Big Boys {words of advice from the mother of a little boy}

We had our typical New Year’s Eve meal of “little smokies”, veggies with dip, chips and queso, and Quiche tarts with our children to welcome in the New Year.  We talked about what our favorite parts of 2013 were, and what we were looking forward to in 2014.  The kids stayed up a little later than usual, but were still in bed by 9:00 pm.

Big BoyAs I was getting my 7-year-old son ready for bed, he said, “Now, I’m ready for my big boy stuff!”  By big boy stuff, he was referring to the mouthwash we bought him to assist with his dental care now that he has adult teeth.

As he turned around to show me how he could swish the mouthwash in his mouth, I noticed how small he still looks in his pajamas.  He said the words “big boy”, but in my mind and heart, he is still my little boy.

When he turned around to face the sink, I started to tear up just a bit.  Odd, I know.  Normally the vision of my children brushing their teeth does not cause me to cry, but this time, I took one look at him, and realized that another year has passed in raising this wonderful little boy.

The thought of releasing him to the world one of these days terrifies me.  Truly, the thought of releasing any of my children to the world is frightening.  Yet, I know that I am experiencing the same feelings my parents, my parents’ parents, and my parents’ grandparents must have felt.  With each passing of a New Year, I am brought a little closer to my children growing up, a little closer to the day when they will be out of the house, and a little closer to the day when they too will be navigating the journey of raising children.

I’m asking, on behalf of all mothers and fathers out there, for us to all stop and take a look around at the world we are leaving for our babies.  Those of us around my age and older remember a world free from technology, digital anything, texting, and searing statistics of broken families.  I wish I could bring my babes back to the world I grew up in – back to a world that seemed a little more kid friendly, or maybe even, safer.

Please don’t misunderstand me.  I know we live in a remarkable time.  Just the fact that I’m sitting here from my laptop in Southwest Missouri and sharing my thoughts that will reach other countries, is astonishing.  I know this.  As a mom though, I wonder where all of this is going.  Are we continuing down a path of technology marvel while pulling away from actual relationships?

My “big boy” in his slightly too-big Lego’s pajamas is not ready for the world.  I’m not ready to let him go.  I’m not ready for the times he comes home heart-broken over being picked on, turned down, or disappointed.  I fear the day he walks through the doors, nearly grown, and announces that he’s ready to move out.

Sometimes, I just want to roll back time, and hold him a little closer.  This part…this part of watching children grow up and become less dependent…is both wonderful and heart-breaking at the same time.  And yet, my children are still so young.  I suspect I will feel these emotions with each passing of the New Year.

As the mother of a little boy who thinks he is big (and of a little girl, and infant boy), I have a few words of advice that I would like to share with all of the Big Boys out there:

  1. We were not made to be the same.  The beauty of you, and your friends, is that each of you are uniquely created with talents, ambitions, and inclinations.  My son has quirks, talents, and struggles that make him who he is.  You will never see or even like my son the way that I do, but please, let him be who he is, and I’m pretty sure he will let you be who you are.
  2. Don’t do anything stupid.  Your mother loves you, and worries about you – even though you are bigger.  No matter your age, she will never stop.  Try to go easy on her.
  3. Your role as a man, brother, boyfriend, husband, uncle, father, or grandfather, is vital.  YOU are vital.  Your God-given role is equally important in the lives of children.  I have worked with many children who grieved for a relationship with a father.  Please don’t under-estimate how valuable you are in the lives of little big boys (and little big girls) in the world.
  4. Please know that little big boys look up to you.  They watch all that you do, and say, and they are impressed by it.  Try to make positive, life-affirming impressions on all of the little boys you come in contact with.
  5. Remember, you were once a little big boy.  Think about that.

I know I still have many more years to raise, train, discipline, and enjoy my children. I also know that parenting is a life-long venture.  As time passes, I see that moments of parenting go by quickly.  I will wake up one of these days to an empty home that is not filled with the busyness of children.  There will no longer be lunches to pack, school work to help with, middle of the night wake-up calls, or early morning bed jumpers.  There will just be me, my husband, and the memories of raising our children.

For now, though, I am going to sneak off and give my little big boy a kiss while he sleeps….

On Christmas Morning {Gift of Children}

“Momma, I got the first gift of Christmas”, my 7-yr-old son whispered to me as I was waking from a deep sleep.  He was referring to the sleigh bell from the story “The Polar Express”.  Somehow, I managed to pull off this surprise by sneaking it under his Christmas tree without waking him up.

