Monday, June 27, 2011

Doctor Visits with the Element of Adoption

Some days we go through our day like any other ordinary family. Truly there are days that I hardly even think about my daughters being adopted. Then there are other days ... like trips to the doctor. Those days are always different. Sometimes it's a nurse who says really IGNORANT things about and to your child. (thankfully we have moved and no longer deal with that nurse) Sometimes it's a diagnosis or condition that creates a constant need for educating those around you and quite frankly there are times you don't want to be "educator" .... you just want to be momma. Sometimes it's the section of the paperwork that says "birth history" and you are reminded once again of all the things you frankly don't know or have an answer for.

Birth history can be a complicated one. Perhaps you know a few things that might be helpful for medical staff, yet you don't want them to broadcast those details without grace. You fellow adoptive mommas know what I speak of. While I APPRECIATE that we live in a country where we can take our children to see a doctor whenever we need to .... I do NOT appreciate some of the carelessness and treatment of some professionals. Then there are other times that you just simply do NOT know the answers to the questions on the form. In some international adoptions (even domestic) you might not even know who their birth parents were, or where exactly they were born .... let alone details of birth parent health history. And that can sting. Both for you and your child.

So what's a parent to do? Well, after a few years of adoptive parenting under my belt, my best advice is this ..... LOVE YOUR CHILD. No doubt, you're already doing that. Continue. Here are a few practical ways this can get played out.

  1. Find an adoption-friendly doctor. They ARE out there! I would add to that "qualifier" is an adoption-friendly NURSE. We had a great Pediatrician back in North Dakota. Nurse? Failed. I should have spoken up. Walked out. Whatever it took. Our daughter was an infant, so thankfully she was clueless.
  2. Advocate for your child. It doesn't matter where your child was born, the color of their skin, what insurance coverage they have, or their diagnosis. Every human being deserves the right to be treated with dignity and respect and receive excellent care. I know this should go without saying, but I'm sayin' it.
  3. Only give the details that are necessary, unless AFTER establishing a relationship and trust is built and you desire to share more. They don't need every detail of your child's life story to treat them medically. There's a difference between a "thorough" doctor and "nosy healthcare staff".
  4. Answer anything you can ahead of time, especially if your child might feel uncomfortable with 20 questions in front of them.
We are blessed now to have wonderful medical staff for our daughters. One thing we've enjoyed is having diversity in our doctors. We see a family doctor who happens to be African American. He's gentle and thorough and cares about parental insight. He's been helpful and knowledgeable about things specific to our daughter's ethnicity (ex. skin scarring as we have one with sensory issues). I love that our oldest daughter's heart doctor is neither Caucasian or AA. I want her to grow up building relationships with people from all over the globe. He has a sweet heart for adoption, as well as being excellent in his field. We are thankful.

Tomorrow we see the eye doctor for the first time. While we've seen this doctor already for our son, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at all anxious. Mostly because I think there will be some questions being addressed related to birth-parent history and this is my daughter who cares very much about every detail being spoken about around her. :) Trust me, we TALK about birth parents!! .... but it is different doing that snuggled up together and sitting in a stark office with a near stranger firing off the questions.

Adoptive families: What has been YOUR experience with your children's doctors? Have you found it to be challenging? Perhaps you are an adult who was once adopted and have faced some of the same issues now that you're out on your own. Maybe you even have some tips of your own to share. Please do so! :)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

When Darkness Comes in Marriage

When we walk the aisle and say "I Do" our heart and mind is full of nothing but dreamy and glorious things. We can't imagine that aisle being a pathway to pain, sorrow, betrayal or devastation. Oh sure, we say "In plenty and in want .... richer for poorer ..... sickness and health" ... but let's be really honest with each other here ... we can't hardly imagine that we'd face a world crashing down around us.

For some though, that is what came later. Perhaps the first month, maybe 3, 5 or 10 years into it. What THEN? What is a person to do when they feel there is no one to turn to .... when all hope fades into the far off distance? What happens when your very best friend can no longer be trusted? That friend you stood before the Lord with and vowed every part of your being to. Maybe you know all too well what I speak of. Or maybe you have a loved one that does.

