Friday, November 25, 2011

Is Adoption God's "Plan B?"

I love to read pretty much anything.  I like to read books, articles, online journals, the news and blogs.  I especially like to read adoption blogs.  I find it very encouraging to read about other experiences of those who are basically in the same boat as we are.  I recently stumbled across a specific blog that I’ve posted below. I usually agree with what this author says and usually laugh hysterically while I read as well.  The author is a very descriptive and gifted writer.  In one particular post the author was giving “do’s and don’ts” for those who interact with those who have just adopted.  The author was very candid about what bothers us who have adopted that people say or do to us or our children and also gave tips about what we do need after we’ve recently adopted.  This last post I read recently, though, caught my attention and I thought I’d post a bit of what was said.  I’d love to know what you guys think about this and if you agree or disagree with what was said.  Anyway, here’s part of what was written:

***If we’ve adopted older kids, please do not ask them if they “love America so much” or are “so happy to live in Texas.” It’s this simple: adoption is born from horrible loss. In an ideal world, there would be no adoption, because our children would be with their birth families, the way God intended. I’ll not win any points here, but I bristle when people say, “Our adopted child was chosen for us by God before the beginning of time.” No he wasn’t. He was destined for his birth family. God did not create these kids to belong to us. He didn’t decide that they should be born into poverty or disease or abandonment or abuse and despair all so they could finally make it into our homes, where God intended them to be. No. We are a very distant Plan B. Children are meant for their birth families, same as my biological kids were meant for mine. Adoption is one possible answer to a very real tragedy… after it has already happened, not before as the impetus for abandonment. There is genuine grief and sorrow when your biological family is disrupted by death and poverty, and our kids have endured all this and more. So when you ask my 8-year-old if he is thrilled to be in Texas, please understand that he is not. He misses his country, his language, his food, his family. Our kids came to us in the throes of grief, as well they should. Please don’t make them smile and lie to you about how happy they are to be here.*** (

In response to this post my initial thoughts were that Tim and I are NOT a “very distant Plan B” for Brandon’s life.  I believe God is Sovereign.  Brandon was created by God and for God.  God was not surprised at all that Brandon was born into poverty, disease or abandonment.  He was born in those conditions because his parents (and the family lineage) were sinners, like all of humankind is. 

Unfortunately the reality is we do live in a fallen world, and I believe the Bible teaches that God's eye is on every circumstance, even the unpleasant or tragic ones. Does the author of this blog truly believe that God’s purpose is to constantly struggle to come up with Plan B’s to humanity’s “mess ups?”  That sounds like a very weak god to me.  I want no part in a god that is caught off guard or a god who simply lives to meet the needs of humankind.  That is quite backwards.  We were created to serve Him.  His name should be glorified by our lives. 

This may be shocking to some readers, but consider that it was God’s perfect will—Dare I say, consider it was God’s Plan A for us to adopt Brandon so that God’s name might be glorified through an unfortunate circumstance? I think of the strength and character that Brandon  has as a result of his past.  I think of the compassion he has for others as a result of his past.  I think of the wisdom beyond his 11 years of age as a result of his past.  Most importantly, I’m praying it was God’s means to bring Brandon to America so that he might hear the Gospel, one day repent of his sins and serve the One, True God all the rest of his life.   

Who are we to say that God’s Plan A should have been this or that?  I could argue that it was God’s Plan A for my first born child (who is Katie) to have been a boy.  God messed up and gave me Plan B, a girl.  Or God’s Plan A should have been that Brandon’s parents in Ukraine would have had a lot of money and could have cared for him.  But I guess God was not powerful enough to ensure adequate finances for his parents in Ukraine, so Plan B was that we swept in from America and rescued the poor, orphan boy.   

The Bible states that His ways are way higher than our ways, that no human can know the mind of God perfectly, that what man sees as evil, God intends to work that of good.....So while I can't even adequately begin to explain why God would use terrible circumstances to accomplish His purposes, He does and he will accomplish His purpose in our son's life!  