I grabbed him, pulled him into our bed, and suggested some Christmas snuggling. His giggles were often interrupted by his fervent asking, “When can we go see what Santa left?”  Soon, our daughter woke up, scurried into our room, and squealed at the thought of rushing into the living room to check out what goodies Santa had left.

On Christmas morning, my thoughts often returned to the Momma’s-in-Waiting who woke up to a quiet Christmas.  They might have sat in front of the tree sharing gifts with their husbands, or other family members. Perhaps, they gifted their dogs and cats with plenty of treats, or maybe, invited neighbors over to share in Christmas morning.

I thought about the Christmas mornings without the patter of footsteps quickly making way to the tree, or sounds of children as they shouted to the tops of their lungs about the tokens of love left by Santa.  I thought about the Momma’s-in-Waiting who still wait for a little stocking to fill, or little hands to make sugar cookies with.  My mind returned time and again to the Momma’s-in-Waiting who hoped for a child to share Christmas with.

Yes, I thought about the Momma’s-in-Waiting, and the one I used to be.

I also thought about the multitudes of former Momma’s-in-Waiting who were experiencing Christmas morning through the eyes of children for the first time.  I visualized them stumbling out of bed just in time to watch children rip open the wrapping they had spent hours taping together.

I thought about how their smiles, and hopeful expressions spoke volumes about their new Christmas mornings filled with the pure joy of believing little ones who were captivated by bright paper and pretty bows.

Yes, I thought about the former Momma’s-in-Waiting.

There was much love and thankfulness in our home on Christmas morning.  Gifts were given, surprises were discovered, and laughter was heard throughout the home.  Grandparents showed up in time to witness the absolute innocent thrill of childhood.  It was truly a special day where memories were made.

Often though, my thoughts returned to that place of gratefulness for the gift of children that the Lord has given me, and so many other former Momma’s-in-Waiting.  I marveled in the way He has worked it all out, and rejoiced in the gift of adding one more child to share Christmas with this year.

The contentment of a life lived in experiencing a faithful Lord is truly a blessing beyond comparison.  It is a life lived in full awareness of just how merciful our Heavenly Father is.  

On Christmas morning, I thought about the Momma’s-in-Waiting who long for the sheer delight of children to fill the halls of their home.  I thought about their quiet hopefulness for children to share Christmas with.  I thought about their desires to pass along traditions, or start new ones.  I remembered their yearnings for answered prayers, or, just answers.

I also thought about the former Momma’s-in-Waiting who were waking up for the first time with a child or two eagerly guiding them to the Christmas tree.  I thought about their contented and thankful hearts who understand that life will never be the same again.

On Christmas morning, I was reminded, yet again, about the mastery to which the Lord weaves our lives.  I could not help but smile at the fulfillment of my prayerful longings to be a mother.

On the day where we celebrate the greatest Gift of all, I was reminded that children truly are a gift to this world.

Christmas From my family to yours, I wish you a new year filled with hope, joy, love, grace, life, and all things in between.  I especially hope for a year filled with the blessed reward of children.

Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.  -Psalm 127:3

Worth It All

As November wrapped up and I was putting away our Thanksgiving decor, I thought about what an eventful month we had.  To be able to adopt a child in the month that is designated as National Adoption Month was a wonderful thing.  Recently, I was asked how I felt about adoption.  I’m not even sure I will ever find the words that truly describe how I feel about it.  My answer went something like this, “Adoption offered me the opportunity to parent my children, and in parenting, I am able to see glimpses of God’s grace and mercy.”

Maybe that is not the answer expected, or even understood, but it is one that I find myself returning to.  Of course, adoption means so many different things to me.  It has layers upon layers of meaning, but yet, I still come back to these two things:

GRACE and MERCY

Grace.  Parenting is grace in action.  It is a recipe made up of mistakes, successes, frustrations, celebrations, and growth for everyone involved.  Recently, I said to my daughter, “I’ve told you so many times not to do that.  Why are you still doing it?”  In the same breath after I said it, I felt a little jolt of the realization that I too have been told to not do things, and yet, I still do them.  Over and over.  Time after time.  Each day though, I wake up anew with the same thought that not only does my Heavenly Father love me, He also saturates my life with grace.

