Thursday, February 27, 2014

the book shelf: a place in my heart

Stacey and Tim adopted their sweet daughter, Norah with the help of CAC and have an amazing story. Stacey shares a book they can't wait to read with her when she gets a little older about her adoption...


A Place in My Heart by Mary Grossnickle

Age Recommendation: 2+

Theme: For an adopted child, assuring them that it is okay to think about, talk about, and love their birth parents, too!

Synopsis: We received this book as a gift from Norah's birth mother to read with Norah when she is a little bit older. Right now it takes up a safe place on her bookshelf (anything NOT a board book is not safe in our toddler's hands!), and I can't wait to read it with her someday! It is a very special gift.


A Place in My Heart is the sweet story of a chipmunk named Charlie who was adopted. I enjoyed that Charlie was already aware that he was adopted (rather than his parents waiting to tell him until he asks). One day Charlie asks his mom why he doesn't look like his family, who are squirrels. His mom answers, "Well, you grew inside a different mother's tummy. She is called your birthmother. And you have a birthfather, too. You probably look like they do." Charlie's mom's answer is perfect - first, his mom does not give an imaginary description of where Charlie came from (i.e. "you grew in my heart," which is a sentiment I am personally not a fan of). She tells him the truth: that he grew in another mommy's tummy! Second, I appreciate that the author included both the birth father and mother in her story.

The rest of the book involves Charlie struggling with his feelings about his birth mother and birth father. He worries that it would hurt his mom and dad's feelings if he loves his birth parents, too. Charlie wonders if there is room in his heart for his birth family AND his "forever family." Charlie's mom picks up on his feelings by noticing his strange behavior (something that I think is important as an adoptive parent). She asks Charlie if he has been thinking about his birth parents. She reassures him that it is okay to think about them, to wonder about them. She even uses a hands-on activity to demonstrate how there is room in all our hearts for all the people we love by cutting out a paper heart and having Charlie write down the names of all the people he loves on it. He realizes that there is room in his heart for all the people that he loves - including his birth parents. 



My husband and I have an open adoption with our daughter's birth family. In this book, Charlie wonders what his birth parents look like. Does he look like them? Are they famous? Are they beautiful? This is the only way Charlie's story deviates from our personal adoption situation. We know the answers to these questions about our daughter's birth family, so she will never have to wonder. They are and will be a part of our life.

I had not heard of this particular book until it was gifted to us, and I am so glad it was. A Place in My Heart is a precious story that is thoughtfully written, and I highly recommend it!


Monday, February 24, 2014

love day discount extended!

If you've been thinking about adoption and just haven’t taken the plunge, I can’t think of a better time to say “Yes” to adoption and opening up your hearts and your home to LOVE a child that needs a family!



In celebration of LOVE DAY, we're offering 10% off our consulting services.
This offer is good on new client applications received February 14th-21st extended through the 28th!
Basic Consulting Service- normally $2,130 is NOW $1,977
Consulting Plus Basic Profile Preparation- normally $2,680 is NOW $2,412 
Consulting, Profile, and Paperwork Preparation- normally $3,430 is NOW $3,087
*No discounts on any other packages

Don’t miss out!
SHARE YOUR LOVE!
Say, “YES” to adoption TODAY!

What is Christian Adoption Consultants?  Click here.


What does it mean to hire an adoption consultant?  Click here.

Want to get started?  Click here.

What if you have more questions?  Click here.


Email me at susan@christianadoptionconsultants.com for an application and information packet.


This photo is courtesy of one of our former CAC clients, Jackie Baughman, who is an amazing children’s photographer.  To see more of her beautiful work visit her website at www.blowingdandelionsphotography.com

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

in their own words: why we chose an adoption consultant

The adoption process is all about choices.
Choosing to say, “Yes,” many times while not quite knowing what you’re fully committing yourself to can be difficult.
It’s a true testament of faith and trust.
And it’s scary.


Which is exactly why we chose to work with an adoption consultant, Susan.
A lot of people ask us what exactly she does.
Ummmm… everything!
In all honesty, though, she’s been our biggest advocate.
Our biggest cheerleader.
Susan was there with us from day one; she helped us find a social worker to help us become home study certified (legally OK to adopt in Iowa); she supported us by recommending resources for creative fundraisers to help afford the adoption process; she created our profile where birth mommas could read all about us; she helped us apply to reputable agencies in states that are “safe states” (states with clear-cut adoption laws); she called us when Olivia’s birth momma chose us and asked, “What do you need?” all the while offering prayers, encouragement and support along the way.
Susan is a consultant with Christian Adoption Consultants (CAC).
CAC is not an agency.
Instead, CAC consultants work with agencies.
I consider consultants like Susan to be the liaison between agencies/birth parents and adoptive parents.
While we were busy doing our thing filling out mounds of paperwork, Susan was networking and checking in on situations with agencies and adoptive families across the country.
I’ll never forget the email we received from her in August:
“There’s a baby that’s going to be born tomorrow, and it appears the birth mother has taken great care of herself. Do you want to overnight your profile to Texas?”
“YES!” we replied.
Leaving the hospital with our daughter!

