Tuesday, January 14, 2020

True Satisfaction During the Adoption Process

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11

God so beautifully and clearly tells us in His Word that He alone satisfies. And yet, we find ourselves looking to other things for fulfillment, peace, and lasting joy. Even a “good thing” has the potential to distract us from the fullness of joy that is found in Christ alone, especially when we want that "good thing" too much-when we want it more than we want God Himself. I’ve seen this all too often in my own heart over the course of my life, always looking to the “next good thing” to bring me happiness. “When I just get to college/get a job/get married/get pregnant/have a baby/sleep through the night again/have another baby/adopt/end the diaper season/feel better/see my child overcome that obstacle/etc...THEN I’ll be truly happy.” But even when I have found myself in the circumstance I was hoping for, satisfaction is short lived and suddenly I’m looking ahead to the next thing in hopes that will bring me lasting joy. We can probably all identify with being “too easily pleased.”

"It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased." - C.S. Lewis

I’ve found that the adoption process shines a bright light on this tendency of ours to look for satisfaction in something other than Jesus. As someone who has gone through the adoption process twice and walked many Christian Adoption Consultants families through their adoption journeys, I know all too well how easy it is to think that happiness is found in a child. A baby is a good thing-a gift from God! And yet, a baby is not what satisfies the soul. Cognitively we know that, but trying to convince your heart that infinite joy isn’t really found in a baby coming home to you is harder than it seems when you are in the thick of the wait! During the “waiting” time it really does feel like the only way you’ll be fully at peace or happy is when an expectant mom chooses you. But then you’re chosen, and suddenly it feels like true happiness won’t come until the mom actually signs consents. And then she signs and it feels like you won’t really be able to breathe and be at peace until finalization. And then, the adoption is complete; a finalized adoption is wonderful but you will not find unending soul-satisfying joy in your child. The only person who brings soul-satisfying infinite joy is Jesus. 

“The evil in our desires typically does not lie in what we want, but that we want it too much.” - John Calvin

There are so many good things that we can desire in adoption, and most of those things are good desires! The problem doesn't lie with us wanting "good things" but that we want them more than we want God. These "good things" will not bring us the soul-satisfaction that Christ alone brings. So go to Him. Remind yourself that only He really satisfies. Ask Him to help you seek to find your satisfaction in Him alone. Remind yourself of what life is really about: Jesus! This world is not our home. Tell yourself again and again the Gospel-that Christ has come and met your greatest need: to be saved from your sin! You are powerfully and thoroughly loved by the Maker of the Universe who will never change, never fail you, and never leave you. Don’t give in to the lie that real happiness is found in something other than Him. In Jesus alone there is fullness of joy!


For more information about domestic infant adoption, please contact me at katief@christianadoptionconsultants.com. I'd love to help you!

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Monday, January 13, 2020

A Broken Crown: Guest Post by Kim

Becoming friends with Kim has been one of the highlights of my work as an Adoption Consultant with Christian Adoption Consultants. It is just so obvious that Rick and Kim love Jesus and are living for His kingdom. I've learned so much from the way they've walked through their adoption processes with open hands to the Lord and from the way they seek to live each day with eyes of faith. Kim is a gifted writer and she kindly shares her heart with us in this guest post about the way Christ has transformed brokenness into a crown.

A Broken Crown (by Kim) 

I rolled out of bed when it was still dark and quietly threw on some old clothes. I was careful to tiptoe down the stairs so I wouldn’t wake my household. The babysitter would arrive soon and I had the resentful job of preparing for another medical procedure. My tired eyes barely opened and my groggy mind refused to process what the day before me held. I surfed the Internet on my phone and gulped down drink after drink until I was sure I would throw up from the sheer amount of liquid. I thanked the babysitter profusely for showing up at this impolite hour and shortly arrived at the hospital with the baby-picture lined walls. It was eerily quiet as I walked down the hall and I couldn’t tell if it was the early hour or the sacred business conducted there that caused the somber mood.  The dark little room was kept at a temperature that ensured you’d be shaking by the time the technician arrived — but at least this gave a conceivable excuse for my emotionally charged jitters. There’s no way to feel comfortable laying on that hospital bed and perhaps it was this discomfort that awoke me from my sleepy stupor.  It was then that I looked up to see—the empty womb.

I’m not in the medical field, and usually those black and white images on the monitor remind me of distorted clouds more than organs. But that day, the empty void was just too clear to ignore. This was not the first procedure and it will likely not be the last. In fact, this just scratched the surface of the lengths we would go to try and correct the multiple syndromes and symptoms that left me barren. I’ve had 6 surgeries, taken thousands of pills, been poked, prodded and made uncomfortable in ways I never imagined would become my new “normal.” So you may think it odd that as I reflect on motherhood, I’m thinking of Esther and her “such a time as this” occasion.

