Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Anxious

Father...
My heart feels anxious, today. No real reason. Just another case of the I-want-it-my-way-right-this-minute blues. You know the kind. Most of  humanity lives there. I don't know what you're doing...I don't know the plans you have for me or my family. But, I'm making a choice to trust you. Right now; right this minute. I am choosing Jesus. 

That's it. Just wanted you to know.

Signed,
Your daughter (the one whose heart is always getting ahead of her)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ty & Baby Jesus

I am a reflector. Not the bicycle sort, of course, but rather the thoughtful, retrospective kind. Watching our baby boy morph into a running, laughing, tackling buddy is more than enough inspiration.

Seeing him develop, right before my eyes, is the greatest privilege I've ever been given. When I see him cover his mouth to cough or put his clothes in the hamper, I know he's refinery in the making.  Our latest tradition involves the story of Christmas, which proudly boasts Jesus at its center. Ty has this puffy-people advent calendar (made by Fisher Price) and each night we pull a manger member from its pocket and place it appropriately in the stable. Baby Jesus is in pocket 25 and every night we share in his coming birth day.

I emphasize how special Baby Jesus is and that he deserves our love, lavishly. These quiet teachings have resulted in exuberant Ty-bursts throughout the day..."Bb-ee Jeesa! Bb-ee Jeesa!" he'll say and smatter the puffy pillow with kisses, before swiftly tucking him back in pocket 25. The warmness he causes to spill from my heart is too good for words.

I know it's simple, not-fully comprehending, love. But it's still love. And its existence gives me much hope for my little man's future. Not only do I aspire for him to chase after his heavenly father with all of the breath he contains, I want him to love people with the same intensity.

Ty's words are starting to flow more frequently and name variations of loved ones have ensued. He's so proud of himself when he says "Jo Jo Jo Jo" for Uncle Joe or "Do" for Uncle Drew. Phone talking has become more than a novelty and we make more frequent bedtime calls than ever before. All of these progressions make me excited for Rebekah.

She, of course, is a normal conversation piece in our home, but I know Ty has little understanding of what we're saying. I'm looking forward to the coming year's changes and the chance Ty will have to re-bond with his mom.

I know that I can't make things happen...that I can't force him to love and adore Rebekah, but my hope is that he'll live in the overflow of Ben and me. That he will love her because we love her. That he'll pray for and pursue her because we do.

I'm also hoping that this will be the year of the sibling (smile). We've had a few expectant moms inquire about our willingness to adopt, this year, but so far they have all made choices to parent (which we respect, understand, and encourage). Unless God has other plans, we'll begin the foster adoption licensing process next summer. We really want to honor birth order, so we may need to wait a long time...but I'm still holding out hope that Ty will have a playmate before next year's end.

If only he knew just how much we depend on "Baby" Jesus....

I will say, it's so much easier to trust God's hand-picking for our family this time around. Such a wonderfully, peaceful place to be.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A New Ty Video

It's been awhile since I've posted a video. I thought you might like to check in on the little man and see how fast he's growing! Ty's new favorite word is go and he uses it, appropriately, in every possible situation. If for some reason, we're not able to give him a convincing answer, his tender heart goes from concerned to distraught in seconds!

I am in love with his inquisitive spirit and his attention to detail (as you're about to see) never ceases to amaze me. I'm a busy little bee making many o' Christmas gifts, so I'll have to update you on life and love, later.

Enjoy the clip!

video

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ben and Barren


I'm not ready to hold a flapping, white flag, while wearing an I heart barrenness tee, but God has really worked the spirit of thankfulness into my life. Every year that I can remember, my mom makes us go around the turkey table and share the thanks in our hearts. This year, Ben and barrenness topped the list.

Naturally, Ty is an obvious joy-product of such a struggle, but my thanksgiving runs deeper. If it weren't for my barren belly, I would not be the kind of mom, wife, or God-child that I've been called to be. I see the fullness of that, now, and man! am I thankful. I'm even thankful for being thankful! The number of years wasted in deep-trenched, ungrateful pain were too many. But like most things in life, the aftermath clarity is perceptible.

My Ben is always on my long list of thanks, but this year he gets an extra measure. The man is a complete God-send. Long papers and late-night exams have consumed my life for months and Ben has never complained about the slack. He's cleaning, cooking, and grocery-ing, every week, and his double-duty efforts don't go unnoticed. When I think of all the peaks and valleys our young eight year marriage has endured, song can't help, but erupt from my heart. God is so good.

Every other week, I threaten to quit my MBA program and every other week Ben encourages me to stay strong. He, continually, strokes the embers of our family vision, while keeping the pantry well stocked with Oreos. 

I often wonder how any other man would put up with my intense passion and quirky habits. He's not at-all intimidated by my drive and doesn't flinch at the thought of adopting ten kids. How did I get so lucky? 

In a season of giving thanks and in the shadow of a horrifying event (please read and encourage sweet Vee), my heart spills over thankfulness for the barren belly that brought me Ty and for the love of the Father that brought me Ben.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Family of Three

Life is good. I mean really good. My heart has taken residence in the deepest level of content and the security in that is refreshing. I absolutely want a bigger family and am excited about the future adoption possibilities that exist,  but I am also enjoying every minute I have with my family of three.

Ty, of course, has always felt like a part of our family, but as he begins to really communicate and tease and engage, our family dynamic has really changed. Tonight we spent a solid hour wrestling on the floor, just the three of us. His peals of laughter are proof enough that God exists. There's just nothing like it.

Being a mom has taught me so much about who God is and how he loves. Ty has a wicked anger streak that takes him from 0 - 10 in a second in a half, yet he's also one of the most tenderhearted little boys I've ever seen. Parenting him has been such a privilege and I love the person God is shaping me to be. So many characteristics are sharpening into facets that never existed pre-motherhood.

