Friday, January 24, 2014

When the cost is great, He is greater still.

It's been a long few days.

It's been a different few days than we thought.

It's been raw, emotional, numb  . . .yet even sweet.

Sweet because of so many of you.

Tears have come because of what we are walking and the ache it brings.

Yet tears have just as often come because of the countless messages, texts, emails and calls from the body of Christ.  You have stood with us so beautifully.  Cried with us.  Prayed for us.

We have been loved as extravagantly as we grieved.

There are no words.

In some of my weakest moments when all I could do was sit on our stairs and cry . . .I have felt held.

I have seen God provide for our girls beyond what we could have hoped.  And oh they have been a blessing amidst it all.  To still hear their giggles and have their hugs.  To see them moving forward  amidst the questions and prayers for "baby brother" reminds us to do the same.

I have felt the prayers as Ryan and I have stood in this together, hurting, but so thankful to have each other amidst it all.  I told him I am beyond thankful to be married to be a man who is willing to say "yes" to God even when it opens us up to be vulnerable and is willing to love deeply enough it leaves us open to grief.  We have felt His grace in the moments He reminds us this hasn't broken us and He whispers we will be ok.

The last 24 hours especially have been a whirlwind.  Some things happened in birth mom's life that left a window of hope that a last minute phone call might still come and allow us to go and bring home our son before events would transpire that could not be reversed.

While we don't know 100% that it all has moved forward in a way that would permanently close this door to us, based on our last connection with her, that is our assumption and the way we are moving forward in our hearts.

Would we love a phone call tomorrow proving us wrong?  Yes.

But we aren't expecting it.

We have been thankful, so, so thankful, that birth mom has continued communicating with us through this all despite disconnecting from some others during it all.

It is how we found out baby boy was born.  7 lbs, 5 oz and 20 inches long and came a day earlier than planned when birth mom's water broke.

We even were sent a picture.  It broke us to see but I will forever treasure it.  I have said over and over that to not have that picture would be a million times harder than it was to receive it.

I will be honest and share that this story has progressed in a way we wouldn't have hoped.  It is hard to see the better in this as events have unfolded in birth mom's life and this baby boy's life.

But God continues to challenge me not to doubt that His love for this mama and baby go far deeper than our own.  He has challenged me what it means to hold things loosely.

These have been times in the past day I have wanted to fight for what felt like ours.  And yet God had begun weaving a different story.  And instead of grabbing tight He was telling us to love extravagantly and give our support where it felt most hard to do.

This is not where we would choose to end up.  That has been clear every time I step over a packed suitcase or walk by the crib in our room.

Yet I am firmly clinging to the truth that God did not bring us here to abandon us.

I look over every single day of our adoption journey since that first day we moved forward a little over 3 years ago . . . .and I wouldn't go back for a second even knowing where we stand today.

God has gloriously wrecked us, is still wrecking us, but in a way I pray leaves us more moldable and usable to Him.

We are holding tight to the promise that He sees a bigger picture than we can right now. 

We are holding tight to the promise that He is the redeemer of broken things.

Please keep praying.

There are sweet moments amidst it all.  Precious moments.  Times where laughter and nonsense conversations are such a gift and friendship a blessing. Life can feel sweetly almost normal. And there are moments that are raw and tender and often unexpected and the tears flow.  We are trusting God to just continue to carry us through those waves that will inevitably still come and to continue writing our family's story as only He could.

And as He does, this is the cry of my heart.

Thanks for standing with us.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

when life is messy

Some posts you don't want to write.

This is one of them.

There is no easy way to write this but we received a text late tonight from our birth mom that she has changed her mind and now wants to keep her baby boy.

We have spent some time on the phone with caseworkers from our agency - to say we are all shocked by this is an understatement.

Alot has happened in 24 hours that none of us foresaw and we are trying to absorb, regroup and understand where we go from here.

There is alot of unknown still truthfully.

There is still a question mark if this is final . .. which I will admit is scary for me to write as well.  To leave the door open to hope seems so vulnerable right now as we just try to wrap our minds and hearts around the words we read and its implications for our family.

I will just be bold and say it would be a miraculous answer to prayer if this baby boy could still be our son for so many reasons.

This is what we will not do - we will not rob birth mom of her choice.  Our hearts are broken and break further when I think of three little girls upstairs who went to bed prepared to send us off tomorrow to meet their baby brother.  But  I can't be a mother to those three precious girls and not empathize with all this birth mom has to be experiences and processing during some extremely stressful situations in her life.

There is nothing easy about adoption.  It is beautiful and glorious . . .yet it is full of heart break and loss.  And tonight, we are having to experience that loss in a way we never hoped or prayed.  I have to think and trust that God is going to use this, in some way, at some time, for His glory.  It is all I can cling to right now as we head to bed with so many questions.

Maybe we should have waited for more answers to these questions before we shared. But truthfully, I couldn't bear to start the day with so many hoping and praying alongside of us and believing we were getting on a plane.  You all have held us up more beautifully than I could have ever imagined this past week.

