Many of you are familiar with David Platt. He's a young pastor and author of the book "Radical". He is currently in China...and in Maoming City (where our little Zihao is) as they just adopted a little girl from the same orphanage that Zihao was in until he went to the foster home. Reading the blog I also saw that they too adopted from the Christian agency, Lifeline, that we are with.
In a very busy life...the little things can become really big things.
Like when Zunduka taps his chin for what seems like a very very long time ... as he thinks of something to say and finally comes out with the words "mama...I've been thinking...you are a wonderful cook-er. I sure do like your food". (That's like Zion telling you to close your eyes and put your arms out as he gives you the warmest hug...that was a Duka-hug..)
Or when Chazano comes up behind me and says "turn around Mama" and I do so to see the brightest most vibrant smile ever...and a "I just wanted to say I love you...because I do".
Or when Azahria Peace says "what's my name Mama" and I say "well...Princess?" "Nooooo Mama." "ohhh...Silly?" laughing harder... "noooo Mama".. "Hmmm I don't know I give up" "Mama...I'm Azahria Peaaaa" :)
Or when Azlan says "Mama I know that you love me...because ... you tell me lots and give me lots of hugs...and I know you love me"
Or when Zion would rather empty the dishwasher than play any game you can think of...b/c well..."I just want to be with you Mama".
Or when Tirzah randomly blurts out "I'm soooooo glad our third baby didn't die in your belly...b/c ... well...I love Izrael"
Or when Zunduka says in the middle of school today "Mama...thank you so much for school. I think you are the best teacher...that I ever had" in the most serious expression ever...and I know I've just received another Duka-hug.
Or when Izrael schooches into my shoulder so deep when I pick her up from a nap ...as if she can't get close enough ...
We set up our Christmas tree on the weekend. Finally ... I won't kill a tree long before Christmas! We found a gorgeous tree on Craigslist that is 9' tall and really full. It's at Costco for $349 and we paid $90! Seeing as we pay $50 every year for a real one that never even makes it to the 25th...this is good.
Seeing the ornament on the tree for Taizi and Zihao...makes my heart thump a little harder.
In the most random way I found a song this past weekend. I love it. I listen solely to Christian music...just what I do. So this is a new thing for me to love a song...that's not.
It's fun and whimsical and makes me smile.
Love is Endless by Mozella
one, for starry nights andtwo, for candle lights andthree, for long walks in the sunfour, for all the laughterfive, for ever aftersix, your smile is just the best.Love is endless Love, love love love, love love love, love love loveLove is endlessLove, love love love, love love love, love love loveLove is endless seven, you're my goodluck charmeight, for your open armsnine, for best sunday in the rain. ten, couldn't get much bettereleven, two once put together[ From: http://www.metrolyrics.com/love-is-endless-lyrics-mozella.html ]twelve, all the joy and happiness.Love is endless [chorus] count out loud,all of the ways that life is good,on different days,how things can changelove always stays the same. count out loud, it never ends the list goes on hit on againforgive forget, and let your heart begin, love is endless [chorus] thirteen, I got brand new eyesfourteen, everything's a surprisefifteen, not a day that I regret,Love is endless.
Before dinner we went around the table and each told a few things we were really thankful for.
Azlan: "I'm thankful for you, Mama"
Azlan: "Because you love me."
Mama: "how do you know?"
Azlan: "because you said it." ;)
Chazano: "I'm thankful for....(looking around the table for ideas...) FOOD! Yes FOOD!!! (in his silliest voice ever)." All the kids double in laughter (he loves that;). After we all laugh with him at we ask him to think about something he's really thankful for and if it is food...to say it like he means it. It ended up still being food which is awesome and we're glad he is well-fed ;)
Zunduka: "I'm thankful for kids that have no family and I pray God gives them a forever mommy and daddy to love them real soon". So we talked about this for a while then he added "I'm thankful for my family. For brothers and sisters to play with and for a mama and daddy that love me" ;)
Zion: "I'm thankful for God. I'm thankful for all the things He gives us everyday".
Tirzah: "I'm thankful for the new swingset in our back yard b/c I love swings and my legs are growing big and strong" ;)
Azahria Peace: "I'm thankful for you...b/c you like me Mama" :)
Dean had read on Mars Hill Church site today about how 1 in 8 people in the world don't have clean water so we talked about something so basic as water and what can happen when you don't have access to clean water. The kids really entered in to the conversation on clean clothes, and baths and teeth and drinking...and cooking. Thank-fullness.
Tonight I'm thankful for so much.
I'm full. My heart is full.
I'm thankful little Zihao is warm and loved and cared for. I'm so thankful he is in a foster home.
I'm thankful that little Taizi is in a 'safe place'. He needs care. He needs more. But for what he does have I'm thankful.
I'm so thankful that God has so specifically called us to bring them home and I can't wait for the day...when they come home.
And to my Father who has asked me time and time again if I'm willing to risk all...everything...for Him....I'm so thankful. To say I don't know where I'd be today without Him...is a complete understatement. For loving me...for sending His Son to pay the ultimate price for my sin...for adopting me into His family...I'm eternally thankful.
Ahh. Thankful day. That's what it's called in our house. And we...are thank-full.
