Sunday, September 5, 2010

Lullaby For a Birthmom

It has been way too long since I have wrote my thoughts on this page... I will explain more in posts still yet to come! 

I received a facebook message this afternoon with a video link that I want to pass on to you as well.  It is a simple song with a powerful message... Enjoy the video~

Michael Pearce Donley
Lullaby For a Birthmom




Michael Pearce Donley's tribute to birthmothers. "Birthmoms are heroes," Michael says. "and it's time they had a song to honor them." This was recorded live on January 30, 2010, a few days after it was written. This was part of a performance called "Laugh for Life" as a benefit for New Life Family Services.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Update in Rachel's Trip.....

What an amazing time we had in Thailand! After spending a few days at Liberty University in training, getting to know each other, preparing to share our testimonies and perform dramas, learning about the culture and some of what we would be doing to minister in Thailand, our team of 14 boarded a plane for the other side of the world! After close to 20 hours in the air and a few hours at an airport in Korea, we landed in Bangkok. We then drove about 45 minutes to the city where we would be spending most of our time, Nonthaburi.

For the next two weeks we taught English to over 1,000 different students, from at least 10 different schools. Some days we traveled to government schools, other days to universities, some days the students came to us at the school we were staying at, and one afternoon we got to volunteer at an orphanage. My husband, Marc, and I thoroughly enjoyed the 12 students that were part of our team and saw God work in and through them in wonderful ways.

Some highlights of the trip:
- Seeing our team’s hearts break as we sat with a group of 60 university students and saw only two of them raise their hands when asked how many knew who Jesus was. It still blows my mind that there are people who do not even know who Jesus is, let alone believe in Him.

- A teacher asking why our team was so happy. (That morning we had prayed for the joy of the Lord to shine out of us!)

- Having dinner at the top of the tallest building in Bangkok and afterward spending time outside on a special floor of the tower that revolved around the city. Our team sung God of this City as we prayed for the people of Thailand.

- For many team members riding on elephants was notable! And even though I’ve ridden a number of times, it’s still fun to climb up and ride atop these huge creatures!

- Getting to minister to a group of university students who had just lost a friend to suicide. Some of our students were able to give them Bibles and tell them about the hope that Jesus offers.

- Seeing some of the students on our team have confirmed to them that they are to go into full-time, overseas missions when they graduate.

- Getting to speak Thai and eat delicious Thai food again! I think the most interesting thing anyone ate was a fish eyeball!

- Loving on a group of children with special needs at an orphanage in the area. There was a precious little girl there that stole my heart!

- I got to take a quick day trip up to Chiang Mai where I use to live and see many of the people that were part of my life up there: the staff at the orphanage, the pediatrician who cared for my foster children, and many dear friends. So many that I have relationships with up there still do not know Jesus as their personal Savior and my heart continues to be burdened for them. It was good to be able to hug them and let them know that I still care about them!

- Worshipping with Thai believers and realizing that our God hears and understands every language!

- Performing a drama that told the story of creation, fall, and redemption at a two day English camp. And later finding out that one of the students at the camp accepted the Lord as her Savior!

Before we left, I wrote that I wanted our team to be able to spread everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Jesus (2 Corinthians 2:14) and truly, I believe, we did that. Our prayer is that doors were opened for future ministry and that students we taught will come to future English activities hosted by believers in the area, that they will check out the local church and come to know for themselves what, or rather Who it is that makes this group of American English teachers so full of life and joy!

~Rachel

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What do you think?


Good Afternoon Everyone~

When I came in from lunch today, Deanne encouraged me to check out the Family Life Services Facebook page where she posted a great question. 

What language do you feel is acceptable in referring to parents who are considering placing a child through adoption - birth parent, expectant parent, prospective birth parent etc.?

Already, it has sparked great feedback.... feedback that has made me reconsider what I feel is acceptable.  I thought you may want to check it out and leave your thoughts as well! 

I hope you are having a great Tuesday.
 
~Janelle

PS. Pictures have been posted on Deanne's Blog of our last placement.  Enjoy!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Happy Adoption Day, Antoine!


Tuesday was an exciting day at Family Life Services as we witnessed the placement of Antoine and a family being brought together in God's perfect timing.

I love to watch the faces of the new parents as they see the baby for the first time.  Both faces were filled with joy and compassion as Brittany lovingly placed Antoine in Teena's arms.  To catch a glimpse of the special event, please visit Deanne's blog to see pictures and read more details.

Have a wonderful day!
~Janelle

Love Without Measure... Gretchen's Journey Continues

The Journey Continues....If you haven't been to the blog in a few days, please start at the beginning of this powerful story and read Part 1, 2 and 3.


Now, a year later, I can say that time has eased some of the pain. But the most significant thing that has comforted me has been the love without measure that God has poured out to me over the last year. There were many dark times, and many more questions, but around each corner that I turned; I found grace and love packaged in special ways to help ease my pain.

There were many days that I tried to “be strong” and “brave”, but I found that did not work any better following Derek’s death than it did when he was born. This journey was one I entered alone, and although many kind people have traveled with me on my adoption journey, much of this travel had to be done alone, in my heart. As I have let myself feel the pain, and experience the grief, I have been blessed with love, without measure, poured on me from God alone.

Through this year I have found a special healing balm in the words of Psalm 121:

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

This summer, as I sit in my living room, I remember the feelings I once had at the beginning of this journey, and am thankful that today I am surrounded by hope, love and grace:

• Hope that one day I will meet my Savior face-to-face, and will experience “reunion day” with Derek, as we worship the Lord together with many other loved ones.

• God’s love that is poured on me no matter what mistakes I’ve made, or how much I’ve disappointed Him….His love is more abundant than my sin.

• Grace that is given freely… grace to cover my wrong, and grace to carry me through the journey of life.

• Hope, that through sharing this journey with you, someone else will find encouragement for their journey.

Gretchen and her family reside in Kansas where she is the Administrator for a Parkside Homes, a retirement health care facility. She and her husband, Doug, are busy with their two children, Leighton (12) and Lanna (11). The kids are active in community theater, band, and church activities. Gretchen worked as an adoption caseworker for Family Life Services from 1998-2001. Her love for the people and ministry of FLS has continued in spite of the miles between.

Feel free to leave any comments for Gretchen as I know she would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Gretchen's Journey...Part 3.. Love Without Measure...

With every journey, we travel over are twist, turns and sometimes our direction goes in ways we never anticipated.  Below is the 3rd part of this story... if you missed Part 1 or 2, go back and start from the beginning!
~Janelle


Love Without Measure~
(part 3)


It was the beginning of summer 2009 when I learned news that would change my life again. I got home from work, to find my husband waiting for me, and I knew right away that something was wrong. Gently, he held me and told me that Derek had been in a car accident and did not make it. He told me Derek’s parents wanted to talk to me. What? Why, God? How could this be? The questions flooded my heart and mind. The pain I felt was so intense I didn’t know what to do, but I did what I knew to do and tried to figure out a way to “be strong”. I felt the arms of my husband holding me, but nothing could ease the sting of this pain. There were no answers, only more questions. I knew in my head that God’s love was still there, but I couldn’t feel it. I just felt brokenhearted and alone.

