12/31/2014

Top 5 From 2014

It's hard to believe 2014 is coming to an end.

I swear, time goes faster as a Momma...

I'm so grateful [and humbled] that thousands of you have found friendship and fellowship in this little corner of the world wide web.

Thank you for riding this journey with us!

Here's a look back at the top five posts from This Family's Journey in 2014:

#1 Most-Read Post of 2014: 

Cheers to a happy, healthy 2015!

12/28/2014

Sharing the news, "We're Adopting!"

Alright now....

Before you get all excited, let me tell ya upfront:

WE aren't adopting again [yet...].

But, I just put together an awesome slideshow of 12 creative ways to announce, "We're Adopting!" that's now live on Adoption.com!
Announcing your plans to grow your family through adoption can be so scary.

How will people react?

Will they have a lot of questions?

Will we know how to answer them?
We announced we were adopting with a little help from our friends at Scratch Cupcakery, our favorite local bakery.

Click here to see more creative ways to share the news!

12/27/2014

3 Ways to Beat the Post-Adoption Blues

Adding a child to your family can be a beautiful moment.

The waiting and anticipation are over, and life as you know it will never be the same.

But sometimes, when you close that chapter of anticipation, it can be sad.

Head over to Adoption.com to read about an important topic that not a lot of parents talk about: Post-Adoption Depression.

12/22/2014

To the Mom Who Wanted Nothing For Christmas

To the Mom Who Wanted Nothing For Christmas
To the Mom who wanted nothing this Christmas:

When we got your information from the shelter, we knew God was using us for something bigger this Christmas.

I don't know your exact situation, but I know most families at the shelter you live at have recently escaped domestic violence situations.

When I read about what you and your kids would like on Christmas, my heart hurt for you.

A gift card for an oil change...A rug for the front door...Hand towels...Socks...

I wanted to reach through the packet of information, find you and give you a great big hug.

I wanted to tell you, "It's okay, Momma. We're going to make sure you're taken care of this Christmas."

When I read you wanted your children's needs met first, I knew we had to go all out.

Not just for them.

But for you, too.

My family and I armed ourselves with two carts in the busy aisles of our local Walmart.

We didn't know what was "cool" for a boy, so we found some boys with their family and asked them to help us find "the best" gifts for guys like them.

Apparently, Disney Infinity toys are pretty cool.

We walked down the Barbie aisle and got lost in the Frozen section.

I watched a little girl sing [loudly] "Let it Go! Let it Goooo!" and then interrupt herself to tell me scream, "This is the BEST toy EVERRRRR!"

I didn't even know what it was, but I threw it into the cart.

Everything she touched, I grabbed. Because I knew if this girl loved 'em, so would your daughters.

I know you said you wanted nothing. And I know your caseworker probably required you to put down items on your own "wish list."

But I also know we had to get you more than a clock, rug and a hand towel for Christmas.

I hope you like what we picked out for you.

More than that, I hope you find happiness in watching your kids smile when they open up their gifts. When they look at you and excitedly squeal at the sight of their new toys and clothes.

I don't know where you live, Momma.

I don't even know your name.

But I want you to know, you mean something to our family.

You reminded us this season is much more than just pretty bows and fancy lights on a Christmas tree.

It's about spreading kindness.

Hope.

And comfort to those who need it.

So, Momma...thanks for that reminder.

I hope this Christmas is the best one yet.

With love, gratitude and prayers for a blessed new year ahead...

Related content:
A Special Kind of Christmas Wish
A Holiday Tradition
When Tomorrow Doesn't Come

12/21/2014

Making Memories

Christmas this year is one of those I remember dreaming about when we struggled with infertility.
Olivia is at the age where she looks at everything with such wonder.

Last year, I spent Christmas anchoring newscasts.

So our first Christmas as a family of three consisted of Chris and Olivia visiting me after the noon show for a catered meal in the newsroom.
This year, it's all about making a mess in the kitchen memories with my sweet fam!

We had lots of fun decorating Christmas cookies this weekend.
Olivia was amazed at how "she" could dump sprinkles out of a container onto dozens of sugar cookies [half of which we ate, by the way...].
I love her sense of wonderment and how excited she is to try new things.

And I especially love that she shares her momma's sweet tooth. ;)
But what I love most this year is that I have time to make these memories with my family.

Merry Christmas, from my "sweet" family to yours!

