Adoption Journey

This page is where I share about my journey through infertility and adoption, and my heart for life. If you want it all to make sense, start at the top…which is at the bottom of the page. 🙂 I also share a part of our journey in this 27 minute radio interview: Shaler Radio Interview

A Waiting Adoptive Mom Reveals a Powerful Truth

Posted by on Oct 5, 2016 in Adoption | 0 comments

A Waiting Adoptive Mom Reveals a Powerful Truth

Dear Friends, I am delighted to share with you a post picked up by Bound4Life. Please take a moment to read the article (link below). It means a lot to me. Thank-you! Love, Laurel http://bound4life.com/blog/2016/10/05/if-youre-pro-life-be-pro-adoption-a-waiting-adoptive-mom-reveals-a-powerful-truth/

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The Battle

Posted by on Sep 18, 2016 in Adoption, Lessons from Laurel | 0 comments

The Battle

Since my last blog post, I’ve celebrated my wedding anniversary and my birthday. Both are wonderful reasons to celebrate, which I certainly did. My husband and I try to eat at Chili’s on our anniversary. If you’re not familiar with, it is somewhat of a TexMex restaurant. The tradition began on our honeymoon when we had Chili’s delivered to our hotel room. (I’ve never seen that before or since!) With the exception of a couple of years when there was not a location near by, we have continued this tradition over the past 13 anniversaries. We got married on August 23, 2003, two weeks before my 22nd birthday. That means I just turned 35. I decided to throw myself a party for the big day. My family and I bar hopped…from salad bar to potato bar to ice cream bar to candy bar. (I think that joke is funny. To be clear, no alcohol was involved.) We had a fun “Frozen” themed party at my house. I have forced my nephews to watch “Frozen” so many times that as I was prepping food in the kitchen, my oldest nephew yells out “Laurel, hurry, or you’ll miss your favorite part!” My dad got to experience the movie for the first time that day. My job was done. And, ironically, a week later I ran into Elsa at the local Chick-Fil-A. Week made. Both of these special occasions were reminders of how blessed I am. I have a wonderful husband who loves my unconditionally. I have family who share my love of rainbow chip cake (or put up with it, depending on the family member) and don’t mind attending a Disney themed party for a 35 year-old. And it wasn’t about the gifts, but I sure was spoiled… Yet, if I am honest, this year’s celebrations were bittersweet. I never imagined I would celebrate my 13th wedding anniversary and 35th birthday childless. We have invested so much time and effort exploring ALL of our options for children, and are stuck waiting. We know we are waiting on the Lord, but the wait is still hard. On one particularly tough day when we were wrestling with a decision related to all of this, I walked into my bedroom. For the first time, I paused to read a Bible verse on a beautiful sign my secret sister from church gave me. I loved the beautiful cross on the artwork, and it matched beautifully with the color of my bedroom walls (hmmm…has she been in my room?), so I went ahead and hung it up on a nail that was already in place. I would be embarrassed to admit I had not read the scripture, except for the fact that when I did finally read it…I was literally stopped in my tracks by the impact it had on me. Yes. Yes! The Lord will fight for me. I need only be still. I immediately snapped the picture above and texted it to my husband. I also posted it on Facebook because it was too powerful not to share. Listen, friends, I don’t know what battle you are facing or have faced or will face. But I know battles are all around us. Like Dr. Frank Page says, “We are living in a battle ground,...

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Waiting Well (Even When It’s Painful)

Posted by on Jul 21, 2016 in Adoption | 4 comments

Waiting Well (Even When It’s Painful)

