A Community of Resources

I had the privilege of spending the weekend with 200 of the most wonderful women of Crossline Church in California.  They titled their weekend women’s retreat “No More Ms. Perfect,” and we dug into the “No More Perfect…” message all weekend.

One of our topics was taking off our masks, being honest about what we are dealing with. There’s always a risk involved in doing so, but I have found that the benefits outweigh the risks.

86489260There are three benefits I have experienced from honesty and vulnerability:

1) You find out you’re not alone.  When you share with others what is going on, sometimes they can relate and sometimes they know someone who can relate. When I shared the mental health issues our son is dealing with with a mom I know, she connected me to another mom who is about 4 years ahead of us.  I was so grateful!

2) You expand your network of resources.  When you share the challenges you are facing, it opens the door for others to assist you.  One phone call to my pastor after Kolya went into the hospital connected me to Michelle at our church who works in the mental health community.  Within hours, Michelle had given me a list of resources to explore and a list of things I needed to do access the help he needed.  The funny thing is that I totally know Michelle and I know where she works. However, in the craziness of his hospitalization, I completed forgot she could help.  I needed someone else to think in that moment and I was grateful when my pastor did that!

3) You increase the number of people praying for you. Prayer makes a difference. It provides direction, gives peace, and moves mountains that could not be moved in any other way. When you are dealing with some tough stuff, you need people to knock on the gates of heaven on your behalf.

What about you? What benefits have you found in taking off your mask and letting others in? 

I wouldn’t wish this on any mother…

_DSC0627When we knew we were called to adopt, we knew that there were issues we could face. We hadn’t influenced our son’s early years. We weren’t able to lay a foundation for his life spiritually, emotionally, physically, and relationally. We knew we came in late in the game when he became a member of our family at age 9.

What a joy it has been to watch him flourish. He found God and had to write his birth parents to tell them that Jesus loved them. (No, he never heard back from them.) He discovered his love of hard work and dreamed of owning his own construction company. He  flourished in physical education at school and has toyed with the idea of being a person trainer. He loves woodworking and has dabbled with making his own furniture. It has been a joy to watch him discover who he is and how God has made him!

On the flip side, however, it has been heartbreaking as he has dealt with the rejection that is often inherent in adoption.  He has struggled to know where he fits into the family unit that he feels so different from. He doesn’t know how to accept the love of a family that he spent the first 9 years of his life dreaming about. His diagnosis of PTSD, RAD, and Clinical Depression have landed him in the mental health ward of the hospital on two occasions now.

He has graciously allowed me to share this with you. “If my story can help someone else, mom, then it’s ok to share it,” he said to me in March before the Hearts at Home conference and he repeated to me the other day as I visited him at the hospital.

I wouldn’t wish this on any mother, or any father, or any son, or any daughter, but it is real.  The mental health maze is very difficult to navigate.  There is no one place you go to figure out how to find the care and the resources your loved one needs.  This week I am piecing together a puzzle that I didn’t even know existed two weeks ago.

Forgive me for not posting as frequently as I usually do this week and probably over the next few weeks.  Forgive me for sharing more than one guest post in a week. I’m juggling my usual daily responsibilities with additional meetings, phone calls, conference calls, and research trying to find the right help for a loved one who needs it.

If you are navigating the mental health maze, you are not alone. As I always do, I’ll share what I learn because it just might help someone else out there.   I wouldn’t wish this on anyone else…but I know I’m not the only one walking this road.

5 Resources for Adoptive Families

146966634 (2)I’ve talked to many families of late who have experienced the hard side of adoption. It’s not something we’re unfamiliar with ourselves.

Adopted children often have trouble connecting to the family who loves them. They have special parenting needs.  Sometimes they need to heal from pre-adoption abuse or neglect.

I’ve become familiar with some wonderful preparation for adoption and post-adoption resources over the past few weeks. If you are thinking about adopting, have adopted, or if you know someone who has, these are resources every adoptive family needs to know about.

Empowered To Connect Conferences

Empowered To Connect Free Online Videos and Resources

The Connected Child Book by Karen Purvis

When Love Is Not Enough Book by Nancy Thomas

The Beatitude House Intensive Treatment Center

What about you?  Do you know of any other good resources for adoptive families?

31 Days of Hope for Adoptive Moms

Today I want to introduce you to Shelly. Shelly is a dedicated wife and mother of five blessings from around the globe.  She is known for being an encourager, prayer warrior and advocate for the Fatherless. While serving with the ABBA Fund, Shelly strives not only to see children be placed in families, but for those families to thrive.  She blogs at reachingheartsblog.com and is also a women’s speaker and enjoys traveling all over the US, bringing inspiring insight to impact and encourage all who hear.

