Tips for a Healthy Marriage During the Adoption Process

I posted on social media recently about my marriage and how grateful I felt to know the true love that has come with the experience of being in a committed relationship with my husband, as opposed to the fleeting emotional highs of the “falling in love” stage. True love is the kind of love that isn’t based on feelings. It’s in the day to day, the month to month, the year to year. It’s when someone actively loves you through your darkest days and your brightest moments. Our society promotes us to chase happiness and feelings and teaches us next to nothing about what it looks like to love unconditionally. To love without conditions. Can we all repeat that? It’s such a powerful statement. To love without conditions.

This topic is especially near and dear to my heart as it relates to the relationships affected by infertility, loss, and the ever-stressful journey of adoption. You’ve probably heard it said already, but when these factors are present in a relationship, especially over the course of many years, divorce rates increase. And that’s not cool with me.

That said, the post opened up an amazing discussion, especially one on one with a few people who wanted to know how my husband and I are working to love each other better each day. To say they were looking for advice would be true, but that also makes me cringe, because I am the first to admit that we are just as flawed and imperfect as the next family. Needless to say, I had to be frank and let everyone who asked know that we’ve had our fair share of dark seasons, especially through losing our children and through adopting our son.

As we have pressed through and pushed forward, I can see how little choices and little mindset shifts have made all the difference for us. So I’m here today to share with you some of the marriage-strengthening tips that have worked for us in hopes that they might inspire anyone who feels like their in the thick of the dark.

The first thing I’ll say is that we are very pro-counseling. And yes, this is even true when only one of you agrees to go. It’s absolutely ideal if both parties agree to go together or separately, but if your spouse isn’t there yet, go by yourself! If anything, you’ll be able to process through difficulties and at the same time learn some amazing coping tools. Plus, counselors can still walk you through ways to deal directly with your spouse through what you tell them, and the way that you respond to your spouse in the hard moments can be a total gamechanger. If you feel like counseling is out of your budget, be sure to check with your insurance company. Sometimes they have amazing plans and coverage and we just don’t know it. If not, check locally for practices that offer scholarships and then apply. We applied for a counseling scholarship and got it!

My husband and I have been to counseling twice. Once after our first daughter passed away, and again after our second daughter passed away. And honestly–I’m positive we’ll continue to go back everytime we hit a rough patch. We strongly believe that counseling is good for good times and bad times. If you’re in a healthy spot, it might seem counterintuitive to talk to a counselor, but just as we use vitamins, supplements, and preventative health tools to keep our physical bodies well, it can be extremely valuable to add these same preventative-type tools to our relationships.

One of the biggest mindset shifts I had to do personally was to remember who we were as a couple before loss, infertility, and adoption came into the picture. I frequently reminisce on what brought us together, and it’s one of our favorite things to talk about. I challenge you to plan a date with your spouse where the only topic you’re allowed to cover the entire time is how you met and fell in love. Or maybe just identify together which topics totally stress you out and make it a point to put them on the “off-limits” list for the entire date.

A powerful tool we keep in mind throughout our relationship is speaking words that are life-giving. This is like “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” except the grown up version. (Although the simple version is a great thing to carry into our relationships as well.) I’m a huge fan of speaking life over all situations, in that our words and mind are powerful tools that can be used to build up or destroy. In the midst of an incredibly hard season of marriage, Chris and I sat down with two pieces of paper, and we each wrote down ten things that we love about each other. They didn’t have to be deep or profound, they just needed to be true. Basically what I’m saying is that I was allowed to admire how my husband can literally fix anything and how I love that he provides for our family, and then after that I could say that I liked his butt. The only rule was that when we were finished, we had to take turns reading the list. He read one, then I read one, and you can practice this fun game every day or every week or whenever you want. I highly recommend it after an especially stressful day. If your spouse doesn’t want to play, write down ten anyway and read them off to them.

Something we realized we had gotten so bad at through the stress of life was prioritizing date nights. I know it seems like a no-brainer, but like, when is the last time you guys went on a date?! Dates don’t have to be expensive, it could be as simple as cooking a meal together after the kids are in bed, or spending the evening at a park or simply walking around a cool part of town. But the key is to be alone and to be intentional with your time.

This next topic is a sensitive one, but it’s so important: intimacy. Yes, I mean physical intimacy. Without getting too graphic, let me touch on the fact that I know that for our family, as well as many others dealing with infertility and loss, physical intimacy can be a huge trigger of emotional turmoil in a marriage. Especially for women, intimacy can remind us of all of the things we do not want to be thinking about in those moments, like how we may not be able to have biological kids or maybe it reminds us of a loss we’ve experienced or maybe it reminds us of a stressful adoption or lack thereof. But hear me when I say this: it is so important to engage anyway. Engage, initiate, talk about it, whatever, just bring physical intimacy to the forefront. A woman’s mind is a complex place, and it can be easy to shut down the parts that frequently remind us of pain. This was the case for me and it is the case for so many other friends I’ve talked to.

I learned recently that the emotional connection I (and most women) get through quality time and intentional conversation is the exact same emotional connection most men get through intimacy. Whereas we long to process through our stressful day and connect with our husbands through spending quality time together and having them truly listen to us, men seek and find that same fulfillment through physical intimacy with us. I used to feel like I couldn’t dare think about spending time in bed with my spouse if my emotions were all over the place and I hadn’t “connected emotionally” with him in days, but I realized that he wanted the same thing, he just wanted it in a different way. For example, I would have a rough week dealing with grief and stress, and before Chris and I would have a chance to spend time talking and hanging out, he’d be pursuing physical intimacy and my gut response would be to shut him down for “neglecting” my feelings. But realizing how we differed in this area allowed me to see his acts of pursuit as an emotional connection rather than a selfish motive. We also got a good laugh out of the fact that I couldn’t believe our heartfelt conversations didn’t make him feel any more or any less “emotionally connected” to me.

There’s so much more I feel like I could say, but I’ll end on this one: so many arguments of ours are now diffused and shut down by simply reminding each other in the heat of the moment that we are on the same team. It can be so easy, especially during a fight, to feel like you are two opposing forces, but chances are that if you are in a loving relationship, you both truly do want what’s best for your family. You both may see different routes to get you there, which is often the cause of the tension, but deep down your intention is not to harm your spouse or your family. Reminding each other of this often “resets” the conflict and allows the two of you to brainstorm together, weighing the pros and cons of each of your points. If you find, like we sometimes do, that we’re actually just fighting for no reason at all (or because Jordan is hungry or tired or, God forbid, hasn’t had enough coffee) then it’s way easier to just stop and hug it out and move on with the day.

Because every relationship is different, we’d love to hear what does and doesn’t work for you! What kinds of things do you and your partner like to do to strengthen your relationship?

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Split Between Two Rooms

I have been getting these questions a lot lately. “What was is like the day of the girls birth?” and “Did you get to be in the delivery room?”

I had no expectations about the hospital day. I had heard from many people that went through the adoption process that it was often rare to be there for the birth – either because of timing, or the birthmom wanted that time alone or with only family in the room. Which made sense to me. I am a stranger to this woman and this a very private and emotional moment in her life.

We had 10 days to get ready for twins when we were matched with our girls’ birthmom. Ten days to make plane reservations, maternity leave plans, raise $30,000, get the nursery ready, pick names (we only had boys names on our list), and find somewhere to stay while in Utah. So there was little time to think about what would happen after we actually GOT to Utah.

The night before our twins were born we met their birthmom for the first time. I will never forget the first time I saw her. She was beautiful and warm and we were both so nervous. We gave each other a big hug in the middle of the LongHorn Steakhouse’s parking lot and the first thing she said to me was how beautiful my eyes are (I have NEVER been told this before. In fact, I tell everyone my eye color is honey poop brown. It can’t get more boring than that).

As we ate, we got to know each other. Focusing on our lives and surprisingly not even talking much about the babies. I let her lead most of the conversation. And then I realized that we had no plan for tomorrow. She was scheduled for a c-section in the morning, and I had no idea what her expectations were. Would she want us there? Did she want time alone with the babies?

I took a breath and grabbed her hand and said, “Tomorrow is your day. If you want us there we are there. If you need your space and time with the girls, that is okay too.”

Without hesitation and almost cutting me off she replied,

“No, tomorrow is our day.”


I remember just nodding my head to say okay, because I couldn’t get a word out.

The next day came quickly. I remember there was an amazing sunrise. Josh and I drove to the hospital and when we got there, she was in such a good mood and visibly happy to see us.

Her c-section got pushed back so we had about an hour to get to know each other more. She showed us pictures of her previous ultrasounds, and caught us up on little moments over the past nine months that we had missed. She told us how she dreamed of being a writer, and the names she had picked for the girls. Justice and Jordan. She wanted her own nicknames for them and these names were perfect.

One of the social workers from the agency came in and warmly greeted us and gave a big hug to L. I can’t remember what she said exactly, but she alluded to only one person being allowed in the operating room because of space and hinted that she would be that person. L quickly cut her off and said, “No, I want Hannah there.”

Soon it was time. I held L’s hand as she received her epidural, and rubbed her head as the doctors began the c-section.

At some point, I looked down and told L that she was my hero.

Her reply…

“No, you are mine.”

Before the girls arrived Josh was able to join us as well. And then at 9:36 and 9:37 the most beautiful twin girls were born. Ezra was looking a little blue so they took her back to the NICU quickly, but then they brought a little round face baby with the daintiest features up to see me and L.

L quickly said “Oh, that’s definitely, Jordan” and I looked at that same little round head and thought to myself “Yes, that’s definitely Olive” – One baby, two special names. And two mamas who both love her welcoming her into this world.

I never realized what an unexpected gift this was. To be present with L. To hold her hand, and to welcome the girls  into this world together.

The girls went to the NICU, Josh went with them and I went with L. With how quickly we had bonded, I did not want her to go back to an empty room alone.

So that day I was split between two rooms.

I spent the day running between each room. Soaking up the little time I had to get to know L, making sure she was comfortable and not alone, and getting to know these precious babies that would become my daughters. When I was with L, I was worried and missing the girls, and when I was with the girls I was wondering how L was doing.

I knew I would quickly feel a bond to the girls, but what I didn’t expect was the instant bond I would have with their birthmom. I am so grateful for these three stories that collided that day and that are now intimately connected. Birth mom. Adoptive parents. Beautiful Justice/Ezra and Jordan/Olive.



