This is the place where we are have documented the road we have walked in order to adopt our four children from Brazil and the road we are now on as a family. We are keenly aware that adopting is not just a process we've chosen to go through, but part of God's plan for us and for our children. May He be glorified through the process and through our family!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Little ones praising the Holy One

Our children love Jesus.  They don't love Him because we told them to or because they feel like they have to.  They love Him because He is amazing!  The other day, on the way home from school, Brayan announced that he was going to make something special for God.  He decided he would make Him something to eat:  pasta with lots of cheese and lots of salt and LOTS of chocolate and some fried eggs and salad.  (All Brayan's favorites.)  He went on and on about the meal he was planning to make for God.  Just to find out what was in his mind, I asked why he had decided to make all these delicious things for God.  He immediately said that it was because He died on the cross for our fault to cleanse us.  (Porque ele morriu na cruz por causa de nossa culpa para nos-limpar, were his exact words as best I can remember them.)

Today Brayan composed a song for Jesus.

Voce e meu Deus, Voce e meu Deus
Muito corajoso, muito feliz, muito poderoso
Muito queridinho
Voce cuida de me.

You are my God, You are my God
So brave, So powerful
So very beloved
You care for me.

The more he sang it (after the video camera came out), the sillier he got, but he kept singing it all afternoon even after the camera was put away and he was putting on his snowpants to play outside.

Here is a boy who loves Jesus.  He offers the best of his imagination for his brave and powerful Lord.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Stop admiring us, please

I've been rolling this post around in my mind for weeks, it seems, and I'm still not sure it will come out quite right.  We want to give the right amount of respect and appreciation to all of the people in our life who are approving and supportive of our family, but we both feel like the time has come to clarify why we adopted and... and why we didn't.

Some very loving people in our lives have said things like, "those kids are so lucky to have you," and "what a good thing you've done," and "we admire you so much," and "you're such good people," and  "you're going straight to heaven for this." (Click here for some more explanation on that last one.) One well-meaning new friend even bowed at us when we told her who our children are.

I'm never quite sure how to respond to this kind of comment, but it always makes me feel more than a little uncomfortable.  Let's talk about not worthy!  US?  Not even close!  Having Maynara, Lucas, Luana and Brayan as our daughters and sons is the most humbling experience either of us has ever experienced.  And even thinking that something that we did or some admirable virtue that we posessed was what got them here in our family couldn't be farther from the truth.  Look back 3 years ago in this blog and you'll see that if things had gone according to the way we had originally imagined, our family would look nothing like it does today.  And we can't imagine, even for a minute, our family being any way other than the way it is today.

The children who are upstairs asleep in their beds as I sit and ponder what it means to be thier mother... those kids are my children.  They are my sons and daughers just as much as if each one had been born to us on the day of their first breath.  And on the day, 10 years ago, when we were 19 year old college sophomores and Maynara first saw the light of the Brazilian sun and cried her first cry... she was our daughter then.  And 8 years ago as we were planning the last details of our wedding day, our son Abraao Lucas was coming into the world.  And 6 years ago when we were struggling to  make ends meet while James was in school and I was trying to figure out how to be a decent teacher, our daugher Luana was born two days before her father's birthday.  And 4 years ago when we were deciding that we would grow our family through adoption, our youngest son Brayan was meeting his sisters and brother for the first time as a little babe.

How could we have known what God was planning for our family?  How can we know what plans He still has in store for us?  It was not because we obeyed that He rewarded us with this family.  This was always our family, and He was faithful to reveal that fact one little bit at at time while teaching us to trust His ways, not ours.

Adopting is not and should not be an act of charity or rescuing.  Of course, there is a very real sense (in many cases) in which being adoption equals being rescued (think Haiti), but adoption is not about rescuing, it is about uniting families.

Here's another pair of comments we've heard several times since coming home with our children, "I always wanted to adopt" and "we're really thinking about adoption, especially because of what we've seen in your family."  I'm always a little shy about answering these comments too, but my heart wants to scream out, "DO IT!"  If you feel the slightest tug toward adopting or fostering children, in the US or abroad, because of what you've seen God do in our family and others like ours... DO IT!  At least look into it and start asking the tough questions:  Do I really want a family?  What adoption agency can answer  my questions?  How can I afford the process?  Am I called to adopt domestically or internationally, an infant, an older child, or a sibling group?  How do I make it happen?  Ask yourself.  Ask us.  Ask any adoptive family.  It's not impossible.  It's not unaffordable.  You're not too old and you're not too young, and you DO have room in your heart for a child that was not born from your womb.  If God has a child out there for you, He will give you all the love you need and you'll be surprised how much of it there is!

Stepping down off that little soapbox I just built myself... we really just want to reflect God's goodness to us by loving and raising our children as best we can.  We don't want to be on anyone's pedistal.  We want to step out of the way and let you bow before the Creator of the universe who also created this family.  Just the way it is.

Monday, January 18, 2010


This is not at all monumental or spiritual, but I thought it was worth documenting our boys' first haircut at their mother's hand.  It was also mother's first haircutting experience.  Not so bad.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Breath it In

We're concentrating on breathing in every moment and soaking up the treasure that it is.

