The Empty Nursery

When beginning the adoption process, one of the things I was most fearful of was the home study, afraid that no matter how great we thought we were, the social worker wouldn’t approve us. The fate of our parenthood  rested solely in the hands of a stranger, and that idea fanned the flames of my insecurities.

Being clueless about home studies, insecure, and a perfectionist, I needed to know what to expect. So I dedicated an entire “secret board” on Pinterest to adoption and tips for the home study. I looked for adoptive parent message boards and forums. I obsessively read everything I could get my hands on.
On one message board, a certain post caught my eye. A woman asked the question, “Should I have the baby’s room set up before the home study or not?
The majority of people answered that it wasn’t necessary to have a fully furnished nursery. The social worker only wants to see that you have adequate and appropriate space for the child. Then some people answered that they would never have a nursery ready for fear of seeming too desperate. Still others said that it would be far too painful to have their nursery complete and sitting empty. The comments that followed were the stories of so many childless women, sharing – some for the first time- their heartache and their sorrow, agreeing that there is nothing so painful as an empty nursery.

As I sat staring at my computer screen, I couldn’t help but feel as though I had just stared straight into the dark and bleeding heart of so many women struggling with infertility. We are afraid to seem too desperate for a child, afraid to face another day with empty arms, afraid that motherhood is a dream that will never come true. We are just… afraid.

David and I – mostly I – decided to go ahead and prep for baby as much as we can, because we want to be prepared when the day comes. So I made a baby registry on Amazon, and we have slowly been purchasing items for our nursery. We have all of the essentials – a crib, changing table, dresser, and a glider I got on Facebook marketplace for $50!
And when I sit in the nursery, as I so often do, I am not filled with sadness nor stricken by grief. Instead, my heart quickens with excitement and anticipation for what I know is coming.
I sit in the floor and I pray. I sit in the corner and imagine all of the memories we will make in that room. Our empty crib is not a bleeding heart for me, but I can see how it can be for so many others.

When I think of all of the women who try for years in vain to get pregnant, my heart breaks for them. I know many of them personally. Too many. Good, faithful Christian women whose deepest desire is to become a mother.

It seems so wrong. It seems so unfair. And no matter how loudly we cry out, God does not answer us with a pregnancy. We read the story of Hannah in the Bible. We read how she cried out to God and was given a child in return, and we are strengthened. We read of Abraham’s wife Sarah who gave birth at an age that the vast majority of us will never live to see. We read these miracles and we wonder, why not me? If only I pray hard enough. If only I do everything my doctor suggests.
If only, if only

I don’t have all the answers. In fact, I don’t have an answer at all. I asked God those questions too, especially right after David and I were married. People would innocently comment that babies were next for us, and when I shared about our inability to have children people would innocently say, “You never know. It could happen.” I could only smile and agree. Yes, yes it could.

And so my silent struggle began.
I knew in my heart that God was calling me to adoption. I had known it for years. But every month, I would wait with eager anticipation. And if I was a few days late, my heart would drop into my stomach and my imagination would run wild.
One time, I was over 30 days late, and though I was told at the age of 17 that I was close to menopause, and my period has never been regular, I stood on the “family planning” aisle at the pharmacy staring at pregnancy tests for 10 minutes before finally walking away empty handed.
After 60 days, I did go back and buy a test. You see, I had to know. And the next morning I experienced for the first time what so many women have experienced before me: The heartbreaking disappointment of a negative pregnancy test.

This same scenario has happened two more times in the 2 1/2 years David and I have been married. Each time, I have stared into the bathroom mirror, telling myself over and over that it would be negative, all the while hoping that it wasn’t.
But it was.

And that’s okay, because I am completely dedicated and in love with my call to adoption. God has been sowing the seed of adoption into my heart since I was 17 years old. And what my womb lacks in fertility, the soil of my heart more than makes up for. Jesus has nurtured those seeds planted so that I would be ready to embrace with joy the path set before me. I thank God for preparing me for this journey from a young age so that now I am able to face it with a heart that is whole and is held in Jesus’ hands.

But why are there so many good Christian couples who struggle to conceive or carry to term? I have pondered this for years, and my take-away is probably going to step on some toes. I do not want to offend anyone, I simply wish to share my thoughts.
James 1 tells us that “Religion our Father accepts as pure and faultless is to look after widows and orphans in their distress…”.
There are so many children in need of a home, in need of a family. But the majority of God’s people have turned a blind eye. And those who are unable to conceive often seek treatment and medical interventions of all kinds, exhausting resources and every other option, only turning to adoption as a last resort.

Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t judge couples who choose this route. Quite the opposite. Some of the most godly couples I know have sought medical intervention for infertility. Some of the most precious children I know were born as a result. I rejoice with them when pregnancy is achieved. I grieve with them when it is not.

But what if one of the reasons there are so many Christians struggling through this same trial is that we have failed to carry out his command? God is trying to wake us up from our slumber, from our pursuit of the American dream. God is trying to make us break out of this box of conventional thinking. He is trying to show us the sad reality that we have failed the poor and the broken, the orphan and the widow, and we have left them to be the responsibility of our government.

Now, I don’t believe that the loving God I serve made me unable to bear children. No, the sinful, broken world in which I live brought about my disease. I do believe that my loving God works all things to the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). He allows circumstances in our lives that either make or break us.  My loving, all knowing, all powerful God uses the good and especially the bad to further His kingdom.

So what if we, instead of seeking to further our own bloodlines, chose to further the kingdom God? What if we stepped up and took in the orphan? What if we opened our hearts and our homes to children we did not bear? What if we made ourselves available to the kids who need mentors, mothers and father figures to look up to? What if we stopped seeking what we think is best for us and instead began to seek after God’s heart? What if we prayed for God’s kingdom to come here on earth, and what if we were willing to do what it takes to make that happen?

I have felt the hurt of being told I will never bear children. But I have also felt the healing that comes from letting go of my desires and embracing whatever it is God has planned for me.

To the woman who is hurting, to the man who is aching at the thought of never having a son, to the couple that is struggling with the decisions that are ahead of you: You are not alone. Whatever you decide, there is no shame. There is no judgment here, only love. I pray that God will guard your heart during such a painful time as this. I pray that you are protected. I pray that your heart will become a fertile garden, ready to receive the seeds that God wants to sow in your life.

And above all, I pray for God’s kingdom to come.

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Transparency

Last time I posted, I spoke of the cost of adoption. I have mentioned several times my internal struggle while coming to the decision to pursue infant adoption. My goal was to inform friends and family of the reasons why adoption is so costly.

I have had this blog for a while and have a small group of readers who are mostly friends. I don’t expect strangers to come across my posts, but as I’ve been posting and tagging about adopting, strangers have found me. My hope and purpose in tagging my posts was that people would find encouragement or good information. What I’ve seen happen instead is that internet trolls have already came in to pick apart my life, my motives, and my integrity. I’ve had multiple comments (on our fundraising page and on this blog) that have questioned or made cruel assumptions about me and David.

These rude comments hinted at the fact that if it is truly God’s will for us to adopt an infant, surely He will provide that money some other way than us begging for it. They also questioned if adoption is really what we are using the money for. The most recent one told me it was distasteful to begin my last blog talking about how I don’t like spending money, only to post a link so that others could spend theirs on my behalf. 
It’s painful. I won’t lie. These comments, however ludicrous​ I believe them to be, still open wounds that have hardly had time to heal. My insecurities have come to the surface and I question everything again. With these accusations I feel like my character is being questioned.

I’ve been transparent in my feelings. I don’t like asking for money. I thought I made that clear. 

What I guess I didn’t make clear is that David works full time as a minister, making less in one year than it will cost us to adopt. I am working two part time jobs. We just moved to an area where cost of living is quite high, because God called us here. And we are so happy to be here. 

Every cent I make goes straight into savings. We are couponing, reworking our budget, being intentional about every dollar we spend. Could we do a better job? Sure. Of course we could. Sometimes we spend money on frivolous things like a date night or a tower fan for our non air conditioned house. *gasp* 

Every decision we make, we make with adoption and funding our adoption in mind. For instance, we recently considered getting a puppy. We love dogs, and it has been hard for us to not have one right now. We thought it would be nice to train the dog before we had kids in the house. But after careful consideration, we realized it would not be a good financial decision, no matter how much we want a dog. We’d rather have a child. 

