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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Update your reading lists!

Hi everyone!  I am all set up with my new Wordpress site!  If you are still seeing this, please update your readers to (no "www").  First blog post is up: Our China Team.  Come join me!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Getting a facelift

No pictures, but just a quick note to let you know that I'm giving myself a facelift for my birthday!  I'll be switching over to Wordpress with a brand new, simple, clean look.  The blog will be down for a bit while I'm making the switch, but I promise I'm not going anywhere!  I think you'll still be able to see me at until I'm finished with the switch.  See you soon!

Friday, March 21, 2014

It's different

One of my friends recently shared on Facebook that she was struggling with being newly home with her second Chinese son.  She received so many encouraging comments, it was beautiful!  But she also received a hurtful comment implying that parenting biological and adopted children is exactly the same, and she should roll with the punches because everyone else had been through the same things with their new children.  Although I know this could be true in some cases, I also know that parenting adopted children is sometimes very different.

Of course, each child is unique and different.  There is no one-size-fits-all status for any child, biological or adopted.  But as a parent of both biological and adopted children, I see the differences, especially when they first become part of your family.  Parenting a new child who may have been institutionalized for the first part of their life - who may not have had someone to meet their needs consistently, who may not have been loved or told how precious they are, who may have been neglected and/or abused - can be very challenging and delicate compared to parenting a child who was loved and had his/her needs met consistently from the beginning.  While I know that biological children can also offer significant challenges, institutionalization introduces a number of issues not typically common with biological children.  Children who have been institutionalized can be traumatized, hurt, and delayed.  Children generally lose one month of development and linear growth for every three months they are institutionalized.  Our children often come to us with behaviors learned to survive.  We usually do not share most of those behaviors with others to protect our hurting children.

Teaching them that they have parents who love them unconditionally and will meet their needs often takes a lot of intentionality and time.  This may include not letting anyone hold our children or help with any basic needs until he/she is firmly attached and bonded to us as their new parents.  As much as we may want and desperately need the help that is very naturally accepted when we bring biological newborns home, we oftentimes hold off with adopted children because we know it's best for our children.  There may not have been a consistent caregiver in their past.  They may have depended on only themselves to survive.  Survive is defined as "to continue to live or exist, in spite of danger or hardship."  Survival is the most basic human instinct that children shouldn't have to worry about.  If consistency is lacking, our children may think they can only depend on themselves.  Oftentimes the only way to teach them that mama and daddy will always be there for them is to be the only people to meet their needs.  It can be exhausting and isolating.

Add in the fact that you are parenting a new toddler (or older child in many cases) with a very clear personality for the first time ... the road can be much harder and may look a lot different than parenting biological children.  Throw in a the possibility of a language barrier, institutional delays, weekly therapies, and medical special needs ... it all just compounds how difficult adoptive parenting can be.  It may be easy to look at the beautiful airport homecoming pictures and new family portraits and think the family is filled with love and everything is perfect.  The truth is the family is filled with love and it is very beautiful indeed, but things are not always perfect.  Fortunately we are filled up daily with His perfect love and that shines through.  It is only from the Father that we have the strength in those first few months (or sometimes years).  Only He makes beauty from ashes and has the ability to redeem the brokenness of adoption.  His beauty and truth always shine through.

I do not think everyone should feel sorry for anyone or adoptive parents deserve a big pat on the back.  We all mess up daily (often minute by minute) just like every other parent on the planet and need Jesus desperately!  I write it only to offer a different perspective and to hopefully share that parenting biological and adopted children can be very different. It's hard to understand for most people who haven't parented children from hard places. I get that.  But when adoptive parents are struggling through something tough and are asking for support and prayer, it may not always be the normal everyday parenting stuff.  Of course, it is ALL worth it. Totally worth it. Biological or adopted, it doesn't matter - every bit of it is worth it. Every child who we have the privilege of parenting here on earth is precious and unique. We get such a special opportunity to borrow them for a bit from the Father to train them up!  It is surely beautiful and we are overwhelmed with love.  Our children are gifts from the Lord and it is our privilege to parent them.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

GUEST POST: I'm not advocating for a stranger

I had the privilege of being with Kelly to meet this little guy in China and take these pictures of him.  He needs a family and is such a wonderful little boy.  He really would be an amazing son and he wants to be adopted.  Will you please read my friend, Kelly's, blog post about him below and share?  He is such a light and so full of life.  After meeting him in person myself, I just know his family is out there.  Let's bring this sweet son home.

"I was told there were no flights out of Beijing on March 12th. No flights? How could that be? What that meant was that if we really wanted to travel on that day, our trip that would have been a 13 hour plane ride followed by several hours in Chicago followed by a 2 hour flight to Philly just increased by about 10 hours. We had the worst itinerary ever—an early morning domestic flight to another city in China, an 8 hour layover, and then a flight to Chicago and then our flights home. Great.
When I called my friend and traveling companion to tell her the bad news, she suggested we make the best of it, get out of the airport, make it a fun layover, see the town. Then, we both remembered that he lived there. But, there was no way we’d get permission to visit him. I was sure of it.
But, apparently, God was in charge of our itinerary all along.
QuiLe 1
He was anxious to greet us when we arrived, hurrying to put on his shoes. The boys in his room were calling his name. They all knew he had special visitors coming to see him. He was a little quiet at first and hindered by the gap created by our English and his Mandarin. But, chocolate fixes lots of things. He smiled big, showing off his dimples and at least two Enlish words as I handed him a big chocolate bar from America.
Thank you!
We spent an hour with him, hearing from him about how he likes math and basketball. We saw his classroom and his prize winning handwriting assignment. I saw his second grade workbook where he was doing math more advanced than my son the same age is doing in his American 2nd grade class. I saw the love his teacher and caregiver have for him, a boy who has had a rough start but who very much seems like a normal, active little guy. We heard from him that most of his friends including his best friend have already been adopted. We asked him if he wanted a family, brothers and sisters, a big move to America.
I touched his face, tickled his cheeks, patted his head, silently prayed over him in person as I have prayed from the other side of the world.
I told someone there that I thought he’d make a wonderful son and how sorry I was that he was still waiting. That someone typed something into a phone and showed it to me, unable to say it without the help of technology…or unable to say it aloud in the presence of others.
It read in Chinese:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
QuiLe 2
At the end of our visit, we walked him back to his room. I gave him another chocolate bar to save for later and told him how special he was and that we came all the way from America just to see him. It wasn’t about us at all; we aren’t all that. But, I wanted to give him that. I wanted him to know he was worth a trip across the world.
Today’s his 8th birthday. I wonder if he saved any of his chocolate bar to eat today. We prayed for him as a family today, praying that his family sees his face and that God would show Himself sovereign over their itinerary too and reveal to them that he is worth a trip across the world and back again to make him a beloved son.
To read more about my commitment to advocate for him, please see this post.
To read more about my first post about him, please read this post.
If you want to know more about adopting him, please contact me. I would love to share more pictures, some video, and everything I know about him."

Friday, March 14, 2014


I'm home.  After 48 hours of travel, a cancelled flight, and an unexpected overnight stay in Chicago, I'm home.  I'm not really sure what to write, as words don't seem to do my trip to China justice.  I don't even know where to start, so for now I'll just say it was overwhelmingly amazing.  We went there to be hands and feet, and we saw over and over again that the Father is already working in so many ways.  And our team was blessed to be a part of it.  I am unbelievably thankful I had the opportunity to be His servant and to witness all that I did.  Wow.