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1,000 Ways to Lose a Father

June 23, 2017 0 Comments

In the days after Father’s Day, I’ve been thinking… there are a thousand ways to lose a father. My youngest girl will probably never know the man who gave her the curve of her smile; the crinkle in her nose; her ability to cross her eyes to seemingly impossible degrees when she’s being silly. Truthfully, she’ll never even know what it is of her that comes from him, unique lineage carved into her DNA and shaping her in ways visible yet unknown.



I don’t pretend to know how this void will shape her life as she grows, but I know it will be with her always… a question mark punctuating many of the things she thinks of herself, this life, and her place in it.

You can lose a dad you never knew and ache always, and it’s a terrible way to lose a father.

///

One of my closest friends lost her daddy to vicious cancer. I never knew him, but I feel like I do because I see his mark on my friend’s life… in her ability to drive a trailer, change the oil, and let her yes always be yes and her no always be no. And I like him very much.

She’s not the only one, of course, who has had to stand beside an open hole in the ground and struggle to find steady footing beneath her. I’m in the season of life where there are fewer engagement parties and wedding showers and a few more quiet conversations that start with, “Did you hear about Sarah’s dad?” and end with sadly shaking heads. And casseroles. There are always casseroles. Comfort cloaked in cream-of-something soup.

There is a goodbye that is the last goodbye, and it’s a terrible way to lose a father.

///

It’s been two years since I saw my father or had any contact with him. I’m not angry and I don’t hate him, but he’s not safe. A simple reality that is impossibly difficult to make peace with. It’s an equation I’ve worked and reworked a million times in my head, looking for a different way… a Norman Rockwell way. But at the end of the day, the truth is the truth and I can’t make it what it isn’t. I believe he’s always done the best he can, and I don’t fault him for all the ways his mind twists and turns and creates a version of this world that few understand… But this world of his? It isn’t one I can live in; it isn’t one my girls can enter.

I don’t even fault him for coping with bottles. Life can be so very hard, and we all get by as best as we can. But my children and I can’t be around the aftermath of that. I didn’t know I was strong enough to live in the tension of standing firm while also still longing, loving, and stubbornly clinging to this hope that takes me to my knees praying for healing and a different end to this story. If he were a healthier version of himself, I think my dad would probably be proud of me.

Sometimes you let go of someone who isn’t really gone, and it’s a terrible way to lose a father.

///

There are a thousand ways to lose a father. Preoccupation. Divorce. Addiction. Career. Neglect. Abuse. Distraction. Abandonment. Despair. Death. I only deeply know the way I lost my own. And over the last few years, I have felt every possible emotion when it comes to loosing dads. Sadness seeping to rage because my relationship with my father isn’t what I want it to be. Envy when I see people who have the kind of relationship with their dad that I wish I could have. Misplaced anger that there were no casseroles in the aftermath of our excruciating goodbyes; that no one really says “I’m sorry for your loss,” because this isn’t the kind of loss anyone knows what to do with… In truth, it’s the kind of loss that raises some eyebrows and questions about what kind of daughter I am.

I’ve felt all the feelings, and I still do. Not a single day goes by that I don’t think of him. But I’m starting to realize I’m not alone. My journey is unique – sure – and the shape of my pain looks different than yours, maybe. But the ache is the same.

There are a thousand ways to lose a father, and they are all terrible. Those of us who have lost our fathers are all walking wounded.

///

But as true as that is, there’s something else that’s true too. I’ve been held by a Father who speaks peace over me. I’ve been cradled, nurtured and restored. I’ve heard Him speak acceptance to the places where I’ve known only shame; I’ve felt fingertips of healing touch the most deeply-tucked-away wounded places in me. This isn’t some crappy-rainbow-religious veneer I’m slapping over my pain. It’s not a technicolor, saccharine, fraudulent churchy mask I put on to say, “Everything is fine now.”

