Sometimes I wonder how I got here – a place where I’m being asked to speak in classrooms and churches and retreats and events, having my voice invited to share a message of brokenness, longing, awakening and redemption. It’s not what I imagined at 38. (Geesh! 38 sounded so old 10 years ago!) I’m blown away each time an email or phone call enters my day asking me to come share my story with parents, learners, on-lookers, skeptics, the curious, those in process, and sometimes, those who are really ready to listen. I’m deeply humbled and grateful, and also (just ask my husband), so incredibly thrilled! Me? Wow.
I’m so new to this huge world of adoption. I’ve only been in it for about a year, and it’s blowing my hair back! It’s filled with parents and families and advocates who are for the well-being of orphans – those whose stories have unfolded in ways that have left them without one or both of their birth parents, those whose stories have experienced relational loss so early in life, those whose stories have set them up to easily believe they don’t matter. There are hundreds of organizations and ministries who are working diligently to bring homes and families and love and hope to vulnerable lives, weakened hearts, questioning minds. They are seeking the GOOD in humanity. They are offering Jesus to the world. I celebrate that. I affirm that.
So, what is it that I’m asked to bring to this world of adoption that’s different, that adds to, what already is being done? Because there’s a lot of good that’s being done.
For me, as I cautiously and delicately step into this world as an adopted person, I have this deep sense, this calling, to share “the other part of the story.” The part of the story that also needs voice, but the part of the story that’s not so easy to talk about or look at or feel or listen to. It’s the “broken” part of the story – where the loss and trauma and fracturing and shame began. This is part of the story too. We have to know where these sweet children have come from in order to understand where they need to go – what needs to be healed and restored, where life needs to be breathed into again. What I’m finding is that this part of the story isn’t always recognized, honored or given light. But, we have to know this part of the story too. Because if we don’t, we’ll miss the chance for experiencing redemption. We’ll miss how the work of the cross can enter in and make new, heal, restore, rescue. And if we miss that, we’ll find ourselves relying on our own human strength to help these children who have come from hard places and we’ll miss the larger story of how Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted by using the brokenhearted. We may even miss seeing Jesus in this whole orphan movement.
“When you stand and share your story in an empowering way, your story will heal you and your story will heal somebody else.” Iyanla Vanzant
So, here I am – one small voice in the sea of voices resounding in our ears. My prayer is that as my voice and my message are invited into these beautiful spaces, that I will use it well – not from an angry or resentful or “you should” place, but from a place of humility, from a place of personal experience, from a place of encouragement…cheering this movement on, yet also reminding us all that we must listen to “the rest of the story” as we proclaim the Gospel – the good news – to the world.
I’m so, so grateful to be invited to speak at Summit 9 – the annual Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit in Nashville, TN. I’ll be speaking in a breakout session called, “Finding Me,” where I will share my own story and the impact that relinquishment has had in my life and how God is healing the deepest places within me. And then I was invited to be a part of an outstanding group of 9 others for the “oneBIGidea” presentations. But, here’s the kicker…my 8-minute “TED talk”-style presentation will actually be in front of the large audience on Thursday evening rather than with the others. Oh my, oh my, oh my! We’ve titled it, “LISTEN: Why we must listen to the beauty and the brokenness in every adoptee’s story, and how doing so might just change all of us.” I’ve got 8 minutes to share a message – my one big idea – that I believe every orphan advocate should ponder. Talk about insane pressure, crazy courage, and pure vulnerability! Ahhhhh! (I’m gonna need a pep talk!)
I hope you consider attending this year’s Summit. As always, it will be filled with amazing speakers and educators and artists and musicians. It’s a time where thousands will gather under one roof dreaming of ways that we can better step into the lives of children who are loveable, capable, needed, wanted…who were meant to be on this earth from the beginning of time. Everyone is invited, not just those who have adopted or who plan to adopt. This is for anyone who is up for fighting for what’s good and true.
Hope to see you there!
If you’re interested, you can follow what’s happening on the Summit BLOG.