Our Adoption Journey!

November is National Adoption Awareness month (#NAM), and you can follow along on my Facebook page for a month long look at our adoption!  I’m sharing our story and would love to have you follow along.  Find me here.

-Marie

Adopt the older child.

According to a 2015 UNICEF report, of the 132 million orphans worldwide, 95% are over the age of 5.

Over 125 million orphans are 5 or older.

What are you going to do about it?

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This is my son Lungelo.  Many say that he is blessed to be a part of our family.  But they’ve got it all wrong.  We are the ones who are blessed.  I am blessed.

I’m blessed- he calls me “mom”.

I’m blessed- he gives never-ending hugs.

I’m blessed- his smile lights up my life.

I’m blessed- he says “I love you.”

I’m blessed- he falls asleep in my arms.

I’m blessed- he laughs, he’s loud, he’s full of life.

Is adoption easy?  No.

Is parenting easy?  Never.

But the beauty of all I’ve received far outweighs my “sacrifice”.

There are 125 million kids just like him all across the world.  And they’re waiting for someone like you to open your heart and let them in.

Adopt the older child.

-Lungelo’s mom

PS- If your heart is stirred (and I hope it is) message me for info!

This is a MUST listen kind of song

This song has been in my heart all day and if you haven’t heard it you must listen.  Now.  Click the link and listen to it.

Hopefully I’ll be posting a blog in the next couple days about “why” this song is all I hear right now.  Stay tuned!

Hereos- Amanda Cook

Let the heroes rest
Let the striving cease
I lay down my crown
Here at Your feet

I will trust
Here in the mystery
I will trust
In You completely

Awake my soul to sing
With Your breath in me
I will worship
You taught my feet
To dance upon disappointment
And I, I will worship

Let the weary rise
Lift their eyes to see
Your love crushing every lie
Every doubt and fear

I will trust
Here in the mystery
I will trust
In You completely

Awake my soul to sing
With Your breath in me
I will worship
You taught my feet
To dance upon disappointment
And I, I will worship

Hallelujah
Hallelujah
You are making all things new

Awake my soul to sing
With Your breath in me
I will worship
You taught my feet
To dance upon disappointment
And I, I will worship

Soak in it.

-Marie

Today–I choose.

Today I do not choose to remember the tragedy, as I will never forget the devastation.  Instead, today I choose to pursue light, life and love.  I choose Jesus.  And I trust that he will continue to shine his light into every corner, crack and crater in my life.  His love always wins, he always rescues and his redemption never ends.

Regardless of how deep the sorrow goes, his love is deeper still.

This is for me, and this is for you.

Do you want a baby? And other adoption questions answered.

“Are you getting a baby?” That seems to be another popular question. No, we’re not adopting a baby. It’s not that we don’t love babies; I mean there’s nothing better than snuggling with a sweet baby and watching them fall asleep in your arms, but we knew immediately that a baby was not part of our adoption plan. We are adopting an older child. Older children are often the forgotten ones.

When we officially began this process our youngest had just turned 9, and the oldest was 22, and there were 3 more in the middle. We thought about our kids and the beautiful way God has brought redemption over their lives, and we thought about the challenges they’ve experienced and how hard life would be if they didn’t have a family. And we knew that we could be “that” family for another child.

The statistics are startling. Seventy five percent of children waiting around the world are over age 5, and the reality for orphans in many countries is grim. They live on the streets at age 15, as orphan care ends in the middle of the teen years. This pierced my heart as I considered my 3 teenagers and tried to imagine them living on their own with no one to help them, no one to encourage them to pursue their dreams, no one to tell them that they are capable of greatness. How would they survive with no one empowering them to live the love of family, and to know the love of God?

My kids have enough trouble getting their dirty dishes in the dishwasher without a reminder!

And we knew that we could do something for this child. We knew that somewhere, potentially far across the globe, God had a child destined for our family. But we didn’t just settle in on an older child. We were lead to go one step further. In working with Bethany Christian Services, we discovered that they had a waiting list of children, a campaign of 400 special children, and we knew our child was on that list. These children are predominantly “older” and have some kind of special need. “Special need” is a broad category. Sometimes this simply means that the child is 5 years of age or older, because that, in and of itself is a special need. It could also mean that they have medical, emotional or behavioral need. Many conditions that are difficult to treat in foreign countries are easily manageable in the United States. You can discover more about Bethany Christian Services and These 400 here.  All of these things reinforced our decision to begin our international adoption.

We submitted our application in July 2014, but did not specify a particular country. We knew that each country had its own set of parameters. Some countries would disqualify us because we already had 4 children at home, since Dan is 11 years older than me, some would disqualify us based on his age. We told Bethany Christian that we were open to the countries that would consider us to be favorable candidates for adoption.

