Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Lonely Little Ache

Tonight, I have a lonely little ache in my heart for two very special little people I have never even met. As I type, a tear trickles down my cheek.

Today, I watched happy mommas playing with and caring for their children. I listened as the mommas discuss what they are getting their children for Christmas, and I think about how we won't be celebrating Christmas with our children this year. I wonder, when will it be my turn to hug and kiss my little ones? I have a lonely ache for the sound of children's chatter and laughter, the patter of little feet.  My mother's heart longs for my children - to see them and feel their soft skin, to hold them in my arms.

In this adoption process, I miss the physical connection that a pregnant mommy must feel for her child.  She has a growing tummy; I have a growing stack of paperwork.  When she is far enough along, she will be able to get a sonogram and see her baby, and to hear her baby's heartbeat; when we are matched with our children, I will get an email with their pictures, perhaps.  As her baby grows inside her, she will be able to feel the baby move and kick; I am thousands of miles from my children and can only dream of them. (I must be slightly jealous of pregnant women, getting to have their babies grow in them.  Of course adoption has its advantages too--Like not having to go through labor and delivery.)

Tonight, I will go to sleep missing my children, yet unknown to me.  Perhaps in my sleep I can dream of them.  Good night.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Destination Adoption: Where We Are Now and the Road Ahead

A month and a half ago, Andrew and I started a journey.  Our destination is adopting a sibling group from Bulgaria.  I wanted to briefly outline our adoption journey for those of you who are unfamiliar with the international adoption process.


Mountain of Paperwork: The Next 5-6 Months

Right now, Andrew and I are climbing the "mountain of paperwork."  This includes the following documents (most of which have to be notarized) which we will be compiling over the next several months:
  • a homestudy ( about a six week process)
  • an inspection of our home by a fireman
  • documents showing we have had parenting and adoption training
  • blood work and forms signed by a medical doctor to show we are physically healthy and capable of parenting
  • a mental exam and forms signed by a psychiatrist to show we are mentally healthy and capable of parenting
  • documentation of our finances
  • birth certificates and marriage license in triplicate
  • power of attorney for our adoption agency
  • FBI Criminal History Clearance
  • Child Abuse Clearance
  • Photos of our family and home
  • USCIS form i800a (approval from immigration to adopt so that our children will become US citizens)
  • and more...
When we are finished with our part of the "mountain of paperwork", we can easily descend the other side.  We will send all of our adoption paperwork to our agency, who will have each document apostilled (authenticated) at the state level.  Then all of this adoption paperwork (called a Dossier) will be sent to Bulgaria to be translated into Bulgarian.  Our translated dossier will then be registered at the Bulgarian Minister of Justice's office.

Plateau of Waiting

Next Andrew and I will travel a vast "Plateau of Waiting." To me, this will be even harder than the all paperwork. There will be nothing I can do to speed up our adoption, only wait.  I confess, I am not very good at waiting. 

During this phase, we will be on a waiting list of people requesting to adopt from Bulgaria. Orphans are matched up to families, based on what type of child the family requested (gender, age, special needs, siblings or single child, etc.)  Our adoption agency tells us that we can expect a wait from 6 -18 months to be matched with a healthy sibling group age 5 and under. (The more open families are to a broad range of characteristics in a child, the shorter there wait will be.  The wait for special needs, older children, and boys is shorter because more children with these characteristics are available for adoption. The wait is longer for healthy children, very young children, and girls because more people are requesting children with these characteristics.)


The Final Part of the Journey: Traveling by Emotional Roller Coaster!

This part of the journey will begin once we receive our referral matching us to our children.  I think the last part of our adoption journey will feel like we are traveling by roller coaster!  There will be emotional highs and lows.

We will travel to Bulgaria twice.  First, to meet our children and officially accept their referral.  Then we will come back home while the Bulgarian government processes our adoption.  This part of the journey will be so hard, I now.  We will meet our children and then have to leave them in the orphanage, just to wait again. 

After the paperwork is processed, we will travel to Bulgaria a second time - this time to bring our children home!  On this trip, we will officially become parents.  We will have reached out destination!


How I Feel About All This...

I am loving it and not loving it. 

Loving it because, we are going to be parents and give two children a home! That is so exciting to me! Part of me wants to savor and remember every step along the way to parenthood!

And I am not loving it because, this will be such a long journey.  Sure, I know there will be times when it will feel like we are really traveling quickly.  But other times it will feel like we are trying to wade though a mile of quick sand. Sometimes, I just wish we could arrive at the destination without having to make the long journey.  I wish we could receive a referral for our children today and fly to Bulgaria next week to meet our kids.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Q & A: Answers to Your Questions

Since we have decided to adopt, we have been asked lots of questions - mostly in person and a few on Facebook.  Because our adoption is my current favorite topic, I love when people ask!  Here are some questions we get asked - and our answers. (I also included a few questions I know people must be wondering, but are to polite to ask - such as the infertility question.)

What We Can’t and/or Won't Be Sharing  - Private or Identifying Information

I began this blog for my family and friends to stay informed about our adoption. Strangely enough, since starting this blog, we have had readers all over the world.  While we love that people are interested in adoption, we have decided to protect our private information and the privacy of our children.

For Now, the Questions We Have Gotten/Expect to Get and Are Willing to Answer:

Boy or girl? Age?
We are requesting a sibling group of 2 children ages 5 and under. We have no gender preference. We would love one of each, but would also be excited with two boys or two girls! 

Do you want to have biological kids?

We would love to add to our family by having biological children someday. But we are also open to the possibility of adopting again someday.

