Adult Adoptees’ Perspective on Interracial Adoption

 

The Debate on Interracial Adoption: Since the 1970s, there have been debates in America on whether children of one race should be adopted by parents of another. One camp argues that children adopted interracially lose their sense of identity and culture, while the other claims that regardless of race, it is positive because these children are finding homes. So, what do adult adoptees have to say about their experiences with being adopted by parents of a different race?

Kiana’s Experience: On the Archibald Project’s 48th episode, Race & Adoption Advice from Adult Adoptees, Kiana speaks about her experience with being a black child adopted and raised by a white, single mother (https://www.thearchibaldproject.com/). Kiana was adopted at age two with two other girls from her orphanage. She grew up in a community that had many adopted children, so her family unit seemed normal to her until the age of five. When Kiana began Kindergarten, children asked why she did not look like her mother; it was difficult to constantly explain that she was adopted and know what level of detail she needed to share. Thankfully, Kiana’s mother encouraged open communication with her daughters about adoption, and together they came up with a plan on what to say to the other kids.

Kiana’s mother made an effort to incorporate Haitian culture into their daily life. Every Haitian Independence Day, the family would cook traditional Haitian food, fly their national flag, and celebrate. They had dance parties to Haitian music and even attended an annual summer camp with other adoptees from their orphanage. Although she speaks fondly of these memories, Kiana explains that interracial adoption is complicated. As an adult, she is most uncomfortable around black individuals because she fears them calling her “white washed.” She continues by saying, “it feels like you are standing at two tables (black and white), and you don’t have a chair at either one.”

My friend, Dante*: It has been over a decade since I met my friend, Dante. Our friendship has been close, and I am immensely grateful that he chose to share his adoption story with me…and all of you! At the age of five, Dante was adopted from Guatemala along with his younger sister, Agostina*. They were adopted by a white couple in the American Midwest.

This time was scary for Dante as he was in a foreign place and did not speak the same language as his adoptive parents. However, as with Kiana, experiencing this transition with a sibling made it much easier. Over time, Dante and Agostina began to trust and bond with their new parents. His parents took a different approach than Kiana’s as they chose not to incorporate Guatemalan culture into their children’s lives. Although Dante regrets losing his Spanish speaking skills, he still embraces his Guatemalan culture as an adult. Dante loves listening to Guatemalan music and learning about the country. Overall, adoption has been a positive experience for him, and he is extremely grateful that his parents made the decision to adopt. Dante reported, “I am thankful for my parents and everything they have given me. Without them, I would have likely ended up in a gang or participating in illegal activities because of where I came from. Instead, I have a good life.” Dante desires to adopt children of his own some day because he “has seen how adoption can change someone’s life for the better.”

Should I Incorporate the Culture of My Child’s Home Country in Our Lives?: The answer to this is… it depends. When a child is adopted, especially from a foreign country, they need to process their new life circumstances and decide what their identity is going to be. They often experience an inner battle between the culture of their homeland and that of their new home. Kiana recommends that adoptive parents give their children space to feel and process all of the emotions that come with creating a new sense of self. She said her mother did a good job of not taking it personally when Kiana pushed her away during these times. In addition, children in a sibling group may not react the same way to this process. For instance, Kiana enjoys learning about her heritage and visiting Haiti, while her sister has little interest in those pursuits. It is important that adoptive parents give their children opportunities to stay invested in their birth country’s culture. From that point, each child can decide whether he or she would like to learn about their heritage or fully embrace an American lifestyle. No path is wrong, and neither indicates that the adoptive parents are not doing a great job at raising their children.

Conclusion: It is difficult to state which side of the debate is correct. Both adoptees above said there were complications with interracial adoption, but also indicated that their experiences were overall positive. Based on these cases, a successful and healthy interracial adoption can be achieved by adoptive parents who 1) support open communication and 2) present opportunities to incorporate the child’s culture if he or she is interested in pursuing it.

*Names have been changed for anonymity

 

written by Heather Berry

Ten Compelling Podcasts About Foster Care and Adoption

 

I love podcasts and often subscribe to more than I can feasibly listen to in a week. In recent years as the rise of podcasts’ popularity as risen, there have been more and more options becoming available around the issue of foster care and adoption. What a gift! When my husband and I became foster parents 14 years ago, podcasts featuring foster and adoptive professionals, as well as the voices of foster and adoptive parents and adoptees, would have been such an asset as we felt like we were fumbling through those early days and figuring things out as we went. There are truly some fantastic resources available now in the podcast world and here are some recommendations that we hope may be a help to you:

Creating a Family is one of the longest running, most well-known podcasts available and their mission is to strengthen families through education and support for navigating infertility, adoption or foster care. Podcast episodes feature leading experts on infertility and adoption, as well as birth parents, foster and adoptive parents, and adoptees each week to bring a wealth of information on all aspects of adoption and infertility. Recent topics include Connected Parenting/Attachment, How to Raise an Anti-Racist Child, Issues Related to Transracial Adoption, Open Adoption, Living with Infertility, Parenting Children Who Have Experienced Trauma, and so much more.

