Maybe you shouldn’t adopt….

If you’ve read any of my past posts, you know I’ve struggled with my view of adoption. I have ultimately concluded that God loves adoption, but it will never be perfect. It was not the original plan for the family. God’s original plan would mean addictions, systematic poverty, abuse and neglect all cease to exist.

But unfortunately, we don’t live in a world where that is the reality. So adoption must exist.

However, you can’t love your child fully without loving their biological family. I’m going to say that again slower. You can’t love your child fully without loving their biological family.

Let me clarify. In our house we have 3 sets of parents total. One of these sets parent daily (J.O. and I), and 2 sets are parenting from behind the scenes. Never present in person, but always lurking in spirit. Two sets of these parents are what we consider unstable. Lack of funds, lack of education, lack of ability to ever tell the truth, lack of common sense, NOT a lack of addictions, etc. They are a melting pot of a whole lot of hot mess. And I used to take a much different approach. My approach was….if you ignore them, they don’t exist.

This approach was snotty at best, and hypocritical for sure. Then, my almost 8 year old became more vocal. I will never forget last spring break we went on a cruise to Mexico. The second she stepped off the boat in Cozumel, she asked me if her parents were there. She is basically waiting on the day for me to introduce her to them. There is a hole you can almost see that will not start to be filled until she meets them.

We recently started a journey with Henry’s parents that is uncharted territory to me. It all started with a documentary I watched on Netflix about prison. One thing it talked about was the need for people to have money on their prison cards.

It was fascinating to me how corrupt the system is that we are sending people to, in hopes of helping them not to be corrupt. But that’s a post for another day.

Anyway, I put money on his mom’s card and that has led to some phone conversations and who knows what else.

Now, I understand I don’t owe these parents anything. But, the truth is….Henry’s dad never had a chance. The second Henry entered foster care, it was like climbing up a mountain backwards, naked and blindfolded. And I was climbing right beside him but I had a rope, proper clothes, and a guide. I could navigate the mountain, had plenty of food and water, and people to help me when I got tired. He couldn’t win and there was a child at stake.

Do you have to maintain a relationship with birth parents when you adopt? No. And a lot of times it’s best. We don’t have contact with the girls parents at this time and it’s the right choice. But, if you adopt do you need to love the other parents involved? YES.

Sometimes this love means the best choice is having a relationship. Will it be sticky? Of course? Will it be perfect? Of course not. But neither is adoption. Just don’t start this journey thinking you can completely keep your child oblivious to their past. If you think that…..adoption might not be for you.

Sometimes the only thing making a difference between my mountain climb and theirs, is a rope.

You are not that powerful….

I’m in the middle of some tough talks with our two older kids. The oldest one “knows” pretty much everything and the 10 year old is quickly learning. It has made for some very awkward conversations around my house. Unfortunately for me, I am actually the least awkward parent, so most of these conversations end up in my lap.

We were discussing something the other day and Addison asked if we should get dad. Trey quickly yelled, “no…he will just make it even more weird.” so I was left fending the hard questions. This is no surprise if you know both of us, but still. It can get brutal sometimes.

Recently, Addison and I were talking and she asked me what would happen if her and Trey did a certain something. She picked out a scenario and wanted to know if we would still love them. It shocked me that she would even consider that and I said, “of course.” I told her there was nothing she could do that would take away our love. I told her we may not agree with decisions, etc but we would always be there for her.

In true 10 year old fashion, that completely satisfied her and she went on about her business of listening to Harry Potter. But, I kept thinking about it. And while what I said was completely true, do we really act like it’s the truth?

Stick with me. It’s hard not to wrap our self worth up completely in our kids. How they act, how they dress, how they talk, etc. Just last night, we bought 3 of our kids Wicked tickets and they acted like the ungrateful kids they can be. And it really irritated me. I found myself embarrassed and completely regretting my decision to buy a couple of them a ticket.

But, when the show began, they acted amazed and enthralled like I knew they would. All was right in the world. Their behavior matched my expectations and mama was happy.