And the answer to any infertility questions is this:

We don't honestly know, because we haven't tried to "get pregnant."  We want to adopt first! (Read more about that here.) We do know family members and friends who have experienced or are experiencing infertility.  I am sure this must be painful. Please respect and love them. Be tactful in your questions and comments. Some people choose adoption for a variety of reasons.  Some do not choose adoption. 

What will you know about your child's birth family?

Bulgaria is very good about giving any known information about children to adoptive parents.  However what we will know depends greatly on our children's histories.

We do not plan on sharing any information about our children's birth families with anyone.  We view this as their private information that they can choose whether or not to share when they grow older.

If and when will you tell your children they are adopted?

 It will never be a secret - They will always know.  We will share that with them from day 1, have pictures in the scrapbook, celebrate "Adoption Day" every year, and talk with them freely about any questions they may have as they grow older.

What if your children want to find their birth parents?

When our children are old enough, if they want to search for birth parents or extended families, we will support and help them in their search. We haven't always felt this way.  But the more we learn about adoption, the more we feel this way.

Think about it.  If I were adopted, I would want to know who my birth family/parents were.  I would wonder - Who do I look like?  Do I have any personality quirks like anyone?  Where did I get my sense of humor?  Yes, If I were adopted, I would probably be curious about all these things.

We aren't in competition with birth families. We will be their "real" parents in that we will have "really" raised them.  We will have fed and cared for them, comforted them, laughed, cried, and played with them.

Are you worried about how you children will turn out after you have finished raising them?

We know every parent, whether of biological or adopted children, wants their child to be successful in life. We also know that sometimes children, adopted and/or biological, disappoint their parents with choices they make once they reach adulthood.  Of course their is "risk" of children later making poor lifestyle choices when parenting any child.

Our primary goal in parenting will be to raise children who love God with all their hearts and love their neighbor as much as they love themselves.  We also want to support our children in the choices they make in their life's work.

However, if by asking this question, you are wondering if we are worried that our children will turn out "bad" (for lack of a better term) because they are adopted, the answer is no. Ultimately, we adopted these children, yes because we wanted too, but also out of obedience to God.  This is not about us or how we will feel if our children make poor choices as adults.  This is about giving a loving Christ-filled home to two children who otherwise would grow up without a mommy and daddy and be turned out on the streets when they aged out of the orphanage.

Although this was NOT a factor in our choice to adopt, statistics are actually quite good for children who are adopted, similar to outcomes of children raised in their birth families.  For more information about this, read this blog post: Adoption Myth Busters: Adopted Kids Grow Up To Break Their Parents Hearts.

Will you change your children's names?

Maybe.  Obviously we are going to give them at least one new name - our last name!

When it comes to whether or not to change first and middle names, there are three options.  First, we could change the child's name completely.  Second, we could keep part of the name and change part of the name. The third option is to not change their name at all.

When we originally started thinking of international adoption, we assumed we would change our children's names.  However, after learning more about adoption, we are now hoping we will not need to change our children's names.  Whether we change our children's name will depend on the following factors:
  • Is the name able to be easily pronounced in English speaking America?  Or will it be a burden for our child to have to always be explaining how his/her name is pronounced?
  • Was the name given to the child by someone significant in their life, such as a birth parent or caregiver? Or was the name assigned by someone at the orphanage?
Think about it. A name is equal to identity.  Our children will have lost so much already - their birth family and culture, their first language, etc.  We don't want them to have to lose their name too.  If possible, we will try to keep their first and middle name.  If not possible, we plan to give them a new first name in addition to their original first and middle name.

Will you be traveling to pick up your child?

Yes,  we will be making two trips to Bulgaria. On the first trip, we will meet the children we have been matched with and formally accept their referral.  Then we will return home for a short time while the Bulgarian government completes all the legal steps and paper work.  On the second trip, we will bring our children home!

Have you considered adopting children from the USA?

Yes, we did research Domestic Infant Adoption and Domestic Adoption from Foster Care before deciding to adopt internationally.

We decided Domestic Infant Adoption did not meet this basic purpose of why we wanted to adopt. There are lots of couples who can't have kids waiting for a birth mother to choose them to parent her baby.  We did not want to compete with other childless couples for a baby.  (Domestic adoption of infants is what someone has called the "adoption Olympics" - families competing to get the birth mother to choose them.) We want to give a orphaned or abandoned child a family. We decided this was not the route for us.

We looked at the possibility of adopting a child who is available for adoption, but currently in foster care while waiting for a family.  Of the over 500 thousand children in foster care in the USA, 130 thousand are available for adoption and waiting for a forever family. This definitely fulfilled our purpose for adopting, but most of these kids are school age and older.  We want to start out with as young of a child as possible since we are young and have never parented before.

(Note: It is possible to try to adopt a younger child through foster-to-adopt programs, but there is a risk of children being returned to their birth families - which can be a wonderful thing for the children, but would be heart breaking for us.  We weren't willing to risk the emotional heart ache of attaching to a child only to lose him/her.)

Maybe one day we will adopt a child from the foster care system, when we have some parenting experience under our belt. But for our first adoption, we decided to go a different route to be able to adopt a younger child.

Why Bulgaria?

We decided to adopt internationally because there were many young children who needed parents.  But what country would be a right fit for us? Every country has different rules/eligibility requirements.  Russia or Kazakhstan? Much too expensive for us! China or Korea? We were to young. Taiwan or Haiti? We hadn't been married long enough.  Bulgaria? Just right!

Isn't international adoption expensive?  How much is the average cost?

