Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Adoption Story: Colin and Kendal

This sweet family of three was built by adoption. But if you had asked Colin and Kendal just a few years ago if they dreamed about their family story, they wouldn't have imagined this kind of beginning. Today Kendal shares how an unexpected and heartbreaking diagnosis led them to their daughter.


Over four years ago, we received some information that changed our world – that we have less than a 2% chance of naturally conceiving a child. As a young, married couple with hopes of a full family, an infertility diagnosis immediately caused those dreams to come crashing down. At a loss on what to do next, we remained in a mixed state of shock, depression, sadness, and overall limbo for two years. However, after encouragement and support from close friends and family, we reached out to Susan and Christian Adoption Consultants in June 2016, ready to begin our adoption journey! After learning more about adoption, working with her to get our family profile book put together, and completing our homestudy, we started receiving and presenting to situations and began the long wait.

After a tiresome day of work on a random Tuesday in late November 2017, Susan’s name popped up on Kendal’s cellphone and she gave us the news we were waiting years for – that an expectant mother chose us as the adoptive parents for her baby! Those crashed-down dreams of parenthood were alive again and coming true! And on March 9, 2018, we experienced the immense joy that can come from holding your baby in your arms; our daughter – Caitlin Rose!


While adoption wasn’t something we talked much about prior to our infertility diagnosis, it’s clear to us now that it was God’s plan all along. We had to go through all the “junk” of infertility, discouragement, and waiting in order to get to a point of surrender to God and His perfect plan. We likely never would have come to the decision to adopt if our life had gone as we had planned. But how grateful we are now! Caitlin is our perfect match and we cannot imagine our life without her. 

We’ve learned many things through this process. How to be patient and wait on God. How family is much more than biology; our love for Caitlin is beyond anything that we could have imagined and how she entered our family does not change our love for her. And we’ve learned how much love you can have for your child’s birth parents. Birth moms – and birth dads – make selfless decisions to ensure that their baby has the best life possible. They sacrifice their role and trust us with the responsibility instead. Adoption is messy and hard, but it is beautiful.




Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Repost: What To Expect When She's Not Expecting

With Father's Day around the corner, I wanted to share Colin's post again from a man's view of walking through infertility. (Also, stay tuned for an exciting update from their family later on the blog!)

Colin and Kendal are in the midst of their adoption journey and have chosen to share their experience and story at Finding Our Arrows, praying it will also encourage others. Today Colin shares transparently about how their struggle with infertility has impacted him as a husband and how he's learned to support his wife through it as well. I'm thrilled to share a man's perspective of infertility, grief, and hope.


