My Journey to Joy

April 24, 2017

Lessons from a Friend

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 1:21 PM

There’s a crooked fork in my silverware drawer.  The handle is bent to almost a 90 degree angle.  It isn’t fancy or expensive, but to me it is priceless.  When I see it, sometimes I sigh and sometimes I smile.  It used to belong to a friend of mine, and I keep it there to remind me of who he was and how he lived.

The year 2011 found me searching for a job.  And searching.  And searching.  Along the way I found a website that facilitated employers finding employees and vice versa.  I turned in applications and looked for opportunities.  I walked a dog who snapped at me and scared me to death.  I looked through babysitting jobs, and eventually opened up my profile for “Special Needs” to make myself accessible to more parents.  And that’s how he found me.  Soon I was headed to his house on a Sunday afternoon for an interview.

As Bob outlined the requirements for his care, I realized I was not suited for this job.  At all.  And so I told him of my complete inexperience.  And so he hired me.  A few weeks later, I started a “short-term” job that would last for almost four years…but I also began a friendship that has changed me forever.  I hadn’t planned on a friendship, but Bob had.  I’m so glad he did.

Initially, I watched other caregivers, taking notes and trying to soak in every detail.  All too soon Bob asked if I was ready to give it a try.  I wasn’t, but I did.  I was a nervous wreck the first time I lifted his broken body from his chair to his bed.  I know we were both immensely relieved that I hadn’t dropped him, but Bob had a courage that had been cultivated over years of struggle.  He was one of the bravest people I have ever known.  There wasn’t much that Bob couldn’t figure out, or that he was afraid to tackle.  He calmly talked me through medical procedures (which I was completely unqualified to perform!), wheel chair repairs, and precisely how to drive him to work (in which lane, at what speed…)

Over time, I discovered Bob’s wiiiiiide stubborn streak.  And he found out about mine.  With mutual respect, we maintained a great working relationship, while enjoying each other’s company.  As my tasks became second nature, we were able to talk about a wide variety of topics.  We argued about historical facts and which band sang a particular song.  We learned to leave our arguments at a draw until one of us could research and see who was right.  (It was usually him.)  I was no match for his brilliant mind and impeccable memory…but that didn’t stop us from the fun of our debates.  Over time, I saw what an asset his persistence really was.  With no feeling below his bicep and no use of most of his body, Bob worked a full-time job at a nearby hospital.  His extraordinary grit and determination drove him to accomplish amazing things.  He was a strong and independent man.  When I met him he had been paralyzed for almost forty years and utilized countless solutions to navigate daily tasks, including bending his forks to slide them into his hand splint so that he could feed himself.

But honestly, it wasn’t Bob’s intellect or perseverance that meant the most to me.  He was a kind man.  On days when he had abundant reasons to be grumpy or unkind, he was gracious.  When there was a problem, he was willing to apologize.  He was unfailingly generous.  One of our most frequent arguments was over how much he would pay me; he was always suggesting a bonus for this or that.  He seldom spoke of his pain and struggle, but often asked about what was going on in my life.  He was a wonderful listener, offering support and genuine sympathy.  Many days I left his home feeling better, lighter.  He had a knack for making me laugh with his corny humor and his sharp wit.  I was lucky enough to be able to return that favor.

I think one of Bob’s greatest gift to me was seeing him be gracious in the face of ignorance and even prejudice.  Bob knew who he was.  He knew his worth.  And people who couldn’t understand that simply missed out.  (We certainly chuckled together over their ignorance later!)  Bob was gracious to me when I made mistakes.  And I made some doozies.  Once I almost unintentionally let him smother, while I was standing right beside his bed.  As he gasped in big gulps of air, he simply said, “Just give me a minute.”  Later, he never mentioned it at all; eventually we were able to laugh about how I cried the whole way home.

One ordinary evening I tucked Bob into bed and wished him goodnight.  The next morning I got a terrible phone call and learned that my friend was gone.

I learned so much from Bob.  I still think of him often.  He has changed how I see the world, changed how I see others, changed how I see myself.

There’s a crooked fork in my silverware drawer…and there always will be.

February 24, 2017

Worthwhile

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 12:01 AM
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It amazes me to think that a few short years ago I had never heard of open adoption.  When we began to pursue adoption, our agency really pushed the idea. Quite honestly, I resented it.  I think mostly I was uninformed and afraid.  So afraid.  Of a million imagined things.  Eventually, I became convinced of the merit of open adoption as I learned more about how openness can benefit everyone in the adoption triad, but particularly adoptees.

