Second Annual Adoption Update

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Thank you to everyone supporting our adoption journey. Your continued prayers and shares are appreciated. I’m going to collect our past updates in this post.

20 months ago
We had our next visit with the home study social worker today, it went well! Praise God, I’ve been praying the Lord would give us grace/undeserved favor with the agency, and God did! The home inspection is Thursday, nervous and excited! Thank you to all of our supporters!

17 months ago
For those of you who pray, please keep Adam and I in your prayers, on any regular list you have, we need prayer cover nigh continually during this season of adoption. The enemy is fighting us hard. God is bigger and he’s got our back; he has, is, and will move on our behalf in awesome ways, but he often moves through his people. I can feel the difference when God’s people are praying. Thank you so much!

12 months ago
Christmas Adoption Update (Discusses the failed home inspections, the battle to get caught up and to master homemaking with ADHD, and spiritual/emotional battles I faced)

We passed our home inspection! Only two more to go! Oh, we need to get a couple smoke detectors mounted if anyone knows anyone who can help.

(Note over the next several months we passed two more home inspections and jumped through more hoops involving
psych-evals and mandated counseling as we had to overcome the agency’s fears to prove I am capable of being a fit parent despite my social background and ADHD.)

5 months ago
After much intense spiritual warfare, God did a miracle and we are looking at an approved home study finally and got to begin making our adoption family book while the paperwork is wrapped up and we transition to the matching with prospective birth moms and the next big payment (the $4000 goal we set) most of our existing funds ended up spent on an emergency paint job the home study required (Murphy’s law nearly kicked our butts–but our God is bigger and stronger!) If I forgot, Adam got a big promotion and a significant pay raise, thank you to the Lord for his donation. Adam deserved it, he’s a tireless hard worker with such a big, giving heart. He gives to charity and to friends in need, donates blood, and even is practicing to run 4 half marathons to raise money for AIDS orphans in India.  (Note he completed all four races last fall.)

3 months ago
Our family books got approved! We get to print them and move forward to matching!

1 month ago
We are still in the matching process. Please pray for us, the other waiting parents, and for the prospective birth moms at the agency, that God will lead us all to good matches and show the prospective birth moms the right families for them to give to their precious babies. Thank you for all of your support.

If you’re either curious, your family is considering making an adoption plan for your child, or you’d like to share it with a friend, you can check out Andrea and Adam’s public family profile. 

Christmas Adoption Update

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The season upon us is a good time to reflect on the journey of this last year. For my husband and I, it’s been one mostly of seeking to adopt our first child. One thing we have learned over this last year is how much the enemy truly hates and despises adoption. The enemy has gone after every vulnerability he can trying to stop us. None have prevailed because God has our back along with praying friends and family, like many of you are. The biggest hindrance has been a failed home inspection that almost cost us our child.

I take full responsibility for that. I have inattentive type ADD and am a bit of a perfectionist. When I couldn’t live up to my own ideals and standards in some aspect of homemaking, I often would give up on that task. Unless I had someone nagging me about it. So, for years, if I couldn’t do it perfectly, and my husband didn’t show any sign of caring if it got done, it didn’t get done. Since I had been too proud and too ashamed to admit I needed help and ask for it. When the adoption agency put my future child’s life on the line over my deficiency, though, I did step up. And God has provided in amazing ways.

Again, remember, in the midst of all God did, the enemy was hitting hard, and one of the enemy’s targets was my very faith. When my own faith gave out, God gave me a new faith only from him. And God brought me to that dark valley and lead me through it on purpose. What the enemy wanted to utterly destroy, God wanted to rebuild from the ground up. My faith had been tainted with works-righteous; it was something I did to be saved. God stripped it from me so I would learn true faith is a gift from God we must humbly receive.

During this year of great struggle, God has continually spoken over me, through many sources, Isaiah 41:10 ESV, “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

[tweetthis]“I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”[/tweetthis]

While comforting me with this assurance, God also arranged a divine appointment for me with a Titus 2:5 mentor, Kathi Johnson. The older widow taught me how to keep up my home while she helped me get caught up. In the process, I made a good friend. (Kathi of course!) And overcame many of the challenges holding me back from keeping my home nice.

