Celebrating Birthparents

Adopting Intentionally – Day 30

For 31 Days I will blog about Adopting Intentionally, you can find an overview and links to daily posts here.

Celebrating BirthFamilies

We recognize that our boys will face questions and interest in their birth families.  This is healthy, important and formative.

There will be difficult places, difficult answers.

We want to build the foundations of their connection to their birth families to their birth history early.  We want them to know that their stories are unique and incredible, that there is nothing to be afraid of and that there is so much to be celebrated.

In our home we celebrate birth families.

At our boys birthdays we take particular care to include traditions around birth family.

We are unable to be in touch with Colton’s birth mother.  I have written her letters here on the blog, we are intentional about thinking of her.

Colton and I go on a walk to a particular spot each year and we talk about her. 

We have an open adoption with Cam’s birth mother.  On Cam’s first birthday we celebrated with his birth family.  It was tremendously special.

We have stuffed animals that are associated with their birth mothers.  We look at pictures of them.  We talk about them.

Birthmothers have courage and strength.  They have a deep love and connection to their babies and we always want our boys to know that they came from love into love and that they were made to love others.

In our home we celebrate birth families.

Conspicuous Adoption

Adopting Intentionally – Day 29

For 31 Days I will blog about Adopting Intentionally, you can find an overview and links to daily posts here.

ConspicousAdoption

When Cole came to us he was five months old.  When we were out people would comment on how cute he was.  That is what people do when they see a baby. 

I felt completely unsure of how to answer.  He was cute, but I had nothing to do with that, so often I would stop and explain that the person was very kind, and that I appreciate their kindness, though he was not mine genetically, we were adopting him.

And then the poor person had no idea what to say . . . and they would save me from the awkward and affirm our choice to adopt and then we all moved on.

I got better at just saying thank you.

Cole looks like us.  People often have no idea that he was adopted. 

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Camden is Cambodian.  He does not look like us at all.  He has beautiful deep dark eyes and jet black hair.  His skin is so beautiful.  People will often comment on how cute he is, and I say thank you.

There are other questions too with Camden.  They ask about his hair (that naturally shapes itself into a faux hawk), they ask about his age (he is so tiny, but walks and moves with confidence), and they often ask where he came from.

I am not at all offended by this.

Camden’s is a “conspicuous adoption,” a term often used to identify a family that has adopted from another race or ethnicity.

Sometimes people are awkward and ask oddly worded questions trying to figure out Cam’s background, but we don’t mind that at all either.

We love our boys’ adoption stories.  We love sharing about adoption and we are grateful when others show interest in how our family came to be.

Adoption – Resourcing Your Child

Adopting Intentionally – Day 28

For 31 Days I will blog about Adopting Intentionally, you can find an overview and links to daily posts here.

AdoptionResourcing

There were two things we knew for sure when we began this parenting process. 

The first is that we didn’t really know anything about parenting; and the second was that we did not know about the genetic history of our babies. 

We did not feel like the experts on anything as we walked into parenting.

For us meeting our boys for the first time felt a bit strange.  When we looked at Colton we saw his birthmother, when we see Cam smile we can picture his birthmother.  This felt foreign to us at first.  While other parents look at their children and see themselves, their family or their partner, we were seeing something entirely different and new to us.

A great gift to us has been that we have sought out a village to help us resource our little guys. 

Colton came to us with asthma and allergies.  Camden came to us with medical complications at birth and with little prenatal care.

Here is a list of medical professionals that our boys have seen . . .

  • 3 doctors and 3 nurses (we go to a family practice, so our boys are known well by all the doctors and nurses in for primary care)
  • Pulmonologist
  • Allergist
  • Cardiologist
  • Gastroenterologist
  • Nutritionist
  • Feeding Therapist

In addition we have enjoyed working with Early Intervention in our area, a program that works with at-risk infants and toddlers.  We have so valued the input and insight these professionals have offered our children.

  • An extra set of eyes to see growth and progress
  • A clear understanding of developmental milestones and where our child is succeeding or lagging
  • Tangible and practical ways to encourage our child’s individual progress
  • Resource for other programs and events in the community for our child

We also chose to enroll our children in a daycare center.  This is an individual choice for every family, and we initially enrolled as it was provided by the state when our babies were foster children.  Here are the benefits that we have seen in this program.

  • An entire team of teachers and administrators who have seen our children grow and progress
  • Programs specialized to their age and skills
  • Socialization with other children their age
  • Opportunities not provided at home by us
  • Teachers who share responsibility so the burden does not lie on one person.

When we first were faced with all the opportunities and possibilities, we felt a tension between doing things ourselves and accepting the resources offered.  For us, we have truly learned to celebrate the team of caring professionals that surround our boys.  We love how they are known, how their individual strengths and weaknesses have been identified along the way. 

We have seen incredible medical successes.  Our oldest outgrew his allergies and his asthma.  He has grown into a very healthy five year old who is thriving.  Our youngest has overcome a great deal and even this past week had surgery that will prevent complications in the years to come.

We have seen them face and overcome developmental delays, and we have seen each of them become incredibly social and confident little souls.

As adoptive parents we have chosen to resource our boys at every opportunity, and this has worked for us.  We are grateful for all the supporting players.

A New Month, A Clean Slate

Each Tuesday I write a blog post to share with you a way to be in more intentional in your day to day.

NewMonthCleanSlate

Andrew and I have sought to have monthly goals for most of our marriage.  A new month is like a mini-New Year, a time to set some hopes and goals, to agree together on where we are heading, and what we would like to accomplish.

There are still some days left before a new month of November.  It is a great time of year to set some new intentions.

Here are some suggestions, and then on November 1, I will share some of our goals for the month.

Areas to Begin Anew:

  • Health (any fitness or eating goals)
  • Relationships (any connections, outings, date nights, girls nights)
  • Parenting (a specific area of learning, character development)
  • Finances (budgeting, investing, getting out of debt)
  • Learning (an on-line class, an audiobook, a new podcast)
  • Home Improvements (what little or big things are you aiming for)

Areas to Plan for this Month:

  • Thanksgiving
    • Where, when with whom
  • Holidays
    • Where, when with whom
    • Holiday cards
    • Gifts
    • Time off

Areas to Adventure

  • Review Groupon or Living Social (when you purchase an adventure you are more likely to do so)
  • Seek out Holiday Adventures (Christmas Caroling, Christmas Concerts)
  • Plan Winter Adventures (see our list for Fall)
  • Plan a spring or summer vacation

What do you hope this November holds?

Adoption – Bringing Baby Home

Adopting Intentionally – Day 27

For 31 Days I will blog about Adopting Intentionally, you can find an overview and links to daily posts here.

AdoptionBringinHome

We brought two babies home with us that we hoped to adopt.

We learned that Colton would be coming to our home the day we bought our house.  We had our homestudy on a loveseat in a living room full of boxes (we had ordered a couch that would be delivered in a couple of weeks).

We were not ready for any guests, let alone for a baby.

Our scenario with Camden was also a quick one.  We were called on a Sunday and he was with us the following Friday.

Each time we were intentional in having the most necessary items, and then we allowed ourselves the time to adapt and see how our lives needed to shift.

Preparing a Place

In order to bring home a child the big items to have are:

  • a carseat
  • a place to sleep

Both our boys came to us with

  • bottles (it is important to keep the bottle the same as they transition)
  • some clothing basics

As we settled into daily life, we were able to identify what was most needed and then purchase as we went.

With Camden we did decide to do a registry, and as we were at home with him, the things we needed came to us from friends and family.  We came to the decision that whether he stayed with us or not, having items purchased for him would be a great gift.

Preparing for Health

Both boys came to us with health complications.

When we picked up Camden we were so concerned that we called our doctor from the road and were able to get an appointment for evaluation that day.

As a child comes to you, it is tremendously important to identify any health or medical needs.  An appointment within the first few days of placement is ideal.

Both boys have had a number of medical professionals work with them to get them to healthy days.  We are so grateful.

Preparing Your Hearts

When a new child comes into your home, it is so important to be ready for two opposing ways forward simultaneously.

Prepare to stop everything and find new rhythms and new balance with this new child.  Open your heat  to focusing on the needs of that one being and transitioning them into your lives and your home.

Concurrently, continue to live your life fully and well.  Seek the rhythm and balance you had established.  As you work together as a family to find a new path.

Bringing home a child to be with you forever is an incredible step.  It is also just the first step in a greater journey.

Adoption Devotional 2 – Crystal

Adopting Intentionally – Day 26

For 31 Days I am blogging about Adopting Intentionally, you can find an overview and links to daily posts hereOn the weekends during this series I am inviting guest bloggers to share. Today Crystal is sharing her second devotion on adoption.

AdoptionDevotion2 

Scripture Reading: 1 John 4: 7 – 19, New Living Translation

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. 13 And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. 14 Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. 16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. 18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. 19 We love each other because he loved us first.

 

Devotion:

At several points in both the Old and New Testaments God pleads with his people to “fear not” and to “do not be afraid.” This is many times easier said than done, but nonetheless, biblical. Fear is the opposite of faith. God clearly wants us to trust him, relax, and know that he has a plan for us. This translates also to the adoption experience.

