The Mother’s Day I Didn’t Want To Remember

It was a Sunday morning in the middle of May. Mother’s Day. My body felt lifeless as I lay there in bed. My eyes were still sore and head was still throbbing from crying the night before. I knew that today was going to be a difficult one to face. After I finally convinced myself to get out of bed, I walked into the bathroom, looked in the mirror, turned to the side, and put my hand over my empty belly. A few weeks prior I was so excited about getting to celebrate my first Mother’s Day with our little growing miracle.

We knew my ability to get pregnant was nearly impossible due to the cancer treatments I received early on in life. And so, after years of trying this was an answer to many prayers. This baby was in every definition of the word a miracle. We naively began plotting how we would tell our family and friends our exciting news. We even started thinking of names. Our hearts and home were filled with so much joy and expectancy. But as I was standing in front of the mirror on Mother’s Day, the excitement and joy that once filled my heart were quickly replaced with feelings of anger, bitterness and hopelessness. I felt broken. Incomplete. And in some ways less than what I was created to be and what I was created to do.

I went to church dressed in a fake smile. I sang songs. I greeted the people around me. I held back all of my tears until I couldn’t any more. I ended up leaving early just before the pastor (my husband) would ask all of the “mothers” to stand for recognition. I rushed out the back door of the church and headed straight towards our porch. We lived in the parsonage less than 10 feet away (literally), so thankfully I didn’t have that far to go before I made it to my bed (again). I can vividly remember my cheeks hitting the pillows that were still wet from crying the night before as I yelled into the sheets that I had pulled over my face, “Why God? Why?”

Anger, sad, hurt, confused, bitter- just a few of the many emotions I experienced over the next year. I had many questions for God and very few answers. But He met me in my pain. He met me in my tears. He was faithful despite my faithlessness. He was with me even when I doubted Him. I continually poured out all of those big emotions, questions and doubts at the foot of the cross because I knew Jesus could handle it. I stopped trying to dress myself with a fake smile and allowed myself to be honest with others about my pain. I learned through my vulnerability that others shared similar stories of loss and grief. And although it broke my heart to know they had walked a similar road, the reminder that I wasn’t alone brought a sense of connection, peace and healing that I truly believe is a gift from God. I now had friends who could empathize and encourage me to live a life beyond my own pain.

Strictly speaking, I’m still barren. In the eyes of my doctor, I’m still “infertile.” However, unlike before, feelings of brokenness and emptiness no longer haunt me. I’m not consumed by those thoughts anymore. God healed my heart to be at peace with my circumstances. Through infertility, I’ve learned that a diagnosis doesn’t have the power to define who I am as a woman. Christ does. Colossians 2:9 tells us that if we are in Christ, we have also been made complete in Him. I don’t walk around feeling like a broken woman because my heart has found fulfillment in Jesus. No negative pregnancy test or pregnancy announcement on Facebook can change that truth. The same goes for you too, my friend.

We went to the beach last week. As I sat back watching our beautiful twins running around squealing and giggling in the waves, feelings of profound gratefulness poured over me. I couldn’t stop myself from grinning ear to ear as they ran towards me from the ocean. With daddy close behind, they screamed, “Mama, mama, mama!” For a season of my life, I never thought I’d hear those words. And now look how far the Father has brought me. I’m wrapped up in the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard from my son and daughter. Perhaps if I could have seen God’s beautiful plan to grow our family through adoption, it would have been easier to trust in Him. However, we would have forfeited a season of growth, wisdom and perspective if we were able to see how this part of our story unfolded.

There were many Mother’s Days that, at the time, I didn’t want to remember because the sting from the pain was too great. Maybe you can relate to my story or perhaps you are still sitting in this season of waiting.  I don’t know when or if motherhood will come for you through a positive pregnancy test, adoption, or some other means. But I do know the One who knows and sees all wombs and all lives. I know the One who bore the wrenching pain of suffering and loss. And He calls us to raise our eyes from our empty wombs to the empty tomb. In my deepest pain and through all of my doubting, God was with me and Jesus is alive in me. He never left. My big emotions couldn’t scare Him off and yours can’t either. Don’t feel like you have to dress up with a fake smile on Mother’s Day. Jesus understands your loss. Your pain. You don’t have to carry this burden on your own. He promises to shoulder your worst losses if you receive Him as gain.

***If you are interested in learning more about adoption and the services we provide at Christian Adoption Consultants, I would love to chat! Feel free to email me at kelly@christianadoptionconsultants.com and check out Christian Adoption Consultants for more information!***

5 Ways You Can Be More Connected During the Adoption Process

My husband and I had recently started our home study and I was feeling a bit disconnected from the adoption process. I was very excited about the journey we were on, but there were times when it felt more like an idea than a reality to me. When you’re pregnant there are constant reminders that your baby is on the way: positive pregnancy test, morning sickness, weird cravings, belly bump, movement from the little one growing inside your belly, sonogram, etc. I was sharing this struggle with my friend and I will never forget the advice she gave me. “Kelly, I think there are many ways you can be more connected during the adoption process. Have you ever thought about starting a prayer journal where you pray specifically for the expectant mother and her baby?”

