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Showing posts from June, 2018

How To Know When You Are Ready To Adopt

Julie and I had talked about adoption for years. But I have a confession to make: I wasn't ready for it. When I broached the subject of adding Baby No. 4 to our family more than two years ago, Julie gladly had the conversation.

She made it clear, though: The only way we do this is if we pursue embryo adoption.

My heart must have been a pretty ugly place back then because I initially resisted the idea. I didn't push back with words. I simply walked to our room and had a good think. It was one of those moments when all of the noise around you disappears and you struggle to figure out why you feel as though you've been knocked off course.

To be candid, the decision came with finality. Julie and I never faced infertility, unlike many couples in much more challenging circumstances. But choosing embryo adoption meant our child wouldn't be biologically related. In reality, that means nothing. But believing that in the abstract and actually acting on it are two different thin…

The No. 1 Best Thing About Airplanes

No matter where I travel for work -- and this year, it's been all over the place -- I always have the reassurance of going back home to be with my family. My sons are fascinated by planes, and our oldest, Micah, brags he is the only Birt child to have ever taken a flight.

One day, Julie and I will take all of them on a journey. For now, though, we'd rather be back home together.

Always look forward to the return flight home.

The Hardest Thing About Parenting Is...

...Realizing you could have been kinder with your child.

Or more empathetic.

Or more affectionate.

Or a better example, role model or spiritual anchor.

Or less glued to technology that sucks away attention.

Or far less selfish.

The list could go on and on.

The point is this: What are you doing now because of what you learned then? How are you bundling the raw, emotional energy -- of screwing up and veering off your vision for your family -- and converting it to action steps that get you back on track?

A few suggestions:

If you aren't leaning on your spouse, or a close circle of friends, or another trusted adviser, start leaning. Parenting is a lonely art without the wisdom of people who care about you and your family.Forget what everyone tells you. There are no parenting experts, only parenting experimenters operating on and recycling fundamental ideas that have been around for generations. Science and data are useful guideposts, but they can't replace the emotional investment…

What Is Embryo Adoption?

For many people, the concept of embryo adoption is completely foreign. As an adoptive parent, it's helpful to know a thing or two about the process in case you need to field questions.

In short, embryo adoption is the process by which a family with embryos created during in vitro fertilization (IVF) places any embryos they did not use during IVF cycles with an adoptive family. Placing families frequently keep any remaining embryos frozen. From a Christian worldview, those embryos are human and deserve the best chance at life.

Nightlight Christian Adoptions became the first agency to formalize the adoption process for embryos, and others have followed. The thinking -- rightly so, in my view -- is that as embryo babies grow older, they will naturally ask questions about where they came from and want a deeper understanding of their heritage. The formal adoption process, including a legally binding contract between the families, ensures embryo adoption is just as valid as any other fo…

Bird Feeders

There's nothing particularly special about a bird feeder. Some are elaborate. But most are utilitarian.

Remove the lid. Add sugar water or seeds birds like to eat. Replace the lid. Wait.

The enormous joy of a bird feeder comes on the other side of the setup and the waiting.

First, one bird alights on the perch and takes a peck of the food. Good. It takes another bite. Then another. And another.

Soon, all the birds in the neighborhood are flocking to the feeder. They aren't all birds of a feather, either. Reds, blues, yellows, oranges. Different species and sizes, all vying to take bites big and small of the food held inside the wondrous invention of the feeder.

Every choice you make for your family is the same way. Will you risk everything for the possibility of great gain? Will you create an adoptive family profile and share it with your agency in the hope a placing family will find you? Or will you keep the bird feeder in a box in your house to gather dust?

Risk creates the…

Adoption: A Disturbing Neocolonialist Pursuit?

If you have spent any time on Twitter this week searching for comments with the #adoption hashtag, you have probably seen a steady stream of troubling comments about adoption. The underlying body of evidence documenting cases of bad actors in the system displacing non-orphan children from their parents and bringing them to the U.S. is deeply disturbing, as author Kathryn Joyce documented in a 2016 article for The New Republic.

But as is too often the case with social media, comments take on a life of their own and weave a narrative that is black and white when the reality is far more gray than anything.

