From Tyler: Almost 3 years ago, I became a momma for the first time through adoption. The first time I saw my daughter’s beautiful face and heard her sweet cry, my heart was forever hers. As I held her in my arms our first few days together, I understood the phrase, “love makes a family” in a deep and powerful way.
14 months later, our son was born and lovingly placed in our arms. In the hospital, as I looked down at his precious face all nestled into my chest, my heart and my love instantly doubled.
Adoption brought me my first two babies and fulfilled my longing for motherhood in the ways I had always imagined. Motherhood may have come to me in an unexpected way, but my love I have for my children is the most natural and deep love I’ve ever experienced. Adoption is a huge part of our story, but it doesn’t define our family. Love defines our family. Isabel and Noah may not share my DNA, but that does not limit my love or my bond with them. They are my children, my light and my world! I could not imagine our lives or our family without them! Years ago, I could not see how God could be using infertility for my good, but now I praise Him for using it to lead us to adoption and to our babies.
I am now pregnant with our third miracle baby after five years of infertility! I am so excited to be experiencing pregnancy for the first time and eagerly await the day I hold our second baby boy and third child in my arms. It is very surreal to be experiencing pregnancy and it feels like our journey to grow our family has come full circle. Pregnancy has also caused me to cherish my older children even more, because I understand in a new way what a miracle it is that they are ours! I am grateful and humbled that we were chosen by their birth mothers and by the Lord to be their parents. I love how God has moved over the years in powerful ways to redefine our definition of love, family and to reveal more of His heart to us.
As I experience pregnancy for the first time, I have also experienced many emotions. In the beginning of my pregnancy especially, I held my big babies extra close and wondered how having a biological child would affect them. Would this baby ever cause them to question our love for them? Will their little hearts hurt when they begin to understand that they didn’t grow in my belly? Would others treat this child differently than Izzy and Noah? I know it is natural to have these fears and concerns, especially as a mother whose heart beats for her babies! Having a biological child will bring a new dynamic into our family, and we are committed to meeting all questions and challenges as a family united by love. I know God will give us the grace and love to shepherd each of our children’s hearts as they grow up to understand their beautifully unique stories.
One thing that has been such a comfort to my momma heart over the past few months is seeing how much Izzy and Noah already love their baby brother. Isabel rubs my tummy, sings to her baby brother and gives him daily kisses. Noah will come up to me, pull up my shirt and exclaim, “baby!” Their baby brother hasn’t even arrived, yet they are already forming a beautiful bond with him.
We are over the moon about the newest addition to our family, as we should be. Our excitement over this pregnancy and baby does not threaten or diminish our love for Izzy and Noah. Each of our precious children is a miracle and answer to prayer. Our biological baby is no more our “own” child than Izzy and Noah are. It’s so important to us for people to understand this! We are also blessed to be surrounded by family, friends and a community that loves each of our sweet babies so well. I am grateful that many truly understand our deep love for each of our children. I am thankful that most people in our lives do not compare our children’s stories or view one way of adding to our family as being “better” than another. That’s how it should be.
Pregnancy and adoption are each a beautiful miracle. We love celebrating and embracing the stories of how each of our children came to us. The deepest prayer of our hearts is for our children all grow up knowing how longed for, loved and special they are. I am soaking up every part of pregnancy, and look forward to the day I can hold all three of my babies in my arms!
You may continue following Tyler's adoption and birth journey over on her website The Adventures of Baby K.
Oh beautiful momma-to-be...I know this holiday is hard. I know just the thought of enduring another Mother's Day without your baby cuts to the greatest depths of your soul & brings out emotions you've fought so hard to keep at bay. I know it brings up questions in your heart, magnifies your longing & presses on your deepest vulnerabilities.
