When Words Are Weary And Joy Runs Deep

I originally wrote this post back in June of this year and have hesitated posting it.  By now I don’t even know if it’s an accurate reflection of where I am right now… but since this was a real part of my story when I wrote it, I thought I should probably share it — even after the fact.  I want this blog to be an honest look at our adoption journey as a whole.  So here it is!  

*     *     *

Sometimes… you get a little weary of words.  You get weary of words in answers.  Weary of lengthy explanations — words that somehow don’t seem to quite satisfy the simple inquiry, no matter how you try to untangle and clean them up.  (The web is already written on their face.)  You even get weary of the words in short answers — especially when it’s the same one over and over.

I don’t mean I dislike questions… The excitement in someone’s voice, the interest expressed in merely bringing up our adoption: these things are encouraging and make me extremely grateful.  Sometimes I just wish this process was as easy as a quick reply.  I wish it was a simple as an uncomplicated explanation.  The truth is, the path to adoption isn’t a straight, quick-and-easy one.  I don’t think I ever expected it to be.  (Nor do I necessarily think it should be.)  But somehow that expectation is challenged just a little bit any time a hopeful, well-intending person asks how it’s going, have we heard anything — now that it’s been a while since we started this journey.

The short answer is simply that out of all the expectant mothers who are looking at profile books (and we don’t know how many or how often), we have not been chosen yet.  It can take a long time, and there is no waiting list or certain number of people ahead of us.

As much as I would like to say, “Oh didn’t you hear?  We got the call, it’s happening in two weeks — we’ll send you a photo!” sometimes I just have to smile and say “thank you.”  And hope it’s ok.

I actually really do love when people ask how it’s going.  (That’s the part I want you to hear — and the whole reason I have hesitated publishing this post.)  We love knowing you’re interested, we love having your support, and we love how questions lead to the most amazing, lengthy conversations about adoption.  We had one just recently that reignited a spark inside of me that I was SO grateful to feel.  So grateful to share.  Those conversations are such a gift.  The best SHORT conversation I’ve had in a while was just recently, too — beginning with a question that was both gentle and genuine…  Not seeking the happily-ever-after answer, just sincere care in its tone.  No expectations.  Kind of an understood recognition that this is our life and our feelings and a real experience.

I realize this is not anything new for any season of life.  (How often do those of you who are single hear, “So when are you getting married??”)

Right now it’s just tough because there is this unspoken excitement in the air about being in the “waiting” phase.  It’s a very exciting time (for sure!!) — but there is nothing about being in this waiting time that means it’s going to happen any time soon.  So the tension is to balance the deep appreciation for people’s excitement with your own daily reckoning of what this season means for you.

And that’s just the honest words of a waiting mama.

The unfolding art of finding a balance between letting my guard down/not being prepared, and also not living each day on the edge of my seat.  Neither one is good, and neither one is a truthful expectation.  The real truth is: It will happen when it happens.  And God is in control.

I especially need to remember this in the waiting phase — it’s so easy to think you have some control when you’ve got paperwork to fill out and appointments to make and trainings to attend… right? :)

The weariness I sometimes feel after answering questions is not at all a reflection of the person asking — turns out, it’s my own refinement in areas of humility and grace and patience.  It’s God’s work in me!  Honestly, this is an incredible time.  We are so grateful and joyful in hope — AND excited (are you kidding me?!?!).  But I also just want to shed a little light.  It’s been a year and a half.  Sometimes people will see me and all of a sudden it makes them think about the adoption and they get super excited.  And that’s great!!  But when words sound weary, and they don’t exactly match the jubilant intensity of the question — it’s just that I’m wearing that question every day.  Wishing I could tell you what you’d love to hear, but knowing that the answer is yet to be known…

{ This is when I really appreciate the philosophy of our agency, Bethany Christian Services: that they aren’t out to find a child for every family but to find a forever family for every child.  That’s a big difference.  It’s not about us. }

But the real joy?  The real joy is tucked away somewhere deep inside a heart trusting in God’s timing… hidden much deeper than an outward response.  It’s what consistently drives each new day… resting on an unshakable, silently smiling truth that can’t be found in that honeymoon-phase excitement — but rather in the abiding, steadfast joy found in God’s goodness and sovereignty here and now.

