Adoption Perspectives

I had the honor of being on the Adoption Perspectives Radio Show a couple weeks ago.

You can listen to the broadcast here:

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We Have an Announcement…or Three!

Hi friends!  My blog has been quiet lately, but a lot has been brewing and I am so excited to finally be able to share it with you!

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First, as many of you know, a dear friend and I opened an adoption law firm, Adoptions West, in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho!  We have loved owning our own practice and doing what we love, while splitting the work load so that we can be home with our little ones as much as possible.  It is so exciting to work with other couples who are on the adoption journey, to share what I’ve learned along the way, and to use my legal training to help them build their families!

Second, and even more exciting, our family is growing!!!

We have been matched with amazing expectant parents and are expecting a precious little BOY in mid-August 2014 AND, we are adopting two little boy embryos that we will implant when this little one is around a year old.  That is the quick explanation, but God has been writing quite the story, and this chapter has His fingerprints on every page.  I can’t share all of the details yet, but I can share some of the things that God has been doing.

Many of you may remember my post in early December about the many situations that we had considered and presented our profile for.  Shortly after I wrote that post, I saw a post in an adoption group, titled “an unusual request–could it be your family?”  I clicked on the link and read about two embryos that needed a family.  My heart leapt at the possibility, as embryo adoption was something we had been praying about for years.

[Quick Aside: For those of you who have never heard of embryo adoption, I’ll give you the cliff notes version: When couples undergo IVF, they often create extra embryos (an embryo exists when an egg and sperm have combined) for a myriad of reasons.  These embryos are frozen for future use.  In the United States alone, there are over 600,000 frozen embryos.  When a family is finished growing their family using the embryos, they often have left over embryos.  Many families are choosing to place these embryos for adoption to give them a chance at life.  The embryos are then implanted in the womb of the adoptive mother and she carries the pregnancy.  To learn more, visit: Snowflake Adoption or Embryo Adoption Awareness]

As I said above, embryo adoption is something we had been praying about for years,  as we had been told that I could carry a pregnancy.  We believe that embryos are lives and just as valuable as any other life, so we thought it would be neat to give some a chance at life and for me to experience pregnancy.  However, when we started our second adoption process, God told us to pursue a domestic infant adoption again, so we assumed we would adopt embryos in the future, if ever.

Yet, when I saw this post, it felt right.  Jonathan and I talked and prayed about it and decided to submit our profile.  Apparently a lot of profiles were received and we didn’t hear anything for a while, so we assumed another family was chosen.  Then, we received an email out of the blue, saying that we were selected as a back-up family.  Another family was chosen, but the other family wasn’t sure they were ready for embryo adoption, so we were asked if we would be willing to take them if the first family wouldn’t.  We, of course, said yes!  A week later, we found out that the other family wasn’t ready, so these little embryos (two boys) were ours, as long as testing confirmed I could carry and as soon as the contract was signed.

I was elated, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was another baby out there for us that we were supposed to adopt.  Every time I prayed or thought about it, I kept sensing “there’s another” and that there was a reason we had gone through the domestic adoption home study process.  I continued to pray and one day told a friend that even though I continued seeing adoption situations, I didn’t feel a peace about applying for any of them.  I joked that if there was indeed “another” we were supposed to adopt, that God would have to drop into our laps.  I had no idea how quickly He would or how faithful He would be in doing so!  That night, someone we know well told me that she was 8 weeks pregnant and that she was pretty certain she wanted to place the baby with us.  At the time, I encouraged her to consider parenting, but told her we would be willing to adopt her baby.

She was going for her first ultrasound the next day.  I asked if she wanted me to come with her so she wasn’t alone.  She said “yes, it’s probably your baby anyway.”  I was trying to keep open palms, because I knew this was early in the pregnancy and I wanted to be able to support her 100% if she chose to parent.  I also knew that parenting may be God’s plan for her, but I was honored to walk this journey with her and excited to see a little life on the ultrasound screen.

We asked her to continue to pray about the adoption plan and there were days when she considered parenting, but she continued to lean towards adoption.

