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 to Highlight Orphans and Celebrate Adoption or see my picture book and chapter book posts for direct links.

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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Thirty Balloons: An Adoption Tale

Once upon a time, there was a little blonde-haired, blue-eyed baby boy in need of a place to call home. He needed a mom, a dad, and a few siblings to grow alongside.

A few miles away was a family looking for a child to love forever. The family had a mom and a dad and two children searching for a child to coddle, wrestle, chase, kiss, and teach about the love of the King.

One day, after several months of seeking out such a child, the blonde-headed, blue-eyed baby bounced into their place of worship. He was safely held, that is,  in the arms of a family caring for him until such a time as he was matched with his forever family. For the daddy of the family in search of a baby, it was apprehensive love at first sight. For the mommy, it was a bit of confusion because she thought they were called to love a brown-haired, brown-eyed baby girl. More about her later as she wouldn’t come along for another year…but that would be getting ahead in the story.  After one visit with the baby boy in her home, the mommy, also, was forever in love with the blonde-haired, blue-eyed baby boy.

In fairy tales, evil always ensues before the damsel is rescued, the family reunited, or the kingdom saved. Real life mimics fairy tales because fairy tales mimic real life. This little boy’s story had many a dark and looming cloud.

For nine months the boy and the family grew to know and love one another. They shared firsts and celebrated milestones. The mommy and daddy, and the boy’s temporary family, sent e-mails, made phone calls, attended meetings, and petitioned judges before the blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy bounced into the family’s home to stay. (Only modern day stories include phone calls and emails, but they are no less valiant, mind you, than decrees and messengers riding through the night to save the kingdom, rescue the damsel, or reunite the family.)

All throughout these months, and the ones which would ensue, a host of people within the Kingdom began to pray and petition the King for the boy to be placed with this family. Countless men, women, and children throughout the land would ask the King to place the boy with the family forever, and, quickly! The petitions of the people were being heard and would be answered in time.

Shortly after the boy came to live with his soon-to-be family, the court discovered an error that had to be addressed for this story to turn a final page into the second portion of its tale. This error would take ten more months to come to light and, thereafter, be rectified.

All this time, the months were accumulating  while the boy was waiting for the royal proclamation to give him a family. It would be thirty months until the proclamation would be granted. Thirty months before the blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy would be given his royal name–that name which his family prays is already written in the scrolls of the Kingdom as in this kingdom. Thirty months until…forever.

Thirty months came and went before this big day arrived…

As the boy and his family experienced the declaring of the proclamation that would unite them for all of their life in this kingdom, they thought of how quickly the thirty months passed in retrospect. Like thirty balloons being lifted to the sky and released in a moment’s time with the wave of a hand, the loosing of a grip, the relinquishing of power.

The weight of the wait was intense and a load, at times, seemingly unbearable. But upon the royal decree, the weight instantly became as light as air. All the cares of the past were lifted away to be replaced by a focus on the future and on raising a knight for the Kingdom.

Lest you forget, fairy tales are full of woe before wonder, and this fairy tale will be like the others and, similarly, unlike. Good days and gloomy days lurk ahead, but this day was a day two kingdoms celebrated with thirty balloons and triumphant shouts filling the chasm between. Maybe, just maybe, one of those balloons reached the other side and greeted others who have waited in like fashion.

*This story is a prologue to another story still unfolding. If it weren’t for this one, the later would never be possible. Woe lurks, but wonder is on the other side. The Kingdom prays and the King whispers, Courage dear heart.


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Using Books to Cultivate a Heart for Orphans and Adoption

My passion for adoption started growing long before my adult years. It came as a result of the planting of the Holy Spirit, and it also came in the form of story. Books cultivate life experiences in a safe environment and develop compassion and sympathy, passion and purpose, in children prior to their ability to act on those feelings.

As we enter into the cooler, cozier days of November, it is a perfect time to introduce, or perhaps continue the narration of, stories to our children which cultivate a heart for orphans and adoption. There is a lengthy list at Good Reads and here are a few of my favorites to get you started. I tend to recommend these as read aloud books to be shared with the whole family in order to encourage dialogue. Not all of these books are serious, but they all prompt us to think about orphans and begin cultivating a heart for orphan care and adoption in our homes. As with all books we share with our children, please be sure and preview the content to make sure it is age appropriate and sensitive to the specific environment of your child’s history and emotional maturity.

Don’t have children of your own? That’s okay too! As C.S. Lewis stated, A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.

Read Alouds for K4-3rd grade or older:


Read Aloud Books for 3rd and Up:

 

 

Older students (young adult):

 

One more that is on my to-be-read pile and was recently highlighted in this week’s episode of the Read Aloud Revival Podcast is:

Which books have you used to bring awareness of orphan care and adoption into your life and home? What books would you add to this list? I have always gravitated to books about orphans and in the coming weeks will unfold as much as I am presently allowed about our current adoption journey. Stay tuned!

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Valuing Our Children’s Unique Pasts

Please welcome my new friend, and fellow foster-adoption mama, April Swiger, as she shares a part of her family’s foster-adoption story. For more information on the foster-adoption journey, please see the links below to her blog and her new book, Dignity and Worth: Seeing the Image of God in Foster Adoption. Welcome, April, to This Temporary Home!

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Upon meeting someone a few years ago, Adam and I shared our adoption plans with her.

Without missing a beat, she replied, “You’re not adopting from foster care, are you? All of those children are damaged!”

I didn’t know how to respond. At the time, we were trying to adopt an infant, so I probably mumbled something about that fact, hoping to appease my new acquaintance and end a terribly awkward conversation.

When I recall the thoughtless things that people have said to me, that interaction strikes me as unusually devastating. The issue isn’t that the comment offended me personally—although it did—so much as it is that the comment promoted the faulty belief that children in foster care or from orphanages abroad are not worth adopting, that their lives can’t be redeemed.

Many of the children who have been in foster care or orphanages have experienced neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, homelessness, hunger, and/or domestic violence. The trauma they have experienced often leads children to cope through unusual behaviors. They may rock themselves to sleep in silence because no one is there to hold them and meet their needs, they may use feces to ward off an abuser, or very young children may begin to parent even younger siblings because no one else will. Suffering has trained their brains to respond to events in certain ways, ways that the child who is born into a loving, structured, and stable family has never had to learn.

In addition to abnormal behaviors, children’s responses may take the form of developmental and cognitive delays, attachment disorders, learning disabilities, and other challenges. These challenges likely won’t disappear as soon as a child has been moved into a safe home. Foster children often need to learn how to trust other people again, or for the first time. This learning journey requires time, effort, and thoughtful parenting strategies that may differ from the status quo.

Over the years, I’ve received a handful of comments similar to the “damaged kids” remark. When I find this happening, I try to draw attention to the gospel and to the way that God values human life. My goal isn’t to rebuke others but to remind myself of this truth and to be an ambassador for children who can’t advocate for themselves, who can’t explain that they are not too “damaged” or “too far gone” for adults to invest in them.

Isn’t that the gospel? We were dead in our sin, totally damaged by the effects of the fall, separated from God, and unable to save ourselves. Without Jesus and the resurrection, sin makes us “too far gone” in the sense that there is no hope for salvation through our efforts. God sent his son to live a perfect life, die for our sin, rise from the dead, save us, and bring us close to him. Salvation makes us new creations who have access to the Father’s throne through divine adoption. There is eternal hope in this gospel and immense hope for foster children because there is one God who restores relationships in this life and the next.

To be clear, I’m not advocating that foster parents take on a savior mentality. Adoptive parents are not Jesus, and we are not doing our children any favors by “rescuing” them from foster care, as if adoption is strictly about charity. These children owe us nothing. They are welcomed into our families, fully and completely, regardless of where they come from, how they behave, or who they grow up to be. Adam and I never expect our children to be grateful that we chose to parent them and, ultimately, adopt them.

On a related note, Christians are instructed to care for the fatherless, specifically in James 1:27, which says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” Caring for the fatherless is a practical way to live out our faith in Christ. Life is valuable and full of purpose, and foster children, with everything they have lost, deserve a family where they can experience that life.

I say it all the time: We have the best kids. Adam and I often pause in the kitchen, look at each other, and ask, “How in the world did we get such great kids!?” God has been very kind to us.

To be honest, though, I didn’t exactly experience love at first sight when Jayda arrived. In that moment, fear eclipsed love. Jayda had no obvious flaws, but we had never been parents before and were terrified.

After only a few hours, this little boy was winning over our hearts with his high-pitched toddler giggle, extensive vocabulary, and love for eating ketchup on everything. Our affection for him hasn’t waned a bit; it’s only grown since those first few days together. We knew the importance of committing to Jayda, and parental affection flowed from our hearts as we made the choice to attach to a child we might lose.

 

Excerpt from chapter three (Valuing Our Children’s Unique Pasts: Learning How to Honor and Respect Their Losses) from Dignity and Worth: Seeing the Image of God in Foster Adoption.

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April Swiger is a wife, mother to two awesome little boys (Jayda and Zay), homemaker, and blogger. In 2013, her family moved to her home state of Connecticut, where her husband, Adam, serves as the worship pastor at Christ the Redeemer Church. Living in a 100-year-old farmhouse, being debt-free, cooking nourishing food, and enjoying introvert-friendly activities are some of her favorite things.

You can join her for more “Faithfulness in the Mundane” at www.aprilswiger.com and Instagram.com/aprilswiger/.

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Children and Spiritual Warfare

Children and Spiritual Warfare 

When Jesus saw it, He was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me. Don’t stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” ~Mark 10:14, HCSB

Why is it so hard to adopt mama? This is a question that one or both of our children have posed over the past eight months in which we have actively sought to adopt. The adoption process started almost five years ago for our family, but we ventured the path of foster care initially.

Why is it so hard to adopt? Why indeed?

I believe the answer which Russell Moore gives in the simple, short, and pertinent read, Adoption What Joseph of Nazareth Can Teach Us About This Countercultural Choice,  is true, the protection of children isn’t charity…it’s spiritual warfare. Satan hates children. Jesus loves children. In fact, He came the first time in the form of a newborn babe. Protecting children, be it through foster care, adoption, or advocating and working to end sex trafficking or abortion is recognizing the Imago Dei in every life.

The demonic powers hate babies because they hate Jesus. When they destroy “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40, 45), the most vulnerable among us, they’re destroying a picture of Jesus himself, of the child delivered by the woman who crushes their head (Genesis 3:1;5).

Children also mean blessing–a perfect target for those who seek only to kill and destroy (John 10:10).

When we adopt–and when we encourage a culture of adoption in our churches and communities–we’re pictureing something that’s true about our God. We, like Jesus, see what our Father is doing and do likewise (John 5:19). And what our Father is doing, it turns out, is fighting for orphans, making them sons and daughters.

~ Russell Moore, Adoption What Joseph of Nazareth Can Teach Us About This Countercultural Choice

It only takes a glance at some of the day’s headlines to realize there is a war on children. Planned Parenthood advocating not only abortion, but involved in the selling of aborted babies body parts. The molestation of young boys in Afghanistan which our military has been ordered to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to (see here). The gunning down of a 10 year old boy –who had left fighting in Afghanistan to return to school–by the Taliban. The reported 10,000 missing migrant children who may have been trafficked and lost in a world of abuse. The headlines ream on.

The devil has it out for children (listen to the fourth section of Albert Mohler’s Daily Briefing for more on this topic); the church must stand ready to fight the good fight of faith on their behalf. How are we as the church and as individuals promoting a culture of life? What are some ways in which we can take up our shield of faith, sword of the Spirit, and go with our feet shod with the Gospel message? Let’s stand guard and defend the children of our day.

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Lessons for Every Day

Every day there are lessons to learn, truths we must remember, and His promises that we must cling to.

Our lives have significantly changed adding a third child to the mix. It feels we are in constant motion trouble shooting one situation after another. Ron and I joke that I need to start wearing black and white vertical stripped shirts and have the kids call me “Ref” as I referee most of their waking hours.

The verses from last week’s post need to be printed out and referred to daily in our home. In fact, perhaps I simply need to staple them to my forehead?!  I am constantly reminding myself not to complain, to use kind words, to treat others the way that I want to be treated while simultaneously pointing the finger at the children and instructing them to do the same.

The lessons that I want our kids to learn first need to be modeled in their own mom and dad before they can adequately take root. This is true for everyday lessons and in missional, intentional living.

With our step into foster care there have been multiple people who have told me, “I think it is great what you are doing. I wanted to foster, but I couldn’t bare the goodbyes. It would be too hard for me to say goodbye.”

I felt the same way initially. Ron and I were only open to adoption in the beginning. We didn’t think we were “made” to foster. The change in our attitudes came when we realized that there are more children than homes with foster parents. We learned that many of these kids were living in group homes or separated from their brothers and sisters.

We were reminded that all of our children are with us temporarily. The truth is, there are only finite days that God gives us to parent our children before they leave the nest. We decided that we will take the days given us with as many children as we choose to foster over our lifetime; be it one or twenty.

The final kiss goodbye to our sweet Little E is not something that I look forward to with anticipation. I am still relying on today’s grace for today’s race and will leave what remains to God. We continue taking our fears and frustrations to Him as often as we need to in prayer.

My emotions are no different than the next person. I, and all of my family, get attached. We love deeply, we apologize often, we forgive one another and live alongside each other with the love God has given us. This is no less true in foster care.

His love never changes(Hebrews 13:8), the people in our lives in which we can share His love do change.

If you or someone you know has any interest in foster care or adoption I encourage you to take a step in faith. It is a wild and difficult ride…one that our family has only begun. Perhaps hearing from a couple that has adopted multiple times would help? I encourage you to join us at our church to hear guest speaker Tony Dungy and his wife, Lauren, as they share their adoption story. Click here for more details.

You might think that learning everyday lessons every day seems elementary, but mastering everyday lessons isn’t. Keep at it friends…every day.

With love,

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Pour Another Cup

 

Today as I pour my morning cup of coffee it is with the realization that number three is days away from making his or her debut. We have decided not to find out the sex of the baby; rather I should say we haven’t made preferences known. We were officially licensed for foster care last Thursday, September 27, 2012. It happened only minutes after we picked our kids up on our return from the Grand Canyon.

I half expected a phone call in the night on Thursday: foster care families are in high demand. An empty bed is a scarce commodity in our county and little bodies in transition ready to fill them are at all time highs. Thankfully, we made it through the night without a call.

I am certain that God has plans in this foster care/adoption journey and they begin and end with giving Him glory. In the middle is pruning and sanctification; both of which I and my family need.

As we prepare for baby number 3, I consider the sacrifices that parents of young children are called to make. Another baby will ground us more. It is only in the last year alone, our children were “old enough” to leave overnight for the very first time to go on mission to Honduras and just recently a GTD trip (click here) to celebrate 10 years of marriage. Trips like these may have to be revisited later than I would like. That is the hard truth we face as we begin to foster; however, equally true is the fact that the babies that will enter and exit our home are known and loved by their Creator God and He has chosen us to be a part of their journey.

I pray for these children, as I pray for our own, that in the time we are blessed to raise them (even in those moments I do not want to pour another cup of milk or change another dirty diaper) that their early years will have a lasting, visible effect as that seen in the life of Moses:

By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.

~Hebrews 11:24-26

We want all the children who pass through our home to have a Homeward focus because of being here and influenced by the living and active word of God: the Bible.

So we will ask the Holy Spirit to pour another cup of grace, mercy, provision, and wisdom into our hearts and minds through prayer, the Bible, and His people so that we may turn and pour Him into the lives of His kids.

Please pray for us on this journey. Thank you sincerely for reading friend.

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Tomorrow’s Race

Each child is a gift from God. No matter how children come to us, they are made in His image and were created to bring Him glory. Ron and I are blessed with two such children. We are seeking to adopt to make it one more.

As we have considered adoption we are now pursuing a license to foster as well. People will caution that you shouldn’t foster to adopt. However, this scenario happens and we are hoping that it does so for us.

Two nights ago Joshua was pushing his over-sized dump-truck outside and went down hard after he raced his truck bobsled style down a small slope in our court. He incurred two pretty nice knee scrapes that kept him awakening multiple times in the night. With little sleep from frequent calls for mom and dad, I came back to bed muttering, “And I want to foster only newborns?” Oh my!

Yesterday on the very few hours of sleep that I did manage to get, I kept asking, “Is foster care really going to work for us?”

The truth is, I really don’t know.

With another night of minimal hours of sleep, I awoke early this morning to some much needed quiet time to read.  I need that early morning time alone to be with my Father…and uninterrupted silence is golden. In my study I came upon these verses that spoke directly into my worried heart concerning tomorrow.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

~Matthew 6:33, 34 ESV

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

~Hebrews 13:20, 21 ESV

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

~James 1:5-8 ESV

God promises grace for today and hope for tomorrow. I cannot rely on today’s grace for tomorrow’s race.

What worries do you need to give God today that require tomorrow’s graces?

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