Sometimes I love that we don’t have answers and we don’t know when.  It means that God is completely in control.  Our non-control is where we rest in His perfect sovereignty.

That’s where joy runs deep.

Even when words are weary.

signature

Thoughts and Updates

Summer has officially hit Wilmington, and I am love. ing. it… The weather has been absolutely gorgeous the past few weeks!  Even though we’ve had a lot to do at home that has kept us indoors, I’ve managed one pool day with girlfriends and we plan to hit the beach on Saturday to celebrate Trey’s birthday (which is tomorrow!!).

Our home inspection this past Thursday went really well.  Our social worker had a lot of grace with us: Several boxes remain unpacked, and pictures are not on the walls, but she said she was impressed with how much had been done in only a couple weeks. :)  We were “approved” (again), and now we just have to get our assessment updated (including new financial records, etc.), and we will become a waiting family again by JUNE 1ST!  Yay!

Yesterday being Mothers Day, I have to say I am very thankful that the day was not awkward or hard or uncomfortable for me…  It can be a difficult day for many mamas-in-waiting — just another reminder of what they don’t yet have.  I typically see a lot written about this in the blog world that I follow, as well as on social media, and I can totally understand that feeling of not-yet…

Holidays are just hard.  For many people, they are the most wonderful days of the year, and for others they are like salt in an ever-open wound…  Yesterday, I just felt very blessed and protected from any hard feelings.  Last year, Mothers Day was really exciting as we had just submitted our formal application to adopt the month before.  This year, even though a baby is still not a reality for us yet, I still felt really grateful.  Mostly for all the women in my life currently who have either mothered me in some way and/or shown me the kind of mother I want to be: my amazing mom and mother-in-law, my sister, my sweet living grandmother… The focus on these women helped a great deal.  As well as knowing my time will come.  And friends and family members were so sweet with gestures of cards and texts and even flowers.  The bottom line on all of that: I am so blessed to have such thoughtful people in my life!

I have to admit, it’s been strangest at work…  I have begun training several different people on different aspects of what I do, in preparation for my maternity leave — although we don’t know exactly when that will come.  I feel bad about not having those answers, not knowing quite how much to give up or turn over… but the good news is, as always, God does.

I saw a devotion from My Utmost for His Highest the other day that I just loved and had to share with Trey:

If Jesus ever gave us a command He could not enable us to fulfill, He would be a liar: and if we make our inability a barrier to obedience, it means we are telling God there is something He has not taken into account.  Every element of self-reliance must be slain by the power of God.  Complete weakness and dependence will always be the occasion for the Spirit of God to manifest His power.

Isn’t it the truth?

At the beginning of every month, Trey and I sit down to review our budget from the previous month.  We have categories for everything we spend our money on and make adjustments as necessary in these monthly reviews.  We have been saving in the “child college” category since we first got married, and I can remember those first several months laughing that we might just maybe have enough for a textbook.  It’s pretty cool to see what slow, committed faithfulness will do to each category over time.  We have about enough for maybe half a semester at this point, and it’s not much… but it’s something.  And I think that’s how we most honor God: not with a big-bang decision to adopt, but slow, committed trust in His word over time…  That’s where we are right now.

In our current series at church, our pastor has talked about seeking God’s presence more than His direction.  He asked, “Would you rather be in the place you want to be without God, or right where you are with God?”  I can’t think of a better manifesto for the waiting period in adoption (or “waiting to wait,” like us).  It’s a privilege to know that God is inviting us to trust Him with His timing.  In any case, as our pastor reminded us, “Eternal beings are never in a hurry.” ;)

That was a bunch of random thoughts and updates, but I’m trying hard to just remain really honest on here and capture these snapshots in time of exactly how we are feeling and what we’re experiencing.  I especially want to thank everyone who provided encouragement and expressed thanks for my post on April 10th, “The Journey to Here (An Honest Account): Part 2.”  It was really humbling to receive such appreciation!!  That was a really hard thing for me to post, so I can’t tell you what it means to hear even one expression of impact.  So I leave you with a small suggestion: Share your stories… Never underestimate them.  They are so powerful!!

signature

When Adoption is Like Mount Everest

Well…

We’re “on hold.”

