Category Archives: Adoption and Faith

How adoption and faith are connected

In My Heart Forever {China Trip}

I’m home.  And I’ve been awake since 3am thanks to jet lag.  I gave up trying to fall back to sleep at 4:30am, and finally got out of bed.  With the children from the orphanage taking over my dreams, and their precious little faces dancing across my closed eyelids, I knew it was a lost cause.  While everyone else on this side of the world rests, I am wrestling with what I experienced and captured through my camera this past week.

Thinking of the children and the reality of their daily lives brings me to my knees.  While I can drink coffee without boiling water first, and write a blog post without a sometimes-working, buggy VPN, the children are most likely finishing up dinner halfway across the world.  While I will soon hug and kiss my beloved little ones good morning, and tell them how much I love them, the children will prepare for bedtime with no mama and baba to tuck them in and tell them how much they are adored and so very worthy.  While they sleep, my day will carry on in the peace and warm serenity of my home and church, surrounded by my treasured family and friends.  And some variation of my comfortable life will play out every day while the children in the orphanage remain inexplicably grateful and joyful and happy, despite all that they’re missing.

The incredible disparity of our worlds is almost too much to fathom.

I was invited into a community of His people that I didn’t know before.  A community that’s real, even though it’s easy to ignore because it seems so distant and far away.  A small community of His children who are hurting and longing for mamas and babas of their very own.  A community of His nannies who give their very best every day to help the children live and grow.  But even their very best simply isn’t enough because there are too many children and not enough of them.  Because nothing replaces the love and belonging of a family.

I think of precious Wayland and the way the Father literally put him in front of me, despite my ability to remain emotionally unattached behind my lens.  My job as photographer makes it easy to observe from a distance.  It’s a role that I’m comfortable playing because it allows me to stay focused and complete the task at hand.  It’s the role that I signed up for when I said yes to this trip – to document our time and bring home pictures of waiting children to help them find families.

Though I wanted to be open to what the Father had waiting for me during this trip, I did not expect to fall as hard as I did.  He wrecked me.  Not just for Wayland, but for all of the children.  For the nannies.  Although I was the designated photographer on the trip, the Father used the short time in mighty ways to show me why I was really on that trip.  Despite myself, I got to see a small glimpse of His love for all of His children.  To understand what’s truly important.  Not medical diagnoses or adoption files or questioning whether a nanny is feeding children the right way.

But people.  Loving people is what’s important.  No matter their status or special need.  Orphan, nanny, or otherwise.  That’s what He wanted me to see.  Because the Father wants all of us to be adopted as His sons and daughters.  And He’ll use anyone to accomplish His mission, if we just humbly offer ourselves to be available.

As Mike Foster wrote in his book, People of the Second Chance, “Bring what you have, no matter what it looks like.  His standards are embarrassingly low, and he will work with everything you’re willing to put into his hands.  You are imperfect, but you can be perfectly loved and perfectly used by him.” (pg. 30)  I’m resting in that truth this morning.  As I reflect on this past week and try my hardest to make good on my promise to Wayland, my prayer is that He perfectly loves and uses me and all of my team members, despite our imperfectness.

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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.

The Gospel in My Living Room

In her book Kisses from Katie, Katie Davis wrote, “Adoption is the gospel in my living room.”  I know I have posted that before, but I’m realizing how wrong it feels out of context.  The full quote doesn’t sound as nice, but there’s a reason Katie wrote every word of:

In an effort to be real, I will tell you: It was hard. . .  [Adoption is] the greatest blessing I have ever experienced.  Adoption is also difficult and painful.  Adoption is the gospel in my living room.  And sometimes, it’s just hard. (72)

I haven’t talked about the hard side of adoption here that much, mostly because I want to protect my siblings.  I don’t want others, people who can’t understand how hard their road to family was, to judge them.  Because of that I’m not sharing specifics.  But I’ve been avoiding posting about the grit of adoption, and I feel like I need to face it.

Adoption is like the gospel, but that doesn’t necessarily mean what we want it to.  When we think of the gospel, we like to think of nice things–forgiveness, healing, life.  Crowds of people with enough bread and fish to eat, men raised from the dead, women healed, children sitting happily in Jesus’ lap.

And that’s all very cozy, but there’s more to it than that.  Some parts of the gospel are not so pleasant, and some parts are downright nasty.  The gospel is rough; it is blood, and sweat, and tears.

