Waiting to be Chosen: Diana

June 25, 2017 0 Comments

Diana was born in March 2006 and found abandoned as a newborn. She was initially diagnosed with spina bifida and spinal meningocele, and later with chronic kidney disease and moderate anemia.

Diana is described as mature, strong, polite and well-liked. Despite her complicated medical history, she continues to work hard in school, treat others with kindness and be optimistic. Diana enjoys music, drawing, dancing and reading. Her favorite musical instruments are the zither and the piano. Diana also really enjoys fashion and beauty. She likes to pick out cute outfits and do her hair to match! Her caretakers say she is hygienic, organized and enjoys cleaning; she makes her bed and tidies her room every morning without being asked.

Diana is well-liked by both her peers and adults in the orphanage. The adults feel that Diana is much more mature than peers her age as evidenced by her frequent, advanced conversations with them. She gets along well with her teachers and is described as both polite and respectful. Diana is in fourth grade and is said to be clever. Her medical needs mean that she misses school frequently, but she has excellent grades and reads in her free time. She is said to be above average intellectually.

Diana had her first had surgery in 2007 to repair her meningocele. Then in 2011, she had surgery to correct a neurogenic bladder. She had another surgery in 2012 to correct a nephroblastoma on her right kidney, and finally, Diana had surgery in 2014 to treat her chronic kidney disease (stage V) and moderate anemia.

Currently, Diana has dialysis twice per week and blood transfusions twice per month. She also has her blood and urine reviewed each week. She receives medications and a specialized diet to treat her chronic kidney disease and anemia.

Diana has agreed to be adopted by foreigners, which could make a significant difference for Diana’s health and future.

Videos of Diana can be found here and here.

There is a grant up to $7,500 for Diana’s adoption – she is listed with Cradle of Hope.

What is Attachment?

June 25, 2017 0 Comments


It’s a buzz word. Outside the adoption world, people probably have heard it paired with the word parenting to refer to a lifestyle of co-sleeping with toddlers and discouraging mothers and fathers from the cry-it-out method to get their infants to sleep through the night. But, attachment at its core is way more than an “organic” parenting doctrine. We know that as adoptive parents. After all, attachment is likely somehow a part of every adoption-related book and every adoption training. We know it’s critical. But, we don’t always know why. Often, our understanding of it doesn’t go beyond knowing something’s broken and wanting strategies to fix it.

Understanding attachment means understanding how we are wired from the very start for connection and how those connections — the good and the not-so-good — impact how we learn to see ourselves and our world.

In the early part of the 20th century, experts saw attachment differently. They observed attachment between an infant and his mother but said that it was founded on food (the-way-to-a-child’s-heart-is-through-his-stomach idea). The child’s biological need for food morphs to a need for the one who meets that need, resulting in an attachment. By the 1950s, John Bowlby turned that theory upside down when he found that children in distress still demonstrated distress after competent, non-primary caregivers fed them. Their attachment wasn’t based on food; it was based on a relationship, a relationship that the child had come to associate with safety and security through his or her needs being met.

Babies are utterly dependent on caregivers for everything and are created in a way that gets caregivers to meet their needs. When babies experience a need, they cry. Caregivers respond and meet that need, and all is well with the world until the next need is felt. Babies and caregivers go through this cycle of felt need, expressing need, need met, felt safety literally hundreds of times a day when a tiny belly feels empty, when little arms he may not even know how to move yet feel cold, when her bottom is wet, when a loud noise scares him. As the child experiences this loop over and over and over again, he learns some very important life lessons that start simply with My caregiver meets my needs and grow to My caregiver is willing and able to help me. I am valuable and worthy of that help. When I get that help, life is good.

When those lessons are learned, that little baby learns to identify his needs and desires and how to express them. His brain develops the way it should as all the hormones related to stress and contentment fluctuate up and down as they should. She learns to self-regulate and wait for what she wants or needs because of the established trust and felt safety. And, she learns how to do relationships (empathy, give and take, vulnerability, forgiveness after mistakes are made) in ways she carries with her as she grows and her world gets bigger.

With all the focus on the child, we can easily see caregivers as static in this process; but, this cycle impacts them too. While the child is learning, his caregiver learns some things too: I am willing and able to help my child. I am valuable and worthy of that job. When I help my child, life is good for all of us.

Kids who came to us through adoption didn’t experience this the way they should have. For children who have lived life in part in an institutional setting, we may recognize those breaks in the relationship clearly. When she felt hungry, she cried and maybe someone came… but not for a while… and when they did, it wasn’t for very long. When his bottom was wet, he cried and he had to wait his turn. When there was scary thunder at night, maybe she was surrounded only by cribs with babies who were also scared. A child doesn’t have to be in an orphanage to experience breaks in this loop —neglect, abandonment, hospitalizations, persistent pain, foster care, unexpected goodbyes, etc. can cause breaks. A baby who experiences these kinds of starts learns a whole different set of lessons — My caregiver doesn’t really meet my needs. She isn’t willing and able to help me. I am not valuable and worthy of help. Life isn’t all that safe for me.

Relationships can look really different for this little one. Giving and receiving love — which is something he or she really needs — may feel too costly and hard. Letting someone else be in charge — also something he or she really needs — may feel too risky. They may live life on edge, expecting the worst and needing to be on the offense, ready for a threat. Noradrenalin and cortisol and serotonin levels (hormones in the brain related to aggression, impulse control, and emotion regulation) aren’t where they should be. It is with these patterns that she learns how to do relationships in ways she carries with her as she grows and her world gets bigger.

It’s in these patterns where we as parents feel that brokenness deeply because we want so badly to be what our children need. Yet, when our parenting seemingly comes up short, we can easily start hearing the messages: I am not able to help my child. I am not valuable and worthy of that job. Nothing is working.

