Monthly Archives: September 2015

Encouragement for the Weary Foster Mom

Encouragement-for-the-Weary-Foster-Mom-cover2-700x1050
Last week my husband and I had to make a difficult decision for our son. There was this unspoken pressure from the world to do one thing, when the Holy Spirit was clearly telling us something different. The truth is, we didn’t want to be ‘different’. We already look different as a transracial family in a predominantly white community, receiving stares and questions wherever we go. This decision, if we followed the Spirit (which by God’s grace we did), would likely bring more eyebrow raises and questions.

I’m learning to be grateful for my lot and say with confidence “it is well with my soul.” There was a loss that came with the decision we had to make. It isolates us even more as a foster family and makes us look even more different than the typical suburban family in our area. Our decision was minor compared to most, however it is still an opportunity to trust that God will bless us for being faithful in our particular situation. This decision will likely bring great benefit to our son and, Lord willing, propel him towards more healing and wholeness from the trauma he has experienced.

I was at an event recently, surrounded by beautiful families. From what I could see we were probably the only foster family, and the only transracial family present. This event very unexpectedly stirred up pain in my heart. Pain that I needed to process through and lay at the feet of Jesus. Questions arose in my heart, and bitterness began to sneak in as I watched glowing pregnant women walk by, and children playing together without their parent’s supervision. My son has having a particularly difficult night and we ended up sitting in the car for a while. Selfishly, all I wanted to do was have an adult conversation, something that is precious (and rare) these days.

If you could see into my sinful heart that evening, you would have heard these questions asked through bitter sobs. God, why did you call us to this? Why can’t we just blend in and have our family grow the “old fashioned” way? Why won’t you heal this precious boy quicker? Why can’t it just be stinking easy?!

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him…” Philippians 3:8-9.

“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” Matthew 16:24-25.

Knowing Jesus is far more precious than any loss I may suffer. The loss of comfort. The loss of an easy life. The loss of blending in. The loss of typical milestones for our son. The loss of reputation among those who may not understand. The loss of the first two and a half years of my son’s life when I couldn’t protect him from all the hard things he experienced.

Just like I held my son this morning as he sobbed into my shoulder because his birth dad missed the bus again, and his visit would be cancelled, Jesus held me as I wrote loss over my life once again. He is so patient. So kind. So long-suffering. So merciful towards my bitter and entitled heart.

This life is not my own. I was bought with a price. A great price. I am weary, yes, but my little boy is worth it, and trading all my former hopes and dreams for new ones, for the sake of Christ, is even more so.

“The only way to have the power to follow Christ in the costly way of love is to be filled with hope, with strong confidence that if we lose our life doing his will, we will find it again and be richly rewarded.” John Piper, The Power of Hope.

Weary foster mom, your life is not unnoticed by the creator of the entire universe. He longs to be gracious to you and provide for all of your needs. There are great rewards for those who follow Jesus, risking it all, in this broken (but beautiful) world of foster care. It is worth the cost.

Photos by my mother at Ground to Grow On Photography.

_______________________________

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.

 

 

True.

Six months ago I poured my heart out to a friend via email:


Because you are also an adoptive Mama, I think you’ll understand that I find myself very much at a loss to remember why God called us to do this in the first place. I know the “right” answers: that He loves children. That we are adopted and so we do the same. That justice for the least of these is so crucial to the Kingdom. But truthfully, I can’t quite remember my own heart answers. 

Why did I want to partner with God in adoption? 

Did I really know what I was getting into? 

Why doesn’t God heal all of JM’s body, instead of just in part? 

I want very much to keep the idealistic mentality that God really does redeem the stories of kiddos like mine, but sometimes even down to my very core I am wrestling with the question, “Is God actually good toward my son? Toward our family?” 