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Where Grief and Joy Meet in Adoption

For weeks we’d been listening to Bing Crosby croon his dreams of a white Christmas, so when we woke to a snow covered landscape Christmas Eve morning it was the stuff of dreams; some real Christmas magic. With the backdrop of snow flocked evergreens and the promise of a roaring fire at home, I helped to dress our three excited boys and set off for the local sledding hill. There our youngest experienced sledding for the first time, bundled in snow clothes and wrapped in a scarf, protected on both sides by his older brothers. Here was this child, our son, wrapped in a dozen layers speeding through snow with wild abandon, the most gorgeous smile stretched across his face. This child who without adoption would be spending this Christmas differently in a sunny, lush Florida town. In my joy watching his exhilaration, there’s also familiar grief. The life he has, the life left behind. And always, the wish his first mom was here to see him now.

Adoption can be like that. Joy will tip the scale and then a sudden and overwhelming grief surprises you and comes to rest quietly alongside. There’s a day in November where joy and grief meet at an intersection on our calendar every year. Some people call this “gotcha day”, “forever day”; it’s when families built by adoption remember the day they first became each other’s, officially, forever. Sometimes to celebrate there are gifts, balloons, a cake. Not unlike a birthday they’re celebrating a birth, the birth of family. 

As a mom to a beautiful boy who came to us through adoption I recognize the joy and the gratitude. I also know the deep pain, the grief, the irreconcilable loss. For the child for whom forever means forever saying goodbye to a culture and language, or the child for whom forever means bidding farewell forever to visitations and the possibility of a happy reunion, for the infant child like ours for whom forever means a new name and new landscape, for the first mama for whom forever means a lifetime without and relinquishing precious firsts into the hands of another.

So in November when we remember the date our son’s adoption was made final, I struggle with this. There was a joy that sealed him to us and a searing loss that separated him from his first mother. How do I say, I’m so glad you’re ours and equally I’m so sorry you’re not completely hers. I’m thankful to be the one to whom you lift your arms and cry “mama”, and I’m sorry the maternal ties that grew so full and rich with your first mama were severed. I’m thankful my arms carried you from the hospital room, and I’m deeply sorry she walked down the long sterile corridor with empty arms. There aren’t balloons or Pinterest boards that help me say that. So maybe instead I allow space for the grief and for the sadness. I hold my son’s tiny hand and fragile heart, and we walk through the muddy waters together. We allow space for joy and family and grief and loss to coexist. We make room for story, for what was lost, for what won’t be and for what forever is.

We celebrate forever family every day; affirming that he belongs, we belong to each other. The words we use to color our son’s world are you are loved, you are chosen, you belong, you are ours, we are each other’s, our family is forever. And for the murky, tangled places we carve out room that says I see your loss, I know this day of our great joy was filled to the brim with your great loss. It’s ok to eat confetti cake and to cry sad, pained tears under the joyful banner of forever. You still belong, you still are ours, we still belong together.

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Just Keep Breathing

I was startled away from a sink of dishes the other morning due to a sudden eruption of tears from my two-year-old. I knew the cry that filled the home, it was a cry of pain. I quickly ran to find my boy and realized when I did that he had slipped running and landed on the ground, his bottom lip swelling from impact.

I swooped him off the ground and began to soothe him. He’s two, so I knew there wasn’t much I could say to ease his mind. So in his hurting I sat and held him. There were little things I did for him to try and bring him back to a place of peace and comfort; I kissed his face and examined the hurt area to see if he needed extra care. I applied ice and offered him his favorite drink to help calm him. Nothing else mattered to me in that moment but ensuring that he felt loved by me. I knew he was going to be okay. But he didn’t.

What I did not feel compelled to do in that moment was examine with him all the possibilities that led to the fall. In retrospect, I’m sure there were many factors involved: how fast he was running, if there were toys in the way, if he wasn’t watching where his feet were headed, or if he simply lost his balance. In those moments of sobbing and tears, I knew that no explanation or theory or game plan for avoiding another fall would soothe the hurt he felt in that moment. I knew I simply needed to sit with him in it until he felt more at peace. I needed to sit with him until the crying subsided.

Leading up to the release of our book, I’m getting asked often what it’s about, and the best response I can give is that it’s about the time we fell and the time we were hurting and the time we were sitting in tears and in pain, and the time that we were being held but at the same time unsure of  if and when we were going to be okay.

It’s about that.

I read so many books during my pregnancies and through the loss of my first two children where there would be an introduction of great pain and tragedy, and then at the chapter end things would be looking hopeful. And the rest of the words would attempt to add value to the suffering to somehow force me into a place of heroic martyrdom instead of the disorienting struggle of grief. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. At all.

But as I read, I wanted to know about the time before they saw the light at the end of the tunnel? What was it like before that? As I read the words, my brain and heart were unable to compute if I was ever going to be okay again. Was I the only one? What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I muscle past the ache and the wounds and the anxiety and the sadness and just believe I would be fine?

Unlike a swollen lip that fades in hours or a day or two, our pregnancies continued on day after day for months while our children’s death sentences loomed over us. We spent five months leading up to the birth of our first daughter in pain and grieving, unsure if she would be coming home with us. And then we did it all again nine months later. What about those days? What about those months? What about the sleepless nights and the anxiety filled days and what about those moments when I had to keep going to the grocery store and paying my bills and existing in my community during it all?

Unlike that swollen lip, our birth stories are riddled with trauma and heartache, but the heartache didn’t end when we left the hospital. What about those days? Those hours, those moments, those weeks where we couldn’t see the end of our pain anywhere in sight.

I wrote this book in the midst of the pain. I wrote it when I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it out. I wrote it when I had five hundred questions and no answers. I knew I was being held the whole time. I could feel it. But it didn’t make the hurt go away.

