Wednesday, October 27, 2010


The smile on this kid lights up the world.

Call it morbid, but sometimes I think about what my life would be had we not adopted Tyrus. It makes me well every time. Obviously, we had many childless years, but the presence of Ty has returned them to us as his laughter and growling take up so much room. Imagining him with another family, even Rebekah and her family, is too much to bear. He is a part of us, now, and the undoing of what's been done is too inconceivable to think about.

Ben and I carry those thoughts into our conversations about foster adoption. We've been talking about it a lot.

There are so many children waiting for families and there is a great urgency in my heart to do something. And by something I don't simply mean adopt as many children in our lifetime as possible (although that's coming!) These kids need advocates. They need voices shouting their names from rooftops and families enveloping their hearts in love. I've been hearing and reading stories that would make your lunch turn. A daughter missing feet because her "mother" left her on a snowy porch, in only her underwear, for hours at a time. A son that was thrown out the window in a fit of rage. A Ukrainian orphan that was deemed unadoptable by her country.

I heard a message, this week, on the love of our Father that produced such violence in my spirit, I had a difficult time functioning through the rest of my day. I walked away shouting, Lord, there is no man, woman, or child on this earth that is unloved, unwanted, or unadoptable. No exception. Yet, the world and church alike, prove me otherwise, every single day...

There are so many things I could say, here, but I want to keep this specific to what the Lord's showing me toward adoption. I've been chewing on my prayer for the last two days and I realized, tonight, that unadoptable labels exist...because families like ours use them. Ouch.

Sure, we get a gold star for even considering foster adoption in the first place. A red one for looking at sibling groups and even a green one for embracing diversity, but what about adopting a child over the age of 12? Unadoptable. A baby addicted to methamphetamine? Unadoptable. A teenager that has severe emotional or health issues? Unadoptable.

The reality is that these kids are labeled unadoptable because there are few families willing to adopt them...including mine.

That was a pretty hard pill to swallow, tonight. Yes, more families should be concerned about the foster crisis in our country. Yes, more adoptive families should be willing to look outside of domestic adoption. But, I can't change the hearts of other families...I can only work on mine.

Tonight, I'm saying, Lord, change me. Help me look at all children as your children. Affix new labels on their heads.

I stand by my initial prayer. Through the eyes of Christ - unloved, unwanted, and unadoptable children do not exist. If only the rest of us could see the world that way...


  1. God had it planned that you would post this today, just hours after I vocalized for the first time (after many months of silently contemplating it) that I want to open my heart and home to foster care.

    Almost as soon as I spoke the words, more came from nowhere - "but can I be picky? Can I turn drug-addicted children away? I don't have the training or knowledge on how to care for them. And what about Ryan? I can't put him in harm's way. Can I use my judgment to ensure that I'm not taking in a child who might hurt my son?"

    I can't help but think of the horror stories (mainly the ones that have been made into movies - thank you, society), and of course, my mind reels.

    Does that mean that I'm not as good of a person as I should be? I don't know. I do know that it means that I am in just the beginning stages of making this decision/commitment. Thank you for this post - it gave me a lot of important things to ponder.

  2. This has been on my mind this week too. I was talking to a parent at work about that very word...unadoptable. It breaks my heart. as much as I feel overwhlemed at times with the children that we have, there is a desire in my heart to bring those children into our home. I had a dream two nights ago that I can't wait to share with you about this very thing.

  3. You just posted as I jumped on. You know, my heart has been stirring in the same way yours is. We have decided to do domestic infant adoption for a second time. However, I am seriously open to foster care adoption in the future and for now, will be learning more about it. This subject breaks my heart---and it should, right? How can we claim to love Jesus but not love the children God created?!? And not DO something about it?

  4. I think it is so ironic that this you have posted this today. Over the last few days i have had adoption in my heart and on my mind. We are currently trying to decide whether to pursue domestic adoption, or adopt the "unadoptable" through in Europe. This has been a difficult decision for us because i feel the responsibility to "help my country first", but at the same time i am so drawn to those sweet orphan faces that just want someone to love them and show them affection. This is proving to be a difficult decision.

    I read somewhere yesterday where someone said "We need to stop being concerned with WHAT they are, and just see them for WHO they are." That resonates so deeply for me in making this decision.