The gospel is stains, and scars, and grime under my finger nails.  Redemption is my lungs constricted with sobs, and dust clinging to my sweaty palms.  Adoption is jumping ship and walking on the water, and realizing the waves are tall and the wind is strong, and feeling my faith flicker like a candle caught in a draft.

Adoption is not running to the pain–adoption is bringing the pain home with me, into the stronghold that was my only safe place.

It took me so long to fully understand how every adoption has and always will start with tragedy and heart-tearing sacrifice.  I can look into a child’s eyes–wrap my fingers around five smaller ones–and whisper yes, because someone looked into the same wounded face, answered no, and opened her hands.  My joy and my gain is, and must be, tainted by their grief and loss.

Adoption is a kind of warfare; against pain and shame, and injustice and abandonment.

“Adoption is redemption.  It is costly, exhausting, expensive and outrageous.  Buying back lives costs so much. When God set out to redeem us, it killed him.”  –Derek Loux

Adoption will cost you.  It will hurt you.  In a way, it will kill you.

Adoption will leave you on your knees, breathless; staring into Jesus’ face, that shines with radiant light.

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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.

Where We’ve Been {For the Boys}

If you’ve wondered where we’ve been, we’ve been doing summer with our families as you, no doubt, are. We hope that amidst the busyness of summer fun you’ve been able to soak in many moments of meaningful time with your families and with your Father.

But in addition to the normal events of summer, some pretty incredible things have been happening. (Isn’t that how He likes to work? Showing up in big ways while normal life is happening?) Three young friends from a Chinese orphanage are being hosted in the Philly area in hopes that, among other things, they would be able to find their families. However, these three have something in common that makes this task of finding families more difficult…they are boys…older boys. It’s because of this and because of them that The Sparrow Fund has started a special fund. Please take a moment to read more from Kelly, and prayerfully consider how you might be a part of this exciting new adventure!

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Jasper. Brett. Joel (4)

Three 8-year-old boys in South China were doing life together. They giggled together. They sang and danced together. They played ball together. They went to school together everyday for their first year of primary school and helped each other along as they practiced writing their characters. They were typical little boys in every way.

Except they lived here.

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In this room with about 30 others, they sleep at night, with legs curled up so they still fit in these little metal beds.

In mid June, all three they came to the Philadelphia area as part of Madison Adoption Associates’ hosting program. The boys were told it was for a cultural and educational experience, and they were told to be good. The families, including our own, committed to hosting them also committed to loving them well and advocating for them so that when they said goodbye in mid July, they’d know they were coming back.

One of the boys already has a family who has said yes to making him their son. But, two remain, including the little man who calls me Ayi.

for the boys collage

Check this out…

The Sparrow Fund has started a special fund called FOR THE BOYS to cover their approximately $5,000 USD orphanage donation. And, the team has secured a donor willing to match your donation up to $500. So, your $50 contribution for the boys will be matched with an additional $50, thus making a total of $100 available, $50 towards each boy’s required orphanage donation. 

Head over HERE to contribute and to follow along!

The Importance of a Family Code Word

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Last month, our family went on a small trip, which included a very emotional, adoption-related event for one of our kids. In processing the event with him beforehand, I could tell it would be difficult, although meaningful, for him. The possibility of him becoming flooded with emotion was huge.

I told him the day before that we could have a secret code word that would let me know he was feeling overwhelmed and needed a change of scenery. He loved the idea and chose the word himself (I’ll use “butterfinger” as the example for this post). We went over it again the following morning, and he seemed to feel a sense of relief to be able to say one word to me or Matt, without his siblings or anyone else knowing, and we would help him get out of the situation immediately. We even practiced it, so he would see how easy it would be to say, “I wish I had a Butterfinger,” and we responded accordingly.

He didn’t use his code word that day. And I think knowing he could was part of the reason he didn’t need to.

He felt safe.

Since then we’ve had similar talks with our older child as well but for different reasons. At someone else’s house and feel uncomfortable for any reason? Call us and use the code word. We’ll come get you and talk about it later. Embarrassed to call us to get you out of an unhealthy situation because your buddies are there? Use the code word. We’ll figure it out.

We want our kids to feel safe- emotionally, physically, and spiritually. For us, part of that means the ability to communicate with us in a way that is private and reassuring to them.

