Dave Thomas Foundation

You may know of the name Dave Thomas from the fast-food chain Wendy’s, but you may not be aware of the work Dave did to promote the plight of children in the US foster care system who need adoption.  Dave was the owner of Wendy’s and was extremely passionate about adoption.

Dave was adopted when he was 6 months old.  He spent a lot of time with his adoptive grandmother who was an incredible support and influence in his life.  He never knew his birth mother.

Dave founded the Dave Thomas Foundation.  This foundation promotes the adoption of children out of the foster care system.  The foundation also has influenced many initiatives and promoted adoption benefits for employees.  At one point, Dave was a national spoke person for adoption.  Dave passed away in 2002, but his care for children in the foster care system is not forgotten.

The website Dave Thomas Foundation has a variety of information on it regarding the great need for adoption of children out of the US foster care system.  Check it out!

Four Years of Firsts

My girl, Happy 4th Birthday to You!  I didn’t know about you the day you were born.  I wasn’t there to welcome you into the world, and to see you take your first breath of Earthly air.  I didn’t greet your sweet face with a gasp of joy.  My arms were not the first ones to hold you.  I didn’t hear your first cry or witness the doctor say how precious you were.  I didn’t feed you your first bottle, change your first diaper, or pick out your first garment.  I didn’t lock you safely in your car seat and drive you home to your first crib.  Our home was not your first one, but our family is yours forever.

1st birthday!

Your first year was so special.  I celebrated your first taste of real food, your first embraces, your first steps, your first words, and, of course, your first birthday.  I cared for your first boo-boos and scared away your first fears.  I bought several pink outfits for the first time.  There were many firsts that you only had with me.  No, I wasn’t there for your first breath of Earthly air, but I was there for your first year.

2nd birthday!

Your second year came so quickly.  I listened as your vocabulary took off and saw how your shy spirit took a backseat to your ever-emerging confident self.  I noticed that your first friend was your brother.  You were not quite two when our adoption was finalized.  I penned your new name for the first time!  I took you on your first “girl’s day” shopping spree, and tucked you into your first big girl bed.  No, I wasn’t there for your first breath of Earthly air, but I was there for your second year.

3rd birthday!

Year three seemed to fly by so fast.  You learned to dress yourself, and I laughed at some of your first outfits you pulled together.  I took you to your first dentist appointment and applauded at how well you brushed your teeth.  You and I squealed with excitement at your first tube ride behind papa’s boat.  I noticed how quickly you learned to spell your name for the first time.  I was amazed at how easily you seemed to pick up on your first numbers and other preschool lessons.  I took you to your first dance recital, and wiped tears away while watching you twirl on the stage.  No, I wasn’t there for your first breath of Earthly air, but I was there for your third year.

Here we are at the start of another year of life together.  How many firsts will we discover this year?  I may not have been there to watch you take your first breath of Earthly air, but I am here now.  We are here now.  I love you so much daughter, and thank the Lord for gracing us with the blessings of you and your four years of firsts.

4th birthday!

John 14:18 (HIS children)

I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.

-John 14:18

I was talking in church several years ago to a woman who had spent some time in children’s ministry.  Through the years she had ministered to many hurting children.  An issue that always seems to affect and burden children are when their fathers are absent in their lives.  By all means, I believe that many single women do a wonderful and fantastic job of raising children.  My grandmother raised my mother, and several siblings, after the death of my grandfather.  However, there is something special about the relationship with a father.

In my experience, children long for their fathers.  They want to have a decent, healthy relationship and to at least know they are loved.  The former children’s minister seemed to always have the right words to say to children who mourned their absent fathers.  She said to them, “You may not have an Earthly father by your side, but your Heavenly Father will never leave you and loves you more than anything.”

When I read the verse above, of course, my mind goes to adoption.  Children who were once fatherless are given the joy of having Earthly fathers through adoption.  I also believe that this Scripture verse is a promise to all of us.  We will not be left as orphans.  He has promised His love for all of us.  The Lord loves every human being on Earth.  We are HIS children, and He will not abandon us!

Have a super Sunday~

Legacy of An Adopted Child

Once there were two women who never knew each other
One you do not remember, the other you call mother.

Two different lives shaped to make yours one
One became your guiding star, the other became your sun.

The first gave you life, the second taught you to live it
The first gave you a need for love, the second was there to give it.

One gave you a nationality, the other gave you a name
One gave you the seed for talent, the other gave you an aim.

One gave you emotions, the other calmed your fears
One saw your first smile, the other dried your tears.

One gave you up, it was all that she could do
The other prayed for a child and was led straight to you.

And now you ask me through your tears
the age old question through the years,

“Heredity or environment, which am I the product of?”

Neither my darling, neither,
Just two different kinds of Love.

