Courageous Love Photo Gallery

Courageous Love Gallery at Big Momma's Coffee House (Missouri)
Courageous Love Gallery at Big Momma’s Coffee House (Missouri)

May is National Foster Care Month in the United States, so I thought I would share briefly with you about a project I have been involved in.  I was asked to write the adoption stories of a handful of foster families for a local exhibit put on by a photography studio.  The exhibit, titled Courageous Love, was dreamed up by the owners of Freedom Photography.  They too are foster/adoptive parents and live each day knowing the eternal difference that families make when bringing foster children into their home.  You can read their story here:  Colors Don’t Matter.

The gallery is going to be a traveling one and will be hanging on the walls of various businesses and community centers around the area that we live.  The hope is that it will draw attention to the needs of children in foster care who are waiting to be adopted, and to encourage people to consider becoming foster/adoptive parents.  My family was also featured in the gallery, and we were really blessed to be a part of it.

Here is the one of my family:

photo (69)

As I spent each night writing out the stories of how God has used these families to open their homes to children, I could not help but be reminded of the importance of obedience in faith.  The choice to step out in blind faith, cling to the hope of a living God, and prayerfully care for His children, were themes that jumped out at me while I wrote the stories of families.  It was amazing to see how the separate journeys of the children and the adoptive families crossed paths to unite and become a part of each other’s lives forever.

The photographers thanked me immensely for helping them out with this project, but to be honest, I count it a blessing to be a part of it.  Getting glimpses into the lives of some special children, and special parents, reminded me that a life lived within the full measure of His presence and the hope that lies within, is a life well-lived.  Story after story spoke of the prayerful desire to fill their homes with children while also meeting the needs of the most vulnerable in our community.

If you would like to take a peek at the photos, click on the link below to be taken to the website.  The stories of each family are found next to their images in a black thumbnail with white writing.  Click on it to enlarge so that you can read it!

Freedom Photography Courageous Love Gallery

If you are a photographer or know someone who is, here are some ways that you can help out foster families and kids in the system:

  • Offer to take senior pictures for free for teenagers in foster care
  • Offer discounted photo sessions for foster families and foster children
  • Suggest to other photographers to get involved with galleries such as the one described in this blog post
  • Put brochures up in your studio about the needs of foster children
  • Offer to take pictures at community events that feature foster families

Above all, let’s all pray without ceasing for the over 400,000 children and youth in foster care in the United States.  Nearly 115,000 of them are eligible and in need of adoptive families.

Beauty in the Complexity

Here is another insight I’ve discovered since becoming a parent through adoption:

Adoption is extremely complex, but there is beauty in complexity.

The closer we got to our first adoption, I was so eager to “get it over with”.  I just wanted the judge’s gavel to fall and for our son to be declared ours.  I did not want anyone else to be in control of my son anymore.  I looked at that day with fantastic expectation and with the thought that it will all be so much easier after adoption than when we were fostering him.

Our daughter was placed with us a few months later and I was also looking forward to the day that we could adopt her.  Right after our daughter’s adoption, we closed our foster care license.  What I have realized through the years since then is that adoption continues to evolve as our children grow older.  The gavel may have fallen, and the “cases” may be closed, but our journey really has just begun.

We see the look of confusion at times when the children are talking about birth parents and why they do not have the same birth moms.  We watch our son stare at his baby pictures and ask a million questions about the baby that he was.  We overhear the kids talking in the back of the car or in their rooms about birth parents.  I even heard my daughter say that she wished I was her birth mommy.

My husband and I have late-night talks on the couch after the kids go to bed about how we should address specific issues and questions as they arise.  Our son usually has a rough couple of days after visiting our daughter’s sibling, who is also adopted, because he doesn’t quite understand how his sister could have a sister of her own.

I often watch the kids and wonder how much of their lives will be affected because of adoption.  Don’t misunderstand me.  There are incredible opportunities, safety, love, and stability that they have because of adoption, but, it would be amiss of me to assume that it is always going to be easy for them.

I worry at times that we are being too open in discussing it, or maybe not open enough.  I used to weep for my children because of the losses they have endured without even knowing it.  I have wished to be able to wipe the slate clean for them.  All of these things are issues that my child-bearing friends do not have to take into consideration when parenting.

The complexity of it all makes me appreciate the opportunity to talk with other adoptive families about their experiences, and to learn from each other.  I love the diversity of each family and the journeys that many have been on.  I also have come to realize that adoptive families are unique and special in so many ways.  Yes, there may be worrying, wondering, weeping, and wishing, but in these things there is great beauty.

Passage (poem about adoption)

Passage

Your mother loved you dearly
But that love was not enough,
With tears in her eyes and guilt in her heart
She had to give you up.

You started life, far from certain
Moving from home to home,
A search began to fill your void
A family to call your own

Days dragged on, and into weeks
And months turned into years,
Old enough to look for mommy and dad
But the horizons never near

Your life on hold, bonds incomplete,
Growing older with every day,
Hoping and dreaming every night
For a permanent home to stay

A call is made, “a child we have”
Of course we want this child!
More than ready to fill a heart felt void
Knowing your trust will be meek and mild

You quietly question another move
Is my search over or still continuing?
You keep to yourself, hiding here and there
As the question begins diminishing

You eye all the other children
Their love helps you on your way,
You see, once they were where you are
At the start of their first new day

You give us your trust, you warmed to our love
We’re finally now mommy and dad,
Our heart now filled, the bonds now complete
Your tears for a family, now glad

Your mother sent you on a journey
God’s destination she did not know,
So little, you made your passage
From her heart into our own.

-Ron Schutt

It is hard to find a lot of poems about adoption out of foster care.  I came across this one and thought I would share it.  Have a wonderful day!

 

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!

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.