After all the excitement these past couple weeks, our adoption process is officially on hold.

A lot can change in just a few days!

With the good news of our condo being under contract, I’ve been in touch with our social worker about what that means for our adoption process.  Of course we will need to get an inspection done of our new place when we move.  This is just a quick visit, as we learned before… but we don’t move until the end of the month, our social worker comes down to do the inspection in May, and then she has to update our assessment.

So she said we have two options:  We could either be put “on hold” temporarily until everything is updated, OR we could continue allowing them to show our profile book to expectant parents, knowing that, if we are chosen during this time, the baby would have to reside in interim care until everything is complete.

We would like to avoid an interim-care situation.  So we chose to be put on hold.  (Which means: no chance of getting the call about a baby until our waiting period picks back up again, at least until some time in May.)

It was kind of a tough thing to hear… especially when we had just become a waiting family.  But it all just means that God has a specific baby in mind that we’re not supposed to meet yet.  The timing is perfect because it’s His timing.  And truly… after a couple days into our “hold”… it’s really a blessing.  We can finally get settled somewhere, start a nursery, have what we need, and be more prepared.  So even though it’s unexpected — it’s exactly right.

They always said the adoption process is a roller-coaster ride.

Actually, I think it’s a lot like climbing Mount Everest…

A month ago in Nepal, our mission team was often mistaken for “trekkers.”  We’d state where we were from as we traveled around the country, mostly living out of our backpacks, and people would automatically assume: “Ah, trekkers.”  Being that Mount Everest is located in Nepal, along with a slew of other recording-holding Himalayan peaks, it’s a world-renowned destination for hiking and other outdoor adventures.  In fact, we actually met a guy on our connecting flight from Qatar to Kathmandu who was on his way to climb Base Camp 1.  We also spent time with someone on staff at Tiny Hands in Nepal who had done the same climb herself.

height

Heights outside of Pokhara.

One thing I had learned before is that, to climb Mount Everest, you can’t exactly go straight from the bottom up to the top (like one would assume: Point A to Point B).  You climb to Base Camp 1… and then you have to come all the way back down to the bottom.  Then you might do that yet again before climbing up to the next level… and then come all the way back down again.  It’s all about “climatization,” acclimating your body to the dangerously high altitudes.  When your body isn’t used to such heights, you can’t just survive in that environment all at once; you have to slowly acclimate.

The creeping up only to turn around and go straight back down seems frustrating and counterintuitive and inefficient.

But the thing is:

Even when you’re stopped or headed in the exact opposite direction… it’s still progress.  

You have to go through that process in order to make progress.

So here we are, seemingly being “held back,” when in the bigger picture — ultimately — we are moving forward.  Being under contract is exactly what we wanted to happen, and this “hold” is just a part of the process of the timing we’re in.

Necessary to get from here to there.

A part of our story that God is writing.

And if faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains… who’s afraid of a little altitude?

signature

Answers to Questions

Hi, all! :)

First of all, I just have to say how much we appreciate everyone’s excitement…  Thank you for your genuine love and support!  Your excitement in general just feels so encouraging!

We’ve gotten tons of questions recently, and a lot of them concern where we are in the process right now.  (Be sure to check out our “FAQs” page for answers to other Frequently Asked Questions about our adoption in general — under “Menu” if viewing from your phone.)  I don’t know if I’ve done the best job of explaining everything here… and I know it’s still so confusing when you’re not living it every day like us… so I thought I would list a bunch of answers here on the blog in hopes of being helpful!!

If you don’t see your answer below — or, hey, even if you do — we still welcome questions and will be happy to answer any you continue to have.  We don’t mind a bit!  We had all of these same questions before we started this process, and believe me, we’ve heard it all and more… so please don’t be afraid!  I just hope this helps clear some things up…

Yes!  We are sooooo excited!!!

We do not have a baby yet (or know who the baby is, or know who the birthmother is, etc…).  We have recently become a “waiting family,” which basically means we are “eligible” to adopt.  The time up until now has been spent getting to that point: paperwork, interviews, training, completion of our home study, etc.  So “waiting” means that we are now among the pool of potential adoptive parents that our agency (Bethany) is working with to find homes for children in need.

