The Five of Us, Spring 2014

The Five of Us, Spring 2014

National Adoption Month

7 November 2010
"Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption."--JI Packer
November is National Adoption Month, so many of my friends and acquaintances in the adoption community have been acknowledging this by using one of the first photos of their adopted child(ren) as their profile pictures on FaceBook. Me included.I have crystal clear recollection of where I was and what was happening and how I felt when I first opened these pictures out of an email.For weeks after receiving them, I was proud to show the first three to my friends and family.But the fourth one, the full body picture, well, I found it disturbing. I could barely put into words how I felt about this photo. I didn't want to look at it and I didn't want to inflict it on others. I couldn't bear to think about the suffering that brought this 18-month old child to this place in her little life. My heart failed me when I considered the mother of this child and the events that led her to finally surrender her rights to this beautiful, delicate, tiny life that was her daughter.
Still today I want to scroll quickly past this picture. It's painful to look at. It hurts my heart to see it, much less think about it deeply.

But, I did have this picture as my FB profile for a couple days. And it hurt and I tried to always look past it until I couldn't stand it any more. But, one afternoon I was reading others' comments about it, so it was full screen. Pea came up to me and looked at the picture. I said, "Do you know who that is?" Her cheeks puckered slightly in that shy smile she gives when she is the center of attention. "That's me, when I was a baby." I said, "Yes it is." There was a long pause while she took in the photo and I watched her look at her former self.
"Mama? Why do I look like that?" A flood of possible interpretations flitted through my mind, so I asked, "What do you mean, Honey? Look like what?" "Sad. Why do I look so sad?" Tears are welling in my eyes as I write this just as they did that afternoon. I had to force my swollen heart out of my throat as I explained, "Well, Pea, when this picture was taken, you were very, very sick. And, you were in a new strange place. And, on top of all that, you didn't have a family just then. Your first mom knew that she couldn't keep you alive, so she brought you to this place so that you could find another family. And, we didn't know you yet. You weren't a part of our family yet." She nodded, but, though she's heard this many times before, I'm still not sure how much of it she understands. There was another pause as it sunk in.

I broke the silence. "That was one of the very first pictures I ever saw of you, Pea, before I knew you. Do you know how I felt when I saw that picture for the first time?" The corners of her mouth twitched a bit as that shy smile tried to overtake her again. "Love," she said. It wasn't a question. It was a sure statement. I gathered her up and said, "Yes, absolutely! I knew when I saw that picture, before I knew you, that I wanted you to be my daughter." We shared a smile. "How do you feel now?" I asked. "Do you still feel sad?" She smiled a real smile at me and said, "No. Now I'm happy!" And, having received another hug and kiss, she trotted off.

This morning at church, our message included the point that we can guard our hearts from discouragement and bitterness in part by remembering the fact of our adoption into God's family. It got me to thinking about those early pictures of Pea. I began to wonder if someone could have taken a photo of my spirit before adoption, what would I have looked like? Certainly scrawny and sick, but not nearly as beautiful as Pea was in her first pictures. Since the Bible says even our good deeds are like filthy rags to God, I can only imagine that I must have looked quite repulsive. But, somehow, He looked at me and loved me. Loved me more than I can even comprehend, passionately, devotedly, without reserve, wildly. Even now that I've been adopted and tasted that love, I still can't comprehend it. I don't even know the half of it.
It's amazing to look at Pea now and to consider what some good nutrition and love have done, and are doing for her. She's still developing, still struggling with the scars of wounds sustained before she could speak, still crippled by the early malnourishment, still overcoming deceptive thought patterns and lies Satan whispered to her in her vulnerability. She'll probably have "adoption issues" to one degree or another throughout her life. In some ways, her adoption will become more and more real to her over time.
I know that the nourishment of the word, the work of the Holy Spirit, the fellowship of God's family have certainly changed me. But there are still vestiges of the old life for me too. There's always the temptation to believe that I don't belong here. There's the temptation to believe that He doesn't really love me, that this adoption was somehow a less-than-best Plan B. There's a temptation to buck His parenting and try to take care of myself. They are ridiculous temptations when viewed from the proper perspective, but they are there nonetheless. They are the marks of my adoption and I think I'll probably struggle with them, to some degree, for the rest of my earthly life.
"Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption."--JI Packer I, for one, still feel like I'm barely scratching the surface.


My Man and Me

My Man and Me
married 7/7/2001


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


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


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

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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