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.

Adoption is Not for the Faint of Heart {let’s get real}

1dka7j

November is National Adoption Month and I LOVE it. Do you want to know why? Because it dedicates a lot of attention to the need for adoption and the diverse stories of adoption that are out there in the world.

What we usually see during this month are wonderful images of adoptive families smiling for the camera. What we don’t see are the tears, hardships, and struggles of adoptive families. I think it is only fair that if we set aside a month of celebrating adoption, we should also include conversations about all that encompasses it; not just the smiley, cute, feel-good moments.

Here is the truth: As an adoptive family (and I don’t mind that label), we are very normal in our basic rigmarole of the day. However, our days probably look a little different from other families. There are moments when we don’t have the right words, we recognize that genetics is a mightily powerful thing, and we wonder “will this get better?” There are times when one of our kids says, “You’re not even my real mom!”, “I bet you wish you didn’t adopt me.”, or “Why couldn’t I stay with my birth mom?” These things, my friends, are not what we often see or hear about during National Adoption Month.

So, let’s get real. Adoption absolutely changed all our lives. It made me a mother. It made my husband a father. It gave our kids permanency and the opportunity to grow up without the threat of abuse and neglect. However, adoption is certainly not for the faint of heart.

It hurts when your child tells you or asks you the things mentioned above. It is heartbreaking when you don’t know or have answers to questions that doctors are asking. It is alarming when you think about whether your kids will have anger about being adopted as they grow up. It takes a whole lot of energy and patience to handle the issues that come up during the day. It stings when you are rejected or verbally abused or disregarded by the very child that you would give your life for. Like I said, adoption is not for the faint of heart.

Before you go and wonder about the state of parenthood for me, let me explain that I fully believe in the blessing of my kiddos. I adore them. I cherish them. I love them to the moon and back and know that God fully weaved our family together, but I also strive to be authentic about our journey. If I were to tell you that everything is peachy all the time and we are all so in love with each other all the time, I would be a liar.

If you are considering adoption, I want you to know that it is truly a miracle in life. You will recognize a humbling love that is freely given. I also want you to know that there will be moments and days that it doesn’t feel good. You will shed plenty of tears in the corner of your room.

You will pretend that you are having the best of days while knowing the distress that occurred just moments before. You will discover some truths about yourself, and you may not like them. You will feel the vulnerability of others and it will hurt.

Let’s get real.  Adoption is not for the faint of heart, and therefore I know it is an absolute blessing to be a mother through adoption.

 

 

 

 

 

With Every Adoption {meme for Orphan Sunday}

tfwy5

Here is a meme I created in honor of National Adoption Month (US) and Orphan Sunday.  I love the notion that with every adoption, the hope in a better world is released.  Adoption changes lives.  Families matter.

My prayer is that we will rise up to the calling of adoption, and that the cries of orphans around the world will be met with the love, tenderness, and protection of parents.

If adoption has ever crossed your mind, please consider taking the first steps to learning more.

Blessings,

Caroline

What Adoption Means: Obedience

“What Adoption Means” Post #7-

This message came to me from someone who felt the calling of foster care and adoption at an early age, and then as an adult, chose to be obedient to His calling for her life.  Her life is truly blessed because of it!

“I have been processing this concept for a few days of what adoption has truly meant for me. The one word that immediately brought to my mind was OBEDIENCE! At a very early age, the concept of foster care was brought to my attention through a research paper I was writing my junior year of high school. I began to study and learn about children in the foster care system and knew the Lord would somehow make this happen when the time was right.

Several years passed, graduating from college, starting my career, marriage and then it happened. I was driving along a street, and read a sign that said Foster/Adoption Information Meeting. I went home and spoke with my husband about the desire in my heart to foster/adopt. We were in agreement and went to our first meeting on a cold January night. I had peace in my heart after the meeting was finished.

The journey began with classes, and eventually the license came. The Lord blessed me, and has fulfilled my life with two children. We provided respite services for our little guy when he was one-month-old, and then he was permanently placed at six-months-old in our home. My little girl was just five days old when I brought her home from the hospital. Our adoption anniversary of two years for both children just happened in November.  Since then, we have added one of my children’s siblings to my home, and the State Children’s Division is in the process of termination of parental rights.

