Friday, April 29, 2011


Home. . . Home, sweet home. Home is where the heart is. There is no place like home.

Being so far away from what I always knew as home has been a beautiful, sometimes achy, growth-filled experience.

Home helps shape us. It can be a place of comfort or craziness. Home can mean a million different things. Family. Food. Friends. Plains. Mountains. Trees. Rest. Joy. Pain. Light. Love. Peace. Some can make a home anywhere. Some have the same home their entire life. There are even some who do not claim anywhere to be home. What does home mean to you?

Take a moment today to thank God for home. . . maybe that's where you're at today. Maybe it's a home you knew long ago, far away, or maybe it's thanking Him for the promise of our TRUE home for eternity.

Join with me in praying for the precious lives that are coming home to their forever families. They have hard days, too, and they miss what they knew of home. It may be difficult for us to comprehend, especially since some of these children grow up in horrific conditions. They may have not had every need met, or every care cared for. But alas, that was home. Pray that their hearts find rest as God shapes and grows them into their new home. Pray that Romans 12:9-12 will come alive for them. . . that they will know love to be sincere. They will hate evil and cling to good. That they will experience devotion, honor, and a zeal for His Spirit. Pray they will know joy in hope, patience in affliction, and become faithful in prayer. Believe with me that the God of all comfort will comfort them and help them know home.

This weekend, I will be in Kansas for a sweet visit home. (Ruby red slippers and clicking my heels has proved insufficient. . . but a plane ride and a few hours in the car will get me there.) I am so looking forward to the familiarity, the hugs, laughs, and the sweet time there. I will also be happy to return to sweet home, Alabama. I am grateful for how much I have learned to appreciate home in my absence from it. I am thankful for home here. And I know some day we will all be at home- in our TRUE Home- forever.

Michelle Staab
Birthmother Counselor

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Called By Name

“What’s in a name?” This is arguably one of the most recognizable lines in Shakespeare’s writings. Yet I find myself disagreeing greatly with the sentiment behind it. In this dialog, Shakespeare’s Juliet is debating the importance of a name on a person’s identity. She argues that a name is not a defining point in who a person really is. While there is truth to this, something contrary to this idea has been on my mind a great deal lately. And that is the absolute importance and beauty of a name and what that means to us as people and as children of God.

I remember when I was a little girl my mom had a book of names from when she and my dad were naming myself and my siblings. I would spend hours flipping through that book and finding out what all of my friends names meant. I love the idea of having a name! And even more so, of the why behind the name. When someone I know has a baby and they spend days, weeks, and months choosing the perfect name for that child, I am always eager to know why they chose it. Is it a family name? Is it because it has a significant meaning? That has always fascinated me!

I recently met with a family in order to conduct their first post adoption report after bringing their precious daughter home from China. Karis was 2½ years old when she was adopted into her forever family. I was amazed to hear her mom and dad tell me stories of how Karis has truly embraced her new name! She is old enough to know that it is, indeed, a new name… and to know that it is identified with her new life here with her new family. Her attachment to her name is such that she does not accept any kind of nickname. Karis’ older brother and sister, the biological children of their parents, love being called by a nickname, but not Karis. Her parents told me of how she will correct them if they call her anything other than “Karis”. Similarly, if someone tells her she is silly, she will reply, “No, I’m Karis”. This precious little girl knows that her life here is new… and a part of that is the new name that she has been given. She loves that name and desires to be called nothing but the name associated with the new life that she has.

I can’t help but think of the Old Testament scripture where God commands us not to fear and reminds us that He has called us by name: “But thus says the Lord, the one who created and formed you: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine.” (Isaiah 43:1). Like Karis, we too have been brought from our old identity into a new, forever family. We have been rescued from an ugly past- one with no hope and no future, and redeemed as God’s beloved children. And as a part of that, we have a new identity. We have been called by name. May we treasure that identity: child, loved, chosen, redeemed. These are only a few of the names by which we have been called by our Creator, Savior, and Abba Father.

Mallory Blackmon

International Social Worker

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A meeting...

Once again, I was granted the privilege of having a front row seat for one of God’s miracles. It was a meeting. A meeting where a scared, but brave resolved birth mother sat waiting. She was soon to meet the blessed prospective adoptive couple that she had chosen. This birth mother had languished over several profile books in which prospective parents laid themselves bear to her. With a sweet peace she was led to choose one particular couple. The couple that she felt God leading her to…..the couple that something in her soul resonated with…….the couple that would parent the child she would never be able to. ….the couple that would tuck her little one into bed each night……..the couple that would help to shape the character of her little one…..the couple who would provide financially for her little one……the couple who would help lead this little one to love the Savior. Hers is not an easy choice but she feels conviction and a quiet confidence that it is the best choice for her little one given her circumstances. There is pain.

