End of the School Year Gift Idea for Teachers {Teacher’s Poem}

With the end of the school year upon us, my children asked if they could give a gift to their teachers.  They decided they wanted to give their teachers a candle this year.

After purchasing the candles, I decided to write a poem to go along with it.  candleteacherpoem

Here is the poem that I wrote for the gift:

Each time you light this candle, I hope you think of me, 

For summer’s come, school is out, may we enjoy the days with glee.

Thank you for teaching me to learn, live, and laugh,

And, thank you for advocating on my little behalf.

The light that burns within us all is brighter than the sun,

It is something that does not extinguish, it cannot be undone.

A teacher’s impact on young lives will never really fade,

Thank you, teacher, for this past year, now I’m off to the first grade!

Since my children are in different grades, I simply switched out the grade they entering so that I could use the poem for both kids.  Their teachers were surprised by the gift, and my children could not have been happier to give it to them.  I have saved the poem to use in the years to come.

If you are looking for gift ideas to give teachers, consider writing something that is heartfelt and personal.  Teachers give so much to our children day in and day out. Gifts and kind words are just a few ways we can express how much we appreciate them.

If you would like to use my poem as part of a gift for your child’s teacher, please email me or comment on this blog.  Have a great summer!

Blessings!

Caroline

Ten Ways to Celebrate Foster Care Awareness Month (Adoption.com article)

May is National Foster Care Awareness Month in the United States.  There are thousands of children in foster care.  The number of children in care does not represent the amount of hotline calls made regarding abuse and neglect of children.  It also does not represent the number of intact families who are receiving preventive services in order to keep the children in the home.

Recently, I wrote an article for Adoption,Com listing ten ways you can get involved in bringing awareness to foster care, without becoming a foster parent.

You can read the article by clicking on this link:

Ten Ways to Celebrate National Foster Care Awareness Month

Together, we can all contribute to bringing awareness to the needs of children and families involved in the foster care system.

It’s today, birth mother.

It’s today, birth mother, the anniversary of our adoption of our son…your son.  Somehow, this year, it sort of snuck up on me.  The moment I realized it, I thought of you.

Our son is growing up too fast.  I look at him sometimes and wonder where that curly blonde-haired boy went.  I imagine, though, that you might think the same thing.

He does not want to snuggle as much as he used to.  Forget about hugging me in public.  No, those days are just a memory.  However, he still carries within him the same sweetness, loyalty, and love that he has always possessed.  I suspect, or at least I hope, these things will not fade as his youthful spring turns into an aging summer.

It’s today, birth mother, the anniversary of one of the most significant experiences in my life, and yet, I’m thinking of you.  It is odd, you know…two strangers whose lives greatly differ; yet, forever sewn together by the tapestry of a child.  Honestly, I cannot think of anything more beautiful.

Our son is smart, athletic, creative, and just a wonderful child.  His heart always seems to land in the right spot, even though his actions may not show it.  Behind that urging to fit in, be just “one of the guys”, and deal with the pressure of growing up in today’s society, is a boy whose future is full of adventures.

As I watch him develop, I gaze at his features, consider his personality, and marvel at his being.  That’s my job…to admire, to ponder, and to be amazed by him. However, it was once your job as well, and that is something I will never forget.

It’s today, birth mother.  Today is the day the gavel fell and he was declared mine forever.  Do you want to know something?  Despite the legalities of it all, I still believe that he will also be forever your’s.  How can I not feel this way?

I wasn’t there when he entered this world.  I didn’t hold him on my chest when he was breathing Earthly air for the first time.  I didn’t name him.  While this has grieved me some through the years, I cannot help but be thankful that you had those moments…those precious, unforgettable moments.

I don’t regret anything, birth mother.  No.  Instead, I am forever changed by the time we had together while we were all navigating the world of foster care.  The system isn’t pretty.  I know that you understand that so well.  It doesn’t create too many divine moments.  However, what happened between you, our son, and I was splendid.  The system cannot define it.

Today, birth mother, is the anniversary of our adoption.  Today, birth mother, I not only celebrate my son, but I also honor who you are, what you meant to me during our foster care journey, and how much you mean to me now.

Our son is wonderful.  He is everything you hoped he would be.  And that, birth mother, fills my heart with gratitude, contentment, and delight.

