Category Archives: Open Adoption

So….You’re Adopting!

 

stacey familySo…you’ve decided to adopt!  Congratulations!  Will you do me a favor?  Can we pretend we’re sitting across from each other in a coffee shop, hands wrapped around warm drinks, chatting for just a bit?  There are a few things I would like to share.  Let’s also pretend that you actually asked for my opinion.  Mkay? Thanks. 🙂

I am not an expert on all things adoption, and I am coming from the experience of domestic newborn adoption.  My opinion on some things now is quite different from what it was over two years ago.  It’s not a bad thing – but I’ve read and listened and learned and there are a bunch of thoughts rattling around in my brain now that I would love to share with you, if you’d like to listen.

So…over my soy chai latte, I would tell you these things:

Adoption is really complicated.  Each situation is so incredibly different so there is much room for variance, but I would tell you that adoption is very beautiful and selfless and, in some cases, a marvelous picture of the gospel.  But adoption is not only about you, the adoptive parent. You cannot have adoption without a biological family suffering profound loss.  Adoption is bittersweet, because on the day that your family is celebrating its greatest joy, another family will be deeply mourning.

She is not a birth mother yet.  Your words matter.  A woman is not a “birth mother” until the baby has been born and her parental rights have been irrevocably terminated.  Up until that point she is an expectant mother who has made an adoption plan for her baby.  A plan which she may or may not choose to continue with at any point.  She has (and should have) every right to do so.  This might seem like mincing words, and your agency will likely still use the term birth mother.  Ultimately I think the specific term we use is much less important than the intention behind it.  Which brings me to…

Be careful to guard your heart from a sense of entitlement.  Whew.  This one would be said across the table with as much kindness and grace as possible.  I see so much gray area here. an adoption “match” is not a guarantee of a placement.  It is a precarious dance between excitedly expecting and graciously waiting.  A friend and I were discussing via text message recently that the tough job of the adoptive parent during a match is to love and support the expectant parent(s) no matter what, being careful about laying “claim” to the child too soon.  They are not giving you a baby. They do not owe you a baby.  They are giving their baby you.  This is hard hard hard hard hard! I would sit in on doctor’s appointments with our daughter’s (now) birth mom, thrilled and excited to be there hearing the heartbeat and viewing the ultrasound and loving and supporting… excited, hopeful, but with the quiet understanding that this was not my baby yet.

Adoption is (emotionally and financially) costly, but it is so worth it.  Also, it doesn’t have to be THAT costly.  There are domestic newborn adoption agencies or attorneys that charge fees (that do not include medical or legal expenses) in the neighborhood of $30-40k.  Can’t afford it?  Yeah, neither can we.  Don’t use them.  It does not cost that much to provide good care and coordinate an adoption.  They charge that much because people are willing to pay that much.  So don’t.

And by then we would probably be finished with our drinks, and hopefully you wouldn’t be mad at me.  Hopefully?  I would tell you that adoption has blessed my life and that I am excited to cheer you on through this wild and crazy journey, and that I will bring you diapers and a casserole when your little one finally comes home.  It is all worth it, and it is important that it be done right, that it be done ethically.  Since we all just love discussing ethics, don’t we?  Um no.  Not really.  But it needs to be discussed, now doesn’t it?

Thanks for listening. 🙂

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stacey coupleStacey lives in Kansas City, MO with my husband Tim and their two kids, born in 2012 and 2015. Both were adopted locally at birth and now Stacey has a huge heart for open adoption!  She works part time as a bookkeeper for a local nonprofit, but the rest of the time, Stacey loves being outside with her kids and drinking lots of good coffee.

Stories {Updated}

Two years ago, I wrote this post about talking with our boys about their adoption stories.  I thought I would give a little update…

I have told both of our boys thier adoption stories since they were newborns in my arms.  It’s not easy to put into words the miraculous and complicated way God brought them into our lives, but I’ve always felt like it was good practice for me even if they have no clue what I’m saying.  The way they became part of our family is precious and I don’t ever want to forget those stories that made me a mama.

