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Saturday, June 29, 2013

A different kind of waiting

     So a typical question among adoptive families is "How long did you wait?" Usually referring to the amount of time between the completion of your home study and your match.  Today I want to talk about a different wait. The wait for the child we had been matched with to be born.  Three very long months.  Three months filled with excitement, and hope but also anxiety and fear.  Since we got the call at the end of December, we were pretty busy until the second week of January.  Even then, throughout this time we kept pretty busy with our 3 kids.  It was during the quiet times I would think about our new daughter and would wonder things.  Of course some of them were things I wondered when I was pregnant.  "What will she look like?", "What will it be like to hold her?" "How are the kids going to handle a new baby in the house?"   Some of the thoughts were unique to the adoption "Will she attach to me and my husband OK?"  "Will she grow up wondering why her birthparents chose an adoption plan?"  But it was a constant barrage of  whats? and wills? And I finally had to learn to let it be. To remind myself this was God's plan for our family and whatever it looks like in the end is all a part of it.

     In January it seemed so far away. We had plenty of time to prepare, get the nursery ready, pick a name.  In the three months since we were matched our daughter's birthmother and I spoke frequently by email.  I have saved and printed all those emails to go into a folder to give our daughter.  I often wondered what our relationship would look like afterwards, how it has turned out is a different post :)  One of my big concerns was how to tell our children.  You might be questioning why we didn't tell them right away.  In a way we wanted to protect them.  See the process itself is really an emotional roller coaster.  I tell people adoption is like a pregnancy of your soul.  Just as a physical pregnancy stretches your body to its limits so does adoption to your emotions.  It will have you doing things you never thought you could do, things you never thought you could feel and in some cases, leave evidence of itself on your soul, much like stretch marks.  In many cases, over a longer period of time than a physical pregnancy.  So we had decided not to tell our kids up front because we did not want to have this huge discussion and then something happen and her birthparents change their mind and decide to parent the child.  We were afraid of how it would affect them if we told them this thing would happen and then it didn't.  We didn't want them to have any anxiety or fear about it.  How little faith we had in our children.  Now we had discussed adoption with them, they understood what an orphan was (remember we were initially seeking a child with special needs from China) and they completely understood we felt God was calling our family to be a family to a child who needed one.  So we discussed it with our adoption worker and she convinced us to tell them.  She stated it would be better to work through the aftermath of a failed placement then to expect them to adjust appropriately without proper time to work through it emotionally and prepare for another child.  So we took her advice and went out to a family dinner.  We told the kids we had some exciting news.  I was super nervous, trying to anticipate all the questions they might have.  We kind of went halfway and told them we met with some birthparents who thought they wanted us to be a forever family to a little baby who would be born in a few months.  We told them we should pray for their family as they chose what to do.  That way it still left an out if minds were changed last minute.  So here I was ready to tackle the life changing questions and all they said was "OK.  Can we order some cheesesticks?" That. was. it.  To them it was so simple and pure. It just....was.  No concerns, no questions, just complete and utter faith in what was to be.  Oh, what a lesson in faith I took away from that night.  To this day, with the exception of a brief discussion on babies in birthmother's tummies and which child came out of which tummy, there has still been very little discussion on the matter.  It just "is".  I'm sure the questions are coming, and maybe they never will, but we want to be as open as we can be about all of it.

     So then we had a little more waiting to go.  We already had everything saved from our last child, so there wasn't a rush of going out and the excitement of buying new things.  What we didn't have we borrowed or found at a reasonable price and we waited.  We packed a bag of lots of different things because we had no idea of what she would weigh and we waited.  We packed an entire Suburban full of things we had no idea of whether we would need because we did not know how long it would be before we could return to our home state with her.  And we waited a little more.  During this time I worried a lot about if I would bond with her.  I think up to the second she was born I kept a little emotional distance as a safety net in case the placement fell through.  I tried to guard my emotions for self preservation, I realize that now.  I think it was also a little difficult to fall in love with her during those three months because we didn't have an image.  I saw a few of my friends who were working through international adoptions with pictures of their children they had been matched with and I envied them.  They had something tangible to love.  They carried around those pictures, stared at those pictures and fell in love with the children in those pictures over a period of time.  We had an ultrasound picture (which touches my heart that her birthmother thought of sending to us, so cool) but come on, how much can you really see in one of those.  So I worried that it would take me a while to fall in love with her.  And the next thing I knew, time was up, our waiting was over and we were heading to her home state where she would be born the next day...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

They chose us?!?!

     So after taking a break from blogging world, I am back to continue our story.  (Major kudos to those who blog everyday, wow!)

     If you remember the last blog post, we had met some birthparents.  Well after that meeting we were told they wanted to meet with two other families, that it would be well after the New Year before we would hear anything.  So there was a break from the anxiousness, I knew not to expect anything so the holidays were relaxed and we just focused on family.  A few days after Christmas I was driving our three kids from a doctor's appointment when I got a text from our worker.  It simply said "Hope you had a great Christmas. By the way I have some great news for you" I read it and I swear when it comes to stuff like this my mind goes into warp speed.  My first thought was "No way!!!!" "But we weren't planning (see, there I go planning again, you think I would know better by now) to hear anything." "Maybe that's not what she's talking about"  So before I panic I text her back "No way".  She texted back "Yes way and it's a girl".  Talk about shock.  I think it is also important to note at this point we had decided not to tell the kids about any of this.  We had discussed adoption with them, sure, but didn't want the potential continuous ups and downs to get to them.  So while I am finding out that birthparents have chosen us to be their child's forever family, I am trying to hold myself together because my 4,6 and 12 year old who have no idea are in the car.  So I quietly asked her about the other families they were supposed to meet, I felt badly they didn't get the opportunity to meet them and be considered.  She replied it was a good fit and they really liked us.  I let her know I would talk to my husband but we would let her know if we agreed to be matched (Duh, yeah!).  So I then called and woke up my husband who had just come off a midnight shift and whispered "Six words".  It took him a moment to wake up and wonder what in the world I was talking about.  So he was like, Umm OK what are the six words.  I whispered to him "They picked us.  It's a girl"  I must say it took about 20 seconds and me repeating myself two more times before he got it.  And boy was there some hooting and hollering when he realized what I was telling him.  It was the best Christmas present we could have gotten.  So there we were.  We were matched.  What next??

