by Colleen Briggs | colleenbriggs.com
Imagine for just a moment: you are a newly widowed mother with nowhere to go. No income, no family support, no government social services. You re-locate to uninhabited land, build a mut hut, and eke out subsistence. Amidst the grief and hardship, your three children are your joy and hope. But you must make the heartbreaking decision to pull your oldest son out of school. Although he’s unusually bright and has only completed seventh grade, you simply can’t afford the fees.
Then one day a strange man shows up on the untamed land. A pastor, he invites your family to church in an open-air building of corrugated metal sheets propped up on a concrete slab. He does more than preach, though. He starts coordinating construction of greenhouses, teaches residents of your “squatter” community how to raise tomatoes and other crops, and eventually trains and empowers your oldest son to supervise other workers on the farm. Your family benefits from the food that grows on the developing land, but money remains sparse. Miraculous provision arrives in the form of a high school scholarship for your second-born, a daughter. But worry lines crease your face. When schools open again after Covid lockdowns, your youngest son, age twelve, remains at home.
Unbeknownst to you, somewhere far away, someone donates an unexpected gift. Wheels grind into motion, beginning with the realization that the funding will allow for the addition of eight more kids to a Zimbabwe relative-based orphan care program, and culminating in the appearance at your door of the church’s evangelist. She invites you to a program that will pay your youngest son’s school fees and surround your family with encouragement and training.
But the miracles aren’t over yet.
A group visits, including your pastor and several strangers. You welcome them to chairs under a tree, proud to introduce your youngest son and your daughter. Recently, she aced her high school completion exams. Her scores qualify her for top university placement! Face shining, she tells the visitors of her aspirations to study law.
Your heart sinks. The organization that funded her high school studies does not pay for university. Although your oldest son works on the farm now and the community wants to support your daughter, you know the resources available won’t be enough. You’ve heard stories of impoverished women who give in to “sugar daddies” to afford university. Somehow, God must make a way!
What you don’t know yet is that He already has. As it turns out, another donation has been received for Zimbabwe’s relative-based orphan care program to fund another student’s university studies, and the donation is more than needed. After the visitors leave, Zimbabwe staff and the visitors decide to designate the overage for your daughter’s first year of university. Their excitement overflows. Not only will a deserving young woman progress in her education, but she will write a new narrative of possibility for all the little girls in the squatter community.
Also unknown to you is the sacred wonder unfolding in the hearts of the visitors. Somehow, they stumbled into a moment perfectly choreographed from the beginning of time by a God Who has always seen you, who sees you now.
Who sees and loves us all.
Testimonies from a birth mother and an adoptive father
Ron: Last summer we entered the adoption process with Hope’s Promise again after adopting our daughter in 2007. In the fall, we attended a fundraiser banquet for the Alpha Center, a Christian crisis pregnancy center in Fort Collins. Right there at our table, I prayed that our next child would be a boy who would come to us through the Alpha Center. I leaned over and told Barb. She smiled, and we both thought how wonderful it would be if it were true.
Julie: I found out I was pregnant in October and began working with Hope’s Promise when I realized that adoption could give my baby the best possible life. In January, Barb, Ron’s wife, began working with my mother at a school in town. When she heard our story, Barb offered to meet with me to tell me about their experience in open adoption and to answer any questions I had.
Ron: We met Julie, then 3 months pregnant, for dinner to share with her our experience with open adoption and simply to be a resource for her. She mentioned that night that she found Hope’s Promise through the Alpha Center, and we wondered whether this might be the answer to our prayers. Since it was so early in her pregnancy, though, we assumed nothing and continued to pray for her and her family.
Julie: Leaving that meeting, I felt a great amount of peace about the decision I was making. As I got know Ron and Barb better, it became more and more clear to me that this was the family God had ultimately chosen for my baby.
