Looking Back On Our Adoption Journey

John 1224

I know you will remember a time in your childhood when you wondered if you were adopted. Never mind that you look like your parents and laugh at your own jokes exactly like they both do; but, just the same, you will wonder if you were adopted and never told. You will naturally gravitate towards books about orphans.

This is the planting of a seed.

Next, you will have a desire to adopt. You will make this a topic of priority with your fiancé and subsequent husband. Being the Type A planner that you are, even a few months into trying to start a family, you will again give adoption consideration and state, “If we can’t conceive on our own we will adopt.”

This is the watering of a dream.

Two kids, and a few years later, you will read Kisses from Katie and determine that if a twenty-something woman from Tennessee can adopt and foster children on her own in a foreign country, then surely you can foster one child on the way to adoption.

This is sunlight upon fertile soil.

Next you will complete the nearly 10 months of work that it takes to train and paper-approve families to foster. It will be a never ending cycle to prove your family fit to parent a child not your own. You will complain and you will wonder why on earth it will take so much to do a good deed.

This is the breaking forth of a seed out of the dark soil into the sun. 

At last, when you thought the day would never come, you will get the call to pick up your foster son. You will go expectantly with his Thomas the Train backpack and snuggle animal from Target. Then you will meet a child who your heart will forever call son. He will be blonde and beautiful and wild and covered in spaghetti sauce and you will have many long days ahead of you.

This will be the stalk rising from the ground.

For 13 months you will labor, love, and advocate on this child’s behalf. You will sing to him, Jesus Loves Me, and do all the things a mother does. You will watch every single person around you love this little boy like he was your very own son—because in many ways he forever will be your son. You will train him in the way that he should go and pray on his behalf.

This will be the wheat ripe for harvest.  

Finally, at the end of 13 months, you will say good-bye to your little boy as he is reunited with his biological family. It will be one of the hardest and perhaps the most impactful goodbyes you will ever say.

This will be the kernel falling to the ground. 

Months will pass, tears will fall, a new normal will encompass your days, and you will wonder how you ever did it all. You will wonder: can I ever do that again? The answer will not come right away–it will take some years of dormancy and rest; followed by surprises of not one, but two more children through adoption. But in all the waiting, you will say: Loving another child changed my lifemaybe the world in some small way. Then you will tell his story…their stories…your story, so that other families may open their homes to make the difference in the life of a child.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

John 12:24

Stay tuned as our Kickstarter campaign commences on February 1st. Our goal is to print 100 copies for distribution of my first children’s book on adoption, Thirty Balloons: An Adoption Tale. You won’t want to miss a post! So go ahead and sign up to receive email updates. I’d love for you to join our community.

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Waiting for the Green Light

My youngest son has a Mirari OK to Wake! Alarm Clock & Night-Light* he adorably refers to as his night clock. The clock turns green when he is allowed to come out of his room in the mornings, and, before it is time, the light on the clock remains yellow. We made this purchase at the suggestion of a friend after weeks of him waking at 5:45 AM. We’ve mostly trained him to remain in his room until the light turns green and waiting on the green light has become a norm for him.

I can identify with his waiting and watching. Waiting on the green light has become a norm for me and my family as well.

I feel like we’ve been in the yellow-light stage for quite some time on many fronts. Certainly our adoption, in addition to the hopes of purchasing a different home, and the list goes on.

Maybe you’ve felt that too? Perhaps it is a long wait on an adoption, a career change, another child, a new house, relocating, treatment options for an illness, a spouse, or waiting on a loved one to make needed changes. For our family, sitting in a cautionary posture has been our normal for over two and a half years.

I like to tease we are perfecting the art of waiting. I also like to imagine we’ve improved. In fact, most days, I am assured we are perfecting waiting. Because in waiting, real life is lived and our memories are being made. Life doesn’t wait on green lights like we do.

