Monday, June 10, 2013

The first steps in a long process...

The first thing we did once we decided to pursue adoption was to ask other adoptive parents we knew about agencies and experiences.  We got a few different points of view but quickly settled on an agency that our close friends used to adopt their two girls.  It is a Christian agency (which we really like), and our friends had nothing but positive things to say about their experience with and preparation through this agency.  The first step for us was to go to the information meeting, so we found our way there at the beginning of May.  And let me tell you the meeting is aptly named; we were inundated with information!  Our host led us through all three types of adoption; international, relinquishment, and foster to adopt (fos adopt). 

To adopt a newborn baby through relinquishment means that you are chosen by a birth mother who is willingly giving up her baby for adoption.  And praise the Lord for this option!  I am so thankful for the women out there who have chosen not to abort their children.  Though a birth mother may not feel adequate or prepared to raise a child, she is giving some parents an opportunity to build a family.  It’s amazing!  But it also means that adoptive parents will most likely be covering all of her medical expenses…to the tune of WAY more money than Clint and I have available!  International adoption wasn’t something that Clint and I have ever talked about and didn’t feel like the Lord was leading us toward, although I greatly admire the parents that choose this rout as well!  It is time consuming, lengthy and expensive but what a need there is!   And then there is foster adoption, the rout Clint and I have chosen to take. 

At the information meeting we were reaffirmed in our initial decision to foster adopt.  It is not only the most affordable for us at this time but also the most commonly done at this particular agency.  We would very much like to add to our family through adoption, but we are not interested in being “foster parents” with children in and out of our home.  I just don’t think my heart could take that.  What we like about this agency is that they make a priority of not placing children until the parental rights of the biological parents are on track to be terminated.  It seems like such a lengthy and daunting process, yet even after knowing all that is involved we still feel pulled in this direction.  The more we learn about the foster care system the more we want to adopt from it.  Every single child in foster care is coming from a bad situation.  Every one.  Every child will have said goodbyes they didn’t want to, and been removed from an unhealthy environment and at times even taken from that situation straight to a foster home which isn’t much better.  When I think of what we have to offer a child I get so excited!  We have an instant family!  We have love and affection, encouragement and discipline, but most of all we have Jesus Christ!  I can’t wait to have the opportunity to raise a child to know and (I hope and pray) to love and serve the Lord, when they may have never been given that opportunity otherwise.

We received the application after the information meeting and it felt SO good to finally have this piece of the process in hand.  We spend the 2 hour ride home from the meeting talking through the application.  Quickly we realized that we were pretty much in line with what we feel would be a good fit for our family.  When we got to the number of children we would be willing to adopt I looked over at Clint and asked “would you ever consider adopting more than one?”  We had just seen our friends adopt sisters and though it was a huge adjustment for them, we saw the need there is to adopt siblings from foster care and the benefits of it.  He thought for just a second and answered with “yes, I think I would consider that.”  We sat silent for a moment as we both digested what had just been spoken out loud.  We may be willing to add not one but two more kids to our family of four.  Are we crazy??  As I sat and thought about it more I was overwhelmed yet surprisingly not scared.  I have been diligently covering this in prayer since we initially began talking about it. So is the Lord preparing us for an addition of 2 more?  We’ll see!

Once we were home and able to talk about the lengthy process foster adopting is, we decided to get the ball rolling as quickly as we could.  There are so many meetings, classes, visits, etc. that it could take months to complete the whole process BEFORE you even start looking for a child(ren).  Looking both at the class schedules for the closest office and Clint’s’ travel schedule we decided that we needed to make the effort to attend Class 1 asap.  On Sunday we realized that the next meeting was Thursday and our application had to be overnighted to the office the very next day.  Yikes!  SO Sunday afternoon, so much quicker than we thought, we sat down at our tiny dining room table in our tiny house and filled out a life changing application.  We were asked all the super easy questions about basic information, criminal record, history and such and filled those out quickly.  The more challenging questions were tougher to answer.; ethnicity, race, gender, number of children, disabilities we are willing to accept.  Clint and I got through it all prayerfully and Monday morning came.  The application, photos and deposit check were fitted snugly into an envelope and before I sent it off overnight I snapped a picture.  It felt like I needed to document the moment that we officially turned in our application.  We were officially on the track of adoption.

