Legacy of Adoption

Here’s another story of adoption!

Sheridan and Julian

In love He destined us for adoption to Himself – Ephesians 1:5

It was inevitable that Kenny and Allison would end up being adoptive parents.  Both were adopted as little ones, and it just seemed that adoption was the path their lives would take.  After struggling with infertility (they did eventually give birth to a baby girl), they decided together that they would pursue becoming foster/adoptive parents.  They believed strongly that they had much love to give to a child in need.

They decided to adopt out of the foster care system after researching the financial aspects of adoption.  In most cases, there are no legal fees attached to the adoption of children out of the system in the United States.  Some of their concerns about adopting out of foster care were not knowing all the information regarding a child’s background and medical history.  Also, the child’s history of abuse and neglect should always be taken into consideration when exploring foster care adoption.  Their daughter, Sheridan, was only 3-years-old at the time and was very excited about becoming a big sister.  Kenny and Allison had to keep her in mind when considering children in the system who were in need of adoption.

They were licensed in 2005 and matched with Julian in April of 2006.  He was 18-months-old at the time of placement into their home.  They had considered other children, but decided not to pursue them.  This, according to Allison, was one of the hardest parts of the process.  She found herself thinking, “Who was I to decide which children to pursue or not due to their family history?”

Julian, now 8-years-old, is described as being a “rough and tumble” Momma’s boy. He is happy, loving, and very inquisitive about how things work in the world.  His background leans to him being impulsive and having some challenging behaviors.  Allison is a special education teacher and admits that it is hard to parent a child with special needs.

They have learned though that advocating for Julian’s needs is a priority and not to compare him to their daughter.  Sheridan is a gifted, respectful, and well-mannered young lady.  Others may expect Julian to be just like his sister, but Kenny and Allison recognize that their children had very different starts to life.  With that being said, their children have many similarities and are brother and sister through and through.

Their family joke is that their daughter Sheridan is the only living being in the house who is not adopted.  They even adopted their dog!  It is evident that the Lord ordained adoption for the lives of Kenny and Allison from the very beginning as babies who were adopted to their journey as parents now.  They too are passing along the blessed legacy of adoption to their children and have played a vital role in giving one little boy a family and love that will last a lifetime.

Adoption is Love!

A– Act of love

             D– Decision of love

                   O– Opportunity to love

                   P– Purpose-driven love

                   T– Teacher of love

            I– Intervention of love

                  O– Offering of love

                  N– Natural kind of love

In other words, ADOPTION is LOVE!  

Their Greatest Joy

This blog has been mostly devoted to my own personal journey from the valley of unknowns and barrenness to the glorious mountain top that is adoption.  I know that my story is not the only one out there.  There are many families whose stories include answering the call to care for children in need.  This is one of them.

In 1999, when Tamra was just 23 years of age and finishing college, her heart was deeply touched by the foster children who attended her daycare.  She was moved so much that she decided to become a licensed foster care provider through the state.  Tamra asked to be put on the so-called openings list for placements.  This list is how workers know that families are available to take children into their homes.  A few days had passed before any calls were made to her.  That all changed though on July 24, 1999.

Imagine, if you will, running into your home to change clothes after a wedding so that you can head out for the reception, picking up the ringing phone, and being asked “Would you be available to take in a two month old baby boy?”  That is exactly what happened.  Tamra excitedly got off the phone, grabbed her friend, and made their way to the hospital – so much for going to the wedding reception!  

This 8 week old baby boy had been intentionally thrown out and onto some lawn furniture and needed to be checked for injuries.  As Tamra was waiting to meet him, her mind was racing with thoughts of “What have I done? I don’t know how to take care of a baby!”  She also wondered if the nursing staff thought of her as being too young to be a foster parent. Tamra was not prepared, but felt the calling to say “yes”.  She did not have a crib, car seat, or anything really for a newborn, so after they left the hospital, they made their way to Wal-Mart to pick up all of the necessities for taking care of babies.  Foster families very rarely get a lot of time to prepare for placements, so they must think and act quickly.

