Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Congratulations Tim and Stacey

Tim and Stacey began consulting with me in January, were home study ready in February, and were matched in June. Theirs is a story of twists and turns. There was heartache and loss and hardship.

So when they were matched with a birth family several months ago, they decided to keep quiet about it. Going through the adoption process can be emotionally draining and they wanted to save their energy to love well.

For months that's exactly what they did. They built long-lasting relationships with the birth family and loved when there was enormous risk.

And then their beautiful daughter, Norah Aliyah was born on September 20. The months of holding their breath and guarding their hearts was over and she was theirs by the very next day.

After discharge from the hospital, they made the announcement to family and friends that they were parents. You can imagine the tears and the hugs and the joyful laughter that this family had gone from two to a beautiful three in what their friends and family thought was overnight.

This was the picture friends and family saw on Facebook and Instragram
as they announced they were parents

But I know Tim and Stacey will treasure their time of waiting and hoping as a sweet time when they fell in love with this little girl. She was worth all of it.

Congrats, Tim and Stacey. It's been an honor watching you love so well. Adoption is so worth the risk.

For more information about our services, please contact me at

Monday, September 24, 2012

Adoption Lactation Counseling Services

Since breastfeeding my babies, I've been passionate about breastfeeding: the bond it creates like no other and the innumerable health benefits if offers. (Not to mention the cost savings and efficiency). In 2007 I became a Certified Lactation Counselor and loved how easily it fit into my job as a social worker. At the time I worked in Michigan at a prenatal clinic for the under-served and had the opportunity to teach women how to breast feed who originally thought it wasn't for them. I also served on Kent County's Breastfeeding Task Force and helped start the "Free to Feed" Campaign. After moving to Kansas City, I continued to work in breastfeeding helping adoptive mothers. I love that two of my passions; adoption and breastfeeding, can intersect through Adoption Lactation Counseling Services.

Most adoptive mothers don't know this is even an option! They assume that this special relationship is not possible to have with their adopted child. I'm thrilled to begin offering information, counseling, and support services that can make it possible!

Breastfeeding Your Adopted Baby

It is possible to breastfeed your adopted baby! For parents wanting to give their babies the benefits of breast milk and the bonding and unequaled nutrition breast feeding provides, inducing lactation and relactation is possible. Inducing lactation is establishing a milk supply in a woman who has never been pregnant. Relactation is the reestablishment of lactation after a mother has had a cessation of milk supply. The uterus and ovaries are not necessary for induction, only the pituitary gland and breasts are needed. 

The keys to successfully breastfeeding your adopted baby are patience, determination, and support. It will be a full time job to nurse as frequently as possible. The journey is time consuming and challenging but the rewards of feeding your baby and establishing a special bond are invaluable. 

With breastfeeding your adoptive baby comes unique challenges and hurdles. Adoption Lactation Services can assist with inducing lactation/relactation and the critical support needed to make breastfeeding your adopted baby successful and rewarding.

Adoption Lactation Counseling Services

Services include:
  • Phone conferencing
  • Ongoing support and encouragement
  • Extensive information and resource packet (includes detailed protocol on inducing lactation/relactation)
  • Special advice unique to breastfeeding an adopted child
  • Medications and galactagogues
  • Use of feeding tube devices
  • Expressing your milk
  • Discussing your choice to breast feed with the birth family and your family and friends

If you would like to find out more about Adoption Lactation Counseling Services, please email me at for more information.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

We Do Things Together Around Here...

...Including breaking arms. You can read about the monkey bar fiasco with Jackson here.

Last Tuesday (9/11) I got this email from Isabelle's teacher:
Dear VanSyckle's,
Just wanted to let you know that Isabelle fell at noon recess.  Her arm is sore and I think it is bruised.  She had ice on it and says it still hurts.  She can bend it but I thought you might want to check it out when she gets home.
I didn't really think twice. Let's just say our Isabelle has a flair for the dramatic. As in she typically milks injuries for all they've got.  I'm so looking forward to thirteen. It's gonna be awesome.

So when I picked her up from school and not moving her arm, I got a little concerned. Even more concerning: no drama. Just a limp arm and complaints of pretty bad pain. The no drama was my clue to head to the local children's hospital asap.  My thought: I just need an x-ray to assure me all is well and it's a sprain.

And wouldn't you know it: broken. A left radial fracture. Same exact break as Jack, same place, just different arm.

