Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Let me start out by saying that 99% of people that hear about our adoption journey are completely supportive, wonderful, and kind. Most people are nothing but encouraging. But...there's that darned 1%. The small percentage of people that just "don't get it". The people that have opinions and aren't afraid to voice them, no matter how ignorant they are or how very little they actually know about the topic.

When you become open about a decision such as adoption, lots of things happen. You open yourself up to people on a personal level, mostly because you need the support. You tell your story in hopes that others will gather around you and encourage you, pray for you, support you. And as a whole, this is exactly what happens. But you also open yourself up to criticism. It's the one downside to being open about a journey like this one. The positives far outweigh the negatives, in my opinion. Where would we be if Josh and I had stayed completely tight lipped about our adoption decision? We wouldn't have the prayer support, we wouldn't have the emotional support, we wouldn't have the financial support that we so desperately need to continue with this adoption. It is completely worth it, to us, to be open about our story. It has connected us with people we otherwise would never have met. It has opened doors that would otherwise have remained shut. It has allowed people to see God work step by step, "making the rough places smooth" as it says in Isaiah. And that, after all, is our goal. To show how awesome our God is!

When I first started this blog, I told my readers they were lucky, because they were getting to see the journey from the very beginning! And I think I was absolutely right! It has been simply amazing to watch the Lord work throughout these months. He has provided continuously, faithfully. He has taught us so much. He has used our story to reach others, to soften hearts and open eyes to the idea of adoption. And we aren't even done yet, we've really only just begun!

But throughout the months, I have had a few comments that I tilt my head at. Usually I'm unable to respond immediately either because it is a comment left on my blog by a conveniently "anonymous" person, or because I'm too stunned or tongue tied to answer intelligently.

So I wanted to take a few moments and explain ourselves a bit. Maybe, then, by writing it all down, I will be able to draw from it when one of those rare comments surfaces. Maybe there are others out there who also get comments such as these and you can tell me how you answer them. Maybe I just want the opportunity to defend our decision, even though I have absolutely no obligation to do so.

I believe the most common head tilting comment is something to the effect of, "Well, don't worry, as soon as you adopt a baby you'll finally get pregnant! Happens all the time!", not really. First of all, I know what makes a baby, and it isn't filling out piles of paperwork and taking weeks of adoption classes. Josh and I are pros at baby making, thank you very much, and we did not pursue adoption because we just couldn't get pregnant, hoping that once the adoption is finalized, we'll "finally" get the baby we always wanted through a pregnancy.

The reality is, many people pursue adoption because having a biological child is not an option, for one reason or another. They might have fertility issues, in which case, no, adopting is actually not going to miraculously cure them, so a comment such as this is hurtful and highly unhelpful. They might have made a decision to adopt instead of having biological children, in which case a comment such as this is not necessarily hurtful, only ignorant. They may have no fertility issues whatsoever and have just felt led to adoption! They may, like us, have absolutely no problem getting pregnant. It's staying pregnant that is the problem. Yes, I may very well get pregnant the instant the adoption is final. But for us, that means nothing. Until I have a healthy baby in my arms, getting pregnant is nothing to smile about.

So, to be clear, we are not adopting in hopes that it will cast a magic spell on my uterus and I will finally be able to carry a baby to term. We are adopting because that's where God led us, and we couldn't be happier about it! If He chooses to someday bless us with another biological child, wonderful. But it won't be "because we adopted." And we are just, if not more, excited about our adoption as we ever were about any of our pregnancies! No need to offer a potential pregnancy as an incentive to adopt. The adoption is the prize!

I think the comment or question that bothers me the most is, "Why don't you just adopt an orphan from ------ (insert third world country or adoption organization here)? There are so many children there that need families."

Ohh. If only it were that easy. You mean to tell me that I could have just "gotten a baby" from there? Well, why didn't you say so?! I had no idea it was so easy! I had no idea that raising tens of thousands of dollars, taking off weeks from work to travel, leaving my children for perhaps months at a time, committing to an older or possibly special needs child for life, and waiting at least two years to be considered by said country or organization would be so easy! Why on earth didn't I think of that?! And P.S., thanks for your veiled comment on my selfishness for not adopting the special needs, older, or tragically orphaned child that you saw on some website or T.V. commercial.

That's what I want to say. But I don't. But if you have ever asked this, it's what I was really thinking. ;) Adoption is a HUGE, life changing, monumental decision that is absolutely, positively, never entered into lightly. And that is only the decision to adopt. Once that choice is made, there is decision after decision after decision that must be made at each stage of the game. Well, we've decided to what? There is international, domestic, open, closed, fost-to-adopt. There is special needs adoption, adoption of an older child or sibling group, trans-racial adoption. There are about a million different agencies and a million different babies and children that need homes. do you choose? I can't answer that for everyone. I can only answer it for us...we prayed.

