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. 

IMG_0003

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.

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

Adoption Disrupted

Adopting Intentionally – Day 24

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

AdoptionDisrupted

We knew when we stepped into adoption that birthparents change their minds.  It is part of the process of adopting domestically.  We had prepared our hearts as best we could for this.  We trusted with open hands that a child would come to us, and that the timing was not ours to determine.

We had a disrupted adoption, with the same child, twice.

The beginning days were not easy.  The path toward adoption was filled with disappointments and detours.

The baby was due July 1, 2009.  On June 1 our agency called, the birthmother ran into the birthfather and they decided that they would raise the baby together.  They were no longer working with the birthmother.

Our caseworker asked if we wanted to continue to wait and see if this child became available or if we wanted to be put back on the list of waiting parents.  We chose to go on the list as waiting parents, and were simultaneously open to this birthmother changing her mind.

Our addition was disrupted. We were in many ways starting at the beginning again.  We asked our hearts to shift.

Almost a month later we received an email while out of the state.  The birthmother had had the baby, and wanted us to adopt him.

We rushed back home to be ready, but the process became delayed.  There were complications and the baby was to be placed in foster care with the state.

On June 30, 2009 we were told that the baby would not be with us.  We pursued that child, through our agency and through the Department of Children and families for a month.  And then we were told that all doors were closed.

What can you do when an adoption is disrupted?

1.  Allow yourself to grieve

Having a disrupted adoption is a real loss.  It is not a death, but it is a letting go.  You ought to feel sad.  You can cry, process, reflect.  Walk all the way through the stages of aching.  And with that energy, pray for that baby, for that birthmother and for their days ahead.

2. Ask your agency to continue doing all that they can do

There is no harm in having an agency continue on your behalf.  You can make decisions in the future, allow the various players to continue forward.  We did not get a second call after the disruption with our first son.  However, while our second son was placed with us we received two calls about other children.  We walked through those steps when they were presented to us.

3. Mark memories for you future self

When we got the phone call that the baby had been born on June 22, there were orange day lilies just beginning to bloom everywhere.  We allowed the orange flash of them to cause us to think about the little boy, and we knew this would be true for years to come.  We also placed his birthdate on our computer calendars to come up as a reminder every year to pray for him.

4. Open your hands to what is next

When you are ready allow your hands to be open.  You never know what is next for you.  We went on a trip to Spain, fostered another amazing little boy, and bought a new house.  We were open.

May you be ready to receive the great gift of adoption.

To read the rest of the story about our disrupted adoption

Adoption: The Waiting – Brianna

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, Brianna is sharing the long wait she and her family endured to bring her daughter home.

AdoptiontheWaiting

What was the process of adopting like for us? The process was, in a word, challenging. I mean, not the paperwork, the home study, the parts we had some control over. But once that was all done and the waiting set in, challenging. (Honestly, I want to say horrific, but I don’t want to scare anyone from adopting. Do I say what I’m feeling with a layer of tact and diplomacy, or do I just come out and share the gritty truth?) Now that our daughter is home (currently sleeping on the floor of my bedroom next to my son, sprawled in one of her millions of unusual configurations), I can look back on the last four years with some clarity. And the word that comes to mind is horrific, and yet I see beauty and peace sprinkled in there as well.

Our home study and dossier were completed in May 2011 and submitted to India in June.

I was ready for some waiting time before matched with a child. However, that was not where the real waiting would be. August 12, 2011, we were matched with a sweet two-year-old girl who had lived in an orphanage in India since she was six days old. From the timeline provided us by our placing agency and the families we knew who had adopted from India, we expected to have her home in nine to twelve months. (I laugh at our naivety then).

At this point, everything we could do had been done. Now our case (and our hearts, our daughter) lay in the hands of the nameless, faceless people working for the machine that is Indian bureaucracy.

The first step in the process was receiving NOC from CARA. That is a No Objection Certificate from the Central Adoption Resource Authority in India. The expected wait for this step – two to four months. When it grew to six months, we called our placing agency to see what was happening with our case. They told us that in December 2011 (four months after we were matched) India had revamped their process and moved many steps online. There was now a monthly quota of how many families’ dossiers could be submitted, all online. Along with the online move, they were changing how they processed adoptions, so families under the newer laws would have their adoptions finalized in India instead of having to come back to America and do that in the courts here.

For some reason, with these changes, all the cases that were in process were set aside. It seemed that CARA didn’t have much time for issuing NOCs when they were dealing with the inevitable snafus that come as a result of trying to bring the adoption process in India into the 21st Century. We called, we emailed, we begged our agency for news, any news, of any progress. NONE.

 On July 6, 2012 (our 10th wedding anniversary and 11 months after being matched) we received an email saying NOC had been granted.

I remember we were in the car with Ethan on the way to the beach, and I just started sobbing. Why? I have no idea. I think I had started to doubt it would ever happen, and then I thought, Well, she’ll be home for Christmas this year. Again, I laugh.

Now that we had received NOC, we could at least have contact with our daughter. I could send pictures, stuffed animals, introduce her to us, her family who loved her and couldn’t wait to have her home. These things I did in earnest, sending something nearly every month.

