Adoption Disruption…Let’s Be Honest Part 2

Phone call comes in to a local adoption agency and on the other end of the line is an adoptive parent who is struggling with the child they chose to adopt.  They have not lost their commitment, but they have found themselves at a crossroads of serious issues that need to be addressed with intense therapy and maybe even a residential program/environment.  The internal struggle raging within that parent occurs for a number of reasons; first, they are committed, second, they know the child needs more help than they can give and/or afford, third, most states are highly lacking in post adoption services, and lastly they feel like they are on an island.  Where does the adoptive parent turn in this situation?  Maybe Medicaid, if there child is still on state insurance, unfortunately in my state, Medicaid for an adoptive child does not cover residential treatment services.

When talking about adoption disruptions we have to be honest about the areas that are lacking in leading to greater success for the child, parent, and overall family.  The number one lacking area in most cases is the support this family should receive from the state, as a parent who is willing to adopt a child that otherwise may linger in the foster care system until they age out.  Often times, the family feels like everyone was there to cheer them on up until the day of adoption, but afterwards the state turns their back and holds somewhat of a “you chose to adopt the child, now suck it up and deal with it” attitude toward them.  This attitude rarely leads to success and most of the time leads to failure.  In fact, in some states if the family turns to their local child welfare office they are told the only way to get help is to turn the child back over to the state and have a charge of child neglect against them.  Say what?!?

Parents who have chosen to adopt children that are from ‘hard places’, as Dr. Karyn Purvis would say, should have access to greater support networks of therapists, treatment centers, support groups, and possibly access to a worker within the state agency that could address their needs and point them in the right direction.

But, this isn’t just an ‘adoption from foster care’ issue.  This also carries over to families who have chosen to adopt children from ‘hard places’ around the world.  You remember the lady who shipped the child back to Russia on an airplane?  Yeah, the one that helped get the ball rolling on the current political climate amidst Russian politicians regarding international adoption of their children.  I do not know all the facts, and to be honest, I don’t know any of the facts of that case, but I do believe there are several individuals with good hearts who adopt children with a lack of knowledge regarding the child’s past and then they get them over here to America and believe love and God will change all things.  When in fact, their child may need some intense therapy and support, in addition, the family will need therapy, support, and more in-depth training.  Instead everyone is caught up in the euphoria of ‘saving an orphan’ and we all want to pat them on the back and then turn the other way when it get’s hard.  And, if it gets really hard?  Well, we might just hear things like, “I knew they shouldn’t have adopted that kid from another country…what were they thinking?”, “It is such a shame, they spend all that money and now they are stuck with a kid that is broken?”, “It looks like they got themselves into quite a mess now.” or “That’s why adoption is so risky, I would never take that risk.”  And, these are just things church friends or Pastor’s say, that’s the sad part.

How can you help?

  • Send a letter to your state legislator stating the importance of Post Adoption Services.  (Send it to both State and Federal, be an Advocate!)
  • Start a local adoption support group in your area (with babysitting provided).
  • Engage local organizations that specialize in attachment disorders, special needs, etc. and see if you can set up free trainings for adoptive parents.
  • Give an adoptive parent a 2 hour break for a date night, a coffee, or a quick run to the grocery store.
  • Be available….sometimes just having a friend who will allow you to vent and listen makes all the difference in the world.
  • Avoid judgemental comments and instead pray for and lift up the family and child.  Afterall, this family is truly living out the Gospel!
  • Surprise the family with dinner, lunch, or even a Saturday morning breakfast from time to time.  Living on the adoption island, especially with a child from a ‘hard place’, can be really lonely.
  • Offer support and encouragement.
  • Set up a training for the children’s staff in your church, so the family feels comfortable with leaving their child in the children’s area and do all you can to allow those parents an hour of worship and renewal with God.   They need it.
  • Set up a Big Brother, Big Sister program within your Church or network of friends that partners up with an adoptive child, to give that parent additional support.

These are just a few practical ways to be involved and engaged.  As I mentioned in my previous post on Adoption Disruption ( when an adoption fails, it is human error, not God’s error.  But, we can all be a part of helping maintain these adoptive placements.  We can all be a part of supporting these families and incredible children.  We can all be a part of God’s work in walking side by side with these families that are struggling to maintain their home and the child they have fought for and prayed for.

Together we can make an impact, together we can be the Church, together we can live out pure and true religion.


Why Would You Do That?

“I heard you took 4 kiddos into your home…Why would you do that?”

This was the question posed to us a few months ago.  It was innocent, and yet, very misguided.  The question came from an elderly Christian who had spent their entire life in the church.  Honestly, we were thrown back by the question and the only response we could think of was, “Why would we not do it?”

