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You are a miracle too… {hold the phone–cause we’ve had a break through}

I haven’t been able to blog the last couple of days–because honestly I haven’t known what to say or how much of any of our last 2 days I would want to document. They have been very stressful, and some of the more difficult days of my 8 years of parenting. And parenting a teenager from a different country who has never had boundaries or parents…looks much different than any of the crazy I ever gave my parents back in the day. (Daddy–please don’t remind me that this might be close;).

Saturday started our hard–and Sunday was the hardest. During our day on Saturday, we had the opportunity to spend the day with a lot of Russian speaking friends. Every friend our sweet girl shared one-on-one with who spoke Russian got different information from our chatter box who likes to share A LOT with others who speak Russian. And much of it…wasn’t exactly what we expected or wanted to hear. We learned some pretty hard things. Things that surprised us. Things that would actually make her ineligible to even be here…like she was older than she really was–that she really wasn’t an orphan–that she just came in an extra spot–that she lived in a trade school and this was really vacation for her. There was a lot more–and we had to call and share these with the organization. That was Saturday.

At church on Sunday, our sweet girl had a melt down. She didn’t want to smile at all–and she politely rolled her eyes at all my friends (if you can do that politely that is;). She shared that she didn’t want to be here any more and she really wasn’t having so much fun. She wanted to do more fun things every day. We weren’t what she wanted. She needed Russian friends who understood her. And that last request we were able to pull off–because we needed it too…and we were able to send her off for the day with precious friends who have a daughter that speaks Russian. God provided. It was perfect! Good for her and good for us. AND she returned from the day with a Christy Nockels cd which she LOVES. (Very thankful).

I was sitting in our home–really frustrated. Frustrated that we signed up to host a child from an orphanage and we had a child that had a family who thought she was on vacation. A little one who has been shouting orders at me. Fussing at my children. Making lots of demands. Wearing this momma plum out. Standing at the door when I go potty (I say her name when I’m using the potty to see if she is right there and I get a “DA!” right back every time. 5 inches away from me when I brush my teeth. “AN-DRA-AH! JUICE!” “AN-DRA-AH!!! HMMMMMM!” Hmmm—for her means–come watch my charade right now—I need something. I had a babysitter come today from 9am to 4pm and told her to only focus on my 4 littles so I could give our sweet girl 100% of me to keep the Sunday crazy from happening again today.

With our sitter here, I was able to take her to get a MP3 player–download all the songs she wanted. I found all 30 song lyrics online. Printed them off. 3 hold punched them. Put them in a binder. Drove across town to meet a precious friend who had some clothes just for T. Got her ice cream–before lunch:) Made her lunch. “AN-DRA-AH! JUICE! AN-DRA-AH!!! HMMM!!!!” I asked her if she’d like to learn to make cookies with me and Laney?? “NO!” Okay:). And while we made cookies she chopped up Roman noodles sending them flying all over the kitchen…then tomatoes flying every where…but since she told us she was a chef in culinary school–I let her go at it…but really…as I watched I could tell…she probably wasn’t in culinary school. Watching her told me…this sweet girl was really an orphan. And there were many things she dreamed about…and I had to wonder…what was really true.

Richard came home and the kitchen was a mess. I told him our chef hadn’t had time to clean up, but could he deliver the next juice;)? Needless to say, the last couple of days have been really hard. And then it was confirmed. Our sweet girl really is how old we thought she was. She really is 15. (BUT–what teenager doesn’t want to be 16 or 17? I know I fibbed about that one!) And everything else said–really…were things she wishes WERE true. There were LOTS OF THINGS told that were made up–things that had us shaking our heads and even wondering what we got ourselves into. I love her too much to write them–just trust me…you’d be shaking your head too. And this–this is just what orphans do. They hope. They dream. They want to believe it so, SO, SOOOO badly…that some times they say it…and just for a moment they get to pretend. She wasn’t trying to be naughty. She wasn’t trying to hurt us or hurt the program. She was just trying to be normal. To fit in. To get to pretend for a day her life was something else. I get that.

