Category Archives: Handling Questions With Grace

Our response to others around us

Things That Matter {Summer Rewind}

I’ve been counting down the days until this Spring’s Created For Care conference for over a year.

I stayed up until midnight the night registration opened to make sure I got on the list before it sold out.  I arranged a sitter months ago.  I made new friends online and even arranged to share a room with someone I’d never met, which is huge for a socially awkward girl such as myself.

Created For Care is a conference for Moms who have adopted to come together and be refreshed.  To learn more about what it means to parent for these kids that come from a broken past.

Nicole-11

 

Cause y’all, it’s hard.

Harder then I ever imagined.

Josie’s six now and it’s been about six months since the questions started.

Some are easy, “How big was I when I came home to you?”

Some squeeze my chest until there’s no air left and I have to actively fight the tears back, “Can I call her Mommy?  Does she love me?  Would it be OK if I love her?”

It wretches and twists.

I selfishly want her all to myself, but that’s not the truth.  She once belonged to someone else and even if that woman has no clue what she gave up when she walked out of that hospital and left my Josie Girl behind, Josie has a right to know about her, to love her if she wants to.

I want so, so badly for her to have a positive view on her adoption story.  It’s special and,miraculous.  Touched by God so obviously that anyone can see it.  And everyday that Josie gets older I’m more aware that how she feels about her adoption will lay largely on how I react to her questions.

We’ve been age appropriate, but open with her.

We’ve recently began sharing more details with her when she asks.  We don’t know much and a lot of her story she won’t be mature enough to hear for quite awhile, but she has names and her birth story and, yes baby, you can love her too.

“You don’t look like your Mommy,” her true to the world six year old friend states matter of factly and I see her eyes searching mine.  I know that she’s feeling shy so I take her hand in mine and share the mystery of adoption with a huge smile on my face.  I watch her friend get excited and yell out, “you got to be adopted?!?!” and there’s Josie’s smile.  She’s ready to share.

Born in an ambulance, made to be a Pope but had to find us first.  It’s her story and she’s piecing it together and I’m letting her grow and ask and trying hard to hold fast to my peace that I get to be her Mommy now and it’s ok, it’s good, to share.

So it’s hard and I was excited to go to Created For Care.

I was going to meet other moms that could really understand me and hear me and know I wasn’t complaining or ungrateful, but learning and feeling my way though, hoping I don’t screw up these kids.

And maybe a little bit scared too.

The closer the conference got though, the crazier our days were getting.  We have a few big trips coming up and I am struggling to find ways to fit everything in.  I tried to fight it and push on, but the feeling that something had to give kept pushing back.

And after a stressful morning where I was unkind to Josie, I looked at her coloring at the school table and my solution became clear.  I didn’t need a weekend away to refresh and regroup.  I needed a weekend away with her.

Just the two of us.  Where we can talk and make memories and nurture this bond.

And so we are.

This morning we hopped on a plane and are headed to our Winter Wonderland.  We should land in Minnesota anytime now.  We are going to have tea and meet Baby Ralphie and, if I can talk myself into it, spend some time sledding down hills in the freezing cold.

Sometimes I have to get out of my own head and refocus on what’s important.  I’m sure I’ll go to that conference someday.  But today I’m going to hold my daughter’s hand and celebrate everything God gave me when he handed me this child.

It isn’t easy, but it’s everything I’ve ever wanted.

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Nicole is a Northern Girl turned Southern Belle. She loves Starbucks, Photography, and Homeschool Curriculum Catalogs. Passionate about Jesus, adoption, and squeezing all the love and joy out of each day. You can follow along with her life at www.JourneyToJosie.com

To Pastors on Mother’s Day

for pastor's on mother's dayThis Sunday is Mother’s Day. I know you know that already. It’s been on your calendar all year.

Moms are going to fill your pews this Sunday wearing pretty dresses. Some will have been served breakfast in bed. Some will have received bouquets of flowers already that morning. Some will be looking forward to children coming home that day to take them out for lunch. Some will be anticipating phone calls, hugs, kisses, crayon drawings, and homemade cards.

But, Mother’s Day isn’t always that pretty.

There will be women sitting before you this Sunday who are aching to become mothers. Some of those women are struggling to make it day-by-day as they endure infertility treatment. Some of those women are single and long to be married and wonder if they will ever have the joy of being a mother.

There will be some women sitting before you this Sunday who are mothers but not parents, women who have placed children in other families to be raised by other mothers. They may not look or feel like mothers; they may struggle to define who they are.

