Friday, August 22, 2014

9 Lessons I have learned through Adoption.

Adoption Day July 22nd, 2010

Note: A few months ago I had the privilege of teaching at a Woman's Conference at Calvary Chapel Sao Vicente. CCSV is a church that is very near and dear to our hearts. Our family had a blessed time with our friends Pastor Celso and his beautiful wife Tati. One of the three messages that the Lord put on my heart to teach was "9 Lessons I have learned   through Adoption". For whatever reason the Lord put it on my heart today to post my notes from this teaching. I have already shared some of these ideas on this blog but I wanted to re post them to keep a record of what the Lord has been teaching this mom of many and I hope that He will use it to encourage someone else. With much love - Dani

Lesson 1.) We are chosen to be sons of God. 
(Rom 8:15) For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
 I have learned that it is very important to teach our children that adoption means acceptance and adoption means love. My oldest son Josiah has been told this so many times he started to tell people “Did you know I am the best kid in the whole world? Do you know why I am the best kid in the whole world? My parents could have picked any kid in the whole world but they chose me.” 
In fact our family has put such an emphasis on making sure that our children know that adoption is a special thing our biological son Ezekiel who is 4 years old started telling people that he was adopted. Adoption is acceptance. Adoption is love. We were chosen to be sons of God. Did you know that you are loved? Sometimes we as women just need to hear that don’t we? YOU ARE ACCEPTED! YOU ARE LOVED! YOU are loved by the God of the universe.  

Lesson 2 .) The Lord made a sacrifice to have a relationship with me. (John 3:16 )“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."  When we first got our kids it was really difficult. The kids came to us with lots of issues. It wasn’t their fault, they had come from a difficult life but never the less in the beginning it was very hard to parent them. I remember a time about a month after we got the kids, Nathan had gone back to Brazil to take care of the church and the kids and I had to stay in the U.S.A. to finalize the adoption. At the time we had 6 kids. Our oldest son Josiah was 5 years old, Hope was 4 years old, Grace, Lilly and Jer were ALL 2 years old and E.Z. was only 6 months old. Imagine 6 kids under 5 years old. Four of the kids were under 2 years old and FOUR babies were using diapers!! That is over a 1,000 diapers a month!! Imagine! I remember one day I was really sick, super sleep deprived, missing my husband and dealing with some MAJOR bad attitudes (mine was the worst I am sure). By noon, I had poop thrown at me, been bit, dealt with TONS of screaming, and to top it all off my face was dripping with spit from an angry two year old. My 5 year old had told me that he hated me and he wanted to go back to his “old mom”.  After I finally got everyone settled and down for a nap I sat on my bed and cried out to the Lord and said,
"Father, what am I doing? Are these kids ever going to realize what we are doing for them? Are they ever going to appreciate what we have given up for them? Are they ever going to love me the way that I love them?" 
As I sat on my bed listening to the unusually quiet house I heard my answer in the form of a question. The Lord said to me - 
“Do you realize what I have given up for you? Do you love ME the way that I love you?" 
Wow! It was in that moment that something in my mind clicked. Jesus ALREADY knew what I was feeling because He had ALREADY done it. He gave up being with His Father (WOW!) - so I should be able to get through being away from Nate for a time while we finalized the adoption. 
The Lord knew what it was like to have His kids spit in His face because He ALREADY did it - AND (here is the crazy part) He did it all for me and He did it for YOU.

Lesson 3.) Jesus is not ashamed to call us HIS brothers!  (Heb 2:11)“For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren” 
 Shortly after adopting our kids, I remember shopping at Walmart in our pretty conservative little town. Because I had 6 little kids we usually did our shopping in the afternoon which also happens to be when the older/ sometimes rather judgemental senior citizens of our town would also do their shopping. On this particular shopping trip I remember Josiah gleefully singing the “Thong Song” as loud as he could while I avoided eye contact from more than one horrified fellow shoppers. Poor Hope wanted to hide under the cart as all attempts to quiet Josiah's concert only encouraged him to sing louder. In the moment good girl Hope was a little ashamed for people to think Josiah was her brother but Jesus is not ashamed to call us HIS brothers. Wow!
Lesson 4.) We are considered joint heirs and brothers with Jesus.  
(Gal 4:5-6) to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”
 July 22nd, 2010, our adoption day was one of the best days of my life. Like our wedding day or our other children's births is was a day that was much anticipated, planned for, and prayed over. Because it was such a crazy day I remember very little details of the day and the adoption ceremony itself. So while the details of the day are foggy one thing is forever etched in my mind and I will remember it for the rest of my life and that is what the judge said to us right before she pronounced the kids "Cates forever". The judge looked Nathan and I in the eye and very seriously said  “Mr. and Mrs. Cate I see that you already have three biological children and I want to make one thing very clear. These children that you are adopting today will be considered the same as your biological children. They have every right and every inheritance as if they were born to you.” We as Christians are considered joint heirs of Jesus. We are sons of God. 

