Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child {letter #6}

Dear Foster Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

You drove away the other day, didn’t you?  You packed up your car with a year or two worth of memories of the child you have loved on, held on for one last time, kissed goodbye, and drove away.

You just wanted to turn the car around.  You wanted to grab that little one, and hold on.  You needed to feel that sweet embrace one last time, but you could not.  As the miles began to separate you from the child you have called your own, the tears began to flow.  You held them in.  Brave warrior.  You held them in.

Now as the silence is thickening the air around you, the tears just seem so desperate to escape.  Each tear carries a memory, doesn’t it?  The first time you saw the stranger’s child, that moment when you had a “breakthrough”, the silly laughs in the morning, the transformation you started to see in the birth mother, and the sound of a Judge’s voice determining that the child needed to return to the stranger whose child you have loved – are all just a glimpse of the lifespan of fostering that little soul.

To say it isn’t fair is an understatement, right?  After all, you have been there to pick up the pieces of this broken child.  You have worried night after night wondering if the child could get a few hours of sleep without calling out or having bad dreams. You have mended that little wounded soul when there was a setback, and you are the one who has watered, fed, and enriched this precious child’s roots with love, stability, and maybe just a bit of hope for the future.

Dear Foster Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

You had to drive away, didn’t you?  I cannot imagine.  I don’t want to.  You did all of this while listening to the opinions of others who just don’t get it.  It’s okay to be heartbroken.  It’s okay to be angry.  It really is.

However, dear Foster Momma, those pieces of your soul that you gave away to the child you said goodbye to will carry on.  They will carry on in the prayers you taught him or her to say.  They will carry on in the ability you taught to cope with surroundings, and the roots that you have toiled to establish.  They will live through each success the child has, and in every heart-moment to come.

It will take a while for you to heal.  After all, no one has ever said that foster parenting is easy.  It is so hard.  You have delved right into the despair of generational abuse and neglect, drug abuse, chronic poverty, and misguided souls.

In every way, you are a missionary.

Dear Foster Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

I find myself thinking of you, a lot.  I want you to know that there is nothing greater than pouring yourself into a child….even if only for a little while.  You may have had to drive away, but at least, you were there.  You were present in every moment. You dried each tear.  You voiced your concerns, and praised progress.  And, after all was said and done, you had to let go.  Through your faith, you have stood tall, and because of your faith, you will carry on.

Nothing will ever take away what an incredible blessing…a miracle, really…that you have been in this child’s life.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. -2 Timothy 4:7

We’ve Been Asked to Adopt a Child. Now what? { Article}

Being asked to adopt a child is an incredible gift, but also comes with some very serious decisions and things to consider.  Below is a link to an article I wrote for  It gives suggestions on what to consider when one has been asked to adopt a child.

“Permanency through adoption for all children, regardless of the type of adoption, is something that offers children the love, stability, and protection of a family. If you have been asked to adopt a child, consider yourself blessed to be in the remarkable position of making an incredible difference in the life of a child.”

If you have been asked to adopt a child, I hope you find this helpful.

We’ve been asked to adopt a child. Now what?



On the Night You were Born {Happy 9th Birthday, Son}

20150912_170003On the night you were born, I left my office with a bit of despair in my heart.  You don’t know this, but Daddy and I had said “yes” to another baby that day.  We waited, and waited, but the phone did not ring.  Later in the day, the call I received was one that told me that the little baby boy we were excited to welcome into our hearts and home would not be coming.

I was devastated.  I knew that this was a part of foster parenting, but I so wanted to wrap that little one in my arms that night.  I packed up the baby stuff I had collected, put it aside, and then went to sleep with what felt like the weight of the world on me.  I cried tears that seemed to have been held in for so many years, and I pleaded to the Lord.  I prayed.  I begged.

With sorrow and a tint of faith-stained prayer, I said,  “Father, just give me a chance to be a Mommy to a baby, even if only for a little while.  I just want to hold a baby in my arms, and feel that incredible emotion of Motherhood.  I want this, Lord.  I need this.”

On the night you were born, I cried myself to sleep.

On the night you were born, your birth mother held you in her arms while I truly wondered what my future would look like.  As she was delivering your precious little soul into this world, I was starting to question if the heartbreak of loving and potentially losing a child through fostering was worth it.

As she was giving you your name, I was feeling this nameless, faceless emptiness. As she whispered her love to you, I whispered my grief to our Father in Heaven.

