Thursday, January 31, 2013

Jesus Help Me... No, Really

Most of the time, we don't even think about the fact that our two children are adopted. We are reminded only by the random questions and stares that we get from complete strangers.  Normally this does not bother me, although I have to admit that I almost lost it the other day. 

It had been a really long day and I felt my patience wavering. I had been through at least two high pitched screaming fits, one defiant three-year-old stand off, and a poo-poo disaster. We were literally running through the store and I couldn't find what I was looking for. The boys had been trying to escape the buggy, and since I had grabbed the only one with broken buckles, I had told them to sit down 537 times.  We passed this little old lady at least four times. As I walked by her she looked at the boys, and then at me in a condescending fashion. 

I get this a lot from the older generation, as I am sure that they lived in the times of segregation.  Most days I just laugh and try to understand where they are coming from, but this particular day I wanted to have a "comin' to Jesus meeting" in the pasta aisle. I didn't-- but I really wanted to. 

There are a few things that provoke us to use more caution with our oldest two kids.  For instance, when our daughter was born, we stayed home for three full months so that she wouldn't catch someone's bug.  The doctor let us know that if she got seriously sick we would have to do a spinal tap to figure out what was wrong because we didn't have all of her medical history.

We have had to be careful with the "allergy foods" as well. We had to wait until they were older to try them for the same reason. The same goes for vaccinations and medications. Luckily we haven't had any major issues, but we just have to be a little more attentive. 

Now we are looking at putting tubes in our son's ears. It's a simple procedure, and I have heard nothing but positive comments about it. But it is scary to put your baby under anesthesia-- period.  It's especially scary when you have no medical history! This is yet another example of us having to have faith in The One who brought these children to us. 

Faith is the same for everyone who has a child-- regardless of how they "got" them. As parents, we just fly by the seat of our pants and lift up a lot of prayers (I know that I say, "Jesus help me" at least 37 times a day).

Proverbs 19:21 "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."

Incidentally, the doctor commented to Nick, "Even though he's adopted, you two have the same hair!"

I want to get to know y'all! Do you have adopted children? Do you think you have different concerns than parents with biological children? 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

His World

As we were driving on an overpass(I know, we spend a lot of time in the car-but strangely enough, a lot of epiphanies happen there), my 3 year old daughter looked out over the city and said,"Mommy, look at all of the world that God made!" This made me smile, as I take these scenes for granted and don't really think much about them. "I see!  Isn't it beautiful?"I asked. "Mommy, can we see all of the world?"she prodded.  My response was,"You may see a lot of the world, but I don't know about all of it."

 I hope that she does see a lot of the world! I hope that she takes the world by the horns and does some wonderful things.

I believe that she will.  And if I tell her that, then she will believe that she will! She is a wildly wonderful free spirit...and that is exactly what we prayed for!

Although we didn't pray for that with the next two--we weren't quite sure what we were getting into with that prayer.

But at 3, the world is at your command. And she feels that it is. It made me reflect on where she came from, and think more about where she is going. 

Our daughter did not come from a horrible place, but my hope is that we may be able to give her many opportunities that she may not have been able to have. Everyone wants the best for their children.  But I think about things with the first two that I don't think about with our other son. Quite often, Nick and I think about where our first two babies would be had they not been given to us.  I am sure that they would be taken care of, and hopefully loved, but their lives would inevitably be remarkably different. 

I don't want anyone to take this post wrong.  I have the absolute utmost respect for their birthmothers!  But the facts are just that they were not in ideal situations.  And that is why they made the life changing decision that they did.

I hope for our children that they will be able to grow and thrive, and attack wonderful opportunities with our 100% support.  But honestly, my greatest hope for them all is that they realize their purpose and place in this world through the love of Jesus...that they always marvel at the "world that God made."

Because that is what would truly make me feel like a most successful parent.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Our Rollercooaster Ride: Part 4

Read Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3 of how we became "InstaParents")

So there we were, talking to our birthmother about adopting our son in April, and I was pregnant. It was a whirlwind of emotions.  I had never imagined this would happen, and I should've been ecstatic--but I was too overwhelmed to feel much of anything. 

Don't get me wrong-- we were excited, but there was anxiety as to how the pregnancy would go, how we would care for a newborn while dealing with morning sickness? How would I bring a newborn home with a six-month-old?  It was a lot to take in. I had to learn to take it one day at a time and I knew that this pregnancy was of God because there simply was no other explanation.

We didn't tell anyone outside of our immediate families about the pregnancy because we wanted our son to have his moment in the sun. I continued texting with our birthmother and our contact. They were eight hours away, so we had to start planning our trip. She kept me updated on appointments, and at 32 weeks she went to the hospital thinking she was having contractions. It was a stressful time but luckily it was only a little dehydration. While she was in the hospital she sent me a text with the sound of his heartbeat-- it made it so real!

I started working on the nursery, but very 'loosely'. We looked into hotels and travel times. We found out that we had to work with an agency by their state law, so the lawyer suggested one that was close to the town, and we contacted them.  They met with our birthmother and she loved them.  Everything was being handled, but it was so far away that I couldn't micromanage it.

This was one of the biggest life lessons I learned through infertility--as much as I think I control everything-- I really don't. I had to give it to God, because I could not do it.

I was fighting morning sickness and fatigue.  I began to wonder how I was going to care for a newborn feeling this way. The time came where our birthmother talked to her doctor about being induced, as she was tired of being pregnant. She and the doctor went back and forth on it, but we finally had a date of induction, if she didn't go into labor before then.  So we could start setting plans in stone. We made reservations, necessary contacts, and off we went.

We drove to the hotel we found the day before the induction.  She was not going in until 6pm the next day, but we wanted a little time to acclimate and get our bearings. We made the eight-hour trek in the middle of some pretty bad storms and flooding. Nick's parents followed us, as they were going to help with our daughter.

We knew we could be there up to two weeks, and possibly longer.  We wouldn't be able to leave the state until all of the paperwork had been signed by her state, and by our state. We finally made it to the hotel, and were put in a standard room.  Nick went down to talk to the manager to see if there was any way to get a larger room or a suite.  He explained the situation to him, but there was nothing available. 


