Thursday, November 7, 2019

Considering Becoming a Transracial Family

As a social worker and adoption consultant who has worked with families going on twenty years, I've had hundreds of conversations with white families considering adopting a child who is not their same race and ethnicity. But even with those conversations in living rooms, coffee shops, and conferences calls, I'll be the first to say I'm no expert in this area. I'm a white woman, raising my biological children, who has never walked in the shoes of a person of color.

When we have children, we read books on child-rearing, prepare a nursery, and register for baby items. Adopting a child means additional steps of a home study and being chosen by a birth family. But families choosing to adopt transracially, and specifically the children they adopt, have to tackle head on the complexities of race, identity, and navigating all that means in today's America. Adopting across races goes far beyond hair care and celebrating Black History Month. Let's challenge ourselves to thoughtfully consider these issues for the sake of black and brown children who need parents to not only care for them physically, emotionally, and spiritually, but also to care well for their racial wellbeing.

At its core, adoption is complex. Yes, adoption is beautiful. But it also always begins with brokenness and can leave an adoptee struggling with their identity. Nowhere is this more true than with transracial adoptees. In transracial adoption, a child is not only severed from their birth family, but also from their race and culture. One of the worst things we can do is attempt to be "colorblind" or believe that "love is enough." These are two dangerous beliefs that diminish a person's identity and worth as well as the realities of that person's experiences.

As you think and pray through the possibility of becoming a transracial family, here are some issues to consider and a few practical steps you can take:

1. Confront your own biases

We all have them; prejudices or inclinations about others. Our biases can be explicit (conscious) or implicit (unconscious) and are a part of a broken, sinful world. As a hopeful adoptive parent considering transracial adoption, this is a necessary first step; discovering prejudices you have and choosing to actively fight them with the truth. Without doing the hard work of uncovering your own personal biases, you can't begin to do the even more important work of addressing them. How comfortable are you with people who are different than you? When you hear about racism in America, is your first inclination to listen and learn or to dismiss and deny?

2. Consider your current and future community

"Your child should not be your first black friend." Chad Goller-Sojourney shared this wisdom in his interview with NPR sharing his experience as a transracial adoptee. Make sure your adopted child isn't the first person outside of your race around your dinner table, in your home, and in your close circle. To responsibly consider adopting a child outside of your race, first take a look at your current life. Is there diversity in your neighborhood? Your church? Your local school? Your gym? Would your child see people that look like them in your community? One of your roles as a transracial adoptive parent will be to intentionally seek out racial mirrors and mentors for your child. What would it look like for you to continue to or begin to embrace another culture?  How can you provide your child with opportunities to play, grow, and learn alongside those who share their skin tone? 

3. Count the cost

If you can't identify diversity in your current circles, are you willing to make some changes? Are you willing to intentionally seek out racial mirrors for your child and invite them into your daily life? Are you open to moving into a different neighborhood or community, willing to attend a different church or school, and willing to find experiences for your child where they will not be the minority? Are you willing to find people of color who are in spaces of influence, role models, and leadership in your community: doctors, teachers, and politicians? As a multiracial family, you will come face to face with the ugliness of stereotypes, microagressions, and racism. To reflect God's own heart of justice, you will have to work to fight against these evils. There will be heartbreak and suffering as you watch your child suffer unjustly from the judgments of others. You will likely have some hard, uncomfortable conversations. Are you committed to entering spaces of discomfort for the sake of the comfort of your child? Honestly weighing these important considerations will be critical to prayerfully considering adopting a child who doesn't share your race.  

4. Decide to become a lifelong learner

One of the most important ways to continue to learn and grow in this area is to listen to the voices of  men and women of color. In particular, it is essential that we listen to transracial adoptees. We hear a lot from adoptive families and occasionally from birth families, but we need to especially lean in and listen to adoptees when they share their experience. Here's just a few adoptee voices to listen and learn from: Rhonda Roorda and her book, In Their Voices: Black Americans on Transracial AdoptionAngela Tucker, creator of The Adopted Life, and April Dinwoodie of Born in June, Raised in April. Another way to learn is to be a part of a community that openly discusses race, racism, and works to restore justice. Be The Bridge is an incredible online space and the educational units they offer are especially helpful as you work to learn all you can about these issues. Decide now to never quit learning.

