I Resolve to Lay My Isaac Down

This might be one of the most beautiful things I’ve read… This is the blog of a birthmother who has so graciously narrated her adoption journey. This is a post you will no doubt be touched by in a deep way.

Pregnancy/Adoption: My Unexpected Adventure

In four days, my entire life is going to change drastically. My C-section is scheduled for the morning of July 2nd. After months of counting down the days and wishing Little Man would hurry up and be born already, I suddenly realized about a week ago how absolutely terrified I was for his birthday to arrive. I have a tendency to stuff my emotions and mentally block them out; this is a talent that has served me well in the past, but also a reaction I knew would not be helpful for this situation. My caseworker from the adoption agency told me early on to start the grieving process as soon as possible, and I determined to do so. I am glad now that I listened to her, because if I had gotten this far in the pregnancy without confronting my emotions concerning LM, I would be in dire straits.

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what no one tells you about adoption

We couldn’t have said it better!

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When you decide to open your home, your family, your life, and your heart to a child…

No one tells you it will be easy.

No one tells you how it will affect your family.

No one tells you this because they cannot possibly know.

No one knows how this kiddo will fit into your family.

Will he get along with the cousins?

Will he have “VanDalen” tendencies even though he is not one biologically?

Will he play with your ear as he falls asleep on your chest?

Will there come a time when he tells you he hates you?

Will he say, “I WISH YOU NEVER ADOPTED ME!” as he slams his bedroom door in rage?

Will others look at you with disgust in the grocery store or the restaurant because he is having his twelfth meltdown of the day?

Will he ever truly appreciate the fact that he is a part…

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Latvia Adoption: A Double Blessing

Nervous at the thought of adopting older children? read this heartwarming story!

We felt God calling us to host this sweet sibling pair from Latvia during the Christmas of 2014.  There was some hesitancy as we thought that older orphans had so much baggage, which we weren’t sure we could handle.  Nonetheless, we stepped out in faith and answered God’s call and invited them into our home and our hearts.  We weren’t necessarily thinking about adoption at the time, but our hearts quickly changed after having them for a week.

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They were wonderful, sweet children.  They just wanted to be loved.  They fit into our family so well.  I would liken them to old shoes.  They were just so comfortable and it seemed that they had been with us for years.  We were prepared for issues, so this was a surprise.  So, we began adoption proceedings in January.  We hosted them again in the summer since we hadn’t gotten the referral and travel dates.  We just didn’t want to miss another opportunity to bond with them as we were missing them terribly.  We spent the summer with them making more memories and building family bonds.

 

We sadly put them back on the plane and anxiously awaited the call with our referral and travel dates.  It came in September thankfully!  We spent three weeks in their country with them.  It was an amazing experience.  We were thankful to really get the feel of where they came from.  We said good-bye to siblings that were not available for adoption, which was so hard.  We thought our hearts may just break.  Yet, we were thankful that these two had each other since they had never been separated.  I think it has helped with their adjustment to have each other.  Even though they are typical siblings as our children are, having their moments of not so brotherly or sisterly love, I think it has been a comfort for them to be together.  We brought them home in October.

 

They are such sweet children and welcomed the love of family.  The Lord has stretched us and it has been a transition, but the journey has been worth it.  We are so thankful that God gave us the opportunity to be a part of His story by inviting these two to be a part of our family.  I have asked them a time or two about what they like best about being in America and their reply is “we just love having a family”.  We are far from a perfect family, but I don’t think God is looking for perfect and neither are they.  He’s just looking for willing.  Adoption is at the very heart of God.  What a pleasure it has been to be so close to His heart.

Choosing a Country for International Adoption

 

So you think you’d like to adopt, and international adoption sounds like the option you’d like to pursue. But how to pick a country? After all, there are so many options, the possibilities can sound overwhelming.

For some, this choice can be an easy one. Perhaps you’ve traveled to this country, and feel a connection to the culture or the people. Maybe you have family there. But for others, there are many other considerations. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you consider which country to pursue.

