My Journey to Joy

May 22, 2013

Dear Mom of an Adopted Child…

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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Dear Mom of an Adopted Child,

I met you in adoption education class. I met you at the agency. I met you at my son’s school. I met you online. I met you on purpose. I met you by accident.

It doesn’t matter. The thing is, I knew you right away. I recognize the fierce determination. The grit. The fight. Because everything about what you have was a decision, and nothing about what you have was easy. You are the kind of woman who Makes.Things.Happen. After all, you made this happen, this family you have.

Maybe you prayed for it. Maybe you had to convince a partner it was the right thing. Maybe you did it alone. Maybe people told you to just be happy with what you had before. Maybe someone told you it simply wasn’t in God’s plans for you to have a child, this child whose hair you now brush lightly from his face. Maybe someone warned you about what happened to their cousin’s neighbor’s friend. Maybe you ignored them.

Maybe you planned for it for years. Maybe an opportunity dropped into your lap. Maybe you depleted your life-savings for it. Maybe it was not your first choice. But maybe it was.

Regardless, I know you. And I see how you hold on so tight. Sometimes too tight. Because that’s what we do, isn’t it?

I know about all those books you read back then. The ones everyone reads about sleep patterns and cloth versus disposable, yes, but the extra ones, too. About dealing with attachment disorders, breast milk banks, babies born addicted to alcohol, cocaine, meth. About cognitive delays, language deficiencies. About counseling support services, tax and insurance issues, open adoption pros and cons, legal rights.

I know about the fingerprinting, the background checks, the credit reports, the interviews, the references. I know about the classes, so many classes. I know the frustration of the never-ending paperwork. The hours of going over finances, of having garage sales and bake sales and whatever-it-takes sales to raise money to afford it all.

I know how you never lost sight of what you wanted.

I know about the match call, the soaring of everything inside you to cloud-height, even higher. And then the tucking of that away because, well, these things fall through, you know.

Maybe you told your mother, a few close friends. Maybe you shouted it to the world. Maybe you allowed yourself to decorate a baby’s room, buy a car seat. Maybe you bought a soft blanket, just that one blanket, and held it to your cheek every night.

I know about your home visits. I know about your knuckles, cracked and bleeding, from cleaning every square inch of your home the night before. I know about you burning the coffee cake and trying to fix your mascara before the social worker rang the doorbell.

And I know about the followup visits, when you hadn’t slept in three weeks because the baby had colic. I know how you wanted so badly to show that you had it all together, even though you were back to working more-than-full-time, maybe without maternity leave, without the family and casseroles and welcome-home balloons and plants.

And I’ve seen you in foreign countries, strange lands, staying in dirty hotels, taking weeks away from work, struggling to understand what’s being promised and what’s not. Struggling to offer your love to a little one who is unsettled and afraid. Waiting, wishing, greeting, loving, flying, nesting, coming home.

I’ve seen you down the street at the hospital when a baby was born, trying to figure out where you belong in the scene that’s emerging. I’ve seen your face as you hear a nurse whisper to the birthmother that she doesn’t have to go through with this. I’ve seen you trying so hard to give this birthmother all of your respect and patience and compassion in those moments—while you bite your lip and close your eyes, not knowing if she will change her mind, if this has all been a dream coming to an abrupt end in a sterile environment. Not knowing if this is your time. Not knowing so much.

I’ve seen you look down into a newborn infant’s eyes, wondering if he’s really yours, wondering if you can quiet your mind and good sense long enough to give yourself over completely.

And then, to have the child in your arms, at home, that first night. His little fingers curled around yours. His warm heart beating against yours.

I know that bliss. The perfect, guarded, hopeful bliss.

I also know about you on adoption day. The nerves that morning, the judge, the formality, the relief, the joy. The letting out of a breath maybe you didn’t even know you were holding for months. Months.

I’ve seen you meet your child’s birthparents and grandparents weeks or years down the road. I’ve seen you share your child with strangers who have his nose, his smile … people who love him because he’s one of them. I’ve seen you hold him in the evenings after those visits, when he’s shaken and confused and really just wants a stuffed animal and to rest his head on your shoulder.

I’ve seen you worry when your child brings home a family tree project from school. Or a request to bring in photos of him and his dad, so that the class can compare traits that are passed down, like blue eyes or square chins. I know you worry, because you can protect your child from a lot of things — but you can’t protect him from being different in a world so intent on celebrating sameness.

I’ve seen you at the doctor’s office, filling out medical histories, leaving blanks, question marks, hoping the little blanks don’t turn into big problems later on.

I’ve seen you answer all of the tough questions, the questions that have to do with why, and love, and how much, and where, and who, and how come, mama? How come?

I’ve seen you wonder how you’ll react the first time you hear the dreaded, “You’re not my real mom.” And I’ve seen you smile softly in the face of that question, remaining calm and loving, until you lock yourself in the bathroom and muffle your soft cries with the sound of the shower.

I’ve seen you cringe just a little when someone says your child is lucky to have you. Because you know with all your being it is the other way around.

