Friday, June 23, 2017

the truth about birth parents

But truly, some of the biggest myths about adoption is the birth family. There are a lot of assumptions made about who they are, why they decide to make an adoption plan, and how they feel about their child. I've never made an adoption plan, but I've worked with many amazing women and men who have. Here's a few things I've learned about these courageous parents...

There is no 'typical' birth parent.
I've worked with birth parents ranging in age from 15 to 45 years old. For some birth mothers, it's their first baby. For some it's their seventh. For some it's the first baby they've chosen life for after having an abortion. Couples who are married. High school students and graduate students.  Artists, musicians, administrative assistants and managers. Every birth parent has a unique story and a unique reason for making an adoption plan.

Birth parents don't 'give up' their children.
I've never met a birth parent who wants to 'give up' their baby.  The act of making an adoption plan is selfless, courageous, and agonizing. Adoption is less about giving up and more about giving: giving life, giving a future, and giving tremendous love. Instead of being unwanted, birth parents want to give their child a life, even if there's unanswered questions and unknowns ahead. It's been said that adoption is not the abandonment of a baby, but the abandonment of self for a baby's sake.

Birth parents love their children.
Adoption is made up of the kind of sacrificial love when a parent puts their child's needs above their own. Their child is desperately wanted and deeply and fully loved. It's this kind of love that drives their decision to choose adoption; believing it truly is what's best for their child. 

Birth fathers can be involved.
There's an assumption that birth father's are out of the picture and not a part of adoptions. Although this can be the case (and even some of the reason a mother chooses an adoption plan), there are actually many times birth fathers are involved. Of course every birth father has rights as a parent and many choose to actively engage in the process; supporting the birth mother during the pregnancy and birth, helping to choose an adoptive family, and sharing an ongoing relationship with their child.

Openness feels scary to them, too.
More often than not, birth parents shy away from openness not because they don't want an ongoing relationship with their child, but because they don't want to infringe on the new family that has formed. They have planned and sacrificed for their child to be placed in an adoptive family and don't want anything interfering, including themselves.

Birth parents don't move on and forget.
Every birth mother I know has told me they think about their child daily, even years after the adoption. The same fierce love that drove them to choose adoption continues throughout their lives. It's a common refrain to constantly wonder how their child is doing, how they are growing, and if their child knows how deeply wanted and important they were from the beginning.

There are a lot of myths out there about "the kind of people" who make adoption plans. As I've walked with them, held their hands during labor and delivery, and watched them place their babies in another's arms, I know the truth about these "kind of people." They are some of the bravest, strongest, and selfless men and women I know. They are incredible mothers and courageous fathers. They know the kind of love that places anothers' needs before their own. 

So instead of a birth parent having some sort of stigma, or narrowly putting them into a box, these are the men and women that need to be celebrated, held in high esteem, and cherished. Let's start a movement acknowledging and honoring the tremendous worth and value of birth mothers and birth fathers.

For more on birth parents:

Thursday, June 15, 2017

adoption story: lance and marie

Lance and Marie had welcomed their first daughter through adoption. When they started with Christian Adoption Consultants last May, they were hoping to adopt again. Less than one year later, their family grew again when they brought home their son. I love Marie's insights into their adoption, their journey, and what they've learned along the way...

Adoption has definitely been a journey for us. It can be an emotionally trying time - but that time spent longing and preparing for a child allowed for lots of devoted time pouring out our hearts to God and learning from Him in the wait. We learned patience, trust, hope and ultimately - joy, that only He can provide. We want others to know that God has a plan and to remember to keep on keeping on - fill out all that detailed paperwork, then put your energy into doing things that will be more work or impossible with a new child. Everyone's story unfolds in a unique way, but trust that God has a perfect answer to your desire. Having a consultant was so helpful - from the quick responses when a burning question came to mind to guidance when considering a situation - we would have been lost without her (thank you Susan!). We have two adopted children now and our relationship with each of their birth parents is different. For each family, we maintain a private Facebook group which they love - each has a different mix of group members. We have even met with each of the children's birth grandmother's and we'll see what they would like to do in the years to come. We are open to relationships with the birth family and feel it is important to give them that respect yet in the end we will try to make the best decision for our child. Adoption has made us more open to accept people different than us, to stretch our patience and mostly, to rely on God more.

Congrats to this sweet family of four. It's been a joy watching you rely on God as He writes your story!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

adoption story: tom and shannon

They say adoption is a roller coaster ride of emotions. When Tom and Shannon went through the adoption process, they would tell you they rode every twist, turn, and heart-pounding drop you could imagine. I love Tom's perspective on their adoption and hearing their story from a father's heart...

We received the call today. Giving us our finalization date, to make our son “officially” ours. But he has been ours since day one, and God knew he was a part of our family long before that.