Yes, international adoption can be expensive.  An average cost of adoption is probably $30,000. Costs very greatly by country and agency.  One reason we chose Bulgaria was that it was less expensive. Cost was also a huge factor in choosing our adoption agency.  We also knew we wanted to adopt again eventually, so we decided to ask for a sibling group.  Adopting two children at once is much less expenses than adopting two separate times.

There are many creative ways to fund an adoption and many organizations give grants to help cover adoption expenses. For more on affording adoption, read this post. 

If you are considering adoption or having biological children, don't forget it can also be expensive to have a child in the hospital, especially if there are any complications.  When you compare the average cost of prenatal care and hospital delivery, you may find there is not as much of a difference in cost between adopting and having biological children as you first thought.

Why is it so expensive to adopt when kids need families?

Adoption doesn't have to be expensive.  Adopting from foster care is free.

Domestic infant adoption can be costly because expenses include the cost of the birth mother's prenatal care and hospital expenses, as well as legal fees and the cost of a home study and background checks.  Domestic infant adoption (Birth Mother Program) is about the same cost as international adoption.

International adoption expenses include the cost of a home study, agency fees, immigration fees, cost of travel and lodging in another country, cost of FBI criminal and child abuse back ground checks, fees for documents, and translator fees.  International adoption includes a lot of people working to make this happen (agency workers, translators, government employees) - all of whom need to put food on the table for their families.  Most foreign countries also charge an "orphanage donation" that helps care for the children who are never adopted and grow up the orphanage.

Why is it so hard to adopt when so many kids need families?

Adoption requirements keep adoption ethical, prevent trafficking of children, and help make sure children are going to loving families.  When foreign countries allow their children to be adopted and move to another country, they want to make sure the children will be safe and well cared for. The only way for these countries to unsure this happens is to require a lot of documentation of adopting families.

Where is Bulgaria?

Bulgaria is located in south-eastern Europe.

How long will your process be?

Time varies greatly based on what sending country you choose and the characteristics for which you are asking in a child.  The wait is longer for young children, healthy children, and for girls.  Waiting children (usually older children or children with special needs) are currently available, and the process can be completed in about a year.

When we were thinking of adopting one child, age 3 and under, we were told the process would be about 3 1/2 years from start to finish.  Since we have decided to adopt a sibling group, the time may be shorter or longer.  Our adoption agency is checking on expected time for a sibling group.

Will you help your children keep their first language - Bulgarian?

We would love for them to be able to speak Bulgarian and English.  However, this it is highly likely that they will loose their first language, Bulgarian.  

Other internationally adopted children say they have to learn to think in English, not think in their first language and translate to English. Andrew and I looked into trying to learn Bulgarian, but their are few resources available (Pimsler and Rosetta Stone don't offer Bulgarian & the public library had one resource which was not very helpful.)  Sadly, with no one to converse to in Bulgarian and their relatively young age, our children will probably forget Bulgarian as they learn English.

What agency are you using?

After months of research and interviewing different agencies, we chose Children of All Nations (CAN).  Several factors went into our choice.
  • First, we were looking for an agency with a Bulgaria program. 
  • The second factor was the price for services.  We loved  that CAN offered dossier preparation included in the already reasonable price.  Most agencies either did not offer dossier preparation or charged extra.  This meant less headache and paperwork for us and a lower price!
  • Third, we wanted an agency with lots of experience.  Although CAN's Bulgaria program is relatively new, they have completed thousands of adoptions from many countries.
  • Last, we wanted a non-profit agency.  We feel that adoption should not be for profit (all though the people working for the agency need to make a living.)
Because our international agency, Children of All Nations, is located in Texas, they are not licensed to do home studies in our state.  We are using a local agency to do our homestudy.   So far we are happy with Children of All Nations.

Are children checked by the Center for Disease Control?

Yes, our children will have a medical exam by a Department of State designated doctor before leaving Bulgaria.  

We also plan to have our children checked by a pediatrician specializing in international adoption medicine when we arrive back in the USA. An international adoption doctor can do blood work to see which vaccines our children have had already, as well as address special nutritional needs our children may have from orphanage diet, and check for parasites, which can be common in orphanages.

What is a Homestudy?

A home study is a report written by a licensed social worker recommending your family to adopt.  The home-study process includes adoption/parenting training, interviews with a licensed social worker, and a visit to your home by the social worker.

We will be having our home study sometime in the next several months.  I am sure I will be nervous, but I should not be.  A social worker's job is to find parents and a home for children.  Social workers are looking to rule people in as parents, not to rule people out.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Adoption Myth Busters: Adopted Kids Grow Up To Break Their Parents Hearts

The Myth: 
Adopted Kids "Turn Out Don't Turn Out Well"

When we were first considering adoption, we received more than one concerned comment about "adopted kids growing up to breaking their parents' hearts" and "not turning out well".

I understand the concern. But, I feel a bit like Marilla Cuthburt in Anne of Green Gables when Rachel Lynde warned her that if she adopted, the child would burn down the house or poison the family by putting strychnine in the well.


To be honest, these comments were a little hurtful.  We know that the ones who made these comments were well meaning people, our family and friends, who were concerned for us and did not want to see us hurt.  Most often, they knew of one adopted person who made lifestyle choices that did disappoint and hurt the parents.  However, no one would ever say to a pregnant woman: "I know of these people who had a child and when he/she grew up, he/she did (fill in the blank with your concern) and broke his/her parents heart."  Yet both biological and adopted children can break their parents' heart with poor lifestyle choices.  There is risk in parenting, but that doesn't detour most people from being parents.

