Thursday, October 19, 2017

Questions to Ask When Hiring An Adoption Consultant

There are a lot of critical decisions to make when it comes to adoption. Domestic or international? What about foster care? Agency or private adoption? Go it alone or hire a consultant to help guide you on your journey?

But once you decide on domestic infant adoption and that you want a consultant to walk with you, how do you decide which consultant group to work with? With several consultant firms to choose from, how do you know which one is the best fit for your family? 

I've compiled a list of questions to ask when you interview potential consultants. Use this list to get the most information, educate yourself on the specific services available, and how things work with each consulting firm.

  • How long is your contract?
  • Do you offer profile creation or review services?
  • What kind of ongoing support and communication is available throughout the length of our contract?
  • What are your stats: number of successful adoptions, percentage of failed adoptions, average wait times, etc.?

Recommended Agencies and Attorneys
  • What are your standards for the agencies and attorneys you recommend?
  • What kind of services do the agencies and attorneys offer for expectant and birth families?
  • What kind of vetting does an agency/attorney go through to be a part of your recommended agency list?

  • Are there requirements to saying yes or no to presenting?
  • How much time do we have to decide if we want to present?
  • Do we need to pay a fee to present to situations?
  • How much information are we given to review for each situation? Do we have access to social/medical history, information on the birth father, prenatal records, etc.?

A few other things to consider:

  • It should be easy to get a hold of a consultant. Communication is key when you're adopting and being able to easily reach someone in a timely manner matters!
  • In the same vein, you should feel like they are happy to answer your questions and knowledgable about the entire adoption process. Ask about their professional and personal experience in adoption.
  • Don't hesitate to ask for references of other adoptive families who have used their services.

Ultimately, you want to feel confident and comfortable with the consultant you choose. They will be walking with you during your adoption journey to guide you, advocate for you, and educate you. But they will also be there to be a listening ear, possibly a shoulder to cry on, and to pray with you as you work to add a baby to your family. Finding someone you trust will be invaluable.

If you want to find out more about Christian Adoption Consultants and our consulting services, feel free to email me for a info packet. I'll be happy to answer these (and any) questions you have! 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Adoption Resources

In an effort create an easy "go-to" list of adoption resources, I've compiled this list of some of my most popular blogs on the topic. Find a topic you're interested or use it as a guidebook or roadmap to help you navigate your adoption journey!

Getting Started
The Steps to Adoption 
Keys to a Successful Adoption
Who Is Called to Adoption?  
The Cost of Adoption

Hiring an Adoption Consultant
Why Hire An Adoption Consultant
A New Approach to Adoption
Is Hiring a Consultant Worth It? 
Why I Recommend Hiring a Consultant 
So You Want to Hire An Adoption Consultant 

The Home Study Process 
Your Home Study Survival Guide
Preparing Your Home for an Adoption Home Study

Infertility and Adoption
What I Wish You Knew About Adoption and Infertility {Part 1} 
What I Wish You Knew About Adoption and Infertility {Part 2}  
What I Wish You Knew About Adoption and Infertility {Part 3} 
In Their Own Words: Mother's Day
What to Expect When She's Not Expecting

Waiting in Adoption
What To Do While You Wait
What I Wish We Knew While We Were Waiting
Truth To Cling To in the Wait 
Dear Mamas in Waiting 
What if We Never Get Chosen (Every Adoptive Parents' Fear)

Openness in Adoption
Open Adoption 1.0
5 Myths of Open Adoption
Navigating Openness
Making Promises in Adoption
Silence on the Other Side 

Expectant and Birth Families
For Birth Parents: A Guide for Your Adoption
The Truth About Birth Parents
Dear Adoptive Mom: What Birth Parents Wish You Knew 
The Perfect Adoptive Family {What Birth Parents Are Really Looking For}
Adoptive Mamas Talk Candidly About Birth Parents 

Raising a Child Who Was Adopted
Extending Grace in Adoption 
A Letter to My Real Son 

Other Adoption Resources 
Positive Adoption Language
Creating An Adoption Hospital Plan
Creating Your Family Profile
Your ICPC Survival Guide

Read hundreds of family's adoption stories here

Monday, October 2, 2017

Adoption Story: Zach and Danielle (again!)

Sometimes when God asks you to step into something new and unknown it feels exciting and adventurous. Sometimes it feels hope-filled and thrilling. And other times it feels scary and almost impossible. Crazy even.

