Learning to embrace the words “I don’t know” as part of our transethnic adoptions

i-dont-knowAs an educated, strong willed, successful American woman the words “I don’t know” have only recently started falling comfortably into my conversations. When I commit to do things I carefully count the costs and regularly have contingency plans — and because of the number of daily decisions it takes to run our family, there hasn’t been much room for the phrase “I don’t know.”

Looking back over recent years I can see that an important part of God’s plans for shaping me include knocking off my ‘sharp edges’ of competency and developing my heart in such a way that He could be seen in me at all times by giving me unanswerable questions through our adoptions. Some of those questions come from outside my home: “How can you teach them to live in the Black culture?” “What will you do if they don’t bond?” “What if their birth parents show up?” Continue reading

Interview with Sue Hill: Ethiopia Adoption

Ken and Sue Hill have 6 children, ages 11, 9, 7, 7, 2, and 11 months old. Their first five children are biological. Their youngest was adopted from Ethiopia this past February. Those of you who have already adopted or are currently pursuing adoption know the financial challenges involved in adoption. It might encourage you to know that the Hills received a check from Shaohannah’s Hope at a Steven Curtis Chapman concert this past September.

The Hill family is currently in the process of adopting a 3 1/2 yr orphan from Africa named Arama. You can visit their adoption donation website here.

1. What initially motivated you to adopt?

In the winter of 2004, I decided to start asking God in my prayers what I could do for Him. I did not know what it would be. But, I wanted to be a vessel for Him in this world. Being a stay-at-home mother of 5, I did not have a lot of extra time. But I kept praying that prayer, hoping God would reveal to me how He wants to use me in this world.

In the spring of 2005, I received an issue of a magazine called “Above Rubies.” It is a Christian magazine written by Nancy Campbell. She encourages mothers in their walk with Christ and teaches them how to have Godly homes. In this particular issue, she wrote about her mission trip to Liberia, West Africa. She wrote about the 14 year long war that took place there. This war and its atrocities left behind many orphans. She wrote about these children and the need for adoptive families. After reading this, I knew God was calling us to the ministry of adoption.

So, I approached my husband. Our youngest at the time was only 4 months old. I asked him to think and pray about it. At first he thought I was a little crazy. He said “Sue, we already have 5 children.” I again asked him to pray about it and he said he would. We also attended a Kingdom Kids adoption conference. At the conference, Steve and Michelle Gardener, who are adoptive parents, spoke about adoption from a Biblical perspective. This really changed my husband’s perspective on things. After 1 year of much prayer and consideration, we stepped out in faith and decided to adopt. There were a lot of unknowns. We knew, however, that our child was in Africa. We did not know how we could afford it financially, but we went ahead and started the process.

2. What kind of responses have you received from extended family and friends about your decision to adopt? Continue reading

Interview with Jason Kovacs

kovacs_family

Jason Kovacs is an adoptive father of a multi-ethnic family. He’s also one of the bloggers at AdoptiveDads.org.  We met in the blogosphere a few years ago. His love for the gospel and passion for adoption has been a great encouragement to me. I’m looking forward to actually meeting him this next week.

I’m also very pleased to announce that Jason was recently hired as the Director of Ministry Development for the ABBA Fund, a ministry that provides no-interest loans to Christian couples who are pursuing adoption. It also helps churches start adoption assistance funds.

If any of you know of any couples who need financial assistance to adopt, donors who want to give to a great ministry, or a church that would be interested in starting an adoption fund, please contact them.

1. Jason, tell us a little about your family.

My wife and I have been married just over 4 years now. We have three children: Samuel is 4 and the most energetic, tenderhearted kid I know; Keziah is almost 3 and is one of the most spirited little girls I’ve ever met; and Karis just turned 1 and is a little sweetheart. We adopted Samuel and Keziah just over two years ago. Samuel was 23mos old and Keziah was 8 months old. We heard story after story about couples who previously had a hard time getting pregnant after they adopted and we joined the club!

