Which three words would you choose?

FriReunion (17)

Recently the adoption community was rocked by the news that an adoptive mother of many children was killed in a car accident.  It is so hard to process news like this.  That’s when faith has to come in, I guess– faith that the God who knows everything knows better than we do.  But oh, it’s hard to trust that God really does have a good plan for those precious children.

My friend Carrien recently wrestled with a similar issue when friends of theirs died, also in a car accident.  She talked about how a lot of times no matter how hard we try, we can’t change everything we’d like to change in this world, and how futile that can sometimes feel.  When she shared those feelings with her husband, here’s what he said:  “You are a very minor drop in the bucket, just as I am, just as we all are. We have no ability to predict the outcome of our actions, positive or negative. We do what we do, because it is who we are, not because we are changing the world.”

She said that for a long time she’s made choices in life in this way:  “I ask myself who I want to be, and then I act the way that person would act.”

Isn’t that a great thought??  I love it.  It’s taken me years to truly understand that I can’t really change other folks. I can’t solve all the problems I want to solve. But I can work on myself.

Who do I want to be?

My friend Tisha, a fellow adoptive mom, has also been doing some thinking about life-legacy.  When she heard about that adoptive mom who died, who left a tremendous legacy of love to her family, Tisha decided on three words that she most wants to represent her.  She chose brave, reflective, and impactful.  Aren’t those great words? She even asked her children to choose words of their own– you really ought to go read the whole post for a fuller picture of her thoughts about all this.

After reading her words, I just had to choose some words of my own.  I hyphenated to get a bit more in there, but here’s my three.  Joyous. Grace-filled. Giving.

Oh, I want to be all that to the ones around me. What about you? How would you like to be remembered when the time comes for you to leave this world?

“…being confident in this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” Philippians 1:6


  1. Are you referring to the Marion, IA gal? I know her. I know her family, they belong to the home school department that I have close ties to. “Many children.” Don’t white wash it, she had collected 15, most from Africa.

    Are there any among the “adoption community” as you put it that see this as the terrible situation it really is? That husband now has 15 children, a couple of which are special needs, and no one to stay home with them and raise them, as he has to work. Is there any talk in the “adoption community” about the morality of adopting over a dozen children? Only possible from 3rd world nations where they don’t care about such things. Only possible with the encouragement and financing by Christian organizations. No adoption agency in America would let another child go to a home that already had 14 youngsters. For just this reason, among others.

    Sure she left a legacy of love, the service was standing room only. But that won’t get that family very far, the husband literally can’t even transport all the kids by himself. They’ve all been homeschooled, so none of them have experience with even the simple routines of leaving the house for school, even if the dad could physically get them there. Every one of those children is now stuck in a terrible situation, the eldest are likely going to have to raise the younger kids themselves, probably foregoing the last of their homeschool education to do it, no matter what their transcripts say. What a great thing to do innocent children. Oh…wait.. not really.

    The adoption community, and the Christian groups that funnel money into it, really need to see this tragedy as what it is. Christians playing the savior, and collecting children like they get more grace points for it, nevermind the consequences for the children in question when things like death or illness come along.

    I’ve read your blog for a long time now. This may be my first comment though. Sorry it’s such a negative one. I just …. I can’t talk about this with anyone in town, no one is willing to hear my thoughts. But I have them, and your posts always end with that SPEAK YOUR MIND blurb. So you got it.

    lol the 3 words I’d pick for me, happen to be pretty close to SPEAK YOUR MIND.

    • Hi Jennie. I have 6 kids – two adopted, four biological, and we don’t intend to adopt any more kids, because we feel that our family is complete, not because there’s some family size that’s just too big. Some people see our large family and think we’re nuts also, but we are not on the same “Scale” that the dear people in Iowa were. I ask you to consider the other options these kids would have had. Their situation now, even having lost their mother, is WAY WAY better than it was. If only one family in each American church would adopt only one child, the orphan crisis would be over. But that’s not happening, so some of us are taking more than our share of kids. The problem isn’t the people who are doing something – it’s the people who do nothing that are the problem. I have a special needs kid who needs a great deal of care, and my older children help me with him. The big kids are attending college, they are getting an education,, and they LOVE their brother. If a family has a disabled member, who isn’t adopted, would anyone ever say things like you’ve said about them ? I don’t think people level these sorts of criticisms at the Mother Theresas or George Muellers of the world because they aren’t private families, but really, these families are doing the same work of love as those famous orphan care advocates were. I have high needs kids and I can’t handle them on my own – my community helps me, and God provides. I have friends who help with horse therapy, a psychotherapist who works probono, case workers, a church family, and friends who chip in and help. I bet that family isn’t alone in their work either. Kind people are everywhere, and those who step out to help the helpless are blessed in return. How people treat people that can’t repay them in any way is very telling. I find that those who are most critical of the calling my family has are the same people who aren’t doing much themselves.

    • Jennie,
      You make a great deal of assumptions about the horrific, nearly hopeless future these children will now face. They don’t even know how to do simple routines to prepare for the day, should they attend school! The oldest will raise the youngest, etc.

      Thankfully, you are surely in error.