One challenge was the flat paint a previous homeowner had used on the walls. Washing the walls ruined the paint job. So now we have repainted with the good stuff that I can wash.

This month, I found out God had been strengthening and upholding me far more literally than I ever imagined or dreamed of in this life. Since middle school, I’ve had scoliosis and have lived with a curvature of the spine that exceeds 45 degrees. Household chores that involve bending or lifting heavy weights put great stress on a spine with scoliosis. The daily stresses of life had begun manifesting in pain soon after I turned thirty. Then, a one-inch shoe lift and physical therapy relieved the pain but not the scoliosis. Straightening out an adult’s crooked spine requires surgery.

Or a miracle.

A miracle I didn’t ask for until my back started complaining again this December. This time, I did my physical therapy hesitantly. I’d learned some PT exercises for scoliosis originate from yoga, which I personally can’t do with a clear conscience. I made a hard decision to not ask their origins, but to skip specific exercises that I do become aware have their origins in the worship of idols. I prayed it out with God, pleading with the Lord that I desired for him to get all the glory.

Soon after that, lead by God, I took off my shoes with the lift and stretched out the left side of my body. I had been so crooked from the severity of my spine’s curvature, my left side of my body had measured one inch shorter than my right, with my shoulders and hips uneven. Not anymore. My muscles ached from habitually still holding my body in the old, bent-up position, hiding what I suspect God had already done. He’s literally had my back during all my hard work.

Mind you, my right ribs still stick out from the scoliosis. We won’t know for certain how much straighter my spine actually is until we can get x-rays. But it feels better. And God is teaching me so much through this and all he’s brought us through this year.

To conclude, our floors and counters are so old, I’ve mistaken wear and tear for dirt many times. Still, Adam and I hope the agency will see past those flaws, realize our home is clean, and pass us on our three makeup home inspections. The first one is coming up on January 9, 2018.

With continued prayer support and our Lord giving us unmerited favor with the adoption agency, we will complete our home study this year and continue on to paying the next big fee ($4000) and create the scrapbooks they’ll show to birth families in the actual process of matching us with a birth family. We don’t ask you for more money, you have all given plenty, and our God will provide what we need. What we do ask you is for your prayers and for you to share our story on social media. Thank you so much for all you have already done in that regards, too. It means a lot to us. May you have a blessed Christmas season and God be with you in the New Year.

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
Isaiah 43:1[tweetthis]Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. Isaiah 43:1[/tweetthis]

 

It’s Not Always Easy to be a Kid

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photo credit: Daddy-David Crying at dinner – Day 331 via photopin (license)

I have gathered, when kids express they feel it can be hard to be a kid, some parents laugh, saying the kids’ feeling is wrong, that what is hard is being an adult and having to work and pay a mortgage, to earn money to care for and provide for kids who would turn and complain about their lot in lives.

Certainly, children know little of the problems of adulthood. There’s the exertions of work, the stress of finances, and the time consuming tasks of raising children. There’s the emotional stresses of wondering whether our life has really mattered, if we’ve made the right choices, and what type of world we’ll leave to our children.

We may find ourselves looking out on a summer day which we’re about to spend doing thankless office work or thankless housework and remember those summer days that were as free as rain water when we could do most anything we wanted. When we could sleep until 9 in the morning or later and then run until the sun went down, with almost boundless energy. What energy we often have is drained in drudgery spent at work and at home for kids who complain about their lot in life.

There’s something to be said for gratitude. Modern middle class American children need to learn it. If they were born another time or in another country, their lives would not be spent playing video games or demanding cell phones. They’d be spent working in the field or in some sweatshop. Their country and their parents have afforded them a great deal of opportunity.

Rather than blaming the children for feeling their lives are hard, let’s graciously remember two things. They typically lack the perspective on life needed to realize how easy they have it compared to past generations of kids and kids of lesser economic situations. They are also not capable of commiserating with the challenges of adult life. They’ve never been adults. But adults are capable of taking off their rose colored glasses and remembering what it was like to be children–what it was really like.