 1. Journaling. We had been praying about our journey and for our child’s expectant mother for quite awhile, but there is something special about putting pen to paper. And so, I started journaling about our process. I started writing down my specific prayers for the expectant mother and her little one. Even though we hadn’t been matched at the time, God knew who she was. I prayed that God would give her strength and that she would feel His peace. There were days I remembering praying specifically that if she was having a difficult day that God would remind her of His love in a tangible way-a way she could actually see and recognize.

I wrote specifically to our baby (little did we know we were praying for twins)! I wrote about how much we loved them and how we couldn’t wait to meet them. I prayed they would always be confident of their birth mama’s love for them. I prayed they would never question it. I prayed for their salvation, that they would come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior. It was such a special way for us to feel more connected to them even before we ever laid eyes on them. They were growing in their birth mama’s belly for 9 months, but love had been growing in our heart just the same.

Other helpful things we did to be more connected during the adoption process:

2. Read books and blogs about adoption and parenting. Reading about the adoption process and hearing other families stories ignited hope in us and we were reminded of the faithfulness of our heavenly Father. We also checked in often with our adoption consultant at Christian Adoption Consultant for educational adoption resources.

-Adopted For Life by Russell Moore 
-Christian Adoption Consultants Blog
-Loving the Little Years-Rachel Jankovic 

3. Prepared the nursery. 
Preparing the nursery may not be beneficial for everyone, but my husband and I found it very helpful in our journey. It was good to have something tangible to be working on while we were waiting.  It also provided us with a sense of hope when we walked into their room. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent in the twin’s nursery before we even knew about them. I would sit in the recliner and journal or turn praise worship music on, as I prayed for them and their birth mama.

4. Friends & family threw us a baby shower. I will never forget the feeling I had walking into our baby shower. As I looked around at the beautiful room filled with all of the women at our church who had been praying for us, I saw my friend standing right in front of me. I  fell into her arms with tears streaming down my face, as I was overcome with their thoughtfulness and the hope that this day brought. We spent time in prayer for my husband and I, the twins and their brave birth mama. At the shower we were given the “The Jesus Storybook Bible” with all of the names of the ladies who were at the shower. They also wrote specific prayers for our children on note cards that I saved and placed in a memory box that I will give to our twins one day.

5. Talked with friends and family about our adoption process. Support and prayers from our family and friends as we were walking through the adoption process was invaluable. There were certain aspects of the process that we weren’t able to share due to confidentiality, but we always kept our friends and family updated on where we were at in the process so they could be praying for us. Prayers from our family and friends carried us through the home study, waiting for an expectant mother to choose us, more waiting, meeting our babies and their birth mom for the first time, and all of the emotions and thoughts that come with the adoption process and being new parents. 

I will never forget the thoughts and emotions that swept over me as I laid eyes on our sweeties for the very first time. All the love that had been growing in our hearts for years overtook me as streams of joy-filled tears ran down my face onto the cheeks of the most beautiful brown eyes staring back at me. They had our hearts wrapped around their little fingers from the moment we held them in our arms.

***If you are interested in learning more about adoption and the services we provide at Christian Adoption Consultants, I would love to chat! Feel free to email me at kelly@christianadoptionconsultants.com and check out Christian Adoption Consultants for more information!***

Walking Through The Adoption Process With Joy

Are you discouraged because the adoption process isn’t what you thought it would be? Are you exhausted hearing “no” from expectant mothers/parents? Have you let the disappointments in the adoption process consume your mind? Are you bitter from comparing your adoption journey with another family’s recent match? Did you recently walk through a failed adoption?

Difficulties are certain in this life. In fact, if you are a child of God, hardships are a guarantee. Similarly, the adoption process isn’t immune to challenges. I will never forget the day I got a call from one of my close friends telling me that an expectant mama had chosen them to be the parents of their baby! We had been walking through the adoption process together, and this is the call I had been anticipating from them for a while. However, a few months later their situation seemed to be taking an unexpected turn – the kind that so many adoptive parents fear. The mother had decided to parent. Initially, they were angry, hurt, sad and confused. After the failed adoption, they wondered if God even desired for them to be parents. They felt hopeless and many tears were shed. But as they mourned the loss, they remembered God’s promises to them.

Even though the situation had taken them by surprise, it wasn’t a surprise to our heavenly Father. Even though their circumstances seemed to be changing in a scary direction, God’s promises were no less true. And because their ultimate joy was rooted in Christ and not a specific outcome, they were able to keep moving forward. They were able to keep pressing on with joy because they trusted in God’s sovereign hand. They trusted that His promises were true for them despite the twists and turns of the adoption process.

The day-to-day stress of life can be exhausting. But when you add the unknowns and emotions involved with the adoption process, it can become even more difficult to manage. Having joy in the adoption process can be challenging, but it’s a critical part of the journey that is sometimes overlooked.

Defining joy is important. Today, when we think of joy, we often think of surface-level happy, rainbows and butterflies-type of attitude or perspective. But the joy I’m referring to is a Christ-centered, all- sustaining, all-consuming joy. It’s the kind of joy that will hold you up through the deepest trenches and darkest nights. This is indestructible joy.

