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A look back

I started this post months ago and have been hesitant to share.  I don't ever want to come across as someone who claims to have figured out the magnificent and mysterious plan of God.  He knows all and sees all and has a plan that involves all of eternity.  I will never comprehend it and that makes me look at Him in awe.

But looking back on the 3 years that we waited for our daughter to arrive, I can see that God was preparing us. He used various circumstances to get us ready for her grand and sudden entrance into our family.  Check out one incident that happened about 5 months before she was born:

One afternoon in the spring, we received a phone call from our social worker.  A baby had been born who needed a home.  With very few details, we decided to move forward.  A conference call with our attorney and social workers was scheduled for 9 PM.

At this point, I was in shock.  In an effort to prepare and process what was happening, I pulled out some baby clothes and went to Target for diapers and formula.  I can't say that it helped much.  We were about to become parents again overnight!

The conference call lasted about 45 minutes.  After finding out more details about the situation, we were left feeling torn.  Our attorney's honest assessment of the situation revealed a high legal risk.  If we chose to adopt this baby, there was a chance that we would find ourselves in a custody battle.  There was a possibility that the baby could be taken from our home someday.  

How in the world were we supposed to make this decision overnight?  It seemed impossible.  Was this a time when we were supposed to take a leap of faith in spite of the lack of peace we were feeling?  Was this the baby that we had been waiting for?  Or was our lack of peace a sign that this was not the right baby for us?

It probably goes without saying that not much sleep was had that night.  The next morning, I spent some time out on our back porch praying.  I still did not feel at peace about the situation and neither did my husband.  I wanted to move forward.  I wanted to be able to feel confident about getting in the car and going to get that baby.  But I didn't.  

I called our social worker in tears and told her no.  It was horrible.  I second-guessed our decision.  How could I turn away from something that I had wanted for so long?  

But the bottom line was that neither of us felt a peace about the situation.  As days passed by, we eventually became more confident in the decision we had made.  

Fast forward 5 months...

We received a phone call about a baby that had been born who needed a home.

Dejavu, right?

We moved step by step through the situation, and 22 hours later brought our daughter home. 

I believe that God used the situation in the spring to prepare us for our daughter's arrival.   It was a sort of "dry run," so to speak.  There were details about our daughter's situation that made it clear that she was the one for us.  Details that gave us the courage to move forward into what God had for us.  

I am often reminded of the lyrics by Steven Curtis Chapman:

"God is God and I am not.  We can only see a part of the picture He's painting."

It is cool to be able to look back and catch a glimpse of what He was weaving.  I know that there is SO MUCH MORE of the tapestry of my life and our daughter's life and her birth family's life that is hidden from me.  I don't know all of the whys and hows.  I am ok with that.  It is part of what makes God, GOD, right?

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"We make our plans, BUT GOD..."

We had every reason to give up.  The average wait time for a domestic adoption was 1 year.  It had been almost 3 years.  I watched all the other prospective adoptive couples on the agency website disappear as they brought their children home.   In my rough estimation, we were passed over by about 75 birth families. We waited only 3 weeks to be chosen by our first child's birth mother.  We had no reason to think that it wouldn't happen again.  Our adoption workers could offer no explanation .  

In November 2011 when our firstborn was only 15 months old, I was worshipping with our church family.  I distinctly remember God impressing upon my heart, "Do not be afraid to start the adoption process again."  It seemed early.  Our son was so young, but we decided to go for it.  

As months turned into years, I began to question God's leading on that Sunday.  Why would He lead us to adoption again if the process was only going to result in heartache and tears?  What was God doing here?

In 2014, I began to look into international adoption.  Up until that spring, I didn't even know that it was an option for us.  Back in 2006 when we first started looking at adoption, we were told that we were ineligible for international adoption due to medical concerns.  I was stunned to learn that international adoption was an option.  I honestly didn't know what to do with the information.  Was God changing our direction?  Was our child waiting for us somewhere overseas?

My husband and I talked and prayed and talked and prayed some more.  I talked to international adoption specialists and read up on different countries.  

But we never had a peace about moving in that direction.  There were obstacles in every direction.   Adopting from another country is no simple task. There are several factors to consider. We all see beautiful families everywhere who have made the journey, but it certainly isn't simple and definitely not for everyone.

On  August 15, 2015, my husband and I sat in his truck in a parking lot.  I was melting down in a puddle of frustration and despair.  We had recently experienced another disappointment in our adoption journey and emotions were running high.  I was certain that I could not bear another disappointment and rejection.  I felt like I was falling apart.  I wanted to quit.  But how could we  walk away from the possibility of another child?  How could we give up on the child that we felt God had for us?  

That morning in the truck, we came up with a "plan."  We decided to stay in the domestic adoption program for a few more months.  If we did not have a placement by the end of that time period, we were going to drop out and pursue international adoption.   Did we have a peace about our "plan"?  Not really.  Were we convinced that it was what God was leading us to do?  No.  

