The Power of Sisterhood—Our Adoption Story Part 2

My good friend over at Rich Faith Rising is sharing beautiful adoption stories on her blog this month in honor of National Adoption Month. I had the honor of telling our two adoption stories. Here is the story of our first adoption: A Diagnosis Changed Everything—Our Adoption Story Part 1. Head over to Rich Faith Rising to read more inspirational adoption stories and be blessed!

Our oldest daughter was about 18 months old when I got the wild idea that I was ready to try the process again. We had been told that it could take 2 years or even longer to adopt, and I didn’t want our children to have a big gap between them. My husband agreed to begin the process again thinking it would be at least a year before we welcomed another baby home.

We decided on independent adoption again, using the same adoption attorney and social worker as we did the first time around. This time, the home study was quicker and easier as we just had to update it. Plus, we were experienced now. We now realized the social worker wanted to approve us and wasn’t looking for us to fail.

Once again, we completed the home study in December, but this time it was 2006. We again received many hope-filled calls while we waited. One birth mom had twins in Florida. One was 32 years old. But, none of these were the situation the Lord had for us. Eventually, our attorney contacted us to tell us about a birth mom who was interested in our profile. She had narrowed it down to two families and wanted to meet us both.

We went to meet with her and her family and were instantly at ease. We really liked the whole family. How could we actually feel comfortable in such a situation? Because the Lord had brought us together.

There was something about the other family she met with that was drawing her to them. And, we were told that although she did like us, she had decided on the other family.

This was disappointment down to the core. Disappointed but yet still drawn to this birth mom and her unborn baby.

A couple of weeks passed when we unexpectedly received a call from the birth mom’s adoption counselor. She informed us that the other family had decided they wanted to adopt a girl because they already had two boys. So, although we were runner’s up, we were now the top choice as the other family was out of the running. This particular birth mom was expecting a boy and we were open to either a boy or a girl.

A couple of more months passed, and it was nearing the birth mom’s due date. We were able to get together with her and her family a couple of times and our relationship grew closer. Finally the day came when the birth mom’s adoption counselor called us to tell us the baby was here! Even while on the phone with her, I began getting our stuff together to head to the hospital. “Wait!” she said, “there is something I need to tell you about the baby.” She kind of hemmed and hawed a bit and then finally spewed out, “It’s a girl!”

“What?”

“A girl.”

I was speechless. The ultrasound clearly said male but the baby was now out of the womb and was definitely a girl!

A flood of emotions rushed over me. “You mean that other family could have had their girl? But, we get her? We were the 2nd choice but yet here we are…blessed with another girl!”

We were overjoyed. Abby was perfect. Another perfect baby. Full-term and beautiful. She was calm, slept well, and ate well.

Mikayla and Abby first pic

Down the road we have discovered some sensory and learning difficulties. The Lord is refining me as her mom and teacher to see her wonderful uniqueness, her precious heart, and her love of fun.

One of the reasons I was overjoyed by the discovery that she was in fact a girl was because of my own sister.

Abby and Mikayla babies

My sister and I had a rocky relationship growing up. Ours was one full of competition, envy, bitterness, and anger. But, when our parents divorced when I was 12 and she was 15, we were drawn to each other in a way that no one else could compare. Our parents were hurting and were not yet able to truly be there for us. But, we found that we had each other. God had given us the gift of sisterhood. This gift has only become stronger in our adult life.

Our 12 year old is really beginning to go through the grieving process of adoption. She is experiencing the loss in a deep way. We have had several heart to heart talks about the pain and also the healing and hope that is coming. The other day as we were processing some adoption pain together, she looked at me with big eyes and asked, “Is Abby going to feel this deep pain, too?”

Abby and MIkayla jammies

“I can’t say for sure, baby girl. She might.”

With pleading eyes she said to me, “Oh, I don’t want her to have to go through this, too. No, I don’t want her to feel this pain, too.”

“But, what better way to use your pain for good? We can work through this pain together, relating to each other like no one else can.”

Sisters. Theirs is a rocky, at times even unsafe relationship right now. But, the healing. Oh, the healing that is coming. The bond the Lord is bringing. The connection through grief.

Sisters, thank God for sisters.

Abby and Mikayla girls

And, thank God for choosing me to parent these jewels.

My girls each have shirts which read, Chosen. They proudly wear these shirts. But, oh sweet, girls, it is me that is the chosen one. Chosen by God to be your mom, the greatest title I will ever know. 

