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.