People often tell me how strong my faith is....but, I have to answer with - "Yeah, now." There were a lot of dark, bitter, and raging days pre-Ty. I questioned anything and everything that God ever told me, showed me, or put in my heart. In the days leading up to Rebekah's first contact, I had run over faith like a dirty sweatshirt and was barely functioning as a shell. [If you're in that spot, today...please know that it's temporary].

God is faithful.

I really can't view him any other way, this side of adoption. Some days I get anxious about the fogginess of our future (releasing control is a major weakness), but then my ever-present sign of goodness shares his cookie with me and I see clearly, again.

I know that we're not "in the clear" for hardships. I know that heart bleeders will hit again, but right now, in these days of peace, I'm soaking in all that God has done for us. I'm filling up.  We won't always be a family of three; Ty won't always have our undivided attention and I'm very conscious of the fact. If I knew 5 years ago what I know, today, I wouldn't have spent a minute more crying over emptiness. I would have squeezed fullness from life and hung my hat on a solid peg of hope. That's the attitude I'm trying to live out, today.

Not only does God have my heart and plans in control, he gives me clearance to enjoy and live the right-now moments. We may have two or six or ten children. It might take us a month or eight or a hundred 'n five to get there. But, tonight, I was reassured with little back pats and bubble-gum brushed, sloppy kisses that God holds our days in his hands.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Unadoptable

The smile on this kid lights up the world.

Call it morbid, but sometimes I think about what my life would be had we not adopted Tyrus. It makes me well every time. Obviously, we had many childless years, but the presence of Ty has returned them to us as his laughter and growling take up so much room. Imagining him with another family, even Rebekah and her family, is too much to bear. He is a part of us, now, and the undoing of what's been done is too inconceivable to think about.

Ben and I carry those thoughts into our conversations about foster adoption. We've been talking about it a lot.

There are so many children waiting for families and there is a great urgency in my heart to do something. And by something I don't simply mean adopt as many children in our lifetime as possible (although that's coming!) These kids need advocates. They need voices shouting their names from rooftops and families enveloping their hearts in love. I've been hearing and reading stories that would make your lunch turn. A daughter missing feet because her "mother" left her on a snowy porch, in only her underwear, for hours at a time. A son that was thrown out the window in a fit of rage. A Ukrainian orphan that was deemed unadoptable by her country.

I heard a message, this week, on the love of our Father that produced such violence in my spirit, I had a difficult time functioning through the rest of my day. I walked away shouting, Lord, there is no man, woman, or child on this earth that is unloved, unwanted, or unadoptable. No exception. Yet, the world and church alike, prove me otherwise, every single day...

There are so many things I could say, here, but I want to keep this specific to what the Lord's showing me toward adoption. I've been chewing on my prayer for the last two days and I realized, tonight, that unadoptable labels exist...because families like ours use them. Ouch.

Sure, we get a gold star for even considering foster adoption in the first place. A red one for looking at sibling groups and even a green one for embracing diversity, but what about adopting a child over the age of 12? Unadoptable. A baby addicted to methamphetamine? Unadoptable. A teenager that has severe emotional or health issues? Unadoptable.

The reality is that these kids are labeled unadoptable because there are few families willing to adopt them...including mine.

That was a pretty hard pill to swallow, tonight. Yes, more families should be concerned about the foster crisis in our country. Yes, more adoptive families should be willing to look outside of domestic adoption. But, I can't change the hearts of other families...I can only work on mine.

Tonight, I'm saying, Lord, change me. Help me look at all children as your children. Affix new labels on their heads.

I stand by my initial prayer. Through the eyes of Christ - unloved, unwanted, and unadoptable children do not exist. If only the rest of us could see the world that way...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Happy Birthday Rebekah!

Since Ty can't sing Happy Birthday, yet, we had to show off the tricks he can do!

video 


video 

We love you so much, Rebekah, and hope you feel all kinds of wonderful, today!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Joy in Color


Joy and gladness in full measure. Complete and overflowing.
                                                                                                           ~ John 15:11

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Looking for Input

I am gearing up to attend a strategic planning seminar, this weekend, for a local foster adoption agency/ministry that is in the final stages of becoming licensed.  You will definitely be hearing more about this from me in the days to come, as I'm super excited to be a part of something so cool. The mission of this group is simple: Bring Christian families and waiting children together. They've committed to providing no-fee adoption services, education, and support programs that tear down walls to adoption. It's important to note, here, that I'm talking about foster care adoption - meaning, the children you would consider adopting are "waiting children;" parental rights have already been terminated.

Here's what I'd like to know from you (all off you) and I'd really like you to answer honestly, without holding back. I'm going to take all of your comments to the seminar, this weekend, so that we have a pulse on how families really feel about adopting through foster care.

Here's what I'd like to know:
  • Have you or would you consider foster care adoption?
  • If the answer is "no," what are your reasons/reservations? 
    • Is there something specific that would change your answer (i.e. If I had a larger house with more bedrooms)?
  • If the answer is "yes," do you have concerns?
    • What kind of support would help ease those concerns?

I really appreciate and value your input. Feel free to send me a personal email, if you'd like your answers to remain private. I look forward to sharing more about this initiative!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Answering Comments

Looks like this is becoming our set time together. I like it. I look forward to it. It's Sunday night...my homework finished, the house clean, laundry done, one little boy sleeping, one big boy watching football...quiet time for me.

I wanted to address a few comments in my last post, some I allowed; one I did not.

I had two anonymous comments that were very much in the same vein. The first said... I think the constant contact might be good for Ty but not for the two of you. Maybe you should just update her once a year or so... and the second...If the adoption was closed then maybe you would not have all these feelings and feel like you are upsetting Rebekah. I think that open adoption must be too much for you.

