Adoption Loss

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I remember the first time I heard the term “adoption loss”. I had never, in all my years of wanting to adopt, truly stopped to consider the loss that comes with it. I knew there were orphans in the world, kids who needed forever families. But I hadn’t stopped to think about the past that brought them to that point. Maybe I wasn’t ready to face it.

I am now.

When I receive my referral for a little girl, I will probably learn some of her story. She will have had a first family. She will have lost them to death, abandonment or simply because they were unable to care for her. It will be her story to tell, not mine. But it will be very real. And it will always be a part of her story.

Aaron Ivey, gave a sermon at the Austin Stone Church that I saw on youtube, called “Adopted: the Cost of Love“. In it, he spoke of orphan care as actually joining in the suffering of the orphan. That bringing an orphan home and parenting them, requires a person to join in the orphan’s suffering and feel it with them. I know I will never fully grasp how much my child’s heart will hurt over this. But I also know that God can heal. And that God is already bringing me closer to my child. Not knowing who she is doesn’t matter. I love her. And my heart hurts to know all she has been through and is going through now. Yes, it may seem crazy. But maybe crazy love is how God heals us.

This scripture keeps coming to me:

“This is what the Lord says — he who made a way through the sea,
a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses,
the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again,
extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: Forget the former things; do not
dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up;
do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and
streams in the wasteland.”  Isaiah 43:16-19

He parted the seas once. He will do it again. He will part the seas and bring orphans to the forever families that are waiting for them. We will acknowledge the past, but not live in it. And we will see God doing a new thing. In us. In our family. For His glory.


Perfect Provision

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Sometimes I wonder how God does it. Only briefly, because I know I’ll never understand. But He knows ahead of time what we will need, when we will need it and how He will provide it.

Case in point:

We held a fundraising concert for our adoption a couple of weeks ago. Not a huge crowd, but those who came were very generous. Some even gave us money for “tickets” days after the concert, because they hadn’t been able to make it that night.

Two days ago, I got the invoice for the next small supplemental fee for my agency. It was a little less than I thought. Yesterday, I got the invoice from the venue for our concert. Again somewhat less than I thought. And guess what. The concert raised enough to cover the venue fees and our supplemental fee, with $20 left over.

Exactly what we needed, when we needed it. I don’t expect God to provide for the adoption all at once. I think He takes great joy in showing us that He has this. I don’t need to worry for a moment.

He so has this.


The List

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It’s official. We have dotted every “i” and crossed every “t”. We have been through 7 months of interviews and paperwork and approvals and fingerprints and government seals. And we are finally on the list. The elusive list of waiting families who have conquered a mountain of paperwork are rewarded with. The list that lets us take a break from paperwork (for the time being). The list that lets us rest in the goodness of God and how He has already brought us this far.

Now we get to wait. We get to plan and prepare. We get to dream about the day our little one is finally home with us. We won’t know her name or see her precious face possibly for many months. But we have overcome such hurdles already.

My daughter and I climbed a mountain together when she was 5. I can hardly believe we made it, but we did. Clingman’s Dome in Smoky Mountain National Park. It was a long, hard climb. And we took many breaks. We would catch our breath for a few moments, look at the road we had already traveled, then look ahead at where we were going. And we would start climbing again. It was so important to me that we make it to the top.

ClingmansDome

And we finally did. We took pictures. We laughed. We cheered. The view was great, but the best part was really accomplishing it together.

So here we are with another mountain to climb. We have been walking diligently, faithfully. We have made amazing progress and can look back at the path we have covered so far and how God has walked with us every step of the way. And we get to look ahead to the great adventure before us, knowing He will continue to be with us, every step of the way.

But for the moment, we get to rest and celebrate.


For Days Like This

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You know those days when everything is hard? The days when the cavities come and water runs down the walls and ice covers the inside of the door and the job that was supposed to start keeps getting delayed and it’s way too cold to go out and the past keeps jumping up and making you feel like a failure?

Yeah. Those days.

The days it’s hard to do it all on your own. To know that no one else is around to pay the bills while you dry the tears. The day the wall cracks and you just move the furniture away from it, for lack of anything else to do.

Those are the days you have to hang on the hardest. Fight through it. Even when you feel you have no fight left. You can do this. I am talking to each and every mom sitting in front of her screen right now, exhausted at the end of another day and wondering when it will get better. I know when it will get better.

Right now.

The moment we choose to focus on Jesus, not on our surroundings. The moment we pull ourselves out of it, just enough to grab our Bibles. And read:

“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son,
but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him,
graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:31

“This is what the Lord says — he who made a way through the sea,
a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses,
the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again,
extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: Forget the former things; do not
dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up;
do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and
streams in the wasteland.”  Isaiah 43:16-19

That’s God’s promise to you. And to me. He is doing a new thing. He can and will create streams in our wasteland. Streams to refresh and renew and give us abundant life. Life in Him.

