Chosen to love and to be loved

Today was the deadline to turn in our adoption testimony and pictures to Show Hope – Steven Curtis Chapman’s orphan care ministry – who generously gave us a grant that helped with some of our adoption expenses.  I thought I would share it with you all, along with this word of encouragement – If you have ever considered adoption (and perhaps even if you have not) but out of fear, obstacles or finances you have not pursued it…take that first step today towards the most amazing, beautiful and miraculous experience of your life!

Sunday May 17, 2009 was a stellar day for the Lambdin family!  It was the day that the Lord placed into our loving arms, through the miracle of adoption – our newest daughter – Christiana Michelle Lambdin.

The journey that began 19 months prior and consisted of mountains of paperwork, home studies, interviews, exhaustive investigations, steadfast determination, hope deferred, patient perseverance, government bureaucracy, faith, fundraising and flying thousands of miles from California to Tennessee….came to both a joyous end and exciting beginning when we looked into the eyes of the most beautiful, perfect and precious six-week old baby girl.  The tears flowed from everyone in the room as we rejoiced in the most amazing gift we were ever chosen to receive!

Yes, we were chosen!  Is there anything better than being the one chosen?  Throughout life we rejoice when we or our loved ones are chosen to – be on the team, win an award, get invited to the party, attend a desired college, be promoted at work or be honored for an achievement. It is such an amazing moment when you realize you have been the one chosen. For decades we have experienced the joy and fulfillment of knowing that God has chosen us for His purpose, His glory and His kingdom but I must tell you that being chosen to adopt this sweet baby girl was a pinnacle moment in our life!

  • We were chosen by the birth mother to raise her child in a loving Christian home (she specifically wanted “church goin’ folks” for her baby).
  • We were chosen by the adoption agency, Life Choices as a qualified family to adopt one of their beautiful babies.
  • We were chosen by Show Hope to receive a grant to help with the financial needs of this adoption. 
  • We were chosen by friends, family members and even strangers who believed in us enough to give of their money to cover the remaining expenses of adoption that we did not have available to us.
  • We were chosen by God to experience firsthand what it means to be adopted by Him – “He predestined us to adoption as children through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will” Ephesians 1:5  “…you have received a spirit of adoption as children by which we cry out, ‘Abba Father!’”  Romans 8:15

 And yet there is more…

  • We were chosen by Christiana! 

With every smile, every wet kiss, every squeal of delight when I walk into the room, every time she calls me “Mama”,everytime she lays her head on my shoulder to cuddle or surrender to sleep and even when she is hurt and will not be comforted by anyone else….I am struck by the fact that she has chosen me! 

As we prepared for this adoption many questions were asked along the way by those all around us regarding different aspects of adoption.  Often the questions would include concern as to if we thought we might find it difficult to love a child who “was not our own”.  I summarily dismissed these concerns for several reasons:

  1. First, my husband is obviously “not my own” (biologically related to me) and I love him just fine. (and vice versa) Anyone who believes they cannot love someone who is not biologically related to them better take a second look before marrying.
  2. I had already birthed seven children all with different personalities, weaknesses, annoyances, challenges and flaws…I had managed to love each of them despite these hardships so certainly I could love any child God gave me through birth or adoption.
  3. I do not believe that love – true love – is a feeling but rather it is a choice.  Don’t get me wrong, feelings are nice but they are not a good foundation for love because feelings are also fickle…they can be really beautiful one minute and unbelievably ugly the next.  Anyone who has been married for five minutes can attest to the fact that loving “feelings” come and go.  No, love is a choice to act in a loving way no matter how your current feelings happen to be fluctuating.  Love is making a lifelong commitment to a person to be faithful, kind, self-sacrificing and giving.  We knew that we could make a lifelong commitment to love an adopted child.

