Why You Should Still Do it Even Though It’s Hard…

As a foster and adoptive family, we have heard so many different comments from people regarding our choice to reach out to these vulnerable little ones.

Some of them have been very encouraging and inspiring, and we are thankful to have a great support network of people who are behind us in this venture.

But along with that, I think we have heard every reason in the book why someone might NOT want to adopt or foster.  People seem to think they need to explain to me every reason why they can’t or won’t get involved.  I often stand there quietly, silently struggling for words as they unload on me.  Most of the comments seem to be guilt or fear driven.

“I would get too attached.”

This is the most common statement I hear in regards to foster care, specifically.  I know where this comes from, because I used to say it too.  While I always had myself convinced I could never foster because I would ‘love the child too much to give them back’ I now understand the arrogance and selfishness of that statement.

“Too loving to love” is the idea most people want to convey in this statement.  This is completely unbiblical.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails.         (1 Cor. 13)

True love is not based on what may or may not happen.  True love is a choice: to commit, to sacrifice, to put someone else’s needs ahead of my own.  True love rejoices in good things…and healing broken families is certainly a part of that!

Yes, I know…things can go horribly wrong.  You will be working with a broken system and broken families…but that is no excuse!  As a believer in Christ you must believe that God can bring beauty from ashes and is fully in control over all of life’s circumstances.  We will not always understand, but we are commanded to trust and obey.

Many families have walked heartbreaking journeys beside children in their care, and many times things did not turn out as they hoped or planned, but as followers of Christ we need to believe that His purposes will not be thwarted.  We are working for the Potter who can redeem even the most shattered of vessels.

“I have my ‘own’ children to love and care for.”

While I understand our commitment to guide, protect and nurture the children God has placed in our care, I think our idea of what this looks like is often twisted.  There are many children who have been taken all over the world on the mission field, living in less than ideal conditions, being exposed to life threatening illnesses, residing near war zones and being exposed to all kinds of danger physically, emotionally and spiritually.  Is this a reason not to go?  Do the positives outweigh the negatives?

I will not pretend to think that every family can easily begin fostering or adopting additional children, but I want to challenge your perceptions and ideas on this.

What is it that you dream of for your children?  Do you dream of health, wealth and happiness…or do you dream of something more?

Do you dream of seeing your children evade the materialism and entitlement so prevalent in our culture today?  Do you dream of them becoming world changers?  Do you dream of them developing a deep compassion for the less fortunate, the marginalized, the oppressed?  Do you dream of them understanding that all we are given is to be used in service for Kingdom Building?

What is more important?  That their personal comforts and privileges are guarded and protected?  Or that they are given opportunities to build character qualities that will prepare them to be used in spreading the gospel?

Yes, you need to keep them safe.

Yes, you need to place them above your own ambitions.

Yes, you need to be prepared and have a plan.

But know this.

If you are called, you will also be equipped.  And it just might surprise you what fruits you see emerge in your children as you serve in this way together.

Oh, and one more thing.  Please don’t use that word…”own.”  It’s time to extend  your borders and start calling someone else your “own.”  Love is a choice.  Choose it.

I am not ‘cut out’ for that.  That takes a special kind of person.

I understand.

I understand what you mean when you say this.  But I can’t help but think it’s a pretty easy way to let yourself off the hook while millions of orphans around the world wait for a select few people to be ‘cut out’ for this job.

What is this job exactly?

This job is parenting.

This job is sharing generously your time and resources.

This job is being willing to love the least of these…with no expectations in return.

This job is caring.

What exactly about this job do you need to be ‘specially equipped’ for?

What about this job is so much harder than any career path or ministry you may pursue?

What about this job does not line up with exactly who Christ asks us to be, and the example He left us to follow?

It’s time to stop waiting to be ‘cut out’ for this job!

It’s time to pray and ask God to equip you for this task!

He can and he will.

Just ask!

