Wednesday, February 27, 2013

On My Must Read List: Orphan Justice

I love to read! How about you?

While I advocate for adoption all the time on this blog, I also know adoption isn't for everyone. But I believe that some form of orphan care is for every follower of Christ. A book I want to read that is coming out in 2 days is Orphan Justice: How to Care for Orphans Beyond Adopting by Johnny Carr. You can pre-order it on Amazon! I can't wait to find out more ways that all of us can care for orphans!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Opening Our Hearts to Big Kid Adoption

As a part of our homestudy, Andrew and I had to spell out specifically the characteristics of the children we would be willing to adopt and be approved specifically to parent each of these characteristics. One of those characteristics was age. When Andrew and I first thought about adopting, we wanted to adopt a baby or toddler! We thought we would request age 3 and under. Then we upped the age to age 5, then to age 6. Our homestudy will approve us to adopt 2 children, related or unrelated, ages 5 and under.

So why did we up the age?

The Needs of Waiting Children...

We upped the age because we found out that UNICEF says 95% percent of orphans in the world are over the age of five. Most orphans are "big kids." Older children are waiting to be adopted in many, many countries.
According to the US Department of State, 55% of children adopted internationally are age 2 and under. Most adoption agencies consider older child adoption to start at age 3. A huge need exist for parents to adopt older children! (Young orphans also need a family! Every child should grow up in a loving family!)

Waiting Parents...

We upped the age because there are many prospective parents are waiting for young children. Like us, most people want to adopt a baby, the younger the better. In all countries that allow international adoption, the younger the age you request, the longer your will be waiting to adopt. We don't want to join the ranks of parents waiting to be matched with an infant. Andrew and I don't feel it is right for us to be waiting years and years just because we want a baby, when older children are waiting. While we set our parameters so that we could still adopt a young baby or toddler if there is a young baby or toddler who needs a family, we also wanted to make our parameters such that we wouldn't exclude the possibility of adopting a kindergarten/preschool age child who needs a family. We want to set our parameters as broad as possible so that children won't have to wait for a family any longer than necessary.

The Fears...

Sometimes, Andrew and I have some fears about about "big kid adoption." Adopting a baby seems safer and easier. A baby has experienced less trauma, neglect, and abuse. Andrew and I could start from the beginning with a clean slate if we adopted a baby. If we adopt an older child, we may have years of heartache to help heal. (Some families also have the concerns about other children already in their home. This is one reason Andrew and I decided to adopt before having biological children.)

But Andrew and I did not set out to adopt because we wanted safe and easy parenthood. (If that was our goal, hello pregnancy!) We set out to adopt because we wanted to give family to children who were waiting for a family. For us, this means children up to age 6.  Why 6? Well, we aren't prepared to parent a teenager! Seriously, we did not feel that the age gap would be appropriate if we went to old. We had to set the age limit somewhere. We wanted to put the best interest of the child as a priority. What age range could we best support as parents? Our other main priority is our marriage. Our marriage is the foundation of our family. It is important to the well being of our future children that Andrew and I have a strong marriage. Parenthood in general brings new stresses into a marriage. Adoption can add additional stresses to a marriage. We had to look realistically at what we could handle emotionally, physically, financially, etc.

Not Being Dictated by Our Fears...

We knew God was calling us to adopt. We couldn't let our fears keep us from following God's plan for our lives. Instead, of being dictated by our fears, we tried to find answers to our fears. A favorite quote I once heard was:
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst!

This quote is perfect for the optimist in me and the pessimist in Andrew! Researching the difficulties involved in older child adoption, as well as resources to help work through these difficulties, is an important part of our adoption journey.  Finding help and answers is putting to rest some of our fears! No it won't be easy, but many people have found it doable and rewarding!

Could you be the family for an older child? If so, don't be scared, get prepared!

Resources to Prepare:
Blog Posts on Older Child Adoption:

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Did you know that international adoptions are on the decline? It is not for lack of children that need homes or for lack of parent swilling to adopt them! Stuck is a new documentary that follows the story of three families trying to adopt children who are stuck in an orphanage due to governmental red tape! It is on my must watch list! Go to to find out more and sign there petition!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Homestudy Visits Complete!

This morning Andrew & I met at Panera Bread with our social worker K. for the fourth and last interview for our homestudy. Today, we talked about how Andrew and I plan to parent our child, including building a healthy self esteem of our children (especially related to their adoption) and disciplining.

I felt much more confident about this last meeting, though maybe I was still slightly nervous.  Our social worker really is here to help us with our adoption. She has offered lots of helpful insight into the transition period when our children come home and has a wealth of information about resources in our area. After the meeting, I feel so excited about our children and a little more confident in our ability to be parents. It is also exciting to be one step closer to bringing our children home.

So What Is Next?

