On the Shelf

24 May 2012

There probably isn't anyone ridiculously faithful enough to me to still be reading this poor neglected blog, but that's okay. I really started it for me and my kids anyway, and if it has returned to that, I'm not ashamed. This particular post, however, is one I feel should be read by more than the people who inhabit my house. I really do hope it makes its way to other moms who feel "on the shelf."

When I married Aa, we agreed that we wanted our children to be close in age to one another. Each of us has a much younger (8 years) sibling and we wanted our kids to experience the friendship of near-in-age sibs. That was plan. And, for a short time, while we were in the process of adopting Pea and another little boy from Liberia, it looked like we'd have three kids spaced exactly a year apart. No kidding--their birthdays are July 2003, July 2004, and July 2005! Well, it didn't work out that way and only Pea joined the family. If you've read the backlogs, or know us well, you know that left an open space in our family that we greatly desired to be filled. Well, it took much longer than we anticipated, but Pup finally joined the fam. While there aren't 8 years between him and his sibs, it's close to that amount of separation.

Another advantage of having closely spaced children is that they are all in relatively the same developmental stage. Punk and Pea are peers, but Pup completely changed the family dynamic. My role as Mama changed dramatically when Pup came home to us over a year ago. Before Pup, I had regained a measure of the independence I had pre-kids. With the bigs in school (and pre-school before that), I was resurfacing as a contributing member of the society outside my home. But, the arrival of Pup (much anticipated and much celebrated) thrust me back into a place of limited daily freedom.

I don't want this to sound like a gripe session, because it really isn't that. I'm just trying to put to words the feeling of having a baby/toddler attached to my hip. While I absolutely adore this little child and don't want to miss out on any part of his little life, it is rather consuming to be his mother. I rarely go anywhere without him. My schedule revolves around him, as do most of my moment-by-moment, day-by-day choices. Most of the compliments I get are really about him. Many of the conversations I have are about him and/or my other kids. It's pervasive.

A few months ago, our local LifeLine Pregnancy Center put out a call for volunteers. I called to find out how I could help. Turns out, I would have to pay someone to hang out with Pup so I could volunteer my time. It just doesn't make sense at this season. But, it is experiences like that that were beginning to make me feel hemmed in.

And, not just hemmed in. I was also feeling useless, or, as I tend to think of it, "on the shelf." I know this is all just a season--one that will fly by very quickly--but it is a season where I feel stuck in the pantry, like that box of Panko I bought once. It had a purpose, a specific recipe I was making when I bought it. I used the Panko and then returned it to the shelf. I've never used it again. I see it there in the pantry from time to time and think, "Oh, I should do something with that." But, I never do. Poor little box of Panko on the shelf. And this season of consuming mothering feels like that to me--waiting, wanting to make a contribution, to be a part of something bigger than myself, bigger than my four walls, but being stuck here, unused, unimportant, unwanted.

Okay, so I know those three "uns" aren't really, really true, but my day-to-day experience started out whispering and wound up shouting those words to my heart. So, one day, an email appeared on my screen inviting me to take a class at church about spiritual gifts. It seemed kind of urgent at this point, so I signed on, hoping that this class could somehow revive my self-concept and breathe God's life back into me while simultaneously helping find the direction I was desperately seeking to express myself and be of some use to the Kingdom.

One requirement of the class was to take a "spiritual gifts inventory" (here if you're interested) and identify your top three areas of gifting. I have taken such a "test" before (more than once), but it had been a long time, definitely as long as I've been a mother, probably longer. I admit, I hold a bit of cynicism about these things (I think it's easy to "trick" the test and make it tell you you are what you want to be) and prefer to have a person tell me what they see in me. But, being a first-born rule-abider, I did it anyway. I was somewhat surprised by the results. My top three (in order from highest) were Giving, Mercy, and Teaching. Teaching has always been in the mix, from the very first time I took one of these tests when I was a mere church-goer but not yet in a relationship with Jesus. The other two were new to the top.

At first, the fact that Giving was the top confirmed my fears. I was living vicariously through my husband, the embodiment of generosity. Sigh. I'm no longer a contributing member of society or the Kingdom. I'm just my husband's shadow.

