Saturday, January 30, 2016

Adoption: Protecting Your Child's Story

Photo credit: Jessica Phelps Photography
When we brought home our son through his whirlwind adoption with the help of Christian Adoption Consultants, questions abounded. "Is his birth mom young?" (Actually, more people said, "Is his mom young?") "What about his birth dad?" "Why did she choose adoption?" "Does she have any other kids?" "Was she on drugs? Is he healthy?" Honestly, I was a bit taken back by all the curiosity (I mean, these are VERY personal questions. Would you ask a friend of yours if they were using drugs during their pregnancy?!). At first, I didn't give a ton of thought to most of what I shared. I was so thankful to the Lord for bringing our baby to us and I was eager to let others know what God had done. I wanted people to see His hand at work in my son's life and in ours and I still do. I don't want to hide what God's done. But I also want to remember that this isn't just my story to share...ultimately it's Titus's.

I'm not sure what my son will want shared with others about the circumstances surrounding his adoption as he grows. Will he want people to know all about his birth mom? Maybe. But maybe not. It's ultimately his story to tell, not just mine.

Your child's story is just that-it's theirs. It's their story to tell one day if they so choose. It's really impossible to know right now what they will want to share one day. You may be the most open, transparent person in the world and feel comfortable sharing every detail of your life story with anyone and everyone. But this isn't just your story-it's your child's story. Please protect it with the same fierce love that you protect their physical lives with. It's that important.

Hear my heart here, I'm not saying be silent about all that's involved with your child's adoption. I was hesitant to even post this at first because I don't want anyone to misunderstand what I'm saying or to feel judged or condemned. I'm not saying you are wrong to share anything at all about your child's story! This child's life is a miracle! God may lead each family a little differently here about what to share and you need to follow Him, not me. I just want to encourage you to think and pray about this issue more deeply.

There's a lot that can be shared and should be shared but it all needs to be shared carefully. (As a side note, this is especially true in this day and age where social media is so prevalent and so much of life is lived "all out there." It's all too easy to share more than what's necessary or helpful.) And remember, it's much easier to share more as time goes on than to take back something you've shared.


Before you share ask yourself a couple of questions:

*  Is this something my child may one day wish I hadn't shared?

* Does this respect the privacy of my child's birth parents?

* How can I answer in a way that honors my child and their story?

* If my child is old enough to understand, have I asked them if it's ok for me to share this with others?

* Have I prayed about this and asked God for wisdom about this?



There is no set of rules for what should be shared and what shouldn't. Remember, this not about being secretive-it's about protecting your child's story.



Here are some things that I recommend you don't share broadly and possibly don't share at all:

* Why your child's birth mom placed him or her for adoption

* The circumstances surrounding your child's birth mom's pregnancy

* The health of your child's birth mom

* Any drug, alcohol use, or mental illness in your child's birth family

* Your child's toxicology report from birth

* Your child's birth parents' relationship with one another

* Pictures of your child's birth parents' faces (absolutely do not share any of their faces without their permission)


If you are preparing to adopt, I hope these questions will help you think about this more deeply than I did before Titus was born. And if you've already brought your child home, I'm not writing to cast judgment on you if you've shared more than I recommend. Honestly, I wish I could go back in time and erase some of what I shared initially about Titus' story! But I trust that God will use that for His glory and I just didn't know then that it's his story to tell and not mine.

Today if someone asks me a question about my son's story that I'm simply not sure I should share, I don't. Instead, I say, "That's Titus' story so I want to respect his privacy by not sharing those details. Thanks for understanding." Maybe someone will feel like I'm being rude when I say that but that's ok. I'd rather someone feel offended or hurt if I don't share with them than have my son one day feel like I've hurt or betrayed him by sharing his story without his permission.

Protect your child's story. You won't regret it.
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Please contact me at katief@christianadoptionconsultants.com for more info about adoption and CAC. I'd love to help you in your adoption journey!


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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Guest Post: The Cost of Infertility, 10 Reflections

Knowing Rick and Kim has been a gift to my heart. The way they process life through the lens of the Gospel is beautiful and compelling. They have three little ones that entered their family through the gift of adoption and they are waiting with Christian Adoption Consultants again for God to bring number four. They recently had a huge disappointment in their journey and I asked Kim if I could share her thoughts because they so strikingly reflect a heart that trusts God.