So next time you are at the end of your rope, grab your Bible and hold on. Read God’s promises. He wrote them for you. He wrote them for days like this.


Out of the Mouths of Babes

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So, it’s Christmas Eve. And I feel totally unprepared. We never put up our white lights tree on the porch. Or the star light garland in the front hall. Or made Christmas cookies.

I love Christmas and usually get the presents wrapped early, so we can enjoy how they look under the tree. Instead, we finished our shopping yesterday (7-year-old and I taking on the mall!) and I wrapped last night. The last 2 months of sickness make me feel like we lost 2 entire months, just getting by. And now Christmas is upon us. We managed to get a Christmas tree, which I absolutely love, but we were sick even then and tromping around in the cold rain while sick to get a Christmas tree isn’t the stuff cherished Christmas memories are made of.

Then last night at bedtime, I had this conversation with my sweet little one. “Mom, do you know the one thing I want for Christmas?” “What, Love?”

“Jesus.”

Oh, yes. I know none of the rest of it really matters. I know that we celebrate Christmas because of Christ. And I know that I have tried hard to push past all of the wants of Christmas and show her the most amazing gift of all. The only gift that really matters. And I know she gets it. That’s the best gift I could ever imagine.

Tonight, we get to go to church together and celebrate HIS coming. We get to have a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner with Grammy and then she’ll sleep over, so we can be together Christmas morning. We’ll open gifts, eat waffles (our family tradition!) and head to the cousins’. The best parts of Christmas are coming. Whether we were sick for 2 months or not. We again get to celebrate our Lord coming for us. Pursuing us. Loving us with a never-ending, all-consuming, redemptive love.

We wish you a wonderful Christmas with those you love, celebrating the One who loved you first.

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The Wait to Wait

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The adoption process is a struggle. Sometimes it feels like continually walking uphill through mud. I am trying so hard to rest and trust in God’s timing. And He is constantly showing Himself faithful.

I am part of a facebook group of moms and dads adopting through my agency. People post about the wait. How long they have been on the waitlist, how long it is since they were matched with their children, when they might get to bring them home. I am still waiting to get on the waitlist. This must be how patience and trust are built.

I have been working on the adoption officially since July. But in my heart I have been waiting for this little girl for 35 years. I wear my Love Africa necklace so she can be with me in spirit, even while we are waiting for her. Every day, I do something for the adoption. Make another necklace, promote our upcoming benefit concert, check on paperwork, search for grants.

There was a mistake on some paperwork last week and I am waiting for it to be corrected and our journey to be unpaused. Each day that goes by looks like one more day without her. When in reality, God controls it all. It will happen in His timing, whether it’s by paperwork needing correction, or the court being slow or fast. It’s hard to release the control. (even when I don’t really have it!)

But God is faithful. He has shown Himself in our lives in such huge ways over the last few weeks. 3 weeks ago, I was doing paperwork, praying every morning. Telling God that I would keep walking forward, filling out one more form and trusting Him to provide financially. AND HE DID. Big time. Enough money has been raised for our next payment. When the paperwork is done, the money will be on its way to my agency. I can hardly believe it. And yet, I’m not entirely surprised. After all, it’s what I have been asking Him for.

So wait list, here I come. A few more weeks and everything should be straightened out and submitted. Until then, I will keep trusting, keep praying. And I will keep telling everyone who will listen about God’s faithfulness and provision.

 


I’ve Got You

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My daughter and I were watching Cousins Undercover the other night. The cousins fixed up the house of a man, a teacher who has impacted so very many lives. So many of his friends and family and students were there to help with the work.

When they were showing him the finished house, his dad was there and at one point, someone’s microphone caught him quietly say, “I’ve got you” to his 30 year old son. It was such a beautiful moment. And I am so glad they didn’t cut it.

I’ve got you. I am holding on to you and you will be ok. I am your parent and I will always be here for you. That’s what our kids need to hear. They need to know that no matter what happens in life, we have them. When they have horrible days and don’t know why. When they are ornery or happy or mad or sad or joyful. We have them. WE are the ones who will never let go. Never walk away.

And it’s what God says to us. I’ve Got You. The great I AM has you. And me. He’ll never let go. Once you are His, you are His forever. No matter what. And I believe He is there beside us in our best moments and in our hardest moments, whispering, “I’ve got you”.


Fingerprinting

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Today was a big day. I had my appointment with immigration to get my fingerprints done for the adoption. I have been sick for three weeks now and was hoping the medicine would kick in and allow me to keep the appointment. Not sure how they reschedule these things, but since the government gave me the appointment, I really didn’t want to mess with it! I wanted to check one more thing off my list. And by the grace of God (and the wonder of medicine), I was well enough to go.

