My Journey to Joy

February 11, 2015

10 Ways You Can Help An Adoptive Family

Filed under: Adoption 101,Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM

The process of adopting a child can be long and difficult, but the real journey for an adoptive family begins after their new child comes home. It can be difficult to know how to appropriately offer support to families who welcome children home through adoption and even the best-intentioned friends and family members can do things that actually discourage adoptive parents.

So, if you want to help an adoptive family, try these 10 things instead.

1. Give them space. The parents need time to bond with their child, and too many adults in the child’s life may complicate the bonding process and confuse the child. The adoptive family may need breathing room to adjust to all the changes in their family, so call first and ask them when would be a good time to visit – and be patient if it isn’t right away!

2. Honor boundaries. Ask the parents about boundaries before engaging with a newly adopted child, and then respect those boundaries. Often adopted children should not be shown affection and care by anyone other than their new parents until they have had a chance to fully attach to their new family.

3. Share the love. Be careful not to ignore other children in the family. This can cause resentment with the new sibling(s) and leaves parents the difficult task of answering questions like, “Why am I not as special as my new brother?”

4. Word watch. Be thoughtful about what you say in front of children. It is not beneficial for children to hear questions about how difficult or expensive their adoption process was or to hear comments about how saintly their parents must be for letting them into the family.

5. Respect their privacy.  Do not ask prying questions or expect parents to share details of the child’s background and biological family history. Many families choose not to share their child’s history to respect the adoptee’s privacy.

6. Embrace honesty. Ask the parents how they are doing, and don’t be shocked or judgmental when they share struggles. This does not mean they regret adopting – it just means adoption is hard! Be their friend and encourager as they share struggles.

7. Bring community to them. The early months with a newly adopted child can feel very lonely and isolated as the parents often need to stay at home with the child while they attach and adjust. Get creative. Bring dessert to their house and sit and chat after the kids are in bed. Find a night when dad can be home with the child and you can take mom out for some adult conversation.

8. Find practical ways to serve. If they have other children, offer to take them out for a bit. Mow the yard. Bring meals. Clean their house. Offer to come over late after the kids are asleep and let the parents take a walk around the neighborhood or go out for ice cream together.

9. Respect their parenting methods. Parenting and disciplining children who have experienced loss, trauma, abuse, and/or neglect requires a completely different parenting approach.  Even if their parenting choices seem unconventional to you, respect their choices.

10. Rejoice with them. Point out and rejoice in all the sweet little victories along the way as little hearts heal. Celebrate with adoptive parents as their child learns to give and receive love and to be a part of their forever family.


© 2013 iMOM. All Rights Reserved. Family First, All Pro Dad, iMOM, and Family Minute with Mark Merrill are registered trademarks.


March 6, 2013

Supporting Adopting Families by Sarah Andrews

Filed under: Adoption 101 — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM

How Can You Help? Support for Adopting Families with Printable


Love one another. Bear one another’s burdens. Care for the orphan and widow. How do we live these scriptural commands in our families and churches? Perhaps we don’t know WHAT to do? I’d like to share some practical ideas to help you support families going through adoption.


Cover them with prayer, and be sure they know you are praying. One of the blessings through our adoption was getting to know people in our church family through their prayers for us. Several members we hardly knew checked on us periodically to see how we were doing and sent us notes. How encouraging to know believers were surrounding us in prayer!

Ask how to pray for them. Perhaps they have hit a roadblock, are meeting with a birth family, or perhaps there is no news…for too long.

Educate yourself

When you know the process, you can better support those going through it. My husband and I anxiously attended an information meeting at an adoption agency. We discovered that many common fears about domestic adoption were truth mixed with error. This eased our initial anxiety. Now, we try to correct misconceptions when we hear them. An informed person spreads truth!

So, attend a free information meeting at an agency. Learn about foster care, domestic adoption, and international adoption to consider the differences! Read! I highly recommend Russell Moore’s Adopted for Life. As you educate yourself, don’t be surprised if the Lord begins working in your heart about adoption!

Be excited!

Share their joy and anticipation. Adoption can be a long road with disappointment, delay, and discouragement. Families experience a mix of emotions. They are “expecting,” but don’t know how old the child will be, when he will arrive, or how long they will wait. But, they are excited to expand their family! Don’t be afraid to join them in their wait. Don’t hold back out of fear. Do adoptions fall through? Does heartbreak happen? Yes. But, isn’t it worth sacrificing a little personal comfort and emotional safety to love another family? To love an orphan?

