Friday, November 23, 2012

Adoption Education

November is National Adoption Awareness Month!

Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause. Isaiah 1:17

The church has become more and more aware that as Christians we are all called to have a heart for orphans. The individuals at FAM ministries would like to challenge the church that not only is it to be a place to help raise the banner of awareness (of the orphan crisis) or assist others in answering the call to foster and adopt, but to help these children and families once they are home. Kids often come from hard places and/or are impacted by their history and they face unique challenges and issues. While foster and adoptive families have counted the cost that this journey may bring, it can’t be traveled alone. We want to have churches that foster healing for children and parents. The journey of fostering/adoption isn’t over once a child is placed. It is just the beginning. Below you will find out a few simple ways that the church can come alongside these families.

1)    Educate your families
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11

One way the church can encourage families is for individuals to take time to educate themselves and their children about foster care and adoption. Reading the book, “Adopted for Life” by Russell Moore, is a great place to start. There are many resources available online on a wide variety of subjects pertaining to adoption and fostering, including Mom Life Today, Family Life, Focus on the Family, Lifesong for Orphans, The Forgotten Initiative, Loving Shepherd Ministries, Empowered to Connect, and Tapestry Ministry, along with personal blogs of adoptive or foster families.
Another way to educate your family is simply to explain to your children that families that don’t look like your own are still real families.  This doesn't only apply to foster or adoption families; expand it to other families you know who have unique situations as well.  When talking with your family about children who are in foster care or who are adopted don’t use stereotypes to describe them. An orphan is so much more than the images we see; each one of these children is created by God just like any other. Put your child in the shoes of an adopted or foster care child. How would you want them treated? What sort of conversations would you like people to have about your adopted or foster child? Don’t say hurtful or negative things about the child’s biological family or birth country. Many of us lack understanding of what it would feel like to be in these situations (what the birth family and child face), but it doesn’t mean that we should lack in empathy and compassion.

2) In regards to families that have children with different skin colors
For God shows no partiality. Romans 2:11

In the white community, skin color isn’t something we often think about so it’s easy to pretend prejudice doesn’t exist.  We are tempted to think not talking about it or trying to get our kids not to notice it will make them less prejudiced. This is untrue. Take inventory of your own racial beliefs and stereotypes and see if you have areas in your heart where work needs done, remembering that God created us all in His image. And keep in mind, it’s okay to talk about skin color! Your kids will notice it and should be encouraged to talk about it honestly. Be intentional in showing children positive examples of individuals of different skin tones/ethnicities and do not project racial insecurities on them. In regards to foster and adoption, explain that sometimes kids have different skin colors from their parents, but they are still a real family. 

3)    Watch what you say
So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire. James 3:5

Families that are involved in foster care and adoption know that part of the journey is being asked many questions, which can be overbearing at times. The church can provide a haven a rest for those families by being more conscious of how we are communicating. Here are some tips.

*It is helpful to foster and adoptive families when you DON’T ask about a child’s history. A child’s story is personal, and parents vary on how much they want to share, if at all. Due to confidentiality in foster care, they may not be allowed to share. Be respectful of this decision.  Be the hands and feet of Jesus and love them regardless of knowing.
*If you would like to compliment an adoptive/foster family that you don’t know well or are complete strangers say something like “You have a beautiful family,” instead of asking personal questions.
*Do not ask parents if their kids are adopted, or where they are from in front of them.
Avoid saying, especially in front of the adopted or foster child:
-“He/She is so lucky. “ or “What a charitable thing to do”
-“What’s wrong with the birth mom?”  or “Why didn’t the birth mom keep the child?” or “How could the mother give away this beautiful child?”
-“Aren’t you scared of the inherited traits your child could get?” or “Aren’t you worried about how bringing a foster child in your home will affect your family?”
-“You had your baby the easy way.”
-Talk about the biological family as the “real” family insinuating that the adoptive family is not.  (Examples: "Are you going to have any of your “own” children?" "Is that his “real” brother?")
-“Adopted children don’t turn out” or “I’m so glad you got your baby young. I’ve heard lots of bad stories about adopting older kids.”
-"Once you get your child, I bet you will get pregnant."

REMEMBER satisfying a curiosity is not worth hurting someone's feelings or making a child feel uncomfortable.  Most families are happy to share and educate, but at appropriate times.

