November 19, 2016

National Adoption Month: His Story (Week 3)

When I realized God was calling me to share about adoption throughout November, National Adoption Month, I didn't think through the weekly topics. I have been going week to week and listening through scripture, how readers respond to the topics, and thinking through our personal experiences.

This particular topic is very personal. Not that all of our adoption story is, but this post is about our son's story. And mostly, how my husband and I plan to keep much of his story private. 
Don't be offended. Instead, place yourself in his shoes - the ones that are almost too small because his sweet, long, thick, wide toddler feet are growing. When you squeeze yourself in those tiny shoes, think of this - It is his story to know first and decide how, if, and when he wants to share it.
Of course there are plenty of details about adoption, and even our personal experience, that we share publicly. There are also some more detailed experiences relating specifically to the adoption process that we share one-on-one with other couples considering adoption.

Then, there are the things that we will not share. Do you know how awkward it is for someone to ask how much your child cost? There is so much that goes into adoption expenses, like counseling with licensed social workers, legal counsel/documents, securing a safe home for birth mothers, and so much more.

While adoption has changed through the years, some things remain very private. Specific details are pretty much off limits for our family. We must respect the privacy of our son, first and foremast. I am his protector. I must protect him from information until he is ready to know. He will know every detail at the right time throughout his life, as he is mentally and emotionally able to comprehend. We also have the utmost respect for our son's birth mother's privacy. It is not our place to share her story.
However, if any of these details have been proactively shared with you, that's different. There is a reason we felt it important for you to know. There is a big difference in being told than asking.
So, here's a list of topics I encourage you to never ask any adoptive parent: 
Reasons for adoption (either from the birth parent or parent viewpoint)
Birth family history
Birth family appearances
Birth locations

I'm sure there are others, but these are the biggies. These topics can cause a mama bear to react by stumbling over her own words, giving you the stink eye, being very direct and shutting down the conversation, or even conjure up raw emotions. Any of these reactions will leave everyone in the conversation feeling awkward.

Much of this is an educational process. As a family, we are still learning! Thankfully, we have our Christian Adoption Consultant (CAC) consultant. She graciously provided us with guidance and wisdom all through adoption journey. I am still actively engaged in our private Facebook group made up of CAC consultants and other parents. We ask each other for insight and share our personal experiences.

This is very serious stuff but that doesn't mean it can't be shared in a light-hearted way. When we were in the early part of our adoption journey, I was totally schooled by a hilarious video about the right and wrong ways to ask certain questions and questions that should never be asked. The title of the video is actually, "If you wouldn't say it about a boob job..." That title though! But it makes so much sense the way this guy says it. Watch it here!

But really, this is my son's story we are talking about. Think about if everyone knew everything about you, before you did. This is my son's story and meant for him to share how, if, and when he wants. Thank you for respecting our son, our family and all adoptive families.

Pan Roasted Chicken and Vegetable Dinner

Raise your hand if you love a meal that doesn't dirty up multiple dishes, cooks on one or two pans, tastes good, and requires minimal clean up. Am I speaking your meal prep food language?

Cooking really doesn't have to be complicated, and pan roasted chicken and vegetable dinners are proof of this! Repeat after me, meal prep does not have to be complicated. Ok, now believe it.

I prepared part of this recipe while holding my phone and doing a Facebook Live video in one of my Challenge Groups. The most prep required for this meal is peeling and cutting the butternut squash. So instead of waiting until time to cook dinner, I went ahead and cubed the squash during my meal prep time on Sunday, one day before cooking this meal, and refrigerated in an airtight container. You could cube the squash at least 2 - 3 days in advance of cooking.