I drove to Milwaukee and found the office. It seemed to be just kind of placed randomly. Not right downtown, not where I would have expected. It did look very official, but on a plain, rather rundown street. The workers were efficient and polite. After filling out yet another form, I waited for my turn and then got my fingerprints done. It was pretty cool to see the details of my fingerprints show up on the screen.

I practically skipped out the door.

One more thing done. The list of steps for an international adoption is long. And I get to check one more thing off that list. Another 5-6 weeks and my dossier will be complete and waiting at my agency. Then I need to pay my next big payment and we will officially be on the waiting family list.

5-6 weeks. I am so excited. I know it could be many months more before we get matched. This is not a process for the timid or impatient. We certainly can’t see the finish line from here. But getting on that list is a major hurdle we are climbing as we make our way up this mountain.

Some days it’s hard to see people ahead of me finishing their dossiers and getting on the list. Another family in front of us. Then I remember that this is all God. This isn’t about us. This is about God placing a little orphan into a forever family. In His timing. In His way. He already knows who she is, where she is and how He will get her here. My job is to keep taking each step in obedience and trusting Him to complete the work He started.

 

 


The Glass in My Hand

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I have a fragment of glass under the skin on my index finger on my right hand. It is a remnant from a really horrible car accident. 17 years ago, we were driving down the highway at dusk. A deer tried to jump over our car. Not sure if he was trying out for the Olympics, or what, but he didn’t make it. He got caught on the roof of the car on the passenger side where I was sitting. The force of the deer smashed the windshield on top of us.

I don’t remember the accident. I remember my husband looking to the side (apparently seeing the deer) and the next thing I know, his hand is on my arm getting me out of the car.

What I do remember are those next minutes and hours of fear, confusion and pain. And the days and weeks that followed. I had a broken nose and at least a hundred cuts all over my face and hands from the windshield. With how swollen my face was, I looked like Odo from Star Trek.

And I do remember all those painful and frightening things if I think about it long enough. The fragment of glass in my finger sends me a twinge of pain every few months. For just a moment. But the things I just told you are not what that twinge brings to mind.

When my finger hurts, I remember the medi-van that was passing by after the accident, the two people whose names I will never know that stopped and helped clean me up and told my terrified husband that most of the blood on me was the deer’s, not mine. I couldn’t even begin to tell you what that woman looked like. But I remember her presence. I remember her gentle hands and soothing voice, telling me it was going to be alright.

I remember the two nurses in the hospital, one on each side of me, carefully picking so many glass fragments out of my skin. I have no idea how long I was laying there between them, but I remember their gentle touch, even through the intense pain.

I remember months later, going to the salvage place to see the car. Somehow, I thought that would bring some closure to the whole ordeal. And I wanted to know what I had survived. You know what? I couldn’t find our car. I went all the way to the back of the lot and finally gave up. On my way out, I came from just the right angle and found it. I had walked right by it earlier, but it was so destroyed I hadn’t even recognized it. The roof over where I had been sitting had literally been peeled back like the lid on a can of sardines. I checked the back seat trying to convince myself that really couldn’t be our car. There were our things, laying on the floor covered with glass.

That glass in my finger is a constant reminder of God’s protection. That God is in control, no matter what life throws at us. No matter what crazy deer changes our course.

That glass in my finger reminds me that God has a purpose for me. He protected me that night. A night that could have turned out so very differently. But for the Grace of God.


Crazy for my kid

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“In order to develop normally, a child requires activity with one or more adults who have an irrational emotional relationship with the child. Somebody’s got to be crazy about that kid. That’s number one. First, last, and always.” –Urie Bronfenbrenner (co-founder of Head-Start)

What a beautiful idea. One of the best things we can do for our kids is be absolutely crazy about them. Celebrate them. Let them know how very special they are. Notice when they get it just right. Encourage them when they don’t. Help them find their talents and develop them. Remind them daily that we are their biggest fans.

Yesterday, my daughter had a difficult incident with her best friend at school. The girl found something my daughter had lost and wouldn’t give it back. My daughter was very upset and angry with her friend. When she got home, she asked to go to her room to deal with it. She disappeared into her room for about 20 minutes then came out and got a hug. She asked to watch her favorite movie and later worked on lots of crafts. Throughout the evening she would mention that she was sad about what her friend had done.

I was amazed. She handled that so much better than I would have ever guessed a 7 year old could. What a victory to be faced with a hard lesson and to handle it with grace and calm. When she told me she was sad about it, I made sure to tell her what an amazing job she had done in handling it.

Then I ooh-ed and aah-ed over the glitter creations she was making.

Sometimes being crazy about her means I celebrate her creativity. Sometimes it mean complimenting her on great choices. Sometimes it’s letting her chase me around the house playing one of our games. Sometimes it’s doing an incredibly silly dance to celebrate a moment.

Sometimes, it’s cheering because our living room carpet is now sparkly.

Whatever form it takes, my kid knows I am crazy about her. No matter what happens in her life, she will always know that her mom is crazy about her. It’s a beautiful thing.