Adoption – GEESH… It’s a Wild Ride

* Guest post by Kylie Gray

Adoption, geesh! It’s a wild ride.

When we first brought our boys back home almost two years ago, we didn’t have a CLUE what the heck to expect. No one can prepare you for adopting a 6-year-old and two 4-year-olds. I remember when we first got the boys being in dire need of someone to come alongside me and show me the ropes, or so I thought. In fact, not having someone who had gone through the same thing brought me closer to the Lord than ever before. He had gone before me and that’s all I needed.

When people ask about our adoption…

I get asked often about our adoption, whether people are curious about their own adoption journey and wanting advice or just wanting to hear our story of how we did it, I always say the same thing:

1. Make sure your spouse is all in as much as you! I cannot stress this enough. If my husband wasn’t wanting this as much as me then anytime there was conflict or an issue to come up, our marriage or adoption would have failed. Start together on the same team so no matter what comes up you can tackle it together. And by golly, crap will hit the fan, it’s a matter of when not if.

2. DO IT! It’s a big step and people are always a little leary when it comes to officially pull the plug. At the least go take the intro class, its free so what is the harm. I believe adoption is not right for everyone, but I always encourage people to find out if it is.

My Biggest piece of Advice…

3. PRAY! That’s it. If you are like me adoption will drive you to pray more than ever. It’s changed me. I now have 3 children but that’s not the only reason why I am different. I believe my prayer time changed my whole life. Relationship with my husband and children certainly, but also my extended family and close friends. I am still a workin’ on a lot, don’t get me wrong but, heck I have come along way.

Finally, I came to terms with this…

And lastly…..

4. Okay, this is the first time I am saying this out loud to anyone, but it needs to be heard and will be added to my repertoire from now on. When these children come into your home they come with hurts of all sorts. I don’t mean physical hurts, that can happen too, I mean emotional hurts of baggage, trauma, triggers, and so on and so on. You want it to go away. Just leave!!! I wanted to pretend it didn’t exist for a good solid… oh who I am kidding. This week, this week is when the Lord really spoke to me and allowed me to see what I didn’t want to see for the past 2 years. Their baggage doesn’t just go away. I heard on The Whole House podcast this week Kathleen saying how I am feeling, “their past doesn’t go away, as much as I wanted it to” I am paraphrasing here, but essentially that’s how I feel. I want their horrible past to vanish! But it doesn’t.  And that…. Is…. OKAY! It’s okay for them to be able to have the feelings that come with that too. It’s okay for them to have triggers. And you know what?? It’s not your FAULT! It has taken me this long to be able to come to terms with this, it’s hard, man. I love my children and I hate seeing pain come back onto their faces. I didn’t cause the pain and didn’t have any CONTROL, that’s why I wanted it to go away. But they have the pain, nevertheless. Not taking their actions and mainly behaviors personally is one of my biggest struggles still. Like I said, this week I finally let the Lord show me this, imagine if I had allowed this into my life from the get-go. I know one thing, it sure would have saved me a lot of embarrassment, guilt, anxiety, worry, and tears!

 

So, is adoption worth it?

Adoption is 100 million percent worth it, I would never take it back if could. Although at the beginning you might second or the twentieth guess yourself, but don’t give up!

“Trust the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”

-Proverbs 3:5

Listen to Kylie’s podcast and read her bio below!

Episode 67

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I am Kylie Gray, 29 years old, I married Trey, my college sweetheart. We live on a small 5-acre homestead in Central Oregon with our 3 boys! We adopted all three of our boys out of the foster care system here in Oregon about 2 years ago. It’s been a wild crazy road, but totally worth it! We keep busy by fixing up our old farmhouse, taking care of our growing population of farm animals, trying to figure out gardening, all while homeschooling all 3 of our boys! Come follow along with our journey on my blog blackwhiteandthegrays.com and Instagram/Facebook at Black White and the Grays.

