Evie's Baby Dedication

Today we had Evangeline's baby dedication at church where we made a commitment before God and our church family to raise Evie to know Jesus. We are loved well at our church and it was a special time for us!

Evangeline Rae Oren
Born: March 28, 2011
Dedicated on October 16, 2011
Life Verse: Isaiah 52:7
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"

(Poor Evie. Her bow is not supposed to be on top of her head). 

A Letter from our Pastor to Evie...
Dear Evangeline,
It has been my privilege over these past few years to get to know your Mom and Dad as they have been attending Harvest Bible Chapel. Laura and I have greatly enjoyed getting to know your parents and you and your brother Mekonen. It really is an honor for me to be the Pastor for your whole family. 

Today, I was able to pray for you in church as your parents dedicated you to the Lord. By dedicating you to the Lord, they are promising to help you know about Jesus and learn to live for Him as you grow and mature. They chose Isaiah 52:7 as a Bible passage for you because they want you to know the good news of salvation in Christ and be a person who shares it with others. Evie, God has been good to you to allow you to be born into a family where you will always be taught that God loves you and has sent His own Son to die on the cross for you. It is my prayer that as soon as you are old enough to understand, you will accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and that you will live your life to always please Him. 

You have a lot of exciting days ahead of you as you mature and grow into a lovely young lady. Remember to be a woman of God's Word and to be careful to obey God, for He loves you very much. You really are at the beginning of a life full of adventure! I trust that through all your experiences, you will mature into a fine young woman whom the Lord will use for His service. 

Your Pastor, 
Brian White 
Jon's parents joined us for Evie's dedication. Such a blessing to have them nearby. 

What is Baby Dedication?
  • It is taken form the story of Hannah in the Bible. Hannah was barren past child-bearing years. She fervently prayed every day asking the Lord to give her a son. She told the Lord that if she did bless her with a son that she would "give him back to the Lord" and diligently raise him to love and serve God. God did just that- He blessed her with a son she named Samuel. Hannah gave him back to the Lord, teaching him to serve God all the days of his life. 
  • It is a commitment of the parents to do all that is in their power to teach their children about Jesus in hope that when they are old enough they will choose to follow Him and serve Him. 
  • It is the parents placing themselves under the humble position of accepting the guidance and direction of other Christians as they seek to nurture their children to come to know Jesus.

What Baby Dedication is Not.
  • It is not salvation. Baby dedication is not a means by which a child can go to Heaven. Salvation is an individual matter. When the child is old enough to understand that they are sinners, realize they cannot make themselves perfect enough for Heaven, and need to Jesus to forgive their sins, they then accept salvation as a gift form God, not something they earn by going to church, being born into a "Christian" family, being good, etc. 
  • It is not a means by which a child becomes part of the church- The "universal church" is simply all Christians (those who have believed in Jesus to forgive their sins) all over the world. The "local church" is the specific group of Christians that you worship Jesus with. Being part of a local church does not mean you go to Heaven, nor does it grant you any special rights. 
  • It is not Baptism. Baptism is simply a public profession of the fact that you know you are a sinner, cannot be perfect enough for Heaven, and therefore need Jesus to forgive your sins so you can spend eternity with Him. Baptism is an individual choice a person make after they have understood and accepted salvation. This happens at any time in a Christian's life, but it is usually right after a person has asked Jesus to forgive all their sins and has decided to follow Him. 
What Do You Do For Baby Dedication?
  • I imagine different church do things differently, but this is how our church does it. We take a short "class" with the director of children's ministry as they explain baby dedication and the importance of parents being the ones who teach their children about Jesus, that we as parents, have the first responsibility of pointing our children's hearts towards Jesus. It's not the job of the church, the Christian school, or anyone else. 
  • During the Sunday morning service, they called each family up with their child, announced the child, their birthdate, and read the Bible verse the parents chose for their child. 

  • Then our Pastor read 5 commitment statements that if we agreed to we answered, "we will."
  • Then our Pastor called family and close friends to come up and gather around each family to pray with them as they committed to teaching their child about Jesus. 