“But I’ve heard that…”

Oh the stories!

Everyone has a horror story about adoption, foster care or the local child protection agency.

Are they true?

Some of them, yes.

But please…don’t make your decision based on somebody’s story.

Do the research.

Find out for yourself what you need to know from a reliable source.

Don’t believe everything you hear.

There are always two sides to a story, and the worst stories are only ever one sided.

I believe Satan is using this tactic powerfully to keep people from pursuing foster care or adoption.

I’ve been disappointed at the number of Believers that will gladly join the bandwagon of complaints, criticism and disgust.  This is not helpful.

We need to be wise.

We need to pray for discernment as we engage the world and it’s brokenness.

We need to be prepared to give an answer for what we believe and we need to be firmly rooted in Truth, so that bitter stories and angry rants will not sway us from what we know to be true.

All I ask is that you choose to believe and repeat only things that you know for certain are true and valid.

Horror stories passed on through friends and acquaintances do not fall into this category!

If the story does not honour all involved, including the birth family, adoptive family, children and professionals…please take a deep breath and keep silent.  Try to imagine what the opposite side of the story may be and realize that almost all situations in the foster and adoptive world carry grief, loss and trauma.  They are complicated, sad and easily misunderstood.

God never promised that His plan for our lives would be easy, comfortable or even make sense in our worldly vision.

In fact, He promised the opposite!

Our task here is to daily ‘take up our cross’ and follow him.

Our retirement will come in heaven.

As long as we are here, we are to be busy building his Kingdom, reflecting His character and taking the gospel to the broken.

AF

 

 

 

Broken System

I hear so many people complaining about our social services system.

And I get it.

I do it too!

Right now our local branch is in the middle of a labour disruption and it is holding up the paperwork for our homestudy to be updated so we can pursue another adoption.  I know God uses bureaucracy sometimes to keep things in His timeline, so I’m holding onto that hope but I also see a tainted system where personal agendas and budget cuts are preventing families and children from what is best for them right now.

There are so many things wrong.  Sometimes it feels like the whole system needs to be reorganized and revamped!  Most of the time we are playing catch up instead of preventing problems from arising.

However,

While I am very comfortable complaining alongside other foster and adoptive parents as well as social workers who are frustrated with the handcuffs of this system, I am not okay with people complaining about a system that they are doing nothing to improve.

The bottom line is that the system is in desperate need of more families who are committed to caring for kids, even when it costs them personally.

We need foster parents.

People who are willing to love hard, even when the goodbye is heart wrenching.

People who are willing to fight for families to be reunified if at all possible, putting in their own time and energy to build uncomfortable relationships when needed.

People who will open their doors to kids who push, pull and threaten their way through life because that is the only survival mode they are familiar with.

People who will show Jesus to both these kids and their biological families at some of their most broken and vulnerable moments.

People who will advocate strongly for better lives for these children while realizing that their perspective on the situation may be skewed.

We need people who will follow through and become a child’s permanent family if need be, but are committed first and foremost to reunifying a biological family.

We need adoptive homes.

People who are committed to sticking with a child for EVER.  No matter what.  No ifs, ands, buts.  Just forever period.

People who are willing to go through the paperwork, the scrutiny, the headaches and the waiting time because they know that a child is worth all that times ten!

People who will restructure their lives to meet the needs of a child.

People to rise up and be parents to a lost and broken generation and usher them into the Household of Grace.

People who will believe in a God who redeems even the most broken…and realize that may be you, not the child you adopt.

People who will commit to laughter and joy in the journey, even when it gets hard.

People who will not shy away from the hard in a child’s story, but instead enter into that pain with them.

People who will be willing to enter into relationships today or someday down the road with birth family members.

We need churches, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, teachers and neighbours that are willing to invest in a child’s life.

People that will not jump to hasty conclusions but instead offer grace and support.

People that will lend physical, financial, spiritual and emotional support when serving these kids leaves holes in hearts, homes and wallets.