The allegations go something like this: Christians are eagerly watching as children are separated from parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. Christians will adopt (dare we say snatch) those children thoughtlessly as part of a selfish campaign to build their families and save the souls of the innocent. The children will grow up scarred and disconnected from reality because they will never…

Recommended Resource: Kara King's GRACE; Blog

You should get to know my cousin Kara King. This past year, she launched a tremendous blog called GRACE; in conjunction with her return trip to South Korea, where she was born, and for anyone considering adoption, it's required reading.

Kara's story is particularly meaningful to me because 1) she's awesome, 2) she's family and 3) she brings fresh perspective to couples considering adoption and wondering, "Yes, but how will my baby feel about being adopted when she grows up?" More than that, she was the first baby to be adopted in our family. I can remember rocking on my Mamaw's porch in middle Tennessee and taking turns with my siblings stroking her hair as she slept.

Even then, Kara was a trailblazer.

To quote just one of Kara's observations, this one based on the close relationships she built with fellow adoptees:

"I can’t express into words how safe and comfortable it felt to be around so many people who just “got it.” They understood what it w…

Simpler Is Better

Holding your baby while she naps, palm against her forehead as if in exasperation.

Feeding her a bottle 30 minutes before your business phone call that seems to pale in comparison to the task at hand.

Absorbing the innocence of little eyes peeping out after waking up from a deep sleep.

You don't have to be an expert to be a parent. You just have to love and to care and to love again.

Broken Families

For days, the news cycle has been filled with stories of parents and children who have been separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. I believe our nation's policies, which lead to action, must be weighed with a clear sense of right and wrong. The conversation our country is having today is critical. It shows we still have a pulse when it comes to issues that involve innocent children.

Scripture offers a powerful defense of family togetherness. That is not a political statement. It is in society's best interests. The apostle Paul, for example, spoke of the fact that all families have a common allegiance because their charter is issued by a common Author: "I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named." (Eph. 3:14)

All of my sons have experienced separation anxiety at one point or another. I can vividly many routine bedtimes turning into hours-long marathons because of the fear that gripped them. I can still see their little eyes…

Forget The Schedule

One of the biggest challenges you will face on your journey to embryo adoption is the constant temptation to look at the clock. It's pure muscle memory. We do it in every aspect of our lives.

At our house, everything involving the boys involves a timer. For example, Titus asks, "When's dessert?" I pull out my phone, set the timer to five minutes and tell him to go run off some energy until it's time. It isn't a perfect system, but he prefers having something concrete. It's an objective source of feedback that doesn't involve his daddy's whims and lack of judgment.

That's the blessing -- and the curse -- of the clock as adults. On the one hand, it's a reassuring reminder that you are moving forward. You are making progress. You are one step closer to meeting your embryo baby. Every application completed, every email sent, is a few ticks of the second hand nearer the finish line.

But the clock is also a terrible judge of many other things. I…

The Gamble

You never know what your baby will be like. But isn't that one of the most exciting things about it?

For example, Phoebe sat through her first in-theater 2-hour movie tonight. She was fantastic.

Our baby has the best disposition ever. What will your embryo baby be like? Envision him (or her) and take the opportunity to smile.

Everything you're doing right now to prepare is worth it. Guaranteed.

Sleep While You Can

Any new parent, adoptive or otherwise, will surely hear the advice: Sleep while you can.

Your response will probably be, "Yes, but ...

... what about those bills that need to be paid?"

... what about that extra job I'm hustling on to put my children through college one day?"

... what about the dishes stacking up in the sink?"

... what about wanting to spend 5 minutes alone with my spouse?"

... what about having so many thoughts racing through my mind that I can't fall asleep?"

Don't let people tell you what to do, even close friends or family. Smile and nod.

If they really feel that way, they won't mind if you nod off halfway through their next sentence.

Frozen Babies Are People, Too

Life matters.

Surely we can all agree on that much.

Yet the statement becomes fraught with peril in the context of our culture. On the one hand, we affirm everyone in earnest. On the other hand, we challenge the personhood of cells that eventually become ... well, people.