Yeah, I hate spending money. But that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to spend it. For this I’ll give every penny I have. To hold a child in my arms and to have him call me Mommy, I would do absolutely anything.

So to the strangers who read my blog: Welcome. I hope you can find something meaningful or inspirational here. But if you cant- if you only feel the need to comment unnecessary hateful things – just keep your thoughts to yourself. You don’t know me or my struggles. You don’t know the wounds you’ve reopened. Next time consider that you might not be informed of all the facts and really it’s none of your business anyway. 

God bless.

The Cost of Adoption

I discussed in my previous post my hesitancy to pursue infant adoption because of how much it would cost us. I HATE spending money. David can tell you that he is the one who spends all our money, because I simply don’t buy things. Maybe it’s because I grew up with a mom who was always very cautious and conscious about spending, but I just have a hard time dishing out money for anything. I’ll be completely transparent and tell you that I’ve been in need of some new underwear for almost a year but keep wearing the old, falling apart ones because I don’t want to spend the money.

So I choke when I think about the amount of money we are about to spend on adoption.

The average domestic infant adoption costs between 30 and 50 THOUSAND dollars. We expect to spend close to $45,000 before ours is all said and done. So where does all that money go?! Am I literally buying a baby????

In response to my own curiosity and the questions from friends and family, I’d like to break down the costs associated with infant adoption so that you’ll have a better idea where all this money is going and so you can make an informed decision on whether you’d like to donate to our fundraising efforts.

So far we have spent very little. Our adoption agency (Faithful Adoption Consultants) is not a “placement agency”. Instead we pay them a small fee and they network with many different placement agencies around the country to find a match for us. For this reason, we will be matched with a birth mother rather quickly (hopefully!). Their average “wait” is 4 months before a match! If you know anything about adoption, you’ll know that is amazing. FAC charges a $3,500 flat fee for a one year contract. They are walking us through every step of the journey and have already been so helpful.

Costs vary widely based on many different variables, which is why it is hard to determine exactly how much we will spend on our infant adoption.

The following numbers have been compiled from different agency costs lists, but my main source was The Spruce.

Home studies can cost anywhere between $700 and $2,500. I’m not sure what our cost will be.

Agency fees vary between placement agencies, but the costs all seem to average out in the end. As far as I can tell, much of the money you pay to the agencies goes toward legal fees and counseling services provided to the birth mother.
Together with legal fees, this can equal out to about $20,000 – 25,000.

In many cases adoptive parents are required to pay for basic living expenses for the birth mother. This amount could be anything from $500 to $12,000.

We will also be required to pay for any medical costs associated with the birth. If the birth mother does not have insurance or qualify for medicaid, or if her insurance does not cover all of the hospital bills, we could be looking at another $10,000+ depending on the difficulty of the birth.

We will be required to travel to the hospital when the baby is born and stay within that state until we are given legal permission to leave. That could take up to three weeks, but often times does not take that long. So travel is an additional expense, and depending on the length of stay may cost us up to $5,000.

There are also small fees and things we must purchase along the way. We are working on our adoption profile book, which will be used to present us to prospective birth mothers. There are costs associated with making and printing copies of that as well.

So it all adds up. And it’s a lot! But a thing that I’ve been pondering is truly how little it is compared to the cost of my own adoption. Easter brought to mind the gruesome way in which Jesus died for my sins so that I could become a child of God. The payment He made so that I could be adopted into God’s family was so much more than $45,000. It was His life. He gave everything willingly. And so I willingly save my pennies and shamelessly beg for you to help!

Keeping in mind that we need proof of funds before we can be matched – and a match can come very quickly- we are asking you to please consider donating to our adoption fund. And please share our story so that others can consider giving too!