So, Isabelle went for a week with a splint and a sling (including all wrapped up at her birthday party). And then for her birthday she got her cast - bright pink of course.  It didn't come without it's perks though. When you get a cast for your birthday you also get to play hooky from school. She had a "daddy date" at the hospital and we all met up at McDonald's for lunch. Then she got to pick up Krispy Kremes for her little class celebration.  Back at school they ate donuts and had a cast signing party. 

We called Jack's the monkey bar fiasco. We're calling this one deja vu. We've laid it down that there are no more broken bones for the year. Or if there is, do it before our insurance deductible restarts in January.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

She's 7 Today

Isa, last night I put you to bed with a kiss and a blessing and you were 6. And this morning you woke up and now you're 7. I love that today is a day to celebrate you: your life and you're amazing addition and blessing to our family.

You are spunky and sassy. This sometimes leads to trouble but mostly it leads to my eyes wide at your wit and humor. You make me and your daddy laugh like crazy and remind me to giggle. You already know how to be sarcastic and toss your hair and wiggle your eyebrows when you ask me a question hoping things will go your way.

You love passionately. You do everything with gusto. You are fierce in your compassion and friendship and belief in justice and God's love.

You are eager to learn about the world around you. You devour books and begin conversations with, "Mom, did you know..." And the crazy thing is, I don't. You've started to ask questions I don't know the answers to. Or questions I do know the answers to but don't want to tell you quite yet. You teach me a ton about life, about how to be a good mama, about how to appreciate small things and big things I sometimes don't notice.

Happy birthday, sweet girl.  I can't wait to see what this year will hold...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pancakes & Pajamas

Isabelle asked for a slumber party for her 7th birthday this year. Since I'm generally not a fan of little girls crying in the middle of the night and overall d-r-a-m-a, I tried to steer her another route. It worked this time and I'm hoping to eek out another ten years or so. We'll see.

We decided to have a "Pancakes & Pajama's" party and it was a hit. It was an easy theme to run with (thank you Pinterest).

"Eye Mask" invites

The funny thing is, I am not crafty. I have key Martha Stewart and mothering skills that are missing from my DNA (things like sewing and cooking and baking and generally being soft and quiet). Case in point: that fantastic banner you see in our dining room? Triangle quilt scraps on clearance stapled on twine. Pretty sure Martha would never do that. But I had a blast planning this easy party that we spent a total of $50 on. Win.

Pedis for the girls

The girls loved all the activities centered the slumber party and breakfast theme. I did pedicures for each girl, we played charades (the girls pulled little clouds out of a pillowcase for the clues), made fruit loop necklaces, and played dress up in the "photo booth" I created in our backyard. The little ladies also decorated frames and we had the pics printed for them to go home with.

Jamy made this amazing pancake birthday cake stack. You can find the recipe here. We've decided this will be a new birthday morning tradition since they were so yummy. We created a pancake bar with chocolate chips, fruit, and whipped topping. It was amazing and the girls loved building their pancakes. He also made these adorable "bacon and eggs."

What photo booth isn't complete without feather boas and lips?

Jackson even got in on the action.  You can see he's thrilled.

I'm not a fan of little bags of  junk "goodies" that eventually every mother throws out. So I decided to make the girls personalized pillow cases. This is how the conversation went with the clerk at the local craft store after explaining what I wanted to do:
Her: So what you want to do is a blah-blah-blah stitch around each letter (understand she did not say blah-blah-blah but this is definitely what I heard)
Me: Okay. What if I don't sew...
Her:  Sure. Then you just want to do a simple yadda-yadda-yadda stitch (again, pretty sure she didn't say yadda-yadda-yadda...)
Me:  Right. What if I really don't sew... 
We then came to a mutual understanding that I should outline with puffy paint full-on 80's style. I thought this was doable considering I mastered this art making sweet t-shirts and hats in girl's camp. I went with glow-in-the-dark paint which dried clear and was cheered by all the girls when they discovered it. Win for me for not sewing. What blah-blah-blah stitch can do that?!

Um, yes.  We let our daughter with an injured arm play in the bounce castle. At one point Jamy and I looked at each other, shocked upon realizing this, and then continued to let her jump with her friends. Luckily, no runs to Children's Mercy (that day).

Isabelle is already blessed with sweet little friends. I am blessed that there are only six girls in her class.  Although her best friend couldn't make it (ok - so we didn't deter all the drama). I love the thought of helping Isabelle create memories with these precious girls and her brother.

So, the Pancakes & Pajamas Party was a success. Now I have a year to think of how to celebrate my girl another year...