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

My Plan

     I need to let it out.  Just for one night, let the confusion and anxiety out.  Don’t get the wrong idea, the journey is a great and happy one.  But that doesn’t mean there won’t be challenging times or difficult times and I think it’s OK to talk about and acknowledge that.  Otherwise everyone is just fake happy all the time with rainbows and butterflies.  There have been days I was so full of joy I couldn’t stand it and there have been nights I have cried myself to sleep.  But the story of Noah teaches us there must be rain for the rainbow to come.  So here goes, and hang in there, it has a happy ending.  

     The closer we get to placement, the more family and friends ask “How are you going to make it?”  For some it’s just passing conversation, some are genuinely concerned and questioning.  In my head I answer “I have absolutely no idea” but out of my mouth comes “Oh, we’ll be fine”.  I do this for two reasons.  One, I don’t like to lose it in front of people, Two, I think if I let it out, the tears will never stop.  First it’s the deciding, then it’s the choices, then the paperwork, then the preferences, then the waiting (granted in our case this was not very long, prayers for those who continue to wait), then the financing, then paperwork again, then planning.  I am starting to learn that planning is a futile effort, because God does not follow our plan.  He has His own plan and guess whose is more important? That’s right J .  So I need to learn to follow His plan which is usually off on a tangent from mine.  So I have been planning this last week and today just came and whapped me upside the head with change.  Change that I was not expecting and was not in my plan.  And I let it beat me.  The worry, the stress, the unknowns got to me and got me down.  Really down.  It diverted my attention from this.
      This is the important thing.  This is our daughter.  She is the reason we are on this journey God has destined for our life.  So I realize “How are we going to make it on our own?”  We’re not.  Nor were we ever meant to do this by ourselves.  The only way we will be able to do this is with His help and guidance.  When we lean on God for help and understanding, only through faith and dependence can we accomplish what He is truly calling us to do.  And this is our calling, of this we have absolutely no doubts.  So tomorrow…..it’s on to more paperwork.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The (Not So) Scary Birthparents

     Like I mentioned before, in our whole journey, nothing has had the impact on me that one little paragraph did.  Basically states “Just as a parent has the ability to love more than one child, so does a child have the capacity to love more than one set of parents”  What a joyful proclamation this is.  (I’m sure someone could insert some awesome Scripture here to back this up.  Any takers?).  What a view of openness in adoption this gives us.  Now understand every adoption journey is different, and for some openness is not the way their journey is meant to be.  Who knows if ours will continue to be, but for now this is part of our journey.

      Before God opened my heart to openness, I had decided it was not for us.  One of many reasons I felt drawn to international adoption was there was a less likely chance for birth parent involvement. I thought lack of a participating birthparent would make raising an adopted child easier, and would be a less threatening task.  I realize now how selfish that was.  It started with a few of our adoptive families who have both open and closed adoptions.  The discussion of birthparents honestly made me uncomfortable.  But when we changed to domestic adoption, I knew birthparents, on some level, would become a part of our journey.  Of course I was willing to send updates and pictures periodically but was not at ease with any communication back.  That started changing during our mandatory 2 day training.  Most of the first day was discussing birthparents and let me tell you, it is hard to dismiss someone’s feelings when you meet a birthmother and listen to her experience.  All of a sudden, the birthmother became a person.  A person with feelings and hope for their unborn child.  They have dreams for their child that they realize they can’t provide at this time, but that doesn’t make their hopes and dreams any less viable.  And the love, wow!  The love that is evidenced by a birthparent’s decision to choose life and an adoption plan for their child is so profound, it still just makes my heart full.  We left that training and I remember bursting into tears in the parking lot.  My husband (kind of sort of used to it at that point, sheesh what is wrong with me) asked what I was feeling.  I distinctly remember telling him “I think God is going to give us an awesome birthmother who wants an open adoption and we are going to fall in love with her”  and that scared me.   A little (OK fairly big) part of me was anxious and was rebelling saying “no, no, that’s not what I wanted “but He was whispering right back “I’m going to stretch your heart until it can’t possibly contain all the joy and love that I want to bless you with”.  So that day I grew a little more open to openness.  It grew a little more as I realized our family dynamics were extremely well adjusted in our familial and parenting relationships and I think our kids could adjust fairly easily to openness in our adoption.  So on our application we put we were willing to providing updates and were possibly open to more communication down the road.

     So I told you how the referral happened and then came the meeting.  I was so nervous I didn’t eat breakfast because I thought I might throw it up.  See I didn’t think anyone would pick us.  I thought there were a lot of strikes against us.  We both work so our children are in before and after school care, we didn’t struggle with infertility issues, we already have 3 children.  But they wanted to meet us so here we were.  Do I wear my hair up or down?  If it’s up I might look too rigid, if it’s down, it will drive me crazy and I will look too young.  What do I wear? I want to appear put together (but not high maintenance), young (but mature), worldy (but small town).  And if you know me and know that I spend around ten minutes getting ready for work, it makes knowing all that really laughable.  So we went to the meeting and they were late and not answering their phone, which made our worker nervous, which made me nervous.  Before we went in I just prayed the one thing I could.  I prayed that God would give me the words to say what they needed to hear, whatever that was.  Whether we were or weren’t the ones for them, I just prayed He would have us say whatever would help make it clear for them and give them peace to know for sure.  Then they were there, and they walked in.  Haha, awkward.  So we sat on opposite sides of the table and looked at each other.  (I can laugh now, but it was nervewracking).  Thank goodness for the facilitating skills of our adoption worker and their advocate (same agency, just different jobs).  So we got to talking and it was obvious pretty fast that everyone relaxed and it was just like a pleasant conversation with friends.  I didn’t feel the need to censor anything I said although I was aware of sensitive topics.  Soon it was time to go and we were saying goodbyes.  We walked out and my husband and I looked at each other and both said, “wow”.  We liked them as people, we liked them as parents.  It didn’t surprise me as much as I thought it would.  We walked away knowing whatever and whoever they chose, it would be OK and we were better for meeting them.   I was just happy someone liked our profile enough to meet us J.  But I thought there were shared values and a connection, so I dared to hope a little that they might pick us.