But we pressed on.  We met up with our contact and her family for dinner. We talked about where the hospital was, where the adoption agency was, and possible things to do while we were there.  We found a Walmart, and bought a few things for the hotel room.  As long as I know where a Walmart is, I'm usually good!

It was right about this time that my morning sickness started to subside.  I know that God was taking care of me, because it seems that this happened right as we were about to make this trek.  I was three-months pregnant at this point. 

The next morning we went to visit the agency. We met the lady that we had emailed and talked to on the phone.  She was going to go to the hospital to "hang out" with our birthmother that night.  Our birthmother's parents both worked, so they couldn't be there with her. We asked the social worker to stay with her as long as she needed. We discussed all of the necessary things and also asked her if she felt that the birthmother was pretty firm in her decision, as she had met her and we still had not.  She said that she did feel good about it, but the law in this state is that the birthmother doesn't sign her rights away until three days after birth... and there was always the chance that she might change her mind.

This is the thing about adoption--you have to step out in faith.  And stepping out in faith means that you are probably going to have some disappointments, as we did.  But the reward is always worth it!

We left the agency and set out to find the hospital.  It was a 30-45 minute drive.  We found the hospital, amidst uprooted trees.  They had a heck of a storm the day before.  We drove another 30 minutes or so to the town where our contact lived.  We found the courthouse and had lunch at a little shop.  We also found the attorneys office.  Luckily Nick's mom and dad had our daughter for the day so that we could do all of this without her-- she would have been so incredibly bored.  It was also good to have some time just the two of us to talk and relieve each others worries-- or more accurately, for Nick to relieve mine!

We found a florist and bought some beautiful lilies for our birthmother. I had already gotten her a tiny gift and a little something for her five-year-old daughter. We had gotten flowers for our daughter's birthmother, too, and she had been so thankful.  It was absolutely the least that we could do.  You do have to be careful with gifts, though, so we had gotten everything approved by the agency. 

It was late in the afternoon and I was so anxious to get to the hospital. Nick finally conceded and we grabbed our small bags and headed back. We knew that there was no hurry, but really? Would I have gotten any sleep at the hotel? Our social worker had suggested bringing doughnuts or something to the hospital as that would break the ice with the nurses so we did!  And it worked! 

We had been expecting to stay in a little tiny room off of the nursery with only a chair in it, but we got there and they put us up in our own room!!  Another real room... all to ourselves!  Another little miracle!  In the room we were supposed to have we would've only been able to see the baby to visit. But in the room we got, we could keep him with us! Not only did they put us in a room, but we were on the meal plan while we were there too, and the food wasn't typical hospital food! You could order pizza and other good stuff!  We got phone calls three or four times a day asking for our order!

We got settled in.  Our new little home was WAY away from home.

Our birthmother progressed very slowly, but we got updates from the social worker and from her-- she and I were texting as she could. At about 4am, the social worker was switching with another one whom we hadn't met.  She came in to meet us that morning, and kept us updated.  She would go from the birthmother's room to ours.

The day seemed to drag on and on.  Texts were flying... also between my contact and I. She was stuck at work and wanted desperately to be there.  She had befriended our birthmother, and had discussed being in the delivery room with her. We had the discussion of us being in the delivery room and the birthmother was back and forth.  We were okay with whatever made her comfortable.  She finally decided that she would rather us not be there and we were fine with that--  I was actually a little nervous about seeing what I would be going through in six months!

At one point, the social worker texted to meet her in the hall and  I panicked. She was very careful to ask us if we knew that this baby was biracial.  We said, "Yes!"  She let out a sigh of relief.  She and the other social worker had not discussed that, and she found out as she and our birthmother were talking.  She was afraid that we didn't know. We laughed!!!  Whew! She had me scared for a minute. 

It was getting into early evening and she was beginning to progress. The day had been so slow, only interrupted by texts with my family at home and Nick's family back at home, his parents at the hotel, and the birthmother.

I tried to nap on the labor and delivery bed as much as possible, but it was a lost cause.  One of the funniest things that happened was my discovery of my incredible pregnancy olfactory powers.  I was sitting on the bed when all of a sudden it smelled like someone was baking brownies.  I asked Nick repeatedly, "Are you sure that they are not baking brownies down the hall?" I know that sounds dumb, but it smelled like I was in a test kitchen!  He finally pointed to the tray table right next to me.  On a tiny plate sat a tiny chocolate cookie.  Unbelievable.

Nick called his parents to come out to the hospital with our daughter. Our contact was on her way, hoping to make it in time for the delivery. We had the television on trying to pass the time, when we started seeing all of these weather warnings on the news.  Not for there, but for our home state of Alabama. They were talking about serious storms and tornadoes going right through our hometown. We stood there in awe watching the live feeds of our home state.  Then the social worker popped in wearing a blue gown and said, "Are you ready to meet your baby boy?"

"He's here?!?!?" I asked.

"Yes, come on."

She led us down the hallway.

We had on our gowns and were looking for him when we finally saw him.  A nurse was wiping him off inside the nursery. We could see him squirming and crying, but had to wait until they would allow us in. Another nurse came out and said, "They won't have a problem circumcising him!"

Um... okay?

They finally let us in and there he was!  Our son.  He hadn't had a bath, but I didn't care-- I only wanted to hold him. We had to let them get his apgar scores, but finally, we held him. We were the only ones in the nursery. It was so incredible.  I didn't think that it could compare to the feelings that I had when I saw my daughter for the first time-- but it did.

Then we saw Nick's parents and our daughter walk by. We knocked on the window and they all smiled. I have a picture of my daughter seeing him for the first time. 


The nurse gave him a bath and we were finally allowed to take him to our room.  Our contact had, in fact, made it for the delivery.  She was in the room waiting for us.  Everyone held and loved on this sweet little man.  It was amazing.

I tried to send pictures to all of our families at home, but no one got them.  We had no idea of the devastation that was going on there.  Everyone's cell service and home phone service was down.  It was mass chaos. It was April 27th, 2011--a day now known as the day of devastation.

