ABCs of Adoption – Part 8

November is National Adoption Awareness Month and I’m still blogging about the ABCs of Adoption. Today I’d like to share a bit about our oldest adopted child, Josiah.

I’ve often said that he would be the perfect poster child for older-child adoption. He joined our family when he was eight years old and he has debunked many adoption hesitations. I am choosing the term hesitation because, I believe many more people would adopt if it weren’t for things they don’t understand that cause them hesitate.

I want to show you a few pictures of Josiah with his brothers. One of the four of them is related by birth. Some folks would refer to him as Josiah’s ‘real’ brother. But I wouldn’t say that to Josiah if I were you, he would not agree. They are all his real brothers and nothing will change that.

I want to tell you something else about Josiah! Today is his birthday and in ten days he is getting married! This is the youngest photo we have of Josiah. He was six years old and cute as could be.

I’m not going to say we didn’t have some rough days. He had to learn to trust again. There were some moments of frustration for him and for us as well. But he was worth every difficulty that accompanies adopting an older child. He is a treasure.

Now, he is a hard-working, well-adjusted young man who is a talented musician and a minister of the gospel. He shares his testimony of healing and Hope often. And in ten days he will marry! I’m so very happy that he is happy.

I’m so very happy that we took a chance on him and even more importantly, that he took a chance on us. Older child adoptions have a factor that others do not. The child can choose too. They have a voice and must agree to the adoption. We chose each other.

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ABCs of Adoption – Part 7

November is National Adoption Awareness Month and I’m the mother of seven adopted children, five of whom are presently teens. So, let’s talk about adopted teens. Surely that can’t be as simple as ABC. You’re so right.

They test you and rebel against boundaries and are stubborn and have emotional outbursts sometimes…just like any other teen, adopted or not. And that’s the truth.

But it isn’t necessarily because they are adopted, it’s more likely because they are trying to figure out growing up…just like any other teen.

As parents, we hold on tight to the knowledge that ‘this too shall pass’ and we buckle in for the ride, praying all the while.

Can adopted teens have unique challenges and special issues. Yes, just like any other teen can. Will some of these issues result from past hurts and disappointments? Yes, just like any other teen, or any other human being, they will need to learn to forgive, move on and heal.

I think sometimes we are too quick to attribute a teen’s struggles to his or her adopted status. Raising teens is about as complicated a task as you can tackle. About the time you think you’ve figured it out, a curve ball reminds you that you haven’t.

Too many times, we over scrutinize our children and ourselves because our family was formed through adoption. We might feel that we have something to prove to the world of onlookers, perhaps people who didn’t approve of our decision to adopt in the first place.

If you are determined to get it all right all the time, as a parent, you are setting yourself up for failure. If you think you have control over choices other people make, including your teens, you are bound to be sorely disappointed.

Whether your child is a toddler in the midst of potty-training, a sassy-mouthed young child, a teen with an attitude or a young adult struggling to find their place in the world, don’t take the delays, the stumbles, the carelessly flung words personally.

We all want the very best for our children and hopefully we’ve done our best to give them every opportunity. But the bottom line is they get to choose whether they will take those opportunities or take a more difficult path. It doesn’t mean we have failed as parents or that ultimately, they will fail when all is said and done.

Take courage, keep trying and cling to hope. Don’t let moments of confusion, angst and upset define your relationship with your teen. There are far more good moments than bad. Do your best and trust God with the rest. Take advantage of every tool and resource available. And don’t give up, whatever you do, don’t quit trying.

So, yes, I guess it actually is as simple as ABC. Actions, Bravery and Consistency. That’s the ABC’s of parenting adopted teens.

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. 

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. 

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.

I Didn’t Sign Up For This – Did You?

Life has a way of throwing us curve balls and catching us unaware. When that happens we sometimes  think ‘Whoa! I didn’t sign up for this!’  What we mean of course, is things aren’t turning out like we hoped. The wonderful expectations we had suddenly crash with reality and the result isn’t something we recognize much less something we hoped for. 


Sometimes the crash with reality is so jarring that we lose our balance and become confused as to what exactly went wrong and what exactly it was we were trying to do anyway. ‘How’d I get myself in this mess?’ You may be thinking. 

This disappointment could be a dead-end job, a poor business venture, the purchase of a money-pit house, a bad investment and other wrong choices. Financial hardship is tough, but it can be overcome with better choices. 

I think what really throws us into a dizzying downward spiral is when relationships disappoint us. People that we care about, people we trust, people that matter to us can betray, deceive and generally let us down. When this happens emotions swell and our opinion of self shrinks. After all, ‘What WAS I thinking?’

Self-doubt can be a result of broken relationships, dreams turned into nightmares and disappointment. Before long we may be asking ourselves, ‘What’s the point?’