The early church made waves, because they chose to do things that were radical, abnormal, crazy and full of love.  Now it seems that when people decide to do something truly Gospel driven they get the most push back from ‘comfortable Christians’ within the church.  These individuals simply don’t understand why someone would want to lay their own life down to serve the ‘least of these’.

Hear our hearts, we have no desire to cast stones at anyone, because on our best days we are still highly imperfect individuals and we know even on the church’s best day it is still filled with highly imperfect people. But, we do desire for people to start ‘getting it’, to start living out the Gospel in evident ways. That is why we hope our lives are a canvas for God to paint His story in all it’s beauty and messiness, to encourage others that although this work is hard, it is possible and even rewarding.

What if it became the ‘norm’ in the church to take care of the ‘least of these’? To live out true religion by taking care of widows and orphans, to be the good Samaritan to our enemies, to forfeit our gain for the gain of others, to act like the early church and pull all our resources together to serve others in the body and show the world who Jesus truly is not only through our words, but our very lives. How would the world respond to that church?

The world has heard about our Jesus, but isn’t it time we as Christians start showing them our Jesus?

Yep, we took in four foster children. Why would we do that? Because, despite our huge imperfections, the Gospel compelled us to do so.

The Little Girl Who Changed Everything…

3 months of sickness

baked potatoes from Wendy’s

gallons of chocolate milk

9 months of growth

a daddy frantically painting his baby’s room

30 hours of labor

a waiting room full of family and friends who stayed through the night

ice chips, ice chips, ice chips (for mommy) and IHOP, donuts and Sonic (for daddy)

an epidural that wore off as the intensity of the contractions went up

and, then….at 10:03 AM we met her, the little girl who changed everything.

She was beautiful.  The moment we saw her we fell in love.  In fact, we have never been the same since we saw her beautiful, innocent, sweet face.  Her dark hair, dark eyes and warm spirit captured our hearts.  Her laugh still brings joy to us like we’ve never felt.  Her caring heart influences our decisions as a family.  She helped heal the wounds of our miscarriage.  She gave us the chance to be a mommy and daddy.  In fact, from the very first moment, she wrapped her daddy around her little finger and she has never let go.

We love our snuggle time, reading time, and prayer time with her.  We love her creativity and her love of art and crafts.  We are proud of the little lady she is becoming.  We are proud of her success in school and we love her heart for animals.

Her birth, seven years ago today, changed our lives forever and we are glad we have not been the same since.  Being her mommy and daddy is a blessing, honor, privilege and something we cherish every second of every day.

Happy 7th Birthday Princess!!  We love you more than you’ll ever know……


This Is Our Season

“All of us wonder how we would have acted in the epic struggles of human history. Would we have stood up and been counted among the courageous and just? Now we don’t have to wonder.  It is our time. Over 30 million worldwide live in slavery.”  – David Batstone, President Not for Sale

As a child I remember hearing the stories of Indians being massacred by settlers who took their land.  I remember hearing about how slave owners abused, mistreated and kept people in slavery.  I remember walking the grounds of Dachau and hearing the stories of the holocaust.  Every single time I would think, ‘if I were alive then, I would have stood on the side of justice and change.’  And, then I would think about my family, my friends, my neighbors and I would wonder to myself, ‘what would they have done?’

But, as I read the quote above I realize I do not have to live in the ‘I would have’, but I can be part of change today in the here and now, because slavery is still strong, genocide is still rampant, and throughout the world the mistreatment of people groups is ongoing.  I’m sure there were many who lived through the previous seasons of our history who had to live with, ‘I should have.’   I do not want to be one of those regretful people.

“There are more than 30 million slaves in the world today, more than at any other point in human history.” – Not for Sale Campaign

This is our season, this is our time, this is our chance to stand on the side of justice and change…..Will you join the movement, or will you look back twenty years from now and say, I should have…..??  Educate yourself, become aware, but more importantly begin to ACT!

Groups Standing for Change:

Love 146,

Not for Sale,


Polaris Project,

Exodus Cry,

Freedom Place,

***Statistics on Modern Day Slavery:


Snuggle Time and Love

Early on in our six-year old’s life we began a tradition called ‘snuggle time’.  Essentially, it is the time right before going to sleep where we lay in bed and snuggle her.  It was something that quickly became a favorite of hers and she would often tell us, ‘I’ll always be your nuggle-bug’.  Yes, nuggle, instead of snuggle.  This tradition has carried over to our second child and she appears to like it as much as her older sister.   We also started night-time devotionals and prayer with our daughters at an early age.  Something they are still quick to remind us of if we ever forget, especially on the nights they are avoiding sleep!

