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.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Adoption Story: Josh and Autumn

So often we want to rush to the end of the story. The one with the happy ending with full hearts and full hands. But sometimes what God does in the midst of the wait is every bit as important as the outcome.

Josh and Autumn found that to be true in their own story. The story began hearing they would never have children...

When Josh and I were planning our life together, we knew it would be a difficult road to having children. He was told long before we were married he wasnʼt able to have kids. We dreamed of our wedding, life together, and adoption from the very beginning. However, this was our first experience that Godʼs plan is never what we have pictured. I remember everything about the day that I found out I was pregnant with our very first baby. I was shocked and instantly in love with this tiny baby in a way I never knew could be possible. We were fortunate again with our second. We were quite content with our one boy and one girl family for so long. 

Then one day, our kids started talking about a “baby brother or sister.” This got me thinking about babies as well! We tried for a third, but this time it wasnʼt happening as easily as before. Then our doctor started suggesting medicines as time passed. We went home and knew that we already came to love the idea of adoption long ago. So we decided to start fostering. I had been having strong feelings to foster and seemed to be meeting so many people with ties to foster care. We were certified to foster to adopt in February of 2017. We had three short placements but nothing long term had worked out. In our county the system tries to keep the kids in their community of origin which meant that unless we were closer to the city, we werenʼt likely to be chosen for long term placements.

We then found Susan with Christian Adoption Consultants in July of 2018 and decided to go down the path of infant domestic adoption. She was so helpful in guiding us through our adoption process. I was so grateful for her knowledge and her perspective in all of our experiences. Our profile book also came out just perfect because of all the work she put into it. We were home study ready in two months. (We had been through a rigorous home study with foster care which allowed us to expedite the process a bit.) We saw our first “situation” in late September; an expectant mom looking for an adoptive family for her baby. We finally saw a situation that felt right in November and decided to present our profile. We were nervous for days and I remember praying and hoping this would be our baby. This happened several times that we heard "not yet" and I found myself praying for one of the stories of “we matched and had a baby in three weeks with CAC!” This was the second time we learned of Godʼs plans not being as we pictured. I thought for sure weʼd be holding our baby girl by Christmas. The wait was so hard during the holidays and I prayed often to have a baby sometime through the holiday season.

In late October we got a call from our foster agency. They had two baby girls that needed a home; ages one year and two months. It was another short term placement and would only be for the weekend. I said yes and didnʼt think much more about it since we had calls often asking about our availability but often didn't end up as a placement in our home. This time, to my surprise, we got a call back that they would be to our house in twenty minutes. I sent my husband out for all the things that baby girls would need for the few short days they would be with us. It turns out they were a part of our family for nine months. We fell in love with these sweet babies as we continued to pursue domestic infant adoption. It was during this time that we experienced two failed adoptions, but being able to love on and care for these beautiful girls was a gift in the midst of it all. In March we received the news that they would be going home with their biological family in June. 

It was Spring now, and we had been on the journey to grow our family through adoption for two years. First through fostering, then through domestic adoption but we seemed to be at a dead end. But an unexpected email in late May changed everything.

An agency through CAC contacted us about a baby boy, born just three days earlier. It was a complete surprise since we hadn't heard from this agency for months and were focused on getting the girls back home soon. After much prayer, we decided to present and held our breath, wondering about God's plan for our family. We didnʼt hear anything that evening and we expected they wanted to get someone out to him fast since he had been all alone. I went to bed thinking that it was just another “not yet.” But the next day, to my surprise, we got the call that we had been chosen. 

From that moment everything seemed to fall into place. We rushed to pick up this little baby who would become our son. It all seemed surreal and seeing him for the first time felt so right. This little boy we had been praying for for years, not just as a couple but as a family, was finally here. It's hard to explain the moment you hold your child for the first time and realize all of the hard things leading up to it were worth it.

Not only did everything fall into place, but everything seemed to make sense. Becoming a foster family two years ago. Signing up with Christian Adoption Consultants. Providing a home for those precious girls in the midst of it. Looking back we could see all of the steps it took for us to get to this moment.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Adoption Story: Travis and Angela (again!)

I first met Travis and Angela in 2016. We were in the back of a little coffee shop when they told me their dreams of having children. It was just a few months later when they welcomed their first son home. And today, Angela shares the story of how they doubled their joy, and their love, as they welcomed a second son into their family.

In January, 2018, we started discussing growing our family and pursuing our second adoption. Renewing our home study went lightning quick and things started so fast at the very beginning. During our first adoption, we matched within just three months of being home study complete. We took a different route this time and Susan updated our profile. We were praying to be able to adopt from the same group as our first adoption since we had such an amazing experience.

This time around, the wait was much longer and we had to remind ourselves over and over it was all in God's perfect timing. There was even a time when an expectant mother was deciding between us and another family. She chose the other children and it was the hardest “not yet” we had gone through. At this point a full year had come and gone but we trusted that God knew exactly what He was doing.

