Sunday, November 2, 2014

On This Orphan Sunday...

On this Orphan Sunday, I thought I would share with you something that I shared with my church family earlier this year.  We have a series of stories written by members of our church describing how the Lord has worked to change our lives for the better.  Mine just happened to be about finding my purpose...  My faith...  My life...  My son...

Numb. Devastated. Lost.  For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a mom.  It turned out God had a different plan for me when I had a hysterectomy at the age of thirty due to complications with severe endometriosis.  Still single, with no biological children, I spent the next few years praying and trying to figure out God’s plan for me.  I knew I was meant to be a mother.  I just had no idea how it was going to happen.
In the fall of 2008, I decided to take a leap of faith and become a foster parent.  I had always shied away from fostering because of the usual fears related to having to say goodbye to children that I loved, but as time went on I finally began to trust that God wouldn’t have planted this seed in my heart only to leave me hurting and devastated.  So I dove headfirst into the unpredictable world of foster care, and allowed myself to love my kids with my whole heart despite the inevitable hurt.
While I had always been a believer, that faith was shattered one March afternoon as I stood in a courtroom and learned that the little boy who I had loved as my own for the past year was never coming home.  I had expected pain and tears when my children left my home, but nothing could have prepared me for the all-consuming heartache and flood of emotions that encompassed me in the days and weeks after I lost my little boy.  I was numb.  My heart had a gaping hole that physically ached.  My arms were empty where my little boy should have been.  I was furious that God would allow me to grieve so deeply when He was supposed to be protecting my heart!  I knew that I would never survive another goodbye, so I gave up my foster care license and tried to move on.
I'm not sure if I can say that I've ever fully felt God's presence until a few months after I lost my little boy.  It began slowly.  I would see something that reminded me of my baby and would smile rather than cry.  I would look at the empty crib and imagine another little one who needed me sleeping in it.  As time went on, I began to feel the change within me, and I knew that could only be because of His promise to heal the hurt.  I felt a stronger sense of peace, a renewed purpose, and a faith that I had always HOPED to have, but never really knew that I could find. 
Fulfilled. Hopeful. Blessed.  My life is nothing like I thought it would be when I was younger.  I am most definitely a mom, but my children have come to me in ways I never could have imagined.  Then one afternoon in December of 2012, a two-month-old baby boy was placed in my arms and looked up at me with his “old soul” eyes like he knew something that I didn’t.  That little boy, my "Bug", was dedicated to the Lord here at this amazing church home one year later, and will soon be my first legal forever child as his adoption is finalized next month.
God has healed my heart time and time again over the past five years, and has blessed me beyond what I had ever hoped or thought possible.
I am Tammy (aka. Mimi) and I am CHANGED.

On this Orphan Sunday, and the second day of National Adoption Month, I encourage you to share with someone how your life has been touched by adoption.

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Saturday, November 1, 2014

National Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Month, so I thought I would make an attempt to do something every day to celebrate my family, to acknowledge Bug's birth family and heritage, and to raise awareness of the great need for loving homes for the thousands of children waiting for their "forevers."  In 2013, nearly 102,000 children were available for adoption through the foster care system.  One quarter of those children aged out of care without ever finding a forever family.

Over the next thirty days, I would love to encourage all of you to share how adoption has touched your lives with your family, friends, co-workers, church families, etc.  If you have been blessed through adoption, spend time with your children celebrating the things that make them so very special.  Thank people who have helped you along your adoption journeys or encourage a waiting family.  Over the course of the next thirty days, I hope to do the following things (in no particular order), and I hope you will participate as well!

1.  Share information about National Adoption Month on your blog and post your personal list of ways to acknowledge it throughout the month (feel free to use this one if you need ideas!).

2.  Share the story of your adoption journey on your blog or with your place of worship if you have one.  (November 2nd is Orphan Sunday and a perfect opportunity to ask your church family to become involved.)

3.  Send a thank you note to a caseworker, judge, agency, attorney, CASA volunteer, etc. who made a difference in your child(ren)'s case.

4.  Read an adoption-themed book with your child.  Share a list of your favorite adoption-themed books for children on your blog or FB page.

5.  Encourage a family you know who are considering adoption.

6.  Put an adoption themed bumper sticker or decal on your car.

7.  Surprise an adoptive family you know with a goody basket, a meal, free babysitting, a gift card, etc.

8.   Make a handmade craft with your child to use as gifts for their birth family or other important people.

9.  Send up a special prayer for the children still waiting for their forever families.  Pray for the children who have aged out of the foster care system and have no support system to fall back on.  Pray for the families who are considering taking a leap of faith and saying "yes" to these kids.  If you have a place of worship, submit a formal prayer request and ask your church family to pray for these children as well.

10.  Share your favorite adoption blogs, websites, magazines, etc. on your blog or FB page.

11.  Watch home movies and look at photos as a family.  Talk about their stories.  Tell them again how blessed you are to be their parent.

12.  Share a story about a waiting child, sibling group, or family on your blog or FB page.  Search or other photo listing and share one that touches you.  You never know if someone you share with might be that child's forever.

13.  Take a key player in your child's adoption to lunch or give them a call just to say hi and thank you.

14.  Look for events in your area celebrating National Adoption Month, Orphan Sunday, or National Adoption Day and make plans to attend one.

15.  Celebrate your child(ren)'s heritage with a fun meal, art project, etc.

16.  Volunteer with an agency, at an event, orphanage, or other adoption-focused organization.

17.  Connect with a child aging out of the system.  Offer encouragement, mentor them, be a safe place they can come to when they need it.

18.  Read a new "grown-up" book with a focus on adoption.  Share your favorite adoption-themed books on your blog or FB page.

19.  Commit to sponsor a child, family, agency, or adoption-focused organization over the next year.

20.  Send a care package to a group home, orphanage, or your local CPS office.

21.  Have a family movie night.  Pop popcorn, snuggle under blankets in your pajamas, and watch an adoption-themed movie with your kids.

22.  Write a letter to your child's birthparent(s).  It could be mailed.  It could be for your eyes only.  Just write the letter.

23.  Buy a t-shirt or piece of jewelry or other item that expresses your love of adoption.  Heck!  Get a tattoo!  (I plan to! :-)

24.  Research adoption-friendly companies and visit one.  Write them a letter thanking them for their support and for everything that they do to help build and support adoptive families.

25.  Send a card to a new adoptive family.

26.  Get a subscription to an adoption magazine or join an adoption association.

27.  Focus on your family on Thanksgiving Day.  Take turns giving thanks before your meal.  Tell your children again how blessed you are to be their parent.

28.  Find an online support group and listen to others' stories.  Do you have an adult friend whose life was touched by adoption in some way, but have never really heard their story?  Ask them about it.  You never know what you will learn from others until you ask.

29.  Create a new family tradition that specifically celebrates your family.  Take a family photo in the exact same spot every year.  Have the kids draw a family picture to frame and display for the year.

30.  Write a letter to your child(ren).

I hope you will all join me in raising awareness over the course of the next month as we celebrate family and give thanks for what we have.  Adoption touches so many lives in so many ways.  Wouldn't it be amazing to play a small part in giving one more child their "forever?"

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