The Cost of Infertility, 10 Reflections (by Kim)

This morning I was processing during a rare moment where I curled my hair. I never quite got around to make-up. But I wore something other than a T-shirt. So I'm calling it a win. I was thinking about what I would tell people about our recent journey. We want to be transparent and to communicate well. We want to continue to tell others what is true. But we aren't sure how we feel yet. We aren't sure what parts of the story need to be talked about and what needs to be stored away as mere information instead of helpful instruction.

And pretty quickly my pondering turned to pouting. I thought about the journey of others and whether or not they ever had to go through something like this. (Comparison always works out well, doesn't it?) And I decided that what we went through - being matched with a baby we believed was ours and dreaming and planning, moving our whole family so we could be his, sitting in uncertainty yet loving wholeheartedly - that this was...
The Cost of Infertility.
Everything has a cost. And while I did not voluntarily sign up for infertility - I was made for it. You read that right. I was made for this.

I don't believe God intended infertility or brokenness. Or even adoption  (though I hate even writing that because adoption is so beautiful and dear to me). The world was supposed to be without death, without poverty, without  drugs, without orphans. Families were intended to be whole. Bodies were intended to be healthy.

But that same Sovereign God made a plan for our brokenness. He gave himself to meet my needs. First to give me the great hope of wholeness and reconciliation with Him, and second for a purpose in this life while I wait to be with Him. And in this life it means living with infertility. He knew this would be true for me. And he created me and surrounded me to be equipped for this. (I also believe this doesn't always have to be true of me - but that's a story for another day).

And while it is true that my story costs me something - what I've bought is much grander than the investment I've made. Here are just a few of the gifts we've been able to purchase - without money and with very little cost:

  
1. We get to say "Yes!", when it would be easy to say no. 
In a  world that values ease, we have learned to say yes, until someone tells  us no. It's a lesson in perseverance. And it's a lesson that this  strong-willed and yet emotionally timid girl needed. It would be easy to  bail when things got hard. But we've seen that when we say yes, when we  say we're "all in" - we get to extend some of the grace we've been  given - to others. We can provide them with space to feel and to freak out because we have determined to be unyielding. It's what Jesus does  with us. He allows me to be faithless when He is faithful. I can rage like a disappointed toddler and I know I do this within the safe arms of  a loving and unchanging God.

2. We are invited in to the brokenness of others lives. 
Every adoption story involves brokenness. It involves two broken families  coming together for the good of a kid who bears no responsibility for  the brokenness surrounding them. Adoption shines a bright light on the brokenness of the biological family because there is a reason that this  child needs a new home. And when that spotlight is pointed at them and  you step into their light - you see your brokenness more clearly as  well. We've been given the opportunity to be humble when the world would  imply that we could take the dangerous road of posturing. Hopefully  we've also come out more able to love - because humility leads to  understanding and empathy. And once you can feel what others feel it's  hard not to love them exactly where they are.

3. We get to trust God when it doesn't make sense. 
We tend to  want things to be fair, don't we? We want everyone to have the same  things, the same experiences, the same views. And when we see differences and discrepancy we have two options. We can choose jealousy  and/or ridicule, which leads to bitterness. Or we can choose to trust in the plans of a sovereign God who continues to be good. The  reality is there is not always justice on this side of heaven. The rich get richer and the poor stay poor. And that stinks. But we know the one  who knows all the whys. And we are regularly given opportunities to trust Him when it doesn't make sense - when he asks us to walk so walls  fall (Joshua 6), to show up because love is an action, and to feel until our hearts  hurt for ourselves and others. And at the end of the day we get to call  Him good. We get to tell others He is good. Because we believe it, and  it's a privilege to walk with Him even if only the next step is  illuminated and the rest of the road is dark.

4. We see how GOD makes families. 
I went through sex-ed when I  was in elementary school. I know how babies are made. But we've had time and space and tears to process through what is true about families and who it is that forms them in the secret place. I've heard so many well meaning people talk about their kids by saying something like - "we  made them." And while it makes sense that the non-believing world would depend upon themselves (or science) to give them children I often ask my Christian friends, "Really, you made that? You and your husband went in to the back room and created life? How did that go for you?" After looking at me funny they admit, "well I didn't make them, God did." See, we had to come to that conclusion right away. Because when you struggle with infertility you are VERY aware that you are not the author of life. And, more so, as we've pursued adoption we've been VERY aware that God has a Will that will come to pass. In the same place that He created those cute little babies that have your hair and your husband's eyes and put them in your cute little bellies, he created lives that have our hearts and were made in His image and placed them in our family. Only God can create insatiable love for people you would have no claim to without the permanency and love of God that goes before you.