We finally did hear that our families were all okay, but the storms had wreaked havoc on the state. We tried to put that out of our minds, although it stung a little not to be able to share the joy with them.

The social worker then came to us to ask if our birthmother's mother and daughter could come see the baby. We were fine with that as long as the birthmother was-- it was another awkward, yet comfortable moment. We sent the gifts back to our birthmother, although they could never express the gratitude that we felt. 

How do you thank someone for giving you a child?

The social worker did tell us that our birthmother commented that no one had ever given her flowers...

The next few days were a blur. Little man had a rough start, as he had trouble keeping formula down. We finally moved to soy milk, which he kept down a little better, but he pooed with every diaper.  We stayed in the hospital an extra day to make sure that he was okay. The pediatrician was nice, but I felt like he wasn't listening to me. It was like being in an alternate universe for a few days... nothing comfortable. 

We were finally discharged and we headed "home"-- to the hotel.  We had gotten moved to a suite, thank you Jesus, so living there with a newborn would be more bearable.  The first few nights were exhausting.  The soy milk didn't keep him full, so he was up every hour. Nick's mom and dad went back home to check on their house, and took our daughter with them. She was really tired of being cooped up in a hotel room! We were hoping that we wouldn't be there much longer. 

Let's just say that we became quite familiar with everything in those three towns!  The towns formed a triangle, each being about 30 minutes apart. Our hotel was in the same town as the agency and the Walmart. The hospital was in a town that we dubbed "Mayberry" to the north.  The third little town housed the office of our attorney, the courthouse, and our contact's home.

By this point, we had been away from home for a little over a week, which equals 21+ meals eaten out. My little pregnancy tummy was not feeling too great. 

We had to take our son back to "Mayberry" for his check up a few days after his birth.  We walked into a teeny tiny doctors office in a small strip mall.  We talked to the doctor, who didn't seem concerned about his tummy issues, and to get his heel pricked again to check his bili levels. They hadn't been good when we left the hospital. But the doctor didn't have a lab, so we had to go back to the hospital.  As we were leaving, we were paying our copay, and we had to pay by cash or check. They didn't have a credit card machine. We thought that was odd, but when we got our statement, we realized then that the total bill had only been $5 more than our copay!

We got to the hospital and had to sign in and wait in order of the people that came.  It was a tiny little nightmare. But it was the first time that we heard the comment that our son had hair just like my husband's. We thought that was so funny since my husband is white and our son is biracial-- we had no clue that it would become a common theme. 

We FINALLY got to go back to a little room where they pricked Little Man's heel,  I was comforting him and the nurse kept squeezing and squeezing...she couldn't get it to bleed.  I suddenly felt light headed.  I had to sit down and get a sprite.  I believe that it was attributed to my pregnancy, but of course we hadn't broad casted the fact that I was pregnant, so I looked like a wimp.  But we finally got that done and his levels were closer to normal, so we hoped that we were done with everything in 'Mayberry'.

The next task was the courthouse...

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Things My Grandfather Taught Me

My grandfather was a Commander in the Navy.  He was always stern and strict, but started to mellow in his old age. He was quirky and hilarious, to me-- although everyone didn't share that sentiment about him. He had a strong personality, so people usually reacted to him strongly-- one way or another.

He always had a witty saying on the tip of his tongue and his favorites left his mouth quite often. 

He was a big believer in family and what I mean by that, is BIG families. He had six children and "always wished that they had had one more."(Bless my grandmother's heart) I would sometimes ask him why they didn't adopt, as his parents had fostered many children. He would get a stern look and state that he would not adopt because the child would not be "blood."  I'd laugh and know in my heart that his thoughts were common to his generation.

The day that I got engaged, he began probing about great-grandchildren... and he was relentless! He didn't know of our infertility struggle and I tried to keep it that way. I'd laugh and move on every time he asked me when I was going to make him a great-grandfather. I knew he was just excited about it, and was very much looking forward to his family expanding.

One of his favorite sayings was,"There is nothing in the world like your child coming over to you and wrapping their arms around you and calling you, 'Daddy'." He would almost always get teary eyed when he said that.  These were in his later years, when he was starting to get dementia and very emotional. 

I've thought about him many times, but especially when my children did just that-- today was one of those days. As we were singing Your Love Never Fails in church this morning, I was holding my three-year-old daughter and she wrapped her arms around my neck and put her head on my shoulder. Grandfather was right... there is nothing like it. 

She wrapped her arms around me as we repeated the phrase:
You(God) make all things work together for my good.

I felt precisely that way and I thanked Him for it. I thanked Him for my children.

My grandfather lived into his early 90s. I am so thankful that I spent as much time with him as possible.  I look back fondly on the memories, though some of them, at the time, were not so fun. He did get to see our daughter not long after she was born, but sadly, he was pretty far into his dementia at that point.  But I like to think that he is looking down from Heaven watching all of us, and I hope that I would make him proud.

Although I am sure that he would have some advice to give on my parenting!

As I said before, he had quite a few "sayings,"  I will leave you with some of them as I sit here and smile. Hopefully you will find some humor in them too-- incidentally, they usually did impart some wisdom.

"The two main things that couples fight about are money and sex." (I told you that he was wise ;))

"You can hug and you can squeeze, but keep your hands below the knees."

"The wedding before the bedding."

"Don't bring shame on the name."

" A marriage is made after you say I do."

"Opinions are like noses, everyone has one." -- Commander Matthews

*Song-Your Love Never Fails by Newsboys*

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Ride Out the Storm!

We took our oldest two children to the circus this past weekend. The excitement in the air was magical, and as the show started, I couldn't pull my eyes away from the faces of my children.

 I was missing the 'Greatest Show on Earth', and I couldn't even watch it--because I was watching something better. 

The look on my kids' faces was amazement, wonder, awe, joy!  It made me so happy to see the twinkle of joy reflecting in their eyes.  I know that the people around me thought that I was a crazy woman because the show was in the center of the ring, and I kept taking pictures of my childrens' faces. But I never wanted to forget those looks of joy. 

