Social worker: "Alan, could you please tell me some of Tara's strengths?"Alan: "I think one of Tara's biggest strengths is not being satisfied with the status quo and always wanting to move away from complacency. She's been very helpful in challenging me in very practical ways in order to grow personally and I think that she'll bring this strength into our family as well. I'm definitely a better man because of her consistent presence in my life, pushing me in ways that affirm me, and not allowing me to get away with excuses for not continuing to grow."Social worker: "Tara, could you also do the same for Alan? What are some of his strengths?"Tara: "I would have to say that Alan is one of the most loyal people I've ever met, both in his responsibilities and commitments, but most importantly in his relationships with people. I think this will translate greatly and powerfully into parenthood because Alan is a man who keeps his word. When he says he'll do something, he means it and this will be a powerful thing that he'll provide for our children."
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
No sooner had we turned in the paperwork to our agency than we received a call to confirm that everything had been received and to set up our first home study meeting. Now that's 24 hour efficiency! Our first meeting is scheduled for December 22nd. As described in other sections of this blog, the home study is a three-part session that includes discussion and counsel about being adoptive parents, as well as an inspection of our house during the third session. We're really looking forward to digging into it.
Thank you to all of you who pray with us and for us about our future children -- nothing could be more powerful. Thank you to all of you who have encouraged and loved on us, even in the smallest and most unexpected of ways -- you've picked us up in ways you'll never know. Thank you to all who've already helped us out by contributing financially to our adoption fund -- our gratitude for your gifts will know no end.
More details to come after our first home study meeting...
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Long story short, for every pound of coffee that is sold through our account, $5 goes towards our adoption fund. Our goal with Just Love Coffee is to raise $1,500 of our total adoption expenses.
All you have to do is visit the Just Love Coffee Atchison Adoption page and buy great coffee online, either on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. One time purchases can also be made by scrolling down to the "add to cart" section.
Maybe you love coffee and this is an easy sell for you. OR maybe you've been saying to yourself, "Hey, I've always wanted to try this strange drink called 'coffee' that everyone raves about but I've just never known how to go about it. Where can I get my hands on this amazing beverage?" OR maybe you've thought to yourself, "You know, I'm not a big coffee fan, but Alan & Tara are pretty cool. I'll buy some coffee on their behalf just because they're so cool." OR maybe you hate the taste of coffee and have no interest in drinking it, but your friend/relative/spouse/significant other loves it and you've been deliberating on a Christmas gift for him or her.
Whatever your reasoning may be, please consider this mutually beneficial opportunity! If you do purchase coffee or any other Just Love Coffee products through our account, please email us and let us know (unfortunately Just Love Coffee has not yet made it so that we can see who makes purchases). Thanks!
Saturday, October 24, 2009
We intentionally slowed down the process in the second half of the summer and early part of the fall as July, August, and September were rather busy months. I know, I know...things only get busier when you become a parent. So hey, all the more reason to try to keep some control over our own time while we've still got it!
As we mentioned in a previous entry, we were given a huge stack of paperwork by our agency, Bethany Christian Services, to go through and fill out. At the present time, we're about 97% finished with the paperwork. The last couple of things we need to do are to create a legal will and choose a pediatrician. The will shouldn't be too hard to do, but choosing a pediatrician isn't as simple as it would be if we were having a biological child. In keeping with the rule put forth by our agency, the pediatrician needs to be willing to examine our baby within 48 hours after he or she is placed with us. This will require a great amount of flexibility on the doctor's part. We will probably need to set up some meetings with different pediatricians to see who has the most experience in working with adoptive couples.
Once all of those paperwork details are out of the way -- hopefully in the not too distant future -- we will be ready to begin our home study! Talking about the home study process has elicited a range of reactions from different people. Some have said having to do a home study is downright intrusive, invasive, and a violation of our privacy. Others have said the home study is a very good and necessary measure in order to make sure the child is not entering a dangerous environment and to get us more prepared to become parents. We lean 100% towards the latter sentiment.