Seriously considering adoption, especially adopting transracially, means that for many families who feel called to adoption they seriously consider what it means to actively work to maintain their child's cultural and racial heritage. The process of learning how to parent a child outside of your ethnicity should begin during the home study (if not before) and continue lifelong for the sake of your child. It is hard and humbling work. It takes courage, dedication, and grit. But this is Kingdom work: when we celebrate the beauty and identity of every race, we bring some of Heaven to Earth.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Adoption Story: Chris and Sam

I remember the first time I talked to Samantha. They had just lost a son but their passion for adoption was so evident. Even after such a tremendous loss, it was clear she and Chris felt called to pursue growing their family through adoption as soon as they could. Today Samantha shares their journey to parenthood that was marked by grief, but eventually led them to two daughters who have brought incredible joy. 

We have been married for almost eight years now, and adoption has been part of our plan since we first met and started dating. We love that adoption allows us to live out the story of the Gospel in our own family while also affirming the preciousness of human life. Even though we always wanted to adopt, we also wanted to have biological children, so we decided to start there. We never anticipated that our journey to parenthood would be wrought with so much pain and loss. We suffered an early miscarriage just three months after we started trying to conceive. We were blessed with our little miracle daughter in 2016, but after she was born we lost four more sweet babies in the womb. After all of this heartache, we thought the Lord might be moving our adoption timeline up, so we applied with our local agency and went through the home study process. Our home study was approved the same day we found out we were unexpectedly pregnant again. We put the adoption on hold and started preparing for the arrival of this sweet child.  Just one week after our anatomy scan at twenty weeks where we found out we were expecting a boy, our son was stillborn due to an umbilical cord accident.

We were broken. We cried out to God with every last ounce of energy asking why he had allowed so many children to be taken from us. During that time, we decided we didn’t want to wait another minute to add a child to our family, so we dove headfirst back into the adoption process. We decided to sign on with Christian Adoption Consultants to help cut down on our wait time. Susan and CAC ended up doing much more than that. Susan was able to help us navigate the whole process so smoothly even while our eyes were clouded with grief.

In April 2019, we started prayerfully presenting to expectant families. Each “no” we received was so discouraging, but as we went along, we learned to present with open hands, trusting that the Lord would sovereignly bring us the child he had for our family. On July 1, just five days before our son’s due date, we got the best phone call we had ever received. An expectant mom and dad had chosen us to raise their baby daughter. Our daughter came five weeks early, and the Lord paved the way for us to get to Las Vegas shortly after she was born. He even placed a free place for us to stay in our laps! We now have an open adoption with our daughter’s birth parents. We were able to become fast friends with them during our time in Las Vegas, and we still talk with them several times a week. We are so thankful for this relationship, for their sacrifice and love for our daughter, and the for education we received from CAC about how to love them well.

Looking back, I can see God’s hand of faithfulness in every detail of our story. I’m reminded of the story of Lazarus. Jesus could have healed Lazarus right away, but instead, he allowed Lazarus to die and Mary and Martha to grieve so that his glory could be revealed by raising Lazarus from the dead. God could have made our path to parenthood easy, but in his sovereign love for us, he allowed us to experience trial and heartache along the way. He gave us the opportunity to cry out to him and be comforted by him. In the end we saw him faithfully care for us through it all, and his glory was revealed to us and many others who were able to walk through our story with us.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Adoption Story: Lynn and Alisa (again!)

One of the hardest parts of the adoption process for hopeful adoptive families can be knowing when to present to an expectant family. With Christian Adoption Consultants, families see possible situations often. This means they are reading through the social and medical history of an expectant family who is considering adoption for their child. Hopeful adoptive parents then have a chance to think and pray through if they would like to be presented and have the expectant family look at their profile, in hopes that the mother will choose a family she would like to raise her child. 

But how do families know when to present? When Lynn and Alisa decided they wanted to add to their family again through adoption, they wrestled with this question. (You can read about their first journey here!) Today Alisa beautifully shares how they wrestled with "knowing when," and ultimately trusted God to bring them to the right baby, at the right time, in the best way for their family.

God will never let you miss your baby. This reminder from our adoption consultant, Susan, often encouraged us when we were pouring over expectant family situations. When we started the adoption process in May of 2018, we decided to present to whatever situations came our way, trusting God to slam the door shut with a “No” if it was not the child He intended for our family. We also had to trust that He would not let us choose the “wrong” situation when we had two or more situations to consider at one time and had the difficult decision of choosing which one to present to. These ended up being the hardest decisions throughout our adoption journey. How were we to know which precious baby God had planned for our family? How were we to know if our family was the family the expectant mom was looking for? What if we presented to Situation A and the family in Situation B would have chosen us had we presented to them? We had to trust that God would direct our “Yes” even as He directed their “No”.

