Pictures, Songs, and God’s Goodness

November 25, 2016 complex medical, developmental delays, Developmental System, encephalocele, hypothyroidism, November 2016 Feature - Then and Now 1 Comments

After several adoptions, I’ve realized there is not a “standard” Then and Now story.

We have a heart hero, a tiny miracle with the biggest and brightest joy, a precious daughter who struggles with significant PTSD, and a daughter with great needs who is a two steps forward, ten steps back – kind of girl.

Posting then and now pictures of our kiddos makes adoption seem like a rainbow and unicorns kind of journey. Then and Now pictures can give non-adoptive families a false sense that adoptive families are “saving” children.


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If you are like me and you have miracle children in your midst day in and day out… you have witnessed great struggles and deep pain that only Jesus can heal. Some moments are written on the mountain top and others are written in the valley.

The struggle, the pain, and the healing… it is the stuff miracle are made of. From years of living in an orphanage, to transitioning into a family – and for many children, multiple medical traumas – the sum of these experiences make up their sacred Then and Now photos.

…..

Timmy our tiny Heart Warrior.

He was placed in foster care in Korea at age three months. We adopted him at 21 months old. His heart was repaired in Korea, but at his first cardiology visit in the US we learned his heart was much more complex than expected. He underwent a 10 hour heart surgery for tetralogy of Fallot, and pulmonary atresia with MAPCAS. His heart is fully functioning and he now plays and runs like a healthy child would. Timmy is not so much affected by the physical scars on his heart, but the emotional trauma of abandonment still runs deep.

timmy-nhbo

There have been moments before the “then photo” that I’m not sure I could live through.

God… I am not enough for this child. Please make me enough. This pain is larger than anything I know how to deal with. Please make me enough.

God showed me how to survive the between moments through listening to praise music. When you can’t phone a friend, when it’s too much physical work to sit down to read, when you unable to come up with the words to pray…. there is always praise music.

The words, His words, have been written upon my heart through music. In the wonderful and difficult moments, my heart was trained to beat to a new rhythm.

When I look at each of my children’s Then and Now pictures a song plays in my head. It’s part of their story and my story as their mom. The songs and the pictures are etched into my memory.

A reminder of God’s goodness.
A reminder of how these hard things are faith building things.
A reminder that God is always with us in the between spaces.

For Timmy….From Adoption Day, To Surgery, and Beyond.
Our God is Greater by Chris Tomlin.

Into the darkness You shine
Out of the ashes we rise
No one like you
None like you

Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God, You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God, Our God

Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God, You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God, Our God

And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?
And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?
Then what can stand against?

…..

Savannah Joy.

She was adopted from China at age three. On adoption day she weighed ten pounds, she had only four teeth, no hair, was covered in scabies, and had no suck reflex. She was literally starving to death. She was extremely withdrawn. Her file from China stated that she had a brain cyst but after coming home, we learned that she had untreated hypothyroidism.

There were the many moments of doubt, but I drew from my previous experiences with Timmy and my doubt turned into many little Hallelujahs.

Initially I couldn’t imagine that she would have a “then picture”, but God surprised us quickly and though Savannah His Glory was displayed.

Six months ago she was diagnosed with Autism. Her story from adoption day until now has been one tiny miracle after another. Even though there have been tough moments, she shines with the brightest Joy.

For some reason her past life hasn’t seem to affect her emotional well-being. Opposite of Timmy, her health issues are the only thing that hold her back. It’s hard to even think of her being affected by her special needs because her progress has been consistent and constant.

Her joy is contagious and unspeakable. A constant Hallelujah for the things that she accomplishes and the way she lives.

savannah

For Savannah… From Adoption Day and through each of the million milestones between.
Joy To the World (Unspeakable Joy) by Chris Tomlin.

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns
That all their songs employ
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains

Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy

Joy, unspeakable joy
An overflowing well
No tongue can tell
Joy, unspeakable joy
Rises in my soul, never let’s me go

He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love
And wonders of His love
And wonders, wonders of His love

…..

