Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Back in the Saddle...or the classroom

Yesterday mark my first day back in the classroom. I have been in school for the past year taking online courses with some interaction with other students but this quarter I am in class every day. It's a little bit of an adjustment. But so far so good!

I am taking a French class every day and a yoga class three days a week so that gives my days some structure, something which I have been so desperate for. My earliest class is at 8am so I am getting used to getting up and going for a purpose beyond not being a slob.

It is so strange to be back in a classroom environment, especially because the last time I was there I knew everyone I was in class with. This time I am with a room full of strangers. I was nervous I would stick out like a sore thumb, an old sore thumb but luckily there is a lot of diversity on the campus and it is represented in my classes.

The stirring of my heart continues with regards to the conference we participated in this weekend. We have not come to any conclusions, and so we are continuing on the path we are on towards domestic infant adoption but are keeping our hearts open to God's leading. If he wants us to change direction I know he'll confirm it.

I reveling in the new challenge this quarter is offering. I'm enjoying feeling pushed out of my comfort zone. Stretched a little. Having something to focus on besides our infertility. The knowledge that we have a baby on the way 'someday' has given me my mojo back. I had lost my reason for a while, and it made studying a real pain. I started school thinking I would soon be pregnant and home with an infant and needing to have an outlet for a few hours a week where I got to be with adults and think about something other than being a mum.

That assumption seems stupid now, and at the least naive. It's one year and three miscarriages since I started and we were without a baby. When we made the decision to adopt school suddenly took on more purpose. I wasn't our kids to believe in education. I want to be an example of that to them. However, now I am desperate to complete my AA degree so that if an when we are blessed with a baby I can devote as much time as possible just holding him or her. I know that being away from our baby will be so hard. After all the waiting and hoping and dreaming that's been going on, and will continue until they are in our arms, I will both be wanting to spend endless hours just being home, being mummy. Perhaps the novelty of that will ware off after a while, but I know I want to feel as though I am making a choice about my time, rather than having my hand forced with a school schedule.

I am beginning to think a year from now would be the perfect time for us to have a baby...But I hear God laughing at my blatant assumption that because I determine it is the right time it is His plan. We have fully surrendered to His timing in adding to our family, but this girl has a hard time not making plans anyway. At least I have homework to keep me busy!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Wait no more

On Saturday, J and i went with two other families from our church to an event called, Wait not more. It was something put on by Focus on the Family and is something they do all over the US to highlight the numbers of legal orphans in the foster system, and call the church to action to care for them.

It was an amazing event and we are both still reeling from the things we heard and the way God might be leading us.

In WA state, as of August 20110 there are over 1500 legal orphans, kids living in foster care just waiting for families for families to adopt them because their biological parents have had their parental rights terminated.

There are over 5000 churches in WA state. 5000 building full of people who claim Jesus as their savior, who have been adopted themselves into the family of Christ. "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress" James 1:27
We believe that right? So what do we do with that. That verse doesn't say anything about this only applying if you have had struggles with infertility, this is across the board something we are asked to do.

Please don;t hear me saying that adoption is something we should do without thought or prayer. I believe that adoption is truly a calling but I wonder if perhaps there are people who are simply not listening or responding to that call. It is not an easy choice to make, it's not a guarantee of an easy life for sure but might be something that God is asking you to do as his adopted child. At this conference there were lots of different speakers sharing their stories and experiences, a women who had been taken out of her mothers custody after sexual abuse by her mother boyfriend and who lived in foster care for a while before being adopted at age 6, another women with a similar story who was adopted with her siblings at age 11 - so often siblings are split up because there are not homes available for them to stay together. This just breaks my heart. All the loss these kids have suffered and now they lose the only family they have left.

Then we heard from an adoptive father, an adoptive mother and a women who was a biological child in a home where her parents fostered and eventually adopted. I loved her perspective about the way her faith was challenged and transformed by learning to love these kids who had no one else to love them and how much richer her and her biological siblings lives were because of the home they had and the love they saw displayed by their parents.

As we left the conference, J and I were already questioning our decision to adopt an infant. Our home could fit siblings, could our hearts? Is that what God is asking of us? Could our hearts be open to older kids? Kids that have hurt and pain and may have experiences abuse or neglect by those who were supposed to love them.

