I was reminded this morning that kids often see things we don’t.
David put Adler in bed with me this morning before he left for work, stating, “He’s not really awake.” He wasn’t awake but he was crying. I pulled back the covers and my little boy rolled over beside me and clung on for dear life. The crying stopped and we both got back to sleep. A half hour or so later, he slid out of bed and I could hear him walking around the first floor. Worried that he would wake up the others, I said a few times “Adler, Daddy left for work. Come back and snuggle Mommy more.” When he didn’t answer, I realized that even though the floors were cold and my bed was very cozy, I needed to get up.
I walked out of our room and into the kitchen and saw something I didn’t expect: Adler sitting completely still on a dining room chair, looking out the picture window into the yard. “Babe… hey. Are you ok?” His little lip quivered, “He bit me! He bit my finger!” Trying to clear my groggy head, I asked again and again I got the same answer. “Who? Who bit you?” He pointed out the window. Confused, I went to the window and looked out. There was our small back yard, the side of the garage I need to finishing painting someday, the wooden gate, the privacy fence, the big old maple tree and snowflakes lazily drifting down. “Where?” I didn’t see anything out there capable of biting a finger. He kept pointing. “Mommy, you hit him for me ok?” “Hit who, baby?” “The bad guy. Right there! Hit him!” Maybe he’s pretending, I thought. So I playfully smacked at the window. “Did I get him?” My silly grin was met with a raised eyebrow. “No, he’s right there!”
Then I felt slightly creeped out. “I don’t see him, Adler.” I picked him up. “Let’s get some books and you can read in bed with mommy.” He got a big armload of his favorite books and I lifted him up on the bed. We read a little and then I called David. I told him about it. “It was odd. I don’t know…” my voice trailed off. While I was talking, Cohen came into the room and overheard. He asked Adler if he had a bad dream. “No, I show you!” Adler got off the bed and followed Cohen. David and I were still talking when the boys came back. Cohen was laughing, “He looked around and said ‘he’s gone now’. He was pretending mom.” But Adler started to get mad and cried. “No, Cohen!” I felt that same odd, creepy sensation. We put daddy on speaker phone. Adler retold the story and David wisely said, “Adler I say no bad guys are allowed in our house or our yard, ok? Daddy says no bad guys are going to get you. Alright bud?” That satisfied Adler, who went on “reading” The Little Engine That Could, repeating almost word for word the story I’d read him last night.
I couldn’t see the bad guy but I am sure our little tow headed two year old saw something.
Kids often see things we don’t.
About a year ago I started to feel an urgency about adoption. I always knew I would adopt. It is in my DNA. David and I had talked about it since we got married, but it had never felt like a right now discussion. We had a miscarriage in April, but it was almost two months earlier (before we even knew we were pregnant) that this gut level sensation started twisting me in knots. When we found out were we pregnant, there was no thought of postponing an adoption. When we lost the pregnancy, there was no added push to adopt. The urgent feeling remained pressing all throughout the end of winter and into the spring. So in May we were able to start our home study and it was finished in record time: 5 weeks! (Most take several months). We connected with an adoption facilitator we knew was “the one” after years of casually talking with agencies that every time left us unimpressed. Things started rolling and fast.
In late June, I decided to reach out to a former client. We live in a small town. The newspaper doesn’t have to print names in stories because everyone knows everything anyway. I had been heartsick and one day the Lord very clearly told me to quit just being heartsick and do something about it. So I reached out, fully expecting to not hear back. I did hear back though, in less than 24 hours. What started out as a desire to make sure the family was connected with the right services quickly evolved into a connection with us. There was a need for childcare. The Lord told me to offer childcare and to not to ask for or accept any pay. In a few short months, God shifted my heart from a judgmental posture and gave me eyes to see. My heart broke. This time not in frustration over how messed up the world is, but because of the tenderness of Jesus to each of us regardless of the circumstances. I saw how little my heart had resembled that. The instant I saw what God saw and admitted it wasn’t what I had seen, the atmosphere changed.
