Adoption Myth Busters :: Part One :: The Adoption Awareness Blog Project

Recently I’ve enjoyed watching the very positive side of adoption as shown on ‘Modern Family’ (Cameron and Mitchell contemplating adopting another baby) and then there’s ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ depicting the darker side of adoption (Mer and Derrick losing their adopted daughter).

I’d like to suggest it’s also a good time for all of us to start learning more about adoption [...], because the problems will be fixed more rapidly if faulty stereotypes are replaced by genuine understandings. ~Adam Pertman, Huffington Post, Nov. 2011

Why would someone adopt?

  • Some consider adoption because they are unable to get pregnant, some simply have the desire to adopt (like my husband and me), some have family connections that call for adoption, e.g., stepparent adoption, and others may choose to add to their families through adoption for other reasons.
Aren’t you worried that you wouldn’t be able to love your adopted child as much as your genetic child?
  • This was actually my biggest fear. But the wise Mr. Thrasher had the perfect analogy to help me overcome it: He asked me to imagine that dear friends of ours had died in an accident leaving their little son behind (I didn’t say it was a fun exercise!). If we were the ones to take care of him from that moment on, would I be able to love him, care for him and treat him as if he was my biological child? Heck, yes! I already love that boy with all my heart. There was my answer.
  • My own biological father shut me out of his life no matter how hard I tried to connect with him. So forget the genetic ties. They are no guarantee for a loving family. Your commitment and decision to love are the guarantee. Just like in a marriage. Paul and I are not related by blood. But we became One through a covenant and a promise we made to one another.

So where do I start?

  • Read books like The Adoption Decision or Successful Adoption: A Guide For Christian Families, join online adoption networks, talk to people who adopted, join the Adoption Awareness Blog Project here on Thrasher Home, follow adoption blogs (Filled With Praise, Congo, Here We Come! are great blogs) and request info packages from different adoption agencies.
  • Researching an agency is an important step in the process and includes asking questions, talking with references, and gathering other information.
  • The agency you select will depend on the type of adoption you are pursuing (domestic, international, etc.) and other details specific to your family’s adoption plans which may include your age, faith, marital status, costs, etc.

I’m single and 40 years old. Would they let me adopt a child?

  • Adoptive families come in all shapes and sizes. In the last 20 years there has been a steady, sizable increase in the number of single-parent adoptions. The desire to nurture and to share life as a family is a strong universal need that is felt by a large number of people and one that is not exclusive to married people or couples.
  • Despite the greater acceptance of single-parent adoption, the traditional view of parenting, that a child needs a mother and a father for healthy growth and development, still exists. Adoptive parents and agencies, in preparing prospective adoptive parents, stress the importance of having friends and family who can lend support and serve as a backup system. Source: Parents.com
  • Next: 40 years is not old. Secondly, there are no legal restrictions in most states, but many or most birth families select the family for their child, so parents who are younger than 25 or older than 45 may wait longer to be selected.

How much does an adoption cost? Isn’t it ridiculously expensive? 

  • Having to cover intense adoption expenses is a big part of the reason many parents are hesitant to build their families through adoption but it may be more affordable than you think. See Ashley and Mark’s adoption story, for example.
  • Adoptions with the lowest cost are those completed through a public agency (state social services). These generally involve adoption of children in the U.S. foster care system. For more on adopting a waiting child, visit AdoptUSkids.org.

How would I ever be able to afford paying for an adoption?

  • Have faith. If God has put the desire to adopt on your heart, He’ll provide.
“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” ~ Matthew 19:26
  • Other resources to consider:
    • Adoption tax credit:
      • Currently the federal adoption tax credit provides a credit of up to $13,170 per child (2010) for “qualified adoption expenses”. That’s half the cost!
    • Interest-free adoption loans (e.g., the ABBA Fund) and grants
    • Fundraising
    • Monetary gifts from friends and family
    • Employer adoption benefits

I’ve heard that you may have to pay the birth mother’s rent or her cell phone bill? What are other adoption expenses?

  • Some of the biggest costs in an adoption are costs related to the unplanned pregnancy itself. These are costs that an adoptive family would have if they were pregnant themselves and the courts view them as the responsibility of the adoptive family. These items include all medical bills, maternity clothing and possibly other items such as rent and utilities during the unplanned pregnancy.
  • Basic service charges included in U.S. adoption costs are: home study and parent education, post-placement supervision, attorney fees and court costs. Additional charges may be incurred depending on the adoption type pursued. With domestic adoptions fees may include: birth parent expenses (see above), including legal representation and counseling, and birth expenses. In international adoption, additional costs include immigration processing and may also include for foster care, escorting, and medical care and treatment charges. Additionally, there are transportation and accommodation costs involved in travel to the country where the child resides. ~ Source: AdoptionInstitute.org

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Disclaimer: The above adoption myths are based on questions we had when we first looked into adoption and focus mainly on domestic infant adoption. They also address concerns raised by our friends and families. The answers are a combination of research we’ve done ourselves on the interweb, conversations we had with our adoption agency, books we’ve been reading and stories from other adoptive parents like Hilary and Dirk or Ashley and Mark.

Happy San Franniversary!

Six years ago today, I left my home, my family and friends and got on a plane to America. With me I had two bags and a work visa. I didn’t have a place to live, had no idea what a Social Security Number is and didn’t know anyone besides a few co-workers I had met once during a short business trip.

Now, I am married, have a super baby and am applying for my U.S. citizenship.

Thank you, Lord, for calling me to this country. It is so obvious that I belong here and I love celebrating my San Franniversary every year.

Emma’s Dedication :: The Church Ceremony


This past Sunday we dedicated our daughter at our local church. My dear friend, mentor, eye witness of Emma’s birth and Pastor, Val, did an amazing job with her first infant dedication. I was also quite thrilled that my friend Kym and I were able to dedicate both of our daughters together.

The only sad part: My Mama and sister couldn’t be with us. Obviously, it would have been a bit of a stretch to ask them to make the journey from Germany to attend Emma’s dedication. Mama, Meike, ihr habt mir so sehr gefehlt!

But let me give you some background on the dedication ceremony and what it actually means. We are Christians. At our church we dedicate our children instead of baptizing or christening them. The main difference between these religious rituals (um, that sounds kinda weird) is probably the idea that with a dedication, you, as a parent, dedicate your baby to God as an act of honor, worship and thanksgiving. We think a baby shouldn’t be christened/baptized until they are old enough to make their own decision about their faith.

The dedication is further a public declaration of the parents’ promise to raise the child in a godly way with the support of the church family. The Pastor anoints the baby, the parents and godparents (if parents chose godparents).

Baptism is a part of many Christian denominations, including Lutheran, Presbyterian and Methodist. Baptism is a water purification ceremony, so at baptisms you will see a small amount of holy water from the baptismal font, poured by the pastor or minister over the infant’s head. During a baptism the child enters the Christian faith and his or her parents and possible godparents, vow to raise the child in the faith they have chosen. (Source: Articlesbase.com)

The anointing of Paul, Emma and me. (Take a closer look at Emma's stunning gown.)

Since I am a sucker for traditions, I was over-the-moon excited that Emma was able to wear the same gown that my own mother had crocheted while she was pregnant with me. The gown was stunning and it meant a lot to me that Emma was dedicated in the same gown that me, my sister and my sister’s son had been baptized in. I love that story!

Another tradition we ‘stole’ from the baptism ritual (at least how I knew it in Germany as part of the Lutheran church) was that we chose a scripture to pray over Emma’s life. Despite an abundance of encouraging, empowering, healing, promising or prophetic scriptures, this was an easy task. Without any doubt, Paul and I knew that everything we wanted God to fulfill in Emma’s life was encompassed in 2 Timothy 1:7.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and a sound mind (or self-control as translated in other bible versions).

Our fearless firecracker certainly has a spirit of power and love already. We just need to keep praying that she’ll have some self-control as well. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Come back soon for Part Two of Emma’s Dedication – The ‘after party’ at our house. I’ll be sharing lots of pictures of lots of pretty party decor.

 

Our Testimony :: Fears During Pregnancy

“I sought the Lord and He answered me. And He delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:3

Baby Thrasher at 4 months.

During my pregnancy I was told that it is common to test your baby for Down syndrome or other chromosomal abnormality. Screening tests (a combination of blood draws and ultrasounds) apparently help you assess your baby’s chances of having this kind of problem. The tests wouldn’t exactly tell us if baby had Down syndrome but results would tell us a ratio that informs us about baby’s chances of having a problem, based on our test results and how old I was.

What’s a chromosomal abnormality?

Chromosomes are threadlike structures in our cells that carry our genes. Most people have 46 chromosomes in each cell, with one set of 23 coming from the mother’s egg and the other set from the father’s sperm.

Biological errors can happen during the early stages of cell division, causing abnormalities in the chromosomes. For example, some babies develop with 47 chromosomes: Instead of 23 matched pairs, they have 22 pairs plus one set of three, a chromosomal abnormality called trisomy.

Often, a woman who conceives a baby with an abnormal number of chromosomes will miscarry, usually early in pregnancy. But with certain chromosomal abnormalities, the baby may survive and be born with developmental problems and birth defects that can range from mild to severe.