In January 2019, we presented to a baby born situation (our 16th yes!) that we were comfortable with but didn’t really expect to match with due to expectant family preferences. A couple days later we were waiting to hear an answer back when our dream situation from another agency was sent to us:  baby was due in just three weeks (just long enough to prepare but not so long to wait and worry), travel/ICPC time with a February due date fit nicely into our farm work schedule, baby was a girl (we really weren’t gender specific, but thought, since we already had been blessed with a sweet son through adoption, a girl would round out our family), and most exciting, we fit the expectant family’s preferences very well and shared many interests! I remember thinking so this is how people feel when they see a situation and know it is the one for them! There was only one problem: we were not yet free to present since we were still waiting to hear an answer from the previous situation. Writing a letter to the expectant family in this new situation was easy; in the past, we had struggled with what to say in those letters, but this time the words just flowed from my pen. That done, we waited for our update on the current situation which was sure to come any minute. And waited…and waited…  Finally, after the deadline to present to our “dream situation” had passed, we heard from the previous situation, “I’m sorry, the parents have chosen another family.” Just in case we could slip our profile in, we checked with the other agency. Another “I’m sorry, they have already narrowed it down to a couple families…but we’ll be sending out more situations this week. Let us know if you want to present to any of them!”

True to their word, we received a couple situations the next day from that agency, in addition to one from another agency. That evening, we read through the situations, discussed them without coming to any conclusions, prayed that God would direct our decision, and hoped an answer would be clear in the morning. None seemed as “perfect” as the one we recently had to pass up, and we were weary of the emotional stress of deciding which situation to present to. We discussed just taking a break for a while, but God didn’t allow that. For reasons that we couldn’t define at the time, we presented to one of those situations which happened to have a five month match time – way longer than either of us wanted to deal with. It wasn’t an unmistakable this is it; it was more like if this is our baby, God will direct her to choose us – and we’ll deal with the long wait because this is where God wants us. That decision made, we went on with our busy day. Late that afternoon I had a strange number call my phone. I briefly considered that it might be from the agency, but thought it too soon for the expectant family to have made a decision. I answered the call…it was the match coordinator saying “Congratulations!  The expectant family has chosen you!!!”  

I’ll be honest – five months is a long time to wait and wonder if this match will end up in a sweet addition to your family! But the time wasn’t wasted. We had five months before baby was born to lift up the expectant family in prayer and learn to know them through phone visits. We had time to travel to meet the expectant mother, who had invited us to attend an ultrasound appointment with her – an amazing experience and totally unselfish of her to share that with us. We had time to prepare to be gone for an extended time during one of our busiest farming seasons. We had time to try to prepare our two year old son for the change that would be coming to our family. Slowly, the five months passed and we were blessed to spend time with expectant family again before the birth. And then…

We didn’t even try to hold back the tears as Lloyd’s birth mom, with heartbreaking love, placed her precious son in our arms, whispering to him, “Meet your Mommy and Daddy!” Our long-awaited sweet baby boy was here – a perfect addition to our family (by the way, we are so thankful that we have two boys)!

God will never let you miss your baby. Had we been free to pick and choose in our own limited understanding, we would not have been available to present to Lloyd’s birthparents. Looking back at how this journey all unfolded, we can say that God was truly directing each step with perfect timing so He could bless us with the child that was perfect for our family.  

For more information on presenting your profile, check out Knowing When To Say Yes In Adoption. Want more information on working with an adoption consultant? Click here for more!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Adoption Story: Charles and Ryan

Sometimes timing is everything. When a family starts on the adoption journey, it can sometimes feel like the they're spinning their wheels and nothing is happening. It's easy to think the home study paperwork and the wait will be never ending when you can't see all God is doing on the other side.

Charles and Ryan started with Christian Adoption Consultants on October 18, 2018. Five months later, on February 18, 2019, they were home study ready. And July 18, 2019 their son was born. Nine months to the day that they started their journey. Baby Samuel's story is a testament that God is always working His perfect timing, even when we can't see it.

Wow, we have tried to type these words so many different times, they all seem to fail us. Our family has been so deeply blessed to welcome our second son into our home. 

God has been so evident in all the details. Our sons' birth mom had decided she would like a completely closed adoption. Although we longed to have a relationship with her, we of course accepted her decision. We began praying that we could someday build a relationship with her so she would know our tremendous love for her son and for her. Unexpectedly, God provided so many opportunities for our families to bond during out time at the hospital - such an answer to prayer!