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Two weeks ago, she invited me to her second ultrasound and we found out that the baby is a BOY!  That day she told me she was certain about her adoption plan.  I wanted to start planning for a baby, since I’ll be busy taking the bar this summer, but didn’t want to do much in case she changed her mind.  We talked again the next day and she said she was absolutely certain and to go crazy planning for a baby boy!  It is so bittersweet to see a good friend go through an unplanned pregnancy, making an adoption plan, but we are so excited to welcome a little boy to our family!

I know things can always fall through and this situation will continue to need  prayer, but I also know this expectant well well and know that once she makes a decision, she sticks with it.  I am choosing joy and am excitedly preparing for our little boy, because let’s be honest, if it falls through, it would be difficult and hurt the same whether I prepared or not.  Furthermore, if it does go through, I want to have experienced every joyful moment of expecting our little boy!  Ultimately, God has to protect my heart, because if I try to guard and protect my heart, I’m not fully invested and open to what He has in store.

Again, I love how faithful our God is.  When we started this process last summer, Jonathan and I both sensed that God was going to bring our next baby through our network of friends and family.  We felt strongly that we were to share our profile with friends and tell everyone we knew about our adoption plan.  We didn’t expect our next baby to actually be born to a dear friend (we thought it would be a friend of a friend), but we love to see God fulfill the promises He whispered to us.  There were  days when it was so tempting to take matters into my own hands, but I am so glad we trusted in His promises.  

God is also answering another promise.  Back in October, I found myself sharing our adoption story, but quickly following it with, “we’ll never have another adoption like this one,” implying that the next one would be messy and not good.  God reminded me that He is the one who gave us the gift of Abigail (our daughter) and Natasha (Abby’s birth mom).  He gave us a perfect baby, a birth mom who is like a sister and more family members that share our faith (Natasha’s family).  He gave us a situation that our entire family was comfortable with and excited about.  Who was I to say He couldn’t or wouldn’t give us another amazing gift?  Low and behold, He has given us another amazing adoption situation, one with a sweet friend, where I am able to walk through almost every stage of the pregnancy with her.

Friends, we serve a God who keeps His promises and who rewards our faith, even when it is as small as a mustard seed!

Just in case you are wondering, we are still adopting the embryos, we will just wait to implant them until this little is around a year old!  Also, as a note, there is a chance that one or both of the embryos will not implant, but we are ready and willing to welcome all these little boys into our family, if God is willing.

If you feel called to support our adoption, we covet your prayers, for these babies, for us, and for this little man’s birth parents.  In addition, you can donate at http://www.adopttogether.org/theschmitts!  We would love your help in bringing our boys home!

They aren’t ours, they are His

As Abby-girl approaches her second birthday, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about those days before her birth and in the hospital, as well as the events that have transpired in the last two years. Mainly, I think about what open adoption has meant for our lives.

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As most of you know, we have a VERY open adoption.  In fact, we recently spent Christmas day with  Abby’s birth mom and her family and they will be joining us for our Abby’s second birthday party this weekend.  They have become like a second family to us and I thank God for them every day.

One of the most common questions or comments that I receive when people hear about our open adoption is, “how do you share Abby that much – don’t you get insecure or jealous?”  I would be lying if I said that I have never once felt insecure, but through adoption, God has taught me an amazing lesson that I think every parent needs to learn – our kids aren’t ours, they are His!  This means that I need to turn to Him with every situation in their lives.  It’s not about how I feel, it is about what He says is best for their lives and is about the plan that He has for them!

Early on in this journey, we knew God was calling us to open adoption and we committed to open adoption, as long as it was healthy for Abby.  We agreed to turn to God with how open the adoption should be and quickly had an open door policy with Natasha (Abby’s birth mom).  There were times when I had small twinges of jealousy seeing Abby’s relationship with Natasha, but I knew that was my fleshly reaction and was quickly reminded that it is a good thing for them to have a special bond!  Now, I praise God that they can know each other and that Abby will always have Natasha in her life.  It is such a blessing that she can know and love her birth mom, that her questions can be answered, and that she has more people loving her and pointing her to Christ.  I also praise God that I can delight in their relationship and that He has made me secure in my role as Abby’s mom, so that I am not insecure when she has a relationship with someone else.

