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


We’ve all heard someone say: “If only my younger self knew then what my older self knows now. Perhaps you’ve even been the one to say it! Well, this includes many parts of life and adoption is no different. I’ve interviewed a number of people who have walked the adoption journey (some more than once) and have gathered some choice pieces of wisdom to impart to all of you. Please comment below with any advice you think would be helpful as well as each topic is posted.


I’ve decided to first focus on you, the would-be adoptive parent. So often adoption is painted as a shiny beautiful act that should be aspired to. Many people walk into it with an abundance of hope and love and put everything else to the side. What I’ve learned, is you need to make sure you are taken care of first, and taken care of well. This is not to say that only near-perfect people should endeavor to adopt, but I am saying you need to not forget about your own wellbeing. If you’ve ever flown before, you know you are to put your oxygen mask on first, and then help your child put their mask on. So, here are the top five things you should know about adoption with YOU in mind.



1. Be honest with yourself.


As you start the adoption process, you’ll be asked a myriad of questions about what “type” of child you are interested in and/or willing to adopt. Immediately, your answers might be all-encompassing, because you just want a child to love and nurture and it doesn’t matter what they look like, their disabilities, or their family background. And initially, this is true. But adoption is forever, and you need to do the work to discover what you want, and what you are willing to sacrifice. Knowing your limits or boundaries will help you down the road when are confronted with crossing them. One parent confessed that after going down the road of adoption with one child, as they learned more and more about this child, they realized they were feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and scared. After finally voicing this to the adoption agency they were informed there was initially another family interested in this child and it would be better to let go now than adopt with this foundation. They let go, the child was adopted by another family, and they found a child that they felt more comfortable and confident about. And on that note, be graceful with yourself. Every. Step. Of. The. Way. You will learn things about yourself that you never thought you would. Surround yourself with loving and supportive people and do not be afraid, ashamed, or guilty about what you are learning. This is healthier for everyone involved.



2. Surround yourself with the right encouragement


Even though we want to believe our friends and family are exactly what we need, they will invariably come up short. (More on this in the next piece.) The right encouragement starts with the Bible. Steep yourself in the Word of God first. As one mom pointed out: “Satan hates adoption because it is a story about redemption and reconciliation.” Satan will mentally and emotionally attack you, causing you to doubt everything. Anything from if you responded to your child well, to if you are equipped to raise your child. You might even question if you “picked the right child”. Stop it. Shut Satan down by reading God’s Word and praying continually. The second step to finding the right encouragement is to fill your circle of friends with other’s who have adopted. This will give you a safe place to say things out loud that you might not want to say out loud to those who haven’t gone through what you are experiencing. Solidarity. It helps. Luckily, if you’ve found someone else who has adopted, you’ve most likely found someone who will be there for you. One mom started by saying: “I love encouraging people no matter where they are in the adoption spectrum. God could be planting seeds for people to adopt one day or maybe they will not adopt but they will have friends who adopt a child someday. Or maybe their children will choose to adopt and we will be supporting them through an adoption! We all can grow in understanding adoption-related issues!”



3. You are not a hero


This might seem harsh, but a savior-complex is often bundled along with the shiny aura given to adoption. You are not saving your child. Perhaps the child came from different circumstances than the ones you will be providing them, but Jesus alone is our Savior. Not you. Not me. Not the adoption agency. Noone but Jesus. Although everyone who brought this up during the interview process didn’t claim to come into adoption with this in mind - they did say that their friends and family often put this weight on their shoulders. Be clear (with yourself and others) that you are not rescuing this child, but merely building your family in an unconventional way. Positioning the adoptive parent as the hero can unintentionally position the birth parent as the villain. God’s plan is for good for all parties involved. In a later post, I’ll talk more about the birth family and how this is all entwined.