Unfortunately, her getting in trouble for not being honest with her translator didn’t give us any brownie points as she knew we had asked questions and shared our confusion with people over her. But now…now I knew–that our sweet girl really and truly just needed what she didn’t know she needed…and I wasn’t going to stop giving it to her.

In the middle of all of this–this morning I walked up to her room and put my ear to her door and heard her singing. We got in the car and I asked her if she wanted to bring her cd. I turned up the music on our outing this morning–REALLY loud–rolled down the windows–and we jammed out singing Christy Nockels together. As I listened to her sing–knowing she doesn’t understand a WORD of English–I prayed. Lord–as she memorizes these lyrics–I pray that THIS summer she will also begin to understand what these words MEAN in her heart. I had my sunglasses on…so she couldn’t see me wiping away my tears as I hoped and prayed this. The Lord encouraged my heart–and then I came home for the “AN-DRA-AH!!!!” And something inside of me started to change.

I realize today how much I stink. I see HARD situations and I want someone ELSE to do them. I hear about really hard things…and I say that is NOT for me–I have my 4 babies to love on…maybe ONE day I will do that–but it wouldn’t be fair to them…not now…someone else can do that now. This time though–I can’t and I won’t run from the hard…because I said yes to whatever the summer brings–and I am going to love through it. As hard as the last couple of days have been–over and over I have felt the presence of the Holy Spirit–it has not been me–but Him giving me guidance and strength. Trust me, I have failed. But the Lord has nudged me to not give up. And I’m falling in love with this sweet girl.

She cooks and leaves noodles all over the carpet…dirty dishes at the table…and never puts things in the dishwasher. She braids Laney’s hair and gets it so knotted up that I’m afraid I’ll have to shave it off. She shouts at the kids and tells them “NO!” She shouts my name making demands 24-7. I can’t go to the toilet in privacy…which isn’t that new–but quite new to have a 15 year old outside my door. And really–the Lord is asking me to see what HE sees. To see beyond that. To see a girl who is getting to play in the kitchen for the first time with a momma. Who is getting to play with a little sister’s hair…with unlimited hair bands and bows. Who wants to win a momma’s approval by keeping the other kids in line. Who is still much like a little girl…wanting to stand outside a momma’s door waiting to be with her again…who just wants to be near.

These last few days have NOT been easy. But I can tell you that Jesus loves the orphan because this is NOT me loving right now. This is not easy and it is not natural–but it is pretty amazing. And I sense the Lord all over it.

She was ignoring me this evening…and I knew she needed more of me. I let her have some space. Then she came to ask if she could paint Laney’s nails. HUGE STEP. We’ve had some boundaries crossed–and she and Laney have to ask me before they do things. She sought me out and asked if she could paint Loo’s nails. Absolutely. Thank you so much for asking! I went out to join them and watch. And then…sweet girl let the chatter box begin. She got out google translate and had some personal questions for me. And finally–a wall came down.

And in google translate–she asked me how I got my children. How I carried Isaac.

Ahhhh…totally understand. She wondered if I was faithful to Richard. I asked her if she meant did I carry Isaac in my belly? She thought I had been unfaithful with a black man. And she finally got brave enough to ask!

THIS is one hard thing about New Horizons rule to NEVER say the adoption word. They do not want the kids to get their hopes up and think families are going to adopt them or find families to adopt them as this is just a hosting program. Many orphanage must shut down in the summer and the kids don’t have any where to go so programs like New Horizons find host families for them during these times which not only keep them safe but also allow the kids to experience family and the love of Christ. Soooo…NO using the word adoption. I knew this one was going to be tricky. And some how I knew I needed to remind her in this answer–how much I loved her.

