Wednesday, December 31, 2014

season's greetings

Admittedly, my mailbox is the happiest every December. It fills up with beautiful adoptive families that I've been blessed to work with; families that have become sweet friends.

As each greeting comes, I look at the sweet faces and remember their story. Often one more sweet face has been added to the picture since their last Christmas card was sent. It's a beautiful chance to recount the amazing work God has done in their lives. 


Represented here are just a handful of stories of loss, of heartbreak, and struggle. There is infertility, mounds of paperwork, fundraisers and money painstakingly saved. There is anxious waiting, prayers spoken in the dark, and tears few others see. But there is also expectation and awkward first meetings, laboring beside a birth mama, and seeing that face for the first time. There are baths and cuddles and bedtime stories and prayers. There are homes filled with laughter and learning and hope. 

There are families.

The faces that show up in my mailbox in December are a sweet reminder of the incredible blessing I have to get a front row seat to the miracles God does when he creates a family.



Are you dreaming of having another face on your Christmas card in 2015? Click here for ways to make that happen.

Monday, December 29, 2014

dreaming about adoption in 2015

The beginning of the year is the time to look forward and dream about what could be. Could this be the year that you take action on your desire to adopt? If finances are all that's holding you back, maybe this is just the encouragement you need to make the first move towards the baby that God would place in your family.


Christian Adoption Consultants wants to help you get started by offering a $100 discount. Any new families who sign up between January 1st and 9th will receive $100 off of our full service consulting packages. (This discount does not apply to our self serve consulting package, returning families, or special needs consulting packages).

Patrick and Lily brought their son home in 2014 with the help of CAC!
























Let's make 2015 the year you open your home to a child through adoption!

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! 

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

Monday, December 22, 2014

meet Jacob

This is Jacob.


After 733 days in foster care, he found a forever family. In mine.

My brother and his wife, Tim and Meg, became foster parents just over two years ago. Days after getting their license, they got a call. A little boy, just three months old, needed a safe place to land. Within hours Tim and Meg were holding a little guy under their Christmas tree. Within days he had a stocking knit for him hanging at Papa and Nonny's house.


Over the next several months, that spilled over into years, Tim and Meg did all they could to care for Jacob. The days were filled with court hearings and visits. With doctors appointments and sleepless nights. With bottles and books and bedtime prayers. They built a beautiful relationship with Jacob's birth family. And earlier this year, his biological mother decided that adoption was the best choice for her son. But she didn't just consent to an adoption. She would only consent to a specific adoption: naming Tim and Meg as his forever family.

Last week, we traveled to celebrate Jacob's adoption finalization. I was greeted in front of the courthouse by Jacob's biological grandma, who knew me by name. She knew everyone who arrived, having heard about us from Tim and Meg and taking genuine interest in Jacob and his adoptive family. We packed the courtroom (so much that the attorney said he had never seen such a crowd for an adoption) and I'm sure we interrupted all of the hearings on that floor with our cheering.


Admittedly, I cry at every adoption finalization I attend. There's something more than an Adoption Decree being signed and new birth certificate being issued. A child has a new name. A family is created. Nothing mirrors the gospel like adoption.

But this time it was my brother. And my sister. And my nephew. I've watched them love Jacob from the beginning. And they have loved without reservation or hesitation or strings attached. Without knowing the end of the story, they committed to love him with all they had from the start. They knew that as long as Jacob was entrusted to their care, they would be his parents. And they've been amazing.

I was done even before they were sworn in; the tears had already started. While we were waiting for the hearing to start I pulled my brother aside and told him how proud I was of him; that he's an amazing daddy. And then the judge proclaimed Jacob every much a son to Tim and Meg as if he had been born to them, gave Jake the gavel to close the case, and my brother held his son, the one who finally shared his name, and cried. I joined the rest of the gallery as we wept at the goodness and faithfulness of God who can turn something so broken into something so beautiful. A child who once entered the foster care system through hurts a three month old should never know now chosen, wanted, and given a new name; adopted.