We realize the risk may be higher when parenting an adopted child.  It is true that children who come into a family through adoption do have hurt, loss, and trauma that children who enter a family by birth may not have.

Why We Aren't Worried and This Question is Irrelevant to Us

To be honest, we do not worry about how are children will turn out.  Oh don't get my wrong, we are concerned just as any loving parent of any child (adopted or biological) is concerned.  But we are not worried.  The question of how our kids turn out is irrelevant in our choice to adopt.  You see, our adoption is not just about us.  Of course, we do want to adopt.  But ultimately our choice to adopt is a joyful, loving act of service and obedience to God.  We plan to obey God's call to adopt; love our children and raise them to the best of our abilities; be educated ourselves about ways we can help them and support them; and, of course, get professional help for them as they deal with any emotional wounds they may have from their past.

One of the Primary Barriers to Adoption is Fear

We understand that even though we are not overly worried about the future outcome of our children, there are people who really might worry about this - and not adopt because of their fears.  When I think of children growing up without parents, because of the misconceptions about how adopted kids turn out, I can't stand it.  I decided to find the research and bust this myth!

         How will adopted kids turn out?  How would adoption affect our family?
         These are vital questions to grapple with.  Any family considering
         adoption should know that most every non-infant child in need of
         adoption has faced great difficulty.  This is especially true for children
         who’ve spent significant time living in an institution.  Overcoming
         wrongs a child has experienced in the past may take great effort and
         sacrifice from adoptive parents.

         But ultimately, studies show definitively that adopted children
         consistently thrive in loving homes.  There may be great challenges,
         but most often—as with all parenting—even greater joys.  Adopted
         children and their futures vary as much as biological children do.      
         Most of the time, their outcomes are just about the same as other
         children, sometimes even better.
         (Christian Alliance for Orphans)

Keep reading to find out how successful adopted kids can be!

Myth Busted: 
Adopted Kids Adjust & Do Well in Life as Adults

As Children:

Children tend to be resilient.  Although, they may have faced much trauma, hurt, loss, neglect, or abuse in their young lives, after adoption they adjust well and even thrive. According to a US Department of Health and Human Services survey of thousands of adoptive families including private domestic, foster care, and international adoptions, adopted children adjust well to their adoptive families and are healthy and happy.  Their survey found that most adoptive children ages six and older "fare well, according to six measures of socio-emotional well-being, but a small minority experience serious problems" (Vandivere, Malm, and Radel.)

Figure 19. Bar chart showing the percentage of children according to measures of social and emotional well-being, by adoptive status. Ever diagnosed with depression (age 2+): all children (4%), all adopted children (9%); ever diagnosed with ADD/ADHD (age 6+): all children (10%), all adopted children (26%); ever diagnosed with behavior conduct problems (ages 2+): all children (4%), all adopted children (15%); problems with social behaviors: all children (9%), all adopted children (14%); exhibits positive social behaviors (ages 6+): all children (94%), all adopted children (88%).
Image Source: Vandivere, S., Malm, K., and Radel, L.
As Teens:

Not only do children fair well, but they continue to do well as they enter the tough teen years. According to Christian Alliance for Orphans, "an expansive 1994 study by the Search Institute [of 715 families] comparing adopted teens to other teens found that:
  • Adopted teens scored higher on indicators of well-being such as school performance, friendships, volunteerism, self-esteem and optimism.
  • Adopted teens scored lower on indicators of high-risk behavior such as depression, alcohol use, vandalism, and police trouble.
  • Compared to their non-adopted siblings, adopted teens showed no significant difference in their perception of similarities between themselves and adoptive parents in terms of interests.
  • Children adopted transracially showed no differences in terms of identity formation and self-esteem, attachment to parents, or psychological health."
In Consider the Possibilities: Adoption Specialist Handbook, The National Council for Adoption also reports:
  • "Adopted children are well-integrated into their families and schools and show good psychological outcomes.  There are few differences between children who have been adopted and their non-adopted peers (Palacios and Sanchez-Sandoval, 2005)
  • Long-term outcomes are positive for adopted children, and generally show little or no difference compared to non-adopted children (Benson, 2004).
  • The vast majority of adopted children show behavior patterns and emotional and academic adjustment very similar to those of non-adopted children (Palacios and Sanchez-Sandoval, 2005, Brand and Brinich, 1999, Brodzinsky, 1987).
  • Numerous studies indicate that adoptive parents report high levels of satisfaction with their adoption (Barth and Brooks, 2000).
  • People who were adopted fare significantly better than those children who remain in negligent, abusive birth families, or in foster care or institutions (Maughan et al., 1998, Brodzinsky et al., 1998).
  • If adopted individuals did experience adoption-related struggles, most of these struggles significantly diminished or disappeared by young adulthood (Feigelman, 1997).
  • People who were adopted reported more confidence in their judgment than non-adopted persons, viewed others more positively, and saw their parents as significantly more nurturing, comforting, and protectively concerned and helpful (Marquis and Detweiler, 1985)."
As Adults:

So a large majority adopted children fare well through childhood and the difficult teen years.  But the big question is how are adult adoptees turning out as compared to their non-adoptive counterparts?  This research is a bit harder to find as there is not as much of it.

Feigelman did a study, Adopted Adults: Comparisons With Persons Raised in Conventional Families (1997). Feigelman used "archival data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth. This study compares the adult behavior patterns of adoptees (N = 101) and children raised in all other types of attenuated nuclear families (N = 3,949) with those raised till age 18 by both biological parents (N = 6,258)."

