Friday, January 29, 2016

He Makes Me Brave

It's not fun to be vulnerable.  Sometimes it's needed, but it's not fun. 

I want to type that I've got it together and that things are moving smoothly... and they are to an extent.  But the truth is, things are also hard.

In the last two weeks, we've been presented 8 different situations.  That means 8 birth mothers looking for homes for their future child.  With each situation, we are given quite a bit of background information on the birth family.  After reading the first one, I cried.  It hasn't gotten much easier with each one since. 

I'm reminded that we live in a broken world. 

A world of spouse abuse.  
A world of poverty.  
A world of drug addiction.  
A world of split families.  
A world of imprisonment.  
A world of disease.  

And each of these affect a birth mother, trying to make the best decision with the world she's living in...sacrificing to give best to her baby.  I've read letters from birth mothers wanting to offer their unborn child a "better life" than what they had, but also torn to give their child to another.  Can you imagine the heartache? 

And then there's an unborn child.  A baby. Caught in the middle of the chaos.  A baby that has been dealt an unfair hand before they even take their first breath.

We read over each situation and we pray.  It's hard to know when to present.  If you present, and the birth mother chooses you, then a sum of money is due at match.  This is often half the cost of the total adoption.  When the baby is born, the rest is due.  We've discussed the cost already and I won't go into it all again, but for now...we wait.  We wait on tax returns.  We wait on t-shirt fundraisers.  We wait on grants.  We wait on loans.  We save...and we wait. 

And we pray.  We pray for women we only know by their first name.  We pray for the baby.  We pray God would find the perfect family for that baby whether that's an adoptive family or the birth family.

And sometimes we cry....

We cry because we hurt over the brokenness of the world that I had somehow shielded myself from. 
Or maybe ignored. 
I'm not sure which.

I have days where I feel like we have a peace on the process and a peace in the waiting. 
And days when I hurt and doubt.  I want to be brave.  But I'm not.  I don't know if we can do it.  Can we raise a baby in spite of addiction.  In spite of the possibility of attachment issues.  In spite of transracial challanges.  In spite of brokenness.

And even if we can do all that, can we even get to the starting line?  Can we save/raise/borrow the money needed? Will we even get the opportunity?

I am thankful for a God who cares about me individually.  Who cares when I'm hurting and unsure.  Whose timing is perfect.  Who shared a song I have heard a hundred times, but today it served as the reminder I needed.

You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the love that made a way

You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the promises you made

And that's it. 

Alone I am scared. 
Alone I am doubtful. 
Alone I am inadequate. 
Alone it is impossible.

But with God. With God I am brave.

With God I can go beyond the shore into the waves.
With God...

I am learning that on the harder days, I have to evaluate where I'm looking for help.
Am I looking to myself, husband, family and friends?

Or am I looking to the One...

the only One....

who can make me brave.

 Lyrics from You Make Me Brave by Amanda Cook/Bethel Music

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Cost

I have wanted to write about the financial cost of adoption for a while now because it's worth sharing for those wanting to know.  At the same time, I haven't wanted to because the truth is I find it awkward to share about the "cost" of my future child. 

When we were pregnant with Charlotte and Walker, we would share the exciting news, reveal the gender of the child, announce the arrival date and overload you with pictures once they arrived.  But no where along the way do we share the cost of the hospital bills.  No where along the process of sharing is there ever a dollar bill sign.  And with good insurance, there really wasn't much trouble paying it off.  I don't think many would label it as a "financial burden".


A word no child should have to hear in association with themselves.  Future Brumley #3 will be one of the most amazing blessings into our family.  While this baby may arrive into our lives differently than the first two, in no way will they be anything less of a miracle.  And that's what I want them to grow up knowing.  So by sharing that our adoption will have a significant cost, could we be putting our child at the risk of somehow hearing that in the future and feel that they were a burden to us.  It brings this Momma to tears just thinking about it.

Cody and I have gone round and round trying to decide the best way to move forward.  We legally can adopt now.  We are receiving adoptive situations each week.  But at match and then again after the birth, there's a large amount of money that we need to have a plan to give.  Somewhere between $25,000-$40,000.