No, like Jacob in the Bible I walk with a limp after encountering God. My wrestling with God looked like fierce tears, flailing fists, and angry thrashing – and those days are not over. Though fewer now than before, I still have days when my prayers sound more like a litany of lashing-out than a composed acceptance of the way things are. But in those darkest of moments, I’ve learned there’s space in the Father’s arms for all of this. For all the good and bad, loss and gratitude, anger and hope.

Both things are true. It is never either/or; it is always both/and.

So if you are grieving for the father you never knew, the one you wish you didn’t, or the one who said goodbye too soon – (or probably more truthfully, a mix of all three) – I pray you know the tight grasp of God. (And if you are parenting a child thrashing in anger as they grapple with the magnitude of their own loss, I pray you can dig into the deepest parts of yourself — down where you don’t think you have anything left to give — and find the grace that comes from above to be for your child a tangible expression of God’s tight grasp on them.)

I know one thing to be more true than anything else; we are closely held by a God who relentlessly pursues each of us with ferocious love. He will not be stopped; He will never let go of us. And one might expect that to be so tightly held would feel constraining; leaving us like caged wild animals fighting to be free. But astonishingly, I’ve found the exact opposite to be true. I’ve thrashed and flailed against the broken shards of my family — and those shards most certainly have cut deep, leaving me with scars that will never go away. And I’ve held my own trial for God, accusing and building a case for why He didn’t deserve my love. But through it all, He has never, ever let me go.

He has bandaged my wounds and held me steady in the midst of my angry, heaving sobs. He has absorbed my anger and returned only mercy. He has transformed my orphan spirit into the heart of a beloved daughter. He redefined the word Father for me, and He is willing to wait as long as I need in order for the truth of His love to seep deep into my bones. There is expansive freedom in the tight grip of God’s love. He is a Father who both holds us close and wishes to see us freely soar. Both/And.

My prayer for all of us who are walking wounded with father-shaped voids in our lives is that we would turn to the only Father who really can be the Daddy we always wished we had. His arms have always been open.

There are both a thousand terrible ways to lose a father, and there’s a Father we can never lose.

Both/And.

May you know Him and love Him and feel His delight.


Find My Family: Dalton

June 22, 2017 0 Comments

Just turned 7-year-old Dalton is one of those kids that just breaks you. His file was prepared six years ago, when he was a baby, and he is not only still waiting, but is a healthy little boy who is doing so well!



It is likely no one took a chance or that leap of faith when he was young because he had a CT scan at 9 months of age that said there were signs of facial angiomatosis. In another place in his file it said underdevelopment of the brain. Well, this little guy is living proof that the brain is amazing – other than walking with a very minor limp, Dalton is a healthy, handsome, and capable little boy who really wants to be adopted.

His mental development is normal and he has good gross and fine motor skills, as well as language skills. Dalton has a good personality. He is an active, happy, and well-behaved boy who likes to talk and laugh. He is very independent when it comes to self-care, yet he knows how to care for others too, and he is quite helpful.



Dalton is newly listed with Madison Adoption Associates and MAA has received a full update with new pictures and videos. Be sure to watch his videos and read through the questions. There’s no need for a leap of faith- Dalton is doing great and is ready to be adopted!

There must be a reason he’s waited all this time. Could that reason be you?

Dalton’s videos can be found here, here and here. Password for all is Adoptmaa. Older videos from late 2016 can be found here, here and here.



Written update from May 2017:

1. How is his mental ability compared to peers the same age?
Basically normal.

2. How does the special need affect his health?
As you can see in the video, his coordination has been affected a little bit. But it does not affect his life at all.

3. Is he potty trained?
Totally yes.

4. Please describe his personality in details?
He is happy and active.

5. Is he well behaved and obedient?
He is well behaved and obedient.

6. How are his gross motor skills? Can he walk, run, jump, walk upstairs and downstairs by himself? Can he kick a ball? Can he pick up a ball? Any limited functions?
He has no limitations. He walks and jumps and he can run fast.

7. How are his fine motor skills? Can he draw or scribble on paper? Can he pick up little things with his fingers?
He can pick up tiny things. No limitations.

