Monday, June 3, 2013

it is of His mercy

What does developmental delay really look like?

The question showed up in my Inbox a few weeks ago. This particular family had been praying and seeking the Lord's direction on adopting a child (or children) from S and Faith's country and wanted honest answers about what life really looks like with a child with institutional and developmental delays.

Was it love at first sight? 

Did you instantly know that she was the one?

Why did you say you would never adopt again? 

(I had shared with her in a previous email about a {very one-sided} conversation that I had with the Lord on our first night home with Sophi. By far, it was one of the hardest nights of my life!)

Will S ever be able to live independently?

In retrospect, would you have adopted two children at once or would it have been too intense to bring another one home at the same time?

Her questions made me pause. They made me think long and hard about how I would describe these last 10 months. Yes, that's it! That's exactly the words I would use to tell her about this past year...long and hard, but full of His mercies and overflowing with His grace. The hardest kind of good there is!

During the first few months S was home, I hand-fed her every bite of food that she ate.
It was intense to say the least, and for the longest time, I DREADED meal time.
This was partly due to the fact that meal time lasted predominately all day long and often well into the night!
We've come a LONG way, but this is still not my favorite time of the day.

First in my mind and then a week or two later in an email response, I've finally started tackling her questions. It's taken a while for me to sort through it all in my head and in my heart. I still have my own share of unanswered questions...

We've received our fair share of questions from friends and family too, and the process of working through them has been healthy and therapeutic for me. Many are incredibly valid and I am still wrestling with them myself. Like, how do you fit all of those kids in your house? Do they fit in your van? Don't you think seven is enough? Isn't 7 the "perfect" number? Surely, y'all are done now!!! And then there are the more weighty questions. Like, how will you be able to afford the medical expenses that a child like Faith may incur? How do you find time to spend with each of them, one-on-one? Why not adopt domestically? Do you really want to put your {real} children through all of this? Why adopt anyway??? The questions abound, and I'm thankful for the One who never tires of me bringing them before Him.

This new friend of mine is just in the beginning stages of the process. She and her husband are just getting their feet wet, and I distinctly remember having the very same questions and concerns that she posed to me. I remember feeling so overwhelmed in those early days of our adoption journey...

At least, I thought I was overwhelmed. Now, it's not just my feet that are wet. I'm entirely soaked, completely drenched, and some days I even feel like I'm drowning, bobbing up out of the waters of parenting a special needs adopted child {with numerous institutional behaviors and sensory processing issues} just long enough to grab a breath of fresh air and let out a desperate cry for help. 

I've always been intentional about being transparent in my writing, and I've always wanted to be careful to not paint a sugar-coated picture of adoption. While I'm sure that some people have smooth and seemingly easy transitions, for us, it has been hard and messy work. The pictures I post are most often full of happy and smiling faces, but there are plenty of the other kind that I don't share. This friend told me that she never would have known that S had these types of challenges just by looking at her pictures...

So, I answered my friend as truthfully as I know how. I told her that it was hard, intense, time-consuming, challenging, and often frustrating. And while I definitely have these same type of moments with my biological children, it still feels very different with S. 

The color makes NO difference when you are desperate!

But at the end of the day, no matter how hard it has been, no matter how hard it may get, and no matter what I feel, I know that we have walked in obedience and answered the Lord's call to bring this little girl into our home and our family. And we're about to do it all over again. Not because we have some unfulfilled need in our own hearts. Not because it makes us feel like better people. Not because we consider ourselves rescuers or heroes or anything out of the ordinary. And certainly not because it has been easy or fun. But simply because it's what He has asked us to do.

Defend the weak and the fatherless;
    uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.

Psalm 82:3, NIV


It has stretched me more than all 5 of my pregnancies combined, and I've cried more tears these past 10 months than the past 10 years combined. If I had a penny for all the times I've muttered under my breath "this feels miserable", Faith's adoption would be fully funded. There have been many miserably hard and trying moments, but still this truth remains:

We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.

Romans 8:28, Amplified Bible

I cannot tell you how many times I've clung to these words since S's first few weeks at home last August.
 for our good and for His glory

I daily have to make the choice to believe the truth of these words. Even when everything around me is shouting "LIE, LIE" and I cannot see the evidence of His hand at work {at least not in the ways I want to see}. He IS working. I know that He is! If I will just open my eyes and open my heart, I can see light streaming in through the darkness. Every gray hair, every long night, every raging episode, and every trying moment. It will be worth it. She is worth it, but even more, He is worth it. Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.