I’m really not the best person to write about waiting well. I mean, I get antsy waiting for people to finish eating their dinner when I’m ready for dessert. And that’s a mild example. I try and work on my patience, but when I’m tired or hungry or don’t feel well or…well, you get the picture…my patience? She wears thin. I’ve heard it facetiously said that you should not pray for patience because if you do, God will give you something to be patient about. I must have messed up, because I have been waiting on something for years: a child. When my husband and I were first married, we were frequently asked when we were going to have kids. We would jokingly tell people “5-10 years”…as we get closer to 13 years of marriage without children, this isn’t a joke anymore. But our story isn’t really the focus of this post. Rather, the focus is on waiting well…even when it becomes painful. In my own experience of waiting to become a mother, for many years, I felt patient. Given my history of lack of patience (see paragraph one), clearly this has not been a small feat. In Philippians 4:7, we’re told that the peace of God surpasses our understanding. In my case, the peace I’ve experienced while waiting for a child has certainly exceeded anything I could comprehend and can only be attributed to God. But after a couple of years of being in the adoption process, it has become difficult. Challenging. Painful. And like it is with grief, there are good days and bad days. Moments where I am perfectly fine and moments where I can barely catch my breath out of sadness or frustration. Thanks to God, I’m able to manage this well most of the time. But not long ago, after an already rough morning, I was meeting up with a friend when I became choked up about our current childless situation…this was an embarrassing and important break through. I haven’t sat and cried with anyone over this. Yet, as a counselor educator and former therapist, I know how cathartic crying can be. How comforting it can be to share the burdens of your heart and hear someone say “me too” or even “I’m sorry and I’m praying for you.” Despite being a part of support groups and connecting with other parents in waiting and adoptive parents who have “been there, done that”, I have mostly kept my struggle to myself. I hold back for many reasons: Because I want to be strong and I want others to see me as strong, because most people won’t understand and because I don’t want them to feel awkward, and because (and here’s the good news) I know this painful wait will come to an end. Oh how I look to that with great hope! This truth helps me cope with this difficult wait: God has a plan and this a part of it. Really, I think the best way to wait well is through prayerful anticipation that our wait will end and our prayers answered. By focusing on God, His promises, and His blessings, we are able to keep our attention on things other than our wait. Most of the time, anyway. And when the emotions well...

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3 Ways Abortion Robs America’s Mothers—and All of Us

Posted by on May 16, 2016 in Adoption | 0 comments

3 Ways Abortion Robs America’s Mothers—and All of Us

*This article was first published by Bound4Life, and was later re-printed by Christianheadlines.com, Charisma News, and For Every Mom. Thank-you to all of these organizations for spreading this important message. Please visit one of these sites for this blog post with pictures and hyperlinks to important sources of information. And please follow these four sites on social media so that you don’t miss a thing!* We put in our application to adopt in February, announced our plan to adopt on Mother’s Day, and became ‘home study ready’ on September 11. In 2014. It’s now been two years of waiting and praying. Mostly patient, I’m finding myself becoming less serene and more frustrated at this wait—with its end yet to be determined. A prepared adoptive family may wait years for a placement. The abortion clinics are full… why aren’t adoption agencies teeming with children? Our society makes abortion so easy. It’s cheap, it’s accessible and it has even become glamorized (thanks to Planned Parenthood’s extensive Hollywood outreach). We hear all the time how abortion is so common, and it is. But that doesn’t make it right. When I think of all that is lost as a result of abortion, it breaks my heart. Much has been said on the horrors of abortion, yet we rarely focus on how abortion robs us all of the blessings of adoption. Here are three ways abortion robs from adoption: 1. Abortion robs the birthmother When a woman realizes she’s pregnant, she has three choices: she can raise the child herself, she can place the child for adoption, or she can abort the child. Let’s be honest, all too often we’re talking about 13, 14 or 15 year-old girls here. While teen pregnancy and abortion rates are at the lowest they’ve been in 40 years—thanks in part to effective pro-life laws—abortions still take place seven days a week. Whether choosing an abortion or forced into it by another, women are robbed of the blessing of adoption. In an extremely difficult place in life, she feels her only option is to choose death. Yet for years, perhaps decades, this woman will face trauma and even grave health issues as a result of post-abortive stress. Through adoption, women have an amazing opportunity to redeem a bad decision or unintended consequence. Yes, this choice carries its own difficulty. One birthmother shares in the New York Times how, despite a painful decision to place her child for adoption, it comforts her to see the child with his adoptive family. She would be robbed of this consolation if she had chosen abortion. To be clear, adoption is not the only—or even always the best—alternative to abortion. Sometimes the right choice is for the expectant mother to parent. No woman should feel forced to place a child for adoption that she can care for. The point is: when a women or couple cannot provide a good home for their child, regardless of the reasons why, abortion is not the answer. Adoption is! 2. Abortion robs families of the opportunity to adopt Wouldn’t it be amazing if every child was born into loving and capable families? I would love to see the unplanned pregnancy rate and national abortion rate go to zero. Any pro-life advocate would be perfectly content if there were...

