Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Confronting the Stereotypes

We have been abundantly blessed by an amazing community of people since we first made our plans to adopt public last September. We have felt supported, prayed for, and loved through every step of this journey thus far. People lovingly ask quite frequently how things are going and if we have any updates that we would like to share. We are always honored to share how God has been carefully guiding our adoption process with others...within special guidelines.

I will say, however, that lately I have been shocked... mmm, maybe appalled is a better word... at the questions we've been asked.  Although questions are incredibly good natured (most of the time), the stereotypes that live around adoption and present themselves in the form of questions gets my blood pumping so fast. I've quickly come to learn, especially since our visit to Florida, that ignorance is incredibly alive and well in adoption stereotypes.

Let me just address some stereotypes. However, I'll address them in the form of questions that we have actually been asked more recently:

"Is the birth mom young?"

There is large myth among those that aren't educated in adoption that a birth parent is a single, young mom. Let me stress the fact that this is myth. Birth mothers aren't always young, clueless druggies living on the street. In fact, it's quite the opposite! Birth families (yes, it's also a myth that it's always a single mother. Birth fathers are often in the picture as well) can range in age and reasoning behind making an adoption plan. To assume that birth mom is young is hurtful.

This question is usually the first thing people I'm asked in regards to our open adoption. And, no matter how good intentioned your questions are, if I'm being completely honest, this question in particular immediately turns me off to the conversation. Quite frankly, the age of our birth mother is no one's business but ours and it has nothing to do with how our adoption is going. This is just not an appropriate question to ask.

"Why does she want to give up the baby?"

I don't like these words: "give up the baby" because their so far from the truth of what a birth family is actually choosing to do. Using the words "give up the baby" insinuates that a family wants nothing to do with the child and feels no emotional attachment to this decision.

Correct language in this case would be "make or choose an adoption plan." When a birth families chooses adoption, they are choosing a selfless act that offers the child something for a lifetime that they would not otherwise be able to provide, whether that's financial stability, time, two parents, etc. These decisions are not without emotion and struggle. As any social worker would tell you: Many times, when a birth family shows up on an agency's door step, the family has reached their last resort and has exhausted every other option. The emotions of this decision are weighty and should never be minimized to simply 'giving up a baby.'

"Will the baby be normal?"

Oh my gosh I about died when my husband told me that he had been asked this question. In answering, my husband assumed the person was asking if the baby would be healthy (i.e. no drugs, alcohol, etc). I almost wish that's what was being asked... Instead they were asking if the baby would be a caucasian baby... Yes, I'll let that sink in for a moment. Doesn't that just make you want to scream? As if only caucasian babies are 'normal.' Ugh...

There's also an awful stereotype that only minorities make an adoption plan for a child. Once again, not true. In fact, according to a report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, caucasian children are the highest percentage (37%) of children to be adopted in the United States. And 50% of domestic adoptions, are of caucasian children. That kinda squashes that stereotype, huh?

All this leads me to my final question. If this question doesn't make your jaw drop to the ground...

"So was she just some girl who got drunk at a party or something?"

Hearing this question gives me a wide range of emotions... it's safe to say that my mama bear instincts kicked in in full force. Let me begin by asking, what even gives someone the right to ask that question? How, in any universe, did you think that that would be okay to ask? Did you even think through those words when they came out of your mouth? Whew... Okay, I'm calming down now.

I think the stereotype addressed in this question is pretty obvious: birth moms are not drunk teenagers who can't control their hormones and make stupid decisions. Birth families come to adoption for many varying reasons. Some come because they know that they cannot financially provide the means to raise this child as they believe the child deserves. Others choose adoption because they want to give their child opportunities that they would otherwise not be able to offer. Still others come because they just know that this is the right choice for their family, no matter how painful the process will be. Birth moms do not get pregnant void of inhibition, carry a child for nine months, and then terminate their rights without carefully thinking that decision through and, likely second guessing the decision several times. Adoption is anything but a simple process for both the adoptive families and the birth families. Assuming that an adoption plan is a result of one night of fun is ignorant. Voicing that thought in regards to our situation is ... well it's just plain rude.

I write this post, not because I am angry (although obviously some of these questions get me a little fired up), but because I promised to educate others about adoption through my blog. The only reason that I no longer carry the stereotypes about adoption that I used to is because our adoption process has allowed us to go through extensive training about the realities of adoption versus the stereotypes. Therefore, I realize my vision in this is a little skewed.  So I typed this post up because I wanted to educate others as well.

Finally, I realize that this post may be offensive to some people and I truly am sorry for that. But I refuse to let others walk in ignorance regarding this topic. Because ignorance is not bliss when you're voicing those stereotypes in questions to families that are actually experiencing the reality.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


Two weeks ago, Jarrod and I traveled to Florida to spend the weekend with the birth family our sweet daughter. I’ve tried so many times to type up a post to share details of our visit. Yet, every time I delete the post. It’s not that I don’t want to share. Yet my heart is still processing and taking in all that we experienced during our visit. I can tell you that visit went incredibly well and we came home feeling very blessed and even more excited for August to just get here!