Mercy showing up there was interesting to me, though. I don't normally think of myself in that way. I tend to be emotional, yes, but practical. Empathetic, but not tolerant of stupidity. As I said, Teaching wasn't a surprise, but I haven't had much opportunity to practice or utilize it and don't see much opportunity on the horizon.

Mother's Day was just a few days after I took the test. My adoption journey has opened my mind to all the kinds of mothers that exist in this world and the many ways they've been hurt in their journeys. In the days leading up to this holiday, I prayed for the women I know who want to be mothers but haven't conceived yet, for those who are mothers, but aren't raising their babies, for those who have lost babies before they ever held them in their arms, and others. Looking back, these were definitely prayers of compassion and mercy. In addition, I sent a little reminder to my pastoral staff to consider these wounds when celebrating the mothers in our congregation on Sunday. Fortunately, our pastors are very humble and value the gifts of the body. They took this exhortation and through it, a young woman and her mother were deeply touched by God. And that's just one testimony that got back to us. I'm confident that God touched others that morning as a result of my prayers leading up to that day. When I heard this testimony a few days into the week, I wept. Because God had so sweetly touched a woman. Because He had so clearly, pointedly answered my prayers. Because He used ME to be a part of this testimony. Because He confirmed outstandingly that not only had He gifted me with mercy, but even more than that, He was using this gift in me to change people, to affect His Kingdom! In fact, He just smashed those three "uns"--He confirmed that I am useful, wanted, and important. It was a sweet, sweet kiss from Him to me.

But, still, it niggled at me that giving was high on my list. Last night was the last class. When it was over, I took one of the instructors, a friend of mine, and the pastor's wife (all one woman!) aside and confessed that it was still bothering me that giving had jumped to the top of my list just because I happen to be married to a giver! She understood and admitted that her gifts have shifted over time as well, lining up better with her husband's. As we spoke, it occurred to me that God really NEEDED to make me a giver. He NEEDED to give me that particular gift if He was going to use Aa in that way. I mean, if Aa is high in Administration, what is that to me? If he's high in helps, how does that affect me? But, if Aa is going to be a generous giver, I had better be on board! How can Aa freely and easily move in his gifting of generosity unless I love giving too? And I do! It's so fun to be able to fund the great things happening around the world.

I also told my friend that I don't really have an outlet for my teaching gift. She said, "Oh yes you do! I see that all over you! In your writing!" Oh. (face-palm) So, apparently, I'm not quite so shadowy and on-the-shelf as I thought. I'm just a little blind. : )

If you're feeling on-the-shelf, I would love to pray for you. You can leave me a comment or shoot me an email (see the column on the right). I hope this helps encourage you that you really aren't stuck in the pantry either, you probably just aren't seeing how God has you mixed into His recipes. : )

Dreams of Home

11 October 2011

Wow. Every time I post here I feel I have to apologize for being away so long. But, you know, it's just so much easier to pop a couple sentences on facebook than to blog several paragraphs here.

Well, here's the quick update: Aa just returned from nearly 2 weeks in UG. He had an amazing time there, and we didn't do too bad here ourselves. Even though the bigs' 3-week fall break coincided with Aa's trip. Thankfully, my mom retired this year and was able to be here the whole time Aa wasn't. Otherwise, I might have pulled all my hair out.

This is the last week of the bigs' break and they are doing okay at finding ways to entertain themselves, even though it's been rainy out. This morning, Punk started one of his lists. This one is all about his future home. I had to share it here, spelling preserved (he did ask about a few words).

Home
1 Log cabin
2 tvs
2 wiis
1 snakeskin carpet
1 bear skin carpet
2 laptops
1 desk with scientist stuff on it
10 frames with snake on it
1 snake skin curtin
3 cats
2 dogs
1 small bed
2 cunfy chairs
1 soafa
walls painted green, red, blue
floors are bamboo
ferrari
river
5 fish
2 globes
1 hot tub
a picture of mom dad sister brother
laser guns surounding house
pretend fruit
camras outside
satalight dish
securaty (security) room

Job (second list)
working for the presadent as a scientist
invenchins (he hasn't gotten these written down yet)

I just thought we'd all have fun looking through these lists again in a few years...or 50. :)

Send Aa to UG and Teach Your Kids About Money at the Same Time!

19 Aug 2011

Hey there, blogosphere! It's my birthday! Yay! 35!

