Children Are Worth It

 

Bailey Family 2015-3b&w

Photo Credit:  Freedom Photography

 

I just can’t even tell you how much I love these kids. There are not enough words in my somewhat limited vocabulary that express how rich, deep, authentic and pure my love is for them. They came into my life without expectations. I didn’t care what race or gender they were, or what their histories consisted of. No expectations, just hopeful anticipation.

It took me a while (like twenty-five years since the age that barrenness interrupted my life) to hold a baby and feel that smothering, warm and wonderful feeling of motherhood. Sure, I was a foster mother. Sure, my first baby could have left. Oh, but that feeling…that moment when your soul is completely eclipsed by a love that has not been felt before.

There are moments when I forget that huge mountain of barrenness that once blocked my path. In my frustrations with busyness, struggles with strong-willed children, and just plumb tiredness, I forget how far and how hard the uphill walk was to motherhood.

But…when I look at my children now, I can declare,

“That mountain was thrown into the sea!

That mountain crumbled!

That mountain is no more.

That mountain has been conquered, and praise God for that!”

Honestly, I do not miss the mountain, but I appreciate it. I recognize that barrenness caused immense pain. I fully understand that illness created physical, emotional, and spiritual angst. I know the body is far more vulnerable than the soul.

Infertility and barrenness are hard. Adoption and foster parenting are hard. Raising kids with extra needs is hard. However, all of the “hardness” of it melts away when you realize that your children (however they come to you) are meant to be yours. Don’t give up, friends.

Children are worth it.

 

Kids These Days (or so, they say)

A few months ago, I listened as a gentleman of a different and older generation say, “I feel sorry for those of you raising kids in today’s world.”  His words, although meant to be sympathetic, sort of frustrated me a bit.  I keep seeing on social media and hearing through conversations that children these days are just “doomed”.  They are spoiled.  They want immediate action.  They are not being raised “right”…whatever that means.

Essentially, there is no hope for the younger generation…or so, they say.

Last week, I was a guest speaker at a local Vacation Bible School.  I spoke to around 200+ children from ages four to thirteen.  My topic was about what they can do to help foster children in their communities.  The four-year-old’s through Kindergarten ages just did not quite understand what I was talking about, so we decided it would be more fun to sing songs.  Besides, that’s way more fun, anyway!  Right?  After we were done, this little sweet-pea of a girl around the age of four came up to me and said, “We can give books to babies who don’t have them.”  Oh, be still, my heart.

The eighth-grade boys…well…yeah.  Let’s just say I’m SO looking forward to my son being in the eighth grade.  NOT.  Major kudos to those of you who teach this age group!  Don’t get me wrong.  They were respectful, but you know…a little “too cool for school”.

The first through seventh graders were listening with intent.  When asked what they could do to help out children in foster care, they offered, “Help find them a home”, “Invite them to church”, “Tell them about Jesus”, “Give them a Bible”, and “Be nice and be their friend.”  Children as young as the first grade were suggesting these things.

Afterward, I thought about the words of the older gentleman and his worries for those of us raising kids in today’s society.  I also thought about the different editorial posts floating around Facebook and other social media forums that suggest that children of today do not have a chance.  Call me an idealist, but I disagree.

Sure, life is vastly different that it was in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s.  I was a young girl in the 70’s, in Junior High and High School in the 80’s, and a college student in the early 90’s (which, by the way, was awesome).  Life is different now than it was during these time periods, but you know what is not different?

LOVE.

FRIENDSHIP.

GENEROSITY.

COURAGE.

COMPASSION.

CURIOSITY.

OPPORTUNITIES TO MESS UP.

OPPORTUNITIES TO MAKE IT RIGHT.

EMPATHY.

THE NEED TO CONNECT.

THE DESIRE TO DO GOOD.

Just a few days ago, my daughter told me that for one of her birthdays she wants to ask people to give gifts to homeless children and families, instead of her.  Let that soak in a bit.

If my little sampling of children from Vacation Bible School and my daughter’s expression of what she wants to do are a reflection of “kids these days”, then I dare say, they are going to be just fine.  So, please stop saying that children growing up in today’s society are doomed.

Quit judging us parents.  We are doing the best we can (just like you were when you were raising kids).  I am raising three children in today’s society.  They struggle with various issues, but let me say, THEY ARE GOOD CHILDREN.  They might misbehave from time to time, but they know right from wrong, and they have hearts that desire to seek friendship and to help others.

For the love of children, please stop thinking that all kids are just spoiled or misbehaved or don’t care about their fellow-man.  I mean, come on.  IF they are this way, then really, who should we be blaming?

If you think today’s generation of children is not going to turn out okay, what are you doing to help?  Can I offer you a few suggestions?

  • Help a young family that is struggling.
  • Tutor kids at the local school.
  • Teach a Sunday school class.
  • Volunteer at the local Boy’s and Girl’s Club.
  • Work with at-risk kids.
  • Invite the neighborhood kids and parents over for dinner.
  • Donate gift cards and other items to families in need.
  • Love on that single mama doing the best she can.
  • Encourage that daddy who is working two jobs to make the bills and put food on the table.
  • Become a reading buddy to sick children in the hospital.
  • Pray for families, children, and the world.

I can go on and on, but I suspect that you get the point.  Or, at least I hope you do.

Please, stop saying that kids these days are not measuring up to what you think they should be.  I, for one, refuse to believe this.  If you spend any amount of quality time with a young child, I dare say, you will be amazed.  They are not doomed.  They are just beginning to sprout their wings into this vast world.  They are learning about the world around them. Sure, there are things they face and deal with that we may not have as children, but still, the world has a lot of beauty in it.  Let’s make sure we show this to them.