     Once again well beyond proper blog length I’m sure, I will end our story here for now.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Race to the Finish

Finally a moment to catch you up on our family.  See after our Homestudy took a little longer to complete, we kind of rushed through the rest.  Within about a 45 day period, we were matched.  But let me start at the beginning of this part of our story.


     The profile (or as I call it the “pick us”) book.  Imagine someone telling you to describe your life, your immediate and extended family, your values, our hopes, your house, neighborhood, city, joyful times, your job, your interests and oh, you have to accomplish this with about 60 pictures within a 20 page photo book.  But 4 of those pages are just words that need to be good enough to capture someone’s attention, entertaining enough to keep their attention and brief enough so that you don’t lose their attention.  In adoption world, this is called your profile book.  It is shown to perspective birthparents along with other family profiles whose preferences match.  Imagine picking one Christmas photograph to represent 10 years of Christmases.  Until I actually sat down to do it, it seemed like a piece of cake.  Thought I would just sit down, pick a few pictures, write some nice things about our family, and be done with it.  After about an hour of creating ours, anxiety had crept in.  I began analyzing every picture; me in my husband’s boxers is not flattering as bedtime attire, this one is great of our family but my right eye is shut halfway as it is prone to do, does this picture make us look too silly, does our Christmas picture with family gifts make us look pretentious, our backyard is a big pitiful sandpit.  I finally had to take a step back and remind myself that whoever picks us, will pick us, for being us.  Our family is not perfect, we are not Better Homes and Gardens, heck we are lightyears away from Leave it to Beaver.  Our family is messy, ornery, fun, affectionate, tough, crazy, stressful, but we have love.  When we are hurting, we have family.  When we are stressed out to the max and raise our voices, we have family.  If God can see us in all our glorious mess and still love us, then we can be OK with not being perfect.  We are real and real is exactly what I put in our profile book.  Yes, I included the picture of me in boxers because in that picture I was reading to my kids.  I also put one in there of me sticking my tongue out because once in a while, I can be funny (my husband is responsible for most of the fun in our house) and I put in a picture of my husband sitting amidst a pile of dirty laundry because in that picture he is painting our daughter’s toenails.  See those are the important things, it ended up being an affirming moment for me.  Life isn’t about what you’re wearing, where you are or what you have, it’s about those little moments in day to day life. 

      Whew, that’s enough deepness for me in what was supposed to be a lighthearted post.  So about our final profile book……..that’s right, I never actually had a chance to finish it.  See I was sitting at home one day, our daughter was sick at home, when my phone rang and our adoption worker’s name popped up.  See after the home study is complete, there really are only 2 reasons they call you.  Either it’s a good thing or something is wrong.  I had fantasized for months about how I would react if/when she called with good news.  Would I burst into tears as the happiness poured into me, would I faint with excitement (hey it could happen), or would I play it calm and collected and just say “that’s cool”.  Ends up I had total brain lockup and really didn’t say anything for a few (very long) seconds.  Apparently it takes me a while to totally process things.  So I was in the middle of something when she called and thought to myself, I’ll call her right back.  Then I thought why is she calling and instantly a thousand thoughts filled my mind, the first of which was “no way” (it’s funny how fast your brain can think, I answered on the third ring).  So with my heart absolutely pounding I answered the phone.  She was wondering how our profile book was coming along (normal question, heart slows down), how far along in the book were we (heart calming, brain not overanalyzing too much), because the other worker was meeting with some birthparents the next day and wanted to show our profile (WHAT? Heart back to racing, self doubt sneaks in).  I let her know I had all the important stuff I wanted in there, but it hadn’t been prettied up yet.  She said to send her what we had and assured me whatever we had was fine.  Now to someone whose greatest fear is that no one will ever pick them, showing a half done profile book that surely had misspellings and hadn’t been “edited” was a daunting thing.  But we knew everything was in God’s hands.  I sent up a quick prayer that whoever was going to view it would just be blessed by it.  I prayed they would be confident in their decision and I prayed for peace for ourselves whatever their decision may be.  Then I clicked “send” and it was off.  Surprisingly, I really didn’t think much more about it through that night or the next morning until we had a message in our adoption portal that went something like this “book looks good.  Oh and by the way the expectant couple wants to meet you.”  There goes my heartbeat again.  Reread it and make sure you are reading it correctly.  Should I email and ask her if she’s sure?  Could she have misunderstood?  Why on earth after seeing the unfinished profile would they want to meet us?  So with my shaky hands (from a huge adrenaline dump) I called my husband.  As an aside can you imagine the physiological impact this continuous emotional up and down kind of thing can have on your body?  Sorry that’s the nerd in me.  So we agreed to meet the birthmother and birthfather of an unborn child.  Their circumstances and details are part of our child’s own adoption story to share themselves so I won’t be putting any of that out there in cyberland.  Think that’s enough for one post.  Believe me, meeting a birthparent is a blog post in itself…

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A combination of Woohoo and Ummmmm

     So the news we have been waiting for finally arrived yesterday.....our homestudy has been  approved! I really want to stay real to the ups and downs of this process so I will tell you my train of thought during those next few minutes (and it's still going on).

- Woohoo!
- Oh my, what have we gotten ourselves into?
- I need to start on our profile book
- What if no one picks us?
- Hmmm, guess I should let my husband know so he can be excited too!
- Do we tell the kids or wait until we get matched, knowing it could be tomorrow or three years from now?
- Why am I more panicky than excited?
- Wow, how would we manage if it was tomorrow?
- How would we handle waiting three years?
- Deep breath, God has this.
- Seriously, what if no one picks us!
- We can apply for some grants now, gotta get that paperwork in ASAP.
- This sure is a lot of paperwork.
- I feel totally unprepared and not ready!
- Remember Kristin always says "God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called"
- This is just like your other children, you weren't ready for them either and look how that has turned out :)
- This is all on His schedule, not mine
- But some notice in advance sure would be nice
- This is not anything I can solve (epiphany)----> (prayer), "Lord I give it to you and pray for your peace as we wait". Exhale and continue on with my day.