We attended Class #1 that week and felt like we were well prepared for what to expect.  The couple who hosted the class in their home talked at length about their adoption story in which they had adopted 3 boys all at once!  I was blessed to get the perspective of another family with biological children.  Having two kids already I want to make sure I am super sensitive to them and their needs, and welcome any advice I can get on making the transition smoother for them.  We talked about “adoption language” in the class, which was not something I had ever thought about (terms like “real” children vs “adopted” children, or “real” mother vs “biological” mother), and as I learned more I hoped I had never been guilty of using such insensitive terminology.  we also talked about the pros and cons of each type of adoption as well as various possible adoption scenarios.  Overall it was informative and encouraging and once again we were affirmed in our decision. 

The next step and the latest we have reached was the Intake Interview with the branch director of the agency.  After class 1 we left for vacation and two days after coming home, we had our interview!  We wanted things to move quickly and the Lord sure was working it out that way.  We sat down and really talked about ourselves, our family, our lifestyle and what we desired in the child we would like to add to our family.  We would like to keep the birth order of our biological children so we have said we will take a child of either gender under the age of 3 or a brother/sister sibling set if the ages are between 0-3.  The truth is finding such young children may take some time.  We may have to wait quite a while.  We have prayed about it and still feel confident that we always want our first and second born to keep their place in the family.  We were given an enormous amount of paperwork and told what classes and meetings we still have to complete before we even begin the home study.  We really have only just begun.

So that is where we are right now in June of 2013.  We are trying to quickly chisel away at the paperwork, articles, appointments and certifications before our next class on June 22nd.  My imagination is running wild considering all the Lord has in store for us over the next months and years.  I am excited at the prospect of growing my ministry of motherhood to include a child or children that may otherwise not be raised in a loving, connected and Christ centered home.  Ones that we can kiss on and love, ones that can have an older brother AND sister to bug them and defend them, ones who need a mom and dad to love them enough to discipline and direct them, ones who will have a church home and grow up to know that we are here to serve Christ and each other.  My heart wants to know the answer to so many questions already, but that isn't how our Savior works.  Only He knows who our future child (or children) is and what wounds they may carry before they come to our home, but I trust Him and His timing.  So my job right now is to love and minister to my children here at home and to do what is asked of me in order to bring home the rest!




Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Like any, our adoption journey has a backstory...this is ours!

I always said I would be done having kids by the time I was 30.  I’m sure when I’m nearing 40 I will laugh at myself about my need to accomplish things before I’m “30,” like it was some sort of ending point of my youth.  Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t, but regardless I’m staring down the barrel of that anticipated birthday and I see an exciting share of new beginnings for me!  I always said I would be done “having” kids before I was 30 and well….I am.  I am not going to take any more pregnancy tests, suffer through 9 long months and one more C-section to deliver a third perfectly beautiful child.  And I am totally at peace with that.  But I don’t feel like I am done having kids. 

When Clint and I were engaged, we had always talked about having three or four kids.  Of course as most couples soon realize, life gets in the way of plans.  I had a pretty easy time getting pregnant with our first and complications of pre-ecclampsia at the end resulted in a C-section.  I had no second thoughts of wanting more children and we started trying again after our beautiful little girl turned one.  After 9 months I had a pregnancy end in an early miscarriage.  It was an emotional time for me, but I also knew well that this was a fairly common occurrence.  My own mother had several miscarriages and I knew it was a sad part of a woman’s life sometimes.  We cried, we prayed and then we tried again.  Right away we got pregnant with our second child.  Another easy beginning and at 36 weeks after months of complications, hospital stays, more tests than I care to remember, bed rest and a second C-section, the Lord gave me a healthy and BIG baby boy.

 I love being a mom to my two children.  I get frustrated and discouraged like any other mama, and I have days that I wonder how I will ever manage, but the Lord always leads me through them.  At the end of every day I am blessed and doing what I knew I always wanted to do.  When I was too young to know any better and was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up I would always say “a helicopter pilot!”  I have no idea why or what I was thinking and if you know me at ALL, you know I HATE to fly.  But once I had a better grasp of myself and the world around me I knew I wanted to be a wife and a mom.  I met my husband when I was 17 and even through college I knew I was just buying time for some “future career” after I was done raising my kids.  I knew then what the Lord had called me to do. And after one glance at each of my new babies I have been affirmed that is EXACTLY what I am supposed to do.  I have been determined ever since to do the best I possibly can to raise my children to love the Lord, to love each other and be well rounded and healthy.  I love being mommy.  I love the little hands that hold mine to cross the street and wrap around my neck when their tired.  I love the dirty little feet that provide giggles when we scrub them in the tub.  I love the messy smiles, squeals of joy, and even the scraped knees that send the kids running for mommy…because you know mommy kisses fix ouches better than anyone’s!  I love the little lips that even while sleeping provide the softest, sweetest kisses in the world.  I love providing for them, teaching them and helping them.  I never thought I would be doing all this with a husband who travels so frequently but even on the tough days when I’ve had enough of the whining and fighting and daddy isn’t coming home that night to rescue us; the Lord somehow gets me through.  When I start to “handle it” on my own without prayer and petition before the Lord, I notice I am quick to fly off the handle; start yelling and saying things I swore I would never say to my kids.  If that early 20’s me were to see me sometimes now she would just shake her head. 