Two years ago ... Thanksgiving day 2009...we announced we were so excited that we had a new little baby on the way. We were just a few months away from going to Africa to adopt our twin boys and life was pretty full. Little did we know what lay ahead. That baby would see Jesus before she ever saw us. Three months later we would again announce our excitement that another little baby was on the way. In the beginning, my heart broke as much for Tirzah's sweet heart as it did for my own when I called home from Africa to say another baby was in Heaven. I was so crushed. Felt suffocated beneath the weight of total grief and loss.
Two years later ... Thanksgiving 2011...here we are with a full house...and full hearts. Our little boys are home and truly a part of our family (that is not instant with adoption...especially in older children.). And sweet Izrael Promise shines her little light every day. She is a reminder that He truly makes beautiful things out of us. (one of my favorite songs right now..."He makes beautiful things" by Gungor).
We had no idea ... and would have laughed had you told us a year ago that we would have our hearts somewhere on the east of China this Thanksgiving.
We are full of thanks.
My sister suggested I read "One Thousand Gifts" and I haven't yet purchased it but I was able to read a part on Amazon.com tonight. I think I'll enjoy the book from what I've seen. I was disappointed to see the title of the book taken...as I think it would be fitting for our story someday ;)
Tomorrow as you sit around in the fun, excitement, warmth and even clamor of it all...let your heart fully offer up a song of thanksgiving. You...yes you...have so much to be thankful for.
Tonight I want to show you what my sweet sweet friend, Courtney Frisbee made for our adoption. There's a bit more to this than meets the eye. This is a glass Christmas ornament. Handmade for our adoption. Of course, 100% of the proceeds go directly to bringing little Taizi and Zihao home from China. Take a closer look at the photo. On the heart is a map of China. The 2 stars...are showing you where Taizi and Zihao live. The phrase is such an important part of our and their story. It's beautiful. It's in the colors of the Chinese flag and I think it would look beautiful on your tree this year. You will remember 2 little boys waiting for their forever family...and in years to come you will be reminded each Christmas of the important piece YOU were in bringing them home.
They are being sold for $10 each. $13 includes shipping to anywhere in Canada and USA.
Please email me if you wish to purchase one. You may mail a check or money order to
4916 Malaga Drive
or paypal to the adoption paypal account firstname.lastname@example.org
and finally have things ready for the Mexican clearances ... this is really all we are waiting on for the home study to be completed (oh and those few references that still need to send their forms back...;).
We had such a wonderful family weekend. Today we came home from church (where Azlan stayed with us instead of going to sunday school...he tends to get made fun of on a good day...not going to ask for more with part of his head shaved and 2 big lines of stitches on his face/head)...made a great lunch then watched a family Christmas movie. Then the kids all talked about their 'modified' Christmas wish lists...we asked them each to pick 2 things they really want. It was cute seeing their process of elimination.
At about 5:30 we all loaded into the Suburban and went for a McCafe for Dean and I then headed to the river for a walk. It was dark. And cold. And wonderful. The baby was in the sling...snug as a bug. The two thinnest boys were the only ones complaining of being cold ;) One the way home we stopped into Walmart where all 7 kids got to spend $5 each from Nana and Papa. They had a lot of fun and everyone got some pretty awesome stuff. It really amazes me the choices they have for $5. Tirzah settled on a set of handcuffs that really lock and have keys. Oh yes...this girl is the new sheriff in town. And a pretty cute one too! Though tonight she came downstairs in her brown ruffle skirt, a sweater that has one button at the top ... no shirt underneath...her pink cowgirl belt hanging overtop, her pink cowgirl boots and her hat....looking for a criminal to lock up. Zion bought a motorcycle, Chazano a firetruck. Zunduka and Azlan got my favorite...superhero capes with masks. Ok ... if it were Mama's pick...all the kids would have gotten this. Since they could walk they have been playing superheros. Daily I tie blankets around their necks as capes! The boys were so cute running around in 'real capes'! Azahria got a set of squinkies. Izrael got a baby 'cell phone' that lights up and sings. They all went to bed exhausted after a fun day.
Right now we have our next home study appt in early December. We have been blessed with 2 amazing social workers and look forward to the next visit.
A friend messaged me today on facebook and said as they were listening to a Christmas song it made them think of us. Well we clicked on the link and sat spell bound as we listened to Third Day sing.
We are excited to announce a new raffle fundraiser! Lance Frisbee from www.LanceFrisbeePhoto.com has donated an amazing prize to help us bring our babies home from China.
Tickets are $10 each. Because the prize is donated, 100% of the money from this raffle goes directly to bringing Taizi and Zihao home.
Lance is an extremely talented photographer from Pasco. The prize includes session fee on location or in studio for any type of shoot and 5 edited photos on cd with rights to print. Family, Senior, Maternity, Newborn, Children etc. The value of this prize is $400-450!
It's such a great time of year to win this prize and what a fantastic gift to give at Christmas! I have many friends who tell me they just never feel they have the money to get professional photos done but would love it.
Raffle tickets may be purchased by mailing payment in form of check or money order or via Paypal (email@example.com)
We had a friend contact us today about an idea for a local fundraiser. It's pretty amazing...so stay tuned. Also she is launching a site on etsy with gorgeous handmade hair bows/flowers/headbands and from those sales she will contribute to our adoption fund...so that's something long distance friends can participate in.
Sometimes being ever-so-slightly in the public eye is rough. With a mouth and discernment problem like mine, you can imagine. I basically offer my life on the altar of criticism daily, then douse the sacrifice with plenty of fuel to make disparagement a lay-up.
