Monday, November 10, 2014


From Beth:

There are so many sweet blessings tucked away in adoption. So many unexpected moments of beauty. 

Our youngest daughter loved to play with dolls and could spend hours playing house, but her two older sisters were not as interested. So when Kristina came home at age 10 it was especially sweet to see the two of them disappear into a closet or hidden corner to play. Julia had found the sister she had been missing all this time--the older sister who liked to play the way she did! 
Julia on the left, Kristina on the right

As I said, it was one of those many unexpected gifts God put on display for us as we journeyed through this wonderful reality that is adoption. 

One day Stephen and I peeked into the bedroom and heard the strangest thing. We didn't want them to see us. You know how that is--when you have two children playing happily the last thing in the world you want to do is put an end to it! And we were about as stretched thin as we could stand trying to make the adjustment to adding two older children into our family. Makes me tired just thinking of it! 

So, we quietly stood at the door and listened to the most precious sounds. The two new sisters were playing dolls and Kristina, who didn't speak English was jabbering away to Julia. Julia, who didn't speak Russian, was replying back. Both were completely engaged; neither frustrated with a lack of communication. Then we'd hear sweet Kristina throwing in some English words she'd picked up. And Julia mixed in some of the Russian words that had begun to be familiar in our home. 

We called it Russglish, and they played in that language for many months. 

This is what adoption does to a family. It changes all of you. It pulls on each member to yield and morph and grow and adjust. We are not the family we would have been had we not adopted, as surely as our adopted children are not the people they would have been had they not become Templetons. 

I am deeply thankful to our God who does not leave any of us the way we are, always calling us forward into new places of growth. I want to be as open to change as those two little girls were, willing to change the language of my life so that it communicates more accurately His love. Adoption has been doing that work in our families, as I imagine it is doing in yours as well.

Friday, November 7, 2014


From Beth:

"Do Not Be Afraid!"--it's all over the bible, from beginning to end, persistent and compelling. It's like God is saying to me, "No really Beth. Do you hear? I am serious-- do not be afraid. Yes, I get it. There are some scary realities, but I'm not backing down on this one." 

The words somehow feel like more of an invitation than a demand, more like a comfort and a promise. From Genesis (15:1) where God appears to Abram in a vision and tells him, "Fear Not," to Revelation (1:17) when Jesus appears to John with "Do Not Be Afraid," we see scenario after scenario where we are given this comforting command. 

Our adoption journey has helped me to understand why all these people needed to hear some version of "Don't Be Afraid," for God's ways are scary! His ideas and vision for us are so extraordinary, so "out there," that fear is almost always  part of my human reaction. And adoptive parenting has provided oh so many opportunities to fear! 

How kind of our God to command and comfort, to demand and invite, all at the same time! He leads me out of my fearful state, for He has places for me to go with Him. And He is wanting me to bring my children along too! 

I remember my fears when God first called us to adopt. I'm sure many of you relate to my fear-filled what ifs--what if we didn't hear God accurately, what if we don't have what it takes, what if the children we feel God is calling us to don't actually come home, what if our finances or paperwork don't come through, what if our children already at home are damaged, what if I can't be the parent my children need, what if they have serious issues I can't handle, what if things turn out really "badly," ........??? 

That list could go on and on, right?! 

But then there is His voice directing me, "Beth, don't be afraid. Don't let these possibilities intimidate you." 

And do you know what reason He gives for us not to be afraid? Have you ever noticed? Almost always God tells us not to fear because He is with us. 

Fear asks, What If?  Love asks, Who With?

He doesn't tell us that He will make it so we avoid all things that frighten. No. But He does, over and over throughout the scriptures, tell His people that whatever it is that frightens them will never be bigger than His awesome presence with us. 

I love what Moses tell the Israelites as they face the many obstacles of entering the Promised Land,

Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you. (Deuteronomy 31:6 MSG)

How good is that?! God strides ahead AND is right there alongside. This is who I've known Him to be to me throughout the 16 years since He spoke to us about adoption. 

Always ahead. Always with. Always greater.

And you know, He truly has never let me down. I see how He has walked with me as I have parented our children, continually calling me to fearless parenting, commanding that I not parent my children out of my fears for their future-- for what life will look like for them if they don't attach well, or if they don't learn to trust, or if they don't receive the healing from all the abuse and rejection of their pasts. Yes, apart from God's love, which truly does cast out all fear (1 John 4:18), I can justify some fear in my parenting approach. But in the context of His love for me and His love for my children, there is no place for fear. 