A few weeks later we received an exciting email—we had 3 choices: Hong Kong, Bulgaria and South Africa. Our family was secretly hoping to adopt from an African nation (let me just say our kids were very vocal about this), so it was an easy choice: South Africa!

And with this one decision our hearts were knit to a nation we did not yet know, to a child we have not met, but to one who already has captured our affection.

I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.  Jeremiah 31:3

It’s Official- We’re Expecting. Adoption.

I have a secret we’ve been keeping.  We’re expecting.  Our family is in the process of adopting!

“How long have you been thinking about adoption?” That’s a question I hear often and one that I can’t answer definitively. As a child, my 2 favorite movies were Annie and The Rescuers—redemption and restoration—those stories captured a deep place within my heart. But there were also times that adoption was on the forefront of my mind. I remember when Charlie and I lost our first daughter, Elise, and the feelings of adoption surfaced once again. A friend encouraged me that this was not the time to pursue adoption; it was the time to pursue healing. I knew she was right.

Years passed and we had our own children. Then my kids lost their father and I started to see things differently. I remember thinking about how it felt from their perspective to live life without a “daddy”. My heart broke for them. Then God brought Dan. At first I argued with God. His timing seemed crazy.  God settled me, and the realization came, “All kids need a mom and a dad. My kids need a dad more now than ever before.” It was another reminder of adoption.

I started praying. When Dan and I got married I told him that I really didn’t think I was finished having children. I was not implying pregnancy. I told him about my desire to adopt. He wasn’t ready yet. And so I waited and prayed and prayed and waited. I knew this had to be the right step for our family and not just my idea.

Dan prayed too and God spoke to his heart. In December 2013 we signed up to attend an informational meeting at a local adoption agency. The day of the meeting came and I was excited. These years of waiting were making the minutes feel endless. I checked the clock frequently hoping it was time to leave. Then my mom called and everything changed. “Marie, your dad has been rushed to the hospital.” He was experiencing complications due to lung cancer. His situation was grave. This would be his last hospital stay. For a while we weren’t sure that he would come home, it looked like he would die there. Our conversations were serious and emotional. I spent as much time with him as possible. And I told him that we were thinking of adopting. He looked surprised. I said, “Not a puppy Dad, a child.” I wanted to make him laugh a little. And I wanted him to know about our adoption because I knew he wouldn’t be here to meet this child.

My dad died on Dec. 24, 2013. I understood what it felt like to be fatherless and my heart broke again for the children who know this loss too.

Our adoption journey had a million little twists and turns before it “officially” began, but I’m thrilled to share that we’re almost ready to send off our dossier.   We are adopting from South Africa, and we hope to bring our child home this summer.

For now, this is all I’ll share, but there is more—SO MUCH MORE. God is writing a beautiful story across our lives and he is weaving in the life of a child we’ve not met yet, but deeply love.

God places the lonely in families. Psalm 68:6

How To Change The World

You can change the world. Do you believe me? The answer to that question comes down to this—the way you measure impact. You don’t have to cross the ocean to change the world. You can, but it’s not required. You don’t have to exhaust your resources to make a difference. You don’t have to post something on social media that goes viral.

Changing the world is simple.

Changing the world happens when you touch one life with the love of Christ. When you touch one life—you’ve changed their world.

Simple acts of encouragement make a huge impact. I know this, because I’ve been the recipient. It’s the conversation when someone looks straight into your eyes and sees all the way to your heart. Their words speak life and touch the ache you’ve felt but have not uttered. It’s the written message read over and over—proof that you’re not alone in this journey. It’s the unexpected gift found at your front door. The contents make you smile. It’s the reminder that God sees and reaches in a tangible way: lifting your heart, settling your doubts, and silencing your questions.

We all need encouragement. We need to know we’re not alone. You can make a huge difference in the life of another simply by reaching out. You can change their world. Would you join me? What would happen if 100 of us touched the life of one other person this weekend with Jesus’ love? What if those 100 were also inspired to reach out to another with the love of Christ? Love multiplies changing the world and we’re all in on it.

You’ve heard stories that tell of the way strangers paid for the car behind them at Starbucks and Chick-fil-A. My eyes light up to hear of love poured out. It’s the most powerful force on earth and takes nothing more than a few moments of simple obedience and courage. Right now, ask God for your assignment. Where will you spread his love? Is your heart beating faster? That’s love multiplied inside you. It’s love that can’t wait to get out. Cultivate willingness in your heart for spontaneous assignments too. You are changing the world—one life at a time.

Oh yes, and watch for the way God returns the gifts you’ve given!

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