God’s Sovereignty Revealed (our adoption update!)

We are not in control.

This realization has been one of the most challenging, growing, AMAZING things I have learned through this adoption experience. I’m a type-A, control freak. You know the kind: color coded closet, to-do list maker, things-need-to-be-done-a-certain-way-kinda girl. I love to do my research before coming to a decision. Plain n’ simple, I like to be in control!

As a believer, God is constantly molding me and reminding me that while I like to try to be in control, I know I’m really not. The most freeing thing in the world is when I can truly know in my heart that his way is best. All I can do is bring my desires to him and ultimately say “yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42 (NIV). I trust that my God knows best. I trust that he is for his glory and for our joy. He is sovereign over the sunshine and the rain. And he will use OUR story as he sees fit.

Joe and I had an adoption plan. It went a little something like this. Go through CFC classes and home study to get our adoption certification, get in the matchbook, wait (hopefully only a few months at most!), get chosen by a birth mom and eventually bring home our baby. Well, judging from our track record, our plans don’t always happen the way we anticipate.

A few weeks ago, while facebook messaging with my sister’s friend Kelly (a fellow adoptive mom), I got a message that stopped me in my tracks. It said:

‘STACY!! Can you please call me, I think God is working faster than you can imagine!!!’

I will never forget the way I felt when I made that call. Kelly was talking a million miles a minute and I was desperately trying to make sense of everything. I tried to tame my rampant heart for fear that I may not have heard her correctly.

‘She wants to talk to you about adopting her baby! This is REALLY happening!’

I paced back and forth in my living room feeling much like David after the Dentist. All I could think was ‘is this real life?!’ I had waited for this moment for so long. And it was finally here. I was about to talk to our potential birth mom! I called my mom to tell her what had happened in the last two hours and then the call waiting beeped…

It was her!!!

Eeeeekkk! ‘What am I going to say? Is she going to like me? Oh my goodness, I think I’m going to throw up.’ Those were but a few thoughts going through my head. But it went better than I could have imagined. Our first phone conversation turned into hundreds and hundreds of text messages. Everyday learning something new. Everyday growing more love for this woman. Everyday praying for our precious baby.

This past weekend was one of the most special weekends of my whole life. We flew out to Missouri to meet McKenzi and her girls face to face. Words can’t describe how much joy and love I experienced on this trip. We spent time with her, her girls, the birth father, her mom, step dad and Whitley, the one who got us connected through Kelly. As I sat there in Whitley’s basement laughing with all of them and playing with the kiddos, I couldn’t help but praise the Lord. I thought “this is SO much better than being in control!’.

Baby Kokes is due February 14th, 2013. We couldn’t be more thrilled!

My first picture with McKenzi (so very happy!)

Kenzi’s sweet little girls. We just adore these two!

Family :)

One of my favorite photos from the whole trip. Kenzi, me and Whitley :) xo

Heading back to Phoenix with full hearts :)

Welcome to Holland

I remember waiting, and waiting and WAITING for our classes to start. On Tuesday we completed our third class of seven and it has been amazing.

As I sit there in the three hour class, there are times when I look around and think, ‘we’re REALLY doing this!’. For so long, adoption was really just an idea to me. I mean, even when I knew we were going to move forward with it, it was still just a thought. I could only imagine what the class experience would be like, what the process would feel like, but now we’re ACTUALLY experiencing it! At times I feel like I should pinch myself to make sure it’s ‘real life’ :).

Week 1 focused on ‘Foundations of Adoption’ which was essentially adoption 101. We got introduced to adoption lingo, adoption history, types of adoption, benefits of open adoption, AZ adoption laws and all that good stuff. It was a TON of information!

Week 2 rocked my world when we talked about: ‘Infertility: Grief & Loss in Adoption’. Adoption is created through loss. The birth parent is losing their role as parent to their child, the child has a loss of being parented by their biological family and for adoptive couples who have battled infertility; there is the loss of the child they always thought they’d have. The more I learn about adoption, the more I see Christ in it. Jesus is our Redeemer. He takes all the brokenness, our sin and our mess and takes it upon himself. And through his death and resurrection, He gives all of us who put our faith in him His righteousness. He redeems us. That’s what I see mirrored in adoption. He brings the broken and hurting adoptive parents into the life of a lonely, struggling birth mother and says, ‘I’m going to make something beautiful out of this.’ And he does!