In this case, the couple had been married for a few years before deciding it was time to begin their family. As they began dreaming of pink and blue, infertility became their reality instead. One year led to seven and included countless trips to specialist with an untold number of medications, charts, injections, and insemination. A baby bed sits empty and is eventually packed away. There is pain.

Then, this couple heard God’s whisper and adoption became the choice they realized that was intended for them all along. While this couple was waiting to be chosen by a woman, they attempted to visualize what she would be like. They pictured her as a woman who must have found herself in a very hard place……a woman who chose life for her little one, a woman who is able to think of the welfare of her little one over her own……a woman who is able to sacrifice. This couple remembers the pain that they have endured in their journey and realize that this woman has been enduring immense pain in her own journey. They are acutely aware of the fact that their happiest moment, the moment when they become a parent, will be her saddest moment. They get it.

This is what is brought to these birth parents/adoptive parents meetings. Both parties in some form or fashion are anxious about this meeting and just plain scared to death to meet! Each one would rather observe the other behind a two-way mirror instead of this meeting. But they come….. this child is that important to them.

As soon as the adoptive couple enters the room it is obvious that both the birth mother and adoptive mother are wearing the same color shirts and even both wearing very similar style clothing. With the adoptive couple’s social worker and the birth mother counselor helping to move the conversation along, it is discovered that there are “uncanny similarities” in a variety of areas. The birth father is an avid fisherman and so is the birth mother’s father. Both the birth mother and the adoptive mother share a love and obsession of scary movies. All three of them love the outdoors and are Auburn fans as well. They even find out that the name of the couple’s dog was the same name of the beloved dog the birth mother had for fifteen years before it died. God didn’t have to expose those things….He didn’t have to reveal how those “little similarities” that may seem insignificant to other people but to each person here it served as a sweet confirmation. A confirmation that this union…this meeting…this forever bond…was good and right. It was God-ordained. A miracle.

As God continues to unpeel the layers of each, the birth mother and the couple are soon conversing like dear friends. They are able to share their hearts. They share their desires for this child. The birth mother is able to tell the couple just what she would like for them to share with her child when he is older. The couple is able to tell the birth mother that they would love for her to continue her college education and obtain that degree she was pursuing before the pregnancy. They want her to be proud of who she is and how God has gifted her. They promise to share all that with their son. Both parties agree to continue their relationship through photos and letters. Each is aware they may realize that they forgot to share something important with the other so they are grateful to be able to communicate in the years to come. Forever blended for the sake of a precious baby.

A miracle.

As an observer of God’s miracle, of God’s forever blending this adoptive couple with their birth mother I am blown away. Our God is so good…………so faithful…….so full of grace and mercy……….so SOVEREIGN!

Renee Griffin
Domestic Social Worker

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Out of the ashes, beauty will rise

A year ago, my husband and I were on a plane to China to adopt our beautiful baby girl, Xue Hua. Her Chinese names literally mean “snow/purity” and “beauty.” As I passed the time on the seemingly never-ending flight across the world, I listened to a beautiful song that Steven Curtis Chapman wrote after he lost his own adopted daughter from China in a tragic accident.

But very deep beneath all our broken dreams
We have this hope...

Out of these ashes, beauty will rise
And we'll dance among the ruins
We will see with our own ey
Out of these ashes, beauty will rise
For we know, joy is coming in the morning.

It will take our breath away
To see the beauty that's been made
Out of the ashes, out of the ashes

Out of these ashes, beauty will rise

Over the last five years, my husband and I have experienced a great deal of loss and heartache. Adoption had always been part of our plan. But the timing of it came much sooner than we anticipated. Xue Hua, now named Virginia Grace Xue, brought a healing and love to our hearts that surpassed our expectations and dreams. Had we known the “Pure Beauty” that would arise from the ruins, we would've cried tears of both grief AND joy.

In the midst of challenging circumstances, devastation and desertion can seem overwhelming. From the tragic damage and loss in Japan to the heart-wrenching statistic of 147 million orphans, it’s easy to sink into discouragement. It’s hard to escape the feeling that there’s nothing we can possibly do to make a significant difference in the world. But the great news is that we don’t have to bear the burden of transforming the world on our own. Working out His intricate plans, God is bringing restoration in the ruins. He’s strengthening communities through their grief. He is raising up families to adopt and advocates for orphan care. God invites us to be part of His redeeming work. And we will not see all the results of His glorious design on this earth. But as we one day praise God in His heavenly courts, I believe we’ll be celebrating in revelation and awe.

This very day, a mother in China could be tearfully placing her baby on a public bench as a sacrifice of love. An orphan or foster child might be crying tears of loneliness and despair as he mourns the loss of his family. A couple may be holding onto each other in frustration and deep longing as they confront infertility or miscarriage. I pray that they will one day recognize the beauty that rises from ashes. Anything laid at the feet of God will not go unredeemed. Hold onto this hope as God continues to write your story.

Kelley Brown
Executive (Un)adopted Coordinator