Thursday, October 29, 2015

in their own words: adoption and pregnancy

Natalie and Loren are currently pursuing adoption as a way to grow their family. I have loved not just working with Natalie, but getting to know her amazing heart for Jesus and for others. Today, I'm sharing her thoughts on adoption and pregnancy, some of the common myths around these means to parenting, and some of my other adoptive mamas weigh in with their thoughts as well. 


Adoption is not a means to pregnancy.

It just isn’t.

There is no formula to pregnancy except of course: sperm + egg. But not just sperm + egg, there are a lot of factors that have to take place. For some, this happens the first time they have sex and to be frank, that blows my mind. For others, it happens after two or three months of trying. For still others, it takes more than six months to a year or more, and in that trying time, they are placed in the category of infertility. Even if they do end up conceiving and successfully carrying a precious and so wanted life, they still endured that painful time of infertility.

While Loren and I were in the thick of desiring our family to grow and it just not happening, we were praying about pursuing adoption sooner rather than later but were also confident we would still conceive and successfully carry a baby eventually, we had people who love us share stories about adoption and pregnancy following. The stories are always frame-worked as though the adoption had something to do with the wife suddenly being able to become pregnant. It almost always sounded like this, “I have these friends who couldn’t get pregnant so they adopted, and then they got pregnant. Have you guys thought about trying to adopt?”

Maybe you don’t consciously believe that you and others and even my past self were sharing formulas to fix a medical diagnosis of infertility; it is possible that you have never said, “adoption is the way to get pregnant.” But let’s talk about it, let’s look at the stories I have been told and heard. Let’s be honest and open and willing to address the core heart of this, shining light on it a little bit at a time.

Below are some issues that are often stated as the reason people conceive and carry after being told they cannot. My heart is not to make anyone feel guilty for saying and thinking these things, but to educate and reveal to others the perspective of someone who is being told these very phrases and doesn’t always have the grace and patience to constantly educate in the moment. But, I will continue to pray for grace and patience and understanding, continue to ask Jesus to give me eyes that sees their intentions, and also continue to ask for strength to explain how these phrases and assumptions hurt.

When you are facing infertility and decide to pursue adoption, you are nearly guaranteed to hear some variation of, “you will get pregnant after or while you adopt.” We as friends don’t mean it maliciously but intend it as hope in some way. Regardless of the intentions, the comments fester and wound more than I knew they could.

“…many people like to come up with explanations for how/why couples get pregnant after failing to conceive for many years. This is a natural reaction, and it is understandable how anyone can get caught up in the happiness of the moment to propose what seem to be good reasons for such extraordinary occurrences.” -Jennifer in Laughing At God

adoption
Pregnancy after adoption: because you relaxed
Clearly, the saying goes, because people adopted they relaxed and were able to conceive. Did you know that adoption is not relaxing or stress free? Just because we and others have decided to pursue adoption, doesn’t mean we are suddenly stress free; it also doesn’t mean that every one who adopts has given up hope for biological children. Aside from that, infertility is a diagnosable disease and I have not heard of any other diseases being cured due to relaxing. Sure, relaxing is great, but I have a feeling it won’t cure my endometriosis, blood clotting disorder, or reverse the obscene amounts of radiation that fried my ovaries. What do you think?

Pregnancy after adoption: a reward
Sometimes there is a [not always so] subtle implication that pregnancy after adoption is some sort of reward. What? I don’t even. I have a really hard time with the pregnancy announcements that say, “We prayed, He answered.” Call me fickle, its really okay. But I have been praying for years, along with my husband and many many other people. Crying on my face, tears soaking other people’s shoulders and carpet fibers. Begging and praying for both babies and a submissive heart. It has been this ongoing tension of clamping my hands tight around my desires and wishes, and surrendering them hands open. So to hear those stories about people who conceived and carried after adoption, and to hear the words that it was a reward…that implies once again, that pregnancy is superior to adoption. What does that say to children who were adopted? That they were second best? That their siblings are a reward for them?

Children of their own [biological]
I have heard this phrase more times that I could count, “So-And-So adopted and then they had children of their own.” Children of their own? What will our adopted children be if they are not ours? I know this is not a formula, but it is one of the phrases I have heard more than once and I would love to shine a little light on it.