We didn’t know it at the time but our adoption journey began seven years ago. We had just had our second biological child when we discovered we wouldn't be able to risk another pregnancy for medical reasons. Our family would be complete at four and would remain that way for the next six years.

In the summer of 2015 I made the comment about how I always thought we would have more kids. Well, my wife took that as the go signal and began researching adoption. We knew another couple in our small community that had worked with Christian Adoption Consultants, and we reached out to them. The process was nothing as we expected. We began the adoption process later that year and would learn along the way that we had very little control, and to let our faith guide us

We both went into this process with our “ideals” of how this would work, and what we wanted. We had our checklist of our "perfect" adoption and our "perfect" baby. We soon realized that God's will for us was probably going to be outside of our comfort zone and opened our minds and our hearts to what He had in store for us. 

We felt all ranges of emotions during this process. Fear was common. Will the expectant mom like our profile? What about the health of the baby? What if the birth parents change their minds? Will we have the finances to cover everything? More and more we discovered we had no control over these things. We had to let go, and trust in the process, and ultimately trust Jesus with our family. 

We were matched in September and our fear turned to joy, happiness, and excitement. Things moved quickly as we anticipated a baby boy in December joining our family. We made a special trip to meet the birth mother and soon were traveling for the birth. But an unexpected call changed everything. The expectant mother had decided to parent. In a moment that happiness turned to sadness and shock.

After a few weeks, our sadness was replaced with a sort of calm. We understood that baby was not meant to be ours and we came to peace with her decision. Our prayers were not only for comfort for our hearts but also for that baby and mama. But it was hard to feel like we were at square one. At this point we needed to update our home study which meant more paperwork and more honest questions. Can we go through all of this again? Can we start this over again? Could we afford to continue on this journey? 

The answer was yes. We had to move forward. More situations. More prayers. More presenting our profile and hearing "not yet." Until one day we heard we heard what we had been waiting for this whole time. We were matched with a little boy due in just six weeks. It seemed almost too perfect.

Everything was in motion. And this time our joy and excitement were mixed with guarding our hearts a bit and holding our breath. We didn't want to get ahead of ourselves so we took it one day at a time. Preparing for baby. Booking flights. Meeting with the amazing expectant mother. Hoping, praying, and waiting to see if this would be the answer to prayers we had been praying for years.

On March 7th, at 8:30pm, Jackson William made his way into the world. He was finally here and everything we dreamed he would be.  He was perfect! All the stress, all the waiting, all the fear, was finally gone. I think we both took the deepest breath we had taken in months. 

While the journey to get there was not easy, it’s easy to say now “It was meant to be." All the waiting, all the pain, all of it was worth every second to have him here with us.

We are told all the time that Jackson is so blessed to have us. But the fact is WE are the Blessed ones to have him. Our prayers were answered. The one we wished for. The one we prayed for. The one we dreamed for. While the process is not perfect, everything about him is.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

what love looks like

Dani and her husband, Adam are in the process of adopting for the second time (you can learn more about how their daughter came to them here). I love her story of what happens when they have a garage sale, enlist their friends to help, and a stranger asks for a deal...

For weeks, we’ve been collecting clothes, toys, furniture and other sundries from friends. They’ve come over with moving vans and pickup trucks, minivans and sensible Hondas, delivering the treasures of last year or last decade to our door. We drove around our county to pick up items, always with a grateful heart.

Once I started to feel overwhelmed by the stuff of other people’s lives, we started taking trips to our garage sale site, Josh and Kate’s new home. We filled the garage, the carport, and the living room. I apologized a lot for taking over their lives, but they are nice and didn’t seem to mind. Kate knows a professional sign maker and got printed signs donated, that said “Adoption Fundraiser Sale” in big black and red letters.

Two nights before the sale, Adam was up almost all night for work. Adelay was fussy, I was tired. We hadn’t had dinner together for a few nights and I was feeling hungry for more than food. We needed a break but one wasn’t coming – we had a sale to run. The night before, Adam made several trips with sale items in the pickup, we ate dinner at 10 pm, Josh and Kate went out late at night to hang signs. I felt overwhelmed and maybe a little defeated. I wondered if we were crazy to go through this again, if we were being unfair to our kind friends, if maybe we’d overstepped this whole “live out loud” thing once and for all.

But do you know what love looks like? I can tell you.

Love looks like undeserved favor. Love looks like friends who laugh at your apologies and cheerfully work for your cause, because they have taken it on as their own. Love looks like a beautiful summer morning sunrise that you are ready for, despite four hours of sleep. Love looks like friends who dropped off more sale items, even as the sale was in progress, who came by with baked goods for the bake sale and hugs and cheerfulness for us.

