Category Archives: eternal joy

Movie: Change of Plans

 

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Watching Change of Plans on YouTube brought on a myriad of emotions in me. The movie is about a DINKs (dual income, no kids) couple who are well set in their life and careers suddenly being confronted with the reality of caring for their friend’s four kids on her death, three of whom had already been adopted once by the friend. Overnight, they had to stepp into this arena, with absolutely no parenting skills and with no real understanding of trauma or appreciation for the need for stability or permanency for the children. They were forced to step into this parenting journey only because there was a sudden need but with the condition that it was an interim temporary arrangement. Not to give away too much, I’ll admit that it was a heartwarming, Hallmark-ish movie with a happily ever after ending. A rare, clean, family movie, definitely worth the watch.

Tears streamed down my face as I sat in the dark watching it as it hit so near home. My husband and I had great careers with only upward potential when we were suddenly confronted with the need for a family for a traumatized six year old child who had tragically lost his mother in Bangalore, India. We were living in NJ and working in NYC, the hub of power and success. Most of our siblings, relatives and friends had great jobs and careers and comfortable lives. Strong STEM education had led to high success jobs for most of them and it was easy to see that living the American dream was the goal all around us. If we were to do this, we would literally become the odd ones out giving up an amazing future in exchange for an unknown, broken child’s life. We had to prayerfully make the decision in one day – a decision which would literally turn the entire course of our lives upside down! One that would force us to lose the American dream and more importantly, one that would also force us to depend on God alone to provide for our every need. Even our son’s own biological relatives were unwilling to make that choice – it should have been the extended family’s  moral obligation to provide the love and safety of home and family for the newly orphaned kids.

The American Dream versus Orphan Care – a very tough choice to make! It was a decision that would throw us into a form of isolation as we now would be in a separate socio-economic strata of society too. We wouldn’t have money to go on vacations like the rest of our peers, we wouldn’t be able to send our kids with ease to private schools or for many extracurricular classes growing up, we couldn’t easily afford the cars or the lifestyle that we saw all around us. All this was a consequence of our choices! Soon after our adoption, we found our non-English speaking, traumatized son reeling. I was confronted with making the choice of giving up my budding career as a Senior Business Analyst at a large pharmaceutical company to stay home with our  son. A few years down the road, my husband had to make the choice literally overnight to throw away a blossoming career in Executive Management in the tech sector in NYC to move three thousand miles across the country to a job at Microsoft way below his level, not even in his area of expertise at less than half the salary, just so he could be more available to help our struggling kids, particularly our son who had PTSD and RAD which was devastating him and our family. My husband’s career never recovered from then on as the corporate world is always suspicious of such changes – for who would deliberately choose this downward path when climbing the ladder of success is the goal of life? It isn’t easy even today when men’s conversations automatically gravitate towards ambition, achievement, career success, as well as financial ease and comfort for their families as they move towards retirement knowing that those dreams cannot be ours.

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So, it was heartwarming to see the couple in the movie making the deliberate choice to give up significant career opportunities to joyfully care for the sibling group of orphaned kids, considering the kids’ lives worth more than their own booming careers! Yes, such major life choices can impact lives eternally! It might be a rare phenomenon in Hollywood but it can be a more common choice for a Christian family. This calling is not just for a select few but for all who are called by God’s name. James 1:27: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to care for widows and orphans in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Yet most often, by default we turn away from this and other such sacrificial, yet impactful life callings and gravitate instead towards the comfort and temporary steadiness of the American Dream!

Just like the couple in the movie, my husband and I also had absolutely no parenting skills but we had willing hearts. We had no external resources to guide us nor did we have family nearby who could teach us and support us on this incredibly difficult journey. I would often look at friends who appeared to be such amazing parents and wished we could be like them. Within a span of six months, we ended up being parents to two kids, a six year old son and a ten month old daughter. Additionally, our son was so traumatized and angry that he was constantly passive aggressive, especially with me, as he was living with PTSD and RAD. You can only imagine our parenting chaos! Our daughter was affected living with her own life losses as well as living under his trauma for years. Following in their shadows, the only life our youngest, biological daughter grew up with was trauma related living under the brokenness of her two older siblings. We struggled deeply as we often did not have the faintest idea on how to parent these kids God had entrusted us with. Again, we felt like fools for years because despite wanting to be good parents and despite sacrificing so much for these kids, even probably putting in far more effort than most of our parent peers, we were constantly failing. The first parental validation we received was fourteen years into our journey at the first Refresh Conference for Foster and Adopted Parents that we attended five years ago. We have since learned that adoption is a journey of deep loss make no it an excruciatingly hard journey with no happily ever after. Yet, our calling was to continue faithfully parenting in love, absorbing their pain and suffering on ourselves, just as God does for us. Here’s an encouraging video for parents who have chosen to be on this hard journey – You Are Not Alone! 

