what if?


we were getting ready for school one morning a few months ago.  i was brushing maddie’s hair.

“what if we find a sister and she has a brother?  would we adopt him too?”, she asked.

i was a bit shocked.  “um.  wow.  uh, yeah.  i guess we would.  yes, we would.”

the thought had never crossed my mind.  she wanted a sister.  in my mind it ended there.  many ‘what ifs’ have entered my thoughts since the possibility of a second adoption came about.  but a brother?  no.  coming to us with a sister?  no.  but could i tell my sweet girl no?  we did keep she and her brothers together.

i said a quick prayer, “Lord, would You call us to siblings?  again?  if so, let me know.”

we’ve done the sibling thing before.  we have a bit of an idea of how to handle that.  it would make sense, for us to take in siblings again.

i took the kids to school.  i prayed more.  i asked the Lord to make it clear, to make us open.  josh and i talked that night, both of us finding it honestly kind of comical.  it would make sense for God to call us to a sibling group adoption again.  it’s crazy, but it makes sense.

so now we’re halfway through our pre-service training.  and we’re getting closer to a second adoption(though we still have a long way to go).  and we’re wondering what the Lord has planned for us.  and when our social worker asks us what we think we’re able to handle,  we’ll tell her,  “we’d like to find a sister.  and if she has a brother, we’ll adopt him too.”



preservice training 903

preservice training 903~the effects of child abuse or neglect on child development

none of this is new to me.

i learned about it all in college.  working toward a degree in child development, i kind of had to learn this stuff.  i learned about it all again as i was training to become a social worker, the kind that works with abused and neglected kids.  i learned about it all again as i was being licensed to become a foster/adoptive parent, the kind that fosters and adopts abused and neglected kids.

the first time around, in college, i had no idea why i was learning these things, but they were interesting to me.  i liked learning about brain development-how the brain is stimulated, how the brain is hindered.

the second time around, i knew i was relearning so i could write case plans, request therapy, give foster parents and birth parents an idea as to what is or isn’t happening with their child’s development.

the third time around i knew i was relearning and adding to my knowledge so i could help an abused or neglected child in my home.  i had no idea who that would be, or what they would need.  there wasn’t much substance to my learning.  no name on my lips or face in my mind as i processed.

this time, it’s totally different.  there are three names on my lips.  there are three faces in my mind.  there are three little lives closely attached to my heart.

it hurts this time.  i know what it means this time.  i see the effects this time more clearly than i’ve ever seen them.  this abuse, this neglect, it has effected my children.  my children.

90% of brain development happens between the ages of 0-5.  in the womb to 5 years of age.  most parents do whatever they can to promote brain development.  parents who are abusive and neglectful are often times doing many things that hinder brain development.  therefore they are also hindering physical, emotional, and social development.

the downside to this-abused and neglected kids have brains that are challenged.

the upside-neuroelasticity-changes in neural pathways and synapses which are due to changes in behavior, environment and neural processes.

or as our trainer put it, ‘the brain is fearfully and wonderfully made’.  God can change it.  damage can be reversed.  gaps can be filled.  connections can be made.

it’s true.  i’ve watched it happen.  i’ve seen the miracle of a changing brain.  i’ve seen the effects of abuse and neglect on the development of my children.  and i’ve seen them bounce back because the abuse and neglect has ended.

it’s all a miracle.  they are fearfully and wonderfully made.  they are ok.  they will be ok.

“for You created my inmost being;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
i praise You because i am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Your works are wonderful,
i know that full well.
my frame was not hidden from You
when i was made in the secret place,
when i was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in Your book
before one of them came to be.”
~psalm 139:13-16

i know what’s at stake

on my way to training i was feeling nervous.  i wondered if i’d be emotional and totally soaking things in.   or would i maybe be disconnected?   i’ve been down this road before.  i’ve heard the stories and the statistics.  i was a social worker for crying out loud.  i’ve been parenting adopted children for almost 7 years.   i’ve heard it all.  and then i thought,

oh, i know what’s at stake this time.

last time around, it was very much about me.  i was infertile.  i wanted to be a mother.  i knew there were children who needed a mother and i could be that to them.  we could have a family.  we’d be complete.  it’d be done.  this time it’s different.

this time, i know my life is about to be turned upside down and my heart inside out.  this time it isn’t about me becoming a mother.  this time it’s about saving some lives.  this time it’s about giving a hope and a future.  this time it’s about stepping in and saying, “it stops here.  the abuse, the neglect, the cycle, the uncertainty, the moving, the changing.  this is it. you’re home.”

yes, it was about all those things the first time too.  but this time the desire to be a mother is replaced even more by the desire to follow Jesus once again into the depths of pain and trauma and separation and abuse and neglect.  i know what’s at stake because i’ve seen it.  i live with it daily.  i know what life could be like for my kiddos if they weren’t here.  it scares me.  it breaks my heart.

i can’t, knowing what i know, seeing what i’ve seen, stand on the sidelines.  i’ve got to be in the game.  on the field.  fighting the fight.  standing up for the fatherless.  caring for the orphan.  just like Jesus entered my messy life and has stayed in my life, i need to be willing to enter into the lives of children in foster care and stay in their lives.  i need to be willing to let my heart explode with love, the same way God’s heart explodes with love for me.  and i need to be willing to let my heart break under the weight of the sadness of what life was like for the precious little ones who have been so wounded.

after our introductions tuesday night, the trainer started our class with these statistics:

1 in every 4 girls has been sexually abused

1 in every 7 boys has been sexually abused

50% of kids in foster care have PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)

he reminded us that “these aren’t just cute little kids, these are kids that have been through a lot”.  my thought on my way, about knowing what’s at stake, was confirmed.  there’s a lot at stake.  am i willing to walk away?  am i willing to pretend it’s not there?  that i can’t see it?  no.  i’m running straight into it because i know what’s at stake.



prayer requests:
~that more people would consider entering into the messy but beautiful world of caring for orphans
~that God would be protecting and caring for whoever He has planned to join our family and the rest of the orphans waiting for forever families
~that God would continue to prepare our hearts for whoever He has planned to join our family
~that we would be able to prepare our home well
~that we would learn exactly what we need to learn in training and be able to speak from experience when it would be helpful
~that we would continue to faithfully take the steps God places before us

hi, i’m josh and this is my wife kirsten


last night started with some announcements~the cancellation policy, if you miss a class how to make it up at another location, don’t forget to sign in when you get here, etc.  then boom, intros.  “josh, tell us about yourself!”

we were in the front row (yes, we are those people) so it was easy to call on us to get things started.  “hi, i’m josh and this is my wife kirsten. we adopted a sibling group of three, six years ago, and we’re here to adopt again.”  there were a few gasps at the mention of a sibling group of three. we’re used to that, we get it often.  there was a thanks from the trainer and then on to the next couple.  “hi, i’m josh and this my wife kristen.”  kristen.  no joke.  everyone laughed.  we could hardly believe it!



it’s a two letter switch-a-roo.

busy day ahead so more to come later!