Betrayal whether through internet porn, a gambling addiction, alcoholism, or a fleshly affair .... they all bring destruction in a marriage. It can leave the other spouse feeling abandoned, defrauded, helpless, paralyzed, destroyed .... fill in the blank. Darkness often overtakes you and it seems the moment might come you won't know how to take another breath. Or maybe wish you wouldn't.

I've had the absolute privilege of walking with a lot of families, including many adoptive families. Nothing grieves my heart quite as deep as when a friend faces what I've described. I have come to know that the ONLY thing I have to offer her is the Hope of Christ. HE is the only one that can bring light to such darkness.

The other day I was checking in with a sweet friend. She's a fellow adoptive momma and I just love her. I actually got to meet two of her precious kiddos before I ever met her in real life. What a fun blessing! I was excited to hear back from her, yet was a bit anxious unsure of how things were working out. You see she had been walking through a long and messy trail of darkness in marriage. Yes, this even happens to "cream of the crop" families. She had every reason to give up. Countless issues to just walk away from. I had prayed and prayed for this sweet friend, yet just wasn't sure what the outcome would be. Reading her update just brought me to TEARS. She shared in heartfelt honesty how hard the journey was, yet that she was looking to the Lord and saw hope again. The road ahead is gonna be a difficult one, but I know that God is going to bring BEAUTY from these ashes. He promises to bind up the brokenhearted. To set captives free. To bring LIFE.

Isaiah 40:30-31 comes to mind as I think about my friend and her precious family.

"Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
the those that WAIT ON THE LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar with wings like eagles; they will run and not faint."

I am so thankful that my friend chose to look to her Heavenly Father rather than close the door on Hope. I have full confidence that the Lord is going to use her family MIGHTILY to bring hope to other hurting marriages.

Are you needing to look towards Hope? Are you in need of waiting on the Lord to renew your strength? Maybe you have a friend that needs you to pray her through the depths of darkness and despair. We are often so busy with our lives that we don't stop to really care. When darkness comes in marriage we're in need of a light-bearer. Will you be a light-bearer?

Friday, June 24, 2011

What are Little Boys {Being} Made Of?

As a momma of three sons, I care a lot about little boys. Not just "little" boys though .... I care even more about who they become as they near adulthood. What I've concluded over the years is that it matters what happens in the early years.

Recently we had a little boy over for the day. And it really got me thinking .... "What are little boys {being} made of today?". It started out simple, sort of. I peered outside to be sure all was well and saw the little boy playing with my little girl. Seeing their arms swinging through the air made me do a "double-take". They obviously weren't "fighting", but rather "playing". So I inquired .... "What are you doing?". "Playing Star Wars", was the answer. HUH?, I thought. So the mean 'old fashioned/uncool' mom in me said ..... "No, not Star Wars". The little guy says ... "How about Indiana Jones???". HUH? .... how does one play Indiana Jones, anyway.? My kids haven't even seen the movie. "Nope", was my answer. "How about Batman!!!???". My heart kinda broke inside. It was obvious that is all the little boy even thought of to play. Finally I said ... "How about like play catch or tag?!!!". :)

My mind drifted back to my years of raising little boys. How is it that we've drifted so far from "real life" play? Why is it that we have a growing culture of young men that often don't know how to relate to society and engage in meaningful relationships and be prepared to hold down jobs and care for their families? Is this coincidence? I'm not 100% sure. REAL LIFE calls for men who are prepared to WORK HARD to provide for their families ... not just be immersed in video games, movies and an imaginary world.

What happened to little boys digging in the dirt and making pretend forts and playing for hours with a pile of matchbox cars or a fun train set?

