Adoption, family, God, Kingdom, My Story

Life Update July 2021…What’s been going on?

Wow, well… it’s been a while. A LOT  has happened since my last post. So much so, that I just had to put writing on hold for a while. Even now, I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to get back to the consistent schedule I had before, but I do value having this space to write and share my life and thoughts. So, here’s the update!

After my February post about our adoption needs, we were so blessed to receive a large financial donation to help us get much closer to being fully funded for the adoption! Praise the Lord and thank you to the donor! We have heard very little about any matches since that time and I’m not sure how I feel about that. Of course, I DO WANT to move forward with this adoption journey, but as I look back over the past months, I can see how having a baby in the mix would have made something complicated even more complex! But, my dream of another baby or sibling set is still alive and well. Now that things are in the next stage (which I’ll write more about below), I find my thoughts drifting more towards adoption again. I find my readiness being reawakened. Maybe this is a good time, maybe it’s not, and maybe it doesn’t really matter whether or not it’s a ‘good-time’ as long as it’s a ‘God-time.’ So, we keep waiting. That’s the adoption update.

Well, let’s talk about the rest of what’s been going on. In short, we’ve moved to a new city. Yup… you read that right! About seven months ago, I shared how God was telling us that a job change was coming. We started to separate our focus from our previous employment to what God had already birthed and grew in Putty’s area of influence. But we didn’t know that another big shift was coming our way. As we worked through the process of where to place our focus and how all the complex details of that would work out, something just wasn’t right within us. It became clear that God was asking us to move out of the hometown we’d known since we graduated with our undergraduate degrees and look towards a new future. 

The trouble was that we still didn’t know WHAT exactly that future would be! We knew we had to keep taking the next step though. So, we notified the people who needed to know about this change in course and we started looking for the next landing place. Since we weren’t feeling called to any particular location, we decided to choose based on a few criteria, with two big ones standing out: 1) A good HUB airport for Putty to use for easier travel and 2) an area where we have a lot of ministry connections already. One place stood out above the rest and was still relatively close to our family… Chicago! So, we began making plans to move there. But we had no idea where to go in the sprawling metropolis. We weren’t sure what kind of housing we could afford, nor did we know where we’d eventually end up attending church. All we knew was that we were heading out to follow the Lord and this was the next step.

As we connected with a realtor who could help us find some rental housing, the reality of what we were about to do set in. She sent us many MLS pages of homes that were available for rent, but all of them made my heart hurt to even consider living in them. It was so rough. I didn’t like getting these emails and I just wasn’t connecting with any of the homes presented to us. I was keeping up a good front though. It’s easiest to do that when you just don’t acknowledge it. And that’s essentially what I did. I ignored the ‘finding future housing’ task and instead threw myself into preparing our home for sale and moving. However, I did have this fleeting thought at one point and I vocalized it to Putty. I said, “You know, I don’t care what house we live in next. I’d really like it if we could just be offered a place to live or at least take one for very cheap. I mean, maybe someone we know has a vacant house or even missionary housing! I just don’t want to go through the process of choosing a place when we probably won’t even be there long.’ 

Little did I know that this statement was actually a hearts-desire because the act of choosing was very hard for me. I chose the home we were living in at that time and we worked hard to make it a wonderful place for us to live and host people. We LOVED it. So, nothing could compare to what we were leaving. What criteria could I use to choose the next house except for letting it be God’s choice for us. With that said, I returned to my packing, donating, and cleaning up our current place. Whatever was next, we were going to leave this house in nice shape for the next owners and we weren’t going to bring along a lot of unnecessary stuff to our next resting spot. 

The time was drawing closer to when we’d be putting our house on the market. With one week to go, we still didn’t know exactly what next home we were heading towards. But, God was about to surprise us once again with his goodness, providence, and confirmation. It was the day our congregation was being notified of this new change to the status quo. With little more information to give them other than that we were following God to Chicago with no idea of what was coming next, we left a lot of questions unanswered (perhaps more of our own than anyone else’s). That was the day though, when God was giving us the next piece to our puzzle! 

Putty received a phone call from a friend in the Chicago area with a job proposition! It seems he needed to hire a new pastor, but wasn’t ready or able to make a permanent decision yet. He asked Putty if he’d be willing to take on an interim pastor position while we were in transition. We couldn’t believe it, but God was allowing us to live off of a salary during this transitional period, instead of the proceeds from the sale of our house! Not only that, but this church has a parsonage and we could live there as part of our compensation. And to ice the cake, it’s in a beautiful area and we already had a childhood friend who attended there too! We were blown away at this offer and although right away we were pretty sure that we’d accept the job, we did take some time to pray and discuss it before giving our final answer.

I admit it, I broke down in tears. I was so overwhelmed with how God was caring for our needs. Not only by helping us to stay afloat financially, but He heard my desire to have a house that I didn’t have to choose! He provided housing for me and my family. He provided a church for us to connect with while up here in Chicago. And, he provided existing friendships so we didn’t have to start from scratch. God is so good. He is so kind. He is thoughtful. He is steady and true. (You can read Putty’s perspective on our life update on his most recent blog post)

I’m so thankful we followed Him on this journey. Since my last blog, He has provided us with adoption money, gifts towards our next ministry, housing, a new job/salary, rekindled friendships, and stability. It’s these times that I will look at again and again and remember that God is good. If I doubt that we’re on the right trajectory as we transition, I look to His obvious provision and I see that He is leading us and making a way. We still are searching out the next things. We are following rabbit trails and seeking the LORD. Even though I don’t have an answer for my next stage in life… even though I can’t make a plan (which I LOVE to do!)… I know that my steps are directed by the Lord.

Thank You Note: Thank you to all of you who have generously given towards our adoption, our ministry, and our family. Thank you for believing in God’s calling on our lives and this next journey he has us on. We truly are so grateful for your support and enthusiasm as we step into our next season in ministry together!

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Adoption, family, My Story

Adoption Update February 2021: Approved Again

In short, it feels like nothing has changed. Our first year of being adoption approved has come… and gone. We have completed an annual update for adoption approval with our agency and my heart was so sad. I really wanted to be the anomaly that got matched with a birth family almost immediately and really just knocked this thing out in a year!

The First Year

In the back of my mind, I wasn’t so sure that it would happen. But then we got a call this past spring about a baby already born and needing a home! I began composing my social media announcement posts in my mind and envisioned the generous rejoicing that so many would do along with us. But… that wasn’t to be.

Even with the second potential match I had hopes that maybe this would be it. The baby would be born before our year expired and that still seemed like hitting some sort of ‘one-year goal.’ But, no. The match just didn’t feel like it was for us and we removed ourselves from the birth family choices. I came to find out that those birth parents decided to parent after all. I suppose that was God’s grace and direction for us in that moment. God knew that we didn’t need to get our hopes up and then start the process all over.

Beginning Year Two…

So, here we are, more than a year since our first adoption approval and over two years since we first sat down with the agency and explored our adoption options with them. I didn’t know… I didn’t know how long this process really would take. I didn’t know all the ins and outs of domestic adoption on the matching side alone. I know more now, but I still will learn so much after the match and throughout to adoption finalization.