There were also situations early on where people were not supportive of the adoption plan, but later wanted to see and know Abby.  I was incredibly protective of Natasha and Abby and in my flesh, I didn’t want to share them or our story with people who hadn’t initially been supportive.  I was afraid of what would be said and how that could impact those I love.  I continued to turn to God and ask Him what His will was and He told me that I needed to open up and not withhold relationships because of things done in the past.  He reminded me that our adoption story is His to share, not ours.  It was hard for me and stretched me, but again, I thank God that He is all-knowing, because every one of those relationships has ended up being such a blessing in our lives and Abby’s.

I am sure in years to come I will have many opportunities to live this out in other areas of life and will be challenged again and again to trust God with our kids.  You see, our kiddos aren’t ours – they have just been entrusted to us for a season by our all-knowing God, a God who is and does immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.  Eph 3:20  Seek him for your children and I bet you’ll be blessed in the process!  IF nothing else, He’ll grow you and stretch you to be more like Him!

I am Thankful

As one goes through the adoption process, it is easy to get caught up in the difficulties, the frustrations, and the fear, but God has been reminding me over and over that this is a time to be thankful!  Even though this road can be a roller coaster, I have so many things to be thankful for and today, I am going to share some of those with you – from the magnificent to the frivolous.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Phil 4:6-7 (emphasis mine)

I am thankful for:

1) Our God who sent his son to die for us, that we might be saved.  This same God wants and desires a daily relationship with us.  He guards the way of the godly (Psalm 1:6), protecting us and guiding us. We can rest and not worry, knowing that if we are turning to Him, He will make our way clear! He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28).  He is the God of immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine! (Ephesians 3:20) The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

2) My amazing husband, who sacrificially cares for Abby and I everyday, putting our needs ahead of his own.

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3) My sweet Abby-girl, who brings joy everywhere she goes.  Her laugh, her smiles, her cuddles, and her sweet little voice make every day an amazing day.  As we go through this adoption process again, she is my constant reminder of God’s faithfulness.  He truly gave us more than we could ask or imagine with this sweet little girl!

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4) Cliche as it is, I am thankful for our family, for how much they love and care for us! We were blessed with a large family and we wouldn’t trade it any day!  I am thankful that they are willing to travel miles to spend time with us and that when we are together, it is as if we have never been apart.

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papagramma-25) I am beyond thankful for Natasha (Abby’s birth mom) and her amazing family.  They have become like a second family to us and we are so grateful for the relationship that God has given us and the story He has written for us!  It is not what any of us ever pictured, but it is incredible!  I am so thankful that Natasha made the courageous choice to give her baby life!

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6) Steve and Donna, the couple that Natasha stayed with during her pregnancy.  Without their willingness to open up their home, we would have never met Natasha or welcomed our sweet Abby-girl to our family!

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7) Technology: living far away from family, I am so thankful for face-time, the internet, and cheap phone plans that keep us connected.  I love that because of face time, my parents aren’t strangers to Abby, even when she hasn’t seen them for months!

8) All of our family and friends who have walked the adoption journey with us – offering prayer, a listening ear during the tough and exciting times, and more than generous financial support!  We couldn’t adopt with out you!

9) Amazing friends who are there through thick and thin and point us to Christ!

10) Our cozy house, which truly is a blessing from God.  I love that we have a guest room for our friends and family to stay in and that it has been full throughout the month of November!

11) Online adoption support communities – it is such a blessing to have people who understand the journey, because they have traveled it!

12) That we get to put our Christmas decorations up tomorrow!  I am excited that it is officially okay to watch Christmas movies tomorrow!

13) Our new home town of Castle Rock!  I love this sweet community and all the fun events they have!

I could go on and on, but you get the idea!

Guest Post on the Daly Focus: The Schmitt’s Adopt Abby

In honor of National Adoption Month, the Daly Focus, a blog by Jim Daly, President of Focus on the Family, is sharing adoption stories.  I was honored to be a Guest Blogger, sharing the lessons God taught us during our adoption journey.

