Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2018

Toddler Interrogations

I invited Ezra to sit with me this morning as I wrote my blog post.

His eyes immediately were drawn to the thumbnail pictures of me on the screen.

"There's Nate. And there's Nate," he said.

"Daddy," he continued, "is that your glasses and your head and your hair and your chin?"

Yes, dear. Yes, it is.

Now it's onto the computer battery.

"Daddy, what's this called?"

A computer battery, I responded.

"Oh. A computer battery. Daddy, why is this for your mouse [pointing at the USB]? Is that to make the mouse and that to make the mouse move on the screen [point at the keyboard]?"

And so it goes.

Little minds connect all of the dots, starting with the right questions.

All we have to do is answer them, and keep answering.

Why Big Families Can Be Big Fun

A wonderful piece in The Wall Street Journal this past weekend beautifully summarizes the joy of having a big family. Written by Mark Oppenheimer, "Yes, We Really Do Want to Have A Fifth Child" articulates why more children doesn't (always) mean more crazy.

For example, Oppenheimer shares that:

"Every one of our four children has improved my life""With a big family, I never have to feel guilty about the clutter""Having children has made our marriage stronger
Here, here. The column reminded me of comedian Jim Gaffigan's routine about having four youngsters, which seems to be frequently frowned upon, viewed as an Olympic feat or solemnly mulled at a distance by people mourning our adult autonomy:



Of course, Gaffigan now has five children, as will Oppenheimer.

Julie and I have thrown in the towel at four. But there's still a lot to live for, and by living,  I mean running at breakneck speeds through life, stopping for no one and dragging our…

Parenting Energy At Zero? Find A Jump Rope

Tonight, we sent the boys outside to burn off energy. A strong breeze nearly made up for the muggy air. They opted to clamber onto the tire swing suspended by yellow rope from a towering maple in our backyard.

I had Phoebe strapped to my chest, so to push them I simply gave them a series of forceful shoves with my sneaker. This wouldn't cut it.

"Spin push us. Faster. Hold on, I need to get off. Hold on, I need to get on. Why aren't you pushing me higher?" So it went.

My energy tank had nearly drained dry when Julie took an extra piece of rope lying nearby and turned it into a jump rope. I held the other end. The boys became fast friends with the game. In short order, they learned to jump as the rope arrives at the ground in front of your feet. They laughed as the rope snagged their ankles and black wading boots. They jockeyed to be next in line.

The moral of this story is twofold. First, marry a creative person. Second, allow yourself to find simple ways to entertain…

Adoption Grit: Take Ownership Of Your Destiny

I once tried to climb Pikes Peak with my brother and two friends, also brothers. Morning dawned and we had all the enthusiasm in the world. Gradually moving up the side of a 14,000-ft. rock tends to be wearing, but we pressed on.

Periodically, we stopped to take in the beautiful views and to laugh about something. The higher in elevation you rise, the funnier things get. It's probably the lack of oxygen. I like to credit my impeccable sense of timing.

As the afternoon began to pass us by, it eventually became clear we had somehow wandered off the path. It hadn't been marked properly. Instead, we found ourselves climbing alongside the blacktop that winds its way to the top. Providentially, some friends we'd intend to hike with drove right past us and took us up and back down again.

Back at more moderate Mile High elevation, we ate pizza and took naps. Evidently, mountain climbing isn't in my life description.

Even though I'm not particularly talented at racing to th…

Early Praise For 'Frozen, But Not Forgotten'

I'm deeply honored that our family's embryo adoption journey is inspiring others -- not because we're involved, but because it means other little people could have a better chance at life.

As a case in point, I have been actively pursuing endorsements for my new book, "Frozen, But Not Forgotten" and recently received the following from Daniel Nehrbass, Ph.D., President of Nightlight Christian Adoptions:

“I have read the few books that exist about embryo adoption. This book makes a unique contribution: helping people really envision themselves as adoptive parents. Birt helps prospective adoptive parents become  psychologically healthy to prepare for adoption, with profound advice on topics such as how to explain your story to other people in front of your children. Anyone considering embryo adoption, or working in the field of artificial reproductive technology should read this book.”  

Adoption is a deeply personal choice, but it takes an enormous network of cham…

5 Benefits Of Embryo Adoption

I've found that one of the first barriers to considering embryo adoption is often simple: Parents want to understand what exactly it is. That's the barrier I personally ran up against until I had considered why it might be a fit for our family.

