Random thoughts on a homemaker's journey

Adoption: Remember Gratitude

In our home it seems fitting that adoption awareness and Thanksgiving are celebrated in the same month. We really are grateful for the blessing of adoption and the lessons we have learned. I thought I’d just share a few thoughts this Thanksgiving Eve.

Foremost would be our gratefulness for how God shaped our faith and view of him through our experience. Now we really know that God will give peace beyond comprehension. He blesses exceedingly abundantly above what we could ask or think. He places the lonely in families and cares for the orphan. We know it because we have experienced it. Like the Israelites’ monuments, we have something we can look at and remember. Our faith in God is stronger because we have seen him work. Problems were solved in a way only he could. And, I don’t think any believer can experience adoption without having his own view of salvation deepened. As Christians, we are adopted as sons into God’s family. What an awe-inspiring thought!

Of course, I don’t think anyone can experience adoption without being grateful for financial provision. A couple of extra job opportunities were provided for my husband or I right before a payment was due. We were blessed with several financial gifts to use for our adoption. And, when our sweet baby came to our home more quickly than we expected, friends and family blessed us with supplies. I have never quite understood how the numbers worked at that time of our lives.

I would be remiss if I did not share how thankful we are for the choice our daughter’s birthmother made and the protection God had on our baby’s life. In this world where abortion is so easy and available that is not taken lightly. All other circumstances aside, a woman made a very courageous choice and allowed our baby girl to live. If you are in the waiting period of adoption, I encourage you specifically to pray for your future child’s birthmother as she makes these decisions and follows through.

I am thankful for how God has expanded my vision of adoption. Hopefully, we use our experiences to bless and encourage others as they walk the path. Our decision to adopt came after walking through infertility for several years. However, we now see that the global opportunity for adoption is so much bigger than that.That was just what God used to bring us to our decision to adopt. In our country and around the world, the need is great! Orphan care is a current buzz word thrown about, but it truly is what God expects of believers.  More than just expanding our family, God has shown us the eternal value of adoption. Through adoption into Christian homes children are hearing God’s truth.

Adoption can be difficult and painful. We have several friends who have experienced failed adoptions. (I hate that term by the way. There has to be a different way to say that.) But, sometimes it is through tough lessons and pain that we see how big our God is. We see his grace and healing. We are able to claim his promises. Though no one chooses to walk through pain of any kind, when one’s faith has been stretched through those experiences we can see their value. If this Thanksgiving finds you at one of those tough points, I pray that God gives you extra comfort and allows you a glimpse of his greater purpose.

Thank you for walking memory lane with me as I counted a few of our blessings. What are you thankful for today?


Adoption: What Does it Feel Like?

My friend’s question caught me off guard. She asked, “What does adoption feel like?”  In eight years since we first began our adoption application, no one has ever asked me that. Oh, let me tell you adoption certainly spans the spectrum of feelings and emotions! Maybe you are going through your adoption process and wonder if your experience is “normal.” Perhaps, a friend or family member is traveling through adoption, and you’d like some insight.

Adoption feels surreal. You have begun the process submitting the application and preparing your home for the home study. Perhaps you have even reached the waiting list. You are “expecting” but not pregnant. You anticipate the child who will come home; but can’t check its development status on a pregnancy site. You want to begin getting your child’s room ready; but don’t even know what age to expect. You’ve been matched with your child internationally, but they are miles away. You have their picture; but can’t hold them. You can’t put your hand on your belly and feel them kick.

Sometimes the adoption process feels lonely. People who have not experienced it often do not understand, even people who are close with you. People mindlessly say dumb things. As the process grows long  you may withdraw. Others can also be fearful and withdraw from you due to inaccurate information they’ve heard or painful experiences of their own. Some friends or family members may be too afraid to celebrate with you or even get to know your child until it’s all “final.” In some families, the race of the child you have chosen to adopt can even cause division.

Vulnerability often rears its face throughout adoption too. The adoption application is very long and ridiculously personal. Childhood, parental relationships, financial details, and marital intimacy are all discussed with a complete stranger during the home study. You and your spouse have to decide age, health status, race, and more for the child you desire to adopt. If your answers don’t match, you have to face them together and delve into them to learn why. Later in the process, you may feel your family is at the mercy of agencies, lawyers, birthfamilies, and social workers. Long waits and periods of miscommunication with those involved accelerate the anxiety and fear.

Yet, there are incredibly happy or positive feelings in adoption too. Let me take you back to when my sweet girl was four days old. We got the call that we could come to the hospital to see her! Wow! I can still remember the anxiety and excitement! Trying to get there without speeding. Holding my husband’s clammy hand in the car. (Praying for safety in the terrible storm when  newscasters were actually telling people not to go out if they didn’t have to. Believe me. We had to!)  Trying to hurry into the hospital without actually running and causing a scene!