 

It's funny how one day, one moment of a gavel hitting the bench, can change everything and nothing at the same time. Jacob now shares our family name. But he's been a part of our family since the moment he was held under that Christmas tree. He has been loved from the beginning.

Welcome to the family, Jacob Weston. You've been a part of us since the moment we laid eyes on you.



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

the gift of adoption

I've been thinking a lot about gifts for Christmas. Trying to think of thoughtful, loving gifts (which is always harder than you think it will be at the beginning of the season). And then I was reminded what so many people I know are wanting right now - a family.


I've had so many conversations with people about desiring to start their adoption process but feeling incredibly overwhelmed and not knowing how to even begin. That's where Christian Adoption Consultants can come in. We can help you navigate your adoption from start to finish.

So I am encouraging you, if you have thought about it, why not have the process started for a Christmas present? Even better, ask your friends and family to contribute to the cost of hiring a n adoption consultant. Seriously, how many scarves or face creams, or shoes do you need? Asking those around you to help, to join you on the journey, and actually beginning the process to adopt could change your life, and the life of a child.

Why not take the first step to creating a family so that next Christmas, there can be an extra face on the Christmas card.

And take a look at this video, because this one is too good not to share...




Friday, December 12, 2014

adoption story: joe and jessica

Joe and Jessica talked about having children from the moment they met and were eager to become parents. They dreamed about teaching their kids, watching them grow, and giving them unconditional love and support. After struggling to have a family, Joe and Jessica decided adoption would be the best way to grow their family.  


Their first step was connecting with other families built through adoption. In their area, there have been quite a few families who have adopted with the help of Christian Adoption Consultants. This group that keeps growing gets together for barbecues, adoption education, and have created quite a community of support and friendship. 

Joe and Jessica began working with me at the end of March and by the end of May they were prepared to take in a little one with their home study ready. Just over two months later, they were matched with a birth mother, due just before Christmas. Joe and Jessica looked forward to a holiday season becoming a family of three.

But then the unexpected happened, their match failed in October and suddenly the upcoming Christmas season was filled with loss rather than celebration. One of their biggest fears in their adoption was realized. They turned to their family and friends and other CAC families for support and braced themselves for another holiday season with empty arms.


Just eleven days later, Joe and Jessica got the call that would change everything. A little boy was born that needed a family. A little boy was waiting for them. Joe and Jessica caught the first flight they could to go and meet an amazing birth mother and the sweet little one that would be their son.


Looking back, we know that Joe and Jessica would have never heard about their son had they not gone through the failed match. We know that God took what we thought was a huge loss and misstep and turned it into the beautiful story he was writing. We know that this boy was meant to be with Joe and Jessica forever.

What a difference two weeks made in the life of this family. 


Joe and Jessica thought they were anticipating becoming a family just in time for Christmas. But God made sure their son was home for Thanksgiving.

And I'm sure when Joe and Jessica tell their son's story in the twinkle of Christmas lights for years to come, they will tell a story of heartache and loss. And a story of beautiful surprises and gratefulness. And I'm sure they will say that they wouldn't have it any other way.



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

adoption story: gray and leigh

Gray and Leigh have a beautiful story of God creating their family. After adopting their son from Ethiopia, they knew their family wasn't yet complete. But this story is more about a family pursuing adoption. It's about God making the impossible happen...



After adopting our son in from Ethiopia in 2011, we knew that God was calling our family to grow again through adoption. After much prayer we felt God calling us to domestic adoption. We signed on with Christian Adoption Consultants, got our home study completed and by the end of July we were ready for placement. We saw several situations come through but none of them felt "right." 




