Adoption + The Sibling Perspective: Katie's Thoughts

May 16, 2020

Though our temptation can be to simply focus on how adoption affects our lives as adoptive parents, there are many more people's lives intricately connected and impacted when someone adopts a child. Most importantly, the adoptee themselves, as well as the child's birth parent. But another important person in the equation is a sibling whose parents have chosen to adopt. Katie was almost 15 when her family adopted the first time and 17 when they brought home her sister through adoption. I'm so glad you get to hear today from Katie about her "sibling perspective."


Did you have any fears or concerns while your family was in the adoption process waiting before your siblings were born? How did the Lord meet you in those?

When we first began the adoption process, I was honestly really excited. We did a lot of fundraisers as a family and so the excitement and momentum was high. However, in both adoption journeys, once we reached the part where our profile was being shown to birth families, I struggled with different emotions. After a few situations didn’t work out, I wrestled with the question: “Would we ever adopt a baby?” I remember a specific moment, after we had received another “no,” that my heart became angry. The tears fell and I cried out to God, “Why are you making us wait so long?”

As I look back at that moment, I am reminded how raw those emotions were. They came from a real place of pain in my heart, but it was met in the most beautiful way, as God revealed Himself faithful again and again. Now, as I look into the eyes of my brother and my sister, I realize over and over how perfect God’s plan was and is. All of those matches that fell through, all of those phone calls we missed, and all of the babies that didn’t “work out," they were all just stepping stones to the two He had for our family. And I wouldn’t trade my siblings for anyone else.

What are some things that you love about adoption and how God brought your siblings to you?

Even before we started on this journey, God placed a love for adoption within my heart. But it wasn’t until we started the process that I began to see what a beautiful picture it is of God’s adoption of us. We are orphans, who have no hope whatsoever in the world, but God comes and makes us His children. 

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” Galatians 4:4-7

I also love how adoption brings people together. It can be the most amazing bridge of hope for men, women and children in need. It allows mothers (families) who are in desperate situations to be able to give life and a future to their child. The birth moms (and families) who give up their children are some of the strongest people. They are giving their flesh and bone to someone else, entrusting their child into someone else’s family. Their selflessness and love in how they choose to give their child hope is something I admire every time I hear an adoption story.

Ultimately, I stand in awe at the hand of God; you truly can’t deny that His goodness is in each and every situation. My brother’s life was on the brink of being ended through abortion, but God had a different story. My sister was unwanted, and her only hope was a life of instability through the foster system. But God had different plans. And He protected my siblings and brought them into our family in the most beautiful way. 


What do you wish people knew about adoption?

If I was sitting down with someone to talk about adoption, I would love them to see that adoption is so much more than giving a child a family. It is a tangible picture of the gospel, by which God gives you the opportunity every single day to share His love with these children, who otherwise would have no hope. Because adoption is, in one sense, a rescue mission, it is hard. There may be a lot of obstacles to overcome. There may be a lot of pain and heartbreak involved. It can be an emotional roller coaster and the financial mountain keeps growing year after year. Trauma will be involved, no matter how young the baby is when adopted. There will be people who won’t understand. However, all of this just makes the grace of God more evident. For it is the only thing that is constant in all of the ups and downs of the process. And when the time comes when the child is called by your name, it makes every tear, worth it. 

What has God taught you about Himself through the adoption in your family?

God has taught me so many things through adoption. I have witnessed His faithfulness over and over again. There were so many things that could have happened, so many outcomes that could have come into play, and so many circumstances that could have deterred us from adopting, and yet, God brought us through every valley. He provided every single penny of the $90,000+ it cost us to adopt both my siblings. He protected both of their birth moms during their pregnancies and births. And even when things went different than I had expected them to go, I can see now, that all of His ways were/are perfect. He cares for everything we walk through, even down to the tiniest details. 
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For more information about domestic infant adoption, please contact me at: katief@christianadoptionconsultants.com

How To Tell Your Child That They Were Adopted

May 11, 2020



Few things can strike fear in the heart of a newly adoptive parent like the thought of talking with their child about their adoption story. We know that it's so very important and we don't want to get it wrong! So how exactly do you tell your child that they are adopted? After walking with many adoptive parents as an Adoption Consultant, studying informative adoption research, listening to the voices of adult adoptees and adoption social workers, and caring for my own children that were adopted, I've seen 9 important components that are essential to telling your child their adoption story.

