Adoption Involves Letting Go

Brilliant short piece on the “letting go” by all involved in the adoption process.

 

Adoption involves letting go.

Some let go of their dream of having children biologically. (Infertility)

Others let go of their dream of having children who look similar to them. (Transracial adoption.)

The foster moms and dads who take care of these little and not-so-little beings let go of babies they were with night and day.

We had to let go of the dream of nurturing a little one from his/her earliest hours. I wanted to watch every single moment of development myself, even with the risk of birth mother changing her mind in the allotted 60 days.

Hearing the social worker’s report that she smiles, brought a pang of pain. Why was she smiling in foster care instead of with me?

The birth mothers (and fathers sometimes) regretfully also let go.

Will you be the one who lets go of your preconceptions and receives what someone else had to let go?

I was there when our daughter’s mother, seeing her after three and a half months, told her as she let go, “Here’s your Mommy.” She let go, trusting that the gift I received would be held onto for dear life.

One day our girl will see the full picture. Not just me receiving, but the mother whose hand can be seen in this photo-letting go.

We need more people to open up their hands to receive.

* This was posted on a personal blog on Facebook, go and check out her page at Imperfect Mom of Three

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Celebrating 5 Years of Being Family!

It is October in Pretoria – the most beautiful month in our beautiful city! I never get tired of seeing the streets of our city lined with the most vibrant green and of course purple trumpet flowers of the Jacaranda trees. We have also been in the grip of a heat wave, with temperatures soaring above 33 degrees for nearly two weeks now and it seems that spring was just a rumour. With the high temperatures we have had to make plans for the children to cool down as we do not have a swimming pool. Buckets, hoses, sprayers and even a big crate do the trick so that they spend hours entertaining themselves and cooling down.

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Watching my two kids play in the water, fills my heart with joy and gratefulness. They splash, laugh, tease each other and of course fight with each other like any other set of siblings do. And that is what makes me happy – they are just like any other siblings, regardless of the fact that they don’t look like each other or like us. We are family!

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So many days I am aware of how God created each child uniquely and specifically for our family. Nina is a strong willed girl, not really phased by other’s opinions with an imagination that may have her end up on stage. Siya on the other hand is a people-pleaser. Enjoying attention and wanting people to like him – and of course he succeeds in this wherever we go. These unique traits of them have already helped them in handling situations. Siya recently started school and having Nina as his big-sister has helped a lot. She protects him like a tiger and handles all the “Is he really your brother?” questions without blinking an eye. Of course we have to help her and teach her the correct words to say, but she isn’t offended by anyone trying to tell her he cannot be her brother.

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In the past few weeks we have celebrated both their birthdays. Siya turned two end of August and Nina turned 5 a few days ago. Birthdays especially are a time when I am reminded of this wonderful and precious blessing that we have experienced with the adoption of our two children. In the normal day to day life of being family we tend to forget how we became family. We are a normal family with the normal ups and downs of parenthood. Days are filled with instructing and disciplining our children, breaking up fights, nagging them to eat their food and clean up their rooms. Mornings filled with the rush to get everyone on time for work and school. Bedtime routines that can sometime go on much longer than hoped for.

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This week, 5 years after becoming parents for the first time, I have been thinking so much about this road that we have been on. I have been thinking about our struggle with infertility and what an incredible heavy burden it was at the time to carry, not really believing that there will be a time where I am completely at peace with the fact that I will never conceive. I have been thinking about how we wondered and prayed about how our family wlll handle adoption, and how we were blessed with a loving, open-armed family welcoming both our children. I have been thinking about the moments I first met each baby – Nina as a newborn giving her first cry and Siya when he was 7 weeks old. And then of course I have been thinking a lot about our childrens’s brave tummy mommies. Always grateful, always humbled beyond words for their selfless act of love and gift of life to us!

