Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Choosing Adoption: Part 2: International Adoption

 Last week I started a 3 part series calling Choosing Adoption here on our blog. We are asked all the time how we decided adoption was right for our family/how we knew God was calling us to adopt. We are open about our story & love sharing what God has done in our family over the past 2 years. 

Since the answer to the question "How did you know God was calling you to adopt?" is complex & different for every family impacted by adoption, I've put together various perspectives & testimonies for those of you considering adoption. I asked some woman I greatly admire to share bits of their stories with you in a 3 part series called Choosing Adoption. 

Click here to catch up on the first post & also hear a little bit about our decision to adopt. 
You can read Choosing Adoption Part 2: International Adoption below. These stories are all so powerful & putting together this post had me in tears. I'm amazed at how God works to bring families together through adoption! 

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Denise's story: 
I was surrounded by all these beautiful faces. But they were dirty, bedraggled and not all were healthy. The leader of the inner city children's outreach ministry pointed to one little boy who was desperate to climb on my lap. "This one... his mother is a prostitute and a drug addict. He rarely sees her and often has to try and fend for himself." The little boy was adorable. All he wanted was to be held, hugged and have someone's attention. I was only 19 at that time, but everything in me wanted to take him with me and show him what a healthy family situation looked like. Not long after I was in Bogota, Columbia. Holding a baby who had been rescued from a trash pile as a newborn. His one hand mangled because he had tried to eat it. I wept over him and again this desire to just give a child in need a family overwhelmed me.
Soon afterwards I met my husband. We both worked with YWAM in many inner city ministries across the United States, as well as in South America. So many hurting children. So many desperate to be loved. We both agreed early in our relationship, that adoption was in our future if we were to be married. 5 years after our wedding, and 3 years of struggling with infertility, adoption became a reality for us again. Just as we were about to start the process, we were blessed to conceive our son. 6 years later we finally knew it was the right time for us to begin our adoption journey. I'm so thankful that God placed adoption on our hearts so long ago because it was never "Plan B" for us. It was always part of the plan - we just needed to know when. We now have three amazing kids. Our biological son, our 7 year old daughter born in the USA who came to us at birth (we are Canadian), and our second daughter came to us from Haiti at age 2.5 years. She just turned 6 years old. 
All of their stories are different, but all of them are a miracle in our eyes. They are a blessing to us beyond what we ever could have imagined. I have had to learn about other cultures, how to do their hair and care for their skin. I have had to become aware of racism and my privilege in this sometimes cruel world. We have had to learn about adoption language and trauma (even in utero) and how that affects their brains and how they learn. It's been a huge learning curve and being willing to parent differently than we did our biological son... but all of it so worth it when those eyes meet mine and I know they feel loved and cared for in this family. 
~Denise

Lena's story: 
I was raised knowing that there were children in this world in need of loving families. My parents fostered and I had the privilege of watching children my family cared for be adopted. Even at a young age I knew adoption would be a part of my life. I grew up in an adaptive household, my dad has ushers syndrome and is blind and deaf. Having a heart for people who are differently abled I was blessed to volunteer at a day program for adults with special needs. I developed amazing friendships with a few adults with down syndrome who left a lasting impression on my heart. Looking back God was laying the foundations of my adoption story. I started believing one day I would have a child with down syndrome, knowing I could not guarantee that biologically I started researching adoption. That is when I learned that in many countries children with special needs are placed in orphanages and mental institutions. God laid the needs of these children heavy on my heart. When Gods timing for me to adopt came he relentlessly pursued my heart. I started falling in love with profiles of waiting children with down syndrome from Eastern Europe but I had a million excuses as to why now was not the right time to adopt. After months of praying God audibly told me my excuses did not matter and now was the time to adopt. I knew adoption would be hard, expensive and the process seemed overwhelming but I knew God is never wrong. I did not have my whole life together, I was in a new career, single, young and had minimal savings. On paper adoption in my life right then did not make sense but in my heart it did; with full faith in God everything came together. Nineteen months after God telling me "Now" I became the mother of the most beautiful and perfect 16 month old girl with down syndrome from Bulgaria. She is the greatest blessing, I am thankful everyday I followed Gods calling and said yes. ~Lena 