This was Zach and Danielle's story when God asked them to put their "yes" on the table for a second time. After the most hard and beautiful first adoption (if you don't remember how Isaiah came to be their son you don't want to miss it), they never anticipated adopting again.

But then, God changed all of that. Today Danielle shares the details of how her family unexpectedly grew their family of seven to EIGHT with sweet Ezekiel Benjamin.

When we brought our son Isaiah home a little over two years ago we thought we were done adding children to our family. The adoption, like many, had been terribly difficult and we were thankful to have the five amazing kids we’d been given. Little did we know God had different plans. It’s kind of incredible the way He moves us to do things we don’t want to do and then gives us the heart to do it.

In the spring of 2016 some close friends invited us to an Adoption Agency fundraiser. I was fitful about attending because I had a sense God would use that time to reveal something important to us. I even started stating my case to God in my mind: “We don’t have enough seats in the van or chairs at the table,” “We’ve already done our hard thing,” “I don’t think I can go through another adoption process.” We hadn’t even made it through the opening prayer that evening before we knew exactly what God was asking of us. Step back in. Say yes again. Even though it seemed impossible and crazy, we did. We weren’t without fear but we knew WHO was holding the future.

We were home study ready and signed back up with our amazing consultant, Susan, by September a year ago. We knew how crucial it was to have Susan’s insights, encouragements and connections in our first adoption and did NOT want to move forward without her. Plus, she had become a trusted friend and confidant.

The months that followed were very quiet. We gave our “yes” several times; we received “no” back every time. There were long periods of time we had no situations at all. We definitely didn’t feel confident the process would end with a baby but we prayed over each birth family and baby. At times we thought this might be why we were back in the process. But as time went on we were finally able to admit to ourselves and to God that we really wanted this little person. That revelation made us feel vulnerable but we kept stepping out, putting our “YES” in the mix.

Mid June we got a call late one night from Susan, “Your family has been chosen!” It was very surreal. The expectant mama was due later in July but at her 38-week appointment they decided to induce her. We flew out to her state and were there at the hospital when baby was born. We met her and her son just hours after he had arrived.

We connected immediately with mom. She referred to us as his parents, every medical question she deferred to us, when the time came to put a name on the birth certificate she put ours on it. She made it very clear that she wanted us at the hospital with her as much as possible and for sure through the nights. We cared for mom and baby with everything we had. It was an extremely exhausting and emotional few days. I don’t honestly know how we did it aside from GRACE. Our kids kept asking, “Does the mommy still want us to be his family?” It was a question we weren’t daring to ask ourselves.

When the time came for mom to be discharged, she signed a temporary custody agreement allowing us to take him from the hospital and she’d sign consent the next morning. We enjoyed every moment with him, wondering over his gorgeous face and sweet dimples. We were cautiously optimistic that the prayers we’d prayed were being answered the way we asked. And then one of our worst fears became a reality.

The baby was asleep on Zach’s chest late that night when my phone rang. Mom had chosen to parent and she, along with her agency counselor and the administrator were on their way to pick up the baby. When the agency arrived they asked if we’d be willing to see mom. She walked in the room sobbing and saying “I’m sorry”, I opened my arms and held her a long time. “We love you. We will always love you and pray for you both.” The pain was searing but there was beauty in it somehow. She couldn’t do it, and I can’t fault her for wanting to parent her son.

It was the gospel holding us together, plain and simple. He saved and sanctified us for that moment in time and only because of His love, we were ready.

We flew home the next morning, devastated. And when we landed in our home state we both had messages from the agency on our phones.

Another baby boy. Born the day after the first baby. And he needed a family. Were we willing?

It was unthinkable. Our hearts weren’t even over the loss that just occurred. It felt dizzying, stressful, and not even right. At first we said we thought this baby belonged to another family.

But then.

We. Said. Yes.

It wasn’t pretty. It didn’t feel right. It was stressful and awful and scary beyond belief. Adoption is risky. Adoption costs. Adoption is incredibly painful and hard. And it takes its toll in many ways.

A week later we flew back to the state we’d been with the first baby. Oddly enough it was the due date we’d been given with our first match. People close to us kept telling us how brave we were. I can tell you that I felt anything but brave! I felt like a coward but we kept moving forward, doing the next thing, signing the next paper, driving the next road. My heart was faint and I’m ashamed to admit that fear and anxiety crouched near me at every turn. If not for our friends and family we wouldn’t have been able to endure. The loved us in so many ways during that time! Even now I can’t begin to unwind how tightly their prayers and support bound us together.

