Tag - Adoption

» FWD: How My Special Needs Parenting Confuses Most Of The World.
» Joy, Living Simply and a House FULL of kids: Chatting with Author Tricia Goyer
» Let’s hear it for the Boys!
» Fundraising with a Fun Run
» Waiting Child Advocacy
» FWD: Is This the Year You Adopt?
Together in the Trenches
What do you mean “under-developed”?
Christian Alliance for Orphans Coming to Hendersonville!
All Things New

» FWD: How My Special Needs Parenting Confuses Most Of The World.

[This article was originally written by Mike Berry…It’s used here with his permission. Mike and Kristen Berry are raising 8 amazing children (photo above), all of whom have been adopted. Their blog Confessions of An Adoptive Parent exists to offer hope for families in the trenches.]

As adoptive and special needs parents, our style of parenting can be quite different from most parents. Because of our children’s traumatic pasts, there are reasons why we do the things we do, expect the things we expect, and redirect the way we redirect.

My son’s coach meant well. He really did. His fatherly instincts told him to comfort my son and try to remedy the situation by loaning him his gloves. The temperature at game time was a brisk 30 degrees. The sun was up, but slow to melt the frost that fell in the early morning hours when it was much colder. My son stood on the sideline shivering, crying, snot running down his upper lip, and looking as if he were close to death.

I stood on the opposite sideline, glaring at him as he did so, feeling absolutely no sympathy.

In fact, through my anger, I reflected back on the night before, when I was digging out knit caps and gloves in preparation for his game. And since I’m a college-educated person I paid attention to the evening weather report. I listened when the weather man said that the next morning would be below normal. He even went as far as to say, “If your son or daughter is playing soccer, football or fall baseball, you will want to dress them warm!” Ironic.

My son argued with me. He told me that he didn’t need to wear gloves, because none of the other kids would be wearing them. He shook his head and told me that football players are supposed to be tough and that wearing a knit cap would make him look like a sissy. Then, he obsessively walked around the house in his uniform pretending to be an NFL player who didn’t wear long sleeves in frigid temperatures. Big talk until he got out of the car the next morning and joined his teammates (who, by the way, were all wearing knit caps and gloves). He almost immediately started to shiver. I didn’t budge. “Life lesson learned,” I thought to myself. “He can freeze his ‘you-know-what’ off!”

Some of the parents nearby gave me nasty looks. Some tried to remedy the situation by getting involved. I’m sure I was labeled as a terrible father that day. But the highlight of this experience was the email I received from his coach, later that afternoon, saying “Next time we have a game with those temperatures please make sure to properly dress your son.” He then explained his strategy for making sure his son was dressed for chilly game-time temperatures.

And that’s when it hit me- This world will never understand how or why I parent my special-needs son the way I do, and that’s okay! Many would look at that experience and consider it normal 9-year old behavior. It was the farthest thing from it.

Noticed But Not Understood.

What people rarely see (unless they spend significant time with us) is the impulsive, illogical, obsessive behavior my child displays over nearly everything. He has a disconnect in his brain. It’s a permanent condition he inherited from the choice his birth mother made to consume drugs and alcohol when he was still in her womb. While other children may argue with their parents, push buttons, stomp their feet and demand their own way, my son makes it a campaign, battles us to sometimes violent levels, and refuses to listen to logic, even when logic is causing his ears and finger tips to turn blue and go numb.

  • “I’m blunt and to the point for a reason.”

When you live with a child who has brain damage, or has gone through significant trauma, you can’t leave an ounce of what you say up for interpretation. My son will fill in the blanks and many times that equals disaster or very bad choices. I have to be blunt and to the point always. I know I sound harsh. I know I sound unforgiving and belligerent. But my point must be crystal clear with my child. I stick to a strict schedule with him. Bedtime is always the same. So are trivial things like brushing teeth, household chores, and homework. Without a routine, my son will melt down.