Embryo adoption can be a good fit for a number of reasons, five of which I'll explain here. Every family is different, and you might determine it won't work for you. With any adoption, you must first consider whether you and your spouse are physically, emotionally and financially ready for the journey ahead.

If those pillars are in place, these benefits will come naturally:


Embryo adoption allows you to bond with your baby from the beginning. Because embryos created during in vitro fertilization (IVF) are frozen at sub-zero temperatures, which pushes pause on development, your embryo baby essentially starts from just a few days old at transfer to the uterus. Contrary to a popular myth, your baby's age isn't determined by…

How To Create Your Adopted Child's Origin Story

Few responsibilities as a parent are as important as helping your children understand their origin story -- a term I'm borrowing from the great comic book heroes. If you've ever told little people an anecdote about their life many years ago, or even before they were born, you haven't had to wait very long for their eyes to light up or their questions to roll in.

Even at an early age, the idea each of us is reliant on the generation before us to get our bearings is awe-inspiring. What's more, we all find it fascinating to know what we were like at an age we can't remember.

For example, my mom always enjoyed the story about the time I stood on a stool in the living room banging on the old pie chest, which was a big no-no. When Mom, who was working in the kitchen, asked what I was doing, I told her that I was standing on the promises -- a reference to a Christian hymn I'd undoubtedly heard sung many times during worship services.

Creating an origin story for your…

Four Arguments Against Embryo Adoption

As a cub newspaper editor, I had a lot to learn. This proved especially true when it came time to coach the paper's only reporter,  who happened to be perhaps 30 years my senior.

You can probably guess what happened next: differences of opinion. These differences are common to any hot-button issue, and that includes embryo adoption, as I'll explain in a moment.

Allow me to set the stage. Back at my first real newspaper job, a woman had been arrested on suspicion of hitting and killing a construction worker while driving drunk. We knew about the story early and had the opportunity to send our reporter out to the scene.

This would make any decent person uncomfortable. But as a reporter, your role is to understand the story, treat everyone involved with the greatest respect and share what you can--as dispassionately as you can--with your audience.

Well, our reporter didn't agree with me or my publisher. She didn't want to go. In the weeks that followed, a common refrain …

Why Children Shouldn't Break The Bank

I wrote earlier this week about funding your embryo adoption. So I felt compelled to share a brief post on this article, about the cost of raising children, at Fatherly.com by Dave Baldwin.

The premise of the article is that even though some costs, such as food, have fallen precipitously in the past several decades, other costs have risen. Baldwin points the finger at child care, education and health care as the three most obvious areas where prices have climbed and will continue to pose challenges.

Those points are well taken, and depending on where you live or what health challenges your children may face, they are likely especially pronounced.

Yet it bears noting that children don't have to be all that expensive, barring catastrophe. I'm no financial planning expert, and I'm sure our family's expenses will grow as our children age. I certainly hope that's the case. All along, we've been praying that our children will reach adulthood. Part of the commitment …

Living The Nightmare

How often do we mentally characterize our days as living the nightmare while publicly declaring we are living the dream?

There's no need to varnish the truth. Politicians have a corner on that market.

Live with bruises. Admit when you are hurting. Ask for help. Complain if you must. Celebrate when you can.

If you had a bad day, say so. If your feet hurt, stop walking for a minute and throw them on the ottoman. (Literal throwing not advised; "placing" is probably best.)

This afternoon, I attended to half a dozen phone calls from the home office. I had to beg mercy from my mentor, who covered for a schedule conflict. Meanwhile, Phoebe dozed in her room and Ezra rolled around in his bed. He didn't nap, but he minded his manners and hopefully snatched a little rest.

The older boys arrived home and I poured circle crackers into plastic bowls while staging a conference call and troubleshooting through some technical issues.

It seemed like an epic battle -- hereafter known…

How Much Does Embryo Adoption Cost?

One of the reasons embryo adoption stood out to Julie and I from the beginning is the price tag. In general, it is more affordable than other types of adoption.