12/17/2014

Wisdom From My 15-Month Old Daughter

Tonight as I was putting my daughter to bed, I was worn.

Tired.

Exhausted.

Life has been busy.

But here she was.

Wearing her bonnet, all curled up in her fleece pajamas, snug in her crib...and giggling up a storm.

Seriously.

This girl had a case of the giggles!

Then it hit me.

It's so easy to get caught up in work, meetings, voicemails, laundry piles, dirty dishes, unpaid bills, emails...that we sometimes miss these moments.

These are moments we'll never get back.

Take some time to slow down.

Right now.

Look around you.

Breathe in.

Smile.

Appreciate your surroundings.

And remember, sometimes it's okay to stay up an extra five minutes to just giggle.

12/16/2014

Six Ways to Show Birth Parents You Care

With the holidays coming up, there's no better time to think of the individuals who make brave decisions with an adoption plan.

I just submitted a piece for Adoption.com with six ways to show birth parents you care this holiday season.

Click here to read the suggestions.

Adoptive parents: How are you celebrating your child's first families this holiday season?


12/10/2014

Making the "Owie" Better..Just Got Better

When your children get hurt, you'll do anything to make their "owie" better, right?
Can you see Olivia's bandage on her forehead?

Look closely.

It's not your average Band-Aid.

Actually, it's not a Band-Aid at all.

Did you know Band-Aid's "skin color" bandages match only white skin?

Yeh. Not cool, Band-Aid.

I contacted the company about a year ago to express my concerns, and a spokesperson responded with a generic, We-appreciate-your-feedback email.

Little did I know that while I reeled with frustration over the lack of diversity in Band-Aids, there was a man -- a dad in a transracial family built by adoption -- finding a solution for bandage equality.
 Meet Tru-Colour Bandages: The real skin colored bandages.
These work just like any other bandage, except they match Olivia's beautiful skin tone!
And they come in this convenient waterproof bag instead of a flimsy box, so it's easy to slide in my purse or Olivia's diaper bag.

Making the "owie" better, just got better, dontcha think?

12/09/2014

10 Ways to Support a New Adoptive Family


Bringing home a new child can be one of the most exciting moments for a family.
But when a family grows through adoption, people may not know exactly how to best support them. I've searched high and dry, talked with other adoptive families and taken our own experiences into account to come up with a list of the top 10 ways you can support a new adoptive family.
Click the link below:

12/08/2014

5 Tips for the World's Relatives: Infertility during the holidays

Infertility Advice During Holidays
It's no secret my husband and I are infertility survivors.

We have found so much joy in growing our family through adoption, and we wouldn't trade it for the world.

While we're not grateful for the hellish years of becoming human pin cushions and doctors' experiments, we are incredibly grateful for what struggling through infertility has taught us.

Because so many of us who are diagnosed with infertility suffer silently, I'm going to use this blog post as a platform in hopes it reaches ALL of the world's relatives this holiday season.

First, relatives -- let me tell you this:

If you don't know anyone suffering with infertility around you, look again.

According to Resolve.org, it's estimated that 1 in 8 couples have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy.

One in eight couples, you guys.

You can't always see it, but infertility hits close to home for ALL of us.

So, relatives -- while your family members are likely happy for your pregnancy -- let me give you some advice from your [infertile] family members and friends who may be too deep in the trenches to talk about this over the holidays:

1. Don't ask 'em when they're going to have kids.

And if you do ask your second cousin once-removed when she's going to have kids, be prepared for a comment like, "Ummmm maybe when the sperm analysis comes back with a clean wash and my Fallopian tubes are clear after next month's Hysterosalphingogram."

In all seriousness, though, when you ask someone who has been diagnosed with infertility when they're going to have kids, it can be really, really painful.

If you don't know whether your cousins are having trouble getting pregnant, then don't ask 'em in the first place.

It's a personal question, after all.

2. Don't launch a Grammy-winning surprise pregnancy announcement in front of your 30+ relatives. 

Congratulations on your pregnancy!

I'm sure the majority of the family will be thrilled,

But based on the statistics, there's at least FOUR couples in your group of 30+ relatives that have been impacted by infertility in one way, shape or form.

If you know one of them and still want to do a surprise announcement so everyone can see the Grandma-to-be's reaction, give that person a head's up.

They'll appreciate the courtesy and privacy to process it on their own terms.

