The Sweetest Gift

As you are all aware, this past weekend, we celebrated Mother’s Day. ¬†For the first time ever, Josh and I were able to celebrate, together and with family, as we get ready to welcome our baby home. ¬†All because we received the sweetest gift, the most unselfish gift ever this weekend.

We got the call around 7pm Friday night that we had been chosen by a birth mother!

It was the most blessed news we have ever received.  Luckily, we were at dinner with my in-laws and were able to share the news immediately with them.  After dinner, we headed for my parents house to share the awesome news with them.  It was quite hard to sleep Friday night after all that excitement!

Our match is with a beautiful baby girl who is due in August.  Honestly, sometimes I feel like I dreamt that call- it seems so unreal! After all the longing and praying, God has let us know that He hears us and our time of wait is coming to a close.

Please join us now in prayer of praise! 

The Solid Rock I Stand

I received this beautiful email from my brother last week.  It is amazing to me how much support we have from friends and family as we walk towards our finish line in this adoption journey.

I am truly blessed to have family and friends who continue to push me down this path, lift me up when I fall and carry me forward.

This is Mount Fuji filmed from a plane.¬† Lets be clear ‚Äď this is you from the Devils perspective.¬† There are clouds and storms all around you.¬† But you have your feet firmly planted on Christ and the Word and will not be moved.¬† Though there are clouds all around you, storms blowing.¬† Like this mountain cannot see past its foundation due to the clouds ‚Äď you cannot see the future.¬† But you don‚Äôt need to, you just need to be the mountain that you are.¬† The strong fortress that God designed you to be.¬† All around this mountain there are storms for as far as the eye can see.¬† But that does not change that the mighty mountain that is you is still there, firmly planted for all to see.¬† Immovable by the storms, untouched by what is happening around it.¬† Let the enemy throw his storms, his wind, rain, hail, snow, lightning ‚Äď in other words let him throw his temper tantrum.¬† God raised you to be a mighty warrior for him and there is nothing the enemy can do about it.¬† You are Matthew 7:24 ‚Äď 25 ‚ÄúTherefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.‚ÄĚ
Mercy Me ‚Äď Bring the Rain:
Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there’ll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that’s what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain
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A new chapter

I think we can break adoption down into try-mesters- much like a pregnancy.

The 1st try-mester is the application process. ¬†The 2nd is the home study process. The 3rd is the wait for the match. My bestie summed it up best this week “it’s like we are in our 3rd trimester of pregnancy without a due date.” ¬†My translation= it’s close to hell.

We have entered a new chapter in our adoption journey. ¬†We have reached ‘active’ status with our new consulting firm. What does this mean?¬†We are now in the position where we learn about expectant mothers and their precious babies and our profile is shown to them, on a case by case basis. ¬†We have already received and presented to a number of birth moms.

It’s exciting!

And with it, brings an entirely new element to this journey, that we have not encountered before and are navigating for the very first time.

For instance, we have seen a number of cases presented to us that fall outside of our pre-determined budget. I’m emotional and of course I want to say ‘Yes!’ to everything. ¬†Thank goodness, God paired me with a realist and Josh can help me see clearly what is out of our reach. ¬†But, that doesn’t make it any easier. I never envisioned turning down any potential match. ¬†And I never dreamed it would come down to money.

We have also said ‘Yes!’ to a number of cases and anxiously await the birth mothers’ decision. ¬†We are now navigating how we deal with the ‘no’ we receive back. ¬†Some are easier than others, if I’m completely real here. ¬†Some seem so perfect on paper- meant to be. And yet… we hear ‘no’.

The rationale side of me knows that when you are presented with multiple cases and are saying ‘yes’ to multiple cases, you are not going to hear a ‘yes’ back every single time. ¬†Yet- this is new territory. And we, as a couple, must figure out how we are going to process the ‘no’ and keep on moving forward.

This weekend, I would say, we got our footing back under us.