When I think of what’s ahead in this process, I feel tired. I feel unmotivated. I feel a bit disappointed. Perhaps that’s because I’m not waiting only on this one thing, but it feels like all the big decisions in life are on hold right now. And that’s not even to mention that the entire world is in a ‘wait’ to open up again due to this pandemic.

But, I hope things are changing. I hope the waiting period is quickening, like the term used when a pregnant mother feels the first flutterings of movement from the baby inside of her. My kids are asking me regularly now, “Mom, when are we going to get our new baby?” They have so much desire for a new sibling. I keep asking God, “When? How long?” I feel like the answer from God is changing from ‘Wait’ to ‘Soon.’ Oh, I hope I’m hearing him correctly!

Even in the natural, I’ve been starting to nest a bit more in my home – another thing pregnant women do as they get closer to delivery. I felt a strong desire to change my kids rooms around and get things set up for a baby. I haven’t done that in the past year at all. I just figured that we’d set up the space once we had a match/baby. But now I just want to have it set up and ready. So, we have made changes and the crib is waiting in the room (unassembled at this point) for our next addition. I still have the changing table and nursery items ready to welcome that sweet child. And as I write this, I’m in my rocking chair that I’ve used with all my children The nostalgia is real!

On the outside, I’ve had a growing number of people asking how our adoption is going. I wish I had some exciting news to share! But, all I can say is, “We’re still waiting, and we’re now approved for another year! We completed our annual home study update.” People are happy to wait with us, wonder with us, and ask after us. That asking is actually really precious to me. I know that I’m not the only one waiting. I’m not forgotten as I wait, but others are hopeful along with me. Others are actually somewhat invested in this process too. And so… this blog is my answer to that question. It’s hard to answer thoroughly in a quick conversation, but I hope you’ll enjoy a bit more of the fully-rounded answer that this space provides.

How You Can Help…

If you feel like you’d like to do something with/for us while we wait, we’d LOVE to have you partner with us. We continue to need prayer. Prayer for the birth triad (birth mother/family, baby, adoptive parents). Prayer for our hope and anticipation to remain intact and that we don’t become resentful or despondent that the process isn’t done yet. Prayer that all the finances will come when they are needed. We estimate this will cost between $15-$20K.

I also need people asking me about the adoption, whether anything has changed or not. That real life touching base reminds me that I’m not alone in the process and it helps me to keep my mind on the great changes that will come. I really am looking forward to and feel so ready to have our baby with us! I’m itching to get started on parenting my adopted baby and talking about it with others helps to keep that feeling alive during the waiting.

Lastly, we need help with the finances. We’ve received about $3,500 so far. We are incredibly thankful to those who have donated already. The money has been used for adoption related expenses, like getting our home study approved and then updated, as well as the many health and documentation expenses that come along with just getting the approval process finished. If you’d like to give now, send me a quick message or comment and I’ll get you information on how to donate.

Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’d like to submit our profile with a lawyer who gets referrals from crisis pregnancy centers. These are the women that I’d really like to help (by being an adoptive parent choice) as they walk through the difficult decision of whether to parent, make an adoption plan, or abort their baby. There is a retainer fee for this lawyer and we’re just shy of having enough in our account to pay that. So, finances are still needed, even in the waiting, but much more so once we have the baby matched and place. That’s when the placement fee (the biggest of the expenses) occurs and then we’ll have the lawyer fees to finalize the adoption (perhaps the next biggest expense or at least in the top 3-5) as well.

I do not want to forget to say how very thankful I am to all of you for walking along with me and my family in this adoption journey. It’s had unexpected twists and turns, but I know that I’m not alone and I know that God has placed this dream and call in my life. Whatever comes of all this, I’m so thankful to be strengthened by God and surrounded by friends and family. Thank you all and I’ll keep you updated!

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(If you know someone who would find this story helpful or encouraging, please feel free to share it! Thanks for reading my post!)

Adoption, family, My Story

Adoption and Job Update December 2020

A year! I can’t believe it’s been a year since we were first approved to adopt. It’s gone by so fast, but when I look back I see how much has happened. In the past year we’ve had two meetings with potential birth parents and been presented with a few other far-off matches. Sadly, none of these potential matches came to be. We did have one baby in our home for a few days, but acted more as Cradle Care for a deciding birth mother than actual prospective adoptive parents. 

When our agency case worker reached out to us about updating/renewing our home study for another year I was a bit sad. I had so hoped that we would have a quick match and be on our way to an adoption court hearing by this time. Of course, I assume that most people who go down this road hope for a quick match with a baby in their home to love and cherish. Even knowing that adoption usually takes multiple years, I still wanted to be the anomaly that got matched super quick! I thought that would happen in June, then I wondered if it’d happen in August – both months when we had legitimate birth parent meetings. But alas, there were not the children for our family. 

So, we find ourselves going through the steps to become home study approved again. So far we’ve had to do our physicals again, we’ve filled out our criminal background checks and had them notarized, we’ve be re-fingerprinted, and updated our financial summary. This last one was a bit of an eye-opener for me. It really made me see the reality of all the financial changes that occurred in our life this past year with both my work and my husband’s.

Not only did the COVID pandemic affect my work, causing me to quickly learn how to teach voice lessons online, but it also caused multiple speaking engagements for my husband to be canceled. With the slow down of life, we enjoyed a lot of time together as a family and even made some great headway on home projects. But even with what already seemed like a lot of change, God had something else in mind.

God began speaking to my husband, Putty, about a possible job change. The trouble was that we didn’t know what that change would be. We just felt like a shift was coming. After a lot of prayer and contemplation, as well as reaching out to some trusted individuals outside of his workplace, we knew we had to take the next step in regards to his work, even if we didn’t understand all the details. At the end of May we decided to talk with his employers, who are our friends and partners in ministry, about what we were feeling God was asking us to do next. The same day Putty had this conversation with his employers was the same day we had the first baby in our home

It seemed so strange that we would have these two big life changes begin their respective journeys on the same day! What was God doing? So much was unknown and we couldn’t, in our own minds, work out what was going on. But, we trusted God and we said, ‘Yes’ to both the next step in his job and our family. 

Over the next few months we took an even greater amount of time to pray and think about the next steps in our lives. Sadly, the adoption journey didn’t continue with this first baby because that child went back to stay with the birth mother (a wonderful decision!). It wasn’t stability in Putty’s job either because at this point we didn’t know if God was calling us to stay or go! We had so many things we were weighing very seriously and we’re so grateful for our work family that gave us time, conversation and additional prayer to work through what we felt was next.

In August we had a meeting with the executive team at Putty’s workplace to share what we felt like the Lord was calling us to next, but again, we didn’t have a lot of details. They would also be sharing with us their thoughts on the matter. We were thankful to have a team with us to support us as we continued to listen carefully in this important life decision. We still didn’t know what God was telling us to do exactly, but we knew for sure that God was saying it was time for Putty to have a change in his current workplace employment and be ready for the next step. We didn’t know if that meant staying in our current home town or moving away. 

During this same week, the one with the very important work conversation, we had a meeting schedule with a set of birth parents! Was this really happening again? Was our big work decision lining up with a big family decision again? Apparently things come in pairs! Haha. Anyway, we met with the parents and knew they wanted to have contact with the baby as it grew – as many birth parents do now. The problem is that we had no idea where we were going to be in the future! As wonderful as these parents were, we didn’t feel a strong go-ahead to match with them and so we bowed out of that match and continued to wait.

When I say that waiting marked our COVID season, I’m not kidding. We waited for a baby match. We waited for job clarity. We waited for our society to open back up. We waited and waited on everything it seemed. God was growing peace in the waiting for us.

Eventually, Putty’s job situation got some clarity. God opened up a new work idea that we hadn’t considered at first. It was through the act of teaming with his workplace, friends and family outside of work, and other advisors that a really neat and workable next step came to be! Putty would shift his primary focus to starting something new, focused on developing the ministries and ideas that God has asked him to spearhead. He is still involved with our church of course, preaching and ministering, but his leadership responsibilities have shifted from the local church to this new adventure. The change officially took place in October.

During that same month we began taking the steps to update our adoption home study so we could be approved to adopt for the following year. Now at the beginning of December we have completed everything except the last home visit. That had to be postponed due to us being exposed to COVID. Next week we have a home visit and we fully expect things to move along smoothly. I am excited to have this update completed and begin the next leg of the journey!

Photo by Samson Katt on Pexels.com

So, our next steps in our adoption process are to wait once more. We continue to share about our journey and our desire to adopt because we value the prayers and support from everyone. We also ask that you keep us in mind if you hear about a birth mother (in any state) who is looking to make an adoption plan. My greatest desire is that through this process we can really help a mother and child who needs this option. God has placed this adoption on my heart since I was a child. The process is different than I realized it would be, but it’s a good one. God is growing me exponentially and I know that will continue even after we finalize adoption. 

Please continue to pray with us that God will bring our adoption match to us and that we can be a blessing to a baby and birth mother in all this. We pray that we will continue to listen carefully for God’s leading and be well-directed by Him. For now I dream, but one day my dream will be reality. I am so thankful, hopeful, and excited. I pray that God identifies the dreams in your hearts too and that He brings them to reality in your life.

Adoption, God, My Story

Adoption Update: Early August 2020 – Meeting #2

I know it was our decision, but it’s still hard sometimes.

It was Tuesday afternoon and I got a text from our adoption agency caseworker. She wanted to talk with us about a potential adoption match! I called her as soon as I could. The first question that comes in my mind is, “Could this be it?!?” I was eager to find out more about this baby.

Information…

I called our caseworker and after a short time I knew all the stats about the baby and birth parents, the reason why they were making an adoption plan and the timeline for having our first meeting. I was completely overwhelmed. I wasn’t feeling my best physically, I was already stressed about other life decisions, AND there were a few things that were uncertain about this particular match.

At the time, my husband was out of town and so, I had to wait to discuss this all with him. But after patiently waiting, we were able to connect by phone. We had a few more questions about this particular match and texted some initial questions to our caseworker. The next morning, Putty took over the discussions with her while I was working. Teamwork for the win! After going over a few more things and getting better clarity, we decided to go ahead and meet with them!

To my delight, the birth parents needed to postpone the meeting until the following week. This gave me plenty of time to wrap my mind around what was coming next and took off some of the pressure I felt at first. We still weren’t 100% sure if we felt like this would be our match or not, but we did know that we were supposed to move forward with meeting them. 

Neutral Feelings…

As we went through the week and shared with a few people about what was to come, we got some feedback that was less than positive. I felt disappointed by that. It seems that some people were having a feeling of caution and warning inside for us. I didn’t really like hearing this. After all, I am ready for our next baby! But, when I asked what were some reasons for caution, I had to admit that those same thoughts went through my mind. I mean, I quickly dismissed them and tried to focus only on the positive, but I knew that I needed to weigh all this very carefully.

After a week of waiting to meet the birth family, I expected that I’d be MORE than ready to meet them. I expected to be anxious and excited, but the morning of our meeting, I was mostly not even thinking about it. I had to work that morning and so that kept my mind focused, but even as the hours approached to have our meeting, I was feeling very neutral about the whole thing. This is actually representative of what I had been feeling the entire week about this particular potential match situation. That felt odd.

So, as we prepared to meet with the birth parents over video, Putty and I prayed that God would give us very good discernment during the meeting and make it much more clear to us about whether or not we should move forward with this birth family. Of course, the first step is completely up to the birth parents. They are the ones who choose between us and in this case, the other potential family. But, we wanted to be ready to accept this match if they chose us.

Discernment…

The meeting began. We interfaced mostly with the birth father who was pretty outgoing. The birth mother was a bit more shy and so we heard from her now and then, but not as much. The adoption caseworker was there too and she helped move things along when the conversation died down. Then it was time to be done and we ended the video call.

Putty and I looked at each other. We seemed to silently ask each other, ‘What did you think?’ So, we talked about how we felt and ultimately… we didn’t feel that we had any more clarity about this situation than we had before! Another round of disappointment and confusion. I really wanted and hoped that seeing these parents and talking with them would give us the answer we were looking for – an easy decision. Nope, it wasn’t going to be that way.

As you can imagine, we had more conversations with more people about how the call went, how we were feeling about the situation, and when we’d know more. Not only was it hard for me not to know the answer, but I couldn’t even articulate to our friends and family if we wanted them to be excited and hopeful with us, or remain cautious and ready to disconnect. It was so weird!

Further Clarity

That evening, as we continued to contemplate, we realized something. Maybe God wasn’t going to tell us, ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ for this particular child. Maybe it could work either way and God was okay with that. Maybe God was as neutral about this situation as my feelings were. But in our hearts we wanted God to be totally making it clear who would be our next child(ren). We don’t want to just say, ‘Yes’ because we can. As Putty said, ‘We didn’t want to pick our own spouses, we wanted God to do that. Why would we want anything less for the children in our family? We want God to pick our kids.‘ We really want to know that God has brought us our next child(ren) and not leave it up to natural reasoning. We want to be excited and know beyond the shadow of a doubt, that this is our child.

So, we made a choice. Even with a possible resolution to our adoption dream just in front of us, we made the hard choice to withdraw our names from consideration for this child. I think our caseworker was a bit shocked. How many prospective adoptive parents say ‘No’ to an adoption placement at this stage? I don’t really know. But just as quickly as she was sad for us, she was suddenly overcome with tearful joy for the other family! She knew that their dreams were about to be fulfilled and this was good. It was so precious to hear her emotions of joy for this other family. I knew that our ‘No’ meant ‘Yes’ for someone else! That’s really cool to think about.

The following morning, the morning that the birth parents were supposed to make their decision, I found myself thinking about how the other family would be feeling. They have been waiting for an adoption match too and they were going to find out that they got it! I smiled, inwardly happy for this other couple and the future in front of them.

Still Processing…

Even now, I am still happy for this other couple, but I find myself feeling sad. It’s a lot to process and luckily, writing helps with that. I’m sad that we felt we had to pass on this baby. I’m sad that I don’t know when the next opportunity for adoption will present itself. I’m frustrated that I have to wait again – even though it was our decision. I fear that I missed out on something. I worry that I won’t have another chance. As I catch myself descending into these negative thoughts, I must stop and remember the truth.

