Archive for November 2013

Saturday, November 30, 2013

I Don't Have What It Takes (Adoption Fears and Falsehoods Series)

Adoption is a beautiful gift but there are many fears and falsehoods that keep people, even people who are seriously considering adoption, from pursuing it. So far in this series, we've talked about the hindrances "I could never afford to adopt," "Is there really a need in the U.S.," "Birthmoms are scary," "My spouse will never agree," and "Can I really love a child I didn't give birth to?"  Here is another common fear you may be wrestling with:

Being a parent is not for the faint of heart. It's tough and it's tiring and it's complex as much as it is rewarding and joy-giving. Our daily weakness and failures can weigh heavy on our hearts as we consider the enormous responsibility we have been given. We mess up. Every day. And it effects our kids in real ways. So, throw in the difficult complexities of adoption and,'s not surprising that we can fear that we don't have what it takes.

Being an adoptive parent may involve a variety of difficult parenting scenarios. Just to name a few:

  • talking with a child about their first-parents and the circumstances that led to their adoption
  • family members and friends not understanding you and/or discouraging your choice to adopt
  • dealing with insensitive and hurtful comments from others about adoption
  • parenting through tough identity issues as a child grows
  • painful conversations with your child as they suffer the effects of racism
  • patiently building attachment and working hard to bond with a child who has endured trauma
  • working through language and cultural barriers
  • caring for their physical and/or emotional challenges
  • having attention drawn to your family again and again wherever you go.

That stuff is hard-there's no denying it and it's certainly not helpful to ignore it. And while not every adoption is going to involve all of these, every adoption is going to require you to do some hard things as a parent. Despite the myriad of great adoption books and seminars out there, no one can fully prepare you for the tough parenting things that arise in adoption. Maybe we fear these things because, in part, we know it's true: we aren't good enough parents to make our kids "turn out" ok. We don't have what it takes to "make up for" what they've lost. We don't have "enough love" to make everything ok for them. Maybe that's why it's scary to think about parenting at all, let alone parenting through hard things in adoption!

But there is One who is a perfect parent. For every mistake we make, Jesus is able to bring good somehow. For every time we sin, Jesus is able to perfectly forgive us. On our own, we often don't have what it takes to handle all the complex issues in parenting biological children or those who come to us through adoption. We don't have what it takes. But our Father does. And He loves to bring healing to the broken.

Adoption is worth it. Talk about your fears. Pray about them. Work through them. Get equipped! Don't let your fears that you don't have what it takes to become an adoptive parent keep you from the gift of adoption. You will never be a perfect parent, but your Faithful God is.

(For more information on domestic adoption, please contact me at

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Can I love a child I didn't give birth to? (Adoption Fears and Falsehoods Series)

So far in this series, we've covered the following fears and falsehoods that can be hindrances to adoption: "I could never afford it," "Is there really a need in the U.S.?" and "Birthmoms are scary." Let's look at another common fear:

It's something whispered in hushed tones, something few are willing to vocalize even though many considering adoption are thinking the same thing. Amidst the fears and falsehoods hindering people from pursuing adoption, this may be the most paralyzing of all. If you've considered adopting but haven't been able to move past this question, you're not alone.

Why? Why is that such a common fear as people are considering adoption?

  1. In America, we tend to define love primarily by an emotional feeling. We're all about passionate emotions and "love at first sight." We think that love is something that always happens immediately and without any effort. The thought that it may take time to grow in loving someone seems terrifying and wrong (when it fact, it's often the way that love works...even with biological children).
  2. We can very quickly make everything in life about ME. How I feel, how I think, how it effects ME. What if I don't feel an immediate overpowering love for my child? What if it takes time and effort for my love to strengthen and deepen? That would be hard for ME.
  3. We know that the love of parents is highly important for the well-being of children. We feel the weight of that responsibility but that weight can turn into fear, especially because...
  4. We're so self-sufficient that we think our ability to love is dependent upon us and our own strength. We don't want to ever need help from others or from God. We don't believe that He is able to do way more than we can in our own efforts.

Can you love a child that you didn't give birth to? Yes. But the speed and intensity at which that love grows is going to be different for each adoptive family.