We prayed and we researched. We asked around. We read blogs. We talked to people who had adopted. We asked questions. And we made decisions. We made them because we had to, and we went with our gut. That's really all I can say about it. Josh and I looked at our family and asked ourselves, "What do we feel like our family can commit to?" Our children are still young. Not so young though, that we can't ask them what they want. This adoption affects them just as much as it does us. So we did ask them. We took their desires and their hearts into consideration when making our decision. We took our own hearts and abilities and jobs and commitments into consideration. We prayed for God to give us a peace about where He was leading us.

And because I want to, I will share why we made the decision we did. I'm sure there will be at least one person who disagrees with us. Who thinks we should have chosen differently, who thinks we are selfish or ignorant or scared. That's fine. I'm still confident in our decision because we made each one prayerfully. And there is no better place to be than in God's will. There is no safer place, there is no place I'd rather be.

Josh and I looked into foster care. We attended a class and information session on the topic and became familiar with the process. We both felt, strongly, that it simply wasn't the path God was leading us down. Our children have faced quite enough loss for their little lives, and we could not in good conscience bring a child into our home that had a very high likelihood of being returned to his or her birth family after months, years even. Foster care is something we may consider when our children are older, but right now, we feel they need the stability of a permanent adoption, where they are free to bond and love the child as their own sibling without fear of that child being reunited with their birth family (which, we learned, is often the goal for children in foster care). And to be frank, I need that stability as well.

We looked very closely at international adoption. Each country has it's own requirements for adoptive couples. Josh and I are not yet 30, which actually eliminates quite a few countries and programs from our list of choices. Some countries, incidentally, actually have many other requirements, even taking into account your weight and BMI and other health issues. I have a chronic health issue that is perfectly under control but could very well put an international adoption in jeopardy very far into the process.

We also had to consider the fact that most, if not all, countries require you to travel, usually in two trips, to the country for court dates and to pick up the child. Josh is a teacher and he has zero flexibility when it comes to time off. His particular situation would simply not allow for this. That, and the fact that I could not picture leaving my children for weeks and possibly months at a time while they are so young made international adoption really questionable to us. To us, at this point in our lives, today. For other people, it is right. It fits, it works, they have a peace about it and a desire to move forward. As much as we would love to adopt internationally (and we would!), we just didn't have a peace about it, and there's not much else I can say on the topic.

One evening, early in the decision making process, Josh and I sat the kids down and talked with them. We asked them a lot of questions. We explained how adoption worked. We wanted to know their little hearts and get a feel for what they wanted. Both children were adamant that we adopt. They very badly wanted a little brother or sister "that wouldn't die". They knew we had tried again and again to give them a sibling, but each of those babies had gone to heaven. They told us it was time to adopt.

One of the other things that both children clearly expressed to us was that they wanted a baby. "A baby baby, one that still needs a bottle." In five year old language, they wanted an infant, not an older child or even a toddler. To be completely honest, so did we. My heart longs for a baby. My heart desires to once again rock a small infant to sleep, to be there from the beginning. In Jake's words, "I want to watch a human develop from the very beginning stages." ;) Is this selfish when there are so many older children out there who need homes? I have asked myself that question a lot. And the answer I've come up with is, it is no more selfish than getting pregnant.

Why do you get pregnant when you can adopt? Usually, it is for selfish reasons. You want to experience a pregnancy, you want a child with your own genetic makeup mixed with your soul mate's own genetic makeup. You want a baby. You want your baby. And no one faults you for it. I've never heard someone announce a pregnancy and then be told, "Why, that's a strange decision. Don't you think pregnancy is awfully selfish when there are millions of orphans out there that need families?"

Is that particular criticism true? Technically, yes, it is. But no one says that or rarely thinks it! Yet our decision to pursue domestic infant adoption is on some people's radar as "selfish". They've seen the sad faces of orphans in Ethiopia, and to them, it doesn't make sense that we'd choose an infant here in the states that has a dozen other couples in line for him. But the silly thing is, I have friends who are adopting internationally who get the same comments in reverse! "Why would you go all the way to so-and-so when we have so many children right here in America that need homes?" We actually were told that in our foster care information session by the instructor, so I have learned that it simply isn't possible to please everyone. No matter what decision you make, someone will disagree with it.

My children have very little say in most things. They had no say in whether they got a brother or a sister, and they had no say when their sister died and they never got to hold her. This, this I can give them a say in. And we did, because it meant something to us to have our children as part of this huge decision. If it is extremely important to them that we adopt an infant, and that is one of our many choices, yes, we'll try to give them that.

