Tag Archives: friends

The Beauty of Nepal


I’ve heard people say, “you can’t take a bad picture in Nepal.” I have to agree. Foreigners flock to Nepal to explore the ancient architecture and the beauty of the Himalayan mountains. But, I think the most beautiful part of the country is her people. With Tibet to the north and India to the south, Nepalis can look Chinese, Indian and everyone else in between. They are lovely inside and out. I have found the Nepali people to be humble and hospitable. A long history of oppression and suffering has honed a resilience that is cloaked with a “shy kindness.” Building friendships with the people has been the most delightful part of this trip. Through them, my love for the nation has deepened and my desire for them to know and grow in Christ has quickened. Oh, what a joy to know the beauty of his splendor amongst the nations!

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Bring Joylyn Home

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These are my friends, Gavin and Lorraine Kajikawa and their daughter, Brielle. After seven long years, they have been matched with their daughter, Joylyn and are preparing to adopt her from China in the very near future.

Adopt_Product_Shot_largeThe cost of adoption is steep. I can personally attest to that. But the Father loves to provide lavishly for the things near His heart. I can personally attest to that as well. One of the ways He provides is through the giving of His people. One of the ways that you can help is by purchasing a T-shirt. But not just any T-shirt. A cool-looking T-shirt with a great message on the front designed and produced by Zoe Clothing Co.

This is a rare fundraiser in which 100% of the donation for the T-shirt will go directly to helping the Kajikawas bring Joylyn home. This has been made possible by the owner of Zoe, a kingdom-minded friend of mine as well. If you would like to read more about the Kajikawas’ story and purchase a T-shirt (or two or three), you can click on their photo above.

What better way to celebrate the Father’s love in Christ’s resurrection this weekend than to support those who are seeking to be like Him through adoption!

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Friends at the Finishline

Part of the joy of the adoption journey is sharing it with long-time and brand new friends who are traveling down the same road. The circumstances may be different for each family but the heart for the orphan and the heart to adopt is the same. We are overjoyed that two families we know are either near the finish line of the process or just crossed over it recently.

Two of our long time friends from Evergreen SGV Church are now in China to adopt their son into their family. Their son is one of the four children (including Eden) who are being adopted from the same orphanage that was closed last year. God’s faithfulness in their story is unique and simply amazing. I wish I could tell you about it here but I leave that for them to tell as they see fit. Lord willing, they will be receiving their son next Monday and will return sometime the following week. We can’t wait to meet them all at the airport!

The second family is a young couple who wanted many children but instead experienced multiple miscarriages. Through their pain, the Lord led them to adopt. We met them during our adoption classes required by the Hague convention. On Wednesday, the Yaps received their daughter from Korea at LAX. We are so excited for them! This is only the beginning of the adventure as the wife is now also 7 months pregnant. They will transition from a family of two to a family of four all within two months time. Again, an amazing story and I’ll let them tell it. Check out their story at their blog: familyapsalot.

I am excited because we are next in line to go, but for now, I am just overjoyed for our friends who are experiencing the satisfaction of emulating the Father through adoption. May He shower these new families with the fulness of His joy as they live life near his heart!

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Adopting an Older Child

Adoption presents numerous joys as well as many challenges to a child and her new family. For us, there will be obvious physical and communication hurdles in adopting a child with special needs who doesn’t speak English. But, as the time for Eden’s arrival grows near, I realize an even greater challenge may be in adopting an older child. Unlike a newborn or even a toddler, an older child is fully aware of the dramatic changes that adoption involves. Eden will be cognizant of an exciting yet scary new future but also of a painful but familiar past. Leaving the only life she ever knew will demand closure and a grieving process. This is a difficult, but necessary transition for any adoptive child, especially an older one. Our friends, the Parks (see their most recent blog post), are experiencing this right now as they comfort their new daughter through this life-change while receiving her in Korea. Please continue to pray for them. Here is an excerpt from their last post:

…with my Mercy, I held her in my arms as her mother as she cried out with sobs and tears wanting to be taken back to her orphanage and to the life she had known. I held her for 2 hours as she sobbed and sobbed and my heart just breaking wondering if she will heal from this trauma. I was wishing so much at that moment I didn’t know any Korean so I wouldn’t have to understand her words of pain. But her heaving chest as she sobbed was something that even if I didn’t know Korean I would understand that her heart is hurting. I wanted to help her to understand, sweet daughter, you are now in our family. It is not another stop in the road of your life, but we are your parents and family until death do us part. I wanted her to understand that we have a home and extended family and loving friends who are all waiting for her in America. We want to give her a future that she could not have here in Korea in an orphanage. We want to help her grow to reach her potential. But all she could cry out as she sat grieving in my arms was “I want to go back to my orphanage.” Even though the life she had known was not the life a family can be for her, that is all she knows and all she wanted.