Then I wondered, 'Is this how God feels about us when he sees our joy?' I think so.  I believe that he cannot pull his eyes away because our joy makes him so happy. 

I believe that when His plan for a family for us came together, he smiled and thought, 'I told you that I had this.' I believe that when the tears of joy fell down my face as they rolled my daughter in to meet us, tears flowed down his cheeks too. 

I am sure that He couldn't help but chuckle when he saw the look on my face when I got a positive pregnancy test--because I also think that he has a sense of humor.  We ARE made in His image. 

But I also believe that he feels the hurt along with us.  I think that He was with me for every disappointment on our journey, with arms outstretched and pain in his heart. 

I know this because when my children are upset or hurting, I want to grab them up and snuggle them into my chest to let them know that it is going to be okay.  Because mommy has this.  She will do everything in her power and more to see that they are happy and healthy.  If I feel that way about my children, how much more does he feel that way about them...and about me?


It is hard to even imagine.  He does not want us to go through hard times, just like we don't want that for our children.  But we know that those lessons usually turn out for the better and build character for them--just as they do for us.  I know that it is hard to remember this when we are walking through that storm, because as humans, we cannot see the 'big picture'.  And some storms are almost unbearable.  But just remember that the storm won't last forever--the sun is right around the corner!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Our Rollercoaster Ride: Part 3

(Read Part 1 & Part 2)
We thought that our rollercoaster ride was over and it was-- for a while. We had an AMAZING year with our daughter.  She was our complete focus every single day. I'm sure that I was a bit overprotective, but I suppose that is expected with your first. Especially as hard as we had worked for her!

As her first birthday approached, I started an approach, too.  I began working on my husband for our second child.  I know that sounds crazy-- but with adoption, you don't know how long it may take. It's not like it is for some families, in that they decide to "go for another one," and a month or two later they are pregnant. We could update our homestudy and get back on the list with our agency once our daughter turned one-- and that's what I intended to do. 

My husband was a little hesitant. "Let's wait a while," was his response.

I was not game, "It could take two years or more! I don't want them to be too far apart."

I finally convinced him and a few months after her birthday, (which happened to be completely over the top) we were updating our homestudy. A homestudy expires after a year, so you have to go through all of the paperwork and home visits again. We finished that around the summer/fall of 2010 and we were on the list again.

I'm sure that our social worker was so thankful that this was our second child, because I didn't have quite so much time to call her to ask for birthmother updates! My nephew was also born in the fall, so that took some of my attention as well. Christmas came and went, and at the beginning of 2011, we got a phone call. 

*A Little Backstory*
Nick's parents had some long-time friends who had a daughter not much older than us.  She and her family had moved back to her husband's hometown in Illinois. She and I had met a few times because she would visit Nick's parents when she came home and she had 4 boys fairly close in age.  So we were acquaintances, but had not had much time to become close.

SO-- we get a phone call at home and I answer, and it's her.  She explains that she knows of a birthmother that may want to give her baby up for adoption, and asks if we are interested. 


She explained that she was in a Bible study with a lady that owned a store, and this birthmother worked there.  The lady had asked for prayer for her employee, as she needed direction as to what to do.  She instantly thought of us, but wanted to see if we were interested.


I am going to tell you right now that I would never have guessed the ways in which our babies came to us.  It is completely and totally the work of God's hand.  It is too crazy to be anything else.

I told her that we were absolutely interested and she confessed that she didn't know the next step. I told her that I would email her our profile and to see if she would get it to the birthmother.  If the birthmother was interested, we would go from there. This began a crazy time of texts and phone calls.  Information came fourth hand-- all correspondance would go from me to her to the lady in her Bible study, to the birthmother... and then in reverse.

The birthmother finally got our profile and wasn't sure what to do-- she had been talking to an agency in California, but didn't feel good about it.  Then she was questioning going with us because her parents told her that the South was racist, and her baby boy was biracial.

My heart sank.

What can I do to assure her that it is not that way?  We spent a lot of time praying and hoping, all the while knowing that it could fall through.  Finally, I heard that she thought that she wanted to go with us, and could she call me?


I will never forget that phone call.  "Are you interested in adopting my baby?"

Once again, it was awkward, yet comfortable.  She told me any details that she could, and shared that she hadn't been sure what to do, when her five-year-old daughter brought our profile book to her and said, "These are going to be the parents of the baby."

Out of the mouths of babes, right?

I found out that he was due in April, and she promised to keep me posted with doctor's visits. We contacted an attorney there and had the birthmother meet with her. The meeting went well, so we were on our way. The birthfather was known, but not well.  Since we couldn't contact him to terminate his birth rights, we would have to run an ad in the paper for a week after the birth to see if he came forward. 

I was texting with the birthmother every other day or so to check in on her, and now we were just planning, hoping, praying, and waiting.

It was a Saturday in February, and our daughter was spending the weekend with her grandparents. It was a normal day, when all of a sudden it hit me that I hadn't had a period in a while. After years of intense tracking, I kept up with it loosely, but we hadn't been on birth control in almost eight years. And for six of those years we had been actively trying to get pregnant.

I looked at my chart and realized that I was a week late but didn't think much of it. I remember rinsing dishes in the sink as Nick was leaving to do some Saturday work at the office.  I said casually, "I'm a week late."

He kept walking, "Call me back when you are two weeks late."

It was that nonchalant.

And that was that-- I went on about my day, running errands and having some "me" time.  I bought a cheap pregnancy test at Big Lots, just to get it over with-- I mean, I knew I wasn't pregnant, and I wasn't about to spend a lot of money on a test. I just wanted to get the test, get the negative sign, and move on with life. 

I finished my errands and came home.  I cleaned the house a little bit, and then remembered the test.  I took it and went on about my cleaning. I ran back into the bathroom and glanced at the test and "CHIT!" as my friend Robin says.

It had two lines. 

I quickly opened another one and took it.

Two lines.

I cannot even tell you what went through my mind at this point because it was blank. I was in a complete state of shock.  I crawled in the bed and turned on the television, and that's where I was when Nick got home. 

He came back to the bedroom and snidely remarked, "Looks like you did a lot today..."

"I'm pregnant."