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I have also been wondering lately what our lives would have been like if we didn’t go through these trials and things happened the way we thought and hoped that it would. If I had a choice, what would it be? And then I can say with a certain heart – I will not choose a thing different than how it happened! The trial of infertility brought to me a new understanding of what it means to live with my eyes fixed on Jesus and hoping and longing for an Eternal Life with our Heavenly Father. Adoption taught me a deep gospel truth of how God adopted us into His family (Eph 1:3-10), and I truly believe that I would never have understood this completely if it weren’t for experiencing this personally.

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Looking back on our journey I can echo Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 8:28

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Meet the Mama Guest Post

I recently did an interview about our adoption story with Jules from Heart Mama Blog. Loved the opportunity to share our story!

Meet the Mama {Marli Swanepoel}

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Marli is a Heart Mama from Pretoria who juggles a being a Mom to her two kids with a part time medical career. She chats to us here about the life-changing journey of parenting through adoption and you can also follow her personal blog here for some more adoption posts. Thank you for sharing your story, Marli.

Tell us a bit about your family

We are the Swanepoels, so far made up of 4 unique individuals bonded together as family not by genes but by the adopting grace of Jesus. De Wet and I have been married for nearly 11 years now, and we have two children by adoption. Nina turns 5 in October and Siya turns 2 in a month’s time.

Did you always know that you wanted to adopt?

When we did our pre-marital counselling, we talked extensively about our future family. We decided then already that we wanted to adopt, but after having biological children. After a few years of pursuing pregnancy and undergoing treatments we decided that we would rather focus our efforts on adoption. At this time we read a book that changed our perception on adoption forever – Adopted for Life by Dr Russell Moore. We realised then that adoption for us was not Plan B, but Plan A!

Did you use an agency or did you go through Child Welfare?

With both adoptions we worked through Social Workers in Private Practice. Both adoptions were seamless and made as easy as possible! With Nina, we actually met her very brave “tummy mommy” when she was about 6 months pregnant. We went with her to the gynae visits and I was in theatre when our precious baby girl was born! On the morning of Nina’s birth we exchanged gifts, and Nina’s biological mom made her a quilt with her date of birth. I know that this is something that Nina will treasure forever. We met Siya when he was 6 weeks old and visited him as often as we wanted to until the day that we could take him home with us – when he turned 10 weeks. It made the bonding with him so much easier. We were also able to meet his special biological mother the day before placement and she also gave us a letter that we are keeping for Siya until he’s a little older.

*Read the rest of the post here.

 

 

When Infertility and Adoption Collide

Another article that really hit a nerve for me, as I realise that I too will carry the burden of infertility for the rest of my life. As she writes: “After all, while adoption does grow a family, it isn’t a cure for infertility. It doesn’t erase the pain or the sleepless nights spent weeping for the loss of a dream.”

There were so many things my husband and I didn’t know before we decided to grow our family. We didn’t know how incredibly hilarious preschoolers are. We didn’t know that although a child may be potty “trained,” they might choose not to exercise that skill. We didn’t know how innocently a child can love and how quick they are to forgive. We also didn’t know how intensely angry and out-of-control that same child could be! We didn’t know about the Wild Kratts or Angelina Ballerina. We had no idea about car seat laws. We also didn’t know that we were walking into years of infertility.

About three years ago, my husband and I, quite naïvely, decided to grow our family of two. We began trying to conceive and pursuing our foster care license at the same time. I remember my husband saying, “Let’s just walk through whatever doors God opens,” and, while I was nodding my head in agreement, I was really only thinking of foster care, assuming we’d be pregnant in no time. Well, we walked through the open doors and none of them led to a pregnancy or even a baby.

Those doors led to two gorgeous kids, ages 5 and nearly 3 when they joined our family over a year and a half ago. They have completely changed our world, and, about a month after saying yes to those four precious eyes and twenty continuously dirty little fingers, Joe and I sat in a doctor’s office and were diagnosed with infertility. At that point, I was still in disbelief. I was thinking, “Okay God, You must be letting these littles settle in, and then You will give us a baby.” Nope. That’s not what He was doing. He was just plain ole’ closing doors.

