Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Journey's end

I’ve always worked best with deadlines so I guess it’s fitting for me that my first (and last) post to this blog is just after our Nov. 15th “deadline” for making a decision about adoption. As some of you already know, and others of you have probably surmised, we’ve decided not to pursue adoption.

It’s been several months since I first told Betsy that I wanted to have another child. We knew if we were going to have another, we would be adopting, so I asked her to start the process. She did a great job, and her growing joy added to my desire as we planned for our new arrival. But at the same time, we began a process of “discernment”—seeking God’s wisdom on all the many decisions involved with adoption. We asked God to guide us and asked you guys for your prayers and support.

As Betsy said earlier in this blog, we asked God to show us what to do, and He answered by showing us more about Himself. We’ve learned more about ourselves, our kids, and our work along the way, too. In the end, I don’t think God ever told us “yes” or “no” about adoption. He just gave us the information we needed to make the decision. So, based on everything we’ve learned, I decided adoption isn’t for us, at least not for now and maybe not ever.

I have mixed feelings about all this. I’m sad when I think about one less kid around the Christmas tree. I’m sad when I think about fewer potential grandchildren (Yes, I know I am only 33 and my kids are 6 and 4 but I still dream about grandkids). But I’m grateful for God’s gentle and generous revelation of Himself to us in this process. I’m excited about the freedom that comes with having older kids. I’m already thinking about summer trips to the UK with the whole family to visit our friends from seminary.

Thank you all for your prayers and support. We are truly blessed to have such wonderful family and friends. And a million thanks to my precious wife, who has been so patient and gracious throughout this journey. I’ve learned so much from watching and listening to her during this time.

All my love,

Friday, October 3, 2008

Update on Joey

OK, I think I should clarify a bit about what's going on with Joey, because when I read the post below, I thought it did sound strange that I used the term "adopt" to describe a kid who is going though a tough time and is certainly not my son. So I'm going to give you guys more details.

Joey isn't just going through a tough time. He was orphaned just a few weeks ago when both his parents died in a tragic situation. His grandparents have temporary custody of him and his two younger siblings (a toddler and a baby), but the family can't decide on what's best for the kids (who should get them, should they be kept together, etc.) There were no clear provisions in his parents' will, so there's a lot of legal confusion thrown into the mix. Several families (some blood-related, some dear friends) want the kids. Some want just one or two of them. Some infighting seems inevitable. It's all just yucky to think about.

In the midst of all this, of course, Joey is acting up in class, not completing his homework, and barely getting the attention he needs. That's why God has called me and my husband to (with full permission of his grandparents) "adopt" him for now in our hearts, even knowing that he will likely be placed with someone we don't even know and will move away from us forever.

He's not living with us, of course. He does have a stable, if relatively stress-filled home to go home to. But we're spending time with him, giving him lots of love, and supporting him through it all. I asked my son this morning as I was driving him to school if he was feeling "OK" with us giving Joey lots of attention right now. My son is happy with it, enjoys the playdates, and really loves his friend.

As I dropped my boy off, I also looked for Joey in the crowd. I had been thinking about him all morning, and I walked up to him.

"Hi Joey," I said. He smiled at me. "Would you like a hug this morning?" He said, "I would!"

I held him close for a few minutes, which is probably more time than his poor overworked and deeply mourning grandparents have right now. I told him I loved him and that I was looking forward to him coming over to my home again on Tuesday. He told me all about some funny, interesting lego-involved adventure he had had. I only caught half of it, of course, but it was just good to see him smile.

I feel so fulfilled right now with our family reaching out to this great kid. I feel like my arms, my heart, my quiver—for now—is full.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

An Adoptive Heart

There is a little boy in my son's class right now who is going through a whole lot of suffering. (I won't go into details, because this is a public blog). He's a first grader, like my son.

My son's little private Christian school is made up of a close community of families. It has a heart for reconciliation and revival in Austin. And sometimes I'll pop in to have lunch with my son during the day. Tuesday, that's what I did, and I spent a little time, too, chatting with his classmate, whom I'll call Joey here. As I spent some time with Joey, I just found myself falling in love with him. And he opened up to me a bit about what's going on in his life (for a first grade boy, that means about two sentences, but they were meaningful). The next day, I returned to the school and sat with my son and Joey in chapel. I ended up holding Joey all through chapel and just giving him comfort and care, which he drank up like a thirsty puppy. Then I asked his family if I could invite him over for a playdate with my son after school.

They were fine with that, and he came over after school and played with my son. They got along famously, playing nonstop, running, laughing, and scheming. I had to force them to stop for a little dinner. I'm guessing it's some of the happiest time he's had in a while.