Everything that followed has been a crazy series of events that we still have a hard time believing. We met another beautiful baby boy, cared for him in the Special Care Nursery (his nurses were amazing), and in less than two weeks a second baby was released from the hospital to us. It was terrifying to think he might actually be our son.

I remember a moment in time when I was reading my bible and I looked at this tiny baby still in the hospital and this thought came: You came for me, Lord. I was in desperate circumstances. No one was coming for me but YOU CAME. I was alone and had no hope but YOU CAME FOR ME. His word and His people carried us.

He was welcomed with unhindered joy by his sisters and brother and they have been cuddling, kissing and cooing every chance they get. The way they walked through this with us taught us a lot about freely loving people.

We are humbled. We are amazed. We are incredibly grateful and in awe of the great gift God has given even through the pain.

Ezekiel Benjamin is the answer to so many prayers. It’s amazing grace that God would write the story the way He did, although it didn’t feel amazing at the time! “But God, who is rich in mercy…” He strengthened us, gave us truth in His word and surrounded us with people who’ve supported us in ways we will never forget. After all, it was His love that compelled us to adopt in the first place.

“I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick.”           Ezekiel 34:16

Beautiful pictures credited to LoK Photography.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Is Hiring an Adoption Consultant Worth It?

It's not hard for people to see the benefits of hiring an adoption consultant with Christian Adoption Consultants. Having an adoption professional walk with you and help you navigate your adoption? Yes! But adding the extra cost of having a consultant to an already costly venture could seem unnecessary, even unwise when you look at your budget. How can you justify additional funds that you have painstakingly saved?

It's a fair question. And one I hear often when families are deciding whether they can afford to hire an adoption consultant. So I thought today I would walk through what I share with families who ask if hiring a consultant is really worth it.

An adoption consultant saves you time

Adoption is complex. Anyone who has weighed the idea for awhile, spent any amount of time googling adoption agencies, or started the task of taking the first step knows that there's a lot to navigate in an adoption. What kind of adoption is right for our family? How do we find an ethical attorney that specializes in adoption? What about an agency that really cares about expectant and birth families and will care for them long after the adoption is final? What should we think about when it comes to adopting outside of our race? What is open adoption and are there any benefits?

These questions are just a few of the dozens, hundreds even, you will have during your adoption process. And the good news is you don't have to go it alone. An adoption consultant can provide a personalized road map for your family and is there every step of the way to answer your questions, direct your process, and offer resources and education.

An adoption consultant saves you money

It's no secret that adoption is expensive. Ensuring you have the right professionals caring for the expectant/birth parents, the adoptive parents, and the child all entails legitimate costs. (For more information, see this post on The Cost of Adoption.) While some agencies are able to lower their costs through donors or funders, most agencies and attorneys doing more than a handful of adoptions a year apply the full costs of these services to the adoptive family.

So how does a typical family afford the costs of adoption? There are actually a lot of resources out there to help! An adoption consultant can help with creative financing for your adoption. There are grants and low to no interest loans available, the Adoption Tax Credit, and employer benefits you may be able to take advantage of. And there are many other ways to fundraise other than hosting a bake sale or crowdfunding. Having an adoption consultant help you personalize a plan to finance your adoption can make affording adoption much more attainable. An adoption consultant can tell you where to spend your time and efforts in financing that would be the most beneficial and the best fit for your family, friends, and community. Most of the families we work with are able to add on average $10-15,000 to their adoption budget!

An adoption consultant saves you from pitfalls

While there is a lot of great information out there on adoption, there's also a lot that is sub-par and even unethical. Not only does an adoption consultant guide you toward excellent resources and professionals, but also away from agencies, attorneys, and information that is not. After years of adoption experience, an adoption consultant can help identify important red flags and warning signs and offers protection against adoption fraud.

This can not only save an adoptive family time and energy, but also finances and heartbreak. Avoiding situations that are especially risky and ensuring you are working with ethical adoption professionals who offer real care and counseling to birth and expectant families is imperative in domestic infant adoption. So not only are families often able to increase their budget with the help of a consultant, but they can also save thousands (sometimes tens of thousands) avoiding certain agencies or situations. 

I firmly believe that every hopeful adoptive family has to find the best fit and the best route for them. But is hiring an adoption consultant worth it in the end? Many adoptive families have shared that they couldn't afford not to.

