healing…a two-way street.


“Nothing that’s hard or “bad” for adoptees takes away from what’s beautiful or “good” in a parent’s choice to adopt. Nothing.”


Oh, my heart!

I’ve just returned from a weekend spent with 450 beautiful mamas at the Created for Care retreat. Some had adopted, some were waiting to adopt, some came just to support their friends. Lovely, inspiring, challenging, raw, surprising, healing, holy.

Profoundly holy.

I entered into that space a bit weary and looking forward to restoring the parts of me that have become so drained and rugged and discontent, all the parts where love has felt so absent, so depleted.

For those of us who were planning and speaking and leading breakout sessions, we had been praying for all the hearts that were going to enter the gorgeous Legacy Lodge. We asked God to speak to us about what he wanted to share with each woman, knowing that he knew exactly what each person needed. We asked God to breathe new life into each soul, refreshing the places that felt lonely, fearful, inadequate, angry, shameful, worn. We asked God to send his Spirit into each corner and crevice that may be hiding from him, numbed out to him, felt forgotten by him. And he did.

He loved BIG.

I got to see and experience God cover that room…with his love, with his grace, with his mercy, with his forgiveness, with his peace, with his truth, with his shalom. With himself.

Oh, my heart!

I stepped into that space having been invited to represent the heart, the voice, the story, of the little ones not in that room, but yet who were so present in that room. Over 1,000 little souls who were home or on their way home. Over 1,000 little souls who bring so much beauty, so much brokenness, into the lives of each family they are welcomed by.

I was up for the invitation, but to be honest, I wasn’t sure if all those mamas would be up for what God had called me to share. That’s a scary feeling, especially when you know that all those mamas were coming to feel encouraged and equipped and empowered, not jolted or disoriented or challenged. That’s a risky feeling when as an adoptee you desperately want to feel accepted and approved of and liked. That’s a vulnerable position to be in when you know that all those mamas were coming to find assurance and affirmation – that what their Creator had called them to do was right…for them, for their children, for their families, for him.

So, I had to trust…that what God called me to share, my voice, was exactly what I was supposed to offer. And so I did. Unnerving, unsettling, unbelievably frightening!

I don’t know exactly how God will use my voice, my message, my heart, (trying to let that go), but I do know how God is already using the weekend, the conversations, the lyrics, the voices, the love in those mamas…for me.

I never expected that part of my healing could come from the adoption world itself.

I never expected to feel affirmed and embraced and loved through other adoptive mamas.

I never expected the longing and desire and love that adoptive mamas radiate for their babies to connect with my own longings to feel wanted and needed and loved.

I never expected that this one adoptee’s voice would be invited out in such unique ways, and then in return find healing because of what God is doing in other family’s lives, through their stories.

I never expected that having people truly “listen” and respond to the impact of relinquishment and abandonment on an adopted person’s mind and heart would bring a more solid, stronger, securer sense of self.

I never expected that God would turn my words into your words for your children into his heart about how he sees me. (You may have to read this one again!)

But he did…and I’m in awe.

I feel tender, open, moved. I feel ready…for more of him, more of his BIG love, more of his deep healing. And I know it will come because I’m giving myself a little more permission to let go…of her, of him, of what happened. As my hands slowly let go, I feel them opening, little by little, receiving more love, deeper connection, with those who are ready to love and connect with me, especially my husband and my babies.

Oh, my heart!

It’s still raw and bleeding and being gutted out, yet at the same time, it feels more free, more brave, a little more gutsy, ready…to trust. Again. Differently. Wholeheartedly.

Oh, mamas…the ways in which you offered yourselves last weekend, your presence, your posture, it was deeply moving and incredibly healing for this one in a million adoptee. I write with tears and say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you….for listening.” I feel humbled and blown away that God would take my words, my voice, my ache, my fear, my story, and use it to be helpful, even if it was just a little bit, in your journey, your child’s journey. And, please, please know that your words, your voice, your ache, your fear, your stories…they brought SO much to me too. It feels like a two-way street, like this natural and fluid giving and receiving. It feels full circle. It feels like we’re in this together. It feels hopeful.

And, it for sure feels WAY different from last year’s C4C retreat when I snatched a piece of decadent cheesecake and snuck back to my room to hide! I’ve come a long ways, mamas! Get ready, March 2013 women! Can’t wait to meet/re-meet you!

So, to ALL of us, may we remember and “listen” to God’s voice, “Where have you come from? Where are you going? I see you.” We have to name what we’re running from and leaving and fleeing in order to know where we’re going, running to. Because where we’ve been, where we’re going…it matters. It’s seen.

Big Korean adoptee Michigan hugs and love to ya’ll!

PS – Would love to hear about your C4C experience too. Feel free to post your blog posts in the comments or on my Facebook page!

PSS – If you have some great pictures to replace these IG ones, email them to me!


“Healing is in Your Hands” (Amazing worship by Candi Shelton)


“Adoption from Both Sides” (a conversation between an adoptive mom and an adoptee)


Ummm…I may have stopped chatting and started preaching. Oops!


The new “Charlie’s Angels” (with Amy Monroe & Andrea Young)



20 thoughts on “healing…a two-way street.

  1. Carissa it truly was a gift to hear your words. Thank you so much. We chatted briefly after your couch talk with Amy but you may not remember. I have little ones – both about 5 months old when they came home from Ethiopia. Your words had such an impact on my heart. They are still quite small but even now I am making a more conscience effort to “listen” to what their actions are telling me while they are still too young to have words. Thank you for opening my eyes even wider and my heart even deeper. You are loved.