And the rest is a blurry, amazing whirlwind.
Chris and I have had coffee with many families since bringing Olivia home.
We’ve made new friends talking about our family’s adoption journey.
And we simply love talking about how Susan and CAC played such an important role.
[Note: Erika + Josh are our dear friends who signed on with Susan shortly after we brought Olivia home, and 5-months later -- they have their SON! Seriously! Read Susan's blog for more on their story.]
In an overwhelming process we thought we’d get lost in, we had the greatest navigator.
I say this because I want others to be hopeful.
Adoption is confusing.
It’s overwhelming.
And so scary.
But if you have an advocate along your side like Susan, it’s a blessing.
If you’re one of those people — or your friends or family members are some of those couples who are confused in this adoption process — here’s my email:srussell@kwwl.com
Or just skip me and contact Susan directly: susan@christianadoptionconsultants.com
-Shelley
Disclaimer: I get *no* kickback or incentive for sharing our experience with CAC. I truly mean every word when I say signing on with Susan and CAC was the best first choice we made in this adoption process. I believe if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have Olivia. And then all y’all wouldn't get to swoon over pictures our gorgeous daughter.
You can find Shelley's original post here and read more of their adoption journey.

Friday, February 14, 2014

share the love: CAC valentine's discount

If you've been thinking about adoption and just haven’t taken the plunge, I can’t think of a better Valentine’s Day gift than saying, “Yes” to adoption and opening up your hearts and your home to LOVE a child that needs a family!



In celebration of LOVE DAY, we're offering 10% off our consulting services.
This offer is good on new client applications received February 14th-21st ONLY!
Basic Consulting Service- normally $2,130 is NOW $1,977
Consulting Plus Basic Profile Preparation- normally $2,680 is NOW $2,412 
Consulting, Profile, and Paperwork Preparation- normally $3,430 is NOW $3,087
*No discounts on any other packages

Don’t miss out!
SHARE YOUR LOVE!
Say, “YES” to adoption TODAY!

Email me at susan@christianadoptionconsultants.com for an application and information packet.




These photos are courtesy of one of our former CAC clients, Jackie Baughman, who is an amazing children’s photographer.  To see more of her beautiful work visit her website at www.blowingdandelionsphotography.com

Thursday, February 13, 2014

the book shelf: my mother's chamomile

Last night I started a newly released book, My Mother's Chamomile. What started as an I-have-15-minutes-to-read-a-bit turned into several hours enjoying the beginning of a beautiful story of family. Susie Finkbeiner is an outstanding author, weaving words and creating stories that engage your heart and your imagination.

Susie and I went to high school together. A small private Christian school in mid-Michigan where the lockers lined just one hallway, you knew everyone's name, and classmates felt a lot like family. Our high school English teachers were amazing and gifted both of us with a love of words (except Susie was smart enough to make a living out of what she learned).

Fun fact: we were both nuns in our high school production of Sound of Music when I was a Sophomore. She was Mother Superior and I doubled as a dinner guest. I donned a habit and ballgown in the same production for the win...

Susie has gone on to be a wife, a mother, and an exceptional author. I'm thrilled to be hosting her today on the blog as she shares a chance exchange in a coffee shop and some thoughts on families; "...the ones we are given and the ones that pick us."



I was sitting at Starbucks the other day, sipping on my hazelnut macchiato and trying to get a little writing done when the lady next to me starting talking to me. We're both regulars. She compliments me on my coat and I tell her I love her stiletto boots that I'd never have the courage to wear. That’s typically the extent of our conversation.

But that day, we talked about our sisters. I don’t know how we got on that topic. But I’m glad we did.

She told me that a friend of hers was crying because she has a strained relationship with her family.

“You know what I told her?” my friend in the fabulous boots asked. “I said, you have family from birth. Those ones you can’t pick. Sometimes you get a good bunch. Other times, they’re a bunch of weirdos. And if they don’t love you, then they’re weirdos. But you don't only get that family. You also get the family you do pick. Or they pick you. Your friends or co-workers or...well...whoever. Sometimes they’re the only good family you get. But, still, they're family.”

I wrote two novels. At the time I wrote them, I didn't realize how the stories would hinge on the family relationships. Birth families and families the characters acquire, that they pick.

In my debut novel, Paint Chips, my character Dot lives in a home for teens rescued from sex trafficking in West Michigan. Dot was raised in a good family, a loving family. However, through different tragic circumstances, her family has fallen apart. The other girls in the home like to sit around her, listening to stories of her happy childhood. They hadn’t had the same privilege of safe homes, loving family.