Our Home Study was approved this week, and we mailed off our 1800a application last Friday.
I laughed when I saw all the choices for hair color. Green? Purple?
We had a big debate about whether my hair was brown or black.
The verdict was black, but it might be gray by the time we finally get Faith Ana home!

I don't know what it will look like in the years ahead, and that's ok. I know what it looks like to parent S today, and that's enough. I know that I will have to remind her 100 times {at breakfast alone} to use her teeth and to chew her food. I know that at least that many times I'll have to tell her the word for the picture she's pointing to in her picture book. (Today she is stuck on swimsuit,tractor,and cauliflower.)Instead of frustration and irritation, I know that my perspective should be that these really are victories and big victories at that. She's now able to actually chew as opposed to when we first met her and everything had to be mashed to a baby food consistency. She also is finally using her eyes to look at a book instead of aimlessly flipping through it like she did just 2 months ago. This is progress! But while I know the truth of this now as I'm writing these words, in the thick of it, it's hard to think of anything except "will she ever get it? or "I've told you cauliflower 72 times already this morning, and if you like it so much I'll add some to your yogurt for breakfast!!!

Developmentally, my 2 girlies are very much at the same level.
Evie is about to celebrate her first birthday, and S just turned 7!

I know what today looks like, and, honestly, I'm weary of it. It's monotonous and maddening and reveals things in me that I'd just rather overlook. BUT this is the beauty of the crazy life He has chosen for me! He's using this to make me more like Him! He's showing me that He's enough! His grace is enough for the many ways I mess up being a Momma. For all of my shortcomings, my temper, my impatience, my insecurities, my fears, my second thoughts, my doubts, and my unfaithfulness, His grace is enough. And His love is enough, too. Mine runs out before the morning is half way over, but His is an unending, inexhaustible supply. And I need Him to fill me up {once more} so that I can pour it out on this precious one who, for the most part, has not yet learned how to love in return. 

You never can measure what God will do through you if you are rightly related to Jesus Christ. Keep your relationship right with Him, then whatever circumstances you are in, and whoever you meet day by day, 
He is pouring rivers of living water through you, 
and it is of His mercy that He does not let you know it...
Remember that wherever you are, you are put there by God.

Oswald Chambers

Learning together! :)

We are taking it one day at a time around here. As I'm struggling to know what my expectations should be for this precious child {and for myself}, I find myself in a place of utter dependence on the One who fashioned her in the first place. The One who knows her inside and out. The One who understands how her little mind is working or not working {because I sure don't have a clue}. The One who knows every broken, wounded, and shut-down place in her heart AND holds this very heart in the palm of His hand. And, well, this utter dependence, this crazy desperation, this helpless feeling of not knowing how to help this little girl - this is a good place to be! Another mercy!

We've shared how the Lord had brought us into this same kind of place with our finances and fundraising for Faith's adoption. It seems to be a general theme in our lives, and I'm grateful. Truly, I am. I think about those words by Oswald Chambers and maybe, just maybe, I'm starting to get it. It seems that I'm the slow learner in the bunch!

...and it is of His mercy that He does not let you know it...

I truly believe that this little girl will one day speak and sing.
Her favorite song is Jesus Loves Me. She knows the words by heart and tries to sing along!

By the way, this has been my theme song for the day. Clink on the link below and be encouraged!

Lord, I need You.
Every hour I need You.
My one defense, my righteousness,
Oh God, how I need You...
Teach my song to rise to You...
When I cannot stand, I'll fall on You.
Jesus, You are my hope and stay.



  1. Melanie, thanks for always being honest. I always find so much truth in your posts...and oh how I can relate. Its hard to share the hard stuff, because I don't want people questioning why I'd bring another child into my home...but whether people can understand or not, I understand...God is enough. He is always enough. And so we press on!

  2. Thank you for your honesty! You are so right- my patience runs out quickly every morning but the Lord's grace keeps me going! I love the video of Jesus Loves Me. Thank you for your honesty!

  3. Melanie,

    I have an adoption fundraising idea I'd like to share with you. Could you email me at


    Matthew Lee

  4. Loved reading your thoughts shared here. We had one of those "easy" transitions with our adoption, but I always relate to so much of what you share simply being a homeschooling mom of a large family. I often think of how overwhelming it must have been to have a new baby while adopting and to get your large family so quickly, but by everything you've shared, it's clear that the Lord has had you right where you need to be and you've clung to Him every step of the way. Beautiful.

  5. I am so, so, so encouraged by your writing. Thanks for sharing the truth. :)