When it comes to finding the necessary motivation to forge ahead courageously in the world of adoption and fostering, sometimes all the facts and figures in the world can do nothing to trump a good story. In this two-part episode, hosts Lynette Ezell and Tera Melber have a good story with Lauren Pinkston who, along with husband Gavin, are the parents of two adopted daughters and one biological son. Lauren shares her journey from the whirlwind beginnings to the steps of it that led to entrepreneurship, while providing down-to-earth encouragement applicable to adoptive parents anywhere.
Find out how to give to the Ministry Adoption Fund by visiting sendrelief.org/foster-care-adoption/.
Announcer: Welcome to the Adopting and Fostering Home podcast. Whether your family has been on this journey for years or you’re just getting started. We’re here to support and encourage you along the way. And now your hosts, Lynette Ezell and Tera Melber.
Lynette: Thanks for joining us again today. We’re picking up again with the conversation we began with Lauren Pinkston. Now, if you’ll remember, Lauren and her husband Gavin are the parents of three children. One joined their family from Uganda through the gift of adoption. They were ex-pats at the time, and they had to figure out how do we live overseas and adopt? And so it’s a beautiful story of how the Lord just built their family.
Lynette: So she’s also the co-founder of Wearthy, that’s an online retail store sourcing ethically made wearable goods from across the globe. So they recently moved back to the States and we got to talking with Lauren and we just loved her beautiful story. And we hope that it will continue to encourage you as you join us with part two with Lauren Pinkston.
Lynette: You say that answering the call, we talk about James 1:27 a lot that we’re trying to branch out, not just focusing on that one. You said that that verse will beat the religion right out of you. And I think that is so funny. I’ve never heard that before. You’ve got to elaborate on that.
Lauren Pinkston: That’s so good. I forgot that I had written that one.
Lynette: Well it caught my eye quickly.
Tera: It’s hilarious.
Lauren Pinkston: I love it. Love the orphan, love the widow. And when that interrupts your daily rhythm and it dismantles what you thought you understood about family and about God, and about the church and about community, it becomes something that you either lose everything or you claim to the cross with everything you have.
Lauren Pinkston: And there have been so many times over the last three and a half years that, honestly, I am managing so much, so much trauma and so much physical aggression to pain that I have not had the capacity to wake up in the mornings and have a wonderfully crafted quiet time with the Lord.
Tera: Right. Yeah.
Lauren Pinkston: And I have been so reliant on the prayers of my brothers and sisters. I’ve been so reliant on friends sending me devotionals, excuse me, I have been so reliant on the prophetic words from people who are just sharing encouragement and being able to just sense in me that there is something that we’re wrestling against in our home, and we are wrestling against and fighting for the hearts and minds of our kids.
Lauren Pinkston: And that has carried me through so much of the last few years. And I hate it. Like I told my husband the other day, I miss the part of me that was just so hungry for deeper theology and challenging, just digging into deeper books and things and my quiet time. And I just feel it’s been survival mode for us for so long. I feel like we should be past that at this point and we’re not. And just knowing that my God is so present and that he doesn’t need my puffed up words, and he doesn’t need my perfectly pressed dress on a Sunday morning.
Lauren Pinkston: He needs my obedient heart. And when that is present and when that’s my posture before his throne, he is going to just pour what are truly the blessings that he promised in scripture on us. And that is a peace that passes understanding. And while there’s trauma in our home, and while we’re battling that every day, I don’t think that I’ve never not felt peace.
Lauren Pinkston: And I’ve just clung to that.
Tera: Well, on our podcast and then just between Lynette and I, we often talk about the impact of childhood trauma in our homes. So, you alluded to the fact that it has affected your family greatly. So if you wouldn’t mind sharing, how has her trauma impacted your life?
Lauren Pinkston: Sure. In every way. The presence of pain and hurt has affected the DNA of our family. And I don’t say that lightly and I don’t say that grudgingly. It has been the most refining process for me to sit in that trauma with her and to watch our whole family respond, our parents included, and her aunts and uncles included, to just sit in the reality of what early childhood trauma does to a brain and to a body, and we are learning so much through that.