Mercy.  Adoption is mercy.  It is the collision of love, compassion, and the heart-felt yearning to devote one’s life to another.  It is the recognition that merciful love poured into all of our lives.  Merciful Love intervened.  It moved us to new places, and settled us into our places of belonging.  Through adoption, we are able to get a sweet taste of love that speaks, “Yes.  Yes, you.”

Our little boy with whom we adopted recently is thriving, happy, and very much-loved by all of us.  Since our son and daughter are also adopted, it was an awesome opportunity to teach them more about the process, and reasons behind it.  Throughout this experience, our children have learned that adoption, in many ways, involves sacrifice.  Our son and daughter both had to move to different rooms to accommodate for the baby. They both learned that mommy and daddy needed a little more time with the baby to meet his needs; which in turn, meant less time with them.

Big SisThey also learned that love was the motivator for helping out the baby who was in need. They knew that his birth parents were not able to take care of him, and that he needed somewhere to go.

In essence, they learned of grace and mercy.

I’m so thankful for this past year of our lives.  It has been a difficult one, but also one with enriching moments that included many valuable lessons.  Adoption has proven again that the Lord is truly faithful, especially during the times when I felt complete exhaustion and worry.BigBro

When asked my thoughts about adoption, I may continue to stumble over my words. Honestly, there are so many ways to describe it.

It is grace.  It is mercy.  It is love.  It is growth.  It is the notion that we are chosen.  It is sacrifice.  It is hard, and easy at the same time.  It is love.  It is incredible.  It is humbling.  It is redemptive.  It is compassion.

It is worth it all. 

The Blessing Jar {Part 2}

A little less than a year ago, we started a family project called “The Blessing Jar”. The idea behind it came from my oldest son’s desire to give change to people without money.  We decided to get a jar, start collecting change, and then give it away.  You can read my initial post about this by clicking on this link, The Blessing Jar.

Throughout the year, I didn’t put any pressure on the kids to donate to the jar.  If they found, earned, or were given money, I asked them, “What do you want to do with it?”  I was surprised how often they wanted to throw it in the jar.

Blessing 1Last weekend, we decided it was time to take our jar of change, get it counted up, and donate it.  The jar was not full, but it seemed appropriate for us to do something like this the weekend before we celebrate Thanksgiving.

After all, our family has so much to be thankful for.

We have a warm home, food to eat, and each other.  What more could we ask for?

I started talking to my kids the week before about what to do with the money.  We talked about different options, and they both kept going back to giving money to people who do not have any food.  As a matter of fact, earlier in the week during an outing to the local mall, my daughter grabbed a handful of change and started sprinting towards the guy ringing the Salvation Army Bell.  She said, “Mommy, he’s ringing the bell.  That means he’s hungry.”  She quickly put money in the kettle.  I later explained that the young man was helping others who are hungry by ringing the bell.

We decided that the money would go to a local group called “The Gathering Tree”. This group, started by a doctor and his wife, feeds the homeless in our community, and is a very grass-roots effort with volunteers cooking the food, serving it, and offering support to those who show up.  A  friend of mine is very involved with the group, and has witnessed the heart-breaking stories of many of the souls who walk through the doors.

Thankfully, there are lots of organizations in our community that help out the homeless and down-trodden.  We decided on this group because it is solely a volunteer-based organization.  I have also heard that the volunteers do not ask questions, or judge whoever walks in needing a warm meal.  There are not any qualifying or conditional factors like a lot of programs.  They offer support and resources, and always say Grace before each meal.

Since my husband and I are both involved in social work, I understand the need for rules and policies for social programs.  At the end of the day though, there are still people who are starving, cold, and in need of companionship.  There are still people who just need a kind word, a non-judgmental look, the touch of another human, and a feeling of belonging somewhere….anywhere.  This is one of the reasons why I suggested the group to my children.

From what I have heard, they are people who simply love other people and want or need or feel compelled, whatever you want to call it, to bring a little comfort to the forgotten, desperate, or needy.

Pure. Simple. Love.

I told the kids that when we got there, they would see people who do not have homes.  They might even see children there, too.  When we walked in, we were greeted by my friend who went to get the founders of the group.  Both of my kids stood there for a while, taking it all in.  My son kept staring at all of the people huddled around eating food.

Soon, a red-headed, freckled face little boy with an over-sized coat and a little girl with a dirty face, came right up next to our family.  Both of my kids just stood there quietly.  Every once in a while, they would head into the children’s area and play with a few toys, but mostly, they stayed close to us.

