FB Questions Answered!

A few weeks ago I wrote a short request on facebook asking people to share their questions regarding adoption. ¬†Here are the questions and the best answers I could come up with ūüôā

“In places like China, for example, I’ve heard that it is customary to offer expensive gifts, etc., not to mention the plane fare. Where might a middle class family who don’t have plane fare, etc. be able to inquire?”

So unfortunately I have no firsthand experience with this one, but I will share the best I’ve been able to acquire from my research!

So from what I’ve been able to understand, in many cases these “gifts” are items being requested by orphanage directors/workers when a child is being adopted. ¬†Though this may seem incredibly manipulative, from what I’ve read in many cases it is actually the agency you are working with here in North America that is requesting you to bring these gifts because it is culturally appropriate to offer gifts in situations such as these. ¬†I also found that in many cases these gifts are really not expensive ($10-25 each) and are actually donations for the children left behind in the orphanage when you return home with your child. ¬†The $30-50 thousand dollars you spend on an international adoption is largely spent on lawyer fees both in your country and the child’s, travel costs, adoption agency fees, and government documents you need to acquire for your child. ¬†The orphanage itself from which your child is coming will receive very little, if any, of this money. ¬†These “gifts” are their way of trying to improve the conditions of the orphanage. ¬†Again, this is not first hand experience and my information may not be reliable but that’s what I found. ¬†To avoid being taken advantage of financially in an international adoption the overwhelming advice I read was to work with a reputable agency, to be organized and to choose a country that has signed the Hague Convention.

As far as being able to afford an international adoption, there are many things a middle class family can do:

  1. Apply for adoption grants
  2. Fundraise for your adoption
  3. Live on less
  4. Sell stuff
  5. Get a loan

I believe that where there is a will there is a way ūüôā

Read my blog post on affording adoption here.

How does a family go about discretely investigating about whether or not the child has physical/neurological difficulties? There have been many reports of adoptive parents finding that the babies have difficulties that they weren’t aware of. While a couple would need to accept these things in their own birth child, there are many who adopt, not wanting to sign up for that.

To be honest, I think this was probably more common longer ago.  Here in Canada, I do not think you need to be concerned at all about this as any public or private agency will share as much information as possible with you if you are serious about adopting a specific child.  They are not trying to con you into adopting a child.  On the contrary, they are working for the best interests of the child, not you!  Once you express serious interest in a child, you will be given the opportunity to view their entire file including any medical history, diagnoses, etc.  It will be your job to do the research on whatever you find and be sure you are equipped and informed.

However, you must remember that there are many unknowns related to children who have suffered trauma, abuse and/or neglect. ¬†Short of a magic genie there is no way for you to predict the full capabilities of a child upon adoption any more than a biological child’s future needs at birth.

I would say:

Ask as many questions as you can.

Consult with professionals regarding the information you do receive.

Do your research, but at the same time be prepared that life has a way of throwing curve balls at you and it doesn’t mean someone deliberately mislead you.

If you’re referring to international adoption I would certainly think there are many more risks of this occurring. ¬†I know most adoption agencies encourage you to arrange for a medical examination to take place in the child’s current country and then again immediately upon arrival to Canada. ¬†Many children available for adoption internationally have been abandoned at an orphanage with very little information, so there is not necessarily any way you can know what the true extent of their limitations are. ¬†It’s important to be prepared for things to be much worse than you expect…but it’s also important to keep in mind that a secure and loving environment, with great access to medical care and services is the ideal place for a child to reach his or her fullest potential!

As far as not wanting to ‘sign up for this’…it’s a phrase that would be worth considering deeply. ¬†If you are not prepared to face some unknowns adoption may not be for you. ¬†These kids need people who are willing to stick with them no matter what.

 

“I know a couple who adopted a young girl after fostering for a long time. Later, there was such conflict with their biological children, that they arrived at the difficult decision of letting the girl go again. How does the couple with the heartache in that decision reconcile that issue within themselves. I’m sure they still ache.”