As of right now, we have canceled our immediate travel arrangements and are in holding to see what the next 72 hours holds.  We lean on your prayers and your grace as we sit here in this limbo.

As I head up to bed, I am clinging to words that I shared in passing with a friend I encountered yesterday.  As she sweetly shared how she has been praying and praying for us and would continue to, I told her how much we have been held by those prayers.  Then I said words that I am praying I will not forget.

I told her that part of the peace God has given us to this point has been that even with an uncertain future, we know without a doubt that we are where He asked us to be.   Those are hard words to type right now as the tears stream down.

We are clinging to that tonight.  Falling before Jesus with that tonight.  And trusting that He see a story we don't see fully yet. . . and that our hearts, and our girls hearts, are still safely in His hands.

Thanks for how much each of you has been Jesus to us these past weeks with your words and prayers.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The end stretch . . .and what to expect

Baby arrives in FIVE days.

Absolutely crazy, surreal, and amazing to write that.

A friend asked me the other day how I was feeling.

When I wrote last week, we were sitting in some hard spots and anxiety was definitely higher.

Don't get me wrong, the anxiety still rises up at times. But when my friend asked, I decided that overall, the main feeling I hold right now is relief.

I feel relief to know that in a week we will know; to no longer be walking this road of hoping and wondering and "what if?!"  To know if I can sit freely in soaking in that we have a son or if we are walking a different road of faith.  We ache to know and be able to say he is our son.  But we are taking each day as it comes and re surrendering how this all goes.

In the meantime we are in planning mode as we step forward in faith.  Who knew it would take the 4th child to make me finally have some nesting urges (not being pregnant myself may help that)?!?!

Bathrooms are scrubbed, some food prepared, house is slowly being cleaned and picked up, store room has been sorted through (because that is a necessity before baby - didn't you know?!), shopping trips for essentials and piles of things we might need are being put together in his bedroom to get ready to pack.

You forgot how many little things you need for a new baby around the house!!

Several different people have asked me what this next week is going to look like and while I have shared with them, I thought it might be helpful for me to come share what we know here . . .as it is comforting to know the many that are lifting us up and praying for our family in this journey.

Ryan and I plan to head out wednesday.  We are so thankful for grandparents who are watching our girls and are able to come to us so that amidst so much unknown and so many potential changes, the girls can stay in their own beds and continue their routine as close as possible.  They are excited for time with Gpa's and Gma's!!

We will get into Texas early evening - enough time I hope to be able to sit down for a dinner, make a target run for any last minute needed essentials as well as time to just pause before heading to bed for some sleep (we hope!).

Baby is scheduled to be born thursday morning by c-section - 8:30 for my friends who like to set alarms and pray. : )  I would say it is here that begins the timeframe we feel the most prayerful for and ask for your prayers as well.

Birth mom will have 48 hours before she signs papers that would make him our son.  During those 48 hours, we are essentially completely at her whim in terms of when we can see him, where and how much.  I have heard from other adoptive moms, and been prepared by our caseworker, to not be accommodated for or catered to.   Her, and her choice to choose, is the priority.  We don't hold an official role in his life as that point.

There won't be any caseworkers or anyone from our agency with us the 48 hours.  That morning he is to be born, we will be at the hospital in the waiting room.  The plan is that birth mom will contact us when she is able to have, and is ready, for visitors.  I don't know if that could be an hour or six.  That will be our first time not only to meet our son, we pray, but birth mom as well.

There aren't words to try and explain how we not only love her .. .but just pray God will use us to bless her and love her and show her His love.

We know we will also be able to meet some of our birth mom's family - also a big prayer request I would have; that God's hand will just be on all these meetings.  I want to be able to form relationships that can be long lasting but am working to just give those details over to God and trust that He is going to walk those conversations with us.

So those 48 hours will be come and go - probably influenced by how relationships mesh, how birth mom is feeling and how baby is doing.  Personally, I am just praying for the grace to be flexible and smiling . . .and to not take decisions weightier than they should be or even personally.  I can't begin to try and imagine all that this precious birth mom will experience or feel.  We want to honor her in how we walk those in between days as well.

Then, praying that at 48 hours, he truly is our son, someone from our agency will come and process all the necessary paperwork.  Assuming all goes well again and he is doing well, my understanding is that it is then he would be able to "come home" with us . . .as in the hotel.

And there begins the connecting, real life and getting to know each other and snuggling him to pieces like I have been waiting to do.

At the completion of paperwork after those first 48 hours, we will begin another waiting period of 7 - 14 days before we can come home.  This period is really just waiting for necessary paperwork to connect between the two states that acknowledge the adoption occurred and that we can bring him across state lines.  This would probably be another point of prayer we would ask you to cover.  We will quickly hit two different weekends right away.  This has potential to just stretch out long and we are praying we will be on the short end of that timeline.