What's more affordable? All told, we spent approximately $14,500 on our adoption journey. This includes expenses such as:
Adoption agency fees (e.g. application phase, drawing up the contract between your family and your placing family, the matching process, etc.)Home studyEmbryo shippingEmbryo transferPre- and post-transfer fertility clinic visits plus fuel to/from (our clinic was located about 2 hours from our home) You can dig into the numbers in more detail by viewing this infographic for our agency, Nightlight® Christian Adoptions, or by viewing this breakdown from the Embryo Adoption Awareness Center. The center also has put together a webinar on the cost topic, which I've embedded below.

To be clear, these costs assume a successful pregnancy that is carried to term. Recent research -- admittedly one study versus…

My New Embryo Adoption Book 'Frozen, But Not Forgotten' Publishes April 1, 2019

In first grade, I turned my journal into a book depicting scenes from my young life. I titled it "Little House in the Big City" and made it official by writing the title in permanent marker on the gold spine. The cover had a picture of a droopy-eared golden retriever against a red background.

OK, so the title and the cover didn't exactly line up. Work with me here.

Today, I have a different and arguably more exciting announcement. My first real book publishes April 1, 2019, from Carpenter's Son Publishing, and I couldn't be more thrilled because of the content.

This project has a singular mission: Help parents discover, learn about and consider embryo adoption as they build their families.

It is titled "Frozen, But Not Forgotten"**. Each chapter guides parents through the process Julie and I encountered, including making initial inquiries with adoption agencies, debunking myths about stolen babies, explaining why a fertile couple spends months with inf…

Make No Excuses

I come from a long line of apologists. By which I mean, we apologize and express regret for many if not most of the things we do, most days of the week. Perhaps you know people like this.

As a parent, I have come to realize that this approach is largely a waste of time and energy. Both of those resources are in short supply.

Who cares what other people think about your decisions? It's tough to critique people who act with integrity and within the framework of their faith.

For example, tonight my energy is waning. Julie and I just completed our monthly budget. It is prime-time entertainment, let me tell you.

I'd like to keep on pushing forward on my manuscript. That big announcement I've been promising is coming any day now. I'm beyond excited. It pains me that my eyelids are drooping.

Microsoft Word will be around tomorrow, just as it is today.

But tonight, I am saying: No. I've heard it's a complete sentence. You have my permission to say "no" to so…

Like Sardines In A Storm

Last night, I awoke to the sound of rain pounding the sides of the house, thunder pealing, and hail nicking the windows. The storm seemed to be escalating itself into a frenzy.

One of the boys wandered into our room -- Titus, I think? -- and Julie asked whether I thought we should bring the other children downstairs. I hemmed and hawed. I couldn't totally gather my thoughts, it being about 1 a.m., and I didn't think the storm seemed particularly out of the ordinary.

Eventually, Julie and I marched upstairs. She gathered the remaining boys, all of whom rolled into our bed a la this scene from "If A Body Meets A Body," one of the greatest Three Stooges episodes of all time:

I gathered Phoebe, who enjoyed some late-night snuggles with her mommy as her brothers tossed and turned and I admired it all from the foot of the bed.

Like sardines in a storm, our boys packed tightly together and survived until things had died down.

Then, we marched everyone back up the stairs wi…

'A Link Between Angels And Men'

I ran across a quote today that I think is particularly true and that parents know better than anyone: “A babe in the house is a well-spring of pleasure, a messenger of peace and love, a resting place for innocence on earth, a link between angels and men.”

That observation comes from the English writer Martin Farquhar Tupper, who lived from 1810 to 1889.

How is it that those words still resonate nearly 130 years after his death? Perhaps it is because they capture the joy of a newborn. Few sights are as innocent as a baby fast asleep, a hand across the chest, tiny fingers spread out and still. Indeed, it is this restful and unimpeded state so many adults seek and so few seem to find.

Another explanation for the power of the passage is this: We have become so accustomed to the violence and suffering in our world that we long for the opposite state of being.

It is a reality accessible only in our imaginations--and in the lives of our children.

No wonder we seek to give them the very bes…

Growing Older

Phoebe looks nothing today like she did four months ago. But at more than 15 lb. and growing taller than ever, she is more adorable and lovable by the day.

The boys are growing up, too. I realized this as Titus managed to take care of his bedtime routine without a thousand complaints. He simply set his mind to gathering his blankets around him and picking up one stuffed animal after the next, squeezing as many as possible into his hands and arms before lying down.

You can't stop progress. Or cuteness.

Might as well enjoy the the journey.