Since coming to our home in October our four foster children have been exposed to devotional, prayer, and snuggle time.  And, while we do not ‘snuggle’ them.  We do make a point to do devotionals and pray together.  Then we give each of them big hugs, tell them how much we love them, how proud of them we are and then we tuck them in to their beds.  And, if we ever forget, much like our biological daughters they are quick to let us know.

Funny thing is, these practices are just habit for us as parents.  And yet, tonight our 9 yr. old foster son asked Staci, “why do y’all give snuggles?’ Staci explained it is our way of showing love to our girls and then proceeded to ask him, “Didn’t you’re mom and dad snuggle you when you lived at home?”  He thought about it for a long time and then said, “No, but when I get home I’m going to teach my dad to tuck me in and read the Bible.” 

His statement is humbling and reminds us that they are watching how we love and how we parent.  It reminds us that our love will extend back into their home.  That our actions as parents now, will be reflected by these children when they are reunited with their biological parents.

These are the nights and statements that make what we do worth it, while also breaking our heart for the children we have grown to love.

If and when these children get to go home;

  • We hope their parents understand how precious these little ones really are. 
  • We hope their parents learn to tuck them in and read the Bible.
  • And, we hope these children remember what it is like to have a mom and dad make them feel important every night before bed. 

In this life we never know how our love will impact others.  But, this we do know…..Our love has already begun to create change beyond the present!


Chosen, A Mother of Six

“From Paul, God Himself chose me to be an apostle and He gave me the promised life that Jesus Christ makes possible.”  2 Timothy 1:1

Being a mom of six isn’t always easy.  There is always laundry to be folded, dishes to be washed, messes to be cleaned up, hugs to be given, stories to be heard, hurts to be fixed, snacks to be made, and love to be given.  But, this is the promised life that Jesus has made possible for me.  He has fought for me to be given this life of endless laundry and dishes, because I have been chosen (for now) to be the mom of an additional four children who are all beautiful inside and out.

This life of endless hugs and ‘I love you’s’.

This life of pouring myself out into others, but getting so much more back in return.

This life of continual blessings.

A life that can be hard at times, but then I’m reminded that I have been chosen, and, for me, that makes all the difference in the world!


Storybook Endings


For most teen girls, the opportunity to attend a prom is seen as a magical time when they have the opportunity to dress up, fix their hair, and be a princess for the night.  But what happens to the girls who can’t afford to purchase a nice dress and enjoy the magical evening?  One young lady asked this very question and decided to do something about it.  Rachel Smith, a senior at Canyon High, had been a part of service projects in the past and had always wanted to lead one herself, but had never had the opportunity until this past May.  That is when her parents attended an event hosted by Arrow Child and Family Ministries, and learned about the need for the Amarillo community to wrap their arms around young people in the foster care system.  Her parents came home that evening and shared everything they had learned with her.  She knew then she had to do something for these young people.

But what could she, a senior in high school, do to help these children?  That is when the idea of “Storybook Endings” came to her and she began to put in motion a plan to assist teen girls who found themselves in the foster care system during prom season.  As she began her senior year in high school, Rachel began organizing, publicizing, and advocating for other teenage girls to donate their old prom dresses so that girls in foster care would have an assortment of dresses to choose from for their prom in the spring of 2013. Rachel was blown away by the incredible responses by other girls and teachers in her school.  Over the span of a few months she was able to collect over 60 prom dresses and recently she delivered the dresses to Arrow Child and Family Ministries, a local non-profit organization that serves foster children in local foster homes, adoptive homes, and in an Emergency Children’s Shelter.

Wanting to change the world is not a new thing for Rachel, in fact, she hopes to major in Social Entrepreneurship in college and her ultimate goal is to use her skill-set and the skill-sets of those around her to better the world.  Organizing “Storybook Endings” would give her the opportunity to make an impact in the here-and-now, and serve teenagers in foster care, a group who are often forgotten by the rest of society.  Rachel stated that her idea for “Storybook Endings” came from the thought process that for every young girl, prom-time should be a time when they can wear a dress that will make them feel special.  In addition to gathering dresses, Rachel is working on collecting books for children and teenagers in foster care, creating for them a complete storybook ending.

Rachel Smith is proof that everyone can do something to serve others. Her story reminds us that we are never too young to begin changing the world around us, even if it begins with one dress or one book at a time. Everyone deserves a storybook ending, especially children who have already faced so many hardships in life.

To learn more about Arrow Child and Family Ministries and how you might be able to serve children in Foster Care, log on to Facebook at or contact Keith Howard at 1-806-335-9138 or