Libby's story:
When my husband and I started praying specifically about how He wanted to grow our family, we stepped into scary territory. We began letting go of our plans and went on a search to find His heart. When we opened our heart for His way, every where we looked adoption came in announcing itself's loudly. My husband got hired as a youth pastor, the pastor and his wife had adopted three children, I went to a women's conference, the lead speaker was adopted and spoke about a Father's love that wrecked me in the best possible way. We went on a trip and when we when we got on the airplane, the mother beside us was with her daughter and told us after an hour conservation her adoption story. Adoption became a theme and we saw God moving in our life through the people we met and lived with every day. One of my favorite quotes I found through the adoption process was, "I always questioned if I was ready to adopt, Then I realized, No child was ready to be an orphan." When God puts adoption on your heart, you can't "shake" it and the whole universe moves mountains, waters, and miles just so you and your child can be together. It's magic, really. 
~Libby




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How beautiful are these stories?! I just love each of these precious families & their testimonies. One of the unexpected blessings of infertility & adoption has been the friendships I've developed as we'v journeyed through it. It's been amazing to walk & pray alongside other women who share the same passion about adoption that I do. Thanks for sharing a little bit of your hearts & stories, sweet friends!

If you are feeling drawn to adoption, I would encourage you to spend time in prayer, do some research & surrender your heart & plans to the Lord. Maybe your story includes adoption, maybe it doesn’t! I’m not here to answer that question for you either way, that’s for you to discern & the Lord to lead. If you are considering adoption, my hope is for this Choosing Adoption series would encourage you to hand your heart & story over to the Lord.

Stay tuned for Choosing Adoption Part 3: Foster Care Adoption! 

With love,
Tyler 

"A father to the fatherless, defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, He leads the prisoners out with singing…" ~Psalm 68: 5-6



Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Choosing Adoption: Part 1: Domestic Infant Adoption

We are asked all the time how we decided adoption was right for our family/how we knew God was calling us to adopt. We are open about our story & love sharing what God has done in our family over the past 2 years. 

Since the answer to the question "How did you know God was calling you to adopt?" is complex & different for every family impacted by adoption, I've put together various perspectives & testimonies for those of you considering adoption. I asked some woman I greatly admire to share bits of their stories with you in a 3 part series called Choosing Adoption. You can read Choosing Adoption Part 1: Domestic Infant Adoption below! 
Part 2: International Adoption & Part 3: Foster Care Adoption will be posted later this week. 

Our Story:
 If this is your first time visiting our blog, here's some background on how the Lord led us to adoption: 
2 years ago, Cary & I were going through some of the darkest days of our lives after receiving our infertility diagnosis, seeing a specialist & experiencing failed IUIs. The sadness & hopelessness I felt during that time was real & deep. On top of all the emotions I was feeling & grief we were walking through, I was also dealing with a lot of confusion & an unsettling feeling that fertility treatment was not the right step for us at that time. As I prayed through these feelings & explored the desires & questions in my heart, I was able to work through some of my hurt & anger with the Lord. As I spent time in prayer, expressing all my pain & confusion to Him, I was finally able to open my heart & ask God to guide us. It was the first time since receiving our infertility diagnosis that I was truly able to surrender my heart & plans to the Lord. That’s when God laid the option of adoption on my heart with intensity & clarity. I brought the option of adoption up to Cary & he also felt we should look into it (we had always been open to adoption, but pictured it later down the road for our family). We decided to stop fertility treatments & started praying about & researching adoption. The more we talked & prayed about adoption, the more certain we were that it was the Lord’s plan for our family. We officially made the decision to adopt in March of 2014. We were immediately filled with the peace & joy that had been lacking from our lives for a long time. Throughout the adoption process, God continued to confirm His calling on our family, ignited a passion in our hearts for adoption & gave us a deep love for the baby that He would be bringing into our family. 11 months after we started the process, our beautiful daughter, Isabel, was born & placed in our arms. I am forever grateful we opened our hearts to adoption & God’s plan rather than clinging to fear & continuing forward with fertility treatment when we knew in our hearts it wasn’t the right step for us. Throughout the adoption process, although we continued to have a God given confidence that we were called us to adopt, it was still a difficult & scary process at times. The Lord strengthened us, equipped us & provided for us every step of the way. Our daughter is the greatest gift ever & we cannot imagine life without her! We are excited to be adding to our family through adoption again & are stepping out in faith to trust God to lead us through the process.