God is on our side. We have asked him to write our story and we trust him fully with the details. We aren’t sitting lazily by just waiting around for our life to get moving. No, we are still praying, learning, and preparing for when we get to meet our next child! We are not missing out. There will be another chance. I am waiting again, but I wait with hope and expectation. In the waiting He will lift us up and be our strength and peace. This is good news! This is good truth to hold onto.

A friend sent me this song recently and as I write the ending of this post, I can tell this is very fitting for the place we find ourselves in at this moment.

“We Rise” by Cageless Birds & Jonathan David Helser

We rise by bowing
We live by dying
When we give what we could never keep
We gain what we will never lose

Like beauty from ashes
And joy from mourning
Only You can take brokenness
And make it something beautiful

From glory to glory
You tell our story
We will overcome
We’ll walk on the water
With our eyes on the Father
Nothing is impossible

Rest is our weapon
Joy is our strength
We wait upon the Lord and find
Strength to spread our wings and fly

(If you know someone who would find this story helpful or encouraging, please feel free to share it! Thanks for reading my post!)

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Adoption, God, My Story

Emotions… Good/Bad?

Emotions…Feelings…These have been flooding my psyche for the past few months. Sometimes I barely notice them. Then there are other times when they feel like they are overwhelming me. They cascade over my head like waves on an ocean beach. I have a love-hate relationship with my feelings. When they’re positive, I love them. When they’re negative, I don’t. I seem to believe that positive emotions are good and negative emotions are bad. But are they really? Do emotions really need a good/bad assignment to them?

The Never-Ending Change…

Very recently, the constant changes and uncertainty in the atmosphere of our world has gotten to me, and not in a good way. The simmering emotions of the ever-changing fabric of my life (I know, a bit melodramatic maybe), have been on the ‘back-burner’ but they still boil over every once in a while. Although these feelings are not forefront in my mind, they are still in the background, waiting for the heat to get turned up and a simmer to turn to a boil. On and on it goes. A good day, a good week, a bad day, a hard week, then back to center again for a while. Can anyone relate? As I scan the news articles and social media, it seems like it’s not just me, but the whole country and world who’s caught up in the chaos of the unknown future.

Along with the unknown in the world, each of us has our own unknowns in life too. I don’t know about you, but my life is still going. It didn’t stop when the stay-at-home orders started. Sure, it slowed down for a short time, but now it’s speeding up again. Specifically, I’m feeling the pressure in regards to adoption and schooling. 

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…

…or to quote from the movie Girls Just Want to Have Fun, “Decisions are the worst!” I am at a decision point. What do I do with my kids during this next school year? Do I send them back to school with all the unknowns, the constant changes, new guidelines and all the underlying stress of worry that being in proximity to potentially COVID-contagious people is causing? Or do I put them on a sabbatical from their school for this year in an effort to create at least some consistency? (It is not lost on me that I actually have the ability to entertain this choice since I am at home for both work and homelife. For this, I am thankful.) 

Well, we decided to homeschool. It was a very BIG decision for us. We hadn’t ever really planned to homeschool the kids. We were glad to send them to school and have them learn in that way, but this past year has made us rethink things. At the same time, I guess tt wasn’t totally out of the question for us to consider homeschool either. I mean, so many of my friends and family homeschool that if I just started to lean a little towards it, I knew I’d be well supported and have a community of people for the kids and I to be around. So… we’re homeschooling, but then there’s the curriculum. Choosing what to use, how intense to be, trying to keep up with the school system, etc. There’s no one right answer! Each child’s schooling can be as unique as each child! This is both great and also overwhelming. 

It reminds me of a previous blog post I wrote about making our adoption decision. I said, “the child(ren) out there for us will be as unique as our present circumstances that have led us to this decision at this time.” There’s this idea of the uniqueness of time. Never did I think that a global pandemic would force my hand to consider changing up my schooling options for my kids. Yet, it did. And yet, this same pandemic is not causing considerable changes to the other large decision in my life at this time – adopting a child.

We are still waiting and hoping to adopt. During this pandemic we have been contacted about two potential birth families to be matched with. One in the past and one in the present. With each new expectant mother/parent story, we have decisions to make. We have to weigh what we feel God is calling us to do with our family for the future as well as listen in case He’s asking us to make a change. Currently, we’re working through an adoption decision. I can’t go into all the details at this time, but suffice it to say that it’s a big decision! What we say, ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to impacts our entire future! They aren’t quite life or death decisions, but they are decisions with weight on them – they are weighty decisions. Please, tell me that some of you have ALSO had your own share of these weighty decisions moments. Sigh…

So, I’m in the middle of some weighty and stressful decisions. They will all work out just fine in the end, but the in-between details can feel overwhelming at time. They can feel almost crushing, like I don’t have what I need to adequately make these decisions! Then the anxiety and worry sets in and you can imagine how the day goes – not so great.

Negative Emotions…

But back to my earlier question, do the negative emotions need to be labeled as bad? In my mind, I know the counselor-correct answer is, ‘No, emotions and feelings are neither good nor bad. They are just what they are. They are almost akin to fact. They are feelings, nothing more, nothing less.’ But that’s hard to keep in mind in the moment of negative feelings. So, I began to journal. I journaled how I was feeling, why I was feeling what I was feeling and realizing that I just plain don’t like the way the negative emotions make me feel. 

My negative emotions make me feel weak – like a weak person, both mentally and physically. I know this is Satan lying to me, but the first step is recognizing that lie. Then in the swirl of the negative, comes a gentle stillness. I remember the Scripture, ‘For when I am weak, then He is strong.’ I think about how that can be applied to me at this very moment. How is God strong when I’m weak in this way? How is He showing up and lifting me up when I can’t do it on my own? And that’s it. It’s that simple. God is strong because he’s lifting me up, above the crashing waves. Or at other times, He comes in and stills the waves that crash until my inner world looks more like a serene, still lake. God’s strength helps me see another side to negative emotions. He encourages me that I don’t have to believe the same old lie that there’s nothing good to negative emotions.

Do you know what He told me recently? What He helped me to see about my emotions? Even in the midst of the snotty crying, or the heaviness in the pit of my stomach… God created feelings. He’s not afraid of my feelings. He’s not out of control. He loves my feelings. He loves my vulnerability. He loves my emotions. 

A Catalyst…

You see, I am learning that my emotions can act as a catalyst in my life.  They are a catalyst to enter into a bit more self-care when I haven’t been doing that lately. They are a catalyst to help me order my priorities and focus on what really matters for that day. They are a catalyst to keep me in the present, but still dreaming of my future. They are a catalyst to spend more time with Jesus so He can speak to me and show me new things, and old things. They are a catalyst to send me into the arms of my Father-God so He can lavish His love and comfort on me. They are a catalyst for me to listen to Holy Spirit for how God is showing His strength in the midst of my weakness. 

When Joy discovers that Sadness is good. (Pixar’s “Inside Out“)

Without this catalyst to move me towards the next thing, I can get stuck in the muck. I can start to live in the depression of weakness and the lies that come with it. I can start to build-up around me the things that seem like comfort, but really just act like a fence to hem me in. The catalyst of emotions on the other hand, moves me. It moves me out of the muck and onto dry ground. It builds up the strength in me and the truth that comes with it. It tears down my self-made walls of protection and instead shows me the steady and safe path of freedom in Christ! If I allow it. If I allow myself to go a bit deeper into the shadows of negative emotions or even a bit higher into the clouds of the positive feelings, I will learn new things with God. I will be moved and I will carry on yet again. I will have direction and peace.