In addition, beyond the confines of the safe home you raise your well-adjusted family in, the sad reality is many children are suffering greatly in situations bad beyond our comprehension. Kids are easy to abuse in the most vile ways imaginable by adults. Kids from abusive and otherwise disadvantaged backgrounds can be easy prey for bullies. Kids suffer from hunger, starvation, discrimination, and poverty in every corner of the United States and even more so around the world.

Yet even kids in far better circumstances lack control. The biggest things that kids can’t control is who conceives them and who parents them. While there are now designer parents, children will never get to have designer parents. An infant doesn’t get to request an emotionally supportive father, a mother who will encourage her interest in sports, or a parent who will sacrifice part of her career to stay home with her and any siblings she has. They don’t get to choose if they’ll have a parent who will read to them.

Birth parents begin making decisions for a child before he’s even born by the birth mother’s habits during pregnancy and how she takes care of herself and then during the developmental years. Decisions are made about exposure to media and stimuli that will set the course for the rest of their lives.

Kids don’t get to choose their economic strata or what type of schools they’ll be able to attend. They don’t get to decide whether their parents will be dedicated to making their marriage and family work. They don’t get to decide how much exercise they’ll get in early life or whether their food will be healthy. They don’t get to decide whether the parents will make decisions that are far beyond their ability to understand: whether they’ll receive religious instruction or how it is given if it is.

Kids suffer all the time due to parental unwise decisions made as a result of a lack of knowledge of their unique kids’ unique needs and how to meet them while emotions like pride, fear, and shame keep the parents from seeking professional help. Parents can allow kids to do whatever they want, only for the children to suffer later because the parents didn’t consistently say no to something harmful.

Some types of short term pain produce long term benefits. Parental-induced boredom may be meant to prepare children for the fact life isn’t a non-stop party of fun. Limiting junk food and screen time may produce healthy bodies when they’re older. Yet, such reasoning is beyond a child’s comprehension.

From a child’s own, limited perspective, it is indeed hard to be a kid. After all, even as adults, Christians are still children in relation to God. We don’t get to decide his Word or His Commandments, His Ways are often beyond our comprehension. And, if we are truly submitted, then we are not in control, He is. And at times, we don’t understand, and get very frustrated at how hard this foreign way to live is.

If it is hard, at times, to be a child in the hands of a God who loves us, how much harder is it to be a child helplessly in the hands of well-intentioned but flawed human beings?

[tweetthis]It’s Not Always Easy to be a Kid guest post by Adam Graham @idahoguy[/tweetthis]

[tweetthis]If it can be hard to be a child of a perfect, loving God, how much harder is it to be a child of flawed humans?[/tweetthis]

 

 

Children: Helping Them Stay Positive During Holiday Absences

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Photo via Pixabay

Guest Post By: Kelli Brewer

Holidays are a time when families come together, spend time with one another, and thank the Lord for all of their blessings, but if a loved one is far away, it can put a damper on things. For children, it may be hard to understand their loved one’s absence, and they may have a hard time coping when their loved one has to miss out on special occasions. To keep your child (whether you are the parent or the legal guardian) positive and upbeat, communicate the situation to them, allow other relatives to fill in when necessary, find fun ways for them to stay connected with their loved one, and let them know that no matter what, God is with your child and the loved one they long to be with.

Give Them Details

When it comes to telling your child that a family member will be absent for a period a time, preparing your child depends on their age, personality, temperament, and family situation. Whether the absence is due to traveling, deployment, a move, or medical treatment, it is important that you are as open and honest with your child as they ask you to be, and realize that they may not understand. Some reasons for a loved one’s departure may be more sensitive than others, and your child may have questions that you don’t know how to answer, and that’s okay. It’s important that you try, and they’ll recognize and be comforted that you’re making an effort to keep them out of the dark. For example, if a loved one enters addiction treatment, your child may have a lot of questions about what they are struggling with. It may not feel appropriate to bombard an elementary-aged child with information on what it means to be addicted. However, it will be helpful to let them know that your family will play an important part in helping your loved one feel better, but right now, God is working to heal them.

Time out when you will let the child know of the absence. For children 3 years old and younger, they haven’t yet grasped the concept of time, so telling them you will be gone for one month could translate to tomorrow. Even elementary-aged children may have a hard time differentiating five days from one week.