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What age child do I wish to adopt? We’ll start here as this is the most obvious question to consider. Each country will have available children of different ages. For instance, some countries have predominantly children of toddler or preschool age available while others have mostly school age children or even older available. Some countries have many sibling groups available while others do not. Start your adoption search by thinking about the age of the child you’d wish to bring into your family. Consider the age of other children already in your home and how they might respond to a child younger, the same age, or even older than they are. One thing you’ll note as you explore international adoption: fewer and fewer very young children (0-5) are available for international adoption and there might be a very long wait for these young children in the countries who have them available.

Am I open to children with special needs? Next tremendously important question! Have you considered adopting a child with some special needs? Many countries have younger children available but they often have some degree of special needs. China, for instance, has primarily quite young children, but the vast majority have some kind of special need. Many people hear the words “special needs” and think, “oh no, I don’t feel equipped for that”. But take a little time to do some research and exploration of the types of special needs which can occur and you might find that you’re more open to this possibility than you originally thought. There are many children who are considered to have special needs who might actually have a correctable health issue. Perhaps they have a condition which can be corrected with surgery, or maybe they have something else which is not correctable (missing or partially missing fingers or toes for instance) but would not significantly impact their overall health or quality of life. Some countries will distinguish between special needs, by which they typically mean more cognitive or emotional impairments, and health issues, which can range from milder in nature to more severe.

While you’re considering this option here are some other factors which should weigh in. First, consider your financial situation and health insurance coverage. Before requesting a child with special needs you’ll want to make sure that your health insurance will cover that child’s medical care. Now that pre-existing conditions are not allowed to be excluded from health coverage, you can have more confidence that your child would be covered. But you’ll also want to consider co-pays, deductibles, and percentages of the expenses covered. Next, how close do you live to medical or other resources which your child might need? If you live in a very rural area, are you comfortable driving an hour or more to get your child medical care? Would you be willing to do this for a brief period of time, for instance if your child needed a one-time surgery, or would you be comfortable doing this on a regular basis?

Children with special needs are most often overlooked for adoption. There are many beautiful, sweet children with a variety of milder issues who might be a wonderful addition to your family. They could blossom and flourish in a loving family given the opportunity.

How long do I want to wait for a child? Again, for more and more countries, waiting for a young healthy child can come with wait times of years. Carefully investigate how long you might wait in a particular country program before you commit. Are you comfortable with a long wait time, or do you want to add to your family more quickly? A few programs can be as fast as 6-12 months while most take at least a year to complete. Countries with younger, healthy children available are typically predicated to take several years, with some even longer.

Do I want my child to look like me?  You’ll want to do some soul searching for this question. Many adoptive families are comfortable with their child not resembling them physically. Are you comfortable parenting a child with a different skin color or ethnicity? How will your child be accepted into your community if they are from another race? Into your extended family? As difficult as these questions can be to ask, they are immensely important. When you parent a child from another ethnicity or country you are committing to honor and celebrate their heritage. You’ll want to try and prepare their birth country’s food, to celebrate their traditions or holidays. You will need to be comfortable talking about physical differences with your child, to answer hard questions, to defend or do your best to protect your child from any racism they might encounter.

What are the requirements to adopt from this country? Relatively speaking, this question is an easy one as it’s determined by the foreign country and you simply have to check to see if you meet their requirements. Remember, each country sets their own requirements for who may adopt. Different countries have different age parameters, allowances for health issues, income, or may take only married or both married or single parents. Make sure to talk this over with your adoption caseworker to ensure you meet the foreign country’s requirements. Also ask about the dossier (paperwork) requirements. Different countries will have different requirements to complete for a dossier.

What kind of travel is involved to the foreign country? One trip? Three trips? How long must you be away? Can one parent travel or must both? These kinds of factors can also impact your choice.

Don’t forget the less obvious details! The above issues are “the big ones”. Every family will consider those. But there are some other important factors to keep in mind when you decide on a country from which to adopt. First, how does the foreign country handle the termination of parental rights for orphaned children? Is this aspect handled by a government authority or by a private attorney or associate of the adoption agency? Make sure you feel comfortable with the ethics of the foreign country’s process, and with those of your adoption agency. While the United States and most adoption agencies work very hard to prevent corruption and unethical behavior, it can still happen. Stay alert to these details to make sure you don’t worry that corruption is involved. Choose a reputable Hague Accredited adoption agency and ask for references.

