There is a Season

Most of you probably know that for the past three years, I have been employed as the Children’s Ministry Director of our church.  Three years ago, fresh out of college and eager to work in full-time ministry, getting this job was a dream come true.  I can’t even put into words all that I have loved and learned from this position – so much so that I am not even going to try.  It is a job that has brought me joy, tears, and everything in between more times than I can number, and I am incredibly grateful and blessed for all it has brought to me.

But, in the words of the wise King Solomon … for everything, there is a season.  And after much prayer, discussion, and many sleepless nights, I have come to the conclusion that this season has come to an end.

Image: joiseyshowaa via Flickr/Creative Commons

Image: joiseyshowaa via Flickr/Creative Commons

This decision was not an easy one,  and because many of you who are following our journey are members of our church family, I want to share with you how we came to this decision.   A lot of the reasoning will touch on things that we will be talking about in more detail as we near the completion of our adoption, so stay tuned for more exciting info down the line!

First of all, it is important to know that this decision was made 100% as a result of our adoption.  Actually, for much of the beginning stages of our adoption process, we anticipated that I would take a long leave of absence for the duration of our long trip to Europe (roughly two months) and for the initial weeks/months of being home with our new son.  After that, we expected that I would return to work on some sort of modified basis.  However, as we went through the education process that comes with preparing for an adopted child, we realized that for me to continue working would not be in his best interest, or in the best interest of our family – purely out of the nature of adoption.

Let me explain.

The completion of the adoption is just the start of the long road that will lie ahead for our family.  That road is called …

ATTACHMENT.

 For a child who has been in some form of institutional care since birth (like Baby W), the concepts of “family” and “parents” are often totally foreign.  Kids were meant to be born into loving, caring families where they grow up with these concepts ingrained into them, feeling safe, secure, wanted, and cherished.  Adopted children were not given these basic needs that are key to healthy development, appropriate relationships, and a right sense of self-worth and security within a family.  Whereas being loved as a part of a family comes naturally to most kids born and raised in their biological family, these concepts must be actively and intentionally taught to an adopted child who have never experienced them before.

Basically, we have to teach Baby W what it means to be a part of a family.

A key part of the attachment process is establishing the type of trusting relationship that a child should have in their parents.  Adopted kids are often used to an ever-changing array of caregivers that do not stick around for long, and therefore don’t know how to trust that these new people called “parents” will always meet their needs and never abandon them like all their previous caregivers.  Again, keep in mind that these are things that babies usually learn intuitively, and nearly instantaneously, when Mama holds him close to soothe his first cries in the world and gives him his first milk.  Orphaned babies have no frame of reference for the concept of “parents”.

With that end in mind, we will be doing a common form of adoption attachment development called “cocooning”, which basically means we will be holing up in our home for a while (months) and teaching our little guy what “parents” are.  With the exception of Alex returning to work, we will go out very little and accept very few visitors.   For a time, we will not allow him to be cared for anyone but the two of us, meaning that no one else with hold him, feed him, change his diaper, help him when he falls, pick up a toy he drops, bathe him, put him to bed, get him up in the morning, coddle him, rock him, or basically come near him.  These aren’t rules we will uphold because we want to be crazy, overprotective, helicopter parents, but because his little mind and heart simply cannot attach to us as his parents until he experiences a significant amount of time being cared for by no one else, and because this is the most highly-recommended form of attachment development by adoption professionals.  He has to make the connection that we are different than all the other adults in his life, past or present.  (More on all these things later!)

Once we see specific signs that he is attaching to us, we will happily (and I am sure quite eagerly, by then!) branch out and welcome you into our home and introduce you to our son.  When he learns that he can trust us to care for his needs and return when we leave, we will have hit a big milestone.  Although the most intensive part of this process will occur over the first 3-6 months, we will be actively working at this for years.  You can probably see why we began arriving at the conclusion that long periods of being babysat or in left the care of someone else will simply not be options for us for quite awhile, as it will drastically hinder and harm the attachment process by reinforcing to him that “parents” are no different than transient caregivers and that it is not safe to trust us to not abandon him, even for the work day.

After Alex and I discussed and prayed over this decision thoroughly throughout this past Spring and Summer, both together and with our pastor, we decided it was the best decision for our family and for the church, as doing this job deserves someone’s full attention, and Baby W deserves our full attention.  Of course, as excited as I am for this new chapter in life, I am still deeply sad to step away from a job a love and a role in our church that I cherish.  I have learned a great deal and been blessed beyond what I deserve through this job and through all of you who make up our wonderful church community.  It has been an absolute privilege to serve your children and serve alongside so many of you.  We are incredibly thankful that even though we are entering a time of transition regarding my role in the church, we will still be a part of this church family.  We love you guys!!

Today at church, the official announcement was made, that I will be working up through the start of our Fall ministry season at the beginning of September, and then will be stepping down.  The announcement brought a lot of mixed emotions.  Incredible excitement for what is to come, relief that we have made a decision we feel confident about, yet sadness for the changing season, and nostalgia for three years of precious memories made with a team of leaders I am proud of and a staff that feels like family.  More than anything else, though, I felt peace.

God has a different kind of Children’s Ministry in mind for me next – a ministry to one very special little boy in need of physical, mental, and emotional healing.  His season of being alone is about to end.  And my next season?  Well, this season will be for him, because God knows he deserves to finally have someone’s full attention.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, 11

For everything there is a season,

A time for every activity under heaven.

A time to be born and a time to die.

A time to plant and a time to harvest.

A time to kill and a time to heal.

A time to tear down and a time to build up.

A time to cry and a time to laugh.

A time to grieve and a time to dance.

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.

A time to embrace and a time to turn away.

A time to search and a time to quit searching.

A time to keep and a time to throw away.

A time to tear and a time to mend.

A time to be quiet and a time to speak.

A time to love and a time to hate.

A time for war and a time for peace.

… God has made everything beautiful for its own time.

MBC, thank you so much for these last three years of ministry.  It has truly been a privilege.
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  • Brenda Kelly

    “His season of being alone is about to end.” Beautiful statement! I hear the gospel in it! May this new ministry be as successful as your ministry with the children at Maranatha!

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