Six Things I’d Like You to Know About Adoption {adoption is not perfect}

November is National Adoption Awareness Month in the US.  It is a month when we celebrate and advocate for adoption.  Being an adoptive parent myself, I fully understand the highs and lows of it.  If you are considering building your family through adoption (especially after years of infertility), here are a few things I’d like for you to know.

  1. Even with the joys of adoption, there is sorrow.  You will find that you love your child or children so much that you grieve for their life stories.  You know that they have come to you after a tremendous amount of hardship and despair of their birth parent(s).  With adoption, comes loss.  Helping your children understand and grieve this is part of your responsibility as a parent.
  2. You won’t and can’t have all of the right words at the right time.  People may say things to you that just throw you off.  You usually find the right response hours later and after the moment is gone.  There are also questions and statements that your children will state at the most random of times.  Just be prepared to not be prepared times like this, because they will happen.
  3. Adoption doesn’t stop at the declaration of the Judge.  I’ve said it before, but in many ways, adoption is an evolutionary process.  As your children grow up, they will yearn for answers from you, and they will want to know more about their histories and birth families.  This is natural and should not be taken as a negative.  Your children love you.  They just want to know more.
  4. You will have moments when infertility still sneaks up on you.  Let me give you an example.  Recently, I spoke at an infertility conference hosted by a local church.  I had prepared what I was going to say and tried to stay on target.  About mid-way through, I found myself struggling to hold back tears.  I said, “I would not trade my kids for anyone else’s.  I just wish I would have carried them in my body.”   This statement was not planned.  It hit me like a ton of bricks.  These feelings and waves of emotions will stick with you long after adoption.
  5. You have to be flexible and adaptive in your approach to parenting.  As much as family members adore and deeply loves my children, I still catch them saying things like, “You never acted like that as a child.”  Typically, the way we parent is either very similar to our parents or it can be the exact opposite (if raised in an abusive, neglectful or troubled home).  I recall being a sensitive child and just the thought of making my mother cry was enough for me to stop whatever I was doing.  I’d like to be able to parent the same way or have the same expectations of my children, but I’ve learned that I cannot and must not do this.  I’ve had to adapt and be flexible about my expectations and approach to parenting.  What works for my friends’ kids or worked for me as a child, won’t work for mine, and that’s okay.
  6. Adoption is so amazing.  There is a deep joy that dwells within you when you look at the children whom God picked for you.  It is hard to describe and a bit ironic in how you just know that your kids were meant to be yours.  Is it perfect?  No.  Does it always go smoothly?  Absolutely not.  However, it is hard to deny that adoption is an amazing and incredible experience.

In celebration of National Adoption Awareness Month, we should focus not only on children and older youth in need of adoption and adoptive families but also on the authentic and honest sharing of experiences and lessons gained through adoption.

Adoption is not perfect, but my friends, neither are we.

5 Things Every Adoption Social Workers Wants to tell to Hopeful Adoptive Parents {Adoption.com article}

Recently, I wrote an article for Adoption.com regarding five things adoption social workers want to tell to hopeful adoptive parents.  It was really difficult to list just five things, as there are so many facets and nuggets of wisdom that social workers can share with families!

From my experience both working in the field and as an adoptive parent, I narrowed down to the five things that I feel are most important for hopeful adoptive families to be aware of and consider.  You can read the article by clicking on the link below:

5 Things Every Adoption Social Workers Want to tell to Hopeful Adoptive Parents

If you are a social worker in the field of adoption, what advice do you give to adoptive parents?  If you are an adoptive parent (or hoping to be one soon), what is the best advice you have been given by a social worker?  I’m curious to hear your thoughts!

Blessings,

Caroline

Just for Fun: Adoption Meme

htmu3 (1)This is a meme I made the other night just for fun.  Although it is meant to be funny, I have been asked this question many times about my children.  I also know other adoptive families who have been asked to same.  Thought I would share it for a little bit of adoption humor!

Our children are real siblings!  

Adoption Is…

“Are my birth parents dead?” This question came from one of my children this past week. I paused for just a bit, and then said, “Your birth mother is alive, but your birth father died.”

Silence….then no other questions for several days until tonight.

In the car, I hear the question, “Are my birth parents really dead?” “Your birth father died”, I replied. “Was he there when I was born?” “No. He died before you were born.”

Silence…”Well, how did you know?” I told my child that a social worker informed me about it.

“So, I was alone when I was born?”  “No honey. No…you were not alone. Your birth mother was there.”

Silence…

“Oh…you know…I think my birth father’s favorite color was grey. He told me when I was with him.”

Silence again…

I looked in the rear view mirror of my car and saw my child yearning to keep the tears in. I said, “It is okay to be sad about it, and cry.”

“I think I miss him. I’m sad because my birth father died.”

Here is the often misunderstood thing about adoption – it is not always full of joy. Is it a joyful time when adoption finally comes knocking on one’s door?  Yes, of course, but the real stuff, the nitty-gritty pieces of life of an adoptive family, can be very hard.

Loss is a huge part of adoption. Adoptive parents hold the stories of their children’s lives, and piece by piece, moment by moment, and question by question, the stories are told.

Honestly, I struggle with the truth about my children’s histories. I so wish I could say all of their stories and journeys to our lives were filled with wonderful and incredible things, but that would not be the truth.

