Our crew

Our crew

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Post adoptive conversations

I've been following several other adoptive family blogs and a common discussion among adoptive parents is fielding the post adoptive questions.  Where did you get them? What happened to their real mom? How much did it cost? Etc.

These posts have got me thinking.  The general consensus I've read and heard from other adoptive parents is that they are happy to answer your questions, just not in front of the children.  I think this will be particularly hard for me because I'm typically a pretty open book.  I like to talk. (I'm sure you're shocked by this revelation!)  My tendency is to share too much.  So when it comes time to deal with my adopted children's stories, I'm going to have to really restrain myself.  I don't want to make them uncomfortable or feel any different than they already will.  It will definitely be a challenge for me.

I'd love to hear your input on this topic.  What do you adoptive parents think is ok or not ok?  What about those that haven't adopted?  Do you have opinions or thoughts on this subject?

I hope that one day soon we will be figuring this all out first hand, but for now we're reading, talking, and praying.

Please continue to pray with us and for us.  Our children are out there somewhere without us.  We are ready to bring them home and begin life as a whole family.  The waiting game is hard on us and I can only imagine how difficult it is for them.


Liam's birthday is tomorrow.  I was talking with him today and teasing him about not letting him turn 5 because I like 4 year olds so much.  He replied, "well then I guess we need to adopt a 4 year old!"

Monday, April 14, 2014

On Faith and Why some still disagree with our decision

I know there are some out there that still don't get why we are taking this on.  Answering a calling isn't enough.  Why would we do this when we already have a hand full of children.  Why now and not later?  Or those that support the idea of adoption and think it's a noble or ambitious thing to do, but that we in particular shouldn't be doing it because of the aforementioned children we already have.  Someone that barely knows us said, "you must have a lot of faith to be doing this."  I didn't know exactly how they meant that, but my answer is "yes."

 Adopting does take faith.  Lots of faith.  It takes faith for God to adopt us as His children.  It takes faith in knowing what's important to God and how we should make those things important to us.  We are told:

correct oppression and bring justice to the fatherless.                Is. 1:16-17  
give justice to the weak and fatherless.   Ps. 82:1 
He sets the lonely in families.      Ps. 68:6 
He is father to the fatherless.       Ps. 68:5
 This is the faith that we are living through adoption.  Our adoption, passed down to the next generation.  We don't need to wait to be faithful.

In 2012 there were 101,719 orphans in foster care in the US waiting to be adopted.  In 2012, 23,439 children aged out of foster care, entering their adult life with no parents, no help.  There were 52.039 adoptions in 2012.  There are an estimated 17.8 MILLION orphans world wide.   I can't help them all, but I can help one...or two...or three.

I think every Christian I've talked to about adoption says that they would instantly take a child (infant) that was laid in their lap.  If it meant stopping one abortion, they would absolutely take that child and save their life.  And I admit, I thought the same too.  I thought that some day God would place a child in my path in this way.  But then I thought again.  There are thousands of children, right here in the state of Texas, whose birth parents did choose life but due to so many other reasons, can't or don't love and care for those children now. (I encourage you to read this post.  Really.  Go read it.)  God doesn't call us to only care for infant orphans.

It will be hard.  These kids are coming from seriously messed up places.  They'll have baggage.  They'll still be hurting.  And their lives will never be "normal" because of their history.  But we can bring them into our fold.  Love them.  Raise them in a Christian home.  Give them a future to help overcome their past.

My comfort this week has been this verse.

God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way to escape also, that you may be able to endure it.  I Cor. 10:13b

Another concern that has been voiced is the money aspect of taking in more kids.  "How will you pay for it?" "How will you pay for college?" etc.  The answer to these questions and others like them is, "With sacrifice, with joy and thanksgiving."   Even the most financially secure person has hardships, surprises, and challenges.  But we are at peace with where we are financially and what our future looks like from our vantage point.  We will cut back on this to pay for that.  We won't go on big vacations so that we can afford private education.  We don't have to pay for college and likely won't.  We'll do the same things most big families do: hand me downs, share everything, not eat fancy foods all the time, not eat out often, drive used vehicles, and so on.  We are willing to make the sacrifices it takes to raise and love more kids.  Earthly possessions and experiences aren't what matter.  Eternal life and salvation are.

And if you still doubt our ability to do this, think about this.  You may not know our financial situation, but our adoption agency does.  They know our numbers, nothing held back, and they still say we can reasonably take in up to three more children.  They have experience in this and they've said we're fine.

Another concern comes from people who don't have large families.  This is a question we get all the time anyway with five kids and we got it every time we announced a pregnancy.  "How can you manage so many people and stay sane?"  I'll say this, not everyone can.  I've always thought that having a large family is a calling.  Not every couple manages children the same.  Some are completely overwhelmed by two, or five, or fifteen.  I think personality has a huge role in this.  But also, big families just operate differently than small or average size families.  That's not a bad thing.  My kids certainly know that they are loved.  They have my attention when they need it.  They are each a very important part of our family and add something special to our whole.  And each adopted child will have all the joys and privileges of being part of this family.