For instance, Brandon and I attended a Halloween party last weekend with the theme “Heroes and Super villains.” Our friends came in such costumes as Captain America and the Joker and Kim Possible. They were all very polished and adorable. We came as washed-up, possibly strung out Superman and Supergirl complete with ripped fishnets, smeared makeup, and pistol tattoo drawn with Sharpie. We may or may not have had unlit cigarettes dangling from the corners of our mouths.
These choices are often met with disapproval from the watching masses, as you might well guess. I know you wish I would only dress up as Little Bo Peep or Mary Mother of Jesus, but Brandon and I are very, very silly and immature, and I’ve been trying to tell you people this for some time.
But usually I am grateful for the connection to the greater world, if only through social media and the miracle of emails (plus embarrassing transparency). For example, just a few days ago, I received this email:
Our good friends just returned from Ethiopia last night with their two little boys. Ok, they've had their "airport" moment and we were right there with them.What are some things we can do now to support them in the "real life" journey without overstepping our boundaries? Thank you so much for your transparency and honesty.Everyone can benefit when you share from your heart.
I was so moved by this email. Having benefitted from a community that practically smothered us with support throughout our adoption journey, I am so grateful for all the other good friends out there, loving their people and asking how to help. Since reading this email, I’ve been marinating on her question, and I’ve decided to write this Field Guide to Supporting Adoptive Families. (And it will be brief because I will try to remember that this is a blog and not a manuscript and the rules of blogging include succinctness, so that is exactly how I’ll proceed today, except for the exact opposite of all that.)
Let’s break this down into two categories:
Supporting Families Before the Airport
Your friends are adopting. They’re in the middle of dossiers and home studies, and most of them are somewhere in the middle of Waiting Purgatory. Please let me explain something about WP: It sucks in every way. Oh sure, we try to make it sound better than it feels by using phrases like “We’re trusting in God’s plan” and “God is refining me” and “Sovereignty trumps my feelings” and crazy bidness like that. But we are crying and aching and getting angry and going bonkers when you’re not watching. It’s hard. It hurts. It feels like an eternity even though you can see that it is not. It is harder for us to see that, because many of us have pictures on our refrigerators of these beautiful darlings stuck in an orphanage somewhere while we’re bogged down in bureaucracy and delays.
How can you help? By not saying or doing these things:
1.“God’s timing is perfect!” (Could also insert: “This is all God’s plan!” “God is in charge!”) As exactly true as this may be, when you say it to a waiting parent, we want to scratch your eyebrows off and make you eat them with a spoon. Any trite answer that minimizes the struggle is as welcomed as a sack of dirty diapers. You are voicing something we probably already believe while not acknowledging that we are hurting and that somewhere a child is going to bed without a mother again. Please never say this again. Thank you.
(written by Janice: I disagree with point number 1. No one likes preachy ever. But let's keep perspective I loved when someone reminded me or God Himself reminded me that this wasn't about me or my timing. It's kind of scary to get very emotionally wrapped up in the timeline- because the crash will be even greater when it's all over. )
2.“Are you going to have your own kids?” (Also in this category: “You’ll probably get pregnant the minute your adoption clears!” “Since this is so hard, why don’t you just try to have your own kids?” “Well, at least you have your own kids.”) The subtle message here is: You can always have legitimate biological kids if this thing tanks. It places adoption in the Back-up Plan Category, where it does not belong for us. When we flew to Ethiopia with our first travel group from our agency, out of 8 couples, we were the only parents with biological kids. The other 7 couples chose adoption first. Several of them were on birth control. Adoption counts as real parenting, and if you believe stuff Jesus said, it might even be closer to the heart of God than regular old procreation. (Not to mention the couples that grieved through infertility already. So when you say, “Are you going to have your own kids?” to a woman who tried for eight years, then don’t be surprised if she pulls your beating heart out like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.)
3.For those of you in Christian community, it is extremely frustrating to hear: “Don’t give up on God!” or “Don’t lose faith!” It implies that we are one nanosecond away from tossing our entire belief system in the compost pile because we are acting sad or discouraged. It’s condescending and misses the crux of our emotions. I can assure you, at no point in our story did we think about kicking Jesus to the curb, but we still get to cry tears and feel our feelings, folks. Jesus did. And I’m pretty sure he went to heaven when he died.
(Janice: *I had written that this was not my thoughts at all but after talking with a friend I see this side. So I'll clarify...I agree with her that when we are wanting to vent to a friend about the timeline, delays etc...yes we do know God is overall but we really are wanting is a friend's shoulder to cry on as we go through the journey. I just wanted to say that I do like when a friend points my eyes back to where they should be...on God)
4.We’re happy to field your questions about becoming a transracial family or adopting a child of another race, but please don’t use this moment to trot out your bigotry. (Cluelessness is a different thing, and we try to shrug that off. Like when someone asked about our Ethiopian kids, “Will they be black?” Aw, sweet little dum-dum.) The most hurtful thing we heard during our wait was from a black pastor who said, “Whatever you do, don’t change their last name to Hatmaker, because they are NOT Hatmakers. They’ll never be Hatmakers. They are African.” What the??? I wonder if he’d launch the same grenade if we adopted white kids from Russia? If you’d like to know what we’re learning about raising children of another race or ask respectful, legitimate questions, by all means, do so. We care about this and take it seriously, and we realize we will traverse racial landmines with our family. You don’t need to point out that we are adopting black kids and we are, in fact, white. We’ve actually already thought of that.