2. What initially motivated you to adopt?

My wife had desired to adopt since she was young. I’m not sure I ever thought seriously about adoption until my time at Bethlehem Baptist Church where John Piper serves as Pastor. It was there that I met family after family that had adopted. Two things especially struck me. One was that many of these couples chose to adopt trans-racially, and second, many adopted not because they couldn’t get pregnant but because they saw it as a way to live out the gospel in a practical way. That had a profound impact on me.

3. What kind of responses have you received from extended family and friends about your decision to adopt? Continue reading

The Unexpected Blessing of Strangers

givinghandsIf my last post left you feeling like transracial adoption would destroy any chance of privacy in your life – take heart! There is the other side of the attention our unique families receive – some times God uses it to bring out the best in the people we meet. We’ve received countless words of encouragement, of blessing and many smiles when strangers quickly count…”2,4,6,8..9 kids?” And we all chime in response, “SO FAR!” Through this journey as an adoptive parent God has been teaching me humility and grace, and that His plans are so much bigger than my momentary comfort. He is working in everyone’s lives. Weather they want Him or not, if they believe or if they disdain. None of us can really escape His involvement. Here are a few unusual ways that God has given us the blessing of strangers and taught us to be open to one type of gift He brings to us through them and one type of lesson He is teaching me.

1. Late one evening I was alone at the grocery store talking with my friend who works there. As she was totaling my order, we were discussing the impending arrival of baby #8 from GA and the financial crunch that her unexpected arrival was creating. I paid for and bagged my cart of groceries and was out in the lot loading the van when a woman approached me and handed me a fist full of $20 bills. She said “I heard you say that money is tight. I was in line behind you. Please take this and use it. God bless you.” And she was gone.

2. One afternoon I had the tribe (8 at that time) out shopping at COSTCO. We filled our Continue reading

Interview with Chris Nelson: Father of a Multi-Ethnic Family with a Special Needs Child

One of our great desires at Carolina Hope is to help Christians increasingly think about orphan ministry and adoption from a theological perspective. Carolina Hope has commissioned me to explore and articulate the beautiful gospel-connection between uppercase Adoption (i.e. God’s gracious adoption of us) and lowercase adoption (i.e. our adoption of a child) so that Christians become more firmly grounded in the gospel and grow in their understanding of its profound implications for all of life. We are committed to helping Christians in general and both prospective and adoptive families in particular think theologically about all things adoption. This is one of the main reasons for this interview series.

Today’s interview is with Chris Nelson. He and his wife are members of Bethlehem Baptist Church of Minneapolis. God has created a culture of adoption at Bethlehem. It is a church that embraces the truth that adoption is the heart of the gospel. Bethlehem sees the earthly practice of adoption as a beautiful reflection of what God has done in the gospel.

1. Chris, tell us a little about your family.

My wife Katie and I have been married for 9 years and live in Hopkins, MN. We have a 6 year old adopted son, Andrew, and an 8 month old adopted son, Joseph. Both are from Korea. Andrew has a chromosome abnormality called partial trisomy 18, and Joseph is typically developing. Finding out about Andrew’s chromosome abnormality when he was 2 shook our world…and has been the biggest blessing we’ve received in making us get serious about faith in Christ, and growing to understand what we are truly here for in this world – and it’s not little league and soccer practice.

2. What initially motivated you to adopt? Continue reading

“Abba! Father!” and transracial adoption

“And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!'” (Galatians 4:6)

The first person who ever called me “Daddy” was my daughter, Hannah. I can still remember what it felt like as a new father to hear that word come from her young little lips. She’s now 11 years old and still calls me by the same name; and it continues to fill me with a sweet joy.

Hannah is not the only one in our household that calls me “Daddy.” There are two others, Isaiah (5) and Noah (4). They are my sons through transethnic adoption. Both of them call me “Daddy” as often as Hannah does. If you visited our home on any day of the week, you would hear one White child and two Black children referring to me as “Daddy” – and my heart is filled with the same sweet joy every time I hear that name, no matter which of my children says it. I am the privileged and happy father of a multi-ethnic family.

