Pain in Remembering

I was just reading through my email updates from when we were going through the adoption process with baby H (this was a failed adoption).  Needless to say, I cried many times.  It is amazing how even after two years, when I read the updates, the pain is fresh and raw.  A part of me feels guilty, because I didn’t continue to pursue the birthmom with unconditional love.  After it fell through for the second time, I couldn’t handle the friendship.  It hurt too much!  I often wonder what would have happened if I had been stronger.  Most agree that it was good for me to stop the relationship, because it would force Adreanna to be a Mom, but I often feel as if I was just another person that failed her.  She had never had anyone consistent in her life – I was another inconsistency.  She did call again in October, wanting us to adopt Huley, yet again.  I wanted to know more and chat with her about what was going on, I explained that we were in the process with another birth mom.  She said she would call later.  I never heard from her again.  I often wonder how she is doing.  I pray for her lots.  I look for her on facebook, to no avail!  I hope and pray that she and Huley and Precious are doing well!  It may be a story I never know the end of until I am in heaven…

I am so thankful for N and our adoption story with her – talk about beauty from ashes (a horrid adoption situation that led to a beautiful story).  A part of me fears that our next adoption will be another failed adoption or that we’ll end up with a birthmom that is unstable.  I know that God has plans to prosper us – give us hope and a future (Jer 29:11) and that He will never leave us or forsake us.  This doesn’t mean that it will be easy or painless, but it will be for our good.  Although that adoption journey was one of the hardest (if not the hardest) thing I have ever gone through in my life, it was a defining time – I time where I came to know God on a completely new level – a time when I was wholly dependent on Him.  I am thankful for that time and I love how our story turned out.  I TRUST HIM WITH MY FUTURE!

As a beautiful lady named Sarah blogged:

“Adoption is for the hungry. If you want to know more of Jesus and are willing to get a little undone in the meantime, sign up. You can’t pursue a child without being consumed by His pursuit of you.” (http://www.everybitterthingissweet.com)

Through our adoptions, I turned to God like never before, and got to know him even more intimately.  He renewed me day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16) and I am (at times 😉 ) so grateful for that difficult process, because it forced me to rely more and more on God.  Again, this doesn’t mean that the waiting was easy, but the process deepened my relationship with our father.  I can only pray my desires will take second place to the Lord’s plan.  I have to daily surrender this.  It’s so easy to put our desires at the front of my mind and focus on them, instead of on our King.

 

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My “Wish”

Cover of "I Wished for You: an Adoption S...

Cover via Amazon

I was reading a book to Abby about adoption last night (why is that all of my posts start with books I’ve read or am reading?).  The Mama had always told the little bear that he was her wish.  He wanted to know more about that:

“Did you wish for me all day, Mama?” Barley asked.  “Or only when the stars were out?”

“All the time,” said Mama, softly, “I wished for you with my morning coffee, and when I made my bed.  I couldn’t get my wish for you out from in my head.” (Richmond, Marianne, I Wished for You; an adoption story, pp. 15-16)

While the whole book is a great kids book about adoption (not my favorite, but still great), this part really hit home with me, because lately I have been “wishing” for another little “cub” to join our family.

Just to make something clear, I am incredibly grateful for Abby and if she is the only child that God has for us, I will be content, but He has birthed in me a desire for another child.  I would love for Abby to have a sibling soon.  She is almost 18 months and I was hoping for an 18-24 month gap, so my clock is starting to tick-tock louder than normal.  I have to keep reminding myself that God’s timing is perfect and He knows the age gap that my children need.

Last week, my wishing started to become more frequent.  You see, Abby’s birthmom called last asking us if we were ready for another baby (yes, of course!), because she was going to be chatting with a friend considering placing her baby for adoption and she wanted to know if she could present us as potential parents.  We have been hoping and praying that God would bring us a match like this, because in a designated adoption (where the birthmom picks the adoptive parents prior to going to an agency), the cost is reduced by $12,000+, which makes it much more feasible financially.  This is all very preliminary and the friend hasn’t even decided if she is going to place for adoption, but it got me thinking about and wishing for our little cub even more.

Now, a little cub is all I can think about.  As mama said in the book, I am wishing for a little one with my morning coffee, while I clean house, while I play with Abigail.  I told a friend a couple days ago, adoption and a new baby are my every other thought.  It is the thought that is sitting there, waiting for me to be done with my current thought, so it can jump to the forefront again.

Yes, we want another baby, but we want God to bring us a baby in His time – the baby (and birthmom) that He has for our family.  It is easy to get caught-up in trying to make it happen, especially when a cub is my every other thought, but God keeps reminding me to be patient and wait on Him.  We are praying for direction – should we go to an agency, should we wait for a friend to connect us (could take years), should we have a home study done, so we can place our profile online?  Right now, we are just waiting and praying.