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Months turned to years and I still wasn’t pregnant.  We were beginning to question what was going on. While we had always planned on adopting, we had always assumed we were going to have biological children first.

It was soon apparent that God had other plans for us, and we began to consider adoption as a way to start our family. I’m so glad we did. Not only did God use adoption to bring us our precious Abigail, but He also used the process to teach us three very important lessons.

Lesson #1: God can turn mourning into dancing

The story of Abigail’s adoption doesn’t start with her. It starts with a little baby boy we almost adopted.

To read more, visit the Daly Focus.

 

What I don’t want you to know…

I’ve been hesitant to write this post, but figured since this is a blog about adoption, it is important to share the peaks and valleys, the joys and the concerns.  My goal is to be real with you, my readers. … Continue reading

Updated Adoption Profile

With our new family pictures and the addition of a puppy to our family, we decided to update our adoption profile!  If you know anyone facing an unplanned pregnancy that is considering adoption, we would be honored if you shared … Continue reading

McMiracle | Part 2 in the Journey to Parenthood Series

I don’t know about you guys, but I love reading birth stories.  Even better?  A beautiful adoption-birth story.  I love this particular story, because it is so raw and real.  It shares the pain and the beauty, the sorrow and … Continue reading

I Say | He Says

When I talk to others about our unique adoption, which was clearly penned by God, I often hear myself saying, “we’ll never have another birth mom like Natasha” and “our next adoption probably won’t go as smoothly,” or “the odds of us having an adoption as affordable as our first are very slim.”  Oh me of little faith!

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! ~ Matthew 7:11

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Who am I to put God in a box?  God is the one who gave us the gift of Abigail (our daughter) and Natasha (Abby’s birth mom).  He gave us a perfect baby, a birth mom who is like a sister and more family members that share our faith (Natasha’s family).  He gave us a situation that our entire family was comfortable with and excited about.  Who am I to say He couldn’t or wouldn’t give us another amazing gift?

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. ~ Matthew 7:7-11

One time, just days after uttering my “we won’t” sentiments to a friend, I received a call about a girl similar to Natasha, who was considering adoption.   She ended up miscarrying, but that call hit me like a ton of bricks.  It was as if God was speaking directly to me, saying, “I can give you good things, beyond your wildest dreams.  I can bless you again!  I am the God who created the heavens and the earth.  I hold you in the palm of my hand.  I want GOOD things for you.  Don’t lose heart or lose faith.  Don’t limit Me with your unbelief.”

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When I have doubted, He has continued to show me that He is able!  Just the other day, as I was seeking God, I read this devotional and was reminded again to trust and believe that He is writing our adoption story and it will be for our good:

And He marveled because of their unbelief. ~ Mark 6:6

This is the day of miracles. My power and love will combine and My glory will be shown. Awaken your heart, be expectant, not reluctant, before My promise. I can do exceedingly abundantly above all you ask or think. You need to stretch your faith, My child, instead of nursing puny, negative doubts and fears. Faith still moves mountains – faith and prayer. Faith borne on the wings of prayer. This is what you need to practice – faith-filled praying, expectant, eager and confident praying. My heart is gladdened when My children pray this way. Don’t be afraid of believing too much. Be afraid of limiting My work and cheating My glory by believing too little. I love to reward a chastened, believing heart, a faith that has been tried and not found wanting. Pray for such a faith and I will give it to you; and then it is yours to guard and use for My glory. Awaken, my child, awaken your heart! (Helms, Hal M., Echoes of Eternity (Paraclete Press, 1996) October 3, 213-214.)

Friend, please don’t be like me and operate in a state of self-protection, saying “we won’t” or “it won’t happen” in a poor attempt to guard your heart from hoping, wishing, and dreaming.  Instead, ask, believing that our Father in Heaven gives good gifts to His children and believing that He is more than able.  Walk in the knowledge that if you ask for something that isn’t good for you, He will say no, but if it is good for you and glorifies Him, He can, and very well may, say yes!  Have faith, even if it is as small as a mustard seed.  Then, watch Him amaze you!