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Mother’s Day Get Away Fundraiser

Posted by on Apr 24, 2016 in Adoption, Lessons from Laurel | 12 comments

Mother’s Day Get Away Fundraiser

Friends, family, and even strangers have been AMAZING in helping us raise funds for our adoption, and I could not be more excited about this next fundraiser! It’s a Mother’s Day Get Away!!! Here’s the how it works: For every $5 you donate (through our secure paypal account at paypal.me/shaler ), your name will be entered into a drawing for a Mother’s Day Get Away package. So, for example, $10 will get you two entries… $25 will get you five entries… and so forth.  Entries will be accepted until midnight EST on May 7, 2016. On Mothers Day (May 8, 2016), I will use a random generator that will select the winner. The winner will be announced at 8:00 a.m., in time for the winner to reveal this awesome Mother’s Day gift to the recipient. And it’s not just for moms! Enter to give to your mom, enter to give to an aunt, enter to give to your grandmother, enter to give to your sister, enter to give to a friend, enter for yourself (you know you deserve it)…just enter!!! You can also receive extra entries by sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram after you’ve donated. Just comment on this post and let me know where you shared so I can count them! PLEASE NOTE: If you’d like to be entered without donating, send an email to doctorlaurelshaler@gmail.com. Donations are not tax deductible. Only open to those with a mailing address in the lower 48 United States. SO…wanna know what’s in this Mother’s Day Getaway?!? Pictures and descriptions below! Your get away starts with an Amazon Fire! Want some time to read or write? Finally watch a movie or have a moment to check your email? Browse the internet or try and finally defeat candy crush? You will definitely want to enter this give-away for a chance to win an AMAZON FIRE for just $5. It’s a tablet that’s small enough for your handbag, but packs a bigger punch than your phone. You’re gonna love it for your getaway and every day use! Before you head out with your new Amazon Fire, get cozy and pamper yourself on your getaway with Mary Kay moisturizing spray lotion and mint bliss energizing lotion for feet & legs. But don’t stop there. Go ahead and slip your feet into the adorable cozy Old Navy socks. Thank-you to Michelle Brown for these great donations! Check out her site HERE. Comfort for your getaway also includes this incredibly soft tee shirt, absolutely perfect for Mother’s Day. Thank-you to www.somebodysmama.com for their generous donation! (They will send the winner the size of your choice.) Are you willing to donate just $5 to help me become somebody’s mama? Now that you’re all dressed up for your getaway, let’s set the mood with the smell of, what else, COFEE! This great smelling candle was made in South Carolina and donated by the sweet ladies of the Easley, SC, Evening MOPS Group. This coffee can be consumed at night, and won’t keep you awake! On your get-away, you may want to read or write…both are good for the heart and soul! In your giveaway, you’ll find a signed copy of Logan Wolfram’s book Curious Faith: Rediscovering Hope in the God of Possibility. Thank-you LOGAN for sharing this compelling...

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While We’re Waiting…

Posted by on Feb 27, 2016 in Adoption | 0 comments

The car seat is bought, but sits in an empty room. The beautiful crib sits next to a matching changing table and dresser waiting to be put together. A jeep jogging stroller (that I’ll likely never actually JOG with, if we’re being honest) was gifted to us. A tiny Clemson sweatshirt hangs in the closet. The only outfit remaining from when I was a baby has been washed. The blankets hubby was wrapped in are ready for a new bundle of joy. We’ve networked with a second adoption agency. We’re praying. While we’re waiting…...

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Are we REALLY Pro-Life?

Posted by on Oct 23, 2015 in Adoption | 2 comments

Are we REALLY Pro-Life?