I allowed both comments because although I find them self-protecting, I don't think they were written in meanness.  It wasn't all that long ago that I was on the other side of adoption. Some of the words in my earlier posts make me cringe, knowing what I know now. For Ben and I, the door of adoption was one full of hope and eagerness. I, admittedly, spent more time thinking about the future of our family than about the woman who would be making that happen. It wasn't until we met Rebekah that reality hit, swiftly. Knowing that, allows me to lend grace, easily, to those not walking this path. Our culture has not been educated on adoption. In most realms it's still a hush-hush topic. I can say that, confidently, because most people get uncomfortable when I tell them Ty is adopted. I don't have rules about where and when I share that information, but it does come out naturally (and often) because it's so much apart of our family. 

Back to the above comments. If the relationship we had with Rebekah was rough and uncomfortable, even controlling, we would still pursue open adoption. Being a good mom is about doing what is best for your children - no matter how it makes you feel. Rebekah considered her feelings when contemplating adoption, but her preference for her children (all of them) trumped the breaking in her heart. Her example is one I strive for; I want to love Tyrus the way she does. To say contact might be good for Ty, but not for the two of you is contradictory of love. If it's good for Ty, it's good for us. Of course, keeping Rebekah at arms length would have been easier at times, but there is freedom in truth. When it's all laid out in the open - when no secrets or animosity exist - when love is the motivator, God can do anything. Just look at what he's done in our family. I'm allowed to think and feel and wonder. Everybody does. I just choose to expose my stirrings here, for all of you to read. I choose to do it because I know God is using me to help change the face of open adoption.

I would also like to say that I agree with Ms. Anonymous. Open adoption is too much for me. Any love you see portrayed or displayed in my life is from one source alone...and nothing is too difficult for him.

Anonymous commenter #3 did not get her words posted because they were mean and malicious and received nothing but a big eye roll from me. All I want to say is that abandoning mothers are mothers women that leave babies in dumpsters and let perverse boyfriends have free rein in there homes. Tyrus will never use those words in conjunction, when describing Rebekah. Enough said.


 The last response is to a question that Love You Already posted. She talked about having a strong bond with her daughter's birth mother in the beginning, but then life took over and their family solidified. She wrote...It's only been within the last few days that I've started to face the same reality you write about. It's not an easy truth to accept...I try to have the same, open heart...but I am hurting. Do you hurt too?

Such an honest question and one I'm happy to answer. When it comes to Ty's adoption, my relationship with Rebekah, and my security as his mother, there are no hang-ups. No hurts. I never wonder about why I couldn't carry him or why it had to be this way. It took us a long time to process our infertility and allow God to fully heal our hearts, but once we were able to see clearly, we knew that God had us on this road for a reason. There aren't many families doing what we are doing...and he needs us, especially in the foster adoption arena.

That being said...I hurt. Most days my heart is in a state of rest, but there are triggers that threaten to take me back to dark places and they're unpredictable. Sometimes a friend getting pregnant with #2 or #3 is no big deal and sometimes it's a crushing blow. Sometimes I can be in a room of mothers swapping pregnancy stories and sometimes it makes me want to run. Sometimes I can pack Ty's items away in anticipation on what's to come and sometimes I weep over the loss I feel, not knowing if I'll see them again.

There are other things that always sting - women talking about "trying" (as if it's no big thing), teen pregnancy, rough home lives, ungrateful parents, etc. I hope that one day this part of my heart will turn off. I hope that our family is so large that infertility is a near-forgotten past, but for now, it remains a constant thorn. I'm reminded every month at what my body should be able to do and can't.

Most days I'm pretty good at taking thoughts captive, remembering God wrote my future, and enjoying life as it is. Don't ever beat yourself up for feeling sad or uncertain. It's life. Just keep pressing on and know that new days will always come.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Adoption: The Two-Faced Beast

Oh, how I miss you. This place. Be assured, I'm still writing...it just has nothing to do with passion or heart or dark-eyed boys, but everything to do with process improvement, customer voice, and integrated enterprise. I know, right? Gag me. I have been working on a case study for hours, this week, and am indulging in a much needed break to spend some time, here. I definitely should be doing laundry or dishes or scraping God knows what off the sticky kitchen floor, but what's one more night?

I would much rather free my head from all it's garbled thoughts and heart stirrings. There are a few things that I've been meaning to write about for weeks, now. While I can't super-woman all of it tonight, there is a chain of conversations that took place in our household, this week, that I'd like to open up.

I looked at Ty the other day in his big-boy haircut and mischievous, I'm-about-to-do-something-you-won't-like smile, and immediately saw Rebekah's youngest son, Sky. I mean clear as day; they look so similar. I instantly felt this pierce in my heart for Rebekah and wondered how she was doing. Not in a how's-your-day-going kind of way (we keep up with that pretty good), but rather, is-your-heart-bleeding-for-your-son-today.

It's easy to get caught up in life and family and activities, but when the noise fades, I often think of Rebekah. I can't ever imagine doing what she did. I can't. I can't even fathom the mix of emotions that must fill her heart. Ty has the perfect adoption. In the world of adoption, if it must exist, we've all received God's best in each other, but... it's still adoption.

After seeing Sky in Ty, my next stream of consciousness jumped to Ty's high school graduation. Will Rebekah hold my hand, cheering the loudest, as our boy walks across the stage...or will she smile, quietly, as her heart weeps over the moments she's missed?

Within a couple days of feeling such conflicting thoughts I received this note in an email from Rebekah:

I actually felt that "pit" in my stomach again when I saw those pictures today. He just looks so much like Victoria did when she was little. It's those flashback moments that make my head spin. Most of the time I'm stuck in a world wind of my life that I don't have time to sit and think that I'm a birth mom.

This is adoption.


On the silver lining side, I'm so grateful for the honesty in our relationship. I love that we can talk and write to each other without pretenses and void of insecurities on what the other mother might be thinking.

But then there's the other side.

The side that reads those words and never wants to adopt again. The side that has seen more reality than I bargained for. This will never go away. Hear me when I say this, I am raising another woman's child.  Not thinking of her will never be an option. She will always be family; always be present; her emotions always preferred.

I know she's not wallowing in hurt or chasing every minute with pain. God has given her much grace; much strength.  But the loss will always be grafted in her heart. Time doesn't heal that wound.

