Monday, June 27, 2016

losing their childhood

It's been awhile since I've shared a more personal post here. Much of it has to do with so many beautiful adoption stories to share of my adoptive families. And if I'm honest, some of it is because it's hard to put into words what's been happening in our family. And hard to put in such a public space. But I've learned these last few years that transparency has been freeing and healing for our family and for my heart. And if I boil it down, the real goal of this blog is to tell stories of God's goodness, for adoptive families and my own.


It's no secret our family has been through a lot. Just click on the marriage tab on the blog and you'll get a glimpse into our story. One of the hardest things about going through a crisis as a family is watching our kids lose some of their childhood. They've had to deal with hard things, lost some innocence, had to deal with loss, and experienced things no one would choose for their children. 

The conversations we've had to have with them are hard enough to have with adult or even teenage children. But having them in grade school has been challenging. We've begged God for wisdom, and received godly counsel. We've fumbled through hundreds of questions that make you catch your breath and say a quick prayer asking for divine insight and direction before answering. And shepherding little hearts when you have a broken heart yourself is hard and exhausting.

As a mother, if I'm honest, it's been heartbreaking. Jamy and I have recently been grieving the loss of some of our kid's childhood in the midst of all of this. It's easy to think we've failed as parents. That our sin and brokenness has ruined them for life.

But this is not the whole story. This hasn't been all that's included in loss.


My kids are learning and experiencing the gospel in real and personal ways. When we talk about God's redemptive power, we note ways he has redeemed our family. When we talk about how God is our refuge, we can list ways we've run to him and ways he's cared for us. When we talk about miracles, we can point to amazing events in our family.

Gathered around the dinner table, we can talk and laugh and remember all of the ways God has cared for us. Huddled over them tucked in their beds we can whisper the promises again that He's given us. Crying on the couch we can cry out to God together asking Him to continue to be near.

Just last weekend for Father's Day, Jamy sat the family down and acknowledged the reality that this side of Heaven, all celebrations are tinged with some sort of grief. We talked about our past year and he gave us all gifts; leather cords to remind us how strong our family can be together with God's help (A cord of three stands is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12). We've learned that a good father points to an even better one. That our parenting isn't amazing because of what we do, but directs them to their desperate need for a Savior.


We've been knit together as a family. Going though hard things together has bonded us in incredible ways. Our kids come to us with questions, knowing they can ask anything and we'll always have an honest (and age-appropriate) answer. We often talk about fears and faith. We talk through hard things. And they are learning that we are a team; always working together for the good of our family.

My prayer is that when they look back at this season in their young lives, they can pinpoint the space when their faith became their own, they experienced Jesus in a real and personal way, and they grew to understand the gospel more fully. And looking back over these last several years and thinking about what I really want for my children, I realize my deepest desires are actually being met. Both Isabelle and Jackson came to trust Jesus during this time. 

Would I have ever chosen this for my kids? Never. Was it God's plan for sin and brokenness to rock our family? I don't think so. But in his sovereignty, he has worked it all for our good and His glory, even for Isabelle and Jackson.

Maybe your story is a bit like ours. Your family has experienced some kind of loss and walked through things you would have never chosen if you could have written it yourself. When I think of the times of the deepest change in my life, when I learned to trust Jesus even more, it's aways during seasons of suffering and hardship. At the end of the day, I can rest in the truth that God has been sovereign over our suffering; even our kid's.

So my kids have lost some of their childhood. But they've gained a personal and deep knowledge of a God who loves them. A Rescuer who saves them. A Redeemer who restores them. A Heavenly Father who never leaves them. 



Tuesday, June 21, 2016

must have baby items for adoptive families

Really this blog could easily be called "Must Have Baby Items for Parents," but I wanted to compile a list of favorite baby supplies from adoptive families. Any parents bringing home a new baby love to hear from others what worked for them and what they couldn't live without.

From my adoptive families, here's a list of some of their favs:


Feeding




A lot of parents were in agreement that these bottles were some of the best out there. Designed specifically to reduce feeding problems like gassiness and colic, my families agreed that these bottles led to some happy feeding.


Sara was thankful they were introduced to this bottle early on. "This bottle keeps the pre-measured formula on the bottom and the water on the top. We'd fill these before we went to bed and keep one on my night stand and one on my husbands. Then, when little E would wake up, we could just push the button on the bottom of the bottle, shake up the formula and feed. We didn't have to go downstairs, measure or pour, nor did we have to turn on the lights! We had 2 4oz ones, and they worked great for the diaper bag too." Sara also noted the Dr. Brown's Formula Pitcher allowed them to prep several bottles at once.