 

This is a podcast is hosted by Jamie Finn, from Foster the Family, and is geared towards biological, adoptive, and foster moms. Each episode features real conversations with women touched by foster care and/or adoption. It is helpful, meaningful, and shares so many important perspectives and truths about motherhood. This podcast is gospel-centered and encouraging.

 

The Honestly Adoption Podcast features real voices, sharing hope and encouragement to parents on the journey of foster care and adoption. Hosts Mike and Kristin Berry, and Nicole Goerges share open and honest perspectives from the journey of foster, adoptive, and parenting children with special needs. In light of recent events, Honestly Adoption has recently been re-airing episodes that feature various people of color to highlight black voices specifically in the foster and adoptive community. Some of these episodes include Thoughts on Hair Care & Support for Transracial Adoptees, How a Former Foster Youth is Telling a Different Adoption Story, Raising a Multiracial Family, and Thoughts on Adoption from a Transracial Adoptee.

 

Adoption Now features guests who share their stories about the joys and challenges of the adoption journey. You’ll hear from parents and families who’ve been through infant and international adoption, foster-to-adopt, and embryo adoption. These inspiring stories are told from the perspective of the adoptee, birth parent or adoptive parent. Several reviewers noted that they deeply appreciate that this podcast honors all parts of the triad so well.

 

 

Around The World with The Archibald Project’s hosts, Whitney and Nick, started The Archibald Project with the belief that caring for orphaned and vulnerable children is one of the most important jobs in the world. They observed however, that often people were too overwhelmed to get involved or lacked the support they needed to keep going. This podcast is a place where you can easily find answers, encouragement, and support. Recent episodes include Navigating the Complexities of Adoption with Cam Lee, Are You Afraid of Down Syndrome Adoption, When You Find Out Your Birth Mother is Alive, Do You Know What Birth Moms Go Through, and Race & Adoption Advice.

 

The Adoption Hacks Podcast celebrates and educates potential and current adoptive and foster families. Episodes will provide tips for those starting the journey, support for parents, and a look at programs for vulnerable children. The host and an adoptive mom, Kandace Lecocq, interviews professionals and moms and dads who have been there. Recent episodes feature increased care & understanding for birth moms, navigating unknowns in adoption, post adoption depression, and a journey through foster care.

 

The Forgotten Initiative seeks to support the foster care community through awareness, encouragement, and advocacy. Recent episodes include stories about The Battle for Control in Foster Care, Meeting Your Biological Parent: Expectations, Joys, and Disappointments, When Your Children Don’t Look Like You: Understanding Black Hair Care, Moved From Relative to Relative: A Journey Toward Healing After Trauma, and When Foster Care Leads to Adoption: Processing Big Emotions.

 

Let’s Talk Adoption is another long-running adoption podcast that features new guests and topics each week relating to the adoption process, raising children, and pregnancy options. Let’s Talk Adoption’s goal is to bring hope and education to adoptive and birth parents, sharing the miracles created through a modern, open adoption. Past guests have included authors, attorneys, physicians, social workers, adoptive parents and birth parents.

 

If you are an adoptive mom looking for hope, practical tools and friends who understand, this podcast is for you. The hosts, Lisa and Melissa, are both adoptive moms. In addition, Lisa is a birth mother and Melissa is an adult adoptee.  Between the two of them, they represent all three parts of the adoption triad. They offer diverse perspectives and the issues discussed are educational, encouraging, and inspiring. Check out some of their recent episodes such as Resetting the Nervous System for Felt Safety, Ethical Orphan Care and Adoption, A Conversation about Race, and The Impact of Prenatal Trauma on Children.

 

 

Born in June, Raised in April’s host, April Diswoodie, shares her very personal experience as a transracial adoptee growing up in New England and explores adoption in all its many layers. Each episode is anchored in the months of the year, connecting poignant holidays, rituals, rites of passage, and celebrations to the meaning of legacy, family, and identity.

