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Adopt | Foster Freedom | Identity Now Found Blog

How to Keep Up With the Pace of Life

Have you ever felt like you’re living in a hidden season? As though so many life changes are happening at once that you must take several steps back and find a stillness in all the swirling activity? That’s where our family has been in this most recent season.

If you’ve followed our adoption journey, you know we’ve been waiting. And waiting. And waiting. To see the beauty and the promise of God fulfilled. Six months ago, our family was chosen by a birth mom to adopt her precious baby girl. She wasn’t rejecting her daughter. She wasn’t “giving her up.” She intentionally and carefully considered where she was at and what would be best for her baby. At this point in her life, that meant placing her with great intent into a forever family. That is selfless love. That is sacrifice.

When we heard the news we’d been chosen and only had a few weeks to wait, the endless waiting switched gears into a flurry of activity. Our promise was about to come. We would meet our daughter soon!

Our precious girl has been with us from her first moment in this world. I was in the delivery room and was the first (non-medical) person to hold her. Steve was the first to feed her. From the first moment, we’ve known and felt that she is ours. Every day with her truly is precious. Yes, we get tired. But there is something about this process, about the deep intentionality of our entire adoption journey, which makes each moment we have with her a gift. We’ll go to court in a couple of months to finalize the adoption, to make what is already forever in our hearts, forever in the eyes of the law.

In this hidden season of welcoming a baby into our home, we’ve also been preparing for what’s next in life and ministry. This month marks the six-year anniversary of this blog, this space to explore the many ways and places God can be found. We are so excited to announce what has been brewing: the upcoming release of our video teachings! In these brief and accessible videos, we will explore how to know truth, experience freedom, and live in authentic identity and intimacy with God. Beginning in late-August, you will be able to connect with those here as well as through our Facebook page.

We would love your help in getting the word out and sharing these messages as they are released. Who in your life needs encouragement to live in freedom? Who needs to know God more deeply? Who needs to answer the question for themselves, “Who am I?”

If you find yourself now living in a hidden season, remember: time in the hidden place is where God often heals our souls, allows us time to rest, and prepares us for our next leg of life’s journey with Him. Embrace the season of hiddenness and all that He has for your here. When the pace of life feels rushed, out of control, take a step back into the fold of His embrace and find rest. Ask Him: What can I release in this season? Where do I need to put my attention? Who do You say I am?

Rest from the doing and settle into the being, trusting that He will direct your steps.

If you enjoyed this post, continue reading about The Idol of Certainty.

Categories
Adopt | Foster Now Found Blog

Adoption 101 – Q & A

My friend warned me, when her family came over for dinner, that her daughter was fascinated by adoption and would likely ask me a million questions about our story. I smiled and said, “I’d love it!”

There’s nothing like adoption that will bring out the curiosity in friends, family, and even strangers. Suddenly we’ve become the “experts” to those in our circles who have never adopted. Now, we certainly don’t know all there is – there is a LOT of info out there. But we’ve gathered quite a bit along our journey. And if there’s something I love doing, it’s sitting down over a cup of coffee and sharing what I’ve learned with someone else, be it homeschooling, how to study the Bible, discovering identity/freedom, and, yes, adoption.

So grab your cup of coffee or tea or kombucha – to each his own – and imagine we’re chatting one-on-one. (If I miss your questions here, feel free to share in the comments and I’ll do my best to address them!)

Let’s dive in!

What types of adoption are there? 

The primary methods of adoption include: international, domestic through the state, and private domestic. International is adoption that takes place across national borders, for example, an American couple adopting a child from China. (Age range available can be anywhere from about 2-16 years old.) Domestic through the state is adopting children who have gone through the foster care system and whose parents’ rights have been terminated. (Age range available can be anywhere from about 2-17 years old.) Private domestic adoption is typically when a birth mom chooses a family to parent her unborn child; this can be done via word-of-mouth connections or through an agency. (Age range is typically newborns, but can include older children on occasion.)

Which type did you choose and why? 

For this adoption, we’ve chosen private domestic through an agency. We look forward to parenting a child all the way from their first hours in life. Given our current ages in life, this will likely be our last attempt at adopting an infant. Future adoption(s) will most likely be domestic through the state, adopting older children who have come through foster care and are in need of a forever family.

Why does adoption cost so much? 

Well, it depends on the way you go. International and private domestic adoptions can cost upwards of $25k whereas domestic through the state only costs the adoptive family around $1k. But, consider a couple of factors. In the case of the state, the government is subsidizing the care, which comes from taxpayers. So, there’s a financial cost, just less obvious.

