January 5, 2012

In His Own Words

I was a junior in college before I knew what I wanted to do with my life.  These days you really can't wait that long to declare a major, especially at today's tuition rates.  Christian is in his freshman year of college and still not sure exactly what he wants to do.  He doesn't want to start taking out the college loans until he is sure of a major.  His solution-  One day he came home after having lunch with a friend and announced that he was applying for a mission trip called "The World Race."  It is an 11 month mission trip to 11 countries to serve the poor, the sick and the lost.  He will travel with a team of 6-8 people and spend one month in each country supporting partnership ministries and full time missionaries, which will involve doing a lot of different things- things he has never done before.  He may be visiting orphans, building churches, visiting the sick in hospitals, ministering to victims of sex trafficking or leading Vacation Bible Schools.  This experience should not only help him grow in his faith, but help him to learn more about himself and hopefully have a clearer vision for what he wants to do with his life.  He is in the fundraising stage now and if all goes well he should leave in July. 

Am I worried about him taking off on his own for almost a year, when the longest he's been away from home is a month?  Okay, I wouldn't be a mother if I wasn't a little concerned but how can I not support such a great opportunity?  After all, it was my own trip in 1987 around the world (Semester at Sea) that inspired me to want to serve orphans and build my family through adoption.  He is very passionate about wanting to serve others and has a very adventurous spirit about him, so I really believe he will do fine and probably touch many lives along the way.

You can follow along with him on this journey by subscribing to his blog http://www.christiannorris.theworldrace.org/.   Many of you reading my blog are also adoptive parents, so I thought you might be interested in hearing him share his story in his own words. Everyone Has A Story...This is Mine

Thank you all for your support and encouraging words during these past couple of years.

January 3, 2012

Careful What You Wish For

As parents we all just want our children to be happy.  Whenever someone asks my mom what makes her happy, she usually responds, "when my kids are all happy."  I tease her and say, "then you really shouldn't have had four kids!."   I can really relate to this now as a parent and maybe that is why I am content with having two kids.  :-)   It is so hard to see your kids hurting.  When Christian turned 14, I noticed that all the unanswered questions of his past were suddenly interfering with being a normal, happy kid.  He was haunted by memories- some good and some not so good.  He became depressed and lost interest in things he normally enjoyed.  He began isolating himself from others.  When your child is hurting and asks for help, you just do it.  You don't think about yourself and you can't even think that far into the future because you are worried about their emotional state right now. 

The search for Christian's birth family was the easiest piece of this story.  He wanted answers and finding his birth family was the only way to get them, so that's what we did.  I did my best to prepare him for many different scenarios, including that his family may have never abandoned him at all and that they might want him back.  This was really not a concern for either of us because at 17, he was almost an adult and soon could choose wherever he wanted to go. 

The reunion itself was also a positive experience.  Although emotionally hard, it wasn't nearly as hard as the year following the reunion.  The family accepted Christian with open arms and they also accepted this single mom who had raised him.  It was like our family had grown and now spanned two great nations.  Although Christian remembered them and never doubted they were his birth family, his feelings for them were not instantaneous.  Imagine having spent the past eleven years feeling resentment and anger towards someone, and then suddenly learning everything you thought was true wasn't, and then having to change those feelings.   It just doesn't happen that easily.  It is a process...so we've learned.

I believe once we returned home from the reunion Christian finally grieved the loss of his birth family.  He went through a very angry stage and a very depressed stage-both typical stages of grief.  

I even went through a depressed stage myself over all that had happened.  Even today I still struggle with some feelings of guilt.  I wish there was another word besides "guilt" to explain it because it is not as if I felt I did something wrong.  Maybe "survivor's guilt" is a better way to describe it.  I find myself avoiding those Skype or QQ calls to China because it is just so painful to see how much his family misses him. 

Despite the pain there is a peace that comes with finally having the answers.  It gives you a chance to accept what happened and move on with your life.  Christian has reached a point where he not only accepts his past but he wants to use it to help others.  That is when the true healing occurs.     

November 29, 2011

Calmer Waters

We have sailed into calmer waters. The last time I posted an update our lives were just beginning to see some normalcy after a very tumultuous year following the reunion. I’m sorry for not providing more updates along the way but I needed to protect my son’s privacy. Trust me…it was hard not to want to pour my heart out many times, especially with other adoptive parents that might be able to relate. Instead I had to rely on my family during those difficult times but I am so thankful I had them along for that ride. So you might be wondering if protecting my family’s privacy is so important to me, then why am I posting on the blog now. Keep reading and you’ll see….

In my update post a little over a year ago I mentioned that Christian was doing much better. The turning point came when he went to a Young Life Camp in New York for a week in 2010. After that week away he came home and started attending YL Club and Campaigners (bible study) weekly. He still struggled with questions that are hard for even adults to answer- like “if there is a loving God how could He let horrible things happen to innocent children.” Our local Young Life leader, Russ was amazing in that he met with Christian once a week to just talk and try to answer some of these difficult questions. This went on for months and even when Christian said “I think you might be wasting your time with me” Russ didn’t give up. He continued to meet with him weekly. I will forever be grateful for Russ’s commitment and determination in helping Christian understand the redemption we have in Christ.

After the Young Life Fall Weekend in December 2010, Christian made the decision to accept Christ as his personal savior. I can’t even put into words how I felt hearing this the first time and then seeing the changes in him over the past year. He had finally found hope and healing through Christ. This all took place during Christian’s senior year of high school. He graduated on time despite having missed much of his junior year. After graduation he left for a month to volunteer as work crew at a Young Life camp in New York. This was the longest he had ever been away from home and from what I hear work crew can be hard work. I was a little worried that he wouldn’t make it a month, especially after hearing he was assigned to kitchen crew. I couldn’t picture him getting himself out of bed to cook for 500 people every day all day. The first phone call I got from him didn’t make me feel any better. He was exhausted and didn’t sound like he was having much fun- granted it had only been 2 days. The next time I heard from him was a voicemail message a few days later and it said “mom, I just wanted you to know that I am LOVING IT here. “ I still have that message saved on my phone today.

He seemed so happy for the first time since his world turned upside down surrounding the reunion. As a Work Crew volunteer he was required to share his testimony with some of the campers. This was another turning point for Christian. I think it was really the first time he got to share his story in his own words without the media but more importantly he shared it with a new perspective as a born again Christian. He told me how sharing his story and the reaction he got from others made him finally feel proud of his past.

I am now able to share more of the aftermath of the reunion now that Christian is able to do the same.  He is 19 years old and attending a local community college, while also working a part time job and being a volunteer leader with Young Life. I have more news to share about him later in another post. You will also see a post from Christian himself, where he shares his story in his own words. And finally I will post an update on our family in China and how that is going.

They cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. He makes the storm calm, so that the waves are still. –Psalm 107:28-29