Monday, March 31, 2014

Lipstick on the mirror --

My husband and I presented at an orphan conference this weekend on the subject of special needs.
It was a "no brainer" for us to tell others how God grew our family and how He called us to each child.  Every one of our children has a story of how God led them to our family and gave us confirmation that the path we chose was His path for us.  He equips us daily and has led us to children with severe needs.  Not everyone is called to children with special needs and not everyone is called to a child who can't walk or hear. Not everyone is called to adopt.

However, when you think you are called to adopt and grow your family.....

  how do you really know?

We all want "lipstick on the mirror" from God telling us the answers to life.  If he cant do that, than I am willing to look for skywriting in the sky ---  right?   Well, sometimes you have to leap first and then you receive confirmation.  He is asking for our trust.  He is seeking that we give it over to Him.  Its not easy is it?

Prayer is the first and foremost way to seek His will.  Go to Him and present your petition - asking in confidence that He hears and will answer.  Be still and look for those answers.  Sometimes they are full out obvious and sometimes they are not.

 Here's my list of DO's and DON'Ts:

  • Seek counsel with other Christians - especially if you have a spouse. Pray TOGETHER. 
  •  Make a list of "pros and cons" regarding adopting a specific child  (or any child)
  • Take into account how the addition of a child will affect your current family unit.
  • Think about your finances - to finance the adoption as well as any therapies or surgeries that may come your way parenting the child.
  •  consider your ability to parent another child. (think about your health, stress level, time commitments outside the home, and stability of your marriage)
  • seek out any doctors you may need for your child's special need.  Are there specialists in your area or will you have to travel to them?
  • disregard your spouses hesitation.
  • move forward if your spouse is "not on the same page" as you are.
  • stop praying
 Gather all your information and take time to make up your mind.  God may have another family waiting for the exact child you have hesitation about.  Educate yourself in every possible way about the process of adoption and the special need you are considering.  Find out about the area the child is from and if anyone knows other children who have come home from that area.  This is a huge window into their care and could foreshadow possible emotional issues that the child may have.

Once you have done your homework and you can make an educated decision - you need to go with your instinct.  Instinct is my equivalent to the Holy Spirit--- it is the Holy Spirit.  God gave you this to guide you and help you make this giant - no turning back - decision.  Follow the Holy Spirit.
I am still on the fence if there is another child for our family. 
Hubby says NO ...     like really....NNNOOO
So I pray and I ask the Lord to show me how to deal with these feelings.  I can't save them all - as I have been told SO many times by "kind, well meaning" people who meet me.  (you know everyone says that to you when you are thinking about another child or telling them you ARE adopting another child)
As an adoptive parent, we are walking the narrow path.  There are many people who just don't GET IT.   Don't allow those people to dictate how your family is made.  God is the one to consult. 
He may give you lipstick on the mirror....or skywriting in the heavens.  Whatever the mode of confirmation, I pray He moves in your life and the answers are apparent!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Am I allowed to be angry?? (just keeping it real)

I have a chip on my shoulder.  I have been carrying it since 2010.

I don't like that I feel this way but I do.  Its how God has grown me to be His servant.

My nature is to be a nurturer.  Most moms are and they gladly do what is necessary for their family.
(OK...maybe not always... but most know what they are signing up for when they get married and have children)

I just feel like I was duped.  Told one thing but didn't get what I thought I was getting.  I don't mean to sound callous.  I don't mean to sound ungrateful. I am just dealing with issues I didn't request. It happens all the time in the adoption world....   all.    the.    time.

In the Fall of 2009, our family was comprised of 6 children ages 21, 18, 6,5,4, and 4.  We had adopted four toddlers in as many years.  I completely had my hands full with the "littles" but the Lord had not calmed my heart for the orphan.  (Now, I know he'll never do that!)  My husband and I found a beautiful, smiling, "full of life" little girl on a waiting child list we decided to adopt.  She was 11 when we found her.  Right smack in the middle of the kids we were parenting at the time.  Self sufficient and ready to come into our family with hardly a blink of our eyes.


