund!

 

My Gardening Life

I am not a gardener, but if I were my garden would look something like this.

 Chateau_de_Bouges_Flower_Garden_1


Pretty, right? Everything in its place, ordered, organized, contained and thriving. Beautiful and fruitful. Yep, that is it right there. 

And that is a pretty good picture of what I was going for with our family. Each child organized, contained within the life-giving boundaries we set up, and thriving, etc. Sounds good doesn’t it? 

But as our family grew through adoption my neat rows of seasonally appropriate lettuce and tomatoes, and those lovely flowers intentionally planted to catch just the right amount of sun, changed into a whole other garden.

Our family metamorphosed overnight into a crazy out of control mess of a garden. A beautiful, willy-nilly kind of place, full of surprising varieties and diversity. 

It has been a great adventure to discover and appreciate all that our adopted children have introduced into our lives. They brought with them so much that is lovely, fascinating, strong, creative and exciting from their birth families, country, and culture that have made our garden gloriously unique. Like an heirloom tomato imported from a far away place, I haven’t always immediately recognized the special qualities introduced to our family through adoption. But as the years have gone by, 15 now since our first two treasures came home, I have identified so much that I might have at first mistaken as a weed. 

I have learned to not to try to pull up something because I didn’t plant it, but rather clear a space for it in my heart and in the culture of our family. Let it grow and enjoy its fruit and beauty, and make it my own.

And where weeds have come in (to join the ones already there!)–the unwanted and unwelcome residue of rejection, abandonment, trauma and orphanage life–then I have learned to carefully remove them. Not all at once with a hoe of shame, but gently dig them out with the trowel of prayer and love and identity. Some of these weeds continue to sprout up over the years, the lies that threaten to choke out sonship, so I continue to maintain this special plot of land God has given us. 

And I have learned that some plants just need some time to grow before they can set themselves apart from the look-alike weeds. So I garden with care and nurture, waiting for the season of flowering and fruit.  

And I have learned to be at peace with the process of being a care-taker of such a crazy garden. As tempting as it was to take our new transplants and try to force them into my perfect rows, it proved to be destructive to us all whenever I tried it! 

So instead I focus on enjoying the beauty and surprise of it all, and the honor of being a part of such a family. 

                         _________________________________________
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.

 

Post-Mother’s Day Blues

I’ve got the post-Mother’s Day blues.

Seems like my family can’t win.   On one hand, there is part of my heart that wanted more from them– more appreciation for how tough this job really is and a deeper understanding of how much I really love them.  On the other hand, despite the wonderful cards and texts from them, somehow I feel terribly undeserving.   If only they knew the depths of my dark heart – the unkind thoughts and resentments that lurk there sometimes.  If needed, I would crawl over cut glass for them, with a triumphant smile on my face for all the world to see – to proclaim my abiding sacrificial love for them.  But inside, I confess, there are days that I grumble, or feel discouraged, or ashamed of my failures.

What grade would you give yourself as a Mom?  Some days I’m feeling pretty good – maybe a B or B+.  Some moments maybe even an A! J  On a bad day, much much worse.  Some days it might depend on who I’m comparing myself to.  And I wonder – do we get to grade ourselves on a curve?  How do you grade a mom when her children have brains altered by past trauma, when their behavior often makes no sense,  when they fight the very love that she is offering?

I confess that, early on, I really did think that, if I was a good enough mom, my efforts would translate into amazing results with my kids.   My husband and I had thought we would be the perfect adoptive parents.  We thought we could provide the ideal environment for our children to heal from past hurts.  We weren’t prepared for how hard the fight would be.  Over the years, each child has both clamored for and resisted our love, and it can be exhausting.  Behavior has been infinitely more challenging than we had anticipated, and I often have felt completely inadequate to the task.  And much to my dismay, I am a very different mother than I thought I would be – too often impatient or distracted or angry or just tired.  What a rollercoaster.  There have been wonderful times of joy and victory – fun family outings, meaningful conversations, signs of great growth.  But at other times I’ve fought deep discouragement.

The good news is that God is the One responsible for the results.  The God who loves our kids even more than we do WILL accomplish His purposes for them.  What a privilege that He invites us into that work.   He chose us for them, and them for us.  All four of my kids are “launched” now,  and I truly marvel at all He has done in their lives.  And as I look back I realize that indeed He sometimes accomplished great things in them through us!  But at many other times, he has done so in spite of us.  He didn’t need us to get it right.  What a comfort.