I was driving in the van with the boys one afternoon and Cohen spoke up from the back of the vehicle. “Mom, let’s just adopt the girls.” My eyes met his in the rearview mirror. We were all trying not to fall in love with them. No one had said it out loud, but I had wondered to myself how we could move on with an adoption with other kids and not compare them to the three little girls who were already worming their way in our hearts. I felt guilty for even thinking it so I kept it to myself.
Kids also say things we adults don’t.
I gathered my thoughts and put on my big girl panties. “Cohen, the girls aren’t adoptable.” His face saddened and then he crossed his arms, “Well then, I don’t want to adopt anybody!” The sadness in his face had given way to a defiant tone. I took a deep breath. “I know. But God told us to adopt and we are going to do that. I don’t know who He is going to put in our family, but He does. It’ll be ok..” Then I went into a speech about how the girls would always be in our lives and we would help them and be friends with them etc etc. I came up for air a second after concluding with “We will just have to wait and see what God is doing.”
I heard a chuckle from the backseat where my 6 year old was sitting. I looked back into the mirror. He rolled his eyes like I was the silliest person in the world and exclaimed, “Mom it is pretty OBVIOUS what God is doing!”
I don’t remember what I said, but I would be willing to bet it was something aimed at letting him down softly. I do remember thinking he didn’t buy it and I do remember feeling sad.
Kids see things we adults often don’t.
Barely a month later, summer was becoming autumn and as we geared up for a new school year and the colder weather blew in, we had no idea how many other transitions were headed our way. I was bathing the kids one evening and helping the oldest girl wash her hair when she told me that she was moving in with us. I was stunned, caught off guard, and had no idea what to say. I went from wondering if she was just playing around the way kids do to worrying about a possible misconception she might have about our situation. David and I talked about it several times over the weekend. Then I made a phone call to California where our incredible adoption facilitator, Julie, lives. It wasn’t an adoption question, but I thought she might have advice on what to do with that conversation. Her advice, which sounded like something akin to emotional and relational suicide, turned out to be right on the money.
That one conversation snowballed into a thousand more, a visit from our Californian friend that lasted just under a week, and ultimately to the conclusion that although what God was doing hadn’t been clear to the grown ups (who were distracted by the facts and the laws and how things usually go and a million other things that had nothing to do with God), Cohen had been right.
We didn’t have to try not to fall in love with the girls. The concern I had buried way down in my heart about whether or not I could love another set of siblings the way I was trying not to love these three little girls was not only an ungodly fear but also a completely unnecessary one. Those three little girls David and I already loved despite our trying to be restrained were our daughters. We just hadn’t seen it.
A great many amazing, wonderfully unexpected miracles have occurred since the chilly September afternoon when I followed Julie’s uncomfortable advice and trusted she knew what she was talking about. Most of them are private and personal; too private and personal and close to the hearts of those involved to be shared on the world wide web or even over a cup of coffee between friends. But be fully assured that time after time, circumstance after circumstance God has effortlessly jumped impossible hurdles and made ways where there were none. If we could supernaturally dust this situation for prints, trust me the only ones we would find would be His. He has undeniably had His hands all over the adoption, us, the girls and their first family.
Nothing happened the way we had anticipated. We thought our adopted children would come from California; they were already in our community. We thought Julie would help match us with the right siblings; Julie ended up being a consultant and trusted friend. We thought we would add two kids to our family; we have added three. We said we wouldn’t adopt children close to our kids’ ages; there is 12 months between Cohen and our oldest daughter and 10 months between Adler and our middle daughter. On paper it doesn’t make much sense. Some of our family members have been concerned about our sanity. But once we saw that this is what God was aligning and ordering for our life, the lives of our sons and our daughters, we could only gaze in wonder as He worked it all out. God’s plans often don’t fit well into human logic, but when it resonates in your spirit, there is no denying His handiwork.