Then we went to dinner with our friends and their 5 month old who had been adopted by them at birth. It was so special to see them parent him, so wanted and such a gift in theri lives. Talking about how he is starting to recognise them and hear about the milestones he is reaching. We got to see their adoption story unfold - it was super fast, abnormally so. We will very likely be waiting a long time. And while we are waiting there are legally free children also waiting. We are waiting for a baby and they are waiting for a family. I just can't get my head around that.

I have no idea what God is doing, I am not sure if this is His plan for our family today or in the future. I am afraid to change course, but equally afraid of not doing so if that is the road that will lead us to our family.

I know this is a real issue, but I want to be sure that we continue to make our decision based on prayer and not just emotion. Let's be honest, I browse the 'waiting children' list and dissolve into tears, convinced it is my job to bring them all home. When I know that is not God;s plan. I know that J and I both want to be open to all God has, but use discernment to make sure we are not just doing something because it seems like the 'right' or 'Christian' thing to so. We serve a good and faithful God who wants us to be confident in Him. Any decision we make will go with us for ever, these children will be fully ours and we want to make certain that we have God's words of confirmation to come back to when hard times come.

The kept seeing these pictures of sibling groups and just imagining them in Christmas PJ's with J and I in the background as our Christmas picture. Which is all a fun fantasy until I realise that if we did decide to go down this road, that could actually be our reality next Christmas, and then it seems ridiculous.

We have a lot to think and pray about. Are we ready to let go of having a baby? Are we even being asked to? Lots of questions, and possibilities. My head hurts.

And tomorrow I start my fall quarter with an 8am class. I guess I should get my back pack ready!

Hope you all had a great weekend

Thursday, September 22, 2011

First official Mummy purchase

I know, I know, it's really too early, we are not even done with our home study yet but I was buying something on Amazon and needed something to get me over $25 for free shipping. I wonder if J will buy that excuse? All this paper work stuff is fine and dandy but I don't want to miss out on enjoying any of the anticipation that growing your family come with so I gave in.

Now, because I am afraid the waiting for a baby will be so painful with a fully kitted out nursery I am not going to go crazy. When we do complete our home study will start researching our car seat and crib/mattress/sheets etc but our purchasing will end there until that baby is in our arms.

I was talking to my friend Lindsey and she suggested that I make a list and a design for a girl nursery and one for a boy nursery and after we have our little one she is convinced our friends would want to help make those plans come to be while J and I fight over who holds the baby! That is actually the carrot I am dangling in front of myself to get the paper work done. I think I have been dreaming about my nursery even longer than I was about my wedding, ha ha.

In Home study news, we have sent off our personal reference forms to be filled out and returned and have completed a few pieces of paper that just needed to be read and signed. There probably won't be many exciting things to update on the adoption front for a while, this paperwork thing will take a little while so I will spare you the details. I think it might be more boring to red about paper work than to read about paint drying.

Now where was I? That's right, my first mummy purchase. If you know me, you will have realised how much I love my kitchen so it only seems right that our children will reap the fruits of my labor in that area too so I bought a cook book called, Love in Spoonfuls.

I can't wait to cook for our babes, but until then I have lots of time to practice some of these recipes on our friends kids!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Does Anybody Else Look Like Me?

In the same way that pregnant couples read books about 'what to expect when they are expecting' as adoptive parents-to-be we also have a reading list to work our way down.

Our book list is long because it includes books about infant care and parenting skills - just like every other mummy and daddy to be, but we also want to read books about attachment because we understand that this may take more intentionality with a child that does not share our genetics. We want to prepare ourselves that our own attachment may take longer than if I had birthed a child myself. Of course, it may happen instantaneously but we don't want to be shocked if it takes longer. It's big stuff and also a topic I have avoided in my reading to this point. Procrastination is still my best friend when it comes to facing hard truths!

However, at the moment I am reading a book called, "Does Anybody Else Look Like Me?' by Donna Jackson Nakazawa. J and I are open to adopting a baby that is of a different race than us so we want to learn from other families who have walked this path before us. After only reading the introduction of this book I am realising that living as a trans-racial family takes a ton of intentionality so that our children grow up with strong self image and a strong sense of connection to us as their parents, even if we are not the same colour.