And, even bringing children into the world biologically can be incredibly expensive – each of ours accrued no less than $100k including prenatal care, labor, and delivery for two very high-risk pregnancies. Yes, there was insurance to help, but insurance dues to pay for as well. Either way you go, there’s a financial cost – it just looks a bit different.

Where does the money go? 

We’re so thankful to be working with an agency who views their work as a ministry more than anything else! Some agencies are complete shams who will take your money with little to nothing to show for it. In our case, if we end up matched with a birth mom and she later changes her mind, all of our money and every donation given is still intact and is available for use in the next adoptive match.

The money itself for our private domestic adoption covers the home-study, marketing, birth mom and baby care, counseling for birth mom, legal fees, and all processing costs.

What’s the difference between open and closed adoption? Which one is better? 

Open adoption means that there is some level of communication and/or interaction between the adoptive family, the child, and the birth parents. Closed adoption means that there is no communication or interaction. But, it’s not just a black or white situation.

Think of open/closed as a sliding scale rather than a door. Depending on the desire of the birth parents and comfort level of the adoptive parents, an open adoption can be limited to mailed pictures every few months or it could be regular visits and the families coming to feel like they’re actually blood-related, sharing special events and frequent interaction.

In most cases, studies have shown that some level of openness is healthiest for the child. Only in cases where the birth parents are dangerous would a closed adoption be a better way.

How long does it take? 

It depends on what “it” means. And, how fast you can fill out paperwork and attend required trainings. We began dreaming of adopting before we ever got married. Five years ago we became foster parents, hoping to adopt through that route, which didn’t work for our situation.

Preparing for our private domestic adoption has now been a journey spanning about 2 1/2 years. That includes deciding on which way to go, which agency to use, applications, orientation, ALL the paperwork, doctor visits, home study interviews and visits, fundraising, more fundraising, hundreds of conversations, and now…waiting to receive the call.

Our waiting isn’t over yet. But it will be soon.

What happens when you get “the” call? 

When our agency calls us, they’ll let us know that we’ve been chosen by a birth mom as a potential match. We’ll drop everything and set up a time to meet with her just a day or two later. We may have to travel to another part of the state depending on where she is. We’ll get to know each other a bit, with a caseworker present to help ease some of the tension and guide our (nervous) conversation. Then, we’ll wait for the birth.

The birth mom has to wait 48 hours after birth before she can legally sign away her parental rights. Once that’s done, the baby is placed with us and we can bring them home. About six months later, we will go to a court where a judge will finalize the adoption and legally we will become our child’s forever family.

How can I be a part of your adoption journey? 

We would LOVE your prayers and support! Follow our story at adopt.nowfound.org or on Facebook. Thank you!!

Where can I get more information on adoption? 

If you’re in the DFW area, take a look at Chosen Ones, an adoptive and foster care support group. They host regular info meetings and provide ongoing support for the unique situations adoptive and foster families experience. Also, check out our agency, Christian Homes & Family Services. They can help you with all kinds of domestic adoption as well as foster care. Regarding international, I’ve heard wonderful things about Gladney, though we haven’t used them personally.

So, what questions do you have? Have you considered foster care or adoption for your family?

God loves adoption because He loves people. (James 1:27)

He is a Father to the fatherless. (Psalm 68:5)

He sets the lonely in families. (Psalm 68:6)

Categories
Adopt | Foster Now Found Blog

Our Adoption Story…

It began with a dream, as many worthwhile things do. The dream that became a hope is now becoming a reality – adopting a new member into our family.

Steve and I have long-desired to have a houseful of kiddos – biological and adopted alike. Our family motto has long been, “There is always room for one more.” Just shy of celebrating our second anniversary, we welcomed our first-born son into the world. A short 16 months later, we welcomed his sister after many long hospital stays. Each pregnancy was difficult, dangerous even, not only for the babies, but for me as well. So, when our youngest was four, we began our journey into foster care, hoping to adopt.

Our foster daughter was beautiful and, oh-so-precious! Witnessing the miracle of her healing was one of the greatest privileges of our lives. And yet, we knew she wasn’t going to be ours forever. We were merely a stepping stone of her path to healing and safety. So, after only four months, we said goodbye.

The following months and years saw fear, doubt, and lies seeking a foothold in my soul. I allowed fear to provoke me to believe that having more children in our home would be too much, too much for my heath, too much for our homeschooling, too much for our capacity . . . just too much. And, for me, the dream that once was vibrant and alive, was buried.

When I finally hit my knees and asked God what He had to say, the dead and decomposing dream took in a fresh breath from the Life-Giver. In a span of mere minutes, doubt gave way to desire, fear gave way to faith, lies gave way to love.

Praise God for His resurrecting power!  

And here we find ourselves in the final steps of our years-long marathon. We’re working with a wonderful agency who will help connect us with a birth mom. This young woman is still unknown to us, but God knows exactly who and where she is. She is in the midst of her own process, seeking to find a forever family for her precious child.

Will you help us make that final connection?

We’ve begun a campaign to raise the funds needed to cover the adoption expenses, including birth mom and baby care, home study, training, marketing, legal fees, and more. Please consider how you can be a part of bringing our little miracle home! Thank you for supporting, encouraging, sharing, and, most especially, praying through this with us!

Click here to help!

https://www.facebook.com/IAMCourtneyCohen/videos/1433387896706808/

Categories
Adopt | Foster Finding God Everyday Now Found Blog

Raising a Buried Dream to Life

“…[Jesus] cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out.’ The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.'” John 11:43-44 (ESV)

My husband and I stood at an impasse. He longed to move ahead with adoption. I wanted no more than the two kids we already had. My mind was made up after waffling for years.

It hadn’t always been that way. Steve and I had long envisioned a house filled with both biological and adopted children.

But a diagnosis struck during my second pregnancy, making any future attempts potentially deadly. Two kids, 16 months apart, the stress of two in diapers, two potty training, two requiring so much of me while I still reeled from a life-changing diagnosis – I came to believe even one more would be too much. Our dream needed to be buried.

Guilt pressed me. I longed for Steve to understand, to realize that the blessings we already had were enough, to grasp that anything more could push my health over the edge and literally kill me.

And so we lived for several years – teetering between our original dream he refused to release, all the while loving me completely, and the dream I’d placed in the ground and grieved. Disunity gnawed. Fear held me back from nakedly approaching God to hear His heart.

A friend watched my children one day so I could get some work done. After just a couple of hours on my own, I felt the Lord stirring me, drawing me near. It was my lunch break, but food was the last thing on my mind.

Walking to the center of my silent living room, I hit my knees, tears slipping down my face. I finally had the courage to ask the question I’d avoided for so long: “Lord, what’s holding me back from adopting?” His response was swift, kind and loving, yet holding nothing back.

“Fear. And your distrust that I will take care of everything.”

His words struck like a pinprick in my heart, piercing the deepest parts of who I am. A question hovered in that thin place: Would I continue to be ruled by fear, or would I choose to trust Him completely?

In a span of minutes, the buried dream came to life. Everything I’d known five minutes earlier fell away, adamant refusal transformed into exhilarated longing.

When my husband came home, I laid out my resurrection story, giving him the gift of a wife who refused to cower before fear. God performed a miracle before our eyes – hearts reunified, vision restored, hope uplifted.

The Lord knows where our children are. He’ll put all things together in His perfect timing. He’s got this. After all, He’s still raising the dead to life.

Is there a dream you’ve buried? Are you willing to place it before the Lord?

Categories
Adopt | Foster Finding God Everyday Now Found Blog

Facing A Season of Change

Recently, I sat down with a friend I haven’t talked with in depth for a while, just a time to catch up and let our kids play. “What’s going on with you these days?” she tossed out with a smile.

I stumbled over thoughts. Usually I can pick one or two things going on and jump right in. But this has been a full season indeed. It took me a minute to get out, “Too much!” Many things. Big things. Incredible life changes.

And the enemy has been out in full force, on the attack for months. On the one hand, it’s frustrating being in a season with so much wonderful, yet facing so many battles – living moment-to-moment wielding my shield and sword. On the other hand, it’s an encouragement that we’re on the right track if the enemy is so hell-bent on derailing and discouraging us.

I keep coming back to my word for this year: Press! And God has brought me time and again to Psalm 18, remembering that He is my Source of strength, everything that I need. But I still have an active part to play, taking the offensive position against my enemies.

“I pursued my enemies and overtook them, and did not turn back till they were consumed. I thrust them through, so that they were not able to rise; they fell under my feet. For you equipped me with strength for the battle; you made those who rise against me sink under me.” Psalm 18:37-39

What are these enemies that need to be overtaken and thrust through? Fear. Food cravings. The desire for control. Lethargy. Insecurity. Pride. The feeling that I’m just not enough, or far worse, that God is not enough.