Ron: We learned a few months later that her baby was a boy. In April, Hope’s Promise called to tell us that Julie wanted to talk to us about parenting her baby. I got the call at work and immediately called Barb at school. She ran down the hall and hugged Julie’s mom. Our caseworker told us that Julie had decided after meeting us that she wanted us to be the baby’s parents, and wisely waited for the appropriate time to tell us. Nathan was born in June, and we had the privilege of being at the hospital and meeting him about an hour after he was born. We enjoy a wonderful relationship with Julie and her family.
Julie: I am so grateful for the wonderful family that Nathan has, and I am excited to be involved with him as he grows up.
Ron: All of us continue to be amazed how God cared enough about all of us, and especially Julie and Nathan, to arrange the circumstances of our lives to come together the way he did. It showed all of us that God is much bigger than any of the individual people involved in Nathan’s adoption, and we are honored to be part of it.
However motherhood comes to you, it is a blessing. But what if motherhood doesn’t look like you thought it would. You may struggle with infertility, or maybe you are a foster mom. You might be a mother who has suffered the loss of a child. Maybe you are a birth mom or an adoptive mom. Maybe you chose not to have children. Maybe you suffered the loss of your own mom. Mother’s Day can be a celebration for some and a struggle for others. But there is hope and unity in our struggle. In this guest blog, the author discusses the idea of spiritual motherhood. Being a mom takes on a plethora of different meanings, so let’s celebrate them all.
Read more here:
Maya Angelou: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better”
Many adoptive families choose to celebrate and recognize the day their child’s adoption was finalized or the day they became legally a family. It is an important milestone in the journey for the family and the adoptee. However, at Hope’s Promise, we have been discussing new ways to mark this occasion appropriately, sensitively, and without the much-used old terminology of “Gotcha Day.”
We are always striving toward accurate and neutral adoption language as well as continuing to listen to adoptees’ experiences of adoption. Through listening and learning, we are finding that the term “gotcha” is not accurate or neutral. For the adoptee, the day they joined their new family also is a day that they forever left their birth family’s care and/or homeland. As with many things for adoptees, there is both/and – both joy and grief.
We have come to wonder if “gotcha” seems to either gloss over the loss of birth family or gloat over the joy of the adoptive parents. Some adoptees feel that this language sounds a bit like abduction or not being sensitive to the power structure of adoption. Adoptees have no power over any of the decisions that so dramatically changed their lives. In terms of relinquishment, we choose not to use the terms “give up” or “keep” because it objectifies the adopted person. In the same way, “gotcha” can objectify the adoptee.
Does this mean families cannot celebrate the day they became a family? By no means! But we would suggest using the term Adoption Day or Family Day, which is more accurate and neutral than the language “Gotcha Day.”
Want to learn more? Here are some articles from multiple perspectives we encourage you to read about this issue that helped inform our thoughts:
As Hope’s Promise begins to certify foster families, we also have a great need for families willing to be certified as respite providers. We desire for Hope’s Promise to stand out as having outstanding support of our families and a record-breaking retention rate! It’s been said that about two-thirds of foster parents quit fostering within one to two years because of the hardships they face. We want to see that number be much less at Hope’s Promise! To do so, we know we need to go above and beyond in the support we have for families, and respite care is one of the most important!
Much like grandparents and family members often provide help and time away for parents to have time to breathe, respite providers offer foster parents and youth in foster care a break from their daily lives and a chance to get away and recharge. Sometimes it is a needed break to reset and care for their mental health, and sometimes it is for an already planned trip or vacation which the foster child cannot also take part in for a multitude of reasons. Many foster parents state is the number one thing that helps them maintain longevity in their calling as foster parents – it is that important!
Respite providers receive the same training and certification as foster parents and are often in high demand as there are many more foster parents than there are respite providers! Many respite families also get the opportunity to provide other supports for that youth and family as they build a relationship and become part of the foster family’s community long-term.
If you are interested in exploring what it would mean to be a respite family, please consider attending our free monthly virtual informational meetings – you can sign up here: https://www.hopespromise.com/events/ or email Tami Davidson at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an individual time to meet with her and learn more.