So, we narrowed it down to an infant adoption. We narrowed it down to a domestic adoption. We now needed an agency, a program. Our number one priority was that the agency be a Christian one, and that they take really, really good care of their birth mothers. After a lot of research and talking to many people who had also adopted domestically, we found Christian Family Care Agency. We fell in love with it. We loved their hearts for adoption, foster care, and birth families. We loved how Biblically sound they were. We loved their statement of faith, we loved that they did their best to work with your financial situation, we just fell in love with it. We decided to get an information packet and talked to people who had adopted through their infant adoption program. And we prayed.

Our prayers were always that God light the next step, just the next step. That's all we needed. Just tell us what's next, Lord. And He always did. He would always give us just the next step in the process, one thing at a time. We prayed He'd give us peace throughout the process if we were headed down the right path. We prayed that if this wasn't the path, He'd close the door firmly. But door after door He opened. He just kept opening them, and we kept walking. And soon we found ourselves knee deep in the adoption process!

We started fundraising. We started fundraising early, like, really early. That was a scary, intimidating, and daunting decision. What if we raised money and the adoption fell through? What if we try but no money comes in? How would we pay for it? What if, what if, what if. But...we decided God had led us there, and He'd work out the details. The reality was we were pursuing adoption with our full might, and we were going to need money to do it, period. So we jumped in and decided to just trust the Lord. And He provided.

And now, here we are. We are waiting for God to bring us the baby He had planned for us all along! The baby He had planned for us before we had Jake and Eisley, before our first miscarriage, before Lily, before our last miscarriage. He knew, all along, that this baby was to be part of our family. And He knew what it would take to bring us together. And for other people to say to me, "Why don't you just..." it just puts a lot of power in my hands that I simply don't have! I didn't make things happen this way. I was very open to the Lord's leading. God led us here, slowly, step by step. He closed doors and opened others.

I am confident of this because I have tried walking another path and been quickly turned back to this one! Josh and I very seriously considered a sweet little guy with special health needs living in Russia from Reece's Rainbow. We prayed really hard about him and told the Lord, "We are willing! Just give us the go ahead!" We started pursuing it even, waiting for God to make the path smooth if that was where He wanted us. But early on, God shut that door firmly. Another family stepped forward. Josh didn't feel total peace about continuing, and that was that. God can shut the door. Our job is to pay attention.

We have struggled with knowing "what God's will is". The truth is, sometimes we don't know! We make decisions based on the information we have. Aside from asking ourselves whether or not this is Biblical (okay, adoption is Biblical, but how do I know if it's God's will!?), we don't have a whole lot to go on. So we listen. We pay attention. We stay in Scripture and surround ourselves with other Christians making wise decisions with their lives. We keep praying for guidance, wisdom, direction. All we can do is take a step. Then another step. One at a time.

I am not going to challenge God when He's asked me to do something. When other people question it, I will direct their questions to my supervisor, as it were. ;) Just like at work, I say, "Well, I don't make the rules! I only do what I'm told." If you have an issue with our decision, talk to God. He's the one who led us here. Not many people feel comfortable challenging God. You, they get all brave and questiony with, but bring God into it and suddenly they're so quiet... ;)

Josh and I had a desire to add to our family. We had a desire to adopt a little one. God has awesomely and graciously blessed us with the ability to do that! To the point that we now feel we would be stepping out of His will if we turned around and changed our minds. We are only being obedient. I don't know why God didn't lead us to this country or that country. I don't know why He clearly presented us with this particular agency and program. I don't know why He led us here, when there are a million orphans elsewhere that need families. All I know is that this is where He wants us to be. And who am I to question that? If He wants to shut the door to this, He is perfectly capable of that!

I posted this verse on our blog at the very beginning of our journey, and it has amazed me (though it really shouldn't) that God had done exactly this for us throughout this entire process.

Isaiah 42:16
"I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them."

He has promised to stay with us, right by our side, when we are called to things that are unfamiliar (and for me and most people, unfamiliar = scary!). He has promised to light the way, to guide us, to smooth out the path He wants us to take. But most importantly, He will not forsake us. He will not lead us somewhere difficult or scary and then say, "Peace out homies! You're on your own from here!" He will be there. That is comforting to me, especially because it isn't the path to adoption that is the most scary to me, it is the result. I have no idea what we have gotten ourselves into. I don't know the child He will bring to us or his or her specific needs. I don't know how it will change our family, the challenges this child will bring. I don't know anything! All I know is that God will be there, too.