So, in the midst of the battles, what’s been going on around here? Here are the top highlights:

NEW BOOK ON THE WAY! The very week after I completed Refining Identity, I began writing Chronic Healing. It’s been three years in the works and now we’re preparing to launch. Chronic Healing follows my journey living with Type 1 diabetes and chronicles the many ways God has brought healing to my life as I’ve learned to seek the Healer more than I seek the “healing.” This is my testimony, sharing with every reader how God wants to be right there in the midst of your own chronic struggles, be they physical, emotional, or spiritual. This book is a message of hope, freedom, truth, and naked vulnerability as you peek into the day-to-day challenges of living with an ongoing condition even as God brings about His own miraculous healing. Chronic Healing will be released this summer!

NEW HOME! We’re building a new house and preparing to sell our current one, nearly complete with the projects to get it sell-worthy. The many conversations full of dreaming Steve and I have had over the years have come in handy these past few months as we (finally) made the decision about whether to continue investing time and money into our older house or build a new one that will better suit our long-term needs. We’ve maximized every square foot of our current home. And given the next major update, extra square footage will be a huge bonus!

NEW MEMBER OF THE FAMILY! Our journey towards adoption has been long, beginning with our hearts’ longings even before marriage, continuing through facing two high-risk pregnancies, lived temporarily through our fostering experience, and moving into a permanent stage now with domestic adoption. We’re SO excited to meet the newest member of the Cohen family! Get ready to hear more about our journey as I will catalog the steps along the way, inviting you to take part in this wonderful process with prayer and partnering with us financially to make this dream a reality.

And, in the midst of all of this, I’ve been writing up a storm on new projects, editing and working as a writer’s coach, eating a plant-based diet to test its effects on diabetes for me, and continuing to teach classes at church. I’ve also had to release some things from my schedule. I’ve had to say no, or at least not now. And, certainly, I’ll have to say no as other opportunities come my way, discerning what God has for me in this season.

Through everything, this blog has been simmering on the back burner. I’ve missed this space, this open discussion of the many ways God can be found. In a season like this, full of happenings, it’s easy to overlook the nearness of His presence. But He’s so close, arms extended, reaching for us in every, single circumstance if we will only pause to take notice.

So, what’s going on with you these days? How do you see God moving in the midst of this season?

 

CH Front Cover PerfectHave you ever wondered how to reconcile the reality of a chronic condition with the existence of a healing God?

In Chronic Healing, I share my journey of living with a chronic illness, all the while experiencing ongoing healing throughout my life. God has shown me that He is faithful, He is near, He sees the daily battles, He walks alongside in every moment.

Chronic Healing is Now Available! Order your copy today and meet the One who can give you lasting hope and healing for your body, soul, and spirit!

 

 

 

Categories
Adopt | Foster Now Found Blog

Willing to Have a Change of Heart

It’s been more than a year since our precious foster daughter moved out of our home and in with her relatives.  And, honestly, despite our wonderful experience overall, I was ready to return to only having our two children in the home again.  This entire year, I’ve been content with our two biological children, having no desire to add to our family.  But I knew Steve still wanted more.

Not being in the same place as my husband regarding the number of kids we wanted has been a new and troubling feeling for me.  We’d talked about having a bunch of kids, both biological and adopted, since we were engaged.  We had always been on the same page.  Until we weren’t.

A couple of months ago, Steve asked me where my heart was on the adoption issue…was I ready to get back on the list?  My answer: No.  I don’t want anymore.  BUT…I’m willing for God to change my heart. He’s changed it before.

I didn’t want to be a homeschooling mom.  But, God changed my heart and now I love the privilege of teaching our children at home.

I didn’t want to add to our family through foster care.  But, God changed my heart and blessed me immensely when I dared to trust Him.

As I prayed through this concern, hating the fact that Steve and I weren’t unified on this major issue, I started to see that fear was behind my “lack of wanting” as I called it.  I was afraid my having diabetes would get in my way of effectively loving and parenting another child.  I was afraid of making the “forever” commitment that adoption entails.  I was afraid that the callings on my life to write, to teach, to homeschool would all get pushed to the back burner again.  I was afraid I just wouldn’t be enough.

