Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Adoption Story: Jeremy and Katie

One day, one phone call, can change everything...

Jeremy and Katie got a call on a chilly day last November and their world stopped. And then, unexpectedly, God showed up and changed EVERYTHING with another call...

For Jeremy and Katie, that second call happened just seven months later. Read the crazy and beautiful ways God turned their darkest nights into dancing as Katie shares their adoption story...


Our adoption story. It feels so surreal to say those words.

When we got married, we lived in this fairy tale, blissful, naive bubble where we believed we were actually in control. In control of our own lives, and especially in control of when/how/where we would have children. We even planned out that we would have a couple biologically and then go on adopt. And that's how it would happen - because we had planned it that way.

One November day, after a year of trying to conceive, our fairy tale bubble was burst. One phone call from the doctor assured us that our plans were not going to happen. We sank into a darkness and sadness that we didn't even know existed.

Why us?

What had we done wrong?

How can our hearts be hurting this deep?

But in that darkness we heard the Lord's beautiful whisper "now it's time for MY plan."

In one fell swoop our God took back everything the enemy had taken from us. Our hope. Our joy. Our future.

Little did we know that walking alongside friends who had adopted through Christian Adoption Consultants year prior would be preparing us for our own adoption journey. We were immediately in contact with Susan and were soon running full speed ahead.

Throughout the entire adoption process we had to make the conscious decision to trust in the Lord and speak out against the darkness and it's lies.

You'll never get matched.

You'll never be able to afford this.

You aren't good enough to be parents.

June 22. We will never forget this day as long as we live.

"Birth mother says you are PERFECT."

And with those six words, our lives were forever changed.

Our son, Jackson, was born four weeks later. He arrived seven weeks early and we spent the next 29 days in the NICU out of state.


Once again, our plans were thrown to the side to allow the Lord's story to unfold. You see, adoption isn't just about waiting parents getting a child. It is a physical representation of the Gospel that changes the course of all future generations.

We are still processing every detail of Jackson coming into our lives and I'm sure we will for years to come. But we know this for sure: even in our darkest moments the Lord is making beauty from ashes. And His plans will always exceed anything we could ever possibly imagine.

"Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think." - Ephesians 3:20

Because the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy our hope and joy; but our God comes, not just to give life, but give it to the full.

Jackson is the full we didn't even imagine to pray for. 

And for that, we are thankful the Lord doesn't follow our plans.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Adoption Story: Will and Megan (again!)

Will and Megan adopted their sweet daughter three years ago (it's a beautiful story!) and knew they weren't done growing their family. When things didn't go as smoothly as the first time around, it would have been easy to quit. Easy to give up. Easy to assume it "just wasn't God's plan."

But sometimes, just when things are the hardest, it means you have to show up and keep pushing through with all of the faith you have. And in adoption, remembering there's another family on the other side of everything, struggling with the hard pieces of adoption as well...




When you've gone through it once, you feel like an old pro, right? Wrong! No two adoption stories are alike and our family quickly found that out when we decided to adopt once again. When our first daughter (also adopted) turned 2, we decided to get our home study updated and start this whole adoption journey once again. The paperwork and home study went swimmingly. Doing that once, you DO become an old pro! But from there, our journey decided to take it's own path, rather than follow the lines of our previous adoption.  

Two failed matches later, we sure felt defeated. Never once did God fail us however. With lots of hesitation but lots of prayer, we pushed on. We were matched for a third time and though it felt right, there were so many signs that could have pushed us away. Luckily, we trusted in God's plan for us. On October 7th, our sweet Miles Steven was born. We weren't given the chance to meet our birth family prior to the birth and our nerves were on edge with two failed matches freshly under our belt that once they met us, they may change their minds. (The most awful things rush through your head during these times. It's up to you whether you listen to them or trust your heart to God.) With God's help, we walked into that meeting room confidently and confirmed to those parents that we would be the family they wanted for their child.  

