Saturday, December 8, 2012

Stepping Out in Faith

Earlier this week, we celebrated our little daughter's seventh birthday.  I can hardly believe that it's been a solid seven years since that beautiful moment when they placed that tiny squalling baby on my chest, when everyone commented on the generous amount of hair on her darling peanut-shaped head.  Seven years have passed since I first cradled that tiny pink bundle in my arms, since I sat in a hospital bed and watched as her daddy changed his very first diaper ever, little limbs flailing every which way, creating a bigger mess than the one that needed to be changed. 

Yes, seven years have flown by since that nerve-wracking snowy car ride, the one when I sat in back and checked every few seconds to make sure she was still breathing.  And those first few hours when I couldn't believe they would just send us out the door with a tiny little person that we had no idea how to care for. 

My first baby.  The first piece of my heart that left my body and took on a life all its own.

And it's been seven years now since I first had to let go of my previous belief that I was in control of anything.

I wasn't in control of whether or not I could nurse this baby, of the weight she would or would not gain from one appointment to the next, of the jaundice that forced her to be lit up like a glow-worm for days, or the constant blood draws needed to check those dangerously high bilirubin numbers.  I wasn't in control of how long she would sleep at one time, how much she would cry or spit up, or when a blow-out diaper would put a wrench in my plans for the day.  And as I fell into a routine of checking in on my little baby daughter every hour to make sure she was still breathing, I was painfully aware that I was not even in control of the next breath she would take.

I had to place her in God's hands and learn to trust in Him.

Having a baby required us to step out in faith.

When our daughter was only a few weeks old, we felt the pull from God to pursue adopting Mr. J and Miss M, who were foster children in my sister and brother-in-law's home.  In all honesty, it seemed like a really outrageous idea, considering that we had just given birth to our first child and were perfectly content with our new little family.  And these children had been through so much; we knew they would be challenging for anyone to raise, much less young, inexperienced parents like us.  But God's will for our family was blatantly strong and evident, and the pull would not diminish no matter how much we tried to reason it away.  So we began our next journey in faith and trust, knowing full well we didn't have all the answers.

When the kids came to live with us, our baby daughter was almost eleven months old, and we learned pretty quickly that we were not in control of these new children, either.  We weren't in control of whether a tantrum would cause us to be several hours late for Thanksgiving dinner, of whether or not requesting that a child brush her teeth would result in hours of rage, or if we would be hit, kicked or bitten by a raging child.  We couldn't control whether or not our son had a melt-down at school or kicked the teacher's desk, or whether he would steal money from the girl he sat next to in class.  And as some of these behaviors and attitudes threatened to dominate our lives and our family, we became painfully aware that no matter what we did, we were not in control of whether or not these traumatized children ever began to change or heal.

We had to place them in God's hands and learn to trust in Him. 

Adoption required us to step out in faith.

And now, we're being stretched and tested yet again.  Coinciding with puberty, our traumatized son's internalized rage and fear has finally caught up with him, and he is out of control.  First in our home, then in a mental hospital, and now at Juvenile Detention, where he is currently locked in his room because of his violent outbursts.  He continues to insist that he'll kill us if he comes home, and so obviously, it isn't safe for him to be here, either. 

We want him to get help.  We want him to learn to take responsibility for his actions.  We want him to be forced to work hard on getting himself to a place where he can even begin to let God heal the hurt that lies deep inside of him.

And we feel that we've found the best option: a highly structured, highly disciplined, military-style therapeutic boarding school that is built on the truth of God's Word. 

Getting him to this school before his court hearing on Wednesday would cancel the hearing and essentially drop the charges that are against him, which are severe enough that they will otherwise follow him into adulthood.  It would also keep him out of the juvenile criminal system for at least another year, giving Mr. J the chance to allow God to work in his life before then and to make better choices upon his return home.  Our hope would be that our son would come back from this school with the desire to be a part of our family again and to finally begin to work on healing the wounds from his past.  But we realize that we are not in control of his choices, his actions, or in how much he allows God to influence his life.

We aren't even in control of whether or not we can afford to send him to this school.