I'm not saying that everything about the above examples are bad, but I am saying that what I see all too often is really alarming. Our world is in need of little boys to grow up to know how to work hard and help to care for those around them. We need strong leaders who are grounded in truth with a heart of compassion for the hurting. We need men who will stand for justice and who take responsibility for their actions. We need men who are not afraid to sweat while still having a servant heart to tend to a crying baby when needed.

Moms of little boys ... I would love to hear from you. What are some ways you are cultivating these things in your little men? What are YOUR little boys {being} made of?

{photo compliments of a couple little boys that live down the road}

One day it'll all be over and you'll be sending them out in the big world. Will they be ready to embrace real life and not just a fantasy?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Segregation in Adoption

Now and then it comes to the surface with a bit of sting ... segregation in adoption. After our move to central Illinois we found out about a wonderful gathering of families that join together for an evening of fun, food and fellowship. Their common bond? All of the families have adopted {or are in process of adopting} from Ethiopia. I was really excited! My first thought was for my precious 4 yr old (at the time) and how thrilled she'd be to join together with children that looked like her. But you see .... if she was the only one in our family with brown skin, she wouldn't qualify to attend. That hit me. Hard. And I honestly didn't know what to make of what I was even feeling. Her little sister (2 at the time) could really care less what color children's skin is ... she just wanted to be sure Momma and Daddy were staying close by. However, it is her being in our family that "qualify" us to be part of this group. And so we went. It was wonderful!! We met some amazing families who had traveled a similar journey. There's a common bond in adoption. In a way it's like gathering with women who have just shared a birth experience. They get the pain, the wait, the longing, the unknown. Even moreso it is with adoptive families. They GET IT. And THAT is a HUGE blessing.

But there is another side to the equation. A side that has been stirring in my heart for some time that concerns me as I observe the adoption community. It's a side I wrote about in "A Tale of Two Adoptions". It actually took TWO posts .. the second one is HERE. At times there seems to be some underlying segregation.
Take my daughters for example. They both have brown skin. Both adopted. Both have faced loss and brokenness. Both rode airplanes home to FAMILY. Both have had to learn to be part of a family that looks different than their heritage. Both have learned to sit through a white momma learning to do their ethnic hair. YET, as we talked about our fun plans to get to attend the adoptive family gathering this weekend, the oldest (now 6) said to me .... "Momma, are all the children from Ethiopia?". "Yes ...", I replied (unsure of where this was going). Next she asked ... "Are any of the Texas people gonna be there?". You see, just as we have instilled in our youngest (now 4) to know about her birth place and be proud of where she's come from ..... we have also done the same with our spunky Texan babe ... born on US soil. When we attend such events, other families just "assume" often that both of our girls are from Ethiopia. Yet in reality, here in this area if we didn't have our youngest daughter, our other daughter would not even have a diverse adoption gathering to attend. Yet she has the SAME needs.

Am I saying having an adoption gathering based on country is wrong? No, I'm not. It is a huge blessing to gather with other families who have traveled to a country that we also traveled to. They have seen some of the same sights ... smelled some of the same smells ... trecked a similiar, but often unique path to their children. We are THANKFUL to be able to gather with them.

Even still, the "momma of a little brown Texan girl" in me aches at times. Where is HER fanfare? The last time I checked there really wasn't a big crowd standing up saying what a fabulous heritage African Americans have endured here in the US. The history books paint a different reality. One that also needs to be graciously taught to my daughter. She's my one with a personality that craves diversity. I'm thankful she gets to attend this gathering .... even if it's because of her sister. She'll probably even let them all know {boldly} about her home state. "Everything's BIG in TX .... 'cept Me!" is one of her favorite little facts. ;)

I am equally thankful that this precious girl gets to be part of a special gathering from people of her homeland. As I see their faces I am reminded that these are children that no longer lay in orphans' beds, but instead are embraced by families. They no longer have to wait in hopes of food. They no longer lie in cribs, wet, without diapers. As you watch them run and play, you can't help but realize they are not just a statistic .... but they are each a special creation of God, born with a unique purpose.