There's no value in stirring controversy for the sake of argument. But there is tremendous worth in affirming the value of life, no matter if you are:

frozen in time awaiting a loving family -- and held there by an equally loving family that believes you matterjust home from the delivery room3 years old and testing every limit45 and preparing your young adults to leave the nest101 and reflecting on life's joys that began from childhood As you pursue embryo adoption and explain the process to people in your circle of influence, you will undoubtedly find support. But you will also find blank stares and ample questions.
Why an embryo? Why not a child that has already been born?
If we return to our premise, we wi…

The Rush And The Rabbit Hole

The tendency to want to hurry up and move along is natural. But left unchecked it can become an anchor that weighs down an otherwise purposeful journey toward something better.

As in:

Adopting a childSaving for a vacation (or, to stretch the time horizon even further, retirement)Seeking a promotion
All of these are worthy objectives. Yet if the brain is allowed to wander, it will begin to go down the rabbit hole and replace joy with anxiety.

In those cases, it asks, "Is it ever going to happen? Will the day finally arrive? Why are the hours dragging by? What good is all of the stuff between now and then?"

Actually, the stuff between now and then is worth a lot. You can choose to savor each moment, painful though some might be. You can learn, ask smart questions and cast a vision that will make others in your circle of influence excited to go along for the ride.

Or you can stew and fret and drive yourself crazy while the second hand on the clock ticks agonizingly by.

If a baby…

Cascading Giggles: Parenting With Momentum

The infectious cute stage of Phoebe's young journey began today. She lay on her back on my lap. I closed my eyes, pretended to snore loudly, then opened my eyes with a surprised expression.

What began as a "Heh" ("OK, Dad, I'm thinking about laughing.") quickly built on itself and turned into "Hehehehe" ("Dad, you're hysterical.") Like water cascading down rocks, Phoebe's laughter spilled over itself, the edges of her eyes crinkled up in a face-breaking chortle. It got the rest of us laughing in the process.

Parenting is a lot like that, whether you have a blended family like mine or not. It happens in fits and starts. On some days, you feel like you'll never get anywhere with your testy 5-year-old who wants the blankets on his bed to be flattened within 1 mm of perfection. You might not even get a smirk.

On other days, you feel as though you've made some good decisions and broken through to your children. You might share…

Thinking Ahead

As a recently appointed member of my local Board of Education, I'm constantly reminded that the decisions we make ripple through time. That forces us to take a step back and reflect on an important question: Is this something we can live with? And more importantly, can our children and our community live with it?

If you are considering adoption, you are probably wondering what the days and weeks ahead will look like. I'm afraid I don't have any clear answers.

But if you have a deep faith, a strong prayer life and loyal friends and family, I can assure you that you will be on solid footing.

All you need to start is to take that first step. Will it matter in the future? Absolutely. And you won't regret the journey.

Community Bowling

We celebrated Micah's 7th (!) birthday tonight at Mexico Lanes. We had two lanes operating at once, one for older kids and one for younger. Phoebe, meanwhile, found her way from adult to adult, sleeping one moment, crying the next, then sleeping again. Community is important for all parents. Adoption takes those needs to the next level. First, you need accepting people. Then, you need comforting people, caregivers, diaper-changers and on it goes. You won't always get people with every different skill set in the same room. But when it happens, enjoy it. I did. Your baby's life will be richer for it.

Crying At 5

Short post today. Holding Phoebe trying to type. It isn't working out. You can only be so happy on Friday after a busy week.
The tears say it all.
I just finished Jon Acuff's "Finish". Highly recommended. Cut your goals in half. In my case, that means downsizing blog post length.
Talk soon,

The Challenge

Sometimes, circumstances push us to act. Such is the case with my family's embryo adoption journey. Over the past two years, I've come to realize there's a tremendous thirst in our country, and among young couples in particular, to build families. I'm not just talking about the biological or technological processes that enable us to have children. I'm talking about building deep, lasting, meaningful relationships. And if we are building families, then we are necessarily trying to lay the foundation for the next generation. I didn't ever think I'd be here. When my wife, Julie, suggested that we pursue embryo adoption, I didn't think it was what I wanted to do. But with the arrival of my daughter, Phoebe, in March this year, all of that changed. She has our three sons in the palms of her little hands -- and I'm right there with them. If you are already my friend or my family, thank you for reading. If you don't know me from the man in the mo…