From the CAS archives, this was originally published for Adoption Awareness Month, November 2016.
An open letter to my brother I’ve never met,
Hi, I’m your biological sister. I am 21 years old. We have the same birth father. I have known about you for over half my life. I have often thought about you and how you have grown up. Were you involved in sports? Do you like to travel? What are some of your hobbies? What are your parents like? Do you have other siblings?
Over the years, I have tried to understand why our father created an adoption plan for you. I know that he was 15-16 years old when he found out you were on the way. He, along with his girlfriend were very excited to become parents but they were on a tough road. Both your mom and your dad were still in high school. They decided adoption because they wanted to help others who could not have babies on their own. It’s been over 20 years since the adoption and a lot has happened since then. We have a sister. She is 23. She also has been curious about you and what you have been up to. I am currently a senior in college going into the field of social work. I am getting married next summer. Our sister is going to start Grad School next fall in the field of criminal justice. Did you go to college? Are you married? Do you have kids?
We have missed out on so much of each other’s lives and my goal in life is to know who you are. I understand the difficulty in making this step and if you are even interested in meeting your biological family. I understand if you have no interest in knowing where you came from. I am prepared to handle that when and if that time comes. I just want you to know that you are loved!
I have started the outreach process in hopes to someday meet you. I have so many questions and so much to tell you!
-Your biological sister
Our agency has facilitated searches for birth parents, children, and siblings. For more information about re-connecting, visit the Adoption Search page.
When Ryan and I first started in the adoption process, we heard it could be a difficult journey. I thought, "What could be so hard? I know there's a lot of paperwork, but adoption ends in a baby! What better motivation is there to keep going?" It was only after we had begun receiving "Not yet" responses again and again that I wondered, "What if we never end up with a baby after all?" I even started asking God, "I know you called us to this, but why aren't you using us? Is this still your call for us?"
Just when I wasn’t sure if I could continue to say yes and receive a no, we got a call from Susan. We had matched! We were ecstatic! Over the next two months, we announced, we prepared, we traveled. We wanted to be at the hospital when baby was born even if we never got to meet baby’s birth mother since it was a closed adoption, so we went to Arizona and we waited. Several days went by, and on baby’s due date, we got a devastating call. Baby had been born, and his mother decided to parent. We were in shock. We cried, we packed, and we traveled home with an empty car seat. The day after we got home, I prayed. I asked God, “What do we do now?” I wrote down two things I felt God telling me: 1) Don’t get rid of those clothes, and 2) Don’t worry so much about the money.
Throughout the week following our disruption, Ryan and I prayed about how to move forward. We considered accepting another match opportunity with the same agency, but after visiting with Susan, I simply told them the same words that Susan emailed to us: "What we are really praying for is a really quick match or a stork drop.” After such a recent disruption, we were still grieving, and we honestly did not have high hopes. Unbeknownst to us, at the same time I was sending that email, an expectant mother came for an intake at the same agency. Because she was at the very end of her pregnancy, she asked to see family profile books right away which was different than the agency's usual protocol. I will never forget the call I got that same morning. “Kacie, there is a situation I want to tell you about. I don’t have a lot of information, but we still have one of your profile books, and I need to know within the hour if you want it shown.” We said yes. So did she. We got the call we had matched again. We were hopeful, but so nervous because of having our recent heartache.
This time, the adoption was to be open. We were fortunate enough to FaceTime the expectant mother shortly after matching, and 12 days from when we got the call, we were on a flight to meet her prior to her induction. When we met her, one of the things she said was, “I asked my mom to research adoption agencies my whole pregnancy. She never did until two weeks ago. I am so glad she waited, or I might never have gotten to choose you.” The match with this amazing woman led us to our son, and we are fortunate enough to now be parents to a beautiful baby boy! We praise God for giving her the strength to grow our family with part of hers, and for letting us be there when he took his first breath. God truly writes THE BEST AND MOST AMAZING of stories.
As I reflect on our adoption journey, I know that God gave us the pain of a disrupted adoption to build our faith in Him. That shock and heartache reminded us to better cherish the blessings we already had, and most of all, to remind us how it feels to TRULY let go of our plan and submit to His. My hopes for a baby had turned in to expectations, and my expectations needed to be shattered to see His perfect plan.
The practical advice I have for anyone struggling with the matching process or with a failed match are these:
1. Take special care to nourish and enjoy relationships with your current family members, whether it is your spouse, child, or pet. When God does give you your baby, you'll be grateful for the memories you made during the wait.