Recently we had the privilege of spending a few days with a very special family. They are also an adoptive family. As a passerby, you might not even notice. They too know loss and grief and pain and brokenness. They too know about redemption and sacrifice. And to an even greater depth, have two of their precious kiddos had to learn what it means to be part of a family. I was reminded to be careful to not segregate in the adoption community. We have so much we can learn from each other. We need to walk alongside one another being ready to encourage and strengthen and share each other burdens when the weight is heavy. We need to be willing to stand in the suffering of our children and our friends' children and not leave them to walk alone. We need to remind each other of TRUTH, when the lies come in to steal away the JOY the Lord intended.

I'm meeting more and more adoptive families here in central IL. God is doing a beautiful work here and we cannot wait to see what He has for this little corner of the world. It is our deep burden that the church will rise up and answer the cries of the orphan. Not because it's the right thing to do, but because of what Jesus has already done for us. HE is the one to truly minister to the needs of the orphan ... whether that child is across the world or waiting alone in a hospital room here in the US or caught up in the court/foster care system. We are only vessels that He uses. We are NOTHING apart from Him. Food, clothing and even a family can't "fix" the needs of the orphan. Their needs go so much deeper than that. In reality, they are not much different than ourselves. We are often just so blinded by our true need .... our need for Him.

What has been your experience in the adoption community? Have you too felt the subtle threads of segregation? Do you sometimes feel isolated and alone? I would love to hear your story.

Someday ... oh and how I long for the day .... there is a coming a time that all of God's children will stand TOGETHER with no separations and praise Him. Children with broken bodies from disease and abuse and neglect will have NEW BODIES. There will be NO more tears ... NO more pain. I know some of you are walking in the dark places and need that reminder. Do not lose heart. Today is just a small part of the picture.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Reality vs. What People Say

We're about seven years or so into the adoption journey. I continue to be amazed by the crazy things that people say. About three years ago I wrote about that here "Things People Say".

It still makes my head spin when people say:

  • "Can I just have one of yours?"
  • "You don't mind if I just keep her, do ya?"
  • "You really don't need two ... how 'bout I just take one?"
It's evident in the humorous and flippant tone that the person is in NO way counting the cost. I don't just mean the cost of adoption. Do they really have ANY idea what adoption has meant for our family? Do they really want to know what the process of separating needs and wants was? I am GLAD those choices were made! Yet I also am aware they were choices. There were sacrifices. My children have known them also. They chose joyfully. They didn't pout and complain when there was no second vehicle to go and do anything during their growing up years. Or lack of money to go and do much extra even if there was a vehicle. Ha. No, instead they were out working odd jobs to try and raise funds. I don't share any of that for a pat on the back. I share it because I think we're AFRAID often, as SPOILED AMERICANS, to CONSIDER the cost. SO WHAT if there is no money for extra-curriculars. SO WHAT if my kids didn't know much about eating out or fancy vacations. SO WHAT if there were months we had to get very creative about groceries so there was enough to feed the family and share with all who came through our house. WHY do we think of those things as "rights"? It grieves my spirit when we value what we think we "deserve" over what children with NO one NEED.

Another thing that's evident is the person behind the comments are not stopping to count the cost for my daughters. They would not have chosen to be stripped from their birthmom and heritage. Their being in our family came about because of horrendous LOSS. My six yr old is FULLY AWARE of that loss. Being in our family doesn't take that away. It will never take away the pain of having been an orphan. Learning to be part of a family takes HARD WORK, both on the family's part and on the adopted child's part.

My daughters are not "trophies". They are not "possessions". They are not "causes". They are HUMAN BEINGS. These precious little ones have hearts that know both JOY and PAIN. This is REALITY.

I want to be a good steward of the amazing blessing it is to be called momma by them. Sometimes that means speaking up. Not just for them, but for the others ... the hundreds ... the thousands ... the MILLIONS that WAIT. And, THIS is reality.

Adoption isn't just a cause. It isn't a trend {at least not here in the Roberts family}. Adoption is a need. A need for ALL of us.