Most parents of children with normal brains usually have to give gentle reminders to their children (usually). Even if they mess up and forget, a gentle reminder or two will do the trick. Not so with my child. If I gently remind him he won’t get it, or he’ll move into a 2-hour tantrum. If I resort to doing the task myself he’ll never learn nor come back to the task in his mind. I have to bluntly state my expectations and be ready with a consequence if he fails to do what was asked of him.

  • “I give the consequences I give for a reason.”

In his mind, he believes he is right and I am wrong all the time. Not only that, he can be extremely manipulative. This is a result of the disconnect in his brain. If he can get you to buy into his story, believe that I just didn’t want to give him gloves and hat for the freezing temperatures, he wins, and quite frankly, you lose. He doesn’t necessarily mean to do this but his brain has been damaged. He isn’t thinking logically and, although I reassure him and show him that moms and dads always take care of their children and are there for them, he reaches for something else. Many times, it’s a stranger or a person (like a coach or teacher) that he barely knows.

We’ve custom-designed boundaries because the only way he’ll learn how to live is through the structure I keep in place. Within his mind there is deep fear and anxiety that even he does not understand. This usually manifests itself through impulsive choices, and sometimes, obsessive-compulsive outbursts.

  • “I have to keep going even though I’m extremely exhausted.”

When you parent normal children, with normal brains, who pull normal child-like stunts, you often fail to understand that I have to be vigilant around the clock. I cannot take my foot off the gas. I have to read labels for ingredients you never give a second thought to. I have to ask questions at doctor’s appointments that most parents never have to ask. I have to mentally and physically prepare for something as simple as a trip to the grocery store. I have to make sure my son is following the same routine day after day after day.

It can take the life out of us.

While “normal” children can go off-routine during vacation or the weekend, mine cannot. The consequences of this could take days or weeks to undo. I don’t expect you to understand the way I parent my special-needs son, but I am asking for respect and a little less judgement. Until you walk in the shoes of a parent with a child who has special needs you will never understand the reasons why we do the things we do, and say the things we say.

It’s What Moms And Dads Do.

In case you’re wondering, I secretly brought his knit cap and gloves to the game that day. After allowing him to live with his consequence for a while, and refusing to let his coach bail him out, I walked over, reminded him that I was his parent, and that moms and dads always take care of their children, then handed him his cap and gloves.

» Joy, Living Simply and a House FULL of kids: Chatting with Author Tricia Goyer

(above photo: January 11, 2016 – Tricia and her husband John are blessed to officially have four more kids in their family. Making them parents of 10 kids!)

I’m so excited to share some words of wisdom from the talented Trica Goyer today. I’ve reviewed a few of Tricia’s books and followed along with her bustling life for some time now. I have HUGE respect for what she accomplishes both as a mom and a professional. I love her transparency in doing so as well. Be sure to check in with my Facebook Page, I’ll be hosting a giveaway there and you might just be able to snag her newest books!


Tricia, many of your books focus on the Amish lifestyle, you seem to be an expert! When did your love for Amish culture begin?

Growing up one of my favorite book series was the Little House on the Prairie books. I read them numerous times, and I’d lay in bed at night imaging living during the prairie days, riding in a covered wagon and going to school in a one-room schoolhouse. The simple life has always appealed to me. Then about ten years ago my daughter was on a homeschool basketball team with a young woman named Saretta. Saretta’s family had been Amish. When a publisher asked if I’d be interested in writing an Amish novel I immediately thought of that family. I interviewed them and dug into the Amish lifestyle. It reminded me so much of Little House of the Prairie! I love how the Amish focus on faith, family, and community, just like people did one hundred years ago.

What do you think we can learn from a simpler way of living?

Living simply has to do more about internal factors than external ones. It’s about focusing on people more than things. It’s about not getting caught up with the latest fads, fashions, and gizmos. We are a very tech-friendly family BUT we know our neighbors and we take time to serve. We attend an inner city church, which is completely opposite of a prairie church, yet we also reach out to help those in need. The Amish don’t have technology because they want to put people first, and though it may be harder for us to do, I think we can do the same.