But most of all, I want you to know that I’ve seen you look into your child’s eyes. And while you will never see a reflection of your own eyes there, you see something that’s just as powerful: A reflection of your complete and unstoppable love for this person who grew in the midst of your tears and laughter, and who, if torn from you, would be like losing yourself.



January 16, 2013

The Junkins on Waiting

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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John Junkin and his wife Jennifer know the joy and pain of waiting for a child.  As pioneers for Lifeline’s Ethiopia program, they…began their adoption process in January of 2011.  During the course of their twenty-month journey, the family’s experience included immense difficulty, as well as overwhelming triumph…   “We prayed.  We cried.  We longed for Micah before we know who he was.”

As tough as that was, John and Jennifer committed to seeing the beauty in their wait. We realized that we were doing something for him that had never been done before.”  The reality was that Micah never had someone grieve his absence, approach the Father on his behalf, and be desperate to hold him.  “That is the glory of the waiting…”

Taken from Birmingham Christian Family, December 2012

Italics mine

November 1, 2012


Filed under: Uncategorized — aunthoddy @ 9:39 AM
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First, watch this awesome video!

So, what is ONE thing you can do?  So glad you asked!  😉


Talk about orphan care and adoption!  Many people are so unfamiliar with how adoption has changed over the years.  (A family member asked if we were going to an orphanage to pick a baby.)  Worse, many people have only heard sensationalized horror stories, and been left with an unbalanced perspective.  (Statistically, most adopted children do as well or better in most areas when compared to their contemporaries.)  


I was blessed with a family who prayed for me.  Orphans don’t have that privilege.  Who will stand in the gap for them?  Who will lift up adoptive families facing uncommon challenges?  Who will pray for hearts and homes to be opened to the children who need them?  Will you?


Go to  Ask God if He wants you to share His love with these children who have known so much hurt.  Talk to families involved in foster care.  Pray that God will reveal His hope and plan for these precious kids through His people.


We could never have brought our precious boy home on our own.  God worked through His people to make our adoption possible.  Friends and family gave so much.  Perfect strangers gave when they heard our story.  People we’ll never meet gave through organizations like and  I can never express my gratitude…


Adoption can be long and hard.  Stick close to those in the process, and let them know that you support them.  Help with fundraising, write cards, tell them you’re praying, give hugs, call to listen… 


Support a child through  Do your Christmas shopping at!  Stuff a shoe box with goodies for Samaritan’s Purse.


Read articles  Ask questions.  Buy a copy of or borrow mine!  🙂


Adoption is such an amazing picture of how God works His plan for redemption!  Think about it, pray about it, imagine your family in a different way.  Ask God what His picture of your family looks like!

September 20, 2012


Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  Galatians 6:2

I have been so blessed!  There are so many good things in my life right now, that I can hardly take them all in!  I’m still writing in my gratitude journal, gift after gift after gift.  But I still hurt.  I hurt for people I care about.

I hurt for my friend E.  She has been so excited about finding an amazing surrogate in A.  She borrowed money, made plans, said prayers, sent gifts.  She had three and a half days to celebrate her baby’s life, then it was over.  Now she’s hurting, oh so much, and I’m hurting with her.

In my season of pain, that was the greatest gift anyone gave to me.

Another friend, H, is hurting physically.  All of the time.  I hurt with her, too.

M’s family is full of hurts, and she grieves and prays over them.  I do too.

Open arms leave the heart unprotected.”  ~Lizzie’s Mom  🙂

It costs to care.  I can’t take on the world’s burdens, but I want to be listening for who God will whisper on my heart.  In the midst of horrific pain, sometimes we need to be carried by someone who cares.  So many people have cared about me.

For unto whomever much is given, of him shall be much required… Luke 12:48

A few months ago, someone told me something that has been incredibly freeing: Sensitivity isn’t a bad thing.  Being a “sensitive person” is not weakness, it’s what makes it possible to care for others.  So all of those times that I apologized for my “thin skin,” pushed down feelings, or held back tears?  I have a different perspective now.  The next time someone tells me “You’re so sensitive” I’ll try to take it as a compliment.  Because that’s how God made me, and it’s the reason I can rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.  Romans 12:15

August 9, 2012

Walking Towards the Miracle…Our Story, Continued

Filed under: Contemplations,Uncategorized — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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After the phone call that rocked our world (a baby boy!), there was a brief flurry of activity.  Our social worker sent us a message entitled “Baby Boy” with his date of birth, height and weight, ethnicity, and other brief information.  I believe we memorized it, hungry for every detail!  More paperwork ensued: birthmother background, hospital records & etc.  Waivers and legal documents to print, read, sign, scan and return.  I don’t know what else I was doing that week, but we completed each step as quickly as possible.  We certainly didn’t want to cause any additional wait!

Then, things slowed down.  Days of no new information.  It took tremendous willpower not to call our social worker constantly, asking if she had any new information.  A week went by.  An uncommonly loooooooong week!  Our baby was stuck in “the system,” and there was nothing we could do.  I wanted to drive to Mississippi, and just sleep on the floor beside his crib.  We still had never seen our boy, not even one picture.

