Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Tonight our class was all about birthmoms and what the adoption experience is like from their side. I cried multiple times throughout the class and my heart was just aching for these women the whole time. We watched a video with interviews of birthparents and then a birthmom came in and spoke in the class. Ryan asked me on our drive home what I was thinking and I just burst into tears. But let me back up and start from the beginning of this part of the story.

When we were first considering working with the agency we chose we found out that they preferably do open adoptions. Open adoption means that the adopted child and the birthparent(s) have the opportunity to form an ongoing face to face relationship. This is opposed to a closed adoption where the adopted child may know some identifying information about their birthparent(s) but does not meet them face to face or have any communication with them (unless they choose to search for them later in life). To clarify, open adoption does not mean co-parenting. Legally the adoptive parents are the absolute "real" parents and the birthparents can never interfere with that or change that status in any way. Open adoption encourages occasional visits throughout the year and fosters a mutually beneficial, trusting and honest environment for the adopted child to grow up in. Research has proven that this is the healthiest approach to adoption for the adopted child and the birth family. It doesn't always work out perfectly, but it is the preferred path for adoption.

Now, when I first learned about that my first thought was "No way is there gonna be another set of parents to deal with! This is gonna be MY baby and I don't want to share them with anyone else!" I thought the birthmom should move on with her life and I didn't want her interfering with how we were going to raise OUR child. I imagined having these incredibly insecure and competitive feelings around the birthmom. We'd tell our kids all about their adoption story when they were old enough to understand and that would be just fine. Oh man I had so much to learn!

For some reason God made me open enough to the concept to at least move forward with this agency. Ah I'm so glad he did! And I'm so thankful that he's in the business of graciously and tenderly changing hearts!

I went from feeling very put-off by the idea and not wanting anything to do with the birthmom, to now tonight crying mournful tears for her and feeling such heartache over what she will be going through. I now feel like the absolute best case scenario would be an open adoption. For the sake of our baby, I pray God grants us that. I want our child to have that connection, to feel those binding ties, to see the noses and eyes and freckles that are in their DNA and all over their face. It's an ideal for sure, but it's one we and our agency thinks is worth striving for. (However, all types of situations can present themselves and we may end up with no choice in the matter in the end if a birthmom has already made up her mind that she wants a closed adoption, or if we receive a safe-haven baby whose mother is not identified at all.)

I'm sure I'll write more about open adoption as things continue. What I really intended to write about tonight though was birthmoms. Once I say the word most of us probably come up with a stereotypical picture of a girl who is "giving her baby up". We may envision all birthmoms as 16 years old, carelessly sleeping with their boyfriend, doing drugs, not getting any prenatal care, in denial of her pregnancy and just waiting for the day she can give her baby away. This can be the case sometimes, yes. But I'm learning more and more about the great variety of situations that birthmoms come from and that the majority of them have their heart invested in their baby and are choosing adoption because of love. Our teacher tonight even said that adoption is always a choice of love. And the more I learn about where the birthmom is coming from, I really believe that. Even from what can appear to be the very worst of situations, that woman decided above all to choose life for her baby and beyond that to choose a bright and hopeful future for that baby by planning for adoption. She may not have been able to provide anything else at all, but those two decisions made the absolute difference.

The other part that grips my heart and reaches down to the core of my own loss and grief is what the birthmom goes through as she places her child with the adoptive family and says goodbye to being their mother forever. In the hospital she has only a couple precious days to say both "hello" and then "goodbye" to the baby that's been part of her for every second of every day for the past nine months. She will leave the hospital with an empty womb and empty arms. It is an experience super charged with both inexplicable joy and also immense sadness and loss as the adoptive family embraces their so-longed-for baby, the baby leaves the only mother they've ever known and the birthmother realizes that she's made the best decision, even as her heart is breaking.

So many emotions for everyone involved- joy and loss for everyone involved. It's hard to explain how it is all interwoven, but my heart is starting to connect to that part of this process. We've waited so long to receive our baby, what on earth would we possibly feel sad about in that moment? We're gaining a child, what loss could we be experiencing? I can't put words to it all tonight, but I'm seeing it all come together now- how there is this tapestry of loss and love and grief and wholeness that the adoptive parents, the baby and the birthmom will all experience. Maybe in very different ways, and sometimes in very similar ways.