 My first realization that her file was not accurate was after I met her.  We were on the second floor of a government building which had no elevators.  Our gotcha moment was precious and she was everything I saw in her photos.  Sweet, tiny, and smiley.  At 11 years old, she was barely up to my chest and weighed a bit over 50 pounds.  She was scared and I praised God for allowing us to adopt two older girls at the same time. They had each other for comfort. ( our other daughter was adopted the week before - a few days from her 14th birthday)

After the papers were signed, we were on our way.  We followed the orphanage staff out the door and into the hallway to the top of the steps.  I reached for my daughter's hand to assist her on the steps when the orphanage director said, "She cannot use the steps".  I was floored. Why was I so surprised?
My daughter's file clearly had the box checked that said - CAN do steps.  Seriously?  We lived in a split foyer home....enter and you choose-- steps up or steps down.  I was reeling, meanwhile, I bent over and she leaned on my back to carry her down two flights of steps and out to the ground level of the building.


To make a long story short - she wanted me to do everything for her -- even help her toilet and wipe.
I was shocked but still in love with the idea of this sweet smiley girl.  She had my heart and I had loved her for a long time already.

By the time I had spent 24 hours with her, I found that she needed almost complete care for getting dressed, shoes, socks, hair care, toileting, showering, steps(long distance walking was certainly out of the question), carrying anything that was heavier than a pound or two, and getting in and out of a car.
 The amount of lifting I did the first day was unreal since China is NOT handicap friendly AT ALL.

Today, she is more self sufficient because we make her do anything remotely possible for her to do independently.  She does toilet herself and she can walk longer distances.  She can carry her dinner plate to the sink for washing as well as dress the upper half of her body.  I still do her hair, dress the bottom half of her body, shower her, carry her backpack, and lift her up and down steps as best I can.  She has come a long way and we are very proud of her. 

But - I am still angry.

As I got to know her, I found she was a favorite at her orphanage and THE LEADER.  She was "entitled" and brought that attitude with her to our home.  She would ask for assistance with everything that would involve even a little energy expenditure on her part.  Now, when dad and I aren't around, she gets her siblings to do her bidding.  This makes it even harder to "serve" her as she believes it is expected and is far from grateful.  She doesn't even seem to care that her demands inconvenience us.

I know she has been dealt a terrible hand in life.  I would never wish this special need on anyone; however, she needs to TRY her best to do what she can.  I am not an enabler and I never will be.  My children learn at a young age to do what they can for themselves because I want them to learn independence and self sufficiency.  Its a parent's job to teach the child. 

So, here I am, four years later, still angry.  I pray about this anger every day and hope that God gives me grace.  I pray I give my daughter grace.

 I have to be like Jesus.
 I have to suck it up and deal with it.  HE is teaching me...Its what parents do...

**Disclaimer:  I love my daughter and this is MY issue--not hers.  I love her dearly and I know I have been called to be her mom. Jesus helps me show His light to her.  I am thankful. ***

Just keepin' it real.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

How I react to the word : CANCER.....because I am a survivor.

I am a breast cancer survivor.  My cancer was caught early and I "over treated" it to be sure it would not come back. I hate cancer and I hate what it does to people physically, financially, and mentally.
Entire families are shaken to their core when someone they love is diagnosed with cancer.  It is a surreal feeling especially if you are feeling well as I was.  How can this be?  NOT ME! My first reaction was, "My kids will lose their mother again" (I have adopted kids so they suffer that loss from their biological mom)

Words I used to describe the feeling of being told you have cancer:
  • helpless
  • angry
  • scared
  • broken
  • sad
  • despair    
A week or so later, after learning the treatment plan I felt determined and ready to fight.
I had major surgery with a long recovery as well as chemotherapy.  Not nearly as bad as some who need radiation and multiple surgeries.  I had it easy -- but it was HARD.

Everyone in the family was suffering in one way or another.  My husband felt completely unable to help me.  My children were fearful for my life and even scared by my lack of hair. It was as if we were living in a slow motion horror film and the spotlights were on us.  When you have NO hair - the spotlight is on you.  Everyone looks at you with pity and seems to think you are on death's door.  I got tired of always reassuring everyone I was OK.  It was a big job but I was in charge of everyone else's opinion of me by how I acted and looked.