SOME DAY, my friends, the "BUSYNESS" is gonna be OVER. It's all gonna come to an end. Life on this earth will be over. It won't really matter if your kids experienced t-ball or ballet or piano lessons. The trips and vacations and fancy outings are all gonna be dust. And while there's nothing inherently "wrong" with those things ... if they are standing in the way of you saying YES to the Lord than that is reason to shudder.

Maybe this isn't your day to say yes to adoption. Maybe it is. Maybe it IS your day to get alone with God and ask Him about HIS heart. It might not even be adoption ... it might be orphan care. It might be relooking at your family's schedule and finances and asking Him what YOUR responsibility might be to see to it that another child doesn't DIE today. TODAY.

Often God's design for our lives is far different that what we imagined. I never imagined, in the beginning, that these two amazing children would be part of our family. I love to see their smiles. Even moreso, because I know of the threads of pain that are woven into each of their lives. There may be seasons ahead that the smiles fade for awhile. It's during those seasons more than anything that I want them to cling to their {Other} Father.

I love so much that in God's amazing mercy and faithfulness He gave to them also this special earthly father .... to snuggle and nurture them. This earthy dad had every reason to say no. But because He cared more about spending his life following after God's heart, he chose to say yes. They are too.

My heart aches for the children that don't know that kind of love and nurture ..... YET.

Friday, June 17, 2011

God's Grace & Graduation

Just a couple of weeks ago we gathered with friends and family both near and far to celebrate our oldest son's life at his graduation. God's grace has just been poured out over the years on him. Below is the message that I shared at his graduation. I find myself trusting God for His continued grace as we each make the transition that lies ahead. I know that He will be faithful.

Colton, God brought you into my life when my whole world was crashing apart. I thought all my dreams were shattered …. And then, in His great mercy and love, God gave me the gift of life. Your life.

I remember like it was yesterday, the nurse coming in to see me, sitting down at my right side. As she told me as I was expecting you, I felt like the Lord opened the floodgates of heaven and was pouring out blessing and hope on me.

It’s a bit surreal being back at this place for your graduation. It was here that I heard about the grace and love of the Lord Jesus. I heard that I had a heavenly Father that loved me and cared about me, no matter what had happened in my life. I learned that He was Hope and completely able to be everything I needed.

Shortly into my pregnancy, while on my way to work, I thought maybe it was all gonna come to an end. I had just turned on to the blacktop, heading to Farm King in Macomb where I had landed a job working in advertising. I couldn’t have reached more than 30 mi an hour, crossed a small bridge and the next thing I knew my car just started spinning round and round. It seemed like everything was going in slow motion. I knew there were huge drops offs on both sides of that road. I didn’t know what to do. Next thing I knew my car got to the edge of the road and I was able to hit the brakes and in an instant, we were stopped. I was so scared to move. The car was resting on that steep bank. I knew I had to get out before it rolled. But I was so scared to move and maybe cause it to roll. I opened the door slowly and quickly moved past the car, out of danger. Soon someone stopped and took me to work. I’ll never forget the weight of responsibility I felt for your life. It was no longer just me, but I was a mom and had a huge responsibility.

Finally, after 42 long weeks of pregnancy, you entered this world. While there were still many difficulties in my life, you were my absolute JOY. Here I was a “girlie-girl” … now momma to a SON! I loved being your mom. I was determined to do anything I had to do for us to have a life together. I didn’t care how many toilets I had to clean, or how many floors I had to scrub, or how many piano lessons I needed to give. You didn’t necessarily like being drug around as a baby to all the houses I cleaned, but we made it through.

For many reasons, I had a deep passion to raise you up as a man of honor. I wanted you to be the kind of man who was devoted … true to your loved ones … not afraid of hard work … gentle, yet strong.

God was so faithful to bring people into our lives during that early season … people that would love us so unconditionally. I have never forgotten what each of them did for us.

