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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Updated: Apr 21

I had the rare chance to speak to a birth mother about her experience in placing her child up for adoption. After learning so much from my last series on 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Adoption (click here to find part one of that series), I knew there was more to be learned from the birth mother. Although she is praised among adoptive parents as being the most selfless person there is and giving the best gift anyone could ever hope to give, unfortunately, in society, she can be questioned and ridiculed. So when I set out to interview a birth mom, I was unsure what I would find.


I have a large online network via my own personal accounts and decided to not only tap into those but tap into a couple of mom-owned business networks I’m a part of as well to see what I could find. So many women were excited to hear what a birth mom would say in an interview, and a couple of people said they would reach out to women who fit this description to see if they would be willing to be anonymously interviewed - I didn’t hear back from a single lead. Then, after almost a month of searching out a woman who would be willing to share her journey, I found someone who actually describes herself as an adoption advocate. She’s worked with the same charity that helped her for 15 years, sharing her story, and counseling other women who are thinking about making the same choice she did.


Below is a transcript of our conversation.



Pearcia (Me): Thank you so much for meeting with me! I’m so honored to hear your story!

Sue - Not Real Name (Birth Mom): Of course! I actually love sharing my story.

P: Wow, I’ve had the hardest time finding a woman to open up about her journey. Why do you think it is so easy for you?

S: Easy isn’t the right word, but when I first decided what I was going to do, someone shared with me and it was so helpful. I want to help other women too.


P: I love that. Let’s start with a quick synopsis of who you are today before we dig into the past.

S: I’m a High School English teacher. I’m married and have three kids, ages 7, 4, and 2. I love being all three of these things: Mom, Wife, Teacher.


P: Perfect. Okay, well, let’s dig in! What led up to you being pregnant?

S: I was raised very conservative. At the time, I was in college and was dating for the first time in my life. I realized I was in an abusive relationship and was able to get out of it, but soon discovered I might be pregnant. At first, I was confused because I didn’t feel like we had done “enough” for me to get pregnant. Really, I just didn’t know much about it.

P: That had to be hard on a couple of different levels!

S: It was, I was basically in denial. I wasn’t feeling well at all so I went to the doctor with my mom and that is when I not only found out I was pregnant but also had to confess to my mom (and myself really) that I was sexually active.

P: Eesh. How did that go?

S: Well, as I said, I was raised exceptionally conservative, so there was a lot of shame around being pregnant outside of marriage. Since abortion was never even on the table for us, my mom was the one that really led the way to seek out adoption as my only option.


P: Was it the only option in your mind? Had you considered raising the child yourself?

S: Absolutely. I knew being a single mom would be hard and I knew I could do it. But ultimately, it wasn’t about me. Sure I wanted to make the best decision for my life, but mostly I wanted to make the best decision for the baby’s life.

P: That’s a huge undertaking! Where did you start?

S: We were put in touch with a charity that would help with adoptions from the beginning. I really loved working with them because they never told me what to do or even helped to make decisions. They were there as a guide as I figured out what I wanted to do.

P: So how did you figure out what you wanted to do?

S: *laughs* Actually, I made a pros and cons list!

P: Really? That’s fantastic! *laughs* Is this something you do in life?

S: Yes, I’m a huge list maker! Even though I knew I could personally be a single mom [because reaching to the abusive father was never something I would have considered], I wanted the sort of upbringing for this child that I had. I wanted them to go to Disneyland, and go on camping trips, and have family outings. I knew none of this would happen if I kept the baby, so I agreed with my mom that adoption was the best option.


P: Did you waver through the pregnancy, or were you steadfast in your decision?

S: It was hard to go through and it’s even hard now at times, so I’m sure I wavered, but the charity I worked with was very supportive. They never put any pressure on me. In fact, nothing was final until after I left the hospital without the baby. Any wavering I did was my own doubts about me and my future.

P: Apart from your mom, did you have support to choose adoption?

S: I had different levels of different support. My mom was the “pusher” of what is the best thing for me (rather than the child). My Dad cried with me once and then held the quiet supportive role. My sister was only 16 at the time and ended up being a great listener and support. I was nervous about telling friends on campus and in the Catholic community, but they ended up being great! I was so grateful to not sit in shame the entire time. The Social Worker was amazing. It was always 100% my decision. I was free to change my mind, and I was told everything would be okay no matter what I chose. The charity even offered financial support, but I was still on my dad’s insurance so we didn’t need it.


P: Moving onto the adoption itself - was it hard to decide if you wanted a closed or open adoption?

S: Actually, the charity we worked with only does open adoptions. So that was decided for me.

P: And you were comfortable with that?

S: I assumed I’d wait for about a year after the birth to get in contact with the adoptive family, but I couldn’t even wait a month! The family was happy to connect with me and we’ve been in touch ever since.



Dear readers: There is so much more to tell you, but I will hold it for next week. This sweet birth mother will take you through the process of picking a family, tell you about her relationship with the family and the child, and share how she is doing now. You won’t want to miss it! Click here for part two of “A Story of a Birth Mom”.