Yes adoption is beautiful, but it is not a cure for infertility. Infertility lead me to this place and for that I am grateful, but to say that my heart does not still hurt at times would be a lie. Like anyone who has experienced a loss, there are good days and days of great pain. There are moments when the scars on my heart come bursting to the surface. And this class helped me to learn that that’s okay! Giving myself permission to grieve the idea of  a natural child while being excited about our adopted child has been so freeing. Am I thrilled to be adopting a baby? Absolutely! Have my desires to carry a biological child gone away? No. And they may never. Adoption does not make those feelings go away and I’m grateful to know that going into it. Because when I’m holding my sweet baby in my arms and have a thought about our biological child who never was, I’m going to allow myself to shed a tear for him/her. Because ultimately, allowing myself to grieve will make me a better mom to whatever child the Lord blesses us with.

This week’s class started off with a poem by Emily Perl Kingsley. She originally wrote it regarding raising a child with a disability but it has been modified for the adoption community as well. As Renee, our teacher, read this aloud I felt like she was telling my story. This poem is everything I have wanted to express about infertility that leads to adoption and said much more beautifully than I ever could!

WELCOME TO HOLLAND

by
Emily Perl Kingsley.

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising an adopted child after infertility- to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”

“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.

Open Adoption…

I love talking about our adoption journey. In fact, I probably talk about it too much! But if you ask me about it, I will talk til I’m blue in the face! Naturally, with whoever I’m talking to the same questions start flowing,

‘Do you have a preference on gender?’ ‘Will it be domestic or international?’ ‘How long will you have to wait?’ 

But the question that usually stirs up the most conversation is ‘Will it be an open adoption?’ which I answer with a resounding YES! This is usually the time that the questioner’s expression turns from excitement to ‘WHAT?!?!’. They do their best to hide it, but I can see the fear and concern oozing out of their every pore. I get it. I really do. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that I was the one with fear-clogged pores myself. But overtime, the Lord has shaped my thoughts and brought me to a new conclusion that I thought I would share with all of you…

We knew that by choosing CFC, we were choosing an open adoption since that is all they do there. While I felt that we had chosen the right agency, I can’t say with certainty that I was excited about an open adoption. Sure, parts of it seemed appealing. Like the fact that I would get to meet the woman who is giving life to our future son/daughter and the thought that our child would grow up knowing their story. Those things were important to me. But when my mind went to deeper places like the idea of an ongoing relationship with the birth mom, my fears came out swinging! The thought of ‘sharing’ my son or daughter was scary to me. I mean, what if they ended up loving their birth mom more than me? Or what if I just feel jealous all the time? Will I ever really feel like their ‘Mom’?

Joe, on the other hand, had such an easy time embracing the idea of an open adoption. The way he spoke about the beauty of having our child’s birth mother as a part of our extended family made me equal parts scared, inspired and jealous. I wished SO badly that it was that easy for me. I wanted to share in his vision but I was scared to death. I prayed that the Lord would guide me and mold me and give me the strength to pursue a very open adoption if that was His plan.

And then something amazing happened. I started thinking less about how open adoption will affect me, and thought more about how open adoption will affect both our baby and our birth mom. Immediately my heart started changing. The Lord began to give me such a love and compassion for our future birth mom. I started praying for her. I started loving her, before ever meeting her. I starting thinking about the undeniable love she has for this child made evident through her choice to give him/her not only life, but a better life. I started picturing this woman who would one day come into our lives, and my heart felt nothing but love and compassion for her. The thing I love SO very much about adoption is how much the Lord sanctifies through this process. There are so many opportunities to check your heart, your motives and your gut and let me tell you, God will let you know where you need changing if you ask Him!

Then I started thinking of our sweet baby. How beautiful will his/her story be if it is one that is saturated with love? The love of Joe and I. The love of their birth mom. I remember one day back when I was still sinking in my fears, my wonderful husband said,

‘God is all about redeeming. He redeems us to himself through Christ; the most selfless, loving act. We are supposed to be like Christ. Wouldn’t it be a beautiful thing if God does a redemptive work in our family? Wouldn’t it be beautiful if our child and birth mom have a redemptive relationship over a broken one? I think that’s what God would want. And we have the opportunity to do that through our family.’ 

Last week we had our first adoption class and we discussed open adoptions. We had the opportunity to watch testimonials from three birth moms; an open adoption, a semi-open and a closed. As I watched the videos, again my heart overflowed with love for these women but it also broke. The two women who did not have an open adoption have not had the closure they need to heal. Their wounds are still fresh and their pain is still real. It made me realize all the more how much I believe in open adoptions. This adoption is not just about Joe and I, it is about this sweet baby and this amazing woman who is giving us the greatest gift we would ever ask for. How can I not do whatever I can to love her unconditionally and help her heal?