*blank stare* "No, you're not."

"Yes, I am."

"How do you know?"

"I took a test."

"Where did you get it?"

Now was not the time to tell him that I had purchased it at Big Lots.

"Does it matter?" I asked.

*Husband exits stage left*

 I found him in the living room blankly staring at the television. I grabbed my keys, walked out the door, and headed to Starbucks. I returned home, brought our coffee in and set it on the table next to him and asked, "Are you ready to talk now?"

It took a while for this to sink in-- for both of us. I made an appointment with the doctor. We told our immediate families-- and I finally got the "surprise factor" that I had wanted! We asked them to keep things quiet for a while, as we had a lot on our plate, and we had no idea what we would find out at the doctor. We went to the doctor and I remember saying, "Please tell me that there is only one heartbeat." I had always wanted twins, but now the thought made me a tad nauseous.

And there it was... one little teeny tiny heartbeat.  I cannot even begin to tell you all of the emotions that flooded over me: excitement, anxiety, love, fear, amazement, uncertainty. All at once.

We met with the doctor and she said that we would follow the pregnancy as normal until about 18 weeks, where we would start a weekly progesterone shot to relax my uterus to hopefully prevent early labor.  Now we had a plan... sort of.

I looked at Nick and asked, "What are we going to do now?"

"I guess we're going to have two babies."

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Don't Let the Big Bad Wolf Get You Down

We were running errands a few days ago when we passed an area of land that was being excavated. We pass this area daily and comment on the tractors, dump trucks, etc. (My husband would look at me with disdain regarding my generic term of tractor for all of the equipment, but I digress.)

On this particular day, my three-year-old daughter asked, "Mommy, what are they building?"

"I'm not sure... maybe a house?" I offered.

"For somebody that does not have one?" She questioned.

"I'm not sure," I responded. "It may be for someone that needs to move into a new house."

She shot back, "Because the big bad wolf blew their house down so they are building this one with bricks?"


I couldn't help but laugh--she never ceases to amaze me with the things that she says!

As I thought about her observation,  Luke 6:46-49 came to mind. This parable is so similar to the story of the three little pigs.

'So why do you call me 'Lord,' when you won't obey me? I will show you what it's like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then obeys me. It is like a person who builds a house on a strong foundation laid upon the underlying rock. When the floodwater's rise and break against the house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who listens and doesn't obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will crumble into a heap of ruins.'

This reminds me that just because we believe in God, it does not mean that we won't have floods and strong winds. We will have trials come our way. The key is to have that foundation of a relationship with God so that he can bring you through it. If we listen to Him, He will show us the way--not in our time, but His.  And I know that His plan is certainly better than mine!

Isn't it incredible how children can speak to us? How they can be so simply profound?

No Condemnation

Obviously, I feel strongly about adoption because two pieces of my heart were brought to me that way.  But I still have compassion for women who make a choice to not carry out their pregnancy. I know what it is like to be in a place where you feel hopeless and trapped-- I felt that way during infertility. I became a person I didn't even recognize. Being in a situation where you feel you have no control-- your life is turned completely upside down. I have deep compassion for anyone struggling with disappointment, hurt, despair, and fear. But I also know that God can bring good things out of seemingly bad ones.  He can turn our lives right side up again.

I can tell you that there are no greater angels than my children's birthmothers.

That being said, I wish that everyone faced with pregnancy would carry it out. But I realize that there are circumstances and situations beyond everyone's control. I found some interesting statistics regarding adoption and abortion.

The first is the number of infertile women in the US:
Number of married women ages 15-44 that are infertile (unable to get pregnant for at least 12 consecutive months): 1.5 million (CDC)

The next is the number of abortions in the US:

The Alan Guttmacher Institute (a special affiliate to Planned Parenthood), which actively collects the abortion data directly from providers. All numbers reported are voluntary; there are no laws requiring abortionists to report to any national agency the numbers of abortions they perform. 2009-2011 are estimates of 1,212,400 annually.

This is crazy to me!  1.5 million infertile women and 1.2 million abortions.

In a perfect world, these would match up. The women wanting a baby could meet the mothers unable to take care of one. But we don't live in Utopia. I realize that every infertile woman cannot find it in her to adopt a child that is not of her womb. And I realize that every woman who becomes pregnant cannot carry out that pregnancy.

But it's such a beautiful thing when those infertile women come together with the women who are unable to keep their child! I hope it happens more and more.

If you know of anyone considering adopting, or giving their child up for adoption, I would be glad to help in any way that I can!

Remember, God has this.

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:1-2

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Our Rollercoaster Ride: Part 2-Instant Parents

(Read Part 1)

We set up a meeting with the potential birthmother around the 1st of May. We met with her armed with a list of questions and our profile for her to review. It was awkward, yet comfortable. She discussed her reasons for giving the baby to a nice family and we told her our story. We left the meeting with excitement, anticipation, and anxiety. She was going to try to get in to see a doctor, as she had not seen one during the entire pregnancy. She believed that she was due in June. We asked her to keep us posted on the progress. 

In the meantime, we met with our social worker to find out what we needed to do legally, in case this worked out. There were a lot of things 'to do' that kept me busy the next few days. The birthmother got a doctors appointment, and then it got cancelled. She had to go through Medicaid. She finally got another appointment in the middle of May. Her sister-in-law was going to call me and tell me how it went.  The hours went by so slowly, I sat by the phone all day.

Finally! The phone rang. I was told that the appointment went well, and that she was 5 centimeters dilated.


They couldn't tell the sex of the baby because it was so large, but she was being admitted and put on monitors.  Her last labor had only lasted 2 hours... she would call me.

My heart went into overdrive. I asked her if we should head that way because we had never "sealed the deal." I didn't know if she wanted us to be the parents or not.  "I think that you should," she said.
It seemed surreal. Was this really happening?!

I flew to Nick's work and asked him to meet me outside. I asked him if he was ready to be a dad.  He blew me off and asked me what the doctor said. When I told him that she was 5 cm dilated, his eyes were as big as saucers-- I have video to prove it.