But in the end, our "plan" did not matter.

God is sovereign.

And He had a better plan.

That Saturday, August 15, 2015, our daughter was born.  

"We can make our plans, but the final outcome is in God's hands."

Proverbs 16:1

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Be Brave: Watch the Planned Parenthood videos

 

Abortion. 

Somewhere along the way, I had started to ignore its horrors.   It was just another one of those evils in the world that I could not control.  It was legal and there was nothing I could do to change that.

My husband and I tried for years to have children.  We tried artificial reproductive techniques several times without success.  No doctor has ever been able to tell us why we cannot conceive. 

In the midst of the pain of infertility, I couldn’t allow myself to think about the fact that there were thousands of woman getting pregnant and killing their babies.  It would have made me even crazier than I already was.  I avoided the posts on abortion on social media.  I did not listen to segments on the news.  When the Planned Parenthood videos were released, I had no intentions of watching them.  I didn't see the point.

When I tell people that we have been waiting for years to adopt our second child, I am met with looks of disbelief:

Person: “But there are "so many children" out there that need to be adopted!”

Me:  “really?  Well where are they?”

Today, I got my answer.

I got brave and watched.

I saw the "so many children" in pieces, in a container that looked like one of my 9X13 baking dishes.  The people in the lab were talking about the “specimens” as if they were talking about mining coal.  The callousness of the technicians was, well, there is no word to adequately describe it. 

Watching the videos sparked something inside me. Anger. I cannot in good conscience keep my head buried in the sand.  I cannot turn my head the other way.  I cannot just breeze over the stories that are being talked about in the news.

I just. Can't.

I can list reasons why I shouldn't get involved:

-it hurts

-I don't have anything to offer

-This world is too far gone

But those are just excuses. 

Babies are being killed.  People are being killed.

I will no longer look the other way.  I will educate myself.  I will pray.  I will keep my eyes open for ways to save the preborn children.  I want to be able to look my children and grandchildren in the eyes and tell them that I did my part to end the great genocide of our generation.

Be Brave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Am I going the right way, God?

I am WORN OUT.  Drained emotionally, Spiritually weary.  Physically exhausted.  

My hopes have soared over the possibility of another child in our home, only to come crashing down...hard.

Birth mothers are just not choosing us to parent their child.  For some reason, they are not connecting with our family.  

I don't get it.  I have driven myself crazy asking why.  

The emotional roller coaster is exhausting.   I don't know how to NOT get excited when a possibility presents itself.  I don't know how to move on with life without allowing thoughts of this baby to consume my thoughts, my dreams....without allowing myself to lose sleep over this child that I have never met.  I don't know how to say, "Oh well, maybe next time." and just move on with my day as if my heart is not breaking.  

I don't know how to not care...to be content enough to not want another child.  I don't know how to let go of this dream.  

...and I am not convinced that I am supposed to let go.

When these disappointments hit, I naturally question whether or not we are supposed to just drop out of the adoption process altogether.  We have heard "no" dozens of times.  Is God trying to tell us something?  Are we just refusing to hear?  Refusing to see His will?  The problem is, my husband and I both feel that there is another child out there for us.  I can't ignore that feeling, that desire...just like I couldn't and didn't ignore the desire to be a mom when we were trying for our first.  

We don't have a peace about quitting.

Am i being stubborn?  Am I refusing to surrender to God's plan for our life?

I really don't know.  I am not going to pretend to know.  In this moment, I just feel sad.  

God sees my tears.  He has promised to comfort me.

Today, I will allow Him to do just that.

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Recently, I wrote a post about arrows that distract us on our journey to parenthood.

There is no easy solution or answer to the pain, frustration, and confusion that comes along with infertility.  Oh how I wish that there were!  Over the past 12 years, I have discovered some things that helped me persevere through it all.  None of these ideas are perfect or foolproof, but they did help me. 

 

Focus: It is so easy to get distracted…so easy to focus on what you do not have.  I want to encourage you to focus on what you DO have:

God

Relationships

Career

Church

Neighbors

Don’t buy into the lie (like I did) that you don’t have a purpose unless you are a mom! 

Visualize blinders on your face...blinders that block the distractions and allow you to focus on what God has placed in front of you. 

Live with intention.  Go after the relationships and ministries in your life with everything you’ve got! 

Journaling Scripture:  I am super analytical.  When I found myself not pregnant month after month, my mind would kick into high gear.  What was wrong with me?  Why wasn’t the medicine working?  Would I ever be a mom?  Around and around the thoughts would go.  The BEST thing I found to steady my mind and my heart was to write a verse from the Psalms out in my journal and personalize it.  Looking back, I wish I had done this more consistently.  The Word of God truly is food for the soul!

