Coloring in the Back Seat

This time next month, we should have our little one in our arms. Those words don’t feel real even as I type them. Our application was approved on April 26,2013, and we settled in to what we thought would be a 2-3 year process. But if all goes as planned, we should be back in America fighting jet-lag and getting to know life as a family of 4 before our one-year adoption application anniversary.

So much can happen in a year.

After 6 months of paperwork, our Dossier was sent to China on November 1, 2013, and we joyfully discovered our little one just a few weeks before, receiving Pre-Approval on October 25, 2013. We received our LOA on Christmas Eve, and the last few months have been a blur of last-minute paperwork and mental preparation. We are waiting on TA now, and could be on a plane in 2-3 weeks.

Just a couple of months before we found Alea’s file… when we were still in “this will take 2 years” mode and we were diligently working on a savings plan to fund our adoption, there was a family in our church who stopped us after the service, saying they felt like God wanted them to help us with our adoption as they pressed a folded check into my hand. When I opened the check in the privacy of my car a few moments later, my hands started shaking as I saw the string of zeros and realized they had just given us enough to cover over 1/3 of the total amount we needed to save to pay for the adoption.

We continued with our savings plan, and it has worked out that our adoption is fully funded right when we needed it to be… I know it is because God pressed upon their hearts to be involved in our journey that we were able to say YES to Alea’s file and move forward with confidence that we weren’t trying to make our own way.

God’s faithfulness and kindness and tenderness extended far beyond financially providing for this adoption. He has heard my prayers and answered them – from assurances about her health to whispers about her name. I made Alea a quilt shortly after we were matched. I know it was risky sending something hand-made to an orphanage in China, but I wanted to risk the chance that she might not get it with the possibility that she would. I have wondered, though, if it ever made it to her. A month or so later, we were sent an update from her orphanage, and it included a couple of little videos. I have watched them countless times, but just a week or so ago I thought to pay attention to what was being said in the background. I caught bits and pieces of it, but called in a friend to listen and translate what the nannies were talking about. They were talking about the care package. I think she got her quilt, and I think God winked at me.

I’m surprisingly calm about everything right now… As these stories illustrate, God has proven himself through this journey, and I trust that He will continue to sustain us along the way. If I could choose three words to describe what I have learned about my Abba over the last year, it is that He is tender and He is gentle and He is kind. He has shown me His heart for us, Alea, and adoption through a thousand seemingly tiny reassurances, and now as we stand on the edge of one of our life’s biggest transitions, I know He will continue to be tender and gentle and kind.

You know, when I started this journey out, I wasn’t focused on Him nearly as much as I was on myself. I thought I needed to be sufficient. I needed to be strong and wise and savvy and ready. I needed to read books and attend seminars and dig down deep to my 4+ years of professional international adoption work experience and 4 years of direct orphan care work experience and BE enough.

Please hear me… I am a HUGE fan of preparation. I literally feel physically ill when I overhear prospective adoptive parents singing the “Love will be Enough” refrain. Love is all you need, but Love looks like therapeutic parenting, well-informed insights into their trauma and their stories, and a willingness to change the way you’ve done things in the past to meet your child in his deepest place of need to bring hope and healing.

But, for a gal who had just about as much international adoption preparation as one could have without actually adopting a child, I’ve gone through much of this process frantically focused on just how INADEQUATE I feel for the task at hand. (And, as a result, frantically scrambling to cram as much preparation into the time that I have as I could.) I think in some areas of life, the experience I’ve had would make you feel like an expert. In this arena, it makes you take off the “Ignorance is Bliss” rose-colored glasses far earlier than most of your first-time adopting peers and shake in your boots.

To be honest, at times I felt so woefully unprepared that I questioned whether or not we should even be DOING this.

I’m a striver. I always have been. As I said before, I will strive and strive and strive until I feel like I AM enough. Do you catch the words there… I AM. I too often make an idol out of myself and my sufficiency. But the One I follow tells me to cease striving and know that He is God. He is the great I AM.

It isn’t that I’m not to prepare for my child’s trauma and transition. It isn’t that I’m not to carefully consider what special needs I feel best-equipped to handle. But at the same time, it isn’t about me being smart enough or a certain (unattainable) caliber of mama. It’s about saying yes to the journey with Him, allowing Him to be wise when I am ignorant, strong when I am weak, and sufficient when I am at the end of my rope. So if you sense God inviting you on this grand road trip, my advice to you isn’t just to say yes and let go of the wheel. It’s to say yes, let go of the wheel, hop in the back seat and color. He is so worthy of our absolute trust. It’s a wild ride, but He’s the best driver of all… and you’ll be there before you know it with something beautiful you’ve created together in hand.

 

 

Children’s Adoption Books

I may hesitate a little when I part with teeny tiny onesies and sneakers that have run one too many miles. But, our children’s books? They aren’t going anywhere. In fact, we converted one of our bedrooms into a “library” to house them all. They are overflowing and really need a good purging. But, I just can’t get myself to do it. Hope my little reviews here inspire you to overflow your own shelves because books are great conversation starters**.

________________________________

We-Adore-book-cover1-300x300I really like this one. Not only did Valerie write and publish a great book here, but she has a terrific website to go with it with all sorts of add-ons for the book including a coloring and activity book and translation downloads in 7 different languages. General enough to read to children adopted domestically or internationally and specific enough to lead them to believe it was written just for them. As I read Searching For The You We Adorealoud, Lydia follows the glossy red ribbon with her finger as it travels around the globe. It’s a story of a family’s journey and unconditional love and a must have for every adoptive family. Seriously. And, Valerie is a big supporter of some great adoptive charities too.