The formula: adoption = pregnancy
There is often an implication that adopting a baby or child is a means to get pregnant. In other words, our ultimate goal must be pregnancy, therefore we must adopt to get there. This formula shouts and screams that pregnancy is the ultimate goal, rather than choosing adoption and loving outside of their bloodline and growing their family in two incredibly beautiful yet different ways.

Adoption is one way Loren and I decided early on we would grow our family. This isn’t the case for all people who adopt, and even if it were, there is no guarantee that families will conceive. A difficult thing to articulate is that adoption doesn’t have to be a second option. It shouldn’t even be seen that way. Yes, some people are led to adoption after years and years and years of failed infertility treatments. But that doesn’t mean they love their children any less. I have heard it said that it becomes their second First Option; I am still working this phrase out and don’t know where I land on it, but there it is.

“My biggest issue with the pregnancy-after-adoption theory/fable is not the intention of anyone who makes these statements, but I think should be clarified nonetheless to demonstrate the purpose of adoption. Adoption is a means to an end of adding a child to your family; it is not a means to an end of getting pregnant. Both adopting a child and having a biological child are beautiful, Scripturally significant ways of building a family, and one way is not better than the other.” -Jennifer, from Laughing At God

little bear
I asked my adoptive parent village on Facebook about their experience with this formula. Here were some of their responses:

“…the rate of pregnancy after adoption [for those who tried to conceive for years and failed] is the same rate of pregnancy after infertility so it is a myth that if you adopt you will get pregnant. And frankly, it is quite hurtful. Its like they are saying: ‘soon you will get your REAL child.’ I know people mean well, but the more education that can happen around this the better.” -Lisa


“I’ve heard that several times and then get to awkwardly say ‘well actually we’ve never tried for biological children’ then I get a mother load of other questions.Adoption and infertility do not go hand in hand. Plenty of people struggling with infertility never adopt, plenty of people that don’t struggle with infertility do adopt. It’s just a different way to build a family, it’s not a ‘because this didn’t happen we had to do this.’” -Leigh

“We are not adopting due to infertility, but rather because I became critically ill during my pregnancy with our son. We almost both didn’t make it, and he was born 12 weeks early at 1 lb 6 oz. I have had people ( even sometimes people who heard our story) make comments about getting pregnant right after we adopt. It is one of those things that I have struggled knowing how to respond to at times without going through our whole story again.” -Amy

“We are adopting or hope to adopt because I always had adoption on my heart ever since I can remember...[I] feel like it is something I am supposed to do. My husband always wanted a big family. We are older now and even though we have children feel that this is the right time for us to grow our family with adoption…” -Sissa

“We are able to get pregnant fairly easily, but after 5 miscarriages with no medical explanation, we knew God was pointing us towards adoption. Since bringing Maya home we’ve had several (well meaning) comments about how “now you’ll definitely get pregnant with your own baby.” (A) Maya is absolutely our baby, and (B) I don’t know that my heart will ever be ready to consider getting pregnant in the future. The pregnancy losses were hard enough when the “idea” of the baby being part of our life was all we were losing. Now that we have Maya and I know how blessed our life is with an infant in our home, I can’t imagine going thru the same loss again.” -Christy

“I was a horribly sick pregnant person and don’t think I could be an effective Mom to our two boys if I were pregnant again. We’ve also been drawn to adoption since before we were married. It is definitely not second choice for us. Of course, we don’t tend to get those comments. We’d get more rude ones if I showed up pregnant, ironically (almost 40 and kids are 7 and 9).” -Lindsay

“We were one of the few (I always remind people it is “few”) that got pregnant right after we adopted, after years of trying. The comments were the worst during my actual pregnancy, although I admittedly probably looked weird holding my baby with a huge belly. I quite often was told that I was lucky and I would love my biological child so much more (how awful is that?!).  Now that they are both here, comments have died down and most people just say how lucky we are to have both (true!!). I am in a wonderful position to truly know if there is any difference in loving your biological child vs your adopted child. And I can say unequivocally there is not. In fact, it took me longer to bond with Eliza (bio) vs Audrey (adopted). They are both 100% my daughters. Audrey’s birth family considers Eliza family. It wasn’t meant to happen any other way.” -Carrie

“I feel like your post contains my answers! ‘adoption is not a means to pregnancy or second best, and educate that adoption is not used as a formula to become pregnant.’ That sums it up!” -Stacey