Once they make an adoption plan, expectant parents look through the profile books of families like us to choose whom they want to parent their baby.  So right now, we are waiting to get the call that we have been chosen.  At that point, we will know who the birthmother is and then be waiting for a specific baby to arrive.

We do not have a timeframe; we could get “the call” mentioned above at any time!  It could be tomorrow, in three weeks, in five months, or a year…  It all depends on when we are chosen!  Our motto these days is to be prepared and to simply trust.  We’ll see what happens!

We do not know when the baby will be born in relation to when we get the call.  It all depends on how far along the expectant mother is in her pregnancy.  When we get the call that we have been chosen, she could still have two months to go until delivery, or she could be ready to have the baby two days later.  (Yep — we’ve heard those stories.)  No matter how much notice we get, more than likely we will be getting a newborn and it be will a scenario where we will bring the baby home from the hospital.

We are doing domestic infant adoption, which means we’ll be adopting a baby from the U.S.  Our baby could be here in North Carolina, or we might be taking a road trip to another state!

I will be getting 12 weeks of maternity leave.  I get the same rights as a mother having a baby biologically… which I am so grateful for because that bonding time will be crucial!

We do not know if it will be a boy or girl.  We did not specify a gender.

We do not have any news.  When we get the call, that is it!  That’s the news!  (And you will definitely know!!!)  At that point, we will learn who the expectant parent(s) is/are, when the baby is due, probably the gender, the location, etc.  So until then… we wait.

Yes, you most definitely can pray for us! :)  Pray for patience and trust in God’s timing and provision for us, but please also pray for the birthmother/parents and the baby.  While it is many beautiful things, adoption is also a traumatic experience for birthparents and baby — a great loss in their lives no matter what the “best decision” may be.  For the baby, the sounds, smell, movement, sensations, etc. that he/she has come to know and be familiar with about their mother for the past nine months will suddenly be taken away… and although Trey and I have lots of love to give, earning that trust and bonding with the baby will take time and healing.  As far as the birthmother, she is a real person with real struggles — just like any of us.  We pray for not just an opportunity to minister but also to truly build a relationship.  Currently, I ask you for prayer for the circumstances surrounding her life: her choices, her health, her environment, and most especially that she knows and feels the love of God.  Of course, there are the usual prayer requests for anyone as first-time parents — we welcome those, too! ;)

Yes; adoption can cost a lot of money.  I wasn’t going to tackle this answer here, since it’s a bit complicated and warrants more of a conversation than a one-sided dialog, but the short version is:  Agencies are businesses, and they could not exist or do what they do if there was no charge.  With domestic infant adoption, agencies are helping find homes for babies whose mothers have chosen to make an adoption plan instead of having an abortion (please see our “Facts & Stats” page for more details).  Unlike children who are removed from their homes due to neglect or abuse (for example, foster care), there is no government funding for a child that is voluntarily placed for adoption.  Our cost to the agency not only pays for them as a nonprofit organization to pay their social workers, cover operational expenses, and advertise to expectant mothers seeking help, but they also provide us (the adoptive parents) with resources, guidance, and training to make sure we are equipped and prepared, and make sure our adoption is legal and ethical.  Probably the best reason we pay a cost to our agency is for the care and counseling they provide to birthparents.  Bethany’s philosophy is to minister to couples with unplanned pregnancies, regardless of whether they end up making an adoption plan or not — and we are overjoyed to support them in that ministry.

Trey and I are big advocates of foster parenting (we went through the training to become licensed foster parents last year and HIGHLY recommend it!), as well as caring for orphans through international adoption (which is what we originally thought we would do).  Both of these are on opposite ends of the cost spectrum, and none of all of the different types of adoption, including domestic infant adoption, are any “better” than the others — or more necessary.  All are very important.  Certainly cost is a factor, but the biggest question anyone can ask is: What is God calling my family to do?  Seeking His plan and the specific purposes He has designed is above all else, and we can only seek first His kingdom in all of this… trusting Him to provide and giving thanks that He has allowed us to be part of what He is doing — in our lives and in the life of the baby He has chosen for us to have the privilege of parenting.

