Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Adoptive Family Support Group - Lynchburg, VA

The Adoptive Families Support Group is an incredible resource for families during the waiting process and, unlike the birth mother support group, is designed to support families who are waiting to adopt or who have adopted. I would encourage you to get plugged into this group as, I believe, it is the most valuable resource that FLS can offer for supporting waiting families. Please RSVP directly to the email address below if you wish to attend or contact them to get on the invitation list if you have not already received this email from the group. Invitation for the upcoming meeting is below. ~Deanne

Happy Fall Everyone!

We will be meeting next Tuesday night, October 5, from 6:30 - 8:00 for an adults-only fellowship at the home of Clayton and Robyn. Please join us to renew acquaintances and friendships and support each other in the various stages of our adoption journeys. RSVP to as soon as possible but no later than this Friday, October 1st and I'll provide you with location in Lynchburg and directions.

Looking forward to seeing you all,
Clayton and Robyn
Dean and Kathy

Friday, September 24, 2010

Love & Appreciation for an FLS Foster Family

FLS has 8 foster families who work directly with our agency to provide transitional care for infants until all parental rights have been terminated.  These families give selflessly of their time, families, and homes to give 100% to the infants who join their families for a short time.  I stumbled upon this post that was written by an adoptive family who adopted their daughter, Grace, earlier this year and was given permission to share it with you.  It is a beautiful tribute to the foster family who had a part in their family's adoption story.

As many of you know Grace was in foster care for the first four months of her life. I know many people think of the "foster care" term in a negative light, however, Grace had the most incredible foster parents we lovingly call Mommy Cheryl and Daddy Gary.

First let me give you a little background on Mommy Cheryl and Daddy Gary. They are a wonderful Christian couple who love the Lord and it is very evident. Gary and Cheryl have three adopted children themselves Becca, Jason and Debbie. Becca and Jason are in college and Debbie is a high school senior. Gary and Cheryl have been fostering, I believe, for 8 - 10 years. They only foster babies from the adoption agency (Family Life Services) we received Grace from. Needless to say they have LOTS of experience and it shows!

Everyone knows how much of a gift Grace is to Eric and I, but she started out as unexpected gift to the Sumner family. In December Gary lost his job where he had been employed for many years. The Sumner kiddos were home for Christmas break and after Christmas they got a call that they would be fostering a baby girl until her forever family could get her. Grace entered the world....December 28 and from what the Sumners have explained to us she was an angel from the beginning. A couple of weeks later, Becca and Jason headed back to college and Grace had the privilege of getting undivided attention from Daddy Gary and Mommy Cheryl. They took her everywhere church (never missed a Sunday, even her first week of life), out to eat, errands, and high school events. Debbie was able to spend alot of time with her and it was evident even at four months they had a special bond. Grace adored Daddy Gary and would always give him big smiles. In just the little time we spent with Gary and Cheryl after our placement ceremony (a day and a night) Mommy Cheryl had the touch to calm Grace and soothe her.

I had many people tell me once we got her home, we received an angel baby. Eric and I never had to endure sleepless nights and we pretty much have a happy camper all the time! I attribute alot of Grace's transition and easy goingness to Mommy Cheryl and Daddy Gary. They will not take credit for it. They say Grace was blessed with a wonderful temperment. It is clear to me they played a big part in it all!

A couple of weeks ago we went home (my folks home) and had the privilege of spending some time with Daddy Gary and Mommy Cheryl. We had dinner at our favorite place, Cracker Barrel. Apparently Grace had been there quite a few times in the first four months of her life. As we were drving to VA I realized we had had Grace for four months the same amount of time the Sumners had Grace. I realized how much love Eric and I have for the precious little one God entrusted to us. It made me realize once again how difficult it must have been for them to put her in our car (April 24) that last time and watch us drive off.

I remember speaking to Cheryl the day she was handing Grace over to us. Cheryl said, "we love and get attached to our babies if we didn't we wouldn't be doing our job." Gary and Cheryl, thank you for being obedient in your call to be foster parents and loving our Hannah Grace as she was one of your own. We will never forget and will continue to visit this incredible family who loved and guarded our little girl until it was God's timing for us to come and make her our own.

