Archive for June 2012

Monday, June 25, 2012

This Is Not Just My Thing


Everyone sort of has "their thing," right?  You know-the thing they are really passionate about, the thing they can't stop talking about every time you see them, the thing that gets them all excited and fired up.  Maybe it's music or a certain baseball team or a political view.  Maybe it's how they choose to school their kids or how they feed their infant.  Me?  I get really passionate about caring for orphans.  But I have to confess something.  When I post about adoption or I talk about orphan care, I have this underlying fear.  I fear that everyone will think I care about orphans purely because it's "my thing."

See, when someone's passionate about something that's just "their thing," you don't have to care about it, too.  It's fine and dandy if they want to get all hot and bothered about the importance of how to sleep train a baby- it's "their thing" after all!  I can read their passionate pleas for crying it out and forget about it ten minutes later; I can shrug it off as just "their thing."  Please, please, please do not see orphan care that way.  Why?  Because caring for orphans isn't just "my thing."  It isn't just something I'm into so I talk about it.  God is into caring for orphans, and that's why I care.  God is into caring for orphans and that is why it matters.


"In you the orphan finds mercy.” Hosea 14:3


"He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner..." Deut. 10:18



"To you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless." Psalm 10:14



"Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation." Psalm 68:5


"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." James 1:27

This isn't just "my thing."  God cares about orphans!  And He doesn't just care; scripture tells us over and over again that He acts to help the fatherless.  This matters to God and that's why it should really matter to us.  That doesn't just mean everyone should go out right now and start the adoption process.  (You're not going to find that anywhere in scripture!)  But it does mean that we should seek to cultivate that same heart of love for orphans that God has. It means that, like God, we can't just care.  We need to act.  

What might that look like?  Maybe God will call your family to give financially to an organization like Katelyn's Fund that helps families adopt.  Maybe God will call your family to step out in faith and bring a child into your home through international or domestic adoption.  Maybe He will lead you to become a foster parent or a safe family.  Maybe God will stir your heart to pray faithfully for the millions of orphans around the globe.  Maybe God will prompt you to support a family that's adopting (so many of you have done this for us!  Thank you!).  Maybe God will call you to sponsor a child.  Maybe God will lead you to take a trip overseas to volunteer in an orphanage.  Maybe God will direct you to start learning more about the orphan crisis.  Maybe God will draw you to help out at your local crisis pregnancy center.  That's just a small list of ways that we can care for orphans.  Sharing God's heart for the fatherless will look different for different people.

However it looks for us as individuals, we need to care about this.  Because this isn't just "my thing" or "your thing." This is God's thing.  It's obviously not His ONLY thing or even His MAIN thing (that spot's reserved for the Gospel).  But orphan care really is one of His things so it should be one of ours, too.

(Note:  Todd Augustine, a pastor at College Church and a dear friend of ours, came and preached an awesome message at our church a couple weeks ago about God's heart of love for the fatherless.  I can't recommend it highly enough!)

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Adoption Update: Applications Sent

When I began to fill these envelopes I expected to feel relief and excitement.  Relief because the adoption applications, copies of our homestudy, and profiles would finally be out of my hands.  Excitement because they'd soon be off to adoption agencies and attorneys that will help us bring our litte one home.  What I didn't expect were tears.

I touched each profile slowly, suddenly frozen with the gravity of what the pages represent.  Overcome with emotion, I whispered to Josh, "She'll touch these.  I don't know if we'll ever get to meet her or talk to her, but I'm touching this page that she will touch."  It felt like a holy moment.
I longed to somehow infuse our love into each page.  I lingered, desperately wanting this woman who is pregnant with our child to feel how much we love her right now, to believe that we care about her as a person and not just about the life growing inside of her.  I imagined what her hands might look like, imagined what she might feel as she flips through pages, trying to make one of most difficult decisions of her life.

As tears streamed down my face, I breathed prayers for whatever women will touch these books.  We don't know how many birthmoms will see our profile before we're connected with the one that wants us to parent her child.  Oh how I begged God to speak to each of those women, to tell them how courageous and selfless they are for choosing to give their child life, to tell them how much they are loved!

So yes, it's a relief and yes, it's exciting to have our applications finally mailed out.  We want to be parents again and we are praying it happens soon! But adoption is a mixture of grief and joy.  With every flicker of happy anticipation for this new baby comes a wave of sorrow for what's being lost.  As we gain a child, another mother will be saying goodbye to her baby.  I never want to be excited about our gain without being heartbroken for her loss.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Dishes Can Wait


I woke up tired, slapped together some quick breakfast, threw in a load of laundry, and rushed to get out of the door on time.  As usual, I was late.  I drove to her apartment, my mind racing with the litany of things I could be doing.  "My house is a wreck.  I didn't unload the dishwasher.  Tali needs help with her phonics.  I hope the kids are good for their grandma.  Do I really have time for this?"

