ABCs of Adoption- Part 5

Relationships are so very complicated. People can have personality clashes, old wounds that haven’t healed, memories that haunt or resentment and unforgiveness. And then sometimes people just don’t care or won’t even try. 

On the other hand relationships are so basically simple. People who are willing to tolerate differences, who have forgiven, grown, healed. People who care a lot and won’t stop trying no matter what. 

Whether it is marriage or adoption or siblings or in-laws, relationships can be complicated at their worst and as simple as ABC at their best. 


Two of my sons are marrying this fall season. One of my new daughter-in-laws uses the hashtag #tistheseasontobemarried and I believe she must be right! These young couples are committing to love each other and prefer each other and to be in a binding, legally and spiritually, relationship. 

Adoption is that same sort of commitment. We commit to love and protect and provide and prefer our children. It is a binding, both legally and spiritually, relationship. So what if it doesn’t work out?

It is a terrible tragedy when relationships fail, marriages end in divorce or adoptions are disrupted. There is sure to be plenty of pain and hurt. But we all know that these things do happen. Love is risky. People are people. Relationships can be complicated. 



So why in the world would we even try? Why would we marry, adopt, love or commit when there is such a great risk involved?

Because there is also such great hope! So many great possibilities! So much potential!  Relationships, people, marriage, family, adoption and love are all worth every ounce of any risk involved. 

Family is a relationship of commitment, both legally and spiritually. Family begins with two people, who are not related by blood or biology, committing to one another, both spiritually and legally. And sometimes it grows by the birth of children, and sometimes it grows by the adoption of children and sometimes it grows because we choose to open our hearts to people we love and cherish, just because we want to. 



Many times people hesitate when considering adoption, wondering if they can love a child that is not biologically theirs. What if it doesn’t work out? What if the relationship fails? What if there are personality clashes? What if a million things?

If you are going to focus on the ‘what ifs’ you’re going to live a life full of fear and that’s no way to live. If you are going to avoid any emotional risks, you’re going to live a life of loneliness and that’s no way to live. If you refuse to see the possibilities, the potential, you’re going to live a limited life and that’s no way to live. 



Whatever you do? Whatever you choose? Whatever you decide? Don’t let fear, regret, past experiences or failed relationships cause you to give up on love. Love has never and will never, give up on you. 

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ABCs of Adoption part 4

Today my little corner of the world was very hectic. A tire puncture on the way to church which caused us to be very late and then after church being locked out of my husband’s vehicle that he had loaned me  after rescuing us from the tire debacle. 

I could feel my temperature rising. I don’t know how you handle interruptions and delays, but well, I can fuss and fume a little bit. I often say, let’s just stick to the plan. 

As I sat waiting for my hero (husband) to rescue me again, I watched some of my kiddos in their hip hop small group. It was both entertaining and distracting. And that was a good thing. 

When it come to adoption, you may have to do a bit of waiting yourself, possibly even have some doors closed in your face and maybe at times, feel as if you are taking two steps backwards for every one step forward. That’s just how life can go sometimes and adoption is no exception. 

Oh how I struggled with the loss of two pregnancies (a boy and a girl), the roller coaster of infertility (testing and charts), a failed private adoption (that left us in debt) and the delay of my dream (to be a mother). 


I’ve been writing blog entries this month about the ABC’s of Adoption because November is National Adoption Month. Adoption was the way God filled my empty arms, brought me my children, created our family and fulfilled my heart’s desire to be a mother. 

Almost without exception, little girls plan to grow up and be mommies. Unfortunately plans don’t always work out like we expect them to. I read that 12% of women experience infertility issues. That’s twelve out of every hundred.

Chances are those twelve are also struggling with shame, depression, discouragement, confusion and brokenness. I wrote once in a journal that my own body had betrayed me and was sabotaging my efforts to have a child. I honestly felt forgotten and betrayed by God. Infertility is a cruel task master. 