      This is a resourceful, dedicated, capable family with a tremendous support network. They will navigate this tragic loss and find a way to move forward, just as any other family would, simply on a larger scale. That’s how big families are accustomed to operating, on a grand scale.

      Every family unit is vulnerable to sudden upheaval and would be forced to cope with whatever came their way should they came face to face with hardship of any kind. No one can ward against it entirely. We are all susceptible to the unforeseen.

      I, for one, admire their exceedingly generous, selfless way of life and have every confidence they will forge a new path for themselves, when given time and grace to do so.

    • Jennie, your comment drips with disdain for home schooling as well as adoption.
      You assume that home schooled children are incompetent, don’t have daily routines and surely can’t be trusted to complete tasks independently without supervision. This is surely not the case, especially not in a large family where everyone learns quickly to pitch in and help each other to get things done.

      You also speak with disdain of adoption, using the word “collected” to imply that no love was involved, and that these relationships and bonds aren’t real, simply because they didn’t happen in a birth family.

      My grandmother had 11 biological children. I’m so glad she did because my entire life has been enriched by the presence of a large, warm and loving extended family. Had she died the older would have raise the younger, and counted it a privilege because those are the people I come from.

      There are some of us that believe that children are a blessing, no matter how we welcome them, and actually love them enough to want to sacrifice in order to care for them. You claim to care about these children, but I’m not sure how belittling them, their skills and abilities, and their relationships with each other is going to help them in any way.

      • Jennie Erwin says:

        I don’t have disdain for home schooling or adoption, I’ve looked into both myself, and may yet go down either or both roads.
        What I do have disdain for is groups that set their members up for failure.
        I think in this instance, when this family appealed to the homeschool and Christian communities, for help with their various adoptions, those groups should have stopped the assistance after the first few adoptions. If the young couple couldn’t afford the fees and costs for adoption #4 of child #15, perhaps those groups should have thought twice before pitching in more $$. But, I never saw anything like that happen. Instead they just helped and helped, and set this family up for failure.
        Anything could have happened to send that family into a tailspin, from illness to injury to job loss. Instead of financing another child, perhaps the groups could have counseled the couple to regroup financially from the last adoption before embarking on the next. That would seem to me a more practical and kind thing to do to that family.
        Having 11 biological children doesn’t require the same level of outside financing, as multiple international adoptions do. I’m not convinced the two can be directly compared. Especially considering the different obstacles families face from your grandmother’s generation to this one.

        I don’t mean to demonize large families. But is no one willing to accept the premise that maybe, 15 was too many for 1 couple? Can we not even have that discussion? I’m not saying let’s get some legislation banning it, I’m saying, can I raise that possibility? That maybe they weren’t financially in a good spot to care for 15 in the event that anything went wrong.
        Does no one care about the financial security of the adopted children’s lives? Is that really less important than the love I’m sure they got from their adopted parents. Is love enough?
        You’ll have to forgive me if I doubt that. And maybe that’s why no one else around town views this the same way I do. Maybe they all really truly believe that love is enough, and I don’t.

        I don’t mean to belittle the children, I’m sure they are very resourceful. For their sakes I hope there is a large support network and that the network doesn’t lose interest once the youngest isn’t a cute baby anymore.

        Of course children are a blessing, but perhaps the community could have spread them around a bit more, and lessened the potential for this particular disaster. No family is too big to fail.

    • Jennie, I appreciate your honesty. I don’t see your comments are malicious. I have five children ranging in age from 17 to 6. Our oldest has special needs and two of our children are adopted.


  2. I love your three words. They fit you well. 🙂

    Off the top of my head I think my three words would be

    Courageous – I love that one. I have be strong and courageous tattooed on my forearm.
    Loving – but defined as choosing actions that show love to people and make them feel seen and valued, rather than a warm fuzzy feeling.
    Blessed and a blessing – I know, too many words

    Thanks friend.

  3. Boy, I am terribly upset to have to read a post by someone (Jennie Erwin) who is obviously very narrow minded in ‘speaking their mind.’ This post was very difficult to read to its conclusion. While the words dripped with disdain it almost felt like jelousy or envy being transmitted. Hope this person takes as much time helping the less fortunate as they do in complaining about them.
    As the mother of ten biological children, I have heard every bomb of disdain spoken to me about the size of my family so can just imagine what this family in Iowa has heard. And no my older children are NOT raising their younger siblings- they are brothers and sisters- not parents. To assume that that is how large families function shows your ignorance.
    But do not presume to know what they planned for in the event of a tragedy as no one outside of our family knows of the plans that would fall into place if something were to happen. And believe me when I say that parents of a large family have made plans!, and I hope all parents have made plans for a tragedy.
    And to say that homeschool children are this side of ignorant when it comes to understanding simple direction and what it would take to understand a public school setting; any homeschool child from a family of 1 or 21 would struggle with understanding a public school and its routine.
    Also what a load of garbage when you say that no adoption agency in America would let a child go to a family with 14 other children. I live around the corner from a family that has adopted 16 children – all from the United States- because they not only have the finances to do so, but also have the patience, love, understanding, training, and desire to do so. They had twelve when a sibling group of four became part of their family about six months ago. And the mom has already told people that in about a year’s time they plan on adopting more. Good for them.