We love you!

Eric, Heidi and Grace

P.S. - God provided Daddy Gary a new job soon after Grace came to live us.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Who Do You Support?

Lately, this question has been raised a few times and it has prompted me to really think about a Christian's role in providing monetary support for ministries and organizations that would be considered "Kingdom Causes".   Do you have to choose just one in order to fully pledge your allegiance to that organization and their declared purpose?  I don't believe so. 

As managers of whatever financial resources God has entrusted to us, we have been given a responsibility to become givers and, to me, that is an exciting opportunity to participate in many ministries that impact the world.  

Our umbrella organization, The Liberty Godparent Foundation, recently launched a popular fundraiser collecting loose change in a Baby Bottle Drive and it was almost shocking to hear some individuals and churches decline involvement because they already participate in another loose change drive for another ministry in another month of the year.  My response - GREATThank you for supporting multiple ministries that impact the lives of people. 

Let's get past this idea that there is competition in fundraising and get on board to support as many ministries as you are able to contribute to in a small or large way.  My husband and I have been able to support organizations that impact the US, Canada, Brazil, Haiti, and Thailand this year....I don't view this as a financial burden but rather as a financial opportunity to be a part of something big in each of these places!

The Liberty Godparent Foundation feels strongly about supporting other local organizations that share a commitment to saving and changing lives of babies and parents.  We sent staff to a fundraiser for Blue Ridge Pregnancy Center in our city of Lynchburg, Virginia this month and some of us are heading out to a fundraiser for Blue Ridge Women's Center in Roanoke, Virginia later today.  These are such worthy ministry partners and I would encourage you, if you are not doing so already, to look around your community and get involved in supporting some outreach organizations - you will find that you are the one who will receive a blessing.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pictures of Garrett's Adoption Day

Adoptive parents, Bill and Heather, celebrated the placement of baby Garrett Lane into their family on Wednesday, September 8th.  Big brother, Aiden, was so excited to finally meet this baby that his parents had been talking to him about!

If I could describe this placement in one word, it would be - sweet.  Garrett's birth family and adoptive family recognized the hand of God all over each of their steps to bring them to this day and there was truly an overwhelming presence of joy on this placement day.  When Garrett's birth mother brought him in to meet Bill and Heather, there was not a dry eye in the room as we saw the obvious connection of love between both families. 

More pictures from placement day are posted on the blog sidebar or you can click here to see a slideshow.    Happy Adoption Day, Garrett!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

MTVs Teen Mom - The Controversy of Reality

I'm fully aware that I'm wading into controversial waters this morning by choosing to share about MTV's Teen Mom, which has stirred up many water-cooler conversations around the US in the last year and especially in recent days.  The interview, above, was on The Today Show this morning and the current issue of People magazine also features an article about some of the teens portrayed in the show currently on news stands.

As an Adoption Professional and one who watches every episode of Teen Mom, I am not sure that I see what others find to be disturbing.  All four stories have very different circumstances and are experiencing a wide range of family support.  If this is considered to be "glamorous", that makes me laugh.  In my opinion, that couldn't be farther from the truth.  Before you begin pointing a finger and say that I'm looking down on these situations, I am certainly not.  I will fully admit that my life is far from perfect or glamorous and, if MTV wanted to film a television show in most of our houses we would have more than enough drama, hardship, conflicts and stories to keep an audience interested!

For what it's worth, I think that MTV has done a good job of keeping the show realistic.  We see good days and bad days, emotional days and happy days, moments when patience is thin and moments of parental pride.  It would be unrealistic to show Catelynn and Tyler crying all the time or super-happy every day, the reality is that there are ups and downs to the grieving process after placing a child with an adoptive family;  it would be unrealistic to show Ryan and Maci in a carefree state of life, not worried about the custody proceedings that they find themselves in the middle of; and it would be unrealistic to show Gary, Amber or Farrah always miserable...they have joyful moments with Leah and Sophia too.