You’ve recently grown your family through adoption. What have your biggest joys and struggles been?
The biggest joy is seeing the healing and the growth that has happened with our kids, and just doing life with them. The struggle is parenting kids with traumatic backgrounds. It’s. So. Hard. It’s hard figuring out what triggers them. It’s hard loving kids who act mean and ugly at times. It’s hard going to therapy appointments and figuring out new ways to parent. But it’s also so rewarding to see these kids blooming and transforming before our eyes.

How do you balance your work with motherhood? And what encouragement can you pass on to other moms?
The encouragement I have is know there is a season for everything. There are seasons when I have a lot of time to write and other seasons where I can barely get through a few emails in a day. I used to think that if I found the perfect daily schedule that I’d also find a good balance, but there is no perfect schedule. There is no perfect balance. Instead it’s all about following Jesus and doing the tasks He has for you in a day. Yes, I have 10 kids (and two grandkids!), and yes I’ve written 55+ books, but this has been a 25 year journey. My oldest son is 26-years-old, and I turned my life over to Jesus when I was pregnant with him. Success doesn’t happen overnight. Instead it happens with 30 minutes of writing mixed in with reading aloud, making dinner, giving baths, and everything in between!

I’ve written more about this in my book Balanced, which is only $3.99 on Kindle!


Tricia has recently released Made with Love and Planted with Hope. Find them on Amazon or hop over to win them on my Facebook page. Either way, with these sweet books you’ll have your Summer reading in the bag!

» Let’s hear it for the Boys!

I’m sitting in my office this morning. <Coffee. Mom bun. Yoga Pants. More Coffee.> And I’m going through photos of hundreds of neat little boys who are waiting for forever families. Precious, special, sweet and full of potential little guys. Waiting. As I looked at the sheer number of boy profiles I began to create my own statistics. With a need to explore what the numbers on this subject really were I checked the Homeland Security Data to find out that 64 percent of International Adoptees are girls. While comparing 36% to 64% doesn’t seem huge on a small scale, when that number represents thousands it becomes quite apparent that there seems to be a preference to adopt females.

However, we must take into account that for years upon years overseas adoptions were largely from China. China has historically offered adoption files for female children, this would of course drastically affect the male to female ratio in international adoptions. In recent years there has been quite a shift. There are now many, many young boys waiting and ready to enter families. My friends are often shocked when I explain that China is no longer a “girls only” adoption program. In addition, there does seem to be an underlying feeling among some potential adoptive parents that a female child might be safer, calmer, easier to handle. This is unfortunately a stigma that may cause some parents to choose to pursue a female child rather than being open to both. The simple fact is… male or female, toddler or teenager, international or domestic… adoption is hard. Adoption is beautiful, but adoption is difficult. Bringing your child into an unfamiliar world, teaching them about family and loving through trauma is a worth-it process that takes time. Gender doesn’t change that.

So. These boys. These amazing, worth-it children of God. They deserve big things. They deserve families that will fight for them. In fact, I want to share about a few really cool guys I’ve been getting to know through Storyteller teams.


Shaefer is a sweet little boy in an America World Adoption orphanage partnership. He has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. His file notes high muscular tension of both upper limbs. He received surgery for partial stripping of the left carotid artery on Oct 24 2012 and recovered well. He is receiving rehabilitation. His caretakers describe him as active, ready to smile, and outgoing!

Shaefer is from an orphanage partnership and his file is designated by the CCCWA as a special focus file, so a family at any stage of the process is eligible to review this file. Email china@awaa.org to learn more.


Meet Jacob. He is 1 year and 9 months old.

Jacob is a sweet baby boy who has been diagnosed with Down Syndrome. He is energetic, likes watching cartoons, and likes looking at picture books! He lives with foster parents and has been receiving good care since coming to the orphanage.

Jacob is from an orphanage partnership and lives in a foster family. His file is designated by the CCCWA as Special Focus and a family just considering adoption or at any stage of the process is eligible to review his file.  Email china@awaa.org to learn more.