A struggling or failed marriage is one sure example. No one marries with the intent to divorce. Yet, divorces happen every day. One or both spouses break covenant and the relationship dissolves. 

A distressed parent wonders what they did wrong. Guilt weighs them down as they decide they have somehow failed. Shame attempts to bind them until they feel powerless. 

An abandoned friend can’t comprehend that the person they trusted wasn’t the person they thought they were after all. They feel foolish for not seeing the truth. 

To these examples I want to speak a few words of encouragement. Your situation of disappointment may be slightly or vastly different, but I believe you too can take courage from what I am going to say. 


1- We can not control other people and in the end, we are not responsible for the decisions they make. We can love them, pray for them, forgive them, encourage them, attempt to teach them, guide them and advise them. But we can not make their choices for them. 

2- People make mistakes and we are people too. We need to forgive others and we need to forgive ourselves. Human beings are notorious for being hasty  and not thinking things through. They are sometimes reckless, impulsive, thoughtless and down-right mean. But that’s not all they are; it’s not all we are. A mistake is something we have done. It is not who we are. It is not who they are either. 

3- Make every effort to learn to trust again. Forgive, let it go, shake the dust off your sandals, see a counselor, take it to the altar, whatever it takes, find your courage to trust again. If you don’t, life will be lonely, your heart will be bitter, your future will be dismal. You can do it, it won’t be easy and yes, if you trust again, you can be hurt again. There is risk involved in every worthy venture. 

4- Find your courage to dream again, new dreams. Believe things can be better and different the next time you try, the next time you give your heart away. Make plans and develop goals and anticipate a better tomorrow. Remind yourself that no matter what is happening right now, it is only one chapter in a book of a lifetime. This isn’t the end of the story. 

5- Finally, sometimes you just have to accept things as they are even if you hope this isn’t how it will always be. I have a personal little beatitude that I often say to myself as a reminder when things aren’t going as planned. ‘Blessed are the flexible for they shall not break.’


Look, I don’t know if your marriage has suddenly ended or if your beloved child has landed themself in jail. I don’t know if your friend threw you under the train or your parent has rejected you. I don’t know if a church leader betrayed your trust or if a family member deceived you. I don’t know if your plans and dreams are piled in a heap of brokenness at your feet. 

What I do know is there is hope for today and yes, even tomorrow. What I do know is you can try again. What I do know is circumstances can change. What I do know is that different can sometimes be better. Don’t be afraid. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and take one tiny but brave step forward and then one more and then another. 

Boundary Busters


“Only a fool plays a game with no rules.” 

A friend and fellow author posted this earlier today and it set me to thinking. Does that ever happen to you? Someone says something and it’s like a switch has been flipped and your mind starts whirring and the gears of your mind start grinding. Because of that very thing, I have a few things to say this morning about boundaries. 

It seems to me that I’m hearing an awful lot about boundary busters here lately. A boundary is a dividing line, the proverbial line in the sand, sometimes unspoken and invisible, but nevertheless firm and real. Boundaries are necessary. Boundaries in relationships are absolutely essential. I think boundaries are a sign of respect, respect for other people and respect for ourselves. 

As life progresses and situations change, boundaries must be adjusted accordingly. If you refuse to adhere to boundaries, trouble is bound to follow swiftly behind. 


Some boundaries are so firm that they are laws of the land. No matter how much you admire it and want it, it is not okay to steal what belongs to another person, for instance. 

Some boundaries are of a spiritual nature and they are spiritual laws (found in the Bible). No matter how wronged you have been and are offended, it is not okay to walk in unforgiveness, for instance. 

Some boundaries are expected to be respected at places of employments, dress codes, professional conduct and punctuality for instance. You want to keep the job, be considered for promotions and earn raises then you must abide by the boundaries. 


The boundary busting I have been witnessing lately are relationship boundaries. So, here is what I want to clarify and I don’t intend to be gentle. 

1- If you are married, you are no longer single. Seems obvious? Well, not to some people. They want to be married but act single. 

2- If you are a parent, you are responsible for taking care of your children. Surely people know that? Well, not some people. They don’t have time to be bothered with the welfare of their children. 

3- If you are a Christian, you are accountable to God for your actions, your words and your attitudes (heart condition). Surely that’s a given? Well, not for many people. They are constantly justifying what they know is wrong, determined to make it right. 

Look, y’all, these are things that should not need saying. These are things that should be clearly understood. But you know what? We’ve got a whole bunch of folks with broken thinking. 


In a day and age where everyone wants to live with no limits and no one wants to be held accountable for the actions they take, we are spiraling downward into a state of chaos. Chaos can be a bit exhilarating at first. But in the end, it is a very lonely place to be. 

You see, boundaries don’t only prevent you from mistreating others, they prevent others from mistreating you. Boundaries hold us responsible and they protect us from unfair expectations.Boundaries are good for those we love and good for us too.