     Just a brief glimpse into the neurotic workings of my brain.  Please pray for us and for all families and children "waiting" right now to become forever families.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Humorous Observations of the Adoption Process from an Introvert

So many people have asked me about the homestudy/adoption process, so I thought I would summarize it in this post, along with some other observations from the perspective of an introvert.  I embrace my introvertedness with humor and self-awareness and look upon every conversation I have with other people as a chance to educate them on different aspects of adoption.

1.  Be prepared for complete strangers to want to discuss infertility options and treatments with you.  One lady was asking about our infertility and what treatments we had undergone as our 2 biological children came running out of the garage.

2.  When you mention infertility is not a concern, be prepared for friends and family to be surprised and wonder why you want to adopt then.  I just explain building our family through adoption is what we know God is calling us to do.  Adoption is for anyone with a heart for children who need a forever family.

3.  Trying to explain adoption to your 3 and 5 year old can be rather enlightening.  Our 5 year old is praying for a brother and a sister so he can name them Batman and Robin, respectively and our 3 year old is throwing pennies in fountains praying for God to give our family 100 babies!!!!

4.  Asking our 12 year old his feelings on adoption is heart wrenching when he explains orphans are children whose families couldn't take care of them ( I had no idea he knew what an orphan was) and heart warming when he volunteers to share his and his brother's room with a new sibling, nevermind the fact that we have a spare room.

5.  Divulging and summing up your entire life story with all its ups and downs in a five hour home visit is emotionally exhausting and left me feeling emotionally drained.

6.  However, the self-awareness and epiphanys you receive from examining your life are well worth it.

7.  People will want to know the race and nationality of the child you are adopting and will let you know their feelings on the subject and that's OK.  I let them know my feelings right back and use the opportunity to advocate for all children who need a home, regardless of race or nationality.

8.  The homestudy process is basically opening your life.  Your desires, disappointments, challenges, successes, values, and faith is laid open for all to see.  Oddly enough, for as private a person as I am, this too I found very therapeutic.  To look at my life and relationships, challenges and hopes and to see how I was made into the person I am today.  To see how those experiences molded me whether their purpose was to give me empathy or to strengthen me, all things were in His plan for me.

9.  Woe be to the unsuspecting person who asks how the process is going if I've had a particulary emotional day, haha.  I think that just comes with the territory.  And gratitude to the person who lets me spill how I am feeling and truly listens, offering support.

10.  Once you start talking with people about your experience, you might be amazed how many people have been touched by adoption in one way or another.  This is truly amazing!  We have chosen to be totally open about our journey and welcome anyone who wants to discuss it and we have learned so much about friends and complete strangers to know that we are not alone in this journey!

     Overall the homestudy has been an indepth examination into every aspect of our family's life both for my husband and I and for our adoption worker.  We have learned so much from this process and I know every experience will help to better prepare us for the road that lies ahead.

     Coming soon......our profile book!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Change in The View of Openness

     A two sentence paragraph totally changed the way I am looking at potential openness in our adoption.  I was reading the book “The Adoption Decision: 15 things you want to know before adopting” by Laura Christianson (Wonderful book by the way).  She was citing another adoption book by Betsy Keefer and Jayne Schooler.  The sentences were these

                “In the same manner that parents do not stop loving one child when another one enters the family, children have the capacity to love more than one set of parents.  They do not have to stop having feelings about their birth family just because they are part of an adoptive family”


Wow!  What a promise these sentences hold, both in my past and in my future.  If you remember earlier I spoke about my husband’s son who has been in my life since before he was 3.  If I had read these sentences back then, what a different outlook I would have had.  Instead of feeling like I was competing with his biological mom, I could have embraced his ability to love both.  I recognize now that it was my own doubts and insecurities about this new world of parenting which added to these feelings.  It wasn’t until my husband and I attended our adoption training that I really processed our current relationship with our oldest son's birth mother (my husband’s ex-wife) and her husband.  When we first started considering how “open” [how much contact we would agree to with the birthparent(s)]        we preferred our domestic adoption to be I admit I had great concern.  I felt I would be open to providing photos and updates on a set basis, but anything beyond that made me uncomfortable.  While sitting at that training, though, God began to stretch my heart and started to open it up to the possibilities.  He showed me how far we had come in our relationship with my husband’s ex-wife.  Over a time frame of 9 years, we have come from brief, terse conversations which were rarely positive to sharing the love of our precious son.  She and her husband are such a part of our extended family, it is truly amazing!  From birthday parties with both extended families to cheering at football games while he plays in the band, to joint parent/teacher conferences the way we working together to raise him is going well.  We even call them to babysit for our two if we are in a bind.  Our two biological children know them and look forward to seeing them, taking pictures with them and playing with them.  They know their brother has two mommies and two daddies and they have one mommy and one daddy.  When they ask why, I just explain that families are made all different ways and what God chose for them is different than their brother.  In this way, I feel so blessed to have this history and to have our children already exposed to the different ways families are created.  So at this training God reminded me of how far we had come in that relationship and how closed off I was being with consideration to a potential birthparents feelings and wishes. 

     So is the idea of having a birthday party with an adopted child and his/her birthparents and extended family still out of my comfort zone? Sure.  Am I more willing now, to have my boundaries stretched and to follow His plan for this adoption?  Absolutely, because He has shown me what can be accomplished when you love a child!  And the sentences above have released me from the feeling that I will have to compete for a child’s love, imparting instead His wisdom that a child is capable of loving more than one set of parents just as we are capable of loving more than one child!  And with joy,  she and her husband’s photos will be proudly shown in our family’s profile book.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wow, busy busy is the home study.  But in the meantime we have been able to get some great fundraising gear.  Check out our fundraising tab at the top of the blog for some beautiful jewelry and one of a kind T-shirts.  If you are an adoptive family interested in a great fundraising project, check out the Rescue One Project at Back to Africa .  Thank you so much for your support!!  It means the world to us.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

