Thursday, April 18, 2013

Blessings Beyond Babies

First, I admit to borrowing the title for this blogpost from a fb group that I am in for families that have adopted/are adopting 'older' children.

Second, this blog started forming in my mind after attending a birthday party last weekend. I left that day joyous and thankful. We spent the day surrounded by adoptive families, awesome kids, and some pretty amazing orphan advocates. I never got that blog written and now I know why. God didn't want me to talk about our support system (though its awesome) or even about the army he's raising up in our little neck of the woods (Army for God and the orphans, not weird redneck conspiracy theorists type army in case that word gets my blog flagged). But, I think I'm supposed to talk about our kids and the gift of older child adoption.

'Older' child adoption doesn't have a strict definition (that I know of) to some people this means teenagers to others it would be any child past the infant stage. In our adoption circle its typically children that are 5 or older. Some countries will add children to the special needs adoption list solely based on an older age because they know that every year a child spends in an orphanage the more their chances for adoption go down.

It's an understood fact in the adoption community that boys are chosen less often than girls and older boys are the hardest to place. And, I honestly believe if God places a child on your heart their age and sex won't matter. So the point of this post is definitely NOT to dissuade anyone from going for a little girl or adopting a baby. The point is to reassure you if God is putting a child on your heart that may be older or a different sex than you had in your plans.

I always thought that we probably would adopt a boy and that he would be 'older' but by older I was thinking maybe three or 4, keeping in birth order but still old enough to be a playmate to Nicholas. Instead God broke our hearts for this little boy, 6 weeks older than Nicholas, who had already been waiting 5 years for his family:

We know that there are different issues we may face with adopting an older child and we're doing our best to educate and prepare ourselves for what his needs may be. I'm sure we won't be fully prepared, I'm sure we'll all go through an adjustment period, and I am sure we love our son and we are trusting in God to prepare all of our hearts!

So, back to the birthday party I mentioned before. One of the reasons our hearts were open to an older child is the fact that four of our real life friends have adopted older children (2 internationally, 1 through foster care and 1 family that has done both!) and they have shared their journey and their hearts with us.  And I want to share a small glimpse of that with you.

First, the birthday boy who just turned 8, celebrating his first birthday home with his family and sharing a party with his 'little sister'

Vaylo Rhodes

Vaylo has been home about 9 months now and is a completely different child from the one we met when Mandy and Marty first brought him home. Not only is he now a little chunk, he's started to interact with other people and he smiles! And, his smiles are amazing, they're real and joyful and they just make you want to smile right back at him!

Samuel Rhodes 'Sam'

Sam came home at the same time as his brother and is a huge personality, a ball of energy, a bundle of love, a huge fan of the dustbuster and I could go on an on! Sam turned 5 a few months ago.

Malachi Rogers (behind the playpen)

Malachi was actually the first Reece's Rainbow baby I ever met. I met him and his sister Claire, along with the rest of the Rogers clan at the Gotcha shower for Mandy and Marty. My first impression of Malachi was that he was busy, and, that is still my impression a year later :) He is sweet and a little mischevious and all boy!

Claire Rogers

Claire came home at the same time as Malachi and is a little princess, notice how nice and neatly she ate her cupcake ;) Claire walks and signs and is great at getting across what she wants which usually seems to be either food or to be carried where she'd like to go :)

I included Malachi and Claire here not really because they're considered 'older' but because they're adorable and they're a part of the Rogers family who does know a thing or two about adopting older children. Just months after bringing home Malachi and Claire, Erica and Mel (who already had 7 kids at home, the two above plus three adopted from foster care and two bio kiddos) stepped out on faith and caused a lot of happy tears in our adoption community when they decided to adopt Kaleb and Jessa, perhaps better remembered as the 'Sunshine Girl Bernadette'

This was the first picture I ever saw of Jessa

"Bernadette" on Reece's Rainbow, her smile captured hearts and a community of people rallied to find her a family before she aged out at the age of 16. The Rogers family was that family and this is Jessa today

Jessa Rogers

Jessa is as sweet and loving as she looks in her pictures! At the party I went over to meet Erika (who manages to go places with 9 kids by herself!) and when Jessa got out of the van and saw me, I hadn't seen her since we met them at the airport when they first came home, she smiled all big and sweet and came right over and hugged me. She is full of fun and personality and is such a joy to be around!

