Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fundraiser Shtuff

I cannot believe it is almost December! I never even got used to November, and feel like Halloween was last week! Josh and I spent the entire day dragging out our Christmas decorations and putting up lights. This is our first Christmas in our new home, and since last Christmas we were temporarily living with my parents, we haven't seen our Christmas stuff in two years! We momentarily lost about four boxes of decorations and lights, and after a minor freak out session and pouting over the lost Christmas artifacts, I found them in my hall closet. All is well! I wonder if one of the reasons it feels completely wrong to be putting up lights already is that it was like 80 degrees today...what's that about? Anyways...

With December sneaking up on us, so does the December Fundraiser! Saturday, December 3rd, is our Mini Photo Session Fundraiser, which will be held at Saguaro Ranch Park and last all day! Our sessions were completely booked almost right away, and I have been looking forward to this day ever since! Lisa Warren, who owns Mood Photography and also happens to be my sweet cousin, offered to do this for us and we could not be more grateful. She is an adoptive mama herself and you can see pictures of her gorgeous family on

If you are one of the lucky families who booked a session for Saturday, we want to thank you so much for playing a huge part in our adoption! Thank you for participating and I am so excited you will have some beautiful family photos to remind you of how you have blessed our family!

In other news, we have picked a date for the yard sale...mark your calendars for Saturday, January 14th! We will be hosting the Adoption Benefit yard sale at our home, and will be accepting donations for this yard sale from now until the event! We made room in our garage and hope this sale will be a big success! Contact me if you have stuff you'd like to drop by, and we will arrange a time!

With December also comes the start of our homestudy interviews, the first one in just two weeks!  We appreciate your prayers as we continue this process. We will also begin seven weeks of adoption classes through our adoption agency in mid-January, so things are really starting to happen! I know it will go by very quickly with the holidays around the corner!

We are looking at doing our Raffle Event in February, and you can click on "Ways You Can Help" on the top of this blog for more information on how to be a part of that!

Thank you again for your continued prayers and support! Pray for things to go smoothly on Saturday, that the weather will be beautiful, and that everyone will be totally blessed by their pictures and the opportunity they had to bless us!

Friday, November 25, 2011


It has been awhile since my last blog entry! We have had a very exciting couple of weeks and I want to keep you posted on everything. Our official Change Drive fundraiser ended on November 10th, but we have been so blessed to continue receiving change donations from friends and family. Thank you so much to everyone who continues to give to help us reach our goal and bring home a little one. We are so blessed by you guys.

Last week our family was also blessed to go on a vacation to Disneyland with my parents and brother and sisters. My sister, Lisa, gifted us with this trip shortly after Lily passed away to give us something to look forward to, and we really did! It was a wonderful time and the kids especially had a blast. Below is a picture of all of us kids on Splash Mountain, J*'s face is priceless! It was a great way to spend our Thanksgiving vacation!

Another very exciting thing happened while we were at Disneyland! Our caseworker called and scheduled our first homestudy interview for mid-December! This is another big step in the process and we are really excited to move forward! This appointment will be to go over our Taylor Johnson Temperament Analysis results. From what I've heard from other couples, the answers we gave and the results will help our caseworker have an idea of who we are as people, as parents, and as a couple, and give us lots of topics to discuss! I am really excited to continue the process of our adoption.

Our December fundraiser, if you remember, is the Photo Sessions on December 3rd. All of our sessions are booked and we are SO blessed by that! We are saving up now for the remainder of our Match Book fee, then will be saving for our final adoption placement fee, which will be due upon placement of our little one!

Our January fundraiser will be a HUGE YARD SALE! I say huge in a hopeful way, but I have already started receiving donations for the yard sale, and our garage is filling up quick! If you have anything to donate, let me know!

February will be a Raffle Event, more details to come, but it will be a lot of fun and a great chance to get some very cool prizes while helping us reach our fundraising goal.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and Josh and I are keenly aware of how much we have to be grateful for. We are blessed beyond comprehension, and our God continues to pour blessings on us each and every day in so many ways. I would like to take a few paragraphs and thank Him here for just a few things we are thankful for!

