Tuesday, May 24, 2016

announcing your adoption (part 2)

So, it's been pretty busy around here which is reflected in the kind of posts that have been non-stop. 95% of the blog for the past eight months or so has been adoption stories and announcements. When babies are born about twice a week to my adoptive families, telling the stories of how God answered prayers,  It's been a pretty fantastic kind of busy if you ask me...

One of the most popular posts of all time has been this one on my families announcing their plans to adopt. I thought it would be fun to run a part two. I love the creative ways families have announced their adoption plans and invited others into their journey. (For more on each family's adoption story, simply click their names for the link!)

Brad and Corrine set up a fun photo shoot for their adoption announcement.

 They even got their dog, Banks to look cute.

Loren and Natalie also set up a photo shoot to announce their adoption.

 Just a short time later they announced they also announced they were expecting!

Jared and Jeanna got their dog involved...

Tyler and Casey made their announcement personal with Tyler's firefighter gear and a rocking chair make by Casey's grandfather.

Later, when they were matched with an expectant mom, they told their parents this way!

Carl and Lesley made this adorable and creative video to tell friend and family on social media that they planned to add to their family through adoption. When they unexpectedly became pregnant just a short time after they made this announcement, they decided to continue forward with adoption and their pregnancy. But then an ultrasound surprised them with twins and they decided to put adoption on hold for just a bit...


Jon and Ruthie announced their adoption on her blog with a post "We Are Growing."

Scott and Karen sent this adorable delivery to friends and family.

And when they found out they were matched with their adopted son's biological sister, they sent out this surprise announcement!

Tadd and Andrea had a friend make this announcement once they were matched with their expectant mama.

Derek and Stephenie just made this fun announcement with their daughters and posted it to social media to share the good news.


 And Matt and Jenny got their boys involved in anticipating the arrival of their baby sister...

For more idea on announcing your adoption, head here!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

adoption story: jeremy and melissa

I'm often asked if large families can adopt. This was a part of the conversation when Jeremy and Melissa first called me with a strong conviction that God was asking them to add to their family again, but this time through adoption. "But will we ever be chosen since we already have six kids?" 

So many assume an expectant mother looking for a family is looking for a young couple who have experienced infertility. And sometimes that's the case. But much more often, and always much more important is the question, "Will they love and care for my baby?" Much more of this topic, and what birth families are really looking for in an adoptive family here.

Jeremy and Melissa's adoption story started long before they began with Christian Adoption Consultants last summer. Today Melissa shares how their daughter came into their family (to make them a family of nine!), the rich meaning of the names she was given, and how their prayers for a decade were answered.

When we felt the Lord tug on our hearts about adoption almost a decade ago, we had no idea how challenging that call would be. We only knew that God had a special addition to our family who would not come from my womb. Over the years He has been so faithful to gently lead us down this road, preparing us along the way for the challenges we would surely face. After the ups and downs of the past few weeks with a quick placement, and an unexpected C-section 3 weeks before birth mom’s due date, drama with the birth family, the birth mom almost changing her mind, and other unexpected things that I do not have the liberty to share here, I can say without a doubt, had this happened in my time frame (5 years ago) we would not have been ready. We thought we were ready, but spiritually, emotionally, and physically we weren’t ready. God is so kind to sometimes not give us what we ask for until His timing. We have been standing on the promises in Psalm 126:5-6 for about 6 years now.  “Those who sow in tears, will reap a harvest of Joy! They go out weeping carrying seed to sow, and return with a harvest.” (My paraphrase) It is because of this verse that we gave our daughter the middle name Joy. We have been sowing seed these past 8 years. We’ve been sowing in prayer, we’ve been sowing in tears. The tears of waiting on God, the tears of wondering if it will ever happen.  Now as I look at our harvest of Joy my heart swells with a new kind of tears. Tears of joy.  

About 8 years ago through a series of God connections with several families the Lord dropped the name Hadassah into our hearts. We’ve been holding onto that name for all this time waiting for our daughter to arrive. In many ways it feels like the end of a very long pregnancy. We’ve always loved the story of Esther in the Bible, she was a young Jewish girl known by her Hebrew name, Hadassah. She was adopted by a cousin, and when the time was right, she was chosen by the king to be his queen. God used her to bring deliverance to the Jewish people. We have always loved the redemptive nature of her story. We believe that our Hadassah has a redemptive call on her life as well. We believe that God will use her to bring healing and deliverance; to be a voice to declare the promises of God to those in bondage and darkness. That just as she was rescued from some very difficult circumstances, she will be used by God to reach others in need of rescue. 