That night I picked up the phone, and dialed the number to Derek’s parent’s house. It felt so strange. I wasn’t supposed to have that number, or be able to talk to them. This wasn’t the way I wanted to “meet” them. Maybe this was all just a bad dream. But no, it wasn’t a dream. As I held the phone, being as brave as I could be, I heard a man’s voice. It hadn’t changed a bit since the day I heard it when I told them that they would be receiving a baby. But today, there was no joy, only sadness. He told me about the car accident, and asked me to pray for them, and commented that maybe I shouldn’t have chosen them after all. I tried to stay strong for them, but inside I was dying. I knew that if my pain was this deep, they had to be hurting even more.

The days that followed seemed like years. I tried to pull myself together enough to go to work, and continue on, but I couldn’t. Once again, the staff at the adoption agency began to pour out God’s love to me without measure. They supported me as I chose to go to Derek’s funeral as well as in the months ahead. Numbed by the reality that my son was dead, and I would never hug him again in this life, I needed to know answers to my questions. Was he a Christian? Would I see him again in eternity? What was he like?

Nuggets of truth became gifts of love from the Lord along the journey to Derek’s funeral. He was 16 when he died, and I remember thinking that the Lord may have spared him from the heartache associated with lessons teenagers learn. I remembered how proud Derek was of the Firebird that he was driving when he went off the road. He told me about it for the first time when he was 8. I was comforted by the words at the top of his list of things he was thankful for… “I’m thankful for my birthmother”. And I was anxious to see the town that he grew up in, yet hoped that I could remain anonymous for the adoptive family’s sake.

At the funeral, I sat in the back with my mother, who traveled with me. I was glad she was there with me, but it was very strange all the same. We watched and listened, and tried to blend in. I was scared that I would cry too hard, but I had cried so many tears, that I think there weren’t any left for that hour. We watched as students, friends, and family gathered to honor Derek’s life. We listened to the testimony that was shared by his pastors, assuring me that he had a real relationship with Christ, and that one day I would see him again. I saw the pain in his parent’s eyes, and shared their pain in my own heart.

Again, in the middle of my pain, the Lord met me with comfort from His Word. The pastor at the funeral reminded us that it was because of God’s grace that we could have salvation and eternal joy and hope. Over the next several weeks, the Lord brought me back to that truth over and over. In Ephesians 2, I was reminded of God’s love that is given freely without measure. I treasured the verses I read, as they brought comfort….real comfort. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us…” vs 4; I knew those words were true, but they began to take on more meaning. Now I knew what “great love” was, love without measure. I read on to verse five, “even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)”. This verse had much different meaning to me now… because of Christ who gave love, grace and salvation… I would one day be alive together again in eternity with my son and others who had passed into eternity.

I counted many blessings as I heard the stories about Derek’s life. How he brought joy to those around him, and how he always smiled. It made me smile inside when they described his laughter and energy, because I knew that was something that came from me. One of his teachers sat behind me, and commented about what a “good boy” Derek was, and how he always did a great job, even if he was having fun while he was doing it. I was proud of him.

Before we left that little town, we stopped by Derek’s grave. The questions had been answered… It was not a dream. He was really dead. He was a Christian. I would see him again, someday. As we walked up to his grave, the grave digger was there, and asked how we knew Derek. “Friends of the family”, I said, hoping he would not ask questions I could not answer without giving out information that I was not supposed to. “Well, he was a really great boy”, he said, “we’ll all miss him”. As I took a flower from the grave to put in my Bible,  I turned to get back in the car and return to my husband and children who were waiting for me at home. I knew that somehow, I had to find the strength to continue on as a wife and mom to these people, in spite of the loss I felt. I wondered if time would ease the pain.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Gretchen's Journey... Part 2

I hope you enjoyed yesterdays blog... read on to hear the next part of her story....

Love Without Measure~
(part 2)


As I waited for him to be able to go home with his adoptive parents, the Lord poured out His love to me, healing my heart that was breaking. My love for my son gave me the ability to be strong in the face of temptation to go back and get him before it was “too late”. I learned through those weeks, what it meant to love sacrificially, and how that type of love held a precious treasure of joy in the middle of deep pain. Through this season, some new verses began to become intensely meaningful. I did not know it then, but these verses (Job 23:6-12), would become my life verses. They would be the words that would hold me when all else around me felt like it was crumbling.

On Mother’s Day, Derek was united with his Mother & Father. That day brought me great joy, knowing that I had followed the Lord’s guidance in my life no matter what the cost. It also brought deep pain, as I knew that I would not be able to see him again for at least 18 years. I didn’t know how I would ever be able to wait that long (patience was not my thing), but I knew that the Lord would carry me through this too.

Through the years, I watched and waited with anticipation for each envelope full of pictures that would come in the mail. I was so glad that I got to see how Derek was growing and developing. When the letters came, I rushed to open them and read them over and over making sure I didn’t miss any of the details. I shared them with the people I knew who understood, and was so proud of my little boy. I dreamed of the day I would get to see him again, and give him the hugs I wanted to all along the way.

One very special day, I opened the package in the mail, and was so surprised to find a letter from Derek! This was an extra special day. I always loved the letters from his parents, but this was in his handwriting and it was addressed to me. I was so happy that he knew about me, and that he wanted to share things about his life with me. I began to pray differently, as I learned to know some of the challenges he faced as he was growing up. These letters continued for years. The blessings that came through those letters were indescribable. Occasionally, like any mom, I would worry about the wrong things influencing him, and then I would pray.

The years went by faster, as we shared letters and pictures. Before long, I realized that we were getting closer to the day that we would be able to meet again. That was a day I waited for since Derek was born, and I left the hospital. Now, it was only a few years before he could legally search for me. The questions began…. Would he look for me? Would his parents let him? What would it be like if he found me? What would I do if he didn’t want to find me? Little by little, I handed these questions over to the Lord. The answers weren’t available, but God’s love without measure was! That was what I needed to carry me through.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Love without measure…Gretchen's Journey

A few weeks ago, I emailed my friend with the request to share her adoption story with the readers of my blog.  Her journey is a precious one... one that we can all learn from.  Please come back daily as I will be posting the next "chapters" over the next few days.  I hope her journey is a blessing to yours.
~Janelle



Love Without Measure....   

Nearly 18 years ago I began a journey of love that would change the course of my life, and teach me to understand love in a much deeper way that I knew was possible. In the summer of 1992, I found myself forced to face the fact that I was not nearly as invincible as I thought I was. Through the events I was about to experience, I would discover the love of the Lord without measure.


That summer, I found myself sitting in my living room trying to put the pieces of my life together. I had completed the last of several pregnancy tests, wishing that they were wrong, and realizing that there was no way they could all be wrong. Now what? I always thought this happened to the “bad girls”. Was that me? What now? Why me?

My heart was drawn to look at the Bible sitting on my end table, which I had not read for several months. As l began reading it, with tears flooding my face I was reminded of the scripture my mother shared with me many times as she prayed for me while I was running from the Truth I knew in God. That verse was Philippians 1: 6, “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” I wasn’t sure what that meant to me yet. But I knew that it meant God would not give up on me, and somehow, neither would my mother.