Next, how many adoptions occur from that country each year? The number can vary dramatically from one country to the next, with some having hundreds and other countries only having 1-2 or even 0 in a given year. You can find information about how many adoptions occur from a country on the Department of State’s website: adoption.state.gov. Go to Country Information on their main page, choose a country, and you can get a tremendous amount of information about the country, their requirements, and basic procedures. They also have a statistics chart showing the number of adoptions for each of the past several years. If you are considering a country with very few adoptions (say under 10) per year you may want to think carefully. In these cases it’s possible that the country does not have a well-established adoption process. Talk with your adoption agency about the certainty of getting matched with a child from a country like this and the stability of their program.

Open Door would love to help you explore your international adoption options. You can start with exploring our website, http://www.opendooradoption.org/. View each of our International Country pages to learn more and for some countries, to view waiting children. Then contact one of our fabulous caseworkers to talk about the programs you’re most interested in. Our goal is to help each family find the best adoption program suited to their situation. We love to help families just like you. Call us! 229-228-6339.

 

We Have an Urgent Need

Dear Friends,

I come to you today with an urgent need. Today, I come to you on behalf of three very special children, who at this very moment, are on the other side of the world–waiting.  How does one go about waiting for a family? I wait for my mom to finish trying on clothes so we can go to lunch. I  wait for a friend in the coffee shop. But I’ve never had to wait to be loved. These siblings, a girl, 8 years old, and two boys, 7 and 11, are waiting for love. That is something  most of you reading this blog post will never have to do, but we CAN stand in the gap for those who are waiting.

In Proverbs 31:8-9, The Lord speaks to this very issue, saying:

Speak out on behalf of the voiceless, and for the rights of all who are vulnerable.Speak out in order to judge with righteousness and to defend the needy and the poor.”

 

So here  I am, thankful that 23 years ago, someone spoke up for me, and as a measure of my thankfulness, I’m speaking up for these kiddos.

From the information Open Door has received, these children are said to be very healthy and obedient. The eldest boy loves soccer and is in 4th grade. The middle child, the girl, is a sweet 8 year old who is described as  a very good student and friend. The youngest boy is a smart child who is said to be well adjusted.

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At this time we are not permitted to  release pictures of the children over social media, but if you express interest, I can give you a picture, and my oh my, they are beautiful. You can also find out where they are from and more information about them.

You may not feel called to adopt. We can discuss that later 😉 (hahaha) but you are called to SPEAK UP. So share this post. Social Media is powerful.

You may not think you are ready to take on three children from an unknown place, but someone out there is–I promise you that. SPEAK UP. Share this. Be a vehicle.

But maybe, maybe you do feel called to adopt. You’ve been praying about the timing, the country, and the number of children. Maybe you’ve been asking God for a sign that lets you know it’s time to move forward.  Maybe this is it!  Maybe you’ve had adoptions fall through and you made a deal with God: “You’re going to have to literally drop them in our lap if you  want us to go through with adoption  again.” Maybe this is the drop.

I have this crazy belief that all children deserve the love of a father and mother, and I will stop at nothing to speak  up for those that are pent up in  dusty orphanages, dependent on overworked, underpaid caregivers to meet their deepest desire for love and connection. I want  these children to be given every opportunity to grow and thrive and come to know the love of a Father so great He has this girl across the world sitting at a desk writing a blog post about children she will probably never meet because she is so  compelled by His love that she must find these children a family.

 

So, your job is to share this. Your job is to pray.  And for one of you families out there, your job is to bring these kids home.

Sincerely,

Sarah

For More Information, Call Olga Klatt at 727-674-1470 or email her at olga@opendooradoption.org.

 

 

 

 

 

18 Months and Counting

Open Door is thrilled to share this blog post from one of our many amazing adoptive families. They adopted six children from Latvia, and they’ve given us an update, 18 months into life with ten kids. We know you will enjoy this read!

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Blessed be the name of the Lord
    from this time forth and forevermore!

