What a whirlwind weekend!!
We learned so much at our required meeting with our agency, and I just couldn’t WAIT to share it with you!
We headed up to stay the night with Trey’s parents on Thursday after work. (Arden would have been about a 6 or 7-hour drive from the coast, so we were thankful to split up the trip!) After a 5am wakeup time, some coffee to go, and another 2 hours to our destination, we finally arrived at the beautiful Arden Presbyterian Church on Friday morning… excited, a little anxious, and sleepy-eyed.
(How funny are we, still not knowing how to take a selfie on an iPhone! When will we learn??)
What was so cool about this meeting, right off the bat, was sitting a room with about eight other couples just like us, doing the same thing we are. They were all just “normal” people: one couple who have actually already adopted through Bethany before and are working on their second, and all but one couple (who are adopting internationally) in the domestic infant program like us.
The morning session consisted of getting to know the other couples and the staff, several DVD presentations (we were all crying… they were so powerful!!), and presentations from the staff on several different topics.
It would be really hard to type out everything we learned throughout our day. Among the things covered were…
amount of notice before placement; the major differences between closed, semi-open, and open adoptions; naming the baby; direct placement vs. interim care; how long the birthmom has to change her mind before placement is final; interstate adoptions; transracial adoptions; financing options/schedule; and we even found out that will we be matched with a mentor couple who have adopted through Bethany before!
We got many of our questions answered, and we have now have a much more clear idea of what the process from here will look like. Although many answers remain “it depends” (depending on the particular situation), we now at least know the range of possibilities for certain scenarios and what typically happens in other respects. (For all the questions you may have asked me that I responded with a “I’m not quite sure about that,” or “I really don’t know, but I think…” – I can probably speak to a lot more of them now, so ask away!!)
Before it all became “information/emotional overload” (well… maybe close, but not quite!), we got a break for lunch.
Lucky for us, we have family in town who love us so much to pick up some Chick Fil A, pick us up from the church, and spend time with us at a beautiful park around the corner during the middle of their day. :) It was absolutely perfect!!!
It was so nice to be with family during that time, to feel their support, and to catch up with these loved ones of ours who live so far away. (“Are those clouds, or is that a mountain?!?!” “Emily, that’s a mountain.”)
Back at the church, with a few minutes to spare before the afternoon session, Trey grabbed me to show me Missions board he had found on our separate ways to the bathroom. Along with local missions and short-term missions, this small-town Presbyterian church has an incredible amount of career missionaries they have sent to the field. It was truly impressive to see how many people they have sent out, and what an amazing church this must be to have such a heart and priority for serving the world. I include this only because, for me, it felt like such a powerful reminder of God’s faithfulness in the lives of these people who, by trust and obedience, had followed His call in their lives, and the fact that while great things are happening, there are still greater things to be done. God is working all around the world… in so many lives, in so many ways… and yet He was with us in our small little meeting as well, in this specific part of His call in our own lives…
A major part of the afternoon session was a panel discussion, consisting of families who have adopted (both domestic and international) and one a birthmom. They all shared their stories and received questions. It was incredible to see and hear these amazing individuals. (After months of the paperwork, it’s easy to get lost in that side of things and wonder if what you’re doing is really real??) One in particular was a couple who adopted their son four years ago. His birthmom had been in college — a swimmer who was very athletic and tiny. So much, in fact, that she did not actually know she was pregnant until about 31 or 32 weeks. She literally went in to have an abortion and was told it was too late… This couple now has a beautiful little boy.
Beyond all the information we received, many misconceptions were dispelled as well. As we were told (maybe even commanded), “Stop watching Lifetime TV!” Movies, media, TV, etc. simply do not portray real life when it comes to adoption. Either you see a couple who choose to adopt and receive a baby practically the next day, or you have the nightmare situation of a birthmom banging on your door to take your child back in the middle of the night. Neither are reality.