Of course, even having these questions at all feels like a terrible betrayal of the faith I’ve held all my life. That’s where much of the depression comes from. I have not yet found God’s continued delight in me even as I question whether or not He’s the God I thought He was. I don’t think He’s afraid of our rants and raves and questions and accusations. As I’ve been living and breathing the words of many of the Psalms I keep thinking, “God let David rail against him too and didn’t strike him dead for blasphemy…” But this is a life-altering journey for me just as much as it is for my little boy. I chuckle at my naivety all the time. I really didn’t know that God would use my son’s adoption to unravel me

I just read a verse in Hosea this morning that I find is my question and prayer: “For He has torn, but He will heal us.” 

Does He still heal our kids, dear friend? Does He still heal us too? Or is it possible to be failing so miserable at being an adoptive Mom that I’ve ruined the possibility of healing for my son and for me?


There is a playlist of songs on my iPod that I listened to frequently as we prepared to make JM a member of our family. I’d listen to it in the car as I drove, looking into the backseat and picturing my boy finally there, swinging his legs and singing along to the radio with me. I’d listen to it through headphones, facedown on the couch sobbing because every minute felt like an eternity before I could tell him, “Hi, I’m Mami.” I listened to it when I couldn’t sleep, as I prayed a mother’s prayer of protection over my boy as he woke up thousands of miles away from me in a different time zone.

These songs have weathered many storms in my journey toward motherhood.

I haven’t gone back to that playlist recently, although some of the songs filter through every now and again when we’re just listening to our music on shuffle. But this morning as I worked, I intentionally chose that list. Knowing the order of the songs, knowing what songs would come up. I picked it and prayed that God would show me something new in the familiar refrains.

He didn’t disappoint.

There is a song by Sara Groves called “It’s True.”

I listened to it, as I have hundreds of times, and felt a comforting thrill in my soul as I listened to the words,

“It’s true, a God who came down to find you.”
“It’s true, angels sing through the night ‘Hallelujah!’”

In one of my recent counseling sessions I explored how the word “grafted” – used often in the adoption world – has taken on new meaning for me through the journey of adopting our son. At first, it felt lovely and beautiful. “Grafting” a family meant creating something new like a flowering tree or a hybrid fruit, juicy and sweet. The idea of being grafted together made my heart leap with excitement.

Ahem.

“Grafted” means beautiful, yes. But it is a beauty forged in the fires of battle. It is a healed beauty. It is a beauty that first knew deep pain. I told my counselor that now I know we are “grafted,” but as burn patients understand grafting. To be grafted is to have a wound that requires deep cuts and stitches before it heals. A wound that will continue to burn and ooze agonizingly long after you want it to be healed. We lived in the proverbial “ICU” during our first year and a half at home. All three of us have the scars on our hearts to prove it. (We will likely find that our wound reopens at various stages of our life as an adoptive family.)

But we are healing into a grafted family. And it is beautiful. My heart does leap with excitement as we become.

I wrote this in my journal just last week:

This season feels like one of rest and fulfillment after a really hard climb, complete with falls, scrapes, and painful bruises. It feels as though we’ve reached a huge meadow after a tortuous hike and can rest here for a while in the beauty of flowers, sweet breezes, butterflies, a bubbling brook, a shade tree, and a picnic lunch. I am feeling full and alive and rested in a way I haven’t felt in a long time. A “before we started our adoption” kind of long time. Back in 2013 kind of long time.

As I listened to the words of these special songs, my heart breathed out a sigh I didn’t know I’d be holding. Oh, how we prayed for Him to find us in our hard days! Oh, how we prayed for songs of comfort in the night! Oh, how how we ached to believe that what we were fighting for was true!

He was answering all along.

And then I heard another song. A rejoicing song. A song we’ve played over and over and over. One of the first songs JM “sang” for us in the car one day last year.

“I am not who I once was,
defined by all the things I’ve done.
Afraid my shame would be exposed,
afraid of really being known.
But then you gave my heart a home!

So, I walked out of the darkness and into the light
from fear of shame into the hope of life.
Mercy called my name and made a way to fly
out of the darkness into the light.”