Right now, I am reading the chapter about talking to children aged 2-5 about this issue. It is so interesting to hear the interviews and snippets of conversations from parents and their children to see how race is observed and understood by little ones.

We want to raise our children to know that they fully belong in our family even though we may not all be the same race, and it would not be in their best interest to just pretend that we were. Society is not colour blind. Our choice to (potentially) have a multiracial family is not something we want to be a struggle for our children, but we have to understand that to send them into the world without preparing them with a strong and positive sense of self image is unfair. Our home will be a safe, happy place but we cannot guarantee that the rest of the world will be.

I pray that this book and others we read will continue to prepare our hearts and minds for the job of parenting ahead. I have no doubt that we will love our children, but I am not naive enough to think that will mean there will not be hard times. Intentionality is vital in raising children that are well-adjusted and have a positive self image. Parenting, whether you have biological or adopted children is always challenging but we are hoping that we can be as prepared as possible before we have our little miracle. Not that we will learn all we need from books but it at least begins some good thinking and necessary conversations between J and I before we have a babe in our arms.

If any of you have book recommendations I would love to hear them. We are interested in reading about all sorts of parenting, child development and adoption topics.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Welcome to my home!

Our house is a labor of love. I wanted to give a little history before I unveiled our newest finished project. Get comfy...

When we were house shopping we decided we did not want to get a fixer upper for our first home, and when we bought our house we were under the illusion it was totally move-in ready.

Here it was on that day...

Now, for all intents and purposes it was technically move-in ready. No live wires hanging out - oh, except for the one we discovered under the kitchen cabinet when we were dealing with the strange smell. The foulness turned out to be 15 years of rat poo festering in our crawl space and seeping up through the hole in the bottom of the cabinet...drilled for a wire which was forgotten about, and left hanging there, live! I couldn't make this stuff up.

And then there was the case of the carpet. It looked like it was in good condition. Not perfect, but not bad for second owners and nothing we would have to worry about for a while. Until the day J moved in and we saw the stains everywhere from an extremely incontinent dog. Or two. Note to self - and to anyone house hunting - move furniture when you are looking around because you don't want to make unpleasant discoveries after you have bought the place! After months of unsuccessfully treating the stains, and living in the one room of the house that didn't smell like dog piss the carpets we replaced them. We loved our new carpet, but it was an expense that we had not budgeted for so soon.

The carpet replacement included J and his dad pulling up the old carpet, painting some wood treatment on the floorboards to get rid of the dog smell as well as doing some leveling before the guys came to fit the new carpet. We also decided to paint as many rooms as possible while the carpet was pulled up so we didn't have to be too careful. When we moved in the house was white, everywhere and we really wanted to put our stamp on it and although we didn't think we would be painting the whole thing in 2 weeks, we managed it. While we are painting the walls we may as well paint the ceilings, right? Check.
and...while we are doing the walls and the ceilings we might as well bite the bullet and paint our baseboards too. Sure. The weird pine finish was so hard to match with paint colours and we thought the easiest thing would be to paint it white. Baseboards, window wells, window frames, and the stair rails all needed to be turned from pine to white. Little did we know this would involve primer and then about 4 coats of paint - on everything for it to look good. And again, we had two weeks to do it while the carpet was out.

In our frantic weeks of painting we certainly had a thousand finishing touches which we marked as un-essential and have been (very) slowly working our way down the list. It's been 2 years and we are finally feeling like we are living in our home.

One of our last projects in our downstairs living space has been our fireplace remodel in the TV room. This room is off of the kitchen and houses our TV. It is a space that has been hard to work on because we use it so much. We have people over to watch movies or football and baseball games, but the fact that we use it so much has made it almost impossible to give it full DIY attention.

We had a design in mind and it has come to be! Yay!
It started off like this.

(Even Christmas cards, lights and candles couldn't make it look better - and those paint swabs were on there for the best part of a year!)

Yes, red walls and not a good red. It looks 100% better in this picture than in real life. They only used one coat of paint so the white wall underneath was still visible and patchy in places. The fireplace arch is not straight, it's off by a few inches and we believe this is why the previous owners hand painted the ivy trail around it. It did little to distract me, in fact I think it served as a frame to the bad building work.
Also notice how the paint just stops mid wall, next to the window which for some reason s a diaper along the top. Yeah, that's been outta here for a while.

