screaming into the wind…

We can no longer exist in this state of soft and sleepy Christian denial, we must move forwards as the army of Christ and sacrifice everything we have for the cause of those who are lost. We want to stand confidently before God, look him in the face and say that we did all we possibly could to lead these small ones to Him.

 

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I’ll be straight up honest with you. In the church, I feel like I’m screaming into the wind, banging my head against a wall, yelling underwater…my voice is breaking.

And I keep screaming, even through the funny, uncomfortable looks or the rolled eyes or the “it’s not what God is calling us to do” statements…because there’s too much at stake here to simply let my voice take a permanent vacation.

You see, it’s not that there is an actual “no” being said. You can’t even get to the point where people actually make a yes or no decision. What always get me is the vast, unending silence and it relentlessly presses down upon my soul. It’s the total lack of interest, lack of questions, it’s the uncomfortable look people get when I start talking about the rows of cribs, the little faces, and how many children there are who wait.

It’s the endless excuses and statements of “Well, you can’t guilt people into adopting,” and “Adoption isn’t for everyone,” and “We just aren’t called to this.” And, honestly, I somewhat agree with every statement here…

You CAN’T guilt people into adopting, but you CAN challenge them to at least be honestly, wholeheartedly open to praying about it and being willing to accept the scary answer. Adoption ISN’T for everyone, I agree…but orphan care in some way, shape, or form IS. “We aren’t called to this” is the most frustrating one…because you ARE called, you ARE equipped, you ARE strong in the Lord and the power of His might.

Now, I know that people look at adoptive families and think we are all a little crazy. And we are, in all the good ways. We are CRAZY about getting children into homes…we are CRAZY about lost souls for Christ…we are CRAZY about having completely open eyes to the reality of the crisis in this world…sometimes, we are just plain crazy from lack of sleep. 🙂

When you get to the bottom of the problem, it’s an idol of convenience and comfort that we, as American Christians, must battle. Never before in all of history have American believers been so rich, so comfortable, so healthy, so free, so crowded around a man made wealth/health/prosperity theology…and it weakens us greatly. For while we think we are so strong with our coffee/Bible instagram photos and our trendy worship services, these children are going to hell in a hand basket and we are fully, completely, undeniably responsible for our utter lack of interest in them.

I AM responsible. I fully know that ONE DAY, I, Cady Beth Driver, will stand before God and give an account for my life. For the time I have spent, the resources I have spent, the talents I have spent….and I am guilty in so many ways of unrelenting selfishness. I AM so spoiled, I fully admit that. I FIGHT these urges to just continue my life, that I’ve done enough, I’ve adopted one special needs child and isn’t that enough?

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Well?

I don’t know….I’m not calling for legalism, but, I beg of you, please stop making us shout into the wind. I’m imploring  you, as a church body, to HEAR our hearts, ask the hard questions, fully open your eyes to the reality of what is all around you. Just because you cannot see it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

Orphans are a hard and ugly reality.

It’s a slap-you-in-the face reality. We can no longer exist in this state of soft and sleepy Christian denial, we must move forwards as the army of Christ and sacrifice everything we have for the cause of those who are lost. We want to stand confidently before God, look him in the face and say that we did all we possibly could to lead these small ones to Him.

I KNOW that there are parents out there who adopt terminally ill children. I know that when they walk through those pearly gates, that that child will be flying into their arms. I know that there are parents who walk incredibly hard roads for the sake of these small souls for eternity, but what if we all did it?

What if every church service had the hiss of oxygen machines, the humming of special needs kids, the adorable off-key singing of children with Down syndrome?

What if we had to turn up the pastor’s voice just to hear him speak over the din of welcoming the least of these into our church bodies with open arms?

What if?

Why must we shout into the wind? Why???

Why must we beg and plead, why can’t we all be this giant crowd of believers running to the helpless?