Next our case moved to the court in the city where our daughter was living. Some judge had to approve us as parents and confirm that she was legally up for adoption. The timeline provided to us was two to three months. *hysterical (slightly crazy) laughter*

When we didn’t hear any news after three months, we emailed our agency. What was the hold up? No idea, but we’ll let you know when we know anything. When we learned in November (four months after receiving NOC) that Mohit would be in India on a business trip the first week of December, we decided to visit our daughter. I took a week off of work, left my son with my parents, and flew to India to meet Mohit and visit the orphanage. We spent three hours each day for three days with our daughter. Way too little time to get to know her, especially with the language barrier, and too much time to realize that now we KNEW her, we wanted her home, but we would have to leave her there, indefinitely. 

It was from the orphanage workers that we learned we had had a court date set up in November, but the judge had retired before he could hear our case. When will there be a new judge? No idea, but definitely by the beginning of the new year.

2013 began with high hopes, but as month after month passed, we realized we were in this for the long haul.

I’d like to say that we were patiently waiting, resting in the assurance that God was/IS in control and His timing is always perfect. I’d like to say that my packages continued every month to India because I was faithful and sure of the outcome. But that would be lying.

I wondered, I doubted, I questioned, I begged, I screamed at God, all the while clinging to Him with desperate hands. I don’t think I made it through one Sunday service for seven months without sobbing as we sang worship songs. You know the ones, the ones that say things like, “Our God is fighting for us all” and “He makes the orphan a son or daughter” and “Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me.” Even my praise was blocked by my doubts and grief, grief over knowing and loving a little girl who lived thousands of miles away from me. And yet, with my head, and to my friends, I could say with assurance these things that I knew to be true – God IS in control and His timing is always perfect.

And yet, just like in the poem “Footprints,” God was so gracious and faithful to carry me despite all of that. He would show me in so many ways that He knew, that He cared, and that He had great things in store for us, I just had to trust and rest. Many times it was through songs on the radio – Blessings by Nora Story, Before the Morning by Josh Wilson, He is With Us by Love and the Outcome, Already There by Casting Crowns. Often it was through a Facebook post, those short quotes on pretty backgrounds – I have learned to kiss the wave that slams me into the Rock of Ages by Charles Spurgeon. Sometimes it was from the blogs I would read, trying to glean comfort from those that had gone before me and were already in their happily ever after. This is a good example, from Jen Hatmaker, “It makes sense that the Holy Spirit is called the Comforter because if you actually follow where he leads you, you’re going to need one…We trust that the God who begged us to care for the orphan actually cares about them and is weaving this beautiful story together right in front of our eyes.”

Finally, and the most amazing to me, were the times when He actually spoke to me in that still small voice, answering my questions and my doubts. He would remind me that He loved my daughter more than I did. He has a purpose and a reason and I am not “skilled enough to understand what [He] has planned,” (Aaron Shust, My Savior, My God). He didn’t call me to control anything but only to walk in obedience and then trust.

Not only did God comfort me, but He changed me. He used this time to work on my marriage, my parenting skills, and even my anger problem. He, ever so gently and lovingly, led my family on a journey that changed how we see others and our purpose in this life and how we use our time, talents, and money. He showed me what it was like to truly commune with Him, the three-in-one Godhead. He prepared Ethan to be the best big brother ever. He provided us time to travel to India so Ethan could meet Mohit’s family over there and then meet his sister and see where she came from and how she lived. Here was the beauty and peace in the midst of my pain, my grief.

In May 2013 a new judge was appointed to the court in India, just in time to take a six week summer vacation. We didn’t want too much time to pass before seeing Nayami again, and since she wasn’t coming home anytime soon, we took Ethan to meet her in August 2013. While we were there, our representative in India (called a RIPA) attended our first court date…where they set another court date to review the case.

The judge missed the next date. Then the lawyers in the city went on strike. Then the holidays had to be observed. (For a country where Hindu, Muslim, and Christian holidays are observed, I often wonder how any work gets done.) 2013 became 2014. Then the courts were closed for elections. Then a court date was set, but it was another holiday so it had to be moved. Then another six week summer vacation had to be taken, since the judge had worked so hard over the last year.

When I shared with a friend that the courts were closed for elections, he replied, “Well, of course.” Upon my startled look, he explained that he wasn’t surprised. With all the set backs we had experience, he was just waiting for the next one. He suggested I make a list of everything that could go wrong and just start checking them off as they came. We laughed, but I actually started expecting to hear that the court building had caught on fire and all our paperwork was lost and we would have to start all over again.

Then, miracle of miracles, I received an email June 26, 2014 (nearly two years after receiving NOC) that we had passed court.

Again, I sobbed, and again, I’m not quite sure why. I was under the impression that after court, it would take another year to actually bring her home, but along with that email came 11 others discussing travel to India and picking up our daughter. In amazement I emailed our agency to make sure I understood correctly. Our case manager assured me it was really happening, and our daughter should be home in the fall. June 27 I asked my supervisor for a year leave of absence from my teaching job.

Over the next three months we cleaned out the garage so we could clean out her room and make it livable. We met someone who spoke our daughter’s language and tried to learn (or record) certain key words and phrases so we could communicate. We enjoyed the summer with Ethan, constantly reminding ourselves we would be a family of four. And we praised God, for His provision, His grace, and His unending love.