-Author Unknown

This is another poem about adoption that I love.  My heart leaps just a bit and I got a little emotional when I read the last line.  My children’s birth mothers did not choose adoption, as is the case of most foster care adoptions.  However, I would never deny the importance of their roles in who my children are.  

I’m so thankful to be called mom.  I cannot imagine giving birth to a child and not being in the child’s life.  I have such respect and empathy for the birth mothers who have chosen adoption for their babies.  I also feel great empathy and compassion for the birth mothers who did not choose adoption and whose children were taken away by protective services.  I think that birth mothers who choose life and make a plan for adoption are often the unsung heroes.  So, thank you birth mothers.  Thank you for choosing life and for the selfless sacrifice you made when you chose adoption.

Much More

Adoption: The act of transferring parental rights and duties to someone other than the adopted person’s biological parents. (Concise Encyclopedia/Merriam Webster)

I ran across this definition of adoption when doing some research.  It seems so simple; too simple.  It doesn’t take into account the emotion, waiting, persistence, patience, grief, giving, receiving, love, and joy that travel along the way towards adoption, and it certainly doesn’t describe life held after adoption.  It is so much more than just transferring parental rights.

Adoption is hope.  It is commitment.  It is patience.  It is waiting.  It is grief.  It is joy.  It is giving.  It is love.  It is receiving.  

I gave myself away to my children before they were legally mine.  I did not wake up the morning of their adoptions and discover new-found love based on transfer of parental rights.  I dreamed of them.  I yearned for them.  I grieved for them.  My soul grasped for them.  My imagination sculpted them.  Truthfully speaking, I loved them before I even met them.

In return, I received so much more than the legal status of being called mom.  I have been given the chance to push a little harder to make the world better for them.  I have been awarded the opportunity to imprint their lives with love.  I have received living, breathing, laughing joy.

I have received those moments of feeling full well the Lord’s penmanship of my life. I see the Lord in my children’s eyes.  I feel Him in their embrace.  I hear Him in their wonder of the world.  I still remember being that girl who didn’t know when or if I would ever be healed from the pain of barrenness.  I still think about her and who she used to be.  I still grieve at times for what she went through and for the pain she carried through the years.  But then….I look at my children, feel His presence, and know full well that I am healed.

Adoption deserves so much more than a legalistic definition.  It is defined by the path that one walks – whether birth parent, adoptive parent, or adopted child.  It is shaped by the loss along the way.  It is refined by the waiting.  It is colored by the emotion and highlighted by the joy.  It is enhanced from the giving, and humbled by the receiving.  It is love in action, hope in process, and life lived in the full awareness of Him.

Yes…adoption is so much more.

Stop Bragging

This is post #15 of National Adoption Month!  I thought I would pass along a short, but sweet story told to me by an elderly lady when she heard that my children were adopted.  Here it is….

There was a little girl and her mother at the grocery store.  The little girl kept running up to people and saying “I’m adopted!  I’m adopted!”  After doing this for quite some time, her mother said to her, “Sweetie, stop bragging.”

I don’t know about you, but it made me smile the first time I heard it.  Adoption really is something quite sacred, special, and worthy of bragging about!

Have a blessed day!

Real Mom

The other day my son said something to me that stopped me in my tracks.  He was mad at me for getting on to him about needing to clean his room when he said, “You’re not my real mom.”  Whoa…I felt that gut-wrenching, knife in the heart, floor dropping out from under me twinge of pain.  After he said it, I sat down next to him and looked at him.  He had that look of confusion mixed in with a little sadness and anger.

I asked him, “Sweetie, what do you mean?”  Nothing…nothing but staring off at the TV screen.  “Honey, please help me understand what you mean.  Do you mean that I’m not your real mom because I didn’t give birth to you like your birth mother did?”  Silence.  Then finally, he looked at me and said, “You are not my real mom because you tell me what to do and you always get me in trouble.”  I have to admit that I was a little more relieved with his explanation, but still bothered.  I told him that he gets in trouble when he disobeys, and my job as his mom is to tell him what to do sometimes.  I also told him that we are his real parents and that we love him more than anything.  He looked at me and said, “Okay, but you’re still not my real mom.”  My mind was racing with how to handle this.  I grabbed the basket of laundry and used it as an excuse to escape off to our room to silently and quickly allow myself to exhale, gather my thoughts, and hold back the tears that were wanting to escape.

I returned to the living room and noticed that he went on with his after-school routine of building Legos, drawing, and eating a snack.  From time to time though, he looked at me and studied my face.  I kept it all together.  I acted as if nothing was wrong and that his words had not bothered me.  We went on with the rest of the afternoon like usual.  Later on in the evening, my son was quite clingy.  He wanted me to hold him, lay by him on the couch, snuggle, etc.  I took him up on the offer, and wondered if his words were still on his mind as well.