This fancy machine sterilizes baby's bottles in 8 minutes and dries them in your choices of 30, 45, or 60 minute cycles.. Brand new adoptive mama, Kristen said, "We have found the Baby Brezza sterilizer to be a lifesaver. We thoroughly rinse our bottles and just pop them in the sterilizer and they are sterilized and DRIED in 45 minutes. Saves us so much time and headaches and sink space."





Katie, two time adoptive mama, shared this is one of her secrets: diapers and wipes delivered to her door. "No having to run out in the middle of the night for diapers and wipes! We've had very little diaper rash with either of our littles, and I think the diaper choice was one reason why!"



Sleeping



These blankets should be at the top of every mama's wish list. Soft, versatile, and coming in adorable prints, Shelley notes they are worth every penny. Elyse used these blankets for all of her three boys. "We love he Aden and Anais Muslin Blankets. We have a different print for each child. They are great for swaddling and can be used as a comfort item as the baby get older. I also love them because they are light weight and do a great job at blocking sunlight when we are outside."



This was a huge favorite with lots of adoptive moms. It's especially great for travel and perfect to have in the hotel if you're waiting out approval to head home after the baby is born. Joy shared "The Rock 'n Play was a life saver for her "bed" while away from home. She slept in it for a few months after we got home."  Colleen had the same thoughts: "The newborn rock and play sleeper was perfect for travel. Easy to fold and carry. We loved it!' 

*Make sure to get the newest model that locks into place for stationary use.


This sound machine is a stable for a lot of adoptive families in the nursery. It creates the sound of soothing natural air to help babies fall and stay asleep. One mom noted it helped baby sleep while the older kids create a racket!






Corey, an adoptive mama of twins who just welcomed baby number three says "These swaddles were a life saver with the twins. They loved being swaddled up tight like little burritos." Sara commented that these helped with their son's transition to the crib.  Lindsey also likes SwaddleMe's Sleep Sacks. "It zips top to bottom for easy diaper changes and is available in muslin for hot Texas nights."



Lesley, new mama to twin boys said this was a lifesaver!  "I had to hunt these down and the boys and I finally got some sleep with these (times two!)"



Baby Wearing

*Baby wraps are personally one of my favorite baby items for adoptive families because they do so much to promote bonding and attachment.





Many mamas noted these their all time favorite carriers for their littles. Shelley shared, "Solly Baby wrap has been a life saver with three under three!" I love the design choices (even ones for children for their dolls!) and the price point is great for a baby wrap.



Beth, a foster mama, shared how well this worked for her: "This soothe shirt is amazing! Looks like a cute tank top but has a pouch to easily slip your baby into without the hassle of a wrap. It is just tight enough to snuggle your baby perfectly. At first it fit a little tight but after a few wears it stretched out to be perfectly comfortable. I loved it for my newborn I was taking care of and I was so sad when he grew out of it. I literally wore it every day and I never had a problem with him slipping down." Another perk? A portion of all sales go to mother's in Africa.



Nursery



Corey said, "We love our wubbanub pacis. LG can grab and snuggle them, and if it drops, there's more to catch. Harder to lose, too."

Ruthie shared "The best baby product ever...the Boppy lounger! I get it for all my new mama friends now. It's the perfect little pod to lay baby in for the first three months and set it on the bed, table, ground, couch." Shelley, mama to three under three, agreed. "The Boppy Company Newborn lounger is amazing (I'm also a big fan of the original Boppy pillow, but recently discovered the lounger and love it)!" Another favorite was the Galt Toys Playnest.


Lots of parents noted this in their "must have" list. Melissa is balancing her newly adopted daughter and their six older children and found her Pack 'n Play to be a lifesaver. "My mom and Grandma went in on this together for us, after I debated them about not needing it! Turns out it's my go to to. I use the changing table part all day long, and the bouncer seat turned into a HUGE life saver as it was the only place little girl would sleep for the first couple months. She plays in the bassinet part now and the bouncer seat is still used sometimes at night, but we are transitioning her to her bed now."

Another favorite play yard and portable crib is the Nuna Sena. Amy notes "it's truly as easy to work and take along as it claims to be! It's AMAZING!"