On the night you were born, two mothers:  one with child, one without, felt very intense, yet different emotions.  One felt the incredible measure of love, while the other felt a deeper degree of faith.

Two days after the night you were born, you entered my life.  An unexpected phone call, quick decision, and sudden rush to the hospital resulted in my eyes viewing a beautiful, innocent, and so deeply cherished little boy.  When I first saw you, my breath was taken away.  You were, and still are, so incredible in my eyes.

Throughout fostering you, I held onto the truth that the Lord had delivered my pleadings on the night you were born.  Daddy and I did not know how long we would call you “ours”.  We wanted so much for your birth mother to work it all out, but we also feared the thought of a life without you.

We grew to care for your birth mother, deeply.  Through much prayer, we came to realize that the journey we were on was not about us, but about you.  What a gift this was.

Here we are, nine years later, and I still marvel at the makings of our story that began on the night you were born.  Words will never be able to fully explain just how much you mean to us.  Only the Lord Himself knows the language my heart cannot deliver.

On the night you were born, while I was laboring with grief, and your birth mother was laboring in hope, two mothers, and a whole host of angels were rejoicing in the scripting of the magnificent creation of you.

Nine years ago, on the night you were born, while I was meddling in the deepest pit of sorrow, and your birth mother was visiting the joys of love and concern, the Lord knew the narrative of life that was unfolding.  This knowledge, Son, is the very reason why my soul is captivated by the wonder of you, and the richness of a faithful God.

Happy 9th Birthday, Son.  Love you, forever.

Eight Things NOT to Say to Someone Experiencing Infertility

From my life experience, I learned that words (whether meaning to, or not) can definitely impact the way a person feels about his or her own situation.  I think we tend to feel the need to “say something” when faced with the sadness of another one’s life.

From the very moment I had my hysterectomy so young, I caught on quickly that a gentle acknowledgement of the loss was often replaced by words of so-called wisdom from others.  Because of this, I have come up with a list of things NOT to say to someone who is experiencing infertility and barrenness.  Some of these have been spoken to me time and time again, while others are ones that I have heard said to other people.

  1. “You can always adopt.”  Yes, there is an element of truth in this, but please consider the fact that the person is still caught up in the midst of wondering why he or she cannot have biological children.  It is time that we separate infertility from adoption.  They are two completely different experiences.
  2. “If it is God’s will, then it will happen.”  Again, um…yes.  As a Christian, I believe in the will of God, but please don’t say this to people going through infertility.  Some of the most faithful, devout people I have encountered are barren.  Their very essence is screaming out to the Lord for an answer to what is going on, so please refrain from using this blanket statement.  Infertility is more complex than that.  And, for those of us who have adopted, we are fully aware of the incredible, God-driven gift our children are to us.
  3. “At least you don’t have to endure labor.”  Oh, really.  I mean, really?!?!  I would probably trade a leg for being able to birth my children.  Seriously.  I am not joking.  The physical pain experienced pales in comparison to the emotional pain experienced by infertility and barrenness.
  4. “I would love to skip the pregnancy, and just have an instant baby!”  Okay, fine.  I cannot imagine growing another human being in my body, and I am sure that it is really awkward and all, but think about what you are saying.  Those of us who have adopted may be dealing with the choices others made during their pregnancies of our children.  We think about what we would have done during our pregnancies.  We consider what choices might have been made by the birth mothers of our children, and our hearts break because of it.  Also, confession time:  I used to stick a ball under my shirt and look at myself in the mirror.  I hoped to catch a glimpse of what my “pregnant belly” would look like; kinda like when a little girl does this.  However, I was in my upper twenties-early thirties.  And, there is nothing “instant” about adoption.  Plus, see number three.
  5. “There are so many children who need families, and you can be that family.”   As an advocate for adoption, I completely agree with this.  This world has left far too many children without the presence and safety of parents.  However, when one is going through the ups and downs of infertility, they are still seeking answers to their situation.  In many respects, they are not at a place to consider bringing in a child.  An adopted child is NOT a substitute for not being able to have birth children.  The children in need of adoption are unique, precious, and far more deserving of being considered a replacement.
  6. “Just try harder.  Just relax.”  I don’t even know what to say to this, except I can tell you that people who are experiencing infertility and undergoing treatment put their lives on hold in order to have a successful pregnancy.  They put forth a tremendous amount of effort and money for this to happen.  It is not a matter of trying hard enough.  Oh, and in way, it is kinda none of your business about how hard “they are trying,”

While there are other comments I have endured listening to, these tend to pop out in my mind.  I truly hope this list doesn’t offend you.  If you have said this to someone going through infertility, don’t beat yourself up over it.  It seems that most people I know who are going through it have developed a thick shell.

