Oct 202011
A Guest Post from Tova

Dearest Monkees,

Do you remember when Glennon and Andrea started the auction for Joy (Rocky at that time)? And then a friend joined in with a book sale? And prior that a friend auctioned an Ipad for us? And after this auction we raised another $1,400 by selling paperbead necklaces that had been donated. And then, we received an adoption grant of $10,000.


That all really, really happened.

You need to understand that adopting Joy was a complete and total leap in faith. I remember emailing with Glennon and mentioning to her that I felt like we had no business starting this adoption because I felt like we had none of the resources needed.

And we didn’t.

No savings, no investments, no loans available, no credit available. Heck, we STILL have our adoption loan from our first adoption. We managed to save and fundraise our way through our second adoption. It was such a gift.

I had no faith for a third adoption. I figured we had maxed out our resources. All of them.
We had those moments where adoption payments needed to be made and we literally didn’t have the money.

And it came. Every single time. Surprise gifts from friends. Organized fundraising. The grant. This is the first time we are drowning in debt after an adoption. We are flat ass broke and about a month behind, but I am fine with that because it feels so good compared to what we’ve experienced in the past.

If you think that I was the faithful, peaceful and trusting adoptive mama through this, you are wrong. I hedged all my bets. Did all the fundraising saying that if this didn’t work we would give the money to another family or return it to people.

The process of adopting Joy brought pain. Struggle. Fear. Questioning.

As you might remember, Joy has HIV. We were asked by our agency to consider adopting her. They did everything they could to make it possible for us.

We had relatives freak out. People said the dumbest, most thoughtless things. I wrestled a lot. With what we were doing. To our finances, our existing children, our community.

There were two things that kept me facing towards Joy.

1. The question was ‘is this harder for me, or is facing the possibility of my child not getting adequate medical care harder?’

2. Can I do this? Can I raise my daughter to be kind and gracious, but firm, in the face of some of the most stupid, stubborn ignorance that I’ve ever seen? In order to do that, I had to learn to be kind and gracious, but firm.

The first question required more wrestling than I care to admit. But it really was the easy one.

The second one? That required a lot of support. Some from my counselor who walked me through appropriate and allowable responses to different people’s comments. This was an amazing experience for me and impacted all aspects of my life. I had friends who let me bitch, whine, complain and rage. And I have this community that tells me over and over to ‘look for the good’, ‘try not to be a jerk’, that ‘We belong to each other’ and that being gracious is a huge gift. That looking beyond the stupidity and ignorance often leads to healing and redemption.

And it’s all true.At one point we had enough reasons to justify leaving our church. People suggested we do that. But I got stubborn. And maybe a tiny bit tired. We stayed put. We kept trying to talk and to listen. It’s not been perfect, but the overwhelming majority are supportive and wonderful. That would not have existed if I had left when it was just overwhelmingly horrible. That’s what this Monkee community has given me. Stories from all of you to lean on. To hold onto. Stories of staying still, stopping to listen, or just taking that one more uncomfortable step.

So, thank you.

Going to Africa to bring Joy home was excruciatingly difficult as I have a PTSD diagnosis that results from a home invasion/hostage situation I was in the last time I was in Africa.
Going to bring her home was the bravest thing I’ve ever done. I could have stayed at home, but I knew I would regret that more than pushing through the fear.
It was fantastic. Our trip was hard, but I was both strong and vulnerable. I was present for my new daughter. I found a lot of personal healing on my trip. There was a lot of weeping, but so, so much joy. And she is.

Since coming home I have watched my little peanut win hearts, break down big huge grown men, and crumble people’s fears and hardness. I literally watched one person who was dead set against her, start to cry when seeing her for the first time.

Our child is so special. This is brought home to us again and again. The nurse at her Children’s Home told us that they called her their miracle child because they almost lost her. Her pediatrician here, told us at her last visit, that she cannot explain why this child is alive or doesn’t have massive brain damage. That her medical records show three times when most other children would have died. That she does not understand how this is possible.

