8/30/2013

10 Ways to Support an Adoptive Family

Chris and I have a great support system that includes our family and close circle of friends.

We've had to lean on them a lot over the past 6-months for encouragement, prayers, and even just a pick-me-up after a hard day.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

The adoption process is not for the faint of heart.
During our sleepless nights -- especially when we first met our baby girl 3-weeks ago -- we found ourselves reflecting a LOT on how fortunate we are.

This post is for all those who know someone in the adoption process.

Whether it's a family member or friend or co-worker or neighbor, there are SO many ways you can
support an adoptive family.

And they need it!

I've compiled a list of 10 ways to support an adoptive family below.

[Disclaimer: This is not an all-encompassing list, nor are these any sort of commandments thou
shall follow. They are simply ideas and examples of what helped us in our family's journey.]

1.) Pray

Let the adoptive family know you're praying for them.

Let them know more than once.

Send an encouraging email, card, text message, or Facebook message letting them know you're thinking of the adoptive family.

Chocolate is always good, too ;-)

2.) Be Present

When you ask an adoptive family how they're doing, listen to their response.

There might not be anything you can do to physically help their journey go smoother or faster or
easier, but being present is so important.

One of my best friends, Tiffany, was my constant sounding board.

She lives in Omaha, but our hubbies can attest to the fact that we tend to tie up phone lines for a
couple hours :-)

What's great about Tiffany is I could call her day or night, and she would validate my feelings.

She would celebrate accomplishments with me.

And cry with me.

Often times she'd follow up with a text message a day or two later just to let me know she was
thinking of me.

She didn't ask questions.

She just listened.

She was just there.

Sometimes her presence was all I needed to keep trudging through whatever stage we were at in
the process.

My sister was my other go-to gal in the adoption process.

She was the one who kept us busy, kept us focused and moving in a positive direction.

When another family was chosen for a baby in Vegas, she wasted no time and said, "Let's make sure you're ready for the next one!" and off we went to Babies 'R Us to stock up on supplies.

[She must have had a hunch that our phone call would come a week later!]
 3.) Give Financially

Our friends and family were so generous -- not just with their hearts, but their pocket books.

In five months, we were able to raise almost $10,000.

Remember, the average cost of an infant domestic adoption runs upwards of $30,000 - $40,000.

This money is NOT to purchase and raise a baby. It is to ensure the needs of the birth mother
are met during her pregnancy.

Whatever you can give, consider giving to an adoptive family.

No amount is too small.

The financial burden of the adoption process is intimidating and worrisome.

It takes a village -- be part of that village!

By supporting an adoptive family financially, you will have an automatic investment in the life of a child while also validating the health of a birth mother during her pregnancy.
 4.) Offer Fundraising Ideas

Offer creative ideas to help offset the financial burden for an adoptive family.

Do your kids like to have lemonade stands?

Have them host one for a cause.

Do you have items you want to get rid of?

Offer them to an adoptive family for a garage sale.

Better yet -- offer to host a garage sale with proceeds going to the adoptive family!

My sister and her hubby held a Mega Garage Sale for us, and raised more than $1,000 for our
adoption expenses!
5.) Attend Events

Attend an event that benefits an adoptive family.

Whether it's a Pancake Breakfast or Wine Event, attend what you can.

I can't tell you how much it meant to see familiar faces from high school, college, work, church,
etc., at our events.

Sometimes the "being present" factor is more important than the financial factor.

To know there are people standing with an adoptive family is so important.

6.) Celebrate Milestones

This could be my favorite tip.

Celebrating milestones with an adoptive family is so much fun.

Often times, adoptive families miss out on having a fun pregnancy announcement or gender reveal
party or maternity photos.

So offer to help celebrate the unique milestones that come along with the adoption process!

There are so many milestones to celebrate with an adoptive family -- and they are WORTH celebrating.

7.) Treat New Adoptive Parents As You Would Treat Any New Parents

We need support just as ANY new parents need support.

We struggle with sleep just as ANY new parents do.

We are emotional at this significant life change just as ANY new parents are.

When an adoptive family brings their child home, offer to bring meals or mow the lawn or fold the
laundry, etc.

Don't believe us when we say we have it all under control.

[We're lying.]

The bottom line is this:

New adoptive parents are the same as any new parents in that we're trying to balance parenthood with daily life, and it's challenging!

8.) Use Positive Adoption Language

I've written about the importance of word choice since I started this blog back in March.

When talking to an adoptive family, be as considerate as you would with any new family.

Use broad questions and steer clear of asking detailed questions about birth parents or familial histories.

I'm confident that whatever details the new parents feel comfortable sharing, they will offer up on
their own dime.

Please understand there are some details we don't want to share.

