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