I know foster care adoption tends to bring a justice that isn't needed in domestic adoption, but I still wonder if I'm ready to open the door again. I don't want women to experience adoption pain and loss and devastation.

Such a two-faced beast.

Of course, women will continue to choose adoption - some out of desperation, necessity, coercion, guilt, etc.  Whatever the reason, I know on our end, God has asked us to be open. He has asked us to walk this path, somewhat blindly. I have no idea what our near or far future looks like or how our family will take shape.

Sometimes I wonder if I spend too much time thinking. Too much time chewing on adoption. But, all I can say is this. The more I see Rebekah, the more I see my God. I see his love through our story. Not just his love for me and Ty and our new extended family. I see his love for his people. The great throb in Rebekah's heart toward her son, pales in comparison to the thumping in God's for us.

Doesn't that make you awestruck?

My prayer for our future family is that God would bring us children (with families) that need him. A little love on legs, if you will. He has equipped us to do this work and there is much to be done.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Baby to Boy

Thank you for all your kind emails as so many of you have been checking in on me. We're still here! My MBA program started up again, this fall. Between homework and a promotion at work, I'm barely treading water and fighting the urge to quit school - I'm too close to the finish line.

Blogging has taken a back to seat to my thesis and class work, but I'll come back.

Ty is exceptional. Just when I think my favorite month of him just passed, a new one comes along. I love the independent spirit that is emerging. He knows just want he wants and doesn't let boundaries hold him back (my kind of man). His ability to comprehend what we're saying without the ability to talk back, astounds me. I love the proudness in his eyes at locking his blocks together or hitting the golf ball with his club (Daddy's doing!) I love the sing-songy way he says "no-no-no-no-no" or "uh-oh" when something falls on the floor. I love that even though he knows many animal sounds, he insists they all say "moo" when he actually sees one in real life. I love that he can eat as many sliders as I can and that he has Arsenio Hall's "hoo, hoo, hoo" perfected - arm and all.

I'll leave you with a few impromptu pictures after Ty's first barber shop haircut, this weekend. It instantly took him from baby to boy...


Love this kid.

Monday, August 30, 2010

"It's love on legs."

What distance would you go to love? I mean it. What imaginary lines have you traced in your mind that mark the "too far" scenario?

A reoccurring theme between God and me, this year, has been love. There's a wonderful strangeness that comes in walking with God. We walk and walk and walk, but then (sometimes suddenly) I think to look back. It's about that time I realize I haven't been paying attention. I didn't notice crossing over my zone of comfort. I didn't realize we stepped over the world-will-think-this-is-crazy border and I find myself smack dab in the middle of a situation, that really doesn't seem like a "situation," because God and I set up camp a long time ago and are far past the roasting smors stage.

I've mentioned it before that I work at a small Christian college. Tomorrow happens to be our first day of classes and our campus minister, Adam, has picked an incredibly telling, for my life, theme, this year - Let Justice Roll Down. If you're anything like me, you think that sounds wonderfully poetic, but have no idea what it actually means. I only heard a five minute blurb on Adam's vision for the year, but it was enough to start a spark in my heart...

I actually had to look up the word justice because the context it was used in didn't fit my pea-brain understanding of its depth. The definition that Adam attached to justice came from Cornell West: "Justice is what love looks like in public. It's love on legs." And the scripture that bookends our theme is Amos 5:24, "But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream."

For some reason my head only equated justice with God's wrath and Old Testament destruction. But in actuality, righteousness is embedded in its definition, love-living at its core.

On Sunday, our pastor told a story of a grandmother who loved to hold her spoon of sugar under the stream of incoming coffee and that she routinely filled her cup to overflowing. So much so, that she always had to sip the extra off her saucer. His point in telling the story was that this woman lived her life the same way she drank her coffee - overflowing.

Don't you want to live your life that way? I sure do.

For the privacy of the young woman who was all but a stranger to me weeks ago, I cannot give you the details of what God has been calling me to do or how he's been driving me to pray, but your mouth would drop if you knew the ins and outs of the ledge I've been walking.

Tonight, Ty let me rock him to sleep. He hugged me securely with his sweet cheek against my chest. I started out singing softly and his chubby little hand kept gently touching my lips. His eyes held my gaze the entire time. I didn't care about bed time. I didn't care about the dishes in the sink or the homework that needed to be done. I rocked and sang and prayed. I reminded Ty of all the people in his life that love him so much (including all of you!) and spoke words of greatness over his future. This swell came over my heart and tongues just poured over him (Yup. I'm one of those). I prayed in tongues for well over an hour. Ty had long since fallen asleep, and as my feet rocked back and forth I knew justice had rolled out.

From next door neighbors to late-night snugglers, God has called us to justice. He has equipped us to be the legs of love, to be his son in flesh. Smash the box, erase the lines of distinction, and ask God to breathe on you. 

Only good can come from allowing God to pour his never-ending streams of love through you and into others.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Getting Older


I turned 29 this week and I'm pretty happy about it.

A lot of people have asked me if it was difficult with the "dreaded" three-oh right around the corner, if I'll have a hard time letting go of my twenties, etc, etc. The truth is, I love getting older, and even more than that, I love the life I'm living right now.

The older I get the more sure I am of what's truly important in life and I soak it in. Sure, I may have packed away the short skirts and cutoff shorts, but what I traded them in for has so much more value...motherhood. For the first time in my life, I see very outward signs of evolution in my heart, mind, and spirit and it spurs me on to do more and be more. I love that.

I'm less concerned about what other people think of me and run hard into the purposes God has paved before me.

I definitely was that mom that wanted all her kids popped out by 30, but God has shown me such a bigger picture of what he's called our family to be. And truth be told, I hope we still have kids into our 50's and 60's. There are so many unwanted, "unadoptable," orphans out there that need families...and we're a family.