One woman made a small pile of flower pots and a sundial, and asked, “What do you want for this?”

We’d sold so many things and there was something about her that seemed hungry for kindness, so I said, “Whatever you want to pay.”

She sighed and shook her head, “You’re very generous, but I can’t do that today. Just tell me what you want.”

I quickly smiled and offered a small amount, $5 or something. She followed up by asking me what we were adopting. I laughed and told her a baby. “We’re already adoptive parents and we’re adopting again,” I explained.

Her entire face changed. She looked at the ground, and seemed to be trying to collect herself. Then she handed me a crumpled $20 bill. “Good luck,” she said, and she started to cry. I reflexively gave her a hug and she quickly turned away with her items, I could see tears coming out from behind her sunglasses.

Love looks like letting your story out into the world. Love looks like the hugs I got from strangers who are also adopting, who gave us more than we asked, who are adopted themselves. Love looks like giving people a chance to share in a beautiful life-changing story, one that is just beginning to unfold, and could not be told without them. Love looks like friends who donate, bake, and give of their company and courage. Love looks like a toddler happily playing with safe adults, secure in the knowledge that her tribe is there for her and baby brother or sister. Love looks like the countless texts and calls we got from out of town friends and family to ask us how it was going and how they can help.

Love looks like $2497.84 being raised in a single weekend, selling $1 flowerpots and baby onesies for 50 cents. This is what love looks like.

For more of Adam and Dani's adoption and to read her beautiful writing on her adventures as a "wife, mama, hiker, cowgirl, and experimental cook," check out Dani's blog at Wrangler Dani.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

adoption story: samuel and brandy (take 2!)

Brandy and Samuel adopted their sweet little girl through Christian Adoption Consultants a few years ago. They knew even then their family wasn't complete and they would adopt again...

Jace Ezekiel...He is nine months old now. He has now been with me as long as he was in his birth momma's belly. I remember that time frame being such a turning point with Eden, our first adopted daughter. And thinking back, his story into our family began with her. The day I met Eden for the first time, held her in my arms, I knew instinctively that there was "one more." As sure as I knew we were called to adoption four years earlier, I knew that day that I would be walking through another adoption journey. But at that point, I was rightly focused on my new beautiful daughter.

It would be another two years before my husband and I would circle back around to adoption again. Our journey to Eden was more difficult that we imagined it would be, and adding a move two states away from family and friends just months after she was born just about took all the energy and stamina we had. In all truth, by the time we brought Eden home and moved five months later, I was more depleted physically, emotionally, and physically than I ever had been. And I was not anxious to traverse the same terrain again.

But, between the Lord's constant nudging and the reality that neither Samuel or I were getting any younger, we knew we needed to act sooner than later. 

My one hope with this second adoption journey was that I would "wait better." Constantly, I prayed for that. Constantly, I spoke with friends and prayed together with them that I would wait with less anxiety, less frustration, less emotion. And I, thankfully, did see fruit from that. But I was also caught off guard with the changes in speed and process since Eden's adoption just two and a half years before! Cases came twice as frequently and were decided twice as quickly. It seemed like the adoption roller coaster doubled in time. That was both a blessing and a challenge.

As we rounded the corner of being active for nine months, I was beginning to feel that familiar desperate feeling. The feeling of knowing your child is "out there" but of not being able to get to him or her. The feeling of not knowing how much longer I could say yes and hope and not know if we would get a yes.

All during this time, Samuel and I were preparing for a work sponsored vacation trip to Hawaii. It was a whirlwind five day trip to a dreamy relaxing place. Samuel was super excited and ready to do something alone and fun. I kept trying to get excited, but inside I kept dreaming and praying for THE reason to have to stay home to materialize. I confess, I sported a semi-rotten attitude our whole trip because I left with my hopes in ashes. I had truly set that trip as a sort of finish line in my mind and heart.

Little did I know, though....

We flew home from Hawaii on Thursday, picked up our kids from my in-laws and drove home on Saturday, and on Monday we got the call that changed our lives. A little boy had been born Sunday night!  This was our first stork drop presentation. I had secretly hoped for a girl all along. And I was wrung out from travel. I had very little hope. But then the next day, Tuesday, we got the call we were chosen. (My heart is so full of remembering!) I was gonna be the momma to a fourth little boy! 

WOW! Wow! Wow. That God would count me so worthy. That He would trust me once again with a little life. I know that we "did this to ourselves." I know that we intentionally sought out another child for our family. But, even still, the miracle of it, the enormity of it, and the sanctity of it all humbles me. 

Our little Jace is now nine months old. He is a snaggle-toothed, crawling, ball of pure boy. And our entire family is completely in love with him.  