By the time we were chosen by our first birthmom, I was excited about building a relationship with her.  I faithfully sent the required updates.  I sent cards for special occasions.  I sent albums with loads of pictures.  I wrote long, newsy letters.   I was crushed when she stopped receiving our correspondence.  (We respect her choice, but hope someday she’ll choose to be part of our lives.)

Our second adoption proved to be longer, and incredibly painful.  We “lost” three babies: September 2013, January 23rd, 2015, & February 3rd, 2015.  We were deeply grieving these losses when we met our precious second birthmom on March 13th, the day we adopted our second son.  She was wonderful.  Maybe our losses helped us understand some of her pain?  We all spoke cautiously, hoping to do no harm but only good with our words.  We found out many things we had in common, but most importantly how we all desperately loved the same baby boy.  My heart ached as we left to let her say goodbye.  I didn’t know if I would ever see her again.

The next few days we soaked in the joy of being a family of four.  We bonded with our sweet cuddle-bug and took an insane number of pictures.  I prayed for our birthmom, and worried and wondered about her, but all was quiet.  Then one afternoon there was a text on our Google Voice!  I eagerly wrote back, wanting to share how our precious boy was growing and thriving.

As we continued to text, my love and respect for our birthmom grew.  While I don’t pretend to know her feelings, I can honestly say that she is a hero in my eyes.

As time went by, we became more comfortable with each other.  She gave us an email address, so we wouldn’t need to go through the agency for pictures.  She told us her last name, we told her ours…we shared our addresses.  I learned how to send videos to her via Google drive.  We agreed to meet at Chick-fil-A.  And one day I realized we have an open adoption…

There is still so much that I don’t know, so much that I am learning.  I’m sure that I’ve made mistakes along the way.  Sometimes I send pictures & notes for weeks or months without hearing anything back.  Sometimes I wonder if I’m writing too much, or too little?  I pray that the love that we feel will come through in all of our correspondence.

I’ve had people ask me why I bother to send so many updates.  I’ve been looked at as if I were crazy for pouring into a relationship that isn’t always reciprocated.  I’ve felt like I’m on a thousand blind dates, wondering what is the right thing to say or not to say.  I’ve been frustrated by unanswered questions.  I’ve wondered if I’m doing the right thing, or if I need to give more space.  And then I get an email that makes me sob:  “…I am soooo happy I picked you guys to be his parents.”

I wouldn’t change a thing…

 

August 25, 2015

Our Journey to Family: A Love Story

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 3:44 PM
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In 2008, my husband & I decided it was time to expand our little family of two to include children. We had been married for five wonderful years and I’d enjoyed a fulfilling career teaching kindergarten. We had prayed and planned, and we felt ready. What followed in the coming years shook my entire worldview. I had to choose to trust God as He remained seemingly silent while my dreams of having a child were shattered. When my cries of “why” went unanswered, I experienced a soul-deep sadness that went on for years. With a broken heart and crushed hopes, I begged God for help; I could not bear to live in such misery.

Psalm 34:18 (NLT) The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

He answered with Himself. And, eventually, a call on our hearts to pursue adoption. Along the way many people tried to comfort me by saying “you can always just adopt…” I was eager to begin, excited about the possibilities, and very, very naïve. In the years since, I’ve learned a lot about adoption. The joy it has brought to our lives has been immeasurable. And the pain has been incredible. Each family’s story is different, but here is ours…

In February, 2011, we sent in our application to adopt through a local Christian agency. Our homestudy was completed six months later, double the time we’d hoped. Being fairly private people, we were bruised by the process. The interviews were invasive, the home visits nerve-racking, the paperwork seemingly endless, the fees breathtaking, and the delays frustrating. Five days after approval, we received our first birthmother profile.

We were giddy; we might be parents soon! Then came the dreaded e-mail: “she chose another family.” This began an emotional roller coaster ride that went on for the next nine months. During this time we were told that “maybe God just didn’t mean for you to be parents,” “you should just relax,” and many other well-intentioned-but-hurtful things. People contacted us about possible birthmothers of their acquaintance. We were shown fifteen times without being chosen. Our wounded hearts and egos reeled from the perceived rejection, as we pasted on smiles and tried to carry on with our lives. God walked with us in our grief, and gave us the strength to just keep going.