 More posts about our journey with adoption: Our 1st Adoption Announcement3rd AnniversaryReflecting on the Journey & Adopting Again

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Caeli's Story:
My wonderful husband and I knew we wanted a family shortly after we were married and after some painful years of dealing with infertility, we were meeting with a new doctor and had a few options in front of us for how we could proceed in trying to get pregnant. We came home and discussed our options, but we didn't feel at peace in our hearts, at that time, about what was ahead.
Nick and I have always loved children, and had discussed a desire to grow our family through adoption at some point in our family planning. We always knew children wouldn't have to biologically come from us for us to love them and be our family. It was at that moment where we came to a point of desiring to have a child but not knowing which direction or path to take, that God put adoption on our hearts. And he put it in our hearts with a sense of urgency, to the point that my husband and I actually started praying for our child because we felt like God was telling us that he or she was already on the way. We went to work getting our home study completed and began working with an adoption consultant. And four short months later, we brought our baby girl home. It was like God just needed us to put our "yes!" out there and He took care of the rest. God planted this desire to adopt in our hearts and we couldn't ignore it. Life is beautiful when our passions become our calling! Adoption is hard, but it is worth it, and if we let Him, it is often in our hardships and brokenness that God will use us. Adoption can be overwhelming, but I love this quote by author Gary Smalley, "God specializes in impossible situations." He takes our fears of the future and promises to walk with us. I am so thankful for His plan for adoption for our family! ~Caeli



Crishana's Story:
Adoption is a journey of surrender. We surrender our will, way, thoughts and timing and take on His; He breaks us and makes us more like HIM so that His glory can be seen in our story.
Some come to adoption to expand their family, others to make a difference in the world, nevertheless, I come to adoption out of a heart of obedience to God. Adoption is my calling; at the age of 5, I felt God speak this to me and it has led me every day until this time. 
I always tell people that adoption never sleeps.  I literally eat, breathe and sleep it 24 hours a day. God has graced me to be able to minister to and encourage those who are going through the process, to guide and pray for our daughter's birth mom as she proceeds in her life's endeavors, and to muster up the strength to walk a second adoption journey of our own.
Adoption is not easy and it is not cheap. Neither was our redemption, for it was bought with a price- the blood of Jesus. Sometimes this journey, full of uncertainty and loss, surely feels like a cat of nine tails striking against your heart. But in our brokenness, there is beauty. We are beautifully broken before a perfect God who seeks to mend all of our broken pieces. We all come to adoption broken- adoptive families, birth families, and the adoptees. We all need the grace of God as we pursue this avenue of change.  Growing together through the journey of adoption is a beautiful exchange.  Adoption is the heart of God. ~Crishana
Crishana & her husband are adopting again. Check out their GoFundMe Page to support their growing family!


 Kailey's story:

Looking back and thinking about the decision to adopt ​

​reminds me the best plan is normally not 

our plan. And I am so thankful that my plan did not play out, but Plan A did. Plan A included many things that led us to adoption, but a couple of events really remind me of how the Lord works things out for good. 


The Lord laid adoption on my heart 10 years before Evie was born and that was were the seed of adoption was born for me. Fast forward years later ​to ​my husband ​not being ​sure that adoption was right for us, but ​then ​
the Lord literally did a 180 on his heart. In June 2013,​
 he told me he wasn't sure about adoption and in August 2013, he was ready to start the process. Then​,​
 over the course of about five months, the Lord blessed us through amazing friends family with enough funds to ​cover the costs of our adoption. Finally in December of 2014, we were miraculously matched with our birthmother via Facebook... yes, you read that correct. Facebook! All of these events lead us and confirmed that the Lord was blessing this journey of adoption towards our baby girl. And for that, I am forever grateful because I can not imagine my life without my Evie Rose. She's the greatest gift we've ever been given. Ever. ~Kailey


*If you would like to read more about Kailey's journey to Evie Rose, please check out her blog: kbirkeland.com ​


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I just love each of these precious families & their testimonies. One of the unexpected blessings of infertility & adoption has been the friendships I've developed through social media. It's been amazing to walk & pray alongside other women who share the same passion about adoption that I do. Thanks for sharing a little bit of your hearts & stories, friends!

If you are feeling drawn to adoption, I would encourage you to spend time in prayer, do some research & surrender your heart & plans to the Lord. Maybe your story includes adoption, maybe it doesn’t! I’m not here to answer that question for you either way, that’s for you to discern & the Lord to lead. If you are considering adoption, my hope is for this series on Choosing Adoption would encourage you to hand your heart & story over to the Lord.

Stay tuned for Choosing Adoption: Part 2 & Part 3! 
With love,
Tyler 

"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