Those messages are hard to hear because maybe we’ve heard something like them before. It’s not only our child’s history that matter; our history matters too. We are coming into this relationship as the caregiver on one side of the cycle having been on the other side ourselves, having received our own messages of value, worth, and the way the world works, having developed our own patterns of doing relationships because of those messages.

This is why we need strategies that help us to be better at building connection — for our children, for ourselves, for our families. Whether our kids are 3 months old, 13 years old or 30 years old, we need them. The attachment loop will look different than it does when we’re talking about infants, but it still applies. Our need for relationship and connection doesn’t magically end at age 3; it’s how we’re made and how we grow. The identified needs and expression of them are different. Our responses as caregivers are different. But the opportunity to send messages of safety and security, of value and hope – and receive the messages we need – remains.

Questions to consider:

• What messages (good and/or not so good) did you receive about yourself and the world around you growing up?

• What messages are you sending and what messages do you think your children are receiving from you as a parent? (note: they don’t always match up.)

• What messages do you want your children to be able to say they received from you?

How to Leave a Legacy for Your Children

June 24, 2017 0 Comments

I’ll never forget it as long as live.

When I was little, my family would travel from Alabama to North Georgia at the end of every summer to visit my great grandparents. My great grandfather, Wiley was his name, lived on a hillside off US Highway 27. He was the original DIYer. There was nothing he didn’t know how to do or fix, especially related to farming and gardening. His farm was like a walk through paradise.

In my memory his hillside garden was as close to the Garden of Eden as I’d ever get. Fresh veggies. Apple and peach trees. Scuppernong vines. Even peanuts all grew on this perfectly terraced mountain of a hillside. But a spread like this wasn’t only attractive to humans. Deer, coyote, rabbits, and probably other wild things would find their way in for a free meal. It used to be that my “job” during our visits was to find all the spent shotgun shells and bring them back to the shed. I never saw him kill anything, but based on all the shells I found, he pulled the trigger a lot.

One day, my great grandaddy, along with my dad and I were hiking the hill; me with a canvas sack strapped to my hip for collected spent shells, my dad empty handed, and my great grandfather with his trusty shotgun slung over his shoulder. There on that mountain, something unexpected happened. My great grandfather held his arm out as if to say, “Stop! Quiet…” He raised his gun, stared at something I couldn’t see, and pulled the trigger. The barrel erupted with a sound so powerful that it seemed to pull the air out of my lungs.

Both he and my dad stood their pleased with the moment. I didn’t really know what was going on. My great grandfather broke opened the barrel, expelled the spent shell, and handed the gun to my dad with the words, “It ought to last a real long time.” It was quite simple and yet deeply ceremonious. I stood there, a boy of about 12 years, fascinated by it all. The passing down of an heirloom, an inheritance.

We walked down the hill, my dad now with the gun over his shoulder, and I as a witness to something spectacular. When we got to the house, my great grandfather stopped my dad and nodded at him knowingly. My dad looked at me and said, “Son, this gun of your grandaddy’s is yours. It belongs to you. It’s a fine piece of craftsmanship. I’m going to keep it until you’re old enough. But it’s all yours.” I was beside myself! I felt as though I’d just taken a giant step up into the ranks of manhood. Not because of what the gift was, but because it belonged my great grandfather and would one day be mine.

The day I graduated high school, years after my great grandfather had passed, my dad brought that old shotgun to me and a card with the words, “This is yours. Always has been. It ought to last you a real long time.”

The covenant God made with Abraham is much like an heirloom passed down. It was loaded with a promise, “All of this is yours.” The Law, given to Moses some 430 years later, acting as an amendment, offered protection or guardianship of the promise until Jesus, the only one worthy of the inheritance, could rightfully claim it. But what’s so special about this promised inheritance is that while Jesus was the only one worthy of it, he chose to distribute it to us. Jesus received it by right. But we receive it by faith. In fact, our faith in Jesus is what gives us the right to be called children of God.

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” – John 1:12-13 (ESV)

I think it’s powerful to recognize that in the work of our redemption, God could have simply made us new creations and left us at that. It would have been enough to grant us citizenship into heaven. We would have all been grateful to not be left on the outside of the Kingdom. But he didn’t stop there. Instead he chose to make us members of his family and heirs to the promise. We went from bystanders to children.

His act of adoption is the foundation for every adoption. A child without a family is brought into a home, given a name and granted legal status. He becomes a son, as though that was always the plan, with all the rights of inheritance and the responsibilities of sonship.

Through what Christ has done, we are heirs of everything that belongs to God. And through our earthly adoptions, our children, whether biological or adopted, become heirs to everything. There is no class of child. Before Jesus, we were at best citizen and servants of God, but now through his great display of love, we are sons and daughters, invited into everything without exclusion.

Dads, I know sometimes you fear you might not be able to love your adopted child the same as you would a biological child. But I am fully confident the capacity for the love you have in your heart has nothing to do with biology. Every day you choose to love, you choose to grant an inheritance to your children. You leave impressions of yourself in their hearts and minds.

Sure, I’ll remember the event of the passing down of my great-grandfather’s shotgun. But those aren’t the things that I remember about him. Our interactions, his laugh, his stories… those are the inheritance. Those are the legacy.

Maybe you don’t have a lot of stuff to pass along. Maybe you do. But if you continue to open your heart, the stuff that really matters will pour out. Your love will fill the walls of their hearts with an inheritance beyond measure. At the end of your life, you won’t have to hand down something physical because your children will know…

“All of this belongs to you!”


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, …Read More

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 …Read More

An Orphan’s Courtroom

June 21, 2017 3 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, …Read More

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

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