You can give online here  or you can mail donations to
David and Amber Siler
18 Sullivan Drive
Granby, CT 06035

Including our t-shirt fundraiser and the jewelry fundraiser that my cousin did for us, we have raised almost $10,000. I am so thankful for those of you who are praying for us and I ask that you continue to pray as we enter into the home study portion of this journey.

What questions or comments do you have? I’d love to hear from you!

The Story So Far – Part 1

I was 16 when I began to consider the effect that the chemo might have on my ability to conceive or carry a baby to term. I had been diagnosed with ovarian failure due to the toxic chemicals used to treat and eventually cure  me of leukemia. There was a chance that my ovaries may recover, but there was a chance that they might not.

Over the next 10 years, I heard different stories from different doctors. Most were unconcerned about the state of my fertility simply because I was unmarried and not looking to start a family.

By the time I met David I had already decided in my heart that I wanted to adopt, even if I could miraculously have biological children. And as early as our second date, David and I discussed children and adoption. He was also unsure about his ability to have children due to the effects of chemo and radiation he had as a child.

As strange as it might sound, this was such a comfort to me. For so long I had feared that my medical history and the lasting effects of cancer treatment on my body would somehow disqualify me from being loved by another person. I feared that my brokenness would be a deal breaker and that my hopes for a house full of adopted little ones would scare men away.

When David came into my life, I felt something different than fear. I felt affirmation. I knew for sure that I was called to become a parent through adoption. I am not the broken one. I am not broken at all. God only has a different plan for me than what I originally thought.

Driving to work this morning, I was thanking God for the sunshine and all the beauty I saw around me. I thought then of the beauty of marriage; how God placed David and I together to be an example to the world, a living picture of how Christ loves the Church and how the Church should reciprocate that love with honorable service to and respect for God. I thanked God for the privilege of being part of that beautiful picture, and I asked Him for wisdom and grace in our portrayal of His perfect love.

Then I began to think of what an honor it is to not only be a living picture of God’s love through marriage, but also to have the opportunity to be a picture of God’s love through adoption. I am in awe that God had chosen David and I for this journey. We will have the unique honor of providing a home and a loving family to a child who might not otherwise have those things. I know that I was, in essence, an orphan before God called me to be part of His family. And now I am a daughter of the King of Kings.

I can think of no better use for my life than to try to live up to the honor God has bestowed on me to be a wife and (future) mother.

“…I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” – Ephesians 4:1

And so, we are adopting. I wrote a post a couple of months before David and I got married entitled Adoption. If you haven’t already, I urge you to check it out!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our story, told by a special “guest blogger”….DAVID!

Baby Steps

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Everyone has probably noticed by now from the many fundraising posts on my Facebook page that we have begun the process of adoption. A part of me – I’ll admit a HUGE part of me – wanted to keep it a secret, even from our families. I am a private person in general. I remember the exhaustion of having to repeatedly answer the same questions from well meaning, loving people regarding my cancer journey. When announcing our plans to adopt, I had to prepare myself for the same with this journey.

But there is also the loss of the element of surprise, the one I wanted to experience when I announced to friends and family that we had been matched. For me, that is the equivalent of surprising people with a pregnancy announcement. I always looked forward to the way I would tell my parents….my friends. And with this journey publicized, it will be much less of a surprise. The joy of the announcement will be just as real though. And that I know.

In reality, I always knew that we would have to open our story up to the public, if for no other reason than to ask for help. Financially, yes. But there is something so much more helpful about having a community supporting us in every way. Lifting us up in prayer. Protecting our sanity (lol). Encouraging us. Reminding us of God’s faithfulness. We are extremely grateful for the outpouring of love and support that we have already experienced, even at the very beginning of this process.

That being said, I’ve felt God telling me to open up and be transparent throughout our adoption journey. I want to share with you all of the things that have led us to this point. I am well aware that my posts can become rather lengthy sometimes, so my plan is to share our story so far in several posts over the next few days/ weeks. I’ll also include some general facts about domestic infant adoption and try to answer some of the most frequently asked questions. And if any of you have questions that you’d like answered or are curious about anything, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments!

Thank you for reading, and I hope you’ll follow our story!