The Bible has examples of this all through the Old Testament.  Look at Job, Joseph, Moses, Abraham, David and many other examples.  In the New Testament there are the lepers, the blind, the deaf, the dumb that Jesus Christ healed. Paul alone is a great example of God using circumstances to accomplish His purpose. God’s power, grace and love are proven in each of these examples. If we truly know God’s word, it will begin to affect our worldview and it should help us to see God's sovereignty and power more completely.

In short, I believe God absolutely chose Brandon to be part of our family before the foundation of the world.  Brandon was fearfully and wonderfully made.  Nothing about his existence or his past circumstances caught God off guard or caused Him to need to come up with a "backup plan." I can’t wait to see how God is going to work out His perfect “Plan A” in Brandon’s life or in our lives because of Brandon.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Baby's First Christmas

(Sniffling).  Oh, how I wish I could have held this sweet, baby boy on his first Christmas.  Oh, how I wish I could have held him AT ALL as a baby!  I wish I could have rocked him and kissed him and fed him his bottle.  I wish I could have cared from him since birth. (sigh). However, I am SO thankful that his grandmother blessed me with this picture of him as a baby.  I'm not sure how old he is in this photo, but it's safe to say he is less than a year. I recognize that it's so rare for families who adopt older children to be able to have any photos of their child before the day they met them.  So you can imagine how precious this is to me.

Yesterday I was looking all over the mall and at Hallmark for a baby boy's first Christmas ornament for his little box of ornaments I'm working on, but all of them said "Baby's 1st Christmas 2011."  Well, his first Christmas wasn't in 2011.  It was in 2000.  So, thankfully I found a vendor in a booth in the middle of the mall that had this adorable, baby boy ornament and I could put anything I wanted on it.  It's now one of my favorite treasures!

Oh, and I'm thankful to have my boy NOW.  I love him so dearly! And forever he'll always be my sweet, baby boy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

6 Months Home

It’s hard to believe how quickly the last 6 months that Brandon has been home have flown by.  We are all doing really well.  It is amazing to me how a year ago we had no idea what God was going to do in our lives and Brandon had no idea either.  A year ago, every day I looked at the empty seat at our table, and the empty bedroom upstairs and continuously prayed about our adoption from Ukraine.  Little did we know during that time God was already preparing our hearts and Brandon’s heart to merge together as one family.  Honestly, I believe only God could merge us so beautifully and it is evidence of answered prayer.

We have really seen Brandon’s dramatic personality come out over the last month.  I have read and heard that Russians and Ukrainians are very passionate people and are very expressive with their language and waving their arms to get their point across. Brandon definitely meets this stereotype.  We call Brandon our little drama queen.  Here are a few examples of conversations so you can see what I mean.

While at Olive Garden he popped a jalapeƱo pepper in his mouth.  His face turned red.  He started sweating as he drank several cups of ice tea.  He said, “Oh my goodness. I am on fire. Ouch. This is hurting me.” Huffing and puffing and red faced and hand gestures and pacing right in the middle of the restaurant. We were all, of course, laughing because we warned him the pepper was hot and he said puffing his manly chest out, “This is not hot.  I eat this in Ukraine all of the time.”  Apparently he did not remember how hot they were or they are not as hot in Ukraine. He still talks about how he was on fire.

A few weeks ago, when I was driving the kids to AWANA.  Our girls brought 2 girlfriends with them that night.  Of course the 5 girls did what girls do best—sang, giggled, squealed and talked.  Finally, Brandon says, "Oh my goodness…All this womens. They so loud. This womens so annoying. I need my Papa." He was rocking front to back and covering his ears and sighing and moaning and groaning pretty much the whole car ride about “all the womens.”  Poor boy was feeling out numbered.

The other day 3 of the 4 kids had this conversation/argument over the number of French Bread Sticks they were eating:

Brandon to Katie: Why you eat so many of these?

