Sunday, February 28, 2010


If you want a book to read, and you don't mind the fact that you'll be challenged and even changed by it, then you may want to try reading "Scared" by Tom C. Davis. It's not easy to read... because although it's technically a fictional novel... it's true in almost every sense of the word. In fact, it's based on true life events in the life of a little girl that the author met.

Horrific things happen in our world everyday... we just don't always know about them. So, the story of a young orphaned girl in Africa... of her loss, her starvation, her rape, her healing, her joy, her God... might just shock you. But, don't you think we need to be shocked once in a while?

I read it only days after our incredibly discouraging news (previous post). I can honestly say that I was doing great until I read this book. God has given such peace about all this stuff. BUT, reading this book made me so aware that this world is full of evil, and suffering, and greed... (and yet hope and goodness too). I saw Liberia in this book. I saw its tragedies, its hundreds of thousands of massacred people during the civil war, its parent-less children starving and without clothes, death becoming normal and everyday. I saw Haiti in this book, with its death and disaster, starvation, orphans, and the big ugly NGOs. And yet it wasn't about Liberia or war or Haiti or earthquakes. There are so many tragic stories to tell.

I was so heavy after reading this book. OK- try to believe me when I say that this book was not depressing to me... it just broke my heart a little more for the people that Jesus loves so fiercely on the other side of the world. It's OK though, I want to be broken for them. I want to care. But man, that heaviness was intense. All I could think about was how shallow and greedy we are as a country. How all of our media tells is we need the "perfect" figure, and the whitest teeth, and the best portfolio, and the most stunning car... that those are the important things. And we believe them. Sick.

We're so blind. The enemy has made us impotent with greed and vanity and pride. There are millions upon millions of people in this world with nothing. Literally, nothing. And we are too self-absorbed to care.

I don't want top be comfortable here anymore. This place is not my home, and it is so messed up that I should most definitely NOT be comfortable here. Sadly though, I am. I like my warm and peaceful home. I like getting highlights in my hair from my friend. I like to buy things other than rice at the grocery store. I like books... shelves and shelves of them. I like my life, and I like it to be easy. It's nice. And you know what? I'm thankful for it. I know that I am blessed beyond belief to live as I do. I am not to be ashamed that God has given me much. But I should be, if I have a tightly-curled fist, and cannot open it and give freely and liberally to those in need.

He has given me a rich abundance. I need to know that if I were there... seeing that 13 month old that weighs 5 pounds (, I would ACT. I would do whatever I could to save him. I need to know that if I were there... seeing entire villages full of people dying of AIDS, that I would hold their hands and take care of the children they leave behind.

I need to know that I could be courageous and strong, giving every last penny I had and every last tear I knew how to cry, if it meant I could help them. But you know what I wanted to do after 2 days of extreme burden for these situations? I wanted to escape and go get a mocha. I wanted to take a vacation to some hot place where I could get away and pretend it doesn't exist. I wanted to forget. It's so hard to carry that load! It's so hard to care when it seems nothing ever changes, and when corruption and power and greed reign. It's so hard to live in freedom when that heaviness seems more than I know how to take. And I'm not even facing it eye-to-eye!

Anyway, I want to be ready to act and give and go wherever the Lord leads. I guess I just wanted to process some of this, and challenge you to process it with me. The heaviness has lifted in the last several days... I am thankful. But I don't want to forget. Reality is scary and heavy and evil at times. But if I pretend that it isn't real, that doesn't make it so. My difficulty is being here, and living to the fullest where God has me, while at the same time, not being like the world. I don't want to judge others for not feeling like I do, or for being naive or ignorant of these things (because I have been for most of my life!), and yet I do feel the desire to wake them up! Certainly, Jesus wants us awake to the suffering of his people, be they in Africa, China, or right in our neighborhoods. Jesus in us is their hope and their light, and we need hearts that are willing and eager to love and serve them.

My struggle: How do I live here and enjoy the life God has given me... and still remain passionate about things I don't see everyday, things that cause me heartache and anguish, without shutting down? I want the Lord to show me.

I think you can read Scared for free here:, otherwise, it's at the library.

