For Father’s Day we have been so blessed to have three very special and very amazing father’s sharing their hearts with you. In 2011 it is fair to say that men, husbands and fathers do not get the honour that we should be bestowing upon them. So, this weekend, we are doing just that. We are honouring fathers.
We are also debuting our father’s forum so please read all the way through to the end to learn more about this!
Anthony Salem and his wife Adeye adopted Hannah-Claire, Haven, Hailee and Harper
It’s in the Bible. It says “You are evil.”
Look it up yourself. It’s in Matthew 7:9-11…
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though YOU ARE EVIL, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
Well, I wanted a gift from my Father. Not bread or a fish. Money. A lot of money. But would God give it to me so we could adopt our first child, Hannah-Claire?...Give it to my evil self?
It wouldn’t hurt to ask Him. (How’s that sound coming from a man of faith?) OK, so I’m evil and lacking faith sometimes. Then, slowly but surely, I learned from the Word and from my wife (not necessarily in that order—lol) how my “Father in heaven” has a particular interest in orphans. I mean, He’s passionate about them!
Soon, my faith grew. Of COURSE, God would supply this need. Oh, we worked hard at fundraising. But we were blown away at the money just came in. People around the world wanted a part of this. They understood before I did how God loves the orphan.
My concern about the money wasn’t a concern at all. I felt exuberant and ashamed at the same time. Years of being a Christian with all the impressive diplomas and ordination certificates to prove it (putting his tongue is in his cheek), and I was worried about God providing in this adoption. AND about how I could sustain another mouth to feed. But I meditated on how little that mouth would be. And, more importantly, how big that pocket on God actually is. And He’s proved it four times over.
There’s Hannah-Claire, Haven, Hailee, and Harper. Now all we need is Comet and Cupid, Donner and Blitzen.
The four girls were a bit scruffy when they were handed to us. Half came from China, half from Ukraine. But both countries must’ve gotten the e-mail—“Make sure you dress them in mismatched clothes and mess up their hair for the Americans.”
Today, they shine…hair included. Each of them brings such a unique joy to our family.
Hannah-Claire says the most silly things, like during Christmas, wondering if we’re going to buy an “activity set,” instead of nativity.
Haven doesn’t speak, but just being herself, brings laughter to our hearts. When we scoot her to her room or to the park, she doesn’t walk fast—she kinda dances. A skip here. A glide there.
Hailee, our 23-pound six year old, not only laughs when she’s happy. She screams. But I mean screams! With eyes bugging and arms flailing, she belts out her pleasure.
Harper’s our delicate missy. She hedges herself in as Daddy’s little girl. Harper must have my lap or else. I can watch her walk all day long. Her belly leads the way as her back hunches over so she can carefully supervise her feet as they take each step.
Joy unspeakable. That’s what the Father in heaven has dropped in my heart for each child, bio and adopted. It makes being a father so darn easy. And it makes me want to give them all of the bread and fish in the world!
Anthony Salem writes the No Greater Joy Dad blog which I encourage you to follow! He has a Reluctant Dad Syndrome series on his blog which is definitely worth the read. He is also one of the moderators on our fathers' forum which we are launching today!
Rob Nalle and wife Julia adopted Aaron
I have said it before: the world of special needs adoption is a woman’s world. If you don’t believe me, try reading some adoption blogs. Take just one cautious step into this marshy bog of sentiment, and suddenly you’ll find yourself thigh-deep in a muck of chatter about breast pumps, toddler fashions and the contents of dirty diapers. There isn’t a man alive who wouldn’t rather hang himself to death with his prison bedsheets than read these womanish adoption blogs.
On the other hand, these children need families, and that usually means two parents. How do we men come on board? I only know how I came on board:
My wife talked me into it.I carefully weighed the options, then firmly and decisively led my family down the road toward adoption.
To explain, I have to relate a bit about how I feel about women: I love women. In my opinion, there isn’t a single woman on earth who doesn’t have at least some God-given beauty-- although a few hide theirs most effectively. And I especially love my wife. I find her endlessly fascinating. Every good thing I have in my life, I have because of her. Everything that matters to me matters more because of her. I love life only because of my love for her and my love for my children. No other earthly thing signifies-- no accomplishment, no amount of wealth, no pleasure or diversion. I knew God before I was married, but I understood God’s father heart (a little) only after I became a husband and a father.