Even this week, another yellow light situation popped up unexpectedly. My husband and I decided that the children’s book we were set to self publish, should be postponed, and a Kickstarter account started, due to the exorbitant costs of printing. The book, a children’s picture book about our youngest son’s adoption, will be available for a free download as a PDF later this month (insert elation here!), but we also hoped to have physical copies to sell. Real books lend themselves to better retention, multiple readings, and little hands to explore them frequently on their own. I’ll let you know more about the Kickstarter in the next few weeks, but for now, suffice it to say, this has provided one more area in our lives where we are waiting on the green light.

In the midst of all of the waiting our family has done, most recently in the last two and a half years, we have seen the benefits of unanswered prayer, or, rather, long-awaited answers. It should come as no surprise that the virtues are endurance, character, and hope.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. ~Romans 5:3-5, NLT

Waiting births endurance, character, and hope, and binds us to Christ in that we love Him more not for what He can offer us, nor less for what He hasn’t provided, but purer for who He is.

So you and I, like my youngest son, may awake daily postured for the appearance of the green light, and we can also learn to love Christ more purely as we wait on Him.

What else has a season of waiting taught you? I’d love to hear about it.

 

 

*Amazon affiliate link.

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Christmas Books to Round Out National Adoption Awareness Month

As we close the last day of National Adoption Awareness Month and turn our eyes towards Christmas, I propose a few more seasonal stories to warm your heart. Tales to remind us of great needs in the world and our abilities to make a change not for every child, but perhaps for just one.

My daughter and I have already listened to and are listening to again, The Christmas Doll. The older kids and I are nearly done with I Saw Three Ships, a new favorite from last year.  I can hardly wait to read aloud Holly and Ivy; a book that spurred me on two Christmases ago just after we met our youngest adopted son and were realizing this would be a long journey. Just how long, we had no idea! Finally, The Matchbox Girl is a beautifully illustrated, sorrowful tale that reminds me of our need to not pass people by. We must look to help in each situation as the Holy Spirit leads us and make a difference in the lives of children God puts in our path.

May you find these stories to be welcome addition to your holiday reading. If you like these, you might also like more of our Christmas favorites over here.

Happy reading and Merry Christmas!

 

 

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Ten Books for Teens to Highlight Orphans and Celebrate Finding Home

This is the last in a three post series analysis of books highlighting orphans and celebrating adoption. Download a free printable list of over 50 books that highlight orphans and celebrate adoption by joining our community of email subscribers (see below) and also visit my picture book and chapter book posts for direct links to these great resources!

These books are rich in words, setting, and storyline. They will be treasured even as they teach and equip your teen. I hope that you and your family enjoy them as much as I have. I linked the audio version of Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan. Trust me, you will enjoy listening to this book! The harmonica pieces throughout bring the story to life in a way that words on a page alone cannot.

Happy reading and Happy National Adoption Awareness Month!

 

 

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20 Chapter Books That Highlight Orphans and Celebrate Finding Home

On Monday I shared with you my new booklist which contains over 50 books to highlight orphans and celebrate adoption. Today I am featuring twenty chapter books from that list. I made a few notations on the printable list that you will want to reference. Each of these stories are stories worth reading and rereading on their own merit. It just so happens that they also contain orphans searching for a place to call home, or plotting to return to the home they have lost, and all of them eager to find a sense of belonging and a place to be known and loved.

These books are like old friends. Once you read these stories, you will be changed by them. The eyes of your heart and mind will be opened a bit more to the life experiences of others and, in turn, to the world as a whole.

One thing that strikes me about this compilation of books, is the quantity of books with boys as the main character. Oftentimes many protagonist are female. That is not the case here. Boys will find The Sign of the Beaver, Maniac Magee, and A Single Shard as wonderful book companions which leave them with an itch for adventure and a desire to become a man. Additionally, Little Men, Just David, and The Green Ember are rich in truth, goodness, and beauty, and provide narratives that encourage bravery of heart and noble acts of service.

Female protagonists in these books are among the greatest in children’s literature, perhaps all of literature. Who can forget Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables), Pollyanna, Betsy, from Understood Betsy, or the beautiful Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm? What if we all played Pollyanna’s glad game or learned to be comfortable with our varying degrees of aptitude as Betsy did in her oneroom schoolhouse? These young ladies, and many more, await your eager readers and family read aloud times.