Ps. 113:2

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On a recent trip to visit the Ark Encounter (it opens July 7, please buy tickets!) and Answers in Genesis, my friend Tim Dudley asked me why I had not blogged in about a year about our adoption. When I explained how busy I’d been, he gave me his trademark eye-roll and “Really? Too busy to write 500 words?”  (At the time, I didn’t realize that Tim hasn’t updated his blog in five years!) As usual, Tim was correct.

IMG_0022When we were first considering adopting six children; we went to the authoritative source on all things important – the blogosphere, and found several blogs written by families who had adopted large sibling groups. The sites were typically profuse regarding the decision to adopt, fluent regarding the initial stage, but then the…

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Come and See What God Has Done

It’s three days before Christmas.

Here in Thomasville, at the Open Door home office, it’s raining cats and dogs outside. It’s overcast, dreary, and wet, the perfect recipe for a day at home snuggled up watching Hallmark Christmas movies. But alas, here I am at the office, getting last minute projects finished before I head up to see family in North GA. In the background,  “Noel” by Lauren Daigle and Chris Tomlin is playing. Lauren’s voice, smooth as silk and deep as the sea jolts through my four o clock blues–“Noel! Noel! Come and see what  God has done!  The lyrics tell us:

 Noel, Noel

Come and see what God has done
Noel, Noel
The story of amazing love!
The light of the world, given for us
Noel 

 

I did some digging around and looked up the etymology of the word noel. It goes all the way back to a Latin word nasci, which means to be born.

Christmas, Noel, that Holy Night is a cry that pierces the darkness of our world–it beckons kings and peasants with the joyous proclamation–Christ is born! The story isn’t over! It has just begun. No longer are we wanderers trekking through a meaningless existence. Because of Christ, a new chapter begins, where at last there is peace on earth. Noel! Come see what God has done. May we remind ourselves when we are broken what He has done and may we look to the future with expectation at what He WILL do.

This  has been a year fraught with tragedy. It seems like every time we get on the internet, we hear of another mass shooting or terrorist threat has occurred.  We are tempted to be shrouded in fear and the joy of this season is taken like a rug beneath of our feet. How can we celebrate amid such loss? How can we rejoice while we dance on eggshells around our broken families?

I say this with the utmost care and without the least bit of a patronizing spirit: we can only celebrate because of Christ, because of what He has done. Because of his supernatural, simple, earth shattering, heaven-shaking birth, we have a reason to lift our hands and remember–It. Is. Not. Over. Yet.

With the numbered days we have been given, our one job is to go tell it on the mountain, shout it from the rooftops–what God has done!

He has provided loving, Christian homes for close to 200 hundred children through the Open Door in 2015. He has allowed us to love and serve brave birthmothers all over the state this year. He has given us the opportunity to expand our reach into the nations of Poland, Serbia and Mexico, this year alone. He has filled the homes of childless parents with laughter, love, and joy through the arrival of a newborn. He has made a way for us to work with the state to facilitate foster care adoptions. The list goes on.

No matter what goes on in the world around us, or how little we feel we bring to the Christmas tree this year, we bring  the one thing that will never leave us, Emmanuel, God With us.

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The story is not over. Each day we are invited to open the Gift of His presence and breathe it in like oxygen. Every day of a Jesus-follower’s life is Christmas, because every day we have the invitation to commune with a God who is not etched in stone or carved of gold. He is not hidden in incense or trapped in a church, He is not dead in a tomb or hanging on a cross. He is Alive, and THAT is why we celebrate. 

 

Jumping in With Both Feet

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Laughing with an adoptive family!

What do you say when you are completely overwhelmed by the grace and wonder and joy of Jesus Christ? I think all you can say is thank you, Lord,

Last night, An Open Door celebrated adoption. We went all out, pulled all the stops, blew up all the balloons, and brought possibly the most incredible person I have ever met to Thomasville. Over mashed potatoes and tomato bisque, we laughed, shared stories and heard families share about their adoption stories, from Georgia all the way to Ukraine. Bob Goff was our guest of honor, and if you have never heard of him, do yourself a huge favor and go buy his New York Times Bestselling book Love Does now. Bob Goff is full of life, full of power, full of joy and overflowing with Jesus, and he poured joy like a waterfall in our little town last night.