A few weeks ago I told Ryan that somehow I felt like something in me connected to the sense of loss that the birthmom feels because of losing our baby. It's obviously a very, very different type of loss and a very different situation- and I would never want to make a comparison that in any way minimizes the great sacrifice that is involved in choosing adoption for your child. But there's this part of my heart, and it really flared up tonight, that connects to the heartrending of saying goodbye to your baby and leaving the hospital empty-armed. I know it's not the same, but maybe it's just that sense that it's not supposed to be that way. We wouldn't need to adopt other people's children and mothers wouldn't need to make adoption plans for their babies if it weren't for the dark and deadly effects of the fall that creates these situations. This wasn't how God planned for families to grow. I know he redeems it and writes beautiful stories out of it all, but this was not the original plan. There wasn't supposed to be infertility and there wasn't supposed to be people placing their children into other peoples arms. We weren't supposed to have to say goodbye to our babies.

So tonight I'm thinking about the hospital experience and all that the birthmother of our child will feel and think and say and do and I just feel very sad for very grateful, and also just sad. We don't know how much we'll get to interact with the birthmom at the hospital, if at all, but I imagine I'll be a puddle of tears most of the time- tears of joy and these tears of mourning. Oh Jesus how we'll need you!


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Slowly, slowly

We're slowly making progress! We completed class #4 of 7 last night and we've made really great progress on our paper work. Tomorrow we go get our fingerprints done and then just have a few more things to wrap up before we'll be ready to turn in our big packet. I think we'll have a little celebration once we turn that in :)

One big thing on our minds that goes along with that is that when we turn in our paperwork we also have to pay $1200 to cover the next part of the process, the homestudy. Then after we've been totally certified and our family profile is put in to their "match book" we'll pay another $1000 (that's probably in another 3 months or so). And then the big final huge amount won't be due until our baby is legally ours. So I'm beginning to pull together our plan for how we are going to fund raise to cover these costs.

I've been raising funds for missions and ministry staff positions since I was 16 years old, but fund raising is still a bit intimidating. But I'm really excited at the thought of having a whole family of supporters joining us on this journey, tracking with us through the whole experience, and really saying "Yes! We believe God is going to bring your baby home through adoption and we want to help make that happen!" It's another leap of faith, but we do believe that God will provide all the money that's needed to cover every single cost. So the invitation has now officially been made to join us in bringing baby home :)

So you'll notice the first little thing I did was to put a PayPal button up there on the top of the right sidebar. Obviously any donations made through PayPal or given directly to us will not be tax-deductible. I'm talking with my pastor about the possibility of people being able to send their donations through our church so that they could be tax-deductible. I'll update you on that once we get the details worked out.

I'm wrestling through the idea of starting a separate adoption blog/website that has simple info about our story, our adoption details (with short updates as things progress) and info on making donations- or.... just sticking with this one. Obviously this is a really personal blog, but I don't have anything to hide necessarily. But I also don't want people to feel lost in all my super long posts. What do you think?


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Class #2

Tonight we had our 2nd class as part of our adoption certification. The topic was "Infertility Grief and Loss in Adoption- Coming to terms with infertility and assessing your readiness to adopt". Oh wow.

Aaaaand- I did not know that was going to be the topic for the class.

I just breezed on in to the classroom and sat down and was feeling all excited for learning more and being in the process. Then the teacher announced the topic for the class AND that we all were going to be sharing our stories and I literally instantly got sweaty palms and my stomach flipped a little. If I had known all that ahead of time I would have been a ball of nerves all day and been dreading the whole thing. It was totally better to be blindsided by it in this situation.

The class started out with this totally bodacious clip from a mid-80's Oprah episode. Yes- Oprah in the 80's- and her hair was so awesome! (Our teacher even prefaced it by saying not to be distracted by Oprah's hair- which was a good warning because it was HUGE!) It was an episode about couples dealing with infertility and apparently there's no other resource out there like this little gem because the agency is still hanging on to it. And it was definitely on a VHS ;) Glad this wasn't my first exposure to the agency or I might question their cultural and technological savviness. Anyway, the Oprah interviews from the 80's proved that the grief, stress and loss of infertility is timeless. We all were shaking our heads in agreement and laughing at how we related to what they were saying.