The founders of the group greeted us and I explained the Blessing Jar to them.  Soon, the wife got down on my children’s level, and with tears in her eyes, graciously thanked them for the $32.00 dollars they donated.  She explained what can be done with the money, and how it can help.

Blessing Jar 2Thirty-two dollars from two little ones who had no idea the gravity of the gift they gave.

Thirty-two dollars given with the innocent hope that goodness will come out of it.

After a few tears, and hugs, we left the building and escaped back to our car and warm home.  As I was tucking my son into bed, he said, “Mom, she had a rip in her clothes, and that boy’s jacket was way too big.”  I just listened.  He then went on to ask, “What if that boy doesn’t have a mommy and daddy?  What will happen to him?”  I said, “If he didn’t have a mommy or daddy, the people there helping out would make sure that he was somewhere he would be taken care of by a mommy and daddy.”

My son thought for a moment, and then said, “Like a foster home?  Kinda like what we did for baby…?”  I said, “Yes, kind of, but that little boy does have a mommy, and the coat may be too big, but at least he has a coat.”  As he was snuggling into his warm bed, I asked him if he wanted to save money in the Blessing Jar again. He said, “Yes.”  I kissed him goodnight, and my heart swelled.

The next day as we were getting into the car, he spotted a quarter that had fallen down in-between the seats.  He quickly pointed out that it needed to go in the Blessing Jar!  Our jar is empty now with the exception of a couple of quarters the children have already added, but hopefully it will start to fill up as the year goes on.

I have learned as a parent that it does not take a lot of effort to teach children about grace, generosity, giving, and loving others. Sometimes, children can teach these things better than any adult on any given day.  We just need to stop long enough to hear their hearts speak through their actions, concerns, and musings of life.Blessing Jar3

Our little Blessing Jar has blessed us in return.

There is great joy that comes when generosity and life-lessons collide.

Indeed.

“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” – Acts 20:35

It Happened Again This Week {Adoption Day}

It happened again this week.  I stepped into a courtroom filled with excitement, energy, and the weight of the little one I was carrying.  I have been through this before, twice actually, but still I felt a twinge of nerves.  I do not know if the feeling is similar to what a mother experiences right before the birth of her child, but it is the closest that I can relate to.  It is the feeling of anxiousness, eagerness, elation, and relief all stirred up together.  (Of course, it is minus the pain of labor; although, physical labor sometimes pales in comparison to the emotional labor of those expecting children through adoption.)

adoption dayOur adoption of my littlest was finalized during our county’s celebration of National Adoption Day.  We were one of twenty or so adoptions that happened in one day.  I am the mother of three.  I am the mother of three wonderful children who otherwise might have had a rough life ahead.  I am not barren at all.  I am enveloped in grace that pulsates throughout my being.

It is mightily overwhelming to think about, really.  I was never meant to be a parent.  I was supposed to be pitied, look upon with sadness, and harbor a sense of shame.  I was going to make an awful mother.  I was not good enough.  I must have been a bad person.  Parenting a child not of my body would never be the same…..and so on….

These are the thoughts I carried around for many years.  I imagined the enemy hissing and laughing at me.  I imagined that he relished in my self-doubt, and susceptibility to feel as though I would always fall short as compared to other women.

The adoption of my third child is simply an incredible chapter to a story that started so many years ago.  When the world, and all the angst of the enemy, said to me, “It’ll never happen for you.”  Our Heavenly Father said, “It will happen for you.”

Towards the end of the hearing, the Judge declared him to be our son.  When those words rolled off of his lips, I held back a few tears.  Those words are probably some of the most beautiful ones I’ve heard.  To hear them time and again does not diminish how special they are.  In that moment, I thought, “My God, You are incredible.”

In the same breath that I praise the Finisher of our desires, I think about the birth mothers of my children.  All of them held their babies for the first time, and probably felt the same thing that I felt on adoption day; excitement, eagerness, elation, and relief.  Their moments were beautiful as well.  They may have even thought, “My God, You are incredible.”

I know I do not deserve the mercy that has been shown to me through the adoption of my children.  I know that I have been completely and overwhelmingly gifted with them, and that my responsibility in raising children who are compassionate, responsible, and faithful falls heavy on my heart.  If ever a time to relish in the joyful moments of life, this is it.

It happened again this week.  I became a mother of three. I am certainly living a life that went from being barren to blessed.

