Love at First “Adopted” Sight….

No doubt, most of you have seen the precious girl on Facebook talking about the first time she met her adopted parents. She made this cute little symbol over her heart, and talked about how her heart loved her parents the moment she saw them.

It’s extremely cute. And very obvious why that thing went viral. I wanted to scoop her up myself and carry her around on my hip. The skeptical part of me wonders how long this took to capture? Seriously, was mom holding up a white board with words? Or had they practiced? I mean, I like to think we are a funny and cute family, but when I start recording my kids they typically start singing about poop.

She communicated so clearly, and it seemed to be the perfect “idea” of adoption. The one we all want to see. Which is likely why people kept sharing it. We want to think of adoption this way. It’s so much easier and less messy.

The reality is, fostering/adopting is much different. For a 4 year old that walks into my home for the first time, there may be a very strong maternal instinct that kicks in. And it says, “I am going to protect this child with every ounce of my being, and I pity the person who gets in the way.” It’s why foster parents inadvertently tick off DHS workers all the time. We are working under a maternal instinct that others don’t have for this child. But it may feel different than love.

Here is the ugly truth about adoption: It’s okay if a 4 year old didn’t meet you, and love you, in their heart immediately. Or maybe they did, but they’ve still never articulated it perfectly. It’s okay if you adopted a teen and that teenager STILL won’t call you mom. It’s okay if you adopted a newborn, and bonded way faster than when you adopted an older child. It’s okay if your adoption failed and you still blame yourself.

We’ve adopted young children. Whom I love with that deep kind of love that makes you so vulnerable. In every sense of the word, we have a fairytale adoption. My children were infants, or toddlers, and being mom was natural. But, it’s not always that way. And it may not always be that easy for us. And man, we hate to talk about that part.

To the adoptive and foster moms out there who don’t think they can do one more day. You can. To the moms out there feeling guilty because it wasn’t “love at first sight”, like my friend Christina likes to say, you are doing great. To the moms who saw this video and wondered what was wrong with you, you aren’t alone.

Adoption is great. And messy. And not perfect. And hard. And more times than not, our children don’t “love us in their hearts.” In fact, they can’t stand us. They want to punch us. They want to run away. They want their “real” mom. Or “real” dad. But that doesn’t make you a failure. It doesn’t make you less than a mother.

You are more than worthy. You are currently in the palm of a God who loves you even when you don’t understand or feel it. You are sought after and set apart. And even when things don’t turn out the way you thought….He isn’t surprised. And He is there to pick you up, dust you off, and help you try again.

Last night, I was yelling at my dear 10 year old when I realized my son was on video chat with his quiz bowl team. They were likely listening to our crazy, instead of naming Presidents, (or whatever it is quiz bowl kids do). So, I immediately dialed down the crazy and hoped for the best. All that to say this… may not have a cute video of a child telling you they love you. Your videos may actually contain more cursing than cute, but know this…….you are so loved. And you are killing this mom thing.

Does God Love Adoption?

Several few months ago, I found myself in a Facebook group that is pretty anti-adoption. The group probably started with good intentions. It was started to educate people about how adoption really affects everyone. Adoption is not all sunshine and rainbows. It’s really not. And for that…..the group was good for me.

However, as time went on, I found myself becoming a little more like them. I was becoming pretty skeptical about adoption in general. Which is funny, since 3 of my children are a result of adoption. I found myself feeling guilty that my kids were with me. I started wondering if I should’ve just invited the bio families to move in and cared for all of them. Honestly, it became quite ridiculous.

The truth is, I was listening to a few voices that controlled the group. It’s kinda like only seeing a family in Facebook pictures. We choose not to show what we don’t want others to see. Not to mention, these ladies were not looking through the eyes of a believer. In fact, not only were they not believers, they were pretty anti-Christian.

Last weekend, I went to a retreat with other foster and adoptive moms. It’s always a great time to relax, eat well, and catch up with friends. Not to mention, it’s the only place where we have the “smaller” family. 5 kids is the norm, not the exception.

However, several times this weekend I was thinking about God and adoption. Comments were made like: “God knew I needed this child.” or “God chose this child for me.” and I know why this was said. When we are in impossibly hard situations, it is so comforting to know we are still in the palm of God’s hand. Even if we don’t understand. Or, agree. Or, if it makes us mad. Or, if we don’t really believe it….

I found myself wrestling with what I truly believe about God and adoption. I’ve been reading articles, looking up Scripture, and staying away from the crazy Facebook page. And here is what I have determined……

God LOVES these children. More than we could ever imagine. He loves them so much, I am convinced the church will be held accountable for our lack of urgency in this area. However, I think this looks differently than I envisioned. My initial view of adoption, was simply the obvious choice over abortion. Black and white, really. However, it’s more than that. For the church to really get this right, there are so many things that need to change.

Women need to stop feeling shamed for terrible decisions. When Jesus met the woman at the well, her life was so changed (for the better), that she immediately ran back to her village and told everyone she met. Now, I’m no Bible scholar, but I have to think the first men she met at the village gates, weren’t the most impressed with her. They probably judged her like the rest of the people. However, that didn’t stop her. What she had encountered with Jesus was worth MORE than any ridicule or judgement they might pour on her. Imagine if our Jesus had the same effect, because others saw the change in us? Maybe abortion wouldn’t seem to be the only choice anymore? Maybe families could be changed?