There will be some women sitting before you this Sunday who were mothers for a short time and didn’t consider themselves that at all, women who ended their pregnancies and motherhood through an abortion and now wonder what life would have been like had they made another choice and chosen life for their child.

There will be some women sitting before you this Sunday who are broken mothers, mothers whose relationships with their children are strained at best, mothers who haven’t spoken to their grown children in months or even years, mothers whose children are in rehab or prison or who knows where.

There will be some mothers sitting before you this Sunday who are divorced from their children’s father and who are tired, so very tired, whose little ones may not even know it’s Mother’s Day at all.

There will be people sitting before you this Sunday who have lost their mothers and people who still have their mothers but have been hurt by them.

And, all those people? They’ve had Mother’s Day on their calendars all year too. But, they aren’t coming to church dressed in their prettiest clothes ready to stand to be recognized. Instead, they wonder if they should come at all. Some are ashamed. Some are resentful. Some are full of grief. Some are angry at the mothers around them, you for pointing them out, and God Himself. Some are simply sad and have already put tissues in their purses in anticipation of the day.

The ones coming to church in their best with smiles on their faces really don’t need to stand for recognition or be publicly thanked. They’ll get all that elsewhere. It’s the others who need you this Sunday. Speak for them.

To the women who are celebrating this Mother’s Day as mothers for the first time, know that we celebrate with you. 

To the women who serve day in and day out to little ones, cleaning noses and bottoms and sippy cups and car seats, know that we applaud you and support you.

To the women who work outside the home to provide for their families, know that we honor you for all that you carry.

To the women who have been celebrated by their families already today or will be later today, know that we take joy in that with you.

To the women who are not yet mothers and who long to be, whose hearts are heavy with that desire today, know that we walk with you through whatever God calls you to today and for days to come.

To the women who wonder what life would be like if they were mothering now the child who could have been theirs, know that we want to hold your hand and encourage you.

To the women who are separated relationally with painful distance between you and your children, know that we hurt with you and pray for reconciliation and trust for you that there is hope for just that.

To the women who are mothers here who haven’t had the recognition from their children and feel forgotten, know that we remember you.

To those who have been hurt by their mothers in some way, who find this day a painful reminder of that hurt, know that we acknowledge your pain and want to offer hope for restoration to you.

To those who are watching their mothers grow older and change or who are grieving the loss of their mothers, know that we grieve with you and pray for comfort for you.

It’s a big day—Mother’s Day. It’s your challenge…privilege…to communicate God’s love to everyone in your church this Sunday as is your call every Sunday. As you do that, HE will meet each one just where they are and speak the words they need to hear.

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Kelly Raudenbush

Kelly Raudenbush

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 has a Master’s degree in counseling and has been working with adoptive families since she and her husband Mark founded the The Sparrow Fund. 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.

What Makes A Mom

One night, I was sitting with A Friend during a banquet. It was fun watching all the little kiddos running around. We were remarking about how cute this one tiny little girl was. I mean, she was really, really, cute. She was maybe 3 years old cute. Then I noticed all of her siblings. And, you guessed it! They were all cute! They were all wearing cowboy boots and belt buckles that weighed more than the cute kids. Apparently they participated in bull-riding. Anyway, A Friend remarked to me, “You know…she has six kids, and she is only 38 years old.” Well, I just looked at A Friend. I wondered what was so remarkable about that since, well…I have six kids….they’re all cute….and I’m only….well…skip the 38 years old part.

So, I looked a little confused at A Friend, and replied to her, “I have six kids you know.” And she replied to me, “Well, she birthed all of hers. There is a difference.” Now, I am not a very good bluff. I’m sure she saw the surprised look on my face because she repeated herself, “There is a difference.” I just looked at her and didn’t really know what to say. Those words made me feel that I somehow had to prove myself as a mom. Was it a competition? Childbirth vs Adoption? Thoughts ran through my mind and I wondered if there really was a difference. I thought about my babes that I lost at birth, Ashton, Grace, Ben, and Rachel. I turned to A Friend and shared that little bitty fact with her. She replied, “I didn’t know.” How could she know?
It is not something I go around telling people.

That short five-minute conversation keeps popping into my mind. It is amazing how a simple comment can affect someone and cause their thoughts to go in all different directions. Is a mom, who has never given birth, less of a mom to her two, five, six, or even ten adopted children? Do those children not count on the scale of “mommy-hood”? Is giving birth some sort of badge of honor and those who are not successful doomed to wear a scarlet letter their entire life? Is it the physical act of childbirth and the passing on of our genetic traits that makes someone a mom? Or is it the raising of a child that makes someone a mom?