 

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

– Jeremiah 29:11

Love that is Far from Barren

Walk
Photo Credit: http://sarahcarterphotos.com/

During this month of celebrating adoption, I’ve been meandering my way through pictures of my kids.  The one above happens to be one of my favorites.  It was taken by a local photographer a few years ago.

When I look at this picture, I see children whose future is wide open, and who matter more to their parents than they may ever fully realize.  I see children who found their way home.  

When I look at the image above, I don’t see barrenness.  I don’t feel desolation.  I don’t find myself speaking the “what if’s”, and “why’s”.  I don’t recall the place I used to dwell in; that wasteland of broken dreams.

I don’t see infertility.

When I set my eyes on the picture above, I know that things happen for a reason.  I feel the restoration of broken lives, the healing of scarred remains, and the mercy-filled grace that I am now living.

When I look at this image of my oldest son and daughter, I am thankful.  I am genuinely thankful for the path I walked to become their mother.  I am truly grateful for others whose hands touched our lives, and molded our family.

Ultimately, though, I am humbled by the acts of my Heavenly Father who shook me out of my barrenness, and said, “MY plan for you is better than this.  MY plan for you will unfold.  MY plan for you is one that diminishes the scars of your youth, and wipes away the tears of your adulthood.  MY plan for you is far from barren.”

When I look at the sweet image of my son and daughter, I see love.

Love fulfilled. 

Love that changed lives.

Love that intervened at just the right time.

Love that brought life into the wasteland.

Love that is far from barren.

That my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

Psalm 30:12

Feisty and Five {Happy Birthday, Daughter}

Daughter, my sweet and feisty daughter, you turned five today.  Do you want to know something?  I always wanted a daughter.  In my vision of a future family (as limited and skeptical as that was at times), I pictured a daughter.  I imagined a little girl who was dainty, a little on the shy side, and a Princess in the making.

photo (54)Do you want to know something else?  You are not dainty, you are mighty.  You are not shy, you are feisty (although you do get embarrassed sometimes), and you once told me, “I am not a Princess” (except when it comes to your Papa).

There is not a single thread of doubt in my soul that you were meant to be my daughter.

My mighty, mysterious, smart, and beautiful daughter, I love you.

You, my girl, are a God-orchestrated, God-created, and God-filling vessel of love. You are a walking miracle.  Your value is worth more than anything, and your life is one of opportunity.

I caught you looking up to the sky one day last spring.  As big and fluffy snowflakes made their way to the ground, you looked up to the Heavens with the biggest smile, as if you and the Lord Himself were agreeing that snow in the springtime is the best thing ever.

Keep looking to the Heavens, my girl.  

Keep looking up with the hope that is found in the gracious love of God.Snow

My hope for you, little one, is that you never forget how deeply cherished you are. We love you so much, but Mommy and Daddy could never love you as deeply as your Father in Heaven does. You are His.  We are just charged with bringing you up in the crazy, mixed-up; yet, incredible world.

My mighty, mysterious, smart, and beautiful daughter, I love you.

Happy 5th Birthday, Daughter.  You are one of the most strong-willed, independent, and outspoken little girls I think I have ever known.  But, do you want to know something?  You are also loving and protective of the ones you love.  You became an instant big sister to a little one that came into our lives suddenly.  Yet, you took it all in stride.

You quickly learned that babies need lots of attention.  They cry a lot, eat a lot, and learn to giggle pretty quickly.  You have thoroughly enjoyed watching him grow, change, and become one with our family.

SisI caught you crying softly one night.  When asked why, you simply and sweetly stated, “I miss him as a baby.”  You were referring to the fact that your new little brother is walking, growing, and getting bigger right in front of your eyes.

You are wonderful big sister.

Simply wonderful.

You are a blessing to the babe who found his way to our home.

You also give away your gifts and items freely to others.  You comfort your big brother when he’s having a bad day.  You check on your Daddy when he’s not feeling so well, and you tell me that I’m beautiful.

My daughter, beauty shines from you when I witness the softness of your touch, the care you give for others, and the simple, yet sweet, acts of generosity.

Five years have gone by so quickly, and yet, I look to many more years of watching you grow into a strong, beautiful woman.  I hope you stay feisty, stay mighty, and stay yourself.  Stay the girl who prefers blue jeans and t-shirts over frilly dresses, or would rather be outside playing “camp out”, digging up bugs, and chasing her big brother around the yard.

