This boy

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This boy. If I think about my anxieties and fears as I walked the ancient streets of Seoul it can still trigger deep feelings for me. The city of Seoul; so rooted in its past of old world cobblestone streets, palaces and traditions –  is also filled with the most modern buildings and high-tech amenities one could ever imagine. I am not sure there has ever been a more poignant representation of the contradictions that arose in my soul as we traveled around the world to bring our boy home, than this place.

This boy. A child who I deeply love (and loved) also brought about the hardest time emotionally I have ever walked through. His presence throwing me into a tailspin of anxiety I’d never faced before.

This boy. His deep hurts. His need to be loved unconditionally. His smile. He too represented a deep contradiction of terms. For beneath his dimpled smile lay years of wounds that we would unravel with him. Wounds that were both ours and his.

And wounds require many roots.


I recall at the time a group we would email and message with during our stay in Korea. I remember living half-a-day away and clinging to the hope that would travel across my screen from our friends and support network back home.

I remember rocking back and forth, hysterically crying, full of feelings of overwhelm at the idea of this little boy who so deeply needed me and I had so little to give him. I remember sobbing face down, jarred by the contradictions of his situation and my own insecurities – Jimmy praying over me as he quietly whispering in my ear – “you will overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony”.

This boy. His beautiful story not yet fully written had uprooted most of what I thought I knew about myself and what I thought was the source of my strength.

This boy. My son. Whose own name means Overcomer – taught me how shallow so many of my roots were. He brought me to the end of myself and back again. At the time, it was all just too overwhelming for my soul.

Now walking many families through the tough and unexpected terrain of adoption – with all its twists and turns – I am reminded it is always riddled with complexities and deep hurts the outside world could not imagine. I am certain that all that I went through bringing my sweet son home was pregnant with purpose. As I wade into the deep waters with children and families, I frequently ‘give permission’ to weary souls to do the same for themselves. Psalm 23 reminds us that God Himself not only invites us to quietness – He leads us there to restore our souls.

Lately I have been spending more time in quietness; more time reading and praying. More time intentionally unplugging and resting. Partially because I can, and partially because I must. I realize that I cannot be rooted in, tethered to or anchored to other things and expect to journey through this life my soul in tact.

What would it have looked like all those years ago if my roots had been just a little bit deeper?

I invite you into our world. This is the complexity that is adoption. A beautifully broken dance between a parent and child that requires deep roots and a circle of support to weather the contradictions and complexities to do what it takes to knit our family together. To be rooted.

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“Only in repentance and resting in me will you be saved.
In quietness and confidence is your strength.”
Isaiah 30:15

This boy – my son – taught this to me.

Elizabeth Occhipinti


My son today. My Overcomer. Shown here nearly 6 years after we adopted him.




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