I’ve had three posts go live this week, so rather than try to write some more words, I think I’ll just share the ones I’ve already labored over. So, without further ado…
She said the words softly, her voice halting as she looked forward out the front window. I leaned a little closer, trying to decode the sentence. My Russian is rusty, and though I understood each word, when strung together with the many grammar rules, I couldn’t quite figure out exactly what she was asking.
“What?” I asked. A single word in her tongue seemed to give her a little more confidence. She glanced at me out of the corner of her eye and took a deep breath.
“I will call you Mama?” she asked.
It took a minute for the words, and the meaning behind them, to sink in. She had only been with us for three days, so I worried that maybe I was still not fully understanding.
“You want to call me Mama?” I asked. She looked at me with glistening eyes and nodded.
“Is it okay?” she asked.
I nodded back, wordless not because I couldn’t find the words in Russian, but because the lump in my throat had blocked all sound.
Last Christmas we hosted a young girl in our home for one month. Through an organization called New Horizons for Children, we had the blessing of opening our home to “K,” a child who knew more heartache in her short 17 years than I likely will in my lifetime.
Abandonment. Death of a parent. Life in an institution. Loneliness and fear.
These are words that identified her past, but in our home, we had the privilege of telling her that she is loved, she is worthy, she has value on this earth, and she will always have an advocate.
I’ve been asked several times what I think about orphan hosting through programs such as New Horizons, and others like them, that bring children to the United States each summer and winter.
There are Pros and Cons, and I’d like to offer my thoughts on these hosting programs.
When I had my first child, everything shifted. I welcomed the shift, because as I held his warm body next to mine, I realized that the entire meaning of my life had now taken a new course. No one can really prepare you for that when you are expecting your first child. It’s simply something that happens. It’s a good thing.
t can also lead to an identity crisis.
Before having children, I operated in full freedom. Putting faith in action seemed so much easier then, because I could get up and go when I felt like I needed to. Add a child to the mix, however, and suddenly everything gets a little more complicated. It happened rather slowly. In fact, I didn’t even realize it was happening until many years later, when I had three children, all pulling at my feet and vying for my undivided attention.
“Mom, I have three different things I could do when I grow up, and I don’t how to decide.”
I suppressed a smile at the earnest concern in her voice. Genuine worry laced her eight year old face, and I pulled her close to me on the couch. This is the child who hates to make decisions. She’s so fearful of making the wrong decision that even breakfast can turn into an ordeal of tears if not handled with grace and patience.
“Well,” I said gently, “what are your options?”
“I want to be a gymnast’s coach, a soccer coach, or a doctor. But I also want to be a mom. How will I decide what to do?”
My first born ambled up at that point. He’s trapped in that phase right now between boy and man. He’s long and sinewy, all knees and elbows. He still dreams like a child, but I see the practicality creeping in.
“I’m going to be a missionary,” he says. “I want to help people who don’t have anything. Or…” he pauses, conflicted. “Well, I kind of want to be a professional golfer, too.”
They both look at me then, as though I will have all the answers to these life decisions that seem so important right now. Before the youthful freckles have faded, and the white blonde strands of hair darken into a more mature golden, they want to know the future. They want me to tell them what to do.
I’m writing at both Extraordinary Mommy and Mercy Found Ministries this week. I’d love to have you read along!
When my oldest was two years old, my husband and I planned a road trip to see family. I packed the car full of all measure of educational toys, books, crayons and paper, and other fun activities for the road. A friend had given me a portable DVD player, which I packed, but I scoffed at the idea of letting my child wile the hours away watching Elmo.
“I grew up reading and sitting quietly in a car!” I boldly proclaimed. “I didn’t need to be entertained by a mini-TV, and neither will my children!”
About five hours into our exciting family road trip, I was completely and totally exhausted. As our little angel kicked his legs and cried in frustration, my husband looked at me with raised eyebrows.
“You know,” he said. “You don’t have to be a matyr for motherhood. Technology isgood.“
I sighed, popped Elmo into the DVD player, and watched in amazement as my son grew mesmerized by the sights and sounds, then fell asleep for the remainder of the trip.
We’ve since added two more children to our brood, which means that road trips are a necessity if we want to see our family who all live sixteen hours away. I’ve even made the long trek home on my own with the kids in tow, and I’ve picked up a few tricks and tips along the way.
Two years ago, I sat at a table in a hotel in Tanzania with a small group of bloggers. It was our final night before departing to head home, back to our homes, our country, our lives that would all now feel a little too comfortable.