I wanted every reader to know that I was there to sit with you in the pain. I wanted every word to feel like an embrace, but an embrace that didn’t try to solve the puzzle of why crappy things happen. An embrace that didn’t offer a ten-step plan to feel normal again. Yes, there are things we can do for one another in our pain to ease the burden, but I wanted you to know that we’re in this thing together for the long haul, not in the offering of fleeting condolences but in the commitment to hold you in the midst of heartache and let nothing else matter. Until. You. Are. Okay.

Even when you were never sure if you’d actually be okay. Especially then.

You can purchase “Just Keep Breathing, Unfiltered thoughts on life after loss the struggle of grief and learning to hope again” on Amazon

Or buy it from Westbow Press.


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Five Things I learned from Five Days of Foster Care

The moment we got the first call, my heart pounded and I started feeling an array of emotions. Excitement, anxiety, worry, hope, joy, dread…the list could go on. Dan and I had thought about becoming foster parents for years, but had a lot of “reasons” why we couldn’t or wouldn’t want to do it. After months (and a few miraculous ways that God worked on our hearts), we decided to go for it and we had our first placement of two boys under 2 years old. 


Truth-be-told, we felt like we were drowning. We barely slept, I forgot to eat, and could only fit in a few sips of coffee each morning (which is a BIG sacrifice for this coffee-lover). The boys became a part of our lives quickly and just as we started to imagine what our “new normal” would be, they left as quickly as they arrived. We had five days with them and then they were gone. We were shocked, tired, and amazed – all at once.

We learned a lot in those five days. I now that I’ve been through two additional placement and a culmination of 9 months of fostering, we’ve learned to stretch and grow with each new placement.  For now, here are five things we learned in that first experience:

  1. Expect the Unexpected. There are lots of moving parts when a child gets placed with Child Protective Services. Multiple caseworkers and social workers, GALs, Child Placement Agencies, Home Supervisors, Biological parents and family, Foster Parents and family, and the communities in which they work and live. From our first experience, we realized quickly that not everyone is on the same page. When we got our first call, we knew we were getting two kids, but when they showed up, one was a different age than we had heard. We weren’t as prepared as we thought we were. One was going full-speed-ahead all day and night (until he finally crashed at night after hours of trying to get him to settle). The other was a baby who did not want to be put down – even to sleep – he wanted (and probably needed) to be held most of his waking hours. And the sleeping hours were few and far between.  We were expecting them to stay a minimum of six months. They went back to parents after five days. We were expecting we could handle it a lot better. Were we in for a surprise! Maybe that’s expected for many of you out there – but for me, I realized quickly that any expectations I had were not even close to the real thing.
  2. It takes sacrifice: This seems obvious, right? This is why most of us might shun away from making the final push to become foster parents. It’s good and important work – I think we could all agree on that. But it takes true sacrifice. It takes a giving-up of so many parts of us. Depending on the age of child you are approved for, it could mean many sleepless nights. It could mean lots of tears and screaming, struggles with communication and navigating food issues. It could mean staying at home all day when you’re used to being out and about for work. It may mean saying no to many things that you’d rather be doing. It takes a lot of dying to self in order to love, nurture, and care for these little ones who need your full attention and grace.
  3. It takes a village: I don’t know if I truly understood this saying until we went through a really dark time, and then again when we started foster care with our first placement. We are not couple who has extra financial resources at this point in our lives. We rely on both of our jobs to pay our bills buy food and have a little on the side for coffee or other needs …so having people come around us with clothes and toys and baby gear and kids gear meals and gift cards was incredibly helpful and in our case,  much-needed. Not only did people support us in this tangible way but so many encouraged and prayed and lifted our spirits when we were struggling-we truly could not be doing this without our family, friends, our community and our church. If you’re considering foster care I’d recommend gathering a village of your own that will be committed to walking this journey with you in whatever way that they are best equipped to do.
  4. It will hurt: It’s hurts to have your life turned upside-down for another person. It’s painful to let go of your old way of life (for our case it was “freedom” to do what we wanted as a married couple without children). It’s painful to see your own brokenness, impatience, frustration, and even (dare-I-say) anger at times. It’s painfully hard to do this work. Loving children deeply and fully – children that you literally just met and know nothing about- doesn’t always come naturally (at least not for me). The children that come through your door may have difficult and challenging behaviors that you may or may not know how to handle well. They may not sleep or want to eat. They may not want to be comforted by you. It can be very hard.  But mostly, maybe the hardest part is letting go of my selfishness and giving up my “needs” for the needs of another who so desperately deserves it.
  5. It is worth it: I’ve always had a warm feeling about this statement – but I never taken it as seriously before as I do now. When I think about what some of these children have been through, it makes sense that they struggle in new environments. Some of them don’t know what it feels like to be cared for in an intentional way. Some of them don’t know peace and quiet so it feels strange and scary. Some of them don’t know how to be loved or soothed or nurtured. Please hear me when I say; this is not to make their biological parents sound like terrible people, because the truth is, most of them are not. Most of them may have a similar story to these kids- and maybe didn’t get the attachment and care that they truly needed when they were young. Unfortunately, trauma can become a negative cycle that affects generations. In this short time, I know and believe that it’s so vital to love these children as if they were your own. It’s vital to allow your heart to attach to them so that they can feel safe to attach to another human. It’s one of the most, if not the most, important piece of a child’s development. One of the hardest things to experience in life is the feeling of being desperately alone. When we step into the call of foster care, are stepping into holy ground- hard, yet holy. When you are called to be a presence in their little lives and called to be a voice that says to each child; “You are not alone. You’re not forgotten. You are dearly loved and always worth loving”.