Other challenging reads by Tom. C Davis:

Fields of the Fatherless
Red Letters: Living a Faith that Bleeds

Monday, February 22, 2010

"I Will Always Have Hope..."

Just after beginning to hear some very encouraging news regarding Liberia's desire and actions to soon lift the moratorium on adoptions, we have a had another set-back, a serious one.

A situation took place a week or so ago involving an adoptive family of Liberian children that was inconceivable. It is so serious that the decision-makers in Liberia have once again stopped all progress, even in the few cases they were just beginning to process. This situation is all over their media, and is significantly affecting whatever comes next.

I don't even know how to write this, it's so terrible. A family in California were accused of beating their 7 year old adopted daughter to death, and her sister (also adopted) was beaten and ended up in the hospital. I don't know all the details, and the media can be so one-sided, that I don't trust that source for facts either, but it is apparent that this is tragic and wrong on every possible level. The eight other children have been moved into other homes, and the parents are now charged with murder and torture.

We know that this plays into the fears that we have fought so hard to dispel in Liberia... and it is heartbreaking. It is especially difficult because we felt so close to being able to move forward, and now, we are again in the position of having no idea what will happen with adoptions. One family, and their actions, could have a massive effect on adoptions in Liberia, and could be used to effect them negatively elsewhere also. The timing of it all is incredible. It's frustrating and maddening, and can only be the enemy at work.

I cried and cried after we found out about it as we were praying for the situation and how Liberia would handle it. It had been a while since my last good sob, and sometimes it is a release that is much needed. For some reason, at a certain point I remember watching tears fall to my lap, and make dark little spots on my jeans. The thought just came to me that God counts each tear... each one. He knows my heart, he knows this situation, and he knows the future.

God is not surprised or taken aback. He is steady and true and will guide us gently through whatever comes next. He always has. It's been heavy on us, but we are finding that the perseverance God has insisted we learn in the last two and a half years has taught us to hang on tight to Him, and so we are not hopeless.

I feel like our adoption journey is a saga... this thing just never ends, does it? But Kelvin and Hawa are safe and cared for in the meanwhile, and so I am incredibly thankful that during this long wait, they are not in the orphanage, but with a family.

I read this in Psalms this morning, and it lifts my spirits to know that I really do believe it. I don't just want to believe it, I actually do.
"But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure. " Ps. 71:14-15

God's brought this weak and selfish person to a place where I can really say those verses and mean them. He is good. You can trust Him.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Finally... someone says it like it is...

Disclaimer: I'm annoyed right now, and when I'm annoyed, I get intense. So- if you're not in the mood for that, feel free to pass on this post.

So- the work of several LARGE non-government agencies to STOP international adoptions because they think it in the best interests of the child to stay in their country of birth is WORKING. They have shut down country after country for adoption and now, those children that could have been in loving families will grow up (GROW UP TO ADULTHOOD! That is a LONG time) in orphanages - where life is surely so much nicer. So- thank you very much UNICEF... a job well done. Mission accomplished.

Sorry for the thick sarcasm. Not usually my thing, but I am SICK of this.

It was/is happening is Liberia. Thankfully, it looks as if Liberian culture counters the notion that children are meant to live in masses and collectives. They have the feeling that it just might be better for children to know the love and security of a family of their own, if given the chance. They are saying (just very recently) that they would prefer adoptions to continue when the laws are redone. God has allowed them to see truth in this area enough to NOT buy into the NGO's propaganda (sorry- but that's what I believe it is) for the time being. But believe me, the pull is strong... money and the power have some serious sway.

Anderson Cooper was reporting from Haiti recently, and well...
this blog post says it so well that you just have to read it to understand why I am so thankful that someone just says it like it is... you know, like the truth...

I am not eloquent... I don't know all the ins and outs of political issues... but my heart knows THIS... children deserve a family. They deserve a mama and a daddy. Yes, it is absolutely ideal for children to be raised and cared for and loved in their country of origin. Of course it is! And adoption is not the answer for every child who is orphaned... it can't be. But- how is it better that these 143 million little orphaned lives continue in abject poverty, institutions, disease, or death when we could do something else for them? How is that BETTER?
God have mercy.