*For those of you wondering what happened to Bella's arm, that's coming in a post later this week (it deserves a post all of it's own...)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

On Multitasking and Mothering

I am an amazing multi-tasker. I love being able to work from home because within one hour I can run the kids to school, answer emails, make a conference call, throw a load of laundry in, text a friend, and blog (I may have just described this morning). It's rare that I can just sit. If I'm waiting for the kids to get out of school in the car line, I'm reading a book. If I'm watching TV I'm also working on a project. If I'm at the doctor's office I'm checking emails while I'm in a gown. If I'm in the car I'm listening to a podcast. I'm all about making the most of my time.

Then I had kids. In some ways, multi-tasking becomes necessary. Sleeping and breastfeeding. Grocery shopping, bouncing a baby, talking on the phone, and maneuvering the one year old from eating the gum stuck to the cart. You become a pro at doing a dozen things at once as a mama.

But to my astonishment there were other things I couldn't multi-task AT ALL. Discipline and talking on the phone never go together. Mamas, you know what I mean. You're on a business call and your kids decide now is the perfect time to dress up the dog. First you give the eyebrow raise (my mother perfected the wary brows) that communicate "I don't think that's a good idea guys." You note the poor dog is struggling to get away from the Barbie Princess gown. You now shoot the look. Interpreted, the look is universal for "quit if you know what's good for you." But now elbows are being thrown between siblings fighting between if the tiara or the knight helmet will look best on the poor dog. So the death stare is now given but horribly missed by all the rolling and screaming and kicking and not-so-kind words exchanged between siblings while you talk calmly and sweetly to the person on the other end of the phone and quietly lock yourself in a closet to finish the conversation about how wonderful adoption and parenting and children are.

And it's not just discipline that is impossible to multi-task. It's homework and bedtimes and van rides and meals and devotions and conversations. Essentially whenever my kids are awake. Most days I'm part referee/part cruise ship director as a mom and it takes ALL OF ME.

I forget that with all of this multi-tasking, my primary task is to shepherd my kids hearts. To teach them how crazy Jesus is about them and how to trust Him. To show them that I'm pretty crazy about them too and care about all of the details of their lives.

Admittedly, I need reminding of this often. I'm tempted to check my email, do a chore, or answer the phone when I should be fully engaged with Isabelle and Jackson. Most of the time, all of these tasks can easily be done after they're tucked in bed. This is where my hyper Type A personality that never procrastinates gets me into trouble. Instead of being present with my kids it's easy for me to be busy "doing" rather than simply being with them. So I have to consciously shut the lap top, put up my iPhone to ignore calls and texts, and put off tasks for later.

Even though my children need clean clothes and food in their bellies, even more than that they need a mama who is fully present, engaged, and connected.  Leading their hearts well can only happen when I am down on their level, looking into their eyes, and spending my time and energy wholeheartedly on them.

I want to soak up everything about their childhood and refuse to miss it because I was too busy multi-tasking. I woke up to both of them snuggled up in our bed this morning. Instead of rushing them out of bed so everyone would have enough time to get ready for school, I savored just doing one thing: loving that I have the amazing gift of being their mama.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Stopping the Glorification of Being Busy

Last November our lives stopped. Because of crisis. Because of necessity. Life had been whirling out of control for years and neither Jamy or I had seen it coming.

We had reached a point where even if we had tried to keep going, we couldn't. During that time we did a lot: play therapy for the kids, counseling for us, and spending a lot of time with Jesus. But mostly, we just stopped.

We stopped filling life with stuff. Attending events, getting together with friends, serving at church, sports for the kids, and volunteering at school all took a backseat. We took more than six months where the only thing we did as a family was be together as a family.

Anything past necessity simply didn't happen. Anything past showering, eating, going to work, and getting the kids to school just fell off the radar. The only thing that mattered was making sure our family was ok.

You know what happened? We lost relationships. People were offended. Friends and family didn't get it. But our family thrived. We started healing. We spent time together. We no longer felt rushed or scattered or stressed. Other people didn't get much of Jamy or I (friends or church or boards) but our kids did. The three people who mattered most to me were getting my undivided attention.

When "family time" wasn't a scheduled trip to the zoo or movie night I found that I had way more time to be available to my husband and my kids. Conversations happened naturally. When I didn't feel rushed on a Saturday morning I had time to play basketball with Jackson or do a craft with Isabelle. Phone calls and emails waited. My family didn't.  

This world tells us that to be busy is to be important. The more full our iCal is the more useful and valuable we are. The more sports teams and art classes and dance recitals our kids are in the more well-rounded they are. The more places we serve the more good we're doing.