On Monday, September 8th we found out about a birth mother expecting a little baby girl in less than a month. I called the agency for more details and the moment they started telling me more I just knew. I knew this was the birth mother we had been praying for, I just knew this baby girl was our daughter. My heart knew all of this but my head kept saying it was crazy to think like that, too many pieces would have to fall into place. I told Gray we needed to talk when he got home from work and I texted my best friend that as crazy as it sounded, this was it. The problem, if this birth mother did pick us to parent her little girl, we needed 11,000 dollars in 48 hours. We only had 5,000 of that. We would also need an additional 11,000 at birth. When we found out we couldn't put this on our credit card and fundraise to pay it off we were devastated, this was money we had to have in the bank.  All night we tried to figure out how to make it work, in our minds there was no way we could fundraise that much. We decided we were not going to present, I was heartbroken. I texted my best friend to tell her, what she wrote back would change our lives forever. She said "if this is your daughter, God is going to provide." But my thought was "not for us, we aren't deserving or worthy of such a miracle". The Lord would quickly teach me that none of us are worthy but He can use any of us for His glory if we are willing!  Neither Gray nor I got much sleep that night. The next morning I woke up, texted Gray that we were going for it and drew a big heart on our chalk board to track our fundraising. Over the next  two days we posted on Facebook and Instagram and had our posts shared dozens of times. Our son, Angesom, helped us track our fundraising progress and in just 36 hours we raised the additional 6,000 dollars we needed if the birth mother did choose us. It was the most unbelievable and humbling experience of my life. 




On September 11th our agency called and we found out that the birth mother had chosen us for this precious baby girl.  We were overjoyed and overwhelmed. We still had a lot left to fundraise. Over the next 21 days we raised the additional 11,000 dollars thanks to so many people. We had total strangers throw huge fundraisers for us that brought in thousands of dollars. There were recipe exchanges and Instagram auctions. Tons of people were giving us portions of their commission. We were getting donations from all over the country. I spent most days in tears at how God was moving to bring our baby girl home. Hundreds of people were praying for our family. On October 7 at 8:01am our Elisabeth "Elsie" Reece was born. We were blessed to be with her moments after her birth and we fell madly in love with her from the start.  



It's still overwhelming to look back at our journey to Elsie and see how many people played a role in helping us bring our daughter home. We will forever be thankful to everyone who loved our family big and was part of the miracle God had for our family. He alone makes the impossible possible and we can only hope our story encourages others to step out in faith! 


Monday, December 8, 2014

adoption story: will and megan

If you want a good love story, Will and Megan and how they fell in love with their daughter is a good one. But it turned out to be even more than that...


It started on Valentine's Day this year when they began working with me at Christian Adoption Consultants. After years of wanting to create a family and lots of dead ends, adoption seemed to be the perfect fit. Adoption was already woven into their story and seemed to be a natural next step. Their home study was done in May and six weeks later they were matched with a beautiful expectant mother.

They always knew the woman who would have their baby would be a brave and courageous woman. But they had no idea how much they would admire and grow to love her as well as their baby.

Over the next few months, as Will and Megan were awaiting the arrival of their baby, they were able to develop a relationship with their expectant mother. They called, texted, and visited with her, even attending a prenatal appointment.

And then, early one morning they got the call. Their expectant mother was in labor and they caught the earliest flight they could, desperately hoping they could make it for the birth. But when the earliest flight wasn't until late morning and included a layover, they just prayed their arrival wouldn't be too long after their daughter's birth. 

While Will and Megan were getting off of the very last seats on the plane and gathering their suitcases (which were the very last on the carousel), their birth mother was waiting for them. She was ready to push; the baby was ready to come and the doctors were all coaching her to push. But she insisted on waiting for Will and Megan to be their when their daughter was born.


When Will and Megan finally arrived, they were amazed to see a team of people, all waiting for them to welcome their daughter into the world. They had the amazing opportunity to share the miracle of their daughter's birth with her strong birth mother. And in those moments, all three of them became parents to a beautiful baby girl.


That night, before Megan was finally able to drift off to sleep after the incredible events of the day that made her a mother, she shared that she was praising and thanking God over and over.

When Will and Megan started out on their journey to adopt, they were sure they would fall in love with their baby. But who knew they would also learn to love a woman who so selflessly gave them such an incredible gift? 