-Our marriage, which is a complete miracle in itself, showing first-hand God's healing power, grace, forgiveness, and immense LOVE for us both!

-Our babies, ALL OF THEM!!! Each one has blessed us tremendously! E*, who is our precious lover girl, constantly building us up and telling me how pretty I am and how I am the best mommy God has ever created! She is such a huge piece of my heart, and Josh and I can't get enough of her. J*, who is the sweetest, funniest, goofiest child on this earth. We are so thankful for the laughter he brings into this world, intentionally and unintentionally! My sweet Lily, who taught me and Josh how much love can exist in two short hours and two tiny feet, and who gave us something incredible to look forward to when we leave this earth. For my tiny lost little ones who I never knew or saw or held, but who changed me and my relationship with the Lord for the better, and who gave me an irreplaceable way to relate to people I've never met or barely know on an incredibly personal level.

-Our families! Josh and I have AMAZING families on both sides. They are supportive, loving, funny, godly, wonderful people who we love so much. I hit the in-law JACKPOT with Josh's family, and I couldn't be more grateful for the mom and dad and sister (and now brother-in-law) that I inherited when I married Josh. They are incredible, and I'm so glad they live so close! On top of that, my parents and brother and sister and soon-to-be sister-in-law are huge blessings to our little family, each of them loving us passed what is expected and always going above and beyond to support us and love on us. We are so glad each person lives so close to us and we get to see each other on a regular basis. Our extended families are huge and amazing as well, and Josh and I know how blessed we are to have been placed is such incredible families.

-Our home, which we do not take for granted and are so thankful to have! We love our house and hope to be there for a very, very long time! (Josh would like to die there...but only because that's how much he hates moving!)

-Our friends. I am not sure how I got the friends I did, but I am quite confident that I have the best, most amazing, and wonderful friends on this earth. I am so blessed to have so many people in my life that love us and can make me laugh so hard my stomach hurts. They have been there for me and Josh through some incredibly difficult times, and have not only stuck around but also been our support and source of comfort and speakers of Truth when we need to hear it the most. You know who you are, and we LOVE YOU!!!

-Our God. As E* would say, best for last! How do you express enough gratitude for our Lord? I don't think it is possible. But I know He knows my heart, and knows how utterly thankful I am to have a God who loves me personally, who cries with me and laughs with me and feels everything I feel. A God who does not change and will never leave my side. He is the giver of all the other things I'm thankful for!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving as well! If you are praying for us, please cover our birth mom in prayer. As we get further and further in this adoption process, it is more and more likely that our baby is being carried right now by a very brave and amazing woman who desperately needs our prayers. Pray for her continued strength, for wisdom, for God to provide her needs and comfort her in a very difficult time. Pray that God will cross our paths in a way that will show how awesome He is! As always, pray for God to provide the funds necessary to complete this adoption, and that the process will continue to go as smoothly as it has so far. He has granted us a whole lot of patience so far, because Josh and I feel totally at peace with His timing, which isn't exactly normal for us! ;)

We will keep you posted, and once again, thank you all so much for following our journey and praying with us!

A Thanksgiving photo of our family...praying next year we'll be a family of five!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Quick Update

Just wanted to update you all on the we got a notification from the courts that our application for our certification to adopt has officially been filed, and that our adoption agency is to turn in our completed home study by February 8th. This is just cool because it reassures me that things are moving along, even if I can't see them.

If you have been following along, you have already seen that we had a wonderful response to the Change Drive and were able to raise enough money to not only cover our home study (which was paid in full last week!) but also our entire class fee! This was a HUGE answer to prayer and we are so incredibly grateful that God surprised us with far more than we were even hoping for.

The Change Drive was a hit, and I know there are still a lot of families collecting change, so we will definitely keep it going! If you would like to continue collecting spare change for our Adoption Fund, awesome! We still have a very long way to go and we are so thankful for each and every penny that is donated.

Our December Fundraiser is the Mini-Photo Sessions, and every spot was booked weeks ago, so we are really excited about that as well! The money from that will make a huge dent in our Match Fee, which will be due sometime in March I'm guessing. The remainder of our Adoption fees will be due upon placement of our baby, and who knows when that will be?! It is impossible to know how long we will wait for a baby after being placed in the Match Book, it could be a day, a week, or more than a year! So we will keep chipping away at it and pray that God will give us what we need when we need it!

Thank you so much for walking this road with us. Your support means the world to me and Josh and there is absolutely no way we could do this without the backing of our friends and families.

Until next time...:)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Change Drive Total!

Well, after counting all the change that's been turned in (and not all of it has, we know there are still lovely people collecting change but for the purpose of this fundraiser we are totaling it now), we have a grand total!

We had 19 people/families turn in change by yesterday, which makes our total even more amazing! We totaled each one individually, so if you're at all curious about your total contact me. ;)

Okay, enough with the suspense. Our Grand Total for our very first Adoption Fundraisler was...


This is AMAZING on every level! We are blown away and so thankful to each of you who participated! Thank you so much for making this such a success!

We are so relieved that we have enough in our adoption account to not only fund the home study, but also to pay for our adoption classes!!! We even have a head start on our Matching Service Fee which will be due sometime in March or April.

This is amazing, wonderful news and we are so excited at what God's doing!

Now for the winner of the Fleming's Gift Cards...the winner is...Miss Sarah Mauer! She handed over an impressive freezer bag full of change and won by a landslide haha! Congratulations and THANK YOU Sarah!!! Enjoy your dinner! :)

If you are still collecting, thank you so much. We have a bunch of empty baby bottles now, so if you would like one please let us know!

Thank you guys so much, we are so excited and thankful to each one of you.

Thank you!!!

Still Counting...

Okay, it has been a rough week, but it has also been a wonderful week. I had a very special birthday yesterday with a whole lot of people I love. We've been ridiculously blessed by those who've turned in change and have told us they're still collecting, and we had some more movement in the adoption process today. God is good, today and every day.

We've been really good at keeping up with the change that's been turned in, but we had a lot come in yesterday so we are doing our best to count it so we can announce our total! The thermometer to the right does not include anything from the change drive, so it's awesome that it has still been growing! Josh and I are adding to it little by little as we can afford to, and we have had a few donations that we could not be more thankful for.

I am so blessed by the hearts people have towards giving to our adoption fund. I have heard of children giving their entire piggy banks, couples who are barely scraping by collecting change for us, and friends and family who give and give and give continually. Please, please take a moment to fully grasp how thankful Josh and I are for your generosity. You are playing a huge part in this miracle and I hope you realize that God is using you specifically to bring about a miracle for us and the child He has hand picked for our family! Every penny, every prayer, every hug and note and smile, they are all a part of this adoption journey. They are helping make this possible, and we thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I see the sacrifice some have made to give to our fund, and I realized too late that we should have just had a drawing for the gift cards instead of giving to the highest amount...but what's done is done, and next time it will be a random drawing for all who participate! Some sacrifice a lot to give a little, and I am so very thankful for each and every penny that is given to us for this baby.

So we are still counting the change, but hopefully by the end of this weekend we will have a grand total that we can all be super excited over!

Our adoption agency cashed our home study check today...and God's timing is so very perfect because whew! We had just enough in just the nick of time (That might give you a clue to the change drive total but I don't care)! I am amazed by His perfect provision and timing, and feel even more blessed by your gifts, because without them we would have to put our home study on hold. Thank you!!!

If you are praying for us, and I hope you still are, please pray for our home study interviews to get scheduled and that the paperwork needed will get back to the agency quickly and safely. Please pray that we will continue to experience a smooth road and that we will not have any big hiccups along the way. But..if we do...that we will handle them with patience and grace. Please continue to be in prayer for our child and the birth family, wherever they are. Please pray that God will continue to provide what we need when we need it to complete this adoption.

We love you guys so much, and I'm so thankful that you're following along and taking these steps with us. Thank you for everything you do for our family!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I am posting this video because I watch it often, and I wanted to share it. Lily was due to be born tomorrow, but was born on Father's Day instead. I love the words to the song on our Lily video, because they are so completely true and were written and sung by a mommy who lost a baby girl as well. She captures my heart perfectly and sings of heartbreak as well as hope.

The video won't play automatically from this blog but will take you to youtube for security reasons. I hope you take as much comfort in it as I do when I see it, and special thanks to Lisa W. for not only taking the pictures, but putting together this video as well as an extended one that Josh and I have at home. It is precious to me and lets us relive those sweet two hours we got to spend with Lily whenever we are especially feeling her absence, as we are this week.

Love you pumpkin.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Rough Week

Okay, this is not an easy week. It is a pretty rough week actually. I knew it wouldn't be an easy week, so I had expectations of being emotional and having rough days. I was completely right, and to be honest I just can't wait for it to be over.

When I found out I was pregnant with Lily, one of my first thoughts was "When am I due?". I whipped out my phone to find out. They have websites for this, you just google "Due Date Calculator," type in the requested information, and boom! Your due date. When the page popped up that said, "Congratulations! Your baby is due on November 10th!" My jaw dropped. What?! How cool! My baby was due on my birthday? What are the odds? How fun!

But I also was hit with the reality that this pregnancy wasn't guaranteed to end happily. If something were to go wrong, my birthday would definitely be tainted, not only this next one, but all the ones after that. "Let's just hope that doesn't happen," I thought.

And for the first half of my pregnancy, nothing did happen. I was finally in a place of believing that my birthday might not be the most fun I've ever had (either giving birth or recovering from it), but it was sure to be extra special.

Alas, things did not work out how I had hoped. The fear that my birthday would forever be tainted with crushed hopes has been realized, and this week leading up to my birthday has been difficult. Every day I think of how this is just not how I wanted to spend these days. I wanted to be great with child, wondering if she'd be born on my actual birthday or the arguably cooler date of 11-11-11. I am in a constant state of bad mood, forcing myself to smile but inwardly feeling very jipped. When people ask me what I want for my birthday, I swallow the urge to say, "A baby". When people ask me what I want to do for my birthday, I think, "Honestly? I want to crawl into bed and cry all day." But I don't, and I think it is wise that my sister and friends have filled that day to the brim with activity so that I won't have a single moment to be alone with my thoughts.

I have known other grieving mamas who have talked about having certain dates that are particularly difficult to get through. Always the anniversary of the death. Always the birth day. Always the due date (if lost in pregnancy). Sometimes, just another Monday, when the gaping hole your child left for some reason seems particularly noticeable.

I miss Lily every day. I think of her birth day often. I think of that Horrible Day when we found out she had died. I think so often of what could have been, and what life would be like had she lived. But this week, this coming hard day, these days are worse than normal because it is a stark reminder of what isn't happening. I'm not packing my bag. I'm not having my last day at work. I'm not preparing the nursery. I'm not second guessing our name choice. I'm not washing J* and E*'s Big Brother and Big Sister T-Shirts. I'm not excited and nervous and happy and scared and thrilled. It's just another week in November. And it isn't any fun.

This is so not where I thought I would be this week. Though Josh and I are happy and excited about our decision to adopt, we are still grieving. We will be for years to come, forever probably. But this week, this week we are grieving hard. I am grieving hard. I am feeling sad and bitter and angry and sad again. My husband is enduring living with an extra-sensitive wife, my kids are putting up with mommy's irritability. Even my blog entry "Adoption Education..."  had a bit of a touchy edge to it this week (of which I hope I didn't offend...I made a few adjustments because Josh pointed out my tone was a little more confrontational than I probably wanted to be). I have been short with family, stuck my foot in my mouth more than once with friends, and have not been the most fun person to be around. I'm in a general bad mood and am thankful for friends and family that are understanding and loving and patient.

I am especially thankful that I have a God who is putting up with my bad mood. I have spent many a car ride venting to Him this week. I have questioned and cried and inwardly given Him the cold shoulder. Why Lord, would you have my due date be my birthday? What's that about? It's not enough to take my daughter but you also have to ruin my birthday too? And while we're on the subject, did she have to be born on Father's Day? I mean seriously, why don't you just strike our house with lightning on Christmas and frost this cupcake?

I vent, I cry, I vent, I clench my teeth and say nothing. I apologize. I get mad again. But I know He can handle it. He knew this would be a hard week. He has not forgotten. And He comforts. I am fully confident that without my personal relationship with Jesus, I would be so far off the deep end that no amount of prescription drugs could retrieve me. Where do people go with this kind of grief when they don't have God to turn to? What do you do with that much anger and confusion and sadness? Because let me tell you, being a Christian does not give you an immunity idol to use in life. You still experience all kinds of difficult and awful and horrible things. Having a relationship with Jesus does not make your life perfect. It only gives you hope when it isn't. And it isn't.

I have a treasure chest that my mom gave me after a very, very difficult time in my life (arguably even more so than losing Lily). It is filled to the brim with scraps of paper with verses written on them. They were written by many people that love me, and they all have themes of hope, comfort, and triumph in tragedy. I had that chest opened every day after she gave it to me. Many days after my first miscarriage. Most days after Lily died. Every day this week.

My favorite verse, if forced to pick, is Psalm 34:18. "The Lord is close to the broken hearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Awesome promises. Promises I have seen Him keep. I think it is important to point out here that the verse does not say, "The Lord prevents all broken hearts and never allows His children to have crushed spirits." He acknowledges that bad things happen. He knows we will have struggles and trials and broken hearts and crushed spirits. He does not pretend your life will be void of pain and difficulty. He flat out says "In this life you will have trials"! That's a given! But He does not leave us hanging. He does not let us go through this alone. He promises to be close to us during those times.

Before I lost Lily, one of my greatest fears (and I had actually thought about this, because I am a woman and that's what we do) was having to give birth to a baby I knew was dead. I had heard of it happening, knew women who had done it, and I thought to myself, "Impossible. I could not physically do that. I would have to be knocked out, put under, medicated into oblivion. There is just no way I could do it." When one of your greatest fears is realized, it is a surreal thing. Suddenly it wasn't just a sad story I had heard. I was living it. I was being forced to deal with it. And God met me where I was at. He gave me the strength I could never have imagined existed. I was broken hearted. I was crushed. And He was close. And He saved me. Just like He promised.

I am not having a good week. I am hurting, I am sad, I am angry, I am confused, and God is so close to me that I can feel Him. That's the trade off. I truly believe that people who experience pain on the deepest of levels also have experienced the Lord on the deepest of levels. We have seen a side of Him that not everyone gets to see. We have experienced miraculous comfort and peace that not everyone gets to experience. Would I trade all of that for a life with Lily? Probably. But that's the mommy in me talking.

I am still sincerely grateful for the deepened relationship I have with God because of my broken heart. I take comfort in His promises, especially in the one that gives me an eternity with my babies. Until then, I endure. I breath in and I breath out, I hope, and I look forward to the day when there is no such thing as rough weeks.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Down to the Wire!

Wow November 10th is creeping up on us quickly! If you have been so kind as to participate in our Change Drive, thank you so very much! We have been SO excited and totally blessed to count the change people have dropped off, and made the first deposit into our adoption account last week (and it was an awesome one!!!). What's really cool is our bank allows us to drop the unrolled change off in big bags and they count it again in their machines and credit our account immediately, no charge! Josh and the kids and I have been counting it as it comes in though, and it has been a great opportunity for Math and Geography lessons! (J* wants to know what state is on each coin...kind of slows us down but it's been fun!) Remember, if you would like to be in the contest for the $100 gift card to Fleming's Steakhouse, get your change back to us by November 10th to be counted!

