Thursday, December 17, 2015

Adoption After Infertility: Hope After Heartache

I was recently asked to share our adoption story in a series called Adoption After Infertility over on Sarah Frazer's blog, Abiding in Grace

Here's a snippet from my post:
 "Whenever we received our infertility diagnosis, I felt like God had cursed or abandoned us. Now I can see His blessings and purpose for us in it. Two years ago, I could never have imagined I would ever be able to say that and actually mean it. The Lord has used Isabel to heal my heart and fulfill my deep desire to be a mother. Every time I look at her, my heart fills with joy… I see my daughter, the greatest and most precious blessing of my life and I am reminded of His faithfulness. When I look into her beautiful sparkling brown eyes, I may not see my blue eyes looking back at me, but I do see unconditional love and the deepest joys and desires of my heart reflected. When I pass a mirror and see Isabel’s dark hair contrasted next to my blonde hair, I am reminded of the mysterious and beautiful way the Lord answered our prayers for a child. I look at my daughter’s precious face everyday and I see God’s amazing grace written all over our story."

Click the link to read the full post:





I love sharing our story & pray it blesses hearts.

Merry Christmas, 
Tyler 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Families Called to Adopt: Let's Support One Another

The other day I was on social media & read a post about adoption. More specifically, about how people should stop paying high fees to adopt infants domestically & instead adopt from the foster care system.

Now, let me say, the main point of the status was to raise awareness for foster care, which I am behind 100%. However, in the process of promoting adoption from the foster care system, the author criticized families who adopt domestically & fundraise to do so. Obviously, this post struck a nerve with me, as we are currently pursuing our second domestic infant adoption & fundraising again. After I read the status, I tried to go on with my day but my heart was troubled & perplexed by this mindset. I didn’t understand why someone would choose to advocate for foster care adoption by putting down families who choose other avenues of adoption.

I wanted to share some of my thoughts here with you on this topic… 
If you follow my posts or know me, you know my heart is for all types of adoption, including foster care adoption. There is an enormous need for families to adopt from the foster care system. Did you know that if 1 out of 4 families in every church in the U.S. adopted from foster care, the system would be eradicated? Foster care adoption comes at little to no cost, which is amazing & should be talked about as the cost that accompanies domestic & international adoption is one of the main reasons more couples don’t adopt! I do believe the heart behind the post that inspired this post was a burning passion to bring awareness to the waiting children in the system…& awareness is important, wonderful & necessary! More people need to be educated on the foster to adopt process, no doubt.
However, discouraging other avenues of adoption while advocating for foster care is not cool. That mindset is divisive, hurtful & not necessary. Families built by adoption should all be on the same team! We should be encouraging & supporting ALL types of adoption, because there is a NEED for all 3 avenues of adoption: foster care, domestic & international. When we hear a family is adopting, our response should not be to criticize the way they are going about it, our response should be, “Wonderful! How can I pray for you? How can I support your growing family? May God bless you on your journey.” Why use our words to divide when we can use them to unify?

To families built by adoption: we may play different roles in the adoption world, but we are all answering the unique call of God on our families. We all have the same heart & same goal: advocate for children in need of families, seek the will of God for our family & fight for our children at all costs! Our journeys may different, but our hearts should be in unison.

Who are we to judge how God is calling someone to adopt? We don’t know the intimate desires of another person’s heart. We don’t know how many tears, how much research, all the prayers & the struggle that went into making the decision to adopt. Who are we to say one type of adoption is more worthy than another? Who are we to criticize the avenue another family has chosen? Who are we to say which specific child the Lord is calling another family to? Whatever avenue of adoption a family is pursing, I promise you, they did not make the decision lightly.  
Our response to fellow adoptive families should always be to encourage, to support & to love. Adoption can be such a difficult process in so many ways & as families built by adoption, we of all people should be supporting one another!

There are over 100,000 children waiting for families in the U.S. foster care system, there are millions of orphans across the world, & there are thousands of birth mothers in the U.S. making adoption plans for their unborn babies. 
I do not believe God favors or blesses one type of adoption over another. His heart is to see children in families. A child in the U.S. foster care system is just as valuable in His eyes to a child in an orphanage in Uganda or a baby in a womb in Georgia. His will for us is to seek Him & follow His unique calling for each of our lives. 

Domestic adoption should not be looked down upon or discouraged because it is expensive. When a birth mother makes an adoption plan & signs her parental rights away, that precious baby needs a home & family just as much as kids in the foster care system or children in orphanages all across the world! Advocating for foster care adoption (or international adoption) should not include discouraging families who pursuing domestic adoption, and vice versa! If a family feels led to adopt domestically, internationally or from the foster care system, they are doing so because they believe that particular avenue will lead them to the child God has for their family. As parents, we would all do anything for our kids, right?! For some of us adopting domestically, that includes humbling ourselves by fundraising. Cary & I do not have the funds to make another domestic adoption happen, but we believe the Lord is calling us to it again, so we are stepping out to do so & trusting Him to provide. We will do anything to bring our next little one home, that is the job of a parent…to fight for your child NO MATTER THE COST!

