Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Snapshots of Easter

So I know I'm late to the party posting about our Easter (welcome to my life for the next several weeks - you will enjoy everything at least a week or two after it happened.) 

Our family headed Downtown for Easter. In an effort to unite the our church family under one roof, Redeemer gathered at the Kansas City Convention Center to celebrate the glorious reality that Jesus really is alive. Insert what's becoming the traditional picture for all Redeemer families that morning here.

And this classic picture is the best we could get of all the Kramp and VanSyckle kiddos together. (Side bar: if you've followed me for long you know this clan is very dear to us and the closest thing you can get to family without actually being blood related. Jillian hollered for all the kids to come take the picture and called for the "Krampsyckles." Also thrown around: The VanKramps if we ever want to begin travelling and singing together. And so a new hashtag is born...)

The Easter Bunny amped up his game this year with a full on scavenger hunt complete with clues and puzzles for the kids to find their Easter baskets.

And of course we dyed Easter eggs and are on week two of egg salad. You'll note Jack's sports stickers compared to Isabelle's theological declarations on their eggs.

But this picture is way more that the obligatory Easter Family Picture (that-must-be-taken-every-year-so-help-me-you-will-smile-and-make-a-lovely-memory-children). Easter this year was a big deal for our family. God has been doing some amazing, redemptive, and healing work in our lives.

So often growing up, Easter would be about donning a new Sunday dress, a nice dinner, and a huge chocolate bunny. Of course Jesus was thrown in there (he died, he rose, let's celebrate!), but Easter is now everything. The reality that Jesus lived the life I should have lived, died the death I should have died, and is now alive is the good news and truth that changes everything and transforms our lives.

And this truth was especially real this year. When our need for Jesus has been so desperate. When the reality that he comes to heal the sick, redeem the lost, and restore the broken  is something we pray for everyday. When we come face to face with our true need for him, not just in our Sunday best but in the muck and mire of our sin and brokenness...that is when Easter becomes a real celebration.

So this year we celebrated the good news of Easter. News that's way better than a new dress and a glazed ham for dinner. 

Jesus rose from the dead. And he still brings dead things to life.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Congratulations Tracy and Kristen

Tracy and Kristen began in Christian Adoption Consultants in February. They were match two months later. Then just a week after that this sweet baby joined their family. Just 10 weeks!

Before starting with CAC, Tracy and Kristen had been in the adoption process awhile. Just days before they were matched, Kristen had shared how weary and tiresome the adoption journey can be and I sent her this email:

This I do know though. God's plan is good. He is faithful. You can trust him with your sweet someday baby. And he will be enough when you are tired. Praying for you today!

Little did we know in those moments that in less than two weeks, their son would be in their arms.

In God's amazing providence, when they found out about this little one, their expectant mother lived just a few miles away from them. God's timing was perfect and the long journey was worth it.

Photo above courtesy of Jaci Forshtay Photography

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Congratulations Matt and Katherine

I have a confession to make. Sometimes I hate how quickly an adoption goes.

If you have a chance to read any of the adoption stories I've shared, you can see that's it's not rare for the families I work with to have a quick adoption process. Which is wonderful; a family is created and baby finds a home.

But, I don't get a chance to work with some families as long as I would like. Because they're amazing. I get to know them, their hearts, and their dreams for their families. I laugh and cry and pray with them. And although I'm able to serve them long after their little one comes home, I still wish I could work with them longer! 

So, after my confession, Matt and Katherine are definitely one of these families. They started with Christian Adoption Consultants in January, were matched two months later, and then this little guy was added to their family just two weeks after that.

Admittedly, I'm thankful that I get regular updates from them. I hear about the beautiful relationship they are building with their son's birth mother, the amazing answers to prayer on their adoption journey, and how proud the big brothers are!

And I love the updates like these pictures of their Easter spent as a family in their hotel room. They spent the morning together celebrating God's goodness in sending them a son; singing and praying together over their new addition to the family.

Congrats Matt and Katherine! It's been a joy to watch this little guy join your family!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Congratulations Tory and Carrie

Tory and Carrie started with Christian Adoption Consultants in November and were matched just two weeks later. Earlier this month, this precious girl arrived on the scene and it didn't take long for her to steal their hearts.

Tory and Carrie spent months getting to know their expectant mother and the weightiness of adoption is not lost on them. The magnitude of sacrifice. The depth of the bittersweetness of it all.

Carrie sums it up well on her blog this way: 

We are feeling a combination of absolute love, and sadness, and guilt. Adoption is a strange beast. It makes families by subtracting from another. Even though the decision was right for [our birth parents], it wasn’t easy, and they will grieve for a long time.

I found a quote that I think sums it up perfectly: “A child born to another woman calls me mommy. The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege are not lost on me.”

I am beyond privileged to be chosen to be Audrey’s mother. God guided [her birth mother] and I toward each other and we will be forever linked.

I will love Audrey with all of my being for the rest of her life.

I'm so thankful God chose Tory and Carrie to be parents to this sweet girl through adoption! I'm sure she will grow up knowing the enormous love she has from her birth family and her adoptive family.

You can find more of Tory and Carrie's adoption story at her blog, Recipes for Lemons.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Congratulations Patrick and Lily

There are some stories I can't wait to share. Patrick and Lily's story is one of these.