  5. I've fought with this as well. At one point my own sister was labeled unadoptable because she had many issues she needed to overcome before being adopted. Long story short she was finally adopted at age 9. She is now a teacher, but she has a lot of issues to deal with still. I also teach with children that are in Foster care with Emotional Disturbances. I'm honest with myself in saying I couldn't do it. I know I can't. How others perceive that is their own choice, but after years of infertility our marriage needs a healthy child to heal. I use to be racked with guilt about this. I looked online fo families that adopted ED children or certain special situations and I found few that were happy at all. They too, felt guilty about it. They had problems with having the older sibling bonding, children hitting them and many other issues. Its sad these kids age out of the system. They need good, loving homes. I've had people say "what if your child was born disabled or something similar." I think it'd be far different.

  6. As a social worker, and for a year a foster care social worker working with teens in independent living, (which means kids that many see as unadoptable) made me so sad to see them all of the time, wanting the same things, love and affection, attention and praise, simple things that we can all give no matter what age a child is. Sometimes age is the only factor that labels a child undoptable, and that is sad. Why is a 13 year old not as worthy of a mom or a dad as an 3 month old?

    Thank you for this post, many minds in our world need to change. I hope you can reach a lot of people by this post and I commend your strenth. I have faith God will show you the way--He always does!

  7. Rebekah, this really stirs my heart. My mind goes to Tyrus. Because of where God placed him (in your arms and Bens arms) he will have the same heart you have towards life. I can not wait to see his little personality blossom and grow. I know he will have a heart for God.

    Love you so much,

  8. You know, stories like those "lunch turners" used to make me angry and I would ask, "Why can THOSE people have children, while I sit here unable to have a child?" Really, are those people more deserving than us? But, I have come to realize something important: those stories, those people, those "mothers" are not someone I should envy or feel as though I was dealt a crappy hand. Instead, it reminds me and strengthens my belief that we are meant to adopt a child. Because we are meant to save a child from that fate. Thanks for the reminder.

  9. My post on my own blog this morning was about adoption. We are currently in our last few days of being approved for foster care. This is our second go-round as we changed foster care agencies. We have been praying and praying a praying for the little one we will receive. We served 5 years in a children's home working with 16-20 year old unadoptable girls. It was hard work, and most of them have gone on to adulthood with many problems. They need a family. One family, not a children's home. This time we will be taking the infants, the crack babies, the preemies, the two year old who has been neglected, who may have watched someone in her family die. Our family as a whole has been so excited for our little one to arrive. It occured to me this week that as I celebrate her arrival as a good day, it will be very likely a bad day for her. A mother lost, an emotional roller coaster, a trail of abuse, not a day worth celebrating. It has changed my heart to think about how God would receive this child, not with a party, but with quietness, and gentleness, and love. Foster care is a hard road, but God doesn't ask us to do anything that he would not do for us. Thanks for sharing your post today.

    Joy K.

  10. A foster mother named Kathy Harrison,at the adoption agency I used to work for wrote an amazing book called "Another Place at the Table" and it gives a very honest and heartbreaking look at life in her family and what it means to be a foster parent. I use to recomend it to all potential foster parents (especially those with other children in the home already), and thought it may be a good resource for everyone...

    I believe you are so right about the lable "unadoptable" and I think when our hearts are ready, open and willing, we can handle more than we ever thought.

    Love and Blessings,

  11. I have found that the people that are MEANT to do this - foster - and that are meant to take on the hard cases have that seed planted in them. They know who they are. God is calling them to do it - they just have to answer.

    My husband and I just had our worst nightmare come true - we fostered a little girl for 16 months and she went home under horrible circumstances...and yet we are still here. We are still fostering and our eyes are being opened to what our job in the body of Christ is. We all have a place, it is so important to jump in and get to work. It is going to be hard and it is going to hurt but following Christ is worth it, even when the one thing you asked HIM not to let happen does.

    -Leah W.

  12. I was thinking about this, too. Really. A situation came up with a baby with hearing loss, and on our home study we said we would accept a child with hearing loss/deafness. But then I thought about the things we said we would NOT accept, and that form is hard to fill out. I've posted about it before, that the form shows you what kind of person you really are. Because when it comes down to it, am I ready to parent a child with fire-starting issues, or HIV positive, or with a known terminal illness? It causes much soul searching. Keep posting about this...we're reading and I know you are touching hearts out there!