Sara shared "We didn't think we'd use a video monitor, but we love it. We have the Summer Infant In View Digital Video Monitor. (We also added a noise machine and room darkening curtains.) These have been some of our favorite things to help establish a great sleep routine."



Traveling

If adopting out of state, adoptive families often need to wait it out in a hotel for a week or two while waiting for clearance to come home. In addition to the Rock n' Play noted above (perfect for a portable crib while traveling), here's a few other favorite things.





Although this isn't a baby item, this is a great resource for adoptive families, allowing you to rent a house for half the price of a hotel. Sara noted, "The house was amazing, and bringing help was a life saver."





Similar to VRBO, this site allows you to book a home from a local host. Kate and her family used this service when their son was born and it was a huge blessing. "We knew Brendan was going to have a long NICU stay, and we really didn't want to live in a hotel for a month. We used airbnb. It saved our sanity! We brought my mom with us on our trip to help with our girls, and I could not imagine life cramped in two tiny hotel rooms. We rented a 3 bedroom house for less than a hotel. We were able to cook our own food, and basically live life as normally as possible. It was a LONG three weeks, and renting the house was one of the best decisions we made. Totally worth it."


So there you have it. A good list to get your baby registry and wish list started. Anything you would add to the list that you can't live without? Add it to the comments and share!


Friday, June 17, 2016

adoption through the eyes of fathers

Father's Day is just around the corner and I've been struck all week with the impact adoption has had on the fathers I've been honored to walk with. I wanted to celebrate by sharing thoughts about fatherhood and adoption directly from four fathers and give you a glimpse into their father's heart.



Being a dad has made me appreciate what's really important in life. It has taught me that the little things are actually big things, like hugs and smiles and hearing the words, "Love you," and "Dadda" as well as the laughs and giggles. The fact that three lives are molded by my example is an honor and one I am grateful for. - Chris


Being a dad gives me so much joy. When my wife and I had our daughter it was the most amazing feeling to hold our baby girl for the first time. Even with being adopted myself I still wondered if I would feel differently about my adopted child...as opposed to our biological child. From the second I held Davis it has always been very clear that I feel the same about him as I do our daughter. He has been the most amazing blessing and fits completely perfectly into our family. The love and pride I feel from being a dad to Rylee and Davis is the best. The bond I feel with both of them is like nothing I could have imagined! - Ryan


I think my perspective of parental unconditional love has changed since becoming a father myself. I know my parents love me unconditionally but being on the other side of that as a dad makes me appreciate it more. I also take less for granted. I try to be in the present moment all the time now because it goes so fast. I've learned to appreciate the "small" things more. I love everything about being a dad even changing diapers, picking up messes and making sacrifices. My favorite part of being a dad is watching Jonah learn new things and experience the world around him. A child's development physically, intellectually and emotionally is really fascinating to me. Something I didn't expect from adoption is how much love I would have for our child's birth family. This is my second Father's Day, but it seems to mean even more than last year. I had only been a dad for about a month and it was a surreal time with Jonah's birth, placement, travel, etc. I was excited to finally have the title but had no idea what i was doing. Now that I've been a dad for over a year it feels more real. Jonah calls me "dada" and that is something I'll never get tired of hearing. - Tyler



Adoption definitely changed me in the sense that I'm so much more compassionate and open to loving unconditionally in ways I didn't know I could! Adoption has taught me to put all of my trust in God even when things seem so uncertain, He writes the best stories for families. My favorite thing about being a parent is getting to watch our son grow, learn and explore. I appreciate little life moments because those little things make for a lot of big memories, that I cherish. I feel very honored that God chose me to be his father, and found me worthy to guide, lead, and love him through this life. - Alex


Interested in changing your life through adoption? Our Father's Day Discount runs through today!


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

adoption story: kevin and crystal

Does God really have a plan? 


That was the question Kevin and Crystal asked themselves almost daily on their journey to become a family. Their decision to add children started over six years ago when they became foster parents. They also decided to pursue adoption; through the foster care system and through domestic infant adoption with the help of Christian Adoption Consultants.

But that question hung in the air: Does God really have a plan?

We were foster parents for over 6 years. God blessed us with three boys, two we adopted after 774 days in foster care. They were ours forever to love on. 


Yet in our hearts we had prayed since getting married in 2003 for a little girl. I’ve always wanted a girl to raise as a Godly princess, whose heart would seek Him, be a girlie girl in a tutu with rain boots ready to get muddy when given the opportunity. We had seen friends adopt domestically but the costs scared us away many times.  