GiftForLittleTree_CoverIt’s the story of a fruitless apple tree, an abundant apple orchard, one wise farmer, and the gift of family—that’s A Gift for Little Tree by Colleen Marquez. The book captures the pain of childlessness in the fruitless apple tree whose branches would droop and her whole trunk ache. The book captures the sovereignty of God as the wise farmer reminds the tree that he has not forgotten her and masterfully helps a tree who cannot bear its fruit and grafts in a new branch to the fruitless tree. Colleen gently brings in birth families and the community that adoption builds between families. Appropriate for domestic and international adoption and interracial or not, this book would make a great gift for a waiting mommy who has felt the ache of infertility, a young child to open doors to talk about adoption, a sibling waiting for a new brother or sister, or even a high school or college graduate who joined your family through a grafting process. Since this book reads like a parable and is full of beautiful art you would want to hang on your wall, it really is one worth having. It’s actually one I’d like to have several of on hand for when the right situation warrants a special gift.

motherbridge-of-love-268x300Grab your tissues and sit down to read Motherbridge of Love.Written to benefit well known author and women and children’s advocate Xinran’s charity The Mothers’ Bridge of Love, the text of this book is a poem that was written and given anonymously for this purpose. With amazing illustrations, the poem tells the story of a little girl and the two mothers who have been a part of that story. From the first page, I was hooked: “Once there were two women who never knew each other. One you do not know. The other you call Mother.” Specific to China (with the poem translated into Chinese in the front), it would be appropriate to read with any girls who were adopted and wonder about the birth mothers they likely will never know. This book would be a really nice Mother’s Day gift for a waiting mommy, a nice tradition to read with your daughter in recognition of the day you became a family, a good way to open a door to talk about birth mothers, or simply a good read if you just want a little reminder of who you are and your calling as a mother…or if you simply need a little cry.

sweet-moon-baby-300x241Karen Henry Clark’s book reads like a fable that will invite all sorts of interesting conversations for your family. When Karen faced the fact that her daughter’s whole first year of life in China would forever be a mystery, she created a story of her own, a fairytale, to inspire her daughter’s imagination. That story about a perfect baby girl’s journey down the Pearl River to her forever family struck such a chord with her little girl that she shared her story for everyone in an adoption folktale Sweet Moon Baby: An Adoption Tale.Using beloved items in her daughter’s life, she tells the tale of a Chinese man and woman who release their baby girl because they cannot care for her as they would want. She floats in a basket over the river guided by a turtle, a peacock, a monkey, a panda, and even some fish until she is welcomed into the arms of her new parents on the other side of the river. This one is a beautiful, figurative fable, and a good one to use to open conversation up with your child if the timing is right.

elfa-and-the-box-of-memories-282x300I love books that open up doors to rich conversation–this one does not disappoint. Elfa and the Box of Memories,published by BAAF (a London based adoption/foster care charity) and written by their marketing officer, is seriously a must-have book for foster families and an excellent book for any families with children who struggle with navigating memories—both good and bad. Elfa the elephant carries a box of memories on her back that starts to interfere with life really. Marvin the monkey offers to sit with her to go through the box, full of pictures and mementos of his childhood. But, there are memories not there, ones she’s lost and she doesn’t know how. She goes back to some caregivers (zebras from a nursery, a rhino doctor, and hippos–who fill the role of foster parents though the verbiage is never used, and a giraffe teacher) who give her more little tidbits to help her remember. When the gaps are full enough, she thanks Marvin for his help and tells him, “I would never have been able to remember all those special times on my own. It’s not easy when you haven’t got anyone to share your memories with.” Marvin then helps her take the box off her back and put it in a safe hiding spot so that she can “play with the other animals and run through the trees without worrying about the heavy box on her back.” Excellent opportunity to talk to your children about releasing burdens and the freedom we can experience in that release. And, to make it even more practical, the book comes with a little book in the back called “My Book of Memories” where your child can write his or her own information in there. I’m imagining a great bonding day for parent and child—a special lunch out, completing the book together as best you can, and then hiding it somewhere safe…together.

staroftheweek-293x300Brilliant. Love Star of the Week: A Story of Love, Adoption, and Brownies with Sprinklesby a husband–wife team dealing with how a kindergarten girl adopted from China handles being “star of the week” in school, an exciting yet challenging experience that entails a poster all about her. Darlene deals with birthparent questions and feelings beautifully, setting a great example for the rest us parents who may feel unprepared. Told by Cassidy-Li’s perspective, she explains how they’ve talked about “all the reasons people can’t take care of their babies. They might be very poor, or maybe too young.” No promises are made. No over dramatizations or emotional imagery. Just acknowledgment that a child can love her parents but still feel sad about birthparents. And, that is totally okay. Only thing missing? Maybe a few discussion questions or conversation starters for parents at the end…and a boy version…and maybe some versions for kids from other countries or domestically adopted or in foster care. Darlene and Roger, more please.

kids-like-me-in-china-300x300Kids Like Me in China gives an incredible inside view of an orphanage in Changsha, Hunan Province through lots of photos and the sweet words of an 8 year old girl named Ying Ying Fry. Ying Ying tells about her experience of being adopted and her American parents and then shares about the two weeks she spent visiting the orphanage where she spent her infancy and the ayis who cared for her until her parents took her home. An absolutely fascinating book that is simply compelling. There are a lot of pages and words, too much to read to a toddler. But, when my little one was littler she enjoyed flipping pages and simply touching the faces of “her friends” in China. I’m pretty much a sucker for the last page: “China isn’t my home anymore, but it’s where I was born. Even though that was a long time ago, it’s a really important part of my life. If I hadn’t been born in China, I wouldn’t be me.” Well said, Ying Ying. Interesting to point out, the photographs are all their own since the Chinese authorities would not let their professional photographer in to take pictures; expect snapshot looking pictures rather than professional looking ones. And, Ying Ying, who you see throughout in her cute glasses, used proceeds from the sales of the book to pay for vision exams for all the children from her orphanage and glasses for all the kids who needed them.

red-in-the-flower-bed-cover-231x300Red in the Flower Bed is a hidden gem. A poppy seed falls from the flower upon dry ground where it cannot grow and so it travels from east to west by the wind until she lands in the perfect garden. “What a tiny seed. It’s just what we need,” chimed the garden flowers as they wondered what that tiny seed would become. With some rain and lots of sun, you watch the seed grow and become a beautiful red poppy, the red flower that the garden was missing to make it a beautiful rainbow. A beautiful, subtly communicated story of adoption and one that will allow you as the parent the freedom to talk about how he or she “landed in the perfect spot,” what a joy it has been to watch him or her grow, and the blessing he or she is to your family in a totally unique way.

tell-me-again-book-300x259I found Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born at a yard sale which turned out to be a good find. The story of an infant domestic adoption, each page starts with “Tell me again…” to string together the story of how a baby joined her family from the phone call in the middle of the night to the fun adjustments of having a new baby at home. The family tree page in the middle showing a birth dad and birth mom along with the words: “Tell me again how you couldn’t grow a baby in your tummy, so another woman who was too young to take care of me was growing me and she would be my birth mother; and you would adopt me and be my parents” may be inappropriate for some. But, you can skip that page if you want. My kids all love this book and the fun illustrations. My favorite part? The page showing the parents arriving at a chaotic hospital and the words, “…when you got there you both got very quiet and felt very small.” Sums it up well.