But she is. She is healthy, happy, thriving, getting chubby, and mentally, emotionally, and physically on target. Not one medical professional has been able to explain her. She is now labeled as technically HIV + but unable to transmit. How’s that for shifting people’s preconceptions?

This makes my heart so glad. I’ve learned so much on this journey, grown a tremendous amount, discovered strength I had no idea I had, learned that vulnerability is the baddest ass strength of all, and done so much healing.

Thanks Monkees, wish you could all come over for a cup of tea and meet her.

Note from G:

Hm. If Toves hadn’t made herself vulnerable here . . . we would’ve missed all of this Joy. Hm. Hmmmm.

God Bless You, Tova.

Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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  39. […] so that Monkees all over the world could join in and be a part of  Evy’s fight AND bring Monkee Tova’s daughter (Rocky who became Joy) home from Africa to be with her family and receive treatment for her […]

  40. What a beautiful little girl and what a great story. And how amazing that Tova was able to deal with her PTSD to become Joy's mom. I hope the ignorant comments are blasted into silence.

  41. my husband and i spent 1yr "stuck" in africa waiting for a visa for our son. during this time we met many adoptive parents. i had the luck/honor of meeting one mom who was adopting an HIV+ child. as much as i respected what she was doing i could not understand why she would choose a child like this. it wasn't that i was scared of this child or my risk, i knew the risks well and often cared for this child, loved her, changed her diapers, fed her, gave her medicine, held her while she was so sick. i just couldn't see myself CHOOSING a child that was less than perfect. for some reason after reading your story something changed inside of me. i see it. i get it. they are already perfect. it's ME that is lacking the courage and carrying too much judgment and preconceived expectation of what my child should be.
    thank you glennon for posting tova's original post at the bottom. reading your words i see myself in you and know i also need to find the courage to be vulnerable. after returning from africa i came back a different person apparently i shut down for a little while. i wanted/expected my friends to rally around me but i didn't know how to ask for help or tell them i was hurting. in the end they all disappeared.lonely people build high walls. with the support of my husband, the unconditional love from my son, nonjudgmental love from my animals and places like momestery i am healing…..and hopefully gaining some courage. it's time to reach out the olive branch.
    thank you for sharing your story Tova, toni

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  43. So happy for you all. She is so beautiful– as are you and your story!

    Sending love north from CA. Looking forward to that cup of tea.

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  44. WOW! What a great post, Tova. Thanks for sharing your Joy. Would love to see a pic of your whole family. Your leap of faith and vulnerability are signs of amazing grace and strength. Happy Day!

  45. Thank you for giving us a piece of your joy!

  46. OH Tova, thank you so much for sharing your Joy with us. She is beautiful and perfect and wonderful in every way. What a gift!

    Love and peace,

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  47. Awe man! I'm so happy for your family. I think Joy looks just perfectly perfect. Thank you for sharing all of this with us.

  48. Your joy is beautiful and so is your Joy! So happy for you and your whole family.

  49. I love how you were able to filter out all of the 'noise' and follow your heart, that whisper that is in all of us, and do what you were meant to do. Joy was meant to be with you and I believe that is why she survived…maybe she heard the whisper too? Thanks for sharing. ~Shanna

  50. Crying with happiness for you as I read this. What a precious blessing Joy is! And what a awesome blessing you are too, Tova!

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  51. Tova,
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  53. Oh what a great story! Congratulations on your little Joy who has truly brought so much joy to many others as well – including all of us reading about your journey! Thanks for sharing her (and you) with us!

  54. This made me tear up. Tova is so brave in so many ways. I want to hug her little daughter. Absolutely a beautiful story. What a special little girl and how lucky she is to have this family.


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  55. Andrea! I want to drink a bottle of wine with you one day.

    G. lady, I'll do bubbly juice with you. And you can squeeze her all you want. She is such a wonderful toddler squeeze these days.

    Thanks so much. My heart overflows.

