Finding my delight in the journey of adoption.

Archive for May, 2012

Celebration

My wonderful friends in Chicago are throwing me a party to celebrate the coming of the children. I have agonized over whether I wanted to have such a party for months (and at times, I’m still agonizing). I’m still trying to work through all my reasons, but I think it boils down to a few.

One is definitely my own sin – pride and need to control. I really don’t like people doing things for me. For better or for worse, I’ve been an independent person since early on in my life. I’ve always been given and taken control of situations. It’s partly due to my personality and partly to the way my parents parented me. They basically let me make decisions and chart my own course from a very early age. I still struggle with seeking counsel from people on decisions. DH will call everyone and then tell me to call my
parents, and I’m always confused as to why. I’ll call them with the news of the decision we made and don’t understand why you would call before that!

I think thy mentality carries over into the party. I resist people doing things for me and having opinions about how I should do things. Every time someone has said, you should have a shower, I shudder because I feel like people are telling me what to do. (You can see some potential for marital issues here…we are working on it!)

Another big issue is infertility. Infertility has made me resistant to anything that equates adoption with pregnancy/babies. It’s not the same thing. It’s really not. I’m ok with that but sometimes other people aren’t. Some people will do anything to convince you that adoption is just like when you are expecting – full of joy, dreams and anticipation. Unlike when you are expecting a healthy baby to be born, adoption is wrought with pain, loss, grief, sorrow, and more pain.

(I know many people who have had terribly painful and high-risk pregnancies, miscarriages, stillbirths, unwanted pregnancies, and children with various forms of special needs – definitely not trying to say that every pregnancy is full of joy. Those pregnancies are in their own separate category as well, and we should be more sensitive to that.)

Of course there are elements of joy in adoption. There are so many. But all come at the cost of a loss. In this fallen world, adoption is necessary because of sin, suffering and evil in the world.

Because I feel like adoption is so different, I am resistant to trying to pretend like it’s not. I feel like one of the biggest lessons God taught me (and continues to teach me) is that I was idolizing my dreams of the future. I had it all planned out. It was going to be great. I made the plans, barely presented them to God and asked for his stamp of approval. Oh silly women. I was like the guy who told Jesus, I will follow you as soon as I bury my father. We know what Jesus thought of that.

The Lord has absolutely reworked my plan. It barely resembles the original. In fact, I don’t even have a plan anymore. I honestly have no idea what my life is going to look like this time next year. Absolutely anything is on the table. I am not in charge. God can do what he likes. I’m just along for the ride begging to love and serve him however he sees fit

The final reason I’ve been resistant is because there is such a huge emphasis on the need to accumulate stuff. As you know from past entries, that’s the opposite mojoe from the way we have been trying to handle 2012.

I know there’s good in this – people wanting to show love and bless us. We so appreciate the sentiment. We would just love people to show that love In a different way. It’s not because we are dumb and don’t get how much stuff a kid needs. It’s not because we are judgmental and think stuff is evil. It’s because we have found through the fast that we are addicted to stuff. We love stuff more than we love God, and that is not ok. If you knew how many times I looked at kids bedding from Land of Nod, you would be appalled. Who spends that much time fantasizing about buying stuff? An idolator.

I have finally come around because I have amazing friends who totally get me and where we are coming from. They are so excited to celebrate with us and respect our weird issues. Even better, they care most about giving glory to God and using the time to praise him and worship him.

I’m ready to celebrate!

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What I’ve Been Doing without TV

We officially received Katie’s court documents this week, and they’ve been translated. Hopefully, our agency will send off the I600 form to USCIS by the end of the week. Things are moving. Sometimes it feels like a snail’s pace, but they are moving. The fantastic news is that it is very unlikely we would be in a situation where we’d have to make two trips to get the kids. This is a huge blessing, and I’m so glad that God kept me from worrying about that possibility. Let this be a lesson about worrying.

We had a nice visit with the in-laws over the weekend and are heading to Cincinnati on Saturday to spend time with my brother-in-law’s family. I am very excited to see my nephews and to collect some clothes for Freddy (nephews are 7 and 4). The highlight of the weekend was a luncheon that our church put on for mothers of students who attend an after school program in some low income neighborhoods. It was such a blessing to serve and fellowship with those mothers. My in-laws were good sports helping to serve as kitchen staff and waiters.

I’ve been reading some pretty heavy books lately, but I really recommend them. The first was Passport Through Darkness by Kimberly Smith. Let’s just say this is one heck of a woman. The stuff she’s gone through to bring hope and healing to orphans in Sudan is unsurpassed by anyone else I’ve ever read. It’s a great book on marriage because her marriage suffered tremendously while she and her husband struggled through the emotionally and physically exhausting work. It’s also a great book about God’s provision. I hate the saying that “God never gives more than you can handle” since it’s not at all biblical nor is it true, and this book proves it! God gave her WAY more than she could ever handle, and yet, he provided her with the courage, strength and healing. If you want to be convicted and have your heart absolutely torn up for the world, I highly recommend this book.

The second book that I just finished today is called Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick. It’s a book about North Korea told through stories about 6 North Korean defectors. It follows their lives through North Korea in the 1960s through their defection in the early 2000s. Wow! What an eye-opener. I had no idea what life really looks like, and my heart was broken over and over for the people of North Korea. I learned so much about the repression, brainwashing and absolute torture these people suffer every day. It definitely convicted me to pray for them. I think we often think of the repressive regimes of Iran or Saudi Arabia, but I don’t think those countries hold a candle to what happens in North Korea. People there have been literally starved to death by their government for the last 20 years. Another book I would recommend.

I may need to turn to some lighter reading for a few weeks. This media fast has got me reading a lot of books this month.


Peace

Praying for peace today. I am feeling quite restless and anxious. Still not feeling like I can really do anything and yet I really want to.