I’ve always heard that DNA doesn’t make someone a mom or dad. To me that is absolutely true. I guess I just have different eyes when it comes to mommy-hood. It is not the nine months of work up through the birth of the child that makes someone a mom. It is that mom’s entire life of self-sacrifice, prayer and devotion to her children that makes her a mom.

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 Cheri lives in Virginia with her husband, Mike, of 26 years. They have 2 adult children, and 4 children at home. After struggling with many pregnancy losses, they felt God was calling them to adopt a little girl from China. Upon returning home from their trip in 2006 to adopt Eva, they became more aware of the need of orphans. They traveled to China again in 2007 to adopt Joy. Always having the older children on her heart, but feeling incapable, Cheri felt an older child was in their future for adoption. In February 2010, Cheri traveled alone to Guangdong, China to adopt 7-year-old Ivy. Cheri started blogging to share her travels to China with friends and family but has also enjoyed sharing the ups and downs of adoption and family life.

Of My Own

“If Mommy gets a baby in her belly, will you send me back?” she asked him, with nervous eyes searching the floor, inhaling the shame of those words as if they were her indictment.

It’s often near the surface for this one — not the year she was “chosen” and a mommy and daddy flew all the way across the ocean to look her in the eyes and call her daughter — but the too-many, earlier years that still seem to weigh heavier. These days, she lives buoyant and giddy. Her eyes have found a sparkle and we see them more than we see those hands that spent nearly a year awkwardly covering them. My little girl laughs. A lot. And this week when I hugged her I could tell her body wanted to melt (not stiffen) in my arms.

But just within her reach is the shame she feels about her life on the other side, when her given last name tied her to no one. One phrase or question or hint of her past and I watch those eyes, which just harnessed a sparkle, go dark.

Adoption saved her and it haunts her, because of its open-ended definition to her. It’s still a question.

She, like many of the rest of us, has yet to reconcile the power of this one act.

+++

I hadn’t even kissed their foreheads or tickled their feet and this stranger’s words about them stung.

“Oh, you’re adopting? Just you wait. Once you have them at home I’m sure you’ll be able to have children of your own.”

A phrase I’ve heard a hundred times, and it never ceases to give my heart pause. Children of your own, words that expose a subconscious understanding of adoption as charitable affection versus primal love. As if these, once-adopted ones, were somehow, not truly … mine.

There is a distinction in our language about those children, once adopted, and their biological counterparts that reveals much more about the state of our hearts — the state of my heart — than it does about the children to whom it’s referring.

Orphan MJ

That simple phrase, often spoken by beautifully-intentioned people**, reveals the shame under which my daughter sometimes lives. But she’s not alone, she just lives an outward existence that represents the battle each one of us fights in our understanding of Him.

It is inherent to human flesh. We are interlopers, or so we think, hanging on to the coattails of another person’s inheritance. Certainly we’re not “one of His own”, we hold deep-down; instead we grasp at something we believe will never really name us. We are simply recipients of His charitable affections, we subconsciously reason.

Our language about physical adoption reveals the gaps in our understanding about how He has adopted us. And those words that sting when I hear them make me hurt more than just for my children, but for the representation of His name.

Most can’t imagine a love beyond what we see in the natural as the most intense form of love — the kind birthed when a mother’s body breaks open to give life to one that shared her flesh and her breath. How could it be that a mother could not only love, but see as her own, a child that her womb did not form and who wears another mama’s skin? We see the struggle of attaching, mother to child and child to mother, that so often happens in adoption, and it only reinforces our subconscious belief that true love between mother and child is only inherited through blood … and not won.

Lion MJ

+++

When her eyes fill with the shame of her history and her heart begins to clamp behind them and adoption is still her question — am I truly “in” or just posing – I see me. I see a hundred weak yes’s as just plain weak and all the things I’ve declared with my mouth that my body never fulfilled and the times I poured out prayers to Him only to forget Him, the real source of my strength, hours later.

I see a never-ending list of failures.

I live, subtly, as if I am on the outside of that fence. Just like her.

Barbed Fence MJ

All things that could be wiped away in an instant if I understood the power of His having adopted me. This reality changes everything.

I am a child of His own, this God-Man who wrapped His holiness around my sin-stained existence and renamed me.

Adopted.

Grafted.

Ducks MJ

I am one who is marked by His name more than any of my failures.

