Autism Advocacy: Fight the Good Fight for Them!

 

In March 2017 my husband, daughter and I welcomed our son/brother into our family through international adoption. Anthony and I were beyond grateful for Nightlight Christian Adoptions, our home study agency and our adoption agency, MLJ Adoptions International Inc. requiring so much education prior to traveling that gave us the tools to begin the attachment process and to help Jonathan journey down the path of healing and connection. As we settled in at home, we knew to best help Jonathan we needed further education and took a TBRI Caregiver course that gave us invaluable information and went in depth on explaining trauma and how it affects connection. We did several in home sessions with Amie Cooper, the Flourishing Families TBRI Practitioner, which took all that we had learned and really tailored it to Jonathan and our family. We saw improvements with each session.

After a year of sifting through behaviors and recognizing some that were outside of the trauma realms, we decided to have Jonathan evaluated by a psychologist. His behaviors did in fact fall on the autism spectrum. For us nothing changed by having this diagnosis but for Jonathan this meant that the world would have a better understanding on how to help him. Doors opened for Jonathan for therapies that he so desperately needed. The public school system was able to meet Jonathan where he was and give him assistance he needed.

God has truly put a dream team together that supports him in every aspect, they genuinely care for him as a whole person and us. Now don’t get me wrong, it did take some time to find the right people but you are your child’s greatest advocate in every area! Fight the good fight for them. The best advice I could give a parent would be, don’t settle and trust your instincts because this can be portrayed as an invisible disability.

Because Jonathan sees the world differently, he has taught me to slow down, to look at the details. And I have learned more about dinosaurs and the human body than I ever knew! He really likes dinosaurs and learning how things work. When I look in his eyes, I see a child that is smart, brave and strong. I am so proud of Jonathan and all that he has accomplished. With his schedule full of therapies, he works harder than most kids his age. The first time I saw him draw a flower it brought tears to my eyes, to me it wasn’t just a flower, I saw all the hours his resource teacher, OT and so many more has poured onto him helping him. How do you say thank you to those people? The people that are helping our son manage his world around him, to learn skills that for most take for granted.

We truly believe being able to have the strong foundation established at the beginning through TBRI practices along with the help of Flourishing Families, we were able to enter into the second year advocating for Jonathan successfully as we continued to connect and grow as a family. Jonathan has already touched so many people in his life I know God has big plans for him and am humbled to be able to be his mom and to see God work in his life.

If you are a foster or adoptive family in the State of South Carolina, be sure to check out Flourishing Families and the services they provide at https://www.flourishingfamiliessc.org/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~Anthony and Jennifer G.

Always Hope

 

In our years of waiting to build our family, we would often lose hope that it would ever happen. We would question if the word hope even existed. And when we started seeing others build their family, we would often feel defeated and hopeless in our journey.

While we were waiting, I went on a missions trip with our church. At the end of each day, we were asked where we saw God working in our daily task. We knew the question was coming so we began to look for God working throughout the day. Our answers varied—sometimes we saw God working in a conversation with a person, sometimes it was through a kind act, or sometimes it was God creating something sacred in us individually. It became the start of something new for me–to look for God in the daily. He’s already there….but when you look for God..you see God clearer and you don’t miss a moment. You have a perspective change.

I began to write down where I saw God in the daily moments and interactions. He was in the little notes left by my husband, He was in the conversations I had with friends, and He was often found in my workplace…a homeless shelter. He was reaching me in ways I never noticed before. He was in moving in my daily and creating beauty all around me….and I finally began to see it.

As I began to see Him more clearly, I quickly saw where He was leading me. He was leading me back to hope. Step by step..….He knitted our story together. He knew our future child and her birthparents…..He already knew how our story would unfold. Seeing God and being thankful in God for what he has done, grew my confidence of what he’ll continue to do, both in the daily and in the bigger moments. This ultimately rekindled my hope. We seek Him. We thank Him. We build our hope in Him.

You have to create your own hope…and hope for me came from creating a thanksgiving spirit. When you become thankful…you become hopeful. Always. And being hopeful will completely change your perspective of the adoption process. We have to protect our view of the process, because adoption is the most beautiful adventure this mama has ever experienced. Always Hope.

Ellen and Tim Van Treuren: An Embryo Adoption Journey

One of the best ways to learn about the embryo adoption journey is to hear about the experiences of someone who has taken this approach to overcoming their infertility challenges. Ellen and Tim Van Treuren are one couple that decided embryo adoption was the right path for them to start the family they had dreamed of. And, as a wonderful gift to other couples who are considering embryo adoption, they chronicled their journey in a series of videos.

The Van Treurens begin with their introduction to Nightlight Christian Adoptions and the Embryo Adoption Program, and their homestudy experience. Ellen and Tim describe the incredible opportunity that embryo adoption provides to couples struggling with infertility, but also the challenges they faced. They share their experience with the matching consultation, getting matched and submitting adoption contracts.

They also recorded a video breaking down the shipping process. In another, Ellen and Tim provide details on the pre-transfer process they went through to prepare for their first transfer attempt, and then a post-transfer update. They go on to share their heartache after a failed first transfer, but then show determination leading up to the pre-transfer process for their second attempt. Finally, they give viewers the exciting news of a successful transfer, Ellen’s pregnancy and the impending birth of their baby boy!

The Van Treurens also answer the most frequently asked questions from people who have viewed their recordings or heard about their embryo adoption journey in an FAQ video.

Learn more about Nightlight Christian Adoptions and the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption and Donation Program by watching these interesting and informative videos and by visiting our website at www.Snowflakes.org.

What is Secondary Infertility?

 

 

Last Wednesday, social media was flooded with photos of siblings—it was National Siblings Day! Some of you may frequently remember your brothers and sisters with fondness and great memories. Others may be reflecting on the colossal efforts you have made to have civil relationships with each other.