The thing is, I felt God telling us that though this is hard for us to let our guard down, to give ourselves completely to this family after what we've been through, we have an obligation to them, to us, to our son, to give them all of us. It's hard remembering that there are scared and timid individuals on the other side of the table with the same hesitation and the same uncertainty, when you're lost in your selfish misfortune. I knew as we walked in that room to meet them that no matter the outcome, we needed to show them our true selves and offer our whole heart to them and their child. Without God's steadfast love, I'm not sure I could have done that.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Adoption Story: Cris and Claudia

Cris and Claudia thought maybe it was too late. With two older boys, I remember the first time they asked me if they had waited too long to add to their family through adoption. They wondered if an expectant mom would choose them. Ultimately, they wondered if they had missed the opportunity for God to make their family of four a family of five. I'm thrilled today as Claudia shares how instead of being too late, God worked things out in his perfect timing for their family...


I guess we are not your typical adoptive parents; our biological kids are older, and consequently, we are older too. We have dreamed of adopting for over 20 years. And I confess, some times during those years, I thought it was never going to happen. I thought I missed my timing. During that time, God was working something beautiful in our family. The desire to adopt started in my heart; since I was a child I always knew it. Over the years, I can see how that desire in my husband’s heart grew bigger and bigger. Until he got to a point where he could not even start talking about adopting our little girl without getting all teary eyed. When we first shared our dream with our families – 20 years ago – the reaction wasn’t positive. Most of it wasn’t negative either. Adoption was such a foreign concept to our families, that I think they didn’t really know how to react. We have watched them over the past year, as they became totally on board. Totally supportive. God had been doing something in their hearts as well. We realized, our adoption journey was not only our own. Our relatives, and our close friends were also on this journey with us. 

We kept waiting for the right time to officially begin pursuing our adoption. But it was never the right time. There was always something that prevented us from getting started; the kids, a job, an illness, the house, a move, lack of finances – all good valid reasons to postpone an adoption. Then one day in 2016, my husband said to me, “you know, I’m not getting any younger. We either try to adopt now, or we don’t do it at all.” Wow! Those were the words I had been waiting to hear for decades!  It required a leap of faith. It required the understanding that the right time, in our eyes, the convenient time, was never going to happen. We had to have faith and know that God was on our side.

A friend had recommended a homestudy agency in our town as the first step. They recommended that we start with an adoption consultant – they gave us CAC’s contact information. And that is how we became connected with Susan VanSyckle and Christian Adoption Consultants. I can not begin to express how grateful we are for Susan! She always had such a positive attitude, it was uplifting!  Every time we met with her, or spoke over the phone, we came away from those experiences feeling secure in our decision, and feeling like we were being guided by someone who genuinely cared and prayed about our situation. 

We began our home study process. Here is my journal entry for that day:

August 7, 2016
PILES. I see over there – a pile. It’s a pile of paper. This is not just another pile in the house. Right now, I have piles everywhere. In the kitchen, there is a pile of dirty dishes in the sink. I have a growing pile of clothes in the laundry. The office desk is filling with piles of bills and other to-do’s. All of my piles are crying out for my attention. They all need me. They all belong to a cycle of repetition. The house work never ends. Therefore, sometimes the piles just get ignored for a little while. It’s a Sunday afternoon. I am resting in bed, and once again I see the pile of paper on top of my credenza. This pile is different. It’s not just another pile – this one will change everything. This one will bring an addition to our family. I like this pile. The thought of going through this pile is both exciting and scary at the same time. But God is God. And I know adoption is part of what He planned for our family. So courageous faith is required at this moment. It seems like this first step is the hardest, but I pray for courage to arise within us. We can do this. God has “got our back.” So let the home study begin!

Our adoption journey, home study to placement, took 11 months. I have never felt God closer to us than in those 11 months. It was the scariest thing we have ever done as a family, but we could feel God so close to us every step of the way.

The pain of not being selected after presenting a profile was one of the things I was not emotionally prepared for. But God spoke to us even in those times.  Here is my journal entry after one of times that felt like a rejection.