Then the teacher just dove right in "Who wants to share their story first?" Gulp. One girl raised her hand and out came a story that could break your heart. Then I went (and Ryan shared some too). (But I didn't cry, despite the lump in my throat.) Then another and another until all 9 couples had spilled their heartaches, disappointments, and brokenness. The kleenex box was passed around. 8 couples who have all experienced infertility (and some who have suffered miscarriage(s)) and one couple with 2 living children who have experienced miscarriages. Grief and loss. Yes the room was full of it. Journeys of great pain had brought all of us there. There were no easy roads.

But- we already know that the stories don't end there. The stories don't end with just grief and loss. The very fact that we were sitting in that room gives away the end of at least one chapter of all of our stories. The clouds part and the sun comes blasting through and new life sprouts up and hearts are healed and hope is restored and God works his miracles and.....our babies will come! God will show us the other side of the story he has been writing. Where there has been only bareness, constant disappointment, babies lost too soon, and prayers seemingly unanswered- soon will come these little heart beats proclaiming new life from a Creator who loves and moves and sustains.

The pain and grief won't be erased, but our Comforter will come with tiny fingers reaching out for our faces in the night, soft breaths against our necks, growing feet kicking in delight and some of this anguish will be redeemed. Our children will not be our Saviors from pain, but oh how they will be the Balm of Gilead for our aching hearts. And we will cry and laugh and hold them tight against our chests and whisper in their fuzzy ears "We've been waiting for you."

It's what we're all waiting for, and this class specifically addressed some of the issues that could possibly prevent us from walking in to that beautiful day as the most healthy, whole parent we can possibly be. We need to grieve well in order to parent well, and we need to process the losses of infertility and adoption well so that we can walk in to parenthood without rose-colored glasses.

Once our agency knows that you have dealt with infertility and/or loss they assess how you are grieving, mourning and processing that. They understand grief and what infertility means, so they're not looking for you to be "over it", but to be progressing in moving through the stages of grief and when it does flare up again here and there to be processing that in a healthy way as well. So if you're exhibiting signs of pent up grief and an inability to process through those losses, they'll put you on the slow track and help you work through that to get you to a healthier place. And I really appreciate that.

The goal they say is "To help you explore the impact of infertility and move beyond it in order to have a healthy attachment and bond in adoption". We cannot fully embrace our child as ours and allow our hearts to receive this new one in to our lives if we are clinging to our ideal of our biological child. We will not fully bond with our baby and foster their attachment to us if we are holding out hope for a baby that's "really ours" one day.

While it still may be in the realm of a miracle that God could do that one day, we are not focused on overcoming infertility and trying to conceive a child of our own. We are allowing that desire to pass in order for a greater desire for the child God will place in our family through adoption to develop. We have to let that death (of a dream) occur and mourn those losses in order to fully embrace the child God will bring to us through adoption.

So- it was a really heavy night as we heard everyone's stories and were moved as we related to their experiences and mourned the suffering they've endured. But it was really healthy feeling for me too. The Lord has done so much to heal me and carry me through this process and allow my heart to be free to release those dreams and embrace His perfect plan. What grace! What patience! What beauty! Jesus you are so amazing and I love you even more!

Thanks for tracking with us :)


Thursday, June 2, 2011

"I will have sympathy as long as you have grief."

I've been following this series about infant loss/miscarriage on this blog- Women who write really well, who have the gift of using words to really impact your heart and give you a different perspective, have been sharing their stories about losing their babies. Sad- yes- but it's done in a way that reveals the small shaft of the light of hope that somehow breaks in to the saddest of circumstances. They are women who trust in Jesus and testify about his hope and his healing through their darkest times. For women like me who have lost a baby, reading these stories helps me know that I'm A) not the only one (obviously) and B) feeling things that are totally normal.

Today the series was wrapped up with this really practical post that I think is really helpful- "What to do/say when a friend experiences loss". I've had a few odd comments after my miscarriage, but mostly I can praise God that I've had really supportive and compassionate friends and family who have done many of the exact things this article talks about. It could actually be applied to many types of loss, so for that reason I think it's helpful to better equip all of us to minister more graciously to those we love.

(Molly Piper (John Piper's daughter-in-law) also wrote a great series on this on her blog here- "How to help your grieving friend" after the heartbreaking and life-wrenching stillbirth of their daughter at 39 weeks.)

May the Lord equip us to be His hands of grace and his voice of peace when the lives and hearts of those we love are shattering.