I realize that our family is not going to be the norm. People will still look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them about how much I love our future birth mom. But then again, Jesus was never the norm either, so perhaps we’re onto something…

We have our second adoption class tonight. Looking forward to it!

Overwhelmed by Goodness

I have never doubted God’s faithfulness or His sovereignty. I have asked for him to show me the ‘why’ more times than I can count, but I have never let go of trusting his goodness.

2 1/2 years is a long time to walk through the desert. It may pale in comparison to some, but the exhaustion we experienced was real all the same. In those moments, we clung to the promise that our God would never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He didn’t then and he won’t now.

For years I have prayed for Him to bring us a child, to fulfill this desire of our hearts. The thing I love about God is that when we bring our desires to him, he molds them and shapes them until they look more like his.He took my desire to become pregnant and said: ‘I will bring you a child, but in MY way.’ He heard my desire to be a mother and said: ‘You will get to experience motherhood, but in MY way’. He took my fears and worries about adoption and gave me a new heart that beats stronger for adoption than I ever thought possible!

Today I am overwhelmed by His goodness. Every tear cried and every heartbreaking moment experience are all starting to make sense.

Thank you Lord for writing our story in a way that is so much for beautiful than I could have ever imagined. You are so good. Your ways are higher than my ways. Your sovereignty is perfect. I am overwhelmed by your faithfulness, your goodness and your love.

Looking forward to our first adoption class tonight :)

Lessons from Aladdin

I knew every line from Aladdin as a kid. True story.

I’m getting so anxious waiting for our classes to start. Okay, if I’m keeping it real…I’m getting impatient! I just want to get this process started. Okay, keeping it real again….I just want to get this process finished!

I know that God is giving me and Joe this time to prepare our hearts and our home for little baby. Life is going to change once he/she is here, that’s for sure. Even still, I’m ready for the next step. August 14th is less than 3 weeks away. And until then, I will just have to play this Aladdin scene over and over again.

Dreaming of our sweet babe

Last night I dreamt that we adopted a sweet little boy.

My heart instantly overflowed with love and I awoke even more excited about when I get to hold our baby in our arms for real.

I think about our child often. I wonder if he/she has been conceived yet. I wonder what he/she will look like. I dream about the day that I get to hold him/her in my arms, kiss him/her and say:

“I’ve loved you since before you were born. Before I ever knew you, I built a place in my heart just for you. I’ve waited for you for so long, and now here you are in my arms. I love you more than words can say, my sweet babe. I’m so excited that you’re mine and that I get to be your Mommy!”

Say This, Not That

There are certain things that (most) people know not to say to pregnant women. Like ‘wow, you’re huge!’. Or ‘are you sure there aren’t twins in there?’ She may laugh it off, but inside she probably wants to punch you in the face lol. Yes, generally speaking people know not to offend an emotional pregnant woman. And while us expecting adoptive mamas may not have the hormones as an excuse, we are still sensitive when it comes to our journey. There are certain things that make us cringe when we hear them. So here is a little guide to things you should and shouldn’t say to adoptive parents.

Say this: ‘Why did the birth mom choose adoption for their child?’ 

Not that: ‘Why did they give their baby up?’

I NEVER want my child to feel like they were ‘given up’. The gut-wrenching choice that a birth mother makes to not parent is that of selflessness and love, not neglect. The lingo may only be slightly different, but the motivations are worlds apart.

Say this: ‘Are you planning on having biological children?

 Not that: Are you planning on having your own children?

I totally understand when people ask this, and I don’t fault them for their phrasing. It’s true. Our adoptive child won’t technically be our ‘own’ in the sense that I didn’t birth him/her, but they will be our own in every other sense of the word. I want them to know that the love we have in our family is not determined by blood or birth. They are our child. We are their parents. And they are are own.

Say this: ‘Birth mom’

Not that: ‘Real mom’

Joe + I will be this child’s parents. His/Her real parents. To call his/her birth mother their ‘real mom’ would indicate that I am his/her ‘fake mom’. And well, that would just make me all sorts of sad!

I’m sure I’ll have more to add to this list as I continue our journey! In the meantime, study up on the ‘say this, not that’ list. Here’s to no one getting punched in the face by expectant mamas! ;)