So, piece by piece, moment by moment, and question by question, I narrate their little lives honestly and truthfully. The truth is painful, sometimes. My heart just feels wounded by the things that led their lives to mine.

Adoption is hard,
and beautiful,
and mysterious,
and delightful,
and heartbreaking,
and joyful,
and woeful,
and challenging,
and complex,
and simply incredible.

If you are an adoptive parent, know this, adoption is not always going to feel good. You will go through valleys of unknowns…scary and sad places.

If you are an adoptive parent, know this, adoption has a way of softening your heart, and tendering it to the realization that you are the story-teller, narrator, and keeper of the sorrowful and wonderful details of your child’s life.

After all, adoption is hard,
and beautiful,
and mysterious,
and delightful,
and heartbreaking,
and joyful,
and woeful,
and challenging,
and complex,
and simply incredible.

Everyone has a Story

“What’s a testimony without a test?”

This question is one that tends to be a mantra of sorts among the Christian community.  While I understand the meaning behind it, instead, I find myself asking,

“What’s a test without a testimony?”

Imagine for a moment, living in a world where we do not share our pain, disappointment, despair, and gut-wrenching experiences in life.

What if we just walked around holding it all in, always saying that we are fine, and never, for one moment, declaring out loud the things that twist our souls to the bottomless pit of pain?  Like emotionless robots, we encase our feelings in a tomb to which we never open.  What would it be like if we kept our stories imprisoned within our own mortal coils?

I am not even sure what kind of world it would be if we never shed our tears with or for others, or if the stark reality of the collapsing of others’ dreams, the dashing of their hopes, and the witness of their afflicted footsteps, did not affect us.

I have had people say to me,

“I had no idea you have gone through so much.”

What this tells me is that I have done an excellent job at tucking away the daggers of devastation and arrows of apathy that have, at times, pierced my walk in this life with doubt, sorrow, and anger.

Even during the time that I was reluctant to tell my story, I knew that it was meant to be told, and that behind the heartbreak of it all, lay hope in waiting, purpose with a passion, and ultimately, the glimpse of redemption through the mercy of our God.

So, what’s a test without a testimony?  What’s hardship without the harrowing details of survival?

What is more important…that we exclaim our victory?  Or, that we seek to tell the stories that encompass those moments in life where the only lifting of our heads is caused by the hint of something better?

I believe the latter is more important.  While I shout for joy at the victories of others, I celebrate with even more enthusiasm at the telling of overcoming mountains, the witness of evading addictions, and the declaration of holding tight to the life-thread of courage.

I believe that everyone has a story.  

I believe that all of our stories are important, and worthy of being told.  I believe that there is not one moment in a single life lived on Earth that does not matter, and that the Creator of the landscape to which we dwell is the same Creator that fills the spaces in-between our devastation, our tragedies, our heart-breaks, our disappointments, and our yearning for something better in life.

Yes, everyone has a story to be told.

 Share your story.

 Embrace your experience.

Wear it as a badge of endurance.  

You never know how your story can affect someone else going through what you have been through, or how the steps you have painstakingly taken can soften the path to which others are walking on.

Your life’s journey might just lead another soul right to the heart of God.

Your story matters.

Your story is unique.

The story of your life is the cadence to which you heart’s song is being composed.  

What a wonderful world it would be if we shared the stories of our lives, the tests that determined our testimonies, and the painful moments that launched our ministries.

Everyone has a story.  What’s yours?

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.–Psalm 66:16

 

 

 

I see the Lord’s redemption

This is a picture of my dad with the kiddos on Father’s Day. To you, it might just seem like a happy pic of a Grandfather with some of his Grandchildren; however, I sense an incredible ending to a story started so many years ago.Family

In 1983, when the sadness entered our lives during my illness, my dad held my hand almost day and night while in the hospital. He sat by my bed, gently rubbed my hand, and said over and over again, “If I could trade places with you, I would.” We had all just plunged into the torrential world of barrenness.

When I look at this picture, this is what I see: an incredible sense of HOPE for the future, an opportunity to pass along life-lessons learned through the years, and in so many ways, I see closure.

I see the Lord’s redemption. I see His promises of love, hope, and a future. I see bloodline disappear, and love take over.

I see a Grandpa who is completely enamored by his Grandchildren.

I know that while the Lord planned my life to include my children, He wrote the script of my parents’ lives to include them as well.

What a happy ending to the sorrow that started so many years ago…
What a way, Lord, to show Yourself in our lives…
What an amazing vision You have given us for our future…

What an incredible sense that after my dad and my mom have gone on to You, these children…these precious souls…will carry a piece of them as they grow into their own place in this world…

If one ever doubts the majesty of a loving Heavenly Father, please take a look at this picture. A Dad who watched his daughter dance on the edge of death, steer her way into the world with barrenness on her shoulders, step into the world of foster care and adoption without knowing what the next step would look like, and approach the courts three times over to prove herself, is the same Grandfather who is enjoying three children whose own lives were majestically penned to be in his.

What a happy ending to the sorrow that started so many years ago…
What a way, Lord, to show Yourself in our lives…
What an amazing vision You have given us for our future…

What an incredible sense that after my dad and my mom have gone on to You, these children…these precious souls…will carry a piece of them as they grow into their own place in this world…