September 16, 2012

Not destiny or magical thinking...but still God.

A while back there was an article in the New York Times' blog that quickly became a hot potato in the adoption world. It’s called “Adoption, Destiny and Magical Thinking”. In it the author discusses the phenomenon that many adoptive parents feel their child was “destined” to be theirs. Adoptive Families Magazine posed this question on Facebook as a result: do you feel your child was brought to you by fate, destined to be yours? 

The answers given left me deflated and broke my heart.

The majority of people that answered the question felt their child was “meant” to be theirs. Most of those people also stated that it was God who brought their child to them and many went as far as to imply that the only reason that child was created was because God wanted them to be parents. I was appalled at the lack of compassion and kindness these answers showed.

Several people understandably cried out over the idea that a loving god would ordain and even create the painful situations that often lead to birthparents placing their children for adoption: poverty, loss, rape, brokenness. This comes across as a manipulative god who uses people as baby-making machines, then tears their family painfully apart (adoption is painful, people) to make those other people happy parents. It does not make sense, they said. 

And I agree.

Yet, I believe strongly that God had a big hand on our adoption of Isabel and Noah. If you’ve read this blog before, you know that very well. Except, the God I serve and love does not work the way those “destiny,” “meant to be,” “all about my happiness” people say He does and I believe when Christians use clichés like those in response to people’s pain and tragedy, we are dragging His name through the mud and hurting our witness. But that’s a post for another day.

I feel compelled however, even in my little space that does not speak very loudly, to make amends, to apologize to those who have been hurt by those comments made by adoptive parents and to explain how the God I know played a role in our adoption, just as He plays a role in every other decision I make. 

I believe in a God that gives people free will. This means people have the ability to make choices and live with the consequences, good and bad, of those choices. Everyone is making choices every day; we are not puppets in the hands of a manipulative god.

In adoption everyone makes choices as well. On one hand you have a woman who, by her own choices or the choices made by others in some awful cases, finds herself pregnant. She has three choices then. She can abort, she can parent, or she can place her child for adoption. When my children’s birthmother found herself pregnant, she made the choice to place them with an agency for adoption. She chose a closed adoption. She made use of her free will and chose what to do about her situation.

On the other side of this adoption you have two people deciding how to become parents. When we found out we could not conceive naturally we were faced with choices of how to expand our family. We could use reproductive technologies, we could use a surrogate, we could adopt, etc.

Here is where God comes in, at least in our story.

Because we are believers in God, we try to live according to the Bible’s teachings. We believe in making our decisions prayerfully and seeking the Bible as our guide. So when we are faced with choices, we go to God. Not so that He will force us to do this or that, not so He will manipulate us like puppets, but so that He will give us wisdom and insight in how to proceed.

We decided to pursue the most natural and least invasive process of reproductive help that was available, and twice it was unsuccessful. Then, prayerfully, we decided to go no further with reproductive assistance. The Bible teaches us that we are in this world to take care of one another and to be family to those who have no family, so the decision to adopt had been a part of our marriage’s DNA even before we knew it would be our only option. To stop spending money on medical assistance and instead use that money to adopt was not a hard decision for us, because we felt God directing.  

Because we are believers, we chose to go with an agency that has the same Christian values. I cannot speak for the way my kids’ birthmother made her choices because, unfortunately, we don’t know her. But for whatever reason she called this particular agency for both of her placements. Both of the kids had already been placed by the time we received the call to ask if we would adopt them. Both times we sought God’s wisdom in deciding, both times we accepted and we have never looked back. 

We don’t believe God orchestrated S. getting pregnant so WE could be parents. To think so is arrogant and unloving towards a woman whose decision was painful and difficult. But we believe God took all of our choices, hers to place, ours to adopt, and directed us to find these particular children to become part of our family. We believe He led us to that particular agency because S. went to that particular agency and He knew our two kids would need us. When we adopted Isabel, we were the only couple that agency had that would take children of color. Noah, being biologically related, was placed with us automatically and now they are together.

In that sense, our adoption was miraculous. Not in the magical sense. Not in the manipulative sense. Only in the sense of a loving God who can take the painful situations we experience by our choices or the choices others make, and finds ways to create beauty (families, loving open-adoption relationships with birth parents, true orphans who find a home) through people who seek him and allow themselves to be led and used for his loving purposes.

I realize this probably makes no sense to someone who is not a believer. And I get that. To expect you to share, agree or even understand my way of life is not fair to you and it only creates more division and separation between us. I also know that there are Christians out there who do believe God pre-determines all of our choices. Clearly, that is not my theology and it is not a theological debate I seek here. 

But if you ask me if God played a part in the adoption of my children, carefully, tactfully, but definitely I will tell you YES! I just hope you give me the chance to explain before you assume I am a “destiny and magical thinking” kind of mom. 

September 13, 2012

More than you ever wanted to know about me.

This is just a fun post to get to know some of my "invisible" friends and some of my "not invisible" friends who blog. 