5. We have learned to be open-handed with our kids. 
While this  lesson is on-going, and must be continuously relearned, our experience  has required that we love wholeheartedly while also being completely  uncertain. You just have to be open-handed under those  circumstances. You have to trust God will pick up the broken pieces of  your heart should it come to that. You learn to say, "The Lord gives and  the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord!" (Job 1:21) And  it's hard. But it's good. While our kids could not be more permanently  ours, they are also more permanently God's. We are stewards of  them, invited to love and bless and lead them, this side of heaven.  People will often ask me, "Don't you want kids of your own?" And with  all of the grace I can muster, and just a little bit of a disapproving look, I say, "These are my own kids." God has given them to us. They are ours in every parenting sense of the word. But more than that they belong to the King of Kings, who loves them more than anyone else (even though we tell them mommy and daddy love them a very close second). Their permanency with us was always known by God, but it was not always known by us. So we prayed every day - "Jesus they are yours. Please let them be ours too." And God was gracious. He allowed us to have each other. But because of our start, we will never forget who is in charge, and who they ultimately belong to. 

6. We get to normalize that which is misunderstood. 
Everyone has a borrowed adoption horror story. I've yet to meet anyone who has adopted who has cautioned me away from trusting God in this way. But we've met plenty of people who know a friend of a second cousin who had just a terrible experience and "aren't you just so scared?" It's true - adoption is not for the faint of heart. But it's beautiful! It's glorious! It's fun! And we have the opportunity to understand it and interpret it and rewrite the language that others use. Both because adoption needs to be understood so more people can adopt - but also because I don't want people telling my kids a bunch of lies about their story because they don't understand the redemption of adoption that God writes. I'm kind of a mother bear in that way. :)

7. We have the opportunity to be intentional. 
To be intentional or deliberate is to to do something on purpose. Our path was not an accident. We purposed to adopt. My infertility was not a surprise to God - he wrote my part so that I would be ready for my kid's part. There should be no question that we chose our kids and that we will stick with them. And I love that. I used to want to have a surprise pregnancy so I'd have an excuse not to work in a job I was not suited for. And while we would have been thrilled with whatever child God gave us by whatever means, it's not a very good story is it?  "Well son, I really disliked my job so I thought having a kid might be more fun." Contrarily, our kid's stories are amazing! They have the fingerprints of  God all over them - He moved us then He made them. There were hard obstacles, but we ran through them because they were at the other  end. And all the wait seemed like just a few days "because of all the love we had for them (Genesis 29)"...And then we lived happily ever after. We've been invited to witness and live the stuff that the great  stories are made of! How cool is that?

8. We get to connect with the ancients. 
Did you know that a lot of the patriarchs struggled with infertility? Abraham, Isaac, Jacob.  They all had first hand knowledge of longing for children and having to  depend on God to provide them. Sometimes those stories went a little  wonky. Like when Jacob's wives gave him their maidservants as wives so that they could have more children...I'm just sayin - Rick gets one wife. That's it. But I have known the pain and suffering of longing for a  child and being willing to do crazy stuff to try and get one. And when we read in the Bible about how God provided, and the mistakes that were  made along the way. We pay attention a little more. We relate a little  deeper. And it encourages me that I've walked through a little of what  the faithful firsts also went through. It validates God's love of the  broken, of which I am the worst.

9. I can give an answer to the pro-choice movement. 
The biggest criticism I've heard of the pro-life movement is that their  ideals are not followed through by appropriate actions. Where will the  babies go that we want people to have? We say - to us! We are the answer  for women in crisis and for babies who need parents. Us, and others  like us. I realize that this is a very simplified answer to a very  complex problem. And I won't pretend this is the whole solution. This is  not inherently a pro-life post; but it is a valuing of life post. And  we have learned to value life because of our circumstances and our kids.  You inherently value that which is difficult to obtain. And we LOVE  kids. Like a lot. It's a blessing to have learned this before we became  parents.

10. We are invited to share with vulnerability and inclusion. 
It takes a village to raise a child. And in our case it takes a village to bring a child home. We have been overwhelmed by the help of others as God forms our family. We've had several people donate breast milk for  each of our kids (talk about a labor of love!), we've had help housing  and caring for our kids while we've traveled. You've come to court,  wrote recommendations - prayed and prayed and prayed! We've been able to  share our stories and have been invited to be vulnerable. It's a blessing to live life with others, and we thank you for going on this  journey with us.

