To Families in the Wait…

I’m so happy to bring you some encouragement today from of the most lovely families.  If you’re waiting for your little one, don’t give up.  You never know what God has for you just right around the corner!
Ison
To Families in the Wait,
We waited 6 long years for our daughter to join our family. We have experienced the heartache of miscarriage and the disappointment of failed fertility treatments. On Labor Day weekend in 2018, we had a spiritual encounter with God and knew that his plan was for us to grow our family through adoption. We jumped head first into the process and began presenting to expectant parents in January 2019. We were presented over 30 times. Honestly, after hearing “She chose another family.” so many times, we eventually stopped counting. With each “no” we received, we leaned further into our faith. We knew that God led us down this path for a specific purpose and we owed it to him to stay faithful even in the hardest moments. We prayed over every situation and ultimately said “Yes” to presenting to ones that we never thought we would. We didn’t want to say “No” out of fear, but instead wanted to welcome whatever situation God had planned for our family. On October 4, 2019, we finally received the phone call that we had prayed for so many times. “She chose you!” Hearing those words instantly brought me to my knees and tears of joy flowed from my eyes! Just two weeks later, we traveled thousands of miles away from home to welcome our daughter into the world and into our family! Throughout our entire journey to becoming parents, God has always been faithful. There were many moments when we questioned whether we were on the right path, and in those moments we turned our eyes to God and He reassured us. Wherever your journey leads you, know that God is faithful and His plans for your life are far greater than what you could ever possibly plan for yourself. Don’t ever give up!

God’s Promises

Zemma

I’m so thrilled to share this beautiful family’s story on the blog today.  It’s so full of hope and the glory of God.  I hope you are encouraged and your faith is renewed as you read.  Enjoy precious Zemma’s adoption story:

We serve an awesome God who is faithful and always keeps his promises. A God who has a plan for each of us and will direct us down that path if we just listen. A God whose timing is always perfect. Nearly a year ago, God spoke a promise directly to my heart, and He faithfully kept that promise. My husband, Travis, and I had decided we were ready to have another baby. Our plan was to have a baby when our son, Kaleb, was about 3. A couple of months prior to Kaleb’s third birthday, Travis had an accident while lifting weights that left him paralyzed from the hips down. We had to figure out what our “new normal” looked like after his accident and it took two years to really get back to the point where we felt like we were ready to grow our family. We started infertility treatments in April 2018. We were hopeful, but I had a feeling this was not the way we were going to have our baby. We had two unsuccessful rounds of IUI and got the news in August that more biological kids weren’t in our future. If we had received that news a few months earlier, I would have been absolutely devastated and frankly, really angry. But God had already prepared my heart to receive that news. In July, I was reading an infertility devotion. Travis and Kaleb were asleep and the house was quiet. During my quiet time with God, I heard the word “adoption” and it shook me to the core. I had heard the voice of God, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that adoption was in our future. From that instant, the path to our baby completely changed course.