In The Quiet Times

     So I have been silent for a little bit but that was only because there were some things in the works.  About 6 months ago I decided to try and go on a 2 week mission trip to Zambia through Heart of the Bride to finally meet Mapalo.  I had wanted to go on this trip for 3 years, but it never seemed to be the right time.  So I prayed, raised money, prayed some more and received enough to go!  All of a sudden I understood why He had me wait.  She would have been so young before (2 instead of 5 now), I would not have been prepared spiritually, it would have been a rough first mission trip.  But I was ready now.  So many scenarios ran through my mind… I would see her, she would recognize me from our family pictures and she would run to me.  Or I would peek around the corner and just watch her, filled with love, until I introduced myself and we hugged.  All of my scenarios ended with me hugging her, crying with her, talking with her and sharing with her how much our family loved her and how much God loved her.  Then about 2 months before we left, my dream was shattered.  I was not going to be able to meet her and we would not be sponsoring her anymore.  This was out of the ministry’s control and it was just something that happened.  Believe me when I tell you I was devastated.  I cried, my heart ached, I was angry, I thought about not going, and I questioned Him in my despair.  Why?  After all this time and hope, Why?  After the anger subsided, I began to pray for clarity.  I accepted it was His will for me not to see her but why?  I still felt I was meant to go on the trip but I was searching for purpose.  I was still searching and praying when I boarded the plane on June 2, during the ensuing two days spent in the air and at airports, during a 15 hour flight and was still praying when we landed on a foreign continent.  I was frustrated and didn’t understand.  What was God’s purpose still bringing me to Zambia?  The poverty didn’t shock me, I had seen it in Haiti.  The living conditions didn’t shock me, I had seen that in Costa Rica. (I’m not saying they didn’t affect me, they didn’t shock me).  I prayed for his will to become clear to me while we worked with street boys, did outreach with street girls, shopped in the market, fellowshipped with new friends, sang worship and praise songs and met some wonderful young men who have been helped off the streets and are now living in a ministry house together.  For 10 days in a foreign country my heart prayed continually “What would you have me do” “What is it I am to take away from this place and your work here?” But mostly “Lord, why am I here?”  And for 2 months and 10 days, quiet nothing.

     But He is faithful and He hears our heart and answers in His time.  So there I am, brushing my teeth and getting ready to crawl in my mosquito netting for the night (Again, I really don’t make these up.  He speaks to me at odd times) when I hear Him.

  “You are here to say goodbye, let her go”

     So I broke down a little bit, not wanting to listen.  But I did and when I started listening some more I understood.  This is the short version.  Since being introduced to her, I had a vision, a desire, a want.  I wanted to bring her (to our) home.  I held on to that for such a long time.  Up until the week we left, even knowing I would not be seeing her, I was still checking the Zambia information site to see if they updated their adoption requirements.  Until God told me to let her go, I had no idea how tightly I had been holding on to the idea of her.  I was expending a considerable amount of time and energy in this vision, when it was not His vision for us.  I had to say goodbye and let her go in order to be able to devote my heart to His plan for us in this moment.  This wonderful domestic adoption path He has set us on.  I see now why my heart has not been fully open to the idea of domestic adoption He has placed in front of us; it was because a part of my heart was half a world away.  So I said a tearful goodbye in my heart and let the vision come to an end.

As it should be.

As is His will.

And felt peace…

     So I returned home and wouldn’t you know, with this new found direction and renewed strength, we have finished our Home Study paperwork.  Yeah, God is good.  It was put in the mail today and we have our 2 day mandatory training in 2 weeks, with home visits to follow in the near future.  I am humbled by what God can accomplish through me when I choose to surrender and follow.  And I feel hope…

Friday, May 11, 2012

  So we have formally changed to Domestic Infant Adoption!  Home study here we come.  Keep checking back for some really cool fundraising gear!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The (not so little) Change

     So the change....Remember when I said the plan was all laid out?  Well apparently that was my plan and not His.  Every once in a while, God brings me back to His plan and reminds me of that.  So when I called to check and make sure our adoption specialist received the application, we discussed some things and she told me she had been seeing a bit of an increased need in the area for domestic infant adoption.  I let her know I would talk to my husband and we would let her know either way, but I was totally not feeling it.  So what was once a set plan was turned on its ear again, just when I finally got my rear in gear and actually got started with the paperwork.  So let the inner voices and turmoil start again!  Luckily I had been through this before and knew which voice I needed to try and focus in on.  A part of me wanted to stomp and pout, we were on our path, we were doing good!  They other part of me was wondering, "I had received so many confirmations" Did God change his mind???  Something that stuck out was in our formal application one of the questions is "Are you willing to consider other countries if there is a need"  Obviously we answered yes and it occurred to me that would include our own country.  "But all the signs for China.." So after two weeks of the incessant back and forth in my mind, I finally listened to my husband.  "What" I'm sure you are asking, but surely you guys discussed this before you are thinking.  Yes we had, but I didn't listen.  So after two weeks of this I am sitting in the line to get my oil changed (Seriously, I don't make this up. My aha! moments occur in the weirdest places) and it occurs to me.  "Could my sign be as simple as wanting to honor and respect my husband's wishes"  Ahhhhh, peace.  See I knew what my husband's preference was; he has always wanted to go domestic.  That wasn't where I was feeling called so I forged ahead with my decision wihtout realizing this was a decision we had to be aligned on.  So I consulted with my "all things spiritual and adoption" related dear friend (who is so much more than that but I can't extoll all her virtues in a blog post!) and she verified what I was feeling as a change of heart that would align both of us to God's plan for our family.  So rarely does my husband have an opinion on anything, I try to pay attention when he does.  So we had the best discussion since deciding to adopt and talked about doing both China and domestic at the same time but decided that would not be financially responsible.  So the decision is.....We are going Domestic Infant Adoption!  I can't explain, but God's peace has been with me since I decided to respect my husband's opinion, no more voices or indecision.  Just....Peace.  So pray for us as we head down a different path and pray for God to move in my heart concerning this change.

     So what about China?  Why is it on my heart?  Why did I have all those confirmations?  Only God knows and I am excited to look back on this in 10 years and may be able to answer those questions, because he put it on my heart for some reason.  Maybe just not for right now.....

