Adoption Thoughts (From a Recovering Perfectionist)

Yet another late night had us sulking home far past bedtime. From the front seat I barraged myself in silent mantras that tend to scream loudest when darkness shrouds my view and stress and chaos abound. Mantras that call into question the measure of my motherhood. Interrupting my harsh thoughts, a sweet voice called for me from the back seat. “What baby girl?” I asked. She rambled on in her precious way before speaking the words that rooted their way into my heart with divine purpose:

“Tonight, I’m just going to believe God and go to sleep.”

“I’m just going to believe God…” Why can’t I do that? For weeks I have fretted over how I could add to the conversation surrounding National Adoption Month. My brain has started and deleted a hundred different articles to share here without even typing a word. Those I did type faced the same outcome:
Delete.
Delete.
Delete.

See somehow this notion that my words will change someone’s heart was a message I received and accepted as reality. For so long I’ve unconsciously believed there is a perfect way to spill these words onto paper and a way that isn’t. Under the false pretense that if I can write compelling messages with just the right balance of humor and grit the world will benefit, I have written, deleted, grown frustrated and been unproductive. The light of truth buried somewhere deep beneath the mess of these lies is that I will never change someone’s heart, only God will. Oh I’m assured He can and will use these measly word offerings, but it will never be my words that change a person’s heart.

“… And go to sleep.” Isn’t that the antiphony¬†of peace? Just resting. Not fretting over a to-do list or what someone said about me or what they might say about me. Sleep. Rest.

If I’m honest, I waste far too much time wrestling with perfection. Often I don’t even realize the anxiety creeping into my spirit to make it all come together just so. I manipulate words and sentences and craft whole new drafts in endless strife to reach a target that mists away when the arrow is released. There’s space for striving for excellence, but it should never be more important than the message. It should never impede on my belief in God’s power. This plague of perfectionism stretches far beyond just my storytelling in written form and into the stories I want to see written on the pages of life. Adoption in particular has pulled taut those strings until they’ve reached strand-snapping capacity. And beyond.

Today, the season is a reminder to my ever-striving-for-perfection heart that faith and peace are gifts available now. Thanksgiving is when we pause with intent to give voice to our thanks. And today, I’m thankful for the loss.

Every heartbreak and letdown, every rejection, every tear along this journey has pointed me deeper into connection with my Savior. And someday, it will point into deeper relationship with my child. Though please hear me: I will not compare these temporary losses with the daily reality my child will endure. Adoption starts with loss. Always. And I’m just so thankful the Lord has been gracious enough to provide us opportunity to experience a taste of what it is to live with a broken and confused heart.

As we move forward into the Christmas season, we wait in hopeful expectation the celebration of the Savior’s coming.

Down to the millisecond, God’s timing was, in fact, perfect. Every minute detail was planned and executed in perfect order. Regardless of the imperfections of the human heart, God remains sovereign.

So today, as the harsh realities of this continual wait stare me in the face, I’m going to foster a heart of gratitude. Today, I’m just going to believe God and let sleep the voices that long to steal my joy; the mantra of my own ruthless critic that threatens to erode away the beauty of this perfectly imperfect story with my own twisted ideals of perfection. Instead, I’ll listen for that still small voice to whisper sweet tendrils of His sovereign plan into the depths of my heart. With my face to the sky, the wind on my tear-streaked cheek and a spirit stirred up by thankfulness, hope and peace, I say, “What next Lord Jesus? What next?”

Quick Update: One mama still has our profile book. All others have chosen other families. We appreciate your prayers and love!

Opened Eyes

Today I almost died.

I realize how dramatic that sounds. As if that statement was only some lame stab at attention. Where once you gasp I whip back the curtain to reveal the opposite side of the story and how really death loomed no closer than any other typical day. But this isn’t one of those occasions. No smoke and mirrors. No magic. It’s what happened. Today, I almost died.

Time. It seemed to suspend while racing ahead all at once. There I was dipping and rising, bending and turning like I do nearly everyday on the roadways around my home. We live in beautiful hill country. It just comes with the territory.

This particular portion of the main road, immediately after a wide span of houses, is flanked on each side with tall trees, overgrown brush and yet another hill. There, tucked behind nature’s expanse opposite the embankment sits a dirt road which intersects the main highway. All but hidden from view. A driver has but seconds to respond should a vehicle emerge but the road is scarcely traveled and even so, it’s rare indeed to see another motorist crossing the highway there.

