Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A referral is gone....

Your friends/family are adopting, and you have been actively engaged in their process. Everyone is excited...clothes are purchased, a room is ready, fundraising is ongoing, prayers are said daily...and then, the unthinkable happens.

The referral is gone....the birth parents want the child back, the child was mistakenly not eligible for adoption, there was a mixup in the paperwork, or even worse, the child dies. The adoptive parents are heartbroken, and you have no idea what to do....

We've seen many parents go through this tragedy, and it is a grieving process for everyone involved. So, let the grieving begin. Know that the parents may react differently depending on how they handle grief. You want to console, comfort and encourage...but how? Here are some practical ideas for walking with adoptive parents through the process:

  • First and foremost, seek God's wisdom in how to respond. He alone knows our hearts and the brokenness felt at this very moment. Seek His divine comfort and the knowledge that He can give you.
  • Send flowers. It's not a funeral but parents have lost their child....even if they never held him/her. The grief is just as painful and real.
  • Send a note or email of comfort. Make sure you don't give reasons for the loss but seek to acknowledge the pain and hurt of the situation. Assure them that you are there to walk with them through the journey.
  • Serve....perhaps clean their house, run errands, call others who need to know, take care of their other children (if applicable)....
  • Give....take their favorite meal or snack...do what they love best.
  • Listen and be physically present....while nothing you can say can take the pain away, sometimes the physical presence of another is comforting. Not all people like this but in some cases, it can be an act of pure love.
  • Call....maybe the mom or dad doesn't even want to talk about the loss at first. But, there will come a time when they need someone to talk to! Be that person...make yourself available...don't put people on a time schedule. Grief is different for each person...be open to a different plan!
  • Acknowledge - whatever you do, acknowledge the pain involved and the hurt that it has caused. Encourage your friend to grieve and be there to listen (without fixing anything) and comfort!
You can be a vital part of the grieving process for adoptive parents. Adoption is always a heart-risking process that can be painful and terrifying. Know that your friends/family need you to walk the entire journey with them and not just the good parts!

*As a side note, some of you have asked if we still have a referral. Yes, by the grace of God, we do. We hope to go get our son in Uganda soon!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Helping Friends in the Adoption Process - Part II

So, the family is coming home in a few days with their newly adopted child(ren), and you want to help in any way possible. What do you do to help them in ways that are effective, appropriate and needed? Here's a few suggestions:

  • Find out what size the new child is and leave an outfit for them! We had friends that went to pick up twin boys once. They realized that the children were smaller than they thought. So, several of us headed over to their house and set up the closet....we sorted all the clothes, made sure they were age/gender appropriate and organized it all.
  • Fill their refrigerator! We had sweet friends who went grocery shopping and did just that when we came home from Guatemala. They bought bottled water (knowing our tummies wouldn't be used to this water after being gone), fresh fruit, milk, eggs, etc. so that we wouldn't have to spend any time in the grocery store for the first week! That was a HUGE blessing!
  • Clean their house! Adopted children are generally used to some kind of order (a schedule, a routine), so having the house in order is big! We had friends come over and take down all of our Christmas decorations because it would be too overwhelming for our son..that was such a great way to help! Gather a few friends and make sure their home is ready for their arrival!
  • Take them a meal! We love the www.takethemameal.com for making sure that one person coordinates all the food. The coordinator can give specific instructions on allergies, aversions, directions, etc. for people to follow. Plus, they can even have a drop-off point if no visitors are allowed for a while!
  • Meet them at the airport! While a crowd can be overwhelming for a new child, the parents often appreciate the show of support. Be sure to follow the parents' lead on talking to/engaging the child!
  • Respect the boundaries. Every adoptive family will have boundaries that they need to set so that they can bond with their own child. This may involve not picking up the child or asking for affection. It may require no visits for several months. It may not always make sense or seem reasonable to family and friends. But, that family will know details that you may not...respect the boundaries set forth and encourage others to do the same.
  • Encourage! When a family comes home, they need your encouragement. It may be a card, a phone call or an email...let them know that you are thinking of them and praying for them!
  • Offer to take their other children so that the parents can have time alone with their new child. It may only be an hour or two, but this is such a gift for a parent. Quality alone time is essential to the bonding process and you can encourage it by helping with childcare!
The biggest help you can be to a newly adoptive family is to let them know that you care and are thinking of them. They may have to retreat for a little while and cocoon as a family. Reach out to them and let them know that they are not alone! This process is just beginning.....

Jett in a costume that someone handed down to him...he adored being a superhero!
A shower that our friends gave us about a month after we came home!
A bag that my sweet sister-in-law gave me to carry Jett's "airplane attention" stuff in! He loved seeing his name in writing!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Helping friends in the adoption process...Phase I

As I look at the photos below, I remember back to a time over 4 years ago when Jim and Donna Houston gave us a picture of a little boy in an orphanage in Guatemala. I see the pain in his eyes of not having a family...I see the longing. I see the rebellious sinful nature in my own heart of ignoring the orphans for far too long....

Many times during the adoption process, friends and families are unsure how involved to be or what to do to help. So, in light of our God-given command to care for the orphans, how can you help someone who is adopting? The answer to this comes in several parts depending on the situation...the process of adoption, bringing a child home, losing a child or a child's referral in the process, and after the adoption. So, this post will address the first part of that...the process of adoption itself and how you can be a vital part!