Some time after your arrival, I had started back to college to take a couple of classes. At that time I figured I should work on my elementary education degree so that by the time you were starting Kindergarten, I could work in the school. I remember riding in the back of Gma and Pa Pa’s car on the way to church one Sunday and she handed me a card with a check to help pay for some of my fees. God was always showing up to take care of us. There were other times that I would find diapers on my doorstep or in a bag with my name on them in the church foyer.

Before your first birthday, I began writing to Dad, after a dear friend encouraged me to do so. He was stationed in Germany at the time in the Air Force. This was back in the day before I even had a computer. So every letter was hand written and driven to the post office. It wasn’t long and there were many letters coming from Germany. As soon as you’d wake up in the morning, I’d get you out of your crib and off to the post office we’d go … you still in your pajamas. We’d get back and I would sit and read my letter and you’d get into all sorts of mischief while I was deep in distraction. The day after your first birthday he came to visit. And to ask me to marry him. And to ask to be your father. Our lives were radically changing. Just months earlier I thought it might always be you and me. Now I was getting a glimpse of a far bigger picture that God was painting.

He left for 3 months to go back to Germany. He would send cassette tapes to us. He wanted you to know his voice. You’d crawl over to the tape player and just listen and listen.

When you were 15 months old our lives were all joined together. The day before our wedding, Dad adopted you. You got his name before I did. The next day we stood in this same church for the wedding. Then back again the next morning for a wonderful service for your dedication. So many special people had stood with us during that time in our lives.

Two days later, we left everything we knew for a new life in Louisiana. It wasn’t an easy move for me, but one that I’m so thankful for. God blessed us with incredible friends there and a great church family. Soon after you became a big brother for the first time. You were really proud of that role at age 2!, until Nathaniel started crawling and that pretty much turned your little world upside down. J You were such an intense little boy. You like everything to stay the same and let’s just say that any kind of change didn’t sit real well with you. J

Being a momma of boys, I was determined that I did not have to embrace 2 main cultural truths. 1) That boys were gross. 2) That all the joy would end when they turned into teens. I refused both of those. I knew early on that neither of those were God’s design. So I just began asking Him to show me what WAS His design in raising sons. In turn, He poured out so many wonderful insights over the years and blessed me more than I could ever share with you today.

I remember when you were 4 years old. We had just moved to Chicago so that Dad could start Bible college. You were 4, Nathaniel was 2 and I was horrendously sick… pregnant with Josiah. I would lie on the couch, trying to be still to keep the nausea under control. You wanted so much to learn. At a very young age you had a drive in you to figure things out. If there was something you wanted to know or wanted to learn, you were very motivated. So this one particular day you wanted to learn to write the alphabet. And that would have been all fine and wonderful, had I not felt like I had the flu 24 hours a day. J So one day we started in with the letter A. Me lying on the couch and you sitting at a little table I had set up in our living room with an alphabet poster above it. You couldn’t get enough. Finally we got to the letter K and I told you I was done for the day. Learning letters A-K was ENOUGH for one morning! You continued throughout the day until you made through Z.

By this time we were now in the inner-city of Chicago and you were ready to start school. I never could imagine sending you off away from the family all day long. Along the way, we’d met a few families who had homeschooled during different times in their life and it just seemed like it would be a good fit for us. After all, it’s not like I was gonna send you off to an inner-city school. Well, here we are today 13 years later. I guess it kinda stuck with us. It wasn’t a perfect education. No particular one is. But I’m really thankful for this time we’ve had with you. It provided so many opportunities for not just covering the academics, but for mentoring and disciple-ing.

I remember when we realized you needed glasses. It was a traumatic experience as we didn’t realize how desperately you needed them. We put them on and you could hardly walk .. and they were only at half strength. My heart just BROKE that day, realizing that there would be things in your life I couldn’t make go away. I hated to watch you struggle.

I remember the day you walked into the water at Dead Colt Creek in ND and were baptized. You’ve had a hunger for the Lord since you were a very young little boy. You always believed God could do anything. You challenged me at times to remember that.