J and his dad knocked down the upper part of the wall and dry-walled, re-textured and finally painted. In the process, they realised our fireplace was not centered on the wall - so they moved it over. Next they tore out the old tiles and laid new tiles for the hearth and surround. They built bookcases, and painted them before topping it with the mantel piece.

Ok, so finding the perfect mirror to hang (we are trying this one out) and setting the shelves and mantel up the way I want will take time, but it is 100% better and we just love it SO MUCH! Ready...TA DA!!

While I was looking through pictures to find one of the red walls and the painted ivy of doom, I came across a few other pictures of rooms we have made our own since we move in. For your browsing pleasure...

Here is what the hallway looked like,

we even opened wedding presents with it as a background!

But now it looks like this!

And here is the living room as was - if you look closely you can see those yellow dog pee stains even through the neatly vacuumed carpet.

And here it is now, dog pee free carpet and everything!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Our Church Family

On Sunday our church unveiled the video that they are putting on our church website. We love to build relationships with people and invite them into our communihttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifty, but we know that often when people are looking for a church body to be a part of the internet is a great tool to find information.

This little clip does such a great job at capturing the heart of our church and the community that we value. J is the guy leading worship.

I love this blogger world but I admit that I am as nosy as the next girl when it comes to knowing about you all. I hope this short video will give you a glimpse of this part of our lives!

Hit this link and then play the video!

(yes, that is us in the goofy picture too!)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Here we go!!

I think the Post Office in our area has made some cut backs because for the last few weeks we have only got mail delivered every other day. Each day last week I excitedly skipped to the mail box to see if our home study packet had arrived from the agency but it wasn't until today when we checked that the big brown envelope was there! It must have been delivered after I checked the box last night!

We were thrilled.

And then we opened it and were overwhelmed as we began to make a list of all the things we have to do. We just mailed off our Green card paperwork on Monday - so forgive us for being less than jumping up and down about starting another long form-filling, proof-gathering process. However, I am not letting the UGH feeling steal our joy in this.

The adoption process is a long road but we are almost there. I can almost taste it.

So tomorrow the work begins!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Woven by His Hands

On Tuesday night, J and I went to our church to participate in the Adoption/Foster care group. We continue to praise God for the provision and support we find within our church community, and this group is just another way that community and sharing life is fostered.

There we about 12 couples who were there, some with children and some at different stages of the waiting process. It felt comforting to look around the room and see familiar faces, couples that I had been in small groups with at various times over the years, friends who have shared different life experiences with me even before I was married. It seems like God was building this community and establishing relationships with like-minded people journeying the path of adoption even before I had met the man who would be my partner in life. I can see God's plan being woven into my life and it fills my heart with hope for the future.

It was the first meeting since the summer break and we started by sharing our stories. Some off those who had been in the group before had exciting updates to share and it was fun to imagine that one day we could be one of those families sharing stories of how our children came into our lives as an encouragement to others just starting out on the journey.

Just today I read this story on a blog I follow where a friend shared that she got a message that read something like "My friend gave me your email I am 20 weeks pregnant and heard you might be open to adopting my baby" Seriously?! I mean, I am assuming that they did some investigation to ensure her credibility and a genuine friend was the connection before being so excited but how crazy/amazing/awesome is that!?!

This blogger had recently felt like God told her and her husband not to accept an offer from their clinic for a free IVF treatment. This seemed so crazy to me but I can hear in her post that they trust this little baby girl was the reason. It fills my heart with awe that God works in such a detailed way in our lives. Yes, we are pursuing adoption though Bethany Christian Services but in my heart I couldn't shake the feeling that we could be 'missing' our baby if we limited ourselves to just one agency. I know this might sound crazy, but it was a genuine fear that my heart was wrestling with. Reading Amy's story reminded me that if we are following where God is leading, being obedient to the things he asks us to do - and not to do - His plan will come to be.

If it is his plan that our child comes to us through our agency, then that is what will happen. But He is not limited! If he destines that our baby comes to us through a connection through our friends or community then he will make that happen too. Our obedience will not obstruct His will. I guess I just needed to see that picture of the tapestry that God is creating with our lives. Intertwined in ways we can't see, and ways we don't understand - yet - to be reminded (again) that it is truly in His hands.

