Sunday, September 24, 2017

Raising a World Changer {aka joy sprinkler}

We spent 4 days in Chicago this past week. You get to know some of the hotel staff as you come and go. The manager at the fitness center (aka pool) {where the kids and I spent the days Daddy was in meetings} loved to interact with the kids. After a few days, he came up to me and tell me he thinks Ruby is a world changer...that even though she's young, he believes she has quite a calling on her life. This is not the first time I've heard this.

And now I officially have some thoughts to share on my blog. (It's been a while. Oy.)

Parenting a strong-willed child, as many of you know, is more difficult than I could have imagined. It can be lonely, confusing, frustrating, and entertaining....a whirlwind, if you will.

She struggles to build relationships, but yet encourages and includes people who might be considered "unseen." She sprinkles joy everywhere she goes.

I've had a lot of people just say we should "break her spirit," and she will eventually obey. I'm so glad we haven't done that, even though it might make our journey more difficult, isolated, etc. Sure...breaking her spirit would {possibly} give us obedience. Dare I say immediate obedience?

OR I can try to rough out the edges with grace, understanding, and patience. Is it easy? No. Is it trying? Um, yes. Do I feel like it most days? Nope. Do I see fruition after all this time? Yes...and THAT is awesome.

I watched her time and time again this past week sprinkle joy everywhere she goes. She made businessmen, fancy ladies, and pet owners in the middle of a big city smile and chuckle with her silliness. She drew people in when they didn't even know they wanted to be drawn in.

And that, my friend, is why I know she will change the world. Even if it's just one smile at a time. Because she already has made a footprint. Handfuls of people over the course of this week smiled over a silly girl who sprinkles joy wherever she goes. And this momma is tired but so so proud of her girl.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The real heroes

 I hear lots of interesting things as a foster/adoptive momma.

"They're so lucky to have you." No, have no idea. I am, indeed, the lucky one. And unfortunately, my 3 kids have experienced deep loss {and will continue to do so for most of their lives}. So...I'm not sure luck is involved here. I'd like to think I'm an answer to their prayers, as they are an answer to mine. My kids have given me such gifts in themselves. Resilience I literally don't comprehend, determination to live fully, compassion that comes out of their own injustice...they all give these gifts freely and walk on. I am so grateful to have a front row seat to their stories.

"I don't know how you do it." I...parent? It's hard. It kind of simulates a roller coaster, actually. I haven't known a parent that doesn't say the same. So. Many. Ups. And. Downs. Where are the praise hands, y'all? Is there one among us that doesn't have a rough day now and again? So that's how I do it. The power of parenthood. It cuts through any child-brought-on-crisis in 3 seconds flat with unconditional love. Hall-e-lu-jah.

"What a heroic thing to take in these children." You guys. I'm no hero. Not in any sense. Heroes save the day. Heroes rescue people from burning buildings. Heroes fight battles for people they don't know. And my heroes? They are my children...all three of them. To walk through and live in a world when they belong to another one...that's heroic. To smile and love and hug and dream and LIVE while sorting through the continual fog of grief...that's heroic. To lose so many important people {and even places and things} and then still keep going with a smile on their face...that's heroic.

I fear that we, as a society, fail to recognize the heroic measures these kids go through by keeping on. As for me...I see it. I live it. I walk in it {sometimes it's more like trudging in it}. I breathe it.

I will never stop praying for my heroes {and the hundreds of others that I know personally} to come face to face with their grief and work to overcome it. I know the One who holds tomorrow. I know He has a plan. And that is where I rest.

My heroes? They show up and live fully.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Thing About Hope...

Hope can be so far away. And yet, isn't it true that sometimes it's the only thing we have to hold on to?

Hope that we won't always be in a certain situation.
Hope that we won't always be sick.
Hope for a deep, soul-quenching friendship.
Hope that tomorrow will be a bit brighter than today.
Hope for a change in our children...a change of heart, behavior, etc.
Hope for rest and relaxation.
Hope that a new job will come along that will meet our family's needs {soon}.
Hope for new life...a fresh-smelling baby to join the family.
Hope for our significant other to notice us again.
Hope for encouragement {from anyone...anything...any song or Word}.
Hope for a vacation in the next few years.
Hope for a family member's salvation.
Hope to find/meet "the one."
Hope for a decent, safe car that can get us from Point A to Point B.
Hope for a good, solid night of sleep.