God was big in our lives but not with our finances; it was the one thing we were willing to give to others but not to our prayer we had begged God to answer. Kevin and I filled the forms and became home study approved, and yet every fundraiser fell through, our agency fell through, and we got many “not chosen” emails. God wasn’t in it. Many nights we would sit in our room and cry out to God to take the desire away to have a princess. 

However, I kept the little girl shoes on my dresser asking for them to be filled. Few weeks passed as it all fell through and our eight year old son asked us to foster again. Within weeks we were approved for a local agency. Through this we asked God to use our story of fostering to impact our community. Almost a year ago we got a call for a GIRL! A beautiful spunky four year old girl who needed a forever family. 



We said yes. God heard our yes and said I’m not done yet! 

Susan was amazing and patient with us as we went back and forth with plans and questions. This time we said we are ALL in. Our finances, faith and all. We got an email of a case that would make you want to run far away. So many unknowns…but we knew this was it! 

That email came mid-May. Kevin and Crystal were chosen and just two weeks later met their daughter and her amazing birth mother.

I could share a ton on our last week of prepping, waiting on the call to fly out, being on the road within an hour, running through the airport, and getting to the hospital to our daughter and her birth mom. I really wanted to know our birth mom. I thought I knew exactly how I would feel, what I would think and say, yet it happened so fast. All I could do is love. She loved this baby girl just as much as I did.


Kevin and Crystal spent those days in the hospital with their daughter and her birth mother, soaking up every moment they could with this woman who had overcome so much to give birth to the daughter they shared. 


When we said goodbye to her, we gave her a hug and a high five as she walked out telling her she’s got this; she can make a change in her life and we will be cheering her on through it!

We named our daughter Eliana which means God heard. We couldn't think of a more perfect name.
God not only answered our prayer but doubled it with our two girls!

Six years ago Kevin and Crystal had a family of two. This year they will celebrate as a family of seven!

God had a plan the whole time...



Saturday, June 11, 2016

father's day CAC discount

As Father's Day approaches, I can't help but think of how the Lord is bringing families together everyday through adoption. 



I am so grateful to get to be a small part of building families through adoption, to see children placed with their forever moms and forever dads. At Christian Adoption Consultants, we are inspired by the message in the New Testament that states we are adopted into God's family as believers.  That we are his children, and he is our Abba Father.

God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who He is, and we know who we are: Father and children. Romans 8:15 (MSG)



In honor of all of our CAC dads, we are offering one of our rare specials to help make the cost of adoption a bit more attainable. We are happy to be sharing 10% off all of our top packages, from June 13-17th.  (Special note: this does not apply to our DIY package).

If adoption has been on your heart, and you aren't sure where to begin, I would love to chat with you more! For a glimpse of other family's stories and fathers 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.






Tuesday, June 7, 2016

adoption story: wes and kim

Wes and Kim already knew the beauty of adoption when they started with Christian Adoption Consultants last summer. Their son, Gus, came to them through adoption and they decided they were ready to start the process for a second time. Gus' adoption was a fast-paced whirlwind. So when this adoption held unfamiliar waiting, Kim and I ended up chatting a lot about trusting God's timing. The day after Wes and Kim's daughter was born, I received this beautiful note:

I can never say thank you enough for everything. When we had been shown to fourteen expectant moms and all "no's," I remember you saying we can't think about all the risks but think about what if. When the situations were coming in with such high at risks or undisclosed birthfather and this and that, I seriously never thought we would add to our family. However this was the perfect one for us.


"R" is a wonder and a brave birthmom. So young but has many goals in life and we couldn't be more proud of her. We were able to spend the afternoon with her and her mom yesterday and let me say, I was scared. All I kept thinking is they wouldn't like us or we would do something they wouldn't do and change her mind. But it was wonderful and I couldn't have been more sure this was the right baby for us. The connection we have with R her mom is very good. Even with the signing of papers pushed back three times due to different reasons, I knew after spending an hour with birthmom it was all ok.

Our hearts are overflowing with love for Grace but breaking for the birth family. I know they are hurting... We will keep praying for her peace and comfort as we have a new friendship and love for someone just met.

Again, we can't ever say thank you enough for the support and prayers when we really thought this was all impossible.

God bless and thank you.

Love,

Kim, Wes, Gus, and Grace


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