This morning I read Psalm 29, and in verse 11, it says that the Lord will give his people strength and peace. I have been repeating this verse all day.

I am very excited that friends are planning a celebration party in June. I look forward to sharing some joy with them. I’ve been lacking in the joy category. This morning when I was freaking out and whining to God, the Spirit told me to rejoice always. I said, really? Always? But what about…

Media fast is not going well. I fell off the wagon yesterday and watched an episode of Modern Family. I desperately wanted to just zone out for a little while. I know, no excuse. Them today, I checked the news headlines. I have no self-control. On the good side, I have had much more deep prayer time and good bible reading the last two nights.

Again and again I come back to this question – how can I be content in the present? How can I rest in the Lord? I am feeling like I will never quite get answers on this side of heaven, but I guess that is ok.


Summit Debrief

The long-awaiting Summit debrief is finally pouring out of my brain. What a great weekend! I went to Summit with a friend of mine and her husband. We met another friend out there who used to attend our church.
Night One opened with a night of worship with the Saddleback worship team. We also had a lovely time of prayer and communion. It was the perfect way to get the conference started. Day One consisted of some opening remarks followed by two awesome sessions with Karyn Purvis. Dr. Purvis is the guru on parenting kids from hard places. Her vision, theories and techniques are not terribly complex, but they are known to work. I learned so much about brain development and child development. Dr. Purvis’ three most important tools for children – (1) eye contact; (2) physical touch, and (3) opportunities to say yes. (DH says this is what he needs as well!) I picked up a bunch of materials and am enjoying going through them.

My third breakout session was with Russell Moore. If you haven’t read Adopted for Life, you are truly missing out. Dr. Moore is theologically brilliant and uniquely missional in his preaching. He spoke on "How the Evangelical Orphan Care Movement Can Wreck Itself." He emphasized that we must not be motivated by the numbers or the need but by the Cross. A good reminder for me. He also spoke about the fact that adoption/foster care/orphan care is hard work and not pretty. My favorite quote (not exact) was: when you accept your calling from God, you will not hear a soft soundtrack but the sound of a cross being placed on your back. I think I already hear that to some extent and know that I will continue.

Night Two started with a viewing of a movie called "Faultless" about the foster care system. It was very eye-opening and heart-breaking. Praise God for people who foster children and adopt from foster care. There is such a need, especially for older children. Children of any age desperately need and want a family. Can you imagine what it’s like to age-out of foster care with no family? You are 18 years old and have no ties to any human beings. No one to call for advice. No one to support you. Most men end up in jail in their 20s and most women are on food stamps. So tragic.

Then, the headliner – Francis Chan!! What is there to say? Everything that man preaches is convicting. I love his style. He encouraged us to give thanks and pray. Amen to that.

Day Two I attended some more breakout sessions – 2 on multi-cultural families. The first was from the perspective of adoptees and was a good reminder that I need to always think about things from the childrens’ viewpoint and not from my own. The second panel was a panel of adoptive dads, and it was terrible! Suffice it to say that they should have gone to the adoptee panel.

We also heard lots of great testimonies from former foster kids and adult adoptees. Those are always my favorite stories.

A few words on Saddleback – wow!! What a church! It’s basically a small college campus complete with book store, coffee shop, two auditoriums, restaurants, and a huge childrens’ center. Rick and Kay Warren are great speakers and clearly have a heart for missions and for orphans. I greatly enjoyed listening to them, and I look forward to checking out Kay’s book – Choosing Joy.

The last night was a concert by Stephen Curtis Chapman. A very fun and uplifting end to a wonderful time.


Blessings

Katie is through court! Hooray! We haven’t seen the documents yet, but our agency says they have the first set with the rest to hopefully follow next week. Praise God.

We so need these updates. I feel like I am at the point of total and complete desperation before each one. It’s like God takes me as far as He can without me completely losing it (DH probably thinks that I’m way beyond losing it), and then He gives the grace. It sometimes feels like a cruel process, but I am choosing joy (thanks Kay Warren) and trusting that God is preparing me for something even bigger. I have a feeling that I will continue to be pressed beyond my limits for the rest of my life.

Come on I600 approvals!


Hotels

I am sitting alone in my hotel room for two days of work meetings. Not exactly the high life, but I can’t complain.

The upside is two nights alone in a nice hotel room. I love my hubbie, and I would prefer to be with him, but there’s something delightful about staying in a hotel room.

1. You can eat in bed. I’m sorry but lying down under blankets and eating is pure luxury. Especially since if you get food in the bed, you can always move to the other side to sleep.

2. Maid service. Enough said. Save water? No thanks. I need new towels every day.

3. TV. Although, I cannot partake in this joy this trip. I’m just lying in bed with nothing to do, staring at a giant flat screen TV. It’s taunting me, saying “don’t you want to watch Everybody Loves Raymond on TLC, or Giada on the Food Network? No one will ever know.” I write this so you all know. Pray for me.

4. KJV bible. What a world! Whenever people complain about the downfall of American Christianity, remember, there’s still a Bible in every hotel room. And a KJV one for that matter!

5. The darkness. How does it stay so dark? What do they make these curtains out of?

Off to eat an orange in bed and read the Bible in the drawer. Good night.


Praise

I finally got hooked up with a google group of other families adopting from DRC through the same agency/orphanage.  What a blessing it’s been to connect with these folks over the last day.  And, the best part is that they’ve been sharing photos and video of the orphanage.  We’ve seen so many great pics of our kiddos.  They are really growing, and they are SO cute (I’m biased).  Then, we also got new photos from the agency yesterday.  We finally saw some really great natural smiles and even some goofing ones.  We saw video of Carolyn jumping and dancing.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

I will post on Summit as soon as I have time…