Certainly He calls us to diligence and obedience. We all work hard to be the best Moms we can be.  We read books, and blogs, and consult friends and sometimes professionals.  We are intentional.  And we should seek excellence in all we do.  But at the end of the day, it seems the most important lesson I’ve learned, is that they just need our constancy, and to know that we ARE their moms.  And that we are FOR them, no matter what, forever.  The rest is details.

So, our part becomes simply to be faithful and leave the results to God.  I am an awesome mom, and YOU are an awesome mom, simply because we provide our kids the opportunities to learn and grow and be loved.  Some of our kids can’t take it all in right away.  It doesn’t happen in our timing.  But we need to trust that God has made them to receive that love and guidance; and eventually it will bear fruit.  And even on the days when they are fighting it, we are awesome because we are faithful.  That is all that is needed.

A constant, faithful, imperfect Mom is exactly what your child needs – an eye-rolling, “Are you serious!?” impatient, too-busy, bought-Kentucky-Fried-Chicken-for-the-church-potluck-cause-I-ran-out- of-time-to-make-homemade,  kind of mom that says “You can never lose my love.” That is what we are called to. That is what they need.

And they’ll get it…someday. I can’t tell you when. But they’ll get it.

Happy Faithful Mother’s Day!

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord…As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and does not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish,… so is my word that goes out from my mouth. It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.  – Isaiah 55:8-11

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cheryl nitzCheryl Nitz, ACSW, LCSW  has worked in the field of adoption and foster care for over 30 years.  She has extensive training in the field of attachment and trauma, particularly in the area of facilitating healing in foster, adopted and post-institutionalized children.  She currently is the director and a therapist at the Attachment and Bonding Center of PA.  But she often says her best education has come from being a parent with her husband to their four kids (two of whom came to the family through adoption) and grandparent to four!

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We’re building the nest this month!

Head right on over HERE to find out more and learn about the 40+ businesses that support adoption and the work of The Sparrow Fund!

 

Save the date {#TC2016}

A little less than 2 months ago, 220 men and women made meals in advance, set out clothes in little piles, arranged rides to practices, and said goodbye to children (pulled them off their legs in some cases). We set aside life for a weekend to come together, as a couple and as a community, for refreshment and reminders of why they’re doing all this to begin with. In worship, engaging words, and fellowship, over that weekend, we were encouraged as parents to children who have experienced hard things, as couples who need each other to work as a unified team, and as individuals who are called to a big task. That’s Together Called.

We know it’s only the middle of May. But, we’re already planning for TC2016, so we thought you might want to as well.

Mark your calendars with two dates–registration in early October (this thing fills fast) and the weekend in April at Liberty Mountain Resort. We want you to be there with us this year.

TC2016 Save the Date

Make sure you give us your email address below where it says “SUBSCRIBE” to get a reminder email to register. It will fill up fast!

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We’re building the nest this month so that we can continue things like Together Called.

Head right on over HERE to find out more and learn about the 40+ businesses that support adoption and the work of The Sparrow Fund!

To Understand Forever

*This post was written two years ago, when celebrating three years of having my little sisters HOME. This month we celebrate 5 years, and while we don’t have our ‘forever’ figured out yet, the journey is proving to be so sweet and so worth it*

Today we celebrate three years of baby sisters. I remember that day so clearly, the day we welcomed a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old back into our home and began our journey of forever.

We painted a room pink, bought new soft blankets, and filled a closet with more dresses than any two girls would possibly need.

That day was joyous, so we celebrate it, and rightfully so.

This journey isn’t without pain though. I was reminded last night of the harsh dichotomy that exists within the world of adoption. In order to have the privilege of loving these girls, they had to go through a lot of loss first. In order for me to love them and know them, others who loved them first had to lose them.

Last night, I peered into the little girls room and found a sweet 8-year-old sitting on her bed, looking at pictures of her first mom and her siblings, and crying. Tears in her eyes, and staring at the same pictures over and over again, she expressed in words how she was feeling.