4. Secondary trauma is real


All adoption stems from loss, and this will show up in untold ways. As you watch and do what you can to help your child process this loss at various stages in their life, you can experience what is known as secondary trauma. Not only are you getting hurt as your child is sorting through their own pain, but over time you can internalize this pain as well. Moreover, this can lead to emotional burnout or “compassion fatigue”. There is a wealth of information about this and I don’t pretend to be a psychologist. I recommend doing your own research to help you guard against this. And above all, there is zero shame in getting a counselor for yourself. One parent said it was a revelation to realize their child wasn’t the only one who needed counseling. Remember, care for yourself so you can care for the child.



5. It’s hard. But it’s so worth it


Adoption presses you in every imaginable way. It will press your identity, your marriage, your friendships, your family relationships, your work, your finances, your children… everything. If your spouse isn’t on board, wait. Make sure the two of you are on the same page. Don’t add more stress and possible loss to your and your child’s future. If you don’t feel secure in your finances, wait. If your health isn’t where you want it, wait. I am not ever saying to not adopt if adoption has been placed on your heart. God is calling you for a reason. But part of His reason could be some preemptive healing for you: in your self-esteem, your marriage, your finances, and more. Not one person I spoke with said they wished they hadn’t adopted. Not one person I spoke with said they would discourage others from adopting. But everyone did say it was harder than they thought it would be. Worth it - 100% worth every moment, but hard too.


It is our hope in sharing these words of wisdom from those who have gone before you, to better equip this next generation of adoptive parents. The next post will be all about your family and friends: their intention to help and support might not always feel that way, and what to do. Until then, keep reading the Bible, praying for yourself, your child, and their birth family. God has big things in store for you!


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A new year can bring hope, dreams and vision for the future. It represents something fresh, something different, a change you want to make in your life, or something you want to be different in your environment.


This particular new year is one of extraordinary anticipation. One filled with expectation and a yearning for resolution. A deep desire for unwanted experiences to end and a turning of a new leaf to usher in change.


However, I’ve often thought it odd that we put so much pressure on a single day. As if a simple change of calendar will also change our circumstances. It is we who decide our attitude, our actions, and our efforts. We all deal with disappointment, failure, and fear in various forms throughout our lives, and even throughout our day. It is how we respond and react to these common distractions that guide our experiences.


When I am feeling down and overwhelmed by my life, I find looking to the Bible rather than a calendar will lift my spirits. Two books specifically bring me comfort during these times by aligning my heart to things that truly matter. They are Lamentations, and Job. Seems crazy to find hope in such heavy books, but they offer amazing messages. Let me tell you more.


Lamentations is a book describing a Godly person’s remorse over their (and their people’s) own actions and where they are now due to these choices. Chapter 3 verses 22-24 are a classic reminder to those of us who blame ourselves for our circumstances:


The faithful love of the LORD never ends!

His mercies never cease.

Great is his faithfulness;

his mercies begin afresh each morning.

I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance;

therefore, I will hope in him!”


If you read the rest of the book, you’ll find multiple descriptions of the desolate place the author finds themselves. They are aware of God’s love and the countless times they’ve turned their back on God’s open arms. Instead of assigning blame to family, work, country, political leaders, culture or anything else, the author accepts responsibility for their actions and praises the Lord that he keeps no record of wrong doings. Instead, “his mercies begin afresh each morning.” In other words, it doesn’t matter what happened yesterday, it matters what I do with today.


As 2021 hovers before us, instead of focusing on our negative habits and how we want to change them, I challenge each of us to focus on the positive and how we can bring more of it into our lives and the lives of those around us. It might not seem that different to you, but starting from a positive place, allows the self-condemnation of starting from a negative place to never take root in our fresh new day.


On the other end of the spectrum, we find Job. In this book, we hear of a man that is righteous before the Lord and is still struck down with every awful thing imaginable: loss of home, business, family, wealth, children, and even his personal health. He has every reason to be upset with his circumstance as it is explained he caused none of it! After his wife’s misguided attempt to show compassion towards him by suggesting he curse God and end his suffering, Job responds with wisdom and grace:


Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?