Thursday, May 11, 2017

repost: in their own words: mother's day

Growing up, Mother's Day always meant the mothers standing proudly in church getting a carnation, packed restaurants, and homemade cards. It honestly never occurred to me that Mother's Day could be a day of mourning for some rather than a celebration. Now as an adult I know better. This year, I have dear friends who will be grieving this year over the loss of a mother, the loss of a child, and the heartbreak of infertility. I'm thankful I haven't sat in a church that doesn't acknowledge the complexity that Mother's Day brings. Our pastor often says that every celebration this side of Heaven will be bittersweet in a broken wold. This couldn't be more true this Sunday.

But where does adoption fit into all of this? What about those mothers in the process of adoption, proudly calling themselves "paper pregnant?" What does Mother's Day look like for those on the long road to adoption? Amy is a prospective adoptive mother this year for Mother's Day, in the midst of paperwork and appointments and trainings for their adoption. Here's her thoughts this weekend...

"The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is the love of a mother"

Each year we get to dedicate a whole day to all of those beautiful mothers in our lives. Maybe, its your own mother, grandmother, birth mother, adoptive mother or step mother...

Whatever the case we know that these women hold some of the most precious places in our hearts. 

We also know that those mama's hold getting to be a mother in the most precious places in their hearts too. 

Maybe, this year you added a bundle of joy to your family.

Maybe, this year is the first year you have gotten to celebrate mother's day as a mama. 

Maybe, this year is the you found out you were going to be a mama for the first time. 

Each year, I know someone who fits into each of these stories. But, I also know women who fit into another type of story...

Maybe, this year you lost a child. 

Maybe, this year you had hoped that this was the year you would have a little one creating a craft out of dried up noodles and globs of paint all filled with love for you. 

Maybe, this year you spent hours filling out adoption paperwork and finishing parenting trainings. 

Maybe, this year you spent the last of your savings on your last round of fertility treatments.

And, each year those of us who aren't yet mothers have to take a deep breath and say...

"Maybe next year..."

This mothers day. Here's to you mama's who don't get to be celebrated as a mama yet. 

Here is to the woman who's hearts desire to be a mother so badly the pain keeps you up at night. 

Here is to the woman who dies a little inside when she sees "Happy Mothers Day" posts all over Facebook for what seems like everyone but herself. 

Here is to the woman who waits and prays for the day she gets to be a mama. 

Here is to the woman who has been preparing herself for this Mother's Day all week that she can seem like she has it all together when the day finally gets here. 

You are not alone. I'm right there with you.

As my husband and I embark on our second year of trying to conceive a child - and are also working to wrap up a home study for our adoption - this day hits me harder than ever because I have had to face some tough realities and a lot of bumps in the road. 

I know my body still won't give me the chance to carry life inside of me. 

I know I have a long and rocky wait ahead of me before my family is complete.

I know my child is out there somewhere - and I pray that they are being taken care of and loved and I will pray over them from this point on for the rest of their lives. 

I know that each day I have to advocate for my child in all ways. 

I know that my home still needs to be prepared for their arrival (whenever that may be).

And...I also know this...

People may not consider me to a mother in such a traditional sense.

But, let me tell you...

Doesn't a mother pray for her child? 

Doesn't a mother fight for her child in all ways?

Doesn't a mother prepare for the arrival of her baby?

That's right, they do!

I may not be a mother with a baby in her arms. 

But, I am a mother with a baby in her heart. And, I think that is worthy of honoring too. 

So, to all of you mothers who are just like me and have a baby growing in their heart instead of their womb - Happy Mothers Day. You all hold a dear place in my heart too. 


Follow along with Amy on her adoption journey on her blog, Glimpses of Hope.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

adoption story: spencer and mackensie

What happens when you let go of your version of control and your fears and let God take over? Read the story of how this sweet boy came to Spencer and Mackenzie...

Spencer and I had always planned on adopting, but our official adoption journey began in July of 2016. 

We had some dear family friends who had just recently adopted, so they directed us to Susan at Christian Adoption Consultants. We had an amazing phone call with her where she answered a bunch of our questions, and we hired her the next day! We both just dove head first into choosing a home study agency, getting pictures together for our profile book, so by October, we were ready to start presenting to expectant birth mothers.

We presented our profile a handful of times before being matched with our son’s birth mother (M) in January. I still will never forget the day that Susan called me and told me that we had been matched. We were able to have a phone call with M that following week and flew out to meet her and her boyfriend in February. It was truly amazing to feel the peace that God gave us after both of these times with her. 

She scheduled a c-section for the middle of March and decided that she wanted me to be in the room with her. We truly felt like our dreams and hopes were finally being set into place. 