June 6, 2017
I hear Him say, “Trust me.” And I wonder if He sees me here, knee deep in sinking sand. Slowly being pulled down. I remind Him, “This is too overwhelming for me, my heart can not take it. The rejection is too painful. I don’t want to read another adoption success story. I don’t want to fill out another form. I don’t want to overnight another profile package. This is too painful and too hard.” And He replies, “Trust me.” (A little over one month later, we met our little angel).

Today, we hold our precious little girl in our arms. We are so grateful for everything that God has done. We are humbled by God’s goodness to our family. It was fun to watch our family as they met our little girl for the first time. My mother held her in her arms and cried, realizing how miraculously God has brought her to us. My mother in law recently visited from Brazil to meet her new grand daughter. I watched her hold our little girl and whisper in her ear, “You are the best thing that has ever happened to our family, little girl.”

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Adoption Story: Seth and Vanessa

God writes the best stories. We say this around here a lot. Mostly because it's true. But often because when you're in the trenches and the chapters are still being written, it might not always seem that way and you need the reminder. Seth and Vanessa know that feeling well. The feeling of walking through hard and dark times, wondering how the story would end. Today Vanessa shares how they walked through their story and the faith that got them through.


It has taken us a long time to write this story – 8 months to be exact. Our journey to our son was not easy. We had to place our full faith and trust in God, and sometimes we questioned if He was still with us and what story He was writing for our family. Looking back, we can see that He was there all along, sometimes just in ways we didn’t expect.

We talked about adoption even before we were married. We had a nice little plan – have two children of our own, and then adopt a third. And everything was going according to plan, until it wasn’t. Not long after we decided to grow our family from one child to two, we learned that it would be difficult for us to conceive on our own. But in our hearts, we knew our daughter was not meant to be an only child. We began researching options for adoption, and found Christian Adoption Consultants and Susan. She answered all of our questions and before we knew it, we had signed with her, began the home study process, and found ourselves buried in a mountain of paperwork. We were overwhelmed. Little did we know that this would be the easy part.

Soon, we began presenting to and praying for expectant moms who were considering adoption for their unborn baby. When our son’s birth mom’s situation came to our email, we immediately felt a calling to present to her, and God worked out the details to allow us to do so. About a week later, we received the phone call we had been waiting for – we had been chosen by this expectant mom, and the baby boy was due in February! After a few days of bliss and anticipation, we received word that things may not go according to plan and were even given the option to walk away. But we couldn’t do it. We could not walk away from this expectant mom and her baby boy. And thus began the most trying few weeks of our lives.


One Wednesday night, Vanessa’s phone lit up with 3 pictures of a baby boy who had been born the night before– a big baby boy with a full head of hair! We anxiously waited to see what would happen next, as his birth mom was still unsure of her decision. We cried and prayed and begged for God to intervene for this baby and his mama – whatever that may look like. We went to church on one of those nights, and the message was all about trusting God and never doubting because he always has a plan for us. We both wept as we realized, even more, that things were not in our control, and God had a plan for our family.


It was 5 days after his birth that our son’s courageous, loving birth mom would make the heart-wrenching decision to place her son with us. Her pain and loss was also her amazing gift to us. When we first saw him, our hearts swelled with love for him and his birth mom. This child was given to us in the most loving, heart-breaking of ways. And he is now ours to love forever.

The rest of our journey was filled with twists and turns and moments that left us gasping for air. Even when we felt that our world was spinning out of control, God was there to bring us back. He showed His love in big ways, sometimes in the darkest times. 


Last week, we finalized Weston’s adoption. He is the perfect addition to our family and our daughter could not be a prouder big sister. Our faith was tested and there were times of doubt. But God knew all along how our story would end. He truly writes the best stories. 


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Adoption Story: Ben and Amanda

Sometimes songs provide a soundtrack to seasons in our lives. When Ben and Amanda found themselves unexpectedly in a story of heartbreak and infertility, they clung to Jesus and a song from All Sons and Daughters; Wake Up. Within that song, and their faith, they found that God had not abandoned them through it. He was walking with them the entire way...