We've read books on the best ways to save.  We've stopped eating out.  Our goal is to feed the four of us on $100 a week.  We've significantly changed our spending budget.  We've sold tickets to Thunder games we bought last fall.  I've parted with Rustic Cuff bracelets that I previously bought.  Cody has sold pedals among other guitar parts.  We have a garage sale planned for the spring.  We've signed up for a interest free for a year credit card.  We are anxiously awaiting a hopefully good tax return.  We've applied to grants and adoption free loans.  So when do we take the next step? When do we say yes to being presented?  Do we wait until we have half the expected cost in savings?  Do we say yes now and trust that God will find a way to supply?

We've read books on how to "Adopt Without Debt".
We've read blogs on best ways to fundraise.
We've read blogs on why people chose not to fundraise.
We've read where people sell a car in order to finish an adoption...

Anyone want to give Cody a ride to church for the next year or so????

To be honest, I haven't written about this subject yet because it's overwhelmed me.  I don't know what the "right" thing to do is. Do we share and fundraise? Do we borrow and pay back?  And I'm looking at something that seems impossible to do.  To come up with a lot of money in a short amount of time.  We need a miracle.

You know what I love about God?  There is nothing that is new to Him.  Nothing surprises Him.  And nothing is too big for Him.

Matthew 14:13-21 shares the story of feeding the five thousand.  And that was just men.  With women and children, we know that number was even bigger!

"Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves."

I know what a desolate place feels like.

"But Jesus said, "They need not go away; you give them something to eat."

Yes Jesus. Please.

"They said to him, "we have only five loaves here and two fish."

Jesus this is all I have.  I'll give you all we have.

"And he said, "Bring them here to me."

Here it is Jesus.

Not only did Jesus provide enough, He provided abundantly.

"And they all ate and were satisfied.  And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over."

When Cody and I were talking last week, I shared that this passage came to mind again and again.  If we are being obedient to a calling on our lives, then I must have faith that God will do what only God can do.  And we are already seeing it.  He is multiplying our efforts.

Cody sold a guitar pedal and the young man paid him $5 extra.  "It's for the adoption.  Just do me a favor and name the kid after me."  Another pedal, $10 extra.  "Good luck in the adoption."

I sold a sewing machine and the family paid $20 extra.  "It's for your adoption.  It's not much."

I cried.  No, it was so much more than not much.

This weekend a family member handed us some money.  "This is the first of what we can give. "

And just like that, we realized God was multiplying our efforts just like he multiplied the fish and the loaves.

God this is all I have.  Thank you that you provide abundantly.

We will continue to take things one day at a time.  We have prayed about it and have decided to do a t-shirt fundraiser.  If you like t-shirts, then we would be honored for you to order one.  If it is odd to you that someone would have a fundraiser for something like adopting a child, then that's okay too.  I understand.   But please don't share it with us if you find disdain in our decision, because it's been a tough decision and if I know, I might cry. And that would just be awkward for all of us.

Please pray for us as we move forward.  Pray for our hearts.  Pray for our future baby.  Pray for the birth family of our future baby.  

And thank you for joining us for the journey.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Guest Post by Thor and Kristen Rooks

Foster care. It's something that had always been on my heart. I knew it would always be part of my life but I didn't know how. Thor and I had been married for 3 years when it became an overwhelming calling in my life. I knew I needed to answer that call but Thor didn't exactly feel the same way. I respected that and began figuring out other ways that I could be involved. I applied for a job with DHS to be a caseworker. I got the job and ended up turning it down because I just didn't have peace about it. Thor started to pray more about foster care and God started working in his heart. We had decided that we would become foster parents but that it would make more sense to wait until we were older, wiser and our kids were grown. Again WE were standing in the way of our calling. 

I always tell people if God is calling you to foster care you will know and He won't stop until you answer. There were so many flashing neon signs telling us that the time is now so we finally stopped fighting God. We surrendered our life and followed the plans he had for us. God has orchestrated every step of our fostering journey, which has been reassuring to us that we are following His plans, not ours. There have been some very physically and emotionally hard times during our journey. There have also been times that the sound of laughter in our home is so pure and beautiful that we want to build more bedrooms in our home. The thing about these kids that people don't realize is that they are good kids that have had bad things happen to them. They aren't bad kids. Most of them have been through more in their young lives than many adults. 