A Diagnosis Changed Everything—Our Adoption Story Part 1

In honor of National Adoption Month, my friend at Rich Faith Rising is sharing real life adoption stories. I was honored to share our story. Be sure to hop over to Rich Faith Rising to read inspirational adoption stories.

Oh, I was certain I was ready to be a parent. I began babysitting as soon as the neighbors allowed me to watch their children. I had worked at daycares and preschools. I had my own classroom in a public school for 6 years at that point. I was ready!

Oh, the naivety. Oh, the denial. Oh, the trust from the Father!

Shortly after getting married, my husband and I learned that it would be incredibly risky for me to get pregnant due to an ultra-rare blood disease I have called, aHUS (atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome).

I wasn’t very surprised that the doctor strongly suggested considering other methods to become parents, but it still felt very final and heartbreaking all at the same time.

I wasn’t raised to give up, so I immediately began considering different possibilities. Surrogacy, adoption, fostering? My husband wasn’t ready yet. He needed time to process that our story was not going to be the typical story of getting married, soon after getting pregnant, and then having babies.

It didn’t take long though and after about a month he was ready to talk about it again. I can remember we were driving home from our one year wedding anniversary vacation, a road trip to Glacier National Park in Montana. We were almost home and I said, “Just think a birth mom could be pregnant right now with our baby!” Little did we know, she was!

Through divine intervention we learned that a good friend of ours had an uncle that was a well-known adoption attorney in Seattle. We were told we could have a free consultation appointment with him. We wrote down all of our questions and went to meet him. He explained the differences between independent adoption and adopting through an agency.

My husband would say I have always had too much energy and focus so the independent route sounded perfect for us because it would keep me busy! We would create our own website, business cards, posters, and profile with a photo album to get the word out to birth moms that we were ready to adopt.

We completed our home study with a social worker and on December 23rd 2004, we were all signed off and ready to fully commence our search. Everyday I tried to leave a business card someplace with our contact information. We received several calls from birth moms considering placing their unborn babies for adoption. Each time my hopes soared! One birth mom even told us we were the ones she had chosen, only to never hear from her again. I am not going to lie, this was devastating. And not proudly, I instantly began to doubt God’s plans for us.

After that fail, it was literally 2 weeks later we learned about a lovely birth mom that wanted to meet us that coming weekend. We learned that their had been drug use during the pregnancy. We also learned that the birth mom had a previous child two years prior that had many problems at birth as well as a definite birth mark. We had said to ourselves that due to my health condition, we would not be adopting a special needs child and this included any babies who were impacted by drugs and alcohol. So why were we both drawn to this unborn baby immediately? Because she was to be ours! We went to meet the birth mom and one week later, less than 5 months after completing our home study, our baby was born!

She was perfect. The nurses gave her a 10 on the Apgar test and claimed they never do that! But this one was perfect. My husband and I could not take our eyes off her. We stared at her in the hospital. We took turns staring at her on the drive home. And, then we stared at her once we got her home.

This perfect baby of ours cried a lot. There was little that consoled her except getting out of the house and moving aorund. She loved being in the front pack and being on the move. She absolutely would not sleep without cuddling, swaddling, and rocking for hours. She was so unlike my friend’s baby whom I had taken care of for months. My friend’s baby would sleep any where. The car, the couch, the stroller, the floor! Literally anywhere. My baby would not sleep. She could not shut out the world.

Looking back, I was in denial. She was very healthy. She was born full-term. All of her fingers, toes, and organs were fully developed. But, this inability to self-soothe and prolonged crying was not normal. Looking back, I wish we had sought help from a doctor who specialized in adoption. I wish I had been able to look at her and trust that God would help her and us and not just deny the problems.

But, God is so very faithful.

Little by little, as we’ve grown in our walk with the Lord, we’ve been able to look more humbly at our need for help. We’ve been able to accept our daughter’s imperfections as well as our own. The Lord continually shows us that we are the perfect parents for our daughter and she is the perfect child for us.

Nothing has grown my faith and trust in the Father and nothing has yielded fruit as much as parenting my children has.

Wrestling Through the Proof

The overwhelming emotion from the night before is lighter. Sleep has a way of softening us. Meeting eyes. Last nights eyes filled with anger, self-preservation, and hurt are softer after a night of sleep, now gentler, able to see what is truly in front of her.

orange fall tree

We hug, an embrace neither of us want to let go. I hold tighter. Praying the love from my heart will penetrate her‘s. Fill her emptiness. Fill the hurt places. Fill the untrusting places. I won’t be the first to let go. This time she’ll leave my embrace confident of my love. Last night’s hurting words just a memory. A forgiven memory. No longer stinging but lingering. Longing for healing.