Kelsey.

She was adopted from China at age five. She has cerebral palsy and she is nonverbal. On adoption day she was completely traumatized. It’s almost as if staying inside in a crib forever would have been “easier” for her.

She likes small safe places, and she loves routine. Of all our children she has taken the longest to learn to trust and to love. When she was in orphanage she could take one or two steps independently and now she walks all over the place without assistance. She has certain likes and dislikes and every day she is learning to trust and love.

Her journey to wholeness has been slow even though her pictures show a beautiful smile. Kelsey’s story has taught me patience in God’s timing. The song that is a favorite for Kelsey is more of a prayer for her. Something I hope that one day her heart with understand.

collages

For Kelsey….From Adoption Day and for each and every fear she has overcome.
Multiplied by NEEDTOBREATHE.

Your love is like radiant diamonds
Bursting inside us we cannot contain
Your love will surely come find us
Like blazing wild fires singing Your name
God of mercy sweet love of mine
I have surrendered to Your design
May this offering stretch across the skies
And these Hallelujahs be multiplied
Your love is like radiant diamonds
Bursting inside us we cannot contain
Your love will surely come find us
Like blazing wild fires singing Your name

God of mercy sweet love of mine
I have surrendered to Your design
May this offering stretch across the skies
And these Hallelujahs be multiplied

…..

Emily.

Our Emily was adopted from China at age seven. She is our two steps forward, ten steps back sweetheart.

We did not expect for her to walk or to overcome her significant delays. However with our previous adoptions, we were under the false assumption that children get better upon coming home, not worse.

Her original diagnosis was a form of spina bifida called an encephalocele. She was extremely delayed, and we knew this going in.

On adoption day we learned that she had been medicated for previous seizures. Upon coming home we learned of several new diagnoses that lead to several months of a downward spiral. Ten to twenty grand mal seizures a day, coupled with extreme self-harming behaviors.

In essence her Then and Now photos seemed to be going backwards.

Emily does indeed have an encephalocele and she is wheelchair bound. She has recently been diagnosed with an extreme seizure disorder, blindness (missing optic nerves), deafness, scoliosis, Hepatitis C, and is missing over 60% of her brain.

Sadly it took ten months to find the correct seizure medicines to stop the seizures and pain. Within that time period of getting her seizures under control she lost many skills. Seizures are extremely destructive. She can no longer swallow without aspirating and is now fed strictly through a g-tube.

Even through it all… God is still in control, and we believe His plans are good. Emily is gaining weight again and her seizures are down to just a few each week. We are thankful for the gift of Emily and being her mom has taught me to trust God in new ways each and every day.

emily-nhbo

For Emily…. From Adoption Day and through the valley.
Trust In You by Lauren Daigle

Letting go of every single dream
I lay each one down at Your feet
Every moment of my wandering
Never changes what You see

I’ve tried to win this war I confess
My hands are weary I need Your rest
Mighty Warrior, King of the fight
No matter what I face, You’re by my side

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

Truth is, You know what tomorrow brings
There’s not a day ahead You have not seen
So, in all things be my life and breath
I want what You want Lord and nothing less

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

You are my strength and comfort
You are my steady hand
You are my firm foundation; the rock on which I stand

Your ways are always higher
Your plans are always good
There’s not a place where I’ll go, You’ve not already stood

…..

Each picture, every life song, tells the story of our children moving from the darkness and into the light.

All Glory to God who is the author of each journey and the painter of Then and Now pictures.

– guest post by Amy



One response to “Pictures, Songs, and God’s Goodness”

  1. Rachel Mathetes says:

    I love how God speaks to you through song and how you have a special song for each child. I’m so sorry for all that you have to suffer along with Emily. What love. That’s all I can say. You are someone who is faithful. You are a pearl of great price!

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