The Misguided Sainthood of Mrs. Kleiner

Trying to get it right with the best of intentions.

Location: Seattle, Washington

I have been married to the delicious Joe Kleiner for 6 years. I got preg in 1999 & miscarried at 17 weeks. I was depressed for a very long time. I now know I have PCOS, an endocrine disorder and leading cause of infertility. Joe and I both felt compelled to adopt foster children so we called ANTIOCH ADOPTIONS. They are committed to helping normal people adopt & to getting kids out of foster care. Our kids came home in the fall of 2001. Bret (8), Nene (7), and Tony (5). In 2004 we were contacted because the kids had a new biological sister and through God's amazing providence we now have her too. Yes, that's four-ages 12, 10, 9 and 1. This is where the mythology begins. Often people who don't know us hold to an erroneous and misguided belief that I am special, a saint if you will. That THEY would never be able to live my life. That God has not CALLED THEM to fostering or adopting. I disagree with every cell of my being. I am no saint. But I do believe that Jesus calls us ALL to care for the fatherless, to love the unlovable, and to die to ourselves. So this is my attempt to set the record straight.

Saturday, August 27, 2005


I have a daughter who will be 13 in January.

I can barely comprehend that statement.

I remember the moment I saw her face. We were in the playland of McDonald's and my husband and I had just driven the longest 20 miles of my life. It was familiar. I had seen pictures of the kids and I had even eaten at that McDonald's before--in 1994 on my way to work with in Mexico with orphans. But the feeling was new to me. Intense and instantaneous. Even with her Dad it was a gradual, building kind of love.

The sight of her light brown hair and eyes the color of Godiva sent a shiver through my body. Love flooded my chest. She had an impish smile and a deep sadness in her eyes. I knew there was a sparkle hidden deep. I knew she was mine.

I have seen that sparkle many times over the last four years. Every time we go to a pumpkin patch and she looks for the biggest pumpkin. Flipping rocks at the ocean and searching for creatures. The night she met her baby sister. Standing in line at the Hollywood Hotel Tower of Terror with her Dad knowing she would be in the front row. Meeting Emmylou. She has life in her eyes again.

I wish I could say I always love the sparkle. Sometimes it is accompanied by great mischief and irritated siblings. I get frustrated by her lack of control and tendency to go over the edge. I forget that she is 12 and only beginning to know herself.

We have a deep and often terrifying relationship. I have failed her with my impatience and anger. I am usually quick to repent but I hate myself for hurting her. I want to be enough for her. To bring healing and help her forget her life before. I'm finally realizing how unfair that it. For both of us. She will never forget--and neither will I. We are both wounded by the events that got us here. And yet, in her I see God's redemption so clearly I almost believe it for myself.

Last night we hung out with new friends and bowled. I watched her teenaged angst turn to sparkle as she forgot herself and rolled the ball. She is so devastatingly beautiful. At age 12 I had a bad perm, new glasses and a shaker knit sweater in teal green. She is light.

She is also clumsy and silly and managed to get a gutter ball while using bumpers. On the next lane. But she was so sweet last night. So tender. I forgave myself for a few frames and forgot all the work, all the prayers, all the investment of love at first sight. She sat on my lap and my chest was flooded again.


Blogger jen said...

I want to be enough for her.

What a beautiful post. I'll no doubt be searching your archives in about ten years when I find myself struggling with the same emotions.


p.s. I check your blog every day, and was so excited to see another post I woke Bryan up with my squeels!

12:07 AM  
Blogger Lacey said...

Okay, so I'm sitting here sobbing at the kitchen table... what a joy that Christ can and does actually redeem some of the shit of life... all of the shit of life. How glorious this story is.

11:16 AM  

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