Lauren Pinkston: I came back to the United States kicking and screaming six months ago, and I knew it was what we were supposed to do, but like deep inside of me, I was grieving deeply the loss of our life abroad. And I loved living there so much. And so, part one of this is … there was a little season where I was truly bitter to what adoption had done to our lifestyle and to our life plans, because it meant that we were coming back to the United States and all I had ever wanted to do was live abroad and do the work that we were doing there. And it meant so much to me. And I felt like I was making God so happy with my service.
Lauren Pinkston: And so, I remember praying last year and just saying, “God, if you’re going to move us back to the States, that’s fine, but I want it to be in the inner city. Just put us where you want us.” And he’s like, “Lauren, you can’t fight every social justice battle that there is on the planet. And when you said yes to adoption, you said yes to an actual life of an actual child and are you going to allow my grace to cover you if you focus on being a mom and if you focus on providing a safe place for your kids, because I don’t think that uprooting your family and then dropping them in another transient community is going to be the most stable place for them.”
Lauren Pinkston: And honestly for our family at that time, it wasn’t, and it’s still not. And now we’re sitting in suburbia with granite countertops and I don’t know what to do with it. And I also hate that I like them so much. It’s a gift from God that we’re here in this place and that we are provided this safe, secure child, we can provide our kids with this safe, secure childhood that we have not been able to in the past five years. But, it was a wrestling match for me, and I don’t say any of that lightly. That means that my entire life plan has been altered by adoption.
Lynette: Yes, I cannot reiterate that enough, Lauren.
Lauren Pinkston: Right.
Lynette: We did a podcast on stay in your lane, and that’s exactly what we meant. We had a friend we had on the podcast and she literally went in the backyard, put her life in a shoe box and buried it and had a funeral.
Lauren Pinkston: Oh, goodness. That’s so good.
Lynette: And she said she was able to just move forward from there. That being a competitive tennis player in my community, that’s kind of over for now. Because you do, you are bringing a soul into your home, a life. And so something has to give. And it’s Mom’s schedule most, the whole family’s schedule, but a lot of it is on Mom.
Tera: Well, I heard a definition one time, that expectation is unconscious, premeditated resentment.
Lynette: Oh, wow.
Tera: And it is. And so we have to say, “It’s okay that I had these expectations of my life. It’s okay that I wanted live abroad. It’s good that I wanted to serve the Lord in that capacity, but that he has asked us to love, parent and cherish our child. And my expectations have to change.” So I have to grieve the loss. Allow yourself to grieve the loss of that expectation. That’s not a bad thing. Remaining in the grief for long periods of time where it turns into a root of bitterness. That’s when sinful nature comes in.
Lynette: Yeah, we walk through that valley and we don’t just hang out in it.
Lauren Pinkston: This is so good.
Tera: You grieve it. So unconscious, premeditated resentment.
Lauren Pinkston: That is so good.
Tera: Throw it aside and grieve it and move forward into the new calling and the new normal that the Lord has placed us in.
Lauren Pinkston: That’s right. And I’ve heard it said that though the world’s largest unreached people group is the children in our homes.
Tera: Isn’t that the truth.
Lynette: I totally agree with that. I really do.
Lauren Pinkston: I really bought that. The first time that I heard that, I was like, excuse me, it’s in the 10-40 window. We have to go to Northern Africa and East Asia. I don’t know, I seriously bought that at the first time I heard it and then I realized what a fight we’re in every day. Like I said, for the hearts and the minds of our kids and how my irresponsibility to that weight and that calling is really putting … it’s limiting the power of God to continue to speak and claim, put stakes in the ground and claim a presence for his kingdom right here in my home.
Lynette: You are absolutely right. We were with some of our church planters last week and one of them really kind of challenged me, made this statement and he’s said, “Lynette, what beautiful reality might be on the other side of our perseverance?”
Tera: That’s good.
Lynette: Isn’t that good? And that’s from Ben Pilgreen in San Francisco.
Tera: Hey, hey. Epic Church.
Lynette: Yeah. Epic Church, we’ll put that in the show notes, but it’s so true because they’ve adopted as well. And just the Lord asking us to persevere, to take him at his word. Like, did he call us to this? Yes. And I think that’s what he meant by your kingdom come, your will be done. Not my kingdom’s, but his.
Lauren Pinkston: That’s right. That’s right.
Lynette: Well, I know you entered a season when, you remind me so much of my daughter, Lauren. I know you entered a season when you really began to question the clothes you were buying. And I’m kind of getting there. I’ve started buying things a little differently and how they were made. And you said you were tired of sacrificing people’s dignity. So what happened? We’ve got plenty of time. So I want you to share what happened with that?