We completed our formal adoption and now begin the Home Study process...I am hopeful we can get it done and out of the way before the holidays so we can enjoy those in a blissful state of trusting it's in God's hands!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Trip to Australia (figuratively)

At our adoption training this past weekend one of the caseworkers read this story to illustrate that the journey to parenthood through adoption. I was in tears because it resonated so much in my spirit. If you are on this journey too I hope you too can find comfort, and if you have had children the biological way then perhaps it will shed a little light on how it feels to be in our shoes. I do not have a source to quote as the author but if I find one I will be sure to add it.

Deciding to have a baby is like planning a trip to Australia. You've heard it's a wonderful place. You've read many guidebooks and feel certain you're ready to go. Everyone you know has traveled there by plane. They say it can be a turbulent flight with occasional rough landings, but you can look forward to being pampered on the trip.

So you go to the airport and ask the ticket agent for a ticket to Australia. All around you, excited people are boarding planes for Australia. It seems there is no seat for you: You'll have to wait for the next flight. Impatient, but anticipating a wonderful trip, you wait - and wait - and wait.

Flights to Australia continue to come and go. People say silly things like, "Relax, you'll get on a flight soon." Other people actually get on a plane and then cancel their trip, to which you cry, "It's not fair!"

After a long time the ticket agent tells you, "I'm sorry, we're not going to be able to get you on a plane to Australia. Perhaps you should think about going by boat."

"By boat!" you say, "going by boat will take a very long time and it costs a great deal of money, I really had my heart set on going by plane." So you go home and think about not going to Australia at all. You wonder if Australia will be as beautiful if you approach it by sea rather than air. But you have long dreamed of this wonderful place, and finally you decide to travel by boat.

It's a long trip, many months over many rough seas. No one pampers you. You wonder if you will ever see Australia. Meanwhile, your friends have flown back and forth to Australia two or three more times, marveling about each trip.

Then one glorious day, the boat docks in Australia. It is more exquisite than you ever imagined, and the beauty is magnified by your long days at sea. You have made many fiends during your voyage, and you find yourself comparing stories with others who also traveled by sea rather than air.

People continue to fly to Australia as often as they like, but you are able to travel only once, perhaps twice. Some say things like, "Oh, be glad you didn't fly. My flight was horrible: traveling by sea is so easy."

You will always wonder what it would have been like to fly to Australia. Still, you know God blessed you with a special appreciation of Australia, and the beauty of Australia is not in the way you got there, but in the place itself.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me.

Well, it's here. I am officially entering a palindrome birthday year, it's not as young as 22 or as old as 44 but somewhere in the middle :)

I wasn't sure how I would feel as I navigated through my 30's. Seeing the number climbing with each birthday brought fear in my 20's. But the fear was because the big 3-0 was looming. Once that milestone was passed, the fear dissolved. It wasn't so bad after all. In fact the freedom that come with feeling content with who I was and confident about what I looked like, unafraid to be myself was such a surprise. I am not sure how that happened, but something about entering my third decade gave me a shot of feeling free to be me - and with each passing 30's year, that same sense of loving who I am just increases. Life feels fuller, grander and more beautiful.

In light of fertility issues, a number above 35 brings some element of fear in regards to my elderly, ever decreasing eggs and the increased chances of certain syndromes and birth complications but that panic feeling has not yet reared it's head with this birthday. I believe that growing our family is in God's hands, and I am seeing how He is gently loosening the grip I have on controlling this area of my life. With every finger of my clenched fist he peels open, I feel a fresh wave of relief and expectant anticipation. "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

I am feeling truly spoiled, and celebrated today. Birthday wishes from friends and family on Facebook and via email, a pile of packages and cards to unwrap that have arrived in the mail, plans with friends filling my evenings, and a gift that came in a little blue box from my hubby as well as a cup of tea in bed this morning! I love Birthdays!!

In other news, I wanted to thank you all for your generosity in chipping in to reach the goal of $5000 for the orphans in the New Day foster homes in China. As of this morning there was only about $200 to reach to goal!! So exciting! The fundraiser ends tomorrow so you still have time to contribute if you wish. (scroll to the post below this for the link)

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans...in their distress..." James 1.27

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Living for Today

A month or so ago I mentioned an awesome opportunity to help some of the orphans in China who are in need of some pretty major medical care. New Day Foster home is a wonderful charity and they are the hands and feet of Jesus, loving on these little ones.