I don’t have all the answers and yes, I AM fully crazy for this cause. Because I don’t want to close my eyes and pretend like these children do not exist or that they’re not worth every piece of paperwork, every penny, ever sleepless night, every mama’s broken heart…they are WORTH IT.

My heart’s cry is this…Ask questions of adoptive parents…ask them how many children are in their child’s orphanage. Ask them what you can do to help, how you can be involved, how can you pray, how can you support.

Asking is the first step in a journey of illumination and let me tell you, you’ll never want to go back to the time when you didn’t know the answers.

This will break you in all the right ways. All the God ways.

And you’ll join the crowd of adoptive families who are shouting to come and experience the good, the bad, the heartbreak, the triumphs that make up our topsy turvy worlds of adoption.

Come and shout with us. Join us and do hard things…

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it’ll destroy your life…

Don’t become a pastor! Wow. What are you thinking? I once knew a pastor who had a TON of people turn their backs on him, even though he was faithful in the ministry. His children rebelled, he had trouble paying his bills, it was a strain on his marriage. Really hard stuff! Eventually, his health declined from all the stress. Becoming a pastor is a bad idea, why would you do that to your family?

Said no one ever to a person who desires to become a pastor.

Don’t be a missionary! The potential for serious sickness in a foreign country is HUGE. Your kids could contract something or die from a treatable illness. The loneliness, the trials, the potential for persecution is SO much higher in other countries, plus, there’s, like, no Starbucks….how will you survive?

Said no one ever to a person who is called to missions.

Oooh, adoption or foster care….man, THOSE kids have issues. Not everyone is called to adopt, why do you have this passion? I once knew a family, who… (followed by some horror story) and it could ruin you. It’s expensive, difficult, and so heartbreaking.

Say many people all the time to those called to adopt.

Oh, amazing missionary that we all want to be like, in that you seem so much more spiritual because you sold all of your earthly goods and you live in a grass hut eating crickets AND not drinking Starbucks…please ENLIGHTEN us, how you do it? Tell us all your stories of hardship and sacrifice…we are all ears. And we sit and listen.

Oh, tired adoptive adoptive parents…..(awkward silence)  Sooooooo, what’s the weather like?

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Ugh, another adoption fundraiser…man, they just keep coming.

If they can’t afford to pay the fees, they shouldn’t be adopting.

That family hasn’t been to church in a LOOONG time after they came home from Africa with their child. (insert snort)

Well, it was THEIR choice! They brought this onto themselves.

We absolutely do NOT accept adopted, special needs children into our church school.

Adoption will ruin you, both mentally, physically and financially.

Adoption will ruin your biological kids, why would you do that to them?  You don’t want to saddle them with a special needs adult after you die, that’s not fair to them!

It’s a HUGE unknown. It’s scary, it’s hard, it’s…it’s…it’s….

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Why is it that adoption or foster care is the ONE ministry that people question and question HARD? Could it POSSIBLY be that it is the ONE area where, hands down, there will be a child who will be literally snatched from the gates of hell? Where a child who would have NEVER had the chance to hear about Jesus will NOW hear about Jesus.

What if adoption were pursued and held up in the church just like pastors, missionaries, famous Christian women bloggers, and performers?

This is NOT the case, and frankly, it NEEDS TO CHANGE.

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Adoption is HARD and GOOD…. SCARY and EXHILARATING.  It takes you to the bottom so you have nowhere else to look but up. It’s Peter in the boat, Jesus feeding the 5,000, Joseph waiting in prison. It’s Moses winning the war, Jacob wrestling with God, Joshua marching around the walls….it’s David conquering Goliath, Miriam weeping on His feet, Jochebed placing her baby in the river.

It’s terrifying courage scattered with tiny seeds of faith.

“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” Luke 9:24

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

Are these children your friends?

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Do you see the little, tiny legs? Is SHE your friend? Are you willing to lay down your life, your finances, you sanity (some days!), your time, your energy for her?

Is she a soul for eternity? What is she worth to you?