Like I said, I had it easy.  One surgery with double mastectomy and complete reconstruction of both breasts.  I never had the pain of going through months without "them".  It still is hard though as I see my self in the mirror daily with large 5" scars and no aureolas.  (They must take the full aureola when doing a mastectomy)  I'm sad I look different but on the outside I look "normal".

I was never scared I was going to die.  I knew I had a constant companion in the Lord and I knew He would get me through every second of the pain, fatigue, nausea, and heartache.  I lost a little piece of me hearing that I had cancer.  It was the innocent piece of me that always says, "not me" or "not my family".   It WAS me and it was MY FAMILY.  

I gained something, too, though--- a closer relationship with my Father in Heaven.  I had to lean on Him.  I had to rely on His strength even on the good days of treatment. I'm so thankful He was present for me and I knew He loved me and cared how I was doing.  Daily conversations took place and I knew He listened.  My faith was solid and no 6 letter word could have shaken it.

My reaction to someone who says they have cancer (or their loved one has cancer) is different now that I am a survivor.  If I know they have a relationship with Jesus Christ then I know they have Him and they have hope.  If they don't know Him, then they need to and I take it upon myself to witness of His mercy and tender care during my cancer.  I am sad for them - I hurt for them - I know what they are facing and I am sorry they have to go through it.  Its HARD. 

You will never be the same in many ways if you have had cancer -- I have never felt fully myself since my treatment.  I took the drug Tamoxifen for 1 year and 9 months after my last chemotherapy.  It is an important drug for breast cancer survivors.  I was supposed to take it for five years.  It debilitated me.  I was in such pain I could not make it thru a day without joint pain and my legs and arms throbbing from pain.  How was I supposed to live my life with such awful pain day in and day out?  I finally gave it to the Lord.  I asked Him for protection from recurrence of the cancer.  It was one of the most freeing days of my life.  I gave it to God.

I am now three years, one month and 25 days since my last chemotherapy treatment.  (technically the end of treatment and the beginning of being cancer free).  Yes, I know the days and months and years.
Cancer does that to you.  I am victorious and, yet, still a prisoner to cancer.  It may come back.  Maybe.  If it does --  Ill be ready with my Savior by my side.  Ready to fight the battle again.

So, to you that are walking this path or may walk this path - I say to you:

 Fear nothing.  Allow Christ to be the center of your battle.
You will never be the same physically but spiritually you will never be closer to the Lord.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Cave dwellings - Brighton's first home.

Brighton's tiny face, all puckered up and worried, is what I remember most about her file.  It was a face of doubt.  Why are you doing this?  Obviously, she had never had her photo taken.  My eyes were drawn to what looked like a professional football field far below her in the background. It was completely out of place for this area of China. There it was in the middle of such obvious poverty -- a stadium with astro-turf!

As God would have it, I was permitted by the civil affairs officer to visit Brighton before we adopted her.  I could not have predicted it but it was more than a year before our adoption trip.  To visit your child before adoption is unheard of so I knew God had special plans for my trip.  I was going primarily to take her a walker so she could become more ambulatory - in hopes she would walk unassisted someday.

I was allowed to travel to see Brighton in her hometown of Yan'An, ShaanXi province.  It is a mountainous region in the Northwest part of China.  The city was separated by an old river bed dredged in between two mountain ridges.   It is the most incredible city I have seen in China.  Visiting Yan'An was an incredible learning opportunity and gave me a window into my daughter's first 4.5 years of her life.  Meeting her foster grandmother was amazing and something I consider a huge privilege.

Yan'An is a typical Chinese city with the exception of the soccer stadium and the housing of the people.  Many of the people still reside in the mountain dwellings tunneled back into the side of the surrounding mountains.  Imagine living IN the side of a mountain with nothing but dirt floors and walls.  A garage door is the only thing protecting you from the elements.  Many of the entry ways in this photo do not even have the door.  Primitive at best, right?

