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Tag: adoption

Skin in the Game

The conversations in our home about race and difference sneak up on me, and I inevitably find myself unprepared. All the adoption trainings in the world can’t prepare one for the actual moment that the issue will arise. Transracial adoption is tricky that way. There I am, parenting like normal, when suddenly, out of seemingly nowhere, a question is asked or a comment is made that brings up what is always there right under the surface: difference, skin tone, and diversity. The conversation can be triggered in various ways. Sometimes it’s a book or TV show. Sometimes it’s an observation my son makes about his skin compared to his brothers. Sometimes it’s a birthday or adoption anniversary. This time, it was about Martin Luther King Day.

As I tucked my son into bed last night, he asked, “Do we have school tomorrow?” “No, tomorrow is a holiday, bud,” I responded.

Naturally, he wanted to know what holiday it was, so I explained that it was Martin Luther King Day. He didn’t know who Martin Luther King Jr. was, so I told him that he was a great man who worked for the rights of black people in our country.

“Like me,” he said knowingly. “Yes, honey, like you, but he lived a long time ago. Let’s look him up tomorrow and read about him together, would you like that?”

My son nodded, and settled down into bed to go to sleep.

I recounted the conversation to my husband later that evening, and he responded, “But it really wasn’t that long ago. Not really.”

No, it wasn’t. It really wasn’t.

Just a generation or two.

As an adoptive mother, I find myself raising an African American son and having conversations about things that I myself can’t really understand or fathom. Who really can? Martin Luther King Jr. had courage to lead and speak truths that needed to be heard at a pivotal time, yet how could I sum up the work he did to an innocent child?

My son is only five years old. There’s so much he does not yet know about the world. Still, the conversations about ethnic differences have already begun. It began before he had words. Many well-meaning people have told me that he may not even notice the differences. He may feel so loved he will just navigate his childhood as if he’d been birthed into our family. However, early on, he did notice differences. By the age of three, he was asking questions and making comments about having brown skin when his brothers have white skin. This, after all, is a normal part of development: making sense of ourselves and the world around us.

As race and privilege have arisen as major topics in the nation’s conversation over the past year, my son has remained mostly oblivious, too young to watch the news. Still, I know, one day he will understand. Over time, difficult conversations will be had. I won’t always be able to shield him from the hurt, pain, and prejudice he may experience.

I am humbled by the responsibility that I have been given to raise this precious boy. With God’s help, I will navigate this conversation, and all that are to come. I will teach my children what heroism looks like: standing up for justice and righteousness, even when there is opposition. We will read and learn together about Martin Luther King Jr. and other heroes with brown skin who changed the world.

The truth is, I am not just opening the eyes of my son to see the world differently: he has opened my eyes. I have so much still to learn myself. I have seen a different reality since becoming his mother. Things that I had the privilege to not see before, now I cannot unsee. Things I could choose not to hear before, now I cannot unhear. I am an advocate. I am a protector. I am a mama bear, and with this role has come the humility and discomfort of a new sort of education. It’s easy to dismiss uncomfortable things until you have “skin in the game.” Now I do.

So, on this Martin Luther King Day, I want to stop and say thank you to those who have made themselves uncomfortable to advocate for those who have been marginalized and oppressed.

May we have the bravery to humble ourselves, listen, and learn. May we have the courage to do this, even if it makes us uncomfortable.

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Connected Parenting: An Interview with Melissa Corkum

It was a delight to talk to Melissa Corkum on today’s podcast episode. Melissa wears a lot of hats, including Empowered to Connect parent trainer, Enneagram Coach, and Essential Oil Specialist. Melissa is a mother both through birth and adoption and shares in this episode about how parenting adopted children led her to learn more about connected parenting. She now loves to help others learn to parent using a more brain-based view of behaviors. Her tagline is “laugh more and yell less.” As an adoptive mother myself, I have been a fan of connected parenting for a long time, and I loved getting the chance to talk about it on the podcast.

Melissa is also a co-host of The Adoption Connection podcast. If you’d like to learn more about connected parenting and gain tips and tools for parenting adopted children, you will enjoy her podcast. In addition, Melissa has made her on-demand training library available to PRN listeners. To access these resources, go to: thecorkboardonline.com/prn.

I had so much to discuss with Melissa that we couldn’t fit it all into one podcast episode! So, in the next episode we continue our conversation about one of my favorite topics, the Enneagram. Make sure to come back in two weeks to hear that conversation.

If something you heard on today’s podcast episode resonated with you, or you know someone for whom this information would be helpful or encouraging, please subscribe and share! You can comment below today’s show notes or join the conversation on PRN’s facebook page.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

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Chosen and Cherished: An Interview with Becky Collier

In this episode, Becky shares how the Lord led her family to adopt their twin girls from Ukraine. She eloquently speaks of the hurdles and rewards of adoption and special needs parenting. Throughout the interview, she shares powerfully how, through the adoption of her daughters, the Lord is producing the fruit of the Spirit in both her life and the lives of her children.

Becky, my guest on this podcast, shares about how the Lord led her into adoption and special needs parenting.

In this episode, Becky lists a few resources that she has found particularly helpful in parenting:

Empowered to Connect, mentioned in today’s podcast, is a great ministry that helps equip adoptive and foster parents in how to raise children that “come from hard places.”

Also mentioned in this podcast is Reece’s Rainbow, which is a special needs adoption support ministry.

Becky shares that one of her favorite Scripture passages is Psalm 107. She particularly clings to the last verse in the chapter:

Let whoever is wise pay attention to these things
and consider the Lord’s acts of faithful love.

Psalm 107:43 HCSB

If this podcast encouraged you or resonated with you in some way, please feel free to to share it with others. You can join in the conversation at PRN’s Facebook page as well.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus!