The delays, the waiting, the "nos" & "not yets"...the desperate prayers of "When Lord?" "How much longer Lord?" & "Lord, I am so weary of waiting"...I know it's all weighing heavy on your heart this wk. I know you are desperately ready to have news of your little one. I know you're so tired of the paperwork, the background checks & the required hoops. I know when you're waiting to hear back about an adoption situation, you check your email countless times a day. I know you're weary of the long days, weeks, months or years without news. I know when you lay your head down at night you pray for, imagine & dream about the sacred day you finally meet your little one.
I hope & pray the people close to you make you feel seen, loved & celebrated for your beautiful momma heart this Mother's Day. I hope they tell you this, but just in case they don't: You are already a fantastic momma. Your strength, your determination & your love for your future children is beautiful.
Today, even if you don't feel seen or celebrated, I want you to know you are. You are honored by me & by the many other mommas blessed by adoption who have gone before you. We know firsthand how hard Mother's Day can be when you are still in the wait. We are all holding you in our hearts, lifting you up in prayer & rooting for you. Most importantly, you are seen, loved & celebrated by our Heavenly Father who knows your momma heart better than anyone.
One day you will experience beauty from ashes...oh how I pray it's soon! When you hold your own child in your arms for the first time, you will be so overwhelmed by the Lord's goodness & perfect timing. On that day, you will understand the reason for your wait in a new way. You will understand redemption in a deeper way. The desperate longing you feel for your babies now will translate into a deep appreciation for the gift of motherhood once your child is in your arms. The absolute miracle of motherhood will never be lost on you.
Sweet sister, as someone who has stood where you stand, allow me speak truth to you today...let me remind you that His timing is never late, or early...it's always perfect. He has not forsaken you, He has not forgotten you. He is with you & has gone before you. He has plans for you & a purpose for your wait. He is with you today. He has joy for you today. He has hope for you today. He is enough for you today. I hope you will hold these truths close to your heart this Mother's Day.
I am praying for your heart this week...I am rejoicing today for what the Lord has done, is doing & will do in your life. I am praying for you to be filled with hope today as you set your eyes on the One who makes all things possible!
Thinking of you & holding you in my heart,
"Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” -Luke 1:45
From Tyler: I love talking & writing about my love for adoption! When we started our adoption journey in 2014, the Lord led me to start our blog: theadventuresofbabyk.blogspot.com & Instagram account: @theadventuresofbabyk. Over the past few years, we've added to our family by adoption twice. Along the way, I've shared about the joys, challenges, blessings & sensitivities that come along with adoption. So many people have connected with, been encouraged by & have even been led to adopt after following our story!
I've learned a lot about how to talk about adoption honestly, passionately, appropriately & sensitively. I've researched, read, learned from other bloggers & mommas, heard from adoptees & listened to the Lord's leading on this topic. I'm still learning all the time & by no means do I always get it right, but I do feel like I have a good handle on this topic at this point in our journey. The purpose of this post is share with y'all about the importance of protecting your child's privacy & story when talking about adoption, as well as give you some examples of how to answer those inappropriate adoption comments you're sure to get from people.
Like I said, I really do love shouting my love for adoption from the rooftops! We are so proud & so blessed by how our children became a part of our family. Over the past few years, as I've written & spoken about adoption, I've come to realize it's important to have some boundaries when sharing about such a complex & deeply personal topic.
One important way to establish boundaries is by acknowledging the difference between our stories & our children's stories. Our journey to adopting our children is ours to share about. I love being an open book about what the adoption process was like, how my faith was stretched & deepened, obstacles & challenges we faced & how incredibly beautiful & moving the whole journey was. However, we believe most of the intimate details of our children's story, biological family, background & the circumstances surrounding their adoption are theirs to share -if they choose to- as they get older. Our children did not have control over how their stories started, but they should have control over how the details of their stories are shared!
If you've adopted or fostered, you probably know that our families receive lots of questions! Our families often look different, and people are naturally curious, so this is to be expected. In the beginning, when faced with questions about our children's stories, there were times when I shared more than I would share now. I soon recognized the importance of protecting my child's privacy when it comes to these types of conversations! When answering questions about adoption, our motivation must always always always be our child's best interest, not satisfying other's curiosity. Never feel obligated or pressured to share more than you're comfortable with or more than what you feel is best for your family & your child!