One word – obedience – has brought three little blessings in my heart. God entrusted me to raise them, teach them about Jesus, and to ensure they know where they came. They were not an accident, and me driving down that road one January evening was not an accident either.

When we obey God, He will bless us.  It’s as simple as that, and we never know when those blessings will happen.”

What Adoption Means: Perspective of a Blessed Aunt

“What Adoption Means” Post #5.  This message came to me from a woman who watched her sister’s journey through adoption. She considers herself a proud and blessed aunt!

“My sister desperately wanted to be a mom and was struggling to get pregnant. When we were in high school, my sister would talk about wanting to adopt children. It was an idea placed on her heart early.

I remember one conversation with her when she said “I have always wanted to adopt. Does it really matter if I adopt before I have biological children?” I agreed with her and watched from a distance as my sister and her husband began the challenging task of navigating all of the requirements, background checks, health screenings, and home visits to be approved to be put on a list of parents wanting to have children. The process is lengthy-it took about two years to go through all of the requirements.

The transparency that the adoptive parent offers is so amazing and challenging. They had to answer what seemed to be crazy questions such as “Are you willing to parent a child that is a different race than you?”, “Would you be willing to parent a child with illness and if so, what level of illness can you handle?”

As a non-adoptive parent, these questions seemed to be so strange, yet I saw that they were necessary, but I thought about the fact that if my children would have been born with health challenges, I wouldn’t think twice about keeping them and loving them.

Around Christmas, my sister and brother-in-law received their much-anticipated letter-they were approved and pregnant women would be viewing their profile in hopes of choosing them as parents. They put that letter under their tree as their most prized gift.

On April 1st, my sister called me. She was choked up and tearful as she told me “We have been chosen!” My first thought was “this is the worst April Fools Joke ever!” but I burst into tears as she assured me that this was real and that they would have a son. He was born about fourteen to fifteen hours later and three days after that, they were at home with their son.  My nephew.

That first month of a waiting period for the mother to change her mind was rough, but the time came and went. They have a semi-open adoption with the birth parents. They exchange letters and pictures. When they lived in the same area, they would meet up with the birth mother. They went to her high school graduation. My nephew knows that this woman is his “tummy mommy.”

When he was 3 months old, my sister found out she was pregnant. Two shocking phone calls in one year! She had a daughter.

People asked questions and insinuated that one child was their real child and the other was not. This probably fired me up more than it did my sister (maybe all that adoption training had prepared her). They are both real!

Fast forward 4 years. My sister got another call from the adoption agency. A young woman from Guatemala had delivered a baby girl in the United States and could not parent her. She left her with the hospital. My sister and husband prayed a lot about this. We prayed a lot about this. This adoption was very different from their first experience. There was no family history, no medical history, and there would be no contact with the birth mother, and this child looks the most different from the family. The conversations my sister and brother-in-law will be having with each of their kids will be so different.

Adoption is hard, it is scary, and it is costly. The journey isn’t over when the baby is placed into the adoptive parents arms.

If you have a family member that is on this journey, support them in any way that you are able.

I love being an aunt to this crazy trio. I am so thankful to the women who acted so incredibly unselfishly and put the needs of these two babies ahead of their own. They have given us all a gift-not just the adoptive parents-but the extended family as well.

I am proud to say that I am the blessed aunt of three awesome, very real, kids.”

What Adoption Means: God’s Perfect Plan

“What Adoption Means” Post #4:  This message comes from a professional in the field of social work.  She has worked with families in both domestic adoption and foster care.

“After having watched many families have  failed adoptions through a birth mom changing her mind or a foster family who has loved a child for years and releasing them to reunification, through it all, God’s hands are evident and the children who will join them in the years to come through adoption are clearly in God’s perfect plan and design.”

Adoption work is heavy at times.  It is not always happy, and regardless of what happens in “cases”, someone (foster, adoptive, or birth family) suffers some level of loss.  Through it all, though, one witnesses and is an active player in the unfolding of God’s plan in the lives of children and families.

What Adoption Means: A Life so full of Love

This message was sent to me from a fellow blogger.  Her words of “What Adoption Means to Me” cut right to my heart.  It was as if I was reading my own story; similar in our journeys, despair, and revelation of a mighty God.

I love adoption stories.  I just love them.

You can read more from Amanda on her blog, FrommyplantoHis.