Our young generation will be the next teachers, parents, doctors, pastors, political leaders, chefs, scientists, explorers, artists, engineers, and caregivers.

For my children and for yours, 

or the teenage boy who helps his disabled mother raise his younger siblings,

or the child who sells lemonade on her street to raise money for others,

or the young person who visits the elderly lady down the street because she is lonely,

or the boy who sticks up to the bully at school….

why would you think they are simply not adding up or are “doomed”?  

After all, children are our future…

Give that a thought.

 

 

 

Home Is Where Your Story Begins (sort of)

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“Home is where your story begins…”

This is the sign that is hanging on a wall covered by the artwork of my children. I’ve had it since our oldest was a baby.  Today, my daughter looked at the wall, and said, “That’s not really true, you know.” I said, “What’s not true?” She said, “Home is where your story begins. That is not true. Your story begins in your birth mom’s belly.”

She moved on and went about playing around the house, but of course, I’ve thought about this conversation all day. I promise you we do not prompt discussions about adoption or biological parents. It may seem like we sit around and hash out our adoption story with the kids on a daily basis, but that is not true. Honestly, we rarely talk about it unless they mention it.

Over the course of the past few weeks, both of our older children have randomly said things about it. What this tells me as a parent is that they are both coming into recognition that adoption is a big deal, that their lives have a different component than their non-adopted friends, and that they are figuring it out as they go along and grow older.

And, you want to know what? I’m both excited, a bit relieved, and a little scared by it. I’m excited that they trust us enough to bring us their questions. I’m thrilled that they seem to understand (as much as their age allows) that they grew in a different mother’s body. I’m relieved that I can start sharing more about their stories as they grow older, and that, so far, I haven’t totally messed it up.

However, I am also a little scared – scared that they will experience a measure of heartbreak (and rightly so) for not being able to grow up in their families of origins. I’m scared that the next question will be one that I will have to answer with truth, even though, some of the truth is ugly.

This is the life of an adoptive family. We chose to tell them as young as possible (like reading stories about adoption when they were barely toddlers) that they were adopted. When they were learning to count, we would say things like, “two mommies”. When they played with baby dolls, my husband would ask, “Did you adopt that baby?” And, so on.

No regrets. Only truth.  

My daughter’s insight caught me off guard today, but it also caused me to be a bit in awe of her.

Yet again, this is another example of a life lived from barren to blessed.

Adoption is Different

My child: “Mom, who was your first mom?”

Me: “Well, Mamoo (name the kids gave my mom) was my first mom?”

My child: “You only have one mom? You didn’t have a first mom?”

Me: “No. Mamoo is the only mom I have.”

Silence…This is a snippet of the conversation I had yesterday with one of my kids. It came completely out of the blue – like most of the conversations we have had about adoption, birth parent(s), etc.

This child has been with us since just a few days old. This child never lived with a biological parent and is extremely bonded to us. Here’s the deal, though. It is wrong to assume that “the child may not question as much if you get him/her as a baby”. It is also wrong to assume that the child will never wonder about biological family, or compare his or her own histories and situations to other people’s situations.

Adoptive parenting is somewhat evolutionary. As the child grows, their concepts, understanding, and desire to learn about their stories evolve. It is our responsibility as parents to be comfortable with this. And, it can be tough.

Once the gavel falls and declares you as the adoptive parent(s), your adoption story is really just beginning. Look at it this way: The paperwork, court processes, placement, and finalization are really just the introduction to the story. The rest…well, that is where the “meat” of the storyline really comes to life.

Adoption is different. I’m not ashamed or offended when that is suggested. It just is. However, in the difference, there is a great opportunity for a richer, more meaningful parenting experience, and for you, as the parent, to be challenged, humbled, and continue to grow in life .

This, my friends, is just one more way that I am learning my life is far from barren.

America, the Beautiful {thoughts from Independence Day}

20160704_215557 (1)America, the Beautiful.  The land of all whose free.  Yet, in this land, we fight and rage over what we think should be.

America, the Wonderful.  The home to which we love.  Yet, in this home, we worry and wonder what the future is made of.

Where have you gone, you mighty beast?  The mountain of the brave.  In our freedom, we spit and blame, leading so many to be enslaved.

Bring back the few, the furious, the ones who believed in truth.  The ones who fought so early on, laying foundations for our youth.

What if they could see us now?  How offended we easily become.  Is this what they battled for?  Isn’t this what they escaped from?

What happened to our invitation for the weary to our shore?  Since we did we become so bitter that we desire to shut the door?

The persecuted masses, the tired few, the ones who seek to breathe free.  What about the longing souls who want to kiss liberty?

America, the Beautiful, I still believe in you.  You raised this daughter to be one who seeks joy in things anew.

I still love you, my blessed home, the terrain of diversity.  Show me, teach me, prove to me that we will turn away from perversity.

We live our lives so liberated, free to do as we please.  Yet, in my mind, I fear and wait for the moment we are brought to our knees.

Our Lady Liberty exclaims these words, “…I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” America, sweet land of mine, these words we should not ignore.

America, the Beautiful.  The home of bravery.  Perhaps, it’s time that we reflect and consider our history.

Author’s note:  As I watched the fireworks last night, I thought about our nation.  With all of the political stuff going on and the “war of opinion”, I’ve been thinking a lot about the valiant ones who fought for our liberation, some losing their lives, for the very things that we take for granted – religious freedom, free will to set our own paths in life, and freedom from tyranny.  I think it is important that we truly remember who we are.  A land of immigrants.  A land of multiple origins.  A people who sought freedom for all.

A people of promise.

Let’s not forget that.