The questions came much faster than the answers. I found myself doing what I knew to do, and working out a plan to survive. I figured out everything the best I could, but it was all lacking so much. This is NOT what I wanted for my life. I had goals, dreams, and plans for my future. But now, all I could do was figure out how to get what I needed to take care of this baby growing inside me. All my dreams were gone, at least for now.

Several months later, with the nursery ready, and my stomach growing, I met a lady who shared with me about Liberty Godparent Home (LGH), and the blessing she received through them in her daughter. I was hesitant to say the least, but went to visit. Somehow, I thought I didn’t deserve to be in a place that beautiful or have help for myself. I thought I needed to “pay the price” for my sinful living that had gotten me into this mess. I had heard so many people comment that “you made your bed, now you’ll have to lay in it” that I actually believed them. I was so far from knowing the depth of God’s love and grace.

By God’s grace, He brought me to the home where I found people who were ready to love me and not condemn me. They were warm and friendly, yet firm and direct. They gave me hope again. I was able to begin to see that God was extending His grace and love to me without measure. It was like a cup of water that was waiting for me, and when I was not strong enough to pick it up and take it, He began to flood my life with the living water of grace and love so that even though I couldn’t pick up the cup, the flood waters would eventually cover me with His love without measure.

As I spent time thinking, resting, reading, and listening to Scripture, I began to love a new passage. Psalm 19: 12-14 (NLT) became comfort to me and assurance that I could be something different.

“How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?  Cleanse me from these hidden faults. Keep your servant from deliberate sins!
Don’t let them control me.  Then I will be free of guiltand innocent of great sin.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”

During my time at LGH, I decided to place my baby with a family who the Lord led me to. I didn’t have any idea how I would ever be able to go through with that plan, because I had grown to love my baby more than anything. But, I also knew that there was an inner strength growing inside of me. I was used to people saying that I was a “strong lady” and that I could do anything I put my mind to, but if only they knew how weak I really felt. The strength that was growing in my heart was a different kind of strength. It wasn’t tenacity or “grin-and-bear it” strength. It was different. It was peace, joy, and love.

I began to feel the truth of II Thessalonians 2: 16-17 which says, “And may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and has graciously given us eternal comfort and well-founded hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good work and word.” Day by day, I understood more that it was not about my own personal fortitude, but the strength and grace that Christ could produce in me.

On March 3, 1993, my precious son was born. I felt love like I had never felt before. I knew our time together would be short, but there would always be room for him in my heart. The most loving thing I could give him was a family and a home that I wasn’t prepared to provide yet. It was through the next few weeks that I would experience the joy of giving love without measure.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

FLS is on Facebook!


After starting two adoption blogs and joining the world of Twitter, we figured it was time to round out our technology revolution and start a Facebook page for Family Life Services!

For all of you who are addicted to Facebook (whether you admit it or not), we have something for you that will keep you updated on ministry news, placement pictures, blog entries, adoption events, and related articles and news.

Note our disclaimer: Due to the nature of social networking and Facebook, Family Life Services cannot guarantee confidentiality of anything posted on the Facebook page or take responsibility for anything posted by other users. Joining the page is an acknowledgement of this disclaimer.

The Liberty Godparent Foundation, which is the umbrella organization over FLS, also has a page that will have information on how to get involved in supporting the ministry and participate in special fundraising events. There are great ways to get your family or business involved.

See you on Facebook!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Praying for Rachel...

For the next three weeks, Family Life Services will be missing one of our caseworkers.  Please join us as we pray for Rachel Curley and the group that she will be traveling with over the next few weeks.  We are praying for safety and that the Holy Spirit reveals Himself in magnificent ways!
~ Janelle


I’m taking a trip home! Or at least that’s how it feels. You see, Thailand was my home for six years, my first after college, and while I was living there I fell in love with the country, with its people, its children, with the culture. There is something about that place-the food, the smiles, the smells, the mountains up north and the ocean down south. I love it there!


What I don’t love, is the statistic that less than 1% of the 67 million people that live in this country know Jesus. There are so many who are missing out on the most meaningful relationship in the world. And so, in less than a week’s time my husband and I will board a plane along with a dozen high school and college students and we will spend the next two weeks teaching English to Thai students, building relationships, volunteering at a local orphanage, and hoping to spread, everywhere we go, the fragrance of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14).

This is a short term mission’s project. Can lives be changed in a few short weeks? Our prayer is that they can. We know that some of the biggest changes will take place in us, we will learn to love people more, to think about other people more, and hopefully the students on our trip, some of them leaving the U.S. for the very first time, will see that the world is a much bigger place than they may have thought. They will see that not everyone lives like they do, eats what they do (I can hardly wait to see who try fried cockroaches!), or worships Who they do. Check back in a few weeks to hear how it all went and maybe even see a picture or two!

~Rachel


But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.  2 Corinthians 2:14 (NIV)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Reconnecting through letters...

Over the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to speak with many of our adoptive parents about  communicating with birth parents. For some of them, this is scary--some have never had contact with the birth parent. A few weeks ago, Deanne shared some ideas on how to create Letters for Birthparents. Here are my thoughts on how to create a letter for families that adopted 16+ years ago and are trying to reconnect--or maybe even connect for the first time!

I often hear "Where do I start?" Ok, before you pick up a pencil or hit the first key on your keyboard, I want you to think about a few things. Grab a piece of paper and start jotting down some ideas!

1.   Do you know her/his first name? Sometimes starting the letter is the hardest part! Some choose to start the letter with "Dear Birthmom"... or use the nickname that you have been calling them in your home over the years. Please know it is also ok to say "Dear Birthmom, We don't even know your name but you have been in our hearts so much over the years...." Remember, they may not know your name either!

2.   What are some of your best memories since the last time you communicated with the birth parents? If this is your first letter, give her some top memories… maybe trips that you have taken as a family, a special holiday tradition, hobbies and interests, grades in school, etc. Sharing these events makes the birth parent feel a connection with your life.

Also, think about the birth parent’s interests. Maybe the birth family is religious... share stories about taking the child to church camp, his/her involvement in choir or share about when he/she made a salvation decision. Maybe you were told the birth father was athletic. Write about a special sporting event that your child did especially well and brought home a trophy.  Try and make a connection on what little information you do know about the birth family.

Please also include information on the whole family. Yes, we love to hear about the child but we also want to hear about the family he or she is growing up in!

3.  Share how you have spoken about adoption and birth parents to your child. Does he/she ever ask questions about the birth family? And if so, how do you respond to them? Explain how you have incorporated adoption into your conversations and home.

4.   Please ask and incorporate questions into your letter! Most birth parents have such a hard time responding to letters so please ask questions so we have something to respond to. Maybe even questions that the child has asked, “Betty has always wondered if you have other children?” or “We were told that you enjoyed playing the piano. Do you still enjoy playing?”