 

written by Amy Eudy BSW | Home Study Manager SC

How Hosting Changed My Life

My family was part of the first host program at Nightlight in 1995. It really was a unique program, the first of its kind, as school-aged children from overseas orphanages were being offered an opportunity to visit the United States. Ron Stoddart, Nightlight’s founder, brought over 12 children from a Children’s Home in St. Petersburg, Russia, ages 7-14 years old.  The children performed their version of The Little Prince at venues across Southern California.

 

We had actually only been home with our daughters, adopted from the same Children’s Home, 2 months earlier, so were dealing with our own adjustment as new parents. We agreed to host two 7-year-old little girls from the group of children our eldest daughter had belonged to at that orphanage. It was a wild 2 weeks! It brought up some issues with our daughters as their friends told them they would be going back to Russia and not to believe us that we were their ‘forever family.’ We did a lot of talking, processing of feelings and reassuring our daughters that they truly were here to stay. We became close friends with all the other families involved. It was an amazing experience!

 

We continued to host over the next 23 years, having over 75 children in our home! Nightlight had several years where there were two tours, summer and winter. After the first few years, I began to work at Nightlight and also took on the responsibility for the tour program. We hosted children from China, Colombia, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Russia, Taiwan and Ukraine. It was a fun experience for our children, as they got to practice their Russian and Spanish or learn words from yet another language. We enjoyed experiencing another culture, as we tried new foods, listened to different music and heard their stories. Ron named the tours, ‘”Every Child Has a Name’” at remind us that each child has a story uniquely their own.

 

We brought the 10-year-old soccer champion team from St. Petersburg Russia one year. It was fun to take the children to different places and see their faces as we went to the beach, Costco, Disneyland or a real, manicured soccer field for the first time. The boys were used to playing with a ball made of tape and on a rocky playground. They didn’t have any equipment. Through families and sponsors, we sent them back with soccer cleats, balls, uniforms and a wonderful sign with all of their names. They were so excited!

 

Most of our tour programs over the first 15 years were performance tours. The children performed traditional folk dances and their National Anthem, having prepared prior to their visit. The first performance, the children would be very shy. However, with each performance, as they received applause and tokens of appreciation, the children blossomed!  They enjoyed sharing their culture with the appreciative audiences.

 

Each child came to the US with a small backpack, sometimes with one or two sets of clothing and a toothbrush, but more often, empty. They left with rolling suitcases and character backpacks stuffed to the brim with clothing, new toys and school supplies. We knew everything would be shared with the other children at the children’s home once they returned, so sent clothing, toys and supplies that would be enjoyed by children of all ages.

 

We saw the tour program as a way to advocate for older children hoping for adoption, we also saw it as a way to learn more about other cultures, share our home with children who may not have had a positive family experience. The children experienced having a story read to them before bed, cooking together and going swimming in the ocean. We kept in touch with some of the children, some for a brief time until they were adopted. We continue to stay in touch with others, long past the time they visited. One even stayed with us as she completed an internship for her university, at Nightlight.

 

The majority of the children did find their ‘forever family.’ However, for those who were not adopted, they had a wonderful vacation where they got to experience a loving family who cared about them and shared their family life. They left with memories that would last them a lifetime. As our 4 daughters grew up, we found we had room for two more children and adopted our sons. We did not anticipate adopting again after our first four daughters, however hosting brought us our boys.  Hosting changed our lives in so many ways, leaving us with so many wonderful memories and best of all, our sons!

 

written by Rhonda Jarema | Executive Director, California Office Nightlight Christian Adoptions

 

 

The Importance of Honoring Communication Wishes of Birth Parents

 

We all know, keeping an agreement, any agreement, is important for the simple sake that it’s a measure of your integrity and moral character. Another helpful question to explore maybe this, “How do I establish a post adoption communication agreement with birth parents that will allow me to act in the highest degree of integrity and honor and is most beneficial to my child?

 

Your child, as they grow, will learn your true character through how you treat others. Additionally, your child is an extension of both you and their birth family. How you treat their birth family may be interpreted by your child as, “this is how they feel about me.”

 

Here are a 7 few tips that will help put you on the right path.

 

Examine yourself. Long before the matching process you need to ask yourself, “What are my feelings towards open adoption and continued contact with birth parents?” If feelings of fear or anxiety begin stirring in your heart, it is time to take a pause and look at the root of these feels. Maybe you have unaddressed fears of being rejected by your child or your child favoring their birth parents over you.  Don’t be afraid to discuss these fears with your adoption social worker. They welcome these questions and will help you work through them. Once these fears and anxieties are addressed you’ll be better prepared to have beneficial conversations about openness with birth parents.

 

Start the conversation about openness as early as possible. It’s important to talk about the level of openness you are all comfortable with during and after the adoption even before you are in an official match.  Talking openly and truthfully about everything lays the foundation of an open communication. This may feel stressful and awkward at first, but it is the best way to establish boundaries and expectations from the beginning.

 

Continue ongoing communication throughout the pregnancy to build a level of comfort with the birth parents. The Doors stated it well in their song lyric “People are strange when you’re a stranger”. The strangeness and awkwardness you may feel towards a birth parent (and they feel towards you) only has a chance to subside with time spent communicating and getting to know each other. Hopefully during this time parties are building a mutual respect. This doesn’t mean asking them personal intrusive questions but instead getting got to know their likes and interests. Just having more exposure to each other over time is likely to make you both feel more comfortable.

 

Know your limits. Don’t promise to more contact than what you are really ready to commit to, just to have the birth parents like you more. You are making a commitment for 18 plus years.

 

Understand the post adoption contact can and will change. One of the key characteristics to a successful adoptive parent is the ability to be flexible. Understand that during the course of your child’s life the communication from the birth parent may ebb and flow, depending on several variables.  If they haven’t had contact with you in a few years and then return, don’t scold them but welcome them back and begin a conversation. (

Additionally, if a birth parent hasn’t been able to commit to their communication agreement, it doesn’t mean you have a pass to break your terms of the agreement. Try to be as consistent as you can. Again, your child is watching you J)

 

Know not to take things personally. You may have established what you thought was a great open relationship with your child’s birth parents only to have them discontinue communication with you or they ask for more contact then what you both originally established. If you are abiding to the communication guidelines clearly established in the beginning, you should not fear that a birth parents’ absence is about you or that you need to abide to their wishes for increased contact.

 

Never hesitate to reach out to your adoption agency for advice. Lastly, if communication between birth parents and adoptive parents become contentious, it’s never too early for either party to reach out to an adoption professional or the adoption agency to ask for help and mediation. It’s much better to involve a third party when the conflict first arises then wait until it escalates.

 

 

These are simple and basic tips to assure that a post adoption communication agreement with your child’s birth parents can be established and sustained throughout your child’s life. Although it seems to be the exception and not the rule, I have spoken to birth parents who had signed an agreement of an open adoption, but then the adoptive parents cut off communication. This is heartbreaking. Remember, a birth parent’s decision was not made from a lack of love. She chose you because she felt that you would raise her child better than she could at that point in her life.

 

Written by Michelle Alabran

 

*For more information about why Nightlight believes that open adoption is in most cases the healthiest choice for all involved in the adoption triad, click here.

Overcoming a Millennial’s Perceived Adoption Roadblocks

 

Those born from the 1980s to the mid-1990s are what society calls millennials. It is not uncommon for individuals and couples born in this generation to delay traditional life milestones like marriage, home-buying, and parenting. With that said, there are a few perceived adoption roadblocks that are unique to this generation.

 

Finances

 

One potential roadblock for this generation is the cost to adopt a child. Adopting a child can be expensive, but of course, international, embryo, foster care, and domestic adoptions all have different fees to successfully place a child with a loving family. Millennial unemployment or underemployment is currently more than double the national average. There are certainly several different causes for the rise of millennial unemployment and financial struggle. The number one cause is student debt. The average millennial who has attended college has more than $37,000 in student loan debt. This debt can take years to pay off which can potentially postpone plans for adopting.

 

Fortunately, there are several opportunities for fundraising an adoption. Families seeking adoption may sell T-shirts, put on a spaghetti dinner, have a bake sale, receive contributions from their church community’s financial support, and fund raise in many other creative ways. There are also tax credits, scholarships and other financial assistance available to help families further grow their family through adoption. Click here for more helpful resources for funding your adoption.

 

Schedules

 

Another roadblock for millennials in regards to adoption is scheduling conflicts. Millennials primary education was geared towards the end resulting in pursuing college, the military, or some sort of trade. Because of this a lot of men and women born in this generation earned a degree or certificate of some kind. Therefore, it is more common in this generation than generations preceding that spouses are both working part-time or full-time jobs. These couples may work the same hours, or be on opposite schedules. There are also a lot of jobs held by millennials that require frequent travel to other states or countries. With this said, couples born in this generation consider who will care for their child while they are working, can they afford to hire someone or a daycare to care for their child, how much paid time off or Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) will they have to spend with their adopted child after they are matched? All of these questions and more could be potential roadblocks for these couples considering adoption.