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He asked tough questions about what was important in our life, what we were filling our bucket with and were we choosing to play it safe instead of jumping with both feet into the lifelong adventure of loving others, of loving kids who need love. He said we were all invited to live an incredible life, but even more than that, we were all welcome.

When we picked Bob up at the airport yesterday, he was carrying a long cylinder holding what looked like a poster (either that or he had stolen the Declaration of Independence). all afternoon I was curious about what was in the cylinder.

Later, while Bob was speaking, he started talking about castles. He pulled a huge sheet of paper out of the cylinder, revealing the blueprints for building a castle. He said if you want to learn how to build a castle, you could refer to the blueprints, but if you want to build a kingdom, you were  going to have to think differently. You see, castle are built to keep you safe, to keep the bad guys out with moats and guards, but kingdoms are structured to welcome people in with bridges instead of barriers, This is the kingdom of God, not that we play it safe and never jump into the adventure of loving with our whole hearts, but that we throw off the weights that so easily entangle us and run (with joy) the race set before us. We are building a kingdom that lasts, and this kingdom begins with children.

He pulled a small square mirror out of his bucket at one point and told us how when his kids were younger and feeling discouraged, he would get their mirror  put it front of them, an say, “Let me tell you about YOU.” to his sons, he would say, “You are a man of valor.” To his daughters, “You are a woman of virtue.”

Who will place the mirror in front of a child who has no one with whom they belong? Who will build them up like fathers do, and who will  hold them close, like mothers do?

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I was so excited to meet my favorite author!!

Last night, we celebrated adoption, but we also were honest. There is much work to be done, there are many waiting children, and we at Open Door are jumping in with both feet. We are done thinking about it, waiting for it, or planning for it. We are following after Jesus and his heart for children with everything we’ve got.

Are you with us?

To find out more about supporting our agency, visit http://www.openfutureendowment.com

To find out more about Bob Goff, visit http://www.bobgoff.com

To find out more about adoption, visit http://www.opendooradoption.org

Sincerely, Sarah: Proud to be an American

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Freedom.

It’s a word we toss around flippantly. I’m free to do whatever I want. I love free stuff. America, the land of the free. 

As I’ve been anticipating the 4th of July and all the festivities that surround this great American holiday, I’ve been thinking about how freedom and adoption are related. I love this country. I wasn’t born here, but I’m an American girl, through and through.  That’s what’s amazing about the USA. It’s a culmination of every nation, every language, every race and every culture. It was founded as a safe haven for persecuted christians, and to this day, people come here by the droves seeking opportunity, hope and solace. Many families go to another nations and adopt children and bring them here so they too can have possibilities they might not have in their place of birth.

I cannot imagine what my life would have been like if my parents had not adopted me from Russia. I would not have had the opportunities I’ve had here, the freedom to choose so many things, the hope of making a difference in the world. All of that has happened because I’m here, because someone went there and brought me here. I’ll be the first to tell you I don’t think the old US of A has it all figured out, and I’ve been to other nations that could teach us quite a bit, but especially in light of the deluge of bad news we are inundated with on a daily basis, I want to encourage you to think twice this 4th of July.

Think about how blessed you are to live in a nation where you are not persecuted for your faith.(No matter what you may think you are going through, a victim of the terror in the Middle East would likely tell you that you are NOT being truly persecuted). A nation where you can read your Bible without fearing for your safety. A nation where you can pursue education and receive medical care and feel safe walking down the street. I know this isn’t a perfect country and there is much corruption and evil, but if you live in the USA, it is where God has put you right now and He will protect you and provide for you–and the least we can do is be grateful. The news tells us we are doomed and that the world is’t what it used to be, and maybe that’s true, but take heart! This is a great nation, a nation where many people, including internationally adopted, children find hope and freedom and peace.

So, this year, as you’re firing up your barbeque and setting off your fireworks, thank God for your freedom, and maybe even think about what you could do to help a child enjoy that same liberty.