In Esther 4:14, the queen is reminded that her royal position is not what protects her, but it is, perhaps, how God will use her “for such a time as this.”

Awake with the youngest of my six babes, I’m wondering if my “such a time as this” is now — in the midst of my brokenness. Because what if we arrive at our time, not to a crown of glory but to a realization of need? It’s here, that for me, whether seated on a throne, or cold and alone in a hospital room that my needy moments draw me closer to a Significant Savior.

Sometimes God’s best is an invitation for you to embrace and celebrate what can only be found in brokenness, in need, in the low places, and in rejection by the world. While Esther sat on an earthly throne, the One who placed her there gave up His throne to become despised by man - crushed, rejected, weepy and desperate for His Father. The Cross is why He came. His “such a time as this” was the lowest He would ever be, so that one day He would receive a crown of glory he’ll never relinquish.

My low place is the emptiness of infertility. According to popular fiction I am an “unwoman.” Like one in eight women alive today, I live with the monthly reminders that I have no power to create or sustain life. Everyday I’m aware that my body is broken. And this constant reminder has forced me to, lean in to the Lord for greater healing, greater health, and greater trust.

And isn’t that what we love about Esther’s story—that a common girl would catch the eye of the most powerful man on earth; that a woman who was willing to take risks would accomplish remarkable things. Esther’s fame came as a result of being willing to do what was hard when all the odds were stacked against her—and it’s impossible for me to see her bravery without envisioning her wearing her crown. Esther was given the title of queen but she was powerless without her King. Her real privilege was that she had access to the One who had the power. And in that—her story is also my story.

I am seen and loved by God and he has the power to change my title and my purpose. Jesus is the Suffering Servant but He is also the Resurrected King. He graciously shares His resurrection power with me so though my womb is empty my arms are filled. He made the barren woman a mother of children (Psalm 113:9), gave her a new name and a new appreciation for all that is learned when you are without power and without hope. While my lack of power has allowed me to feel indescribable pain and heartache, I walk with a powerful God who does not leave me here. His shared resurrection power has given me a ministry to others who are hurting and a house full of children as daily reminders of His goodness. It’s because of His power that I can more confidently, and with thankfulness, wear the title of broken.

When he sets a crown on my broken and powerless head I can more fully appreciate my new position because of the depths from whence I came. It’s in the depths that I learned to petition the King and trust in His goodness. It’s there that I learned the pursuit of Him, through pain, unmet expectations and frustrations, was worth everything! Even on the days I was sure I would perish, He invited me into His strength and kingly power to do more than I ever imagined.

In my brokenness, I am given a crown of Hope - because the natural has failed me and the Supernatural has beckoned me home. I am a broken woman invited to more, by a perfect King.

(You can read a bit more about Rick and Kim's adoption journeys here, here.)
For more information about domestic infant adoption, please contact me at katief@christianadoptionconsultants.com. I'd love to help you!

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Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Adoption Story: Charlie and Rachel

As an adoption consultant, I have the amazing privilege of watching God work in the adoption journeys of my CAC families. His care along the way is always unmistakable! Every story has it's share of loss and difficulty, and Charlie and Rachel's process was particularly challenging. There is no doubt in my mind that God worked powerfully in their hearts along the way. Rachel shares about God's personal care for them in her own words below.

I think back on our adoption journey and it always amazes me how God works. Through adoption, He worked on our marriage, my heart, and drew each of us as individuals closer to Him. It all started with Proverbs 16:9 "We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps."

We had our plan to start our family, but the Lord had explained that He had a plan for us that was bigger and better than we could imagine. When we finally "Let go and let God," it was clear to us that God intended for us to start our family through adoption. We were bathed in prayer and supported both financially and emotionally by family and friends. So many people shared in our excitement. But months went by and the excitement wore off.

At one point, I remember feeling that God had just walked away, leaving me sitting in the dark scrambling to find Him. Like the lights had gone out and I had no flashlight to see. In His perfect timing, I attended a women’s retreat. All weekend long He placed people in front of me that were connected to adoption or infertility in some fashion. Every person that shared their story also prayed with me, for me, and in some cases cried with me. I was very grateful for the connections through these women and their stories, but what I really wanted was to hear Jesus. I sat one night alone on the floor and said to Him “I will sit here in this very spot waiting until I hear your voice.” I lost that battle of patience and went to bed with a sore butt and a bruised spirit. I was disappointed, but in reality I was simply being a child of God throwing a tantrum and wasn't interested in waking up the next morning for the last day of the retreat. However, I woke up to God's voice through a song sung by Steven Curtis Chapman. 

