Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wings N Things - May 3rd

Buffalo Wild Wings (Lynchburg, Va) hosted a fundraiser for the Liberty Godparent Foundation in February and it was the most successful fundraiser they had to date!  Because of the great success of the event, they are doing it again on Tuesday, May 3rd at BWW - Lynchburg.  All you have to do is print these vouchers and present them to your server anytime throughout the day (dine-in or take-out) and they will donate 15% of your bill to our organization. 

This is a tasty way to support our ministry!  Help us by spreading the word through email or sharing this post from the FLS Facebook Page.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Time to Refresh & Renew the Vision

I love my job...I really do.  It's so much more than a career - I have the opportunity to impact lives every day through my work.  This is a tremendous privilege, but also a burden as I share the celebratory moments and the difficult ones with those whom we work with.  It's hard to "check your work at the door" and arrive home as if nothing significant took place that day. 

In fact, it's taken me years to learn how to vacation...sounds crazy doesn't it? 

I have just returned from spending a week at the beach with my family and can actually say that I'm refreshed, renewed, and ready to pursue the vision that we have for adoptive families, birth parents, and expectant parents.  It's easy to feel guilty on vacation - because somebody is waiting for something they need to proceed in their journey.  However, I've come to realize that God doesn't need me to do His work.  He's doing a great job on His own...of course!  He needs me to be able to take time out to take care of myself, strengthen my family, and be a better adoption professional when I return from a break.

So, here we go....starting a new chapter of 2011.  Even the blog has gotten a facelift!  I have a little catching up to do on blog posts and will be posting upcoming events and placement pictures in the near future.  Glad you're along with us for this ride, exciting things are to come!  Even when we can't see it, God is at work

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Adoptive Family Picnic - Forest, Virginia

A local Girl Scout, who was adopted from Kazakhstan, is organizing a Adoptive Family Picnic for families who have adopted children (domestically or internationally) on Sunday, May 1, 2011.  Lana's idea for her "Take Action" project was motivated by her realization that it is important for adopted kids to meet other adopted kids.  We couldn't agree more!

The "Potluck Picnic" is at the Forest Presbyterian Church Pavillion and playground (next to the Forest Public Library on 221) and will be from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. with food served at 4:30 p.m.  They are asking that each family bring a dish to share and drinks, plates, and silverware will be provided.  Please RSVP to and let her know what food you are taking, so she is prepared for the group. 

This is a great opportunity to meet new families in the Lynchburg community who are connected to adoption and I hope that you take the time to support this young lady in a wonderful community project! 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Open Adoption: The Decision, The Benefits & The Challenges - Part 3

Heather Kirk is an adoptive mom of five children.  Each of these five children has a different set of birth parents, and Heather’s family has open adoptions with each of them.  Heather and her husband Christopher frequently share their adoption stories at the Adoption Training Weekend for Family Life Services.  Be sure to read Part 1 & Part 2!

Part 3 - The Challenges

When we made the choice to open our first adoption, we never imagined that God would bless us with four additional children and therefore four additional birth families to build relationships with. It can be a bit overwhelming at times. We have definitely faced our share of difficulties and fears throughout the years. Although it is always easier and more pleasant to share the triumphs, it is important to be honest about the difficulties we face because we have chosen open adoptions.

When we opened our first adoption, we had an indescribable God-given confidence that we had made the right choice, but even with that confidence, there have been times of fears and doubts.

We had no one to speak with who had already gone through the open adoption process, no one to ask advice from. We were near the beginning of this trend to open up adoptions. We often found ourselves second-guessing our decisions. Everything has been a process, reminding us how important it is to bathe our lives and our children’s lives in prayers.

The first difficulty I remember facing about open adoption was just making the simple decisions, such as how often I should contact the birth family, how much should I tell them, and how should I refer to the birth family, like should we call our son’s birthmom “mom,” too.

I remember that, at first, I felt guilty to not refer to our eldest son’s birthmom as “mom.” She was his mother, too. As time went on, though, we found the wisdom in always calling the birth parents by their first names with our children. We came to discover that it kept confusion from entering the minds of our children. Although our children know their birth parents are connected to them as parents, they also understand there is a difference in the relationship they have with them compared to the relationship they have with us.

Another difficulty is that our relationships with each of the birth families do differ greatly. This is simply because each situation our children have been born into, as well as the personalities of each of the birth families, are very different. Each individual in the birth families has their own way of dealing with their emotions over the situation of having to place their child or seeing their grandchild, cousin, nephew or niece placed for adoption.

Think about your own blood relations. Some of your family members might be really open and honest about their feelings. Some are quiet and keep all emotions to themselves. Some can face difficulties head on, while others try to avoid them. It is the same in each of the birth families.

