Recently a friend gave me a spiritual nudge by reminding me that everyone is made in the Image of God…everyone carries His greatness.
That sat heavy in my gut.
Everyone carries His greatness….we reflect Holy.
It’s interesting how a nudge like that, when taken to heart, gives one a clear lens to peer through…not just for the situation at hand, but for all encounters.
It’s with that lens that I have chosen to look at Carlisle, OH teen Brooke Skyler Richardson. Richardson is accused of killing her newborn baby, burning it, and burying in her backyard just days after she birthed it.
The social media conversation surrounding this case is ugly…the blame game, the name calling, the suggested punishment. There is no doubt this criminal act is horrifying, sickening, tragic…etc.
Consequences will follow all of her days.
But aren’t we all asking, “why” and wondering, “what if?”
County Prosecutor David Forshell has declined to speculate on motive but said, “it was a perception issue and the teen’s mother was concerned about appearances.”
Shame is an enemy of the soul. It carries nothing Holy and only reflects the depths of hell.
I’m not interested in placing blame on Richardson’s parents. What needs to be recognized here is that we have a culture that is still not recognizing that every child, regardless of the situation surrounding them, should be and deserves their arrival to be anticipated with joy and excitement.
Somewhere Richardson became victim to the lie that this child wasn’t a blessing. And the consequences of the decisions she made because she believed that lie are dire. Her life, and her parent’s lives, are forever changed.
And a child is gone.
Paul says in Ephesians that “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
A spiritual battle where darkness prevailed.
Shame and Secrecy cannot continue to be part of the equation when we are dealing with an untimely pregnancy.
Where there is LIFE, there is God. There is purpose. There is destiny.
I wonder what Richardson’s days and weeks were like leading up to her giving birth. It sounds like people knew she was expecting, and she was seeing a doctor.
But…was there a baby shower? Had she decorated a nursery? Had she chosen a name? Did she openly celebrate feeling her baby move in her womb? Did she hear the sounds of her baby’s heart on a doppler? Did she carry around ultrasound pictures sharing them with friends and family? Did she read up on epidurals, natural delivery, breastfeeding? Who reached out to her? Doctors? School counselors? Coaches? Teachers? Friends?
Was anyone anticipating this baby with joy?
Had anyone reminded Richardson that this child was created in the image of God?
But somewhere, shame won. And secrecy invaded. Shame and secrecy are dancing buddies. They Tango in the dark.
That’s where we are left. What if?
What if TRUTH had had a chance to permeate her heart and renew her mind. Maybe she would have parented. Maybe she would have made an adoption plan.
I wish I had had the opportunity to sit with her over a cup of coffee. To dream with her, to laugh and cry with her. To sit and listen.
If you are experiencing an untimely pregnancy or in a crisis parenting situation please text or call us anytime at 937-471- 2954.
We will listen.
Choosing an Adoption Agency as a prospective Adoptive Parent is often an overwhelming decision for families. Adoption is complicated. It’s important that you are comfortable with and have confidence in the agency you choose.
Here are 10 questions we suggest you ask when interviewing (yes, interviewing) potential agencies you might use.
1. What is your application process and cost?
Adoption is expensive. Plan on it costing quite a bit of money. The average cost of domestic infant adoption is around $40,000. Our costs are about 1/3 that cost. The Application Fee’s often tell a bigger picture regarding the agency as a whole. Application fee’s less than $500 should be considered completely acceptable. Anything over $500 should cause you to ask a few more questions.
Bottom Line: Do not commit several thousand dollars to one agency without having a solid match of a baby due shortly or a baby in hand. There is NEVER a guarantee of bringing home a baby in the adoption world…even if you have written a hefty check.
2. Can I have a copy of my home study?
This is a simple question that should garner a simple answer.
Bottom Line: The answer should be “yes.” It’s your home study, about you, paid for by you. You are entitled to a copy.
3. What is the best way to communicate with you?
This might seem like an odd question, but it will give you insight to the relational level of the agency.
Bottom Line: An agency should have at least two readily available forms of communication, Likely phone and email. Choosing Hope also does a lot of texting with our adoptive families and we make sure our families have access to both our office staff and their Licensed Adoption Assessor. Questions in the adoption journey should be encouraged!
4. At what stage of the pregnancy do you match adoptive parents with expecting parents?
The first priority of an adoption agency should always be to exhaust every possibility of an expecting parent parenting. This takes time. It is so important that expecting parents have seen their baby on an ultrasound, felt the baby move, and really experienced their pregnancy before making an adoption plan and engaging with perspective adoptive parents.
Bottom Line: Matching any time before 20 weeks doesn’t allow expecting parents the proper time to “get to know” their baby before making an adoption plan. We tend to wait until closer to 30 weeks to match.
5. How do you disperse birthmom expenses?
Birthmom expenses are always a bit tricky and can feel yucky…and even be coercive when handled in an unethical manner. But we also recognize that they offer an opportunity to build a relationship with parents and help alleviate financial crisis. In Ohio there is a $3000 cap on the amount of expenses an agency can help an expectant or birthmom with. These monies are intended for living expenses…rent, utilities, groceries, insurance payment, etc. In Ohio, we are obligated by Ohio Rule to inform expecting and birth parent that these funds are available to them.