Even though she’s not a huge fan of sleeping at night, and prefers to be awake eating every hour all night long, she is an absolute joy! We are so much in love. All the hard things about this process, all the waiting, it’s all worth it. The thing that I think speaks to my heart the most in all of this is that even though we feel like we’ve been waiting for years for this, Hadassah was born about 9 months after we hired Susan to help us navigate this wild journey. We literally have been praying for her and her birth momma right from the beginning of the pregnancy. It’s amazing to me how connected we felt to her immediately. There was no warming up period, or bonding, it was instant. I attribute that to the fact that she was already ours conceived in our hearts through prayer. I may not have carried her in my womb, but I carried her in the womb of my heart for 9 months prior to her being born. 

Thanks so much Susan for guiding us and answering all our questions along the way! You were a beacon of hope when I had almost given up. 

For a bit more of Jacob and Melissa's story, you can read this insightful blog: Number Crunching the Costs and the Untold Benefits of Adoption.

Friday, May 13, 2016

adoption story: david and kristen

Can I confess a little something here? I work with really amazing couples and sometimes, selfishly, I'm so bummed when their adoption journey goes so quickly! David and Kristen were just like this. I loved chatting with them over coffee when they were in town visiting family about their faith and how God brought them to adoption. They are a couple with crazy big hearts and beautiful dreams and I knew God would use both as he wrote the story of how they became parents. Today Kristen shares her heart and how God brought them to adoption, and how He was enough even in the scary unknowns of it all. 

David and I decided adoption was the right path for us several years after our infertility diagnosis. It took some time to reconcile and change how we thought we would grow our family. There is so much inside those two sentences, pain, fear, anger, grief and hopelessness. Even after we made the decision to adopt we knew we should wait for some practical areas of our life to settle down. I was in the midst of a pretty serious two year dental process that required an intense jaw surgery. 

As soon as I was feeling well post-surgery, we sought out Susan from Christian Adoption Consultants, knowing we wanted to move forward and that we wanted the wait to be as small as possible. We very quickly started the daunting home study process. All along the home study process and the profile process, David and I had to do so many things that were outside of our comfort zone, so many things that we would never have done if it wasn’t required: background checks, finger printing, home visits from social workers, doctor's visits and reports, pictures of ourselves, home, and lives. It was an extensive and invasive, but at each step I felt compelled to just keep moving forward, to stay in the process, no matter what I was feeling fear-wise, I just kept pressing though. As we would describe the process to friends, I would see the grimaces on their faces as we described certain parts and inside I would chuckle thinking “you don’t even know that half of it.” And sure in moments I would cry and freak out and go back to my tried and true line, “I don’t want to do this” “this is not how I saw my life turning out.” But I would press through and say to myself, “Kristen if you want this and keep going there will be a HUGE blessing at the end.”

We were finally home study approved mid-February, and after seeing a handful of situations from Susan and hearing a couple no’s, we finally heard our “yes” on March 18th, a little baby girl who had been born the 16th. We met Emma the very next day and fell instantly in love. Due to legal issues, we had to leave her and wait 30 days for all the paperwork to come through, she was in a city about 4 hours from ours and so we would visit her every weekend. On April 12th we finally got the call that we could pick her up and bring her home for good. 

And now when I look at her I am amazed at this whole process, a process I hated at times but changed my life, made me a better person, a braver person. The Lord was able to match my broken infertile body with a little girl with a broken family, and out of both my loss and Emma's loss, we have been given so much love. I'm still so in awe of this perfect love born out of such brokenness.

P.S. The time between the two pictures shown (announcing to their friends they were planning to adopt when their daughter was in their arms)? 25 days.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

adoption story: ben and laura

When Ben and Laura started their journey to grow their family with Christian Adoption Consultants last May, they didn't know what the road would include.

They didn't know that they would be matched in just a few months and experience incredible joy and then just weeks later discover that adoption was never meant to be.

They didn't know the ache they would feel walking through the holidays last year with the nursery still empty when they anticipated celebrating as a family of three.

They didn't know those months after a failed match would feel like years with long days and heavy hearts.

But through the wait, God knew exactly what He was doing.

They didn't know that right around the time of that initial match, a little boy was being conceived that would need a forever family. 

They didn't know that the months they were left wondering if their family would ever expand past the two of them, God was knitting their son together perfectly.

They didn't know on a Tuesday night in March, a little boy was born and the moment they heard of him they knew he was meant to be theirs.

They didn't know that this Mother's Day, they would celebrate as a family of three with full arms and full hearts, and in awe that the entire time, God knew. 

God knew His perfect plan.

God knew this boy was meant to be their son.

And all of the unknowns came together in a beautiful knowing that this was exactly how the story was supposed to be written from the very beginning.