Interested in finding out more about hiring an adoption consultant and information on our consulting packages? Email me at and I can send you an info packet!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Book Shelf: This Undeserved Life

Natalie is one of my clients-turned adoptive mama-turned dear friends. If you talk to Natalie for more than five minutes, or sit down to read a bit of her writing, you can't help but notice her huge heart for others, her passion for justice, and her desperate love for her boys and being their mama.

You've met her here a few times: when she shared their adoption story, her thoughts on adoption and pregnancy, and her "letter to [her] real son." And today you get a sneak peek into her new book, This Undeserved Life (and some goodies if you decide to pre-order this week!).

I spent some of my vacation last week by the pool diving into this book. Honestly, I thought I would read just a few pages but ended up not being able to put it down. So often, when an adoption story is told, the glamorous side is the easiest to see. The family pictures of a couple with a beautiful baby, the stories of answered, prayers, and the beauty of redemption.

These are all parts of the story that should be told. But what about the other, hidden, harder parts? The prayers that went unanswered. The waiting. The infertility. The heartache. The struggles.

In her new book, being released September 18th, Natalie gives you the real and raw insight into their adoption journey. In it she talks candidly about their struggle with infertility and a heartbreaking loss and a job loss that also meant losing a faith community. She honestly and transparently shares the impact all of these things had on her heart.

Today you get the chance to get a little glimpse from her book:

(Fall 2015)

I checked my inbox every hour, waiting to see emails from our adoption agency about expectant moms and parents making an adoption plan. It was a nice distraction from our traumatizing church situation. We received about four each week; some weeks as many as seven and other weeks as few as none. These emails were sent to multiple potential adoptive families working with said agency. Included are invasive details about expectant mothers’ (and sometimes fathers’) medical history. Often times we would read about their jobs, favorite music and foods, weight and height and race, whether or not they are married. Sometimes pictures were included. We had the opportunity to take each situation and decide whether or not to present our family profile book. Presenting incited so much anticipation. When we chose to present to an expectant mom making an adoption plan, this meant she could choose us to parent her child and our family would grow an entire extension.  
We had said “yes” to four different potential adoption situations. Four yeses only to receive four “noes” by November of 2015. In the grand scheme, this is very few; it was a wild emotional toll, though.  We continuously did our best to breathe in and out, trusting Jesus had the adoption story in His palm. He was writing the story, and we needed not worry.  
Yet, saying "yes" to a situation was much more than a verbal agreement, or typing words into an email. Saying "yes" was allowing our hearts to be at stake—open and vulnerable—loving strangers we had never met face to face. 
We were not only saying "yes" to potentially parenting each baby or set of babies, but we were saying "yes" to all the unknowns; the hidden baggage and tragedy inevitably accompanying adoption. We were saying “yes” to a history we had no information about. 
We may have said "yes" to staying in the NICU for weeks to months, watching our baby be weaned off cocaine or meth. We may have said "yes" to risking transferring Hepatitis C from mama to baby. We may have said “yes” to an unknown father.  We could have said "yes" to any unknown medical or substance histories; someone for whom we could only trust Jesus with. The fees due for any adoption would be thousands of dollars we didn’t have, but we remained confident He would provide for us perfectly.  
Hearing "no" wasn’t the end of the world, or our adoption journey. I found myself confident, this is the one, situation after situation. I imagined meeting expectant mamas and how in the world I would walk the tension of grief and joy.  
We received such invasive details about expectant mothers making adoption plans; my heart cracked wide open to love deeper than ever before.  
In crying out to Him and praying for these parents with unplanned pregnancies, I was reminded over and over this isn’t about us. For every no we received, it meant someone else receiving the blessing of a baby; whether that be expectant mom choosing to parent or another hopeful adoptive family. We continued saying yes to presenting, holding our hands open and clinging to His closeness in all the uncertainty.  
We were not chosen to parent this precious set of twins, due in January/February. Though we were not chosen to parent those twins, due in the next three months, we hoped our "yes" would one day be responded to with another "yes." We trusted whoever that expectant mama chose to parent her twins was exactly who her twins needed. That family will be very, very blessed to grow by 4 feet. In this truth, I rejoice and move forward. Rejoicing comes easy when I make the journey less about me and more about Him. 
2015 was scraping me thin and punching me in the gut. Loren experienced it too. We were growing soul tired. And though we were soul tired, weary and thinner than thin, adoption was forcing me to lean into Jesus in a different way than anything else ever had. During a time of complete unrest and chaos (jobless and without our community, a high-risk pregnancy), we had been given an amazing opportunity to pray for expectant families and in-utero babies. Knowing such intensely intimate details about these expectant mamas and families made praying for them an immensely powerful journey. 
Despite the continual “noes,” we continued waiting and praying. We knew we were meant to become a family with the birth of a baby. We continued saying "yes," even at the risk of what felt like rejection. Adoption isn’t about us.  