From the start, Patrick and Lily have been passionate about growing their family through adoption. Confident of being called to add to their family this way, they always had a heart posture to say "yes" to God.

But for a season, it seemed all of their "yeses" turned up void. 
Although they went through a phase where there was doubt and even despair, there was never a time when their faith wasn't in the One who had called them to this path.

Their trust was not in the process.

Their trust was in Jesus who called them to adoption.

Their trust was in his timing for their family.

Their trust was that his personal promises to them as a couple would not turn up void, but ultimately would be "yes and amen."

So they pressed forward. Through hard spaces where it seemed like adoption might not work out for them. Through dark nights when their arms and crib were empty, waiting for a little one.

And then, this little guy entered the world. 

All the months waiting, all the nights longing, all the prayers prayed; in one instant God took their "yes" and turned them into a family.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Blog Redesign!

After a year and a half of my sad attempt at creating my own blog, I'm thrilled today to unveil my new blog design! 

One of my clients (turned sweet friend) Amanda is currently using her savvy graphic design skills to raise money for their adoption. So I get a new blog design and got to help with their daughter joining their family later this summer. Win-win.

From the beginning, I was incredibly impressed with Amanda’s professionalism and ability to make my ideas literally appear on my screen.  She was easy to work with and was ever so patient with my (Type A) requests.  At this point she deserves sainthood. 

I mean really. She turned this: 

Into what you see now!

I’m thrilled with the outcome of the design and love the simple elements she’s added to make the site look more like me and easier to navigate.

Take some time to look around here, then head over to Manda Julaine Designs!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Congratulations Silas and Bethany

Silas and Bethany had a dream of having another child through adoption. They started with Christian Adoption Consultants at the end of January this year. Then, just three months later, they received a call that would forever change their family.

This little guy had just been born and needed a family. Silas and Bethany didn't hesitate for a moment.

Although the adoption journey can be long, it only takes a moment to create a family.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Creating an Adoption Hospital Plan: A [Mini] Tutorial

After getting through your home study, creating your profile, being matched, and navigating what kind of openness you want, the next thoughts might be about what labor, delivery, and the hospital stay will look like.

Will we be in the room during delivery?

What kind of interaction will we have with the baby and birth mother?

Will we get a room at the hospital?

Typically all of these questions (and many more) are answered in an adoption hospital plan and can be a valuable tool in knowing what to anticipate and plan.  Although the hospital plan is ultimately up to the expectant mother to create and based on her wishes, it's good for an adoptive family to know what to expect.

The hospital stay (labor, delivery, and several days post partum) are a critical and highly sensitive time in the adoption process. A key part in the expectant mother preparing for labor and delivery is creating a thorough adoption hospital plan with her birth parent counselor. A good adoption hospital plan communicates the expectant mother's wishes to hospital and agency staff and the adoptive family. The plan creates awareness of the expectant mother's wishes and plans and allows the freedom for everyone involved to focus on her and her baby's needs.

Just like other birth plans, the hospital plan is flexible and fluid and can often change. Even prenatally, an expectant mother who planned for the adoptive parents not to be in the delivery room may change her mind once she gets to know the adoptive family and feels more comfortable. And of course at the hospital a delivery could change to a cesarean section or the plan to have no contact after delivery could change to visiting with the adoptive family throughout the hospital stay.

To ensure your expectant mother has an adoption hospital plan, find out if the agency has created one with her and request a copy. The birth parent counselor will ensure that the hospital plan is communicated with hospital staff and in the expectant mother's chart prior to delivery (if possible). Talk to your agency to see if it would be beneficial for you to talk with the hospital social worker or admissions counselor to ensure they have your information. They can also help arrange a room for the adoptive family until the baby is discharged (often this is available if space allows).

It's key for an adoptive family to remember that the hospital stay is more about ensuring that all goes well with the birth mother and that her needs are met. For a birth mother, labor, delivery, and those first few days postpartum are a highly emotional and physically draining space. Adding adoption to the complex dynamic of childbirth also creates a level of grief and loss. Having a hospital plan in place allows the central focus to be on the needs of the birth mother and baby in an effort to facilitate the bittersweet transition that everyone involved is making.

In my work with birth families, I always tell them  it's important to say "hello" in order to start saying "goodbye." The hospital stay surrounds both of these momentous events in her life and needs to be handled with ultimate sensitivity, care, and compassion by everyone around the birth family and birth mother.

Here's a link to a sample hospital plan I created.  Feel free to use it!

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

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Congratulations Cory and Ashley

When Ashley was younger, God gave her a passion for children and adoption. And after a missions trip to Haiti, Cory realized he was called to be a daddy by whomever God chose to place in his arms. I love what Cory and Ashley share about their journey: "Adoption is not Plan B for us – we are not adopting because we can’t have biological kids – we are adopting because that is how God is writing our story." 

Cory and Ashley adopted their daughter and decided they were ready to adopt baby number two. They began with Christian Adoption Consultants this past November and just two months later were matched with an expectant mother.

Since that time they have been building a relationship with their expectant mother and preparing their home for a little one. Then, on St. Patrick's day, Ashley was able to be in the room when their son was born.

I'm so thankful that for this family, they've chosen to let God write their story. And in the midst of it, God is writing a good one. His ways are never "plan B" or second best. 

His stories are always the best.

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