I remember feeling overwhelmed as I looked through the nursery window seeing  a tiny bundle swaddled in a blanket. Meeting her birthmother. Knowing that whatever the circumstances, by God’s grace this woman chose to allow our baby girl to live!  Holding that very tiny baby in my arms and realizing that I was holding, actually holding in my arms, an exact answer to years of prayer. Seeing my husband hold our baby girl the first time and knowing he was wrapped around her pinky finger in the first seconds. Overwhelming joy and love!

Peace also marked our adoption, the incredible peace that God gave us. Truly experiencing the peace beyond comprehension mentioned in Philippians 4. Encouragement also surrounded us from our friends and family. Many prayed for us. Financial gifts or extra jobs provided right when another payment was due. Family who showed up with pizza and sat with us when we thought we were losing her. Friends and church family that brought a brand new car seat, handmade blankets, a bag full of newborn supplies, a Winnie the Pooh collection hardcover edition, and more even before she was officially home. A surprise party given to us when everything was final.

The specifics of our journey are not the same for anyone else. However, I’m sure our feelings and emotions are pretty common and normal. You, or someone you know, are experiencing similar feelings. But hear me when I tell you it is worth it. All the emotions, all the feelings, all the “I can’t believe a stranger is asking me this,” is worth it. If you are a believer, God is bigger than your feelings. He will give his peace. He will send other believers to encourage you. He knows the end of your journey and knows your child already! He has led you this far, and he will not leave you. Keep the big picture in mind. A child needs a family. You can be that family!

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Adoption: Are you aware?

November is known as Adoption Awareness Month. Quite honestly, I grow tired of all the “awareness” campaigns. However, I don’t want to let opportunity slip by. For our family, I also think it is fitting that adoption awareness month is the same month that many people focus on gratitude. We are beyond grateful for adoption, its place in our family, and how our perspective has grown.

So, I’ll ask you: How aware are you? Do you realize that adoption grafts a child into the family tree? Making them one of the family…not an add on. Are you aware that an adopted child is yes, a REAL son, daughter, sibling, cousin, grandchild? (And, are you aware how painful comments alluding to their non-biological “realness” hurt?) Are you aware of the process parents go through to adopt? Are you aware of the number of children needing to be adopted? Are you aware of the invasive questions parents must answer on the adoption application?

I will also ask: Are you aware of the blessing of adding children to your family through adoption? Do you know how best to assist your friends going through the adoption process? Do you ever educate yourself on the huge global need of orphans? Do you realize there are so many opportunities to be involved in orphan care even if you “are not called to adopt.” Have you ever considered the eternal aspect of adoption for Christian families that is vastly more important than the immediate physical family aspect?

If you are not aware of these things, I encourage you to become aware. Seek to learn. Ask questions. Read. Pray to ask God to show you where your attitude might not please him regarding adoption. Some may even need to face their fear and discern why they are not aware of these things. Perhaps some avoid the issue because it is painful.

Is November the only time to be aware of adoption? No, but it is certainly a great time to begin! Awareness is not enough; but it is a beginning. Our awareness precedes our action.

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What do you like to do?

“Well, what do you like to do?” That should have been a simple question. Why could I not answer her? My sister was trying to help me write a bio. I could think of all the things I “do” throughout my week; but what do I like to do? I felt like I’d become one of those people that had “lost themselves.” I remembered all the activities I used to enjoy. I thought about some new activities I was discovering and learning to enjoy. I thought of all the things I do for my family. But, none of it seemed to fit “What do you like to do?” I was taken back and began to think about it.

I remembered all the things I used to enjoy doing; but never seem to get to anymore. I felt like “I” had disappeared. My personal identity and tastes. Yes, I was “wife”, “mom”, “daughter”; but where was ME?! Satan can quickly jump on this and send us to the “maybe I should go back to my career” place. Or the “I need more free time.” Or, “How does SHE do it all and still find time for leisure?” Or, I’ll just drown these feelings in chocolate.

But, my friend, this is not where God wants us to stay. God showed me that he has me right where he wants me. And, yes, some days it is difficult here. But, why is it that we expect difficulty for our overseas missionary friends or full-time ministry friends; but expect our assignment to be easy? Giving to our families includes daily laying aside ourselves. It involves seeing our reactions, attitudes, and words through God’s eyes not ours. Seeing our to do list through his eyes not mine. And, he showed me that through these new identities and responsibilities, He has grown me through his grace.

A mom friend of mine once said,”This is a season. It does not mean life will be like this forever.” As I ponder this, I realize that in this phase of life I don’t have a lot of time for hobbies. I also realized that if I work at time management I do find more time for things I enjoy. Do I think moms need their “own” time to catch up with themselves and reboot? Of course. That is only healthy.

So, I remember: I like to read, write, and scrapbook. I also enjoy tea, candles, coffee, and chocolate. I enjoy pretty things even if I try to minimize at home for sake of function. I enjoy entertaining. I love friendship. What do YOU like to do?

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