But, better than that, there's only about one month left until Aa leaves for Uganda! I'm sooooooo very excited for him to get to experience some of what I experienced 18 months ago. The sweet, sweet people are life-changers!

To help finance his trip, Aa has made a brand-new design for a money box/bank like we use with our kids (he made theirs too, but this new design is really great!). It's up for auction on Ebay and all the money he makes from it will be put toward his trip fees. The great thing about this bank is that it has three "wells" for the money to go in. The wells are marked (on the lid) share (for donations/tithes), save (to deposit in the bank or other investments at your convenience), and spend (to be used on desires). You can use this tool to discuss the different ways of using money, how to budget, how to be generous, and to pass on your values concerning money with your kids.

We have worked out what we feel is a good system for using this tool. We want to give our kids as realistic a perspective as possible to prepare them for adulthood. I hope this description of what we do will help you determine what will work well for your family.

We give our kids a salary (going to school is their "job") each week; they do not get an allowance for doing household chores because that is just part of being a family. They receive their salary in dimes so that they can easily divide it up into the different uses. We require that some goes in each well each week. They decide what to spend their spend money on and set long-term goals for their savings. They also decide where and when to contribute their give money. Each school year they get a raise and when grades become more meaningful, they will get "performance bonuses" based on their achievements at school. So far, this method has worked really well for our now 6 and 7 year olds.

So, please go to Ebay now and bid on the great tool for a great cause! Thanks!

Visit with AB

9 August 2011

After church on Sunday, Pup and I drove down to GA to meet with AB for our 6 month visit. Lucky for me, Pup slept most of the way and traveled very
well. He's such a good baby!

Always looking to save money where possible, I had booked us in a cheapy motel. It was only for one night--how bad could it be, right? Bwahahahaha!

When checking in, I asked for a non-smoking room on the first floor. I also requested a baby bed or crib. No problem. Room 116 in the back, first floor. As I drove around to the back of the building, I noticed first that the room was on the corner, so no neighbors on one side at least. Very nice. When I opened the door (which had a no-smoking placard on it) wafts of stale smoke smell undulated over me and Pup. Ug.

I dropped the diaper bag on the floor, tossed Pup on the bed, and heaved my overnight bag (half-full of empty bottles) onto the table. Then I burst into a fit of ironic giggles. I'd shoved this (see photo below) out of the way of the suitcase!

A few minutes later the "host" from the front desk knocked. He rattled on about another guest with a similar surname and city name who had also requested a crib. "But, that is not you, right? Just to be clear: I need to get two cribs, right?" Uh, yeah. Seems that way.

Before long there was another knock at the door and he was back (with a man who could have been his father?) with a collapsible crib from, oh, say, 7 decades ago? It was fully assembled, with two adult pillows, two full-size sheets and a full-size mattress pad (which he referred to as a blanket) heaped inside. After they had left, I stared at the crib with it's fold-down legs all askew and it's generally rickety appearance, wondering whether it would withstand the 21.5 lbs of baby I would place within it in a few hours.

After feeding Pup, we went to Olive Garden for soup, salad and breadsticks. We were seated with older couples all around us. Which could have spelled disaster. But actually proved to be entertaining--for all of us! Pup got his accustomed level of attention and the other customers were delighted with his cuteness. :) Before we left, I asked for a little sumthin-sumthin for later and we headed back to our humble abode away from home for the night.

After Pup went to sleep, I watched plenty of Food Network and HGTV (we don't have cable at home), painted my toenails (boy did they need it!) and consumed my little bit of luxury.

Next morning, Pup and I had a leisurely waking period from 6-9. After checking out, we headed to the mall where we were to meet AB and our social worker. Fortunately, I found a little play area to hang out in because AB brought her daughter (M, Pup's half-sister) along this time. It was the first time I had met M and I was very pleased for the opportunity.

M turned two in March. She is full of life and energy and is a happy little girl. She seems older than two as she is big, articulate, and socially mature. I would have pegged her as a pre-schooler had I not known better. She was comfortable with me and let me hold her and talk to her right away. Like most toddlers, she was enthralled with the baby and gave him lots of hugs and kisses.

AB and I chatted about mundane things while she held and played with Pup. M had a great time playing independently, especially on the tiny slide. The only problem was that she was wearing a sweet dress and her little legs kept sticking to the slide!

