Friday, January 14, 2011


Missy wrote this really great post about how "crazy" she is. Or, at least, about how crazy some people think she is. Mostly because she has 4 kids and is adopting another from Ethiopia. But also because when you find your passion, your response to the Lord's call might just seem crazy!

But it seems to me that crazy is really a subjective term. I think it's more a matter of perspective.

Before I adopted a child, the families that adopted sibling groups, older children, children with special needs, HIV+ kids, etc seemed, well, a little crazy to me. Passionate, compassionate, inspiring... yes. But also just a little crazy. I couldn't understand it... and to be honest, the idea of doing what they were doing was not only crazy... but a little frightening, too. "There's no way I could ever do that. None. I am not cut out for that at all."

And then I went. And I saw. And my heart broke.

And I think my heart lined up more with God's heart. And suddenly, those choices that seemed so crazy only a few months before now seemed reasonable... attainable, even. I was considering those same things. Was I called to adopt an older child? And HIV+ child? More than one child at a time?

So I am sitting here, reflecting on how "crazy" people might think I am, with my beautiful Ethiopian daughter smack dab between my white bio kids. And how normal I seem (to me, at least!) And what it is that God is calling me to do. And if that might just seem a bit "crazy." And how I am okay with that.

But I am also thinking that we need to create a culture where "crazy" becomes the norm. Where we don't think it's odd to adopt a child with special needs. Where we don't raise our eyebrows when someone says "oh, we are adopting a sibling group of 4" to join their 5 already at home. Where we don't inwardly say "oh, really?" when we meet a young lady who "gave up her real life" and moved to Africa to love orphans. This is the gospel in action. This is what love does. This is how we should live. It should be crazy.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Change?

I first started this blog, way back in 2007, I realized that I wanted a separate place to keep my adoption "stuff" than on my "regular" blog. Not because adoption was such a separate part of my life... exactly the opposite: because it was quickly becoming my whole life. I wanted to be able to remind myself that I was still me, still a momma to Abigail, still a nurse... still me, through this whole process. I also wanted the adoption process info to be easily accessible to other adoptive parents who stopped by the blog.

It made sense at the time. I think it was the right thing at the time. It even made sense as this changed into a pregnancy blog to continue to keep it separate from my "regular" blog (although, by that point, I was rarely posting anything besides pregnancy stuff.)

But now, as I've come to realize that this blog is changing again (notice the different description I put up at the header?) and in light of the fact that I feel like God is drawing me to live more radically, I am really torn about keeping this blog separate from my daily life blog. Not that it's some big, radical thing to condense the two blogs, because it's not (although, it kind of feels like it is.) It's more about the idea that this call to orphan care is not just a "part" of me, separate from who I "really" am... this call to orphan care is as central to my identity as being a mom, or a wife, or a nurse, or any of those things that define me.

So I am really thinking about it. Condensing my two blogs. Moving this one over to my other one. Because adoption, birth, orphan care... I mean, more than anything else, they really do define me- they define the future me.

What if I was radical?

I was thinking in the shower (which is a great place to think!) today about this article over at World Magazine. The author basically says that if more pastors and church leaders would adopt, it would create more of a culture of adoption in the church. He writes "Pastors tend to preach and teach about their interests and practices. And American Christians tend to apply the Bible to real life issues after a pastor or recognized leader stirs up interest. So if church leaders would cast a practice-driven vision for orphan care, churchgoers likely would be challenged to participate in one of the most ancient practices of God’s covenant people (Exodus 22; Deuteronomy 14, 16, 24)." More specifically, I was thinking about the comments that followed that article, and the exchange over here.

People get tied up in the comments over what constitutes an "orphan" and if we are called to care for only orphans (no parents) or foster children as well... and the ways in which this is to be done (adoption through the state, private adoption, foster care, etc.) There was a lot of criticism of the foster/adopt system in the US (yes, it's broken) as well as several people who basically said "adoption and/or foster care is not my calling."

Now, to some degree, I agree with all of this. But it also sort of seems like an excuse. I don't have everything sorted out in my head yet, but here are some of my thoughts:

As a Christ-follower, we are all called to care for orphans (the fatherless, or, as I think of them- those who don't have families, which would include both "true orphans" and foster children) and widows. It's our job to figure out the exact nature of our call. For some, it is adoption and/or foster care. For others, it may be financially supporting another family's adoption. Maybe it's providing respite care, providing meals for adoptive/foster parents, or caring for the kids while mom and dad go on a date. Maybe it's providing care, love, and support to birth mothers as they make an adoption plan and after they go through the painful process of placing a child for adoption. Maybe it's coming along side a family in distress so that the children remain in that family in a safe and loving way. Maybe it's entering into a mentoring relationship with a child who is aging out of foster care to support and guide them as they enter the world of adulthood. Not all of us are called to adopt, but we are all called. And if we can't identify a way in which we are responding to the call, saying "we aren't called to foster/adopt" is just an excuse. You are called- find your way to fulfill that call.

It's hard for me to believe, however, that there are not enough Christians in this country to adopt the 115,000 children who are available for adoption right now. I think there is some truth in the idea that Bradley presents; our pastors and church leaders should be making orphan and widow care just as much of a priority as other kinds of giving (tithing, missions, etc.) The church should have a culture of orphan (adoption/foster) and widow care as the norm. Although there are several that are doing this already, I don't think this is the true culture of most churches. And our pastors/leaders are the ones in a position to change that. Now, I don't believe that all pastors should adopt/foster, but I think they do have a responsibility to see how they are leading their congregation in this area. In addition to the ways mentioned above, pastors are in a unique position to council couples (in premarital classes and through other ministries aimed at couples) that adoption is part of God's plan, and may be part of God's specific plan for them. More often than not, it's not God saying "yes" to our desire to adopt--- it's us saying "yes" to God's plan for us to adopt! If we are constantly seeking God's plan and have our minds and hearts open to this, maybe we will hear more "YES!" from God  in this area!