Today, however, just before my black SUV crested the hill into his line of sight, a semi truck driver pulled up to that blind corner. He must have been lost. That’s all I can figure. He looked my direction, then the other, I’m sure. But while his head was still turned, he pulled his foot from the clutch and eased on the gas to engage the large engine into motion and cross my lane of traffic. He swung back his gaze just in time for our eyes to meet as my vehicle rounded the curve and began the short descent aimed directly at his.

Time. I’ve relived this moment now a hundred times over. It still pauses. Each time it moves forward in slow rhythm, frame by frame just as it did in those seconds.

I saw his tires lurch forward. I saw him spin the large steering wheel to point the outfit my direction before he looked up to see me coming. I heard my own voice shout “No” as if it were someone else’s. I saw papers and shopping bags and books in the front seat begin to fly towards the dash as my brakes tried to halt all forward momentum of my vehicle.

Almost like a dream I could see the details. Like an out-of-body experience even while I watched the scene play out from behind pedals. I saw the middle-aged man’s tousled brown hair in the driver’s seat. Sunlight as it beamed off the large stainless steel tank on the trailer behind the red cabbed truck.

Time.

Then, as if my mind were in a time zone all its own, the clock sped up. I saw my car plow headlong into the side of that steel tank and twist beneath the forces colliding. Metal bending metal. My life caught in a whisper between now and eternity. There, with my foot on the brake and my arm outstretched to keep things righted in the front seat the inevitable laid out in front of me. I knew it was coming. In rapid succession I saw what would happen. Sounds all but dissipated around me.

Yet, then, as if everything slammed back into the present, I watched the outcome transformed. Before my eyes I watched the entire rig jolt in a violent attempt to stop. Somehow it came to rest halfway into my lane even as it still shuddered from the sudden brake. The driver flopped helpless against the momentum nearly hitting his head on the steering wheel. When he gained control, bewilderment was etched into the expression he wore.

I was able to swerve into the opposite lane with no oncoming traffic and miss the rig altogether. And like that, it was as if nothing happened. My kids chattered in the backseat like always. They asked me questions about what the rest of the day held as I drove the last few miles back to the house.

I backed the car in the garage and killed the engine. The door closed and the kids skipped into the house. But I sat. Wide-eyed. Amazed. Because though I’ve had close calls before, I’ve never known with such clarity that God altered time to save my life.

Open eyes. That’s what I’ve been praying for: open eyes. And open eyes is exactly how God answered. He pulled back the curtain of time to show me so clearly this moment I could have, should have, left my family for the other side of eternity but God. Stepped. In.

Memory will allow this scene to fade, melting into the sea of countless other segments that make up my hours and days. I can feel the slow fade beginning already. But what I cannot let go of is this rush of elated peace and joy that gives me a new sense of awe over God’s story. How He saved my life. I cannot allow time to lull me back to sleep and miss the frames that one by one reveal the plot line and the heart of the Storyteller Himself. Today, I caught just a glimpse. Just five seconds of a heightened sixth sense; an awareness of the eternal hand of God active in my physical realm. Today, I saw God. Move.

Oh Lord, that that would stay with me always.
And oh friend, that you would know it too.

Afterward We Will

What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.

John 13:7

It was a time of celebration. The temperatures would have dropped with nightfall that early spring evening. The men gathered in that upper room knew nothing of the commonalities coming to an end; oblivious to the road’s sudden turn ahead. Yet, with full knowledge of their misconceptions, the confusion they would soon feel and the weight He was about to shoulder, Jesus rose from the table and began to wash their feet. From a reclined, comfy seat with a full belly and heavy heart, Jesus went out of His way to teach one more lesson though He knew they wouldn’t comprehend it until later.

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Potential Match

I was driving when it hit me. The ground was covered in white powder. A chill was in the air. Christmas time smells waft about every store entrance. Yet my mind was stayed on one thing: A random thought that took root suddenly transforming my perspective. 

I am a rainbow baby. 

I was conceived after loss. The bone deep pain of miscarrying a child was soothed in a way with my expectancy. I’ve heard the story all my life. I’ve been told how my sibling resides in Heaven waiting to meet us. The stories of how my first kick brought sudden joy after the unexpected loss of my grandfather. How my great grandmother died before I was born, yet I arrived on the her first birthday spent in Heaven; bringing joy to my family on a day that should have been filled with sorrow. These stories of how I received my middle name because my presence was a source of joy on gloomy days. Yet, never had I connected the dots to refer to myself as a rainbow baby. 

Adoption is born out of loss. The severed loss of biological ties for the child and sometimes an adoptive family’s bout with infertility. We’ve had so many ask if infertility was the reason we pursued adoption. The answer is no. For us, that was never an issue. In fact, the depression I experienced in my first pregnancy (which in part drove us to adopt) came about by how quickly I became pregnant. My crisis was rooted in how I didn’t feel* ready for the changes occurring. 