Down syndrome, also known as trisomy 21, occurs when a baby has an extra copy of chromosome 21 in some or all of his cells. Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal abnormality babies can be born with.

Other chromosomal problems that babies can be born with include trisomy 18 and trisomy 13. These abnormalities are almost always associated with profound mental retardation and other congenital malformations. If they survive to birth, these babies rarely live more than a few months.

Anyone can have a baby with a chromosomal abnormality, but the risk rises with the mother’s age. For example, your likelihood of carrying a baby with Down syndrome ranges from about 1 in 1295 at age 20 to about 1 in 82 at age 40.

Source: babycenter.com

The advantage of screening is that it gives you information about your baby’s risk of having certain problems without subjecting you to the slight risk of miscarriage associated with CVS and amniocentesis.

Definitely no amniocentesis for us. Image source: health-pictures.com

BUT, and here’s where my very personal opinion comes in, the disadvantage is that the results can screw with you and get you worrying for the rest of your pregnancy as you keep thinking about the possibility that your baby will be born with a genetic disorder. Or those results get you contemplating further tests like CVS and amniocentesis. And what happens then? What if you actually find out that the percentage of giving birth to a ‘sick’ child are so high that the thought of, well, you know what, pops into your mind?

For Paul and me it was never a question whether we would terminate the pregnancy. God gave us a baby and we believe abortion is murder and therefore a deadly sin. So there was no room to go any further with that thought or discussion. Period.

Back to the tests. Frankly, I didn’t think much about the disadvantages of the screening tests. Looking back, I think I would have preferred not to be tested. And here’s why.

I was identified as being at medium risk for Down syndrom and my ratio was very close to the cutoff. I was horrified.

On a side note: I have to admit that I am a bit of a worrywart. I’m not gonna lie. I tend to blow up issues and keep contemplating the negative side of things. But I’m learning to rely on God and my Faith. God is a good god and He provides and protects. I have many testimonies to prove his goodness.

After Paul and I got the results we met with a genetic counselor to discuss what we could do next. It was clear to us that we didn’t want to do any of the invasive tests that showed a high risk for miscarriage – despite the counselor’s recommendation. So what was left?

We turned to God.

Instead of reading about the disease, I searched for relevant scriptures and Paul and I started praying and meditating on them.
We agreed to not even talk about the “threat” anymore as we didn’t want to speak the possibility of birthing a sick child over our baby. We only shared our fear with our parents and two close friends. We also didn’t ask our team of prayer warriors at C3 San Francisco for support. This was between God and us, our little family.

“…and great will be your children’s peace (shalom).” Isaiah 54:13

The devil comes to kill and destroy. Of course, he wanted to rob us of our joy about expecting a baby. I knew that it was plain evil to make me think my baby wasn’t alright while all the way she was absolutely perfect. And that is what I was teaching myself to think: My baby was God’s masterpiece and therefore healthy and whole.

Our plan of attack worked. A couple of weeks after we received the results, we had successfully pushed all of our doubts and worries away and were back to enjoying our pregnancy (well, putting my aches and pains aside). We trusted God with our baby and for the remaining months of my pregnancy, we actually didn’t think much about the test results.

On December 30, 2010 we welcomed a beautiful baby girl into this world. Emma Louise was perfectly healthy. Praise God for creating another masterpiece.

I Am A Mother

I have a daughter.

I am a mother.

We're home.

These words still sound so surreal to me. Even though our baby girl has now been with us for several days and I’m slowly recovering from the aftermaths of giving birth, I still don’t grasp the magnitude that motherhood means.

Paul and I can barely find words to describe how we feel, how grateful we are for her health, and what we experience with our little Emma. We mostly just want to hold and stare at her. Like right now, as she is sleeping in her bassinet next to my bed. (Yeah, after another sleepless night she decided that the morning would be a better time to go to sleep! Wonder where she has that stubbornness from…)

Emma, Paul and I are enjoying getting to know each other and finding our rhythm. Needless to say, our lives are turned upside down, nights have turned into wake time, day time has become a small window to catch a break, we forget when it’s time to eat, drink or take a shower, and nothing is like it was before. And we’re loving every bit of it!

We are no longer just a couple…

Adjusting to parenthood surely is quite a challenge – but an absolutely amazing one! There is so much for Paul and me to learn (read about my first key learnings about being a new mom here), try and, more importantly, let go off. That letting go part (what do you mean, they don’t sleep on YOUR schedule?) is my biggest challenge. As you know, I am a planner and love being in control. Well, none of that anymore. Dear God, please take over from here. Thank you very much!

