Freedom in Adoption

 

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One or two days out of the week when I am off work I get to walk our son to the bus stop.  Walks and car rides seem to always be the best opportunities to have meaningful conversations with my kiddos.   Our son essentially talks non-stop.  Sometimes he says a lot of words and I  still have no clue what he is actually talking about.  We have a lot of work to do on the who, what, where, and why content in his verbal communication.  There are times though he says things that are so very profound.  He continues to teach me how to have good listening skills as I work to teach him how to communicate well.

He likes to talk about when he first came to our home for respite care as a child stuck in the foster system.   Many times he has said he knew this would be where he would stay, his forever home.  I don’t remember what led up to the statement that struck me so deeply, but it was probably some of his reminiscing that he loves to do.  The statement that has caused me to ponder so deeply was “Now that I am adopted I am free!”

In the last six months our guy has made greater strides than he had in the fourteen months prior.  His reading has really improved, he keeps his room clean, self control, and maturity have also tremendously improved.  Of course with ten years to catch up we still have a way to go, but the leaps and bounds have been amazing.

Even with deep empathy sometimes it is hard to imagine what a child in Foster care truly goes through.  As a family licensed in Foster Care there are times we feel “bound by the system”  so I can only imagine how the children feel.   Not knowing where and who you will live with. To have so many emotions that you can’t even begin to understand.  Fear, anxieties, lack of trust.  People and a government that should have your best interest in mind continuously letting you down.

For our son adoption has meant freedom.  Freedom to let oneself love. Freedom to trust. Freedom from the worry of where you will lay your head each night. Freedom from rules that “regular” kids don’t have. Freedom to let go of fear. Freedom to get to hang out with friends.  Freedom to have your picture taken. Freedom to say “this is my home”.  Freedom to say I belong. Freedom to say I am loved.  Freedom to have structure.  Freedom to have loving discipline because someone really wants you to succeed.  Freedom to say I am wanted…  I could go on and on.  Until he said those words I really hadn’t realized what a release of chains of bondage adoption can bring.

It is such a reflection of what being adopted into God’s family through faith in Jesus Christ brings.  When we give our heart and life to Jesus He gives us freedom.  Freedom from our own sins that bind and consume us.  Freedom from worry when we trust in Him.  Freedom knowing that no matter what happens in life we have an eternal home.  Freedom to love and know that we are SO VERY LOVED.  Freedom knowing that He will provide. Freedom to embrace His loving discipline because He wants us to succeed.  Freedom in knowing that God indeed wants us even when all else has failed and forsaken us.

Ephesians 1:5, NLT: “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”

John 8:36

36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Galatians 5:1

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Ephesians 3:12

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Adoption Day (More difficult to Write About Than I Thought)

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Adoption day for our 11 year old son was back on March 4th.  Honestly it has been hard to put words to the emotions that go with what his adoption means.  Adoption represents a new beginning especially for a child that is older.  Adoption also represents loss.  My husband and I are honored to step in to meet the need, but there is a sadness I feel as well.   As I have gotten to know birth family there is a deeper connection and commitment that has come along with the adoption.

For our son I have sensed a much decreased anxiety.  There is a reassurance there that I have not seen.  There is also a new level of testing.  While there is relief in the permanence my heart still hurts.  It is so hard to explain this depth of sadness.  I grieve for the loss he has endured.   I grieve the brokenness that brought him into our lives and to our family.   God had a plan of two people, his birth mother and father, to bless him with.  God entrusted them with his care.  Life happens and choices in life happen.  Life choices that can support  strong families or destroy families, marriages, and lives.  My heart grieves for all of this.  We live in a broken world and my personality type wants to fix everything.  I can not fix anything or anyone, but can point to the one who can.  Not everyone will choose healing.

God created the world sinless and good.  He allowed mankind to have freewill.  To choose to love and obey.  The fall happened when the first man and woman sinned.  The curse of sin has run rampant since that time.  The vicious cycles of sin destroy families and lives again and again.  Adoption is a pathway that can break a cycle.