You have friends who are adopting and you just don't know what to say sometimes or what to do to help... At times you find yourself helpless, wordless and without much to offer. But, you CAN help! Here are some ideas to help families in the adoption process:

  • Pray! First and foremost pray for the family. Pray specifically for God's peace and timing. Let them know that you are praying for them through notes and emails on a regular basis!
  • Inquire! Don't be afraid to ask for updates..they may not have any...but it's always comforting to know that your friends care!
  • Help your friends raise funds...most families have to raise quite a chunk of funds to adopt. Share their blog, host a yard sale, buy a t-shirt...actively help them to find ways to finance their endeavor. We had friends host a yard sale and people we had never met stepped up to donate goods. We held it at a friend's yard-sale-friendly-location and raised over $4000!
  • Encourage your friends weekly (if not daily). Simple reminders that you are thinking of them and support their adoption are so important. You don't have to know the emotions they are facing to encourage them. Send Scriptures and encouraging words that benefit!
  • Ask questions! Find out about the adoption process and what all it takes to bring a child home. Be diligent in your research and know what they are facing. Be informed and educate yourself with the terminology - know what they are talking about when they say dossier, referral, abandonment...
  • If they have other children, offer to keep them for a day so that the adoptive family can run those much needed errands which often are not family friendly - for example, courthouse offices, medical exams, state representatives' meetings! I had a friend who offered this regularly...what a huge blessing.
  • Your ear...this is one of the most helpful things you can give your friends...a listening ear. Just hear their hearts...the joys, the venting, the pain, the struggle...offer no opinion or insight...just listen and encourage!
  • Through the wonder of Facebook I thought of another one...get the names and contact information of the family's social worker, adoption agency (if using one), attorney....send a note to him/her with thanks for their time, energy and help in the process. They are so important to the adoption journey! On our adoption venture with Jett, we were blessed to work with Herbie Newell (Lifeline), Jenn Knierim, and Lauren who made his homecoming a reality!
Next time, we'll discuss what to do while the family is away for the adoption process and what to do when they come home! You can be an integral part of James 1:27 by helping other families bring their children into forever families!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Out of sight, out of mind???

Just this week God has shown me the "other side" of "out of sight, out of mind." You see I've been on the receiving end of this adage...and it hurt. It hurt greatly. Our family felt isolated, lonely, unwanted and unnecessary.

But God reminded me this week that I've been on the other side of that when it comes to some friends of ours who have moved away. How much effort have I made in keeping that relationship a vital one? How intentional has my heart been on seeking after them? Wow...conviction! Thank you God for the Holy Spirit who reminds us of the rebellion in our hearts. He shows us our own wickedness and His grace in forgiving us! Praise Him!

So, what can you and I do to help relieve these feelings?

  • Set up a time to regularly communicate with your friends! Skype is awesome because you get to see each other.
  • Send care packages! Make sure you send some of their favorite things...especially if they can no longer get these things where they are!
  • Send emails letting them know you are praying for them and what you are specifically praying for!
  • Place an unexpected call...when you haven't talked in a while, it's so refreshing to hear a friend's voice!
  • Send pictures from your phone when you miss them. Drive by a place they like and take a picture...say "I was thinking of you when I passed this store...remember the time we went here and ...."
  • STAY IN TOUCH! Quick notes, calls and emails will help friends feel close. But, spend some quality time talking every so often too!
To be a part of Biblical community, we must make efforts that are not generally convenient or easy. But, God has designed to be here for one another. So, let's (and I'm especially talking to myself) make those extra efforts to be the Body of Christ to one another!

Friday, November 5, 2010

What to do, what to do....

For ten years now, we have grown accustomed to JT leaving for a week (or more) at a time each month. In the summer, we typically all travel with him to enjoy our time together as a family. When possible we all go on the mission trips. However, as the children have gotten older and have commitments, we are not able to go as much. Plus, the financial side of trips is greater with 5 of us on a trip. So, we have to make hard choices.

This week, we've made one of those choices. JT will lead the trip to Guatemala alone. So, what do we do? For most people it's probably not a big deal. It's not that way for us... You see, JT works at home most of the time. So, we are all together almost every day. We eat every meal together. We work together. We enjoy our time as a family, and we relish it! We all really like each other, and we thrive on being together as a family.

So, when JT is gone, we are fairly lonely and pitiful. But, we are called to support and encourage him while he is leading a trip. So, we make a plan and try to pass the time as quickly as possible. We will, of course, have school each day. That helps greatly. We will have guitar lessons and Skype with friends from around the globe (Guatemala and Australia are due this week). We will write letters, play games and see friends.

We will pray for Poppa daily. We will miss him...we are so proud of him and the way he leads our family. Thank you Lord for a godly husband who seeks to honor you in all that he does.

Monday, November 1, 2010

She loves me....

We have very good friends who have 5 adorable children. Jett LOVES to play with their boys...it often involves swords, sticks and a ball of some sort. I don't understand one thing they do together, but they seem to have a "male bond" that is beyond comprehension.

Their youngest daughter, W, is a sweet and loving little girl. Since the day we met her, she has cuddled up to JT. She adores him. She will find him in a room and climb into his lap. Now, most young children are scared of him...his size, the bald head and the facial hair send them screaming to the nearest parent. But not W...she loves JT.

Last night, JT is cooking in the kitchen, and W is dressed like a chef by one of our children. Now, she looks like JT... He's cooking so she resorts to sitting in my lap. It didn't last long, but it was sufficient for me. She loves me too, and I have proof. Thanks LL for giving me some hope with W.....