Rather than focus on the time specifics, use the time before the absence to simply remind them that it is going to happen so that it doesn’t take them by surprise. For older children, give them advanced notice so they have adequate time to get as used to the idea as possible. To help children visualize the time frame, let them pick out a calendar and mark the leave and return dates in colorful marker or pen. Each day, let your child cross out the day or mark it off with a sticker. Alternatively, you could try putting things into a perspective that makes sense to them, such as, “After we attend three Sunday services, Dad will be back home.”

When you are talking to your child, take cues from them and follow their lead. Some may ask a lot of questions and want to know every single detail, such as where you will be located on a map, where you will sleep, or what you will be doing. Others may simply want to know when you will be home. Encourage your child to ask questions and express their emotions. Each situation is different, so determine what information is appropriate for your child to know.

Keep Them Involved

During holidays, your child may be sad or upset that their loved one isn’t there to participate in the activities. Document the event with a camera or recorder, or let your child video chat with the loved one during fun activities such as dyeing Easter eggs or opening gifts. If video chat isn’t an option, set up a time for your child to talk on the phone with them and tell them all about their day and activities they participated in. Many churches now offer their services through live, online streams, so if attending church on Sunday with their loved one is a tradition your child looks forward to, ask your loved one to “attend” the service online so they can talk about the sermon afterward like they always would. You may also want to consider letting your child draw a picture or write a letter. If your child isn’t old enough to write, transcribe it for them.

Regardless of what holiday you are celebrating, it is important to not only document it, but honor traditions. Even if a family member is absent, children often count on certain traditions. It is important to continue them to reassure them that although some things have changed, others have remained the same. Having aunts, uncles, and grandparents around can still make the holiday feel like a family event, and it softens the blow of missing out on an absent mom or dad.

If your child expresses sadness over a family member not being able to participate in a holiday tradition, suggest a new tradition that everyone can participate in, or try a spin on one you already have. For example, if your family says a special prayer at Easter dinner, work with your family member ahead of time and ask them to contribute to this year’s family prayer. Their words will bring comfort to your child, and even though it may feel a little different this year, the tradition will live on.

No matter what holiday your loved one is absent for, it can be tough on children who don’t understand or who have trouble dealing with this type of change. Try to keep the lines of communication open, and try to keep them involved to help them work through their emotions and stay connected with their loved one. Encourage them to pray for their loved one — and offer to join them in doing so — and reassure them that God will bring everyone together again when He knows the time is right.

Kelli writes for DeployCare, where she shares resources and solutions for issues commonly faced by military families.

[tweetthis]#GuestPost: “Children: Helping Them Stay Positive During Holiday Absences” By Kelli Brewer[/tweetthis]

Run 4 Heaven’s Gate

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This year, on my thirty-fifth birthday, I gave up receiving presents and instead asked my friends and family to give a donation to SendHopeNow.org, to help AIDs Orphans in India. In addition to losing their parents to AIDS, many of the children are themselves infected with HIV. If you have only $1-5 to spare, my birthday campaign continues until 9/20/2016.

I’m also taking a journey with my husband, Adam Graham, who has been training for the past few months to do four half marathons in four weeks between October 9th and November 5th. A half marathon is 13.1 miles, doing four in such quick succession is a very daunting undertaking. I’ll be his support crew, waiting at the finish line, and training with him some.

We’re also doing this to raise money to support AIDS orphans in India at the Heaven’s Gate orphanages. In that country, so many children are cast out to die in the streets alone and abandoned. The Heaven’s Gate orphanages care for them and provide food, shelter, medicine, and a loving home and family environment.

Run 4 Heaven’s Gate is a great opportunity to join hands and send God’s love across to the world to children who will never experience it any other way. We can help give them hope for future.

Your prayers are appreciated. This is Adam’s second time running it and it is a big physical challenge for all involved. Please keep us and Adam’s fellow runners in your prayers as we make this endeavor. If you would like to sponsor Adam, you can make a pledge at the Run 4 Heaven’s Gate website.

Image belongs to Calvary Chapel Boise.

Image belongs to Calvary Chapel Boise.

[tweetthis]Let’s take care of the least of these and support AIDS orphans in India through #SendHopeNow ![/tweetthis]