The O'Malleys Adopt

Follow us through the ups and downs of domestic newborn adoption


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Box Camp Bod Workout Fundraiser- Feb 15th!

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We are SOOOO excited about this! One of the sweetest human being on the planet, Jeri Toolan at Box Camp Bod has come up with a great fundraiser idea! Sat Feb 15th there will be three classes offered at $5 each and all proceeds will go toward our adoption fund!

Come work out with us!

If you’ve never come to Box Camp, you will have the chance to come and see why it’s so loved by those who attend. Jeri is truly the best fitness coach we have ever experienced. Her workouts are for ALL levels.


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Why I’ve Changed My Mind On Adoption Fundraiding, and Why You Should Too

When we started our adoption in April of 2013, it was very important to us that we had all the funds saved ourselves. We are hardworking middle class people surrounded by other hardworking middle class people. I didn’t want to ask anyone to finance what I felt was a very personal calling from God. Knowing what I know now I would have jumped in much sooner, and expected more from God than I did in the beginning.

We decided to pursue domestic adoption for two reasons. First, we wanted to share our lives with children and second it matched up with our desire to meet needs locally. We are very strongly pro-life and see domestic newborn adoption as the front lines in the pro-life battle in the country. If the church is going to continue it’s pro-life stance, there has to be families opening their arms to those babies they are choosing life for. Because choosing life over abortion isn’t the end of the story for many of the birthmoms who are not equipped to handle parenthood for variety of reasons. A birthmom is not only a teenager who got pregnant unexpectedly, a birthmom can also be the mother of three facing a life threatening illness whose treatment has left her and her husband unable to care for another child. The newborns aren’t always the healthy, perfect baby that you imagine in your mind’s eye. Sometimes they are children left waiting at the hospital because they were born with a heart condition that the parents weren’t prepared for, or they have been exposed to over 10 different kinds of illegal drugs in utero and will be born addicted and require a long NICU stay, or they were simply dropped off at a safe haven location and left there.

These are all examples we have seen personally in the last 10 months.

And all of them, even the abandoned baby in the hospital awaiting both parents to love her and open heart surgery, have high costs. Why? It’s a question I get asked all the time, why are abandoned children so expensive? And the answer is most profoundly because it’s a person. Changing the course of a human life, bringing them into another family, changing their name, giving them a new social security number and an inheritance…..in our country it’s expensive because we have laws that protect the rights of everyone involved. However, it’s also expensive because it’s private. With domestic newborn the government is not involved and subsidizing like they are with foster care.

Which brings me to another question I hear often. “Why doesn’t everyone adopt from foster care where it’s free?” I have friends who foster and adopt from foster care, and its a wonderful option and there is much need there. But it’s not “free,” not even close. Foster care is a government subsidized system of care for children whose parents wanted to try parenting but were failing for some reason, with the intent of reunifying children with their parents. The state funds that go into each child in care are astronomical, it’s just not passed on to the adoptive parents. Many times foster parents open their homes to children for a year or more who they will not be adopting, and you’ve got to hand it to them, what these foster parents do is just amazing. Other times it will become obvious that the parent is not going to show enough improvement for reunification and the process to terminate parental rights begins and hopefully adoptive parents will be found, a process which could take years. This takes an emotional toll on the children as well as a financial toll on the state. While it is a blessing foster care is available, it is truly a wost case scenario regarding breakdown of the family.

Usually birthmothers who are pregnant and choosing life want the best for their babies. That’s why they are willing to go through pregnancy and delivery, and make an adoption plan, because they feel they are doing something good for their children by selecting loving homes for them. I wonder how much ground the pro-life movement would loose if the only option to offer these birthmothers was that their children would stay in the foster system for months if not years instead of going into a permanent home immediately? If foster care was the only option, a huge gap would be there that the foster system- overstressed as it already is- wouldn’t be equipped to handle.

All through the first months of our adoption I would question if spending so much money on an adoption was wise. I’m pretty frugal inherently. We had saved $25,000 in funds over the previous few years and were planning to call that our limit. After all, our cars are both well over 100,000 miles, or pool liner is ripped, our deck is rotting through in places, and our laminate floor is peeling up from one to many leaky old appliances. We have no retirement,  and a student loan we are paying off. We are maddeningly middle income Americans and don’t really have the money for such God-sized dreams.