And I really enjoyed this kid, whom life has dealt some nasty blows so very young. I realize that although I'm no therapist, I really have a knack for relating to people going through hard, confusing times. It's not that I understand everything they're going through. It's more that I am simply OK with whatever emotions come out. I've experienced so many emotions, and to such intense degrees, that I am pretty tough to shake up. Little Joey has been acting out lately and sometimes going into some coping mechanisms (like rocking and moaning) that tend to freak people out. But it doesn't throw me a bit. I've been there. I just am thankful that God gave us such coping skills, and I hug him until he feels better and then invite him to share with me how he feels. Then I send him off to play again.

Right now, his family is so overwhelmed with all they are having to handle themselves that little Joey's needs are simply slipping through the cracks. And his family is thrilled to have anyone investing time into him, so I'm not "stepping on any toes."

When I first heard about all that Joey's family was going through, I joined the list of people to deliver food to the home, and I talked to my son about how he could reach out to Joey and be patient with him if he feels sad at times. But I wondered if there was really anything else that I could do. I mean, the family already has a counselor meeting with Joey, the school has been mobilized to minister to the family's needs, and the kids in the class are well-parented Christian kids who should all extend love and understanding to Joey. There didn't seem to be a further place for me in the healing process. And I certainly didn't want to be one of those women who project herself into every drama around her, assuming that she has some magical solution for every hurting person.

But as I've spent time with Joey, I've discovered that I really, really love him. I'm praying for him so much. I think about how he might be feeling that day. I want to look into his sweet eyes again. And others can tell that I seem to have a "way" with him. I'm just comfortable with hurting people, that's all. And I am OK with sobbing in one moment and building legos in the next. If there is a spiritual gift of calm in the midst of a storm, I have it. And I know it's a gift, because it is the exact opposite of everything that naturally happens in me in my own strength. I mean the exact opposite. I'm the queen of panic, naturally.

The sobering fact is, little Joey will most likely not be in our life for long. He'll be moving soon, most likely, due to unheavel in his family situation. So I have maybe a month to spend with him. But my son likes him a lot, I love him a ton, my husband is drawn to him, and he needs something that I am well able to give: attention and understanding. His whole family is suffering and unstable right now. I am happy and stable. So I have an abundance of ability to grant him what—for now—his family can't.

So as I've been praying, I'm feeling this from God: that I am supposed to "adopt" Joey for whatever time I have with him. I will likely not see him again after his family moves. But for now, he is "mine" in a spiritual sense. His family is desperate for the help (I'm not forcing my way into anyone's world), my home is plenty open for him (I don't have any crying infants to tend to), and my heart is drawn to him. Sounds like the kind of thing that God would do...mobilize His seeking daughter's heart for a precious son of his who needs love.

For now, Joey is a part of our lives. My husband and I decided last night, after some prayer, to open up our home and hearts full throttle to Joey, inviting him to spend time with us while still being wise about his needs that we can't meet right now. And I couldn't be more excited if I were actually adopting my own kid.

What is God doing in all this? Maybe He's finally beginning to show us the answer to our question that we've been asking persistently for months: Should we adopt? The answer is Yes. Because it is always Yes in God's kingdom. Because The Father has only one begotten Son. We are all adopted. And whether it's for a month as a friend of the family, or for a lifetime as a legally binding parent, we are all called to an adoptive heart for the Kingdom of God.

Psalm 68:6
"God sets the lonely in families."

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Wait for it...wait for it...

Hi everyone!

Well, I thought I'd give another update, though there's not too much action to tell about. Here's where we are right now as a family:

• Our first-choice agency has said, "Call us when you're ready; we'd love to have you." (This agency happens to be in the same city where my husband is currently being considered for a teaching position, for whatever that's worth.)

• We are both feeling like God has got us in somewhat of a "holding pattern," to use a term my dad used to use and that I vaguely understand as having something to do with airplanes. But anyway, we're waiting on more guidance, or more assurance, or more peace, or more something. We don't exactly know what we're waiting on, to tell you the truth. But that November 15th date does seem to mean something.

Sorry I don't have more news, but most of the action is taking place inside of us, as we're learning is a very practical way to trust the Lord and wait on Him to work on our behalf.

There was something that happened the other day that caused me to look at this whole situation in a different light. I was talking to a friend about how frustrated she was that her boyfriend wasn't acting the way she wanted, that he wasn't treating her the way she wanted to be treated. I realized as I was listening to her a little more about what the Bible means about the Lord giving us the desires of our hearts. I had learned this before through a sermon on Andy Stanley's podcast (recommended), but it made more sense as I listened to my friend's complaint.