Celebrate various milestones (paperwork submitted, home study completed, or being matched with a child) with a card or dessert! Drop off a gift appropriate for their anticipated child’s age range. Tell them how excited you are to meet their little one!

Celebrate when their child comes home. Offer to greet them at the airport. (Don’t forget the balloons!) Bring a meal. Wash laundry or clean, so they can bond with their new family member! Be considerate if they need time getting acquainted as a family, and ask permission to visit instead of just dropping in. When you visit, consider fixing the snack or doing the dishes, so they can enjoy holding their little one! Host a shower when they are ready–either when they are matched with their child, or when he arrives. Don’t be afraid to do this before everything is “final.” Giving a shower when items are needed speaks volumes of love and support. Our friends also blessed us with a party when our adoption was finalized. We praised the Lord together for bringing us through the two-year process. Of course, our cartoon faces on the cake were hilarious!

Sharing their joy includes realizing that adoption is not second best. Adoption is not an infertility treatment. Some couples choose to add to their family through adoption after experiencing infertility, but many do not! They are two separate issues. God builds families with both biological and adopted children. Adoption is a beautiful way the Lord brings families together. Celebrate that!

Offer financial support

Expense is one of the most commonly discussed aspects about adoption. How can you help an adopting family financially? Of course, the most obvious opportunity is giving. Consider living your financial life so you have resources available to share! Has our society become so consumed by acquiring possessions, entertainment, and relaxation that we have nothing left to bless others? Is a boat, travel, or a vacation home more important than helping an orphan get home to a loving family?

Are you thinking, “I don’t have a boat! I barely have food on the table myself!” You can still help financially. Again, educating yourself is vital. Many families fundraise to offset costs. Our friends have used these ideas: garage sales, t-shirt sales, mom-to-mom sales, tutoring, and more. Offer to help brainstorm! Better yet, offer to organize an event for them.Your time is free, but your effort will be an amazing blessing. When you know of a planned fundraising event, spread the word. If it’s a garage sale, donate items!

Learn about available financial support. We were very naïve about this when we adopted. We have since learned of various organizations offering grants and interest-free loans. Discover these opportunities, so you can tell others when they need it!

Consider your speech

Please, don’t use the terms “real” or “your own” for biological children! Adopted children are not pretend. They are as much “our own” as a child born into our family. Do not ever say that adoption is the “easy” way to have a child because one doesn’t experience childbirth. Pregnancy can be difficult physically. Adoption can be long and emotional. One is not “more’ than the other, they are different. Both have the potential for heartbreak. Please don’t share all the horror stories you’ve heard about failed adoptions. We know them and are already anxious. Be supportive and happy!

Adopting families don’t want people walking on proverbial eggshells around them, either. Most insensitive comments people make are probably not intended to be hurtful. People are just careless about their speech. Take a moment to consider your words. Ponder your level of relationship with the family before you ask personal details. If you are asking sensitive questions, be aware of others around you who may overhear. Seek permission to ask, and allow them not to answer if they desire. These few things may prevent hurting someone with our words.

I urge you to consider the child’s perspective! Difficult circumstances often surround the reason the child is available for adoption. That is personal family information. If the child is adopted as a baby, he isn’t aware if you ask all sorts of details about his birth family and the adoption. But, babies grow up. The child should have freedom to disclose that personal information, or not.

Please prayerfully consider how you can implement these ideas to support those in your families and churches walking through adoption. As we share the burden and serve each other with love, may God fill our homes and churches with children grafted in through adoption.

Want a reminder of how you can help? Print this PDF and put it on your refrigerator or filing cabinet. There’s two per sheet–one for you and one for a friend.

October 6, 2011

What Not To Say

Filed under: Adoption 101 — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM

July 28, 2011

Types of Adoption

Filed under: Adoption 101 — aunthoddy @ 6:00 PM

There seems to be a lot of confusion about adoption.  We’ve all heard this or that story, some great, some awful, that shape our view of adoption.  Did you know that there are at least three main types of adoption?