A few years after having our sweet boy we began to pray about having one more.  I have to say that it was a big struggle and big decision for me considering the complicated pregnancies I had before.  Clint said all along that he would support me in whatever decision I made because it was my body at risk.  Knowing the potential of what I faced, I still felt like I wasn’t done having babies.  I felt like the Lord had another child waiting to call me mommy.  After a year of trying to conceive I finally took a positive pregnancy test.  After 10 weeks we thought we were clear of danger and began telling family and close friends our news.  It was a little too soon.  At nearly 11 weeks we found out it was not a viable pregnancy.  I cried and prayed even more and wanted desperately to move on and find out what else the Lord had in store for me.  Unfortunately that was not all He had in store for me with that particular pregnancy.  After an emotional week of Dr visits, medications, the ER and finally a D&C, we left for Disneyland.  While there, I received news that what I had was called a molar pregnancy.  It was a very complicated, very rare and potentially very dangerous form of pregnancy.  After several weeks of appointments and blood tests it was clear my HCG numbers were not going to fall on their own and they needed some help…with chemotherapy.  I never thought that I would have to even consider that word in my 20’s, but there I was waiting every Monday at the infusion center for my weekly chemo injections.  I know now and I knew then that it could have been SO much worse and the Lord really spared me from SO much more, but walking through a valley like that was tiring and emotional.  Not only did I lose a pregnancy which we were very excited about but now we were fighting for my health.  After 9 weeks of treatment my numbers were normal.  It had been 5 moths of appointments, tests and feeling sick and tired but I was done!  I was healthy and ready to move on.  I continue to thank the Lord that it was in His plan to heal my body and mend my spirit.  But now what? 

The dr said my risk of another molar pregnancy was low but would still probably have all the preeclampsia risks I had before.  But after such a scary road the Lord had spoken CLEARLY to me and to Clint that I was done having babies.  Emotionally and physically the Lord had made it clear that was not in His plan for us.  I felt an indescribable peace that I didn’t understand.  I knew that the Lord had given me two immeasurably amazing children to love and protect here on earth and I was never promised such a thing.  In the Bible there were women who were promised a child and the Lord faithfully provided…I was never promised any children, and yet he entrusted me with two of His that I could never thank Him enough for.  And yet I didn’t feel done.  Even with the peace that surpassed my understanding, the desire for another child never wavered. 

What about adoption?  Clint and I had discussed adoption before and neither of us was closed to it.  I had grown up with adoption in my family and never thought twice about it being out of the ordinary.  A friend of mine so wisely said it her blog The Road to Our +1, “I was raised knowing that babies come to parents in different ways, but are loved the same. “  It was finally the point in my life, in our marriage and in our family that we had to make a choice.  After two healthy babies and a health scare trying to have one more, is adoption the road the Lord wants for us?  Is this desire for more children a pull toward growing our family in another way?  Does the Lord want us to adopt a child?  I have always felt as though I could love another child just as wholly and honestly as I love my two now, but what about Clint?  I asked him to consider and genuinely pray about it and he feels like he could do the same. We spoke to friends of ours who have adopted and got a feel for the good the bad and the ugly, so to speak.  We have spoken with close friends and parents and everyone seems very open and positive.  So here we are…adopting.  We are about a month into what could potentially be a very lengthy process but so far we are encouraged and blessed by the experience.  I’m not na├»ve enough to think the road will be paved in gold and lined with roses.  The reality is we may get tracked through the mud and guided over creaky bridges on our road to adding to our family, but we feel it is the road the Lord has clearly led us to…so here we go.  Eyes skyward, arms open and hearts ready to welcome the exact child He has waiting just for us.  It will not be an easy journey but we know our next child will be worth it!