Archives for category: adoption

This fall will be 10 years since we walked into the greatest journey of our lives. 10 years ago we said yes to laying down our dreams for life and picking up the dreams The Lord had in store for us. The stories are endless as we have been challenged, transformed, ignited, grown, and provided for. Each move we have made and each child we have adopted has taken us to a new level of faith, I, at the time, wasn’t sure I could handle. Each step of faith leading to one journey after the other and stretching us even more. This past year when we felt called to YWAM Kona I knew The Lord was asking something of us that only HE could do. Come on, 9 family members go to Kona, Hawaii for 6 months!!! Who does this? Who gets invited to such a thing? Well we did and every need and every step of the way He provided. At 42 years old I became more alive than I have ever felt. I learned so much about walking life out to the fullest. I learned about joyful repentance, walking with an unoffendable heart and the great joy of sharing the gospel. These are all things I have been taught before but they were taken to a whole new level and it spoke right to my heart. While in those 6 months I felt more alive than ever I was also challenged far beyond what I had signed up for. From selling everything we owned on this earth but our 9 passenger van and some clothes, to my dad being given not much more time to live, to one of our children having the emotional hurts of his past and letting them all come to a head while in Kona, a miscarriage at 14 weeks, going low and serving and leading peers, wrestling all along with what is after Kona. The things I asked of The Lord at age 42 was that he would give me greater wisdom, more humility, grow me in leadership and more love for HIS word. I just did not know I would get in leading 16 peers and 24 children on outreach, in being desperate for HIS word to carry me through the pain of not being with my dad in his illness, and in trying to love a 10 year old boy who thought he could raise himself. I found myself both grateful and exhausted at the end of the 6 months. When I arrived back in Dallas and saw my parents and hugged their necks I was overcome by the graciousness of The Lord that he sustained my dads life long enough for me to see him face to face again. During all of this we felt like Canby, Oregon had been highlighted to us as the place He had for us next. This all felt like an out of body experience since I was trying to grieve my dads death and figure out how and why we we would be sent 30 hours away from “home”. In August we started our journey to Canby where our kids attended camp the first week we were here. Brady and I both almost instantly fell in love with the mountains and trees and the weather. ( I wore a sweatshirt in August) As I wrestled with The Lord the following two weeks as to how were we going to start all over again and how do I fill this whole in my heart of my dad being gone and are my kids going to like it here, is The Lord going to speak to them too that this is where we are suppose to be and will we find a home, what will we do for school and the list goes on. I am thankful to say that The Lord has made it such a pleasurable journey. He has answered so many of my requests for instance; schooling, a home to live in, what we will do here? YES! He spoke to my children unanimously that we were to be here. We have met many wonderful and like hearted people on this journey of pursing the presence of The Lord. So although I still have questions unanswered and my heart still grieves, I have signed up again whole heartedly to this season of life laid before me. I am excited and thankful to be here, make this our new home and partner with what is going on here.

Misty

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Noah makes “I am” statements”

Recently Noah learned about how listening to God will help you be more secure in your identity in Him. In this segment, Noah shares some things he recently heard and then declared.

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LoveLooksLikeThis is a non profit organization operating on your tax deductible donations. There is ONE day remaining to make your year end contributions. Help us raise 5,000.00 by years end to begin 2012 with these initiatives. *1 church 1 family 1 child web campaign
*love sacks for foster children
*peer foster / adopt families
*mobilization and service projects to waiting children

To make your secure credit card contribution today email Brady at Bradycottle@me.com

Brady Cottle
Subscribe to our blog
http://www.lovelookslikethis.com

817.793.5986 direct

LoveLooksLikeThis is a non profit organization operating on your tax deductible donations. There are 2 days remaining to make your year end contributions. Help us raise 5,000.00 by years end to begin 2012 with these initiatives. *1 church 1 family 1 child web campaign
*love sacks for foster children
*peer foster / adopt families
*mobilization and service projects to waiting children

To make your secure credit card contribution today email Brady at Bradycottle@me.com

Brady Cottle
Subscribe to our blog
http://www.lovelookslikethis.com

817.793.5986 direct

See this excerpt from tonight’s 20/20 report on drugs and kids in foster care
“In Texas, foster children were 53 times more likely to be prescribed five or more psychiatric medications at the same time than non-foster children. In Massachusetts, they were 19 times more likely. In Michigan, the number was 15 times. It was 13 times in Oregon. And in Florida, foster children were nearly four times as likely to be given five or more psychotropic medications at the same time compared to non-foster children.”
Read more at http://abcnews.go.com/m/story?id=15058380&sid=81

Last week we were in Kansas City, Mo, one of our favorite places on planet earth.  Trust me its not the scenery or flashy tourist attractions that lure us there a few times a year rather something far less tangible or easy to convey in this blog.  We go to KC, MO for our hopeful expectation that we will encounter God like every other time that we have visited the International House of Prayer (or IHOP).   This time we went in faith that the kids would be able to attend “SIGNS AND WONDERS CAMP”.  I know, it may sound like an odd name to some of you but this place is serious about teaching kids to listen and obey the voice of God and about living a radical God powered life.  We came to this camp after seeing how kids are valued as vessels of God waiting to be activated and poured out rather than lesser folk who have to be taken care of while the adults do their thing.  We saw first hand this past December the mark made on our own kids lives after attending the children’s equipping classes at the ONE THING CONFERENCE.