What I had never considered was the unconditional and undeserving love that would be poured out to me from my adopted child. You see, I thought she would have to learn to love me over the years.  While my “bio kids” appeared to come out of the womb attached to their Mommy & Daddy, I assumed because I had not birthed Christiana that I would have to “earn her love” through my actions of love, care and service. Was I ever wrong!  From the moment she was placed in my arms, she looked up into my face and her eyes overflowed with joy, acceptance and love. That love has been poured out to us daily,  growing because she is learning more ways of expressing that love as she develops into a darling toddler, yet it has been there in her heart and in her eyes ever since that first day.  Yes, we have been chosen by Christiana to be freely and unconditionally loved and that love has changed us profoundly.

As a large family who is in the full time ministry of Christian education we never thought that we could afford to adopt a child.  Yet, we stepped out in faith and the Lord provided.  We  are so grateful for those donors who give to Show Hope so that they can provide grants to help with the often overwhelming expenses of adoption.  We know that the Lord used this wonderful organization to increase our faith and help us to move forward towards  adopting our precious gift from God. You who have given to this ministry have been chosen by God to partner with Him and others to participate in the miracle of adoption. Our gratitude to you is overwhelming!

If you have adopted a child or been adopted yourself, I would love for you to share your adoption story in the comments section of this blog in hopes of encouraging others to consider opening their hearts and homes to become a forever family to a waiting child.  Adoption is truly an amazing miracle and a priceless gift!  Maybe God is choosing you to be given a miracle and gift too!

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6 Comments

Filed under Adoption, Blessings, Faith, Life at the Lambdins

6 responses to “Chosen to love and to be loved

  1. Renee Coss

    Beth,

    I couldn’t help but tear up when I read your story. Our family has been so blessed by the adoption of 2 precious babies some eleven years ago. I too had many people ask me if I felt the same for my adopted children as I did with my biological son. YES! and maybe even more so if that’s possible. There has been such an overwhelming desire to nurture,protect and love these children that the Lord has chosen for us to parent. They aren’t my flesh and blood but they are certainly the very beat of my heart.
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful story!
    Renee Coss

  2. Tracy

    Beth as you know we did not just adopt once but twice. Yes when Tony and I married we knew that we would choose to adopt a son, as Tony puts it “my son” we received him at 9 months. If a person cannot get past that this child is not my birth child than maybe it’s not for you. However think that the child is God’s child and so are you. When we adopted our daughter 4 years later we were chosen again. We received a call from our son’s prior social worker saying “I have a girl that would be perfect in our family”, she was 5 months.

    Our children are now 9yr and 5yr and yes we do have older girls 26yr and 20yr. They are from a previous marriage. And to them from day one they are all biological – it is funny how kids look at it differently than adults.

    If you do chose to adopt you might get negative talk from friends and family but put that past you due to they don’t understand and need a little education from us and not the media. Once they see the child that negative talk is in the past and wiped away. They are just scared.

    Our adoption process was awesome we went thru Family Connection Christian Adoption Agency in Modesto this is a private adoption agency.

    I know this is from the heart and I have said more than enough but this is my heart and I have tears of joy as I write this. This was suppose to be a short note not a book. I have to end now in mid babble or I will just keep going.

    Your sister in God
    Tracy

  3. Sandy

    Beth,
    Our mutual friend Cathy Villanueva emailed me your blog about adopting your precious daughter. You wrote so beautifully, and brought me to tears, as I can very much related to everything you shared. Our family also adopted, and for anyone out there contemplating this gift and thinking it would be too hard, etc… if you feel the call, please don’t ignore it. You can predict all the struggles along the way, but you can never predict all the ways God will give you strength and joy along the way, and ultimately the joy of expanding your family with one of His children.

    We adopted our youngest, Jonathan (“God has given”) Dmitryi Gazda, from Russia on May 7, 2009, at the age of 14 months. Jonathan is our 10th child — and first adopted — but as precious and amazing of a gift as each of our other children. Like you, it is through Jonathan’s adoption that our family has grown to understand more fully the spirit of adoption we have in Christ through His infinite and unconditional love that is not born of the flesh.