People who will go the extra mile to make a child feel loved and accepted no matter where they are in life.

People who will pray for children, families and social workers in the system.

The best way to do something about it is to get involved and do your part to change the way things work!  Chances are as you get involved you will see the answers are not as easy as they may have seemed from the outside.

There is no way to evade all the pitfalls when you are working with a broken family in a broken society.

I can’t wait to see the Church of Jesus Christ rise up and take back the work we were meant to do from the beginning.

Love.

Protect.

Heal.

Restore.

AF

 

 

 

Claiming Your Adopted Child

For weeks, months or possibly even years you’ve been praying, decorating bedrooms, buying clothes and stuffies, asking questions, researching and observing.

Then suddenly, the time is here.

One of the toughest transitions in your adoption process may be when your child finally comes home.

Now it’s time to parent, and suddenly you realize that the child before you is a stranger.

On top of that, they may be dealing with the trauma of yet another move and disruption in their attachment.

How do you claim this child as YOURS even when you don’t feel that reality?

What if you don’t feel love toward this new person that is now in your home?

First of all, don’t panic!  It is perfectly normal to feel awkward, uncomfortable and even a bit resentful toward a new child in your home.  Your normal has been upset, and it’s going to take time to feel the comfortable familiarity we usually associate with “family” and “home”.  The good news is you have lots of time!  It will come, so just relax and admit that it may be harder than you envisioned.  If you have other children in the home, make sure you acknowledge this to them as well and give them space and assurance that the emotions they are feeling are perfectly normal and acceptable.

It’s ok for things to not feel ok for a while.

In these early days, try to find ways to imitate the natural bonding that would typically occur between a mother and newborn.  If the children are young, make sure you take full advantage of physical closeness (as long as they are comfortable.)  Help them bathe, rub lotion on their body, snuggle while reading a story or wrestle with them on the floor.  For older children you can brush their hair, give a back rub at bedtime, hold hands, do foot massages, have a spa day involving foot baths and face creams.

Another essential way infants bond with their caregiver is through food.  The act of meeting basic needs in a child’s life is extremely powerful to the brain.  One of the best ways you can connect with a new child in your home is to make sure you take charge of their food.  By this I mean that you offer them food regularly, take time to prepare it for them and constantly ask if they need anything to eat or drink.  Peel an apple or fix breakfast for a teenager who could do it themselves.  Pack their lunch, including their favourite foods and some treats.  Get them a glass of water instead of showing them where they can get it themselves.  Feed toddlers and preschoolers from sippy cups or bottles so you can hold it for them while they drink.

 Your approach in this situation is to do the opposite of what typical parents do.  Instead of encouraging independence you want to encourage their dependence on you.  It is in this way that trust is built and emotional connectivity happens.

Another way to connect with your new child and claim them as ‘yours’ is to make sure to give yourself space to be you.  It is amazing how the little things help it to feel more real for you!  Let yourself be a new parent.  Brag, spoil, buy and take lots of photos.  Your family has just gained a new member and you have every right to all the emotions a mother has in the first weeks after giving birth.

Other things you can do:

  • Start new routines…or revamp old ones they are familiar with
  • Listen closely to the ways they are trying to communicate with you
  • Spend TIME together – there is no substitute for this!  It is the ONLY way to get to know your newest son or daughter and for them to get to know you.
  • Hang their photos on the wall, their artwork on the fridge and leave their sticky fingerprints on the window.  They are all physical evidences of the reality that your family has expanded.
  • Host an adoption celebration when you think you and your child are ready.  Make it official and memorable.
  • Pray for your child and for the Holy Spirit to guide you as you try to reach his or her heart.  Much wisdom and grace is needed…especially when your attempts are spurned.

I hope that by reading this post the overwhelming message you are hearing is that

YOU HAVE A CHOICE!

We all love the idea of love at first sight and happily ever after…but if we’re honest we also know that is usually not reality.

