It’s National Adoption Month

*Everything I post on this topic is general. I know there are difficult situations and many families who have sacrificed much to be the safe place for children. I do not know everything, nor would I ever desire to pretend that every situation is the same. Adoption is not cookie cutter. 

November is National Adoption Month. As most of you know, this topic is very close to our hearts. God has blessed our family with 2 wonderful boys this way. I always try to blog some on the topic this time of year. It mostly serves as I time for me to reflect, but I pray there is some encouragement and information here for others as well.

Bruce and I always knew we would adopt. We really had no plan, but thought it was something we would eventually do. Like many other things in our lives, God had to almost drop it in our laps before we took action. I, being the impulsive one in our marriage, was ready long before Bruce. That is actually typical of every major event in our marriage. On May 9, 2000 we went to Bethany Christian Services to ask questions. Exactly 1 month later, Isaac moved into our home. I will save his story for another day.

There are a few things I have learned along the way. I will spend the next few weeks sharing these things and parts of our story.

1. Adoption is not a cure for infertility. Someone told this very thing to me in the whirlwind of a month in getting ready for Isaac. I cringe every time I hear someone say, “Adopt and you’ll get pregnant.” I literally want to shake the person! We are talking about the life of a child, who has many times walked a difficult road, or will later. How absurd to think some one should adopt that child as a way to get another one the “real way.” Yes, many times families go on to have biological children, My answer to that? Think of all of the children who would not have homes, if every couple could have a biological child at the snap of their fingers. God uses it to place children in the home He desires them to have.

2. Adoption should not occur because you have the desire to “save a child.”

I shock people when I say this. Hear me out before you write me off. I become very nervous for the children when I hear this from parents. Most likely, there will come a day when the child is not mature enough to be thankful for the road God has placed them upon. There is a window of a few years where complete honesty is probably not wise. Can children through their young teen years, and maybe beyond really handle the truth of their story? Many times, no. Telling a 12 yr old to be thankful for their life because it could have XY and Z is dangerous. You see at some point life gets tough. Kids like to place blame for their sin. Adopted kids have the “adoption card.” If you come into this as the savior, what do you do when they are not quite so happy to have been “saved?”

Parents also have the adoption card. “Life would be easy if we had not adopted.” Maybe so. Maybe not. People are sinful. Your biological kids may be sinful as well. Shocker, I know. I have seen many parents become bitter. This is not fair to the child.

God places children in the homes He desires them to have. Sometimes biological kids come with more issues. sometimes adopted kids come with more issues. Either way, it is the home and parents God chose for them to have. No matter how you “get your children” they are all God’s children. It is God’s doing, not some work of a super hero parent coming to the rescue. I promise you, if that is your thought, you will crumble at some point, because you cannot even begin to give any of your children all they need. That, again, is God’s work.

3. This ties with my last point. There is the adoption card. Please do not use it. It really is not helpful in the long run. There are no guarantees with your biological children and the children would have no guarantees with their biological parents. Again, they are God’s children and He decides how they will be raised. At some point, both parents and children have to realize there are no excuses for behavior,buck up and move on. Many people can point to dysfunction in their lives and use it for an excuse.

4. This one will contradict my last point, but, again, just hear me out. Adopted children do go through grief and it is cyclical. It will pop up at strange times. I will write more about this later, as this one is one I am passionate about. When we adopted Micah we had to go through classes. They were helpful because when you go through the classes when adopting a baby, you sometimes forget. Isaac was 10 when we adopted Micah, so much of what we learned was applicable to Isaac. We were told that adopted kids grieve the loss of relationship just like the death of a parent. The problem is neither they, nor their parents, many times realize that is what is happening. Just as if a child were to loose their biological parent to death, they will grieve them at certain times for maybe their whole lives. The grief is cyclical. Those of you who have lost a close loved one, know how you think you have finished grieving, but then it pops back up again.

This has become really long. So, I will stop. There is so much more to say.:-) Look for more posts throughout the month as I try to bring awareness to this topic. We love our boys and you will see me say often, I seriously forget they were adopted. We are so thankful they were brought to us.

*Everything I post on this topic is general. I know there are difficult situations and many families who have sacrificed much to be the safe place for children. I do not know everything, nor would I ever desire to pretend that every situation is the same. Adoption is not cookie cutter. 

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My Other Life

On big birthdays, I tend to get a little reflective. My only girl, the one which took us years to have, became a teenager today. I get excited with each new stage, but like every parent, wish we could go back.

Bruce and I have often said God wanted us to work really hard to get our kids. 4 out of 5 of our kids have a “story.” Jack is the only one that seemed to come without any drama. I will save the other’s for later. 

Bruce and I struggled for years to have our first biological child. There were four years of complete infertility and 3 more years of one miscarriage after another. That time really seems like another life. It is funny how easy it is to forget. Our friends now really know nothing of that time. Our friends then, do not see, or even know our children. These friends cried with us, prayed for us regularly, brought copious amounts of food during the many bed rest times, and were just so incredibly full of support. 