Lauren Pinkston: Well, a couple of things happened. The Rana Plaza factory collapsed in Bangladesh in 2013, and over 1,000 factory workers lost their lives after having complained about the work conditions of the factory. So as I saw their mangled bodies being pulled out of the rubble and I saw these bodies laying in with a rebar in the concrete alongside labels of the clothes that we have worn and labels that I had bought and purchased. I realized that my purchases were directly affecting real people across the globe. And because I’d seen it, I couldn’t unsee it, and I had to do something about that.
Lauren Pinkston: At the same time, my sister was running a clothing boutique here in Tennessee. And so, from across the world from each other, we launched this business where we started just sourcing clothes and shoes and handbags and anything we could find that would kind of supply a conscious closet for us and for other people who were looking for that.
Lynette: I like that. A conscious closet.
Tera: I like that too.
Lynette: That’s great.
Lauren Pinkston: Yeah. So we’re not teetotalers, we’re not perfect in this. And the slow fashion industry has not caught up to the trend of the fast fashion industry. And I don’t know that it ever will because it’s not designed to put out at the same level that these big box stores are doing that. So, traditionally there were two fashion seasons a year. You have Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. And now people say there are 52 fashion seasons a year because-
Tera:… oh, I’m in trouble.
Lauren Pinkston: Yeah.
Tera: I’m always going to be out of style.
Lauren Pinkston: Well, you know, because every time you go into Target there’s something new. And every time you go, like they’re constantly restocking. And so that when you go in, you’re not going to see the same thing you did last week. And so to be able to put out product at that pace and to be able to get it on the shelves into the hands of consumers, you’re going to sacrifice, somebody’s going to pay for that somewhere.
Lauren Pinkston: And so we just wanted to provide a place where people could come and not have to vet every company on the internet, but we could do that for people. And then people who are wanting to shop ethically could come to our website and find a whole range of wearable goods that they could feel confident were vetted. But were coming from different companies, but you just pay one shipping costs.
Tera: That’s awesome. What is the website?
Lauren Pinkston: So it’s www.wearthy.org, Wearthy is, W-E-A-R-T-H-Y. And that’s the name of the business, and it’s after our hashtag, Wearthy for wear.
Tera: I love that. That’s really neat. That’s awesome. Well, Lauren, as we close, if you could give a little piece of advice for potential adoptive parents or current adoptive parents after you’ve gone through this journey of parenting a kid from trauma and then having all the crazy that went on in your life, what would that be? What would you like to leave parents with today?
Lauren Pinkston: I would love for women who are, and men, who are wondering if the trauma behaviors that they’re seeing in their home are legitimate or if it’s just, I would love for them to know that those trauma behaviors that they’re seeing in their home are absolutely legitimate behaviors. And that they are important to flesh out and they’re important to seek help and services to kind of meet the needs of their kids. It took us three and a half years before, and it took me calling 9-1-1, honestly, because I couldn’t contain a situation at home. They had gotten violent and that was the first time that I woke up and said, “We need to seek help.” Because up until that point I had read The Connected Child and we were on the phone with therapists and it’s just adoption trauma.
Lauren Pinkston: It’s nothing more than that. This is normal. And it’s not. And so just to normalize the way that the body really does keep the score of trauma and the way that we have to fight to understand what is going on in the brain through previous trauma and posttraumatic stress and some of these neglectful situations our kids have come from that has really altered their health and their mental capacity. And so, we’re in the process now of looking into brain spotting and neurofeedback, and I was on the phone with the clinic this morning that does special brain scans, SPECT scans to kind of see where trauma is held in the brain.
Lauren Pinkston: And it’s a privilege to be able to reach out to those resources, but if they’re available and if the money is there, goodness, there’s just so much that we’re learning that we can use to help our kids process that trauma and really heal their brains. Like we would heal a broken bone or another part of the body that’s hurting. So I wish that I had had those resources or known about those resources before we started this journey. And if anyone else is questioning whether or not they should seek help, I say absolutely. Absolutely seek help and know that you’re not broken and your family’s not broken and you’re not an incapable parent because you need outside resources to help you help your kids.
Tera: Have you and Gavin been able to do that? This is a loaded question. Have you and Gavin been able to do that and figure all this out and parent with no community or have you had communities surrounding you?
