Tuesday, May 30, 2017

What Love Looks Like

Dani and her husband, Adam are in the process of adopting for the second time (you can learn more about how their daughter came to them here). I love her story of what happens when they have a garage sale, enlist their friends to help, and a stranger asks for a deal...

For weeks, we’ve been collecting clothes, toys, furniture and other sundries from friends. They’ve come over with moving vans and pickup trucks, minivans and sensible Hondas, delivering the treasures of last year or last decade to our door. We drove around our county to pick up items, always with a grateful heart.

Once I started to feel overwhelmed by the stuff of other people’s lives, we started taking trips to our garage sale site, Josh and Kate’s new home. We filled the garage, the carport, and the living room. I apologized a lot for taking over their lives, but they are nice and didn’t seem to mind. Kate knows a professional sign maker and got printed signs donated, that said “Adoption Fundraiser Sale” in big black and red letters.

Two nights before the sale, Adam was up almost all night for work. Adelay was fussy, I was tired. We hadn’t had dinner together for a few nights and I was feeling hungry for more than food. We needed a break but one wasn’t coming – we had a sale to run. The night before, Adam made several trips with sale items in the pickup, we ate dinner at 10 pm, Josh and Kate went out late at night to hang signs. I felt overwhelmed and maybe a little defeated. I wondered if we were crazy to go through this again, if we were being unfair to our kind friends, if maybe we’d overstepped this whole “live out loud” thing once and for all.

But do you know what love looks like? I can tell you.

Love looks like undeserved favor. Love looks like friends who laugh at your apologies and cheerfully work for your cause, because they have taken it on as their own. Love looks like a beautiful summer morning sunrise that you are ready for, despite four hours of sleep. Love looks like friends who dropped off more sale items, even as the sale was in progress, who came by with baked goods for the bake sale and hugs and cheerfulness for us.

One woman made a small pile of flower pots and a sundial, and asked, “What do you want for this?”

We’d sold so many things and there was something about her that seemed hungry for kindness, so I said, “Whatever you want to pay.”

She sighed and shook her head, “You’re very generous, but I can’t do that today. Just tell me what you want.”

I quickly smiled and offered a small amount, $5 or something. She followed up by asking me what we were adopting. I laughed and told her a baby. “We’re already adoptive parents and we’re adopting again,” I explained.

Her entire face changed. She looked at the ground, and seemed to be trying to collect herself. Then she handed me a crumpled $20 bill. “Good luck,” she said, and she started to cry. I reflexively gave her a hug and she quickly turned away with her items, I could see tears coming out from behind her sunglasses.

Love looks like letting your story out into the world. Love looks like the hugs I got from strangers who are also adopting, who gave us more than we asked, who are adopted themselves. Love looks like giving people a chance to share in a beautiful life-changing story, one that is just beginning to unfold, and could not be told without them. Love looks like friends who donate, bake, and give of their company and courage. Love looks like a toddler happily playing with safe adults, secure in the knowledge that her tribe is there for her and baby brother or sister. Love looks like the countless texts and calls we got from out of town friends and family to ask us how it was going and how they can help.

Love looks like $2497.84 being raised in a single weekend, selling $1 flowerpots and baby onesies for 50 cents. This is what love looks like.

For more of Adam and Dani's adoption and to read her beautiful writing on her adventures as a "wife, mama, hiker, cowgirl, and experimental cook," check out Dani's blog at Wrangler Dani.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Adoption Story: Samuel and Brandy (take 2!)

Brandy and Samuel adopted their sweet little girl through Christian Adoption Consultants a few years ago. They knew even then their family wasn't complete and they would adopt again...

Jace Ezekiel...He is nine months old now. He has now been with me as long as he was in his birth momma's belly. I remember that time frame being such a turning point with Eden, our first adopted daughter. And thinking back, his story into our family began with her. The day I met Eden for the first time, held her in my arms, I knew instinctively that there was "one more." As sure as I knew we were called to adoption four years earlier, I knew that day that I would be walking through another adoption journey. But at that point, I was rightly focused on my new beautiful daughter.

It would be another two years before my husband and I would circle back around to adoption again. Our journey to Eden was more difficult that we imagined it would be, and adding a move two states away from family and friends just months after she was born just about took all the energy and stamina we had. In all truth, by the time we brought Eden home and moved five months later, I was more depleted physically, emotionally, and physically than I ever had been. And I was not anxious to traverse the same terrain again.

But, between the Lord's constant nudging and the reality that neither Samuel or I were getting any younger, we knew we needed to act sooner than later. 

My one hope with this second adoption journey was that I would "wait better." Constantly, I prayed for that. Constantly, I spoke with friends and prayed together with them that I would wait with less anxiety, less frustration, less emotion. And I, thankfully, did see fruit from that. But I was also caught off guard with the changes in speed and process since Eden's adoption just two and a half years before! Cases came twice as frequently and were decided twice as quickly. It seemed like the adoption roller coaster doubled in time. That was both a blessing and a challenge.

