Opening Our Arms Wide, and Wider Still

Just when I least expected it, we got an email from Little Man’s first mother.  As I was writing about my own sadness yesterday, and thinking of my friends who share this sorrow, and I was also thinking of Little Man’s first mother.  We hadn’t heard from her in a long time and I was worried.  Was she even alive?  I prayed that we would hear from her, but I’ll be perfectly honest and admit that I didn’t think it would happen any day soon.

God really answered, and quickly, too!  This morning Russ checked his email, and there was a message from a friend of M’s asking us to reply.

I immediately sat down at the computer, edited a few photos from the recent, “You’re about to lose your first tooth and won’t look like my baby anymore” photo shoot, and sent them off to her.  I hope we hear back from her soon.

I never anticipated adopting a child who had a living parent, and it has been complicated for me on many levels, but that is the story we all share.  We love Little Man, and we care deeply for his mother.  Like all adoptive mothers, I don’t quite know how to forge a relationship with her, but I’m opening myself wide to love and hope.  I know she loves Little Man so very much and I want her to know that she is not forgotten.  We welcome her to share his life.

When we adopt children, we must open our hearts and arms wide, and then wider still.

There is no fear in love.

Have a great weekend, friends.  Thanks so much for reading.

Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

0 Comments

  1. @mkgivler
    March 30, 2012

    He is the cutest kid on the planet! I hope you hear back from her soon.
    Mimi

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 30, 2012

      Pretty much! I adore him, even if he did just come in the house covered in mud. It's been a long morning and it is only 11:00. I hope we hear too; I'll let you know. Love you.

      Reply
  2. berjiboo
    March 30, 2012

    I love the photo of him jumping over the puddle!
    Have you told him anything about his birth mother? Has he asked?- Just curious how you navigate that aspect of your/his story.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 30, 2012

      We've talk about his "Ethiopia Mommy" since he was tiny and he asks about her sometimes. At his age, it is confusing for him, so we explain it in simple ways knowing he'll understand more as he grows older. Today when I told him about her email, he said, "I want to be a baby again. I want to be in her tummy." I hope and pray for the day when they can see each other again.

      Reply
  3. Wendy
    March 30, 2012

    I imagine the reasons that caused you to think you'd never adopt a child with a living parent are the very same reasons you're particularly suited and equipped to do it so well. I see you, my friend – arms wide open, twirling in His grace. Love and miss you.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 30, 2012

      Wendy, I know you are right. I remember when we found Little Man's birthmother and my heart was so broken for her. At the same time, my commitment to her was, and is, fierce. I love and miss you, too.

      Reply
  4. Kemery
    March 30, 2012

    Oh you know how much I understand what you say here. The sorrow M feels cannot be glossed over with photos of happy children in America, well fed and dressed and "better off". I have always admired the way that you not only recognize and accept that fact, but in both heart *and action* work to heal the wounds. From small things to overarching issues, you never forget the *whole* story and all the people involved. Loves to you, my friend. It's a wonderful thing that your voice is being heard by many.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 30, 2012

      K, I learned so much from you. I'm in your debt. Thanks for the comment; I miss you!

      Reply
  5. Traci
    March 30, 2012

    God's timing always blows me away. What a sweet blessing to be able to communicate with Little Man's birth mom. We will send pictures of our daughter to our agency in Ethiopia and hope that her birth mother gets them.

    Reply
  6. Lisa Qualls
    March 30, 2012

    Traci, I feel extremely blessed to have direct contact with Little Man's birthmom. I hope your daughter's birthmom gets the reports and photos; I'm sure it will mean the world to her.

    Reply
  7. Anna
    March 30, 2012

    "There is no fear in love"
    Thank you!!!
    I needed to hear that. We have an email relationship with our boys' family and would be interested in meeting them someday… if it's best for the boys. It's hard not to fear something like that! Thank you for sharing!!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 30, 2012

      Anna, I've been thinking of you! I would love an update if you have time. Thanks for adding your thoughts.