“Love that you are doing this! I feel like a lot of people just don’t fully understand how infertility works. It’s not just some switch your body can turn on and off. We tried for 4 years before deciding to start the adoption journey. So it is hurtful when people say ‘oh you’ll get pregnant as soon as you stop stressing and adopt.’ They weren’t there when my fertility doctor ran tests, gave us our odds, and tried multiple procedures that had better odds of working as opposed to just naturally trying. It’s just too exhausting to explain the details to each family member and friend, so I just keep quiet or say ‘most likely not’ when I get those comments.” -Andrea

“My husband and I recently found out I’m pregnant. This pregnancy comes after 2 adoptions and years of failed infertility treatments. Preparing ourselves for 3 kiddos under the age of 3 is a slight bit overwhelming, and I can relate to a lot of what Carrie said in her comments above. There are a few things I think are really important to remember:
-All children are miracles no matter how they join your family.
-Adoption (a non-medical process) does not cure infertility (a medical diagnosis).
-Many people choose to adopt without considering their fertility or ability to have biological children.
-Statistics show there is no correlation between pregnancy rates with those who choose to grow their family through adoption after an infertility diagnosis.” -Shelley, The Truth About Getting Pregnant After Adoption

If anything, let this shine a little bit of light onto the words we throw about pertaining to adoption and pregnancy, as though they come hand in hand or are even tied to one another. Adoption is not a medical process, infertility is a medical diagnosis. 

PS. When I show up pregnant to your dinner party or basketball game, because we are believing for babies both ways, please don’t use me as one of your stories for someone else. Someone who “adopted then got pregnant.” Please. Thank you.




You can find more of Natalie's story, this original blog post, and their journey to grow their family at Natalie's blog, Natalie Brenner Writes.


Monday, October 26, 2015

4th annual family reunion

This past weekend my heart exploded.


Every year we open our home to host my adoptive families for what has become a family reunion. Each year as our family expands, we welcome new families and new little ones.


Although none of us are related by blood, we consider each other family. That's the beautiful thing about adoption. Each family has decided to add to their family in a way where love is more important than biology or genetics.

And with that choice for adoption, through Christian Adoption Consultants, each of my clients also gains an extended family through other couples who have chosen to grow their family through the gift of adoption. Many of us connect with each other daily through a private Facebook group where we encourage, support, and pray for each other. We celebrate matches and births, ooh and aah over sweet babies and their milestones, laugh at the quirks and support each other in the hard that comes with the complexities of adoption, and mourn with each other when there is loss. 


It's a unique gift for adoptive families to be able to walk this journey with others and I've loved watching true friendship blossom. I have families who gather together routinely, who have stopped at each other's homes overnight on their way to welcome their baby, and even mamas who get away together. We diligently pray for each other; fighting to hold strongly to the truth that God calls some families to the hard and beautiful path of adoption.

So this weekend, when some of my families pulled up in our cul-de-sac, had lunch in our backyard, and shared and talked and laughed face to face, my heart was more than full.


And when we circled up for introductions and prayer, I had to choke back the tears. Dozens of dear ones, from multiple states, with littles ones in their arms or still prayers away. I knew each of their stories: the heartaches, the answers to prayer, and the prayers I still pray over them. With littles wiggling and bigs proudly introducing their new siblings, I just stood in awe of God's goodness, right there in my backyard.



I loved watching daddies chase their toddlers, listening to mommies talk and laugh together, and seeing littles jump with my kids on the trampoline. Isabelle told me at one point this is her favorite day of the year since she gets to hold all the babies. I admitted to her that it's one of mine too.


Some families come in different packages. This group of families, connected through adoption rather than blood, are some of my favorites.



To see past pictures and stories from previous family reunions, check these links:


Thursday, October 22, 2015

adoption story: tadd and andrea

"Rainbow Babies" is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn't mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope.



It seems only fitting that during Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month I share Tadd and Andrea's story. It's one that started with the storm clouds...

Our journey to grow our family has been a very long and hard road. Our hearts have always longed for children, and we always thought we would have a large family. Early on in our marriage, we suffered two miscarriages. Then, we found out we were pregnant with baby number three. Tragically, Andrea went into preterm labor at just 23 weeks and we lost our son, Cameron.  We have been told any future pregnancy would be very high risk for both Andrea and baby. Although heartbroken, we began to feel God tugging on our hearts to pursue adoption. Andrea is adopted, and adoption has always had a very special place in her heart. Our journey to become parents has brought us to this beautiful road of adoption, and we can't wait to open our hearts and home to a precious little one.

