Joy Will Come

Author Archives: Crisis Pregnancy Outreach

Joy Will Come

Today’s post is written by Lindsay Pepin Ophus, a CPO birth mother. You can order her book, Joy Will Come: Exchanging Shame for Redemption at scarletpepin.com, Amazon.com, and other fine retailers.

”You’re pregnant” were the words that would forever change my life. I sat there in a small Planned Parenthood exam room in complete shock. I couldn’t hear the lady listing my medical “options” because all I could think about was the fact that my future was over. My Christian parents were going to kill me, I would not get to go to college, and my life would never be the same from a stupid high school decision of having sex.

After the storm of telling my parents I was pregnant, my mom called a friend who was involved with CPO. I attended my first counseling session and first support group just two short weeks after telling my parents. I sat in that circle dazed and confused on how this could be my life, but what I heard in that group was nothing short of hope. CPO was the place where I realized that my life was not over. I also learned more about open adoption, a concept that at the time was so new to me. I felt supported, loved, and accepted at CPO. I can honestly say that Crisis Pregnancy Outreach saved my life.

As my belly was growing with a beautiful baby girl, my heart was slowly breaking into a million pieces, as my head knew the best option for my little girl was adoption. Just when I thought walking through a teen pregnancy was the hardest thing I would ever do, I discovered that it would be much harder to leave the hospital without a baby. The baby that I gave up my childhood for, my public perception, and more importantly, I realized the baby that I already loved so much would never call me mom.

On August 11th, 2012, after a painful night physically and emotionally, Kinley Joy made her entrance into the world. “The sorrow many last for a night, but (Kinley) Joy will come in the morning.” Psalm 30:5. That morning was extremely joyful because I had never been so in love. The next day, Kinley Joy went home with her new family, Her new family just so happened to be my Uncle Jeff and Aunt Bethany. Kinley instantly gained a sister who was only 360 days older.

The year that followed Kinley’s birth was the most difficult year of my life. The pain and loss of a child is unbearable but open adoption tells a different story. On my darkest days, I could leave my college dorm room and go see her and CPO never once stopped supporting me emotionally. Most importantly, Jesus never left my side. When the grief was all consuming, God was consistently  there to wrap me in His arms. He was the only One who truly understood my pain because, after all, He had to give up His baby, too.

God has used my testimony in more ways than I could have ever imagined. I now have a smart, kind, and giddy almost 7-year-old daughter who knows her story and loves her life!

I’ve had the opportunity to share the healing that God can bring at many speaking events. God has since led me to write a book with my mother, Scarlet, and my aunt, Bethany. In our book, Joy Will Come, we tell a story about unexpected pregnancy, adoption, and God’s redemptive love from 3 different points of view. CPO is now using our book for their birth mothers’ and adoptive parents’ reading.


What is an Adoption Home Study?

Today’s post is written by one of CPO’s favorite home study providers, Julie Likens. This is great information for prospective adoptive families, but it’s also good for birth families to know who thoroughly our adoptive families are “vetted.” Julie’s contact info is included below in case you are interested in using her services. 

Having spent years doing adoption home studies for several agencies, attorneys, and many families, I have met a lot of couples that are confused about what an Adoption Home Study is! When embarking on the road of adoption, many couples are just told they have to do it—whatever “it” is. So, what is it? Will someone come in with white gloves on to make sure my house is clean enough? Will the paperwork ever end? What should we expect?

When I have explain an adoption home study to clients, my favorite way to explain it is to say it is a report where we put the couple’s life on paper to give the judge and the courts a peek inside what the family is like. Yes, there is a house assessment where we walk through the house to make sure everything is safe for a child (usually no white gloves required, though!). Yes, there is a mound of paperwork that can feel overwhelming at times. As a home study provider, my whole goal of going into a home is to be the eyes and ears of the courts. I want to make sure the home is safe for a child and one where the adoption is anticipated to be successful. I desire to have open and honest conversations with the couple and family, where I can accurately describe the family on paper. A great thing to remember is that the home study provider is on your side and wants to see you be successful in your adoption journey if at all possible!