I do ask that instead of saying any of these things, perhaps you would consider saying, “I don’t understand what this is like, but know that I am here for you, I am praying for you, and I will support you.”  These words tend to resonate loudly in the hearts and minds of others.

Words are an interesting thing.  We are taught as children that “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I don’t believe that.  I think that words can be very hurtful.  I also believe that words can be empowering, insightful, and comforting.

If you are someone experiencing infertility, let me just say this:  Your journey is your own.  It is not for others to dictate.  Do what you believe is best for your life, and situation.  Know that there are so many others out there in this big world who are sharing in your struggle.  Find them.  Connect with them.  And, don’t give up.

Is my Daddy here, yet? {innocent words caught up in corrupt world}

I was heading back into the office after lunch and ran into a foster mom dropping a little girl off for a visit with her biological father.  The girl, with big eyes, curly hair, and absolutely adorable, caught my attention.

“Is my Daddy here, yet?”

This little girl, not more than five-years-old, asked repeatedly if her daddy had arrived.  She then said,

“Is my Daddy here, yet?  I need to find him.”

After hearing that, my heart and thoughts immediately began to ring out: “This is not the way it is supposed to be.”

I have thought about this precious little baby all day.  Still thinking about her.  I’m not even sure if her daddy showed up for his visit, and honestly, I don’t want to know.  I don’t want to find out if he, for whatever reason, could not come.  I’d rather think that he did show, and that he played and loved on her with the time he was allowed to.

I’ve heard that child welfare workers like myself build a “wall” to what we witness.  I don’t know if it is a wall, or not.  I do know that whatever it is that we build…resilience, wall…whatever you want to call it…does not keep us from feeling the heart-break of the work at hand.

This isn’t how it is supposed to be.  Babies should not be asking where their fathers are.  It is upsetting to be a first-hand witness to it.  It is far easier to think in terms of case numbers, but when I am face-to-face with the actual face of a child going through it, I feel anger.  It makes me sad.  Quite frankly, it pisses me off.

No wall, or defense, or resilience, could ever prepare or secure our hearts from being a little punctured when we witness what we witness, and when we are faced with what our eyes and ears experience.

After thinking about this little girl looking for her daddy, I started to think about my relationship with my Earthly Dad, and my Heavenly Father.  My Earthly Dad has supported me, and as I have grown through the years, I have become mightily aware of just how important this is.

When it comes to my Heavenly Father, I have often wondered, “Where are You?  I need to find You.”  And now that I’m fully immersed in child welfare, I still find myself thinking this when I consider all of the horribly wrong situations that so many children and families find themselves in.

The truth that I feel in my heart is that the Lord is present in each of these moments, but I still wonder why He doesn’t intervene when we wish He would.  I question why He would allow for children to go through what they go through, why there are orphans in this world, and why adults find their only refuge in drugs and despair.

As a Christian, as a mother, and as a child welfare professional, I am always in a place of growing, stretching, and yearning for what the Lord is trying to teach me through the burdens of the day.  I seem to be always “waiting on Him”, but then I am brought back to the Cross.  I am fully reminded that He is already all I need.

The fact that my job demand is based on the abuse and neglect of children weighs heavy on my heart.  I suspect other child welfare workers feel this way, as well.

“Is my Daddy here yet?  I need to find him.”

These innocent, yet heartbreaking words from a precious little one caught up in the turmoil of this spinning world, stuck to me.  How could they not?

“Where are You, Daddy?  We need to find You.”

Perhaps, this is what we should all be speaking.  

How Adoption Fulfilled the Restless Spirit in Me

Hello, friends!  I was recently asked to write an article for Adoption.Com regarding what adoption has fulfilled in me.  I thought long and hard about it, and came up with several things that has fulfilled my heart, and has satisfied my soul since becoming a parent.

Considering it all, I decided to write about how adoption settled and fulfilled the sense of restlessness in my spirit.  The article is linked below.