I started this blog as a way to document my running journey. So, it seems only fitting to bring this back to where this all started. We were registered to run a half marathon on Saturday. As we got ready for the race Friday night, it occurred to me- we keep pressing on. We keep moving forward. One step at a time. Much like running. Propelling towards the finish line. No race is ever perfect. No training period is ever perfect. Yet, when you reach the finish- somehow– almost magically– you forget the pain you endured.

As my feet hit the pavement on Saturday, it was therapeutic. We set out with the goal to treat this race as an easy long run- slow and steady- practice getting fueling right for our upcoming marathon and to run relaxed. I let myself run free. Josh cautioned several times that I needed to slow down, but I felt good and I ran what my body told me it needed to do. My feet carried me through. Minimal thinking. I ran with heart.

Our hearts will continue to carry us through this new and very exciting chapter. I live on prayer and faith. It’s the only thing that is getting me through these waves of emotions- excitement of potential matches and rejection of ‘no’. While I am still searching for the ‘why’, it is already written.

Those of you that know me, won’t be surprised that I often skip ahead to the end of a story to see how it ends. I’m impatient like that. However, this journey- it’s more like a marathon. You must be patient. You must wait out the good and the bad. You must keep pressing on to the finish.

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Eye of the Storm

Guess what!?! ¬†Nope, sorry, not that exciting news… but other exciting news :).

We are on the home stretch friends!  We have submitted all the required paperwork- yep all 500 pages of it! Ok, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but seriously, check out this picture to get an idea of the insane amount of paperwork I am talking about!

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And… keep in mind that this is round two for us. ¬†It has been a bit of a struggle, to say the least.

On top of gathering and submitting the required documents, I sat down earlier this week and calculated that I have been averaging 50-55 hours a week at my full-time job. ¬†Yikes! Including 3 trips to other parts of the US in the past 2 months. ¬†That’s not technically a lot compared to most people, but that is a lot compared to my travel history with my employer. ¬†All that to say this– I am tired! ¬†Sooooo extremely tired.

I will spare the details because this will turn into a novel very quickly, but once again… the journey to acquire and submit the required documents for our new agency was not without barriers. ¬†Sooooo many barriers.

I’ve been trying to keep my eyes focused on the prize… and I fall short. ¬†I am perfectly imperfect. ¬†I feel mentally unstable. ¬†I feel like this entire journey is breaking me. ¬†I feel defeated.

I’ve even started to have doubts about what type of mother I will be? What if we face all these barriers in our journey to be connected with our child because… we really were never meant to be parents?

What if… what if… I hate being a mom? ¬†I said it out loud. ¬†This question that keeps rattling around my head.

I’ve wanted this for so long and we are working so hard to make it happen and what if I find out I am horrible at it and I don’t like it? ¬†Or I don’t bond with our child? What if I am not made for what motherhood will require of me? What if I fall short?

I’ve always thought those things would come naturally… but now… the what if’s are creeping in.

Is this normal? Do mothers who are carrying their own children face these fears? Is this something unique to adoptive mothers? Or is it solely unique to me?

This week, I finally have a break in my work schedule and I’ve been very purposeful to carve out time for me.¬† For my mental health and for my physical health. ¬†I can finally breathe. With the paperwork submitted, there is nothing left for us to do… but wait.

And pray.

I have to boldly trust that God put this desire in our hearts because we are meant to parent a child that we just haven’t met yet. It’s the only way I am going to get through this. ¬†What I have been reminded of again and again and again throughout this past year, is I cannot go this alone. ¬†Without leaning on God, this process will break me. ¬†It will defeat me.

And time and time again, He has provided what I need at exactly the right moment. ¬†Last night as I was freaking out in my head and doubting our decision and doubting this process, my best friend calls to check in on me. ¬†As I’m on the phone with her,¬†my other best friend sends me this text with the message that she is constantly thinking of and praying for me.