5.   Ending the letter is the perfect place to share your confirmation of the gift she has entrusted to you, to share how he/she has been loved through the years... and to tell her how you feel about her. Please don't sign the letter "Betty's Mom"...we know you are her mom--we chose you to have that role in the child’s life. To see your signature is like putting your stamp of approval on the words you just wrote!

As an extra bonus, include pictures. Show off those cheesy school pictures, dressy prom shots or photos of the child with braces! Give a description of what is going on in each snapshot. Seeing that the child is ok, healthy and even smiling helps continue the healing process.

I hope these ideas help you get started reconnecting with the birth family!

Birth parents, what else would you recommend to adoptive families? What information would you like to hear?

Have a great day!
~ Janelle

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Where I need to be....

"Lord, plant my feet right where you want them to be today."

This short and simple sentence has become one of my favorite requests as I walk through my day. I know that if I keep my heart and schedule open, He is faithful to lead me where He wants me.

Yesterday, I know my prayer was answered. I was sitting at my desk at a particular moment when a call came in that I needed to answer. As soon as I got off the phone I thought to myself "I never am at my desk at this time of day? Lord, thank you for planting my feet right at my desk. . . right where they needed to be!"

After getting up with a congested daughter last night, feeling the heat outside this morning, and looking at my never ending to-do list. . . the last thing I wanted to do was come into work today. While I was cruising up the road, I remembered that I needed to run by Target…yes, I always have time for a quick trip to Target!

As I walked through the cluster of parked cars, I passed a random cart in the middle of an empty parking space. I hurried past leaving it for someone else to move on their way into the store. “Why are people so lazy that they can't put the cart where it belongs," I mumbled to myself.

With each step I took farther away from the misplaced cart, I saw how lazy I was for leaving it. As I turned back, I had an internal dialog where I decided that because I was willing to go get the cart, I was probably protecting myself from a car accident later. How silly… I want God to put me where He needs me . . . even if it is to move a cart.

Thinking of the list of items I needed, I pushed my cart around the front of the building toward the entrance. A smile crossed my face as I saw an older couple--maybe in their mid 80's. As he held his bride’s hand, I noticed his unsteady footing. With each step, I watched his leather sandals drag on the concrete more and more. Then a woman came up beside him and asked, "Dad, are you ok?” I could tell by her face that she knew the answer before he could even open his mouth.

He stopped. As he released his wife’s hand, his daughter put her arms around him just as he lost his balance. Immediately, I walked (more like jumped) over and put my arms around this man as well. “Need some help,” I asked. “Please,” she responded with a worried smile. Together we held him up as he silently blacked out. Now what... “Oh Lord, I can't hold this man forever!” I looked at his wife and saw fear and confusion on her face. "Sure is hot out today," I said with a smile as I kept my footing. Just as someone brought out a wheelchair, I heard the man whisper, "I have my footing. I can feel my feet." Feet? Did he just say feet? “Lord, thank you for putting my feet right in this place, right at this time… right where this man needed me to be.”

Hearing his words that acknowledged his feet, we helped him sit down into the wheel chair. As I proceeded through the red open doors, the aroma of Target invited me in. I just smiled and knew, “This is exactly where God needed me to be, right at that moment.” If I had walked past that cart, I would have missed out on allowing God to use my feet to help another.

Where does God need you to be today?
~Janelle

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Documentary Series Seeking Adoption Stories

Family Life Services has been contacted by a production company who is gathering information to produce a documentary about adoption. It is my understanding that they are specifically looking for couples or individuals waiting for an adoption placement to follow through the time of placement and birth parents who are considering adoption for an unborn child. If you or someone you know may be interested in such an opportunity, please submit your story directly to Kara at High Noon Entertainment.



HIGH NOON ENTERTAINMENT (“CAKE BOSS,” “TOUGH LOVE”) IS PRODUCING A NEW DOCUSERIES FOCUSING ON ADOPTION!

High Noon Entertainment is teaming up with a major cable network to produce a documentary series about the real life joy, laughter and heartache American families and mothers experience from every side of the adoption process.

If you’re in the middle of your own real-life adoption story, we want to hear from you! We’re looking for dynamic people from all walks of life who have a current, compelling story focused on the adoption process.

Whether you’re… the married couple who’ve tried for years to have a child and are now looking into alternate options…the woman who has decided to become a surrogate for a family member or friend … or the pregnant woman considering an open adoption… we want to hear YOUR story.

If you have a story you’d like to share or know someone who does, please send a one- or two- paragraph summary and a digital photo of the person or people whose story is being told to adoptioncasting@highnoontv.com.

For more information, please contact Kara at 310/943-5029 or email at kudell@highnoontv.com

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Happy Adoption Day, Jaron!


The week started on a high note at FLS as we had a special adoption day of Baby Jaron on Monday, June 21st! Adoptive parents, Mathew and Laura, welcomed their second son into the family and big brother, Jacob, was eager to give lots of love to his little brother. We rejoice with them as they have experienced an answer to their prayers!


~Deanne

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Honoring the Birth Father

On my drive home from a long weekend in South Carolina, I started thinking about Father’s Day and the men that have played significant parts in my life. At some point in the midst of the Charlotte traffic, I let my mind ponder if “T” (K's birth father) thinks about “K” on Father's Day. It saddened me to think that Birth Mother’s Day is the Sunday before Mother’s Day but I have not heard anything about Birth Father’s Day. In my boredom, I flipped open my high-tech phone and entered “Birth Father’s Day” in Google. Nothing.

Hmmm… so why is it that we can honor birth mom’s and not have a day reserved to honor birth fathers? As a birth mom, it is easy to jump up on my pedestal and shout, "but I did all the work. I carried her for 9 months! I suffered through natural child birth". But then I slip back on my caseworker hat, get over my emotional rant and see it from K's perspective....T is her birth father and because of that one fact, he deserves to be honored just as I do. Whether she ever has a relationship with him or not, he is and will always be a part of her--and that has nothing to do with me.

I don’t know if T will ever read this but if he does, I would like to say thank you for allowing the adoption to happen. Thank you for not stopping her from growing up in an amazing home with an older sister to guide her and a younger brother to pester her. Thank you for the phone calls and random letters during my pregnancy. I know that allowing the adoption to proceed was the best way that you could have supported me and the best gift you could have given her at that stage of our lives.

Readers, you won't read much on my blog about T.. in fact, I feel as if I have already said too much.
To all the Birth Father’s out there… even T… I hope you were honored in a special way on Father’s Day.

~Janelle

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Upcoming Events...


Liberty Godparent Foundation is gearing up for our 2010 Baby Bottle Campaign!




The Liberty Godparent Foundation is asking churches and business' near & far to join us as we change lives with something as easy as our own pocket change.  Would your church be willing to join us? Maybe your Sunday School Class would like a special project? Or wouldn't this be a perfect way to teach the children about helping babies? Would you be willing to put a baby bottle up at your business?

The Liberty Godparent Home is a residential maternity home for young, unwed mothers that are facing unplanned pregnancies.  Over the years, they have assisted over 950 young ladies in preparing to either parent or place her child for adoption.  Seventeen years ago, I was one of those young ladies.... and am SO thankful for those that invested in not only my life, but the life that I was carrying!

