Monday, October 20, 2014

another family reunion

It's become a tradition now. For the third year I opened my home to my adoptive families. Although most were from the KC metro area, several traveled from out of state. We shared a meal, lots of laughter, and extraordinary stories. But it's so much more than gathering to eat and catch up. It's become a family reunion.


My families are all connected through a private Facebook group. Throughout the year and throughout their journey's they share their stories, encourage each other, and pray specifically for each other. We have an opportunity to hear as a family meets their expectant birth mother for the first time, pray when the unexpected twists and turns come, and celebrate as babies are welcomed into their forever family. Families close by geographically gather for BBQ's, we watch babies take their first steps and grow up, and advice and encouragement is given on diapers, hair care, and what adoption looks like as their children grow.


What's become even more of a tradition is how I lose it in my kitchen each year. Fifty plus people all gathered in our small kitchen and living room. As as I welcomed each one into our home, met precious babies I had personally prayed for, and looked at each face before we blessed the meal, tears easily came to my eyes. I knew each family's story there that day. How they prayed and dreamed and cried and worked toward their adoption. I knew the hours they spent on paperwork. I knew the sacrifices they made in their budget. I knew the story of their birth mothers. 


I knew each family in my living room that day represented God's amazing faithfulness to them as they stood with babies in their arms.


And I lost it. As I was thanking God for the food and the sweet families gathered in our home, I couldn't get past the lump in my throat.

God does more than create one family through adoption. He creates friendship, an extended family, and a community. And I'm honored to be a small part of it.

Here's a glimpse into our afternoon, our celebration, and the stories of some of my families. After you watch you'll know why I was near tears all day...


A special thanks to HiNoon Media for filming our family reunion and capturing these stories. Breanne is a dear friend and a popular mommy vlogger. Subscribe to her channel - you won't be sorry.

Friday, October 17, 2014

bathtubs and birthmoms {talking about adoption with a 2 year old}

My brother and his wife became foster parents the fall of 2012. Literally days after becoming licensed, Tim and Meg brought this sweet little guy into their home. In the coming months I'll post more about Jacob, his amazing life, and how he became a part of our family. But for now I wanted to share this post from my amazing sister-in-law, Meg. 

We're thrilled that Tim and Meg will soon be adopting Jacob. Although Jake was placed with Tim and Meg through foster care, they share an incredible open relationship with his birth mother and extended family. I have watched them love her well: honoring her with updates about Jake, meeting up for playdates, and assuring her that she will always be spoken of with love and care in their home. They have promised her that Jake will always know his story and of her love for him.

Earlier this week, Meg had the first of many conversations with her son and made good on those promises. Who knew that a chat during bath time could turn into the foundations of many many more conversations to tell Jake about his adoption, his story, and his birth mama...




He was in the bathtub happy as a clam. In the middle of all of his splashing and playing, he burst out, “My mama!” This isn’t uncommon as he often does this when he meets new people or when I pick him up from daycare. He wants everyone to know that I’m his mama. To be honest, it melts me every time. This particular time it melted me as usual and I said back, “And you’re my son!”
However, right after I was surprised to hear myself say, “Did you know that you have two mamas? Pretty cool, huh?” He looked at me a little confused but agreed by nodding his head and replying, “Cool!” I elaborated and said, “You were inside your other mama’s tummy!” He giggled, looked at his tummy and said, “Eww! In tummy!?” I giggled back and said, “Sure were. And that mama’s name is _____.” He then repeated me by saying her name.
I encouraged him to get out of the tub so that I could show him a picture in his room. It was one of the quickest times he’s ever got out of the tub! Upon getting to his room I brought down a picture frame with a sweet photo of his birth mama and him as a baby. I repeated to him again, “Mama _____.” He then pointed at the lady in the picture holding him and said, “Mommy.” Before tears could come down my face I said, “Yep! That’s your mommy who you were in her tummy. Then a little bit after you were born you came to live with this mama.” As he pointed at me, he said, “Yea! My mama!”
I know it’s only the first of many, many conversations yet to come. I also realize that these conversations will probably continue to get deeper and harder for him. There will be questions. Questions, that many, we won’t have the answer to. Part of me wishes it could just stay this simple of one mommy gave birth and the other mommy raised you. But that won’t be enough as he grows and discovers more. It’s daunting, really.
What I do know, though, is that God made him for a purpose. If he grew in my tummy, he wouldn’t be uniquely him. He had to grow in her tummy to become who God designed him to be. On the flip side, he was meant to be our son too. We will instill in him many other unique characteristics that come from nurturing. Without the both of us in his life, he wouldn’t become who he’s meant to be. I pray he learns to appreciate and understand that…

You can find Meg's original post here and read more about their foster to adoption journey.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

adoption story: mitch and jenn

Mitch and Jen look back on their adoption story and call it a faith journey. And it was a journey that when they started, they honestly had no idea what they were getting into. They could have never anticipated the unexpected delays, the ache of the wait, and the emotions of being presented to numerous birth families.


