Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Adoption Story: Travis and Angela

I met with Travis and Angela the day before Valentine's Day this year. The sweetest couple with huge hearts and so eager to add a little one to their family. We chatted that day over coffee about their thoughts and fears and dreams of adoption. We talked about birth parents and the fears of open adoption. Their fears that maybe adoption might not happen. Their fears about the wait and the finances. It was just a few weeks later they decided to put their fears aside and start the process, trusting that God was in charge of it all. By the end of May they were home study ready and I began sending them situations: expectant moms planning to make an adoption plan for their babies.

And then, one day in September, I texted Angela. "I just sent you a situation - I think it might be a great fit." It turns out it was the perfect fit...just a few days later this picture was taken with their son.

My husband and I had always talked about the potential of adoption, but like many others, we intended to adopt after having biological children. As it became obvious that having biological children was not going to happen, we turned our sights solely on adoption. As we started researching and determining the first steps in beginning our adoption journey, we were led to Susan.  A friend of mine knew a couple who had adopted successfully through the Christian Adoption Consultants and so I started reading the blogs and talking to Susan. Reading the adoption stories gave me encouragement, yet we always knew in the back of our mind that we may never successfully adopt.  We put it all into God's hands. After suffering some loss in my husband's family, we were strong in our faith but it definitely made it stronger. We decided to make a drive to Kansas City to meet Susan face to face as we determined how to proceed. There were so many questions in our mind and meeting Susan face to face put us so much at ease. We are so grateful for Susan, her patience, knowledge, and the faith of the CAC was exactly what we needed.   We were very much on the fence of an open adoption at first but quickly realized all of the benefits of an open adoption. Our whirlwind journey bringing our precious son home just emphasizes the pure joy of open adoption. God helped teach us patience and to remember that he is paving our story in a perfect way. A bible passage we kept going back to in the process was Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." We trust in the Lord with all our heart and give thanks for the many blessings in our life.

We found out one week prior to leaving for Florida that we were likely matched. We talked to our birth mom 4 days later and confirmed a match. She was due for C-section just one week later!  YIKES!!!  We had very little baby supplies. We had the basics that Susan suggested. We left that next Monday to drive to Florida. On Wednesday, we were able to meet our birth mom and take her out for dinner.  After dinner, we walked on the beach and just really got to know each other better. She invited us to be at the hospital with her as she had the C-section. We didn't know if both my husband and I would be able to go into the operating room. On that Thursday, the C-section was delayed. We all spent the entire day together, talking and getting to know each other more. I had brought our baby book along and was making as many notes about her family, traditions, and wishes that I could. We are so  blessed that we had the opportunity to both be there in the OR with her while our baby boy was born. So many memories were made and we are so grateful for the selflessness our birth mama showed. We spoiled her while she was in the hospital as much as we could. On the day of discharge, it was the hardest day. Even though our adoption is open, saying goodbye at discharge to our birth mom was the hardest thing for both of us. She truly is a part of our family and we miss her tons. We know that God has placed us into each other's lives for a reason and we look forward to continuing our relationship.

It turns out all of those initial fears they shared in the back of a little coffee shop months earlier? God had taken care of each one...the relationship with a birth mother, open adoption, even the finances. God knew from the beginning all he needed was Travis and Angela to take the first step and he would take care of the rest.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Adoption Story: Tyler and Casey

When God asks you to do something, it's rare that it makes sense in the beginning. It's scary and unknown and risky. It can even feel unfair and like God isn't near or listening. And then, when you're on the other side of it all, you look back and realize God was in the timing and the details from the very beginning. That was Tyler and Casey's story...

Tyler and I had been married about 3 years when we felt like God was laying it on our hearts to start a family. We had talked about adoption ever since we had been engaged, but it was always a "someday" idea. We started trying for a biological child. We went on to get a diagnosis of unexplained infertility and went through several fertility treatments, medications, and a surgery. After 2 years of treatments, we had exhausted all of our fertility options without doing IVF. We never did get a diagnosis of what the problem was and were told our only option at this point was to pursue IVF. Without IVF, we had less than a 10% chance of ever conceiving. At this point, we were completely drained emotionally and physically. We knew God had laid on our hearts to have a family, but we felt Him shutting the door on pursuing any further fertility treatments. At this point we heard God telling us that our "someday" of adoption was now. The day that we found out our last infertility treatment had failed, I made a phone call to Christian Adoption Consultants and the first person I spoke to was Susan. We started the paperwork with CAC and our social worker to get homestudy approved. This was October of 2015. We completed our homestudy paperwork and everything was approved in February of 2016. 