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There is a purpose for our wait.  I will be a better mother because of the patience I am learning right now. I will be a better mother because I am learning to love and lean on those who love me to get me through this process. I will be a better mother because this process has done nothing but strengthen my marriage with Josh.

It is still a struggle and I have a feeling that the struggle I feel we are in right now- this adoption journey- is the eye of the storm. Life is about to get even more crazy once we bring our baby home.

And I think I can finally begin to see that I’m going to be ready. for it. This past year has been a year of preparation. What we face from now until we see God’s plan for us unfold and we meet out baby will all be in preparation. Some of it I don’t understand right now. I will admit that. But I’m coming to understand that, as hard as it is for me to accept. I know I will understand it someday. And I will keep pushing forward for that day.

God meets us where we are…

10 Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
Lord, be my help.”

11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

Psalm 30

Mastering life requires the ability to ride out the good with the bad. ¬†I know I’ve blogged about the many challenges I have felt throughout this adoption journey. But let me share with you- God is good and definitely meets us where we are.

Throughout this journey, I have been overwhelmed by the seemingly little gestures that have left a huge footprint.  God has brought amazing people into our lives at just the right moment.  I know I am going to leave some of those moments here- just know that if you have reached out to us at all throughout this past year, that you have been a part of this journey with us and have a huge impact.

It’s when gestures come from the most unexpected places that I literally step back and know that God is at work. I wanted to take a moment to share some of these with you because this journey has had as many ups as it has downs.

As soon as we were approved by our 1st agency, our rescue dog’s foster family dropped off a baby book – specifically designed for adopted children- for us to document every first moment once we are placed with our child. ¬†The gift was accompanied by a children’s book detailing the process of a polar bear taking a baby brown bear into her care and raising it as her own. ¬†Knowing our heart for interracial adoption, this was especially encouraging and hear warming.

Most recently, when I felt as though I was in a dark spot, our church’s daily emails took us through the Psalms- reminding me of David’s suffering and that God never left him- He heard David and met him in his darkest places.

One of the challenges I have not shared is the cost of this process. ¬†We have saved for this since our wedding day and are very fortunate to have planned ahead. When considering a change in agencies, cost was the limiting factor that kept coming up in our many discussions and quite honestly, is what stopped us from changing course 6 months ago. Well, recently we decided to move ahead with a new agency and make some small sacrifices to increase our adoption budget. ¬†I received a call from our church one day asking for the address and name of our agency so they could send our check in. ¬†I was confused and stunned! ¬†Turns out, there was an anonymous donation made to our church that was to go to a family who was in the process of adopting and our church thought of us. ¬†To this day, we have no idea how much that donation is for- and it doesn’t matter. ¬†What matters is that God is with us and is reassuring us.

The owner of a fitness studio I coach at stuck a small bracelet with a card attached to it explaining that this bracelet was a reminder to keep “a little bit of faith” inside my paycheck envelope. The timing of this was perfect and is now a daily reminder to keep the faith, have patience and courage to trust in God.

We received the amazing news  that we have been approved by our new adoption agency 12 days ago.  Actually, right before I left for a 10 day trip out of state.  The timing of that email was perfect to keep anxieties at bay during this trip and bring peace that this process continues to move forward.  We arrived home yesterday to find a package addressed to us from the consultant we met with Рencouraging scripture and a journal to document  our adoption journey for our child to have some day- to know that they were so very loved before we were even matched.

The timing of these things are God’s way of letting us know that we are not alone. He hears us. ¬†Our cries do not go unheard. ¬†And while I’m not particularly fond of the answer to wait and continue trusting… I have peace knowing that God is at work. ¬†Our child is being formed and God’s plan is always the most perfect plan.

We now have more paperwork to fill out, documents to collect from our previous agency and more reference letters to request. ¬†We are so anxious to get to the next stage and to be shown to birth mothers, that it is easy to be frustrated by all the “must-do’s” in order to get there.