Psalm 28:7 (NIV)  The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

Our world changed forever on a Tuesday afternoon in April, 2012. Our social worker called and said, “We have a baby boy…are you interested?” Unable to speak for tears, I frantically motioned for Daniel to say “yes”! Our precious son had been born that February, while we grieved what we thought was a miscarriage, in the midst of being shown to several birthmoms. God was working, and we didn’t even have a clue! We drove to Mississippi and brought home our sweet miracle 19 days later, on the Friday before Mother’s Day.

Lamentations 3:21-23 (ESV) But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

When God began again to stir our hearts toward adoption, we were sure it would be easier. Our darling boy had brought so much joy and happiness to our lives. We weren’t coming from the aching place of empty arms. We were wary now, knowing more of what the process could entail, but we were determined to follow God’s leading. In August of 2013, we submitted our second application. In September, my 89-year-old grandmother was murdered. We knew by now that adoption involved spiritual warfare, and were committed to staying the course God had laid out for us. Some very close friends and family once again took up the burden with us, praying & waiting. Again, ironically, our homestudy took six months, despite all of our best efforts. We were approved February 7th, 2014, and had our first profile 45 minutes later! We were back on the roller coaster…

Romans 8:28 (KJV) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Each time we received a profile of a prospective birthmom, we prayed, discussed the information given, and measured it by the criteria we had initially determined. Only when we were both in agreement would we give a “yes, we’d like to be shown” answer to our social worker. The decisions were agonizing. We were shown to birthmoms of every ethnicity, from age 16 to 36. Some of these brave women were single, some married. Some were pregnant for the first time, while some were expecting their second, third, fourth, or fifth child. Their reasons for choosing placement were different, but their motivation for considering this agonizing choice was the same: an immense love for their child, and the desire for him/her to have a life they knew they couldn’t provide. We ached for the pain in their situations, and prayed earnestly for God to work in their lives.

Proverbs 13:12 (NET) Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is like a tree of life.

Months went by, with opportunity after opportunity, but still no baby. I met a precious birthmom who asked me to parent her child. We were cautiously excited when she followed through by calling our social worker, then crushed with her when she miscarried. A dear friend called about a baby in immediate need of parents, and we scrambled through a breathtaking whirlwind of calls to lawyers and social workers…only to find out that the birthmom was not interested in our family. I became close to a twelve-year-old who was very interested in adoption. I wondered if she might choose our family to parent her sweet boy, but in the end she chose to parent him herself.

Habakkuk 3:18 (ESV) …yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

We had sixteen opportunities through our agency, then were ecstatic when we were finally chosen in December of 2014. The holidays were an agony of hope and fear, as a meeting with birthparents was set, then rescheduled twice. Finally in January of 2015 we got to drive to Georgia to meet the birthparents. Our meeting went very well, and we made a real connection. A couple of weeks later, I woke on a Friday morning at 3:30am, the day baby H was to be born. I prayed all day, then cried great gasping sobs for this precious woman when we got a labor update around noon, completely undone by the magnitude of her choice. It all came to a devastating end that night when I got a text as I was preparing for bed: “It looks like she’s decided to parent.” For a brief moment I thought of just not telling my husband, not wanting to see him hurt. Ultimately, I couldn’t tell him; I just handed him the phone.

Isaiah 30:15b (ESV) In quietness and in trust shall be your strength.

Grief hit us hard, with the loss of this much-loved baby boy. Yet we agreed that God’s call hadn’t changed, and that we should stay our course. I called our social worker the following Monday, to let her know our decision. Somewhat surprised, she sent us two profiles that day, asking for an answer almost immediately. We were able to say “yes” to one, and again began the process of being shown. One week later, we were stunned to hear that we had been chosen again! Our hearts still numb with grief, we began again to try to imagine a sweet baby soon in our arms. The following day, our social worker called to say that the birthmom had changed her mind. Our social worker broke down and cried, then prayed with me over the phone. We agreed that it was hard to see what God was doing, but that we both knew we could trust Him, always.

Psalm 66:5 (NLT) Come and see what our God has done, what awesome miracles he performs for people!