“With the final pounding of the Judge’s gavel, my restless spirit seemed to take its final breath. It poured out in the tears that streamed down my face while the Judge announced that this child was mine.”

What has adoption fulfilled in you?

Dear Infertility (Part 6)

Dear Infertility,

Remember me?  Maybe, maybe not.  I remember you, though.  I still think of you, often.  You forced me to walk in a wasteland.  My footsteps were not padded with softness.  I was not welcomed.  There was zero comfort in my journey.  My experience through your vast wilderness left me bewildered, frustrated, and deeply heart-broken.

I do not know why I keep thinking of you.  Honestly, you are not worthy of my thoughts.  You are not a friend I want to keep, but gosh, in random moments, I still think of you.

Perhaps, it is not just you I think about.  Perhaps, it is the whole life experience I have walked that involves you, my medical struggles, and my children.  Perhaps, just perhaps, without you, I would not be able to understand what it is to be at a low place, at a place of complete joy, or somewhere in between.

I do not like you at all, you know.  I wish you had no substance at all.  I wish more than anything that others had no idea of who you are, what you mean, and what you might possibly be able to take away.

Do you know what you do to people?  Do you even care?  You cause the faithful to question their faith, the hopeful to lose hope, and the joyful to watch their joy dissipate.

Dear Infertility,

Despite all of these things, I wonder if I would be who I am without you.  Would I wonder about others who are exploring your place in their lives?  Would I carry an ounce of empathy towards the plight of others who are experiencing medical problems?  Would I have a heart for foster children and orphans in the world? Could I call myself “Mamma” to three amazing children that were adopted into my life?

It is ironic, you know.  With you, I carry a bit of sadness, but without you, I cannot imagine the incredible gift of parenting.

You invaded me from the inside out.  Sure, I was physically impacted by my illness, but I was also spiritually and emotionally impacted as well.  It is crazy that you came into my life many years ago, and here I am still thinking about you.

Here’s the difference, though.  I no longer allow you to consume me like you used to.  I no longer feel you are a heartbreak.  I do not carry the same burden about you like I used to.  Instead, I think of you and my Heavenly Father, and I know that through His mighty grace, I have conquered you.  You are overcome.  You stand no chance when being met head-on by the faithfulness of our Father.

Dear Infertility,

It is true.  I do still think of you.  How can I not?  You have tried desperately to declare yourself as the author of my life.  Well, you are most definitely not.  You may be a character in my story line, but the author of my life is the Author of life itself.

You might be a part of who I was created to be, but you are not the whole of who I am.

More importantly, you will never define who I am in Him.  

Give That a Thought

While at the store the other day with my daughter, a lady stopped me and said, “Your daughter looks just like you. You sure could never deny her!” I thanked her for noticing us, wished her a good day, and even thought, “There are some days I’d like to deny…..” I’ll just stop there!

It is funny, you know. I get told often how all of my kids resemble me in someway. Sometimes, I see it. Sometimes, I don’t.

I definitely “see myself” in them, though. I see the good, the bad, and the ugly. Do you know those moments when your child says something in just a way that you are quickly reminded of how you must sound when saying the same thing? Yep, these are the times when I realize how much of an influence I make on my kids. It is also a reminder that if our kids can repeat some of the things we say in our not-so-fine moments, then they can surely remember the things we say when we are at our best.

There are also moments when your child does something out of love, or speaks incredible wisdom that stops you right in your place. These are the times when I catch a glimpse of myself in the kids, or am taught a lesson by them.

To the sweet lady at the grocery store who stopped to tell me how much my daughter looks like me, Thank You. As a parent through adoption, I get tickled by it, and find such a great sense of how truly awesome and purposeful adoption really is.

I love that in many ways my kids look like me, and my husband. More important, though, is the thought that every action or word we say as parents strikes even deeper in the hearts and minds of our children.

In so many ways, they are a reflection of who we are.

Give that a thought.

Oh, You of Little Faith {big things can come from small beginnings}

It was just a stick with a few leaves (and that may be generous to say) when my husband planted what he called a “tree” in the ground.  I laughed at it.  I said, “That stick is not a tree!”  My husband watered it, spoke of high aspirations for it, and tried to convince me that with time, and the roots have dug in, that little stick would become a tree.

This was several years ago, and indeed, that little stick with just a few leaves grew into a healthy, and vibrant tree.  My husband likes to remind me of how little faith I had in that tree to ever settle roots and grow into something of beauty.