A child who knows that adoption isn’t really about the past that haunts her, the forever stamp of separate, not included, but instead the name of the King who fought, hard for her — she wears a love that is fierce.

Daddy

She’s a force with which to be reckoned, this wildly-loved former-orphan.

Me.

+++

So when I hear that phrase “a child of your own” separating the children under my roof from the one my womb will bear, and my heart saddens at the misunderstanding of this wild-love that’s been birthed within my home* among children who wear another mama’s skin, I can’t help but think of Him.

He calls me “His own” when the world and my heart wants to label me forever severed.

Adoption is His great declaration.

*For the mama who has children “of her own” wearing different skin: This love we birthed, when we signed countless papers and spent sleepless nights waiting and fell in love with a picture or a name before we heard a heartbeat, is other but still very much His. To love them fiercely, like blood, requires an unnatural impartation of His love, in and through us. It’s not normal, but it is fully possible. In Him.

If you’re wrestling under the weight of the “not yet” that you feel towards them or the “not yet” that they demonstrate towards you, don’t shrink back. This gap is merely His opportunity to move. Now, more than ever, it’s your time to pray and to ask and to hope for Him to bind your family with a beautiful love that can only point back to His name.

**For those looking for a new term: There is grace to learn, and learn now. If you are like me, you have likely been one who learns what not to say by saying it several times the wrong way :) . You are in good company.

The term we and many other adoptive families prefer to use to distinguish a child born into a family versus one adopted into a family is “biological child”. We, personally, prefer not to refer to our children as “adopted children” as we see adoption as having been a one-time event. We just call them our children. (And this leaves room for all the other adjectives that define them;)). If we need to distinguish, we’ll say “we have four children who were adopted.” But that’s just our personal preference. No need to stumble over your words around us, we’re all learning — there is grace for you to stumble while you learn!

Photos compliments of Mandie Joy (who is currently fostering a baby, stateside! Pop on over to her blog to catch a glimpse of those baby-toes.)

For Your Continued Pursuit (verses on adoption): Ephesians 1:4-6 | Galatians 4:5-7 | 1 John 3:1 (&2) | Romans 9:26 | Romans 8:14-16 | Romans 8:21,23 | Ephesians 2:19 | Romans 9:8 | John 1:13 | Isaiah 43:7 | Psalm 27:10 | Hebrews 12:6 | Revelation 21:7 | Hebrews 2:10 | Ephesians 3:15 | John 11:25 | Psalm 68:5-6 | Psalm 10:14, 17-18

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Sara Hagerty

Sara Hagerty

Sara is a wife to Nate and a mother of four (and one on the way) whose birth canal bridged the expanse between the United States and Africa. After almost a decade of Christian life she was introduced to pain and perplexity and, ultimately, intimacy with Jesus. God met her and moved her when life stopped working. And out of the overflow of this perplexity, came her writing.You can read more of her writing at Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet.

Knowing Who You Are {The Spirit of Adoption}

It was a warm, beautiful day in Guangzhou. David and Kaikai were walking a little ways behind Grace, Lily and myself, so the girls and I stopped to look out over the lake. A (non-Chinese) man walked up next to us. “You have beautiful daughters,” he exclaimed.I thanked him and continued to talk to my girls.”Is their father Chinese?” he asked.”They are adopted,” I explained.”I see. Why didn’t you want to have children of your own?” he then asked.I had an instant flash of anger that this man would ask such a question in front of my girls. “They are my own,” I answered curtly.”Oh, you know what I mean,” he continued, oblivious to my irritation. “And what about their real mother?”
That was when I decided that it was time to leave. I turned to him and explained quite clearly that I was their real mother, since I was the one who loved them and took care of them and lived with them.

“Yeah,” Lily added in her characteristic, firm way, and then we walked away.Later on, I asked my precious Lily if she felt hurt by what that man had said. Her response surprised me at first. “No,” she said, “That sort of thing doesn’t bother me. I know that you’re my real mom,” and then she gave me a hug.But when I thought about her response later, I wasn’t so surprised, because my sweet Lily
knows who she is.

Lily is a beloved daughter.
She is absolutely treasured.
She is accepted, cherished and greatly loved.
She knows that she takes my breath away.
She knows that there is nothing that she can do to lose David’s and my love for her.

She is ours and we are hers.

Lily is so secure in who she is, that it caused me to ask myself,

“Do I know who I am, like that?”When the world tells me I am not good enough, or that I am unwanted and unloved, does my heart respond with the truth?Do I say, I am a beloved daughter!?

