Monday, November 21, 2011

Adoption: Eli Tariku Palmer

These are my friends, Jon and Anna Palmer, and their precious son, Eli Tariku.  We met Jon and Anna at seminary and lived in the same building with them - fun times!!  Their son has been home for 6 months now - this is something she wrote while she was in Ethiopia, waiting for their son's adoption to be complete.

I Don’t Want to Be a Gadarene (Matthew 8)

Throughout his life Jesus performed miraculous signs and wonders - evidence that he was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Often people responded with awe, and some chose to follow him. But when Jesus sent demons out of two violent men in a cemetery in the region of the Gadarenes, the people responded with fear – they begged Jesus to leave.

It seems bizarre that the Gadarenes would prefer to have two  violent, demon-possessed men hanging out in their cemetery rather than to have Jesus hanging around town. 

What were they afraid of? That Jesus would cause them to lose more livestock?  That he might drastically change something in their day to day lives? Did his compassion for the town-crazies scare them? Offend them? Confuse them? Challenge them?

I wonder what the Gadarenes missed because they asked Jesus to leave town. Surely he had more signs and wonders up his sleeve. There had to be other needs in the region he could have met, other people he could have healed, and a message of salvation to proclaim.

I know there have been times in my life when I was confronted with Jesus – who He is and what He stands for - and I was scared. My life, though far from perfect, was comfortable. Despite the fact that I had my own inner-crazies, I would have preferred that Jesus left me alone. I didn’t want to be offended, confused, and most certainly not challenged.

There have been times I turned into a Gadarene and sent Jesus away. So I can’t help but be grateful that God relentlessly pursued my husband and me as he called us to adopt our son from Ethiopia.

I can’t imagine missing it. Yes, it was a confusing call on our lives – this isn’t the “normal” way to start a family. Yes, it was challenging – mentally, spiritually, emotionally and even financially. But mostly, it turns out, it was a challenge to trust in His faithfulness – to do away with fear - and to trust. All along the way He has proven himself faithful (shocking, right?).

Now, looking back (a whole 3 weeks), I can’t imagine our life without him or his life without us. Many people will think that God’s major purpose behind this adoption was to provide a family for our son – and that’s partially true. But now I know that we needed him and we needed the process – of trusting Jesus, of yielding to his will in our lives,  of learning not to respond out of fear. And I needed the visible, tangible example of adoption in our lives to remind me that I don’t want to be a Gadarene.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Adoption: Sweet Mr. Russ Payne

Meet my best friend, Meg, and her husband, Matt, and their beautiful, precious, oh-so-sweet little boy, Russ.  I have know Meg my entire life...seriously, since I was just a few weeks old - we're both "Betty's Kids".  I love their adoption story, because it is such an amazing answered prayer.  I can't tell you how many times I prayed for Matt and Meg - begged and pleaded with God to make Meg a mommy - and how many tears I shed with her and for her during this time.  We had always done everything together and we needed to be mommies together.  When I had a missed call from her at 8:15 one August morning, I knew exactly what she was calling to say...

Matt and I met and began dating in 2002. One of our initial conversations in getting to know one another was our desire for children one day…4 to be exact. After marrying in 2005, we wanted to wait a few years before starting our family. We have always believed in trusting our faithful Father, but it wasn’t until our journey began that we found exactly what it means to blindly trust.

Our journey began in 2007. I found out through a routine examination that I had (and continue to suffer with) endometriosis and complications of ovarian cysts. After several treatments, operations, rounds of Lupron injections, and months worth of Clomid, my heart began to move toward adoption. The pain that followed each month of unsuccessfully being pregnant began to be more than we could bear. Matt, on the other hand, was not ready to consider adoption as our only option to have a child. At that time, we began to pray that God would move both of our hearts, and we would faithfully wait until we came to a decision together.

In October 2009 our pastor delivered a sermon in which he used the passage Galatians 4:3-7. The Holy Spirit began to move and Matt’s heart changed toward adoption. We are all adopted children through Jesus Christ, and joint heirs to the Kingdom!! We met with our local social workers for the first time on November 28, 2009. The ball was rolling, and it was rolling quickly. It seems like the next few months flew by in a whirl of paperwork, doctor appointments, home visits, and background checks! During that time, we chose Love Basket, Inc. as our placing agency. Everything was falling into place…it was not IF we would have a baby, but WHEN!