Tadd and Andrea began working with me at Christian Adoption Consultants last winter. By May they were home study ready. At that point the journey had already been an emotional, tumultuous one. But their faith in God's plan for their family offered them hope.

And then the light started to appear. Just weeks after they were home study approved, they heard about an expectant mama looking for a family for her daughter. It was the first situation they felt drawn to and decided to present. Within days they were matched and making plans to meet this brave woman who would also become a sweet friend.

Without the rain, there would never be rainbows. Tadd and Andrea's arrived on August 26th. They welcomed their beautiful daughter Clara into the world and into their family through adoption.


Tadd and Andrea certainly don't see Clara as a replacement for their son, Cameron. He is still a loss they grieve and he will always hold a special place in their hearts. Cameron's little sister has been a beautiful gift. 


And now they will be raising a rainbow.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

adoption story: ryan and emily

Ryan and Emily have a beautiful story of welcoming their daughter by adoption. When they started with Christian Adoption Consultants, they didn't know what was in store for them. I love how Emily has recounts their adoption, which has really become a love story...

I have been saying “I need to write this down before I forget,” for the last few days. So, here I sit, with a beautiful newborn baby girl snoozing on my lap, and tears of joy running down my cheeks.  Daily, I look at her and think, “she’s really here!”  


On Tuesday morning, August 11th we heard about a a baby girl due on Aug 20.  I called the agency right away to let them know we were interested.  

After saying, “yes” to situations through our fantastic adoption consultant, Susan, for over 9 months, we finally got our yes. During that wait, I prayed for more expectant moms and babes that I kept track of. During that wait, although hard at times, I trusted that God’s timing would be better than ours. Ainsley (our oldest daughter) and I would pray nightly, for the little one we’d someday adopt. And, actually, God had been working on my heart, for many years. For as long as I can remember, I’ve desired to be a wife and mom. I remember my first interview as a preschool teacher...they asked about my dream job, and even back then, it involved being a mother to those that needed one. After we had our 4th biological child, this desire became stronger. And shortly after the loss of our daughter, Tessa, God spoke to my heart and assured me that He had her...and there was someone else that would need me as a mommy on this earth. God gave me strength for each of those hard days, and hope for tomorrow. So, daily, we hoped for the little one that God would give us.  

Ryan and Emily had just over a week to prep for their sweet baby girl. And when the call finally came that their expectant mother was in labor, it was a race to get there! Frantic packing, rental cars, booked flights, and a sleepless night all to get to her as soon as possible. On their plane waiting for take off, Emily received the first glimpse of their daughter from a texted picture of a beautiful, screaming, brown-haired baby girl.  While Ryan finally had a chance to grab a quick nap on the flight, Emily spent the time studying those pictures, zooming in on all the intricate details of the beautiful girl God had created to be a part of their family. As soon as they landed, a caseworker for the agency was there to help escort them directly to the hospital…

At the hospital, she led us into the nursery and I remember looking around at the bassinets. The nurses showed us where our baby girl was and we studied her sweet features and snuggled her. I told her about her two mommies that love her. Over the next few days, I loved her and at the same time, guarded my heart a little as I knew she wasn’t ours yet.  


And then her birth mom, "J," wanted to see her again (she had spent a little time with her before we got there). She didn’t want to meet us yet at this point, so we left to allow her that time and space. During this time, I began to get nervous, wondering if J would ask a family member who was also at the hospital to raise this beautiful baby girl we’d spent the day loving. At the hotel, I broke down into tears. I once again had to give this precious little girl and the whole situation back over to God. I came to the realization that I wanted the best for this baby. Deep down, yes, I wanted to be her mommy. But with God’s strength, I wanted what was best for her and for us. It reminded me of the Bible Story where the two women both say they are the mother of the baby. To find out who the mother is, they say they are going to cut the baby in half and the mother of the baby says, “You take her. I don’t want anything to happen to her.” And that’s how they knew she was the mother. I felt that love for Mischa…that I loved her so much that I wanted the best for her, even if it wasn’t with us. And yet, I was begging God that I’d get to be her mommy. All the while, thinking of J and her love for the baby too and how hard this must be for her.  In the end, it was the same selfless love of the mother in that Bible Story that flowed from J as she handed Mischa over to us, giving us the privilege and honor of being her parents.  

The next morning was the day the adoption papers were signed and Ryan and Emily had a chance to finally meet their birth mother.


