Monday, May 26, 2008

Day 28

Once you fall in love, falling out is no where in the realm of possibility. I think it’s true that love can be blind and masks imperfections. But there are two types of love…fleeting and forever. My first true love is unlike any other. I say “is” because I still love him. I knew right from the beginning his love was forever. I cannot explain my heart. All I know to say is that there has been this ever present “knowing” in my life that I am part of a remarkable, unparalleled romance. This romance, this bond, is so unbreakable that it bleeds into every area of my life and has made my earthly romance with Ben a mirror image. My Creator was my first true love. I know that is the Christian “thing” to say, but I mean it. I accepted Jesus into my heart, over peanut butter and jelly when I was three years old. Immediately the Lord began talking to me and showing promises for my life. I grew up in a beautiful, God-centered home that nurtured my desire for truth and disciplined me to be a woman of the Word. Again, even reflecting, I cannot explain the wonder of this relationship. Even through my junior high days, this love existed as a romance. I was forever taken, and trusting God was as easy as breathing. I never had any reason to doubt or question. I took him at his word and considered it privilege that he actually spoke to me.

I remember a playground experience. One of my classmates was telling me that his parents were getting divorced. Growing up in a Christian community, with Christian friends, at a Christian school the news was astounding. Later that day a friend, who had also heard the news, asked me what I would do if my parents divorced. My answer was dripping with conviction, “My parents would never divorce.” My friend blew me off as na├»ve and told me it could happen to anyone. I don’t believe my stance was adolescent ignorance. I had seen the power of a Most High God at an early age and I knew my family was marked for greatness. We were not your average Christian family, we weren’t. My dad was an extremely devoted pastor and father. He would spend hours answering my many questions, from why God allowed pain to my musings on Revelation. Our Christianity had nothing to do with religion. Our relationship with the Father was alive and I knew in my heart no one(in their right mind) could ever walk away from it—thus my delusion in regards to divorce.

As the story goes, my parents did divorce. It was bizarre and messy, but unlike everyone else (family and friends) my world was never shattered. Don’t get me wrong, it was difficult, but my true love was my Savior. He sustained me and preserved me through what should have been a very difficult time in my life. Through all my years I never rebelled, experimented, or walked away. My conversion was pure, my heart gripped.

Ben and I dealt with infertility for a year on our own before we started getting concerned. The first year I was full of faith—just like every other life experience I had know, God always came through. He was always faithful, always true to his promises. When year two and three passed my heartache was unquenchable. I still believed God would hear my cry, but the daily struggle to walk in faith wavered. This past year, year four, marked the loss of my first true love. There’s a pounding in my heart, a screaming in my head to even write this truth. It contradicts everything I’m made of. I didn’t fall out of love, I walked away. Love always existed, he had been too good to erase lifetime faithfulness…it was the romance that died.

Lord, how did I ever get to this place in my life? Why did I forget? And the question I’ve been too afraid to ask, came out in worship yesterday…Lord, what have I done to your heart? Immediately I was full of shame and racked with guilt. My life flashed before my eyes and I could hardly stand in his presence. Lord, I have not been strong. I have not been faithful. There are no written words acceptable to offer as apology.

Before I could crumple myself into a heap on the floor, I heard the Lord speak one word to my heart…Grace. Thankfulness washed over me in never-ending waves [and again as I write]. Strange enough, I could not remember the definition of grace, but decided I would look it up later and revel in the re-found intimacy of my Savior. I did however go to 2 Corinthians 12:9 and drank in, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

I left worship with a healed heart. What I thought would be a long road to recovery was covered in one spoken word.

Grace. The freely given, unmerited favor and love of God.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Day 25

I wish I would have started blogging my heartache earlier. Over the past several weeks I have been so inspired reading other blogs of women (and men) that have stories that mirror mine. There is such a connection...a knowing, when I read my struggle walked out in the lives of others. I felt so isolated for so long. Who knew online journals could be so liberating?

I eagerly read through the pages of a new found "friend" last night [Glenna] and found answer to a question that has been weighing heavy on my mind the last few weeks: to decorate a nursery or not to decorate. Glenna wrote [first understand this woman's story is so much my own, I related to her on every level]: "I spend a few minutes in this room every day, sitting in my rocker and praying for our baby, the birth mom, and us as future parents. It is SUCH a relief to have hope for our future." That was all I needed to seal the deal. I promplty made my way downstairs where Ben was watching the Pistons game, plopped down, and with full sincerity asked Ben if he would buy me a rocking chair. Now, mind you, the sequence of events made full sense to me, Ben however, responded with "For crocheting or something?" Stunned that he hadn't followed my thought pattern, I had to laugh! I explained that I wanted a rocker so that I could sit in the baby's room and pray. Not quite realizing the impact my simple request would have, he replied with "sure." God, I love him.