I find this remarkable. To have the humility to grasp God’s infinite wisdom and understand his plan goes beyond his own mere happiness is something I contemplate daily. This last year has brought many circumstances to us all which we had no influence on or ability to change. We have only been able to react and respond. Just as God’s mercies for us are new each day so is our reservoir of faith, hope, and love. If this proves to be too challenging for you, I suggest allowing the serenity prayer to become something more than a cliche. I prefer the original order to the prayer, asking for courage first: “Father, give us courage to change what must be altered, serenity to accept what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other.” After all, having faith in what we do not see, having hope in the midst of despair, and loving in all circumstances takes courage. Courage I believe each of us can have.


So as we come to the end of 2020, and look forward to what 2021 will bring, I offer that we get to decide what this will be. Will our lamentations simply end with despair or will we recognize where hope comes from and seek out God’s best for us? Will our circumstances dictate our mood, or will we acknowledge God’s sovereignty and praise him for including us in his plan? Instead of thinking about new years resolutions, let's think about daily resolutions and living on purpose. Let’s all resolve to bring more love, grace, hope, faith, and truth into this world. Together, we can make our world a better place by making our outlook a more positive perspective.


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The Christmas season can be a hard season for families who are seeking to adopt. It can be hard on expecting mothers too.


For families who are trying unsuccessfully to grow their family, it can be a constant reminder of what is lacking in their lives. It can be the laughter of children, the cry of a baby, the joy of a full house, of stories told, and of family memories made.


For a woman facing difficult decisions in their pregnancy, it can be equally stressful to deal with a judgemental family, or no family at all. Maybe it is a reminder of an absent father, or an uncertain financial future, or fear of being a good mom.


For both, it can be hard to experience Christmas.


Christmas is a season of expectation. We expect it to be a time where families celebrate together. We expect to hear the traditional Christmas story. We hear about birth and life. We hear about God reshaping the life of a scared, pregnant teenage girl. We hear about Jesus. And how his arrival in this world signified a major shift for our future, redefining hope, and faith, and love.


This is the Christmas story we expect to hear.


But the birth of Jesus also forever redefined something else. It also redefined adoption.


The most significant adoption ever happened over two thousand years ago, and it would have enormous implications for us all. You may not realize this, but the birth of Jesus was also an adoption.


What if I told you that it was you who got adopted? That we are all adopted sons and adopted daughters?


And yet this is exactly what happened over two thousand years ago. Yes, the story of Jesus is one of birth, and of life, and it is about faith, and hope and love, but it is also an adoption story.


It is the story of your adoption.


The power of Jesus' birth is that it opened up a path for us all to live eternally in the Father’s house. It opened up a window of opportunity to step through the gates of heaven and to eternally live with our Creator.


Too often we view adoption as a “less than” strategy. Or we see it as a plan B. Maybe we believe that an adopted son or an adopted daughter is not a FULL son or daughter. And yet, this is completely contradictory to God’s definition of adoption.


In God’s Kingdom, adoption is a full-heir, with full rights of sonship and daughtership. It is an eternal identity.


Birth?

Temporary.


Our bodies and our lives?

Temporary.


Death?

That too was rendered temporary through Jesus's resurrection.


But adoption?

Well, that is a permanent and eternal status.


Ephesians 1: 4-5(NLT)
4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

Does this sound like a plan B? God's plan, before he even made the world, was to love us and to choose us! He decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus.


Friends -

Adoption is biblical, and it brings God great pleasure! If you are pregnant and afraid, know that God loves you and that adoption gives him great pleasure. If you are considering adoption as part of your family planning journey know that God is pleased with adoption and that this is his own plan A for us!


As you celebrate this season, no matter your situation, take a moment to reflect on the eternal and permanent nature of adoption. Take some time to ponder the significance of what it means to be adopted, and the eternal impact of our adoption into the Kingdom of God through his son Jesus Christ.


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