When my wife became interested in special needs adoption around last Christmas, I resisted. The pictures and the stories on the many blogs she followed didn’t move me in the same way they moved her. I’ve always given liberally to church and charity, but I was very reluctant to bring a stranger into our home, our only refuge from work and the world. When I’m home, which is little enough, I want to rest. And I already had bookkeeping, editing and business chores chewing away my home time, plus my home schooling duties. Besides all of that, we both knew that we were in no financial shape to undertake a hideously expensive international adoption.
Yet only a few weeks after all of this came up, I found myself agreeing to pursue Aaron’s adoption. I told Julia that I would “follow her heart.” I said that after I realized that every good thing we’ve ever done has come from following her heart, her good woman’s heart. I couldn’t let myself be the fool who stood in her way and prevented her from doing what I was sure the Lord was leading her to do.
If the path of our lives together was left to me, I would do nothing but work. I would work for twelve hours every day, six days a week, thinking about little but work all the while, and go home exhausted. I would come to view my time off as unproductive, wasted time, and I would begin to work half days on Sundays, too. I’m already a long way down that path. My work is tiring, but satisfying. I don’t have the energy for much else.
My wife is different. Her heart is more like God’s heart. She is more in tune with the Holy Spirit. She naturally cares about the things God cares about. She loves what God loves, and hates what God hates. Where I overlook people and their needs, she cares for them and frets over them. Where I assume that people are beyond help, she finds ways to help. Our family leads a much more fruitful life when we follow her heart than when we follow mine. We lead a more Godly life, a life more pleasing to God, when we follow her heart. And we experience more of the love that God has to offer when we follow her heart.
I picture it in this way (I may be borrowing this illustration, I don’t remember): imagine that all of God’s people are swimmers in a broad, swift stream. The stream is God’s will, and it flows toward the accomplishment of God’s purposes. People like me tend to stay close to the banks, where the water doesn’t move too fast. We hang on to the edge to keep the raging will of God from pulling us faster than we have the courage to go. Sometimes we even try to swim upstream, against God’s will. People like my wife, on the other hand, are always pushing away from the banks, out into the center of the stream. They want to be where the action is, to see God moving in the world and move with Him. We’re all going downstream to the same place, because God’s will cannot be denied. But if we want to experience more of God, we have to move out into the center of the stream.
That’s how I see this adoption: we’ve pushed out nearer to the center of the stream of God’s will. With God’s help I followed my wife’s heart, I took a step in faith, because I wanted to experience more of what God has to offer. I was curious to see what God would do. And God has not disappointed me: He has aroused compassion in the hearts of hundreds of people who have helped to bring Aaron home. Through them, He has raised all of the money that we needed. He has saved a precious little boy from being Lost forever. He has moved the heart of our skeptical judge.
And before any of that, he chose the perfect little boy for us. This was the thing that worried me the most before we got here: who was this little boy? We committed to adopt Aaron based on one smiling photograph and a short description that turned out to be about 75% right. All of our efforts to learn more about him before we got here came to nearly nothing. I even doubted that we’d be able to find him when we got here, because there seemed to be so little information available on him. When we finally found him, though, it took us only a few minutes to discover that God had not steered us wrong. On the second day we knew him, we were already making plans for his care, plotting his life with us as if he were one of our own. Now that we’ve been with him for several weeks, we smile fondly at him and admire his features, just as we do with our own sons. We take pride in his little eccentricities. We couldn’t have wanted any other child this much. God made the perfect choice for us.
Yes, our adoption has been hard, harder than it had to be. Maybe that makes it even better in the end. No matter what happens from here on, I think I shall always consider Aaron’s adoption the best good deed of our lives.
Rob writes the Covenant Builders blog along with wife Julia.