I'll give you a spoiler: this book isn't just about adoption. Or even just about Natalie and her family. It's a book about grief and brokenness. A book about a God who meets us in the messes. A book about grace and grit. In it, you'll find an invitation to honestly grieve the losses you've faced and meet the God who can heal and restore.

I guarantee, no matter where you find yourself in life; wading through infertility, waiting in adoption, working through messy relationships, you will find truth and glimpses of grace meant for your heart in these pages.

Want to read the rest of the book for yourself? If you preorder here (before September 18th) you get a discount and these freebies!  Grab a mug of something hot, curl up by the pool or a fireplace or the patio of your favorite coffee shop, and read along. Come back here and let Natalie and I know how you liked it!

Natalie Brenner is wife to Loren and mom to two under two, living in Portland, Oregon. She is the author of This Undeserved Life. She likes her wine red, ice cream served by the pint, and conversations vulnerable. Natalie believes in the impossible and hopes to create safe spaces for every fractured soul. She's addicted to honesty. You can love Jesus or not, go to church or not: she'd love to have coffee with you. Natalie is a bookworm, a speaker, and a wanna-be runner. Connect with her at and join her popular email list. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Adoption Story: Brian and Krissy

Today, instead of a family sharing their story in the typical format here, you get the treat of watching it! Krissy shares their adoption story in this little video. You can hear directly from the heart of an adoptive mama why they stepped into adoption, the highs and lows of their journey, and the dozens of details God worked out in the process. Then, you can actually watch as they meet their daughter for the first time.

*This story comes with a Kleenex warning. Just after the ten minute mark I completely lost it!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

repost: open adoption 1.0: a [mini] tutorial

One of the most common questions and concerns I get from adoptive families has to do with open adoption. Can it really work? Are the horror stories true? How does it work for the child? Today I thought it would be helpful to share again the most common questions and my responses about openness in adoption, what we've learned over the years, and what it's REALLY like...

Those two words are enough to strike the fear of God in people: "open adoption." No matter who you are, I've found that nearly everyone immediately goes to the most recent Lifetime movie of the "big bad birth mother" who shows up on the doorstep of the adoptive family with a golf club demanding her baby back. Or the crazed tabloid story of the father that took the baby to the forests of Digibuti and never returned.

I've had this discussion with dozens and dozens of adoptive parents. And other mothers. And friends. And strangers who find out what I do. Because everyone wants to know what it really looks like and if it really works.

So let me just talk to you about open adoption like I would with one of my adoptive families. We're in your living room and you've brewed me some Starbucks to win me over. Done.

I would say this: "Get over it." (OK - I don't really say that.) But this is something like what we would chat about...

Years ago almost all adoptions were closed.  A young woman got "pregnant out of wedlock" and went to "visit Aunt Jean in Oklahoma" for several months. She would deliver, most likely not be given a chance to even meet her baby, and return never to speak of the life-changing event again. Then a sweet young couple dealing silently with infertility would be notified that a baby who matched their skin tone and hair and eye color was ready and waiting for them. Only close friends and family knew the baby was adopted and they would never speak of it again either. Until that sweet baby got to be an adult and they discovered the truth: "Happy 18th Birthday! Here's your original birth certificate - you were adopted [insert super awkward pause here]..."

OK - the story didn't always work out that way. But more often than not, this was a typical plot line. And you've heard it because many of these people ended up on Oprah or Regis and Kelly with tearful and dramatic reunions.

Today we know better. We know that closed adoption is usually not the best for anyone in the adoption triad (birth parents, adoptive parents, and adoptee). For the birth parents, openness offers incredible closure and solidifies their choice for adoption. For the adoptive family, they have important information (social and medical) that make up a huge piece of their child. And for the adoptee, they've heard first-hand from the source the reasons their birth parents made an adoption plan. The child also has more of a sense of identity (I got my brown eyes from my birth mom and my love for music from my birth father's dad) which is invaluable for their sense of worth.

Many people think openness will lead to second thoughts, confusion, and Lifetime movie drama on their own doorstep. Instead, it leads to honesty, insight, closure, and genuine relationships.

Openness is a continuum. For as many different families who have adopted there are just as many variations to openness.