Thursday, December 4, 2014

unwrapping the greatest gift

Each year, our family chooses to celebrate advent with the Jesse Tree. It's a beautiful way to remember that Christmas isn't just about a baby born in a stable to a peasant girl; but a redemption story that is woven throughout all of history. Each evening we stop and pause to celebrate the coming of a King and anticipate his coming again.

It's like a deep breath for the soul. A space to step away from the chaos of the season and remember why Christmas changed all of history.


This year we're going through Ann Voskamp's Unwrapping the Greatest Gift. This beautiful book is perfect for our family to celebrate advent this year. Hearing again the story that started from the beginning of time of a loving and faithful God who entered into our world to enter our mess and make all things right.

Once, in the truest story that you have ever heard, His-Story, which is really your very own story, there was this family - Jesse's family. A family that was like yours, like a tree with branches of these relatives and those brothers and those sisters - a family that loved each other and hurt each other and forgave each other and failed each other. A family that failed God...

This is how the book starts. And I wept when I heard those words because this is how our advent this year started as well. 


More than any other time, this year for our family has been marked by loving and failing and hurting and forgiving each other (just click the marriage tab on the right and you'll get a picture of the big messes God loves to redeem). And hearing the good news that Jesus entered into our world to rescue us from all of the brokenness is a beautiful reminder. One that in this season is good to hear night after night after night.

Included in the book are resources for Jesse Tree ornaments and printables. This year, with our family together for the first time in awhile, my heart has longed to keep things simple. It's always easy for me to get caught up in the prefect decor and traditions and family pictures. But this year it seems right that things are quieter and there's more room to revel in God's gift to us.


So instead of scouring Pinterest for the perfect homemade advent tree, I printed off the simple coloring ornaments and hung them with twine and washi tape in our breakfast nook. The kids color each story and every day we take a peek at each gift; God's rescue plan unfolding. Then every night, as we gather the kids by the fire and read God's redemption throughout history, the simple story is exactly what I need to hear in the midst of a complex world.


Jesus comes right to your Christmas tree and looks at your family tree and says, "I am your Rescuer, and I will set you free from all the brokenness and sinfulness and sadness.  I'll be the Gift...Who wants to wake up on Christmas morning with a heart that wants the greatest Gift the most?  Who wants Jesus more than anything else?

My prayer for our family this advent season is that we would see God's redemption plan throughout all of history, and so evident in our own family tree, and continue to learn to want Jesus more than anything else.


To see how we've celebrated advent in past years, check out these posts on celebrating advent with a Jesse Tree and with the Jesus Storybook Bible.



Monday, December 1, 2014

announcing your adoption

Much like other couples announcing their pregnancy, some couples in the process of adopting are eager to tell friends and family that they're "paper pregnant." Although when to decide to tell others is different for every family, announcing a growing family can be an exciting and fun way to include others in the journey.

Here's a compilation of some of my families announcing their adoption plans! (For more on each family's adoption story, simply click their names for the link!)


This is how Alex and Amy shared the start of their adventure to find their baby.



Andy and Mimi announced their adventure and a way family and friends can follow their journey.



Chris and Christy used Bananagram tiles!



Chris and Shelley enlisted the help of their favorite cupcakery 
(who later also assisted in celebrating their daughter's homecoming!)



Dietrich and Christy made this their Facebook banner picture to let friends and family in on their plans.



Gray and Leigh enlisted the help of their son, Angesom, who was thrilled to become a big brother!



Jarrod and Amanda had a photo shoot and created a video (found here).



Jimmy and Leah announced the start of their adventure this way.



Joe and Jess mailed these creative "Mad Gab" game cards to their friends and family with a note to call when they figured out the secret message ("Joe and Jess Are Adopting a Baby).




Paul and Katie sent this special package to soon-to-be grandparents.



Steve and Kate got their eager big sisters, Megan and Faith, involved. 



Tony and Natalie also got the whole family involved (and even their stack of paperwork to be completed!) 



Troy and Nicole had help from their dogs...



Tyler and Miki made their announcement paired with school spirit! 



For more creative ideas to announce your adoption, check out part 2!


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