But they could have never anticipated the blessings.

Here's a glimpse into their hearts as they began this journey. This is taken from their profile book they wrote for their birth mother to read as she was choosing an adoptive family:

We do not know your story or the circumstances that have brought you to this time and to this moment as you read about us. Even though we do not know much about one another, there are some things we do know. We do know that you are being noble.  We know the path you have chosen is not a simple one; it is full of emotion, concern, and love for a little life. We do know you are creating a new path, the beginning of new story for your little one.  It is our greatest desire that you know that we will love this baby with all the love we possess, and that we will communicate how much YOU loved them from the start and how much you continue to love. We are excited to be a part of this new life. Despite not knowing each other’s stories until now, together we will get to share in this new story! 
To be quite honest, we feel like two of the luckiest people in the world. Already, the Lord has blessed us with good health, a fantastic family, wonderful healthy kids, great friends and financial stability. We know that all of these things are gifts. We see them as such and ourselves as the stewards of them. We don’t feel like our family is complete with the five of us. When faced with how to add to our family, we are most excited about the path which involves adoption. The idea of supporting a mom who must make the heart wrenching decision to entrust her child to another family is one that we take very seriously, and desire to be a part of in a way that brings peace to her and ultimately bless her child in ways beyond her wildest imagination through our love, care and journey of life. We view adoption as the perfect way to both add to our family, and share some of the wonderful things the Lord has given us. We can’t wait to welcome a little boy or girl to our household to love, protect, and pour out our lives into, just the same as those biologically born to us.  

A birth mother read those words just last month. And suddenly all of the months before made sense...

When Mitch and Jenn began the process, they had specific plans and timing in mind. With everything prepared, Jenn thought the summer would be the perfect time to welcome a little one into their family. They were presented time and again to birth families and not chosen. Their timing seemed to be off and discouragement set in. But Mitch and Jenn knew God had called them to adoption and were confident in God's plan, even though it didn't seem to be aligning with theirs.

Then they heard about a situation that seemed to be more than they could handle. But something about this expectant mother stood out to them and their hearts were drawn to her and her little one. Though a series of events only God could orchestrate and much prayer, they were presented to her. She read Mitch and Jenn's heart for adoption and family and chose them to raise her daughter.


Just over a week ago, this little one joined their family. And it only took a moment for their entire story to make sense. The waiting, the times they weren't chosen, the countless hours of fervent prayers...all were wrapped up in this precious bundle. Their daughter was meant to be in their family from the beginning. 

God knew all along that all of the "no's" they had heard were really a resounding "yes" for this girl to be theirs.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

6 tips for a healthy open adoption

The term open adoption can strike fear in the heart of every adoptive family. But it doesn't need to. Much of our ideas of openness tend to come from stories in the news the media has sensationalized, Lifetime movies, or our own assumptions and misconceptions.


An open adoption describes the kind of relationship an adoptive family shares with the birth family of their child. This can mean anything from shared pictures and updates via the adoption agency or a non-identifying email to yearly visits or even sharing holidays and birthdays together. Each family's open adoption is unique to their circumstance and story.


The good news is, if openness in adoption is approached with thoughtful consideration and care, it can be an amazing gift to everyone involved (and your family won't end up in the news).



Here are some things to consider when thinking about open adoption:

Establish your comfort level
Decide what you feel comfortable with early on in the process. What do you want your relationship with your child's birth family to look like? How often do you want contact? What kind of contact do you want?  How will you explain this relationship to your child, your friends, your family? Very often a family's initial thoughts about openness grow and evolve as they educate themselves about open adoption. One important note to make at the very beginning: decide early that you will never give money directly to the birth family. Not only can this be illegal and possibly jeopardize your adoption, but can lead to destructive relationship patterns. 

Create a plan
Things always go better when everyone is on the same page and there are clear expectations. Don't ever step into a match where you are unsure if you can honor the kind of openness and relationship the birth family is requesting. Talk early on with the birth family about what kind of relationship they would like with you and the child; specifically what this will look like during pregnancy, for the first year of life, and throughout childhood. 

Allow for organic relationship
The best relationships grow naturally and over time.  Remember it's easier to continue to open the door slowly than to have to slam it shut. So beginning a relationship gradually and building trust will create a foundation to a healthy and solid relationship. Most often, agreeing to periodic emails and updates can evolve into texting and meeting if you get to know each other and build trust slowly.

Facilitate open communication
Communication is key to any healthy relationship. Ongoing discussion about how the relationship is going and working (or not working) is critical to ensuring that it's working not just for the adults involved, but also the child. Being honest and upfront about issues will create an environment where you can work together to create a relationship that benefits everyone.

