Sunday, February 1, 2015

What is "real"?

John 3:16   For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only (his biological) Son, that whoever believes in him (and is adopted by him) shall not perish but have eternal life.

  Galatians 4:4-5  
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman (biological), born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.[b]

Ephesians 1:5  He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will...

Romans 8:14  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons...

(words in red added by me)

So, my children have a mother who loves to write.  I would write all day if I had the chance.  I write for this blog, I used to write for Associated Content, which is now Yahoo something or the other and an online site called HUB.  
A friend of mine who read some of my articles and was compiling a book on the harder side of adoption, asked if she could use a couple of my articles in her book.  I told her I was glad for anyone to use them in any helpful way they wanted too.  Foster and foster adoption is my heart, and I was happy to help.
The book was published, and I was thrilled.  I bought 12 copies right away to give to my children.  It's a lovely book, called "Tied With Heartstrings" and I cried as I read the struggles other adoptive moms have gone thorough.  Adoption is pretty tough, and foster adoption toughest of all, in my opinion.
Adoption is also beautiful, and, if you will read the verses above, it was God's idea before the world began.  Because ALL of us, if we are Christians, have been adopted by God.  God had ONE biological son, Jesus.  The rest of us were adopted and given full heirship as God's sons and daughters.  Aren't we thankful that God loves us, his adopted children, just as much as he loved his biological son, Jesus?

I write about fostering and adoption a lot, because I believe it's something every Christian family should consider.  No child should be left in the system to age out with no real family.  Every Christian should think about welcoming a child without a family into their home.  It doesn't have to be through the state.  Just pray.  Tell God you are willing to take a child, then stand back and see what happens.  That's what I did.  And over the years, I have cared for more than 60 foster children, and have adopted five.  Am I done?  I don't know.  Let's wait and see what God does.

So, on with my story.  And I am not angry, honestly, but it may sound a bit like I am...

Angel-Leah has always struggled a bit with things people say to her about her adoption.  It's not adults but children.  There have been many times in her life that children have said hard, ugly things to her.  I don't think the children mean to be as ugly as they sound.  I think they truly do not understand.  And that's the fault of the adults in their lives.  Some of the meanest things said to Angel-Leah have been from children whose parents know her story well, in fact, know her birth parents, and have not explained what adoption means and why adoption sometimes occurs.  It's not fair.  I understand the need to protect their own children from a life story, but I need to protect my daughter - and yes, she is MY daughter, too.

Last week our church had an ordination and there were a LOT of visitors.  It seems that several of these families were families that had read Tied With Heartstrings, and they either read it to their children or their children (several of them) were old enough to read it themselves.  And they must have been told that Angel-Leah was the same little girl who went to Osceola church.

Now, let me give you a sample of some of the things that were said to her.  Here we go:

"Don't you love your birth mother?  Then why did you go live with Carla?"
"You love your birthmother?  Don't you love Carla?  She didn't HAVE to adopt you, you know."
"You love Carla?  It wasn't your birthmothers fault you got adopted.  She didn't HAVE to give birth to you, you know.  You should be grateful she didn't abort you."
"You should be grateful to Carla.  She didn't have to keep you.  Maybe she didn't want you.  Maybe CPS made her keep you."
"Do you miss your daddy that died?  He wasn't even your real daddy, you know."
"So Tommy is your only real brother?"

Yes.  These were real things that children said to Angel-Leah last week.  And people, this is terrible.  And it is horribly hurtful to a little 11 year old girl.  The children who were talking to her were both older and younger.  She says there were about 5 or 6 of them in about two different groups who said these things to her in the same evening.

Here's the truth about Angel-Leah, and Selah, and Luke, and Tommy and Cynthia.

They have two mommies.  They have the real mommy that birthed them. And they have me, the mommy who changed their diapers (well, okay, I didn't change Cynthia  :) ), who wipes their tears, who cleans their faces and the floor when they are sick, who makes sure they take their baths and brush their teeth, who makes sure they eat something besides candy at least some of the time, who makes sure they wear their coats, who kisses them when their noses are runny, who taught them to read and to add and to say thank you and to pray and taught them about God...and I am a real mommy, too.

It's okay for them to love both their mommies.  I would not have it any other way.

I didn't HAVE to adopt any of them.  I WANTED too.  I was and am GRATEFUL for the gift of them.  I am GRATEFUL, and I am sure the other two real mommies are too, that they had them and didn't abort them.

The daddy that died was their real daddy, and they mourn him like any other child would.  Two of them never knew their birth daddies.  Bill was the only daddy they ever knew.

And yes, Tommy is Angel-Leah's real brother.  Angel-Leah also has two half brothers that are real brothers.  She has five adopted brothers who are real, too, and a real half biological sister and five real adopted sisters.  None of us are play dough.  All of us are real, and we are a real family who lives together just like anyone else's family does.

