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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

Are You Safe?

Upward
Photo Source Llima Orosa via Flickr

We’ve been talking about the Underground Railroad recently during our homeschool days.  How do you introduce the atrocities that led to the need for such a thing to young children?  How do you teach the horrors of history so that you can also teach the heroics?  How do you explain to children who have friends of every color, that there were (and still are) people who dehumanize an entire population, based solely on an outward appearance?

In one book we read, illustrations showed people opening up their doors and their arms to runaway slaves. Escaping from a horrific existence, many escapees found sanctuary in the homes of strangers who were willing to risk their very lives for what they knew was right.  What compelled these “conductors” and “station masters” to such selflessness and personal risk?

Simply…they had a vision that far exceeded their own importance in their eyes.  They saw something greater than themselves, a need that demanded of their consciences a response.  Discomfort and danger they willingly accepted for the sake of being a part of giving others a chance at freedom.

It made me think of our days fostering a beautiful little girl who had come to us from traumatic circumstances.  Though the dangers we faced were nearly nonexistent, I now know the feeling of having a vision greater than my own comfort.  To this precious child, I wanted to give safety.  It took many days of tender moments before she began to trust that I wasn’t going to hurt her.  It took weeks longer before the light came into her eyes and joy began to enter her world.

You see, I don’t just want to be safe myself.  I want to be safe for someone else.  I want to be that safe place, with arms open to receive someone who’s facing brokenness, who’s trying to find freedom.  I want my friends to know that when we talk, they’re safe with me…they’re not being judged…they won’t be gossiped about…they can find rest and come out of hiding.

“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

Are you a safe place?  Can others come to you expecting to find shelter from the storms that hunt them? Are your comforts secondary to a greater vision or are your comforts a guiding force?

These are questions I have to continually ask, because if I’m not careful, the answers can swiftly change. I know where I can go when I need a safe place…to the arms of God…to the embrace of my husband…to the ears of several dear friends…And when it’s time for them to need safety, I can only determine that I will be that same safe place for them.

Where do you go when you need a safe place?  How are you a safe place for others?

 

If you’re interested, the books we’ve used in our school days to introduce the tragic topic of slavery in America include Who Owns the Sun and Follow the Drinking Gourd.  I definitely recommend these if you’re trying to open up this discussion with your children.  I read them with tears in my eyes, choking on words at the end of each, knowing that they were honest, while still being a safe and non-traumatizing entry to this topic with my kiddos. 

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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!

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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 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!