When I told my husband what was said, he responded “Caroline, you have to expect this.  If he knows it bothers you, then he will use it in the future when he is mad about something.  He was probably just testing you out to see how you would respond.”  My husband was right.  I do expect both of my children to refer to their birth parents as their “real” parents at some time during their lives.  I expect them to have a lot of questions about their birth family histories, how they ended up in our home, and anything else that has to do with adoption.  I guess I just didn’t expect it so soon, and I certainly didn’t expect it to hurt so much.

I don’t even know where my son got the term “real mom”, or why he would say this.  I know he was mad at me, but he had never said anything like that to me before.  Perhaps someone said something to him at school.  Maybe he overheard someone else talking about this.  Or perhaps, he is just starting to really process and learn how to navigate his own world of adoption.  Maybe he has a fantasy version of his birth mother, and in that fantasy she would never “get on to him”, put him in time-out, or make him clean his room.  I don’t know, but it reminded me that adoption is extremely complex and there are layers within it.  One certainly needs to have “thick-skin”!

One thing though that has been laid on my heart since all of this took place is that my husband and I need to be mindful of the adoption language we use around the home and in the community.  We need to be there to answer any and ALL questions our children have even if it makes us uncomfortable.  We need to not perceive questions about birth parents as a threat to who were are and the relationship we have with our children.

And, we need to keep in mind that we are their real parents.  We are a real family.  We get on to each other.  We discipline the kids when they are being disobedient.  We lose our tempers at times.  We get frustrated at times.  We are not perfect.  But, if we were perfect, didn’t lose our tempers, didn’t get frustrated, didn’t discipline, and didn’t get on to each other, then we would not be real at all.

The Adoption Creed

2009

Not flesh of my flesh,
Nor bone of my bone,
But still Miraculously my own.

Never forget for a single minute,
You did not grow under my heart,
But in it.

-Fleur Conkling Heyliger

This is another well-known poem about adoption.  I did not carry my children in my body.  I carried them in my prayers, hopes, dreams, tears, imagination, and heart.

Legacy of Adoption

Here’s another story of adoption!

Sheridan and Julian

In love He destined us for adoption to Himself – Ephesians 1:5

It was inevitable that Kenny and Allison would end up being adoptive parents.  Both were adopted as little ones, and it just seemed that adoption was the path their lives would take.  After struggling with infertility (they did eventually give birth to a baby girl), they decided together that they would pursue becoming foster/adoptive parents.  They believed strongly that they had much love to give to a child in need.

They decided to adopt out of the foster care system after researching the financial aspects of adoption.  In most cases, there are no legal fees attached to the adoption of children out of the system in the United States.  Some of their concerns about adopting out of foster care were not knowing all the information regarding a child’s background and medical history.  Also, the child’s history of abuse and neglect should always be taken into consideration when exploring foster care adoption.  Their daughter, Sheridan, was only 3-years-old at the time and was very excited about becoming a big sister.  Kenny and Allison had to keep her in mind when considering children in the system who were in need of adoption.

They were licensed in 2005 and matched with Julian in April of 2006.  He was 18-months-old at the time of placement into their home.  They had considered other children, but decided not to pursue them.  This, according to Allison, was one of the hardest parts of the process.  She found herself thinking, “Who was I to decide which children to pursue or not due to their family history?”

Julian, now 8-years-old, is described as being a “rough and tumble” Momma’s boy. He is happy, loving, and very inquisitive about how things work in the world.  His background leans to him being impulsive and having some challenging behaviors.  Allison is a special education teacher and admits that it is hard to parent a child with special needs.

They have learned though that advocating for Julian’s needs is a priority and not to compare him to their daughter.  Sheridan is a gifted, respectful, and well-mannered young lady.  Others may expect Julian to be just like his sister, but Kenny and Allison recognize that their children had very different starts to life.  With that being said, their children have many similarities and are brother and sister through and through.

Their family joke is that their daughter Sheridan is the only living being in the house who is not adopted.  They even adopted their dog!  It is evident that the Lord ordained adoption for the lives of Kenny and Allison from the very beginning as babies who were adopted to their journey as parents now.  They too are passing along the blessed legacy of adoption to their children and have played a vital role in giving one little boy a family and love that will last a lifetime.

Isaiah 1:17 – defending the cause

Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. – Isaiah 1:17

Couldn’t be more clear!  I love this verse and hope that I will pass along these directives to my children through words and actions.  I fear believers in Christ sometimes judge the oppressed, forget the orphans, and disregard widows.  Doing so bleeds right into injustice and does not show the goodness that is found in a Christ-filled life.

In my opinion, this verse speaks the essence of Christianity and the belief in a loving Heavenly Father who will always be the Father to the fatherless.

Have a beautiful Sunday!