I answer questions about adoption & my children's stories in a variety of ways depending on the boundaries we've established, the specific question, my relationship with the person, the context of the question & the person's tone/attitude. For the most part, people we encounter speak positively about adoption, but too frequently we still hear negative/careless language or comments. When something is said that doesn't sit right with me, I usually pause, take a breath & then respond with emphasis on the correct phrasing. I try to give lots of grace with a dose of education when this happens, because I'm well aware that even with the best intentions, I definitely haven't always gotten it "right" either. Until adoption is an intimate part of your life, you can't truly understand how important it is to speak about all things adoption with respectful language!
When navigating tricky adoption conversations, I always try my best to represent Christ well. Sometimes it's important to defend, correct & educate. Sometimes we must choose to forgive & extend grace. Sometimes it's appropriate to ignore the question, change the subject or just walk away. It's always important to keep our child's best interest in mind!
When responding to a question that's too personal or sensitive, it's perfectly ok, and often even important to say, "We don't share that information." "That's private." "This isn't a topic I am comfortable discussing." Not only does this response guard your family's privacy, but it also teaches your children they have the freedom & right to simply say, "that's private" when they don't want to share details about their stories.
When it comes to my children's birth mothers, I will always defend, correct stereotypes & not allow anything rude to be said, especially in front of my children. When someone asks why our kids' birth moms choose adoption or about the circumstances surrounding their decision, I usually answer with vague, simple responses that set the stage for keeping things positive. "She wasn't in a position to parent, so she made the decision she felt was best. We love her so much & are so grateful for her loving & brave choice." After offering this type of response, I hope the person catches on that we aren't going to share specifics. If they keep pressing for details I say something along the lines of, "We actually don't share any other details about our kids' birth moms out of respect for our kids' privacy. I'm sure you can understand!" I always make it clear that we love our children's birth moms & are deeply thankful for their choice to choose adoption & us! We simply believe the details & more sensitive parts of the story belong to our children.
Adoption language & acceptance have come a long way in recent years. Unfortunately, negative adoption stereotypes & language are still far too common. As parents of children who came to us through adoption, in general I think we have a responsibility to correct poor adoption language, call out stereotypes & educate people on adoption. It can be exhausting to constantly defend our family & educate others, but it's important to help break down stigmas & foster more life-giving adoption conversations for the sake of our children. It's also important to find a balance you're comfortable with when it comes to these types of conversations. Answering personal questions about your family can be awkward at times, but in most cases, it does get easier the more practice you get!
This is definitely a topic people have different opinions on. Obviously there's no one size fits all when it comes to talking about adoption! I'd love to hear about boundaries you've set when it comes to these types of conversations. How do you respond to personal questions about your family's story? Are you more open or do you err on the side of privacy? Do you have trouble extending grace when someone is insensitive? Do you need to correct people in your life who continue to use poor adoption language? Do you feel like you need to re-evaluate your position when it comes to this topic? Comment & let me know your thoughts! :)
How do you respond to people when they find out you adopted and they say "so who are their real parents" or "so they are not your own?"
We know that families praying about adoption and foster care have many questions. We also know that some families who have adopted or are fostering have questions too. You are not alone! We would love to hear your question and feature it on Adoption Strong's blog Q & A Friday. Simply go to our Ask a Question page and submit your question to us and some of our team of contributors will respond.
And now for today's question:
How do you respond to people when they find out you adopted and they say "so who are their real parents" or "so they are not your own?"
From Jeanne: My take may be a little different because of having adopted internationally but one thing I have found is that often times people don't mean to be offensive. The lack of knowledge is often an open door for us to use our position to gently educate a person on the particular beautiful world of adoption . Adoption is an unfamiliar area to many people and if anything they are often interested in knowing more. So I look at most questions whether it may be a rude or even ignorant type of question/comment as a chance to use my platform to help increase their knowledge about adoption to help them avoid those particular comments in future and to open their heart to this growing platform and world of adoption. Taking offense and shutting someone down may not necessarily accomplish that.