*          *          *

I really hope that helps!

OH, one big piece of news before I sign off…

We are under contract!!!

We got an offer on our condo this past week, and we are now officially under contract.  Our closing date is April 28th.  A lot could happen between now and then, so we’re just praying that all goes through.  We are currently looking for places to rent (one year or less) so we can take our time looking for a house to buy.  We’ll be researching neighborhoods, schools, etc. during the time we’ll be in a temporary townhome or house, and we look forward to finding our next home for our future baby and this next season of life.

This has been such a long time coming.  The condo has been on the market for almost two years, and although we could totally make it work where we are, I’m grateful to settle in somewhere and have a guest room for family and begin preparing for the baby…  Yay!  High fives all around!!  I don’t want to say that “God is so good” or “God is so faithful” because our condo sold.  He is good and He is faithful anyway.  But we do give Him thanks and praise for the huge blessing and gift of this timing and provision.

Thank you again!  Honestly, your interest and excitement means a lot to us, and we’d appreciate the prayers if you remember us!  We welcome and appreciate your questions, and we will continue to keep you posted…

signature

Hometown Baby Shower

We had an awesome baby shower in my hometown on Saturday!!

My mom, sister, and two friends from home hosted this very special day, and it was SO very encouraging to us…

Perfect timing.

I think all along I have pictured our “waiting” period to be very different.

Isn’t that the time when everything we need to do is done, and we just sit around and wait, praying together every day, poring over Scripture by candlelight, and twiddling our thumbs until we get “The Call”?

Waiting has looked very different for us.  Of course we are praying, but waiting has been a whole lot more active than I anticipated.  Sure, all our paperwork is complete.  But all the usual preparations still have to happen: registries, guest lists, adoption fund-raising, researching pediatricians, recalculating your budget, thank-you notes… trying to sell your condo so you can actually start a nursery with all the gifts your moms are currently storing for you. ;)  It’s all very exciting, and there is nothing bad about any of these things.  But unlike the waiting period I pictured — with soooo much time on my hands — turns out I still have to be just as disciplined about carving out time to pray… reading devotions on motherhood… reading books about babies… and spending quiet time with God.  These things do not naturally become easier because all the paperwork is done.

So here’s the thing about showers: Far more than the gifts you receive (which of course are so appreciated and needed), it’s always more about having all the people who love and support you all together in one place.  It’s that reminder of these people in your life who are there to help you, love you, and encourage you.  I can’t even describe how overwhelmingly grateful we are for the family and friends we have… and to know the love this baby has already.  It’s truly incredible!

Here’s a recap in pictures…

Dad made these wood tiles, and my sister did the lettering... They are so talented!

Dad made these wood tiles, and my sister did the lettering… They are so talented!

SONY DSC

Trey and me with our hostesses.

SONY DSC

It was Trey’s very first baby shower… and he did great! ;)

There was someone very special we were thinking of that day that we wanted to honor...

There was someone very special we were thinking of that day and wanted to honor… This letter/poem was displayed in a frame.

I love this moment captured between Trey and one of the ladies at my home church. They have welcomed him in with open arms, and he loves them just as much!

I LOVE this moment captured between Trey and one of the ladies at my home church. They have all welcomed him in with open arms since day one — and he loves them just as much!

There is so much love in the community of believers at my church in St. Pauls, as these pictures show.

There is so much love among my church family in St. Pauls, as these pictures show.

So grateful Trey's mom and Aunt Carol got to come!

So grateful that Trey’s mom and Aunt Carol got to come!

We got lots of help opening presents!

We got lots of help opening presents!

And we received some amazing gifts.

And we received some amazing gifts.

Next generation of Tarheel fans...

One happy Tarheel daddy!

I can't wait to read this.

I cannot wait to read this.

We are so thankful to everyone who came and to everyone who helped make this day what it was.  You blessed us more than you know…

signature

(Today's adoration scripture over at everybitterthingissweet on Instagram.)

(Today’s adoration scripture over at everybitterthingissweet on Instagram.)