There are many uses for a family code word:

1. To communicate emotional flooding in a public setting and privately express the need to get a breather. This is especially helpful with kids who struggle with anxiety- generalized or specific to certain triggers- or with kids who are in the midst of a very emotional time (e.g. at a funeral).

2. To let a parent know you need to get out of an unsafe situation. For us, this includes a general feeling of discomfort, even if they can’t explain why. We want them to learn to trust their “gut” and to know we trust them to make good decisions.

3. To let a parent know when you need help, even if you’ve created the problem yourself. As our kids get into adolescence, their freedom will increase. And so will the temptations around them. They will mess up. But if we can help them feel safe in coming to us, even in their sin (especially in their sin), we have a much better chance of decreasing their shame and helping them run to Jesus in the midst of it.

I bet there are many more ways we’ll use our code word(s) as our kids get older. Has your family ever used secret words? What worked for you?

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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.

We Were. We Are. He Is.

us(pp_w343_h428)A couple of weekends ago, DH and I gathered with 100 other adoptive, foster, and pre-adoptive couples for our 4th annual Together Called marriage retreat.  It is always a time we anticipate greatly. To say that this year was our favorite is an understatement.  We were so blessed to be a small part of the event.  We met so many new friends and were incredibly honored to hear their stories.  We hugged old friends who we hadn’t seen in a long time.  We learned together.  We worshiped together.  We prayed together.  We shared meals together.  We openly discussed our struggles in a safe environment. We were unmasked and vulnerable together.  We drank coffee by the fire.  We spent time in fellowship and laughed until we cried. Sometimes we just cried.  We enjoyed the beautiful views.  We even watch snow fall.  In April.

We were urged by our speakers to have open discussions with our spouse throughout the weekend – to share favorite memories, reminisce about where we’ve come from, reflect on where we are, and dream about where we might go.  We were inspired to complete our “We were … We are … He is …” statements.

Most of all though, we were reminded that through this crazy journey of life, we are enough because HE is enough.  That can sometimes be difficult to remember in the midst of folding laundry and cooking meals and making beds.  Helping children through trauma and tantrums and bad choices, as adoptive and foster parents often do, can make anyone weary.  And feeling the shame of not measuring up to whatever standard we use, can be utterly crippling.  But this weekend brought encouragement and hope to press on. To keep running the race set before us, looking to Jesus.  We truly are enough, because He is enough.

Many couples have commented about the refreshment, restoration, and connection that this weekend has offered them. I’m so thankful for that. Because that’s what this work is all about.  DH and I were humbled to serve with a remarkable team who tirelessly worked to make this time together simply unforgettable and hope-filled.  Seeing the Father work through so many families was truly inspiring.  We are already counting down the days until next year’s retreat!  Mark your calendars for March 31-April 2, 2017!  We’re back at Bear Creek in Macungie, PA, and would be absolutely delighted to see you there!

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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.

Adoption: As it was in the Beginning

It all started with prayer really, now that I think back on it. Adoption was not even on my radar that spring night, never had been. Even so, God broke into our world with the call to adoption, despite the fact that we had never even talked about adoption, much less prayed about it. We had actually been praying over the last year about something else. We were asking God to use our family in His kingdom. We wanted more than a Sunday morning faith; we wanted to serve Him—to make a difference.

Looking back I see that those prayers were the womb to receive the seed of adoption; those prayers prepared us not only to hear the call, but also they gave us the courage to say yes.

After that night in 1999 our prayers shifted in a big way. Like an umbilical cord connecting a mother to her child, our prayers attached us in a profound and supernatural way to our new children, creating a conduit for the life source to flow before we even knew boy or girl, one or siblings, domestic or foreign. Long before they came into our arms, our prayers linked us to them.

And over the 16 years since our children came home (turned out there were 4 of them!) the role of prayer it seems to me is even more important than ever. It has morphed from being a womb to receive the call or an umbilical cord to connect and nourish to a weapon to fight battles and a pillow to find rest. For as much as I love and appreciate good parenting, I have found that my prayer life is as practical a parenting tool as any other, and far more powerful!
Likewise, as much as I value “self care” in this long-haul journey we are on, I have recognized that my connection with God through prayer brings more rest and peace to me than I can get anywhere else.

