FOR MOST RECENT UPDATE SCROLL DOWN: AT THE BOTTOM ON MOBILE DEVICES
When we first began the adventure of growing our family, we couldn’t have guessed how our story would unfold. After a long and challenging season of infertility, we felt that God was leading us to grow our family through adoption. After a year and a half of paperwork, meetings, and lots of waiting, we finally brought home Eden. This last season has been one of many significant transitions, but now that we are settling into new family rhythms, we feel again the Lord leading us to take next steps.
We covet your prayers as we begin this journey again. The adoption process, while exciting, is also exhausting. It is never easy to step out into the unknown, but we are eager to see how God will reveal his plan each step of the way. We long to have a family of friends walk with us through this next season and hope that you will consider being a part of it through prayer and or financial support.
While we do our home study and wait to be matched with a child, we are hoping to raise money to help ease the large costs associated with adopting. We ask that you might prayerfully consider financially supporting us. Our final goal may change over time as we get a more accurate sense of the cost for our given situation. The large number can be overwhelming but we want you to know that even $5 can help! You can give one of two ways. If you would rather just give a small donation via Venmo, you can send it to @NikkiDunham-14. If you would like your donation to be tax deductible, we have set up this crowdfunding page through AdoptTogether that will send you a receipt and allows you to claim it as a charitable contribution on your taxes.
Thank you for considering investing in our family's story through whatever means you feel led or comfortable. We are grateful for each of you. We are eager to see the ways God is going to continue to write the story of our family and are excited to be able to share the story with you as it unfolds.
With much love,
Seth, Nikki and Eden
We are officially an active waiting family! It feels like a huge milestone and something worth celebrating! We are so grateful to all of you who have supported us in prayer, financially, and with childcare to help us get to this point. These last two weeks we have also had more financial gifts come in and received a grant. A few amazing friends have also come together to throw us a fundraiser dinner to hopefully get close to our initial goal (More details below for those of you who live in the area). It is always a privilege to see how God works in this process! We feel so blessed to have such a wonderful community of people to support us in this way. We really couldn’t do it without you.
As I have felt the anticipation and excitement build in these last couple of weeks, I have also felt a weight settling in my heart. You may be sick of us talking about this tension, but it’s simply a part of adoption and if I were to be frank, too often overlooked. Because as we sit here celebrating, somewhere out there a young woman is finding out that her world has been flipped upside down and she will have to face the most difficult decision of her life. A young woman whose name we may never know and yet will become inextricably a part of our family forever. A woman whose courageous and sacrificial love will mean the world to us. We ask that you join us in prayer for this woman. Whatever her story, we pray that the Lord will meet her providing the hope and peace that we know only he can. Pray for protection and that the Lord would place the right people around her to provide the support and encouragement she needs in this difficult season.
We are frequently asked, what’s the next step? The next step is to be chosen by a birth mom. We have created a profile book that will be shown to birth parents among the books of other adoptive families. We will not be notified when the agency is showing our book unless a particular situation needs to be discussed before showing the book. We will only be told when birth mom has picked us. This can take a while and often is a long stretch of silence. A typical match happens weeks to a couple months ahead of the due date. Occasionally they will have birth moms who arrive at the hospital to give birth without a plan. If this is the case, it could be a quick turnaround! It is also not uncommon to have a match or two fall through before the baby leaves the hospital. If that happens, we are then placed back in the pool of waiting families. We really have no idea how long or short this season will be. We covet your prayers in the Lord preparing our hearts and minds for whatever this next part of the journey will look like.
Lastly, as I mentioned, we have some wonderful friends who are generously throwing us a fundraiser dinner! For any of you in the area, we would love for you to bring family and friends to join us for food, kids' activities, a silent auction, and Q&A with us on October 15th from 4-6pm at The Ivy + Rose Warehouse (22 14 ½ St N, Fargo).
