The Googegs - Strangers in the World

The Googegs - Strangers in the World

Saturday, February 25, 2012

It'May Not Be Your Fault, But It Is Your Problem

This past Sunday we attended an evening church service and heard the most awesome sermon, called "It May Not Be Your Fault, But It Is Your Problem".  I am not going to recount his sermon on my blog. You can listen to it (or other sermons) at this link : Sermon

The reason I am bringing this up on my blog, is that this is one of the best adoption sermons I have ever heard. I don't believe this pastor intended to target the adoption community, but it is a sermon Jerome and I have preached over and over again to our children. In fact, when we arrived home Jerome asked the children if anyone had ever heard that sermon and there were several knowing nods.

As I am sure any parent knows, we do not sit down with prepared "sermons" in hand to recite to our children, but there are overriding themes that we have continually returned to discuss. Bitterness and acceptance and forgiveness being a few. Let me give you a taste of what I mean.

"Why do I have to work so hard and not my birth mom?"

My daughter asked that question somewhere around 4 or 5 years of age while we were headed to a therapy appointment to deal with Reactive Attachment Disorder. Pretty insightful for a preschooler. It is certainly not her fault that she was neglected to the point of rejecting all physical touch and eye contact. It is not her fault that she arrived at my house with a twisted belly from hunger. It is not her fault that she was full of lice. We do not know what else happened to her in that birth home, but she was wary of men and informed my husband early on (at 2!) that "I know where you sleep." As if my husband should be on his best behavior since she was watching.

None of these things are her fault, but they have most certainly been her problem. We have had many conversations about her worthiness. She has always been worth love and care. She had to learn how to make eye contact, and how to accept appropriate physical touch. Most heartbreaking of all, she had to learn to smile and laugh. Have you ever met a two year old who could not smile and never laughed? She had to learn to trust that we would always feed her and never leave her. I called her my "mariposa" -- the Spanish word for butterfly. I would tell her she was in a cocoon now, and it would hurt to break out, but one day she would fly free like a butterfly.

Part of flying free is forgiving her birth mom and accepting what is true of her childhood, including being adopted into a family that had, at that time,  no experience of traumitized children. We did a lot of things wrong (and still do), but we loved with all we had and never left our post. No, none of these things were her fault, but they have been her problem to overcome.

"My Adoption Was a Mistake"

I have two children that were adopted from Africa. It has been hard for one to deal with the idea of being adopted. Something must have been a mistake -- if another family member knew they would have taken her in instead. Something's wrong. Part of what was wrong was cultural. In her culture of origin, talking things out, explaining, airing feelings -- these are just not done. So she and her brother were taken to a foster home, voluntary relinquished for adoption to the United States and she was not told much at all. Nine months later, she was on a plane to our house. She has had various ideas that maybe we bought her, or somehow we cheated someway to get her. It got to a point that I took out all of her legal adoption papers and showed her that our dossier and matching acceptance were all signed after her relinquishment. She was not relinquished because we were waiting. She was waiting and we took her. The most difficult moment was showing her the signatures of various birth family members that were informed and agreed to her adoption. She was sure that they didn't know and would have rescued her if ....

It is not her fault that she had a difficult relationship with her birth mom. It is not her fault that she was born in an impoverised, war-ridden country. It is not her fault that there was no father for her or her brother to help provide, but her half-siblings did have one. It is not her fault that she left behind her beloved half-brother and a baby half-sister. No not her fault at all, but certainly her problem.

Again, we are forced to deal with what is, to face the truth head on in all of its ugliness. To know it, to accept it, and to finally move on to forgiveness. If this is not done, the awful abyss is bitterness. Oh, how she has danced on the edge of this pit.

I have six adopted children and these are only sketches of two. They all have a story, they all have "big stuff" that is not their fault and it is all their problem. However, the awesome thing about Jesus is that he wants all of our problems. That's awesome, but what is amazing is what he does with them when our fingers are finally pried off the problem we cling too. He transforms, redeems and uses that problem for the glory of God.