These are not reality stars, they are young people who have agreed to participate in a show about teen pregnancy and expose their personal situations to the scrutiny of others who don't know the full stories.  More than anything, they need support and not criticism.

Teen Mom provides a reality check for lots of teens who think that either parenting or adoption is easy.  Both come with unique joys and challenges.  It is impossible for outsiders to look at another situation and judge whether they made the "right" or the "wrong" decision because it's just that - their decision.  My hope is that MTVs attempt at reality tv will help young men and women who are experiencing or will experience an unplanned pregnancy to consider some of the factors that should be considered before deciding what's right for them.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Adoption - A New Paradigm

I stumbled across this post by Dorean Beattie yesterday from The Cheerful Giver.  She granted permission for me to re-post it here.  It looks like this blog is worth checking back in with often.

I witnessed a conversation on Facebook the other day about adoption that got a little uncomfortable. It started when someone posted a link to a family that was fundraising to pay for the adoption of their next child. Most women were saying, “Thanks for letting me know! I’ll go check it out!” One woman, however, asked a very honest question: “Why should I pay for someone else’s child?” Most people were shocked, because they get it. Women tried to lovingly explain to “Confused” why it was appropriate to ask for help in adopting, but she was having none of it. To her, it was an issue of parents not planning well. With good planning, time, and patience, anyone would be able to pay for adoption, and that was that.

As I observed the conversation, I saw the real issue was one of paradigm. Confused still viewed adoption in the old paradigm. This is the school of thought that says adoption is what you do when you are unable to conceive. It says, “Our family isn’t complete because we have no children. We’ll adopt 2.5 kids, get the dog and the picket fence, and then we’ll have it all.” There’s certainly nothing wrong with this line of thinking; it makes sense for couples who can’t conceive to adopt the child another has conceived but can’t raise. However, there is a new paradigm of adoption that brings with it a different motivation to adopt.

This new adoption paradigm (some are calling it an adoption revolution) doesn’t view adoption as primarily a way to fill a couple’s desire for children. Rather, it is a means to provide for and protect the estimated 137 million orphans in the world. Some of these orphans have lost both parents (or the only parent they’ve ever known) to disease, war, or some other tragedy. Some of them have living parents, but are orphans in the sense that the parents have turned them over to orphanages or agencies because they can no longer meet the needs of the child. In this country, most are “orphans” because their parents lost custody due to inability to care for them, or the parents relinquished their rights to the child at birth. No matter how they come to be known as orphans, they are children in need of someone to step up to the plate and say, “I will parent this child.”

This new paradigm has brought with it a new breed of adoptive parents. They are not people out to fulfill their needs, desires, or dreams. They are people who are out to fulfill the call of James 1:27, which says that pure religion (meaning your faith is unselfish, and your life is offered as service to God) is to take care of orphans and widows. The families I personally know that are part of this adoption movement have willingly laid down the “American dream” of having a big house with lots of extra room, fancy cars, and fancy vacations in order to bring some of these children into their homes. Their lives are busy, their houses are full, and their children are blossoming beyond belief! They have traded comfort and ease for smiling faces and full hearts.

To Confused, I would say, you are under no pressure to pay for someone else’s child. But if you stop to think about it, wouldn’t you like to help pay for Jesus’ child? For his children? Wouldn’t you like to join the behind-the-scenes army that, while not necessarily equipped to bring orphans into their own homes, have been equipped to help bring them into a permanent home, with a permanent family, where they will be raised with love and dignity, in the knowledge of the Lord? Because in reality, that’s the bottom line of what the adoption movement is all about.