Another thought hit me yesterday as we sat in church behind a couple with twin baby girls. I would guess they were around three months old. I could probably tell you their age if I’d been brave enough to approach them and share how much I enjoyed watching them. But I was too wrapped up in my own sadness of longing. So I didn’t. 

Why did God call us two years ago to this journey for us to sit here in this undefined space of waiting?

I’ve pondered this question for a solid twenty-four hours. One one hand, I’m no closer to an actual answer now than I was when it hit me. On the other hand I, once again, have assurance of two things: One, God is good at being God. He has impeccable timing. It just isn’t the same as my own desired timeline. Second, no tear is wasted. I may not know it now – or ever – but there is purpose in this wait. Maybe, just maybe, we needed to experience some loss – loss of our ideal and our control, the loss of potential matches and the directions we thought our story might go – to more fully appreciate the abundance of God’s design in His adoption plan taking root here.¬†

I struggled through the day yesterday with tears brimming at every turn. It was another day filled with questions and doubt and longing. In part, I blame the dreamy places I allowed my mind to travel as I watched those adorable little girls. In other ways, its because of my own perceived notions of chastisement in the waiting. But then my phone dinged with a notification. I’d been waiting for an email, so I wasn’t surprised when I saw I had one. I was however at the sender: The adoption agency.

This week, our profile book will be presented to a mom due smack dab in the middle of our birthday extravaganza – the two week span into which all four of our family birthdays fall as well as several extended family members. I know, it sounds crazy! Why ask for yet another birthday to land in the midst of that? My concern turned prayer all along this journey has been that our adopted child would not feel ostracized with a birthday landing at the opposite end of the calendar. To some children that might seem better. To others, like I was as a child, it would feel like an exclusion from the family. 

So, here we are.
Praying.
Hard.

Will you join us? 

This will be the third time our profile book is presented. It could very easily be dismissed yet again. This child may not be destined to be ours. But then again, it may. My prayer throughout all of this has been that when it is our turn to be chosen, the child in their mother’s womb would leap for joy. I pray this would be a sign and a source of peace to her that we are the right family for her child. 

Who knows, maybe this child is our rainbow baby.

Whether that’s the case or not, I can say with certainty: This year, the season of advent, the mounting anticipation awaiting the Savior’s birth, is not lost on me. God was doing something amazing in the years of waiting for the Messiah. He’s doing something amazing now.


*Crisis is defined as a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger. I emphasize the feeling words because it was anxiety that brought on my depression; a crisis rooted in my emotions not in my circumstances.  I want to be very clear on that because though I feel I can empathize through personal experience – not relate – with a mother in a crisis pregnancy on the emotional toll depression can have in unexpected pregnancy situations, I cannot and will not attempt to link ourselves in any way circumstantially.


Curious how this whole thing works? 

Here’s the generalized gist: 

  • Expectant mom, and when possible dad, are counseled by the adoption agency on whether or not creating an adoption plan is right for their child.
  • A few adoptive families with matching criteria are approached with each given situation and asked for permission to present their personalized profile book to said mom/couple. 
  • Typically only a few profile books (created by the adoptive families) are presented at a time. If she chooses to make an adoption plan, she selects a family.
  • From there, things can vary depending on the situation. Sometimes they desire to meet with the adoptive family, sometimes not. Specifics are sketchy, but once the two are officially “matched” monies are paid from adoptive family to the agency for processing fees and expectant mom for specific living expenses. 
  • Then, upon the child’s birth and subsequent placement in the adoptive family’s home, the largest sum of finances are due to help cover additional fees, legal requirements, post placement living expenses for mom, etc.
  • Follow-up visits occur with the adoptive family until the adoption is finalized as well as with mom (as long as she’s willing).

Not Okay…

Singing was my passion. Growing up I loved to share my gift. However, that didn’t make it easy.¬† On stage at our little country church, my heart would pound within me as the nerves sent trembling¬†waves through my chicken legs. I would avoid all eye contact but a few safe choices in the crowd. The honesty and genuine appreciation of my song of praise resounded through every smile of their shining eyes.

 

It bolstered my confidence to sing the next note.
And the next.
And the next.

At an early age, I had decided singing would be my career; my calling. I would sing everywhere I went hoping to be discovered by some big-wig passing through our little town of Ashtabula. Looking back, it feels like a silly dream. Less silly even so, however, than why it died: One negative criticism had a lasting effect.