Sarah was one of many pregnancies during a 3 year time span, after 4 years of nothing. My body just could not seem to carry a pregnancy and it was somewhat of a mystery to the doctors. The tests results always came back fine. Just like many times before, I went in to the doctor to hear, “Your blood work is not good and there is no heartbeat. There should be one by now. You are loosing this child. Come back next week to schedule your D & C.” I was so incredibly blessed to a have high risk OB who was also a believer. He truly valued life. 

I went back a week later and we scheduled the D & C after seeing the blood work looked worse and there was still no heartbeat. He told me to come in for one more ultrasound  when I went for the pre-op visit. This was unusual, but I went. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and very quietly said, “Julie, there is a heartbeat.” Everyone was so, so happy. Friends rejoiced, our families were, like us, afraid to hope. When we found out it was a girl we were elated. Girls were rare in the Etter family. I refused to buy anything pink because everyone we knew was buying pink for us like it was going out of style.

When I was 28 weeks along, Sarah decided she was ready to come. I went flat to bed for 2 months. Again, our community and family surrounded us. Many special people stepped in with Isaac. Our freezer was stocked with meals from our church. Friends took turns visiting with me. 

When Sarah did come in August, you can imagine the excitement. This is actually bittersweet for me to think about. My mom was so happy. She was in the delivery room with us and she was just so proud. She loved her “Sarah Beth” so much. She had held my hand through every miscarriage, accompanied me to many appointments, and cried almost as many tears as me. It was also a year ago this week that we were told mom was not going to live more the 6 to 12 months. I was at her bedside and left to go spend Sarah’s birthday with her. It was 5 months later that she died. I knew this special birthday of Sarah’s would be hard. Mom would have been so proud to see her become a teenager.

God has been good to us. I do not know why we had to work so hard to get our children. But, it is okay. God is good, all the time. 

If you ever see me crying when someone loses a baby, is struggling with infertility, or through a tough pregnancy, just ignore me. I am likely remembering my other life and that is okay. God has given me a soft spot for those women and their husbands. I am so grateful for the gifts God has given me. 


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More Summer Reading Material

I know many of us are seeking good reads for the summer. Gospel Coalition has a unique suggestion on the 2nd most important book every Christian should read. It may surprise you. Read what they have to say.

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WORLD | Marriage and millennials | Amy Henry | July 11, 2014

So glad to hear someone else say this. I have often said how thankful I am that Bruce and I both had parents who instilled the habit of church attendance and the fear of disappointing them. If not for these 2 things, it would be so easy to throw it all away. Do not misunderstand me. Marriage is about so much more than staying out of habit and fear of disappointing people. However, we all know that without that habit and fear, temptation creeps in to throw in the towel in those very tiring and not so likable moments, weeks , months ,and sadly for some, years. This is a great article to read on marriage. WORLD | Marriage and millennials | Amy Henry | July 11, 2014

“One advantage of marriage is that, when you fall out of love with him or he falls out of love with you, it keeps you together until you fall in again.” —Judith Viorst



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New Seasons

Numerous parents, students and friends have contacted us over the past months asking about the changes going on in our lives. The lack of communication has led to confusion, false information and speculation, none of which are good. We have been deeply grieved by much of that speculation. We are happy to discuss it privately with anyone who is interested. It is not uncommon for someone who begins something to see it grow in unexpected directions. God places us all in different seasons. The past year has brought about many changes in season for our family on a personal and professional level. We thank God for this. As it is through these times that true growth occurs and my wife and I have felt growth like never before in our 20 year marriage. 

We want to thank Veritas Press, and all of those we have worked with there, for the opportunity to serve families over the past eight years. Veritas Press Scholars Academy has truly been our life and community. We will miss the institution and people immensely. Without that established platform it would have been impossible to springboard into what VPSA has become today. We will pray for VPSA as the school moves forward under new leadership. We ask for your prayers as well as we seek to minister to families at Wilson Hill Academy. We are very excited to get started with this new season in our lives and to see where God leads us. 

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Get a Life

Get a Life.

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Get a Life

This post from Ann Voskamp actually brought tears to my eyes. With my oldest son turning 16 this week, and 3 more following behind him, I often ponder and worry over the world they are growing up in. It is a world which really cheats boys out of a fair start. They are either made to act like girls in an effort to ease the stress on those around them, or insurmountable pressure is placed upon them to “make something of themselves.” There does not seem to be a balance. Lately, I have been very concerned for my own boys and the pressure from our own community. In the last 6 months, we have had adults say in front of our boys, “Don’t you wish you had more girls and not so many boys?” I happen to love and adore my boys, thank you very much. My only daughter has stopped inviting friends over because she so often hears things like, “Ugh, boys are sooo annoying.” Or, ” I hate boys, can’t we come over when they are not going to be there?” I even saw an email that she sent to a friend asking her to come over. The response was, ” Well, let’s use your house as a last resort since there are so many boys there.” For a while, I chalked this up to most of Sarah’s friends not having brothers and the adult comments coming from families of all girls. They just do not understand that it is not funny after awhile. But, the older my boys become, the more I just do not want to except it any longer. Boys need to be loved, guided, and directed. So, my plea to my own husband this Father’s Day is to teach our boys to “get a life.” Block out the world and the negativity, and just teach our boys to be the godly men God created them to be and ignore the rest.


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