We were there on behalf of Compassion International, a team of writers meant to help raise awareness of the great work that Compassion does worldwide for children and families living in extreme poverty.
Our leader, Shaun Groves, told us the story of Everett Swanson, founder of Compassion Interntaional. Upon seeing the desperate orphan crisis in Korea during the Korean war, a missionary friend of Swanson’s asked him the simple, but poignant question – “Now that you know about it, what will you do?”
Compassion International is the living, thriving testimony of a man who could not go on as he had before.
Adoption is a unique ministry. You will see statistics floating around from time to time informing us of the fact that if every family inside the church were to adopt one child, there would, effectively, be no more orphan crisis around the world.
While it’s a nice, utopian idea, the fact is this is a useless argument. There will always be an orphan crisis, because we live in a broken world, comprised of broken people. While adoption is a beautiful ministry, it is one that is birthed out of brokenness.
Add to that the very real fact that not every family is called to adopt and raise a child in their home. This does not, however, excuse us from the responsibility to care for the fatherless.
This post is written to the parents who have walked the heartache of a terminated or disrupted adoption. It’s a unique situation to be in – a club no one wants to join. I want you to know today one very important thing:
Your grief is real, and it is valid.
Perhaps you’re right in the midst of this trial. Maybe it is something you experienced long ago. Either way, the loss of a child through a disrupted adoption leaves a lasting scar.
It’s a mark on the heart that heals, but never really leaves.
When our adoption was terminated, I struggled with exactly how to process it. I wondered if perhaps I was overreacting, if my emotions were displaced and over-dramatic. I feared that people saw me as whiny, and perhaps more emotional than necessary considering the fact that we had not even met the child we were hoping and praying to adopt.
For the most part, this inner strife was self-imposed. I didn’t have a string of insensitive remarks being flung my way to back these these feelings of inadequacy. This was my own struggle, and it gnawed at me for a long time.
Did I really deserve to be so sad over our failed adoption attempt?
I walked through those early days after it all fell apart in a fog. In fact, I can barely remember the month of January, 2013. It is very hazy. Grief does that – it clouds the mind, and shrouds the memory with a sense of heartache that you never really escape.
Every day, I was sure that the people around me rolled their eyes behind my back, ready for me to get over it and move on. I questioned God, trying to make some theological sense of our predicament.
Did we really lose a child, or was there never a child planned in the first place, since He is All-Knowing, and He knew from the beginning that we would not be able to complete the process?
My mind spun throughout the long, dark hours of the night, trying to break it all apart, to make some sense of it all. It was a “chicken or the egg” riddle without a clear-cut answer, and it made me crazy….
It’s been a busy week, and it’s only Wednesday! Sleep has eluded me for most of the week, which is why I think it’s felt longer than usual. Or maybe time is simply slowing down. It’s really hard to say for sure.
In any case, yesterday I had two posts up on different websites, and I wanted to share links to those posts here. Tomorrow I leave for Kansas City for a weekend away with dear friends, and this little getaway could not be coming at a better time.
I mentioned that I haven’t been sleeping, right?
My first post went live yesterday at Extraordinary Mommy. It came with a little bit of confusion when my bio did not originally post at the end of the article making it look like Danielle was announcing a surprise pregnancy, which made the morning slightly dramatic, and a little stressful in a totally humorous I MAY HAVE JUST STARTED A TERRIBLE RUMOR sort of way.
Thankfully we got it all sorted out, and we all had a hearty laugh afterward. Here’s an excerpt from the post:
It sounds terrible when I list out all the panic that has washed over us in the last six weeks as we’ve processed this new development in our lives. It’s not that we’re not excited, because we are – we’re just a little nervous. We were the young parents – the couple who would see their children all graduate and leave the nest before turning 50. Now I’ll be the “mature” mom at the Kindergarten round up, which in the grand scheme of life means nothing, I know, but it still feels a bit shocking.”
I also had a post up at Mercy Found Ministries discussing the struggle I feel when I see the crisis in Ukraine, and the knowledge that all adoptions that were in process in Crimea are now terminated. I feel the pain of those families affected deeply, and I wish there was more I could do. But my call right now is to simply be still and trust.
Trust is such an easy word to say. It rolls off the tongue so nicely, doesn’t it? It is a single, simple syllable, but the implications wrapped intrinsically throughout those letters are weighty and full. They swell with responsibility, with a depth of emotion and sacrifice that is more often than not difficult to grasp.