Friday, December 17, 2010

Free Informational Meeting About International Adoption - Fishersville, Virginia

You are invited to an Introduction to International Adoption information meeting hosted by a family who has adopted through Children's Hope International, a non-profit adoption and humanitarian aid agency (and received pre-adoption and post-adoption services from Family Life Services).  Learn more about adopting from China, Russia, Columbia, and Ethiopia at this free meeting.

Saturday, January 22, 2011
2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Augusta County Public Library
1759 Jefferson Highway
Fishersville, Virginia  22939

If you have any questions, you may contact the host, Rachel, at 540-949-0576 or  Children's Hope International is a Member of the ECFA for Financial Standards and Hague Accredited by the Council on Accreditation. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Jump and the Money Will Appear

Have you considered adoption but feel like the financial costs involved are too overwhelming to even consider transferring your thoughts into a reality?  Do you look at adoptive families and secretly think "how in the world can they afford to adopt a child"? 

I cannot tell you the number of stories that I have heard, first-hand, from adoptive families whom I call my friends that attest to the fact that God provides.  He provides through adoption grants, interest-free adoption loans, anonymous gifts, family members' gifts, fundraisers, yard sales, selling pies & cakes, and the list goes on and on.  In providing financially for a willing adoptive family, he also provides a family to a child...and that alone is an awesome and overwhelming thought.  The following post is from Meaghan Miller's blog Living and Telling Good Stories.

34% of Christians consider adoption. The majority of them will never follow through, let alone even start—less than 1% actually. The main reason: the costs of adoption seem too overwhelming—often as much as $20,000-40,000.

When we began fundraising for our adoption, I had no idea how we would ever reach our goal of $20,000. It seemed so impossible, so far away, and yet, we are now within sight. I can’t believe it, but we are almost 60% of the way there. We have raised nearly $12,000 and we have just $8,000 to go. “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26

Joel and I have prayed from the beginning that God would use our story to inspire others to believe adoption possibly for ordinary families, not something reserved for the wealthy. We believe that there is more at stake with our fundraising than our own adoption—we are also doing this for the families that come after us. Every dollar that comes in says to another family: You don’t have to be rich and you don’t have to go into debt to respond to God’s call. You simply have to step out in faith, show up with your willingness to be creative and work hard, and trust that God will provide, one dollar at a time.

As I’ve met family after family who has adopted, whether face-to-face or through the world of social media, I have found that God provided exactly what they needed financially to adopt, literally without exception. Every story is unique, but the result is the same.

I remember seeing the first few donations come in several weeks back–$25 here, $50 there. I thought to myself, “Well, that’s great, but how in the world will we ever get to $20,000?” All I can say, somehow, it all adds up. Bottom line: God is in this!

While it may sound strange to say, I’m so thankful that Joel and I aren’t able to fund our adoption personally. In God’s providence, this piece of our story is absolutely necessary to the bigger narrative that God is writing in our family and our community. Without it, we would never be able to encourage others in the way that we can now, and our own faith would not have the chance to grow under pressure like it is at this very moment.

If you find yourself daunted by the financial obstacles of adoption, take heart. God wants to demonstrate his power through your story with HIS resources. Don’t let fear cause you to abandon a story like that for a smaller one.

Question: How have you stepped out in faith and seen God provide in ways you never imagined?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

All I Really Want For Christmas...Is A Family.

During this season of joy, giving, and family traditions, it's easy to get so wrapped up in our own holiday traditions, family conflicts, and trivial business that we forget those who have a very different experience than our own during the holiday season.  The children without families, the elderly adults with no visitors, the homeless people on the street, the families who are struggling to feed their children, and those who have experienced significant grief, tragedy, and/or loss. 

How can you reach out to those around you during this time?  Is God calling you to make a visit, prepare a meal, serve at a local shelter, show someone that you care, buy gifts for children in foster care, or expand your family through adoption?  Whatever it it...and you will never be the same

"...whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."  Matthew 25:40b

Friday, December 3, 2010

What About Their Baby Books?

“I just heard the baby’s heartbeat,” she whispered to me as she scooted in a few seats down from me in the prayer room. This mom-to-be just graduated from her first trimester and was bubbling over with these new data points on the one who would soon be her child.

As I processed those words, grief entered my heart.

I never heard Eden’s heartbeat. I didn’t see her when she was the size of a bean or a softball or even a six pound wonder waiting to be delivered. I didn’t hear her first hiccup or attend to the unspoiled cries of infancy. I didn’t get to pour prayers into her pre-natal development or celebrate the stages of her growth.

Earlier that day we watched a dear friend’s newborn. As I held her, Caleb crawled up beside me and studied her features. “Her fingers are so small, mommy. Were my fingers that small? What about Eden’s fingers?” I used this as an opportunity to talk about how his Ethiopian mommy saw him when he was that small and held him when he was newly born.

He was not visibly impacted by this, but I felt the weight of those words. Two years of his life are unknown to me. What parents can’t help but engross themselves with – the first roll, crawl, walk – is a void in his history.

So much of the year and a half that our children have been home has been about gains. We became a family. The joy of two zest-filled little ones has been seeping out of every corner of my life. They have only added to what we already had.

But what has become a staple -- life as a family of four -- has also created a safe space for all of us to begin assessing the losses. Eden wrestles with a fear of being abandoned again and Caleb’s little heart is especially tender. While they haven’t yet articulated grief over the years they weren’t in our home, the questions have started. Why couldn’t my Ethiopian mommy and daddy keep me? Why did it take so long for you to come get me? What about the other boys and girls who don’t have mommies and daddies?

And I’ve become familiar with a form of grief I didn’t anticipate. A sum total of 5 years of their lives is missing. The years which kids don’t remember (but parents memorialize) have no baby books to show for them. No locks of hair, no videos of their first steps, no knowledge of their first words. And this grieves my heart. I long for those years as if I was a parent whose child went missing for a period of time.

The only reconciliation for this grief is oftentimes the missing piece in adoption literature and research. It’s the ingredient that doesn’t show itself on double-blinded studies of children adopted post-infancy. The God of the universe promises redemption and restoration of all that is lost. His promise to Israel is also our promise: He will restore the years the locusts have eaten.

The grief that entered my heart today, at the thought of years I can’t tell stories about, is real. It’s a pain that, if at all possible, cuts even deeper than the wound of not-yet having biological children because it not only impacts me and Nate, but it touches our children. What sort of grid does a five year-old have for processing the black hole of their past? My heart hurts to anticipate when this reality will hurt her.

But what is becoming the lens through which I see our current adoption (and our future adoptions), must also be applied to this scenario.

God not only heals, but he restores. He closes up the wounds of the brokenhearted so that they are no longer.

There are two opportunities here. Eden and Caleb, and Nate and I, can come face to face with the God who penetrates those wounds; we can know Him deeper because of this. And we can walk as ones who have been healed, as if the wound was never there. It is a promise of God.

This may be a lifetime of discovery, but it’s available. What is often missed in the statistical references to adoption is the power of a God who heals. There is hope.

And so I pray to God for my children along the lines of Job, that He would not only heal those years, but restore to them twice as much as they had before. And I take my grief to His feet and say, Father, heal my heart. Heal their hearts. Use this wound to give them even more of you than they would have had if even their infant years had not been stolen.

And I wait with great anticipation, ready to memorialize His work.

Sara and her husband, Nate, are the proud parents of Eden & Caleb (pictured above) and have just begun another adoption journey.  Make sure to visit her blog Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet
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