Once we got involved in our adoption and looked around and found something really surprising: most people pursing domestic adoptions are also average median income Americans. They are not the people you would think would be adopting, with lots of excess everything and money laying around. But they are on the path anyway, because that’s where God has directed them to go. I don’t want to make adoptive parents out to be super heroes. They are just following God’s directive the way you might be if you’re homeschooling your children, or are serving in your church’s children’s ministry on Sunday morning. But they are doing something that Christians should do whether it’s free or expensive: opening their hearts and homes to orphans in a practical way that benefits our society tremendously. It just happens to be really expensive in our culture, but thank God that’s not stopping everyone because there is a desperate need for people to take this path. And if the Church is going to be pro-life, the church must make a habit of supporting these families financially even if adoption is expensive.

Now for my own adoption, I’d rather not be doing fundraisers. I wish God would just send checks for things He’d like done directly from Heaven so my pride wouldn’t have to get involved. But in my inbox sits two situations about babies due in the next few months that they are having trouble finding a families for. One will be born addicted and the other has tested for higher than average possibility of down’s syndrome. And right now we can’t say yes to either because of lack of funds. But someone will be saying yes and will be bringing these babies home and lives will be changed. The unwanted will become wanted. Maybe even someone in the same church as you. So definitely pray in support of adoption, but also give. Even if it’s only $5 and even if it’s to someone else’s adoption fund. Little amounts add up quickly and a $5 donation can bring an adoptive family to tears with gratitude.  And if you can, if it’s been pulling on your heart, adopt. Because there is more need than you know.


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To Lose What is Not Yours

There is no easy way to write about this, but know most people would love a bit more info than “our placement failed.” It’s been a little over a month since it happened and the sadness still pops up as we live our day to day lives. I expect that every Dec 26th I will remember that as the day I met a beautiful baby girl and was told by the birthmother that I was her momma.  We watched with tears of joy as she, so pink and tiny,  got her first bath. Together Paddy and I fed this precious baby her fist bottle. That first day the birthmother seemed so sure in her decision, so happy with her choice. She told us about the dreams she had for the baby to grow up with us, how she knew we were the right parents to raise her child. We gave the birthmother the gift we had spent hours picking out. Over and over she called us the baby’s momma and daddy. Although consent was not to be signed until 48 hours after birth, things went so well the first day that we dared to hope this was going to go through. We were given a room in the hospital to be able to spend as much time with the baby as we could. She was healthy, beautiful….perfect.

The staff began to ask what we would name her, and we started to tell them on day 2. They were so excited for us, everyone on our floor was amazing and doing everything they could to make us comfortable.

The thought that this might be the only time we would be with this child, that she might not be coming home with us, was wrapped up within a thousand other thoughts and emotions. It came to mind as I prayed over her. I prayed for her life, with us or without us. I prayed for her to know Christ as her Savior one day. I prayed for her birthmother too, for the whole situation.

I can’t go into details about how everything changed so quickly, but I will say it was a shock but not totally a surprise. We knew this could happen, this happens in adoption all the time. For better or for worse, the birthmothers decide to parent, even though all the factors that lead up to her adoption plan are still in play. And all you can do is pray that God knows what He’s doing and that He will protect the helpless.

I can’t be mad at the birthmother, or anyone involved in our failed adoption. The truth is with newborn adoptions, someone leaves the hospital empty handed. The birthmothers who are choosing to go though the pain of delivery and placement instead of choosing abortion are usually doing so because they care about the child they can’t raise. Someone’s heart will break and someone will be grieving.

A failed placement like this…the hard and heart wrenching kind…was my greatest fear from day one. And I knew how I wanted to respond if it happened. I wanted to be like Job when he heard almost all that he had was gone “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21. But I will say that it was a moment by moment struggle and I failed miserably at times. I am no Job, obviously. I wasn’t mad at God, but I did feel let down that after all Paddy and I been through in our 14 years together, that He would have this in His plan for us too. What kind of people are we that God feels the need to break us then mend us back so many times?

It rained and we drove home. We had Mumford and Sons on our Pandora station and this lyric came on, from their song Keep the Earth Below My Feet:

When I was told by Jesus all was well
So all must be well

And that is really the bottom line as we heal and move forward, and dare to get excited about what God has for us. Jesus ordains our lives for our good and simultaneously His glory. The mystery of this is not lost on me. So if He has told me He is working all things for my good, then He is.

