Wednesday, January 31, 2018

If I Could Say One Thing...About the Adoption Home Study

The home study process that every hopeful adoptive family goes through can feel intimidating and often causes anxiety for families. I've written about preparing your home for the home study and a home study survival guide. Today you get the chance to hear from adoptive families who have been through the home study process what they would say.

If I could say one thing about the adoption home study...

The Home Study feels so overwhelming and intimidating but it’s way less stressful and way more enjoyable than you might originally think.  - Leigh

Try not to over-stress. It won’t be nearly as bad and you imagine. The house doesn’t have to be spotless either. First visit we cleaned top to bottom, by the end our social worker was more like a friend and we just made sure she wouldn’t trip over any toys.  - Kristi

It’s not a judgement process, it’s an education process.  - Leah

It is NOT a white glove test like you think. Let your house show you live there and don't stress about making it look perfect.  - Christy

Be yourself! It’s intimidating, but being honest and giving yourself grace makes the process (a little) less stressful.  - Kaylin

God led the right person into our lives and It was a reminder of how HE was watching the entire process. She was there to help us adopt... not prevent it from happening. She has become a friend and huge help to us. She is rooting for our family to adopt and I'm so thankful for her friendship!  - Amy

It’s so not about the house and it’s about you as a couple and family. Also what an amazing opportunity to share your faith and show the gospel to others. Our agency was not a Christian agency and we had the best talks about our faith. God will make his name known even in the stresses of homestudy. What a blessing to witness.  - Jenny

Relax and realize that they are just there to make sure you can provide and get to know you as a family. It’s a step in the process that you may feel the need to control and overanalyze... but just relax, breathe, and be yourself.  - Mackensie

Clean like you would for dinner guests. Your house does not need to be spotless! - Michelle

It's not as scary as it sounds! - Nathan

It’s not as bad as you think it will be! We cleaned our house top to bottom, and even painted all our trim. She didn’t even go into all the rooms, we spent most of the time visiting around the table eating cookies I had made and drinking milk and coffee. I was so stressed out about it, but it was easy peasy!  - Andrea

It was a pleasant surprise (and don't overclean!)  - LeAnne

Even though it feels like your entire life is being scrutinized, the adoption agency that's conducting your home study is rooting for you and they want to see you reach your dream of becoming an adoptive family. Their goal is not to pick apart everything about your life and family, but to find any potential red flags and prepare you for the journey ahead. The home study experience actually prepared us for some of the challenges we faced after we were chosen by our daughter's birth mom.  - Melissa

The home study was one of our favorite parts of the journey! We learned so much about adoption and our social worker has been such a blessing to us. She has been there to HELP us adopt. It was an educational experience that we're thankful to have.  - Amanda

Be honest with your home study agency. My husband had a few things happen in his life during his divorce that I thought would keep us from being able to adopt. The agency listened to everything he said and told us what to do so that we could prove everything that happened was either unfounded or eventually ruled out in court. It’s better to be honest in the beginning and get over those hurdles than have something come up after you’ve matched.  - Elizabeth

For more in this series:

If I Could Say One Thing...About Beginning the Adoption Process
If I Could Say One Thing...About the Cost of Adoption

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Adoption Story: Keith and Summer

Keith and Summer were childhood sweethearts and had a lot of time to talk about what their future would hold. They dreamed about adopting...someday. They married in 2001 and went on to have three boys. After their third son, they began talking more seriously about adoption when Summer felt God saying "not yet." It wasn't long after that they were surprised with baby #4 - another boy! That's when Keith and Summer began to pray again about the possibility of growing their family through adoption...

In 2015 I began to look into adoption some again. I also began to pray. I prayed first that if He did not desire for us to adopt that He would take the desire from my only continued to grow stronger. I also began to pray that He would unite mine and Keith's hearts concerning adoption because Keith was not ready and only God could do that. I also began praying for the woman who would become our child's birthmom. I continued to stay in the Word and pray daily for confirmation, guidance, direction, and wisdom. I was amazed at the the things He taught me during this time and am thankful that I wrote these things in my prayer journal. 