(Janice: we too had some 'interesting' comments usually referencing name changes etc. a quote comes to mind from Dr. Phil: "opinions are like butts....everyone has one" :)
5.Saying nothing is the opposite bad. I realize with blogs like this one, you can get skittish on how to talk to a crazed adopting Mama without getting under her paper-thin skin or inadvertently offending her. I get it. (We try hard not to act so hypersensitive. Just imagine that we are paper-pregnant with similar hormones surging through our bodies making us cry at Subaru commercials just like the 7-month preggo sitting next to us. And look at all this weight we’ve gained. See?) But acting like we’re not adopting or struggling or waiting or hoping or grieving is not helpful either. If I was pregnant with a baby in my belly, and no one ever asked how I was feeling or how much longer or is his nursery ready or can we plan a shower, I would have to audition new friend candidates immediately.
Here’s what we would love to hear Before the Airport:
1.Just kind, normal words of encouragement. Not the kind that assume we are one breath away from atheism. Not the kind that attempt to minimize the difficulties and tidy it all up with catchphrases. We don’t actually need for you to fix our wait. We just want you to be our friend and acknowledge that the process is hard and you care about us while we’re hurting. That is GOLD. I was once having lunch with my friend Lynde when AWAA called with more bad news about Ben’s case, and I laid my head down on the table in the middle of Galaxy Café and bawled. Having no idea what to do with such a hot mess, she just cried with me. Thank you for being perfect that day, Lynde.
2.Your questions are welcomed! We don’t mind telling you about the court system in Ethiopia or the in-country requirements in Nicaragua or the rules of the foster system. We’re glad to talk about adoption, and we’re thankful you care. I assure you we didn’t enter adoption lightly, so sharing details of this HUGE PIECE OF OUR LIVES is cathartic. Plus, we want you to know more because we’re all secretly hoping you’ll adopt later. (This is not true.) (Yes it is.)
3.When you say you’re praying for us and our waiting children, and you actually really are, not only does that soothe our troubled souls, but according to Scripture, it activates the heavens. So pray on, dear friends. Pray on. That is always the right thing to say. And please actually do it. We need people to stand in the gap for us when we are too tired and discouraged to keep praying the same words another day.
4.If you can, please become telepathic to determine which days we want to talk about adoption and which days we’d rather you just show up on our doorstep with fresh figs from the Farmer’s Market (thanks, Katie) or kidnap us away in the middle of the day to go see Bridesmaids. Sometimes we need you to make us laugh and remember what it feels like to be carefree for a few hours. If you’re not sure which day we’re having, just pre-buy movie tickets and show up with the figs, and when we answer the door, hold them all up and ask, “Would you like to talk for an hour uninterrupted about waiting for a court date?” We’ll respond to whichever one fits.
Supporting Families After the Airport
You went to the airport. The baby came down the escalator to cheers and balloons. The long adoption journey is over and your friends are home with their new baby / toddler / twins / siblings / teenager. Everyone is happy. Maybe Fox News even came out and filmed the big moment and “your friend” babbled like an idiot and didn’t say one constructive word about adoption and also she looked really sweaty during her interview. (Really? That happened to me too. Weird.)
How can you help? By not saying or doing these things:
1.I mean this nicely, but don’t come over for awhile. Most of us are going to hole up in our homes with our little tribe and attempt to create a stable routine without a lot of moving parts. This is not because we hate you; it’s because we are trying to establish the concept of “home” with our newbies, and lots of strangers coming and going makes them super nervous and unsure, especially strangers who are talking crazy language to them and trying to touch their hair.
2.Please do not touch, hug, kiss, or use physical affection with our kids for a few months. We absolutely know your intentions are good, but attachment is super tricky with abandoned kids, and they have had many caregivers, so when multiple adults (including extended family) continue to touch and hold them in their new environment, they become confused about who to bond with. This actually delays healthy attachment egregiously. It also teaches them that any adult or stranger can touch them without their permission, and believe me, many adoptive families are working HARD to undo the damage already done by this position. Thank you so much for respecting these physical boundaries.
(Janice: this is one of the most important pieces on this post. This is reality. This is an absolute must. Yes we know how adorable they are and you have heard their story and you just want to scoop them up and kiss them to pieces... But you cannot. It is recommended by many professionals that no one besides new mom and dad should touch or proved for the new adopted child. No diaper changes, no bottles, no snuggles, no baths, no affection...from anyone besides mom and dad until 4-6 months. The point is that you have children coming from very traumatic backgrounds--often institutionalized with big turnover of staff. Nothing has been consistent for them so it's an up hill battle to show them mommy and daddy are here to stay and we are the ones to trust. As time goes on we push that boundary back a bit at a time to include extended family etc. )
3.For the next few months, do not assume the transition is easy. For 95% of us, it so is not. And this isn’t because our family is dysfunctional or our kids are lemons, but because this phase is so very hard on everyone. I can’t tell you how difficult it was to constantly hear: “You must be so happy!” and “Is life just so awesome now that they’re here??” and “Your family seems just perfect now!” I wanted that to be true so deeply, but I had no idea how to tell you that our home was actually a Trauma Center. (I did this in a passive aggressive way by writing this blog, which was more like “An Open Letter to Everyone Who Knows Us and Keeps Asking Us How Happy We Are.”) Starting with the right posture with your friends – this is hard right now – will totally help you become a safe friend to confide in / break down in front of / draw strength from.