It certainly is a blessing to have Paul’s mom Sharon stay with us. She has been incredibly helpful taking care of Paul and me while we’re taking care of Emma. And when my hormones are going crazy again and I can’t stop crying because I wonder if I’m ever gonna get this mother thing down, she is right there to tell me I’m doing just fine. She reminds me to take my meds, cooks dinner, fills the fridge, cleans, takes Emma every now and then so Paul and I can shower and makes sure life is a little less insane.

A huge thanks also to Griffin’s best friend Yuko who is currently looking after our furry baby to give us a bit more time before we introduce Emma to him.

But now, please admire my baby girl and tell me what a beauty she is!

Where did she get those pouty lips from?

Two became Three.

Proud Papa Paul.

Love,
-Wiebke, Paul & Emma

In(tro)ducing Baby Thrasher

…and we’re still waiting!

Considering that Baby Thrasher was doing great and pretty much ready to hatch, we decided to schedule my induction. So instead of sitting at home waiting for labor to start, Paul and I went out for a lovely dinner date the night before we had to check in at the hospital.

I barely slept that night. I was so excited that I was only hours away from meeting my daughter. After all these months full of anticipation, the moment was finally near.

Almost there...

After hours of waiting and staring at the monitors that tracked my contractions (what contractions?) and baby’s heartbeat, I was finally told that we’re (We? As in there are others who would have to push a watermelon out of their vagina???) ready to push.

Contractions, baby.

Paul and I were in good spirits and still all smiles.

My delivery nurse Kathleen was absolutely wonderful! We were joking and cracking up together. One of my fears was to be (secretly) judged by the nurses and doctors for being a wimp and not tolerating any pain. But every single nurse I met during my stay in the Labor & Delivery Unit was just absolutely wonderful, caring, loving and some of them were even quite hilarious.

But back to Kathleen. She was a devoted Christian and almost cried when we told her that we wanted to pray over the delivery and asked if she could join us in prayer. God most certainly answered a prayer when He gave us Kathleen. So I guess besides Paul, me, and Kathleen, we also had the Holy Spirit in the room. I had nothing to fear.

Speaking of fearless, my fearless (seriously) girlfriend Val witnessed the birth of our little baby girl. It was so precious to have her by my side (and I know Paul was thankful for the extra support as well). Thanks to the Epidural I was in a great mood and pretty chipper when she arrived in the morning. It was important to me that the whole birthing experience wouldn’t freak her out since she has that whole adventure still ahead of her. But I guess, she had a good time as well.

But back to me. Moments later…

Emma Louise arrives.

And there she was. Our little Käfer was born. Words can not describe what I felt when my doctor put that tiny human on my belly. My emotions ranged anywhere from joy to anxiety to relief to sadness to the utmost love one could ever feel. No, seriously, they say that this overwhelming loving feeling hits you like a truck when you see/hold your newborn for the first time and you wonder if you’ll really get to feel that way. Well, I did.

In my books, giving birth trumps everything you have and will ever do in life. Even getting married doesn’t come close to the emotions you experience when you finally meet that little baby that was nurtured inside of you for so long!

Shortly after Emma’s birth, we were moved to the post-partem unit of the hospital where we welcomed a bunch of visitors who were anxious to meet our newborn.

What an exciting couple of days! Paul and I went to the hospital as a couple and left the hospital as a family.

God is good! God is so frickin’ good!

Frohe Weihnachten!

As you know I have a passion (obsession?) for all things turquoise. So it probably doesn’t surprise you that our Christmas tree was decorated with lots ‘n’ lots of turquoise ornaments and beachy elements like starfish, dolphins and sand dollars.

This was also the first year, I had a lovely mantle to decorate. I was so thrilled to get brand-spanking-new stockings for Paul, his mom, me and even a tiny, cute one for our baby girl (due on December 25th). And I successfully completed a minor spray painting project.

But without further ado, I’ll be letting my photos speak for themselves.

Oh, Tannebaum, oh, Tannebaum, wie gruen sind deine Blaetter.

Silver and turquoise ornaments. No surprise with the color palette here, hey.

I drilled small holes into starfish and used raffia ribbon to hang it.

I re-purposed the sand dollars from my wedding decor to add more 'beach' to our Christmas tree. The turquoise satin ribbon was attached with a glue gun.

Beautiful silver ornaments we bought in Germany last year.

For the first time, I have a fireplace to decorate. Loved it!

Spray painted candle holders (brown before), spray painted stocking holders (cast iron before). The twigs are 'leftovers' from trimming the tree.