I don’t know much but I do know when God speaks, I need to listen. So I prayed and researched. And researched. And prayed. I made spreadsheets of questions for potential agencies. I made an Adoption Pinterest board. I called and spoke to agencies. Nothing felt “right.” Then a google search, by no coincidence, took me to Christian Adoption Consultants’ website. I read their mission statement, and it lined up completely with what I was looking for. I was reading about the consultants and found one from Kentucky, my home state. I emailed Karalee the same email that I felt like I had typed out 50 times. She got right back with me. It didn’t take long to know I had found the person who was going to help us bring our baby home. We signed our contract with CAC on October 12, 2018 and started the home study and fundraising process! Karalee helped us find a home study agency, and we signed up that week. It took only a couple of days to get the application finished and back to them. Travis had the wonderful idea to make and sell wooden nativity blocks. The support from the community and our friends was overwhelming. We sold so many more than I ever imagined. On January 25, our home study was finalized, and we were officially a waiting family! I was going out of town to a Christian women’s conference that day where I had very limited cell service, so Karalee had Travis’s number in case she needed to get in touch with us. She sent us a case that very afternoon about an expectant mom who was due May 17 with a baby girl!  It was the second time she had been sent profiles and had been looking for a match for over a month already. We decided to present. Travis literally picked our profile book up directly from the printer and overnighted it to the agency. The expectant mother, Ashley, looked at our profile and decided she wanted to talk to us the next week. Travis came home early from work that day and we sat in his car in the parking lot of my office and spoke to Ashley. The conversation flowed easily and we were able to find common ground quickly. We waited all weekend (Travis much more patiently than me) and found out we were matched on Tuesday, February 12. It was a whirlwind to say the least. I feel compelled to add that I don’t think we are more blessed or better parents than anyone else who is waiting to be matched. God’s timing is awesome, mysterious, and unpredictable and it was God’s timing for it to work out that quickly. We continued to speak with Ashley when she could call us.  It was hard not hearing from her, especially if we were expecting her to call. I would start thinking that she had changed her mind but then remembered to keep the faith and that God had guided our path to this point and we just had to keep listening to Him.

We had the opportunity to meet with Ashley, her 13 month old daughter, and her mother about a month before the baby was due. We spent a couple of days getting to know each other and bonding. She was so open and honest. She even let me feel the baby kicking! Ashley is truly an incredible person. Her daughter fell asleep in my arms within an hour of us meeting and Ashley said she rarely let unfamiliar people hold her. It was a very special moment that I will always remember. We got to discuss her birth plan and what our open adoption would look like. Ashley and I had so much more in common than we ever realized. We also realized how much our stories lined up. We signed with CAC around the same time she found out she was expecting. She decided to make an adoption plan the exact day we started fundraising. There were so many places where our paths could have diverged and never crossed. But God led us to each other. God’s plans are perfect. I thank Him every day for bringing us together.

Travis and I spent the next month preparing for baby. We continued to speak with Ashley on the phone.  We found out during the last week of April that she was probably going to be induced May 3. We both cleared our work schedules starting May 1. We were going to drive down on May 1, clean the house we rented on Thursday, and be ready for whenever the induction was scheduled. We thought we might even have time to relax on the beach for a day or two. But again, God’s plans are better!  I was still at work on April 30 and got a text saying “Kaley, they are inducing me tonight!” After a moment of feeling completely overwhelmed, we kicked into high gear. We were home from work, packed, and on the road to Florida in record time! We drove all night and made it to the hospital about 3 hours before Ashley’s labor started. We had a little time to rest in the room the hospital so graciously provided for us, but I couldn’t sleep! Zemma was born in the early afternoon of May 1. Ashley let me be in the room for the birth and to cut the umbilical cord! I was completely overcome with emotion from the first second I saw Zemma. I knew that she was created to be my daughter. Ashley was so gracious and generous about sharing Zemma with us. She was open and reassuring, but I was honestly a nervous wreck. In hindsight, I am so glad that Ashley got that time to be with Zemma. She was discharged before us, so after a tearful and emotional goodbye, we were moved to the pediatric floor. It was on a higher floor than the post partum unit we had been staying on and the new room had a view of the city. Before we could even unload our bags from the cart, Travis called me over to the window. Right outside the hospital was a full and beautiful rainbow. Tears streamed down my face as I realized we finally officially had our baby girl and God was right there reminding us of his awesome power and faithfulness. God keeps His promises. And His plans are so much better than ours could ever be.

Chatham

The Goal…

Just read this in a devotional and had to share!

Note to self:
The Father doesn’t give life directions in one big bundle because the goal is knowing Him, not the plan.

Louie Giglio

This just speaks to me, Mamas!  Easily, the lack of control and inability to plan was painfully hard for me when it came to adoption.  It was so tough not to know the answers to SO many questions – how long will we wait, where and when will the baby be born, will the expectant family want ongoing contact, how should we best prepare…and on and on and on.  Remembering that our goal in this life isn’t knowing or figuring out the plan, but knowing our God the best way we can – that’s freeing!

