IN THE WAITING

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
 In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths."

Proverbs 3:5-6

A place to find encouragement when you're trying to trust God in the unknown. "In The Waiting" is the official blog of MyBabysFamily.com; a ministry that supports hopeful families seeking to grow through adoption.

 
 
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Self * Friends & Family * Adopted Child * Birth Family * OUTSIDE FACTORS



This is the last installment of this series. Over the course of a month, I interviewed a number of adoptive parents with the goal to write a single post. What I walked away with was a wealth of information from people who love adoption, and, by extension, love you. To read the other pieces on the five things you should know about adoption, click on each link here: on yourself, on your friends and family, on your adopted child, and on the birth family.


This piece is to catch what didn’t or wouldn’t fit into the other categories and will focus on any outside factors that surround the topic of adoption. Of course, every adoption is different which means what has worked for one family may not be possible in another situation. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn as much as you can from people who went before you and are years down the road with their uniquely made family.



1. Tell your child they are adopted


This is important for so many reasons. Fundamentally, you want to be honest with your child - don’t allow your child the opportunity to question their trust in you. Starting the conversation will feel hard, but it gets much easier once the ball is rolling. Chances are, your child will bring it up. They probably won’t come right out and ask if they are adopted, but one mom shared a time their child saw a family friend who was pregnant and asked, “Did I grow in your tummy too?” She hadn’t expected the question, but it prompted the conversation; she finished by telling her. “You didn’t grow in my tummy, but you grew in my heart.” Her child was about 2 when this happened. This might seem young, but the younger you start, the more natural and easy the conversations will be. There are some amazing children’s books available for both you and your child to help facilitate and answer questions that come up during these conversations.



2. Lack of information is normal


If you are adopting internationally or have a closed adoption, not having much information on your child is normal. This includes medical information. It might sound odd, but just be confident in your lack of knowledge. No need to apologize to the doctor, or do a bunch of explaining to the school. It’s perfectly acceptable to keep saying, “I don’t know” to people when they ask questions about the birth family. There are some adoptions where the birthdate is uncertain, or the age is a guess. It’s okay. Pick a date and an age and move forward. It really is okay. If you are in serious need of finding genetic history or predispositions, there are many kits you can order through the mail and get this information. If you are doing a fost-adopt, you can even try genealogy websites, though they typically tell virtual connections a new family member is found, so be aware of this and check with your agency to make sure this is copasetic.



3. Do your research


This was mentioned by two parents who both had international adoptions. They said to be aware that corruption could be involved. At their suggestion, I’m going to leave it there and simply repeat their advice: “Do your research.”



4. Your family dynamics will change


This seems to go without saying, but multiple people kept saying this. Sure, they knew they were bringing a new child into their family and they needed to make sure their vehicle fit everyone, but there were many things they didn’t think about. One set of parents simply forgot what it was like to have an infant in the house. Another mom said she knew what she was taking on with a new infant, but the last time she had babies they could stay home all day. Now she had a teenager and an elementary school kid that had school, sports practice, extracurricular activities, and more. Having a baby while also getting her older kids places was something she never really focused on. A dad told me all his close friends had kids the same age as his other kids. No one he knew had a baby and he wanted to expand his friend circle to include people who had an infant too. Moreover, if you already have kids, make sure to include them when you talk about changing logistics. Will they share a room? Or do they leave things in the living room and will no longer be able to do that? Do they practice a musical instrument that will need to not happen during nap time? Do they have a regular place to sit in the car and will need to move because a new car seat will need that spot? Think about things from their perspective and talk through with them why these changes are being made. Sibling rivalry is normal, but it’s always nice to keep it at bay as long as possible.



5. Satan hates adoption.


I mentioned this in a previous blog, but it’s worth having its own bullet point. You are on the front line doing some major spiritual battle. And just because your adoption is finalized, it doesn’t mean Satan is done messing with your family. The Bible describes Satan as a thief who comes to destroy you and a lion who comes to devour you. Some of the sweet families I spoke with shared how there were times in the past that they were on the brink of divorce. Another parent said one of their children struggled with suicidal thoughts for a while. I’m brilliantly happy to report that every family I spoke with is currently happy and thriving. But all of them said to keep praying. Which, to be honest, is Biblical. We are told to “never cease praying” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and to “be of sober spirit, be on the alert” (1 Peter 5:8).


So, as you continue on this journey, remember, it is a lifelong journey that holds countless blessings and numerous rewards. It will be hard. You will question yourself and you might even question your God. But it will be worth it. I promise you. And with that, I’ll leave you with Philippians 1:3-6.