Here is the struggle of trust and faith that we're currently facing: our church family has offered to pay the admission fees and the first month's tuition.  They have also set up a fund within the church to continue raising money for tuition, but there is no guarantee that the $2,400 per month tuition will be there each month when it is due.  We are currently strapped and have very little income to spare, yet would be required to sign a contract stating that our son would be at the school for at least one full year.

So the question we're asking ourselves today is
                             "How much do we trust God?"

Do we just leave our son in the juvenile court system and allow them to do with him as they choose?  We don't believe this gives Mr. J the best chance to succeed.  It feels more like giving up and allowing him to start his life as a criminal at age thirteen.

Or do we place the needed tuition solely in God's hands, knowing that He is in control and trusting that the money will miraculously be there in the fund each and every month? 

Please pray with us for God's wisdom and clarity in this situation.  We only have a couple of days to decide, and we struggle with the possible financial ramifications for our family.

It's really hard, this stepping out in faith.


  1. It is totally irresponsible to sign a paper, saying you will pay these military-style school fees for a YEAR, when you cannot afford to do so.

    That's not stepping out in faith - it's irresponsible. You love your son, you want your son to have the best chance of success... but aren't willing to put a penny of your own towards it. If you loved your son, you'd pay the fees.

    Hopefully a supernatural being will help you out with the cash. Would you sign a lease on an apartment if you knew you didn't have the money to pay the rent each month? Would sign a contract to lease a car for several years if you had no way of paying it? What on earth makes you feel entitled to sign a contract you can't afford?

    By all means, get help for YOUR son who is YOUR responsibility. Don't you have an emergency fund? Decent health insurance? You adopted the boy from foster care -- do you not receive or have access to adoption support monies?

    1. clearly have not opened yourself up to adoption and have not laid everything in your life down, sacrificing it all, for a hurting child. Many, many children are returned to foster care, because the adoptive families are not able to handle the multitude of issues that these broken children bring with them. Most are not only broken by the circumstances of their birth home, but also by our broken, failing foster care system. When adoptive parents reach out for help the supposed support services are no where to be found. And, if you are referring to the adoption subsidy, you do realize that it is less than what I would pay to put a child in daycare. On average, $100 a week. That does not even cover the expenses of raising a child. Nor is it supposed to. It is only meant to supplement, but parents with children that have mood disorders, FAS, etc...and especially reactive attachment disorders cannot even begin to touch the expenses incurred with the amount given.

      What is remarkable is that Lisa and Scott have not returned either child to the foster care system. When pressed against the wall parents often see that as the only way, primarily to protect the other children in their home, but instead they turn to GOD and trust Him to meet every need. They love their children, regardless of how they entered into the family, wholeheartedly and they have done an amazing job with every one of them.

      I am glad for Lisa, her openness and honesty about this side of adoption. Every child deserves to be loved, but our system is set up to fail the families willing to step in and to do just that.

      I've talked with many adoption workers and only one has ever expressed that he might adopt. That is because of his love for Christ, regardless of his knowledge of how difficult it is. Every other one has become nervous and found ways to side step that question, because they get paid for every child they adopt out. They know that the system is broken and that no help is available. The book that they hand parents on post adoption resources is a joke...they don't really fulfill what they promise. No, most adoption workers know that adopting foster children is more difficult than parents could ever imagine, but they don't generally share that truth to equip parents. To them this isn't as much about the child as it is about the dollar...and the ultimate victims of the failings of the system are the original victims...the children.

      Now, when you adopt foster care children and love them like Scott and Lisa...when you lay down your own needs, wants, life for them and fall upon your knees every day in prayer for them...then even the most terrible circumstances are outweighed by the sweet moments of hope that peak through and the ever so small baby steps forward to healing. With God all things are possible...including the funding for a program that can help their hurting son.

  2. I think your title is your answer to your own question. Lifting you up right now for the peace of God to be upon you as your dealing w/ all of this.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. Despite the heartache it produces in me, it has been so encouraging to me as I struggle with these very issues of relinquishing the idea of control as I care for my 23 month old little girl and eight-week-old son, and pray about the possibility of adopting siblings in the future. I am so thankful that God has promised to care for you and provide for you according to the riches of his glory in Jesus. I am praying for you right now as I type.