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Catching You Up

All right, so I have some news but it occurs to me that I can't tell you anything new until I have finished our back story.  So here is the abridged version.  After meeting with our pastor, my husband and I decided the next step was to meet with the agency.  My husband and I sat down with our calendars on a Thursday in March and figured, with my sister getting married in a few weeks, if we could not get a meeting the following day on Friday then it would be two months until everything settled down again.  So I called (really not holding my breath that she would be open the next day) and imagine my [not really] surprise to find out she was open.  The whole day.  Imagine that.  So we set the appointment, met with her and while still unsure about whether to go the domestic or international route, went ahead with the preliminary application for International adoption.  We were amazed to see we qualified for adoption from 8 or so countries.  We prayed continuously for a sign where we were supposed to go and a lack of one had us (meaning me) just making a choice.  The plight of "waiting children" in China really spoke to my heart and we decided to go that route.  We discussed it with our oldest son (10 at the time) and he not only knew what an orphan was but graciously offered to share his and his brother's room if it was a boy or his sister's room if it was a girl.  Nevermind that we have a spare room :)  So there we were, I had received confirmations we were on the right path with China and we were going full steam ahead.  I learned when everything is going according to your plan is usually when He reminds you of His plan.

     So now you are caught up and you know how we got where we are.  I will keep our timeline (find the tab at the top) updated with events so you can see our progress.  I love to read comments and to meet whoever reads this blog so make a comment or drop me a line here and tell me what you think!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Our Story Continued

     All right, so we covered Mapalo and how we weren't meant to adopt her.  So through a women's group in our church I met a very strong and awesome woman who has such a big heart for anyone in need.  She started an orphan care ministry who puts on quarterly seminars to educate people about adoption.  Visit Passion 127's site here.  I heard about the meetings and it interested me a little bit.  If I am being honest, a big part of it was thinking this woman was just so cool and seemed like a great person, I wanted to get to know her better! KB go ahead and laugh :)  The timing was never quite right so my husband and I ended up not going to the seminar until Spring 2011.  In between this time, I went on a mission trip to Costa Rica through our church, Grace Lutheran Destin and went to another Heart of the Bride gathering in December 2010 of which theme was "What will you do?"  More on mission trips later...  So we sat through this adoption seminar and my eyes were totally opened to the process.  For myself I thought the process went something like this- Decide to Adopt, Pick a Country, Fill Out Some Paperwork, Bring your Child Home, Rainbows and Butterflies.  That is totally not how the process goes.  First of all, there are a couple different adoptions for domestic (US) adoptions and regarding international (other country) adoptions, each country has its own requirements for the adoptive family.  I fully realize now, how arrogant my views were.  So we were educated and at the end of the seminar I felt it.  And it scared the heck out of me!!!! I remember looking at my husband (who was ready to bring them all home!) and saying with tears in my eyes "This is big" and he agreed.  So the seed which was planted with Mapalo over a year earlier sprouted.  My husband and I had some discussion regarding whether to go domestic or international.  He preferred domestic, I preferred international.  Over the next week, I had massive internal dialogue going on.  For every reason I could think of to adopt, there was a reason waiting right behind it telling me we shouldn't.  Then I got some confirmations out of the blue.  In one day three things happened.  A random search for my favorite song Hosanna yielded a blog about Hosanna: Our Ethiopian Adoption Story.  My mother also called and told me she had been looking at pictures and she thought we needed more children.  On that same day I was trading some books online and came across a woman's profile who said she was an adopted grandmother to many.  Wow!  God I'm listening...  I went to church that Wednesday night and afterwards I was sitting in my car when I had an "Eureka" moment.  The reason I was having such discord in my thoughts about adopting was because I was not listening to Him.   He had put it in our path to adopt and I was trying to argue with Him and tell Him all the reasons we could/should not adopt.  The reason I was having such turmoil in my thoughts was because I wasn't listening.  So I surrendered it to Him and told Him I was listening.  I was instantly at peace and the seedling grew a branch.

     The next step was to meet with our Pastor at the time who also had a heart for adoption.  Looking back now, I see the path He was leading us down and he was surrounding us with people who would support us and encourage us while we began this journey.  We discussed domestic and international adoption and also the different agencies to work with.  We decided on our adoption agency (click here if you want to discuss it with me privately) and another branch sprouted. 

     I think thats enough for now.  I shall continue the story later...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Discussion with "The Voice"

     Whenever people tell me they felt God telling them to do something, I always wonder “How do you know?”  I tend to overlook or overanalyze the subtle and sometimes it takes billboards smacking me upside the head for “A-ha” moments.  So I am trying to slow down and listen to the little voices and it is great, although I don’t always like what they say.  Took my little ones to the library like we do every Monday, and took a $5 bill inside because I knew I had some overdue fees.  When we were checking out the librarian said there were no fees, at least not on that card (they might be on my husband’s card).  A little puzzled we headed out to the parking lot, me still holding the $5 bill.  We walked to the car and I saw them.  2 old bicycles in a parking spot with all the owner’s worldly possessions on them and in tiny trailers that were being pulled by the bikes.  No one was around them, I suspect they belonged to two of many homeless men who spend time in the library.  I looked down and saw the $5 bill and heard “it”.  The voice that was telling me to go put it on the bike.  I stood there for a few minutes while the kids were putting seat belts on, looking between the money and the bikes, having a very unconvincing discussion with “the voice” about all the reasons I shouldn’t go put the money on the bike.

  “I can’t walk across the parking lot to do that”
  Why not
  “What if someone sees me and thinks I am taking something”
  “That won’t happen
  “What if they buy alcohol with it”
  “That’s not your decision
  “What if it blows away or they don’t see it”
  “Really? Just go do it”. 

     I got in the car and knew from experience if I did not listen to “the voice” I would be thinking for the next couple days about how I should have listened and  done it.  I drove over to the parking spot right next to the bikes and parked. And sat. And had another dialogue in my head because this was WAY out of my comfort zone.  I kept sneaking peeks to see where I could put it so they would see it but it would be too conspicuous.  Finally with a deep breath I  jumped out of the car and tucked it under a bungee cord that was holding a blanket on the back of one of the bikes and jumped back in the car.  As we were leaving the parking lot I stopped and said a prayer for the owners of those two bikes.  I prayed he would share the money with whoever the other bike belonged to, I prayed they knew they was someone who cared for them, I prayed they would use the money to get a bite to eat and I prayed for God’s peace to be around them and to provide for them.  At peace with the voice, we went about the rest of our night and I wonder….what can I take to the library for them next week?