As we rounded the corner of being active for nine months, I was beginning to feel that familiar desperate feeling. The feeling of knowing your child is "out there" but of not being able to get to him or her. The feeling of not knowing how much longer I could say yes and hope and not know if we would get a yes.

All during this time, Samuel and I were preparing for a work sponsored vacation trip to Hawaii. It was a whirlwind five day trip to a dreamy relaxing place. Samuel was super excited and ready to do something alone and fun. I kept trying to get excited, but inside I kept dreaming and praying for THE reason to have to stay home to materialize. I confess, I sported a semi-rotten attitude our whole trip because I left with my hopes in ashes. I had truly set that trip as a sort of finish line in my mind and heart.

Little did I know, though....

We flew home from Hawaii on Thursday, picked up our kids from my in-laws and drove home on Saturday, and on Monday we got the call that changed our lives. A little boy had been born Sunday night!  This was our first stork drop presentation. I had secretly hoped for a girl all along. And I was wrung out from travel. I had very little hope. But then the next day, Tuesday, we got the call we were chosen. (My heart is so full of remembering!) I was gonna be the momma to a fourth little boy! 

WOW! Wow! Wow. That God would count me so worthy. That He would trust me once again with a little life. I know that we "did this to ourselves." I know that we intentionally sought out another child for our family. But, even still, the miracle of it, the enormity of it, and the sanctity of it all humbles me. 

Our little Jace is now nine months old. He is a snaggle-toothed, crawling, ball of pure boy. And our entire family is completely in love with him.  

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Repost: In Their Own Words: Mother's Day

Growing up, Mother's Day always meant the mothers standing proudly in church getting a carnation, packed restaurants, and homemade cards. It honestly never occurred to me that Mother's Day could be a day of mourning for some rather than a celebration. Now as an adult I know better. This year, I have dear friends who will be grieving this year over the loss of a mother, the loss of a child, and the heartbreak of infertility. I'm thankful I haven't sat in a church that doesn't acknowledge the complexity that Mother's Day brings. Our pastor often says that every celebration this side of Heaven will be bittersweet in a broken wold. This couldn't be more true this Sunday.

But where does adoption fit into all of this? What about those mothers in the process of adoption, proudly calling themselves "paper pregnant?" What does Mother's Day look like for those on the long road to adoption? Amy is a prospective adoptive mother this year for Mother's Day, in the midst of paperwork and appointments and trainings for their adoption. Here's her thoughts this weekend...

"The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is the love of a mother"

Each year we get to dedicate a whole day to all of those beautiful mothers in our lives. Maybe, its your own mother, grandmother, birth mother, adoptive mother or step mother...

Whatever the case we know that these women hold some of the most precious places in our hearts. 

We also know that those mama's hold getting to be a mother in the most precious places in their hearts too. 

Maybe, this year you added a bundle of joy to your family.

Maybe, this year is the first year you have gotten to celebrate mother's day as a mama. 

Maybe, this year is the you found out you were going to be a mama for the first time. 

Each year, I know someone who fits into each of these stories. But, I also know women who fit into another type of story...

Maybe, this year you lost a child. 

Maybe, this year you had hoped that this was the year you would have a little one creating a craft out of dried up noodles and globs of paint all filled with love for you. 

Maybe, this year you spent hours filling out adoption paperwork and finishing parenting trainings. 

Maybe, this year you spent the last of your savings on your last round of fertility treatments.

And, each year those of us who aren't yet mothers have to take a deep breath and say...

"Maybe next year..."

This mothers day. Here's to you mama's who don't get to be celebrated as a mama yet. 

Here is to the woman who's hearts desire to be a mother so badly the pain keeps you up at night. 

Here is to the woman who dies a little inside when she sees "Happy Mothers Day" posts all over Facebook for what seems like everyone but herself. 

Here is to the woman who waits and prays for the day she gets to be a mama. 

Here is to the woman who has been preparing herself for this Mother's Day all week long...so that she can seem like she has it all together when the day finally gets here. 

You are not alone. I'm right there with you.

As my husband and I embark on our second year of trying to conceive a child - and are also working to wrap up a home study for our adoption - this day hits me harder than ever because I have had to face some tough realities and a lot of bumps in the road. 

I know my body still won't give me the chance to carry life inside of me. 

I know I have a long and rocky wait ahead of me before my family is complete.

I know my child is out there somewhere - and I pray that they are being taken care of and loved and I will pray over them from this point on for the rest of their lives. 

I know that each day I have to advocate for my child in all ways. 

I know that my home still needs to be prepared for their arrival (whenever that may be).

And...I also know this...

People may not consider me to a mother in such a traditional sense.

But, let me tell you...

Doesn't a mother pray for her child? 

Doesn't a mother fight for her child in all ways?

Doesn't a mother prepare for the arrival of her baby?

That's right, they do!

I may not be a mother with a baby in her arms. 