If you want to know what an adoption home study is NOT, watch the season 10 episode of Friends titled "The One with the Home Study." In the episode, Chandler & Monica are having their apartment inspected by an adoption social worker in hopes that she will give them a good report and place them on the adoption waiting list. Monica warns Chandler not to mess anything up because "if she doesn't like us, she can keep us off every list in the country!" This makes for good prime time TV, but greatly exaggerates and distorts the point of the home study in the first place.
The home study process will involve three separate meetings with our social worker; a woman with whom we have already cultivated a trusted relationship. The first two meetings will be at our agency's office and will involve discussion and counsel about becoming adoptive parents. We will most likely get into the good, the bad, and the ugly in these sessions and while it might sometimes be difficult, the discussions are sure to help us grow. The third meeting will take place at our house. Our social worker will come to check out our house in order to help us get prepared to welcome home a baby -- NOT to try to keep us from being parents. Naturally, if she notices things that may be hazardous, she will identify them and let us know what we have to do before our baby comes home.
Exciting stuff! More to come...
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
"It must be difficult to love an adopted child as much as your own."
"It must be difficult to love a retarded child as much as a normal one."
"It must be difficult to love a gay child as much as your straight ones."
"It must be difficult to love a black child as much as your white ones."
What's the point of writing this? Some have said it's just a movie, no big deal. We disagree. People are constantly going into filmmaking because they want to get some sort of cultural message out. Movies have the capacity to bring issues and concepts to light in both positive and negative ways. Often times movies put spoken words and pictures to what our culture is really thinking but maybe doesn't want to say out loud because it's just not PC. On top of that, movies tend to influence our culture in profound ways towards even the most basic aspects of life. Tons of people were afraid of showering after the release of Psycho. People didn't want dolls in their houses after seeing the Child's Play movies. The presence of dogs instills panic for some because of the film, Cujo. And I personally know people who are terrified of clowns because of the film, It. It's not out of the realm of possibility for Orphan to have the same effect on people who might be thinking about adopting a child, yet choose not to out of fear of bringing home another Esther. And what about the people who might not be interested in adopting, but start to look a little differently at the adopted kid down the street? How about all of the adopted kids in school right now who are going to have to listen to the taunts and labels thrown at them as a result of this film? All of this might sound far fetched, but the next time someone tells you they don't stereotype, just ask them what movies they watch.
Our point is not to say you shouldn't see Orphan, but to think about and even speak out against the overall context and the utter falsehoods contained within the premise of this film. At a time when our society should continuously be promoting the beauty and necessity of growing families through adoption, this film appears to remind viewers that adoption is nothing but a risky, second best option.
If you're interested, please check out Orphans Deserve Better - a grassroots initiative launched after the release of this film, that works to take the side of children who don't have the power to speak for themselves.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
What kind of adoption are you doing?
Human. Ok, sorry. For our first child, we are doing "domestic infant adoption" (ie, an American-born, newborn baby, straight from the womb to us). The reason for this is because we would like the opportunity to raise our first child from birth; perhaps a decision we'll come to regret after the fifth consecutive sleepless night. In addition, the domestic infant process seems to be the fastest route to becoming parents. We have not made any decisions yet on what adoption avenues we'll pursue after our firstborn, but we certainly plan to adopt more than once.
How long will the process take before you have a baby?
This is, hands down, the most commonly asked question, and a great one at that. People have asked if we are expecting to become parents any day now. Well, unfortunately you don't just drop your name in a hat and get a phone call 5 minutes later like Monica and Chandler on Friends. But it's not a completely blind waiting game either. There's a logical system of order in place: 1) Application 2) Paperwork 3) Home study 4) Personal profile 5) Birthparent matching 6) Placement of child. We are on step 2. You don't even become eligible to be matched with a birthparent until your personal profile is created, which is what the birthparents look at in order to determine which adoptive couples they would like to meet and potentially be matched with. I should probably say in addition, that the process won't take our whole lives, contrary to what Hollywood or the media horror stories would have you believe. In all our research and from all the personal testimonies we've heard from agencies and adoptive couples, the whole process from start to finish, should be between one to two years total, if that.
