In Honor of Adoption Awareness

This is a re-post for my friend Shawna in honor of Adoption Awareness Month. God has given her double the blessing through adoption as she now has a little girl, who in all God’s fine and fun attention to detail, is the spittin’ image of Shawna. How GREAT is HE?!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Today’s mother of honor is a wonderful story I am thrilled you to share with you. This Monday’s mother is Shawna Salkil of Seneca, Missouri. I keep a list of mother’s to ask about featuring each Monday, jotting down names often as I think of them. This list consists of mom’s I am already blessed to know, and also one’s I hear or read about but have yet to meet.

Shawna falls into the first category as I have called her my friend for over 12 years now. She served as Children’s and/or Youth Ministry pastor with her husband, Travis for many years, and has always had an amazing passion, energy and love for children. Then she became mother to Jaxon, and all those same attributes just multiplied. She is an incredible mother and I knew I wanted to feature her.

But then I remembered an exciting part of her journey to motherhood. Jaxon is adopted. Sometimes I forget that. But when I remember, it brings a lump in my throat as I recall all that Shawna and Travis went through to receive the miracle of Jaxon. It is a story of faith and hope; and a love that can only come as a gift from God Himself.

Shawna with her husband Travis, and Jaxon. Shawna received her bachelor’s degree from RSU. Congratulations!

Shawna grew up in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, but as she and Travis followed God’s lead in their ministry, they found Missouri to be their home. Shawna is a Human Resources Director, and up until one month ago, was co-Youth Pastor with her husband, also singing on the worship team at church. As they are excited to see what God has in store for the next season in their lives, Shawna stays very busy with  7-year-old Jaxon’s school activities and sports. In all her free time (wink, wink), Shawna loves to read and has recently taken up running.

Shawna and Jaxon. God bless sweet, smelly, rowdy, funny, messy little boys. (Yes, I am partial as I have 3 of those smelly, sweet little monsters.) Here is Shawna’s very own.

I asked Shawna the Monday questions, but also asked her to share her amazing journey with us on how she came to be mom to a little boy named Jaxon. What a humbling reminder of God’s goodness.

What do you wish someone had told you before you had children? Don’t try to pretend you are perfect. Reach out to other moms and share your insecurities and frustrations. Moms need to be there for each other and lean on one another for support.

What drives you crazy? When people who can become parents so easily, they can take it for granted and don’t see it as the gift from God that it truly is. Also, when children suffer because their parents refuse to grow up and be the grown ups in the family.

What are you most passionate about concerning being a mother? Training my son up to be a man of God who will be a wonderful husband and father some day.

How do you feel about your role as a mother? I see it as the greatest calling God ever placed in my life. I can’t imagine not being a mom. I didn’t give birth to my son, but I am no less his mother. One of my favorite quotes along this line is, “However motherhood comes to you, it’s a miracle.”

What is the one thing you would tell a new mother? Cherish every second. Don’t take time for granted. Let the stuff around the house go, sit down and hold your little ones and play with them while you can. Snuggle while they will still let you!

“I had dreamed of becoming a mom my entire life. After Travis and I had been married for two years we decided we were ready for children. Approximately three years later, we were still no closer to this dream of parenthood. We had worked with other people’s children and youth in church ministry for years, and it was very difficult to deal with the disappointment month after month of not getting pregnant. After a year of various infertility treatments we stood at a crossroads – in vitro or adoption.

After a lot of prayer, we felt God leading us to adopt from Russia. We started the process in May of 2004. Things went smoothly at first and then as anyone involved in adoption knows, the process seemed to stand still. We continued to pray and believe and on December 23, 2004, we got the call from our agency that they had matched us with a beautiful baby boy! We received his pictures via email and immediately fell in love.

Two weeks later we traveled to Krasnoyarsk, Russia to meet this adorable chubby cheek baby. I will never forget being escorted into the play room at the orphanage. It felt like what I imagine being wheeled into the delivery room feels like. We sat down and waited. Pretty soon a woman walked in with a shy, quiet 10 month old boy. She sat next to me on the couch with him, we reached out and touched each others hands. I melted. Travis and I played with him for about an hour that day, and an hour the next day. We signed papers stating our intention to come back and adopt him in approximately six weeks. Or so we thought.

Here is Shawna, the first time she saw and held her son in Russia. I can’t imagine the torture of having to fly back to the US without him.

A law changed. And my process of “labor” went from six weeks to four months. Four months with no pictures of him, no updates on his health, or what milestones he was reaching. It was torture. I can honestly say that it was the longest and worst four months of our lives. I was an emotional basket case.

I was a mom without a child, because you see, I became his mom in my heart the day I held him. Travis had to be the strong one, and he did very well. He encouraged me and lifted me up. I know now he was hurting just as much, but in his own way. At month three, we thought we had a court date but it was a false alarm. That almost did us in.

Finally, at month four, I emailed the agency and told them that I didn’t know if I could do this any longer. I told them that maybe God was trying to tell us something, and that we should walk away. That night I prayed to God and told Him, “I love Jaxon and believe he is our son. But I am giving him to You. If this isn’t Your will, then we will stop the process tonight. If it is Your will, please let us bring him home.”

The next morning Travis got the call from the agency, and he called me to tell me the news that we had a court date two weeks later! We flew to Russia again, and I spent Mother’s Day in Moscow preparing for court. On May 11, 2005, after a 45 minute court hearing in front of a judge in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, we heard the sweetest words we have ever heard. “You are now, and forever will be, the Mama and Papa of Salkil, Jaxon Gregory.” A few hours later we left that orphanage again, but this time, a family of three.

Adopting Jaxon has taught me so much about my relationship with God. Growing up, when I read about being “adopted” into God’s family, I thought of it as being like a step-child or a plan B. When we adopted Jaxon he was issued a new birth certificate. It lists Travis and I as his mother and father. It doesn’t say “adoptive mom” or “adoptive dad” nor does it say “adopted child.” It simply says “Mother,” “Father,” and “Child.” We have the same legal rights and privileges as if I had given birth to Jaxon, and he has the same legal rights as if he was our blood relative. How awesome is that? The same thing goes for us with God. We are God’s children! He loves us so much and we are heirs to everything He has, which is EVERYTHING!”

Romans 8:14-16 (NIV)

 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[a] And by him we cry, “Abba,[b] Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

Footnotes:

a. Romans 8:15 The Greek word for adoption to sonship is a term referring to the full legal standing of an adopted male heir in Roman culture; also in verse 23.

Thank you Shawna, not only for all the seeds you have planted through the years in the little hearts you have served for Christ, but for sharing your story of all you endured to become a mother. You are a beautiful woman of God, and an inspiring mother that will cause us all to stop and thank God for making us a mom. It is my absolute privilege to share your story, and I am humbled to honor you this week as our Monday Mom.
Please join me in praying for Shawna, Travis and Jaxon as they are on the adoption waiting list to add a baby girl to their family.
Please leave a comment if you will be praying for this precious family, as well as all families currently going through the adoption waiting process, so we can lift them up together in prayer.

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