I don't care how long I have to walk by an empty room...that room--that chair--that life is going to be bathed in prayer.

So, I'm in the market for a new chair.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Day 24

We were assigned a case worker, today! Yeah!!!!! Her name is Jodi. I started praying for her as soon as I received the name. I can't imagine how difficult her job must be and the severity of some of the situations she deals with. For those of you who don't know, she plays a very important role in our adoption journey. She will be observing and meeting with us during the home studies and in charge of making sure we are placed with the right birthmom. She will also facilitate all interaction with our mom as well as represent our voice during and throughout the placement. I'm not worried about making a wrong impression, instead I'm asking you to pray for her because I'm looking for the supernatural in our adoption experience. Of course, I want Jodi to use wisdom and to be led by the Lord when helping to match us with the right mom, but even more importantly I want her life to be impacted for the better when the process is all said and done.

Lord, I pray that you would give Jodi wisdom and strength...peace and love. If she doesn't know you I pray for an encounter...If she does, I pray a new passion...energize her...fill her...bless her household and her family...protect gracious to her..give her abundant joy.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Day 22

What an exciting day!! I had an extra spring to my step as I dropped off our final application/paperwork to the post office, today! It feels good to have it off my plate. It has taken a few weeks to gather all the required information. I understand the delicacy of permitting a family to raise someone else’s baby, but the paperwork is unbelievable. I was talking to a fellow adoptive parent and they said the paperwork for adoption exceeds (about 4x’s as much) the paperwork required for buying a house!

It feels good to have momentum. Even though our wait could be months (hopefully not years) my heart is so full of hope, my dark cloud has finally lifted. I feel like a new woman—scratch that—I feel like “me” again [same woman]. I have been no stranger to reflection the past several months and I continue to stand in amazement at the relationship Ben and I have. I have read/listened to many testimonials on how infertility rips relationships apart and fully understand why. My heart overflows with thankfulness that our marriage has not only survived…but thrived. I think we would have been ready for a baby years ago…but now there’s no doubt in my mind that we stand on a solid foundation for raising a baby. We’ve had a lot of fun dreaming about everything from names to character traits.

So far, neither of us have a gender preference but all of the names we like seem to lean toward boy! Here’s what we have left to do:

  • Read 4 Books (and they’re snoozers!)
  • Attend a Trans-Racial Family Seminar on June 2nd

  • Attend an Adoption/Profile Seminar on June 3rd

  • Finish our Profile
  • Home Study (approximately 6-8 weeks after classes are completed)

And then the waiting begins!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Day 20

Check this out: "Celebrating Adoption" is a nationwide network of photographers that donate their time and waive sitting fees for families that have adopted..and it just so happens that there is a photographer in our area! The pictures are amazing; I can't wait to make use of their services!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Day 19

He has "stolen my heart with one glance of [his] eyes." Song Solomon 4:9

His hand reaches across the seat to rest on my knee: "Of all the scenarios and situations my life could have played out, I would pick you every time. If I had to choose you, money, being a rockstar, or having the perfect would always be my first draft pick."

I look at him and think, life couldn't possibly get better.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Day 16

So, I've been told that adoptive moms can actually take hormones--and who knows what else--to produce milk so that they can actually breast feed their adoptive child. Ben and I talked about it briefly but both agreed that the process seems way too UN-natural.

The thought of going back on hormones after all the grueling infertility nonsense makes me want to scream "BEEN THERE DONE THAT--DIDN'T WORK--NO THANK YOU!" Going back to Jana Wolff's book...I agree with her--we have come to the same place--I'm tired of making my body do things that it clearly doesn't want to do. On that note, I read a very bizarre story of a woman who didn't want to mess with the hormones so she purchased a "rig" (for lack of a better word) that connected tubes to her nipples and attached to a warm bottle that hung around her neck. She agreed the process was complicated and not something one could ever do in public--but for her the bonding that took place between her and the baby was worth it. I can certainly appreciate her willingness....and even applaud her efforts...but seriously?

I believe that breast feeding is important for health and bonding...but I'm going to trust God on both accounts for our baby

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Day 15

Adoption: The issue is not black and white.