I wanted to do one more shout out on this blog before the deadline on Tuesday and ask you to dip into your pockets and see if there is any spare change hanging around. Even if you can only give a few dollars or a few pounds, together I know we can get to the $5000 target. I love seeing the total going up as people come together to contribute.

One talented lady has dangled a little giving carrot to encourage your generosity. If you make a donation of $50 or more she will make a hair bow for a little girl you know! See here for and here more details on that.

There are only two more days to go for this matching challenge and another generous person has agreed to match the money raised meaning any donations will be TRIPLED!! Your gift would keep on giving and giving and children across the world will get the help they so desperately need.

Ten Years Later...Remembering 9/11

I remember where I was in September 11th 2001. I remember feeling sick to my stomach watching the images on the planes flying into towers, but unable to turn them off. I remember watching live as the towers fell. I had never set foot on American soil at this point in my life. I had never heard of the World Trade Center Towers before but I knew that what was happening was changing the world as I watched it happen. remember feeling absolutely convinced that any moment, reports would come in that Tower bridge or Buckingham Palace had been hit, or the Sydney Opera house. I didn't feel removed from the attacks even though they were happening across the ocean. It felt very real and that my loved ones were at risk in the same way the people in New york were.

One year later, almost to the day (September 14th 2002) I flew on a plane for the first time and I landed on United States soil.

In the years since, I have made America my home.

On September 11th 2001 I watched beloved British reporters, wearing no make up because they went on air so fast, report tragic updates of planes crashing into buildings in a land far away. It was frightening to see these usually composed reporters struggling for words, tearful and in shock.

This year, on the ten year anniversary on the event I have been able to watch the live reports that were aired on the 9/11 from New York city. Yesterday, I watched the Today Show footage from that day. Suddenly I saw these events from the eyes of America. I thought I had seen all the footage, but there was some I hadn't seen before. Honestly, I think I still have a sense of complete disbelief that it happened at all.

The tragedy of 9/11 is a reminder that we have to embrace the days we have on earth and make the most of our time here. Today I will hug my loved ones tighter and love them harder. I will say a prayer for all of those who have lost their lives at the hands of terrorists including those who died in the 9/11 attacks and for the families who lost their loved ones. I will live life to the fullest and look for beauty all around me.

Monday, September 5, 2011


There are moments when I sit back and realise how easily a day has gone by. This was one of those days. Ironic that it would be Labor Day here in the US because it has felt decidedly un-work like!

This morning we slept in a little bit, I got up first and took some time out to catch up on reading blogs that I haven't checked in on for a bit and J stayed sleeping. When he did get up about 45 minutes later he came down stairs and made us smoothies for breakfast. They were delicious and a healthy, guilt free start to the day! (side note: I always eat better through the day if I start with healthy breakfast. If I take my time getting up in the morning and graze on whatever I find in the fridge...read, chocolate or frosting or some other un breakfast-y alternative [please don't judge me], then I never seem to get back on a good eating track.

Then we called a friend and made a plan to be out in the GORGEOUS sunshine later in the day which gave us impetus to cross off some things on our house 'to do' list. We got out our green card paper work in order, and almost ready to go. That will be so nice to get off our list!
Put some of my old school books on amazon to sell (and by tonight we had made $80 selling one of the bigger text books. Score)

We were able to do a bunch of little things that have been lingering for way too long and then we headed to green lake to treat ourselves with some frozen yogurt and some time in the sunshine. We even met up with our lovely friends Tim, Sarah and Lucy at the playground for a while which made our outing more enjoyable.

In seasons of stress and tension marriage can be tough. We feel blessed that our marriage has weathered the stress of infertility without too much damage but we have had days, even weeks when we just can't seem to get on the same page. We stopped believing the best in one another and instead chose to quickly believe the worst. I think bickering would be the best word to describe it.