My google translate went like this:

Parker was born 1 year after Richard and I got married. He was my first miracle. Laney was born just 1 year after Parker and she was another miracle. We tried for Frank for a long time because I wanted more children very badly. In that time the Lord showed us there were other ways to have a family and we started praying about bringing home a child that needed a family. While we were praying I found out I would have another baby in my belly–that was Frank. Another miracle! After Frank was born–we knew God had another child for us. This child would not come from my belly. We found out about a little boy in Africa that was very sick that needed a family and that was Isaac. I went across the world and brought him home when he was 1 year old. We went to the hospital a lot until he was better. He is my 4th miracle. All my children I love unconditionally. There is nothing they can do to make me stop loving them. They are all miracles. I want to tell you now about another miracle. Her name is Tetyana and God brought her to spend the summer with us. There is nothing she can do to make me stop loving her. Just like my other 4 miracles–they can be naughty–and I still love them. Tetyana can pout. Tetyana can have a tantrum and pitch a fit. Tetyana can be mean and naughty. But I still love her. There is nothing she can ever do that will make me stop loving her. She is a miracle–and I love her.

She jumped up and arms went around my neck. “THANK YOU! THANK YOU!”

I told her how Frank was being naughty and I needed to go put my naughty boy night night. She laughed and told me to go–she was okay to wait and stay right there without me. I left and put the children down. I came back and we filled up a bowl full of cherries and sat on the back porch eating them together…not saying a word. No words were needed. A break through had happened. She knew she was loved unconditionally by us. And tomorrow…when the fit or pout happens…I will love her any way.

I had no idea what parenting a 15 year old was like. Adding the language barrier and 15 years of being your own parent to that…and you have a couple of really hard days while we try to understand one another. We’ve had one break through–and that doesn’t mean tomorrow or the next day will be easy at all. But for once in my life I’m so thankful I didn’t see THIS hard situation and wish someone ELSE was doing it. It is hard for me. Hard for Richard. Hard for the kids. And you know what–it’s hard for our T. And some how–we are going to get through all of it. Singing Christy Nockels…just like today. Me and my girl…the windows down…music up loud…(imagine us singing this today if you can…knowing she don’t understand yet…but Lord willing…maybe she will…)

Already All I Need

Asking where You are, Lord. Wondering where You’ve been. Is like standing in a hurricane, trying to find the wind. And hoping for Your mercy to meet me where I am. Is forgetting that Your thoughts for me, outnumber the sand. You filled the sun with morning light. You bid the moon to lead the night. You clothe the lilies bright and beautiful. You’re already all I need. Already everything that I could hope for. You’re already all I need. You’ve already set me free. Already making me. More like You. You’re already all I need. Jesus, You’re already all I need. Walking through this life without Your freedom in my heart. Is like holding onto shackles that You have torn apart. So remind me of Your promises. And all that You have done. In this world I will have trouble. But You have overcome. And every gift that I receive. You determine just for me. But nothing I desire compares with You. In Your fullness. You’re my all in all. In Your healing. I’m forever made whole. In Your freedom. Your love overflows. And carries me. You carry me.

Elle J - July 3, 2012 - 12:40 am

Beautiful, Andrea!! Simply beautiful. May you find rest every night to start your new tomorrows. Praying for all of you for the most enriched and blessed summer thus far.

Amy Baggott - July 3, 2012 - 12:44 am

I so enjoyed reading this post! We met at a dinner at Karen Lim’s house a year or so ago and you met my 2 Ukrainian miracles. They were younger than T when we adopted them, about 7 and 8, but wow! did we have some doozy days. The stories I could tell… I can now laugh at those stories, but at the time my husband and I were NOT laughing. As you described, they had NO boundaries and I mean NONE and did not speak one lick of English. But, they didn’t have the teenage angst going on, so I can only imagine how that adds to the difficulty! Anyway, I just wanted to comment and say that T landed in a wonderful home that will undoubtedly shape who she will become. You are her miracle! You are in my prayers as you walk through the next few weeks with her. Truly.