Love is not a feeling or emotion that is left to fate to decide.

Love is a choice.

Adoption is a choice.

When you choose adoption, you are choosing love.

Unconditional love.

That sounds big…and it is…but really it is just a life full of little choices.

Day after day,

moment after moment,

I will choose love.

Some days it will feel hard and the sacrifice will be great.  There will be tears, and yes, even regret.

But other days will be so full of genuine, authentic, life giving joy that you will catch your breath and think, “How did I ever live without you?”

And suddenly, you will know it.

I love this child.

He is mine.

AF

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!  

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

Finding the Right Child for You

You’ve completed your homestudy.

You’ve done all the courses.

You’ve made room in your home, your budget and your heart for a child.

Now, all that’s left to do is to find that child.

In Canada alone there are over 30 000 children available right now for adoption, and millions of orphans all over the world.  So how exactly will you figure out which one is meant to be yours?

It might be a photolisting page online, a specific profile in your hands from your social worker, a referral package in the mail, or dozens of profiles set up at an adoption exchange event.

How do I know which child is mine?

The doubts and questions invade your mind at this point and none of the answers are easy.

What if this causes our family to fall apart?

What if my children can’t cope with the attention this child needs?

What if we can’t afford the services we may need?

What if I can’t handle that?

What if I just can’t love this child?

What if I regret this?

It’s very important to honestly evaluate the skills and emotions you and your family possess.  Just because these children need a home and a family doesn’t necessarily mean you are the best home or family for them.

But in this post I’d like to challenge you to think a little deeper.

I want you to glance back up at that list and notice the common denominator in each of those questions.  If you look closely, you’ll see that they all express the feelings or worries of me, our, I and we.  In a nutshell…it’s a rather selfish approach.

Unfortunately, many of us enter adoption with this attitude.  We are seeking some sort of fulfillment for ourselves.  Emotionally, physically, and even spiritually.  We are looking for a child to fill a need we see in our own hearts or lives.

Maybe you’ve struggled with years of infertility and all you want is a child to love and be loved by.  You want someone to call your own.

Maybe you’ve been moved by the passion of others and you’re drawn to the drama of adoption. You want to be a Savior to a child and you envision a happily ever after life where gratitude and joy envelopes every moment of every day.

Maybe you’ve experienced the pain and joys of foster care or adoption personally and you want to heal that wounded place inside of you by reaching out to a hurting child.

Inevitably, most of us will come to foster care and adoption with some kind of agenda that is based on ourselves.

This needs to change before we can even begin to look at a child’s profile objectively and compassionately.  We need to look honestly at our motivations, grieve the losses we may have experienced and pray diligently for God to bring healing to the broken parts of our lives.  Once we can lay aside our own needs, we will be much better prepared to start considering the needs of a child who may enter our family.

There are a few myths I’d like to turn upside down in regards to choosing a child to pursue.

MYTH #1 

I NEED TO FIND THE CHILD THAT’S RIGHT FOR ME.

While I believe God can and will lead you to the child that is destined to become a part of your family, it’s important to get rid of the me in this question.  Instead of focusing on what we believe we can handle or what we would prefer…flip this question around.

What kind of family does this child…or any child,  need?

If that doesn’t match your skill set or preference then…

Can we become the right family for this child?

What skills or resources do I lack in order to be the family this child needs?  What can I do to develop or access those skills and resources?

It completely changes the focus…from me to the child.  No longer am I on a hunt for the child I desire, but instead I am on a journey of change to become the kind of parent or family that a child needs.  This places value on the children we are seeing and opens our hearts to God in a way that places us as clay to mold in his hands.  With this kind of attitude, God can speak clearly to your heart about the individual children you may be considering.

MYTH #2

I CAN’T CHANGE WHO I AM, WHAT I FEAR OR WHAT I HAVE TO OFFER.

“I have never been drawn to that kind of special need.”