The unknowns of the adoption process can be scary. The steps involved in adoption with a private agency such as releasing all personal financial data, completing a home visit, talking to agency counselors about your family history, clearly articulating the reasons you want to adopt, and discussing your philosophy of parenting can seem intimidating and invasive. But, if God has planted the seed of adoption in your soul, he will surely give you the strength, patience, and persistence to see the process through. “God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished,” (Philippians 1:6, New Living Translation).

In addition to fears that may creep in to a prospective adoptive parent’s mind about the adoption process itself, well meaning friends and family can often times make comments projecting unfounded and uneducated fears. When my husband and I had first become matched with our daughter’s birthmother, I remember friends asking, “aren’t you afraid that she (birth mom) will change her mind” and “aren’t you afraid that one day she/they (birth mom/birth family) will want her back?” As a response to these comments, God says, “do not fear.” 1 John 4:18 states, “love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.” When we experience and come to a deeper understanding of the fullness of God’s love, there is no fear. In the place of fear is instead a quiet, calm, peaceful confidence. The confidence that God gives is many times indescribable and difficult to understand, but unmistakable nonetheless.

 

Prayer: Dear God. Thank you for your confidence and reminder to put our trust in you. Help us to not be afraid, but every day to pray for not our, but your will be done. Guide us to your will for our lives, and let us trust you to lead us to be the people you want us to be.

Thought for the Day: Matthew 6:25-34, New Living Translation

25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

Deciding to Adopt – Hannah

Adopting Intentionally – Day 25

For 31 Days I am blogging about Adopting Intentionally, you can find an overview and links to daily posts hereOn the weekends during this series I am inviting guest bloggers to share their personal stories. This weekend, Hannah is sharing her decision to adopt.

AdoptHannah

Allow me to introduce you to Hannah.  Hannah and I grew up in the same town, our parents were friends.  I remember when her mom was pregnant with her.  Since she arrived on the scene she has had the ability to fill a room with her charm. Hannah and Kenny have adopted twice, once internationally and then domestically.  Welcome Hannah, and thank you so much for sharing!

When did you first consider adoption and why did you consider adoption?

Kenny and I have always wanted to have adoption as a part of our family plan.

All of Kenny’s sisters were adopted; two from the U.S. and one from Korea. Even before we started to try to have children we knew at least one of our children would come to us through adoption. For several years, we tried to get pregnant, but were unsuccessful. Instead of trying IUI and IVF, we started the adoption process. To be honest, neither one of us was ready for fertility treatments at that point. We were both still young and the thought of having multiple children scared us. Me especially. Eventually, after our first adoption, we did try IUI treatments, but it was unsuccessful. And still, we weren’t ready for IVF. Our first adoption was so amazing that we knew we wanted to do it again. So we started the domestic adoption process.

Were there any hesitations about adopting?

Honestly, no there weren’t any hesitations. We knew all along that it was a part of our family planning. It was just the timing.

Tell us about how and when you decided to move forward?

When we first decided to adopt, we knew we wanted to do an international adoption for a couple of reasons.

The first was that we had friends who had rough domestic adoption experiences.

Secondly, Kenny’s sister is Korean. We looked into adopting from Korea as well as other countries. But Korea was the best match for us in every way: we had a built in family connection; we were the right age; the wait list seemed reasonable; and it just “felt” right.

So, the first step was to find an agency that worked with both Korea and the state where we were living at the time. Once we found an agency, we were off.

With our second adoption, we were not willing to wait as long as we did the first time. We had waited a year after getting our son to start trying IUI. We knew that any international adoption would be several years and at that time, Korea was closed for international adoption. So it seemed obvious to us that our second adoption experience would be domestic.

We actually had a harder time finding an adoption agency the second time around. We were in a new state, so we couldn’t go back to our original agency. The only local agency required that we be active members of a church, which we were not. Nor did we want to join a church for the sole purpose of adoption. It felt like lying to me and I didn’t want to bring a child into our family that way. So we researched several national agencies and found one that felt like it was the perfect fit. Then we started the process all over.

How were you intentional in your decision to adopt?

We were intentional in so many steps of the adoption process: recognizing that we wanted to adopt; deciding on whether to do domestic vs. international adoption; which agency we wanted to use; what health conditions to consider; how we were going to share our children’s adoption stories with them; what we were going to share about our children’s birth history.

You’ll find that there are so many more decision points in adoption than there is in pregnancy. It is both liberating and intimidating, but in the end totally worth it.

Boo at the Zoo