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.
Hunter Bailey 22

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.
Hunter Bailey 43

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.

Dear Infertility (Part 2),

Dear infertility,

It’s been a while since we’ve spoken.  Funny how I carried you around for so many years, and now I don’t think of you on a day-to-day basis like I used to.  I swore I would never forget you, be able to let go of you, or even get over you, but, look at me now. You do not consume me anymore.

Dear infertility – You made me feel as though I was being punished.  If children are a reward from the Lord, then I must have done something pretty awful not to be rewarded with children…right?  You made me feel this way.  You spoke these lies to me.  You made me feel as though I was less important to the Creator of my beginning and Script-Writer of my future.

You made me think that I would never experience the same type of happiness that those around me were experiencing.  You forced me to wallow in my own despair, and yet, you never consoled me.  You never wiped my tears.  You never told me anything hopeful.  Instead, you shouted at me.  You screamed pain to me.  You never promised me a happy ending.

Dear infertility – you forsake me.  You made me feel like a victim, and at times, you made me feel as though I deserved what happened to me in my youth.  I’m here to tell you, I didn’t deserve it.  I was never a victim, and never will be.  The Lord was not punishing me.  He was not withholding His blessings of children.  He did not forget my name.  I was never less important to Him, or to the world He created, even though you made me feel that way.

Dear infertility – my Creator, my Comforter, my Healer, and my Hope remembers me.  He remembers the tears I cried because of you.  Not only does He remember them, He carries them.  He does not leave me feeling like a victim as you did.  He did not punish me.  What happened to me was an accident, a life-changing mistake that led to a tragic illness that even He mourned over.

He heard the deepest cry from the most secret place of my heart, and He listened. He did not ignore me like you did.  He answered me with the opening of doors, the closing of others, and the humbling moments that led me to being a parent.  He rewarded me with the gift of children.  He charged me with the care of some very special little ones that mean more to Him that I can ever imagine.  You, however, would have never promised me this.  You never would have told me to continue hoping for the fulfillment of my heart.

Dear infertility – I barely remember you, even though I will never forget you.  I will never forget the way you made me feel, the isolation you brought to my life, and the agony of not knowing if my prayers would be answered.  I will never forget being told that you would always be with me.  I was a child myself, and yet, I was forced to learn about you.  You stuck to me like glue.  I didn’t want you.  I didn’t need you, and I certainly didn’t understand you.

Dear infertility – remember me?  I am not the same person I used to be.  I am not that sickly girl, confused teen, and anguished woman I used to be.  I no longer doubt how incredible the Lord is, or even who He is.  I no longer feel like I am on the outside looking in on a life that would never be fully lived.  I am whole.  I am complete.  I am fulfilled.  I am living a life fully lived.  I am certainly not what you want me to be.

You even tried to damage those who loved me.  My parents and family members grieved over what you did to me.  My grandparents went to their grave never knowing that you would not dictate my future.  My parents will not forget what you did, but they too are busy with the joy of grandchildren to think about you anymore.

I suppose you will always be with me, although, I don’t listen to you anymore.  The truth is, I will never listen to you again.  I am too busy listening to the laughter of my children, and the love of my Lord.  I am too busy getting up in the middle of the night changing diapers, fixing school lunches, planning parties, and living a life full of the reward of children.

Dear infertility, I thought of you today while I was holding a little one and praising my Lord.  I thought of how you must feel now that I have moved on from you.  Can I ask you one thing?  Can I ask you to only remind me of you when I start to take my life for granted?  It is not that I don’t recall you from time-to-time.  When I scan over the memories of life and what all the Mighty Lord has done, you do enter my mind.

I remember laying in the hospital bed clinging to life and learning about you.  I remember trying to wrap my young mind and heart around you, even though, I had no idea who you were.  I remember being a teenager and feeling like I was so different from the other girls.  I remember crying into my pillow as I watched others being rewarded with children.

Dear infertility – it’s been a while since we’ve spoken.  It’s been a while since your name has crossed my mind.  It surely has been a while since the tears flowing from my eyes were filled with you.  I may still call on you from time-to-time, but for now, I’m going to tuck you back into my heart again.

Goodbye for now, goodbye.