There are also those times when I absolutely need to grab a trusted friend to pray, believing God with me for breakthrough. And in those really tough seasons when I am too exhausted or discouraged to do it myself, I have relied on friends to pray for me.

Most of us began our adoptions in prayer, and I want to encourage us all today to continue on in that same way, “as it was in the beginning…” I love this verse from Galatians:

Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up! (Galatians 3:1-4 MSG)

When we began our adoption story prayer played an obvious and key role. We rarely turned a page or started a new chapter without it!

So may it be for us in the years after that first trembling decision to adopt. The same God who brought your child home to you and took you through all the obstacles you faced is the very same One who is with you in the car pool line, at the therapist, in the kitchen and bedroom and bath, on the soccer field and at the doctor’s office…. and in those deep deep places of your child’s heart that bear the wounds of relinquishment.

Oh what goodness God has in His heart for us and our families just waiting to be birthed in prayer!!
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Beth Templeton

Beth Templeton

Beth has been married to her husband Stephen for 27 years. They have seven children, ages 18-24. Several years after giving birth to three girls God called their family to the adventure and blessing of adoption. In 2000, they brought home a brother and sister, ages 5 and 10, from Russia. Then they returned to the same orphanage 18 months later and brought home two more brothers, ages 7 and 10. Beth’s heart has been deeply and forever changed as she has watched the love of Father God poured out on her whole family through adoption. She leads Hope at Home, a ministry dedicated to help adoptive and foster parents encounter the Father’s heart for their families, partnering with God to transform orphans into sons and daughters. For more parenting insight and encouragement in the Lord, go to Hope at Home.

 

Adoption Reflections

When we first followed God’s call for adoption, we had an idea of what our family would look like, but God had a different one. Initially, my husband and I said we only wanted a little one as young as we could adopt without any special needs. Since I would never carry a child in my womb, we wanted to experience all those fun benchmarks parents enjoy with their children, and frankly special needs scared us. However, God kept pointing and dragging us toward the special needs, and the in the end, He opened our hearts to three precious children with hand and/or foot deformities who have transformed our lives in ways we could never have imagined.  

11181217_10107900757884744_498877627850055729_nSo our sweet little Grace Lihua entered our lives at 18 months old. She brought us great joy, and just like any other toddler, we had the opportunity to teach her English, experience the joys of potty training, etc. We have watched her grow in beauty both inside and out, way too fast! She is now six years old and continues to amaze me on daily.  

 

 

 

Then God did something crazy. Not crazy to Him, of course, but crazy to me. He brought an eight-year-old boy into our lives. My husband first saw his picture in an email from our adoption agency and simply sent me a text that said “I want him”.   

I’m gonna be honest with y’all. When I saw that text, I laughed, just like Sarah (Gen. 18:12). First of all, a text like this was very out of character for my husband. Second, there was no way I was going to adopt an eight-year-old boy. Think of all we had missed in his life. He wouldn’t speak English. How would he respond to discipline at the age of 8? Would he even want his life disrupted? I had any number of excuses and fears. But God had a different plan and He changed my heart. 

12189967_10107900757859794_3578549754294173009_nAnd so Anthony Jianyou became our son at the age of 8. It was by no means easy. The hardest thing for us was the language barrier. He wanted to talk with us, discuss things with us and vice versa, so we struggled for a while with a translator app, but God is faithful. This was His plan, not ours. I worked with Anthony daily, and after being immersed our lives, he learned English and our love grew and developed as did our ability to communicate. The things we learned about our sweet boy still bring tears to my eyes. He told us that while he was in China, he often wondered if there was someone out there greater than himself who loved him. Now his love for the Lord brings such joy to our hearts as does his heart for sharing God’s love with China.   

Our family still felt incomplete. We knew there was one more little girl waiting for her forever family.

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Enter Eva Hanting. She was four at the time of her adoption and her transition has been the most difficult. She spoke a regional dialect so it was very difficult to communicate at first with her. She was unaccustomed to discipline and was very attached to her care givers. At four, she had a great desire to understand everything we asked of her so we struggled for a while, but now as we approach the one year mark with our precious girl, the change is remarkable. For the first time, this past week, she told me that she now liked America and did not want to go back to China. This is a huge step for her. And she truly has the desire now to obey us with a happy heart. Oh, and did I mention she is basically fluent now in English.  