“When I think of adoption the first thing that comes to my mind is redemption. I know when I say that, some people’s first thought is going to jump towards the biblical analogy of God adopting us as heirs. Yes, that form of redemption plays a part in my response, but it goes so much deeper for me. It is redemption of faith, hope, and love.

When I found out our last attempt at fertility treatment ended in failure, it felt as if a nuclear bomb had gone off in my life. Our next step was a hysterectomy, leaving me forever barren. Everything that I had ever hoped, dreamed and desperately prayed for was gone. I no longer knew who I was with the future I’d envisioned shattered. My life was a wasteland. I wept from a place I did not even know existed.

I had prayed many, many times for pregnancy. I knew God was capable of providing an affirmative answer to my pleas. I knew he was capable of miracles and I believed that if I kept praying long enough, eventually I would get mine. I had placed all of my trust in God to provide what I had longed for since I was a little girl.

When that prayer was answered with a resounding “No,” I lost a lot of my faith in God. I lost my faith in praying. I wondered aloud, “What is the point of praying if God was going to do His will anyhow?” I had no idea how I was ever supposed to hope again if my dreams were hopeless. For a time, Satan began to convince me that I was not worthy of God answering my prayers and that was why God did not provide me a miracle.

For two years after my hysterectomy, I fumbled through life, veering wildly between life plans. Some days I would dream of adoption, some days I wondered about becoming Foster Parents, other days I was set that we were going to be a “Complete as Two” couple and I would return to school to begin a lifelong career.

My relationship with God struggled. I was angry, at times like a toddler throwing a tantrum because I did not get “my way.” I wrestled with placing my hopes in Him. I had been raised to believe that prayer was the answer and I wanted to believe that, but a part of me feared what would happen to my Christianity altogether if I put my trust back in him and was again met with broken dreams.

My prayers remained shallow, terrified to rely on Him for any of the major desires of my life. My biggest dream had been denied. I searched for what His will really was for my life. Nothing ever really felt right except my dreams of motherhood, but all I could see was that I was forever barren and adoption seemed like a pipe dream. Time and time again I prayed for God to remove my desire to become a mom if that was not his will for my life.

We decided that I would at least finish up my bachelor’s degree, which would take about two years and then we would figure out where to go from there. I submitted my application and less than a week later, God made his will known.

We received a phone call out of the blue by a minister we knew wondering if we had interest in adoption. We had always been transparent about our struggles through infertility, so he was aware of our situation. He had a woman contact their church looking for someone to place her unborn child with.

It has always amazed me how clearly God can speak. After spending a couple of years wandering and wondering what I was supposed to do with my life, making hollow plans just trying on new identities now that motherhood seemed unlikely, suddenly, it was all laid out in front of us.

That first match ended in a late-term loss. The mother decided to parent in the end. We were devastated, but could no longer deny that this was the path that God wanted us on.

Picking up the pieces, we were matched again six weeks later to a young woman who would go on to become our son’s birthmother.

Describing the moment we met our son makes me tear up every time. There he lay on the warmer, no more than an hour old. The light the shined down on him might as well have been a light shining straight from Heaven.

God looked at us and said, “Him. He is your son. Everything that you have been through was for him. He was waiting for you all along.”

We still had the legal hurdles to get through, but from the moment I met him it was as if my soul recognized him as my son.

When we adopted our son, it was as if every twist and turn, every heartache and sadness suddenly made sense. God had in mind who He needed me to become. Prior to infertility, I was pretty independent and prideful. I talked the talk and walked the walk, but I lacked a sincere dependence on God.

God removed the one thing that mattered most to me and brought me to my knees, both in the sense brokenness and desperate prayers.  I learned what it was to rely on Him. He was the only one that could redeem the amount of pain that I was in. And redeem He did!

Sometimes I wish away the scars of our journey, but now I know that they are a reminder that God fought for my love and for my life. As Hebrews 12:7-11 talks of, He disciplined me as a father does to his Children. He did not deem me unworthy of His love as Satan attempted to convince me. To the contrary, God found me worthy enough to move through my life in a profound way, showing me that He wanted to fight for me as a father who loves his daughter.

We have since been blessed with a daughter. When I hold those children, I am humbly grateful for the journey God has given us. During the heartache, I could never have envisioned a life so full of love. I have been blessed beyond measure to have the privilege of raising these children and even more so, to experience God’s love so convincingly!”