“I don’t enjoy that kind of thing.”

“I don’t feel like I could handle that!”

“We don’t have the right kind of home/family/community/church, etc to accommodate that.”

“I don’t know anything about that.”

I think I have probably said all of these things at some point in our adoption and foster care journey.  It’s not hard for us to see what our own needs, desires, comfort levels, etc are.  In fact, it comes quite naturally to consider my own needs above anyone else.  But wait a minute.

Is that what the Bible teaches?

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  Philippians 2:3-4

On the contrary, the Bible teaches radical love.  A love that puts others before ourselves and our ambitions.

The Bible also teaches radical transformation and power when we are in Christ.  Through Him, all things are possible!  This means I need to spend time in meditation and prayer, analyzing the things that are truly holding me back.  It means I need to get my heart in the place where I can truly say, “God what do you want me to do here?”  I want to be that kind of person, and I want to teach my children how to live that kind of life.  A life that is spent serving others.  A life that is constantly pouring out of resources only He can fill.  But as long as I stay only within the lines of what I think I can handle, what I feel is best, what I am comfortable with…that will not happen.  Think about this when you are looking at a child’s profile.

There is also a very practical element that comes in here.  When I decide that others’ needs truly come before my own, I may be amazed what I can do to change my life’s circumstances, my personal skill set, etc.  It is amazing what can be changed when I start to believe that I truly want it!  Maybe it’s time to honestly take a look at what you could do to benefit a child who is waiting for a family.  How could you change your life to best meet their needs instead of worrying how they will fit into your already busy, full life?  What changes do you need to make to your time, your budget, your home and your family?

Do you need to cut out some extracurricular activities or entertainment that is taking up time and money?

Do you need to move to a new neighbourhood or buy a larger home?

Do you need to clean out your spare bedroom or junk closet to create space in your home?

Do you need to volunteer somewhere or take some courses to gain a skill set you are missing?

Do you need to do some research on a specific special need?

Do you need to pray for a heart of compassion for a certain group of people, social issue or special need?

MYTH #3

I CAN’T CHOOSE WHO I WILL LOVE.

So in all this choosing…where is the romance?

Where is the moment where I fall in love with my child or my heart skips a beat as I stare at the profile of a beautiful child?

What about all the stories of those people who just ‘knew’ from the moment they laid eyes on their child that this was the ‘one’ for them?

“I want that!”

Yes.

I know.

Me too.

But the reality is…that doesn’t always happen.

Again, we live in a world and culture where we are so bombarded with selfish messages we don’t even realize how much they’ve permeated our worldview.

You will fall in love with your child…but it probably won’t be right away and the ‘falling in love’ is a mere feeling.

Real love, constant love, forever love…that is made up of much more than emotion.  That is made up of choices.  Daily choices.

You can choose who you will love.

You can choose to love.

The feelings will catch up when you put what you know to be true and right into action.

Just like a marriage, adoption will have it’s romance, it’s drama, it’s cloud 9.  But it will also have it’s struggles, pain and irritations.

Love is a choice.

MYTH #4

IF IT’S RIGHT I WILL HAVE PEACE ABOUT IT.

“I just don’t feel peace about it.”

While I completely understand where this comes from…I think at times we as Christians sling this word ‘peace’ around without any idea what we are really saying.  True peace does not depend on our circumstances and it is not something we can acquire by following a list of steps.  Peace is a gift from God that has given to us when we choose to place ourselves, including all our worries, doubts and fears, into His sovereign hand.  

Peace comes after true heart surrender and steps of faith.

What’s important to distinguish here is that what is RIGHT will not always result in a feeling of peace, contentment, or comfort.  In fact…often the right thing is not easy at all and may put you in a place of struggle emotionally and spiritually.  The Bible promises us that if we follow the example of Jesus our lives will not be easy, comfortable or ‘peaceful’ in the sense that we often think of it.  Doing what is right often requires much sacrifice!  