For the primary seasoning, I used Wildtree's organic and gluten free Rancher Steak Rub. The name is misleading. Rancher Rub is great on most all meats and some vegetables. This stuff is kinda like my version of salt & pepper.
There are a ton of pan roasted chicken and vegetable variations that you can create. Let this recipe be a guide to try it out and then make up your own combinations with your favorite seasonings and herbs. Depending on the quantity of vegetables you cook, this may require more than one pan.
*The most important piece of advice for this recipe is to use thin pieces of chicken.*

INGREDIENTS
2-3 Chicken Breasts
1 Small to Medium Butternut Squash
1 Bundle of Asparagus
1.5 Tbsp Wildtree Rancher Rub, divided in third
1 Tbsp Garlic Powder, divided in half
1/2 tsp Sea Salt, divided in half
1 Tbsp Parsley, Dried
1 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil or Avocado Oil
Grapeseed or Avocado Oil Spray

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
2. Peel, deseed, and cut the butternut squash into small cubes
3. Chop off the bottoms of the asparagus spears.
4. Cut chicken breasts in half lengthwise to create 4-6 thin pieces of chicken
5. Line a large baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with oil
6. Place thin pieces of chicken in a bowl or storage bag, season 1 Tbsp Rancher Rub, 1/2 Tbsp garlic powder, and 1/4 tsp salt. Stir or shake to cover all pieces.
7. Place chicken in a single layer on the lined pan and sprinkle with the dried parsley over it for a subtle pop of color.
8. Add cubed squash to the pan and around the chicken.
9. Bake at 400 for about 15-18 minutes. You may or may not have enough room to add the asparagus later. If not, go ahead and line a smaller baking pan with foil and spray with oil.
10. If there is room on your single pan, add asparagus and cook for another 10 minutes.
11. Lastly, turn on the broiler for 3-5 minutes to give your chicken a nice, golden color.

November 13, 2016

National Adoption Month: Meant to Be (Week 2)


Today, I read Matthew 11:28-30 and had a vivid flashback that caused silent tears to stream down my face as I relived an incredibly difficult moment in my life. I was sitting on our sofa in our little cottage in Memphis and reading this verse over and over and over and over. The phone was sitting right beside me. I could hardly breathe. I was tired. I was scared. I was waiting on the fertility clinic to call and let me know if I was pregnant.
When the phone rang, I could hardly say, "Hello" through the tears.
I was not pregnant.
I was devastated.
I was heartbroken.
I knew it was not meant to be.
I was having a hard time dealing with that.

Today, I know there was something else meant to be.
I am meant to be my son's mama through adoption.

My husband and I actually knew this was meant to be a few weeks after that devastating phone call.
We didn't know how, when, son or daughter, but we knew we were meant to be parents.
Instead of spending another $13,000 on IVF, we talked about how there were so many children in this world that will be placed for adoption. We decided to exhale from infertility treatments and pray about adoption.
That was in 2009. Our son was born in 2015.
We had a whole list of reasons why we waited. We wanted to move home, near family. We stashed a lot of cash for adoption expenses. We built a house for stability. We researched all the ways one can adopt domestically. We cross our t's and dotted our i's.
But you know the real reason?
God had already selected the most perfect, precious, happy baby boy for us. We just had to wait on him to enter this world.

During those six years, I never really wavered in my belief that God intended for us to be parents and that we were to adopt our child. Of course there were moments of doubt, impatience, heartache, and very candid conversations with God. Adoption is many things, but it is not easy.
Adoption is beauty from brokenness.
Adoption is a world of its own.
Adoption is something that will bring you to your knees and closer to God than you may have ever imagined.
Adoption is worth it.
If God places the desire in your heart to be a mama, cling to it. Do not let go.
If he calls you to adopt one of his children, embrace it. Consider it an honor.
You may experience heartache. You may not know how or when it will happen, but God does.
God will make good on his promise.
Our primary role as mamas in waiting is to trust. Trust God with his plan. Trust our partner when he expresses his desires. Trust our own heart.

If you have not yet considered adoption, I encourage you to open your heart and mind to it. Ask God specifically to guide you to it or away from it.
Back in 2009, we confidentially shared with those closest to us that we had "decided to adopt". That makes me laugh now. We didn't decide; that's not how it works.
God calls you to adoption.
This is his work, not ours. These are his babies, and he moves mountains to make sure they are placed in their chosen mama and daddy's arms.