Lesson 5.) When we spend time with the Lord we look more like Him.  (2Corinthians 3:18) “ But we all, with unveiled face, beholding a(2Corinthians 3:18) “ But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” One of my favorite things as an adoptive mother is watching our family grow and mold together. Everywhere we go people try to “figure us out”. Everyone wants to know how on earth two 28 year olds could have 8 kids. Sometimes we will tell people that we adopted but I always hate when people want to know WHO was adopted. My favorite response is, “I forgot”. Nate likes to say, “Hey if you can’t tell why should we?” I love that people can’t tell who is adopted and who is biological; this means that we are doing our job as adoptive parents. 
 Lately I have been seeing traits of Nathan in the kids more than ever, whether it is Josiah making a cheesy joke, Jeremiah making a funny face, or Lilly having an unnatural obsession for chocolate I am always finding myself telling the kids 
“You get that from your dad!” Every day the kids are becoming more like Nate because they are spending TIME with him, they have a relationship with him, and they are picking up on who he is as a person. I hope and pray that this is how I am with my Father Jesus Christ. I want to become more like Him as I spend time with Him just growing in our relationship and growing in His Word. I want to look like my Dad. 

Lesson 6.) The Lord sacrificed His perfect SON to have a relationship with me and imperfect sinner.  (yes, this verse again, hey it is that good!!)  (John 3:16 )“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 
 I remember when my kids first came to us Lilly was having a really hard time. Like I have already said, it was not her fault, she had been through a lot in her life and she just didn’t really like people. At the time out of all the people that she didn't like the one that she hated most (again, just in the beginning) was me. It was SO hard trying to love someone who only hated me. I remember one day she did something bad and I had to put her in a time out. When I asked her to go to the time out chair for her discipline she was so angry she put her hands on her hips and marched away. As she was walking away and glaring at me from across the room she spotted my 6 month old baby Ezekiel who was laying on the floor. Before I had time to make it across the room she got to the baby and kicked him in the face with her cowboy boots on! My heart broke! I loved the kids so much but I did not want to see my biological kids suffer because I had chosen to adopt my other 3 kids. I would do anything for any of my kids. I would lay down my life for any of my kids. The only thing that I would not be able to do would be to sacrifice the life of one of my kids for another kid. That kind of sacrifice would be an almost impossible sacrifice but if we really stop and think about it our Lord made an even greater sacrifice for us! At the time of this story my Lilly was bad but nothing compared to the sinner than I am. My baby Ezekiel was innocent but nothing compared to the innocence of the sinless Son of God Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) The Lord sacrificed His perfect Son to have a relationship with me. THIS IS LOVE!

Lesson 7.) There is no evidence of our past life. We are new creations in Him.  (2 Corinthians 5:17) “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”  I have been talking a lot about the horror stories of when the kids first came to us, but something very interesting is in only four and a half years of being in our family our kids are totally different people. Most people who meet our family are not even able to tell who is adopted and who are our biological children. Why? Because there is little to no evidence of the pain and the past life that my kids had. They have become new people. The old has passed away and new life has begun.   My kids have new names, new identity and a new family. This is something that the Lord desires to do in our lives as well when we accept Him as our Savior.

 Lesson 8.) The Lord has patience with me as I continue to grow in Him. 
 (Philippians 1:6)“being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ”
My kids are still not perfect (none of them are, they are sinners just like their mom ;) .) but they are continuing to grow every day. Sometimes the kids have bad days but I am trusting that the Lord will be faithful to complete the good work that He has started in their lives. When my kids have a bad day do I get mad and say “Ok, you have gone back to your old ways, no more love for you!” NO! I know that my kids are not perfect and I still love them. The Lord knows that we are not perfect and He choses to love us anyways. He will have patience and grace to forgive us when we fall and He will be faithful to continue the good work that HE has begun in our lives. 

Lesson 9.) I must choose a relationship with Him. We have sacrificed a lot for our kids and over the years we have had a lot of people say funny things like “You guys are saints!” or “What a blessing you are to those kids” but the reality is it isn’t only the kids who were blessed when we adopted them. Nathan and I are blessed every day to have every one of our kids as part of our family!o We love watching them play, we love watching them learn, and we love watching them grow. We love seeing their different personalities and we love getting to know them more everyday. There is no greater joy than having a relationship with our kids. When our kids choose to talk to us, when they choose to spend time with us and share their hearts with us everything that we have done for them is totally worth it. Our Heavenly Father is also wanting to have that same kind of relationship with us. The only thing is we need to do is accept that relationship with Him. We need to choose to walk in that relationship and to spend time growing in that relationship daily. You have the opportunity to become a daughter of the Living God. If you are have already accepted Jesus as your Savior ask yourself “Do I look like my Dad?”, are you looking more like Jesus daily? If you don’t see that you are growing in your relationship with Him now is the time to recommit yourself to Him and start the process of becoming more and more like Him.  

(Rev. 3:20)“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”