Testimony. We hear about testimony in church on a weekly basis. God healing cancer, repairing marriages, mending relationships, miracle babies, bringing success to businesses, you name it, God is moving in our lives daily. We hear about these amazing testimonies all the time and my husband and I started to feel lost in the shuffle. We had been trying to start our family for over 5 years. We tried naturally, we tried Clomid, we traveled, we tried IUI, we got a puppy, we tried natural again, we bought a big house, we traveled, we tried IVF, twice, and along the way we conceived and miscarried 4 times. With every positive pregnancy test we thought we would be able to share our incredible testimony but only to quickly realize that again we would miscarry and we had no testimony to share. Was God forgetting us?

WE HAVE SEEN THE PAIN
THAT SHAPED OUR HEARTS
AND IN OUR SHAME
WE'RE STILL BREATHING, 'CAUSE...

We shared our struggle publicly, educating friends and family. We hoped that by sharing our story that it would help others who might be suffering silently to know they are not alone and to help everyone else have a better understanding of this disease. During our journey people would say “why don’t you just adopt?” like it was something as simple as buying a new pair of jeans because the current ones had holes. It felt so hurtful and dismissive – to the infertility community AND adoption community. At the time, we just didn’t feel like that was the way God wanted us to build our family. God was not leading us that direction. It wasn’t time yet.

We traveled the infertility road for five years and decided to take a year or two break after our last IVF and miscarriage. We began to wonder if we were meant to be parents. We started our break in July of 2016 getting back to regular life without injections, meds, special diets, therapy, etc. It was heavenly! We reconnected with friends we hadn’t seen in years and began dating each other again. It was bliss!

Then in December 2016 things started to change in our hearts. My mom learned of a little girl who was urgently in need of a family - her parent were not able to parent - and she needed a forever home. On that call we, for the first time, said yes to learning more about adoption. We wanted this little girl to have a family by Christmas and thought maybe it could be us! But boy 'o boy we were naive. Adoption is not that simple we quickly learned. But instead of shying away I spent days and weeks secretly researching the adoption process. Reading stories that can only be written by God himself for so many families. My heart started to change and I remember getting this overwhelming feeling that we needed to step faithfully forward in God’s plan for our growing our family; and this plan was adoption.  He spoke into my heart that something special was coming and we needed to step forward in obedience. The time was now and it felt so frantic!

WAKE UP WAKE UP
WAKE UP ALL YOU SLEEPERS
STAND UP STAND UP
STAND UP ALL YOU DREAMERS

In January of 2017 I finally shared with my husband that I had been doing endless hours of research and soul searching and my heart for adoption had grown. I shared that God has a plan for our family and we needed to move forward with adoption. My husband was a skeptic at first but as a good husband does - he trusted me and said yes to learning more. 

In February we agreed that adoption was going to be a big journey with many unknown twists and turns but learned that there are people out there that can help you navigate the waters.  After some research, enlisted Susan with Christian Adoption Consultants to help us. CAC has been such a life saver during this process. We knew the infertility world like the back of our hands but this was all new to us. Susan helped us step forward in our faith and we got the process of our home study rolling in March. After delays and frustrating months getting our home study completed we finally had approvals in July to officially become a waiting family.

It didn’t take long to start receiving situations and we actually said yes to our first one in early July! It was thrilling, exciting, and such an adrenaline rush! It felt so right. After a few days wait we learned that we were chosen by the birth parents for a boy that was due to be born in early December 2017. Our hearts were thrilled and we praised God. Excited we shared the news with family that we were finally finally going to be parents. Unfortunately, only 6 weeks after we matched, the birth parents started to feel connected to their sweet baby and they decided to parent. Our match failed and we were crushed. We questioned God. We questioned if we were forcing the growth of our family by pursuing adoption. But somehow we kept hold of a mustard seed of faith.

WE HAVE SEEN THE HOPE
OF HEALING
RISING FROM OUR SOULS
IS THE FEELING...

My gut began to tell me that if that match ended so early it was because something bigger was coming. God gave us a feeling of peace to trust in his plan to grow our family and continue to step forward in faith. So we started reviewing situations again but none of them felt right. Would we ever feel that organic feeling of “this is it” again when reviewing a situation?