Related articles – the first letter I wrote to infertility:

Dear Infertility

Entertaining Angels

my angelic daughter
my angelic daughter

This week, my husband and I took a baby relative into our home following an emergent situation involving a family member.  We had been prayerfully considering our response to this situation, and had planned on moving him in, but were not exactly sure if or when we were going to do it.

This week has been quite exhausting, and a little overwhelming.  However, this week has also reminded me of the incredible difference we can all choose to make in the lives of little ones.  This week has also been a thought-provoking one about life and faith.  Mostly though, it has filled my mind and heart with wonder about children.

I wonder if children are mini-angels in disguise charged with watching the way we live and treat others. They cause us to think twice before telling off the person who cut in line, or ignoring the person in need of help.  Their little eyes and ears absorb our actions, or lack thereof, like a sponge.

We work a little harder each day because of the deep-seeded yearning to care for them and provide their needs.  We stay up all hours of the night to calm their fears and soothe their pains.  We quickly rush to their defense, and yet, disciple them to learn from their mistakes.  We clothe them, feed them, shelter them, and love on them.

In return, they speak simplicity into our lives.  They don’t care if the living room is messy, or the potatoes are cold.  They don’t worry about what the weather is going to be like, or what is on the schedule for the day.  They accept others without condition, express their emotions without hindrance, and choose each day to laugh, play, and love.

Most important, they watch and hear what goes on in the world around them.  They watch the way we respond to difficult situations.  They listen to the words we use when describing our concerns, and they yearn to understand the reasons why we (adults) make the decisions that we do.

I wonder, sometimes, if children send little messages to our Heavenly Father, who in turn, speaks His words of truth and love through them.  I wonder, sometimes, if their questions about life are ones that He uses to hear our responses.  I know children are put into our lives so that we can choose to step up and step out in faith each day.

I believe that angels watch over our lives and actions here on Earth.  I believe there are angelic guardians all around us, and especially around children.  I just wonder, though, if children are little angels in disguise.  If so, I am the guardian of three.

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. -Hebrews 13:2

New Year’s Road

Taken with my iphone as I rode my bike in a 150 mile ride.

This past year was one full of discovery for me.  Through blogging, I have been reminded that everyone truly has a story to tell.  We are all story-tellers in our own ways.  Art, in its purest form, also speaks volumes of insight and revelations about the world we are living in.  Some speak through poetic ramblings and short-stories.  For others, the lens of a camera captures images that their eyes first took notice of.  Each photograph tells a story.  Writing really has become my therapeutic release, my story-teller, my window to the world, my humbling remembrance of how blessed I am, and an extension of the yearning to live out my faith in Christ.

I continue to learn that  parenting is an art form.  Like most artists, parents don’t just figure it out with one stroke of a brush.  Mistakes are made, and often, we are our own worst critics,  Parenting is also something that love and passion is poured into.  I have yet to meet an artist who is not passionate about his or her masterpieces.  Children are the masterpiece that we are always working on, and for that, I am grateful for “do-overs”, grace, and the simplistic forgiveness of children.

Throughout this year,I have been made keenly aware of the tightrope we all walk when it comes to protecting children in our own backyards, and around the world.  Not to sound cliché, but they really are our greatest resource for the future.  Through this blog, I have been able to express my deepest desires for my children, and for others as well.  I have also been able to connect to the child I once was.

I began this road of writing because I felt I had a story to tell.  I felt I needed to speak of infertility.  I knew there were others out there suffering from the sadness that comes when the desire for children is not fulfilled.  I also felt that my story of barrenness includes the incredible journey that is adoptive parenting.  I may stray from time to time from the topic of infertility with the posts I write, but it is never too far from my thoughts and my heart.  I am deeply compassionate about others who continue to search for answers, and who live daily with the unfulfilled longing for children.  I hope my words will encourage each of them to believe in joyful beginnings and happy endings.

I am not sure what the Lord has in store for the road I will walk in 2013.  Will I be inspired to venture into other areas of writing?  Will there be heartbreak and heart-joy in this next year?  Will some doors open while others shut?  There is no way to tell what is destined to happen, but my faith in the Script-Writer of our lives is greater than the unknowns of the future.

May this New Year’s Road lead you all to delightful discoveries, faith-building experiences, and life-affirming moments that bless your sojourn in the world.

