Wednesday, July 31, 2013

creating your family profile: a [mini] tutorial

What's the biggest decision you've ever had to make?

What college to go to?
Who to marry?
Which school to send your kids to?
Whether or not to make that big move?  To take that job?  To buy that house?
All of these decisions require time, sometimes research, and always a lot of prayers.

Imagine choosing who will raise your child.



There are a lot of assumptions made in the world of adoption, especially when it comes to how an adoptive family and a birth family are matched.

"Isn't there some kind of waiting list?"
"But birth moms are only looking for a young couple with no kids, right?"
"So how does it work, really..." 



The bottom line is that the birth family chooses an adoptive family to raise their child. There are no waiting lists. No "ideal" families. Just a birth family deciding who they want to become their child's parents. But how do they choose and made such a huge, life-changing decision? The answer, really is, all about an adoptive family's profile. A profile is a scrapbook of sorts that is a creative way to tell your family's story for a birth family. It includes information about your family, your home, your activities, your thoughts on adoption, and your plans for the future.


Your profile is the most critical step in an expectant family finding and choosing you to parent their child.

I've been across the table from birth mothers as I present family profiles. Almost always, one jumps out at her that she starts to connect with through looking at the pictures and reading about the family. Through a profile, she can actually begin to envision what it would look like for her child to grow up in that family.


A family profile includes:
  • Pictures of your family (portrait and candids)
  • How you made the decision to adopt
  • If married, how you met and your relationship with your spouse
  • Information about your personality, work, and what you love to do
  • Your parenting plans (childcare, education, etc.)
  • Information and relationships with extended family
  • General information about your home, neighborhood, and community






So how DO you create a good family profile?

1.  Hire an adoption professional to create your profile
At the very least, have an adoption professional who creates profiles and works with birth parents review your finished product. This will save you an enormous amount of time, headaches, and even money. Creating and printing your own profile that looks professional is extremely time consuming and printing costs alone can be astronomical. The goal is to produce a profile that is creative and professional that is also warm, compassionate, and comforting to a birth family. Knowing what to include in your profile (and what not to include!) is key to communicating through a book for a birth family to view.

2.  Steer clear of the traditional "Dear Birth Mom" letter
These one page letters tend to be emotional pleas to a birth mother about how much a family wants a child and how indebted you would be to her. They tend to blend together for the birth mother reading them and don't really tell your story. Instead, a creative mix of pictures and narrative that gives a birth family insight into your life (your passions, your work, your plans, and your heart for adoption) can communicate more effectively and be much more memorable.

3.  Be real
A lot of adoptive families shy away from talking much about their lives or showing too many pictures. Birth families don't want to see perfection; they want to see sincerity. The birth mothers I work with have an uncanny way of spotting anything fake. More than a large home, extravagant vacations, or a certain kind of "ideal family," birth mothers are looking for a family that will unconditionally love their child and be honest with them. Use your voice to tell your story. Talk about your dreams, your hopes for your family, and your thoughts on adoption.

4.  Take the time
Since this is the most important part of the matching process with a birth family, choose the pictures, words, and layout you want to use carefully. The goal of a good profile is that it stands out to a birth family and represents your family's personality well. Your profile needs to include both portrait quality pictures as well as candid shots and pictures of real life (times with family, doing things you love, etc). Taking the time to make it "just right" will be worth your time and energy.


In the end, creating a family profile that communicates your heart for adoption, the personality of your family, and your dreams for the future is worth it. It gives a birth family critical information they need to make a huge decision. It allows you to make a good match with a birth family that has chosen you based on all of the information they need.


And it's the start of a beautiful new part of your family's story.

Want to hear more about my family profile creation services?  Contact me.

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






Thursday, July 25, 2013

CAC discount!

In celebration of the launch of our new and greatly improved website, we are thrilled to offer a discount from July 25th-August 5th!

10% off our Consulting Services

20% off our Minority Program Consulting Services

(Discounts do not apply to Special Needs Adoption Package, DIY package or 2nd Time Client Package)
Make sure to visit our website, www.christianadoptionconsultants.com and check out all the great new features. 