Once I began accepting those closed doors, I realized something profoundly deeper than I ever had before–infertility is about more than not being able to grow a family, and, for that reason, exists independently from adoption. I got honest with myself and openly admitted that I really want a biological child too, especially after seeing and knowing the deep hurts of the two children in my arms. God has written a story of redemption for my two children, as He works in their lives and displays His love for them. I’ve been so thankful to be a part of that story, but I’m still hoping to be a part of another storyline for a child–a story where I protect them from the very beginning, always keeping them safe and loved, where the plot is without trauma, abuse, or tragic loss. I want to walk the journey that God intended for every child from the beginning, not just the journey that has resulted from a broken and fallen world.

Having experienced infertility and adoption both first-hand, I also began to call out all of my prior judgments of people who “just adopted” because they couldn’t get pregnant. First of all, there is no such thing as “just adopting.” Adoption is huge. It isn’t about “just” loving a child. It isn’t “just” a way to grow a family. It isn’t something you “just” do as Plan B. It is hard. It is life changing. It is born out of so much hurt and pain.

And it isn’t for everyone.

Adoption can be expensive. It can take years of waiting. It is emotionally draining, both before and after the adoption is complete. It can mean a completely different lifestyle from what was expected. Anyone who has walked through infertility can also identify with these, as it is also expensive, long, emotionally draining, and definitely outside of one’s expectations of life. While the journey of infertility may be preparing some hearts to be stretched and refined all over again with adoption, it may also be shaping others to move a different direction entirely. After all, while adoption does grow a family, it isn’t a cure for infertility. It doesn’t erase the pain or the sleepless nights spent weeping for the loss of a dream.

Adoption doesn’t end the journey of infertility.

It certainly hasn’t ended ours. We are walking these paths independently from each other. In one moment we may mourn the loss of a dream as we wait on a little pink line that never comes, and, in the next, we are celebrating the amazing act of redemption happening in our children and us through the blessing of adoption. And in each of these moments, we have learned that we can keep praising Christ, because He is our fortress. He holds us up. He supports us. He strengthens us. In the throws of infertility and adoption, He is there standing, proving His faithfulness. 

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:12-13

* This article was first published on www.lifesongfororphans.org.

Wednesday Wisdom 26/11/2014

“Adoption doesn’t cure the pain of my infertility. But because of adoption, infertility also hasn’t taken from me of the overwhelming joy of motherhood. And that’s beautiful.”

http://www.adoption.com

“What Not To Say To Parents Of Adoptive Families”

Another article on using the right adoption language, but written also out of a Christian worldview and perspective on adoption. Well worth the read!

http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/what-not-say-parents-adopted-children#eMeDZyBfPkcuySMe.01

Nina turns 4!

October will always be one of the most beautiful months to me. We live in Pretoria, which is also known as the Jacaranda City. These beautiful trees are in full bloom during October, and line our streets with their purple trumpet flowers. It is also when our jasmine bushes start to blossom filling the air with their sweet fragrance. But October is also the month when we celebrate Nina’s birth.

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Now Nina is 4 years old – and what a blessing she is to us! She is a lively, energetic girl with an imagination that can only make you laugh. She loves ballet, fairies, princess stories and dressing up but can play and jump and climb like a real tomboy. 🙂 A good mental picture of her is dressed in a fairy skirt with fairy wings, crown on the head, but feet and hands dirty and legs full of bruises. Never a dull moment!

2 years old.

2 years old

3 years old

Turning 3

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Now a big girl!

In this time we also specifically remember Nina’s very brave tummy mommy. We know she is also thinking of Nina. We pray for her, that Jesus will also fill her heart continually with His presence and peace. We always thank the Lord for her selfless act of love.

As these beautiful burst of colourful flowers after a cold highveld winter signifies the promise of summer and new life, it is also a reminder to me how our Father brought new life into our lives after going through the long and painful road of infertility.

We love you dearest Nina!! Our prayer for you is that you continue to mature in a girl that will love Jesus increasingly and live for His glory.