Seeing kids grow emotionally, physically, and spiritually in just a few months is beyond amazing. It's a miracle! Jesus told us that the most important thing we can do is love. Showing these kids love means you will fight for them, you will show them you care for them even when they spit in your face (literally), you show them they are family no matter what crazy thing they say to a stranger at the supermarket, and you will tuck them in at night and pray with them and tell them you love them and God loves them no matter what happens in their life. Love is not just words which many of these kids have heard over and over. Love is action which many of these good kids have never seen Love and God has blessed us to take action and show these kids His love for them.  

Many people tell us that we are such a blessing to these kids. I would argue that point, these young kids have shown us toughness, resilience, and that God is alive in us. So I ask you, will you challenge yourself to become uncomfortable? To become emotionally and physically drained? To surrender "your plans" for His plans? While you think about it there are 1,200 Oklahoma kids waiting to have a home. To be loved. Pray often and open heartedly because God does want to use you and he will guide you to where he wants you.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

How long will it take?

Now that you are home study approved, how long will it take?  

It’s hard to answer this question, because there are several factors to take into consideration.  The first is how long it takes to be matched with a birth mother.  In order to broaden our reach, we decided to sign up with an adoption consultant.  The group we are using is called Christian Adoption Consultants.  They offer support at each step of adoption.  We were assigned to Susan and she has been so much help!  I email her multiple times a week.  We ask questions about the matching and placement process, how to best design our family profile books, financial questions concerning grants and loans, ask for explanations about adoption costs, and much more! 

After signing up and asking tons of questions, we were given a list of agencies across the U.S. that our consultant group had worked with before and highly recommended.   This gave us assurance that we could partner with groups who are ethical, care greatly for the birth mothers and families, and are working hard as the go between for birth families and adoptive families.  There were several agencies recommended.  So far, we have applied to three.  Each agency has their own set of guidelines, paperwork and many have an additional fee just to sign up.  We chose to sign up with those who have lower fees or no sign up fees to start.  It’s been a hard step for us because we are working diligently to save money and about the time we feel we are making a dent, there’s something else to pay for just to get started.

So now that we are home study approved, have a consultant and are working with different agencies, we begin to see what the adoptive world calls “situations” presented to us by email.  These situations give us the opportunity to know as much as possible and can include important birth parent information, social and medical issues.  It also gives us the expected cost of the adoption and how much money would be due at the time of match.  We then have the chance to pray over if we would like to be “presented” to the birth family.

One of the beginning steps of our adoption was to create a “profile”.  This is a book that they use to “present” us to the birth family.  This is a way to tell the expectant mother about our family, our thoughts on adoption and our future plans.  It was an interesting process as we sought to give an honest look at our family instead of trying to “sell” our family.  We have prayed over this book, that it would make its way to the hands of an expectant birth mother of our future child and that she would be comforted by it in some way and encouraged as she makes one of the most difficult decisions for her baby.

So, if we choose to be presented, the birth mom is given our profile book along with other adoptive families and she is given several days to choose which family she feels is best for her child.  If she were to pick our family, that is considered a “match”.

While we are already receiving emails of situations, we still have some time before we will be able to present to a family due to the cost due at match.  Sometimes this is half the cost, or if the mother is due any day, it could be up to the full cost of adoption.  I’m so not ready to talk about all that goes into the finances of adoption, although I will try to tackle the subject in other blog soon.  But for now, I will tell you that the average cost is $30,000-$35,000 but can range from $25,000-$40,000. So even if only half the cost is due at match, it is still a significant amount.  But, we will come back to this topic at a later date.

For now, I’d like to share what God is teaching me.  

The story of Abraham and Sarah has come up through my own quiet time and in conversations with others.  I love God's timing in me revisiting this story and I love this verse.

By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance.” Hebrews 11:8

Abraham did not know where he was going when he was called to go, but he went.  