But God…

One morning recently, God began to peel away the fear and started to speak directly to this concern.  He told me, “You have more to give than you realize.”  As I stood testing my blood sugar, I heard those words resonate in my spirit.  And, even though my sugar read high at that moment, I understood that He is bigger than that pesky number.  Diabetes is no limitation for Him.  And, He encouraged me, it is no limitation for me either.

He also revealed something pretty huge: a lie I’ve believed for six years.  While I was in the hospital for complications during my pregnancy with my daughter, my doctor asked me if we planned to have more children.  I replied, “Oh, yes!  We want to have at least five!”  His response: “That will kill you.”

What?

In a moment, a huge part of our dream was dashed.  And, somewhere along the line, I took this statement and molded it to apply to having children through adoption as well.  What my heart began to believe was this: Having children will kill me.

Now, that is not what my doctor said at all.  He was referring to biological children only and the negative effects my body experienced with the mixture of diabetes and pregnancy.  But, the enemy twisted this statement in my heart and I agreed with it unknowingly.  No wonder I was afraid!

A couple of days later, when my heart leapt at the sight of a cute baby on a diaper commercial, I knew God had done a major shift in my heart!  Now, instead of dread was a longing.  Instead of fear, there was hope.

As if all this wasn’t enough, I dared to ask Him for one more thing: a picture of what my family looks like to Him.  Since He sees the past and future as equally as the present, I knew He could give me insight on how our future family could look.  And, wow, did He ever answer this request!

Right away, I saw what appeared to be an outdoor family portrait session.  There I was, standing with a shrug and a smirk as if to say, “Yep, this is our craziness and it’s awesome!”  My husband was diving in between kids with loving tackles and tickling.  My son was hovering over a smaller, toddling boy with his usual love and sensitivity for little ones.  My daughter sat in the grass, cross-legged, knee-to-knee with a little girl as they both brushed their dolls’ hair.  And, I had a sense that there may even be more kids running around just outside the picture’s frame.

God spoke to my heart, “Courtney, you can say ‘no’.   You have that option.  I will still love you and bless you and your family.  You will still walk in your purpose and callings.  But, if you say ‘yes’ you will be blessed beyond measure.  You will still walk in your callings, though they may look different than what your expectations currently are.  Though, honestly, regardless of which path you choose, your calling will look different than your expectations because My timing is not subject to your expectations.”  

So, I know we’ll begin moving forward on this soon, preparing to open our home and our hearts again, in fresh ways, to more children and to God-possibilities rather than merely Courtney-possibilities.  His are far greater than mine ever could be.

Is there something in your heart that God wants to change?  Perhaps something you’ve said “no” to that He wants to shift?  Are you willing for Him to move your heart?

 

Check out more of our journey: getting licensed as a foster/adoptive family, actually living that out, and what happened when it came time to say good-bye.  If you’re interested in getting more information about the foster/adoptive process, check out Chosen Ones, an A-MAZING support group for foster/adoptive families and those considering.

 

refining identity cover no grad
Imagine yourself walking in the identity God has designed for you, and helping your children discover their identities for themselves! Courtney’s book, Refining Identity, dives deeply into the topic of discovering our true identity. Check out Refining Identity here!

Categories
Adopt | Foster Now Found Blog

Are You a “Chosen One” to Foster or Adopt?

mychosenones logo (larger)

So, the raw truth…at first I didn’t want to be a foster mom.  As in, I said, “Never!”  A string of excuses ensued…

“I don’t want to deal with government bureaucracy.”

“What if I fall in love and can’t let them go?”

“What if we can’t afford it?”

“What if it’s dangerous to our family?”

“How can I explain this to our extended family?”

What if an angry bio-parent follows us home from a visitation with their child?”

Anyone else know what often happens when we say, “Never!” to God?

I’ve already shared several major steps of our journey already…our vision prior to becoming a foster family…our reality while in the midst…and our trust in God when it came time to say goodbye to our foster daughter.

But there were two things that helped me overcome all those excuses and doubts and fears.  God spoke…and He gave us a community of support.

I was preparing a list of questions to ask Randy and Vickie Akins who run a non-profit support group in our area called Chosen Ones.  As I readied myself to ask every question in the universe so I could convince myself that fostering was NOT what God had for us, God spoke so clearly to my soul, “You’re going to foster…and it will be okay!  Trust Me!”  That was it.  I knew.

And “Trust Me” would become the theme of what He would speak to me throughout our entire journey of becoming licensed and living in the reality of fostering and, later, letting go.  Trust Him.  Not what I thought I knew…Not what I’d seen on T.V….Not what fear whispered in my ear…Just Him.

