From the Mouths of Babes…Adoption Options

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Katy-Grace, the girl that is ALL GIRL

Friday we had our final adoption home study meeting in which our caseworker came to our home to approve it as safe and suitable for the addition of another child (we will be paper-ready by next week!).  One of the last interviews was that of our children to ask how they felt about adopting.  Being put on the spot, they offered up their timid “I’m excited.” or “I want a new baby to play with.” or “I want another cute kid in our family.”  Katy-Grace, our not-so-timid child, announces,

“I want a blonde baby girl!”

Judith, our caseworker, knowing we will most likely be adopting a transracial baby, asks,

“Well, what about baby with dark skin.”

No, I don’t want a black baby, I want a blonde baby!”

(I’m quickly realizing that “blonde” doesn’t just mean the color of the hair, but the color of the skin as well)

So we ask her about her cousin (adopted from Ethiopia) and all her little playmates, and her best friends and the babies of our friends who she thinks are so cute who are all black or hispanic. And she still insists on having a “blonde baby”.

And we let it rest, and I praise God we have an awesome caseworker who wasn’t phased by our four year old’s expectation of who, in her mind, we would be adopting.

Then, last night at Chuck-E-Cheese, completely surrounded by all colors of skin and ethnicities (we were the ONLY white people there),

I ask her about it again.

“So, Katy-Grace, why do you only want a blonde baby?”

and she gets right to the heart of the matter.

“Their hair is so soft.  Why do black babies have such puffy hair?  I don’t like it when it is so puffy (some of our friend’s babies have HUGE afro’s…evidently its a bit intimidating for her).  If we get a black baby can we do their hair so its not so puffy?”

“Yes, honey, we’ll do their hair so its not so puffy, and probably we’ll get a little boy baby and we’ll cut his hair like boy hair”

“Ok, we don’t have to get a blonde baby!”

And it was resolved.

The last of the Iversons to agree on the transracial adoption we are pursuing.

What sealed the deal?

A truce over the hair style.

Most of Katy-Grace's friends are black

Most of Katy-Grace’s friends are black

She loves doing Mommy's hair. One of her masterpieces. Great plans had been made for new sibling's hair.

She loves doing Mommy’s hair. One of her masterpieces. Great plans had been made for new sibling’s hair.

She knows what she wants, and watch out! if you get in her way

She knows what she wants, and watch out! if you get in her way

My spunky, wild, girly girl

My spunky, wild, girly girl

Only white girl at Chuck-E-Cheese.  She lives in diversity, so we were surprised she would be opposed to it being in our family

Only white girl at Chuck-E-Cheese. She lives in diversity, so we were surprised she would be opposed to it being in our family

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Editor’s Note:  While reading this aloud to the family before posting it, Benjamin pipes up,

“I…I…I.. want adopt Asher!!! (his cousin, adopted from Ethiopia, who we all greatly anticipated joining the family for over a year)

We can’t do that, honey!  He’s already adopted!”

he settles on the next best option…

“I want adopt a boo (blue) baby….”

and he heads down the stairs to go find something to play with.

I can’t win.  Seven people weighing in on who we will adopt.

From the Mouths of Babes…Christmas style

Danny walks in the door, right into a live nativity.

Katy-Grace is busily reenacting the story of Jesus’ birth. Reinacting with the decapitated shepherd, the earless donkey and the broken legged wise man, all pitifully repaired with a hot glue gun. Can we guess WHY our nativity characters have suffered such injuries? And get lost?…but I digress…

Katy-Grace with angel and Mary.

“You’re gonna have a baby. It will be Jesus.”

Mary runs to Joseph…

“Jophess! Jophess! I’m gonna have a BABY!!”

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And speaking of babies, Trinity plops down in a chair while I busily burn bread, stir soup and chop up a salad.

“Mommy? Can I ask you a question?’

‘Yah, honey’

“Can you have a baby without being married?”

Oh, no. I am not ready for this conversation.We just always have told them that you can’t have babies unless you are married. Can I keep diverting this question? Who is planting these ideas in her mind anyways?!?

