Joe and Teri Beattie receive Bright Lights Award

The Board of Directors of Nightlight Christian Adoptions established the “Bright Lights Award” which is given in recognition of a commitment to adoption which inspires others to adopt, advocates for adoption, or makes a great sacrifice in adoption. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

The fifth recipient of the Bright Lights award is Joe and Teri Beattie

In the midst of Nightlight’s most difficult financial year ever, Joe and Teri gave sacrificially to ensure the agency finished 2021 “in the black.”  Their generosity enabled us to continue funding the Renewed Hope program, which helps adoptive families from any agency find assistance in the midst of crisis.

 

 

How to Honor Your Child’s Birth Mother on Mother’s Day

 

Mother’s Day is a very complicated and emotionally loaded time for many women. There are those that long for children but for many different reasons find themselves childless. There are those that mourn the early death of their child whether prenatally or after birth. There are also those who mourn for mothers they have lost, and then there is your child’s birth mother. Mother’s Day is often times a bittersweet reminder for birth mothers of the children they are not parenting. This season reminds them of the grief and loss they have had to endure since placing for adoption and often times birth mothers are overlooked on Mother’s Day.

As an adoptive parent, you have the responsibility to include and/or commemorate your child’s birth mother on or around Mother’s Day. Whether you want to admit it or not, your adopted child has two moms and both are worthy to be celebrated. Your child is also very likely thinking about their birth mother around this time regardless of whether you choose to celebrate her or not. How you handle moments like Mother’s Day will impact your child’s comfort level and felt safety in being able to process their complicated emotions around their adoption story. No matter what your child’s adoption story looked like, a birth mother’s decision to place for adoption is rooted in the most selfless motivation a parent can ever make. She chose life and she chose a life with you all as her child’s parents. That alone is worthy to be celebrated!

Here are some creative ways your family can include your child’s birth mother on Birth Mother’s Day:

  • Celebrate her on Birth Mother’s Day (May 7th)!
  • Ask her! Check with her and see if there are any ways she would enjoy being celebrated.
  • Schedule a visit with her around Mother’s Day.
  • You and your adopted child can go pick out a gift to send to her.
  • Have flowers delivered to her.
  • Have your adopted child write a card/color a photo for her.

If contact with your adopted child’s birth mother is not a reality, there are still so many ways that you can creatively celebrate her. This also allows your child a natural and healthy time to process and talk through their adoption story—an opportunity that is not as often granted to them as naturally as children who have open relationships with their birth parents. Here are a few ways you can do this:

  • If you have created an adoption story Lifebook, pull it out and talk through it with your child.
  • If you received any personal information about your child’s birth mother, go do something on that day that she enjoyed doing!
  • Purchase a plant or flower bush to plant at your home together with your child to honor her.

Regardless of what your relationship with your adopted child’s birth mother looks like, it is important your child knows she is worthy to be celebrated and their adoption story is rooted in love and selflessness. These simple gestures and acts will mean more to your child and their birth mother than you will ever know.

By: Katy Clasquin

2022 National Infertility Awareness Week

 

One out of 8 families are or will face infertility. Infertility is a disease—it does not discriminate between gender, ethnicity, or age. Wherever you are in your journey, navigating through infertility can feel very lonely and isolating. Whether you find yourself wanting to do more research on infertility or wanting a place to connect with others going through similar situations, there are a number of resources available!

  • reproductivefacts.org: This website is run by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. There is a plethora of information including webinars, blogs, news, and research. They also have their own podcast, ASRM Today.
  • RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association runs the RESOLVE website. They have financial resources, educational information, and community support.
  • NIH: The National Institutes of Health has a lot of nitty gritty information on infertility. If you are interested in reading studies and research, this is the website for you!
  • Embryo Adoption Awareness Center: This website has numerous videos, webinars, and blogs on a variety of topics concerning embryo donation or adoption. Check it out!

Receiving a diagnosis of infertility can be really daunting and scary. You don’t have to journey alone. Starting with these resources can give you guidance and is a great place to start!

Many families discover embryo adoption as they are researching different methods of family building in the midst of infertility. To learn more, visit our website or call our Colorado office at 970-578-9700.

 

By: Nicole Longinow

Unique Fundraising Ideas for your Adoption

 

Don’t let money be the reason you give up on your adoption dreams! There are endless ways to approach raising the money needed to pursue your adoption of choice. This post contains just a few of the ways you can begin (or continue) your fundraising journey.