As I look back, over the years, I see that you haven’t just been a son. You’ve been so much more.

You’ve been a FRIEND. You’ve been a friend to others, but you’ve also been a friend to me.

You’ve been an ENCOURAGER. Sometimes with a few well-chosen words ….. sometimes it was with no words at all, but just a hug.

You’ve been a SERVANT. We spent almost 8 years serving the people of ND. In ways too many to count you where there … doing whatever needed done. Setting up chairs for services and then putting it all back away. Helping clean the house and rearrange furniture for ministry teams coming in to serve. Helping prepare meals for holidays when we’d try to welcome in folks that didn’t have someone to share them with. Working odd jobs to raise money for your sister’s adoption, so that she would have a family.

You’ve been GRACIOUS. That is a great quality for a first-born. There were things we did right ….. there were things we did terribly wrong. You have been a gracious son.

My heart is so full when I think about your life.

It’s filled with thankfulness … for your hands that aren’t afraid of hard work, not only for achieving your own goals but also for the needs of others. You’ve been a team player in our family … helping it to grow by two members.

My heart is filled with admiration. For your vision of looking beyond what is seen, to what is unseen. Caring more about eternal things, than physical things. Not being afraid to sacrifice.

It’s filled with gratefulness … for the relationship I’ve gotten to have with you and for your eagerness to share your dreams with me. For all the late night talks and things pondered. For you trusting me enough to share your heart and the things God is stirring within you. Moms of little boys? …. This is the prize of working all those years to cultivate relationship.

My heart is filled with JOY .. in seeing a little boy who overcame so much, grow into a young man so settled in who you are and ready for what’s ahead. You know about both victories and set backs …. Yet you persevere.

It’s filled with Pride … in seeing your strong work ethic and not be afraid of doing whatever it takes to get the job done. It was a special blessing getting to see for a short time, you working alongside your Grandpa Gene. I know you miss him greatly, Colton. He was so very proud of you.

My heart is filled with Praise! As I watched you grow up to be a lover of music … not just interest in sound and style, but also in content. Your heart for worship is contagious. You know who it is that you want to please first and foremost, that of which is not man.

Colton, as much as I don’t want to let you go, I also don’t want to hold you back. You were never only mine anyway! You are the Lord’s. I made a commitment 18 years ago in that little low-income housing apartment to do all I could to nurture you and raise you. Now that season has come to a close.

Oh, I’ll still be your mom. I’ll still be here. But we’re embarking on a new season.

College – and while I am incredibly excited for you to be accepted by Moody Bible Institute and to have the opportunity to study there …. I care even more that you always remember where true wisdom comes from. While academics are important, they must NEVER replace relationship with and hunger for Christ.

There’s a passage in Proverbs about wisdom that I want to share with you today.

Provers 2:1-10

1My son, if you will receive my words
And treasure my commandments within you,

2Make your ear attentive to wisdom,
Incline your heart to understanding;

3For if you cry for discernment,
Lift your voice for understanding;

4If you seek her as silver
And search for her as for hidden treasures;

5Then you will discern the fear of the LORD
And discover the knowledge of God.

6For the LORD gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

7He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk in integrity,

8Guarding the paths of justice,
And He preserves the way of His godly ones.

9Then you will discern righteousness and justice
And equity and every good course.

10For wisdom will enter your heart
And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;

Four years of your early childhood were spent as a child of a student on the same campus you’ll be going back to in just a couple of months. Now and then you’d get to tag along with dad to class. You were SO proud. It’s really hard to believe that now you’ll return to that campus as a grown young man. And now WE are so proud.

There are many things that I will miss … here are just a few.

Your quiet arrival at meal times.

Your loud pick-up truck turning in the drive with a load of who knows what all to take to the scrap yard so that you could add to the college fund.

Your technological assistance when I’m frantic and I can’t get my stupid computer to work right.