4.Do not act shocked if we tell you how hard the early stages are. Do not assume adoption was a mistake. Do not worry we have ruined our lives. Do not talk behind our backs about how terribly we’re doing and how you’re worried that we are suicidal. Do not ask thinly veiled questions implying that we are obviously doing something very, very wrong. Do not say things like, “I was so afraid it was going to be like this” or “Our other friends didn’t seem to have these issues at all.” Just let us struggle. Be our friends in the mess of it. We’ll get better.
5.If we’ve adopted older kids, please do not ask them if they “love America so much” or are “so happy to live in Texas.” It’s this simple: adoption is born from horrible loss. In an ideal world, there would be no adoption, because our children would be with their birth families, the way God intended. I’ll not win any points here, but I bristle when people say, “Our adopted child was chosen for us by God before the beginning of time.” No he wasn’t. He was destined for his birth family. God did not create these kids to belong to us. He didn’t decide that they should be born into poverty or disease or abandonment or abuse and despair aaaaaaaall so they could finally make it into our homes, where God intended them to be. No. We are a very distant Plan B. Children are meant for their birth families, same as my biological kids were meant for mine. Adoption is one possible answer to a very real tragedy… after it has already happened, not before as the impetus for abandonment. There is genuine grief and sorrow when your biological family is disrupted by death and poverty, and our kids have endured all this and more. So when you ask my 8-year-old if he is thrilled to be in Texas, please understand that he is not. He misses his country, his language, his food, his family. Our kids came to us in the throes of grief, as well they should. Please don’t make them smile and lie to you about how happy they are to be here.
6.Please do not disappear. If I thought the waiting stage was hard, it does not even hold the barest candle to what comes after the airport. Not. The. Barest. Candle. Never have I felt so isolated and petrified. Never have I been so overwhelmed and exhausted. We need you after the airport way more than we ever needed you before. I know you’re scared of us, what with our dirty hair and wild eyes and mystery children we’re keeping behind closed doors so they don’t freak out more than they already have, but please find ways to stick around. Call. Email. Check in. Post on our Facebook walls. Send us funny cards. Keep this behavior up for longer than six days.
Here’s what we would love to hear or experience After the Airport:
1.Cook for your friends. Put together a meal calendar and recruit every person who even remotely cares about them. We didn’t cook dinners for one solid month, and folks, that may have single handedly saved my sanity. There simply are not words to describe how exhausting and overwhelming those first few weeks are, not to mention the lovely jetlag everyone came home with. And if your friends adopted domestically right up the street, this is all still true, minus the jetlag.
(Janice: always a gift)
2.If we have them, offer to take our biological kids for an adventure or sleepover. Please believe me: their lives just got WHACKED OUT, and they need a break, but their parents can’t give them one because they are 1.) cleaning up pee and poop all day, 2.) holding screaming children, 3.) spending all their time at doctors’ offices, and 4.) falling asleep in their clothes at 8:15pm. Plus, they are in lockdown mode with the recently adopted, trying to shield them from the trauma that is Walmart.
(Janice: I'm pretty independent on this one. You are welcome to offer...sometimes we will say yes sometimes not:)
3.Thank you for getting excited with us over our little victories. I realize it sounds like a very small deal when we tell you our kindergartener is now staying in the same room as the dog, but if you could’ve seen the epic level of freakoutedness this dog caused her for three weeks, you would understand that this is really something. When you encourage us over our incremental progress, it helps. You remind us that we ARE moving forward and these little moments are worth celebrating. If we come to you spazzing out, please remind us where we were a month ago. Force us to acknowledge their gains. Be a cheerleader for the healing process.
4.Come over one night after our kids are asleep and sit with us on our porch. Let me tell you: we are all lonely in those early weeks. We are home, home, home, home, home. Good-bye, date nights. Good-bye, GNO’s. Good-bye, spontaneous anything. Good-bye, church. Good-bye, big public outings. Good-bye, community group. Good-bye, nightlife. So please bring some community to our doorstep. Bring friendship back into our lives. Bring adult conversation and laughter. And bring an expensive bottle of wine.
5.If the shoe fits, tell adopting families how their story is affecting yours. If God has moved in you over the course of our adoption, whether before the airport or after, if you’ve made a change or a decision, if somewhere deep inside a fire was lit, tell us, because it is spiritual water on dry souls. There is nothing more encouraging than finding out God is using our families for greater kingdom work, beautiful things we would never know or see. We gather the holy moments in our hands every day, praying for eyes to see God’s presence, his purposes realized in our story. When you put more holy moments in our hands to meditate on, we are drawn deeper into the Jesus who led us here.
Here’s one last thing: As you watch us struggle and celebrate and cry and flail, we also want you to know that adoption is beautiful, and a thousand times we’ve looked at each other and said, “What if we would’ve said no?” God invited us into something monumental and lovely, and we would’ve missed endless moments of glory had we walked away. We need you during these difficult months of waiting and transitioning, but we also hope you see that we serve a faithful God who heals and actually sets the lonely in families, just like He said He would. And even through the tears and tantrums (ours), we look at our children and marvel that God counted us worthy to raise them. We are humbled. We’ve been gifted with a very holy task, and when you help us rise to the occasion, you have an inheritance in their story; your name will be counted in their legacy.