Right now, it’s pretty much a one-sided conversation.  My oldest is starting to make some straight-forward connections like…

“L is my birthmommy.”

“I grew in her tummy”

“She picked you and daddy to be my parents.”

UPDATE:  My oldest now will ask questions out of the blue like, “Is J (his birthmom’s son) my real brother?”  Questions like this usually throw me for a loop and I shoot up a prayer asking God to give me the right words that will honor our family and his first family.  Then sometimes, I shoot up a prayer asking for grace when I have no clue what to say.  

Then there are moments when I can see it in his eyes.  His little brain is just spinning trying to figure out his story.

UPDATE: I still see his brain spinning and sometimes when we’re talking about his story, he changes the subject and that is O.K.

That’s when a little bit of fear sets in.  I realize that there will probably come a day when there will be hard questions to answer and upset or confused emotions that come out of my boys.  In my humanness, I want to protect them.  I don’t ever want them to doubt our love for them or their birthfamilies love for them.

Then my loving, heavenly Father whispers to me and says, “Abby, don’t you remember how I used some really difficult situations in your life to draw you closer to me?  I want to do that for your boys too.”

There will be emotions that may be difficult to deal with. I won’t have all the answers for my boys, but I have the priviledge of pointing them to The One who is control of all things and has EVERYTHING they need.

UPDATE: Everytime we talk about the boys’ stories, (just to be clear, it’s not a daily or even weekly conversation.  Their adoption does not define who they are…it’s simply one part of who they are.) we get to talk about God.  I am learning that there is purpose in every circumstance God puts us in.  Instead of dwelling on the details, I can focus on Him and his purpose for each situation.  

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So, yes.  It will be hard.

UPDATE:  It sometimes is hard, but the good and the joy far outweigh the hard.  

There will be emotions that may be difficult to deal with.  I won’t have all the answers for my boys, but I have the priviledge of pointing them to The One who is control of all things and has EVERYTHING they need.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:19

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IMG_4672Abby and her college sweetheart husband Wes began the journey of domestic adoption in 2009. Blessed with a (more than they had planned but oh so thankful for it) open adoption experience, they were able to witness the birth of their first child Max in the summer of 2010. Little brother Sam joined their team in September of 2012. Wes and Abby are trusting God as he leads them in their relationship with their sons’ birth families. You can follow their story at Akers of Love.

Chance Observation from an Adoptive Dad

We live in a college town.  It’s not unlike other small-ish college towns where the continuous hustle and bustle generates a continual near-electric atmosphere – especially downtown.

 I don’t usually, but a few weeks ago I had the occasion to drive down Main Street on the way home from work.  Sometimes I loathe driving this route, but this particular evening I was “feeling it” and thought I might enjoy the change in scenery.

 Oh the scenery.  As you might guess,  there are LOTS of people doing LOTS of things in every direction.  People of every shape, size and age abound.  Trying to imagine what they are doing can be fun.  Maybe call it “people watching” – that’s a non-creepy way to say “observing”.  Some are clearly on a mission – they are running, going to the library or headed to and from class.  There are couples holding hands, others that look like they are considering holding hands and yet other twosomes that appear to be on a first date.  A few older retired couples are headed to a restaurant the students cant afford (this is beginning to sound like a Billy Joel song).  There are the freshman – very easily spotted – traveling in wolf packs and wearing the latest trendy fashions (Ladies – I’ve observed 2013 as the tall leather brown boots, black workout pants and North Face jacket kind of year – in case you felt left out).  If you are wearing the exact same thing as your friends it is ok…up to maybe twelve of you?  There are the seniors that are clearly very practical and goal focused – drinking cheap coffee, maybe having a slice of pizza and not having changed from their pajamas in a few days.  Get the picture?