 

https://blackwhiteandthegrays.com/

Adoption and Valentine’s Day

Adoption. It used to be just a word to me. I had no idea what it meant. This Valentine’s Day, I think a post on adoption fits. Adoption is a pure form of love instituted before the world began.

 

What compelled me to board a plane, fly to a foreign country and adopt strangers?

God in His wisdom built the foundation of society on the family: Adam, Eve, a beautiful perfect home, and the command to be fruitful and multiply. Adam and Eve ate the only forbidden fruit and sin entered the world–the great divorce of heaven and earth. The first family was torn apart.  Adam and Eve were ripped from the garden and from the connection with their heavenly Father.

I huddled beside Anne under the gray metal desk, licking icing from sticky fingers. Cold fear seized me, wrapping its tenacious tendrils around my heart and setting up residence. Sweet donuts heightened my fear, supercharging my blood sugar.  

It was a frosty October evening in 1969. My father’s objection to the expulsion of fourteen black football players from Wyoming State University immersed my family in a bitter battle. My father hid us in his office to avoid the tumult on campus.

My parents’ lifestyle in the turbulent sixties and seventies had us on the run from one university town to another.  I toddled around with a sense of evil foreboding usually reserved for veterans of Vietnam.  My dad ranted and raved about the evils of our society with the stench of alcohol on his breath. We marched for Civil Rights and Dad campaigned for McCarthy. Watergate news coverage blared on the TV while Peter, Paul and Mary played on the stereo.  My childhood innocence and sense of wonder was lost.  Every anxious day, a new catastrophe loomed on the horizon. My father spent his days off sleeping off hangovers or nursing them with even more liquor. Although the record turntable sang “We Shall Overcome,” my family lived in an oppressive pit.

Then one day, my father burst out of the house like an angry hornet.  He jumped in the teal Suburban and sped down the lane. I sat on the back porch , staring at my new red sneakers. My brother ran after him yelling, “Dad, don’t leave!” Tears dripped down his dusty, sweaty cheeks.

My father was gone.  

This was my first exposure to the reality of the great divorce of heaven and earth. I was banished from the only Eden I had ever known, flawed as it was.  I was a hurt child, reaping the consequences of someone else’s life choices just as children all over the world– children who are  victims of circumstances, hunger, rejection, alcohol addiction, depression, rage, fear, punishments, loss of temper, war, famine, prostitution, and drugs.  The pit is the same in any language: Deep, dark, and putrid.  No matter what the cause of the rejection or abandonment, the feelings are the same. The devastation parallels Adam and Eve’s separation from the Heavenly Father.

All adoption is preceded by sin.  Just as my adoption as God’s child was prefaced by my sinful nature, all adoption is foreshadowed by the original sin.  The Father knew man would fall, iniquity would enter the world, satan would have dominion, families would fall apart, children would suffer.  What was His predetermined response to this?

“Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in

Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set

apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love.

For He foreordained us (destined us, planned in love for us) to be adopted (revealed)

as His own children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the purpose of His will

[because it pleased Him and was His kind intent].” -Ephesians 1:4-5, AMP

He sent His only beloved Son to restore the breach the great divorce had caused and then adopted us as His own children. I came to know the joy of that adoption for myself and had a heart for lost children, whether lost spiritually or physically. There is a big step, however, from having a desire to leaping into action.

Fast forward 25 Years

On chilly January day, I took our biological children, Audrey, Amerey, and Hunter (at the time, they were 11, 7, and four) out to lunch at the local Ponderosa Steakhouse that my husband managed. In the middle of the meal Jerry was summoned to his office to take a phone call. He returned with a Cheshire cat grin and a question that would change our lives forever.

“What is it?” I asked, immediately able to tell that something was up.

“Remember the adoption information we requested from Tracy?  She wants to know when we are going to complete the paperwork and if we would adopt a sibling group of three.  I told her I would have to ask my wife.”

“Well,” I stuttered, “Can we pray about it?”

In my heart I already knew we should adopt three.  What were my thoughts when I had watched that first international adoption video?  How could I just adopt one?  My mind raced. The January sun glaring through the window suddenly seemed tortuous.