Open adoptions were discussed in depth, and the fears and “myths” were dispelled about that as well. Major mind-openings happening. What we found to be reiterated in our meeting all across the board — from the staff, adoptive parents, and even the birthmom on the panel — is that birthmothers don’t want to “do your job” or “co-parent” with you, even in an open adoption. The truth is, there is no “typical” birthmother (there are a variety of ages, situations, and reasons why a woman might choose to make an adoption plan for her baby). They are not the “scary” people they are made out to be. And, regardless of circumstance, each one of them have made an unbelievably courageous choice.
The birthmom we had the privilege to meet was a bright, well-spoken, college-educated young girl who made an adoption plan for her son three years ago when she became pregnant — a selfless choice that not only included giving him life but giving him a life that she believed would be better than what she was ready or capable to give him herself. It wasn’t giving him away or giving up on him — it was loving him enough to make that choice. Hers is an open adoption, and she shared with us that she simply wants her son to know that he is loved. She doesn’t want there to be any confusion or big mystery in his life when it comes to her, or her place in his life. (If you are wondering, his adoptive parents are “Mom and Dad.”) She shared her blog with us where she writes to her son, called Letters to Little Man.
One of our main takeaways that we did not expect is feeling more confident and affirmed than ever in the agency we have chosen. We were so impressed with the staff we met, from start to finish (including our adoption specialist that we’ve been communicating with but had yet to meet!). It was so clear that this is not “just a job” for them. They are all extremely caring, passionate, competent, and very knowledgable people, who were, at the same time, easy to talk to and great communicators.
It is also very obvious that Bethany operates as a ministry. It’s not just about them making a match; they take advantage of the opportunities they have to minister not only to adoptive couples, but to the birthmoms that they support, counsel, and pray with and for all along the way (who may or may not be Christians). They made it very clear that they are a child-centered agency. A statement was made that “We are not looking to find children for families…” (As one of their adoptive couples, you take a huge gulp at this point.) “…we are looking to find families for children.” In the end, it’s what I appreciate about them absolutely most of all. It is exactly that perspective that makes me so reassured about our agency.
We left the meeting in time to get dinner with Trey’s parents back in Monroe before staying another night, and say good-bye to Trey’s dad who was heading to Guatemala the following morning on a mission trip. His church (where he is currently the pastor) is the reason our church became involved with the organization we send teams to in Guatemala. The crazy thing is that, on Sunday, my father-in-law will baptize the adopted baby girl of an American missionary and friend of ours who lives in Guatemala and brought her baby back to live with her there — through Bethany. It’s a big small world.
Today we made the trip home, heads full of information to process, seat full of materials from the meeting… and even “prizes” for being the couple who drove the farthest distance — ha!
Wouldn’t you know, we hit some major traffic coming home. Living in a tourist destination, that’s pretty much what you can expect if you’re driving in from out of town on a Saturday in July… evvvverybody is coming to the beach!!!
But, if you can imagine, we had plenty to talk about on our car rides this weekend. For one, we have several upcoming decisions to make regarding specifics in our own adoption… Big decisions that will require a lot of thought and prayer. Besides those decisions, we also found out there is a follow-up meeting we need to attend — and that all three options for dates are while I’ll be in Asia (for most of the month of August). If we can’t get worked in somehow, we might get pushed back to the fall…
For any of this process to get pushed back to the fall at this point is certainly disheartening… to say the least. All we have left to do right now is a few final pieces of the paperwork, our interviews, a home visit here in Wilmington, and to create our profile book. Once we have a complete file, and our home study is approved, we will officially be a “waiting family.” But of course, as with all the steps in this journey, each step is a step of faith… and a true confirmation of our trust in God’s will and timing.
Thanks for praying for us and for joining us in this journey! I have to admit, sitting here tonight, it feels more real and somehow closer after these past couple days — even though I know there is a ways to go and a lot to appreciate in the moment we’re in. As they said in the meeting, to make sense of the past and to look realistically at the future is to be fully present. All in all, I feel encouraged. Definitely a little overwhelmed with all there is to process, but writing helps a lot, and when I look to the future I am so excited. We feel more informed and educated on the process and all that’s involved, and very supported. Win-win!
Out of all the stories we heard and things we are learning, I’m just reminded that God is the Great Redeemer. He “is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost” (Matthew 18:14). And mostly of His, the Father’s, heart for all of us… His “waiting children.”