I Am the Adopted Kid!

How should I respond to my four-year-old son when he begins telling others that he is the adopted kid? That’s where we are in the Camp household. It’s not a bad thing. Not at all. I only wonder how much he understands at the age of four.

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For those who don’t know our adoption story, here is a quick recap.

Danielle and I became licensed foster parents January 2011. We turned down several placements over the next few months for various reasons. Then on an extremely hot day in June I took a call from our child placing agency about an eight-month-old boy. My mind raced with thoughts ranging from, “He is so young” to “We have turned down every call. Other than his age, I have no reason not to take this placement.”

Even though we were more ready for a child between 4-8 years old, we decided to accept placement of this precious baby. I did so with the understanding that he probably would be with us for only a few weeks, because he had several other family members in the area.

Well, a little over two years ago we adopted the little guy! If you want to read more about that amazing journey along with what we learned about foster care, check out Adopting the Father’s Heart.

Needless to say, since our son was only eight-months-old when he was placed with us, he only remembers us as mommy and daddy.

Even though Danielle and I know we are his parents, if not biologically, definitely in every other way, I still want him to know his full history. I don’t want him to find out in his late teens or even later in life that he was adopted. Talk about trust issues!

I wrote about that in this blog—When Should an Adopted Child Know? You can also find some great feedback there about the subject.

So, we have always talked freely about adoption in front of him. I even began to weave an age appropriate story for him that I began to tell him about a year ago. Yes, that caused some sleepless nights and tons of questions as his young mind processed this information.

But, that’s the point. It has allowed him the opportunity to process.

That brings us to a few weeks ago when Danielle recorded a video of our son thanking a relative for a birthday gift. With a big smile on his face he proudly stated —”Thank you from the adopted kids!”

What did he just say!? Does he understand what he is saying?

A few days later while bathing, my son used the same term again. “I am an adopted kid!” Ok, I thought to myself, I am going to find out how much he understands.

For the record, our son is an incredibly verbal boy. He uses mulit-syllable words all the time that I don’t hear most four-year-olds saying. And, he usually knows what they mean. If he doesn’t, he asks.

“Son, what does it mean that you are an adopted kid?”, I asked him. Without hesitation he replied, “Well dad, my first family weren’t able to take care of me, so they gave me to you and mommy.”

I sat there a little dumbfounded. “Is that a good thing?”, I asked. “Yes! It’s great!”

Now I don’t know if he will always feel that way as he understands more and asks more questions or decides he doesn’t like us for a day or two. But at least at this point in his life, he understands that he came from another family who couldn’t take good care of him. And, now he is with us. And, he really thinks that’s great.

Now we still get questions like, “Can I be in your family forever?” or “Will you always be my daddy?”

Even those questions usually cause a lump in my throat, I am thankful that we are on this journey together helping him make sense of his past, present, and future.

Please share your experience or questions about helping an adopted child make sense of who he is.

Holy Discontent

I published this blog in June 2014. This family had made many decisions that were leading them to one day move to the foreign mission field. I am publishing this again because the day has arrived for them to board the plane. In two short days, they will be on their way. Read or reread their wonderful story, and consider becoming a part of their support team. Here is a recent update from the family: “Our team leaders have set very clear expectations and patiently answered our many questions but we still feel as though we have no idea what God will do when we arrive.  We are often asked if we are ready.  The closest comparison we can think of is asking that same question to someone about to get married or have a child.  We have done lots of careful and intentional preparation, but there is no replacement for actually doing it.”

Our paths crossed with Joel and Leah about four years ago. They led the typical suburban life most young couples lead. Leah was pregnant with twins and was a stay-at-home mom with another preschooler. Joel had a good career with opportunities to move up. They owned a nice house, had great friends. So why did they feel the discontent?

Joel, Leah and family

Leah shared with me that even though they had what most young couples wanted, she ended up trying to control everything to get the desired outcome. It just didn’t satisfy.