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What is HE worth to God? Well, to God, he is priceless.

And so he should be to us. ALL of us….without all of the caveats and warnings. Without all of the “scary” adoption stories, and trust me, I know that there are a LOT of hard stories out there. Hear them, pray, and move forwards.

And no, not everyone is called to adopt, although I struggle with this thought process….hear me out…because if that child was left on your doorstep in the middle of the night and there was nobody to pick her up and take her in, no social services to call, would you? Or would you leave her there on your concrete porch with your $69.99 flower door wreath hanging above her head.

Would you? Would I? What did the early Christians do?

Now note well those who hold heretical opinions about the grace of Jesus Christ that came to us; note how contrary they are to the mind of God. They have no concern for love, none for the widow, none for the orphan, none for the oppressed, none for the prisoner or the one released, none for the hungry or thirsty (Ignatius, Smyrnaeans 6.2, A.D. 110).

It is the way of persecutors of the good, of those who hate truth, love a lie, do not know the reward of righteousness, do not adhere to what is good or to righteous judgment, who ignore the widow and the orphan…have no mercy for the poor, do not work on behalf of the oppressed, are reckless with slander, do not know the one who made them, are murderers of children…who turn away from someone in need…utterly sinful (Epistle of Barnabas 20.2, c. A.D. 100–130)

Let the hard become good in your life. Let the uncertainty fade away, for faith is not made up of such things. There is no uncertainty with God. All He orchestrates is good, both in your life and the lives of others.

I’ll leave you with this.

“Consider it all you, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

 

As a church body, let’s travel this journey together. ASK the hard questions, DO hard things, PRAY long, BELIEVE God, HAVE faith.

Because this, THIS is too precious for even ONE to fall by the wayside.

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what if?

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What if mama’s stomachs were never supposed to be flat and hard…what if our softness was simply a continual visual wonder for the life that quietly grew within?

What if God designed us to be soft, because our arms and stomachs and laps so often cradle a little one for sleep, for comfort, for teaching….

What if the strength of our arms comes not from push ups and lifting weights, but from lifting littles high, catching them when they fall, carrying them through the rough places of life….

What if our hands aren’t meant to be soft and photo-finish smooth, but worn and calloused….each mark representing a dish washed, a child cleaned, a household fed, a tear wiped, a garden planted…

What if our faces were never meant to be flawless, but every worry and laugh line was a reflection of shared compassion, shouldered burdens, unexpected laughter….

What if we were never meant to be mannequins, endless slaves to the ever changing, demanding whims of fashion…but we are seen for the love we hold in our hearts…. the ideas and passions that change this world for the better.

What if our hair was never meant to be continuously coiffed but as silver streaks our temples, we welcome this gradual crowning of wisdom that only time can gift.

What if our feet were never meant to be tortured in shoes designed to draw the stares of men to our legs, but instead, they were shod with shoes that only helped us run faster to the weary, the waiting, the downtrodden…

What if we have it all wrong and we strive for things that will never bring us closer to God?

What if how we, as women, mothers, daughters, sisters, wives….what if how we are made is simply the best thing as we are……untouched, un-refined…that we don’t need the wearisome race of the unnatural……and we can joyfully rest in the undeniable gift of being a woman.

What if?

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accept the gift…

Rewriting the story of a child who has Down syndrome has indelibly etched its chapter on the soul. With fresh eyes, one sees the best and the worst of society…the least and the greatest…..the veil has been lifted and who we are as a people is illuminated through those we downwardly view through the pathetic lens of worldly “perfection”.

The flimsy jewel of intelligence, beauty, acceptability, and usefulness is smashed on the single altar of this…..the Giver’s unexpected gift….the unforeseeable gift. The gift that requires the seeker to really see, earnestly look for, faithfully uncover.

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In thoughtlessly tossing away the gift of a soul who doesn’t fit our presupposed notions…we slap the face of the Gift Giver, depriving ourselves of the opportunity to breathe in beautiful new vistas previously unknown.