Jars of Clay {God’s Greatest Treasure}

It had been a rough week with our daughter. She’s extremely sweet at times, but at other times, she can be quite difficult. As we left for church last Sunday, all I was thinking is how much I just wanted to crawl back in bed.

My daughter wanted to stay with us for the worship songs before she went to her Sunday school class. Although I really wanted her to go to her class, I know how much it means to stand together with your child and worship God.

Soon into our service the song “Broken Vessels” by Hillsong Worship was sung. The song uses part of the song “Amazing Grace” in it. Although I was dwelling on the issues of the week, and the problems we had just right before we left for church, I began to listen and hear my six-year-old daughter sing,

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.”

My daughter has said for several years that “Amazing Grace” is her favorite song. I sing it to her every night before she falls asleep. As her little voice sang the words, my heart was punched.

A little further along in the song are these lyrics,

“You take our failure. You take our weakness. You set Your treasure In jars of clay. So take this heart, Lord, I’ll be Your vessel. The world to see,Your love in me.”

As I tried to sing the words, my mind and heart were interrupted by the thoughts of my daughter, my other children, and my own life. Soon, I was wiping tears away.

During the song while listening to my daughter sing, I was convicted at the very existence of my daughter, and all of us.

Broken vessels.

Wounded. Weak. Full of failures.

Jars of clay.

God’s greatest treasure.

Did you read that? Inside of us is God’s greatest treasure.

Despite our failings as we walk this Earth, and despite our histories, our greatest regrets, and our current circumstances, inside us dwells the greatest treasure of all.

Friends, if you are feeling less than what you wished you would be, confused by your circumstances, or perhaps, that you are not worthy of love, remember this,

YOU are GOD’s TREASURE.

Isn’t that something to cherish?

Top 10 Characteristics of Successful Foster and Adoptive Families {Adoption.Com Article}

Adoption.Com published an article I wrote titled, Top 10 Characteristics of Successful Foster and Adoptive Families.  You can read the article by clicking here.

In my line of work, part of the responsibilities my staff and I have is to assess families who are interested in becoming foster and adoptive families for children in state custody.  We look at a variety of characteristics, as well as, the past and present functioning of the family system.

The characteristics in this article are just a few that prospective foster/adoptive families should take into consideration.  If you are considering becoming a foster family, take a moment to read through the article.  I hope it will help you discern whether foster parenting is the right fit for you and your family.

Dear Infertility (Part 5)

Dear Infertility,

I caught myself thinking about you the other day.  I mean, honestly, how can I not think about you when I’m surrounded by the gift of adoption?  It seems odd, you know.  I used to suppress you, ignore that you found me so young in life, and try with every ounce of my being to not allow myself to believe that you were a big deal.

But, here’s the truth.  You were a big deal.  Through a random illness and subsequent surgery, you changed my course of life.  I entered into a world of barrenness that not too many seemed to understand at the time.  I was just a child, and of course, did not understand it, either.

How dare you push your way into my life.  

I did not invite you.  I did not ask for you to happen, and yet, my life had to be saved.  It is ironic, isn’t it?  The surgery to save my life rendered me unable to give life.

I found myself wondering about what my birth children would have looked like.  I also thought about what their personalities would be like, and if they would struggle with the same challenges that my children have.  I also thought about what it would have felt like to carry my children in my body, to nourish them, to provide them with all that they needed for a healthy development, and to hold them close to my chest after delivering them into this complex and amazing God-created world.

Dear Infertility,

I thought of you the other day.  My life is now built on a solid foundation of faith and love.  You, however, are like quicksand.  A foot-hold cannot be found in you.  You suffocate, swallow, and take…just take.  That is all you seem to know how to do.

And then, I thought about all of the others (far too many to even count) that are in the throes of trying to stand up in your quicksand.  I thought about the ones who are just learning of you.  They had their life planned out.  They desire to have a family, but you seemed to slither your way into their lives.

How dare you.  How dare you push your way into their lives.

It is funny, you know.  My life is no longer determined by you.  And, I have the hope that you will no longer determine the lives of countless others.  Oh, you will keep on trying, won’t you?  You will keep on kicking and screaming until they surrender.

However, I need to fill you in on something.  That something is called the ‘human spirit’.  You see, giving in does not come easy for most of us.  Throwing in the towel, surrendering, and giving up does not feel good, and it certainly is not a trait that we embrace.  If anything, it goes against the very core of our existence.