Then came the community of support through Chosen Ones…an overwhelming outpouring that I never could have imagined!  Information on local agencies, answers to all my questions and more, real-life testimonies of other foster families, regular support meetings, fun events with other foster/adoptive families, a closet filled with anything we might need to fill in the gaps…clothes…toys…baby monitors and car seats for FREE, meals when we got our first placement, prayers over the phone, prayers through our Facebook group, prayers during monthly support group meetings…and more than I can even recall!  The way they embraced us was amazing and so full of love and an eagerness to support us through this journey.

When I first heard the name of the group, “Chosen Ones“, I thought they were referring to the children that would come into these foster and adoptive homes.  But after getting more information, I understood that the “chosen ones” were actually the foster or adoptive families!  These families would be chosen to care for children who needed a home, either temporarily or forever.  To be one of those chosen ones was one of the most humbling things I’ve ever experienced.

The scope of this amazing grassroots organization is immense…their vision huge and continuing to grow!  They have expanded from just one support group to several and they continue to meet with local churches to establish new Chosen Ones groups throughout the area.  Randy and Vickie amaze me in their willingness to serve and go wherever God has called them to go.

If you are a family considering foster care or adoption, I encourage you to pray for God’s direction and timing.  Read our story here and here and here.  And, contact Chosen Ones for more information to help answer your questions!  If you are in the DFW metroplex, come to an informational meeting or visit a support group for families considering or already actively fostering or adopting.

If you’re already a foster or adoptive family and you need some extra encouragement, support and resources, consider checking out Chosen Ones!

If your church is looking to begin their own foster/adoptive care ministry, contact Chosen Ones for information on how to do that!

If you just want to help in some way by volunteering your time or resources, here are some of their needs!  You don’t have to become licensed to foster or adopt to make an impact!

 

As for our family, for some health and other reasons we have taken a break from fostering and are waiting for God’s direction on returning to it anytime soon or perhaps further down the road.  In the meantime, we will continue to be a voice of encouragement to those considering foster care or adoption.  We were definitely and immensely blessed to be “chosen ones”!  We miss our foster daughter…keep her pictures up…talk about her often with our kids, family and friends…and continue to pray for her health and safety and blessing!

 

In case you haven’t heard, I am publishing my first book, entitled Refining Identity: Now Found in Christ which will be released this Fall!  To see more about this resource, be a part of the publication project or pre-order your copy, visit our FundRazr campaign!  God bless!

 

 

Categories
Adopt | Foster Finding God Everyday Now Found Blog

Taking a Stand

All Rights Reserved / Photo Source – Summer Hoover / Used by Permission

I awoke to a flurry of excitement on Facebook and Twitter proclaiming that the Texas Senate had passed House Bill 2 (HB2) which places some hefty restrictions on the abortion industry in the State of Texas.  Those restrictions include a ban on abortions after 20 weeks gestation except in situations which threaten the life of the mother or in cases of severe fetal abnormalities.  Being a Texan, I can only say how proud I am to see this movement towards the protection of life.  (And, yes, there is still more movement to make!)

Now I’m sitting here…at my usual 5am writing time on Saturdays…reading through the chatter and discussion and hearing God say to me very simply, “Stand for Life.”  In my heart, I always have.  I believe, as evidenced not only by the Bible, but also science, that life begins at conception.  Period. Not birth…not the point of “viability out of the womb”…not even the first heartbeat…but at conception.  But I haven’t been a very vocal presence on the issue…I’m not too fond of confrontation, especially of the political sort.  But, on this issue, I see that I too need to take a stand that is noticeable outside of myself and my comfortable circle of friends.  This is, after all, not merely a political issue.  This is life and death.

One day while I was reading Genesis 1, I was so struck at how God first created and then formed His creation.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” Genesis 1:1-2

Just to be clear…since Genesis is written in a narrative style (and intended to be read that way), not to mention the Hebrew references to the literal 24-hour day, I believe “a day” actually means “a day”.  So…Day 1, God created light.  But it wasn’t until Day 4 that He organized that light into the sun, stars and reflecting moon.  It’s like a master sculptor…except God also created His own clay!  God created the “clay”, unformed, un-molded creation and took the time to form and fashion it.  He took the chaotic, cosmic mess He first spoke into existence and then created order and amazing beauty over the next six days of time.