How To Tell Your Child That They Were Adopted: 9 Essentials


1) Talk about it from the very beginning
One of the best pieces of advice we ever received during our home study process was this: start talking to your child about their adoption from Day One. I remember thinking,"Wait. You want me to talk to my teeny infant about their adoption? They can’t even speak yet!” But yes-that’s exactly what adoption professionals encourage parents to do! Talking about adoption from the very beginning gives your child the foundation of knowing their adoption story. It also gives you the chance to gain confidence in learning how to share your child’s story with them. Of course, your little baby won’t understand it initially, but as time goes on, you'll find that even young children can comprehend much more than we give them credit for. When you talk about adoption from the very beginning, your child will never have a life altering “moment” of discovering they are adopted. Instead, they will grow up knowing the truth about their story. By talking about adoption right away, you are giving them a strong foundation to build upon as they form their identity.

2) Use pictures
If you have pictures of your child’s birth family, hang some in their room or make a book with the pictures. Some families have found that creating a “birth book” or "life book" that tells the child’s adoption story with pictures can be a great resource to use as they talk with their young child about adoption. Even if you don’t have pictures with your child’s birth family, show them pictures that you do have of your child when you first met them. Use those photos as a springboard to share with them about the first moment you saw them, about what they looked like, about the time you spent with their birth family (if that pertains to you) and use words like "birth mom" and "adopted" to begin familiarizing your child with adoption terms.

3) Read books with adoption themes
There are some wonderful books for children about adoption. (There are also some pretty confusing and unhelpful ones so make sure to read through any book first to make sure it’s a good fit for your particular child!) Books that use accurate and positive adoption language, convey both the beauty and brokenness of adoption, and highlight how loved the child is by their birth and adoptive families are particularly helpful.

4) Speak positively about your child's birth family
Speak words about your child's birth family that are positive and kind. Weave these thoughts into every day conversation. Does your child share some physical features with their birth family? “I love your beautiful brown eyes. They look just like your birth mom’s beautiful brown eyes.” Are there things you know about your child’s birth family that your child has in common with them that you could share? Maybe you don’t know much at all about your child’s birth family, but you do know they loved their child so much that they gave them life. In some extreme situations involving neglect or abuse, finding something positive to say is not easy. Don't make something up! However, no matter what type of situation your child is coming from, there is typically something good that you can share with them about their birth family-people made in God's image..

5) Share honestly with age appropriateness
Adoption is filled with brokenness and loss. While adoption might be one of the greatest blessings in your life as adoptive parents, it has come at an enormous cost for your child and for their birth family. Don’t sugarcoat your child’s story; be honest. Depending on their age, the details you share with them will be different. As your child grows, so will the amount of details you tell them, but make sure that you’re always telling the truth. As an adoptive parent, this point can be particularly scary because we want to protect our children from pain. Yet, by not telling them the truth about their story, we’re actually causing them more pain and giving them reasons to question our trustworthiness and potentially tempt them to imagine worst case scenarios. So start with the general foundation of their story and build upon it with age appropriateness, sharing more details as they grow.

6) Be your child’s safe support 
As you talk about adoption, acknowledge your child’s feelings and let them know it’s ok to feel however they do. Hold them, sit with them, remind them of how loved they are, let them know that you will always be there for them. Listen without interrupting and remind them that they can tell you anything. Remember that this isn’t about you. When they ask questions or share their thoughts, ask follow up questions to understand more where they are coming from instead of assuming. Remember, even if they say things that are hard for you to hear, your child needs your support. Sit with them in their grief or anger or whatever they feel at the moment; don't dismiss or make them feel as if they shouldn't be feeling the way that they do. Let them know that whatever they are feeling or thinking about adoption, their feelings will not take away your love.

7) Keep talking about it
Talking with your child about their adoption isn’t a “one and done” deal. You need to keep talking about it with them throughout their lifetime. Your child should not need to be the one to bring up adoption. It’s your job as the parent to keep the conversation going. Let me assure you-just because your child doesn't bring up adoption doesn't mean they aren't thinking about it. If you don’t continue to bring up adoption with your children, they may feel like it’s an “off-limits” topic and never bring their thoughts and questions to you. Adult adoptees often share that they were afraid to voice questions about their story because they didn't ever want their parents to feel hurt or to perceive those questions as a lack of love for them. Invite your children's questions and even if they don't share any, continue talking about adoption. Help them feel secure and free to talk with you about their adoption by being the one to bring it up regularly.