night-you-were-born-300x297I’m cheating. Nancy Tillman’s On the Night You Were Born is not an adoption themed book. But, it has become one for us since it was one of the first gifts given to us for Lydia way back when, actually 2 years before she was even born. With beautiful illustrations, the words emphasize what a beautiful moment it was when the child was born (not mentioning an actual birth or birth family at all). Instead, this book gives simply lovely prose explaining how “you are the one and only ever you” and how “Heaven blew every trumpet and played every horn on the wonderful, marvelous night you were born.” Check out Nancy Tillman’s other titles as well. She’s got a handful that work well for adoptive families.


crazy-cakesPublished in 2000, I Love You Like Crazy Cakes has become a Chinese adoption book classic. It’s the story of a single mother and a Chinese baby girl as they become a family. Not really applicable for a lot of families (married parents with other kiddos or adoptions from the special needs program, for example) and not great for reinforcing attachment practices (talks about passing the baby around at the airport and “more and more” people coming to visit at first…eek!), but some of you will find it sweet all the same. I like it for a few poignant quotes: “How did this happen? How did someone make this perfect match a world away?” and on their first night together, “I held you tightly, kissed you softly, and cried. The tears were for your Chinese mother, who could not keep you. I wanted her to know that we would always remember her. And I hoped she knew you were safe and happy in the world.”

orange-peel-233x300Rose Lewis strikes again with Orange Peel’s Pocket. Confronted with a classroom wanting her to tell them about China and realizing she didn’t know much of what to say, a girl nicknamed Orange Peel (adopted from China) decides she’ll learn some things as she runs errands with her mom that day. As they visit their regular haunts (tailor, antique store, florist, noodle shop, ice cream shop, etc.), the shop owners slip little trinkets into her pocket that she can use to teach her classmates about China. She then nervously but excitedly takes the treasures into school and stands up front to teach her friends about all the things she knew all along about the place she was born. I love this book–the illustrations are adorable and the story is even better. It’s a great one to read if/when your child is struggling with how to explain her birth place to others. And, it you could use it as a great starting point to gather your own little bag of treasures that help her to share about China with her family or friends. Love it.

god-found-us-you-300x238Looking for a book for a waiting mom…or a mom no longer waiting? God Found Us You is a good one. I can identify with that Mama Fox who prayed and prayed, wondered and dreamt, and waited through the seasons for God to find her her child. As Mama Fox tells the story, Little Fox asks her, “Did you ever want to give up?” to which she replies, “Sometimes…But I trusted that God knew you, and knew me, and knew when we’d fit perfectly together.” (sigh) Little Fox does ask about his birthmother, and Mama Fox’s first response is just right: “She must have had very big reasons to give you up. She must have thought it was best for you.” But, that’s followed with Mama Fox’s belief that she “prayed like crazy” that Little Fox would be safe: “I think she prayed for me as much as I prayed for her.” Not a promise I can make my daughter, so I usually change the words a bit here. Beautiful illustrations and beautiful words that remind me of our own story and my journey as a mother. And, I love that cute foxes can apply to domestic or international adoptive families AND that Little Fox is a boy (finally, an adoption book that features a boy! Not that I need one personally…).

oliver-300x231Foxes, kangaroos, birds, and now….lizards. Oliver: A Story About Adoption is unique to the other books we have in that it shares about the feelings and thoughts Oliver (a young adoptee) has when he’s punished, wondering what it would be like if he lives with his birthparents instead of his adoptive parents. He imagines all the things his birthparents might be doing, what they might be like. In the end, he’s comforted knowing that his nonadopted parents also wondered when they were kids what it would be like to live with another family and decides to stay put right where he is. Not one I’m going to start reading to our almost 5 year old now, but one I want to have on hand for when I feel like she’s ready for this type of conversation…not sure what readiness looks like yet but trusting I’ll know it when it’s time. Illustrations are simple sketches that you could even allow your child to color in to customize it if you’d like, allowing you to make the lizards different colors if desired.

the-name-jarThe Name Jar is a Korean book and it isn’t about adoption. So, why is it on my list? It’s the story of Unhei, new to the country, new to her town, new to school. When her first trip on the school bus ends with kids making fun of her name, she decides in class she’s going to pick a new name but doesn’t know what to pick. So, her classmates start a name jar for her with all their suggestions for good names, stumped by this new girl who doesn’t have a name already. When a classmate overhears a Korean store owner use Unhei’s real name, he becomes the hero by kidnapping the name jar and encouraging Unhei to introduce herself as herself. Though this isn’t about adoption, I think it’s such a great book to read with older adoptees newly home who may be struggling with their English skills or, if they kept all or part of their original name, how to fit in with all the American kids. Yangsook Choi is a favorite of mine.

 

book_Me_and_my_familyMy older kids LOVE books they can fill in about themselves…okay, maybe some adults do too. It’s fun to have a book about you. For families bringing home older kids, this would be helpful. It isn’t cheap though since you have to order it from BAAF, the publisher in London. This large, spiral bound book is divided into 3 sections: (1) to introduce yourselves and welcome the child before he or she actually joins your family, (2) when the child is “moving in” and getting to know all of you, and (3) living together for the long haul. You may need to adapt it some if you are doing it together once the child is home, but the beauty of the spiral binding is that you can remove pages easily that you don’t want in there. You can view sample pages from the book here courtesy of BAAF. I formally requested that they reprint this book with content in different languages and a little different layout so that it could work with children adopted internationally. The powers there weren’t interested since the target population is getting smaller. Boo. I’m thinking I may have a project in front of me. Stay tuned.

I-Hate-EnglishEllen Levine’s I Hate English! isn’t directly about adoption, but is an awesome resource (seriously) for families adopting a child from China who is old enough to be fully verbal in Chinese and struggle with the transition to English in his or her new family. The book is about a girl from China who moves to New York and finds herself angry that no one knows Chinese. It deals with the anxiety of losing something special as well as the frustration of learning something new. Great book at a great price.

 

dont-have-your-eyes-300x260I Don’t Have Your Eyes is a good book for children who look physically different than their families—bio or adoptive (don’t be fooled by the cover, by the way. Lots of diversity represented, not just Asian). The illustrations aren’t my favorite, but the text is simple and easy to read. And, the message is a good one for toddlers and preschoolers as well as their older siblings, in our case—though there are many ways we look different, there are just as many ways we are the same. This book helps families celebrate their differences while also emphasizing that our hearts are what matter most.