 

Adoption T-Shirt Fundraiser

Design a T-Shirt that represents a piece of your adoption journey. If you are pursuing international adoption from Colombia, maybe include a map of Colombia with an arrow pointing to your home state. If you are pursuing a Snowflakes Embryo Adoption, include cute snowflake pictures. The ideas are endless! Sell your T-Shirts to family and friends for $30. All proceeds go towards funding your adoption.

 

GotSneakers?

This is a unique organization that helps families fund their adoptions through sneaker donations. Have friends, family, or even people you don’t know, donate their used sneakers. GotSneakers will buy them from you for $7 dollars a pair! Everyone has old sneakers laying around collecting dust. Collect them, give them a quick clean, and send them in. 150 pairs would raise $1,050!

 

Host a Benefit Concert
American Adoptions says, “Do you have any friends in a local band? Are you in a local band? Could you be in a local band? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you can throw a benefit concert for your adoption. Charge admission, or pass a basket and ask for donations during the show.” This is a great way to connect with people and share your story. You can even share about your journey towards adoption at the beginning, end, or during intermission.

 

The thought of fundraising can be intimidating. You may be tempted to assume that NO ONE will want to help you with your adoption journey; that is certainly NOT true. Your friends and families may not feel called adopt, but you do! Helping you fundraise can be a great way for them to support adoption even though they may not be able to do it themselves. If fundraising still feels overwhelming, Nightlight offers our clients our Family Resource Specialist, Camie Schuiteman, who will counsel each family on fundraising, grants, and other ways to gather the adoption service fees for your adoption. Also check out our Funding Your Adoption page on our website.

How the Beauty of Easter Reflects Adoption

 

During this Spring season, we see flowers blooming and everything that was dead during the winter months sprouting to new life. For Christians, it is also the time of surrender and sacrifice through the reminder of Easter and the weeks and traditions leading up to it, such as Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and Palm Sunday. But what does this time have to do with adoption, and how can we think of adoption in the terms of the cross?

What does scripture say?

In John 3:3, Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Because of the cross, and Jesus sacrificing His life for our sins, we are able to be born again and are given a new life. In adoption, children are also able to begin a new life as a child in your family. Adoption is a picture of how brokenness on earth, and our humble beginnings, can be made beautiful and used for good.

We are reminded again in Psalm 37:18 of God’s provision and care; “Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent, and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever.” Through adoption, children receive an inheritance on earth. Through a relationship with Christ, we have all received an eternal inheritance and life with Jesus.

What does this mean to me?

With this in mind, Easter can be a time of celebration; a celebration of warmer weather, of Christ’s resurrection and of your child becoming a new part of your family, whether their adoption occurred weeks, months, or many years ago. One way to honor your child during this time is through pointing out the consistencies in their own stories with the story God wrote for us as believers in Jesus and his death on the cross.

For those of you who are still waiting for your adopted child, who are currently fostering, or maybe you are just about to begin the process, Easter is a beautiful reminder to all of us of our worth and the freedom we have in Jesus because of his resurrection. Because of Him, we are all accepted into a forever family in heaven. That alone is a reason to celebrate with a heart full of gratitude.

 

I want to end this with a section of a poem by Deborah Ann called Abba – My Father;

Abba my Father,

has adopted me . . .

into His royal family

so I could be . . .

 

An heir to salvation,

a daughter of light

a child that brings

to Him great delight.

 

I’m no longer an orphan,

I’m no longer a stray

I’ve inherited a room

in His mansion I’ll stay.

 

Abba my Father,

has adopted me . . .

into His royal family

so I can be free . . .

 

Free from the guilt,

of my wandering ways

free from the darkness

that once filled my days.

 

The adoption became final,

that day on the Cross

when Jesus died for me

and all those who are lost.

 

Abba my Father,

has adopted me . . .

into His royal family

so I might see . . .

 

See His glory,

in the middle of my pain

see His grace fall

like sweet drops of rain.

 

The inheritance is mine,

I’m claiming my right

and now I have privilege

to His power and might.

 

Abba my Father,

has adopted me . . .

into His royal family,

I willingly flee . . .

 

Reference

Ann, Deborah. “ABBA My Father.” CHRISTian Poetry, 31 May 2013, https://poetrybydeborahann.wordpress.com/2013/05/31/abba-my-father/.