But, I am a mother with a baby in her heart. And, I think that is worthy of honoring too. 

So, to all of you mothers who are just like me and have a baby growing in their heart instead of their womb - Happy Mothers Day. You all hold a dear place in my heart too. 


Follow along with Amy on her adoption journey on her blog, Glimpses of Hope.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Adoption Story: Spencer and Mackensie

What happens when you let go of your version of control and your fears and let God take over? Read the story of how this sweet boy came to Spencer and Mackenzie...

Spencer and I had always planned on adopting, but our official adoption journey began in July of 2016. 

We had some dear family friends who had just recently adopted, so they directed us to Susan at Christian Adoption Consultants. We had an amazing phone call with her where she answered a bunch of our questions, and we hired her the next day! We both just dove head first into choosing a home study agency, getting pictures together for our profile book, so by October, we were ready to start presenting to expectant birth mothers.

We presented our profile a handful of times before being matched with our son’s birth mother (M) in January. I still will never forget the day that Susan called me and told me that we had been matched. We were able to have a phone call with M that following week and flew out to meet her and her boyfriend in February. It was truly amazing to feel the peace that God gave us after both of these times with her. 

She scheduled a c-section for the middle of March and decided that she wanted me to be in the room with her. We truly felt like our dreams and hopes were finally being set into place. 

On March 1st, Spencer left to go on a work trip in Belize with his office. I jokingly said to him that the baby would probably come while he was gone, and, sure enough, M’s caseworker called me at 8:30 that evening and said that M was in labor. It was a whirlwind of getting a hold of Spencer, packing, and getting to the airport, but by the next evening, we had our son in our arms. We were able to spend some time with M that first day and the day that she signed. She is truly our hero, and, while we only have a semi-open adoption, she will forever hold a place of importance and presence in our family. She is the woman who made us parents, and we love her with our whole hearts. 

We made it back home after 2 weeks, and, all of a sudden, we had this baby in the nursery that we had put together during our home study. It was a beautiful moment for us, and I’m so thankful that we allowed God to say, “This is your plan. This is what I’ve called you to do.”

Spencer and I are both planners, so when I look at our adoption journey, what I think is the most amazing part of our journey is seeing how we slowly released our version of control, what we thought we wanted, and completely let go. Adoption can easily be accompanied with a lot of fear: fear of the unknown, fear of saying yes when you don’t have all of the answers. Our view shifted to where instead of being fearful, we turned that scary unknown into a hopeful promise. We knew that God had already hand picked our baby for us. We knew, that despite any unknown circumstances that surrounded a profile, He had already ironed out the details. When we were matched with our precious boy, God truly took away our fears and just let us enjoy the good and His promises. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Adoption Story: Joshua and Kendra

So often, the times we think our dreams are dying are the exact times God is working behind the scenes on events we simply don't know about yet. And sometimes, on the other side of the story, when we piece it all together, we realize our dreams pale in comparison to the ones God has for us. Today Kendra shares her adoption story, a beautiful example of forgotten dreams, steadfast prayers, and hope that can only come from God.

God placed the desire to adopt in our spirits before we ever had any children. After having two biological boys we thought we were done growing our family.

That was until I started to have dreams of a little girl. I would have them on multiple occasions and they became very vivid. God began to awaken us again to adopt after six years of infertility and what seemed like a dream that would never become real. 

After searching the internet, talking with adoptive parents and making many phone calls, I felt confused and overwhelmed by the choices and different avenues of adoption. It wasn't until I came across Christian Adoption Consultants and spoke with Susan, that I finally felt peace and that this really could work. Susan was amazing; she took the guess work out and made the steps towards adoption doable and make sense. 

We began our adoption journey with CAC in early December. We were home study ready by the end of January and matched for adoption by February 26th. We had a feeling once we said "yes" to adoption that God would take care of the rest. We knew that it could go quick or take some time. I really looked at the time spent in process as God's confirmation that we were right in the center of His will.  We had generous donors, extra pay raises, and an entire nursery donated and so much more in those few short months. 

We had set in our minds that we would lean on the Lord for every "yes" and "no" which proved to be built in his perfect plan. There were so many "God" moments, or, what I like to call them, "kisses" along the way. We found out the day we had our Home Study visit that our social worker received a call from our daughter's birth mom for the very first time asking about adoption. Only God works out things like that...

Our daughter Violet was born on Palm Sunday, April 9th, a day that we reflect and remember the Hope and triumphal entry of our King Jesus.  What more could be said about adoption than "redemption?" God redeemed what had been taken away and He did it with love. We had our daughters' name picked out for two years. The week we brought her home from the hospital our yard and neighborhood was blooming in violets of every shade. Just another confirmation that this was the design of the Creator. We are still breathing in the goodness of God. 

Those years of infertility and what seemed to be a dream that had died, all make sense now. Without the wait, without the learning years, without the trusting we would not be holding our beautiful daughter Violet! 

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