Whatever Wednesday

Each Wednesday we post links from the previous week that touch on special needs adoption. Our hope is that these small snapshots provide you with a glimpse of life after adopting through China’s waiting child program… both the long-term blessings and the challenges that come with parenting a child with special needs. We also hope to raise awareness about a variety of special needs.

Looking Fear in the Eyesadoptive momma (China) Cheri at Love & Laughter Enrich the Soul… on the fear her daughter feels during medical and dental visits

Our LITTLE Lizzie and It was a Long Day!adoptive momma (China) Annie at Cornbread & Chopsticks… a day of STEM testing to determine whether her daughter’s body is making enough growth hormone

Changes in Attitude adoptive momma (foster) Hartley at Hartley’s Life With 3 Boys… unsolicited advice for moms parenting little ones with special needs – because she cares

A Day on the Long and Winding Roadadoptive momma (China) Robin at Dreaming of Tea for Three… a snapshot of her daughter’s days in therapy to improve the use of her hand

Last Castsa volunteer at An Orphan’s Wish… a child with club foot receives her last casts

Two days, two specialistsadoptive momma (China) Kristi at Fireworks & Fireflies… a visit to the dermatologist and a second visit to the ophthalmologist

Punched in the Gut adoptive momma (China) Amy at Finally a Family of Five… hearing the word syndrome… again

Speech Updateadoptive momma (China) Kathy at Changed By Love… an update on her daughter’s speech progress since receiving her hearing aids several months ago

stepping out

Our newest guest contributor is Katherine, who is currently living and teaching in China. She also has the unique opportunity to spend time volunteering at a local orphanage. Katherine blogs over at Life of a Pilgrim and although she is not an adoptive mother, she has a unique perspective and invaluable insights into life in China.

The recent post by The Wife of the Pres was right along the lines of thoughts that have been brewing in my heart, and since she had the courage to come out and say it, I wanted to add just a bit more reflection from the China side of things.

When I first came to China (five years ago), the wait for a referral was still quite reasonable. However, things quickly changed. As I loved on kids at the orphanage each week, and prayed for families for each of them, anger was my first response to the slowdown. I firmly believe that there is one greater than and in control of governments and policies, and I pleaded before Him as the ultimate defender of the orphan.

But then a few things changed my heart. And instead of complaining to Him about the situation, I started praising him for the situation. You see, I looked around my orphanage and the majority of the kids I saw were kids with special needs. Almost all of the older kids had a special need. A majority of the kids—old and young—were boys. And suddenly I saw the Great Shepherd nudging His sheep in a direction they had not originally planned to go.

I started to notice two trends. One, more Chinese families adopted healthy babies. In China, this is a big step outside the norm and expected behavior. Chinese families were venturing outside their comfort zone. Special needs kids are less likely to be adopted domestically, likely because there are not the resources and education available here that are available in the States. In most families, both parents need to work in order to provide for the family. The school system is rigorous and those with special needs that impact education often get left behind.

The second trend was more and more American families moving over to the special needs program. Kids—including boys—that in the past may have remained in the orphanage year after year were now being adopted as toddlers.

I don’t think families that are switching over “made a mistake” or “misheard the call” or are “settling” for a child with special needs. Instead, I see a loving Father who knows how big of a step of faith each of us can handle at one time. I moved to China with the intention of staying one year. If the Father had told me, you’re heading over there for six years (or from today’s perspective likely longer), I may have never boarded the plane the first time. It was a big step of faith to come for one year, just like it’s a big step of faith to consider adopting a healthy child internationally. But the fact is, the Father asks us to keep on stepping. The steps that follow the first often are not nearly as difficult, but they sometimes take us further and further away from the road we thought we were going to take.

By increasing the wait time for healthy children, I see the Father nudging people to take steps they perhaps never intended to take, and through that He is pouring out his love on “the least of these.” My encouragement to you today is simply to ask, am I supposed to take one step further? For those of you who expected to adopt a healthy child, are there some special needs you can trust the Father to equip you to handle? Those who are already in the special needs program, is the Father asking you to be open to an even greater range of special needs? To bringing a child into your home that may never be able to leave your home?

As I’ve taken steps of faith, unsure of where they were leading me and the provision that would sustain me, Isaiah 50:10 has been a great comfort to me.

Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.

Here, the Father does not promise to reveal exactly what’s ahead. He doesn’t flip on the light to show you how it’s all going to work out. Instead, He invites us to step onto a dark road, trusting and relying on the all-sufficient One.