One of the facts that hit my heart, this weekend, is that I will have started and ended my twenties married to Ben. I love that. I love him. When I shared this with my pedicurist, yesterday, and how much I look forward to starting and ending my 30s, 40s, and 50s, with Ben,  she said, "There are no guarantees in life."  Although, I know this to be true, God gives us such specific recipes for great, godly marriages. I know God has given me everything I need to be the wife he designed me to be and the same holds true for Ben.  We have overcome many obstacles in our 12 years together and I'm so thankful for God's hand in our relationship.

I don't know what this year of 29 holds for me, but I know it's good. I know it's good because God is good and has given me more joy than I deserve, this year.

Thank you for all your warm wishes. My heart is so full and your presence in my life is a big contributor!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Summer Love

We have had such a great summer, enjoying all that Michigan has to offer. Last year, we pretty much didn't leave the house, so it's been a lot of fun watching Ty experience his first real warm weather activities.


 
 


This has been one of those weeks where Ty literally changed from night to night. He's growing so fast and his transformation from baby to boy is in full swing. Just this week, he told me "no", started walking, shaking his head yes/no, blowing kisses, and communicating with words other than Muma, Dada, and Moo.

We went to Applebees for dinner, tonight, and when we walked in the door the hostess asked,"Just the three of you?" It made my heart skip a beat. We're a three of you. Do you know how long it was just the two of us? Ben didn't really find the wonder in it and was more anxious to order an appetizer, but I've thought about it all night. Of course, we've been a family all year long, but usually when we go to dinner the hostess will say, "Two and a baby?" Tonight, there was no baby. We were a family of three.

There is something so special about having a family outside of just Ben and me. Ty has become a real ham and was making us laugh all through dinner. I never noticed anyone else in the restaurant. It was just us.  Me - Ben - Ty.

As much as I look forward to expanding our family, my life is so full, right now, it overflows. Mothering Tyrus has given me a completing joy that refreshes my heart each day. I'm so thankful for God's little reminders of where he's brought us, especially when they come from unexpected places.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

God is Good.

I know it's been awhile. I've been dealing with some turmoil, but, thankfully, have come out the other side. When I'm in that place of grinding, I can't write...or sometimes talk. I want to process it all on my own, establish my true feelings on the issue, and seek the Lord for direction before I move forward. Otherwise everyone else's thoughts and opinions start shaping my own. Know what I mean?

A couple of weeks ago we were presented an opportunity to adopt again (the baby's birth day is mere weeks away). We said no. Because of money. A  mixture of hate and hurt worked through my heart quickly and it took a few days for God to get a hold of me. I hate infertility. I hate that it never goes away and has the potential to rear its ugliness at any moment. I hate that babies in adoption can often be treated like an eBay auction and that adoptive families have to play the game to win. I hate that there are endless numbers of children in orphanages all across the world that continue to sit there because of money. I hate that there are even more children sitting in foster care that families won't consider adopting because they see them as damaged, troubled, and second-rate. I hate that wanting more children makes me feel selfish.

This is going to be a mish-mash nonsensical rambling because that's the sort of truck that showed up to bulldoze my emotion, this week. I'm ready to take the big girl panties off and go back to days of ignorant bliss. Sometimes I just feel like throwing my hands up in the air and saying, "Lord. I'm tired of doing the right thing. Could we try the wrong-way approach this time?"

When I read some of my earlier blogs, I realize how far I've come. The woman who started this process is not the woman who types this today. I've seen too much. I was so baby focused for so long, it was impossible to see beyond it. Now that I do, it's impossible to think about our future family without seeing the devastation that it caused/will cause.

I know you're wondering what the heck I'm talking about. Back to the baby we said no to. Shocked? Me, too. We're not exactly in the position to turn down family members. But, you know what? Charging $20,000-40,000 to add to our family is robbery.  In this instance, there was no physical way for us to come up with that sort of money in a matter of days, but even if there had been, we still would have said no. We drew a line in the sand months ago. We are only so willing to pay X amount of money for future children. It's such an unfair moral dilemma that adoptive families are thrown into. I've said this before; we understand that if we say no to a domestic adoption there are more than 100 families lined up behind us to say, yes. Kids in the foster care system aren't so lucky. This is how I know we have a future in foster care adoption. That being said, my heart still feels the pull of newborn, domestic adoption.  It breaks my heart to think that I might never get to use all of Ty's baby things, again.

I'm in this constant state of flex. What I know and what I feel are always one upping the other.

To pile on to my already conflicting thoughts, God keeps bringing expectant women my way who (even if for a moment) are considering adoption. This is the area I've seen the most growth in my life. No longer do I see baby flags when I see these women. I see women. I see women struggling with a horrendous decision; women who are walking paths that I've never had to walk.  And I have to do the right thing. I have to tell them the truth. I have to put the right resources in their hands....and, typically, I never see/hear from them again. Which is okay, because I know I've done what God's asked of me.

The night leading up to our formal decline (for the baby offered through an agency), I was a mess. The next morning, however, God grabbed me by the bootstraps and firmly said, "Don't go there." He quickly turned the motion picture of my life into reel and I sat in awe. God is in control of the plans that seems so out-of-control and that is enough for me. He knows me. He knows my heart, my urges, my cries. And I trust him.

How can I look at Ty and not trust that God's plan for my life is fuller than anything I could do on my own? When I ask Ty what noise the snake makes and I get the most adorable nose-scrunching "Sssssss" in reply, I know God is good. When I look at the compassion that just bursts from Ben's heart and the father that God's shaping him to be, I know God is good. When I hear the laughter and love in Rebekah's voice when talking about our boy, I know God is good. When I see my inherit, selfish nature morphing into reflections of my God, I know God is good.

I hope that no matter where you find yourself in life today, you, too, know that God is good.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Thank You For Loving My Boy


I came across a special binder for Ty, this weekend, that had completely dropped from my mind.