I sat with her and kissed her head of blond hair over and over again. I rubbed her back and I chose my words carefully; I said that missing is okay. I wish I could have promised her that she would see her first mom again, that one day she would feel all better; I wish I could have whispered that she had no reason to cry, as many have told her before. But sister has every reason to cry. She should cry. It’s heartbreaking, but it’s good. I hate that for her. I hate this part of adoption. I hate watching an 8-year-old grieve over such hard things. The reality of that injustice makes me angry.

We get to celebrate her heritage and accept the reality of her past, however messy it may be. We speak with respect and honor towards her first mom, because that lady loves her. We even celebrate that the grief, which was once manifested through compromising behavior, is now morphing into the expression of words. That is huge. (and all the adoptive families said AMEN!)

When it comes down to it, none of us really know how to accurately depict the tragedy and beauty of adoption that has been so confusingly woven together. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out which part is the beauty and which is the tragedy. What do we celebrate and what do we grieve over? It takes a lot of work and time and tears. And sometimes we realize it’s the very thing we’re celebrating, like 3 years of permanence, that actually has so much grief wrapped up in it, too.

We know that we get to celebrate the notion of forever, because God’s plan is for every child to have a family. We don’t really, fully understand what ‘forever’ means, but we use that term anyway. We know that it represents something exciting and that there is permanence in the word, but even still, it is too big for our finite minds to grasp. What I have promised my little sisters is that we’re going to do our best to figure it out together, not through words, but through actions.

Right now, forever means afternoon Wii games, spontaneous trips to sonic, watching first-year ballet classes through the doorway, and blaring One Direction in the car.

Tomorrow it might mean something completely different.

So today we don’t have it figured out, nor to we necessarily intend to figure it out in this life time, but we celebrate 3 years of stability. We celebrate 3 years of baby doll playing, kindergarten graduations, learning how to read, and nighttime prayers. We celebrate 3 years of properly celebrated birthdays, summer afternoons spent by the pool, bike rides, and countless afternoons of painting nails. Today we get to celebrate new relationships, the beginning stages of trust, and the remembrance that through all of the chaos and tears, we are family.

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KyleeKylee recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social work and is currently working at a child-placing agency while going back to school to pursue a masters in social work. Her parents jumped into the crazy world of foster care just days before her 8th birthday and cared for numerous infants and toddlers over a ten-year time span; four of those kids later became permanent family members through adoption. Kylee is passionate about learning how to better love her siblings from “hard places” and loves sharing about this journey and passion on her personal blog Learning to Abandon and on her Instagram @kyleemarissa.

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We’re building the nest this month!

Head right on over HERE to find out more and learn about the 40+ businesses that support adoption and the work of The Sparrow Fund!

Nesting

Nesting. Hibernating. Cocooning. Shrinking your world. Stripping your calendar.

If you’ve been around the adoption community for any length of time, you’ve heard terms like these and likely have some working familiarity with the general gist of what they mean. Even if you are brand new to the adoption world and all these terms seem like a foreign language when applied to parenting techniques, your basic grasp of the English language gives you at least a working definition to go by. But one thing I’ve discovered over and over in my interactions is that many folks don’t really know WHY adoptive parent ought to consider cocooning. To be sure, there are quite a few philosophies out there that sufficiently cover the ranges of how strictly one ought to consider pulling back from their normal routine and pace of life. But in my studying, the WHY of each philosophy has one common thread that runs through them.
Adoption comes out of tremendous loss for our children.

It’s a hard truth. A truth that brings me to my figurative knees quite often. A truth that puts the responsibility for bringing the healing and hope of Jesus Christ to that loss squarely on the shoulders of my husband and me. A truth that pushes me to seek resources, support and training that will increase my ability to be used by The Father to see wholeness come to my daughters. That loss is the common thread that drives many families to consider some form of cocooning with their newly adopted child.

In the early days home with both of our girls, I confess that I was far more excited about sharing our beautiful new daughters with the wonderful community that we had built around us. This dyed-in-the-wool extrovert wanted everyone to coo over chubby cheeks and marvel over sweet smiles and sassy personalities with me. “Shrinking our world” felt like serious potential for the kind of cabin-fever about which nightmares are made! But choosing to spend our early days and weeks attending to their adjustment and transition from “orphan” to “daughter,” was my way of honoring the truth of the tremendous losses they were experiencing. In the beautiful but messy process that is adoption, we gained two beautiful daughters. But in that same beautiful messiness, our daughters lost everything familiar to them in their daily lives.

