Real estate is always considered an asset, even when you owe money on a loan for it.  The average home in our adjacent metropolitan area sells for $250,000.  I recently read an article that it costs about $250,000 to raise the average American kid these days.  If our kids cost us as much as our real estate, then we should treat them as assets, not  liabilities.

If you own your home, you treat it, and the contents, with respect.  When you purchase something new, you take care of it.  When things break, you fix them.  The average homeowner probably spends at least an hour a day, and one day out of the week, performing maintenance such as lawn mowing, house cleaning, minor repairs, all to keep the real estate in good condition.  Several times a year, major tasks need to be performed, or at least hired out – roof repair after storms, electrical problems, plumbing issues, deep cleaning, and tree trimming or other seasonal yard work.  If we spend the time it takes when the need arises, our asset not only stays in good shape, it increases in value.  Also, performing the work ourselves can be satisfying, and we can see the fruit of our labor over time.

The best investment in real estate is often a fixer-upper.  The adage of location, location, location is crucial when buying a dilapidated property.  If you can find just the right one, that matches your pre-set criteria, you can purchase it, invest your time and money, make necessary improvements, add your personal touches to make it special, and have a great property in the long run.  Many real estate investors flip properties – fix them quick, and sell them fast.  My husband and I have always lived for a long time in our properties, enjoying them all along the way, and relishing the results of our hard work for many years before we move on.

Kids are similar to real estate, except they are priceless and irreplaceable!   They are more than worth our daily investment of time and resources.  Our assets, our kids, will grow beyond measure if we take the time each day to:

  • engage a child individually in conversation, listening to their concerns and dreams
  • appropriately train our child, including guidance and discipline
  • give them positive eye and verbal contact
  • help them with school work and other personal obligations
  • provide for their needs – emotional, physical, and spiritual
  • make meal time and family time something to look forward to, especially at the beginning and end of each day

Seasonally, we need to invest more resources into our asset by planning:

  • Family vacations or special events where the whole family joins together, such as our week-long county fair
  • a special day, weekend, or event with one particular child, and one or both parents
  • birthday celebrations for each child when everything on that day is focused on him/her
  • Holiday traditions during Thanksgiving and Christmas which build strong bonds and memories

Our daily and seasonal efforts will surely increase the worth of our assets.  They invariably will take much of our precious time and resources.  We parents would probably rather devote our efforts to other things such as our personal pursuits or hobbies.  However, the sacrifices we make for our assets will be noticeable over time as our investment grows, and we see a return on our capital expenditure. 

Children are a blessing, and a heritage from the Lord.  Like the other talents He bestows upon us, we need to handle them wisely so the talent grows.  We need to be good stewards of our assets, for the glory of God.  Our children, especially our adopted children with their often overwhelming ‘issues’, once grown, will either be a liability to society, or an asset.  We need to do what it takes now, to ensure they are an asset, and a blessing, as they enter adulthood and start their own families.  The heritage we pass on to them of the importance of individual worth, and family as a support system, will bless many generations to come, thereby increasing our extended family’s overall assets immeasurably.

“Grief is a multi-faceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something to which a bond was formed. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, it also has physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, and philosophical dimensions. While the terms are often used interchangeably, bereavement refers to the state of loss, and grief is the reaction to loss.”                                 (According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Three of my adopted kids have major loss issues related to their relationship with their birth parents.  They have worked their way through most of the stages of grief:  numbness, pain, bargaining, rage, depression, anxiety, acceptance. We have actively helped them work through these stages, as much as they are able as they pass through different developmental phases.  Sometimes they revisit a stage when they have gained a new coping skill. 

I can relate to their grief and want to help them through it.  Our youngest biological child, Abby Joanne, died 16 years ago on Christmas Day from a sudden illness.  Though I, too, have worked through my grief, it overshadows much of the happy celebrations of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I wonder if a parent’s grief over the loss of their child is greater, less than, or equal to that of a child losing their parent?  Well, we’ll never know.  A more answerable question is:  How do we deal with all of this grief that tends to surface during the great celebration times of Thanksgiving and Christmas? 