I went back home and threw some things in a bag. He followed and we loaded up the dogs and headed on our way-a 2 hour destination. On the way, we talked about names and only came up with a girl one. We also called close friends and family to tell them what was happening.

"Should we head that way?" Everyone asked, we didn't know.

We called the social worker again to make sure that we handled everything correctly and we called the lawyer that we had only spoken to a few times and told him that we needed paperwork STAT!
We met Nick's parents so they could take the dogs and off we went to the lawyers office.

When we were waiting on the necessary paperwork, I got a text that our birthmother's water had broken. 

"We need to go NOW," I pressed.

I was NOT going to miss this! We grabbed the papers and headed to the hospital. It took some time to get in, as this was a unique situation, but we were finally admitted back. The nurse that was working happened to be a high school friend of nicks and a sorority sister of mine. She took us to the birthmother's room.

Her first question was, "Do you still want the baby?" She was afraid that we wouldn't because it had happened so soon. We answered with an emphatic, "Yes!" She wanted to make sure that the paperwork was handled and we assured her that it was.

We were then taken to a room next door. This room had belonged to a mother that had to be moved to ICU, but they could not put another mom in it because she was still being monitored from there. So we got a large room instead of staying in the lobby. What a little blessing from God! The nurse showed us another monitor which was hooked up to our birthmother and told us how to read it and how to know when the baby had been born. 

At this point, the only other people there were Nick's parents.  We were all pacing the floor, when suddenly I saw the monitor and called Nick over, "I think the baby was just born!" We ushered Nicks mom and dad out the door, as the nurse promised to bring the baby straight to us. We will never forget what the back of that hospital room door looked like. 

Then it opened...and in came the nurse pushing a cart with a baby in it-- OUR BABY!

"Do you want to know what she is? Oops!" She said,  "A GIRL!!!"

After that it was complete madness.  We had a 9lb healthy baby girl.  People came and went all night.  We were ecstatic, so happy that even sleeping on a labor and delivery bed could not wipe the smiles off of our faces. This sweet angel had come to us only 2 days before Nick's birthday.
It was indescribable. We did still have 5 days that the birthmother or birthfather could change their minds, but we tried to put that out of our heads-- we just focused on our daughters sweet chunky face!

We didn't have anything for her. Nick had to leave the hospital to purchase a car seat. The nurse told us that we could put our own clothes on her if we wanted, and I felt like the worst mom ever. We went shopping to get her some clothes. That poor baby wore the hospital t-shirt for the entire first day of her life. 

This was an experience that we will never forget.  It seems like yesterday. I know that God brought us our daughter, because she is a piece of me. We left the hospital and had birthday cake for the two loves of my life. It was such a whirlwind, and so incredibly amazing. 

And that is how we became instant parents... just add water!

I try to include all important details in our story, but quite frankly, that would take days to type.  So please don't hesitate to send questions my way!  And stay tuned for the next chapter of our story.

Believe it or not, God had many more surprises in store!

(Read Part 3!)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Building blocks of life

I sometimes get frustrated with the toys scattered and the madness in my house. At my house, these are among the worst toys to step on-- the little teeth on these blocks seem to grab the arch of your foot and bite, and it hurts!

I can't help but think of a time, though, not too far back, when I longed for kids who would leave their toys lying around. The pain, much like stepping barefoot on a block, was so deep and intense, that it brought about anger. It was so disheartening to see so many attain pregnancy so easily, when I couldn't.  Something that was supposed to be so beautiful and so natural had turned into medical tests and calendar checks.  It was so easy to get angry when I would see a young pregnant girl smoking in a parking lot.  So many people had the most precious thing in the world, and they took it for granted.

What I didn't know was that in a few years that felt like a lifetime, that pain would be as short lived as stepping on a block. During that time, I felt as if I would never have children-- the hurt was so real and all consuming that I sometimes felt completely smothered. Days and months felt like an eternity.

But in hindsight, it was not that much time. But that is what hindsight tends to do....minimize things. I am not disputing that 6-7 years is not a long is. And when I was in it, it seemed like forever. But what a difference a few years makes.

As I sit here now with kids crawling all over me, feeling as much like an opossum as humanly possible, I can hardly remember what it was like to not have them. Now that I have 3 kids, 3 and under, I don't have much time to, um... well... to do anything, to be honest!

But every once in a while I remember the pain and the hopelessness, and I look around and thank God for my three little blessings. His timing is completely perfect. And His ways are too. There is no way that we could have orchestrated the time and ways that our children came to us.

I want to encourage anyone going through infertility-- I know firsthand that it seems like a big black hole. But your children are out there. They may come to you differently than you expected, but they will come! And please remember that in a lifetime of 80-90 years, this time you spend waiting will seem like the blink of an eye once you have your child in your arms-- however God chooses to get them there.

Be encouraged!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Our Rollercoaster Ride:Part 1

Nick and I met in 1998, got engaged in 2000, and married in 2001. We enjoyed a few years together before we (and by "we," I mean "me") decided that it was time to start a family. We began trying-- not telling anyone because we wanted it to be a BIG surprise when we told everyone that we were expecting. 

After 6 months to a year of no success, I talked to my doctor. She suggested doing a progesterone check and an ultrasound of my uterus. I've always had "white coat syndrome," so I was thrilled about extra sticks... but we pressed on. 

My progesterone was fine, but I can remember the ultrasound tech taking a lot of pictures. I asked her if everything looked okay, and she assured me that the doctor would talk to me about it. 


When I met with my doctor, she told me that it looked like my uterus was heart shaped. She assured me that they could sometimes be repaired and to not worry. She referred me to a fertility specialist to investigate it further. 

Once we got in with the specialist and went through mountains of paperwork, we had a consultation.  The specialist suggested that we do an HSG that day, which would tell us if my uterus was septate or bicornuate. 

It was a whirlwind-- those specialists don't play around!

After the HSG, they concurred that my uterus was probably septate-- meaning that it could be fixed, but they would have to do a surgery to make sure and to then fix it.  The doctor told me to use birth control and to absolutely not get pregnant because she didn't think that I could carry a baby. 
My 'heart shape' was very severe-- more like two bunny ears. 

