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.


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November 7, 2013


Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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I wasn’t going to share this with anyone, but just as I felt compelled to do it, I feel that I should share.  This was my experience last November.

Today I went way out of my comfort zone.  I bathed and dressed my baby.  I printed off directions to somewhere I’ve never been.  I loaded up the diaper bag and off we went.  I texted my husband to tell him where I was going.  I thought of lots of reasons not to go.  (I really didn’t have time, I needed to be back to take my son to his grandma’s for babysitting, this is scary and uncomfortable…)  I kept going.  My husband said he’d be praying for me.  I cried.  10 miles and 21 minutes later, I arrived.

The building was an unassuming red brick, 1970’s style.  The signs were a discreet brown, with white letters.  There was one car in the parking lot.  A gentle breeze was blowing leaves, so that they skittered down the street.  Cars crunched acorns when they passed.  Other than that, it was very quiet.

At first I walked up and down the sidewalk, then I sat my son on a brick wall.  He played with my keys, while I prayed and cried.  And cried.  And cried.  He’s the reason I had to go.  To Planned Parenthood.  Because when I look at him I am so thankful that his birthmom chose life.  That my baby has a family who loves him dearly.  That he is.

Seeing that building, and knowing what happens inside was horrifying.  Looking at the dumpster out back made me want to throw up, wondering how the aborted babies’ remains were disposed.  I prayed for forgiveness for my country and my apathy.  I prayed for light and truth for the staff.  I prayed for hope and God’s love for birthmoms considering abortion.  I prayed for Christians to answer the call to provide support and help to families in such desperate situations.

On the surface, it was an uneventful trip.  I saw one person as I walked back to my car- a building inspector looking at a nearby property.  I didn’t accomplish any great feat, or have an exciting story to tell.  I just went.  And prayed.  And I’m changed…

November is National Adoption Month.  Adoption is an option.

November 6, 2013

Common Objections to Adoption

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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“Do yourself a favor: revisit your list of objections to adoption.  Draw a line through each one that relates to your level of comfort or your fear about money.  What do you have left?  Is that all?  You might be closer to hearing God’s dream for you than ever before.”

October 10, 2013


Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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Those familiar with adoption realize that it comes with much loss.  A child loses his/her original family.  Bio-parents may die, have their children forcefully removed, or surrender them for the hope of a better future.  Adoptive parents may have lost their dream of biological parenthood, feeling a baby grow for 9 months, and being there to hear their baby’s first cries.  We live in a fallen world, and there is loss.

So often people talk to me with stars in their eyes about adoption.  And believe me, I love adoption!  I want people to be excited about the possibilities.  But it is real, and it is hard.  It involves sacrifice.  And there is always loss.

My husband and I tried to prepare ourselves for the pain that a second adoption would inevitably bring.  We worked to steel our emotions.  But there is always something unexpected…

In the midst of our early grief and trauma over my grandmother’s murder, my father was taken to the hospital with heart attack symptoms.  A procedure was scheduled.  Just routine, but there is always a chance of something going horribly wrong; I knew I wanted to be there.  That morning, as I bathed my little man, I got a phone call.  A friend knew of a birthmother looking to place her sweet, 4-month-old daughter; could she tell her about us?  That set into motion a day of frantic phone calls to our social worker and lawyer, all while getting to the hospital and waiting through my dad’s procedure.  (Which mercifully turned out fine!)  Everything was moving forward at a breathless pace…until I got the text: “She only wants someone in our family.”  And it was over.  I know now that I wasn’t meant to be her mommy- but, oh, I wanted to be!  I wanted her, to love her.  An adoptive mommy can fall in love awfully quickly, without even trying.  And I did.  And now there’s loss…

A few weeks ago I met a precious woman who asked me to parent her baby.  We totally “clicked,” and she said she knew God had sent her to me.  (And I believe He did.)  I tried to tell myself that these things often fall through.  I told my social worker “just in case she called and asked about us.”  And lo and behold, she did.  She followed through.  She set up a meeting.  And six days later she had a miscarriage.  And there is loss.  I ache for her, and for myself.  And my heart cries, “Why?!”

We haven’t even completed our homestudy.  We weren’t prepared (not that you can, really) for the emotional roller coaster that is adoption.  I don’t know the “why’s.”  And I hurt, so much.  But I know the Who.  My faith is in Him.  I cling to the promise that my God is working things for my good.  I cling to hope in His perfect plan.  I mourn the loss…and await the redemption of this pain.

September 12, 2013


Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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If you had heard the conversation in our SUV on the way home from church, you might just think I’m crazy.  Little man had dropped off to sleep in his carseat, after a week of VBS and a big Sunday.  As we headed home, I turned to my husband and said: “We’re heading into a spiritual battle.”

He’s used to me, so he just listened, and waited for me to explain.  “It’s like that guy said: ‘adoption is war.’*  Satan hates what we’re doing.  Adoption is God using His people to redeem wrong choices and bad situations.  It’s us being God’s hands and feet, and showing love and sacrifice.  It’s showing God’s glory all over the place, where Satan had been winning.  He’s gonna hate that.”

My husband may have nodded, but I was on a roll now!  “He’s going to try to make it hard.  He’s going to try to discourage us.  Paperwork that seems endless is more than just paperwork; he’s trying to stop us.  Crazy expenses that we know we can’t handle; that’s him trying to stop this.  Disappointments and heartache; he’ll use it all.  We’re heading into a fight.”

It’s certainly a different way to look at adoption, but starting to adopt for a second time, I really believe it’s accurate.  Adoption is hard for a reason.  It’s fought, actively opposed.  Because Satan doesn’t want it to happen.  I think most often apathy is all he needs at his disposal.  Then maybe a sense of inadequacy.  Throw in some fear (change. unknowns. comfort. money. pain.)  A few “what if’s” and horror stories can go a long way…

I don’t plan to face this unarmed.  I’m asking God to remind me that this is His fight.  That He loves our next child more than we ever can.  That He has been fighting for them since before they were conceived.  He’s already won on the cross.  He is our powerful ally.  And we can win…and the victory will be God’s.



September 5, 2013


Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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I didn’t know it would happen this quickly.  All of the emotions, rushing back.  I feel as if I have been on a sabbatical.  Life has been fairly calm, full of sweet moments with my husband and baby boy.  I haven’t had much to worry about.  We’ve settled into a nice routine.  It’s been nice.  So nice.  And nothing’s changed, not really.  But getting that package in the mail… “application for potential adoptive families”  And everything’s changed.

At first I was unaware.  Things were going on below the surface.  Then I realized I’m crying over anything.  My emotions are at surface level.  And the dread…

Twice now, when we tell people we’re adopting, they’re so excited for us!  So sweet, so supportive.  I feel a little phony when they ask, “Are you excited?!”  This answer is complicated.  Yes, I am excited.  But no, that’s not my primary emotion…yet.

I’m happy.  I’ve settled into my new normal.  Adjusted.  And I like it here.  And then I look at adoption, and I see my world radically changing.  I see the inevitable heartbreak involved in the process.  And my wimpy self asks, “Are you crazy?!”  Throughout most of my life, when I have seen a painful prospect on the horizon, I haven’t charted a course directly toward it.  But here we are.  Marching right into hurt.  Because it’s worth it.  Because God has called us.  Because it’s not about us anyway.

And this time around, I’m actively fighting the fear.  I have a playlist of songs that I sing along with in the car, usually with tears streaming down my face.  Sometimes through gritted teeth.  But I keep singing.  I’m quoting Bible verses to myself; verses about fear, about trust, about God’s great love and His plan for me.  I’m sharing my struggles with friends, who are so gracious to encourage me and lift me up in prayer.  (I love that phrase: “Lift me up in prayer”!)

This is too much.  More than we can handle.  Again.  I’m so thankful that “God is not restricted to my strong points”! ~Marye Shivers

I’m reminding myself how big my God is, and how easy it will be for Him to fulfill His plan.  All I have to do is show up!  So I will…

*I wrote this about a month ago, and it’s amazing what God has done since then in releasing me from fear!  He is so good…

September 3, 2013


Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 2:18 PM
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In 2008, my husband and I began our journey toward a family.  I had a pretty complete picture in my mind of what that family would look like, and how it would come into being.  I must confess, I didn’t give much thought to what God’s picture of our family would be, just assuming it must match mine.  (Ignorance, arrogance, immaturity?)

Giving up my idea of perfection and turning towards God’s plan was a long, hard process, that continues to this day.  His vision for our family has been more than I could have dreamed or even imagined.  (Isn’t He great that way?!)  And it appears He isn’t finished yet…

We’d like to announce that we are expecting Baby #2!  We don’t know when; the rules are all different with adoption!  We only know that we are carrying another child and birthmom in our hearts, exactly where God has placed them.  We’re aware that the “labor” involved may be quite difficult, but we’re again turning to God for His strength and help through the adoption process.  We know that He will “deliver” our child at the perfect time.

I don’t know what our family will look like.  Will my children be close in age, or years apart?  What gender will this baby be?  What race?  Will our family grow to include a close relationship with a birthmom?  More grandparents?  How old will I be when my second child is born?  Will he/she come home from the hospital, a foster home, or somewhere else?  So many questions…I know God knows the answers.  And He has a perfect picture in mind…

July 25, 2013


Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
Tags: , , , ,

I’ve been mulling something over in my mind recently.  I’ve come to a few personal conclusions, but I still have more questions than answers.

I love a good joke.  I love to laugh until tears stream down my face and I accidentally snort (which embarrasses me, so I laugh even harder!).  I’ve pulled pranks by disguising meatloaf as chocolate cake, arranging for all of my co-workers to call in sick, and etc.  I’ve laughed when my students pulled a silly prank on me, but I shared with them my criteria for a “good” prank: it must not damage property, and the recipient must find it funny as well.  Pretty simple.  But how many times have you seen everyone laughing, while one person ducks away, embarrassed, to hide their tears?  I don’t find that funny.

A few weeks ago, Ann Voskamp wrote an amazing post on mental health.  (*You really must read it; so good!)  She told about her family’s dark time when her mother was admitted for psychiatric help, and she was instructed to tell no one.  Then this: “I once heard a pastor tell the whole congregation that he had lived next to the loonie bin and I looked at the floor when everyone laughed and they didn’t know how I loved my mama. I looked to the floor when they laughed…”

All my life I’ve heard and shared jokes about different races and people groups.  Some are innocent and truly funny.  I believe a mixed group of people could stand around laughing about them.  Others weren’t.  If that person had been standing there, the joke would have fallen flat, or never been said.

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.  Luke 6:45

I was laughing the other day about a woman who came to an event sky-high on something.  Later God showed me my lack of compassion for her.  Her situation was to be pitied, not giggled about.  Sometimes laughter is how we deal with awkward situations, things that make us nervous or are traumatic.  I understand that.  I don’t know where my own line needs to be, much less someone else’s!  I just know that I was wrong to laugh at her condition, ludicrous though it was.

Daniel & I tried for many years to grow our family, first through pregnancy, then adoption.  It was a long, grueling process.  Our hearts were ripped right open.  And women frustrated with their children have laughingly offered, “Do you want mine?”  A woman with an unplanned pregnancy recently joked, “Maybe I’ll just give the baby to you!”  I automatically smiled and gave a soft laugh, but there was nothing funny about it.

I’ve sometimes been horrified when I’m teasing a friend to see a flash of pain or anger in their eyes.  Then I know I’ve gone too far, or hit a sensitive spot.  I’ll usually apologize and make a mental note to avoid that subject when joking.  Causing pain isn’t funny.

I understand that we can’t avoid all offence; we’re human, and we will accidentally hurt someone’s feelings sometimes.  There are complexities of situation, motivation, relationship…  But what if we really thought?  What if we filtered each joke by how we’d feel if we fit the stereotype being needled?  What if we decided that people aren’t a joke?  That everyone deserves respect, whether we like their religion, race, politics, sexual orientation, handicap, or whatever-it-is-about-them-that-is-different-from-us?  There’s plenty to laugh about, plenty of silly, innocent things.  I’m editing my own humor.

*Here is a link to Ann’s post:

July 17, 2013

Orphanage Trip- China

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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Our family has just welcomed another sweet little cousin from China!  This was written by her daddy:
I am overwhelmed with both joy and sorrow from our trip to Amy’s orphanage yesterday. It was a great trip to capture pictures and video that we will be able to share with her someday when she has so many questions about her beginnings. The trip was priceless!  What is overtaking my thoughts and emotions are the little …ones left behind. I cannot help to think that anybody that would actually experience with their own eyes and see these little ones that God Himself created and see their need, they would be stirred to action. I have asked myself so many times why our family would choose to adopt again with so much sacrifice in time and financial resources. But I got my answer yesterday. The need is so much greater than my loss! I cannot express in words how much my love for Amy has grown in such a short amount of time. This is only possible through the love that my heavenly Father has instilled inside of me. I feel it is the same love that God poured out to me through His Son Jesus when He adopted me into His family. I cannot think of a better way to serve Him and follow His lead in obedience.  ~ Mitch

May 29, 2013

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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A Mother’s Day plea to stop equating adoption with abandonment

By Nina Easton,

Nina EastonMay 11, 2013 12:52 AM EDTThe Washington Post

Nina Easton is Fortune magazine’s Washington columnist and a Fox News analyst.

In today’s America, a single woman facing a surprise pregnancy is likely to consider just two options: abortion or single motherhood. The third choice, adoption, carries such a social stigma that domestic placement of infants has plummeted — even as the number of parents desperate for a baby grows.

Birth mothers choose life, and a family, for their child. But this choice is rarely celebrated. Women routinely face family, friends and even health-care providers who think that adoption equals abandonment, according to researchers and conversations with birth mothers. “Just look at the language people use: ‘She’s giving up her baby,’ ” says Kathy Kunkel, founder of the Utah-based agency A Act of Love. “In fact, a birth mother is choosing a good home for her baby.”

Birth mothers in the United States each year number in only the thousands, compared with approximately 1.2 million abortions performed annually, according to Guttmacher Institute estimates, and 1.4 million unexpected unwed births each year. Women bucking the cultural tide generally do not publicize their choice. They are much more willing to admit they have terminated a pregnancy, adoption advocates say, than to say they have placed a live newborn with loving parents.This cultural bias infuses the guidance women receive. Just 1 percent of pregnant women who seek counseling, whether at a church-backed pregnancy crisis center or a clinic where abortions are performed, walk out with an adoption referral, according to the National Council for Adoption. And as council President Charles Johnson told me in an interview: “Your decision is only as good as the information you’re given.”

Russia’s recent ban on adoptions by American parents has drawn attention to the troubled state of international programs, but the U.S. adoption system is also in crisis. Reliable data on American babies placed for adoption are difficult to find. Figures from the adoption councilthat are five years old suggest that annually there are about 18,000 children up to age 2. Only some of those are newborns.

A woman’s decision to carry a baby to term knowing that she will not reap the fruits of motherhood should be treated as an act of bravery and selflessness — the ultimate standards of good motherhood. How did it come to be considered an act of shame?

The numbers offer some insights. Domestic adoptions peaked in 1971 at 90,000 a year — and began a dramatic decline after the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade made abortion legal. Whereas abortion silences the trauma of unexpected pregnancy, birth-mothering trumpets it. Carrying a baby to term invites intrusive questions from friends and strangers alike, and admitting that you are not keeping your baby may incite hostility.

Single motherhood, meanwhile, has become socially acceptable. A majority of births to women under 30 now occur outside marriage. Plenty of single moms carry that off, but what of those who end up in a destructive cycle of poverty, government dependency or abusive partners?

The stigma of adoption even extends to some pro-life evangelical quarters, where, Johnson notes, abortion is cause for seeking forgiveness and moving on, but adoption means giving up on your faith — and your baby. During his years training pro-life counselors at pregnancy crisis centers across the nation, Johnson told me, he would invoke the names of inspiring adoptees from the Bible, including Moses, to make his case.

Tears ran down Adria Anderson’s cheeks as she recounted last month — publicly for the first time — her decision to terminate her surprise pregnancy three years ago. She was too young to raise a child on her own, she explained when we met, and abortion seemed the least bad option. Now it’s a decision she will always regret. “No one ever talked about adoption,” she recalled.

Anderson is helping to lead the adoption council campaign geared toward birth mothers, at “I want to make sure no one has to feel the pain that I do,” she says. “I want to feel proud about the choice I made.”

A full accounting of adoption as an option would not underestimate its emotional challenges — the grief and loss for birth mothers, the uncertainties for adoptive parents operating under a patchwork of state laws. But commonly held myths about domestic adoption would be dispelled. The super-secret affairs of old are largely gone; rather, birth mothers typically choose the family, and adoptive parents share letters and pictures. The baby’s future does not disappear into a black hole.

Adoption should be an empowering option for young women in crisis, knowing that the people around them — family, friends, church — will respect their choice. On this Mother’s Day, I’ll be celebrating the courage of the birth mother who gave our daughter the gift of life — and gave my husband and me the greatest joy of our marriage.

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