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And while we rage at the Gift Creator for bestowing this uncertain path, our hearts are blinded from the things we have yet to experience. For how can we know the tomorrows in the today? How can the life path we expected be fully understood before it is traversed?

In our vast misunderstanding of the Giver, fears loom large…expectations for the life we firmly desire are indented with our fingertips. Muscles strain as with one hand we hurl back a heart that He knew would point us Light-ward, and with the other…we grip our own imagined, glimmering future… engorged with our heart’s desires.

Little can we grasp that what we eschew is the remedy. That sometimes our deepest fears transform into the One’s greatest individual stories.

For you.

For me.

For all.

What we beckon and encircle is what our souls become.

If only we tilt our ears towards heaven….and listen….we may hear the whisper of the child who might be….

“Don’t be afraid,” she lilts. “Take my hand,” the softness of his small fingers on your cheek.

His rosebud lips. Her almond eyes.

You didn’t choose the journey. The Chooser gifted this glorious journey to you.

 

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Accept the gift.

grant me this one request….

It’s October 1st and October is Down syndrome awareness month!
 
Let me share a bit of my past with you. When I was a teenager, I was very involved in the pro-life ministry at our church. We would go to the local abortion clinic in Bridgeport, CT and do sidewalk counseling with the women who were entering the clinic. We would offer to pray with them about their decision, we offered practical help, options for them and their baby, diapers, clothes, classes, anything they needed….ongoing care and support through their pregnancies and after the birth of their child.
 
We offered options for them other than abortion. We truly cared for the mother and the child and we cared what happened to them.
 
Being on the front lines like that at a young age, I knew a tremendous amount of information about the bitter reality of abortion. Every Saturday, we would stand out there, rain or shine, freezing cold or bitter heat…and we’d pray…and sing…and counsel. Sometimes, as we sang, we could see the women peeking through the blinds to watch us. Sometimes our singing would draw them back down, back outside, back to us….back to life for their child. The ministry saved hundreds of babies’ lives, and helped SO many women throughout the years.
The front lines…that’s what it was. We were the last stand between life and death for those children.
We were passionate about LIFE for these children.

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In high school, I was a cheerleader…yes, hard for ya’ll to imagine…haha…but our principal’s daughter had Down syndrome and she was a part of the cheerleading team. We all just adored her and she was the brightest, happiest girl. The basketball fans roared their approval when she’d do the end cheer with us lifting her up or she’d slide her way to the front of the orchestrated cheer. Everyone adored her. She was a beloved and accepted part of the school.
We didn’t think anything differently of her. We just loved her.
 
Because of my pro-life involvement, I decided to write a research paper about abortion for one of my high school projects. In my research, I discovered that a very high number of unborn children who have Down syndrome are aborted….just because they have Down syndrome. I was stunned. I knew people who had Down syndrome and I loved them. They were happy, loved, attending school, living their lives in their own sweet way.
The day I read those statistics….I had a request…. with tears in my eyes, I prayed a sincere prayer. “God, when I grow up and get married, please let me become pregnant with a child who has Down syndrome, because it’ll mean one fewer child that will be killed.” And I meant it with my whole pie-in-the-sky teenage heart.
Now, God didn’t answer that prayer. Not in the way I asked it. Does He ever?
None of my biological children have Down syndrome and it wasn’t even anything I was thinking much about when we started the adoption process.
But God….
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And so here we are.
And here he is, a miraculous part of our family. Lian’s name means “God has answered”.
It still gives me goosebumps because this was the name the orphanage gave him.
How?
How does this happen? How does God take a prayer from decades ago and answer it in this glorious way?
He takes our desires and transforms them as His own…He takes our dreams and consecrates them into His holy plan.
Who knew that He was preparing the way in my heart for the moment when this child’s life would be forever entwined with ours.
I still shake my head in wonder. I still pinch myself. I still look at him and marvel that he’s here….this package of wonderful, extra, mischievous chromosomes.
Let’s celebrate the fact that these beautiful people are in our lives, making us see God more clearly through their sweet spirits and amazing journeys.
Two years ago, on October 30th, Lian was placed in our arms. I am grateful and humbled beyond words to be a part of his story.
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Micah 6:8
“He has told you…what is good…and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Let’s just do this.
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And so it is.

