The Blessing of Non-Adoptive Supporters

December 21, 2015 adopting as a single mom, Beyond Adoption, December 2015 Feature - Beyond Adoption, Desiree, other ways to care for the orphan, working mom 0 Comments

This month we are focusing on ways other than adoption to support orphan care. As my family had the amazing opportunity to have a non-adoptive momma and dear-dear friend travel with us to China, I wanted to highlight her ministry to us as an adoptive family and the scores of people that supported her so she could support me.


Q: How did you get involved with Isaac’s adoption?

A: Desiree had talked with me a number of times about how she knew that the Lord had called her to adopt. It came up in conversations every now and then but it had been clear that it wasn’t the time yet. I remember the turning point from “this will happen someday” to “now is the time” very clearly. We were walking together through a neighborhood garage sale, talking about Desiree’s heart for adoption and wondering when the Lord’s timing would be. I felt the Lord stir my heart that NOW was the time to move forward and that the logistics that Desiree was concerned about would be taken care of.

I encouraged her to push aside her concerns and to just listen to the Holy Spirit. This was the moment that I wasn’t any longer just listening to my friend’s heart, but felt the call on my own heart that I would also be adopting whoever this sweet one would be. This little person would be my family member too and I was beginning to feel an urgency; now was the time.

When Desiree officially decided to move forward, she put together a meeting of close friends and family. There she asked us all if we would be willing to partner with her by surrounding her with prayer, parental support and by being there to actively invest in the emotional, physical and spiritual well-being of her child. I had already begun to feel the Lord’s call towards this child and he affirmed it again in my heart in this meeting. Blood ties did not matter. The Lord was already beginning to form the spiritual ties of family. I was going to have a new niece or nephew and simply could not wait to meet him or her!

Personal note: It’s funny how two people remember the same thing differently! I remember the neighborhood garage sale very clearly. It had been 15 months since I had first mentioned adoption to Jessie during a casual conversation at my house. I had my own struggles with obedience during those 15 months and the Lord had literally just told my heart while garage sailing “You know, you can do all things through Me.” I knew right then I would move forward with adoption. It wasn’t 10 minutes later that Jessie turned to me (not knowing what the Lord had just told me) and said “So, are you going to do what God told you to do and adopt or not?” Yikes! What a gracious friend, uh?! *wink* The point is, God was preparing the hearts of my primary support group just as He was preparing mine. Our obedience was not dependent on each other but it was certainly linked. If my friends hadn’t been soft to the Holy Spirit’s calling to support adoption by supporting me, my son would be without Uncle Kris and Auntie Jessie and they would have missed out on the blessing of obedience.


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Q: How did God call you to go to China with us?

A: The call to go to China happened very quickly and was so exciting! It wasn’t anything I was considering and wasn’t really on my radar at all. Desiree and I were talking on the phone one evening about travel plans to China and she mentioned that she wished that there was another person that could travel with her and her mom to be a support and to take pictures. When I said that I would love to go, Desiree excitedly told me to come! I was concerned about the finances and how to pay for the trip but it had already been taken care of through fundraising. All we needed to work out was childcare for my two children (ages five and three at the time) while my husband was at work. This was no small feat but I felt the Lord tell me to go and to trust that the logistics for my family would be taken care of. I talked it over with my husband and within 30 minutes I was making plans to renew my passport!

Personal note: The Lord had already told me to fund-raise for three adults to travel, I just didn’t know who that third adult would be. I had secretly hoped that Jessie could travel with us, but with a young family I did not want her to feel any pressure or obligation to come, especially for two whole weeks!. What neither of us knew is that God was (again) working on both of our hearts to step out in faith and trust His plan was bigger than ours!


Q: What was your primary role of ‘the team’ while in China?

A: My primary role in China was to support Desiree and her new family unit. I knew that for Isaac his whole world would soon be changing and that he needed to be able to bond primarily with Desiree. While I did enjoy some sweet moments to snuggle and play with him, my main focus was to help Desiree with whatever I could so that she and Isaac could spend as much time as possible together building a foundation of love and trust. I was also there to take pictures and I certainly took a lot!

Personal note: We joked that I would take care of Isaac; my mom would take care of me and Jessie would photo-document the whole crazy ordeal! As our dedicated Team Photographer, not only for our little family, but for the other families in our travel group, she captured sweet moments that wouldn’t have been captured otherwise. Not once did I have to break my concentration off my new tiny little boy to grab a camera or take video. And because Jessie came with the heart and attitude of a missionary, her worked was blessed. Many of the photos she took while in China are actively being used by several agencies to advocate for adoption!


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Q: How did you prepare for travel, cultural issues, language, etc?