The 5 Commitment Statements 

  1. Do you desire to dedicate your child to the Lord and publicly commit to parenting them in a way that honors God?
  2. Do you promise to raise your child in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” through instruction and discipline that is defined by God’s Word? (Ephesians 6:4)
  3. Do you promise to lead your child to an understanding of salvation and his/her need for Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior?
  4. Do you promise to work diligently and consistently to instill in your child an understanding of God and His Word? (Deuteronomy 6:4)
  5. Do you promise to conduct your home in a way that models Christian love and heart-felt commitment to Christ and his instruction? (Psalm 127:1)


Half a Year?!?!

On September 28th, Evangeline turned 6 months old. Really? 6 months old? A half a year? Craziness. This doll baby has added so much joy to our little family and I can't imagine life without her!

And of course, the classic 6 month portrait picture. 
(It's a tad fuzzy and the color not super clear because I had to take a picture of the picture because our scanner isn't working!)

At 6 months old you are:

  • 15.8 pounds!
  • You are chewing on everything! As soon as you grab onto something it goes right into your mouth!
  • Sitting up all by yourself! (September 8th)
  • Pushing yourself from belly to sitting position (September 11th)
  • You started crawling October 10th (just two weeks after turning 6 months)
  • You continue to be all smiles. You are such a happy baby and love when people interact with you. You are so strong and able to sit by yourself and play.
You are 6 months old to the day! I love when she smiles so big that her cheeks look like they are going to bust!

  • You still love sleeping on your belly and like to fall asleep holding a little blanket up to your mouth. you don't chew or suck on the blanket, you just like putting it right against your lips and you make this little clicking sound with your tongue.
  • You giggle and giggle when we tickle you
  • You always smile when we call you Dolly Doo and when we sing your name, "Evie Rae"
  • You still love jumping in the Johnny Jumper.

  • You love to make lots of noises. You just discovered a low "growl" noise. hehe. It's so cute. 
  • You are extremely content and wake up happy. You babble and talk in your crib and chew on your feet. 
  • You had your 2nd double ear infection. Poor baby. 


Some Folks Just Don't Know Jack

We've been a transracial family now for a little over two years through adoption. Along with the incredible experiences we've had raising a transracial family, we've also come across many people who are incredibly sincere, but sometimes misinformed. We have our dear friends, the Witmers, visiting this weekend who we traveled with in Ethiopia. We laughed our heads off this afternoon, almost to the point of crying, while describing the various looks, stares, and questions we have received. Thanks Jack Black for the helpful expressions! Bet you didn't know how much your looks crossed over into the adoption world! You're the BEST! Some Folks Just Don't Know Jack!

The eager excited look. This is the person at Cosco that sees you across the store and makes a dramatic beeline for you, sometimes tripping over their own two feet in order to get to you fast enough. It often goes something like this... "I know someone who knows someone who has a friend who's sister adopted and I need to make this connection NOW!"

Because I look 12 years old... "Did some guy knock up that girl and leave her with that baby?"

"God bless you. You must be a missionary. You are doing such a good thing."

Shy. I have a question to ask but don't know how to ask. So instead I will do a double-take. Then a triple-take. Then whisper to my friend. And end with a long stare. 

Disapproving look. 

This is the stranger who knows no boundaries and stuffs their hands inside your child's curly locks yelling, "I just need to touch their hair!!!!"

Wait a second, is that her mother ?

Curious questioner. 
"Did you have to go to classes to learn to do his hair?"
"What happened to his real parents?"
"Did you HAVE to go to Ethiopia?"
"Was there war in his country?"
"Well...what kind of food will he eat?"
"Does he speak English?"

Scenario 1: The hollywood depiction of adoption. "Oh my word, she looks JUST.LIKE.ZAHARA Jolie-Pitt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Scenario 2: "Oh my word I saw a kid in a magazine that looked JUST.LIKE.MEKONEN!!!!" Me: "Oh really? Let me see. (observe picture). Oh they are both black. But that's literally it."

"That is so great of you to save that child. He is so lucky to have you."

"Now, are you sure he doesn't have______ (insert anything from mental issues in his birth family to the bubonic plague)."

Over exaggerated excitement. "Oh my word he is GOOOOORRRGEOUS!!!!!!!!! Where did you GET him?"