Our final profile (a scrapbook of sorts that the birthparent(s) uses to choose the adoptive couple) was submitted mid April. All that was left to do was wait. Soon after, we bought nursery furniture, against the advice of our social workers. Their fear was that it would be too painful for us to walk by an empty nursery day after day. It was quite the opposite…I saw hope in the great blessing that the Lord was going to provide! The summer passed and my new school year began.

On August 16, 2010, our world changed forever. At 3:42 p.m., while sitting at my desk grading papers, I received a phone call from our social worker at Love Basket. She asked me if I was ready to meet our baby boy! We had been chosen!!!! It struck me that it had been the second time in my life that I was chosen for such an incredible gift; the first time for my salvation, and the second time to receive my precious baby. He had been born August 1, 2010…almost exactly nine months from the first meeting we had with our social workers to begin our journey. God’s plans are always far better than we can ever imagine!!!

We had three and a half days to prepare to go meet and receive our baby boy. We will never forget that week as long as we live. We saw the body of Christ at work. Our home was suddenly overflowing with everything that he would ever need….and SO much more! We began communicating with the family that had him in their home for cradle care. Mike and Carla Valet are forever in our hearts for taking care of our baby the first two weeks of his life. She saved every memento, so that I wouldn’t miss anything.

We arrived in Independence, MO late Friday night, August 20, 2010. The moments leading up to holding our baby for the first time were indescribable. I remember walking downstairs and seeing Carla holding him. My arms, that had ached for a child for so long, finally reached out and held my son, Russell (Russ) Bryan Payne, for the first time. That moment is forever engraved in our hearts.

We spent 5 days in MO waiting to receive our interstate compact in order to cross state lines back into TN. It was during that time that we met Russ’s birthmother. We had lunch with her, and she was able to see Russ for the first time. We are so thankful for the time we spent with her. We could see her love for him so clearly, and her willingness to give him the life that she couldn’t despite her own pain. I have never known anyone more courageous than she. We love her for loving Russ enough to want more for him.

Our son is now a vibrant, active, intelligent, beautiful 15 month-old. He is the joy of our lives. As parents, we are now able to better understand the great love that our Father has for us. He sent His one and only Son to die for us. The sacrificial love that has been given for us is a gift that is undeserved, yet so humbly received. We are so very thankful that the Lord chose us to endure this journey…it lead us to Russ.
Pray for Matt, Meg, and Russ as they start their journey to their next child!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Adoption: It Costs HOW MUCH?!

A lot.  A whole, whole lot from what I've approximately $30,000...give or take a few thousand depending on domestic or international (and which country you choose). But guess what - not a single family that I know who has set their heart and mind to following God's call to adopt...hasn't had every single penny provided.  Every. Single. Penny.  God calls and He provides.  So if you are considering adoption, but are afraid of the expense, check out some of the things, including fundraisers and grants, that my friends have done to help raise the extra cash:

- Sacrificial living - I think it starts here.
- Yard sales.  These seem to bring in some great money and it allows others to be a part of your adoption journey when you ask for donations for the sale and you let people know what you're raising money for at the sale. 

- T-shirts.  Families are designing adoption t-shirt, or having them designed, to sell - how cool!  This also helps to spread  the word to others about adoption as they see the t-shirt and start to ask questions.

- Personal donations.  Friends have given sacrificially to help fund others adoptions.

- Monthly raffle.  Each month an item, items, or service (like a photo session) is donated and then people can donate a certain amount of money to have their name entered in the drawing - lots of fun!! Do you have a special talent or service you could donate to an adoptive family?  Or can you make really cool stuff to donate? (my friend, Cole, does this over at - it's the 1st of EVERY month!)

- Car washes

- Spaghetti Supper (or a cookout or whatever food you like!)

- Paint Party - A friend who is adopting domestically (The Nease's @, is very artistic.  She did a painting party similar to what you do at Painting With A Twist....she led those in attendance through a great New Orleans painting, step by step.  Fun and productive!

- These are grants that I found from the Christian Alliance for Orphans web page:
  - ABBA Fund, Katelyn's Fund Orphan Ministry, Lifesong for Orphans

- Show Hope grant (from adoptive dad and Christian contemporary singer, Stephen Curtis Chapman)

- The Southern Baptist Convention has also recently started a grant for pastors who are adopting.