In other news, the Adoption Agency has received our packet and is working on it right now. Our references are being checked and I am really excited that our packet isn't just sitting on someone's desk but actually being worked on as we speak! We are hoping to make our first homestudy appointment in the next couple of weeks and get the ball rolling on that. Our classes start on January 11th and that will be the next big step in the process.

Right now we are working on fundraising and praying hard for the whole process. God has really laid the birth mom on my heart and I've been praying for her diligently. I don't know her, but her sacrifice and her heart amaze me, and I want there to be at least one person out there praying for her daily. She might not know it, but I hope she can feel it!

It has also been really cool to get to talk to so many different people about the whole adoption process. So many people have been interested and asking questions and it is awesome to share our story and also learn from others who have gone through it or know someone who has. I love talking about adoption and answering questions and sharing how God has totally worked in our lives to bring us to this point. Our story has only just begun, but it is already a very interesting one!

Stay tuned for Change Drive updates and the Grand Total and Winner of the awesome donated prize!!! I can't thank you guys enough for participating and being so generous with your money and your support. We are so appreciative of everything, and hope we can convey that to you all!

If you are praying, thank God with us for how awesome He's been in our lives! We are blessed beyond measure, and through everything we have been through and continue to struggle with, He has given us more than I could ever hope to deserve. Thank Him for the awesome turnout so far in the Change Drive and for filling up EVERY spot in our December Mini Session Photoshoot! Thank Him for making the road totally smooth so far, we aren't expecting the entire process to go this easily, but we will enjoy it while it does!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Adoption Education for the Masses, Part One

I am new to this. Let's be clear on that. I have never adopted before, I hardly know anyone personally who has adopted, and every step I take is a new one. But I have learned a few things along the way so far, and since I think it would do you all a little good to learn right along with me, I thought I would share some of my newly acquired adoption wisdom.

We are expecting a baby. We are not pregnant, but we are on the road to having a baby join our family. I am slowly learning the vast difference in being pregnant with a baby, and expecting a baby through adoption. There is a difference in how people treat you, the resources available to you, the cost to bring the baby home, the wait time, the knowledge of the wait time, the expectations of what your baby will look like, act like, be like. 

In the past, whenever I got pregnant (now that, I am an expert on) I have had about twenty thousand books and limitless internet resources to show me exactly what stage of pregnancy I am in, what to expect in that stage, what my baby looks like in that stage, and what stage I will be in next week. There are discussion forums, phone apps, and websites devoted entirely to informing you about your pregnancy and the little one growing inside of you. You have a due date, and barring any complications, you can expect that your family will be Plus One on or around X day, of Y month, of Z year.

Adoption...not so much. I have no idea, NO IDEA, when we will be Plus One. I have no clue what stage my baby is in in his or her development. I don't know if he or she has even been conceived yet! I do not have books called, "What to Expect When You're Expecting Through Adoption". I don't have a phone app that sends me a cute little email every time I get a copy of something back to my caseworker or we raise enough money to complete the next step of the adoption process. Just like a pregnant mama, I am waiting for my baby to be born and handed over to me, but I cannot tell you with the slightest bit of accuracy when that will be. I am expecting, but I am clueless as to when I am expecting, how I am expecting, and who I am expecting.

I have my own ways of learning more about the adoption process, and one of those ways is by delving into the blogosphere and blogstalking every adoptive journey I possibly can. Man, there are a LOT of adoptive mommies blogging out there, and let me tell you, they know their stuff. They have ridiculous resources, advice, encouragement, knowledge, wisdom, experience, and LOVE. They can answer every question and offer research and resources better than any librarian possibly could. They've been there, their friends have been there, and they know what they're doing. Thank God, because I do NOT.

Another way I prepare myself in this process is by reading everything I can get my hands on. I read and I read and I read. I did that when I was pregnant too, except now instead of studying up on what not to eat when you're expecting and how to prepare yourself for natural childbirth (haha yeah right, I never read anything about that, but I'm sure some women do), my reading includes topics such as open adoption and inter-racial families and fundraising ideas. Just like a pregnant mom, I try my best to educate myself so I can be better prepared when issues arise. And issues always arise, no matter how you're expecting.