Every home study provider may do things a little differently, but each provider will go through several steps with the family. First, there will be a LOT of paperwork! But it can be accomplished! Second, there will be at least two visits with the family for interviews. At least one of these visits will take place in the home, where the home study provider can do a house assessment to ensure safety of the home. (Note: If you have any weapons, make sure you have a way to lock them and ammunition up separately- super common concern!) The provider will collect the paperwork, conduct the house assessment, interview everyone in the home, and eventually write a report that is typically at least 8 pages long that will go to the attorney, agency, courts, and judge. Once the home study is approved, the family has passed this legal requirement to have a child placed in their home!

Julie Likins, LCSW
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Adoption Home Study Provider
julie.n.likins@gmail.com
918.270.4100


Birth Father Appreciation

This last weekend we celebrated Father’s Day. My husband became a father through the gift of adoption. Here at CPO we love and honor birth moms, as you know. We don’t hear as much about birth dads because they’re often not around after an adoption takes place. That is not the case for our family.

My son’s birth dad, C, was already a dad when Sammy came along. He was struggling in life at that time, and knew he could not support another child.   With a lot of pain and reluctance, he agreed to the adoption. He was there at Sammy’s birth. He cried and hugged us and then eventually walked away. We saw him twice more when Sammy was barely a year old. He has since moved to another state to be closer to family and we have not seen him in seven years. Sammy does not remember him but we show him pictures and talk about him often.  My husband has been faithful to send him Father’s Day greetings each year and to keep him filled in on how Sammy is doing. Sammy turned eight at the end of May and, much to our surprise, his birth father openly acknowledged him via social media. In his own words: “8 years ago today I made one of the hardest decisions of my life and gave away something that most couldn’t understand or wouldn’t understand. How or why I could give my only son up for adoption? He isn’t a secret he’s just my hidden pain. That being said, it was the best choice for his life that I could have ever made. Damon, Christina, and little Miss Abigail; you are God’s perfect match for him. From my distant world I watch him digitally grow and smile from the joy that you have given him. He has a beautiful future ahead of him because of you three. Thank you for making the decisions of my past feel so right when everything inside of me felt so wrong.”

Our second born, Abigail, also has a birth dad. He and his wife met and interviewed us two days before Abigail was born. They were a lot of fun and we sat around joking and laughing about things that we had in common. He was there every minute during the hospital stay, even when things got rough. Abigail and his wife (Abigail’s birth mom) nearly died the first day. That’s a story for another time! We’ve had to work harder on building a relationship with them because we didn’t know them at all before Abigail was born. But “build a relationship,” we have done and we see them a number of times during the year. It’s not common, but I am glad that both of our kids know who their birth dads are and can have a relationship with them. Having extra people in your life who love you is never a bad thing!

Christina

(Mom to Sammy and Abigail and wife to Damon)


2019 Celebrate Life Gala Recap

On Saturday, March 30, nearly 275 guests attended Crisis Pregnancy Outreach’s 15th annual Celebrate Life Gala at Tulsa’s iconic Mayo Hotel. The theme word for this year was Chrysalis, meaning a protecting covering; a sheltered state, or stage of being, or growth.  This theme fits perfectly with CPO’s mission to help women find wholeness in a secure environment.

The guests at the gala believe strongly in CPO’s mission and are committed to helping better the lives of women and children in crisis.  Guests were provided the opportunity to give in a variety of ways. With over 100 silent auction items, 38 intricately designed desserts for the dessert bar, 13 exciting live auction packages, a Getaway Giveaway raffle, a Best of the Best raffle and a scholarship fund, there was a way for all to donate.  All of this love for CPO and the people it serves, helped raise over $190,000… the largest amount ever raised!

Also available this year was a fun photo booth with props, as well as professional photography, by Lilliana Ross.  Guests also dined on a delicious sit down dinner, while enjoying the evening’s program.  

We hope you’ll join us next year and be a part of this beautiful night. Save the Date for the Celebrate Life Gala, on Saturday, March 28, 2020 at the Mayo Hotel.


Birth Mother’s Day

Did you know that there is a special day set aside to celebrate birth mothers and their incredible sacrifices? Birth mothers are crucial in every adoption story, and deserve a day of celebration.

Around the world, Birth Mother’s Day is celebrated the Saturday before Mother’s Day. This year, that will fall on May 11th. On that day, adoptive families everywhere will take time out of their day to remember, acknowledge, and celebrate their children’s birth mothers.

At Crisis Pregnancy Outreach, we have an annual celebration of Birth Mother’s Day the week before, so this year our celebration will be on May 4. The adoptive families will join their birth mothers and have a delicious meal in honor of the women we love so dearly. Then, birth mothers will be treated to a day of pampering including massages, manicures, and makeovers. To top it all off, we have several professional photographers who will have areas set up and take portraits in whatever configuration the birth mother desires.

It is a very important day, and we here at CPO hope you will take the time to honor your birth mother every year. Make plans to see her, give her a call. Send flowers, have your child draw her a picture from the heart. Let her know how much you love her and appreciate her gift to your family.


Why Our Family Chose CPO

Today’s blog is written by Kelsey Grant, a waiting adoptive mother.

In the early spring of 2017, our family was knee-deep (more like in-over-our-heads!) in adoption research. Matt and I had always hoped that adoption would be part of our family’s story, and the circumstances were finally right for us to take the first steps. Our spreadsheets were bulging with information aboutvarious agencies, requirements, pricing structures, etc. Then, per a recommendation from a friend, I submitted an email inquiry to the CPO website requesting more details about their adoption services. I predicted that it was long shot – the page indicated that CPO was only accepting applications from Native American families living in Oklahoma. Since neither of us have Native American heritage, and we had recently relocated to St. Louis for Matt’s job, we already had two strikes against us. However, much to my pleasant surprise, I got a very friendly response from Kate a few days later. (Little did we know that Kate would go on to mentor our family throughout our entire adoption journey! I love how God uses these unexpected and divine introductions.) In the end, we decided that CPO was the agency toward which The Lord was leading us; and we were so grateful when it was determined that they could accept our application afterall. Now, nearly two years later, we are increasingly confident that CPO is the place for us, and we’d love to share why!

1. Adoptee & Birth Family Focused

First and foremost, CPO serves families in practical and thoughtful ways. Many agencies provide similar services like counseling, but CPO goes above and beyond in the care they give, especially to mothers. During pregnancy, an expectant mom (whether she plans to make an adoption plan or parent her child) can receive transportation to her medical appointments, maternity clothes, and childbirth classes. If the mother would like a coach during delivery, a doula will be there to act as her advocate and cheerleader. After the baby arrives, critical things like weekly support groups, legal counsel, and even a transitional house are also available. Did I mention these wonderful services are all completely free of charge?! CPO is truly a ministry, living out the love of Jesus on a daily basis to meet needs in situations where people are most vulnerable.

2. Openness!

In adoption language “openness” refers to the level of contact between all members of the adoption – birth families, adoptees, and adoptive families. Openness is a wide spectrum that can fluctuate over time. It can range from exchanging periodic photos or letters, to celebrating special occasions together, and even family trips where everyone is invited! Matt and I agree with the research that says openness is the best possible avenuefor addressing both the pain and the joy that adoption encompasses. CPO has always been at the forefront of birth mother directed openness, and we deeply appreciate the heart of reciprocal trust that they encourage. Other agencies seemed to want us to “tick boxes” for what we were looking for in a child and his or her life circumstances. It was so refreshing to learn that at CPO, the birth mom is in total control of whom she wants to consider as potential parents for her child. Though we haven’t yet met the woman who will choose us, one of our greatest prayers is that she would know how much we honor her because of the respect she will first receive from CPO. CPO believes inproviding families for babies, and not babies for families, whichshows exactly where their priorities lie.

3. The Dollars Make Sense

Perhaps the most daunting piece of the adoption puzzle is figuring out the financial hurdles. As we researched our options, Matt and I struggled with the numbers. We didn’t think we could even afford the home study to get started, let alone the thousands of dollars that were often required to officially “sign up” with a particular agency. Once again, the generosity of CPO as an organization and the selflessness of its members came to the forefront as we learned that every single person who “works” there is actually a volunteer. This translates to lower overhead costs, allowing CPO to keep its adoption fees at roughly half (and sometimes a third) of the cost of other agencies we were considering. What a relief! Not only can we trust the motivations of each volunteer, but we also didn’t have to resort to incurring debt to make this dream a reality. For a pair of overly-analytical people who prefer to plan ahead and account for contingencies, this decision was a no brainer. We have still relied heavily on our loved ones and on God’s miraculous provision to help us chart a path forward, but the mountain we faced was significantly smaller than it could have otherwise been.

One of the most beautiful things about adoption is how God uses ordinary people who have been brought together by extraordinary circumstances to display His beautiful love and grace. Though our family’s story is still waiting to be written in many ways, we are already thankful for the chapter CPO hasbegun. From whatever perspective you are exploring adoption,our wish would be that CPO helps you find the answers you need, just as it has for us.

Kelsey, Matt, & Brooks

Navigating Transracial Adoption

written by Jenni Hutchins

When Kobi Redman’s now teenage daughter was 5, her brown-skinned girl looked up at her and asked “When will my skin turn white like yours, Mommy?” Kobi and her husband, James, became a CPO adoptive family 18 years ago when there was not a long list for adopting a non-Caucasian child. “We believed God gave us this gift of these babies, so we wanted to accept whomever God gave us,” explains Kobi. Their first two girls are Caucasian; their third and fourth are African American.

The Redman Family

Today, the number of families open to adopting any race has greatly increased. Rhonda Fisher adopted her daughter of mixed descent five years ago and says, “Adoption has changed so much over the years. There is no longer a clear expectation of how a family has to look.”

The Fisher Family

Along with the other unknowns of adoption, transracial adoption comes with its own list of unique concerns: How will having different color skinned parents or siblings affect my child at school? Will our extended family accept a child of a different race? How will I manage hair that is a different texture than my own? Kobi’s family deals with these concerns like all families do: one at a time and as they naturally arise. “Raising children comes with challenges no matter your skin color,“ says Kobi. “When race issues arise, we discuss them open and honestly with our teenagers and look for resources that in turn help us all.”
Preserving the child’s cultural heritage is important to transracial families. CPO adoptive parents can look to birth parents, siblings and their extended families as relationship opportunities through which their children learn to appreciate the color of their own skin. These relationships also serve as safe, valuable resources for the parents to ask questions about hair, history and culture. “Having a wonderful relationship with my daughter’s African American birth mom has been an amazing resource for me. I get her perspective and assistance on so many topics,” says Kobi.
Adoptive parents also look for mentors at church, at school and in their social group to help their children see a reflection of their skin color in others around them. Maddie McCoy, who is Caucasian and adopted her African American daughter three years ago says, “We work to create diversity in our daughter’s life through her birth family, church, books, dolls, and toys. We moved to a more diverse neighborhood so we would be in a more diverse school district. She is too young to notice the color difference yet, but I want diversity set up in her life so she grows up surrounded by different colors.”

The McCoy Family

More than anything, Rhonda says, “I want my daughter to appreciate all the shades, and believe not one shade is superior.” When her daughter began asking questions about her skin color difference, Rhonda explained the science of melanin and how its quantity determines the color of your skin. She reads books to her daughter and shows her photos of women with similar melanin levels explaining, “You are always going to be this beautiful color you are.”
These parents are navigating the issues society has created revolving around skin color. Sometimes they get looks or questions, but these families spend the majority of their days not noticing their color differences, but instead, laughing, loving, and caring for each other.
Rhonda simplifies her transracial adoption this way, “A child doesn’t have to look like you for you to be their parent.”


Confessions of an Adoptive Mom

I have a confession.  I have been an adoptive mom for 21 years now.  I have been a fierce advocate for open adoption longer than that.  But today, I am being eaten up with jealousy.  I know it’s selfish.  I am ashamed.  I know it’s not what God wants but sometimes adoption can be so darn complicated and emotional!

Recently, my daughter connected with her biological father’s family.  It’s an amazing story. Throughout my adoption journey I have seen God work some pretty awesome miracles and this was one of those.  A few years ago my mom bought my daughter, Jewel, a DNA kit.  It was just for fun and Jewel kind of got into it.  I guess it came with its own emotions because she found out that not all her ancestors came from Africa.  She also had some European ancestors.  I’ve heard that is not uncommon for African Americans but it made her sad.  It made her sad because she knows enough to know that most likely down the line one of her grandmas was a slave who was assaulted.  Sometimes, a person would rather not think about that sort of thing.  Anyway, when she signed up for Ancestry.com, the site gave her suggestions of possible biological relatives.  A few months later, Jewel got a message from someone who was a close biological match.  At this point, we knew very little about her birth father.  Turns out we didn’t even have the correct spelling of his last name.  So Jewel was hesitant to respond to this message from a stranger.  Plus, we had been told some lies about her birth father and feared he might not be a nice man.  After a few weeks of contemplation, Jewel wrote back, changing her life forever.

The stranger turned out to be her biological grandma, Willa.  They continued to write and Willa told Jewel the true story about her biological father.  He was a fun-loving, happy man.  He had a brother and a sister he was very close to.  He loved Jesus.  But when Jewel was just a few weeks old, he was shot and killed.  He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  His death devastated his family.  Fast forward 20 years.  Willa told Jewel that Derrick, her birth father, never knew about her.  And so they didn’t either, until a few years ago, when someone started spreading rumors.  Willa tried to find out if the rumors were true but no one was forthcoming.  She became so distraught with worry that her son’s only child was out there somewhere and she couldn’t find her.  But God had a plan for this grandma who loved Him.

 

Willa had signed up for Ancestry.com because she was researching her own biological family who had roots in the civil rights movement of the sixties.   When she was matched with Jewel, she prayed that this was Derrick’s long-lost daughter, but had no way to know for sure until Jewel responded to her e-mail.  The rest is history!  We met Willa and Derrick’s siblings and all their kids on September 9th, 2018.  They are a wonderful, fun, happy family!  And they welcomed me with open arms, too.  Sometimes my adoption journey makes me feel like I live in a movie.  I have been so abundantly blessed.

So why in the world am I jealous of this incredible turn of events?  I’m including this part of the story, my part, because most of you who are reading this are probably on your own adoption journey.  And sometimes jealousy comes with it.  I am so, so happy for Jewel!  But a part of me feels like my baby is getting taken away.  I guess this is normal when you love someone.  Love can be painful.  Sometimes I wonder, maybe a closed adoption would be less painful for me.  Jewel is my daughter!  I was the one who cared for her when she was sick.  I was the one who gave her princess birthday parties and took her to the zoo and the playground.  I was the one who sacrificed for her because I love her.  Ah ha!  Sacrifice.  That is what moms do.  Closed adoption may make me more comfortable but it certainly would not be right for Jewel!

And so I will continue to sacrifice for her.  I will put my jealousy of the altar and give it to Jesus (probably more than once).  I will celebrate this beautiful event in my daughter’s life.  I will love her with all my heart and thank the Lord that he brought her to me in the first place.  I will sacrifice my heart for my daughter because that is what adoptive moms do!

I’m not trying to sound sanctimonious.  I’m just being real here because I bet I am not the only adoptive mom who feels this way.  Be encouraged that jealousy is just a natural part of our messy, but amazing, adoption journey.  God has chosen us, not because we have it all together, but because we love Him and He will bless us far more than we will ever sacrifice.


Volunteers Matter: Marlita Camacho

Crisis Pregnancy Outreach has been 100% run by volunteers since its inception more than 30 years ago. No one has ever received a salary, which enables CPO to make an even bigger difference in the lives of Tulsa area women. We know that volunteers matter, and to honor them we periodically interview and highlight one of our volunteers. This week we hear from an extremely dedicated volunteer, Marlita Camacho.

Q: How do you volunteer with CPO?
A: I am a doula (professional labor support) and I assist Cheryl with birthmoms.

Q: How long have you been volunteering with us?
A: I have been a doula with CPO for 14 years, and an assistant for about 3 years.

Q: How did you find out about CPO?
A: I’m embarrassed to say it was for selfish reasons, but I was looking for ways to further my doula training by attending births.

Q: Why did you choose to volunteer with CPO vs. other organizations? What is it about crisis pregnancies that drew you to us?
A: The neat thing is I started attending births, but quickly realized what an amazing ministry opportunity it was. I get to walk through a really emotional time with these girls, laugh with them, cry with them. I get to be with them when they may not have a good support system.

Q: Why is our cause so close to your heart?
A: I’m passionate about birth, but I’m also passionate about being the hands and feet of Jesus. If these girls feel the love of Jesus through me, then I’m doing my part.

Q: What have you learned about yourself since volunteering?
A: I’ve learned that there’s always a way to make time. Your schedule may be busy, but if an opportunity comes up to minister to a woman in crisis, there’s always a way.

Q: How have you seen God’s hand at work in the ministry of CPO?
A: Wow. That’s a deep question. I think I’ve got the best volunteer opportunity at CPO, because I get to witness miracles. The miracle of life. The gift of a birth mother choosing life for her child, whether she plans on parenting or she is making an adoption plan. I get the privilege of witnessing families being made through open adoption.

Q: What would you say to anyone considering becoming involved in CPO?
A: Do it! Make time to make a difference in someone’s life. Make yourself available to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Choose to love on someone who may never have felt His love.
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