“Well, honey, you can, but God tells us not to. We always need to get married first.”

“Well, how come Mary did, if God doesn’t want us to?”

Right. Forgot about that Bible. It doesn’t have a parental filter for not-quite-ready-to-give-the-full-answer-to-these kinds of questions.

Straight to PG-13 and R ratings right around the table during family devotions.

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So, I explain how God put Baby Jesus in her belly, because that is the only way He could be perfect, perfect enough to be the sacrifice for our sins. He had to be God, for God Himself is the Only Righteous One. And righteousness is the requirement for us ever hoping to be in paradise. A righteousness FROM God apart from the law, that comes through faith in that little baby born out of wedlock. The one prophesied about hundreds and hundreds of years before.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14

But of course, her explanation was

“God did it, Honey. So, its OK. God had planned to put Baby Jesus in Mary’s tummy without her being married. Its because God is Jesus’ real Father, not Joseph. Because if Jesus was just a man, then He couldn’t be Perfect, and be a Perfect Savior for us. God told us that this was going to be the sign that He was finally sending the Savior. ”

and she hops off the chair and returns to playing,

and I praise God that He is WITH US…amongst burning bread and dinner preparations and a little girl’s grasping of the truths about this One we celebrate this Christmas season, all during a quick play break.

 

Where is Baby Jesus?

In the hustle and bustle of the holiday, instead of worshipping a peacefully sleeping babe in a manger, the goddess of Productivity is worshipped.

In the effort to make the most of the season, I fail to make the most of Him.

All the plans and the scheduled events and the purchasing and the preparing, and I fail to plan for Him, schedule Him in and prepare the way for His arrival…

Today. in this moment. with presents needing wrapping and kids screaming and the car only half-cleaned out and  a one year old walking around outside with only one shoe on, and the dinner hour fast approaching with the oven still cold and empty…..

He is Emmanuel, God with us.

And yet, I walk around with heavy heart, and disappointed spirit, and a wondering, why?

Why was our desire to go to Japan  left wanting? But we wrapped presents and sent gifts and good tidings with the over half the family members congregating for an Iverson Family Christmas on the other side of the globe.

That’s OK. I tell myself, God has other plans.

Why would I go about coordinating an International Student Christmas Exchange Program, much like the one we had been involved with in Florida.  And I joyfully thought of all the families I know who would get to host Algerians and Moroccans and Taiwanese and Saudi Arabians….But just two days ago, the last of the students backed out, leaving the whole endeavor and all the weeks of coordinating a total flop?

That’s OK.  I tell myself, God has other plans.

Why in light of our present situation have having host families ready and eager here in ATL, but with no one to host, and  I hear of the 30+ Chinese students who still need host families for the week long Christmas Exchange program in Orlando, and are just camping out in hotels right now, longing for someone to take them in? And I puzzle over the fact that we are more than willing to host them but we happen to live eight hours away.  So I get on the phone and start asking old friends if THEY could host, and hours of phone conversations lead to nothing.

That’s OK. I tell myself, God has other plans.

Why would we invite neighbors over, but due to a falling out with one of them, a whole slew of them are “banned” from coming over, much to the despair (and tears) of those kids, and ours, so our home offered to them is no longer an option? And why do the kids have to be the ones wounded in the middle of the crossfire?

That’s OK. I tell myself, God has other plans.

And why would an offer to a recently widowed mutual friend from  the streets of downtown Atlanta, be met with no reply?

That’s OK. I tell myself, God has other plans.

But the heart gets weary. And Hope is dimmed.  And feet trod through the motions. What is the point of Christmas if there is no one to share it with?

We wanted to offer our home and our Christmas celebration to someone to share it with us, Lord.  I don’t understand why nothing is working out. Where is your plan in all this?

And Danny whisks children to a Kids Christmas Concert this morning, and in the hustle of getting them out the door, I glance at the manger scene and see this:

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Its the manger scene.  Its the frame. Its the people scattered about.  Its the lights and the dazzle. But where is Jesus?

“Trinity! Where is baby Jesus?”