A: Aside from renewing my passport and doing all of the necessary things to get my visa, I don’t remember doing much else to prepare for the trip. I did learn a handful of Chinese words and phrases before we left.

Personal note: Jessie was an experienced traveler and culturally fluent which made our time in country easy! If you are going to have an extra person travel with you, please consider their travel and cultural skills. International travel is rough and the emotional toll of adoption is a beast. If you bring someone with you that isn’t emotionally or culturally mature your focus will be pulled away from your new child.


Q: How did your young family prepare for you to be out of country for 2 weeks?

A: To prep for my time away from my family, I put together a good amount of freezer meals and also made some videos of me reading books to my kids, so they could watch them when they missed me. I also brought two laminated stick photos of my children — Flat Noah and Flat Ellie to come with me in China. We took pictures “together” of all the places we visited with their new cousin so they could feel involved.


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Q: How many outside people did it take to ‘replace’ you as mom while in China?

A: It really took a small village of family and friends to care for my family while I was gone. My mom and multiple good friends from church took turns watching my kids while my husband was at work. They were also so sweet to send me pictures of my kids having a great time with their kids and also graciously fed my family dinner at the end of the day. In fact, I don’t think they ever used the freezer meals that I prepped!

Personal note: We tried to count how many people (all non-adoptive families) stepped up to support my mother and Jessie while they acted as missionaries to my little family… it was an impressive number! Multiple families from church cooked and babysat so Jessie’s husband could work. One friend taught Jessie how to use her camera and anticipate the best photos to take. The son-in-law of my mother’s friend mowed her lawn and watered the grass. My little brother got called in for an epic battle against a hives of bees at my mom’s house. (Vietnam was referenced in the email we received in Guangzhou!). I also had a “communications officer” in Minnesota that took care of all our Facebook and blog posts so I would only have to send one email to her every day. She also communicated with Isaac’s US pediatrician and with all of our other helpers—which included a friend filling our fridge before we came home with what we now knew were Isaac’s favorite foods and a family playing in our backyard (after they got locked out of our house) to make sure our home looked lived in for two weeks. These were ALL non-adoptive families who provided nontraditional and essential orphan care. Please don’t let anyone tell you that what you can do and offer isn’t enough! God can use a simple trip to the grocery store to minister deeply to an adoptive family.


Q: Personally, how was your heart different upon return home from China?

A: Preparing to go to China had already had an effect on my view of orphans and adoption and the need for forever families. But seeing all of the children in our travel group that were being adopted, just put more sweet faces to the world wide issue of orphans. Learning some of their stories and some of the horrific conditions of the orphanages was completely heartbreaking. knowing the heartache that these kids have experienced and knowing that there are so many more children that are waiting has me continually praying about how my family and I are to be involved in orphan care. Prepping to go to China, it was just about getting one child, Isaac. Coming home, China had open my eyes so much more to how great the need is.

Personal note: <3


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Q: What would you recommend to other non-adoptive families in supporting adoptive families?

A: My advice would be to first pray. Listen to the Holy Spirit and pray. Pray for soft hearts as new family members get to know each other and pray for healthy, loving bonds and attachments. I would also say to just be available for whatever the family needs such as meals, cleaning, or spending time with the family when they’re ready. Lastly, be patient. Take it slow with the new child, even if they are very young. Their whole world has just been flipped upside down and it takes time for them to be ready to start forming bonds outside of their immediate family.

For the first year and a half that Isaac was home, my interactions with him were mostly while he was in his momma’s arms. He knew he was safe there and he’s slowly been learning that I am safe too. Now he’s been home for over 3 years and it’s OK for me to scoop him up and tickle him and kiss his chubby little cheeks! But it has taken time, and I let our relationship grow at his and Desiree’s pace. Be patient.


Q: How do you maintain your relationship with Isaac now?

A: My family and I love that boy! We do birthdays and Christmas. We do several family get-togethers throughout the year and often get to see each other at church. Both of our families have busy schedules, but Isaac is our nephew (and cousin) and we are his auntie and uncle. We just continue to be with him and show him that we love him.

Personal note: Isaac’s relationship with his Gramma and Auntie Jessie is totally different than anyone else in our friend and family circle. He loves them deeper and I truly attribute that to their hearts for him and the ‘first imprinting’ in China (think the movie “Fly Away Home”). His new forever started with the faces of three women staring at him… two directly behind and pointing at me as the center of his new world. I love seeing them love him and he loving them back! {Funny side note — Isaac didn’t recognize Auntie Jessie without a camera in her face for about a month!}


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God put this family together!


Q: Who is your favorite Chinese nephew?

A: Easy! Isaac!


 



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