 

The great news is that a lot of corporate agencies and organizations offer great Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) benefits that are accommodating to adoptions, regardless of the age of the child. Families have been able to travel internationally with airfare and hotel costs covered by the company they work for, some families can take months off of work to help their 12-year-old adopted child from a different country accommodate to their adopted family and a new culture. Of course, this is not the case for everyone but it is something to consider and talk to your supervisor or human resources department about at your job. Another thing to consider is that schedules typically have flexibility. Couples considering adoption will have time to modify work schedules, modify routine and to plan for time spent as a family.

 

Age

 

The final roadblock millennials perceive regarding adoption is their age. Depending on who you ask millennials age range from about 23 to 38 years old. Families who adopt might be adding another child to their family or they could be adopting their first child. That said, young couples may fear they will not be approved to move forward in the adoption process because they are too young and/or do not have any experience raising a child.

 

The good news is that there are educational requirements to fulfill before being matched with a child. All adoptive families are required to to complete education including articles and videos on parenting, adoption and if adoptive families are pursuing international adoption, learning about your child’s country of origin. There are several parenting classes offered virtually and face to face across the nation that are typically free or low in cost.

 

There are perceived roadblocks to everything we do in life whether that be applying for a new job, moving to a new state, or adopting a child. It is important to access any available resources or information to assist families in navigating roadblocks.

 

written by Margaret Baldwin | MSW intern

How to Connect with Your Child’s Birth Parent in Foster Care

 

When choosing to grow your family through adoption, studies have shown that open conversations with children and connection with their birth family is best in most circumstances. While this is commonly embraced in domestic infant adoption, other methods of adoption like through the foster system have made slower progress. There are reasons for this, including the reality that birth parents are separated from their children against their will usually relating to the safety of the child. Still, many foster parents are looking at the statistics and wondering if there is a way to connect with their child’s birth parent.

These were things that my husband and I chose to research when we decided to pursue foster care, and eventually adopted twins from the foster system. While the system is designed to give foster parents the freedom to stay uninvolved with birth parents, we chose to ask if more might be an option.

We reached out to their team to ask them to speak with their birth family and see if they might be open to talking regardless of the outcome of the case. We chose a few options that would be safe such as using a P.O. Box for letters, an encrypted messaging app for text and pictures, and pursued more direct contact with our children’s birth grandparents who were deemed safe by their team, but simply too old to case for the twins long term.

We started slow through emails and eventually meeting their birth grandparents at a park. We reassured them that we wanted to make sure out children didn’t have their whole history erased and could still keep in touch with their family. Although it hurts me to say it, they were grateful we would even consider it. That their story wouldn’t have to involve permanently losing these little children that they loved desperately.

We started meeting in person with their grandparents more often after that. I had been nervous from the very start, worrying that I might be making a mistake and make this harder for my kids. But, every time they saw them I noticed the hug my daughter would give her grandparents. I noticed the big breath she would take in that hug and how her body would relax, as if she had been trying to hold it together and pretend like she didn’t miss her family so badly. She always did better the days after, was more relaxed and happier. For us, for her, I knew this was the right choice.

My son responded a little differently, he appreciated more space, and so we worked to find a balance that would give one the contact she craved, and provide freedom for him to distance himself from too much interaction if he felt like it. We also pursued contact with their birth mom through a messaging app to share pictures and updates, providing encouragement when I could. I was even blessed with the opportunity to meet their mom in person for coffee and spend hours getting to know her and my kids before they came to my home. She was not emotionally ready for anything more than meeting me, and that was ok. The stories I learned, I was able to gift to my kids in their Lifebook and when we talked through questions. I now had stories of who their father was, character traits I would never have known without their birth mothers help.

For our story, connection with my kids birth family was one of the best ways I could show them love, and that I accepted all of them, the good and bad stories included.

Some tips on connecting with birth family through foster care:

  1. Use the foster care team to learn more about the safety of the people involved and if advisable, ask for them to set up a meeting time. This can be especially helpful if you are fostering with an intent to encourage reunification, as foster parents are often great advocates for birth family and can help mentor them towards success and reunification. If adoption is the current goal of the case, see if it would be possible to send a letter along explaining your goals in contact and ask if they would be interested. Have the foster care team review the letter with you, since they will know more about the parent and can advocate for your family.

 

  1. Find a few communication methods that are safe and managed by you. This can be a P.O. Box, a messaging app, or an email address created for the purpose of contact that does not include significant identifying information. Begin communication through those methods, and if you get more comfortable with it, consider sending more consistent updates. It is recommended to avoid any identifiable information that the parent could use to contact the child directly, without your approval.

