Posts Tagged ‘adoption’

This past weekend we started to watch This Is Us. It stirs up lots of dust, lots of emotions, particularly as an adoptive parent.

It is a show that just sucks you in as they slowly reveal the truth. Some of the truth is about the lies we tell ourselves, or the lies we’ve been told. Sometimes the lies are driven by fears, and sometimes the lies create fears.

The show shifts back and forth between two time frames; childhood and the present for three siblings. One of those siblings was adopted, a black boy in a white home before it was common. One of his struggles was the longing to know his biological parents. He didn’t love his adoptive parents less but he wanted to understand who he was. Understandable.

His mother struggled to connect with him initially. She was mourning the death of one of her triplets. Desperate, she seeks for the man she saw lurking at the hospital. She stays in touch with him, but prohibits him from contacting her son. She bonds so well with him, that her biological son feels left out. When he’s discovered to be a gifted student it only aggravates his brother’s wound and the sibling rivalry that tears apart their father’s dream of the Big Three.

There are those moments when black moms offer help. We’ve had those moments, like one in Hartsfield Airport near midnight. Some people are kindly about it, and others not so much. You feel judged as incompetent, uncaring, a “great white hope complex” etc..

As parents we struggle with these fears, these tensions, longings unfulfilled. We have our own wounds from childhood and are afraid they will have the same problems we do.

We want our kids to be close not just to us but one another. There are those beautiful, magical moments when they all play outside together. The laughter is as beautiful to me as a brilliantly composed and played symphony. I cherish those moments. There are times I’ve just pulled up a chair to watch and soak it all in.

Then there are the other moments, those ordinary sibling moments that my fearful heart can easily blow out of proportion. There are the stages as they grow older to pull away from us, from one another.

It gets back to this: I often feel like a wholly inadequate father. It is like they want what I don’t have, and don’t want what I do. For instance, I want to share sports with them. They really aren’t interested in watching a game with me (they are missing the beauty of Dustin Pedroia play defense, or Tom Brady leading the offense). One those rare occasions when they want to toss the ball around, it is so hot outside I struggle.

I’m not a handy guy; I’m more of an intellectual. I read. I think. Thankfully we live next door to a neighbor who works on his truck often. The boys are drawn like a moth to the flame. He’s able to scratch an itch that I cannot. Nor should I begrudge my neighbor for the time he spends with the boys because it isn’t about me, but them.

I love my parents, even my mother who can’t remember who I am. They are from a very different generation. They did the best they could, but there were …. gaps. For instance, they wanted me to control their anger but couldn’t show me how. My mother was an angry, fearful person. They really didn’t know how to process grief. When our dog was hit by a car on Easter Sunday, my father had to pull over the car on the way home. It was the only time I remember seeing him cry. We didn’t get another dog. I never had another pet until I was a young pastor living alone.

Kids, especially adopted kids, can expose those wounds, those gaps and those inadequacies. It is humbling. It can be paralyzing, like it was for the mother in This Is Us. Our kids can’t perceive the fear we have. They just see the anger and control that the fear produces. It can teach us to be patient with our parents’ shortcomings. We can finally put ourselves in their shoes.

Hopefully my kids will show me a similar mercy in years to come.

I will have to trust God for the future. I will have to trust for the outcomes: whether they will share our faith, love each other well, discover, cultivate and utilize their gifts. I will have to trust that they will choose to call one another, hang out together. I can’t make it happen, only provide opportunities. Yes, you often feel helpless. Welcome to parenting.