In January, we knew we needed to renew our home study so we started that process. The day we met with our social worker we heard about a baby boy who had just been born. As we read about him and all of the information, our hearts were so drawn to this little boy already. But there were so many unknowns that terrified us as well. He was born prematurely and there was a lot of medical records to pore over; most of which we didn't understand in the beginning.

As we talked with our social worker, reviewing the information and anxious about all of the unknowns, she helped us think through all of the details. As one point she looked at me and pointedly asked, "What is stopping you in this situation? What is your deal breaker?" At that point we certainly didn't understand all of the overwhelming medical records and didn't know what the future held for this little boy. Could we go the distance...what if we lost him right away...are some of these issues so significant that they could be terminal...?  We reached our to our pediatrician in an effort to better understand all of the possibilities.

Through tears we knew our answer. We knew that even with all of the unknowns that we needed to say "yes" to this baby. On January 22, we found out that we were chosen to parent this precious little boy. When we made it to the hospital where our son was waiting for us. In the coming days we saw miracles unfold. With the help of a wonderful nursing team, speech pathologist, and occupational and physical therapy, what was supposed to be weeks in the hospital turned out to be ten days. God’s perfect timing and a healthy little boy. 

Throughout our entire journey, we could see God’s hands everywhere. 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Brokenness in Adoption

So often we talk about the beauty in adoption. And I often use the hashtag #adoptionisbeautiful. I believe God's heart and the message of the Gospel is on display in adoption. I'm also convinced adoption is an incredible and brave choice that both a birth and adoptive family can step into when they believe it's the best option available for a child. But too often, we ONLY talk about the beauty in adoption and completely miss the other side of the story. And it's an important one.

Adoption always begins with brokenness. If things were as they should be, all parents would be able to raise their children. Families would always stay together and fathers would always be actively engaged. In a perfect world people wouldn't struggle with addiction, there wouldn't be interpersonal violence, and parents would always have the financial and emotional resources they need. Every pregnancy would be planned and every addition to the family eagerly anticipated.

Often the brokenness isn't just experienced by the birth family. I work with adoptive families who have lived through their own brokenness. Infertility, miscarriage, child loss....many families step into adoption because of their own loss. They want to grow their family but have been heartbreakingly unable to do so biologically. Stories of childhood cancer, secondary infertility, attempt after attempt at fertility treatments, miscarriage, and the death of a child are all results of a fallen world and brokenness for hopeful adoptive families as well.

We also live within a broken system. Too often, it's easier for a woman to obtain an abortion to deal with an unexpected pregnancy than it is to find practical support and assistance to parent her child. With differences in state laws and little federal oversight, there are people, even professionals who take advantage of everyone in the adoption triad for their own benefit. Racism and classism impacts adoption and ethical issues can be found in the domestic, foster care, and international adoption arenas.

And, perhaps most importantly, is the loss an adoptee experiences. Too often the child at the center of an adoption story and their brokenness is overlooked. They have lost their opportunity to be raised by their birth family. They have lost an important connection and issues like identity, belonging, and  abandonment are commonly wrestled through. The fact that many adoptive parents may not recognize these issues or be willing to have these conversations with their child can add to the loss and grief an adoptee experiences.

In the end, someone walks out of the hospital with empty arms and broken hearts. And that heartache doesn't just last for several weeks postpartum. The brokenness in adoption is a reality for everyone in the adoption triad for a lifetime.

So where does that leave us? It would be easy to throw our hands up in frustration and decide not to step into something so broken. We could ignore the mess that's inevitable in adoption. We could whitewash and try to cover it up; only talking about the "pretty" parts. But glossing over hard things in life is never the answer. Just like everything else in this world, sin has impacted the way things were intended and this side of Heaven we have to decide how to engage with it. 

How do we step into the brokenness of adoption with the hope of the Gospel, knowing God has the power to redeem and restore? Surely it's no easy task, but there are practical ways we can acknowledge the bittersweet of adoption.

We can tell the truth about adoption, sharing the good and the hard. We can work to ensure we don't gloss over the beauty that can be found in adoption and make less of the grief and loss that's involved. We can make space for adoptees (children and adults alike) to share the love they have for their adoptive and birth families and the complex emotions they uniquely wrestle with. We can ensure birth families are honored, cared for, and have resources for the long haul. And we can advocate for change; calling for ethics in adoption, holistic care for expectant and birth families, and work for biological families to stay together whenever possible. We can hold the celebration and the grief that comes with adoption as equally important and valid. Let's roll up our sleeves together because hard things, and especially the people involved, are worth it.

The reality is adoption is beautiful. And hard. And amazing. And broken. Like the rest of life, it's a complex mix of realities. Ultimately brokenness pushes us to a Healer. It gives us hope that one day God will fully restore all things. And until then, it provides a desperate dependance on His ability to guide us through the beautiful brokenness of it all.

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