Meeting Kameron

We recently spent a week with Kameron during our bonding trip in the Republic of Congo. If you aren’t familiar with the term, a bonding trip is required in most countries before the adoption is finalized so that you can get to know your child, their home country and their culture all before bringing them home.

This trip was very important to us for many reasons, but a large part was trying to learn as much as we could so we can make her homecoming as easy as possible on her. By getting to know her culture, country, native language, caregivers, and friends, we are able to gather a much bigger picture of who she is. We are now able to understand her more fully. In the future, we will be able to parent her better and make sure her transition into our family goes much smoother because of what we learned on our trip. We learned fun things such as some of her favorite french nursery rhymes and have started listening to them with our girls at home so they will also know them. We have started singing at night with our girls one of the songs that is sung at Mwana before bed so that we can continue it when Kameron is here. We have so many pictures and videos for Kameron to look back on and see what our time with her was like in Pointe-Noire and at Mwana. On the trip, we laid the groundwork for future bonding with her. Her first physical encounter with us will not be us taking her from her home and all the people she loves and has ever known–and this is very important to us.

We went into the bonding trip having little to no expectations on Kameron at all. We have two little ones at home that are practically the same age as her, so we tried to imagine how they would react if they were in Kameron’s situation. Kameron did great. It definitely took some time for her to get used to seeing the crazy people from FaceTime, but I am actually shocked we made as much progress as we did with her over the week.

Kameron is so strong in every sense of the word. She doesn’t miss a beat in a room full of 2-8 year olds running all around while she scoots on the floor. She has an incredible smile and grin that is contagious. She is bubbly, FUN, and so smart. She loves her people fiercely. She lets her desires be known. I miss her singing, her laugh, her voice, her touch.

It has been almost four weeks since I held Kameron in my arms and kissed her face. Just that reality alone makes me have a deep sinking feeling in my stomach and makes me want to cry and/or groan. I’ve had a hard time trying to motivate myself to write something about the trip and to take the time to process all my thoughts and feelings because we long to be with her so much. The truth is it was a lot harder to leave her than I expected. I knew it would be very hard to leave her, but I didn’t ever think she would be crying and reaching for us when we said good-bye. My other two year olds at home just waved and said goodbye when we left for Africa. I assumed Kameron would do the same. Something about the way she wailed and didn’t want to go to her most beloved caretaker just broke me. It’s so unnatural to leave your child in an orphanage (even the very best orphanage in the world—Mwana Villages!) and fly across the world without them. Please join us in praying that she will be home soon. It hurts to know all the life she is living without us. At the same time, we are confident that the Lord’s timing is good and best.

Thank you Lord for this precious daughter! We can’t believe we get to parent her and love her! She is so wonderfully made! You are TOO good to us, Lord! We don’t deserve this gift. All glory to God forever and ever.

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Thinking About Kameron on Mother’s Day

I recently saw the movie Us.  There’s a scene where the family goes to their lake house and they pan to one of the walls containing a painting of a black mama flexing with her black daughter flexing right in front of her.  I love the painting. It is a powerful image for many reasons. I mention their race in the painting because the thing that struck me was the reminder that Kameron will not get the joy of having a black mama.  Every time I think about it, it makes me so heartbroken for Kameron.

Adoption is a clear definition of finding hope in the midst of a tragedy.  Because of The Fall, things like adoption take place.  This is not how God intended it all. Once sin entered the world, it infiltrated every aspect of life and relationships.   It is a tragedy that she is not with her biological parents and being raised by them. I mourn that she will not be brought up by a strong black mama like the painting, like she deserves.  I mourn that she will have so much to process and overcome because she is going to be raised by white parents. I mourn that she will not know her culture as well as if she were being raised in it.  I mourn that she will have to go through the loss of leaving all the people she loves at Mwana and try to attach to people she barely knows. If I let it, it can all feel so heavy and overwhelming.