This is the type of home my daughter lived in for the first years of her life.  I can only imagine the winters of northwest China and the cold the mountain people living in these dwellings had to endure.
I can only guess where they went to the bathroom.  I know they only had a stove type heater in each dwelling.  They slept on brick beds.  BRICK.

This was the only way to stay warm.  Build the bed of bricks with a small hole under to pipe the heat from the stove.  Sleeping on a slab is mighty uncomfortable but, for a child with spina bifida, it must have been terrible.  Brighton must have been cold.  She slept with the covers over her face for over a year after she came to live with us.  My heart hurts for her to have lived in these circumstances.

I leave you with this.  Many children live in these dire circumstances.  If not for the Lord, who protects them and gives them a hope and a future, they would perish.  May the God of hope be ever present in their lives each day.  May they someday have the opportunity to know Him.  Ask the Lord how He can provide you with the opportunity to help. Be willing to sacrifice if He calls you to help.  Be ready. Be willing. YOU ARE ABLE.

Ways you can help:
  • pray for the orphans of this world
  • sponsor a child to help with food clothing education and possibly medical issues. (click here)
  • help an adopting family financially
  • go on a mission trip
  • adopt
  • foster a child
  • pray

Monday, March 24, 2014

spina bifida, deafness, club foot, hydrocephalus..... that's a list of issues. 
Wanna "meet" her??
Yep, my daughter has all these issues.

This photo is shortly after Miss "B" came home to us in June 2009 from China.   She had NO language and could not walk.  You can see her right foot was at a constant point due to club foot. The scar that ran across her lower back was complicated looking and very ugly.  Her hydrocephalus was untreated. We had our work cut out for us to visit doctors and to have her hearing assessed. 

I was going through my old file of emails for her adoption and came across a few emails written when as I was being called to advocate for her (and subsequently become her mommy).  I am still in awe of how God raised up a village to bring her home.  Within two days of an email post to the group for my agency THEY had raised enough money to begin the process for her - over $3,000.00!  It was God bringing angels to help our family commit to this little sprite.  The testimony of her adoption is one for another blog post - so, I digress...

Brighton's file was empty.  It had three photos of her and a few medical reports.  Nothing to state if she was hard of hearing or profoundly deaf.  We knew she had been given the surgery to correct her meningocele and her back was closed.  That's about all.   Her head didn't look overly large like some kids with hydrocephalus but we new there had been no treatment.  We didn't even know if she could bear weight on her legs....all the photos were of her sitting down.

Wheels were turning.  It was before our adoption of Joseph that I started looking for her family for her.  I was advocating the best I could but she needed help.  I knew that an update for her file was needed to help prospective parents see her for who she really had the potential to be.  We got one through my service for families that are waiting parents.  (

She was pictured standing next to a bed in a garage type room with dirt floors.  She was filthy but her smile was there "beaming" for all to see.... She had personality plus and we could all see that from her photos.  The report said she was incontinent and could not walk without assistance.  Her foot was badly clubbed.   She could not hear.

Hmphh - all that.  Yep, it was a whole bunch of stuff that a family would have to consider.  They'd have to have good insurance and time.  Time to go to doctors appointments and therapies.  It was going to be harder to find a family than I thought....even with the update that she could stand.

About a month later Joey came home - He was very very ill with a severe heart defect.  I never once considered adopting Brighton --  especially so, with a critically ill child to care for.   Joseph was extremely blessed to have a team of doctors fight for his life when we came home.  He was miraculously discharged 9 days after his open heart surgery.  His life was spared and he was on the road to recovery.

About a month later, I started to feel the call to go get Brighton. We prayed and finally decided to move forward.  We were only home with Joey for four months so we could not start our homestudy for two more months. (That was our agencies rule, I think)  We waited over a year to go get her and in that time, I actually traveled to her home town and delivered a walker to her.  (another miracle)

Brighton came home to our family in June of 2009.  She could not talk but she could make noises and made her needs known.  She had a foot that was completely upside down with a callous on the top of her foot from "walking" on it.  We had doctors lined up and clinic appointments for her spina bifida.