Sisters-coverA book about international adoption of an older girl. Sisters is a cute story about Melissa, the bio older girl, and Kika who has just joined the family through adoption (country isn’t named, but parents do travel for a couple weeks to bring her home and she has dark, wavy hair and fair skin). In simple language and cute pictures, Sisters touches on Kika’s fears and adjustments as well as Melissa’s. In the end, they argue and make up…just as sisters do.


the-day-we-met-youThe Day We Met You, in very simple, easy language tells the story of a family hearing they have a child for the first time and then meeting that child. Not my favorite illustrations or book in general, but since it’s gender and type of adoption neutral, you can easily read this one aloud and personalize it and expand it as you see fit for your little one. A good attachment prop, in my opinion.


mr.Rogers-236x300Since when does 1994 qualify to be called “the olden days”? Fred Rogers’ Let’s Talk About It: Adoption has great content, very matter of fact about what a family is, what adoption is, and feelings a child may have about it. But, the pictures? Really? Real photos of children and families that are as early 90s as you can get. Call me shallow (no, please don’t), but I can barely stand the mom jeans and big hair. This one is staying on my shelf for now since the content is so good, but I am officially requesting that the Putnam & Grosset Group republish this one with either illustrations or new photos (that someone else can cringe at in another 15-20 years).


motherforchoco-300x300A Mother for Choco celebrates transracial adoptive families through a bird, a bear, a hippo, an alligator, and a pig. Choco sets out to find a mother and learns that his mother doesn’t have to look like him, she just has to care for him. Good for all adoptive families—especially transracial ones and ones with adopted boys.


blessing-from-above-300x300A Blessing from Above…literally…when a baby bird falls out of the nest and into the empty pouch of a kangaroo. Cute little story with adorable illustrations. I wonder how a child may respond to how the mama blue bird keeps a nestful of babies but is okay with her “littlest one” being adopted by a kangaroo since she knows “her nest was not big enough for all her chicks.” Don’t really like that part. But, maybe I’m just overthinking things (I have a tendency to do that, you know).


red-thread-300x237A king and queen who have it all feel like something is missing and set out to find it in The Red Thread: An Adoption Fairy Tale through following a red thread clear across the world at the advice of an old peddler to a baby in a basket. They question the villagers there who she belongs to, and an old woman tells them she belongs to them. They take her home where she becomes the princess, and they “never felt the pain in their hearts again.” When they try to seek out the old peddler to reward him for his help, they find that he’s traveled to another kingdom to help another king and queen with pain in their hearts. It’s not my favorite adoption book since the missing piece of birth parents leaves a lot missing to me. But, fairy tales are what you make of them. My advice? This isn’t a “let’s-read-a-quick-book-before-bed” type of book. You are going to need to take some time afterwards to talk about who could have put the baby there with the red thread tied to her foot and why.
WeBelongTogetherToddParrIf you want simple language for little ones and simple drawings to catch little ones’ attention, We Belong Together: A Book About Adoption and Families by Todd Parr is one you’ll want for your shelf. Every page set starts with “We belong together because…” and starts with “you needed a home and I had one to share” and then goes through a handful more including “you needed someone to kiss your boo-boos and we had kisses to give.” Designed to work for all sorts of adoptive families with pronouns that change and people of different colors (think blue and purple!). I like this one and find myself wanting to take it and make my own book for each of my kids from it bringing in what I believe are the reasons we belong together.


finding-family-for-tommyFinding a Family for Tommy was written for young kiddos (18 mo-5 years old) in very simple language with lift-up flaps (and a spiral bounding…which I like). Tommy needs a family and each page shows places with families that wouldn’t work—the farm, the pond, the zoo, etc. In the end, just when you think Tommy will never find a family, a picture with lots of people with friendly faces is revealed with the text, “Hooray! Here are some families. Not too smelly or soggy or scary. Which one is right for Tommy?” I’m well aware of the lack of good books for foster kids; this is a good one. And, what I like about it too, is that you can read it with children adopted domestically or internationally from birth or as toddlers, etc. just to open up the discussion about what makes a family and how a child new to a family may feel. Another good resource from BAAF.

Have any titles on your shelf that aren’t yet on mine?

**Amazon links are affiliate links – any money raised through sales will benefit The Sparrow Fund**

 

we want to hear from you

We have an amazing group of contributing authors here at No Hands But Ours – those who currently blog and those who have blogged for us since we began over 5 years ago.

When a new contributor joins our team, we ask them to commit to one post a month for the calendar year and, at the beginning of the next year, we all get together via email and discuss. And contributors decide if they are ready to commit to the year or if they need to step out.

We have been so blessed by all the mamas who have taken given of their time and talent in order to share here on No Hands But Ours and help advocate for those who wait. And we miss those who have to step back.

But we totally understand. Life is busy and as mamas we must be mindful.

We now have a few contributor spots open for the remainder of 2014 that need to be filled. And, instead of us trying to find the perfect person to fill those spots, we want to hear from you.

Nominations are now being accepted for new contributors here at No Hands But Ours.

Feel free to nominate yourself or someone you know. Or even someone you don’t know. If you enjoy a blogger and think she would be a good addition to our team here at No Hands But Ours, let us know.

Only one nomination is necessary, we will consider each nominee equally.

A few details. What we are looking for in a monthly contributor is someone who:

- has adopted a child from China through the special needs program (number of children and/or severity of special needs does not matter)
- enjoys writing and is able to communicate their journey passionately and effectively
- would be able to commit to one post/month for the remainder of 2014 (blogging topics are wide open)

To nominate someone, just complete this short, confidential form. Responses come to me privately and will not be shared with anyone other than the NHBO team.

We will leave nominations open for the remainder of this week – through February 28, 2014 – and then we will be in touch (via the email addresses left in the responses) with the nominees we have questions for or want to learn more about. Once our new bloggers are on the No Hands But Ours team, we will make the official announcement here on the blog.

YAY!

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or contact us via email.

Can’t wait to hear from you!



Known by name

We call her Jubi, or Jubi Sue, or sometimes Jubes. But her name is Jubilee, and she loves her name.

The other day her daddy wrote “Jubi” on her paper cup and she was not happy.

“Where are the rest of the letters, Daddy?” she asked with a frown. “My name has an l and two ees.”

We always knew our first daughter would be named Jubilee. Even before we knew she’d be adopted, though the meaning is fitting for adoption, referring to the Year of Jubilee in the Bible when everybody is given a clean slate and a second chance.

In our case, actually, the name is especially fitting. Jubilee is the first daughter in many generations of women not to be raised by an alcoholic father. The cycle has been broken! Jubilee!