A few weeks after Rebekah contacted us for the first time, I started printing all of our email conversations. At the time, I had no idea our relationship would evolve the way it did and I wanted to preserve every word she wrote. I held Rebekah's emails sacred as they created chained links of history for the baby in her belly. She wrote with such confidence and passion, I knew the love that poured from the pages needed to be read by her child.

I will convey her love the best I know how, but it will never be the same as coming right from her heart. Which is one of a multitude of reasons that I thank God for the openness of our adoption.

Reading through our words set me in a whirl of emotion. I printed every email during the six months we had to get to know each other before Tyrus was born and included several right after his birth. The laughs and cries came often as I poured over the pages. My very first email to Rebekah (hours after receiving the call) started like this:

Hi Rebekah, it's Rebekah! First of all, I have only ever met one other person that spelled her name the same way as mine...That definitely makes us instant friends! :)


I'm not really sure what to say here...My heart is beating out of my chest and I haven't been able to stop thinking about you since our agency called a couple of hours ago...I'm afraid I might say too much...or too little...that I'll scare you with my exuberance or shock you with my calm. I don't know what "adoption etiquette" would say about how our first conversation should go...All I know how to do is to speak from the heart, so here I go...

I know this is why Rebekah and I are so close. We've never hidden truths that we're experiencing, no matter how difficult it is for the other Rebekah to hear. We're honest and open and real about how this experience has shaped us as women and even more as moms.

Our first several weeks of emails are so funny, they read like two girls staying up way past their bedtimes to catch up on random news. We talk about everything from junior high camp to favorite late night snacks. One minute we're talking about bad country music and the next we're exchanging words like these:

(Written by me) My favorite part of the entire song is that he wipes away our tears and returns the wasted years...I have a lot of wasted years...Years of hoping, praying, begging God to give me a baby. I've spent so much time down in the pit, there were days I thought I would never get up. I am so thankful that our God returns the wasted years. That he heals our broken hearts and brings peace to our madness. I'm sorry that you've gone through so much in your young life...that you are raising your kids alone...that life isn't the way you planned. But, I believe that God will breathe life on both of us...that both of our wasted years will be replaced and that we'll be filled with overflowing joy in the years to come. I may not be able to feel the baby moving, but I do feel God moving and I know he's not finished with us, yet.

And then there's the "It's a Boy!!!!" Email. I will never forget where Ben and I sat when we read the news, together. I'll never forget the tears that streamed down my face, the love that poured from my heart for this woman and her baby that I barely knew.

The post-birth emails were the hardest to read. Our gain at Rebekah's loss is devastating. The last email in the book was written by Rebekah:

I just love you both so much. I wanted to tell you that I am so glad you are Ty's parents. You are wonderful with him. I love the way you look at him and how you kiss him and how protective you both are over him. You really are naturals. Thank you for loving my boy, I love you for it.

Those words hit me in the gut every time. Even now, twelve plus months later, my eyes well.

I will never understand Rebekah's loss. I will never understand her inside-curling pain at handing her son to me or what it must be like to watch him grow, many states away. I do know, however, that God has brought redemption to both of our situations. He has shown himself faithful. Although adoption isn't God's first choice, there is still perfection in his plans.

I'm reminded of that, this week, after reading through this amazing binder meant for Ty. I hope Tyrus is knocked off his feet, one day, by the love of his heavenly Father. That God cared so much for him he gave him two mothers, with the same name, that care more about him and each other than themselves.

I know this is our life and our story. Something we live every day. But, sometimes I stand back, look at all the pieces, and can barely breathe. Just when it seems too good to be true, chubby little hands grab my face and wet my lips with slobbery, unprompted kisses.

It's true and real and good.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Our Week in Videos

Play Time With Daddy

video

Play Time with Mommy

video



video

Mmmmm Ranch

video

Enjoying every moment.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Free'n the Fro

Ty's hair has always been a source of compliment, product, and crazy.  I love it. I've been trimming it up for months, but being a girl of massive hair, myself, it was time to bring out the big sheers. He needed to be thinned in a bad way.

Maybe in the future I won't be quite so protective, but I just couldn't handle the thought of a barber butchering those locks. I know I'm crazy. I opted to take him to my stylist instead.

Here's our before picture:

Man I love this kid.
He sat on my lap and hardly made a peep. I'm not sure I've ever seen him quite so adorable!


I'm loving the cleaner, thinner look. He looks like such a little man!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bonded by Blogger

I had an amazingly fun Saturday, this past week. Bloggy friend Melba and I met up (in real life) and drove a couple hours west to meet bloggy friend, Bri.  Melba and I have gotten together a few times, now, but it was the first time we were able to give real life hugs to our bud Bri.  It was such a special day for me because these ladies were among my very first blog friends and have typed along side me from the beginning.


 Bri, Riley, Me, Tyrus, Melba, and Charlie

Those of you who've walked this path know just how special it is to form relationships with people who know. It was so surreal to see our three beautiful babies splashing and giggling together. We waited so long for this...

It hit me when we gathered around the cafe table that I've never had a conversation where all the moms in the circle were adoptive. There was something so connected about our word flow. The nods and uh-huhs were constant, the understanding underlining. I don't mean to say our club is exclusive, but it sure felt good not to be the odd girl out. It felt good to feel normal.  I hope our friendships will continue because I, now, know how much I need them.

Enjoy some pictures from our day:





Monday, July 19, 2010

More on Siblings & Adoption

Great discussion and perspectives. I'd like to continue talking about this topic because so many good points surfaced. I think I'll draw out a few of them and see how this post shapes up.

I'll start by saying, this is a conversation Rebekah and I have had.  There are few things blogged about, here, that she isn't already aware of.  Rebekah makes hard conversations easy because she's so open and honest with me. It's also worth clarifying that just because we have decided not to call Rebekah's kids "siblings" right now, does not mean we've written them out of Ty's life. We have several pictures in the house and I give Ty regular updates on what everyone is doing. It is not our intention to hide them or pretend they don't exist.  We, simply, are referring  to them as "Rebekah's kids" until he's able to put it all together on his own. Once he does it will be up to him whether or not he wants to call them brothers or sisters.