  13. My daughter, adopted, was born addicted to drugs. Unfortunately her mother is also bipolar. My husband said, "someone needs to love her" and I must admit to guilt because I wasn't sure it was me. But she was 9 weeks old. How do you condemn a 9 week old? How do you say they are less worthy? So we brought her home and she is beautiful. Not just physically, although she is darn cute, but her personality as well. She lights up a room. And, I think in part to our love, she is a healthy 5 year old. I'm not saying she doesn't have some learning issues because she does BUT she IS learning and she works hard and she wants to please. And really we are happy. She is about a year behind but I think in the end she will do just fine. All it cost us is some speech therapy and a psychologist. Really, in the grand scheme of things, no big deal. Hope some of you give it consideration because my life wouldn't be the same without her.

  14. Dang Rebekah......what a powerful post! I read thru the comments you received and I'm so touched by your readers spirits....
    I have had about 5 years experience working in group homes and even managing those homes...there were children who I fell in love with and wanted to take home with me and there were children who I did not click with at all. I agree with your reader who said God plants a seed in the hearts of those whom He has called to foster. You and Ben are pretty special people, I love reading your heart, spilled out in front of me. Thank you for this post.

  15. I like your questions and the way you think things through. If you put lots of info in, I'm sure the right thing to do will present itself.

  16. I have been reading your blog from afar for awhile now. I have been a foster parent for 10 years and an adoptive parent for 7, I have older bio children. I fostered a baby born addicted to meth, severly. I had to teach him to eat, he was tube feed for two weeks, I gave drugs round the clock for months and months, he screamed with every wean cycle.... it was the hardest placement I ever had, I do consider myself seasoned... I say all this to actually say this. A drug baby was so far out of our families comfort zone, however we jumped right in and got with the challenge. It turned out I loved that baby like he was my own, That came from God, he knew if someone didnt love him unconditionally the placement he was in would disrupt and he would be filtered thru the system. I cried for two weeks for that baby when the aunt stepped up to be granted guardian. DO NOT BE AFRAID to adopt, love and foster the ones you think are unadoptable becuase with God ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!!!

  17. You deserve a lot of credit for exploring this issue in your own heart. From an outsider's perspective, there is no question both you and Ben would be well-equipped to foster/adopt and love one of the so-called unadoptable children. I've been told this as well - that I'd be an exceptional parent to a special needs child - because of my creative side and love of play and imagination. My husband, on the other hand, isn't there. I can't change that about him, and therefore we likely won't ever go outside our comfort zones. I am saddened by it, but I have to accept and respect his boundaries.

    Thanks for the post.

  18. Rebekah- what a powerful post...I am not in the position to parent children right now but of course have been touched by adoption because I'm a birthmom. I know first hand that they are MANY who would like to welcome a baby into their lives. Yet it is true that the older children are harder to find homes for. That's so sad. When I am at a point in my life that I am married and able to parent I will definitely be looking at adopting from foster care. I hope we can all advocate for all kinds of adoption not just infant adoption. I think the most important "skill" someone needs to parent the "unadoptables" is love....what a difference that would make in these kids' lives!

  19. Another great book to read is "The Middle Mom: Growing Your Heart by Giving It Away" by Christie Erwin. She has been a foster mom for over 15 years, and she talks about the realities and pain of loving children who may leave (always a possibility in fostering), but always goes back to this:

    "If we get down to the truth, the nitty-gritty truth, it is not the government's job to care for the fatherless. It just isn't. The government isn't commissioned, the government isn't commanded, the government isn't equipped, and the government isn't empowered by the One who made it all to care for His children. The church is. We are the people that God has instructed to be different and make a difference."

  20. Do you know what this makes me think of? It makes me think of this: almost EVERY single time that I speak of my child's adoption, the person I am speaking to interjects with: I've always wanted to adopt! I think we might adopt one day! Etc., etc. And I try to smile and nod, but it really just infuriates me. Because that person will almost DEFINITELY never seriously consider adoption. But they pat themselves on the back for even considering it.

    Actions speak louder than words.

    That line of thinking leads me to another thought: I am not proud of this, but when I hear about a "normal" couple wanting to adopt out of the goodness of their hearts. All I can think is that they will be "stealing" a health newborn from an infertile couple.

    I've had people tell me that what we did was a great thing to do, adopting a baby. The truth of the matter is that no one who adopts a (mostly) healthy domestic newborn is saving a life. Saving a life is adopting an "unadoptable".

    Does any of this even make sense? I feel like I am rambling a bit.

    My last thought is this: I am not the touchy feely blogger who gets into open adoption, so on and so forth. And I think most readers would be surprised to know that our (perfect) little toddler was actually considered "unadoptable" for a variety of reasons. I don't share those reasons because it's not my story to tell - it is my child's.