8. Is he in any kind of school? If so, what school? Can he catch up in school?
HTS education class. He can catch up.

9. How is his emotional development? Is the child attached to anyone? Who is he close to? Does he care for other people?
It is very good, he is attached to good friends in the same class and his caretakers. He knows very well how to care for other people.

10. How are his social skills? Does he get along well with other children and adults?
Very good. He gets along very well with others.

11. Is he under foster care or living in the orphanage?
Orphanage.

12. What are his updated measurements?
Height 114cm, weight 18kg, head 47.5cm, chest 53.4cm, foot 19cm, 24 teeth

13. How is the language ability of the child? What can he say? Can he speak one word, two words, or sentences? Can he express his needs well? Is his language ability the same as peers the same age?
It is very good. He can communicate with people in a normal way.

14. Can the child follow directions of adults? One step, two steps, or three steps?
Yes.

15. What is the daily schedule of the child?
He gets up at 6:30, breakfast at 7:00, 8:30 class, lunch at 12:00, then take nap til 14:00, 3:00-5:30 class, then play goes to bed at 8:30.

16. What does the child eat? Can he feed himself? Does the child eat with chopsticks, spoon, or bottle?
He feeds himself with sa poon and drinks with a cup.

17. Does the child know any English?
No.

18. Does the child want to be adopted? Does the child understand what adoption means?
He wants to be adopted.

19. What color does the child like?
Orange.

20. What activity does the child like to do?
Slide and other outdoor activities.

21. What is the favorite toy of the child?
Cartoons like the Gourd Brothers and Monkey King.


There is a $2,000 agency grant for Dalton’s adoption with Madison Adoption Associates. Other grants may be available based on the adoptive family’s circumstances. Agency grants are awarded as agency fee reductions. MAA also partners with the Brittany’s Hope Foundation for matching grants, which are given out twice a year (January and July) and to families that are officially matched with a child.



If you are interested in reviewing Dalton’s file or in adopting Dalton, please fill out a free PAP Waiting Child Review Form, which can be found here: MAA Prospective Adoptive Parents – Waiting Child Review Form.

An Orphan’s Courtroom

June 21, 2017 2 Comments

In honor of Father’s Day, the month of June is dedicated to Dads. During our Thoughts from the Dad series, we’ll feature stories written by fathers sharing their unique perspective on the journey of adoption.



………

It was the spring of 2013. Our three older kids were out of the house and on their own, and our three younger kids (8, 6 and 4) were settling into daily routines to the point where we finally felt our home was running smoothly.

My business was continuing to prosper. Our two cars were paid for and had relatively low mileage, the savings account balance was returning back to a pre-adoption level, most of the exterior of the house had a fresh coat of paint, and we even hired a landscaping company to stay on top of our lawn. Things were becoming comfortable.

Life was good.

Despite all of this, there was a distinct lack of peace growing in my soul. I couldn’t escape it, especially when I was in God’s Word.

I knew that our low-risk, comfortable lifestyle was not lining up with what I was reading in Scripture.

I decided to go out one morning and have a quiet time in my car, which was not that unusual for me to do. But what took place during that car ride has forever changed our lives – and the life of a little boy halfway across the world.

I can’t remember for sure what I was reading at the time, but I suddenly felt the Spirit’s presence surround me as I sat there in my car. And as clear as anything I’ve ever experienced in my 20 years as a Christian, I had a vision…

I suddenly found myself in a courtroom setting. I was the defendant and I was sitting at a table next to a smartly dressed, neatly groomed, extremely eloquent attorney. The attorney was doing his best to convince the judge why our family was done adopting children.

“Your honor, my client has already done his part. He and his loving wife have already adopted two children. They’ve gone above and beyond. It’s about time their lives become a bit more comfortable….”

As my attorney went on to plead my case, I looked over my shoulder to the back of the courtroom. The entire side of the courtroom behind me was packed with all of our friends and family. Every time my attorney mentioned a reason why our family should not adopt again, I looked over my shoulder to see everyone nodding their heads in agreement.