Her final assessment was that she was incontinent, profoundly deaf, had a club foot, dislocated hip, repaired meningocele, and unshunted hydrocephalus but in the first few weeks we spent with her we knew no matter what the list included she was our daughter and she was such a happy girl.  God knew what He was doing and we are so blessed to call her our own.

This photo was taken after her club foot casting.
She is wearing ankle foot orthotics to give her stability.

Today, Brighton is almost nine years old.  She is in a special needs 2nd grade class at our local deaf school.  She is thriving and she is still the happiest kid on Earth every day.  We use American Sign Language to communicate and she is learning more and more every day.  Since she has joined our family she had had many surgeries including being shunted and having her spinal cord de-tethered. She is incontinent and is catheterized four times a day to keep her kidneys healthy.
She had club foot casting done as well.   Brighton now walks with forearm crutches and uses a wheelchair for long distances.  She is a smart young lady with a stong will to do things other people don't expect her to do.  I can learn so much from her determination.
Brighton has taught me many things.  Most of all, she has taught me to know that God knows what we can handle.  He planned everything perfectly and always does.  So glad I listened and chose His path!  I would have missed such a blessing!!

1 Corinthians 9:26-27 (The Message)
I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself. 

**tomorrow's blog will be about the living conditions Brighton had while in China with her foster family.  It was a mountain dwelling with no heat.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Keepin it real -- World Down Syndrome Day

Today is Elijah's Day...   World Down Syndrome Day

Elijah - our sweet, impulsive, headstrong, loving, non-complaint, "totally exhausting to parent" child with an extra 21st chromosome.

Its World Down Syndrome Day, so I am writing about my experience with the adoption of our son.  He was adopted at the age of 6 from China in March 2012.  He has been home with our family for a little over two years.  Two years of parenting like I have never parented.  Two years of endless hugs.  Its been a journey I didn't imagine to say the least.  Its been HARD.

I wasn't prepared at all.
 At all----

I watched a waiting children's website with his photo for two years.  I was in love with the lil' dude because he looked so much like my son, Joey.  I felt the Lord calling me to adopt a child with down syndrome.

In September 2010, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and thought all my chances of adopting were gone.  I thought of this little face and knew it was too late.  China would not allow me to adopt if I had cancer.   Little did I know,  the Master Planner had other plans....God ha  future for this little one.   A few short months after my chemotherapy started, my husband and I were approved to adopt this sweet boy we call Elijah. 

Elijah was cared for by a foster family in China subsidized by an American organization called Love Without Boundaries.  I was able to sponsor Eli and get monthly updates on him as we waited....and waited.  What a blessing to our family.  We also received all the monthly photos of him provided by LWB after we adopted him.  This is truly priceless.

March 2012 proved to be a very stressful time for our family.  I did not travel to go get Eli so I had to wait until their return to the USA to meet him.  I had heard stories of how hard things were in China because he couldn't speak well and he didn't listen.  He wanted his own way all the time.  I quickly found out this was all true to the "Nth" degree.

Eli was -- and still is -- hard to parent.  He does not want to do what we ask and most times we must physically move him to the task.  He has his ideas and believes with all that is in him that he is doing what is correct or what is needed at that point.   Its difficult to have a child ignore you.  Its difficult to have to say --over and over-- what we want him to do.  Come to bed, get your shoes on, stop hitting, stop spitting.

Elijah is a challenge in every sense of the word.  Every minute he must be under our guidance.  If we don't know where he is....WE are in trouble.  We have caught him peeing in the kitty litter, writing on walls, leaving the house to go to the neighbors, getting called he is at the neighbors....the list is extensive.  As parents, we are "on" from the minute Eli rises to the minute he sleeps.  No rest while he is awake.  Its very tiring and we are exhausted.

This is Elijah -- this is down syndrome --

He has gotten better in many ways and does comply with some requests.  He loves to help people - but sometimes they don't need it (or don't want it)... 

I am NOT writing this to complain about my calling.  God calls us to hard things and we are there -- in the trenches with our boy.  There are days I look at him and say to myself, "Will I get through this day today?"  BUT - there are many days when I think to myself -- "Lord, you have blessed me!"