Letter of Love

photo (33)I’ve known my husband since we were in our early to mid twenties.  We’ve been a couple for about 19 of the 21 years we’ve known each other.  He’s traversed the valley of infertility with me, jumped right in to foster parenting classes, stayed up late at night to feed the babies, and drove our car with extra care while on our way to our adoption hearings.  We’ve basically grown up together in many ways, and parenting continues to grow us.

It was about 4 years ago when we went through a difficult time with employment.  My husband lost a job just a few weeks before our adoption hearing.  I was quite shocked that a company would let someone go right before an adoption, but never-the-less, our adoption happened.  Several months passed by with no potential employment doors opening for my husband.

As Christmas came around, I could tell that he was worried about what to get me.  It didn’t really matter to me anyway as I knew finances were tight, and I had been given the most amazing gift of my sweet boy through adoption.  I was so thankful to be a mother, and to be able to wake up each morning with the knowledge that my life had been drastically and blessedly changed by motherhood.

We really don’t make a big deal out of presents for each other.  Instead, we enjoy giving gifts to others, and that year, we were so excited to see our son’s expression when he woke up.  As the morning progressed, we headed into the hearth room where our stockings are hung by the chimney.

As I reached my hand into my stocking, I felt a piece of paper.  I pulled out a letter (the one pictured above), and had no idea what in the world it was.  As I unfolded it and started reading, I realized it was a love letter.  It was not one of those “I’ve got a crush on you” kind of notes one may get in high school.  No, this was a love letter from a man to a woman.  It was a letter from his heart to mine. It was a letter of one’s humble admission of loving someone else more than that person would ever know.

There I was sitting half-disheveled in my pajama’s with tears rolling down my cheeks clutching a letter.  All of this occurred while my curly-haired 2-year-old squealed with the delights of Christmas morning.  My husband sat there a little embarrassed and a little stoic.  This letter was the best Christmas present I ever received.  From time to time, I pull the letter out and read it as a reminder of how special marriage is, and how lucky I am to have married someone who is one of the most self-less persons that I know.

This morning while thinking about the gift of that letter on Christmas morning, I thought of the love letter that the Lord has written for us.  Scripture really is our love letter from Him.  It is the grounding wisdom of our history, the guide for our every day walk, and the revelation of our future.  It is His promise skillfully described.

The Word brings life, love, and meaning.  The Word transforms us, shapes us, comforts us, and humbles us.  The Word creates for us the ability to stand firm in our faithful knowledge of the Lord, and it confirms to us how incredibly passionate our Heavenly Father loves each of us.

The Word is Love.

The next  time you need to be reminded of how loved you are, open your Bible and read the Lord’s letter of love written for all of us.

Related Article: Letter to my Lord

Heavenly Permanence

For my last post in recognition and celebration of National Adoption Month, I wanted to write something so bold, fresh, and new that everyone would want to become a foster and adoptive parent.  I wanted to try to list every well-known person (alive or deceased) who has either been adopted or who has adopted children.  I considered writing about persons in Scripture who were considered to be adopted, or at least, raised by persons other than their biological parents

I realized, though, that none of this compares to the incredible and profound blessing of our adoption by our Heavenly Father.  Through the sacrifice of His son and our acceptance of Christ as our Lord and Savior, we have been given an Eternal inheritance, and the promise of His love and His care.  We are sealed  by His grace.

The word permanency comes up often in child welfare.  Permanency refers to the goal of achieving something permanent in children’s lives.  I like to refer to it as the final place a child gets to call home.  We talk about the goals to attain permanency for children in the system all of the time.  Well, with the Lord, the goal has already been met and achieved!

Our permanency is in Heaven!  Now, isn’t that something to celebrate!!

“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” -2 Corinthians 6:18

Welcoming children, Welcoming Him

And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

-Matthew 18:5

I love working for a child welfare agency that is not only Christian in name, but in acts and philosophy.  The agency has been involved in the social welfare of children since 1886 and has evolved through the years as societal changes have occurred.  Although our services have developed through the years to meet the needs of children and families, our priority and reason why we do the work has not changed.  We know that we can serve the Lord by ministering to children who are hurting, youth who are struggling, and families who are broken.  We also believe and have witnessed the great miracles that occur in the lives of children and families through the love and acceptance of Christ.

One aspect of my job is to speak to families who have expressed an interest in foster care and adoption.  Like my husband and I, many families go into fostering with a desire to parent children and know that fostering is an avenue that could lead to adoption.  There are others who see it as a way to give back to children or their society.  Most of the Christian families I work with feel the Lord calling them to be foster parents and to adopt a child out of foster care.