During the month of September, we are hoping to have many churches, businesses and groups join our efforts.  If you are willing to help us, we are happy to supply all the bottles and even speak at the kickoff of the event! 

If you are interested or have any questions, please contact Sheree Bryant at sgbryant@liberty.edu or 434.592.4407

PS.  Did you know that just one baby bottle filled with change equals about $20?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Indulge a little and treat yourself to a Frosty!

Wendy's is celebrating the fourth annual Father's Day Frosty Weekend by satisfying Dad's sweet tooth and giving the whole family the satisfaction of helping the more than 123,000 children in the U.S. who are waiting for the love of forever families. During Father's Day Weekend, June 19 – 20, Wendy's will donate 50¢ for every Frosty sold to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

 
Here are some other ways that you can help a great cause:

This year, Wendy's is introducing Treat it Forward, in which specific social interactions between June 7 and June 20 on Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Frostycard.com will result in additional 50¢ donations, up to a total of $50,000, to the DTFA.

• Frostycard.com – Donation made for every free custom eCard sent; choose from a variety of backgrounds, frames and icons to create the perfect card!  http://www.frostycard.com/builder/

• Twitter – Donation made each time a user tweets from the Treat it Forward application found on www.facebook.com/frosty or uses the hashtag: #TreatItFwd .  That has to be teh easiest .50 donation ever!

• Facebook – Donation made for each user that gives a Virtual Frosty as a gift on Facebook, or tells their friends about Father's Day Frosty Weekend through the Facebook application found on www.facebook.com/frosty

• Foursquare – Donation made for every person that 'checks-in' to a Wendy's during Father's Day Weekend (June 19 - 20).

In 2009, Father's Day Frosty Weekend raised $1.8 million for DTFA, and since the inception of the program in 2007 more than $4.5 million has been raised.

"Dave Thomas, Wendy's founder, started the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption in 1992 to help foster children across the U.S. find permanent homes," said David Karam, Wendy's president. "Now in its fourth year, Father's Day Frosty Weekend remains a great opportunity for Wendy's and its customers to support this cause and change the life of a child."

Stop by Wendy's June 19 – 20 to celebrate Father's Day Frosty Weekend to support adoption, or Treat it Forward at http://www.frostycard.com/  or www.facebook.com/frosty.

Have a great day!

~Janelle

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wouldn't you love to know how they really think....

Are all the good men really taken--and where are they?  What if I miss Mr. Perfect?   Will a godly man ever want me? 

Every other week, I meet with the girls at the Liberty Godparent Home for Sex Respect class--and those are just some of the questions that I hear.  During our time together, we talk about dating, setting limits, etc.  My favorite class is when we invite a group of Liberty University guys to the Home so the girls can hear first hand how they really think.  Can you imagine being one of those young men sitting in front of a class of pregnant girls?  It is very funny to watch!

While preparing for my class,  I came across Priscilla Shirer's Blog where she interviewed her "single" brother on camera.  As I watched Anthony Evans answer the questions, I thought it would be a great clip to share with you!  You will hear his thoughts on: 

*what can a woman do to let a man know they are available but in an appropriate way?
*what can a woman do that turn off a man from pursuing her?
*and why is he not married?!


So, sit down and click here to enjoy the 8 min video.
Have a great day~

~Janelle

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

June Birth Mom Support Group Update


Family Life Services will not have a Birth Mother Support Group this week. This would have been the larger group including adoptive moms and waiting adoptive moms as well, but we are going to take a break for a couple of months this summer and are working on redesigning our format for support group and monthly meetings. We have some new ideas and are hoping to have a plan to implement them at the end of the summer...so stay tuned and enjoy the beautiful weather this week!

Friday, June 4, 2010

My #1 Fan

I love my Dad.  When I look back over my life, there is one person that really sticks out as someone who totally invested in me... someone who at one time, I blamed everything on (oh, those teenage years!) but now I see how much he did right.  We are two of the same.. sarcastic, willing to give to anyone, hard workers, and we love to eat good food!

One day during my pregnancy, I mentioned to him, "I want to start over with my life".  Being my biggest fan, my dad made the decision to start looking for a new job and relocate.  He gave me my new start.  When I left the Godparent Home, I entered a new town, a new church... a new life.  It allowed time for me to grieve while no one was watching.  It gave me time to bond with my parents again.  It gave me time to adjust to life without baby--or to create my new normal.

I thought he would be the perfect person to answer a few questions for the men out there!

1. What advice do you have for dad’s that are watching a daughter deal with a teenage pregnancy?
 Dad: "I have always said that it is the opportunity for him to be what he was ordained to be, a father. It is his responsibility to support the pregnancy of his daughter, provide safety, and set the tone for the direction for the rest of the family."

2. Was it hard not to tell your daughter what she should/shouldn’t do… how she should/shouldn’t handle the situation?
Dad:  "No because you "had a plan" for the pregnancy."
My Thoughts One of the best decisions my parents ever made was to respect my planning and provide me the tools to follow it through.  My first plan was to have the child.  My second was to go the Liberty Godparent Home for the duration of my pregnancy.  My third was to place the baby for adoption. Never did I hear how they felt but rather they were realistic on how my decisions would affect our family unit.

3. What regrets do you have about actions, advice or any part of the situation?
Dad:  "None. What you don't know is, that when I walked out of the bedroom for that few minutes, I turned the whole situation over to God."
My thoughts:  The night I told my parents about the pregnancy... it was a bad night in our house!  Never did I know (until now) that my father was in the other room giving the situation to His Heavenly Father-- I thought he was controlling his own frustrations, anger, etc.  So, from the night that my father learned of the pregnancy, he turned it over to Someone much bigger than himself!

4. How did you deal with the female emotions and drama that you had to deal with on a day to day basis?
Dad:  "I don’t remember any real problems"
My thoughts:  I do!  I do! I do!  Wow, with three ladies and my poor dad, we were always crying, always wanting to talk. etc.  Apparently, he just rolled with it and took the good with the bad!

5. Who was your biggest support?  Or did you not have someone to talk to?
Dad:  "Ray Bucklew"
My Thoughts:  This is a very cool & special answer for me to hear.  Ray Bucklew was a houseparent at the Home... one of the few males that worked at the facility.  Whenever my parents would pick me up or drop me off from a visit, I would notice my dad sitting with Ray in a corner somewhere talking.

6.  If you could turn back time, knowing what you know now, would you change anything?
Dad:  "No. It does no good to view events with hindsight."

I love this last answer.  What does it benefit to look to the past and say "but if I would have.."?  Of course we can look back and learn from our decisions... but don't get stuck there.  Keep moving forward and keep investing in those around you that you love!

Have a wonderful weekend!
~Janelle

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Placing after Parenting...