We are in awe of this little man and how much he has impacted us. His arrival grew our hearts more than we could have ever imagined and watching him and our first born bond has been the most incredible journey so far. We are equipping ourselves for some of the potential hard times ahead that can come with any adoption, but right now, we are resting peacefully in God's grace coming to fruition through our sweet Samuel. 

We feel so thankful to Susan and everyone at Christian Adoption Consultants for their hard work and faithfulness through this journey. God used them in huge ways to bring our family together! 

Monday, August 26, 2019

A Message to a Birthmom, On Your Daughter's Birthday

I woke up this morning to a message from a sweet adoptive mama I've worked with in the past. It's their daughter's third birthday this morning and the day is filled with plans to celebrate her. But in the midst of the celebration, Krissy shared that she has another mama on her mind. Her daughter's birth mother. She chose to have a fairly closed adoption so several times a year, Krissy faithfully shares pictures and updates with the agency which are then shared with her daughter's birth mother. But their family longs for the day their daughter's birth mom might be ready for a more open relationship.

This morning, she wrote this beautiful letter to her daughter's birth mother. On the birthday of the daughter they share. With her blessing, it's an honor to share it with you today.

To the sweet momma that gave her the gift of life:
As her birthday approaches, you are on my mind more than usual. There's hardly a time I don't think of you, but in the weeks before her birthday, I think of and pray for you even more. I think of what you must have been going through. I think of what you were thinking and dreaming of for her as you felt her kick and move. I remember the day, exactly one month before she was born, when we found out you had chosen us. Our happiness and joy overshadowed by my mommas heart almost sensing your heartbreak.
So, today, I will hold her for you. I will kiss her chubby cheeks covered in icing. I will take so many pictures with you in mind. I will probably let her get away with more than I should, because her day is more than a birthday. It is the anniversary of a monumental, life altering day. A day that you made one of the hardest decisions of your life. A day that we, as mommas, held each other and cried like babies over this precious little girl that changed our lives forever.
So, with you on my heart, I will document every detail of this oh so special day. Photos I'll send, praying that you get them and see the love surrounding our girl. Then, when the day is done, and the cake has been washed off her chubby cheeks, we will pray. We will pray for you and talk about you and read "Tell Me Again About The Night I Was Born" and I'll do just that. I'll tell our sweet, brave, beautiful little girl about a sweet, brave, beautiful woman, and the monumental, life altering day that she went from your arms into mine. And then, with wet cheeks, I'll hold her and tell her just how much she's loved.
Happy birth day. You, sweet momma, are loved.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Adoption Story: Nathan and Vanessa

"Do you think a birth mom will ever choose a large family?" It's a frequent question from families who have children since it's a common myth that birth families will only choose a young couple with no children to raise their child. Nathan and Vanessa had a large family with six children when they started with Christian Adoption Consultants last September. But once they were home study approved in June, they were chosen just five weeks later by an expectant mom who knew they were the prefect family to raise her son. Today Vanessa shared how their family of eight became of family of nine!

Six years ago, God gave us a heart to adopt a child into our family.  After much prayer and waiting on God’s timing, we finally made the decision to go ahead with the adoption process.  It took awhile for us to complete all the paperwork and home study but on June 10th, we were ready to officially apply to various agencies.  Several situations came and went, but on July 8th, we were emailed a situation that we both felt very excited about and at peace with. 

This is where our story starts with God bringing Nicolas into our lives, although He was working way before we even knew. We learned about a mother seeking to make an adoption plan for her baby boy and was going to be induced on the 15th of July, only one week away! We prayed over the situation as we knew it would be very challenging for our large family to make this happen (we have six other children!). We decided to step out on faith and let God work out the many details. We notified the adoption agency that we would like to present our family to the expectant mother and were told that she would make her decision over the weekend. Saturday around 5 pm, we received a phone call from the agency saying that we had been chosen! Our evening turned into a whirlwind of excitement, packing, and planning!

We ended our evening in prayer and with tears as we knew this was going to be hard to leave our oldest four children with their grandparents as well as the big change this would be for our family. We flew out the next day in the afternoon and arrived early in the morning, the day the birth mother was to be induced.  Nicolas was born in the evening and was doing wonderful when we got to hold him for the first time.  

We were both overjoyed at this little blessing God was giving us. We had to wait almost four weeks for the legal paperwork and process to be completed. Our reunion at home was a blessed time as the older kids got to meet and hold their new baby brother for the first time!