Katie: I only had 7.

Brandon: 1 plus 7 equals 8, not 7. You are not smart.

Haley: Yes, Katie is smarter than you are. I think. Wait. I did not mean that in a mean way.

Brandon to Haley, talking passionately with both of his hands in her face: Why are you even talking? You make my head hurt and you cannot read.

Haley: (Gasping in shock). That was mean for sure.

Katie (refusing to show emotion): I had 1, then 6 so it is 7.

Brandon (frustrated by his inability to stand up alone against the “womens”): You womens are crazy. You give me a headache.

Another thing that is hilarious is he has a major disdain for hair. If the girls sit too close and their hair touches him, he freaks out and gets grossed out and is like “Agh, oh watch-a de hair!! Get this hair off of me!!”  If (heaven forbid) he finds a hair at the dinner table or anywhere else he has to close his eyes while he removes the hair from a distance, never touching his skin.  He cannot stand to see hair on his shirt or clothes or on a pillow or in a hair brush.  He will not let me comb or cut his hair if I have just done Tim’s and there is hair left behind.  I have to wash it off and let him inspect it before it can touch his hair.

Another quirk he has is with people talking with their mouth full.  He is legitimately grossed out by people talking with their mouth full. He stops eating and looks like he might vomit.  We laugh at him (of course with our mouths wide open and full of food) and he still opens his eyes to see if our mouth is opened or closed and then gets grossed out all over again.

If Tim and he are wrestling or fooling around he always is like, “Ow, my eyeball.  You break it.  My arm.  You break it.  Ouch. Arrrrrrrrr!!!!  My feets.  You are killing me.  I don’t like this hurt.  It is so boring.” Of course, if Tim stops, Brandon comes back for more.  

Often Tim will flex his bicep and point at it.  When he does, Brandon looks at him and mocks, “This is no muscle.  This is a tomato.”  So last week they were playing and Brandon punched Tim’s shoulder and “broke his hand” and Tim’s like, “Do you still think this is a tomato? Huh? Huh?”  (Brandon’s rolling on the floor in fetal position holding his "broken" hand.)

One last story.  Today we went out to eat and he had his favorite food: shrimp, a salad, garlic/butter pasta, bread and 6 cups of iced tea.  We got in the car and he says, “Oh my goodness. I am so full.  I am going to die.  My head and my stomach hurt and I eat too much shrimps.  Maybe, yes, I will throw up or maybe, no, I will tootie (the word his uses for passing gas).”  (I start laughing).  “Mama??  Why you laughing at me?  I really will die.  I am so full and all of this food is making me hurt bad.  I really need a bathroom.  Ohhh, this food is going to kill me. I eat too much.  You laugh, but I am die. You see?  I am die.”  

Anyway, as you can see, Brandon is so much fun.  He causes me to laugh constantly.  It is a lot of fun to watch Tim and Brandon constantly picking at each other until the point where they are eventually rolling around on the floor together.  Our girls never (used to) behave this way.  It is so new to me, but I enjoy it so much.  I am so thankful for the last 6 months and the calling in our lives to raise Brandon!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Operation Christmas Child

Our church has contributed to Operation Christmas Child the last few years.  For those of you who are not familiar with Operation Christmas Child, it is where you fill a shoe box with toys, candy and other treats.  This organization mails the boxes to orphans all over the world.  They enclose a Gospel message in their language.  Sometimes you can even hear back from the child that you mailed the box to.  You can google Operation Christmas Child if you are interested in donating or even finding out more about it for your own church. 

What is neat about Operation Christmas Child is last year Brandon received a box.  All 150 children in his orphanage received one in fact.  He had the disappointment of receiving a mislabeled box that was actually for a girl, but still he enjoyed the candy and pencils anyway.  He received a Barbie doll and some other things as well.  I'm thankful to whoever sent a box to my little boy!