Sandi - July 3, 2012 - 2:35 am

Praying for protection for your little ones & T. T may be grieving as she sees the love that you shower on your children stirring up jealousy. Her reality may be rife with abuse & neglect so it is easier for her to create her own fairy tale. Her need to be close to you solidifies that she is feeling fearful & insecure. Praying for discernment so that you will be alert during her interactions with your little ones & yet be able to minister to her heart. Praying that God will give you a clear picture of how to fill her heart with the love that she may reject but so desperately needs. Take heart & stay strong!

Allison B. - July 3, 2012 - 7:37 am

Just read this. So precious. Just wanted to encourage you to keep pressing on in the strength of the Lord. Love this Christy Nockles song. Hope it “revives” you for a new day!

Megan - July 3, 2012 - 8:17 am

Wonderful post! She is pushing boundaries, isn’t she? Wondering how she fits into all of this? You are doing a fantastic job showing her Christ’s unconditional love.

Traci - July 3, 2012 - 10:58 am

So many of us who have adopted “older” children can relate to your thoughts and emotions here. In all honesty, there were times that I wanted to RUN from the extremely difficult road I was on – that feeling is actually pretty common in all of us. But, when we persevere…with God holding us up…we grow into maturity. So many times God uses experiences to grow and love and shape many of us…He is pouring love into T, He is teaching your children what unconditional love looks like as they watch you, and He is growing you to look more like Him. So often, we as adodpted children, shout orders at God, pout, tell lies…and He patiently waits for us to crawl into His lap for a hug and a word of love. We are all like T…and He is using this experience to teach many of us.

Jessica - July 3, 2012 - 1:18 pm

Thanks for so honestly sharing. We’ve adopted 3 children in the past 2 years. Our oldest child age 10 has been home for just a year and I can so relate to the walls you speak of. Our first days home were certainly a challenge emotionally–but oh the beauty of the break throughs. One year home and what a difference! One day at a time–keep giving love and keep praying. All things are possible for Him!

Jennifer - July 3, 2012 - 2:20 pm

Can I just say I.GET.THIS! I won’t go into detail but we experienced some of the very same things with our son from Congo. He WISHED so badly that some things were true that it took him a VERY long time to ‘come clean’ about his reality.

Loving someone from a very hard place is difficult to say the least. Keep on keepin’ on!!!


KC - July 3, 2012 - 3:32 pm

I have been following your blog (because of god but found through pinterest) for some time but have never commented. I just want to thank you for sharing so openly and allowing me to be a part of what God is doing. I excitedly check for a new post every day! A few years ago, as a 28 year old single God called me to foster a 17 year old girl. I may not understand the language barrier but much of what you recount, I also experienced. The days are long and can be hard but God is so good. He works all things together for good. Just as I continue to love and pray for my “A” that she would understand and accept the love of our God, I pray the same for your T. Your family is a beautiful picture of God and you touch more lives than you could ever know. Continue to stand firm in Christ Jesus. God gave me a verse this morning and it was meant for you. Isaiah 42:16…good in every version, but most powerful in The Message!

Stacey - July 3, 2012 - 4:18 pm

She’s lucky to have been chosen by such a loving family. Willing to sacrifice and DO the hard with her! I’ve noticed some of our other host kiddos have not been so lucky! Keep on keeping on Andrea! You and Richard are probably the only ones in her life that haven’t given up on her! You’re making a huge impact on her life!!

Dianne - July 3, 2012 - 5:25 pm

You inspire me. I have a daughter who was adopted at age 8. She is now 16. She has her struggles as a 16 year old, but also has adoption issues. I often cry out to GOD and tell HIM I don’t know what to do, I don’t know how to best parent her, how do I take her pain away. And the answer is to just love her, tell her a million times a day how much she is loved and cherished~~even when she is being a pain and testing every ounce of patience I have. She still often lies in an effort to make the ideal life. She told one of her friends that my oldest was adopted (not true) and that she was my bio daughter.

Keep loving on all of your children. It is the only way.