Saturday, August 25, 2012

Older Adoption and Christianity

One of the questions that I get a lot when folks hear about our adoption of older boys,
 
right after,
"Did they know any English when they came?"
 is...
 
"How do they feel about your faith?"
or
"Do they like church?"
 
So, now that we have hit our 1 year mark with Colin, adopted from Shenyang in August, 2011, I thought I would attempt to share a little of what that journey has been like for us.  I am well aware that our experience is not indicitive of what all older children will experience once adopted, but this is our story.  It is real, not sugar-coated. 
 

Sadly, many adoptive blogs lately have implied that if your adoption story does not include lots of pain and grieving, tantrums, rebellion and ugliness, that you must be cherry-picking what you share.  For certainly, everyone that adopts is on the front lines of a war.  I take issue with this. I take issue with the suggestion that people who share the joys and the victories of adoption are being dishonest.  Now, admittedly, there are things that we choose not to share.  Mostly, to protect the privacy and dignity of our children. 

 

Being in the ministry of adoption day in and day out, I know that all of those things that I listed above are real.  For some, they are very, very real.  But, thankfully, so are stories like ours.  Please don't think that I want to, in ANY way, trivialize the struggles that any parent faces- adoptive child or bio.  But, it is ok to celebrate the good.  Ok, to share the joys that we experience with these children.  So, tonight I want to share about our experiences in training our children, in particular, our newest children, in the ways of the Lord.

 
As I think about our first few months with Colin, it was clear that he had never heard about Jesus and was like a fish out of water when it came to things like praying.
 
In his case, he was too respectful to resist or say anything against our faith, but it was clear that he did not share our beliefs and thought this was all a little strange. 
 
I didn't really know how to handle that.  I completely understood that he had no background in Christianity and that he wasn't going to wake up in America and "get it", but I admit I still had a hard time with it.
 
Perhaps another surprise for me, being a first time adoptive parent was how much this weighed on my heart. Suddenly, I was burdened for the salvation of this child that I had only just met. I was constantly reminding myself that it is only by the grace of the Holy Spirit that someone's eyes are opened to the truth.   
 
To be honest, when you can barely communicate the most basic of instructions in those early months, clearly communicating the foundations of the Christian faith is tough.  We didn't really know where to start or how to do it.
 
So, we started with the Bible.  We knew the only way he was going to really understand was if he could read the scriptures.  Thankfully, he loves to read and so when some friends ordered a Bi-lingual Bible for him, we began to direct him to passages that could shed some light on what we believe.  He would read this during church, since he couldn't understand anything being said from the pulpit and while we weren't sure back then what was "sticking", it is clear now that he has learned a lot.
 
He was very quick to appreciate our time at church since he is such a social kid.  He loved hanging with the other middle school kids and seemed to make friends pretty easily.
 
As the months progressed, and his language began to open up, we started teaching him how to pray.  We started with prayers of thanks.  Colin is a very appreciative child, so we explained that we prayed in order to thank God for the blessings of the day.  Each night before Tommy's bedtime, we would take turns sharing what we were thankful for that day and praying together.
 
He quickly got used to this routine and little by little, he would pray a little more confidently, in more detail and for longer periods. 
 
Then, when Cameron came home, we continued this nightly tradition, along with prayers of thanks at mealtime.  We purchased a couple of Christian DVDs recorded in Mandarin and had the boys watch them.  They helped us lay a foundation for most of the common kids' Bible stories.
 
Cameron, being much younger, seemed to us to be more open to our faith.  He loved going to church and would ask more questions, to the degree his language skills would allow. 
 
Now, after a year home (Colin) and 8 months for Cameron, we have grown into a wonderful routine of nightly devotions where we have been reading through the Jesus Storybook Bible.  The younger boys love this time each night and it has given us a great tool to share how each story in the Bible speaks to the greater plan of Redemption.  Colin is starting to understand.  He is opening up and we are seeing signs that there is more there than just a desire to respect his parents.
 
Most recently, we have added scripture memory to our routine.  We started with Psalm 119:9 as it clearly describes the way young men are to live:
 
How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. Psalm 119:9
 
Once each of our boys memorized this verse, we gradually added to it with vs. 10 & 11. 
 
Here is a clip of Cameron reciting his verses.  We are very proud of each of our boys and delight in hearing them hiding the word of God in their hearts.
 
video
 
 
I asked some specific friends to commit to praying for Colin.  And they have faithfully partnered with us in praying for him and our other sons. Now, I would love to tell you that he has now made a public profession of faith and has given his life to the Lord.  But, he hasn't. Not yet. 
 
But, what I know, is that God is faithful.  I know that He loves my boys more than I am even capable and I know that He wrote their stories long ago.  I know that I am not the one who will save my children.  Tom and I will continue to share our faith and try, with God's help, to live out our faith before our children's eyes each day. 
 
I pray that one day, I will be able to celebrate that all my boys are living for the Lord and raising their own children in the faith.  Until that day comes, we are eternally grateful that God brought them into our family. 
 
 

5 comments:

Tammy said...

Beautiful...just beautiful....
Blessings
tammy
beavoice.me

kimjax said...

Beautiful post, Angie. Thanks for sharing.

donna said...

Thanks for sharing this, Angie. We haven't been home as long with our son and we are dealing with a little bit different personality, but I have been very curious about what others are doing. We have continued to live our faith and share it with our son and we are beginning to hear some things come back to us. That is such a hopeful thing, isn't it?!

donna said...

Thanks for sharing this, Angie. We haven't been home as long with our son and we are dealing with a little bit different personality, but I have been very curious about what others are doing. We have continued to live our faith and share it with our son and we are beginning to hear some things come back to us. That is such a hopeful thing, isn't it?!

donna said...

Thanks for sharing this, Angie. We haven't been home as long with our son and we are dealing with a little bit different personality, but I have been very curious about what others are doing. We have continued to live our faith and share it with our son and we are beginning to hear some things come back to us. That is such a hopeful thing, isn't it?!