Category Archives: Adoption


There was a moment when I realized that China inspires me more than almost anything else.  Not just China–adoption.  I’ve considered myself a writer for a long time and I’m almost always writing.  It was a sobering moment when I realized that I write the most during hard times.

I haven’t said it a lot, but I said it in this post (and shared this quote).  Adoption is hard.


It’s one of the hardest, most painful things I have ever seen.  Adoption is God’s plan B after man’s rebellion.  Children should not be orphaned, parents should not be abusive, babies should not be lost.  But they are, because the world is broken–we broke it, mankind.  (It is not, and never has been, God’s fault.)  Adoption is like the cross.  Adoption is recklessly hoping that we can pick up the broken pieces of what we shattered and trampled and fuse them together.  We can.  I believe that.  But it doesn’t eliminate the pain when things break, when people die, when people disappear, when important stories fade into the mist and nobody can explain to us why things happened the way they did.  If “adoption is a redemptive response to tragedy”, it must start with tragedy.  It still hurts.

And yet……

And yet I get most inspired to do what I love when I’m smack in the middle of it.  Why?  Why does pain inspire me?  Why does God choose to meet me in the brokenness, the squalor and the slime, and the mind-boggling heart-ripping pain?

I noticed this the last time I went to China (a year ago, this week).  Adoption, this insane, beautiful, painful, humbling, humiliating adventure, sparks my imagination in a strange way.

Why is this?

God created the world to be perfect, “good”.  So why do I find so much beauty in the brokenness?  Why do I find Him, so often, on the ground in the dirt?  God gave me this gift, and I believe, with all my heart, that I am to use it to glorify Him.

But then–

Then why does it thrive on pain??

I say we’re supposed to run to pain.  I run to it myself.  But then, like a regular hypocrite, I recoil again and thrash against it.  I cry, and whine, and scream for answers, and wonder why God won’t heal my cracking heart.  I press my hot face against my tear-stained pillow in the dark and realize, even amid my complaining, that my mind is still going–the gears are turning.  I’m going to have to write.  I collapse onto the ashes and smoldering cigarette-butts.  I nurse my bleeding fingers after pounding my fists against the rubbish piles we’ve made of forgotten bottle-caps and broken glass.  And again and again my cut, sweaty, blistering hands grope for my pen.  I thrive on pain.

But do I really?

“God is near to the brokenhearted.”

The human heart was made to be whole and beautiful. It was created in the image of God.  His presence is where we are filled and inspired; we cannot thrive on brokenness.  But the world is broken up and bloody, and God runs to the suffering.  He picks up the ends we snapped off in rebellion and pride, and He fuses them together; He gathers up what we’ve beaten and broken and makes them new.  He runs to the pain, He staggers to the cross and pours His own blood into our mess.  He accepts our brokenness and makes something wonderful out of it.

We do not thrive on suffering.

God runs to the pain, and when we run to it, we meet Him there.


My Mom read me an article recently, that an adoptee wrote about things adopted children often struggle with.  To be honest, it was a pretty hard read.  I knew I believed in the power of listening to others and hurting alongside them when you could do nothing else–but somehow I felt something in me shutting down to the heartbreak.

I’ve experienced pain in many forms, but this was pain I could avoid, walk away from.  Someone else’s cross, I could choose to carry–or not.  You might think I had already made this decision, but adoption isn’t a moment in time, it’s a journey.  It isn’t my consent on a legal document, it’s my promise to always, always, always accept you.  Sure, these kids were my siblings–that didn’t guarantee a natural, Christ-like love on the spot.

(Who am I kidding, is love ever natural?  Yes and no–because we’re all sinful, but we’re also all made in God’s image.)

We were family, whether I liked it or not at that point, but that didn’t mean I had to bear their pain.  I was faced, as I so often am, with the unexpected choice.  There was no question in my mind as to what was right–Jesus bore our pain, our sin, our shame, in ways I can never identify with.  He wants us to do the same.  He wants us to care, He wants us to show up.  He can do the rest.