One little comment from a total stranger that, to me, seemed downright accusatory, led me to write this entry. Maybe I was being sensitive. I'm pretty sure I wasn't. But I know for a fact I'm not the only one that gets challenged with comments and questions like that one, so hopefully this will serve as an encouragement to others on a similar path. Unable to specify exactly why God led them down this particular road, only that He did. Someday we will know why! But today, all I can do is obey.

And, of course, wait. ;)

Monday, March 26, 2012


I hate wating. Like, I hate it. I know most people don't enjoy it, but I think I have a waiting disorder. I do not like waiting in line, I find it nearly impossible to wait to open gifts until Christmas morning, I get positively jittery in traffic, and waiting rooms? Forget it. I mean, an entire room devoted to waiting? Are you kidding me???

And here we are, waiting for a phone call that could come at any time with the most exciting news we've ever gotten! (Maybe coming a close second to finding out our one baby was actually two babies...that was pretty exciting!) I think the reason this particular wait and others like it are so difficult is because I have no idea how long I will be waiting. I can handle the wait if I at least have the ability to cross off days on my calendar and fill the set amount of time with activities meanwhile counting down to the event. If there is anything worse than waiting, it is waiting indefinitely. There is no end in sight, there is no hint as to when your wait will end, and P.S., the thing you are waiting for could come in multiple forms, so not only are we waiting, we aren't entirely sure what we are waiting for. Is our baby a boy? A girl? Is our baby healthy? What will he or she look like? What will the birth family situation be? Will we get a call that the baby is ready to go home, or that a birth mother wants to meet with us? SO many unknowns. So hard to wait.

Josh is having an easier go of things. He is probably the most laid back person I know, and that kind of personality is naturally good at waiting. He does not stress, he does not worry, he just waits. "There's nothing we can do but wait." is what he says to me, which to him is comforting, but to me, that sounds more like, "You are powerless and have zero control over your circumstances." which is actually not comforting to personalities like mine, but thanks anyways hon. ;)

But he is completely right, and there really is nothing we can do! Well, there are a few things I guess! We can and have been praying like crazy. We are praying that even though we have it in our head when the "perfect" time would be to get that call, that God would orchestrate things in His perfect timing. That we will look back and say, "Wow, God, you really knew what you were doing!" We're praying for our birth mom, we're praying for our baby, and we're praying for our finances.

I've also been reading a lot (what's new?) about adoption issues and trying to prepare myself at least a little bit! And last but not least we are working on what we are hoping will be the last fundraiser for this adoption! We have about $2800 left to raise before we reach our goal, and we're so thankful for how far we've come in such a short time! But the reality is we could get a call any time and that money will need to be there when we do, so we're going to get the ball rolling on our last fundraiser very soon!

We enjoyed a nice long two weeks of Spring break and I really enjoyed having Josh home every day! Made me really look forward to summer vacation! We're back into the swing of things now and hopefully I will find some more time to blog. :) I realized it has been a couple of weeks since my last entry and I just wanted to pop in and say we are still waiting! I try to remind myself that this waiting could go on for months, more than a year, a long time. But every time the phone rings or I find I have a new voice message, my heart stops and I think, "I cannot take a whole year of this God!"

But I have definitely been through worse, and I am sure with practice I will get better at this waiting thing. Either that or I will be entirely gray by the time this baby arrives. ;)

Thanks so much for continuing to support us, and praying for us while we continue to wait!!!

Monday, March 12, 2012


Let me tell you what a crazy feeling it is to know that at any moment the phone could ring and our lives will be changed forever...I don't think I can get used to it! It is surreal really. Very exciting though! It hadn't totally sunk in yet that we are only waiting for a call that could literally come at any time until I got the news today that a fellow adoptive mommy and blogger got "The Call" after being in the Match Book for only three weeks! I am addicted to checking our adoption agency's waiting families site to see who's there and who is getting matched with little ones. I've been checking it more frequently lately waiting to watch our letter go live on the site (it did today! Yay!) and get so excited when other couples, especially ones I know, get put "on hold", usually meaning they've been matched. Today it really hit me...that could be us at any time!

I am perfectly aware and prepared that we might be waiting a very long time, and that's honestly totally fine with me. We aren't in a rush and are just enjoying life with our kids trying to soak in the last bits of being a family of four. We're having fun and know things will happen in God's perfect timing. Whether it's next week or next year, that call will be so amazing and we're just praying for patience while we wait!

On that subject, I mentioned in a previous post how I would be writing out specific prayer needs and asking you guys to join us in praying for them while we wait. We're at a point now where our child is most likely growing and our birth mom is making some really hard decisions, and both could use a lot of prayer right now. Our family has come a long way in a short time and now we are right at the brink of bringing a baby home and we could use some prayer as well! If you are interested in taking one or more of the prayer requests below and committing to praying for us, we would be so honored.