From Tyler: I try to give grace with a dose of education when addressing these types of questions. With these particular questions, I always respond with the correct terminology. It's really important for those around us to use appropriate adoption language, especially when talking about adoption in front of our children. In response to, "Who are their real parents?" I answer, "We are!" with a smile. I then let them know that when referring to our children's first family, we use the terms "birth parents or biological parents."
When asked, "So they are not your own/You couldn't have your own?", I respond by explaining that even though Isabel & Noah are not our "biological" children, they are in every way our "own" children. Unless something ugly or rude is said, I am always quick to extend grace in this situations! Before we were involved in adoption, we had no idea about the importance of positive adoption language & definitely didn't know how to talk about adoption in the most appropriate way. We definitely do not expect perfection in this area, especially from strangers, but we do expect the people who know our story & are involved in our lives to make efforts to understand & use good adoption language when speaking to us (& especially to our children) about adoption.
From Aimee': I have been asked this question more times than I can count and I have heard it asked to my children too many times for my liking. Years ago, I came across this adoption definition list and I just loved it. I loved it so much I put it on my Facebook favorite quotes section.
Four adoption terms defined -
Natural child: Any child who is not artificial.
Real parent: Any parent who is not imaginary.
Your own child: Any child who is not someone else’s child.
Adopted child: A natural child, with a real parent, who is all my own.
And all the parents who have adopted say, AMEN!
My husband and I are the real parents of both our children who we birthed and our children who we adopted. Although I know that people who ask this question think there is nothing wrong with asking this question, I still believe people need to watch what they say and how they say things even if they say it out of the goodness of their heart.
In the beginning of motherhood, with 5 little ones ages newborn to 5 years old and our three older children ages 12 years old to 17 years old, I heard this question so much because five of our eight children's skin color are a different color than mine. Every time someone would ask me who were the real parents of our children, my insides would cringe. First, my initial reaction was to quickly look at my children and make sure they did not hear this person insinuating that I was not their real parent. Then I would make eye contact with the person and say, “I am their real parent.” They usually looked at me puzzled because of our different skin colors.
This is a loaded question first all. This is not a question that needs to be asked in the Wal-mart checkout line, which is usually the place I would get asked this question with all the kids in tow. I admit, at first, I would not respond kindly until God reminded me that people just did not understand the true meaning of adoption and for me to answer with love and share with them Ephesians 1:5 so that they could learn the truth. So that is exactly what I started doing as I received this question over and over again. Ephesians 1:5 says “His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into His own family through Jesus Christ. And this gave Him great pleasure.” This is the true meaning of adoption. I know it is hard for some people to embrace that parents who adopt are the children’s real parents but we are. We may not have birthed them but it does not change the fact that we are real and not artificial; we are not an imitation or imaginary; we are their parents period….. their real parents. I am truly saying this with love.
Once a child is adopted they become 100% part of the family that adopted them. They become our very own. They are equals to the children we birth. The children we birth and the children we adopt are both miracles in our eyes.
So my advice to the person that wants to ask the woman in the checkout line who looks like she did not give birth to some of her children is to maybe smile and instead of asking who are the children's real parent say instead "what a beautiful family you have." I promise you, warmth will fill her heart and a beautiful sweet smile will emerge on her face because she has just received the best compliment she could have ever received. :)
We know that families praying about adoption and foster care have many questions. You are not alone! We would love to hear your question and feature it on Adoption Strong's blog Q & A Friday. Simply go to our Ask a Question page and submit your question to us and some of our team of contributors will respond.
And now for today's question:
How can we afford adoption? And how do I raise money for adoption?
