Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Adoption Expectations That Make You, Not Break You


Expectations. They can kind of make us or break us, can't they? As I've walked with many people through their adoption journeys, I've seen families crushed by unrealistic expectations and I've seen families beautifully hope in God as they've surrendered their expectations to Him. So what does it look like to have reasonable expectations during your adoption and specifically as you work with an adoption consultant at Christian Adoption Consultants? What does it look like for adoption expectations to "make you" rather than "break you?"


1) Remember who is in control.
Sometimes we can trick ourselves into thinking that we can make things happen if we just try hard enough or if others try hard enough on our behalf. But the reality is, in all of life, but especially in adoption, we are not in control. You cannot make an expectant mother choose you. You cannot make a child be placed with you. There is no escaping the reality that we are not ultimately in control of our adoption stories-God is. And that’s really hard but also really freeing because He sees the whole picture long before we do.

2) Remember, God's timing isn't perfectly predictable.
Working with an adoption consultant has many benefits (you can read more about that here). But working with an adoption consultant does not mean you're guaranteed a perfectly easy, lightening fast adoption. Average wait time at CAC once you’ve applied to multiple agencies is 6-10 months to match. That’s the average so that also means you could match sooner or you could match later. If you’re one of the families who is matched before that 6 month time, that’s a wonderful thing! Everyone wants to be that fast whirlwind story, but most adoptions don’t happen that way. If you’re more in that 6-10 month range, take heart-that’s the experience for the majority of CAC families. If it takes longer than 10 months to match with an expectant mom, that doesn’t mean something is wrong with you, or that you aren't meant to adopt, or that you are doomed! Your wait is still going to be absolutely worth it when your baby is in your arms, no matter how long it takes.

**As a side note, one of the large variables to your wait time is how open you are in your adoption preferences (gender, ethnicity, drug or alcohol use, level of openness, etc) but even that doesn’t ultimately determine anything because at the end of the day, it’s all about God’s timing. There is no way for you or me to perfectly predict when He will bring your child to you.

3) Remember, exposure to more adoption situations doesn't mean presenting your profile each week.
If you work with a consultant, you'll be taking a multi-agency approach and that providers greater exposure to available adoptive situations which can cut down the wait time considerably. That doesn’t mean our families see a situation every day or every week. On the flip side, there may be weeks when our families see multiple situations. When someone takes a typical approach to adoption and only works with one agency, it's not uncommon to wait 2-3 years to be matched, sometimes barely presenting your profile much at all during those years. (This is not the case with everyone, but it's common for many who stick with just one agency.) Families working with CAC are in a great position since they are typically seeing many more situations than they would be if they were just with one agency.

4) Remember, your consultant is on your team!
This probably sounds ridiculous to even point out but it's still important to remember! Just like you can't make your baby come to you, I can't either. What I can do is pray, and guide, and support and educate you but I cannot tell you what to do in any given situation and I cannot bring your child to you! My heart as a consultant is for my families. I carry them on my heart. I pray for them, I cry for them and with them, and my heart breaks as theirs does. But I can't make someone's adoption happen-only God can bring them their child.

5) Remember, God is working in your wait.
Waiting is not purposeless! Press hard into the Lord during your wait. Waiting is so hard but it’s not worthless. God is in the wait. He wants to draw you to Himself and help you trust in Him. He wants to show you His love and His grace. He wants to increase your heart of love for the women in crisis pregnancies. He wants to lift your gaze away from yourself to Him. God is using the wait to bring your child to you and He is using the wait to bring you more to His throne of grace. He is able to give you all the help that you need during your wait.

I've got to be honest with you though-none of this completely diminishes the hard of waiting in adoption. But fighting to remember these things can help your heart. Waiting doesn't have to break you-it can make you! It can make you more and more into His image.
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For more information about domestic adoption, please contact me at katief@christianadoptionconsultants.com

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

God's Relentless Pursuit: Adoption Guest Post


Watching God do incredible things through CJ and Andrea's adoption back in 2014 when they were working with Christian Adoption Consultants was an amazing privilege. They are family who deeply loves God, deeply loves one another, and deeply loves adoption. I asked Andrea if she would share some reflections on adoption for the blog today and I'm so glad she was eager to do so. Enjoy!