Eden recently had her 5th birthday! It's hard to believe that she is already going to be entering kindergarten! We had a wonderful time celebrating with friends and family. But amid all the balloons, cake, popcorn, and Spidey themed decorations, I found an ache in my heart that seems to settle there each year. It's an ache that tethers me to the ache that is undoubtedly in Eden's birth mom's heart this time each year. There were significant people in her life missing from the celebrations. Maybe they always will be. So, as we celebrated the special day, we also remembered those missing around our table. Adoption is complex. We are complex beings. We are capable of feeling the highest of highs and the lowest of lows all in the same moment. As an adult adoptee I follow puts it, "goodness and grief can live in the same space." It's a truth, like many of you who have experienced significant loss, that we have come to embrace.
As we get closer to the being on an active waitlist, Eden grows continually more excited about her future sibling. We asked her, “what would you want people to know?” Here is what she said…
“Thank you for helping us adopt a baby. I am excited to meet my sister or brother and to play with them too!!! And to change the stinky diapers. Thank you for your support! We are so thankful that you are helping us!!! I can’t wait to have another kid in the family.”
We are all excited for what is ahead but if we are honest, the last few weeks have been a bit emotional and exhausting with a couple unexpected curveballs.
So where are we at in the process? After multiple delays during the home study that were out of our control and a few hiccups with background checks (like my middle name getting misspelled in their system), our home study has been finalized and approved by our agency in Georgia. We had hoped this to be a much more exciting post as we felt that we were close to being active. But in full transparency, this has been a tough week. After all we have done to continue learning about adoption simply as our lifestyle, none of it can count towards out official training with this agency. They have given us a significant amount more training that will be required before we can become active. Once we do the training and create our profile book, we will be ready to become active!
Where do we stand with fundraising? To enter the active pool of waiting adoptive families, we need to be sure that we are financially able to cover the remaining adoption expenses. These fees cover legal expenses, court fees, background checks, social workers, counseling, medical, and living expenses for birth parents, and training for adoptive parents. Most domestic adoptions now total between $50,000-$70,000. Our hope was to raise about $40,000 between crowdfunding and grants. We are close to about half our goal and are hoping to raise another $20,000 in the next few months. As we have looked into grants, we have found that many are specific to adopting children with special needs or internationally, which is not what we feel called to in this season. If we were to be honest, it’s been a bit discouraging to find so few grants we are even eligible for consideration. On top of that, we also heard this week from our agency that they are increasing their fees another $12,500. They say that it is due to everything increasing in cost with inflation, but it feels unfair to be already committed and so far in the process to then be told this. This increase will take effect 1 year from when we signed our original fee agreement meaning that if we are matched prior to March 24th we will pay our current rate. Everything right now feels daunting and ambitious, but we have been amazed by God’s provision in the past and trust that in one way or another we will be able to make it happen.
How can you help? We know numbers that big may also feel like they are too big for a small gift to make a difference. But we want to encourage anyone who feels led to give even a small amount to do so. Truly, any amount will help us reach our goal. If you prefer Venmo, my account is @NikkiDunham-14 and just put adoption in the subject line. If you would like the donation to be tax deductible you will have to give via this fundraising page.
Be sure to give to our specific page and not the Adopt Together organization, unless you’d prefer to support them. ;) I know many of you may want to follow along and receive our updates, but not all of you are on facebook where I usually post them. So, if you would like an email update, please just let me know and I will create an email list for those of you that want to be sure not to miss our future updates. To the many of you who have already given towards the adoption, thank you!
How can you pray? As we continue to move forward in this process, there are a few things we would love specific prayer over:
• That the Lord would prepare our hearts and Eden’s for what the ups and downs of the rest of this journey.
• That the Lord would be shaping us as a family to be ready to bring another little one into our home and all the challenges that will bring.
• That the Lord would be near whoever the birth parents are and protecting them and placing people in their lives to support and encourage them on this difficult journey.
• For funding to come in by whatever means, so that we feel like we can be in a financially good place when welcoming a new child into our family.
• For focused time to be able to apply for grants, finish required training, and create our profile book.