I am not always the best at waiting on direction and I wish I was better at laying this on the alter, so I would stop obsessing, but since it is my every other thought, I am using the reminder as an opportunity to pray, pray, pray for our little one and his/her birthmom!

Friends for Life

I picked a book off of my shelf this afternoon – Secrets to your Successful Domestic Adoption: Insider Advice to Create your Forever Family Faster by Jennifer Joyce Pedley.  You see, our first (and currently, only) daughter is adopted.[1]  For months before she joined our family, adoption was my every other thought.  I remember ripping this same book out of a mailer from our adoption attorney in November of 2011, hungrily skimming its pages and dreaming of what our adoption story would look like.

At this point in our adoption journey, we had been matched with our second potential birthmom.  (Our first potential birth mom decided to parent, but that is a story for another day.)  While our first potential birthmom was flighty and unreliable, changing her mind about the adoption every day, our second potential birthmom (we’ll call her “N”) was solid as a rock and was quickly becoming a dear friend.

Early on in our journey, weeks before I received this book and while N was still making her decision, N said that she wanted the adoption to be closed after birth.  She thought it would be better for the baby to only know us as her parents.  We were open to a closed adoption, if that was what she wanted, but were still hoping for an open adoption and praying for what would be best for the baby.  After getting to know each other for almost a month, N called us and said that she had made up her mind and that she wanted to give us her baby.  (This is where the tears commenced and continue to commence every time I talk or type about it.)  I didn’t think I could be more overjoyed.  However, she went on to say that if we were open to it, she wanted to keep the adoption open, not because she wanted to be part of the baby’s every day life, but because she wanted to maintain our friendship.  As a quick note, I don’t want you to think she was heartless in saying she didn’t want to be part of the baby’s life.  In fact, she was happy to still get to see the baby, but did not want to interfere with our parenting and wanted us to know that she would not see herself as the baby’s mom.  Her main reason for changing her mind was our friendship.  She said she had never had friends like us, whom she clicked with, who shared her faith, and who pointed her to Christ.  I was even more overjoyed!!!  I, too, did not want to say goodbye to this sweet friendship.

Shortly after this conversation, I received this book in the mail.  I was confident that N and this pending adoption were a gift from God and that everything would go smoothly.  I trusted N and I trusted God, but I had no idea what the future held and what our open adoption would look like.  I had heard stories of open adoptions across the spectrum – amazing, healthy relationships between the biological and adoptive parents, as well as surface-level relationships, that involved annual visits or just annual letters.  I had also envisioned horrid open adoptions, where the birth parents lied to the kids, telling them they were stolen and exposed them to awful things.  (Please note: I had never heard of this, I was just scared and my imagination was overactive.  Also, for potential adoptive parents reading this, if this or anything else in an open adoption ever were to happen, visits could be canceled in the best interest of the child.)  My husband and I had gone to conferences, read many books, and seen the statistics.  We believed that open adoption was the best option for the child in most adoption situations, but I still had no idea what our open adoption would look like!  Little did I know what God had in store!

One of the first adoption stories in the book really struck a cord with me.   I’ll share it with you now:

It was a beautiful autumn Wisconsin day, cool enough to need a wrap but warm enough to leave my coat in the car.  I gripped by husband’s arm tightly and stepped deliberately in my heels, careful to land squarely in the middle of the slate patio pavers, kitty-whompus from years of frost and thaw.  There wasn’t exactly an aisle, but we sat down in the chairs on the left anyway, the side traditionally filled by guests of the bride.  Even though it was nearly sixteen years since my own wedding, I am not ashamed to admit that, like most chicks, I still get butterflies in my stomach just before any bride appears on her own big day.  In the case of this particular bride, I was weepy before we even sat down in the fairy-tale courtyard.  All weddings are significant, but this wedding was especially sweet to me because the bride was my dear friend Rikki, a birthmother who I first met only weeks after she had given birth to her daughter, Lena, and had gently placed her into the arms of her new adoptive family.

In an odd sort of way, I felt a surge of pride, as if I, the mother hen, was watching one of my baby chicks leave the nest.  I had watched Rikki “grow up” in the last seven years (probably more than she had in the previous twenty!).  She was a part of the first group of birthmothers to whom I’d become an unofficial mentor, adviser, and cheerleader through years of their open adoption journeys.  Many others in that very group of remarkable women were sitting around me as well; I could almost feel them absorbing the hope that they too would find happiness in their own lives.  Certainly, a wedding is a big step from anyone, but for a birthmother who wonders every day how her life will play out differently because of that crossroad decision, it is a giant leap!