Here’s what I want you to know about infertility and adoption. One often leads to the other, that is true. But I can assure you that when those hopes are fulfilled and that judge declares legally what your heart has already declared, you will not in any way feel that you’re getting your second choice. 

Try, take the tests, rule out the possibilities. Mourn the loss of a Dream, but then if your plans don’t work out just as you hoped, take hope because hope can be found through adoption. It’s true! And once you choose hope, anything truly is possible. 

ABC’s of Adoption – part 3

November is National Awareness Day for both Adoption and Prematurity. It seems only right that I spotlight our son who was born prematurely and also became our first adopted child. 


We had only been foster parents about six months when we received a call just days before Christmas that would forever change our lives. I’ll never forget that phone call. I was so excited, I literally jumped for joy. 

The social worker explained the situation. A premature baby boy, now weighing five pounds was ready to come home from the hospital. I fairly flew to the hospital that very day. Oh how my heart rejoiced. 

Everyone loved Jesse. How could we not. He was a delight right from the beginning and brought us so much joy. Of course, he was our foster child and although we loved him with all our hearts, we knew the day might come when he would leave. 

Two and a half years later, we had the great privilege of adopting him. Our first adoption of seven, we truly thought he would be our one and only. We were so thrilled to stand before the judge and know that Jesse was our forever son. 


I hear so often the concern that foster-care adoption is risky. While it is true that we didn’t know exactly what tomorrow would hold, may I remind you, that neither do you. Regardless if a child is fostered, birthed, or adopted, there are no guarantees. Love is risky business. 

Love is also worth the risk. Jesse was worth the risk. Each child that is waiting in the foster care system this very day, is worth the risk. Are you willing to take the risk? I’m so very glad we did. 

ABCs of Adoption – part 2

Continuing my ABCs of Adoption in honor of November being National Adoption Month! Celebrate with me. 

Today is the day we go the Dream Center downtown and minister to those who are there for food and fellowship. It’s always a blessing, but today was even more so. 

One of our sons, Jeremiah, has a birthday coming up this weekend and one of the ways he wanted to celebrate was to give the message today in my stead. He worked so diligently and prayed and prepared all week. He normally does the music and worship with my two daughters. Today he was to do both the music and the message. 


His message was about the Good Samaritan, being one and finding one. He shared from his heart as well and referred to a number of scriptures. I could tell he was a bit nervous, but he was also so happy to have the honor of speaking to the precious Café family. 

To say he has come a long way in his young life, is hardly appropriate. He has conquered mountains. He recounted this true story from his childhood and I’d like to share it with you. 

Jeremiah had some learning differences and one of the biggest hurdles was reading. He just could not get the hang of it and it was years later that he was diagnosed as having dyslexia. 

We often had (and still have) family devotions. He could not read, but I was determined he would be included. So, he would hold his Bible and point to the words as I read and he repeated them. This went in for some time and one day I encouraged him to try and read a few words on his own. 

That was the day we made a discovery. Jeremiah could read the Bible before he could read other books. We were astounded and he was so proud to be able to do so. I can not explain it, but it is the truth. 

So what does this have to do with adoption? In his message today, Jeremiah said God puts people in our lives to help shape and form us. He said these people are Good Samaritans and they take action when they see a need. Then he pointed to me and said, my mom is a Good Samaritan, she never sat back and looked away from a person who needed help. 

That was such a beautiful thing for him to say, and it made me want to declare on the hill tops, that adoptive parents aren’t rescuing someone else’s children, they are discovering their very own children in a unique way. Jeremiah is such a blessing in our lives and I can not imagine our life if had not had the great honor of being his parents. Adoption made that possible. 

The ABCs of Adoption

November is National Adoption Month and I want to recognize it by sharing some of our personal adoption experiences. It’s really as easy as ABC.


Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? 

A stands for, well it naturally stands for adoption itself and rightly so. Adoption is in its own right, the beginning of a whole new life, a whole new way of living and experiencing and some days, breathing. It certainly was for us. 