The call to foster and adopt is very personal, and families often feel that God has called them specifically to what they are pursuing.  Sometimes families find that comments they hear are not always completely inappropriate, but they are often brought up at bad times, such as when a family is at the grocery store.  Some of the most frequently asked questions include what the process entails, what makes up the cost, the need, how families are approaching fostering and adoption, and the joys and challenges of fostering and adoption. We encourage those who are interested in learning more about foster care and adoption to be intentional in scheduling an appropriate time to learn more about these families’ convictions and the care that is involved. It gives the families a better chance to be open and share and the interested individuals a better opportunity to learn.

4) Simple ways to encourage foster and adoptive families
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2

-Offer babysitting
-Bring food or help organize meals for the family that is bringing in the child, no matter the age.
-Clean or pay for a cleaning service for the family.
-Ask the families for ways that you can help to reduce their exterior responsibilities while they focus on bonding and family adjustment. Pay attention to the whole family.
- Send gift cards
-If unexpected challenges arise, encourage these families by being supportive in your comments, offering prayers, sending cards, etc.  A foster or adoptive family should be able to be open with the body of Christ about their challenges without fearing that gossip and negative stereotypes may ensue if they share.  Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

-Pray! “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” 
James 5:16

He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will. Ephesians 1:5

To redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Galatians 4:5-7

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:15

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Different Perspective

Shortly after we brought Josiah home I ran into this article on another adoptive family's blog. It's a beautifully written piece that helps adults understand an adopted child's perspective in an "adult" way. Enjoy!

A Different Perspective
Hanky required. For anyone considering adoption, please read this article.
November 01,2006 / Cynthia Hockman-Chupp
Imagine for a moment....
You have met the person you've dreamed about all your life. He has every quality that you desire in a spouse. You plan for the wedding, enjoying every free moment with your fiancée. You love his touch, his smell, the way he looks into your eyes. For the first time in your life, you understand what is meant by soul mate, for this person understands you in a way that no one else does. Your heart beats in rhythm with his. Your emotions are intimately tied to his every joy, his every sorrow.
The wedding comes. It is a happy celebration, but the best part is that you are finally the wife of this wonderful man. You fall asleep that night, exhausted from the day's events, but relaxed and joyful in the knowledge that you are next to the person who loves you more than anyone in the world-the person who will be with you for the rest of your life. The next morning you wake up, nestled in your partner's arms. You open your eyes and immediately look for his face. But it's not him! You are in the arms of another man. You recoil in horror. Who is this man?
Where is your beloved? 
You ask questions of the new man, but it quickly becomes apparent that he doesn't understand you. You search every room in the house, calling and calling for your husband. The new guy follows you around, trying to hug you, pat you on the back. . .even trying to stroke your arm, acting like everything is okay. But you know that nothing is okay. Your beloved is gone. Where is he? Will he return? When? What has happened to him? Weeks pass. You cry and cry over the loss of your beloved. Sometimes you ache silently, in shock over what has happened. The new guy tries to comfort you. You appreciate his attempts, but he doesn't speak your language-either verbally or emotionally. He doesn't seem to realize the terrible thing that has happened...that your sweetheart is gone.

You find it difficult to sleep. The new guy tries to comfort you at bedtime with soft words and gentle touches, but you avoid him, preferring to sleep alone, away from him and any intimate words or contact. Months later, you still ache for your beloved, but gradually you are learning to trust this new guy. He's finally learned that you like your coffee black, not doctored up with cream and sugar. Although you still don't understand his bedtime songs, you like the lilt of his voice and take some comfort in it. More time passes. One morning, you wake up to find a full suitcase sitting next to the front door. You try to ask him about it, but he just takes you by the hand and leads you to the car. You drive and drive and drive. Nothing is familiar. Where are you? Where is he taking you?
You pull up to a large building. He leads you to an elevator and up to a room filled with people. Many are crying. Some are ecstatic with joy. You are confused. And worried. The man leads you over to the corner. Another man opens his arms and sweeps you up in an embrace. He rubs your back and kisses your cheeks, obviously thrilled to see you. You are anything but thrilled to see him. Who in the world is he? Where is your beloved? You reach for the man who brought you, but he just smiles (although he seems to be tearing up, which concerns you), pats you on the back, and puts your hand in the hands of the new guy. The new guy picks up your suitcase and leads you to the door. The familiar face starts openly crying, waving and waving as the elevator doors close on you and the new guy. The new guy drives you to an airport and you follow him, not knowing what else to do. Sometimes you cry, but then the new guy tries to make you smile, so you grin back, wanting to get along. You board a plane. The flight is long. You sleep a lot, wanting to mentally escape from the situation.
Hours later, the plane touches down. The new guy is very excited and leads you into the airport where dozens of people are there to greet you. Light bulbs flash as your photo is taken again and again. The new guy takes you to another guy who hugs you. Who is this one? You smile at him. Then you are taken to another man who pats your back and kisses your cheek. Then yet another fellow gives you a big hug and messes your hair. Finally, someone (which guy is this?) pulls you into his arms with the biggest hug you've ever had. He kisses you all over your cheeks and croons to you in some language you've never heard before.

