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.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Adoption Story: Preston and Sarah

I remember the first time I talked to Sarah. What started as a typical call asking about adoption and our services soon became so much more.  I remember my voice catching in my throat as I heard their story. One son I could hear playing in the background as Sarah talked and one daughter in Heaven. When someone shares that kind of sorrow mixed with the most beautiful faith and hope, it becomes a sacred moment. I didn't know how then, but I knew God was in the midst of a redemptive and beautiful story. Not because I could see the future or had confidence in a process. But because God does things like that. He can make beauty from ashes, joy from mourning, and redemption from pain and suffering. 

Today it's worth it to grab a cup of your favorite coffee or tea, pull up a chair, and read how God did just that with this family...

"I've been thinking about adoption," I said as we drove to Children's Hospital for the last time.

"Me too," said my husband.

With tears in our eyes and the deepest of sorrow in our souls, we spent three more bittersweet days with our dying daughter. We surrendered her to Jesus, ushered her into heaven, and drove home with an empty back seat, weary and overcome with grief.

Our almost 2-year-old son was once again an only child.

This was not how we had imagined growing our family.

We always knew that adoption would be a part of our lives, but in our perfect plan we would have our biological children first and then continue to add children through adoption.

But after two unplanned, albeit necessary, c-sections, my body was now limited in how many children I could grow in my own womb. Additionally, I needed to wait at least a year until trying to conceive again.

Even assuming my next pregnancy and delivery would happen without any complications, the thought of waiting that long to have another child felt like an eternity.

Maybe God was leading us down the road of adoption now. Or maybe we were crazy. 

Were we being impulsive? Were we just desperate for a baby to hold? Were we rushing through our grief?

We prayed and prayed. We sought counsel from people who love us enough to tell us the truth. And the resounding affirmation was: Yes. Adoption.

It had always been on our hearts, so we knew we weren't being impulsive.

We did long for a baby, but we knew we weren't desperate. We weren't grasping for a rebound baby. No child could ever replace our daughter. We were seeking a beautiful, unique addition to our family. We love being parents and we desire to have several children. We wanted to keep growing our family.

We weren't rushing through our grief. Adoption takes time. And we knew that our grief would change and certain healing would come even as we continued to move forward.

So we took our first step and contacted Christian Adoption Consultants and our local agency for a home study.

Then we filled out mounds of paperwork. We prayed. We went through hours of training. We cried. We read piles of articles. We grieved. We completed a laborious home study. We hoped. Then we were ready to start presenting to expectant birth families. We waited.

And a whole new wave of doubt and fear crept into our hearts. What if the adoption fails and we lose another baby? What if the birth family lies to us about health issues? What if we unknowingly get matched with a very sick baby? Our hearts can't possibly endure the NICU again. Or worse yet, death. What if...?

But it seemed like every fear we uttered in prayer was replaced with a stronger promise from the heart of God.

I will never leave you or forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)
There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out fear. (1 John 4:18)
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. (Psalm 23:4)
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

There are no guarantees in adoption. There are no guarantees with biological children. But these things are guaranteed: God is loving. God restores. God sees. God redeems. God heals. God saves. God is powerful. God is for me. God provides. God is good.

Day by day, we trusted God to direct our path in his perfect will.

And then we got the call - just 5 1/2 months after beginning our adoption journey. We were chosen by a courageous birth mother in West Virginia. Her baby boy was due on August 5th - less than a month away.

On August 8th he made his grand entrance into the world:
Sawyer Levi / 8 lb. 7 oz. / 20 in.

In God's sovereign plan, he chose to intersect the lives of our family with Sawyer's birth family, each with our own journey of heartache, and forever join our hearts through the life of this beautiful baby.

We spent three precious days in the hospital with our baby and his birth mom, then we drove home with a sleeping infant in the back seat, our hearts brimming with restored joy and a renewed sense of hope.

On April 10th he officially and forever became a part of our family.

It's almost impossible to describe all of the ways Sawyer has enriched our lives. Or the ways God has used him as an instrument of healing in our hearts. Or the elation we feel when Caleb kisses and hugs his little brother, reads to him, comforts him, and pokes him a little too hard like big brothers do. Or the ways our faith has been strengthened because God called us out into the unknown.

We know all too well that not every story has a happy ending on this side of heaven. But we know with an even deeper confidence that "in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purposes" (Romans 8:28).

We praise the Lord that he can miraculously bring beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61),  that he can take seeds of sorrow and create joy (Psalm 126:5), that he withholds no good thing from those whose walk is blameless (Psalm 84:11).

This is certainly not the way we imagined growing our family. But we are thankful that we've never walked alone. And we are thankful that even though sorrow may last for a night, joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).

We now have a little blue-eyed cutie pie to snuggle with every day, squishy cheeks to cover with kisses, and tiny toes to tickle. His laughter and gummy smile fill our home with endless delight. We have this incredible baby to love and cherish and nurture.

