Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Stories of YES #36 - Dear Lian's Tummy Mom

{This post is a few days late, but too beautiful not to share.}
Today is, I'm sure, a hard day for you. It's a day that was a mixture of excitement, exhaustion, joy, and pain. It was the day you birthed your son.

I'm sure you held him in your arms and maybe tears fell from your eyes as you took in the wonder of all of him. I'm sure you felt the rush of motherly love when his tiny fingers first wrapped around yours, his head on your chest.

I'm sure that six years ago, you felt the joy of motherhood and I'm sure your heart was troubled when the doctors broke the news that the little one you carried under your heart for nine months had all the markers of Down syndrome.

For five weeks, you stretched our your time with him, savoring every moment, every smell, every kiss on his tiny forehead. We may never know the pressures you were under, but I know you loved him. We may never know what difficult life circumstances held you hostage from motherhood.

We may never know.

What we do know is that you left him in a place that was completely safe, you wished him a good life, you wrote that "he is my angel" and you begged the reader to take care of him, to give him milk and keep him warm. You said he was a "good baby".

We do know that.

The door of that baby drop box must have felt the heaviest walking out that day.

I know you'll probably never read this, but if you do, I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for putting this sweet boy someplace safe. Somewhere where he'd be found and cared for until his forever family could get him.

I want you to know that he is treasured, loved and adored. I want you to know that I wish that this cruel world didn't take away all of your choices or help. I wish you could know him, all his funny ways. I wish you could have the jewels of his arms around your neck. I really do. I know that I am only second best.

I want to thank you for giving him life, for loving and caring for him until you had to make that hard choice.

He is an incredible little man and has forever changed us in all the best ways.

So, today, as we celebrate his birthday, I hope that somehow you know that he is safe and loved beyond measure.

I pray that your heart will rest in that even through the undeniable veil of aching that it holds. I'm thinking of you today, and praying for you.

Lian's Adoptive Mama
- Cady Driver

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Stories of YES #35 - The Ripple Effect of Adoption

Matthew 18:5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me.”

"God had always laid adoption on my heart as a future for my family. I just didn’t know who, what, where, when, or why. My husband, Joe, had always looked at me like I had grown three heads when I have, on a few seldom occasions, mentioned it in the past. So I asked God, if this is your plan for us, please make it abundantly clear.

But then October 2017… Our pastor’s sermon was a new challenge and initiative for the church to have a heart for the orphan, at-risk moms, and the unborn! As we walked out of the service, I told Joe that I thought we needed to pray about adopting. To my GREAT shock, he said okay! That sermon started on us on a crazy, wonderful, difficult, and trying adventure.

I have often laughed, because Joe’s initial thoughts on another kiddo were SO strange and funny to me - but true. He said, “You know I would have been fine with no kids. Being DINKs (Double Income, No Kids) was a wonderful life, but you said we need to start our family and have a child. And we did. Then, you said that we couldn’t have an only child, so we had another son. You know these boys are our life now. We’ll just love one more the same way.” With that, we began our adoption journey.

When I found out that China was still allowing adoptions, my heart immediately went to China. You see, my first cousin, Jessie, was adopted from China in 1998, and I had the amazing opportunity to travel with my aunt on her adoption trip. What a joyful event it was to experience the group adoption of eight baby girls! I have never forgotten the awe of seeing my sweet baby cousin for the first time.

Imagine how special it was that Jessie had her first trip back to China (twenty years later) to celebrate the adoption of our daughter, Paige Qi. These two beautiful Chinese gals have a very special bond!

Our precious little girl came home to us one year ago. She has been such a sweet blessing to us this past year. Without stepping out in faith and saying yes, we would have missed SO much joy!!"

 - Amanda Turner

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Stories of YES #34 - Learning to be humble

When I was pregnant with my first biological child, I wasn’t apprehensive at all. I was so elated that I was becoming a mother. It was all I’d wanted to do since I was very young, and it was a time in my life when I knew I was right where I was supposed to be. I knew it would be hard and that there would be difficult times, but I felt a real peace about it. I even had grand ideas about my labor and delivery and what that would look like - and then I had a 19-hour labor that ended with a broken tail bone and the most beautiful baby boy I’d ever seen - a beautiful baby boy who did not know how to sleep for many years. But those memories faded quickly, and the baby grew, and soon we had baby #2 on the way.