Adoption altered the way we viewed the world. Once adoption became a stepping stone of possibilities rather than a stumbling block of impossibilities, everything changed. 


There are all types of adoptions, but there is one thing all adoptions have in common. Purpose. Every Adoption is done on purpose. Never ever had parents accidentally adopted. Adoption is pursued and planned. Adoption is on purpose!

When we adopted our children I had a new understanding of the profound love that God has for us. Adoption is a spiritual concept that is life-changing and powerful.


Several years ago I had an article published, my very first, and I was able to write about adoption. Oh how honored I felt to write on this important subject. How hopeful I was that someone who read my words might find their courage and then find their child. 

Here is the link to my newest article on adoption that spotlights Alabama Heart Gallery and Children’s Aid Society. 

http://birminghamparent.com/article/do-you-have-the-heart-of-adoption.html 

I’ll be back tomorrow and each day of November to share more about the ABC’s of Adoption. If you’re curious or confused, I hope you’ll find the courage you need to consider or reconsider the possibilities of adoption.  

Entanglements 

This morning I have been doing a lot of thinking and my thoughts have led to the entanglements of life. For the most part, those entanglements involve people. People don’t come in the easy-care, wrinkle-free, stain-resistant department. People are difficult. Whether young or old, they require maintenance and time and energy and effort. I’ll tell you what else they require, they require a lot of patience and forgiveness. If you want an easy, stress free, drama-less life you’d do best to avoid people altogether. Of course you’d also miss out on the best of life while trying to sidestep demanding entanglements. You’d never have a big family fight but, you’d never experience the joy of reconciliation. You’d never lose sleep worrying about problems that are not your own but, you’d never know the great delight that comes in sharing the victories that are not your own.
The truth is, people disappoint us. They falter and stumble. This morning I was reading Romans 15 in The Message and several phrases really stood out to me.
“Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?”