My sweet friend Dolly at Soul Stops gave me this award:

What is the Liebster Award? The  award is given to upcoming bloggers who have less than 200 followers.  The meaning: Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome.
I will list 11 facts about me, answer Dolly's 11 questions, then I will nominate 11 bloggers, and give them 11 questions to answer.
11 Random Facts About Me:
1. I hate shopping and malls. They make me tired and grouchy.
2. Anytime I have opened my mouth to say "I will never do that!" God has laughed and started scheming.
3. I could not leave my house for days and it would not bother me one bit.
4. I don't get Pinterest or Twitter or Google Plus. 
5. I am very organized, keep a clean house, live by routines, but some of my favorite people are completely the opposite and I love them for that. 
6. Cold weather makes me blue. Like depressed blue. I'm a child of the sun.
7. I believe in "a little less conversation and a lot more action" when it comes to showing people Jesus' love. Stop talking and get loving. But I don't always live it.
8. I never thought I would say this but I love homeschooling, being a stay-at-home mom and learning to be a very poor version of Martha Stewart (see #2!)
9. When I get a good book in my hands I turn rudely anti-social and neglect everything else. It's a little like an addiction, I hate to say. 
10. I have terrible, terrible, terrible memory. It annoys my husband. 
11. I really do believe I'm married to the best man in the world, but I guess that is the way it should be.
These are Dolly's questions:
1. Are you a morning person, or a night owl? Or neither?
I am a morning person. As long as there is coffee. I prefer to get up early and get started because by 10:00 pm I am useless.
2. Who has had the biggest positive influence in your life?
Oh, I have been blessed to have lots of people who have had great influence on me. My mom taught me about hard work and goal setting. My friend Diana brought me to Christ and discipled me during my early walk. My in-laws have taught me about Christ-like love and service. My husband teaches me daily how to be a better person overall. And many, many women who have sharpened me like iron sharpens iron.
3. Why? if you answered Question #2
See question #2 :)
4. What is something God is teaching you lately?
To be slow to speak and quick to listen and slow to anger. And that I don't have to give my opinion or my advice. Just listen. It does more good to others than anything I can say.
5. What do you know now that you wish you knew 5 years ago?
Oh, wow. Five years ago I went through the hardest year of my life so that is a loaded question.  I wish I had known that straying from God's path, turning my back on his laws and going down the path of my will is disastrous and dangerous and very, very, painful. But sadly, I learn from personal experience. I once read a quote that says: "Smart people learn from their experiences, smarter people learn from the experiences of others." I am learning to be smart-er.
6. What makes your heart sing for joy?
Jesus. And my family. Listening to my husband play with my children, laugh with them and have "deep" conversations about God gives my heart wings.
7. What are your favorite foods?
Steak. That's all. I could eat meat all day, every day.
8. What do you look for in a friend? 
A gentle spirit, a sense of humor that does not hurt others, and an open mind to keep growing.
9. How did you come to have a love relationship with God based on faith?
Through valleys and mountains. God has been so faithful to me and I have seen him move in my life in such amazing ways that it is hard not to fall in love. He has wooed me.
10. What do you most want me to know about you? 
Ha! That even though I am not writing as often as I would like, I am reading y'alls posts and trying to keep connected commenting and that I have found a great network of support and encouragement in this blog-world.
11. How can I pray for you today?

That I continue to become the mom, wife, friend, follower of Christ that God wants me to be and that our Haiti adoption moves forward. 

The 11 bloggers I hope will answer my questions (either here in the comments, or on their blog if they accept the Liebster award) are:

Heather at Everyday Evans

Cherith at I, Hope

Jennifer at (truth is I have NO idea how many followers she has, but since it's not posted and I want her to do this...I cheated a little)

Kathleen at Kath Ink

Kendal at A Spacious Place

Karrie at Life From Here

Kristina at Momma's Banter

Christy at One Fun Mom (same story as with Jennifer)

Mary Jo at Seeds of Peace

Mariah at Thee Fire Wife 

I'm borrowing some of the questions Dolly had to answer because they are very good:
1. Do you prefer the sea or the mountains?
2. What is your greatest fear?
3. Why do you blog?
4. How would you describe yourself in a sentence or two?
5. What are your passions?
6. Do you prefer sweet or salty?
7. What does your average day look like?
8. What is the most risky thing you've ever done?
9. Did you learn anything from that risk?
10. What's your favorite book?
11. What is the attribute of God that you cherish the most? 
Rules for receiving this award1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves. 2. Then answer the questions the tagger sent for them, plus create 11 questions for the people they’ve tagged to answer. 3. Choose 11 people and link them in your post. 4. Notify the people you have tagged. 5. No tag backs.
(If you prefer, feel free to just answer my questions as a comment below. I would love to get to know you better!)

September 5, 2012

I am simply not...

I love Wednesday nights…

Dinner at church with the people from the congregation my husband pastors, the Body of Christ to which I belong, my community, sharing the best meals you’ve ever had while we laugh and catch up is the highlight of my week.

After dinner I lead a women’s Bible study. Time with these sisters fills my heart.  They hone me week after week; they are my iron that sharpens this iron. Hearing their stories, celebrating their successes and grieving over their trials with them is my privilege. Sharing the Word with them, discussing it, pulling it apart and devouring it together is a delight to my soul.

Afterwards I get to play the piano for our worship team and sing with them. The practices are mini-worship services that prepare me to worship in community on Sunday.

And yet…I hate Wednesday nights... 

Lovely Jen Ferguson invited me to post at her place as part of her Break the Tape series. Would you come over and finish reading this over here? You just may find a new community to join...