The girls hadn't gotten a good bunch for their birth families. Fortunately, they were picked. Hand chosen and loved by the woman who took them in. Sisters of circumstance with the others in the home. And this family is a soft place to land for them. A safe place. And, in that family, they find love and redemption.

My second novel, My Mother’s Chamomile, deals with a birth family. They happen to be a family of funeral directors. In a time of hardship, they lean into each other, finding mercy in the ones closest to them.

The struggle for Olga, the matriarch of the family, however, is in allowing others - those in her community - to sprinkle mercy on her and her family. She needs to realize that, when they offer to mow the lawn or share a meal, they are becoming an extension of her family. When she does, she receives a flood of mercy and comfort.

My friend is right, you know, we all have two kinds of families. The ones we are given and the ones that pick us. I think this is nothing short of the great mercy our Lord has for us. That, in the times when we need family, He provides it. Often He does this is unusual ways. What a blessing.

And, in these families, we can lean in close and experience the mercy, grace, redemption, and lavish love that our Father has for us.



Susie Finkbeiner is a novelist and short story writer from West Michigan. Her first novel "Paint Chips" released in 2013 and her second, “My Mother’s Chamomile” released in 2014 with WhiteFire Publishing. She is currently working on her third novel.

Susie is a wife, mother of three, and avid reader. She enjoys time with her family, coffee dates with her good friends, and quiet moments to read and write. You can find more at her blog at www.susiefinkbeiner.com.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

congratulations Josh and Erika

Adoption sparks a revolution.


Josh and Erika called me just four months ago. They had watched their dear friends, Chris and Shelley, go through the adoption process of adopting their daughter Olivia with me last summer and they wanted in.


The time between these two pictures? (Meeting Olivia and meeting their son?) Just five months.

What I love about their adoption story is how these two families partnered together. Chris and Shelley paid it forward by sitting down with Josh and Erika to talk about the adoption process, cheered them on, bought them one of their first baby gifts when they were matched, and even helped with a huge fundraiser (the homemade salsa was a huge hit!) 


Over the weekend, this sweet boy was born. They spent the weekend sharing sacred moments with his birth mother and grandmother, in awe that a boy they hadn't met just 24 hours earlier now totally had their hearts.


For now, they are waiting to get the clearance to head home with their new little guy. And I know one family who will be more than thrilled to meet him.

But more than just Chris, Shelley, and Olivia. This little one has an entire community of friends and family to embrace him. Josh and Erika will introduce their son to grandparents and aunts and uncles and friends who have loved him before even meeting him, since he was born in Josh and Erika's hearts. You better believe I'm going to post some follow up pics of this story...

I'm sure this little guy, just like his friend Olivia, will touch some other lives and ignite the spark. The hope that adoption is how to grow their family. The dream that it could someday be a reality...

And the revolution will continue...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

the book shelf: god found us you

Adoptive families (and families wanting to expose their children to adoption) are always on the hunt for good literature. Adoptive parents find out quickly that even with children's literature in adoption they need to be selective. Finding books that reflect their child's own experiences in an honest and open way is always challenging. I've asked a few of my adoptive families to review some of their favorites here.

You've met Shelly and her family here and on her blog. Today she shares one of their family favorites...



You know this is a good children's book when it makes YOU cry!

I've struggled with finding a good children's book about adoption. Some of them imply the child (or "lost animal") was abandoned at birth. But in our open adoption, that's far from the case. Our daughter was never tossed aside. Her birth momma never abandoned her or forgot about her. She chose life for her! And still loves her!

So as I've grappled with what kind of a message I want to send our daughter through children's books about adoption, I've been on a quest to find a book that doesn't totally conflict with our family's situation.

And I think I finally found one (YAY)!

God Found Us You by Lisa Tawn Bergregn, Illustrated by Laura J. Bryant

Age Recommendation: 2+

Theme:  Follows the conversation between a mama fox and her adopted baby. Little Fox curls up to his mother and says, "Mama, tell me again about the day I came home." Mama says this is her favorite story of all time because "when God found us you, it made me the happiest mother in the world."

Synopsis: This book is about Mama Fox and Little Fox and how they found each other in the big woods (er, how God found them each other!) Mama Fox and Little Fox have different fur which I appreciate because we are a trans-racial family, too. Little Fox asks Mama, as they're snuggled up in a field, to tell him about the night he came home. Mama Fox talks about how she prayed for him and prayed for him, not even knowing who he was or where he was. She talks about her unwavering faith, similar to ours, and her trust that God would find her Little Fox.

Is the book perfect? No. I'm not sure where Papa Fox is in the book. And I don't think any children's book is going to be perfect for an adoptive family because we're all so different!

But the illustrations are adorable, and in my opinion, the message of faith is unique and meaningful for our family. It's one I want my daughter to know and understand, so I'll be keeping this at the front of the bookshelf as she gets older -- and I'll also be purchasing it as a gift for families like mine who have been blessed with adoption.


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