 

By: Paige Burch

The Journey of Adoption: An Adoptee’s Perspective

 

When talking about adoption I often hear it referred to as a journey. When I think about a journey I think about something that is ongoing with no definitive end. One of the definitions for the word journey is “passage or progress from one stage to another.” I think it is that definition of the word journey that best describes the journey of adoption. You see, adoption is not a one-time thing. It is not just the event that happens on the day that your child is placed with you. It is an ongoing journey that morphs and changes with time.

I was brought home from the hospital at just a few days old. Having been adopted in the 80’s there was little information provided regarding my birth family. I know their ages and that is about it. My parents have always been open and honest about the fact that I was adopted and have always been supportive of me searching for my birth family or not. To be quite honest, I was never the kid who asked a lot of questions about my adoption; it never bothered me. I have always been secure in who I am and who my parents are and never really struggled with the fact that I was adopted.

In graduate school I decided it might be interesting to search for my birth family so I made some initial inquiries and found out in Pennsylvania it was not an easy process, for my type of adoption, to initiate a search. I let it go at the time and moved on. Then in 2016, I was ready and I wanted to know where I came from. Where did I get my green eyes, my nose, what was my ethnic heritage, did I have any similar traits to my birth mother? So I began with the attorney who facilitated my adoption. He claimed to have no recollection of the adoption. Next I went to the courts (still called orphan court in Pennsylvania) and was told they had no records based on the little information I had. As a final recourse I decided to try Ancestry DNA and, besides now knowing my ethnic heritage, I struck out again.

Now let’s talk about August 2020; 11:37 p.m. on Friday, August 7, 2020 to be exact. The night that a Facebook message popped up on my phone. In that moment I read that a woman had an Ancestry DNA match that listed me as a “close relative” and she had been searching for her sister for years who had been adopted and could I possibly be that person. The answer, YES.

As I began talking with my sister, birth mother, two other sisters, and brother (yes there are 4 siblings) life got real. You learn things that are both exciting and hard. You learn that your birth father wanted you to be aborted. You learn that your birth mother stood up to her own family in order to carry you to term. You learn that your birth mother, on the day you turned 18, contacted the aforementioned attorney to give them her information in case I ever contacted him, which clearly he did not pass on to me when I did indeed contact him. It is realizing that my siblings grew up drastically different from me and experiencing feelings of guilt and relief that my life was different. Adoption is a journey. I am slowly getting to know the family that shares my blood. I love seeing what we have in common while also learning about our uniqueness.

This relationship continues to be a journey, something that is growing and changing over time. I remember when I first posted my story, when I was ready, on Facebook. A friend asked what would make me want to share this story publicly. An easy answer was that it was a quick way to let friends (beyond those I had told in person) what was going on in my life. The more in depth answer is that I feel that often the adoptee voice is forgotten and I wanted to share my journey, the good and bad; the joyous and the heartbreaking. I cannot speak for every adoptee out there. We each have our own unique story and journey. And while it is oftentimes beautiful no one can forget that each adoptee’s story began with loss and eventually that loss is going to emerge. I am not sure how the journey will continue but I can say that I am beyond blessed to be on it.

By: Rebekah Hall

Introducing: Adoptions from Anchored in Hope

Becoming a parent and raising children is a shared dream of many individuals and couples. Throughout history, adoption has been one way to realize that dream. Nightlight Christian Adoptions has provided many paths to reach that goal. Domestic infant, embryo and international adoption services have seen thousands of children find permanency in loving homes. Our foster care program offers a way to help children who have been removed from their biological families find temporary care, love and stability until a long-term plan can be established. Many of those placements end in adoption.

 

A new program has been created to help children in foster care find an adoptive family when the way home has been closed. These are children who do not have the option of returning to their biological family, but must find another couple to call Mom and Dad. This is no small task for the workers of child welfare agencies who are given the job of finding adoptive homes for these children, most of whom are the age of 8 years and up and sibling groups who want and should be together. We felt it was time to help.

 

Anchored In Hope is the program designed to bring adoptive families to a child or children whose most basic needs of love and the security of family remain unmet.  We are looking for families who desire to be that Anchor to a child whose heart and future needs Hope. The children are available now, and their biggest hope is for someone to be their family.