Hope it brings you some peace and comfort wherever you are in the adoption process! 🙂

“For I know the plans I have for you, ” declares the Lord…

Izabel

I have the most beautiful story to share with you today.  I’ve been blessed and privileged  to walk with this family through adoption twice – their precious R more than two years ago and now beautiful baby I. Theirs is a story of God’s promises and the way He orchestrates incredible journeys in our lives, even when we can’t see it.  It’s an incredible reminder that His timing, not ours, is always best. In the words of the precious mama who so generously shared her adoption story for the blog today, “God is so incredibly good and He will make a way, just lean onto His promises.” Here is her story:

“It Takes a Village” and God provides it.

Jeremiah 29:11

It’s incredible to look back on our adoptions and see how divinely orchestrated they have been.  Connections that led to our girls’ adoptions were made on a baseball field in the 1970’s.  My father-in-law and his last roommate, Jerry, attended a 40 year reunion at Disney.  Through small talk, Jerry learned that we were in ‘the wait’ in the adoption process and Jerry just so happened to run an agency! “Have them fill out our application” was the message he sent our way.  Home study approved, we began the daunting process of completing application packets and asking Karalee (our incredibly sweet and generous CAC consultant) every imaginable question.

After giving and getting a few no’s, my husband got a call from Jerry about a baby girl who had been born that very day.  She had the sweetest face I could imagine!  Baby R made me a mom for the first time.  Fast forward two years, when we found ourselves at a crossroads between uprooting our lives to move west or pursuing another adoption.  After seeking counsel from Karalee and praying, we felt God was calling us to adoption again.  We did not feel the pressure to be placed right away; we were completely content in God’s timing.

Right before our home study was finalized, we were matched with a baby boy due right smack in the middle of the holidays, and we were elated.  We started to develop a bond with both expectant parents and spent hours discussing his name and planning for family visits.  I purchased a gift, a scroll necklace with the name they chose for him imprinted on it and a keepsake box for our updates.  Then, while visiting with my closest friend, my phone rang, and I was told his family decided to parent him.  My heart sank, my mind was flooded with thoughts of having to explain our failed match, and I wondered what to do with the necklace and keepsake box while mourning the loss of this baby I already loved but never knew.

Trusting God’s plan and leaning on his strength, I sent the necklace along with a card expressing our love and support to this sweet baby boy’s parents, completely understanding NONE of this journey is about me.  I called and texted Karalee for support and encouragement for the month following our failed match.  Because we still thought about him and love his parents, on Baby Boy’s due date, I reached out to the agency and asked if he was born; he was.  However, in the same breath the agency worker asked for clarification on our home-study and said, “I am with an expectant mom now and she is due in two days!”  We immediately sprang into action!  The next day, though, we heard that her due date was adjusted to five weeks out and my heart fell. I was instantly thrown into feelings of uncertainty and anxiousness.  Deciding to put those thoughts out of my mind and rest in God’s promises, we went day by day preparing and praying for Baby Girl.

We have built a precious relationship in our adoption with our first daughter’s birth mom, had started and cherished that bond with the expectant mom of the baby boy we had matched with, but we learned having contact and creating a bond was NOT an option with this expectant mom and that devastated me.  I wondered how she would ever know how much we love and admire her, how she’d ever know how this incredibly difficult decision will bless our lives and who her precious miracle girl will grow up to be.   We felt it was important to respect her wishes and we trust that God gave us this babe for a reason, but it is still incredibly difficult.

