Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Thankful Thursday of sorts

Meeting People Right Where they Are

I think it can be agreed that many of us have been changed exponentially by the beauty of adoption. I think it is a transformation - a tradition and a heritage to do as God commanded and adopt His children. I have been awed many times by the manner in which this red thread has woven through my life and the lives of my family members. Recently, a friend posted a heartfelt testimony to their personal journey at this time. Those are not my details to share, however, it brought back a flood of memories to our own journey and so, I decided to post something just for Kimberley.

Back in the days when I ate, slept and breathed Youth Group, I felt it was an honor and priviledge to lead people to the Truth. (I still feel that way, but am in less visible places to minister to folks). Before I became a leader though, I was a novice, seeking, unsure (funny, many days I am still that novice:). I was 22 when I took my first mission trip and I honestly believed I was a Christian. Yes, I led a decent, faith-filled life, but I didn't truly understand the commitment and personal relationship it would require for me to really live the life. Tex Evans, a southern gentleman who began a crusade of sorts in Appalachian Service Project, designed a mission to re-build coal-mining towns crushed by the lack of economy, growth in health related issues due to the mining profession and to reach a troubled community. His motto, "Meet people right where they are..." This was a hard concept for me - I wanted to change the world. Little did I know how accepting people right where they are is the finest path to changing the world.

I think this motto rings true in our international adoption world as well. Sometimes we need to sit with the grief, accept it right where it is. Sometimes we need accept the joy, appreciate it right where it is, not borrow the worry or trouble that our humanness would borrow. People often give testimonies citing "lightning bolt" experiences - there was this one moment when I knew God was seeking me and I gave it up to Him. Others have a series of flickers leading up to that moment and still others have no particular time when they KNEW, it just was. Accept it just as it is. Adoption is no different, some know immediately, that this is their child, other question, wonder, require time to pray and seek guidance and still others have a rather benign experience, just acceptance that this child before them is theirs, for whatever reason, meant to be.

I wondered. Will I know who she is? How does God decide? Will I love her enough? Do I have what it takes? We asked Emily, "how will we know which baby is ours?". Her reply was always the same, "She is the one wearing blue."

I read book upon book. I googled "attachment", "orphanage" and "sibling rivalry". I did research, attended workshops - you name it, I was prepared. Truth be told, nothing could have prepared me for the emotion of seeing Hannah for the first time. For us, we knew. That was our daughter, she had my lips and the twinkle in her eye. That was her.

When I passed her information to the Adoption Specialists at Children's Hospital, the doctor was concerned. Head circumference. She was too small. The doctor was going on about "failure to thrive". I was crushed. She asked us to pass along the picture, her file did not include the picture. I got off the phone and emailed the doctor. Rob and I sat at the workbench of our playroom and prayed. We looked at Emily, beautiful little Emily...and at the same time we agreed, it doesn't matter, now, we love this perfect peanut from Jiangxi province too. We agreed we were going to accept Hannah, regardless. Meet her right where she is, love her just as she is. The doctor called later that evening after viewing the picture and assured us she felt the size had been mismeasured - it was an error, she felt Hannah was A-OK. We thanked her. We didn't need the assurance so much, we knew.

Two months later, we were on our way. Rob and Jim were packed and ready. They far exceeded anyone's expectations as far as receiving this sweet child and bringing her home safely. All of our preparation and prayer had paid off. We were the proud parents of two beautiful little girls. Only, those first weeks were not nearly as easy as one would hope. Hannah had bonded quickly to Rob. Emily and I were threatening to her at first. She had periods of time where I am certain she was grieving. I watched as she rejected Emily and panicked wondering if it would be okay. Had she had too much trauma? Was love not enough? Some days she would not let me sing to her or hold her close. Was she the one God intended? I had read enough to know to expect this, yet, I felt caught off-guard by it. Amidst some of the tougher moments, Emily in her "wise beyond her years" way would assure me, she was "the one". Funny, because I never vocalized my concern, I suppose she could just tell.

When I released it to God and simply accepted Hannah just as she was, it was amazing the transformation that occurred. I stopped thinking about the big picture and focused on each small milestone. There came a time when I could not recall the weeks that were hard. There were I-love-yous and smiles, hugs and singing, trust. There was trust for all of us.