We saw about 20 more situations before that familiar feeling returned. I remember I was feeling emotionally drained with this process when I opened the email from Susan that describe another potential situation for a baby in Florida that was due in about 30 days. I got through two paragraphs before I called my husband in tears telling him that I had the feeling again and he needed to review this immediately. We had to present our profile and he quickly agreed. We decided to keep this a secret from our family because we did not want to let them down again if we were not chosen. The emotional roller coaster our family had been on with us over the years was wearing on them – four miscarriages and a failed adoption was not just difficult for us, it was hard for everyone. We decided we could wait a few days before telling them anything.

WE ARE DRAWING CLOSE
YOUR LIGHT IS SHINING THROUGH

Then category 5 hurricane, Irma, happened. And the few days we were supposed to wait turned into two weeks. We didn’t get very much information during this delay and fear of another loss began weighing very heavy on our hearts. It felt so right when we submitted our profile and yet we felt it slipping thru our fingertips again. In isolation because we still hadn’t told anyone. Did we not hear God right? We kept trusting though because we just felt like we needed to see this one through. So we kept waiting.

Then we started to get updates as we headed into the 3rd week of waiting that the expectant mom was reviewing profiles. Hope began to build. The very next day we then learned that she was actually scheduled for a c-section and baby was coming early. So we prepared for a potential life changing call that night! ….but it didn’t come. And we kept waiting. I remember telling my husband that she decided to parent and we just needed to move on and we agreed that we would give it the weekend before doing so. How do you let go of something that feels so right though? Well, you don’t.

ALL THAT YOU REVEAL
WITH LIGHT IN US
WILL COME TO LIFE
AND START BREATHING...

The waiting was incredibly difficult and I cried tears of heartbreak and frustration not but 10 minutes before Susan called us with the most life changing news. Our baby girl had been born, was healthy, and we were chosen by her incredible birth mom to parent her. She picked us. We stood in our kitchen with dinner going cold just crying in disbelief. We still had not told our families this was happening so we began making calls to our parents letting them know that we had been keeping a huge secret and we were heading to Florida to meet our daughter! We took a day to prepare and buy all things baby girl. Then we got on a plane with one way tickets to Florida praying that this really truly was God’s plan for our family.


I remember tears streaming down my cheeks as the plane took off out of our home state praying that we would not come home empty handed. I listened to All Sons and Daughters - Wake Up - on repeat until we hit our destination. Quoted throughout this story these lyrics captured everything about our journey so perfectly.

HANDS UP, HANDS UP
HANDS UP ALL BELIEVERS
TAKE UP YOUR CROSS, CARRY IT ON...

We spent 3 weeks in Florida waiting on ICPC bonding with our baby girl who grew in our hearts for so long. We always wondered if it would feel foreign when we held her for the first time but honestly as soon as we laid our eyes on her our hearts responded with the feeling of “oh, there you are, we’ve been waiting for you.” While in Florida we had the great honor of meeting our daughters brave birth mom and grandfather during our time in Florida. We truly reveled in the feeling that we all already knew each other. To our surprise, conversation flowed so easily and we planned our next visits to continue bonding and staying in touch. 


Looking back, God could not have written our story any more perfectly. While adoption was not our plan A, we left no stone unturned and know in our hearts that our path to adoption was purposeful and led by God. He knew exactly who our daughter was long before we did and he knew exactly how to lead us to her.

God's hands are all over our adoption story. Our daughter’s birth mom and I share the same birthday month and baby girl shares the same birthday month as my husband. She was born 9 months after we stepped forward in faith to pursue adoption. Faith. Such a common thread in our journey so much so that I tattooed “walk by faith” on my arm as a reminder that God is always shaping our lives and we have to trust in Him. Faith is the name her birth mom chose for our daughter.

This is God. This is our testimony. He is always with us.

HERE WE STAND OUR HEARTS ARE YOURS, LORD
NOT OUR WILL BUT YOURS BE DONE.



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.

Services
  • 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?

Situations
  • Are there requirements to saying yes or no to presenting?
  • How much time do we have to decide if we want to present?
  • Will we know when we see a situation what agency or attorney it's from?
  • 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





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