The greatest breaking of a vicious sin cycle is the adoption into God’s family.   When we admit we have a sin problem. When we have a personal encounter with the healing grace and forgiveness.   The healing only comes from God’s one and only Son Jesus Christ.  Following Jesus with our lives and turning from our selfish sinful pride.  Only then can we be adopted into God’s family and find true healing of our hearts and lives.

People say “you are so good” for doing the foster care thing.  No, I am not.  God pounded on my heart for nearly seven years before I finally submitted to making that phone call.  It has been every bit of hard that I knew it would be.   God has been my strength through all of it.  The full dependency I have had to place on him has been priceless.  I have gotten to see him in a way I never would have had I not answered this calling.  Our family has been strained beyond more than I ever thought we could endure. God has been right here with us.  He has been the sword and shield with every head to head battle with the devil himself!!  My weaknesses have been thrown before me daily.  God has used my weakness to give incredible strength that he gives through full submission and humility.  As things have actually gotten a bit easier as permanency goals have been met I find myself missing the desperation.  The desperate cries to God to help me please!!!  Oh this is just a short break I am sure.  There will be future valleys and pain.  What he has brought our family and myself through has only prepared for the next battle.  The hard places in life are not something I wish for.  Now I have a much greater understanding of why God allows hard things and calls us to hard things in this life.  The closeness, the relationship with my God and my best friend is beyond anything there is to offer in this world we live in.  Do you know him?

John 1:12-13 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God- children not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

Galatians 4:4-5 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.

Romans 8:14-17 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Crossing Bridges Foster/Adoption

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Right after our first foster placement came to live with us construction was started to rebuild a bridge on one of our main roads to town.  First the shoulder was repaved on one side so that the bridge could go down to a single lane.  After the shoulder was deemed drivable drivers could  cross on the narrow side as the other half of the bridge was torn down.  A stop light was set up so that two lanes of traffic could safely go down to the one. This at times added at least three minutes to our commute.  Our new family member has been the one to openly voice the most complaints about this inconvenience.  After months one side was finally completed then it was time to open the new side and tear down the old half that remained.   This project has taken seven months.  Both lanes are now new, smooth, and much safer to cross over.

The bridge has been very symbolic to me of the bridges we have been crossing as a family.  As we cross bridge after bridge with this life that has been so wounded it has been hard, narrow,  felt a bit scary, has taken a lot of waiting, has taken patience, and with each cross to the other side there has been relief for all of us.   It is amazing that as the bridge of this road neared completion we were finally starting to really see progress with this young life.  It has started with the mom relationship first.  Now as I give instruction and guidance I am not met with all the resistance.  There is not the scary feeling of walking along and the bridge is just going to completely crumble beneath.  As the foundation was laid for this new bridge structurally there has been a foundation being laid relationally in our home.

The relationship and understanding between the child and I is now trickling out to the rest of our family.  There are more glimmers of hope that this wounded person is starting to heal and gain control of the chaos within.  We are seeing more and more of who the real child is.  There are more and more opportunities to praise, compliment, and encourage. We are getting to see the awesome potential that God placed into this human being long before he was even born.  We have many, many, MANY more bridges to cross.  Winter is coming and the actual bridge might get icy.  With the child there will be slippery times ahead as well.

No matter what the future holds with “forever family” status.  We are now all forever in each other’s hearts.  There is a strong foundation that has been laid.

Family and relationships are tough no matter what.  Being a parent is tough no matter what.  My motto has now become cross each bridge with care and confidence.  God does provide the way to cross and there is blessing on the other side.

The cross Jesus died on for us was the toughest bridge ever to be constructed.  God made a way between us and Him.  The cross is the bridge.  Once we have chosen  to trust Jesus and cross over that bridge there is tremendous blessing and relief on the other side.

There are always bridges in life to cross, but with the foundation of Jesus they are secure and we can move forward with confidence.

Foster/Adopt #3

The movie “War Room”, many scriptures, sermons, bible studies, and our first two foster parenting classes have inspired me to start praying in our spare room for the potential children and families whose lives God has planned for us to help through the resource of that room.  Words flow the best for me when I sit and type them out.  My plan of action is to write my prayer for all future children and families as well as write individual prayers as God introduces new people into our lives. Also to frame and hang this prayer in this room and the individual prayers for the current resident of the room. These prayers with permission of caseworkers and families I hope to give to the children and their parents so that they can keep them and know that someone is praying for them.  I won’t be able to share the individualized prayers, but I can share the first prayer publically.