Elijah is ALL IN....anything he does.... he does it with zeal.  He is never wishy washy about anything.
He gets excited every morning for school.  He gets excited every day when he returns home.
He loves our animals and he loves his siblings.  He has a special place in his heart for his nephew and niece.    He always has his arms open wide for a hug when our grandson Tucker arrives for the day.

I am blessed by Eli and his extra chromosome.  He is smart and sometimes that does me in ((smile)).
I love him and I know he belongs with us where God has placed him through miraculous circumstances.  I am blessed.
If you get the chance, spend some time with a person with down syndrome.  YOU will be blessed too.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


In 2009, we added the sweetest 4 yr old to our family. She came to us unable to walk and unable to hear.  She had the saddest photos in her file.  Today, she is a source of immense joy as she has learned to walk with forearm crutches and she is using sign language to speak. 

As I was preparing my "On the Frig" post for yesterday, I hung the photo of Kellin in its spot of honor.  Shortly after, my daughter signed, "WHO?"  My heart skipped a beat and I realized I had no idea how to answer her.  Her sign was simple but the message I got from it was profound.  She simply wanted to know who's child he was.  Wow.

I help up my hands with the sign for "none"

Its hard for me to put into words how devastating that is.  NONE.  That's not how God set this world in motion.... He created family so there would be someone for everyone.   I know Kellin is loved.  I love him and his former nannies loved him.  Christ loves him. 

I just desire so much more than "none" for this child...and any other child who has "none".
There is such injustice in this world for these children who have noone to call their own.  God is pained when we choose to look the other way in these situations.  As Christians, the Bible says to care for the orphan and widow.  More people need to take this seriously.  More people need to care about this.

I am not just talking about adopting a child - I am talking about CARING.  There is so much you can do for the orphan that is easy to accomplish and the rewards are eternal. 
  •  Sponsor a child
  • Give to a family who is adopting
  • Go on a mission trip
  • PRAY for them.

In my lifetime, I lived many years in a very small world.  Christ chose to enlighten me about the orphan and give me a passion. He opened my world to so much more than just my SELF.   He allowed me to give 8 children a new identity.  They are loved and they belong.  They have so much more than NONE.

So, I ask you to ask yourself and pray to the Father -
Lord, how can I get involved in the orphan care plight?  Lead me in your will and guide me to put an end to a child's NONE. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

REPOST: Adoption is not for the faint of heart.

** I wrote this blog about a year ago but its worth sharing again**

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... 
 Live with confidence 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.


Piles everywhere.
This is what my house seems to consist of ---- laundry piles, toy piles, paper piles.
Can you relate?
 I am no June Cleaver when it comes to housekeeping and I admit it.
I just can't justify cleaning when the human tornadoes I call children whiz through the house mere seconds after picking up everything to create more piles. Its frustrating, so, I don't deal with it.
Yes, I should be "THE mom" who demands order and keeps after my kids with every breath I take.
I don't have time for that. I know I need to "train up"my kids and I have to make it a priority but right now I can't for MY sanity.

So, I have designated the refrigerator as a place of importance.  The side of the frig is mine to put important papers and reminders -- you know, the bills!
The front is a place of commendation - where my kids desire to hang those precious works of art I will cherish in 20 years after they have grown.

Today starts a new weekly blog post called "THE FRIG". As I said, I use the front of my frig as the place where I display my children's art work.  I am now sectioning off a space about eye level on my refrigerator for something special to me.  (The kids cant reach there anyway)
It will be something  or someone I want to pray about for the week and every time I walk by I can lift a prayer to the Father.  Of course, I will put orphans on my special spot - but I will also call your attention to scripture and opportunities for you to pray and seek Him.

And, just so you can see what I am talking about with my FRIG---

so -- did you spot HIM??
Yes, of course my first "FRIG honor" goes to a deserving lil guy who needs a family!
His advocate name is Kellin and he is precious.

