My Journey to Joy

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.

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March 28, 2015

Kristen on Mourning

Filed under: Notable Quotables — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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“When I face loss – big and small – and the mourning hangs on, I sometimes imagine God tapping His foot, telling me to get over it already. Heaven knows I say these words to myself. But He doesn’t. Loss is one way Love is made visible, and God does not trivialize our pain or set expiration dates on our mourning. Yes, there is a time for everything, a time to mourn and a time to dance. But in the transition from one to the other, God is patient.”  ~Kristen

 

http://chasingblueskies.net/?p=5837

March 7, 2015

Steffany Woolsey on Rest

Filed under: Notable Quotables — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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“…resting is about more than nourishing body and soul; it is also a picture of surrender.  When we seek our refreshment in Him, we choose to follow His path for our lives, we lean into Him, and we accept His gifts of forgiveness, guidance, and sustenance.”  ~ Steffany Woolsey, A Jane Austen Devotional

February 21, 2015

Focus

Filed under: Notable Quotables — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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“Struggling and rejoicing are not two chronological steps, one following the other, but two concurrent movements, one fluid with the other.
As the cold can move you deeper toward the fire, struggling can move you deeper toward God, who arms you with joy. Struggling can deepen joy…
The secret of joy is always a matter of focus: a resolute focusing on the Father, not on the fears…”
Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift

February 16, 2015

Not Right Now

Filed under: Songs for the Journey — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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February 14, 2015

Safe

Filed under: Notable Quotables — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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“…the reality is that life and relationships aren’t completely safe. Jesus said, ‘In this world you will have trouble’ (John 16:33). We will get hurt. We will face loss. We will be disappointed. It seems as if control is a cure for this- but it’s only an illusion. It traps us tight within our fears. Freedom only comes when we find security in Jesus, when we realize that life is hard but he is good and no matter what happens he’ll guide us through it.” Holley Gerth,

    You’re Already Amazing

April 30, 2014

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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“We stand on the edge of our cliff-like emotions looking into the deep cavern of our grief, and we’re sure that the jump will kill us.  For those of us who entrust our feeble selves to our faithful Creator, in way I can neither explain nor describe, it doesn’t.  In Jesus, when death of some kind comes and we are willing to take it to the cross, remain nearby, and suffer its grief, we will also experience the resurrection.
We say, ‘But part of me has died with it.’  And indeed it has.  Hear the words of Christ echo from the grave: ‘I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.  But if it dies, it produces many seeds.’ (John 12:24)  As a child bearing the name of Christ, if a part of you has died, in time it was meant to produce many seeds…Oh, Beloved, don’t give up!”
The Beloved Disciple, Beth Moore

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.

March 22, 2014

Jon on Worry

Filed under: Notable Quotables — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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“The reason for our worry is not our circumstances, but a warped view of God.”  Jon Earls

January 9, 2014

Suffering

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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“How can I get upset about something that’s gonna’ make me like Jesus?”  -Dr. Ken Hutcherson

I was so moved by this amazing testimony!  You can hear the interview here:

Hutch on Suffering

 

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