Kaleb Rogers came home at the same time as Jessa but somehow I don't have a picture of him from the party, so I borrowed one from Erika's page for yall of Kaleb with his brothers.

Kaleb Rogers (back row, right)

Kaleb did not have a sunny picture on his file. The list of 'behaviors' and needs was daunting, but, Erika and Mel again stepped out on faith and said Yes to him. Kaleb's smile is a little harder to draw out, but, when you get it, its precious. Kaleb is 9.

Also at the birthday party was the Pickett family who has been home just two weeks with their new son and daughter.

Vikki Pickett

Vikki is is 10, she has only been with her new family 2 weeks but she's adjusting well. English is still new to her but at the party she jumped right in to playing with all of the other kids. She has a big personality too and I got to see the cutest pout ever when her Mama actually made her pick between three desserts instead of letting her have them all!

Denny Pickett

Denny came home at the same time as Vikki, just two weeks ago. He is 7 years old and also seems to be adjusting well to his new family. When I talked to him he gave me his hands so that I could walk him around and I bet that it won't be long before he is walking on his own!

Overall at the party there were 32 children (good thing we had a whole farm!) and 14 of them were adopted. 8 are former Reece's Rainbow babies, 1 adopted domestically as an infant and 5 adopted from domestic foster care two of whom were over the age of 10. There are 2 more RR babies on their way home, next year 'K' (5) and Ian (7) will be at the party!

And, EVERY single person there is involved some way in orphan care. Everyone there has contributed to our adoption and the Rhodes family adoption financially and emotionally. We are blessed to get to do every day life with an amazing group of people. This wasn't a meet up of adoptive families, this was our typical play group/Mom's group/homeschool group :)

But, the part of the party that touches my heart, that makes me give thanks the most are these pictures ~

Can you look at those pictures and tell which kids are adopted, or which have special needs? Because our kids can't. They don't care. If their friend is non verbal or doesn't speak English yet, kids are great at pantomime and most of our kids know some sign language (or in Nick's case they know 2 signs and make up the rest...we're working on that). If their friend can't walk there are ride ons and swings that can be pushed. Our kids could care less about the color of someone else's skin, the language they speak or any of the other things that some parts of society say should matter. Many adults could take a lesson in friendship and love from our kids.

If God is putting a child on your heart that was not in your plans, do it anyway. Mandy says that older kids are the hidden treasures of adoption. She's right. Babies are a blessing but so is a full 8 hours of sleep at night! Toddlers are cute and squishy but diaper blow outs are not! If God has put a baby or toddler on your heart then by all mean, GO, go get that child, but, let your heart be open to older children who need families too just in case one day God asks you to walk that road ok?

And, if you've never met an older child, may I introduce...

Simon only has until October 2013 to find his family before he ages out in his country

Trudy will turn 14 this year, she also has a younger brother and sister and they can all be adopted together!

Doesn't Sullivan look like so much fun? He'll turn 12 this year and would benefit so much from being in a family!

This cutie will turn 8 this year and was also born prematurely like both of our sons. Our agency has his file if you'd like to know more I can put you in touch!

Or if you'd prefer to adopt domestically there are plenty of older children who still need families! Check out the adorable brothers from this sibling set in NC

These adorable brothers are all available for adoption here in the US through AdoptUsKids

I could go on and on but if you think your family could be the place for an older child click one of these links for Reece's Rainbow or check out AdoptUsKids for children that need families domestically. (There are also  younger children on these sites that of course need homes as well).

If you would like to become involved/more involved in orphan care but don't know where to start I'd love to help you! Reece's Rainbow has a lot of Advocacy opportunities, from Prayer Warriors to Angel Tree you can make a difference in the life of a child even if you can't adopt or can't contribute financially!

To borrow Mandy's tagline~ Pray, Advocate, Adopt DO SOMETHING!

1 comment:

  1. O my. What a wonderful person you are. I actually read this when it first came out. I didn't process very well. Jessa! I remember her as Bernadette on RR.

    It did my heart the world of good when I saw her, and the other children who have people who love and care about them.

    Thank you so very much for what you do and for who you are to these children.

    My heart is trying to sing with all the tears of joy that is welling up. Thank you all indeed!