During the fall of 2015, I was searching Pinterest for adoption related posts and came across Susan's blog where she shared her heart for adoption and I could also read so many stories of other couples and families who had adopted and how God had written such beautiful stories. I had also begun to share with close friends my desire to adopt and had asked for them to pray for us One friend sent me a story written about a friend of hers who had recently adopted (the story was actually from Susan's blog). So I began to look more into Christian Adoption Consultants and Susan in particular. In early 2016 I began to contact Susan to find out more about how CAC worked and continued to pray. In May of 2016 Keith was ready to move forward with CAC and we signed on with Susan and began working on completing our home study and profile book. It was a busy summer so we did not finish everything until late September and began to apply to agencies in October. We only presented to a few situations the first couple months. In February of 2017 we heard about 5 possible situations in one week! We were so overwhelmed on who to present to, who to wait on, or if we should pull our names out of a situation so we could present to a different one. The Lord was faithful though and one night while I was wrestling with all this in bed He laid a verse on my heart...Exodus 14:14: Be still and I will fight for you. So we were still...we stuck with the first situation of the week, were presented, and were not chosen. I knew though that the Lord was fighting for us. Fighting for us to stay on the path that would eventually lead us to the child He had created to be a part of our family. 

While on this path our hearts were changing some. We were becoming more patient and relaxed with the process and the wait. Some of our preferences were changing as we learned to trust Him more and learn more about adoption in general. I began to desire to be matched with an expectant mom and dad (rather than just a mom).  

We continued to see a few situations here and there and presented maybe once or twice a month and then settled into another very busy summer. In July we began the process of updating our homestudy since our background checks would be expiring in August. Before we knew it it was September and things were settling back into routine. In mid-September I saw a situation for a baby girl due the end of October that I felt good about but the expectant parents said they desired a family with no other children. However, they would consider those that did have children. Keith was preparing to go out of town on business for a week so I told him about it and we decided to present but neither of us really thought much more about it. The middle of that week though we both got the best and most surprising call. We had been chosen! The expectant parents wanted to meet us so we flew a few weeks later to meet them and their three children. We fell in love with the whole family! So many little things on that trip provided even more confirmation for God that this is the family he had prepared us for so long to meet. We learned that what drew their attention to our profile was the dimple in Keith's chin. The expectant mom has a similar one and it was their desire for their daughter to look like her adopted family.

In mid-October we returned for the birth of our daughter Edyn. Her birth parents cared so much for her and loved her very much. We are sad that both of her birth parents currently desire a closed adoption. We pray that one day when their hearts have healed some that they may reach out to the agency and ask about Edyn so that she can know them and her siblings in some way and know how much they love her. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

If I Could Say One Thing...About the Cost of Adoption

Hands down the biggest concern most families have about adoption is the cost. I've written more about that here, but today adoptive families are sharing how they would finish this sentence

If I could say one thing about the cost of adoption...

It feels overwhelming the entire journey but God will provide! It is SOOOO worth it, the moment you hold that sweet little babe of yours.  - Katie

It’s worth every penny. God provides! - Mackensie

Overwhelming at times, but keep the faith and know that God provides as others said. Beyond that, we had peace of mind knowing our EM was getting proper care and even yet today 14 months after the birth of our precious son...she still had a resource of counseling and I know she has kept in contact with them. It feels good to know she is well taken care of.  - Angela

God uses this further His kingdom. On both our adoptions, I loved to see how God brought people to us, when we humbled ourselves to ask, to fundraise in amazing ways. It’s what stopped us for years to start the process and in the end it was not even a factor, just an absolute blessing.  - Jenny

To me, as a hopeful adoptive parent, the cost is the most stressful part. BUT I know every single penny will be worth it.  - Alicia

It will make you mad, discouraged, and worry that you will never have enough BUT luckily God always provides.   - Wendy

It’s to trust Gods timing & all the people around you that He works through.  - Jenni

Good financial management, budgeting, and consistent reminders of what you're working toward makes the financial undertaking more manageable. Set small savings goals - your resources will accumulate faster than you think. And you'll be surprised at the things you can do without when you compare it to what you're waiting for!  - Katie

Praaaaaaaaay! And put in a little elbow grease with asking, fundraising, etc. The Lord is so, so, so faithful to provide.  - Sarah

God will provide. He won't call you to adopt without providing financially. HE is good!  - Caroline