Photo credit to Jenna Leigh Photography

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

in their own words: a glimpse into open adoption

It's so hard to talk about open adoption as an idea. As a plan or a category. When you talk about open adoption it describes a relationship. It's as unique as the people involved and as important and sacred as the hearts connected. How do you discuss something as complex as open adoption: a birth family and adoptive family deciding to have an ongoing relationship knowing that it's best for all involved? I think the best way to have a conversation about open adoption is to put skin on it. Adding faces and stories to the idea puts it on the ground in a relatable to even "doable" way. 

You've met Matt and Emily and heard their story before if you follow the blog. I love the peek Emily gives us today about the beginning of their open adoption...

If you had been a customer of the Longhorn Steakhouse on Highway 19 in Palm Harbor, Florida last Sunday night, you may have seen two couples walking through the restaurant, ogling a sweet baby boy on the way to their table. You may have commented on how cute he was. You may have thought he looked a lot like the woman carrying him. You may have wondered about the man in the wheelchair. But you likely would not have assumed you’d be witnessing this baby’s biological parents sit down to dine with his adoptive parents. It’s a scene I’ve been playing over and over in my mind as I recount the wonderful experiences of our trip to Florida. The magnitude of that moment, that evening, will never be lost on me. It was incredible to be a part of – and I’m so very grateful we had it.

We had met up with Ethan’s birthmother, L, earlier in the day. She hadn’t seen him since he was a few hours old and was anxiously waiting for us outside a local mall. As soon as we saw each other the tears welled up in our eyes. We embraced and smiled and both looked at this beautiful boy she had brought into this world, and into our lives. As we made our way to the food court we talked and talked and the tears started flowing. It seemed to take forever to get to the food court and finally we just stopped to have a moment. Her, thanking me…telling me how I’ll never know how much this means to her. How happy she is to see him so happy and loved. Me, thanking her…telling her how she’ll never know how much this means to me. How grateful I am to and for her. We hugged again and I had to get Ethan out of the car seat so she could finally hold him again. She closed her eyes, breathed in his fuzzy head, and smiled and talked sweetly in his ear. He smiled and giggled back – always a flirt. It. Was. Perfect. She was able to feed him his lunch as he happily sat perched in a little high chair next to the table. We talked about how things are going for us, for her, for them. She was filled with happiness, it was obvious. Despite how bittersweet the reunion was – she remained firm in her decision. She had no regrets. She had made a beautiful family and she was so happy…so proud that she could do it. My heart was so full. We took pictures and laughed at the goofy baby and genuinely enjoyed catching up in person. I gave her a photo book I had made of Ethan’s first 8 months. Pictures from the hospital, coming home, all the firsts…holidays, pets, teeth, bites…she cried and thanked me for the gift. Soon she had to leave and we made plans to meet later for dinner with her and J, the birthfather.

After she left we sat, dumbfounded. It was so beautiful for me to see Ethan with her. I felt so much love for her. I wanted her to see how much love I have for Ethan and feel reassured…and she did. It was incredible and meant so much to us all.

Later that evening as we nervously made our way into the restaurant to meet them, I had a million thoughts running through my mind. I was so comfortable with L – we have established a very open relationship since our first contact last June. But we didn’t know what to expect from J. As we made our way towards them, I reached out my hand to introduce myself to him…he shook it, then pulled me in for a hug. A hug. I was stunned. He was nervous. Gracious. Friendly. Trying to make a good impression. As we made our way to the table – our little procession L, carrying Ethan, me, pushing Matt with the empty car seat, and J, bringing up the rear with L’s purse in his hand. Again I wondered how anyone could know how our little group was related. So bizarre, and so wonderful.

The evening flew by as we talked about Ethan, about life here and there, about their hopes and plans for the future, about our love for this child they created. It was bittersweet for them both…seeing him with us. Seeing their own features reflected back on a child who will call us Mommy and Daddy. But they seemed happy and grateful for the life he’s been given with us…and the open relationship they know they can have with us and Ethan over the years. Before long they had to go and we made our way back to the door of the restaurant. I stopped and asked the host to take our picture…the five of us together. And oh how I will cherish forever. I want so much for Ethan to know how loved he is, by us all. Looking at the pictures, it is easy to see that love. That beautiful, beautiful love. Adoption, my friends, is beautiful. As hard and complicated as it can be…

For more of Matt and Emily's story, follow their blog over at Karwoski Life.

And for more insight into open adoption, check here.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

adoption story: chad and jennifer

Chad and Jennifer began with Christian Adoption Consultants early last year. It took them several months for their home study to be completed and by early summer they were ready to begin to see possible situations. 