We started seeing profiles of adoptive mothers and prayed over each situation on whether or not this was the expectant mother God wanted us to connect with. Late in March we presented to an expectant mother, but didn't hear anything back from the lawyer for a couple weeks. Eventually the mother came back to the lawyer and said that she wanted to have a phone call with us. The phone call was scheduled on April 1st. My grandfather died early in the morning onApril 1st and then we had the phone call with the expectant mother that evening. April 4th was my grandfather's funeral and as I was sitting in the service, I cried out to God and prayed that if this was supposed to be the baby we were supposed to be matched with, that He would let us know that day. As soon as we walked out the doors of the church, we got the email saying we had been matched! 

We flew down to Florida at the end of April for a long weekend to meet the expectant mother, got to go to an ultrasound with her, and then went to lunch and spent several hours talking. Conversation flowed easily and we made plans to come back down in July when the baby was due. We went down to Florida a couple weeks before the due date and waited for baby girl to be born. Our daughter was born on July 14th!

One of the crazy details is that our daughter was conceived the week we started the adoption paperwork. God knows our hearts and desires and knew of my disappointment of not getting to tell my grandpa we had a baby on the way. He cares about the details of our story and we felt such peace about the adoption because of this specific prayer. I never got to tell my grandpa about this baby, but God knew the exact timing that needed to happen for our story. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Adoption Story: Joe and Jill

Joe and Jill began with Christian Adoption Consultants in February and had their home study in hand in March. Just three and a half months later they heard about a sweet baby girl who had just been born. It didn't take long for Joe and Jill to know this little girl, states away, was meant to be a part of their family.

Adoption can be challenging. Adding a NICU stay can add even more struggles for an adoptive family. Joe and Jill sought to walk through it all with their eyes on the Lord, remembering that our own journey of faith has it's own ups and downs too. I love Jill's thoughts she shared with me about their time in the hospital...

She has some good days (or parts of good days), and then, WHOMP! A big set back.  And as Joe and I continue to be patient and loving, never giving up on her, I am constantly reminded that the Lord is oh so patient with me, and loving me when I am one big ball of messed up, needy, completely dependent flesh. He never gives up!  He loves me through the struggle to leave behind baggage of my past. He cradles me as I fight against current temptations and holds me close when the day is at its darkest. Like the Jesus Culture song says, “One thing remains. Your love never fails, it never gives up; it never runs out on me.” There He goes again, bringing circumstances to my life to teach me about Him, to make me remember His commitment to me, and to remind me of the great hope and Life I now have because of Him.

Yes, adoption is challenging. But Joe and Jill patiently walked through it with their little one, knowing that God would not leave their side.

As we’ve had Sarah home, we’ve had lots of family and friends visiting. Without knowing the details of her story, everyone (and I mean everyone) says, “Oh she’s so lucky to have you guys!” In that moment, I think of all the Lord has taught me through her already, smile, and reply, “Oh, but we are so blessed to have her!”

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Adoption Story: Cameron and Jenny

Emotional roller coaster ends in adoption for family...

That's what the headline read recently in Cameron and Jenny's hometown paper. Their story started like this: 

Cameron and Jenny describe the last two years as a rollercoaster ride, but the emotional ups and down paid off in the adoption of a pretty newborn with big blue eyes named Alli Jo, who came into this world on July 5, 2016.

But of course there's more to the story; more than can be captured in a short newspaper article or even this blog. More that God was working behind the scenes for the years and months and days leading up to the day Alli was placed in their arms for the first time.

I first met Cameron and Jenny on a chilly November morning at Panera. We sat across from each other in a booth and I listened as they told me their story of wanting a family. They were ready to add a little one and had already been through a lot in their attempts to add to their family. 

Theirs had been a long road. Waiting at a local agency with little movement before working with Christian Adoption Consultants. Then seeing many possible situations to pray over; presenting and hearing "not yet" from God.

Until June 21st when everything changed. They heard about an expectant mom and the precious baby she was expecting. But they felt no clear direction this time. Weary from the journey, they emailed back that they just didn't feel it was a "yes." But even the next day, both Cameron and Jenny couldn't stop thinking about this mama and her baby. When the agency called to check in to see if they wanted to present and said she had never received their email the night before, Cameron and Jenny took it as a sign that this might be God's answer. They decided to present their profile.

But days passed unexpectedly with no movement forward. The plan had been to present that day but almost a week went by until it worked out to show their profile to this expectant mom. Admittedly their faith was getting weak: had they really heard from the Lord?

Eight days after putting their "yes" on the table, they heard God's resounding "yes" back. "SHE CHOSE YOU!" One phone called changed everything.

Jenny remembers, "I was SO SHOCKED! I could have laughed and cried at the same time! And then came the second surprise that the baby was to be born on Tuesday! WOW! What emotions! It was so much fun to be finally be able to call our family and tell them the awesome news! We decided since it was all happening so fast that we wanted to keep it a secret until she was born. I’m not sure how I ever kept from spilling the beans."