– Ellie Holcomb, Marvelous Light

Two notes into the song, JM came into the kitchen dancing, laughing. He was singing the words of the song to me, not knowing that his very life is the words of this song.

It was one of those moments when the world stands still, everything but him turning blurry in my vision. Watching my son, home, singing the words to a freedom song in my kitchen. Believing with me that the truth of what we fought together has brought us into the marvelous light of God’s healing in a way I used to only dream about.

So Mary trusted God more than what her eyes could see.

– The Jesus Storybook Bible

Now my eyes are seeing.

He does heal our kids. He does heal us.

For He has torn, but He will heal us. (Hosea 6:1)

It’s true.
Hallelujah.

_____________________________________________

Karli

Karli Smeiles is a wife, mother, and birth doula. She finds inspiration for her writing in the faces of her boys, and in the abundant love of a redemptive God who recycles everything for good.
Karli and her husband welcomed their first son through adoption in February 2014, discovering along the way just how beautiful and painful adoption can be. The Smeiles family grew by one more as they welcomed a biological son to their family in May 2015!
Find more of Karli’s writing at www.lovesongforHim.wordpress.com.

Get the Word Out

You know the feeling.  God had just opened your eyes to adoption, you were brimming with excitement, and couldn’t wait to shout it from the mountain tops.  Your excitement was contagious.  You couldn’t wait to get started, couldn’t wait to find your child, couldn’t wait to dive right in.  You wanted to share your news with everyone.  You were eager to get the word out.

 

You know the feeling.  Days or weeks into your wait for a match or your search for your child you become overwhelmed.  Overwhelmed with the sheer number of precious children in need of a family or foster family.  Children of all ages and races all over the world or right in your state stare back at you from photo listings.  Your eyes have been opened to the huge need for families and the need to get the word out.

 

You know the feeling.  Somewhere in the adoption process, you hear of or see or even meet a child who captures your heart.  And while you know this child is not meant for your family, you can sense God nudging you to get involved, to share his picture, to share her profile,  You know you need to advocate, to get the word out.

 

You know the feeling. You feel dazed and in a fog.  You are missing what used to be and feel overwhelmed by what is.  Whether the attachment process going well or is in need of serious intervention, adjusting to a new family member is as taxing as it is wonderful.  Keeping it all in just isn’t working anymore.  You recognize the need for understanding and encouragement.  It’s time to share what’s on your heart.  It’s time to let some trusted people know how it’s really going, and so you get the word out.

 

You know the feeling.  You have found a resource, a book, a blog, a retreat, a seminar, a workshop, a community that has helped you and your family so much.  Your struggle has eased, or maybe it still lingers but you don’t feel so alone.  You have some answers, some strategies, some hope.  You know there are others who could benefit from this same encouragement, and so you get the word out.

 

If you’ve been a reader of We Are Grafted In for any amount of time, you know that it is our goal to provide a sense of community so you don’t feel alone in what you are going through.  Joys and struggles – and encouragement – are meant to be shared.  We strive to feature posts from other bloggers about adoption, foster care, and orphan care that will encourage, inspire and challenge you.  We are passionate about getting the word out so you, our readers, can not only learn and grow, but can also connect with each other.

 

As we gear up for a new season of new content we hope that you will join us in getting the word out:

  • Do you know friends who could benefit from reading We Are Grafted In?  Please share our blog with them. Invite them to like our Facebook page.
  • Have you come across a blog post that has spoken to your heart? That has challenged your thinking? That has put words to what you couldn’t articulate about adoption, foster care, or orphan care? Get the word out about it by submitting it to WAGI for consideration.  We’d love to hear from you.  (Send them via PM through our Facebook page or email the link to stephanie@sparrow-fund.org.)

 

Thank you for being a faithful reader of WAGI and for helping us get the word out. You are a valued part of this community!

TheSparrowFund_BirdOnly

 

TC2016 Speakers

We shared the location of Together Called 2016 months ago. But, many of you have been emailing us since then…

Who is speaking this year?