I saw her waiting quietly for me by her front door, her sweet baby girl peeking out at me from the colorful wrap. Instant screams erupted as I lifted the little one into her carseat and headed to the clinic with my Burmese friend and her baby.  I had no idea exactly why the visit was needed, only that she can't speak much English or drive and needed my help to get there.

"How many years married?" I asked her in simplified English.  She thought for a moment, then smiled, "Seven year," she replied.  

"I...Katie...I am 31.  How old are you?"  "Thirty year," she confidently said as we pulled into the clinic parking lot, searching for an open space.  I have known my new friend for a couple of months now but I marveled at this piece of information.  We have both been married for seven years.  We are almost the same age.  And yet our lives could not have unfolded more differently.  All I have known is safety, stability, familiarity.  All that my friend has known is upheaval.


We quickly took the crying baby out of the carseat and she fastened her into her wrap once more.  I attempted to tell her how beautiful I thought the wrap was with little success.  "Kee-tee, kahz-oles?  Like kahz-oles?" she peered into my eyes.  I wracked my brain for some sort of guess as to what "kahz-oles" meant but came up with nothing.  As often is the case with our conversations, we both smiled, knowing we had tried to communicate and had failed.

We entered a waiting room surrounded by loud, energetic children.  There were babies crying.  There were toddlers standing on tables.  There was Spanish and broken English and in the noise and commotion, my friend's sweet baby was lulled right to sleep.  Everywhere I looked I saw pregnant teenage mothers toting solemn faced children and nurses patiently smiling amidst the chaos and poverty.

"How many years were you in the refugee camp?"  I asked.  I learned that she had lived half of her life there, met her husband there, even had four of her five babies there.  "When...I come America?  I no English," she shook her head and smiled. 

After around an hour of waiting, we were finally called back.  Through the help of a translator, the doctor conveyed her concern for the baby's low iron counts and weight that had dropped off of the charts.  Nutritional concepts are completely new to my dear friend who has spent years eating mainly beans and rice.  The baby needs iron and protein and fat.  The doctor asked if I could help her go shopping for some healthy foods for the baby.

As we left the clinic, I asked her about going grocery shopping.  "No money on card.  No money till 17," she said.  Thankful that I could help in some small way, I bought her some groceries.  I tried to explain how to make the baby cereal, and we drove back to her apartment.  It had now been three hours since I had left home.  I carried the food to her kitchen and began to leave.  

"Kee-tee?"  She called my name as she picked up a stack of beautiful blue cloth.  "Kee-tee, kahz-oles.  For you.  Kahz-oles.  Thank you." I unfolded the intricately woven skirt and shirt that she had brought with her all the way from Thailand, running my fingers over the colorful design.  I looked up into her smiling face, amazed at this act of extravagant kindness from my friend that truly has very few possessions.  

Hours before, I had wondered if I had the time to help.  Now, as I drove the fifteen minutes home, my eyes brimmed with tears and my mind flooded with the sights and sounds of the afternoon.  All of the injustices that my friend has seen in her life, all of the pregnant scared young moms like I saw in the waiting room, people with no money to buy their baby food, all of the doctors and nurses and relief workers everywhere trying to make a difference in a world where there is always another need to fill...it felt sickening and oppressive.  I cried out to God to do something, to come and act and help.  And I whispered thanks to Him for how He already is helping-for the opportunity to be a part of His work in caring for even just this one family.  As I looked at my new "kahz-oles" (clothes), I suddenly could not imagine a better use of my afternoon.

* If you would like to know more about helping a refugee family in need, this is a great place to check out.

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Waiting

"How much of life is lost in waiting?"  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Each of us are waiting for something, aren't we?  Maybe you're waiting for someone to email you back or to waiting for your kids to sleep through the night or waiting for a raise at work.  Maybe you're waiting to feel happy again or waiting to hear from someone you love or waiting to find out some life-changing information.

Right now we're waiting to be matched with a birthmom, waiting to meet the child (or children) that God has planned to enter our family.  Waiting is not easy-it never is.  But I so don't want to lose precious moments of precious days, pining away for what I'm waiting for and missing what's already before me.  I am alive and I have an amazing family that I love dearly.  I'm healthy and I have a home and a house and sunshine pouring through my windows.  I have food and friends and laughter and music and so many things to give thanks for if I will stop and look around me instead of yearning so much to be done with the waiting.

Lord, help me to wait in such a way that I seize each moment You give me, that I don't waste these fleeting hours and days until we see our baby's face.