I appreciate Grace’s honesty in the hope and struggle of it all because I anticipate that we’ll experience something similar with Eden when she arrives. Eden has experienced quite a bit of change over the past two years, leaving the now-closed orphanage she grew up in to live with a loving foster family. As often as the family reminds Eden that her “real” family is coming, it will still be very difficult for her to say “goodbye.” She has fond memories with them for which we are grateful. But, even the distant, painful recollections of her past will also be difficult to leave behind as well. While some memories may sting, they are still familiar and familiarity is often comforting. Only faithfulness and time can help Eden put closure to her past that she might fully embrace her new present and future. I never want her to forget her past for it is part of who she is but I also don’t want her to be bound by it either. My hope is that over time, her new life with us will become her new, comforting “familiarity.” By God’s grace, I trust it will.

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New Friends

One of the joys of this adoption journey is that we don’t travel alone. We are so blessed to have countless friends, family and church family who walk with us through this journey. If it takes a village to raise a child, then it certainly takes a village to adopt an orphan. And without a doubt, the Father has surrounded us with that loving village.

One of the unexpected surprises within that village is the discovery of new friends who are also adopting. We have met so many wonderful people through our adoption classes, T4A conference, and online community of adoptive parents. Some we have shared meals with and others we have conversed with only online. Some are adopting their first child and some have adopted as many as fourteen (seriously, that’s on top of their 4). Some are adopting through foster care and some are traveling to Africa and Asia. All the adoption stories are so uniquely different and yet their is a deep common bond that we share with this community of adoptive parents. We share the same gospel-centered motivation, the same frustrations, the same fears, the same joys and the same jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring God-sized moments. We have not known many of these people very long but we share a special kinship with them and we thank God for their example, wisdom and encouragement.

I’d like to share with you some of the stories of our friends by highlighting their blogs or websites. Here are a few:

  • Bringing Mercy Home:  This inspiring family of five are getting ready to adopt for the second time!
  • My Cup Overfloweth: Strong orphan advocate, seven children (6 adopted) and counting…
  • Ordinary Dad: Ordinary dad looking to do the extraordinary in first adoption.
  • The Shepherds Crook: Amazing family with a wonderful testimony and ministry involving special needs children.
  • Thankful for Adoption: Great help, great blog, great stories of grace.
  • Yapsalot: Joyful networker and friend ready to adopt for the first time!

I hope you are encouraged and inspired by our friends’ testimonies. Please pray for their impending adoptions as the Lord so leads.

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Adoption Etiquette

My friend, Jeff Lee, and his family had their adoption story recently featured in the November issue of OC Family Magazine. Check out the story titled, “Special Love: Adopting a special-needs child brings unique rewards to the entire family” by Susan Serrano.

In the issue, there was also a very helpful sidebar article by Judy M. Miller titled, “Adoption Etiquette: What Not to Say to Adoptive Parents.” While I am not yet an adoptive parent, I have already experienced the discomfort of some of the comments mentioned below. Miller offers good insight and instruction for us all.

“ADOPTION ETIQUETTE: What not to say to adoptive parents”
By Judy M. Miller

Finding the right words honors the relationships in an adoptive family, where love transcends blood and genetics. More than 10 million families have considered adoption, and approximately 1 million more are seeking to adopt at any given time.

Those who meet the new addition include extended family, friends and acquaintances. And, sometimes, they are strangers you can’t help but notice because they are conspicuous; these people obviously see that you don’t “match.” Their curiosity is natural. But sometime it gets the better of us.

Adoptive parents often find themselves in the spotlight. Those who have adopted internationally or trans-racially find themselves under more scrutiny and approached more often. Generally, non-adoptive parents don’t realize that they’re being intrusive and may be disparaging with their questions and comments.

Certain terms and phrases, while well-intentioned most of the time, rankle the adoptive parent by implying that a family formed through adoption doesn’t measure up. Many adoptive parents aren’t always good at responding, particularly when they are approached by a stranger or in the company of their children. Here is some advice for avoiding the “cringe factor” among adoptive parents:

  • Don’t say anything along the lines of “God bless you!” or “You’re an amazing person to do this.” In “Shared Fate: A Theory and Method of Adoptive Relationships” (Brentwood Bay, BC: Ben Simon Publications, 1988), author H. David Kirk found that 92 percent of adoptive parents had been called “saints” in one form or another. Adoptive parents aren’t saints for adopting, and this type of praise may make them uncomfortable.
  • Don’t use the word “real” to qualify the adoptive family relationships, as in “real” mom, “real” dad, “real” child, or “real” sibling. Adoptive parents and adoptive families are as real as a birth parent and birth families. The word “real” implies that the relationships within the adoptive family are not real. This isn’t the case. The relationships within the adoptive family are as true and as permanent as in any other.
  • Don’t say, “They’re so lucky!” This may be the top contender for cringing among adoptive parents. Like non-adoptive parents, adoptive parents consider themselves the lucky ones. They have a beautiful child to raise and enjoy
  • Don’t say one of your “own” children. Similarly, don’t ask, “Which one is yours?” or “Are they sisters?” These statements and questions can devalue the relationships within an adoptive family. They address the dissimilarities, especially within trans-racial and multiracial families. Adoptive parents know that the relationships in their families transcend blood and genetics.