For Confused, and anyone else that is now curious about what it looks like to be part of this “secret” army, I’ll write more on that in a couple days. For now, let the truth sink in that adoption isn’t always what it used to be. It’s about the children, not the parents. It’s about little beauties like this, that without parents willing to put aside their own comfort for her sake, would have begun her life in foster care, where it is unknown when or even if she would have found a permanent home. Selah…

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pictures of Isaiah's Adoption Party

We celebrated Isaiah Kiano's adoption day on Friday, September 3rd at FLS!  Adoptive parents, Lloyd and Caroline, are already completely in love with this little guy and it was a wonderful celebration with some of their family and friends.  A short slideshow of placement has been posted on the sidebar or you can access photos here

Happy Adoption Day, Isaiah!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Book Review: Growing Up Black in White

I am almost embarrassed to admit that I initially posted about finding this book, Growing Up Black in White, on June 4th - over three months ago.  Thanks to a weekend that included a cool, crisp Saturday and what my husband described to me as one of the biggest weekends in football - I had some nice time to finish reading the book!

As I flipped through the pages, I found myself intrigued and found experiences I could relate to in today's society and some that I can only hope have dissolved into non-existence.  There were moments that sparked strong emotions of wanting to stand up for equality, educate the ignorant, and protect those who find themselves fighting opposition at every turn.  No doubt, this surge of emotion begins from some of my personal life experiences and frame of reference.

I expected a memoir about adoption, and it is, but found that it is so much more about life and would be just as interesting to someone with no personal ties to adoption.  You'll laugh and you'll cry, but it will open up your mind as you take a look into the personal reflections of the author, Kevin Hofmann, from childhood to adulthood as he develops his personal identity through the ups and downs of his experience as a biracial child adopted into a Caucasian family.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Adoption Cards for the Journey

Have you ever searched for "the card" to send encouragement to a family who is awaiting an adoption placement, or something to celebrate a family's recent adoption of an older child, or a card for someone in your life who is celebrating Gotcha Day?  You want something beautiful, but also something that accurately and sensitively conveys your message.  Imagine my surprise when I found JUST the place that offers cards to meet these needs on none other than Twitter this morning!

Adoption Cards is a new Etsy Store that offers customized greeting cards for forever families.  The creator, Lindsay Lamb, was inspired to launch this idea after her sister and brother-in-law completed two adoptions from Russia and she found herself at a loss when trying to find a card to capture the message she wanted to give.  The cards are handmade and beautifully crafted ranging in price from $3.50 - $7.00.  Many have suggested messages that you can tailor to your needs or you can customize the greeting.  Adoption Cards currently offers cards in the following categories:  congratulations, thank you, encouragement/support, and adoption/gotcha day.  Lindsay will be adding more designs in the future as the store grows and gains in popularity.  Be sure to check it out and she can be followed on Twitter at AdoptionCards.

Lindsay Lamb is 26 years old and is in Rochester, New York. She currently works in the marketing department at Xerox; but her dream is to some day become a stay-at-home mom! She loves acrylic painting and hand-making cards, and have always had a love for art. When she is not scrapbooking or making cards, you’ll find her in the kitchen trying a new recipe, ballroom dancing, or watching a classic movie! She became passionate about creating adoption cards during the two times her oldest sister adopted from Russia, because she realized there was a gap in the greeting card market to truly capture the needs of adoptive families.  She hopes others enjoy her cards as much as she loves making them!

Friday, September 3, 2010

An Adoption Story - Berk & Patti

Every family has a story and this adoptive family, Berk and Patti, can see God's hand all over their adoption journey.  It wasn't always easy and they will tell you that the wait was long and hard....but so very worth it.  We celebrated Kristin's adoption day at FLS on March 2, 2009.

We are Berk and Patti with our beautiful daughter Kristin, whom we adopted in March 2009. We waited approximately 5 years for Kristin and we are here to tell you the waiting time was not always easy. We started out with a different type of agency where all of the adoptions were closed. We waited there about 3 years with no results. We really felt God was leading us to Family Life Services and after our first talk with our Caseworker, we looked at each other and said “we are finally where we are supposed to be”. We had such a peace about our decision. We started our homestudy process and went through the weekend training in March of 2007. We entered the waiting pool in the Fall of 2007 and waited approx 16 months for placement in March 2009. During our waiting time, we never had a single interview. We had many times during our waiting time where we would get discouraged and question whether it was meant for us to adopt or not. We had our Caseworker encouraging us and so many prayer warriors, they wouldn’t let us stay down for long. We had one of our prayer partners tell us that “if God didn’t intend for you to adopt, He wouldn’t have laid it on your heart to be here”. That is so true. We were also older and thought this might be a factor, but it wasn’t. Everything we thought might be an obstacle, wasn’t one after all.