This is a tough one for me. ¬†Everybody has a story about an adoption that went wrong in some way or other. ¬†I feel for this family deeply and I’m sure that they must have walked through some very dark and desperate times to reach this decision. ¬†I have never had this experience, and to be honest it goes against everything I believe.

At the same time, I am not so naive as to think that the intense struggles involved in foster care and adoption could not lead to this. ¬†As much as I don’t like it, there are children who have been wounded to the point where they cannot function well in a family environment. ¬†Love does not fix everything. ¬†There are times when a child needs supports that a home environment will not be able to provide. ¬†Many adoptive parents have lived through the agony of having to choose to send their child to residential treatment centres, etc. ¬†This is hard stuff.

I would say, however…that I feel like there should always be an option that still includes the preservation of the vows you made to your child upon their adoption into your family. ¬†I cannot ever in my mind conceive a time when it would be ok to abdicate my biological child’s place as my son or daughter. ¬†Any parent who abandons their biological child or rejects their place in the family is labelled as a monster. ¬†I struggle to understand why a child you’ve chosen to adopt would be any different. ¬†The day you adopt a child you legally become their parent. ¬†They receive a new birth certificate, with your name on it. ¬†They take on your last name. ¬†You vow before a judge to care for them and love them forever. ¬†The minute you sign those documents in the court room, the time to back out of an adoption is past. ¬†While it may be necessary to relinquish a child to live outside of your home for a while…or even permanently…I would be lying if I said I thought there was ever an ok time to nullify an adoption. ¬†Especially due to sibling rivalry. ¬†I’m guessing the thought of “letting go” of the biological children never crossed their minds. ¬†Two wrongs will not make a right. ¬†They may reject you, they may push you away, they may leave your life in a pile of rubble and desolation…but they desperately need you to follow through on the promise that nobody else did; that they belong to you and nothing can ever change that. ¬†Whether they are under your roof, behind bars, in a respite home or enrolled in a treatment centre…they are yours and you are theirs. ¬†That’s what family means.

 

Do you feel differently about your biological child than your adopted ones?

Yes, I do. ¬†I ADORE all 3 of my children but I absolutely feel differently about them in some ways. ¬†I worry less about my biological son’s future, and my relationship with him is so easy. ¬†Our attachment is secure and unexplainable, with no interruptions or unknowns. ¬†My daughters and I have walked some hard and dark places together, and I have fought harder for them than I knew was possible. ¬†There are days my heart wants to explode with pride as I watch them conquer their world. ¬†There are other days I feel a lot of fear and pain as I watch them. ¬†I have had to earn their trust, and we still walk on eggshells around some issues. ¬†It is a more intentional love, and there are days the foundation appears to be crumbling in places I didn’t know exist. ¬†I am constantly on alert with them. ¬†We take nothing for granted. ¬†But we are a family. ¬†Forever. ¬†And I would choose this again and again and again. ¬†My 3 children came to me in very different ways, but the 3 of them make up my heart and together they are siblings with a bond that is unmistakably family!

 

How long does the adoption process take? 

Unfortunately the adoption process is unpredictable as there are many variables. ¬†There are 3 different types of adoption, first of all. ¬†International, domestic and foster care. ¬†For all three you will need to start with a homestudy assessment. ¬†This process usually takes approximately 6 ¬†months to complete. ¬†After your homestudy is complete it depends largely on how motivated you are to adopt and what type of child you plan to adopt. ¬†If you are adopting internationally or through foster care and are interested in adopting children with special needs, older children or a sibling group your adoption will usually go fairly quickly from this point…especially if you are being proactive in searching for your children. ¬†If, however, you are waiting for a baby or child with very limited special needs you will wait longer as children rarely make it through being abandoned, abused, neglected or orphaned without some major trauma. ¬†If you are adopting domestically and being matched with a birth mother there is no guarantee when or if you will be matched but most families statistically are matched within a year. ¬†You can speed up the adoption process by being prompt in completing your paperwork, being open to special needs children and being proactive alongside your adoption worker. ¬†However…God has a way of making things happen in His timing and in His ways, and sometime that means waiting. ¬†At the end of the day it is all up to Him and trusting His timing will help bring peace in the waiting periods and hope in what seems to be endless holdups. ¬†He is bigger than any obstacle that may stand in the way.