This time I became cocky as pregnancy was “old hat” now. I was not a newbie anymore - I had experience. I went into the delivery room still feeling cocky. But when the Pitocin kicked, and reality set in…I got scared. I realized that, instead of spending the last nine months humbly looking towards this birth, I had been cocky and proud. Of course, I had prayed for my baby and had prepared for her, but the actual birth part? I had forgotten about that. And the first few weeks of no sleep? I kind of forgot about that too. All of a sudden, I remembered that this was going to be HARD. But then I held that beautiful baby girl and took a deep breath, and we moved forward into those hard days and years and formed our new normal once again.

I always compare our first two adoptions in much the same way. The first time I felt so much peace, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt we were right where God wanted us to be. I was willing to learn, and read, and talk, and listen. And when our daughter came home, it is was hard, but it was such a sweet time. It was later that things got hard - really hard - and then better and then hard again. Just like life!

As we jumped into our second adoption (only six months after coming home), I became cocky - like with my second pregnancy - because I knew this process. This was, once again, “old hat” for me. When people asked me the questions, and I knew the answers. I enjoyed being on “that side” of the process. Even when we got to China I was overly confident even up to the very moment before we received our daughter. And then someone in our group gasped and said “Stacy! There she is!” And sure enough, there she was - a teenager who couldn’t speak English, and who used a wheelchair. The panic began to set in, and I suddenly realized how hard this was, and this had the potential to be so much harder. I started to cry, mostly on the inside (the outward sobbing would come later). I squelched the urge to run. I wanted to scream, “WAIT! I need more time...I’m not ready yet!” But much like labor, the time had come, and there was no turning back. At the end of the day I had a beautiful new daughter. And like holding a newborn baby and wondering what in the world to do, I sat in a hotel room across from a sweet, scared teenager who was also screaming on the inside, “WAIT! I’m not ready yet!” Bless her heart, instead of a meal of Chinese food she’d been accustomed to, we ended up eating instant oatmeal in our room and cold pizza from Pizza Hut. We were all so overwhelmed. But as day one became day two, and then day three, we began to miraculously feel our way, and we began to communicate! Our relationship moved from a newborn phase to a toddler phase and so on. It’s still a process of two steps forward and sometimes one step back - sometimes ten steps back. Each day we wake up and say yes to each other and yes to being a family again, even on the hard days.

Two years ago, as we started our third adoption process, I experienced a new feeling - the same joy and peace of saying yes when we were asked to, and the same fun of expecting a new family member, but now also the deep understanding of the need to be humble. The need to pray for the specifics of what I knew we would need upon coming home, and knowing of the hard to come but also understanding that each day will bring growth and change and what things look like today is not what they will look like in a year. It is a joy to talk with new and expecting adoptive parents and share what I’ve learned both about the process and the coming home and the varying experiences we’ve had parenting our children. My attitude is much different now though - I’m no expert - I’ve still got so much to learn. I’m thankful to the Lord for His mercy on my prideful heart and for teaching me daily - through my children - to lean not on my understanding, but instead to follow him. 

- Stacy Melton Huff

Friday, December 13, 2019

Stories of YES #33 - Clinging to Light

It’s been one year without you today. It still doesn’t feel real. Our hearts are still torn wide open exactly like they were the day you left. They will never be whole again. You brought more joy in our lives than we thought possible. You showed us the miraculous side of adoption, where love is not restrained by blood or DNA. You showed the hard side as well, where we saw the effects of trauma and loss on someone who seemed almost too tiny to be able to handle that great weight.
We understood just how significant your complex heart was. We KNEW the words “non-correctable” and “palliative surgery” went with your diagnosis. And honestly that knowledge made the leap of faith harder. It was a medical need we had adamantly said we could never handle. But we felt the Lord’s nudge and we clung to the HOPE of His healing. And we know that He did heal you, completely. But none of that makes losing you any easier.
You were worth every ounce of pain that we experienced and are still experiencing. You always will be. We know that we will be grieving you the rest of our lives and that our hearts will always be forever broken. But you taught us that LOVE is far greater than fear…or even death. Because of you we are braver than we ever thought we could be. Because of you we had the courage to adopt your baby sister, when all her unknowns would have terrified us before.
Because of you we still cling to the HOPE of God’s promises. Only now it’s the hope of our heavenly home. Where all of our pain will be undone. Where we will all be right and whole again just like we should be.
“The light shines in the darkness and the dankness will not overcome it” –John 1:5
We cling to that light with our whole hearts. Every day is one day closer.
We love you Obi…..and we always will.