Not long after we turned the corner, I received a package in the mail. Brian Stuey had found Hannah's Finding Ad for us. I was making dinner when Rob brought it in and when I saw what it was I let the meat burn as I read each word carefully, taking in everything I could about Hannah. Nothing about it surprised us, it was everything we already knew about our little girl. Until the last line..."and she was dressed in double layer blue clothing with flowers." Emily had said for two years she was the one in blue. Sometimes the confirmation of what is absolutely the plan is revealed in timing we were not expecting and across years of flickering moments. Sometimes, we just walk by faith, accept it just as it is and reap the bounty it provides.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen." Hebrews 11:1

One year ago...



Ashley Winters said...

I have a similiar story of acceptance. When we adopted our youngest daughter in May 2007, she came home traumatized with many emotional and behavioral issues. I was frustrated and disappointed, wondering why God punished me. Instead of getting angry, I prayed, and continued praying. One night, I was overcome with a feeling of complete love and acceptance for this child. That gift from God made all of the difference in our healing. Today, a little more than a year later, many of the issues are resolved. Love has replaced her fear and anguish. God is good!

redmaryjanes said...

Thank you so much my friend. I can say that each day has passed easier. The girls are still on my mind and I am praying that God will bring them their families soon. One woman left me a comment that I could be their 'prayer mom' and that is what I am doing.
I know that when I look back at my life, I can see how God planned everything perfectly.
I know one day I will be holding Sophia and look back and see how it all makes sense.
Your friendship and support means so much. Thank you for thinking of me.

MacMui Mom said...

This brought tears to my eyes, since we had some similiarities. Docs were concerned with Mia's weight, but God had confirmed she was the one. There were other issues once we got her that made it hard, but I knew that it was meant to be. Now I can look back and say it was all worth it. Thank you for all the love I feel from your blog!

Oatsvall Team said...

i should not have read this tonight ... the tears are flowing ... feeling like such an emotional roller coaster this past week ... i loved every word ... it is all so true ... Just following God today is all we can do ... meet people where they are at, except the blessings of the moment, and allow them to shape you for tomorrow ...

thanks for such a sweet post... i love your new header ...

sara said...

Oh, this just gripped my heart. Thank, Heather, for sharing your heart and being honest. I needed to hear this tonight. I needed to be reminded that God has "everything under control" if there was ever any doubt :)

Denise C said...

OH my...what prefect, beautiful words....such a blessing to all of us! You are so dear, Heather.
I am wiping tears too!
You are so right...God will meet us right where we are...isn't that just like our Father to love us that much!

Love you sweet friend!!!

Michelle said...

What a beautiful, beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your story.

prechrswife said...

Wonderful post...

Anonymous said...


I love your heart. Beautiful Emily's heart is so precious here. She knew her sister. Amazing!

Joy in The Truth (Sharon Sloan) said...

Warmed again by your words and your heart and your love for Him!

Love the new look of your blog.

I am feeling "home again" from vacation!


Greg And Kimberley Byrd said...

I have known there was a God all my life and was blessed to grow up in a Christian home but did not really have a relationship with Him until I was in my late twenties.

You are right...adoption is the same way. I fell in love with Lottie and she accepted me from the very beginning. Emma Jane and I took much longer to fall in love with each other but we did with God's help.

Beautifully written post.

Beth said...

I remember when you shared that story with me...I'm still getting goosebumps. You've been blessed with two very special girls! What gifts! And, you're friendship is such a gift to me - THANK YOU for your most recent email. Your thoughtfulness means so much! I'll be in touch again soon.

BTW - your new "look" is adorable!

sara said...

Thanks friend!! I saw Lala on your prayer list on the side - did you see that they got their referral for their little BOY in Vietnam????? God is so GOOD!!!!!

sheryl said...

Oh Heather,

I just love this post. You have such a gift of words and always know just what one needs to hear! I have missed you my friend!


2China4Ayla said...

I love this post. Such wise words!

By the way your comment on my blog cracked me up - I say Oh My Golly all the time and my Hannah thinks I am so weird because of it. LOL

mommy24treasures said...

oh that Emily never ceases to amaze me with her precious child like faith! Love hearing her wise words. That touched me the most...
Loved this post. I too had to learn to accept each small milestone and not look at the big picture with my Jacob's development.


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