My husband and I never planned on adoption. Some people are born knowing. Some people know at a young age. Some people know early in their family planning that adoption will be a part of it. This was not us. We had one child. Then two. Then three. And they were perfect and wonderful and beautiful, and they completed our family.   

But God thought not. God whispered in my ear within a few months of #3 making her grand entrance. And after I ignored that whisper, he yelled it loudly. So my husband and I prayed. For over two years, we prayed. And through many lame excuses and a whole lot of doubt, God pursued us relentlessly until we gave him our yes. 

In the adoption process, there can be a lot of fear; so many unknowns. And so much that was out of our control. So we wanted to control what we could, and that meant a closed adoption. Neat and tidy. I think God face-palmed in that moment and sighed. What an amazing opportunity to pour out the love of Christ, and we rejected it. But He worked on us and in us, and by the time we were filling out the paperwork, we were on board with whatever situation God sent our way. And He gave us Levi and his beautiful birth mama. 

We have a semi-open adoption. We have met her once, but once was enough for us to love her. We communicate only via the agency. And I think it is crazy that we ever thought we wanted a closed adoption because our hearts long for more. What a gift she placed in our arms. And, with a few years of parenting under her belt, she knew how her heart would break. When we walked away with Levi, my heart broke for hers. In those moments, my emotion was not wrapped up in the sweet child God had given us, but in the sweet sacrifice that she had made. I was filled to overflowing with a love for her, basically a stranger, who was now and will forever be entangled in our lives. 

When I think about our adoption, I do not see our perfect little family blessing a baby in need, but rather a strong, courageous woman blessing a family in need. Because, though we didn't see it at the time, we needed Levi. We have learned more from him than he will likely ever learn from us. And for that, we are eternally grateful. 
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For more information about domestic adoption, please contact me at katief@christianadoptionconsultants.com

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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Adoption Guest Post: Don't Waste the Wait


No one likes to wait. It's frustrating and it's stretching and it's just plain hard. Right now Will and Candice are in the thick of that really difficult part of the adoption journey-they are waiting for an expectant mama to choose them. I'm honored to be walking with them as their adoption consultant at Christian Adoption Consultants and I'm so glad I get to share Candice's heart with you today!



Guest Post by Candice: Don't Waste The Wait. 

In the process
In the waiting
You're making melodies over me
And your presence 
Is the promise
For I am a pilgrim on a journey
~Shepherd (Bethel Music)

In all honesty, the adoption wait has been a little harder on me than I thought it would be. After dealing with fertility issues before and after our son, Liam, I thought I had this waiting thing down. "No biggie, I've done this many times before..." I was wrong.

As I sit here, I think of all the times I've just repeated Psalm 13 in my head: "How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?" And sometimes, on hard days, I still do. But as look back over the past couple of years, I see how Jesus has worked on my heart, how He has changed my desires and tuned my heart to His. Honestly, none of that would have happened without this wait, as He drew me near and as I leaned into Him. I don't want to waste this wait because, let's be real, none of this is really about me. God is using this for His glory...yes, even this wait.

Listen, He really does meet us in it all. Sometimes I'm tempted to get bitter and compare my situation with those around me. Everywhere I look, people are growing their families with ease. But then I'm reminded that Jesus knows me better than anyone else, better than I know myself. He knows what He is doing, and working behind the scenes even if I doubt it sometimes. There have been times when I have felt so forgotten only to immediately hear Him whisper, "I see you...I know you."

Our awesome adoption consultant, Katie, reminded me that I don't have to feel bad when weary days creep up. She told me, "It's okay to be weary. God knows that some days we will feel like that and so that's why He made a point to speak to that in His Word. Keep clinging to Him!"