I think there is something God is trying to teach me about pain, because shortly after this our pastor started a sermon series about the cross.

What if there’s gain in feeling someone else’s pain, just because we can?

Jesus said to take up our crosses daily and follow Him.  I think he also wants us to take up others’ crosses, and help them bear them.

This Good Friday, are we willing to look at the cross, as it truly was–painful, ugly, shameful, and unjust?  Are we willing to look at pain?

“Adoption is wonderful and beautiful and the greatest blessing I have ever experienced.  Adoption is also difficult and painful.  Adoption is a beautiful picture of redemption.  It is the Gospel in my living room.  And sometimes, it’s just hard.

As a parent, it’s hard not to know when your daughter took her first steps or what her first word was or what she looked like in kindergarten.  It’s hard not to know where she slept and whose shoulder she cried on and what the scar on her eyebrow is from.  It’s hard to know that for ten years yours was not the shoulder she cried on and you were not the mommy she hugged.

As a child, it’s hard to remember your biological parents’ death, no matter how much you love your new mom.  It’s hard to have your mom be a different color than you because inevitably people are going to ask why.  It’s hard that your mom wasn’t there for all the times you had no dinner and all the times you were sick and all the times you needed help with your homework.  It’s hard when you have to make up a birthday.  It’s hard when you can’t understand the concept of being a family forever yet, because your first family wasn’t forever.

Adoption is a redemptive response to tragedy that happens in this broken world.  And every single day, it is worth it, because adoption is God’s heart.” (72)

Kisses from Katie, by Katie Davis (emphasis mine)


P.S. I would recommend this Thanksgiving post one of my fellow bloggers posted recently, it is beautiful.

Zai Jian, Xi’an

The lights along the runway flew by in the darkness and the engines roared.  Zai jian, Xi’an, I whispered.  I’ll come back someday.  I have only been there two weeks in my entire life, yet leaving still hurt so much.  I have learned to love this city.

Staring out the airplane window and feeling that tug on my heart, I finally realized how much this experience could hurt for the children finding a new family, and a new home.

For the first time I caught a glimpse of what it must be like to feel the rumble of a newly-awakened airplane under your feet and watch the only ground you’d ever walked fall away beneath you.  I watched a city turn to out-lined skyscrapers and lines of slowly-flowing headlights–and wondered what it must feel like to see your home fade into a dark sky filled with stars, far beneath your feet.  I leaned my face against the double pane of glass and let this beautiful city and these beautiful kids tear a piece of my heart away.  I watched the constellations on the ground below me vanish in the distance and give way to pitch-black night, broken only by the flash of lights on my own wings.

I have heard it said that the first transition is like a kind of death for adopted children.  I know I shall never fully understand what this experience is like for them~~but as I watched the gleaming lights of Xi’an vanish into the night beneath me, I felt something inside of me die.

The Gospel In My Living Room

In her book Kisses from Katie, Katie Davis wrote, “Adoption is the gospel in my living room.”  I know I have posted that before, but I’m realizing how wrong it feels out of context.  The full quote doesn’t sound as nice, but there’s a reason Katie wrote every word of:

In an effort to be real, I will tell you: It was hard. . .  [Adoption is] the greatest blessing I have ever experienced.  Adoption is also difficult and painful.  Adoption is the gospel in my living room.  And sometimes, it’s just hard. (72)

I haven’t talked about the hard side of adoption here that much, mostly because I want to protect my siblings.  I don’t want others, people who can’t understand how hard their road to family was, to judge them.  Because of that I’m not sharing specifics.  But I’ve been avoiding posting about the grit of adoption, and I feel like I need to face it.

Adoption is like the gospel, but that doesn’t necessarily mean what we want it to.  When we think of the gospel, we like to think of nice things–forgiveness, healing, life.  Crowds of people with enough bread and fish to eat, men raised from the dead, women healed, children sitting happily in Jesus’ lap.

And that’s all very cozy, but there’s more to it than that.  Some parts of the gospel are not so pleasant, and some parts are downright nasty.  The gospel is rough; it is blood, and sweat, and tears.