 So on I drive.  It’s a slow ride as I stop for the small scale parades across all the “mandatory stop” pedestrian crossings in town.  Closer to the west side of town the speed picks up, the streetlight intervals increase and people are clearly having less fun.  I stop at the next spotlight and notice another pack of freshman walking at a clip – their dorms obviously being a further walk from downtown.  They completely ignore the very expectant girl they walk around on the narrower sidewalk – and so nearly did I.

 

She wasn’t with friends.  She probably wasn’t headed on a date or out to happy hour (I hope).  I don’t know anything about her – except that at that moment I’m sure college wasn’t what she had planned.

 The tone of my drive suddenly changed.  What was her deal?  How did she end up in this situation?  Surely I don’t want to judge her past actions – but you can imagine that possible scenarios crossed my mind.  Whatever her journey had been thus far – at least she was still in school – doing what she had probably set out to do initially – her strong resolve carrying her through.  But at what expense?  Further thought answered my question.  Her’s.  Her expense.  I arrived home a bit late for dinner after another ten minutes in the car.

Later in the evening I flashed back to that moment.  When I did, I didn’t see a stranger girl with no face.  I suddenly saw Ash’s, my son’s birth mother.

Now I have perspective on it.  I’m sure there were many times during and after B’s pregnancy when that girl was Ash.  Not the fun girl to be with.  Her condition alone probably signaling “wet blanket”.  Learning that some friends weren’t true friends and learning the real identity of those around her.  And yet, she was focused, resolved to her situation.  She ultimately persevered, though undoubtedly it wasn’t easy – all at her expense.

With the holidays approaching I thought back to a similar situation long ago. Don’t think I’m stretching – there are many similarities.  Mary, mother of Jesus, probably shares a lot in common with these women.  My son is certainly not The Christ….but Mary had a pregnancy not asked for – certainly not by any anticipated circumstance.  She was unmarried – probably bringing another 2000 years of legalistic judgement upon her.  Despite our crazy liberal society today it is apparently still generally taboo to be young, pregnant and unmarried.  (I’ll never understand the logic of a society that is “ok” with abortion, but only if you feel like it).  I can’t imagine Mary had many true friends.  Her family relationships were undoubtedly strained.  She probably wasn’t invited to the latest 31 party in town.  She was surely publicly shamed – being seen with her would be unacceptable.  And yet, she was righteous. She was doing the right thing – even though her society thought she should stand alone.  Without Mary and her Baby, where would you be?

While I have said “thank you” to Ash several times for many different reasons – I’m not sure I can say it in a big way that would cause me to not need to say it anymore.  This recent experience helps me understand a bit more about what she has done – not just for us.  She was “that girl” and can never get back what she selflessly gave up for someone else.  A lot of someone elses…me included.  Thank you, Ash.

Before Jesus healed a blind man, Jesus’ disciples asked “who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?”  Jesus answered them saying “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him”.  (John Chapter 9, verses 2-3)

Many of us have heard John 3:16– but do we stop there? John 3:17 says “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

The supporting point of these two verses notes that God himself finds little relevance in how we got to be to where we are today.  His Son Jesus is not here to judge us or condemn us for our current state.  He is here to take us out of that state.  To make beauty from our ashes.

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Amber Houser

Amber is the blogger behind Bumber’s Bumblings.  She is madly in love with God, her husband (Nate), her two beautiful children, and extended family; she enjoys making new friends, running, cooking, chocolate, green smoothies, sleep, instagram, peanut butter, and pizza.  After months of trying to conceive turned into years, Amber shared in the isolation and devastation that so many women suffering from infertility experience—until she and Nate were led to open adoption and a magical, miraculous son.  Amber is the founder of the Delaware Area Moms Through Adoption Group, has shared her adoption story in a documentary film, Unborn by Christian artist, Caitlin Jane, and has had the opportunity to speak at retreats, women’s banquets, and small groups about her path to open adoption.