Friday, February 12, 2010

My Girl...

Look at my beauty. My 10 year old shining-from-the-inside-out beauty. My joy and my gift. (The pictures are from this
summer... but they are some of my faves of her...)

And so, to honor her first sweet 10 years,
some older pictures to smile at...
Man, what an honor to be her Mama. :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Update on Adoptions

A little news on adoptions in Liberia this week. A glimmer of hope.
I'm quoting Angel's blog because I can't say it any more clearly than she did...

"This week adoption service providers have been getting more confirmation that the government of Liberia does want to proceed with adoptions as soon as a new adoption law has been passed. The difficulty at this point is that a new policy has been proposed in the Child Act, but the Senate is conflicted about the Child Act for many reasons that have nothing to do with adoptions. The Child Act was written by international partners who did not take into account Liberian culture when writing the act. Therefore, much of it isn't applicable or goes against Liberian culture.
Adoption service providers pointed this out a year ago and suggested a bill be written that specifically addresses adoptions. This idea is finally gaining momentum. After strategizing with our Liberian adoption director this week and talking to other adoption directors, we have decided that the best plan of action is to lobby the Senate to pass an adoption bill if the Child Act does not pass quickly.
I realize this is short notice, but if you are in the process of adopting from Liberia, the best way you can help right now is to send a letter to CAS signed by you for our Liberian adoption director to take back with her to Liberia imploring the Senate to pass an adoption bill quickly so your child(ren) can come home. Please include a photo of your family as well as a photo of your child(ren). Please send six copies of all of this to be distributed to the President, the Central Adoption Authority and the Senate committee. Letters need to be at the CAS office by Thursday (February 11, 2010) in order for our director to take them back to Liberia with her. We believe it is important for her to take back signed copies with photos, which is why we need you to do this quickly. (CAS address: Christian Adoption Services, Attn: Angel Rutledge, 624 Matthews Mint Hill Rd, Suite 134, Matthews, NC 28105)
Possible topics to address in the letter would be: when you were matched with your child, the negative impact it could have on your child to wait this long to be united with you, your motivation for bringing your child home, your desire for the Senate to pass a new adoption bill immediately, your desire for the Central Adoption Authority to accreditate agencies and begin processing adoptions as soon as a new law is in place, reiterating your preparedness for bringing your child home, the negative message it sends to international partners about Liberia's concern for her children as this issue remains unresolved, and your thankfulness for those in leadership who will show their commitment to Liberia's neediest children by passing this legislation immediately.In addition to your letters, adoption service providers will submit a letter, which I will post as soon as it is written and approved by other service providers. "

We wrote the letters, as many families have, and Georgia will bring them to Liberia herself when she goes home in several days.

Our Conversation with Georgia!

Georgia, Kelvin and Hawa's foster mother (and the Adoption Coordinator for our agency in the Liberian side of things) traveled to the US for the first time last week to escort a Liberian child home to their adoptive family. This child's adoption was finalized before the adoption halt, but just now got to travel home... over one year later. So- God is moving, and those children who were so close to being with their families are finally being processed out of Liberia. Woo-Hoo! (The majority of us are not included in this... just those children whose adoptions were already final.)

Back to Georgia...
We got the chance to talk with her last night over the phone! I had been excited all week as our phone date approached to ask her about the children. I found it hard to sleep some nights! The kids live in her home and she knows them better than anyone else, besides her Aunt who takes care of the kids while Georgia works during the day. We have so little information about Kelvin and Hawa, especially regarding their everyday lives, so it was incredibly special to get to hear about them from her!

Georgia speaks English beautifully, but even so, we struggled to understand all of what she said. So- Angel interpreted for us occasionally. The first thing we asked her was how her visit to America had been so far. She said it had been great, but that she was "freezing!!" :) And she's in North Carolina! Coming from 90 degree days (year-round), you can understand! Also something to note; culturally, Liberians do not feel the need to explain things in detail, and do not typically express emotion. Life is survival, not thinking about how you "feel" about it all. We were delighted when Georgia didn't seem to fit this description! She was joyful and happy to talk to us, and tried to give us some details, although those were difficult for us to understand.

