June 30, 2012

I Will Get to You (Adoption Thoughts)

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , at 3:57 pm by Tamara

One of the things I want to do for my internship is interview adoptive/foster families, so I started with my supervisor at the non-profit I’ve been interning with.  At one point she said something that really struck me:

“I knew I had a child in China.”

I shared this with Adam and he said it struck him the same way it did me.  We generally talk in impersonal terms like “there are thousands of kids who need parents,” which sounds so overwhelming and abstract and unreal.  But to think that WE could have a one of OUR children in another country, waiting for us to come rescue them, pierces me in an entirely different way.

The first night after Bear was born, we stayed in the hospital and he slept in his bassinet at the food of my bed.  I had ended up needing a c-section and had only been in recovery a few hours, so I was still pretty much immobile in bed.  At some point during the night, Bear made a tiny sound that sounded a little like choking.  Within an instant I was on my hands and knees on the foot of the bed, scooping him up and checking to make sure everything was okay.  He was perfectly fine and I soon put him back down, and only then did I realize what I’d just done: I had been flat on my back with a major incision in my stomach, numb from pain killers and basically unable to use my abdominal muscles, tangled with 11 cords attached all over my body, yet the instant I’d thought my baby was in danger something had absolutely propelled me to his side.  I couldn’t even lie back down again without Adam’s help, but somehow I had gotten to my baby when he needed me.

I realized right then that with Bear’s birth an incredible protective force had been born in my heart.  Nothing—ever—was going to keep me away from my baby when he needed me.

This came to my mind today when Adam and I were talking about the possibility that we have a child in another country.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if Bear was in an overwhelmed orphanage on the other side of the world, or being moved from foster home to foster home across the city, I would move heaven and earth to get to him.  I would stop at nothing—-nothing—-that was in my power to get to him.  I wouldn’t be stopped by money, or fear, or overwhelming amounts of paperwork, or how tiny our apartment is, or whether it seemed practical, or what other people thought about it.  I would Get. To. My. Child.    Period.

It’s admittedly a bit mind-boggling to think that one of our children might be in another country.  But, if God calls us to adopt, that child is our child, regardless of race or country or biology, and He has known it all along.  It just might take us a little longer to figure it out.  When I think about it that way, from God’s perspective, and wonder if one of my children is somewhere else, separated from me, it lights a fire under me.  If God is calling me to adopt, then I have a child far away who needs me and is waiting for me.  And nothing—nothing-–is going to keep me away from them.

All this can’t help but make me think about what God has done for me.  This fierce, passionate love and protectiveness in me for both the child in my arms and any children who are far away is a reflection of how He feels about us.

There’s a story in John, where Jesus is talking to the religious leaders of the Jews, who considered themselves the “true children” of God.  Yet, here is Jesus, stunning them by calling them blind sinners.  He starts telling a story about a flock of sheep, and how a hired hand will abandon the sheep when wolves come because he’s just an employee and doesn’t really care about the sheep.  But, Jesus says, He loves the sheep because He is the good shepherd.  In fact, He loves His sheep so passionately that He is going to give up his life for them.

Then He says an interesting thing: “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me….  I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd” (John 10: 1-18).

Those “other sheep” that Jesus is talking about, are US–all of us who aren’t born Jews.  Even though we weren’t born into His own people group and family, Jesus considered us His children.  And, rather than moving heaven and earth to get to us, He moved himself across heaven and earth to come to us.  He “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).

That same passage says that Jesus’ own people rejected Him; in fact, they would later kill him.  But, to the people who did accept Him, “He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:2-14).

So, in reality, *I* am an adopted child.  I wasn’t born into God’s family biologically, but He knew me and loved me and knew I would accept Him.  He gave everything He had, right down to His very life, to rescue me.  He didn’t let anything keep Him away from me, but came all the way into my world to save me and, eventually, will take me home with Him.