God’s will is God’s BILL. God’s will done God’s way will never lack GOD’s SUPPLY. I really clung to those in my journey. Some may be called to fundraise and some may be called to sit STILL and let Him facilitate the details. For me, I was called to sit STILL. I remember believing with a full heart that we would have a debt free adoption and I looked at my husband and told him that. I remember the exact spot where we were talking in our kitchen. He looked at me like I was crazy. Would you believe 4 months later we were overflowing with an Ephesians 3:20 blessing and had enough and then some to cover the whole adoption. God creates a story through each of us and if we hand Him the pen, we will surrender the stress and worry of the financial side of it. HE WILL take care of the details. If you are called to adopt, He will provide. I strongly suggest spend quiet time with God to hear from Him, meet with people who have adopted to gain knowledge from their stories, and most of all come in agreement with your spouse as this is key in receiving the blessing from God.
When my husband & I started the adoption process for the first time in 2014, we had minimal savings & were overwhelmed by the cost. After researching & talking to other adoptive families, we learned that our concern was common & that many couples overcome the financial obstacles in adoption by fundraising. The more we looked into adoption fundraising, the more encouraged we became. We also learned there are adoption grants & interest free loans that adoptive families can apply for. After doing significant fundraising for our first adoption & some for our second, we learned a lot.
I wanted to give y’all thorough answers to these questions, so I wrote a full blog post on this topic. The post is titled Adoption Fundraising Info, Ideas, Tips & Encouragement & is up on my blog now:
The financial aspect of adoption is definitely intimidating, but do not let the cost discourage you from moving forward. My advice to you is if you feel like God has put this particular avenue of adoption on your heart, it is for a reason & purpose! You'll probably have to get creative, work hard & make many sacrifices to bring in the funds, but as any family blessed by adoption will tell you...it's SO beyond worth it!
There are a variety of options, practically endless. Each will have it’s own set of positives and negatives. Whether it’s barely successful or wildly successful depends on how passionate you are about promoting your efforts and asking your support network to spread the word.
PRODUCT SALES – T-shirts, dip mixes, things you make. Just realize unless you are making it yourself, everyone takes a percentage of your sales, sometimes more than what they pay you, so be selective.
ONLINE AUCTIONS – if you have connections to get a few great high-quality products, go for it! Keep it small and manageable.
GARAGE SALES – they can require a lot of effort, but can also provide you with high returns. Ask your family and friends to donate items and help you run it and help you promote it. (Coming up, I have a post about all the ins and outs of how to make this extremely successful for you!)
TAP INTO YOUR RETIREMENT FUND – there are penalties for this, but if you don’t have the time and energy to fundraise the old-fashioned way or you aren’t ready to be public about your journey.
APPLY FOR GRANTS/ZERO INTEREST LOANS – employers and organizations at-large offer these opportunities to couples adopting and sometimes is extended to immediate family members too (so your parents might be employed by a company that offers assistance!).
Usually, it’s a combination of these things unless you just sold a big piece of investment property or recently won the lottery. We set up a separate savings account for the expenses and funds, so we could keep track and watch it grow. It might be slow at first, so be patient and trust that HE has you and will help you get there.
We thank God for multiplying our family by adoption and birth. Our children know both are miracles from Him! :)
Do you have a question about adoption or foster care? We would love to hear it! You may go to our Ask a Question page and submit to us.
“However motherhood comes to you, it’s a miracle.” Valerie Harper
“Adoptive Mom? I am a Mom. I need no other label or prefix.”
“Time and experience have taught me a priceless lesson: Any child you take for your own becomes your own if you give of yourself to that child. I have born two children and had seven others by adoption, and they are all my children, equally beloved and precious.”
“I didn’t give you the gift of life, But in my heart I know. The love I feel is deep and real, As if it had been so. For us to have each other Is like a dream come true! No, I didn’t give you The gift of life,
Life gave me the gift of you.” Unknown
“Not flesh of my flesh.
Not bone of my bone. But still miraculously my own.
And never forget for a minute. You were not born under my heart.
You were born in my heart.” Unknown
Adoption Story Wednesday
Guest Blog Post
Jeanne McCollister McNeil
Q & A Friday