- Just Love Coffee - you can sell this brand of coffee and a portion of the proceeds go into your adoption fund.

- 147 Million Orphans - their website is; you can buy their merchandise at wholesale prices and sell them for retail prices if you are actively pursuing adoption.  Even if you're not, you can buy some great shirts and other products.  The best part?  All of the proceeds from anything you buy helps to feed, educate, and provide medicine for an orphan child!

- Do you have any other cool fundraising ideas? Please share them in the comment section!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Adoption: Easton Gilbert

Jacob and I actually met Chad when we first toured NOBTS and later met his wife, Cole, when we visited the church they were attending - where Chad is now the pastor.  They've just started their journy to their son.

We are one of many families that dispel the myth that you only adopt if you can't have your "own" kids. God has blessed us with two amazing kiddos (Ava is 3 and Grayson will be 1 in December). In fact, having our kids be a part of this adoption journey has been priceless (God even used our daughter to confirm His call . . . you can read the whole story on the blog!). We talked about adoption even before we were married and continued to keep the idea in our minds as our family grew, but it wasn't until this Spring that we heard God say, "Now!"

We are currently in the "paper chasing" phase of adoption, which can be a bit overwhelming and tedious. But we're keeping the end result in mind . . . a little boy, orphaned in Ethiopia will one day be an orphan no more. He'll be Easton Gilbert . . . my son!

We have just begun this journey, but I already feel like there is much I could say about orphan care and adoption. God has taught us so much and used this process to refine us, individually and as a couple, and let me tell you . . . it has been intense! A good intense though. Intensity that I wouldn't trade because it is making us more like Christ AND we get a precious addition to our family!

Our journey started when we looked at God's heart revealed in His Word and chose not to ignore it. From beginning to end, Scripture declares God's concern for the fatherless. We had only one response to this Truth . . . to ask God, "How do you want us to demonstrate YOUR heart for the orphan?" Truth is, most followers of Jesus tend to ask God IF they should be concerned about the orphan and then don't listen for the answer. The question isn't "Should I . . .?" but "How should I?"

This question changed everything for us. We were desperate to hear God speak because we wanted to be in His will. And He did. In big, God-sized ways that only He could get the glory for! God was clear that we were to adopt a little boy from Africa. (Side note: I don't believe that every follower of Jesus is called to adopt, but we are all called to care for the orphan in some capacity. It is what our Heavenly Father is concerned about so we should be concerned too.) For us, it was adoption. For others it could be raising awareness of the plight of orphans, sponsoring an orphanage in another nation, becoming foster parents, and the list goes on. There are many ways to be involved in orphan care . . . the point is to just take the step and join the cause in some way to make God's heart known!

When I asked Chad, my husband, how he would sum up our experience so far he said, "The joy of obedience is far greater than any of the fears or hardships that the journey brings." Couldn't have said it better myself! We have great confidence, not in ourselves, not in our parenting skills, not in our fundraising abilities, not even in our love for the son we've never met, but in Christ alone. God spoke. We are obeying. We are able to experience joy in the face of many unknowns because God promises to be with us. So no matter what is ahead . . . the heartache of waiting years to hold my son, the trauma and loss that we will have to help him process, the spiritual attacks (Adoption proclaims the Gospel in a beautiful way and Satan is wholeheartedly opposed to the Gospel . . . attacks WILL come.), the cost, the fears, the twists & turns of our journey . . . we know without a doubt that we are walking in obedience to our Father and that will be enough to get us through. He is enough!

My encouragement to you, whoever you are, is to ask the question, listen for the answer, then obey. God is truly the Father to the fatherless, but He gives us the privilege of being His hands and feet to "the least of these." We don't deserve this, but in His mercy and grace, God uses our surrender to Him to mold us into the image of Christ, to bring more joy into our lives than we could ever imagine, and to give hope and love to one of His little ones.

You can follow the Gilbert's adoption journey through their blog,  You can also read more about how and why they chose Ethiopia.  It's also in my bloglist to the right! Be sure to check it at the first of every month to enter the monthly raffle and get a chance to win something way cool!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Adoption: Somewhere

Somewhere today, there is a little girl who is having a really bad day - but she doesn't have a mommy or a daddy to come home to, to give her cookies and milk, and tell her everything will be okay.