It's worth it. People I thought I could count on for help didn't come through and people who gave the most surprised me. It's a wild ride and I thought I had a plan but, God had a different one!  - Sarah

Though it may seem like a large number, don't be discouraged. There are many resources and generous people that will help. It will be well worth any amount.  - Nathan

For more in this series:

If I Could Say One Thing...About Beginning the Adoption Process

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Adoption Story: Kyle and Marisa

What happens when God takes your "yes" and answers unexpectedly? When the redemption you pray for comes in a completely surprising and even, at first, unwelcome way? This is part of Kyle and Marisa's story. And so often, on some level, a part of our story as well. Today on the blog, Marisa shares how they said "yes" to God, said "yes" to adoption, and eventually, received a huge and resounding "yes" from God through unbelievable answers to prayers and ways He wanted to work in their family. 

I remember vividly the first time I felt God planting the seed of adoption in my brain. I had just walked out of a doctor appointment during which I was told that I had at minimum a 30% chance of my severe preeclampsia coming back in a future pregnancy. This version of preeclampsia brought my daughter (who had already been diagnosed with a severe congenital heart defect) to us 10 weeks early. And it was likely if the syndrome returned in a second pregnancy, that it would show itself even earlier. Doctors still encouraged us to try to conceive (and we did unsuccessfully for a year). But one friend upon hearing the news asked if we had ever considered adoption. And the seed was planted.

I reacted to the idea adversely and bitterly. How dare she suggest such a thing? After what we had been through with our daughter, I was entitled to a smooth, redemptive pregnancy. Wasn’t I?!?!? 

Each month that we tried to conceive unsuccessfully, every month sitting in the bathroom waiting for blue lines that never showed themselves, this idea of a redemptive pregnancy seemed less and less appealing. Less and less necessary. Like the square I was trying to fit into a circle. While adoption increasingly became the perfect circle peg sitting right in front of our faces all along.

I called Christian Adoption Consultants in November of 2016 sitting outside my daughters' preschool. It was a call that sounded something like “Um... I think my husband and I are adopting..? What now?” Susan answered the phone, was so excited and encouraging about our decision, and told me the first few things that would need to be done and thought about. And just like that, we were hand-in-hand with Susan and CAC on this journey. 

Shortly after signing with CAC, I remember announcing our decision to my small group and asking for prayer over my home. I had an intuition that our home would be spiritually attacked during this process and boy, was I right. We were taking a brave step into the plans God was calling us into, but the evil forces of this world were doing everything they could to stop that from happening. Our home was attacked violently and from all fronts - financially, medically, relationally, spiritually. Our daughter, who was supposed to have her final open heart surgery in January of 2017, ended up going under anesthesia a total of 6 times this year. The major surgery didn’t end up happening until August 2017, after which she experienced a post-operative stroke which led her to be discharged needing support of oxygen tanks, physical and occupational therapy, and closer care of an even more extensive medical team.

We constantly wondered and prayed - God, is this you telling us that we aren’t supposed to be doing this right now or is this Satan keeping us from your plans for our family? We were receiving cases of babies that were supposed to be due after Addison’s surgery and then the surgery would get pushed again. We never knew what to say yes to, what was fair to the baby we would potentially be welcoming, what was fair to our child who currently needed our love and attention. I pleaded with God to show me what to do and asked Susan for her advice to which she responded, “The families that seem the most at peace with their decisions are the ones that just say ‘yes’ and let God open and shut doors for them.” So that was what we did.

We presented to a case in July (the second we had presented our profile book to) and found out just a few days later that we had been matched. Addison had her major surgery in August which, as mentioned, was studded with unforeseen complications and heartache.  And we spent the better part of September and October still reeling and recovering from all that had happened to our daughter. 

But then, our son Eli was born in November. His birth was smooth. His health impeccable. His incredible birth mama was so confident, and even proud that she was able to do this for our family. (Oh, how I could write an entire post on how my heart has been cracked wide open for her). And boy, oh boy, is he handsome.

He is now 5 weeks old and welcoming him into our family has just been a dream. Who he is and how he completes our home is such a testament to how intimately our God knows our hearts and what it is that we really need. 

Eli, as it turns out, IS our redemptive story after all. And while we aren’t “entitled” to it, he is an undeserved gift that has brought healing into the hurting places of this home. And he has re-focused our eyes on a good, good God who truly does have plans to prosper us. Even when it’s hardest to see it. 