If you are interested in learning more about adoption, I would love to talk with you, soulfitmama@outlook.com, and/or connect you with our consultant, Katie Fenska with Christian Adoption Consultants (CAC), katief@christianadoptionconsultants.com.

(So...this is being posted in the third week of National Adoption Month. I appreciate all slack you can give for recognizing that I have a toddler, about 34 balls in the air right now, and am behind. Also, please recognize the fact that my OCDs require that I include Week 2 in the post title to keep things flowing instead of Week 3  Part 1. I promise to work my hardest to get the real Week 3 posted in the real Week 3. *Smile* Sincerely, SFM)

November 4, 2016

National Adoption Month: Love (Week 1)

November is National Adoption Month.
As a mama through domestic adoption, I would like to share some thoughts from my family's experiences with the hope of positively influencing impressions and knowledge of adoption in today's culture. Let's start with a beautiful side adoption that not many people don't consider and may even find hard to believe. Trust me when I share this with you.
Birthmothers love their babies.
If she didn't, she would not have chosen life for her child and followed through with what is nothing short of God's miraculous master plan in choosing parents for her son or daughter. You and I know the options she has available to her. My heart drops at the thought of what my son's birthmother could have chosen, but she didn't. I have actually become weak in the knees and sick to my stomach thinking of one alternative. One night when my mind jumped to that one specific alternative, I went straight to my son's nursery, pulled him from his crib, held him, and thanked God for his life and for his birthmother's choice for his life.

After being matched with our son and his birthmother and right before his birth, my fleshly insecurities became increasingly controlling over my faith. I came across a website with a post titled, "10 Things Every Birthmother Wants Adoptive Parents to Know" by Patricia Dischler. Ms. Dischler is an author, speaker, child care professional, and birthmother.

Dischler wrote, "There are 10 things every birthmother thinks about, wishes for, and hopes for when placing their child for adoption. If you are in an open adoption, you may have heard some already, if not, they are important to know."  This is her list:

  1. I did not place my child because she was “unwanted.” I wanted her so much that I continued a pregnancy filled with unanswered questions.
  2. I chose adoption because I loved my child. This parental love allowed me to put his needs before my own when making my choice.
  3. This choice affected more than just me. She has a Grandmother, a Grandfather, and Aunts and Uncles who love her as well, and she will be missed.
  4. I wish for the day I can look into my child’s eyes and tell him I love him one more time.
  5. I hope that you will teach my child about her beginnings – about where she was born and who I am.
  6. I hope you will teach respect to my child by showing respect for me in your discussions.
  7. I wish I could be there to answer my child’s questions about adoption, but I trust you to answer them truthfully as best you can.
  8. I will never stop thinking about my child. She will always be a part of who I am.
  9. I would never try to disrupt my child’s new family with you. I put too much emotion and suffering into making this choice to allow anything to disrupt it – including me.
  10. In my eyes, you will always be my child’s Mom and Dad. And that thought brings me happiness.
Source: The Cradle

I will never forget reading this list and then this sentence that she said her son's mother once wrote to her, "Children are never really ours, they are just entrusted to us for a time by God.”
I cried like a baby while sitting in my car and reading her words. God broke me down right there, humbled me, and helped ease my insecurities. I won't pretend that day was the last time my human instincts consumed me, but when they have and do, I always come back to this list and pray for love to conquer any fears.

So when you begin your adoption journey or learn of a family member or close friend's dream of becoming parents through adoption, I encourage you to make a special place in your heart to love birthmothers and consider the journey she is walking and will walk the rest of her life. It's easy to conjure up ideas of how and why. Regardless of the details, know that she loved her baby.

As my son's mama, I love his birthmother in this exceptional, special way that can't be described in words. I will raise him to love her too.

To read Patricia Dischler's post in its entirety, click here or visit her website, Patricia Dischler.

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