Because that day you brought us pulled pork tacos was the exact day I needed to skip dinner prep and hold my son on the couch for an hour, talking about Africa and beginning to bind up his emotional wounds. When you kidnapped me for two hours and took me to breakfast, I was at the very, very, absolute end that morning, but I came home renewed, able to greet my children after school with fresh love and patience. When you loved on my big kids and offered them sanctuary for a night, you kept the family rhythm in sync at the end of a hard week.
Thank you for being the village. You are so important.
(Janice: the emails I have received since posting this are pretty emotional. If you know someone who has adopted and you haven't been "the village"...there's still time to step up and support. I would have to say my biggest one that I would add to this list is when I was crying to a friend or family member and they would say something to the effect of "hello...you chose this!". That really lacks heart and if I may say...even depth. Thats like saying to a missionary in some of their most trying times "hello!!! You gave up your cushy job in America and left all to serve these people...don't cry to me!". Can you imagine? You may not be called to adopt but we are all called to be 'The Village'. To love and support and pray with and cry with.
~When you are pouring your heart out and a friend says "I don't see that, they are adorable and so well behaved." Yes absolutely but understand that attachment issues are deep, real and very hard. You may not see these things in your brief lunch with our family or watching how the children obey at church. But know that they are there. There is deep hurt and abandonment in children especially coming from an institution.
~In all the comments on this post (on Jen Hatmakers original post) there were a few that I did not agree with. They were relating to treating the adopted children special. I feel that if you cannot handle the fact that your adopted children are going to stand out (especially if a different race) then you need to question your own heart. I'm fully aware that when in a store the eyes will first go to our African children. Not because they are cut-ER, bettER, MORE special...but because they are different. Our biological children are strong and confident individuals and are not offended if you make comments about our adopted children vs our bio children. That's our job as parents to make sure we are raising our children with an awareness of what's happening and an appreciation for what adoption means to the world around us. It is not the public's job to let our bio children know they are 'still special' and 'still loved'. That's our job as parents.
~I know it's a hard one when she talks about God didn't plan for this to be your child. Your child was planned to be his/her bio family. I know especially single moms that have adopted really struggle with this. But let's break it down...it wasn't God's plan that there would be sin...Yet He knew and planned a way of escape from the very beginning. Adoption is a plan B. God doesn't want any child rejected or abandoned. Yet He knew from the beginning every sentence in that child's story. Your piece is in there. And always was.
~Let's all strive to be the Village. Just because a family "chose this" and looks to be "handling it just fine"...don't abandon them and leave them isolated. We can rally together and support in so many ways.
-a phone call.
-an invite to late night coffee and dessert for the new mom (yes!!)
-a meal (or 2 or 3).
-plan a shower! You think you have to purchase a lot to have a baby! Try adopting 2 toddlers!!! From beds, furniture to entire wardrobes of clothing and outerwear and boots and hats etc. It's more extensive than what is needed for a newborn! An awesome shower would be a gift card shower!
-it's ok to thank them. Some of my most amazing moments just being out and about in town is when a random stranger will come up to me and say "I just want to thank you ... for what you've done". Not everyone is called to do it and not everyone is going to do it...but we all agree that someone has to! And lots of someones! I was ready to give birth to baby Izrael when the guy came in to give me some sort of shot or blood draw ... he saw our family picture on the table and leaned close and shook my hand as he said "on behalf of my wife and I...I just want to thank you from my heart for what you have done....thank you" and I cried.
From the emails I'm receiving from this post...there is a lot of hurt. Think of who you know that have adopted...could they have possibly felt alone and isolated in their journey...?
Knowledge is power. But not always. Only if you apply it. Many of you have learned a lot from this post. Maybe you have learned to not be offended when the new mom asks you not to touch her newly adopted child. It's not about you...it's about protecting the child and establishing boundaries that truly allow him/her to trust. Those boundaries will expand but give it time. Maybe you have learned that you can do better to be the Village to that family that adopted and you thought they were just plain "wacked" to add more children in their family in a strained economy. Yah...well...it's time to step up and be what God has called you to be to that family.
We had our pre-op appt yesterday in Spokane for Azlan. The doctor confirmed that roughly 40% of his ear drum is missing due to the permanent tube (that never should have been put in...) falling out. Sigh. He said we'll just hope the body heals the hole but it may not. Meaning no water can get in the ear (in our child who is half-fish...!) or we will have drainage and possibly infection. We are taking that one day at a time b/c I'm not sure how that works long-term...?
We then agreed to take his ear tags off in surgery. Azlan is so cute...he thinks his ear doesn't work b/c of the 'ear bumps' so he thinks removing the bumps...will allow his ear to hear. Uh oh..
We talked about reforming the outer ear but at this point it may back fire on us so we will watch it into teenage years and can operate later.
We talked about his nose and he said he would leave his nose for now and again ... look at operating at 14 years or so when the nose has finished growing. At that point he would like to straighten it up and really do some 'finishing touches' on his nose.
We talked about the Baha and he showed me where it will be on Azlan's head. Unless the doctor is mistaken, it's quite a large piece that will be visible. That's not super exciting for Azlan...however as technology improves he can update all along the way.
