Today's surprise office visit was one of our clients who brought gifts for the next several adoptive families in honor of the child whose placement in their home fell through. My eyes welled with tears when she explained they wanted to do something in honor of the child they expected to have in their home this Christmas. This act of generosity is exactly what God calls us to. His unmerited gift of the Christ child was different than expected, and full of grace for people who were planning for their Savior King to show up under very different circumstances.
In this season of giving, I'm reminded of the many biblical examples of giving - gifts from the lavish treasures presented by the Magi to the sacrifice of the woman who gave all she had. Each sacrificial gift has value to Christ. When we think about 0ur motivation in gift giving this Christmas, let our focus be generous giving as God gave to us and think less of what we might receive.
...Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.
You can pin the list below as a helpful *hint, hint* or just a reminder for future birthdays, placement gifts, etc. Here is our article from last year with all the helpful links to each of these gifts. Happy shopping and MERRY CHRISTMAS!
son’s birth mom who was going into labor and considering placing the baby with their family so the siblings would be together. Everything happened quickly and communication was flying back and forth between the Rinns, our agency, and the birth family as mom was making last minute decisions rather than connecting earlier with our agency. As the hours and days went by and the fog of unanswered questions thinned in the light of day, light of day, mom solidified her decision to parent and the Rinns were left with a sense of loss over a child that was never theirs. They were understandably frustrated as emotions had gone from high to low and our agency was in a bind when the birth mom did not connect with us regarding her wishes. What felt like an unnecessary trial turned into a refining fire clarifying their desire to grow their family through adoption yet again. These few days were a catalyst bringing the idea of infant adoption back into focus.
When Josh & Amy stepped through the doors of Christian Adoption Services in late winter, they had hope for the spring and the new life that would come into their family. They were joyful about their future family of four and knew it was time to pursue that dream. The loss during the previous summer shifted the Rinn’s vision of their family composition and their son was eager to become a big brother. The conversation with our staff was highly anticipated as they had only spoken with these workers during their frustrating possible match with their son’s birth mom. With a huge life decision involving the deepest emotions of parents and significant financial investment, trust had to be built for social workers who would lead them in navigating the blurry yet exhilarating path toward their unborn child. Leaving the CAS office, Josh & Amy were taking their first step into home study approval and the waiting period until expectant parents would choose them to raise their child.
The Rinn’s journey started to weave together with the birth parents six months later. Their lives would become intertwined in a beautiful image of love for the son they all cared for deeply even before his life began. It was autumn when CAS received a text from an expectant woman, *Julia, who was 20 weeks pregnant. She and her long-term boyfriend, *Tony, were in their 30s and 40s, lived in separate towns, and already had children from previous relationships. The thought of starting over with a new baby was not something either felt prepared for – emotionally or financially.
After much counseling and tears, Julia & Tony concluded choosing an adoptive family was what their child needed the most. This decision never comes easy to birth parents. Adopted children are wanted and loved by their birth parents, and allowing someone else to be mom and dad is a sacrificial decision!
While looking through profiles books, Julia & Tony felt a sense of peace and connection when picturing the Rinns as parents to this baby. The next months were an emotional flurry as Julia & Tony and Josh & Amy planned to meet each other and carefully consider the future of the precious unborn baby boy. In December, CAS held a “Match” meeting for the families. During this meeting, Josh & Amy saw the vision of becoming a family of four a little clearer.
A short month and a half later, Josh & Amy brought their beautiful baby boy home! Today the Rinns remain in contact with Julia & Tony. They share emails, pictures, and visits. Even though individuals walking through the adoption process experience loss and grief, all parties can celebrate the new life that comes forth by providing a child with a forever family.
*Names changed for confidentiality
As Case Manager, I had the opportunity of being part of a birth father reconnecting with his daughter after 18 years. He shared parts of his story below. Unfortunately, I do not get the chance to work with birth fathers as much as I would like to. Sometimes they are unknown or they are scared to be part of the process.
- Destrie Overmoe, LSW
Q. What was your role as a Birth Father at that time?
My role was not nearly as difficult or mentally taxing as [the birth mom’s]. And I carried a lot of guilt, shame and downright worthlessness about not being a man. I could not speak of it to anyone because I thought I was not being a man.
This isn’t an uncommon feeling for birth parents. The thought of not being ready or able to raise a child is sometimes mistaken for weakness. We encourage birth parents to know that adoption is a responsible and brave choice.
Q. Did you participate in counseling?
One time for me.
One meeting is sometimes all we have with birth fathers. As an agency, we strive to be inclusive of birth fathers.
Q. What did the weeks following the adoption look like for you?
I never grieved. With death there is a degree of closure. With this there never was closure. I just kept moving along because it [helped] me cope. But there were a lot of times throughout the years where something or a word stops you in your tracks…
Q. How have you come to find joy in your decision?
The day I saw [my daughter] walking towards me with a huge smile. I was prepared to bawl like a little child. Instead we hugged and 18 years of the worst feelings I have been carrying about me disappeared. Neither of us shed a tear. Hearing her say she never even had one thought of hate or anything negative towards me, only one word comes to mind. Forgiveness!