ASIA ~ Hope Journey Program

Over 30 children listed with ASIA’s Hope Journey program.

Check out the Children Who Wait page for more info.

HOLD ON TIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!

That is what I feel like I’ve been doing since my last post on NHBO….holding on TIGHT! In April, when it was time for me to post, we were in the hospital. In May, when it was time for me to post, we had just come home from the hospital the day before my scheduled post day. Thankfully, Stefanie is very forgiving! :) Of COURSE she is!

Holding on tight… Our whole family has been doing this very thing the last three months. We hold on to God. We hold on to each other. We hold on to hope.

We came home from China with Kevin on March 4th. We knew we would be facing many unknowns, and many doctor appointments with his complex heart condition of situs inversus, single ventricle, large VSD, and pulmonary hypertension. After his heart cath proved that indeed the way God allowed his heart to be formed is quite complicated and extensive, our team of doctors buckled up for many hard conversations and decisions to make about what the best plan would be for Kevin. We buckled up, too.

On April 6, the surgeon implanted a BT shunt, connecting Kevin’s aorta to his pulmonary artery. All of Kevin’s almost three years of life, he had too much blood flow going through his lungs, causing thickening and hardening of his veins. This shunt would hopefully redirect and reduce the blood flow just enough, but not too much, because we want it to reduce his lung pressures and resistance in his veins. This shunt would also hopefully get his lungs in good shape for his first surgery to repair his heart: the Glenn procedure.

(sidenote: I am by no means an expert on the heart, so I hope and pray I am not butchering the use of these terms!)

While Kevin was still in the ICU, recuperating from his shunt operation, he got a DVT (blood clot) in his left leg. It began to swell, turn purple, and cause him a lot of pain. He immediately began taking blood thinners which improved his condition greatly.

It took Kevin a few days to trust us again in the hospital. I longed to hear him say “mama” again and look us in the eyes. Eventually, he bonded right back to mama.

Kevin was able to come home after only 8 days in the hospital. Other than the Lovenox blood thinning shots that we had to give him in his belly, and the boo-koodles of oral meds he had to take, he recovered from his surgery well. I admit the shots were awful…twice a day, very painful, and having to put our new son (who we were still trying to gain his trust) through this was heart breaking. But, all that aside, he began to play, walk, and laugh again! Amazing!

Two weeks after we came home he had a routine check up at the cardiologist. Surprisingly there was a pericardial effusion around his heart (fluid build-up). He was sent home on high aspirin doses to reduce the fluid. (Also, he was taken off the Lovenox shots!) Two days later we were back at the hospital having an emergency fluid drainage procedure. That was the beginning of an 11 day stay this time.

The fluid came back quickly and Kevin had to have it drained AGAIN during our hospital stay. He contracted a staph infection and had to be given IV antibiotics. Kevin isn’t famous for good veins, and eventually his veins that his IV’s were in all blew, so they had to finish his round of antibiotics by doing shots of Rocephin in his legs.

Finally they sent us home on Bactrim. Kevin regressed severely after this recent trauma in the hospital. He still felt horrible from the fluid. He shut down. He wouldn’t walk. He wouldn’t play. He was swollen. For WEEKS. All he wanted to do was sit on the couch and watch TV. He refused to talk to us or his siblings. All he wanted was Mama. Bless his baby heart. It was pitiful.

We called or went back to the doctor at least twice a week because Mama was scared about that fluid coming back. Mama had been present during the emergency drain, and Mama didn’t want her Kevin to come that close to the edge of the cliff again. We had lots of echocardiograms done of Kevin’s heart in the weeks following the hospital stay.

Three weeks after he had been on Bactrim, he developed a fever and a horrible rash. Back to the E.R. and it turns out he is allergic to sulfa antibiotics. (We were afraid it was Stevens Johnson syndrome, but thankfully it did not progress to that.) The fever persisted for 8 days, and so he was put back in the hospital again to check for infection somewhere else in his system. Praise God this hospital stay was only three days. We are still waiting on results from the blood cultures.

After coming home from the hospital THIS time, Kevin has been a different child! He has played, walked (albeit wobbly!), talked, laughed…oh how wonderful to see him come back to us again.

Kevin will have another heart cath soon to see if his lung pressures and resistance have decreased, and from that we will determine when the best time for his Glenn surgery will be. No, we don’t look forward to another surgery or hospital stay. Yes, we want what’s best for Kevin! Yes, we struggle with what exactly that is!