Psalm 16:11 tells us that, in Christ’s presence, there is a fullness of joy and in His hand there are pleasures forever more. Scripture makes it very clear that, for Christians, our ultimate joy isn’t found in this world but rather in Christ. However, as someone who has struggled with infertility and walked through several bouts of cancer, this is something I’ve really struggled with through the years. How am I to have joy while I’m walking through the really really messy and difficult stuff? I know the Bible says my joy is found in Christ, but how to do I get there? How do I walk this life with joy when I’ve waited years and years for a child with what seems like no answer from God? Perhaps some of you have asked similar questions. How do I have joy when I’ve been told “no” for the 15th time from an expectant mother? I know the Bible says a lot about rejoicing through my sufferings, but how? How do I do that?

Romans 5:3-5 provides a good explanation. “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” There is a distinct connection between joy and hope here. Do you see it? Hope is the anchor to our joy-the expectation, the longing, the knowing. “For our light and temporary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that far outweighs our troubles (1 Corinthians 4:17).

As Christians we can rejoice through our hardships because we hold tightly to the hope and promises we have in Christ. As believers, we can rejoice in our difficulties because our hearts have been sealed with the Holy Spirit. His promises are true for us regardless of what we encounter in this life. Lately, I’ve been learning that it’s quite difficult not to rejoice as I reflect on the promises of God to me poured out all over scripture. These promises may not align with our timetable or be granted in the way we expect them to, but God ALWAYS has our best interest in mind.

  1. Thinking about His unconditional love for me that sent His son to a cross for my sins so that I could come to know Him. John 3:16
  2. God is committed to making me more like Christ. Philippians 1:6
  3. My inheritance is in Christ. Ephesians 1:11-14
  4. God has promised to never leave me. Hebrews 13:5
  5. God has promised to be close to me when I’m hurting. Psalm 34:18
  6. God will withhold no good thing from me. Psalm 84:11
  7. God will renew my strength. Isaiah 40:31
  8. God will meet my needs. Philippians 4:19
  9. He will give me the desires of my heart as I delight in Him. Psalm 37:4
  10. God’s peace will guard my heart and mind. Philippians 4:6-7

Although my husband and I didn’t walk through a failed adoption and we had a fairly quickly match, our journey was not without its delays, hardships and unexpected twists and turns. Having joy in the adoption process (and in life) doesn’t mean that you only see the world through an inauthentic, rose-colored lens. Instead we can have joy as we are walking through the hard stuff because our hope is found ultimately in the promises of Christ.

***If you are interested in learning more about adoption and the services we provide at Christian Adoption Consultants, I would love to chat! Feel free to email me at kelly@christianadoptionconsultants.com and check out Christian Adoption Consultants for more information!***

Hope: Your Anchor In The Adoption Process

Hearing “no” from an expectant mother or expectant parents is one of the most difficult aspects of adoption for hopeful adoptive parents.  I would venture to say it’s one of the most difficult things I have to share with my families: “She/They chose to move forward with another couple.”  Even though I’m grateful the expectant mother connected with a different family, it’s never easy to share the news with my families who were not chosen.

When my husband and I were walking through the adoption process a situation was presented to us that we immediately connected with. I remember receiving the information while I was at work, and I couldn’t wait to get home to write a letter to this amazing couple that was considering an adoption plan for their child. We were excited and hopeful to present our profile. About a week later, we were informed that the expectant parents chose to move forward with another family. It was not easy news to process.  Even though we were happy that the expectant parents connected with another couple, and even though we trusted God and knew He had a plan, it was still difficult to hear those words: “They chose to move forward with another family.”

In many ways, I believe the heartache we dealt with in infertility prepared us in some ways for the adoption process. Initially, when we began trying to grow our family, I felt as if every negative pregnancy test was God telling us, “No.” Every month became torture. It was very painful for me because I was placing all of my hope into the prospect of having a child. It consumed me. I’m grateful that I was reminded through my infertility to stop placing my hope in external circumstances (having a child or a positive pregnancy test). But instead, I learned to place my Hope in my Savior, Jesus Christ.

Although we were matched very quickly after signing on with Christian Adoption Consultants, we weren’t immune to the heartache of waiting, loss, and those all-consuming questions like, “Have you forgotten about me, God? Do you hear my prayers?” But, it was through those tear-filled pillows and sleepless nights that I learned how to hope and where to place my hope. It was through the storms where I came to know the depths of God’s grace, love and kindness and learned there is no end to it. It was through infertility and miscarriage that I learned that even the most devastating circumstance does not have the power to steal my hope because it is rooted in Jesus Christ. That kind of hope is unshakeable and unwavering. That kind of hope isn’t titled when the storms come. It stands firm. It’s my anchor.

If our journey had transpired any differently then Roman and Ruby wouldn’t be our son and daughter. Every negative pregnancy test, every no, was leading to our yes. I can’t imagine our life without them in it. Being their mother is by far my greatest joy and blessing. I’m so grateful that God reminded me through the adoption process that His plan is far greater than anything we could ever imagine for ourselves. And I have two little reminders of that promise running around our house and filling our hearts to the brim each and every day!