God is good and through this journey we learned a lesson about faith.  When we step out on faith and out of our comfort zones, God works in amazing ways.  He provided so much and continued to answer prayer after prayer.  When we started to doubt or fear, His peace would come over us and comfort us.

Nicolas was worth the wait and we are humbled to be called to raise him for the Lord. We are looking forward to the many years we have ahead with him.  Welcome to our family Nicolas! We love you!

Monday, July 29, 2019

Adoption Story: Evan and Theresa

Eleven months after starting their adoption journey. Eight months after their home study was ready. Six weeks after starting with Christian Adoption Consultants. This sweet little boy made a family of two a family of three. Today Theresa shares what those months, weeks, and days held for them as they waited for their son.

We had always considered adoption, and in August 2018 after an ectopic pregnancy and a miscarriage just three months apart, we began our adoption journey. We selected a local agency and reached out to them. They had two orientations each year and one was the following week, so we signed up and attended. Two weeks later we had our home study application completed, and we were home study approved and joined their waiting list in November 2018.

We were on our local agency’s waiting list for six months before we reached out to our caseworker to discuss what options there might be to allow us to see more situations. She mentioned Christian Adoption Consultants as an option to try and make a connection sooner. We did some research and decided that Christian Adoption Consultants was a great fit for us in our journey to start a family.

At the beginning of June 2019 we signed up with Susan. She guided us through the details of each situation we showed interest in, and she was so great to work with! We were both surprised and excited that we were sent situations right away and were able to start presenting to expectant parents. It finally felt like things were moving. We were active with several agencies in just weeks.

At the end of June we were sent two situations in one day, and we knew we wanted to present to one. One was for a boy and one was for a girl, both due in August. After reviewing the information, we felt called to the baby boy situation and asked to be presented. From the interested families the agency would choose six families to show to the birth parents. We got an email a few days later that we were one of the six!

We had only been seeing situations for less than a month, but we knew to expect the wait to be at least several days for an expectant family to make a decision. Although we had waited for over six months already, this several day wait was by far the hardest. This was only the second situation we presented to, so we didn’t want to get our hopes up. However, we both had such a good feeling about it. We shared with some of our closest friends that we had presented to a baby boy situation due in August. Then we tried to busy ourselves doing other things during the wait, such as packing a diaper bag in case a situation would arise when we would have to grab it and go.

We were waiting over the July 4th holiday, and by then it had been six days with no word about the baby boy situation. We started to think the expectant parents chose someone else. However, on July 5th, we got a call from Florida while we were driving to get groceries. The birth family had chosen us and (surprise!) the baby had just been born minutes prior at 33.5 weeks. Tears filled our eyes.

In an instant we went from a family of two to a family of three. That day was a blur; we rushed home, packed our bags, and booked a flight for early the next morning. It was such an emotional day, and with a long list of things to do before we left, there was no time for sleep. At least we knew one thing – the diaper bag was packed! Three of our best friends were at our house past midnight helping us do tasks like taking out the garbage and scanning paperwork. We had no idea what to expect when we got to Florida or how long we would be there. We didn’t know what the baby looked like or if there were any complications. We were on our way to Florida, hoping and praying for the best for our son.

We arrived in Florida in the early afternoon and met our attorney and the birth parents for the first time at the hospital. Then, we got to see our boy! The following day we all finalized paperwork, and we were finally able to hold him. He was in the NICU for 17 days, and we spent every single day (and many nights) there with him, holding him, and comforting him. We celebrated some milestones such as the first day he ate by bottle. We were anxious to get back home and start our lives as a family.

Discharge day was an extremely happy day for us! After that, we needed to stay in Florida for a few days waiting for ICPC to go through, so we hired a photographer to take newborn and family photos of us on the beach. What a great memory from the city he was born in! We also shared a wonderful lunch with his birth parents. Their love for him was so humbling and amazing. We know our son will benefit greatly from knowing his birth parents as he grows and we are grateful for a shared love between our two families.

On our 20th day in Florida, we got the call that we could go home. We spent the day packing and cleaning. We booked a flight out for early the next morning and prepared to take a less than three-week-old infant on his first plane ride.

Now we see that everything was timed perfectly. It was difficult to see that in the wait, but we are glad we continued on, even in heartbreak. Every path and step in the process led here – to our family. We are so grateful for the opportunity to raise this spectacular human and are thankful that we are together and home. He is every part of our lives now, and we are so glad we chose Christian Adoption Consultants. Without them we never would have found each other.

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