Oh, yeah, did I mention I decorated, spray painted, glue gunned all of this as I was counting down the last week of my pregnancy. What a festive way to keep me busy and my mind occupied. :-) Praises to my wonderful husband for buying, hauling and setting up our beautiful Noble Fir Weihnachtsbaum.

 

Fasting Facebook

For the past ten days, I have been fasting social media. Yes, I have reached a point where refraining from checking in on FourSquare, tweeting my latest blog post, chatting with friends all over the world via Skype and, of course, knowing exactly what my friends are up to on Facebook, has become a major sacrifice. Pathetic, you say? Oh, come on, don’t judge.

Inspired by C3 San Francisco’s recent call to fast for ten days for spiritual growth, I decided to fast Facebook and other addictive social media sites. (Ironically, our pastor was sharing encouraging prayers and scriptures via Twitter and Facebook. Ha!) As you may know, pregnant women must not fast so I had to find a substitute that would equally ‘hurt’.

Well, let’s clarify: The intention of a spiritual fast done right is not to suffer or torture yourself. Spiritual fasting is not an obligation or religious ritual, to me it is like taking a break from the mundane and or from things we indulge in or take for granted too easily – whether that’s food, coffee, TV or candy. Spiritual fasting only makes sense if you fill that void (of whatever you’re fasting) with something meaningful. Like prayer. Or reading the word.

Instead of reading Facebook updates in the morning, I opened up my bible and read updates from God instead. (His wall posts are definitely more relevant and inspiring than anything you can find on Facebook.) Instead of chatting with family, I chatted with God. Instead of checking into venues on FourSquare, I checked into His presence.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” John 14:27

 

Happy San Franniversary!

(This post is dedicated to my Mama who always supports my crazy dreams, believes in me and loves me for who I am.)

Five years ago, I arrived in San Francisco with nothing more than two large suitcases and no place to live. Little did I know that God had an intense plan for me.

My suitcase was packed with dreams, expectations and hope. I can’t say what exactly I was hoping for but I had this dream of a new life in California. Someone said ‘California is not a state. It’s a state of mind.’. This pretty much sums up my idea of the Golden State. I was hopelessly in love with the romantic idea of emigrating and finding whatever I was searching for in America.

I moved across the pond – 5514.31 miles (8874.18 kilometers) away from home – leaving friends and family behind to embark on a new adventure that turned out to be so much bigger than I could ever imagine.

I was definitely searching for something. I just couldn’t define what it was?! For some reason I thought that moving further away from home and all things familiar to me, would allow me start over. Was I secretly running away from myself? My past is (was) paved with regrets. Failed relationships, fall outs with close friends, trouble with the family, and the worst: an empty heart.

I guess a life thousands of miles away from home, would appear to others as brave, romantic and inspiring. Though all it was for me was an escape. There is a beautiful word in German that describes this feeling perfectly – ‘Fernweh‘.

So here I was in San Francisco. Meanwhile, I had found an adorable studio in San Francisco’s Marina neighborhood, I had settled into my new job and started making friends. Nonetheless I struggled with this emptiness I just couldn’t explain. I was truly lost, slightly depressed and looking for purpose in all the wrong places.

That’s when God started calling me. Believe it or not, He sent an angel to come and rescue me. And since God has a sense of humor, He introduced me to my angel at a bar.

Fast forward.

I have now been married to my angel for over three years, found my salvation and God-given purpose, raised a rescue puppy, started my own business, moved into a house and am now expecting a baby.

I am indeed living my dream.

Photos taken at the Emigration Museum in Hamburg, Germany.

Flirting With Disaster :: The Sixth Commandment

This morning at Christian City Church San Francisco – the only place where you can get a true revelation…

Our inspiring Pastor PM, short for Pastor Mark, shared a bold’n'sexy message about the seventh commandment – You shall not commit adultery.

I found his advice on how to affair-proof your marriage quite helpful and thought I’d share it with you. Whether you are a believer or not, these points are relevant either way.

  1. Make your spouse your priority. > Not your kids, not your job. Ephesians 5:33
  2. Meet your partner’s sexual needs. > That way, (s)he won’t have to think twice about someone else. 1 Corinthians 7:5
  3. Avoid relationships that tempt you.  > If you’re married, never flirt. If you need validation talk to your spouse about what you’re missing in your relationship.
  4. Follow the guidelines for spiritual alignment. > Choosing a spouse who doesn’t agree with your faith or beliefs is a recipe for disaster. Think children’s education, tithing, church services in the morning, dedicating time to serving in the house of God, and the many more areas that can trigger conflicts if you’re not in agreement.

That’s all. Gotta go now and make it out with that hunky husband of mine…