“As we become more attuned to the Gospel, we’ll have more of a burden for orphans”
“As we become more attuned to the Gospel, we’ll have more of a burden for orphans”
I recently did an interview about our adoption story with Jules from Heart Mama Blog. Loved the opportunity to share our story!
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.
“Adoption is defined as mission … Adoption tells us our purpose in this age as the people of Christ. Missional adoption spurs us to join Christ in advocating for the helpless and the abandoned.”
Another article on using the right adoption language, but written also out of a Christian worldview and perspective on adoption. Well worth the read!
This short post sums up so much of the emotional complexity when dealing with infertility and making decision to refocus your energy on adoption.
Part of this process is to make peace with the fact that you most probably will never conceive your own biological children. As one sentence in this post says: “You have to mourn the children you will never have in order to heal completely.”
I was emotionally raw after every round of infertility treatment, and unsure how I will ever be able to come to terms with the fact that I might never conceive, never experience the wonder of having a baby grow in my womb, never look into a child’s face and recognising my own or my husband’s features.
Our journey with the fertility treatments ended not necessarily by our own choice, but we were advised by our specialist that it is probably futile to pursue IVF further. So we were forced to redirect our efforts and focus on adoption. During this time we read a book “Adopted for Life” by Russell Moore which helped tremendously.
I was initially worried whether I would have to carry the burden and pain of infertility for the rest of my life, but our Lord was and is faithful! I always tell people that God did a miracle in my heart once we started the adoption process. The moment we decided to move on, I felt as if a dead weight was lifted from my shoulders. I felt free! For the first time in so many years I could see pregnant women and not feel as if I wanted to break down and sob. I could attend friends’s baby showers without feeling resentful and pitying myself. I could start looking at baby clothes in the shops and not despair that I will never experience the joy of buying clothes for my little babies. What a blessing! What a miracle!
It is 5 years now since our last effort to fall pregnant, and my heart is filled with gratefulness and joy! Grateful that I could experience the miracle of adoption. Grateful that I am blessed with two beautiful children. Grateful that I could learn so much from our Heavenly Father about how He adopted us into His family. Grateful that I can be a mommy! I am filled with joy when I see my husband playing with our kids. I am overwhelmed with joy when my little girl throws her arms around me and tells me: “I love you to bits!!” .
There are definitely still days that I wonder what it would have felt like to experience pregnancy. There are times that I wonder what our biological children would have looked like, or how their personalities would have been. But when these emotions come and linger a little bit longer than I want them to, I choose to rejoice and praise our Lord God and thank Him for this blessing!
Read the post “Are You Done Trying? On mourning, healing and accepting infertility” here.
Children come into families in different ways – some by caeserian section, some by natural birth and some through adoption. In our case its been adoption.
After trying to conceive for several years, going through numerous tests and procedures without any positive outcome we decided it was time to investigate adoption. Before we got married, while going through a premarital course we discussed how we would handle infertility and decided then already that we would definitely keep adoption open as an option if it gets to that. We even went as far as to say that even if we were to have our own biological children we would still like to adopt “one day”.
December 2009 we were finally faced with one of the biggest decisions of our lives so far – to stop fertility treatment and pursue adoption or carry on with the hope that we might conceive someday. During our December vacation we both read the book “Adopted for Life” by Russell Moore. This might have been the most important book that focused our efforts and energy into the adoption process.
Back home after our holidays we started finding out about the process and the various options. In the end we decided to go with a private social worker as it was common knowledge that this route was by far the easiest and least tedious. But still little did we know about all the paperwork, home studies, police clearance, family interviews etc etc.
By June that year our profile was ready and all the paperwork done – we were ready to be “paper pregnant”! A few weeks later my mom phoned me about a friend of their neighbour that knew about a young girl that was pregnant. Due to her circumstances she was unable to keep her baby.
Would we send our profile to them? This wasn’t the first time we would hear about a situation like this. So we actually didn’t give too much thought to it but did forward our profile.
3 weeks later I got a phone call on a winter’s afternoon. It was the pregnant girl’s sister saying that her sister wanted us to adopt her baby if we still wanted to! Wow! I had to pinch mysef and relive the conversation a few times before I realised that this was really happening!!
A week later our social worker flew down from Cape Town and we all arranged to meet at O.R. Tambo Airport. The emotions were surreal. What would she look like? What will she think when she meets us? Will she change her mind?! Finally the day arrived and we went to the airport. I spotted her immediately in the Spur and my first thoughts were – Beautiful!! She had big blue eyes, porcelain white skin and a shy smile. The meeting went well and we arranged to go with her to the next gynaecologist appointment. There we met our beautiful daughter for the first time on the sonar screen! The next few weeks would be characterized by an emotional rollercoaster ride! Excitement mixed with anxious thoughts – was this really happening?!
Finally the big day – 7 October 2010 – arrived! What a strange mix of emotions… We left our home early to avoid the traffic to Johannesburg – we couldn’t be late for the birth of our daughter!! We met our biological mom and her sister in the labour ward and had a special time together, exchanging gifts. Nina’s biological mom made her a quilt with her date of birth on it. We treasure it and keep it safe to give it to Nina at the right time as part of her special story.
Just after 8am our perfect gift was delivered by c/section! I was in the theatre along with our very brave biological mom’s sister. After the paediatrician checked her, he handed her to me and I could hold my daughter for the first time! A true heart-stopping moment!! I was admitted to the labour ward with Nina and was her mommy from her first breath! I will always thank and praise our Lord for this incredible privilege! After 2 days we were all discharged and it was time to say goodbye. It was sad to greet everyone, but our hearts were full!
Now Nina is 3 1/2! She is a joy – exuberant, full of life, laughter and adventure! I truly hope that one day I will be able to tell her in as much detail as possible about the brave, selfless act of love her “tummy-mommy” did by entrusting her into our care! We thank God our Father for the special privilege He has given us to experience the joy of parenthood and the wonder of adoption!
“A Christian understanding of the world sees a child’s character not as genetically determined but as shaped to a significant degree by parental discipleship and discipline.”
“We need a battalion of Christians ready to adopt, foster, and minister to orphans. But that means we need Christians ready to care for real orphans, with all the brokenness and risk that comes with it. We need Christians who can reflect the adopting power of the gospel, which didn’t seek out a boutique nursery but a household of ex-orphans who were found wallowing in our own blood, with Satan’s genes in our bloodstreams.”
Russell D. Moore