Adoption Announcement Letter

Adoption LogoTo our friends and family,

If we could, we would take each and every one of you out for coffee to share with you some exciting news in our lives, but alas … that just isn’t possible.  Instead, we’d like to invite you to grab a mug of your favorite hot drink and find a comfy chair, and imagine we are tucked in the corner of some cozy little coffee shop as we invite you to celebrate with us in a new chapter the Lord has opened.

Why, thank you.  Jessica will have a tall dirty chai, and Alex would like a grande caramel latte.  Now where were we?  Oh yes, our exciting news.  The reason we wanted to chat with you is to let you know that we are adopting!

If you have known us long, this probably won’t come as surprising news.  God has placed a desire to adopt on both our hearts since we were kids, so we have been excitedly anticipating when He would open the door to that journey for us.  When we felt the nudge to begin the process, we eagerly began checking out all the options and various paths to adoption – domestic, international, special needs, etc.  We were sure that the best option for us was to seek out a healthy baby boy or girl who needed a home, but as usual, God had other plans.

Even though we tried to resist it at first, God continued to bring to our attention the incredible need for “special needs” adoptions.  In many other countries, children who are classified as “special needs” are often abandoned, neglected, and even left to die, simply for having what is considered to be less-than-ideal health conditions.  Although we weren’t at all confident in our own abilities, we were sure that if God was calling us to parent a special needs child, He would equip us for the journey.  So, we tentatively read through the laundry list of health needs facing children around the world, each one representing countless kids who were likely unwanted simply because of a medical label or inadequate healthcare opportunities.

Almost simultaneously, one line on the list jumped out to us: “Deaf/Hearing Impaired”.  It was if the line was lit up and blinking, and before we could even realize it, the next piece in our adoption puzzle fell into place.  Although we had never considered adopting a deaf child, something about it sounded so … right.  We had both always wanted to learn American Sign Language (ASL), and had both even taken a special interest in it as kids.  After a great deal of prayer, discussion, and research, we became convinced this was the plan God had for us in adoption.

How are you doing?  Coffee still hot and delicious?  Good, because this is where the fun begins!

From there, we threw ourselves into learning everything we could about Deaf culture, the Deaf community, and ASL.  Slowly but surely, our bookshelves filled up, our conversations became signed instead of spoken, and we discovered a love for a culture we had never known – the rich culture and community of the Deaf.  We stepped back into the college scene to take ASL classes at the University of Iowa (don’t worry, Ohio folks – Jess is still a Buckeye!) and began learning about the uniquely rewarding and challenging process of raising a Deaf child – a process we will be working on the rest of our lives.

Alright, now that you are caught up on the “what” and the “why”, let’s talk about the “how”.  We have begun working with an Iowa-based adoption agency who has been wonderful in answering all of our adoption-newbie questions and pointing us in the right direction to begin.  Our process is a little different than most, because our starting point is a particular special need rather than a particular country.  Step One for us was writing a letter about ourselves, which our agency will use to communicate with a handful of countries about children who might be potential good matches for us.  Once we hear back from those countries, we will have a better idea of what is next for us, and hopefully the name of a country and a clearer time-frame to share with you.

What we know right now is that most of the waiting children that will be a good match for us will be in the 4 year-old and younger range, so that is what we are anticipating.  We also know that although the timeline and the process is different for every country, special needs adoptions frequently move at a quicker pace, as the countries are anxious for these particular children to find homes.

However the rest of the process will look for us, there is one thing we can be sure of – adoption is expensive.  We have been blessed with an adoption agency with a huge heart for special needs adoption, who has offered to reduce their agency fees to help families like us bring their children home.  Even with that help, we still have a long ways to go to be able to pay the necessary fees to bring our child home.  We may not know the exact figure until we know the specific country our child is in, but our estimation is that it will be in the ballpark of $30,000.  That is a staggering and intimidating number, but we continually remind ourselves of two things: 1) No number is too big for a plan God has set into motion, and 2) there is no price tag we could put on the life of our child.

We were recently struck with the realization that in all likelihood, our child is already out there in the world somewhere.  He/she has probably already been born, and is probably at this moment sitting in an orphanage without a family and without even the ability to communicate with the world around him/her.  We recently spent the week with our nieces and nephew, and were unable to imagine the thought of them a world away, alone, scared, and without the comfort of a mother, the care of a father, or the unceasing love of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  But at this moment, that is our child’s reality.

As our friends and family, you make up the wonderful world that will one day be our child’s new reality, and we can’t wait for him or her to meet you!  Until that day comes, we humbly ask you to be a part of our child’s life right now, by first being a part of the effort to bring him/her home.  Whether or not you have been touched personally by adoption, we pray you have already been touched by it spiritually.  John 14:18 gives a clear picture of the beautiful narrative of adoption that is woven throughout Scripture, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come for you.”  We have been adopted by a Father who looked past immeasurable costs to bring us into His forever family.  In the same way, we now have the opportunity to extend the same grace to a child in need of his/her own forever family, no matter the cost.

So, how can you help?  Thanks for asking!

There are a number of ways you can be involved in our adoption process.  The easiest way to both give and stay up to date with the process is by checking out our blog www.unspokenadoption.com every so often.  Because you are a part of the community we will be bringing our child home to, it is important for us that you have the opportunity to feel connected to our journey.  We will regularly update our blog regarding each step of our adoption process and with our experiences learning ASL (with hopefully a limited amount of embarrassing second-language blunders!) and our involvement with the Deaf community.  Our blog will also allow you to see how close we are to reaching our financial goal to be able to bring our child home, and inform you of upcoming fundraising events and giving opportunities.  You can give directly by clicking on the PayPal link on the left-hand side of the site.  You can also send checks (please put “Adoption” in the memo line) to us at: 6509 Minden Lane NE   Cedar Rapids, IA 52402.

We are also planning to set up an account with an online coffee company who partners with adoptive families to give proceeds for coffee sales towards covering adoption costs.  If you are coffee drinkers (like we clearly are!), please consider buying your bags of coffee through our account during our adoption process!  You can also visit our Etsy shop “UnspokenAdoption” at www.etsy.com/shop/unspokenadoption for crocheted and other handmade items made by Jessica and her sister, including fashion hats, winter headbands, mittens, and more.  If you are a crafty person and would like to contribute items for the Etsy shop, please let us know!  100% of profits from these fundraisers go towards our adoption.  More information will be available about these and other opportunities on our blog soon!

We would also like to let you know that no financial gift in this process is too big or too small.  Truly every little bit helps, and whether you would like to purchase a $5 bag of coffee or put a check in the mail, you are literally changing our child’s life. Psalm 68:6 says, “God places the lonely in families”, and we would love for you to experience the blessing of being God’s hands and feet in making that verse come true for one lonely child.

Above all, we ask for your prayers and support.  This is a big, daunting, and sometimes overwhelming endeavor, but we know it will make all the difference to the life of the child God has chosen for us.  We are blessed with a community filled with families who have been touched by adoption, and we pray that your involvement in our adoption will touch you as well.

 

Thanks for the coffee date,

Alex & Jessica (Rathburn) Laird

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