My attorney proceeded down his long list of arguments: “Your honor, my client needs to be putting more money away for retirement.”

Everyone on my side of the courtroom nodded in agreement.

“…and how are they going to pay for more college expenses if they adopt again?”

Again, everyone nodded.

“And the bedrooms in their home are the perfect size for the kids they already have…“
“And the kitchen table can’t fit another person very comfortably…“
“And the family van won’t be big enough with another child in it…”

Everyone continued to nod in agreement.

My attorney confidently sat down after he had gone through the long list of reasons why our family should not adopt another child. I was very pleased with how he represented all of my interests. I was confident the judge would rule in my favor.

Then the judge turned to the other side of the courtroom. There was a young child standing there all alone. He had no attorney, no advocate, nobody to speak in his defense. I couldn’t help but notice that the entire side of the courtroom behind him was empty. No parents. No siblings. No friends. Nobody. He was all by himself.

The judge spoke:

“Little boy, why are you in my courtroom today? What is the case you wish to plead?”

The little boy never lifted his head. Looking down at the ground, he quietly uttered the following words:

“All I want is a family.”

The vision suddenly ended. I was broken.

Less than a year later, our family returned home from China with a wonderful little boy named Tommy – our third adopted child. And, as this post is published, our family will be in China once again to bring home a precious little girl. Esther-Joy will be our fourth adopted child.



The Lord could not have made it any clearer….

A life of ease and comfort is never welcomed in an orphan’s courtroom.

– guest post by Jim: email || Instagram

Nothing to Fear: Seeing Beyond the Check Box

June 20, 2017 1 Comments

She loves bubbles and baby dolls. Her favorite color is yellow. She is a quick learner and a compassionate friend. She has the most joyful laugh, and an infectious smile. And we wouldn’t have known any of these aspects of our daughter had we been scared off by one single word… Arthrogryposis. Her story began …Read More

Meet the Contributors: Andrea

June 19, 2017 0 Comments

Continuing today with our series in which we share a short Q and A with one of our contributors to give y’all, our faithful readers, a little more behind-the-scenes insight into the amazing group of writers assembled here. And it will also give each of our contributors a chance to share their heart in a …Read More

Jeremiah Waits for a Family

June 18, 2017 0 Comments

Get ready to be mesmerized by Jeremiah’s adorable chunky little cheeks! Jeremiah is a Special Focus child listed on Agape Adoptions’ individual list. Jeremiah is 1.5 years old and lives with a foster family. He is a cheerful, active, and restless little boy who loves to smile and laugh. Jeremiah is curious about toys that …Read More

More Than Meets the Eye

June 18, 2017 1 Comments

In honor of Father’s Day, the month of June is dedicated to Dads. During our Thoughts from the Dad series, we’ll feature stories written by fathers sharing their unique perspective on the journey of adoption. ……… “God is spirit and exists at the level of reality where the human heart, or spirit, also exists, serving …Read More

A Plan and a Purpose

June 17, 2017 0 Comments

The first time I saw him, he was ten months old, and we had gone to volunteer in the sweltering month of August. He was wearing not only a million-dollar smile, but double leg casts that stretched from his little hips to his tiny toes from a recent surgery. He was sweet, laid back, adorable. …Read More

Thoughts from The Dad: Worth It

June 16, 2017 0 Comments

Welcome June! And, in honor of Father’s Day later this month, June is all about Dads. During our Thoughts from the Dad series, we’ll feature stories written by fathers sharing their unique perspective on the journey of adoption. ……… What is my perspective, as a dad, on adoption? Since perspective is defined as an attitude …Read More

Daisy Waits

June 16, 2017 0 Comments

Daisy is 6 years old and waits for a family of her very own. She is listed with Small World Adoptions. This little cutie looks to have such a sweet disposition. She is said the get along well with others. Her video shows her intently and gently dressing her baby doll. She is “quick minded” …Read More

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