The problem, though, is not that Christians aren't adopting or fostering. Sadly, it's a much bigger problem. It's not the global orphan crisis of 147 million orphans. It's not the AIDS crisis, or the natural disasters or the unethical government practices that is our problem. It's our hearts. Because adopting a child with severe RAD is a pretty radical thing to do. Fostering a child with severe medical needs is a pretty radical thing to do. Bringing an underweight, sickly, HIV+, African child into your affluent white home and then loving them as the beloved child of God that they are is a radical thing to do. We are called to live radically- to do the very things that make unbelievers anxious. We are called to live without fear, to live with faith that God's plan is the right plan, and He will equip us to carry out His work in this earth. But how many of us are actually living this way? That is our problem.

I wrote before about trying to figure out what my role is in orphan care. And as I was in the shower, I feel like God was telling me that the reason this is so confusing... the reason I don't know what it is that I am supposed to be doing... is because I haven't opened myself up to living radically. I'll be honest, when I've thought about my role in orphan care, what I really meant was which organization I should give my time and money to, or if there was a way that my training as a RN could be beneficial to orphans. But the needs are so great. What if God wants to call me to foster... to foster kids with medical needs... that would be pretty radical. What if God wants to call me to go and mentor young women who will soon be aging out of the system- for me, that would be pretty radical. What if God wants to call me to do something downright crazy and adopt a sibling group of teens from the waiting children domestically or internationally? That would be completely radical! Am I ready to say "yes" to what God is ready to call me to do? Am I ready to live radically?

I'll be honest: I'm not. And neither is John. Yet. But let's just pretend for a minute that we were part of a Body that had adoption/foster care as part of the culture. A church where those who were called to do something radical were supported and cared for financially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually? Where there was a group you could turn to and say "This is so hard! I can't do it!" and they would turn around and not only tell you that you can do all things through Christ, but come over and bring you dinner and clean your house and give you some respite? What if that culture of caring for orphans and widows was so "normal" that the announcement of planning to adopt or foster didn't bring 546 questions about the process, but instead triggered a caring response from the Body to love and support you through each step of the process, offering encouragement when times were hard, finances when it was expensive, helping hands when you were stretched too thin, knowledge and expertise when you were dealing with situations beyond your experience, love when you felt like you had given all you had... what if?

What if we did instead of said?

What if we, as the Body, lived radically?

What if I was radical?

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Photo Source

I am seriously jonesin' for this tote, mug, car decal, and t-shirt (over at the Minus 1 Project). Seriously, one of the best adoption t-shirts I have seen.

Photo Source

My girls got these t-shirt for Christmas from my sister, courtesy of Calling Orphans Home. Seriously cute. I wouldn't mind one of those either:)

What are your favorite adoption/orphan care fundraiser products?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Post-Adoption Guilt

Wow. This is another post that I am cautious in writing, because it is possibly going to ruffle some feathers. As always, I am writing with a spirit of honesty about my own struggles, not judging others.

Have any of you ever experienced guilt after giving birth to a child after completing an adoption? I don't know if I am explaining it right... Basically, I sometimes feel guilty for giving birth to another child, when I know there are so many children in the world (Ethiopia) that need families and who I would be more than willing to adopt. Don't misunderstand me; I know that John Andrew is the right child for our family right now, and moreover, I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to have a healthy and safe pregnancy and to have shared this experience with John and the girls. I love him immensely, and I cannot imagine a better baby.

But it doesn't take away from the feeling that we could have... or should have... adopted. (Although, since we just had our first wedding anniversary on the 26th of December, we actually couldn't have adopted since we didn't meet the 2 year marriage criteria, but I digress...)

I know that partially, these feelings stem from wanting to adopt again. I am not saying we are going to adopt again, but I would love to adopt again. It just may not be the right thing for our family. In that setting, still having a heart for orphans- especially those who are unadoptable- I am still trying to figure out my role in orphan care. As my husband's cousin said at our Christmas gathering... we are all called to care for orphans, so it's not a matter of if we are going to care for them, but rather how we are going to care for them. Adoption is a small piece of the how. But true orphan care is so much bigger than adoption. And I'm just not sure how I fit into that bigger picture of orphan care. I know my work with orphans isn't completed; adoption was not the end point for me- it was the beginning of a passionate love affair, to be honest.

I think part of the guilt is also related to the incredible expense of my pregnancy and birth, especially because of the complications/risks. That money (which, thankfully, was paid by insurance) would have been more than enough to complete an adoption (or 2- maybe 3.)

Another part may be that, truth be told, I didn't and still don't love the process of adoption... the paper chasing, the waiting, the uncertainty, the fears, the unknowns, the unpredictable nature of international adoption. In contrast, I loved being pregnant (except the heartburn.) I guess maybe I feel like knowing and expressing my joy in the pregnancy process somehow makes the adoption process seem less... fulfilling? or desirable? Which is silly, because while I am not sure I would want to be pregnant again, I would more than love to adopt again! I know this about myself- and I know that I don't view either adoption or pregnancy as "better" than the other, but I think the preference within myself leads to part of the guilt.

What do you think? Have you experienced this? Am I just crazy and hormonal?