 

  1. Listen to your child’s needs. Contact with birth family can be complicated in domestic infant adoption, and more so in foster care. Observe your child when they get news, it may be emotional for them. While many parents may pull back on conversations because of the emotional nature of it, often kids just need support in feeling those big emotions in their heart. You may want to work with a child therapist that has experience with open adoption and find ways to help your child process. Many situations would not be safe for in person contact, but even some news about birth family can provide reassurance.

written by Deb Uber

Encouragements for Fathers-To-Be

 

Preparing to enter the world of fatherhood can be exciting, nerve wracking and overwhelming. Preparing to become a father through adoption can amplify those feelings as it adds another layer to the new dynamic of becoming a dad. There is no nine month countdown or abundance of ‘What to Expect’ advice when it comes to becoming a parent through adoption. It is very normal for the paperwork, education, meetings and waiting to cause fear and uncertainty to begin to surface, even for an experienced parent, never mind anticipating the lack of sleep, travel, adjustment of your child and the difficult questions that adoption may bring as your child gets older.

There are plenty of places to turn to deal with the uncertainty that this new role may bring, however you can take comfort in the fact that you are not alone, that God has uniquely called and prepared you and your wife for this journey. While no one would argue that parenting and adoption are difficult endeavors, this journey will grow you as an individual and as a couple. There may be many days that bring challenges; however, there will be the days that bring you more joy than you could imagine – when you get “the call,” when you meet your child for the first time, when you see your child reach a new milestone, when you look into your child’s eyes or see them begin to trust you. Though your path to fatherhood may not always make sense in the moment, we can trust that God is weaving together a beautiful story of redemption and grace for your family. As Christians, there is no better source of comfort or encouragement than God’s Word.

  • God is faithful and He loves us

Lamentations 3:22-23

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

  • God is working all things for His purpose and our good

Romans 8:28

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

  • God has made everything beautiful in His time

Ecclesiastes 3:11

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

  • God is gracious

Romans 8:31-32

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

  • God is able to do more than we could ask or imagine

Ephesians 3:20-21

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

  • We can bring our concerns, our anxiety and our doubts to Him and have peace

Philippians 4:6-7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

written by Lindsay Jones

Adoption Fundraising during COVID19

You have embarked on the journey of a lifetime after much prayer, investigation, decision-making, and paperwork. You have committed to a huge financial commitment and are ready to begin fundraising, then the unthinkable happens – a pandemic. Large gatherings are out the window. Foundations have delayed application dates. What is an adoptive family to do? Remember, this time is temporary. Thankfully, some states and cities are slowly opening. In times like this, an alternative plan is necessary. Fundraising does not need to stop, but it does need to change. Map out a new route for raising funds. Here are 10 ideas to keep progressing in your financial goals.