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Friday, June 1, 2012

Questions with Answers


With adoption, and with all of life, there are many questions that are left unanswered.  Why does it have to be so expensive?  Why do some people wait for years for a child while others adopt quickly?  Why do some birthmoms change their minds before the baby is born and others wait until they are at the hospital?  There are many questions in the adoption world that I don't have good answers for.  But I thought I'd tackle a couple of questions that we have been asked recently that I actually do have answers for!

Q:  How will you connect with a birthmom?
A:  We're applying to various agencies and lawyers offices that work with birthmoms.  When a situation comes up with a birthmom looking to make an adoption plan, if we fit some of the qualities she's looking for, we will be contacted.  We'll learn about some of the details (fees involved, health history of birthparents, due date, etc.) and can decide if we want our profile shown.

Q:  What's a profile?
A:  A profile is basically like a scrapbook of our family with lots of pictures and information about us (what we do for fun, what our holiday traditions are, what our personalities are like, etc.).  Our extremely talented friend, Heather, made ours and I'm hoping to share it on here soon!  The profile is an EXTREMELY important part of our adoption process.

Q:  How does a birthmom choose a family?
A:  This varies case by case.  Sometimes it's through a personal connection (like the situation we were connected with last month).  Often, a birthmom will contact a crisis pregnancy center, an attorney, or an adoption agency for help.  She will hopefully receive some counseling and help to process the decision to make an adoption plan.  Then, she'll be shown some profiles of adoptive families and choose which family she wants to raise her child.  (Hence, the importance of the profile!)  At times, she will ask for a phone call with the prospective adoptive parents before making her decision.

Q:  Don't you have to wait for years to adopt an infant?
A:  That depends.  The largest percentage of couples in America that adopt are Caucasians that are seeking to adopt a Caucasian healthy infant so those lists are very long.  There are MANY infants who do not fall in that category; minority babies, babies whose birthmother has a less than perfect health history (mental illness, any drug usage, any cigarrettes, etc.), and babies with special needs are often waiting for adoption.  The wait time for these situations is much shorter because, sadly, there are not long lists of couples waiting to adopt in those situations.  (And there's an even shorter wait-time if you are adopting from foster care or adopting an older child.)  

Q:  Are you seriously telling me that minority babies often are born without anyone willing to adopt them?
A:  Yes.  It makes me sick but the answer is yes.  Sometimes babies are even born and are placed into foster care because there is no one willing to adopt them.  I could write much more on this heated topic but I'll do that another time.

Q: So are you adopting an African American child?
A:  We will most likely be adopting an African American or Bi-racial child.  Again, I will write more about this in another post but the main reason we are doing this is because that's how God has led our family.

Q:  Where are you at in the process?
A:  On Monday we will send out applications and our profile to four different agencies/attorneys.  From there, we wait to be matched with a birthmom.

Q:  How long will it take?
A:  We have no idea.  Sometimes people are matched immediately.  Sometimes people have their profile shown to 20+ different birthmoms before they finally are chosen.  It could go very quickly for us or it could not.

Q:  How much will your adoption cost?
A:  Thank you for asking that instead of saying, "how much will your baby cost?"  We aren't buying a baby; babies are priceless.  But we will be paying fees related to agency/attorney costs, birthmom's counseling & medical fees, etc.  Our adoption will probably be around $25,000.

Q:  Do you have all the funds that you need?
A:  Nope.  We still need about $9000.  We're saving, applying for grants, continuing our Etsy store, and praying for God to provide.  If you're interested in giving, we will be putting up a PayPal button on my blog soon.  Every little bit helps!

Q:  You're not going to have any contact with your baby's birthparents, right?  
A:  We absolutely hope and pray that we will have contact with our baby's first-parents!  Research has shown that children deal with their adoptions much better if they know something about their birthparents.  (This is VERY different than what was thought about adoptions in the past.  Adoptions used to be totally closed where there was NO information shared between birthparents and adoptive parents.  That's why you used to have lots of situations with kids never being told they were adopted or children turning 18 and suddenly going on a search for their birthparents.)  Initially, we were afraid of the idea of contact with birthparents.  But as we've read more research, we've come to believe that it's in a child's best interest to know about their birthparents.  And we've come to see that our child's birthparents will always be an important part of their story.  We already care about our child's birthparents and we don't even know who they are yet!  I'm praying that we'll be able to develop a great relationship with our child's first-parents for the years to come.  

What other questions to you have?  I would love to hear them!  Leave me a comment (feel free to do it anonymously if you want) or email me at alreadyloveyou at gmail.com with your questions and I'll try to answer them as best I can.

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