Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Redefined..... I ran across this word the other day.  It made me think a lot about adoption.

Adoption has redefined many things in my life :
Redefined family
Redefined sacrifice
Redefined needs
Redefined importance
Redefined God
Redefined me

I am going to try to put into words how adoption has redefined my life in a series of posts.
I am not trying to be profound or prophetic...just real.  "My redefinition" has been truly mind blowing in many ways.   I pray as you read you will experience the gravity of what God has done through adoption.


That's the average amount of children in a family.    Humph.
I was almost there with my two girls for 12 years.   Twelve years of what society told me was "the norm".  I loved being an at-home mom and, then, graduating to a teacher at the school where my girls attended.  It was my dream job and made it possible to allow my girls to attend a Christian school. Who wouldn't want to be a PE teacher where you could "act like a kid" everyday and get paid for it?
(Ok....no comments from the peanut gallery)

Then came, THE sermon.   A sermon that revolved around the idea that you can do more and you NEED to do more.   Adoption was the "more" that our friend, Greg, spoke about.  He was not promoting adoption; but,  merely giving the example of how God called his family to do more.
They adopted two beautiful children from Guatemala.  Precious children who were very much in need of love and safety.   The family was obedient to God's calling.   "Two less" as we say in the adoption world.

This was the spark our girls needed to beg us to adopt.   God used them to open our minds to "more than 2.4".  We were quickly sucked in to the calling and the appeal of a baby girl was what consumed my dreams at night.  Our friends and family thought we were crazy.  We even heard the words, "You are ruining your life".   Goodness, the comments were harsh but The Lord led us away from the comments and into His pure and holy will.

Fast forward eleven months.

Stepping off the plane in Beijing was surreal.  We were in China after months of paperwork and prayers.  The sites and sounds were so different.  We were walking through the portal to a very different culture.  Streets were crowded with pedestrians busy on their way to work, the market, the park, to who knows where.  Busy busy busy. Walk walk walk.   On their way with an air of urgency.

We saw sights that were forever ingrained in our hearts.  Children begging. Disabled men bearing their scars with a tin cup nearby.  Poverty beyond our comprehension.  A culture completely upside down from that of what we knew and lived.  Children discarded because of their gender or special need.
It was a realization that I would be back.....one less would never be enough.

Our family continued to grow in the years that followed.  Adoptions in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2012  Our children all from China and needing to be loved and to feel secure.

8 less?   Yes.  Our family has been redefined and all our children's lives changed for better in every way. Every day is all consuming with the constant nag of a child "needing me".  It is exhausting and tiring beyond words.  It is God's calling in our lives fulfilled.   Our family is not even close to the "normal" family....the ideal family of our society.   Our family has redefined normal in a radical way,   It is our "new normal" and I would not change it in any way.

Being smack in the middle of God's will may not be easy but it is right where I want to be!

Family redefined.    It is a beautiful thing.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


This is my family..... we have abilities... we are not defined by our special needs

Basketball, blowing bubbles, pulling a wagon with a nephew in it. 
 These are the faces of spina bifida, hydrocephalus, lower limb paralysis, and profound deafness... 
 These are my kids who strive to do everything YOU can do.  
They do not know the word CAN'T

These are my kids
heart disease, hypospadius, down syndrome, cleft hand, 
extra toe, anal atresia, microtia
disability??  N-O-P-E


Dont let the diagnosis scare you.
With God all things are possible
These are my kids....
they are just kids.....

Friday, March 29, 2013

"The Book"... a little ditty

I have really felt the calling to put down in words the happenings of my life since first entering the adoption world.  I have grow as a person and as a Christian.  I know there are many who could use some encouragement and support as well as a brief look into the journey they may travel some day.

I sat down today and started an outline.  It seems very overwhelming and I prayed for God to give me some direction.  We have 8 adopted kids, two biological children, and a load of testimonies to God's faithfulness.
Every testimony given to me shapes how I live my life today.  If not for adoption, I would have never grown as  a Christian so profoundly.  I certainly would not have grown in my awareness of what is important in life.
From a fake nail wearing, perfectly coiffed hair-styled, keeping up with the Joneses kinda gal....to a goodwill shopping, ponytail wearing, driving my 15 passenger van mom of ten.
so without further ado---
my first little ditty I wrote today-- ( not edited but too excited not to share)

January 2005   A walk through NanChang

The third day we were in NanChang was pivotal for me as an adoptive parent.  Here I was plunked down in the provincial city of our child and out for a leisurely stroll with the two other mothers and their newly adopted children.  My mom was also along just to get out of the hotel and the four walls of our room.