A Plea To Abandon Technology

Our children risk becoming a generation of robots programmed by mass media. As a journalist, I'm skeptical of anyone who claims the media are simply a tool of evil people used to manipulate and disseminate falsehoods. So I make that statement only half-seriously.

On the contrary, I believe strongly in the First Amendment as a vehicle for free expression; in the free market for the economic opportunity it creates and the platform it provides for the innovation and development of new products and services; and in technology for its ability to connect people and create value in ways past generations never dreamed possible.

Nor am I neglecting the value of a thoughtfully designed children's tablet game or the joy of educational TV programming, which I consumed voraciously as a youngster.

My point is this: We should encourage our children to spend more time outdoors and less time inside. I heard a tremendous presentation at the Sustainable Brands 2018 conference in Vancouver earli…

Are Embryos Property Or People?

It depends on your point of view.

Under U.S. law, embryos are property. Earlier this year, many embryos perished when two fertility clinics experienced malfunctioning technology that had kept them frozen, as The Daily Beast has reported. Families filed lawsuits arguing the embryos should be given protections as humans, but legal scholars shared a variety of reasons that likely wouldn't happen.

Many Christians believe life begins at conception, though even that idea increasingly appears up for debate amid people adhering to a Judeo-Christian point of view. Arguments against embryos as people include uncertainty over when the soul and the body are fused, the notion life develops in stages and that God distinguished between fetus and fully born person in Old Testament law, according to the Slate link shared earlier in this paragraph.

On the other end of the spectrum, bloggers such as Empires and Mangers have noted it's impossible to get to a fully born person without starting fr…

Sleepy Tots Snuggle Best

I opened my computer this morning and began to contemplate what I'd write about when Ezra wandered into the living room behind me.

Our bleary little 3-year-old rubbed his eyes. His pajama getup this morning includes a green top with Santa Claus logos emblazoned across it and navy blue pants with race cars.

I invited him to sit in my lap. As he climbed up to the table in the kitchen, he quipped: "I thought it was breakfast."

I explained that breakfast would be coming, but it's still pretty early.

Then he began asking questions:

"Why is it blowing?" (Because there's a fan in the computer that keeps it from getting too hot.)

"What if you press the circle?" (It moves the mouse around the screen.)

And then he just sat in my lap, watched me type, pushed his stubby finger along the track pad, and flopped his head from side to side onto my forearms.

You can't beat a quiet morning. You sure can't beat a sleepy, snuggly tot.

I overslept today a…

Selfish Parenting Versus Selfless Parenting

As parents, we often get the terms "selfish" and "selfless" mixed up. If we are doing something that makes us personally happy, we reason, we are being selfish. If, on the other hand, every waking moment is spent in service to our children, we are being selfless.

Ah, but to the contrary.

There is a third term we have overlooked, and it is the most applicable in this scenario. It is "self-deprecating." This is the act of downplaying your own contributions.

There's nothing wrong with being modest, or putting others first, or sacrificing temporary needs for long-term gain. But if you repeatedly sacrifice what you personally need -- sleep, affection, peace of mind, adult relationships, time alone -- you will be unable to provide the best possible energy, enthusiasm, and support for your children.

The rule is simple if difficult to apply: Care for yourself, and your children will be well-cared for.

An Epic Meltdown

Ezra had a major coming apart this evening, probably the product of too many long days and late nights. He hit. He kicked. He yelled over our family Bible story.

I reminded him of Ephesians 6:1 where children are instructed to obey their parents.

That went over like a lead balloon.

After two trips to the bathroom to arm wrestle a toothbrush into his mouth, a potty break and two Kleenexes, the house is finally quiet. Except for the dog, who is snoring.

I will save my meltdown for another day, when I have a bigger crowd to feel sorry for me.

The Sad Truth About Lost Family Time

Today as I drove to pick up Titus from Safety Camp, I noticed a funeral procession headed toward my car. I pulled over to the side of the road as had the other drivers around me out of respect for this family that had lost a beloved member.

Life has a way of sobering us up to the reality that we are only here for a short time. Everyone's allocation is different and unpredictable.

In recent months, with a fourth baby and a regularly evolving career, I have caught myself getting so caught up in checking boxes off my to-do list and ensuring everyone's needs are met -- including my own selfish desire for more, better, faster -- that I lose track of the moment.