So, even though I still don’t think that I’ll like the feelings of the negative emotions and I will much prefer the positive ones, I won’t shy away. I’ll press in just a little more so that I can learn more of what God has for me. And when the skies clear, I can work on my weighty decisions again and instead of experiencing great stress, I hope and expect that I will experience anticipation and clarity.

Adoption, God, My Story

Adoption Update: Early July 2020 – Almost Ours…

“Would you be ready to accept an adoption placement tomorrow?” I couldn’t believe my ears. A baby was already born who would be ready to go home with us the next day if the birth mother chose us as her child’s adoptive family! It seemed way too good to be true, but here we were, being faced with the dream I had been hoping for! A healthy baby that lined up with our desires in many ways and without anymore waiting! We happily said, ‘YES!’ to meeting with the birth mother the next day.

The Excitement Begins…

As many expecting parents do … we video called/texted our family! It was so fun to see the happy faces and hear the squeals of excitement as we told people one by one about this possible new addition to our family. My hope was buoyed. I immediately started thinking about all the things I’d need to do to prepare for a baby if we were selected as the adoptive parents. This was all so surreal!

Later that evening, my husband, Putty, and I talked more about how crazy-ridiculous (in a good way) this was feeling! We were excited and filled with anticipation. The last step for our evening was to review the birth family information. Our agency rep was getting that typed up so she could send it to us. I checked my inbox repeatedly for that email, but as evening rolled around, we got another text from the agency. My heart sunk a little as I read it, but I still held onto hope.

You see, the birth mother was having second thoughts about making an adoption plan for her baby and it was looking like the process would probably take longer than originally expected. In fact, it was proposed that the baby would go to a non-adoptive family while the birth mother made her decision to parent or not. I felt so strongly that if this was going to be our baby, I’d REALLY like to take care of this child from the beginning. I was ready! I didn’t want to wait, but I didn’t really have a say in these things. It’s all part of the process. The birth mother still planned to meet birth families the next day so she could have them in mind while making her ultimate decision.

Add in a Little Uncertainty..

And so… I went to bed that night not really sure what to expect. Would this chance at adoption really be ended as quickly as it began? Should I retain hope? What are my thoughts and feelings about a birth mother making a choice to parent instead of making an adoption plan? Is one better than the other? Well, I hadn’t met the mother and I didn’t know her situation, so I didn’t really have an answer. I had to leave it in God’s hands. He knew what would be best for this little baby. He knew and I trusted Him. I prayed that God would allow us to take the baby home the next day if it was to be our little one. Then I went to bed.

The next morning came. Our adoption meeting was scheduled for the afternoon, so I had all morning to prepare. Putty was out of the house when I got another call from our agency. It looked like we might actually have a chance at having the baby in our home that night after all! Although the birth mother still wasn’t sure if she would parent or not, she wanted the baby to go home to the prospective adoptive parents just in case she chose that option. Putty and I talked about it when he returned home and we agreed that we felt okay with this plan. We were now in a situation where we might take care of this sweet baby with the possibility of keeping or returning this child home to the birth mother. 

This was not exactly what I pictured when we originally decided to do private domestic adoption, but we felt completely at peace with this decision, and so we continued onward. We only had a few more hours before our meeting with the birth mom. It was my first time ever meeting a birth mom. It was a bit surreal. I mean, how do you prepare to meet a woman who is trying to decide if you should parent her child or not? It’s a bit of a weighty meeting and there’s not really a way to prepare for it. In fact, we realized that the best thing to do was to be ourselves. That’s what this birth mom was really looking for anyway. She wanted to know authentically who these would-be parents are.

That afternoon, we entered the agency door and there she was, the birth mom! I’m going to go ahead and put out a side note that it’s very weird to be meeting people for the first time during COVID. I mean, do we shake hands or just wave? How do I express warmth towards this woman if I cannot touch her? It was okay to shake hands (PSA: hand sanitizer was available). We walked to the conference room together and sat across the table from each other. Our agency representative took the lead to start the conversation and from there we talked about the birth mom’s experience thus far and what she was looking for in adoptive parents. We talked about the birth mom’s desires for the level of openness in the relationship and even whether or not she wanted the baby to keep the name on the birth certificate. 

As we went through all this, I felt very disengaged. I knew that I had to engage, but I didn’t quite understand why I was having trouble. Then I realized it. I got the feeling that the birth mom would eventually choose to parent. Her requests and even her low levels of engagement were indicators to me. Even so, I found a question to ask her and we had some better back and forth conversation for the last half of the meeting. As we said goodbye, we wished her luck and expressed to her again that we really didn’t want to pressure her on her decision, but rather support her in whatever she chose.

Renewed Hope…

Not long after returning home, I got a call. Our agency rep told us the good news. We had been chosen to care for the baby! We had about 2 hours before the baby would be at our door! My sister and brother-in-law brought over their crib. My daughter and I pulled out the baby clothes and started to get them washed. Putty set up the Pack ‘n’ Play on the main level and we waited. Finally, the baby was here! We talked with the agency rep, signed some papers and then we were on our own with this sweet baby.

Oh the joy! But also mixed in was the feeling and sense that this baby was not going to be ours. I sensed that partly from our birth mom meeting, but also when the agency rep dropped off the baby, more texts had been received from the birth mother indicating that she was gathering things together so she would be ready to parent very soon. We still welcomed this child into our home knowing that it was unlikely we would be the parents. Sure enough, after 36 hours this baby went home to the birth mother. This was a good thing and that baby is doing very well now. I’m so happy that this mother can be with her child. But, it makes me yearn even more for our next child.

A Different Kind of Hope…

This experience was not what I hoped, but also not out of the question for the adoption process. Yes, I am ready for our next child and the idea of a baby coming to us ‘the next day’ is very exciting! My hopes soared high and then little by little glided downwards to the reality that this wasn’t going to be our ‘happy ending.’ It hurts. My heart hurts not because we didn’t get to adopt this specific child, but rather that our journey has to continue. I wanted to settle down with this story as our ending place, but God has something else in mind. If anything, this experience fanned the flame of anticipation for when it’s our turn to welcome our ‘forever child’. Oh, I can’t wait! Even though it’s hard, I am really looking forward to the future.

Adoption, God, My Story, Voice

A Letter to my Future Child(ren) of Color

My Dear Little One,

You’ve been on my mind a lot recently. Over the past year I have been preparing for you to join our family, but I could not have foreseen how much of that preparation I’d be using before you came. You see, our country is in the middle of some great turmoil and unrest. This year has been a year of ‘Chaos!’ – That’s the word that God gave to your daddy for this year. We didn’t know that it would be so true and so turbulent.

The things that seemed like chaos in January and February have faded to the background as the more recent chaotic events of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic and the untimely and unjust deaths of African-Americans, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd at the hands of white people/police officers. These deaths sparked a lot of non-violent, peaceful protests as well as violent rioting and looting. I have never seen this in my time. I’ve heard about these types of things from history, but I never actually think that history will repeat itself. What’s done in the past, stays in the past, right? Well, not always, and certainly not in these cases. True, they are not exact replicas of past physical diseases and racial clashes, but they certainly carry some of the same elements with them.