Our social worker will work on writing up our homestudy, which is like a report for the governments involved showing that we will be good parents who are capable of caring for children adopted from Bulgaria. Our international agency, Children of All Nations, as well as Andrew and I, will get to see a draft of the homestudy report when K. is finished writing it and let her know if their are any changes that need to be made. Once we receive our approved homestudy, we will be applying for immigration approval.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Give1Save1: Europe

Have you heard of Give1Save1? If not, you need to check it out!

Give1Save1 is a blog with heart! All of our bloggers are volunteers who want to help adopting families bring their children home. It all began with an adoptive momma-to-be, Beth, who knew personally how expensive adoption can be. She had the brainy idea to start a blog asking people to give $1 (or more) to a family who was adopting. With everyone giving a little, it adds up to a lot! Beth wanted to feature a family a week, and help that family quickly raise money to bring their child home. Give1Save1 originally featured families adopting from Africa. Beth's idea worked so well, that new pages were created to feature families adopting from Asia, the Caribbean and domestically. I am excited to be joining the team of Give1Save1 bloggers!  I will be helping with the new, Give1Save1 Europe page! Why don't you head on over to Give1Save1 and check them out?! Give1Save1 Europe is also on Facebook!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

First Homestudy Interview

Saturday, we had our first homestudy interview with K., our social worker. I think it went really well? But how can I tell?

I was not too nervous until Saturday morning. I did some more house cleaning while waiting for K. to arrive. Andrew thought it funny how I was nervous. He hadn't really seen me like this because I am usually more relaxed about things. Although our house looked nice and clean (we finally got the kitchen curtain up and the dust ruffle on our bed!), I followed the advice of Shelly on her blog and didn't move any heavy furniture, scrub the bath tub, or clean out the refrigerator in preparation for K. to come to our house. I finally sat down,  tried to relax, and did a little crocheting.

Then at a few minutes after ten, our social worker arrived! K. was very nice and smiled. We welcomed her into our home and all sat down in the living room. She asked us if we had and questions for her. The she asked us questions. We talked about Andrew and I as a couple, how we met, each other's strengths, what attracted us to each other initially, what we like about each other after almost three years of marriage, strengths and weaknesses of marriage, why we want to adopt, our expectations about adoption. K. also asked us about the type of child/children we were looking to adopt (age, gender, number of children, any special needs, etc.) K. recommended some local adoption professionals as resources for us.

Then K. walked through our house for a safety audit. She calmed my fears that the room we had picked out for our children's bedroom was not too small. I shouldn't have been worried about her seeing our house at all because she didn't look in our refrigerator, or check for dust bunnies in our closets or under our beds. Basically, K. just wanted to make sure our house wasn't unsafe for small children. Some of the questions on the safety audit were actually a little humorous. For example, did we have running water/indoor plumbing?

I still have a small fear that we won't get homestudy approval.   I think I am worried she will think we make too low of an income, or our house is too small, or we are too religious, or something! There is something a little scary about having someone come into your house, meet you a few times, and judge you based on that short amount of time. Our social worker has the power to say yes or no to our adoption. I need to really trust God, that if we are to adopt, our social worker, K., will approve us.

Before K. left, we scheduled our next three meetings. Andrew will meet with K. at a local coffee shop on Tuesday. I will meet with K. also at the coffee shop on Thursday. For our last meeting, we will both meet with K. on the following Tuesday.

After the first interview, we both felt a little emotionally drained and took a nap.


Andrew's meeting on Tuesday with K. went well! I am not so nervous about not getting homestudy approval anymore! I will let you know how my Thursday meeting goes...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Adopting a Snowflake: Embryo Adoption

I have been debating about whether to do a blog post about embryo adoption. For a few weeks I have been debating with myself about my view of embryo adoption. Is it ethical? Why or why not? I have finally formed my opinion.

First Things First...

If you are like I was, you are probably wondering what in the world "snowflake adoption" or "embryo adoption" is. Before coming across it in some adoption research, I had never heard of it. Recently my sister saw an advertisement for an embryo adoption agency and asked me about it, which sparked my interest in the ethics of embryo adoption.

An embryo is a tiny multi-cell baby created from a fertilized egg. If you believe that life begins at conception (as I do), then an embryo is a tiny human being - a small life, that will develop and mature.


In the USA alone there are hundreds of thousands of frozen embryos (tiny human lives!) These embryos were created through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) for couples to use in building their families. Because IVF is expensive and can sometimes fail, many couples choose to have multiple eggs fertilized at once. However, not all the embryos (fertilized eggs) can be transferred to the mother's womb at once because of the risks of multiple birth. Many of the embryos have been frozen for later use by the couple as they continue to grow their families. However, couples sometimes complete their families and still have leftover frozen embryos.