A few of these chapter books have some sensitive content. Four of those are: Listening for Lions, Indian Captive, Ruby Holler, and The Witch of Blackbird Pond. I loved each of these books and have read or am currently reading all of them aloud to my two oldest who are seven and nine. However, if your children are sensitive to death, and some mention of domestic violence, then you may want to screen these before presenting them to young ears.

Can’t wait to hear from you which of these chapter books become some of your family’s favorites!

 

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15 Picture Books to Celebrate Your Adopted Child

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As we near the close of National Adoption Awareness Month, I would like to share one more book list. (Be sure and see yesterday’s post with a complete list!) These books focus on your adopted child. To preface this list, no one book is going to tell your child’s story. For your child’s story is unique to them. The Bible will tell them the story God wants to write for them, and it will help your child deal with any troubling family histories–have you checked out Jesus’ genealogy lately? However, these picture books are tools and stepping stones to continuing the conversations that you have ongoing in your home. They can be, in the words of Linda Sue Park, mirrors and doors. Your child may see himself or herself reflected in these stories, or they may come to realize that there are children all over the world who are longing for a home.

Please let me know which ones are your or your child’s favorites!

 

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Over 50 Books to Highlight Orphans and Celebrate Adoption

It is wisely proposed that you will be the same person ten years from now aside from the books you read, the places you visit, and the friends you make. Today I want to offer you a list of over 50 books that highlight orphans and celebrate adoption; books that may forever change who you are and who you are becoming. The common thread of these books are that the main characters are orphans, or their lives directly impact orphans. An orphan/ adoption story doesn’t a good book make, but a host of great literature is composed of stories of tragedy, triumph, and grit of young men and women who have lost their families and the journey that they take to overcome the difficulties of their past and present. These are stories that will either reflect your own life, or provide windows to view and learn from lives unlike yours– perhaps lives that you and I can impact for eternal good.

Whether you are an adoptive parent, or a biological parent, seeking books to celebrate your adopted child, champion the cause of the orphan, or encourage your child’s journey, I am sure you will find many stories on this list that will forever capture the heart and imagination of your family. I suggest you pre-read these stories to determine which ones will be best suited to your children if you have children who are sensitive to sorrow. I have personally read each book and would read them to our family according to the age separation that I made on the booklist.  Some of these stories have happy endings, some do not. I have noted the books which present with violence and sensitive content. You know what will be a trigger for your child for either healing or hurt. Many of our children come from hard places, therefore, while reading stories with death or domestic violence will not affect some children, others are highly sensitive and may need to read more lighthearted tales.

 

Another note which I have made on some of these stories involve worldview. Your worldview is the paradigm or framework with which you answer the main questions of life: why are we here, how did we get here, what is the chief end of man, what happens to us after we die? If this is a new topic for you, you may want to read more in my post, Mothers with a Worldview (here). Specifically, in A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, the word magic is capitalized signifying that magic is a deity. This promotes a worldview of mysticism. Additionally, a few passages in the fascinating fictional book, Freckles by Gene Stratton Porter, struck me as promoting a naturalistic worldview. (Read more about this worldview here.) Freckles is a book worth reading and highly recommended! The characters and beauty of the limberlost will remain long after the last page is read. However, though these are two wonderful books with touching stories about orphans, there are also conversations worth having concerning them. (As a side, I noted profanity in the book, Freckles, due to a few times in this book when the Lord’s name is said in an irreverent manner.)

Many of us, no doubt you if you are reading this post, want to supply our children with books rich in truth, goodness, and beauty all the days they are growing in our home. Further, we want them to choose such books for themselves when they are grown and gone from our nest. I have come to the conclusion that many books are good and beautiful, fewer are true, good, and beautiful. Each can be read and appreciated when they are looked at through the proper lenses. We want to equip our kids to recognize and differentiate those books which are simply good and beautiful, and those books which are all three. Next we want them to cling tightly to the true, esteem that which is beautiful, and take the goodness with them always.