Truthfully, these are all things I have hoped for in the recent past. Every one of them. Maybe you can relate. If not, add yours: hope for [fill in the bank].

And another honest statement: though the above mentioned quests were great, no matter how long they had been hoped for...there was still something else to hope in. The next thing, if you will.

The truth is, the only hope I will find is in Jesus. These situations are great. Fresh-smelling baby that you'd prayed for for 5 years falling in your lap...I can't beat that. But hope? That's literally the business Jesus is in.

We so easily lose hope. By we, I mean all of us. Every single one of us. Some of us are maybe more prone to it than others. But we all lose hope sometimes, whether it's in a particular situation or in general.

But Jesus...

Hebrews 6:17-20 paraphrase {by me}: We have this hope as an anchor: Jesus paid it all. He literally handed us the rights to God's love and heaven. The end.

It's not about how good we are {though we try to be good}.
It's not about how much we've done in His name {though we try to do things in his name}.
It's not about what we do or don't do.
It's not about what we believe or don't believe.
It's not about who we love.
It's only Him.

So my hope...I keep trying to redirect it these days. It's in Jesus alone....Jesus alone. In Him I will put my hope. And that's a hope I can cling to.

Friday, February 24, 2017

On telling their story

I am surrounded by adoption. When I mean surrounded, I mean sur.round.ed. My sister has 6; I have 3; One roommate from college spends her days matching families, supporting birth mommas and new adoptive parents (check her out here); My best friend has 3; My "people" where I live all have adopted children. You could say we just kinda...gravitate toward each other and need each other and our experiences.

Each of those families is filled with adopted children, biological children, step-children. And each of those children have their own story.

One of the concerns adoptive parents often have for their child is how to tell their story.

Many have been warned not to tell ANYONE. It's not our story to tell. However, those of us who have adopted transracially or globally will often be asked {by strangers sometimes} about our family. Advice: have a blanket quick-tell of the version of the story that most involves you. Maybe share why your family chose to adopt. Read on for more advice, but I promise it's not to keep it all a bit fat secret.

Many are wanting to keep adoption private. Often there's so much loss involved in the decisions made around adoption that some people prefer to keep it quiet. You do that. Advice: please know...there are so many of us out here that can help support you. We can hold your hand or hold you up. We can whisper promises that God has set on our hearts through our journey. Sometimes it feels better that we aren't the only one walking this road.

Many are proud to tell their family's story. Maybe even eager. You want to spread all the news to all the people. You want your story to maybe push another family into this journey of love. You want to share, share, share. Advice: Do that. Be eager about your adoption. Tell the impact it's had on your family. Tell the way it has blessed you personally. Be careful, though, about personal details you share about your child's family and past. This is especially important in foster care, where there is so much grief and loss in losing a parent (no matter how long they had with them).

While I offer no judgement, I can offer my experience {for what it's worth}. I was adopted domestically through an agency, and now as a grown adoptee, I am now an adoptive parent through foster care (for now). We have three children who have all blessed us in more ways than we can tell.

The truth is, adoption is hard. It's beautiful. But it's hard. Bonding is hard. Loving kids from hard places is hard. There's so much loss (often on both sides) that makes it hard to navigate. On the "telling of their story," it's not ours to tell, parents. It's just not.

As a child, I remember being told "you don't have to tell people you're adopted." Somewhere along the way, even though it wasn't part of the language my parents used for adoption, deep down, I felt it {being adopted} was something to be ashamed of. As if the loss and abandonment feelings aren't great enough.

My story is amazing. My parents are amazing. My family is amazing. My life has been amazing. Being adopted is part of who I am. I wanted {needed} to tell people. I did. And not everyone does, but it's not our jobs to tell the stories of our kids.

People want to hear them...boy howdy, do they. But I say a lot..."That's not my story to tell." So what they hear instead is my portion. 

As a parent, my story is full of gratitude that he/she is mine. I am broken and sad about the loss they have encountered. And I am hopeful of the plan God has for all three of my children....simply because He's already ordained so much.