It has not escaped me that we are mourning something that was never ours, in more ways than one. God is the giver of children, funds, and dreams and ultimately all these belong to Him to do as He desires. We’ve experienced miscarriage and that’s really the closest thing I can compare a failed placement to. But I know it’s not the end of the story. Because we know God we can have unfazed hope amidst any trail and heartache that comes, and look forward with great expectation to the life He is building for us.


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Induction Date!

Today we met the lawyer at his office to sign all the paperwork. It was very sweet and surreal to see “Petition to Adopt Baby O’Malley” written on several sheets that now bear our signature. And we have an induction date: Dec 26th. Because we have to travel out of state we plan to leave on Christmas Day, since we are assuming that the induction will be in the morning. It will change up our Christmas plans, but it will be so worth it.

I’ve pretty much gotten the nursery finished and thanks to donations of clothes and baby items, we are fully ready to bring this little one home. 2013-12-20 09.09.40

 


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Matched Again!

Today we got the call that we were chosen again!

A little girl due in the next week!

Ahhh!! I’m so happy that the call just happened to come in just as I pulled into my driveway…because the tears of joy that followed would have been a strange sight in the middle of Publix.

Something about this situation felt so different to us than the last ones we presented on. The late date of the birthmom’s adoption plan, the proximity to us (in an adjoining state). The due date right around Chirstmas Day- Paddy’s birthday. Her family being so supportive of the adoption. We are exciting and nervous and suddenly have a very long to-do list. Please pray for us the next couple weeks as they will be intense, even if everything goes perfectly. And there is always risk that things won’t go as planned as well. Adoption is putting yourself out there in so many way, and now we are preparing for a baby that we are told will be our daughter but we cannot be sure of it quite yet. But all babies deserve to be anticipated with joy, and that’s exactly what we plan on doing:)


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When the darkness whispers

It’s turning cold tonight. First big chill of the year and the wind is whipping outside my bedroom window. As soon as I got home from work I put my yoga pants and fuzzy socks on and got into bed. I haven’t felt well today- physically or emotionally, one impacts the other in my little world.

I can’t really put my finger on the problem, but I hear the doubt whisper to me like the wind outside. We are six months into our official adoption journey, but the events of last week have taken me back to square one. Back to where my hope is clouded and my faith is challenged. If you’ve read adoption blogs and they are all sunshine and rainbows, they are hiding something. God is always faithful to me, no matter how small my faith in Him is. But I will say that I do hear the dark whispers tonight. “God hasn’t given you children because you won’t be a good mom.” Or “You don’t deserve the blessing of a family, otherwise He would have given it freely not taken you down this long and painful road.” Lies. I know it. I preach His goodness and Sovreignty to myself daily. But here I am confessing the condemnation of infertility. And even the poverty of it. If the woman who has many children is to count herself rich, where does that leave the childless? This is hard stuff folks. There is not a trite easy answer. There is only Jesus, who counts the tears of His children just as surely as He counts the hair on their heads.


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The Last Few Days

Wow. The last few days have been intense. And because I can’t share too much detail on a blog, let me just say we were informed of a need that was a little outside of our plans. There was a 4 year old girl available for a private placement, which is pretty rare. Although we have though our path would be an infant, we responded with hearts open to whatever God has for us. This process involved spending a day with her and honestly, falling in love with her. Some unexpected challenges came up (which is actually pretty expected with adoption).  And now we are waiting. We are waiting to see what God is doing, and what our part is in this particular story.

Adoption redefines waiting for the glory of God. It is the hands clenched on your phone, knowing that the next minute could contain a call that could change your life- or not. And your day has to go on like you are not on pins and needles, because there is normal life going on all around you.

That is my life these past few days. So much wondering, so many emotions. But a sovereign God ordering all things for His glory.


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Your Adopting Friends Are Crazy

Let me do some truth telling. Your waiting adopting friends are probably not “all there” at the moment. They are answering calls, working, going to church, and following their daily routine. But it’s a bit robotic, a bit distracted. If they were honest they would tell you how little they’ve gotten done this week because they’re glued to their phone, waiting for an email. They would tell you how they forget important things like applying the conditioner after the shampoo in their morning shower. How they have burned a number of dinners now by being so preoccupied. They would tell you how a day can seem like a lifetime and a week like an eternity, when you’re waiting on a tidbit of news.

Oh I know its worth it. I know. But it’s a new normal that takes adjustment. I have never carried a baby to term, but I do know that preoccupation my pregnant friends get. They are in the midst of wondering so many things: is he healthy, how will she look, what will those first moments be like, what if something goes wrong? And they rub their bellies just a bit to reassure themselves that this will all be worth it. Your adoptive friends are thinking all those same things.