My intellect bellowed, I cannot handle three more children!

My emotions answered, If three children need me to be their mommy I can’t say no.

“We believe Jesus in heavenly things- our adoption in Christ; so we follow Him in earthly things- the adoption of children. Without the theological aspects, the emphasis on adoption too easily is seen as mere charity. Without the missional aspect, the doctrine of adoption too easily is seen as a metaphor.”

– Russell Moore, Adopted for Life

What does adoption theology have to do with my reality? I already believed certain things about adoption that I’d studied in the Word and prayed about, but theology isn’t mine unless I put it into practice. It is just something inspiring I read on a blog or in a book. It was time to live my theology.

The rest is history. Jerry and I did adopt a sibling group of four. You can read the book, linked below or listen to a bit of our story on The Whole House Podcast, Episode 3, The Guire Adoption Story.

On this Valentines Day, I want to give a shout out to foster and adoptive parents everywhere! You rock! Really, you do. You are the living example of love lived out. Unconditionally. If I could buy every one of you a giant box of your favorite chocolates, I would! Thank you for living out the theology of adoption every day! Please comment if you have adopted children or you are a foster parent. Tell us a little of your story in a sentence or two!

 

*Most of this is an excerpt from my book A Positive Adoption Story: The Door from Theology to Reality. It’s a reprint of my first book with an added study guide in the back for personal study or for use with a support group. Email me – Positiveadoption@gmail.com if you have a support group and are interested in the book and study guide.

A Positive Adoption Story (4)

 

National Adoption Month – A Few Words on Orphans

November is National Adoption Month! I’m doing a giveaway of 25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas on Facebook and Instagram. One book for Facebook winner and one for Instagram! Find the posts and tag three friends to get your name in the drawing.  The Whole House Team will draw and share the winners, live on Thursday!  On November 8th, Kristin Taylor, author of Peace in the Process will be sharing!

 

It’s in the dark, pre-dawn hours. The orphanage is quiet and I am awake. I can’t get back to sleep. I fluff my pillow and sit up in bed, leaning against the iron frame of the bed. Sleep hasn’t come easy this month that we have lived in the orphanage. I am running on adrenaline and my heart is in overdrive.

Hubby Jerry and I flew to Poland and then rode to Sulejow in hopes of adopting a sibling group of three. This was a small village, destroyed by the Germans in WWII, just 15 km from the first Concentration Camp in Poland. We moved into the orphanage after living a week in a castle turned hotel.

At least there was real heat in our quarters in the orphanage as opposed to the frigid castle. I still couldn’t sleep. You see I wasn’t prepared for the emotional overload. My mind skipped back and forth between joy and grief. Overwhelming joy that we were adopting. Overwhelming grief that I couldn’t take every child home. It ate at me. It gnawed at me. I played games with these kids. Hiked into the village with teens. Watched them smile while they played with my video camera. And I couldn’t take them home.

If you don't have a heart for the lost or the orphan, then go visit them in the midst of their pain. Go participate in their circumstances.

Interesting thing about orphans is they look appealing from a distance. We can form all sorts of platitudes, we can quote James 1:27 and intend to raise money for orphans. We can intend  to adopt some day. As a church, we can vow to fulfill the mandate ‘to care for widows and orphans’ while we sit in comfortable pews and take communion and remember the death and suffering of our Lord. but, up close, you can’t ignore suffering.

I couldn’t. I wasn’t prepared for the faces of neglect, swarming around me vying for attention. It’s nothing like in the movies. I couldn’t just smile and move on. Poverty envelops those children and strips them of the most basic of human needs, connection. They want to matter, just like every human being on the planet. They want someone to look them full in the face and say, “YOU MATTER. YOU ARE VALUABLE. YOU ARE LOVED.” Neglect says, “You don’t matter.” Abuse says, “I don’t care about you,”

While Hilary Clinton, looking weary and worn down, states on camera that an unborn child doesn’t have Constitutional rights, she devalues life once again. Life is valuable. Everyone with a beating heart and breath in their lungs holds value. You cannot set a dollar amount on life.The Constitution or rulers don’t set the value. It is there. You cannot snuff it out.