A few weeks later, in February, we had another opportunity to be shown, and doggedly continued on our journey, with a tenacity that could only be from God. We laughed about how crazy it would be to be chosen “three times in a row,” hoping to lessen the sting of another disappointment. As the weeks went by with no decision, I found myself calling and e-mailing our social worker often, hoping for any news. Until the day she called to say we’d been chosen. I froze, sobbing on the stairs, as she said “you knew he was yours!”  One week later, we got to meet our incredible second birthmom. We saw each other in the parking lot of the adoption agency, and she recognized us from our profile. She walked over and said “you’re adopting my baby.” We hugged and walked into the agency together. At our formal meeting, I looked into her pain-filled eyes, and told her that we will love her son as long as we live. The only thing she asked was that we tell him that she loves him. We went out to give her time to tell him goodbye. A short while later, we came back to sign the massive stack of paperwork, then it was time. We walked down a hallway, opened a door, and met our second cherished son.

This is our story, so far. I wouldn’t change any of it. People ask if we will adopt again, and our answer is: we don’t know. We’re trusting God to build our family exactly as He sees fit. He’s done an absolutely amazing job so far.

January 7, 2015

Praise

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 4:11 PM
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For so much of my life I’ve offered “cheap” praise to God.  You know the kind that just slides off your tongue in bright, happy moments.  Gratitude that comes easily in the midst of blessing and plenty.  Pat phrases and clichés, offered casually with very little thought.  I’ve tossed a happy “thank you” and breezed by a glib “wow, that’s awesome, God!”  And this is good.  And it’s right.

But I’m learning another praise.  One that comes from so deep inside it almost hurts to offer.  One that is gathered intentionally, by force of will.  Sometimes it takes a moment to tug it to the surface.  Then with jaw set, and often tears streaming, I give praise.  And I say “thank you, God…no matter what.”  And I say “you are good and faithful…even if.”  I don’t think this praise can come from a heart that hasn’t been broken; but it shines through and makes the brokenness so worthwhile.

“Though the fig tree do not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,  yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.  GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like hinds’ feet, he makes me tread upon my high places.”  Habakkuk 3:17-19

The waiting in adoption is impossible for me to describe.  Moment by moment I go from hope (we’re going to get another baby!) to despair (this will never really happen).  Both sides have validity.  And the not knowing can just eat at your soul.  But what is faith, but not knowing and choosing to trust?! 

I have a beautiful quote from Oswald Chambers hanging on the nursery door:  “Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One Who is leading”  And I do know the ONE, so much better than I did before this journey.  He has revealed Himself to me in such peace and comfort that defies my circumstances.

And so, again and again, maybe hundreds or thousands of times, I remind myself and God: “You are good.  You are working on our behalf.  You will be with us I trust you.”

And I choose to praise.  The awesome, loving God who walks by my side while I’m waiting.  And when I’m hurting.  And always.  Amen.

April 26, 2014

Just Adopt

It seems that I tend to write most when I hurt most.  That’s when thoughts swirl in my head, demanding release.  And so I click away at the keyboard.

I’ve been talking about infertility this week, in a larger venue than I ever have before.  It’s been intimidating.  Scary.  I’ve felt vulnerable, and revisited old feelings and hurts.  It’s been worth it.  I’ve had messages, connections…and I hope and pray someone has been helped to know that they are not alone.

And now it’s the middle of the night.  My husband is snoring, and a thunderstorm is rumbling outside, washing away the flower seeds I planted a few hours ago.  And I’m going to “pull back the curtain” on our adoption journey…

This is our second, and let me immediately say it has been easier.  We started at such a different place emotionally; happy, not wrecked by years of disappointment.  We have our son, who is a near-constant delight and joy.  Easier.  Not easy.

We were sure that the homestudy process would go more quickly this time.  Our application for our first adoption was received February 15th, 2011.  We were approved August 26th, and received our first birthmother profile on August 31st!  (6 months for homestudy)  After that, we were shown more than 15 times.  For our second adoption, our application was received on August 19th, 2013.   By November, we had completed everything… and we were approved February 7th, 2014.  (6 months, again!)  We received our first birthmother profile 45 minutes later.  That was the start of being constantly shown/about to be shown/waiting to hear, that lasted April 2nd.  I don’t know how to describe how that feels; I would if I could.  Tense.  Alert.  Tense.  Of the five possibilities, three of the babies had already been born (a set of twins and a single birth), one birthmother was in labor, and two others were due in the very near future.  Sometimes our social worker asked for our answer by the next week…or the next day…or in one case, in the next two hours!