Why are you adopting?
I'd love to give you some sort of selfless, altruistic answer, but the primary reason is because of infertility. It's a tough pill to swallow, and if I may be blunt, no one can truly understand the pain of it unless you've gone through it yourself. Over time, we've received a lot of well-intended, but rather unhelpful sympathy remarks such as "Oh, you'll be fine! You'll adopt and it'll be great!" by people with good intentions, but who may not know what to say when we've talked about our struggles in coping with this. Yes, the clichés are sometimes true, but to be honest, the genuine listeners who pretty much have nothing to say except for a heartfelt "Yeah, it really sucks" have been the most thoughtful and comforting to us. This is not to say that you shouldn't ask us about our adoption journey or our struggles - far from it! But we really just need to be honest about how it affects us when friends or family try to throw easy answers at us because they don't know what to say. The truth is, sometimes there is no easy answer at the moment, and that's OK.
Isn't it unfair to try to adopt if you CAN have biological kids?
While this question doesn't directly apply to us, this is another common one that comes up in discussions. The perceived sentiment is that pursuing adoption when you are physically capable of having biological children is unfair, as it would delay the adoption process for infertile couples. This is hands down untrue and is often times an excuse used primarily to assuage guilty consciences. There will never be a deficit of children in need of homes but there WILL always be a deficit of people willing to adopt them unless more families respond to this need, both fertile and infertile. I don't want to be a hypocrite and say that I would absolutely adopt under different circumstances, but with such a great need in today's world for children to be adopted, I thought the misconception about this question was worth addressing.
Will you tell your kids they are adopted?
Absolutely and unequivocally YES!!! Lying to our child about where he or she came from would, in our opinion, be a complete injustice, as well as emotionally and psychologically harmful. We will naturally have to wait until our child is old enough to grasp basic concepts of the situation, but when the time comes, we will be more than happy to explain the beautiful story about how he or she became our son or daughter. Children who are adopted will naturally have different and unique identity questions. As these arise, adoptive parents must be willing to address these questions with wisdom and sensitivity according to each child's needs.
Will the birth-parent(s) be in the picture once the baby is born?
This naturally goes hand in hand with the last question. The short answer of it is that we believe our child should know who his or her birth-parents are as a part of fully understanding who they are and where they came from. Sometimes, unfortunately, the birth-fathers don't stick around, but sometimes they do. Some birth-parent(s) and adoptive couples choose to have a "closed" adoption, meaning all ties are permanently severed once the baby is placed with the adoptive couple. We don't believe this is a good idea as most studies have shown (as well as personal testimonies we've heard and read) that most adopted children will eventually want to find out who gave birth to them as an answer to their origin. Plus, with internet searches making the world smaller and smaller, it would be very unfortunate for our child to grow up and have to track down his or her birth-parents when we could have helped fill that void from the beginning. Others choose "open" or "semi-open" adoption, which allows some form of contact between the child and the birth-parent(s). This could take the form of scheduled visitations and/or phone calls, birthday gifts, exchanges of letters and pictures, or some other arrangement worked out between the adoptive couple and the birth parent(s). We will be having an open adoption, as we believe that some form of birth-parent contact would be healthiest for our child's growth and development. Just as importantly, an open adoption arrangement is the least an adoptive couple can do to show birth-parents (whose feelings are often discarded in this process) just how much they are loved, respected, and appreciated for the unbelievablely amazing and selfless decision they have made.
Does it really cost $20,000 to adopt a baby?
Yes, and with some other agencies, domestic infant adoption runs as high as $35,000 to $40,000! Just to be clear however, none of the money goes to the birth parent(s) as that would be considered slavery, which has long since been outlawed in the United States. The silver lining is that only $6,000 is needed before the birth of our child. This amount will cover the home study, background checks, legal expenses, and the personal profile creation. The remaining $14,000 is due when the baby comes home and can be paid off over time, as well as through great adoption tax credits which are available today.