No adoption is easy, Whether it is a older child adoption or a baby, there will be ups and downs and joy and pain, but oh the rewards and beauty of seeing their lives changed forever. “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families . . . ”  Psalm 68:5-6a 

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Suzanne Meledeo

After struggling with infertility for 5 years, God led Suzanne and her husband Adam to His Plan A for their lives—adoption! Their daughter, Grace Lihua, came into their lives in 2011 from the Fujian Province, China. Their son, Anthony Jianyou, joined their family in January of 2013 from Shanghai, and Eva Hanting joined their family in May of 2015 from the Hunan Province. After a career in politics, Suzanne is thankful for God’s provision in their lives that now allows her to work part time as a Pilates instructor while home schooling their children and working as a part of the WAGI leadership team. You can follow their adoption journey and life on their blog, Surpassing Greatness.

 

Okay With Being Okay

For the past few years there has been an increase in information about the effects of trauma in childhood, specifically trauma in adopted children.  There has also been an increased acceptance of people sharing the “hard” of adoption.  Both of these are changes that overall have had a very positive effect on adoption in general.  Struggling parents no longer have to feel like they should hide, or lie, or feel isolated.  They instead can connect with both experts and other struggling parents to gain much needed support and help.  Potential adoptive parents are much better equipped going into their own adoptions.  Their eyes have been opened to the fact that adoption is not all roses and rainbows.  And that is true, and honest, and in many cases accurate.

Ironically, I’ve seen that shift begin to isolate a different group of adoptive parents – parents of adopted children who are not struggling.  Families who have experienced smooth transitions, whose children have not exhibited any sensory issues, whose relationships with siblings have been easy and very typical of any siblings.

I’m kind of afraid to tell people that he is fine, that we are fine.

Sometimes I feel like we should be struggling more.

I often feel like people listen to me with a look that says “just wait” or “clearly you aren’t well-informed or tuned into your child’s struggle”.

Perhaps adopted children with smooth transitions will struggle in other ways down the road, but maybe they won’t.

Perhaps those smooth sibling transitions will hit shags along the way in future years, but maybe they won’t.

Perhaps signs of trauma are simply hidden for this season only to appear in other seasons, or perhaps not at all.

Perhaps parents that report no negative behaviors are looking through rose-colored glasses, or maybe they see things as they truly are – and they are good.

Smit

Recognizing the high potential for negative trauma-related behaviors in adopted children is necessary.  It is good to be informed, well-informed.  Our children need us to be ready to assist them in working through any issues that arise, when they arise, if they arise.

Welcoming and supporting and accepting families who are being honest about their child’s or their family’s struggle with trauma-related issues is also necessary.  It has been a welcome shift to see the false narrative of “adoption is beautiful” become one that also says, “but, sometimes it’s hard and messy and complicated.”

Honesty and authenticity about adoption is necessary and healthy, but only if we are willing to offer equal acceptance of those whose journey has not been hard, messy, or complicated.  Instead of giving a look that says just you wait, let’s be sure our message is equally supportive.  Let’s celebrate the grace God has given.  Let’s revel in His ability to make all things new.  His redemptive work may take place over years of hard and complicated, but He is just as able to bring redemption quickly, or easily, or without much struggle.  Just as these children are His, so the work is also His…His to accomplish when and how He sees fit.

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Stephanie Smit18 years in the classroom as a teacher was easy compared to parenting three little ones at home full-time. Through their three daughters, God has revealed Himself most clearly to Stephanie and her husband Matthew. He not only worked a miracle in giving them their biological daughter, He continued to show Himself in mighty ways throughout adoption journeys in China and Bhutan that were anything but normal. Nowadays she enjoys encouraging and connecting with other adoptive families through speaking and her work on the leadership team of “We Are Grafted In” and on the Board of The Sparrow Fund.  

You’ve Been Framed

Stephen recently went to the optometrist and came back with new glasses.
His eyes are pretty bad and if it weren’t for new technology he would
totally have the “coke bottle” look. But even so, he ended up returning
the new frames because he found they limited his peripheral vision.

Does that ever happen to you? I mean, you put on a pair of glasses through
which you will view your children, their trauma and adoption story, and
find you cannot see accurately, or you realize your focus is “off”–yeah,
I’m actually talking about me, but I figure you know that!