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The Blind Prophet
As I noted we decided to take advantage of Eli’s latest orthodontist appointment and both go up and look at some Hodyessys. I’d been thinking too, and preferred them to the Sienna. The night before, the tires on the T&C that needed changing looked different as we sat outside Chuck E. Cheese.  Made me think the belts were separating, and it wouldn’t be wise to drive it to Phoenix. This, I thought, ruled out the possibility of trading it in.
Due to a Honda recall, we didn’t have the CRV available. But we had the rental Grand Cherokee. Unlike the previous evening we got to explore some of the extras, like the sunroof. One thing we noticed is that the navigation wouldn’t work while we were in gear. The passenger seat has a sensor to turn on the air bag, but apparently not the navigation. So we had to resort to my sworn enemy: Siri.
We arrived at the dealership and met the crew. The website was right- this was nothing fancy. It was parked next to a Mexican restaurant, so we continually smelled carne asada, or something like that.
After filling in some info on the iPad for a test drive, we were looking at the van. First we passed the van I had hoped to buy getting prepped for delivery. It had been purchased Tuesday night. The small lot behind the building was filled with cars. Lots of Odysseys and other Hondas, a few Audis, Toyotas and others. We interacted with a few people, including Brad who does lots of the traveling to auctions. He noted that they like to buy in the northeast because people don’t put as many miles on vehicles as they do in the southeast. He noted that they were behind on cleaning up newer vehicles.
As I looked at the van I saw some cosmetic stuff. They now hold bumpers on with plastic clips. Not a good design, and one bumper was missing some. “Yeah, we buy those in bulk. We’ll put new ones in.” There were a few scratches where someone used a paint pen or something- a poorly matching one at that. People returning leases like these probably rush to cover up such things.
The engine compartment looked very clean. The test drive was mostly good. No saleperson as we took it around some city streets and out to the highway. Something felt a little odd at times. I couldn’t tell if it was the road, or the tires. When we got back I walked around it again and noticed it had 4 different tires on it. As did the van next to the one we looked at. But they had one make in common. I figured I’d ask if they could swap one so I’d have two of the same on the front. They said this often happens with rentals: people don’t take care of the tires and then scramble to put non-bald tires on them when trading them in. We would have 4 new tires.
I listened to the engine run, and didn’t notice any unusual noises. Things were looking good. This van didn’t have all the extras like the one from Yuma. I had like the idea of a DVD player for trips, so I asked about getting one installed. I was thinking it would be well over $1,000. I was wrong. For $460 we got it installed and 4 wireless headphones for the kids so we can listen to music instead.
We went inside. There was no negotiating. This van was a little more than I’d wanted to spend but if only had about 40k miles. There was no dog and pony show. No pressure. He started to talk about financing. “We’re paying cash.” So that was one fewer thing to discuss.
I asked about trading in Gold Faithful. He asked a few questions, put answers in the computer. “$2,500.” That was the number I was hoping to get for a private sale. “I was hoping to not put new tires on it.” “Oh, we’ll pick it up when we drop your new van off.” No additional charge by the way. No heading to Discount Tire. No spending $300. And the price I wanted- with no haggling.
He printed out a sheet with the numbers. We agreed to get the 3 year bumper-to-bumper warranty. He noted what needed to be done: bumper clips, flanges for the cup holder, 4 new tires, DVD player.
Amie wrote the check and we got a receipt. “You’ll sign all the paperwork when we drop the van off.” He understood that we needed to get to Eli’s appointment. Eli who was riding a desk chair back and forth. I was more annoyed by it than they seemed to be. We shared some of our adoption story with the main guy. He was adopted too. So we piled into the Grand Cherokee and went to his appointment.
What would happen Friday? Would it all be as they said when they dropped it off? Would they drop it off?

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John Newton is a towering figure in 18th century evangelicalism, British and otherwise. He was a remarkable man because of the grace of God. He was a scoundrel and “blasphemer” by his own testimony who was engaged in the slave trade. Among his many lasting gifts to the world because of Christ’s mercy were his hymns (Amazing Grace being the most famous), the poetry of William Cowper (whom he prevented from committing suicide as one of his many acts of friendship), and the abolition of the slave trade in England through his influence on the newly converted William Wilberforce.

I enjoyed learning more about him in John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace. It was a great read that I’ll review more thoroughly on my blog. But one thing pertains to this blog: adoption.

He and his beloved wife Polly never had children of their own. But they had children. First they adopted a niece, Elizabeth, whose parents had died. Then they adopted another niece, Eliza, whose family had been wiped out by TB. Eliza herself suffered from consumption. They knew this, but adopted her and cared for her until her death. It was a great act of compassion on their part.

Elizabeth remained in the home as a dear companion and help to Newton after Polly’s death. She handled most of his correspondence as his own eyesight began to fail. For a time she was hospitalized with depression. Her absence was incredibly difficult for John. He’d go to the asylum each morning to wave a greeting through the window. Friends noted who shaken he was by this turn of events. Soon should would be released. Shortly after her marriage in 1804, she and her husband moved in to care for the increasingly decrepit Newton. She would inherit much of his estate, including his property and the copyrights to his books.

I wish the biography spent some more time on this aspect of his life. It was a very busy and productive life. Yet Elizabeth obviously felt well-loved and cared for by her adoptive parents.  Part of Newton’s greatness was how he incorporated people like Cowper and especially his nieces into his family.

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Amie came across this video, where Mark Schultz talks about his own sense of abandonment as an adopted child.  He received wise counsel and it ended up as a new song- Everything to Me.  Here is his story:

We’ll have to save this for our soon-to-be daughter.  She knew her mom.  She’ll struggle with this.  But her mom loved them both enough to know when to give them a chance at a better life.  That has to be one of the most difficult decisions anyone ever has to make.  But sometimes you can barely take care of yourself, forget 2 children.