Angel-Leah isn't the only one who has had hard things said to her.  I have too.  Here is a sample:

"You should mentor her birthmother.  Then maybe someday, she will get better, and you can give her her child back.  What?  You wouldn't give her back?  Have you no mercy?"
"There is NO WAY you could ever love an adopted child as much as you love a biological child."
"I would NEVER adopt an older child.  You just don't have as good a chance that they will become Christians."
"Someday, that child is just going to run back to his/her birth family and break your heart." 

My answers to those statements?

No, I won't give them back.  A child is not a commodity to be passed around.

Yes, I can and do love all my children with the same fierce love that would have me lay down my life for them.

God does not have grandchildren.  Each one of us must choose to serve the Lord, or serve the world.  No matter how your children come to you, or at what age, they must make their OWN decision.

My children will not have to run away from me back to their birth families.  One set of siblings, we have a wonderful open adoption and see some of the birth family often.  One 18 year old adopted child has already made a bit of contact with her birth family through facebook and the phone.  The other two, when the time comes, I will stand beside them and help them do this difficult thing, if that's what they choose to do.

So, what am I hoping to accomplish with this blog?  Just this, I guess...

The story in the book stopped when Angel-Leah was four years old.  It was written about a time just before and after her adoption, while she was still struggling with who she belonged too.  She loves me and I love her.  We have worked through that difficult time, and we will likely work through other aspects of her adoption for the rest of her life, like now, when people have said ugly, hard things to her.  As of now, she is firmly established in our family, she is OURS, I am her MOTHER, and she is my DAUGHTER, and we love each other as fully as any other mother and daughter love each other.  We are both "real" to each other.  Bill was "real" as her daddy.  And Rachael, Celeste, Gage, Max, Spencer, Beau, Mary Susannah, Cynthia, Luke, Selah and Tommy are "real" brothers and sisters, along with her two birth brothers and her little birth sister.  How horrible to try and say otherwise.

Mommies and Daddies, if there is an adopted child in your church or homeschool group, or anywhere else, help your child understand what adoption is.  Help them understand that it was not the adopted child's choice to leave their family.  Help them know they just might love both their birth family and their adopted family, and that is OKAY!!!  Hear me, that's OKAY!  Explain to them that an adopted family is a REAL family in the same way we are a REAL child to God our father, because He adopted us.  It's hard enough for your daddy to die without someone asking if you even miss him, since he wasn't your "real" daddy.  It's crummy to have someone tell you that your brothers and sisters and your mother and father aren't "really" your family.

So this was hard to know how to write.  I hope I have conveyed to some of you what your children may be saying to an adopted child, because although I am writing mostly about last Sunday, which was by far the worst it has been, this has been happening to Angel-Leah all her life.  When you talk about adoption to your child who was not adopted, be sure and explain to them that adoption makes a real family, and it doesn't necessarily erase the love that a child who was adopted at an older age might have for their first family, and that's okay.  It's okay to love both.  And it wasn't the child's fault that he or she lost that first family.  They didn't get to choose where they wanted to live.

Help your children learn to be gentle with my children, please.  They have been through so much, already...

Here is the latest picture of me and my six children who still live at home.  I love all 12 of my "real" children so much!!

1 John 3:1   See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.


  1. ugh. I'm shocked that they were so mean to her. Poor girl. And how immature of the parents to say what they did to you. I can hardly believe this. In our little church there is about 10 adopted children... and a lot of other children. I have NEVER once heard such things from anyone here. Only once, did I have a child really drill me on a my foster baby's status. BUt I understood. She herself was an adopted child and she just had to understand how this all worked. . .

    1. Our regular church family is wonderful. They have walked beside us so much during the time since Bill's death. and taken such care of us. These were the children of visitors that Sunday.

  2. You have a beautiful family -- God has a special plan for Angel- Leah. What a blessing for her to have a mom that she is able to share her heart with. I'm so sorry she was told such hurtful things but I wouldn't doubt she has a gift of compassion.

    I have always wanted to adopt but my husband has had so many struggles with his work and we have moved a lot.
    At this stage in my life (49) I feel I don't have the energy and strength to do it. I really enjoy your blog. Blessings --

    1. Hi, Dana! All my adoptions occurred after I was 50 years old!

  3. Thank you for this blog Mrs. Raley. My sweet children were also adopted from foster care and have heard some of the very things Angel-Leah did, especially my twin girls I adopted at the age of ten after fostering them for years. God bless your family and thank you for spreading light on this subject.

  4. Carla, I just want to hug you and Angel-Leah! Those were horrible, heartwrenching things said to both of you. Andy has not had people say mean things about his adoption. One of his friends who did not understand adoption spoke to me in private so I could answer his questions. The kid truly wanted to learn which reflected well of his parents. Before we adopted, I had several people question why we wanted to adopt older children from foster care, even case workers. With education through blogs like yours, our children will experience fewer confrontations regarding their adoptions.


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