Bottom Line: These expenses should be paid directly to the billing entity whenever possible (this is laid out in the Ohio Code). Checks should not be cut directly to expectant and birth parents…these parents should not feel like they are being bought. If an agency routinely hands expectant and birth parents a check for cash look elsewhere.
6. How do you care for expectant and birth parents before and after placement?
Here is where the rubber meets the road. While some birth parents will not desire additional counsel, guidance, and relationship, most will. It is important that adoption agencies approach to expectant and birth parent care is relational and not transactional. Professional counseling, outside the agency, should be offered. Prior to placement every opportunity to exhaust parenting should be a priority.
Bottom Line: An agencies approach should be long term, life giving relational care. At Choosing Hope we desire to see each of our clients we serve come to a place where they are flourishing in life and hope and joy are a regular part of their life. It often takes years to come to this point.
7. Once our home study is approved can we share it with other agencies?
This answer should be a quick “yes.”
Bottom Line: The more agencies you are able to work with the more likely you are to be placed with a baby. At Choosing Hope we will be cheerleaders, advocates, and prayer warriors for our adoptive parents no matter where they adopt from.
8. Are you familiar with the Adoption Subsidy Process?
Adoption Subsidy comes into play when adopting a child with special needs. It’s really important that this answer is either a “yes,” or “we are willing to work hard to learn the process.”
Bottom Line: Adoption subsidy is complicated and takes time. Because of the nature of adoption, we see a lot of children placed who have special needs. It is really important that any agency you work with is knowledgeable of the adoption subsidy application process. If they are unwilling to learn or don’t think it is worth the time to apply then find a different agency. You need your agency to be an advocate for you in this arena. Often times the adoption subsidy application process takes many, many hours of work. You should anticipate paying for these services. Choosing Hope offers 10 hours of subsidy work in the placement fee. After 10 hours the adoptive family is billed an hourly rate.
9. What is your fee schedule and how much of my money is at risk?
This is often the first question we hear, and that is understandable. Fee’s in the adoption world are complicated and there is a wide range of costs from one agency to the next. An agency should be very forthcoming with their fee schedule and open to a myriad of questions regarding it.
Bottom Line: Private Domestic Infant Adoption is expensive. It is a major legal undertaking that requires a ton of work and resources. Ask questions about cost. Find out how much of your money is at risk should a match fall through when a birth parents decides to parent. Ask is there is an upfront fee to being part of an agency’s “matching program.”
10. Lastly….the question we know you will ask. “How long will our wait be?”
Well, this question is nearly impossible to answer. We can give averages. We can tell you we’ve had families wait just a couple days, and we have had families wait more than 2 years. There are many things that may play into how long you wait. Are you open to both genders, all races, any special needs, drug and alcohol exposure, an older child, no known father? The more you are open to the more often your profile will be shown to expectant and birth parents.
But, your wait really comes down to what a birth parent desires in a family for their child. Maybe they want a family that already has kids, or a family with no kids. You might be chosen because you live on a farm, Like football, or like the same restaurant.
Bottom Line: It is impossible for an agency to determine how long your wait will be. The waiting period is stretching. A time to press into the Lord, be patient, and trust that The One who put the stars in the sky is writing a story for your family in His timing.
I wonder if we call adoption beautiful too soon.
In the week following Easter I found myself parked in the Easter story…reading over again and again the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus. As the week went by, I meditated on what it would have been like to be Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
What must it have been like for her? The crucifixion…what must it have been like when Jesus, her son, hanging from the cross, spoke to her “Woman, behold, your son.” And in the next breath gave His disciple the role of caring for her when he was gone. (John 19:26-27)
He knew she would be grief stricken. He knew her care could not be left unspoken for. He knew she needed to belong.
On Good Friday, we remember the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross…we think, pray, ponder, and meditate on the crucifixion. The crucifixion of Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice done out of love, but the horror of the act and death…well, breathtakingly awful.
I don’t think we would ever call the crucifixion itself beautiful.
Done for the love of others, yes.
Breath taking, yes.
On “Good” Friday, we often leave a solemn church service quietly. We interestingly call it “good”, but only because we know the resurrection is coming…I’m quite certain when Jesus was hanging from the cross Mary didn’t look back and say “It’s a Good Friday.” Rather, she mourned. A lot of people mourned.
From Friday through Sunday, we prepare to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. We prepare for Glory. We prepare because we know. We know Jesus rose from the dead. We know death was defeated. We know Mary will one day be reunited with her son. We’ve experienced His presence, of the Holy Spirit, because of the cross; we know Sunday is coming.
We know the crucifixion had to happen for the beauty of the cross.
And in that lies our HOPE that every adoption tells a beautiful story. One of sacrifice by a mom and a dad, for the sake of a life they love. Hope remains.
But…with adoption it takes time for the beauty of the story to unfold. Knowing what we know now about the grief that every birth parent and adoptee endures, I think we can tend to call adoption beautiful too soon.
It’s easy to watch a new adoptive couple walk from the hospital with a new baby and praise the child’s birth parents for the selfless gift, and call it beautiful. And it might be. And hopefully, it will be.
But the reality is we don’t know…yet. We hope, because hope was chosen. Yet in those moments, Mary is still standing at the foot of the cross.
It is because of this brokenness that Choosing Hope Adoptions is committed to the long-term care of all involved in the adoption triad; The birth parents, the adoptive parents, and the child. It is in this care where we hope the beauty of adoption unfolds.