The Lord has done great things. And we can finally say:

Welcome to our family Sawyer Levi Smith. We love you forever, our dear son.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

What to Expect When She's Not Expecting

Colin and Kendal are in the midst of their adoption journey and have chosen to share their experience and story at Finding Our Arrows, praying it will also encourage others. Today Colin shares transparently about how their struggle with infertility has impacted him as a husband and how he's learned to support his wife through it as well. I'm thrilled to share a man's perspective of infertility, grief, and hope.

I’m sorry, what? “There is less than a 2% chance you can naturally conceive a child.” No, no, you must be mistaken. This must be some cruel joke; after all, it is April Fool’s Day.  “Less than a 2% chance.” But we followed the plan – we both graduated college, I finished law school and passed the bar…we even recently started building a house! Now it is time to start building our family, too! All of our friends are pregnant – surely this is wrong! But the doctor wasn’t wrong. And on that day, April 1, 2014, our lives were turned upside down. 
For those husbands whose families are struggling with infertility and adoption, trying to cope with the heartache, and searching for what to do next all while attempting to faithfully lead their families through such a trying time. Guys, this post is for you. Trust me, I understand and can empathize with the challenges and struggles you are facing; with the feelings of doubt, anger, and confusion. And because of that, I wanted to share with you a few lessons God has taught me through our journey. I’m no expert, but these are just a few of the thoughts and perspectives I’ve gained from our experience thus far.
My first encouragement is men, if your wife is struggling with infertility, make sure you allow time to grieve. Ecclesiastes 3:4 says “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”  Kendal and I received our infertility diagnosis in April 2014. At the same time, we were in the process of building our first home, so questions of wall color, furniture placement, and landscaping filled our minds. After closing on our home that June, our life settled down a bit. So, during a summer evening walk, and just a few months after receiving our tragic diagnosis, I brought up to Kendal the idea of adoption.  My comments were met with silence.
You see (spoiler alert), men and women think differently. Men are fixers and problem solvers.  In my mind, infertility + wanting a family = adoption.  This logically made sense to me.  But I missed the mourning and grieving part. Kendal wasn’t ready. She was still working and processing what such a diagnosis really meant. And I jumped waaaaaaay ahead of her, unrealistically expecting her to be on the same page as me. So men, take the time to grieve and mourn with your wife. And trust me, we did and still continue to do so, both together and individually. I still struggle with this, but I’m learning to stop, slow down, and just wait for her. We both wanted a family, and obviously both came to the decision of adoption, but take time to mourn and grieve with your spouse. Cry with her, hug her, love her. While adoption may be in your future, and perhaps it is God’s plan for you, it is ok to take the time to be sad. 
Secondly, realize that just because you made a plan, that doesn’t mean God has to fit Himself into it.  Proverbs 16:9 says “A man makes a plan in his heart, but God directs his path.” Kendal and I met while we were in college (Geaux Tigers!) and were engaged in December 2009.  I was in law school at the time, so we weren’t “ready” for kids.  But once I finished and passed the bar in 2012, we wanted to add to the two of us.  We thought we were ready – it was just “time” to have children.  All our friends were pregnant and asking us when we would have children.  They spoke as if it were a guaranteed outcome. But it just wasn’t happening for us.  God wasn’t fitting Himself into our timeline – into what we thought we wanted and when we wanted it.
For two people who like plans, schedules, and being in control, this is a tough one to learn. God isn’t restricted to what our feeble minds can imagine, but just as He told the prophet Habakkuk, He is “doing a work…that you would not believe if told.” So, just remember, it is ok to not have the answers. Believe me, I know the pain of waiting and wanting a child and feeling so lonely when all your friends are pregnant and something just isn’t right.  But God is in control. The Proverbs writer puts it like this, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” 
Lastly, above all else, and while it may be difficult to see at the moment, these struggles are just light and momentary. I know that sounds like nonsense while you are enduring your trials, but that is how the apostle Paul describes them in 2 Corinthians 4:17 when he writes “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” In other words, Paul, writing with eternity in view, weighs his present trials against future glory and discovers his trials are actually working for him. So when your world seems to fall around you, when you and your wife are devastated by terrible news, remember that these experiences are paled in comparison with what is to come. And that is something to take hope in – your light and momentary struggles are producing something much better for you! And that is eternal rest with our Father in Heaven. 
I hope this post is helpful to you. Believe me, infertility and adoption isn’t just something you “get over” and move on from. But these are just a few of the many lessons I’ve learned which I hope will encourage you during your time of struggle. 

To follow along with Colin and Kendal's story, you can find their blog at Finding Our Arrows.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Lie of Adoption

Adoption is full of choices.
What kind of adoption will you pursue: domestic, international, foster care?
Which agency will your work with? What attorney will help you finalize? What other adoption professionals will you work with?

What kind of child are you open to in regards to age, race, siblings, etc.? 

What kind of openness will you share with the birth family?
The choices seem endless once you begin your adoption. You realize there are many paths to take and deciding which is the best for your family is an important part of the process. Adoption is also full of checklists and paperwork. There's a tremendous amount of forms to complete, boxes of preferences to check, and appointments to schedule.