I’m sorry, what? “There is less than a 2% chance you can naturally conceive a child.” No, no, you must be mistaken. This must be some cruel joke; after all, it is April Fool’s Day.  “Less than a 2% chance.” But we followed the plan – we both graduated college, I finished law school and passed the bar…we even recently started building a house! Now it is time to start building our family, too! All of our friends are pregnant – surely this is wrong! But the doctor wasn’t wrong. And on that day, April 1, 2014, our lives were turned upside down. 
For those husbands whose families are struggling with infertility and adoption, trying to cope with the heartache, and searching for what to do next all while attempting to faithfully lead their families through such a trying time. Guys, this post is for you. Trust me, I understand and can empathize with the challenges and struggles you are facing; with the feelings of doubt, anger, and confusion. And because of that, I wanted to share with you a few lessons God has taught me through our journey. I’m no expert, but these are just a few of the thoughts and perspectives I’ve gained from our experience thus far.
My first encouragement is men, if your wife is struggling with infertility, make sure you allow time to grieve. Ecclesiastes 3:4 says “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”  Kendal and I received our infertility diagnosis in April 2014. At the same time, we were in the process of building our first home, so questions of wall color, furniture placement, and landscaping filled our minds. After closing on our home that June, our life settled down a bit. So, during a summer evening walk, and just a few months after receiving our tragic diagnosis, I brought up to Kendal the idea of adoption.  My comments were met with silence.
You see (spoiler alert), men and women think differently. Men are fixers and problem solvers.  In my mind, infertility + wanting a family = adoption.  This logically made sense to me.  But I missed the mourning and grieving part. Kendal wasn’t ready. She was still working and processing what such a diagnosis really meant. And I jumped waaaaaaay ahead of her, unrealistically expecting her to be on the same page as me. So men, take the time to grieve and mourn with your wife. And trust me, we did and still continue to do so, both together and individually. I still struggle with this, but I’m learning to stop, slow down, and just wait for her. We both wanted a family, and obviously both came to the decision of adoption, but take time to mourn and grieve with your spouse. Cry with her, hug her, love her. While adoption may be in your future, and perhaps it is God’s plan for you, it is ok to take the time to be sad. 
Secondly, realize that just because you made a plan, that doesn’t mean God has to fit Himself into it.  Proverbs 16:9 says “A man makes a plan in his heart, but God directs his path.” Kendal and I met while we were in college (Geaux Tigers!) and were engaged in December 2009. I was in law school at the time, so we weren’t “ready” for kids. But once I finished and passed the bar in 2012, we wanted to add to the two of us. We thought we were ready – it was just “time” to have children.  All our friends were pregnant and asking us when we would have children. They spoke as if it were a guaranteed outcome. But it just wasn’t happening for us. God wasn’t fitting Himself into our timeline – into what we thought we wanted and when we wanted it.
For two people who like plans, schedules, and being in control, this is a tough one to learn. God isn’t restricted to what our feeble minds can imagine, but just as He told the prophet Habakkuk, He is “doing a work…that you would not believe if told.” So, just remember, it is ok to not have the answers. Believe me, I know the pain of waiting and wanting a child and feeling so lonely when all your friends are pregnant and something just isn’t right.  But God is in control. The Proverbs writer puts it like this, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” 
Lastly, above all else, and while it may be difficult to see at the moment, these struggles are just light and momentary. I know that sounds like nonsense while you are enduring your trials, but that is how the apostle Paul describes them in 2 Corinthians 4:17 when he writes “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” In other words, Paul, writing with eternity in view, weighs his present trials against future glory and discovers his trials are actually working for him. So when your world seems to fall around you, when you and your wife are devastated by terrible news, remember that these experiences are paled in comparison with what is to come. And that is something to take hope in – your light and momentary struggles are producing something much better for you! And that is eternal rest with our Father in Heaven. 
I hope this post is helpful to you. Believe me, infertility and adoption isn’t just something you “get over” and move on from. But these are just a few of the many lessons I’ve learned which I hope will encourage you during your time of struggle. 



To follow along with Colin and Kendal's story, you can find their blog at Finding Our Arrows.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Viral Adoption Situations (and what the real story is)

Our world has been impacted dramatically with the internet and particularly social media. Information, networking, and advice is literally at our fingertips and as close as our laptop or cell phone.

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The adoption world is no exception. There are groups specifically for hopeful adoptive families for support, encouragement, and advice. You can access agency information and reviews, blogs and articles on the vast array of adoption topics, and even advertise as a potential adoptive family to expectant families.

Instead of heading to the library for information, you can search google in seconds. And rather than attending a local support group, you can join any number of groups online to connect with others on the same journey. Just like anything online, the information is a mixed bag. But how do you know if the information you're getting is accurate or the best available?

The danger of viral situations

One of the biggest dangers I've seen in the last few years popping up often is viral adoption situations. These are situations, often posted by an agency, attorney, or adoption professional (I use that term very loosely) of an expectant family who need to be matched with an adoptive family (or a child/children available for adoption). In my experience, in general if you've come across an adoption situation online, there are often significant red flags. The information shared is minimal and the post is shared with thousands of people (sometimes even more).

A recent adoption situation that went viral was shared 3.7 million times. The business who shared the post admitted they had thousands of responses, couldn't keep up, and were backlogged for phone calls of people interested in signing up with their business for weeks to come. It's worth noting that these situations can easily become marketing strategies. Also worth noting: any reputable and ethical agency or attorney will already have contacts with adoptive families who are home study ready to be matched. (I want to note however, there are unique circumstances where sharing a situation online might be very appropriate: specifically when there is a little one with special needs who needs a specific family to step in to provide care. In these cases it often makes sense for adoption professionals to get the word out to find the perfect family to care for the child.)

So, how do you protect yourself?

First, make sure you're working with the right people. Anyone can pass on situations they've heard about, but do they know the agency or attorney working with the expectant/birth family? Adoption professionals with years of experience can help you spot red flags, ask the right questions, and protect you from risky situations.

Second, make sure the expectant family is working with the right people. What agency/attorney is the expectant/birth family working with? Are they reputable and ethical?  Are they offering them care and counseling (both pre and post birth)? Ensuring the expectant/birth family has access to services is critical not just for a successful adoption, but an ethical one.

Finally, be cautious when stepping into situations. Do you have all of the information necessary to know you want to present to the situation? Do you have access to important medical/social history? Also, beware of hidden fees: is there a fee associated with presenting? Ensuring you have all of this information allows you to be fully informed and prepared.