Our home smelled different than their foster homes. We looked different than the ayiis. Our food tasted strange. The language in our home, even our faltering attempts at pre-school level Mandarin, was odd and dissonant to their ears. Every single sense that my daughters have was assaulted with difference for days and weeks on end.  Bigger than that, and long before we came and took them into our family, they lost their first family. Certainly, the exuberant love and joy of welcoming them to our home was evident even in our awareness of their losses. Our hearts were filled with great joy and pride in our older kids’ understanding of this process and their abilities to attach to their new sisters. And yes, the attachments my husband and I formed with each daughter had good strong roots already going deep thanks to wonderful isolated travel-time together in China. But the differences they experienced, the loss these girls had suffered in those early days cannot be minimized.

So, in light of this truth, WHY cocoon? One of my favorite adoption experts, Dawn Davenport of Creating A Family puts it very succinctly:

The idea of “nesting” is to simplify life, settle into a routine, and limit the care of the child to the mom and dad. This is especially important when adopting a child past the newborn stage – in other words, when adopting from foster care or internationally. With adoption, the baby/child’s life has been turned topsy-turvy. The idea of cocooning is to allow life to settle down for the child and parents and to firmly cement in the child’s mind who are mom and dad.

The general gist is to hang close to home for a while: [simplify] life, reduce the number of toys and trips away from home, set up a predictable routine. Generally allow time and space to get to know each other, and to allow the child to learn to trust and rely on her parents. It is the first step in establishing attachment.” Taken from Dawn’s blog.

As Christians, the WHY of cocooning felt a bit weightier even than nesting to simplify. We found that the loss our daughters had experienced was also about the loss of the deep care and nurture that The Creator intends for all the precious lives that He crafts. It was also about the loss of the original plan that He made for them when He looked at them in their mothers’ wombs. His redemptive plan to bring them to our home carried great joy for us but also required great responsibility to serve their little hearts. Hearts that He was entrusting to us for healing and restoration of hope.

The weight of this charge pushed me past the natural tendency I would have had to share my joy with the whole world around me. I put myself on a bit of a leash, if you will, and moved toward focusing on and prioritizing their needs for unconditional love, constancy, structure, and learning that Mommy and Daddy are Forever. That their place in our home is permanent – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. That this family is theirs to rely upon and will be the example of Christ’s healing and hope that their little hearts needed.

Our efforts to cocoon with our girls looked different between our two adoption journeys. How could they not? The adoptions were five years apart. A lot of learning and growing occurred in The Gang’s home in those five years. NOT the least of which was our expanded understanding of the trauma that this loss brings to a little heart and mind. While our methods were very different, the intentions were the same. At first, when bringing home our youngest daughter, our cocooning looked and felt so very different than before. This difference was stressing to me. I was out-of-sorts over trying to make this time resemble the cocooning of five years ago. But after praying about it and finding ways to negotiate our expectations better with our older kids, we found our groove again. A new groove! I found that once the older kids better understood (by both example and years of hearing Mom talk about what she was learning!) the “WHY?” behind cocooning, the easier those negotiations became. It was such a remarkable lesson to me about my heart and its intentions: keeping my motivation for cocooning was paramount. The change in how we implemented it was different but still a healthy out-flow of both that motivation AND our family’s season of life.

So whatever you choose to call it, I strongly urge you to consider some kind of cocooning with your newly adopted child. If you’ve been home for a while now and feel like your attachment to your child could use some re-anchoring, give some thought to temporarily stripping down your family calendar and get intentional about relationship-building time. It’s never too late to adjust your course and hone in on some things that need your time and attention. That’s the gift of parenting, isn’t it? The time and care you put into bringing healing and hope to any of your children is never wasted. His grace and mercy offer us daily do-overs! My favorite Scripture in recent days has been Lamentations 3:22-24:

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

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Below are some of my favorite resources that I have shared with friends over the years with regards to cocooning. Enjoy exploring the ideas presented!