I was so thankful for this opportunity to meet her. We walked into the room, I asked her if I could give her a hug, and we hugged and cried for a long time. I remember the feeling of her not letting go of the hug. She handed the baby to me and said, “she’s yours now.” We were able to ask her a few questions and she told us “Just love her. Give her what I can’t.” How hard and brave to admit. J wanted us in there for the signing of the papers. As I held Mischa, I was hoping she wouldn’t cry through the whole signing. She even smiled once though. I was thinking, “Sweet baby…this is going to be one of the hardest things in your life, and also one of the greatest.” It’s a loss at the beginning of life for her, and at the same time, although J’s love for her was evident, she also knew she couldn’t raise her. I have only good things to say about J and her love for Mischa.  

In that moment Mischa was ours to love, cherish, and adore, for years to come. But at the heart of it all, she is God’s. And I knew there was another mom grieving, and that was hard. So, whenever I think of her, I pray. Really, there are many mother figures in Mischa’s life...from J and I, to grandmas and aunties, to good friends, she is loved by many. I get the privilege of having her call me mom and I pray that she will feel loved by all these women. 



There were so many ways we saw God at work and when I think of Mischa’s story, I think of how it’s really God’s story.  Like a song that’s on the radio, “to tell of her story, is to tell of Him.” I am so grateful that we get to be a part of it. We gave J a necklace with two interlocking circle charms and it said "Forever linked. Forever loved." Our lives are forever linked with J’s, and Mischa is forever loved by all of us.  

Special thanks to Kyla Briney Photography for these beautiful pictures.


Monday, October 12, 2015

fall CAC discount!


I'm pleased to announce that Christian Adoption Consultants is offering a 10% discount on all of our full service domestic consulting packages. Any new families who sign on will receive 10% off the full service package. (This discount does not apply to the Do It Yourself Program and may not be combined with any other discounts). We only offer discounts like this only a few times a year - don't miss out!


This discount is available today (October 13th) through Friday (October 16th).

I'm eager to help you walk through the entire adoption process! For a glimpse of other family's stories who took the step to adopt, click here.


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.


Friday, October 9, 2015

adoption story: ryan and shawna

Ryan and Shawna have a beautiful love story. They actually met in grade school but didn't reconnect and begin dating until they were adults. One thing they knew from the start: they wanted to have a home filled with little feet and lots of love and laughter. With adoption already being a part of the fabric of their extended family, they knew opening their home to a little one this way was a perfect fit.


And they were all in from the start. They actually opened their home as foster parents and chose to move forward with Christian Adoption Consultants as well. 


In the last year their sweet family has grown by a beautiful foster daughter and a sweet adopted son.


The last year has been full of paperwork. Full of waiting. Full of tears. Full of prayers.


And now their home is full of love. Full of little feet. And full of laughter at all God has done and how much things can change in a matter of months.


A special thanks to M2 Photography for the adorable pictures.


Thursday, October 8, 2015

adoption story: jeff and debb

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

adoption story: will and kennerly

Will and Kennerly's adoption story didn't end the way they thought it would. In fact, it ended up literally half a world away from where they anticipated. When they called Christian Adoption Consultants last fall they had already been through a lot.

After struggling with infertility and experiencing a miscarriage, God blessed us with two beautiful and healthy biological children. When our daughter turned one and we started to think about growing our family, we seriously began to talk and pray about adoption. It really just started as a simple thought: “We desire to have more children. God has already blessed us with our two loves. Why not give a child who needs a family a family?” Simple, right? (I’m shaking my head at my na├»ve former self right now.) But really above all else, we truly felt like God was, and still is, calling us to adopt.  James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” This is a call for all of God’s people. It doesn’t look like adoption for all of us, but for my family it does.

In 2014, Will and Kennerly received a referral for a beautiful four month old boy in Ethiopia. But shortly after they eagerly said, "Yes! We will be his mommy and daddy!" things started to fall apart. The agency abruptly shut down and when the Ethiopian government finally agreed to move forward, the orphanage director refused to work with the new agency. After nine long months of fighting, writing letters to members of Congress, reaching out to influential Ethiopian figures, and falling to their knees in prayer – it came to an end. Noah disappeared from the orphanage and Will and Kennerly haven’t been able to locate him since.  "Noah will always be a part of our lives. He will always be in our hearts. And we are committed to praying for him, wherever he is, for the rest of our lives." 

