One year ago today Lucas, Victoria, Ana Clara, Hudson, and Haylee joined our family. Reflecting on the ups and downs of this year, my heart is overwhelmed with gratefulness for all the Lord has done. He has taught us so much! Our faith has grown in ways we could never have imagined. This year has been filled with waves of emotions. Most of the time I feel beyond blessed by the amazing opportunity the Lord has given. Parenting these kids can be challenging, but oh so rewarding. They are soaking up all the love and attention and are THRIVING. Everything most children take for granted is so new and fun to them: to be able to sit with sisters in the toy room and play hours on end with baby dolls, to choose a book off the bookshelf and turn page after page, studying each picture, to get excited (at age 10) about the opportunity to have a coloring book of your very own. Every meal, no matter how simple, is special, and their faces light up EVERY SINGLE TIME they get to eat. The years they went to bed hungry will not soon be forgotten.
Every once in a while, on the hard days, my heart aches for my youngest biological kids, whose world was forever changed the day our family grew. They were used to having much more individual attention from Mom and Dad. They were used to being able to leave their personal possessions without fear they would get destroyed in a matter of seconds. And then in that moment God brings to my mind just how wonderful their world became the day the five joined our family. They have had the opportunity to learn life lessons at such a young age, lessons that many adults have never grasped. They are learning that life isn’t just about them, that the world doesn’t revolve around them. The Lord has used our adoption to help shape them into what He wants them to be. There are examples of this in the oldest, down to the youngest. For example, Jessica (age 18) is studying Child and Family development at John Brown University with a desire to minister to hurting children. While she has had this burden for many years, the Lord used this past year working with our five to confirm this is how He wants her to give her life in service to Him. And Makenna (age 4) said something the other night totally out of the blue when I was helping her get ready for bed. She said, “Mom, why did we only get five of them?” I had no idea what she was talking about so I asked, “Five of what?” She said, “You know: Ana, Victoria, Lucas, Hudson, and Haylee. Only five of them, but I want to get ALL of them.” During our visits to the orphanage she had gotten to know and love many of the children and wanted them to come join our family as well. 🙂
It has been interesting to look at life through the eyes of Lucas, Victoria, and Ana Clara. We have watched them experience many things. Oftentimes we are saddened as we realize the way they think or behave is a direct result of early childhood trauma, abuse, and neglect. Some events are a mixture of sad and humorous (if that is even possible). Like the time Victoria lost her first tooth so we told her to put it under her pillow and maybe the tooth fairy would come. (We had played this game with our other kids, but to them it was just a game. They understood that Daddy was the “tooth fairy” and that if he didn’t fall asleep without forgetting he would exchange the tooth under their pillow with some money.) That night when Phil was tucking Lucas into bed he said, “Dad, I’ve tried that for years and it doesn’t work.” So then the next morning Victoria woke up to find money under her pillow. At the time we didn’t think anything about the ramifications of this “game”. Until later that afternoon and many times throughout the week we caught Lucas trying with all his might to pull out his rotten permanent teeth. Phil had to sit down and explain to him our game, and that he could participate too when one of his baby teeth is loose and ready to be pulled.
The kids have learned so much this year. We give God all the glory for how He has been working in their lives. They are learning the basics of living life such as table manners, taking care of property, respecting others, obeying those in authority, but more importantly they are learning who God is and about His unconditional love for them. As a mom there is no greater ministry than to be able to share God’s love with the children He has blessed me with. Many days I fall short, and am not the example God wants me to be. But by His grace and with His strength I press on!
National Adoption Month is coming up in November. When I was traveling this past summer, sharing our adoption story, a dear pastor in one of our supporting churches took time at the end of my presentation to give a heart-felt message about God’s command to care for the orphan. He shared James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” I read a statistic recently that said if one family in every third church in the U.S.A. would adopt a waiting child in foster care there would no longer be any waiting children in the U.S.A. I love the message in the song “I Refuse” by Josh Wilson: “I can hear the least of these crying out so desperately and I know we are the hands and feet of you oh God. So if you say move its time for me to follow through and do what I was made to do and SHOW THEM WHO YOU ARE. I refuse to sit around and wait for someone else to do what God has called me to do myself, oh I could choose not to move but I refuse.”
We have completed all the necessary steps of the adoption process, and are waiting for final approval from the judge. We anticipate this to happen any day now. Please be praying with us that the process will be finalized soon.