This was at the end of 2006, so we planned the surgery for the beginning of the next year. During the holidays we told our families that we were having the surgery to repair my uterus, that it was not a big deal, so that "when we decided to have children," it would be out of the way. I was still hoping to one day be able to surprise them.

I was a nervous wreck about the surgery, but the day came and I  vaguely remember being in recovery.  My first vivid memory was waking up and asking Nick if they fixed it. I knew from his face that the answer was no. My uterus was bicornuate-- it couldn't be fixed.

It took a few days for that to sink in. We had a follow up a week later and we discussed our options. The doctor suggested adoption or surrogacy. No further fertility treatments.

She did refer me to a high risk OB for a consultation. It took me 3 months just to get in to see her, and even then, we didn't see the doctor.  We saw her fellow. We asked questions and essentially she could only tell us that we had a 50/50 chance of carrying full term. 

I left feeling completely conflicted. I researched online like a crazy woman but there were no answers.
No one could give me an answer, because no one knew how a pregnancy would play out for me.

We talked with the fertility doctor again and she got us an appointment to see the actual high risk doctor. We met with her and she didn't see any problems with moving ahead with fertility.  She had delivered sextuplets, so this was no biggie to her. But the two doctors were giving me completely different opinions which sent me into a tailspin. 

I was so confused. We went back and forth and back and forth... it was excruciating. We actually had an appointment with the fertility specialist to follow up after seeing the high risk OB and we were going to move ahead with an IUI that day, but I couldn't do it. It just didn't feel right. 

I felt like I was having a nervous breakdown-- this is when the soul searching began. We prayed for direction-- all the time seeing friends and family adding to their families daily.  The whole world seemed to be pregnant or holding a newborn. It was a painful stab in my heart every time I saw them because I was reminded of what we didn't have. 

Of course I was glad for them, but I was so sad for us. I felt so insufficient. 

We took a break from everything and prayed, cried, grieved, and healed.  One of my favorite verses that got me through this time was Psalm 139:13-16:

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

This reminded me that God made me exactly how I was supposed to be: I was not broken. I was perfect. We eventually began to have some clarity and began to come together on which road we should take. 

This is where the previous post takes place at Costco. We conceived our daughter there (click that last link so you don't get the wrong idea.) We finally felt that we had direction. We started doing research. 

In the fall of 2008, I sent out emails to let anyone and everyone know that we felt led to adopt just in case anyone knew of a birthmother. We met with the lady from Costco again and she gave us a massive amount of useful information about how to get started. The home study was the first thing to check off of the list.  We also had a consult with an adoption lawyer to learn more about the legal issues. We met with an agency and loved the social worker! 

We decided on the agency that we met with and I started getting excited! I had goals and things to work towards... it was not just hoping each month and then facing disappointment. It was progress that I could see. Then, in March '09, the social worker called and asked if we could have our profile book ready in a week to show a birthmother. We were ecstatic! 

My sister and brother-in-law came and helped us all weekend and we got it finished. There were a few missed appointments after that and that birthmother fell through. We had a few of those instances-- adoption has ups and downs, too. But we tried to remember with each disappointment that we were closer to OUR baby.

We attended a class through our agency the next month to learn about what happened when you were actually chosen. Then, at the end of April, we were heading down to the beach for a quick getaway. On the way down, we got a phone call from Nick's brother-in-law's stepmother (I know. You probably need a diagram!)  Her boss's, brother's common-law wife was pregnant and thinking of giving the baby up.  We set up a meeting for the next Sunday... she wanted to meet us!

Click HERE to read Part 2!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Nothing like it

Adoption-- it means many things to many different people. But in my case, it defines the greatest journey and a few of the greatest accomplishments of my life. To adopt you must be wholeheartedly open to whatever may come your way and that is scary. But it forces you to have great faith-- an amazing life lesson.

I cannot imagine loving anyone or anything as much as my children.  I cannot imagine missing out on the blessing of having them in my life-- makes me a little sick to think about it. Because they are my. Entire. Life. 

I would encourage anyone thinking about adoption to research and take advantage of talking with anyone who has done it!  I can tell you that more than likely, you will be immensely blessed. It is funny because people always tell us, "Your kids are so lucky." But we always dispute that and we know that we are the lucky ones.

Many people are hesitant about adoption because there are a lot of misconceptions.  One dominant one is that the birthmother is going to come take the baby back. Fostered, I'm sure, by Lifetime movies (which I happen to partake in occasionally). But we learned through our journey that most birthmothers are not drug-addicted low-lifes, for lack of a better term. They are people in bad situations who want the best for their baby.

Nick and I have the utmost respect and admiration for our children's birthmothers, as they were so selfless in "giving up" their babies in hopes that they may have better lives. How mature is that?  Not sure that I could do it.

Many people also believe that there may only be certain types/races of babies available-- also not true.  Our two children are different races, different sexes, and both were healthy at birth.  I will say here that we did not stipulate anything as far as what we wanted in a child. 

There isn't anything wrong with doing that, we just didn't. We felt that God knew a little bit better than we did, what we needed.  And boy did He!

Another major misconception is that you have to go international to adopt. Please don't misinterpret this, we have many friends that have adopted overseas, and that is AMAZING! Our hearts were just here. There is so much of a need here in the United States-- it is unbelievable.

One of my friends, Jenny, brought up the point that maybe people don't realize the need here because we don't have physical buildings called "orphanages." But there is still great need. 

You may be hesitant about adoption, not because of misconceptions, but because of your own feelings.  Some people are embarrassed to feel the things that they feel when thinking about adoption, and they would never express them out loud-- but they are NORMAL!

For example:
Will I love this child as my own?
Will my friends/family accept this child?
Will I have issues with the birthparents? 
What will people think of me?

And to all of these I will say that it all works out above and beyond your expectations.  You may have to grow a little thicker skin, but it is so worth it!

Another friend of mine, Robin,  and I were talking, and we were discussing the fact that adoption is becoming more common.  She commented,  "God is not playing with this generation as far as taking care of the orphans and widows," referring to James 1:27.  I have to agree-- He is placing adoption on the hearts of many in our generation.  If you are one of them-- DO IT!!