So….all this is not to scare you. Though I probably have, and I’m sorry. I mean, it IS scary after all. If you look at all the scary parts.

God just reminds me to look to HIM….not the scary parts. He is in control of the scary parts, by the way. He is in control of the good parts too. What else can we do, but HOLD ON TIGHT? I wouldn’t have it any other way. I can honestly say, I would much rather go through hard times, than not have Kevin. I look back at how God brought him into our family, and I cannot deny that he is where God wants him right now. With us.

Us.

Seven brothers and sisters who ADORE him, unconditionally.

A daddy who waits patiently on him to bond.

And a mama who is seeing first-hand a broken heart be mended by God…in more ways than one.

Here is the bottom line:

Three months + newly adopted two year old + in and out of the hospital =

HOLDING ON TIGHT!!!!!!!!!!

I’ll Say It

This post is one that has been brewing, stewing, soaking … whatever you want to call it … in my head for a LONG time.

I just read the latest update on our agency’s blog. Here is an excerpt:

The current wait time from LID to referral is 50-51 months with a trend of increasing approximately a full month each month. Families should read the China Program Newsletter emailed on 3/19/2010 to understand the variety of factors contributing to the wait time and the reasons why it is impossible to predict the referral wait time for each family. Families should continue to anticipate a long wait for a referral.

50 to 51 months. In reality, that is 4 years and 3 months.

4 years and 3 months.

Let that one soak in.

And then this excerpt:

The Waiting Children program is also an excellent option for families who are interested in a boy, an older child, or a child with various types of medical or repaired conditions.

And there are over 1,000 children WAITING.

Does anyone else besides me wonder why there are THOUSANDS of people waiting YEARS for a child they want so badly when there are children WAITING? There are more than 1,000 children waiting on a list who are paper-ready and there are an estimated 30,000 families waiting. What are these families waiting for? Or rather I should say whom?

I know many will say it isn’t really that simple. But isn’t it?

I can tell you that the VAST majority are waiting for an infant girl, who is deemed healthy, and is under two years old. Is that in and of itself wrong. Of course not.

And yet, is it possible that at least a small percentage of those waiting, particularly those who say they were called to adopt by God … isn’t it possible that some of those 30,000 families might actually already have a child waiting … if they would just allow God more room to work?

Is it possible that a couple with no children could be equally blessed to have a SON as much as a daughter?

Yes, I just said that.

The TRUTH sometimes hurts. And the truth is that little boys under two who are listed with the need of cleft lip and palate, just as an example, are waiting on the list sometimes for MONTHS. A little girl, under two with cleft lip and palate … they are FOUGHT OVER by families. And I do mean fought over. Visit forums and boards when a new shared list is released by China once a month if you doubt that. You’ll see words like “disappointing”, “lacking”, “small” and others I won’t even type. What people are really trying to convey is there is a lack of young girls available with minor needs.

It really reminds me of supply and demand, and quite frankly it turns my stomach.

Before anyone asks, I will tell you straight up that back in September 2007, the Prez and I filled out a checklist. We marked 12 special needs, two of which were repaired heart disease and unrepaired cleft lip and palate. We later changed heart disease to unrepaired as well.

And we marked another box: GIRL.

But we didn’t know … about the boys. And we wanted a girl. And we didn’t know about the boys.

Once you know …

I will share that our little girl was NOT fought over. I know that. She waited for weeks on the shared list before we received THE CALL about her. If we ever adopt another little girl or a big girl from China, she WILL BE WAITING. We will never join the “feeding frenzy” (not my words but one you’ll see every month if you visit the forums).

No thanks.

But back to the waiting children and our agency … all of the families undergo a stringent process …one aspect of which includes a statement of faith in Christ and a letter recommendation from one’s senior pastor. And I am left to wonder: is God REALLY calling such a disproportionate number of families to ONLY be open to a little girl under the age of two?

Or are His people just not listening? Or willing? Or insert any number of words in that blank.

Sometimes the truth (at least as I see it) really, really, really hurts.

If this posts makes you angry and you are a believer and you are waiting YEARS for the *perfect* child for family, PRAY and ask God to reveal to you HIS WILL. Does it mean that you heard wrong years ago when you marked “girl under two” on your application if you now open your home and heart to a little boy?

I don’t think so.

Maybe God needed that time to shape you in some particular way. Maybe YOUR child was not ready to be adopted yet. I don’t have those kinds of answers, but I’ll never believe that there are so many BOYS waiting and so many families waiting for years and that this is God’s will.