We wanted to work as a team, but struggled to always be the best team mate to one another in the midst of all the emotions flying around. Our trip to Napa, time away together seemed to re set our relational balance or something and this weekend felt like proof of that. We fitted lots into the past few days but now we are sitting here sharing stories, laughing, looking forward to the week.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

What's for Dinner Wednesday - Southwest Chipotle Quinoa Salad

Taking a break from all the adoption conversation to post a What's for dinner post. I have discovered that when I am stressed I lose my appetite...well, that's not strictly true. I develop quite the appetite for chocolate and crisps but regular food, as in anything that needs to be cooked, I have no appetite for. Perhaps I could say that I lose my appetite for cooking. Luckily enough, I still really love to cook for other people and having a chance to take a side to a pot luck has been a great way to ease myself back into the kitchen.

I made this as part of a meal that we put together to celebrate J's mum's retirement. Quinoa can sometimes be bland, but this recipe that I found on dailyhomemade was a wonderful discovery. Full of flavor. We ate this cold as a side with BBQ and ate the leftovers warm for dinner the next day. I think I might have even enjoyed the leftovers better, the flavors had had more time to blend together.

Southwest Chipotle Quinoa Salad

2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup quinoa
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
Zest and juice from one lime
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chipotle chili powder
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups corn
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup diced red onion
Handful cilantro, chopped

Rinse quinoa with water. Place broth and quinoa in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook at a low boil for 15-20 minutes. turn off heat, cover with lid and let sit until ready to use.

To make dressing: combine olive oil, red wine vinegar, lime zest and juice, cumin and chipotle powder.

Toss cooked quinoa with dressing and remaining ingredients. Stir to combine. Serve warm or cold

Friday, September 2, 2011

A whole lot to process

Bright and early this morning Jeremy and I headed to meet with our adoption worker at the agency. After almost two hours of talking through the process, and more details about the adoption situations we are open to considering. This led to more conversation about the leap of faith adoptive parents take any time they bring a drug exposed infant home. There can be minimal long-term effects or severe ones, and there is not a way to tell. Infants can often experience withdrawal symptoms which take extra time, effort and care to keep comfortable as their little bodies clean the drugs out.

This will (most likely) be our reality. This is our truth. It's a harsh one. And one that may slow our process for a while. We want a family but we are still working to surrender to the less than perfect reality that we face through adoption.

We truly believe that God has a plan, and more specifically, God has a child in mind for us. Our agency can tell us that the majority of the children they place have some exposure to drugs or alcohol, but perhaps we will be matched with a child that has not. Or perhaps our child will not come to us through our agency. Perhaps it will be a connection made from friends or family in another location who connect us with someone they know who is wanting to make an adoption plan. Perhaps we would actually conceive and have a successful pregnancy? Perhaps letting my thoughts linger on all the 'what-if's' allows me the freedom not to face this present reality.

We could be fortunate and be blessed with a child through adoption that has no medical issues but a part of me keeps thinking, "why should we be so lucky?" Clearly there are many babies coming into the world struggling with drug withdrawal, and many couples wanting to have children. Why should we get a healthy baby? We have resources that perhaps make us more equipped in some ways to care for a child who will have physical or emotional struggles, in the short term, or even long term.

I just don't want to.

I know that even if we had a baby of our own they could have issues that we have no control over. But usually the people offering that comfort are people who have had biological children that have not been born with any special needs or struggles. So yes, I know that there are no guarantees, but it seems easier to get my head around caring for a child that we have created who has a struggle that we could have done nothing to prevent than to knowingly open ourselves up to a child that had been exposed to drugs and could suffer lifelong consequences because of that. It's selfish I know. But I want the chance to raise a healthy child. I know that many people who adopt children have just that. But the wait for a healthy baby could leave us childless for many years to come.

My heart is heavy with this decision. The peace and confidence I had felt when we started this journey is fading, and I want it back. I need Jesus to reach down and squeeze my hand, to tell me he is here, to reveal what we should do next. I hope that if God was asking us to take on a child with special needs we would be obedient. It would be a hard. But when you have than sense of God's calling and God's purpose coming to be it can be easier to step out in faith. Right now I am just afraid. I do not feel as though we sense God's specific call or direction in our adoption. So where do we go from here? I am afraid to take the next step, but equally afraid to stay put.

Do we abandon our dream of having an infant for the dream of having a healthy child through international adoption? Or do we move forward in our domestic infant adoption and accept that our child may not be healthy or do we wait and and hope that we get chosen by a women who has taken good care of herself and her child during pregnancy? Would I feel blessed by that last outcome, or feel guilty that another couple would lose that chance? It would be a mixed blessing for sure.