So it is with us…from tiny cells, just blobs of DNA (who happen to miraculously come together from two separate beings).  God takes His time to slowly form and fashion our bodies.  The creation is an amazing miracle in and of itself…But to see how He molds and intentionally forms that creation is like what David said, “Too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” (Psalm 139: 6)

When was “light” actually “light”?  Day 4 with the formation of the sun?  Or Day 1 with the formation of “light”?  This seems like a simple question to answer to me.  Just because the light wasn’t in the form we see now doesn’t make it any less “light”.  It just hadn’t been sculpted yet!

When is a “baby” actually a “baby”?  Birth…when our eyes looking on can see and fingers can touch?  Or conception…when elements from two parents merge into one substance which bears all that is necessary to be formed into the familiar presence of a baby?

“You formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.  My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them yet.”  Psalm 139:13-16

This incredibly miraculous and complex “blob” of cells and DNA, He takes and forms.  And then, throughout the course of life, God continues to form and fashion our souls from chaos into beauty and order.  He isn’t done with us.  His work is not complete in us while we live on this planet.  God sees the end from the beginning and the beginning from the end.  His design is beautiful!

As for me…I had two very high-risk pregnancies and I am so thankful that I didn’t make a choice that was more “convenient” for me.  I have two beautiful kiddos that remind me every day of the miracles God works!  I stand for adoption, not abortion…I have been a foster mom and was so blessed to be!  I was born (as were you) and I am thankful that my parents chose life.

I, too, stand for life.  Will you?

 

“…I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse.  Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live…” Deuteronomy 30:19

 

If you are pregnant and trying to figure out what choices you DO have, please visit Real Choices for FREE medical services, accurate information, referral services and countless resources.

If you are considering adoption or fostering, I encourage you to visit Chosen Ones  to get some information on starting your journey!  You can also read about some of our personal journey…our vision…our reality…our trust even when it came time to say goodbye.

Categories
Adopt | Foster Now Found Blog

THE Question Everyone Asks

Continuing along on our journey of being a foster family, I wanted to chat about THE question that inevitably always comes up when talking to someone unfamiliar with or new to foster care: “How will you be able to let them go?”

Well, last week was our first personal experience with this, so I feel like I finally have a credible answer to give.  First of all, every family is different and every child’s case is different.  Some kids end up going to places that are less than ideal in the eyes of the foster parents.  Others go to safe, loving homes.  And still others go to places that have been proven unsafe and unloving, with a good chance that this child could end up back in the system.  So, I will not presume to touch on every varying possibility, but I am more than happy to share our own experience and hopefully it’s an encouragement to you.

Last week, our sweet little foster daughter left us to go live with a relative.  We had the privilege of caring for her and including her in our family for four months.  We got to see her first steps, teach her new words and smother her in love.  In return, we were blessed with her smiles and kisses and the peace of knowing that we were exactly where God wanted us to be.

Looking back over the course of those months, I see God’s favor everywhere!  We worked with some amazing people, from CPS workers (yep, it’s true!) to hospital staff to our agency, support group and more.  The people on this case cared about her well-being most of all and it was such a blessing to see that happening.  It was a crazy mixture of emotions that swept over me when we were told that she would be leaving “next week”.  Suddenly we had to think about gathering all her possessions and inventorying them, all the while feeling so grieved and saddened that we may not ever see her again.  I vacillated between peace and mourning, relief and deep sadness, excitement for her and fear about her transitioning.  Up and down for days!

But one thing helped us the most: from the very beginning of this journey for us, we kept in mind that until God tells us otherwise, these children that we invite into our family are not “ours”…at least not yet.  We are the caretakers standing in while their forever home is prepared.  Our hope has always been to adopt, and that is still the case.  But until that is legally available as an option to us, God has helped us give love freely and fully, while still holding them loosely in our hearts.

People often say, “I could never do that!  I’d get too attached and wouldn’t want them to go!”  I get it…we got attached too.  She was so unbelievably precious, it would’ve been a lost cause to even try to avoid attachment.  And that’s exactly what I said when I tried to avoid walking this road two years ago.  But God dropped peace on me, over and over and over again.  I knew that it was okay for my heart to get a little bruised and it’d be worth it if I could be a safe place for God’s little princess.

Along with peace and favor, God just showed off in so many little ways!  Without seeking it out, I was invited to meet the out-of-town relative that would be the new guardian for this sweet girl.  That meeting alone dispelled fear and gave me reassurance that she’d be safe and well-loved.  I was thanked profusely for everything we did and was assured that we would be able to maintain contact and hear updates as she grows.