I am aware that sometimes I pick up unhelpful frames when I look at my
children. If I pick put the frames of criticism, I see that which
disappoints. If I look at my children through the frames of their behavior
in the moment that so often stems from their past traumas, it is easy to
lose my peripheral vision of the truly amazing things God has done in
their lives, and in mine.

But I have these grace frames that I prefer to wear. They are wonderful!

With my grace frames on, I can see accurately and move about freely
without stubbing my toe on some offense or spraining my ankle in some area
of lack.

In grace, I see my child as God sees him. I see with lenses that focus on
what God is doing and has done, rather than what still needs to be done.
My eyes begin to catch the lines of definition in his spirit, enjoying
what God enjoys about this treasured child.

And then I am able to say, “I see you!”–not to call out what is wrong or
missing, but to define and declare what is true. I have the privilege to
define my child, not by his current behavior, nor by his past orphan
status, or even by his present adopted status, but by his identity and
calling.

It is the nature of the enemy to want to capture you in the worst and
weakest moments of your life and then suspend you with that view of
yourself, and to constantly remind you “This is who you are!”–that is why
he is called the accuser.

It is the nature of God to capture you in the victory won by Jesus in His
death, burial and resurrection and suspend you in that view of yourself,
and to constantly remind you “This is who you are!”–that is why He is
called the comforter. (Greg Haswell)

You and I have the unique opportunity to be ones who speak into the
identity and calling of our sons and daughters. That is, we get to
constantly remind them who they are.

We pick out the frames of grace and start our own name-calling campaign!
We refuse to wear the glasses that can only see best what is wrong, what
is weak, what needs ‘fixing.’ Instead, we don those frames that catch each
one in his or her identity in Christ, viewing them as their heavenly
Father views them.

This is powerful parenting.
This is parenting in grace.
This is what love looks like.

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Beth Templeton

Beth Templeton

Beth has been married to her husband Stephen for 27 years. They have seven children, ages 18-24. Several years after giving birth to three girls God called their family to the adventure and blessing of adoption. In 2000, they brought home a brother and sister, ages 5 and 10, from Russia. Then they returned to the same orphanage 18 months later and brought home two more brothers, ages 7 and 10. Beth’s heart has been deeply and forever changed as she has watched the love of Father God poured out on her whole family through adoption. She leads Hope at Home, a ministry dedicated to help adoptive and foster parents encounter the Father’s heart for their families, partnering with God to transform orphans into sons and daughters. For more parenting insight and encouragement in the Lord, go to Hope at Home.

 

The HOW of Adoption: {People Ask/Say all the Time}

Family-Photo-Ankerich

You can imagine the stares and questions we get when we walk into a place with all our littles. And the head shaking that ensues when we share about CallaAnne! I know! I used to be the same way when we were a family of three girls and bigger families were near. The same questions popped into my head that I will share below and little did I know God had MUCH bigger plans for our family than we would ever imagine.

Giving God control of your thoughts changes your life and gives you blessings you NEVER saw coming!!!

People ask us all the time HOW in the world are we able to handle this adoption life God has given us and at times its hard to put into words. My husband Scott chose this topic today and hope together we are able to give hope to anyone called… you just have to say yes.

People Ask/Say All the Time:

“How in the World do you handle all those children?”

God is First: We don’t handle them. We love them with God’s help. First and foremost, a relationship with God is foundational to all successes in life. Being in step with God’s will brings strength, guidance, and assurance all is well. Everything begins with prayer and as long as Scott and I are praying together, God keeps our hearts, thoughts, and actions aligned. Each time we have gone forward with an adoption, we BOTH had to know it was the right decision for our family and the only way we knew that was communication with God and each other.

It is NOT easy to move forward. We usually describe it as an elephant in the room. We know it’s there but we don’t discuss until we’ve prayed and have a decision. My prayer is always for God to press on Scott’s heart what is right and true. All in time, we come to the decision by allowing God to be First!

We can handle all God has called us to because it is His plan and He is First!


 

“How do you love so many at one time?”

Love each other like crazy: Scott says all the time we are able to love all our children because we love Each Other like crazy!!! Marriages need to be strong to handle the many facets of adoption. There is no way we could do this without each other. Complete submission and dedication in our marriage comes before the needs of our children and after following God. We are best friends and share everything. There are times when you feel you can’t go one more second and it is in those rough patches, a spouse can make all the difference.