My children will only be little once. My laundry will most assuredly outlast me and probably my grandchildren.

I have started asking myself a question when I am at home with my family. It haunts me, and that is why I ask it. I fear too few of us do it.

The question is this: If this is the last time I am with the people I lo…

Four Helpful Online Adoption Resources

Reading is an important part of growing as a parent. If you are an adoptive parent, or you are considering adoption, check out the following resources. I've started reading these regularly and have been encouraged by the content these writers are sharing with the world:

Sherrie Eldridge Adoption Blog (first-person perspective and insights from the child's point of view on adoptive parenting and foster care)Creating A Family (practical tips and insights for adoption and foster care)Adoption Homestead (watch for photos of chickens and cute kids)Barren to Beautiful (first-person perspective on infertility from a Christian viewpoint)  Post your favorites in a comment to this article -- I'm confident there are many I've yet to discover.

Mondays And The Promise Of New Beginnings

Our culture is convinced that Mondays are the worst thing since trash cans and spoiled sardines. You  don't have to buy into that.

The truth is, Mondays represent a fresh opportunity to start off on a strong note. Your children might be grumpy because of the awkward transition back into the work week and daily routines. You might be frustrated the alarm on your phone rang a little too loudly and too early this morning. You might be bleary-eyed and mentally foggy.

Never mind all of that. See Monday for what it really is: the ultimate reset button.

Nothing magical happens on Mondays. Wizards won't start walking down your driveway to grant you three wishes or to put away your dishes. (An unintentional rhyme.) You won't open your mailbox to find $1 million from Publishers Clearing House. And the odds are against a windfall that enables you to quit your job and live off of the interest, at least until your career is a little more mature.

Yet you do have one powerful asset: the…

Do Any Parents Actually Sleep Eight Hours Per Night?

Read a business book and you're bound to encounter the Myth of the Eight-Hour Night. Julie and I laugh about this one all of the time.

The story goes something like this: To be at your best, it's essential to get at least eight hours of sleep at night. Shut off your laptops and smartphones. Bury yourself beneath the covers of your bed. Cover your windows with blackout curtains. (Preferably before you lie down.) Sleep without interruption until daybreak.

Please. By the time Julie and I get the kids down at night, it's 8:30 or 9. We generally go our separate ways and put in another 90 minutes to two hours. Julie is wrapping up her Ph.D. this fall. I'm working on that project I promised I'd tell you more about soon.

Did I mention we like to spend at least a couple of minutes together at night, just the two of us? It's hard to stay married if you never see each other. It's not the same when the children are awake. They're always so ... needy. Most of the t…

Why Parents Benefit When They Lend A Hand

Much of what you know and believe about the world comes from a very specialized set of experiences. Your wisdom relies on the people you know, the challenges you've faced and the wins you've successfully accomplished.

You don't know what I know. And I certainly don't know what you know.

That's why we share. It's why we blog. It's why we post on Facebook and pin on Pinterest and tweet on Twitter. It's why we shut off all of these platforms and seek out real-life experiences with others.

Unless you believe everyone in your world is purely a self-promoter, you understand the value of relationship and hearing from other people. That's true even if their experiences don't line up with your own.

For all parents, being part of the community means having a support network. The network affirms what you already know: Your role in your child's life is important, but you can't control everything. And that's OK.

Just be available in case other f…

Five Adoption Barriers You Can Overcome

A couple years ago, as I returned home from a business trip visiting farms in Wisconsin, I masterfully multi-tasked by driving and talking on the phone. I bet you've tried it before, too. It's a particularly sensible practice on a two-lane highway that feeds into a busy airport.

It's even smarter when you are distracted by the topic of the conversation, which in this case happened to be: Are you sure you're ready to adopt a baby? Julie wasn't posing the question. Our adoption agency was to blame.

"How dare they!" you might be thinking. "An upstanding and principled family such as the House of Birt must never be brought low by a double-crossing adoption agency. Why, I'd give them my own child if the state would allow it. And if I didn't need them to care for me in my infirm years!"

Well, dear friend, I have to challenge you -- and I'll do so politely because you said so many nice things about my family -- because this is actually you…

Three Reasons You Should Keep Hustling When You're Dog Tired

I'm working on a big project that represents both a personal milestone and what I hope will be a tremendous help to parents seeking to build their families. Shh ... don't tell anyone just yet. I'll share more details soon!