Shelly’s new book, 31 Nuggets of Hope, is now available at www.31nuggetsofhope.com. Today we’re giving away one of her books!  If you’re an adoptive mom, leave a comment about one of the toughest challenges you’ve faced in your adoption journey.  If you’re not an adoptive mom but would like to win the book for a friend, leave a comment about how you’ve been impacted by watching her adoption journey, or how adoption has touched your life in some way.  (If you’re reading this in your email, you can leave a comment here.)

Now let’s hear a bit from Shelly’s heart:

You obviously have a heart for adoption. Why is that?
During our years as church planting missionaries, God taught us about His heart for the Fatherless.  We already had three young sons with a very meager income.  I loved being a mom and to know there were millions of children both in the US and around the world that didn’t have a momma anymore who could comfort and shepherd them – well, I couldn’t keep from stepping forward.  Adoption for our family was extremely impractical, yet with our eyes fixed on eternal values, we knew there was no obstacle too big to keep us from the children God had for us to care for.  I am radically blessed to be called Momma by all five of our kiddos.

What prompted you to write the book?
Over the years as I have helped encourage and equip adoptive families, I sought out resources to point them to.  I was seeing families struggle, marriages being strained and adoptive mommas hurting with nowhere to turn.  These moms needed HOPE.  They needed to know they are not alone.  My search for resources with these precious moms in mind came up empty.  A few years later, 31 Nuggets of Hope was birthed.  There is SO much HOPE awaiting these moms!

If you could tell adoptive moms one thing, what would it be?
No matter how bleak your current circumstances are, there is HOPE!  You never have to walk this journey alone.

If you could tell moms who haven’t adopted one thing that would help them know how to encourage a friend who is or has adopted, what would it be?
Adoption isn’t a fairy-tale.  There are real people with deep needs involved.  The amazing part though is that the One who created each of us knows every need, every loss, every hurt.  If you see your adoptive mom friend struggling – remind her there is HOPE, take her some chocolate and let her know you care.  Celebrate the milestones with her!

What about you?  We’d love to hear how adoption has touched your life in some way!

Family Matters Day 4: Kolya

Kolya is 18, and my fourth youngest child, yet he’s the newest member of the Savage family. We adopted Kolya 9 years ago from Russia. He lived the first 9 years in an orphanage. If you’ve never read our adoption story, you can do so here. It’s quite a God Story!

Kolya loves any type of manual labor. He’s a hard worker who has three different part-time jobs: cleaning new construction, working for a construction company as a helper, and working for a masonry company as a helper.  Kolya longs for a career that will keep him working hard physically and outside as much as possible.  (Leading him into a “trade” career is new territory for Mark and I. Any wisdom a seasoned mom can share with me on how to secure apprenticeships would be greatly appreciated!)

Kolya has a ton of energy and loves to have fun. He’s got a fun, crazy side that occasionally shines through!  Kolya serves on the sound team at church.  He’s also a runner. He prefers not to compete, but rather to run for enjoyment.

Today is Kolya’s first full day of school as a high school senior. He takes 1/2 day of core classes and then goes to another high school in town to spend the other half of the day studying construction management. He’s looking forward to graduating and being on his own as soon as possible. I try to not take that personally…he was, after all, practically on his own the first 9 years of his life!

Kolya has challenged me to be an advocate for my kids in the school system. He is an ELL (English Language Learner). Even though he retains no Russian, English is still very challenging for him.  When it seemed like he might fall through the traditional educational “cracks,” I’ve had to speak up and get him the accommodations needed for him to be successful in the classroom.

Has parenting an adopted child been easy? No, it hasn’t. It comes with its own set of challenges. However, parenting my biological kids hasn’t always been easy either. They are all unique human beings who have needed unique help from Mark and I. Figuring that out is what parenting is all about.

Now you’ve met my 4th child. If you have four or more kids, I’d love to hear about your 4th child! (If you are reading this in email, you can leave a comment here. Simply click and then scroll down to the bottom of this post and click on ‘comments’ to share!)

November is National Adoption Month…it’s another Giveaway!

Did you like the idea of yesterday’s “Family Challenge” guest post by Jane Graham.  I loved it!  The links to her two blogs were incorrect yesterday…so sorry!  If you want more encouragement like that, you can find her at www.unofficialhomeschooler.com and www.girlmeetspaper.com.  I especially love her “Unofficial Homeschooler” website…(it’s not really for homeschooling moms…it’s built upon the premise that every parent is their child’s first teacher…great stuff!)

Well it’s still November…yes, I know most of us have Christmas on the brain, but we’re still in November and do you know what that means?  November is National Adoption Month!

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to speak at a MOPS group in Crown Point, Indiana. In honor of National Adoption Month, they shared this video called “What Adoption Means to Me” that I asked them if I could share with you.  (Click on the picture to launch the video.)