I don’t have all the answers, but here are some things we have learned to do over the years that help make the holidays special and celebratory, even amidst our grief:

  1. Give thanks to our good and gracious Lord each and every day.
  2. Remember that Christ is the Reason for the Season of Christmas, and the Christ worshipping Pilgrims were the reason for Thanksgiving.
  3. Listen to Christmas or worship music all day long, especially in the afternoon as you tire and tend to be melancholy.
  4. Plan time each day to be alone, by yourself, to just breathe and be.
  5. Try to laugh in the face of adversity.  On a really bad day, put on the old black and white Little Rascals or Ma and Pa Kettle dvd and get a good laugh with your kids.
  6. Think of others who are suffering more than you with charitable giving, inviting them over, or sending personal cards.
  7. As a family, choose and work together on a project for a benevolence ministry;  we make and deliver Christmas shoebox gifts for foster kids.
  8. Select a charity to assist; use the money you would have spent on a gift for your lost loved one; we donate to an orphanage in my daughter’s name.
  9. Slow down your regular schedule to accommodate a few choice activities like caroling, special programs, and meal celebrations with comfort food favorites to create life-long, positive memories.
  10. Start or increase the frequency of regular family devotions, studying God’s Holy word, and sing praises to Him.
  11. Shop for, wrap, and give modest but thoughtful gifts that make the members of your family feel special and loved; a hand-made ornament with the year date grows special over time.
  12. Get more sleep by going to bed earlier, or sleeping-in as many days in the week as possible.
  13. Eat nutritious food  in moderation at regular meals, so you won’t suffer greatly if you overindulge at special meals.
  14. Give lots of hugs and compliments to your family members, and gently remind them you need some, too.
  15. Do the extra work together as a family (cooking, cleaning, decorating) so as not to overburden yourself.
  16. Focus on family time and couple time, limiting social and church obligations.
  17. Take time to talk individually with each of your kids every day, letting them lead the conversation after you get it started
  18. When time permits, gently ask your adopted child to share their thoughts about the holidays they remember with their birth parents; just listen and affirm their feelings without putting your ‘spin’ on it.
  19. Learn that is okay to say ‘no’ to extended family gatherings that involve revisiting your pain, or being with relatives who just don’t ‘get it’ about your adopted kids.

Our kids need us to be mothers and fathers who are ‘there’ for them every day, through good times and bad.  Thankfully, our Heavenly Father is ‘there’ for us every day, especially in good times and bad.  God knows our loss and grieves with us.  His one and only Son died so we could have life.  He wants us to celebrate that life despite our grief. 

Well, the stress of the holidays hit our house full force this morning!  Everyone was cranky, uncooperative, and the worst offender was ME!

Okay, breathe deeply….  The holiday season of Thanksgiving week to New Year’s Day can be overwhelming for even the most well-adjusted adult.  For those of us already stretched to the breaking point, and our kiddos who subconsciously still retain  bad memories from their earliest years, well, we might as well fast forward to Valentine’s Day if we want love to reign.  Seriously, our culture heaps on so many expectations – gifts, parties, relatives we don’t even like, extra food preparation, fancy clothes – the list is endless.  This afternoon while half of my family is gone to town, and the other half is outside playing (thank the Lord for good weather!) I must readjust my attitude, or crimes will put several of us in jail before the turkey is served!

My plan of action from here on out is:

  1. Breathe, to calm myself
  2. Pray, to repent and seek forgiveness
  3. Be thankful, gratitude always improves my attitude
  4. Write, to process it all
  5. Perform simple chores, to vent my frustration
  6. Start baking, to make forward progress
  7. Take time for kid time, to gain perspective
  8. Plan couple time, to heal the wounds inflicted this morning
  9. Lower my expectations, to relieve some of the stress
  10. Get a good night’s sleep, to stay healthy and strong
  11. Wake up tomorrow, as a new day always means a fresh start.

I hate the fact that I am the emotional glue in my family!  But, I need to accept it and seek the Lord for strength during the next 6 weeks.  And, remember, I’ll be on the beach in 3.2 weeks if I don’t go to jail for out-of-control behavior! 

Okay, enough computer time, gotta go do some real work on that ‘simple chore’ list to be ready for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving overload!

One of our family’s favorite classic movies is the musical production of Oliver!  The scene and accompanying song wherein the street orphans are singing about the wonderful kinds of food they dream about, but can never have, is near and dear to us.