Somewhere today, a little boy made an A on his homework - but there's not a refrigerator to hang it on.

Somewhere tonight, there will be a child who wakes up crying - but they won't have a mommy or daddy to come rock them, telling them it was just a bad dream, and make them feel safe again.

Somewhere today, there is a big room, with cribs lining the walls and filling the big open space in the center of the room, each one with a baby in it.  But it's eerily quiet.  Why? Because the babies have stopped crying, because there's no one to come comfort them even when they do.

Somewhere today, there is a boy watching others play football - but he doesn't have a daddy to teach him how to play.

Somewhere tonight, a child will lay down to sleep in a strange bed in a stranger's home - they will cry and wonder why it's not safe to be home with their mommy and daddy and what the word "foster" means.

Somewhere today, a little girl with chocolate brown eyes fell and skinned her knee - but she didn't have a mommy to put a band-aid on it and give it that special kiss that makes it all better.

Somewhere today, there is a young woman carrying a baby she didn't plan on.  She's scared and there's no one there to hold her, to walk with her, to support her or encourage her.  There's no one to tell her about adoption.

Somewhere today, there is an orphan or foster child who only wants a mommy and a daddy.

Do you have children? Maybe a niece or nephew? What do they go through on a daily basis? What are their needs? How do you provide for those needs?  Somewhere today, tonight, tomorrow, and every day after that - there will be a child who has no one meeting those needs.  Let's ask God what we can do to change that.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sister Talk

We were in Tennessee this past many good things to say about that...but I just had to share this sweet convo I overheard between the girls.  We were driving from Jacob's parent's house to his grandparents house for supper.  The two houses sort of share a really long driveway, so I put the girls in the front seat together and I was driving.  Jacob was driving his granddad's truck,  hauling the deer he'd just killed and showed off to the kids back to his grandparent's to dress it.  The girls had just gotten their first, close up look at a deer (dead) after numerous episodes of deer hunting shows and pretend deer hunts in the back yard and even a real deer hunt for Anna Beth.

Anna Beth: I don't like to touch the dead deer.  Do you, Lynnsie?
Lynnsie: No.  It's yucky.
Anna Beth: Yeah, it's yucky! But I DID touch it, though.  But I didn't like it.
Lynnsie: No, me either! It's yucky!

I was smiling to myself and really loving the conversation and was excited to see what all they would say, when I suddenly heard a grinding sound and my car started jumping and then stopped.  Note to self....if you allow your two small children to ride in the front seat, warn said small children that they should NOT pull the gear shift and put the car in drive when you are backing down the drive in reverse!

Oh, and here's another sweet one:  We were drove past Jacob's other grandparents house and saw about a dozen turkeys in their front yard.  When Jacob saw them, he said, "Anna Beth, Lynnsie - look there's some turkeys." Immediately....IMMEDIATELY I tell you...both of my sweet little girls started doing their turkey calls...making their daddy so very proud!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Adoption: Grace Ann & Jack

  This is one of my most favorite families in my life.  I love their kids....and the parents are okay, too :)  I have known Chris and Melissa most of my life and their adoption of Grace Ann was the very first adoption that I was blessed to witness and experience with my own eyes and Jacob and I were able to organize a yard sale to help them raise money for Jack's adoption, so their story is special to me, too.  It is a story of families joined through open adoption...

