What Adoption Means: Adoption is just another way God Blesses us

“What Adoption Means” Post #8 – Even though we are well into December, I’m continuing my posts from fellow adoptive parents on what adoption means to them.  I have found that a lot of the messages I have received are ones where people want to tell their stories of adoption.  We hear about birth stories.  We listen to women who have given birth describe their pregnancies, and their deliveries, so when someone has the opportunity to share his or her adoption story, I think it is worth reading!

Here is an international adoption story written by Amy, a mother who knows her life would not be complete without her daughter.  Adoption Means #8

“Well to start out… when Mark and I started dating we both expressed interest in adoption.  I personally wanted to only adopt but he wanted biological children also, so we started our marriage with the intent to have two biological children, and adopt two children.

On our 3rd wedding anniversary, we decided to start trying to have a baby.  Eleven and half months later, I was pregnant with Elijah.  My pregnancy went fairly well accept I gained seventy-one pounds!

Delivery was a different story.  It was hard.  Twenty-one hours after my water broke, I was rushed in for a c-section. Not fun!  After that experience, Mark changed his mind about having another bio child.

When Eli was five-months-old, we started talking about adoption. We didn’t want our kids to be very far apart so in April of 2005, we signed paper work with Christian World Adoption.  Paper work kept coming for the next two and a half years!  It was so hard waiting and waiting.  I thought we would never get a referral.

Once all our paperwork was in we had to wait about three months (April to June 12) before we got the phone call that we had a baby!  Our daughter was born May 20, 2007. We were so excited!

They e-mailed us a picture and mailed the rest of our paperwork to sign.  The first time I saw Elena, I was amazed at how beautiful she was. Her eyes were so piercing. I knew when I saw her that we needed each other.

The Lord placed her in our home.  

It was just… right.

For a months everything was going just as we thought it would, and then, the Guatemala program turned. We started hearing bad stories about trips to Guatemala. People were not getting the babies they were planning on. Mix ups with children.  Stolen children.  The program in Guatemala was shutting down.

When we got our referral we thought that we would have her by Thanksgiving.  Nope.  Christmas?  No, again.  We knew that the program was coming to an end, but not even our agency could tell us the deadline date.

We were so nervous.  We didn’t know if we would ever get to go to Guatemala.  All we knew is that if we got our paper work out of the Guatemalan government by Dec. 31, 2007, then we would have a chance.  We asked everyone we knew to pray and fast.  (Really, we had been praying all along and had been fasting on Mondays for a couple of months)

There were so many people fasting and praying with us.  It really is amazing how people can ban together at difficult times.  We decided her name would be Elena Marie.

In December of 2007, we found out that all we had to do was wait for a court date with the Guatemalan embassy.  PRAISE GOD!!!!!!! On January 23rd (1 month later), we got word that our court date was set for February 9th!  Talked about scrambled eggs.  My brain was crazy messed up!

We got to our hotel in Guatemala at 2:00, and Irma (foster-mother) and Elena were supposed to be there at 3:00. We freshened up a bit, and then at 2:40 we went down stairs to wait.  My nerves were shot.  I was shaking and jiggling my legs so hard.  To see the video, it was pretty funny.

At 4:20, they walked through the doors. Elena was asleep. She is so cute when she’s asleep.  She looked like an angel. All my nerves were at peace.  Irma didn’t speak any English and Mark and I speak very little Spanish.

The first 30 minutes,  I just let Irma hold her (she had Elena from the time she was two-days-old until she placed her in our arms).

 I felt like I was respecting her by allowing her to place her in our arms in her timing.

After about an hour, we asked Irma if she wanted to have dinner with us.  She said, “Yes.”  It was so neat getting to know her.  I knew that the more I got to know her, the better I would understand Elena.  It was so true.

Elena immediately attached to us.  That night she cried for me when I went to the rest room.  She slept all night and was great.  Eli fell in love that day! ( He still is. ) She loved us.  WE LOVED HER! ( not like it was a surprise!)

The next night we had dinner with Irma and her husband, Oscar. We hired a translator for the hotel. We received excellent advice and tips for Elena’s habits and personality. It was so fun to sit down and visit with them.

The next day we went to the embassy for our appointment. It really wasn’t anything like I expected.  It was really informal!  We made plans with Irma and Oscar to go to church with them on Sunday.  Our agency told us to not to leave a certain area in Guatemala City but we did.

It was so exciting.  They sang the same songs as we do just in Spanish.  The Holy Spirit was overwhelmingly strong.  I think I cried almost all of the first part of the service.  Irma was too!

I didn’t understand anything Pastor Cash Luna was saying, but it seems to be the most important message I have ever heard.  After church, Irma and Oscar came back to the hotel with us for one last meal together. We really enjoyed our time with them. When it was time for them to leave, Irma came to hug me goodbye.  It was so hard.  We just stood there in the middle of the restaurant and cried just embracing each other.  It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I thought we were both going to fall. I was holding her tiny under 5 ‘ body up.  Her head was laying on my chest.  I love her so much.

She is a part of my family now.  She raised my daughter the first 9 1/2 months of her life.  She loves Elena.  She will forever.

It is amazing how much you can learn from someone you know nothing about.  I still pray for her and think about her all the time.  We have sent gifts and pictures and letters , but we get no response.  We don’t know if she gets them, or if it is just too hard for her.

Everyone was so excited to see her; especially my Dad, James.  Oh yeah, and Mark’s youngest sister Tiffany! Everyone immediately loved her.  When she was thirteen-months-old, she started walking and her and her BIG brother were inseparable. They love each other more than most siblings that I have met.

I truly believe every Christian family should make it a priority to adopt.

There are so many children that need us and believe it or not… we need them. Our lives would not be complete with out Elena.  I love her as much as I love my biological son Elijah.

Adoption is just another way God blesses us with kids and builds our families.  Every child deserves a loving family.”    

What Adoption Means: Dream Life

“What Adoption Means to Me” – Post #6

I received this message from a fellow professional in child welfare.  She shared with me about her father’s adoption story. When I first read it, I got stuck on the words “dream life”.  It reminded me that adoptive parents need to be mindful of how incredible the memory is as it pertains to memories of biological families.

After reading her father’s story, I am thankful that adoption is more openly spoken about these days than they once were.  No child should ever have to feel that he or she cannot speak or wonder about biological family.  Also, I think it is pretty amazing that adoption is the profession that his daughter chose.

“My dad was adopted when he was about three years old. He says that he remembered bits and pieces of his biological family but always wondered if he was dreaming.  He would wake in the mornings sometimes, and ask his mom if they ever lived on a farm with lots of animals, or if he ever had an older brother. He would ask those questions about this “dream life” as he describes it because the details were so fuzzy and confusing to him. It was almost as if he remembered this life with a family but he couldn’t quite remember all the details.

When my dad was 18 years old, his parents sat him down.  “It was time to tell him the truth”, they said. They explained that he was adopted at three years old because his biological parents had died. They said that there wasn’t always good medical care for people who lived out in the country, so when the couple fell ill, there was no way to save them. His parents told him that he indeed did have an older brother who had been adopted by a family in another state, who needed an older child to help on their farm. He was also told that he had several, older half-siblings that lived close to his hometown.

As you can imagine, my dad was devastated. He was sent into such a state of shock and felt that he was right all along: He was different, and not only was he different, he wasn’t someone who deserved the truth about who he was or where he came from. He was not given this information about his adoption or his biological family from day one or even when he asked specific questions about his “dream life”; he was lied to and the truth was withheld.

My dad was very ashamed for years about his adoption story. I think in most part because of the secrecy behind it all. When I was about 10 years old, my mom told me that my dad was adopted. I will always remember that moment as I was trying to make sense of what adoption meant. I asked my mom, “So are you saying that Grandma and Grandpa aren’t dad’s real parents?” My mom immediately snapped, “Don’t EVER say that again!”