  1. Plan for a GARAGE SALE. You have time to clean out your closets, garage, and attic. Begin organizing items and marking prices. As you feel comfortable, offer to pick up items from family and friends. When your town or city approves garage sales, you will be ready to roll.
  2. Sell larger items or a collection of items on FACEBOOK MARKETPLACE, OFFERUP, or your selling place of choice. As people have not been able to shop in stores, capitalize on personal sales.
  3. Plan for future GRANT APPLICATIONS. No, you may not be able to submit them now, but make a list of the ones which your family fits their criteria. Put the list in order of submission based upon deadlines listed online. Gather all documents and have your family’s story written, proofread, and perfected. Please do not get discouraged with the number available to your family. What matters most is not the quantity you submit but rather the quality of clarity and excellence with which you submit them.
  4. Make your ON-LINE FUNDRAISING PLATFORM accessible and easy for donors to use. This can be done at adoptionbridge.org. All donations are tax-deductible and only a 3% fee is charged for credit card processing. Of course, we are mindful of those who are affected by unemployment, but there are those family and friends who are able and willing to join you.
  5. OFFER SERVICES which people might need at this time. Pick up prescriptions, groceries, or run errands. Charge a set price or accept donations toward your adoption. As you reach out to people who need these services, give them assurance with protocol as to how you will accomplish the task with the highest protection level for them and you.
  6. RUN 5, GIVE 5. Quarantine and extra baking equals unwanted pounds! Invite your friends on social media (Facebook, Instagram …) to run or walk 5K followed by a donation of $5 to your adoption. Then ask your runners to nominate 5 of their friends to the challenge. Go big and make it WALK 10, GIVE 10, then nominate 10! Number 4 above will ensure an effortless donation procedure. Exercise and funding will be a win/win.
  7. Plan a VIRTUAL GALA. With the options of Facebook, YouTube Live, or Zoom, plan a gala that fits the interest and strengths of your unique family. Have an invitation blitz, sell on-line tickets, and create a fun and fast-moving program. The possibilities are endless. Invite special speakers or artists, read aloud a children’s adoption book, and have donated items for a silent auction. Make it a dessert event or a scones & tea night. Send out recipes ahead of time. Be creative and give people an opportunity to laugh and be inspired!
  8. Create a CONTEST. Offer a talent competition or challenge in dance, art, baking, pet photos, or anything fun you can imagine. Charge a fee to submit entries online. Post those entries for public votes. Charge a voting fee and then offer fun but inexpensive prizes for 1st, 2nd, & 3rd Consider intangible prizes such as their photo posted on Facebook for a month or a personal porch delivery of a plate of homemade cookies.
  9. Reread and reconsider ideas in the NIGHTLIGHT FINANCIAL GUIDE. Upon becoming a Nightlight family, a Financial Guide specific to your personal adoption became available to you. Some of the ideas may not have seemed to be a good fit for your family before COVID19; however, now you may see them as new options. Consider a shoe collection such as angelbins.com or www.funds2orgs.com. Utilize quarantine time to plan a Both Hands project at www.lifesongfororhans.org. Choose a sales fundraiser to meet the needs of this season such as First-Aid Kits at www.first-aid-product.com. If you did not receive a Financial Guide for embryo, domestic, or international adoption, please contact [email protected].
  10. Send an UPDATE LETTER to your family and friends. Start with a message of thanks for the many types of support you have been given from words of encouragement and prayers to donations. Give an update of your adoption journey and explain where you are in the process. Be honest about funding. Share what you have done to raise funds, how much you need to raise, and the ways in which the pandemic has affected your fundraising plans. Share how you are using personal stewardship during this time to add to your adoption fund. Give details about your current online funding platform and the exciting fundraisers you are planning for the summer and fall. Put out a plea for event volunteers.

In a time when global reactivity reigns, you can be intentially proactive. View your fundraising not as cancelled but as altered and even improved. In a season of financial lemons, make lemonade! We can be confident that even during a pandemic, Ephesians 3:20 is still truth, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.”

 

Camie Schuiteman is the Financial Resource Specialist for Nightlight Christian Adoptions.

She can be reached at [email protected].

 

 

 

Adoption Through the Eyes of a Father

My wife and I felt called to adoption for quite some time, but the process always seemed daunting, and fraught with uncertainty. After completing long years of medical school and residency, along with having two children during the process, our family finally had more time together, and life started to feel pretty “comfortable.” However, we did not feel complete, and we knew we wanted to add another child; we just did not know how. Adoption weighed heavy on our hearts, but we were still plagued by doubts and insecurities. We feared the unknown and we held tight to our newly found, and long-awaited, sense of “comfort.”

 

Ultimately, we decided to fast for clarity and wisdom; and God answered in remarkable ways, as we know only He can. Our story leading to adoption is long and detailed, and one we love sharing, but it was during this time He made it undeniably clear our family was called to adoption. God had reminded us that we are not called to a life of “comfort,” rather we have been called to a life of purpose, regardless of the challenges that lie ahead. We have been called to exercise our faith through action, even during times of doubt and uncertainty.

 

Following our fast, we began our home study process, and started making our family profile book. Within a couple months we became a “waiting family,” and several months later we received the call we had been selected. Later that day we held our girl, Hayden Grace, for the first time, and our family was forever changed. Our “gotcha day,” also just so happened to be my birthday; so, every year we have plenty to celebrate.

 

I imagine every adoptive parent has their faith tested and refined throughout their adoption journey, and ours is no different. Over Hayden’s first year, she battled multiple health issues, each one testing our faith in new ways, and each one resurrecting more insecurity and doubt. Yet, through every storm, God calmed our unrest, and reminded us of His greater purpose and of His steadfast presence. Looking back, we cannot believe our fears almost led to missing out on our sweet Hayden. Well-intentioned friends and family often say, “she is so lucky to have you,” and my wife and I feel that statement could not be further from the truth. We are the ones who needed her, and we are infinitely grateful she is family.

 

Hayden just turned one, and she’s far too young for the difficult conversations of identity, grief or any other challenging topic that comes with adoption. Her older siblings have already started asking some pretty hard questions, hopefully helping to start prepare us for what is to come. We know there will likely be difficult conversations ahead, but as we have experienced time and time again, He will be there every step of the way.