In the meantime, the process of putting in extra hours early in the morning and late at night got me to thinking: What does it take for worn out parents to get ahead on the things that matter to them?

From my own personal experience, it requires at least three daily personal reminders. Equip yourself with these tools and you'll command your destiny:

You have gifts. Too often, we resign ourselves to second-class status because it takes copious energy and fight to bust it day in and day out. We just don't have it in us. Or so we think. But I'd remind you of Paul's instructions to the young preacher Timothy: "Do not neglect the gift you have" (I Timothy 4:14, ESV). Each of us has unique talents and gifts to give the world. Our child…

The No. 1 Most Glaring Hidden Truth About Millennial Parents

There is a secret I have been keeping from you. I attribute it to the lot my parents cast by placing me squarely into the millennial generation. (Well, old millennial, anyway. Some days, when my kids push my buttons, ancient.)

Do you want to know what it is?

I don't have any more of a clue how to parent than you did when you were my age. I'm simply making it up as I go along, relying on the best book I've found to provide my children with a moral framework and a lot of friends and family who successfully raised young people before me.

Sure, parenting in the 21st century presents plenty of challenges. You can see and hear an abundance of bad stuff at every turn. The technology and privilege of American life provide unlimited access to all kinds of vices.

But despite the fact that common sense isn't common, as one of my friends likes to say, there are still plenty of parents earnestly trying to do right by their children. They are raising them to be other-centric, hard-w…

Adopting? Be Persistent

One boy broke into tears after a stray basketball bonked him in the head. A girl hung her head and slumped her shoulders after repeatedly aiming for the basket and failing to land a shot.

Such was the last session of a five-day youth basketball camp Micah attended this week. I worked through lunch and took a break early afternoon to watch the final day. Micah really wanted to show off his skills. He was the first youngster to rush to the center of the court and sit down at the coach's request. He hustled through all of the exercises -- dribbling forward and backward, carefully navigating around tiny fluorescent hubcaps, sprinting across the court.

I couldn't help but admire his persistence. Granted, he's my oldest son and I beamed when I saw how he respected and honored his coach by listening and following instructions. But beyond that, Micah and all of his teammates impressed on me the value of youthful energy and stick-to-it spirit. Sure, some of them cried and needing …

Don't Forget About Your Mamaw...

...because Mamaw never forgets about you. It's incredible to me that to this very day, Mamaw (aka my grandma, aka my mom's mom) still sends me handwritten letters. It isn't once in a blue moon. It's a good twice or more per month.

She has been doing this as long as I can remember, certainly since college began 14 years ago and probably earlier. Mamaw fights through arthritis and shaky hands, and she is extremely self-aware in her letters, apologetic for words that don't look quite right or the fact it has taken two or three days to piece together enough content sufficient to place in the mail. She is unafraid to admit loneliness after the passing of my grandfather this past November.

I love how she observes the world. A city girl who spent most of her life in the country, Mamaw is acutely aware of how the weather changes from day to day and shares as rain turns to ice turns eventually to mud puddles.

She is deeply empathetic. Her letters are filled with musings ab…

July 11: A Day Of Joy And Of Sorrow

Editor's note: My wife, Julie, surprised me this week with this guest post she wrote -- equal parts beautiful and heartbreaking --  to commemorate the anniversary of our embryo transfer. I should say her embryo transfer because she carried our amazing little girl for nine months. Thank you, sweetheart, for memorializing three precious lives and our experience. You are amazing. -Nate

Exactly one year ago today, after many shots, pills and privacy probing doctor’s appointments, we had finally arrived at embryo transfer day. I was so nervous on this day and hormonal! We had planned to have the embryologist thaw out two of the three embryos we had adopted for transfer. After I had gotten changed in the prep room into a hospital gown for the transfer, our coordinator brought us back a photo of the embryo that was ready to transfer. I remember looking at Nate in awe at the little ball of cells that would become a baby. Then the questions started forming in mind: What about the other one…

Empathy For Infertility

This post is purposefully brief. I have no experience with infertility personally, but I have tremendous empathy for couples that live with this reality every day.

I heartily encourage you to read a recent open letter on the subject of how to support couples facing infertility from Matt Arbo, director of the Center for Faith and Public Life at Oklahoma Baptist University, and author of the newly released book, Walking Through Infertility.