In some sense all of these choices that are available are a blessing. There's tremendous value in doing your research and finding the best fit for your family. There's wisdom in researching all of your choices, educating yourself on what is out there, and prayerfully making decisions as a couple. And being in a space where you are accomplishing tasks that get you closer to bringing a baby home are exciting and life-giving. 

BUT. All of these choices also create a false sense of control in adoption.

Because at some point in your journey, you are left to wait. The choices have been made. The paperwork is complete. The nursery has been decorated. The baby registry is finished. And you're left with seemingly nothing else to do but wait...

And the choice is left to someone else. An expectant family looking over profiles, making their own choices about the future of their child. You realize the control you thought you had isn't near as much as you had hoped.

When all the "doing" is done, the lie of control lingers and can leave you grasping at a false sense of security and comfort. The choices being made in this stage of adoption are just as endless. But this time, they are not yours to make.
When will we be chosen?
What can we do to make sure we're chosen?

Is the expectant mom making healthy choices for her pregnancy?

How will our time at the hospital unfold?  
What if none of this works out in the end? 
This is where the adoption process can become completely overwhelming, fear-inducing, and anxiety ridden. To the point that it can even lead a family to be completely paralyzed and shaken that they are no longer in control and it's all left up to "fate."

But it doesn't have to feel this way. Our fears don't have to become controlling. Our anxiety doesn't have to become our mode of operation during the adoption process. And we don't even have to ensure we have complete control over our adoption.

We can rest, because the truth is we're never really in total control of our lives.

Even while struggling with infertility, you can't ever make yourself get pregnant even if you eat all the right things and take all the right medications at all the right times. Even with a biological pregnancy you can't choose the gender or guarantee the health of the baby. And with many other situations in our lives, there's so much that's simply outside of our control.

While initially that can be a horribly unnerving thought, it can also be incredibly freeing.

What if God's plans are better for us?  

I've found there's a crucial step that every adoptive family needs to come to in order to have peace and contentment through the adoption process. You can hold on to control so tightly that you actually miss what God has for you. Or you can release your white-knuckled grip on your plans and hand them to Jesus. 

But how? How do you overcome the fear and the "what ifs" and the inability to control outcomes in adoption?

Practically, the best way I've seen couples do this is to walk through every open door they have in front of them. Then, prayerfully ask God to slam that door shut if it's not His will. There's always a tension in adoption (and in every aspect of our lives) where we weigh good, solid, common sense and wisdom with a confident and reckless faith. When we ask the Holy Spirit to take the lead. And when we do all we can then leave it with God to do the rest. Sometimes taking the first step can feel like taking a leap off the ledge. But sometimes, knowing when to let God take over is even more challenging.

The lie of adoption (and all of life) is that we are in control. But the beauty is that God is in perfect control and completely trustworthy.

In the end, it's God who creates families. He knows best. His timing is perfect.

And when He is the author, God always writes the best stories.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. 
{Ephesians 3:20-21}

For more encouragement in the wait...

Monday, April 3, 2017

Adoption Story: Brandon and Erin

What a joy it was working with Brandon and Erin as they brought their son home through adoption! Although sweet babies are born often into our CAC family, the telling never gets old. Each family has a personal and beautiful way God answered prayers, a brave birth mother who made an adoption plan, and a unique story of their family adding a sweet baby. Today Erin shares their journey from a family of two to three...

It’s finally official! We finalized the adoption of our son, Sam, last week. We are forever a family and it feels so good to rest in this certainty. Although our adoption story began from infertility, we shortly realized that this was God’s plan to grow our family all along. Not knowing where to begin, I searched online and found Susan with Christian Adoption Consultants. I immediately saw her love for adoption and heart for Christ from her blog and contacted her the next day. Susan provided so much guidance throughout the entire adoption process. She was always accessible and answered all of our many questions. Susan was there every step of the way and I enjoyed sharing our adoption journey with her. 

We started the adoption process in January of 2016. By the end of February we had completed our home study and by March we had applied to a few agencies. Next came the wait. Waiting to be matched was such a challenging part of the process. Now looking back, it was during this time that God was working the most. He was always present and with every “no” we received, he was there holding us and preparing our hearts for our baby. God was teaching us patience, trust, and how to surrender all our fears and anxiety to Him. During this time, it reminded me that God is intentional in all his acts, even in his unanswered prayers. It took 8 “no’s” to get a final “yes” and on September 29, 2016 we were matched! 

As we waited for “E’s” due date, one thing that surprised me was that I was the one wanting more openness and communication than she. I wanted to to know more about her and build a relationship. She on the other hand was not comfortable communicating just yet, which we respected of course. 

On December 21, 2016, Samuel was born. We met him and “E” for the first time at the hospital and it was truly a beautiful moment that I will always cherish. We admired “E’s” strength and courage that she had chosen adoption, and felt honored that she had selected us. We had a nesting room at the hospital and loved spending every second bonding with our new baby boy. The next 72 hours were a rollercoaster to say the least, and God was there too. Our prayers were answered and we have loved being a family of three ever since.

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