Here is a closer shot:

I have been watching Kellin for several months as he was with an agency for awhile and then was returned to the shared list.  This means essentially he gets lost in the shuffle of 1800 children's files that are waiting to be found.  Its so sad because he basically become a number on the shared list unless someone brings him to the spotlight - or the frig...
I'd love to bring him home but there are reasons why we wont. (We are done) (I think)
In China there are special places run by non government organizations (NGO's) that help a small percentage of the children who wait for a family.  Most of these foster homes are for medically fragile children or children who need specialized care.  Kellin was blessed to be at one of these facilities for visually impaired children for a small time in his life. (Bethel) You see, he came into care there as a sick, fragile baby and he THRIVED.  He was doing fantastic and was healthy and was making forward progress!  The above photo was taken during his stay there.  However, Kellin's orphanage decided to call him back.
Think about this.  He is blind.  He was returned to his orphanage to strangers and is now left to lie in a hard crib day after day with little stimulation.  Can you imagine the truly devastating circumstance Kellin is in?  He cries... and cries..... and cries.  Noone there to love him.  I can hardly type this as I just need to fall on my face for him.  I cannot turn my back. I cannot move from the paralysis of this completely wrong situation of this tender child.
Do you get it?
No, really....DO YOU GET IT?
I could go on and on about sacrifice and how we, as Americans, are spoiled and have an air of entitlement.  That's another blog post.  Today - I want you to think of Kellin...
Think about the fact that he may be there--in the crib-- no touch-- little interaction--- for years.
Do you get it?

Say a prayer for Kellin today for me.  I am broken for him.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Todays Tidbit

Did you know that God is in the little things?


 There have been times that I have prayed for a parking space near the doors or times I have lost my phone (again). He cares about every detail of your life. Look back on your life and think about all the coincidences - something you were surprised about that was Him. He is in the tiniest detail of your life. The God who places the stars in the sky cares about your parking space or your lost phone. He cares. look for Him to be Him as he gently cares for you in every detail.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Question #2 - Have you ever adopted breaking birth order?

Adoption Question number 2:

Did you adopt in between ages? For example did you adopt in order so that every time a new sibling came, they were the youngest or did the order change by adopting a 5 year old when you had a 3 year old at home? If so, how did it go?

We have brought 8 children into our family through adoption. At the time of our first adoption in 2005, our biological girls were 16 and 13. We adopted children in birth order the first three adoptions ....bringing our children home at the ages of 20 months, 30 months, and 26 months. So in 2007, we have children who were 19, 16, 4, 3, and 2. We then adopted a daughter in 2009 who was 6 months older than our youngest child. So we did break birth order for her adoption - however - she is deaf and was very behind in every way. So, even though we broke the birth order it did not seem like we did.

Six months later we adopted two more girls and "filled in the middle"
We added two adolescent girls into our family -- 11 and 14 yrs old. This was absolutely breaking birth order but really was a smooth transition. Both girls assimilated easily into our family and are well adjusted children for spending a great deal of their life in an institution.

Our last double adoption was of two boys ages 4 and 6 at adoption. So the oldest broke birth order and the 4 yr old is the youngest, This adoption was in 2012. Currently, the ages of our children are 25, 22, 18, 15, 10, 10, 8, 8, 8, and 6 The ten yr olds are 9 months apart and the 8 yr olds are 5 weeks and 6 months apart respectively.

Evert time we adopted our world was rocked for a period of months until the dust settled and everyone got used to each other. Every time we found a new normal....slightly different than the life before adopting the most recent child(ren). Birth order was certainly a factor but our situation of breaking birth order was a bit different because of the special needs of the children we adopted.

Every agency and family has their idea of whether or not to break birth order. If you have a very strong minded, "in charge" child you may not want to adopt a child that is slightly older and would usurp his place in the family. Many agencies do not allow out of birth order adoptions and also want the youngest child in your family to be 9 months older than the child you adopt. I never used any of these agencies so I did not have to comply with these rules.

I truly believe God equipped us with the instinct to know what is right for our family when adopting. Always remember that a child who is a bit older and has been in an orphanage will be socially behind and most likely developmentally behind a child of the same age raised in a loving family.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Adoption Question #1 - Should I bring my older child with me on the adoption trip? Will my child bond to them instead of me?

Time to start answering some of the excellent questions I was sent this week....