We serve a good Father who loves us more than our minds can fathom. Our Heavenly Father loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for my sins, for your sins, for her sins and for his sins so that we might come to know Him. I pray that wherever you are in your adoption journey you will never forget His great love for you; a kind of love that always has your best interest in mind even when you can’t comprehend or understand what He is up to.

The wait is never wasted. I can’t promise you an easy journey or that there won’t be bumps and turns along the way. Nevertheless I can with full confidence remind you that God hasn’t forgotten you. He has heard your prayers. He sees you. He is with you. He promises never to leave you.  Place your hope in Christ, friends. For nothing, not even the rushing waves, will be able to tip your sail over. 

“Never was a faithful prayer lost. Some prayers have a longer voyage than others,  but then they return with their richer lading at last, so that the  praying soul is a gainer by waiting for an answer.” -William Gurnall

***If you are interested in learning more about adoption and the services we provide at Christian Adoption Consultants, I would love to chat! Feel free to email me at kelly@christianadoptionconsultants.com and check out Christian Adoption Consultants for more information!***

Yes, It Matters What You Say

Our words are powerful. Poet, Pearl Strachan Hurd said, “Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.” They have the ability to speak life or destroy it. “The tongue has the power of life and death” (Proverbs 18:21). They have the ability to heal relationships or break them. “The tongue has no bones, but is strong enough to break a heart. So be careful with your words” (Unknown Author).

Implementing positive adoption language is such an integral part of navigating the adoption process. I stress the importance of being mindful of our language to my families because it is so valuable to learn early on in their journey. How we speak of and to an expectant mother (before birth/adoption) or birth mother (after birth/adoption) can have positive or negative implications. How we speak of and about adoption can bring life or create dissonance.

Below I examine a few terms to avoid and examples of positive adoption language to implement.

***Side note: The intent of this post is not to point a finger. Rather, it is to provide awareness and education on the importance of our language when discussing adoption.***

Term to Avoid: “give up”/ “put up for adoption”
Positive Adoption Language: “place for adoption”/ “made an adoption plan”/ “choosing adoption”

The term “give up” and “put up” should be avoided because it implies that a birth mother gave up on her child. Also, when we discuss “giving up” something it’s typically attached to a negative connotation; “I gave up smoking” or “I gave up eating junk food.” What do these things have in common? They are bad for you. Using this negative terminology can send a message that the child was unwanted. Choosing adoption for your child is not giving up. It’s quite the opposite. Placing a child for adoption is a selfless act of unconditional love. It’s a life GIVING type of love.

 Term to Avoid: “children of your own”
Positive Adoption Language: “biological children”

I’ve heard many couples say, “We can’t have our own children.” And while I know what they mean, it’s important to be mindful of our choice of words here, as it speaks volumes to the world about how you view adoption. This explanation is faulty in many ways, namely because it implies that a child who was adopted isn’t really a part of the family or isn’t as loved as a biological child is or would be.

One of the most hurtful comments ever said to me was from a stranger, “Are you going to have any children of your own?” Perplexed, I looked down at my beautiful children and back up at the older gentleman. I could only muster up five words: “Yes, these are my children.” I regretted not taking a few minutes to explain why his choice of words was hurtful. But exhaustion prevented my lips from expressing what my heart wanted to say. Our children are our children. They are not any “less” our children because they didn’t grow in stomach for 9 months. They’re not any “less” our children because they don’t have our DNA. They are our children. Period. DNA doesn’t make a family. Love does.

Term to Avoid: “keep her child”
Positive Adoption Language: “chose to parent”

The term, “keep her child,” implies that the child is a possession or an object and gravely fails to consider the responsibilities that are involved in choosing to parent. It also undermines the difficulty that the mother faced while coming to terms with her decision. Using the term, “chose to parent” is a much more accurate, helpful and respectful description of the woman’s decision.

Term to Avoid: “real/natural parents”
Positive Adoption Language: A) Before birth/adoption: “expectant parents,” “expectant mother,” “expectant father” B) After birth/adoption: “birth parents,” “birth mother,” “birth father”

Using the terms, “real/natural parents” imply that adoptive relationships are artificial, temporary and somehow “less than par.” It diminishes and ignores the role of the parents. Using positive adoption language (expectant parents/birth parents) is a way to honor the parents and the birth family, as it demonstrates the important role that both play in the child’s life.

Term to Avoid: “is adopted”/ “adopted child”
Positive Adoption Language: “was adopted”/ “child”

The child was adopted (past tense). Continuing to use the phrase “is adopted” or “adopted child” is unhelpful, as it can create feelings of distance between the child and his/her parents. When our twins’ adoption was finalized they not only took on our last name, but a judge told us what we knew all along: they are our son and daughter as if they were born to us.

Yes, our words matter. Without intending to, sometimes the language we use in adoption can evoke negative feelings. Even though ill intent was never planned, words are powerful and have lasting effect. Choose your words wisely. Choose words that extend honor and respect towards all parties of the adoption triad (adoptee, birth family, adoptive family).

