Friday, June 27, 2014

They Turn 9 Months into a Lifetime

You know those days you stumble on a video in your newsfeed and it takes your breath away? That happened to me today. You probably already know that birth mamas are my heroes. And then I found this video with a little boy talking about birth and adoptive mothers and totally lost it at my dining room table...

BraveLove ("a movement dedicated to changing the perception of adoption and supporting birth moms for their brave decision") also has this amazing video of interviews with birth mothers and adoptees talking about adoption. It's worth the watch.

Too often in our culture we are anxious about birth mothers, fall into assumptions, and fear the worst about a birth family. But these beautiful stories of sacrifice, bravery, and selfless love need to be shared and celebrated. 

"A mom and a mother will find each other and join hands and be for the other what they can't be for themselves. Because even if she's not ready to be a mom, a mother can be strong and brave. She can turn 9 months into a lifetime and turn a couple into a family. Maybe that's easier said that done, but then, being a superhero always is..."

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Extending Grace in Adoption

Adoptive families have a lot to navigate. On top of the complex adoption process, they find themselves involved in intimate and awkward conversations everywhere:
Grocery store clerk: I just love her hair - is she from Africa? 
Woman in elevator: Oh, he's adopted? Are you infertile? 
Child at a park: Is she your real mom? 
Co-worker: Was the mom a drug addict or something? 
Friend at a party: So, how much did they cost?
You get the drift.

So how do you maneuver these comments and conversations without losing your mind, extending grace, and still protecting your child? Here's a few tips...

Assume the best
Most people making comments are simply making conversation. Their comment is usually meant to be as benign as talking about the weather. Although sometimes incredibly hurtful or insensitive, assuming someone isn't trying to be hurtful or insensitive is half the battle. Offering the benefit of the doubt can go a long way.

Offer explanations and education
It's my experience that almost all insensitive comments are made from simple ignorance and not from a place of wanting to create hurt or offense. I love when I see adoptive families take the opportunity to educate rather than take offense. Using positive adoption language and gently reframing their question does much more to offer education than a harsh reprimand ever could. 

Set boundaries
In all of this (offering grace as well as explanations and education), remember that it's also ok, even crucial, to create boundaries. Ultimately, you are the keeper of your child's story. The story of their beginnings and adoption is not one you want to share in detail with the grocer or maybe even a friend. It's ok to keep information confidential within your family and protect it from others.

Invite others into your story
In adoption, sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the "us versus them" mentality when people are categorized into those that "get it" and those that don't. Instead, wouldn't it be wonderful to invite others into the beauty of adoption? Having a posture of invitation rather than defensiveness releases your child from being the poster child for some kind of adoption cause and instead works as an example of how God continues the redemptive work of adoption.

In light of these thoughts, what if the conversations looked like this?

Grocery store clerk: I just love her hair - is she from Africa?
Adoptive parent: We love her hair too! She was actually adopted domestically. 

Woman in elevator: Oh, he's adopted? Are you infertile? 
Adoptive parent: Yes - he is adopted. And we decided that adoption was a great way to grow our family! 

Child at a park: Are you his real mom? 
Adoptive Parent: I sure am!  (Depending on the setting or person, this might be a great time to talk about the different ways God grows families and the differences and similarities of biological and adoptive parents. Usually though, such a small response is sufficient.)

Co-worker: Was the mom a drug addict or something? 
Adoptive parent: We consider information about her birth mother private but we can tell you we think she's an incredibly brave and selfless woman. 

Friend at a party: So, how much did they cost? 
Adoptive parent: Each adoption has costs to ensure the birth family gets the best support and counseling and a legal and ethical process is followed. I'd be happy to point you to some resources for more information.

Admittedly, there will be many comments that will make you bite your tongue and want to cover your child's ears. But assuming the best of others, offering education, and inviting others into your story is an amazing opportunity to extend grace in adoption.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

In Her Own Words: In Limbo {When Fear Turns to Faith}

Nikki and I met several years ago as professionals in the world of adoption. We quickly learned we not only shared a passion for families, but also for good coffee, good conversation, and good Mexican food. Over the years our friendship has gone deep and I've had the privilege of literally watching her family grow; from marrying Brian two years ago to bringing home their daughter a few months ago. I'm thrilled to be able to share Nikki's thoughts today on their "unexpected adoption" and the unexpected fear that came along with it...