8) Seek professional help
If at any point you find you need additional support in talking with your child about their adoption, please don’t hesitate to seek it out. There is no shame in needing professional help. These are complex things that are sometimes difficult to work through, both for you and for your child. Loving your child means giving them tools to help them process their story and a licensed professional counselor familiar with adoption and trauma can be an invaluable tool to help your child.

9) Trust your perfect Heavenly Father
Seek God's face as you have these conversations with your child. We often simply don't know what to say as we share about adoption with our kids, but we do know that God promises to give us wisdom as we ask. We can confidently go to Him in prayer with that request for wisdom and help. "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him." James 1:5  There are no perfect words that will magically take away the hard aspects of your child's adoption. You don't have the perfect words to share with your child about their adoption story but you do have a perfect Heavenly Father. God is able to help our children find comfort and peace in their hearts as they navigate the details of their adoption story. We can trust His care. Ultimately, He is the one who will carry your child through the ups and downs of processing adoption throughout their lifetime.

(Note: I highly recommend the following resource: Positive Adoption Conversations (An Adoptive Families Guide) for more detailed information about what to share at what age, specific helpful children's books related to adoption, how to speak to "tough topics," etc.)
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For more information about domestic infant adoption and Christian Adoption Consultants, please contact me at katief@christianadoptionconsultants.com

Guest Post: To The Waiting Woman Who Longs To Be A Mother

May 8, 2020

In my role at Christian Adoption Consultants as I walk with hopeful adoptive parents, one of the things I hope to spread is the importance of listening to all members of the adoption triad: birth mothers, adoptees, and adoptive parents. As Mother's Day approaches, I'm sharing some letters from members of the triad. As I thought about who I wanted to ask to write a letter to the mamas in waiting, my friend, Kim, immediately came to mind. The Lord has given her a gift for words and she so beautifully shares them below. Thank you, Kim!

To The Waiting Woman Who Longs To Be A Mother

Hello friend,

I rolled out of bed in a bad mood and reluctantly dressed for church. This act of putting on my “Sunday best” was even more unbearable on this ominous day. I scowled aimlessly at the floor and imagined the women who would don matching dresses and the little girls sporting big pink bows. “I’m sure all the little boys were up early picking wildflowers while their fathers made breakfast and let their mommies sleep in”, I muttered mockingly to the empty room. Alone, in my little bathroom, I looked up to put my makeup on - getting the first real glimpse of my angry look and tired eyes. Suddenly, with fierce intensity, my fake bravado melted into body shaking sobs as I realized I was not alone. The God that made me revealed in an instant the deepest recesses of my heart and beckoned me to Him with undeserved patience and grace. As I cried, I could imagine his gentle embrace inviting me to unleash the full weight of disappointment and confusion into his capable hands. I sent up a desperate prayer, “Lord you are the God that weeps with those who mourn. Can you handle my pain? Can you take some of this burden? Can you impart your strength on this day of all days?”

I imagine, dear one, that you would prefer to spend this morning hiding beneath your covers in a dark room. Perhaps if you stay there long enough you can pretend this day never came and the longing you feel to be accepted would wait to wash over you another day. The dread and sadness feel palpable and you wonder if you accidentally put that on instead of the dress you pulled from the closet. Running into all of the perfectly coifed women with their darling little bundles would only cause the inevitable barrage of heart questions you work hard to stifle on a moment by moment basis. And you wonder if this is what you are pregnant with. Questions. Heart-wrenching questions. Is there something wrong with me? Did I do something to deserve this? Does God want good things for me? Does He see me?

Will I ever be a Mom?

Love, I have been there. I can walk into that memory as if it’s a panorama that preserved some of my darkest moments. It’s an exhibit I never wanted to visit and I’m deeply sorry that you have been given a ticket to the show. But, I’m happy to sit with you and allow you to cry on my shoulder as you ask the questions that I could never supply a satisfying answer for. Because I learned that this gift of infertility did not give me answers but people. People who tried not to offend, people who tried to understand, people who wept with me in silence, people who bound up the broken places, people who fought beside me in prayer. It was the people God gave me, that led me to understand that my longing to be a mom would only be satisfied in the arms of Jesus. If He wasn’t enough, no child would ever be able to fill that pit.

It would be easy to stay home this week - and you can. I get it. But if you can muster the dependence it takes to bravely walk into the world, I believe you’ll find hope lies within the body of believers the Lord is preparing you to encourage. Because while infertility comes at a significant cost, what you buy with your heartache is a gift I would never return. This gift led me to deeper relationship with my husband, a more dependent faith in Christ, an ever-expanding village we call family, and, eventually, six amazing children who grew in my heart. These six jewels in my crown were knit together with providence and foreknowledge. They were on my Savior’s mind as he calmed my sobs and listened empathetically to my burdensome questions. He always saw me. And He sees you too, beloved.