For more adoption stories and clients who have grown their family through our adoption services, click here.

Email me at susan@christianadoptionconsultants.com for an Information Packet and Application.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

congratulations Nick and Michelle

Nick and Michelle had an eventful weekend. Thursday night they received a call that their birth mother had her baby in Las Vegas. They got the first flight possible late that evening and flew to meet their son.



Just seven months ago they began their adoption journey. They were in the very beginning stage of getting their home study when we met at a local coffee shop in January to talk about adoption and growing their family. The next few months were spent with Nick and Michelle filling out paperwork and completing home visits while I created their profile. We met again in April at the same little coffee shop, the very day their home study was being finalized. That morning, I had received information on a birth mother in Las Vegas and it seemed like a perfect fit. We discussed the possibility, and Nick and Michelle decided they wanted their profile to be presented to her. Just days later, they received the news that they had been chosen!


It's been a joy to watch Nick and Michelle plan, prepare, and eagerly anticipate the arrival of their son and to walk beside them through the adoption process.


Congrats Nick and Michelle! I have no doubts you'll be amazing parents.

Friday, July 19, 2013

a photo journal of my tribe and Michigan


This week we got back from 10 glorious days of a much needed vacation and rest. Every 2 years, the Weston clan (my parents, my brother and his family, and our family) gets together at a vacation spot to enjoy time away and each other. For those of you with jaws dropping right now, I assure you this works for our us. I'm blessed with family that loves well (even when we're imperfect) and sincerely loves to be together.



This year, we all headed north to Northern Michigan. We rented a vacation home overlooking the ski slopes in Harbor Springs and just a few minutes from Lake Michigan. Days were spent with day trips, beaches, and hiking and evenings were full of laughter, good food, and relaxing in the hot tub on the porch. 


Day 1: July 4th was spent ALL day in the van as we headed to Michigan.

Day 2: Traveled to see some of Jamy's family and spent the evening shooting off fireworks with cousins

A stop on the way to Jamy's grandfather's farm
Day 3: Arrived to our cottage in Harbor Springs

Just before vacation Tim broke his arm. Golf plans for the guys were cancelled. 

Day 4: Harbor Springs picnic lakeside as well as a stop to Tom's Moms Cookies

Jackson and Papa

Day 5: Rainy day spent playing board games, watching movies, and shopping in Petoskey

Day 6: Took a ferry to Mackinac Island with carriage rides, a visit to the fort, lunch on the lake, and a visit to the Grand Hotel

No vehicles are allowed on the island so carriages and bikes are the forms of commute
With Nonny and Papa at Fort Mackinac 
At the Grand Hotel

Day 7: Horseback riding for the girls, hiking for the boys, and swimming at the beach


Isabelle and Dakota

Day 8: Hiked to the lake with the family for a picnic lunch


Day 9: Traveled through Wisconsin and stayed with some amazing friends

Day 10: HOME

A lot has happened in our family in the last two years. Tim and Meg added to their family (side note, because they're fostering I had to leave lots of our family pics out for confidentiality - but know this Auntie took lots of pictures of their little guy). Jamy and I created a little excitement of our own. It's been interesting to watch how the hurt in our own family has crept into our extended family. There's been hard conversations, tears, repentance, and forgiveness. There's been anger and sadness. Celebration and rejoicing. And support like you wouldn't believe. It's been messy to live in such transparency and dysfunction and blessing all at once.

But it's been good. I've loved watching our extended family grow during this time. Jamy and I have been good at pushing back on the idea of a perfect family. We've learned how to love each other stronger, communicate better, and walk with each other when it's hard.

Lessons learned:
  1. Hot tubs are mini pools for kids (just no diving).
  2. I miss real lakes and beaches in Missouri.
  3. Not many things scare my husband. But we can add 5 miles of bridge across a lake to the short list.
  4. Tom's Moms Cookies should be outlawed.
  5. You can sneak almost anyone into The Grand Hotel if you're bold enough (until your parents bust you).
  6. Dating when you're grandparents is still a good thing.
  7. A trail lakeside makes me run faster.
  8. A broken arm won't keep my brother from playing wiffle ball.
  9. The inventor of DVD players for minivans should win a Nobel Peace Prize.
  10. My family is still amazing.

