Monday, November 28, 2011

Reflections on National Adoption Month from an Adoptive Dad - Part 2

This is an open letter sent from the heart of an adoptive dad, Kevin, to his local newspaper for National Adoption Month. Kevin and his wife, Julie, adopted two precious sons from Family Life Services, Ethan and Tyler.  If you missed Part 1 - go back and read it from last week.

 About a year after bringing Ethan home, we started the journey to bring another child into our home. Our first adoption experience didn’t make the wait for the second child any easier. In fact, we faced some extremely trying circumstances with a disrupted adoption before receiving word from Laura that she was pregnant once more and wished to place her second child with us. With incredible joy, we received Tyler into our family in August of 2007. We feel so blessed to be the adoptive parents of two healthy, rambunctious, loving boys who also happen to be biologically related. We don’t view ourselves as parents of adopted children, but rather as parents of children who just happen to be adopted. Although adoption is an important part of our family story, it doesn’t define who we are as a family.

I know that many don’t understand adoption or the open relationship we share with our sons’ birthmother, a young lady we love and consider to be a part of our family. I remember running into some friends shortly after we brought Ethan home and hearing the comment that adoption “must be the next best thing to having a child of your own.” These were good, well-meaning folks who were simply uneducated about adoption, much as we had once been. We were stunned into silence, but if the same comment were made today, I’d have a ready answer: “Adopting a child is second to none and my children are my own, regardless of how they happened to join the family.” We’ve also heard various statements about how we took the “easy route” by choosing adoption. We can only chuckle at this one – we were subjected to physical examinations, background checks, and home inspections; we filled out reams of paperwork; we shelled out tens of thousands of dollars; and we waited nearly 30 months before Ethan joined the family. Then we did it all again for Tyler. We have no regrets, and adoption has brought incredible joy and laughter and life to our family. Is it for everyone? No, but it was perfect for us.

So this brings me back to where I started –celebrating November as National Adoption Month. I don’t need parades or parties, or noisemakers in order to celebrate. If I simply remember our family story and how Ethan and Tyler came to us, then every moment we spend together as a family becomes a part of our ongoing celebration of adoption.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Reflections on National Adoption Month from an Adoptive Dad - Part 1

This is an open letter sent from the heart of an adoptive dad, Kevin, to his local newspaper for National Adoption Month.  Kevin and his wife, Julie, adopted two precious sons from Family Life Services, Ethan and Tyler. 

It’s hard to believe that the month of November is nearly upon us. November is a month of seasonal change, with leaves falling and frost often glistening on the lawn in the early morning sun. November is when we celebrate Veterans Day and gather with family for Thanksgiving. By the end of November, most of us have put up the Christmas tree and begun earnest preparations for the Christmas holiday. November is fun and hectic and expensive and fattening – I’m thinking of that Thanksgiving turkey – and for all of this and much more, we look forward to the month of November. My family enjoys November for all of these reasons, but we also appreciate the designation of November as National Adoption Month. I realize that the celebration of adoption is not typically on the short list of “important things about November,” but for my family, this celebration is just as meaningful as Thanksgiving, perhaps even more so. We don’t celebrate National Adoption Month with parties and balloons and festivals and parades; rather, our family time becomes just a little bit sweeter as we reflect on the amazing journey that brought us together as a family.

Like many adoptive families, adoption was not on our radar when Julie and I were married. I don’t have space here to share all of the details that changed our direction, but I will say that when we began to investigate adoption as an opportunity to bring children into our home, many of our preconceived notions about adoption were shattered. Our adoption agency made a great effort to educate us, answer our questions, and help us through the adoption process which can be complex, time-consuming and expensive. Over time, we realized that birthmothers are often just scared young ladies who are taking responsibility for their actions by making the agonizing, heart-wrenching, courageous choice to lovingly place their baby into a caring, stable home which is better-equipped to care for the needs of the child. We realized that open adoption, under the right circumstances, could result in a healthy relationship for the child, the parents, the birthparents, and extended family members. We learned that adoption expenses, while high, are often justifiable and that there are foundations which can help relieve some of the financial burden of adoption. We realized that adoption can be a long, emotionally-draining process. We realized, most importantly, that adoption is not second best.

I can still vividly remember the first time that Julie and I met Laura at the adoption agency. This young lady and her parents had reviewed a dozen or more profiles, ours among them, which had been submitted to the agency by prospective adoptive parents. She had decided she wanted to meet with us in person. Julie and I had made the drive to Virginia that January morning, and the thought that Laura may select us to parent her child was overwhelming and humbling. I’m actually not sure who was more nervous as we sat and talked that morning, but the conversation flowed easily, and we received word a couple of weeks later that we would be parents of a baby boy. I’m not ashamed to say that I cried like a baby, and had a hard time explaining to Julie why I was sobbing when I called to give her the good news. Ethan was born in February of 2005 and when he officially joined our family in a celebration at the agency, we shed more tears of joy!

Check in next week for Part 2 to hear how this family of three became a family of four.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Who Are You Thankful For Today?

Have you noticed that the social media feeds are full of thankfulness this month?  It seems fairly easy to write a quick tweet or status update, highlighting something that we appreciate every day.  But, how many times do we make the effort to write a note or make a phone call (like we all used to do) to tell someone that we're thankful for them?  That's a little more direct and uncomfortable for most of us, but is probably something we should do more often.

I have been thinking about this for the past week, after my dad told me about a phone call he received out of the blue last week.  He has been a preacher for many years and received a phone call from a lady, whom he had not had any contact with in many years, who was calling just to tell him "thank you" for telling her about Jesus sixteen years ago.  She shared how that moment made a difference in her life and how she thanks God daily for his life-changing impact on her, as a teenager, that day.

That turned his day around...not because he had done anything extraordinary...but because of the simple act of hearing "thanks" and realizing that the impact he made was not forgotten.  Who has made a difference in your life, in your adoption journey, or in your family - maybe recently or maybe years ago?  Will you accept the challenge to step out of your comfort zone and express gratitude this month to that person or group of people who are special in your life?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Winter Market 2011 - Lynchburg, VA

If you live within driving distance of Lynchburg, VA - you do not want to miss the upcoming Winter Market.  Enjoy a holiday shopping experience with vendors offering jewelry, clothing, gourmet food items, home decor, personalized gifts, and much more!  Enter to win a free pair of tickets today by going to the WinterMarket LGF Facebook page and commenting on the wall photo posted on November 4th - it's that easy.

All proceeds benefit the Liberty Godparent Foundation which provides funding for Family Life Services and the Liberty Godparent Home.

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