So, after months of not writing because the right time had not come to share, we are absolutely thrilled to share some of the best news we have ever had to share…
GOD HAS ADDED THREE PRECIOUS, BEAUTIFUL, AMAZING LITTLE GIRLS TO OUR FAMILY!!!!
Naming is something we take very seriously. I think it has something to do with being grafted into that Hebrew family Of course the girls already had names so we added to them and for the younger two, altered the names some more to reflect what we see God has placed in them and has for their lives. It is a completely different thing to name a child before they have taken their first breath than to give a name to a child who has been running around your house for months. What isn’t different is that feeling you get inside when you know you’ve landed on the name that speaks to what God thinks about your child.
So without further ado, I would like to (re)introduce you to all 5 of the blessings God has given to David and I.
The name Cohen is Hebrew and means “priest”. Recently, while we were processing and praying through the girls’ names, I started to think more about the Old Testament role of the priest and how under the New Covenant we are all “priests and kings”. The word that was highlighted in my mind was “director”. The priests directed worship. They followed the law but their role was to direct and guide the people in those ordinances.
Cohen, from the time he could walk and talk (and that was before he was a year old!), commanding audiences. He was the tiniest little boy but he wouldn’t have believed you if you held a yardstick against him in front of a full length mirror.
One day I picked him up from preschool and the teacher was laughing. “I have to tell you what Co did today.” She went on to describe their free play time in the gym. The gym was full of equipment and toys. Kids typically spread out in little groups, playing with this or that. Well, on this day my very tiny son (who was one of the younger kids in the class) stood up on the top of the play equipment, commanded attention and proceeded convince the rest of the class to follow his instructions. Perched atop a piece of playground equipment, a barely 3 year old Cohen kept the whole class engaged for more than 20 minutes. He is a director, a leader, someone who is looked to for guidance.
He also is kind. He “gets” people. Cohen can spend very little time around a person and as he watches their expressions and listens to the tone of their voice, he learns who they are. Sometimes he will tell me complex things about people’s motivations and level of honesty and when I ask him how he came to that conclusion, he will shrug and then “show” me what their face looked like and mimmic the sound of their voice. He has an innate ability to see people. Praying for him recently, the Spirit brought to mind the verse in Isaiah that foretold of Jesus, “a bruised reed He will not break, a dimly burning wick He will not quench…”
Cohen will be (and is) a director and a guide. He will grow in his gift of understanding people and be like Jesus, who chooses to never squelch something even if it was only barely there. Cohen will fan into flame dimly burning wicks and protect the bruised reeds and he will lead and guide others into those understandings and practices.
KACEY JOSEPHINE PEARL
The name Kacey means “vigilant”. That, of course, is the name she’s always known and been called. When I first looked up the meaning, I wished even more that she wasn’t 5 years old and that we could change it. “Vigilant”, to me, has always brought to mind the kind of obsessive alertness that is motivated by fear. I felt a disdain for the ways in which that name might fit. I tried to find another meaning in another language or culture, but it was all the same. Then the Lord started to help me see that vigilant could just as easily describe the kind of person who is watching for, aware of, and expectant of good things. The alertness could be motivated by hope and trust just as it could grow out of fear and pain.
I knew that I wanted to give Kacey a name in honor of my maternal grandmother. Of course, her name was Clydella Margaret [you can read this post to find out why naming her after my grandma was meaningful]… so we looked up diminutives of Margaret and came up with some that we liked. Margaret means “pearl” so we included that in the list we shared with Kacey. She wanted to know what a pearl was, so being the modern parents we are, we googled pictures. She immediately chose the name Pearl. Josephine means “Jehovah will increase”.