This whole adoption process is dragging my faith across the coals. Its pulling the very core of who I though I was along with it.

My sense of entitlement is glaring, my idealism and desire for control becoming clearer through every conversation. I don't like this, I don't like who I am in the midst of this process. I hope that God continues to refine me, my hopes, my dreams and my heart to be all that he desires. Because I know that as I draw closer to Him he will give me the desires of my heart. (Psalm 37:4) I know that his plans are to give me a future and a hope, not to destroy me.(Jeremiah 29:11)

I just want so much to be on the other side of all of this. To have my family, to have our children in our arms to know the little ones we will love and care for and not just be thinking of them as a set of criteria. I want to be on the other side looking back. I want to be telling the story of how it all happened, not living it. It hurts.

To God be the glory, great things he has done.

Lord, please give me your grace. I really, really need it.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother - Part 2

Firstly I have to say a huge thank you to all of you who left kind and encouraging words and prayers in response to yesterday's post. Your gentleness was a balm to my weary, anxious heart. Thanks you, thank you. This next post has been in the work for a little while. It is another reflection from Jana Wolff's 'Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother' and seem to fit well with the head space I am in at the moment.

"As special as it was to witness this birth, I could do nothing to soften it's hard reality: I had been there, I had seen it, and I could never pretend that this baby had arrived by magic, in joyful ambivalence. I could never look at him without seeing her."(73-74)

I imagine that this will be one of the pieces of the adoption process that will be hardest for me. I have wanted to be a mum for as long as I can remember. I want to be the one a baby looks to for comfort, who's voice they recognize first. I want to be everything to my children. And the adoption process as beautiful as it is, doesn't offer me that illusion in the way having a biological child would. (Perhaps that is a good thing...perhaps that is the point, perhaps that is where my faith must grow...perhaps, perhaps, perhaps)

I say illusion because ultimately our children will belong to God. Whether they come from my body and share my genetics or not. They are never only mine, or only ours. However children find their way into our hearts and homes, they firstly and always belong to God.

He loves them and cares about them more than we can imagine or match. We can love with everything inside us, but God will always out love us.

There is no way that I can be everything to my children, they will need God's strength, grace, compassion to be all they are designed to be. So my job will be to teach them about Him by modeling all those things, and showing my own dependence on God day by day...suddenly, my illusion of being capable of being everything my child wold need begins to crumble -in a good way!

For our adoption story to be complete, we need there to be a mother who chooses us to parent her child. She will never be out of the equation, she is an intimate piece of this puzzle. Our child will always wonder about this woman, and may well feel a sense of loss or confusion as they begin to more fully understand the story of how they came to our family. We can hope and pray that their birth mother's choice will be understood, and that she will be known to our child in a way that eliminates some of the mystery and offers some answers and for our child, but we have no way of knowing beforehand who if her desire and situation will allow for this 'ideal' open adoption scenario.

I can never pretend that I am my baby's world. There will always be another women sharing the mother piece in their heart. While this mother may not be the one waking for night feeds or caring for them when they are sick, this woman will have given them life, and that can never and will never be forgotten. I really hope that our circumstance will allow us to embrace our child's birth mother as an extension of our family. That is our prayer.

I know that I will be mama, 'tucks them in every night' mama. My child will only have one of those, but I also hope God will give me grace as I share that Mother piece of our child's heart with their biological mother, the courageous woman who gave them life and made a choice out of love, that gave us the opportunity to be parents.

So while it may be hard at times to feel as though I will be sharing my child, I hope and pray that this feeling will be soothed by the revelation that they were never mine to begin with, that they were a gift and that it is my job as mama to love them and help them to become all they were created to be. Our story will include imperfect situations, no ones 'first choice' as Jana Wolff wrote. I know in my own strength this could cast a dark shadow over our journey, but in Him I can see that we have been given the responsibility to join in with the story he was writing not only in our lives, but also in the lives of others who find themselves pregnant and unable to parent. This is a story beyond ourselves, outside our white picket fence.

God perfect reality for our lives. Made possible only through His grace.

This blog represents a steady flow of emotions. I am a girl, it's just how we roll. While it may seem like a roller coaster - trust me it feels that way in real life - everything I write is from my heart, poor spelling included!


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