***If you are interested in learning more about adoption and the services we provide at Christian Adoption Consultants, I would love to chat! Feel free to email me at kelly@christianadoptionconsultants.com and check out Christian Adoption Consultants for more information!***

The Wait Is Never Wasted

Are you waiting on an answer from God about when/if to begin the adoption process? Are you knee deep in paperwork and home study interviews and you feel like it’s never going to end? Are you in the very middle of the journey and it feels like an expectant mother is never going to choose your family? Are you burnt out from fundraising and applying to adoption grants and a little discouraged at how far you have to go? Did you just walk through a failed adoption and now you wonder if it’s even God’s plan for you to grow your family through adoption?

I’ve spent plenty of my time here on this earth waiting. From waiting in the oncology unit at the hospital for my test results or waiting to see a positive pregnancy test after years of trying. I’ve become quite accustomed to waiting in the unknown spaces. Waiting used to steal the very life out of me. I despised it. But then something happened and through that experience I learned to be grateful in the wait.

I was finishing up my last semester of undergraduate school when I found a small lump in my upper back. I assumed it was just a muscle knot, but upon inquiring about it, and considering my history of cancer, my doctor disagreed with my assumption and referred me to a specialist. Upon examination and surgery the pathologist said, “I’ve never seen anything like this before. It looks concerning, but I would like to get a second opinion.”

I remember the turmoil that went on in my head as I waited for a diagnosis. Days turned into weeks with no conclusive answers, as the tumor was transported from one hospital to one another for further evaluation. I wasted many hours during that time playing all the “what if” scenarios out in my head. Then, an answer came. In light of the rarity of the tumor, the oncologist still wasn’t completely certain, but it was looking like the cancer I had would need to be treated with aggressive chemotherapy.

After leaving the oncology wing that day I felt hopeless. My parents went back to the hotel room, but I told them I needed a minute to myself. I remember completely falling apart underneath a corner in the cold stairwell. My mind began drowning in a sea of unknowns.  “Would I need chemotherapy? Would I have to drop out of school? Would my fertility be affected? Was death in my immediate future?”

We opted to get another medical opinion before moving forward with the treatment plan. Waiting became second nature to me. Sitting in waiting rooms, waiting for tests to be done, waiting to hear back from the doctor about those tests-for the next 10 weeks this is what my life consisted of. To our shocking yet pleasant surprise, the final diagnosis of the tumor was cancer, but it was a less aggressive form of cancer than originally diagnosed. Therefore surgery was sufficient and no further treatment was required. Although this situation was extremely exhausting and scary, the wait wasn’t wasted. Waiting in the unknown spaces reminded me of my humanity and my weaknesses. It forced me to recognize my need for Jesus and pushed me to daily places of surrender.

What does my story have anything to do with the adoption process? Waiting in the unknown. It took me awhile, but I came to a point where I started waiting with hope, instead of waiting with worry. I found hope to be a far better choice, than allowing worry to permeate all the corners of my mind. I can see how God used all of the waiting in the oncology wing to prepare me for the many unknowns in the adoption process. 

At some point in your adoption journey you are going to be faced with a decision: “Am I going to embrace the wait or become overwhelmed by it and see it as a hindrance?” My advice for you is don’t waste the wait. Don’t rush the process. God has a purpose for ALL things-including the wait. Whether it’s waiting for your first visit with your home study provider, waiting to get the final copy of your home study, waiting to hear back from an agency, waiting to hear back from a grant application, waiting to see if an expectant mother has chosen you, waiting out ICPC, waiting for finalization (I think you get the point!)-a great deal of waiting takes place in the adoption process. But keep in mind that it is through the wait that God is growing you. It won’t be easy. But it is worth it!

“In retrospect, I can see that “wait” is the most precious answer God can give us. It makes us cling to him rather than cling to an outcome. God knows what I need. I do not. He sees the future. I cannot. His perspective is eternal. Mine is not. He will give me what is best for me. When it is best for me. As Paul Tripp says, “Waiting is not just about what I get at the end of the wait, but about who I become as I wait.” -Vaneetha Risner

Some helpful things I did while waiting in the adoption process:
-Created a play list of worship music and played it all throughout the day
-Spoke regularly with friends who had walked through the adoption process before and could understand what I was going through
-Prayed specifically for the expectant mother and child that would one day choose us
-Communicated with our consultant at Christian Adoption Consultants
-Read a ton of blogs/books about adoption
-Kept a prayer journal about our journey (so neat to look back on!)
-Went on date nights with my husband to stay connected during the process

***If you are interested in learning more about adoption and the services we provide at Christian Adoption Consultants, I would love to chat! Feel free to email me at kelly@christianadoptionconsultants.com and check out Christian Adoption Consultants for more information!***

Fear In The Adoption Process

How will we afford the cost associated with adoption? What if the expectant mother changes her mind? What if there is a history of mental health issues? What if the expectant mother used drugs or alcohol during pregnancy? Are we too old to be considered? Do we have too many children to be desirable to an expectant mother?

As an adoption consultant these questions, concerns and fears enter the conversation quite frequently. But, I can relate. When my husband and I started our adoption journey we had similar concerns. Below, I will examine a few of the most common questions I receive as a consultant.