About half of our birth family members feel grateful for every moment they get to spend with their birth child. They relish every photo, every phone call and every visit we have. They are able to say goodbye knowing that it is only goodbye for now, and they have confidence that they can see or speak with their child again in the near future. They find that a comfort.

However, the other half of our birth family members have a harder time dealing with the open adoptions, even though all of them did request open adoptions in the beginning. Some have even chosen to drop all contact with us because they feel guilty about having had to place their child for adoption and have trouble with seeing that child face-to-face as a result. I can’t begin to understand what they must have to go through, and I value their feelings. However, I admit that it has made it challenging for us as the parents to help our children understand.

It is so difficult when a child comes to you crying because they are not able to see a member of their birth family. This has only happened a few times to us. In those moments, I have cried with my children.

After having such a successful open adoption with our first child’s birth family, we originally felt that it would be important for our other children to have the exact same thing. But we came to understand that it is never the exact same from one family to the next.

Think about when you got married. You not only inherited a relationship with your spouse, but also with their extended family. The relationships with some of your in-laws might be better and easier than others. Dealing with the emotions and peculiarities of each member of your family requires patience, understanding and love, which is not always easy.

The first time we faced the issue of a birth family starting to back away from contact was so hard because they would schedule meetings with us and not show. They would say they were going to call or send letters, and then would not do so. It was such a frustration for us as the parents of these children, and at first, we didn’t understand how much the birth families were struggling. We just felt their avoidance. This made our hearts ache for our children.

In time, we have learned to understand them better and have also learned how to help our children cope better when they hurt. I am so grateful to God that the birth families with whom we do have a lot of contact are sure to show love and care to all five of our children, not just to the one who is their blood relation. Therefore, our children feel the love from all of these birth families and view them as family… not merely as their sibling’s birth family.

There are more difficulties, such as dealing with the quarks of each different family. In my experience, our birth families who are African-American have a different sense of time than the family I grew up in. For instance, most of our birth families feel it is no big deal to be an hour or two late to a meeting time we have set. In the beginning, this was a real frustration, especially when our children anxiously waited for them to show. But with each birth family we added, this has continued to be the trend. So we have chosen to accept this as part of who they are.

There is also the difficulty for myself of trying to maintain contact with the different birth family members. Then, there is the fact of trying to remember all of the different family members we meet at different gatherings. I must admit that I fail at this one frequently.

Something else you might face, as I have, is a birth family member boldly telling you how much they object to their relation having been placed for adoption. I have been pulled aside twice, once by a grandfather in one birth family and once by a grandmother in another birth family, to be told their extreme objections. The first time this happened struck me with shock, but in those moments when we are dumbfounded and don’t know how to respond, praise God He gives us the wisdom and words to deal with the situation.

As Christian parents, we have also faced another difficulty. Some of the birth family members are not Christians or not strong Christians, and some allow a very different set of morals to govern their lives than we want to instill in our children. Therefore, we have had to make different choices on how we spend our time with each family, as well as how much time we spend on a visit. We do have to limit contact with certain members of the birth families, and I believe that God has obligated us as the parents and moral guardians of these children to do so.

In this three-part series, I have only scratched the surface of the benefits and difficulties that we face in choosing open adoption. Still, throughout this process, our family has come to believe that the benefits outweigh the difficulties. Our children don’t ask whether or not they were loved. They do not ask who they look like. They simply know that they have so much family who loves them, and they know they have a God who cares about them enough to have orchestrated all of this in their lives.

Are the benefits of open adoption going to outweigh the difficulties in your situation? Only God knows for you. Take the time to pray and to seek counsel, and God will make it clear to you what is best for your child.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Should Transracial Families Adopt Another Child of Color?

Kevin Hofmann is a writer, speaker, adoption blogger, and a transracial adoptee who shares openly on topics of adoption and transracial issues.  You may remember the earlier review of his book, Growing Up Black in White, on this blog.  Visit Kevin's website for more resources and to follow his blog, My Mind on Paper.  We are grateful for his permission to post some of his thoughts from an adoptee's point of view.

“Did you ever want a brother or sister growing up who looked like you?”

As a transracial adoptee(TRA), author and speaker, whenever I go speak and share my experiences growing up as a TRA I often get this question. My answer is very simple yet very layered so I hope that everyone can follow me.

“No.” This is usually the response I give and I often get puzzled looks and then I see the parents gently lean forward urging me to continue. So I gladly do and here is my complete response:

As an adoptee one of the issues I have always struggled with is my constant battle with rejection. No matter how or why, in the end my mother gave me away. It doesn’t matter whether it was the right decision for her or me, in the end the woman who gave birth to me chose not to keep me. With that decision came a feeling of not being good enough or not being wanted. Growing up I would feed the need to be accepted and liked by shoving spoonful after spoonful of attention in to my soul. I inhaled attention because it calmed and quieted the whispers that said, “No one likes you! You’re not worthy.”