I hope you never lose the thought that it is perfectly fine to wear a mask and cape a good majority of places that you go.BatgirlAfter all, the world could use a few superheroes.

You are a mighty, mysterious, smart, and beautiful daughter.  You are a wonderfully made daughter.  

In this month of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for you.  I am thankful for the unique little girl that you are.

Orange

I am thankful that you are feisty, and five.

I am thankful that YOU are my daughter.  

Happy 5th birthday.  Love You, Forever.

Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child

Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

I talk to you often in the work I do.  I hear you say, “We want to hang in there”, or “We are doing the best we can”, and even, “I don’t know if I am up for this.”  I hear these words through your shaky, weakened voices.  But, what I really hear is you saying, “I don’t want to be another mother who disregards this child”, or “If I could, I would provide this child with every ounce of my being in order to heal him or her.”  I see you, Foster Mom.  I see you loving on that child who has stolen your heart while living in your home.

You are walking in very heavy shoes.  You are feeling as though your efforts are disregarded, don’t matter, don’t work, and will be forgotten about in the fleeting moments of a day.  I’m here to tell you, they are not disregarded. They do matter.  They work, and they will never be forgotten.

Dear (foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child, you are one of the bravest mothers of all.  You’ve ventured into the murky waters of loving a child whose hurts seem like they could go on for an eternity.

You are a broken-hearted warrior.

You hear from others, “You are doing a good thing”, “I could never do what you do”, or “Your faith is bigger than this.”  While you hear these words of comfort and affirmation, your heart is screaming in that silent, lonely place of wondering if you really are doing a good thing, if you really should be doing what you are doing, and if your faith really is bigger than this.  You question where God is in all of the hurts put on children in His world.

You…dear (foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child…long for rest.  You grasp for answers, and you pray for healing.  You get angry.  You wonder why any mother would neglect, be absent, abuse, or completely disregard her child. You wonder why you are left to pick up the pieces.

You want the Lord to step in, heal, and completely restore the broken child in your arms.  You cry and pray for this so often that it feels as though you can no longer find the words, or muster up the tears.

Dear (foster) Momma of a Stranger’s child, you were once a broken child, too.  At one time, you were lost in a world of despair.  You needed to be picked up, cleaned off, and captured by a love so strong that the greatest army could not break it.

You were worth it. You were not forgotten.  You were brought out of the darkness, and into the cleansing light.  

YOU were meant to make a difference in the world.

Dear (foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child,  please do not give up.  You are the backbone to so many forgotten children.  You are a living example of an unconditional, incomparable type of love that is a rarity in the world we find ourselves in.

You will get hurt.  You will have many sleepless nights.  You will have some doubts, regrets, and desires for do-overs.  You will be exhausted and you will get angry.  You may even be ignored.

But….

Your Father in Heaven sees your actions.  He sits with you in the midnight hours when the stranger’s child is raging.  He is with you when you walk out of court rooms or meetings still not knowing what the future holds for the child in your care.  He hears your pleas and sings over you in your fretful night’s sleep.

Dear (foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child, do you want to know why you are probably the most important mother in this world?

Perhaps someday, the child you are loving on, praying for, staying up all night with, advocating for, crying over, taking in or letting go, will grow up to be a (foster) Momma (or even a Daddy) of a Stranger’s Child.

Isn’t that worth it all?

Here’s to Adoption

NOVEMBER IS DESIGNATED AS A MONTH OF THANKSGIVING, AND CELEBRATING ADOPTION.  

Last year, I published a new post each day with poems, stories, and information about adoption.  This year, I’d like to focus this month with how adoption has created a greater sense of thankfulness in my life.  I’d like to do so with images of moments in my children’s lives.

Here are some images of my son from his first gymnastics meet last Spring.  He was 6-yrs-old at the time.  This meet was a “practice” one since he was too young to compete in the regular meets.  

Hunter Bailey 36

In December, we start traveling for his competitions, and I can hardly wait to watch him.  I’m so proud of the hard work he puts in, and the determination he has to continue perfecting the sport – all of this at the age of 7.
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Another thing, that always seems to stir my heart a bit while watching him, is the thought that all of this may not have been possible for him had he not been adopted.  Please do not get me wrong…I know the ideal situation is for children to stay with their birth parents.  Parents should be able and willing to care for them, make wise choices, remain substance free, and provide the stability that every child desires, and deserves.