Siblings Day is a day of celebration, but it is also a day to acknowledge that not everyone has an easy time getting to a baby, let alone a sibling for their child!

Infertility does not exclusively occur with couples who are trying to start a family for the first time. Some are still facing infertility, even after they have brought a child into their home. They may desperately wish to give their child a sibling but it ends up being more difficult than they realized. This is called secondary infertility. According to the Mayo Clinic, secondary infertility is the inability to successfully achieve pregnancy or carry a baby to term after previously having a child.

Secondary infertility can come as a shock to many couples. And there are several emotions that come with the diagnoses: grief, guilt, shame, and even depression. However, through embryo adoption, a couple can still have hope to successfully expand their family.

Celebrating National Siblings Day does not look the same for every family. Siblings are more than just blood and DNA. There is no right way to grow your family—just look through some social media posts to see the countless unique ways families’ across the country celebrate their siblings. If you want more information on growing your family in a unique way, visit Snowflakes.org to learn more.

Adoption from a Sibling’s Perspective

 

My brother came home on my 5th birthday! He was the best birthday present! Admittedly, I was a bit disappointed he was too little to play school, play dolls or go to the park. He had a beautiful smile and I didn’t mind even when he cried or needed a diaper change. He was ‘my’ baby brother! My sister was born almost 2 years later. Although she and I look very much alike and share the same genetic make up, my brother is just as much my sibling! I loved having younger siblings most of the time. However when doing something embarrassing, like playing with their food at a restaurant or acting annoying, I would ask my parent ‘what they were thinking, having more children?’ It never really occurred to me that there was any difference in my siblings. Either they were annoying or cute, sometimes together and sometimes separately. But, I never questioned our relationship. As adults, we don’t always agree on issues, but we love one another and stand up for one another.

Our children are not all biologically related, yet they are siblings. They all share us as parents. At times like me, they have ups and downs with their siblings. Alliances and arguments occur between siblings just as they do between political entities. When our girls were little, I once heard them arguing and was heading towards their room to intervene, when I heard one of them say, ‘We need to fix this fast or Mama will come in and make us talk!’ I turned around to let them resolve their differences. There can be rivalry between siblings if they are close in age, are jealous of a family relationship or just because they are siblings. Just as I had to get used to having 2 siblings, so my children have adjusted to our successive adoptions and new siblings added to our family.

It is important to plan and recognize that adoption affects all members of the family. Home grown children will have to adjust to the new adoptee just as the new adoptee will have to get used to and develop a relationship with all family members. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle, where you have to figure out where each person fits in your family, just as you determine where each piece of the puzzle fits. Adjustment and acceptance takes time, effort and a commitment to love and family. It does not happen right away, but with time, shared experiences and a lot of patience and encouragement.

 

Below are some some articles about siblings and adoption. I hope you find them helpful!

 

Articles:

The Influence of Adoption on Sibling Relationships – British Journal of Social Work Vol 47, issue 6.

https://academic.oup.com/bjsw/article/47/6/1781/4554334

Rivalry with an Adopted Sibling – Regina Kupecky, Adoptive Families journal

https://www.adoptivefamilies.com/adoption-bonding-home/rivalry-with-newly-adopted-sibling-older-child/

The Sibling Connection – Lois Molina, Adoptive Families journal

https://www.adoptivefamilies.com/parenting/sibling-relationships-biological-or-not/

Welcoming a New Brother or Sister Through Adoption  by Aleta James 

 

Some good children’s books on adoption and sibling relationships:

‘A New Barker in the House’ by Tomie dePaula

Bringing Asha Home by Uma Krishnaswami

 

Understanding the Adoption Tax Credit

 

Has anyone you’ve ever known (perhaps even you) had a deep and sincere desire to grow their family through adoption, but its price tag was so overwhelming and discouraging that they concluded there is no way I could EVER afford to adopt?

And if that’s you, I truly understand.  Unfortunately, adoption is expensive and many of us do not have unlimited funds to be able to afford adoption. But before you decide that adoption isn’t an option because of the price, I implore you to educate yourself on the financial resources available to adoptive families, especially the Adoption Tax Credit. The Adoption Tax Credit can help families reduce their federal tax liability and greatly offset the costs of the adoptive process. For adoptions finalized in 2018, the adoption tax credit is up to $13,810 per child.

There is a lot of information on the web about the Adoption Tax Credit. Below are a few creditable resources that I want to share with you. It’s a spring board to your understanding of the tax credit.…And now for the mandatory legal disclaimer.…I’m in no way, shape or form, a tax professional nor am I endorsing any of the links. Please consult your tax professional for how you can receive the maximum benefits from the Adoption Tax Credit….and now, on with the show.

 

Here are a few online informative articles about the 2018 Adoption Tax Credit:

  • North American Counsel on Adoptable Children (NACAC): Adoption Tax Credit 2018:

https://www.nacac.org/help/adoption-tax-credit/adoption-tax-credit-2018/

  • Considering Adoption: How to Claim the 2018 Tax Credit:

https://consideringadoption.com/general/2018-adoption-tax-credit

  • The IRS:

https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc607

 

 

Here are two YouTube videos that I found informative:

  • Rules for Claiming 2018 Adoption Tax Credit – How Can I Claim the Adoption Tax Credit?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjF9bIbIml8

  • The Adoption Tax Credit // Explained Simple By A Foster Mom

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09L0xJVlG_g

 

 

Please do not let the sticker shock of adoption or your lean financial portfolio be the only reason you do not pursue adoption. Do your research, talk to financial professionals and, if God has etched it onto your heart, never say never!

 

“The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith”– Billy Graham