Seven Books that Encouraged Me Along Our Adoption Journey

I’ve written a good deal about my booklist that highlights orphans and celebrates adoption. It all started long ago when as a young girl, I knew I wanted to adopt. My hands reach out for books daily, whether at home, the library, a used bookstore, or while looking at the bookshelves of every home I visit. It never fails to surprise me the number of books that pass my hands where the protagonist is an orphan or an adopted child.

I didn’t initially set out to make a list of books about orphans, but I recognized that over many years my pile of books with orphan and adoption themes grew. Then I considered it might be a wonderful way to encourage and inspire others who want to adopt, are adopted, or those who genuinely enjoy a good book in general. So the orphan/adoption booklist was born.

Today, I want to give you seven specific books that encouraged me along our adoption journeys: one completed and one yet to be completed. These are books which can be read aloud to your family or independently by you or your child. They are the books which encouraged us to start this journey, stay the course, and find our voice reflected articulately on a printed page. (*All links are affiliate links.)

The book that encouraged us to venture into foster waters when adoption was our end goal was Kisses from Katie. The author, Katie Davis Majors, was a recent high school graduate when she decided to move to Uganda for a year of mission work. Before the year was over, it was obvious to her that she would be staying much longer, indefinitely in fact, as she began the process of foster care and adoption of 13 Ugandan girls. Hers is a story of inspiration and hope.

Another book that prompted perserverance was Eric Metaxas’ book on William Wilberforce. Wilberforce labored over 20 years to bring about the abolition of the slave trade in the British Colonies. His is a testament of tenacity and a story that will keep you putting one foot in front of the other moving in the direction of your destiny. 

Next, Dr. Russell Moore’s book, Adopted for Life, was such an articulate read that really put into words many of the thoughts I hold on adoption and helped me to consider how we will talk about our blended family unit at present and in the future.

Two picture books that captured my heart and provided encouragement and beauty for our whole family are:

Two chapter books which encouraged me and are great read alouds for the entire family are:

 

Perhaps, or most likely, certainly, because books have been such a huge influence on my life, I have chosen to share our youngest son’s adoption story in a picture book format. I cannot wait to share it with you! Next week you can access a pdf downloadable version with information on how to get your hands, and those of your children’s, on a physical copy of the book. Real books are better books, in my humble opinion, because they lend themselves to sharing, reading and retaining across multiple senses, and rereading. Stay tuned!

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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.

 

(post originally published 2014)

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Standing At the Gate

Last year my family took our first trip to Bush Gardens, a local theme park full of fabulous rides and amazing animals. We met up with some friends and our children quickly ran off to ride a few of the roller coasters. After several turns on Cobra’s Curse, a few of us wanted to try out Cheetah Hunt. Cheetah Hunt is known for its speed and length.

As several of the kids, and two of us parents, raced to the entrance, the park worker stopped my oldest son and measured him.

You have to be forty-eight inches to ride this particular roller coaster. Our son was only forty-six inches. His heart fell as did his dreams, and the empathetic feelings of this mama bear soared. We encouraged him that when he grew the required height we would be back to tackle the coaster.

Imagine his excitement as month after month he longed to grow those two additional inches to return and ride Cheetah Chase. Now, fast forward one year. Not only has our son grown three inches, we additionally purchased annual passes to Bush Gardens as our children’s Christmas presents.

Last week we took our first trip to enjoy our annual passes. The weather was a beautiful, crisp fifty-five degrees. While wonderfully unexpected cold weather for southern Florida, it was apparently not the ideal conditions for theme park rides as our two favorites were shut down for most of the day.

As we were about to exit the park without having rode a single coaster, we heard Cheetah Chase running and my two oldest kids and I ran to claim our place in line.

We patiently and expectantly waited our turn. Soon enough, we were the next to board, standing at the gate moments away from his and my first time on the ride when suddenly we hear, Ladies and gentlemen, we regret to inform you we are experiencing technical difficulties and Cheetah Chase will be closed at this time. We have no way of knowing how long a delay this will be. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Disappointment and sadness momentarily came over my son. We had to get back to my husband who was watching the two younger children, one of which most certainly needed a diaper change by now. I couldn’t wait an unknown time to be the first in line on a ride that had shut down multiple times that day. I didn’t think that would be wise of me as a mother. Let some other people be the first to try it I explained to my children after begrudgingly waiting five minutes for the problem to be fixed. All the while we waited watching a coaster full of people stuck a few feet away on the track.