As an adoptee, I am an open book. My experience and loss and grief might be able to help someone along the way. Ask away. My story is full of Gods timing and grace and humor and the best family I could ever ask for. ❤️

The truth is - adoption = the gospel. It's messy and ugly. It's redemptive and beautiful. It's hard to grasp, and so full of love that you can't contain it. So let's tell our story...not theirs. When they're ready / able / willing...they'll tell theirs.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Adoption: The Truth About Our Hurt

I have a unique perspective. As an adoptee who has adopted, I get both sides. The only leg of the adoption triangle I'm missing is the birth momma.

Adoption is this...amazing experience I have had the pleasure of knowing so intimately. It's who I am. It's my past and present and future. God gave me this amazing family who nurtured me and led me up in Christ. I was loved. I am loved. My family is such a gift. And now I get to love and nurture three souls that I have been hand-picked to parent through foster/adoption.

To say that this road is all roses and butterflies would be...untrue. And to be honest, no parenting road is smooth sailing. If someone claims that it is, perhaps they haven't hit certain stages yet. Or maybe they're lying. 😜

The truth is, parenting kids from hard places is both incredibly challenging and terribly sad. It's hard. the essence of true transparency, I thought I'd write a little about the hurt and pain we adoptees go through. Please read this with no judgement and no "psychological answers," because the truth's there. The older I get, the more I feel like one day (or year) it will go away, but it doesn't.

And remember: this doesn't mean we don't love the life we've been given and blessed with. I'm just hoping to let light in to your adoptee's mind...even if they can't put words to it.

There are days when we're sad and we don't know why. Only to realize later that it's because we didn't sleep last night as we thought/dreamt/imagined our birth family and how life maybe would have been. Does it mean we want a different life? No. {For me, never.} But does it mean we wonder? Yes. We do. And then our feelings drift to why? That "why" will hang over our heads until we get the chance to ask the ones who can answer it, which some of us never will.

Birthdays are much harder than one would think. Not because we're growing older. No. It's because we can't stop wondering if the proverbial "they" are thinking about us. Do they remember this day? What are their memories/feelings/regrets about this day? Or is it just another day for them? Do they remember? Do they miss me? Do they wish they knew me?

There's a lot more guilt than we talk about. We wrestle with our desire to want to know more (everything) about our heritage/birth family/genes. We worry that will make our adoptive family think we love them less. We don't. But we need to know basic things that most people automatically have given to them upon birth into a family. Let us explore. Let us search. Let us meet. Let us love and be loved by both of the families who made us who we are. Without abandon. And maybe help us along the way.

Don't assume gratitude. This is a hard one for me to type. I am impacted greatly by gratitude; I believe we all are. But don't assume that we should be grateful for the life we've been given. Especially in those teenage years, when all we search for is autonomy, sometimes all we can think about is how life would/could be better/different. Don't say to me, "You should be grateful for the family you have." I am grateful. We are. We adoptees are. But why should we assume that our life is greater without our "roots?" That's a hard pill to swallow for us.

I look into my 3 kid's eyes and I sometimes even admittedly think that. That I wish they'd be grateful for the sacrifice and love and hard issues we sludge through with them. But the truth is, I know they are silently fighting a battle that they don't even want to be in.

And so in our home, we provide safety and (hopefully) transparency. We talk about birth family and birth parents as fluidly as we talk about our own. We talk about what could have been, what might have been. We talk about how all of our family has shaped who we are. We talk about how we have to choose which way to to pick the good parts of all of it and learn to be comfortable with who we are. We talk about how hard birthdays are. And sometimes, when relaying our conversations to my husband, tears are shed. Because I don't want my children to know how I understand both sides now. I get them wanting their roots. And I also get me wanting to protect them from whatever possible harm there could be in their roots.

We celebrate big days (birthdays, gotcha, adoption, etc) with the realization that the only way our family can celebrate these days is because our child has experienced such a great and devastating loss. That can not be forgotten or left out.

Similar to life itself, great beauty rises from the ashes of hurt. And though no family is perfect, mine was perfect for me. I pray when my three are grown, they will say the same of us.

And most importantly, the beauty outweighs the hurt. Always.


Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Power of Presence

I have been working on this post for a long time. Years, actually.

We tragically lost my in-laws two winters ago...42 days apart. Before that, we went through job loss and unemployment (for months and months). And really since we've been married, we've suffered with infertility. We've had fall out from lifelong friendships. We've walked through dark days when friends had to say goodbye to their own child.

The truth is hard. Like...*really* hard.