...we hugged and 18 years of the worst feelings I have been carrying about me disappeared.
Openness is something that wasn’t as prevalent 18 years ago, as it is today. We see a lot of healing happen when birth families, adoptive families, and the adoptee can maintain a relationship.
Q. Talk about communication and openness you have with the adoptive family.
[My daughter’s] parents are absolutely the kindest, nicest people I have met. Her mom and I have gotten to know each other and trust each other. I just really respect them both!
Q. How did the adoptive family support and help you?
Her mother has given me countless pictures and stories of [my daughter] growing up and has made me feel like I’m a part of her. I cannot thank them enough for how they have welcomes me into their lives.
Q. What advice would you give birth fathers going through this process?
Be honest with yourself. I never spoke to anyone how I was feeling. Do anything and everything you can do so one day that child will know you have always cared.
-CAS Birth Father (placement about 18 years ago)
For more insight into the role of birth father's, see the links below:
-Newsletter Focused on Birth Father
-Birth Father Video
Q: What led to your adoption decision?
I was at a point in my life where I was separated from my then husband, basically a single mother with no job, no work experience, living at home with my parents, and no clue what I was going to do with my life. I wasn't prepared to bring another kid into this world when my life was such a mess. I had briefly looked into getting an abortion, but couldn’t afford one without asking for money. Being a mom already I decided I couldn't go through with killing a baby just because I was pregnant at an inconvenient point in my life. I had talked to my mom about it and she said to contact the Pregnancy Center in [my home town].
Q: Did you feel prepared to walk through that decision?
I didn’t know what to expect as I didn’t know much about the adoption process other than what I watched in the movie Juno (haha!). I just went into it with an open mind. I had already made up my mind about it so whether or not I was prepared I was going through with it.
Q: What did your Case Worker do to prepare you?
[My Case Worker] was awesome. She was so nice and understanding. I could tell she had been doing this a long time because she was so caring, supportive, and knew exactly what to do and say when things got difficult. She gave me so much information about adoption and the process, and was so easy to work with. She was really my rock when we met the adoptive parents for the first time.
and they were all very supportive too. I kind of announced it on Facebook the Easter before I had her (like 4-6 weeks before my due date), and had an amazing outpouring of love and support with my decision. There were a few people who weren’t very nice about it though.
Q: How did you choose a family?
I got profile booklets to look through. I looked for a Catholic family, since I was Catholic, so I got only catholic family profiles. Their profile caught my eye because so many of their pictures were family orientated, they were candid [and] really showed their love for life. And they traveled, everywhere. I've always wanted to travel and see the ocean and I wanted this baby to be able to see everything I've ever wanted to see. Meeting them really cemented my decision. They were open and honest, and loved me.
Q: Describe your relationship with your child & her adoptive parents?
Almost fairy-tale like. I never expected to gain a whole new side to my family like I did with them. Their families were so open and accepting of me and my family. We talk on a regular basis and they send me pictures all the time. I get to talk to my daughter on the phone. It’s just amazing. I couldn't ask for a better relationship.
Q: What did the adoptive family do to support you & make you feel loved?
They came to all my appointments after we first met, met my family and endured an interrogation from my little brothers. They were able to stay in a room next to mine in the hospital and gave me all the time I wanted with her, then called a day or so after I was discharged from the hospital to see how I was doing, if I needed anything, and to thank me for giving them such a blessing. They've been so supportive though all my schooling, and just keep my family and I involved in what's going on in their lives.
Q: What is one thing adoption has taught you?
How misunderstood adoption is. So many people assume that the reason for adoption is a negative one...that the baby isn’t wanted or loved, that the mother is addicted to drugs, or a teenager, or that the decision was forced. It may be the case in some cases, but no one realizes the thought process behind the decision, the emotions that the birth mother goes through, or the amount of ridicule they go through from some of society for giving their baby away because other people "could never just give their baby away to strangers". They don't realize how intensely LOVED that little baby is to have that mother make the incredibly self-less decision to give that child a chance at a better life. A life they couldn’t give that child themselves. They have no clue about the struggle that mom had to go through to make that decision. For me, it was an easy decision, but I know that's not the case for other birth moms. I feel like I got very lucky with my adoption experience, and I wish there was more support for the birth mothers who struggled, and still struggle with their decision.
-CAS Birth Mother (placement about 8 years ago)
TONIGHT! 11/20 Birth Mom small group, 5:30-6:30pm at FM Area Foundation. Next year's dates:
James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
Not many of our expectant clients are widows. Some of the children are fatherless (meaning birth father is unknown or not in a relationship with the mother). We feel a sense of responsibility to listen to, care for, and encourage the women who reach out to us, who walk through our door, or call us from a delivery room feeling at the end of their rope. Some of them look at family profiles, some of them do not. Some of them are matched. Not all of them end up making an adoption plan. Prospective adoptive families are sometimes brought into the conversation, but sometimes we see the risk is too high or the mother is too vulnerable and we wait longer to tell the family, or don't tell them at all, fortunately safeguarding some families from a lot of heartbreak...but not all.