Traditional/Confidential   Semi-Open   Fully Disclosed/Open

Most international adoptions are, by necessity, traditional or “closed.”  There is usually very little chance of ever connecting with a birthparent, for obvious reasons.  This was also the norm in the U.S. until the late 1900’s.  Studies have since shown that adoptees tend to cope better if they have some information, or personal history, so a move has been made toward a greater openness.  Also, birthmothers find security in being able to observe that their child is thriving, making their decision to place a little easier.  For your information, the three types:

“Traditional/Confidential- In a confidential adoption, neither the adoptive parents nor the birthparents know each other, nor do they ever meet.  Instead, all of the arrangements and paperwork occur through a middleman, usually an adoption agency or an attorney.  A confidential adoption doesn’t mean that the adoptive parents and birthparents know nothing about each other; it means they have no identifying information about each other.”

We have a file on them, they have a file on us, but we have no way of finding/contacting one another.  Some birthmothers still choose this option, but it is fairly rare.

“Semi-Open- An adoption in which the adoptive parents and birthparents meet once or twice on a first-name-only basis.  In addition, they may agree to exchange pictures and letters on an annual or fairly infrequent basis through the adoption arranger, such as an attorney or adoption agency.”

I believe this is still fairly commonly done.  This gives a sense of security, while still providing some interaction.

“Fully Disclosed/Open- Every adoption of this type will be different, based on the type of relationship that the birthparents and the adoptive parents have agreed to.  Both identifying and non-identifying information about the adoptive parents and birthparents is shared, which can include last names, addresses, and telephone numbers.  In some open adoptions, the birthparent and the adoptive family know each other and have ongoing communication about the child…”

As you can see, this one has infinite variables that depend on our wishes and the wishes of the birthmother. 

Right now, Daniel & I would like something probably on the conservative side of open.  We want to meet our birthmother, send her pictures and updates, and maybe even meet at a neutral location each year.  A lot of this will be up to her, though.  Usually, birthmothers ask for more openness than they actually take advantage of, and a large number tend to “disappear” after a few years.  We’ll see what happens!

June 23, 2011


Filed under: Adoption 101 — aunthoddy @ 8:09 PM
Tags: , ,

Do you know how to speak the language of adoption?  🙂  I’m learning lots of new things, and I’d like to share some with you.

Words carry a lot of power.  A simple phrase can pack a lot of meaning, even when we don’t realize it!  I’ve been working on my attitudes, prejudices, and perspectives, but I need to work on my verbage too!  Here is a little list of better ways to say things pertaining to adoption:

Don’t Say:                                                    Instead Say:

Real parent                                                  Biological parent/birthparent

Is adopted                                                    Was adopted

Put up for adoption                                      Placed with an adoptive family

Gave away her child                                    Made an adoption plan

Adoptive child/parent                                  Child/parent

Can you see the difference?!  Just minor changes, but so significant.  I’m working on these; I still slip sometimes!

Recently someone told me that I wouldn’t love an adopted child as much as I would “one of my own.”  I guess she knows, from her vast experience of only having biological children!  (sarcasm…it made me mad!)  If/when God blesses us with a child or children, they will be ours!  Not our adopted child, not our sort-of child- our child.  Will everything be the same as a biological child?  Of course not!  But, oh yes, they will be loved as much!

March 18, 2011

Home Study- Inspection

Filed under: Adoption 101 — aunthoddy @ 8:26 PM

Tuesday was our house inspection for our home study.  We didn’t know what to expect, even after researching all that we could.  Apparently each social worker does things a bit differently.

We’ve been preparing for weeks.  We’ve cleaned, painted, cleaned, set up a nursery, cleaned, installed fire alarms, cleaned, baby-proofed the house, cleaned…  You get the picture!  This session also included our 2nd interview with Miss Karen, our social worker.

Daniel was really nervous, but I wasn’t.  I attribute that to your prayers; thank you!!!  Our visit went well.  Miss Karen was very complimentary, and seemed pleased with what she saw.  We’re very thankful to have another step completed!

We have three more interviews to complete our home study.  Daniel & I have been working hard on lots of paperwork.  I also got fingerprinted (again!), set up an appointment for a physical, and scheduled our next interviews & a training class.  Phew!  I’m glad it’s Spring Break so I can get some of this out of the way!

February 24, 2011


Filed under: Adoption 101,Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 9:14 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

On Monday we met with our social worker.  Everything was fine, but it was a pretty unpleasant experience.  In the information portion, the social worker told us lots of scary possibilities of birth fathers, husbands of birth mothers, and potential legal battles.  She mentioned thousands of dollars that “might” be added to our fees if things went a certain way.

Then the questions… 

Here is a perfect stranger asking the most intimate things!  Something inside me wanted to draw back and say, “How dare you?!  What right do you have to ask me that?!”  I realize, of course, that we’ve given them that right.  Adoption means signing over a large amount of privacy.  But still, it stung.

And it brought up those old feelings.  Why do I have to go through all of this?  Why do some people “accidentally get pregnant at a party,” but I have to pay huge sums of money, have my private life dissected, and go through reams of paperwork?

When I came home, I felt like I had been pummeled emotionally.  I started to think, “We can’t do this!  We’re not rich.  What were we thinking?  How did we think this was possible?”

Tuesday morning, my devotions were over Deuteronomy 1:19-31

“The Lord had commanded us to leave Mount Sinai and go to the hill country that belonged to the Amorites, so we started out into the huge desert.  You remember how frightening it was, but soon we were at Kadesh-Barnea, and I told you, ‘We have reached the hill country.  It belongs to the Amorites now, but the Lord our God is giving it to us.  He is the same God our ancestors worshiped, and he has told us to go in and take this land, so don’t hesitate and be afraid….Don’t worry!  The Lord our God will lead the way.  He will fight on our side…you know that the Lord has taken care of us the whole time we’ve been in the desert, just as you might carry one of your children.'”

The prayer at the end of the devotional was this:

Thank you, Lord for all the wonderful things You have done for me in the past, that You are doing for me today, and that You will do for me in the future.  Keep me from fear and discouragement as I look at the challenges ahead.  Thank You that You go before me with a plan for battle.  I look to you for guidance so I may possess all You have for me. 

Tuesday night, I was reading another devotional book about the names of God.  The name I was studying was El Elyon, God Most High.  The prayer at the end was this:

El Elyon, thank You that there is no problem in my life too large for You to handle.

Overwhelmed by grace.  That God would arrange those assurances for me.  I’m behind in my devotions, as usual, but those were the ones I read on Tuesday.  I know you have been praying for me, and I thank you.  God has helped us through another step, another challenge, past another fear.  It will happen again, but I hope that each time I learn to turn to Him more and more quickly, and worry less.

He is in charge of this adoption.  And I’m pretty sure He can handle it!

February 10, 2011


Filed under: Adoption 101 — aunthoddy @ 9:20 PM
Tags: , , , ,

On Tuesday, we went to visit Lifeline Adoption Agency.  We’ve researched them on the Internet and asked questions via phone, but we wanted to meet face-to-face and hear about their programs.  We had planned on two thirty-minute interviews.  The first interview lasted thirty minutes.  The second, over an hour!

We loved them!

Their passion for Christ and children was evident.  We got to ask so many questions, and they shared tons of information.  I took lots of notes, but it was still hard to soak it all in.

Our journey through infertility, and now toward adoption has been a gradual one.

Research, think, talk, pray.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.

Each step has seemed excruciatingly slow, but it seemed foolish to rush something this enormous, this life-changing, with eternal consequences.

At this point, we are pursuing domestic adoption.  That means that we will go through a series of steps, some easy, some hard, some frustrating, some painful.  On Tuesday, we were given a packet that included an application.  We get to pay $250 for the privilege of asking to be considered.  😉  We started working on the application Tuesday, and we’re almost finished.

7 pages of questions regarding “child desired”

Acceptable/Willing to Discuss/Not Acceptable

Slight Limp

Needs Leg Braces

Missing Limb

Is In Wheel Chair



And on, and on, and on…  Everything you could ever think of, and then many more, each requiring prayer, thought, research, and discussion!

8 pages of general information, references, and financial info

Talk about getting into the nitty-gritty!  How much do we spend on eating out?  Our Internet service?  Our garbage pickup?  What are our cars worth?  Our house?  Our retirement?  This is just the general form.  They’ll get personal later!

3 pages for our doctrine & testimonies

I think everybody should do this!  It was really neat to read each other’s testimonies, and re-affirm what we believe.

So now, we send it in.  And wait to hear.  (Have you noticed a waiting theme?!)  If we’re accepted…

We’ll have a home study done.  This means that a social worker (from our agency) will come to our house and check it out to see if it is clean, safe, and has a place for a child.  They will also interview us, together and separately, to determine if we’re good parent material.

Once we’re approved (hopefully), we’ll put together a portfolio.  This is a little book about us, including pictures and text.  Birth mothers will look at this, to decide if they want us to parent their child.  Like everything else, this is in God’s hands.  Birth mothers sometimes choose a couple for really odd reasons, like a dog, a car, or a food!

Once a birth mother chooses us, we will be notified by the agency.  This is the hard part.  There are no guarantees in this process.  She may decide not to adopt, or choose another couple for any or no reason.  We may anticipate “our” baby for weeks or months, only to have the whole thing fall through.

If we make it all of the way to birth, there are still uncertainties.  We will likely be able to pick up “our” baby from the hospital when he/she is born.  There are still 5-7 days when the birth mother can change her mind for any/no reason.

This is my greatest fear.

I may have “my” baby home for several days, only to have it taken away.  I can’t imagine that pain.  I pray it doesn’t happen.  But it is a possibility that we need to face.  For this reason, we don’t intend to publicize our actual placement until things are certain.  You will know about it, but we don’t plan any announcements & etc until after things are finalized.

So this is my update!  I finally feel as if we’re moving forward.  Some have remarked that I don’t seems as excited as they expected.  I am excited.  But it’s bittersweet.  I’ve had a lot of pain the last few years, and this process promises more of the same.  I’m convinced that the end result will be worth it, but I’m bracing myself.  That said…

We started getting out stuff for the nursery!  Oh, wow, so much cute stuff!  Daniel painted last Saturday, and I’m hoping to start decorating soon!  And Kid’s Market this year…

January 14, 2011


Filed under: Adoption 101 — aunthoddy @ 9:27 PM
Tags: , ,

I am typicallly a fairly confident, somewhat impulsive person.  I generally know what I want, and I set up a plan to achieve that goal.

That doesn’t work so well with life-changing decisions that involve God & my spouse.

Those two have had me waiting for several years now.  It’s hard.  I’m so tired of waiting.  I’m so ready to move ahead, pursue, make something happen.

But the stakes are too high.

My faith, my marriage- these are worth waiting.  Honoring God and my husband are not optional.  Or easy.

Daniel & I both feel that God has led us to adopt.  Now the decisions really start!  Most fertile couples decide two things: 1- Let’s have a baby!  2- How about now?!  The choices associated with adoption are almost endless:

Domestic or International?

Boy or Girl?

Special needs?  How much?  Which ones?

How many?  One child, two?  Sibling group?

What age?

Open?  Closed?  Semi-open?

What agency?

Which country?  What race?

How will we pay for it?

At this point, I’m torn between signing up for international adoption (generally a more sure thing) or hoping that someone finds out about us and “gives” us their baby.  But what if I’m waiting for that, when I should be pursuing international adoption?  Or what if I start an international adoption, and…  You see how it goes.

Most couples who set out to adopt do end up adopting.  However, many change agencies, countries & et cetera during the process.  This costs time and money.  I really don’t want to do that.  So I want to be sure.

Right baby/child, right place, right time.

I know without a doubt that God can make this happen.  We are the uncertain variable in this equation.

And we so desperately want to do the right thing.

So, here’s where we are right now.  This is totally subject to change!

Leaning toward international

Thinking seriously about Bethany Christian Services as an agency

Open to any race, but concerned about our location and the impact on our future children

Age- Infant to two years

Minor special needs (ie- cleft palate, things correctable by simple surgery…)

Would love two children, boy and girl, possibly sibling group

We have “gone public” with our decision to adopt.  If God would use that as an avenue, we’d be very pleased.  If you know of a friend of a friend with a child they are unable to parent, please do let us know!

January 11, 2011


Filed under: Adoption 101 — aunthoddy @ 9:30 PM

I’m a resource nut.  I’ve scouted out infertility magazines, chat rooms, podcasts, books- you name it.  I’ve read, cried, prayed, listened.

Now, I’m so excited to be researching in another direction!

I realize that I’m more intensely interested in this than the rest of you, but I thought I’d share some of the things that I’ve come across.  You can click on some, listen to portions, or just come back later; whatever works for you!

Finding the Right Child for You

#83 talks about some of the choices we’re praying about

Wrapping Around Adoptive Families

This is a little booklet put out by Focus on the Family…and I have a copy just for you!  Let me know if you’d like one!

I bought this book last week.

And this one.

Somehow I ended up with two copies of this book!

I enjoyed this podcast.

I also appreciated this interview with the Chapmans.

I’m sure I’ll be sharing more “stuff” as I find it.

Next to God, and of course Daniel, I consider you to be my greatest resource!  Thanks for all of your support!

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: