It’s How We…Wednesday! Once a month, Erika and I host a link up where we talk about how we (fill in the blank). We’ll share and then we’re hoping you’ll link up and share too…because I LOVE learning new things from you ladies! So far this year, we’ve discussed…
JANUARY: Our New Year’s Resolutions.
FEBRUARY: How we take care of ourselves
MARCH: How we mom fail and live to talk about it
APRIL: How we spring clean/organize
MAY: How we transition our wardrobe
JUNE: How we plan our summer vacations
JULY: How we motivate our kids
AUGUST: How we pack lunches
SEPTEMBER: How we FALL!
OCTOBER: How we meal plan!
And today, we’re talking about HOW WE…TALK TO KIDS ABOUT ADOPTION!
Erika and I picked adoption for November because it’s National Adoption Awareness Month!
On Sunday at church, we honored this month with Orphan Sunday. Guys, I cried. I know that everyone isn’t called to actually adopt a child, but friends, WE CAN ALL HELP KIDS THAT DON’T HAVE FAMILIES. I really hope that you’re prayerfully considering adoption, but even if it’s off the table for you, there are so many things you can do. There are so many wonderful charities and organizations helping kids across the globe who are orphaned and need care. One of my favorites is Morning Star Foundation. I just really encourage you to think about how you can personally do something for the over 140,000,000 orphans in the world.
Now, I’m not saying we know the right/wrong things to say about adoption over at our house. I think only time will tell as they get older, but this post is going to share what we do. Now, if you have kiddos that are adopted and are now adults or are an adult who was adopted, I would LOVE to hear what you have to say about this. I’ve said this before, but the Lord really blessed me with several really close relationships as a teen/young adult with people who were adopted, and I think my friendships with them and their parents really spoke volumes into my life. I think there are two ways of looking at this topic starting with…
…HOW DID WE PREPARE OUR BIO KIDS FOR ADOPTION?
Can we take a moment to look at that sweet picture of Kensington and Smith?! This was Christmas 2014. We left for China to adopt Ashby just a few days after Christmas, so this holiday was so bittersweet. We were excited about leaving to get her and (finally!!!) bring her home, but we were sad that she wasn’t with us that year at Christmas.
Anyway…for us, talking to Kensington and Smith was easier than for some people because they never knew life before adoption was a part of our family. I knew I wanted to adopt when they were just 2 and 10 months old (it took Andrew a little longer to feel the call), so the conversation was out there all the time for them to hear and be a part of. Once Andrew and I both knew we needed to expand our family via adoption, we were always talking to our kids about how we were going to go get a new baby and bring her home because she didn’t have a family and we wanted her to be a part of our family. That, of course, prompted questions about why she didn’t have a family, and honestly, we would say we didn’t know. We would say we didn’t know why she didn’t have a family in China, but we were so happy that God was letting us be her forever family. This worked for us. They were little, they were excited, they knew she didn’t have a family and that they were going to get to be her family which made them really happy.
We also engaged the kiddos with so much of the adoption process. We told them when we were mailing off important papers, when we were going to get our fingerprints filed, when we were picking out her new clothes/bedding/blankets/etc. We talked a lot about going to China together to get her (taking them to China was HUGE for us!), and anytime we had a celebration or holiday, we would incorporate Ashby into the conversation. Right before we got her, we let the kids each pick out a toy for her…we really just tried to always engage them in the process. Now, adoption is just a part of normal life for my kids. When they talk about growing up and having families of their own, they always mention how many kids will be bio and how many adopted (all three big kids do this) without any prompting from us…it’s just what their family culture is like, so it’s completely natural for them (things could change as they get older, but for now, that’s how they are).
I feel like I need to qualify this next statement by reminding you that my two big kids can be total messes…but friends, I must give both Kensington and Smith (AND GOD!) credit because they have embraced adoption one hundred percent. Never, not one single time, have they even made the slightest negative remark about how adoption has affected their lives. I take zero credit for that. The Lord has really worked on their little hearts.
I feel like the next part of this is HOW DO WE TALK TO OUR ADOPTED KIDDOS ABOUT ADOPTION?
My friends who are adopted have always told me to just make it a part of every day/normal conversation, so that’s what we’re doing.
I was worried that adoption wouldn’t come up a lot, but you know what? We organically fit it into every day life quite a bit. I think the number one thing I try and do is not make their birth parents sound like they did anything wrong. We have no idea why they were given up. None. Zero. I have no clue why they weren’t able to keep their girls, but I just bet you it was the hardest decision they’ve ever made. I do not take that lightly. I fully want my girls to know that their parents were heroes because they carried them to term, had them and left them places they knew they would be found. I also want my girls to know that we pray for their birth families and are hopeful that one day, we can be united in Heaven. Isn’t that a cool thought? Any time I bring up their mamas, I say that I bet they are beautiful inside and out because my girls are beautiful inside and out too. I really believe in my heart that these sweet ladies (and daddies too!) loved their daughters so very much.
There is probably a fine line between talking too much about adoption (and making them feel different/set apart/not a Shull) and not talking enough about it. I just pray that I’m doing just the right amount. Since they were little, we have shown them the videos of us going to China to get them. We always talk about how our family didn’t feel complete and God told us that our daughter was waiting for us in China, so we went to get her. We talk about how when they were born, God knew we were going to be a family. We just try and make them feel super loved by both us and their birth families. The topic really does present itself organically, and we just go from there. Madeley is left handed (Ashby is too…but not by choice), and the other day, Ashby commented on Madeley writing with her left hand and I said “I bet her mommy in China is left handed too”…that started a nice little conversation about their China mommies.
Anyway…I’ll have Ashby and Madeley write a blog post in 2048 and let you know if we did a good job or royally screwed them up. I truly hope it’s the first one.
I am SO THANKFUL that so many of our friends have adopted too! This pic was from Madeley’s birthday party last month where FOUR out of the seven little girls were adopted. MORE THAN HALF! Isn’t that CRAZY! And out of the remaining three girls, two of them have adopted sisters. WHOA?! Friends, this was not designed by us, God did it. He has really brought us to a place where adoption is a big part of the community which makes our girls feel more at home.
So, now I need your comments if you’re adopted or your adult child is. We honor and recognize their birth mamas, talk about how much our family needed them, talk about China, talk about how much they’re loved and talk about God’s divinity in the whole situation…but I’m sure we need to be doing other things as well.
And, if you’re in the process of adopting, are adopted or have adopted kiddos, please join my adoption Facebook group!! It is such an encouraging and inspiring little community. You will love it!
Next month, our last HOW WE…WEDNESDAY is HOW WE DO ALL THINGS CHRISTMAS. That already excites me!
One last thing before I sign off. Today, Ashby is having her 15th procedure. It’s her 16th surgery and 19th time to be put under general anesthesia in less than four years and you know what? It doesn’t get easier. Please be praying for our brave girl as she handles this today and the rest of the week. God bless all of you. I know you’re praying for our family, and I sincerely love you for it. xo