What is the tiny voice telling you to do if you just would slow down and listen?

Friday, February 3, 2012

How it Started

     Never thought I would get to the point where I was writing down ideas for blog posts, but I actually have a notebook now.  Usually it's just a thought or two but I know I need to carry on with our story so here is what I consider the start....  On August 28, 2009, a good friend of mine had a Celebration of Life for her baby boy Jonathan, whom she was pregnant with at the time, who had Trisomy 13 and lived for a glorious 40 minutes after he was born.  You can read her blog here Jonathan's Journey .  She had a Celebration of Life for him where she asked people to bring gifts for a local ministry who has a huge heart for orphans all over the world.  Please go check them out here, Heart of the Bride.  So I brought some items, met some people from the ministry and was amazed at all they were doing.  I ended up holding a fundraising gathering for some of the orphans they serve and was so amazed at all the thoughtful people in my life who contributed.  Around Christmas time they had an annual gathering where you go and see what the ministry has been up to that year and what they are looking towards doing the next year.  I went and took my mom.  At this gathering they had a booth of children you could sponsor.  I walked by and a face jumped out at me.  She is a beautiful, little girl named Mapalo (her name means Blessing).  She was 3 years old at the time and lives at the Sara Rose Home (orphange) in Zambia, Africa.  I didn't think we would be able to spare the funds to sponsor her so I walked on.  Her smile stayed in my mind throughout the discussions and presentations.  I finally went back to the table to pick up her picture (they allow 1/2 and 1/3 sponsorships also) and panicked when I couldn't find it.  It was her, it was meant to be her!  I asked the lady where it was and she found it.  I stepped out in faith and said we would fully sponsor Mapalo.  I held her picture the rest of the night and was so excited to come home and tell my husband about her.  But there was one consistent thought in my mind that wouldn't go away.  One question I knew my husband would ask me as soon as I showed him the picture.  So with shaking hands, and a head saying I really did not want to ask this question, I walked up to the lady working the booth and asked.  "Can these children ever be adopted?"  I asked for my husband but I see now that God was planting a seed.  We discussed her situation and I learned Zambia is not a country who currently follows Hague Convention guidelines.  Basically, at least 1 of the parents has to live in Zambia for a minimum of 12 weeks before the government might possibly consider the parents adopting a child.  They have this in place to protect the children from trafficking and to prove the parents intent behind adopting, I understand, but it was totally unrealistic for our circumstances.  There are very few sucessful adoptions from Zambia by Americans.  So I had my answer and went home.  I came in the door, overflowing with emotions and so touched from seeing all this ministry does.  I showed my husband the picture of Mapalo and he said exactly what I knew he would say "When can we bring her home?"  I explained the situation and conditions and he listened.

     A few weeks later I was still thinking about it and we made an appointment to speak with our Pastor.  We met with him and explained how impossible it seemed.  I asked him "Why would God introduce us to this child if we were unable to bring her home?"  He smiled and said maybe it was His way of opening us up to the thought of adoption.  He told a story of a mission trip he went on and he desperately wanted to bring one of the children home.  It was not feasible but he believed it was God preparing them for the choices they would make down the road concerning adoption and their family.  I didn't see it, but OK, maybe we're just meant to sponsor her and to help her that way.  Although I thought we could help her a lot more if we could adopt her.  And being totally honest, I was just thinking about the adoption because I knew my husband would like to, I wasn't there yet.  God still had some work to do.

     That's all for now, but there is more to come.  We still fully support Mapalo (God is good) and she is growing so much!  Looking back I can see the path so clearly, but looking forward at the time, I had no idea.  How ignorant we are sometimes to God's greater purpose for us...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

You Are Not Alone

I will keep writing about the beginning of our journey soon, but there has been a recurring theme this week that I feel I want to address first.  Whoever you are and whatever you are feeling, you are not alone!  In the past week I have learned a friend suffers from the same paralyzing fear of dying as I have.  Another friend is afraid she isn't a very good mother, hmm sound familiar?  The bible study I started this week at Rocky Bayou Baptist Church is one about breaking free.  Breaking free of whatever is holding you, whether it is shame, fear, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness, pride, whatever it is that is keeping you from experiencing all that God wants to give you; joy, peace, a humble heart.  You would never know all that you have in common with the people around you.  Now you will not see a whole lot of Scripture in my blogs, for the plain reason that I am still fairly new to this recommitment of my faith and am not very well versed in Scripture enough to link it.  I am always open to any suggestions though :) .  What does touch me deeply and stay in the front of my mind is music.  I listen to KLove exclusively and am constantly encouraged by the music I hear.  So I wanted to share some encouragement for something you may be feeling right now through songs that still give me goosebumps every time I hear them.

When you are feeling ashamed because of past sin: Be encouraged that God has cast that sin as far away from you as the east is from the west

When you are feeling like you are inadequate or unworthy:  Know that you are beautiful to God just as you are, with all your faults and imperfections.  He made you and knows the wonderful things he has in store for you.

When you are suffering from grief:  I pray that you will know He has his arms wrapped around you and I pray you will feel his peace and comfort

If you are questioning adoption in any form:  A reminder that we are all adopted by Him

If you are anxious about starting something new or need to take a leap of faith:  Just go for it!!

And while I haven't found my "life verse" yet, I have found my life lyric

Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like You have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am for Your Kingdom's cause
As I walk from earth into eternity---- "Hosanna" by Hillsong United