And now. Meet 3 year old Joshua. For reasons you can understand, our daughter has a similar condition, this guy is pretty special to me.

Joshua is a sweet and quiet boy. His caretaker reports that he loves to cuddle and play. Joshua was born with binocular corneal leucoma (whitening of corneas), which has caused him to lose sight in both of his eyes; however, because the reason for his leucoma is unknown, it is also unknown until he is further evaluated by doctors if his condition can be treated to some level. At one and a half, he could crawl, respond when others asked for him to share his toys, and look for sources of sound. He is very sensitive to sounds and knows how to locate where sounds are coming from.

He is designated by the CCCWA as a special focus file and is from one of our agency’s orphanage partnerships. His file is now a shared file. A family at any stage of the process is eligible to review this file. A grant is available to the family pursuing Joshua’s adoption.  Email china@awaa.org to learn more.


Please help me as I continue to advocate for these cuties and many more amazing kids. Share this blog post, write your own blog post, Be part of their stories.




» Fundraising with a Fun Run

We frequently receive e-mails from friends connecting us with other families starting the adoption process. Each time, the first question we are asked the BIG F question: How did you fundraise??? If you’re anything like the rest of us, raising money is not something you find joy in. Unfortunately, adoption expenses can add up pretty quickly. Just like many other families, we’ve done everything; t-shirts, yard sales, auctions, bake sales, you name it.

A few months before our travel date to China, we wanted to do a final push to raise money for the upcoming expenses. We put our heads together with another family (also in the adoption process) to figure out what we could do. We were tired of yard sales (who wouldn’t be? It felt like we had already done 20) and t-shirts became less and less compelling as more people were doing them.

After about an hour, we came up with the idea of doing a 5K run. This was in 2013, so the Color Run was becoming established and at the cusp of becoming wildly popular. There were also a lot of spin-off themes that we didn’t want to compete with. We wanted to attract and encourage whole families to participate so we decided to do a superhero theme. People told us what a great time they had and we felt like we provided a great family experience in return for supporting us financially. And seriously, I still love our graphic.

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 3.28.27 PM

We tell people over and over again that this event was the most fun and rewarding fundraiser we’ve ever done done but that doesn’t mean it was easy. By some miracle, we were able to pull off the 5K run in a matter of four weeks. In total, we raised about $5,000 but with proper planning and more time, I think we could’ve easily doubled it.

If you’re needing to raise money for a mission trip or adoption, a run should be something you consider. Here’s a short list of what you need. Feel free to e-mail me if you want more details or have any questions!

Before the Event

  1. Sponsors
  2. Venue
  3. Marketing collateral (Flyers/Posters)
  4. Online signup (PayPal, Active, EventBrite)

Day of Event

  1. Signage
  2. Fruit/Bars
  3. Water
  4. Cones
  5. Volunteers
  6. Speaker system with microphone
  7. Tables and tents


» Waiting Child Advocacy

You may have noticed that a new tab has been added to the blog. Waiting Child Advocacy. We will be using that space to advocate for kids, primarily with some type of medical need, who have files and are ready to become a part of Forever Families. We are hoping to see advocacy grow as others share these posts and become voices for amazing kids who need medical care and families to thrive. We have seen first hand how kids GROW once given what they need… once they experience the love of a family. The road is hard, the work is ongoing, we aren’t perfect but these lives are worth it. Let’s fight together. I remember meeting Miss Lola just 2 1/2 years ago, and wishing I had gotten there earlier. I see these kiddos today and I know their families are out there. It is my prayer that I can somehow help them get there just a bit quicker.

» FWD: Is This the Year You Adopt?

[This article was originally written by an old friend, Tricia Hopper Butts…..It’s used here with her permission. Tricia and her family currently live in Mobile, AL and blogs at calebandtricia.blogspot.com and bettydonnephoto.com]

A few years ago, my wonderful friend Amanda shared that instead of New Years Resolutions, she does a one word to theme out her year….. Joy or Thankful or Patience…. you get the idea.