We are foodies in our family.  We love to grow it, harvest it, prepare it, eat it, and talk about it at the table after we have stuffed ourselves.  No one enjoys it more than our two older adopted kids.  My very tall 13 y.o. daughter, who seems to have the most incredible metabolism ever and so is always in perfect shape – never the slightest bit overweight – will eat 3 and 4 helpings of everything, matching the appetite of my 200 pound, 21 y.o. son who physically labors all day.  Perhaps only once did I lovingly suggest to her that she needed to let others have second helpings before she dished up her third! 

I love it that our farm produces such healthy food, and we can prepare it in such a delicious and nutritious way that my adopted kids can relax at the meal table, eating to their hearts’ content.  We seem to be passed most of their food issues.  Orphans who have been severely neglected, often have the greatest struggles with appropriate food consumption when placed in adoptive homes.  Our two older adopted kids struggled with:

  • gorging themselves with food so quickly they choked
  • ate so fast they didn’t chew enough to savor the taste, or make food digestible before they swallowed
  • ate only carbs, neglecting fruit and vegetables until the end when there was no more room in their bellies to consume greens
  • overate sweets, sometimes going for 6 servings minimum at buffet lines or potlucks
  • stole food from the pantry and fridge, hoarding it in their room or other secret stash places on our farm
  • lied about the food stealing even though we told them they could eat anything, anytime
  • ate with both hands simultaneously and talked with food in their mouths 
  • snacked so much between meals they couldn’t eat the nutritious food on the table
  • literally experiencd brain-freeze because there was too much to choose from at restaurants; it overwhelmed them and they couldn’t order for themselves
  • obsessed about food constantly, and asked over and over again daily when the next meal would be served
  • worried and focused way too much on whether they were too skinny or fat, when neither had any issues in reality

With extreme patience, creative problem solving, consistent schedules, and table training we have helped our adopted kids realize that:

  1. they will never go without a meal in our home
  2. meals will be served 3 times a day on schedule, or we’ll let everyone know ahead of time if different
  3. dishes are carefully planned for nutritional value and complimentary flavors, and should be eaten in rotation
  4. desserts are a wonderful treat to be enjoyed after the nutritious meal, but not at every meal
  5. snacks are for getting through to the next meal, not in place of it
  6. they can appropriately ask permission to have a snack between meals, and eat it at the kitchen table
  7. table manners are important for individual dignity, as well as the comfort of other folks around the table or adjoining restaurant areas
  8. they can select appropriate restaurant menu items and confidently order for themselves
  9. food is a gift from the Lord that is meant to give us health, energy, satisfaction, and fellowship
  10. stealing is never appropriate, nor necessary, as what we have is for all to share
  11. it is okay and right to discuss problems and issues surrounding food to achieve the right frame of mind regarding same
  12. have a good self-image about their bodily confirmation, and are not overly concerned about their physical appearance as teens
  13. meal time is fellowship time; enjoying conversation at each meal, with a family bible study at least one meal a day, promotes lifelong relationships and sets a firm spiritual foundation

Adopted kids, especially those that come to their forever family as toddlers or older, have survival instincts when it comes to many things, especially concerning food.  Time and attention will diminish these sub-concious natural tendencies with careful actions by concerned parents.

Yesterday my husband and I spent 12 hours delivering our home-grown, processed frozen turkeys to customers in the metro area 85 miles from our farm.  It was a fun day away from our kids, giving us lots of uninterrupted ‘couple time’ as we navigated the traffic to our drop-off locations.  We had a treat at the end of the day, meeting another couple who are our very dear friends, for dinner out.

During that double-date, we couples caught up with each other’s busy lives, reminisced about our early years, and laughed uproariously at the goings on in our families.  My hubby and I excitedly told our friends about our upcoming anniversary trip.  We are headed to a beachfront hotel on the Gulf of Mexico the week before Christmas – for the whole week, just the two of us!  It will be our first real vacation in more than 15 years!

Our friends, whose children are mostly grown, try to vacation annually.  “Why have you waited so long for a trip?”, they asked.  Well, for a number of reasons, primarily two.  First, until now the behaviors of 3 of our adopted children would not have allowed us to be gone from them for more than 24 hours as they require constant supervision.  Second, we didn’t have a babysitting situation for that very reason!