Change of Plans showed some of the resistance and real life struggles with the kids’ adjustment, but overall it came across as a fictional feel good movie with all problems sorted out in an hour, ending with smiles and happily ever afters. But life isn’t scripted in Hollywood. In real life, since adoption is built on real trauma and loss, it is often fueled by loss of control, anger, rage, lying, hoarding, even violence. The kids often have huge physical, spiritual, emotional and intellectual needs which require a sacrificial investment of time, energy, resources, money, etc by the parents to just keep them going. We’ve also learned that more than the best, most loving parental efforts, the life losses and suffering faced by adopted kids are so deep that only Jesus can truly fill the void in their hearts to heal and make them whole! The same holds true for adoptive parents who’ve had to lay it all down and often have to go through life without the desired parenting results – only Jesus can give us hope!

So unlike in the movie, life may not turn out Hallmark style with the happily ever after…….but God tells us that it’s still worth it to sacrificially follow in Jesus’ footsteps! Our guarantee of a happily ever after is in heaven!

The verses in 2 Corinthians 4:7-17

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies…….. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…..

Every person who has experienced adoption by their Heavenly Father can joyfully make such painful, sacrificial choices daily because they have a guarantee of eternity with all the glory and riches of life with God to look forward to for all eternity!

 

Baby, Oh Baby! Lost & Found at the Cross

Here is the transcript of my life story.

“It’s a girl!”

So began my life in a hospital located right beside a lake where unwanted baby girls were drowned, near Bangalore, India. Fortunately for me, in a country where over 50 million baby girls are missing through gendercide, my birth mother chose life! I can only imagine the horror of life as an orphan if left abandoned after birth. I was then adopted at 10 months old, just six months after my severely traumatized six year old brother. He had seen his birth-mother take her life by setting herself on fire, and suffered from severe RAD and PTSD. We were given love, family, encouragement and a future in the US with our new “forever family”, and more importantly, the hope of an eternity with Jesus.

My adoptive parents felt God’s call to adopt, as it stands as a testimony reflecting the heart of the gospel, where God adopts each one of us who repents and accepts His free gift of forgiveness through His Beloved Son Jesus’ death on the cross. Just as Christians become a part of God’s forever family, my brother and I would become a part of their “forever family”. However, my family and I faced much rejection from other Indian families and friends because orphans are deemed less valuable than their biological peers with bad “karma”.  Adoption is discouraged in Indian society.

During the teen years, my world started spinning around me as life overwhelmed me. I struggled with the primary trauma of losing my birth-mother, and the secondary trauma of living under my older brother’s severe suffering. Everyone around me seemed to have easy, perfect lives. I had many deep questions but no answers. Why would God allow me to be abandoned? Who was I? Where did I belong? What were my roots? Why couldn’t I meet my birth family?

I was angry at Jesus and at my adoptive parents, and began rebelling. Meanwhile, God in His grace miraculously touched and transformed my older brother’s life. He had suffered for eleven years, and our family had struggled much along with him. God’s touch on His life was awesome and complete. But I didn’t care. I was angry. My brother had been my ally in suffering, yet now he had left me behind. I felt like I was living a nightmare and was lost and alone. During my high school years, I didn’t even feel alive. I was functioning on the outside but was broken, hurting and alone on the inside. I didn’t know what to do and I collapsed. My brother’s engagement was the tipping point when I was done for it seemed like life wasn’t worth it as anyway, everyone I loved were going to abandon me.

My parents persisted day and night, pleading and interceding on my behalf. My Mom and Dad can tell you how many sleepless nights they spent on her knees. They had decided that I was their daughter and so they let me know that they weren’t giving up without a fight.

And as always God truly does work in mysterious ways. As of October of 2016, I rededicated and surrendered my life to Christ, and have been continually learning to love, learn and grow in him. I have learnt that I have a long way to go, but He is a God who specializes in loving us through our messes.

All of us have sinned and rebelled and fallen short of God’s glory – we are ALL spiritual orphans. God took it upon Himself to pay the price to redeem us adopting us sinful and broken as we were into His family, giving us a brand new identity as His daughters, making us co-heirs with Jesus. I hope each one of you here has believed and been adopted into His family today! If not please talk to me. With this incredible gift that we have received, He calls us to give back!