Today as we eagerly wait for our next placement, people ask me if I’m excited. It’s a hard question to answer and if I’m being honest, the answer is yes and no. I’m truly excited to see who we will get to love on next. I’m excited to love and serve and welcome a child into a safe place and caring community. But I’m scared. I’m aware of the sacrifice, the pain, the challenges, the tears, all the mixed emotions and the sleepless nights that will also accompany our next placement. We will do the best we can, but it’s hard, it takes sacrifice, it takes a village, it’s painful, and yet, it’s so worth it. In the midst of it all, our deepest hope is to be a refuge, and with the help of God and our people around us, we hope that many more children will get to experience refuge and healing as long as they’re with us.


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3 things to ask an adoption agency (from a birthmother’s prospective)

As we get close to wrapping up National Adoption Awareness Month I wanted to say thank you for everyone that has been sharing their experiences and their stories through this journey.  It has been eye-opening, healing and so powerful, and it’s opened the door for really hard but honest conversation about adoption.  

For those that aren’t aware I have launched Lifetime Healing, LLC.  It is the nation’s first post placement curriculum and training for adoption professionals.  As we prepare to train all over the country in 2018 we wanted to bring the conversation here to Kindred + Co.  

One question that I get a lot as an advocate for post placement support is “what are we supposed to look for in an agency?”

It is so important that we hold the adoption professionals accountable for the services they are providing –  I truly believe that the adoptive parents hold so much power.  You can love and honor birth mothers well from the minute you start the adoption process.  

We need healthy and holistic adoption agencies.  We need the services that they can provide.  Without agencies, we are left with private lawyers and online matching, not that they don’t have their value or place, but it eliminates any post-placement support or advocacy work through the process.  

Here are a few things that we think should be deal breakers when choosing an agency:

  1. Do you offer separate legal representation/caseworker for the expectant mothers?
    A lot of times smaller agencies will have staff that services BOTH the hopeful adoptive parents and the expectant parents.  As you can imagine, there are few concerns with this structure.  I believe that it is unrealistic to expect the agencies to be able service the needs of both families through every need, every emotional hill and every question that comes up in this very demanding process.  The work that the adopting parents alone have to go through is enough to keep anyone completely occupied.  Each person involved deserves unique and specific attention.  It is too easy for things to fall through the cracks, for people to get neglected in times of need and it is impossible to offer true advocacy for one side when torn between both.  This includes an opportunity to serve the expectant mother in the hospital when she typically doesn’t have an advocate that can be a powerful voice for her when she may feel silenced.  
  2. Do you encourage an open adoption contract/mediation for families?  
    I know, I know!  We all have the very best intentions when we go into these relationships.  We love the mothers well and we can’t ever imagine not wanting an open adoption but the reality is WE DON’T KNOW HOW WE ARE GOING TO FEEL.  We can’t predict emotion, grief, new baby life, and more.  It makes such a difference for the women that place to have some peace of mind that you care enough to make some solid commitments.  The feeling of being used for our babies is VERY real and knowing that you are willing to put on paper your willingness to keep her in this lifelong process is powerful.  It opens the doors for trust, love and healthier open adoption relationships and this is a blessing for all involved.  Even if the agencies are going to tell you that these are not necessary, that they are not legally binding in all states, that you can just play it by ear please stand firm in your desire to ease the heart of the birth mother.
  3. Do you offer post placement care?  
    If you pay attention every agency has some sort of post placement care offering on their website but when you start to ask questions you find that it comes with restrictions, cost or limited to ONLY one-on-one-therapy with their social worker, which tends to be a huge trigger.  Agencies will typically say “if you decide you want therapy, we are here for you”.  But statistics show that less than 15% will actually come back to that form of support.  There needs to be a variety of services, community support and peer groups with women that can relate to their journey.  Lifetime support should not be a luxury that costs families more money, it should be a standard.  If the agencies are going to stand with the mothers in the destruction, then they should be there in the rebuild!  Our mission for Lifetime Healing is to not only train these agencies on how to run these groups but to provide the concrete tools to help them stay consistent and successful.  

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. One vital key to a healthy open adoption is a healthy birth mother and that is not possible if she is not presented with support from the beginning.  We need to close the gap from the time she leaves the hospital empty handed to the time she finds a group on her own.  The sooner the better.  For more information on our services or if you have an agency that would be interested in this information please head on over to

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Adoption Profile Book Spotlight: Kristina + Hunter

I am so excited to be sharing Hunter + Kristina’s profile book on the blog today! In case you don’t know Kindred + Co. was born out my own adoption process. I knew nothing about domestic adoption when my husband and I decided to switch from International to Domestic, I knew nothing about the process or the need for profile books. I was desperate to read stories about people from all sides of the triad – I wanted to learn and I wanted to read first-hand stories. But I couldn’t find one place for this kind of community. I saw community within agencies, but not one place for everyone, full of different  perspectives. That is a big reason that I started Kindred. The other reason was to help hopeful adoptive families with their profile book! The profile book is intimidating! And many agencies give you very little support on how to go about making one of these books. I was thankful that I had a background in design and marketing and could make my own, but I kept thinking about the families that might be so overwhelmed by this task – adopting is overwhelming enough! After my inbox was full of requests from people to help them with their profile book, it gave me even more reason to start Kindred + Co. One of my favorite parts of the book process is getting to know the couples we work with. They are determined and vulnerable and full of so much grit. Each story of what brought them to adoption is so unique. I love getting to know them and creating a book that authentically represents who they are and what their lives are like. I have been so busy creating books, that I haven’t taken enough time to SHARE these books with you – and so I am starting this series of Profile Book spotlights, so you can get to know Kindred couples, hear their story, and get a glimpse into their profile book! I was thrilled to work with Hunter + Kristina, they are such a vibrant couple, and their situation was a little unique – They had already had a profile created, but they didn’t feel like it represented them well – so they came to us for a redesign! And I just loved how it turned out. Okay, enough of me. Enjoy this interview with Hunter + Kristina! – Hannah