Another huge difference I have noticed between expecting through pregnancy and expecting through adoption are the comments. If you have ever been pregnant, I'm sure you have some doozies of your own to report, and let me tell you, being pregnant with the twins brought out some of the most ridiculous comments from people's mouths that I still shake my head at. Below is a video I personally love to send other mommies of twins because they have inevitably seen the dumbest side of humanity just like I have when pregnant or out and about with their multiples. It has nothing to do with this post other than it just goes to show you how people say things without thinking, and think things without knowing, and how a bit of restraint and education can go a long way when talking to others about their children (adopted or not).

Wasn't that fun? If I had a penny for every time someone told me I was "done" since I had a boy and a girl in one sha-bam, I would have enough money to fund this adoption. But I digress.

In following some other hopeful and successful adoptive mommies' blogs, I had read some of the things people might say about your adoption when the topic came up, and I am trying my best to prepare myself in the event that one of those things is said to me in the future. I think naivety is the root of careless comments, and that's why, before we get too far into this process, I thought it would be good to share some of the things you shouldn't say to an adoptive family. I imagine that this will be Part One in a series of many on this topic, but that's fine! I am learning right long with you all, and promise to share my wisdom as I acquire it. ;)

Disclaimer: I have said some of these things myself, so I in no way judge you if you have too, but now that you know what is hurtful or careless, you can no longer play the ignorance card, and neither can I.

Do not refer to the potential birth mother as the "real mom" or my kids as my "real kids". When we do finally add a baby to our family through adoption, I will be the mom, birth mom will be the birth mom, and they will all be my real kids.

The decision to surrender a child for adoption is absolutely heart-wrenching, difficult beyond imagination, and the most selfless act a mother can commit for her child if she feels she cannot raise that child the way he or she needs to be raised. They did not "give their baby away" and they didn't surrender because they "just didn't want the baby". I never, ever want my child to hear anyone say he or she was not wanted. In case you haven't noticed, getting an abortion is as simple as going to the dentist these days. This woman could have made a very different decision, and didn't. She chose to carry this baby to term despite the consequences, judgement, and heartache it caused her and her family. She then chose to give that child their best possible chance, even though it went against every fiber in her being. She LOVED that child, and therefore made a choice to surrender them for adoption. Respect those mothers, love those mothers, appreciate their sacrifice, and pray for their strength, but do not judge them, and if you do, don't ever let me hear you do it.

When first finding out about someone's adoption, don't let the first words out of your mouth be negative ones. Immediately saying things like, "Aren't you afraid you won't love the baby as much as your biological kids?" or "I know someone who took the baby home with them and then the mother wanted her back!" Trust me, adoptive parents have thought through each possible scenario, even the awful ones. We have done our research, we are aware of the risks, we have heard the horror stories, and we are choosing it anyway. If your friend or family member told you, "Guess what!? I'm pregnant!" Would you immediately say, "Congratulations! But what if you have a miscarriage? I know three women who have had miscarriages." I truly hope not, because if you would, you are a crappy friend. And also not that bright.

We would never say this to a pregnant woman because we assume she knows about the risk of miscarriage and certainly doesn't need it to be shoved in her face when she is already worried about a million other things, including losing the baby. Adoptive mommies are no different. We do not live in a bubble, and yes, we have actually heard of failed adoptions and are not blind to the fact that it is a possibility. Certain questions are definitely valid! But negativity straight out of the gate is uncalled for, and be sure to interject some encouraging words along the way!