After 16 months, we were notified of a placement of a baby girl. I can not describe to you the excitement and anticipation that we had. When Kristin was placed in our arms, she was the most beautiful sight we had ever seen. The love we had for her was overwhelming and we were so blessed. Kristin has been such a blessing to us and we are so thankful to our Birthmother for giving us the greatest gift by choosing us to be her parents. Our adoption is closed, so we don’t have contact, but we love her and she is constantly in our thoughts and prayers.

Our friends and Sponsors who had placements in the past, all told us that once we had our placement we would see God’s plan and how it all worked out. We knew this to be true, but when we were waiting for our first child we really didn’t understand it. It’s so hard sometimes to see the end result if you are not there yet even if you see it in other’s lives. We are here to tell you, don’t lose hope and don’t question God. It is so amazing and awesome how He works all these adoptions out. We praise God now for the 5 agonizing years we waited for Kristin and wouldn’t have done anything differently. We are also so grateful to those who prayed for us and listened to us when we were down and questioning everything. We could not have made it through this process without you.

Our first agency experience prepared us for a closed adoption, so it wasn’t a waste of time. Everything we went through was God preparing us for Kristin. We had to wait for Kristin and you are waiting for your baby. Kristin is perfect for us in every way. We plan and want things in our time, but we have to wait on God’s timing and He does not make mistakes. We questioned our decision and many times forgot that peace we had when we started our process. I tell you the wait is not easy, but it is so worth it in the end when the most perfect little baby girl or boy is placed in your arms. Know that those of us who have walked in your shoes are praying for you constantly. You are not alone and God will answer prayers!

Blessings from our family to yours,
Berk, Patti & Kristin

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Times of Loneliness

My thoughts have been stirred this morning with the realization that so many of the people I come into contact with on a daily basis feel very alone.  The feeling of loneliness can be unsettling, frustrating, painful, intensely emotion and frightening. 

Most frequently, we hear descriptions of this feeling from expectant parents and waiting adoptive families....the young birth mothers or birth fathers who would desperately like to find themselves in a different situation - but find themselves looking at adoption as the way to provide what they hope and dream for their unborn child or the waiting adoptive parent who feels like they are the only ones who are in the midst of this mysterious "wait" as they long for news that their family has been chosen to raise a child.

I came across an excerpt from a book, Passion & Purity by Elisabeth Elliott, that speaks to this heart-wrenching feeling of loneliness and how to deal with it in any stage or time in our lives.  The following are her words:

Be still and know that He is God.  When you are lonely, too must stillness is exactly the thing that seems to be laying waste to your soul.  Use that stillness to quiet your heart before God.  Get to know Him.  If He is God, He is still in charge.

Remember that you are not alone.  "The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." (Deuteronomy 31:8)  Jesus promised his disciples, "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 20:20). Never mind if you cannot feel His presence.  He is there, never for one moment forgetting you.

Give thanks.  In times of my greatest loneliness, I have been lifted up by the promise of 2 Corinthians 4:17-18:  "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."  This is something to thank God for.  This loneliness itself, which seems a weight, will be far out-weighed by glory.

Refuse self-pity.  Refuse is absolutely.  It is a deadly thing with power to destroy you.  Turn your thoughts to Christ who has already carried your griefs and sorrows.

Accept your loneliness.  It is one stage, and only one stage on a journey that brings you to God.  It will not always last. 

Offer up your loneliness to God, as the little boy offered to Jesus his five loaves and two fishes.  God can transform it for the good of others.

Do something for someone else.  No matter who or where you are, there is something you can do, somebody who needs you.  Pray that you may be an instrument of God's peace, that where there is loneliness you may bring joy.

Dear friends, He will carry you if you rest in His arms and allow Him to draw you closer.  ~Deanne
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