On March 1st, Spencer left to go on a work trip in Belize with his office. I jokingly said to him that the baby would probably come while he was gone, and, sure enough, M’s caseworker called me at 8:30 that evening and said that M was in labor. It was a whirlwind of getting a hold of Spencer, packing, and getting to the airport, but by the next evening, we had our son in our arms. We were able to spend some time with M that first day and the day that she signed. She is truly our hero, and, while we only have a semi-open adoption, she will forever hold a place of importance and presence in our family. She is the woman who made us parents, and we love her with our whole hearts. 

We made it back home after 2 weeks, and, all of a sudden, we had this baby in the nursery that we had put together during our home study. It was a beautiful moment for us, and I’m so thankful that we allowed God to say, “This is your plan. This is what I’ve called you to do.”

Spencer and I are both planners, so when I look at our adoption journey, what I think is the most amazing part of our journey is seeing how we slowly released our version of control, what we thought we wanted, and completely let go. Adoption can easily be accompanied with a lot of fear: fear of the unknown, fear of saying yes when you don’t have all of the answers. Our view shifted to where instead of being fearful, we turned that scary unknown into a hopeful promise. We knew that God had already hand picked our baby for us. We knew, that despite any unknown circumstances that surrounded a profile, He had already ironed out the details. When we were matched with our precious boy, God truly took away our fears and just let us enjoy the good and His promises. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

adoption story: joshua and kendra

So often, the times we think our dreams are dying are the exact times God is working behind the scenes on events we simply don't know about yet. And sometimes, on the other side of the story, when we piece it all together, we realize our dreams pale in comparison to the ones God has for us. Today Kendra shares her adoption story, a beautiful example of forgotten dreams, steadfast prayers, and hope that can only come from God.

God placed the desire to adopt in our spirits before we ever had any children. After having two biological boys we thought we were done growing our family.

That was until I started to have dreams of a little girl. I would have them on multiple occasions and they became very vivid. God began to awaken us again to adopt after six years of infertility and what seemed like a dream that would never become real. 

After searching the internet, talking with adoptive parents and making many phone calls, I felt confused and overwhelmed by the choices and different avenues of adoption. It wasn't until I came across Christian Adoption Consultants and spoke with Susan, that I finally felt peace and that this really could work. Susan was amazing; she took the guess work out and made the steps towards adoption doable and make sense. 

We began our adoption journey with CAC in early December. We were home study ready by the end of January and matched for adoption by February 26th. We had a feeling once we said "yes" to adoption that God would take care of the rest. We knew that it could go quick or take some time. I really looked at the time spent in process as God's confirmation that we were right in the center of His will.  We had generous donors, extra pay raises, and an entire nursery donated and so much more in those few short months. 

We had set in our minds that we would lean on the Lord for every "yes" and "no" which proved to be built in his perfect plan. There were so many "God" moments, or, what I like to call them, "kisses" along the way. We found out the day we had our Home Study visit that our social worker received a call from our daughter's birth mom for the very first time asking about adoption. Only God works out things like that...

Our daughter Violet was born on Palm Sunday, April 9th, a day that we reflect and remember the Hope and triumphal entry of our King Jesus.  What more could be said about adoption than "redemption?" God redeemed what had been taken away and He did it with love. We had our daughters' name picked out for two years. The week we brought her home from the hospital our yard and neighborhood was blooming in violets of every shade. Just another confirmation that this was the design of the Creator. We are still breathing in the goodness of God. 

Those years of infertility and what seemed to be a dream that had died, all make sense now. Without the wait, without the learning years, without the trusting we would not be holding our beautiful daughter Violet! 

Friday, April 28, 2017

repost: what i wish you knew about adoption and infertility {part 3}

In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, I thought it would be a good time to share again some thoughts from adoptive and hopeful adoptive parents on adoption and infertility. I've learned so much from these families and it's worth it to share some of their insights with you this week as we work to educate and break down barriers of couples who have infertility as part of their story...

We've spent the week engaging the conversation about adoption and infertility; the pain that comes with infertility and how others add to the pain. As an adoption consultant, I work with families every day that let me into their story; they share their loss and heartbreak. They share their struggle. And today they are sharing here about their choice to adopt.