“Oh, I don’t know Mommy, Benjamin was playing with him and we haven’t been able to find him for weeks now.”

For weeks now….

For weeks now, we have been going through the motions, setting up decorations, planning out presents and visiting CVS photo center more times that I’d like, and going late night shopping when I should have been sleeping, and meal planning, and baking, and all without Baby Jesus.

The frame of the scene had been there, but I hadn’t bothered to look closer.

The frame of the “Christmas scene” had been there, but I hadn’t bothered to look closer into the heart behind it all.

So today after the kids were ushered out the door with Danny, and I savor a few moments of silence, purposely choosing to turn a blind eye to the dishes needing doing and the playroom which exploded and all the beds not made, I savor those moments to lay out my heart hurts over all my failed planning and all my good endeavors thwarted to plan a Christmas to offer to the hurting and the lost and the nations and the nameless.

and right there as I scribble out complaints to the Lord in ink,  I find myself writing complaint AND answer to complaint

Lord we offered our home to international students.

I offered my time spent coordinating for other internationals.

We offered our home to neighbors.

We offered our family to the widowed.

And He spoke it to me through my own hands scribbling…

“Why don’t you offer it to me?”

And tears flood hard, as I realized what I had done. For in all my attempts to offer our Christmas celebrations to the “traditions” of offering it to Him, I failed to truly offer it to Him. He wasn’t there in the traditions.

No, He had been missing for weeks.

And I had been offering our Christmas celebrations to everyone BUT HIM.

So in these last five days of advent, when it should have been twenty-five, I will offer up heart, and hands, and gift giving and baking to HIM.

Inviting Him to BE EMMANUEL, God with us, in a humble home Christmas with “just” husband and five eager youngsters all birthed from this womb, instead of a coveted extended family made up of the hurting and the family-less, and the foreigner among us.

For He is all we need. Center of heart. Center of mind. Center of time.

The traditions, the events, the to-do’s, and the markings of advent

are all empty and void without that still, but-always-moving, frail but mighty-in-power, humble yet-the-Everlasting-King,

little Baby Jesus.

And maybe All those plans thwarted were God’s other plans. Plans for Him to show up where He was needed the most. So busy was I, attempting to bring Him to those that needed Him, that I failed to realize that I am the one that needs Him. Needs Him the most.

“To do righteousness and justice (in these humble moments) is more acceptable than sacrifice”  Proverbs 21:3

But there’s only one thing you need. Mary has chosen what is better….

                 ….Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet and kept listening to what he was saying.

Luke 1o:42, 39

From the Mouths of Babes Mondays

This past weekend we had the joyous privilege of being part of the wedding of a dear friend and his new wife. A friend who, a year and a half ago Danny joined in a weekly let’s hit our knees and pray for a wife commitment. God brought her into his life 6 months later and this past weekend, just a year after first laying eyes on one another, they were wed….with our girls leading the way for the entrance.

Being flower girls might just have been the absolute highlight of my daughter’s first 4-6 years of existence. We eagerly planned and collected pieces of their sweet dresses and outfits.

We practiced their jobs, they solemnly performed their duties in the rehearsal and then Trinity made her fear confession…

“Mommy, I just thought of something dreadful.” (and yes, she used that exact word).

Thoughts of the bride backing out, or a tragic car accident flash through my mind…

“Oh, no! What did you think of?” I ask.

A long pause.

“What if Miss Amy decides she doesn’t want us to be her flower girls tomorrow?”

And to be honest, I’m very glad that this is the most dreadful thought my little six year old can conjure up, for this world that awaits her innocence can be dread worthy.

So for now, I will relish in their sweet awe of being in the presence of the “wedding girl” as Katy-Grace called her despite my constant explanations of the word “bride”.

And I will giggle along with those girls as they tease their brother, all bursting with his eight years of boy-ness, about the fact that not only would he have to sit through a “boring” wedding, but “then you’re gonna see them KISS!!” (Trinity must have told him that 20 times this weekend).