Thank you all! You have encouraged and supported our family over the years, some from a distance and some very closely in our daily lives. There are many unseen layers to adoption. Choosing to adopt is choosing to hold feelings of grief in tension with joy. There is an added layer of complexity to parenting through adoption, that somedays can feel overwhelming. We are so grateful to have such a wonderful “village” around us that seeks to learn, understand, and encourage us on this journey.
While we are all going a little crazy with this long winter and fresh dumping of snow, we are excited to announce that we are officially done with our home study! After finishing our paperwork in August, it was a long Fall of waiting filled with many difficult life events happening both personally, in our church, as well as significant staff turnover at our adoption agency. But we are so thankful to feel like we’re moving forward. (Seth’s not getting any younger! His own words!)
While we are waiting on everything to be processed (which could take up to 2 months) we have had our initial application with an out-of-state agency approved and are beginning the next part of the process with them. It sounds like this will require a trip to Atlanta for an in-person training in April (which is already an incredibly busy month so pray for God’s timing). We are hoping that everything else will be processed and ready to go so that shortly after the training we will be able to be on an active waitlist. While much longer than we anticipated, or hoped frankly, we continue to trust God’s timing for our family – both present and future.
One thing we have learned as we get further into the process and started working with the out-of-state agency is that just like everything else, adoption expenses have increased significantly across the board. Our total fees to process and complete an adoption will likely be close to $50,000 between two agencies. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and discouraged but we also are seeing it as an opportunity for God to show up in some miraculous ways.
Prior to adopting Eden, it was hard to imagine what life would look like for our family. But now that we have Eden, it’s like we can picture a little baby brother or sister playing with her. We cannot wait to see who God will bring into our family and be able to share that story with you! As we move closer to that day with hope, we will need incredible amounts of help through prayer and support – which are priceless. But for some of you we hope that you will consider sharing in this journey with us financially. You can do this in one of two ways: if you do not care about the donation being tax deductible, you can give to us via Venmo (@NikkiDunham-14), or you can give as a tax-deductible donation here on our Adopt Together Fundraiser. Donations do not need to be big! Small gifts help. Any amount you feel you can give is deeply appreciated.
Have you ever wondered why adoption is so expensive? Because we have! Honestly, the answer is complex, but it’s also enlightening. Agencies operate as nonprofits but still need to be able to pay for a building, employees, social workers, and pregnancy counselors. On top of that, there is a lot of legal paperwork and hearings that are not inexpensive. Lastly, some of the expenses go towards caring for the birth moms who are choosing to bring the little life into the world. Agencies offer counseling services, medical financial assistance, and help meet the physical needs of these courageous women, for which we are both so incredibly grateful.
On a personal note, something else we’ve realized is how easy and common it is to talk about the beautiful gift that adoption is, almost like it comes in a tidy perfect package. Adoption has opened us to a whole new world of grief that we knew little to nothing about. Whether adopted as an old child or an infant, every person affected by an adoption carries a level of grief. We’ve come to see that despite the incredible sacrifice of a birth parent (or parents), their own trauma and grief can be easily overlooked. Even when not missed, it can be undervalued when it comes to seeing the adoption story in its entirety. Like any story of redemption, we must learn to hold the tension of carrying joy and grief simultaneously. The beauty of God’s hand in creating something beautiful out of ashes doesn’t lessen the pain of the fire or take away the scars. We pray that as the church, we would learn what it means to love well. To listen and hold the pain of people’s stories tenderly, without casting shame, and not ignoring the grief.
Lastly, as we enter the phase of being home study approved, we pray that we would have great discernment about where God is leading. It’s a strange phase as situations arise and you have to say yes or no. Every kid needs a home, but we have to act within our means and what we feel equipped to handle as a family and what God is specifically calling us towards. This is the stage where things can go slow or happen super quick at any point. So as we come to mind, please pray for patience in the waiting and wisdom, clarity, and trust as we face decisions for our family. Thank you for walking along side of us and supporting us through prayer, childcare, finances and all the encouragement! We are so grateful for the village God has gifted to us.