He leads you to a car and drives you to another location. Everything here looks different. The climate is not what you're used to. The smells are strange. Nothing tastes familiar, except for the black coffee. You wonder if someone told him that you like your coffee black. You find it nearly impossible to sleep. Sometimes you lie in bed for hours, staring into the blackness, furious with your husband for leaving you, yet aching from the loss. The new guy checks on you. He seems concerned and tries to comfort you with soft words and a mug of warm milk. You turn away, pretending to go to asleep.

People come to the house. You can feel the anxiety start to bubble over as you look into the faces of all the new people. You tightly grasp the new guy's hand. He pulls you closer. People smile and nudge one other, marveling at how quickly you've fallen in love. Strangers reach for you, wanting to be a part of the happiness. Each time a man hugs you, you wonder if he will be the one to take you away. Just in case, you keep your suitcase packed and ready. Although the man at this house is nice and you're hanging on for dear life, you've learned from experience that men come and go, so you just wait in expectation for the next one to come along.

Each morning, the new guy hands you a cup of coffee and looks at you expectantly. A couple of times the pain and anger for your husband is so great that you lash out, sending hot coffee across the room, causing the new guy to yelp in pain. He just looks at you, bewildered. But most of the time you calmly take the cup. You give him a smile. And wait. And wait. And wait.

How would each of us handle all these changes? 

How would this impact us for the rest of our lives?
©2006 Cynthia Hockman-Chupp. Cynthia is an adoptive parent, teacher, and writer who has learned the most about parenting from her children. She operates a website with Heidi Louella, another adoptive parent and teacher, called with great information for families that are dealing with the challenges of attachment in young children. Her analogy is courtesy of Dr. Kali Miller, an attachment therapist. This article appeared in the book Adoption Parenting: Creating a Toolbox, Building Connections. Used by permission.
This article was originally published in Adoption Parenting: Creating a Toolbox, Building Connections published by EMK Press. This 520 page parenting book is a tapestry of contributions from over 100 adoptive parents, adoption experts, birth parents, and parents who have become experts to parent the children who have come to them. It is available from EMK Press,
16 Mt. Bethel Road, #216, Warren, NJ 07059

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Josiah 17 months

Kudos to my amazing husband for these pictures! 

*I have to mention that I came home from work Saturday night and he surprised me with these. I don't know too many guys who would be willing to dress up their child in a cute outfit and take them out for a photo-shoot!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Adoption Month

Did you know November is 
National Adoption Month?

During November I plan to share a few things on my blog this month to help celebrate!

  Enjoy the sermon "Free as Sons" by David Platt

I love this talk because...

1) He educates others on what NOT to say to adoptive families:

And sometimes people will hear that story and they'll look back and say, "That is so nice. Now, do you have any children of your own, too?" Okay. Phrase number one not to say to an adoptive parent: Do you have any children of your own? That's when you put your arm around this person, you kind of bring them in and say, "I've got a secret for you – he's ours. Like, he's our own children. It's not oh, we have this child and then our own children over here; our own children." When we got back and Heather got pregnant with Joshua and people would say, "Wow, that's great – you have an adopted child and now you're going to have one of your own." 

No, no, no, no, no, no, no. We have this tendency to divide children, to distinguish children between well, there's adopted children and there's biological children – as if adopted is some adjective to describe a child. It's not an adjective, it's an action that has taken place. You adopt someone, and now they're not an adopted child; they're a child, period. 