    I shared a bit about what it was like for me to stand up during my breakout session and share about infertility, loss, and adoption. If you care to read: http://www.laurencasper.com/2013/01/31/standing-in-front-of-you/

    can’t wait to hug you in March!!!!

    • oh, lauren! my heart! thank you so, so much for sharing your experience. i totally remember you…and your lovely hair! what a gift your voice and story and tears and hope were to those women. wow! it’s amazing to “grieve” in front of an audience, but i trust with you that it is good and healing and restorative. and yes, part of the redemption process too! thank you for battling through your fear and allowing God to use you in profound ways, even the ways you’ll never know. can’t wait to hug you in march too!

  2. Your blog is brand new to me, so I hate to come on too strong, but I really don’t understand the quote at the beginning of your post. I just can’t reconcile it. Would you mind elaborating?

    • this “quote” came to me as i was talking about all the hard and broken and fractured pieces in an adopted person’s story, because loss came so early for us, and the impact of that loss sent us messages, messages that easily turned into lies about how “good” we are (e.g. “i am too much/not enough” and “i don’t feel wanted or loved or needed”). so, in the midst of spilling out all the “hard” and “bad” in my/our “relinquishment/abandonment” stories, i wanted the adoptive mamas i was speaking to that evening to know that their decision to adopt and all the gifts in their process and outcome was still true and “good,” yet it’s only “part” of the story that needs to be told. i hope that’s helpful. i’m always open for “strong” feedback 🙂

  3. Oh my most PRECIOUS;) friend! How thankful I am for your heart, your voice…your deep love for Him and your courage. I love how He brought you into my life…and I’m just so thankful and excited to have you as a friend to walk with. Love you!!!

  4. It was a great blessing to hear your thoughts and to listen to you bare yourself to all of us. I do not take it lightly. What an extremely bold thing to do! God is using it in mighty ways. The insight of both sides to each story is the most valuable gift people can have. I don’t want to miss a thing. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

    • thank you choosing to live with arms and eyes and ears and heart wide open! thanks, too, for being a part of a space and audience where bearing my soul felt safe. grateful.

  5. Carissa, I felt privileged to hear you share and so very much appreciated the courage it took for you to share with such vulnerability. It is a gift to us adoptive mothers and I know that God is using you to bring healing in families. You are a gift!

    • thank you, beth. so grateful to have safe and encouraging and prayerful women like you as i step out, gradually, into an unfamiliar world. affirming your voice, too, and how you’re offering it to the world!

  6. I am very excited to ¨re-meet¨ you in March! What a wonderful connection God has made between you and all of us adoptive mamas. I am truly grateful for your bravery and heart. Cannot wait to hear what God gives you to share in a little over a month! 🙂

    • yes! humbled to be part of the “connection”! thanks for being a supporter and encourager and cheerleader as i find words to share my heart to all these mamas, in ways that are gentle and inviting and joining.

  7. Carissa,
    Thank you for giving me a glimpse of what my daughter may experience. You are such a necessary voice right now for me and I am so grateful to have heard you at C4C. Thank you for being so open and honest. Your words were so heartfelt. Thank you for being so honest with us and willing to share what God gave you.

    • thank you for being willing to listen…to the deep places within your daughter. you are a gift to her. eager to see how your listening will give her “voice” and help her find more of her voice, more of her heart.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing an adoptee’s heart. (I talked to you briefly before your racism in America breakout session…not sure if you remember me) As an adoptee AND an adoptive mama I am two parts of the triad. Pain, abandonment, longing, joy, peace, fulfillment…such a crazy juxtaposition of emotions in my heart. I will say that I feel so blessed to now have an open adoption with my birth mom (we reunited when I was 29) and that my son has a “wide open adoption” with his birth family–hopefully this will promote healing in both of our hearts.
    Anyway, SO long-winded, sorry. What I wanted to say was just simply: thank you. Thank you for sharing your heart and for telling others how us adoptees feel.

    • humbled to give “voice” to other adopted persons. i love that the process of finding more of me has given others permission to name and reclaim parts of them. grateful for the ways you are entering into the adoption triad. may you experience deep healing, profound joy, true connection.

  9. Carissa, thank you so much for “re-sharing” this post. I really wish I would have been more articulate seeing you in person – your message spoke volumes to me not only as an adoptive mother, but as the wife of an adoptee as well. I realized that the small voice my husband had when we first talked about adoption, the one where he said he wanted to see a piece of himself in our home, was something I should have NEVER disregarded or overpowered. I realized that even though I hold my 2yo son’s story very close to my vest, I have disrespected my husband’s privacy through his story for nearly 12 years. I realized that those little remarks when he tries to make light of his past need a place in our home that is nurturing and safe. THANK YOU for opening my eyes to his struggle, to my son’s upcoming battles. What my husband has trouble articulating, you were able to speak in poetic prose, and I deeply appreciate that you were willing to share your heart. I came to C4C eager to jump back into the adoption process, and left knowing that I need to offer more voice to my better half and discuss our options for biological children, his original plan for creating our family. I may have never fully understood his pain had we not adopted at all, and I can’t imagine the subliminal undercurrent of hurt that might have been present in our home without this experience. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you, from a fellow Michigander.

    • fellow michigander…your insight into more of your better half touches me. thank you for allowing your heart to connect with more of his heart. he needs that. you need that. your son needs that. and i SO believe that God is smiling. and cheering you on. and paving the way. and giving you exactly what you need. right now, in this next season of your family’s journey. i hope i get to hear how this will change you all. love from the hand shaped like a hand!

  10. Pingback: Redemption: Stories to be told « Summit 9

  11. Pingback: Created for Care: Our Story: A Place for Beauty and Brokenness | Our Story

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