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

And she's right, all I can keep doing is clinging to Him.  In fact, I'm sure that's exactly where He wants me.

"Be joyful in hope..."  Romans 12:12
Image Credit: Lauren Carns


Thanks for sharing your heart with us, Candice! It's so beautiful to see Him working in you during the wait! (You can follow Candice's blog over here.)
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For more information about domestic adoption, please contact me at katief@christianadoptionconsultants.com

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Matt and Jacque's Adoption Story: Trusting His Heart


This sweet family has been built through the gift of adoption. They have learned that in the mysterious ups and downs of the process when you can't see what God's doing, you have to trust His heart. Matt and Jacque adopted their oldest son from Ethiopia several years ago and last March they contacted me at Christian Adoption Consultants about beginning a domestic adoption. They were quickly matched with a baby due Christmas Day. But their Christmas wasn't spent welcoming the baby they were waiting for. Instead, a very difficult situation ended in the expectant mom they were matched with choosing to parent.



A failed adoption is a heartbreaking experience to walk through and it can make a family want to quit the entire process. But when I talked with Jacque several days after Christmas she confidently said to me, "We're not giving up on adoption." They knew there was One holding their story in His hands and that He was not finished.



Less than a month later, they heard about a local situation...a baby boy was due very soon and needed a family. After walking through such devastating loss, deciding to put your heart out there on the line again is not an easy decision. I talked with Jacque for quite a while about the situation. We prayed and I hung up the phone unsure of how God would lead them. Later that day I got a text from Jacque:

"We just talked through it and prayed through it like crazy. Once we talked about it we realized the only thing holding us back was fear and we didn't want to look back and regret not doing it because we were fearful."




So they bravely moved forward and they are oh so glad that they did! This sweet guy was born at the end of January and so dearly loved. When they couldn't trace God's hand, they knew His heart was for them. Now we see that kindness so vividly displayed in the life of this little boy! Congratulations, Matt and Jacque!

**Photo credits: Breigh Allen
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For more information about domestic adoption, please contact me at katief@christianadoptionconsultants.com

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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Tonsillectomy Tips From A Six Year Old

Our sweet Addie Beth recently had her tonsils out and she wanted to write a letter with tips for her cousin who is getting his out soon. I thought these were too cute not to share with you and she said that would be just fine. I'm happy to present to you...

10 Tips For Kids Who Get Their Tonsils Out by Addie Beth

1. The people put a circle thing around your head like a mask to help you sleep.

2. It helps you feel better if you just sort of not actually do anything exciting like singing or dancing or something like that or moving around a lot. If you’re out for most of the day, then you should just rest.

3. Basically, for drinking, I would say that you need to never stop drinking. And here’s the way I like to drink: I use one of those syringe things and it gets it out faster so I don’t have to swallow as much.

4. Here’s another tip: your throat might hurt a bit, but after a few days you’ll start to feel like writing and talking and stuff again.

5. When you eat stuff like pancakes, you don’t chew as much, you just chew a bit and swallow.

6. When I got my tonsils out the things I most wanted to eat were Mr. Freezes and MacNCheese also.

7. Your throat is gonna hurt a little bit but the doctors and your parents will give you medicine to help with it.

8. The doctors will call your parents after a few days to check on you and will ask to make sure you’re doing ok.

9. At first, it might be a little hard to sleep after the day because you’re like, “Why can’t I do anything exciting?” but that’s because you need rest and the day's the most good time to rest.

10. The most helpful thing to know is that the thing they put on you to make you fall asleep might kind of smell and you might think, “This feels weird. What’s happening to me?” But after you’re asleep they will open your mouth for you.

These are a few tips for when you get your tonsils out. Oh! And there is one more thing you will really want to know: for me, they did an iv but that was just a small thing and it wasn’t too bad. It just feels like a little pinch.