I decided to copy her last year and as I’ve written before, my word was Contentment.

While I’m still mulling over my 2016 Word, I started thinking, what if everyone who says “I’ve always thought about adoption” made it their Word.

As in, maybe this is the year your family should quit thinking about adoption/foster care and start talking about it.

About 2-3 times a month, I receive a message from a friend of a friend of a friend who wants to talk with me about the adoption process. Every single message begins the same way: I’ve always thought about adoption, but I don’t know where to start. We’ve totally been there too and know just how you feel. It’s completely overwhelming.

So if you decide that 2016 is the year that you start talking about what adoption might look like for your family, here are some talking points that might help you navigate the discussion. This isn’t an all-inclusive list, just some ideas for you and your spouse to consider.

Domestic or International

Are you more drawn to adopting locally or nationally?
Is there a particular country that you lean toward? Ethiopia, China, Guatemala, etc.

Can you handle the huge cultural transition it would be for the child?


Realistically, do you see yourself adding a child of a different skin color to your family?

Are you apprehensive about the issues that could arise for you and the child by being a multi-racial family?


Do you definitely only want a baby or would you consider a toddler, young child, or even a teenager?

How would age affect your biological children, specifically if birth order was changed?

Special Needs

Would you consider adopting a physically, mentally, emotionally, or developmentally delayed child?

Your Finances

Where is the money going to come from?
Are you ok with asking friends and family for donations or what are areas of your budget could you cut back on to help with costs? Pray separately for about a week about each of those issues before talking together. That prayer time allows for the Lord to soften or change your hearts and can direct you guys more closely to being on the same page.Because once y’all are on the same page, it will be easier to know where to start.And above all else, remember that the Lord is in control of your adoption situation, so every challenge you come across or door that shuts is really just Him leading you in another direction- a direction closer to the child He has planned for you.

(Ella is in this pic, we just didn’t know it yet!)

Together in the Trenches

There is just something holy about gathering with other adoptive moms. Our walk is just a little different and while my friends always support and encourage me, there is something special about being in the presence of other moms who walk your daily path. I’m so honored and excited that Together in Trenches has asked me to be the speaker for their retreat this year. They have been planning all year and I’ve just entered the scene in the last couple of months. And I can tell you this already, they are putting everything they have into making this retreat a time of reflection, rest and encouragement for mommas “in the trenches.” What a blessing to talk and meet with them, seeing how they are allowing God to work through them.

If you aren’t familiar with Together in the Trenches they are a new, gospel-driven, online community founded on Jesus and seeking to breathe life into weary foster and adoptive moms. They host weekly periscope topics and a yearly retreat held at Wooded Glen Retreat Center which is right outside Louisville, KY. This years retreat is May 20-21, 2016.

Registration for the retreat ($150) opens on Black Friday. After Black Friday the price goes up just a bit, so if you are interested in getting away definitely register early! Click here to check out the details and here to access the registration link on Black Friday. Registration does not open until Black Friday so for now this is just for your planning purposes. I hope to see some of you there! A Nashville carpool could be pretty sweet.

Who: Adoptive moms
What: A weekend retreat a time of reflection, rest and encouragement for mommas “in the trenches.”
Where: Wooded Glen Retreat Center (outside Louisville, KY)
When: May 20-21, 2016


What do you mean “under-developed”?

Lola has migraines. Lola is joyful. Lola has flashes of light. Lola is difficult. Lola’s eyes turn red and water. Lola fights through every day determined to use the little bit of “vision” she has. She’s not mature enough, and frankly, she has too much fight to allow herself to rely more on touch than “sight.” It’s something that frustrates me and challenges me all at the same time.


She never takes the easy road. Probably, because life has not been easy on her. And when she’s hard on me, I return to that place two years ago in an ornate wooden government office with low lighting. I return to the pictures I saw that challenged my mostly normal family.