3. Understand your relatives may not be happy.

Infertility is a hard diagnosis to live with.

But battling infertility during a season hallmarked with joy and happiness is sometimes unbearable.

Allow your family members time to grieve the loss of the family they wished they had by now.

You may not understand why they're angry or sad, and that's okay.

Please refrain from telling them how they should feel this Christmas.

Choosing joy is hard when you're in a hard place.

4. Don't complain about being pregnant.

Your infertile relatives know you can't drink the spiked apple cider because you're pregnant, but please don't give a dramatic play-by-play of your swollen ankles and alcoholic craving.

Remember, there is someone in your midst who would happily take on any "price-tag" of being pregnant; they'd happily forego the spiked cider, and they'd willingly accept those mornings in the bathroom hovering over the toilet with morning sickness without complaining.

The best [and I mean the best] thing you can do is embrace and treasure the gift of pregnancy you've been given.

5. Give them a hug.

Sometimes, people don't know exactly what to say to those struggling with infertility.

That's okay.

Because sometimes, the best thing you can do is listen.

Or just give 'em a hug.

12/04/2014

Crock Pot Chicken Tacos

Alright, friends.

This could be the easiest, most delicious dinner recipe on the face of the planet!

Crock Pot Chicken Tacos
2 small chicken breast
1 can red enchilada sauce
1 packet of taco seasoning
1/2 cup cheese

Cook chicken in crock pot and shred.
Mix in enchilada sauce, taco seasoning and cheese.

Enjoy!

11/30/2014

Wedding Ring for Sale: What You'd Give for a Family

Remember when I told you about the great opportunity that landed in my lap to write for Adoption.com?

Friends, I'm now a published contributor on the top adoption advocacy website in the country!

I hope you'll take a look at this piece and be inspired at the lengths people are willing go to grow their family through adoption.
PS: Following the original news story, the family received more than $4,000 in donations. A local business matched those funds, and the television station reports she will now keep her wedding ring. [My faith in humanity is restored!]

11/25/2014

Keep Dreaming, Daughter. The [ugly] truth of our world is painful


It's midnight.

I can't sleep.

So I've got my laptop plopped up on my lap in bed.

I'm sad.

I'm angry.

And I feel like few people understand why my thoughts and anxieties are nearly suffocating me.

Michael Brown, an unarmed teen in Ferguson, Missouri, was shot and killed by a police officer in broad daylight.

While the officer-involved shooting may be justified, how our country has responded to this tragedy is not okay.

And my heart is hurting.

Listen.

My husband spent 7+ years risking his life every single day as a police officer in a dangerous city plagued with guns, gang violence and daily homicides.

He even wrote me a letter and tucked it inside a safe in our closet in case he didn't come home at night.

I love and respect the men and women who have committed their lives to enforce laws and public safety.

We have many friends and family members who have chosen this vocation, and I know they do their very best.

But, you guys.

This system that these men and women are a part of is flawed.

This system was never designed to protect the oppressed.

This system was never designed to protect people who are different than the majority of people who work for it.

Whether you acknowledge the racial and ethnic disparities in our country is your choice.

But if you choose to ignore that black people -- who make up 13 percent of our country's population -- AND constitute for 28 percent of all arrests, 40 percent of the population behind bars and 43 percent of the people on death row (National Council on Crime and Delinquency) -- shame on you for turning your cheek.

No matter our personal beliefs about Ferguson, we should grieve the tragedy of systematic racism running rampant in our country right now.

To be completely honest, as I reflect on the riots and ignorant comments of people who think the events in Ferguson have nothing to do with race and everything to do with a lack of good parenting or addiction to drugs or a "thugs-breeding-thugs" lifestyle...I worry.

I worry about my raising my beautiful black daughter in a country where so many refuse to recognize the deck of cards stacked against her because of her skin color.

The worry itself is a heavy, heavy weight for me to carry.

Yet I write this knowing full-well it's nothing compared to living it.

And tonight as my daughter lay sleeping soundly in her crib next door, I want her to keep dreaming.

I want her to keep dreaming of whatever it is she grins about in her sleep.

Because when she wakes up, she'll eventually recognize the [sometimes] ugly reality of inequality that we live in.

Look.

There are some amazing things about this country -- the land of the free.

But in moments like these, I wonder if I'll be enough for my daughter.

I worry if my love for her will be enough to outweigh the criminalized lens so many people will view her through.