Lena, now seven years old, emerged from behind the ancient stone columns and began to make her way toward the front, her fancy princess dress swishing with each step.  As she tossed pink rose petals from a dainty basket, I wished that I could somehow bottle this moment to replay for every apprehensive pre-adoptive couple I’d ever tried to convince of the benefits of open adoption.  It’s one thing to read about it in a book or to hear about it from an “expert” at an adoption conference, but completely another to see it being lived out with Technicolor emotions.”

Next down the aisle were Rikki’s two sisters, followed by the third and final member of the wedding party, the matron of honor.  Nothing unusual there, except that Rikki’s matron of honor, N, is also Lena’s adoptive mother.  If you knew Rikki and N, you wouldn’t be surprised.  After all, they’ve been family since the day Lena was born.  I’m still not sure what is more wonderful: that Rikki had the honor of having her daughter be a part of that monumental day or the fact that Lena had absolutely no idea what a remarkable thing it was for her, her mom, and her birthmom to all be standing there.  After all, this was just normal life for her – nothing unusual to be surrounded by all the people who love her. (Pedley, Jennifer Joyce, Secrets to your Successful Domestic Adoption, 9-10)

I remember sitting there, pondering this story, and thinking, “I wonder if our story will be like this.”  Many people might be scared of a story like this, but I was intrigued by it, and thought that, with the Lord, a story like this could be amazing, for the child and for the parents.  Being one who typically doesn’t like to get my hopes up, I told myself, this probably won’t happen.  I was confident we would remain friends, but didn’t think we would ever be that close.

Fast forward a little over a year and a half.  N is no where near being married, and I have no idea if I will be in her wedding, but I can confidently say that she is one of my best friends and vice versa.  She is like the sister that I never had.  I thank God for our relationship every day and know that it is a story only he could have written.

Just to give you an idea of our relationship, I thought I’d share a few things.  Before Abby (our precious daughter) was born, N ended up staying with us for a few weeks.  We did almost everything together: baking (it was Christmas time), shopping, watching movies, having friends over.  Even though she was living with us, we still stayed up late into the night talking almost every night.  It was almost like a sleep-over!

For Christmas, her parents drove to our place in California.  My husband worked at a university and we had a tiny two-bedroom apartment.  While we didn’t have room for her family of seven to stay, the university was gracious enough to let us use an empty four bedroom apartment over the holidays in addition to our own place.  It was perfect.  We celebrated Christmas and New Years together, waiting for our little one to join us.  It was one of the sweetest holidays ever.  It felt (and still feels) as if our family grew by eight, instead of by one.  One of our first family-of-three vacations was to visit N’s parents in Colorado.  Little did we know that a year later, God would move us to Colorado, where we live an hour from N’s parents and half an hour from N (she made completely separate plans to move, but ended up moving the same week as us and we caravanned)!  We couldn’t be more thrilled to have our family close by!

Over the year and a half since Abby was born, N has visited at least once a month.  While working at a Christian camp, she would often drive down on her breaks and spend the weekend with us.   Some months, it was every weekend and every time she visited, she was a welcome guest and I couldn’t wait for her to arrive!  When we moved to Colorado, she was my first friend to see our new house and spent many weekends helping us with new homeowner projects.  She is also one of our go-to babysitters (and for those of you concerned, has never once interfered with our parenting and says that it has never been difficult to see us with Abby or to see Abby – in her words, “Abby is our kid”)!  She has become a confidant, a friend, and a sister.

This is a story that only God could have written.  I look forward to the future chapters, to seeing my dear friend and sister find the love of her life, get married and have a family of her own.  I can only hope and pray that our friendship will stay strong through it all.

I am not saying that this will be the story for every family (in fact, it probably won’t be), but God saw the desire of my heart and knew what would be best for all of us involved – Abby, Jonathan, me, N, and N’s family.  We serve a God who gives immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine and I praise Him for His perfect plan. (Ephesians 3:20)

Just the other day, I was talking to a friend and saying that we would never have another adoption like Abby’s!  A few days later, God shared with me a story that could be much like Abby’s story.  I don’t know when our future children will come or how, but God reminded me that He knows the desires of our hearts and is able to do more than we could ask or imagine.  He then prompted me to pick up this book and I remembered what He had done for us and was reminded of what He could do in the future.  You never know, we could end up with another amazing adoption story, written by Him.  In fact, I’m sure we will!  It may not be the same, and probably won’t be, but I have no doubt if we (and you) give him control over your lives, His story for our lives will be incredible!!


[1] The way she joined our family is truly an amazing story.  You’ll see pieces of it throughout this blog and, hopefully, it will all be written down soon.