      Reply
  8. Melinda Muir
    March 30, 2012

    Dear Lisa,
    A friend of mine emailed me your blog and I have been following for about 2 weeks. I want to tell you that this blog you did today hits me hard as we have just adopted twins from the foster system and it has been a long 4 years. It has been a year since we adopted them but let me tell you God has me opening my heart and mind wider then I could have ever dreamed and heres why: One year ago this month my son was diagnosed with mild CP and I was very angry with her well I went to the mountains for my big kids to snow ski and my twins and I were going into town as my sone had a cast on because we were stretching his leg to get ready for his brace well God put them to sleep by the time I got into town and so I just kept driving and God told me I needed to go to her mother to mother and that I needed to stop being mad at her but to just love on her and I told God this is not in my plan and he said that it would be okay and that I needed to do this. Well about a week later she found me on FB and I paniked and God kept telling me you need to do what I have asked you to do well about 6 months later I am finally doing what he has asked me to do and he is blessing me in a big way. We have had a family reunion at Christmas and mom and I get together once a month and for the kids birthday we are doing a huge party with their bio family. But heres the funny part God took us to the same church as their bio family goes to. I know it is hard to be stretched by God but it will be fine. Our kids bio family lives in the same town as us for you they are across the ocean But I am telling you if you let it happen God will bless like you have never seen before. God bless you on this venture as you travel it you and you son and your family will be in my prayers as you take this journey. You can contact me if you would like to talk about this journey I will be more then happy to hold your hand through it. My email is melindaskids@pobox.com

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 30, 2012

      Melinda, thank you for sharing your story with me, and with all of us. What an amazing testimony to God's ability to speak clearly to us and the blessings of obedience. I know it will be more complicated to "do life" with your children's birthfamilies, but hard can be good, and we simply cannot live and parent out of fear. We need to rest and trust in the one who loves our children even more than we love them. Blessings upon blessings.

      Reply
  9. Sharon
    March 30, 2012

    "When we adopt children, we must open our hearts and arms wide, and then wider still. There is no fear in love."—LOVE this!

    Our family was just in Ethiopia and we were all able to spend time with our daughter's birth family. It was so, so rich. Like you, I never intended to adopt a child that had a living parent (in fact, that's one of the reasons we chose int'l adoption in the beginning), but we have learned and grown and loved even more than we realized was possible.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 30, 2012

      That is so great, Sharon. I just looked at your blog and see that you were in Soddo. That is where Eby and LIttle Man are from and we have been there twice! I plan to go back and read your posts. Thank you for the comment.

      Reply
  10. peaceliving
    March 31, 2012

    I'm glad you wrote this…we are in the process of fost adopt and have (shaky) relationships with both of our foster daughter's parents. It's good to know that it's possible to maintain and build these, and that nobody really knows the "right" way how to do it. We just keep plugging along.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 31, 2012

      I'm so glad it was helpful to you! Like all relationships, our relationships with birthfamilies will ebb and flow and develop at their own pace. You're right, there is no "right way", but I'm so glad you are willing to make it happen. I know as a birthmother, I would have been deeply thankful for any degree if relationship with my son's parents.

      Reply
  11. Jenny
    April 2, 2012

    I was emailed your blog by a friend and I just have to say it has been such an encouragement! Thank you for pouring your heart in such a way!

    As a foster parent I have the task of working and communicating frequently with birth parents. The kids I have now were mistreated so terribly that when I got them they behaved more like animals than children. I ask God often to break my heart for the parents and to give me a passionate love for them. Sometimes this is even harder than raising these very difficult children. However, God is faithful and just when I feel I'm about ready to scream at them, the Holy Spirit reminds me, they are acting how they've been trained. They weren't patented well and they have addictions that make things even worse. God loves the parents every bit as much as every other child He created. Jesus died for them too and He desperately wants to redeem them.

    God is so faithful to give me a heart for difficult people when I ask for Him to give me His eyes and heart. Yes, I still get frustrated and sometimes downright angry, but our Father is so faithful to bring me back to His heart for all people.

    Thanks for loving your children AND their birth patents how you do. It's such a wonderful testimony and I'm grateful you shared it.

    Reply
  12. Karen
    April 2, 2012

    We have learned through our own foster/adoption experiences that it is best for our children to have a connection with their birth parents – at whatever level is possible or best for their situation. Our fear might tell us we could lose them, but the fact is they love and trust us even more. I love your statement "There is no fear in love," and there can never be too much love, either. Our children's birth parents love them, and it is wonderful for our children to know that. God has blessed us to learn so much through our children!

    Reply

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