 

There is honestly some apprehension felt by many about adopting an older child—what kind of history have they been through?  What kinds of behaviors will I have to deal with?  What if the child does not attach?  What if…what if…These are questions that can at the least give us pause, and at most paralyze our willingness to make a decision to step out and open ourselves and our homes to a child.  Here are some facts to consider:

  • The need is great. There are about 400,000 children in foster care across the United States.
  • Approximately 117,000 children are legally eligible to be adopted and are waiting for permanent homes.
  • Children who need adoptive homes are on national websites such as AdoptUSKids and state websites. You can determine what your preferences are and look for potential matches.
  • There has been tremendous growth in research regarding the impact of abuse, neglect and trauma on children, and as a result, many new successful ways of addressing behaviors are evolving. Adoption competent therapy has been developed to help counselors recognize the important issues related specifically to adoption.
  • Nightlight will do your home study and become the liaison between you and the child welfare system who has responsibility for the child.
  • Nightlight provides pre-adoption education to families preparing to adopt an older child. We also have a Post Adoption Connection Center to assist families who need education, support, referrals or resources beyond the adoption finalization.
  • Monthly subsidies are available from the placing states for the continued care for children
  • Medicaid or the state equivalent is also available to help with the financial costs of caring for children. This can include counseling services.

 

The rewards? For families who are committed to helping a child find a new life, the possibilities are endless. Children of all ages, even teens-especially teens, need to be loved unconditionally, given steadfast security, helped through the healing and Anchored in Hope. Learn more at https://nightlight.org/afcc/.

 

Are you willing to be that family?  No one ever outgrows the need.

Your Ukraine Assistance is Making a Difference!

Nightlight has sent $12,500 directly to people we personally know, who are Ukrainian citizens or US workers located in Western Ukraine, helping those affected by war.  Your generous donations are providing food and medicine for children who have fled their war-torn cities.

Two families from Kharkiv than you for your support:

You may make a donation here and select the “Ukraine Refugee Fund” menu choice.  100% of the funds raised for this category will be sent directly to “boots on the ground” in Western Ukraine.    

Ambiguous Loss and Adopted Children

Ambiguous loss is a term that defines the heartache and grief that comes with losing a person or relationship that is surrounded by confusion or uncertainty about that person or relationship.  Finding closure is difficult with normal losses, such as death, but it is impossible with ambiguous loss when the loss is not officially recognized or final.

Think about children who are unable to grow up in their biological family.  In addition to being separated from their family of origin, they lose all that is familiar to them. They experience the absence of their birth family, but know they are still present in the world. The foster or adopted child, as well as the birth family, may think about and be curious about the other. They may dream about what it would be like to be together. Adoptive parents may also experience ambiguous loss because of pregnancies that ended in miscarriage or from the loss of their dream of having biological children.  This article will focus on children, specifically as they reach school age, and begin to realize their losses. This time may bring about feelings of hurt and grief the child may have never acknowledged in the past. These losses are not commonly addressed in society and few rituals exist to allow an adoptee to express their loss.

Recently, I was talking to my teenage son, who was adopted from a Central American country as a toddler.  I talked to him about how ecstatic I was to return to the U.S. to introduce him to our family and friends, who were very happy about his arrival into our family.  At the same time, I shed tears as we flew away from his country of birth, knowing he was leaving behind his foster family, his birth family, his siblings (both foster and biological), his country of birth, first language, culture, traditions, religion, racial connections, medical history, genealogy, favorite foods, smells, etc.  I said, “We showered you with gifts and joyfulness, no one has ever talked to you about all that you lost. When someone dies, we go to their funeral and take a casserole to their family, but we’ve never really done anything to help give closure to all that you have lost.”  Even if no one dies, there is still loss in these situations.

There are two types of ambiguous loss. Type 1 is when a person is physically absent but psychologically present, meaning that the birth parent continues to influence the child’s thoughts, emotions, behaviors, identity and family unity. Type 2 is when there is a psychological absence with a physical presence.  This can be due to a mental or physical illness or a substance abuse problem.  This sometimes leads to Type 1 when the child is removed from the parent due to neglect.

Ambiguous loss has some warning signs that can look different from the normal response to grief throughout life stages:

  • When an infant or toddler is grieving, it is normal to show some separation anxiety.  However, if your foster or adopted child in this age range shows behavioral regression, confusion, or night terrors, it could be attributed to ambiguous loss.
  • School age children typically have difficulty identifying and expressing their emotions related to grief so they experience physical complaints such as stomachaches or headaches and show increased irritability.  Warning signs include acting-out behaviors, a loss of interest in school, teachers seeing poor concentration, regression, night terrors or an obsession with retelling.
  • Normal reactions to loss in adolescents is very similar to adults. They frequently experience feelings of guilt and often look to peers for support.  If you see a change in their energy level, poor concentration, loss of interest in school or if they seem emotionally numb or start to withdraw, these are warning signs of grieving ambiguous losses.  Signs of depression and anxiety, an inability to cope, difficulty with change and transitions, difficulty making decisions, decreased ability to cope with routine childhood or teenage losses, and PTSD symptoms are common responses.  The child may display learned helplessness or hopelessness or have feelings of guilt.