Kelly wrote:  There are four people who have a different perspective seeing as they DID live with Ty for 9 months and are not allowed to consider him their brother. Rebekah's older children. I've seen from both blogs that they are truly hurting about how they should regard Ty and being told they are not to consider him their brother. It must be very difficult for them to understand how all of this works.

Very true that Rebekah's kids had all of this done to them and that they struggle with understanding Rebekah's decision.  Like so many things in life, I think they will understand the situation better when they're older, especially when they become parents themselves. I have so much more insight into why my parents were what they were, now that I'm a parent.  Our decision to not call them siblings has not influenced their emotions, because as far as I know, this isn't something Rebekah ever discussed with them. I don't really see it necessary. It doesn't bother me that they call Ty their brother. I've had many conversations with Rebekah's oldest daughter over text messaging and she always refers to Ty as her brother - it doesn't bother me at all.  I don't see a problem with Ty calling them "Rebekah's kids" and Rebekah's kids calling Ty "brother." 


For right now, they have very little interaction with Ty and only time will tell if that changes in the future. By the time Ty is able to hold a conversation with them over the phone, he will comprehend his story so much better and will probably understand the link from Rebekah's kids to brothers and sisters.


Anonymous wrote:  I guess my question is, what if the birth siblings are not good for your child?  I don't think there is a perfect answer. Adoption is just as unique as the people who create it. Following your heart, and God's will is the only way to do what's best for your family.

I couldn't agree more that we have to depend on God to direct us in all aspects of our parenting. We've never done this before, we don't have friends around us that are raising adopted children, and every child's story is so unique to them, that there are no cookie-cutter answers. The more I research foster adoption, the more I know this to be true. As far as birth siblings not being a good influence, if we were in that situation, we would still share all the information we had with our child (age-appropriate, of course).  Nothing good comes from withholding truth and keeping secrets.  Ty will know his full story, even the few parts that we have kept private from everyone else.

Amy wrote:  I have an open adoption with the family I placed my little girl with. I wasn't married nor did I have any other children at the time. I am now married and have a baby. Are there any suggestions on how to explain who Paige is when he gets older?...And at what age? Obviously she is a part of our lives and always will be but I just don't know how to explain our situation to a little child. He is only 6 months old but I kind of want to have a game plan.

Does anyone have advice for Amy and her situation? Amy, what does Paige call your son? It sounds like you have a good relationship with the adoptive parents, I think it would be a good subject to talk out together. I think it's great that you're thinking about this now. I imagine it would be difficult for your son to learn of a sister years down the road.

Many of you wrote about how non-confused your kids are with the big brother/sister thing. I think that's great and appreciate how differences work for each family. If we lived closer to Rebekah and saw her family on a more consistent basis our decision on this might be different. But, because we live over 20 hours away (not exactly a day trip!) and we don't know that we'll even see each other on a yearly basis, use of the siblings term becomes much more obscure.  Ty has only met 3 out of Rebekah's 4 kids one time. Another angle of their relationship that will come into play is age gap. There is a tremendous jump in ages from Rebekah's oldest to youngest (Ty). If I had to guess, I would say that Ty will have the best relationship with Rebekah's second youngest son who is only a few years older than him.

Anonymous said:  I do not mean any disrespect by this but how do you plan to explain to Ty that all the other brothers and sisters stayed with Rebekah but he was blessed by being adopted. 

This is the one question that I know we will get asked one day. For the answer, we will be using Rebekah's words to us, as to why she made this decision.  Rebekah knew that she could be a good mom - that was never in question - she's a good mom, now. But what she couldn't do...was give Ty a dad. After years of watching her children struggle without having a father around, she knew she wanted one for Ty. She also told us that all of her time, resources, and money were already being stretched so thin on the four children she had. It wasn't fair to them, for her to bring another baby into the mix.  I remember being floored by her love. Her only concern when choosing an adoption plan was all five of her children.

Andraya wrote:  In my opinion kids understand far more than we often give them credit for and omitting their relationships to others is a breeding ground for trust issues. Growing up knowing your own truth normalizes any situation but finding out later in life causes questions about so many things as well as wondering why you weren't told sooner...Hiding anything in adoption, including siblings, makes the subject taboo and can make a child feel as though they shouldn't ask or know. 

I agree that full disclosure is the best policy in adoption.  We are not hiding Ty's siblings from him. He knows all about them and has many pictures of and with them. We're merely not choosing to use the term "siblings" for the next few years until he can grasp the concept.  Likewise, there are parts of his story that will be difficult to hear and share. Adoption will always be an open overflow of conversation in our house, but there are aspects that will come out through the years, as he's able to understand the specifics.

As far as using the word "birth sibling," I find it applicable. We always refer to Rebekah's family as Ty's birth family, so whether we're talking about his mom, her kids or her puppies, I think it's okay to put birth in front of it. There are many things to think through while raising Ty and of all the things I could worry about it, this isn't going to be one of them.

Britney said:  ...I also wonder if it would be different if you were not planning to adopt again... if Rebekah's other kids were to remain Ty's only siblings? And, with your plans to adopt from foster care, if you adopt an older child who spent time with his bio-siblings as siblings, but you use a different phrase for Ty's bio-siblings, how would that work?

Britney brought up a lot of great points. And to them, I can only say, we're taking all of this one step at a time. I don't know what we'd do in someone else's shoes or even our own shoes, 5 years from now. We are not trying to control our children's lives and dictate their stories with creative, confusing twists, we're simply doing what we feel is best and right.

For right now, for this moment, I'm Ty's "Muma" and Ben is "DaDaDaDa." As he grows and learns and discovers the pieces will start coming together. With so many loving members on every side of his family, birth and adoptive, Ty will lack nothing; I'm confident in that.