For those of us that have been praying with us, please pray that we will have the courage to continue to trust God.  And to all of you- a sincere thank you for your prayers.

 

Surrender

I haven’t posted an update in over a month and typically, that’s a strong sign that I am struggling. And frankly, it’s been a struggle.

We were faced with a potential opportunity to open our home to a baby girl that needs parents. I felt strongly it was meant to be- God was literally dropping this precious child into our home!

Needless to say, it wasn’t the door God opened for us, nor is it our child. In reality, due to legalities and regulations, we were never in a position to be that child’s parents. Nonetheless…

It broke me to say the very least. But, in true Nikki style, I stuffed the emotions deep down, put on a brave face, wiped a smile across it and kept going on day to day. That is, until I physically couldn’t any longer. I puked one night. Four times! It was awful. But, I will say, not as awful as finally feeling the emotions I stuffed deep down inside. That was awful. To feel. To be raw. To feel hurt and heartache for a child that was never ours to begin with.

What it did do, was show me what an incredible husband I have. He was there for me. He picked up my broken pieces and held them until was I ready to be put back together again.

It also opened our eyes that we needed to be more proactive and seek an agency that will put our best interests first and advocate for us. We have prayerfully considered different options and feel we are making the right move in our journey forward.

So now we wait for approval. Again. But somehow this time the wait isn’t bringing me agony. I am not anxious. I feel peace. ¬†This decision has finally brought me peace after weeks of internal turmoil. **I should note that the decision to consider different options is completely unrelated to the story outlined above**

I thought for a period of time during this past month that I was supposed to learn acceptance through this. As I read my daily devotion and listened to our local Christian radio station, it became glaringly clear. It isn’t acceptance. It’s surrender. It’s time to SURRENDER. Give it ALL to God. And REST in Him.

It won’t be easy. I’m treading into new territory. But it’s a turn in this journey I’m taking– cautiously optimistically.

Mountains and Valleys

Last week, Josh and I celebrated our 3rd anniversary! It doesn’t seem like three years have past and in some ways its incredible to think it’s only been three years because it feels so natural, like I have known him all my life.

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Here is our picture perfect life.

In reality, right now, I feel like a hot mess. ¬†Our anniversary also signals one year since we started our adoption journey. ¬†And let me tell you, in no way does it feel like this journey has gone too fast. ¬†I feel like I can remember every painstaking step we took. ¬†The hours upon hours spent filling out the application. ¬†The stress of waiting to find out if we would even be pre-approved. ¬†Followed by the stress of completing our home study. ¬†And let’s not forget the extreme amount of pressure I put on myself to get our portfolio ready for birth mothers to view and hopefully choose us. ¬†Then… the stress of waiting to hear if we’d been approved upon completion of our home study. ¬†I know most, if not all, of this has been self-inflicted. ¬†Nonetheless, it’s the path I’ve walked.

I use the singular tense because Josh is much more rational going through this process and has held his confidence that we would be approved all along. It’s just one of the qualities I appreciate about him and how we compliment each other.

I don’t want to give the impression that it has been all bad. ¬†Each of the above stresses have been followed by joy and celebrations for each milestone passed. ¬†And, celebrating the little things, like splurging on little shoes that are just too cute to pass up!

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There have been mountains and valleys and we are still trekking through them. I have to admit, for someone who shut herself down from feeling for years in order to avoid getting hurt, I have felt a lot this year. There are times when I feel I have reached the top of the mountain and I see everything clear from the top.  I know and I feel that God is in control. I trust that He has a plan and He is going to place our child with us.  And then, there are times where I feel deep in the valley with fog rolling in clouding my vision.

We are at a crossroads in our journey and I feel like we are sitting at a stop light that is forever red. ¬†It will turn green again. ¬†And perhaps it will be sooner than later as we mull which direction to take. ¬†Until then,¬†please join us in prayer for God’s direction as we take¬†our next steps.