“And this is going to be a glorious unfolding

Just you wait and see and you will be amazed

You've just got to believe the story is so far from over

So hold on to every promise God has made to us

And watch this glorious unfolding.”

In my mind that translated to “WAIT A MINUTE! I'M WORKING ON IT!” First I laughed, then I cried. I could “see” again, knowing He wasn’t done with us. That was all the reassurance I needed to know that He was still walking this journey with me. 

A few weeks later we finally had that celebratory moment of being officially matched! I will spare you the details of the challenging months leading to our son’s birth, but I will share that things got ugly. So ugly, that at one point, we considered walking away from the match. I felt our marriage straining and all I wanted to do was hold tight to what I knew was good. I called Katie (our amazing consultant who calmly walked us through all our messes and never ending questions and phone calls) and told her I was ready to be done. Not just done with the match, but DONE DONE with everything. I was not willing to lose what I had in order to bring a baby home that wasn’t even guaranteed to be ours. It was painful and discouraging in so many ways. 

When Charlie returned home from work that day, the first thing we did was pray. We prayed for what felt like days asking for guidance and clarity in our situation. We found ourselves in these difficult situations multiple times in the months leading up to our son’s birth and each time God very clearly said “sit tight and let me do my work.” It was an incredibly challenging time for us. The ONLY reason we made it through this journey was because of Jesus. 

If you asked me in the beginning of our journey to describe what we thought our adoption journey would look like, I would have painted a very different picture. Our lives are forever changed for the better. Our sweet little boy is this connection between two women who would have never crossed paths otherwise. Some days I find myself tearing up when he gives me that silly little grin as I think about how empty our life was without him in it. God did this... all of it… He led us to Katie with CAC, He led us to our son’s birth mother, and He led us to our baby boy.  Just as he did way back when with Noah and his family after the rain, He gave us a rainbow after our storm. 
For more information about domestic infant adoption, please contact me at katief@christianadoptionconsultants.com. I'd love to help you!

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Brian and Jenn's Adoption Story

God weaves so many intricate details together to intersect the life of one specific mother in crisis with the lives of one specific waiting adoptive family, all for the sake of one specific child. It blows me away.

No two stories are identical and yet each story is unmistakably marked by the hand of God.

I'm so glad that you get to watch Brian and Jenn Johnson share about their adoption journey with Christian Adoption Consultants and how bringing home their son has shaped them. The joy that is so clearly seen in this video characterized their hearts throughout their adoption process.  It was such an honor for me to walk with them as their adoption consultant and to see God working in their story. In the unknowns and waiting and each step along the way, their surrendered hearts reflected such deep peace and humility. Thank you, Brian and Jenn, for letting us share your story!

You can also head on over to this link to hear more from Fox News about their adoption!

Photo credit: from Fox News Article linked above

For more information about domestic infant adoption, please contact me at katief@christianadoptionconsultants.com. I'd love to help you!

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Monday, April 1, 2019

Adoption: 2 Things To Consider As You Name Your Child

Photo by Maarten Deckers on Unsplash
There is just something magical about naming a child, isn't there? I remember as a young girl, dreaming about names for my "someday babies." Choosing a name for your child is such an important, beautiful gift and responsibility. It's also a complex, weighty, and emotional decision when you're talking about naming a child who enters your family through adoption. A large part of that complexity exists in the reality that through adoption, your child will be your child, but your child's life did not begin in your family. A part of your child's life and history will forever be connected to their birth family. (Or as one of our kids likes to say, "I have two families!") That can feel uncomfortable for us to think about as adoptive parents, as well as somewhat confusing. Our child is ours alone, right? As Christians who deeply value our own spiritual adoption, I think we can sometimes unhelpfully conclude that earthly adoption perfectly mirrors spiritual adoption. When God adopted you into His family you became His alone and were given a completely new identity in Christ. But when a child is adopted into a family, their history, story, and connection to their birth family is not obliterated. If you listen to adult adoptees, the majority will say that the sense of somehow being linked to their birth family doesn't disappear when they become a part of their adoptive family. So in light of that complex reality, let's talk about two important things to consider in adoption as you choose a name for your child.