So, when the day came to say good-bye, along with the rest of her things, I tucked in a scrapbook with pictures and prayers to say how wonderful she is and how much she touched our lives.  We had one last dance party in the living room, watched her shake her little booty to the rhythm, shared tons of hugs and kisses and waved bye-bye as she was driven away.  The house was noticeably quiet that day (even with our two kiddos)!  I looked around at the baby things and felt her missing.  But even as we started to pack those things away and go on with the business of life, like the excitement of grocery shopping, God drenched us in peace.

Peace amidst the heartache and sadness.  Peace that helps me enjoy the back-step to two children in the house.  Peace to trust that God knows better than I do.  Peace that I am confident this adorable little girl is safe, loved and getting comfortable in her new home.

As for us, we are taking a break for a little while to rest and rejuvenate and most importantly to listen to what God has next for our family.  His timing is perfect.

 

You may also like: Room For One More and Overflowing Love

 

If you’re a foster/adoptive family or are considering it, visit Chosen Ones!  God brings special families together and this amazing ministry provides support and encouragement to make these families successful.  They have immensely blessed us in our journey and I can’t imagine having walked this road without them!

Categories
Adopt | Foster Now Found Blog

Overflowing Love

It has been a month of go-go-go for our family, as I’m sure it’s been for yours. Yes, we had Thanksgiving, but truthfully that was the simplest day of the month for us. I mentioned back in September that we were undergoing the licensing process to become foster parents. Well, at the end of October, we received our license and just a few days later, we got a call that made a wonderful new change to our family!

God has blessed us so much in this process! Yes, making the change from two to three kids is an adjustment, but any parent can tell you that. It has been for me a time of quite literally trusting God with this day alone. Trusting him with the things that absolutely must be done today to give me the strength to endure. And, especially trusting Him with the things that are not necessary for today and can wait…trusting that the world will not implode if I put off laundry for one day.

In fostering, I am amazed at how our territory of influence has grown. We have a list of people all new to us that we will now see on a regular basis. No longer are we in our “comfy” church friends and family only bubble. We have government workers and doctors, social workers and receptionists, biological family members, volunteers, case managers, attorneys and so many more who we now have the privilege of meeting. And in listening to the guiding voice of the Holy Spirit, in time we can have those moments to speak into lives that otherwise might never have known the love of God.

What a beautiful thing it is to remember that none of this is about me. Not the middle of the night diaper changes…not the bottle washing…not the appointments…nothing. It is about the love that God has poured out over us that we get to pass on to a little one who needs love right now. It’s not about the accolades from others who are proud of us. It’s not about facing the doubt that different people share as they wonder why we’re doing this.

It is about one more open door. It is about being open to God leading us through this day, equipping us for right now. It is about giving. And in giving, we have received so much in return! We have received slobbery baby kisses and the opportunity to see our bio kids smother this one in love. We’ve received a wonderful compliment from a CPS worker who said it was such a pleasure to see foster parents enjoy being foster parents. In remembering that this is not about us, God has given us a peace each day where we don’t have to live in fear of wondering where this precious one will end up. We are a chapter in this life. God knows the end. And for now, He has entrusted this gift to us.

Will we have this little one forever as our own? We just don’t know yet. That isn’t important right now. Today is the day the Lord has made. He will equip us for today and we will trust Him with tomorrow. But the giving of love today, we trust, will not be in vain. Giving love to another never returns void.

 

November is National Adoption Awareness Month. There is such an incredible need for foster and adoptive families! I challenge you, rather than just giving an immediate excuse as to why this doesn’t apply to you, to sit with God and your spouse and pray about God’s heart for children who need a temporary safe place or a forever family. Ask Him how you can be a part of this incredible opportunity to love on some amazing kiddos. There are so many ways…become a foster/adoptive family, volunteer as a CASA worker, volunteer as a respite worker, take a meal to a family who is fostering or newly adopted, watch bio kids for the parents who are getting licensed, donate clothes and other baby or kid items to a closet benefiting foster/adoptive families and pray, pray, pray for those families…there are nearly endless ways to help. We couldn’t have done it without the help we received and we are so very thankful to each and every person who has freely given their time to help us get to this place.

You may also like: Room for One More and THE Question Everyone Asks

 

If you’re a foster/adoptive family or are considering it, visit Chosen Ones!  God brings special families together and this amazing ministry provides support and encouragement to make these families successful.  They have immensely blessed us in our journey and I can’t imagine having walked this road without them!