After a while, we headed to the food court for lunch. After we’d eaten, our social worker slipped away for a moment. I had prayed before our last meeting and felt like God spoke to me that AB might be afraid that she was a disappointment to me/us/Pup. I couldn’t work it into the conversation last time, but when I prayed about this meeting, the same word “disappointment” came up. So, I felt I should address it. When we were alone together (with the kids), it seemed like a good moment. So, I leaned toward AB and asked, “Can I go deep with you for just one moment?” She looked nervous, but gave me the go-ahead. I asked whether she was afraid that she was or would disappoint us. She said, “Yeah, I guess, a little” in a way that told me it was really more than just a little. So, I took the opportunity to pour love and acceptance on her. I told her that she is not at all a disappointment to me! That I love her, that she is a shining, beautiful delight to me. I affirmed that she is the redeemed of the Lord, precious to Him, clothed by Him in a queenly robe—and that if He sees her that way, who am I to disagree? J I told her that no matter what she does, her behavior and choices don’t define her—Jesus does. And I agree with Him—she is utterly a delight to me and I am so glad she is part of my life.

She cried a bit and didn’t have much to say in response. Which I anticipated. The kids made an easy transition from the deep back to our normal surface level. I plan to write out my feelings about this for her to keep. Partly, because I express myself so much better in writing and partly because I want her to have it written down, in black and white, where she can read it and believe it whenever she wants or needs to.

The social worker returned and it was time to say good-bye. Pup got lots more cuddles and kisses from AB and M. AB and I shared a good, life-giving embrace. And we went off our separate ways. Good-byes are always hard. This one was made a little easier because I was glad I had said what I wanted to say and had imparted my heart and my love to AB—and I even got to love a little on M. But, it’ll be winter before we meet again. Pup will be tottering around probably. It’s sorrowful to think of all AB is missing in his life. But, I’m so glad that she’s not missing it all, that she’s choosing to stay connected. And, I hope that as she believes in my love and opinion of her that she will begin to open her heart more and more in return.

A friend of mine recently said, "So when you adopted Pup, you adopted AB too!" Yep. We did.

Development Spurt?!

27 July 2011

We all know babies and kids go through growth spurts, but Pup seems to have entered a "development spurt." While my mom was here a couple weeks ago, she taught Pup to sit up. He's been doing baby crunches ever since I can remember, so I knew his core was pretty strong. Mom set him on the floor and made a tripod by spreading his feet as far as they would go and then resting his hands on the floor between them. He took to it right away. Of course.

Well, ever since then, he's been accumulating all kinds of tricks and accomplishments! He now seems able to roll over at will, can sit for a few minutes with his hands off the floor before he topples, and is fascinated with his tongue (sticking it out and making raspberries). Today when we got home from school, I set him (on his back) on the floor while I helped the bigs tackle their after-school responsibilities. When I came back to Pup, he had flipped to his belly and repeatedly drew his left knee up toward his left hip as if he was trying to start crawling!

Uuuggh! I really, truly wish the first year of life could stretch over two years. It just goes by too fast. At Pup's 6 month appointment last week, the Dr. urged me to get going on solid foods. I just want to keep Pup a baby as long as I can. He just doesn't seem to want to cooperate! Sigh. I guess it's time to bite the bullet and plug all the sockets. Anyone seen any good deals on cabinet and drawer stops?

Reprogramming and Running Away

27 July 2011

The bigs attend year-round school, so they had 5 weeks in June and July off for their summer break. Three of those 5 weeks were filled with visits from the grandparents (first my parents for a week, then Aa's for 2). Our last visitors left on Monday morning. Needless to say, after all that spoiling by the gps and the relaxing of discipline by Aa and me, some reprogramming has been required this week!

I gave myself a break on Monday and did nearly nothing regarding housework and child-training. But, Tuesday was a new day and a return to routine and our typical standards of behavior. So, after about 5 weeks of doling out threats with nothing to back them up, I told the bigs Monday night that they'd used up all their warnings and that consequences would be swift on Tuesday.