“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”


Amen


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Self * Friends & Family * Adopted Child * BIRTH FAMILY * Outside Factors



Adoption is a beautiful story about redemption, love, and grace. So often we only focus on the child though, and not where the child came from. It’s as if we want to box up the time before we knew our child and put it on a shelf and not come back to it unless a doctor tells us we must. However, let’s remember that a birth mother is a person too, with history, feelings, hopes, and a future.


I’ve interviewed a number of people who have adopted in hopes to pass on some words of wisdom they wished someone had told them. We’ve already gone through self, friends and family, and the adopted child. Today we will focus on the birth mom and family and what adoptive parents wish they had considered before they started the adoption process.



1. You know you’ll love the child, expect to love the mom too


Depending on the age of the child you adopt and the circumstances surrounding the child’s availability, you’ll not only get to read about the child but the mother too. What numerous adoptive moms told me was how they would first fall in love with the mother. They would see her as so brave and selfless and would want to do whatever she required so she would feel comfortable with the entire process. If they weren’t selected by the birth mom, they expected sadness due to the process of finding their child taking longer. What they weren’t expecting was the heartache of losing the mom too. Many adoptive moms pray for birth moms; so when the adoptive mom believes she’s found the woman she’s been praying for, it is almost like a break up to discover this isn’t the woman that will birth your child. I found this beautifully heartbreaking.



2. If you have the choice, choose an open adoption


This isn’t always possible, and sometimes the choice is made for you. However, when given the choice, the vast majority of adoptive parents said it is healthier for the child, in the long run, to not ever have to question where they came from. This brings more voices to the table that can be seen as drama or something to deal with. But remember, without this birth family, your child wouldn’t exist. Keep the conversations kid-centric and have well-defined boundaries. Open adoption allows for more family connections like grandparents, family trees, and for your child to hear why an adoption plan was made for them. Sidenote: even with a closed adoption, many adoption agencies ask for yearly updates on the child for the birth parents to see if they ever want to take a look.



3. Your child was not rejected


It’s important for you to know this. It’s important for your child to hear this from you. More often than not, birth families carefully consider what to do. Adoption was their choice. They believed this would be the best thing for your child and they chose you. Please don’t do them the disservice of believing anything but the best about them and definitely don’t talk bad about them to your child. International adoption can see cases where the parents died, but again, this isn’t rejection. Even in a Safe Haven case where a child was left at the hospital or similar place, the parent believes they are making the right choice for the child. Going into adoption and believing anything less about the birth family will only tumble out of your mouth as negativity later.



4. God will redeem the birth mom’s story too


Like I stated at the beginning, so often we only think about the child and the new family unit that was just created. But for the majority of adoption cases, there is a birth mom doing their best to deal with the decision they just made. God sees them. God has growth and joy and victory for them too. This decision might be the start of something for you, but it doesn’t mean it is the end of something for them. Pray for them always. Not just before and during the adoption process. Not just because you want a mature and put-together person for your child to meet someday. Pray for them because they are an integral part of God’s plan and their value and worth go beyond providing you a child.



5. Talk to someone who placed their child in adoption


This can be tricky as it’s not something people usually advertise about themselves and they usually don’t want to be the go-to person every family talks to before adoption. However, if you are able to talk with a woman who went through the other side of the process you are about to go through, it can help you tremendously. It will help you frame your mindset appropriately for when you communicate with the birth mom of your child. It will help put a picture in your mind of a successful adoption process. It will help humanize your birth mom as you get to hear some of the emotions she might deal with during her process. It will open your eyes to more perspectives within the adoption world. It will help you speak with grace when your child asks questions later in life about their own birth family.


Many parents said they never felt closer to God than when they were going through the adoption journey. The compassion you gain for the birth family is surreal. The trust you must have in the Lord is huge. The reality of holding your hopes and dreams in an open hand for God to give and take away is painstakingly vulnerable. But it’s so, so worth it. Every moment is unexpected and hard and beautiful all at the same time. But then, that’s parenting.


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Self * Friends & Family * ADOPTED CHILD * Birth Family * Outside Factors



You are in the middle of reading a series based on a number of interviews I did with adoptive families. The first piece was what you’ll need to know for yourself. You can find this piece here. The second piece found here is focused on your existing support network of friends and family and how they will help and hurt you simultaneously. This piece is all about your sweet adopted child. Whether you are still waiting to meet them, or you’ve lived with them for years, there is something for you in this piece.


What I’ve learned is each and every adoption story starts from a place of loss. I had never thought about this before, but of course, it does. Loss of a parent and family, loss of relatives that look like you, loss of family history… and if it’s an international adoption, the loss of language, culture, and tradition as well. But don’t fret, God is amazing at redemption! Below you’ll find some sage pieces of wisdom from those who have gone before you. Of course, each child is different, and each family should make their own decisions about what they think is best for those involved.