  I am so thankful to Misti to be able to tell others my family’s journey to adoption. Our story begins like most, Chris and I got married, I finished college and then after two years ditched the birth control in hopes of having the average 2.5 children to make our family complete. I had no idea that God had a much greater, much better plan for us.
  After years of trying to get pregnant, two miscarriages and so much heartache we finally had a doctor tell us that God had a great plan for our family. The doctor went on to tell us that somewhere there were children waiting for us and wanted us as badly as we wanted them. I half heartedly listened to him as he talked to us. I, being a control freak, wanted to fix the problem myself. I knew God could make me fertile or send the right birthfamily to us, but I did not want to bother him with our "little problem". (Don’t we all do that?) After about a year of refusing to believe the doctor, Chris and I finally turned to adoption and of course, we began praying for a child through adoption. We contacted Abrazo Adoption ( ) in April and were scheduled to come to their famous orientation weekend in May. We left that weekend after meeting twelve other couple just like us, excited about the possibility of being parents.
  A little word about Abrazo and the types of adoptions that they do, they only do open adoptions. With an open adoption, both the birthfamily and adoptive family meet. You exchange information and begin a relationship with the birthfamily. I admit I was a bit scared of open adoption, but like anything else once you educate yourself about something, you are better able to embrace it. Like any great relationship, you must interact with one another. Adoptive and birthfamilies talk on the phone, visit with one another and basically become family. I cannot imagine not having a relationship with the very people who helped me to become a mom. Some people think that by having an open adoption, the birthfamily just pops in and out of your home and take over when they are there. This common myth of open adoption is far from the truth. Chris and I are our children’s’ parents in all sense of the word, but we do stay in contact with their birthfamilies and let them know what is going on in the life’s of the children they love enough to place for adoption.
  Jump forward to Aug. 28, 2002. While I was teaching, the office buzzed my room to tell me I had a call. I grumbled the entire way to the phone because I was in the middle of a great lesson. When I picked up the phone, I heard the voice of our adoptive parent support person from Abrazo. She told me there was a couple that really wanted to talk to Chris and me. I immediately called them with little regard to my great lesson. We had a great first talk. Everything just clicked. It was as if I always knew this couple. Chris called them once he got home and they told him, that they really wanted us to adopt their baby girl once she was born. YIPPPEEEE!!! We had just a few months to get to know this wonderful couple and their family before the baby was born. We grew to love this family not for what they were going to do but for who they were through visits and many phone calls.
  We were in the room on November 19, 2002 when Elizabeth Grace Ann made her appearance into this world. During the hospital stay, we kept the nurses very confused. They had never witness an open adoption relationship before. They kept trying to figure out who was who. Those days were such special days. We just passed Grace Ann around the entire time and loved on her.
  When Grace Ann turned three we really, felt the urge to adopt again. Grace Ann’s Sunday School teacher told me that every week without fail she would pray for her baby brother or sister to find her. She said this prayer for two years. In November of 2007, we returned "home" to Abrazo and began the process once again. Once again, while at school I receive a call from Abrazo. I was told the mother would be expecting my call once I got home from school; imagine trying to teach with that though on your heart. When I called the birthmom, once again things just clicked. We had a great time on the phone and talked for well over an hour. At the end of the call she said, "I want you before anyone else gets you!" I was thrilled to say the least. This time around, we had six months to get to know this sweet birthmom.
  On June 10, 2008 surrounded by his birthmom, her sister, Chris and myself, Ethan Jackson was born. The days that Jack spent in the hospital were wonderful but sad. We were there for his birthmother as she grieved and made such a heart wrenching decision. Placing a child for adoption is not easy but with an open adoption Jack’s birthmom is never left out of his life. Being able to witness the pain allows us to never take for granted the gift she gave us when she placed her son into our arms.
  Since the adoption of both children, we have made several visits to San Antonio to visit their birthfamilies. They have come to visit us also. Grace Ann even had her very first tooth pulled by her birthmom when she was staying there while we were at the hospital with her brother. We talk to both sets of birthfamilies by phone, text and of course Facebook. (Isn’t technology great?)
  The years following both children’s births have been filled with so much joy. God has truly turned my weeping into laughter and he made the barren woman a mother. To quote Grace Ann after hearing about her baby brother, "He heard me! He heard me! God finally heard my prayers!" I am so thankful for God’s greater plan which expanded our family of two to many whom all share a common love for each other.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Adoption Awareness Month

  November is National Adoption Awareness month.  Today, specifically, is Orphan Sunday.  God talks repeatedly about caring for orphans and the fatherless throughout the Bible. 
  If you know me, then you know that adoption and orphans have a HUGE hold on my heart.  It has been on my heart to adopt since I was about...12 years old.  But, more about that later.
  I have several friends whose families have adopted or are in the process of adopting (and I will admit...I am a tiny bit envious that it's not our turn, but again, more about that later.)  I have asked them to write guest posts for me that I will share throughout this month.
  I'm the kind of person who has to do something while I am waiting. My prayer is that these posts and others that I will share, will open your heart to orphans, educate you on the worldwide orphan crisis, and give you some ideas on how you can take part in the lives of orphans.  I hope you enjoy meeting these special families and, if you are considering adoption, you will find encouragement and some answers to some questions you may have.  Mostly, I pray that you will be open to whatever God wants you to hear and how He wants you to respond to the fatherless.