But then there’s hope, which is Kameron’s middle name.  In Jesus, I have full confidence and hope that Kameron’s future is for His glory.  She may endure more trials than others, but we count it all joy in knowing that He will keep her close when times get tough.  He will never leave her. He loves her, knows every part of her, and sees her in her current and future struggles. What a comfort to know that the God that made the heavens and the earth cares for our daughter way more than we do!  How can I fear after being reminded of that truth? May His glory shine in her so brightly because of the trials she will face. May she know Him better, and love Him deeper because of her hardships. May she always turn to Him and let Him be her strength.

-Kiersten

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? Psalm 56:3-4

A Worthy Wait

The last two years have been completely full of waiting. As I write this, we still have no idea when our waiting will be over for either of our children. People often ask when Kameron will be coming home, and truth be told, we have no idea. There is so much that goes into adoption and foster care that makes timelines unpredictable. We are dependent on court systems and people doing their jobs correctly and efficiently, all of which are totally out of our control. And while the waiting and uncertainty of kids’ cases can be extremely frustrating, lately I have found myself thankful each time we are asked to wait more. Let me explain. I know this seems like a really odd statement to make. I even hesitate to write it because I hope that no one mistakes my thankfulness for a lack of love or desire to be with my children. I also think its important to clarify that I do not in any way want to make anyone feel shame for how they feel in seasons of wait. If you are struggling in a season of wait and don’t feel thankful, I get that. I don’t know your journey and I am not trying to tell you how you should be feeling– I just want to tell you about what God is doing in our lives.

Before Jesus was arrested He goes to pray on the Mount of Olives. Jesus knows His time is coming to be crucified and He cries out in anguish to God, “‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will'” (Matthew 26:39). I love seeing Jesus’ humanity here. Sometimes we forget that He was not only fully God but also fully human, and He can relate to our struggles. He is in agony over the pain He is about to suffer, YET He knows the will of the Father is best. Matthew’s account says that He prays this same prayer three times. I think that is so interesting that He prays the same prayer multiple times in what seems to be a relatively short period of time. When I say that I am thankful for our waiting period, I don’t feel thankful every second of every day. I feel thankful most of the time. But on hard days, I am very literally having to tell myself truth every 5 seconds. My flesh is so quick to forget the wonders He has done and will continue to do.

I love this quote by Vaneetha Risner below, “God knows what I need. I do not. He sees the future. I cannot. His perspective is eternal. Mine is not.” These are the exact types of truths I am having to remind myself of constantly. He is God and I am not. He is good. The more I pray these truths, the more I am able to rest in him. Matthew 11:28-29 says, “‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart. and you will find rest for your souls.'” God promises to give us rest from our suffering when we run to Him.

One of my main prayers for all my children is that I would desire His will to be done in their lives above my own. As I have prayed this for my children, I’ve started to actually want His will more than my own. I know that an extra wait is for our good because I trust Him, and I’ve already seen how every extra wait so far has brought us closer to Him. All of the ups and downs of this wait for our children have been so incredibly good for us. God is so loving to us to make us wait because in the wait we have changed. We love Him deeper and we know Him more closely, and that is the best gift He could give us. He helped us grow into a new, more mature understanding of a lot of truths we have always known.

There has definitely been suffering in our wait as we still have an unknown future with one of our kids and the other one we are missing out on this important period of her life. In all our distress, God is teaching us more about Romans 5:3-5, “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Please do not think I am able to rejoice and feel thankful in this period of suffering on my own accord. It is absolutely the work of the Holy Spirit that I am able to look at this wait with renewed perspective.

Amen, amen, amen!

Ekemini Uwan is one of my favorite theologians. She just gets it. This tweet of hers (shown above) hits the nail on the head. Let’s not forget that God is loving. He acts out of love and ultimately everything is for the sake of His glory. Let’s glorify Him and give Him all the praise in our wait, in our sufferings, in all the in between, because He is so worthy.

-Kiersten

James 1:2-4 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Love Your Neighbor

I’ve been thinking and learning a lot about what it really means to love my neighbor. One of my favorite quotes on the subject comes from one of my favorite artists:

It’s pretty easy to get in the routine of loving people that think, look, and act like you. Why do you think people make jokes about not talking about religion or politics? Because it’s hard for us to stay loving when we disagree, think differently, or live differently than someone. Think about all the political conversations you see on social media. How often do you see people disagreeing while still treating their opponents like they are made in the image of God and dearly loved by their Creator? You don’t see it often, that’s for sure.