We all know these people. The married couple that got pregnant on their wedding night. The teenage girl who got pregnant after her first time. The 41-year-old single mother who thought her fertile years were behind her. Unplanned pregnancy. Unexpected pregnancy. Loved babies, but certainly not in their mommas’ plans. Without a doubt though, certainly wanted by God and certainly all in His perfect plan. These situations are common. We talk about them, pray for these mommas and their babies, and use this terminology in our daily lexicon.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard about an unexpected adoption. I certainly never thought I would coin that term because I would be living it. You see, we had been married all of five minutes when I happened upon a particular child’s photo on a waiting child site. I’ve looked at literally hundreds of waiting children’s photos through my decade of working in international adoption and I’ve never felt such a feeling about one child. For days, I couldn’t get this girl off my mind. I told my husband about her and after a short time, he too felt the connection. We scrambled, got a special dispensation from China to adopt before we would meet their marriage length requirement, and made it official before we really realized what happened. Let me be clear: I absolutely did not plan for this. I don’t think anyone really thinks of near newlyweds being the perfect candidates to adopt a 10-year-old with special needs, and certainly not I. If I was the social worker doing my home study, I’m not sure I would have approved it because I would have thought the couple had no grasp on reality. This adoption was a complete surprise to us.

But here we are, four months into our “unexpected adoption” and couldn’t imagine our lives in any other way. (insert knowing smirk here) Isn’t that what they all say?

If I would have been asked to write a blog about being in limbo before now, I would have laughed and said that I knew no more about being in adoption limbo than I knew about doing my taxes. But, it’s been long enough now, and I can separate myself out from the situation enough to see that I had limbo. Oh, I was so limbo, but I didn’t know it. You see, I fooled myself into thinking that I wasn’t in limbo because our adoption went lightening speed and things certainly have to be long to be considered limboesque right?

My adoption limbo wasn’t demonstrated through the passage of time, like it is for so many adoptive families. My limbo was fear. My limbo was saying out loud that I was trusting in Him, when really there were so many nights I sat up by myself, alone, worrying, ruminating, guessing, and second guessing the insanity of what we were doing. I wasn’t trusting. I was scared beyond measure. And fear isn’t trusting in my Creator.

I was afraid of literally everything. I was suspicious of everything we had surrounding our daughter’s adoption paperwork. I was certain she had been ripped from her bio family for nefarious purposes and I was merely a cog in the wheel of corruption that is international adoption. I was certain she was really 16 years old and was thinking she was coming here just for school. I felt my heart ache for the fact that we would never be able to bond with her, and that she would never make an attachment with us. I worried that she would be too much for us, that we would never be able to have a second child. I had visions of me blocking the knife drawer for fear of what would happen if I didn’t. And on and on and on it went. Day after day, night after night with the worrying, silently, alone.

So I buried myself in grants and fundraisers. I wrote my heart and tried to convince myself in what I was writing. I wrote about how we felt called by God to parent this child. I wrote about how my job as an adoption social worker had prepared me to parent this child well. I talked with others and shared what my heart once felt for this situation, hoping I would convince myself again of the dreamer, the girl who followed her Lord on a wing and a prayer but had since succumbed to fear and doubt and then shame.

The day before we left for China, the post-adoption coordinator from our adoption agency called to see how we were doing. I literally told her this was the craziest thing, that nobody should have approved this adoption, and that I wasn’t certain I was going to get on that plane the next day.


And then I blinked and I became a mom. In a horrible elevator on a cold and dark Sunday afternoon in Guiyang, I met my child. As 30 seconds of motherhood turned into 5 minutes and then 20 minutes in a freezing cold stairwell outside the provincial Civil Affairs office, I wiped tears, a snotty nose, gave my baby water, and learned how to crack chestnuts with my teeth to give my baby food to meet her most basic primal needs. As I was standing there, trying to figure out how to comfort her (and trying to keep it together myself) as the child sobbed with abandon, I knew that I didn’t get to be scared anymore. I had given that luxury up. I was a mom now and I could do it. A peace came over me and I felt confirmation that I wasn’t doing it alone. I saw everything slow down and then stop for Him to say, “don’t you see my plan now?”   