As we were leaving the park, and a few times after that, I told my son how I was sorry we couldn’t ride Cheetah Chase, or even Cobra’s Curse, that day. But I was certain God was growing character in him, even as he had grown him already in height, and for that I was grateful. I explained to him that in the waiting he was developing character and patience. Delayed gratification is a good thing after all.

We as parents often pray for our children that they would grow like Christ, in wisdom, and stature, and in favor with God and man. (Luke 2:52) However, when it comes to the means that God may allow for that growth, we instead ask Him, please make a way for my child, please let this cup pass, please allow this process to speed along, please let him or her make the team Lord, please give them… xyz.

We ask for growth in wisdom and stature and we need to lean in and trust God’s processes even when it hurts. Moreover, we, you and I, emphasis on I, must learn to thank Him for those times. That’s hard! As fleshly parents we want the easy way for our kids. But the Bible tells us that God’s way is the straight and narrow road, even as His yoke is easy and His burden is light, and few find this way.  (See Matthew 11:30 and Matthew 7:13)

You see, my son has lamented his size in comparison to his peers only a few times. I’ve prayed and sympathized over it multiple times hoping he wouldn’t be burdened with comparison! He accepts who he is and leans into the gifts of determination, tenacity, grit, and encouragement that God has given him. Even if he doesn’t consciously recognize this at his young age. His size is something God is using to conform him to the image of Christ.

What about you? What are you standing at the gate of, next in line and awaiting your turn? What seems like you are forever waiting on? Now ask yourself, what lessons am I learning in this waiting? How have I changed as a person because of the delays in my life? So that, when your turn comes, when my turn comes, we will walk through the gate a changed person from the one that first approached it.

Standing at the gate with you,

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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.

 

 

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A Darkened Christmas Tree

Earlier this week I was taking a moment to sit at the dinning room table and enjoy a cozy cup of coffee along with the lights and sights of our rotating Christmas tree. Suddenly, a little pop erupted and the lights flashed off. As the darkened tree continued to rotate without the glow of the lights, my spirit fell. How would I locate the exact bulb which had blown out of the hundreds on the tree? Where do you even start to check? I’d text my husband and wait on him to get home, that’s where I would start!

As the hours passed before it was time for my husband to be home from work, I could sense that the lights going out on the tree affected my so called Christmas Spirit. Advent, or awaiting the coming of Christ, is certainly at the forefront of our family celebrations, but the Christmas tree is the glowing center of our home throughout December.

The absence of light is how darkness is defined. Darkness isn’t an entity of itself, it is a state of deficiency, want, nothingness. Christ came as the light into our dark, deficient, sin-stained world. Apart from Christ’s incarnation, there would be no light of which to sing or celebrate at Christmas.

Praise God that Emmanuel has come! For people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. (See Matthew 4:16, Isaiah 9:1-2)

Later that evening when my husband arrived, he knelt to inspect the tree. Just as he did, I remembered that the coupling for the lights was located at the base of the tree, quickly factored in the curiosity of our two toddlers, and suggested he start there. Thankfully, that one connection was the solution to our darkened Christmas tree, just as Christ is the all sufficient light that shines into the darkness we once walked in.

May your days be merry and bright,


 

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Our Christmas Offering

Recently I recorded a podcast that will air later this winter. It was an opportunity that I have been excited about for months on months. After the recording call ended I immediately felt two things. First, gratitude. I was, and remain, immensely grateful for the opportunity. Secondly, I began to worry. I second-guessed my performance and replayed in my mind what I would do differently…for days! I even worried about a portion I may have blundered. Real spiritual and mature of me right? That’s what recovering perfectionists do.

It wasn’t until the Sunday after the recording, that a thought hit me. If all I have to offer is myself, then I will always come up short. However, with God, my offering is always enough. 

I think this truth goes for more than my podcast offering. It additionally applies to our Christmas offerings as well. We want our families to remember certain things about their holiday experiences. We know that only a few gifts our children receive will make it into their long term memory, but the environment that we create for them will carryover into adulthood and last a lifetime.

I’m fairly certain that Mary and Joseph felt similarly. Most likely they questioned how they would ever live up to parenting the Messiah. How does one go about raising the Son of God? In offering themselves with God, they were offering exactly what Jesus needed as fully God and fully man. So too, in offering ourselves with God, we offer all that is necessary this Christmas season.

As we seek to provide a warm, rich, holiday experience for our children, let’s remind ourselves this one thing: No matter what our goals are the Christmas season, with God, our Christmas offerings are always enough.

Merry Memory Making,

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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!

 

 

*If you are reading this in your email head on over to the original post for the book links here.

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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

adoption-picture-books

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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