It's a reality a lot of my friends and family members don't have to think about.

But it's a harsh one we all should try to understand.

Please, friends...

Talk to your children about race.

Teach them about inequality.

Be intentional with exposing your children to a diverse group of people who are successful and good role models.

Help our children see that good people come in all races, all ethnicities and all walks of life.

As parents and mentors and aunts and uncles and grandparents and neighbors and members of the clergy and waitresses and emergency personnel -- and whoever you are -- WE have the power to DO something about this.

Our children are learning from Ferguson.

They are listening to us talk about what is happening in Ferguson.

Our children are hearing the jokes and rants about Ferguson.

Please don't pretend racial inequality doesn't exist.

Don't pretend hopelessness and utter despair aren't realities for people right now.

Use Ferguson as a springboard for a bigger conversation.

Remind them that violence isn't the answer.

Explain to them that while destruction and vandalism and violence seem counterproductive, people are frustrated. And when people are frustrated because they feel no one listens and no one cares and no one understands -- they respond by getting attention the best way they know how.

Sure, some people's responses may be a bit misguided, but when you feel like you're powerless and voiceless -- when you feel like your life doesn't matter and you've reached a level of hopelessness and complete despair -- what are your options?

We are all influenced by our environment.

But it's imperative to recognize and understand that our "environment" in this country oppresses people and fails people every. single. day.

So please.

For the sake of my daughter...

For the sake of all children...

For the sake of our entire country...

Seek out the oppressed -- the homeless, the hungry, the black, the white, the Hispanic, the mentally ill, the orphans...

SPEAK UP FOR THEM.

STAND UP FOR THEM.

Many people in our country are hurting right now.

And when one person hurts, we all should.

11/24/2014

I've Grown in Ways I Never Expected: An adoptive mom shares what she's learned

Courtesy: Shonya Klein.
Meet the Kleins.

Shonya and her husband grew their family of four to a family of eight through adoption.

I'm thrilled to have Shonya share what she's learned about adoption over the past 10-years.
Here she is in her own words...

1. Adoption has been a tool the Lord has used to grow me in ways I never would've expected.

Adopting two sons and two daughters has given me the opportunity to step outside my comfort zone like nothing else every has.

I learned to trust the Lord to provide rather than rely on myself -- financially, in parenting, in loving others, endurance in the waiting season -- you name it.

I have had the opportunity to interact with people who are different from me in the way they think, and in the way they live.

And I've learned that they are people, just as I am.

We really aren't so different.

Through adoption, I'm learning more of what it means to love.

I'm learning to tap into the well of love the Lord has for me and share it with others; not in my own strength, but in His.
2. Not everyone sees adoption as a positive option. We need to be sure and secure in what we're doing and why we're doing it, and not be discouraged by the naysayers.

Adoptee blogs and online adoption groups can be scary and make me think we've done a terrible thing -- that we've ruined our children's lives by bringing them into our family.

I think there are things to learn from these resources, but I've learned to take them with a "grain of salt," consider their worldview, and be sure to examine their views through the lens of my own worldview.

Some people we know have expressed concerns about us adopting.

"You don't know what you're getting," they tell us while predicting rebellion for our children and turmoil for our family.

We've been scorned by some who think adopting is a way of showing off or doing deeds in a way that they'll be seen by men.

We've learned to look to the Lord for our strength in the face of disagreement.
3. Adoption doesn't end with bringing the child home.

Yes, "adopted" is a past-tense verb, but parenting a child who was adopted is very much a present and ongoing verb (let's scrub off those old grammar studies -- is it the present perfect progressive verb tense that says an action has been going on, is currently taking place and will continue in the future?).

We have learned the importance of maintaining a life book for our children to help answer their questions about how they came to be a part of our family.

We have learned to communicate with our children's birth parents in our open adoptions, and to put forth the effort to stay in contact through letters, phone calls, Facebook and visits to nurture their relationships.

Adoption has brought different gifts and personalities -- and even challenges -- than a biological family, and we are learning how to best develop, equip, and "train them in the way they should go."

As two of our children have different racial backgrounds from my husband and me, we have had the opportunity to learn how to properly care for their black skin and hair.

We are learning about exposure to their genetic culture and how to prepare them to live as black men and women in society.

Before adopting, I planned to parent any children through adoption just like I parent our biological children, but I've learned it's not just like raising a biological child.

In many ways, it's the same -- yes.

But there is an additional layer, and I am learning how to navigate it.

Most of all, I've learned that adoption is about growing our hearts and our family, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.


As part of National Adoption Month, This Family's Journey is featuring families impacted by adoption and what they've learned along the way. Wanna join in? Click here to connect. Wanna read all the guest posts from National Adoption Month? Click here.

11/19/2014

Their Child Is Loved: A Birth Mother Shares Her Heart

When we announced our plans to adopt, we had no idea birth mommas were in our circle of friends, family and colleagues.

A friend named Lisa chose life [and an adoptive family] for her daughter 27-years ago, and she turned out to be one of our biggest supporters, cheering us on our own adoption journey every step of the way.
Here are three things this beautiful, brave birth momma has learned about adoption...

1. Adoption is difficult.

For the birth mom, it is more than likely one of the most difficult choices she will make.

Holding your precious child for the first time after being born, and seeing how beautiful she is makes it even more difficult.

You hope that you are doing the right thing.

I love my daughter, and I think of her everyday -- even 27 years later.

For the adoptive parents, the home inspections and forms they are required to fill out must be stressful and exhausting.

I'm sure that waiting for the call that you have been chosen to be parents to a precious child -- and then hoping the birth parents don't change their minds -- can cause a lot of stress and anxiety.

2. People are judgmental when it comes to adoption.

Birth mothers get put down and get many praises.

Friends, family, and perfect strangers, who -- when they find out about the choice you have made -- will give you their nasty opinion about your choice without even listening to what the birth parents have to say.

Thankfully, there are those who have a special place for adoption in their heart and will praise you and give you a much-needed hug.

3. The most important thing is that no matter how difficult adoption is, or how judgmental people can be, it is all done out of love for a beautiful, precious child who God created.

I see adoptive parents interacting with their children and one thing is quite clear:

Their child IS LOVED.

Thank God for adoption, the wonderful adoptive parents, and the birth parents!

As part of National Adoption Month, This Family's Journey is featuring families impacted by adoption and what they've learned along the way. Wanna join in? Click here to connect. Wanna read all the guest posts from National Adoption Month? Click here.

11/17/2014

First a Gift, then a Giver: A Birth Momma's Journey

I've met a lot of people in my life who have impacted me in profound ways.

Miranda is one of them.

I worked with Miranda in my previous "life" as a television news reporter.

I learned how adoption impacted her in BIG ways.

And I'm excited she's comfortable sharing part of her story with you all.
Here's Miranda in her own words...

I am fortunate to have been touched by adoption in a full-circle way.

My birth mother was 17 when she chose to make an adoption plan for me.

She was young and confused, but fortunately not alone.

My adoptive mother -- her sister -- had recently been told that she wasn’t able to have children.

While I was not raised in a traditional open adoption (I didn’t learn who my biological parents were until the age of 16), I was raised knowing my story and being taught that adoption is a wonderful, selfless act of giving.

Even though my family gave me a wonderful life, I managed to get myself into some questionable
situations as a teen.

I found myself pregnant at the age of 16.

I was in no way prepared for this, so I decided it would be best to place my child for adoption.

I chose the perfect family for her, and I involved them in every part of my pregnancy possible, even having them fly in from Ohio the week I was to be induced.

The whole nine months, I knew the child growing inside me was not my own, but a gift for a well-deserving family who had been to hell and back in search of completion.

When I delivered my daughter, I had a uterine inversion (a rare condition affecting 1 in 3,000 pregnancies).

I lost nearly all the blood in my body and almost died.

When I came to, I was told I was fortunate to be alive and that I would likely have no more children.

Under the advice of my family and the adoptive family, the decision was made to keep my daughter.

I lived with the guilt of “stealing” this family’s child for a year, until I received a letter from them stating they were due to deliver their own miracle baby in December of that year.

God really does work in mysterious ways!

The statistics proved to be wrong anyway...
By the age of 21, I was a single mother of two, pregnant yet again and alone.

I was barely able to care for myself and the children I had.

Feeling hopeless, I turned to my family and let them know I was again considering adoption.

Of course we knew people who were unable to have children, as this is a terrible issue for many couples everywhere, so like my birth mother I was blessed to be able to help family members.
My aunt and uncle had always wanted a child, but were unable to conceive.