For those adopting an infant, it's fairly unusual to lack that "connection" quickly. That doesn't mean those feelings will come immediately for everyone who adopts an infant. For some, they will feel it when they are matched with an expectant mom even before the child is born. For others, the deep love will come the minute they meet their child. For others, the connection may develop after the baby leaves the hospital and comes home. And for others, it may intensify in the days and months to come.

For those adopting an older child, the complexities of connecting and developing attachment and deepening love is often more of a process over time. That is understandable and normal; don't let it scare you away! Again, this looks different for each family. Loving someone often takes time. For many, it will take patience, it will take education and equipping, it may involve counseling or other outside help, and it will definitely take a dependence on the Author of Love Himself. But God is able to tightly wind the attachment an adoptive parent has with their child. (I love how my friend, Kim, poignantly addressed this.)

Can you love a child you didn't give birth to? Yes! If you are willing to accept that God is the author of love and He is more than able to bring it about in His timing, if you can see love as more than just an emotion, if you are willing to believe that not experiencing "love at first sight" doesn't determine the future love you can feel for your child, if you're willing to lay down your own love of ease and self for the sake of a child, if you're willing to do whatever you can to learn and grow and depend wholly on the Lord to deepen your love, then you don't need to be afraid. Don't let fear of your own abilities to love keep you from the beauty of adoption.
*I'd love to hear from you! Scroll down to where it says "Leave a message" if you have any thoughts you want to share.

(For more information about domestic adoption, please contact me at

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Birthmoms Are Scary (Adoption Fears & Falsehood Series)

In this series about "Adoption Fears and Falsehoods" we've looked at the falsehoods, "I could never afford to adopt" and"Is there really a need in the U.S.?" as well as, "My Spouse will never agree to adopt." Today I want to look at another very common obstacle for families considering adoption. It's this belief:

It's important to point out from the start that many of our fears surrounding birthmoms are both irrational and inaccurate. The majority of the women who place their child for adoption are not at all like the "boogeymen" that dramatic television has portrayed them as. Let's think about who these women really are and what they are really doing:

  • Countercultural: They are choosing to go through the emotional and physical stress of pregnancy for nine months even though abortion is highly accessible and acceptable in our society.
  • Courageous: The decision these women make is often not supported by members of their family or friends-some have virtually no one encouraging them in their adoption choice. Often they are being pressured on many sides to abort their child.
  • Selfless: These women are looking beyond their own preference or comfort or even their own happiness to do what they feel is best for their baby.
  • Long-suffering: A woman doesn't just have a baby and forget.  These ladies carry the memory of their precious child with them forever.

Birthmothers are incredibly strong women who make the difficult choice to give their child life. We don't need to fear them. I certainly can't explain this as well as an actual birthmom so I contacted one of my favorite adoption bloggers, Amber of "Bumber's Bumblings," for help. Amber is an adoptive mama who has an incredible open adoption with her son's birthmom, Ash. Here's a little picture to introduce you to Amber and Ash:

I'm thankful to be able to re-post with permission this thoughtful, honest explanation from Ash about her personal experience with this "Birthmom Boogeyman" stereotype.  Ash writes the following:
"Unfortunately, there is no amount of words that can portray the torment that surrounds placing your child into the arms of another. The choice to place is one that comes from extreme emotional pain of knowing that the best choice for your child is to live a life that does not need or include you. It is physically reaching deep down into the cavity of your soul, ripping out your heart, and walking away. It is living each day in black and white because the life and color is elsewhere. It is the determination and sheer grit of making sure that the one you love is cared for over and above what you want."     
Does that sound like a woman that you need to fear?  She goes on to say:
"...the Birthmom Boogeyman is actually a fictional character who is the arch-nemesis of Birthmom’s everywhere. We have enough love and conviction for our child to physically and emotionally place them into the care of another, at the expense of our daily emotional torment. At the very least we would have the sense to know our sacrifice must be protected. The family unit around our child must be kept sacred and secure. The last thing on our mind is heading for the border or competing for the role as “Mom.” 
(To read the rest of Ash's post, go here.)
These women are not people we need to fear. They are actually some of the most courageous and selfless women you will ever have the privilege of meeting. Josh and I continue to be so amazed by the strength of Titus's birthmom (and we think you should be, too!).