Phillip Browning and his wife Charrissa adopted Matthew and Ivanna
The largest concern for me was that I would over extend my family. It is my responsibility as a husband and a father to be sure that my family is equipped to bring honor and glory to our Lord. With adoption being, no doubt an obvious need as our eyes had been opened, the question for me was, could our family handle the added responsibility of having additional children, not to mention, additional children with special needs. Would we lose our testimony and ability to serve the Lord by taxing my family in a way that would be more than we could bare? I have heard it said that the biggest enemy of the best things, are good things. Adoption is a good thing, but was it the best for the Browning family.
Many different experiences that I will not do justice in explaining, helped confirm that this was something that we needed to do...simply put, it was the Lord working on my and my families heart. Daily living in a home where there is love, reassurance, and yes occasional chaos, but to return to love and reassurance. The Lord has given me so much! It was said by an old preacher that Christ not only gave us a new life eternal, but He gave us a new legacy. How could I hoard His blessing, provision, and love? We are a crazy, large family that has been given the goodness and blessing that we have by a Lord that loves us very much. If there is anything good in us, it is totally the Lord's fault. :-) In a society where families are getting smaller and smaller and homes are getting larger and larger, I thought, why could we not handle a couple of additional children. Children that have never experienced a love like the love of my Lord. The type of love that comes from a family. The family was put together by the Lord for a reason, what a blessed institution. It is not easy being a parent. It is not easy being a Christian. But there is no higher calling than to raise up a godly seed and increase the kingdom of God. This work begins in the walls of our home.
I also noticed the change and softening in the hearts of my other children. I remember one night, as I was going through the good night routine with my children, my older son was weeping. He said, "Dad I just can't imagine that there are children in the world that do not have the love of a mother and father." We had a wonderful talk about the effects of a sinful world and the wonderful call of the people of God to care for the fatherless and widow, to display pure religion (religion being an outward work of an inward belief). It was the joy of this father to see the softening of my children's hearts as they where moved with compassion for those in need. I knew then, that God was doing an inward work as we were praying about doing an outward one.
After all was said and done, my initial concerns were not an issue, but I am thankful that the Lord had me walk through this. Needless to say, with now a family of eight children, three with special needs, we have much business, therapies, doctors visits, and "stuff" that happens in any home. There has been a lot of training and teaching and loving that has needed to go on especially now, having been home for only six months. What a transition for them and for us! Yes, we have the three year old that wants and is at times jealous for the attention of mother and father. We have older children that have extra responsibilities, because our family work load has been greater, and yes we have missed out on some of the ... serving opportunities... initially since being home. Right now, the family unit has need some additional focus, as does every family that has a new born. There is a period of transition, adjustments, etc. Again, I am thankful that this was a concern before hand that the Lord walked me through, so that I was better equipped to walk through this after we had Max and Ivanna home.
The Lord got us through this and IS getting us through this the way that the Lord does it. He leaves us gleanings, or gives us blessings to remind us and encourage us in our walk of raising a family. How beautiful the day that Max, who had horrible vision, put on glasses for the first time. His countenance literally changed when the glasses were put on his eyes. He got home, rubbed the carpet with is hands, climbed up on the couch for the first time and starred out the window, taking in the world that he had not been able to see before. What a blessing to be a part of!
My five year old daughter Elisabeth would pray for Ivanna, almost every night, asking that she would learn how to walk. She was so excited to help and teach Ivanna to walk. Her prayers have been answered. Ivanna is a walker!...and we, as a family rejoice! We rejoiced in a little girl that would not interact with toys, or objects that she was given, begin to feed herself for the first time. Now she often doesn't want to be fed. We rejoice!...and praise the Lord.
There have been so many steps that Max and Ivanna have taken, in health and growth, in temperament and personality, in ability, and we as a family have been encouraged. I thank the Lord for it. We need these moments! Some scripture that encourages me...
Psalm 107:23-24 They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.
If you were blessed by what you read today, why not put our A Father's Heart button on your blog! There are four to choose from... GRAB THEM HERE.
The Reece's Rainbow Fathers' Forum is being launched today! This forum is just for men, whether they are a father, adoptive or bio, or considering adoption. We hope that it is a blessing and a place for men to be able to openly share and ask questions about adoption or anything they want! It is a forum run by men for men! Please join us if you are a father who has adopted or are considering adoption in the future! You can also help promote our forum with our Father's Forum button!
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