I am treasured, cherished, accepted and greatly loved.

Do I know that I take my Father’s breath away?!

Am I aware that there is nothing that I can do to lose my Father’s love?

I am His and He is mine.Oh Father, it’s true!

I am Your beloved daughter and there is nothing that anyone can do or say to change that. Let this fact grow deeper and deeper into my heart. Let it be my identity.And dear friends, may it be your identity, as well!

May you know who you are in Christ . . .

a daughter/son of the King!

Absolutely beloved.

Thank you, Father, that is who we really and truly are!

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Sarah Bandimere

Sarah Bandimere

David and Sarah have been joyfully married for almost 18 years. They have been blessed with 6 wonderful children (one homegrown son, a daughter from Ukraine and four children from China) and are never sure if they’re “done yet”! They love Jesus and are grateful that He has recently led them to the urban core of Kansas City where they are learning to give their lives away as they build His church in the inner city. You can read more about what God is doing in their lives at Our Un(convent)ional Life.

Difficult conversations . . . try combining infertility and adoption

As adoptive parents, we all know this day is coming.

 

That day where your child starts asking questions that you can’t answer. The thought of it breaks your heart, and so you try to prepare yourself, but you can never really be prepared.

Somehow these conversations always happen when I am putting on my makeup in the morning. Captive audience, I guess! 

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Grace: “Mommy, when are you going to have a baby in your tummy?”

Me: “Well, baby, I don’t know. Only God knows if that will ever happen.”

Grace: “I was a baby in your tummy.” (she said this directly and without question)

And there it is; the question I knew would come, heading straight for me like a freight train.

Me: “Sweetheart, you may not have grown in my tummy, but you grew in my heart.

Grace: “Well, whose tummy was I in, Mommy?”

Silence. Deep breaths.

Will it be enough for now, Lord?

“Peace, Child, be still and know that I am God.”  

Me: “Sweetheart, we don’t know, but you were always in my heart.”

Grace: “Ok, Mommy!” (she hugged me and ran off her usual happy self)

For now, as an almost four year old, that is all she needs to hear, but I know a day is coming when she will not be satisfied with that statement of truth. That is OK and natural, but won’t make it any less hard. I hate that I won’t have more information for her. I hate that it will hurt her and could possibly rock her to the very core. But I must have faith because I know that God will be with her on this journey, guiding her, loving her and protecting her. My job is to teach her about Christ and His Sacrifice and how her worth and significance comes only from Him!

As I look at our recently adopted older Chinese son, Anthony, who has told us that his first mommy as he calls her (he is referring to his birth mother) was bad because she threw him in the trash, all I can do is pray to the One who heals all hurts, knowing that only He can give Anthony the strength and ability to forgive.

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Naturally, as their mother, it  breaks my heart to see my children suffer, just as it broke God’s heart to watch His only Son die on the cross, taking our sin upon Himself. And yet, God allowed it, because it was the only way we could spend eternity forever with Him. Praise God for His amazing mercy and grace.

Thank you, Father, for your steadfast love. You are our rock and our salvation. Whom shall I fear?!

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Suzanne Meledeo

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 on May 8, 2011 (Mother’s Day) from Fuzhou City, Fujian Province, China. And, their son, Anthony Jianyou, joined their family on January 14, 2013 from Shanghai. 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.

The Other Mama

My 6 year old daughter has just begun to ask some very thought provoking questions surrounding her birth mother lately. She’s my thinking child, so although this doesn’t surprise me, I must admit some of the questions…oh.my…let’s just say I’m thankful they have come mostly at night in her bed, with the lights off…so she can’t see the tears that roll down my cheeks. We’re entering a whole new chapter in this adoptive parenting journey and begging for wisdom and revelation from the Lord to help us wade and part these waters.

And at the same time, I’m often in awe of how the Lord has been preparing us for these moments, long before Ashley came home. I’ve mentioned before that I worked in the domestic side of adoption for a few years before transitioning over to the international. Over those years, I worked with birth mothers. And you better believe I took mental notes and had dozens of “light bulb, heart pounding, Holy Spirit” moments with these women. Some of them I knew for months and others I met literally in the delivery room or the day after.

But one thing I knew about each one of them….as hard as they tried to hide it, or as openly as they grieved, was that this was a gut.wrenching.process, and one that they would never, ever forget.

One day the Lord gave me this verse:

Isaiah 49:15
“Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!”

The very God of the universe in His Word, gave an answer to our children…”Did she forget me?”