 I can remember us all walking single file leaving the hotel grounds on to what the Chinese call a sidewalk. We were laughing at the fact we had been warned by BTDT parents to dress our girls warmly so the “clothing police” would not target us for a tongue lashing.  The clothing  police were the old grannies just looking for someone to berate for not dressing their child in the required 20 layers for mid-winter in NanChang.

 You could pick out our group easily as we were four American ladies walking with their Chinese babes for all to see.  We were given the “thumbs up” by many and smiling faces were numerous.  And then it happened. The first contact with “them”. As swift as a gazelle, she came out of nowhere to grab a hold of my daughter’s bunting.  Yes, I said, “Bunting” …as in snowsuit for winter.  She was quick to show her disgust and start waving her aged finger at me.  She was clearly distraught over the fact that my child’s bunting was not stuffed full of clothes and bursting at the seams from layers.  She basically said, “Nice try, sweetie, but you get a Big “F” in dressing your child.”  You see, she could feel a huge gap between the bunting and Cassie’s shoulder.(Yes, she came right up and grabbed her clothing)   She knew from experience that I did not have enough clothing on my child to make Cassie stiff as a board and unable to scratch her nose. The four of us laughed as we walked further down the street.  Someone was saying, “I told you so!” back in the US. 

Then, I had a realization that wasn’t too funny.  I was angry and wished I could spatter away in Mandarin my disgust that my child was abandoned and not good enough because she did not have the outside part of her left ear!  Really?  Clothing layers?  That was the last thing I was worried about. My daughter was 22 months old and had never had the touch of a mother.  Never had the hug of a father that says, “I will protect you forever”. 
No security. No protection. No love.  
Clothing?  Shame on you.

I was also struck by the staring people as I had never really walked the street of China.  I didn’t know staring was okay , that someone could point at you, move closer to you and it was politically correct in every way..  It was unnerving to say the least.  My daughters both had very blonde hair at the time and, poor Chelsea’s hair was very curly!  They both had crowds follow them through the local WalMart when we went to purchase items for the orphanage.  One person thought Karli was Britney Spears and several of the young girls reached to touch Chelsea’s hair without even asking.

The walk down that shopping street in Nanchang also haunted me.  I could feel the eyes on me and I thought to myself, “What if one of these ladies is Cassie’s    mother?”   I wondered how many of these women have given up a child?  I was sure some of them had. The orphan crisis in China was horrible and the culture of feeling that disabilities were a curse was prevalent.  I was sad….  

Sad for the moms who had to abandon their child because of a birth defect.
 Sad for the culture that knew nothing of God’s love for children.
 Sad that my daughter had to live without a love of a family for all those months.

NanChang left its mark on my heart.  I would never be the same after my stroll down the street.  I left the hotel a joyous new adoptive mother and returned with a life’s calling to seek help for every orphan I possibly could with God’s help.  It was an urgent feeling I have not lost since that day. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Adoption Community...a BIG blessing!

So, since I wrote the first post I have seen this conversation reach new heights and new avenues each day.  The best part is that families are opening up to each other and also finding support through various posts.

I can honestly tell you that I have never been a part of a family like the adoption FAMILY.  I have had friends I have never met bend over backwards to help me in so many ways the last nine years!  Friends that have stood with me, and the choices our family has made, when my own family couldn't understand.

  Sad times....
 when we cried together over children who didn't make it to a family, families who lost husbands and wives, children who lost their "second" mother or father.  I have seen cancer steal the lives of mothers who I cherished, accidents steal the lives of fathers, and children who have slipped to the "other side" because of the hand of their own parents.  Loss of family I had never met.