Kennerly shared last winter: I will admit, there have been times this past year where I have thought, “I can’t do this again. I’m done. There is too much at stake, too much to lose. It’s too risky. I’m done with adoption.” But we feel this urging to press forward, to keep on going. We really truly have a desire to grow our family through adoption and God has given us a great peace about moving forward. I have been claiming this verse for some time now, “Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” Isaiah 30:18 We don’t know the ending to the story that God is writing in our lives, but He does. All we know is that we are being obedient to a call and trusting that He will use whatever He brings our way for our good and His glory.

We have prayed for so long to see redemption in our adoption journey. I remember sitting at the kitchen table with my husband shortly after everything with Noah’s case began to fall apart, tears streaming down my face, and saying, “I just want God to redeem this.” And my wise husband said, “He will. We know He will. It just might not be on this side of Heaven.” Well, our loving and gracious Heavenly Father has redeemed our story. Not because we deserve it, but because He is faithful and He saw fit to bless us in this way. He called us to adopt and allowed us to walk a painful road, but He held us the whole time. He used the trials to refine us and transform us and prepare us to the better parents for our children. He divinely orchestrated events to connect us with a beautiful, selfless, and brave expectant mother who would make an incredibly difficult decision out of her fierce love for her unborn son. And because we have seen redemption in our story, we have confidence that God will redeem Noah’s story too. He hears our prayers.
One thing that the Lord has taught me through all of this is that adoption is NOT about me. It is not about my desires and wants. It is certainly not about being comfortable. It is about so much more. It is about the child. It is about the expectant mother. The birth parents. It is about lives coming together and being bonded in such a unique and special way. It is beautiful and tragic. It is beauty from ashes. Most of all, it is about Him. We give God ALL the glory.
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21
I would like to introduce our SON, Isaac Connor! Born August 5, 2015 in Florida and home with us forever on August 19th, 2015. His birth mother is so very dear to us and we could never thank her enough for her brave decision. She has given us the most precious gift. We are thrilled to have an open adoption and keep up with her, not just for us and for her, but for Isaac as well. He will always know who she is and know of her great love for him. This little boy has been prayed for and is loved by many!

In honor of Isaac’s amazing birth mother – a woman who will always be a special part of our lives. I took this photo and many more the day Isaac was discharged from the hospital. We will always treasure them.
A child born to another woman calls me Mommy. The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege is not lost on me.  ~  Jody Landers

isaac_web-1

You can read more of Will and Kennerly's story on her photography blog, Kennerly Jordon Photography. Beautiful photos by Lorien Owens


Friday, October 2, 2015

open adoption: a story of faith, trust, and love

Yesterday I introduced you to Alex and Amy and shared how they were chosen by a brave woman to parent her son. Those next six weeks were filled not only with prepping a nursery, but more importantly with building a relationship with their birth mother. Before the birth, Alex and Amy flew out to meet her and begin their lifetime relationship sharing the important title of parents to the son they share.

I have been in awe of Alex and Amy and the genuine care, compassion, and friendship they have developed with their birth mother, Mason. The connection Amy felt immediately with her when reading her story has only grown. My phone is full of texts from Amy updating me on their adoption, asking for prayers for Mason, and telling me how amazed they are of her bravery, her perseverance, and her obvious love for her son.

I received this text from Amy over the summer: ...Susan, this girl. We cried together and I did my best to comfort her and she thanked me over and over. And I told her "No, thank you. Thank you for coming into our lives." We talked about how we are family now and that we both will need to rely on each other a lot through all of this. Susan, we seriously underestimated the amount of love we'd have for her. It's just so hard to navigate these really hard parts. It's so scary for all of us. And so beautiful for all of us too.

And because of this, because of Mason's selfless love for her son, together these two families welcomed their son into the world just a few weeks later. They have laughed together while talking about baby names, cried happy and sad tears together at the bittersweetness of adoption, and celebrated the goodness of God in knitting their hearts into a family.



In light of this, Amy and her birth mother Mason share more about the relationship they share and their open adoption...

It has been on my heart lately to share our experience and our journey so far with open adoption. Granted, we haven't been doing this long...but our experience has been one full of beauty. I think it's crucial for people to know that while open adoption is not for everyone, it doesn't make it something to be feared. Often times open adoption is filled with beauty. It teaches you a lot about extending grace and allowing yourself grace and it also taught us that we had to have an immense amount of faith to make this work.