Feigelman found that  adult "adoptees, showed some, but much less clear evidence of long-term difficulties arising from their more turbulent adolescent experiences, compared to those growing up with both bio-parents...Yet, In most all other aspects surveyed -such as the recent use of drugs, educational attainments, job holding, employment successes, asset accumulations, home ownership and marital stability, they appeared much like those raised in intact bio-parent families."(1997)

Outcomes for Un-adopted Children who Grow Up in Foster Care or Orphanages

The statistics quoted above have a bright outcome for children.  The statistics for children who are never adopted, are not so bright. In fact, they are quite sad.  These un-adopted children will bounce around from foster family to foster family or live in an institution until they age out of the system.

Children who age out of Foster Care:

"Foster care is supposed to be a temporary haven for children living in unsafe conditions. But about one-quarter of the 500,000 children in foster care in the U.S. end up in the system until they become adults...Nationwide, an estimated 30,000 adolescents age out of the foster care system each year."

  "According to studies of young people discharged to themselves in different states: 12-30 percent struggled with homelessness; 40-63 percent did not complete high school; 25-55 percent were unemployed; those employed had average earnings below the poverty level, and only 38 percent of those employed were still working after one year; 30-62 percent had trouble accessing health care due to inadequate finances or lack of insurance; 32-40 percent were forced to rely on some form of public assistance and 50 percent experienced extreme financial hardship; 31-42 percent were arrested; 18-26 percent were incarcerated; and 40-60 percent of the young women were pregnant within 12-18 months of leaving foster care." (http://www.childrensaidsociety.org/issues/aging-out-foster-care)

Children Who Age Out of Orphanages:

If the situation is bleak in America, it is even bleaker most parts of the world.  In America, we are blessed to have a foster care system.  Though it is not perfect, foster care is better than an institution for children.

In many countries orphaned and abandoned children, as well as children with parental rights terminated due to neglect or abuse, grow up in orphanages.  If not adopted,these children age out of the orphanage system at only age 15-16, and are turned out on there own. Everyday an estimated 38,000 children age out of an orphanage. 

"In Ukraine and Russia 10% -15% of children who age out of an orphanage commit suicide before age 18, 60% of the girls are lured into prostitution, 70% of the boys become hardened criminals. Many of these children accept job offers that ultimately result in their being sold as slaves. Millions of girls are sex slaves today, simply because they were unfortunate enough to grow up as orphans. Reliable statistics are difficult to find, even the sources often list only estimates, and street children are rarely included. But even if these figures are exaggerated by double, it is still an unacceptable tragedy that over a million children would still become orphans every year, and every year 7 million children would still grow to adulthood as orphans with no one to belong to and no place to call home." (http://thirdworldorphans.org/gpage39.html)
My Conclusion

There are no guarantees when parenting any child.  Parenting the adopted child will present unique challenges, perhaps more difficult the challenges of raising biological children.  There is a slightly higher risk that adoptees will make poor choices as adults.  The assumption that all adoptees will turn out badly is just as false as assuming all biological children will turn out well. A vast amount of research supports that adult adoptees adjust well and succeed in life!

I can't help but think some day I will again feel like Marilla Cuthbert.  One day, I will be so thankful that Andrew and I chose to adopt.  One day, when we count our blessings - our children will be at the top of our list!

"Oh, Anne, I know I've been strict and harsh with you maybe - but you must think I didn't love you as well as Matthew did, for all that.  I want to tell you now when I can.  It's never been easy for me to say things our of my heart, but at times like this it's easier.  I love you as dear as if you were my own flesh and blood and you've been my joy and comfort ever since you came to Green Gables." - Marilla Cuthbert (from Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Montgomery)


That is What I Call An Adoption Myth Busted!

  • Christian Alliance for Orphans - http://www.christianalliancefororphans.org/resources/orphan-facts 
  • Vandivere, S., Malm, K., and Radel, L. Adoption USA: A Chartbook Based on the 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents. (Washington, D.C.: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, 2009), viewed online at http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/09/NSAP/chartbook/chartbook.cfm?id=2 
  • Suvery of 715 Adoptive Families with Teens by Search Institute in 1994 - http://www.search-institute.org/strengths-adoptive-families
  • Brodzinsky, D.M. Adjustment to adoption: A psychosocial perspective. Clinical Psychology
    Review (1987)
  • Marquis, K.S., and Detweiler, R.A. Does adoption mean different? An attributional analysis.
    Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (1985)
  • Brand, A.E. & Brinich, P.M. (1999). Behavior Problems and Mental Health Contacts inAdopted, Foster, and Nonadopted Children.
  • Barth, R.P. and Brooks, D. (2000). Outcomes for drug exposed children eight years postadoption.
  • Feigelman, W. (1997) "Adopted Adults: Comparisons With Persons Raised in Conventional
    Families," Marriage and Family Review, Vol. 25, Nos. 3/4, pp. 199-223.
  • Brodzinsky, D.M. (1993). Long-term outcomes in adoption. The Future of Children, (http://www.futureofchildren.org/futureofchildren/publications/docs/03_01_12.PDF)
  • The National Council for Adoption (2007). Consider the Possibilities: Adoption Specialist Handbook.
  • http://www.childrensaidsociety.org/issues/aging-out-foster-care
  • http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/social_issues/jan-june05/foster_care_5-19.html
  • http://thirdworldorphans.org/gpage39.html 
  • http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2009/11/adopted_kids_are_happy_healthy.html

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Adopting from Where?