Love, 
Addie

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Friday, March 11, 2016

Adoption Guest Post: Happy-Sadness


A couple months ago I shared a guest post by Kim about the costs of infertility. I have the privilege of being Rick and Kim's adoption consultant right now through Christian Adoption Consultants. I love reading anything and everything that Kim writes! God's given her a gift with words and her writing always go straight to my heart. Here is another beautiful guest post that Kim wrote about the happy-sadness of this stage of waiting in their adoption process.


Happy-Sadness in Adoption by Kim
What do you say when people ask you how you’re doing? Fifteen years ago my standard response would have been, “fine” – no matter what was really happening. But then I “randomly” sat down next to a boy I didn’t know at all and asked him how he was doing…and he actually told me! He told me that he just broke up with his girlfriend and he was trying to figure out if they could still be friends, and on, and on, and on…and after I picked up my jaw off the floor I actually shared my experience. And we had a real conversation. It felt awkward at first because he was sharing so much, but his honesty gave me permission to share my experience. And it was refreshing to feel like I got a glimpse of who someone really was!

And since then, I’ve been ruined to pat answers. (I suppose that might also be because I went on to marry that boy). I’ve been trying to figure out how to tell others what I’m feeling these days. Honestly, I’m a little all over the place emotionally. I’m happy, anxious, excited, fearful, sad. Sometimes all within minutes of each other. I promise I’m emotionally stable. Not because I don’t feel these things – but because I don’t act on these things.

But, this mingling of emotions reminds me of a reality that has become increasingly more prevalent now that I’m an adult. It’s the concept of “happy-sadness.”

The reality is that joy and sadness often mix within the adult life. The dichotomy of living with both is prevalent constantly. I didn't intend to look for instances of happy-sad. In fact, I rather naively believed that you could avoid sadness if you made all the right choices. I thought if I worked hard and did what was best I could control my life. Whatever sadness would come - would be of my own doing. Whatever happiness I experienced - I suppose was my decision too. It was a naive opinion. And a prideful one. And then life happened. Uncontrollable. Broken. Unexpected. And somewhere along the way I learned that my circumstances and my emotions weren't always compatible. Whether by wisdom or fear, I tended to spend a significant amount of time sitting in the tension of happy-sad. Excited and happy one moment and fearful and sad the next - sometimes both at once.

I've been thinking about this because it is my dominant emotion in this season of waiting. In the adoption process there's a lot of waiting. Sometimes you wait patiently, sometimes you wait busily, and sometimes you wait emotionally. This waiting season is the emotional one…because, we are matched! A brave woman saw something in us that connected with someone in her. And she decided to journey through life with us. It's super exciting – but it's also really hard.

Journeying through this stage means trying to form an instant and deep bond with someone we live far away from and naturally have little in common with. Our life experiences have been wildly different and our current circumstances make it seem like we come from different worlds. We try to empathize and therefore we feel deeply with her as she faces her own uncertainty, sadness and fears.

This is the view from the natural world. It's sad. It's hard. It's broken. But journeying through this stage also means honoring someone exactly where he or she is while praying and hoping through their potential. It means seeing your life through the eyes of someone else's experience. It means committing to love while love grows. It's being joyful about new life, because new life is a miracle. This is the view from the spiritual world. It's exciting. It's important. It's hopeful. And this is the filter we strive to exist in. Keeping in mind both the pain and the peace. Allowing ourselves to feel the fear and the hope.

There is a time for mourning and a time for dancing. There are seasons when one emotion may monopolize most of your days. But more often, I believe there's a reality that exists only in this present world. Sadness and joy. Brokenness and wholeness. All intertwined in to a surprising and beautiful reality. The sadness brings completion to the joy. The brokenness helps you to deeply appreciate when things are made whole.

It’s important to remember these are earthly lessons. Worldly trials. It’s an opportunity to know the heart of a Father that will one day express love in a different way.  We won’t need to trust him in brokenness when all is made whole. We won’t have to love him in sadness when he wipes every tear from our eyes. One day all will be healed. There will be no more brokenness. No need for hope. No prideful views. No stubborn will that needs to submit.