My heart is feeling so many things right now. I feel angry, scared, confused, misunderstood, sad, worried, uncertain, and other feelings too. I also have so many other voices and opinions going through my head. I have the media, the Church, my black friends, my white friends, my not black/white friends, the voices of ‘leaders’ – both in the Christian sector and not, and so many more. When I’ve felt tugged to choose between these voices, it’s created a lot of chaos within me. It seems so easy to just make a social media post that echoes what others are saying, but God is showing me MY voice as He teaches me. He’s been showing me how I can be true to the voice that He’s given me.

God has been teaching me to wait. As I wait for you, I’ve learned patience and listening. Now in this current chaotic season, I am using this skill of waiting to check my heart, mind, and spirit before I speak. It’s something I highly recommend, little one. A big part of what God has been teaching me even before the waiting was how to respond instead of reacting. It’s so easy to get filled with strong emotions and want to fire out a rapid reaction to a social media post or something I’ve heard on the news or even a video from someone I trust. But, I’ve already been cultivating how to feel when my emotions are taking over and then I stop and take a break. This really empowers me to feel secure in what I say publicly and not have regret a hurried retort.

To create a true response, I’ve found I must wait. I must hear the voices around me. Then, I must listen for God’s voice and allow my own voice to come out. The waiting might seem like a lack of action, but God is working on something within me. If I wait, then when I respond, it will be in love and not from pain. 

Oh child, I so hope you only know love in your life, but I know the reality of humanity. There will be pain too. I’m so sorry. I realize that because of the color of your skin, history predicts that you will be mistreated, misrepresented, undervalued, disrespected, and more. I wish I could protect you from all the pain. I wish it would be as easy as kissing your boo-boo and then having you run back out to play. I wish I could fix it for you, but I won’t be able to. I will be with you though. I will be on your side. I will keep loving you no matter what. I’m sorry it’s like this. It makes me sad for you and for so many of our friends ‘like you’. I’d like to see injustice and disease wiped off this earth!  But, I wait. 

You know what God’s been doing in me as I wait? I hope it’ll help you too, little one, as you grow and learn and wait and respond. God has shown me that I can enter in more fully to someone’s pain by speaking with them directly – whether face-to-face, on the phone, or in a direct message. The back and forth of a conversation is so much more meaningful and helpful in working through my thoughts and feelings on tough topics and events. I’ve allowed God to lead me to speak with those He puts on my heart and mind. It’s been fruitful and I’m so thankful for my many brothers and sisters of all colors who have been willing to enter into personal dialogue with me.

In doing this we have been able to share what’s helping and hurting us through these situations. We can show love and understanding to one another. We can humbly ask for forgiveness for where we’ve been wrong and we can courageously give forgiveness to those who have hurt us. I’ve had to do both! And I can say, it’s been so freeing to my heart. I only wish our society could truly understand that power of asking for and receiving forgiveness. There’s a reason why God calls us to do this. It’s another piece in freedom and justice for all!

As for a public response, God has shown me that the best way I can respond publicly is through music. Would you believe it? I didn’t know about this until a very sweet cousin of mine lost her husband to death and all I could do was sing for her! Now, in the moments of disease and death, I have found that singing helps to calm and clear my mind. I found that as God led me to practice and sing songs, I actually entered more fully into the emotions of the moment. I wouldn’t call myself an activist, but I am a person who will journey with someone (or even a group of people) through pain and joy. God wrote a song in my heart and I had the honor to create this video with my friend Amber.

‘As I Am’ written and sung by Brittany Putman and performed by Amber Kaufman
Lyrics:
There’s a growing unrest in our souls
It’s crying see me, hear me
Touch me, I’m real
Don’t you see me, hear me
Feel me? I’m real
I’m crying out! But no one hears me
I’m torn apart! But no one sees
My voice in anger, anguish lifted
But who will see me, as I am?

Sweet child, your journey is your own! It won’t be mine, it won’t be Daddy’s, it won’t be your brothers’ or sisters’. You will discover your own journey and while you’re making that discovery, I will be with you. I will be in the pain, grief, joy and excitement. I will cheer with you and cry with you. I will help you find your voice and together we will grow into all that God made us to be.

I have so much hope for you and your future. Even in the painful, chaotic times that you might be born into, I choose you! You have been my dream since I was a child, and I wait with hopeful expectation for you. I love you with a deep love that words cannot express, but I’m so excited for when I get to SHOW you that love!

So, while we wait to meet… I love you.

Your Momma

Adoption, My Story

Adoption Update: May 2020 – Feeling the Ache

Aching…

Photo by Jake Ryan on Pexels.com

My arms feel the weight of his body. I can feel his warmth as he nestles close to me. The scent of his skin and hair is so sweet. The ache for my next baby is real. Every once in a while, I get a wave of longing for my next baby. I feel the anticipation of being a mother once again very keenly. And in all this, I must wait. This is where we’re at in the adoption process. This is the stage where I have to keep my dreams fresh, keep my hope alive, and practice patience. 

It’s been 6 months since we were approved to adopt (and so much longer since we started the process and first dreamed of adopting). In that time we’ve had one opportunity to be shown to a birth mom, another one ‘in the works’ and a time or two when a friend has mentioned a potential adoptable baby and the ‘Would we be interested if it all worked out?’ question. Unfortunately, none of these have worked out so far, yet I still keep my hope alive and remind myself that God has a plan for our family and the next precious addition. 

Adoption Attorney…

This month we took the next step of contacting an adoption attorney to find out what she offers for prospective adoptive parents as they wait for an adoption match. She was very kind and full of information gained through years, even decades of experience. We found out that our state does not allow attorneys to ‘match’ expectant mothers with prospective adoptive parents. However, she can show our adoption profile book to interested expectant mothers and she can answer questions for us and help us to ascertain whether a possible adoption match is real vs. unreal (or likely vs. unlikely to bring adoption through to finalization). 

One thing she mentioned was that she doesn’t consider adoptive parents to be really and truly in the full-swing of the adoption process until they’ve done three things: 1) contacted an attorney, 2) contacted an agency, and 3) started personal networking. This was really interesting to hear. I guess we’re on the right track since we’ve got two out of three done! Step three is the networking piece. And this is just to put a little bug in your ear, but would you keep us in mind if you hear of anyone who needs to make an adoption plan? We’re not asking you to ‘find our next child’ but rather to keep in the back of your mind that we’re looking to adopt.

So, we are trying our very best to only take next steps as we feel led by God. We feel like we’re being led to take steps that appear to be quite slow in the adoption world. Often people smatter their adoption portfolio onto every available online matching site, list with multiple agencies, and really ‘work’ to find an adoption match. But, that’s not the way we’ve felt God tell us to do it for now. So, we started with a small local agency. Then we let people know we were adopting and waited. After some time it became clear that our next step was to contact an attorney and from that conversation, we knew it was time to get more bold in our networking. 

Dreaming…

In some ways, moving through this process a little more slowly has been good for me, personally. (I’m not making a statement that every person should do things exactly as we are doing, only sharing the journey that God’s taking me on.) It’s given me a lot of time to think about the changes that are coming. It’s given me time to research and pray and ponder and discuss so many different facets of adoption. It’s helped me to slow down and enjoy the dream of my next child instead of taking constant action and being on the wheel of go-go-go, that in my case, often takes my mind off of the emotional and reflective side of things. 