 

What are some things your home requires to pass the home inspection?

Some things you will need to complete a homestudy in Ontario are:

  • Criminal Record Checks
  • Fire Inspection
  • Medical Certificate completed by family physician
  • References
  • Financial Statement form
  • Proof of Home and Auto Insurance
  • MTO Driver’s Abstract
  • Car Seat Inspections
  • Notice of Assessment
  • Complete PRIDE training
  • Meet with your social worker at least 3-5 times

Many people find the homestudy process to be quite invasive and intimidating, which it certainly can be. ¬†Having someone come in and inspect every aspect of your life, home and family is a little disconcerting. ¬†However, this is an essential part of being sure you are a safe, consistent and loving home for a child to grow up in. ¬†Try to remember that everything you are being asked to do is for the sake of the many children out there waiting for a family. ¬†Raising children with trauma backgrounds is not always easy and it’s important to be sure you are prepared for this challenge. ¬†The homestudy is designed to help both you and the adoption agency you are working with to determine whether your family is prepared for adoption.

AF

 

Refresh Chicago 2016

My heart is full.

My husband and I travelled to Chicago this past weekend to attend the Refresh Conference. ¬†It’s a conference specifically for Believers involved in foster care and adoption.

The name says it all.

The main goal is to refresh and equip foster and adoptive families while providing space for community to flourish.

I did not know I was starving;

For a glimpse of this part of God’s Kingdom

for encouragement and blessing on this journey

for hope

for the future.

I did not expect the emotions I felt as I stood with over a hundred other people passionate about orphaned and vulnerable children, worshipping together.

The tears caught me off guard as I felt their presence around me,

listened to their words of hope

and saw the same heart in their eyes as I see looking back in the mirror at me every day.

We laughed,

we cried,

we worshipped,

we prayed,

we learned,

we said “me too.”

I went expecting to meet new people, hear their stories and be encouraged.

What I experienced was so much more.

I was spiritually nourished.

I felt like they were speaking my heart language.

My soul rested and I felt this balm just wash over me, knowing that here in this place I did not need to fight or defend.

Here I was understood.

At the end of the weekend we exited through a prayer line.

I walked beside my husband, clenching his hand and feeling the tears sting my eyes as I saw their hands stretched over us and heard their prayers ringing in my ears.

“Patience…bring healing”

“His strength in your weakness”

“power…love…be blessed…”

I didn’t know how much it would mean to have someone praying His Word over me, my husband and our family.

We are not alone.

Thank you

AF

 

If You Can’t Adopt…

So many people are in situations or circumstances that make it impossible or difficult for them to pursue adoption. ¬†While I campaign and advocate openly for MORE FAMILIES TO ADOPT I certainly realize some families are not able to pursue adoption for a variety of reasons…and shouldn’t.

So what can you do if you are not able to adopt?

How can you obey the biblical command to care for the orphan? (Psalm 82:3, James 1:27, Isaiah 58:6-10)

1. PRAY

Old, young, middle aged…even children can get involved in this way! ¬†Through this season we’ve committed to praying with our children for waiting children needing families. ¬†I’ve seen such a space open in their hearts just in a few short prayers as they connect with these children. ¬†Prayer changes hearts and it changes lives!

  • Pray for the waiting children, waiting families, newly adoptive families, and tired adoptive families in the trenches.
  • Pray for more families!
  • Pray for wisdom and perseverance for families wading through the trauma adoption brings.
  • Pray for courage for families facing difficult adoption realities.
  • Pray for healing for the children.
  • Pray that through the next month the church would rise up and meet the challenge of thousands of children needing homes!