As I scroll through my Twitter feed, one particular meme gives me pause. On the left side is a pregnant woman with three pro-lifers encouraging her to give her baby life. On the right side is the woman holding her baby with those same three people telling her to get out of public housing, stop using food stamps, and just get a job. While the narrative that all (or even many) pro-lifers act this way is simply not true, it leads me to the question: Are we really pro-life? Because, if we are, we should be pro ALL life. This is not about the welfare debate. Instead, this is about caring about the unborn once they are actually born. And I don’t just mean the babies. When there are 100,000 American children in foster care waiting to be adopted, how can we say we are pro-life? I am well aware that it is much easier to place an infant and that for every infant placed for adoption, up to three dozen families are waiting for one. I am well aware that ANY woman in America in a crisis pregnancy can find a forever family for her child by the time you’re done reading this article. I am 100% pro-life, and in the infant adoption process myself, so I get all that. Yet, I am becoming more and more aware that if I am going to be pro-life, I have to be pro ALL life. I have to be for the unborn, the infants, the children, the adolescents, the young adults, the middle adults, and the elderly. There are different methods and lots of disagreements about the best way to demonstrate support for all life, and setting government assistance aside for the the sake of this particular article (and argument), I want to offer four practical ideas for helping people throughout the life span after they are born: 1) Foster or adopt a child through the foster care system…or support someone who is. There was an article recently that said that if one family out of every three churches in America adopts a foster child, the foster care system would cease to exist. What would happen if one family adopted and the members of those three churches rallied behind that family making sure their needs are met i.e. providing emotion support, taking meals, offering to baby-sit, etc. Listen, I am a social worker and counselor, and know the challenges that these precious children face as a result of (usually) being removed from a neglected or abusive home. But they are worth it. So, foster, adopt, or support someone who is. 2) Sponsor a child/family. There are many reputable organizations such as Food for the Hungry and Compassion International that help prevent orphans by providing for needs of children and their families in third world countries. Through a nominal monthly donation, you can help keep families together, preventing children from becoming orphans around the world. You can do this same thing on your own for a single mother/father family you know. Ensure they have clothes, food, heat/air. Be there to show them you don’t only care about them when their children are in the womb, but that you care about the entire family unit throughout every phase of life. 3) Mentor...

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To My Future Child: I Can Hardly Wait

Posted by on Oct 16, 2015 in Adoption | 2 comments

To My Future Child: I Can Hardly Wait

As soon as I type the title, I get misty eyed. My mind starts swirling and I hardly know where to begin. My Child. Now I really am crying. I know you will come to me one day, but I can hardly believe it and I can hardly wait. You need to know I already love you. I know nothing about you, yet you are already wrapped around my heart. We are already bonded forever, and I promise you that I will never let anything separate us. I will stand by you and love you, no matter what. Even when you tell me I’m not your “real” mother (as if I would forget). Still… I will make sure others know you are my real child and will remind them that although you were adopted, you are not my “adopted child”. You are simply my child. I will do everything I can to help you grow up to be a mature, responsible, well-adjusted adult, even if means doing things you don’t like or going against the culture. I will support you when you want to know more about your biological family…even if you want to meet them. I will allow you the space and freedom to explore relationships with them if they want. I will be there to hold you if this doesn’t turn out the way your heart desires. I will always be there for you. I won’t always agree with you, and I may not even support all of your decisions, but I will always be there to listen and to love. No matter what. I will tell you about the love that is greater than any other love: Jesus. I promise to take you to church, read the Bible to you, pray with you and pray for you. I promise to do everything I can to help you grow in your relationship with the One who created you, died for you, and rose again…for you. I can only love you because He loves me too. To my future child. To my child. My child. How I love you so and long for the day to hold you in my arms. I know you will not be perfect. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m not either. We’ll be the perfectly imperfect pair. Yep, I can hardly...