So this year, your arms may be empty but I’m praying your heart will be full. If you’re feeling left out try sitting up straight so everyone can see your crown.
                                                            
                                                            His, yours,
                                                                        Kim aka “Mama”


(You can read other writing from CAC mama, Kim, here: Depths of LoveThe Cost Of Infertility: 10 ReflectionsA Broken Crown.)
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For more information about domestic infant adoption, please contact me at katief@christianadoptionconsultants.com

Guest Post: To The Woman Considering Adoption

May 7, 2020


Today's guest post is a beautiful letter from the perspective of a baby to his/her birth mother. As a Christian, wife, mama, adult adoptee, and pro-life advocate, Sarah is uniquely equipped to write this. Her voice is one that we can all learn from. Check out more of her story here.

To The Woman Considering Adoption This Mother’s Day

Dear Mom, 

I know you can’t see me quite yet, but I can see you. No, not with my eyes, silly. I can see you with my heart. 

Remarkably, your actions allow me to see who you are without even getting a glimpse of your face. From where I’m at I can hear your voice and detect the sound of your heartbeat as it races rapidly in conversations with the numerous, impossible voices around you. I am so impressed by your strength. I’m impressed by your courage. 

I know God chose you to be my birth parent. He chose you to house me in your womb, and this will assure that our connection is forever. I think it might be important for you to hear from me as you consider your adoption decision. I want you to know that while it feels like your heart is breaking, placing me for adoption could be the very act that puts your heart back together again. Let me explain. 

Right now you may feel consumed with grief at the idea of not being there when I take my first step, go to my first day of kindergarten or make my first friend. You may be sad that I will call someone else mom, and you might be scared I will hold your decision to place me for adoption against you. But one day, when I’m a bit older and when my own feet have traveled through life’s challenges, I will understand. 

I will understand that your love for me was so great and so selfless that you examined your life and your current situation, and you decided you wanted to give me a future you didn’t think you could provide. I will be amazed that you had the maturity to see past the pain and confusion you are feeling right now.

In the meantime, though, can you be patient with me, Mom? It may take some time for me to appreciate your decision once I’m out there in the world. It may take some time walking in my own shoes before I can understand what it was like to walk in yours. Until then, know your heart will become whole again once you realize you did exactly what the best moms do: Protect their children and give them the best future possible.

                                                                                                                    Love, Your Daughter 
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For more information about becoming parents through domestic infant adoption, please contact me at katief@christianadoptionconsultants.com.

Guest Post: To The Woman Who Made Me A Mother

May 5, 2020


Each guest post you read here this Mother's Day week was prayerfully written directly from the heart. Thank you to this Christian Adoption Consultants mama who so beautifully shares today. I'm grateful to know you, Sarah.

To the woman who made me a mother,

When I first heard your name and knew you carried a child for whom you were choosing parents, I didn’t know how to connect my heart to yours. It would have seemed presumptuous or somehow greedy, to ask something of you or to force a bond that wasn’t there yet. I had prayed for a child for so long and, forgive me, I didn’t know how to pray for her first mother. 

After we knew your name and knew we would be a family of three because of your courage and selflessness, I began to approach God in prayer — timidly at first, because I couldn’t presume to put myself in your shoes. But as we collectively waited for the birth of our daughter, I fell to my knees again and again, asking God to be near - to be your comforter. You faced circumstances not of your choosing and you faced impossible decisions and you did it — whether you felt brave or not — you did it, courageously. You bore a daughter and you kissed her nose and gave her a name and then gave her a new family, as you chose us to parent her.

I get to go into this weekend celebrating my own motherhood, which was born in tandem with yours. I don’t forget this for a moment. When my little girl looks at me, I see your hazel eyes and scrunchy nose and I am overwhelmed again with gratitude that your choice to make an adoption plan changed all our lives. You are the first mother our daughter loves and, by God’s grace, you are the woman who made me a mother. I don’t know what it’s like to be on your side of this adoption triad, but I am so very thankful for the abundance of love we share for this daughter.