Friday, May 29, 2009
There's something intrinsically comforting about being around certain people in our lives, especially those who we are closest to, who provide what I call "safe place" comfort. I have found that inexpressible comfort in my marriage with Alan, and I think you'd agree with me that this sentiment is worth cherishing and celebrating! With this in mind, I've written the following story/update with much thankfulness for God's provision for us, even at the very start of this potentially long and tedious process.
What has been really encouraging and confirming to both Alan and myself about starting our adoption process is finding a similar (although obviously different) type of relational comfort with our social worker at Bethany Christian Services. When we initially met her back in November 2008, she impressed us from the start with her personable style of conversation, laid-back and yet really professional manner, honesty with which she presented both the joys and the challenges of adoption, and her passion for her work which naturally radiated from her. After three long hours of high-speed information downloaded to our brains during November's introductory meeting, I walked back to the car with Alan -- in silence at first -- dying to know what he thought about the evening. I wasn't sure what to expect, but hoped that my prayers for comfort, peace, and trust in God had been answered for Alan as well. As we processed our experience during the car ride home, we were pleasantly surprised to echo the exact same opinion: Our social worker had totally won us over, and if she was to be the one to walk us through the adoption process, we felt like we could really do this!
Now, six months later, we are encouraged to report that after meeting with our social worker this past Wednesday, which involved tons of paperwork and tons of additional information, we were not too overwhelmed, partly, we think, because she continues to exhibit such a comforting and inviting presence. (This is a miracle in and of itself, especially if you know the hate-hate relationship that Alan and I share with regards to paperwork!)
To break it down a little, Wednesday's two-hour meeting involved us receiving and being walked through a stack of papers (about an inch thick) that we will be completing over the course of the next several months.
This mysterious "paperwork" includes the following:
- Medical reports
- Child abuse and criminal background clearances (required by the state for all adoptions)
- Financial statement
- Personal questionnaires
- A "homework"/required reading packet
- Information and examples which will guide Alan and I to create our own family profile that will be shown to birthparents.
While this may be interesting info for some of you, and not so much to others, I figured since adoption process details are generally not widely known, it would be helpful and educational to share some of this here. (Honestly, Alan and I had no clue about the ins and outs of adoption until we started doing research and going to meetings). Also, who knows, maybe some of you will end up adopting a child in the future as well; all the more reason to learn some stuff now!
Our next steps from here include tackling all of this paperwork (mainly setting aside intentional time to do it) and then subsequently, setting up our three home study meetings with our social worker. These meetings are in place to counsel adoptive parents and also for the agency to ensure that we live in an environment that is emotionally, physically, financially, and spiritually stable enough to welcome a child into our home. While, on one hand, this can feel very overwhelming and invasive, Alan and I view this series of meetings as a refreshing preparatory season in which we can look honestly at our lives and examine parts of ourselves that we might want to be aware of and/or work on before we become Mom & Dad!
We are excited that you are following along with us! Please continue to drop us notes of encouragement and pray for us. We are thankful for your involvement and friendship in our lives.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
A Brief Overview:
We met in college and were married on July 29, 2006 in Hatboro, PA. Currently, we live in the city of Philadelphia along with our dog, Bailey. We are a part of Liberti Church. Alan works as the Online Editor at the Center for the Advanced Study of India, located at the University of Pennsylvania. Tara is the Director of Campus Ministry at Temple University and is employed by the CCO. Among other things, Alan enjoys reading, consuming chocolate milk, playing the guitar, and the Philadelphia Phillies. Tara enjoys coffeeshops, mentoring college students, the outdoors, and cooking.
As is the unfortunate case with millions of couples around the world, we are unable to conceive biological children. Over the past year or so, as we have begun to feel the strong desire to become parents, this sad fact has been an area of much grief, jealousy, and bitterness. Thankfully however, we've been able to be honest about our grief and turn to each other and to the Lord in these times, rather than grow distant from each other. Doing so has certainly strengthened the foundation of our marriage in ways we never thought possible.