2. BECOME A RESPITE HOME.

To become a respite home you will go through the typical foster care training and assessment, but as a respite home you will only commit to the time you have available.  It may be one weekend a month, every weekend, one day a week or one weekend a year!  Whatever time you have can benefit a foster child and family.

Children in care are dealing with big emotions and big life changes which often shows itself through big actions!  It can be a huge relief to have a weekend off for a foster family to regroup, catch up on sleep, visit family or just relax and rejuvenate for the work God has called them to.

Likewise, respite homes are encouraged to act more like a ‘grandparent’ in the child’s life. ¬†Relax a bit on the structure of the child’s life and just have fun. ¬†My girls have very fond memories of some respite homes they spent time in on weekends during their years in foster care. ¬†These people, though only in their lives for brief periods of time, built fond memories with them and helped them to feel like they had a larger, extended family outside of their foster families. ¬†They still talk about them today. ¬†One couple in particular advocated strongly for our girls to be placed together instead of separately for adoption when they cared for them on weekends. ¬†We are very grateful to them!

This role is perfect for an older couple who may not be prepared to take on a child full time anymore, a family busy raising their own children or a single person who may not have the resources or time to commit to full time parenting. ¬†Also, if you’re considering foster care and would like to ‘ease in’ a bit…this will give you a taste and some experience before forging ahead full time. ¬†Many times the agency will set you up with the same child or children so that you can form a relationship and become a safe haven in the child’s life. ¬†Most children in care look forward to these sleepovers.

3. SUPPORT A FOSTER OR ADOPTIVE FAMILY IN YOUR CHURCH OR COMMUNITY.

There are so many ways you can bless a foster or adoptive family in your church or community. ¬†Take a look at the time, skills and resources you have to offer and then just ask the question, “How can I use these to support a family on the front lines of this ministry?” ¬†We are so grateful for our extended family, friends and church community who have supported, loved and prayed for us through our adoption journey. ¬†It is so important to feel like you have a village behind you! ¬†These are some of the ways that people have blessed us:

  • Hand me down clothes, toys, etc.
  • Babysitting – so thankful for people who have volunteered to babysit…even when our children were not easy to care for – so that we could have a date night! ¬†When we were foster parents this meant our babysitters also needed Criminal Record Checks. ¬†It meant a lot to us when people would do this for us so we could leave the children for an hour or two!
  • Meals – freezer meals, leftovers, take out or gift cards…we were thankful for them all! ūüôā
  • Gifts – When our daughters first joined our family one couple blessed us by giving us Canadian Tire gift cards specifically to buy the girls each a new bike and helmet. ¬†Not only did it mean the world to us it was special for the girls to realize so many people they’d never even met cared for them and wanted to bless them.
  • Accompaniment travelling to appointments. ¬†In those first months we had to travel over 3 hours just to see the girls’paediatrician. ¬†It was a huge blessing to have a friend come with me so that Kirby wouldn’t need to take off work. ¬†6 hours on the road, 2 very active girls and a stuffy doctor’s office were a less than appealing prospect until my friend added in her company, some fun toys and snacks.
  • Taking an interest in the children’s lives. ¬†Like any other parent, we want our children to have a broader world than just us. ¬†It’s a huge blessing to know someone else is investing in our children’s lives alongside us. ¬†It’s also really important for the child to build as many healthy relationships as possible.
  • Ask how it’s going. ¬†Acknowledge the extra layer in their family dynamics and give space for them to talk about that. ¬†You might be surprised at what their normal looks like.
  • Point out the progress or positive things you notice in the child’s life. ¬†It is so reassuring and comforting as the parent to hear something good about your child. ¬†It can help affirm progress, encourage during a difficult season or just remind you that you are not alone in this when others notice your child growing and maturing.
  • If none of these ideas fit…just ask! ¬†Ask how you can help, and observe their family to see if you can spot a need. ¬†They may feel vulnerable at first accepting your help but if you prove to be a safe and nonjudgmental support they will gladly welcome your assistance!