Everyone has started school and work, and God continues to be faithful as we sort out our new normal.  So many friends have brought us meals, or clothes, or games or visits.  We are feeling so blessed

Miracle of the Moment by Steven Curtis Chapman

It's time for letting go
All of our "if onlies"
Cause we don't have a time machine

And even if we did
Would we really want to use it
Would we really want to go change everything

Cause we are who and where and what we are for now
And this is the only moment we can do anything about

So breathe it in and breathe it out
And listen to your heartbeat
There's a wonder in the here and now
It's right there in front of you
And I don't want you to miss the miracle of the moment

There's only One who knows
What's really out there waiting
And all the moments yet to be
And all we need to know
Is He's out there waiting
To Him the future's history

And He has given us a treasure called right now
And this is the only moment we can do anything about

So breathe it in and breathe it out
And listen to your heartbeat
There's a wonder in the here and now
It's right there in front of you
And I don't want you to miss the miracle of the moment

And if it brings you tears
Then taste them as they fall
Let them soften your heart

And if it brings you laughter
Then throw your head back
And let it go
Let it go, yeah
You gotta let it go

And listen to your heartbeat

And breathe it in and breathe it out
And listen to your heartbeat
There's a wonder in the here and now
It's right there in front of you
And I don't want you to miss the miracle of the moment

And breathe it in and breathe it out
And listen to your heartbeat
There's a wonder in the here and now
It's right there in front of you
And I don't want you to miss the miracle of the moment

Here are some pictures from Lucas' 8th birthday on the 4th.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Parents: We're All the Fool

After my first week back at work, this past weekend I was thoroughly exhausted and by Sunday I was in a pretty bad mood. I was impatient and as a husband and probably unbearable as a father as "everything" the kids were doing was bothering me. I was quick to anger and quick to speak to let them know I was displeased with their behavior. Since my threshold for acceptable behavior was really low, it only made me more and more annoyed every passing minute.

Even so, after church on Sunday we had some friends of ours over for lunch. Good Christian folk that they are, I knew they would understand when I told them, "I'm feeling out of sorts today, so if I stay quiet and don't talk much, that's why." This was in the spirit of the advice Thumper's dad gives in Bambi: "If you can't say somethin' nice, don't say nothin' at all!"

After lunch on Sundays, the kids have "quiet time" in their rooms, and Kim and I continued to visit with our friends in the living room. Kim did most of the talking from our end, and I sat in a funk trying to get over my mood. Part way through the conversation, Kim commented to our friends about correcting one of our children again Sunday morning on something we had both corrected several times in the last few days. I could feel the anger start welling up inside me and my brain started spinning. "I just don't understand why they continue to do the same things over and over again when they know they shouldn't," I though. I was literally pointing a finger at my son in my mind when it hit me. I smiled and interrupted the conversation and said, "I have to share what I was just thinking, which I think has gotten me over my bad mood."

What went through my mind in that split second was this: as I was pointing the finger of reprimand at my son in my mind, I suddently saw those three fingers pointing back at me. I was reminded of our Bible study last year in which we studied Proverbs. Our leader reminded us back then, "remember, when you read a proverb which talks about the 'wise man' and the 'fool,' don't get a big smile and think, 'oh good, I'm safe.' We're all the fool!"

So there I was, fingers pointed back at me, the fool, sinful, full of anger, doing the same thing over and over and over again even though I know I shouldn't, even though God my own Father has reprimands me time and time again for my own sins!

I suppose it seems a little counterintuitive that being confronted with my own sinful state so blatantly would make me feel better rather than worse, but it was really like a light switch how my outlook and mood changed. I re-realized and remembered that I am a sinful father parenting sinful children, and that my children deserve the same patience that God shows me as he reprimands me, and that my correction of my children should never be out of hate or anger, but out of love.

We have a friend from church who always tells people with new babies, "congratulations on your new bundle of original sin." It always seems to get a chuckle, but beyond the surface it's a Biblical truth that is really worth remembering as a parent. I recently read a book on Gospel-centered parenting, and although the jury's still out on the book as a whole, there were a number of points that were really illustrated well. To the point of our children's own sinfulness, the author comments that you never have to teach children to say nasty things to one another or to not share toys or to hit or to speak disrespectfully to their parents. But you do have to teach them (and more importantly demonstrate to them!) to share, and to speak respectfully, and to love their enemy...

I know I will continue to sin as a parent. And I know that my children will continue to sin as well. But somehow being reminded of this fact so suddenly this past weekend freed me from my self-centered anger and self-righteous pride.

"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23

"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4

"But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness." Pslam 86:15

"My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." James 1:19-20

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Our New Life

Hi Friends. I wanted to post a little something to dispel any myths that might be cropping up in your minds about our whereabouts or how we're doing now that we're home.

 To be sure, there is no boredom at our house or in our life, but we are far from haggered, exhausted and beat. We are soaking up every beautiful moment with our children. Even the noisy, frustrating and defiant ones. We've told lots of our friends (so we might as well record it here) that the strangest thing about this new life is how normal it feels. God is Faithful. He formed this family and he is not letting us down. There is so much love in our life right now. Our house is full, our hands are full and our hearts are full. One of our dear friends said that our house now feels "lived in" because there isn't any space that's waiting for someone anymore. We play games and cards. We tickle. We read. We snuggle. We rough-house. We cook together. We watch movies.

 James started back at work this week (including a business trip to Calgary--Gramma came to visit and help while Papai was away). Kim and the kids will all start school/work this Monday (1/11/10). That will be the real transition. We've gotten very good at being on vacation together, so this new routine will be very new indeed. We were able to successfully register all four children at Kim's school and are very thankful for that provision.

 We were very purposeful about recording our experiences in Brazil and have not been purposeful at all about documenting our transition to home. Instead, we are being purposeful about living and loving time togehter as a family. New entries here are not absent because of chaos or exhuastion, they are absent because we've entered a very new chapter in our lives and we are determined to get as much out of it as we can.

 We know that many friends, family members and even some strangers have been on their knees in prayer for us much more than we have for ourselves. All your prayers are appreciated.