Look Alikes

When God called us to adopt, we had one week to prepare our home for a new little baby.  We didn’t know much about the birth mom, her care for her unborn baby or any of her medical history.  As we sat at the table with our other eight children, we asked them and ourselves many questions.  Are we willing to accept this baby, boy or girl?  Easy answer, “yes!”  Are we willing to accept this baby, deformations or disabilities?  Slower answer, “yes.”

With our first call, we began anticipating this new addition to our family.  It took a few days to process all the new responsibilities he would add and with that answer, our family has not looked back.

It is so amazing to see Ryland now.  Whenever we are out, we are often asked if he and Rhesa, his older very petite sister, are twins.  It is strange to see how he acts, talks, and smiles just like her.  From the first day at the hospital, Rhesa asked his birth mom, “Is this our new baby?”  Since then, she has dressed him, protected him, taught him to walk and talk, and to make very messy foods when they pretend cook.  They are inseparable.

When you look at some families, you immediately know that certain children are adopted.  Seeing Ryland, on the other hand, you would never know.  We are the same ethnicity, the same color tone, the same eye shade, the same hair texture; he looks just like I delivered him.

I know many families choose how they will tell their children they are adopted.  We have chosen to keep it ever before our children making sure they understand that we have all been adopted by God.  So the poignant question to me, am I looking like my adoptive family?

When I am at the store, are people able to see that I look like I am God’s adopted child?  Do I walk like Him, going places where He leads me?  Do I talk like Him?  Is it obvious in my speech that I belong to the family of God?  Do I look like Him?  Can the ones I come in contact with on any given day see that I spend a lot of time with my Heavenly Father?  Do I represent the family name?  As a Christian, am I a true representation of my Father’s name?

It melts my heart each time the phone rings and my little man runs to answer it.  “This is the McKelvy residence, Ryland speaking.”  Not one person on the other end of the phone would recognize that statement said from the voice of a three year old struggling to answer just as his older siblings and parents, but I understand every word.  As he mimics’ those he wants to look like, I want to mimic the One I want to look like.

The Power of Yes!

Three and a half years ago we received a phone call and eight days later I sat in a hospital room rocking my new seven pound three ounce son.

We had eight biological children then and had briefly considered adoption when we went through multiple miscarriages.  Up to that point adoption had never crossed our minds.

I see families where it is obvious that some of the children, as Sesame Street would say “are not like the others.”  I have wondered what makes a family adopt out of their race, culture or even adopt children with disabilities.   I have come to the conclusion by my own experience that God asked of them the same question He asked of me, “Do you have room in your heart to love like you’ve never experienced love before?”

I must admit, I have waited for God to ask me many questions, “Can you be responsible enough to be a good steward of a million dollars?” or “You’ve been so faithful driving that 13-year-old, 15-passenger van, could you drive this Mercedes around for a couple of years?”  The answer would not have taken me but half a second to yell, “YES!”

Adoption is nothing like you would expect.  First, it does cost you something.  MONEY.   Most adoptions are not cheap.  But through our adoption, we have seen God use His people and allowed them to give, sacrificially.  So, money was not an issue.  Second, your family structure will be forever discombobulated.  With our adoption, the addition of our son has proven positively life changing for all of us.  Third, extended family and friends may not understand.  Our adoption has opened the hearts of our family and friends to adoption.

I know everyone is not meant to adopt.  But everyone can help with adoption.  Without the gifts of family, friends, strangers and ministries (ShowHope contributed to our adoption) many children would still need homes.  As an adoptive family, I could not make it without the prayers and encouragement from so many people.  We now see adoption as critical and necessary.  Children need families and I had no idea how much my family needed this beautiful child. We laugh more, sacrifice more and hug a whole lot more.

Three and a half years ago, God changed my heart, opened my eyes and changed my legacy with one phone call. There was an unexpected voice with one question, on the other end of the phone.  My response and the overwhelming response of my husband and children has interrupted our family and made us a part of a new classification called, “forever families.”

It took a three letter word to change our family’s core for our lifetime.  We will never be the same.  A phone call, a question and a response – “y-e-s.”

Lessons Learned through Adoption

There are so many things I learned through my adoption journey that it seems almost too much to remember; yet, I want to remember it all.

My journey started with a small conversation with Amy. Her family was at my home for dinner, and we were washing dishes and talking. I remember telling her about a time during seminary, after three very difficult miscarriages, that we’d looked into adoption. Many, many months later, Amy called about a soon-to-be-born baby needing a home.  Ryland, my new son, was in my arms eight days later. Lesson 1: God is always at work.

I met Ryland’s birth mom the day after she selected our family to care for him. (She chose us from a few smiling pictures and a letter to her from me). Our meeting lasted about an hour and a half, and then we went home to prepare for our new baby. I didn’t get to see her again until we got the call that she had delivered and was waiting on us at the hospital. When we arrived, I was given an arm band by a nurse and I didn’t leave that room for four days.  Lesson 2: When God works, He is not just working on my behalf. He is working out good in many lives all at once.

There are a lot of things I just can’t do by myself. So many times I have had to depend on my family or friends to help me get things done, and I was in a position where I had to let them help me. This is what my birth mom was asking me to do for her. She needed me to help her raise this baby. During the times I needed help, I have been blessed to have my church or biological family help me. I never had to count on a stranger to help me (and I knew this was much harder for her to do than I could ever imagine). Lesson 3: I am not a lone ranger. I need others.

My birth mom was a very intelligent single mom of three. She was sure of one thing; she would raise this baby herself if she couldn’t find a godly helper. (But our God never leaves or forsakes us.) Lesson 4: God is trustworthy. He always provides.

When we were in the hospital, my family came daily and stayed until visiting hours were over. They laughed, fought over Ryland, and quarreled right in her hospital room. She was there; sometimes we thought she was asleep until she smiled with closed eyes at us “doing family life” right in front of her. “Ryland is really going to be loved,” were her words to me after the family had gone home for the night. Lesson 5: God cares.

My birth mom was given ten days to change her mind. Talking by email, she let me know the tenth day was so overwhelmingly difficult, but she had to trust that she was making the right choice for Ryland.

I want her to know that I am doing my best to make sure Ryland is a wonderful godly man. He is very musical and smart. He is great at every sport he tries (I can’t believe how good he is on the Wii). Mostly, I want my birth mom to know that I will stand before God on His gift to me, presented by her. And the greatest words I can hear on this godly task will be, “Well, done because, I, too, am a birth mom.” God has presented to me children to help raise for Him. He has chosen me to help Him in this task. I am truly humbled. Lesson 6: I am given a life to live. I must make the most of my time.