Curious about where to start or how to get help on your adoption journey? Christian Adoption Consultants can walk with you! We are a team of adoption professionals who work to serve hopeful adoptive families as they navigate the complexities in adoption. Our team is made up of adoptive families and social workers with decades of experiences. We have experience serving as case managers, birth parent counselors, and even agency directors with knowledge regarding state laws, how adoption agencies operate, and years of relationship building with agencies and attorneys across the country. With this, Christian Adoption Consultants can speak from a place of experience and authority in the adoption field and has helped hundreds of families successfully adopt. 



 


Thursday, May 24, 2018

In Their Own Words: Adoption Wasn't Our Plan B

Brian and Heather started their adoption journey the beginning of this year. I've had the privilege of walking with them in their hopes to become parents in 2018. They were recently matched with an expectant mama and are anticipating welcoming a little one this fall. I love her heart as she so graciously shares God's very good idea for growing their family. 




I think most people view adoption as plan B… you know, that thing you do once all else fails. And for some people, maybe that is why they adopt, which isn’t wrong! God has different journeys for each of us, and for some, adoption might start out as a plan B (but I’m pretty convinced it usually turns out to be so much more than that!). But adoption as plan B has never been the case for us.

Adoption wasn’t the “next best thing” or our “second choice.” Both Brian and I have had adoption on our hearts since long before we met each other, and we’ve always planned to grow our family through adoption. True, we decided to adopt now, rather than later, in part due to not getting pregnant as quickly as expected. But once we started talking about the idea of adopting now, instead of waiting until a few years down the road, the thought of not adopting was really disappointing. We longed to adopt!

Adoption is hard and beautiful and heart-breaking and breath-taking. It’s probably a lot like pregnancy in some regards, but also completely different in others. There are aspects that are messy and awkward, and others that bring me to tears because they’re so wonderful. And we haven’t even adopted yet! I can only imagine all the emotions I’ll feel come Fall when we get the call that our expectant mama is in labor. 

What I do know is that we want this baby, with every fiber of our beings. We long to hold him or her in our arms, we picture how they will roll their eyes at Brian’s dad jokes one day, we feel fiercely protective of them. We have all of the same feelings that any expecting parent has (I imagine). And we’re so grateful for how our friends and family have already begun to celebrate this precious life with us. We know Baby Douglas is loved, and that them coming into our family is no mistake, but rather, the sovereign hand of God at work.

God knew we would be starting our family through adoption. This isn’t a surprise to Him. It was His idea! And His plans are perfect. So adoption isn’t second best for us, rather it’s God’s first best. We feel so lucky that He chose us to pursue adoption as this point in our lives, and I bet we’ll feel even more lucky once that babe is in our arms!


For Heather's original post and to follow their adoption journey, find her blog at Love, Team Douglas.



Thursday, May 17, 2018

Repost: 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 and thought I would repost it today. 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
Viral Adoption Situations (and what the real story is)

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, May 7, 2018

An Interview on Beauty in Brokenness

Recently I had the chance to be interviewed by Breanna, a client turned dear friend, for a new blog series, "Redefining Beauty." Here's the beginning of our chat and the link for the full interview...

BB: Tell me a little bit of your story.

SV: I had always envisioned our 10 year wedding anniversary as one big romantic celebration. When you’re a newlywed at 21, 10 years married sounds like such a huge accomplishment and so incredibly far away. I pictured us on some extravagant trip somewhere, all smiles and reminiscing about our last 10 years and dreaming of the years to come. But our ten year anniversary turned out incredibly different than I imagined. Instead of celebrating somewhere on a beach, I was alone, with two young children, and wondering if our marriage would make it to year eleven. I had been blindsided with the sin that had crept into my husband’s heart, our marriage, and our family.

Instead of the blissful ten year anniversary I had planned on, we started year 10 of our marriage separated.  I was a single mom, wondering if my husband would ever come home.  We were far from celebrating our marriage: we were fighting for it...



READ THE REST OF THE INTERVIEW HERE: Easy Like Sunday Morning


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

If I Could Say One Thing...About Being Matched with An Expectant Family

Being matched with an expectant family can be a mix of excitement and anxiety. It's thrilling to be to that stage in the adoption journey, but soon the reality of entering into a relationship with another person or people sets in. How do we engage with them? How do we love them well during this time? How do we begin building a lifelong relationship with strangers for the sake of the child? Today adoptive parents and hopeful adoptive parents share their experiences and what they've learned along the way.