I’m blessed to watch him grow as a healthy, beautiful, and sweet boy.
As someone who has had a full-circle adoption experience, here are three things I’d like others to know about adoption:

1. Adoption is not certain. 

I’ve seen and heard many stories of grief in the adoption process. As I’ve shown above, anything can happen.

If you are looking to adopt, do not let your heart be broken, do not lose hope.

All things come in God’s time.

2. Adoption does not hurt. 

When a pregnant woman knows that she will not raise the child she is giving birth to, the giving is a joyous event—not a loss.

If you are pregnant and considering adoption, do not be afraid to let go.

No matter what your reason, do not feel guilty.

The greatest love is shown in the act of giving a child a wonderful life, whether that is with you or a different family.

3. The rewards are immeasurable --on both sides. 

There is literally nothing in the world that gives me more joy than seeing my children happy.

Besides maybe knowing that I was able to give another mother that joy. ;)


As part of National Adoption Month, This Family's Journey is featuring families impacted by adoption and what they've learned along the way. Wanna join in? Click here to connect. Wanna read all the guest posts from National Adoption Month? Click here.

11/16/2014

Homemade Whole Wheat Pancakes

I have a ton of whole wheat flour in our pantry.

[I'm not even sure why I have it...]

Being that it's the hubb's birthday [YAY!], we went all out scrounged up ingredients on hand to make some yummy whole wheat pancakes for a birthday breakfast.

Whole Wheat Pancakes
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 egg
1 tbsp. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. oil
1 cup milk

In a bowl. whisk together all ingredients.

Spray griddle with non-stick cooking spray (or use grease from sausage/bacon).

Pour batter onto hot griddle and cook until golden brown.

11/14/2014

An Awesome Opportunity

Those of you who follow me on Facebook already know the news:

I'm officially the newest writer for Adoption.com, the #1 ranked adoption website in the country, with more than 4-million readers each month!

Yeh.

Four-million readers each month!

There are only a few dozen writers for this website in the country, so to have this opportunity is a pretty big honor.

Rest assured, This Family's Journey will still be here -- I'll occasionally share some of my work on this blog, too.

I'm so excited to continue advocating for adoption on a much larger scale, and I'm thrilled to have you along for the ride...

11/12/2014

A New Love: An Adoptive Family Shares What They've Learned

Meet the Batterns.

Josh and Erika are dear friends of ours.

Shortly after we brought our daughter home, they came over for coffee to talk about adoption.

Fast forward a few short months, and they were on a flight hundreds of miles from home to meet their [adorable] son, Nolan!
Here are three things they've learned along the way...
Three Things I've learned about Adoption:

1. People are very curious and have many questions about adoption.

2. Until we met our son, we never knew we could love someone so much the very moment we met them.

3. Adoptive families are incredibly supportive of one another.

As part of National Adoption Month, This Family's Journey is featuring families impacted by adoption and what they've learned along the way. Wanna join in? Click here to connect. Wanna read all the guest posts from National Adoption Month? Click here.

11/11/2014

Gramma's Chicken Noodle Soup

The cold weather is officially here.

This means a couple of things...

1- I'm stoked I don't have to stand outside and do the TV reporter stuff.

2- It's time to bust out a tried-and-true family favorite:
My [easier] version of Gramma Elsie's Chicken Noodle Soup:

2 chicken breasts
2 celery stalks, diced
7-8 small carrots, diced
1 large onion, diced
3 quarts chicken broth
Noodles (thin, homemade noodles are the best)

Cook chicken in crock pot all day and shred; pour chicken broth in a large pot with diced vegetables. Add shredded chicken and noodles. Bring entire pot to a boil until noodles and vegetables are cooked.

Enjoy this family favorite, friends!

It's oh-so easy and yummy [and it's bound to warm up the house on a cold winter day!]

11/10/2014

Superman Was Adopted: A Momma Shares Her Heart

 
Meet the H. Family.

"We have an open adoption --  what we consider a best case scenario," said Erika who is a mom (and aunt!) through adoption.

Here's Erika in her own words...
Three Things I've learned about Adoption:

1. Biology means zilch when it comes to love.  

It is strange to me that so many people say if they can't have 'their own' kids, they don't want any.

The person that you are married to isn't biologically related to you and you love them, so what is the difference?

We already knew this wouldn't be any issue to us as we have a lot of family that we don't share any biology with, and it doesn't make us any less a family.