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How we label people matters simply because our society has so incredibly devalued the lives of humans who have Down syndrome.

“Oh, he’s a Downsy? He’s a Downs kid…a down syndrome baby.  Is he a Down syndrome boy? That cute little downs kid! That Down syndrome girl…she just had a Downs baby! Was he abandoned because he’s a downs?”

I know that any parent of a child who’s rocking the extra chromosome is cringing right now.

 

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Seriously, I’ve heard all of these and more! Before we had Lian, I really didn’t give much thought to these phrases and I probably used them a time or two, unthinking, unknowingly. I mean, what’s the big deal, right?

Are we, as parents of children who just happen to be blessed with that minuscule extra chromosome, are we being overly sensitive? Too demanding? Too picky?

Hmmmm….. Let’s just do a little experiment here. Let’s switch Down syndrome with something else.

“Oh, that palsy boy? What a cute, little, palsy baby! Oh, she’s a bifida kiddo. Did you know that Amy has a cancer brother, too? Yeah, she’s a cleft girl.”

No. We would respectfully say, “a little boy who HAS cerebral palsy, a little girl who HAS spinal bifida, Sally has a brother who HAS cancer, she HAS a cleft palate”.  None of these things degrade the value of the person at all.

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For example, above is a photo of Lian, who has Down syndrome, with his grandfather, who has cerebral palsy. Neither of these two men allow their condition to limit whom God has made them to be.

It’s called “people first” language or terminology. And, to be honest with you, I learned this AFTER we adopted Lian, but it makes SO much sense and I’m very grateful I learned it.

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As parents of children who just happen to have special needs, it’s so incredibly important to us that you aren’t counting chromosomes and handing out labels before you first see our child as a person. He’s a person first. A person of value who isn’t defined by a diagnosis, and, in fact, has struggled to overcome, to fight for, and accomplish more in his short life than most of us will in a lifetime.

How we label people matters simply because society has so incredibly devalued the lives of humans who have Down syndrome.

Their lives are demeaned to the point that these tiny persons are routinely aborted, never given the chance to brighten the world with their sweet spirits and sunshine smiles. These children are routinely abandoned in many countries solely because of their chromosome count.

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“For God sees not as man sees. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.” I Samuel 16:7

So, the next time you see a parent of a child who is obviously blessing all around him with his cute wave, his husky boy hello…Just smile and allow his sweet spirit to lift your day.

I don’t want this defining question, “Is he a Downs kid?” to be the first thing Lian hears every time he meets someone new.

I want him to hear, “Wow, great signing, Lian! I hear that new word you’ve been working on for months! I love your smile! What a strong boy you are! Thank you for helping!”

And if you feel like you can’t possibly say anything nice, just move on. Please!

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Because who he is isn’t defined by a chromosome. If you could just look past the label, you’d see a child with an enormous heart, sensitive to those who are hurting, ready to dole out hugs and light up the room with his smile. You’d see a little boy who reminds us to pray when we forget, who raises his hands to God in worship service when I’m too self-conscious to, who insists on praying for someone who is injured or sick. You’d see a little person who speaks to God as if they are best friends, who commands the rain to stop with all the audacity of being a beloved son of the King, who makes us laugh all day long.

He, and all of our beautiful children who just happen to have Down Syndrome…they are infinitely more than the label.

So don’t introduce them with the label first.