Lots of memories made. 

2300+ miles. Totally worth it.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

i almost missed him

This morning I headed to Panera to one of my favorite work spaces. I go there for the coffee and yummy soufflés, wi-fi, and no laundry to distract me. As I was walking in, I spotted a man several doors down, sitting on a bench. Dirty. Tired. Alone.

Buy him a coffee and a pastry.

In a rush to get a few things done before my next appointment, I rushed past him and ordered my coffee and breakfast.

Buy him a coffee and a pastry.

After prepping my coffee (I like my cream and sugar with a little coffee), I sat down, unloaded my laptop, and began answering emails that had come in since last night.


Buy him a coffee and a pastry.

My morning routine includes answering emails, tracking with the latest deals, and reading blogs.  

Buy him a coffee and a pastry.

I even reposted a good one on adoption: "Adoption puts a stake in the ground that says 'Restoration? Right here.' And I want to stand as near as I can to that sign, to that post, to that glory."

Buy him a coffee and a pastry.

And a friend posted this to her timeline "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.  Have an uncomfortable day!"

And it was that moment I decided to listen to the voice I had been determined to block out. Here I am quoting about restoration while eating my cozy soufflé and I'm ignoring the chance I have to enter into brokenness right outside the restaurant I'm sitting in.

I promptly shut my laptop and went to the cashier to buy a coffee and a muffin. What kind of coffee and muffin would he like? He's going to think I'm silly. What if he's offended? This is stupid.

I decide on regular coffee and a blueberry muffin. Safe choices I thought. And I walk out the door and out of my comfort zone to the bench.


His name was Larry. When I introduced myself, he heard "Suzie" and said he'd had lots of girlfriends with the name Suzie (some wonderful, some horrible, he explained). I bashfully offered him the coffee and muffin.  He asked for 8 sugars, a little bit of cream, and 7 butters. After I retrieved them, we chatted a little about our mutual love for Michigan, his enjoyment of good coffee, and how his loss of some sight contributed to him not being able to ride around the country on his motorcycle anymore. With a wink and a toothless smile he said he would have been happy to give me a ride sometime.

I realized after saying goodbye that I had met Larry once before. It's common in Kansas City to see people on the corners of highway exits with signs that say "Homeless and hungry" or "God bless you, anything helps." This spring in our van we carried Ziploc bags full of waters, granola bars, and miscellaneous sundries to hand out at the stop lights.  Larry had been one of those men we had stopped to give a bag to and say God bless you.

I remembered his rugged face.


Today I almost missed him. 

I was too busy in my own world, in my busyness and rush. I had things to do, meetings to make.  

I was too busy in my own pride, in my insecurities and hesitancy. What would he think of me?


Did I change his life forever? Nope. Did I make a lasting impact? Probably not. Will I remember this encounter a year from now? I don't know.  

But today I spent $4.29 on a coffee with 8 sugars, a little bit of creamer, and a blueberry muffin with 8 butters. Larry smiled (and maybe tried to pick me up). And I remembered to listen when the Spirit speaks.

Today I almost missed Jesus.


But this time, I stopped.

Monday, July 15, 2013

back to work (and why I love it)

This morning I started my "welcome-back-to-real-life-Monday-morning-after-vacation" day. I hopped on the treadmill and almost died. Jamy got pulled over in a police traffic sting. And now I'm in the midst of responding to emails after being stuck with internet service like it was 1999.

And I love it. Do I miss our vacation and my extended family? Oh yeah. I miss the view I woke up to every morning, laughing with my siblings, and having nothing to do but head to the beach, go on fun day trips, and read on the porch. But I love that I come back to our home. Where everything is familiar, our dogs laze on the couch, and I know how to brew the perfect mug of coffee for the morning.

I especially love that I come back to a job I adore. As an adoption consultant, I came back to creating profile books for birth families to look over, celebrating with clients who are expecting their baby any day, advising families on fundraising for their adoption, and Facebook and Instagram feeds full of sweet little faces in their forever families.