However, in foster care/adoption situations such as my son’s, the plan to reunify with birth family changed to adoption.  I know in my heart that his birth parents longed to provide him what he needed, and truly wanted to raise their son, but they could not.  I also know that his life would have been tragically different had he remained in the environment to which he was born.
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I believe that our paths were created to cross with a fierce, all-knowing, and powerful love that comes from a Heavenly Father who doesn’t forget a single child; even when others do.

I am so thankful for this. 
Hunter Bailey 3So, here’s to adoption.  Here’s to the incredible opportunities that exist because of it.  Here’s to the multitude of orphans who have landed in a soft spot called home.  Here’s to the birth parents who choose adoption.  Here’s to the case workers, attorneys, juvenile officials, and judges who work tirelessly for the well-being of children.

Here’s to the families, such as mine and many others I know, who took the biggest leap of faith when they signed on the dotted line to become foster and foster/adoptive parents.  Here’s to the moments, such as the ones shown in this post, that provide parents, grandparents, and children with memories that last a lifetime.  I am so thankful for these.

Hunter Bailey 31And, here’s to the children who wait for families to call their own.  Here’s to their hopes, dreams, and longings to belong, and to have a mom, dad, grandparents, siblings, and just about anyone else who will stay with them – forever.

Here’s to the miraculous, and hope-filled journey that is adoption.

My Response to the Response

The past few days I’ve been overwhelmed with the response to a blog post I wrote back in June of this year.  From what I can tell, the post titled Dear Parent of a Sick Child, was found via a Google search.  It was shared on Facebook, then shared again, and again. Since Wednesday, my blog has received over 34,000 views.  In particular, the post has been shared on Facebook over 10,000 times.

I’m completely overwhelmed and humbled by this response.  Some bloggers get this high of numbers of views on a constant basis, but not me.  I’m a pretty simple blogger who enjoys writing and sharing about my struggle with barrenness, my joy of being an adoptive parent, and my walk in the Lord.

I’ve been moved to tears by the messages from parents sitting by their terminally ill children, parents who have lost children to illness, or ones celebrating their children’s recovery.  I don’t even know what to say in response, and at times, I can barely find the words.

The funny thing is that I do not believe it is my most well-written post.  I have read it many times since, and still see flaws, and areas I would like to tweak a bit.  When discussing this with a friend, she pointed out that perhaps it is even more evident that God is moving on this one.  I cannot help but agree with her.

Back in June, I was moved to write the open letter partly in honor of my mom and dad, and the love they showed me during my illness.  I also wrote it to give voice to things I wished I would have been able to say during that fateful time in my life.  My hope was to encourage parents caring for sick children.

Ultimately though, I wanted to give a glimpse of what it is like to be cared for as an ill child.  I wanted people to know that when I think about the time spent in the hospital, I remember some moments of sadness during it all, but mostly, I remember the presence of my mom and dad.  Sure, I sensed the heaviness of what was going on, but I still felt the never-ceasing support, and genuine love given to me.

I remember the presence of love over my pain.

With all of this being said, I feel the need to share what has been on my heart this week.  Here is my response to the response thus far:

  • Nothing we do is insignificant.  Nothing.
  • Moments in time, regardless of how long ago, have the potential to come back full circle, and in ways we could not ever comprehend.
  • There are many hurting people in the world.  Tell your life story.  You never know the kind of impact it will have on someone who needs to hear it.
  • There are a tremendous amount of seriously ill children, and exhausted parents.  Please pray for those families who have read my post, and the many more who have not.
  • Please do not take your life and your little ones for granted.
  • When the Lord prompts you to do something, then do it.
  • The Lord, through His mercy of sparing my life back in 1983 and through current events in my life, has proved Himself time and again.

I especially want to thank the parents who have read my post, or commented on it by sharing a little bit about their struggle.  You all have thanked me over and over again, but I say, “Thank you.”  Thank you for sharing your stories with me.  Thank you for fighting for your babies.  Thank you for not giving up hope.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  You have touched my heart more than you will ever know.

Throughout my early years, I often wondered why I dealt with illnesses that were difficult.  I especially anguished over having a hysterectomy at such a young age.  I cannot tell you enough how truly remarkable it is to be able to share my story with the hope that it comforts others.

This was my path that the Lord laid out for me, and for that, I give thanks.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

-1 Thessalonians 5:18