Monday, April 7, 2014

An Adoption Story: Chris & Anna

There is no formula for adoption. You can't say; if you take this route and do this then in this many months you will have this child. It doesn't work like that. However, there is also no formula to having biological children. Sure, we might have grown up learning about the birds and the bees and being taught that A + B = baby, but I think they forgot to tell us that it's not always that simple...there really isn't a set formula. So why not look at expanding our families by seeing that there are multiple options to do that...not just one? Through our experiences Sam and I discovered that not only were we longing to be parents but that there were also children in the world who were longing to be in a family. It is my absolute privilege to have Anna share her story with you today...


Adoption is not my plan B. But I understand why people would think that. I struggle with infertility and infant loss. I had a miscarriage a couple years into our marriage and then....nothing. So my husband, Chris, and I decided to pursue adoption. And then, right after we started attending informational meetings and filling out paperwork, I was pregnant.... 

loss after twins

with identical twin girls. 

pregnant with twins

However, five months in I developed Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome and subsequently, an incompetent cervix, followed by Preeclampsia. I struggled for a time period in the hospital but June 3, Iris and Ivy were born and died 20 minutes and 1 hour after birth.

Do I need to state the obvious? I was a mess. 

I took the summer off of teaching and sat for hours on my sun porch, sometimes doing nothing more than listening to neighborhood church chimes ring in each half hour as I lay on my couch feeling numb. One day I found myself searching on the internet for jobs. I didn't want a different job. I loved my job teaching English to adult refugees. But I realized I was searching for a job as a Mom. Not really, of course. I wasn't typing in “MOM jobs” on Google. But there was a longing.

I started to realize that children all over the place were also longing for moms-that I was crying out for something but they were even more so. And as children, they don't have any control over whether or not they get to have a family but as adults, we do. And while I believe we shouldn't tell people to get over themselves or their grief, I wanted to remember to think about others sorrow while experiencing mine. I wanted to share in the sufferings of others. So, we booked some plane tickets to Mozambique and visited Iris Ministries. 

Iris Ministries

While at the orphanage, Chris and I spent every day playing with children and holding babies. I loved on those kiddos with everything stored up in me.

holding a baby in africa

There is always enough, no need to save it for “MY” baby. I listened to African women share their stories of loss. It is a common part of life there to experience great and reoccurring suffering, including death of many children. Yet the women didn't downplay my grief, they shared in mine, and I in theirs. And every day, they go to work in the orphanage to love on those children as if they are their own.

Chris and I came back to the U.S. at the end of August and in January started the process of international adoption. Through a series of events we ended up switching to our local foster care training in March. I've believed for a long time that we all have a part to play in orphan care. But I thought I would first learn how to be a parent as I cared for my biological children and not under the watchful eyes of the county system. But as it happened, by July we were licensed with our county. Six weeks later we had a phone call for one baby, then another. We met our 3 month old little person on a Wednesday

holding a foster baby

We had a room almost all painted but that was it. We left the meeting and went shopping at Target. Bought a crib and a pink dress. We didn't even buy bottles or formula because we were advised to wait until we knew what she took. At noon on Saturday the social worker brought her to our house. Five minutes after the worker left, Aliyah was crying and Chris was racing to the store to get bottles and formula as she was quickly downing the only 4 ounces she came with!

Some people see our situation and think we had an easy adoption because we had a baby. And I suppose there are some things about it that were “easy.” But I will tell you that when you long to be a mom, making yourself vulnerable as you love a child like your own that isn't, it's not easy. I'm the one getting up in the night to feed or snuggle her. She feels like mine, she smells like mine but a week in and a worker comes to whisk her away for a visit with her birth mom. 

foster care to adopt

“Well, it's only been a week. You can't be that attached, can you Anna?” Let me ask you how long it took for you to be protective and bonded to YOUR child? 