“Educatin’ with Satan”

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Two different friends on Facebook shared a news story yesterday about how Satanists are pushing to start after-school Satanism clubs on school campuses nationwide. I read the news articles with skepticism. It seemed a little far-fetched to me. One article had a link to the organization’s website. Now I am not fond of opening doors like this, but after a quick prayer for protection and discernment I clicked on the link to see what this was all about.

“After School Satan” was the heading, printed in attractive brightly colored block letters. The word “Satan” was adorned with cute little red horns coming out the ‘s’ and ‘n’. And there was an adorable crayon and paintbrush border.
“The Satanic Temple’s Extracurricular Program for Public Schools. Donate to help us counter evangelism in schools…Educatin’ with Satan will focus on the concepts of critical reasoning, independent thinking, fun and free thought”

As I said in my previous post, I am not surprised by evil in this world. Humans have been turning to other gods since the fall of man. Israel, God’s chosen people, turned their backs on him more times than I care to count. We will continue to turn away from God until the Final Judgement.

What pricked my heart though was a conversation in the comments section of my friend’s shared post. It was a back and forth argument that began with her communicating shock and disgust for such an idea. Her friend then commented:
“Why? Satan promotes love and equality.” Seriously?
He went on to explain that in the Satanic bible there is no killing or hate speech at all. He accused Christians of thinking Satanism is bad without knowing anything about it. He then posted a picture of “The Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth.”

  1. Do not give opinions or advice unless you are asked
  2. Do not tell your troubles to others unless you are sure they want to hear them
  3. When in another’s home, show them respect or else do not go there
  4. If a guest in your home annoys you, treat them cruelly and without mercy
  5. Do not make sexual advances unless you are given the mating signal
  6. Do not take that which does not belong to you, unless it is a burden to the other person and they cry out to be relieved
  7. Acknowledge the power of magic if you have employed it successfully to obtain your desires. If you deny the power of magic after having called upon it with success, you will lose all that you have obtained.
  8. Do not complain about anything to which you need not subject yourself
  9. Do not harm young children
  10. Do not kill non-human animals unless you are attacked or for your food
  11. When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask them to stop. If they do not stop, destroy them.

Most of those rules don’t sound like they promote love and equality to me. And the fourth and eleventh rule clearly state that it’s perfectly fine to harm and even kill someone simply for getting on your nerves.
The guy stated, “In Christianity you’re supposed to love and accept others and you just want to treat Satanists like s***. When was the last time you prayed for Satan?”
I almost couldn’t take this guy seriously, but watched the conversation unfold as my friend argued against his points.

I began to feel more and more sad that there are people out there who actually believe these things; That there are people so blinded that they choose to see Christianity as the religion of hatred instead of recognizing that our God is the most loving, forgiving and accepting god of them all. (Not to mention the only real one.)

How could an entire group of people come to the conclusion that it is better to serve Satan than God? The concept boggled my mind. But I took a deep breath and started to break it down.

1. The Instinct to Seek Gratification

I did a little more research in hopes of finding some answers and came upon a link to the “nine satanic sins” in which I found the following statements:

“Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek. Satan represents all the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental or emotional gratification.”

These are statements that having read the Bible, I am well aware of. Satan represents everything that God says is wrong. I also know that most times doing those wrong things would be gratifying, but does that justify the celebration of sin?
If I stretch my mind a bit I can start to see why the idea appeals to Satanists.
A life lived doing and saying whatever felt good and right in that moment sounds amazing…Except that it definitely isn’t the peaceful and loving religion that the man who was arguing portrayed it as. If I only did what felt good and right to me, there would be a whole trail of hurt and broken relationships behind me.

2. The Christian Reputation

Another rather obvious thing I noticed about Satanism is its disdain for Christians. The “After School Satan” website specifically mentioned Child Evangelism Fellowship and how the organization is teaching “fear of Hell and God’s wrath… and everlasting other-worldly horrors” to children.
I have heard it said that the biggest obstacle to evangelism is Christians. Meaning that people look at us and see something less than desirable. In fact, we are turning people off and against God and toward other religions like Satanism.