Just because something is hard does not mean it is not right.    

If we are to use this word ‘peace’ to govern our decision making we must first recognize the true meaning and origin of this peace.

Instead of using our emotions and a sense of ‘rightness’ as our guide, we must go to the scriptures.  I believe as Christians we spend a lot of time praying and asking for God’s guidance in areas that He has already given us more than adequate insight into through the Word.

Go back to the Bible.

What does it teach about orphans, the vulnerable and the marginalized?

What part are we as believers supposed to play, and at what cost?

If you are currently in the middle of wading through the list of special needs, trying to check yes or no or maybe and wondering what your future holds, know that I have been there and understand how hard it is!  You are the only one who can know what God is asking of you, which makes this a very personal journey.  I hope this blog has been encouraging to you, most of all.

My intention is not to give anyone the impression that this decision should be made rashly or lightly.  But I hope I’ve also challenged those of you who may have wrongly put yourself in the middle of this decision.

I say this as the mother of two girls who spent spent over two years waiting for an adoptive home and were labelled as ‘hard to place’ children.  Many families looked at their adoption profiles and eventually backed out, feeling they were ‘too much’ or ‘too old’ or ‘too scary.’

I say this as an adoption advocate who has seen the faces of hundreds of children waiting for a family to see beyond the pain, brokenness and despair they carry with them each day.

I say this as a discouraged Jesus follower who has had too many conversations with fellow Believers that are all about the adults, all about what makes sense, all about what makes us feel normal or comfortable or happy.

When people ask about our adoption process, it’s hard to know what to say.  Do I talk about how it took a year to complete our homestudy and then almost another full year before placement?  Do I talk about all the paperwork, the classes, the search for the child who would be ours?

See…usually what they want to hear is about me…

but what I really want to say

is that it started long before I walked into the CAS office.

Our adoption story is not just about me and my husband’s journey.

It’s really about my girls.

It’s about the weeks my youngest daughter spent in the hospital as an infant, alone and struggling to survive.  It’s about the constant movement she experienced from home, to home, to home, to home.  It’s about the seven long years my older daughter spent in foster care…not knowing what her future would hold or if she’d ever see her birth family again.  It’s about the tearing apart of families that loved each other.  It’s about the struggle to trust, to cope, to thrive.

 It’s about God bringing four people together and making them a family.

 Not built on biology, but on love.

AF

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daddy’s Day

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Just when I thought I couldn’t love you any more than I already did…

You became a father.

Watching you love our children makes me

so proud

and so grateful.

I know it’s not a glamorous job, this fatherhood thing…

and I know you get tired.

Tired of little hands reaching up to you,

tired of little bodies…and bigger bodies

crawling all over you

begging to be tossed and turned;

snuggled and tickled and

loved.

Tired of my weary arms handing over babies

and diapers

and squirming toddlers

and dishes.

Tired of fixing the broken doors

and handles

and toys.

Tired of reading stories

and tucking in little girls

and rocking babies in the middle of the night.

Tired of holding us all together after a bad day,

of sorting through the squabbles

and tears

and dirty laundry.

You work so hard all day,

then come home to us and still..

still you love us

with your strong, weary arms.

You love us with your kisses and your smiles

and the words you say.

I say it over and over again:

how grateful I am for you,

how I couldn’t do this without you,

how I need you.

We need you.

You hold us all together with your strength,

your confidence,

your faithfulness.

You will never know what it means to us that you come home every night.

That the first thing you do is reach out to hold us.

You will never understand the great mountain you are in our eyes.

How we lean on your greatness;

so steady and sure.

You will never see the light and joy

that I see in our children’s eyes when they look at you.

Daddy.

How the belly laughs and joyous shrieks

and outstretched arms are

special for you.

You’ve captured their hearts.

You will never know how much we all adore you

and  how safe you make us feel.

 You are a really great Dad.

Thank you.