He didn’t know how to get there, but he went.  

Without sight and without a plan.

He went in faith.  

Psalm 127:3 says “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord” and some versions use the word “inheritance” from the Lord.  I can’t help but come back to these verses in my times of doubt. 

My family will walk by faith to follow God’s calling to receive our inheritance….

Baby Brumley #3.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Next Step-Home Study

I don't know if you've heard this before, but there's a lot of paperwork involved in adoption. 

The first taste of this started with our home study.  A home study is the first official step of the adoption journey.  All types of adoption require a home study and can vary a little from one other in requirements and cost.  We went with a recommendation from our friend, Tiffany Castleberry, to use Shay Patterson with Adoption Home Studies of Tulsa.  We were so pleased with Shay and would highly recommend her!  She specializes in pre-placement home studies for domestic adoption and also completes post-placement evaluations.  Home studies are valid for one year, and then there is an updating process if your adoption process takes longer than a year. 

While the requirements vary a little, I wanted to give an idea of what our home study process looked like.  Below is our orientation checklist.

Contract for home study services
Autobiographical write up
OSBI/FBI/CANIS background check
3 Reference letters
Financial Assessment
Physical exams for all people living in the home
Personal interview for all people living in the home
Home Safety Evaluations

We also needed the following documents.

Birth Certificates for all members in the home
Native American Indian Tribe Card (if applicable)
Marriage license
Divorce decree (if applicable)
Death certificates of any previous spouse
Verification of  employment/pay stubs
Verification of Health insurance
Most recent income tax return
Vet vaccination records (if there are pets in the home)
Military service or discharge records (if applicable)
Copy of any previous home stuides, adoption decrees, filed legal documents

As you can see, it was a big step and so rewarding when we were HOME STUDY APPROVED!

It is a needed step.  We saved multiple copies of each document because most adoption loans, grants and adoption agencies have a similar list of requirements just to get started. 

We were blessed to work with Shay and I've listed her web address for anyone who may be needing a home study for a domestic adoption.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Called to Adopt...what's next?

After knowing we were called to adopt, we asked ourselves the logical next question...where do we adopt from?

If you are new to the adoption world, there are three main types to consider.

Foster care adoption
International adoption
Domestic adoption

We were advised by some wiser than ourselves to consider why we wanted to adopt and what it might look like for our family.

Do we want a newborn baby? Toddler? Older child?
Is it important to us that the child have the same skin color?
How much can we afford and are we willing to borrow/fundraise?
Do we want to adopt a sibling group or special medical needs child?
How long are we willing to wait?

At first, we tried to find the "right" answer.  Which type of adoption carried the "greatest" need?  Which type of adoption was "most important"?

Over a period of a few weeks, Cody and I discussed each type of adoption in detail and on any given day, would have given you a different answer as to which adoption we would choose.  I would love to go into the beautiful aspects of each type, but I'm afraid I would do them a disservice.  Maybe on a day when I'm not thinking about bedtime we will revisit each one in more detail.  Or better yet, I could connect you with friends who share a passion for each one.

For now, let me share truths we all know.  Truths that shifted us from trying to find the "right" answer...

Every child is important to God.
Every child is made in His image.
And every child deserves a loving home.

After weeks of praying, thinking and discussing, Cody and I both agreed we had a peace about domestic infant adoption. We felt this was right for us.

I have had the privilege of visiting with other adoptive mommies who have adopted in all three different ways.  It is so exciting to hear of their passion and their why.  It is truly a BEAUTIFUL thing.

Our passion and our why is because without families wanting to adopt newborn babies, there would be women with crisis, possibly unplanned pregnancies who would only have two options-abortion or raising a child when they didn't feel they could.  Instead, we can stand beside these brave and selfless women, and present our family as an option for those moms who choose life.  We get to not just say, but show that their baby is valuable and wanted. 

It's not that our decision of infant domestic adoption is the "right choice", but the right choice is being obedient to God's gentle nudge of our hearts.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Let's Start At The Very Beginning

Thank you for taking the time to read of our adoption journey.  We are excited and blessed to have friends and family who will walk beside us and support us along the way.