 

written by an adoptive father  |  submitted by Lara Kelso

Helpful Responses to Questions all Foster Moms Hear

 

Being a foster parent comes with a lot of questions. So many that I have seriously entertained the idea of designing a t-shirt with responses to the top few and wearing it in public at all times. Some of these questions can come off as offensive and it’s true that people can be pretty nosey and invasive. But I have learned that while some folks could use a bit of work on being a tad less tacky in their delivery, the truth is that most people are just genuinely curious and don’t really mean to be insulting. They’ve probably thought about becoming a foster parent themselves and they are expressing some of their own personal reservations.  So, I think this is the perfect time to flip the script and instead of acting annoyed or giving a short answer, we can view these moments as an opportunity to educate our family, friends, or the stranger behind us in the grocery store line.  

The most common comment we hear about foster care is not a question at all. Our family has been fostering for 9 years now and hands down, the most common comment we hear about foster care is not a question at all and it goes something like this, “I could never foster. There’s no way I could give them back.” Ouch! This was tough to hear the first several times. I felt like people must think foster parents are cold-hearted humans and our homes have revolving doors through which children come and go and no one is any worse for the wear. The reality is that it is painful. It’s a loss. There are lots of tears and prayers. There is fear and grief – all the stages.  The heartache is deep and long-lasting. But I am here to testify that my family has a 100% survival rate! The truth is we can give them back. We will never be the same, but we will be okay. We will be okay because we serve a God who not only walks beside us in our suffering, He is a Father that understands our loss completely. We will be okay because we have been blessed to be a part of God’s plan for a child’s life. We will be better than okay because what we are doing is changing the course of a child’s life and making an eternal difference. Will it be hard? Yes. A child is always worth doing the hard things. So, when I am faced with a comment like, “It would be too hard to give them back”, I respond by saying, “Then you are exactly what these kids need.” They need parents who will love them so completely that they grieve deeply when they leave our homes.  Instead of asking what it will mean for us if we do foster, we should be asking what it will mean for the 450,000 kids in the US foster care system if we don’t.  

The line of questioning may continue. When venturing out with your crew, you might hear something like, “Are they all yours?” or even, “Which ones are your real kids?”.  Questions like these are more common than you think and a confident answer will help your kids feel secure about their place in your family. When it comes to strangers, I like to keep it short and sweet. A simple smile and a “They’re all mine” is recommended. Otherwise, the line of questioning may continue, causing things to become really awkward for everyone, especially your kids. If someone seems genuinely interested, you could hand them a Nightlight business card and say something like “Here’s some contact information if you want to learn more about growing your family through foster care and adoption. It is so important to be prepared with a quick response for questions like these so you’re not stumbling over your words.  

Those closest to us often ask the most difficult questions. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard, “Is their mom on drugs?” While this is absolutely none of their business, it is an excellent opportunity to educate. In this case, you can still respond without divulging and personal or confidential information. Let them know that the reasons why kids come into care vary, but the bottom line is that it’s currently not safe for the child to live with their biological parents.  

“Are you going to adopt him/her?” Unless you have indeed moved into the adoption phase of the process, then you probably don’t know the answer to this.  You could simply say, “We will see what God has planned for our family.” the line of questioning may continue you could elaborate a little more and explain how the process works and even go into detail about where your family is in the process.  

“Why don’t you just stop fostering?” Yikes! This is a tough one that we have heard from a couple of well-meaning loved ones. This question might come if you’ve been venting about your struggles or maybe those close to you have witnessed you grappling with difficult circumstances first-hand. If you’re anything like me, you might be tempted to respond in a defensive way. But, understanding that questions like this usually come from a place of love and concern will help you to respond with grace. Parenting is tough, foster or not. It’s not an option to just quit being a parent. Parenting kids from hard places adds another challenging layer and things can get really messy sometimes. When this happens, we can use the opportunity to remind ourselves and our loved ones why we do what we do – These kids are always worth it! I suggest thinking through all the ways you’ve been blessed by foster care and maybe even writing them down. If you are concerned loved ones aren’t believers, this is an amazing opportunity to share your faith and the example of love that God has set for us.  If they are believers, then they know that following Christ is not about things being easy. Your reliance on Him could serve to strengthen the faith of others. 

These are just a few of the most common questions that foster parents hear. But there will be plenty more. Although these inquisitive people can sometimes test our patience, remember that God has placed them in our paths for a reason. So, before you speak, ask God to direct your words and allow Him to use you. Let your light shine for His glory!   

by Leesa Del Rio