1. Redefine trauma


When most people think of trauma, scenes from their favorite hospital TV show come to mind. But trauma comes in all shapes and sizes and the worst thing to do to trauma is to ignore it or reclassify it so you can pretend it doesn’t exist. There is some research that suggests there is a “primal wound” of children who are not raised by their biological mother simply because the voice and heartbeat they listened to while being formed in the womb is no longer part of their life. I don’t bring this up to say it is true or not as there is a lot of discussion as to the validity of this claim; however, it does redefine trauma and when or where it can start. As we allow for trauma to take on a new definition, more and more experiences are allowed to be processed as they should. One teenager I spoke with said she didn’t realize what it would be like to get reconnected with her biological mom. She described walking into a family reunion and seeing so many people that she looked like. “It wasn’t traumatic at all, but it was something I kept thinking about. I finally told my [adopted] mom that even though I looked just like these people, I didn’t feel close to them. It was weird.” Similarly, those who have created bi-racial families through adoption said they’ve learned that society expects families to “match”. Even though biracial marriages have been legal in all 50 states for more than 50 years now, there is still a reaction when people see your family looks different than they expect. This is something your child will experience their whole life as they show pictures of themselves growing up and introduce friends to you, their family. This might not sound “traumatic”, but to those who are living it, it certainly can be. Talking about it and/or giving your child a safe person to talk with, like a counselor, is helpful.



2. Adopting older children can mean they’ve experienced more trauma


This should not be a deterrent to adopting an older child, but it should be something to be aware of as you start and grow your family. As you’ve prayed for this child, chances are you’ll love them almost immediately. This may not be the same for the child and this will have nothing to do with you. They want to love you and probably do, but they’ve had people in their life who have left and they could be fearful it will be the same with you. Allow bonding to happen on their terms and in their timeline. This can be frustrating, but it builds health and trust between the two of you. As they are part of your family longer they will feel more secure - but as their brain understands more complex things, they will test you to make sure what they know about you and your love is still true. One parent of a fost-adopt child explained how her son would lash out and verbally attack her only to apologize and give her a hug a few days later because he wanted to see if she would still be there for him. She knew she would be, but he felt the need to test this again. This had nothing to do with her, and everything to do with his past trying to fit into his future.



3. Puberty can restart insecurities in your child


This is true for all children, but I felt it warranted being said since insecurities can be different for adopted kids. You might feel like a certain topic is behind you, but Satan will whisper lies and their hormones will take control. A parent shared with me that their daughter had lived with them for almost 10 years, but one afternoon she was feeling sad their neighbor took the dog they were trying out back to the shelter. After trying to process with their daughter why she was so upset by this, their daughter blurted out with tears streaming down her face that she didn’t know you could return a dog and what if they ever wanted to return her? This parent was shocked and rather mortified their daughter would even consider this, so quickly and earnestly she told her child this was never a possibility and she was her mom forever. Grace and love and patience are key.



4. Holidays can be odd


This was shared by multiple families who have open adoptions. They explained there are specific times their child sees their birth family, but the holidays are not typically one of them. This can be because the holidays are already so busy, but mostly because they found this to be a healthy boundary as they built their own family traditions. Since the holidays are usually a time most Americans see the family they don’t normally get to see, adoptive parents learned it can be odd for the child since they can’t comprehend family or social dynamics. The child knows there is a family out there they aren’t seeing. This doesn’t need to change, but it does need to be addressed when the child notices. It’s easy to rush about during this time of year, but take the time to notice your child’s mood and emotions and give them the opportunity to talk and ask questions.



5. Figure out what decisions you can let your child control


As with any child, giving them choices is a great way to give them a sense of security. Your adoptive child is no different. One family told me they used to have a couple of pictures of their child with their birth family up at their house and their child finally told them they didn’t like them up. They liked thinking about their adoption on their own terms, and having pictures up in their home forced them to think about it all the time. So they took the pictures down and put them in an album that could be looked through at their child’s discretion. Another child learned about his country of origin at a school fair and asked if the family wanted to try some food from this country. These are great ways to let your child contribute to the family being safe and healthy for all. If your child feels the opposite of these examples, that is fine too. The point is to talk with them and allow them to decide.



Each family is different and gets to decide what is best for their child and their home. And each child is unique and will come with their own set of baggage. Adoption is something God has ordained and blessed. Be confident that when God laid adoption on your heart, not only did he choose you, but he chose your child as well. You are living out his redemption story, and it is beautiful! Our next piece will dive into the hidden world of the birth family.


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