I feel that it is only appropriate to share our story, so here it is written from my (Breanna's) perspective...the honest, refining and exciting adoption story.

The heater in the car broke and I knew it meant the Brumleys were called to adopt.  

Too fast?  Okay, that's the short version, but a lot happened leading up to that moment.  Let's start at the very beginning...

At some point during my later teenage years, I began to picture a family of my own.  I had a desire to be married one day and have children.  A part of my desire to have children included a dream to adopt.  I can't think of one specific moment of when I decided this.  It's just always been there.

When Cody and I first started dating, we went to a Steven Curtis Chapman concert.  At this concert Chapman spoke of adoption, and there, on our first date, Cody and I each spoke of our individual desire to adopt.  After we were married, we continued to keep adoption in our plans as part of our story.  I wish I could say that I never looked back to that calling to adopt.  However, after having two biological children, I began to second guess if this was really something we were called to do.

If you know me at all, you know I have a type A personality.  I like to plan and prepare.  So many challenges of adoption made me second guess if I was capable of walking this road.  I sometimes feel ill-equiped with the two that we have.  Could I be a good mommy if there were three?  Could God really be asking me to give up my desire for control on something as important as our family?  Yes.  And as God has convicted me again and again of my little faith, I will say it has been a messy, but beautiful process.

As Cody and I began to talk again of adoption, many doubts and fears filled my mind.  However, my quiet times continually spoke to my doubts.  When I was asking what this faith journey might look like and how long could it take to bring home our child, my quiet time was out of Luke 1 with the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth.  Talk about a family of faith waiting a very long time for the birth of their child!  "And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statues of the Lord."  My prayer changed from "God, give us a quick process" to "Father, help us to live a life of righteousness before you following your commandments."

I had several quiet times out of the book of James during this time.  When doubting my capabilities as a mother, I read, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him."  I prayed, "God, I know I can't do this from my own knowledge or willpower.  Grant me the wisdom needed at each step."  When my thought was "God, aren't we doing enough good things", he reminded me of a scripture that has been important to me for many years.  One that I can't ignore.  James 1:27 says "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."  Now I don't believe that this means God has called us all to adopt, but I know without a doubt that God has called our little family to adopt.

Over a few month process, God gently reminded me of His plan and how it looks different from my own American dreams.  Could I have control over each step of the process?  Absolutely not.  My new answer is found in Proverbs 3:5-6, trusting God to guide our steps and direct our path.  Could I protect my children and my family from any possible hurt in the process?  No.  But a wise friend reminded me that God loves my children and my family more than I do and to count trials as joy.

Remember the broken heater?

My journey took a strong turn from dragging my feet to running towards God and it started with a broken heater in our car.  It was beginning to get colder and I had reminded Cody that we needed to get it fixed to keep our babies warm.  We had both prayed that it would be an easy fix.  After picking up the car with a working heater and relatively cheap bill, I offered up a prayer of thanksgiving.  I thanked God that we were able to fix the car and that I could keep my babies warm.  I heard a very clear voice in my head saying

"Could you keep another baby warm?" 

That was it.  That little phrase made every other lesson along the way take root in my stubborn heart.  God was not asking me to fulfill the world's picture of an American dream.  He was telling me to worry less about raising kids who make good grades in name brand clothing.  It wasn't about taking our next planned Disney vacation or healthy options at every meal.  While these are not bad things, I had to evaluate what I valued most.  I had to choose between my plans and God's plans.  I had to choose what was acceptable for me verses what was obedient to Him.

I don't feel like I can do justice in a few paragraphs of the process God has taken me through to get me to where I am today...all-in, ecstatic, glowing and ready to bring home Baby Brumley #3!  I am so thankful for His love towards a broken sinner like me.  I am thankful for His continued tug at my heart to use me for part of a grander story, when He could have given up on me a long time ago.  Cody and I are are so excited to continue on this journey.  I long to hold our new baby in my arms.  I find comfort knowing God already knows our baby intimately as his word describes in Psalm 139.  God is the Author and Sustainer of my life and the lives of my family.  This process has already changed us forever, and we are only at the beginning.