We don’t know what will happen with our family and adoption, but we are trusting God that, if one of our children has been or will be born in another country or across the city, He will get us to him or her, no matter what it takes.  Will you pray with us?

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June 27, 2012

My Adoption Internship

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , at 7:30 pm by Tamara

I mentioned here how one of the things we were concerned about if we want overseas was the timing of my internship.  Three years ago I decided to go back to school for my degree in Psychology: Christian Counseling through Liberty University Online.  I finished my coursework in May (YAY!!) and then needed to complete an internship in order to graduate.

I was pretty stressed out about trying to find a position.  I have a hard time asking for help when I have nothing to give in return (I know, I know: pride), plus I felt rather insecure/ridiculous looking for a counseling internship as an undergrad student. I was also really unsure how it was going to work with Berean, since Adam’s working three jobs and not available much to watch him.  And, honestly I was resenting having to be away from Berean, even if only part-time.  I love staying at home with him!

So, frankly, I put off looking until way too late, and was really down to the wire.  I started praying hard that God would help me find an internship where I could both really learn something and really serve Him.  Praise the Lord he’s faithful even when I’m not, because he graciously answered my prayers to help me find a position.  Through a long, unlikely string of people that stretched over several states, I was connected with a non-profit that provides support services for orphans and adoptive/foster families.

I’ve been doing all sorts of stuff, from interviewing adoptive families, to researching grants, to soliciting donations, to helping deliver meals.  Tomorrow I find out about doing some work with an agency that uses animals in therapy, which I am REALLY excited about.  I think animal-assisted therapy could be fantastic for kids with attachment disorders.  In July I get to sit in on the CORE adoption training that Colorado requires for potential adoptive parents, which is another huge blessing because it’s a costly training and they’re letting me attend for free.

Our most recent big event was a night where foster and adoptive families dropped off their kids for a one night VBS-like program.  The goal was to give them a much-needed night off and hopefully relieve some pressure so that they can keep providing quality care and loving homes and avoid a failed placement.  We had about 50 kids and 20 volunteers, and I think it was a smashing success!

One thing I’ve been hearing consistently is that practical things like a meal or a night of babysitting can be a huge help.  One amazing adoptive mother of several children who’ve had a lot of struggles to overcome put it this way, “You can get so emotionally and mentally overwhelmed by the struggles your family is going through that just the thought of fixing dinner is completely overwhelming.  Sometimes just having a few meals delivered or someone helping you clean your house is enough to help you feel like you can face another day and not give up and send the child back into the system.”

It makes perfect sense to me.  When you’re going through a very emotionally demanding situation, it’s almost like your brain and spirit are dedicating so much of your strength to getting through it that there’s very little left over for practical, everyday things.  We understand this when it comes to things like grieving a lost loved one or giving birth, but I think we can miss how intense adoption can be and how much we can help and support adoptive families.

Something another mother said hit me like a ton of bricks: “It can be very hard to ask for help when you need it, because there can be a feeling that ‘You got yourself into this’ so you aren’t allowed to say you’re struggling and ask for help.”  That statement just about bowled me over.

I’ve been learning a lot from these adoptive parents and I want to write about it, but it’s kind of intimidating, because 1) I haven’t adopted (yet!) so I can’t speak from experience, and 2) I recognize that everyone’s experience is different, and some things I write about might be dead-on for some adoptive parents and completely in left-field for others.

But…adoption and orphan care are things I care about, and that I firmly believe we as the Church are called and commanded to do.  So I think it’s good to think and dialogue about it, even if I don’t get everything right.  And secondly, my internship supervisor asked me to write about it.  So I don’t really have a choice.  ;)

At any rate, hopefully in the next few weeks I’ll be posting more thoughts, both what I’m hearing from adoptive parents and what I’m studying in the Word.  If you have adopted or fostered, feel free to comment with your thoughts and experiences!  And if you know someone who has adopted or fostered, why not see if you can drop off a meal and watch the kids for an evening (or whatever else they need!)?  : )