It is so easy to assume that all ladies that place a child for adoption are young teenagers... however, this is not always the case.  Read below as you hear another story-- the story of a mom that was already parenting two and had a tough decision to make!
~Janelle



I’ve been a single mom for four years to two wonderful kids (at the time ages four and two). So why now am I staring into these gorgeous blue eyes of my newborn son thinking I CAN"T do this?! I’ve just given birth to an eight pound eleven ounce baby boy and know right away he deserves so much better than what I can do at this time. I mean-- I’m in my twenties I knew how to be a mom--I am mom!!! It was just that usually women who place usually place their first child not their third. I should know better... I have been here twice before...c'mon Meaghan get it together!

Yes, I could be a mom to him but adding a third child to my life at this time wasn’t the best idea for HIM. Everything I did over the next few months was for HIM!!! He consumed my thoughts and actions I wanted to make his life WONDERFUL!!!!! So I placed him with a wonderful family.

So now what? What do I do now? How do I go on? ONE STEP AT A TIME!!!! During the time that I was making a placement plan for HIM I had to still be mommy to the two I had at home. Life still went on in our house and I wanted it to be as normal as possible for them. We started talking to them about adoption by reading books. Sam's Sister was the first book I read to them about adoption. I knew that they wouldn't really grasp the adoption idea at their ages, but wanted to introduce them slowly.

We have had visits with my birth-son since he was born, which will be three years in June. My kids have always known him but not known who he really was to them. So when my oldest, who was six at the time, came to me and said "Mommy, when are we going to see my brother again?" WHAT!!! How did he know? What do I tell him? I decided to ask him questions to see what he did understand and what he didn't. So for the next 30 minutes we talked. He knew more than what I thought. He began to tell me that Nicholas was his brother but he didn’t live with us because HIS mommy and daddy needed him. WOW I was shocked!!! I did tell him that was right but went into a little more detail to let him know that Nicholas was always going to be a part of our lives. My daughter, who was four, entered the conversation and we talked about adoption and what it means to our family.

Now, a year later, my kids love hanging out with Nicholas and his family. They have a great relationship!!!! My kids understand more about adoption than most adults. They are so amazing to me!!!! So yes, I am a mommy to two and a birthmom to one!!!!

~*~Meaghan~*~

FLS is Twitting!



Family Life Services  now has a twitter to get information out to our friends and supporters! Search us at "Family Life Services" and we are FlsAdoption - we would love to follow you as well!

Hope you all had a wonderful, long weekend!
~Janelle

Monday, May 24, 2010

WFL 2010 T-Shirts Are Still Available...






We have a limited number of Walk for Life 2010 T-shirts still available and we would love to share them with you! The Godparent Home girls tie-dyed children's t-shirts (above) that are all unique in patterns and color combinations. All T-Shirts are Gildan Ultra-Cotton (Pre-shrunk) and have been tie-dyed: sizes available are 2T, 3T, and 4T.

In addition, we have adult t-shirts available that are also Gildan Ultra-Cotton (Pre-shrunk) and are white (corporate sponsors listed on the back as well). However, we would be happy to have them tie-dyed, by special request, if you would rather jazz it up a bit: sizes available are M, L, and XL.

Whether you were able to join us for the Walk for Life or you were unable to be here, this is a fun way to show your support for our ministry. The suggested donation for each t-shirt is $5 and we'll be happy to mail them to you at no extra charge. Sizes are first come, first served, so email me at dhamlette@liberty.edu if you wish to request some t-shirts.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Walk for Life 2010

On May 1, the Liberty Godparent Foundation hosted our 10th annual Walk for Life at the Liberty University track.

I had the honor of officially starting the event and joining Jonathan Falwell on stage as he led in a prayer of dedication and said a few words about the ministry. As I walked up to the microphone, I slowly looked over the crowd taking in what was looking right back at me. Before me were adoptive families, residents (past and present) of the home, kids running around – including my own—and other people from the community. It was a sweet reminder that I am working for something and someone that is much bigger than myself!

As Jonathan spoke, my mind wandered to his younger years. I wondered what he may have heard from his father about the vision for the Home. What do my own children hear from my mouth about my hopes for the future? What torch will I light that my kids will carry on? How wonderful to see the torch passed from Jerry to Jonathan… and my son’s life impacted because of that torch.

After the walk, I couldn’t help but snap a picture of Jonathan and Carson together… the next generation.


                                        Carson and Jonathan Falwell 2010


                                                   Janelle and Jerry Falwell  2007

To read more about our day and see pictures, please visit our other blog…and we would love to have you join us next year!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Choices...

Last week on my way home from work, I dialed my mom's number in hopes of hearing her voice. I think she knew the minute she heard mine that I was exhausted and had so much on my plate. The duties of work, the emotions of Mother's Day, and getting ready for my hubby to go out of town for a week hit me all at once... Yuck! During our conversation, I started talking about choices and sometimes, the option we choose is to not make a choice at all and ultimately wait for the end result. A few days later, this arrived in my inbox....
~Janelle


MAKING CHOICES
Hit the snooze button or hit the floor? Oatmeal or Cheerios? Will it be slacks or capris today? Decision-making starts as soon as your eyes open every morning. But most of those moment-by-moment decisions aren't going to create a blip on the radar of life or have any lasting impact.

The decisions that a pregnant teenager is called on to make are different. Those decisions will matter--for a lifetime. Two lives hang in the balance, and many others will be affected. Choosing life for that baby is the first and most precious decision. I suppose it could happen that carrying the baby to term is the end result of denying the need to make a decision—and if so, thank God for allowing the defense mechanism of denial to have resulted in the choice of life!

But that's only the beginning of a series of choices that are weighty and potentially life-changing. And all of this is happening at a time when this young mom is in crisis-mode and her hormones and emotions are about as steady as a turn on the wildest amusement park ride. Imagine being in your mid-teens and being faced with a decision that you're told will set the course for your life and the life of the baby you're carrying—and it's a decision that carries a deadline and is binding. Before this the biggest decisions you had to make were about the cut of your jeans and the classes for next school year.

Maybe it would be just as easy to slip back into denial and let this decision make itself. Oh, but in this case, making the choice not to make a choice will have lasting consequences for those same two lives—and the lives of others. Defaulting on this decision could lead to a lifetime of regret. Better to be proactive and on task with this one. Better—but not easy.

Pray for those young moms faced with making a decision that requires them to reason beyond their scope of experience. Pray for those family members and friends who are struggling to understand and respect the birth-mother's choice. Pray for those counselors who are giving guidance so that each girl will become empowered to make the best decision she can—not a perfect one, as that is not an option, but the best one available to her.

I value the wisdom of the staff in the trenches with those birth-mothers. Their experience and knowledge is encouraging to birth-moms and families floundering in a sea of fear and angst. But experience and knowledge alone won't carry the day. It is in their being so saturated with God's truth that the same Spirit that endows Christ with discernment can minister in and through them. Isaiah prophesied that Christ would be filled with “The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.” (Isaiah 11:2-3).

I pray that every time one of this tough parenting-versus-placement decisions needs to be made, God's Spirit will be working through caseworkers and clients alike to provide supernatural decision-making power!

Birth Grandmother......Gloria

My Mom with my sister, Lisa
Two ladies who have been forever changed by my choices...