Dear God.  Thank you for the blessing of bringing our small family together.  Thank you for our home and for the resource of this extra bedroom.  The circumstances of how we have this room alone is a lesson in how short and precious life is.  God you have helped me to understand that you created every human being and each child is a gift directly from you.  Help us as a family help every child that comes to live with us to realize that they are first and foremost a very precious gift with a purpose you have a plan for.  Help us to come alongside the parents to realize this gift and to learn how to best care for them.  You created the establishment of family and our prayer is that you use our family to help bring restoration to families that are broken.  Depending on your plan Lord our family is willing to grow when restoration is not possible in families that are in need.

No matter where each child’s permanent home will be, I pray that they will know that they will always have a permanent place in our hearts.  Most of all God I pray that they will know that you provide the greatest permanence and home.  Your desire is to have us all in your family.   Your love is everlasting, unconditional, sacrificial, self less, and pure.  Please help us all to love the way that only you can love.  Help us to have kindness in only the way you can show kindness.  To have goodness in your pure form of goodness.  To have joy that only you can provide.  To be patient at all times which is only possible through you God.  To have a peaceful home and live in the way that only you provide true peace.  To be faithful to you and to each other as you are ALWAYS faithful to us.  To show gentleness just as Jesus gave us the example of gentleness.  To always control ourselves, our emotions, our selfish tendencies, and our words with a strength that you can only provide.  Dear God use this room, our home, and our lives to make a difference.  I love you dear precious Heavenly Father and in your Son’s name Jesus I pray.  Amen

Our Life Really isn’t Ours for the Taking, but for the Giving (foster/adopt a child 1)

I have been debating on whether to write on this topic or not.  Due to privacy I am not really sure how much of this journey I will be able to openly share.  Realizing that my own struggles could very well be the struggles of someone else out there is the draw I have to write and share what God is doing in the life of our family and within my own heart.  The call to foster and/or adopt has been weighing on Mike and I for around six years now.  During this time I have picked up at least a dozen packets from various agencies I kept a lot of them for a while then finally pitched them.   I have questioned several people that have gone down the road of fostering/adopting and some who have adopted from other countries.  The cost of time and finances has been my largest road block.  The rest of the family has actually been open without hesitation the whole time.  It has been my own selfish struggle.

We now have the resource of an extra bedroom our kids have become older, more mature, and much easier as far as actual care.  In fact we are getting close to being “done” as far as parenting goes.  Though one is never really “done” when a parent.   A few years ago we actually were going to apply for a license to foster, but we couldn’t figure out how to even get the classes worked in with our busy schedule so I easily gave up.

Well the topic reared its head again.  The last few weeks everywhere I turned the topic of fostering children was coming up.  I literally was feeling like God was beating me over the head with it.  So much so a week ago Sunday I actually was arguing with God.  Yes, I love Jesus, I have surrendered my life to following Jesus, but unfortunately I am still just a sinner saved by grace.  I yelled at him “I keep asking you what I need to give up in my life and you are telling me to add another human being or beings?!?!?!”  “Lord I am so tired I don’t know how I can!!!”  Then we go to church that evening and our youth pastor’s sermon was on James 1:26-27 “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.  Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”  The entire sermon brought tremendous conviction and was an answer to my ridiculous prayer/temper tantrum from earlier that day.   God’s answer was this…”You take this step of faith, trust me, I will provide what you need, it will cost you, but that’s ok because I am here and have a plan”.   Every reason I have not to foster children in need is purely selfish.

Needless to say we have started the process to be licensed.  Nothing will happen over night.  There will be ups and downs.  It will be a journey, but it’s not about us.  It is not about me.  My life is not my own.  I had to laugh that one truly does have to pay to be nice in this world.  Today I took a state form to my physicians office to have filled out stating that I am physically capable of caring for children.  There was a charge to have the form filled out.  I will be honest in saying that this caused a minor irritation in me, but a reminder that it does cost to do what is right.   In this life we can give all that we have or we can be takers.  One day when I meet God face to face will he see a life that gave everything?