We are taking the next few weeks to pray for some specific things related to the adoption and would love it if our friends and family joined us! We would also love to hear from you if you are! If you want to take on one or even more of our prayer requests, thank you so much and please let me know so I can thank you! We believe whole heartedly in the power of being covered in prayer, and we want to cover our baby and his or her birth family in prayer right now as we get closer to meeting them. Here are some of the specific things we'll be praying for:

1. Pray for our birth mother. Pray she is safe, protected, and has someone in her life that can support her and love her through this really difficult time. Pray she is able to get the care and counseling she needs right now. Pray she'll have peace about the decisions she's making and wisdom to know which path to take. Pray she will be loved by others and she has or will find a good support system to help her through things.

2. Pray for our baby. Pray for his or her protection, safety, and health. Pray he or she will be carried safely through the pregnancy and arrive healthy and strong!

3. Pray that God will grant us total peace while we wait as well as when we do finally get that call. Pray we will know beyond a doubt when God brings "our" baby into our lives. Pray that He will give us wisdom when the time comes to make that decision, and total peace about the right situation for our family.

4. Pray for our kids to adjust wonderfully to this huge change! Pray they will continue to feel completely loved and important and that we will be able to transition them smoothly into having another child in the family.

5, Pray that God will provide the rest of the funds necessary for this adoption. We are so close, yet so far! We've come such a long way in such a short time, but there is still a ways to go! Pray God will continue to give us what we need, when we need it!

6. Praise Him for how far He has brought our family this year! We have had loss after loss,  finally to be brought down the road to adoption. We are so grateful for what He has taught us along the way, and how He has so obviously written this story and amazed us so much. Thank Him that the adoption process has gone so smoothly when so many things could have gotten in the way.

Thank you so much for praying with us while we wait! Again, I would love to hear from you if you decide to commit to one of our prayer requests for the next few weeks!

Thank you so much for following our story. It seems like yesterday that I was writing the very first post announcing our decision to pursue adoption! We have come so far since then and God has been so incredibly faithful to our family. We're so thankful to be where we are, and we are perfectly aware of how blessed our family is. We can't wait to see what happens next! Thank you for being along for the ride!

Friday, March 9, 2012

We Hold On to You

Recently a fellow Baby Loss Mama asked me if she could use Lily's pictures and name in a video they were creating for Owl Love You Forever.  I was honored to be a part of it so of course I agreed, not really knowing what the video might look like.

The following video "We Hold On To You" was created by Hosanna Wong alongside Owl Love You Forever to bring awareness to the community of Baby Loss. You can read Shayla's post here and also visit this website to learn more about what you can do to help make a difference and show your support for the cause.

Losing a baby is a tragedy that is unfortunately all too common. What isn't common, however, is talking openly about this kind of loss. The topic is uncomfortable at best, taboo at worst. Those of us who have lost a child in this manner are silenced by society's unwillingness to talk about the reality of miscarriage and stillbirth. I guarantee you know someone who has suffered through this, even though they may be suffering in silence. By opening up about Baby Loss, we are hoping conversations will start and healing will follow. We are hoping it will  create a world where it's okay to talk about your loss, to share your pain, to open up about your experience. We are hoping more people will begin to understand the hurt, the pain, the loss we feel. We are hoping we can make a difference in the lives of those suffering by providing support and comfort from those who get it. We are hoping you'll join us in honoring our lost little ones.

Please watch the video below and share it everywhere you can. Look for a few pictures of my sweet Lily Grace and remember her with me. There are so many of us out there with a missing piece to our heart. I hope you will join the movement to make Baby Loss something we aren't afraid to talk about, so that we can begin to heal and make a difference in the lives of hurting parents.

Please visit and learn how you can support the Baby Loss community.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Paper Pregnant!

I think this was the BIGGEST day in our adoption journey so far! Today we officially entered the Match Book and became available for birth families! What does this mean exactly? It means we are Paper Pregnant! ;)

Specifically though, this means that our match letter (basically a four page scrapbook layout of our family, as well as a message to the birthmom) has entered the Match Book at our adoption agency. When potential birth families are making an adoption plan, they are shown the Match Book which includes match letters from families that are waiting for placement. Based on the information and pictures in the match letter, the birth family chooses to meet with an adoptive family to discuss placement. Sometimes this means we will get to meet the birthmom while she is still pregnant, sometimes this means the birthmother will choose a family right after she's given birth at the hospital.

Right now, there are 33 families (including us!) in the Match Book at our agency. Adoptive families are told to expect to wait about a year for placement, and today that waiting officially began (even though we've been waiting for a baby for quite some time already)! Although the agency told us that the average wait is one year, we could get a call at any time from here on out saying a birthmom has chosen us to adopt her child! It could come tomorrow, next week, next month, or a year from now! It is completely dependent on what a birthmom is looking for in a family, and if we are the family she feels would be best for her child!