I hope that in reading the books found on this list and having conversations about them, that this end of instilling truth goodness and beauty will be met in your home. Further, that the hearts and minds of your children will be encouraged and equipped to show love and kindness to all people, accept who they are and their story in your family, and dream big. With God, all things are possible!

If you have other suggestions to add to this list or specific questions about any of the books therein, please leave a comment or email me at Brooke.Cooney.1@gmail.com. Also, a loving thank you to Kasia at Simply Pchee for designing this beautiful download for us all to print and enjoy. Visit her amazing design sight here.

Happy Reading!

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Of Foster Adoption and Stage Fright

Occasionally, I have a reoccurring dream in which I am on stage for a dance recital and have no idea of the choreography. In full costume and makeup, several thoughts fly through my mind while butterflies race through my stomach. I haven’t practiced this dance. I wasn’t taught the choreography. I can’t wing the whole number!

This may not sound so bad as far dreams go, unless you have years of dance training and performance opportunities as I had in over 16 years of ballet, tap, and jazz lessons. Then, with this knowledge, it will conjure a feeling of abject fear at such a scenario.

Venturing into the foster and adoption world can seem much like being pushed onto a stage full of bright lights and an audience made up of expectant smiles only to realize that you don’t know the steps, you weren’t taught what to do, and you can’t wing the whole thing. In short, you feel overwhelmed and ill equipped.

Six years ago, when my husband and I began the training process to become foster, and, ultimately, adoptive parents, we felt as if we didn’t know exactly what we were doing. We knew God was calling us to adoption, but we decided that He revealed the need for us to foster as well. We were not sure how to love with an open hand to relinquish the children we would foster back to their families should reunification become a reality. We had no idea the system, with case managers, court dates, and guardian ad lietms, would be so taxing on our schedules, emotions, and everyday thoughts: on our family. Quite frankly, we never imagined we would still be in the thick of adoption six years later.

Although we no longer feel as if we have been shoved out on a stage sands choreography, we do feel that the stage hands and the lighting crew aren’t always at the ready. We feel like, to further this scenario, we have the steps of the process, but our production crew doesn’t always have our backs. We aren’t winging it, but we are wondering why with so much practice the production isn’t yet executed with precision. In other words, we are dancing the steps but weary of the show.

But God.

We can testify and do so repeatedly of God’s faithfulness and goodness throughout this entire process which includes one child adopted and one more awaiting adoption. Bringing our child count to a total of four. God has worked in ways that can only be attributed to Him. He has provided for us in gifts from His people. Didn’t he say something about owning cattle on a thousand hills (see here)? We haven’t, nor can’t out give God, and we haven’t, nor can’t frustrate His plans and timing in adoption matters.

Foster care and adoption is not like my reoccurring nightmare because God equips us for every good work before we are presented with the opportunities to carry them out. In fact, it may be more like another real life dancing experience I had.

A lifetime ago, when I was a young 18 years of age, I tried out for the dance team at two universities. The first, which also happened to be my first choice in schools, I did my best and didn’t make the team. The second university, I had a full scholarship but lacked a desire to attend. At that second tryout, I knew the dance and picked up on the choreography quickly. However, that afternoon when it was my turn to perform solo, my brain froze. Unlike any other performance in my life, I completely forgot all of the steps. The school representatives were gracious and let me try two or three times with the same results. Even though I flopped the audition, I still received a call later that evening that I had made the team!  That was 18 years ago now, and I don’t remember the timing of everything, but I do remember that I turned them down, turned down the full-ride, and ended up at my top choice school with a meager scholarship and the chance to meet my husband my freshman year.

Foster care and adoption is more like the second story in that you’ve prepared, failure isn’t fatal, the process will be trying and frustrating at times, but God’s ways are higher and His knowledge beyond ours. He sees the bigger picture and knows that bumps along the way shape our character and faith in such a way that we look more like Him when we finish our performance and we end up right where we need to be.

If you or someone you know is considering foster care and foster adoption, you might want to check out these past posts here. Also know, cold feet are a natural part of the process!


 

 

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