Transracial adoption afforded me a great opportunity to get additional attention. I only have one other friend that was adopted so that made me unique. I was the different one in the family and the attention that came with that whether good or bad still fed the whispers. To have another child of color in my family would have been like inviting a thief into my den of treasures. Another child would mean I would have to split the attention…IN HALF! Nope, not something I was interested in doing.

For me this was not something I wanted so I answer the question as it is asked. “Do you…” But typically, I know parents want to know if I think this is a good idea FOR THEM. There were several times I would answer that question as it applied to me and never understood I missed an opportunity to address an important issue. So now I answer personally and more globally.

The parents really want to know if adopting another child that looks like their transracially adopted child will help the children so they don’t always have to be the only one all the time. The thought is that having another child of color to walk with them will give them someone to share this like experience with. The children have someone to talk to about what they are going through and feeling.

Yes, it could!

Here’s the important issue that I now address.

Children take their lead from their parents. If the parents don’t openly talk about adoption and issues of race it sends a message to the kids these are issues we don’t talk about. I know a transracial adoptee that was adopted with their twin and since the parents never talked about adoption, race, or the conflicting messages and issues that come with those, the twins never talked about it either.

These issues must be discussed openly as a family sending the message to the whole family that they are issues that can be discussed. I think creating an open and honest environment in the home provides the right soil for confident children to grow and it helps quiet the whispers I still hear.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What Would You Give For Your Children?

I just returned from the 17th Annual Barker Foundation Conference in Rockville, Maryland and had the opportunity to hear a powerful duo speak - Judy and Aaron Stigger.  Judy is the white adoptive mom of Aaron, who is biracial.  They approached the idea of transracial adoption in a humorous way, yet emphasized that transracial adoption is work and adoptive parents have to be willing to put in the effort required to raise a healthy, happy, confident transracial family.

Aaron comfortably got up to speak in a t-shirt that said this on the front - "Black is Beautiful, White is Wonderful" and on the back - "And I'm Both!".  That's a confident guy who had parents who weren't afraid to get out of their comfort zone and allowed their child to appreciate his heritage from both cultures.

He began his lecture by saying that the first three points in having a healthy transracial adoptive family are location, location, location.  What stuck with me was his acknowledgement that most adoptive families would give their lives for their children, but why are they so hesitant to give their homes and/or their neighborhoods for their kids?  Hmmm, that was a powerful moment.

Too often we see Caucasian families pursuing the adoption of an African American or Biracial child who feel like "love is all they need" or that their completely Caucasian family, neighborhood, church, school system, etc. will be accepting of a child with African American heritage because they're "so nice and excited about the family's adoption plans".  Unfortunately, this is not the case - there is great value for children in the school years and adolescence to be raised in neighborhoods, churches and schools where there are other people who physically look like themselves.

Don't get me wrong, those are all good things, but it's not enough.  We must get to the place where we can integrate transracial adoptive families into more than one cultural experience and, in doing so, fully be able to appreciate the diversity within your adoptive family.  Once you get to the place where you're willing to put in the work - you won't be disappointed by the rich, full, joyful experiences that you can enjoy as the result of having a transracial family. 

What have you done to put in the work of having a transracial adoptive family?  I would love to hear your ideas!

Monday, April 4, 2011


Blog written by Rachel Curley, Caseworker, at Family Life Services.

Hope is a word that I remember studying in depth when I was waiting for my husband. It was years after college, most of my friends were already married with kids, and the relationship I was in, had just ended.

God, what does hope look like now?

Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick”. Well, I can tell you coming out of that broken relationship, my heart was definitely feeling sick! Does God have marriage for me? - I wondered. What if He has chosen me to be single so that I am more free to serve Him? “Lord, won’t you please just tell me that you have marriage for me, if I can just know that you have it at the end of this hard road, I will be able to trust you”...this was my prayer.

Then, so clearly, I heard the Lord say, “That is exactly why I am not telling you, because I want you to trust, to have faith, to hope. My plans are not your plans; my ways are not your ways”.  I finally surrendered to His ultimate plan and came to the place where I could respond with “Lord, renew my hope; give me fresh perspective on my life. It’s not about getting married or having a family, sure, those things would be nice, but it’s about my relationship with You, it’s about bringing You glory. If I can bring You more glory single, then single it is! God, You know my heart, you know my desires, and I trust you with them”.

What is it that you hope for today? Are you certain of what you hope for? Where does your hope lie? I encourage you to do your own study on “Hope” and let us know what you discover! Here are some verses to get you started: Hebrews 11:1, Psalm 39:7, and Romans 8:24-25; 15:13
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