  • Open adoption is typically when the birth parents and adoptive parents have open communication after the adoption of the child.  First and last names including contact information are shared openly between adoptive and birth parents. An ongoing relationship is developed.
  • Semi-open adoption allows the adoptive parent's contact information to remain completely confidential, but allows a meeting between the birth and adoptive parents prior to or at birth. A semi-open adoption also often involves emails or letters and pictures sent periodically throughout your child's life. 
  • Closed adoption is when the birth parents and adoptive couple typically remain completely anonymous.  Only a social and medical history is shared concerning the birth parents. They do not meet or even know first names. 

Here's the concerns and questions I'm asked almost every time I get into a conversation about open adoption:

We don't want to confuse our child.  We want them to know we are their parents.
Usually we're the ones that make things confusing. If the birth and adoptive families are clear about their roles and aren't rivals, the child won't be confused. Just like some of us know and have unique relationships with two sets of grandparents, it doesn't mean we don't understand the important and often different relationship we have with each of them. Ignoring or undermining the significance of a child's birth parents can undermine the child's identity.
We don't want the birth parents to change their mind.  What if they see us and have second thoughts?
Open adoption actually solidifies a birth parent's choice for adoption.Rather than wondering "did I make the right choice? Are the adoptive parents really who they said they were? Do they love him as much as I do?" - the birth parents actually get to SEE their child being loved like crazy and know they made the right decision.   
What if the birth parents are intrusive or don't approve of our parenting style?
The birth parents have chosen the adoptive family to raise their child. Usually, they have received excellent counsel and fully understand the adoption process.Birth parents recognize that they are not in a season to parent and are giving up the ability to parent their child in the traditional sense of the word. After consent is signed and the adoption is finalized, it's understood that the adoptive family is the legal parents in every sense of the word.
So what does openness look like, really?
I've seen families walk this out literally hundreds of ways. I know a family who has set up a private blog and they update their birth parents (and the birth grandmas!) with picture and video updates. Another family sends pictures monthly to add to a scrapbook they made for the birth mom. Many families text updates and pictures. Most families send picture and letters through email. Some celebrate holidays together. I know one couple even who babysit for their now 3 year old daughter! 
Here's the crazy thing: these same fears that adoptive families have are the exact same fears birth families have. I've sat in numerous coffee shops with mamas saying they want to be sure not to overstep boundaries and want their child to know they've chosen an adoptive family to be parents. Big bad birth mama complex?  Right out the window.

You see, these are women who have made the ultimate sacrifice. They are the antithesis of selfish women who only want what's best for themselves. In an open adoption, they have hand-picked a family to raise their sweet baby. Birth parents aren't baby-snatchers. Because of their immense love for their baby they have chosen adoption. Is it hard? Yes. Do they waver and second-guess? Almost always.  But they are the heroes that deserve more than our questioning raised eye-brows. They have chosen LIFE when the world tells them otherwise. They deserve our awe, respect, and honor.

Bravelove, one of my favorite adoption resources, specifically for birth families has several stories of open adoption on their website. Here's one of my favorites that gives such a beautiful picture of the kind of strong love it takes for a mother to make an adoption plan and the joy that open adoption can be.

Really, openness happens best when it's organic. I didn't sit down with my best friend at a coffee shop the first time I met her and chart out our friendship: OK, I need email updates from you every three months, pictures of your family every 6, and these are my plans for celebrating your birthday... Real relationship  is a gradual and slow process. I can't tell you how many families I've worked with who were scared to death at first at the thought of an open adoption, and then met the birth mama and fell in love with her. I've had many families who feel like they've also adopted the birth family and all become like extended family.  

My only caution is this: it's much easier to slowly open the door than to need to slam it shut. Openness happens in a healthier way like other relationships: gradually and slowly.  

I was reading my twitter feed awhile ago and came across this: "I woke up this morning and heard my son's mother reading scripture to him." I immediately had tears in my eyes. It was Mother's Day and one of my sweet birth mamas had traveled across the country (as she has several times now) to visit her son and his adoptive parents. And she was celebrating her first Mother's Day with the mother she had chosen for her son. They are like family now. I can't think of a more beautiful picture of open adoption.

Here's the bottom line: is open adoption hard? YES. But what relationship that is truly valuable isn't. My only "easy" relationships are with the barista and the grocer. Hard, messy, genuine, and worthwhile relationships usually happen in my living room.  

Want more adoption [mini] tutorials? Click here for more resources!

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