And don't be offended if we bypass your question.

Some details about our adoption are better left private.

Perhaps most importantly, please know we don't expect perfection when it comes to talking about our adoption journey.

If you're not sure how to ask something or how to phrase something -- ask us!

We don't expect all of our friends and family members and acquaintances to be politically correct all the time.

9.) Give Time

Adoption is a lengthy, sometimes draining process.

Often times, adoptive parents are in another state -- or even another country -- for WEEKS while
government entities work to approve clearances before they are allowed to go home.

If your employer allows it, offer to donate some of your vacation time to a co-worker who is facing
this challenge.

Adoptive parents are at the whim of the government, and vacation time is quickly exhausted before
they can even begin bonding at home with their child.

10.) Ask Questions, Share and Educate

Adoptive families are part of a unique club.

We have an unspoken bond between us -- one of understanding, empathy, heartache, joy.

When we announced our plans to adopt, we immediately received so much support from friends and family members.

But there is one message I'll never forget, and it was from our friend Shana:

"I am so excited for you guys. 
The adoption process is something I know very little about. 
On either side of the spectrum, so it will be a learning 
experience for me and Jeremy both, I suspect. FUN, FUN, FUN! 
I am just thrilled for you guys..."

In the past five months I've seen Shana and her hubby use our adoption journey as a tool to teach their kids about adoption.

They've used it as an opportunity.

They've walked the walk with us -- they've learned about the adoption process right along with us,
like many others -- and offered so much encouragement along the way.

I don't know any adoptive family who wouldn't want friends like them.

I know this is a long post, but I think it's one worth sharing.

These tips, as I mentioned, are not all-encompassing.

But I hope you find them helpful.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention our parents and how they made this adoption load easier to carry
both financially and emotionally.

Chris and I are truly blessed.

We know this.

I hope other adoptive families experience the kindness, understanding and support of others, just
as we have.

8/13/2013

It's Official: I'm "THAT" Mom

I'm officially THAT Mom who talks about her baby all. the. time.

I had a hair appointment yesterday, and the second I walked in the salon the gals said, "Turn around! Go back and get that baby!"

[Grandpa Russell was watching her!]

While I was getting some much-needed hair TLC, I shared stories about how Olivia joined our family.

And then I did it.

I did what a lot of proud mommas do.

I whipped out my cell phone and showed off some photos.
Because with a sweet baby like this, I just can't help myself.

I want to share her with the world.

Will I always be this way?

8/11/2013

Welcome Home, Olivia Grace!

Welcome Home Baby
Welcome home, Olivia Grace!
Welcome Home Baby
After 2-days of driving, a pit stop in Oklahoma, a diaper fiasco in Kansas, and a pit stop in Des Moines -- we're finally HOME - SWEET - HOME!

We might just be the proudest, most sleep-deprived, exhausted-but-happy parents out there :-)

8/09/2013

Love at First Sight: Powerful Photos Of Meeting Our Daughter

It seems like yesterday...
Adoptive Parents Meet Daughter
We anxiously walked into a hospital nursery hundreds of miles from home with only 1-hour of sleep.
Adoptive Parents Meet Daughter
Our hearts raced as we laid eyes on our 2-day old daughter for the first time.
Adoptive Parents Meet Daughter
She was beautiful and perfect and swaddled tightly inside her bassinet.
Adoptive Parents Meet Daughter
It was 3:00 PM but time stood still when we laid eyes on our beautiful baby girl for the first time.
Adoptive Parents Meet Daughter
We couldn't help but smile when we held her little hands.

It didn't take long for us to fall in love with this sweet baby.
Adoptive Parents Meet Daughter
No words could express what it was like to hold our daughter for the first time.
Adoptive Parents Meet Daughter 
I physically felt God tell me:

"I told you I didn't forget about you...
That I had something much bigger planned for you."

It was clear to us that she was the child we prayed for.
Adoptive Parents Meet Daughter
Olivia Grace was the little girl we waited for.
Adoptive Parents Meet Daughter
She is our treasured daughter we fell in love with at first sight.

Related content:
Dear Daughter
She's Ours
Dear Kendra
An Adoption Finalization [in photos]

Photos: Isadora Photography

8/07/2013

Momma Knows Best!

Already wrapped around Daddy's finger!

Lil' Liv decided to [ finally] fall asleep at 5:30 AM and sleep for 4-hours.

[Side note: HUGE thank you to my co-worker and evening anchor Amanda Goodman for "The
Happiest Baby" CD -- it has been a life saver!]

When we woke up, we had 20-minutes to feed her, change her, and get to breakfast at the hotel
before it closed.

So we frantically got her all ready and we went to breakfast in our pajamas... like walking zombies, of course.