2. Try not to worry so much about the money. I know it's hard, because adoption is expensive, but if you are $800 more in debt, for example, when your adoption is done because you had weekly date nights, went to that concert together, or took a weekend getaway during the most difficult part of the journey, wasn't it a good investment?
3. Continue to make commitments unrelated to adoption. During part of our wait, I mistakenly said to myself, "I can't commit to that. We might have a baby." It is hard not to get depressed if you clear your calendar and have nothing else to do than think about adoption 24/7. This goes back to giving it up to God. God doesn't make mistakes. Sometimes His plan takes longer than we want or looks different than we thought it would, but in the end we understand why.
Previously published on Christian Adoption Consultants. Used with family's permission.
Some couples are working with not just a local agency for their home assessment, but a national adoption consultant. We see pros and cons to this option, and this article shares some of the things we see in those cases. Each couple's journey is different, but if you are considering adopting out of state, you will still need a local agency to conduct the home study and post-placement services for you.
Where are you from originally?
I am originally from Fargo.
Where are you going to school and what are you studying?
I was going to MSUM and was in the Social Work program and just graduated Friday, 5/11/18.
What do you love about interning at CAS?
I love the friendly staff and the “homey” feeling, and I love that I am able to help build forever families!
What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
When I am not working I like to visit my family and spend time with them.
Can you share a favorite quote or something that inspires you?
“Be grateful for ALL experiences in your life, for they shaped who you are today." -Unknown
We are thrilled that Jennifer will join Tina in serving adoptive families and assist Michelle wherever possible with birth parent services. Pray that this is an impactful launching pad for her career pursuits.
Two years ago, the *Olsons were preparing to grow their family through infant adoption at Christian Adoption Services. They kept a video journal of appointments, excitedly walked through each step of the process, and had a great community support from friends and employers as they raised funds to cover the costs of their adoption. Little did they know that the following spring, they would learn of 4 kids in foster care that needed a permanent home, and God would redirect them.
The bumps in the road made this month's finalization hearing an even sweeter celebration. A year of meetings with social workers, biological extended family, the previous foster family, and therapists displayed the Olson's investment of love & care. After about a year of the joys and trials inherent in parenting 4 children, the Olson's adoption was finalized with 27 people in attendance.
We have been honored to be part of their journey. During May, we are celebrating Foster Care awareness month. We are grateful to serve families whose path takes them towards foster-adoption.
*Name changed for confidentiality.
Where are you from originally?
I was born and raised in West Fargo, so I am a North Dakota girl to the heart! I love to travel but do plan on staying within the Red River Valley for the next couple of years, but someday I hope to live on the west coast.
Where are you going to school and what are you studying?
I am a senior at Minnesota State University Moorhead. I am studying for my bachelor’s degree in Social Work. I will be graduating and taking my licensure boards this May!
What do you love about interning at CAS?
I love interning at CAS because I truly appreciate and stand by the mission. CAS cares deeply about uniting babies and families in a forever bond, as well as taking care of everyone’s needs. It is an honor to be a part of that.
What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
When I am not working I love to spend time with family, go shopping, travel, and try new restaurants!
Can you share a favorite quote or something that inspires you?
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead
We are pleased to announce that Michelle has accepted a temporary position on staff here with CAS this summer while Destrie is out on maternity leave. This spring has included cross-training for staff and an opportunity for Michelle to work with Destrie in preparation of the summer. We look forward to the arrival of Destrie's second child and are grateful to have her returning in the fall. Our social workers will continue working together closely to serve our clients, and we welcome any questions about this transition.
We are sitting this holiday weekend in the blessing of the free gift God gave us all, forgiveness of sins and adoption into His family. Our spring newsletter went out this week, and it gave just a peak into the important season in one birth father's life. Here's a snippet of his story:
Soon, the Case Manager lost contact with Matthew. She learned that he had been arrested and was in jail. Matthew could have used this as an excuse to become uninvolved, but instead he turned it into a motivator. Matthew used his time in jail to focus on what was best for his child and what God wanted for him.
Even though it wasn’t easy for Matthew, he continued to be involved in the process.
Meeting with the Case Manager while in jail, he concluded adoption was best for his child. Matthew was able to select a family alongside the birth mother, and the adoptive family
even honored his request to visit him while incarcerated.
Because Matthew was given a voice, he became an advocate for his daughter and formed a relationship with the adoptive family...
(Read the full newsletter)
Please join us in prayer for Matthew and other birth parents who are struggling to make good choices and be obedient to Christ. We all are in need of God's redeeming love, and your prayer for birth parents and families as they navigate their relationships is so appreciated.
*Name changed for confidentiality
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:
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.