I remember holding my iphone as steady as I could  trying to record  my oldest son Kam deliver an inspiring message to a few hundred of his peers. He prayed a powerful prayer full of faith and innocents as he said “God help us to raise the dead and save puppies”  C’mon he’s 8, Im sure from his perspective, finding lost puppies would be helping to solve one of the worlds biggest problems.  Yes, its precious but whats more compelling is that I saw my kids filled with expectation, wonder, delight and devotion to the things of God and His Kingdom.  It was as if their hearts had been doused with fuel this whole time just waiting for someone to come along with the right match…….They lit up! Their eyes and hearts were opened in a way we had never seen and suddenly we became more aware of our awesome responsibility of shepherding their gifts and the honor of stewarding their hearts for the Kingdom.

We became parents to fulfill the commands of Jesus.  We are becoming better parents as we understand that our children will bring something to this age that we may never see ourselves…..and that is a people of God on fire for Him and for the ones He loves.   A shift took place and we become more aware that this role we play as parents is not about us, but about them.  What an  What a privilege!   I have to admit, that at 41 years of age I still default to making most of my life decisions in such a way that most benefit me.  As a follower of Jesus I tend to be more self serving than truly sacrificial.  However, when I see my kids in this sort of environment its like they are becoming who they are supposed to be.    They came home every day excited about spending 12 hot summer hours with 250 other kids.  They worshiped together, prayed for one another, played capture the flag and other “camp stuff” and then came home worn out but excited to relay the days events to Misty and I.  One night as we were driving back to the hotel I suggested that they were not having any fun and that we should go home the next morning.  A loud and violent protest broke out inside our 9 passenger van and they all cried in unison  “NO”.

What they relayed to us was no joke! My kids encountered God in a way I long to be connected to Him.  They were provoked to do something active in their pursuit of Him.    They are learning that in them dwells the power to do the things that Jesus spoke of. While the adults sneer analytically and our cynicism prevents our own encounters, our kids rush fast into the presence of God unhindered by hurt, unbelief or hardness of heart.  Now I run faster to keep up and respond to how the Lord has answered my prayers for them. I pray that they continue to run unfettered with reckless abandonment as we all cry “Come Lord Jesus”!

Dear Cottle Kids! As I roll through the thoughts of this Father’s Day I had a few things I wanted to share. I love being your dad! Truth is there is no greater honor God has given me than to be the dad and husband of this amazing family. I can’t wait to see who we all become together because I’m so proud of who you are now. Each of my kids inspire me and provoke me to be a better man, to think more , dream more, love more and be present in the moment. I have one desire and that is that you be all you are made to be, seeing all the goodness of God and take your place in part of a generation that will hasten the return of Jesus! What a great and glorious adventure we are on. Yes, It will sometimes be exhausting, hard and even painful to keep your head and faith high, but I promise you the things we will discover together are going to be priceless, unforgettable and miraculous. Love Jesus wholeheartedly, love others lavishly and live like there is nothing more certain or worth pursuing than the fruit of those things. Undoubtedly, I will forget the passion and zeal for you that I have for you while I write these words but your Heavenly Daddy will never fall short in loving you well. I pray that as we travel life together I will do well to represent His heart to yours. Thanks for a great day, Love, Dad.

 

My name is Matt Clarke and I would like to share some of my thoughts, opinions, and experiences as a father.

My wife, Rachel, and I affectionately refer to it as “The Morn of Blatant Honesty.” We had recently decided within about a month of dating that we would get married. We were 19 and laying under a futon in a spare bedroom of her gigantic, and ghetto, apartment. We were laying it all on the line. Our Non-Negotiables. Our honest opinions, thoughts, and emotions. Everything we knew would affect the other in a marriage. It took 7 early morning hours. As I recall, it was kinda fun. But there were some things, as Rachel’s future and forever husband, that I needed to know. Specifically, she was not willing to have biological children. “If you want biological children, you need to find a different chick. I’m going to be adopting my children.” From my perspective, I just wanted to be with this amazing woman. We didn’t even have to have kids for me to be happy. “Ok,” was my response. And it was honest. Getting on board with adoption was an easy step for me. I didn’t have my heart set on kids that would look like me, or God forbid, act like I had as a child. If I were a woman, I can’t say that I’d be too excited about the pregnancy/birthing process either.