It held me back from even pursuing any aspect of my passion for singing. I settled for the “easier” choir to get into in college. Fear held my vocal chords in knots at the one audition I pursued and at the declined result, I never tried again.

And that pattern has only continued.
It has held me back time and time again.
In far more ways than singing.

It’s this fear of stepping out onto the stage of life where the watching eyes form assumptions and conclusions based on one three minute segment. Where I’m judged by what I do or don’t do, say or don’t say, act or don’t act.¬†Will she succeed or will she fail; rise to the top or fall flat?¬†

Sure, writing it here sounds ridiculous, but I’m convinced I’m not the only one. I mean there’s a reason Wayne Gretzky’s quote is so popular, right?

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Adoption…

 

Adoption is scary. Plain and simple. Everyone has an opinion on it – ones they are often not afraid to share. Some are great! Some are harsh. Some come from personal experience; others come from simple-minded assumptions.

 

It feels as if I have stepped¬†onto this proverbial stage; one far greater than any I’ve previously known. I made the leap. Took the chance. I thought I’d set aside the fear to get here. Yet here it’s chased me down once more. The longer I stand here, the more intimidated I feel. The old patterns creep up my neck and threaten to strangle the progress the Lord has made in this heart.

 

The expression says, “No news is good news.” Usually meaning that no news from a friend often means things are good for them. However, as I dwell in this uncertain time of waiting, no news is hard to endure. It’s hard to continue answering the question of progress with, “Still waiting.” (Though the more I’m asked, the more I appreciate how we are thought of and our situation is cared for by so many.) I will also say, however, after three “rejections” – where a couple other than us was chosen to parent the child given by his/her mother/parents – I’m not sure my heart could handle such continual news anyway.

 

And so here we are still waiting.
The longing still present.
The desire still prevalent.

 

Yet all of it curbed in the fear it will never come to fruition.

 

I tend to tie up each of my posts here with an “it’s-all-good” feeling. Why, you ask? Because I need to believe it. The dialogue in my head fills the gamut between “This waiting is only for a season” to “It’ll never happen.”

 

And so I tie up every loose end with hope; hope my heart is desperately clinging to day-in and day-out. Hope this process won’t be for not. Hope that the God who calls, not only equips but is faithful in the details.

 

If I’m honest though, I’m not okay.
I’m weary.

 

My heart is pounding in my chest. I can feel the trembling waves course through my veins as the song continues to beg for my input. So I’m looking for those eyes in the audience. The eyes that will continue to believe¬†in me and¬†for me; in us and for¬†us. Who will gaze this direction with the warmth of their smiling eyes; who will exude confidence and bolster our own to go on to the next note…
And the next…
And the next…

 

 

 

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.

Psalm 34:19

The Dance of the Skies

This morning I awoke early. The glowing moon was huge in the night sky as it made its final decent. Though my first instinct was to snap a picture, the camera couldn’t grasp even a fraction of the beauty. So there I sat, perched at the window as the moon slipped below the horizon line, setting like the evening sun. The glow about it, hazed and divided by the ribbons of wispy clouds, chased swiftly after its source and soon disappeared as well. All that was left was the soft light of the early morning air devoid of a focal point.

 

Hours passed before the first morning light began to skip across the cloud ridges; turning the darkened sky aglow with shades of crimson and raspberry and scarlet. The dance illuminated the entire sky, sweeping from one side to the other. Until finally, the sun itself appeared over the ridge line. The shift in position pointed rays of sunlight across the frost covered earth as it awakened from the night’s rest.

 

Daily I’m overwhelmed with the vastness of the heavens. Mesmerized I gaze upward as the rhythms sway in and out the days; the clouds roll in and out the storms. With the constant expanse ever transpires a new surprise. Humbled yet filled with purpose I heed its display.

 

As this wait to be matched with our child draws out, the skies daily comfort this longing heart. The incredulous array of daily wonder are a steady reminder our God is in control. His voice that spoke into existence the grandness in which I marvel is still speaking life over our story.

 

We are not forgotten.
We are not dismayed.
We do not wait in despair or vain.

 

The timing this morning was perfect to witness such enormous splendor in the moon’s descent. I’m praying for eyes wide open as to not miss the miraculous in this season. Humbled, yet filled with purpose, I heed its display.

 

Today, I wait with renewed hope on the God who set in motion the dance of the skies. I marvel at how He is transforming this heart of mine as we live in the ebb and flow of this waiting. And I trust His perfect timing even as I long for it to be in mine.  After all, the most vibrant colors paint the sky when the sun in just out of reach.