It was just three days later when they met their daughter: born at 12:39pm. Life hasn't been the same since. Their home is filled with sleepless nights, little coos and giggles, and loads of laundry with tiny pink clothes. 

Their nursery and hearts are full. And both Cameron and Jenny would tell you their roller coaster was worth every up and down.

Monday, October 10, 2016

In Their Own Words: Why I Recommend an Adoption Consultant

Natalie and her husband Loren are parents to two beautiful boys. Both miracles through adoption and biology, only five months apart. You can read more of those beginnings here to their previous family. Natalie recently shared her thoughts on why the chose to work with me as their adoption consultant...

We’ve been asked by quite a few people about the route we chose to grow our family through adoption. There are a few ways to adopt babies and children, but this was the route we chose. It’s not better or worse than the other ways, it is simply an avenue and it is the direction we chose to go.

After reading through countless reviews raving about Christian Adoption Consultants (CAC), we decided we wanted to explore further. I contacted Susan VanSyckle after spending countless hours scrolling through her blog (My {Grace Filled} Mess) every night. On her blog, I discovered so many beautiful families who had hired her and had grown their family via domestic adoption. I read adoption story after adoption story and ached for our picture and story to be shared on her site. I wanted to have my heart cracked open wide by adoption.

We still weren’t convinced that we wanted to spend what seems now the “spare change” we had saved for adoption to hire her. What if its a hoax? So I began emailing her and asking her questions and finally, after about 3-5 months of emails, we hired her!

I highly recommend hiring an adoption consultant, specifically (of course!) Susan. Why?

The average wait time is less than 2 years. This was one of our biggest reasons. From hiring Susan to having our son placed in our arms was 8 months.

They network with quality, ethical, trustworthy agencies across the nation (and the world, if you hire an international adoption consultant). This means you get a list of all of the agencies you can apply to as well as receive discounts on applications. Each state is different in their laws regarding adoption and CAC refers their clients to agencies in adoption friendly states. Adoption Friendly for both the birth family and the adoptive family.

Susan would also send us “expectant mom situations” via email that were not with agencies we were active with.

At signing on with them, you receive a book of resources. This book/binder is filled with safe loans/grants available to you, family profile book suggestions, appropriate adoption language, tips about speaking to expectant mothers/families and birth mothers/families, travel tips, etc. Susan sent me a list of home study agencies I could use locally.

We loved the idea of having an increasingly low chance of experiencing adoption fraud. I would often send her questions about some situations I saw available and she would help us navigate warning signs. We had a lot of confidence with that backing and knowledge.

One of our favorite and surprise parts of being a client of Susan’s was being added to her secret/private/closed Facebook group of all of her clients. This Facebook group has provided friends for a lifetime who understand the journey you are walking through. They understand your heart. They experience similar situations. They know the heaviness of the wait, of unhealthy relationships, of transracial adoption, of so many aspects.

I have asked countless questions in that group regarding substance exposure, developmental, openness in adoption, family relationships, how to respond to different things, preparing for our home study, fundraising, and a lot of “is this normal?” questions, etc.

We hired Susan as our adoption consultant and we would do it ten times over. We highly recommend hiring an adoption consultant if you’re choosing to adopt an infant domestically. 

You can find Natalie's blog (and this original post) here. Natalie also writes for, Baby Care Magazine, and Baby Prepping.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Adoption Story: Jesse and Brooke

Jesse and Brooke have one of those whirlwind, roller coaster adoption stories that left them catching their breath at God's crazy timing and miracles in the details. They started with Christian Adoption Consultants just before Christmas last year. They were fostering some amazing boys and their focus was on reunifying them with their family in those first few months. When they renewed their home study for domestic adoption in the Spring, they had no idea how soon they would need it. They got the call about an expectant family looking for adoptive parents before it was even complete. Today Brooke shares the story of how their son came to be theirs...

Our adoption story was the most intimate, caring, love letter God has ever written to me. I have never felt more known and more loved by the Lord. Every dream, wish, and desire was fulfilled in ways I could have never even imagined.

The journey started somewhat oddly, I had been meeting with someone who was helping me balance my hormones naturally in an effort to get pregnant.  We had been to a fertility specialist and decided that the medical route felt too invasive, too cold, and too uncomfortable for us. We had always dreamt of adoption, even before marriage, and now was the time to pursue it. In an effort to find a natural, safe skincare and makeup line, I connected with an acquaintance from college. I told her my journey and reasoning behind the switch to safer personal care products and she shared her own journey and how she was using Christian Adoption Consultants.  I began researching CAC and decided to present this to my husband. We went out to dinner and talked about adoption. My husband expressed that he wished there was someone to help you navigate the adoption process because it felt overwhelming. In was in that moment that I explained CAC! You see we had been fostering 3 teenage boys for the past year and half and we felt like we were walking around in the dark and having to learn things for ourselves. Adoption seemed so vast and scary that we needed someone to hold our hands through this process!  