    Our family felt the call to adopt internationally. Crazy — we already had 9 kids — but the call was there no matter how hard the logical arguments of family size (large), finances (limited), time (no extra, as far as we could see), and homeschool (how do you do school and a homestudy, and paperwork, and trips out of the country?). I could go into the details of how GOD (not us) accomplished this, but it would take a book — suffice it to say that each step He made His presence known, and in the end, we had this beautiful, precious, baby boy who looked into our eyes with complete trust and affection. The miracle of this, what it feels like in the heart, is truly beyond words. Joy is too limited …

    The adoption process definitely has it’s busy/challenging/waiting moments, but doesn’t birth? Yes, there were labor pains, but what is labor when you receive the most precious gift of life? We ended up adopting Jonathan from Russia. Our adoption is the fastest we’ve ever heard of — it took exactly 6 months from the date we signed the adoption contract, with no homestudy and not one iota of paperwork started, to the date our plane touched down in the USA and he became an American citizen.

    We met Jonathan 2 days after his first birthday, in a pink hallway of a Russian orphanage, furnished with a little rug, child-sized table and chairs, and toys that we brought from home. The first moment we held him, he was our son. It was different in circumstances from a biological birth, but the same in our hearts. In fact, perhaps we were in even more awe, because we could not believe that we, from across the world, had been chosen to be the family for this precious baby boy. What a miracle…!

    Jonathan was born with a cleft lip and palate, and when we met him, these had not been repaired. Even though we were completely open to adopting him with this special need, there was a tiny part of me that wondered if I would really be able to look at his face without becoming intimidated. Crazy, I know, but if I’m really honest, I had those thoughts now and then. Well, he was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen! We didn’t even notice the lip, it was not an issue for even a moment. I share this because if God leads you to a child, He will make all things beautiful — not always easy, but beautiful in your hearts.

    There were many little miracles on the way, and many signs when we most needed them. One of them was when the man who took our luggage at our hometown airport ran after us as we headed to security on our way to Russia to pick Jonathan up. He was a tough-looking Italian guy from New York, and he came to us with tears in our eyes, telling us what a wonderful thing we were doing. He had been raised in an orphanage and watched other children get adopted but never him. Here was this 40-something man crying and thanking complete strangers for giving a gift to a child that no one had ever given him. We will never forget that moment, as long as we live. We walked through security, held hands, and sat in tearful silence for several moments. For us, it was confirmation that, crazy as the world might think we were, all was well on this final journey to bring our son home.

    Jonathan is now 2 1/2 years old, has been home with us for a year and 4 months, and there has never been a moment that he has not been complete, total member of the family. To this day, we watch him laugh and play, and it is like a dream that this child was once in the world without us, and us without him. His lip and palate have been repaired with barely even a scar, he never stops talking, he runs, dances, laughs, cuddles, loves his brothers and sisters (and they love him!!!). We are his Mama and Daddy. Forever. Thanks be to God for completing us with this precious boy!

    For anyone contemplating adoption, if you pray and you feel the call upon your heart, do not fear. Take that step and see where it leads. If you are being called, the call won’t go away. Let go of specific expectations, and trust God with how he wants to use you. God will open the right doors for you as he blesses His little children with loving forever homes.

    God Bless!
    Sandy

  4. Lori

    Dear Beth,

    I enjoy and look forward to your encouraging and inspirational words of wisdom each week.