As a side note, many people are also unaware that there are actual laws in place making the act of birthparents signing over their parental rights irrevocable in domestic adoption. Each state has different laws concerning the amount of time that passes before a birthmom legally signs over her parental rights (for example, in Utah it's 24 hours, in Illinois it's 72 hours, in Rhode Island it's 15 days). But once they do sign over their rights, a birthmom's decision is irrevocable. (There is an exception to this in the unlikely event of a woman's signing being obtained under fraud or coercion. And laws pertaining to Native American adoptions are more complex.) There is a set amount of time that passes (again, varying from state to state) where the adoptive family is visited by their homestudy agency and then the adoption is finalized through court and a new birth certificate is issued. Once an adoption is finalized it is irrevocable. Legally, a birthmother can't "come back" and change her mind. But remember, the majority of these ladies would never dream of "coming back" in the first place.

Don't let the idea that birthmoms are scary keep you from experiencing the joys of adoption. Birthmoms are not boogeymen.  They are brave and beautiful. Without them, adoption would never be possible.

(For further information about domestic adoption, please contact me at

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Friday, November 1, 2013

My Spouse Will Never Agree to Adopt (Adoption Fears and Falsehoods Series)

When you're considering adoption, a variety of fears and falsehoods start popping up in your mind. So far I've shared about the following: "We could never afford to adopt!" and "There's not really a need in the U.S., right?" Today I want to touch on another very common hindrance to pursuing adoption. It's this concept:

Ouch. This is a hard one. I've been there. It's a really difficult spot to be in-ready to pursue adoption while your spouse isn't. It's equally difficult to have your spouse ready to adopt when you aren't in agreement. If this is something you're dealing with, you are not alone. I'm serious. I hear from couple after couple that are encountering this same challenge.

I'm not going to sugar coat this; it may take months or even years to work through your disagreements about adoption. But if the Lord is truly calling you to adopt, He isn't just going to call one of you to it-He's going to lead both of you to happily move in that direction.

So what can you do if you and your spouse aren't agreeing on pursuing adoption?  Here are a couple of suggestions:
  1. Pray. Pray for yourself and your spouse. Ask the Lord to give you a humble, patient, compassionate heart. Ask Him to speak to you and help you see your spouse's side more clearly.
  2. Listen. Without accusing or judging, ask for his or her reasons for not wanting to pursue adoption right now. Listen attentively until you can respectfully and accurately articulate their perspective.
  3. Talk. Share your reasons for why you do want to adopt. Ask them if they are willing to consider your thoughts for a couple weeks or a month. Ask if they could agree to truly go before God to pray about how the Lord would lead.
  4. Involve others. We need each other, especially in situations where we're having trouble agreeing in marriage. Together, ask another couple or your small group leader or your pastor to sit down and listen to both sides of the story. Chances are that having someone else listen, pray for you, and help you work through your thoughts will be tremendously helpful.
  5. Wait with faith. It's rare that God changes someone's thoughts and emotions overnight regarding a big decision. Trust that the Lord loves you and your spouse. Trust that He is working for your good even when it doesn't make sense. Keep praying. Keep waiting. Keep trusting.
  6. Act. Find a way to care for children in need even now. You don't have to sit back and do nothing. Is there another family in the adoption process that you can encourage and support? Is there a crisis pregnancy center in your area that you can volunteer for? Can you sponsor a child? Could you and your spouse become part of the "Safe Families" program? Could you make a meal for a family that's fostering?
Maybe you're someone who is becoming weary in the waiting and you feel like it's just too hard to be patient given the enormity of the need for adoption. I want to encourage you and remind you of what you already know. Take this to heart: We can't deny that God is passionate about caring for children in need. James 1:27 says, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." But let's not forget the verses that come before that."Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." (James 1:19,20) God isn't just passionate about adoption; He is also passionate about being glorified in our marriages, even as we work through disagreements about things that really matter. Adoption matters to God. But your marriage matters to Him so much, too!

So you and your spouse don't agree today on adoption? That is far from the end of your story! Don't give up hope; you serve a God that is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-mighty, and is already up to immeasurably more than you could think or ask or imagine.

* Note: with my new blog re-design, the comments section got bumped pretty far down. We're working on that. In the meantime, just keep scrolling down if you want to leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you!

(For more information about domestic adoption, please contact me at

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