About six and a half or seven years after our Blatantly Honest Morning Conversation, and about the same amount of time being married without kids, we began talking and researching and seriously pursuing adoption. Private, International, Domestic, Open. All of them. Then we hit a snag. Some personal issues in me that had been in the recesses of my life, unexposed to Rachel, surfaced. We decided to wait on the pursuit of children in the interest of working on us so that any future kids would have a healthy home to enter and a healthy marriage to observe. In the ensuing 8-12 months, Rachel was offered a job at a new school. As a Special Educator, a new job also meant new people working with her in her classroom. Long story shorter, one of the women in her class brought up foster-to-adopt as another option. We, at this point were ready to pursue children again and we met this woman’s friends who had adopted, through the foster care system, 4 single babies, no child who had entered their home had ever left. If you are familiar with the foster system, these people were akin to unicorns. Generally, as a rule, children leave. After spending some time with them, a puzzle piece fit. No other type of adoption really fit us like foster-to-adopt. We decided to go with their agency, Kornerstone – a tremendous, warm, caring Child Placement Agency serving in the Texas Foster System as misisionaries, believing that uniting children with loving and stable families is more of a ministry than a job. After training and a little more waiting, we were finally on the open list, able and ready to receive placements.

My first time being a father was when two little Hispanic sisters, six months and eighteen months, came to live with us for 5 months. They arrived the Friday before school began. With both of us being teachers, this was about the most stressful time to receive a placement. That Monday, our first day of school, Rachel and I were sitting on the couch, eating cereal and she looked at me and said: “How are you doing?” *Burf* She almost threw up as soon as she asked the question. For all intents and purposes, we were in the trenches for the next five months. Both of us lost weight. Both of us were exhausted. Sleep was now inconsistent at best. And to be honest, the best we could do was try to survive. To go from 0 kids to 2 overnight was…intense. We loved them though. They were funny, and gentle and we now got to watch children develop and grow right before our eyes. I got an extra special treat. I got to watch Rachel be a mother. I got to see something amazing, brand-new, never-before-seen. It brought us closer. I describe how fatherhood affects marriage with the following analogy: When you marry someone, you each enter the same room. You each walked through different doors. But inside the room, there are 3 doors. The one you entered through, which leads back to your family; the one they came through, which leads to their family; and a third, which is locked. Neither of you can open it. Your family can’t open it. There’s not even a hole for a key. And then, you and your spouse have kids. The third door opens. Now you and your spouse get to interact and watch each other do something neither could do before, Parent.

Five months, nearly to the day, the girls went back home, to a kinship (relative) placement. It was unexpected. We had no idea how close they had been to leaving. Or how devastating. We put them in the car, unsuccessfully holding back tears, and then went inside and bawled. I mean, ugly crying. It hurt more than I expected. I didn’t know what to do. I sobbed so hard my entire body was sore the next day. We spent most of that night with friends who knew us well, and had gotten to know the girls and they allowed us to let it out. We smoked lots of cigarettes and drank a little too much but there’s not really a rule book for how to deal with losing people who have grown to be a part of you. I don’t know exactly but it kind of felt like an amputation had taken a limb from each of us. We took a little time off, traveled, albeit to Galveston, but a break is a break and that was fine. Both of us, Rachel more vocally, and I more quietly, had a taste of parenthood and were ready for more. I, as I generally always am, was hesitant and a little nervous to take more, but I missed the girls. And I wanted to know who God would bring us next. Curiosity killed the boredom, right?

On April 1st, he brought us a 4 year old boy and his 2 year old sister. They were coming from a disturbing, intense, and messy situation. Rachel loved them at first sight, but said from the beginning, as she had with our first two girls: “These are not our children.” She has always been intuitive (don’t get on a plane if she tells you not to) and she knew that we should enjoy them while we had them, but these were not the children God wanted us to keep. The kids always grow on me. They were with us for a year, once again, almost to the day. They were great. Huge personalities and funny – boy, could they make us laugh! We knew about 2 months or so before they went home that they would, in fact, go home. Somehow, it was easier this time. Maybe because we had time to process their departure. Who knows.