Adoption is not something that everyone that is infertile is called by God to do. It is something you need to discern just like a fertile person would discern it.  - Lisa

Adoption doesn't cure infertility. It cures childlessness.  - Stacey

Despite what your doctors, close friends/family, and much of society will recommend, you don't NEED to pursue every treatment for infertility before turning to adoption. Adoption is not a 2nd choice or plan B. Your adopted child will be "your own.”  - Meagan

If you did seek infertility treatments prior to adoption, you really need to fully grieve the loss before committing yourself to adoption…adoption is NOT a plan b, but one can feel it is if they don't free themselves from the pain of infertility first.  - Carrie

I…wish people knew that when a family decides to pursue adoption, they have discussed it in great detail. They didn't think "let's just adopt" they prayed, they had long conversations and prayed some more. A family’s infertility will never go away just because they have chosen the path of adoption...the loss and hurt will always be there in some way.  - Amy

For me, adoption isn't about replacing my son (as some have been bold enough to say). It's about feeling such a depth of love that I had never felt before, such a passion, and knowing that love could be shared with another child. Our capacity to love was shown to me through our son. I knew my son would want for us to love another child, and that it was meant to be through adoption.  - Andrea

After our infertility struggles and miscarriages, we felt God leading us to adoption. We waited until we knew that we knew it was God and not us trying to "make" parenthood happen for us. We didn't really hear Him with clarity until He had helped us heal from our painful previous endeavors. Once we heard Him clearly, we had mourned the way we thought we would become parents, which helped us quickly see how adoption was NOT a Plan B but God's original plan for us all along!  - Debbie 

It's such a hard road - we were never able to get pregnant regardless of pills, shots, and trials...Painful to remember, yes- but one day it WILL NOT DEFINE US. We have been defined for almost 10 years as the poor [family] who can't get pregnant - little did we know we couldn't because our perfect family was not created from my uterus, and I am now a-okay with that!   - Kristin

With infertility, you may never lose the desire to wonder what being pregnant would be like even if you are mommy thru the miracle of adoption and that is perfectly normal. Also, it is ok if everyone in your life does not understand your decision to adopt, it is not their journey to make sense of, it is yours.   - Amanda

We did not have a long infertility battle, but it was intense. [After completing four IVF cycles] we did not know if we wanted to go through the financial, physical, emotional, and spiritual journey again. We decided to put it on God's shelf. He will either tug our hearts back to try again, or He will not. We put it all in His hands. We decided to concentrate on our adoption journey, knowing we were going to adopt no matter what. God gave us a very strong desire to have children, and we know He is not a cruel God. We know that He would not give us the desire if we were not going to be parents somehow. We know it is not how we become parents that matter, it is that we become parents. I don't guarantee that we will not try again at some point, but I know God has given us the strong tug in our hearts to adopt right now. I can't wait to see His plan for us.  - Heather

I wish I would have known that it was ok to take the time to grieve our story not turning out how I thought it would. I wish I had known that it's ok to feel the hurt of secondary infertility just as much as the first time. I felt so guilty for wanting another child when we already had our son. But a friend told me, "your family is incomplete whether it's by one child or two children, it's still incomplete.”  - Ashley

The heartache was so overwhelming in the middle of our IVF treatments and the final negative pregnancy test was one if the worst days of my life.... It all seems like such a distant memory and such a small part of my life since we brought our [daughter] home ! There are still a few times of sadness , but I am shocked how all consuming the sadness was and how quickly it vanished once we held our [daughter] for the first time.  - Becca

We would not have [our daughter] if we didn't have our infertility and our losses. If we had been pregnant either naturally or with IVF first, we likely would not have opened our hearts to adoption. So I would not exchange our infertility battles for the world because they brought me my most perfect first daughter. So in that vein, while difficult, those hard hard years were the best thing that ever happened to me and my husband.  - Carrie

My friend, Lily, summed up her thoughts on their infertility and adoption journey so perfectly.  Infertility is complicated. Often those on the outside want to reduce it down to a simple “just.” Just do IVF. Just relax and it will happen. Just adopt. It’s easy to miss that infertility is often a catalyst God uses to redirect and refine those going through it, but there is no “just” that will wrap everything up with a neat bow. It’s emotional, messy, and everyone’s story is unique. Not everyone struggling with infertility will do IVF or adopt. Some will do both. We loved the idea of adoption long before we dealt with infertility. But God used infertility to direct out path at the right time for us to adopt our son. Even with the diagnosis of infertility, we never tried IVF because the call on us to adopt became so great and so imperative. Praise God for the timeline he put us on! But we also received some judgement for the way we did things and why we hadn’t “explored every option” before adopting. Even from our fertility doctor. Now, as an adoptive momma, I can tell you that adoption is emotional, messy and everyone’s story will be different. But I also know firsthand the beauty of being part of something that God knit together, and knowing that our infertility was part of a bigger plan He had for us and our son. What was once something I asked God to remove from our lives, is now something I have thanked Him for many times. God’s ways are not our ways.

I can't think of a more beautiful way to talk about adoption and infertility. The beauty that God can make from brokenness when we see our story as a part of His.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

repost: what i wish you knew about adoption and infertility {part 2}

In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, I thought it would be a good time to share again some thoughts from adoptive and hopeful adoptive parents on adoption and infertility. I've learned so much from these families and it's worth it to share some of their insights with you this week as we work to educate and break down barriers of couples who have infertility as part of their story...

