Thursday, February 6, 2014


Caroline and Hayes were dedicated recently. A dedication has nothing to do with baptism or salvation. It is more of a declaration of how you want to raise your child and a time to reaffirm your commitment to raising your child in a biblical way. It is a time to pray and have your church family pray over both your parenting and your child's future. I don't have any sort of picture to commemorate that because we were preoccupied with child wrangling. :)

This baby dedication ceremony was done differently than any that I had seen. The pastor had looked up each child's name and found the meaning, then found a verse to correlate with that. Name meaning has significance in the Bible. Jesus renamed Peter. God renamed Jacob and Abraham. Mary was told what to name Jesus. We did not change Caroline's first name. This is the name given to her by her biological parents. One of the meanings of her name is "free man." The verse spoken over her was 
"So if the Son sets you free you are free indeed."   John 8:36

Freedom is God ordained for her from the time of her birth. Right now, she isn't free. She is bound up in feelings of unworthiness and a lack of belonging. She doesn't understand fully that she has a permanent family and that she is loved. She doesn't know what that means and still feels an orphan in many ways, I think. But God will not leave her in that place and He is giving us, and her, something to hang onto. We had just studied John ch 8 in my bible study that week, so it was awesome timing.  The next week was John ch 9.

She's doing the sprinkler. She gets her awesome moves from me. 
Before I go to this part, I should back up. Caroline is crazy smart. She didn't know a single letter or number 7 months ago and is now reading and doing addition, while simultaneously dealing with all that has happened to her. She is an anomaly when you look at what research says about kids from her background. Her reading teacher is blown away by what she does and how she catches onto things. That being said, there are natural stages of development that progress a child from point a to point b, all of which she missed. For example, they generally learn to differentiate shapes, then they are better equipped to distinguish letters, etc. The same sort of thing happens in emotional/social development and there are gaps. She missed so many stepping stones along the way and it shows. The more we learn about parenting a child from a hard place, the more I realize her long term emotional and even physical health is strongly shaped by these first few years of her life. God has gone before us in every single step of this and it's not something I obsess over. Frankly, the next 10 minutes are usually challenging enough to keep me occupied and I don't even have the luxury of thinking that long term. But the times I do, I have felt this will be something that is a lifelong battle for her. Right before she came home, I read Steve Jobs biography and he struggled with his adoption, and he was adopted at birth. Adoption and abandonment plagued him his whole life and he seemed to more strongly identify with the biological sister he met as an adult than adoptive family who raised him and seemed to have loved him well. It's an issue of deep loss in the best case scenario. Caroline's adoption certainly isn't the best case scenario. That doesn't have to define her but it will always be part of her story.

Reading like a boss.
In chapter 9, Jesus restores the sight of a man blind from birth. There are a handful of cases where people who were blinded in their early years have had their sight restored in adulthood. There are major issues with these people. Your sight develops over time and there are developmental steps it needs to go through. When man restores things, they can't immediately, if ever, fill these holes. While these people technically can see the world around them, they don't understand what they are seeing. They can't distinguish faces, or foreground from background. It's not true restoration. When Jesus gave this man his sight back, he restored what had been lost from birth. He fully, completely, and willingly, gave this man exactly what he had lost. It was as if he had always been able to see. I am hanging onto that for Caroline, because that is what she needs to set her free to truly live the new life God gave her.

There is fear in adopting an "older" child. Since our adoption happened literally overnight, God spared me much of that. But if I'd had the time to actually think about what was happening I'm sure I could have created numerous doomsday scenarios. When people ask questions, I am reminded again how scary that is/would have been. And I try to answer as honestly as possible because it will certainly mess up your plans and take over your life and expose all of your weaknesses. But God is showing us how He is doing things we are incapable of. And He's not waiting until we have faith that He will do it or until we get parenting just right. He's doing it anyway, right now, in the middle of all of our screw-ups and inadequacies. Total strangers notice a change in her. The day after she came home I went to Crazy 8 and just asked the sales associate to pick things out that we need, explaining she had nothing. I was too numb to do anything but hold the things she gave me. We've seen that same lady several times since then and the last time I saw her she pulled me aside with tears in her eyes and couldn't believe the transformation in Caroline. She just tried to fade into the background at first. Now she will confidently engage any adult that gives her half a chance. She smiles. She laughs. She bosses her brothers around. There is so much healing to be done in her. But it is amazing what God has done in 8 short months! And He's just getting started.
Here she is the day before she came home.

She couldn't even look at the camera. She was a lost little girl in every way. God is doing amazing things in our little girl's life and I'm so thankful to have a front row seat to all of it.

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."
John 8:36


  1. What a beautiful picture of God's adoption of us. Your family is inspiring to so many of us. Miss you guys and love you! Bobbie

  2. You are amazing! Thank you for sharing your heart...what a blessed little girl to have you as her mother! Praying for healing for sweet Caroline...that she will feel free indeed! Freed by His blood and the love of a beautiful family!

  3. Not sure how I found your blog, but I started reading just before you adopted Caroline. I started reading at first because you have such a wonderful way with words. But then, Caroline came. And I look for updates every week. Her story draws me in. I am adopted too, adopted from birth. And even though I LOVE my family, this road has been hard for me, at times I feel like nobody understands. But then I read your words and I can't believe what a good grasp you have with what's going on with Caroline. I wish my Mother understood half of what you do. Anyway, I just want to say, keep up the great work. You do an awesome job raising your beautiful kids. Caroline is such a blessed, beautiful girl, and God gave her to you for a reason. I think it's because He knew you would do such a great job helping her through this thing called Life. Love to you.