And we’ve been riding an emotional rollercoaster of epic proportions.  Imagine how it feels, waiting…  Knowing we could be parents tomorrow, today, right now… or not.  We’ve sat poised to buy plane tickets or embark on a road trip to go and get our baby.  We made lists for last minute purchases.  We checked our schedules, noting the arrangements we’d need to make if chosen.  We began to imagine our family with a precious new member.  (He/she will be here by Easter/Mother’s Day/Camp Meeting.)  And then, jarringly, abruptly, it’s over.  And it wasn’t our baby after all.  And we try to gather our hopes and dreams, repacking them until the next round.

Sometimes a placement seems so perfect, the fulfillment of dreams I’ve hardly admitted to having– then receiving the dreaded e-mail: “I’m sorry.  She chose another family.”  As decisions stretched out, sometimes for weeks, I began to check my mailbox again and again, just so it will be over.  And I carried my phone everywhere, so I wouldn’t miss “the call.”

And then, everything stopped.  Silence.  No new e-mails.  And there is relief, a respite.  But it’s so quiet.  And now I’m checking my e-mail again, hoping to see a profile, a chance, a hope.  This may go on for years.

And God is in control.  And we are powerless.  Time passes, life continues, and we wait.

And a friend sends a message that reads: “…we seem to have been chosen to walk parallel paths of uncertainty. While I lay no claim on understanding the pain of infertility, I can relate to waiting for the phone to ring, to checking email almost minutely for news….any news. We all know that Gods time is perfect, that His plan is best….but that doesn’t mean that questions don’t arise, that doubts don’t stay a little longer than they should. In the darkness, remember the verse that was brought to my mind tonight by someone also walking this path, several years ago Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”  And tears fill my eyes as God once again takes something painful and makes something good.

I couldn’t tell you how many people told us we could “just adopt.”  Some of those same people have since walked this journey with us, and would now be the first to defend and educate.  There is no such thing as “just adopting.”  Not every family is meant to adopt.  Some are unable, for a myriad of very personal reasons.  (I won’t even begin a list; those are their stories to tell, if they wish.)  And for those who do, the process is more often than not grueling, requiring everything you’ve got, then more.

So here we are again.  God obviously has more to teach us through this process.  Our hearts are open, and broken.  And we wait.

December 12, 2013

Comfort

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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I love the celebrations surrounding Christmas.  The lights, the songs, the glitz and glam and excitement.  I love the “over-the-topness” of trying to make everything extra-special.  I love the planning and preparation to make things “just right,” and the reward when someone’s face lights up.  This year is different.  Not bad, just different.

This year, I feel quiet.  I am drawn to the simple and low-key.  The joy of Christmas is present, but I’m clinging to the comfort of Christmas.   This isn’t my first hard Christmas, but I wasn’t as open before about what I was experiencing.  No, I don’t intend to go to holiday parties wearing a “I’m hurting” t-shirt, but I will be honest with the people who sincerely ask “how are you doing?”

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.”  Isaiah 40:1

There is both sweetness and sting to memories.  While putting up a nativity, I smile knowing Granny made it.  Then I cry, wishing she’d be here this year.  Scrapbooking memories, I see pictures of last year’s celebration, and realize it was her last year with us.  There will be no “Christmas 2013” pictures with her in them.

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.  2Corinthians 1:3-4

The God of all comfort.  My God.  Who cares so much for me that He left heaven.  Christmas.  Comfort.  I like what Adam Clarke had to say about these verses:

“…Who shows himself to be the God of tender mercy, by condescending to notice us, who have never deserved any good at his hand; and also the God of all consolation, by comforting us in all our tribulation-never leaving us a prey to anxiety, carking care, persecution, or temptation; but, by the comforts of his Spirit, bearing us up in, through, and above, all our trials and difficulties.”  (I had to look up “carking”; it means burdensome or annoying.)

“…for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.”  Jeremiah 31:13b

When I hear spots on the radio about “the real meaning of Christmas” being “time with friends and family” or “the laughter of children”, etc. I just shake my head.  I love those good things, but Christmas is, whether I’m alone or in a crowd, piled high with gifts or empty-handed, full of laughter or mourning.  Christmas is Emmanuel.  Only that can withstand the hard years, the unexpected tragedies, the unfulfilled hopes.  Knowing that God is with us, with me…that is my comfort.  

” Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”  2Corinthians 9:15

 

O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy, O tidings of comfort and joy.