A screw will be placed into the skull behind the ear. We are changing things up from the norm and he's going to put 2 in. One is a 'sleeper one' and will be buried. In case things go wrong with the other one we'll have a back up plan. The other screw will be sticking out with its attachment piece through the skin. Normally it is buried for 6 months then reoperated on and ready for the attachment. We discussed doing this all in one surgery for several reasons. As he gets older ~ he is quite aware of whats going on and it's rather traumatic. Let's remove one step if we can. He said the risks are the screw being dislodged during that 6 month 'setting into the bone' period. He said most of the time that will occur b/c of school. Bumping, accidents and playground mishaps. When I told him we homeschool he immediately starting discussing going for it. So that's the plan! We won't be able to use the BAHA for a few months but hopefully considerably sooner than 6 months. He said he does not have one family that regrets it. They all give it credit for hugely impacting their child's life.
I talked about Taizi and Zihao while there. He thinks I'm crazy :) And well he said crazy in a good way. He said his wife is now finally considering adoption. When looking at Taizi he said that is definitely bilateral Microtia and we will not know until he's home what severity it is. Sometimes with microtia there are no ear canals but due to a working inner ear they can actually drill ear canals (!). There may be severe levels of deafness and we are prepared for that. We are praying our little boy who seems so lost and sad isn't also sitting in the complete silence of the world around him. Breaks my heart.
We had a great day in Spokane ending it with a run into World Market. The kids are so funny they all emptied their piggy banks with the imported musical toys and yes...we allowed that and yes...for the first 20 minutes on the way home we listened to bazookas, harmonicas and even an accordian! ahh-yah! Then said band was over and it was peace ;)
Today was our second last homestudy appointment. And my bad I didn't tell Dean to stay home from work for it ... so he got called home from work. I was able to teach the kids school (which I'm loving now that we are back to our program we used last year...) while Dean did his one on one visit with the social workers...then it was my turn. We were done by 1:45 and on with the day.
Fingerprinting, Mexican clearances (for Dean having spent time there), waiting for clearances from MA and MB are really the final on the list besides the intense reading we have to do.
It will be so excited to have homestudy approval and move on to the next phase.
Tomorrow we are headed to Spokane early in the morning for Azlan's preop appt. Yes...on 11/11/11 and his appointment is at 11:00am. I think we are meant to really stop and remember. Aren't we all!
Taizi and Zihao...we are doing everything we can to bring you both home. As fast as we can.
So in the end...here are the numbers. Krispy Kreme total money raised = $2256.00. Therefore $1128.00 for Jason & Rachel's family to bring Josie home and $1128.00 for our family to bring Zihao and Taizi home.
That's a LOT of money to raise on selling donuts! Just for perspective with our Zambian adoption we made $700 on Krispy Kreme fundraiser...compared to $2256 this time!
After a completely packed day (think of what that means to you and ... double it...I looked at the clock at 4:45pm and realized I had not eaten one bite all day b/c I was too busy to think about it...) Rachel picked me up at 6:30 pm and off we went with the suburban and a U Haul trailer to Spokane.
The trip went so fast ... having a good friend to talk to sure helps the most boring ride in the NW!
We arrived at Krispy Kreme and went inside to make the purchase. Problem...my bank sets a daily limit on a purchase amount....and $2800 definitely exceeds that set amount. Fab-u-lous. So we try it and it's denied. Of course they don't take checks...of course no ATM is going to give me $2800 in cash and of course this is 9:30 pm and I'm stuck. We then did the donut holes at $900 and that worked but the $1900 for the donuts would not work. If we split the amount, we would lose the volume discount which was $100 ... since that $100 would be going directly to each of our families bringing our babies home...no way were we going to throw it away. Then Rachel said "I have a credit card I can use" and she did it and she went on to explain how that card is never in her wallet but last night...she felt compelled to put it in there. Oh...we were so thankful...!
So we purchased our donuts and pulled around back and attempted to back a U Haul trailer in to load up. OK we are not the Suburban-pulling-U Haul-driving type of girls and this was a task. But ... we got there. Sort of ;)
We completely filled the U Haul with donuts. Both of us were feeling a bit sick just from the overwhelming smell of KK by the time we were done loading!
We started home and I don't quite recall when we arrived but it was very late. 12:30 maybe? I texted Dean to come out and help us and he did...in a delirious state ;) We transfered a bunch to our vehicle and then went in for the night. Dean went back to his delirious state...and I....well...I started making 10 large poster boards for the sale. I hope they looked good b/c I was sure out of it.
It was after 2 am and I went to get into bed. I had a strong thought of "you should read tonight". I haven't missed but tonight...well this was definitely an exception. I couldn't even stand straight. Not because it was after 2am but because it was an exhausting day in every way. As I was getting ready for bed it was stronger and I was reassuring myself I wasn't going to miss anything by missing tonight. It was too strong. Fine. I got out of bed, grabbed my Bible and opened to my reading. Currently in Psalm, Luke and Micah. Luke is where my bookmark was so I thought "I'll start here". Luke 5 was my spot.
Verse 4. When He *(Jesus) had finished speaking he said to Simon, Put out into deep water and low down the nets for a catch"
vs. 5. Simon answer, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything...But because You sayso, I will let down the nets".
I stopped there. Dean bought me this Bible just before I went to Africa January 2010. There's no markings in it anywhere (except the chocolate pudding stains from when my dessert exploded in my bag on my Bible en route to Africa that trip). But on this page the words "But because You say so" are underlined and dated...January 6, 2010. That really hit me. This was a few days before my first trip to Africa. And it definitely hit me tonight.