Adoption Update & FAQ

A common question I get about our second adoption journey is where we are at in the process, so I thought I would give a little update.

We have spent the last month filling out home study paperwork, visiting doctors for our physicals, getting fingerprinted, sending in paperwork for background checks, making our profile, and fundraising!  On the home study front, we had our first home visit with our social worker on Monday.  We are finished with the majority of our paperwork, but still have three home visits, a first aid/CPR class and a two day, sixteen hour, training on adoption.  We anticipate finishing our home study by mid-September.

On the fundraising front, God is really providing to bring this little one home!  In less than a month, we have raised $2700.  That money combined with our savings, money that will be coming in from photo shoots in the next month, and some promised donations, puts us almost at the half way point to funding our adoption (based on anticipated costs)!!!  This is incredible!  We are trusting God to provide the rest in His perfect timing!

At this point, our attorney in CA has our profile to share with expectant mothers who are due after September (we can’t have a baby placed in our home until our home study is finished.  We have also shared our profile with all of our friends and family; you never know how God will lead us to the next little one.  Once our home study is finished, we will also submit our profile to Project Cuddle, “a non-profit organization with the purpose of providing Safe & Legal Alternatives to Baby Abandonment & Helping to Pave the Way for a Successful Future.  [They] run a confidential, toll-free, 24-hour crisis hotline for scared pregnant girls and women who feel hopeless and alone. Women who feel they have no one to help them through this frightening experience of an unplanned/unwanted pregnancy.”  They also keep potential adoptive parent profiles on file, so they can share them with the women immediately.  In the last ten years, Project Cuddle has rescued 740 babies!

We have no idea how long it will take us to be matched with an expectant mother.  It could be weeks, it could be months, or it could be years.  We are praying for sooner rather than later!  Please pray with us!

We have also received a lot of other questions, so I wanted to share them and our answers:

Are you waiting to be matched until all of your fundraising is finished?

No.  We trust that God will provide in His perfect time, as He did with Abigail’s adoption.

Do you have a preference for gender?

No!  Eventually we would like to have at least one child of each gender, but we are happy with whatever child(ren) God brings us.

What are you comfortable with in terms of race and disability?

Honestly, we are praying a LOT about this one.  Before we adopted Abby, we said that we were okay with pretty much any child that needed a family and we trusted God to know what we can handle.  I think our answer is still the same, but we are really praying for God’s direction, because the community that we live in is not nearly as racially diverse as our former home and we want to ensure that our child is comfortable in his/her environment.  We also now have another child to consider (Abby) and need to be sure that we can handle it all.  Ultimately, though, I think when it comes down to it, we are comfortable with whatever God brings us.  We know He won’t give us more than we can handle, but we would appreciate it if you prayed with us on this one.   🙂

One thing we are for sure comfortable with, though, is multiples!  We both would really like twins. 🙂

Have you considered foster adoption?

Since we are fundraising, many people have asked us if we have considered foster adoption, because it is so much cheaper.  We have considered this and prayed about it a lot.  We are both pretty sure we will adopt from the foster system at some point, but now did not seem like the right time.  For one, we want to maintain Abby’s birth-order, as the oldest child in our family.  In CO, children under one that are adoptable in the foster system appear to be few and far between.  Our next adoption may be through the foster system, or we could fost-adopt years down the road, when Abby is in college or out on her own.  We don’t know, we are just trusting God and looking to Him for direction.

Have you considered International Adoption?

We have and are always open to it, but God has given us a heart for women facing unplanned pregnancies and for the unborn.  Right now, we feel called to help these women have another option (adoption) and to walk with them through part of their journey and provide a home for a few precious babes.  We have been so blessed to have an incredible relationship with Abby’s birth mother and would love to be able to help and love on other expectant mothers.

I think that’s it for now!  Keep asking questions!  I love them 🙂

We will be out of town for the next week and a half, visiting family, doing a ton of senior photos in my home town (praise God, these are paying for our trip), AND meeting our niece, who is due to arrive any day!  I likely won’t be blogging much, if at all, while we are gone, but I’ll be back at it once we are home again!  Enjoy the end of summer!