It is, as always, completely in God's hands. If I have learned anything the past few years, it is that I have little to no control over the majority of circumstances that roll my way! ;) I do my very best with what I'm given, but the rest I simply have to hand over to the Lord and trust Him. Trust is not an easy thing for me, and the Lord has continually worked on that area in my life again and again refining it until it is to His liking! And I'm still a long ways off!

Josh and I are both really excited and kind of in disbelief that we're at this point already. It seems like such a short time ago we were in our very first meeting with our caseworker discussing the application process! The entire adoption process so far has gone incredibly smoothly, and we are so thankful for that, as honestly we were expecting it to be a very bumpy road. Adoption can be a roller coaster of emotions, setbacks, waiting, and starting over. We are fully aware that so many things can happen from here to having our child safely in our arms, but we're thanking the Lord for how He has completely paved the way for us so far.

For now, there is not much for us to do but wait! We are praying continuously, preparing our children for having a new brother or sister, enjoying our time together as a family of four, and planning our last fundraiser!

We decided to take the month of March to step back from fundraising and focus our time and energy on praying for our new little one and how he or she will affect our family. We would love it if you would join us in spending the next few weeks completely devoted to praying for our new baby and his or her birth family! I have come to realize how much time, energy, emotion, and work goes into fundraising for an adoption. It is unavoidable and neccesary, and honestly we've been nothing but blessed by our friends' and family's financial support thus far. But it is also really draining and tough in many ways. I struggle a lot with asking our loved ones to continue to support us when they've done so much already. I struggle with feelings of "unfairness" that others so easily add to their family and we are holding fundraiser after fundraiser to afford an adoption. I struggle with guilt over asking people for financial support and feeling so awful that we can't swing the cost entirely ourselves. I struggle to come up with new ideas that will be successful and worth the energy and time it takes to carry them out.  It isn't easy! But I know it is so, so worth it. I have no doubt about that!

We have a great plan for our next and hopefully LAST fundraiser, but we'll wait a couple more weeks to share it here as we are really focusing on prayer for this adoption. If you'd like to join us in praying for our little one and all the things surrounding him, I will be posting a prayer request list in the next entry, and would be so honored if you prayed with us!

This is a very exciting day!  Thank you for celebrating with us and rejoicing in how far God has brought us in such a short time! Thank you so much for following our story, it is only going to get better from here!!! :)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Dear Friend

 I recently came across a post here on how to be a good friend to those facing infertility. It spoke deeply to my heart and gave me a desire to write a similar letter on how to be a good friend to someone experiencing pregnancy loss. Many people feel lost when their friend has faced a miscarriage or stillbirth, and I hope this will give others an idea of what friendship looks like during their friend's incredibly difficult time of grieving a child.

For the friends are amazing.

Dear Friend,

I know this is not easy for you. Perhaps I am the first person you've ever cared about that has faced losing a child. You aren't sure what to do, how to act, or what to say to me. You have watched the light go out of my eyes, and aren't sure how to respond.

Please know I don't expect you to be perfect. I know this is so hard for you to watch, and you want so badly to help. I know you aren't always going to have the perfect thing to say, and I know that sometimes you'll mess up. I promise not to hold that against you, if only you'll keep trying to reach me. Please don't give up on me, I've had enough loss to last a lifetime, and I don't want to lose you as a friend too.

When you hugged me tight and let me cry without saying a word, that meant the world to me. Sometimes I just need a hug. When you told me how sorry you were that I was missing my baby, and you used her name, I cried because everyone else is so afraid to say it, and I appreciated that more than you know. When you texted me to tell me you were thinking of me, I know you probably thought it wasn't much, but it was a lot to me. Thank you.

I am going to need you to be the strong one for awhile. There are days, especially in the weeks and months following my loss, when every ounce of my strength goes into just breathing. It's all I can do to get up, get dressed, and function. At the end of the day, I have nothing left to give. I don't have time, I don't have energy, I don't have the will it takes to go out and do things with you, or sometimes even just call you back. Please, please know this isn't because I don't love you and value your friendship deeply. It has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with my grief. Things will get better, and slowly I will become myself again. I will be forever changed, but I won't be forever grieving. Please have patience with me. Please keep calling, texting, and making an effort to stay in touch with me. I know it feels like I'm blowing you off, and at times you wonder if I'm worth the effort. I hope you will not give up on me, because I need you now more than ever.