It's like climbing the next step on a very long ladder. You’re another step closer to your dream, but you are still climbing to the unknown of the outcome. I clung to the quote: “Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.” (Martin Luther king Jr.) It kept my perspective off of the journey itself, but on the purpose behind it: my faith and walk with God.  - Andrea

Keep the focus on the expectant mama/parents. I sent weekly encouragement cards to our birth mama (expectant mama at the time) and she told us she had never been loved like that, and that that kind of love was so foreign to her, but fulfilled her in a way that nothing else ever had. Focus on THEM. It keeps your mind off yourself and the unknowns, and can create a beautiful experience between yourself and the expectant parents. Also, lean in to God. Only He knows the end result, and though that’s hard to accept sometimes, it helps strengthen your walk and trust in Him. Trusting that if this is the right situation, God will guide the steps perfectly, but if it’s not the right situation, He’ll guide those steps perfectly, too. You want to have the baby God intends for your family, and if it doesn’t work out, though incredibly hard, it means He has something even bigger and better in store for you. Wait with trusting hearts in His ultimate plan. He’s not just a good Father. He’s a good GOOD Father, and will only give us the best.  - Andrea R.

Learning the heart of an expectant family is a tragic, beautiful, and prayerful path. Be patient, loving, and kind, and trust in the knowledge that God is over you all through the process. Pray for them daily, and, if given the opportunity, take advantage of the time you have to speak with them. Listen more than you talk. Offer comfort and compassion. Most importantly, love them.  - Katie W.

Hmmm....hard to live, but try not to sweat it. I was going to say don’t sweat the small stuff...but in the moment it’s not small! Go with the flow. Be kind. Ask questions. LISTEN! Everyone wants to be listened to...understood...HEARD. I feel like that is amplified in this situation. Be yourself...but less of yourself as you concentrate on someone else’s story. This part of the journey is not so much about you. It’s about someone else and they NEED to know and understand that. The other thing is love. Love them. They are not necessarily used to being loved. Let alone loved unconditionally. I think I tried to show them how I was going to love their daughter by loving on them...with my words, my comments, my expressions, my actions (not by things and stuff!).  - Katie S.

One thing that was suggested to us in the hospital was to buy a journal for our daughter’s birth mom and just present it to her in case she wanted to write anything down for us to share with our daughter in the future. Her birth mom was very shy (especially around my husband) so we took her lead on how much she wanted to have my husband around. And then we just let her know there no was pressure whatsoever with the journal but if she thought of anything over the couple days we were in the hospital all together she could write it down. Nothing was too small. Since we were matched just two weeks out from the delivery and had only met her the night before we didn’t know much about her, but didn’t want to overwhelm her with questions either. It’s just a sweet little journal and I am so happy to have it to go over with it when our daughter is older and ready. It includes simple things like her birth mom's birthday, activities and sports she liked as a child, and things she craved while she was pregnant. She even included info like when her birth mom’s mother went through menopause so tiny bits of family history. It meant a lot to me and I’m so thankful we have it.  - Ashley

It’s such a BIG moment for everyone involved. It helped us to remember that as excited and as scared and as hopeful as my husband and I were, there was an expectant mom who was having all the same feelings and then some. It helped us to connect with her when we understood it was a huge leap of faith for her too. We also had to resign ourselves to accepting that we had not walked in her shoes or her life experience that brought her to making her adoption plan. We could not always understand her choices or thoughts, so that’s when we had to surrender to grace and love and to a God that was bigger than all of it. It was not always easy, but our faith in Jesus grew as did our love for our daughter’s birth mother during that time.  - Tracy

Prior to being matched, the thought of developing a personal relationship with a total stranger seemed very daunting. But being on the other side now (twice!), I'd say just pour out love and respect them. I see the love they have for their children and the gut-wrenching decisions they made and I stand in awe of them. The love I have for both my sons' first mamas was truly my biggest surprise with adoption! Developing a relationship is not always easy, but oh so worth it!! And remember, they're just as nervous about it all as you are.  - Gayla

It's a very surreal, unfamiliar yet beautiful experience. You are being matched, through a third party, to someone who is going to have a huge part in the rest of your life.  - Nathan

They remain the parents of this child, through and through! We get to love and support them, and then if they decide to parent their child...we can grieve for us but not blame them.  - Natalie

Being matched is an opportunity to pray over and love on someone in a very difficult time, no matter the outcome. We have been matched with both open and closed situations. In closed situations, I’ll send a gift and encouragement through letters if they are receptive to that. In open situations, I make sure to always ask our expectant mom about herself and her life before I talk about baby. I think it’s important that she know we genuinely care for her and her well being, not just the baby growing inside her.  - Michelle


For more in this series:



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