Oh, girl, that you would know the depth of my love. That you would know the tears cried. That you would know the prayers uttered on your behalf. That you would know the longing for you before you even existed. That you would know that what you seek from me will never be enough. That it’s the eternal love of the Father that your soul is longing for.

Whether adopted at birth or later into childhood, it seems that children must wrestle with accepting the love of their adoptive parents. They must learn to trust. It’s not a given but instead it’s a working out, a wrestle to determine that although their basic needs were not met by the ones who were supposed to meet those needs, nonetheless, their needs are being provided for.

Our children have never once lived a day on this earth without their needs being met. They have always had enough. Enough food, enough water, enough warmth, enough cleanliness. When their little cries were heard, their needs were met.

Yet, there is a need. A need to prove they are safe. A need to prove their family can be trusted. A need to prove they have enough.

It’s the same wrestling I have done for years with the Lord.

He tells me, “He is the bread of life and if I just come to Him, I will not be hungry.” John 6:35. And my response is, “Prove it.”

He tells me, “You were chosen by me before the creation of the world.” Ephesians 1:4. My response is, “Prove it.”

He tells me, “I loved you first, even while you were still sinning.” Romans 5:8 and 1 John 4:19. And, again, my response is, “Prove it.”

Finally, I feel her shoulders start to drop, pull back slightly. I hold on. And then take a step back, look her in the eye and plead, “Just trust me. I am for you. My love is never-ending.”

Just as Jesus through His Word and through His Spirit pleads with me, reminds me, brings me back to, “Just trust me. Trust me. I am for you, not against you. Just trust me.”

jeff, me and mikayla at lake chelan

 

From Pity to Gratitude

Groggy, quiet, and contemplative I enter my prayer closet this morning. Holding my hot coffee in one hand, I open the closet door with the other hand. Upon opening the door, I am filled with defeat from a night of tossing and turning with doubt and hopelessness.  Yet at the same time, I remember Hopeful Expectation, the promise the Lord keeps whispering.

tunnel opening

I enter the closet, overcome with envy, self-pity, and discouragement. Envy over the moms who have children that can get themselves ready in the morning. Envy over the children who got ideal starts in this world. Envy over kids who are able to hold two thoughts in their minds and complete those tasks. Pity for myself for the elaborate measures I take to help my kids follow simple routines. Discouragement over the lack of progress seen.

Stepping into the closet and then plopping down on my pillow, I begin my seeking. Matthew 7: 7, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”  

I come filled with ugliness, but seek the Beautiful One. I come filled with doubt, but seek the One filled with answers. I come full of myself  but leave filled with His Spirit.

As I begin my study and prayer time, I am reminded of how Jesus taught the disciples to pray in Matthew 6:

This, then, is how you should pray:

‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
 on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
 And forgive us our debts,
 as we also have forgiven our debtors.
 And lead us not into temptation,
 but deliver us from the evil one.’

 

I remember my Father in heaven who leans in to listen to me, who meets me there before I even awake. I remember my need for Him and His ability alone to meet my daily needs. I remember His heart to forgive me (even my stinking pity party) and my need to forgive all those around me. I remember to seek Him to deliver me away from the temptation of self-pity.

This morning, He changed my pity into gratitude. This morning, I entered my time with the Lord covered with stains. This morning, I left my time time with the Lord with one last whisper, “Lord, that I’d stay connected to you all day today, that this wouldn’t be the end. That it would just be the beginning of our day together.”

Thank you, Lord, for these children that keep me at Your feet…keep me coming back to You. Keep me seeking You for wisdom, peace, encouragement, and hope. Amen.

No Longer an Orphan

Searching for identity

purpose

belonging

Overwhelming loneliness

Longing to be filled

Suffocating need to achieve

Carrying a heavy burden

Always striving

………………………………..

Hearing the whisper

Accepting the call

Reading the truth

      I am chosen

                  redeemed 

                  marked with a seal

                  heir of Christ

His workmanship

bought with His blood

filled with His fullness

                  adopted as His own

      No longer an orphan

freedom

New Patterns of Grace

Mother’s Day. An opportunity to remember the effort, love, and sacrifices my own mom made for me. A chance to be thankful for the brave birth mothers who helped make me a mother. A day to look on my children with love and awe and marvel at the reasons I am allowed to partake in this day.

me and the girls

Looking upon the year leading up to this day, reflecting on the changes, the growth, the disappointments, the trials, and the joy; my heart feels both heavy and lighter at the same time.