We signed on with Susan in December 2015 and I quickly began searching for an agency to help with our home study. I began dreaming (and pinning on Pinterest!) just what I thought our life could look like. I pinned anything from nursery ideas to women holding a baby with her hair in a top knot. As silly as it sounded I desperately wanted to be that mom who was rocking her "I didn't have time to do my hair", hair. I prayed that by the summer we would have a sweet little baby to call our own. I dreamt of being matched with a birth mom who wanted us to be there for the ultrasound, the birth, and the whole process!  

My dreams were slowly put on the back burner as we took time to press pause on the home study process and focus on our foster boys. We prepared to say goodbye to them as they went home to be with their mother at the end of March 2016. As I picked back up focusing on all the paperwork,  my dreams were dashed again when we had to pause home study visits because my husband would be on tour with his band for most of May. While he was gone I began to prepare the nursery, laughing at myself because there was no way a baby was going to be in that room anytime soon! My heart began to change too - I had thought after a house full of boys, I wanted to have a baby girl but the Lord slowly prompted me to be open to whatever He was to give us.  

The week my husband came back we started our home study visits. We finished our final visit on the last Tuesday of May. That Saturday my best friend had planned to have a baby shower with just close friends and family to get the bigger items we had on our registry, even though I was sure there would be no baby anytime soon. I focused on narrowing our list of agencies to work with as I prepped that week for family to be in town for the shower.  That Thursday, I received a phone call from a friend who works in adoption agency. With very little details she asked if we could give her our profile book and home study by the next day. Frantically I called Susan, who worked so hard to finish our book in such a short amount of time! Our home study agency agreed to rush our home study and would have a hard copy by the following Monday. That Friday our profile book was shown - and not the pretty one we would later order. Our profile was shown on printer paper and in black and white!

The next few weeks would be filled with phone calls with the birth parents and a lot of waiting! I was so thankful though that I could enjoy my shower and not feel silly. The Lord answered my prayers and I was able to enjoy the party, just knowing that it could be so close. Our birth parents were very meticulous in their decision and it took them a full month to choose a couple. Our profile was shown on June 2nd and we got the call that we were chosen on July 1st! Our three phone calls with the birth parents felt so natural, despite their tough questions. Though everything was a risk, we felt that we were meant to meet these people, even if it ended in heartache. We kept the sex of the baby a secret until we were matched and did not want to share the name of our son (SON- I was so excited to be a BOY mom again!) until consent papers were signed. I called my grandfather (who is more like a father to me) to tell him the news that we had been matched. My grandfather is 90 years old and is fading fast, but that man causally started using our son's name in our conversation. I knew that the Lord was in this and no matter what happened in the next few weeks, that this was our son.  

The next few weeks were filled with emotions as we finished the nursery and tried to make plans on how to travel to get our son. I am VERY type A and I was praying that God would just allow me enough time to make the correct plans so I wouldn't miss the birth! Our birth mom wanted us near when she was in labor so we could see the baby quickly after. On July 8th I received a phone call from our adoption agency that our birth mom has chosen to be induced at 39 weeks! I could plan! We wouldn't miss the birth! I had 11 days to get everything in order and we planned to travel a few days before the birth so we could meet the birth parents. 

The days leading up to our son's birth were some of the best moments. We clicked immediately with our birth parents and what was planned as a quick, casual meeting ending up being an almost four hour conversation. The birth momma invited us to go with them to the hospital the next evening when they checked her in so we could get a feel for the hospital. I thank God so much for that evening! I never thought I would see the inside of a delivery room...but there I was sitting in the room that our son would be born in. That night the nurse did an ultrasound and we got to see our precious baby boy right there on the monitor.  

The next morning our little man made an appearance before we anticipated and we frantically left the hotel room despite not finishing getting ready or packing anything. Because we left in such a hurry in our first picture with our son I am rocking the mom top knot - God can answer even the silliest prayers! The next three days in the hospital were filled with God's pure grace and love. We were able to get a hospital room and provide primary care for our little one. We would wake up and wheel him over to the birth momma's room and the five of us would hang out and talk while passing little man around.  

So many fears I had going into adoption were shattered. Birth parents LOVE their babies, and they can love them while still handing them over to another momma's arms. You CAN have wonderful, open communication with birth parents without a fear of blurring lines and creating tension.  

I knew going into this I would love one person, but I never imagined loving three so intensely.

Beautiful photos thanks to Olivia G Photography.

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