When we got the call that our expectant mom would be induced, we flew across the country to be there.  We sat for 12 hours in a borrowed car, walked around shops and tried to keep busy while anxiously awaiting a call that would let us know her baby girl was born.  As we walked into the mall down the hill from the hospital, we saw the most beautiful double rainbow and felt yet another reassurance of God’s promises.  Finally, at 6:00 pm, we got the call, our daughter was here.

rainbow

God knew the children he had destined for us.  The origins of our family started with relationships formed in the 1970’s. He knew, back then, what our family would be and simply needed us to open the door for Him to move.  God is so incredibly good, and He will make a way, just lean into His promises.  The adoption journey is not without feelings of loss and sadness and it can look different than you think it will, but adoption is a uniquely perfect display of Christ’s love for us and how He adopted us into His family. And His ways and His timing are always better than what we could imagine for ourselves.

remiizabel.jpeg

Special thanks to Katie Boser Photography for the gorgeous photo of sweet baby I.

November is National Adoption Month!

One of my very favorite things to celebrate!  My family was built on adoption, and I’ve had the privilege of working to help bring families together for more than 10 years now.  The privilege and blessing of that isn’t lost on me, and I thank God every single day for it.

I remember reading that if just 6% of the world’s Christians would adopt, we would have no more adoptable children in the world.  That is staggering to me.  I think so many people are overwhelmed by adoption – how can we afford it, where do we start?  And sometimes that fear keeps us from listening to God’s voice telling us to move.  Reminding us of His command in James 1:27: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.”

Adoption is hard, yes.  It’s emotional and difficult and expensive and not perfect.  There is grief and there is turmoil.  It stems from loss. But there is the lesson of ultimate redemption. There is love beyond imagination.  It’s a beautiful, miraculous thing.

Part of what we do at Christian Adoption Consultants is help walk families through the more difficult and overwhelming parts.  We help families fund raise, find grants/loans, we work with highly ethical agencies who use best practices.  Part of my job is help make the process easier!  I’d love to talk to you about adoption in general and about what we do at CAC!  Email me at karalee@christianadoptionconsultants.com

The Home Study Process

So many families I work with are SO nervous about the home study process – what to expect, how many forms to fill out (a lot!!), what will the social worker be looking for, are they judging us, can we fail?  It’s a very, very important piece of the adoption process, and while it’s important to be prepared and to take the process seriously, it’s definitely nothing to fear!

I conduct home studies in my home state, and I absolutely love doing it. I love helping families through this part of the process, and there’s nothing better than visiting a family for a post-placement visit and meeting the child they prayed, longed, and waited for. Baby snuggles never, ever get old!

But, I remember the anxiety and nerves that I felt when we first started the adoption process for our first child. I remember our own social worker coming to walk through our house for the first time, and she said, “Don’t worry – I’m not going to walk around with a white glove and touch all the furniture.  I’m just making sure bodies don’t fall out of the closets when I open them.”  We laughed, took a deep breath, and were able to relax.  The home study process is so important.  It’s the social worker’s job to be sure that your home is suitable for a child and that you are prepared to parent and ready to adopt.

I remember, as well, with our first adoption saying things like, “Most parents don’t have to answer these personal questions – they just get pregnant,” or “everyone should have to go through these steps before becoming parents!”  Now that I perform home studies and now that I’m a mom, I completely get it.  The social worker’s job is to protect the child who may be placed with you.  He or she needs to be sure your home is safe because he or she is the representative of your future child.  When I was able to take the focus off of myself and my nerves and remember that it was all about the child and not about me, everything clicked.

Yes, you will be asked personal questions.  You’ll turn over bank statements and tax records and you’ll have to have in-depth conversations about your infertility struggles or your parenting philosophies, your marriage and if you’ve struggled in your marriage, how you plan to discipline and what your childhood was like.  But you will learn SO much about yourself and about your spouse.  You will go into parenthood prepared (as much as possible!) to parent a child who may look different from you. You’ll become more educated about trans-racial adoption, you’ll learn about different drug exposures, you’ll be challenged to stretch and grow, and you”ll receive so much support each step of the way.

I always ask during my home studies, “Do you believe the home study process is necessary?  Why or why not?”  I had a family last week respond, “YES!  We’ve learned so much about parenting that we never would have considered.  We didn’t think about needing different soaps and lotions for a child of a different race.  We didn’t think about creating a lifebook to document his/her journey.  We hadn’t considered buying children’s books about adoption and how we would talk about the adoption in our child’s life.”  The home study is for the child, absolutely, but it’s also for you!