November 7, 2013

Compelled

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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I wasn’t going to share this with anyone, but just as I felt compelled to do it, I feel that I should share.  This was my experience last November.

Today I went way out of my comfort zone.  I bathed and dressed my baby.  I printed off directions to somewhere I’ve never been.  I loaded up the diaper bag and off we went.  I texted my husband to tell him where I was going.  I thought of lots of reasons not to go.  (I really didn’t have time, I needed to be back to take my son to his grandma’s for babysitting, this is scary and uncomfortable…)  I kept going.  My husband said he’d be praying for me.  I cried.  10 miles and 21 minutes later, I arrived.

The building was an unassuming red brick, 1970’s style.  The signs were a discreet brown, with white letters.  There was one car in the parking lot.  A gentle breeze was blowing leaves, so that they skittered down the street.  Cars crunched acorns when they passed.  Other than that, it was very quiet.

At first I walked up and down the sidewalk, then I sat my son on a brick wall.  He played with my keys, while I prayed and cried.  And cried.  And cried.  He’s the reason I had to go.  To Planned Parenthood.  Because when I look at him I am so thankful that his birthmom chose life.  That my baby has a family who loves him dearly.  That he is.

Seeing that building, and knowing what happens inside was horrifying.  Looking at the dumpster out back made me want to throw up, wondering how the aborted babies’ remains were disposed.  I prayed for forgiveness for my country and my apathy.  I prayed for light and truth for the staff.  I prayed for hope and God’s love for birthmoms considering abortion.  I prayed for Christians to answer the call to provide support and help to families in such desperate situations.

On the surface, it was an uneventful trip.  I saw one person as I walked back to my car- a building inspector looking at a nearby property.  I didn’t accomplish any great feat, or have an exciting story to tell.  I just went.  And prayed.  And I’m changed…

November is National Adoption Month.  Adoption is an option.

October 10, 2013

Loss

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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Those familiar with adoption realize that it comes with much loss.  A child loses his/her original family.  Bio-parents may die, have their children forcefully removed, or surrender them for the hope of a better future.  Adoptive parents may have lost their dream of biological parenthood, feeling a baby grow for 9 months, and being there to hear their baby’s first cries.  We live in a fallen world, and there is loss.

So often people talk to me with stars in their eyes about adoption.  And believe me, I love adoption!  I want people to be excited about the possibilities.  But it is real, and it is hard.  It involves sacrifice.  And there is always loss.

My husband and I tried to prepare ourselves for the pain that a second adoption would inevitably bring.  We worked to steel our emotions.  But there is always something unexpected…

In the midst of our early grief and trauma over my grandmother’s murder, my father was taken to the hospital with heart attack symptoms.  A procedure was scheduled.  Just routine, but there is always a chance of something going horribly wrong; I knew I wanted to be there.  That morning, as I bathed my little man, I got a phone call.  A friend knew of a birthmother looking to place her sweet, 4-month-old daughter; could she tell her about us?  That set into motion a day of frantic phone calls to our social worker and lawyer, all while getting to the hospital and waiting through my dad’s procedure.  (Which mercifully turned out fine!)  Everything was moving forward at a breathless pace…until I got the text: “She only wants someone in our family.”  And it was over.  I know now that I wasn’t meant to be her mommy- but, oh, I wanted to be!  I wanted her, to love her.  An adoptive mommy can fall in love awfully quickly, without even trying.  And I did.  And now there’s loss…

A few weeks ago I met a precious woman who asked me to parent her baby.  We totally “clicked,” and she said she knew God had sent her to me.  (And I believe He did.)  I tried to tell myself that these things often fall through.  I told my social worker “just in case she called and asked about us.”  And lo and behold, she did.  She followed through.  She set up a meeting.  And six days later she had a miscarriage.  And there is loss.  I ache for her, and for myself.  And my heart cries, “Why?!”

We haven’t even completed our homestudy.  We weren’t prepared (not that you can, really) for the emotional roller coaster that is adoption.  I don’t know the “why’s.”  And I hurt, so much.  But I know the Who.  My faith is in Him.  I cling to the promise that my God is working things for my good.  I cling to hope in His perfect plan.  I mourn the loss…and await the redemption of this pain.

September 15, 2013

Looking

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 6:06 PM

Our minds were shocked and our hearts were broken when we were told of my Granny’s tragic murder at the hands of thieves.  The vicious disregard for human life was and is incomprehensible.  The needlessness is shattering; I have thought again and again of how easy it would have been to subdue her without taking her life.  My mind has rebelled against the reality.  I have asked so many “why’s”, with no clear answers.

