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Run the Race: An adoption story

I know some of you mommas and daddies are in the trenches today. Building a family through adoption has more than its fair share of challenges and it can overwhelm and consume your spirit. Honestly, when you’re really in the thick of it, it can downright paralyze you. So let me take a few moments of your time today. I’ve got a story to share with you. A story steeped in struggle and despair. A story that ends in triumph.

Eight years ago we brought our beautiful Ethiopian baby boy home and grafted him securely into our family, we went from a family of four to a family of five and it was pure, sleepless bliss. We immediately began paperwork to adopt from China, understanding that the wait would be long again and our desire to grow to a family of six was strong. God spoke to us so much during that waiting time and changed our hearts greatly regarding the health and age parameters we checked off. In the early morning hours, as I scoured waiting child profiles, I saw a little girl who had waited far too long, almost six years, for a family to recognize her as their own. And as God does he called us to a wonderful yes in making this little girl a part of our family. This darling little girl had eyes as blue as the ocean, she was blind. We knew nothing of blindness or how to serve her best at that time, but we would learn… and honestly that part would be easy.

(Our first outing in China)

The next two years would be overwhelmingly difficult as Lola learned to trust us as her family. There was so much hurt, so much trauma and she truly didn’t understand the concept of a family. This period carries a lot of darkness and much of it remains a struggle that we don’t share publicly.

In Lola’s fourth grade year a flyer was sent home for Cross Country. In an effort to help Lola discover a sport that she could excel in, I signed her up. I had read about guide runners and thought surely we could find one easily and Lola could compete and find her place in athletics. I’m a huge believer in youth sports and how important they are to the development of children. Finding a consistent guide runner that Lola could trust became a huge challenge. It’s hard to expect a volunteer to train with a child and be available for events on the weekend. Additionally, ensuring our connection wasn’t hindered by another person in our life was an issue. As I searched my brain for a solution I realized that the best guide runner was… me. I had other motives as well, I was after a creative way to connect with my daughter who still wasn’t all that sure about me. 

Lola is now in the 6th grade, middle school Cross Country is highly competitive and she has a natural ability to run. I have been able to continue as her guide runner, despite my older legs and limited time to train. This year she had several top ten finishes and we began a new method of running hard together until just before the finish line. I could tell as the season moved forward that she wanted to finish on her own. And man, when I really thought about that in reference to life it just about knocked me over. Here I am, paving the way for her, training with her, running every step with her and as we approach I have to let go and shout “keep running straight!”

It’s possible, and it has happened, that she can lose some speed when I let go. She can also veer off in the wrong direction. A lot can go wrong when I let go because she can’t see what’s in front of her. But she KNOWS what’s possible if she takes what she’s learned and experienced and runs straight ahead. When she does that, she makes it on her own. The end of a race is ugly, you’re depleted, thirsty and often times in pain… but that’s when you empty out what you have and finish strong. (How many parents are feeling that way RIGHT NOW?)

With adoption we fight a little harder for our kids. There are some extra miles we run with them. But man, if we are consistent, if we don’t give up, if we look for the most creative ways to connect and empower… eventually we can let go for a second and watch them fly. I don’t know what you’re going through today, I don’t know where you are on this journey… but our kids have so much potential locked away inside and with God’s grace we can equip them to find it and use it. Never give up, your race might look different than mine, but I’m cheering you on from afar KNOWING that a strong finish is possible.


If you are interested in learning more about children currently waiting for families click here to learn more and view waiting child listings.

Images courtesy of “The Running Bison”  a site dedicated to the captured moments of Station Camp Cross Country athletes.



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