A day to reflect. How am I doing as a mother? The most important role I will ever fill. Am I still stuck in some of the patterns of the year before? Or, am I moving toward what the Lord has for me? Am I pushing past old destructive ways? Am I looking for patterns which lead to life for my family?

lake padden

These questions fill my mind and to be honest, they’ve been keeping me awake at night.

As moms, we are so hard on ourselves. Second guessing decisions. Replaying scenarios in our minds. Beating ourselves up for our shortcomings. Allowing guilt and sometimes even condemnation to steal our days. Comparing ourselves to others or to some ideal we hold in our mind. Seeing our children’s behavior as a reflection of our own failures.

These are patterns which lead to death for ourselves and our families.

The Lord is revealing a different way to me.

It begins with grace.

Grace: Favor or goodwill. A manifestation of favor. Mercy. Pardon. Unmerited favor and love of God. The influence or Spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.

Ahh..Just reading the word grace, followed by the definition is like a deep breath. My body loosens. My shoulders drop. My breathing slows.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,  not of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2: 4-10

Oh those words, the Lord’s words to us, well up in me like an everlasting flowing river. A river of grace and mercy. His love for me was alive and well when I was dead in my trespasses. 

On your worst day. He loved you.

On my worst day. He loved me.

Am I loving that way? Am I loving my family when they behave well? Am I loving them when they are acting in an undesirable way?

Are my facial expressions conveying love and grace?

Is my tone showing love despite their behavior?

Are my words leading to life for my family regardless of how they are acting?

Through His grace and love pouring into me, He is showing me how to extend grace to my family. He is reminding me to be patient with myself. He is showing me when I just need to breathe. He is showing me how to love my children and care deeply for them, while still separating myself from their choices. He is opening my eyes to what a heartfelt apology can bring to my loved ones. He is lowering my shoulders and filling me with His breath, His grace, His love.

3 grace-filled statements for mom’s this Mother’s day, taken right from the Ephesians 2 verses above:

  1. We are no longer dead to our sin. We are made alive by Christ. I can breathe easier and become unstuck because He has freed me from my sin.
  2. We are saved by faith, not by our works. I am not saved based on anything I have done or anything I will do. I am saved based on who He is and what He has already done on the cross.
  3. We were created by God to the good works He prepared for us to do. No longer do I need to strive in my own power, my own wisdom and knowledge. He has gone before me and prepared the way.

This good, good news of the cross and His love and grace over me, frees me to rest. Rest in Him.

by the lake

Dear momma, find your rest in  Him. Allow Him to reveal His grace to you. Be filled with His unconditional love. Rest in His everlasting river of mercy. He loves you so much. This year, begin your new patterns of grace.

Finding Unity in the Trials

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4: 30-32

 

In Raising Your Spirited Child, author Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, writes, “Throw out messages that divide you such as, she’s manipulating me, she’s testing me, she’s being defiant, she’s out of control.” 

I am guilty of listening to and focusing on my inner voice say these types of statements whenever my children are acting out.

Kurcinka discusses the importance of not pitting yourselves against each other in your mind. Act as a team. The divisive self-talk, criticizing my children in my mind causes bitterness. The underlying root of this negativity is bitterness.

This behavior, my acting out this negativity,  is grieving the Holy Spirit.

When I look at my child, listen to my child with the intent to listen, understand and sympathize, then I am acting as Christ does toward me with kindness, a tender heart and forgiveness. No longer am I grieving the Spirit, but rather I am teaming with the Spirit. The Spirit as the lead and me following. I am also teaming with my child, not working against her or viewing us as working against each other. We are partnering.

unity

With this renewed mind, I am filled with peace. No longer does my child’s behavior or my behavior feel out of control. And since out of control equates to hopeless, no longer does our situation feel hopeless.

No longer do I view our parent/child interactions as being apart from God.

I see His hand in our interactions.

I see Him allowing trials for our benefit.

The heightened emotions, the lacking skills, the quick outbursts, the rapidly shifting moods, the intensity, the exact temperament of my children…all part of God’s purpose and design to refine me.

Whether your children are adopted, as mine are, or they entered your family naturally, the Lord placed them there. His plan was for you to be their parent and them to be your child. You may experience a great mismatch in temperament, personality, style, and habits, but unity comes when we stop grieving the Spirit.

Oh, Lord, forgive me for my bitterness, anger, clamor, evil-speaking. Forgive me for grieving your Spirit. Thank you for your kindness, tender heart, and forgiveness. Lord, continue to soften our hearts to the refinement that comes from the trials you allow. Please bring refinement so we can better love one another, the way you love us. Amen.

color class pic