Adoption Education Nugget: Birth mothers are required to wait 72 hours after giving birth (and must be off all drugs for this amount of time) before they can sign papers relinquishing their child. Once it is done, it is done. There is no turning back, there is no changing your mind. That child's adoptive parents have all rights and responsibilities for that child from there on out, forever. This is one of the many reasons Josh and I chose the agency that we did. They really do their due diligence to make absolutely sure that these birth mothers cannot and do not want to parent prior to signing anything. The mothers are counseled through the process, and that is where part of our fees go. If a mother chooses to parent, that is the best situation for that child. Josh and I do not want to adopt a child who could have and should have been parented by their birth family. If a mother changes her mind in those 72 hours, after we've brought baby home, it would be heartbreaking for us. But we do not want to separate a child from a mother who wants to and has the resources to raise them. Josh and I have dealt with staggering loss. We are not naive to the possibilities of loss in adoption just like we can no longer close our eyes to the possibility of losing a pregnancy. It happens, it is heartbreaking, and we are aware of it. There is no need to remind us.

As you may have guessed from some of the things I've said in previous posts, Josh and I are open to adopting a child of a different race. We are also open to adopting a child with various health issues and backgrounds and genetic pre-dispositions. This was not an easy decision, mostly because we don't know anything about being a multi-racial family or raising a child with health issues. We are very uneducated about it, but are doing our best not to be. When we were filling out our "Child Deisred Form" for the adoption agency, it was one of the hardest things we have ever had to do. We would look at the list and think, am I not checking that box because I'm afraid, or because I know that we would not be the best fit for that child?

The form I'm talking about is a lot like ordering a sandwich at Which Wich, if you've ever been there. If you haven't, it is a sandwich shop that has bags with various sandwich options, and you use these red markers to check each box of the things you want. This form had a million different options for children and their backgrounds, and Josh and I had to go through each one item by item and check the boxes we'd be comfortable with getting a phone call about. I will not go into detail on these options because I think it is a private decision between me and Josh, but I will disclose that we did choose "Any Race". Again, not a decision we came to lightly, but one we feel good about. We do not want to limit God and close the door on the child He has for us because we are scared of a new situation. What we need you to understand is this; We did not come to this decision lightly, we made it, and we need you to support it.

Ask questions. Don't be shy! If you don't know, ask! We are learning too, and we love fielding questions from people who want to be involved and learn more about the process. And a little nugget of advice from my friend Dwight Schrute:

 "Before I do anything, I ask myself, would an idiot do this? If the answer is yes, then I do not do that thing."

Same goes for talking to adoptive families. Ask, encourage, pray, but tread lightly. Be thoughtful of the words you use and sensitive of the things you say. Just as you would be sensitive to a pregnant mother as not to upset her, be sensitive to the expectant adoptive mother (and father), as you might upset her too. We are in an emotionally fragile state just like other expectant parents. There are worries, fears, unknowns, and a lot of waiting. Encouragement goes a long, long way.

So that will end my lecture for today! I hope you learned something, just as I do every time I read an entry similar to this on another blog. Josh and I know we have a lot more to learn and will have patience as our friends and family do the same. We are all in this together and we do not expect everyone to be completely educated on the topic of adoption. We do, however, hope you get educated. Keep reading this blog, keep asking us questions (we might not know the answer but we'll find it!), keep praying, and keep supporting us just as you have done from the start.

Our families love our children harder than any family loves any child anywhere on this earth, and I have every confidence that this baby, no matter who they are, will be loved just as hard. It might take actually seeing the baby and holding them to fall head over heels in love, but this will be one very, very lucky baby. Our children can't comprehend bringing a baby home after one surprise phone call and suddenly having a new sibling. Our mothers do not have the inside advantage of watching my belly grow and falling in love with fuzzy ultrasound pictures. Our fathers have a hard enough time imagining a new grand baby when I'm pregnant, let alone when we are adopting. Our brothers and sisters can't imagine loving a new niece or nephew as much as they love Jake and Eisley, because how does that much love exist? Our friends have never experienced adoption first-hand and aren't sure of the right things to say or how and when to say it. But when that baby finally arrives, when they lay eyes on him or her, no matter who that child is, there will be a ridiculous amount of love added to this world. We have felt the support from them, know they back us 100%, and know they are in prayer for us every day. And though this adoption process is so very different than expecting a baby through pregnancy, one thing remains the same: This. Child. Will. Be. Loved. LOVED. No matter how they get here, when they get here, what they look like, or who they are.

And I can't wait.