The next few months were full of receiving situations: expectant mothers making adoption plans and looking for an adoptive family. Expectant mothers are never looking for a perfect couple, but they're searching for an adoptive family that's a good fit, the perfect match for them.

That mother found Chad and Jennifer in March. Less than a week later their daughter was born.

Jennifer sent me this: We talked with the birth mother yesterday after placement. She said that she had 13 profiles to choose from and stayed up all night. She said she felt like God told her to pick ours. She said she couldn't explain it but He did. I just started crying, I couldn't believe she said that. I am thankful she shared that. We have loved getting to know the birth mother and was able to spend quite a bit of time with her. God has been with us this whole time. 

It's amazing to watch God bring birth mothers and adoptive families together. He makes a perfect match and knows exactly what He's doing when He creates families. Congrats on your beautiful daughter, Chad and Jennifer!

Monday, April 25, 2016

in their own words: what openness in adoption means to me

You've met Stacey here before. They have two beautiful children through adoption. Both of their adoptions happen to be local and they share an open relationship with their children's birth mothers. I've watched as they have worked to honor these women and the important role they have in their family, created healthy boundaries, and loved them well. Today Stacey is kind enough to share more about the relationships they have built within their adoptions.

Every now and then someone will ask us, "Do you ever see their parents?" And I'll say, "Well good golly, I see myself in the mirror every day!" Buuut not really. I know they are referring to their birth parents, so I'll actually say, "Yes! We text and email, and get together regularly! Just like any other family." And I get it, when they look surprised. That's not the way things used to be, and it's not the way things were done even just one generation ago (although that is a good thing). Open adoption sounds a little scary to some people. I get it.

Before we even began our adoption process, I followed several blogs written by adoptive parents. Two of them in particular had very open adoptions and I loved reading about their families. It helped open my eyes to how wonderful and positive open adoption can be, and I wanted something like that! In early 2012 we were "matched" with an expectant mama who wanted a semi-open adoption - she did not want to know our last name, where we lived, and did not want to see us again unless the baby was older and asked to do so.

Then we met for the first time.

She told us, "I don't want to be an intrusion on your lives." We said,

"You will never be an intrusion on our lives. We want to know you, in whatever capacity you are comfortable with."

She was still confident that she only wanted to know basic information about us, and to only communicate going forward with a dedicated email address. We soaked up every minute we had together, wanting to remember every detail of these amazing people we had fallen in love with. In the end, she decided to parent her son. Today, we have reconnected via Facebook and she is an amazing mother and a brave, strong woman.

Today we have two beautiful children born from two absolutely beautiful women - their birth mothers. How can I not love this person like crazy? Two open adoptions, two birth families, and two unique relationships. We email, text often, Facebook, and regularly get together. We live across town from each other, but still no more than a thirty minute drive. We have been to their houses. They have been to ours, and sat on our couch and stayed late and joined us for dinner at our dining room table.

They are our good friends, and they are our family.

The thing about open adoption is this: our children (and your children, if you have adopted) come from a family of origin. They were adopted into our family, their forever family. These two realities coexist together - it is not an either/or situation, but a both/and situation. I love my children fiercely, and because I love them, I love all of them - and this includes where they came from. We hope to raise our kids to not feel like they have to choose, to feel whole, and to have access to the full picture of their identity. We want our daughter to know that she wrinkles her nose like her birth mom, and our son to know that his blue eyes match his birth grandma's. One day when they have hard questions about their birth, and about why adoption was chosen for them - I want them to have access to the source, to the person who loves them so much that she made that difficult decision.

I want them to not have to wonder, "Did my birth mom love me?" because what do you know! They just saw their birth mom last month and she gave them a big hug and told them that she loves them, in person!

Open adoption has blessed me so much.

I'm aware that our situation might be a bit unique. Even at its very best, just like any other relationship, it takes work. Sometimes there's conflict. It isn't co-parenting, and there are boundaries - just like any other relationship. Your situation may involve addiction, or violence, or criminal activity, and less openness might be the very best thing for your child and family in that case. In those situations, something that I have found helpful is to imagine the same situation but with a different individual - for example, let's say that it's your cousin who is known to be using drugs. Would you completely cut off this relationship? Would you establish clear boundaries - like, they cannot come around while they are currently using - and do what you can to communicate in other healthy ways?

The fact is (and studies have confirmed) that some degree of openness is best for the most important person involved in this scenario - the child! Like I said before, our love for our children is fierce, isn't it? Because of that, I can work through some of my own fears, insecurities, and discomfort if needed.

There's no such thing as too many people to love a child. This is what openness in adoption means to me.

For Stacey's original post and more on their adoptions, you can find their blog at The Starks Adopt.

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