I tell all of my children that I don't know why things happened, but I know what they should do with it now. They have to go right through the pain of it, and allow God to redeem it. In John chapter 9, there is an account of  a man born blind. Not only was he born blind, but people where wondering whether his blindness was caused by his sin, or his parents sin. He was always under suspicion; as apparently were his parents. He didn't do anything to make himself blind, but it was certainly a problem he had to live with and deal with everyday. However, when Jesus came,  we learn that "...  the works of God should be made manifest in him." (John 9:3). His problem was cured -- he was no longer blind, and the glory of God was revealed and the man received his salvation and worshipped (verse 38).

I would never desire that my children should have to live through the horrors that they have already lived through, but I will always desire that the "works of God should be made manifest" in their lives. In most cases, the works of God -- the glory of God -- shines through the brightest in our darkest places.  So I, and my children, are left with this; there was darkness, but glory, glory, there is a light brighter than any darkness that will come when they accept their problems, forgive their offenders and worship.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

February

February has been odd month weather wise.  We have had great soccer days like these:



AND... before you know it snow days like these:


And, as usual February is when we are (or at least I am) feeling the cabin fever of homeschooling. It is time to break the routine and do something different.

Valentines Day is here and we really don't put much into this holiday. The last few years, I have been getting the kids little gifts like some one's favorite root beer. I wasn't feeling too much like giving the gifts this year. We have been having lots of "food" events lately -- so a trip out for an ice cream cone or something doesn't even sound good. At the last minute I was given inspiration for "sharing the love."

We started out the day before heading to the craft store:



We bought all materials to assemble some flower bouquets for the nursing home where we minister.



When we got home we started assembling around 40 bouquets. I say "we" but the children did the work. The girls really loved this project and the boys:

They were working out the wiggles.


They still had ribbon to add, but this gives you the idea.

Today we headed to the nursing home and handed out the flowers to every room. It was such a great time -- it was a surprise to the residents to see us off our usual schedule, and they seemed to enjoy having a little flower to put in their room. We had a great visit.

I also decided that the children could share the love one to another. Before leaving for the nursing home I announced our fun day "game". The children were to draw names and we were piling in the car to head to Dollar Tree.  Every child had a $2 limit to buy something for the brother or sister they drew out. They LOVED this trip. They had so much fun being creative and picking something out and helping the younger ones with their job. We only had one who got sad that she couldn't buy something for herself!



After lunch and ice cream the were able to bless each other.


These little gifts were so fun for everyone!


Songbird even shared hers with Dexter.

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if we have love one to another. John 13:35

Friday, February 10, 2012

Trip the Trigger

Triggers are a big topic in the adoption community. I think triggers are a part of everyone’s life – adopted or not. We just use different terminology: “I wonder what set him off today?”

Here’s one of my goofy triggers. I was out walking with my two small children and our dog. Suddenly, two large dogs came after us. They were barking and following us. Our dog was barking and carrying on in response. It appeared they wanted to “play”, but it was scary. We couldn’t shake them. If I stopped the three dogs were getting so rough I was sure mine would get hurt. I didn’t want to take my dog off the chain for fear of what would happen. I had two small children, and three wild dogs – I was panicked. I yelled at the dogs, stomped my feet – all to no avail. I resolved to head for home and get my children inside. They were getting hysterical. This was a busy neighborhood and no one came to claim the dogs or offer assistance – I am sure I looked like a crazy lady. By the time I got home, one of the chasing dogs had been hit by a car, I had injured my “stomping” foot and my kids were a sobbing mess. Consequently, anytime I see a large size dog approaching (not running just approaching) I begin to go into high alert. After so many years, it is abating, but I still get a nervous feeling.


Reading my story might make you chuckle a little, but here’s the thing with adopted kids; they have had many traumatic experiences -- far beyond “a big dog once scared me.” So traumatic, that some are diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome), or perhaps RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder), or any other plethora of initials. Of course, there is always that little snafu of a fact that we, as their new, forever parents never really know what all these experiences were. Consequently, we never know for sure when they will be on high alert or when the nervous feeling is going to set in. Once we see some patterns we can figure it out, but even then, we will never really know what caused this fear.