For Alex and I we craved an open adoption. We have several friends with open adoptions and we desired to have that kind of relationship as well. I remember when we were in our season of wait; I would often ask one of those friends "What if I never find a birth mother who I just connect with? What if we never have that relationship I so badly desire?" Little did I realize then...but God heard the desires of my heart and he started weaving that into our family's story.

When our son's birth mother, Mason chose us to be Barrett's forever family it was like all of my prayers had been answered about the woman I would share motherhood with. We connected immediately. I knew from the very beginning that we would have something so special and that we would be connected on a level that I never knew existed.

Now, I know that open adoption isn't for everyone. Often times it just isn't meant to work that way...and thats ok! But, if you are desiring or even considering an open adoption...my advice to you is to trust, love and be honest in every situation. Alex and I learned quickly that we had to trust Mason, we had to love her unconditionally, and that we would have to be honest in what we could give of ourselves and what we needed from her as well. This healthy communication allowed us to set up really healthy boundaries with each other. It allowed us to be able to be much more open with each other than we discussed it would be in the beginning.

I know that so many times we get to hear the adoptive parent's side of open adoption. But, what about the birth family's side? Don't we all just crave an understanding of that perspective as well? Well, our son's sweet birth mother offered to share her words with us.

My favorite part about our relationship is so simple: it's just the fact that we even have one! This hasn't been an easy event in my life by any means...but by building the relationship with Alex and Amy before Barrett was even born, and growing from that even further when we spent days in the hospital together for his birth, and even leading up to this very day, is something that I'm so glad we all put the effort into and I cherish it.  
I can feel the love that Alex and Amy have for myself, for my older son and for B. Having an open adoption has been one of my biggest priorities from the very beginning. Luckily, it has grown to be even more open than we all originally agreed upon. I know that even though I feel sad or lonely sometimes, all I have to do is text them and I can see him again. I was even able to witness his first time rolling over. I will always consider myself very lucky for that. I take comfort in knowing I will get to see things like that even if I'm not physically there. In my opinion, they key to having a successful open relationship is honesty. I even mentioned to Alex and Amy that one thing I loved about them before I chose them was that they were honest with me. I had really wanted to be able to have visits every year. They both explained that while they would love that as well, it wasn't something they could promise doing. So, we made a promise to say that we would always TRY to see each other at least once a year. They even have offered for me to come and visit them if they can't make it to me! Does it make me sad that there is a chance I may not get to see him in person one year? No, because we have talked so much about other options and I know that I will still get to see him in pictures of through video. 
I was also always honest about my past and because of that, we know it will help us to be prepared for the future.  
They say every day gets a little easier than the last. It's so true. Both Amy and Alex have helped me to feel like I can breathe again. They remind me that it's all going to be ok. They are my family and Amy and I have gotten so close...close enough that I consider her to be like a sister to me.  
They remind me that I can have comfort in my decision and I am so so grateful I was given you to parent my sweet Barrett.   
- Mason
Y'all this girl is our hero. She is more than our son's birth mother. She is our family. Each day we are so thankful God has chosen us to walk this path. We are so grateful He picked us to be Barrett's mommy and daddy.

To our sweet Barrett Alexander Mason, you are loved beyond measure sweet boy. Never forget that.

xo
Amy


And Mason, I would love to speak for a whole tribe of us as well. From the dear friends and family of Alex and Amy, from the adoption community, and now from a slew of people who might only know your face from this blog and this story, you're our hero too. Your courageous love for your son, the selfless way you have shared your title as Mother with another woman, and the legacy you've begun for your son is nothing short of amazing. 


For more of Alex and Amy's journey, follow their blog at Glimpses of Hope.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

adoption story: alex and amy

There are some stories that are hard to put into words. All of the heartache, all of the waiting, all of the beauty, all of the love... How do you sum it all up or even attempt to write it out? This will by my poor attempt to capture just a few of the dozens of miracles God did in creating their family of three...


I met Alex and Amy over coffee last summer. Amy had worked with my husband and they were just starting to think that adoption might be the route to take to grow their family after struggling with the heartache of infertility. I immediately fell in love with their big hearts and noted their intense desire to follow God's leading for their family.