When we decided to adopt again, we spent time in prayer asking God which type of adoption we should pursue. We sought wisdom, we did research, we examined our hearts, our finances, our life circumstances & our vision for the future of our family. Then we surrendered IT ALL before the Lord & asked Him for peace & clarity. If there’s one thing the Lord taught me through Isabel’s adoption, it’s when He calls us to something, it is for a specific purpose.  So when God united our hearts to pursue domestic infant adoption again, Cary & I said yes to it without hesitation. If along the way we feel the Lord leading us in another direction, we will follow His lead because we know there is a glorious purpose in His timing & plan for our family. 

At this time in my life, the Lord has captivated my heart with domestic infant adoption. However, that doesn’t mean my heart isn’t broken for the children in orphanages all over the world or that I’m not burdened over the waiting children in the foster care system. I am convicted that I am not doing enough for these children & I want to do more, specifically for the kids here in the Louisiana foster care system. I try to use my social media platform to advocate for these children & pray for them consistently. I have visited the websites for waiting children in Louisiana many times over the past 2 years. I have spent nights praying for these children by name with tears rolling down my face. Foster care adoption is close to my heart & in the future, we will likely add to our family through it. I’ve also struggled at times with pursuing infant adoption over foster care adoption. But at this time the Lord has given us peace that domestic infant adoption is the next step for our family so that’s what we are doing! The desire of our hearts is to go wherever the Lord leads us. 



Adoption is a calling. 
All Christians are called to care for children in need of families, although not all Christians are called to adopt. We each have a role to play & there are many ways to make an impact! Similarity, those of us called to adoption are called to welcome a child into our family, but that doesn’t mean we are all called to go about it the same way.
 Some of us are called to adopt an infant domestically. Some of us are called to adopt from the foster care system. Some of us are called to adopt internationally. Some of us are called to adopt multiple times, sometimes from different avenues, sometimes through the same avenue.There are millions of children throughout the world in need of a forever family. What should matter is: we are adopting! 
We are answering the call of God on our lives to welcome a child into our family. We are doing whatever is necessary to bring our little one home. For some of us that means fundraising & sacrificing financially, for some of us it means sacrificing or turning our lives upside down in different ways. If we’ve surrendered our plans to the Lord & are pursuing the avenue He has given us peace & passion for, then rest assured: His will for our family is unfolding. 
We are all on the same team, so let's cheer each other on!!!

If you take away anything from this post let it be this:
As people who are passionate about adoption, let’s support one another & foster a spirit of unification & encouragement instead of division & criticism! Let’s advocate for all types of adoption. Let's advocate for specific types of adoption without discouraging the other types. Let’s support one another's own unique adoption journeys in whatever way we can! 



I hope this gives y'all a glimpse into my heart & our decision to pursue another domestic infant adoption. We are excited & expectant over what's ahead for our growing family. If you would like to support us financially, check out the "Support Us" tab at the top of the blog. We cherish your prayers & encouragement in this new journey!

If you are also adopting, please let me know how my family can be praying for yours! I would love to know what type of adoption you are pursuing & how my family can support yours as you go through the process.


 With love,

Monday, November 30, 2015

National Adoption Month

It's been amazing & emotional reflecting back on our journey over the past few weeks in honor of National Adoption Month. Thanks to all of you who have followed along with our posts this month & over the past year & a half! We appreciate the kind & encouraging words, support & prayers that have been given to our family throughout this journey. I hope my posts touch, encourage & educate. I loved connecting more with others touched by adoption & will continue to use this blog to share my heart on the crazy, hard, beautiful parts of the process.


I just want to say one more thing before National Adoption Month ends: If you have an interest in adoption, explore it. Ask questions, pray, do your research... God might be planting a seed in your heart. 

In August of 2013, a few months before we even received our infertility diagnosis & 8 months before we started the adoption process, I found myself googling "How to adopt an infant." God was moving my heart towards adoption at that time, when I thought I would be years before we would consider adopting. 

Adoption has changed our hearts & lives forever...I am so grateful for Isabel & so hopeful for what God will continue to do. We would appreciate your prayers over our next adoption journey, especially for joy, wisdom & provision as we prepare. 