"Recognizing that many couples in your church community are struggling with this will invariably change the way you think about your community," Arbo writes in a guest post at Crossway.org.

Think differently. Live with open arms for those whose experiences differ from your own. And offer your support and compassion at every turn.

Aren't You Afraid They'll Take Back Your Baby?

In many ways, raising and parenting a child whose genetic heritage is not the same as your own is no different than raising or parenting any child. All children have basic needs common to all people, including food and affection, as well as age-appropriate needs (e.g. diaper changes and burping).

But this unique form of parenting also raises some questions that wouldn't cross most parents' minds. One I've heard a lot is: Aren't you afraid that one day, your baby's placing family will decide they want her back and take her?

I want to assure you that if you are considering embryo adoption, you shouldn't let this fear haunt your decision. Let me explain why.

It is indeed true that in the case of conventional domestic adoptions, birth mothers have the opportunity to keep their baby rather than placing him or her for adoption. Adoption Network Law Center has done a nice job compiling the various state-level requirements for parental consent before an adoption can p…

Parenting With The Ghosts Of Times Past

If you have enjoyed the blessing of good parents, you probably have a collection of favorite memories you can bring to mind at a moment's notice. In my case, some of those memories include historic homes with empty corridors, long shadows and echoes of the past.

You see, I have always been drawn magnetically to a good ghost story. I grew up on the "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" series by Alvin Schwartz and the "Goosebumps" series by R.L. Stine. My dad purposefully chose allegedly haunted locations for family stays and tours -- among them, Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs, Colo., and the Whaley House in San Diego, Calif. Once during a summer back in Colorado from college, my mom scheduled a special tour of the Stanley Hotel in Estes park. We were the only ones on the tour.

It's OK if this sounds completely weird to you. It made complete sense to me. My parents knew what interested me and, rather than shying away from a young man's seemingly bizar…

Baseball Brings Out True Joy

Phoebe had an absolutely exhausting day. We've been on a grand tour of Springfield, Mo., and today visited the aquarium at Wonders of Wildlife -- such a treasure -- and attended our first Springfield Cardinals minor league baseball game.

You'd think after all that running around, Phoebe would be exhausted. Instead, she had nothing but grins and coos until 10:30, when she zonked out in my arms.

Babies get a bad rap for being messy, fussy, needy and generally of ill intent, particularly from people without children. If you are reading this post, though, you probably know better. Even children under age 1 can be adorable, endearing and soak up their surroundings with minimal effort on your part.

Rather than being startled into tears by the end-of-game fireworks display, Phoebe ate it up. She stared in wonder as lights illuminated the darkened sky. Her chubby legs and feet with purple socks remained still.

Evidently, baseball brings out true joy in the heart of a three-month-old.…

The Spark Inside Every Baby

Julie and I enjoyed a delightful evening with longtime friends for the Fourth of July. The day ended with 360 degrees of fireworks around their home in southwest Missouri.

There is a visceral excitement surrounding Independence Day. You can feel the explosive "pop" of fireworks as they launch from the ground and again when they burst apart mid-air. Every flash of light, every report -- the booms and the screams -- rekindles memories of my childhood in Colorado.

My family would pack up our lawn chairs and head to a nearby golf course to watch fireworks launched from the Boulder County Fairgrounds. More recently, we've joined my parents to watch displays against the backdrop of the Flatirons.

Yet for all of the similarities fireworks share, each is unique. There is fresh excitement for the observer because it's impossible to predict what the next display will look like, exactly.

If you are a parent, you understand that watching your children mature similarly excites a…

Why Couples Without Infertility Adopt Embryos

I'm grateful to one of my readers who recently posted a completely fair question to the blog: Why did you decide to pursue embryo adoption even though you didn't face infertility?

Julie and I made sure to address this issue right up front in the letter we wrote to the couple that eventually became our placing family. (Note: A placing family is adoption lingo for a couple whose embryos have been frozen. Without our placing family, little Phoebe wouldn't be part of our household. John and Kris, we'll never be able to adequately thank you! We're honored to be on this journey with you.)

You see, there were at least five primary reasons we chose embryo adoption:

Friends of friends had successfully adopted embryos and brought them to termJulie's background is as a scientist studying infertility, specifically endometriosisWe had discussed adoption since before we were married 10 years agoAs Christians, we believe life begins at conception, and that every embryo deserv…