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Did you realize it’s already Spring? We just celebrated the first day of spring on March 20th, and soon we will celebrate Easter. Now is the time for spring cleaning, fasting to renew our focus, and rebirth. Out with the old and in with the new!



I love the spring because it gives us a second chance to look at how we are starting out the year. When January 1st hits, you are ready and excited with New Year’s resolutions. These can be connected to weight loss, fitness, health, stopping something, starting something, reconciliation, and more. But more often than not, March 20th rolls around, and without knowing how or why, you’ve found yourself right back where you were back in October. What’s the deal?


Habits are hard. And one of the hardest habits to change is one many of us don’t even recognize we have: negative self-talk. We perpetually talk to ourselves and/or about ourselves all day long, without even realizing it; and how we talk quickly becomes our perspective on life. In our home, I don’t let anyone speak in negative absolutes about themselves. Why? Because it sets up a negative starting point and makes things harder to overcome.


“I can’t do it." turns into “I’m not able to do it yet.”

“I’ll never be any good.” turns into “I’m not as good as I want to be.”

“This is too hard.” turns into “I need help.”


If you are saying anything in the first column out loud, I guarantee you are saying it exponentially more to yourself. The first set of sayings keeps a person trapped and stuck where they are in life and creates a belief that there is no room for change. With the second set of sayings, growth is asked for and expected. Similarly, if you are saying these things out loud, it is because you are saying things to yourself like: “I will reach my goal,” “I can get better,” and “This will happen for me!” Doesn’t that sound better?!


It’s hard to catch these little things, but it’s so important to start realizing where we are allowing negative words to permeate our identity. People so often start in the wrong place - I need to lose this habit, I need to gain this habit… but if you fundamentally don’t believe you are capable of change (“I’ll never finish - I’ll always be like this - My mom had this problem too”) then it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. However, if you start with creating positive self-talk you’ll be amazed at how your self-belief (and even your abilities) will follow in suit.


If you are unsure how to change your self-talk, I suggest two things. First, start saying positive affirmations about yourself. When I first learned about this I thought it was hooey. Fast forward a number of years, I’m in a training program for leaders, and guess what our first homework assignment was: come up with three possible affirmations we can repeat to ourselves. Sigh, okay fine, I'll do it. Initially, mine were:


  1. I see opportunity for growth where others see insurmountable problems

  2. I am great at remembering names and faces

  3. God will put me in the right place at the right time to meet the right people to help push me forward.


When I first made this list, I believed none of them. But as I simply started the practice of saying them to myself aloud every day, I was shocked at how my network was growing because of the people I was remembering. It was someone else that eventually called attention to my ability to problem-solve instead of getting stuck. The last one was the hardest because I overthought everything too much, but eventually realized that not only was God putting people in my life to help push me forward, but he was putting me in their life to help them move forward as well! Sooner than later I had to come up with new affirmations because my self-talk was changing my self-belief!


The second thing I suggest in helping you change your self-talk is to compliment others. This stemmed from the symbiotic relationship I realized we all have when I was working with my third affirmation. I’m not telling you to offer meaningless lip service, nor am I encouraging you to fish for compliments by giving them to others. I’m suggesting you start changing your environment by being a positive force in other’s lives. This not only helps you have a positive outlook on those around you but helps them to have a positive experience as well. It can be overt like randomly complimenting someone’s appearance (“Your hair looks amazing today!”), or it can be purposeful like adding one to the end of a thank-you (“Thank you, you are so kind, I really enjoy working with you.”). Passively complimenting others can be surprising and fun too! I do this all the time with my friends and family. It sounds something like this:


Child: You know what is awesome?

Me: You!

Or

Spouse: You want to hear something amazing?

Me: You mean you? Yes!

Or

Friend: You know what would be really fun?

Me: Hanging out with you.


When I first started doing this, I would completely take the other person off guard. Now, it’s so commonplace, my kids will typically respond with: “Yes, and….” and tell me whatever they were going to say. My compliment is helping change their self-talk which is inadvertently positively affecting our relationship.


Did you know it takes, on average, 10 positive comments to mentally erase a negative one? So compliment people all the livelong day because who doesn’t need that? You will be retraining your brain to believe positive things about those around you and you will be uplifting someone else as well. Moreover, you will be creating a more positive space for everyone involved as everyone will get a chance to rewrite some negative self-talk.


So this Spring, as we are experiencing renewal, growth, and rebirth, do some spring cleaning on your mind! Make sure you are actively practicing ways to retrain your brain. 2021 is just getting started and God has a ton in store for you. Don’t miss out by being stuck in negative thought patterns and old ways of thinking. Say something positive about yourself every day - write it on your bathroom mirror and stick a posted note on your steering wheel! And don’t forget to pass the positivity onto someone else! You’ll find your goals and dreams and hopes for the future will look brighter than ever!


Happy Spring everyone!


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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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