This year we've worked with at least six women who chose parenting. That is 40% of Destrie's clients this year. We've met others who miscarried or we do not know where they are. They receive free services and non-judgmental support from our case manager. We want clients to step into our office feeling welcomed and cared for. We want them to see Jesus through our staff. They are worth our time. Adoption fees are not enough to cover the many women who are not matched, who needed help finding resources, maybe just needed encouragement to choose life instead of abortion. At the forefront of our mission, we desire to display God's love. This doesn't mean just finding babies for families or ignoring the deep needs a client may have.
We were thrilled this fall to welcome our first adoptee speaker at our home study orientation for prospective adoptive couples. She spoke with such maturity and encouraged the couples as she shared her story, and of her recent connection to her birth father after nineteen years of no contact with him. We look forward to seeing her story continue to unfold as well as providing more opportunities for our clients to hear from adoptees. We found the following article written by an adoptee and thought it was worth sharing here:
"The first birthday I celebrated after I graduated college and had moved away from home for my job was just a couple of years ago. It hit me as I was driving home from celebrating that if it weren’t for my birth mom, I wouldn’t get to have birthdays or celebrate anyone’s birthday. She gave me the opportunity to have birthdays.
It almost seems like it’s commonplace in our culture these days to have abortions. I hear about it often through conversations at work or by just reading something on the internet. It absolutely breaks my heart. And lately, my heart has turned toward my birth mom. How in the world could she have done something so incredibly selfless? Only through God’s grace."
Where are you from originally?
I am originally from a small town in Minnesota called Nevis.
Where are you going to school and what are you studying?
I am currently going to MSUM and am studying Social Work.
What do you love about interning at CAS?
I love the friendly environment and the desire there is to help people. It is amazing to be a small part in the life changing journey families are embarking on.
What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
When I am not working I enjoy spending time with family and friends. I also enjoy playing the piano and camping!
Can you share a favorite quote or something that inspires you?
“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive- to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” -Marcus Aurelius
Brave Love is an organization we have been blessed by through their video content and beautiful stories shedding light on a birth parents' loving decision. We use their videos when we speak about current adoption practices and positive language. Some of our adoptive families have purchased gifts from their shop and we are grateful for this pro-adoption movement. We spoke with Laura, their executive director, about being an agency partner. If you look at their map, North Dakota is not represented and we would love to be that beacon of hope for pregnant women who stumble across Brave Love looking for another option for their child. This partnership includes an annual fee of $600 and we would love to make that commitment, but we need your help. Would you consider coming alongside us in this partnership with Brave Love? Co-sponsors investing up to half the cost would really help make this commitment possible for our ministry. Donate now or contact us at 701-237-4473 if you have questions.
Our Journey to Parenthood blog segment reprinted with author's permission. The views expressed are her own and do not necessarily represent the views of Christian Adoption Services.
To my 12 remaining embryos,
The day we learned there were 14 of you we instantly knew our story of hope wasn’t just for us. You have been frozen now for almost 3 years. Sometimes my infertility feels like a distant memory and other times the pain and anguish of an empty womb floods my heart like it was just yesterday. My body went through a lot just in hopes that God would give me one of you. So when the Doctor called to tell us there were 14 of you, we were in shock.
I have been thinking about you a lot lately.
I don’t really know if we will be going back for another round of IVF. Your siblings are triplets and it is kind of a lot right now. And if we decided to have another baby and had the opportunity to bring one of you into this world, it wouldn’t be for a few more years and we know we could only take one of you. I wish we could take all of you, but I know deep in my heart that God didn’t make you so I could keep all of you just for myself....
However, the truth is, as much as I call you mine, or even one day hers, you are God’s perfectly made little snowflakes. And I have to trust in what God told me in the very beginning: “You are hope, hope for many.” Deep in my heart I know that your Mama will love you like I love you. And even though it is hard for me to fully comprehend that right now, I know, one day, He will prepare my heart for her to be your Mom, but I will always be connected to you. I will be apart of you. I will always be loving you.
Your first Mom.
CAS conducts home studies for families in MN & ND pursuing embryo adoption. If you are interested in learning more about this process, please check out these other resources:
CAS birth mom, Hope, made an adoption plan for her daughter in the early 2000's and continues to correspond with her and visits the adoptive family annually. Semi-open adoptions like Hope's are not as rare as they once were, and birth parents have influence over the type of relationship they want to have in their adoption plan. We are inspired by her and birth moms who lean on God and see his His hand in their story. Their honesty and vulnerability in sharing their adoption plan continues to change the stigma that birth moms do not "want" the child they place for adoption.
If you missed Part One of Hope's video, check out this link!
We need YOU to help build forever families & change the conversation by supporting adoption education in the community. One-time or recurring gifts of $75 bring our adoption presentation to a local school or community group or purchasing the Hope bracelet is a great way to share about the life-affirming choice of adoption and all proceeds go to the ministry of building forever families.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.