We have been home for 14 months. I figure I should update :)!
Much has happened since this update… this should be fun.
I just wanted to write a little bit about why we are doing this and what we believe. Justin and I both believe that God put James 1: 27 for us (not just us) and I will tell you why. We prayed for years and told God that we were willing to move ANYWHERE God wanted us to, we just wanted to be used by Him in that place. Well about 3 or 4 months after moving here Ashton's best friend's daddy died, leaving behind 3 kids and a wife. We were put front and center to watch what a widow went through and be apart of her life. Then two years ago Justin's best friend died in a tragic accident, leaving behind 3 kids a wife. We again have become front seat to suffering of a widow. Though I know I do not always answer that call with grace, I KNOW God has put a tremendous call to care for the widowed and now the orphan. I do not take this call lightly. I also do not want to give the impression that we are perfect in this roll - God uses the imperfect - Praise Him! I will continue to press forward and as I stumble and fall flat on my face I will cry out to God to pick me up. I will not stand in the fear of "the unknown" - there are many unknowns of life - I will not be crippled by it.
There have been a lot of question so we thought we would type out some of our feelings and answers to those.
Q.)How are you going to handle more than 4 children?
A.) I absolutely cringe at this question because I got that a lot when I was going from 3 to 4 children and it set a false fear in me. Having a 4th child for me has been the most transforming experience pertaining to the way that I parent. I spent many years parenting in FEAR - fear one would get hurt, fear one would get sick, fear, fear, fear. Well God knew that in me and He also knew what I needed. Once Lily was here and I had 4 small children I could no longer Nazi mommy. I had always had a FALSE sense that I could control their lives and every situation if I tried hard enough (terribly exhausting). I was in a stomach ache quite a bit. Once Lily was here I had to let go of a lot of that FALSE control ( I never really had it to begin with). Once I started to let go it was replaced by more love than I had ever had for my family. It was extremely freeing! So to say more children would be too much - my reply to that would be that I am looking forward to the hidden blessing God has in store for this next child entering into our family too!
(Justin) The same way I handle the four we already have. Before Ashton was born I remember standing in the kitchen with Shauna and telling her all the reasons I was NOT equipped to be a dad. After my long list of things I couldn't do, my newly pregnant wife looked at me and lovingly said "well you will just have to learn". Now, many years and four kids later I realize she was right... sort of. I have learned how to do a few of those things, but mostly I have learned that where I fall short, I must rely on God all the more. I don't think for a minute that I have "arrived" but rather I want to "...press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Phil. 3:14.
Having 5 has been no big deal. In fact #4 and #5 play all day! Seriously, not lying. Going in public can be a challenge but other than that ...... it has been great! Shatters fear of the "more" question! Not even on the radar anymore. Having more is only a blessing!
Here I sit, being mommy of 6[!] for over a year now. How do I manage? I have to be straight up…. having 6, with these ages, is much easier than other stages of parenting I have been in. Maybe it's because I have been blessed with amazing kids, maybe I make them pull more weight than other moms, but I truly enjoy this stage and being a mom of many.
Q.) How can you afford to have more children?
A.) I think as Americans we see it as a negative that children may share a room or not get everything they want. I can not see the benefits of giving a child everything they have ever desired. I actually see it as setting them up for failure - once they grow up they will have to face the harsh reality of having to work, etc. We also would like to instill in our children that material things are fleeting - relationships are worth much more!
(Justin) We can't. At least not in the sense that most people think of "afford". Before we had kids (all 14 months of our marriage) I thought I was pretty happy. After we had kids I knew I was. Children are a blessing from God and I thank Him every day for blessing me so abundantly. I have learned SO much from my kids. I see God's love in them constantly. Two weeks ago Lily and I had our birthdays. Hunter (7) had made me a birthday card. "This is really nice" I thought as I looked at the front adorned with a cake and 22 candles. (Close, just short by 10 years). As I opened it I was shocked. Inside was a ten dollar bill. I turned to Hunter to see the biggest grin I could imagine on his face. "It's for you and Lily", he said, "I saved it from my birthday." Like I said I see God through my kids, they truly are a blessing. I think a better question is "How can we NOT afford to have more?".
Still agree. Praise the Lord. May we rely on Him, no matter what is in our bank account.
Priorities with money have shifted. Extras are just that. God is our provider!
Q.) Why Africa?
A.) Ask God! That is the desire He set in our hearts!
(Justin) Because God is an amazing God who likes to keep us on our toes. I know that God not only has plans for those kid(s) we adopt, but for us as well. I believe God likes to get us out of our comfort zones in order for us to totally rely on him. I've never been there, but I'm pretty sure Africa is a ways outside my comfort zone.
Still agree and glad we obeyed.
Why the US [this time]? Because our hearts were drawn by the Holy Spirit.
Q.) Shouldn't they stay in their own culture?