The neediest adoptive kids, who seem to need a forever family more than anyone, are often the ones with the most out-of-control behaviors.  Though parents badly need a break from challenging adopted kids, they can’t really take a break because no one is capable, or willing, to parent these kids in their absence.  Parents worry that when they are gone and others are in-charge, especially for an extended period of time, chaos can break out.  If the cops should need to be called while they are away vacationing…!

Further, what sane adults want to deal with:

  1.  multiple wet beds night after night
  2. constant supervision of children with a tendency toward sexualized behavior
  3. restrictions and rules for kids with food addictions who hide snacks which attract vermin in every corner of the house
  4. guidance and discipline for theft of money and other important items
  5. soliciting respect for authority from incorrigible teens
  6. solving sibling disputes regarding stealing, lying, and complete, unadulterated manipulation 
  7. rebellion that includes borderline crimnal activity and running away?

No sane person I know!  Only parents of the little offenders, who are forced by law to do so!

Well, finally, after 9 long years of unconditional love teamed with very consistent and extremely strict parenting, our adopted kids have become everyday, normal, good kidsThank you Jesus!  They: 

  • are fairly trustworthy
  • generally considerate of others
  • obey house rules with few infractions
  • help maintain their personal property, our home, and farm with few reminders
  • do their school work diligently
  • treat others with respect and love
  • respect their bodies and possessions, as well as those of the other family members. 

Wow!  We not only need a vacation, perhaps we might even deserve one!

Not that we could possibly trust anyone outside our family to care for 5 kids aged 7 to 15 years old for a week, and run a farm!  My one grown daughter will be home for college so she can team with my high school senior daughter to cook 3 square meals a day, keep up with laundry, home school younger siblings, and maintain reasonable order in my absence.  My one grown son who lives and works on our farm, can manage the livestock, fix broken vehicles as well as most mechanical devices, solve unexpected problems, and Heaven help him, resolve any disasters that may occur in my husband’s absence.  The good Lord will hopefully protect our children, livestock, and property from storms and associated problems, as He surely knows we need a break!

So, we are off in a few weeks for the ultimate ‘couple time’.  It may be the only chance we ever get, so we’re praying for good weather and uneventful travel.  The added bonus is that when we told all the kids of our trip, they were actually excited for us, and felt confident all would go well in our absence.  Apparently, the unending, often daunting work of raising such a brood has all been worth it, as our kids seem to understand that happily married parents, who enjoy each other’s company and a break from their kids now and then, are the best parents! 

We hope to relax, have fun, stay out late, sleep in, go deep sea fishing, just ‘be’ on the beach, read by the pool, and remember why we got married in the first place!  Personally I’ll look forwad to eating when and what I want, without having to plan it, shop for it, cook it, serve it, and do the dishes!  We’ll both come back refreshed and ready to parent for another decade or two.  Now, if I can just crash diet enough to fit into that swim suit…

I think one of the most difficult challenges in being a parent in a large family is to decide nearly every minute of the day whether your child (or spouse, or relative) needs to be pointed to the Law first and punished immediately, or shown grace first.  What is the best way to motivate children to change their sinful ways?

As Christians, we are to read, study, know, and embrace both the Old Testament and the New Testament portions of the Bible, God’s holy and unerring word. 

The Old Testament is filled with history (His Story) of the Hebrews, their families, their kinsman, and their surrounding enemies. Each and every time Israel disobeyed the Law, it seemed they fell into a fate worse than death.  We do not want  our children (or ourselves) to fall in to this type of besetting, generational sin.

The New Testament is filled with the Grace of God in the birth and life of His only begotten Son Jesus Christ.  The Hebrews, and the gentiles, still disobeyed God’s law.  However, Christ came to save!  Those who believed in Him were saved by His grace.  His death on the cross at Calvary was the ultimate and final sacrifice to atone for sin.  Resurrected, He lives forever and now we,too, can know Christ as Savior and Lord, and be saved alone by His Grace.

Nothing we can do for ourselves will save us from God’s judgement on our sins when we  disobey God’s law.  Only our belief in Christ as our personal Savior and Lord, wherein He shows us grace, will save us from eternal damnation for our sins.  As soon as we repent, He forgives us! We want to show this type of grace to our children so they see the love of Christ,  are drawn to Him, and ultimately entrust their whole lives to Him.