    My husband and I have been foster parents for two years and have fostered over 10 children in that time. We have finished our homestudy and are currently waiting upon the Lord to guide us to the child(ren) that he has picked for us to join our family. We have always wanted to adopt, but heard about the outrageous amount of money that it took and knew we would not be able to afford it. After raising our 3 children we decided to foster and boy has it been eye opening! We had two little girls in our care and they were going up for adoption. We weren’t eligible because we hadn’t started the homestudy. The love we had for those children surpassed any amount of money it would have taken to adopt. We started the process and found that it wasn’t any harder than being certified for fostering. We were surprised to find out it would cost virtually nothing to adopt. God had led us to the area he knew we could afford! Here we are cleared and waiting for God to bring us the new member(s) to our family.

    Upon researching adoption from the foster care system, I came upon the “Wait No More” adoption initiative that was started by Focus On The Family. In Colorado there were 800 children cleared and waiting for homes. After a year and a half of educating the community, that number went down to 365! Praise God!!

    All these children want is a place to call home and the love from a family of their own. I highly recommend everyone to pray to our Father about adding to your family. You will be blessed beyond belief by adding a new member if it is God’s will!

    God Bless,
    Lori

  5. Hello Beth,
    As always, your blog has blessed me, encouraged me, challenged me, and now helped to equip me! We are currently matched with a referral for two precious children from Ethiopia… a little girl (age 3 to 4 years) and a little boy (age 2 years). I am blessed by all that you have shared and look forward to all that the Lord has for us as we move forward in the adoption of these little ones!
    God Bless you and your family,
    Cynthia

  6. Kate

    Her tiny arm was deeply scarred. I held out the bubble wand and she tried to lick the soap as I giggled and tried to show her how to blow. This wisp of girl had more spunk and attitude than I had ever seen in a 2 year-old package, but then she’d always been a fighter. She was birthed into a pit latrine – a hole in ground filled with human excrement over 20 feet below. She was found lying there amid the stench, alone and abandoned. It took hours for a slip-knot in a rope to finally catch around her wrist. She was pulled out, but not without profound damage to her wrist. They thought Zoe would never have use of her arm again.

    It is estimated there are between 143 million and 210 million orphans worldwide (recent UNICEF report.) Is that just a statistic? Not to me. I’ve held children in Uganda burning up with fever from Malaria who have no mommy to comfort them. I’ve listened to kids in Romania try without success to play the recorder because they had no daddy who ever taught them to count to 3. I’ve seen the look of belonging on the face of an adopted cousin as she reached for her mommy. She will never know the fear of being alone.

    James 1:27 says “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Every human heart is an orphaned heart. We are all in that boat together until we are adopted by God the Father into his family. We never have to feel alone again because God care’s deeply about orphans. He has a father’s heart. A heart that is willing to take someone who may look different and have a completely different background then they do, into their family and love them like their own flesh and blood – this is the heart of Christ. This is the heart that is also ready to love people whose souls are in a different place. This is the heart that is willing to love others and bring them to a face-to-face relationship with Jesus Christ. I care about orphans and adoption because I too was a spiritual orphan who was adopted into the family of God.

    Nicholas is a precious baby that was discarded into the bush of Africa when he was only hours old. He spent his first months at a baby house at New Hope Uganda. He learned to eat his porridge from a normal cup, not a bottle, because there was nobody to feed him several times a day. I met him when he was 6-months-old. I hugged him and kissed him and tried desperately to somehow convey to him that he was loved and things were going to be okay. When he was 1 year old, he was adopted by a missionary family in Uganda. I saw him again two years later. He ran into the room in his train pajamas with a big smile and put his little hand out for me to shake. He will never remember what it was like not to have a mommy and a daddy. He knows that he is unconditionally loved and it has made all the difference.

    “Mommy?” Zoe said as I walked into that same baby house. It broke my heart. I wanted to say yes. I wanted this little girl to have someone that she knew she belonged to. One day I want to welcome orphans into my home and family. I want to hear little voices say “Mommy?” and I can respond with a nod and a hug of welcome and belonging. One day all of us will stand before God and say “Daddy?” and he will welcome in his adopted children to spend forever with him. Zoe’s arm is completely healed now and one day her heart will be too.

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