Our formal application reads: Please check the box of desired race:

Caucasian [check]
African-American [check]
African-American/Caucasian [check]
Other Mixed Race [check]

We did not check yes to all the boxes above for selfish reasons (statistically it will result in a baby sooner). We are open to all races because God is. Who are we to say this baby is meant for us but not that one? Only God knows and we trust he will send the right one to us.

I've been doing a lot of reading on trans-racial families and the information I've found is heartbreaking! Our agency currently has 55 families waiting for Caucasian babies, 30 families for bi-racial babies, and only about 18 for African-American. The government actually comes in to help subsidize the cost, making African-American adoptions considerably less than Caucasian adoptions. There are simply not enough adoptive families out their "willing" [exact words of the agency] to adopt black babies. How sad is that?

This week, I began looking for other adoption related blogs so that I could further my studies and I came across some birth mom sites. As naive as it might sound, I never really had given the birth mom very much thought--as far as what emotions she would be dealing with. As I snooped through some blogs I was even more heart-broken to read the pain behind many of the words. When I sit back and think about what it would be like to give up a baby that I carried for 9's inconceivable! I cannot even imagine the separation agony they must endure. So, all week I've had this battle raging inside of me. I know that providing a home for a baby that needs one is an incredible gift...but if given the opportunity would the real mother accept the same gift?

In Weaving a Family, Barbara Rothman says, "There may be an absolute neccesity to sometimes place black babies and children with white families in order that they have families at all. There is an absolute necessity to step in and help the families...White people raising black children in America, whether they've given birth to them or adopted them, need some help, support, assistance from the black community. But if you place that child, if you help the family...are you you then implicitly supporting the formation of such families? Are you acting in such a way as to encourage the removal of black children from the black community? The adoptive family and particularly the child need support, but all of what got that child into that situation needs to be stopped. Trans-racial adoption is a band-aid solution where far more radical solutions are immediately needed."

After reading those words you might be surprised to hear that the author is an adopted mom to an African-American child. I understand and agree with her argument. The number one reason African-American children are given up is due to poverty. There are not free services available to offer young moms protection or abortion; they simply have their babies because there is no other option. I can't help but think if they WERE given an option, what they would choose? What if all the money spent on the adoption was given to bring education and future to a mother so that she could start a new life and raise her baby? What then would she choose? Would she still give her baby up or would her heart be revived with hope? I know it wouldn't help my situation...but what if? I'm struck again today over the complexity of adoption. My dream of a future could be taking away from someone else's.

I have already begun to pray for our baby...and our mother...that the Lord would supernaturally give us wisdom. And that all lives involved will experience the hand of God in a raw untamable way.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Day 13

There are so many unsung heroes in my life, but today I'm going to sing praises of one.

Laura is one of the most tender-hearted compassionate people I know. She does motherhood with grace and style and breathes peace everywhere she goes. She is the Provers 31 woman. She is my sister. She represents "home" to me.

She gave me my first ever Mother's Day gift which, of course, opened the floodgates of tears...but it meant more to me than she'll ever know. Today, at church a parade of moms (literally a parade) walked by me my heart I was able to rejoice too knowing that at least one person in the world recognizes my "expectant" journey.

Laura, I love you more than a good book on a rainy day. You are my heart.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Day 11

"Why do I feel so sad?" were the first words from my mouth as we quietly closed the door after our adoption consultation. Ben's answer: "Because nothing about this process is easy."

When I wrote the quote from Jana Wolff at the top of my blog I didn't understand her words-- "...[adoption] takes more courage than you think you have--" but I thought they sounded nice. Now, I understand. Far more costly than the price of adoption is the emotional risk. There are approximately 30 families waiting per child to be adopted...50% of birth mothers change their mind during the pregnancy...20% change their mind once they hold their newborn...3% act on their right to reclaim their baby within the first six weeks. I cannot imagine the devastation...the pain was etched in Ben's eyes as he responded, "After everything we've been through, you're telling me that we could have our baby home for six weeks and it could be taken from us..." the answer is a deafening "yes." You'd think such a small percentage would hold such little impact. Not so. There are 97 reasons why this avenue is beautiful...awesome...inspiring, yet it's the 3 that remind me of what I'm not and what I can't do on my own. It's the 3 that scream, "you thought you had it rough....we're going to taunt you more.."

My head wants to explode WHEN IS ENOUGH, ENOUGH? Can't I just hit the "easy" button? I'm tired of walking uphill. I mean how much growth does one girl need?