Some Thoughts on Transracial Adoption

My dear friend Katie is amazing. She gets me in so many ways. Jon and I have found such sweet friendship in her and her husband. They live close to us, love Jesus, care about orphans and adoption, love the church, and love the city and all it entails. We "get" each other. Sometimes that seems to be a rarity these days, so when you find it, hang on tight.

Katie wrote this blog here on birthmothers awhile back as my guest blogger. She shared with me something she wrote the other day and I just had to post it. (Katie is a pregnancy counselor for a Christian adoption agency. She works with birth mothers who are making an adoption plan for their child).

(I don't know why my text wont' line up correctly. I keep trying to fix it, and it won't work. Sorry!)

I woke up at 4am this morning and could not go back to sleep. This never happens to me. Could it be due to the fact that I am pregnant? This is definitely a factor. Could it be my anticipation for our ultrasound today? Certainly. But honestly, what was racing through my mind—that finally made me get up—was adoption. As a pregnancy counselor, there are so many things that could keep me up at night. Believe me, the kind of stress I can experience as a result of my job can be overwhelming, but rarely do I let it keep me up at night. This morning is different. This issue, though not new to me, has especially bothered me recently.

I have met with two expectant mothers this week who are ready to begin the process of
choosing a family for their precious children. This is obviously a huge part of my job, in which I take great joy. I love seeing the sovereignty of God in choosing the perfect family for not only the child, but also for the mother. But for these two mothers, I was only able to show a combined two families. One mother is having a biracial (Caucasian/African American) and the other, an African American child. In the domestic adoption process, prospective adoptive families are able to fill out a preferences form. This form explains which traits they will accept in a child. These traits may include race, possible impairments, birthparent histories, and so on.

As I gathered profiles for these mothers, I looked at each family’s preferences only to see
over and over again, “Caucasian preferred,” “Open to all white races,” or “Open to all races except full African American.” Again, this is nothing new to me. I have been doing this work for about four years now, and I see this all the time.

I respect the agency I work for more than words can say. Many of the expectant mothers that
come to us choose to work with us because of two reasons. One, they hope they will be loved and cared for as they go through this difficult process. The other, which I hear most often, is that they desire a Christian family for their child. When I explain to a mother that there are only one or two families who are willing to adopt an African American (or biracial) child, I am embarrassed and saddened. Many mothers reply, “I thought all of your families were Christian.” I realize it’s a complex issue, but to a mother who loves her child and cannot possibly understand why there would be people who do not want her child simply because of race, it seems quite simple.

As Christians, we are adopted as sons and daughters into the family of God. “But now in Christ
Jesus, you who were once far off are now brought near by the blood of Christ,” Ephesians 2:12-14. God chose us in Himself before the foundations of the world to be His children (Ephesians 1:4). He did not choose us based on anything we have done, could have done, or will do. He did it because He created us, loves us, and desires to show His glory through us. What an amazing story of adoption! This is why, as I have grown in my relationship and understanding of Christ, I desire to adopt. As Christians, the desire to adopt comes from an overwhelming desire to reflect our heavenly Father to our earthly children. God has adopted a diverse family, as the church is made of members of many tribes, tongues and nations. When we are open to adopting transracially, we are reflecting the family of God!

I acknowledge many families are concerned that adopting an African American child may not be accepted by society, their community, their family, etc. What if you had a biological child born with a disability and the child was unaccepted by others? Wouldn’t you do everything you could to educate those around you and advocate for your child? While being African American is certainly not a disability, the love you would feel for your child would not be limited by the behaviors and ideas of those around you. There have been times when I couldn’t present a single family to an expectant mother who is having an African American child. This does not reflect the heart of adoption or the heart of our Father who loves us and went to tremendous lengths to bring us into His family.

It has been awesome for me to watch families overcome barriers to transracial adoption. Many
families have been concerned about how grandparents would react to a child of a different race being brought into the family. In fact, many grandparents have voiced their opinion that it is wrong or that they will not accept a child of a different race. In many circumstances, these are the same grandparents who melt at the sight of their African American grandchild. The passion and love parents have for their children is greater than most people can understand. Whether through adoption or biology, this kind of love transcends race, age, culture, physical and mental needs, and so much more. Would you be willing to stretch yourself to experience this kind of love even for a child that may look different than you?