It was a little surreal shopping with my son for these items this year.  His expression was unique.  It was as if it is still all too familiar to him since he was on the receiving end of a little box just months ago.  He seemed awkward as he was packing a box to give to another little child “without a Mama and Papa” as he says.  He still has that “awe” factor, like this is all too good to be true.

Anyway, if you’ve never packed a box before, I’d encourage you to check it out.  You have no idea how much a simple, little box can impact a child’s life.  If for nothing else, it lets a little child know that someone out there cares enough to send them something.  This may be the tool that points them to Jesus.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Orphan Sunday

I won’t lie.  I was a little disappointed that not many churches did anything for National Orphan Sunday this year. Looking around in our own town and on Sermon Audio there is hardly anything.  In my mind I know that churches' schedules are hectic this time of year and it seems there is a lot being thrown at the congregation financially speaking as well with Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner.   I would still love to see more church families really gain a passion for orphans and impact the lives of many orphans around the world. I’m not really gifted with inspiring people to get behind a cause, but if ever there was a cause to rally around, I would think orphans would be at the top of the list over any building project or anything else on which anyone can spend money.  It is so hard to plead or convince anyone to see things this way and I'm slowly burning out from trying. 

Many of you know I am a Personal Finance professor at a University and I also help manage the finances at our church and academy as well.  Because both of my “careers” deal with finances and money, I often think of the passages in the Bible like Luke 12 where it says to sell your possessions and give to charity.  It says to store up treasures in heaven where moths and rust cannot corrupt.  In verse 34 it says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I would argue, where your heart is, that is where the majority of your money and time is spent.  It all boils down to priorities. 

Are orphans a priority or are they not?  If Christians and Bible believing churches are not consciously making an effort to care for orphans, who is going to do it?  One way to care for orphans is financially.  Support families who are adopting.  Why are there not more families coming forward to adopt?  I will answer that question based upon my experience on the subject.  Most people do not have the means to pay for an adoption.  Why do more families not have means to pay for adoptions?  The hearts of Christians are not being moved to compassion the way they should be toward adoption.  Those who do not feel called to adopt are not giving sacrificially to those who are called to adopt.   

Randy Alcorn recently gave this challenge on his Facebook page: Many who say, “I have nothing to give,” spend large amounts of discretionary income on cars, clothes, coffee, entertainment, phones, computers, and so on.  They have nothing to give when they’re done spending, precisely because they’re never done spending. 

God commanded over and over in Scripture for Christians to care for the orphans.  Sadly, most Christians ignore this commandment.  No one acknowledges that it is not God’s plan for orphans to waste away their lives in orphanages.  I also do not believe it is God’s plan for Christians to get deep in debt for adoption while other Christians spend their money on luxuries such as thousand dollar purses and designer clothing.  That purse and those designer clothes are going to get old, dirty and wear out.  Someone may even steal your purse from you while you shop at the mall for your designer clothes.  We don't get to take our possessions with us when we die! So is it really wise stewardship of God’s money to spend money like that? We all have this sense of entitlement.  “I deserve this.  I earned it.”  This is because of our sinful, superficial, selfish flesh.  If I am even tempted to waste large amounts of money, I remind myself of Christ’s example.  The Son of Man often slept on a rock in the wilderness and often went without even basic necessities such as food and water.  He busied Himself and spent any earthly resources He had on eternal things.  He knew life on earth was a vapor and there was an urgency to accomplish God’s perfect plan with His life.  We have all got to stop wasting our earthly resources and start directing those resources to the things of God—eternal things.   The needs of orphans are great around the world.   We are just caught up in living our entitled American dreams that we can't see the needs. 

(I just want to add that there some in our church that have a burden as well and are working hard on behalf of the orphans.  They probably feel weary as well about the lack of passion for adoption.  I don't know what the answer is.  We can't slap passive, superficial people across the face and say "Hey, wake up!!!!!"....Can we? Just kidding.  In all seriousness, we can only continue to pray hearts are moved.  Christians have got to respond to the Holy Spirit eventually.)