I have sweet precious friends that are single and raising beautiful families too. I know they are surrounded by amazing people that support them in their journey as well. It boils down to putting your trust in the One whom has called us to this life. He gives all of us what we need for each day we wake up.

Scott and I certainly give God the glory for the Love we are able to pour out on so many and love each other well! 


 

“Well you all certainly had to be Called to adopt all those kids!” 

Being Called: We are ALL called in James 1:27 to look after orphans and widows. That can look so different for you and me. Our family was called to birth and adopt our children. You may be called to foster, support an orphan or orphanage, support a family adopting, or whatever you hear God telling you. The bottom line: You have to be Listening and Willing!!! We adopted our Chinese children because God showed us their faces and they were waiting for us to come. We will go until they are all home and we will know that being completely surrendered to God’s will.

We certainly did have to be called to birth and adopt all our children because God ordained it all!!!


 

“You sure do have your hands full!” 

Hearts Full: Yes our hands are full but mostly our hearts. When you are living a certain life, it’s not something you think about in tiny parts and decisions. It is a daily flow and rhythm of living and loving. It is being and doing the necessary things for everyone to stay alive and thrive. As basic needs are met, love begins to bloom because everyone is learning to be a family and feeling secure. When we are out and about, it does look like my hands are full especially walking through Target with six kids riding on the shopping cart, but there is strategy behind that practice and a whole lot of work back at home that brought us to this place. Love does not come easy or fast. Lots of blood, sweat, and tears come first.

Yes we have our hands full but our Hearts are the fullest and our life meaningful. 


 

“How are you going to send them to college?”

Confident: Educating our children is a one day at a time adventure. Two of our children have graduated college and living beautiful productive lives. One is in college now chasing the destiny God has laid before her. Six are home learning as we do life and I don’t worry about their future. God meant for them to be in our family and He is molding them into what He wants them to be. We spend much time reading the Bible and discussing how the stories apply to our lives then have time to actually practice them.

I LOVE our home life and confident God has their futures all figured out… I don’t have to be concerned with that just now. (Jer 29:11)


 

“Well you won’t ever retire, will you?”

Commitment: Choosing to have children is a lifelong commitment. It isn’t a choice made that ceases once they graduate college or get married or have their own kids. We are still extremely involved in our big kids’ lives and wouldn’t want it any other way. When we brought our children into our family, we committed our lives unto them. Our family hinges on this amazing scripture: 1 Peter 4:10, ” Each of you has received a gift to use to serve others. Be good servants of God’s various gifts of grace.” Where in the Bible do we ever see someone retired?

Scott and I will probably never have the retirement most people will enjoy BUT we will live our lives completely and fully to the measure God has set for us through our Retirement years.


“What do your big kids think about all these little kids?”

Sacrifice: We tell in our adoption story the amazing way our big girls (little then) wrapped their hearts around bringing home little EK when she was just 11 months old. None of us imagined we would soon have 7. There is no way adoption would have worked had they not been FOR it. Being for it doesn’t mean easy either. It is hard to be a child in a family and more being adding yearly but God covers that too. Our big girls have changed and matured so much through watching and accepting their little siblings into our family. Our littles are SO very blessed to have our littles in their lives. ALL of our children are SO very blessed to have so many to love them.

God did a mighty work in our big girls’ hearts when He brought us to adoption and we can’t imagine life any other way!


 

“You sure are blessing those kids and just so proud of you!”

Our Blessing!: The opposite couldn’t be more true. As much as we are blessing our children choosing them for our family, THEY are blessing us more than we can even put into words. We are different because of them. There are days when we are in awe and fright of maybe missing life with them and other days we wonder WHAT in the WORLD did we do. :) But when all settles down and we remember the calling, we are the ones being blessed just for saying yes!

Blessings always abound when you say yes to God! 


 

In the end, we can’t imagine standing before God and Him saying,

‘What in the world were you doing loving all those children?”

 

What’s your biggest fear in raising a big family? Trust God. He is OVER it all!!!

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2015-11-12-16.43.29-2Shay Ankerich is mom to nine going on ten kids (seven from China), wife to Scott, and a homeschooling mom.  She loves Jesus, adoption, blogging, reading, photography, and crocheting. She might even be writing a book but it seems to be taking a lifetime to finish. You can find her writing at A Beautiful Symphony about Family, Home, Adoption, and School.