While working through our infertility grief, we have been growing more and more excited about becoming parents through the blessing of adoption. After much research and a few introductory meetings with different agencies, we decided to go forward with Bethany Christian Services, one of the world's most reputable and leading adoption agencies.
Bethany has various options for people looking to adopt (domestic infant, international, and older child). For our first child, we will be pursuing the domestic infant option, as we would like the opportunity to raise a newborn baby from birth.
Getting the Ball Rolling:
This past week, we submitted our official application to Bethany and attended an all-day informational class, along with a bunch of other adopting couples. The day involved participating in some great sessions led by Bethany's social workers, hearing from a panel of families who have recently adopted, and also hearing from a panel of birth-parents. These birth-parents are the unsung heroes who make the courageous and selfless choices to allow a better life for their children when they know they are not in a place in their lives in which they can provide proper care to their son or daughter. Our all-day session also included much discussion about the grief that results from infertility and the loss that birth-parents feel when placing their babies for adoption. The blunt reality of adoption is that it cannot take place without both parties experiencing different forms of loss. The honest dialogue we shared as a group about these difficult topics was extremely helpful and empathetic.
The Financial Costs of Adoption:
One of the difficult realities of adoption is the cost. In the case of domestic infant adoption, we will owe a little over $20,000 when all is said and done. Many people, like us, just don't have that kind of extra cash sitting around and to try to save up that amount would take an insane number of years.
To break down the total a little bit, certain amounts will be needed over the course of the process:
- $2,000 (formal application fee and home study evaluation)
- $4,000 (retainer fee; includes thorough background checks, creation of profile that will be showed to birth-parents as they choose adoptive couples)
- $14,000+ (due when the baby is officially placed with us)
How Can You Practically Partner With Us?:
While we will be paying a chunk of the $20,000 total ourselves through what we can afford at this time, we will also be seeking to raise the remaining amount by applying for adoption grants as well as through private donations from individuals and churches. The concept of asking people for money so that we can become parents is certainly a controversial one for some, and understandably so. After all, people get pregnant and have kids all the time and they are responsible for the cost of raising their children, not anyone else. However, when it comes to adoption, certain other factors are at work. Consider the following:
- Having a biological child usually does not require spending $20,000 ahead of time. There are certainly some doctors appointments and various other expenses, but nothing near what is required to make another person's baby your own.
- Asking for financial help towards adoption is not like asking for help towards the purchase of a household item or a vacation, but for help in changing the life of a human being.
- Once the child comes home to us, the money that it will require to raise him/her from infancy to adulthood will certainly be our responsibility and no one else's. But without financial assistance ahead of time, having the opportunity to become parents will be more difficult and time-consuming.
For those who aren't interested in or comfortable with the online donation method, checks can be mailed directly to us which will then be deposited directly into an account we've created strictly for adoption expenses (email us to get our home address). One of our goals is to keep you up to date on exactly where we are financially and how much we need to raise at each incremental step.
We also ask that you would pray, not only for us, but also for our unborn child and his/her birth-parents who will be making the ultimate sacrifice. This is both a joyful and painful process and we need the Lord's peace and guidance throughout it all. If you are not someone who believes in prayer, please simply drop us an encouraging word here and there; doing so really builds us up in so many ways.
Another way you can really help us out is by forwarding this blog to as many people as you can. Our hope is to get our story out to as many people as possible. We hope that by sharing our story, we can help to encourage other couples who are struggling with infertility and are wondering what avenues might be right for them, as well as just anyone who would like to know more about adoption.
Feel free to ask us any and all questions you might have about our adoption experiences and/or needs. (Our email addresses are listed under the "BIOS" section at the top).
Thank you for reading this. We are extremely excited to begin this process towards becoming a Mom and Dad. We look forward to journeying with you.
Alan & Tara