It’s been four months now. I think back on that fear, doubt, and all that wasted time I spent worrying this time last year. It sickens me to think of what would have happened if I acted on that fear. Two days ago we went to the doctor and found out at one week post-op that the child we adopted thinking she would be blind, in fact, isn’t actually. Yesterday I watched my child dance in the yard with a neighbor girl and a princess dress, correction, two princess dresses. This morning I cuddled a little girl on the couch for more time than I should have and I didn’t care that we were late for school and work. I’ve learned that parenting is hard, but it’s a whole lot easier than I went into it thinking it would be because now I’m parenting with faith, not fear.  

And I learned that for me, limbo was spelled r-e-d-e-m-p-t-i-o-n.

Nikki has been working as an adoption social worker for the past 10 years.  The consummate single gal was married in 2012 and started an adoption process to adopt a 10-year-old with special needs from China soon after.  Nikki loves writing home studies and preparing families for the realities of adoption. You can find Nikki and Susan every Wednesday in their own corner of Panera working together on all things adoption and sipping coffee. For more of Nikki's adoption story, visit her blog: Peace. Love. Adoption.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Congratulations Mark and Gina

Sometimes the journey to parenthood takes more twists and turns than you ever imagined it would. When Mark and Gina decided it was time to grow their family, they never thought the journey would include adoption along with the roller coaster that can sometimes come with it.

But through the entire process, Mark and Gina had an incredible determination and dedication. I watched as they joyfully pursued their dream of becoming parents.

Mark and Gina have waited a long time for this moment.

The moment they held their daughter in their arms for the first magical time.

The moment they grew to a family of three.

And the moment that they knew that all the waiting, the heartbreak, the hard work of adoption was worth it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Congratulations Jason and Corey (Times Two!)

Jason and Corey have an amazing story to tell their children someday. But it's more than a story of struggling through infertility, crazy timing, and a family being created; ultimately it's the story of a big God who did big things through their parents' big dreams.

Jason and Corey heard about Christian Adoption Consultants through friends who were also adopting. They began working with me in late March; I created their profile and they were in the midst of finishing up their home study.

Then, just eight weeks in, they got a call about twins that has been born. A sweet boy and girl whose birth mother wanted to made an adoption plan and was looking for a family. It seemed like an impossible stretch; Jason and Corey were preparing for their last home visit the next day and having a baby (much less two!) was not even on their radar at this point in their adoption process.

But they prayerfully moved forward. That day they got their profile to the birth mother and over the next few days, God put all of the details in place for Jason and Corey to double their family. In nine weeks after starting with CAC, this family of two went to a family of four. 

They met the birth mother who they describe as incredibly brave and loving. They met their son and daughter; seeing them for the first time with their vision blurred by tears. And they celebrated God's faithfulness and sovereignty over the entire journey in ways they could never have imagined.

I'll let Jason and Corey share why they want to share their story...
God is bigger than expectations. God is more powerful than I often recognize. Our story is nothing short of a miracle. We want people to stand with us in awe of our great God. We spent years struggling through infertility and praying for God to bless us with a child. We never expected our story to be this amazing. We went through our entire adoption process from the preliminary application to placement in 4 months! That does not happen. Our story is a testimony to the power of the local church. It is the power of God’s people showing love to one another. Our connection with the adoption agency, the adoption consultant, the birth mother, the financial resources, the prayers, and the encouragement all stem from the workings of the local church. God’s glorious redemptive plan for humanity is through the power of the local church. Corey and I experienced the power of the local church in a way that we had never seen. My hope is that our story encourages those that are far from God and strengthens those that are close to God. Our story is ultimately God’s story. It NEVER goes according to our plan and it ALWAYS is for His good. Adoption has a way of changing your life. We pray that our story would point to the life-changing message of Christ. The Gospel changes everything.