Adoption profile book | Kindred + Co.What led you and your husband to grow your family through adoption?

We ended up pursing adoption in the midst of a long battle with infertility.  It’s not something I had ever pictured for our family, but Hunter was open to it from the beginning.  God spoke to him clearly about it first, about a month before He spoke to me, but Hunter didn’t say a word about it because he knew it was something I would have to come to on my own.  In my mind I knew the same thing, that adoption couldn’t be Plan B just because we weren’t able to have biological children. It would have to be Plan A – and that’s exactly what it became.

What did you learn through the adoption process?

Honestly I could go on and on about what we learned – there’s so much to unpack.  I could talk about the logistics of the process but the most profound things I learned were personal.  The adoption process is scary, uncertain, and completely out of your control.  It’s also beautiful, exciting, and mysterious – it all depends on your perspective.  There were several days I was completely gripped by fear, consumed by the fact that I couldn’t control the choices our child’s birth mom was making which would affect him for the rest of his life (even though I didn’t know who she was yet).  The hardest and biggest thing to learn was to trust God in all of it.  And I’m not talking about a lip service, trusting-God-because-He’s-God kind of trust – I’m talking about a gut wrenching, you’ve written our family’s story and I trust you as the Author to write it no matter what it involves, complete surrender kind of trust.  The reality is, control is a facade that we think will keep us safe – and we think we have control over our family if our child is growing in our belly.  But adding to your family is a journey of surrendering control regardless of how your children come to you.

Adoption Profile Book, Kindred + Co.

What is your advice for someone starting their adoption?

When we started the process, I was overwhelmed to say the least just thinking about all that was ahead.  Would I be ready when we got the call?  Would I be able to love an adopted child as I would a biological child?  Would I miss out on the process of falling in love with our child because he wouldn’t be growing in my belly?  Would my maternal instinct kick in (and how)?  What would our child look like?  How would I answer questions about him in the grocery store?  How would I answer his questions when he got older?…and on and on and on.  And listen, I know I’m not the only one who struggles with those kinds of questions – aka struggles with getting WAY ahead of myself.  The best thing I can tell you is to focus on the next thing in front of you and do that.  Just do the next thing and your heart will follow.  Your heart will grow and be prepared for your child as you prepare, whatever that looks like for you.  It’s literally the hardest advice to follow because it means being present and not getting ahead of yourself, but the days that I was able to live that way were the best ones in the process, and the ones that I felt the most free to enjoy the the mystery of it all.

Adoption Profile BookWhy did you choose Kindred to make your profile book?

The design of our profile book was very important to us.  The way we saw it, our book was the only thing that a birth mom would have to understand who we were and we wanted it to speak clearly and represent us well.  We also are REALLY busy and didn’t have time to make our book what we wanted it to be! When we came across Kindred we were thrilled because their design style lined up with what we had envisioned for our book and we didn’t have to think twice about it.

Adoption Profile Book, Kindred + Co.

What is your favorite part of your profile book?

I love the page that highlights a few of our favorite things (pictured above!).  The picture that Hannah pick for it was one of my favorite photos we had taken for our five year anniversary, but I never framed it because I couldn’t find a good place for it.  I was so happy when she suggested using it for that page, and the way she laid it out is so much fun!

What was the most overwhelming (or hard) part of your adoption process and how did you work through it?

The hardest part is the part we’re in right now – our adoption is not finalized yet and we’re working through some challenges in the process, so the future of our family is still hanging in the balance.  The honest truth is that no matter what point in the process I had been asked that question, I probably would have answered, “right now!”  Each step is uniquely challenging in its own way and requires a deeper level of trust as you move forward towards growing your family.  That’s the beauty of it: the process is constantly requiring you to go deeper, and you have the opportunity at each step to be present and embrace it – and if you do you’ll find more beauty waiting there than you could have imagined.

How does your profile book represent who you are? 

Somehow Hannah made it exactly what we wanted: clean and simple yet personal.  It really feels like US when you flip through the pages.  I was excited for birth moms to see it knowing that, when the one we had been waiting for found it, she would have a real introduction to our family.  Having that confidence in presenting our book was a game changer and calmed a lot of our anxieties!

We had so much advice thrown at us when we were working on our book…people have different opinions on what should be included, and it’s hard to know what to do.  We felt a lot of pressure to include certain information, certain types of pictures, and to represent ourselves in a certain way.  One day we saw an adoptive family out at a restaurant and started chatting with them about their story.  They said that they were intentionally authentic with their book, regardless of what advice they received, because they ultimately wanted to be chosen because of who they were and not some version of themselves that seemed more presentable. That stuck with us and we agreed we wanted our book to truly feel like us, no matter what advice we received. 