“Finding Balance with “Cocooning” Newly Adopted Kids” – http://creatingafamily.org/adoption-category/finding-balance-cocooning-newly-adopted-kids/
“Should Grandparents Be Allowed to Care for a Newly Adopted Child” – http://creatingafamily.org/adoption-category/grandparents-allowed-care-newly-adopted-child/

“Creating Attachment with Your Adopted Child In the First Year” –  http://creatingafamily.org/adoption-category/creating-attachement-with-your-adopted-child-in-the-1st-year/

“How to Be The Village” – http://jenhatmaker.com/blog/2011/11/02/how-to-be-the-village
“After The Airport” – http://jenhatmaker.com/blog/2011/09/06/after-the-airport

And from my own blog:

“Speaking of Attachment, Part 3” (with links embedded for other parts of the series) – http://whitneygang.blogspot.com/2009/12/speaking-of-attachment-part-3.html

“Wow, I’m REALLY Glad That Is Over” (with part two following) – http://whitneygang.blogspot.com/2012/07/wow-im-really-glad-that-is-over.html

“To CSmith” – http://whitneygang.blogspot.com/2013/04/to-csmith.html

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Tracy WhitneyTracy, aka The Gang’s Momma, has been married to Todd, aka The Boss, for almost 25 years. Together they parent 6 kids (ages almost 21, 19, 16, 13, almost 8, & almost 4).  She is passionate about post-adoptive care and family support. In her downtime, she loves to read, write, cry over weekly episodes of Call The Midwife, and share a good cup of coffee with a friend. A confirmed extrovert, Tracy has met her match in their youngest daughter for both strength of will and love of socializing. 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), but she’s trusting the Lord to use it all 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 (very!) occasional musings of the momma at www.whitneygang.blogspot.com.

 

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We’re building the nest this month!

Head right on over HERE to find out more and learn about the 40+ businesses that support adoption and the work of The Sparrow Fund!

Gratitude

Yesterday afternoon, Silas fell asleep on my chest for the first time in a long time. I laid there soaking it in, feeling his heart beat on top of mine. This kid’s heart beats so in sync with mine that sometimes I forget he grew in another mama’s belly. I never forget her. I just sometimes forget that Silas hasn’t always been a part of me. He hasn’t always been mine.

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I began imagining what it would have been like to have had him growing in me. I don’t feel any lack in our relationship because we missed out on that time together, but there’s a part of me that does grieve for that time. Not because we lack a connection, but because I know he has a connection to another mom too.

I started to wonder…if I could have grown him in my own womb and given birth to him myself, would I have?

Well, sure, if he could still be the same Silas that he is now. But, the reality is, he would be a different kid if he had been born to me. And, I don’t want a different kid.

So, my grief is drowned in the depths of my gratitude.

Gratitude for his birthmom, who carried and cared so well for my baby for 9 months and then selflessly gave him the life she wanted him to have…one that did not include her. My privilege is her pain. And her connection to Silas does not diminish mine. In fact, I think it strengthens it, because I carry with me every day the knowledge that he could belong to someone else. And yet, he’s mine.

And my gratitude for a God who breathed a deep desire for adoption into my heart long ago, before infertility was something I even knew could be a reality. For a God who gently guided us through our pain down the road that led to Silas. For a God who redeems and restores and who causes all things to work together for good.

I feel this overwhelming gratitude daily, and I often ask Silas in these moments, “How did I get you?” and “Why do I get to be your mama?”

I live every day in awe that he is mine.

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Kinnier-3 copyMindy and her husband, Nick, adopted their son, Silas, domestically in August of 2013 after seven years of marriage and two years of unexplained infertility.  They live in Southern California, where Nick is a pastor and elder at ROCKHARBOR church and Mindy is a part-time teacher. She also hosts an infertility and adoption group each month, where she gets to do life with women who share her deepest pain and her greatest passion. She blogs at Finding Sunday.

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We’re building the nest this month!

Head right on over HERE to find out more and learn about the 40+ businesses that support adoption and the work of The Sparrow Fund!

Thoughts on Home

Last Fall I was able to accompany my parents on a two-week trip to China to adopt my new little sister. It has been a hard journey, and it didn’t end when we got off the plane in Omaha, Nebraska. But it has been wonderful, and I am grateful that I was able to come on the China trip.
It was exciting, fun, and I learned a lot. But I was homesick before the end of the first week.
Adoption is a beautiful picture of God’s love and our own salvation story. Our story especially represents this, as we left our home and traveled to where our child was to bring her home.
I have been wondering this year if Jesus thought about Home as much as I did. I have been thinking about the culture-shock, and wondering if His experience was close to mine.
Now, obviously I am not trying to say that China is inferior to the U.S. like earth is inferior to heaven. But going there did take me out of my ‘zone’, and I think I better understand the way God adopted us now—kind of.