We have prayed and discussed several different scenarios  - as that is a lot of days for Ryan to take off work (that we would love to be able to use some for when we are home and in transition there) and it is a long time for the girls waiting at home with us both gone. At one point we had talked about Ryan coming home for a while and then flying back to travel home with us.  That isn't looking like an option any longer - but we will be needing to decide if he stays that whole time with us or just comes home . . .and then myself and baby will travel home alone when we get the ok.  Many different factors will play into that so we just ask for prayers of wisdom and agreement and direction over those decisions.

It is when we finally get that last ok that we'll be able to book flights to come home!!!! I get teary just imagining it and getting to introduce our girls to their baby brother.  They are asking often now "so does our baby brother get to be ours now?!"  They are so excited - we all are - and I am just trusting their hearts to a God who I know loves them even more deeply than we do.  We talk honestly about it and I feel like He has been gracious in preparing them as well as I could have hoped or prayed.

Until then, I can't tell you how grateful we are for all the prayers we feel just surrounding us.  God just continues to speak reminders of His nearness to us through so many of you.  We are leaning on them in these coming days.

Baby boy - We are waiting for you!!  We are praying for you!!  We love you.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The roller coaster of "in between"

This last month has been a roller coaster in about every area of our life.

Balancing the scurry of adoption paperwork and updates needing to be done in order to adopt domestically amidst the already "busy" the holidays naturally bring.

At times I was a total scatter brain - forgetting gymnastics (which has only been every Thursday since august), blanking on scheduling sitters, running to get needed gift donations during preschool because I had forgotten they were due that day . . .the list goes on and on.

Ryan was beyond gracious as he would take Ava to Occupational Therapy to let me catch a breather or talk me through my day to make it doable and without total break down as I worked through conference calls, post office runs, Christmas shopping, school parties and holiday hosting. : )

But we managed to get through it all and we mailed off the last needed document request on friday to have us be as ready as we can be for this baby to come.  It is a fingerprint request from the state of Illinois, so we would appreciate prayers that they will process them quickly so our agency in Texas can receive them.  My understanding, as of now, is that baby, if born early, could not be handed over to us if they have not received them back.  We are on a 2 - 3 week countdown at my best guess right now. :)

Emotionally it has been a roller coaster as well.

It has been so exciting to share the news with those we love and share the anticipation and hope we have of a son.  We have been so blessed with the support we have been shown and the prayers being prayed.

Yet with each step we take towards baby, there comes a new level of anxiety and fear that has to be surrendered daily and a new reality to that fear.

My mom, sisters and I went out for some christmas sale shopping to prepare for baby boy so he wouldn't have to be clothed entirely in pink. : )  We found some fabulous deals on some needed essentials and I even shopped ahead for next winter some, as I couldn't pass up some of the prices we were finding. 

I think coming home and organizing through it all and seeing it spread out that suddenly made the vulnerability of my heart become extremely real.  For not a single tag came off, bags and receipts are in the closet, and still, a baby boy needs to be prepared for and needed items readied.

I knew the anxiety had been building up but it became very real when one day I stopped at store to make some exchanges.  I had found a diaper bag I loved (ours had been spoiled - literally - by spilled milk with the twins) and went to also pick up a couple boy swaddling blankets and burpies.  As I stepped up to the counter to make the exchange and use my credit, the anxiety became almost too much.  It was as if in that moment, my heart couldn't go forward with one more purchase and chance having one more thing to take back if we don't bring our baby boy home.

Fighting tears, I put the items on hold, and walked out to the car, and called a dear friend of mine and just cried.  She, too, is walking a similar journey of faith to her own little boy and I was just so blessed at having someone to simply sit with me in the fear, understand it, and stand with me in it with compassion and hope for me.

A day later I went back in, and choosing hope, purchased the items and they, too, are sitting in his bedroom closet with the tags and receipts.

Living with hope. 

All the while surrendering how it all ends. 

That is reality we are walking right now. 

Speaking truth of God's goodness to ourselves and our ability to trust Him, regardless, and that we will be ok, regardless.  OH, and somewhere in the midst of that not having it affect my ability to respond to the girls (or Ryan) in love. : )

I have been really grateful that we are in communication with our birth mom. 

Some days that blesses me as I feel a relationship and re pore slowly grow. We want, so much, for her to be a part of his life and our life and family.  So I am thankful for every interaction and just pray it grows trust and connection. 

Other days it feeds the anxiety, as the weight of how I respond can sometimes feel heavy, or certain conversations make it very real how little control I have in this situation; both in baby's care/growth or in how this all ends.

We are hopeful to have a c-section date this coming thursday!  While we know that still doesn't mean baby will for sure wait until then to come, it does feel comforting to know that a day is coming when we can step off this rollercoaster and know, with some level of certainty, what the future will look like.

So that is where we sit these days.  Praying constantly throughout each day and night and leaning heavily on your prayers as we pray.  I wanted to come share, not only because people kindly ask, but for us to remember God's daily provision as we walk this journey and His grace through the many emotions too.

I continue to find so much comfort that even on the days I have to pray through the anxiety the most, it is still so clear we are exactly where He has called us.  That encourages me and comforts me to keep pressing forward, secure in His calling and His faithfulness to us.

Thanks for walking with us through it.

Hebrews 6:19 "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure."