Waiting gracefully (Part 2): Tips, advice, and resources

This is a post in the adoption/orphan care series I’m doing in honor of National Adoption Month.    I did not write today’s post.  Today’s guest post is by Megan Johnson, a great friend (and former college roommate and bridesmaid) who is currently in the “waiting” part of the adoption process.   She was kind enough to let me “interview” her about her experience, and yesterday she gave us some insight into what it’s like to wait gracefully. Today she is sharing some advice, tips, and resources that she has found helpful in her journey. 

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Do you have any advice for people who are interested in adopting?

This is a book in and of itself. Ha! My biggest advice would be to truly pray over this decision. Adoption is a calling, for sure. It is NOT a plan B. It is either a plan A or a new plan A. Yes, most adoptions are pursued by those who cannot have children. Many times, it is through those trials that God reveals His plan. That’s okay. But, it is also a calling for those who have children. My practical advice would be to talk with as many adoptive families as you can. Research the types of adoptions, the agencies, or other channels of adoption. Get a good grip of which adoption avenue is best for you and your family. We had done this. When we got to the orientation meeting, we pretty much already had all that information from our research. I didn’t consider the meeting a waste of time, though. I considered it a confirmation that we had done the right thing in researching.

 What about advice for people who want to be supportive of adoption?

First of all, let me say that women who are in the adoption process are excited. They are “expectant mothers.” However, most people don’t view her that way. The public doesn’t view it that way because her belly is not growing, there are no showers, the sex is unknown, and the due date is undetermined. If you are wanting to be supportive, remember to treat her as the “expectant mother” that she is. And, by all means, be thoughtful of what you say! I have seriously been knocked to the floor by some of the comments people actually say without thinking. Remember that this family is praying, hopefully, for the child God chooses for their family. They are NOT going to “get a baby.” No supermarket pickup is going to happen. They are NOT going to be fake parents, as opposed to the birthparents so many refer to as “real parents.” Families pursuing adoption are very excited about THIS child, so please do not tell her you are praying for her to have a “real child” too. Adoptive children are real…last I checked anyway. There is no formula to saying the right thing. It’s as simple as thinking before you speak. Educate yourself on adoption by reading books, blogs, and asking questions to adoptive families who are open to answering them. You should understand that not all adoptive families are interested in answering those questions, and that is okay. No one asked you the details you experienced when giving birth, and they don’t have to give you details of their adoption either. I am very open, and there are many others who are too. Just understand that some families consider it personal. If you want to support families in a tangible way, there are things you can do. Domestic adoption through our agency in our state ranges from between $8,500-$18,000. International adoption can be between $20,000-$50,000 when you add up travel expenses, etc. That is a lot of money for a couple trying to start a family. And, medical insurance doesn’t cover this like it would a birth. Be aware of the financial burden of adoption. Some couples have fundraiser opportunities. You can participate that way by purchasing whatever they are selling, or you can become a “salesperson” for them. Encourage others to support their fundraising efforts too. There is always the option to donate to their adoption fund. Russ and I received an unexpected blessing in the mail a couple of weeks ago. It was the note that touched us the most. It said, “Please use this check toward your adoption or for a night out at a nice restaurant.” Of course, we put it straight into our adoption account. But, her thoughtfulness of letting us know she simply wanted to support us now if we needed a night out. She just wanted to show her support. And it touched our hearts AND helped with our adoption costs. The most important way to support adoptive couples is to PRAY! Prayers are the most effective way to help families at any stage in the process. Pray and pray without ceasing. Let them know you are praying for them. :)

 What has been the most encouraging thing someone has said/done?

Russ and I began selling t-shirts to support our adoption. We asked people who bought a shirt to use it as a reminder to pray for three things every time they wore it or washed it. We asked for prayers for Baby J, our baby’s first mother, and for our patience. It has meant so much to see the huge support we have had. The most encouraging thing about this fundraiser is when we receive pictures from our “prayer warriors” praying for more from all over the world! People send us pictures of them wearing their shirts from all over. Some send pictures from their living room, while some send pictures of them wearing their shirts in Hawaii. It is truly a sacrifice of time and thoughtfulness for them to take those pictures and send them to us. This has been one of the most encouraging things. We really see how people are thinking and praying for our family…not only when they purchase the shirt, but long afterwards. Some prayed for our adoption journey in Haiti, Costa Rica, Air Force base, kitchens, the beach, feeding donkeys, etc. We have loved it! Another encouraging thing is the unexpected surprises for this “expectant parents.” Our families gave us a Mother’s Day shower when we first started. Friends have sent care packages in the mail with sweet notes letting us know how excited they are to meet Baby J. We love sweet baby gifts randomly given just to let us know we are not forgotten or alone. People haven’t forgotten we are “expecting.” These thoughtful acts have been the most encouraging.

 Now that you are in the process yourself and see it from a deeper perspective, what are ways that others could be involved in orphan/adoption care and support that they might not have thought of?

There are lots of ways to get involved in orphan/adoption care. Most agencies give their families the opportunities to apply for grants. These grants are funded from ordinary people who have donated to the fund through the agency. This is always a great way to support families…especially if you don’t know anyone personally going through the adoption process. The staggering thing is the number of children in the foster care system. One thing I’ve learned about this system is that it is a mess! I’ve watched sweet friends of mine over the last couple of months deal with the system trying to take care of these sweet children they are trying to adopt. First of all, their foster care situation was horrible. They were passed around, mistreated, and took care of each other at times. It blows my mind how different the process is for foster parents vs. adoptive parents. I knew the process we went through, and I couldn’t even imagine how this particular foster mother was approved to do it. Good, Christian foster families are needed in a big way. I am so thankful for those friends I have who have committed fostering children, who are really “orphans.” These children need to feel loved and like they belong to someone. We need families willing to sacrifice some comfort and convenience to help take care of these children until a forever family is found for them…maybe it will be you. Who knows how God will change your heart over a time of caring for someone! Listen to Him as you try to support orphan/adoption care. Ask around. Ask agencies what their needs are. They will tell you!

 Any adoption resources that you have found helpful and would like to pass on?

I have read several books that have proved to be helpful for me. Dear Birthmother, Before You Were Mine, and The Whole Life Adoption Book are some of my favorites. There are MANY adoption blogs out there. It really depends on the type of adoption you are wanting to learn more about: international, foster-adoption, domestic, adopting through DHS, etc. There are blogs that cover all of these. Ask around or search online.

I hope some of these answers have been helpful for those who want to understand adoption better. Maybe it has given some practical ways to support adoption. Not everyone is called to adopt, but we are all called to support adoption!

 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

 Megan Johnson describes herself as “an adoring wife, enthusiastic teacher, loving aunt, an aggravating sister, a favorite daughter (Ha!), the oldest granddaughter and niece, the youngest daughter-in-law, the best sister-in-law (Ha again!), a loyal friend, a wannabe mommy, and fearfully and wonderfully made by my Creator.”  She currently lives in Southaven, MS, with her husband Russ (a radiology resident), and their maltipoo, Farley.   You can follow her story, “Party of Two…Praying for More” here.

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