Can you see it? “…even if that were possible…”  which means….it’s NOT. And even if it were…HE WOULD NOT!!!

Meet little miss “A.” She’s just a week new y’all and has the most perfect baby skin I’ve ever seen!!!

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Her mama, “M” called me from our church’s Crisis Pregnancy Center a few years back. She was pregnant was interested in adoption. We began meeting and a few months later, a baby girl was born. I watched her do the most courageous thing a woman can do….hand her child over to another mama and daddy to love and raise as their child. And as I watched her grieve, I prayed deep for the woman that had left my baby girl at the orphanage gate for someone else to raise. It’s as if the Lord just allowed me a glimpse of her grief through these women in my care.

A year later, she called back. Pregnant again. And, choosing life for her child, a few months later I stood in the L&D hallway yelling for them to run FAST because their son was about to be born. And she did it again, this time knowing full well the grief to come. Don’t miss that this girl had made some very poor choices, but she had made the most important one for her children….LIFE.

This time around, she’s ready to be a mama. She and her family will raise baby A and get to experience all she hasn’t gotten to with her other children. And rest assured, she has not forgotten them….their pictures hang on her walls. As I left her house, I wondered if Ashley’s birth parents had photos of her….she wasn’t abandoned as a newborn. I’d never wondered that before.

When questions come that I don’t have answers to, I go to the Word. It tells me that it is impossible for a mother to forget her child. And it drives me to pray deep for the two women that will never know this side of heaven how the Lord had His eyes on these babies, and how He placed them where they are loved and treasured.

Oh, how I wish I could send you pictures. For your walls. Just so you would know.

Thanks for the reminder, M…..you are one of the bravest women I’ve ever met, sister.
_____________________________

Emily Flynt

Emily Flynt

Emily and Jay have been married for 11 years and have 5 childen–Avery 8, Ally 6, Annalyse 4, Ashley 3, and (finally) our BOY, Asher 2. Ashley and Asher were adopted from China and were both special needs adoptions.  Emily spends her days chasing toddlers and waiting in line at carpool. Her favorite place in the world is in her van, all alone with the worship music blaring! She would count it an honor to have you be encouraged at www.ourhimpossiblejourney.blogspot.com.

 

{Hitting Repeat} No debate

This post has been being written over and over again in my brain several times over the last few months. Last night I couldn’t sleep at all over it, so it’s time to get it out and put it to rest so I can get some rest! Way to often recently, an ugly debate has been raising its head on social network sites and quite honestly, I believe it grieves the Lord, and fuels the enemy’s fire to steal kill and destroy.

Domestic Adoption
vs.
International Adoption

If you have sensitive toes, you may want to stop reading about now. Because some things just need to be said.

First of all:

This is an argument we should NOT be having.

Disunity in the Body of Christ is a disgrace to the Lord. John 17:23 says that by our unity, the world will know that we are Christians and they would know how much we love people. Ephesians 4:13 says that unity is a sign of maturity. We are immature believers if we are arguing over this issue. We are NOT showing the world Jesus and we are NOT showing the world how much He loves them. If you want to talk to a family about their motivations behind one or the other, do it in private. I am 100% willing to bet that you will come to complete understand about their reasoning. At the end of the day, this argument only brings DISTRACTION from the real issue….every child deserves a family. And the enemy is having a party if he can take the focus off these children, and onto one another and ridiculous arguing.

Second:

No one child is more deserving than another.

I have worked for an adoption agency for 5 years now. The first three were spent in the domestic program. Over the course of that 3 years, I got to be in the delivery room 32 times to welcome precious children into this world. I took custody of 32 babies and handed over the majority of those tiny, squirming infants into the arms of adoptive mamas and daddies. I helped new parents figure out infant car seats and walked sobbing birth mothers out of the hospital and drove them home. Often times, the birth mom didn’t want to see the newborn. I spent many hours, in empty L&D rooms, with fresh newborns, rocking and praying over them, assuring them that they had a family coming. And they always did. More often than not, I was in tears as well just watching the process.
Those babies are just as orphaned as the ones in China. They are no more deserving of a family……and to say, “why go overseas when you can adopt right here in your neighborhood” is a very western, selfish, american, ugly, thing to say.

NO one child is more deserving than another.

NOT. ONE.

I dare you to look at my children and say that they were less deserving because they were born in China. I bet not one person who has made that statement above would believe that if they spent one hour with my kids. Adoption is a picture of the very gospel….and to say one person is more deserving than another is a slap in the face to our call to care for the orphan. People who make this debate would never comment on a missionaries post and say, “why are you going to serve overseas when there are people right here who need Jesus?” Doesn’t that sound absurd? It sounds just as absurd when you ask it of the orphan.

Third:

Families go where God calls them.

Why did we adopt from China?
We had children there.
The Lord made that crystal clear.
We would’ve gone to China, Africa, Arkansas, or the North Pole if the Lord had asked us to. The Lord calls us the Body of Christ….we each have a function. If we were all called to the same place and the same thing, the world would be boring and lots would go undone. If we were all called to care for China’s orphans, the rest would go unnoticed. When families call me and ask about the process, the first thing I say, every single time, is “pray about WHERE.” Then call me back when God tells you, and we’ll move forward. Praise the Lord we are all called to different places!!! We get to be His hands and feet right here in our backyards and overseas!!! That ought to make us rejoice, not debate!!

Lastly:

Be respectful and prayerful.

People need Jesus. Children need families. Families need children. Before you take a stab at an adoptive parents motivation, consider what YOU might do. If you look around and you aren’t doing a thing, please keep your opinions to yourself. Adoptive parenting is HARD ENOUGH. Adoption brings baggage. Even to a two day old infant. It’s a lifetime process and is a beautiful thing. It’s a good hard. Instead of debating, we should be praying for one another. Asking the Lord what we can do. Holding the hand of a broken mama who’s birth mom has changed her mind, and the baby has to go back. Bringing dinner to the family who just came home from two weeks overseas and can’t get their days and nights turned back around. Serve one another! (1 Peter 4:10)

Toes ok?

Put it to rest, friends. Give it up. Let it go. If you are called to this road, celebrate it with one another. It will change you…….and it’s not a glamorous life. Adoption changes the way you see the Lord, changes your checkbook and how you spend your money, and gives you a burden that some days is all consuming. If you haven’t been on this road, respectfully keep your opinions to yourself. Be the Body of Christ that we are called to be to one another and to a dying world that needs Jesus like nobody’s business. And if we are going to fight over something, let it be:

Philippians 1:27
Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.

my lil’ fighter

________________________________________

Emily Flynt

Emily and Jay have been married for 11 years and have 5 childen–Avery 8, Ally 6, Annalyse 4, Ashley 3, and (finally) our BOY, Asher 2. Ashley and Asher were adopted from China and were both special needs adoptions. Jay is an associate pastor at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, GA, and Emily spends her days chasing toddlers and waiting in line at carpool. Her favorite place in the world is in her van, all alone with the worship music blaring! She would count it an honor to have you be encouraged at www.ourhimpossiblejourney.blogspot.com.

{Hitting repeat} Sameness

I knew it was coming, and here it is. I don’t know if it’s a new phase of self-awareness, or a new confidence that Matthew has to start letting out some of these feelings he has inside, but he’s got some things to get off his chest.

So even though I knew it would come out someday, I was still devastated when he told me the other day–I don’t want brown eyes. I don’t like my eyes. I want green eyes like YOU.

{God give me wisdom}

Oh dear, I really like your brown eyes, I say.

DARK brown, he corrects me. And I NOT, he adds, shaking his head back and forth.

Well, do you know why your eyes look the way they do? Why they are that shape and why they are that color?

NO.

Because everyone born in Korea has eyes shaped like that. Korean people have brown eyes! I wasn’t born in Korea. I don’t get to have eyes like you. I have to have green eyes.

For a second, he is impressed with this information. Being born in Korea is a great source of pride to him right now. But it isn’t quite enough to tip him over. He remains gruff and grumpy with his lot in life. Isaac bounds in the room.

I love my eyes! The shape and the color! I love your eyes too, Matthew! I love your brown eyes!!!

WELL I DON’T.

If there is one thing about Matthew, it is that he has an innate ability to stand firm in his beliefs.

So we sit in the floor of the hallway and begin to discuss how we all look a little bit different. All of our hair is a little bit different. Isaac says that my hair is black (??) and I correct him that it is brown. He counters with DARK BROWN, and I don’t feel this is worth arguing about, so I say yes, I have dark brown hair. Matthew perks up immediately. He is gleeful.

Like me, mama!! You hair is dark brown and my eyes is dark brown! We the same!!!!

Yes! You’re right!!!

Then we all went and stood in front of the bathroom mirror together and stuck out our tongues. YES! Our tongues are all pink. That’s one way we are the same! We all pulled up our shirts to reveal belly buttons. Look, we all have belly buttons! The same again! We examined our arms next to each other and realized none of our skin is exactly alike. Isaac’s is pinker. Mine is very freckly. Matthew’s is bronze and clear. We examined hands and earlobes and looked for the presence of widows peaks until everybody was satisfied that we have some things in common but also many differences. Matthew’s spirits were good.