“Jesus calls us to a standard of neighborly love that is shocking. It goes from ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ to ‘love your neighbor as I have loved you.” -Christina Edmondson

In John 13:34 Jesus says. “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other as I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Think about the implications of that statement. Jesus loved us so much that he laid down his life and he is saying we are to do the same for one another. He doesn’t specify a group we are supposed to love such as, “you must love your friends or family.” He says, “love one another”–this includes ALL people and makes the call to love extreme and shocking. We are to love people, all people, so much that we are willing to give up our lives for them. Think about the person or type of people that infuriate you the most, ones that are the hardest for you to extend grace and love to. Jesus is saying those people you are to love so much that you would give your life for them.

The point is that it is HARD to actually live out loving your neighbor. Loving your neighbor is not just knowing their name and being polite when you see them in passing. To actually love others requires lots of sacrifice. It requires humility and selflessness. Most married people know that loving your spouse well requires hard work, and this is with loving someone that you liked enough to say “til death do us part.” Now imagine loving someone you may not like at all and working to love them as well as you love your spouse, kids, family, and yourself. Sacrifice may look like holding your tongue and trying to understand another person’s perspective or speaking the truth in love. It could be sacrificing money, time, physical or emotional labor on behalf of another. Loving your neighbor will cause you to have to do very uncomfortable things that will likely be painful for you.

Most of the time our best friends include people in which we have a lot of things in common. It is easy to get along with and like people that think like us, act like us, and want the same things as us, but Philippians 2 calls us to consider others as more significant than ourselves. We should live our lives as if ALL people are more important than ourselves, not just the ones we are naturally inclined to like. The ramifications of this make us consider people that are our enemy or people we oppose as BETTER than ourselves. We must walk in humility to not think we are superior to others because of our education, our religion, our politics, our race, etc. We must look at all people as dearly loved children of God.

Kameron and Octave at Mwana Villages

Octave and the all the staff at Mwana live out this sacrificial love daily. In a world that lacks valuing people of all abilities, we cannot be more thankful that Mwana loves every neighbor. They saw the value and worth of Kameron and have given her such an amazing start to her life–for this we are eternally grateful.

Mark 12:31- “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Grace in 2018, Hope for 2019

There’s a very lengthy post I could write about all the things we’ve been learning this year, but instead I’ve decided to focus on one thing: grace. I don’t think I fully comprehended grace (and still don’t) until the hardships we have been through. The last few years, in particular, have brought me to a place of understanding, learning, and relearning the grace that has been extended to me. It has taken me over 20 years to feel like I’m beginning to scratch the surface on the grace I’ve been given to be alive.

One thing I love the most about Foster Care is it really makes you live out all the things you say you believe. You say you trust God? OK, well here is a child you will love and parent and bond to but could lose at any moment and you get absolutely no say in the matter. You say God is good? OK, let’s see how you feel when we threaten to move this child you love to a situation that does not seem to be in their best interest at all. There’s nothing like the threat of losing your kid to make you evaluate your faith.

I used to be very good at focusing on my sin and beating myself up for it. I am naturally very hard on myself. I can easily slip into the Pharisee-like mentality of I need to do XYZ to please God or earn his favor. I have never been self-aware enough, until recently, to recognize it but my eager-to-please personality led me to think of God as a being I could impress by being faithful. When I actually started believing that I deserve death for my sin (Romans 6:23), I started seeing EVERYTHING in my life as a gift I do not deserve. When I started understanding that I can do NOTHING to earn his favor, I became freed of my expectations for myself (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Again, these are simple truths most Christians learn and possibly comprehend at the beginning of their faith. I would have always said I knew and wholeheartedly believed these things, but looking back my actions and motivations didn’t reflect that. I still would sometimes try to manipulate God by spending more time with him in hopes that he would be pleased with me instead of spending time with him because I’m just dying to spend more time with him.