- Sarah Holmes

Stories of YES #32

These special moments mean so much to me. Why? Because I could have easily missed them. When I felt a pressing on my heart to adopt again and to welcome a 5th child (3rd adoption) into our family I was so fearful. I felt overwhelmed. I felt unqualified. I felt a lack of resources. I felt tired. BUT God. He did not give up on me. Was I still afraid? YES! But we offered our yes and saw a miraculous plan unfold before our eyes.

This child is the sweetest gift! I could never imagine a better fit for our family. Our little caboose. The one that gives us kisses, snuggles and sings Mickey Mouse Clubhouse every day. He is a joy and delight. I see him thriving and growing. He blooms before our eyes. All children need to know the love of a family. We for SURE have some hard days and hard things we walk through... but we walk through them together.

If you feel a nudge to welcome a child into your home through foster care or adoption please reach out to me. I can answer your questions or connect you with someone who can. Don’t let fear hold you back another day. Ask questions and explore what things might look like if you said YES.

- Rainer Lowman

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Stories of YES #31 - Trust

"You're the first person I trusted." Brooklyn spoke these words to me earlier this week as she wrapped her arms around me for a tight hug. She laid her head against me as the power of God's amazing grace and love filled me.
I have done nothing to deserve the blessing and opportunity to raise her. God's redeeming miracles carried her almost 8,000 miles to be mine, but most importantly, His.
On Thanksgiving Day, we each spoke words of thankfulness and prayer. We all shared thoughts and what we were most thankful for at this time. I enjoyed hearing what every family member spoke, but my children and grandson bring an extra blessing to my ears and heart.
Brooklyn was quieter than normal and asked to be given more time to think of what she wanted to articulate. Although she has been with us for four years now, and she has learned a lot of vocabulary, sometimes it is still difficult to find the correct words to convey thoughts and emotion.
As we went around the table, I was blessed to hear the thoughts of my special loved ones. When we came back to Brooklyn, she simply stated, "I am thankful to not live there anymore." I already knew everything that was on her heart. She didn't need to say more. She tells me every day how much she loves us, her family. She shows us everyday in her words and actions. Every day she tells me how much she loves that I am her mommy.
Adoption has done more than touch our life. Adoption has reshaped our life. I pray that through our family and others you know, you have seen God at work. Adoption even changed our son as He recognized God's hand. Adoption showed me that although there would not be a need for it in a perfect world, God blesses in many ways through the act of adoption. His own son was sent into the world and raised through adoption. God's family is built through adoption.
I know we must recognize and respect the history and background of an adopted child, but we must also live in the present and future by raising them through Him, and allowing them to find their true worth and story through Him. He knows them intimately. He loves our child and has placed them with us for a purpose.
On this last day of November and Adoption Awareness Month, I pray that if your heart has ever been stirred to find out more about adoption, that you will feel free to ask me questions. Most of all, I ask you to open your heart through prayer, to what God might be calling you to do, whether it is adopting or assisting someone else in the process through prayer, assistance financially or in running errands, caring for their children during respite, or in whatever way you can help.
In Brooklyn fashion, let me say, "You are the first people I have trusted with the stories of my precious girls." I pray you have seen God at work. We're a simple family in love with a BIG God who has blessed us beyond measure simply because He is good. He took what little we had to offer and multiplied it beyond our dreams."
- Terri Hitt

Monday, November 25, 2019

Stories of YES #30 - The Shift of "What if"

"The doubts are real. And I think we had every one of them...
*What if it’s too much?
*What if her needs are more than we can handle?
*What if we can’t afford it?
*What if it negatively affects the children we already have?
*What if we don’t have time for one more child?
*What if she doesn’t attach to us?
*What if she needs to live with us forever?
*What if we never have time for us?
*What if it’s too hard?
*Are we equipped for this??
*Can we do this??
But then one day my husband said to me, “But what if we don’t listen to God’s call?” At that moment, the questions didn’t go away, but they changed...
*What if this little girl never gets to know what it means to be a part of a family?
*What if she never has someone to tuck her in at night, to hold her and to tell her about Jesus?
*What if she never gets to hear someone tell her she is beautiful, wonderfully made and so very loved?
*What if our children never get to experience the joy of having a sister with Down Syndrome?
*What if we miss out on the chance to take a leap of faith and let God change us?
*What if we trust the God that told us to do this, to carry us through?
After having Annie in our arms for a year, sometimes one question still lingers in my mind - what if we hadn’t said yes? And I look at this little girl - my daughter - and I cannot even IMAGINE our world without her now."

- Joy Pollock