The thing she wanted from her boyfriend was a certain action. It wasn't a particularly complicated action, and there wasn't anything fundamentally sinful about the fact that he wasn't doing the action. But as I listened, I realized that what my friend really wanted was to have a deep need met. She wanted to feel loved and valued. That is her true desire; that is the desire of her heart, the desire that God has promised to fulfill.

God won't necessarily change her boyfriend's behavior, but He does promise to fill that need in my friend, if she will let Him do it His way. If she insists that only by a change in her boyfriend's behavior will she allow the need to be filled, then it might never be filled. Because God hasn't promised to fulfill the desire of the situation, but the deeper, permanent, God-given desires of her heart.

This same lesson is being learned in my heart through this adoption process. I'm feeling led to really search my heart and learn what it is that I desire. Will I trust that God will fill these needs His way, in His time? Or will I insist that this situation change (that I adopt another child) in order for my deep desires to be met? God knows what it is I long for, and He can fill me up, if I choose to "delight myself in Him" and "commit my way to Him," which are prerequisites for my deep heart desires to be met.

So during this time of waiting, I am being led to delight in Him and commit my ways to Him, waiting on Him to make clear my path to fulfillment.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Our Next Steps

Well, we were granted an interview by Generations. Honestly, I would have been shocked if it had turned out otherwise. It seems like we're exactly the kind of folks they are looking for.

Here's the email my hubby sent in reply (I made it anonymous for the web):

Hi Cathy,

Thanks for inviting us to continue in the process. When we began this journey we asked the Lord for direction and he gave us a date: Nov. 15th. We've established that as the date by which we would make a decision to move forward or put adoption on hold for now. In the meantime we've prayed that the Lord would raise every issue that needs to come up for discussion and resolution so that we can proceed with full confidence. He has been answering our prayers in remarkable ways, guiding us on this journey, but mostly teaching us about Himself.

All of this is to say, we're not sure if we should invest yet in the interview part of the process. I'm especially interested in your perspective: is the interview something that helps couples discern whether to move forward or is it more informational for those who are completely decided? Perhaps it would be better for us to wait until after Nov. 15th when we've received clear direction from the Lord? I welcome any thoughts you may have on this.

By the way, ***** and ***** are some of our best friends. ***** told us she's related to you (cousins by marriage, I think). Cool!

Blessings to you and the Generations staff for all you are doing to save lives and glorify Christ.

Grace and peace,

(My husband)

The Lord is granting me peace and leading me to trust Him in all things. Am I willing to go His way instead of my own way? Am I willing to find and fulfill my place in His kingdom, or do I insist on living my dreams as I have dreamed them? Either way, whether he gives me the grace for another child or not, I want to seek first His kingdom.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Pre-Application

Well, it's been mailed to Waco! Now we await a phone call.

We're moving forward and just trusting that God won't let us get out of His will as He holds us in the palm of His hand.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Update on our Friend

A couple folks have asked about the friend who stayed with us for a couple weeks. (See here).

Well, I just got a phone call from her.

While she was living with us, we helped her by giving her plenty of good nights' sleep, food, probably more advice than she could take in, and an atmosphere of peace. She was able to arrange several job interviews. We would help her get ready for these interviews, my husband would drive her to them and wait for her to be finished, and I would help by watching her daughter during the interview.

Well, she just called me, and she got one of the jobs! It's in her major (she has two years towards an accounting degree under her belt), and it pays $13.50 per hour, which is nothing to sneeze at! Now she can work on signing a lease and getting her life back on track. I'm so happy for her. She's coming over to have dinner and do laundry tonight. It gets a little chaotic around here with my two kids and her toddler, so I have permission from my hubby to hop in the car and go to the library with the kids for a while if I feel too closed-in during the evening.

But dinner's already assembled and in the fridge waiting to be baked (my daughter and I had fun making it today together while brother was at school). So the evening looks to be somewhat effortless, except for cleanup afterwards.

Now, I know that it doesn't always turn out this rosy. You can't take every homeless single mom, put her on your couch, pray for a job, and let her loose. But my husband really felt led by God to take her in when we did. And he felt led by God to push her out when we did, too. And it seems to be working out well.

And at no time during her stay did I get overly stressed or more anxious than I had the skills to handle. God is good. He has set me free from anxiety and depression, and he has given me the honor of serving my Liberator alongside my husband. Daily I depend on Him and watch Him work.