OK, OK... on to the kids!
Right away, she made sure to tell us that the children say they love us. :)
Both Kelvin and Hawa are healthy and well. No concerns there. We asked if Hawa had gained any weight or grown since she'd been in Georgia's care. (You may remember that we learned she was quite small for her age, and we assume this was due in large part to living in poverty and then in the orphanage during her young life.) Georgia said that people have commented that Hawa appears to have grown, and she believes that Hawa is getting healthier in her development.
We asked her to tell us about the children; what they are like, what they spend their time doing, etc.
She mentioned that Kelvin LOVES to play futbol (soccer) with his friends. He plays on a children's team with several of the boys who live in Georgia's home. (2 boys who are both named Prince from the orphanage who are also awaiting adoption, and Georgia's 10 year old son whom she said is Kelvin's best friend - they refer to one another as "brother".) She didn't give us many details about his personality, but we have gathered from others who have met him that he is quiet and smiley.
Hawa loves to sing and dance and seems happy and joyful. You can tell Georgia is "sweet" on her. :) She mentioned that they have nightly devotions and she jokingly said that Hawa will "lead" devotions, I assume because of her love of singing and such.

Both kids love to get our monthly e-mails (and occasional envelopes) and Georgia said that they show all their friends the letters and pictures and things we send. When asked where they got it, they reply that it is from their Mom and Dad in America. They seem very happy and glad to know they will be with us one day. When Georgia was getting ready to come to the states a few weeks ago, she said that Hawa told her to put her in the bag so that she could go be with her family. :) (That was the best!)

Georgia brought school papers with her to send to us once she got to the states, so we should be getting those soon. It sounds like both kids are doing well in school. Hawa is in more of a very young children's program, more like daycare or playschool by the sound of it. She loves it though, and brings the things we have sent to use with the other children. They both have some good friendships both in school and in Georgia's home. (There are 10 children living there right now - 4 foster children awaiting adoption, 4 biological children, 1 niece, and 1 baby that was left on her doorstep recently.)

We were glad to know of a few challenges that Georgia is working through with the kids as well, both so that we can prepare ourselves for specific things and also so that we can pray very purposefully for them. I'll just share one that is very common among children who have lived in orphanages. Both children steal food. It is something that she has worked on with them since this summer when they came to live with her, and it is getting better. When in the orphanage, children take what they can get, when they can get it, as a matter of survival. Children who get the food stay alive and stronger than the others. If you are young, you have to learn very quickly to get what you need, so that the older children do not take advantage of the younger. Both Kelvin and Hawa were some of the youngest in the orphanage, and coped by whatever means possible... and this was in a good orphanage run by godly people, but it' still an orphanage. I don't know if they really had the chance to take food from others there since they were youngest and weakest, but they certainly learned how important it was to get what you need at all costs. Now that they are in a safe place with food available to them and no longer desperate for it, they still fear that they will not get enough. So, they take what they can find and store it away for when they may not get enough. We knew this would most likely be an issue when they got home... and so we will pray for them to feel safe, and that God would give them the ability to trust that their needs will be taken care of, so that they can stop feeling the need to steal. Georgia calls Kelvin "the Pastor" (not entirely sure why... he wants to be one? He loves God? ) and so she tells him, "Pastors do not steal."

When we asked Georgia how we could best be praying for the children and for her, she asked us to pray for the government, so that they would lift the hold on adoptions. She says it is hard on the children who are waiting... not because they are pining away for their families, but much more so because Liberia is a dangerous place to be a child. Malaria is a very serious threat to them all, and medical care is lacking. She wants these kids to be able to be safe and well.

We have been considering going to Liberia with the missions trip that Angel is organizing. We asked Georgia if she thought that would be too hard for the kids. With Angel's help to interpret, we understand that the kids want very much to be with us, but that they have a very different concept of time than we do. When they are told that something will happen (like being adopted, and moving to America), they believe it, but have no concept of when. They are content... Kelvin and Hawa have never had a life this good before. Georgia's home is a haven to them, and so while they talk about us and love us, they are happy where they are for the time being. She thought that they could understand that we would be only visiting, if we do end up able to go on the trip. She thought it would be wonderful for us to go to Liberia for other reasons as well. The more faces of adoptive families that Liberians can see, the less they will fear child trafficking is our intent. She thought it would be good to try to be involved in some media events and meetings with officials for raising awareness about adoption.