1) How can you honor his/her birth parents in the naming process?
Whether your child comes to you through international adoption, domestic adoption, or adoption through foster care, there isn't a one size fits all approach to choosing a name. Take a deep breath for a moment and ask the Lord to guide you. He loves to give us wisdom as we ask Him for it! An attitude of love and humility acknowledges the importance and value of your child's birth family as you pick a name; your child's birth parents are people made in God's image. If this is a domestic adoption and the child is not yet born, remind yourself-if this mom does decide to place this child for adoption, she is entrusting you with a part of herself and giving you the greatest of all gifts-her child. She will have carried this child, given them life, and made an impossibly difficult decision to place them for adoption. Here are just a few specific ways to honor your child's birth parent(s) in the naming process:
  • If it's possible (and is not the rare occasion where there's a safety issue for your child), start by talking with this birth mama about it. Are there names that she loves? Hates? Are there names that you both love?
  • Would she like to choose the child's middle name while you choose the first (or vice versa)?
  • Would she prefer not to be involved in the naming? 
  • Can you include her name or another family name somehow?
  • Does she already have a name picked out? (If so, is there a way to incorporate that into whatever name you like?) 
  • Has this child already been born and is already old enough to recognize their name? If so, consider how changing names may feel to a little person whose entire life is changing through adoption.
  • If your child is older and able to share their own opinion about their name-ask them if they would like to have you name them or if they want to keep the name they've already been given.

2) Are you considering the long-term implications of this particular name?
As you think through names that you like, are you considering your child's cultural heritage, the names of birth siblings and adoptive siblings (is there a pattern that would be helpful to keep?), and whether or not this name will be seen as ostracizing or inclusive? Have you considered the position it puts your child in if their birth family calls them by the name they've chosen and you call them by a completely different name? If you change the name your child was given by their birth family, it does communicate a message to your child; does that message communicate what you want it to? For some adoptees, the only thing they have from their birth parents is the name their birth parents gave them. If you choose to take that away, how will this potentially impact your child and affect your relationship with them? As your child grows, are you prepared to talk with them about how you did or did not include your child's birth parents in the naming process and why you chose to do that? It's impossible to predict exactly how your child will one day process what name they've been given, but consider the long-term implications of names as you’re making a decision.

My goal in this post is not to judge or condemn adoptive families who didn't consider these two points when they named their child. (There are adoptive families close to my heart whose naming processes didn’t involve these considerations and I don't think less of them for it!) My goal with this post is to empower adoptive families with these ideas in hopes that they will be equipped to think deeply when it's time for them to choose a name for their child. Sadly, I’ve heard from adoptive parents who deeply regret not including a part of the name their child’s birth mom gave them. I’ve also heard of a birth parent who was broken-hearted about the name the adoptive parents chose for her child (it was the name of an abusive past boyfriend). Names are a big deal!  

One day in the future, your child will want to know the story about how their name was chosen. You want to be able to whole-heartedly say that you thought and prayed deeply about this decision and that you honored their birth parent(s) as best as you could in the naming process.

For more information about domestic infant adoption, please contact me at katief@christianadoptionconsultants.com. I'd love to get you our info packet!

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Thursday, January 24, 2019

Your ICPC Wait Can Be A Gift

So much of the adoption process is about waiting. Waiting for your home study to be finished, waiting to have enough funds, waiting to be chosen by an expectant mom, waiting to see if she chooses to parent or place her child for adoption. You wait on pins and needles until the baby is born and consents are signed. FINALLY, all of the waiting is done and your long-prayed for child is in your arms! You think the wait is over...except...hold on-there's more.  Suddenly the reality that you're in yet another period of waiting washes over you with dread! If your child was born in a different state than yours, you can't go home until you have cleared ICPC (Interstate Compact on the Placing of Children). UGH! More waiting!

ICPC is the legally mandated process where paperwork must be approved between the state where the child is being placed for adoption and the family's home state before the child can cross state lines. It typically takes somewhere between 7-10 business days, but can be longer or shorter.

Over the years as an Adoption Consultant, I have seen family after family's passionate rejoicing over the child in their arms quickly turn into impatience, complaining, anxiety, or anger as they wait for their ICPC clearance to go home. It doesn't have to be this way! Your ICPC wait can be a gift. How? First, recognize the common temptations that may come and start praying for the Lord to help you with them. Then, when you're in the ICPC wait, fight the temptations with thankfulness towards God.

What kind of temptations might you face during ICPC? 
You will be tempted to complain about ICPC. You may be tempted to feel like you simply can't enjoy your baby until you're home again, tempted to fixate on the wait to be cleared, tempted to get mad at your agency or at the ICPC office for not moving faster, tempted about the money you're spending while you wait to go home, tempted to feel like you can't enjoy your new baby while you're away from your other ones, tempted to worry about work you're missing. Some (or all!) of these temptations are likely going to run through your head or heart. But you don't have to be consumed by them! Fight the temptations with thankfulness to God and your ICPC can be a gift.