Earlier this week we started to talk about adoption and infertility, specifically the pain that comes with infertility. Families I work with have graciously allowed me to share their stories and thoughts on the important topic of how they've grown their family. 

Today, let's dive into how others add to the pain. Often, unknowingly, others trying to step into grief or offer an encouraging word actually do the opposite. People can make insensitive comments that can hurt rather than heal. If you're someone who struggles quietly with infertility, this might offer some solidarity with others who have been where you are. Or maybe you're on the other side, watching dear friends struggle. Let this open your eyes and open your heart to the real pain of infertility and the ability to walk with them through it.

Part of this series is to address the myths that many people have about adoption and infertility. Today, my families address many of them head on...

The thing that struck me most about our journey with infertility is how easily people belittle that painful journey. They say things like "Well now you don't have to deal with the bad parts of pregnancy" or "Just relax and it'll happen." Really?! How rude and painful to hear! No one can understand the deep deep wounds that infertility causes until you have gone through it. Unfortunately, when individuals belittle our journey to me it rips those wounds right back open. Just yesterday I was speaking with two women about children and grandchildren. One women looked at the other and said, "Well I mean your [grandchild] is actually a part of your DNA." She didn't even notice what she had said but it took my breath away for a moment. That someone would say that after looking at a picture of my beautiful daughter and make reference that she isn't actually mine burned my heart.  - Amanda

Telling a person who suffers from infertility to 'just adopt' is insensitive. Also, adoption is not something that everyone that is infertile is called by God to do. It is something you need to discern just like a fertile person would discern it.  - Lisa

After finding out we're adopting and saying, "oh now I bet you'll get pregnant because you won't be thinking about it" is insensitive. That implies infertility is someone's fault. We aren't choosing to adopt in hopes of getting pregnant.  - Tyler

Stop saying [our daughter] is lucky because we "saved" her... If anything she saved us! And the infertility is definitely a grieving process. It took me a long time (and I mean a long time) to be ready to let go. I am amazed every moment that God wove [adoption into] our path and I will be thrilled and in disbelief for as long as I live.  - Wendy

Just because we have chosen to adopt DOES NOT MEAN WE WILL GET PREGNANT. For the life of me, I cringe every time I hear this comment because it implies that adoption is a back-up plan and that pregnancy/childbirth is worthy of more celebration.  - Shelley

I know they mean well. They tell me it is about relaxing. After you adopt, you will be relaxed and not trying so hard. I heard this many, many times.  - Heather

My husband and I were pretty young when infertility turned our world upside down. We knew we always wanted to adopt (even before infertility) but it was disheartening that no one respected or took our wish to adopt very seriously till after seven years of infertility. All we ever heard was "you're so young, just relax it'll happen. There's no need to think about adoption yet." As if adoption was our back up plan and only acceptable after all fertility options had been exhausted. And yes, we've also been told too many times to count "I bet you'll get pregnant now!" It's so painful and belittling.  - Maria

Someone actually just said to me yesterday "I just know once you adopt you'll get pregnant.” It pains me to put a smile on my face and just say "hmm, maybe?" Because it's too exhausting to explain why the comment is hurtful. I hate that pregnancy still always seems like the "better" gift. Like I won't be content with adopting - and I'll need pregnancy to really make me feel like a parent. Ugh.  - Amy

Telling a person who suffers from infertility to 'just adopt' is insensitive.  - Lisa

I'll attest that pregnancy and childbirth do NOT make you a parent, despite what some people imply. The sleepless nights, endless diaper changes, midnight feedings, early morning snuggles, unconditional love...all of that makes you a parent. No pregnancy needed.  - Shelley

People do belittle our journeys and it's hard to not let their words cut us deeply. - Amy

As someone who is currently pregnant unexpectedly after adoption…everyone said it was because we "relaxed" and this happens "all the time" -- and it made me want to scream, as I knew exactly what our infertility issues were and how extremely unlikely this pregnancy was. However the people that "got it" call both our babies miracles and how God had his hand in forming our family this particular way. And to that I whole-heartedly agree. I always say His plan is incredible for everyone and it sure can catch you by surprise sometimes.  - Carrie 