One of my children was really afraid of water. So afraid of water, that I usually ended up getting as wet as he did to get him bathed. Did something happen to him; or was he just one of those babies that don’t like water? Birthdays can be tricky. I have a daughter that for years bottomed out around her birthday. We minimized celebrations, gift giving and slowed these events way down. It works. Can’t tell you why she hated the fuss.

Today I hit a trigger point, and I knew I was going to, but there was no getting around it. I had to leave my children with someone else for less than an hour. Getting left is a big trigger point for more than one of our children. All have grown past it, and now, finally understand that if Mom and Dad leave for a bit, they will most definitely be back – Every. Single. Time. I have two new children, and this is a big issue. We definitely minimize the times that we are without our children. We do not, and have not, had a regular babysitter. We try hard to schedule appointments so that our kids are either with Mom or Dad and now that we have “old” kids – an older brother or sister. I usually take the most distressed child with me. However, there are times that, frankly, things just don’t work out. Knowing this is one of those ominous triggers -- we minimize and then we just steel ourselves to deal with the fall-out. Today we had no choice. We minimized -- we left them with an Aunt they know well. We took all the children, so that they would be with all their brothers and sisters. We were gone less than an hour.

Here’s how it went. On our return it was quite normal – “pick the kids up” stuff. I asked all the children how their time was. They all had great fun at this favorite Auntie’s house. When some of the older children began to say a few minor things that kids had done and then said, “But it all went fine,” My Mama’s heart heard that no kid had a raging, all out temper tantrum at Auntie’s house – praise God. Our next destination was swimming. At the pool, Preacher Man said, “Mama you need a hug.”

“Ok, did you miss me today?”

“Yeah, you might not come back.”

When he got home he grabbed his Dad and asked if he was going to work.

“I don’t want you to go, I miss you!”

“I know, but I always come back.”

Then Jerome told him how Jesus will never leave him or forsake him.

Songbird had more general issues when we got home. You could just tell she was a little jittery. Once she asked me for a big kiss. And once,

“Mama, did you know that I just love you all the time?”

Ahh – I can hear the I’m scared written all over that one.

At bath time, she insisted that she swallowed soap and needed medicine. It is a slight possibility she might have gotten some soap in her mouth as she takes a bath with her mouth always open (uck), but definitely no swallowing or sickness could possibly occur. She was getting more and more agitated about NEEDING MEDICINE. I finally put her on my lap and told her the best medicine is Mama’s love. Then I asked her if she had been scared today and she cried a little and nodded “yes”. Then I told her about being the Last Mama – her last mama – the last mama she would ever need.

They were both off their mark the rest of the day. Preacher Man asked constantly about going to bed and insisted he didn’t want to and didn’t want to turn the lights off. This was way before bedtime. Songbird finally just fell apart and went to bed early. Still, I consider this day a successful “trip the trigger” day. We did it, we stayed calm, and, the biggie … we came back .. And we always will.

Someday … someday … I hope they know.

Be strong and of good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee, he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

Deuteronomy 31:6


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Abortion

I am about to break from the family blog chit chat to delve into a deeper issue. Abortion. Being a fundamental Christian I have a strong no-death stance on this issue and that is probably no surprise. It happens that the Wisdom Booklet (Unit Study) that our family is studying this month has to do with accepting yourself and the way that God made you. Of course, what I think really doesn't have any bearing, it is what the Lord thinks on this subject. He has quite a lot to say about the womb and the creation of babies:

For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: ...My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.  Psalm 139: 13-15
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.  Jeremiah 1:5
According to these verses, God knows us before he formed us in our mother's womb. You can not know a blob of cells, this is life and it is known and created by a holy God, who before birth has ordained and sanctified that life for a purpose. In our study, some of the issues we are tackling include birth defects. What if a baby is born with down syndrome or blindness or, in the case of the Elephant Man, Proteus syndrome?  Did God make a mistake?  Let's look at an account in John 9:

And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.  John 9:1-3
Why was the man blind? "That the works of God should be made manifest in him."  -- for the Glory of God. He was blind for a purpose. We all have stuff -- emotional stuff, spiritual stuff, sin stuff -- all of our stuff is to be used for the glory of God. We may have created some of our own problems and circumstances from our own sin and now consequences are brought to bear. However, as this man shows, some things are unchangeables from the hand of God -- and they are no error.