Lauren Pinkston: Oh, for sure not without community. And honestly, we’ve been on the fast track since we’ve been back to the United States. We were doing so much of this on our own and we were drowning when we were overseas. And so, being back here and being a part of a mom’s group a couple of weeks ago for the first time since we’ve moved back…every woman in the room who had adopted was sharing stories of what this trauma has done in their home, and what their concerns are for, not just for their kids’ health, but for their kids’ safety.
Lauren Pinkston: And not only was it validating, but they had so many resources that they shared. There were little bits and pieces of things I had heard from random Instagram posts or random books, but to be in a room with women who had walked these things out and who knew the names of doctors in our community who are trauma informed, and who knew where to go for this certain service or therapy. I mean it was just, it was critical that that community was surrounding one another, and I was able to tap into that. And that has been a lifesaver for me being back, for sure, here in this country. So, for sure, I would say never try to live out your calling in isolation from the community God has given you.
Tera: Right. Well, I remember a couple of stories about Moses when he was leading the Israelites and one was, we’ve talked about before, when Aaron and Hur were holding up his arms when Israelites were in battle, but one of the things that struck me when I was reading that this week is that, one, Moses had to be vulnerable enough to allow Aaron and Hur to be there with him.
Lynette: It took him a while to get there.
Tera: He had to admit and receive help. And then one of the things that I guess I glanced over was that Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on, so they didn’t take Moses to a stone to sit on, the community had, and Aaron and Hur had to physically become involved.
Lynette: That’s good.
Tera: And pick up the stone and take it to Moses. And they brought it back, which required physical help. So if you don’t have a circle of support in your life, you have to pray for that and ask the Lord to bring it to you and be vulnerable enough to receive the help that they want to give and not feel shame if somebody wants to come alongside. But Aaron and Hur were as critical to the Israelites’ success as Moses.
Lauren Pinkston: Absolutely.
Tera: And they didn’t leave his side when the battle raged on. And just as the world sees us supporting one another through, like the mom’s group you’re talking about, or our parents or aunts and uncles, or the therapist that we see, when the world sees believers supporting each other, they see a picture of the love that Christ spoke about that would draw a lost and watching world to himself.
Lynette: That’s right.
Tera: So I just thought that was really neat. And then, of course, when Moses was trying to carry everything alone and Jethro was like, this is not going to work for you. And he says in Exodus 18, “What you’re doing is not good, Moses. You and these people who have come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you. You cannot handle it alone.” So I would just encourage as you spoke, to allow your community to be a part of your journey because we need each other.
Lynette: We really do. And just to be transparent with one another and to say, I can learn from you. Like you said, Lauren, when you got to your group, what resources other people God uses to bring into our lives.
Lauren Pinkston: Yeah. And if you have a place where you can safely share what’s going on in your home with people who know and understand, it makes you less bitter towards communities that don’t understand. Because you know where you can share, and you don’t feel angry that everybody doesn’t get it. Because everybody can’t get it, because they haven’t lived this reality and they don’t, they shouldn’t, have to live the reality. It’s okay that they don’t know, and they don’t understand. And so, man, you guys have just really spoken to my heart today and encouraged me so much with your wisdom and your faith.
Tera: We are so grateful that you joined us today, Lauren. We will connect everybody to your Instagram, which is Upwardly Dependent.
Lauren Pinkston: That’s right.
Tera: And then check out the website for the fashions and accessories. We’re going to be looking good. I know Lynette’s got our eye on something, don’t you?
Lynette: Yeah. I always have my eye on a purse.
Lauren Pinkston: We’ve got lots of them.
Lynette: I know. I know. They’re made in Ethiopia or somewhere. I see a lady’s hands making that purse. I am in.
Lauren Pinkston: Yes. They are. They’re made right there in Ethiopia.
Tera: Love it.
Tera: I love it. Well, thanks so much for joining us and for sharing your story. Our prayers are with you as you go and raise these beautiful children to the arrows in this world, to leave our homes and to follow heart after Christ.
Lynette: Yes, Lauren. Thank you. We appreciate you and Gavin.
Lauren Pinkston: Thank you.
Lynette: Thank you.
Lauren Pinkston: Thank you.
Announcer: You have been listening to the Adopting and Fostering Home, a resource of the North American Mission Board. For more information about today’s podcast and other relevant resources, visit sendrelief.org.