That was the meat of the conversation with her! So- we were obviously SO excited to hear more about the children... it may not be the nitty gritty heart stuff that I will crave until I know them deeply myself, but it is enough for now. They are safe. They are with someone who loves them and loves God. They are cared for. They have hope. Whew... it is so great for my heart to know these things!

The Latest Pictures

The kids on their first day of school (back in September), all decked out in their uniforms.

Kelvin and Hawa with their gifts from us (sent with a medical missions' worker) at the end of January... Hawa seemed to like her little doll, and the play necklace and bracelet we sent! And Kelvin is just enjoying his lollipop!

Hawa and her package. Mmm... so sweet.
Each child got one 9x12 manila envelope stuffed as full as possible of fun things! The next envelope we get to send to them (via Georgia traveling back from the US this week) is full to bursting with school supplies, fun art things to share with the other children, and shirts for each.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Happy Things #1-10

So, I've decided to post something happy. Something wonderful and good. Something joyous and glad. Gasp... It's been a while since I've been "un-heavy" and without cause for urgency on this blog and I think we all need a change of pace. (That is, me and the 2 people who read my blogs even when I don't send an e-mail asking you to pray!!... thanks Mom.) :)

Happy thing #1: When I went in to wake up my boy this morning, his first reaction was to put his warm-from-sleep hand on my arm, and to cuddle into me. How amazing is that? My 8 year old still loves to show affection. I'm planning to make sure that this continues well into adulthood.

Happy thing #2: Anika turns double digits tomorrow. I'm so happy for her. She is floating around the house, intensely happy to be getting older (when was the last time YOU did that?) And the best part is, she's amazing. She's 100% sweet-loveable-caring-compassionate-sensitive-beautiful-kind-joyful-loyal-huggable-light-up-your-life-kind-of-amazing.

Happy thing #3: We get to talk to Kelvin and Hawa's foster mother on the phone next week because she is in the states, in N. Carolina, for a short time. We can ask her questions about what the kids are like, their health, and their hearts! I'm so excited that I lay in bed, unable to sleep, thinking about what I will ask her.

Happy thing #4: We are having turkey soup tonight. I greatly fear it will not even compare to my mother-in-law's scrumptious turkey soup (which I am trying hard to duplicate), but I have to try. This is how good it is... when offered evening snack choices at her home, I opted for a bowl of turkey soup... over a sugary snack. Yeah, it's that good. Problem: We had hers less than two weeks ago, and we will all have it in our fresh memories, so if mine is really that different, it will seem just terrible!
Sidenote: I always feel so domestic when I boil a bird carcass to make soup.

Happy thing #5: Jason's almost home. He programmed my phone to say "Stud Hubby" every time he calls. It used to be "Babealicious". A little corny? Maybe. But true. :)

Happy thing #6: Lindt's Raspberry-Filled Chocolate Bar. 'Nuff said.

Happy thing #7: That I have a "Happy thing #6 in the house" (Again, thanks Mom.)

Happy thing #8: I'm gonna read my book tonight and snuggle in the warmth of a blanket in front of a blazing fire as it pops and sizzles, and that happens to be one of my favorite things to do. Gene Stratton Porter... here I come.

Happy thing #9: That LOST has finally started up again. Yes, I'm a total "Lostie" and that's the only thing on TV that I watch... so I will be sad when this final season is over. Where will the mystery come from in life after that? My latest thoery? Sayid is now Jacob.

Happy thing #10: Joe Purdy's album, "Julie Blue." Love it. And you know how I found it?? I fell in love with the song "Wash Away", which Hurley is listening to on the beach in the first season. Yes, the Hurley on LOST. :) See, the show is a treasure.

And that concludes my "Happy Things List." I'll resume my passionate adoption thoughts when I have the energy for it. They haven't gone away... I'm just holding them at bay so people don't decide they hate my intensity and wash their hands of me. :)