Thursday, July 15, 2010

Birth Siblings

 Rebekah's Kids


I've talked about our decision not to refer to Rebekah's kids as Ty's siblings, before, but wanted to bring it up, again, after reading this month's issue of Adoptive Families magazine.  That decision wasn't based on any supernatural insight or anything; it just felt right.  Ben and I definitely want to adopt again and we don't want Ty to be confused on our family unit. I had visions of him going to school, being asked how many brothers and sisters he has, and answering, "Well....I have two brothers and a sister that live with me (wishful thinking), my birth mom has four living with her, my birth dad has one living with him, but others that he's adopted/lived with from past girlfriends and calls them his own..." You get the picture. All a bit overwhelming for a six year old.

The decision seems natural to me, as a daughter of divorced parents, who are now with other people that have children. When someone asks me how many siblings I have I answer "3" because that's how many I grew up with - the others didn't come until I was married and well into adulthood.

What Ty chooses to call Rebekah's kids when he fully understands their place in his life, is up to him. The same goes for Rebekah.  If at 10 [pulled out of thin air], Ty decides to start calling Rebekah mom and her kids brothers and sisters, I won't have a problem with that. It's his life, his story. I'm secure enough in my position that it won't bother me or make me envious.  Until we get to that point, however, Ben and I have to make his decisions for him, based on how the Holy Spirit guides and directs us.

All of that to say, it was very confirming, this week, to read that our choice comes recommended by adoption experts.  The AF article stated how important birth siblings are to adopted kids and that most adopted children want to have some type of relationship in the future, even more than their desire to know their birth moms.

This makes a lot of sense to me. I can see how adopted children would crave that relationship and want to foster friendships with people just like them, genetically.  Then take it a step further and think about the emotions/challenges that are linked to a birth mom that may not exist with birth siblings - feelings of abandonment, confusion, difficulty understanding why. [Insert note: I'm speaking in general terms here. My prayer is that our openness with Rebekah will dull the intensity of these emotions in Tyrus, although I do realize they will exist.]  The relationship with birth siblings is probably easier because there is minimal confusion clouding the view. Rebekah's kids didn't make an adoption plan for Ty...Rebekah did.

This topic really fascinates me, so I started to do some research.  I found this article by AF magazine that further explains why waiting to call birth siblings siblings is important. Cognitively children don't come to understand genetics until about age nine. The author (Lois Melina) writes, "To a child, brothers and sisters are the people who share the experience of growing up together. It can be difficult for a young child to think of a much older brother or sister as a sibling if they did not grow up together—even if they were raised by the same parents, in the same household. While adoptive parents and birthparents may long for their children to have a close relationship, or at least an understanding of each other’s significance, this isn’t going to happen by labeling them as “siblings” before they are old enough to understand what that means."

The article also goes on to talk about the guilt that adopted children may feel when they see what they have/the opportunities they've been given in relation to their birth siblings. Ben and I wonder this often and are curious to see how Ty's relationship with his birth family will evolve.
I really enjoy educating myself on some of these issues, even though they're pretty far down the road for us.  Whenever I meet an adopted person, I try to ask as many questions as they'll allow. Their experience is gold to me. Ultimately, we rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit to be the best parents we can, but God also puts people in our lives to be vessels of that wisdom. I eat it up!

I would love to hear all sides of this issue if you want to leave a comment, below. I'm interested in hearing how other adoptive families are addressing birth siblings, the adoptees take on the whole subject, and, of course, the first mom perspective (Are we being insensitive? Is it hurtful that your children are not referred to as siblings?) I hope this can foster some good discussion.

Feel free to email me too, if that's easier.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rebekah Love

One of the things I love most about my relationship with Rebekah is our secure friendship.

I love that I can call her on my way home from work and tell her about my insecurities as a mom and admit that I have no idea how to control Ty's hitting tenancies, all without worrying about how she might perceive me as mother of her child.  That's a big deal.

Never when I talk to her do I wonder, does she think it's okay that we do this with Ty? or if I tell her this, she might think we're totally lame parents. I love that I can just be me. I can share my heart as it is and never worry about her reaction.

She is one of those friends that just gets it. I don't have to worry about what people say or what's written here (by me or others) because I know that she knows the truth. She knows what we have and rests assured in it.

I love when God brings people into my life like that. No pretenses, no walls, just genuine, this-is-how-it-is-even-if-I'm-struggling-today friends. I, honestly, can't imagine not having her in my life. With or without Ty.

I thought about her a lot last night after our phone conversation. She gets me. She is happy with our talks,  be it 5 minutes or 5 hours. I love that she knows what it's like to balance a family and work full time and respects my time home with Ben and Ty. I love that she's a natural part of our family and a normal topic of conversation. I, routinely, update Ty on all the news. I always give him deliberate hugs and kisses from Rebekah and tell him just how much she loves him.

Yesterday, before bed, I was filling him in on their new puppy and Rebekah's, upcoming, second interview. He just sat and listened, knowingly. When I told him how lucky he is to have two mothers that love him so very much, he leaned up and kissed me right on the mouth.  It's like he knows.

I know a lot of people hate me and wish this blog would cease to exist. I get it. I don't share all the details, people jump to conclusions/read between the lines, and see me as some baby snatching monger. It's okay. It doesn't bother me. In a messed up, sin-draped world it's refreshing to have an intimate circle of people that pursue the heartbeat of God and love me through the mountains and valleys of life. Rebekah is one of those people; my life wouldn't be the same without her.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Wedding Fun

 Little man might just make a wedding party world record before he's 5.  He stood up sat in his second wedding yesterday, as Ben's baby sister tied the knot (Still have all three of my siblings to go!). He looked adorable in his tux, but man was he grumpy! Wedding time was smack in the middle of nap/dinner time and Ty doesn't like missing out on either!  Most of my pictures look something like this:


But I did manage some cute ones, too.


Love that grumper face!


He knows how cool he is.

  



I love my little lover.


I love my big lover, too! :)



Ty gets some action before the "I Dos".