And I watch the mother son dance and I hold my boy close and whisper in his ear my tears spilling on his own cheek “honey, one day that’s going to be you and me dancing there, and I want to have earned your love and respect so much that you look forward to it, and I dread it. Like it should be. I’m sorry baby for the ways I’ve already failed to do that already.”

And I love weddings for the reminder of the beauty of man and wife woven into togetherness to bring forth life…life out of their deaths they die to who takes the garbage out and how the toilet paper gets put on the roll and all the other things one doesn’t think they are selfish about…until all that togetherness. Life out of death to individual priorities, that joint ones might be lived out. And life, little lives that come forth when we die to our desire to live for just one generation, our own.

And I love weddings, for the sake of hearing mothers of bride and groom cry over their babes being big enough to marry, for it is a blowhorn reminder to “savor.these.moments” these moments and days and weeks and months, for they will be gone all too soon.

May I win their hearts, win them to Jesus, long before another wins them. So that when those girls are all decked out in beauty array again, and boys turned men are dancing with their Mamma, I will freely hand them over…to one whose heart has been one over by the Winner of hearts.

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From the Mouths of Babes Mondays

All out bursts of laughtersoftened heart by sweet words….conviction brought on by profounds sayings….

All from the mouths of babes… my babes.

And if I don’t record it fast, despite it’s dearness to my heart, it will flit away.  Carried off by this absent minded-mother’s tidal wave of to-do’s, and appointments, and people’s needs that crash into, and overflow my mind.

So here it is.  An internet accountability, if Mouths of Babes Monday is declared. It’ll force me to type it up real quick.  Picture or none.  Deep heart ponderings, or not.  It will be up there. Something one of these little convicting, and challenging, and endearing, and joy-giving children has to say.

And Jesus said unto them, ‘Yea; have you never read, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings you have perfected praise”?”  Matthew 21:16 NKJV

It’s all praise. Every last word of it (well, almost). The funny things said, they praise the One who put personality and character and little minds working in these little babes.

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Danny’s Dad, the one who dreams big dreams, the one who loves his nine kids and seventeen grandchildren dearly, the one who lives on the other side of the planet on the island country of Japan, he sent it out.

And Danny and I couldn’t help but discuss it at dinner. a flit of hope in our hearts.

“Did you get Dad’s email today?”

“Yeah….Is there any possible way?”

Half the family will be in Japan this Christmas.  Could the rest of us join them for another Iverson Christmas in Japan, this time with the one additional spouse and the thirteen additional grandchildren?

“Its craziness”. I think.  But maybe…maybe if we turned it into a mission trip.  Maybe if we pool frequent flyer miles.   Maybe….

Danny and I brainstorm possibilities.

And the kids brainstorm theirs.

Trinity:  “Mommy, I promise to always shut the door so we don’t waste money on air-conditioning!  And I won’t leave the water running anymore so we don’t waste money on that!  Oh! and I’ll make sure Malachi doesn’t spill all the food and waste it so that you have to buy more!”

Katy-Grace: “I can give you my two dollars from my birthday.  That will help, right?”

DJ:  I guess, I can give my money….but I really wanted that Lego set.

Trinity:  “Maybe we can collect stuff we don’t want and sell it.  Can we have a yard sale, Mommy?”

DJ: “We could sell a kid.”

         “We have lots of those…”

Me (only in my thoughts): “Exactly.  Which is precisely why we can’t go to Japan for Christmas.”

and the next day, kids are busy at play outside, and shortly thereafter I see this:

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“Hey kids…what’s going on with the berries filling our empty recycling containers?”

And after some investigating, I find this…

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and this:

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With a very excited blur of explanation…

We’re collecting berries to sell so we can go to Japan. LOOK HOW MANY WE HAVE!!! We’re gonna get aLOT of money for these! Right, Mommy?”

They had been out there a good hour, working away.

Industrial little ones, they are.

And after more investigating, I found my kitchen stool…

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and my eldest son up in a tree….

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and my youngest son, coerced into helping as well…

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But unfortunately, berries from a dogwood tree don’t have a very good exchange rate to the Japanese yen.

So we will give thanks for the invention of Skype and iPads. And use the berries for Christmas decoration instead.