We hope our daughter will always love her name. We hope, too, that she will think on her former name – Yong Yu Hong – with sober pride. “Yong” was the surname of her orphanage director, given to every child who came through the home. “Yu Hong” was given to her by someone at some point, but she was called, affectionately, “Hong Hong” by her more recent caretakers. Living in China as we do, we have let her keep the pet name “Hong Hong” for use in Chinese-speaking circles, and it fits her well.

Names are a big deal. I have written a novel, for example, and have just started the publication process. The reason I’d like it published is to reach others with the message of God’s love. But I’d be lying if I said it wouldn’t be neat to see my name in print. It feels good to be known.

That’s why it hurts when an acquaintance forgets your name, or a good friend spells your name wrong on an invitation.

And it’s just one of the many reasons why orphans have such vacant expressions in pictures. Nobody knows them! Many will never be known. Many will never be given a well-thought-out name by a set of doting parents.

And my book – which I’ve worked on for the better part of two years and into which I’ve poured my heart and soul – may never get published.

But thankfully for all of us, there is One who knows us intimately, who made each of us carefully and has never taken his eyes from us. He knows our names. He knows how to spell them. He has read my book and I bet he loves it.

And one day, I will come before him and I will see my name in print in the book of life. I will hear my name rolling off God’s tongue and I will shudder with joy at the sound.

Oh the joy, the pure joy, of being known by name.
IMG_6386



Bonding Goes Both Ways

The literature on children bonding to their new parents is plentiful but it falls short when it comes to the parents bonding with the child.

With our first adoption I didn’t even consider it an issue. After all she was 16 months old and completely helpless. I had bonded to her before I had ever met her and once we were together it was all so natural. It is often like this when adopting a younger child.

As we continued to adopt we sometimes found it more challenging to bond with our children. It wasn’t spontaneous or instant. It took effort, prayer and time. As I have said before some kids are just simply easy to love. They are the ones that do not test your patience, they exhibit less frequent irritating behavior and they are simply a joy to be around. If only everything in life was “that easy”!

But the truth is, it’s not… and sometimes it’s the ones that we work the hardest for that are the most rewarding. We feel that God has put these challenges in our life for a reason. He has entrusted delightful, special and challenging children to our care and it’s our job to love and nurture them into adulthood.

Actually, it’s these children that send me “straight into prayer” as I am answering the same question for the umpteenth time and trying to smile through the answer. “They” keep me closer to Him. It’s not the “easy life” that sends me into prayer, it’s the challenging times that keep me on my knees.

So how does a new parent attach and love a “hard to bond with child”?

Here are some ideas that have helped us.

1. We don’t expect to love our new child right away. If we do, alleluia! However, often times we have found that it takes time. Give yourselves permission to take the time you need to bond. Be nice to yourselves and to each other during the preliminary bonding stage.

2. We know that it is a process and that there is no set time that “love begins”. It starts small and grows. It comes from knowing how much God loves us and if we are worthy of his love certainly we can love HIS children.

-6

3. We try to understand our child and their past. Why they respond the way they do to the world around them. We try to appreciate the fact that they have survived so much already and that they should be celebrated for their accomplishments. Sometimes it goes a little deeper and we need to understand the learning challenges that our new child may have. It really helps to have this information so you can better understand them and how they think.

IMG_8309

4. Our new child needs to fit into their new life. We are not going to rearrange our whole family to fit around their desires. They need to obey the rules of the house and learn how to be part of a family. We all need to work together to make it work. Everyone is happier when we all work together!

5. We try to find common interests. I refuse to play Barbies but I will happily do a puzzle! I think it is so nice to share a common interest, it is bonding when both of you are enjoying your time together! Have fun with your new child!

6. I really like it when my child begins to speak English. Sometimes charades, sign language and pointing is all you need but it becomes so much more of a relationship when you speak the same language. In many ways that is selfish of me. Had I known we were going to adopt 13 children I would have put more effort into learning Mandarin.

7. Time together is key! Think of all the time they have spent away from you… the only way to really know your child, is to be with them as much as possible.

IMG_8154

8. Try not to compare your “hard to bond with child” to your other children We are all so different and we will all manage these difficult times in our own way. I do keep in mind what worked and didn’t work with the other children but I try my hardest not to compare them. I remember after our first birth child I felt so confident! This parenting thing is easy! I got it down! I can do this! And then came child #2, she was COMPLETELY different than our first child. What an awakening!

9. Whatever cares your child needs, you should do them. It is bonding changing a colostomy bag, helping an older child change his diaper, handing them their daily dose of medicine or combing your older daughter’s hair.

10. It’s a choice, chose to love your child.

IMG_0295

11. Pray about it. Give it to God and fast if you can.

12. It is also nice to have someone trustworthy to talk to such as your social worker or another adoptive mom. It helps to process your feelings and to get yourself back on track.

I hope these suggestions will help you.
Blessings,
Jean



wounded heart

Character band-aids. They seemed to me like a colorful slice of a pacifier that we ever so gently stick on our children’s wounds…sometimes they even actually even cover blood. I have in the past had what you could call a ‘love/hate relationship’ with character band-aids.

That is until a Mother’s Day tea in one of my children’s kindergarten classrooms.
I sat that morning cramped in my child’s classroom chair, sipping weak tea and eating store bought butter cookies along with a bunch of other women I recognize by face but not by name. My child’s beaming face made the awkwardness worthwhile…that and the promise that we were going to hear our children read their writer’s workshop masterpieces.

The prompt they were given for this particular assignment was, “I love my mother because…”

Yes, predictable.

And many of the answers that were given were rather predictable.

I smiled along with the other moms as they heard their child sing their praises with:

“I love my mommy because she takes me to the pool.”

or

“I love my mommy because she lets me do karate.”

and

“I love my mommy because she cooks good food.”

Sweet for sure, each declaration brought smiles from all of us. As I listened I wondered what accolade I would be assigned by my soon to be kindergarten grad.

Finally it was my turn to hear why that particular child of mine loved me.

“I love my mommy because when I fall she comes to the rescue and she gives me a band-aid. And I love her because she helps us when we get hurt and I love her just because.”

It hit home to me right then that an often overlooked “special need” is that of the wounded heart.

Hearts that suffer an early betrayal. Hearts that become trained not to expect their needs to be met when they were one of many in their institutions. Hearts that find trust difficult.

And this child of mine with a wounded heart…over time…this child believed in me.

At first I held my breath, trying not to react in front of those other moms I didn’t really know. Then the tears began to fall as I sat reaching for everything within me to prevent the ugly cry from happening right there in my child’s classroom. It was in that moment that I realized those character band-aids were actually so, SO much more than just a pacifier.