 Have you ever just traveled with one of your children and your newly adopted child prefers them instead? I am traveling with our 13 yr old when we get our referral and was wondering what would happen.

I traveled for two or our adoption trips with older siblings.  The first trip was for my son Jonathan who was adopted at age 2.5 yrs.  I took my daughter who was turning 15 during the adoption trip.  She was a huge help during the trip and I am so glad she came.

As far as bonding goes, there are a few things you should be sure of when facilitating healthy attachment.  One is that the parent only is responsible for caring for and feeding the child as well as comforting them.   When you are on the trip or in the early months at home ALL care should come from a parent-- not a sibling, friend, or grandparent.  This TEACHES the child WHAT a mother/father is.  THE person/people that the child can count on --- period. 

I certainly allowed my daughter to play with my son and sit next to him at meal times but I was in charge of getting his food, helping him eat, and cleaning him up from a meal.  Likewise, I did all bathing, brushing teeth, co-sleeping, and comforting.  All "close touch" with with me and not the sibling.

This is important during the adoption trip and for months after being home.  Teach them to count on you.  They have had caregivers breeze in and out of their lives daily through their days as an orphan.  They need routine and stability when coming into their forever family. 

This also bring up the extended family issues when coming home and "everyone" wants to hold the new child.  Please take action to inform your family before you leave about attachment and why you will set boundaries for several months.... It will be very very hard but set the line at play on the floor with each holding, no feeding, no changing diapers.  ANY touch or cuddling should be with the parent.

The promotion of attachment and giving the child a period of  time to really bond with the mom and dad is VITAL and absolutely necessary.  As an adoptive parent I urge you to not take this lightly.  Any social worker or adoptive parent will tell you it is worth a few hurt feeling and a little extra diligence to be sure the newest member of your family knows who mom and dad are!

Monday, March 10, 2014


Sacrifice defined is:

"giving up of something valued: a giving up of something valuable or important for somebody or something else considered to be of more value or importance."

What is important to you?  Is it your social status or your job?  Is it your family living in a home you own or the summer vacation you have planned?  Is it material possessions like your car or your jewelry. Is it your retirement and your nest egg to live "the good life" during retirement?

Would you give it up for a child you don't know?  Maybe not all of it; but, would you make a significant lifestyle change to be the hands and feet of Christ to a child?  To give a child security and safety and a family in which they can feel loved.  I dont think there are many people REALLY willing to sacrifice for anything or anyone if it means giving up some of their security and easy way of  life.

Proverbs 24:12

The Message (MSG)
11-12 Rescue the perishing;
    don’t hesitate to step in and help.
If you say, “Hey, that’s none of my business,”
    will that get you off the hook?
Someone is watching you closely, you know—
    Someone not impressed with weak excuses.

Read it again---
That's a call to do something--

to sacrifice
God knows you know.... you have been informed.
PRAY and seek Him - ask Him how you can help

You know, I was out with my friends shopping last Fall at a midnight madness sale.  I was happily going into the stores that line the quaint Main Street of our town.  The girls wanted to go into a jewelry store to look.  I went in with them and immediately felt a wave of guilt.  I didnt want to be in there or anywhere near something so extravagant when children were dying, suffering from neglect, or being hated because of their gender or special need.  I was being held accountable by my God.  He knew I wouldnt buy anything--- but everything I stand for says I didnt belong "IN" that store.

I  got out as soon as I could and I could breathe again.   I know - you are saying -- "Gosh thats so extreme."  Well, my passion is extreme and my God is powerful enough to make me sweat under my collar at something so little.  

Sacrifice - 
"giving up of something valued: a giving up of something valuable or important for somebody or something else considered to be of more value or importance."

SO??  What is your someting valuable or important that YOU can give up for someone else of MORE value or importance.

Christ died on the cross for you...YOU...  He valued you enough to give His LIFE

Why is it so hard to give up a little money, a little time, (a little jewelry),  or a little love when Christ gave his life for you.

Seek the Lord in prayer and ask Him where you fit into the orphan care and adoption movement happening in His church today.  I promise the sacrifice you are asked to give will be nothing compared to the blessing received for your obedience to the Lord.