I just can’t believe that.

I could be wrong though. I have been before.

This Thursday, The Prez and I will depart early in the morning for the first of three flights that will take us all the way to China to bring home our TWO SONS. They are 10 years old and 5 years old. They both waited a LONG time on agency lists. As far as I’m concerned, they were waiting for us and us them. And yet I know there are countless other boys just waiting on the shared listing. Your agency could give you the files of countless little and big boys who are just waiting.

Our oldest waiting son has heart disease; it was unrepaired when we sent our letter of intent to China and we found out he had heart surgery in December. Our younger waiting son has heart disease and cleft lip and palate. He has had surgery on his heart and cleft lip.

Our boys fit the description of “harder to place.” I’m not sure how I feel about that, but it is the truth. And sometimes, the truth really, really, really hurts.

Maybe your son is just waiting … for you. And you … for him.

US 35 North ~ revisited

I bet that I’ve ridden the stretch of US 35 North between Charleston, WV and Dayton, OH at least 100 times in my life.  It’s familiar.  I know where to expect the power plants, glimpses of the river, the convenience stores, and the grand farm houses as we make our way “home” to western Ohio.

But a few weeks ago, on an impromptu “family visitin’ road trip,” that stretch of highway provided something new.  A millisecond of panic.

It wasn’t a panic that I had forgotten the $250 glaucoma eye drops for our youngest, the sudden realization that I wasn’t entirely sure our dog sitter and I had communicated the correct dates, or even from the four deer that apparently wanted to be hood ornaments on our Sienna (though we did gasp).  Instead, that panic was brought about as we cruised through one spot that I distinctly remember almost exactly 13 months before. 

As I recognized that long, straight stretch between the river and one of the huge, white farm houses, a flood of memories washed over me.  On April 8, 2009, we had new information, the picture, my sudden doubt, Ian’s confidence, and (what seemed to be at the time) a looming decision.

Just that day we finally got a phone call from my contact at Lifeline that they had indeed been able to get updated information and new pictures of “Payton.”  We were walking around on my grandfather’s farm (with no access to the Internet) ~ our last stop before heading back to NC ~ when the call came in.  We drove all the way to Chillicothe, nearly three hours away,
before we found a coffee shop with free WiFi so that we could check my email to read about and see the child that would potentially become our youngest.

The information sounded good, and her picture was precious.

But before we had gotten to this stage, I had done my homework and read about Sturge Weber Syndrome, the syndrome referred to in her dossier.  (Perhaps I had read too much).  I’ll be honest and admit that much of what I read scared me.  In that picture ~ that was supposed to show us if the port wine stain was on her eyelid, therefore giving us a better guess if she indeed had SWS ~ her eyes were “blank.”  And that scared me.  A LOT. 

We didn’t talk much after we left the coffee shop.  I think then I used the excuse that I wanted to wait until our kids were asleep before we started discussing our thoughts on the child I had been praying over for 26 days at that point.  However, the real reason was that all of the sudden I was scared.  I became frightened of how this child may impact our lives.  I worried.  And I was really close to simply deciding that our family was complete.

Thankfully, God had other plans in mind.  Because while Ian had been slower to warm up to the thought of adding a third child so quickly (we hadn’t been home five months with our son yet when I stumbled upon “Payton.”), once he gets moving, he’s like a locomotive that can’t be stopped.  And when I began backpedaling, he reminded me of all the things that had drawn me to “Payton” in the first place.

His confidence was disarming.  I began to relax again.  Until I remembered the picture.  I used the it as my last reason to potentially walk away ~ after all, who would have known beyond the two of us and our agency contact that we had even considered another child.  From what I had read about SWS before, the blank stare in that picture was reason for concern.  But my husband wouldn’t be deterred.  He simply said, “Her eyes are probably empty because she is missing the love of a mother.  It likely doesn’t have a thing to do with her brain function.”

Then he proceeded to remind me of all the things others would call coincidences that had happened that allowed me to find “Payton” in the first place.  But what perhaps sealed the deal was his echo of what our pediatrician had said to us when we had him review her file the week before.  “I can’t promise you that she doesn’t have Sturge Weber Syndrome.  What I can promise you is that if God has led you to this child, that He will equip you with what you need to parent her in any circumstances.” 

And then my husband glanced at me and said, “Remember, we aren’t talking about adopting Sturge Weber Syndrome.  We are talking about adopting this child.  In your heart, do you believe that God had you find her?” 