On the way home from school Tuesday, it was bicker, bicker, bicker. Of course. Part of our routine is that the kids do a few quick chores (pick up the mail, take out the dog, deal with lunch boxes and backpacks) and then have some blow-off-steam play time before we hit the homework. Well, they decided to rough-house and I could tell it was escalating, so I called it off and told them not to touch each other. So, Punk poked Pea. Of course. I sent him straight to his bed and told him I'd be there to talk to him in just a moment. After assuring myself that Pea wasn't also in need of discipline, I called Punk down from his upper bunk. He recalled that there were to be no warnings and we reviewed the meaning of obedience (you do what I say right away, all the way, and with a happy heart). He admitted that poking Pea didn't fit the bill. I told him I'd have to spank him once for his disobedience. I gave him one quick thwap. Being the drama king he is, he screamed bloody murder and leapt up into the air. He scurried to his closed bedroom door and flew out. Before I knew it, I heard the front door open and close. Hot on his heels, I got outside just after he did. He turned and scowled and yelled, "I'm running away!"

Well, that was a first, so I had to think and act quickly. Without rushing, I caught him up and began to talk to him.
"Where are you going?"
"Hrmph. I don't know." Grumbled.
"Hmmm. Well, you didn't stop to get your shoes (compassionately). I bet your feet are going to start hurting."
"Hrmph."
"And, it is raining out here. You'll be getting awfully wet soon."
"So what." Angry.
"Why don't we go home where it's dry and cool. We can talk about this and come up with a plan."
"Hmf." Resigned?
I scooped him up and held his stiff, angry body close to me. I said gently, "You know, no matter where you go in this world, you will never, ever find anyone who loves you as much as Daddy and I do. And, your sister and brother are a close second." I couldn't believe my brilliance! I sounded like a movie script! And, what's even better--it worked! By the time we got inside the door, his attitude was changed and his arms were around my neck. His hands slid down my arms as I set him down, not wanting to break the connection.

After 7 years of parenting this little boy who is cut from the same cloth I was, I feel I'm finally getting a handle on how to deal with his drama. It requires every ounce of strength I have to fight drama with kindness and quiet (instead of escalating the situation as I have in the past). Just like me, he just wants empathy and understanding. And love. It all comes back to love. When I remain calm and in control of myself, I can show him my love in a much more convincing way. And, when he knows I love him no matter what, all the other stuff falls away for him too.

I was amazed that the rest of the afternoon and evening passed without another incident. Five weeks worth of unprogramming reversed with one spank and kindly whispered words of love? Unbelievable, but true!

So You Think You Should Adopt? Please Don't.

25 June 2011

I’m a huge advocate for adoption. I love it. It is an absolutely miraculous way to create or expand a family. I am extremely passionate about adoption and desire to help those on the adoption pathway in any way I can. Because of that passion and because we have adopted twice (once internationally, once domestically) and because I worked for an agency for a short time, I often find myself being asked for advice on the topic. Just the other day, a friend messaged me to ask specifically about motivation to adopt. The topic really got my juices bubbling and I want to share more publicly what I said to him.

It seems to me that interest in adoption is growing and while that makes my heart glow with hope, it also creates a hitch in my spirit. Since joining the adoption community in 2005, I have seen many happy families created or grown; I have born witness to many successful adoptions. But, I have also seen a discouraging number of failed adoptions. Most of us heard about the child whose mother sent him back to Russia alone last year (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/36322282/ns/world_news-europe/t/boy-sent-back-russia-adoption-ban-urged/). This news was shocking and horrifying. But it isn’t the only story of its kind. When I worked with the agency, I saw two children returned to their birth country under similar circumstances. And, I have heard of many, many more failed adoptions through the grapevine over the years. It’s tremendously disheartening to think of the emotional trauma created for children and families who find themselves in these positions. I understand that the families feel there is no other option available to them and I recognize they experience their own emotional carnage related to their adoption disruptions. And, even some parents with right motivations, good preparation, and lots of support can have trouble in their adoptions. But, I believe that at least some of these situations are preventable.

In the past, people adopted because they wanted to become parents. Almost all adoptive parents experienced infertility or secondary infertility. They simply wanted children (or more children) in their home, had the resources to raise them, and the compunction that children could be “our own” without coming from our bodies.