Adoption Profile Book, Kindred + Co.If you know – what stood out about your book to your child’s birth mom?

Our match story is kind of crazy.  Our birth mom had a stack of something like 30 books to look through from our agency, and after going through every single one of them she only wanted to meet us.  She then handed the stack of books to her grandmother and her aunt, not telling them who she chose, and they both chose only our family as well!  It just goes to show that there is a child and a birth mom specifically intended for each adoptive family and the story God is weaving is much bigger than we can understand.  Ultimately, our birth mom said that it was the letter we wrote to her at the beginning of our book that set us apart.  It was personal and real about our struggle to grow a family, but we also shared how we had been praying for her which touched her deeply.  Aside from that, she has a lot of the same interests that we do and has an artistic eye so the photographs and design of our book really caught her attention.

Now that your son is home – how has your life changed?

I think an easier question would be how my life hasn’t changed!! I feel like nothing is the same since bringing him home, and anyone who has welcomed a child into their family can relate.  It’s only been six months but I barely remember what life was like before him (and what in the world I did with all my free time).  The best thing that’s changed is my perspective – of what’s important in life, of what motherhood is, of myself.  Somehow, in bringing Benjamin home, the depths of pain of infertility aren’t so deep anymore.  Trust me – the pain is still very real when pregnancy announcements are sprung on me or when conversation revolves around how a pregnant friend is feeling or how cute her bump is. Because, even though the deep desire to be a mother is being fulfilled, the desire to experience pregnancy is not.  But that’s the thing: the desire to be a mother is deeper, and that’s the joy of what I’m experiencing now.  So when I see a pregnant woman out in public, I no longer see her as a reminder of what I lack, but of what I’ve been given.  My husband and I were talking about it the other day, and he said something that stuck with me: don’t let nine months dictate a lifetime.  Being a mother, no matter how we come to be one, is something that lasts a lifetime.  And I’m so grateful to be on the journey, stewarding the greatest gift I’ve been given.

If you are interested in Kindred + Co. profile services, learn more here!

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Meet our November Featured Waiting Family!

We are so excited to introduce you to Kim and Ryan, our November Featured Waiting Family! Yesterday we launched our new Kindred Kids shirts, which will be available for 18 more days – when you purchase a onesies or a toddler tee, proceeds will go back to helping fund Kim and Ryan’s adoption. We love partnering with waiting families and sharing their story!

We asked Kim to share a little bit about how they got here!

Like most couples who start the adoption process, we started this journey with no clue of how to begin or what to do. We took one step and day at a time. We are now finished with all of our documents for the home-study. Hallelujah! The stack of documents seemed insurmountable… but jumped in and completed most the paper work in 2 weeks! Most of our “to-do” lists have been checked off, our i’s have been dotted and our t’s crossed. Now we get to settle in for the winter with our pumpkin spiced lattes and brisk sunset walks on the beach. While we wait to get that call that we have been praying for. The call to meet our child or children.

For those of you who don’t know our story, here is a little snapshot on how we arrived here. We have been married for almost six crazy years! I met a boy with coke bottle glasses and long, unruly hair at a Superbowl party who is now my husband. Sometimes I feel like I am living a dream. How did I get the chance to be with this guy who brings me coffee in bed? Thank the Lord we got married and we both gave each other a shot. There have been so many fun times that we’ve experienced over these last few years. But, at the same time, we have been through some major tragedies, loss and many miscarriages. I would not want to go through this with anyone else.

Adoption has always been on our heart when dreaming about what our future family was going to look like. I remember every few months Ryan meeting someone who adopted or the conversation just starting up out of nowhere. When I look back it is like we were going around a merry-go-round. My biggest concern was that I wanted to adopt from a healthy place. After going through our last miscarriage, we realized that we are never going to be fully healthy. I remember Ryan looking at me and saying, “Kim, we are ready.” I am not going to say that I am not terrified because I am. At the same time, I know that we are ready. In the areas that we are not ready, I believe that God will give us strength. From everything that we have gone through we have been prepared and molded for this moment.

To learn a little more about Ryan and Kim and their story, watch their video here! Or following along with their adoption blog here.

We are so excited to be celebrating National Adoption Month – and we hope you will join us by purchasing a Kindred Kids tee! Purchase a shirt for someone you know that is adopting, for your niece, nephew, son or daughter! We loved the simple message of LOVED for these shirts because of the wide community of people that come around an adoption – birth families, adoptive parents, friends and family. These kids are love deeply!


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Transracial Adoption: 3 Things I’ve Learned

November is National Adoption Awareness Month. It’s a chance to share stories, link arms with each other and grow deeper in our understanding of adoption in all of its beauty and brokenness. Adoptive parents have so much to learn from the rich stories and sharing of experiences of other members from within the adoption triad. Whether you’re new here, you’re waiting to adopt, you’ve adopted internationally, domestically or you have foster children in your home, there’s room for you at this table. If you’re a birth mom or an adoptee, welcome, we’ve saved you a seat. Your voice is valuable, needed. Let’s gather here and let our collective voices rise to a greater understanding; we’re better together.

I’m writing this post only 28 months in. I know we have a lifetime ahead; the years of raising our son, and his lifetime of experiences. But our family has this title, one we’re honored to bear, and one that’s obvious if you see us out together. We’re a transracial family. While we are still new at this and far from being “experts”, I thought I’d shed some light on what our experiences have been like so far.

In general, people are kind.