Not that we should expect anything less. I am positive if we asked people to list their hardships, it would be hard to pen. But {sometimes} worse than the hardships themselves are the {well-meaning} people and their...phrases.

I know I'm not the only one here who is tired of all the clichés and phrases. You know the ones.

"God'll never give you more than you can handle."
"Everything happens for a reason."
"He/she is in a better place now."
"He gives the hardest trials to the strongest."
"God needed another angel."
"God brings us through trials to make us stronger."
"Forgive and forget."

...and the list goes on and on...

One cliché I have found to be true: your true friends do come out in the darkest of days. The people who will just come and sit. The ones who go out of their way to love you. I must say the people that have loved us through our struggles are my favorite people to this day.

The power of presence. It's a phrase I've been blowing around in my mind for a while. I'm not sure if I heard it somewhere or what. But boy. There sure is power in presence. I wish I had known sooner. I wish I had been more "there" for people I love when they were walking their darkest days. We all get caught up in how uncomfortable it is and what will we say and how will we smile ever again to them...

The truth is sitting with them is what they need. Maybe a listening ear. Maybe someone to whisk their children away so they can sleep. Maybe meals, maybe words, maybe hugs, maybe flowers. But for sure presence.

Presence is powerful. Don't ever question that...from one who has experienced it from all the angles.

Presence. Is. Powerful.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Adoption + Dory

I have to tell my side. I have to. I feel like everyone and their mother (literally 😂) has something to say about Dory & adoption. Please hear my perspective as both an adoptee and an adoptive momma. 

My family was able to go see Finding Dory the day it came out! What a blessing!

I will preface this by saying that I didn't do much research about the movie beforehand (which is honestly rare). We have much anticipated this film since Nemo, as it is one of our favorites. So when we got cheap tickets, we were in our seats, popcorn in hand. 

I'm sure you've seen all the reviews and {almost} panicky parents warning us to be careful what we expose our adoptive/foster children to. And while I agree, you will also hear me pleading with you to not shelter them from feeling the things we need to feel. They're a part of who we are. 

I use "we" because I am one of them. I am adopted. And I feel all those feelings. I felt them at 4 and 10 and now at {ahem} 35. And no matter how hard you try as an adoptive parent, you can not feel or even know or even partially comprehend the thoughts/feelings/emotions that we go through on a daily/weekly/monthly/annual basis. We don't speak of them. For many reasons, but they're there.

Here is my response to the many reviews and posts on Adoption + Dory. 

As an adopted person, I'm gonna be honest. Finding Dory was both an awesome and terrifying experience for me. I felt all the feels, right alongside Dory. I had all the "issues" come up that are mentioned in the reviews, and I am a grown woman who has now adopted 2 (almost 3) of my own.

During the movie at one point, my adoptive son was letting me hug him (which is rare on any given day). There's this one scene where Dory says all the hard stuff, "What if they don't want me to find them? What if I find them and they don't want to see me? What if they're mad at me. What if they think this is my fault?" 

And I was sobbing. These questions are real and hard and heart breaking and silent in our lives. No one dares say them aloud. And I'm not even from foster care. I don't have great or horrible memories with my birth family. But that doesn't mean I still don't wonder what life would have been like (even if I wouldn't change a thing).

I still think about these questions every day. And until they get answered, they will be asked. And I dare say most of us adoptees think these same thoughts are are quite possibly comforted that someone said them aloud. 

So far, my kids haven't really talked about any issues that came with this movie, but I'm certain it brought stuff up. I'm certain of it. So instead of shielding them from it, I will be here, ready to talk, ready to listen, ready to say, "this sucks feeling this way. I'm sorry you're feeling this way." 

And I will hug them and be comforted that a movie said my/our feelings aloud, and even though they're hard to hear, is actually kind of awesome. Yes. There are things to process. As an adult, and for my sweet,sweet children from hard places.

So, adoptive/foster parents, let's do that. In a non-threatening way. I would be more concerned about making sure my child can always say exactly how they feel (about adoption/foster and the myriad of emotions it wells up at the most random of moments in life). I would hear the hard things and love, love, love. I would save my tears for when they can't see so they don't try to keep their feelings from me.

Because who else are they going to tell? I want to be the one. And so I will try. 

#adoptionisbeautiful #itsalsoreallyreallyhard