The vision that God has given us for our oldest daughter, Kacey, is this: When a foreign substance slips into an oyster and is an irritant, the oyster works to change that substance into something that no longer hurts and in fact, becomes a thing of beauty and value that didn’t formerly exist. In this same way, we already see God taking the harsh, hurtful substances and occurrences that have no rightful place in Kacey’s life and transforming them. We believe He will continue that work to completion, continuing to take hurt and removing the sting all the while creating beauty and value and importance that would’ve existed without the pain… beauty from ashes. And we believe that God will increase throughout her life that beauty. We believe because of the transformative power of Jesus in her life, Kacey will always be hopefully expectant of God working in her life and that her awareness of His work will cause her to not miss that same work in the lives of those around her. She will not fearfully, obsessively evaluate her surrounds to to self-protect. She will be a lookout whose keen eyes have been trained through experience to see the Spirit of God making beauty all around her.
My maiden name is “Adelsberger” so part of the reason we chose “Adler” was to honor my family heritage. A person named “Adler” settled a city in Germany named “Adelsburg” which is where somewhere way back in my lineage people started to use the surname “Adelsberger”. When we looked up the name, immediately we were reminded of a favorite and well known verse in Isaiah “Those who wait for The Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk on not become weary.” Suddenly a name meaning “eagle” seemed more than well suited for the little bean of a boy growing inside me.
For a long time we were stuck on a middle name. I remember sending lists to David at work while I was on bed rest. And not just once, poor guy. Ultimately I left the decision entirely up to him, “Just pick a middle name.” He chose the name Josiah which means “one who is bolstered by God”.
Adler, despite being the baby of the family for a couple years and an instant middle child since the fall, has the strength and determination usually attributed to a firstborn son. (We often joke that we have a whole house full of firstborns – including both David and I!- so pray for us! ) Adler is not the loudest person in the room but his presence is not understated. In the way that an eagle seems regal and powerful, Adler also is strong and has a confidence that doesn’t require being the center of attention. We like to say he is stealth. You don’t always see or hear him when he’s playing but you can bet he is executing a plan somewhere close by. You can look at him and see the wheels in his head turning. He figures things out with an enviable ease. He has met milestones early and in his normal head-on fashion.
Adler is often immovable when he gets an idea in his head and as he grows, we see that stubborn determination pairing perfectly with the powerful force that is the breath or wind of God bringing an ease to all that he does. We see him as that eagle, regal and soaring with impressive strength. He will glide over obstacles because of the Lord’s sustaining support. He will run and not get tired because the Lord is his strength. He will walk through all kinds of situations and alongside all kinds of people and not become weary when the journey is long or the path is rough or because the promises of God seem far off. And will do all of this, knowing that the Lord is his source.
SCOUT ALIVIA JORDAN
Both Alivia and Jordan were already apart of our middle daughter’s name. We have spent the greatest amount of time trying to find the name that fit her. We aren’t unaccustomed to or afraid of unfamiliar names, clearly. As we got suggestions, it wasn’t a surprise that my mom suggested Scout. Since we were little kids, she has begged my siblings and I to name one of our daughters after the spunky little girl in her favorite novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. She even teasingly told my brother in law, Shane, that he could marry my sister if he promised to give a daughter that name. Well, two little girls later, I think it is safe to say that isn’t happening!
Scout in terms of sound and personality fit this little munchkin to a T (or tee?). Even in referencing little Jean Louise from the book, it was an uncanny fit. To say this little one has spunk is a gross understatement. David wasn’t sure though. She loves music and dancing, so originally we had thought we would give her a name that reflected that. We read musical name after musical name and none of them fit. We were back at square one. Scout just seemed right to me, but I wasn’t sure David could be convinced.
The name Alivia/Olivia comes from “olive tree”. Knowing little about olive trees, I did some research. Not only is the olive tree important because it gives olives and consequently olive oil, but in Biblical times, it was the source of light, food, oil and shade. Olive trees are super resilient, able to grow and flourish in even harsh conditions while still being the source of so many necessities. Oil is used for anointing and is a symbol of favor. Jordan, referencing the river by the same name, means “flowing down”.