While they were with us, God decided to place a forever son with us. Isaiah. Legally, his name was (and until the adoption is finalized, still is) Baby Boy. Try explaining that to people who ask: “And what’s his name?” You get some interesting looks. He had been abandoned. He was African-American. Two promises God had made to Rachel 5 years earlier: Rachel would receive an abandoned, Black, baby boy and name him Isaiah. Currently, he didn’t have a name, so we could name him Isaiah when we adopted him. Our unification with Baby Boy was quick. I got a phone call on a Friday saying we were chosen to adopt Baby Boy. The lawyer flew up that next morning to meet us. CPS called us the next Monday to schedule a visit with Baby Boy. We were available Thursday. We drove down to Houston to meet him*. And he was placed with us the following Monday. 11 days from call to placement. Now, for the clincher *: Baby Boy was 4 months old at this point and had been living in a foster home in Houston since being released from the hospital. Generally, in the case of a child not being named as a result of abandonment (unfortunately, too common), a foster home will call the child by a name other than Baby Boy, for obvious reasons. In the visitation room in Houston’s CPS office, we were holding our “baby boy”. Rachel asked the caseworker: “I know his name is technically Baby Boy, but since he’s been in a foster home for four months, what has the foster family been calling him?” “Isaiah,” was the response. I was holding him and uncontrollably laughing and crying. The Lord had fulfilled his promise to Rachel. We knew. We knew he was ours. We have had Isaiah since November first and he is a couple weeks from his first birthday. He is amazing. I understand what women mean now when they say a baby is so cute they could just eat ’em up. I used to think that was weird and uncomfortable. Now I get it. He is an incredible boy. Huge. Dimpled cheeks. Solidly built. Gentle. Happy. Strong. A boy who smiles easily and laughs hard. He will be fast and hyper. But more than that, he will be a defender of the weak and a voice for the voiceless.

Being a father has affected me spiritually in only a small number of ways that I can express. It has deeply affected me in ways I cannot. It has increased my faith in God. I think most parents realize, and it’s scary, how little control we actually have. I find myself actually praying, and needing, God to provide for me – physically, emotionally, spiritually. And every time I have asked him, he has. It has been a slow process (my fault, not God’s) to realize that 1. He is always Good and 2. He is always in Control. Those two truths represent the true character of God. Practically speaking, through children, specifically abandoned and broken children, God has shown me what is at the center of his heart. Loving anyone unconditionally, for who they are – not for their potential, or lack thereof, not because their past is checkered or their future is bright. Loving them not for what we can get out of it, because, as Jesus showed, love and sacrifice are not mutually exclusive – they are inextricably linked. We love not because the people we love deserve it, but because our love, as Christ’s ambassadors, transforms, redeems, rebuilds, restores, renews and ushers the Kingdom into our communities on Earth. I have grown exponentially deeper in my relationships with God, my wife, my children, and my friends. I have become more open. I let more people in. I am continuously working on being more honest, vulnerable, and real in my relationships. I am a better witness because God has called me and my wife to build a family out of the world’s misfits; out of the Lord’s children cast aside by our empire. We have been called to give them identity and purpose through Christ. We are called in our little niche to be a symbol that represents what the Kingdom looks like. All I can do is witness and testify to these things when someone looks curiously at our mix-and-match family and says: “…so where do they get their curly hair?” I wouldn’t do this, I don’t know how anyone could stomach doing the hard, wonderful, rewarding, pain-staking and deeply emotional work of foster care and adoption without the marrow-deep love, guidance, and relationship of Jesus Christ. So, naturally, God is easily the answer when someone asks why we do what we do.

Through my experiences as a father, God has, and continues, to reveal his character as Father. A father is one who nutures with reckless love, patient discipline, a consistent sense of humor, who gathers his children close to his chest, ocean-deep, and says: “I love you. You are mine. You are mine because I claim you in my name. You are mine because I want you to be mine. You are mine, simply, because you are mine. My love for you is too big to rest on your behavior. It does not depend on your goodness. It does not depend on your badness. My love for you is so big that I don’t even know it’s limits because everyday I love you more than I did the day before. And every night I think, I can’t possibly love you any more than I do right now. And then, when I wake up – I do.” When my time as a father is done, I want those children, whose father I have been, to be able to say, even if they don’t remember my name or what I look like, I want them to be able to say that they were loved like that.

I believe that how God is building my family has deep and eternal significance. I believe it has transformative power in countless lives – mine included. I have a limited understanding and severely limited wisdom but what I have I have been given by Christ so that through my relationship with him, children will be given new identities and claimed by families so that the Kingdom of God, and all it’s Earthly extensions, will be advanced. I am far from a perfect father, but the grace of God is enough. Enough for me and enough for His children.

Let them come.

As we all wait for that Great Day, adoption in the natural is an act of Kingdom prophesy. With each movement of the heart, faithfully committing to give a child a home, a family and a future, we prophesy what God has done for us. Adoption shouts life, love, eternity and the Kingdom of God.

“The most prophetic thing you can do in this present age is adopt a child ” Lou Engle in the forward to Sprit of Adoption by Randy and Kelsey Bohlender