The gospel is stains, and scars, and grime under my finger nails.  Redemption is my lungs constricted with sobs, and dust clinging to my sweaty palms.  Adoption is jumping ship and walking on the water, and realizing the waves are tall and the wind is strong, and feeling my faith flicker like a candle caught in a draft.

Adoption is not running to the pain–adoption is bringing the pain home with me, into the stronghold that was my only safe place.

It took me so long to fully understand how every adoption has and always will start with tragedy and heart-tearing sacrifice.  I can look into a child’s eyes–wrap my fingers around five smaller ones–and whisper yes, because someone looked into the same wounded face, answered no, and opened her hands.  My joy and my gain is, and must be, tainted by their grief and loss.

Adoption is a kind of warfare; against pain and shame, and injustice and abandonment.

“Adoption is redemption.  It is costly, exhausting, expensive and outrageous.  Buying back lives costs so much. When God set out to redeem us, it killed him.”  –Derek Loux

Adoption will cost you.  It will hurt you.  In a way, it will kill you.

Adoption will leave you on your knees, breathless; staring into Jesus’ face, that shines with radiant light.

throwing dirt

With all of us in China, I remember wondering if I would ever get a turn to hold my new brother.  If he had even noticed me yet.  (It’s really not my fault that big brothers are more interesting.)  Reason told me that we were his family for good, and there would be time.

But in my heart I knew that we only had for ever, and that would never feel like enough.

The rest of our lives never feels like enough.  That’s why I believe in dropping “important stuff” and playing.  That’s why I believe in loving like there’s no tomorrow.

That’s why I said yes when Mom asked me to play with Michael today.  That’s why I said yes when Little Brother suggested we go outside.

So what was going to be a lets-relax-and-read-a-story turned into bundling up and going out, hauling chunks of firewood and breaking up dirt with a metal spade.  We built a mouse-house, with logs and dirt.  We dug a hole in the ground and made a roof over it, and filled it with dill from the herb garden for the mice to eat.  Naturally the game ended with Michael deconstructing it.

Brothers are awesome.

Thank you for playing with me, Michael; and being my baby brother, even though you’re so grown up, and you’re probably smarter than me anyway.  And thank you for teaching me how important it is, once in a while, to pretend there’s no such rules as no throwing dirt and don’t run with sticks.

Catching up. . .

. . . because I seriously need to!

To begin with, my big sister is in Sicily!  And she’s going to be there all summer!  I seriously don’t know how I’m going to survive, but I guess I’ve gotten this far (exactly one week, to be precise), and she responds to my e-mails, because she’s awesomeness.

(Prepare for this post to be a lot of scattered randomness!)

Calling all you sweet Omaha people, I’m doing a fundraiser for our adoption!  You can read about it on the family blog here!  I’m selling made-from-scratch, chocolate chip scones.  I’ve gotten rave reviews on them at every party and gathering I’ve made them for.

We’ve been listening to this song a lot lately:

“Raise your thoughts a little higher,
Use your words to inspire,
Joy will fall like rain,
When you speak life with the things you say”

Little Brother loves it. 🙂  We’ve been saying “speak life” instead of “speak nicely” or something like that, and it works well.  Oh the magic of making something a song!

Plus, I had the best ever Middle Earth geek moment a few weeks ago, and I had to tell you all about it: I walked down to a playground in our neighborhood recently–because I have a “thing” with playgrounds–and wandered around and climbed on top of monkey-bars and walked on fence-rails.  What big kids do at parks.  It had rained the day before so there were some lovely puddles to splash in.  I was just paddling around when I looked down and there, half-buried in the sand, at the bottom of a puddle, gleaming in the sunshine, was a ring.  A ring.  I just stared.  Then poked it with my Aragorn boot.  Then picked it up.  It was silver–a little disappointing, but still cool.  Though slightly creepy.  I put it in my pocket and brought it home with me. 🙂

Happy Wednesday, folks!  What have you been up to?