As we looked more into the meaning of the name Scout, we learned it means “adventurer, pioneer, forerunner”. I should share that our middle girl is easily the bravest kid in the bunch. We haven’t found anything yet that scares her. In fact when we took the kids trick or treating in a local “village” (please- I know not everyone goes trick or treating. If you don’t, I respect that. If you do, I respect that. Let’s leave it there, friends) there was one house that had two people sitting on the porch who were decked out in costumes. One was a chicken and the other was an ape. As the kids got close (and by kids I mean this little one and Cohen- the others were too scared to get on the porch at all) the guy in the chicken suit started making chicken sounds, but through some kind of vocal distorter. Cohen screamed and ran back to us. Our brave 18 month old just tipped her head to the side, narrowed her eyes and stuck her hand out, and demanded her candy. To call out in her that adventurous spirit by naming her “a pioneer, path cutting, forerunner” is just natural.
Scout will have in her life a great many adventures because of the brave, courageous, never-backing-down constitution God has given her. We see in her future that she will be the kind of woman who knows who she is and what for what she was made. She will not lose confidence during an awkward stage of life or be influenced or intimidated by peers who fear the disapproval of man. She will be bold, making paths where others only see impossibility. And as she forges ahead and makes a way for those behind her, the anointing and favor of God will cause her to grow and flourish regardless of climate or location. Her life and her adventures will be drenched in the ever flowing down favor of God.
HARPER EVANGELINE RAEA
Harper has long been a favorite name of mine. I love that the meaning is “a harp maker” or “a harp player” or generalized, “a maker of music”. Also, as a book lover, the name puts me in mind of the beloved American writer, Harper Lee (who incidentally wrote To Kill a Mockingbird). We made long lists of names for this sweet, happy baby but nothing fit like Harper. We received a word of prophecy over her on New Years Eve that she would be a writer, not necessarily by profession but that it would be the way for her to express herself best. “Get this girl a journal as soon as she can write!” we were told.
Originally we had picked out two entirely different middle names. We wanted to honor one of her given names that started with “Rae” but struggled to find one that had a meaning we could attach to her. Although not common, the name Raea, is one of a few names that means “friend of God”. Another long standing favorite of mine is the name Evangeline which means “bearer or messenger of good news”.
I mean look at that sweet face…doesn’t she look like she knows some really good news?
Although she will only be 9 months old at the end of January,we see in her countenance and cheerful, contented, easy going temperament that she will be one who rests comfortably in the knowledge of, experience of, and belief in The Good News. We believe that whatever Harper says or does or writes or sings, her desire will be to share The Gospel and her message rooted in the same. She won’t be able to restrain herself from spreading the best news the world has ever encountered- that God isn’t far off and angry and waiting to strike, but that He is love and that it is possible and normal to be His friend.
I know this blog is nearing the ridiculously long point, but thank you for reading anyway. We are so blessed and we have had to nearly bite our tongues off to hold it all in so long! Celebrate with us, will you? Praise God for being the architect of all things and the builder of families. And pray for us. Even in the best of the best of the BEST circumstances, transitioning and adding to a family through adoption is a big deal. A lot of change has occurred and more is coming. We covet your prayers for wisdom for David and I in parenting each one of these precious souls. We also covet your prayers for provision. Look at the photos of these incredible people God has placed in our care and pray for their lives.. that every plan of the enemy intended for their lives would be like a stillborn child, never able to take a single breath. (I know that sounds like a harsh picture, but you’ll have to blame King David for that one. I’m just borrowing ) Pray that every good thing that is possible in the Kingdom of Heaven will manifest in their lives. Pray that they will experience the Spirit of God and sing songs and dream dreams and know Him intimately. We cannot thank you enough!
And now I’m adding photos because I’ve not been able to add them for months and my proud, happy mama heart cannot take it any longer!