If only the wealthy adopted we'd have an even bigger orphan problem.  If only those without children adopted, we'd have a bigger problem.  Sure, wealthy people with no children can give an adopted child everything.  They can buy them anything they want, take them on trips, never require anything of them.  But if you could ask an orphaned child what they long for, what do you think they would say?

We have been blessed by so many supportive friends and family members.  I know that when we bring more children into our home, they will be loved and embraced by our community.  These kids will have more than two parents and siblings that love them and are part of their lives.  Their little worlds will be changed.
Those few unsupportive people make it difficult though.  They make an already difficult situation harder.  But we still have great joy in the Lord as we seek to live out His gospel through adoption.  I wish that everyone could see our hearts and know what drives us.  But ultimately that doesn't matter.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.  James 1:2-3

We don't adopt because we want more kids.
We do want more kids, but that's not the driving force.

We don't adopt because we think it's a nice thing to do.
It is nice, but that's not why.

We don't adopt because we will be the best parents in the world.
We adopt because HE is the best parent and HE adopted us.

We adopt because of the gospel.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

What's going on

Want to know what's going on in our little world? Not a whole lot.  Or at least nothing huge.  I'm trying to be a little more orderly in my day to day life.  I even went so far as to create a daily schedule for me and the little ones.  We haven't really stuck to it, but it gives us a place to look when we're bored.  I'm also trying to be more intentional with one on one time with the kids.  I know that when we do get an adoptive placement it's going to disrupt EVERYTHING so it would be nice if we already have a good routine to fall back into.  I know that routine will be even more important for the future little Shipps.

Our current system is that each kid has their own day of the week.  G is Monday, J is Tuesday, L is Wednesday, and M is Thursday.  AM doesn't get one yet but she will when she starts noticing or when she moves out of the baby bed.

Privileges on each child's given day are:
* Sit by mama at dinner
* Say the prayer over dinner
* Run errands with a parent if they're happening that night
* Mom or dad snuggle in their bed for a few minutes chatting and visiting at bed time

I know it doesn't seem like much, but for now it makes a difference.  Each child really looks forward to their own day.  I also like having the weekends open since we tend to have people over on the weekends and I'm not as available at bed time, etc.  I suppose when AM moves up and when we have more children that we'll have to double up and split some of those privileges a little.  Even though we have a big-ish family, this little bit of one on one really makes a difference.

Another change we've made in anticipation of adoption is changing up discipline a little bit.  Spanking is a taboo subject, so I won't go into that too much other than to say that when kids are in foster care you can't spank them.  When we get a placement, the kids will still be considered to be in foster care until the adoption is finalized around 6 months later.  So no spanking.  And even once the adoption is consummated, that may not be the best idea anyway.  It's also discouraged to spank biological children in front of the foster children (for obvious reasons).  And we don't want to confuse anybody or make one child feel like they're different than the other.  So this is where Daddy Dollars come in.

Another adoptive mom turned us on to this.  It's a reward and consequence system.  The kids earn daddy dollars for doing their daily chores.  We often offer extras for extra chores or for helping a sibling.  The kids that are in school also get daddy dollars for exceptional grades.  They can also lose daddy dollars for disobedience, disrespect, bad attitude, etc.  We even have one kiddo who constantly forgets to put his name on his school work (and loses points at school for it) and so we've started deducting daddy dollars for that too (a little extra incentive.)  We typically pay out once a week.  If any daddy dollars are owed though that is done immediately. They each keep up with their own dollars.

Roughly every two weeks the Mommy Market opens.  (Catchy, isn't it?)  The mommy market contains various things.  We've currently got an assortment of dollar tree toys, decks of cards, batteries, candy, mechanical pencils and mini note pads.  In the past we've also had things like gloves, fun socks, toy baby bottles, finger paint (bad idea!), erasers, nun-chucks (also a bad idea), and lego men.  In addition to these items, we also have "gift certificates" for a dinner date with one parent, a movie date with one parent, and i-tunes credit.  Prices vary on these items from 2 for 1 daddy dollar to 25 daddy dollars.  Sometimes they spend it all and sometimes they save it up to buy a big ticket item.  (And the prices may change at any time!) They all love going to the mommy market.  It's exciting every time.  They also have some input on what items we put in the mommy market.  Sometimes they'll ask for something at the store and I can't just buy every little thing they want, but I can buy it and they can work for it.
I must admit, this system has been better for rewards than for discipline.  That's my own fault though because I forget to take them away.  I need to get more on top of that.  (For those readers that don't know me, my kids range from 1.5 to 8.  The youngest doesn't participate in this, but the 3 yr old does and loves it.)
You can make your own daddy dollars here in any denomination or type of money.