I hesitated to share the truest version of our story because it’s not encouraging to hear the ways that a family is attacked after saying yes to this. But so often, we Christians think saying yes to Jesus equals comfort. We buy into an idea of a “security Gospel” - that following Jesus means we will be comfortable and prosperous, which is not an idea promised to us in the Bible. Adoption, like all the ways we choose to follow Jesus, requires you to step out of a comfortable boat into a storm, and choose to fix your eyes on Jesus instead of the raging waves. And while that’s not something that might make sense to the world around us, it is what we are called to do as Christ followers. I can promise you - PROMISE you - that God will write a much better, more rewarding, richer, fuller, kingdom-growing story for you out on the water. And it’ll be so much better than the one you want for yourself inside that boat.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

If I Could Say One Thing...About Beginning The Adoption Process

Today begins a new blog series, "If I could say one thing..." 

I asked adoptive and hopeful adoptive families how they would finish this sentence

If I could say one thing about beginning the adoption process...

"Don't let the thought of the money hinder your ability to be obedient. If God has called you to adopt, He will provide the means for you to get there."  - Amanda

It would be to let go of my expectations and fully embrace the journey God put before us.  - Jenni

God’s plan is predetermined. Don’t get discouraged, the wait is hard but worth every tear shed, worry feared and prayer prayed because the gift in the end is worth all of it!  - Breann

Do not fear! If God called you to this journey of adoption, He will see you through all the hurt and the hard parts to unimaginable joy with the little one He intended for you. Keep walking fearlessly in your faith.  - Katie

Trust in God in all ways. Do not fear the financial side, do not be discouraged. Gods timing is perfect.  - Angela

There will be tough times, there will be heart ache, disappointments, and sorrow, but amongst it all will eventually be the child that was meant to be yours, the child chose for you by God, and a love and beauty like you've never known.  - Danielle

To know that things are going to go unexpectedly. But that’s part of the beauty of adoption. It’s a time of fully surrendering to the Lord and relinquishing every bit of assumed control. It’s a time of beautiful growth and learning. Embrace it!  - Mackensie

Don't let all the ways you can adopt and all the path you can go down overwhelm you. Find people who have been on the path and benefit from their experience.  - Lisa

Don't give up on your dreams just because it seems to take longer or look different than you expected.  - Melissa

Be ready and on guard for spiritual attacks. We have an enemy who will do anything to keep orphans from Christian homes. (Though scary, this is the best advice we received)  - Audrey

Get an adoption consultant! (This may sound silly, but it's the first thing I tell anyone who asks me for advice!)  - Katie 

Throw your expectations out... It will never end up the way you think it will.  - Nathan

If you are open to adopting outside your race, set down all your defenses and start researching and listening to adults who were transracially adopted.  - Natalie

Don't let the paperwork overwhelm you and don't let people's negative words sway you from your future family". "Have Faith, God already knows your baby.  - Wendy

Read the Connected Child and learn as much about trauma as possible.  - Brittany

Prepare for God to stretch you, change you and show you love in ways you didn't know possible.  - Caroline

Do it. Taking that first step was the scariest thing.  - Claudia

God hears our prayers, so pray a lot and pray boldly!  - Kayla

It will be stressful and scary, but at the end of the journey you will find the child that God created for your family, and that is the most beautiful gift on earth. Just trust Him and keep on walking in the path he set you on.  - Kim

I promise you will be parents! Maybe not the way you expected or when you expected, but you will be parents ! (For us it was a time that we thought we would ever be parents and someone said this the first few weeks into adoption and it made the world of difference).  - Becca

When adoption comes knocking on your door, you have two choices; open it to see what God has for you on the other side... or, leave it closed. Ask yourself, "five years from now... twenty years from now... fifty years from now... will I be happy with my decision?" Some of the greatest things we have ever been a part of, came from the biggest leaps we were willing to take… and we knew that we would forever wonder what might have happened if we didn’t open the door, take the chance, and leap into the unknown…If you never leap, you will never know what it feels like to fly. ~The Movie, “Leap”  - Amy

Thinking about taking that first step yourself? Feel free to email me! I'd love to send you an info packet and answer any questions you have!

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