It was very natural for her to fall in love with the little prince that came to live with her on that fateful night in both of their lives.  Tamra’s fiance, Shane (now her husband), also fell in love with him.  Their extended family worried that they would get their hearts broken, but they were also supportive and realistic about the primary goal of the foster care system in working towards reunification with birth parents and their children.  Although adoption was not their first intention, Tamra and Shane were very happy when it appeared that adoption would be the goal for him.

Things were moving along and then…new case worker….new ideas…a relative stepped in.  This little boy had been placed with her since age of 2 months, had been visiting his birth parents the entire duration of the case, and now was potentially going to be moving in to a relative’s home.  After 2 weeks of nail-biting anxiety, a decision was made to keep their boy where he was.

After 4 years and one month of loving and fostering him, their dream of becoming his forever parents came true.  Their adoption was finalized by the courts.  Their son is an amazing child, is in a gifted program and in advanced math classes.  They are very proud of him!

Despite the long haul through the system with their son, Tamra and Shane decided to pursue another placement of a foster child.  They really hoped for a girl and were blessed by the placement of a 12 week old baby girl. This precious girl only weighed 9 pounds and the 3-6 month clothing Tamra picked out for her swallowed her up!

Tamra and Shane fell in love with this little girl immediately; yet, they were realistic about foster care as they had just experienced a long journey with their son.  At their very first team meeting, they were asked if they would consider adoption of her!  They were so surprised and felt incredibly blessed!  Their adoption was finalized in 2004.

Their daughter has had some challenges.  She is autistic and has a seizure disorder, but she is an amazing joy in their lives.  They feel so blessed to call her their daughter.  Life would not be the same without her “sassyness” and her personality.  She has made great strides and they have great hope for her continued progress and well-being.

Tamra and Shane want those who are considering foster care and adoption to know that you have to give the children your all.  Foster parents have the opportunities to help set the foundations for these children that can last a life-time.  It is a risk and you can get hurt, but the impact you can make on the lives of children is worth it.  Perseverance, consistency, stability, advocacy, and trusting your knowledge about the kids you are caring for are attributes that Tamra and Shane feel are necessary when fostering children.

They believe that the Lord had His hand in forming their family through foster care and adoption.  Tamra and Shane do not regret a single thing and feel extremely blessed to call their children their own.  Their greatest joy is raising the children, witnessing their triumphs, and experiencing life that is free from abuse and neglect.  

In Tamra’s words “Adoption is a beautiful thing!”

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:28

National Adoption Month 2012

November is National Adoption Month here in the U.S.  Local, state, and federal government offices, organizations and churches devote their efforts during the month of November to focus on the awareness, education, and advocacy for adoption.  While the emphasis of this month tends to be more focused on foster care adoption, ALL forms of adoption are recognized as being equally important in the lives of so many families and children.

My desire this month is to write a post each day regarding adoption.  I am hoping to share some personal stories of non-bloggers who have adopted or are adoptees. My goal is to share links to websites, post quotes about adoption, and share Scripture verses that relay the tenderness that our Heavenly Father has for children.

For starters though, please click on this link National Adoption Month 2012.  This is the US government’s website regarding child welfare and adoption.  It has some very good information and links to various websites.  Thanks for reading and here’s to hoping that the month of November will stir the hearts of many to consider adoption. Children deserve permanency in their lives.  After working in child welfare for so long, I have learned that once families open their hearts and homes to a children, they have opened up a new world of fresh beginnings, safety, stability, and that crucial feeling of belonging to a family.

Blessings!

Around the Fire

Last night we had the privilege of spending the evening around a bonfire in the country.  Hot dogs, roasted marshmallows, the sound of crackling wood, a gorgeous full moon, the chatter of folks, and gleeful screams of children playing in the field next to us made up our evening.  Fires are so good at catching one’s eye.  I sat and stared for a long time at the majestic wisps of flames as they flickered their way up to the heavens.

With the scent of fall in the air and the comfort of a blanket over me, my thoughts immediately went to the reason why we were all out there under the stars.  Out of the eighteen or so children present last night, around thirteen of them were adopted out of foster care.  Let me say that again….13 out of 18 or so children present last night were adopted out of foster care.  Most of the children were siblings of some sort, but not all.  A handful of families adopted the siblings.  Honestly, it was kind of nice to be at an event where my children were not a minority.  Usually when we go to “get-togethers”, or anywhere in general, my kids are typically the only ones adopted; especially out of protective services.