And then.... 
complete and utter joy...
 as children we have seen languish are scooped up by a mommy and daddy and made the center of their world...
 Children who have a blank stare in their eyes and, in just ONE day, there is a small spark of light being emitted...and then, in a month, their little faces become pudgy and filled out and their faces exude the joy they are experiencing.  
JOY...as children who come home, with little hope of surviving the next year, be healed and children who should not walk--- DO.

As my husband says every time I go to him with "the next child"...
It will never be wrong to adopt. God will bless us and the child.

Yes, He will.
Kelly Rumbaugh

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Adoption is not for the faint of heart.....

Recently I was contacted by a set of parents who needed new info for their referred child.....they had less than 24 hours to make their decision.  The file was over a year old and they had a couple of photos of her.  She was institutionalized since birth and is currently 26 months old.  Her special need was "autistic features"

These parents were not scared of the autistic diagnosis...they just wanted to see where she was on the spectrum of severity.  However, I heard fear in their questions...  why is her head flat?  Why does she have a red mark around her arm like she was tied?  The other comment...."I have no idea how parents do THIS more than once... Adoption is hard"

I told them... Adoption is not for the faint of heart.

My main point of this e-mail is to say that adoption comes with many unknowns.  The unknown of timing, the unknown of cost, the unknown of what child you will make a part of your family, and the unknown of the extent of special needs your child will have.

I have brought home 8 children from China who were listed as waiting children.  Each time our family stepped forward in faith, we knew the medical file we received may or may not be valid.  We only once had a video of a child and even it was deceiving. There are always holes in the information and  the information you receive is usually very general (like the developmental milestone page)

On his gotcha day, I was given my son, Jonathan, along with an echocardiogram and told...He has a heart defect "Do you still want him" 

 On gotcha day, I met my 11 year old daughter, Piper, and as we left the 2nd floor of the civil affairs building, I was told, "She cannot do steps"  I carried her two flights of steps on my back to just get out of the building. We lived in a split foyer home and in her file "can do steps" was checked.

On gotcha day, my husband met our 6 yr old son, Elijah, and realized he cannot form words correctly and cannot be understood when he speaks.  The box marked "can speak 2-3 word sentences" was checked.

On gotcha day, my son, Joseph, was brought to me barely alive. The child I received photo of was at the BOTTOM of a slide, was pictured standing in the middle of a playground, and was pink.
Joseph was the picture of death-- purple and gasping for each breath.         

I have wondered recently.... why?  This is the age of digital cameras...this is the age of computers.  WHY are these files so empty and WHY are we not getting the full "picture" of our child to be?  Sometimes I think the files are worded and purposely left empty to help the child get a family.  Sometimes I feel the file is filled out by someone who really doesn't know the correct diagnosis but fills in a blank with a guess.  Sometimes I think they are filled out correctly and then the "higher ups" remove needs that could potentially be hidden until the child is being parented.

Adoption is not for the faint of heart. Adoption is a gamble.  Adoption has many unknowns and you have to be willing to accept it.  I don't feel it should be this way but, frankly, we enter into adoption knowing it will happen this way.

When you are adopting think of these few things....
--I will love my child not matter what.  
--I realize there may be many more issues to handle than what is in the file
--I realize these children did nothing to make them the way they are...they were born into an unfortunate situation and given less than they deserved for whatever period of time they were without a family.
--You cannot control many of the unknowns of adoption.
--You can prepare yourself as much as possible by educating yourself about the effects of being in an institution.
--Your child is not cured just because they have had surgery.
--You can prepare yourself by realizing that bringing a child into your family through adoption will be very very hard.  It is not rescuing the child and making everything ok.  It is taking them from everything they know and removing them from what they feel is security and home. It will take along time for them to acclimate to your home, family, and our country.
--Your family may go through come rough times and it affects the other children in the home as well.
-- Your trip to get your child will be exhausting and full of difficult times.  It is not a vacation.

Once you can wrap your brain around all of this... 
Strap your big girl panties on and stand tall....

--- YOU are about to do one of the hardest things in your life with the BIGGEST blessing on the other side. 
--- YOU are about to be the hands and feet of Christ to a child.
---  YOU are about to show others the possibilities of infinite love for a child even if they are not "yours"
---YOU are about to show others in your family, church, and community what unconditional love is.