Dear Infertility,

So here’s the deal.  Why don’t you take a backseat for a while?  For over thirty-two years, I have carried you, and no offense, but you are kind of heavy.  You are also far too heavy for the ones who are just discovering you.

My children, you know, the ones I thought I would never be a Mamma to, are just as exquisite, unique, and loved as I thought they would be.  You did not dictate my life, despite your efforts.  You did not win.  Oh, I know how you must hate that.

I would say I’m sorry, but I’m not.  

And, just to make you feel as small as I once felt, I celebrate, CELEBRATE, every single adoption that occurs when couples, who have you hanging on to them, take the courageous step and become parents.

Dear Infertility,

I thought of you the other day.  I thought about how different my life might be if you were not in it.  Do you want to know something?

Without you, I would not be able to encourage others who find themselves on the same journey.  Without you, I would not be able to embrace how God had it all in His hands.  Without you, I would not be the mother of three amazingly challenging, and precious children.

Dear Infertility,

Why don’t you dwell on that for a while?

International Adoption: Changing Hearts, Changing Lives {Adoption.Com article}

I recently wrote an article about one family’s story of their adoption from Ethiopia for the website Adoption.Com.  As I was writing the story, I was moved to tears from the imagery of the words of the mother.

“When we picked up our kids at the orphanage, I remember pulling into the compound, the taxi pulling in through the locked gate, then kids flooding out of the house, running toward our car. There were probably 40 children there, climbing on us, saying “Mommy” and “Daddy.”

Surely, there is more that we can do as a world full of beating hearts and stable homes.  Whether they come from Ethiopia, China, or are in the United States Foster Care system, there is no excuse for children growing up in this world without a family.

Consider what you can do.  Get inspired.  Do something.

You can read the article by clicking on the link below:

International Adoption: Changing Hearts, Changing Lives

Wow, God. Just wow.

There are some days that parenting is just like, “Whoa, God. Where in the heck are You? I mean the kids are driving me crazy!”

I worry about their behaviors. I wonder if my children are the only ones acting like this. I visualize massive failure as a parent.

Then, there are other days where it is like, “Wow, God. I feel You in the warm embraces of my young ones. I see You in their innocent and beautiful faces.”

I cherish the sweet moments of softhearted notes left for me. I hear their whispers of curiosity about life, and I realize that I am a good-enough parent.

Most of all though, I realize that parenting is not black and white. It is not even grey. It is full of color.

There are over-the-moon moments when I think to myself, “Yes! That lesson was learned!” There are also moments when I cry into my pillow saying, “No…no…this cannot happen again.”

These are the moments when I realize that maybe God is the most present.

For in these moments, I catch just a glimpse of the complexity of our relationship with our Father. There just may be moments when He thinks, “Yes!” Yet, there also may be moments when He thinks, “No…no…not again.”

At the end of it all, one thing is certain. Parenting requires daily attention. It requires humility, admitting our own faults, and faithfully remembering that God’s got this.

He knows our struggles. He also knows our children’s struggles.  He, too, is a Father. Remembering that, my soul says, “Wow, God. Just wow.”

The Hope of Heaven

“Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal.”

This lyric is part of a song by the David Crowder band. Every time I hear this part of the song, it always seems to stay with me a bit. I’ve even thought, “Is there really no sorrow that heaven can’t heal?”

I think about the loss of children, the violence of the world, the dissolution of relationships, the heartbreak of lost hopes, and the sorrow of barrenness, and I wonder, honestly, can heaven heal these wounds?

Sometimes, the depth of despair experienced as we create our footsteps on this soil seems so deep that, perhaps, even heaven cannot dig us out of it.

But then, I think about the hope of Heaven. I think about the majesty of it all, and I realize that while sorrow visits us here, it will not stick with us forever.

On this Easter Sunday, I feel the hope of Heaven even more.  Thank you, Jesus, for You have overcome the grave.

From Infertility to Adoption: Nine Factors to Consider {Adoption.Com Article}

I recently wrote an article for Adoption.Com regarding some important factors to consider when one is facing infertility, and thinking about adoption.  Moving towards adoption after years of infertility is a serious decision, and requires lots of thought.

There are many facets to both infertility and adoption; however, it is vital to separate the two experiences in life as much as possible.  The article suggests nine crucial things to consider before taking the next step in one’s journey to parenthood.

You can read the article by clicking on the link:

From Infertility to Adoption: Nine Factors to Consider

Blessings,

Caroline