In all of my experiences in public and online, no one has been mean-spirited towards me/our family (to my face, at least) based on the way we look together. I know there are sadly always exceptions to the rule, but mostly, people are kind. I also know experiences can vary widely based on geography too. But it seems for the most part, people recognize that love makes a family and loved children can exist in a wide variety of family structures. Just like the saying goes for new babies, “fed is best”, so it seems to be true that “loved is best”.

People are curious.

If someone asks me, “are you babysitting?”, which has happened a handful of times, I try to regard their question as interest. They are asking to hear more of our story. As someone with intense interest in the stories of others, I understand the curiosity. And while I don’t invite strangers into the heart of our son’s adoption or his story, I recognize the spirit of inquiry that others have. I recognize it because I see it in myself too. Just the other day I just had my two youngest, Frankie and William and we were playing at the park. Another mom was there with her two children. After they had played together for a bit, she asked me out of earshot of the playing boys, if we’d adopted our youngest son. It turns out that she and her husband had just completed requirements for their foster care license, and are eagerly awaitIng their first placement. I remember so clearly being in the wait for our son and spotting families that looked how I imagined ours might one day. I usually, (possibly creepily), watched them as I dreamed about our reality. But I get it, and for the most part people are mostly interested in the heart of the story, and I try to extend grace. Sometimes people outside of the adoption community use all of the “wrong” language. I have felt offended, bristly and insulted by some things people have asked or assumed. Here’s the thing, a slice of humble pie: I didn’t always have the right language to use regarding adoption and cringe to think of things I might have said. When I try to answer horribly phrased questions with correct adoption verbiage it becomes a door to teach, however small.

People are there to help.

There are so many people to reach out to as resources. Why go it alone when you can ask and do it better? I have a friend who once stopped a college student at Wal-Mart to ask him what product he used in his hair. She noticed he had the same curl pattern as her African American son and wanted to try whatever product he was using. It’s ridiculous to expect every person of color to drop what they’re doing and be my teacher, but I’ve learned when it’s ok to ask questions. There are websites, blogs, Facebook groups and books dedicated to the purpose of helping white mama’s learn to better care for their African American children’s beautiful hair and skin. It’s important to read them. But nothing can replace asking someone. Ask a friend you trust; humble yourself and ask someone who knows more than you do. If you’re fortunate enough to have a relationship with your child’s birth mom/family, ask for their advice. Our son, Frankie, won the genetic lottery and bears his birth mama’s gorgeous complexion and skin. I reached out to her shortly after we brought him home to ask what she likes to use best to moisturize her skin. Since he takes after her, I figured she’d be the best person to ask what might work best on his. Ignorance isn’t bliss, but learning from each other is beautiful.

This post isn’t meant to be a “how-to”, there are so many beautiful resources for entering into transracial adoption, and you should read/watch/listen to them. It is meant to serve as encouragement and maybe even a push forward to bravely pursue transracial adoption if it’s on your heart. Maybe someone reading this is in the midst of paperwork and hovering over certain boxes on that (dreaded) preferences page. I hope this serves to encourage you to move forward bravely and chase love.

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I am OK.

A very close friend announced her pregnancy a couple of weeks ago. As I sat there at the table, I waited for the feelings of jealousy. The pangs of hurt to come. The aching. The questioning. I waited. And I waited. And they didn’t. They didn’t come even a little bit. There wasn’t a hint. This has NEVER happened. And as I embarked on my 1+ hour drive home after a fabulous dinner I had a realization. I am ok. In fact, I am better than ok.

You see the thing is, adoption was never a plan B for us. It was always part of our plan A. Regardless of biological children or not. It was always something we wanted to do. Something we hoped for our family. To be honest, I can’t pinpoint something exactly that caused this shift to happen. It’s something that has definitely happened over time. But how did I go from leaving Target in tears because it felt like everyone was pregnant to not even noticing? I think one of the things I’ve really realized maybe as I have gotten older is that everyone’s stories are different. Everyone’s experience is different. Families are different. Some are built biologically. Some are built through adoption. Some through marriage. Some through foster care. And the thing is, it doesn’t matter. They are all beautiful. At the end of the day, a family is a family is a family. Luca is our daughter. And as our daughter sits across the table from me slurping oatmeal and singing “You are My Sunshine” I know that things have worked out exactly the way they were meant to. This was always the plan for our family.

I’ve realized that in this season of life, those desires to grow a child inside me are gone. It doesn’t mean that they may not come back some day. And that’s ok too. But I am ok. When I think about growing our family now, there isn’t a little voice in the back of my head saying “I wonder if we should do IVF”. That voice is so loudly and clearly saying “I cannot wait for us to adopt again”. I believe in this beautiful story for our family. And hopefully someday soon we will get to add to it again.

PS:  I have gained SO MANY beautiful, wonderful friendships through this world of adoption. And Luca has made so many little buddies. We have been so blessed to have so many people walk alongside us in the journey and we have loved walking beside other families as they bring their babies home. One of those mamas just happens to be on her way to meet their baby girl RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND. They have had a long journey to grow their family and just found out yesterday afternoon they were matched with a baby girl who had already been born. They are a little short of the funds they need to bring their sweet girl home. Prayers are so greatly appreciated as they go from a family of 3 to 4 today and if you are able please head over to their YouCaring page to help them meet that final goal!


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Kindred + Co is a brave adoption community. Sharing stories of beauty and brokenness, hope and redemption as we walk through life together.


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