My first response when one of my children disobeys the ‘house rules’ is to lecture about the Law, then invoke the consequences for such a violation.  Afterall, we need to hold our children accountable to God’s Law, teach them to repent of their sin, turn from it, and not draw others into it, as well.

But, perhaps my initial response should be Grace?  The older I get, when I sin, the more I understand that my heart is more willing to submit to authority when grace is shown to me first, then the law is upheld, and the consequences of my actions follow.

The last time I was stopped by a highway patrolman, he was very nice as he informed me of my speeding violation.  He could have written me a ticket, but instead he showed me grace and gave me a warning.  My heart slowed, my breathing regulated, and I got back on the road with a smile.  Not because I fooled him, but because he showed me grace.  I have been consistently compliant with the speed limit and rules of the road ever since.

Isn’t the purpose of correction and discipline to keep our kids obedient to God so they have a better life, living in His blessing?  Why do we have to respond in anger, reciting the Law and its’ consequences, first?  My husband over the years has softened his heart in dealing with our children.  I see amazing results!  They respond to him out of love, not fear.  Sometimes, he actually has to correct his ‘practically perfect in every way’ wife, me!  He does it is from his loving heart with a compassionate voice.  How tenderly I melt into his leadership and quickly attempt to change my heart attitude and actions!

Adopted children have known a lot of fear in their life before coming into our lives.  Fear is the opposite of love.  To cast out their fears, love is the antidote.  Grace is the ultimate expression of love.  Anger stops love.  How much more will our children willingly respond to our correction if we do it in love, not in anger?

Next time one of my kids breaks the house rules, I’m going to show grace by first just being together with that child, breathing and talking.  Once I have his/her attentive heart, I can reiterate the house rules, and then we can discuss what will help him/her turn from the sinful behavior.  Afterall, shouldn’t we treat our kids with the same love, respect, and grace we like to be shown?

God created Adam out of the dust, then took a rib and created Eve.  In time the two became one, procreating the human race by God’s almighty miracle.   Humans may have different skin colors, physical confirmation, facial profiles, and hair types, but all are a part of one race, the human race.   “…red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight…” the children’s hymn reminds us.  All members of the human race are precious to the Lord who created us all, each for a special purpose.

As with chickens, there is always a pecking order when 2 or more humans are together.  It is our sinful nature.  We naturally want to be at the top, which means others have to be beneath us.   Whether within the small confine of home, or larger world community, the barnyard pecking order morphs into the sinful suppression of other humans, and thus racial prejudice, and pre-judgement of any kind, exists in a fallen world.

As a youth, I grew up in white Christian family, lived in a mostly white upper middle class neighborhood in a small mid-west city, attended mostly white middle class public schools through college, and so was always in the middle of the pecking order.  The middle is the ideal place in my humble opinion, as you aren’t pecked on so much, and you don’t really have to do any pecking yourself.

As an adult, I moved to a major metropolitan area that was more diverse in culture, ethnic, and racial sub-groups.  I made friends with anyone with whom I had something in common, enjoying a rich circle of friends and work colleagues from all backgrounds in God’s human race.  I bought a house in a diverse urban neighborhood, then gained a husband and 6 biological children.  I remained in the middle of the pecking order.

When we moved to our remote farm, as newcomers to the area we were now at the bottom of the pecking order!  I found that the bottom of the pecking order was not a nice place to be!  No friends, no support system, no caring community.  After years of ‘proving’ ourselves to be hard-working, trustworthy, God-fearing people, who would stay in the area for many years and were therefore worthy of friendship, we finally rose to a higher level of status – back into the middle of the pecking order.

When we adopted children transracially, we went to the bottom of the pecking order once again.  Regardless of what color of humans we encountered, we were ensconced at the bottom.  If it was in a group of whites – including family and church – our non-white kids drove us to the bottom.  If it was in a group of color – including our adopted kids birth family relatives – our whiteness drove us to the bottom.  The fact that we were also a large family, home schoolers, conservative Christians, lower middle class farmers, with adopted children, also kept us at the bottom.  None of these lifestyle choices are what contemporary media culture sets as the standard for life in today’s world. 