 As you may know, I’m a firm believer in adoption.  However, I wasn’t until God took our family on an unexpected journey of adoption.  Our son Kolya was 9 when he became a part of our family.  (You can read that story here.) After living the first 9 years of his life in an orphanage, today he’s a 17-year-old young man with a bright future ahead of him.

We honestly didn’t “need” another child, but there was a child who needed a family.  God showed me that adoption exists not just for the sake of building a family, but also because there are children that desperately need a family.

I follow several adoption blogs that touch my heart.

Kisses from Katie

The Blessing of Verity

Your Adoption Coach

Not everyone is called to adopt, but God tells us that we are all to take care of orphans (James 1:27). When we adopted Kolya, there were over 100 people who gave us gifts of $25, $50, or any denomination of hundreds of dollars.  One gift of several thousand dollars came from a single friend of ours.

Another friend of ours from Ukraine served as a translator when we brought our son home from Russia. Another friend assisted me with understanding the ESL (English as a Second Language) learning challenges.

All of these people helped take care of Kolya, either to bring him into our family or to help transition him into our family.

In honor of National Adoption Month, I’m giving away a copy of a brand new adoption resource called Before You Were Mine.

To be entered into the drawing for this book, leave a comment on how you have helped to care for orphans or how adoption has touched your family in some way.

Oh, and if you know someone who is adopting, could you pass this along to them?


Praying Through Your Adoption Book Giveaway

If you’ve been hanging around on my blog for very long, you know that I’m a firm believer in adoption.  I didn’t start out that way, but after four biological children (and the necessary surgery to make sure our family was complete!), God placed another son in our family through adoption.  If you’ve never read our adoption God-story, you can do that here.

Several months ago, I was asked to share our story in a book about adoption.  Today I want to introduce you to this great new resource, Praying Through Your Adoption, and the woman who wrote it, Michele Scott.

Michele, what inspired you to write Praying Through Your Adoption?
Prayer has always been important to me. I turned to God in prayer during our infertility, and I had planned to pray through a pregnancy if that had been God’s plan. While adopting our son from Russia, we experienced painful delays and obstacles, such as increased fees and additional paperwork. At a particularly low point in the adoption process, I participated in an online prayer vigil that directed me to pray for very specific aspects of adoption – from government officials to waiting children. I realized the power of prayer specifically in adoption and saw the need to help other families pray through their adoptions as well.

How did you come up with the title?
Becoming an adoptive family is a process. First, you make decisions about the type of adoption and the age of child you wish to pursue. Then you work to become approved, educated, and prepared for welcoming and parenting this new child. Praying Through Your Adoption shows families how to rely on God and their faith through the entire journey of creating and nurturing their forever family.

What other life experiences shaped you to write this book?
Wow, many life experiences influenced this book. Our infertility is probably the biggest since the longing and waiting for our son is a large portion of our story. But even getting laid-off right before our adoption, experiencing post-adoption depression, and dealing with special needs made me want to encourage others dealing with similar difficulties.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Retelling my experience with post-adoption depression was hard. After our difficult time becoming parents, I never imagined I’d feel overwhelmed, anxious, and depressed as a new mom. As much as I wanted to skip over that chapter in my life and in the book, I felt it was important to paint a realistic picture for prospective adoptive families. Thankfully, other adoptive families were willing to share their real-life joys and challenges in the book as well.

What’s one of the most important things people need to know about adoption?
One of my favorite quotes in the book is from the late Derek Loux, an adoptive father of and an advocate for orphans. He said,

“My friends, adoption is redemption. It’s costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous. Buying back lives costs so much. When God set out to redeem us, it killed Him. And when He redeems us, we can’t even really appreciate or comprehend it.”

Derek’s words capture so much. There is loss, and, yes, there are sacrifices – financial and otherwise – in adoption. But the rewards for answering God’s call to care for orphans are priceless.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I’m sure I learned a lot, but I was especially overwhelmed by the amount of transparency and support I received from the adoption community. The families featured in the book, in particular, poured out their hearts and souls. For some, telling their stories was pure celebration and thanksgiving to God. For others, it was probably a means for healing. I’m eternally grateful, and I think the readers will be, too.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
With over 143 million orphans across the globe, I would love to see more families consider adoption. But I deeply respect the person who hears this interview or picks up this book and, for whatever reason, decides adoption is not right for them, I hope they would still consider providing prayer support and perhaps even financial support to families who are pursuing adoption.

For more information on Michele Cervone Scott and Praying Through Your Adoption, please visit www.MicheleCScott.com.

I’m giving away one copy of Michele’s book today.  If you’d like to be entered into the random drawing to receive a copy, leave a comment on this post simply stating why you would like a copy of the book.   (If you’re receiving this post by email, click HERE to leave a comment.)