If you believe in life at conception, this creates an ethical quandary of what to do with the "leftover" embryos.  It is unethical (and costly) to store these frozen embryos forever. It is also unethical to destroy (kill) the embryos or donate them to scientific research (which also results in the embryo being killed.)

Families who choose life for their embryos (babies) are left with two choices, either transferring the remaining embryos to the biological mother's womb or making an adoption plan for the remaining embryos.

Snowflake or Embryo adoption is the adoption of these little embryos! (Just as snowflakes are all tiny, frozen, and unique, so are these embryos. Thus the embryo adoption is sometimes called snowflake adoption.) The unused embryos are thawed and transferred to the womb of the adopting mother. If the transfer is successful, the adopting mother will be pregnant! In nine months she will give birth to her adopted child! The adoptive mother and father will legally be the mother and father of the child/children born. 


Ethics of Embryo Adoption

Is it ethical for embryos to be adopted? I believe that it is. Here is why.

Embryo adoption is adoption nine months sooner.
If the embryo was carried to full term and delivered, would it be ethical for the baby to be adopted? Yes. If parents decide, for whatever reason, that they are unable to parent their child, it is ethical for them to make an adoption plan for their baby. Just as we urge a birth mother to make an adoption plan rather than to abort her baby, shouldn't we urge a mother to make an adoption plan rather than "abort" her frozen embryo? If it is ethical for a newborn baby to be adopted, then surely it is ethical for a pre-born baby to be adopted. 

Embryo adoption saves a human life.
Embryo adoption prevents a baby from being killed!

Embryo adoption is not agreeing with the conception of the child.
Some people may have an ethical objection to "fertility technologies" such as IVF, surrogate mothers, and/or donor sperm/eggs. I am not here to argue for or against these things. No matter what your opinion on these things, adoption of an embryo isn't agreeing with them. Adoption is never about agreeing or disagreeing with the conception of a child. Adoption is about giving parents to a child in need of parents.

In his book, Adopted for Life, Russell Moore states "The children are already conceived; the adopting parents are no more endorsing the technologies involved than parents adopting from an unwed mother are endorsing fornication."

Embryo adoption is true adoption, not buying of an embryo.

Embryos are not being created for the purpose of selling. The natural parents are not selling their embryos. They do not receive any money for the embryos. These parents are truly making an adoption plan.

Benefits of Embryo Adoption

You are giving a child a chance to live!

The adopting mother gets to be pregnant. 

This has many benefits for the adopting family. First, the mother can bond with the baby as it grows in her body.  Second, Unlike traditional adoption, the mother can make lifestyle choices that affect the health of the baby, such as abstaining from alcohol and drugs during pregnancy, eating healthy foods, taking prenatal vitamins, and getting good prenatal care. The mother can also nurse her child!

Just as with traditional adoption, families can choose open, closed, or semi-open adoptions.

The amount of contact between the natural family and adopting family is up to both families. It may no contact, yearly letters and pictures sent through the adoption agency, or even more contact! Also, it is beneficial to children to have medical histories of their natural parents and grandparents.

Hear from Adopting Families

For More Information

Questions or Comments?

Agree? Disagree? Questions? I would love your input on this little known form of adoption! 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Why Adopt from Bulgaria?

Yesterday, I posted a little about the culture of Bulgaria. Today, I want to tell you more about why we adopt from Bulgaria. The reason? The kids.

I haven't met the children stuck in the institutions of Bulgaria - yet. But Rosa Monckton has. She works for the Bulgaria Anbandoned Children's Trust and volunteers in orphanages in Bulgaria. Here is what Rosa can tell you about the abandoned children in Bulgaria. (And hence the reason Andrew and I are adopting...)

The forgotten ones

How can things change for the children of Bulgaria’s institutions?
by Rosa Monckton 
(published in The Spector in February 2013)

"It was something about the twins that got to me; after seeing so many baby institutions and children’s homes, I had almost grown used to abandoned children in ranks of cots, staring at the ceiling. The twins — a boy and a girl of six — were set apart; pale, twisted, both with cerebral palsy. Their mother left them in the institution on the day their father had kicked her out for ‘only being able to have crippled children’. I reached into the girl’s cot to hold her hand, and her steady gaze held mine. I bent over to hold her brother’s foot, and felt like a lightning rod between them. But the missing link is their mother.

"Bulgaria has the highest rate of institutionalised children in Europe, more than 8,000 in 32 buildings, many in the most inaccessible parts of the country. I have been going there for five years, with the Bulgarian Abandoned Children’s Trust, which, along with other NGOs, is trying to change things.

"Late last year, the new health minister, Desislava Atanasova, made an unscheduled visit to Pleven, which has the largest baby institute in the country. She then gave a press conference, where she told of the conditions in which the children lived, and in which, over the course of the past 18 months, the same number had died. She told of babies being fed with bottles long after they should be on solid food. She described three-year-olds unable to walk or talk, and 16-year-olds (this is an institution for children up to three) being kept there to justify the employment of 170 staff.