Friday, May 7, 2010

Celebrating you~

Happy Birth Mother's Day everyone~
  I know this is a bitter-sweet day and I want to honor each of you for the amazing & unique women you are!  Below are the words and thoughts of an adoptive mom.  I hope Carrie's words brighten your day and give you some insight to how birth mothers are loved!

~Janelle


Birthmother's Day. I had no idea such a holiday existed until a year ago. And “holiday” certainly isn’t appropriate, considering it’s never commercialized or noted like other celebratory events. You can walk into any store right now and be reminded with giant signs, pre-packaged gift sets, and overwhelming card aisles that Mother’s Day is quickly approaching.

But there’s no sign advertising this holiday. There’s no pre-packaged gift to appropriately honor her. I dare say you’d be hard-pressed to even find a single greeting card honoring Birthmother’s Day. In case you’re not aware, it’s always the Saturday before Mother's Day. I'm mindful of the fact that our adopted son’s first birthday was celebrated on Birthmother's Day, celebrating his life, honoring her, beyond grateful for the choice she made to give life and love, choosing us to be his adoptive parents.

I couldn’t find a card or gift that seemed appropriate to honor such a day, such a woman, so I made my own. It still seemed insignificant. Certainly there could never be a gift comparable to what she gave.

We're in the mediated stage of our relationship with our birthmother, sending letters and pictures, giving regular updates on his growth and development and his emerging personality. Every time I write to her and share stories of his newest antics, I can't help but wonder how she feels. I can't help but ask if she sees herself in him. With only a few short meetings before placement, we’ve relied on letters since then to get to know her better. I think about how much he innately takes after her and how much he learns from us. Nature versus nurture is a funny argument. I’m inclined to believe our adopted son shares the beauty of both. An adoptive family who loves, embraces and nurtures his inherent makeup.

This year he will turn two on Mother's Day. It’s the day I’ll be recognized as his mother. I’m sure there will be cards and gifts. I’ll stand in church and be recognized. Oh how I remember the painful Mother’s Days when I couldn’t stand because I remained childless. But the day before we will celebrate Birthmother’s Day. Honoring the birthmother who came into our lives, blessing us with a life we could have never created on our own.

I don’t have the words to say to you, birthmother, except from one adoptive mother’s heart please hear this:

I love you. As much as I love the son you placed in my arms. I didn’t carry him. I didn’t feel him kick. I didn’t hear his heartbeat in sync with my own. I didn’t labor through delivery, or worse torment over the decision to place. But I love you. As much as I love him. Your blood runs through his veins and his life is knit together with my heart, which means you and I are interwoven by the son we share.



I’m mindful of you, birthmother. I celebrate you. I honor you. Abounding thankfulness doesn’t seem enough to share what my heart feels for how you have blessed me. This is my prayer for him, and I have no doubt this is your prayer too, which is why you chose what you did.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Happy Adoption Day, Hannah Grace!


Friday, April 23rd was a special adoption celebration at Family Life Services as Hannah Grace became the daughter of adoptive parents, Eric and Heidi. Hannah Grace is Eric and Heidi's first child and this special day was celebrated with some extended family members from Heidi's family.

Eric and Heidi first met Hannah Grace's birth mother at the beginning of this year and made an immediate connection with her as they shared about what God has done in each of their lives and how He had led each of them on their respective journeys. The day was a vivid reminder of God's grace, protection, and goodness to each of His children. A slideshow has been posted on the sidebar with pictures from this blessed placement day for Hannah Grace.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Preparing for the hard days...

I remember my first Mother’s Day. I expected it to be hard… K was less than 2 1/2 months old and I was 17. I was starting to find balance back in my life and create a new normal for myself. However, I was in no way prepared for the emotional rollercoaster that day put me on!

Planning ahead and knowing that the day would be especially hard, my parents took me out of town to hopefully free my mind of the hurt that I was going to face. We headed north to PA for a visit my grandparents. This Sunday was like every other… church and lunch at a restaurant. As we entered into the church, every mother that walked through the door was given a blue or pink carnation. I stood silent as I watched my mom pick up hers out of the green bucket and then she passed one to my grandmother. My mom looked at me with sad eyes as if she wanted to hand me one but it was just so confusing—and neither of us were prepared for that moment. I stood in the gap of wanting to be recognized as a mom and also wanting to just be a teen again. How awkward to stand there and not grab a flower. The service continued and I just thought to myself “why in the world am I here?” I wanted to crawl under the pew and go to my “happy place”. But, I couldn’t and I didn’t. After church, we went to my grandmother’s favorite restaurant where again my mom and grandmother was greeted with “Happy Mother’s Day!” I never knew words could hurt so badly!

After lunch I sat silent in the back of our blue minivan trying not to self combust. My parents had no clue what I was dealing with inside and had no idea how to dry up the tears filling my eyes. Really there is no way to fix the situation…. I just had to get through it.

That day I learned how strong I was. I SURVIVED! And with each MD that passed, it got easier… life has gone on and I have learned how to prepare myself.

Ok, so let me give you some words of wisdom…

If this is your first MD, don’t go to church. Yes, I work for a Christian organization and I am recommending that you skip it! Protect yourself. Take a day to sleep in. Don’t watch TV—go to the movies with some friends and stay away from reading Facebook status. Feel free to have a good cry. Feel proud of yourself… you deserve it!

Remind yourself that if you are feeling strong emotions, they are only temporary and you can & will survive the day. Know that as each year passes, the emotions don’t run as harshly and look forward to the day that you again can focus on the mother in your life.
I really do hope that you have a wonderful Mother’s Day.

Janelle

Jeremiah 31:13

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Best For You by Kelsey Stewart

The Best For You, by Kelsey Stewart, is a unique children's book that is written from the birth mother's perspective to a child placed into an adoptive family. It simply, yet delicately, explains how the birth mother found out that she was pregnant at a time that she was young, not married, and wanted her child to be raised in a secure home, by two parents, who would love her child just as much as she did. This book does a masterful job of conveying the love of a birth mother, basic reasons for choosing an adoption plan for a child, how the birth mother decided that she was not ready to parent, what she was looking for in an adoptive family, and the sacrifices that she made to provide the best future for her child.


For parents of an adopted child, this book provides positive affirmation for a child, of any age, and opens the door to an age-appropriate conversation about the child's own birthmother. The concepts and values in this story can be applied to any domestic, infant adoption situation where birth parents voluntarily make an adoption plan. From the beginning pages that read,  "This is a story about love. This is a story about a gift from God that became an even greater gift to a family. This is a story about a beautiful baby whom I gave birth to. This is a story about you."   to the closing statements of,   "Always know that I love you. Adoption does not mean that I gave up. Adoption does not mean you were not loved or not wanted. Adoption means you have more than one family who loves you. Adoption means you will always be in my heart, whatever I may do. Adoption means I wanted the best for you." - the message is one of mutual respect for the birth mother and adoptive parents and one centered around unconditional love for the child.