Ambiguous loss is overwhelming and confusing because the outcomes are not clear and cannot be determined.  The foster child or adoptee has trouble pressing forward because the loss lacks resolution – it’s unknown if it is temporary or final.  They want transparency about their past but at the same time refrain from receiving new information.  Ambiguity can wear away a child’s sense of mastery causing them to feel hopeless and creating feelings that the world is biased, dangerous, unpredictable and unruly. The stress of ambiguity, or vagueness, can be eased by helping the child acquire information.

The effect of unresolved loss on children can be great.  The bigger the ambiguity surrounding the child’s life, the more challenge they will have in mastering it.  In other words, increased uncertainties make it difficult to deal with the loss and has potential to cause increased depression, anxiety and internal conflict.  They can feel a lack of control over their situation or feel that people outside their family have more power than their parents.  Anxiety and fear can have a great influence if they were “taken away” or removed from their home, family, or country of origin. The child sometimes feels that they are the reason for the separation from their parents and have lost their ability to trust adults.  We can help influence a child’s reactions by validating their grief, inviting them to express their feelings, sharing similar experiences of other children and accepting the child’s spectrum of feelings.

Here are some ways to help your child deal with ambiguous loss:

  • Give voice!  Explain the feelings of ambiguous loss and acknowledge the difficulty of living with not having the answers.
  • Help the child understand as much as possible – Knowing what happened to the birth parent who left and why, or knowing what situations caused the loss and why it happened are key in helping the child understand.  This will allow the child to grieve which involves experiencing the painful feelings associated with the loss.
  • Help the child identify what has been lost – parent, extended family, loss of home or town where they were born, family that looks like them, last name, birth country, language, etc.
  • Find a way to commemorate the loss – Honor, recognize and acknowledge the memory of the people, places and things that are no longer part of the child’s daily life.  This leads to moving forward and permits the child to learn that the pain of grief lessens and the legacy of their past lies within themselves.
  • Create a “loss box” – find a box that can be decorated, if desired, and allow you child to place things inside the box that represent things that they have lost.  This can serve as a ritual and a way to revisit the losses in the future.
  • Events through the lifetime (holidays, birthdays, adoption anniversary, etc) can trigger feelings of loss.  Acknowledge the child’s feelings and add a family ritual to recognize important people or relationships that have been lost.  Example: Adding an extra candle on the birthday cake to represent the child’s birth family; or say “I bet your mom and dad are thinking about you today”.
  • Do not allow new relationships to be a replacement for past relationships.  Acknowledge your child’s birth parents and their previous foster families.  Look for ways to recognize members of their birth family.  Share their story and talk about it from the time they arrive home and continue this over time.  We can free our children from the past by giving opportunities to process and grieve their past losses.
  • Give your child permission to grieve without guilt!
  • Model ways for them to communicate their thoughts and the questions they may have.
  • Support your child’s emotions as he copes with his grief – It is impossible for us to fix the loss but we can validate and affirm their feelings.
  • Don’t expect that grief associated with ambiguous loss can be resolved within a specific time frame.  Understand and explain that these feelings will come and go at different times in life.  Always provide a safe place for your child to express those feelings.
  • Get in touch with your own grief!
  • Seek support from a therapist who is an adoption-competent professional.

While I have heard the term “ambiguous loss” for several years working in adoption, I’ve become passionate about the topic after sharing the term and the theory with my son.  I honestly feel like it was a turning point in his life and our relationship.  He understands that I know he has questions to which we have no answers and that I am familiar with some of what he has lost.  He knows that not having answers makes figuring out who he is, as well as the grief process, more difficult.  I’m pretty sure he identifies me as his safe place when he needs to express his feelings.  I’ve told him if he wants to search for his birth family to try to get more answers, I’ll be his biggest supporter.  I have more work to do to help him through his grief and loss and I understand there will be triggers as he grows and matures.  Having an understanding of ambiguous loss and the ability to explain it to him was a big step in the right direction.  I encourage you to start talking to your kids as soon as they are placed in your home and keep talking, especially as they reach adolescence, when it becomes increasingly more difficult.

By: Dana Poynter