Sometimes, people will say – this is another big one – sometimes people will say, "Well, have you ever met Caleb's real mother?" "Okay, let me introduce you to her. Her name is Heather." And they say, "Well, you know what I mean." "Okay, what do you mean? That she's, like – Heather's her fake mother and there's a real mother out there?" And I start going off on defending my wife. 

So anyway, so I would encourage you not to ask a real mother. Another one I would encourage you not to go here, because, well, the thought or the question that comes up – "Oh, he's adopted. How much did he cost?" Okay – all right, now we're about – we're about to take the gloves off now. As if you can put a price tag on a child, and especially in light of all that we spend our money on. But anyway, no, you don't go there. 

2) He reminds us of the gift of adoption.

And I said, "Yeah, I love you, buddy." And he looked back at me and he said, "Why?" And I said, "Because you're my son." He said, "Why?" And I paused. "You love me, Daddy? Why?" "Because you're my son." "Why?" Why is he my son? Why, out of all the children in the world, is this little guy that I'm playing with my son? And I start tearing up, getting emotional. Caleb doesn’t know what's going on. That's the last time he'll ask me why. 

He was just playing with his daddy, now his daddy's weeping, and I just look at him and I said, "Because we came to get you, buddy, and we wanted you in our family." Can I remind you that the God of the universe looks upon your life, church – not the person beside you, in front of you, or behind you. He looks upon your life and says, "I love you." "Why, God? Why would you love me?" "Because you're my son." "Why, God? Why am I your son?" "Because I came to get you. I came for you, and I wanted you in my family." 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Orphan Sunday

Orphan Sunday 2012
Orphan Sunday 2012
About this video
"On Orphan Sunday, Christians stand for the orphan. We are a people called to defend the fatherless…to care for the child that has no family…to visit orphans in their distress. Each event is locally-led. Sermons and small groups, concerts and prayer gatherings, shared meals and youth activities—each rousing believers with God’s call to care for the orphan, and what we can do in response. From many sources, one voice. On November 4th, 2012, thousands of events echo across America and around the globe, all sharing a single goal: that God’s great love for the orphan will find echo in our lives as well. Orphan Sunday is your opportunity to rouse church, community and friends to God’s call to care for the orphan. Thanks to Phil Wickham for permission to use the song, "You're Beautiful"."

Orphan Sunday Prayer Points
(Prayer points taken from “God’s Heart for the Orphans” by Rick and Kay Warren)

1)    Pray that the Lord would give you a personal sense of responsibility for praying for orphans. Ask that He would help you to see orphans with His eyes and His heart. Pray for the Lord to help your church congregation feel His heart for the orphans.
2)    Pray for the fatherless in your community and/or any orphans you may know by name. Ask the Lord to protect them, care for them, and defend them. Pray for families in countries all over the world who have room in their homes and hearts for a fatherless child. Ask that the Lord would speak to them even now, leading them to consider adoption or foster care. Pray specifically for families in your community who may be in the process of adopting. Ask for God’s provision for all of their needs: physical, emotional, and spiritual.
3)    Ask the Lord to lead the lawmakers in every nation to protect and provide for orphans.
4)    Ask the Lord to raise up respite care providers to support and give relief to the caregivers caring for orphans who are waiting to have families adopt them.
5)    Ask God to care for child- headed households. Pray that the Lord will provide for their needs. Pray that an adult would come alongside them and adopt them. Ask the Lord to protect them from abuse.
6)    Pray for children who are not yet orphans but may only have one parent who may be sick or dying. Pray for the health and safety of their parent. Pray for God’s provision. Pray for protection for the children in these households.
7)    Ask God to protect children affected by war and violent conflicts. Pray that the Lord will protect their vulnerable hearts and keep them safe. Pray that a church will reach out to them.
8)    Ask the Lord to release and speed any care supplies to refugee camps where many orphans live and need even the most basic necessities. Ask Him to cut through any governmental regulations or corrupt leaders to miraculously get the supplies delivered to where they are needed most
9)    Pray for the health of
 orphans around the world. Ask the
Lord to provide medications and treatment for the simple things that are unnecessarily killing children like unclean drinking water, malaria, dysentery, AIDS, and malnutrition.
10) Pray for street children. These children live under bushes and in dumps and sewage pipes. They may eat meals out of trash cans. Many people walk by them without seeing them or view them as pests. Ask God to open the churches’ eyes to help them see the orphans all around them. Ask the Lord to provide food and shelter for the street children.

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families...

Psalm 68:5-6