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.

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