When we adopt children, our place in the pecking order of our familial and social circles does change.  We need to accept that as fact, and learn to deal with it.  We need to look to the Lord for guidance and comfort as we deal with this new set of circumstances surrounding our obedience to adopt and care for the Lord’s orphans.

I am comforted by the thought that Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, was at the bottom of the pecking order.  He thrived there!  He came alongside of prostitutes, sinners, thieves, even those who wanted to kill him.  His place in the pecking order didn’t change who He was or what He accomplished. 

Pecking order based on racism, economic status, belief system, or even family size, doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of God’s universe and His plan for the human race.  We may face being at the bottom of the pecking order everyday as adoptive families, but Jesus walks through it with us.  In the end, when we spend eternity in Christ’s kingdom with the little ones we adopted into our family, there will be no pecking order.

If you are considering, or are in the process of adopting through the child welfare system, dealing with Social Services will become a way of life for you.  Like the IRS, we are accountable to these authorities, and just the thought of talking to them can be worrisome, even frightening!

It is important to remember that these folks can be just as suspicious of, and intimidated by, prospective parents.  Let’s reframe the whole process from their standpoint. 

 

  1. They are in the business of caring for and protecting kids who have already been through neglect, abuse, and worse, and want to find an appropriate, safe, forever placement for these kids. 
  2. They deal with a lot of really ‘loser’ people, and like a cop who pulls over a speeder, they never know if the person they encounter will be friend or foe. 
  3. They are overworked, underpaid, jaded by the system, and yet, usually, want to do the right thing. 
  4. They are sinners just like us, and can make mistakes.  They need forgiveness and mercy just like we do.
  5. Social service workers usually have their heart in the right place, but have a duty to the system they work for.

Keeping that in mind, it behooves Christians to reach out to social service workers in love.  What better place than in our own home do we have the opportunity to welcome strangers and show them the love of Christ flowing  deeply, freely, and unconditionally?  Why not look at home visits, and filling out the lengthy accompanying paperwork, as an opportunity to show who we really are:  people who want to change the world one child at a time, and do it simply to honor Christ?

During the adoption process of our five children (two sets of siblings) which spanned a 6 year time period, we had several different caseworkers come to our home for initial, and subsequent placement visits which were once a month for six months at a time, twice.  Here are some things we did to insure successful home visits:

  • remained optimistic and relaxed so our children would sense this and remain the same
  • talked with our kids beforehand about what to expect
  • told our kids to be truthful when they were questioned, whether with us or separately
  • tidied and organized each room of the whole house, and the yard
  • straightened the bookshelves and stocked the pantry
  • put on our best – bathed, fixed hair, trimmed nails, and put on ‘going to town’ clothes
  • set visit times to start at mid-morning so case worker could see kids doing home school work upon arrival
  • baked treats beforehand so the house smelled good when they entered, then served refreshments
  • showed off each room of the house and toured the property
  • took long walks for fresh air and ample discussion time
  • enjoyed one fun activity such as playing baseball or soccer, horseback riding, or playing in the yard on the swing set and trampoline 
  • relaxed in the living room, then moved to the kitchen answering a battery of questions
  • My husband and I also made sure we were very truthful; we were able to share our about our life experiences and background (good and bad), our marriage relationship, our philosophy of parenting including the nuts and bolts of  discipling, disciplining, nurturing, loving, and educating our children at home.

We were caring, friendly, generous, helpful, honest, open, relaxed, and warm.  We were able to express that we weren’t perfect, but we cared and wanted to do the right thing for the orphans of this world.  We also showed a submissive spirit and willingness to be accountable to social services through the process of adoption.  In essence, we were just our humble selves.

Each visit went well, in fact, great!  We enjoyed meeting and getting to know our caseworkers, and they likewise, us.  I remember jokingly telling our first home study case worker that ‘on paper’ we might be her worst nightmare:  ‘conservative Christians, home schoolers,  a bunch of kids already, live in the middle of nowhere, have firearms and know how to use them!’  She laughed, and said thanks for letting her know up-front.  We also had the chance to share with her how much we loved kids, the basics of our daily schedule, our plan to accomplish all that we do, and our desire to adopt kids who were hard to place (siblings, older,  multi-racial, developmental delays).  After interviewing our kids separately, she said her biggest concern was that “adopting kids might ruin the wonderful family we already had”.