This blogging thing is new to me, and it may seem a bit jumbled... but all that I can offer is my experience.  I hope that it helps others in this crazy walk. 

If you or someone that you know is considering adoption, please send me a comment! Ask me questions, use me!!!!!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Infertility: The Deep Dark Hole

I know that I haven't written our entire story yet, but I will. It may take a few posts, but I'll get there. 

I'm trying to address what is on my heart, and today that's this: 

I have 3 wonderful babies now, but there was a dark time in my life, not that long ago, where I struggled daily-- I want that to be known. I know many women are experiencing that right now. That time of the great unknown and a loss of direction, and I want to let you know that you are not alone! 

We went through a lot of doctors visits and consultations. We got to the point where I knew that I had a bicornuate uterus that could not be repaired, and we had to make a decision on what to do. My uterus is so severe that it is almost in two halves. The problem with a pregnancy is that there is not much room to grow so I would be at great risk for preterm labor, which has many issues of its own. 

I researched, read statistics and we met with doctors-- the bottom line was that no one could tell us the outcome. I could possibly carry to term, OR I might not. I couldn't take any fertility drugs because of the risk of multiples-- there was barely room for one baby!

I could do an IUI, hope for just one baby and a full term pregnancy. Some doctors said, "Go for it!" Some said, "no way!"It was the most conflicted I had ever felt in my life.  I had no peace with moving ahead with fertility because if I had a child preterm that had serious issues, I would feel guilty forever. 

I prayed, pleaded, cried, reasoned... but no one could tell me what to do. It was undoubtedly the darkest time of my life. I felt I would never get out of it and never feel like myself again.

People throw around the word "infertility" like it's not a big deal-- but it deals with the physical, emotional, spiritual--every aspect of who you are. It's so hard to comprehend, especially for Type A personalities, because we always find a way to fix things or make them work.  But this couldn't be fixed. 

I finally realized that I had to get back to me-- I had to grieve the fact that I might not have a biological child.  It was a lot of work, but through support and prayers, I did.  I believe that God did a lot of work in me during that time. My husband and I had been praying for direction, and I had been wearing out the keys on my keyboard with all of the research into adoption, surrogacy, and bicornuate uteri-- is that a word? 

In the midst of this turmoil our daughter was conceived at Costco-- yes, you read that right. 

My husband and I went to Costco and he headed to the tire section.  I went and sat at the food tables, as I had zero desire to compare tire treads. I sat down and noticed a lady with a young baby. She was white, and he was African American.

I struck up a conversation with her, and lo and behold, she had adopted him from birth. We talked and talked and when Nick came back, I introduced them and we all talked.  She gave us her name and number and encouraged us to call her with any questions. As we walked out of Costco, we looked at each other and knew that God had just spoken and our first born had just been conceived at Costco.

It was such a relief to just know what we were supposed to do! Such a sense of peace. We did actually meet with her to get more direction on adoption.  People that had been through adoption became our best resource. It wasn't long after that when we actually became parents to our daughter through adoption.

I'll get back to our story later, but my hope for this post is to let women know that infertility and the process that some of us go through to have a family is not fair!  But I can assure you--  you will come out of the rain. And you will be stronger, wiser and so very thankful for the tiny blessing(s) that you recieve. 
I am absolutely 100% in favor of adoption because two pieces of my heart came to me that way. I don't think that it's for everyone and I realize that everyone has their own journey. 

I hope to help support moms to be, no matter how they create their family!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Through the eyes of children...

It is always very entertaining to me to hear comments from people when they see me enter an establishment with my troops. I realize that it's hard not to stare, as I have 3 kids-- 3 and under.

But the things that people actually say, OUT LOUD, to me-- never ceases to amaze me. 
I have been asked if I am a nanny, or in the childcare profession. I am constantly asked, "Are they all yours?"

I'm sure that the best is yet to come, but I don't think that I would get quite so many comments if my children all looked like me. But they don't. 

My son has dark hair and dark eyes. Much different than my pale skinned, blonde haired, blue eyed self.  But the interesting thing to me is that I don't physically see that-- to me, he is just my baby, my son. I envy his beautiful skin tone! 

Of course I know that he looks different, but I love him.  Period. Period.

That's it... him.

I don't think he sees the difference either, yet. I know that a day will come when he will realize that he does not look like mommy and daddy.  But for now, I am just enjoying my little family at a time when none of them see a difference. 

Wouldn't it be amazing if we could all just see each other for who we are and not our outer shells? If we could see each other as God sees us. I don't think that God says, "Oh yeah, that's Amy... one of my white children."

As much as I would love for society to see everyone as the same, I know that's not reality. Fortunately, I see it as quite humorous most of the time.  It is entertaining to come home to my husband and tell him what the 'comment of the day was. :)

I love that our 'little' family is different! 

For your entertainment-Some of my favorite received comments:
He doesnt live with you does he?
Are you in the childcare business?
How far apart are they? Me: 6 months  (I love watching them do the math!)
Are they all yours? Me: Yes. Them: Really??? Me: Yes.
How did you do that?

Some of my favorite thought but not said comments:
 Man... she must get around.
Wonder what her husband looks like?
How do you have a set of twins that look so different?

Matthew 18:2-5

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Let's go on this ride called LIFE together!

I have felt led to create a blog about adoption for a while, but I've pushed it aside. 

But here I am. 

I named this blog,  "Adopted... Accepted," because they are one in the same.

Adoption here on Earth is the same as our adoption as God's children. He adopts us-- he accepts us.  And I am beginning to know how He feels as a Father, because I am a mother. 

The journey has been long and it has had some crazy ups and downs-- which I am sure that I will get into eventually.

But my hope for this blog is that it will be a tool for people that need to relate or connect to others who are riding on that same rollercoaster.

I would also love for it to be an educational tool for families don't feel called to adoption. Because sometimes it is hard to know how to act, or what to say.

Believe me-- I can tell you some stories of what NOT to say:). 

But I have some amazing stories as hop on!  Let's go on this ride called LIFE together!