Set clear boundaries
Following the above steps and sticking to them will create clear boundaries for the kind of relationship you and the birth family are hoping for. If agreed upon terms aren't being met (the texts are becoming too much, money is requested, etc.), it's ok to remind them of the plan and even to pull back from the relationship for a season if needed.
*It's also crucial to note here that having an open adoption isn't necessarily about how healthy the birth family is. Of course safety is of paramount concern, but during a visit the birth family typically will not be caring for your child without you there. For most families, a visit would be at a park or a restaurant for a few hours with the child, the adoptive family, and the birth family. Most of the time, even a birth parent who is in an unhealthy space in their life and making poor choices can still have a very positive and healthy interaction with the child for a limited time.

Be flexible
Relationships and people change. As they do, it's important to hold onto things loosely. You might be surprised after meeting and getting to know a birth mother that she becomes as close as a sister to you. Or you might find that the birth father is going though a tough spot and firmer boundaries are necessary. As things change, be willing to change your plans in the best interests of everyone involved; particularly the child. And just like our other relationships with friends and family, things will occasionally ebb and flow in terms of closeness and frequency. You can count on this to be the case with your birth family as well.


I wish I could say that in the end if you follow these six steps, you will have a perfect open adoption relationship. But relationships are complex. Real relationships, those that are the most valuable, are hard work. But ultimately, these are the relationships worth fighting for.


For further reading on the topic of birth families and open adoption, check out these helpful posts:





Tuesday, October 7, 2014

adoption story: david and sarah

David and Sarah's dream of becoming parents had come true through the miracle of adoption once already. Their sweet son, Jadon, joined their family two years ago and they knew they were ready to keep adding to the miracle.


David and Sarah have been blessed to be in a family and community that not only celebrates adoption, but embraces it wholeheartedly. So when they embarked on this journey a second time, they had a lot of emotional and practical help behind them.

I watched as this family waited for what they were confident God had called them to. Their wait was a long one. Not because there wasn't movement, or because there wasn't opportunities, but because they were waiting for God's hand to move specifically in their family. Not waiting for the "perfect" scenario to play out; but waiting on the perfect fit for their family. The baby God was calling them to.


The entire way, David and Sarah held fast to God. Confident not that it would be an easy road but steadfast in knowing God had been faithful to them before and would be faithful again.

And just a few weeks ago, their second little miracle was born.


This precious little guy was born to two parents who had waited and prayed for him.

And to an older big brother, who is only beginning to understand what a miracle their family of four is.




Wednesday, October 1, 2014

adoption story: brad and lacey

Brad and Lacey had two boys but their family didn't quite feel complete. God had been speaking to both of them about adopting and led them to open their hearts and home to a baby. Brad and Lacey started with Christian Adoption Consultants at the beginning of the year. Within a few months they had completed their home study and I had created their profile. And the adventure had begun, not just for Brad and Lacey, but also for these brothers preparing for a baby sister. 


And then the wait began. But the waiting for this family was anything but passive. While they waited they prepared a nursery for their little one. They prepared their sons to be big brothers. They prayed. And they hoped for the day they would bring another one home and their family would be complete.

Two months later they got the call they had been waiting for. An expectant mother had chosen them and their two boys to be her daughter's forever family. And just last week this precious girl came home to the entire family. Their oldest son cried when he held his baby sister for the first time.



Brad and Lacey's is a beautiful story of how God calls not just a mommy and a daddy, but older siblings to adoption. Congrats to Brad, Lacey, and proud big brothers Gabe and Canaan. I'm so thankful you pursued your daughter through adoption to complete your family.


Friday, September 26, 2014

adoption story: paul and katie

For some couples, adoption can be the only choice to become parents. Understandably, many go through the heartache of infertility and infertility treatments before coming to adoption as a way to grow their family. But for Paul and Katie, it was always their first choice. 


Paul and Katie started with Christian Adoption Consultants in January this year. Katie shared then, Adoption has been the “Plan A” approach for us even before we married!  This isn’t a second option for us; it’s one we had in mind from the start. We’ve been deliberate about adoption being the only option from day one and we’re excited about the prospect of our dreams coming true.  

By mid-March they had completed their home study, and just a month later, matched with a birth family. Over the spring and summer, Paul and Katie built a relationship with the expectant parents; swapping phone calls and even a weekend visit.  


While they were waiting for their sweet baby to arrive, Paul and Katie were diligent in making the most of their time. They read and researched. They prayed and prepared. They did all they could to plan for their little one, the adoption process, and the arrival of their daughter.


And then, at the beginning of September, all the praying and preparing came to fruition with the birth of their beautiful daughter. 

For Paul and Katie, adoption wasn't God's second best for their family. It was His perfect plan all along. They prayed and God powerfully answered.

Do you notice the scripture their daughter is is laying on? 1 Samuel 1:27: I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted what I asked of him.


Can you tell this little girl has a talented photographer as a mommy? Visit Katie James Photography for more of her amazing work.

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