1. How will we afford the cost associated with adoption?  Adoption can be expensive. The cost associated with adoption was one our biggest concerns before walking into the process. If this is one of your fears you are not alone. I would say it’s one of the most common questions I get asked about when a family is inquiring about adoption, “How will we afford it?” And yet, time and time again I see families blown away by the faithfulness of God through the generosity of friends, family and even complete strangers. At Christian Adoption Consultants, we also provide our families with resources and tools on how to fund their adoption through grants, loans, and fundraising.

2. What if the expectant mother changes her mind? Although Christian Adoption Consultants has a lower adoption failure rate (< 20%) than the nation wide failure rate (50-60%), there will always be some level of risk in the adoption process. When a woman is considering an adoption plan for her child, she is making one of the most difficult decisions of her life. Placing a child for adoption is a sacrificial and selfless act of unconditional love. Unless you’ve walked through this yourself, than you can’t possibly understand the thoughts and feelings that surround this decision. No one can predict whether or not an expectant mother will change her mind. However, if you are living and breathing on this earth, then risk is inevitable. You can’t be immune to it; it’s a part of life. A gynecologist can’t guarantee a full-term pregnancy, as there is 1 in 4 chances that a woman will miscarry. But that risk doesn’t prevent couples from trying. There are many potential side effects of prescription drugs and medicine, and yet the majority rarely think twice about taking a pill. At CAC we walk with our families and assist them in navigating the warnings signs to reduce the levels of risks associated with the adoption process.

3. What if there is a history of mental health issues or the expectant mother used drugs or alcohol during pregnancy? I often hear couples say, “We just want a healthy baby.” Drug and alcohol exposure during pregnancy and a history of mental health issues are not uncommon in adoption. The desire for a healthy child isn’t abnormal, but in reality this is something that can’t be guaranteed, even in what some would consider the “best case scenario.” My mother took care of herself, ate healthy and exercised, but in between my older sister and I had 3 miscarriages. When she finally gave birth to me I was diagnosed with cancer and given less than 10% chance of living. I know women who had healthy babies at birth that later developed physical, mental health and/or learning issues. If you are considering adoption, please know that I don’t share this information with you to evoke fear. Rather, I share this to remind you that risk is a part of life and adoption is no exception. I’m confident that God equips families with His grace and strength to handle whatever circumstances may come their way, as I have seen this to be true in my own life.

4. Will we ever get chosen? Many couples express concerns about whether or not their family will be desirable to an expectant mother. “Are we too old? Are we too young? Do we have too many children?” Every expectant mother has their own set of preferences for an adoptive family. Perhaps one expectant mother may desire a family with many children for her little one to play with. Another expectant mother may prefer a family who has a history of infertility because she feels as though she is giving them something they cannot give themselves. Regardless of your situation, God is using everything about your family to connect with an expectant mother, even when you can’t quite see what He is up to. 

When my husband and I were functioning and making decisions through a “what I can handle” lens, fear quickly became a familiar visitor. However, our worry began dissipating when we stopped thinking with an autonomous mentality and started reminding ourselves that our source of strength does not begin or end with ourselves. It is God who equips us with all that we need to journey through this life (and the adoption process)! It also brought us great comfort to know that we couldn’t mess up or miss out on the story God was writing for our family.

If we had let fear govern our decision-making, we probably never would have started the adoption process. And then we would have missed out on the two biggest blessings of our life: Roman and Ruby. Fears and concerns may arise and when they do my prayer is that you would remember the Author who is writing your story-the One who will equip with you everything you need to accomplish everything He will bring along your path.

 

***If you are interested in learning more about adoption and the services we provide at Christian Adoption Consultants, I would love to chat! Feel free to email me at kelly@christianadoptionconsultants.com and check out Christian Adoption Consultants for more information!***

Another Holiday Pregnancy Announcement That Isn’t Mine

As a child, I anxiously looked forward to Christmas morning. I couldn’t wait to see what Santa had brought my sister and me. When I was six years old, I remember thinking I heard Santa’s reindeer on our roof. I excitedly ran into my sister’s room and jumped onto her bed and said, “Did you hear that?!” Playing along, my older sister said, “Yes!” The remainder of that conversation has drawn blank on me. But, I can still see two little girls giggling and smiling just thinking about what the next morning would bring.

For many, the Christmas season exudes a sense of celebration, joy, excitement, awe, and wonder, and it should. After all, over 2,000 years ago our Savior was born. If that isn’t something to celebrate with family and friends, then I don’t know what is. But, for some, this holiday season is a reminder of great loss and pain. Perhaps the mother who used to greet you on Christmas morning with a pancake breakfast is no longer on this earth. Perhaps sitting in the living room on Christmas Eve reading the Christmas story feels different this year with the passing of your father. Maybe you were looking forward to sharing your pregnancy announcement with family and friends, but instead you are grieving the loss of your unborn child.