When we arrived at 5-minutes to close, all the wait staff were googling over how pretty and tiny
she was.

Our waiter said, "Let's get you guys woke up!" and gave us an entire POT of coff ee.

He knew it was more than just a "one-coff ee-cup" type of morning.

He said he wished he had something for Olivia to sit in, and I said "I'll just hold her, she'll probably start crying if I set her down anywhere," knowing full well what she's capable of after last night.

You know what he said?

"MOMMA KNOWS BEST!"

First time in public someone recognized me as Olivia's Momma!

And it felt so good :-)

8/04/2013

Our Sweet Daughter: Olivia Grace

Adoptive Parents Meet Daughter
Dear Olivia,

You're only a few days old and already you have quite the life story!

On August 2nd at 10:22 in the morning, a sweet momma gave birth to you.

You were 6 lbs 6 oz. and affectionately called, "Lil' bit" in the nursery because you were so tiny with a lil' bit of sass!

Your beautiful momma wanted to give you more than she knew she was able to provide.

So she made a very hard decision to find a family for you.

We're told your momma knew she wanted you to join our family at 1:30 the next morning after she read you our profile more than five times.

She says she wanted to be sure you liked us so she asked you to take a bottle if you wanted us to come and swoop you up into our family.

And that's when you took your bottle.

She says that was her sign.

The next morning after you were born, I got a SURPRISE phone call just as I was getting ready for work.

Your daddy had already gone to work so it was just me and Maggie [your soon-to-be best friend].

I screamed.

"Are you serious?!"

I cried.

I couldn't even talk.

I paced around the house.

Your momma's counselor cried with me on the phone.

The rest is a whirlwind.

I called our adoption consultant, Susan, right away to help us figure out what we needed to do.
Adoptive Parents Meet Daughter
The first priority was getting all the paperwork in order.
Adoptive Parents Meet Daughter
And let me tell ya, that was tough after we received our first photo of you on our cell phones!

I called your Gramma and Grandpa Russell.

Your Gramma Russell let out the loudest scream I've heard in a LONG time!

She yelled to your grandpa who was mowing the lawn, "Kevin, shut the mower off! We're going to have a granddaughter!!"

I called your Aunt Lindee who yelled, "Shut Up!" at least five times before she started believing you were really our little girl.

I told her I needed her to find us flights and a hotel and [of course] a cute out t to bring you home in. She and Uncle Phil got right to town, making sure we had everything we needed.

Your Uncle Joe was at work and your Aunt Jess answered her phone. They were bursting at the seams with excitement.

And your other Grandma and Grandpa got a message from your Dad before I could call them.

They couldn't believe you were going to be their granddaughter, either!
Adoptive Parents Meet Daughter
Lots of people stepped up to help us in a very short amount of time.

Your daddy's parents drove us all the way to Des Moines so we could work on paperwork during the drive.

When we got to Des Moines, a handful of friends were at your Aunt Lindee and Uncle Phil's house with pink champagne and Scratch cupcakes to celebrate!
Adoptive Parents Meet Daughter
It was less than 18-hours from getting that surprise phone call, and we found ourselves up at 2:30 in the morning to catch a flight to meet you!

Your daddy and I only slept an hour.

Everyone warned us it was a sign of what's to come.
Catching Flight to Meet Daughter
Aunt Lindee and Uncle Phil dropped us o ff at the Des Moines Airport at 3:00 Sunday morning!

By the time we landed, we were exhausted.

Our eyes were red.

Our heads hurt.

But we soon forgot about how little sleep we had because we met your birth momma.

And let me tell you, sweetie.

She is BEAUTIFUL inside and out.

She talked about how much she loved you.

How she wanted you to have the BEST family.

One that would love you unconditionally.

We laughed when she told us how you would do somersaults in her tummy until she ate a Kit Kat bar.

And not just a regular Kit Kat bar.

A king-size Kit Kat bar.

[Thatta girl!]

I reassured her you'll fit right in with your new Momma's sweet tooth ;-)
Adopting Our Daughter
We told her how much we already love you.

And how we always will.

And how she will ALWAYS be a part of our family for she has given us the greatest gift of all:

YOU!

Words could never express how happy we are that your story is part of ours.

We are so blessed.

We love you sweet thing.

*THE* Phone Call!

Adoption Match Phone Call
If you can hear screaming and cheers across the country, it's us!

We got THE phone call!

And we couldn't be more excited!

We've been matched with a BABY!

The past 24-hours have been an absolute whirlwind.

Overwhelming.

Crazy.

Absolute chaos.

Chris and I couldn't be happier!

I'll post more details when I can.

In the meantime, we appreciate prayers for safe travels and a smooth clearance process.

We are so grateful for your support - please check back for an official announcement soon!