Now having our daughter just drives the point home.
"I am one billion percent sure I could never love a biological child more than my daughter.  

She is the greatest thing to ever come into our lives, 
and we would never pick a different way for her to have come."

2. Adoption is hard.

I'm sure a lot of people know that, but people say stupid things like how we had it easy that I didn't go through the labor and delivery.

I will say that feeling good after her birth was helpful, but we had two failed adoptions which is very painful.

We were inspected and questioned and had zero privacy with our agency.

We waited for about 18 months with every phone call and email being full of hope - and you can drive yourself insane wondering why people get picked before you.

That being said, its so totally worth it.

We knew it would be, but still a long process to get there.
3. Adoption isn't what you see on TV.  

Not that I expected it would be, but man there are some crazy examples.

For instance on Friends when the agency picked the wrong couple or when an eight-year old found out from strangers that he was adopted.

The show Once Upon A Time with the birth mom and adoptive mom fighting all the time and letting a 10 year old pick who he lives with.

It is also not the sensationalized news stories where the child will end up back with the birth family.

The news doesn't report the thousands of adoptions that happen smoothly -- just as they don't report on the flights that made it to their destination without issue.

It would be so much more helpful to see positive examples.

As my daughter grows I don't want her to see these things and think that her life isn't stable.

Adoption is a beautiful way to grow a family.

It is two families coming together and loving one little person.
"I know if my daughter had been raised by her birth family 
she would have been happy, healthy, cared for and loved, 
but I have the incredible privilege to be her mom, 
and I'm so grateful for it!"

As part of National Adoption Month, This Family's Journey is featuring families impacted by adoption and what they've learned along the way. Wanna join in? Click here to connect. Wanna read all the guest posts from National Adoption Month? Click here.

11/05/2014

Ours for 28 Years: An Adoptive Mom Shares What She's Learned

Meet the Gambles.

Judy and her husband were eager to help shine a light on adoption after adopting their daughter almost 30 years ago from a hospital in Dallas, Texas.
"We got her as soon as her birth mother left the hospital without her. So she's been ours since she was four days old," she said.
Three Things I've learned about Adoption:

1.You CAN survive infertility and still build a family.   

2. Even if you do not physically give birth to a child, you can experience unconditional love for them.  

3. I wanted to create a close Mother/Daughter bond with a baby girl like I had with my own mother, and we have achieved that. It's so cherished by both of us.


As part of National Adoption Month, This Family's Journey is featuring families impacted by adoption and what they've learned along the way. Wanna join in? Click here to connect. Wanna read all the guest posts from National Adoption Month? Click here.

11/04/2014

What I Learned From a Man Over Coffee

It was 7:45 in the morning.

I skipped going to the office and went straight to the coffee shop with my laptop in tote.

I logged on to the WiFi and sifted through email after email.

Request for this, request for that. Explanation for this. Don't understand that.

Blah.
Blah.
Blah.

I sipped chugged my pumpkin spice latte.

[Best coping mechanism for stress ever. Just sayin'!]

And then he walked toward me.

An elderly man holding a mug of coffee walked very slowly toward me. 

"This seat taken?" he asked.

"It's all yours!" I said with a smile, leeching onto every distraction to keep me from the mounds of work piled before me.

"You working on school?" he asked as he plopped down into the chair next to me.

"Nah, I'm way past my school years," I told him with a smile, secretly praising God my frazzled self somehow appeared to be young enough to even be in school.

And I kept working.

Stuff to do, people. 
Stuff to do. 
Not enough time to do all this stuff I have to do.

The man sat and looked around, gradually sipping his cup of coffee with a grin that never left his face.

He grabbed a newspaper.

"Nice day out today, eh?" he said sarcastically as rain splattered against the windows behind us.

"Yeh, nice day to be inside!" I replied.

"Whatcha working on?" he asked.

"Oh, just a few different projects..." I told him, avoiding the minute details of the load before me.

"Yeh, the wife dropped me off for coffee late, so everyone left. But I think I'll stay here awhile...read the paper," he said. "Only thing I got planned for tonight is a steak fry!"

Must be rough, I thought...to be able to just sit and enjoy LIFE with a cup 'a Joe on a rainy day inside a coffee shop because there's nothing better to do...

And then it dawned on me.

Is there anything better to do than to enjoy the life we've been given?

Even on the dreariest, stormiest days, we can -- and should -- find something to smile about.

Shoot.