Joel began to feel the same about his pursuit of a successful career. He liked his job, but something inside wouldn’t allow him contentment.

They both describe a discontent with what the typical “successful” life offered. Joel calls it a “holy discontent.” He felt God stirring in his heart but didn’t know where God was leading him.

Could it be that God causes emptiness from our pursuit of the things of this world? Yep, I think so. I have often felt this “holy discontent”.

What does a person and a family do when faced with this discontent?

What Does Foster Care Mean?

When I interviewed Andre for the blog One’s Life Reflects the Heart, what got the ball rolling for Andre to be adopted was his future brother asking his mother that question—What does foster care mean? I am sure that he is not the only one that doesn’t have a clear understanding of what it means.

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So how do you answer this question when someone asks this question? Especially if it is a child asking it?

Here is a list of common questions with some great responses. You can find this original blog in its entirety on Kids Matter, Inc. Who knows you might even learn something new about foster care!

Is foster care a place, like day care? A child in foster care lives with a family, in a home, just like other children. The only difference is that a child in foster care is not living with his or her parents because it is not safe.

What happens to parents when kids go into foster care? Do the kids get to see their parents? If it is safe, and if a child’s parents are available, a child will get to visit his or her parents. Often the visits are supervised just to make sure that the kids are safe. As time goes on, a child may get to visit for longer periods of time with his or her parents, and may get to go back home for good.

Who picks up a kid in foster care from school? What does a kid in foster care do on the weekends? Kids in foster care are just like other kids, but they do not live with their biological parents. Their foster parents do just about everything that a parent would do, like picking up the child from school, taking the child to a sports practice or an extracurricular activity, and spending time with the child on the weekends. The foster family’s home is the child’s home, too, so the child sleeps there and spends the weekends there–just like other kids do at their homes.

What does a kid in foster care do for the holidays? A kid in foster care may celebrate the holidays with family members if possible, but he or she may also celebrate the holidays with his or her foster family. Foster families, like other families, will include their foster children in their family activities. If a kid in foster care is used to celebrating the holidays differently, or even celebrating different holidays than his or her foster family, the foster family can work with the child to honor those traditions. A kid in foster care has a new foster family, but that does not mean that his or her past interests and traditions no longer matter.

Does a kid in foster care ever get to go back home to get his or her things? This depends on the safety of the situation. If a child is very unsafe at home and must be removed, the move will probably happen very quickly, and the child will not be able to take much, if anything, from home. This is why children sometimes enter foster care with only the clothes on their backs. If the home is safe enough, it may be determined that a child can gather more of his or her things.  Maybe someone else can even bring some of the child’s personal belongings to him or her after the child has entered foster care. The most important thing is safety, and sometimes that means that a child’s things get left behind.

What happens when kids in foster care turn 18? What do they do? If kids are in foster care until age 18, they “age out” of foster care. This means that they were not “reunified” with their parents, and they were not legally adopted. Maybe a foster family will still stay in contact with them and help them find a place to live, work, or go on to college. Maybe a mentor or friend will help them learn to live independently. Sometimes, kids who age out of foster care will find their parents, from whom they were separated, and live with them again. There are many, many options and paths that kids may take. Before kids turn 18 and age out of foster care, they have access to many resources and tools to help them prepare for living on their own.

 What did you learn about foster care? What can you add to this list?

5 Reasons to Build Margin into Your Life Now!

One thing that we all have in common is the amount of time in each day. 24 hours. That’s it. A common small talk conversation I have with others is about how little time we have or wondering where all the time has gone. Really, it’s not that we have run out of time or that some days we have less time than other days. We talk about that as if we control it.

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But we don’t. 24 hours in each day. That’s what we got yesterday. It’s what we get today. It’s what we will get tomorrow.

What is different are the ways we fill those 24 hours. Think about your typical day or 24 hours.

Considering Foster Care or Adoption?