When approaching adoptive parents about their family, remember these important tips:

  • The details about how the family has come together are private.
  • The adoptive parents expect you to respect their privacy.
  • These are the adoptive parents’ children.
  • Positive adoption language

Use these terms when referring to relationships within adoptive families:

  • “Parent,” “mommy,” “daddy,” “sister,” “brother,” etc., for describing adoptive family members “Birth parents,” “birth father,”
  • “birth mother” for describing the man and woman who conceived and gave birth to the child
  • “Was adopted” rather than “is adopted”
  • “Your child” rather than “your adopted child” or “your own child”
  • “Placed for adoption” or “made an adoption plan,” rather than “orphaned,” “given up,” “unwanted” or “abandoned”
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Behind the Scenes

This video is great! Not just because the commercial is a classic but also because it reveals all that it took to make it happen. The technical orchestration is amazing but pulling it off requires a lot of people working hard behind the scenes. Every time I’ve watched the commercial, I’ve never appreciated the efforts of those invisible people, yet without them there is no commercial to watch. It takes a lot of dedication and hard work on their part to pull it all together just so we can enjoy 30 seconds of fun advertisement.

Every week, I send out an adoption progress report to friends and family who are committed to supporting us in prayer. From the very beginning, Sonia and I knew that this adoption was dependent on the Lord and therefore prayer was going to be key. So we asked loved ones to join us in praying through this process with intentional precision. These 65+ people are the behind-the-scenes “crew” who are helping to make this adoption a reality. They may not be seen but their role is vital and we are overwhelmingly grateful for their support.

In 2 Cor. 1:11, the apostle Paul says, “You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.” Paul depended on the prayers of the Corinthians to help him through the trials that he faced. He knew that God’s help came through “the prayers of many.” These prayers were not just for Paul’s blessing but also that others would grow in thanksgiving as the Lord fulfilled his purposes through their intercession.

Throughout this adoption, Sonia and I are dependent on help through the prayers of others. This is not only for our blessing but also that our prayer supporters would be in greater awe of him as he answers. Every gracious response to every small but important request along the way will deepen our praise of him. So while Eden’s arrival will be a significant answer, it won’t be the only one. Her homecoming will be the consummation of months of increasing praise and thanksgiving as we have experienced the delight of our Father in answering the prayers of his people.

A special thanks to those of you who have helped us by your prayers throughout 18 email updates! I pray that your delight in the Father would abound as you continue to walk with us in this way!

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Haiti Summit

Covenant Presbyterian in Downtown Chicago

It’s been over three months since I returned from my first trip ever to Haiti. Since then, my mind has been preoccupied with the adoption, family and ministry. So, it was quite refreshing to travel to Chicago this past weekend for the Haiti Summit. The purpose was to gather the churches who have served in Haiti through El Shaddai Ministries in order to pray and plan toward the future. Although we are newbies and one of the only non-Presbyterian (PCA) churches involved, the leaders of the movement were gracious in allowing us to be a participating presence at the meeting. It was invigorating to hear what the Lord has been doing even in the short amount of time since we departed Haiti. All kinds of people, including a gang leader and witch doctor, have miraculously surrendered to Christ as Lord. God miraculously provided $60,000 to build gabions that would prevent one of the churches and schools from being swept away by the nearby river. And that project is now complete. New churches are continuing to be planted, pastors are being raised up and trained, God is moving mightily in Haiti through ESMI.

Dony with our team in February

El Shaddai Ministries International (ESMI) is a Haitian-based missions organization that plants churches, raises up leaders and serves people through evangelism, education, empathy and economic development. Brothers, Dony and Louis St. Germain started the ministry nearly sixteen years ago. Dony currently serves as the President of ESMI and was present in Chicago for the summit. We had the privilege of spending time and ministering alongside of Dony back in February. He is a godly man whom I deeply respect and have learned greatly from. Since we last saw Dony, God saved him and his wife, Sharon, from being kidnapped in the Dominican Republic. It’s a scary but miraculous story of God’s protection.

There are countless opportunities to get involved in the growing vision of ESMI for the next three to five years. Numerous new churches will be planted, a seminary/university is being built, new business ventures to help pastors and churches to be self-sustaining are on the horizon and more extensive training for Haitian pastors, house moms and medical staff is in the works. The Father’s Heart is truly active in Haiti and we want to be a part of it. Lord willing, Lifesong will send another team from our church to the area of Jeremie to assist in the planting of a new church in an area called, “Bon Bon.”

My Chicago "Mom and Pop"

Upon my return from Chicago, Sonia said I was “all lit up”. My glowing appearance may have been partly due to my oily skin that revealed all the unhealthy but scrumptious food that was consumed all weekend. But most of my “shimmer” was a reignited passion for what God is doing in Haiti. It has been such a joy not only to witness what he is doing and not only to participate in what he doing but to do so with new friends and partners in ministry. Special thanks to our surrogate “mom and pop” who hosted me and Craig while in Chicago. Our time with you, Art and Carol, was too short but precious nonetheless. We were encouraged by Ted and Ann’s leadership and fellowship. And dinner with Bob is always a special treat. Lots of laughter and joy, now with Emily as well as with her parents. Can’t wait to further partner with our Chicago and Haitian brethren in the near future as we follow the Father’s heart in Haiti.

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