Within days we were waiting for a waiver from our agency to begin an adoption process before we had reached the “six months home mark” with our son.  Following a frantic paper chase, we were back home with our sweet girl less than eleven months after that conversation in the car.

So almost 13 months later, I had a millisecond of panic as we cruised that stretch of US 35.  As that scenery reminded me of how I almost backed out, I actually had to turn around in my seat and confirm that she was indeed there, sleeping peacefully in her car seat, as part of our family.  It was as though I had to see with my own eyes that my fear of a syndrome hadn’t stood in the way of having the joy of our third child.

Whatever Wednesday

Each Wednesday we post links from the previous week that touch on special needs adoption. Our hope is that these small snapshots provide you with a glimpse of life after adopting through China’s waiting child program… both the long-term blessings and the challenges that come with parenting a child with special needs. We also hope to raise awareness about a variety of special needs.

Touring the ER
adoptive momma (China) Heather at Noodles, Tea and a Didi, Please… just a “regular” trip to the ER

The IEP Meeting
adoptive momma (China) AmFam at American Family… yet another frustrating meeting with the schools about an individualized education plan; this one specific to sensory issues

Different is not the same as weirdadoptive momma (domestic and foster care) Julie Martindale at Not Just an Ordinary Life… a sibling teaches his peers about differences

The circles of parent hellmomma to a child with special needs Ellen at Love That Max!… reflections on parenting after another blogger’s son passed away last week

Nothing Stops Samuelfoster parent living in China Carrie at the New Day Foster Home Blog… progress after just a few months of physical therapy

Corrie’s Miracleco-founder Lyndsey at The Morningstar Project Blog… a miracle for a little one whom everyone believed had Turners Syndrome

rumors in the SN program

We’ve recently heard some unconfirmed rumors about the possibility of increased flexibility in the SN program by the CCAA. Specifically, in regards to marital status and financial status for people interested in adopting older children or children with multiple special needs.

This could potentially be wonderful news for many prospective families.

We’d love to hear from anyone who has any information regarding this, please leave a comment or email at nohandsbutours@gmail.

We’ll keep you posted.

Perfect Timing

When my husband and I were engaged  (and ridiculously young), we talked about our plans for the future and for the family we someday hoped to raise. We mentioned adoption and sure, we agreed,  adoption was great, but to be honest, we viewed it as Option B.  You know, just in case Option A didn’t work out.  And please, we were still in college, for goodness sake.  Option A was several years off anyway.

On our first wedding anniversary, we walked down to the little university hang-out, “The Brick Oven”.  Oh, how I loved The Brick Oven.  On our student budget, though, I usually just enjoyed The Brick Oven through the heavenly aromas that wafted down the street as I walked past after classes.   But on our first anniversary, we splurged.  The funny thing was, that night nothing tasted right.  “Is it just me?” I asked my husband, “Or does your food taste off?”  “It’s just you,” he said, obviously enjoying his lasagna.  It was my first inkling that maybe something else was cooking in the oven.  And it wasn’t just pizza.  Option A was full-steam ahead, and he’d make his arrival just after graduation.

Then Option A, numero dos, came into our lives during my husband’s junior year of dental school.  By Option A, numero tres, my husband was mercifully (and finally) gainfully employed.  His practice was thriving.  We’d moved into what we considered our forever house.  And I felt done.  Complete.

When our youngest was three years-old, I had an impression that someone else needed to come to our family.   Oddly enough though, each time I prayed for confirmation that we should conceive another child, I felt that no, that wasn’t the plan.  I was baffled.  I’d had easy pregnancies, relatively easy deliveries, and frankly, we made some darn cute kids.  But the feeling was undeniable.  Another was to come, but not in the same way as our first three.  I shared this with my husband, stumbling over my words as I tried to vocalize the feelings that wouldn’t let go of my heart.  He listened quietly and then said, “I’ve felt the exact same way.”

At this point, I wish I could say we acted on these feelings immediately.  We didn’t.  This sudden change of plans scared us.  It scared us a lot.  So we circled a date on the calendar, a month later, and agreed that we’d both pray and research and talk again.  A month later, we were even more convinced that adoption was now our Option A and furthermore, that this child would come from China.  Now, this would be another great time for me to say that we got right to work and started filling out papers.  We didn’t.  We set a date again.  For a year this continued until I literally felt ill.  I’d felt queasy years before at The Brick Oven, but now I felt truly sick, both in body and soul.