I can't picture you ever saying this, friend, but can I tell you what hurts? It hurts so deeply when people say things like, "She's in a better place," or "This was just not meant to be." I know she is in a better place, but I am still here, and here hurts more than you know. I don't want to hear that this was God's plan, or that my precious child was never meant to be held safely in my arms. That is not comforting. If you aren't sure what to say to me, just tell me you love me. Tell me you're sorry I'm hurting. Tell me you wish so much I wasn't going through this. Tell me it isn't fair, because it isn't. Grieve with me. Be sad with me. Understand my hurt.

Dear friend, if my child had a name, would you please use it? If my child had a birthday, would you please remember it? I promise you that nothing you remember will be something I've forgotten. It would mean the world if you would remember with me. I'm sure sometimes you feel like you might be opening an old wound if you send me a card or even a simple text message on days that you think are particularly difficult for me, but I promise you, this wound will never be old. In time it will not be as painful, but I will carry the memory of my child with me forever, and your thoughtfulness is never hurtful. I think about my child all the time. All the time. Don't ever be afraid to tell me you were thinking of her too.  I have not forgotten her name, but sometimes it feels like everyone else has.

There are so many things you can do that would be wonderful displays of your friendship during this time following my loss. You could bring us a meal, as sometimes I forget my family still needs to eat. You could drop off some groceries, send a card, or take my children out for few hours so I could rest. You could buy a small gift to help me honor my little one, like a stuffed animal, a bracelet, or a pretty plant or tree to plant in my yard. You could make me a CD with uplifting songs. You could put together a care package with things such as tissues, a book about loss, my favorite candy, and something to hold onto when I'm missing my baby. You could write my child's birthday or the day I lost her on your calendar so that you will remember to send some extra love when that day arrives next year. You could give me a hug. You could tell me you love me. You could let me know you're there if I need you.

Friend, you might be especially uncomfortable because you too are expecting a baby, or recently had one. I am so happy for you. I am so incredibly thankful that you are carrying a healthy child and that everything is going well. I want nothing more than for you to have everything I didn't. I pray for the health of your baby and rejoice with you that everything is okay. But there will be times when I see your growing belly, and it cuts my soul like a knife. There will be times when seeing you with your new baby will be impossibly hard for me to bear. Our children would have been so close in age, and I am grieving not only the loss of my baby, but the loss of the dreams I had to raise our children together. Please know I recognize this is hard for you too. When you sent me a note along with your shower invitation telling me you understood if it would be too hard for me to attend, that meant the world to me. When you called ahead and asked me if it was okay for you to bring along your new baby so shortly after my loss, that was so thoughtful of you. There will be times when I can't bear to be around babies, and there will be times when my arms ache to hold my own, and letting me snuggle yours during those times is a healing balm to my wounds. Thank you for asking me what I need, and offering your understanding during this time of grief.

Friend, would you try to remember that my husband is grieving as well? He tries to be so strong for me, but it hurts me when no one ever asks him how he is doing. He loved our baby so much, and I have never seen him hurt so deeply. I know it would mean a lot to him if you would ask him how he is, or tell him you're sorry for his loss as a daddy. No one ever remembers the daddies. Would you remember him when you are remembering me?

Dear friend, thank you for being there for me during this incredibly difficult time. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for remembering my child, grieving my loss, and loving me unconditionally.


Your Broken-Hearted Friend

Friday, March 2, 2012

Class #7 - Raising the Adopted Child and Updates!

Our last class!!! Yippeeeee!!! I actually had to attend this one solo as Josh had a school function he could not get out of, so I took very good notes and made sure to fill him in on everything. ;)

This class we discussed the issues that may arise with our adopted child at each stage of his or her development. We spent a LOT of time on the infant stage, and worked all the way up to adulthood. I thought this was a really interesting class (I always think that though!) and honestly wish I could have somehow webcasted it onto my blog for all of you!

I will say, however, that this class summary is probably going to be the least favorite of our friends and family...I apologize in advance. We were lectured a lot on how extremely important it is to bond with your new baby and establish a strong attachment in the first 3 months of them being home with us. Here are some of the things we were told (not as in suggestions, but as in, "We know what we're doing, and if you want a bonded baby, you better do what we're telling you!" In a very kind way of course.) ;)

CFCA requires that at least one parent stay home with the baby full-time for the first 12 weeks of life. This came as news to us, since I was planning to go back to work after about 6 weeks. Since I only work part-time, Josh and I will figure out a way to swing it, but we are also really praying God times the arrival of our little one to be this summer while Josh is already off for summer vacation. This would be ideal, but God knows better than me what we need!