One of the most difficult holidays for me was Christmas 2014. Our baby’s due date was near the end of November, and I remember the anxiety that was building in my heart as the days moved toward Christmas. We were living in Louisiana at the time, and it was 70 degrees all during the month of December—bright and sunny. But I remember my heart felt very cold. I didn’t want to put up a Christmas tree, but Obbie insisted. And so, I obliged begrudgingly. I felt like there was absolutely nothing to celebrate. The baby who was supposed to be less than 30 days old and snuggling in my arms wasn’t there.

The influx of holiday pregnancy announcements filled my newsfeed. It was complete torture, but there I would find myself in the late hours of the night scrolling mindlessly through Facebook with a sad heart. Another holiday pregnancy announcement that isn’t mine, I would think to myself. Then the Christmas family photos would come—the ones with young couples and their children smiling.

Later that night, I saw a picture of six-year-old Kelly from Christmas smiling ear to ear. In that moment, I felt so distant from that little girl who was filled with so much awe and wonder. Those feelings were foreign to me. Obbie and I spent Christmas of 2014 with friends, and even though I was surrounded by a ton of people with their excited faces and giggling voices, I felt sad, empty, and alone. 

Although I am medically deemed infertile and though my womb is barren, my heart is full. And it isn’t just because our hearts (and hands!) are filled to the brim with the sweetest and silliest 18-month-old twins running around the house. After our miscarriage and before we started the adoption process, I was reminded that joy would never come through a positive pregnancy test, a child, or anything that this earth has to offer. The ultimate joy I was looking for, hoping for, and so desperately longing for was something that had already been given to me. It wasn’t a gift to be opened under the tree; it was found in the arms of my Savior. God was faithful to heal our hearts, even though our circumstances didn’t change. And as we continually ran to Him and (sometimes) fell into His arms, He filled us with the fullness of His joy. Not a temporal kind of joy, but an eternal one, the kind that enables you to sing, “It Is Well with My Soul” through life’s deepest wounds.

The holidays can bring about a sadness that on an ordinary day may exist, but during the holidays, it can seem more apparent. You are not alone. Perhaps you feel hopeless in your sadness. Perhaps your heart couldn’t feel farther from that warm, sunny, and 70-degree day. If you need to take a break from the holiday festivities, then do so, and don’t feel guilty that you have to step away from all of the excitement. But as you step away and as you grieve, my prayer for you is that you would not grieve without hope. May Christ give you the strength to grieve with hope knowing that God is the healer, protector, and redeemer of your heart. Grieve with hope knowing that God’s love for you is insurmountable and goes deeper than the pain and hurt encompassing you. Grieve with hope knowing that one day, the load you carry will feel lighter as you continue bringing your burdens to the cross. Grieve with hope knowing that the winter won’t last forever and the sun will come out again.

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Adopt

My intention of writing this post isn’t to evoke fear or scare you out of adoption. There are many reasons that families journey through adoption. Unfortunately, there are some unhelpful factors that may motivate a family’s desire to pursue adoption. If you find yourself identifying with one of these reasons, I encourage you to reach out to a pastor, counselor or adoption professional and talk through these issues.

1. You are looking for the perfect child.
The perfect child doesn’t exist, just like the perfect parent doesn’t exist. Attempting to grow your family with the mindset of gaining a perfect kid, whether it be through adoption or biologically, can be extremely detrimental to the wellbeing of a child. Although issues and needs may not be apparent initially in your child, they will come. And when they do, if you are functioning with this mentality you may not be equipped to tend to the needs of your little one. Also, I can’t even begin to express the long-term effects this mindset could have on the mental health of your child. Dr. Moore puts it well: “If you want your “dream baby,” do not adopt or foster a child: buy a cat and make-believe…Such a mindset hurts the child, and countless other children and families. Adoption is about taking on risk as cross-bearing love.”

2. You are looking to be a hero or a savior.
By definition, the savior complex is an individual who feels the need to help others to fill a void in their life. People who struggle with a savior complex are typically searching to find love and acceptance through their self-perceived good deeds. But, children don’t need to be saved or rescued by you. They need unconditional and unwavering love. Adopting a child into a home that upholds this outlook could produce feelings of debt in a child; thinking in some way they owe you something. Adoptive parents didn’t “save” their children. We are just parents who desperately love our kids. But, ultimately keep in mind, they already have a Savior, who loves them more than you possibly could. A Hero who died on the cross over 2,000 years ago-for them, for you, for us.

3. You are looking to fill a void.
Whether it’s dissatisfaction in marriage, loneliness, struggling to get over a loss-children were not created to fill a void inside your heart. They need you. They need your love, support, and encouragement. Although many people come to adoption through miscarriage or infertility, it can be dangerous to do so if you haven’t grieved or given your heart time to heal. The grieving process is different for everyone. I’m not implying that you shouldn’t begin the adoption process if you aren’t “over” the loss, as the grieving process is a long journey. However, adoption professionals would discourage you from beginning the adoption process with the intention of using a child to fill a void in your heart. God didn’t create marriage or children to be the ultimate healers or completers of our heart. Only God can satisfy that void in your heart. Walking through the adoption process and life with this mentality will lead to disappointment and unrealistic expectations on your marriage and child.