But I have been looking…for blessings.  And I have found them.  And the grace of God- it has been all around us, in us.  He is with us.  I have seen His heart and His love on the faces of friends who have cried with us…left work and conferences and their daily lives to come and comfort us…lovingly prepared meals for us…cared for our children…participated so sweetly in her memorial service…expressed their sympathy with words, tears, and long, lingering hugs. The blessings of how God has given us each other, a close family, to walk through this grief together.  Of unexpected kindnesses from strangers.  Of sweet, supporting spouses, taking up oh-so-much left undone.  And the prayers…we have truly been lifted and carried by prayers.  And the blessing of remembering a life of service, refusing to fixate on its end.  The testimony of 89 good years cannot be taken away in a few, tragic moments.  I wish I could recall all of the sweet remembrances I have heard, of pies baked, food given, work done, and sorrow shared by my Granny.  She was loved, and will be missed.

God was good.  We have recent happy visits to remember.  A handmade Grandparents’ Day card was still in the basket of her walker, no doubt so that she could show it to friends, whether they wished to see it or not!  Recent pictures were stashed in her purse.  Our smiling faces were all over her walls.

When my mind returns to the horror of that night, and my imaginings go through the scenario again and again, I cling to hope.  I hope that her senses were dulled by shock.  I hope that she was unaware.  I hope that she died quickly.  Most of all, I hope that she knew what I know- that God was right there with her.  However she may have suffered, I am so thankful for my true HOPE, that she has no more pain or sorrow in the presence of Jesus.  That a lifetime is insignificant when compared to the eternity she has to spend worshiping her Creator.  My great hope is in her relationship with a God who loved her enough to die for her sins.  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16  I hope that her murderers also find salvation in Him, the only Sacrifice great enough to atone for all our sins.

She was so looking forward to her 90th birthday.  A party had been planned, and she was full of anticipation.  She had made plans of whom to invite, and how to spruce up her home for the occasion.  And now she’ll have it in paradise.  She’ll be celebrating it with loved ones already there, and the God who loves her most.

Granny, I called the other day to tell you we’re adopting again.  I wish you’d have picked up the phone; you were probably out working in the garden.  You worked so hard to help with money for Nathan’s adoption; we found a list you’d made keeping track.  We know you’d be excited about another “wee one.”  I’m so sorry my children won’t know you in this life, but I promise we’ll tell them about you.  I’ll tell Nathan how much you loved “them babies”!  We love you too.  See you in heaven…

 

September 12, 2013

Fight

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
Tags: , , ,

If you had heard the conversation in our SUV on the way home from church, you might just think I’m crazy.  Little man had dropped off to sleep in his carseat, after a week of VBS and a big Sunday.  As we headed home, I turned to my husband and said: “We’re heading into a spiritual battle.”

He’s used to me, so he just listened, and waited for me to explain.  “It’s like that guy said: ‘adoption is war.’*  Satan hates what we’re doing.  Adoption is God using His people to redeem wrong choices and bad situations.  It’s us being God’s hands and feet, and showing love and sacrifice.  It’s showing God’s glory all over the place, where Satan had been winning.  He’s gonna hate that.”

My husband may have nodded, but I was on a roll now!  “He’s going to try to make it hard.  He’s going to try to discourage us.  Paperwork that seems endless is more than just paperwork; he’s trying to stop us.  Crazy expenses that we know we can’t handle; that’s him trying to stop this.  Disappointments and heartache; he’ll use it all.  We’re heading into a fight.”

It’s certainly a different way to look at adoption, but starting to adopt for a second time, I really believe it’s accurate.  Adoption is hard for a reason.  It’s fought, actively opposed.  Because Satan doesn’t want it to happen.  I think most often apathy is all he needs at his disposal.  Then maybe a sense of inadequacy.  Throw in some fear (change. unknowns. comfort. money. pain.)  A few “what if’s” and horror stories can go a long way…

I don’t plan to face this unarmed.  I’m asking God to remind me that this is His fight.  That He loves our next child more than we ever can.  That He has been fighting for them since before they were conceived.  He’s already won on the cross.  He is our powerful ally.  And we can win…and the victory will be God’s.

 

*https://journalingthejourneytojoy.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/russell-moore-on-adoption/

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