If I haven’t told you before,  I hesitate to admit that I’m a Christian sometimes. But let me make this clear: I am in no way, shape or form ashamed of Christ. I am ashamed at the reputation Christianity has because of some other Christians. There are people who call themselves Christian who spread hate and lies and constantly stir up trouble. They are quick to judge, quick to pick a fight and do it all “in Jesus’ name”.
Even some Christians who aren’t as outspoken or rude turn people away from Jesus by the way they present the gospel. By focusing on getting someone to make a decision between the glory of heaven and the punishment and torment of hell, they make Christianity sound more like a kooky cult and less like the beautiful, organic, relationship-driven religion that it is.

It breaks my heart to hear people’s opinions of Christians, and I think that too often the things they are saying are accurate.  Jesus did not intend for his followers to be known for their judgement and hate. We are called to be light. We are called to live a life of love, forgiveness, charity and selflessness.
Obviously there are things that Christians should stand against, but in taking that stance we should always be cautious about the image we are projecting. Are we being a reflection of who God really is, or are we carrying out our own agendas while smearing His name in the mud.

3. The War We Cannot See

I do want to say that I am fully aware that not all mean things said about Christians are our fault. When we stand against things that the world says are acceptable, we are putting targets on our backs. Even doing the right things in the right ways can get us in big trouble. It got Jesus killed. And he promised us that we will have the same troubles. We will be persecuted and mocked for what we believe. We will experience spiritual warfare and face horrors of all kinds

Spiritual warfare has been a popular subject lately amongst the girls who attend my Sunday school class. The last two weeks we have talked about how it isn’t enough to just know about Jesus. It isn’t even enough to acknowledge that the Bible is true and that Jesus really did die on the cross and conquer death to pay for our sin debt and restore us to Christ. There’s something more required:  A submission to the lordship of Jesus Christ. A faith that is proven through action.
During this discussion, I used the widely known and quoted James 2:19 to prove that belief itself is not enough to save you from your sin.

“You believe that there is one God.  Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.”

At the mention of the word “demon”, my class was sent spiraling into chaos. One girl’s eyes widened until I thought they are going to pop out of her head. One girl covered her ears and doubled over to put her face in her lap. The others started chattering about scary and supernatural things they’ve experienced. I was amazed that I could evoke such a reaction by the mere mention of demons.
But demons and Satan have been glamorized and idolized. Scary  movies prey on the mind and give more power to these evil spirits than is biblically accurate. Yes, demons are real, but you have no reason to fear if you are a child of God. We are protected and have even been given power over them!
Satan doesn’t scare me. Demons don’t either. God is so much bigger.
In essence, we are a lot like Satan and his demons in that we chose to rebel against God, thinking our way was better. We wanted to be our own god and have control over our own lives. When I proposed this comparison in my classroom it sent the girls over the edge.
“I ain’t no demon!” exclaimed one girl.
“I never said that you were. Only that we followed in Satan’s footsteps.”

And we continue to follow.

Obviously, after school Satan clubs are troubling. What’s more troubling though is the completely benign way this group presents itself. And perhaps most troubling is that the website lists nine schools around the country that have already started their clubs.  I fear there is little we can do to oppose this movement, as the same religious freedoms we enjoy apply to them as well. And every club attendee must have a permission form from his/her parent or guardian to attend, so it is the parents’ choice whether or not to send their child.
I will not start an anti- After School Satan club website or put up a huge fuss about it. What I will do instead is try to change the world one person at a time. Through every interaction I will seek to show other people who God really is in hopes that even one person would stop searching for love and acceptance in the wrong places.

For more information, I am providing a link  to the program’s website along with a final quote from their “Corrections” section:

We are not interested in converting children to Satanism. Unlike the Child Evangelism Fellowship, which openly seeks to convert children to their religious view through fear of eternal suffering, The Satanic Temple does not believe in imposing a one-size-fits-all approach to religious opinion. As Satanists, we believe that science is the best arbiter of truth. We see the quest for knowledge as a noble pursuit, and we believe in personal autonomy. However, nobody needs to be a Satanist to benefit from any of these things, and children should be given access to a variety of comparative opinions with which they can ultimately decide what is best for them.

Here is the link if you would like to view the group’s website.