Infertility hurts...badly. It changes you as a person (in good ways, but it's a very hard road). There are those who care enough to really "go" there with you and witness and support you through the pain and loss and it changes those people too... then there are those who flat out don't care enough to "go" there with you. Sometimes it's surprising who those people are and amazing how insensitive they can be...from telling you, "Okay, no big deal just do IVF..." without acknowledging the pain you are going through or the expense, stress, pain, and loss that's still possible with IVF... or (when we decided not to try IVF) "well, why wouldn't you try to have your own baby first?” to the ever popular, "I just know you'll get pregnant now that you've adopted…" We've even had a family member say to us, about our adopted son, "Well I guess he's good enough to be a [part of our family] and I guess we'll let him in the family pictures...." The ignorance and remarkably hurtful comments will always be there. But another thing infertility can do is knit a husband and wife together in such a way that you can stand together against others who try to tear you creates in you a maturity, love and devotion that enables you to rely on each other and on God; others that just don't/won't get it don't have to hold an essential part of our lives. In more ways than we ever thought, infertility completely reshaped our lives....and God has worked it for our good.  - Katie

Stick around. We'll chat about the choice to adopt later this week...

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

repost: what i wish you knew about adoption and infertility {part 1}

In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, I thought it would be a good time to share again some thoughts from adoptive and hopeful adoptive parents on adoption and infertility. I've learned so much from these families and it's worth it to share some of their insights with you this week as we work to educate and break down barriers of couples who have infertility as part of their story...

Today starts a three part series about adoption and infertility. Too often we address infertility or adoption singularly and not in a broader context of a family desiring to grow their family. Not every family who decides to adopt has suffered with infertility. In my experience, a little more than half of the families I work with have struggled with some form of infertility. I wanted to start a conversation about the topic and the response I received was overwhelming. Families who were eager to share their experiences, their grief, and even their hope. So much so, that I need a week to to cover it all.

Infertility is a heartbreaking part of so many couple's lives. I haven't met one woman who doesn't remember exactly where she was when she received the news of a devastating diagnosis, and often remembers the exact words her doctor spoke. 

I've asked some of my families to share their thoughts, their stories, and their hearts over the next few days about their journey through infertility and adoption. Here's their thoughts on the pain of infertility...

I so wish people had a better understanding of the loss you feel with infertility. It's a loss that both HUSBAND and WIFE need to grieve.  - Amy

There is hope for the grief/sadness caused by infertility to pass. I remember saying to a friend, somewhat in surprise, that I truly felt no sadness anymore about our infertility. I want nothing different than our son and his story. She wisely said, "God placed a hole in your heart the shape of [our son] and now it is filled." … I learned God can bring a lot of healing and peace through his plans.  - Meagan

Now that we have our daughter I am so glad God's plans were BETTER than what I had thought they would be. We always wanted to adopt (long before I knew about our infertility) but we needed to give ourselves the time to heal and process and move forward.  - Ashley

Going through infertility was like living life on slow motion. Every treatment and every month took 3 times longer than it should have. We were sad ALL the time. Now that we have our son, it's like life is on fast forward and going by WAY too fast. This is what happiness feels like!   - Jessica

Sometimes the journey feels so lonely!  - Rosie

We adopted our first daughter 4 and a half years ago and she is absolutely the apple of our eyes. Having said that, I would like to share that infertility is something that I don't think you ever 'get over' It is still a nagging ache in my heart…  - Denise

I often think to myself "what a great honor that God has chosen us to walk the path of adoption! I can't believe he finds us worthy to do such an amazing thing!" It's so humbling! But, I know that I will never fully heal from the loss of not being able to carry a child inside of me. I wish I too could feel all of the aspects of pregnancy. People do belittle our journeys and it's hard to not let their words cut us deeply.  - Amy

I'm totally content with our family and adoption was certainly not 'second best' for us. However, it doesn't mean that infertility doesn't still have it's moments of 'sting' or that I don't have the desire to know what's it's like to have someone kick my belly from the inside. It doesn't mean that I don't long to know what labor is like however painful it may be.  - Amanda

Infertility. The ever-present elephant in the room. Your family sees it, but doesn't quite know what to say. You see it and wonder if anyone feels your pain. God sees it. He allows it. He wrote it for my family. He wrote it after we had our first daughter. And let me tell you, even though we had a biological child and experienced pregnancy, I had some big words for Him… I was pouring out my heart to Him, mostly groanings deep within. He heard Hannah, right? Surely He'd hear me, too, right? I know He heard me. But His answer wasn't the one I wanted to hear, but the one that would forever reshape me… I am forever grateful that He works in ways that I never could have dreamed.  - Kate

I thought I would forever carry with me the void of never physically feeling a baby grow inside of my belly...but God miraculously healed that desire. He literally filled that void through our experience of feeling our love grow in our hearts for our boys from Ethiopia. Just as is also happening now for Baby Sis (domestic adoption). "You may not have grown in my belly, but you grew in my heart" is SO TRUE! That aching, dreaming, praying, anticipating still occurs whether that baby grows in your belly or your heart!  - Debbie

Come back later this week for more on how others add to the pain of infertility and the choice to adopt.

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