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Puffed Up or Built Up?

As an adoptive mother, I have known for some time that I should have a polite and respectable answer prepared for those inevitable times when I will be publicly asked questions about my son. From the very beginning of the fostering and adoption journey, I knew the questions were destined to come. However, no matter how much preparation I have done for those moments, they always seem to catch me off guard.

Mother and son – hand in hand.

For example, one day last summer I was checking out at the grocery store when one such question arrived. This particular day I happened to be alone, and every mother of multiples knows that a shopping trip without kids is like a mini getaway. So, it caught me off guard when the cashier referenced my adopted son and asked “Where did you get him from?” Now, the first thought I had was: we must be really well known at this grocery store for her to remember my children, even when they’re not with me!

Being caught off guard, my response felt like a fumbling attempt to educate her about foster care and the fact that all adopted African American children do not arrive through international adoption agencies. Honestly, I mostly just tried not to be rude. Afterwards, as I loaded my groceries into my van, I was internally frustrated with myself over my response. I replayed the conversation over and over again in my mind. I felt miffed with people in general for being so ignorant, and more than anything I was relieved that my son had not been present to hear the conversation.

Not long after that event, my husband and I were visiting with his cousin and her husband, who had recently done research on privilege and race. When I shared about my exchange at the grocery store, he offered a wise and unique perspective. He explained that people are fundamentally curious, and that, as a white woman, the cashier would probably never have approached an African American mother to ask a question like that. However, in her curiosity, she felt she could approach me. He said kindly and gently that, rather than being offended, I could view it as a privilege to answer questions that otherwise might never have been asked. Due to our conversation, the cashier had learned something about fostering and adopting she had not known before our interaction.

It’s all about perspective. I feel extraordinarily honored to be my son’s mother. Above all, I want to guard his heart and protect his story. Nonetheless, I am in a unique position to educate others about adoption, particularly about transracial adoption. My family is a living show-and-tell to our community.

On the other hand, I must also humble myself and learn from others. Because as much as I have sometimes been offended by others’ questions, I find myself asking questions too in my attempt to learn all that I need to know. Sometimes I have done this well, and other times I cringe to think about what a fool I’ve made of myself. Learning can be a humbling process.

I can’t change any minds, opinions, or lives through imparting knowledge. I could share all day about adoption, and it would mean absolutely nothing if it were not for love. People care when they see love. People care when they feel loved. I wish that I had shown a little more love that day in the grocery store.

Paul speaks to this very thing when he writes in I Corinthians 8:

We know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.  If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.  But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.

I Corinthians 8: 1b – 3 ESV

I love knowledge. I have attended phenomenal adoption conferences and read amazing books. Still, I can admit it: I do not yet know as I ought to know. Not about motherhood. Not about adoption. Not about raising a son who looks different than me. The list goes on and on.

I Corinthians 8:1

My hope is that before I graduate this life, I learn to love first and pass on knowledge second. So, if you happen to see me out and about and have a curiosity question to ask of me regarding my son, I make two requests:

  1. Please make sure my children are not present. I want to protect my son from questions that could bring him unnecessary pain.
  2. Know that if you catch me off guard, there’s just no telling what might pop out of my mouth. (Just being honest.) Still, I hope that as I grow in knowledge and love, my answers will become wiser and more full of grace.

If on the other hand you happen to be on the receiving end, and I have asked you a seemingly awkward question, know that my heart was probably in the right place. I just so want to advocate for my son, and sometimes I can come across as clumsy in my zeal.

Verse 3 of the above Scripture passage is my favorite part: “If anyone loves God, he is known by God.” What a promise! We as humans might miscommunicate, get frustrated, or focus too much on knowledge, but God sees through all of it right to our very souls. He knows us: our motivations, our curiosities, our struggles, and our love. That is an amazing promise in which a tired mama can rest.

Pause: Find a quiet place where you can spend a few moments alone with the Lord. Read I Corinthians 8:1-3 and meditate on what you find there. For more context, read the rest of the chapter as well. What stands out to you in this passage?

Renew: In what areas of your life do you find yourself knowledgeable? Take a moment to honestly evaluate how you share your knowledge with others. Is it with love? If not, pray about how the Lord can help you love others well in this area.

Next: Look for opportunities this week to show grace to curious bystanders in your life. When you feel an eye roll forming, take a moment to observe your internal reaction and shift your paradigm. How can you bring light and love to the interaction while imparting knowledge?

May we view curiosity as an opportunity to build others up in love.

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We Could Have Missed This: An Interview with Leeann Setliff

It was my pleasure to interview Leeann Setliff about her journey into becoming a foster parent. Leeann has a heart and passion for children that come from hard places, and that really comes through in this interview. She discusses her own experience as a foster parent and offers encouragement for others who are currently fostering or are considering becoming foster parents.

PRN: Pause, Renew, Next, the Podcast, Episode #11 – A heart for fostering

During this episode, Leeann shared two book resources that inspired her own journey and ministry in foster care. I have provided links to both books below.

In each podcast, I ask my guest to share a Scripture that has inspired them in their faith journey. In this episode, Leeann said that she finds encouragement in Lamentations:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

Lamentations 3:22-24 NIV
It was such a joy to get to talk to Leeann!

If you are considering becoming a foster parent, I would encourage you to contact your county to find out about informational meetings and the process for becoming a foster/adoptive parent in your state. There are also many other ways that you can becoming involved in supporting foster care such as providing respite care or supporting foster/adoptive families that you know in your church or community.

Did anything that you heard in today’s podcast resonate with you? I’d love to hear about it! Comment below or on PRN’s Facebook page.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus!

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