In one of the most spirit-filled conversations I’ve ever had in my marriage, my husband and I tearfully agreed that we could not wait a moment longer.  And in that very instant when we said, Yes, we’re doing this, it was like a strong wind blew through our home, sweeping away with it every last remnant of fear.  In its wake was left joy and peace and hope.

At that time, we didn’t personally know anyone who’d adopted from China, an odd thought today, so I contacted a large agency I’d read about on the internet.  They sent me an information packet that included a contact list. I scanned the list for someone in our home state of Washington and dialed the number.  The woman I spoke to said she’d used this agency for their first adoption, and that they were wonderful, but that for their second adoption, they’d used a smaller agency, one that she felt offered a little more hand-holding.  Then she shared a story, one that would carry me through the months of waiting ahead of us.  “When we were in China, we toured our daughter’s orphanage,” she said.  “As we walked down the rows of cribs, I was struck with such sadness that all of the babies looked somehow the same.  I rationalized this, thinking that they were all baby girls, all from the same area of China, and so of course, they looked similar.  Then my husband said, ‘They have no hope in their eyes.’  And I knew that was it.  That was the similarity that brought me so much sadness.  They had no hope in their eyes.”

I couldn’t call the new agency fast enough.  No hope their eyes!    My child might already be born.   She might already have lost the hope in her eyes.  We started our wait in the Non-Special Needs program.  I didn’t even know anything else existed.  Nine months later, in another tearful conversation, and after more research, we knew our child would be one with special needs.  We e-mailed our agency and the very next day we saw our daughter’s face.  Amazingly, only two months later, she was in our arms.

When we talk to our children, and tell them about their beginnings, I hope each one of them knows that they were absolutely our Option A.  The timing may not have always been perfectly orchestrated, but it was ultimately perfect.  It was perfect because it brought us to them.  Our children.

Do You Really Love Me?

Today’s guest post is contributed by Connie, mom to eight children… two recently adopted (at the same time!) from China through the SN program, Kooper 14, and Kinley 2. Connie has shared their adoption story on our Family Stories page, and blogs about life as a mom of many at One More Ladybug.

There is a pattern emerging. One that was either non-recognizable or perhaps non-existent a few months ago in our 14 year old son.

It goes something like this: gently testing the boundaries, obedience, sibling interaction, affection, vulnerability…and then the emotional overload and outpour, usually in the form of anger. There seems to be no provocation for the anger. A comment or teasing gesture that it expressed often, which under normal circumstances would be inconsequential, suddenly becomes the catapult for an uncontrollable outburst.

While this pattern may look different in each child, I think it is common among children adopted as teens. So many elements of their past have a profound impact on their psyche. Perhaps neglect and/or abuse in the formative years, poor nutrition, poor education and institutionalization all cause the brain to develop ‘differently’. What has taken years to develop cannot be changed overnight.

So, why the outburst in the form of anger? Especially when everything seems to be going so well. As crazy as it sounds, that’s his ‘safe place.’ Becoming angry and distancing himself from his family, allows our son to remain disconnected with his feelings. As he begins to transition into accepting his new life, he becomes overwhelmed by his feelings. Maybe because they are unfamiliar or maybe because it means letting go of all he has ever known. Even though our son’s past was less than ideal, it was his. It was him.

These angry outbursts include backtalk, shouting, throwing objects, exaggerating and doing the opposite of what he knows is acceptable. It’s as if he’s saying, “Do you love me when I do this? How about this? Or this? Do you really love me?” He’s never known a ‘happy ending.’

After such an outburst our son used to isolate himself for hours and would refuse to eat or speak. We realize there are few things he can control, but two of those are what goes into his mouth and what comes out! The pattern is changing though, ever so slowly. Now he will go to his quiet place, the porch swing, and come back to apologize in a short time. By God’s grace, we are able to move on!

We still have so much to learn. I understand that love is not a feeling, rather a choice. In our family it’s a choice we make daily, sometimes every hour. According to our human nature, typically when people treat us badly, we can choose not to be around them. Not so in teen adoption. We get to choose daily to be with our son, no matter what. And that is how God’s love is manifesting itself in us.

We realize that apart from Him, there is no good thing within us. We can’t fathom His love for us when we reject and grieve Him, yet He chooses to pursue us and love us, showering us with His grace and mercy, not so it can stop here, but so we can extend the same measure to others. As God is patient with us, we must also be patient with our son. Since my Father endured so much for me, surely I can muddle my way through this season of trials, in His strength. Lord, grant me the strength to daily choose to love, no matter what, and show me how I can be Jesus to my son today.