There is something comforting when being around fellow parents who have experienced the journey of being a foster parent and adopting.  We are able to swap stories of our experiences and compare notes.  We can relate to the challenges sometimes experienced when raising children with histories of abuse, neglect, prenatal exposure, or separation from family of origin.  We can also talk about resources that may come in handy if future issues should arise.

Last night, I took a moment to look out in the field at the children playing.  The image of glow sticks in hands, glow-in-the-dark balloons bouncing up and down, and the sounds of laughing children running freely through the field filled my mind and my heart with gratefulness.  I thought about how their young lives were interrupted by the ways of the world and the poor choices of their  birth parents.  I thought about the losses every single one of them has endured already in life.  I thought about the adults around the fire who took them in.  I thought about the opportunities they have because of permanency in their lives.

I thought about how they get to have a childhood free of abuse.  I also thought about how lucky we are to be a part of this.  Adoption out of foster care is not a second best choice.  It is not reserved for only those who cannot afford private adoption.  It is not just for couples who are unable to have biological children.  It is a blessing to parent a child whose beginning to life automatically put him or her in the category of the “least of these”.

It is a blessing to meet other adults whose lives have also been impacted by the decision to become foster parents.  We are all connected in some way to each other by the children playing in the field.  We are all a part of something bigger, something more eternal, and something better planned for these children.

As I watched the fire burn and looked around, thankfulness filled my heart.  We were all brought together by the one true God who brings light into dark places, hope into hopeless situations, and love into the lives of all of us.

Radiant Possibility

Photo taken by Sarah Carter (http://sarahcarter.is/)

“Every child born into the world is a new thought of God; an ever-fresh and radiant possibility.”  

-Kate Douglas Wiggin 

This is the quote we used for our daughter’s adoption announcement back in 2010. We picked it because it reminded us that despite our daughter’s not-so-lucky start to life, and despite basically being abandoned; her life is one of hope and possibility.  She is a gift from the Lord, and He has wonderful things in store for her.

I wanted to share it to remind fellow parents, parents-to-be, or those struggling to become parents that we all have lives of radiant possibility.  Our children or future children also have the opportunities to live lives of radiance.  Despite what we are going through or have been through, we have the ability to live the kind of life that breathes love.

The Lord knew His plan for our daughter.  He scripted her tiny little life right into our home.  He knows His plan for us.  All of us were on His mind when He was on the cross, and we are on His mind today.

I hope this blesses you and lifts you up during your struggles.  I hope you see your life as being one with God-given radiance, hope, and possibility!

God deserves an Oscar

God deserves an Oscar!  The way He scripts, produces, and directs our lives  is better than just about any Hollywood version of the latest headline or novel.  He has written us with great richness.  His works are emotive.  His set (the world) is extraordinary, and his story-lines are filled with drama, passion, love, and loss.

I love the thought that adoption is a predestination set out by God Almighty.  It is truly awe-inspiring to know that while I was still being formed in the womb, He had already written the script of my life and my children were written into it.  Talk about having a purpose and a design!  It is almost unfathomable to think about it.  Yes, sad and tragic things had to happen in all of our lives so that we would be together, but God knew what He was doing.  The fact is that we all are together and that is good enough for my soul.

I am filled with wonder every time I think about my children and their lives.  How are their lives going to affect others?  Will they adopt or foster children?  Will they trudge through uncharted territories to reach the “unreachable”?  I hope so.  If their mission field is here at home or in a far-off corner of the world, I pray they grow up with the knowledge that God has designed them with a passion and the whole word in their runway.

For the most part, this aspect of my life – the medical/barren part – has always been something I’ve kept to myself. I’m learning though that the more I speak about it, the more I write about it, and the more I share it with others; the more God reveals to me…not just about myself but more importantly about Him. I used to wonder what my purpose was.  Why in the world would He allow me to lose the ability to have babies?  I don’t think that anymore.  I know now that my story – better yet – His story written for my life, is exactly what it is supposed to be.  My children are proof that God’s plan is perfect, His will intentional, and His mercy never-failing.  My God has truly blessed me through all of the suffering.