We will continue to keep y'all updated with adoption #2 progress. We cannot start the official paperwork until we raise a significant amount of funds. We re-opened our Etsy shop this month. All proceeds from the shop benefit our next adoption. We've got a great response so far & are so grateful for each person who has shopped! :)  

We will be offering many ways for our community to support our new adoption adventure over the coming months. Tomorrow we will be launching our first fundraiser, "Team Cut or Team Grow" to officially kick off our fundraising. Details coming tomorrow! For more information on how to support us, visit the "Support Us" tab at the top of the blog. 
Even though our circumstances seem to be shouting, "there's no way to make this happen", we believe God is calling us to adopt again, so we have faith He will make a way.  

If you have questions about how to get started with adoption, let me know! I love to share our experience in hopes of helping others. If you're currently in the process, please let me know how I can be praying for you! 

With love,
The Kochs 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving


Love this post by my friend Lena Satterlee about being thankful in all circumstances:



" Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 
~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Happy Thanksgiving! 

National Adoption Month: She Chose Us

We were matched with Isabel's birth mom one year ago TODAY. 

I shared this photo just a few hours before we heard the news!

I'll never forget how it felt to finally receive that life-changing news. I remember the way my heart leapt when I looked down to see our adoption consultants calling at 8 p.m. at night. I remember the way everything inside of me went still when I heard the words, "She chose you." I remember standing in our Canadian apartment with tears welling up & excitement exploding in my heart as the news sunk in. After all the waiting, being matched felt so surreal. A few minutes later, our consultants emailed over a picture of Isabel's birth mom. As I looked at her picture for the first time, peace & gratitude filled my heart for the brave, beautiful woman I saw looking back at me. 

Cary was on a plane flying across Canada for the 2014 Grey Cup when I got the news, so I had to wait 2 hours to tell him. It was SO hard waiting to share the news with him!!! That night we celebrating the exciting news over the phone & prayed for the birth mom. I hardly slept at all anticipating all that was to come! The next morning we were able to speak with Isabel's birth mom on a conference call. The conversation was awesome & just what we all needed to confirm that the match was right. As our call ended & I hung up the phone, joy & relief overwhelmed me. We were going to have a baby! I cried while praising God for His hand on our journey. 


One year later we are soaking up the joy that our sweet 9 month old daughter brings to our lives every single day. We are so thankful to be celebrating this Thanksgiving with Isabel in our arms. I look at my daughter's beautiful face & I see God's grace written all over her life. I'm been so overwhelmed with gratitude this week as I reflect on our journey this time last year. I am amazed at the way God brought everything together in His perfect timing. Thanksgiving week will forever remind me of God's faithfulness & sovereignty!







If you are a Baton Rouge or Louisiana local, contact Jen Menard Olano if you need family, newborn, maternity, engagement or wedding photography. Jen is not only a talented photographer, she also is a kind woman, generous soul & sweet friend. She has donated her time, money & talent to our adoption fundraising. She even felt led to reach out & BLESS us with this family shoot! She recently photographed my sister's wedding & did an amazing job. Jen has been such a great friend to our family & we are thankful. Go give this generous woman some business! 

I am so grateful for Isabel's birth mom for choosing adoption & choosing us for our sweet girl. I pray the Lord would bless her abundantly. Please keep Isabel's birth family in your prayers this Thanksgiving.

I can't wait to see what's in store for our family as we move forward with another adoption. We are beginning to pray specific prayers over our next baby-to-be & his/her birth mother. We would love for you to join us. God is so faithful & we are trusting His hand to be over detail of our new journey.

We are so grateful for all of the prayer, encouragement & support our family & friends have given us over the past year & a half. We couldn't do this without our amazing community behind us.

Happy Thanksgiving,
Tyler, Cary & Isabel  

National Adoption Month: Faith Bigger than Fear

   The joy Isabel has brought to our family has made the wait & sacrifices from our adoption journey seem to fade away. 


As we move closer to getting officially started with our next adoption, my heart as been reminded of the fears & hardships that come along with the process. There’s no denying adoption comes with huge risks. The process is complicated & difficult. Adoption is filled with unknowns & uncertainties. The emotional risks make our hearts vulnerable while the financial risks we face are huge & terrifying.

Throughout the process you live with the knowledge that there are no guarantees & everything can change at the drop of a hat. The fear of a failed match & risk of losing thousands of dollars, the fears associated with fundraising, the unknowns & concerns over the baby’s health…these are just a few of the long list of legitimate fears that those in the process have to navigate every single day. Unfortunately, there’s no sure way to be protected from this part of the adoption process.