Later that fall I was thrilled they started with Christian Adoption Consultants and I had a chance to walk with them through their journey. And it was full. They started by moving out of state, selling a home and buying a new home. Beginning new jobs and working to get through their home study. While they were busy with that I worked on creating their profile. In fact, the months consumed with just trying to get through the home study with all of the changes and paperwork was challenging. Roadblocks and barriers kept coming up but Alex and Amy were determined. When their dining room table was full of stacks of paperwork to complete, we talked about how it would be worth it and the timing would someday make sense.

By the end of May their home study was finally complete and I sent Alex and Amy a few situations. They were eager to begin to have their profile presented to expectant mothers, but they were still in the midst of making sure their finances were in order. Just five days after being home study approved, they heard about a young woman they felt an immediate connection to. They heard about her life and her desire to have an open adoption. But their hearts fell when the timing didn't seem to match what they were prepared for; they had just four days to make sure all was in order. 

I love how Amy tells the story of the next few days...

As I began to read it my heart began to beat quickly. My nerves were on high alert. I knew. I knew this was a situation worth presenting to. I immediately called my husband and he too had the same exact feeling. We couldn't really pinpoint why our hearts had such a desire to present to this situation. There were many things that stood out that made us feel a connection. Yet, the feeling was so much more than a connection to the words on this email. 

It was like God was directly saying to both of us "Go for this one!"

Unfortunately though, the cost was more than we had available...and the money was due upon matching and signing a contract. We knew that it wasn't fair for us to present if we didn't have the funds in hand. If we had been picked by this woman, we would hate to have to say "no." We couldn't do that to her. We couldn't do that to ourselves. So, we put sending our home study and profile to the agency on hold. We spoke to our consultant and asked for prayer in these next few days. 

We had 4 days to make a decision. We had 4 days to come up with the funds that weren't fully there for us. 

It would be impossible.

Surely, we misunderstood God's message to our hearts. Surely, we weren't meant to present to this woman because we didn't have our funds ready. Surely, this child was meant for a different family. 

While our logical side told us that it was impossible; the rest of the weekend our hearts continued to tell us it was still worth trying for.

Monday came and we made some phone calls. We applied for an adoption loan, gathered all of our documents and we waited. Convincing ourselves that there was no way this was going to get approved. I had just quit my job as a social worker so that I could stay home with our child when the time came. I had just started watching two little kiddos for this family and so I didn't have many pay stubs. Also, this was so very last minute that there was no way that we could get an approval by the time we needed. it. 

Monday afternoon we received a call telling us "I'm sorry, we just don't have enough documentation to approve this loan. Maybe if you try sending these documents instead." So, our worried hearts did just that. 

Monday evening we received another call. This time, to hear the words "I'm sorry, we just can't approve this loan for you guys right now on your own until Amy has been working for the family for a longer period of time. We know you guys can afford the payments. We just can't make it work at this time." Our hearts sank. We had lost out yet again. And, only because of money. 

Tuesday afternoon came...Our phones rang and it was our lender. She said, "Find someone to co-sign for you. Then, we will approve it and you can present to this mother." Suddenly, our hearts were filled with hope again and we could feel God moving these mountains for us. 

We got our co-signer. We heard that we were approved

We submitted our home study, payments were wired and our profile was sent just a few hours before the deadline that it was all due. (Actually, Susan was worried we may have missed it even!)

The next day we got a phone call that they had received our things and would be taking them to the mother that day and that we would hear back within a week or so. 

We knew this wait would feel like a lifetime. 

Less than 24 hours later; at 8:00am on a Thursday morning we received the call

We heard the words "She chose you."

God had worked in our hearts when we read her story. God had moved mountains when we fell short financially. God had worked in this expectant mothers heart. God brought us all together, and we know its for such a specific reason. 

God's timing is amazing. The way God works is amazing. He may give us a scare now and then but if we continue to trust in Him and let Him continue to guide us along the path to our son we know that it will all be perfect. 

I will never tire of remembering those days leading up to our "yes." I will never tire of telling this story. I will never forget the intricate details that had to be knitted together to bring us to this mother and this baby. 

So, if you're in 'the wait' remember to stay hopeful and remember that God is writing your story too. All of the intricate details are being worked out in His perfect timing. 

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Looking back - this is just one of the ways I've stood with Alex and Amy in awe of God. His perfect timing. His beautiful sovereignty. And his crazy provision. 


This was just the beginning of the story that unfolded in beautiful and miraculous ways over the next few months. Check this post for more on their sweet son's arrival and the relationship they have with his birthmother, Mason. You'll even get a chance to hear directly from Mason about her journey and her thoughts on adoption.

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