    Which is why I am posting anonymously.

    My last comment (and it is NOT the reason I am posting anonymously) is this: I feel like you have retreated as a blogger. You are blogging, but I feel like you are being very cryptic and I'm sorry, but a tiny bit martyr-ish at times? I truly respect you and think you are a wonderful, wonderful person, but I feel like you aren't being true to your words. Something seems "off" and I can't help but wonder what is going on.

  21. You know my story but I have three adopted children from foster care and it was the best decision ever! They are my children through and through. I am so in love with them. It's been six years now and although they are adopted...they are simply just my children in all ways! -kriss

  22. I am posting as anonomous in order to protect the family who's story I want to share.
    I have become close to a family who is pusuing adoption from an Afican nation. One- maybe two children. The family had several biological childern. All the kids who are school age are home schooled. They hae one preschool age child. The parents are exceptional parents from my perspective. I was talking to the mom a while ago and she said that the reason she and her husband will not pursue domestic foster/adoption is that DHS is anti- homeshcooling. The mom was told that if they took in school age foster children the children would have to go to public school for a minumum of 6 months. This just dosen't seem right! I believe that home schooling would benifit a foster child by provinding them with more individulazed curriculum and individual attention. It would also give the foster
    child(ren) more time to bond with the family and be less disruptive- having to switch from home to school and back five times a week. All I can say is that any children- international or domestic will be very blessed to be a part of this family!!!! I think it's a shame that DHS is so closed minded about home schooling!!

  23. I read the book "Another Place at the Table" that Kate recommended and I agree that it's a very powerful, eye opening book.
    During the 10 1/2 months or so that I worked at a youth shelter, I met several teens and pre teens who had been legally adopted and yet for one reason or another were unable and in some cases even unwilling to live in with their adoptive parents. Some of these kids were being bounced around from the shelter to foster homes to residential treatment facilities and in some cases biological relitives such as grandparents. Many of these kids were most comfrtable in the shelter and probably would have done ok in a group home. I do think the lable "Unadoptable" is very sad, but so is the concept that some of these children are "misfits" or "rejects" and just don't fit in anywere! I couldn't bond with some of them and I know it would be a complete disaster if I tried to foster or adopt any ot these children or ones like them- sad but true. I think God gives some people the gifts- time, resorces, patients and most of all love to be able to adopt some of these kids. I think it's a sad but true fact that some kids just never will fit into any family. Hope fully many of them will grow up, marry and have kids and form their own families- including in-laws in some cases. Thanks for this post, Rebekah! I will be praying for the unloved, unwanted and "unadoptable" children in the US and in the world today!!

  24. Powerful post. You learn so much about yourself going through the adoption process, don't you? Some of it is sorta ugly.

    Blessings to you and your family!

  25. This is a realy strong post and as you know from when we talked at the wedding this is a hard one for me deciding what you can accept and not. But you have to remeber there is someone for everyone out there. You can only take what you can handle and that is what it comes down to. Tim and I started out we only wanted infant then decided to foster to adopt 0-5 and now we opened it a little more 0-7 but it is hard to decided what I can handle and not. You want it to be safe and ok for not just your husband and yourself but Ty. I try to thing that way with Justin now having him I want it to be right for our family I am willing to deal with the emotional baggage that comes with fostering and the outburst and even if a child had some developmental delays but certain things I know I can't handle. I know if I was a stay at home mom I would be able to handle a lot more but I have a lot on my plate and I still want to be there for Justin meaning school functions and sports and helping anyway I can but I sometimes feel stretched so you have to do what is right for you and your family as a whole. I definatly want to hear more about the foster adopt because as you know I would love to be part of that. We are looking to do it again. We as well are excited to expand our family and can't wait to see what happens in the next chapter of our lives. By the way he is growing so fast and is a little man now and the pictures are adorable. I can't wait to hear what happens in your life as well.

  26. Excellent post. We're in the training process now and still have that decision to make of what age range. It's something we haven't decided on 100% yet and it's for this reason. We want to take in the world and help any child that might need us but we have to understand our limits. And when it comes to the things that a foster child brings in to our home we have to think about our daughter and that our first priority is her when we make those decisions.

  27. Rebekah- i am so glad that you are willing to share your passion with Imago Dei. you seriously rock.

  28. Thank you for this post. We label children unadoptable because of our own limited vision not because it is so. These words create a world that imposes much suffering. Thank you for creating a world that contributes possibility and peace for all of our children.