    4. EDUCATE YOURSELF.

    I cannot stress this one enough! ¬†So many adoptive parents and children who have been adopted have been hurt by the ignorant words of someone around them. ¬†Words cut deep, and for many adoptive families every conversation about adoption is full of landmines. ¬†As an adoptive parent, I know that sometimes we read into things too deeply, and we apologize for that. ¬†We certainly want to understand when comments are made out of ignorance…however…you must understand that the stakes are often a lot higher than you think! ¬†An off hand comment overheard by a child can plant deep seeds of fear, shame or inadequacy. ¬†So be aware! ¬†Listen to the adoptive families around you and follow their lead in how they discuss their child’s history and challenges related to adoption. ¬†Don’t ask for more information than they are willing to give, as it may be sensitive, but at the same time take an interest in the child’s life. ¬†If there are diagnoses or behavioral challenges, don’t jump to conclusions! ¬†There is very likely a huge part of the story you are missing. ¬†They need your encouragement, understanding and support…not your criticism.

    5. VOLUNTEER

    Similar to providing respite care, public child protection agencies are always in need of volunteers.  With thousands of children in care and not nearly enough foster homes to accommodate them all well, agencies are often scrambling to meet the needs of the children.  As a volunteer you will need to complete a short screening process and be approved.  There are many opportunities to serve.

  • Driving to appointments, visits with birth family, school, etc.
  • Holding babies in the NICU who have been apprehended but not yet placed in a foster home. ¬†After spending 2 days and 2 nights in the NICU with one tiny baby I know first hand how big a need this is! ¬†Many of these babies are withdrawing from drugs they were exposed to in utero and in severe pain. ¬†They desperately need the one to one care a nurse does not have time for. ¬†They need eyes that will see the dirty onesies, hands to cream the raging diaper rashes, arms to hold them firm and walk the halls for hours as they cry and cry. ¬†They need someone to go out and buy them sleepers. ¬†They need someone to hold them and feed them and make sure they are getting enough nourishment. ¬†Our particular little baby spent most of his hours at the nurse’s station as he had no one to care for him before we showed up. ¬†No infant should be that alone in the world.
  • Completing paperwork for childcare workers
  • Organizing events

 

In the foster and adoptive community we often hear, “It takes a village to raise a child.” ¬†This is very true. ¬†While it may be possible to do it on your own, it is so much easier and so much better with support from your friends, family and community. ¬†Ask God to show you how you can be a blessing to foster and adoptive families. ¬†You will be richly rewarded for any time, money or resources you pour into this ministry!

10 Reasons You Should Adopt

November is Adoption Awareness Month.

In the Freeman home…

This means that we are spending time praying specifically for individual children we are aware of who are waiting for families.  We are praying that God would bring them their forever family and for specific needs in their lives.

Here on my blog…

I am hoping I can address some common questions related to adoption, dispel some myths and provide education, encouragement and inspiration.

Here in Ontario…

It means that public agencies will be focusing more on permanency and presenting available children’s profiles at numerous adoption events across the province. ¬†Hundreds of waiting adoptive families will attend these events and view profiles of the children waiting for a forever family. ¬†Many families and children will be matched and begin their adoption journey!

Today, I want to give you ten reasons why your family should consider adoption.