As many our friends have found out about our plans to adopt from Bulgaria, we have got many comments like: "I am not sure where Bulgaria is at..."  To be honest, before we looked into adoption, I didn't know much about Bulgaria either. I still have a lot to learn.

I thought I would do a post on Bulgaria just for fun!

Bulgaria is located here:



Country Facts:

  •  The official language is Bulgarian and the Cyrillic alphabet is used. 
  • Ethnicity: Bulgarian - 85%, Turkish - 9%, Roma - 5%, forty other ethnic groups make up the remaining 1%
  • Population: over 7 Million
  • Number of children living in orphanages: around 8,000
  • Number of children adopted from Bulgaria to USA in 2011: 75

The Children:

Aren't they beautiful!  I love the dark hair and eyes, and the olive skin!
In Bulgaria, children may be in orphanages for several reasons.  They may be true orphans - one or both parents may have died. Sometimes a single mother, being unable to parent her child/children due to poverty, the mother's young age, or other reasons, will abandon her child and leave him/her at an orphanage.  Children may be available for adoption after having been removed from the home due to neglect or abuse.

Every child’s story is unique.  Every child has a story of loss.  Every child is in need of permanent loving parents and a home.

Children available for international adoption are between ages 1-15 (with most at least 3 years of age).  Special needs and healthy children are available. About half of the children in orphanages come from the Roma ethnicity (although Roma are only 5% of the total population). Bulgaria first tries to place children with Bulgarian families before they are available for international adoption.  Because of prejudice against the Roma, most Bulgarians due not want to adopt Roma children.  Therefore, most likely, we will be adopting Bulgarian children of Roma ethnicity.

More Info:

To find out more about why we chose to adopt from Bulgaria, click the "Why" tab and scroll to the bottom half of the page.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Everyday Life While Adopting

Sometimes it seems weird that everyday life keeps going on when something as exciting as adoption is happening in our lives.  How can life seem so "normal" when life is changing is this dramatic way? Is this how a pregnant woman feels?

Everyday, I think about adoption while I go about my normal business.  I go to work, clean house, wash and fold laundry, all the while thinking adoption thoughts.

I wonder...What will our children be like? If they are even born yet? What gender will our children be?  What will it be like to suddenly be parenting two toddler/preschool age children whom we just met, are in culture shock, and we can't even talk to because, they don't even speak the same language as we do? 

I dream... Of meeting them for the first time.  Of holding them close. Of seeing their beautiful smiles and hearing them laugh.

I long to buy fun toys and cute little kid clothes....Only I don't know whether we will have boys or girls, or maybe one of each. Or even what sizes they will wear.  Or what their interests will be.

I pray... That they will have enough food to eat today.  That they will be warm and have a place to stay. That someone will care for them today.  That someday they will know how much we love them and how much Jesus loves them.  That someday they will love Jesus in return.

I love to talking to anyone interested.  (I could talk you ear off for hours and answer many of your questions about adoption - it is my favorite topic!)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

More than Love by John Moore

When my wife and I felt called to adopt, I remember thinking, All kids need is a little love.  Now, as I reflect on our experience of adopting six children from foster care, I realize that those are some of the most naive words we ever allowed ourselves to believe.

As so many well-meaning parents do, we approached adoption and foster care thinking that our love could somehow erase our children's past hurts.  Reality hit our expectations head on--and reality inevitably gets the last word.

We learned this lesson early when we adopted two boys, loved them and treated them as we would our biological children--and then wondered why they behaved in such a disruptive manner.

My wife and I asked ourselves, What can we do differently? How can we help our children?

There were no easy answers.  What we learn is that when adopting a child who comes from a difficult situation, we must expect some form of hidden pain to emerge.  You can't always predict when, where, or how, but you can be certain threat pain will surface.

Several years after joining our family, one of my sons was going through a dark time in his young life.  As we talked, he confessed that he had always believed it was his fault that he and his brother had been placed in foster care.  He couldn't shake this belief.

When my son confessed this to me, I desperately wanted to ease his pain, as I did when he cut his finger or scraped his knee.  But I came to realize that it's almost arrogant to believe that my love alone will heal my child's wounds.  Just as only Jesus can heal me, I now recognize that He alone can heal my child.

Over the years, I've learned a lot about my role as a dad.  It is my job to protect my children and provide them with structure and guidance.  It is my job to give them a safe and loving home and to support them with professional help when needed.  But perhaps my most important role is to mode for my children a humble recognition of human limitations and, in turn,  our utter dependence on Jesus.  When I entrust my children, and all of their pain, to His transformational love, I admit that alone I cannot heal them.  Instead, I point them to the One who can.

(From Article "Adoption in Real Life" by Katie Overstreet in October/November 2012 Issue Thriving Family,  a free magazine published by Focus on the Family. John Moore is a regular speaker at Focus on the Family's Wait No More events.)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Reshaping Expectations by Michael Monroe

Who are you?  I remember wondering as I looked into the face of my young son.  It was the moment when I first began to face the reality of the adoption journey and how it was different from my expectations.

Long before I had a chance to get to know my son, I had created an unrealistic picture about who he would be.  On top of that, I expected the adoption journey to be relatively easy once we brought our son home.  Indeed, I'd convinced myself that adoption was little more than a historical fact of how a family came to be, not on ongoing journey.

True, all parents start out with some unrealistic expectations.  But for adoptive families, these unfulfilled expectations cal lead to disappointment and even disconnection between parents and children.  When a child's history of pain and loss begins to depart from what parent's expected their adoption journey to look like, parents can be tempted to protect their wishful assumptions rather than acknowledge their child's history and feelings.  When a child's behaviors begin to collide with the "way we do things as a family," parents can find themselves quickly nearing the pint of despair.