It didn't make sense. Can you imagine being Simon? You just fished all night long...like...A~L~L night. And Jesus says "put your nets in". Wouldn't you look at Him like...'really...? Am I missing something here...?". Simon did. But then he said this. "But...because You say so"...
and I didn't need to know the rest of the story. It didn't matter how it ended to me. What mattered was that's where I needed my heart to be.
We bought 350 dozen KK donuts for our last adoption. And ended up giving away 75 boxes or so. We profited but not much. It was a long, hard, very very cold December day and I was like "wow...I'll never do that again!". Now we were doing it again. And both of us felt strongly about going for more. It didn't make sense. ... ok but wait....what DOES make sense here? What in the world are we even doing? This wasn't in our plans to begin with. At all.
400 dozen KK and 600 dozen KK donut holes. If we sell it all...profiting $3000...$1500 for each family.
"But because You say so..."
The rest of the story is awesome. Go look it up. You don't have a Bible...? Google Luke chapter 5. You'll find it.
There is so much power in what He says.
I closed my Bible and got into bed and I knew that was exactly what He wanted me to hear.
Morning came way to soon and off we went. We loaded everyone up in 2 vehicles so we could get each location started.
When we arrived to Walmart where we were meeting Rachel's fil and Jackie and her daughter Kayla...I felt overwhelmed. What in the world are we doing? 1000 boxes of donuts? What if we don't sell?? That's $2800 of donated money that we just threw away! We need that money...
I prayed..."I'm scared...I can't do this...please give me something..." and I reached and turned the radio on. It was set on 91.3. The music of a new song was just started and when it did...I stopped.
...Never once...did we ever walk alone...
Never once...did You leave us on our own...
You are faithful...God You are faithful...
that was it. I was now sitting in the car with tears coming down my face. Never once. Never once. He wasn't asking us to walk alone and though this was a leap of faith He was there...
I won't say much about the day b/c it was a long day. With gifts...galore. Gifts in the form of people. To the people that volunteered their time...my heart says Thank You. To 3 specific individuals...my heart is speechless. Vonne Marlatt. Jackie McWherter. Jessica Bravethunder. What a gift each of you were. I don't even have the words to say. They came, they worked...they worked and they worked. They worked like they were bringing their own children home from China. The hours each of these women put in...know that the words are not enough when we say "thank you...from the bottom of our hearts...thank you". Perhaps seeing the (if not immediate) ... eventual smile and light in little Josie, Zihao and Taizi's eyes someday and knowing you were such a huge part of that light...perhaps that would be the best way to really say "thank you".
The song never left me all day. At one point I had to come home with a not very well Izrael and put her to bed. Dean stayed out all day and Tirzah, Zion and Zunduka sold donuts from 9 am til dark with their Daddy! Chazano, Azlan, Azahria and Izrael came home with me.
We do have donuts left so I don't have the final count...Vonne just asked to take the rest of the donuts to her church in the morning where she was given permission to sell them there. Right at this moment if we never sold another bite...we are +$1800. That's $900 each.
It's not over.
We are so glad...that...
"Never Once" by Matt Redman:
Standing on this mountaintop Looking just how far we’ve come Knowing that for every step You were with us
Kneeling on this battle ground Seeing just how much You’ve done Knowing every victory Was Your power in us
Scars and struggles on the way But with joy our hearts can say Yes, our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone Never once did You leave us on our own You are faithful, God, You are faithful
Kneeling on this battle ground Seeing just how much You’ve done Knowing every victory Was Your power in us
Scars and struggles on the way But with joy our hearts can say Yes, our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone Never once did You leave us on our own You are faithful, God, You are faithful You are faithful, God, You are faithful
Scars and struggles on the way But with joy our hearts can say Never once did we ever walk alone Carried by Your constant grace Held within Your perfect peace Never once, no, we never walk alone
Never once did we ever walk alone Never once did You leave us on our own You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You need to hear something awesome ... right? Well I won't give all the specifics but I will share how God is providing to bring our babies home.
So tomorrow evening Rachel and I are heading to Spokane (2.5hrs) to pick up 1000 dozen boxes of Krispy Kremes...yes...that's right. Hope they fit. :) And well...we have to PAY for the donuts in order to sell them. The grand total is $2800 in donuts. Crazy..right? Well except that when we sell them we will clear around $3000 and split in two is $1500 for each family's adoption! So...
a few weeks ago we made a big payment on that debt we owe...that we talked about in the beginning...only to have the person take the envelope and hand it back to us and say it was for the adoption. ...
Then we received a letter in the mail from someone who knows my family well and I knew...as a child...with a huge donation in the letter. It was so beautiful reading how she believed God was telling her not to do what she had planned with the money but instead to use it to help our family bring our babies home...
Then one of my closest friends...gave us a huge donation yesterday to our adoption...
Would you like to know what the grand total of these three donations is...?
It was $2700. We had $100 in the adoption account already so this brings us up to $2800... which 'just so happens' to be the exact amount we need tomorrow to purchase the donuts.
I am a work at home Mama to 9 beautiful children. We have 5 biological children, adopted twin boys from Africa in 2010 and adopted 2 little boys in China in 2012. #10 is on the way (#6 bio) and yes that makes 10 in 9.5 years.
We are living proof that God is good. And...if He took it all away...we would still be living proof that He is good. This is His story.