Expecting vs. Expecting

I think mothers who are expecting through adoption are treated differently than mothers who are expecting children born of their own blood line. In my mind there are some physical differences but when it comes down to it, we are really not that different. Sure, my tummy is not growing. I do not have regular OB doctor appointments. I do not get nauseated at certain smells. My back and feet do not hurt constantly. No food is off limits to me and, thankfully, I can have a glass of wine or margarita whenever I want.

But in a lot of ways we are the same. Adoption is an emotional roller coaster, just like pregnancy. Most days I am a distracted, emotional mess. (Those of you who know me well, know that being emotional is not something that I frequent). We are thinking of names. We are picking out clothes. We are preparing the room. We are excited! Our newest addition is constantly on our minds. Everyday we pray for their protection. We pray for their health. We are planning for their future. We long for the day when we get to hold them in our arms and see them face to face. We dream of what that day will actually be like to feel their skin against ours and look into their eyes knowing this is forever. We are in this for the long haul. The day we meet them, will not be the first day we love them.

So, you see, we’re not that different. As mothers (and fathers), we all have committed in our hearts to love a child we have not met!

Here are a few things that are happening differently around here than when we were pregnant with our first child.

The clothes I wear are different!

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The books I read are different!

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The videos we watch are different!

Doughty Story from Healing Place Church on Vimeo.

And, the prep class is (a lot) different! But we won’t post any photos from that.

This child was birthed in our hearts!

We are expecting!!

And though, my tummy is not growing, are hearts certainly are!

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All We Need is L.O.V.E

We’ve been getting ready for Valentine’ s Day around here. And this Valentine’s Day I can’t help but think about our little one across the ocean. Is he being loved? Is someone showing kindness to her? Is someone holding him? Is there someone who lets her know that when she cries, they will be there to comfort her and meet her needs? Love has taken on a totally different meaning this year as we think about it in the context of adoption. There are approximately 150 million children that may never experience real love. These children may have never heard the words “I love you,” and possibly never will. This thought is chilling to me as love is something I have taken for granted so many times. I say “I love you” often, but I don’t always display my love for others as I should. I’m fortunate to have parents who loved me before I was even born and as I grew up, they taught me how to love others.

My, how this heart is extraordinarily blessed to have friends, parents, and family members to share my love with and be loved by. I feel honored to be born into a family who continually shows me unconditional love. And even more blessed by a God who loves me so much in the midst of my selfish, unloving days. I’ve never felt more loved by God until I became a mother. In those moments of overwhelming, heart swelling, gut wrenching love for my children, I think about God’s love for me. There is nothing my son (plus one on the way) could ever do to stop my love for them. It’s amazing to think that’s only a glimpse of the way God feels for his children.

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I challenge you today, as you celebrate love, to share it with someone who may be lacking in love. Share love with someone you know who is lonely, some you know who is angry, or someone you don’t know at all. Everyone one needs love! It’s something you can’t ever have too much of.

I sure do hope by the time the next Valentine’s Day rolls around we will be showering our new little one with hugs, kisses, and, most importantly, LOVE!

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How much do I love you? In the words of our favorite (almost) 2 year old, with his arms stretched wide, “OOOOOOOOH Much!”

Why China?

We are adopting from China! You may ask, “Why China? China seems like it is economically capable of taking care of orphans.” This is the same reason why we were not initially interested in adopting from a country that appeared so vast and could essentially “take care of their own.” Besides, China seemed like a popular place to adopt. So, why not adopt from a different country where people aren’t lined up to help rescue kids? Well, unfortunately, for children with “special needs” people are not lined up to help. In fact, these kids are not even considered adoptable by their own culture. Many times when the child’s family finds out they have a medical condition they are abandoned either because the family does not want a child with a deformity or disease or because they cannot afford to care for the child.

What is “special needs”? Many of the orphans waiting in Chinese orphanages are labeled “special needs.”  They are labeled “special needs” because they have a medical need or needs. When this was first presented to us, our initial reaction was this was not something we were interested in. Our first thought was we cannot move forward because we cannot afford it – we cannot handle a “special needs” child. We wanted to say no, but we both agreed that we couldn’t say no until we looked into it further and covered it in prayer. We quickly learned that the list of commonly seen needs in these children varies from minor (a severe birthmark), to correctable (a club foot, cleft lip and palate or heart defect), to more moderate and severe needs (cerebral palsy to spinal bifida).  We also learned that it is very difficult to survive life in an institution as a healthy orphan, but these “special needs” children are the most vulnerable and even in an institution’s care are sometimes still uncared for.

As a family born in the U.S. making more than $33k per year, we are among the top 1% wealthiest in the world. This is totally within our capabilities. We may have to scale back a little and adjust to what’s really important. But we quickly realized that this label of “special needs” was more out of our comfort zone than our capabilities.

As believers in Christ, we are called to care for the orphan. James 1:27 states, “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” Jesus was and is passionate about the orphan. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18

After much prayer and research, we decided this is the path we should take. Of course, there is added risk involved, but there is not much you can do in life that comes without risk. We do not have all the answers on how we will deal with these medical needs. Yet, we realized God’s perspective is different than ours. He will make a way when we cannot see a way. All we are called to do is obey. (We are already seeing Him providing for us as we step out in faith).

Finally, I’ll leave you with some photos we took yesterday at the Austin Asian Cultural Center. It is the beginning of the Chinese New Year. We are excited to learn more about this culture that will be a part of our family forever! It was Fun!!

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Ollin loved watching the girls perform!

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His name in Chinese!

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Learning how to make Chinese crafts!