But I must admit… I’m getting weary of only having reflection and emotion in this time. I’m ready for some action! I’m sure many of you can relate. We’ve all waited for something at some point in our lives. 🙂 The longing that’s been hitting me recently is also a push to talk about it with everyone who’s following along. Many of you have asked us what’s going on with our adoption journey. Thank you for asking. It’s good for me to talk about it. With that prompting, I knew I was ready to write this post, even when I feel like I don’t have anything new to share. I know there’s still value in sharing the process as it continues on.

Because this is part of the process of adoption… The Wait. The Anticipation. The Dream. There is a part of me that wants to focus on the ‘the wait’ in a negative light. I want to complain and whine and say, ‘Why is this taking so long?’ I want to ask the question, ‘When will this happen for us?’ But there’s that other part of me that’s fighting for patience and HOPE! The other side focuses on the anticipation of what’s to come with positivity and JOY! The dream of my next child brings up feelings of warmth and excitement.

While I Wait…

The question I’ve had to wrestle with is, ‘Which side of the spectrum do I want to focus on? The annoying waiting or the anticipation of a dream actualized?’ I’m not sure the answer is to focus solely on either of these. As I think about it, I don’t want to stop dreaming, but I also don’t want to miss the ‘now.’ In the meantime, in the waiting, I still have a life to live now. God is still doing something with me now! He’s not waiting for this new family addition before He sets my purpose into motion. No, there are many things that God is growing in me, teaching me, moving my heart on, and using me to be a change in my sphere of influence.

Ironically, I don’t have to wait. I don’t have to wait to be the person right now today that God so wonderfully purposed me to be. I don’t have to wait for the next big step in my life to come to fruition before I step out, speak out, live out what God has for me. I want to be a person of the PRESENT, not one living in the past or the future only.

Thank you, God, for the dreams you’ve put in my heart. They are truly wonderful! I ask that you help me to live in the present moment… while I wait.

Adoption, My Story

Private Domestic Adoption vs. International and Foster Care Adoption 

A while back a friend asked me through a Facebook comment why we chose domestic over international adoption. I didn’t quite know how to answer in a public forum like that, but I knew I wanted to try. As we’ve settled into the private domestic adoption route, I feel ready and able to share about it more openly. I hope this gives you all a unique window into our situation and encouragement to anyone who’s considering adoption for their own family.

Our Journey to Our Decision…

Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

It wasn’t easy; our decision. Putty and I took a long time to officially decide which route to go and we definitely didn’t want to take it lightly. We weighed many factors like our busy schedules – both at home and abroad, the spacing of our children, our mental stress load, our capacity for attending to different health issues in a child, etc. These weren’t all necessarily weighed evenly either, but each one was important in its own way.

[But first a disclaimer: These thoughts are for this adoption process only. I do not know yet if we will adopt again and if we do, all our reasoning might be completely different for that adoption.]

Considering Age-Range…

When I thought about welcoming the next child to our family, I knew for sure that I wanted to adopt in birth order. This means we wouldn’t be adopting any child who’s older than our youngest child. This significantly reduces the age range of our to-be adopted child to younger than 4 years old (at the time of this writing). That age range doesn’t prohibit adoption internationally or domestically. Both types of adoption have children available for adoption in this age range.

Kayla (9), Ben (7), Ariella (almost 4) – Room for more!

Knowing this information I chose to research both international and domestic adoption. We decided to go ahead and look into an even younger age-range; infant. You see, when my youngest was still a newborn and I was rocking her back to sleep one night, God gave me a very intense picture of what I felt were some characteristics of our next child. Part of that picture was of me holding a baby; a newborn. The thought that immediately went through my mind in the still quiet of the night was, “Next time I do this (take care of my next newborn) I won’t be recovering from surgery!” I have never cared for a newborn without also recovering from a C-section. What a different experience this will be!

It was also clear to me that I didn’t feel quite finished with the ‘baby’ stage of parenting. I LOVE babies and always have. I delight in caring for my infants. Most of the children available for adoption internationally are close to a year old, if not older. And since we only looked at countries that participated in The Hague Convention and the rules set forth about when a child is found to be adoptable, it became clear that it was near impossible to be matched with a very young baby. (Note: I am making no comment about whether I agree or disagree with the regulations set forth in The Hague Convention. I am merely stating facts as I understand them.)

Considering Health Status…

When I took a serious look at adopting children two years old and under from other countries, it appeared that many of the adoptable international children had special needs of varying degrees. Putty and I knew that at this time we didn’t have the bandwidth to knowingly adopt a child with moderate to severe special needs and that significantly reduced the number of potential adoptable children for us internationally.

Additionally, when speaking with people who worked with international adoptions and one country in specific, I was told that the children available for adoption were very similar to the children in our US foster care system. Since I didn’t have a clear leading to adopt internationally, only trans-racially, and I wouldn’t likely be able to adopt a very young child without special needs, I immediately considered why I shouldn’t just jump ship on international adoption and choose the US foster care system instead. After all, it would likely be much less cost and time intensive to adopt from the US than internationally. 

So, we moved on to our next step of considering the US foster care system. After all, we know many people who have adopted this way, including my nephew and I’m so glad he’s a part of our extended family! I’m not opposed to foster care, but I needed to really understand the requirements and expectations of this route.

Considering Likelihood of Adoption…

As we sought out information on foster care and met with a social worker, we discovered our first drawback. It was made clear that there was no way to guarantee that any child(ren) placed in our care would be available for adoption. I know people who have fostered newborns from birth and finalized their adoption once the children were toddlers, but there’s no way to guarantee this type of placement. Not only that, even if we only accepted a newborn placement that had a high potential for adoption due to an expectation that parental rights would most likely be terminated, there was no guarantee that another family member wouldn’t come forward at the last minute and be able to raise the child(ren).

I’m not making a sweeping comment about whether this is good or bad for the child(ren) (because every situation is so very different), but for us, we knew it wouldn’t be a great fit. Whereas some people have a calling to help children in need until they can be reunited with their birth families, we feel called to bring a child into our family on a permanent basis. So, I asked one final question to the foster care worker. “Are there ever newborns available for adoption whose parents have already terminated their rights?” The answer was less than hopeful.

After gaining a better understanding of the foster care system and the accompanying expectations, we decided it wasn’t the right path for us at this time. The red tape, multiple appointments and unknowns of the foster care system would be much more than we could handle at this current time in our lives.

Choosing Private Domestic Adoption…

So, it became clear that private domestic adoption would be our best route to adopting the child that God has in mind for us! Through private domestic adoption we will be able to be matched with a baby of our specific age (newborn to 2 months) and health status (none to mild special needs) desires for our newest family member. This is something that is necessary during this season of our lives. We will even be able to make decisions together with the expectant (birth) mom about the openness of the adoption and other factors surrounding adoption. I’ve come to see that we will be able to give the option of choice to an expectant mother too. In private adoption the expectant mom usually chooses the family to raise the baby she’s carried, rather than the prospective adoptive parents.