The church should be adopting orphans quicker than they bag their groceries at the self check out. We should be proclaiming from the rooftop the value of life, that Christ died that each child might have life and have it more abundantly. We should not be participating in stealing, killing and destroying of life. That is the enemy’s work.

Why don’t we see the value of adoption? The importance of it? Because we first don’t value ourselves. We see ourselves as sinners instead of saints (thanks, Tracey for that insight). We see ourselves as beggars instead of sons of God. We don’t recognize our own adoption. We don’t realize that we have received the Spirit of Adoption by which we cry  “Abba, Father!” We don’t know that before the foundation of the world, God chose us, actually picked us out, destined us to be adopted as His own children (Ephesians 1:4,5). Read that again. Let it sink in. YOU ARE CHOSEN. YOU ARE LOVED. YOU ARE A SON OR DAUGHTER OF GOD.  You are not an orphan, wandering, lost, looking for  acceptance. You have it. You have been pre-approved.

With that truth settled deep in our spirits, we must go into all the world and preach the Gospel which has the power to save souls. We should be sharing this news with those who need it most, the spiritual and physical orphans. Those who have been rejected, neglected, abused and abandoned.

 

If you don’t have a heart for the lost or the orphan, then go visit them in the midst of their pain. Go participate in their circumstances. You can’t watch it on a screen and understand. You cannot have empathy for something you have not lived through yourself. Ask God to give you the gift of understanding the suffering of others and the hands to do something about it. It’s okay to feel afraid of suffering. It’s not okay to ignore it.

If you’re thinking about heading down the adoption/foster path, do it afraid. You don’t have to have all your ducks in a row to adopt or foster. Just be willing. Be obedient to the call, if it is your call.  If not, support someone who is adopting. Let’s fulfill the mandate of James 1:27 and care for the widow and the orphan. Let’s follow in the footsteps of the Father and adopt.

 

Getting to Know You- Our Adoption Story in a Nutshell

“A tiny plane blipped across a map of endless ocean at the front of the cabin. I gripped the plush blue arms rests. I battled claustrophobia while my three children, courageous and ready for this overseas adventure, raided the snack cart every time it squeezed past.  My husband Jerry snoozed. It was November 1999.

Focus on the goal, I commanded myself. You are going to adopt your new children.

I grabbed my purse and fished out the precious Polaroids of Damian, Gregory and Ania, sent airmail from the orphanage. The prospective members of the Guire forever family looked directly at the camera, as if staring straight at me instead of the lawyer who had snapped the photos in a hallway of the orphanage:

Ania, a pumpkin-faced four-year-old gripping the drapes behind her, willing them to swallow her up; Gregory, a Peter Panish five-year-old sporting an Indian feather cowlick and mischievous eyes; Damian, a somber faced seven-year-old with a worried soul in a young body.

What compelled me to board a plane, fly to a foreign country and adopt strangers?

God in His wisdom built the foundation of society on the family: Adam, Eve, a beautiful perfect home, and the command to be fruitful and multiply. Adam and Eve ate the only forbidden fruit and sin entered the world–the great divorce of heaven and earth. The first family was torn apart.  Adam and Eve were ripped from the garden and from the connection with their heavenly Father”

Adoption is like walking in the middle of the movie and taking a seat. You didn’t see the beginning. You’re not exactly sure what sort of plot or family  you stepped into.  This paragraph gives you a bit of my story and you have joined me in the middle of it.

Jerry and I had the seed of adoption in our hearts when we married in 1985.  We were in the midst of communications with a  pregnant teen mom to adopt her infant (early in our marriage). She changed her mind at the last minute.

