Neglect to Wanted, Fear to Freedom, Forgotten to Loved – A Story of International Adoption


So gripping! So many stories of love and triumph, hope and redemption!

I keep saying the same thing over and over again this month, because honestly, I have no other words, “What an honor it is to host these stories.”

If you are new, this month we have been sharing a month full of personal adoption stories in honor of National Adoption Month.

Yet, as you read, I can imagine, it might be easy to see these stories as just words on a screen. But friends, they are more than that! To me, these stories are from people I know with faces and families, relationship and memories attached to them.

These are real people doing the grace-filled work of daily, loving children.  And the joy (and sometimes difficulty) of each of these people’s journey greatly inspires me. I hope it does you too!

If you don’t get anything else out of this series, please remember this…

  1. Those who adopt are real, every day, ordinary people just like you! You don’t have to be a superhero, or a wealthy famous person to adopt or do foster care.
  2. Everything written here is evidence of a BIG God, one who loves orphans! He is a God who steps in and moves these parents to do what they do. It is not us we write about, but ultimately Him. It is Him we give glory to!

From giving the parentless children, to using a disease to redirect family planning, to calling a family to bring home a new baby, to planting ministry along side caring for children, to foster, then adopting 11 children, to radically speaking to our hearts, our husbands, and even making the impossible possible….

Please, be clear….Orphan Ministry is a work of His hands, not ours.

And as you have read these stories, I hope you also come away with the understanding that there is not some “easy formula” for fostering or adopting.

Granted, some journey’s are easier than others, still no path to adoption is ever effortless or easy.

There is hard and loss in every adoption story. Loss for the child, loss for the birth families, and often the loss of some kind of expectation on behalf of the adoptive parents.

But joyfully, we can fix our eyes on the beauty that can come from pain. Like a butterfly struggling to break free from an imprisoning cocoon, or a warrior ripping and tearing its muscles, just to use them, making them stronger for another battle….

We are a people called to do hard because we know good often comes from struggle, God can use it, and will somehow bring glory through it.  He doesn’t waist a thing.

Oswald Chambers once said, “The Christian life is gloriously difficult, but its difficulty does not make us faint or cave in – It stirs us up to overcome.”

And this next writer? She is a powerhouse of determination and perseverance, trust and resilience, love and faithful service to the children God has put in her care.

Photo credit: Jennifer Conklin
Photo credit: Jennifer Conklin

Despite hard, no REALLY hard…Jennifer keeps looking UP and presses ONWARD!

She doesn’t stop and wallow and feel sorry for herself, taking what’s easier or throwing her hands up, saying, “I give up and retreat from this journey!”

Instead, Jennifer knows who she is and the purpose God has called her to.

And isn’t that what God desires for each of us? To walk where He calls us, unapologetically? To focus more on following Him than fear or public approval?

Jennifer hears God’s cry as He beckons in scripture…

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” ~ John 14:18

But what’s more beautiful…is not just the hearing….but that Jennifer is willing to go to the ends of the earth, give of her finances, and face her fears, to DO what He commands.

And isn’t that it? Reflecting Him, living self-sacrificially, giving, serving, loving and pouring ourselves out…

Even dying a little, daily, for the sake of the redemption of others?

Now, let’s jump into this last story in our series. Jennifer is a mom, school teacher, and a soon to be parent to her third adopted child from Chi*a.

I just know her words will touch you!

Why I adopt?
Dedicated to Matthew, Jacquilynn, and Rose

Forever broken is the status of my heart.
Thankful for my Savior who tore it apart.
He calls me to love and parent the orphan.
Daily He shows His grace and redemption.

I give up the control and let Him lead the way.
I must travel across the sea, for I can not stay.
My children are alone, unwanted and scared.
My anxieties and fears don’t even compare.

I’ll never forget the soft sound of his cry.
Or the blank stare and look in his eyes.
The smell of rotten breath and very yellow teeth.
Scratches behind his ears and shoes too small for his feet.

Once in my arms, my child will fight.
Who am I to tell him that it’ll be alright?
Night terrors and fear fill the air.
Oh Heavenly Father, this pain I cannot bear.

Trauma and neglect are the demons of her past.
Starvation and abandonment are the reasons screams last.
She was once left in the middle of the night.
Cold and alone without a parent in sight.

Once my child ignored my touch.
Bit and hit me way too much.
Refused to lay next to me.
Glared at me so that I could see.

Now today there is so much joy!
He is adored and such a precious boy.
Once she was nonverbal without any expression.
Now she joyfully sings with such a beautiful passion.

Accepting my hugs and kissing me goodnight.
Are all worth this hard and ugly fight.
Being called a mommy is the best.
It makes all hardships get put to rest.

I’ve learned a lot about adoption.
Love is a gift without expectation.
Patience and forgiveness are a must.
For God so loved the world He sent His only son for us.

I’ve gone to China twice before.
And I will go again once more.
God is good and that I know.
I adopt because He said so.

By Jennifer Conklin

Thank you Jennifer! Moving! So incredibly moving!

Did you get that? Did you taste the hard in Jennifer’s words, yet sense His grace? Did you notice the beauty laced in heading His call, trusting His lead, following where He was taking this beautiful family, sold-out for Jesus?

Difficult, but filled with His goodness and mercy! Thank you Jennifer, for being an example to us all!

Photo credit: Jennifer Conklin
Photo credit: Jennifer Conklin

Friends, we are officially done with this series, a month chalk full of posts by adoptive parents from my very own community. (If you missed any of them, please click here for the full list of stories)

But before we close, will you take a moment and pray for how God might use you?

Where has He been speaking to YOUR heart? Where might God be pulling, tugging and convicting you to step out into the foster or adoption arena?

Please don’t disappear, forget this stories, or move to something else…take some time and mediate on scripture, talk to God, and please, stop, and invite Him to personally speak to you.

Tune your ear, listen, then take one small step at a time, of courageous obedience….And I just know friends, God will use you.

Can’t you just hear Him…“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” ~ Matthew 19:14

Children are waiting. Let’s be brave and bold and fearless! Let’s love the world, like He did.

Will you let Him use your hands and feet?

(Linking with Brenda

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Jen Avellaneda

Jen is an adoptive, foster, & bio mom to trans-racial family. You can find her writing, overlooking her property, advocating for the orphan domestically and internationally, & making memories with her husband of 24 yrs.
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