Those band-aids were a symbol to my child–my beautiful, precious, tender, tough, wounded-heart child–that I do care. They serve as a tangible picture of my love for my child. A reassurance that someone, particularly me, will be there to care for my child’s needs. That child may have had their heart broken more than once before they came to know me as Mama.

But I’m here now. So are the character band-aids. And now? Well, I’ll apply them with a smile instead of a sigh.

 

 

the greatest special need of all

Welcome to Amy, mom to Grace adopted from China 8 months ago, and our newest contributor at No Hands But Ours. Amy blogs at Stops Along the Journey.

Special needs.

We hear those words so often in so many places; schools, adoption agencies, the work place, fast food restaurants, and facebook. Adoptive parents who choose to love and seek after and bring home a child diagnosed as having “special needs” are inundated with all sorts of language and ideas and methods to succeed at parenting a child who has “special needs”.

I remember searching this website for answers on what different “special needs” meant. Everything from blood disorders to orthopedic issues to cardiac defects. Many words linked to blogs linked to stories of family after family who was living with “special needs” and how they managed to live with them and in spite of them. I would go from this site to our medical check list of what we would “accept” and sometimes things I assumed were scary turned out to seem not so scary after reading about them on this site. I am forever grateful.

I remember checking the line for “cardiac defects”, “GI defects”, “blood disorders”…imagining what it would be like to morph from a family with zero “special needs” into a family with them. Unknown special needs, in fact. What if there was more than one…more than two…good heavens – more than three? No…that would be too much to handle. I could never be that mom. I don’t have what it takes to be that mom.

Today I am that mom. Today our youngest daughter, home just 8 months exactly, has rocked our non-special-needs family into one with special needs galore. Although, it’s not how I imagined special needs to look. At all.

GD-1030010

Her medical information listed: tetralogy of fallot, repaired tracheo-esophageal fistula, possible hyrdonephrosis, and hospitalizations for chronic pneumonia. As we researched these “special needs” we felt confident this was something we could handle, help heal, and provide for. Today those special needs aren’t really part of our daily life; not really. Her heart is repaired and has been for 6 months. We monitor how fast she eats and what she eats because her esophagus isn’t as efficient as it should be. Her kidneys are normal. The needs we discovered after meeting her are barely noticeable as well. Her crooked spine has improved some and her tracheomalacia (a result of her repaired fistula) is unnoticeable most days.

There is one special need, however that is noticeable most days. No doctor can prescribe a procedure or a prescription to heal or to help. It wasn’t listed in her referral information, nor is it something you would notice in a photo or physical exam.

There isn’t a school, or drug or teacher that will be of help, and there isn’t anything I can do to speed along the healing.

GD-1030006

The need to feel attached, secure, loved…those are the special needs we notice always with Grace. They surface in the first waking moments. They are revealed when I leave her side at times to throw something in the garbage or use the bathroom. They color the way we do nap-times and bedtimes and doctor visits. They are displayed in the joy she feels when all of our family is together in the same room and no one is missing. They are obvious in the middle of the night when she wakes and cries and instantly relaxes at the warmth of her hand in mine. The process of attaching isn’t complete once your plane arrives or six or twelve months later. There is no alarm to sound when the magic number of days have come and gone. There’s no graduation day, completion ceremony or degree. It may be a life long process with continuous testing even after we think “we’re good”.

We read about it, we studied it, we did the work and imagined the scenarios and grieved over the reasons, the many reasons why children like Grace, live with this “special need”. It’s the part of adoption that we work at long after the paperwork we completed has expired and long after we are home and unpacked. Years of gotcha day anniversaries later we will look back and remember how far we have come. I look back after 8 months and marvel at how she panics less when she wakes from a nap alone in her room. I give thanks and praise when I can go use the bathroom alone because she isn’t a puddle of tears on the ground in the fetal position after I walk ten feet from her into the bathroom. It is a marathon, not a sprint and every mile of this marathon is sprinkled with victories to be won.

Why? Why is it that these children we have sought after, fought to bring home, wanted and traveled the world for test and question our love and loyalty and devotion? I don’t know; but then again I’ve never been abandoned. I’ve never dealt with chronic loss. How many times was she abandoned? On paper – once. In her reality – dozens and dozens of times. Every time she lay in hospital bed, left in a room alone and strapped to a bed, perhaps just when she was used to one nurse there was an inevitable shift change and it translated to loss. How about the time she was left with a stranger only to a few hours later be given to new strangers, us. Strangers who hugged her and love her like crazy… only she wonders if we might leave her too.

Thanksgiving-13-9594

Attachment might be the greatest special need of all; and the most challenging need to meet because to us, it doesn’t always make sense, and it isn’t always convenient. You won’t find it on your referral paperwork when you adopt, but make no mistake – it’s there. The signs of attachment, the progress, the celebrations of smiles where there used to be tears and peace where there once was fear…there’s nothing quite like it. We are not alone in this process. The Healer, the Great Healer promises to equip us for every good work. Our daughter came to us with a very broken physical heart, but as it turns out – that was only a minor and short-term special need. Healing her emotionally broken heart, teaching her to trust and love with reckless abandon and security is a life long special need and one we work at every day.

Thanksgiving-13-9709

It is so worth it, it is such a privilege to be the one who will never leave her.

It’s an amazing honor to be the one who gets to teach her to trust, to love, and to be secure in the love of her family and most importantly – her Creator. What an amazing work He does in the hearts of His children. He heals what is broken, He even knows the stars by name, He is almighty, and He understands.

Thanksgiving-13-9587

“He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds. He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name. Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.” — Psalm 147:3-5



Holidays and Celebrations

I’m not exactly what you’d call a “holiday” person. I know people who have decorations ranging from Christmas trees to pumpkins to shamrocks to pink and red hearts that they put up as the seasons rotate. Bu I’m not one of them. I’m a minimalist. The only holiday I decorate for is Christmas and that’s typically limited to our tree and stockings…though we did add an Elf on the Shelf to our traditions a few years back. And believe me, that’s a much bigger deal than it sounds for this simple mama!

Being the mother of three children from China, though, I’ve felt the need to add Chinese New Year to our family list of family holidays. Once again, I don’t go to extremes…no decorations, traditional foods, or even silk attire. Every year we simply head to the local Chinatown with some of our friends from our local adoption group. There is a big celebration in the morning at the Chinese Community Center that includes a lion dance, martial arts performance, singing/musical performances, and various other parts of the Chinese heritage and culture. Then we all go to lunch at an authentic Chinese restaurant and the kids get their red envelopes containing their “lucky money” once we come home.