Psalm 59:17 "O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love."

1)  Give thanks to God for the steadfast love He has shown you throughout your adoption 
He has answered so many prayers getting you to this day. Recount His faithfulness and give thanks to Him. Remind yourself of the steadfast love He has shown you every step of the way.

2) Thank God for your child's birth mom and continue to build your relationship with her
While you're holding your precious baby, frustrated about not being able to go home yet, your child's birth mother is at home recovering from child birth with empty arms. She's made an incredibly difficult decision that's brought her tremendous loss. Thank God for her and let her know how thankful you are for this gift! If you're able, take her out to lunch, have her join in on a newborn photoshoot, or go out for dessert with her to show her your love and to have some more time with her. Those moments will be treasured forever by each of you.

1 Samuel 1:27 " For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him."

3) Focus on bonding with your baby and thanking God for this child
You don't have to go to work or clean your house or tackle your to-do list; this is a unique time where all you have to do is focus on your baby. Thank the Lord for this child's life and pray for your heart and theirs to be connected. Look into their eyes, sing to them, wear them, do kangaroo care, tell them their adoption story.

4) Thank God for your spouse and enjoy them
Adoption can be stressful and you've walked through it together. Thank God for your husband/wife! You didn't go through this alone-you walked it with them every step of the way. Tell them specific things that you thank God for about them. Enjoy the amazing reality of being a family.

Your ICPC wait can be an incredible time of gratitude towards God and a time of making memories as a family. Fight the temptations that come by giving thanks to God!

For more information about domestic infant adoption, please contact me at katief@christianadoptionconsultants.com. I'd love to get you our info packet!

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I'm Already Home Study Ready: Why Use CAC?

“I’m already home study ready and waiting with a local attorney/agency. What would be the benefit of me working with a consultant at this point?" 

This is a great question that I hear frequently from families inquiring about Christian Adoption Consultants. Here are three main reasons that it’s worth it to work with a consultant even if you are already active with a local agency/attorney:

1.  More opportunities to have your profile book shown to expectant moms making an adoption plan
2.  Personalized support, prayer, and guidance
3.  Being a part of a caring community of adoptive families

Wider Reach
At CAC, we help point you to multiple agencies and attorneys across the U.S., increasing your opportunities to present your profile book to more expectant moms. Increased exposure to adoption situations often means decreased wait time; our families match with an expectant mom on average between 6-12 months after applying to multiple agencies. (This is a huge difference from being a waiting family with just one agency or attorney where you present your profile book only with the expectant moms that come in to that specific office. If it’s a small local agency, likely there will not be many placements per year there despite often having quite a lot of waiting adoptive families. Often, I will hear from families that have been waiting for 2-3 years with their specific agency and have only had their profile book shown a handful of times.) Some of the agencies on our recommended list choose to initially waive their application fee for CAC families, giving you the chance to present your profile book to expectant moms without paying anything to those agencies ahead of time.

Personalized Support
As your consultant, my job is to be there for YOU. I don’t work for an adoption agency or with birth parents. I work with you for you. With each adoption situation that you see, I am there to help you think through all the complexities involved and pray for you. Sometimes this may mean cautioning you about a risky situation, or offering feedback about your personal letter to a specific expectant mom, getting in touch with an agency on your behalf if you have some additional questions, or walking you through how to lovingly care for a mom you're matched with. Often, my role will be offering a listening ear, sharing encouragement and scripture, pointing you towards excellent educational resources, and praying for you. In addition to being an adoption professional who is in your corner, I’m an adoptive mama who understands the emotions involved with adoption because I’ve been there (twice)!

Caring Community
Each adoptive family that I work with has the opportunity to be a part of a private online adoption group that I moderate. (The page is not part of CAC’s consulting services but is being provided as a free social support group for the benefit of CAC clients.) Since I have worked with over a hundred adoptive families during their adoption journey, this large community is a wealth of knowledge and support. Having a community of families who “get it” is so vital to persevering through the ups and downs of the adoption journey. These families will also cheer you on and pray for you along with me.

Here are a few stories from families of mine that started at CAC after already being home study ready and waiting with another agency/attorney! Bryan and Jayne, Jimmy and Kyle, Gary and Angela.

If you’ve been waiting for a while with one attorney/agency and you’re ready to have more opportunities to present your profile book, you’re ready to receive personalized support, prayer, and guidance, and you’re eager to be a part of a caring community of adoptive families, CAC might be a great next step for you!

For more information about domestic infant adoption, please contact me at katief@christianadoptionconsultants.com. I'd love to get you our info packet and be a part of your adoption journey!

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