The illustrations are simple, hand-drawn pictures yet they seem to enhance the authenticity of the story as it is not one driven by commercialism, but rather one directly from the heart of a birth mother. There is one section in the story that references the birth mother placing the child directly with the adoptive family in the hospital setting, which would not directly apply to families who utilized foster care, yet would be a time for adoptive parents to pause for discussion. I give this book a positive recommendation and believe that it fills a gap where literature has not been available in the past. The Best for You is available directly from the publisher for $9.99 at AuthorHouse Publishing, but is also available from Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

This book would make a great gift for any adopted child.  Add a personal message to the inside front cover and I am sure any adoptive family will cherish it!

The author, Kelsey Stewart, is the mother of 5 children: a daughter and twin boys that she placed for adoption and two boys that she is raising with her husband. She is an advocate for open adoption and loves to share her positive adoption story with others to show that she has been able to become a healthy, happy, and experience mother. Her personal blog is The Birth Mother Voice.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Exposing myself...

Oh yes, I said it… I am exposing myself. Here goes…. I AM A BIRTHMOTHER! All right, it is out there for the world to see. This “label” isn’t something that naturally comes up in conversation, nor is it something that people feel comfortable talking about. Now where do I find a t-shirt that boasts this new found exposure?!

For two years of my life, I worked at a cotton plant in rural North Carolina. When I left that job, I found myself taking much better care of my clothing and read every label before washing. “Wash with like colors” “Dry Clean only” etc. These labels (or instructions) are placed in the garment so that we can know how to best care for each piece. After my adoption decision, I think I have had many instructions and labels through the different stages of my life.

So back to my Birth Mother label…. It is a label that many of us ladies keep to ourselves, only to share it with a few that we trust through our lives. It is a label that is attached with a tag “Handle with Care” as if we are wool and will be shrink with too much heat. But over time, it is a label that can beam with unconditional love and pride in the choice that we made. For others, this label brings frustration with the mystery of the “what ifs”. Either way, it is our label to wear and soon you will decide if you can be washed with like colors or if you are still dry clean only.


I think I have some laundry to do!
~Janelle

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:12-13 (NIV)

Friday, April 16, 2010

New Adoption Movie....Mother and Child

I received an email from my long-time friend Kelly. She has many years of experience as an adoption professional and is also a FLS birthmother.  Kelly and her husband Jason has been married for almost 11 years and the proud parents of two adorable children.
~Janelle



I just wanted to let you know about a movie (secular, rated R, fiction - from what I can tell) that is coming, probably late spring/early summer, to our areas, that deals with members of the adoption triad - birth parents, adoptive parents, adoptees. My husband told me about it last night.

It looks like teens aren't the target audience, but we all know they do watch R-rated films. However, teens are not the only ones facing crisis pregnancies and more than teens need to embrace adoption.

I am not sure how this movie will resolve itself. I pray this movie is positively impactful and not a glorified Lifetime Movie on the big screen negatively giving one sided views on adoption. However, if it is, maybe it will spark good conversations about and challenges to negative claims against adoption. We just need to be ready with bold and loving responses.

I am curious to see it. I wonder if it is in response to the movie Juno. Even though Juno was crass and crude in parts, it showed the raw side of a birth mother's experience in adoption, which is hard to watch, but ultimately set adoption as a positive option for birth parents. We may not all agree with Juno's means to an end, but the message was still that adoption is a good option that should be explored by those in crisis pregnancy, or at least that's how I saw it.

No matter the outcome with this movie, we can all be thankful that adoption is getting more attention right now in areas other than news, politics and debates about abortion, and offering more opportunities for it to be discussed and considered. Whether we like the movie or not, I hope we will be willing to join in or start some healthy discussions about it with people. I am convinced that even the pro-abortion community can support the adoption option.

The movie is titled "Mother and Child" and here's the link to the movie's site

Monday, April 12, 2010

What is his label?

This last weekend, I attended an adoption conference. For the first session, I chose "Adoption Reunions." Really… can you ever hear enough adoption reunion stories? As I took my seat in the second row, I couldn't figure out the dynamics of the panel in front of me. Two younger women, two older women and an older man. As the session started, they were introduced... adoptee, birth mom, adoptive mom, birth moms husband, and birth moms daughter. Hold on... husband of the birth mom? I have watched enough Montel shows to know that they usually do not include the birth mom’s husband in this kind of discussion. What could he possibly add? Each did a wonderful job sharing a five minute intro of who they were and how they fit into the story.....until, it was Geoff’s turn. "Who am I?" he said. "I am Geoff. I am married to the birthmother. I am Elizabeth's (adoptee) half-sister's dad. I have no biological connection to Elizabeth at all. In fact, I have no label like everyone else at this table." Ouch! I was shocked at that comment. After a moment of silence, he went on to share his role on the process...and he is the one I learned the most from.

To give you a visual, Geoff is in his mid 50's, a shorter gentleman that had little hair on his head... but what hair he did have was white. When he smiled, his nose scrunched up and his entire face lit up. This man had my full attention. Geoff shared that for years he listened to his wife when she needed to talk about the adoption, watched his wife cry after giving birth to his daughter, and sometimes walked on eggshells trying to figure out how to fix the situation. Once the letter from the office came that the adoptee wanted communication, he helped his wife juggle the thought of communication after 23 years of knowing nothing, worrying about expectations, trust issues and I am sure much more than he chose to share.

I sat in awe of this man who obviously loved his wife. He went on to share about attending Elizabeth's wedding and introduced himself to people as the birth mom’s husband. He said that everyone in his family has a biological tie to Elizabeth-- except him-- and I think in some ways that disappointed him. As he spoke of Elizabeth and the relationship that they have, he beamed with pride and the love that he had for her was so evident. How amazing that this young lady was loved by so many people... even those not biologically linked to her!

During the next few hours, my mind kept wandering back to what I had heard and questions started running through my own mind. What were my expectations from my own husband in regards to the adoption? Did I assume that just because he married me that he would be comfortable with my past? Did he want to be part of K’s life as well—or was it just a job that I threw on him? Did I just assume that he knew his label and fit comfortably within it?

When I got home, I told him about Geoff and the way that he doesn't have a defined role in the adoption. As I sat at the bottom of the bed, I watched as a huge smile came across his face. "I've been trying to figure it (the label) out for years." Readers, please know my hubby is amazing when it comes to my adoption and because of my profession, it isn't something that I am shy to talk about. It's just something that we never had to talk about.

For the first time, I listened to adoption from my husband’s perspective. What he shared with me made me love and appreciate him even more—and I gained a new found level of respect. No, he has no connection to K biologically but he loves her because she is part of the person that he loves. We had a great...no, fantastic talk about how he feels and it was exactly what I had hoped for. What a true picture of unconditional love...not only of the love he has for me, but also for the daughter I placed. It is almost as if he had to adopt her in his heart in order to love me and the person I am.

~Janelle

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."  I Cor. 13:13

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Everything to Me....

I got a call from a client a few minutes ago.

"Janelle, have you head "Everything to Me" 

Oh yeah... I know that tune.  It is definitly one of my favorite adoption "friendly" tunes.  If this is the first time you have heard it, expect to tear up a tad. Enjoy!

Have a great day,

~  Janelle



Mark Schultz music video of his song "Everything to Me" dedicated to his birth mother and the most important gift she ever gave him... life.