Sunday, April 14, 2013

Encouraging an Adoptive Family 101

For those of you not local or not my FaceBook friends, I was recently interviewed by the Clackamas Review about my art show! You can read the article <HERE>. I'm so thankful for that opportunity and I hope others are encouraged by it as well.

After my last post, I began to think it might have been a bit negative.  I observed to a friend that I rarely have anything to say about adoption until someone comes along and annoys me.  She teased “Stupid people inspire you.  I like it!”.  Umm, I guess there’s truth to that!  In addition to what not to say to adoptive families, she encouraged me to also share what is encouraging to us in the moment.

I had not been annoyed in the last 24 hours and my inspiration was lacking, so I brainstormed with her and came up with a reasonable list.  Now, I can only speak from partial experience-- I’m not actually a mom yet (despite being "paper-pregnant" for a year and a half!).  My guess is, though, that virtually all adoptive families you encounter would approve this list.

Even though every adoption is different, every adoptive parent is the same in their need for encouragement and support.

We have been blessed when people....

  • Shoot me a random text only to tell me they prayed for my children that morning.
  • Ask how they can be praying for me and my husband in the process.
  • Are excited for us every step of the way even if they don’t fully understand the process or our decisions.
  • Are genuinely curious about the process and want to learn about it.
  • Ask questions, even the hard ones.  It tells us you care.
  • Are accepting of "my little brown-skinned kiddos" and talk about race as a natural thing rather than different, weird, or awkward.
  • Tell me how cute my kids will be.
  • Express true excitement to meet them.
  • Understand that my kids are already “mine” in my heart, and it’s hard to be away from them.
  • Write me a card of encouragement.
  • Share their own dreams to adopt someday.
  • Are optimistic about facing the unknowns along side of us.
  • Are emotional about our adoption process.

Specific warm-fuzzy moments:

  • My mom is buying books for her grandkids.
  • There is space on my in-law's wall specifically reserved for their pictures.  (They frequently complain about it being empty.)
  • A friend changed her cell phone ringtone to remind her to pray for my kids.
  • Another friend had a dream that my kids were home and she got to play with them.
  • An older friend turned pale when we explained last month’s almost-disaster (Blog post here).
  • A new friend extended friendship to me by offering grocery-shopping services when my kids are home (I fully plan on taking her up on it).
  • Someone defended our decision to adopt internationally when another family was extremely critical.
  • A young friend informed me she is going to come over to clean my house when my kids come home.
  • Seeing the sacrifice of friends as they help with our adoption expenses.  It’s truly humbling.
  • Close friends asking if my kids can call them “aunt” and “uncle”.

Truly, this list could go on, and on, and on, and.....  There are many people that have been such an encouragement to us, I could not possibly list every incident.  Almost daily someone is asking how the process is coming along (I wish I had news!).  But these are the things that have, in a large part, kept our spirits up as we plug along.  

Here’s a music video by Audio Adrenaline that’s worth watching, "Kings & Queens".

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Beginner's Guide to Adoptive Families

An evening snapshot of Seattle, WA while we were there for
a missions fundraising dinner last month
So close.  This whole referral thing feels soooo close.   Some days I am simply done waiting.  I know God’s timing will be perfect, though, and I do trust Him.  After we receive our referrals, we’ll wait about another 8 months until the kiddos are home.  There has recently been a new slowdown in the process (surprise surprise...)- this time after the referrals.  I need to keep....  waiting, and trusting.

My adoption art show (click here for pics!) is going well, by the way.  Thank you for asking about it!  Wednesday, I have an interview with a local newspaper about the show.  Maybe I’ll be able to get the community involved and raise adoption-awareness there!

I stopped by a local fruit stand last week and asked to put up a flier for the art show.  After hearing my spiel, the younger guy behind the counter was immediately positive and expressed interest in adopting someday.  In contrast, his co-worker defensively covered her stomach and said “Well, my husband and I want to create our own children.”  Uh, ok?! Good for you?  People’s responses, while usually positive, are so interesting!

The sis-n-law Julianna with her artwork
When you encounter an adoptive family:

Please understand that reasons for adopting are wildly varied.  Some adopt because it is their only way to have a family.  Others adopt because they have compassion, see a need, and want to help.  Others choose adoption to start a family regardless of their ability to have birth kids.  There are a myriad of reasons.  Please don’t pre-judge a family’s motives based on your past experience.

Please understand that families in process have thought and prayed very hard about their decision. We have discussed what “color” our kids will be and how that will affect us.  We have discussed the implications of bringing a child with a complex background into our home.  We have very prayerfully weighed how much to “play God” and choose ages, gender, health status, etc, and how much to leave that in His perfect control.  These are not new issues for us.  Rather, we have lost some precious sleep over them!

 Julianna and me-- opening evening of the art show.
She's afraid I'm going to tickle her in this picture :)
Please understand it’s ok to ask questions and share thoughts, but not with an agenda.  Most adoptive families welcome honest questions and concerns that come from a kind heart and an open mind.  It does not bother me to share with a curious person the amount of our adoption fees, though I may preface my remarks by stating that “our children are priceless”. How are you to learn more about adoption if you don’t ask?  I appreciate loving concerns about the process and our children.  It does bother me to have someone enter a conversation with a soap box or an opinion they are hell-bent to share with me.  Please leave critical attitudes and racism at home.  

Please understand that my children will be as much mine as your children are yours.  My children will be my “real” kids, “our own,” just as though I had given birth to them.  (Blast, this is a long pregnancy!)

Please don’t assume I’m super human and adopting is something that is out of the reach of the average human being.  I think this is the #1 fallacy that I run across.  Yes, it’s a lot of work, expensive and it takes time.  The process is not, however, designed to be impossible.  Adoption agencies are there to help (with numbered checklists and color-coded file folders, by the way!).  I may have superpowers, but they are limited to making pie and harassing my younger brothers.  In the realm of paperwork, I simply have the ability to do as I’m told.  My guess is that you are similarly human.
Philip with our friend's 9 month old daughter, Rylea,
at the opening evening of my art show

Thank you for bearing with me.  I wish I had progress to share with you.  Please keep us in your prayers, and thank you for your love and encouragement! :)