Friday, January 6, 2012

Darkness and Doubt

     Yesterday was a bad day.  The darkness started small a few days ago.  A little bit too much on my plate, a little too little sleep.  It escalated to 5 piles of clean clothes, needing folded and put away, housekeeping that needed to be done.  Several events in the next two months I need to get ready for.  It grew to a birthday party I forgot to plan, was egged on by a three year old who did not want to go to sleep and screamed for a half hour and exploded when I checked voicemail from the day before and discovered my kids missed a dental cleaning that I had absolutely no memory of making six months ago.  The darkness told me I was a crummy mom, "How could someone forget their child's dentist appointment".  I was a failure as a mother, my husband deserved to have all his clean clothes folded in his dresser, I should have read my daughter a book to ensure she was properly winded down before putting her to bed.  "They deserve a better mother" and then doubt delivered a blow that crushed me "Why would anyone entrust another child to you?  You can't even handle your own."  This is not a new thought, it is one I struggled with for weeks when we were first considering adoption, but more on that later.  Last night I gave in to the darkness and doubt and went to bed crying, discouraged, beat down, and disappointed in myself for letting down the little ones God has entrusted to me.  Do I know where those thoughts and feelings came from?  I sure do and it wasn't from my God.  My God is loving, patient, and kind.  He is an encourager, supporter and a solid rock of strength.  It wasn't his voice whispering these doubts in my head and fanning the flames of insecurity and worthlessness.  It was the other one, the enemy, who was stealing the hope and joy that God had given me about adopting.  So he won, but not for long.  After getting in car this morning to make my commute into work, I heard Casting Crowns "The Voice of Truth" on Klove radio.  It was exactly what I needed to remind me that what I heard wasn't His voice.  His word is forgiving, encouraging and brings hope.  The song says
And the voice of truth says "Do not be afraid!"
And the voice of truth says "This is for My glory"
      So I am renewed by His word; my hope in where His journey is leading us is once again restored.  My joy in wondering about the child God has chosen for us is back.  Will this be the last time those thoughts try and steal my hope?  No, but it gets easier and easier to invite God's peace into my thoughts and chase the darkness and doubt away, leaving room for His voice of truth.  In case you haven't heard it, here you go.  I pray it encourages you in whatever obstacle you are trying to overcome today.  By the way, the next three songs in the car? Jason Gray's "Remind Me Who I Am", Hillsong United's "Hosanna" (my favorite song ever), and finally Mandisa's "Good Morning".

Monday, December 12, 2011

My Dream

I mentioned my dream in my initial blog so here it is...where it all began and how He called me back to Him.  I can count on my fingers the number of people who know about this, even though it's been over three years.  I wished I could share it more, but I still get very emotional and it's hard to get out.  I don't believe this is something to be kept in, these are experiences He wants us to testify to and to share with others, so I will try my best to put into words the awesomeness of this dream.  This happened on Easter Sunday of 2008.  After some snuggling with my husband, I fell asleep for a little nap.  I have always had vivid dreams so I don't think I thought anything of it when I began to dream of swimming in a vast body of water.  All of a sudden something was coming after me.  A huge mass of a monster, without an identifiable shape or form, was chasing with me.  This thing was so dark and I knew instinctively it was pure evil.  Frantically trying to get away, I became aware of two men swimming beside me. (note--If I were telling you this story, this is where I officially become a blubbering fool)  As we continued swimming, I notice one of the men is staying by my side and swimming with me away from the thing as the other man is getting farther and farther behind, presumably to be consumed by the thing.  I reach land safely with the man by my side and, turning to him, I ask "Who was that who just basically sacrificed themselves to save me?"  With four words I will never forget, he simply said "That was my son".  (My fingers are shaking as I relive this) I knew in the deepest part of my soul this was God.  This was God who had saved me from the evil thing through the sacrificing of His son, Jesus.  I knew it and believe it with a certainty and clarity that still floors me.  At that point I woke up with tears streaming down my face, just sobbing.  My husband came in, comforting me and trying to figure out what was wrong.  The funny thing is, nothing was wrong, everything was so right.  I was so full of life and light at that point, I felt I could conquer the world.  Through all the wonderfulness of trying to tell a story while being that emotional, I told my husband what happened.  He just smiled and said "What took you so long?"  He held me until I was somewhat calmed down and I asked him what am I supposed to do with this?  Does He want me to become a missionary in some foreign country?  Why me?  We talked a little bit more and resumed our Easter festivities.  Back at work, I knew immediately who I needed to go talk to about this.  A coworker and good friend of mine had always been vocal and steadfast about his faith.  His faith being a beacon of light to me reminds me of the song by Nichole Nordeman "How the lost get found", but I digress.  I went to him and told him about my dream.  He listened and though no interpretation was needed, he put it in context for me.  He asked if he could share it with his pastor and I told him that was fine.  He later presented me with a Bible he and his wife bought for me, had my name on it and everything :) That Bible has now been on mission trips to Costa Rica and Haiti, but more on that later.  My husband and I later met with that pastor who wrapped us in God's love and we subsequently found our church home at Grace Lutheran Church.  We joined the church and I was baptized in the water where my journey began (figuratively since my dream was about water).  As a footnote I will add that we later discovered our daughter was conceived that morning, against 99.9% effectiveness odds, and her due date was Christmas Day.  Let me be the first to tell you, I didn't need a bigger billboard than that.

The thing I remember about telling non-family my story is they always wish they would get something like this.  But since my dream I have realized, it's not always about billboards.  Those are few and far between.  Sometimes its a postcard and sometimes its a post-it note, you just have to keep your heart and eyes open.  Whether it is the right song at the right time being played, a friend calling you when you need it most just because they were thinking of you, or its hummingbird towels at your wedding shower, He is talking to you in a special way and you know what he is saying, just listen and feel His peace.

 I am sure I have gone well over the proper blog length but I want to challenge you to listen and see what He is telling you today...

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Wednesday morning we took our five year old to have his ear tubes removed.  We knew he would have to undergo anethesia and a small surgery procedure, as parents we were a wreck, worried about what could happen.  My son taught me about true faith that day.  4:30 am we carried him out to the waiting car, still in his pajamas, wrapped in a blanket (it was chilly), and left for the hospital.  He woke up slightly and groggily asked where we were going.  We told him we were going to see the doctor and the doctor wanted to look in his ears.  Expecting a barrage of questions, I was astonished when he simply said "OK" and went back to sleep.  That was it?  It was that simple to him?  As an adult I would have asked, "Why are we going to see a doctor when it is still dark outside.  I am still wearing my pajamas, havent brushed my teeth?  What's really going on?"  Not him.  He trusted us, as his parents, so completely that he simply said "OK" and went back to sleep.  I envy that complete faith and trust, it is something I struggle with in my day to day life.  I strive to have that kind of unquestioning faith in God and his plan for me.  I know it is what He expects, commands and for a long while to come, I will remember that morning and will do my best to tell Him "OK", without hesitation, doubt, or questions.
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