But today - and probably tomorrow - I will live in the tension of happy-sadness. Content to take the hard with the easy. And hopeful to lean in and learn more about the heart of my Father, while the opportunity to experience him in this way is still possible.

Cry and laugh today friends. Both are good!
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For more information about domestic adoption, please contact me at katief@christianadoptionconsultants.com

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Adoption Guest Post: Bloom Where You Are Planted


Recently, one of my sweet families at Christian Adoption Consultants had the opportunity to share with their church community about the beginning of their adoption journey. Bryan and Laura are currently in the process of getting their home study completed and then I'll be walking them through the process of applying to various adoption agencies. I asked Laura if I could post a bit of what she shared in hopes that it encourages you as much as it did me!



Bloom Where You Are Planted by Laura
Everyone knows the phrase, “Bloom where you are planted.” It means to grow wherever you are. Let’s be honest, everyone wants to bloom in a beautiful garden, and feel they deserve that. What happens though if our garden is rocky, or maybe gets too much sun? The challenge is not to bloom in the perfect garden; it’s to bloom in whatever soil you find yourself. Although it’s not directly stated in the Bible, there are countless stories that encompass this theme. Specifically there is a passage in Jeremiah which says, ‘Build houses and settle down. Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.’ For those of you who don’t know the story, these verses are a message to the people who have been forced into exile because of their King’s disobedient behavior. They are being punished for something they didn’t do and are full of despair. Then a message from God arrives and he tells them, I can make beauty from this mess; I can turn these ashes into hope. I can make your lives great if you follow me. He tells them to “Bloom where they are planted.” Even though they have been suffering, if they trust in him, and hope for their future they can turn this into a beautiful garden.

Most of us can relate because, at one time or another, we hope for something in spite of what seem like insurmountable challenges. For example, I hope for dirty diapers, for late night cries, and yes, even for those over the top temper tantrums, and in spite of some huge mountains, I know that someday soon I’ll be a mom.

On the day I was born, joy quickly turned to fear. As I was diagnosed with a complex heart condition, and within days of my birth, I had my first open heart surgery, and the life my parents dreamt for me was changed forever. They now had to bloom where they were planted, in a rocky garden, full of unknown weeds. They waited for me to wake up after surgery, instead of my cries waking them. My parents’ hopes changed from a healthy baby, to hope for more time with me.

Thankfully, God was on my side, and with the help of some incredible medicine and doctors, I stand before you today after two open-heart surgeries before the age of twenty. I never felt that my heart made me special, delicate, or even someone to be admired. To be quite honest, I never thought of much. I live a normal life. Naturally, I thought I could be a mom too. I thought since I faced enough problems, I was owed an unbelievable garden.

After numerous tests, arguments, and number crunching, it was decided that pregnancy was too big of a risk. It was more important for me to be a mother, than to experience pregnancy. I would happily trade nine months, for a lifetime with our baby. The question became how would we have a child?

Eventually, with our hope renewed we decided that we were being called to adopt. While the decision to adopt was easy, the path to our child is not. There are hoops to jump through, and a significant financial hurdle as well. As B and I continue down this path that leads to our child, we look forward with hope. We hope that you know how much your generosity, prayers, and support mean to us, and that we can never repay you.

Thinking back to the story in the beginning, it is important to note the next few lines. I’m positive you are familiar with them, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” After everything, God comes out at says, don’t worry; I know that you are afraid, but I promise that in the end, it’s going to be worth it.

B and I may not have chosen this garden, it may not have the best soil, best seeds, or the most knowledgeable farmers, but as God promised, we are making this place our home, watching his plan unfold, and blooming where we are planted. Thank you.

If you'd like to read more of Bryan and Laura's story, check out their blog.
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For more information about domestic adoption, please contact me at katief@christianadoptionconsultants.com.



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