I know these expectations well. When faced with this reality, my instinct was to respond by looking at my child and pointing accusing fingers as if to ask, "What's wrong with you?" 
As I began to lay down my assumptions, I discovered that my calling as an adoptive parent was to meet my child where he was.

The adoption journey invites parents to move beyond what we want and embrace what our children need.  And as we let go of our expectations, we find that God's desires for us and our family are so much greater than what we ever anticipated.

In both the good times and bad, in both the joy and the pain, God is writing a story of hope, redemption and love within our lives
. I am still learning who my son is.  And I have come to see that he doesn't have to become more like me or even who I thought he would be in order for our family to become the "we" that God intended.

(From Article "Adoption in Real Life" by Katie Overstreet in October/November 2012 Issue
Thriving Family,  a free magazine published by Focus on the Family.  Bold added for emphasis. Michael Monroe and his wife, Amy, lead Tapestry Adoption and Foster Care Ministry.)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Our Weakness, His Power by Kelly Rosati

After adopting two children through foster care, my husband, John, and I thought our family was complete.  But we soon felt that God had other plans, that He wanted us to continue growing our family through adoption.

We had many objections, of course: We already have two kids. Will we be able to give them enough attention and care? Life with Daniel and Anna is great.  Why would we go through the adoption the difficult process again?

Those were all reasonable concerns.  But at the end of the day none seemed as important as our continued sense of God's leading.

We talked to Daniel and Anna, of course, who supported the idea form the get-go. "Well, we have a family," they said.  "They can come live with us!"

Daniel's and Anna's compassionate attitudes at such young ages helped us cut through the clutter in our own minds.  God so often speaks through children.

Eight months later, we finalized the adoption of our son Joshua.  For Joshua, there would be no more moves.  No more Trauma.  No more uncertain future.  He was home.  And John and I were feeling...despondent.

Yes, you read that right.  A mysterious despair had crept into our hearts and minds.  And then we had guilt from our feelings of despondency.  Why should we have such feelings?

The unfortunate truth is that the pain and difficulty associated with a child's past, and how the family must face it, are rarely discussed.  There is shame involved, ant that shame leads to isolation and silence--the opposite of God's plan for our lives.

I think John and I felt pressure to act as though everything were fine.  Somehow we felt these emotional struggles indicated that we'd lost faith.  Looking back, we know that this kind of thinking wasn't true, but it sure felt true at the time.

It took many months before our feelings returned to normal.  But God used that exceedingly painful and unwanted period to continue teaching us that we live by faith, not by feelings.

Having gone through that difficult experience, John and I think that folks going through the same thing need to reach out and talk to others, seek professional help or join a support group.  We know from Scriptures that God's grace is sufficient for us and that His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).  He can and will work through our weakness.

(From Article "Adoption in Real Life" by Katie Overstreet in October/November 2012 Issue Thriving Family,  a free magazine published by Focus on the Family.  Read more about Kelly and John Rosati in Wait No More: One Family's Amazing Adoption Journey. )

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Ophan Sunday: November 4, 2012

Adoption Sunday will quickly be here.  Check out the Orphan Sunday Website for resources for your church.

Also, Hope for Orphans is offering free If You Were Mine  DVD Workshops ($100 value) to the first 500 people to register an event.

More resources are available from An Orphan's Wish.

Story of God's Provision: Harper's Adoption

When I watch this, I cry, every time.  Thank you Father for your amazing provision!  

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19

Guest Post by Nichole Peske

Bring our Children Home

Sweet, sweet video.
(Katie writing now.)
Not a typical guest post - only a title, 3 words and a video.  But I just had to share, because I love songs about adoption! Thank you Nicole for sharing this song on your blog and allowing me to guest post it here!

This song encourages me! God is faithful and sure.  He is able.  Even now, He sees the future and He sees our children!  He is making the way for our children to come home!  I praise You for Your goodness, God our Father!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Guest Post: Can We Afford It? by Rebekah

UPDATE: Rebekah and Will brought home their baby boy Ethiopia in May of 2012.  This blog post was originally posted in June 2010.  Here is a picture of their beautiful family on Gotcha Day!


Can We Afford It?

Since beginning the adoption process back on April 1, there have been several times that Will and I have looked at each other and been like, "how are we going to pay for this?!". There have been times that I have angrily questioned God's provision, saying "God, I want to trust you to provide, but you're not doing it!"... and then there are times that I am completely, utterly BLOWN AWAY by the gifts and encouragement of people we know well, or that we barely know that are sacrificing for our baby.

For a big dose of self-disclosure, let me show you the path that Will and I have been on since our sweet wedding day on February 28, 2009 (yes, a mere year and four months ago).

We were married and then I joined Will up in NC, as he is a grad student at Southeastern Baptist Seminary. Thanks to the GENEROUS support of our parents, we had no debt from college and no car payments. The day we went to join our bank accounts I had $50 to contribute ("oops, thought it was more than that, honey".) He was a mailman that made $100 a week, and I had no job for almost THREE MONTHS! We were broke, living off gift cards and our savings account.

Finally, I got a part-time job making $7/hr..... and lost it 3 months later. Will took a job painting apartments all summer, and I got a new full-time job (my current job) in August. We tried to live off of just my income, practice frugality, and save everything that Will made as a painter.... and what do you know, a few months later, to our complete surprise, we had enough money to start an adoption. Who knew?.... not us!