I’ve always worried that I don’t make a big enough of a fuss over Chinese New Year. After all, it’s really the only part of our kids’ birth culture that we celebrate. We don’t attend Chinese School, and I only have one painting from China hanging in my house. I constantly worry that I’m a “slacker” when it comes to preserving heritage. And this year, my worries escalated as we celebrated our teenage son’s first Chinese New Year since coming home. But I’ve become fond of our little family tradition and it’s something I look forward to every year.

Holidays can be hard when you’re away from your home and family. That’s one thing I learned during our years in the military. The old song “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” has brought tears to my eyes more than once. But aside from a few food-related episodes from our youngest son, Chinese New Year has been a happy time. Until this year.

My teenager just couldn’t get into our celebration. When we asked his opinion on our trip to Chinatown he declared it was “boring.” But we really didn’t need him to tell us that. His body language pretty much screamed it. We hoped being surrounded by Chinese people, hearing the language, and eating authentic food would make the holiday as special as it could be for him. Notsomuch. Epic fail on that one. I have a feeling this is one of those things that will never be as good as the real deal.

But even worse was our youngest son. We don’t know much about his time in China, but we do know that he often went hungry due to this cleft lip and palate. We’ve struggled with food-related issues since he came home just over three years ago, and as the Chinese New Year celebration comes to an end…right about lunchtime every year…he struggles. Something about being hungry and exposed to the Chinese language and culture sets off a trigger for him. There’s always a little bit of a meltdown, and last year I had to step out of the room with him to keep the distraction down for everyone else. Once he was calmed down and got to eat, he was fine. But this year, the impact lingered. The tears lasted all day, even after he had been fed. And we saw emotional regression combined with a reoccurrence of orphanage behaviors that lasted for days. Not to mention the nights he was back to sleeping with us. The past year has been such GOOD year for him, but the celebration triggered a hidden trauma that wasn’t as easy to recover from as it has been in years past. We even witnessed sheer terror from him by a group in authentic attire from a bygone Chinese era.

And then there was our sweet daughter. Unlike her brothers, she didn’t spend much time in an orphanage. She was with a precious foster family that adored her and would have no doubt adopted her if it had been an option. That little bit of China in Chinatown generated an extreme homesickness. To the point that she was telling us she wanted to go “home” to her “China house.” And when we explained that her home was with us now, she told us in no uncertain terms that we aren’t her family. She wanted her family in China. Her varying range of emotions settled quickly, but it was hard to watch her wrestle with her two worlds…the life she had in China was every bit as good and happy as her life here with us. She has much to miss from her “home” and we grieve with her in her losses.

At the end of a day full of “celebrating” I found myself questioning our Chinese New Year celebrations once again. But not because my girls weren’t wearing silk dresses and I don’t have a kitchen god on display in my home. No, I found myself wondering if it’s a good idea to make an annual tradition out of exposing my children to something that hurts so much. Something that triggers memories from a “former” life that they’re not quite sure how to deal with. And for the first time, I found myself wondering if maybe my holiday celebrations are a bit “over the top.” That maybe…just maybe…I might need to go more simply in the future.

Thankfully I’ve got another year to try and figure it out.

CNY2014



The Tools of The Trade

If I had to do it all over again, I would have been a speech therapist. It’s funny how things work sometimes; I never expected to spend five years of my life in group and individual speech therapy with both of my biological boys for oral motor and articulation issues. Now my oldest boy competes in speech competitions and the other is almost finished with his time in speech. And along comes Grace, who will spend quite a bit of time in speech, likely into her elementary years. Thankfully, she loves speech therapy or as she calls it, “MY speech.” Thankfully I love speech therapists and have had a couple as close friends along the way. What they do is extraordinary and it does change the game for three of my four kiddos. It’s funny that when we began the adoption process, that was far from my mind. Yes, cleft lip/palate was on our list but from my perspective , it was pretty low on the list and not likely. Funny how things work and funny that spending portions of the week in speech therapy was already pretty comfortable for our family.

So, this post is specific to those considering adopting a cleft lip/palate special needs child. What would 2-14 procedures look like? What would speech therapy for around 4 or 5 years look like? It seems very daunting and overwhelming and is still for us sometimes like a big unknown. But sometimes it looks like this.

1_2014-02-02 11.30.22

Yes, that’s right. Smarties. Smarties to help teach sweet Grace how to use her muscular little tongue to position and hold a Smartie at the front of her newly acquired palate. Big fun when you are able to hold it there. Even more fun when you get to eat it afterward! That simple motion encouraged by candy is setting a foundation for specific sounds to be heard loud and clear. “Love” gets placed there, as does “Like.” These are important words to say and be understood in for a two year old! Sometimes speech therapy looks a bit like this…

2_2014-02-02 11.25.18

An alligator muscle stimulator and massager for lip rounding and closure!
If you’ve ever had surgery, you know that scar tissue can be a beast to untangle and loosen up and that muscles are weak. And sweet little cleft palate children have to relearn some strength and retraction and an entire list of things we take for granted. So Talk Tools has fun devices called Z Vibes and Jigglers to encourage massage with a sensory awareness brought on by the vibration of cute alligators or pink mice.

3_2014-02-02 11.24.32

Overwhelming medical terms in cleft lip/palate land can be just that. Overwhelming. But alligators and candy and jigglers are much more my language. I want to know the bottom line and what it will really look like. The truth is, the speech therapy part looks like fun. Like play. With candy! Tongue tip lateralization is just a bonus in my book.

The surgery and devices in cleft lip/palate land are also overwhelming. It was why I originally thought that we would not pick this special need. Says the mom who was just yesterday pulling chewed up chicken out of her biological eight year old’s palate expander newly placed by her orthodontist. Cranking it with a plier like tool, my hands all in her tiny mouth while she is almost upside down so I can see it. Turns out both of my girls have some palate needs. And we roll with it. In a couple of years, I will be both a speech therapy expert and an orthodontic device specialist. And it isn’t overwhelming. Funny how in all of our worry and feeling unprepared, we get prepared. We are prepared. Funny how things work.



“Not Now” Does Not Mean “Not Ever”

Guest post by Jennifer, who brought home her daughter from China as a single mom, and blogs at Journey to Olivia.