Ten years and three kids later, we opened the door to adoption again. We started with phone calls, information packets and not a lot of headway. Then an adoption coordinator called us from Huminska’s Anioly and asked us some pointed questions, “Are you going to fill out the paper work? Will you take three children?”

We said, “Yes!” to three and headed down the adoption road at full speed. Of course anyone who has traversed the adoption road knows that means at a snail’s pace most of the time. And yet, every time we filled out a document or put our finger prints on paper or had another visit for the home study, we felt as if we were one step closer to those children.

Two weeks before our travel date, we got a call from our adoption coordinator,Tracy, “there’s a baby!  A younger sibling! Do you want him?”

“Of course!” We couldn’t imagine leaving the little on behind. Tracy didn’t know the sex of the baby or if he was eligible for adoption. She only knew through some research on the attorney’s end and a question while interviewing Damian who asked, “what about the baby?”

The judge said “NO!” to our pursuing the adoption of the infant. He was easier to adopt out and other Polish couple should get the chance. The Guire family flew to Poland with INS approval to bring back four children.

Christmas in Wheeling
Back row: Amerey, Damian, Audrey 

Front row: Hunter, Gregory, Ania and Rafal

The first meeting in Warsaw with our attorneys in a hotel lobby was tense. Jerry asked about the baby. “Forget about the baby! Focus on the three you came to adopt!”

We couldn’t let it go. We prayed. It was all we could do. We were in a foreign country with no power, no say in what would happen next.

“The next day dawned gray and cold, just like the one before. I felt as if I had entered an old black and white movie and I hoped it wasn’t a Hitchcock. I packed everything back in the suitcases and we hauled the luggage down to the lobby. We were traveling with Walter and Bartek  to Pietrokow, where we would meet the Director of Orphans.

Walter was already surly-faced when he arrived. He rushed us out of the lobby into the stinging gray air. I was stuffed in the back of a small taxi with a seat belt embedded in my hipbone and a child on my lap. The windows remained permanently fogged, blocking my view of the city we were leaving and then the countryside as it flew by. My children, tired from the previous day, settled back into their seats and ventured an occasional, “How much longer?’

When dad came to pick us kids up for summer visitation, the departure was swift.  We packed our bags in the trunk of his current car and rushed down the lane, leaving a trail of dust behind us, Mom growing smaller in the distance.  This is the moment the fear gripped me. The familiar faded and the unknown lay before me. The tense anxiety choked me while my stomach churned. Down the highway we sped to another unknown destination; Dad rarely bothered to sit down and explain where we were going and what it would be like this time. The landscape changed from the hills of West Virginia to the bluegrass of Kentucky or the plains of Iowa, where once we raced beside a tornado as it ate up the fields beside us.

Every year, it was a new home in a new state. And every year, it was the same unstable summer, with our travel and activities dictated by someone else’s moodiness or alcoholism. New places did not fill me with hope. They were foreign landscapes with no known retreats or safe hideaways from the too-familiar emotional climate. The unrest filtered down to me and cemented my fear and presupposition: There is nothing good in the world.

This journey was not on my terms, it was on God’s. There was absolutely nothing I was in control of: when I could go to the bathroom or what mode of transportation I would use or what foods would be available to me. This was not about my comfort level. It was dependent on my trust level.

God does not hand out easy passes. What God requires of me is always greater than I think I can handle. If I would have succumbed to my fears, I would still be at home. I would probably be living comfortably with three children, but it would not have been God’s perfect will for me. It would have been trading something of eternal value for temporary ease. I would have gone through life feeling as if something were missing if I had ignored the still, small voice and listened instead to the bawling fear.

After several hours of driving, we pulled into the snowy little city of Pietrokow. The taxi wound around into the heart of the city through snow-covered narrow streets of old stone buildings. We skidded into an icy drive: the office of the Director of Orphans. She came outside to meet us. I leapt out of the car to drink in a breath of cool fresh air. Walter had already stepped out of his taxi and was speaking to her. Bartek appeared by my side and asked,

“She wants to know if you want to meet the baby?”