Will is still in grad school, he works 2 part-time jobs and I have my full-time job (plus a little bit of money made from selling craft stuff). We are not living the high life, but we have not once lacked the resources to eat or have shelter. God has provided us with discipline to save, the magical start-up money from our savings this last year (that has already gone to pay for the first half of our adoption fees), and the community that is so supportive.

Now, can I look ahead at the $10,000 or so that we have left to pay, and tell you exactly where/how it will appear? No. But do I have faith that God WILL provide? Heck yes. He always has. He loves this baby even more than we do, and there are many days that we weep for him/her and ache to hold our baby and show it the love of a parent.

So, if you are considering adoption, go for it! Do what you can to save, live a financially disciplined life, and seek God's will for your family. Pray for wisdom and discernment on what you can cut back within your budget. Give generously to your church and to the needs around you, and trust that God will provide for you just the same.

God's calling is clear: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
Matthew 25:31-46

Originally Posted by Rebekah on Monday, June 21, 2010 (http://yestoadoption.blogspot.com/2010/06/can-we-afford-it.html)

Comments from Rebekah's Blog

I found that with both adoptions, the money was just there when we needed it. I'm not saying we didn't save and sacrifice for our adoptions. But I'm saying that I knew that adoption was what we were supposed to be doing and that it would all work out fine in the end because of that.

Praise the Lord! I just posted something like this a couple days ago. Your story is similar to ours. We managed to save over $10,000 before we applied to adopt. I don't work and my husband is working part time as a pastor and part time at the USPS. Though both of them end up being more than part time, ha. But we are very much relying on God's faithful provision for us because we have no idea where the rest is going to come from!

Affording Adoption (Katie Writing Now)

If you are considering adoption, but don't think you can afford it.  Give adoption another thought.  Here are somethings to look consider:

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Guest Post: Just One Makes a Difference by Nancy Barlow

Just one makes a difference

(Photo courtesy of Life for relief and development)

This child drew a picture on the floor of his Momma for comfort. Look at the one arm up to hold him.
The truth is I am the same as you.
Except, maybe I don't go to church as often as you. 
Except, I am not a good Christian (but I do try) and some days I am not as nice as I should be.
Except, I have some major selfish moments where I take a bath for 30 minutes to unwind.
Except, we don't make great money compared to the rest of the USA, but we do compared to the world.
The difference people see is when I was asked to adopt, I said yes. Not because we are special or different, just because I knew that the love I had even if I am not a perfect parent, is better than not having a mommy and daddy.
I said yes so at least one child would truly know the love of a Mommy and Daddy. I said yes even if it means we don’t get to go on that Disney cruise we really wanted to go on. I said yes, even if it means my husband’s 8 year old car has to last another 2. I said yes even if it means my car has to last 5 more years. I said yes, even if it means the plan I had for our future won’t work now. I said yes because of Allison.
Each horrible story I heard all I had to do was look at my daughter and I knew I had to say yes. If I died, would you say yes to helping Allison?  Then why do you say no to all the other children. They aren't as cute as Allison? They aren't as funny? Why would you accept my child as yours, but turn your back on a million other children.
If I hear one more time, we can't save them all I will scream! God never said one person must save them all. He commands that EACH of us do our part. If you can't adopt, volunteer with inner city children. Be a big brother or a big sister. Skip one meal a week and donate to a family that is adopting. Make a meal for a family coming home from adoption, offer to watch their other children just for two hours so Mom and Dad can have a moment alone. (A baby sitter is a luxury we can't pay for right now) Donate something to help the family raise money. Get some stuff together and donate it to a young mother.
You can help!

Nancy Barlow (http://www.tinypieceofheaven.blogspot.com)

It is me, Katie, again.
Since "going public" with our decision to adopt we have gotten many different reactions.  From wondering if we can have biological kids to congratulations and much excitement. Some people also express their desire to adopt and explain the hurdles of why they aren't.  Others express that they think it is so wonderful that we are adopting.  

I want to say what Nancy Barlow says: "The truth is I am the same as you.....when I was asked to adopt, I said yes. Not because we are special or different, just because I knew that the love I had even if I am not a perfect parent, is better than not having a mommy and daddy."

Adoption from God's Eyes

As we share our news of choosing to adopt, people are wondering "why?".  I would probably be curious too.  Part of our journey to adoption was finding God's heart for adoption.  Not only is Scripture is full of  God's loving care for the orphan, but also God uses the metaphor of adoption to describe how He took us in and made us His child.

Verse about God's Care for the orphan.

In you the orphan finds mercy.
Hosea 14:3

Never take advantage of any widow or orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, you can be sure that I will hear their cry.
Exodus 22:22-23

You are the helper of the fatherless. LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear, To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, That the man of the earth may oppress no more.
Psalms 10:14,17-18

Father to the fatherless, defender of widows — this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families.
Psalms 68:5-6

Verses Asking Us to Care for the Orphan

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
James 1:27

When you are harvesting your crops and forget to bring in a bundle of grain from your field, don’t go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. Then the LORD your God will bless you in all you do.
Deuteronomy 24:19

Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.
Isaiah 1:17

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.
Proverbs 31:8-9

And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.
Matthew 18:5

I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!
Matthew 25:40

I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist them. Job 29:12

Verses about God adopting us as His children

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father.
Romans 8:14-16

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
Galatians 4:4-6

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 
Romans 8:22-26

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. Ephesians 1:4-6

People Adopted in Scripture

Jesus - Joseph adopted Jesus as his son

Moses - was raised by Pharaoh's daughter

Esther - Esther was adopted by her Cousin/Uncle Mordecai