  1. YOU CARE.  The fact that you are reading this post says that you care about these children.
  2. THERE ARE 153 MILLION ORPHANS AND VULNERABLE CHILDREN AROUND THE WORLD. ¬†Every willing heart is needed! ¬†We need more than just a few people who are ‘called’ to this mission. ¬†As the church of Jesus Christ we have a huge opportunity to change the landscape of our culture¬†today and to raise up a new generation of warriors.
  3. ADOPTION SAVES LIVES AND CELEBRATES THE VALUE OF LIFE.  There are millions of orphans around the world caught in extreme poverty.  The need is so great!  Children are dying, many of diseases and circumstances that are well within our ability as a blessed people to change!  We have access to medical care, food and fresh water that some children will never see in their current conditions.  Closer to home, there are millions of abortions taking place in our country every year.  Those who choose to give life to their child are brave!  Adoption gives them hope.
  4. ADOPTION GIVES YOU AN OPPORTUNITY TO BREAK A NEGATIVE FAMILY CYCLE AND CHANGE THE WORLD 1 CHILD AT A TIME! ¬†These children are paying the price of choices the adults in their life made. ¬†Through no fault of their own they’ve been thrust into the middle of what is many times a generational cycle of abuse, hurt, neglect, poverty and addiction. ¬†By choosing adoption you choose to break that cycle for a child and give them an opportunity to see what a healthy family looks like.
  5. ADOPTION IS AFFORDABLE.  In Canada you can adopt for free through the foster care system and even apply for grants to cover the expenses of treatment, medical needs, etc.
  6. CHILDREN WITHOUT FAMILIES FACE CHALLENGES THEY WOULDN’T IN A STABLE FAMILY. ¬†Children without stable family lives find it difficult to thrive in school or in life in general. ¬†They often feel very alone and have no one to advocate for the help they need.
  7. THESE CHILDREN ARE OUR FUTURE.  In twenty years these will be the grown ups of our society.  Without a family to nurture and guide them, many will end up without a home, education or support system.  Many will also end up in our penitentiaries and detention centres.  Their difficulties and struggles do not get smaller.
  8. LOVE IS A CHOICE. ¬†You may not fall in love with an adoptive child upon first sight…but love is a choice. ¬†Love is not about fuzzy warm feelings or displays of affection. ¬†Love is the reality that you have committed to being there for someone, for better or for worse, for the rest of their life. ¬†And once you put these choices into action…you will absolutely feel love for your adopted child!
  9. HUNDREDS OF CHILDREN WILL AGE OUT OF THE FOSTER SYSTEM THIS YEAR WITHOUT A FOREVER FAMILY!  The government is working hard to support these kids with services and assistance through age 21, but government support is not a family.   These kids need families to support them through life and to celebrate their accomplishments.  They need a place to spend Christmas and someone to call when life throws them curveballs.  They need role models and financial advisors and the assurance that someone has their back.
  10. EVERY CHILD DESERVES THE CHANCE TO HAVE A FAMILY TO CALL THEIR OWN—FOREVER! ¬†

A New Home

“I don’t want to live in this house!”

Her brown eyes filled with tears and sobs shook her body as she let the words she’d been holding in all day tumble out into the space between us.

I smiled and tugged her toward me with a sigh.

I knew just how she felt because I was just like her.

No matter how wonderful, change is change.

And it’s hard.

We had been in our new home for almost a week now and it was just starting to sink in that she was never going back to the little nest we were all familiar with.

The chipped paint, the crude treehouse, the scribbles on the wall…all blemishes yet somehow so familiar and comforting at the same time.

So…in that first wonderful, yet awkward and challenging first weeks of living in our new home, here are some things I’ve discovered can help you settle in.

  1. Go places. ¬†Walking back through your front door and knowing you’re “home” helps it feel real.
  2. Bake cookies. ¬†It’ll fill your house with delicious smells and help ease the strangeness of it all.
  3. Burn candles.
  4. Relax and indulge in a bubble bath…even though there are still boxes to unpack.
  5. Have friends over.
  6. Do laundry.  Nothing like piles of laundry sitting all over the house to make it feel like home!
  7. Take time to dream and organize while you unpack.
  8. Get things on the walls.
  9. Relax on the couch.
  10. Read a book.
  11. Put on some music.
  12. Let it get a bit dirty.

So there you have it ūüôā

In case you’re wondering we all quickly got past the new and awkward feelings and are enjoying our new home SO much!

The whole experience did remind me, however, of the first weeks our girls were home to us.

The first weeks with our newborn son.

The first weeks when a new child has come to stay in our home.

It reminded me to be compassionate of the tears and tantrums and grief that generally accompany those first months with a new foster or adoptive placement.