Once I began to start really believing everything in my life is a result of a gift I did not and could not earn, I have had a much harder time questioning God’s goodness and plan. Here’s how this truth has manifested in our lives through foster care: we have had to face the sobering reality that we may lose one of our children and lose her to circumstances that do not seem to us like they would be good for her. Since I started believing that I did not earn anything on this earth, all I can do is be thankful. How can I question why God would take one of our kids from us when we never deserved to be her parents in the first place? We haven’t deserved one single moment with her and yet we have been given now 15 whole months! I am truly in awe of that as I write this. I can’t believe how kind he has been to us to let us know her this long. Every time we have faced the threat of her removal our initial (and very normal) reaction is sorrow but it quickly turns to praise because we honestly believe we have not deserved to know her in the first place. When you look at life through the lens of grace, it is hard to sit in sadness for very long. There is just always so much to be thankful for and so much hope for the future it’s overwhelming.

Just think if we were always able to look at life like we don’t deserve any of it. All of a sudden, all things become a miracle, because they are!

I hesitate to write stuff like this because if you are currently going through suffering, I am in no way trying to make light of your pain. I have not experienced a lot of the different kinds of sufferings that are present in our world, but I do know that no matter what your suffering is, God is good. You can trust him. God is there in your hurt. He sees you, he loves you, and he is close (Psalm 34:18).

In 2018 we found a more complete understanding of grace, and we have hope for 2019 that we will see the Lord’s goodness as he works out all things for our good (Romans 8:28). If we were to get to adopt our youngest child, we would like her middle name to be Grace. Kameron’s middle name is Hope because of Romans 15:13. In 2019, we HOPE to adopt two amazing little girls, and if we do not get to, we have HOPE that God’s plan is way better than anything we could come up with.

It’s so exciting that the Lord gives us hope for a brighter future, we know that there will be days to come where suffering will no longer exist. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” Relevation 21:4. How we long for that day, Lord!

-Kiersten

This is a small list of scripture related to this topic. If I were to try to list every relevant scripture, this post would be ridiculously long.

Isaiah 46:4- “‘Even in your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.'”

Isaiah 48:17- “‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.'”

Isaiah 49:23- “‘Those who hope in me will not be disappointed.'”

Isaiah 55:8-9- “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, ‘ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'”

Psalm 31:19- “Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!”

Romans 6:23- “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Ephesians 2:8-9- “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Psalm 34:18- “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

Romans 8:28- “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Romans 15:13- “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

We’re ADOPTING!

Friends and Family,

We have some HUGE AND WONDERFUL NEWS TO SHARE!

We are so excited to announce that we are in the process of adopting a little girl named Kameron Hope from the Republic of Congo! We could not be more thrilled and honored to be her parents! She currently is being cared for at Mwana Villages in Pointe Noire, Congo. We have supported Mwana for a while and have known and prayed about Kameron since she first came into their care in early 2018. Mwana Villages is a holistic orphan ministry whose model is to empower vulnerable families with a transformative hope and future. They always first seek to reunify children with their biological families whenever possible. We fully believe and support Mwana Villages and are so happy to know our daughter has received such excellent, ethical care.

Kameron is a month older than our daughter Kallie (16 months) so she will become our oldest child! Kameron was born with spina bifida, a condition that affects the spine and can result in varying levels of neurological disability to the lower body. Once she was taken into the care of the Mwana Villages staff at 7 months old, she was flown to a hospital in Uganda specializing in spina bifida care to receive a crucial surgery to repair the opening in her spinal cord. The level of severity of her disability will not be known until she develops further, but she will likely have limited sensation and use of her legs.

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If you are reading this page, chances are you are an important person in our lives. While we know we are called to adopt, we also know we are not called to do it alone. Some of the greatest gifts God has given us through the years are relationships. Relationships that encourage us, challenge us, and have helped us become who we are today. We have no idea what parenting three or more children will be like and will continue to need encouragement, wisdom, and prayers.

We just recently completed our home study and are officially matched with Kameron! We are hopeful that we will be bringing her home in 2019. We will keep you updated throughout this adoption process!

Would you consider joining us by becoming a prayer partner, financial donor, or social media promoter? Click on the Fundraising tab above to learn more about opportunities to support us. 

You can get updates via email if you click the + sign below and sign up to follow our blog. We are so thankful for each of you and the roles that you will play in Kameron’s life.