That pumpkin spice latte was something I should've been smiling about.

It was ah-mazing.

Instead, I was focused on the stress piled up in front of me.

Why?

Because it was in-my-face, perhaps.

But today, friends, let's do this:

Let's look past the clouds to recognize the sunshine.

Let's pop open an umbrella and walk through life's storms a bit easier.

And for Pat's sake -- that guy I met at the coffee shop -- let's appreciate a good cup of coffee.

If we spend our lives focusing on the challenges and bumps and roadblocks, we lose sight of the goodness right in front of us.

11/03/2014

The Faith Journey that is Adoption [+ Foster Care]

Meet The Holts.

A beautiful family built by miracles.

"Our family has been impacted by adoption in a BIG way," Megan said.
Three years after giving birth to their son Reddington, the Holts welcomed Milannah into their home through foster care.

Here's Megan in her own words...

Adoption was something I dreamed about for years, but it was one of those BIG. SCARY. DREAMS. that I never knew would exist beyond a dream.

We entered into the world of foster care as a way to help children.

We knew that for such a time as this, a child would be living under our roof and would need warm meals, clean clothes and plenty of hugs and kisses which we could provide.

After a couple of years we changed our license to accept a 0-1 year old, and within three weeks, we welcomed Milannah Joy to our family as our foster daughter.

We fell head-over-heels in love with this 5 lb baby.
We tried to hold back the love, but there was no way to stop the flood gates from opening and letting love pour in.

We named Milannah when we was six months old using "Minnie Ears" on a trip to Disney World with our son.
You can imagine the surprise when we returned there about two years later and we received a call for a newborn baby girl while standing in line for Aladdin's Magic Carpet Ride.
[For this reason, among others, Disney World holds a special place in our hearts!]

A couple days after returning home from Orlando -- on June 6, 2014 -- we welcomed our sweet Georgia into our family.

She is currently in the foster care system and has stolen all of our hearts!

Of course it would be a HUGE honor and blessing if we're able to adopt her, too. 

For now, we stand strong in our faith believing that the Lord already has her future designed whether that is with or without us as her family.

Trusting in the Lord is how we get through every single day of this faith journey.
Three Things I've learned about Adoption:

1. Adoption has opened up a whole new world for our family and friends regarding trans-racial families, relationships and love.

Although this is becoming more and more accepted as foster care and adoption are more openly discussed in society today, no one knows how they -- or others around them -- will react to this type of blend.

We are grateful and blessed to have the love and support of almost all of our family and friends in this area.

When someone is faced with a newborn baby that needs love, prayers, attention and their basic needs met just like any other little one, the attraction is undeniable.

2. Foster care and adoption are a HUGE FAITH journey.

Our faith has been built more through this process than anything else we've encountered in our lives.

We continue to stand on the Lord's promises through our journey with sweet Georgia, just like we did with Milannah Joy.

Every day can be a battle of the mind!

For us, it was -- and still is -- constant thinking and wondering if we would have to say goodbye, or if these girls will be a part of our forever family -- our greatest desire.

And every single day, I stand upon the promise that the Lord knows, and He will not fail us.

He knows what our future looks like as a family.

He knows our heart's desire, and so we trust in Him knowing that He is good.

"Delight yourself in the Lord and 
He will give you the desires of your heart."
-Psalm 37:4

3. Adoption is so different than the birth of a biological child.

Both are AMAZING.

Both are WONDERFUL blessings.

Both are MIRACLES.

It's just different, and it's so hard to describe and put into words unless you're talking to someone else that's adopted and experienced it.

I found this quote that I think sums it up perfectly:

"The pure joy that comes from a rescue 
and a ransom of a child's life 
is probably the most satisfying thing 
you could imagine."

I believe this with my whole heart.

I desire for our family's testimony to encourage others to embrace orphans and brokenness; to look at "family" in a whole new way because [after all] LOVE makes a family.

We are so overwhelmed by what the Lord has done in our family's life.

It's almost too much sometimes.

We've learned that anything worth having is worth fighting for.

The Lord has been faithful over and over again in this area.

"...and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven 
and pour out so much blessing 
that there will not be room enough to store it..."
-Malachi

As part of National Adoption Month, This Family's Journey is featuring families impacted by adoption and what they've learned along the way. Wanna join in? Click here to connect. Wanna read all the guest posts from National Adoption Month? Click here.