I’m sure you have heard that “Abba” (from “Abba! Father!” – Galatians 4:6) is the Aramaic equivalent to our word “Daddy.” This is often argued because of how easy the word “Abba” is to say, but I think this understanding of “Abba” misses the point.

Its significance lies not in the thought that those adopted by God now have the privilege of calling Him “Daddy.” As warm as that thought may be to many who have heard it, I think Paul has something else in mindsomething that tells us about the unique makeup of the family God has brought together through the gospel. Continue reading

Amazing Liberian Adoption Story

Amazing Liberian Adoption StoryOn January 29 of this year, Oprah Winfrey aired a show about a group of Christian families in the same community who adopted pre-teen and teenager boys from a Liberian orphanage. The story is remarkable, and I encourage all of our readers to read about it at Lysa TerKeurst’s website. (Hat tip to Rob Singleton of Southbrook Church for pointing me to the story. I believe Rob is the pastor to some or all of these families.)

There is nowhere to hide – we are a city on the hill when we adopt transracially

I’m pleased to announce that Dorothy Bode, the mother of a large multi-ethnic family, is now a guest writer for our adoption blog. She and her husband are members of Bethlehem Baptist Church of Minneapolis, a church that is passionate about adoption in general and transracial adoption in particular.

bhodekidsOne of the things I asked Dorothy to do was to write about issues related to transracial adoption from a God-centered, gospel-centered perspective. My hope is that God will use her posts to help equip couples who are either thinking about adopting transracially or who already done so to be families that increasingly display the beauty and power of the gospel. Multi-ethnic families have the wonderful opportunity to visually and verbally testify to the glory of God’s gospel. After all, it is the gospel that is God’s power to create a family filled with brothers and sisters from “every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9).

Here’s Dorothy Bode’s first article:

Some days I can’t get through one aisle at the grocery store without a curious person stopping to ask about our family. I know we are intriguing. I shop with 9 kids, age 11 and under, with African-American, Caucasian and Cherokee all represented in their patient faces. To the world at large we are a blazing city on the hill or at least a passing carnival. There is no way to hide our calling when we are out in public and the human truth is that there are days when I really embrace the message of Matthew 5:14-16 and others that I just want to skip those verses altogether and go back into my homogenous, self-centered, two children, double-latte life. But God says in His word – “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill can not be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to the whole house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Continue reading

Interview with Jeff Rickett, Father of a Multi-Ethnic Family

Jeff Rickett is one of the church planting pastors of City of Hope Church, a multi-ethnic congregation in Columbia, Maryland. City of Hope Church is a diverse community of worshipers who have been gripped by the gospel of grace and are committed to bringing gospel-hope and freedom to the diverse people of the Columbia area. Jeff serves a congregation that boldly pursues ethnic, socioeconomic, and generational reconciliation through the power of the Gospel.

Jeff has been the father of a multi-ethnic family for 9 years. He was kind enough to share some of his family’s experiences below. It is our desire that this interview series will address struggles that adoptive families face and provide real answers that are grounded in the Gospel of grace.

1. Tell us a little about your family.

My wife and I have been married for 16 years, and we have two living children, Samuel and Amanda. Samuel is 9 and enjoys playing, riding his bike, and skateboarding. Amanda is 8 and enjoys cooking, scientific kinds of experiments (look in our freezer, hehe) and horseback riding. Both are in the 3rd grade. Val enjoys reading, walking on the beach, and a good conversation with friends. I enjoy tennis, running and a good conversation as well. I am a pastor who just recently planted a new church in Columbia, MD, with another pastor. We are a racially diverse pastoral team that desires to reach this diverse community with the gospel. Just to clarify, Val and I are Caucasian and our children are African American.

2. What initially motivated you to adopt? Continue reading