I promise that you’ll get so much out of talking through the adoption process, but more importantly from talking through the way you’ll handle situations like having people say, “How much did your daughter cost?” or “What’s her real mom like?” You can never be too prepared and the home study will help you be ready for things like this.  It will help you understand “positive adoption language” and why we say “made an adoption plan” and not “gave up for adoption.”  It will help you be ready not only with a verbal response to invasive questions but it will help you learn that your child is watching your reaction, so your non-verbal responses are just as, if not more, important than your words. I truly believe I’m a better, more equipped parent because of the home study process.

Part of the services we offer at Christian Adoption Consultants is help with finding a good, reputable home study agency.  It’s such an important part of the journey, and it’s so important that you find a good agency and social worker to perform the study.  We work with home study agencies in every single state, and we can help you find a low-cost, efficient agency to perform your home study and help you through this part of the journey.

Yes, I felt SO nervous before I met our social worker for the first time.  But, she taught me so much about myself and about adoption, and eleven years and three adoptions later, we’re still in touch.   The home study is your first active step towards your child!  Embrace it!  Get excited about preparing for your little one, making your home ready for a baby – consider it part of the “nesting” phase for adoptive parents.  And remember, ask as many questions as you need to and never hesitate to reach out to us at CAC for more support!

Why Use an Adoption Consultant?

IMG_6366Most often, when people decide to adopt, they assume the only way to do it is to sign with a local agency and sit on a waiting list. I know because that is what I assumed. We contacted a local adoption agency and were told the waiting list for a baby was 3 years. After battling infertility, I couldn’t imagine waiting another three years to be a mom. So, I started doing some research and found Christian Adoption Consultants. Here are a few of the facts that convinced me using a consultant was the way to go:

1. I was confused and overwhelmed! 🙂 There is so much information and so many different agencies out there and every single state has different laws. How do you know which to choose? CAC has strong relationships with reputable, ethical agencies. We work only with licensed, trustworthy agencies with whom we have developed personal relationships. For me, it was a great comfort and relief to be able to put our adoption in the hands of experts who were working as advocates for my husband and me.

2. You will not sit on a waiting list for years. Being submitted to multiple agencies lets you be shown to various situations at a time. I know in our situation, we completed our home study at the end of September and our daughter was born April 2. That is less than six months from start to finish! Our second and third adoptions were even faster!

3. CAC consultants are knowledgeable about state laws and avoid situations that may not be in the best interest of all parties involved.  We also walk families through every bit of each situation that comes our way.  Families are able to read through lots of details about a specific case, talk with their consultant about the case, pray over each one, and make a decision that is best for them. This sort of protection and guidance was a major plus for me. The agencies we worth with prioritize expectant mom counseling and work to be sure an adoption plan is the best choice for her, as well.  It’s so important to us that expectant parents are treated with dignity, respect, and with the love and compassion they deserve.
4. CAC offers a great deal of guidance and advice financially. Adopting is expensive, I know.  When we adopted our first baby, my husband and I were both teachers.  Adoption cost more than I made in a single year, and that was incredibly overwhelming at the time.  Beyond just agency costs, there are legal fees, home study costs, travel expenses, etc. Part of our consulting benefits include providing our couples with knowledge of a variety of resources such as grants, low interest loans, creative financing advice, and more. In addition to the knowledge provided, we will do everything we can to help you make wise financial decisions.

Adopting can be overwhelming; believe me, I know! But, as a consultant, my job is to walk you through every part of the process, to pray alongside you, and to help make the process as simple as possible. For more information and some insight from adoptive mamas in their  own words, visit a previous post called, “Heart Wisdom from Mamas.” You can also visit, “Why Take This Path,” for a beautiful blog written directly from a CAC family regarding why they chose a consultant. You can also contact me directly anytime at karalee@christianadoptionconsultants.com.