Mother’s Day is as nuanced and complex as motherhood - we both know this. And so in case no one remembers to say it: happy Mother’s Day. We celebrate you today, you who carry the mixed grief and peace of adoption with such grace. We are grateful for your life, your courage, and your selfless love. 

with love and gratitude,
sarah

Guest Post: Letter To My Children This Mother's Day

May 4, 2020

I'm thankful for the opportunity to feature this letter from a Christian Adoption Consultants mama today. Below she shares her heart for her children as they navigate the complexities of Mother's Day.



CAC Mama Guest Post:

To My Children This Mother’s Day,

This week the world celebrates “Mother’s Day” but for you it’s more complex-maybe sort of like eating a dessert while simultaneously pulling the bandaid off an open wound. There’s nothing simple about it-this coexisting sweetness and loss. Celebrating with me is sometimes a reminder for you that you aren’t celebrating with her. You love me with all that you are and tell me that repeatedly throughout each day. Yet right alongside that deep love for me, there is a deep love in your heart for the mama that you don’t get to hug today.

So this Mother’s Day and always, I want you to know that whatever you are feeling, you can go right ahead and feel it, even if you can’t quite explain what’s on your heart and mind. I’m right here with you. I wish so badly that I could take away the hard...that somehow I could keep you from experiencing any pain ever. But I know that the reality is this: love is big and messy and unexplainable and deep. And the love you feel for me and for her is all of those things. These are complicated things...I won't pretend otherwise.

My hope and prayer is that you wouldn’t ever think that loving well means only loving one of us. Love is big enough for us all. You love us both well, at the very same time. That’s undeniable. Your heart has such a beautiful capacity to love; you amaze me with the unmistakable tenderness and kindness and forgiveness you extend to us every single day. Please extend those same things towards yourself as you feel the complexity of this day.
On Mother’s Day (and any day) when your feelings are too big to categorize, I pray that you will look to Jesus. He is your compassionate Savior who knows your thoughts before you think them. He saw you before you were born and all of your days were written in His book before even one of them came to be! He says that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. And He says that you are oh so very loved.

Love, Mommy


Adoption Story: Vernon + Rhea

God loves to work through community. Vernon and Rhea's adoption journey with Christian Adoption Consultants so clearly reminds me that He often chooses to encourage and challenge our hearts through His people. It was such a joy for me to walk alongside this sweet couple as their Adoption Consultant. (And goodness, isn't their daughter adorable?!!)


Rhea shares:

A family friend of ours referred us to Katie with Christian Adoption Consultants in October 2018. We are so thankful we were able to connect with Katie and start our adoption journey with her. I had never heard of an adoption consultant but now it is my #1 recommendation to anyone considering adoption.

Our home study was complete at the end of 2018 and by January we were being sent situations about expecting mothers. We were so nervous to present our profile that we spent the first month just waiting and reading and not feeling the need to rush.

We presented our profile for the first time late January and quickly learned another family was chosen. We continued to present in the next few months to a couple expecting mamas - hearing the same news. My husband and I stayed optimistic but it was getting harder to think we would ever be chosen. Of course, looking back, our adoption happened pretty quickly.

In July we presented to a mama that was due any day. This is when I started packing a bag – we just never knew what could happen! She chose another family but we continued to see several more situations each week. It was quite a roller coaster!

It was early August when we heard again we hadn’t been chosen. Another situation had been sent during this time and I reached out to Katie to ask her thoughts on it. This situation felt riskier and a lot was unknown (which really always is true). When we started our journey, this may have been a situation we would’ve possibly not presented to. While my husband and I were deciding what to do, I read a blog from an adoptive mom telling what seemed to be our story. They were beginning to feel defeated and wondering if they would ever be chosen but took a leap of faith and presented even though they had fears. Her final thoughts were, “God will never let you miss your child.” I read the post to my husband with tears in my eyes and asked him again if we should present. It was so clear in that moment that it wasn’t up to us. It was out of our hands and we had to trust God knew what was best. That he wouldn’t let us miss our child.. Based on renewed inspiration from someone else’s journey – we presented. And we heard yes.

Less than nine months after our home study was complete our daughter was in our arms. We were able to share some time with our daughter’s birth mom and met some of her family during the hospital stay. We send updates and pictures often and even had the opportunity for a visit when our daughter was four months old. We know she will cherish the photos with her biological grandmother, aunt and sister when she is older and hope we can see them again soon.

We are so grateful for the guidance from CAC and Katie as we navigated our adoption journey. I honestly do not know where we would be without their help!
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For more information about domestic infant adoption, please contact me at katief@christianadoptionconsultants.com