I have taken such a long time to set the background for my beliefs, because I have a foundation in a holy God that sets a standard for the worth of every person's life that he has created and known. Therefore, I believe that we do not have the right to terminate life at will.

That being said, I heard on the radio a discussion regarding abortion that took place on a show called "The View". I do not watch TV, so I came home and looked up the segment on the ABC website. A federal judge in Texas apparently is upholding a law that requires abortion providers to show or describe an ultrasound of the fetus (and heartbeat) before the abortion is performed. These are some of the quotes from the ladies at "The View":

"It's very totalitarian ... forcing somebody to confront something that they have already decided they don't want to deal with" (Joy Behar)

Barbara Walters noted that the reason someone is having an abortion is that the baby is unwanted and that this is a

..."tremendous decision it's involved with so much fear and guilt and then to go and be forced to see the fetus and hear the heartbeat, to put more guilt on you; I think it is heartbreaking."
What I hear these ladies saying is that if someone is forced to acknowledge that this is a baby -- a human being -- it might make some people not abort their babies. In fact here are some comments from Whoopi Goldberg:

"Sometimes you have to have the abortion, because they can't afford it."  and "Some people just don't want kids."

I want you to think about Nazi Germany for a minute. A Nazi soldier is standing in front of withered death camp inmates and his officer gives the order to fire -- kill them all. Wouldn't you want him to acknowledge the humanity of each of these people in the hopes that he would be unable to carry out this gruesome order?

There are millions of babies being killed in our country and can't we just acknowledge their humanity. Their God-given creation, and as Jeremiah 1:5 indicated, their sanctity.

Please watch this video called 180 -- whether you agree with me or not -- this will challenge you:


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Hard, but Right

When God asks us to strike out in faith -- hard comes with the territory. Hard, doesn't mean wrong, it is often right. So often, we miss doing right because we just don't want to go through the hard. However, doing things hard just to show we can do hard is not right. Right but hard -- the center of God's will.

Abram left his family and country and was told to "Go to a place I will show you." It is not like he had a cellphone or skype -- he was not likely to communicate with his family again. He was heading out, probably never to see home again. Not only that "...a place I will show you..." means step out and ... no GPS... get out there; I will show you. Do you think his Dad said, "Trust your gut son; this sounds right!" I would imagine a whole lot of people were flabbergasted that he was going. "Going where?!"

"I don't know, God will show me later."

Noah took hundreds of years to build an ark in a land that hadn't seen rain. Do you think he took a little ribbing? My guess is it would have been easier to not build; well, until the flood came of course.

Our family had to do a little hard business this month. We left our church. Doesn't sound like a big deal in our culture, but for us it was huge. In one way or another we have been affiliated with this church for almost 17 years. When we moved we left for six years, but we were always visiting a couple times of year -- a kind of going home. Then we came back home, and it was wonderful and right and good and then God...

And then God... he pressed in on us. We struggled, we wrestled, we prayed. We questioned, we doubted, we prayed again. Finally, we left for a month to fast our routine and discern His Will. I can not recount here the confirmations that rolled in during the first week. It was time, it was right, it was going to be hard.

We went last week for our last service. We had some anxious feelings about how it would go. Maybe it wouldn't be much -- a couple of hugs and we are out the door. Maybe ???

It was totally unexpected. We were flooded before we could get out of the pew. The hugs and the prayers and the well wishes from so many. I was fine, until I let the memories wash over me. Riane, at 4 twirling by the pews, Braydon toddling in the nursery, Adela and Ricky learning their first ever Bible songs -- and all the rest. I came undone - this was hard.

But this was right and that has made all the difference. Obey now; understand later -- Trust and Obey.