When Jason came home and sat down with us for dinner, Matthew asked with a huge grin, “Hey Dad, do you know what’s the SAME??”. He answered excitedly–my eyes and mommy’s hair. Dark brown! The same!!!

It may have been my imagination, but I believe he was sitting up straighter than ever in his chair that night.

________________________________________

Elizabeth Wood

Elizabeth is a happily married mama to 2 boys. She and her husband have a 6 1/2-year old bio son, Isaac, and her younger son (6 year old, Matthew) joined their family as a toddler through international adoption from South Korea’s waiting child program. Being only 6 months apart in age, the boys are virtual twins but couldn’t be more different. Feel free to visit their family blog, Everyday the Wonderful Happens, where Elizabeth blogs about the boys, their antics, her son’s special needs, her beliefs, adoption, and pretty much anything else that tickles her fancy.

{Hitting repeat} Yes, I’m an adoptive mother. No, I’m not a saint

Important to realize, we adopt not because we are rescuers. No, we adopt because we are the rescued…
David Platt

We went to dinner on Monday night, and an all too common scene took place. One of the waitresses stopped by our table and said, “The owner said you guys adopted him. That’s awesome.” At first I wasn’t bothered. I just smiled, told her that he’d been home 17 months and that he was from Ethiopia. Then I mentioned that we have a little girl in Ethiopia who will hopefully be home in a few months. She responded with, “Oh you guys are such nice people. What a wonderful thing you did.” I smiled and said my usual response, “He is a blessing to us. ” But she wouldn’t stop. Over and over she said, “you’re just wonderful people…. what a nice thing to do!” Then she proceeded to just stand there and stare at us for awhile. I don’t know what she was hoping to see but it left us feeling a bit like we were on display at the zoo. She finally left, and I was left with the now familiar annoyed/frustrating feeling.

Here’s the thing. I’m not a saint. I’m a mother – just like any other mother in the world.

I am cranky in the morning before I have my cup of coffee.

Sometimes I get frustrated sometimes with my strong willed toddler and have to work hard to control my temper.

Sometimes the laundry gets piled up and there have been times when John comes out to tell me he’s out of underwear.

Sometimes I give Mareto candy and plop him in front of the TV just because I’m tired and I need a break.

I don’t love waking up at 3am with a teething child and sometimes (like last night) I cry while rocking him because it’s taking so long and I’m so tired.

Sometimes I get tired, or hungry, or selfish and I snap at my husband.

Sometimes I get mad at perfectly innocent waitresses who are just trying to be nice and understand our family that looks a bit different than most families.

Sometimes I just want to go out with my child and not be stared at by strangers and asked by the cashier if he’s “mine.”

BUT ALWAYS

I feel incredible grateful for the gift of my child. Full arms are better than empty arms any time of the day… or night.

I look at the tiny shirts and pants I fold and think of how long I waited for this and feel so much love for my little man who creates impossible stains on his clothes.

I enjoy morning snuggles and hugs – pre or post coffee.

I struggle with maintaining consistency in Mareto’s training and discipline because he is so darn cute and I just want to give in to all his wants.

I miss him just a bit when I do get little mommy breaks and am so thankful to be with him again when my break is over.

I choose rocking him over leaving him in his crib because I love him and want to comfort him and meet his needs no matter how late it is or how tired I am.

I am thankful for my husband who is an incredible father and loves us so well.

I am so thankful that God chose adoption for our family.

Yep. I’m a mom, just like every other mom. I’m not perfect and I mess up daily. But at the end of every day I lay it all in the hands of my Father and ask him to make something beautiful out of my mistakes. I’m not “good.” I’m not doing a “nice thing.” I’m not a “rescuer.” I’m just a mom trying her hardest and leaving the rest up to God – praying that He’ll make up the difference… especially on days when the gap is incredibly large.

 ________________________________________

Lauren Casper

Lauren Casper has been married to her amazing husband, John, for 7 years. After enduring painful years of infertility and the loss of two babies, they embarked on the journey of adoption and brought their son Mareto home from Ethiopia in February 2011. They will be traveling soon to bring home their daughter from Ethiopia as well. Lauren has a passion for Africa, orphan care, adoption, infertility and pregnancy loss awareness, and writing. You can find her at her blog Traded Dreams.