Finally on Friday, May 4th, we were instructed to sign a petition for the MS courts, and send it back as quickly as possible.  I’ll be honest, it was a lot of trouble to track down a notary public on a Friday night, drive downtown to the only open UPS store, and pay $35 to send a package.  I’ve never been happier to do something!  They could have charged whatever they liked.  We watched online for confirmation of the documents’ arrival.  We knew our lawyer would be presenting it to the judge on Wednesday.  Praying without ceasing became almost a literal habit.

Wednesday (May 9th) we were eating with my family, when my sister had a vicious abdominal attack.  I whisked her children to my house, so they wouldn’t see their mommy in pain.  I turned on a movie and cranked up the volume so they wouldn’t hear the ambulance.  There was a message on my phone.  From my social worker.

“Call me on my cell….  There are some new developments…Nothing to worry about.  Okay, I’ll just say it right out, it’d good news, so call me…”  I stood at my window, watching the ambulance pull away with my best friend inside, as I listened to our social worker tell me that the judge had granted our petition.  We could go get our son…on Friday!  Such mixed emotions!  I didn’t know if I should tell anyone in the middle of everything else, but I couldn’t keep it in. 

My mom told my sister, who was lying on a gurney in the ER.  “Oh, good,” she said.  “Let’s talk about that instead!”  See why I love her?!  Thankfully, Krista was fine, just a freakish combination of circumstances made her so ill.  The next day she limped to a baby boutique and went shopping for her long-awaited nephew.  You can believe those gifts are incredibly special to me!

And so we packed up everything we thought we might need, checking and re-checking lists.  We borrowed a video camera, charged the Nikon, lay out our clothes, and waited for Friday…

March 27, 2012

Songs for the Journey- With Hope

Filed under: Songs for the Journey — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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February 16, 2012


Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 10:45 AM
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Have you ever asked someone to help so that they’ll feel important?  “What a good helper you are!”

Have you ever automatically refused help…when you really could have used it?  “Thanks, but I’ve got it!”

 Have you ever prayed for something, but a little, quiet part of you was thinking  “but if He doesn’t, that’s okay- I can handle it.”?

That seems to work, until things start getting out of hand.  Until the problems are too big.  Until it is too much, end-of-my-rope, past enduring, I can’t handle this!  Then what?

My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.  So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

I suffer from the curse of competency.  I am healthy.  I am strong.  I am smart.  I am determined.  I can get a lot of things done, when I want them, and how.  And I like it that way.  And I got used to that.  And I’ve been on a three-year ride of being smacked with my own powerlessness and inadequacies on a routine basis.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.   Proverbs 3:5

Hurts like crazy.  Frustrating beyond belief.  And teaching me a hard, but oh, so worthwhile lesson.

I can’t.  Not even a little.  No matter how hard I try.  But He can.

Not under my supervision.  Not according to my plans.  Not following my instructions.

His time.  His way.  His strength.  His power. 

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.  Psalm 73:26

All I have to do is trust.  Even that I can’t do; I need His help.

Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.  Mark 9:24

I’ve been an unintentional fraud.  A polished-up mess.  A fraction of who He intended me to be through Him.  All of my trying to make it work is futile, when all I really need to do is rely on Him.  Believe.  Wait.  Hope.  Rest.

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19


February 15, 2012

The Secret of Contentment

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 10:43 AM
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 I have read Philippians 4 many times in my life. I’ve always read it and wondered about the apostle Paul’s secret to contentment. This week I read this chapter again and saw things in a way I never have before.

Paul’s secret is actually quite provocative – the secret of living with contentment in every situation. Few of us ever scratch the surface of what contentment truly means, no matter how great our effort and intention.

How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. ~ Philippians 4:10-13

 I will confess – I don’t know how Paul could live in contentment with all he had been through! I read his words and think, that can’t be right, he was in prison! And surely I don’t need to learn to be content in this [insert your trial here] situation? Paul can’t possibly mean that. Oh, but he does.

Did you notice the verse at the end of the passage? On the heels of saying that he is content in any and every situation, Paul says, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” I think this verse is often used too flippantly. Paul isn’t talking about achieving anything he sets his mind to. He is referring to surviving the worst of the worst with as much grace as living with plenty. Whoa.

My question for Paul has always been, “Well then, what is the secret to achieving contentment?” What I found this week is that he addresses this very question earlier in chapter four.

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me – everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. ~ Philippians 4:4-9

 Let me break that down for my own sake (because I’m a list person):

 • Be full of joy •

Be considerate in all you do •

Don’t worry; pray •

Be thankful •

Fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise •

Put into practice the things you have learned

If we do these things, Paul says, “The God of peace will be with you.” All these things lead to peace, and peace leads to contentment. This is revolutionary stuff! With achievable, albeit difficult, action steps. Paul’s secret steps to God’s peace and contentment.

Well, I need to be more like Paul. What about you?

February 8, 2012

Jamison’s Story

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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This will probably take about 30 minutes to watch, but it’s so worth it!

September 13, 2011

Songs for the Journey

Filed under: Songs for the Journey — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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