They’ve left everything familiar…

and even if what they left was not very nice and maybe not even safe…

it was still home.

It was that  broken light fixture hanging on by a thread.

The sound of the air conditioner starting up.

The dim blue night light in the hall.

The familiar sweet scent of marijuana covering the clothes and blankets pressed close.

The way she always sang in the shower or the clattering of his hands doing dishes in the evening.

The smudged, stained marks on the bath tub and the thickest red towel that was your favourite.

The stuffy you always slept with that somehow got left behind.

Your favourite pants.

The wallpaper coming off around the edge of your bed where you would pick at it as you were going to sleep.

The sound of the TV blaring in the next room when you woke up in the middle of the night.

To some it would look, feel and smell strange and frightening.

But if it’s all you’ve ever known…it feels like home.

It feels like expectations and predictable.

It feels like comfortable.

Think about what it feels like to stay or sleep in a hotel for the night.

No matter how luxurious it may be…there’s usually still a little part of you that wishes for home when you sink onto that mattress.

The bed doesn’t feel right.

The blankets are a different texture.

The bathroom light is too bright and the street lights cast flickering shadows on the wall.

The sound of the furnace is heavy and stifling…you can’t hear the clock ticking like at home.

Now imagine if you hadn’t chosen to be there at all…

or in fact if you didn’t even know WHERE you were!

Terrifying is hardly adequate to describe it.

We expect so much from these little people sometimes.

AF

The Gift

So after 11 months of our house sitting forlorn and unnoticed on the real estate market, during which time we lost three potential houses that were “ours upon the sale of our home”…

OUR HOUSE SOLD!

Just like that.

Boom.

All of a sudden God smiled down on us and said,

“You weren’t sure I would come through for you, were you? ¬†But I had much,¬†much¬†better vision than you did and…it’s time!”

So in a matter of a couple weeks we went from thinking we would be pulling out of the game and staying here for quite some time to…

our house selling out from under our startled feet and a new one dropping down within our price range!

In eleven days we will be moving our family of “five-dreaming-of-more” into a beautiful, spacious, efficient house.

It is more than we had dared dream of.

It is such an incredible gift.

Adding to the beauty is the fact that the people we are buying from are brothers and sisters in Christ and the parents of a beautiful baby girl born in their hearts.  They have been praying for a family to buy their home who will continue to use it as a ministry.

It sent shivers down my spine and tears rolling down my cheeks when she told me.

We never could have orchestrated this story.

We are overwhelmed with gratitude and humbled by the goodness of God to us right now.

¬†It’s more than just a house to us.

With dreams of expanding our family and continuing to use our home to minister to children through foster care and adoption and kingdom building, it feels like an affirmation as well.

All I can hear in my heart right now are the words,

“I see you.

I know you better than you’ll ever know yourself.

I will always provide you with enough to fulfill the purposes I have for you.

Surge forward!  

Be strong and courageous.

I am with you.”

I never want to forget this feeling of gratitude or the clarity that this is

A GIFT

given for a little while

FOR A PURPOSE

that only He can fully know.

Thank you Jesus!

 

 

 

 

Adoption vs. Birth

I went into adoption absolutely certain that I could and would love children born to another woman.

I was right.

I knew long before I met my girls that my love could run as deep, steady and strong for a child I chose through adoption as a child I gave birth to.

But there was also a lot I didn’t understand¬†until I gave birth to my son.

Before we adopted I naively thought that love for my daughters would come instantly and feel deeply maternal.

I was wrong.

While I did fall instantly in love with my daughters, it was a very different kind of love than the love I felt when I gave birth to my son a  year and a half later.

It took day in, day out, month after month after long month of choosing to love my daughters before those feelings of natural, instinctive, maternal love came to me.

In theory I loved them fully and intimately, but realistically

we were strangers

and we needed to get to know each other.

I hadn’t spent nine months feeling the stirrings under my heart. ¬†I hadn’t held them for those first breaths and watched each tiny movement. ¬†I hadn’t witnessed the steady growth and development and learned what experiences formed in them their character and who they had become.