We knew what we signed up for. We knew our first job was to mentor and support the birth parents and send Aliyah back to them or if the situation turned, to be willing to adopt. But it wasn't possible to find a way to love her only a portion while holding some back. 

adopting a baby from foster care

And as I sat crying with a social worker, frustrated over my own struggle, she reassured me I was doing everything right. “You can't hold anything back. She needs you to attach to her so she can attach back.” As our situation progressed, Aliyah was officially adopted into our family 1 year and 3 months after joining our family. 

foster to adopt finalization

I was pregnant again during this time period but had another miscarriage. I want the babies I've lost. I don't understand. I want them AND her. But I wouldn't trade her for 10 biological babies. 

family of three

And so we continue, currently with another placement, in all of its mix of exciting and scary unknowns. But not as our plan B. If God blesses us with bio children, great. But we will still continue to do foster care and adoption in some capacity. Because children are crying for love and stability and because we want to share in the sufferings of others. Won't you also consider it?

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  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I have had a heart to partake in the foster care system since I was a teenager. Unfortunately, my husband has heard too many horror stories of false allegations of abuse and is terrified that something like that might happen to us. He is a small business owner, so his reputation is a big part of our financial picture. Did you and your husband have any of those fears? If so, what did you do to alleviate them?

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your story! It really touched my heart. Adoption as someone's Plan A is always wonderful to hear!

  3. As a foster mom, adoptive mom and mom of a biological son, I can not love this post enough!!!!

  4. Francine van der KooijApril 7, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    The way you wrote this story brought tears to my eyes. The pictures as well as the words show how much you love kids. I really hope you will be blessed with more childeren, for you but also for the future childeren, because they will grow up in an amazing family!

  5. Hi CurlyGirlMom, thanks for the great question that I don't have a clear answer for. (Anna here) We DID have that concern, actually. I don't remember specific steps to overcoming the fear. I know that we just decided one day to attend an informational meeting, questions in tow. After that meeting, some questions were answered, others remained. Normally I want to know. NOW. But I just kept going to meetings/classes and leaving feeling calm, trusting the process and the unfolding of information little by little. I can only attribute this to Jesus. I'm thankful for His help in taking away fear as we stepped out. So I'd say, it never hurts to just go to a meeting.... Google your county foster care and make the call. Honestly we have had a couple of hard interactions with people in the county but we have mostly had amazing interactions with respectful and helpful staff/social workers. Our daughter's worker was off the charts in her ability to have feet in both worlds. She was there completely to support the birth mother and help her get back on track but she continued to be human and show empathy towards us and the needs we had. I've had candid conversations with her about fears and it would be great for you to just share that concern with someone in the beginning stages. It's not going to throw anyone for a loop to hear it. We all think about it. Does that help a little? Happy to dialogue more. So glad you are considering jumping in!

  6. Anna, thank you for sharing your story. I knew that I would hear about it eventually. :) I'm sorry to hear of the loss(es) that you and Chris journey through. It is a privilege to hear about it and about the beautiful graces that God has blessed you with in the midst of it.

  7. I love this story! It so truly reflects what the journey feels like - especially those parental visits! Thank you for sharing your truth!

  8. Hi Anna! As a foster/adoptive mom, I loved reading your story! Do you have a blog? If so, I would love to follow along!!
    Blessings to you and your sweet family!!

  9. My first little one was stillborn. It's so hard to leave the hospital with empty arms. I love that you made the choice to open your arms to others. There are so many children who need love out there. It's comforting to know that there are wonderful people like Chris and Anna out there :) Blessings!

    1. Stephanie,

      I am SO sorry for your loss!


  10. What an awesome adoption story! I, and two of my four sisters, are adopted from China. My parents were told they could never have children....but 10 years after me and my sisters were adopted (all from different parts of China) my parents had 2 biological children :)

    Visited from LWSL Blog Link up!

  11. No one quite understands the want of a child like another person struggling with infertility. I'm so glad to see your story worked out well. Congratulations!


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