A.) I am not sure if people who say that heard the part about the child being unwanted where he/she was at. Orphanages could NEVER replace the warmth and love of a family unit. Common sense screams on this one!
(Justin) The best definition of "culture" that I found was "the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular ethnic, social or age group". The best definition I've found for "family" is "a group of close nit people who share common values, ideas, thoughts, feelings, heartaches, fears, hopes, joys, laughter, tears, love, and who are committed to be there for each other no matter what". OK, I made that second definition up, but you get the point. I know if I could only have one or the other, I'd choose the latter.
I kind of want to stay away from this question because I can slip into a major attitude now that I have seen (and I know that that is not how God wants me).
These precious children need families and to be raised in a Christ-honoring homes.
Adopting domestically this time, this question does not apply but families are best no matter what or where.
Q.) Wont this harm your birth children?
A.) Will there be significant hurdles to navigate - YES - do I find it a process that will build in them compassion, tolerance and love for the unloved. YES! Will they experience racism - YES - Ashton already has - a boy in her class said horrid things about "black people" and WOW what a platform it gave me to teach Ashton about how people do not always believe the way we do - we do not believe the color of our skin makes us above others, we do not believe your financial status make you a better person or not - we believe it is what is in your heart! I can not say it enough - it is what is in the heart that matters! It was an amazing moment of teaching, then we sat down and prayed for that little boy. Thank you Jesus!
(Justin) Which part? The part about reaching out to someone who is less fortunate than us? The part about helping widows and orphans? Or giving to those in need, giving from what God has given us, bearing each others burdens, seeing that the color of someones skin makes them no different? Perhaps the part about simply being obedient to the call of God on our life, or stepping out in faith, or relying on Him to bring you through each seemingly impossible hurdle? Perhaps the only harm that will be done is if we choose not to obey The Master's call -no matter how challenging it may seem.
Oh I can answer this one at length now. :) Let's start with #4 with #5. She thinks we adopted him for her. She loves him like I have never seen another sibling love another, ever. They play together every.day. When they are apart they miss eachother. #4 was very instrumental in teaching #5 how to be in a family. I can not explain in words how much this has effect them both (having a twin now). I think I have a few videos, maybe I will upload!
#5 and #3 and #2 are tight brothers. They do all things "boy" together. #3 and #2 fight a lot less (not that they really fought all that much) because #5 breaks up the "norm." If anything, they fight over him. :)
#5 and #1 - She begs every day for another adopted sibling - not lying. Every.day!
That about sums up how adoption has effected my birth children.
[oh and 2 nights ago all 5 were ganging up on us to adopt again. They each prayed a VERY manipulative prayer at bed time!lol]
How has adoption changed my bio kids? It has brought scripture to life. The conversations stemmed from the adoptions have changed them to their very core. I believe they have a much richer view of worth and selflessness. I see compassion and understand coming out, where there may not have been before. I see depth.
Not to say it has been perfect. They have seen Justin and I struggle and fall more times then I would like to admit but in that, there is growth in them too.
Q.) What if the child rebels?
A.) What if my birth children rebel? I will be on my knees for the adopted child just as I would the birth child.
God, God, God.... God is, was and daily is the answer on this. Yup, adopted children can come with deep pain and issues that are beyond our knowledge of how to deal. This is true, true, true. But God is faithful in this too! He has shown Himself mighty to be faithful to walk us through it all! Praise God and I urge others to not think of the challenge as something "they" can handle but what God can handle.... which is everything!
Adopted or birth we will try and point them to The Cross where redemption is found.
Q.) How many children do you want?
A.) I thought we were done at four. God's plans for my life are SO MUCH BETTER (and more exciting)!
(Justin) Good question, I'm not sure I even know that yet. Fortunately God does "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, " plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Jer. 29:11
Well… we are at 6 and I have given up trying to tell God what number looks comfortable. Miss the blessing in obedience? NO WAY - when He calls us to another - Praise His Name! Children are a blessing - NOT a burden.
Q.) What can we, as your friends and family, do?
A.) Now I like that question, I have only had it asked twice vs. the others. Pray, Pray, Pray for us! And when you think all is well then pray some more. Stand up for the widowed and orphaned - any widow or orphan. Defend the weak, feed the hungry, do your part! Ask God to reveal His plan for you. There is no time to sit around and stew about what we are doing. The harvest is plenty but the workers are few.
(Justin) I couldn't have said it any better. Prayer truly is the most powerful tool we have.
Keep praying! That has not changed! :)
I would love to share our process if anyone wants to know. There are so many children waiting today. Do not let the "what ifs" get you. You are not promised tomorrow.
Pray. Love us. Don't judge us if you see something with an adopted child (or bio) that may not work for you. Please know that we are seeking godly counsel on a regular basis. We desire to parent all our kids with intentionality.
Anyone interested in USA adoption, I would love to share.