My mind whirled.  See the baby?  Meet the baby?  Was this some sort of cruel joke?

“Well, yes, of course,”  I answered quietly, scarcely daring to hope.

Walter spoke again and Bartek interpreted, “She wants to know if you want to adopt the baby. She says that she will speak to the judge for you.”

I suddenly felt giddy. In one day the impossible had become possible.”

The Guire family increased by four in January of 2000 and the four new Guires were able to join us in the states in February of 2000.

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Damian, Adam, Audrey, Ania, Gregory, Hunter, Seth, Amerey, Rafal, grandsons Sam and Theo being held.

There is much more to the story and you can read it by ordering Positive Adoption: A Memoir  in which I weave the story of my childhood with the story of my children’s adoption.

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Ania, Amerey, Me (Kathleen), Jerry, Damian, Rafal, Gregory, Hunter
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Ania, Amerey, Audrey, Me (Kathleen), Jerry, Hunter, Gregory and Damian in background. Amerey has no idea what happened to Rafal. He is behind Gregory.
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Thanksgiving at the Guire Shire

*All quotes from Positive Adoption: A Memoir 

 

Fifteen Years later: An adoption memoir list

It was late, way past bedtime and I was reading three books to my some of my grandkids- Sam, Theoden and Lucy. We sat on the edge of the bottom bunk which always seems like a great idea until sleepy kids lean back on me. Theoden put his little hand on the small of my back and a warmth came over me. Connection. The awe of the moment. Three trusting souls leaning on me. Trusting me.  I was suddenly transported to another time, another place. An orphanage, a world away and fifteen years earlier, I am reading to children who lean on me, listening, Waiting. Not trusting yet. But, there is that hope. That hope of a future together (on my part). Those small bodies. Those small hands.

Fifteen years ago, yesterday, four new Guires landed in the states and we became a family of nine. We had spent five weeks in Poland, during our initial visit, for four of them we lived in the orphanage.

So, things are a little different now. My house was once a bustling center of activity daily and now it seems to come in blips. Holidays find my house bursting at the seams with children, their spouses, grandchildren and extended family. On a daily basis, some days are quiet (weird) and other have short bursts of bustle-college kids stopping by, grandkids spending the night. It is just, well different. So, as I muse on the past fifteen years, I thought I’d make a list of things I have learned over the years about life and adoption.

1. Adoption is positive.  It was God’s idea. All of His ideas are good.

Photo: #createdforcare #adoption

2. Kids from hard places can connect.

3. You are not in control. Step back and let God work.

4. The activities your kids whine and complain about the most will become their favorite memories.

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5. Not everyone understands the work you have done raising your children. Don’t expect them to.

6. You cannot carry your children’s burdens/past. They eventually have to face it on their own, when they choose

7. Your kids have triggers. So do you and you have to deal with your past in order to help them face theirs.

8. Hard is good. Nothing worth accomplishing is easy. Don’t be afraid of hard. It strengthens you.

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9. Your job is not to raise happy children. They have to choose to be happy. Be happy yourself!

10. Life is a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get. Financial trouble. Sickness. Heartache. Adopting children does not make your life perfect,  but life is  good with children. They make every day an adventure.

11. Your children are not what happened to them. They are unique and God has a purpose for each them. Don’t tell Him what it is. He will tell them. He is writing their story.

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12. Don’t expect your kids to do what everybody else’s kids are doing!  They have a different schedule. They don’t have to measure up/compare to everyone else. Neither do you!

13. Your best life is the life God has given you. Enjoy it. Hunker down in the moment. Feel the small hand on your back. Let thankfulness overwhelm you.

14. Don’t be overwhelmed by your present circumstances. They will pass. So, before they do, find something good in the moment you can savor as a memory later.

15. There is a season for everything. This season of raising children is going to come to a close at some point. Make sure you have something purposeful for to do while you raise your children and when they leave the nest. Find your bent and follow it.

Want to read more of my story? You can! My book is now available! Click on image below to go directly to Amazon.

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