And then I received a text this morning with a new family picture and a video from one of my sweet families. Alan and Amanda have adopted twice through me (you can hear more about their story adopting their daughter here). The first 30 seconds of the video are worth the entire thing.




I'm wishing myself a "welcome-back-to-real-life-Monday-morning-after-vacation." 

I'm blessed that this is the work I get to come back to.

Monday, July 8, 2013

real rest

We're finally here. Our family is vacationing this week in Northern Michigan with my parents and brother and his family. I'm thankful for work that is flexible, house sitters back home, and family that we honestly love to be sharing a cottage with.

This has been a much anticipated and needed vacation. Work has been good but nonstop for Jamy and I. Parenting has been draining. Life has been rough lately. And rest is needed. Physical rest. Emotional rest. Even spiritual rest.

Although this week will be full of fun activities; a day trip to Mackinaw Island, the beach in Petoskey, and shopping in Harbor Springs, what I'm most looking forward to is the rest. No emails to respond to. No phone calls to answer. No household chores. This week will be full of reading for fun, playing card games with my family, staying up late with good conversation, and relaxing in the hot tub. Blissful.


But this only happens about once a year for our family. I'm thankful I was taught early as a young mama that I needed to carve out these times of rest into my daily life rather than just a scheduled time away from home once or twice a year.

A run after the family is up and out of the house.

Taking advantage of nap time with coffee and a good book.

Making the time for a doing my own pedicure.

Time spent with Jesus after the kids go to bed.

Good conversation with Jamy that's more about our hearts than logistics.


Because let's get real. A vacation is also filled with stress: the packing and unpacking, tired kiddos and planning activities for everyone from baby to grandparents, rain that spoils plans, and driving. Everywhere. For days on end.

And if I'm honest, finding real rest in my real life takes way more effort. My type A personality only likes to rest when the work is done. When the house is clean, my to do list is checked off, and I feel like life has slowed down enough for me to slow down.

Rest isn't just needed on yearly vacations. It's needed in the daily rhythms of our lives. Space to rest our mind and our heart. Times to refocus when we've gotten too concerned with the things around us rather than the things that really matter.

Creating a home rather than just maintaining a household.

Sowing into our children's hearts rather than just managing their behavior.

Listening to God rather than checking off a box on the reading plan.


Refueling our hearts with what matters rather than running and striving and doing. 


Because real rest, lasting rest, is only found in resting in Christ. His finished work on the cross. Finding real peace and contentment in knowing the real work is done, even when there are dishes to be washed and emails to be written.  

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

friends are friends forever

Insert your eye roll [here] for the amazingly over-used 80's Michael W. Smith hit as a blog title. But I couldn't resist. This past weekend was full of cliche music lyrics, lots of laughter, and real conversations.  I wanted to write this post yesterday, but was rushed to the emergency room with a crazy headache instead (not on the agenda). Luckily, all is well and now I'm free to share about our weekend with some amazing people.

Jamy and I met Dan and Lori earlier this year. We immediately hit it off as couples and recognized the uniqueness to that. (Often I get along with her or he gets along with him, but it's rare that everybody likes everybody in couple friendships. Tell me I'm not the only one...)


It's refreshing to find people on this earth that you can be real with, who know your story, and get your humor and sarcasm. Downside to all of this: Dan and Lori live in Wisconsin. So when they stopped in KC for a 24 hour long visit, we jumped at the chance and savored every minute of laughter. The weekend was full of Jamy's good food, ice cream and shopping on the Plaza (not the local strip mall as Lori found out), church at Redeemer, and a patio lunch that lasted for hours before they had to jet. They loved on our kids and Jackson had trouble saying goodbye (see picture below).


At one point this weekend, Jamy pointed out that we've only had face to face time with Dan and Lori for a total of 5 days. And already we've swapped life stories (the real stuff), created memories, and share inside jokes.  


Real friendship, God-given friendship is like that. You pick up where you left off. You speak truth when it's hard. You cry together (also been done with Dan and Lori - day 2 I believe?). Even though we're not able to do life in the traditional sense together, we're thankful we have friends like this in our lives, even if they live 560 miles away.

And Lori, aren't you glad I didn't post the pics from the truck stop? 

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