That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out.” Romans 15:1-3
One dictionary defines entanglement as ‘to twist together or entwine into a confusing mass’. Nothing about that definition beckons unto us saying “come a little bit closer”. As a matter of fact, it pretty much shouts “AVOID AT ALL COSTS”. When Henry and I decided to become foster parents we were cautioned by many to reconsider. After all, the foster care system is one entangled mess. I often call it broken, but, truly entangled is a better description. It is one thing to take a child into your home, it is another to deal with family visits and siblings and relatives and therapies and social workers and court appearances. We were cautioned but, we pressed ahead and in our fifteen years of foster care we fostered forty-five children. A few were there short term, maybe a dozen, but there were many who were with us for years and seven of whom we adopted.
When we were training to be foster parents one of my concerns was how I would feel towards the birth parents. Would I be able to be civil to these people who obviously didn’t want their children and had harmed them in some way? And then, as is so often the case, experience taught me differently. I began to meet these real, struggling, faltering human beings and I was for the most part flooded with compassion.
I remember once that a birth father showed up at our door early on Christmas Morning, pounding until we opened it. He held gifts in his arms and shouted at us to let him see his son. We had to try to calm him while we explained that his son was no longer there. You see, he wasn’t supposed to know where his son was because he would not respect the boundaries of visitation. Social services had found out that he had figured out the child was with us and after over two years of building a relationship with us, he had been moved. I’ll never forget the look on that man’s face when he realized that his determination to break the rules and outsmart the system had resulted in another move for his son. It was an entanglement.
Another time on another early morning one summer, I went to let our pooch out to potty and saw a vehicle parked in our driveway. Inside the car was the mother of one of our teen girls who was with us for nearly four years. She just sat there and I just stood there wondering what to do. I was in my housecoat and had rollers in my hair. I hadn’t even had my coffee. I decided to step to the car and she rolled down the window. “Would you like to come in for coffee?’ I asked. She looked so defeated and sad sitting there that I could hardly stand it. She came in and I hastily went and woke our foster daughter. “Your mom is here,” I told her, “come on, let’s fix her breakfast.” We did and I’ll never forget her comment that she couldn’t remember the last time she had eaten. It was an entanglement.
Once, we had a child placed with us rather suddenly. The social workers knew we could be counted on in a crisis and this was a crisis. The child’s parents were in a heated divorce and each accusing the other of endangering the child hoping to prevent the other from having visitation rights. Tempers had flared in the courtroom until finally the judge ordered the child taken into custody until it could all be sorted out. This was a Friday and that meant a long weekend ahead. The child wasn’t your typical foster care child. This was all new to him and to say he was traumatized is not an adequate description. He was nine years old and I already had two other nine year old boys, as well as several other children. He cried and cried. He would only speak to ask me to take him to his grandparents. I explained that I couldn’t do that but, I could keep him safe until he could return to his family. Finally, I asked him to tell me about his family and then I did something I wasn’t allowed to do. I searched for their number in an old fashioned phone book until I figured out how to contact them. His grandparents wept openly as I explained who I was without giving them a name or address. I’ll never forget their gratitude of just hearing from me, a total stranger that he was safe and being cared for. They had been praying, feeling totally helpless and alarmed. It was an entanglement.
One of my son’s birth mother and I spent a lot of time together. She was young enough that she could have possibly been my daughter herself. I kept her other children many times that weren’t in foster care to help her when she’d find herself in trouble once again. When she got straightened out enough that the judge was willing to give her another chance, I thought I would absolutely die. We were losing our baby. I had invested in her and now my reward was that she would have her son while we lost our son. See how entangled it gets? But I’ll never forget the day, just three days later when she showed up at my door with him in her arms. She told me she couldn’t raise him and she knew I was supposed to. He became one of our forever children through adoption.
If you will, scroll back up and read that portion of scripture from Romans once more. If you find yourself in a position of strength then take the opportunity to lend a hand to those who falter around you. Are you strong financially, then take that as an opportunity for service, not status. If you are strong spiritually, reach out to those whose faith may be faltering. If it really isn’t convenient to get involved, welcome to the life of extravagant love and get involved anyway. Not sure exactly how you can help? Then, ask how you can help. Wade right in. After all, that’s what Jesus did for us and He is our perfect example of how to live this life, even with all the entanglements.

Your Day Is Coming

Today, this very moment, I am the busy mom of many. I am trying to get myself together this morning before I wake the kids and prepare myself for the onslaught of activity and noise. I will likely have to raise my voice to be heard above the din. (In case you are wondering, din is a loud confusing mixture of noises that last for a long time and boy, does it describe my life.)

Today, this very day, I will likely speak with one of my teen daughters concerning her attitude and with my other daughter concerning her bossiness. I will most likely have to remind one son to keep on task and another to keep his hands to himself. I will surely pray hard as I attempt to teach my son with dyslexia his reading lesson. Oh, and let’s not forget the grown children. I’ll most certainly be cautioning and encouraging them. 

My life is full to the point of me trying to catch my breath and maintain my sanity at times and the reason why? These children. The ones I asked God to give me. My answers to prayer. They have filled my empty arms. They have stretched me and challenged me. I am stronger and wiser. I am exhausted and spent. I am their mother and it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It is the greatest thing I’ve ever done. 

Even as I look for my courage to face my overwhelming day  I am remembering those who are still waiting. I am praying for those who will wrap their arms around each other and at times around themselves to try to cope with the terrible time of waiting for those arms to be filled with a child, their child, their very own child.

Your day is coming. Your path will be different than mine. Your disappointments may be many. Your waiting may seem unbearable. Your plight may seem hopeless. Your plan may be altered. Your hope may be almost diminished. But, I assure you, your day is coming. 

So, take courage if you are still waiting. Your day is coming. And when it does, I’ll be rejoicing with you.  And if your day has already come, seize the day and embrace every moment of your miracle.