"I have been several times to Pleven, and carry memories that haunt me. I think particularly about the disabled children, locked away on a separate floor, many growing into the shape of their cots, and dying of starvation and neglect. These children are robbed of any chance of life. The stench of urine and feces and rotting teeth is all-pervading. If evil has a smell, then this is it. Only 2 per cent of the babies in these institutions are actually orphans. The rest are abandoned due to poverty and parental neglect, and many simply because they are disabled.

"Because all 32 baby institutions come under the ministry of health, they are run along medical lines, and there is nothing in the way of education or affection. Much of the damage to the children is due to a lack of stimulation and interaction. The children don’t talk, because nobody has ever bothered to talk to them. They don’t walk because they are never allowed out of their cots, and their muscles have wasted away.

"We have started a Granny (Baba) programme in Pleven. Twenty local ladies come in for four hours a day. Each Baba has one able-bodied child and one disabled child to look after. The difference this has made to the the children lucky enough to be on this programme is startling, but not surprising. Children are talking, and some are walking. They are learning to feed themselves, and to trust, to feel and to play. It is dreadful to see them being put back into their cots at the end of their four hours, and even worse to look at all the other children who have not yet been out of theirs. After the visit from the minister of health, journalists in Bulgaria described Pleven as ‘the death camp for children’.

"There is a commitment to start a ‘de-institutionalisation’ process, with EU money. It is difficult to believe that the Bulgaria I see in these homes is part of the EU, and strange that, before its accession, the country was not bound to the same strictures about closing institutions as Romania was. Eight baby homes are marked for closure, but the task is huge. There are few family support services in the community. On a recent trip, I met a group of mothers who had defied the state (which still, via the doctors, puts great pressure on mothers to give up their disabled children) and kept their disabled children at home. I have never seen such exhausted women.

"Small group homes are being built, for up to eight children at a time. I visited one recently at 3.30 in the afternoon and found all the disabled young teenagers in bed, with only one carer on duty. If the money is going into building these homes, and none into staffing them and re-training the staff, they will become replicas of the larger institutions.

"I have worked with some inspirational Bulgarians who have dedicated their lives to making a difference to these forgotten children; people who have stood up against their local communities. Often, these institutions are the only source of local employment, and there is enormous, sometimes violent, resistance to their closure. But without a serious will for change, and a national policy on making disability acceptable, the twins I saw this week will spend their lives staring at ceilings."

That is why Andrew and I are adopting from Bulgaria. Not because we are saints. Not because this will be easy. Not because we are someone special. But because Jesus cares for children and He wants us to care for them too. Because God intended children to grow up in families with loving parents, not in institutions.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Little Taste of Bulgaria

Before we started researching countries to adopt from, I am not sure I had even heard of Bulgaria. Most people we share our adoption plans with haven't heard of Bulgaria either. In case your wondering, Bulgaria is right here.

Now, I am trying to learn what I can about Bulgarian culture. I have a great CD of Bulgarian phrases for adoptive parents, I listen to in the car. I look through Bulgarian travel books from the library. I have some Bulgarian cookbooks on my wish list on Amazon. Andrew and I even found an international grocery store with a small Bulgarian section!

I was so happy when I stumbled across this recently while reading an adoption blog. I thought you, our family and friends, might like to know more about the culture of Bulgaria too, so I just had to share!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Update: Homestudy Interviews Scheduled!

We had hoped to do our homestudy in January. Life doesn't always go as hoped! Our adoption process seemed to crawl along slower than a turtle through January.

In mid December, we had turned in all of our part of the paperwork to the homestudy adoption agency. We were raring to start on our homestudy at the beginning of January. We had one hold up to starting our homestudy. The state had not sent the copy of my fingerprint results to our homestudy agency yet. Unfortunately government offices don't always work on my time schedule. ( On November 16, I had requested a copy of my fingerprint results that I had just had done for the preschool where I work to be sent to our homestudy agency.) We could not move forward with the homestudy until my finger print results came back.

Waiting is not fun. I did not pray for patience. I called the state office that handles request for copies of fingerprint results to make sure my request had been filled out correctly, hadn't been lost, etc. I called our homestudy agency about weekly to see if they had gotten my results back and we could start our homestudy.

 My finger prints finally came in to the adoption agency near the end of January. The last day of January, I was thrilled when we got a call and email from our social worker, K. We are scheduled for our first interview as a couple with K. for this coming Saturday! K. is going to fit all for of our meetings in one week to help us get our homestudy completed so that we can file our immigration forms ASAP and we can make our June 7 deadline to have all our dossier paper work finished and ready to mail to our international agency, Children of All Nations.