Part of not just surviving the process, but keeping your sanity in tact is figuring out how to guard your heart, navigate the fears, prepare for the risks, all while still living with hope, peace & joy. Throughout our journey to adopt Isabel, I really struggled at times (most of the time) to live with faith bigger than my fear. What I came to understand as I struggled to live with a healthy balance of reality & hope, is having faith bigger than our fear doesn’t mean we live in denial of risks. It doesn’t mean we won’t be faced with deep pain & burdens on our journey. Living with faith means that we must choose to continuously put our hearts in God’s hands & believe that no matter what circumstances adoption (or life) brings our way: He is good & enough for us through it all. It is only when we put all of our hope in Him that we can experience peace that passes all understanding.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 4:6-7

One of my mantras for our next adoption is: 
Live with faith bigger than fear. 
I know only God can give me the strength to live this way through the crazy ups & downs adoption brings. I hope our journey is a quick & smooth one, but more than that, I hope regardless of the circumstances we may face in the journey, our faith would never waiver & that our hope, peace, & joy would always be found in Him.

I pray that regardless of what situation, diagnosis, disappointment, hardship or fear you’re facing today, my words would remind you to turn to the One who has a limitless supply of peace, strength, hope & joy to give you.

Would you lift us up in prayer as we begin to prepare our hearts to adopt again? We are blessed to have such an incredible & encouraging community behind us. 
We are excited to see what’s ahead.


With love,

Tyler

Saturday, November 21, 2015

National Adoption Month: News of You

One year ago TODAY we heard about Isabel for the very first time. We are reminded today of the beautiful sacrifice her birth mother made by choosing adoption & choosing us. So grateful!

Last year, on November 21st, we received an email from our adoption consultants with a birth mother situation like we had several times before. We quickly read the limited information & both immediately agree to send our profile book to the birth mother. 
I still remember my prayer after we made the decision to present our book to her. I asked the Lord to give me peace, regardless of the outcome. I prayed for the protection & development of the baby. That day & in the days to come I prayed constantly for the birth mom, "Lord give her strength, wisdom, clarity, peace, & hope as she makes her decision." 
For the first time in our 3 month waiting-to-be-matched-process, I actually had peace instead of anxiety in my heart as we waited over the next few days to hear news. I hoped she would choose us, but I was no longer putting my hope in the outcome of the situation. I really didn't think we would be chosen...little did I know, God was about to answer all of our prayers.


Today we supported Baby Steps Infertility Awareness 5k. Cary ran in anticipation of our sweet Baby K #2. Loved seeing so many people out supporting friends & family supported by infertility. 

I hope our story encourages those of you still waiting for your miracle. Whether it's a positive pregnancy test, an adoption match, a spiritual breakthrough or healing for someone you love...I'm here to remind you that the Lord hasn't forgotten about you… Trust in His timing today! 

With love,
Tyler 

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." ~Romans 12:12

"Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." ~Psalm 27:14 

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." ~Jeremiah 29:11 


Thursday, November 19, 2015

National Adoption Month: For This Child

Before you read my words below, go read this beautiful devotional from Sarah's Laughter Infertility Ministry: 
Link:

I cried the whole way through it. Every single word hits home

It was for Isabel that we waited, prepared, dreamed, hoped & longed for two years… She is truly our good & perfect gift from above…she is the child we prayed for. When I saw her face for the first time, everything inside of me grew still & I knew with every fiber of my being that I was created to know & love her. 

It was for this child I stayed awake long nights aching to know & longing to hold.. It was for this child I shed countless tears over… For this child I begged the Lord to bring into my life… For this child I prayed every single day for… For this child that I dreamed about & longed to know deep within my soul. 

The infertility & the adoption process, the wait & the pain, the desire & the dreams…it was all for the Lord's purpose of bringing Isabel, my daughter, to me. 

And now I feel that way again. I know the Lord has another baby for us. I can feel it in my soul. It's for this next child, this very specific child that the Lord is leading us to, that everything in me wants to fight for, prepare for, fundraise for, dream about, pray over…

I don't doubt God's plan anymore. We feel Him nudging us to prepare & so we are. We are jumping back into the crazy, emotional, stressful, exhausting, financially draining journey of adoption NOW because we know there is another this child that we are meant to know & love. 
I'm surrendered to God's plan so much more than I was 2 years ago, because I know in my heart whatever wait is ahead of us this time around is more than worth it

  Whether it only takes 6 months or 2 more years for God to lead us to Baby K #2, we are committed to trusting God to lead to us our next little one… We'd love for you to consider joining us on our new adoption adventure. The journey ahead won't be easy & we are going to need our support system to remind of these truths from time to time… Adoption is hard, y'all. It's an emotional, spiritual & financial battle every step of the way. We are going to need a whole lot of prayer, encouragement & financial support from our family, friends, church & community covering us.   

 "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us"
 ~Ephesians 3:20 



With Love,
Tyler