Adoption is so messy. It really is. As a church we have to start embracing families. Of all kinds. There will always be families that end up broken and children are adopted as a result. But, I have to think that if our church had more community within communities……maybe more families could make it.

Adoption is a strong theme throughout the Old and New Testament. Sure, it looked different. It looked more like Moses in a basket in the Nile, and less like a postcard in front of a courthouse. But, I think I have to conclude this….

God loves us. So much that He sent His son to die for us. So that we could be adopted into His family. No matter what our past consists of. No matter what scars we have. No matter what hurts we carry. No matter what. Period.

So does God love adoption? Yes. I think He loves when we extend to others, what He extended to us. In a fallen world with broken and hurting people, adoption has been given as a way to restore children into families. Was it God’s original plan for the family? Of course not. But praise God, He made a way. He knew we would mess up.

If He feels this way, shouldn’t we all? The answer is yes. Foster care and adoption is not an option as Christ followers. It’s a command. Because if you love God, you love what He loves. And He loves adoption.

Grace and Justice

Henry recently learned a new trick. He has learned to wiggle his tiny little arms out of the carseat. He is typically quite proud of himself when he accomplishes this task. He immediately turns around to face me and starts waving. Then, he will start the dance of trying to reach the light above him in the car. This will go on until I can pull over and shove his arms back in while he is yelling.

This morning I realized, it’s not going to stop. I’m gonna need to figure out a way to prevent this from happening because soon he is going to tumble out sideways. I can tell him “no” or “sit down” or ” stop” and he’s just going to look at me thrilled because half of his body is free. I read online that one mom would pull over on the side of the road until her kids would buckle back up. I’m not sure what kind of time this mom had, but I’ve never heard of a schedule being so relaxed you could actually sit on the side of the road until kids decide to obey. Amazing.

I was thinking about this today and realized how my parenting has changed with Henry. This situation doesn’t stress me out. At all. In fact, I actually found myself waving back this morning. What in the world? Why am I encouraging this? But it was just so cute. Not to mention, he just started waving a few months ago so who I am to squash this newly acquired skill. Before long, I will be high fiving him when he crosses to the front. Who knows.

Seriously though, I do have much more grace for Henry because in all honesty, he really doesn’t understand why this is wrong. Toddlers are notorious for doing what they want, but Henry does whatever makes him happy with little care or thought to consequences. In fact, it’s hard to get him to understand why consequences even exist for him. I often feel so badly when he is melting down because of a transition. For instance, he hates to get out of the bath. No matter what I say, it throws him for a loop every time. We have a visual timer, countdown, etc but in his little world I have snatched him from a lifetime of fun.

But, that doesn’t mean he can stay in the bath forever. Or be unsafe in the car. Or bite me when he is mad. But my reaction looks different. I certainly don’t yell because he’s throwing a fit. That would honestly just be mean. Who knows what he would be thinking in that tiny head of his. It would be like a mom yelling at a baby in an infant carrier for crying. So, I extend grace. But all the while ensuring justice is served. It’s a fine line. I don’t let him sleep in the bathtub, I don’t let him bite his sisters, I don’t let him hit the dog, I don’t let him get out of the carseat, etc.

I discipline on his level. With grace. But I also make sure he is safe and some sort of obedience happens. After baths, I know getting his diaper on will be a battle. So, I have Baby Shark ready to go. Or a sibling waiting to help and distract. Grace is extended, but his bottom still ends up covered. Thank the Lord.

No doubt, most of you have seen the video circulating of Botham Jean’s brother hugging the police officer that killed his brother. It was an amazing testimony of God’s grace and love in someone’s life. You can’t fake forgiveness like that. However, there is still a mom fighting for awareness and accountability. There is still a mom working to ensure this is not another person’s fate.

This is going to make some of you nervous: Let’s be careful not to use grace as an excuse for not getting involved. It was the love God has for us, and the grace He extended, that took Jesus to the cross. He decided to take on our sins and die, so we could live. Grace is what gave that young man the ability to hug the person who prematurely took his brothers life. It was grace that allowed him to say he didn’t desire prison for her.

It’s grace that allows me to desire restoration in the life of Henry’s mom. It’s grace that allows me to pray for her, cry for her, and wish she could walk away from a life of addiction. But make no mistake about that grace….it doesn’t condone her actions. It doesn’t stop me from wishing she didn’t drink while pregnant. Or make me upset that Henry still gets so easily sick, because she smoked her entire pregnancy. I long to see reform and be a part of the change. But, if she showed up at my door today I would hug her. And tell her the most important thing she could do would be to come to know Christ. Because that is what grace looks like.

Psalm 33:5 “The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of His unfailing love.”

Welcome to our new blog….

I finally bit the bullet and changed my blog up a little. In fact, I actually went to an entirely new website because I couldn’t do anything else with blogger. I will still keep blogger for a family record, but it was time for a change.

I hope to keep this as a running record of things I am not only passionate about, but also as a family journal. I love looking back over our blog and facebook to see how far our little family has come. Hope you enjoy!!