The way you always make time to connect with your little sisters. Seriously Colton, how are they gonna deal with the fact that there is no one headed out to the post office each day to mail packages across the country?! J

I will miss your hugs. I’ll still have 5 other people in the house that I’ll be hugging, but that won’t replace yours.

Your eyes. I will miss being able to look into your eyes and have a feel for how you’re doing. Email, FB and Texting might be great, but your eyes speak volumes to this Momma’s heart.

I look forward to seeing all that God has planned for this next season of your life. There are times that you are gonna fall and fail …. But I am confident that when those times happen you will get back up again, make things right with those around you, and keep persevering. If at any time you need a break from it all, you’ll be welcomed home with open arms. We believe in you. I am so humbled by the young man you’ve grown up to be. And I love you.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My Daughters' {Other} Father

It seems each year as Mother's Day approaches that there is so much talk about birthmoms and celebrating them, honoring them, giving them a place in all the festivities. Then throw into the mix a vast variety of different {sometimes conflicting} ways that adoptive families feel very passionately about how they want that to play out for their families. And while that is all good and I'm thankful we take that time to stop and pause .... each year I come away thinking about this .... what about Father's Day? Why don't I typically hear the same buzz going on?

Each story is different. Neither of my daughters' birthfathers even know they exist. I have very limited information about each of them. With one of my precious daughters, I don't even know the "real story". We were told two VERY different stories. We'll never know which of them is even true.

While I want to do all I can to honor my children's birthparents, there is something else I want even more. While my sweet girls only know tiny bits of info about their birthfathers, there is SO much I want them to know about their other Father.

You see, their other Father is the reason they are even our children and belong in our family. It is because of what HE did for us, that spurred us on to reach out and do the same for a child we didn't even know. It is their other Father who poured out mercy on us and helped us finish the course two separate times when nothing matched up in the banking ledger. It is their other Father who gave us strength to stand when we were weary and weak from the journey. It is their other Father who taught us what it truly means to LOVE like He loves, even if our family didn't understand at the time. It was their other Father who PROVIDED. It was their other Father who ministered to them in ways too hard to even fathom as they were each alone.

The beauty of adoption isn't just that a mom and dad adds a child to the family. Oh yes, that is a wonderful blessing. I truly cannot imagine our lives without our two youngest. However, adoption is so much more than that. More than food and clothing and shelter. More than affection and acceptance and opportunity. I think so often we get caught up in all the "others" and forget the deepest, most important truth that adoption is. Adoption means BELONGING. Yes, legally, my daughters now "belong" to the Roberts family. But what is SO MUCH MORE important than that is that they also belong to their other Father. They were His first and foremost, even if I was never part of the picture. They have a Heavenly Father who CREATED them and DESIGNED them and gave a PURPOSE for their lives. And this is what they need to know and understand. This is what is going to carry them through when they face loss and grief and even racism.

It blesses me go greatly to see my girls run to see their daddy at the end of a work day. They are filled with more spunk and sweetness than he can hardly handle. I LOVE THAT. I am SO THANKFUL that my daughters have been given an earthly father. HOWEVER, MORE than that .... oh so much MORE than that my heart rejoices as I see them grasp the knowledge that they have their other Father. I love to see them worship and praise Him.

Some of you reading this can relate to the heartbreak of the orphan. Perhaps you never had much of an earthly father. Perhaps you never knew his name. Perhaps he walked out on you when you were just a wee-thing. Perhaps you were at the receiving end of his abuse. Perhaps he never even knew you were born. Oh if that is you .... can I just remind you that YOU HAVE another Father! He calls you by NAME. He knows the NUMBER of hairs on your head. He longs for you to call Him ABBA Father.

I'm often reminded of the pain of adoption. There is no adoption without pain. Pain is the reason adoption is even needed in the physical sense. My daughters will each go through times of sensing that pain and loss. Yet, my prayer is that AS THEY DO ..... they will realize they NEVER have to walk that alone .... because their other Father promises to be there ... every step of the way. We consider it an incredible privilege to also be here to walk with them.

It's so hard for me to even fathom what my Father has done for me.