I have missed so much and I grieve that deeply.

When my son was born his innocence and purity took my breath away. ¬†He was…and still is…so unscarred by this world.

My daughters never had that experience.  Even prenatally they struggled against circumstances beyond their control.

They fought for survival even before their first breaths.

I would give anything to give them the innocence my son got to experience, but I can’t and that is hard.

It is hard to look into my daughter’s eyes and see longing there as she says, “Mommy, I wish I grew in¬†your¬†tummy.”

Or to hold her shuddering little body as she cries tears of grief and loss for her birth mother…tears that she can’t even understand they are so complex and raw.

When my daughters came to me at 7 and 5 years old, they had personalities, character traits and a whole life that I knew very little about.

Sometimes that still gets in the way.

Sometimes I see fear, and I don’t know why it’s there.

Sometimes I see pain, and I don’t know what it’s about.

Sometimes there are vivid memories of people and places that I don’t know and I have no way of knowing if these memories are accurate and true or distorted by a child’s memory.

They’re looking to me for answers and I don’t know what to say.

Sometimes I see anger and resentment and I have no words to unravel the pain behind it all.

Sometimes I am the one battling the deep feelings of loss, of insecurity, of resentment and of exhaustion.

It is so tiring to constantly battle the layers upon layers of grief, fear, loss and trauma written on the hearts of children who have seen and heard and felt the unimaginable.

There is always always an unknown factor to consider.

Just because I chose this doesn’t mean it’s easy.

It’s not always fun.

Hurt makes people hurt.

Fear makes people push away.

Betrayal makes hearts break and the healing is slow and painful.

Sometimes I just want a normal family.

Yes, it’s true and I said that out loud.

Sometimes the guilt of that tears me apart.

But so many other times I see love, and I feel honoured to be their mother.

I see happiness and it overwhelms me with joy.

I see healing and it makes me fall to my knees in worship to the One who can bring redemption out of so much pain.

So many people see all the hurt and pain that often goes along with adoption and they decide they could never do it.

Too many risks.

And it’s true…after having experienced both adoption and natural birth, I will atest to the fact that giving birth is probably easier.

It’s the natural way to receive a child, the way our Creator first designed for families to be born.

It’s beautiful.

But what about when the original design falls apart?

What about when pain and destruction and sin enter in?

Ripping, tearing, breaking;

leaving wounds upon both the innocent and the guilty?

Then what?

Is there any hope of redemption?

Yes!

A thousand times yes!

I cannot begin to pour enough passion into these words.

To let you see,

to let you feel

the incredible grace

that our Father pours upon those who choose to engage the pain.

How he takes the ashes and creates beauty from them.

How he takes the broken and uses the scars to proclaim His glory.

How he bathes us in grace upon grace.

How he heals and transforms and gifts.

How we see the gospel through this thing we call adoption.

It is probably true that nothing quite prepares you to face the pain of this.

But it is absolutely true that nothing will prepare you for the rewards you will experience and the victories you will be a part of.

Nothing will prepare you for the small things that will bring you joy,

the grace you will receive

and maybe most of all the love that will grow strong in your heart for these children you’ve chosen as yours.

Yes, yours.

It will become their identity.

Your children.

It’s my favourite thing to say.

My daughters.

One of my favourite narratives in scripture is the account told in Hosea of God lavishly loving upon the people who had turned their backs on him.

Hosea 2:23 says,

“I will sow her for Myself in the land. I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, And I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they will say, ‘You are my God!'”

When I read these words, there is something that resounds within my heart.

I will say to those who were once not my own

“You are mine!”

I will choose, despite all odds, to

lavishly love

upon these people who were once strangers to me.

And in it all, the unthinkable will occur…

we will become one.

A family.

A home.

A testimony of grace and redemption.

So even though adoption can be hard and messy and complicated

it is so worth it and in it’s own way

it is so beautiful.

I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

AF