“He sat in the garden alone, grieved beneath the weight I feel right now times the Universe.” –Shannon Martin

I cannot really imagine what Jesus did for us. I have been wondering this year if Jesus thought about Home as much as I did. And writing this has brought me to the conclusion—he probably thought about it more. And being around children who have never experienced this kind of love before and don’t know how to except it, has only made me realize what love is. What it means to love unconditionally.
Adoption is a perfect representation of our spiritual adoption—but that does not make adoptive parents and siblings heroes. If there is one definite thing I have learned during this journey, it is how incompetent I am. How lost. How broken. . .
Without my Savior.

“In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ.”
-Ephesians 1:4b-5a

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Hanna Rothfuss

Hanna Rothfuss

 

My name is Hanna Rothfuss.  I am 14 and in eighth grade.  I have lived in the suburbs of Omaha, Nebraska for my whole life.  My interests are reading and writing, mainly about fantasy and orphan care–often adoption.  I have four siblings, two of which are adopted.  I’m a homeschooler and a child of God.  I pray that all my writing is encouraging, empowering, and brings glory to Him.

You can read more of Hanna’s writing on her blog: Taking My Time.

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We’re building the nest this month!

Head right on over HERE to find out more and learn about the 40+ businesses that support adoption and the work of The Sparrow Fund!

Their Vision is Valuable {After}

Starting in May, every first Friday of the month until October, the quaint town of Phoenixville explodes with activity. Streets are closed, people are everywhere, and parking is atrocious. Restaurants are all abuzz with long waits for good eats. Happy hour becomes happy hours as bartenders can’t keep up with the demand. And, there, in the middle of it all, is The Bridge, our church office, where on this first First Friday of 2015, something very very special happened.

IMG_8374Portraits of 12 children were set up in the front window, and their art filled every square inch of the rest of that space. Hundreds of people came through Friday night–the vast majority of whom just wandered in on their way to catch dinner with friends. I saw their eyes widen as I explained the story behind the exhibit and showed them the pictures of the children who created it. I smiled with them as I told them about the little boy who loves to dance and the little girl who now lives in Omaha with her new family. I saw parents pick children up and point out details in the pictures. I heard them talk about what they would name each one. I saw groups of teenage girls gushing at how cool one of the pictures was and snapping pictures on their iPhones to remember it. I heard a young woman ask her friend if the text underneath each photo’s name was “from the Bible or something.”

IMG_8405There we were, right in the middle of all the activity, showing people the faces of children with special needs who don’t have families, who call an orphanage home. There, in the middle of the bar scene, were 30 incredible pictures of hope and beauty and life. There, in the middle of crowds of people, were Bible verses next to each one of those pictures that drew those crowds in.

I was all alone in that space at the end of the night. While the sound of several different bands playing throughout the streets could still be heard, it was quiet in there. As I swept up cracker crumbs and packed up brochures, I thought about how at that very moment, the children who created all that beauty were probably sitting in their classroom together–all but the one sweet girl who was likely sleeping in her new bedroom in Omaha. Whatever they were doing right then–reading, learning math, staring out the orphanage window, holding hands with their friend–they had no idea how they had just changed the world on the other side of it. I can’t wait to tell them all about it. I can’t wait to tell them again how valuable they are.

We set out to change the picture some may have in their head of a “special needs orphan” and what he or she is capable of. We set out to make louder the voice and impact on the world that those children who we have grown to love have. We set out to honor them and honor the One who created them. At the end of the night, I believe that happened; I really believe that happened.

We believe this show isn’t a once and done thing. We believe it should happen again, maybe again and again. Who knows. It will cost something, and it won’t be easy. There’s work that would need to be done to make it happen. But, I think it should because the world change is simply not limited to one night in one town in Eastern PA.

If you want to hear more about that, if you want to be part of that world change where you are, if you want your church or ministry to host this in the middle of whatever activity you are in the middle of, email me at kraudenbush@sparrow-fund.org. We’re working on putting information together for whoever else may want a part of this.

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Kelly-NHBO1-150x150

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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We’re building the nest this month!

Head right on over HERE to find out more and learn about the 40+ businesses that support adoption and the work of The Sparrow Fund!