Thinking about these families leads me straight to the Scripture noted above. Our Heavenly Father loves children.  They are near and dear to His heart.  One cannot also overlook the fact that He wants us to be like children when it comes to our walk with Him.

I really do enjoy witnessing the love of Christian families that is poured into children in need of foster and adoptive homes.  To see and know that change is happening in children’s lives is what keeps most of us in the field of child welfare going.  The Lord stirs the hearts of people so that they can minister to His children through fostering and adopting.  

Welcoming children in the name of the Father is a blessing.  Families who feel the Lord calling them out to become foster and adoptive parents are able to learn so much about their own personal journey with Christ.  One such foster parent who was hoping to adopt the child she was fostering, said to me, “The Lord reminded me that they are all His children.  We are just taking care of them.”

It is statements like the one above that confirm my personal belief that when people do what they are called to do, especially when it comes to caring for children, the Lord blesses them with His wisdom, His grace, and His power to withstand many trials.  When the Lord whispers His plan and His calling into the lives of others, they are able to whisper His love into the lives of children.  When one welcomes children, they welcome Him.

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~

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!

your words, His action

Have you ever been in a situation that you thought was somewhat insignificant, but ended up finding out that it was quite significant to someone else?  I have, and I would like to share it with you.

At the age of twenty, the doctor discovered a Dermoid cyst on my left ovary.  My left ovary had barely escaped the bacterial invasion that caused my hysterectomy at age eleven.  It was somewhat risky to leave the ovary in my body because of the rapid pace the bacterial infection was spreading, but the doctors decided it was worth the risk.

This ovary became the one thing in my mind that “kept” me female.  I know that is quite ridiculous now to say that, but I was so young when all of this nonsense happened.  Even at the age of twenty, I struggled with making sense of my “female-hood”.  By the time the cyst was found, it was too late.  My survivor ovary could not survive any longer.  The decision was made to remove it.

The surgery was scheduled to happen on my 20th birthday.  Yes,I lost an ovary on my 20th birthday!  Before I go any further though, I should explain that I am not exactly a great candidate for laparoscopic surgery.  Let’s just say that my insides are a little jumbled around and there is a tremendous amount of scar tissue.  All of my major surgeries have been done the “old-fashioned way”; meaning, cutting right down the middle of my abdomen.  This surgery to remove my ovary was not any different, so naturally there was a lot of prep work that had to occur before the surgery.

I was admitted to the hospital in the evening and stayed up most of the night before my surgery talking with my roommate.  She had her gall bladder removed and was in a great deal of pain.  I could not see her as the curtain was pulled the entire time.  We were both on pain medication, but talked about our medical histories and thoughts about life in general.  Of course, my medical history was a little more colorful than hers.  The next morning, she was gone before I got a chance to see her.

About three years later, when walking out of a college class with another student, the topic of my surgery came up.  I do not even know why the surgery came up, except maybe to explain my absence from classes.  Partly through my explanation of what all had happened, she stopped dead in her tracks, turned to face me, grabbed my arms, and said, “Caroline, You are the one.”

She went on to explain that her very good friend had her gall bladder removed and was feeling depressed and sorry for herself.  A young woman was admitted to the bed beside her.  Her friend shared that this young woman had been through so much and was still trying to be positive about health and life.  She never got the chance to see what this person looked like, but strongly felt the young lady was put in her room for a reason, and that reason was to help bring her out of the self-loathing slump she had been in.

That young woman was me.  I do not take credit for any of this.  I really do not even remember my exact words said to her or what all I may have shared.  Instead, I believe that the Lord placed me there at the right time and in the right circumstance to bring comfort to someone else.  The credit belongs to Him.

I decided to share this because of the potential impact all of us can make in the lives of others.  What may seem as insignificant events or simple conversations might just end up being exactly the things that someone needs to hear or witness.  We are all witnesses of a loving Heavenly Father.  He is able to use all of us to share hope, love, and our lives in a way that will glorify Him and help raise up humanity.

So, next time you think that conversation you had with the person standing behind you in the grocery line did not mean anything, think again.  You never know how the Lord will use your words to lay out His action to reach someone else.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. – Psalm 19:14