So my friends, the next time your child rages for hours, or can't sleep at night, or continues to hoard food, or seems unable to look you in the eyes or receive your hug, or lies, or........ hear Father God commanding you to Fear Not! 
For He is with you. 
He is with your child. 
He is faithful. 
God, today I release my fears for my child to You once again. I want to be a fearless parent! May Your perfect love for me and Your perfect love for my child drive all fear from our relationship. Amen. 

Monday, November 3, 2014


From our friend Gina McCarn. We very much appreciate hearing about the realities foster parents face. May we all see the beauty in the mess!!

Perhaps one of the most beautiful messes is foster care. I became a foster mom 21 months ago. We are still in our very first placement with two little boys. Our family has grown to 5 children ages 3-11. The joy this has brought me as a mother is unexpected to me. I expected to provide care, both physical and emotional, to these little boys.

I did not expect to fall head over hills in love with them. I prayed the LORD would break my heart for them and give me the desire to fight for them and love them as much as the children that shared my body for nine months. 

I did not expect that sometimes I would forget I did not give birth to each boy. Sometimes when the older one asks me questions about him being a baby, I have to remind myself that I didn't know him as a baby because I can easily picture what he was like. I know him that well. He's lived with me for 21 months. I have rocked him to sleep. I have cried with him. I have played trains with him. Phil and I were there when he learned to ride a bike and write his name. We have cleaned up boo-boos and disciplined with love and truth. We have blown out birthday candles with him. I walk him to the bus each morning. I recently surprised him with a Captain America costume. I am watching him learn to read. I listened as he asked Phil to help invite Jesus to live in his heart. I dream of his future. I pray for his wife. He and I dream about him being a daddy just like Phil. We try to guess what he's gonna look like at age 20. I imagine he will be a much bigger version of this current 5-year-old boy sitting at the kitchen table gulping down homemade food while I sort out his laundry from college. These little boys are woven into our family. 

I don't even hesitate anymore when people ask me about my children. I answer without thinking. "I have 5 kids. 4 crazy, stinky boys and 1 beautiful princess".  

However, there is so much more to the story of how the McCarns became a family of 7. These sweet faces joined our family out of significant loss. In the early days of them joining our family, I also didn't expect how much my heart would break for their mom. Milestones pass. They are growing. They are learning. She is missing all of this. Recently I  sat in our youngest's bedroom floor after tucking him in for the night. He's officially been with us longer than he was elsewhere. I was struck with heavy grief for him. Where is his mom? Is she okay? Does he remember her, what she looks like, what she sounds like? I try to keep her memory vivid for both boys. Her picture hangs in their room.  We guess together that the youngest must have her sense of humor. The older boy must have her fast legs. They both have her intelligence. They both have her contagious smile. 

We don't know how this journey will last. Phil and I started with anticipation and the hope that a family could be reunited. I had so much compassion for their mom. I believed she could do this and get her kids back. I would often tell people that this was going to take time and that we needed to be patient. 

Even my patience has grown weary because I want answers!  The LORD so gently reminds me that his timing is perfect. He is not restricted by time. The LORD reminds me these are His children. He doesn't need us to write this story, but He has chosen us. We must be patient and let everyone do their job. No stone should go unturned. No effort should be dismissed for the sake of efficiency. We must trust the LORD has gone before every court case, family visit, and appointment that comes our way. I need to trust Him and His promises. Each day, I choose to remember that there is a mom that gave birth to them that also had dreams and hopes for them.  

It would be so easy to judge her and think that she and I are so different, including our sins, but they aren't different. We both have sins. I can look somewhat heroic because I am cast in the kind light of a foster mom. Her sins may look uglier and more grievous because of the mistakes she's made. However, judgement of a mother is not what we were asked to do as a foster family and the goal of foster care is ultimately reunification of the family. 

We were asked to stand in the gap and help with a need while a mother needed grace, assistance and patience.   

Whether we pack the boys' bags to go home, or they become McCarns forever, I want to be able to look them in the eyes knowing we did everything we could to fight for their family. 

I did not expect to love these boys the way we do. 
I did not expect to see so much of my own brokenness along the way. 
I did not expect the mess. 
I did not expect their case to take this long. 
I did not expect my children to love these boys so much. 
I did not expect the compassion and sadness I feel for their mom, but the LORD did. 

He expected all of it. 

He calls us into the mess and shows us beauty through unexpected, unimaginable ways. 
He invites us to follow HIM with details missing and sometimes without an end in sight. 
He loves us through each step. 
He's there meeting us even when our answers are not His desires. 

When we look for His fingerprints, we find beauty in the mess.