Dying to know who is going to speak this year!

Our team put a lot of blood, sweat, and prayers into finding the couple called to be our keynote speakers at this next Together Called. And, we found them.

Allow us to introduce you to our new friends and Together Called’s next speakers…

Matt and Becca Whitson.

Matt and Becca Whitson

Matt and Becca Whitson

Matt and Becca Whitson were married in 1998 and have three kids via both birth and adoption. Matt is the Executive Pastor at a multisite church in Arkansas, and Becca is a licensed therapist in private practice. They believe in the power of stories—in their ability to heal, to expose our hearts, to build community, and, most importantly, to reveal God’s work in our lives. They are passionate about sharing the hope of Jesus through their work and family—the failures, the successes, and the brokenness and beauty of everyday. They enjoy traveling and speaking together (which we’re thankful for!), and they write (when they find the time!) about marriage, parenting, and life as a transracial family at WhitsonLife.com.

Mark April 8th-10th on your calendars now!

And, set an alarm for Sunday, October 4th at 8:50pm so that you have your fast fingers ready to sign up right as registration opens at 9:00pm.

Ayi For a Day {50 for 50 in 5 weeks}

They are oft overlooked much like the children they care for. They live in a place where what you do and how much you make is everything which means they have very little. Watching over and meeting the needs of children with no known roots is hardly considered a career; it’s a job. Some of the ayis do their best to do that job well despite the meager pay they’re given. They braid little girls’ hair, make funny faces to make babies giggle, pursue the child who looks different. Others simply do their duty. All of them are in the hard and obviously broken corners of our world, and they cannot help but be impacted by it.

They go by the name Ayi or, in some places, are all called Mama in painful irony of the purpose of what they do. Their purpose is to ready children for new mamas, to care for children well enough so that they can leave to be cared for by another, living in a seemingly endless cycle of nurture and departure. Surely, most ayis are glad to see a child leave as it means he has a future and will become something he could never become where he is now. We’ve seen ayis clap their hands and laugh aloud at the news that one of their children has a family coming for her. But, we can only imagine that their hearts bear scars as well from all the goodbyes. Those scars run deeper still for those who were once little girls there themselves but never got to say goodbye.

We intercede for vulnerable children, but we often overlook these vulnerable women. His hearts breaks for them as well, as should ours. It is impossible for us to truly know what their days are like, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to enter in. This effort launched today is to move us towards that and give us an opportunity to crack that door open and enter into the experience of a woman whose heart is not unlike our own.

Ayi For a Day.

ayi for a day kit 4 We’ve thoughtfully and carefully assembled 50 kits, each one slightly different in shades and tastes, to engage and unite 50 women in interceding for the ayis in China we serve at an orphanage in Shaanxi as well the innumerable ayis all over China. The kits include various items to use over the course of one dedicated day—shoe covers, sleeve covers, tea, chopsticks, Chinese snacks, Chinese money, and more—with specific prayer prompts to lead you in prayer as you do. But, the experience isn’t over at the end of one day. Enclosed in each kit will be a postage-paid envelope you will use to return the sleeve covers to us in time to be hand carried to China on October 7th. The sleeve covers you will wear and pray over on your Ayi Day will become an ayi gift and placed on the hands of an another woman on the other side of the globe.

ayi for a day kit 3We need 50 women who desire to join their hearts and prayers for the sake of 50 other women in China.

50 kits for 50 women for a donation of $50 in 5 weeks. That’s our goal. The money raised will be put into The Sparrow Fund’s orphan care and ayi care fund. And, the prayers raised will change the world.

Click on the “Donate” button below to become one of the 50. Please note #ayiday or “Ayi For A Day” in the notes field when you donate. Your kit will be sent to you next week with clear instructions on how to use your kit to engage your family and your own heart.




Only 50 kits are available, so don’t wait to join us. And, just to encourage you a little more, the first 10 women who join the effort will find a little extra gift in their kit.