I once heard the greatest enemy of best is good. I found that becoming true in my own life. I was involved in a lot of good things: volunteering at church, serving on social service boards, hosting dinner parties and play dates, attending the kids soccer games, and on and on it went. All good things. All fun things.

But I've come to realize they were all distracting things. All of these "good" things were coming before spending intentional time with my family. The best way I can use my time is by focusing on what I want to do best.  Loving Jesus, loving Jamy, and loving Isabelle and Jackson well. This is what matters most.

Yes, I want to be a good adoption consultant, and friend, and church member, and...the list goes on and on. But ultimately God has called me to do three things: Child of God, wife, mama. When I let other things creep in (good things even), I can so easily lose sight of what I'm really trying to do.

So now we're creating a new normal. One where calendars are cleared for things that really matter. We're careful not to add what we "should" do and only what helps us achieve family goals of loving God and others well. We've started to slowly have friends over and serve at church again. But most evenings are spent over a lazy dinner, family game, and reading to the kids. When the kids go to bed J and I have a chance to read and talk and connect.

I'm still learning how to do this. My heart is still drawn to lots of good things rather than the best things. I often have Jamy ban me from my iPhone after a certain time at night and need to shut the laptop. We're learning how to be more purposeful about not being busy in order to focus on intentionally creating space for the relationships that matter most.

I like not being busy.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Adoption and The Gospel

Each time I testify at a finalization hearing, the legal process before a judge that concludes a family's long adoption journey, I cry. At the hearing, the judge ensures that all legal requirements have been met and that the adoption is in the best interests of the child, a Decree of Adoption is signed, and a new birth certificate is issued with the adoptive couple listed as a the child's parents.

And then it's done. A child forever has a new name. A home. A destiny. I cry because something so much bigger than a court hearing is happening  Something happens in the heavens. Something that's eternal. There is nothing that mirrors the gospel here on earth better than adoption.

This is the beautiful Parsons family who are living out the gospel...
Adoption is costly

This sweet little guy was left alone in a hospital NICU. His birth mother was not in a season to parent and didn't even know she was pregnant when she went into labor 11 weeks early. So this tiny baby, born weighing less than three pounds needed a family.

The Parsons know about cost.  When I called about this little one and outlined his significant medical needs, they knew they were stepping into a situation full of unknowns. They were not only stepping into financial burdens, but long-lasting medical issues, the complexities that go into a having a multi-racial family, and multiple unknowns. But within hours they knew this little one was their son and they named him Zion, without even meeting him yet.

And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for the adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  (Romans 8:23)

We're all born orphaned. This groaning Paul was talking about is the inward cry of every soul to be loved and cared for. To be seen and heard.

When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.  (Galatians 4:4-5)

Many believers miss this. Our adoption is founded on the work of Christ on the cross.  Our adoption was costly We have been saved from being left alone in this world as spiritual orphans.

Adoption, in it's purest form, is never "plan B"

The most amazing couples I've met have said "Yes" to adoption in the most non-traditional forms. They've said yes to babies who don't match their family portrait, yes to adoption before they had a "no" to having biological kids, and yes when their dining room and van were already full. The Parsons said yes to a little boy they weren't even sure would live past the first few weeks of life.

Because these families understand that "perfect" on our terms was never God's plan. Sometimes we think that God wanted a perfect world full of perfect people who could perfectly obey. But God had a much grander plan of creation and rescue and redemption.

He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy ad blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.  (Ephesians 1:4-6)

The American Dream should never be our hope. The big house, big boat, and 2.5 kids behind the white picket fence is not where peace and contentment really lie. Families who choose adoption are never compromising by giving those things up. They are entering into God's rescue and redemption plan in their living rooms.

Adoption means sonship and inheritance

Once an adoption is final, a child gets a new name.  The adoption is legally binding. And the one adopted obtains all the rights and privileges as any biological son or daughter would.

Because you are sons, God has send the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba!  Father!" So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, than an heir through God.  (Galations 4:6-7)

The Spirit himself bears witness with out spirit that we are children of God, and if childnre, than heirs - heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.  (Romans 8:16-17)

At our adoption, we are given a new life; a new family and an entire kingdom to inherit. Our identity and inheritance are now through Christ.

At each of these finalization hearings there is almost always a collective sigh of relief.  There is completion. There is finalization. There is fulfillment of hope.

Adoption is sacrifice. Adoption is messy. Adoption is beautiful. Adoption is what we were created for.

Adoption is the gospel. May it be on earth as it is in Heaven.

Watch Zion's adoption day and see your adoption in a new light...


For more of the Parsons beautiful story and family, check their blog here.
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