Are we proceeding--yes. Did we like the agency--yes. Will this be one of the hardest things we've had to do--yes. It's like scientists are inspecting and scrutinizing every fine detail of our lives. Every answered question raises more...How black is too black? How drunk is too drunk? What do you believe? How will you discipline? Is smoking okay? Will you stay home or work? If you work how many hours? Will you use daycare and whom will you choose? Are you religious? How far do you live from your church and how much time will you spend there? How far do you live from the nearest elementary school? What have you done for your community? How will you administer medical care....Aye yi yi. Can't we just have a baby? Don't they know I have enough love in my heart for 4?

Ben was right. Nothing about this process is easy.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Day 6

I finished my new read, Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother. All I can say is "wow." Jana Wolff writes with such genuine and raw emotion. I quickly found a common friend within the first paragraphs. She wrote:

"Barren. It's a word that sounds barren. My self-image was filled with nasty adjectives, but barren was not one of them...I thought of myself as fairly well adjusted and very healthy--filled with energy, nearly vegetarian, passionately in love--the most unbarren person around...I was way too happy to be barren. The only thing I was incapable of conceiving was the fact that I was incapable of conceiving. It never occurred to me that I could be healthy, active, successful, happy, and infertile...They never did find out why we couldn't conceive...Without a concrete physiological reason for our infertility, I was quick to fill in with emotional explanations: maybe we didn't want a baby enough, maybe we weren't meant to be parents, maybe we were being punished...We had long since lost our sense of humor about this and were losing hope...I was getting weepy; we were getting boring. We kept putting our lives on hold...Our O.B.'s advice was, 'Take a break. You'd be amazed at how many women get pregnant when they stop trying so hard.' That rubbed me the wrong way. I never bought into the theory of the "Type A" uterus--If you only relax you'll get pregnant. Why was it, then, that thousands of stressed-out, drugged-out, strung-out women had kids? In spite of our obstetrician, we decided to stop trying to make our bodies do what they didn't seem to want to do. We were not so much running toward adoption as running away from the conception roller coaster."

Reading my story in between the lines of someone else's writing is jolting to say the least. There is something so lonely about barrenness, that even those that love you most cannot completely comprehend. For months I felt like a snail holing up in my shell bracing against the emotion that came in floods--wishing, hoping, begging that someone would join me in the solitude of my own sentiment...but knowing that no one else could fit. Ben was the best confidant I could ask for, knowing when to speak and when to hold...but even our bond left me alone at times, as I tried to interpret my feelings and work out my anger.

Reading Jana's testimony was similar to an experience I had earlier this year. Around the new year I began searching out adoption agencies and reading through multiple websites. Most agencies have a testimonial section where adoptive mothers write about their experiences. One Saturday afternoon I spent hours glued to my laptop as I read over 30 adoption stories. I was baffled at how many women were just like me. (In our large circle of friends and acquaintances I only know 2 women that struggled with infertility. However, both came to have children and had a difficult time remembering their pre-kid struggle.) After reading story upon story of infertility struggles, for the first time, I didn't feel alone.

"They" say that misery loves company...but truthfully...who doesn't love company? Knowing that there is someone else in your boat helps make rowing a little easier. I am encouraged to read Jana's story that so much parallels mine. And the best part? She has a happy ending. It all seems more like a blur than reality right now. I've imagined and dreamed of a baby for so long that it doesn't even seem possible anymore, even in the midst of the adoption process. Part of me feels like my life will always be marked with empty arms and fleeting hope. I know that sounds pessimistic, but over the last 4 years every hope led to disappointment.

Today, I am excited, but anxious. Hopeful, but cautious. Ready, but questioning.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Day 3

Who knew a little hope could bring me back to the land of the living? I feel like a new woman with a fresh lease on life! As I perused the bookstore today I [naturally] wandered over to the adoption section and fingered through my choices like a starved animal in search of food. I left Borders with Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother and Loved by Choice: True Stories that Celebrate Adoption (Chosen by the beautiful cover alone!). I sat in my car holding my books like gold. I felt like any first-time mother would. While others might caress their bellies or flush their cheeks with that inner-mommy glow, I dream and imagine an array of babies...and which one will have me. We aren't so different, them and me...we're both expecting...theirs more defined...but both ordained. My mind cannot contain the possibilities. I'm sure every mother feels this way, but I cannot imagine a baby being loved more.

Excuse me while I get some reading in...We meet for our first consultation next Friday, May 9th. If you think of any questions we should ask, feel free to share!