 

 

The One Time They Told Us to “Tone Down” Our Open Adoption

I am not a big fan of discussing agencies online, due to many different views and opinions and I will not reference this particular agency by name.  There was this one time with the agency that we signed on with for our son’s adoption when they asked us to come back and speak to a group of prospective adoptive parents.  They asked us to come along with Ash, B’s birth mom, and speak as a triad.  We were all so excited to share about our open adoption in this forum.
B had just turned a year old, so of course we were experts on the matter of open adoption at that point, ha!  After the meeting that day, we were planning on sending B with Ash’s parents for his first overnight visit with them, as we had a small group couples trip that weekend.  Ash’s social worker, who was now the director and an adoptive parent herself, met with us before the meeting and asked us to please tone down how open our adoption was and to please not tell everyone that B was going to be having an overnight visit that evening.  She didn’t want us to scare these prospective adoptive couples.
It was a bit awkward to say the least because we were worried that we were sharing too much information or not enough and it just felt weird to not be able to truthfully share about our relationship.  I am of the belief that frequency of visits do not equal open adoption. Visits come about as a natural result of openness in our adoption, but are NOT for everyone in the adoption triad.  Even the things we were allowed to shared that day still surprised and shocked people. You could see the looks on their faces that they weren’t ready for this yet.  We had a lot of intense questions from people after the meeting that day.  People pulled us aside and asked questions like, “do you feel guilt? Is that why you have such an open relationship?  Do you feel like you can’t say no to them?  Is it ever too much? Do you really want to see her this much?”  They obviously hadn’t really read the open adoption books that were assigned to them yet!
We were never asked to come back to speak, which was perfectly fine with us.
We know our relationship is intriguing and we are a walking freak show for so many people.  The shock factor is kinda fun for all of us, at times.
A few weekends ago we did the unthinkable {sarcasmand went away for the weekend with Ash’s family, to a family cabin up in the mountains!
We had a wonderful time together our wish was that we had longer together. For some reason, this time away seemed monumental to me.  It was like we had broken through the ceiling of open adoption.  We had made our own rules about our adoption and defied the odds. Four plus years later we are still doing this open adoption thing and it is still working!
I know open adoption is not ideal for every situation.  I understand that more than you know.  But it’s B’s family and our family and it makes me happy that we are making these memories for us and him.  We are so thankful that we have trusted God to build our family.  It’s so comforting to see his redemption through adoption.  Another amazing thing to see is the way Ash’s family have embraced our daughter, Lah Lah, into their family.  Lah-Lah was brought to our family through a separate, not as open adoption.
I have a few fun pictures to share with you from the weekend that should put a smile on your face.
B and me on the 4-wheeler with Pop-pop, B’s Grandpa!
B’s mom-mom and Ash (birth mom) playing uno with the family
B and Ash (his birth mom) together!  Beautiful picture of beauty from ashes!
Fishing with daddy and Aunt Morgs
We realized on Monday morning that B’s favorite stuffed animal, Pandy-Candy, had been accidentally left behind with Ash.  Being the awesome birth mom that she is, she documented her whole day with Pandy and sent us picture updates all day.  We ended the day with a dramatic return of Pandy!  Thanks, Ash, for saving all of our evening!!
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Amber Houser

Amber is the blogger behind Bumber’s Bumblings.  She is madly in love with God, her husband (Nate), her two beautiful children, and extended family; she enjoys making new friends, running, cooking, chocolate, green smoothies, sleep, instagram, peanut butter, and pizza.  After months of trying to conceive turned into years, Amber shared in the isolation and devastation that so many women suffering from infertility experience—until she and Nate were led to open adoption and a magical, miraculous son.  Amber is the founder of the Delaware Area Moms Through Adoption Group, has shared her adoption story in a documentary film, Unborn by Christian artist, Caitlin Jane, and has had the opportunity to speak at retreats, women’s banquets, and small groups about her path to open adoption.