If you are anywhere near Austin, Texas, you should consider attending this conference—A Future and A Hope. You will find answers, inspiration, and encouragement whether you are in the beginning stages, want to help families who do foster and adopt, or are in the midst of fostering or have adopted.

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This year the guest speaker is Dr. Karyn Purvis and her team from the Institute of Child Development at TCU. If you are not familiar with Dr. Purvis and her research, I recommend getting her book, The Connected Child: Bring hope and healing to your adoptive family.

Dr. Purvis draws from years of clinical and personal experience recommending an approach to working or parenting children “from a hard place” by empowering, connecting, and correcting.

The Minimalist Guide to a Missional Lifestyle

When I wrote this blog about two years ago, I was trying to adjust to having a two-year-old and all the stuff that comes with one. Now that he is four, he knows how to play the “poor pitiful me” game in an attempt to get one more toy or gadget or whatever else he thinks he needs. Ugh! All the stuff is taking over!

By: Scott Meyers

Sad to say, I haven’t cleaned out much these past two years. So, as I begin 2015, I reread this blog for my own good. I hope you can benefit from it too! Just keep in mind I originally wrote this in March 2013. Enjoy…

I think it is interesting how storage units are everywhere filled with possessions that we can’t fit in our houses anymore. Weren’t these storage units originally meant to be temporary places to keep things?

A few years ago my wife and I committed to live our life at a minimum — a minimalist approach. We aggressively paid off all our debt, including our mortgage. We avoided accumulating things that we did not need. We began looking at possessions not really belonging to us. Instead, we saw ourselves as stewards of the things we had.

Taking Time to Reflect

Now reflection is a very different function from thinking. Thinking is an activity of the mind; reflection is its passivity. Modern man is inclined to regard this as a waste of time, and so he carries his everlasting hustle and business into his interior life until there is such a conflict there that he cannot — and sometimes complains because he cannot — call his soul his own. The Book of Uncommon Prayer by Frank W. Moyle

Haunting words for me. Like most of us, I guess, I tend to begin the new year thinking about all the things I want to accomplish or do different. I do that even if I don’t make resolutions, which I usually don’t, or don’t set goals, which I nearly always do.

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Do we move on from the previous year too soon? How well do we take time to reflect? Is there any profit from looking at the accomplishments and failures of the past year?

Four Times When God Clearly Spoke

Not everyone agrees on how God speaks today. Some say He only speaks through the Bible. For others He speaks in any way imagined. But what about when God does speak—and clearly, without question?

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Regardless of how He speaks to us, the question is what do we do about it when He does speak? I find in my life and others that we fret too much over the how and don’t pay enough attention to when.

I can point to four distinct times in my life when God clearly spoke to me.

Thank You! And My 10 Most Popular Posts in 2014

I want to take a moment and say Thank You! 2014 was my second full year of blogging, and I have enjoyed your dialogue, comments, and feedback.

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Many of you have subscribed to get my blogs delivered to you each week via email. For that I really say a big thank you! I am not sure why exactly you joined. Maybe because you are a foster or adoptive parent; or you appreciate the challenge to live a “life sent”; or maybe you’re not sure. Whatever the reason, I appreciate your trust.

It Shouldn’t Be Hard to Say, “Jesus Loves Me”

When our son was a baby, I sang “Jesus Loves Me” to him as I rocked him to sleep. Then as he got older and learned to talk, Danielle and I would sing Jesus Loves Me with him before he got in bed.

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This song, like for so many other children, was the first song he heard and learned that told him of God’s love for him.

Chris Tomlin recently released a new song with the same title. You can watch the video below. Tomlin talks about how as we get older we feel less comfortable saying, “Jesus Loves Me.” Why is that?

Do we become too independent? Or even if we profess to follow Jesus, is it a sign of weakness or something, I don’t know, to say Jesus loves me.

May we during this Christmas season experience the simple, intimate love from Jesus. Yes, Jesus Loves Me, This I Know…