Last week Lola had an MRI. The neurologist said lots of scary things that led up to a Saturday night with Daddy, a candy shop and Vanderbilt University. No, she won’t need sedation we told them. She will be very still, she listens to instructions very seriously. And she did. She has also reminded me at least 20 times that her earrings are still in daddy’s car.

I honestly didn’t think about the MRI until my phone rang today. I picked it up and heard our pediatrician on the other line. “Has anyone talked with you about this yet?” she said. No. They hadn’t. And when the conversation starts like that, and you’ve had the idea of a tumor put in your heard you get very worried, very fast.

Very quickly she dispelled my worries about tumors. But she went on to say a lot about how not normal Lola’s brain is. While she read the report I was mostly quiet because I was thinking about how smart Lola is, how determined Lola is… how she made all A’s this quarter and learned English in FOUR months. But I’m also thinking about how many struggles she has and how many years passed before I, her mother, held her for the first time.

There is still so much sifting to do. I’ve read an obscene amount of of medical journals and I have yet to have the meeting with the neurologist. Just wait until I meet him head on with my newly acquired knowledge… maybe Lola gets that fight from me.

A lot of words and possible diagnoses were thrown around and I was given some support group and advocate numbers. But some things didn’t fit and we are in that space of avoiding denial but wondering if miracles are happening. And when I say wondering, I use that term loosely because we see a miracle every day in our astounding daughter.

It’s another chapter in the Goodbye book, one that we hope to write with grace and wisdom.


Christian Alliance for Orphans Coming to Hendersonville!

Tennessee friends, we have a wonderful opportunity coming our way. The Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit is coming to Hendersonville, TN this year! The Summit is being held at Long Hollow Baptist Church, where we attend, and there are many ways to get involved. You can volunteer, attend or become a host family. In fact… PLEASE click that link and volunteer. We need you. And guess what? Volunteering = Free Admission.

What will you see and do at CAFO?

The Christian Alliance for Orphans’ CAFO2015 Summit inspires and equips Christians to care for orphans with wisdom-guided love. The CAFO Summit has become the national hub for what Christianity Today called, “the burgeoning Christian orphan care movement.” Last year’s conference drew 2,600 foster and adoptive parents, orphan advocates, pastors and leaders from 35 countries. Together, we explore effective foster care, adoption, family preservation and global orphan ministry. CAFO2015 will include unforgettable plenary sessions with top national and global speakers, stirring music, more than 100 workshops, and an array of one-of-a-kind experiences you won’t find anywhere else.

If you are thinking about adopting, fostering or going on mission to serve orphans this is the conference for you. If you know families who have built their families through adoption this is the conference for you. And if you are a church leader wondering how to respond to the rising interest in orphan care this is the conference for you.

Hope to see you there!

All Things New

I often find myself cringing while reading certain publications and blogs about adoption. There is a common theme of misusing adoption theology as application for the adoption of children. While I understand that this provides a beautiful picture of Salvation for the parent or other witnesses to the adoption, it, while unintended, places a level of shame on a child. Comparing their past experiences and orphan status to sin is a stretch and in my opinion, inappropriate. James 1:27 provides all the conviction and charge that we need to make adoption part of our Christian culture.

It is no secret that we live in a fallen, hurt and sinful world. As a result parents die. Families split. People starve. Children live in orphanages. This is another reason for pause when speaking about orphan care and adoption in relation to God’s will. I don’t believe that it was God’s will for children to grow up apart from those who gave birth to them. It is a traumatic severing of what was intended to be beautiful. A loss at best.

What I do believe is this: When everything fails, when everything breaks, when everything falls apart, God has a plan. For our children that plan was adoption. And in His infinite goodness and beauty He picked up the broken pieces of my story and wove them anew with the stories of two children from across the waters. He created a new plan, a new beginning and while we are desperately inadequate at times we rely on his grace to equip us for the journey.

Let us be careful with our stories. Let us be respectful to our children.
Let us give glory to God who makes all things new.

All Content © Erica Ho, Goodbye Normal