There was no explanation of why that question should not be asked, but I knew that something must be really wrong to ask questions about adoption.  I didn’t ask my dad or my mom questions about his adoption for a very long time.

When I went off to college, I found my calling in life: social work; and more specifically working with children who need forever families. Adoption was my calling. I remember the phone call when I told my parents about my dreams and what I wanted to do most in life, which was to help find every child a forever family. The conversation was met with lots of skepticism, especially from my dad.

I started learning everything I could about adoption. I also started asking my dad questions about his story because I wanted to better understand my dad’s thoughts and feelings regarding his history. At first, he was hesitant to share with me. My dad is a very strong man, and I think sometimes men are nervous to talk to others because they might display weakness. However, once my dad started to open up about his past, he started to realize that he had a lot of questions himself. He researched and found that he had one older half-sibling that lived not too far away.

My mom reached out to her and they spoke on the phone. That half-sibling cried tears of joy to know that her baby brother had been adopted by a wonderful family. She said she’d always wondered what happened to him. She later wrote my dad a letter that he still keeps in his bedside table. In the letter, she wrote that she was about sixteen-years-old when their parents died. She said that she had offered to raise him and his older brother but the authorities had said that she was too young.

The children were taken to an orphanage at the time and placed for adoption. She said that she tried to keep in contact but was told by well-meaning social workers that it was not appropriate for her to keep in touch with them; that she needed to let them live their own lives, and that communication from her would only confuse them and cause problems. Because of this, she cut off all communication and lost track of where they were.

My dad still has not met his half-siblings face to face, though they have written letters and talked on the phone. He has now seen pictures of his birth parents. It is crazy because I look exactly like his birth mom. When we saw those pictures and realized the resemblance in his birth mother and me, I think it was hard on him at first because the loss was so real, but now, I think it is comforting that we look so much alike because it is like a piece of his birth story still lives on.

My dad has also met his older brother who was adopted by an out-of-state family. That reunion was pretty amazing because they look so much alike and have the same mannerisms, though they were raised by different families.

Though my dad’s story has not come to a perfect ending, he has at least found some comfort and closure in knowing his story. He is still very private about his adoption history but I find that he is opening up more and more. He will call to ask me questions about adoption or give me advice, which is great since this is my profession. Plus, I love my dad and his history is my history, and I think it is important know the truth. My dad still hasn’t talked much to his mom about the adoption (his dad has since passed on). He says that he doesn’t want to hurt her by asking too many questions. Like many people, my grandparents struggled with infertility, so adopting my dad was an answer to their prayers. They raised him as if he had been born to them and gave him unconditional love. So he tries to be very respectful of his parents as he has sought answers regarding his history.”

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: 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!”

 

What Adoption Means: Thoughts from a Birth Mother

In recognition of National Adoption Month here in the United States, I’ve asked other people whose lives have been touched by adoption to share thoughts with the theme of “What Adoption Means to Me”.

What Adoption Means to Me

-Thoughts from a Birth Mother

“Adoption means despite the poor choices I made, there was a solution. Adoption means I was able to give my precious baby girl to a couple who was praying to God for a miracle.

Adoption means my precious baby girl could have a wonderful, loving childhood without being deprived of necessities. Adoption means I was able to grow up and finish my education without the challenges of being an unmarried teenage mother.

Adoption means I cherish my own children even more, now that I am married and better prepared to be a mother.

Adoption means I now have a new friend, whom I gave life to. She is amazing. I love her kind heart and compassion. She has a beautiful family, loving parents and siblings and I’m thoroughly enjoying getting to know her.

I am so thankful for her parents, who raised her in such a way that she has no bitter feelings, no anger toward me and were supportive of her finding me when the time was right.

For that precious baby girl, adoption has made her who she is today and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Adoption means an opportunity for God to turn the unexpected into something beautiful.