Saturday, February 11, 2012


Pathways is a 2-day training that Gladney requires parents to take part in prior to placement of children in the home.  One might consider this training unnecessary, but it proved to be very valuable.  We attended this training at the beginning of January, in Fort Worth, Texas.  There were about 16 couples in attendance, each adopting from various places.  There were several couples adopting through the state of Texas, one of those couples (in their 60s) were adopting 5 siblings ranging from toddler to teenager!  Quite the inspiration, huh?  Other couples were adopting from China, Russia, and of course Colombia.  We were able to get to know most everyone, which was an encouragement to us.  It's always nice to talk with someone who is walking (or has already walked) the same path you're walking.

We were also able to meet our caseworkers, who have been at our side since October, as well as other Gladney staff.  Being able to finally put a face with all of the names and voices we've been hearing made the process seem more real.  I feel as though it gave us a boost of confidence in our Gladney team and helped us feel more comfortable.  Whether you realize it or not, adoption can feel like (for lack of a better word) an invasion of your life.  I guess now it just feels more like our friends are invading our lives! Ha!

These 2 days felt like a wild ride on an emotional roller coaster.  The subjects talked about ranged from wonderfully touching to incredibly painful.  At times our excitement for our future was at it's peak and other times we felt the intense gravity of the reality of adoption, and what it really looks like.  I would say the message (as a whole) was that we often get caught up in a fairy tale.  We fashion adoption (and the meeting of our children) as a perfectly blissful experience, when in reality NOTHING in our lives mirrors anything remotely close to a fairy tale.  So why do we imagine adoption to be this way?  The truth is, these children are in orphanages for a reason.  They've either lost one, or both, of their parents, or they've been given up as a result of extreme poverty, or they've been removed from a home of neglect and/or abuse.  All of these circumstances are reasons for intense grief, sadness, anger, frustration, fear, and mistrust, among many other unpleasant emotions.  The point being that these children will come with a past, and it is wrong of us to expect these children to brush off that past and embrace the new/ "better" life we believe we're giving them.  To put it bluntly, adoption ain't always pretty.  Adoption is a commitment.  It's a commitment to love and embrace these children AND their past.  It's a resolve to do whatever it takes to help them overcome their fear, anger, and grief.  It's a surrender of your life for theirs.  Even as I write this, my eyes are filled with tears.  What a beautiful image of what Christ has done for us!  What Christ accomplished on the cross has never been so real to me.  God has used the adoption of these children to open my eyes to the beauty and wonder of my own adoption into His family! Have you stopped to consider how marvelous it is that, as a believer, you are now a CHILD of the ALMIGHTY GOD? What an unlovely past we had, yet God, in HIS VAST MERCY, clothed us in the raiment of HIS DEAR SON, JESUS, and remembered our sin NO MORE!!! HOW CAN THIS BE??? What a GLORIOUS love that has been poured out on us. I am no longer what I was. I don't bear the shame and guilt of my past. I am free from that bondage and now bear the name of JESUS! I AM IN THE HOUSEHOLD OF THE KING! So, how could I EVER forsake these children because of their unlovely past? I know all too well what it feels like to be cast out. The difference is that Christ took me in, and He surrendered His life for mine. So, I will be the one who stands in the stead of these little ones.  I will say, whatever it looks like, however long it takes, I will love you through this pain and I will depend upon my FATHER for strength to accomplish it.  We would also ask all of you to pray. Begin to pray for these children, that God would keep them from further harm, and that He would prepare them to be a part of our family. Pray that it would not be many days until they know the perfect love of THE FATHER and the joy of His salvation. Pray for us, that God would make us wise, and that He would equip us to parent these children.

To close, I'd like to share a story that was shared with us at Pathways. It speaks of the persevering love of a mother. (If you haven't already, go and retrieve the tissues!) The story is about a young girl, I'll refer to her as Hope for the sake of privacy. Hope and her two younger brothers lived in Ethiopia. Before being placed in a orphanage, they endured physical abuse from family members as well as others in the community. Hope and her brothers were often beaten with metal pipes and other blunt objects as a means of "discipline." They were removed from their childhood home and placed in orphanages. Hope went to an all girls orphanage and the two younger boys went to a different orphanage for boys. Years went by, but all three children were finally adopted by a family from the United States. By this time Hope was in her early teen years (11 or 12) and very violent. It wasn't until Hope arrived in the U.S. that they discovered she was legally blind. This partially explained why she fought everyone she came in contact with, because she couldn't determine if they were friend or foe. Hope became so violent that her brothers were afraid of her. The family reached a breaking point when she began hurting not only her biological brothers, but other members of her adopted family as well. Eventually Hope was removed from the home, but her brothers remained with the adopted family. Another family stepped forward and agreed to adopt Hope, they were committed to helping this young girl, now 13 years old. Despite their efforts, the violence continued. She became so violent that this new family sought help. They didn't want her to leave permanently, but they knew she needed more help than they could give her. Hope was taken to a type of rehabilitation program, where she worked one-on-one with a therapist. Her adopted mother would call her every day to tell her these words "you are precious and you are my daughter." Every day Hope would hang up on her. Many days Hope would cuss her mother out before she hung up, but her mother continued to call her every day telling her "you are precious and you are my daughter." It was the last day of the program and her mother called her once more to say "you are precious and you are my daughter," this time Hope paused, and then hung up. It was time for her to leave, though Hope was unsure of where she would be going. She began to cry and when asked why she was crying, she said "I want to go home." She was then asked, "where is home?" and Hope replied "where my mother is." Hope returned to her family and remains with them to this day. We were told that they still have their struggles, but Hope continues to overcome her past and embrace her new family. Hope's story is just that, a story of hope. It reminds me to trust God for His sustaining strength and to lovingly pursue my children, just as He pursued me.

I will not take my love away
When praises cease and seasons change
While the whole world turns the other way
I will not take my love away
I will not leave you all alone
When striving leads you far from home
And there's no yield for what you've sown
I will not leave you all alone
I will give you what you need
In plenty or in poverty
Forever, always, look to me
And I will give you what you need
-Matt Wertz

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