Due to the processing that still needs to take place before I can share more about our visit, I feel like my heart is leading to share something different.

If you read any posts of mine prior to our visit, you know that I was struggling to not let fear take hold of me in the waiting of this process. Knowing that we were traveling to meet the birth family our daughter for the first time in person, I was pretty much a nervous wreck. I would shake whenever someone would ask me about it and my stomach would almost instantly feel sick. 

The fear had, without a doubt, taken hold.

As we boarded the two-hour flight to Florida, I was beginning to feel the weight of where we were going and what this visit entailed. When the captain finally cleared the use of electronic devices, I popped in my headphones anxious to listen to something to distract for me a little bit. I turned on a new CD by Bethel Music that I had downloaded before leaving. It was called, “You Make Me Brave.”

The title couldn’t have been any more fitting.

I shut my eyes and leaned my head back.

The Holy Spirit took hold of that situation immediately and used it to teach my heart. Before I knew it I was swaying to the music, holding back tears and worshipping in the truth that these songs were speaking into my fear. The lyrics were filled with the promise that we are not alone in this journey and that God leads us through each and every circumstance.

As each song began and as each song finished on the recording, my fear diminished.

The Lord couldn’t have used a more perfect setting to teach me that He makes me brave no matter what road I am walking down. In Him, I have no room to be afraid because His “perfect love drives out fear” (1 Peter 4:18).

I had to step back and ask myself, “What’s the worst that could happen in this?” The answer sucked: the birth family could change their mind. And it was as if the Holy Spirit responded, “And? So what? I’m still with you through that.” Mmmm... Hard to hear. But so very true.

No matter the ending, our circumstances don’t change God’s sovereignty.

When we rely on Him, He provides a means to get through. He provides the ‘brave’ to walk down the difficult roads without doubt or fear of what may happen.

There was no need to be afraid because, in the circumstances that create fear in me, God is creating something beautiful behind the scenes. And for that reason, I can choose to be brave in His power without any fear.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Watered-Down Coffee Doesn't Cut It

I'm a coffee drinker through and through. Especially on chilly, dreary days and it has been nothing but that here for the past week. Rain, rain and more rain.

The weather hasn't helped my productivity or energy level any. I have been dddrrraaagggiiinnnggg.

Add all this into to the struggles I've been facing in the fears of our adoption right now and it's been a difficult week.

Today I was blessed to spend my lunch hour with a dear woman whom has blessed Jarrod and I greatly in our adoption process by allowing us to use their condo in Florida both when we travel down next weekend and in August to be at our daughter's birth. On my way home, I decided very 'spur-of-the-moment' that I would swing to McDonald's and grab an iced latte, in hopes that it'd grant me an extra boost of energy for the afternoon. I went through the drive through, got my latte and drove away anxious for my first sip...

But when I tasted it I was in for quite the disappointment. It was incredibly watered-down and way too sweet. I tried to convince myself that it wasn't that bad and I tried to drink it like there was nothing wrong.

It was about half way through the cup that I realized that watered-down coffee doesn't cut it. And almost immediately I was reminded of what I feel that the Lord has been teaching me all week: a watered-down "only trust Him in the good times" faith doesn't cut it either.

As I shared this past weekend, the fear of our adoption has set in hard the past few days. I've been overly emotional and sensitive about it and really struggling through the 'what-ifs.'

I've had to continually remind myself this week that God is my refuge and my strength, my ever present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1). I've needed to take moments away to remind myself where my strength is found and where I can find refuge among the storms of life.

Yesterday, I came shared this idea of resting in God's peace with someone else who is struggling and I couldn't help but be reminded of Psalm 94:1, which says, "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart."

I've had to ask myself what good God's refuge is if I only utilize it during the good times. It's not really a refuge then, is it?

In the same way that watered-down coffee isn't actual coffee in that it doesn't serve the purpose that it was meant to serve, watered-down faith isn't actually faith if my reliance on God doesn't require me to practice the use of any. Does this make sense?

In my world, it all comes down to this: I am jipping myself by making myself 'like' watered-down nasty coffee. I'm also jipping myself if I think a watered-down faith is going to get me anywhere. When it really comes right down to it, where does my faith lie both in the good times and bad times? What will I rely on and turn to in moments of struggle?

Just the thoughts I'm wrestling through today.

(And just in case you needed a visual reminder, like I did, that there's a refuge both in the good times and the bad, head over to MANDA JULAINE DESIGNS to download some 'Under His Wings' Printable FREEBIES)