The sweetest… and the saddest… the best is yet to come

It is with a very heavy heart that I write this post.

Sweet baby girl was born this week- she is absolutely perfect and so beautiful. We were blessed to spend a very precious 24 hours with her before the adoption was rescinded.

The past week has been a whirlwind of emotions. It started a week and a half ago when all communication between the agency and the birth mom stopped. It was a heart wrenching six days while we waited for her to make contact with the agency again and confirm that she was still committed to the adoption.

Finally, we got the news we had so desperately been praying for- birth mom had reconnected with the agency and she was at a hospital in her home state with contractions. Most importantly, she was still very committed to the adoption. We were excited, nervous and anxious to hear the news and waited to hear the outcome of her hospital visit. It was still hoped that she would be able to travel to the state that the agency is located so that our case workers could help us both through the process and be a calming presence during it.

Six hours later we learned that she had given birth to a healthy baby girl, in her home state, and she wanted us to come! We started frantically packing and making arrangements with my family to care for our dogs. It was decided that, due to hospital visiting hours, it would be best for us to stay the night at our home and drive to the hospital early the next morning.  Needless to say, neither Josh nor I slept that night.

We packed up the car and headed out early the next morning. I can’t speak for Josh, but my stomach was a nervous mess and I had so many thoughts going through my mind about meeting the birth parents and meeting our daughter. The several hour drive seemed like it was only ten minutes. After we arrived, we prayed in the hospital parking lot before we entered.

Because the birth was in the birth mom’s home state and not in the state that the agency is located as was planned- the whole adoption process became rather ‘messy’ for lack of a better word. Our agency had to set up a local legal team to help us and the birth parents navigate the process. The time period that we needed to wait before birth parents could terminate their rights was twice as long. And most importantly, none of us had our case workers- the ones we have a relationship with, the ones who counseled the birth parents for the past three months, the ones who knew why they had made this incredibly hard decision in the first place. Instead, we were surrounded with nurses who did not understand this was an adoption case and who had little to no experience with this type of situation. We were visited by the hospital social worker, who had no personal connection to any of us, and who was not present the second day. Halfway through the process, a new hospital social worker visited and explained she was filling in for the woman we met the day before. It seemed to become even messier- for many other reasons that I won’t go into.

Even with all of this, Josh and I pressed on. The birth parents were so welcoming to us. We were so comfortable around them. We let our guards down early. As nervous as I was to walk into the hospital room and meet the birth parents and our daughter, all those nerves disappeared within the first 15 minutes after meeting them. They seemed happy- maybe even relieved- to see us. We immediately were encouraged to pick up our daughter and begin to love on her. We spent the entire first day in the hospital room with birth mom and baby. She slept on and off while we cared for baby girl. We loved on the birth parents as well as baby girl all day long. By evening, the hospital had figured out what to do with us and offered us to stay in a separate room. The birth parents encouraged us to take baby girl with us. Of course, we were overjoyed to spend some alone time with her. That night, any walls that were still up guarding our hearts crumbled. To care for her and have the freedom to love on her and just soak her all in- it’s indescribable. She was our baby girl. The attachment we felt came naturally.

The next morning, we were both woken by our cell phones ringing. Attorneys for both birth parents and us wanted to meet to get the process moving toward termination of rights, which could happen in 10 hours. In the next few hours, we met with our attorney and the birth parents met with theirs as well as another social worker- this one from a local adoption agency that our agency had been in contact with. Before we knew what was happening, the nurse was telling us they were discharging birth mom. She had signed a power of attorney to allow us to leave the hospital with baby girl and care for her until the time passed and rights could be terminated. I went down to our car to get our car seat and an outfit for baby girl to leave the hospital in. After I returned and we were getting ready to take baby girl down the hall to say goodbye to her birth parents, our attorney called to alert us that he had some major concerns. We called our agency and they told us to go and be honest with the birth parents and feel them out. What happened next feels like a surreal dream. As the events unfolded in the birth mom’s hospital room, I felt like I was not present, but staring down at the room, watching it unfold like a nasty nightmare. Neither Josh nor I showed any emotion in that room. As the hospital social worker walked us down the hall towards our room, I began to lose it and started to walk/run until I could collapse in sobs in the room. Just like that, it was over. They had called their attorney and rescinded. She was not our baby girl.

We are deeply hurt. We are feeling all the emotions. This is a huge loss- in a way- this is a death that we will need to mourn.

It’s very hard to understand why and how this fits into the big picture. To lay it all out here- this is the second baby we are mourning in the past 3 months as we miscarried our first child in May. I have so many questions. Perhaps, I will never the answers. And I can say that I am finally at a place where that feels ok.

This journey is far from over. We will continue on it to complete our family. And while walking blindly in faith is so very, very hard– ultimately, it is the only thing that brings hope for the future.

Counting Days

It’s hard to believe we are down to three weeks before our daughter is due! When we were matched, three months seemed so far away and in a blink of an eye… we are counting down the days to her arrival!

Are we excited? That’s the number one question we are getting asked… and yes, of course we are overly excited to welcome her home!

It’s been a long journey and the wait has felt like it has been forever long. And there has been a lot of ‘life’ along the journey but those mountains and valleys are what make this so special. It’s our story- it’s not perfect- but it’s ours. It’s the story that we will tell our daughter and she will know how very much she has been loved and prayed for from the very beginning.

We are starting to get ourselves ready to travel to meet our birth mom and dad and welcome our baby girl into the world. I say our baby girl collectively- because she is all of our baby girl- all four of us. We are all in this and I couldn’t be more grateful for the gift that they are giving us and the life they are choosing for this baby. I already have so much love for this couple, so much respect… in three short months, I have grown to care for them so much. God willing, this will be just the beginning of a long relationship that is centered on this baby girl.

I ask for your continued prayers as we head down this final stretch. While we are excited, we are cautiously so. Please pray not just for us, but for our birth family in the days leading up to our daughter’s birth. For the health and safety of all involved. And for strength in the days ahead.

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 – 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 – you cannot see the future.  But you don’t 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 – 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 – 25 “Therefore 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.”
Mercy Me – 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 – encouraging 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.