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The Insult That Strikes When I Want To Wear White – {For Women Only}

Posted by on Sep 12, 2015 in Adoption | 4 comments

The Insult That Strikes When I Want To Wear White – {For Women Only}

When I was in 5th grade, my teacher wrote a sentence on the board and emphasized the period at the end of the sentence. I don’t recall why. Maybe it was something like “You will obey me, period!” (There was definitely an exclamation point at the end instead of an actual period.) Anyway, I made a little joke about the period to the kids sitting around me, and she called me out on it. Maybe she forgot about the other meaning for the word “period”, and why that would be funny to a group of 5th graders. Since I had yet to experience it, I didn’t realize periods are no joke. When you go through the adolescent lessons on puberty, you learn all about how and why these happen to women on a monthly basis. (Because you become a “woman” when your period starts. Clearly.) I recall becoming a woman during my 6th grade year, but I don’t know if anyone else around me recognized me as one. I mean, I still had a bedtime and wasn’t allowed snacks without permission. So, yeah, somehow the whole becoming a woman thing didn’t work out quite as well as I had hoped. But, as much as I didn’t enjoy these monthly events that would strike as soon as I decided to wear my white jeans (because…the ‘90s), we just had to remember that this was happening so that we could have children one day. I mean, that is all you think about as a teen, right? Ok, I never actually thought of that. Literally, not even once. Until I got older and got married… ~Push through the cramps. (Which are so much worse than men could imagine.) ~Push through all the money you spend on, ahem, feminine products. (Knowing those commercials about frolicking on the beach during this time of the month are a big ol’ lie.) ~Push through the bloating that somehow seems to last all month. (Sigh.) It will be worth it. Except it’s not. At least, not for every woman. At least, not for the woman who cannot conceive. At least, not for me. You see, my period is a major insult. I mean, after 12 years of marriage and infertility, how else can I view it? I was recently chatting about this with a single friend in her mid-30s. She’s not sure she will get married or have children, and she feels the same way. Insulted. And I got to thinking…how many women are cramped (pun intended) into this boat with us? Insulted that they go through this super annoying event Every. Single. Month. for no reason. If the inability or lack of opportunity to have children is the injury, then the period is the insult to that injury. As if nature is laughing at us. And the only recourse you have is a heating pad, a bottle of Aleve, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate. Oh, but ladies, I’ve decided we can’t stop there. We can’t just accept this thing that puts us down and shames us for what it symbolizes. Instead, we can hold our heads high and recognize that it’s just a symbol of a different plan than what we anticipated. Or hoped for. Or prayed for. Comedian Gracie Allen used to say “Never place...

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Don’t Try to Adopt a Refugee

Posted by on Sep 10, 2015 in Adoption | 1 comment

Don’t Try to Adopt a Refugee

As I was reading more in-depth coverage on the crisis in Iraq and Syria, my heart strings were majorly pulled for the children. The children who are running for their lives because they come from Christian families. The children that are homeless and starving. The children that are separated from their families and afraid. The children that are washing up on shores of beaches while the world looks away. I knew what my husband and I had to do…adopt one of these children. Bring one of these defenseless babes into our home where they will be warmed, fed, bathed, clothed, and loved. And safe. I started to search the internet for how I could get this process started, and the very first article I read stopped me in my tracks. Don’t try to adopt refugees. At first, I didn’t understand. Then, I kept reading and it all came together. Yes, sadly, there are orphans as a result of the crisis in the Middle East. Over 200,000 people have been killed and millions more displaced, and there are orphans as a result. At the same time, these children have already lost so much, and taking them away from whatever they may have left (such as their country, their language, or any known relatives) is not in their best interest. In fact, most are not even eligible for adoption. Even if they had no other family to take them in and became eligible for adoption, many countries (such as Syria) don’t even allow other countries to adopt children from their country. The gut reaction and the genuine desire and willingness to adopt a refugee is admirable, but it is not the best response to this crisis. The best response is to pray and support respectable humanitarian organizations, such as Samaritan’s Purse, so that the numerous needs of these people can be met. There are many ministries and organizations that are literally meeting these people where they are and providing for them in amazing ways, but it is not enough. We, as Christians, have to do more. I may not be able to adopt of these children, but I can help them in a different, and likely better, way. You can...

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