Adoption Story: Derek + Shannon

I chatted with Shannon for the very first time around Christmas last year.   I remember her talking about how it had been snowing there recently and they had been outside playing with their four boys. It has been such a joy getting to know their sweet family and have a front row seat to all of the incredible ways that God has provided. They signed on with Christian Adoption Consultants in January and in less than two months they were chosen to be the parents of a little girl by her brave birth mama. Shannon shares more of their story below.


Adoption was something that Derek and I talked about early on in our marriage. We wanted to wait on God’s timing and for His plan to be made clear. Looking back over the past 10 years- what a journey it has been. We decided to try and start a family shortly before our one year wedding anniversary. I know- so soon?! But we were both settled in our jobs, we felt financially secure, and let’s be honest- I have always loved babies and couldn’t wait to start that chapter in our lives. Over the next few years we had four boys about 2 years a part. However, we felt like our family wasn’t complete. Watching close friends journey through foster care and domestic adoption, our hearts were being tugged at more and more.

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I was ready to start the adoption process quite a bit before Derek was. I talked about it all the time. I felt like I was often nagging him about getting on the same page and wondered, “God, why are you calling me to something so huge, but not my husband?!” I decided to lay low for awhile and completely drop the topic and just pray. So for a few months that’s what I did. Finally, in October o f 2017 after we both spent time in prayer, Derek said that he really felt we should start the process towards adoption…NOW!

After discussing our options with a friend who recently adopted, I called Christian Adoption Consultants and spoke with Kelly Todd. I loved the idea of hiring an adoption consultant to walk with us through the entire process. Because let’s be honest, we were total newbies and we had no idea what we were doing. Simply just chatting with Kelly and getting information from her was like talking to an old friend. I felt my eyes literally tear up at times during the conversation when talking about that missing piece of the family, and our hearts for adoption. Kelly was so helpful and made us feel very comfortable and confident throughout our entire journey.

After our home study was complete near the end of January 2018, we signed on with CAC. Shortly after we received our first situation. We were so excited to give our “yes” for the first time, but knew very well not to expect things to happen right away. Over the next month, we said “yes” to 3 more situations. Every “no” felt more like a “not yet” to us, and we trusted that God wouldn’t let us miss out on His plan for our family. There were times when we doubted and we wondered if we’d ever be chosen by an expectant mama. Some of the doubt specifically came from the fact that we already have 4 biological children. What would an expectant mom think about that? But time and time again we heard God telling us just to trust Him. And so we did.

Near the end of March we presented to another situation. The next day, as I was building a snowman with the boys outside during a freak March snowstorm, my cell phone rang with a number I didn’t recognize. But by the area code I figured it was the agency calling to tell us that the expectant mama chose to move forward with another family. I was shocked when she explained to us that we were chosen. It was us- this was really happening!  There was just something about this sweet little baby girl having four older brothers to protect her that made us stand out. Derek pulled in from work just a few minutes later and I ran outside (barefoot and all) onto the ice and snow telling him that we were matched! It was exciting, but nerve wracking all at once. We had a few months until the expectant mother’s due date. Having time to prepare was good, but it wasn’t always easy. It was difficult waiting in the unknown and we still struggled with doubt sometimes. Our faith was tested almost daily, but God continued to show up. He showed up during our fundraisers-helping us cram in two huge events in that time frame. He showed up with our community- with the support and love and prayers we felt all the time. He was faithful and He provided for us in so many ways.

When Derek and I discovered that the expectant mother wanted me with her in the delivery room, we thought it would be best if I headed in that direction a week early. Derek would plan on coming later. My mom graciously traveled out with there early with me. A few days later we were able to have lunch with Mama A and get to know her. When we first met she greeted me with the biggest hug. It was if we had been friends forever. We also met her parents that day, who were extremely supportive and made my mom and I feel like we were family. Saturday morning my mom left and headed back home to take care of our boys. I was in the unfamiliar city alone and continued waiting to get the call that Mama A was in labor. Clinging to God and trusting His plan for us was all I could do during that time. Monday night before bed I specifically remember crying out to God, as so many emotions came over me that night as I lay in bed.

After receiving confirmation in the middle of the night that Mama A was admitted into the hospital, I called Derek to tell him to get on the next plane and I took an Uber over to the hospital. I was completely honored that she wanted me to be in the delivery room with her. It was such a special time and one that I will never forget. I held her hand and supported her, as she bravely brought her daughter into the world. After the birth she reached out to me and we hugged and cried for a very long time. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room. A few hours later, Derek arrived and there could have not been a sweeter reunion.

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Over the next few days we continued to get to know our daughter’s brave birth mama. We are so inspired by her courage and the unconditional love she has for her little girl. We, along with her birth mother, named our daughter, Selah Nakora. Selah means ‘to pause and reflect’, or another interpretation says ‘to praise.’ We couldn’t think of a more fitting name for our baby.

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As soon as we brought Selah home our boys were so smitten with her and have already stepped into the “big brother” role so well. Our daughter is such a miracle baby in so many ways and we are so blessed to be her mom and dad.

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“Not to us, Lord, not to us, but to Your name, be the glory,
because of your love &faithfulness.”
– Psalm 115:1-

 


***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!***