I’ve had some people say something along the lines of “there are kids here that you could adopt.”  Yes, there are and it would not be wrong to adopt them.  They need forever families too.  Each adoptive family will have their own decision making grid.  Part of mine is comparing where these children have come from and what they will probably experience if not adopted by us.  A child in the foster care system has got it much better than an orphan in a place like the DRC- all things being equal.  By God’s grace we are reaching “deeper down” and lifting them higher.  We can only adopt so many kids- and for me, this makes more sense.

Pregnant women have three options.  So did we: do nothing, adopt domestically and adopt internationally.  We chose to adopt internationally.  What will you do?

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The time for the long-anticipated decision has come.  We, through our agents, contacted both TLC and Discovery about a show to “unveil” the decision with proceeds to go toward the program fees for the adoption.  We had some great ideas to fill a 30 minute show, building tension and anticipation.  We showed them power point presentations and how great we all were at acting.

But… they turned us down.  So all we have is this blog post to announce to the zillions of people following our journey toward adopting again.  Do you want me to go on like this for about 30 minutes so you can pretend it is on cable tv?  I thought so.

Watching out for her little brother

We have decided to adopt the children currently know as Marina and Mervie.  Marina is a 4 year-old girl, and Mervie is her 1 year-old (half?) brother.  I’m still trying to figure out how the names work there.  Her legal name is Micheline, but somehow that has morphed into Marina.

We are not sure which of their names we’ll keep, or what we will name them.  The naming efforts, after a hiatus, have resumed.  And we are making about as much headway as Republicans and Democrats these days.

Amie has mentioned the possibility of having a fund raiser to choose who goes to the DRC to pick up our new children.  Something like each vote is $5.  Perhaps it would provide 10% of the airfare necessary to travel there and back.  Then again…

Jadon is quite excited to have another brother and another sister.  She really wants a sister, somehow thinking that a sister will be more compliant than a brother to her wishes.  She’s old enough for the 2 of them to share a room.

Marina’s had a hard life, I’m sure.  So pray for her and her adjustment.  They have lived with their mother and grandmother.  It sounds like there has been no stability as far as men have been concerned.  But things reached the point that she is unable to care for her children properly. We are excited about what God can begin to do in them through His people.

The process isn’t done.  Now we wait again.  As noted above, one of us will travel around the new year to take care of the legal stuff on that end and bring the children home.  Like any pregnant couple, we have time to prepare rooms, have the bunk beds we bought off Craig’s List refinished etc.

On the other end, they should have enough food, love and care.  She will receive some lessons in elementary English to help ease her transition.  We’ll send a picture so she can learn who we are.  Pray for the stability of the region so everything happens in a timely fashion- no small order these days.

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I’m wrestling with all of this more than Amie is.  As husband and father who is the provider, I think of the money.  Both the additional money to adopt 2 kids instead of one, and the additional money to raise those kids.  Many people face this when they get the news twins are on the way.  The difference being I can decide if I want to add 1 or 2 right now.

Sometimes God doesn’t play fair.  Or at least it seems that way.  He’s got incredible moves none of us can counter.  “Reading” providence is a risky proposition.  I hesitate when someone says “God told me to…”.  I’m a Presbyterian, though I’ve had some very unpresbyterian moments.  But those are extraordinary, not to be expected.  God doesn’t provide big neon signs.  Unlike in the In Plain Sight episode we watched last night, we have no “spirit guide dog.”


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We are reveling in the cooler temps of the Adirondack Mountains.  It is more humid than life in the desert, and there is no A/C up here, but we are soaking up the joy.

The adoption agency is giving referrals as the documents are translated.  We are currently 3rd in line, keeping in mind the preferences laid out in the homestudy and given to the U.S. Government.  Though, we all the fighting going on in the nation’s capitol, we might be able to sneak in 6 kids.  Not that we could afford to do that.  I wonder how we’ll afford the child or 2 we expect to adopt.  Our tax refund is caught up in tons of red tape.  So we’ll have to look into adoption loans.  Not the end of the universe.

One thing that has happened is that we found a sale on Southwestern air fare for a trip around Christmas.  I’m thinking this greatly increases the odds that one of us travels to the DRC right around Christmas.

This morning I was poking around the website for our denomination’s magazine.  I’m not sure if I’ve read this article before, but living in central Florida I had heard of the culture of adoption developed by Ray Cortese and Seven Rivers Presbyterian Church in Lecanto.  Here is the story if you are interested.

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