Now, If I were to ask a room of you the question, “Are you pro-life”, I am sure that most of you would raise your hand- but the numbers significantly dropped when discussing adoption or foster care. I have come to realize that being pro-life as defined by God’s standards to support the life that is created from conception to life’s final breath, and adoption plays a huge role in being pro-life.

John Piper, a well-renowned pastor and theologian states that, “Adoption in God’s mind was not Plan B. He predestined us for adoption before the creation of the world. Plan A was not lots of children who never sin and never need to be redeemed. Plan A was creation, fall, redemption, adoption so that the full range of God’s glory and mercy and grace could be known by his adopted children. Adoption was not second best. It was planned from the beginning.”

In fact in the book of Ephesians 1:4-6, it states: He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

There is no way around it. Adoption is the heart of the gospel to help love children like me in hard places become a human reflection of God’s love. Throughout scripture, God has called people to care for orphans.

So how did this translate to our own lives today?

I would really encourage each one of you to develop a culture of orphan care and adoption in your own families, but specifically adoption as it gives a child a forever home. It is one of the hardest things that you and your family might be apart of and do, but can also make an eternal difference to a child like me, who would have otherwise had no hope in both this life and in eternity.

For starters, I would encourage you to come and help in a conference  which helps give refreshment and rest to those people who have adopted and fostered children. The parents are usually on the frontlines of the battle fighting for their children with often no rest- this is a time to rejuvenate them and help them feel the love of Christ. Maybe you can sponsor a family to go, pray for them, provide them with childcare or bless them with a gift card, bag, vacation, cash, etc. Over 1500 parents attend from all around country and there is a need for over 600 volunteers to be Christ’s hands and feet to them. Or find an adoptive or foster family in your school,  church, neighborhood, co-op, or at your extracurricular activity center and encourage them with kind words, meals, housekeeping, organizing, gifting them a date night, etc. Lean towards and embrace these families not away from them because you perceive them as different. Let God show you how to care – it’s critical, it’s needed. My family would not be standing but for God using the few who loved us enough to care. And maybe, just maybe, God will then ask you to step into the world of one lost precious child whom you can call your own!

Its still a painfully hard journey and Satan tempts me to slip back into my brokenness and loss. I have a long road of healing ahead and I can come through victorious only with Jesus’ help. So, please pray for me that I will find my identity and hope in Christ alone!

As 1 John 3:1 states: See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

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The Eternal Joys of being an Invisible Mom

How often have I struggled with my role as just “Mom”. It has been hard to be invisible in a world that shouts – make sure you are visible and well known. It is hard to stay home when others are out carving their space on the road of life. It has been hard to be a trained Engineer with two Masters degrees and then to sit  with often unreasonable kids. It is hard to not see a single pay check and have to make financial sacrifices when I know I could have earned well and lived comfortably. Sacrifice is a constant. Had it not been for the fact that I know that I am right in the center of the will of God for my life, this life that I live would seem meaningless.

But knowing that God clearly called me 13 years ago to stay home and care for my children – to teach, train and bring them up in the knowledge and love of the Lord Jesus is what keeps me going. God’s Word says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” -Proverbs 22:6 and “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many…” Deuteronomy 11:18-21 Training requires the trainer to be right there beside the trainees giving up his all for the well being of the trainees – any army officer would tell us that!

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My confidence rests only in God,  knowing that this is the best choice for my children, for their eternity and for mine. When I feel invisible, alone, humanly worthless without a job and a paycheck, or when we have to make the choice not to vacation or to drive an older car, or at times when I’d rather not be around these unreasonable kids,  I am reminded that –  “God’s grace is sufficient for you, for God’s power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9  I know that though I lose many treasures on earth, I am gaining far more treasure in heaven and in that confidence I rest!

Is it easy…..no way! It is a pay-less, tiring, often frustrating job. Yet, that’s where God wants me. I often lose patience and have to ask God and my family to forgive me……yet He gives the strength and the confidence to go on. At a time when families don’t have time together, we have had the joy of spending hours together with each other and in God’s Presence.

Thank you Lord for pushing me to make a choice to be invisible by the world so that I may be commended by You and gain eternally! I pray that you will help me when I am frustrated, tired, weak and worn out. Encourage my heart to fix my eyes on You who will complete this good work that You have started in me and through me.  Please use me to build these children up to be monuments for your glory which will outlast my lifetime. Where I have failed, please compensate. Thank you for the power and the blessing that is mine as I trust and obey You.

I found this story which I hope will encourage other hearts as well.

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