Your adoptive friends are in a state of high alert at all times. They are fielding decisions left and right, big life changing decisions. Maybe a situation has come up with a medical need that they are researching. Maybe they are looking at their budgets and see if it can stretch to a situation that has a few extra costs than expected. Maybe they have just been heard a hard “no.” And they take a breath and do the next thing. This is where their weariness comes from.

Your adoptive friends marriages are changing, their homes are changing, and their future is changing. And that’s alot to deal with all at once. They are being inspected, fingerprinted, and interviewed. Every possible parenting weakness they might have is being dredged up, while a million possible adoption complications are being spelled out in training classes. They are learning about bonding and grief and children from hard places. They are learning that great joy and unspeakable tragedy go hand in hand with adoption. And that racism is still very much a factor in our culture. And this will be hard to take. There will be guilt. There will be questioning. Then there will be renewed vision.

Of course there is more. Your adoptive friends are learning to be advocates for a very misunderstood cause. They are getting used to mixed reactions….happiness to anger and everything in between.  They are learning to be ok when the 100th person tells them “you will get pregnant now that you’re adopting” or “I still hope you will be able to have a child of your own someday.” They are getting used to giving financial breakdowns of why adoption is “so expensive.” They are getting used to people asking them very personal questions very bluntly.

If you are close enough to a friend going through adoption, you might be getting the details not suitable for blogs or Facebook. And these details might be hard, confusing, and unfair.  I  worry I am giving my friends a more intense rollercoaster ride than they signed up for.  Because being a friend to someone who is adopting is hard work. But if your friends ever needed your support, prayers, and understanding…it’s through the adoption process. It’s the time for the Church to rally and encourage as God does His work of creating a family.  Your crazy adopting friends need you to point them back to God and to remind them of His sovereignty just as much as they need you to loan them baby stuff. They need you to stockpile prayers for them just as much as they need to stockpile diapers. And we are seeing this in real time from our amazing church and friends and it’s been humbling and beautiful to watch.


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The Things God does with Hearts and Minds

Adoption changes you. In ways you didn’t know needed to change. I have no comparisons for it. It challenges my middle class suburban mindset. It has shown me glimpses of lives that are so unlike my own, yet so very precious and God breathed. Adoption is wrestling with thoughts that disarm you, feelings that expose you, and a hopefulness that Is inspired by God.

For me, it was fairly easy to set our limits of what we would and wouldn’t accept in a child. For my husband the boundaries were harder to define because, frankly, he has been blessed with a beautiful, optimistic faith that doesn’t feel the need to place so many boundaries on God. I’ve always admired that.

But that’s not how I operate. I want to know what’s coming. Feel prepared. Wrap my head around what’s next. I can be theological and say it’s “counting the cost” and isn’t that admired in Scripture?

In truth I was unprepared for how the reality of the little lives waiting for their families would wrestle with my expectations and ideals and self imposed limits.

And the further we go on the road, the less self limiting I become. The more expectant I become that God will do something huge. And I’ve started looking for it. And in the end it’s possible that our adoption could look very different than we initially thought it would. Because we are starting to say yes to things we would not have considered when we first started with adoption several months ago.

At this point we have seen many situations, our profile has been chosen twice (and it didn’t work out). And shown and rejected several more times. Even greater have been the number of situations in which we have prayed through budgets, logistics, insurance, drug exposures, and other considerations. God has a plan and I don’t for a moment think one ounce of hope or one prayer was wasted. This part has been a privilege.

I believe, Lord, help my unbelief. I believe that You “set the lonely in families,” help me to also believe that You are bigger than all the unknowns and the hard truths of adoption. And that You are orchestrating something beautiful here.


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Another Match Falls Through

The last two weeks I have entered some of the “hard stuff” of adoption. In the midst of waiting there are so many challenges.

One of our agencies called to tell us we had again been chosen! A little boy due in November.

But our agency contact said that they were going to consider it “tentative.” There were some things going on with the birthmother that lead them to believe she might not place and wanted to make sure of her decision before we signed anything. We were thankful for the way the agency was handling it.

During our tentative match another situation in our budget came to light, but we had to say no, because of the commitment to this situation. Since our profile has gone live, we have seen few situations in our budget (currently $25,000 or less, most range $27,000-$35,ooo and some are more). Then two weeks later, the agency calls to tell us that the birthmother has decided to attempt parenting.

Which puts us back at square one.