For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of being a wife and a mom. I remember as a little girl planning what my wedding would look like and making lists (refined over the years) of what characteristics my husband should possess. On February 1, I will be 43 and I am still waiting for the man and wedding that I have dreamed of…

I have always been open to adoption, but figured it would be after I was married. Parenting can be tough enough when there are two actively engaged parents. Sometimes life results in single parent families, but I NEVER dreamed I would initiate single parenthood, and if two years ago you had told me I would now be fully immersed in it, I would have told you that you were crazy.

Nearly six years ago I left my job to launch a full time ministry that loves on, serves, and gives to others. This has afforded me the opportunity to travel to and serve in different countries. In June 2012, I was on my 6th trip to China. There, as I loved on the precious kiddos, I prayed for their forever families to come quickly – knowing that I was not them. And then it happened…I picked up a precious little one and had a strange sense that instead of praying for her family, that I was her family.

In my arms for the first time in June 2012...was God was starting something?...

In my arms for the first time in June 2012…was God starting something?…

Was I feeling smitten because I was getting older and wanted to be a mom? Was I simply being drawn to a beautiful little girl? Or was there something more going on? Was God finally saying, “Now. Now is the time that I will give you one of the dreams of your heart”?

“Really?” I’d ask. “It’s ‘just me’ and I have to fundraise for your ministry so I can live, and now You want me to come up with $35,000 to adopt, and to adopt a child that will have ongoing medical bills and expenses?” Through much prayer, affirmation, and ‘God winks’, I finally understood that was exactly what He was saying.

Seven months (and after a lot of paper work, home studies, and US approvals) later China confirmed that it was ok with them for me to be her mom. And 1 year and 9 days after I first held Olivia in my arms, she was placed in them forever.

This was taken right after landing on US soil, making Olivia officially a US citizen.

This was taken right after landing on US soil, making Olivia officially a US citizen.

One of the biggest lessons that I’ve been learning is that while it is easy to think that I’m “doing this alone”, I’m not. At all. What would I suggest to others who are in the same place I am/was and wondering if they are being called to open their hearts and lives to a child that needs a family?

1. Pray and Get Close with God. That isn’t meant to say that I wasn’t before, but throughout the entire adoption journey I can honestly say that I was much more intentional about my prayer and quiet time. I journaled my prayer requests, answered prayers, and praises. I found a couple of Bible studies that were specifically focused on adoption and used them to guide and focus. Open your heart in new ways and see what God will do.

Taken by Amy, a special friend who came into my life through this adoption journey and who is herself a China mommy.  This so perfectly captures the joy that fills Olivia and pours out to me and anyone blessed to be in her presence.

Taken by Amy, a special friend who came into my life through this adoption journey and who is herself a China mommy. This so perfectly captures the joy that fills Olivia and pours out to me and anyone blessed to be in her presence.

2. Lock Arms with an Amazing Agency that with Pray WITH and FOR you.  For me, this was Lifeline Children’s Services; For you, it might be someone else.  Regardless of what agency you work with, make sure that it is done through prayer and talk to others who have worked with them.  They will be your guide, your expert, your advocate, and your child’s champion through the process.

Born to be a Buckeye

Born to be a Buckeye

3.  Build a chandelier.  HUH?  Yep you read that right.  I have developed a tight group of girlfriends – several of whom I have yet to meet face-to-face (though that will be changing very soon! wooohooooo!!!) – with whom we are walking this road of life and adoption together.  We have had an ongoing “chat” on Facebook (or as one of their husbands calls it “our conferences”) since March of 2013.  We have called our team a “chandelier” because there are days when one of our “bulbs” may be flickering and seem to be on the verge of going out, but it is on those days that the rest of us can reflect light back to them and give strength…may sound a bit silly when reading about it, but we like our analogy.  But the point is get tight with a group of women with whom you can be open, transparent, real.  We have laughed, cried, travelled, prayed, sung, eaten, gone to battle, and many more things together.  Key: together.  For me, these ladies have been a lifeline for which I will never be able to adequately say thank you.  I don’t have a husband that I can share the tears (and joys) of my heart with, and these ladies have allowed me to do so with them.  God knew exactly who I needed and He gave me my 3/20 sisters!

As you've probably noticed, when we take our pictures, Olivia likes to put her face right next to mine, usually touching.  I kind of like it, too!

As you’ve probably noticed, when we take our pictures, Olivia likes to put her face right next to mine, usually touching. I kind of like it, too!

4.  Learn.  I believe that God is walking with each of us through this journey and will give us what we and He can handle together.  It is important to take some time to understand and learn about the special needs and health conditions that you’re going to welcome into your family.  Before I met Olivia, I don’t think that I had ever heard of Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI).  I didn’t know about brittle bone disease, its 8 types, PAM, Zole, rodding, or any number of other issues and concerns that were about to enter my world.  What I have found is that there is not only a lot of information and resources available online and otherwise, but that within the adoption community there are people (both parents of children with your child’s conditions as well as individuals living with them) who are excited and willing to walk the road with you and share their wisdom and experiences openly.

*There is one caveat to the “learn” that I want to share…know what you’re able to handle and what you’re not.  I have found that I have to sometimes limit the amount of time that I am able to spend on some of the OI pages.  Because of great diversity of issues and severity of how OI effects lives and bodies, I sometimes found myself getting anxious when reading.  I know from talking to others who have children with different conditions that they have experienced the same thing.  Don’t feel like you have to know or learn it all.  Take what you need for your situation and then move on.  And when you’re able to give and help others, do that, too.  But don’t allow yourself to get paralyzed by all of the “maybes” that could come to be.  You’ll stress yourself out!

Laugh.  Know yourself.  Make faces.

Laugh. Know yourself. Make faces.

I truly believe that God doesn’t call the equipped, but rather equips the called.  There are still many days that I feel inadequate when it comes to “mom stuff” (like what do I do to help her get rid of her silly cold?), but I’m getting better.  Are there days when I wonder, “What have I done?  Am I really equipped to do this?”  Absolutely!  But then she will do something like say, “Mommy, I love you.  We are stuck together for ever and ever.”  And I’ll know it is going to be more than OK.

One last thing…something that I have said, believed, and signed off with for years, but that I believe with my whole heart, PRAY BIG…BELIEVE BIG…BIG THINGS HAPPEN!

God is good!

God is good!

Visit my adoption blog here.

Blogs featuring single moms:
Chosen and Dearly Loved
Expecting Something SO big From God
Kaylee’s Journey Home
My Winding Road

Single women can adopt children designated as Special Focus, see this article for more information. For questions about beginning the adoption journey as a single mom, contact the Advocacy Team or a Hague Accredited Adoption Agency.