And I love these words from Jason on what God taught him through the process...
You will often hear in adoption circles to “guard your heart.” Almost everything in the adoption process is out the hands of adoptive parents. An adoption process can end at any second and without warning. “Guarding your heart” helps adoptive parents to not get their hopes up in the case something goes wrong. I spent a lot of time trying to perfect this art of “guarding my heart” before I gave up during one of my morning times with God. I began to realize that this mindset is not really helpful or even Biblical. Ultimately what we are saying to God is, “I am going to guard my heart because I am afraid You are going to break it.” I was using a cop out to not trust God with the thing that I need to trust Him most in. Trust involves submission. I submit my heart to God, trusting that He can make my week great or He can break my heart. Regardless, my joy is found in Christ and not in the outcome of an adoption process. 

Jason and Corey's story, their children's story, is really God's story.

God's story of faithfulness.

God's story of grace.

And God's story of incredible blessing when a couple chooses to trust in His purposes for their family.

To read more of Jason and Corey's adoption journey, check out their blog, Patient in the Waiting

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Congratulations Denny and Kerry

Denny and Kerry's adoption is one that can only be explained by a faithful and big God. Often it's hard to share adoption stories. There's a tension in sharing such a sacred space of the beginning of one life, a family, and a birth family's letting go and a desire to shout from the rooftops how amazing God is in orchestrating the millions of details. So although there are millions of those details in this family's story, recounting just some of them is worth the telling...

Denny and Kerry discussed many avenues for the adoption before they settled on Christian Adoption Consultants and began with me at the end of February. After a doctor's appointment discussing other options that just didn't feel right, they decided to dive into domestic adoption.

From the beginning, Denny and Kerry were clear. They wanted to step into a situation where a child needed a home; where there was a desperate need for a family. Their hearts weren't just for adoption; God had called them into a space to say yes to a little one who needed them.

Just six weeks later, I texted Kerry with that exact situation: there was a sweet baby who needed a family. I knew they were days away from completing their home study, but this was urgent. He had been born several weeks earlier with some medical needs and was just waiting for a family to say yes to him.

There was a lot of details to be worked out. Travel plans and finances, paperwork and legal processes. But Denny and Kerry knew that if this was the child God was calling them to be a family to, God would work out all of the details. And within days of praying and paperwork and packing and more praying, they were headed on a road trip to meet their son. Nine weeks from the time they walked out of a doctor's office to discuss one path and onto another path that would lead them to holding their son.

In God's crazy timing, when all settled a bit and Kerry was reviewing her son's paperwork, she found something that confirmed this sweet boy was meant to be theirs from the beginning. The day in February when they decided to dive into the adoption process? That was the same day their son was discharged from the hospital.

The day they decided to pursue what God had for their family was the same day he was creating it.

For more of Denny and Kerry's journey to adoption, check out Kerry's blog, Glory in the Valley.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Summer Bucket List Adoption Discount

Summer is finally here with the warmer temps, flip flops, and barbeques. You might have plans to head to the beach or the pool, spend more time with family and friends, or get some projects checked off your list.

But summer is also a space to dream. Do you have anything on your bucket list that this summer would be a perfect time to check off? What if our bucket lists were more than exotic trips and thrill-seeking adventures? What if our bucket list included changing another life, investing in the eternal, and answering God's call to care for the orphan?

Have you ever dreamed about adoption? Maybe starting the adoption process should be on your summer bucket list. Christian Adoption Consultants is committed to helping families realize their dreams and answer God's call to add to their family through adoption.

With that in mind, we're pleased to offer a summer discount! We will be offering 10% off all full service consulting packages. (This discount does not apply to our Do It Yourself Program and may not be combined with any other discounts.) 

This discount applies to all applications received today until June 6th. We only offer discounts like this a few times a year - don't miss out!
This might be the year your family starts an adventure and you check adoption off your bucket list!

Want more info on Christian Adoption Consultants?  Click here.

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

Want to get started or get an info packet?  Click here.

What if you have more questions?  Click here.

Have friends who are thinking about adoption? Make sure you share this post! 

*Special thanks to our little model and Two Lights Photography for the above picture. You can read more of his family's journey with CAC here.
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