Okay, here's the one that's a bit tough to swallow for the wonderful friends and family members who are so eager to get their hands on our new bundle of joy! For the first three months, there should be a maximum of 1-2 caregivers for the baby. Those two people (who would be myself and Josh, in case you were unsure) need to be the only ones holding the baby, caring for the baby, attending to their needs, etc. for at least the first 12 weeks. Other people can hold the baby for no more than five minutes at a time, and this needs to be rare in the beginning. (I can literally feel my loved ones cringing at this. I'm sorry!!!)

The reasoning behind this is that adopted babies have essentially been torn away from the only familiar environment they have ever known and thrown into a brand new one with strangers. 25% of brain development occurs before the baby is even born, and he or she has already grown attached and accustomed to the sounds, movements, smells, tastes, etc. that they have been exposed to all their little life. We will be doing our very, very best to help our baby develop a strong attachment to us by being the only ones to care for him for awhile. We want him to know who mommy and daddy are, and understand that we are the ones he needs to trust and grow attached to. At the same time, this will be a brand new person to us! We need to develop an attachment to him as well, and the best way to do that is time and exclusive contact.

Mothers and fathers who have a baby the old fashioned way (through a pregnancy) get to have nine (closer to ten, really) months to bond with their baby. Mommies are able to get to know their baby's temperament through their movements. They watch their babies growing through pictures on the ultrasound as well as their ever expanding belly. They feel each kick and hiccup and movement, and with those comes an attachment and bond to that baby that I just won't have yet with our little one. When my babies were born, I already knew them. I knew instantly that E* would be active, demanding, and feisty. That's how she had been inside me, and that's how she was outside me! I knew J* would be cuddly, I knew he would be more of a follower, less demanding. He was always so difficult to get a reaction from when the nurses would prod my belly trying to get him to move or change positions. He rarely kicked me, and sure enough when he came out he had been nearly beaten to a pulp by his big sister! I knew so much about them before they took their first breath. I had spent 38 weeks growing them from nothing, bonding with them, naming them, talking to them, singing to them, watching them roll across my belly and flip around. I was their mother, they knew my voice, they recognized the music I listened to, they were instantly comforted when I rocked a certain way, because that's what I did when I was pregnant with them.

This new child, I do not know. He or she will be a stranger to me, and I will be a stranger to them. We are going to need some "us time" to get to know each other, to become comfortable with one another, to learn each other's quirks and habits. Most people get 40 weeks to bond exclusively with their babies, we are asking for 12. We know it won't be easy to say no and we apologize in advance for not being able to hand off our sure-to-be-gorgeous new baby, but it's only for a short time. We promise to post LOTS of pictures and videos, tell everyone all about our new baby, and gush over how much we are loving parenting him or her, but for the first few weeks and months we won't be allowing others to hold him for extended periods of time or passing him around much, and we are so thankful for your understanding!!!

Our agency suggests that along with this "Exclusive Caretaker" philosophy, that we spend a lot of time doing "Kangaroo Care" (lots of skin to skin contact) and baby-wearing for the majority of the day (holding the baby in a sling or carrier). I always wanted to do this with the twins (the baby-wearing thing) but with two infants it was all I could do to get through the day in one piece. I am excited to have a new baby to cuddle and I have two GREAT helpers that will be there all the time to help with their new brother or sister. :)

We spent a lot of time going through each stage and talking about different adoption issues and how they might present themselves at each stage of our child's life. We were given a list of great resources which I will probably spend time checking out while we are in this looong process of waiting for the phone call! As I learn new things I will post them here as well.

That's pretty much it for the last class! We are so excited to be one step closer to bringing our baby home!

We have our LAST meeting with our caseworker on Wednesday afternoon!!! We will be going over our new Child Desired form and tying up any loose ends related to our homestudy. We will also be turning in our match letter and match book fee, and as of Wednesday will be an official "Waiting Family". :) This is incredibly exciting and I honestly can't believe we are here already. I was looking back on the blog and realized we only started the process with CFCA in mid-October, meaning we went from zero to waiting in less than five months! Wow! Remember, the agency tells families to expect to be waiting for about 12 months, so we could still be a looong ways off from a baby, but you never know. :) Josh and I are hoping for a summer baby. We'll see!

You might have already seen that we heard from the Genghis Grill and they said our fundraiser brought in a total of 150 people who spent $1691! Since we get to keep 20% of that,, they are writing us a check for $338! Awesome! Thank you again so much for coming out on Wednesday and supporting us! More people came to that then our wedding haha! You guys are so wonderful, we couldn't do any of this without your help! Thank you!

If you are praying, thank God that He is providing so amazingly! We are so blessed by His provision. Please be in prayer for our child's protection and health as it is likely he is growing in someone's belly right now! Please pray for God to prepare our hearts for the child we will be blessed with, and that He will continue to provide what we need when we need it.

Thank you guys so much for following along! Stay tuned!