 

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a hundred thousand Hannahs and counting, I see you…

“Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”

Dear Mamas who are praying, longing, yearning to adopt,

I see you. I was you. I am you again. I was the Biblical Hannah, pouring my broken heart out in my desire to adopt, my face pressed against the cold, stone, temple pillar, nails catching in the cracks as I held myself up.  Lips moving silently, tears streaming… I seemed crazy to those who saw me, knew me. One observer wonders, why do you pray that way? Why do you yearn so strongly that your heartstrings are pulled tightly, stretching, reaching, longing for something you cannot have on the other side of that steep adoption cavern?

I see you wipe your tears and walk away, only to repeat the cry through the months, years, over and over again…. silently, aloud, in the whispers of the night, or at the red light when A Thousand Years plays. (yeah, me)

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I see you hinting to your spouse, I see the sadness welling in your eyes when “that” family walks into church. You know what lovely family I’m referring to…the one with the bus of kiddos in various stages of special needs from sundry continents. I see you late at night pouring over photos of children who need you….need a mama, a family. I see the longing in your eyes because I was you, for more years than I care to count or remember. Your phone is full of screen shots, you read bios, juggling a dozen adoption listing access passwords…Red Thread, Reece’s Rainbow, Morning Star, Little Flowers…you know them all by heart. I see you. I know you like the back of my hand, the inside of my coffee cup.

In 1 Samuel, we see Hannah. A woman who had no children, who longed, with every fiber of her being, to be Divinely granted the gift of motherhood. I think we can all knowingly concur, sympathizing with that wail, whether our arms are currently too full or too empty.

That longing is uncommonly hale, compelling us onward into an unforeseeable future. A holy yearning, cherishing an innocent as greater than oneself……to sacrifice, nourish, to love with all your might, a person who cannot survive well otherwise.

And Hannah’s husband asks of her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”

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Ah, husbands….we do love you so, and we were certainly made to be by your sides! God knew that you shouldn’t be alone and He sent along us…and we do so adore that you need us, working so diligently to bestow happiness on us, but you alone are not enough, for our hearts were made for so much more than complacency and a life of single-minded love.

Our hearts are so much more capacious than that.

Hannah saw that her aching, childless arms were an affliction….an affliction! “O, Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life.” There is a wellspring of endless tears for those who are denied their true calling of motherhood.

The grand story is that Samuel was born to Hannah, one joyous year after the sun dried her tears on the temple steps.

What is the absolute favorite verse of adoptive Mamas? Stop and listen, hear it… it is Hannah’s voice softly declaring these words,

“For this child I have prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to Him.”

The Lord has granted me…please grant it to us, God. Hear our cries, wipe our tears, listen to our hearts.

You, sweet one, I see you…. praying, seeking, petitioning,  looking at little faces in the glow of your screen. I feel your heart squeeze during scrolling…. he’s too thin, she looks peaked, those blue lips, that rash, that bruised forehead, those shadowed eyes……your two simple hands can’t care for them all, but you want just one more…you wish it, sigh it…just give me one more, God, please. I’ll be so tender, I’ll do my best, I’ll guide through the hard spots and trudge though the valleys.

You scatter your prayers to the wind like cherry blossom petals, hoping, wishing, dreaming that your child would follow the petal path back to your arms.

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If you have a pack of bios and you’re praying to adopt, I hear you. I was there. God hears, answers.  If you have one or two heart babes and you’re praying again…I’ll pray with you because I’m kneeling right next to you on those temple steps, my forehead scraping the stone, in petition to the God who sets the solitary in families. He hears us and cares that we care. Our prayers don’t fall to the ground.

I can’t save them all, but one more? If it’s in Your will….

And so….

Happy Mother’s Day…to the praying Mamas-to-be, to the Mamas who have loved, lost and loved again, to the wishing ones, yearning ones, exhausted ones, adopting ones. To the birth Mamas, the foster Mamas, the tummy Moms, the heart Moms. To the Ayis in China, to Lian’s foster mom, Lian’s birth mom….

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Happy Mother’s day through the tears, prayers, and wishes….the longings of our hearts that whisper…just one more.

For this child, I have prayed.

 

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