Right now, "We are given pieces of the puzzle without being given the picture on the top of the box." And maybe this is how we feel...we know God is painting a beautiful picture. But we can only see the pieces. One day the pieces will come together and we will be delighted to share it with you. Until then, we count the cost, knowing it costs us very little. And we are grateful for what we have earned. We have much to be grateful for!
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Kim, thank you for allowing me to share your beautiful words today. I'm praying along with you and can't wait to watch the pieces come together in your story!

Please contact me at katief@christianadoptionconsultants.com for more info about adoption and CAC. I'd love to help you in your adoption journey!

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Friday, January 22, 2016

Adoption Story: Ken and Rachael and Love That Never Fails

You know how in the book of Ruth you see Ruth and Naomi walking through these awful hard days of loss and difficulty and God's presence seems hidden? Trial and unexpected circumstances keep coming, and at first it's really difficult to pinpoint God's hand and presence. But ultimately, God was there, in each of the hard moments, and He had something beautiful in store.

That's what comes to my mind as I think of Ken and Rachael's adoption process. There is a stunning thread of love woven through each day of their long, hard journey. Each step of the way, God was bringing about His beautiful loving purposes for their adoption journey, though in many moments His hand was imperceptible.

When they got started with Tracie at Christian Adoption Consultants they were hopeful that their story would be like many CAC families: fast and smooth. But it wasn’t. The road to their baby took incredible endurance. It was filled with an unusually long, unexplainable wait despite their very open hearts towards the many potential situations that came their way. Again and again they presented their profile to expectant mamas and again and again, they heard the difficult answer, “ no.” Months turned to a year and more months of waiting until finally a long desired match came. But that situation ended without the baby coming home to them. And then more months of agonizing wait. More months of fighting to hope in God and fighting to believe that He was not done with their adoption story. Nothing was easy. Nothing was fast. Nothing was the way they’d envisioned. But love was at work; God's love and the love they had for the baby who would come into their family remained constant.

"Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends." (1 Corinthians 13:7-8 ESV)

I prayed along with them, questioned what in the world God was up to, asked the rest of the CAC staff to pray for them, and waited for love to win the day. They continued to believe that God had led them to adoption and they fought to keep hoping in Him.

And then one afternoon in May, Ken and Rachael saw a glimmer of hope. They had been chosen by a brave expectant mama who was due later that month. They cautiously stepped forward in faith, hesitant to fully invest their hearts after what they’d already endured, yet wanting to trust Him.

At the end of May, their beautiful daughter was born. A surprising twist in their story came with her birth as it was discovered that their daughter has unexpected complex health issues that will require lifetime care. This was not what they had envisioned when they started their adoption journey, but they did not waver. God gave them faith to move forward anyway, by his grace. They knew that this was their daughter. They knew that God had led them to her and they were absolutely committed to her, come what may. They fiercely loved her immediately.

This beautiful, happy little girl’s life is truly a testimony to the unending love of God that does not fail. He sustained Ken and Rachael through the excruciating wait, enabling them to keep hoping in Him rather than giving up and walking away from adoption. He poured out His grace to help them keep enduring all the way until she was in their arms. And His love is sustaining them as their family transitions into life with a precious medically fragile little one who is fiercely loved.

During all of those months when we were wondering what He was up to, God was at work, lovingly bringing this little girl into a family that can care for her and support her. One look at this little girl's face will tell you that His love never fails!

Please join me in praying for these friends of mine as they continue to care for their little girl and her many needs.
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Please contact me at katief@christianadoptionconsultants.com for more info about adoption and CAC. I'd love to help you in your adoption journey!

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Friday, January 8, 2016

New Year Adoption Discount

By now we're several weeks into the new year-several weeks into resolutions and goals and dreams. Is adoption a part of your dreams? Are you carrying on your heart that beautiful weighty question, wondering if now is the time? 




If you're like most families, the reasons why this might be impossible immediately fly through your thoughts: I don't even know where we would start! I don't know one other family who has adopted! And the cost, adoption is so expensive!

That's where we come in. Christian Adoption Consultants can come beside you to guide you on your adoption journey. We can equip you with the education and resources you need to make your dream of adoption become a reality. Because how you achieve your goals is just as important as if you do. 

If adoption is one of your goals for 2016, Christian Adoption Consultants wants to help you get started by offering a $100 discount. Any new families who sign up between January 11th and 15th will receive $100 off of our full service consulting packages. (This discount does not apply to our self serve consulting package, returning families, or special needs consulting packages).

Let's make 2016 the year you open your home to a child through adoption!