4. You think it’s the cool, trendy thing to do.
I will never forget the day a stranger approached me at the store, looked down at my children and said, “Your kids are adopted, right? I guess you’re kind of like Angelina Jolie.” I’m so grateful my kids weren’t old enough to understand the ignorance of this statement. You should not adopt because you think it’s trendy or all of your friends are doing it. Perhaps you see pictures of Sandra Bullock or Katherine Heigl with their children and think to yourself it would be a “cool” thing to do. I don’t think Katherine or Sandra would agree with that sentiment. There are many complexities to adoption-complexities that can’t be seen or understood through a mere photo on the cover of a magazine.

5. You think it will be easy.
Adoption isn’t for the faint of heart. Adoption isn’t easy. There are complexities in adoption. There are losses in adoption. There are risks in adoption. It’s important for you to understand this before walking into the adoption process. “Easy” wouldn’t be a word I would use to describe it. And at the same time, it’s of greater importance that you understand that it’s God who equips you with strength and grace to walk through the complexities, losses and risks in adoption. Our heavenly Father is the ultimately Healer, Comforter and Redeemer of all things. He will guide you through the adoption process and for the rest of your family’s journey here on this earth.

***If you are interested in learning more about adoption and the services we provide at Christian Adoption Consultants, I would love to chat! Feel free to email me at kelly@christianadoptionconsultants.com and check out Christian Adoption Consultants for more information!***

More Than A Brave Decision

Roman charges at me from across the room and jumps into my lap, bear-hugging me with his arms gripped tightly around my neck, almost knocking me over, all while giggling hysterically. Ruby hears a good beat and instantly begins busting some moves as if she knows the song like the back of her hand, all while belly laughing so hard that she can’t help herself from falling over. She then gets back up again and does the same thing again and again. As I sit back and look at our beautiful children, my heart beams with pride and gratefulness. They are bright little lights to this world, so full of joy. They’ve filled our hearts and home to the brim. I love being their mama. But in these heightened moments of joy and laughter, I can’t help but think of their birth mama and the brave decision she made in choosing adoption for her children. However, it wasn’t just a brave decision; it was the most difficult and heart wrenching decision of her life.

Although I completely understand why people use the word “beautiful” to describe adoption, it’s also a deeply complex and difficult process and can’t be summarized in one word or phrase. There are juxtapositions and tensions in adoption that I sometimes find difficult to absorb. There are three legs to the adoption triad: the adoptee, the birthmother, and the adoptive parents. For the most part, society is only privy to one side of adoption: the parents who have adopted a child. And this is understandable. After all, it’s the relationship our friends and family witness for themselves.

In a perfect world, adoption wouldn’t exist. However, the reality is that we don’t live in a perfect world. We live on the other side of the Fall, where brokenness, pain and death reside. Although beauty can be found in the brokenness of life, it doesn’t erase all of the pain or hurt that one encountered to get there. Regardless of how beautiful adoption can be, there is loss and brokenness within it. When a woman chooses adoption for her child, she is making the most difficult decision of her life. Placing a child for adoption is a sacrificial and selfless act of unconditional love. As the baby grows inside of her womb, the birth mama feels the baby kick and respond to her voice, and she visually sees the child growing inside of her. Can you imagine the emotions she feels as she places her baby into the arms of another woman who her child will one day call “mama?” I can’t imagine that type of loss.

Imagine for a moment leaving the hospital without the child that you grew in your belly for 9 months. As you walk through the door to your home, the quietness overwhelms you. Someone is missing. There is no baby there to wake you up in the middle of the night, there is no baby to feed or sing lullabies to, there is no baby to swaddle and snuggle, and there are no more late night talks to the little one that was growing inside of your belly. Your baby is being cared for by another woman. And you chose this mother and father to be the parents of your child. But, even if you’ve found peace in your decision and are confident that you made the right one, that doesn’t negate all of the pain and feelings of emptiness associated with the loss. Imagine answering questions from curious co-workers and friends about the baby, and having constant reminders like stretch marks or possible scars from the c-section you painfully endured. However, the stretch marks and scars on your body pale in comparison to the scars on your heart. I can’t imagine that type of loss.

Sometimes I am reminded of this loss as I’m rocking the twins to sleep. Roman will look up at me with those beautiful big brown eyes and I can’t help but think of his birth mom. In that moment, I’m overwhelmed by the full weight of the juxtapositions surrounding adoption. Her greatest loss made me a mama. My arms are full while her arms are empty. My house is filled with the sight and sounds of toddlers running around, babbling, throwing toys everywhere and giggling uncontrollable, while her house is quiet. Thinking about all of the “firsts” she will never experience first hand brings the most complex feelings and emotions to the surface. Even now, I find it difficult to articulate these thoughts.

Adoption is more than a brave decision. Adoption is one of the most selfless, sacrificial acts of unconditional love that any human being can do for another, one that entails great loss. The grieving process for birth moms is complex, ongoing and a lifelong process to work through. These women deserve our utmost love, prayers and respect. They have given us a piece of their heart, one that they are entrusting us with forever.

***If you are interested in learning more about adoption and the services we provide at Christian Adoption Consultants, I would love to chat! Feel free to email me at kelly@christianadoptionconsultants.com and check out Christian Adoption Consultants for more information!***