When I look upon it, I often think about our own lives, and how we sometimes posses little faith that anything of substance will grow out of measly beginnings. When we look at people or situations that seem deprived of any hope, it is quite hard to imagine how powerful, beautiful, or strong that person or situation just might turn out to be.

I also think about the necessity of nurturing roots. This necessity does not just stop with plant and tree life.  It also is vital for the growth and development of human beings.  How many times have we all said, “That child will not grow up to be anything”, or “That person will not change”?  

How many children are trying to survive in soil that lacks nutrition? 

God’s Word says,

 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.  Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched.  And since they had no root, they withered away.  Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.  Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

Matthew 13:3-9

Scripture not only instructs us on the importance of setting roots in good soil, it also speaks to us about the importance of faith.

He asked them, “Why are you afraid, you who have little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.

Matthew 8:26

When facing difficult situations in life, it is important that we do not dwell on the beginning.  We should be encouraged to consider the future, but consider it with hope.  Something I have learned throughout my life, especially dealing with the trauma of my illness and subsequent barrenness, is that if we knew the outcome to every situation, or if we could know what happens in the future, faith would not be important.

Where would faith be in our lives?  Or, better yet, what would faith mean to us?

I suspect that our faith would become a secondary commitment, or more like a hobby, instead of a necessity.  I question if it would even exist.

When I look upon that tree that my husband planted many years ago (I can call it a tree now), the words, “Oh, you of little faith” tend to ring out in my ears.  I remember the planting of that nearly barren stick, my laughing at my husband’s hope for its growth, and how my husband tended to it.  And, I am reminded time and again, that from the most destitute, insignificant, broken, weak, small, and seemingly meaningless beginnings, people can grow into incredible creations.  Desperate circumstances can become turning-point moments in life, if we all just loved a little more, whispered aspiring dreams, and possessed a grounding of faith in them.20150714_172203

That little stick grew into a tree – a wonderful, pretty, and full of life tree.

Isn’t this what the Lord wants for all of us? 

I Had a Dream the Other Night {the wilderness}

I had a dream the other night. It was one of those types of dreams where you wake up with strong emotions. I even felt tears in the corners of my eyes.

The dream itself was rather confusing. I was at a conference, or something like that, and a woman started talking about her walk with infertility. I didn’t recognize this person at all. I could not pick her out if I had to, but her words were ones that stayed in my mind after I awoke.

She said, “I am not barren. I am infertile, but there is not a reason why. I don’t know what I am. I have feared this wilderness, but I have also possessed faith in it.”

I woke up remembering back to my own feelings, my own sense of confusion, and the wilderness to which I feared. Am I barren? Yes, for all intents and purposes, I am. Am I fertile? No. I do not have any organs that would make me fertile. Am I infertile? Well…no…I guess not…? How can I be infertile if I do not posses the organs that are fertile?

The morning after this dream I thought about all of the perplexing emotions and thoughts that plagued my life as an adolescent. After all, I entered into adolescence after a hysterectomy. Crazy, isn’t it?

I did not even know the wilderness that was set before me. I had no clue what the landscape of the years ahead would be like. In many ways, I feared it. I remembered wondering what my own definition really was.

My own life experiences were ones mixed with immense joy, and deep sorrow. In many ways, I feared the wilderness of childlessness so much, but in my imagination, dreams, and prayers, I also somehow managed to cling onto a little bit of faith through it all.

After thinking about the dream in the context of my own life, my thoughts then turned to so many who are now meandering their way through their own wilderness of confusion.

It is ugly, isn’t it?

It is confusing, isn’t it?

You may be wondering what your own definition is.

Friends, my heart sinks for you. I wish I had the perfect words to help you through all of the muck and mud of infertility. The truth is that there is not perfection in this journey you are on. It is going to be hard. It is going to feel like a vast pit of emptiness. It is going to make you angry, make you question God’s will for your life, and make you feel like the loneliest person on Earth.

However, you are not alone. There are so many others traversing the same path you are on. Find each other. Reach out to each other. Pray for each other. I didn’t have that growing up. I always wondered if there were other girls out there in the world like me, but I knew there wasn’t.

From this sojourner who has spent the majority of her life in the midst of barrenness, I want you to know that clinging onto that light you envision at the end of the tunnel is so important.

It is okay to fear the wilderness.

It is also more than okay to hold onto your faith in it as well.