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  56. So happy for you, Tova! I think of you often and am so so so glad to hear your story and all the Joy with it!! Yippee!!
    With love,

  57. This was such a happy post! And like so many before it what I needed to read at just the right time. Love to you and your family, so happy for you!

  58. Tova!!!! I am so happy for you. And I am so moved by your words and your journey. Thank you for opening your heart and sharing with us.

  59. Joy, joy, joy!!

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  60. Thanks Monkees, your comments are making me bawl. Which is very bad as I have to drive kids to school 5 minutes ago… :)

    Just wanted to clarify that I made a typo in the post. It should read that it's the first time we are NOT completely broke. It's such a gift.


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  61. Oh, wow, what a powerful story. God bless you and your family. I am so happy you have Joy and she has you.

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  62. Tova, Joy is beyond beautiful!!! Thank you for sharing her with us. Congratulations on your newest daughter:))

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  63. Tova-
    Thanks so much for sharing.
    I'm an adoptive mum, and work in HIV law and service and have for a long time.
    Treatment is such a game-changer, and I am so glad that Joy is getting the chance to live that life. And that you are getting the chance to be her mother.
    If you ever need to vent or commiserate or ask questions, let Glennon know- she knows how to get in touch with me. I don't know if there is a hateful, thoughtless, or uneducated comment that I haven't heard at this point.

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  64. Thanks for that! A great lesson in faith filled stewardship, we should
    not let all of our "what if's" get God's way!

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  65. Tova – I have been so moved by your journey. I felt like the last portion of the Beatitudes was really directed at situations like yours. I went back and read them all, and man – you are BLESSED! I just feel like blessing upon blessings are yours. I've copied them here for everyone to see. If you go find it in The Message translation, it's more personal:
    Matthew 5:3-10
    "He said:

    3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    4 Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
    5 Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
    6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
    7 Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
    8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
    9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
    10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

    Love that your little one is named Joy – she is precious :)

  66. Thank you Tova for sharing JOY with us! I have thought of her often. I love my auction goodies and am so proud to know that I was a teeny part in bringing her home to your family. God is good. She is beautiful and your story is inspiring.

  67. My favorite part is that your beautiful family, just existing, is making people all over the world less afraid.

    Love You Tova.

    One day we shall meet, and hug, and have tea. And I will hold Joy and you might want to keep a close eye on me at that point. I can imagine myself making a run for it with her.


  68. TOVA!!!! So great to hear from you. Also, wow. Wow wow wow. Amazing.

    Lots of love,

    (used to post as Jingle Bella)

  69. Thank you for sharing your wonderful story and for showing such courage. It is hard to relate to someone who can make hurtful comments related to a sick child or to someone who only wants to make the life of a child better. I wish the best the world has to offer to you and your family.

  70. I am the grandmother of a little girl from Ethiopia. She has stretched me to places I have never been in my thinking. Your story stretches me even further. Thank you for sharing. What a beautiful story. This story needs to be told again and again. It is changing hearts one at a time.

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  71. This made me so happy to read. Thank you!

  72. I am so glad that the lack of finances did not prevent you from getting this beautiful baby. Several of my cousins were adopted, here in the U.S., in the 1960s. My aunts and uncles who adopted them are working class people and are wonderful parents. I often think that due to today's expenses in adoption that they would be unable to adopt today. There are many loving and wonderful would-be parents who cannot adopt due to finances so I am so incredibly happy that you were able to persevere through the financial obstacle as well as all the others. Congratulations to you and your family.

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  73. Tova, surely it was preordained that such an extraordinary child would find her way to such an extraordinary mother. Many blessings to you.
    Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8

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  74. This makes my heart so happy! Congratulations on bringing her home, facing your fears and breaking down walls!
    Katie M.

  75. Congratulations Tova and welcome Joy! Blessings to your whole family.


  76. I agree with Chimmy, she is beautiful and so is your heart, Tova.

    Thank you for sharing, you've helped me this morning. You are very brave to go back to Africa and get that angel after your experience.

    I'm cheering you both on.

    Miss Molly

  77. Tova, she is beautiful! Thank you!

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