In recent years, adoption has begun to come to the forefront of the American Christian psyche. There is, in fact, a Christian adoption movement. And, a lot of good is coming from that (although I agree with them that there is much ground yet to be won). People are realizing that adoption is a positive (albeit challenging) way to grow a family. However, many well-intentioned people, stirred by the Bible’s clear injunctions to care for widows and orphans (Ex. 22:22, Deut. 10:18, 14:29, 24:17, PS 68:5, 82:3, Isa. 1:17,Jer 22:3, Zec 7:10) and Jesus’ plain instruction on caring for “the least of these” (Mat. 25:40,45), and taking a cue from our Heavenly Father’s spiritual adoption of each of us, consider adoption as the best way to obey these commands. I believe that is flat-out wrong. This “rescue-the-children” mentality is at the root of many adoptive parents’ dissatisfaction with their adoption experience as well as the fundamental reason some adoptions fail.

This rescue mentality can seem to blind people from their usual common sense. People seem to think that somehow an adoptable child is inherently good and, given the right environment, he will quickly and totally recover from his early trauma. But, these same parents, if they knew the next door neighbor kid had been involved in a gang even if only for survival, or had been sexually abused and learned to become an abuser herself, had learned to steal and horde to have food—would they bring that child over for a slumber party, let alone to be a permanent part of the family and share a room with their perfectly sheltered toddler? The reality is that many kids who have a less-than-ideal foundation (from malnourishment to neglect to abuse of any kind) can make great strides in their new families, but it isn’t instantaneous or even easy. Recovery for the child may demand an exceptionally high degree of commitment, advocacy, patience, selflessness, and persistence from the parent(s).

Another problem for parents who want to be a child’s savior is that adopted kids rarely feel much gratitude toward the family that has “rescued” them. From the children’s perspective, the adoptive family has ripped them away from everything they’ve ever known, the place they truly belonged. Far from appreciating all that the adoptive family can provide, the children are traumatized and grieved. These emotions and problems may surface immediately, or may develop over time, but at some point in an adoptive family’s life, they most likely will have to face this beast head-on. Adoption is far from ideal and adoptive parents who set themselves up as some kind of rescuing hero are setting themselves up for a fall. Unfortunately, many blame the children for the tumble from their pedestal, with tragic results.

This desire to rescue children from poverty can have devastating effects that reach far beyond the adoptive family. Not long ago there was a surge of people wanting to rescue impoverished kids in Guatemala. Rather than saving a generation of children, the situation ended up creating a black-market for healthy infants where babies were being stolen from loving mothers so they could be sold for adoption to well-meaning American couples (http://sites.google.com/site/internationaladoptionfacts/guatemala-adoption-u-s-adoptions-fueled-by-kidnappings). This, and similar situations, led to the closure of legitimate inter-country adoptions not only in Guatemala, but also in other countries which feared a similar fate for their children. Rarely is there a glut of healthy infants available internationally; even the poorest mothers want to breastfeed and care for their children as long as they can. If you're saying your primary motivation is to save a child’s life, but you only want a healthy infant (and you want to do it internationally so you don't have to deal with messy birth family issues) you have missed the point entirely.

I said above that these adoption failures could be prevented. If those who wish to adopt would take a serious look at their motivation, be honest with themselves before God and their spouses (where applicable), and take steps ensure their hearts are truly in the right place, it’s true—many of these sad stories would never occur.

For Aa and me, we stumbled into adoption because of secondary infertility. We conceived Punk easily when we wanted to, but we couldn’t get pregnant again (not for lack of trying!). We started our adoption journey because we wanted another child in our family. Honestly, we did like the idea that we were entering into a new understanding of the Father’s adoptive heart toward us and that we were obeying the Bible’s commands about orphans. And, in the end, I do believe we saved Pea’s life. If she hadn’t been adopted, she would have died. But, that wasn’t why we adopted her.

I think adoption is a lot like marriage—it’s a huge commitment, for better or worse, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer. You are binding yourself to another person whose history you only know in part and whose future you cannot predict. When you adopt a child, you are committing to love and treat them as though they had come from your own body, without any guarantees about how the relationship will go. One adoptive mother who struggled in her relationship with her adopted daughter put it this way: “Unless you can imagine loving and being committed to a child even if they would NEVER love you, don't adopt.”

If you are considering adoption because it seems like the right thing to do, because you want to save a child from poverty, because you want to be the best Christian you can be, because you want to be hero, PLEASE DON’T DO IT. I cannot stress strongly enough the disaster that may ensue for you, your family, and the child(ren) you adopt if you enter into it for these reasons.