But, what happens when that behavior doesn’t match our expectations? When things look so differently for our kids than we thought they would? I was talking to someone one time and she said something I will never forget. This mom had to grieve the life she thought her child would have. And that is okay to do.

If my life rises and falls on my children, I am in for a rough ride. If my self worth comes from the behavior of my children, I will be depressed a lot. If I spend my time obsessing over my children and what their future looks like, I will get little else done.

I was talking to a mom one time, and she was obsessing over messing something up. Without really thinking, I told her, “you are not that powerful.” And it’s the truth. We really aren’t. These kids are entrusted to us, and we have to do the best we can. We surround them in love, teach them how to care, and point everything they do back to Christ.

But there comes a point when you realize life may not turn out how you thought it would. I never dreamed J.O. and I would alternate sleeping with a child every night (and their biology can only be blamed on us), yet here we are. Living the dream.

Teach your kids the hard things. Answer the hard questions. But, love the way you’ve been loved in Christ. Praise God He doesn’t walk away from us when we embarrass Him. Or act differently than He would like. Or make terrible choices. Or I would be alone. A lot.

$1 Because Jesus Loves You….

We recently headed to Texas over Christmas break to see J.O.’s sister and spend some time with family. It was a bit stressful to head out the day after Christmas, but I ended up being thrilled we went. It was fun to watch the kids together and we always enjoy catching up with his sister and brother in law.

On the way home, we stopped at Jason’s Deli to eat lunch. Now, you should know something about us when we travel. We don’t mess around. We are always trying to get home for something. This time, it was to pick up Henry, and our dogs. We left very early that morning and our attire and tired faces reflected that. We looked less than stellar. So our stop at lunch was interesting to say the least. We probably should’ve eaten somewhere like McDonalds, but Jason’s Deli is somewhere we all agree on. The kids ONLY eat there for the free ice cream, but that still makes it a favorite.

We headed into this small town Jason’s and everyone in there had church clothes on. I mean everyone. And they all knew each other and we stood out like a sore thumb. It didn’t bother me at all, I just noticed it immediately. And obviously so did others. Towards the end of our meal, an older lady came over and gave the kids $1 and told them Jesus loves them. Our girls didn’t miss a beat and got super excited for the money, and Addison immediately said back….”well, Jesus loves you too.”

After she left, it hit Addison. She said….”oh, is this because we look like we haven’t been to church.” It surprised me that she picked up on that, but I just said maybe and went on eating my meal. I started thinking about it later. No doubt, this is something she has been encouraged to do. How do I know this? Because if you grew up in the church at all, you have been told to do the same. I will never forget doing this as a part of my youth group challenge. I gave $1 to the Sonic carhop and told her “Jesus loved her.”

Can this be an effective evangelistic tool? Maybe. But, it certainly can’t be our main “go to”. In fact, in certain situations I would argue this causes more harm than good. Refraim it a bit….basically, I am going to give you money to show you Christ’s love. Sucks to be you, but I’ve got $5/$10 to spare and don’t think twice about giving it out. Now, obviously this is exaggerated. Small acts of kindness are awesome and can often go a long way. But, why do we feel the need to make ourselves feel better about telling of Christ’s love by attaching money to it.

This past week, Trey had someone join his friends group chat that started cursing them out. No doubt it was for the shock factor of a new kid trying to shake things up. He was quickly removed from the group and they all started trying to figure out who it was. I actually found out from another parent and told Trey. Trey told me he wasn’t going to tell the kids in the chat, because he didn’t want them mad at this boy or judging him. He indicated the kid had some problems at another school, but Trey had never heard him curse like this. He wanted to give him a chance and thought he was likely just showing out.

Now, Trey could’ve immediately gone back to the chat and ratted this kid out and it would’ve been justified. He was being very rude and the kids had a right to know. But he didn’t. I don’t know where this kid will be long term, but to me that goes a lot further than handing someone a dollar and walking off. Be kind in a restaurant, sure. Open doors, pay for a coffee, pull out a chair, give someone money when prompted, and by all means tell people Jesus loves them.

But, when Jesus becomes something we think we have to bribe others to hear about, we probably need to rethink our motives.