Want more info on Christian Adoption Consultants?  Click here.
* To look through our information packet, click here.
* For more about why to use an adoption consultant, click here.
* To read my heart's refrain about all we would have missed if we hadn't jumped in, click here.

Email me at katief@christianadoptionconsultants.com for more information today! I would love to chat with you and pray along with you as you consider if CAC is a good fit for you.

Have friends who are thinking about adoption? Make sure you share this post! 

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

How Can We Thank You Enough

The unseen, all too often unrecognized heroes in the world of adoption are the women who lovingly make one of the most difficult choices imaginable, all for the sake of their children. Birth mothers deserve our respect and appreciation! Oh, how I would love for God to encourage the hearts of birth mamas everywhere and that they will know how very deeply loved they are! Check out these words from adoptive mamas who worked with Christian Adoption Consultants to/about their child's birth mom and grab some tissues.






Please contact me at katief@christianadoptionconsultants.com for more info about adoption and CAC. I'd love to help you in your adoption journey!

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Monday, October 12, 2015

Fall CAC Discount

Apple cider, pumpkins, beautiful leaves changing color...there are so many things to love about this season. And I've got another reason today for you to jump up and down about the fall:


Christian Adoption Consultants is offering a 10% discount on all of our full service domestic consulting packages! Any new families who sign on will receive 10% off the full service package. (This discount does not apply to the Do It Yourself Program and may not be combined with any other discounts). This discount is available today (October 13th) through Friday (October 16th). We only offer discounts like this only a few times a year - don't miss out!

* To look through our information packet, click here.
* For more about why to use an adoption consultant, click here.
* To read my heart's refrain about all we would have missed if we hadn't jumped in, click here.

Email me at katief@christianadoptionconsultants.com for more information today! I would love to chat with you and pray along with you as you consider if CAC is a good fit for you.


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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Three Years Ago We Simply Couldn't See


Three years ago on August 22, we sat heartbroken and confused at a small Cuban dive in Tallahassee, Florida. Over delicious food (that took an incredibly long time to be served), we talked and we didn't talk and we simply sat together in our grief. A beautiful storm rolled in. It grew dark while we sat there together. We looked into one another's eyes and we then we didn't look at each other's eyes and there was no making sense of it all. Why were we even there? Why had we even come?


We got back in the car and I flipped through the stations, landing on a song that became a rallying cry for us. "My God is awesome. Heals me when I'm broken. Strength when I've been weakened. Praise His Holy Name." Oh, how we needed that song-needed that reminder of who God is and what He's really like. We sang it and I probably cried (because we did a lot of that during that weekend). I don't remember much more of that evening, but I do know this: there was no part of us that knew what God was about to do. We couldn't see what He was up to. We didn't know the good plans He had coming. We knew He is a powerful, healing, amazing God. But we couldn't see that He was working...there was so much we simply could not see or understand.

We had no idea. We had no idea that an incredibly brave and beautiful woman scheduled for a c-section in the morning was getting ready for bed that evening, too, a couple hours away from us in Florida. We went to bed, sad and worn out from our tears, confused and wondering what God was doing in our adoption story. All the while she was going to bed with a different weight on her heart, very aware that it was her last night with a baby boy she had been carrying for nine months. She went to bed knowing she would wake up in the morning and do one of the most selfless and painful things any mother can do for her child. She would wake up and give birth to her son and lovingly place him into the heart and hands of another family to love and raise him.








So tonight I'm remembering it all afresh and here's what gets me crying: it's thinking of what it must have been like for her that night-thinking of her strength, her courage, her resolve. I'm imagining what must have been going through her head and her heart that night. I'm guessing during those hours, she may have been in a place of wondering what exactly God was up to. The hard and the pain and the struggle she was walking through had to loom large. I'm guessing she likely couldn't see that good was on the horizon in her own life. Maybe she couldn't see Him much at all.

I've written before about why I think you should be amazed by her but I've got to say it again. My baby could have been one of the millions who were never given a chance. These three years filled with watching him smile, laugh, learn, hug, and live could have never happened. But she gave him life. She gave him a future. She gave us the gift of him. How can we possibly convey our gratitude? We simply can't.





Sweet reader friends, I don't know what your Cuban restaurant experience looks like right now. I'm not sure where you feel confused and where you are wondering if God's really doing anything good at all. But when I look back on our story three years ago, I know this: just because we can't see what God is doing, doesn't mean He's not at work. If you can't see Him...hold on. Your story is not over. There is life to come.


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