In other news, in addition to adopting a baby, we have decided to open our hearts to the possibility of adopting two children – one newborn and the other one up to age two! I don’t know if this will actually happen or not, but we felt very much like we should be open to that in case this scenario came up. 

Greater Understanding and Compassion…

Photo by ATC Comm Photo on Pexels.com

I have to admit, through this process my heart has softened more towards expectant mothers and all the feelings and reasons they have surrounding making an adoption plan for their child(ren). Through research, training, and reading I’ve broadened my understanding on the many reasons why a birth mom would choose to have her child(ren) adopted. There are so many more situations than I had previously thought about and no matter the situation, it can’t be an easy choice. There will always be loss and not just at the birth, but year after year. It’s quite a serious and heart-rending decision. So whether international or domestic, private or foster care, I plan to extend care and sensitivity to all those in the adoption triad (expectant (birth) mother, prospective adoptive parent(s), child(ren)).

There are so many children, world-wide and in our own ‘backyard’ who would be blessed to join a forever family. There is no right or wrong way to adopt. But, there is a right or wrong way for each individual adoption situation. It took us a long time to figure out what is right for us at this time. And, the child(ren) out there for us will be as unique as our present circumstances that have led us to this decision at this time.

For Those Considering Adoption…

If you’re considering adoption, I highly recommend looking into all the options. Search your heart and find out what really matters to you. Know your limitations and your strengths and apply those in your decision of which type of adoption to move forward with for any given situation. And above all, try to understand and not judge all those who have made their own unique and individual choices for adoption.

Adoption, My Story, Praise and Worship, Voice

It’s My Blogging Birthday!

One Year of Blogging!…

You guys! I’m so excited! I’ve been blogging for a year! Honestly, when I started this, I just wasn’t sure if I’d keep with it. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to keep at it, but I just didn’t believe in myself 100%. I’m so glad I went through with it anyway. Now I can say I’ve blogged for a year! I’ve been looking back over my past posts and thinking about what I had in mind when I started blogging and where the journey has gone so far. So, this post will be a reflection on blogging over the past year.

STATS…

I thought it’d be fun to begin my reflection with a few stats. Over the past year I’ve written 44 posts with 33,782 words! I’ve had 68 comments on the blog itself plus many more through Facebook comments. My top three most viewed posts are White Savior?!?, Could This Be Our Match?, and Adoption Update 2019. Finally, there have been 2,944 visitors viewing my blog 4,376 times from 36 countries! Wow! Thank you to everyone who has followed along on this blogging journey!

World Map of where my blog has reached

Let’s start at the very beginning…

When I started this blog, my mind felt like it was being pulled in so many directions. First was the adoption process. There were so many boxes to check before we could be approved to adopt and then who knew what would happen after that! Then, there was this deep longing inside of me to share more of who I am and what my life story has been. The stories swirled as I desired to share them with someone new! Last, through more introspection, I had many new questions, ideas, and thoughts come to mind and I really needed a place/person to dialogue with about those things. Enter my blog.

That was my mindset when I started this blog – a soup full of so many ‘tastes’ and they all called for attention. That’s when God, in His quiet and calm voice, prompted me to start a blog. I didn’t know what He was doing or where this would go, but I decided to go along with it. A local friend gave me some very good advice. I now pass this along to anyone thinking of starting a blog. She told me that I ought to have 10 posts written before I even published my first post. I’m so thankful for that advice. It really helped me keep traction at the beginning. 

Then when ‘life happened’ in the middle of my first sequence of ten posts, it was my husband who encouraged me to veer from what I planned and allow myself some spontaneity in the post cycle. After all, a blog of this type is usually about what’s happening NOW and interrupting my plan to reflect on the current events would be totally in-line with what I was doing.

When I started this post, my goal was to alternate posts between one of my thoughts/ideas and adoption related topics. I did that pretty well for a while. But, those posts started to get fewer and far between. What started as a deep need to talk out the adoption process and pass along information to others who might be in a similar place, moved to a need to discuss the information I was taking in from so many different sources and opinions about interracial adoption and even race/culture in general.

The posts moved from a place of safety (just telling my story) to a place of personal tentative viewpoints (posts about race/culture). How would my posts with the topic of race/culture be received, understood, and viewed? Did I write them in a way that was loving and honoring to everyone involved? Did I often come out with a white woman’s perspective or was I able to write with another perspective in mind? And while I’m bringing that up, how in the world do you separate your own life-long perspective, the one that you don’t even realize you have, with the other ones that you’re reading about and listening to and really thinking about? It’s hard to do. I still don’t know if I’m doing it well, but I believe I’m trying with a pure heart. So, I wrote out the hard questions I had and made myself come to and voice a place of conclusion, at least for the time being.

Somewhere in the Middle…

Somewhere in the middle of the past year, I started to fall in love with my musical side again. I expressed my deep connection to music and moved through what it’s like to create music and also teach others. The joys of helping someone else ‘win’ at creating music is so rewarding! Yet at the same time, this focus on music began to pull my own heart towards creating music again. I immersed myself in figuring out how to play piano so I could play and sing on my own. I went out on a limb and recorded myself learning this new musical ambition. Then, in act of true transparency, I posted the recordings, mistakes and all, in hopes that I could be an encouragement to others to keep progressing towards their musical dreams. 

My first recored and posted video
My most recent and posted video

The Present Place…

Now, a year later, I’m in a very different place for writing. I don’t have the stash of posts ready to publish anymore, but I do have a long list of topic ideas yet to be explored. I don’t have the swirling craziness inside my head anymore. Instead I have a great system (blogging) for thinking through and expressing the journey of any particular thought or idea. I don’t have as many posts about adoption. Instead my lack of posts reflect where we’re at in the journey – waiting. This blog has helped me organize my thoughts, express them, and then dialogue with others about them. Sometimes I get pushback on what I’ve posted, but most of the times I’ve been incredibly encouraged by you, my readers. 

All in all, I’m feeling really glad that I went out on a limb, publicly, and started to blog. I’ve found a really helpful way to organize my thoughts, talk them out with others, and find expression for the deep feelings inside of me. As I’ve written, I’ve felt God encouraging me that my vulnerability and authenticity will allow others to be the same. It allows others to ask the hard questions and wrestle with what they really think. While I share my story, through writing or the music videos, I’m giving voice to what’s going on inside me and that’s really important for all people.

In January 2019, while I was in England and talking with God, He told me, ‘You have a voice and it’s meant to be heard.’ It seems that over this year through blogging, singing, and teaching, that statement is being walked out. It’s thrilling and terrifying. It’s exciting and sometimes humbling, but in the end, I feel peaceful. I’ve followed God’s leading and in a sense, I’ve ‘grown up’ or matured because of it. I’d like to keep that trajectory in the following years.

What’s Next?…

So, what does the next year hold? I plan to keep writing, that’s for sure! But where and what will my blog posts explore? I hope that we’ll make an adoption match soon and I can share the process of being on that journey in a fresh, new way! I hope my musical ambition will continue to push me forward into new spaces and remind me of the all the things that have formed me. I hope I won’t shy away from hard subjects, but instead invite a dialogue about these topics in order to learn more and get new perspectives. What’s next? I honestly don’t know, but I’m excited to witness the change in me, my family, and my ‘world’ a year from now. I’m looking forward to sharing more with all of you!