Dealing with Social Services can be disconcerting – a Christ-like attitude and thoughtful planning will help insure success.

When we first adopted 9 years ago, I searched for a tract-sized publication that I could give to our inner circle of family and friends that would give them suggestions of how to ‘hug’ our family.  ‘Hug’, you know, wrap their arms around us as we welcomed our adopted kids and helped them become forever in our family.  I never found one.

Recently I discovered that in 2008, Focus on the Family, published a wonderful little booklet entitled Wrapping Around Adopted Families; How to Provide Support to Those Called to Adopt. Through their website on orphancare iCareAboutOrphans.org you can click on a link to order these through Christian Book Distributors (cbd.com) for less than a buck a piece!  I ordered a dozen to pass out to friends in different churches in our community this week, hopefully sparking a fire about orphancare during National Adoption Month.

The booklets are beautifully written with enticing graphic design, but more important, they speak the truth about the difficulties of adoption and suggest ways that churches and loved ones can WRAP (Wrestle in prayer, Respite care, Acts of service, Promises of God) around adoptive families.

Order some today to let your inner circle know how they can help your family, or give these to church pastors, elders, and members to encourage adoption and WRAP in your church community.

Let’s WRAP the world’s 120 million orphans in the love of Christ, forever!  Did you know there are 127,000 legally free children in the US awaiting adoption!  An OVERWHELMING statistic, but surely there are 127,000 Christian families in the US who could each adopt one of these kids!

 

Probably the most difficult challenge for a husband and wife parenting adopted children is finding time alone as a couple.  Whether you have one or a brood, needy kids are draining and exasperating.  At the end of the day all you can think about is getting in bed to sleep.  The idea of meeting the needs of another person is enough to make you run away!

The enemy wants you in a place of complete overwhelming frustration with your spouse.  He wants your marriage to fail.   A happily married Christian couple is just who God wants to parent His orphans.  In such a home, adopted children will not only find their forever family, but they will live every day with the concept of family that God wants them to experience now as a child, and to see what life can be as they become adults and consider marriage to start their own family.

It is imperative that married Christian couples work on their marriage every day, as much or even more so as they work on being parents.  Without a happily married dad and mom, the adopted child will not get what he or she needs most.  Orphans, except in very rare circumstances, were not born into a family with a happily married dad and mom.  Most likely they were not around happily married couples as relatives, neighbors, or teachers.  Where else does a child learn about God’s plan for a covenant, joyfilled marriage than by living with one?

Without an understanding of God’s Biblical plan for marriage, a child cannot begin to understand the concept of Christ and the Church being groom and bride.  Without the understanding of two becoming one, leading and shepherding and training and raising their family for the Lord, a child can not fully grasp what marriage can mean.

With divorce rates in the church higher than in the world, marriage seems to be the number one target of the enemy.  In MHO, it also is the number one foundation block for successfully raising adopted kids in the Christian home.

My husband and I try to:

  • give each other a wide berth, overlooking and quickly forgetting little mistakes and offenses 
  • apologize and forgive each other fully for larger mistakes and offenses
  • continue to work through difficulties in our marriage relationship
  • let time heal wounds that can’t be healed quickly
  • defer to the other and remain in agreement when kids try to divide us or pit us against each other
  • speak respectfully to each other, even if the other doesn’t
  • begin and end our day together, without kids 
  • enjoy a date night alone as a couple once a week, the same day every week, even if we just stay home
  • scrimp and save for a weekend getaway as a couple several times a year, even if at our local motel
  • dream together about what we will do when the kids are grown and gone
  • do chores or hobbies together throughout the week, like cutting firewood in the shop
  • ask each other questions about work, activities, politics, and other non-kid things
  • maintain a fun and frequent romantic relationship with each other

We don’t always get it right, but we try hard.  We are mindful that our family started with just us, and endeavor to enjoy each other more and more as time marches on.  He’s more grey, I’m more plump, but we still find each other attractive and exciting.  We laugh at the ups and downs of life, hanging on tight to each other, putting the Lord first in all things.  As a married couple, I hope we have enough energy and money left to enjoy those post-kid years as much as we think we will!

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