These motivations are not wrong in themselves. They are just not appropriate to adoption. As a Christian, you do need to step up and defend the fatherless. You do need to extend yourself on behalf of the widow, orphan, and the least of the least. As James 1:27 puts it, “Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles.” (emphasis mine) It’s non-negotiable. But, these commands do not require us to adopt.

There are many other ways to fulfill these injunctions. In fact, adoption is really only a band-aid solution in the first place. It does nothing to address the needs of the birth family or the culture (domestic or foreign) into which the needy child was born. Advocating on behalf of the poor and contributing to transformational ministries which lift people out of poverty are very effective ways to create real, lasting change. Look into providing micro-loans for entrepreneurs in struggling economies. Or, support and promote organizations like Sports Outreach Ministries which is transforming the lives of Uganda’s inner-city slum children as well as families in rural villages of Northern Uganda in both practical and spiritual ways.

Most of the world’s adoptable children aren’t orphans in the truest sense; most have at least one living parent. They are adoptable because of poverty (this is true in the US and abroad). The exception to this is AIDS orphans. You can make a real difference and save children’s lives by advocating for ARV treatments in Africa and India and other places hit hard by the disease. Compassion, International has a stellar program for helping HIV+ mothers avoid transmission to their infants, as well as preventing infant mortality from other causes and helping the mothers live longer, stronger lives. Find out more at http://www.compassion.com/help-babies.htm.

Right here at home, you can make a real difference by backing ministries that support women in unplanned pregnancies (our local Lifeline is in dire need of diapers!) or mentoring an impoverished child. If you want an even more hands-on experience, apply for your foster-care license. It’s absolutely free to get started and it’s not a life-long commitment like adoption is. Many counties/states are desperate for solid, willing foster families.

In short, I want to let you off the hook. You don’t have to adopt! And, adopting doesn’t make you a hero or a better Christian. If you want to adopt for those reasons, please find an alternative. If you want to adopt because you desire to parent a child and are willing to face the challenges and difficulties that accompany adoption, I’ll be your biggest support!

My Man and Me

My Man and Me
married 7/7/2001

Punk

Punk
ours through biology, born 7/25/2004, home 8/1/2004

Pea

Pea
ours through adoption from Liberia, West Africa, born 7/15/2005, home 10/25/2007

Pup

Pup
ours through domestic adoption, born 1/15/2011, home 2/10/2011, final 8/3/2011

Talk To Me

I blog for myself and my kids and I would do it even if no one else cared, but I do like to hear from you (and think it's a wee bit creepy of you to voyeurize us without my knowing it). So, please leave a comment from time to time, or email me anytime at xawilsons@hotmail.com. Much obliged, I'm sure.

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Round Two Timeline

  • 9/24/08 Home study update home visit for Ghana adoption
  • 10/15/08 Dossier sent to AOHG
  • 10/15/08 I600A application sent to USCIS
  • 10/30/08 First heard about possible domestic private adoption
  • 11/18/08 Last spoke with contact about possible domestic adoption; expected to hear back about meeting with birthmother
  • 12/3/08 Withdrew application from AOHG
  • 1/6/09 Found out another family had been chosen for possible domestic adoption
  • 1/21/09 USCIS fingerprinting appointment
  • 1/8/09 Received USCIS fingerprinting appointment notice
  • 4/11/09 Sent Pre-Application to Covenant Care Adoptions for Domestic Infant Adoption program
  • 6/8/09 Social worker visit to update home study from International to Domestic
  • 7/24/09 Received completed home study update
  • 8/25/09 Went "on the list" for birthfamilies to choose from
  • 4/28/10 Found out a birth mom had chosen us
  • 5/8/10 Met the birth mom
  • 5/11/10 Got the call that birth mom changed her mind
  • 5/19/10 Birth mom's scheduled c-section
  • 11/30/10 Visit from DSS sw about foster parenting
  • 11/30/10 Got the call that another birth mom had chosen us
  • 12/21/10 Met with the birth mom
  • 1/15/11 @1:42 PM BB was born!
  • 1/19/11 ICPC (interstate) paperwork sent to GA for approval
  • 1/31/11 ICPC Clearance Approved
  • 2/10/11 Placement Ceremony and Pup comes home!!!!
  • 8/3/11 It's Official! Pup's Adoption Decree was issued