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”
Psalm 119:103

Group Exercise: I have never been athletic.  In high school and college, I hated the aches and sweat that came along with exercise.  In the beginning of our journey to parenthood, we joined a gym.  I started taking group exercise classes and was HOOKED!  The music and energy I got from the instructor motivated me.  I found myself challenging myself and pushing myself to do things I never thought I could do.  In a weight class, I remember thinking, “Wow, if I can make it through this class, I can handle the challenge of infertility!”  Pushing myself physically made me stronger mentally.

Bounce” your eyes: When you are walking through the mall and pass by the Motherhood Maternity store, quickly look at something else.  Don’t allow your eyes to linger on those cute pregnancy clothes.  Don’t give your mind a chance to start envisioning how you would look in that outfit in the window. 

Filter Facebook:  Manage your social media wisely!  If a friend of yours is pregnant and posts often to social media, consider “unfollowing” them for a time.  This way, you won’t be bombarded by baby stuff every time you get on social media, but you can choose to check out their page when you feel like it.  Some days are better than others.  Some days you can handle the baby pics and some days you cannot.  This is simply a way of guarding your heart.   

Just Say No to baby showers:  This is so tricky.  On the one hand, you want to be excited for your friend and celebrate with them.  But on the other hand, being at a party watching your dream come true for someone else while all the while wondering why it wasn’t happening for you hardly seems like a wise idea.  So, I am here to say that it is ok to NOT attend a baby shower.  And you need to give yourself permission to decline an invitation.  Infertility is an emotional roller coaster with potentially deep lows.  If you are in the midst of a low, why pour more salt into the wound?  Plan a date day/night with your hubby instead!  Your friend will certainly understand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dear First-Time Adoptive Mom,

 


Dear First-Time Adoptive Mother,

Congratulations!!!  You are a MOM!

All the years of hoping and dreaming have finally become a reality.  You are holding the baby of your dreams in your arms.  Your empty, aching arms are now full…and still aching, but for a much more pleasant reason :) 

You are met with smiles everywhere you go.  Who doesn’t love the sight of a tiny human snuggled in a stroller?

Even doing laundry is a little more fun now.  Isn’t it great to pull those tiny little clothes from the warm dryer, fold, and put them away in the cute nursery?

Amidst the joy and excitement, you may be feeling other things as well…feelings that you didn’t expect:

Exhaustion

Anxiety

Overwhelm

Sadness

In all the time you spent hoping for a baby, you may not have given much thought to the reality of life after a baby.  You didn’t think about the sleep deprivation, the backaches, and the feelings of inadequacy.  All you could think about was the cuteness of baby clothes, the joy of baby giggles, and the satisfaction that motherhood brings.

You may be thinking: “What is wrong with me?  I have wanted this all my life.  I have been desperately trying everything in my power to bring a child into our family.  Why am I feeling bad?  Shouldn’t I feel ecstatic all the time?”

You know what?  It’s ok.  I am here to tell you that YOU ARE NORMAL!  Of course you are exhausted!  You are now responsible for another human being.  Of course you are overwhelmed!  Your life has been turned upside down.  And quite possibly, you did not have the typical 9 months to prepare for this huge change.  Adoption is such an emotional experience!

And sadness.  You may feel sad for the birth mom who carried your child in her belly for 9 months.  You wonder how she is doing.  How must she feel after placing her baby in your arms? 

I grieved for the birth mom because I could not imagine how difficult it must have been for her to choose adoption.  I felt guilty (false guilt) sometimes because I was so happy.  I felt like I was depriving her of the joy that this child was bringing me. 

It will take time to process everything.  Give yourself time.  Give yourself permission to feel the vast array of emotions that are flooding your heart.  You will not always feel tired and overwhelmed.  Pray for the birth mom when she comes to your mind.  You have a unique opportunity to be a part of what God wants to do in this woman’s life.  Pray daily for the strength to get through the sleep deprivation and backaches.  God will give you everything that you need. 

He is faithful!

Alyssa



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Arrows: Handling Distractions that Threaten to Steal Your Joy

 

I am walking through the mall, and pass the Motherhood Maternity store. 

I am on Facebook, and a video pops up of a friend announcing the sex of their baby in a really fun way.

I am in Target shopping for things to decorate my home, and I pass by the baby section.

Suddenly, I am thinking about all the dreams that haven’t come true for me.  I am fantasizing about the “cute” maternity clothes that I have never been able to wear.  The sight of a cute set of sleepers has brought me to tears. 

I have been shot by an arrow.

They come out of nowhere.  I am going about my day, feeling content, focused, accomplished.   Those feelings are replaced by sorrow, fear, frustration, and anger.    I feel like my world has been turned upside down.  I am distracted.  All I can think about are babies and how my life has not turned out the way I had hoped and planned.  My heart aches. 

Years into our journey to parenthood, those arrows still pierce my heart.  And honestly, I get annoyed with myself.  After all this time, shouldn’t I be immune to the distraction that these things create?  Shouldn’t I be strong enough by now? 

No!

I am not immune.

I am not strong enough…

On my own, that is…

 

While I still deal with the negative emotions/distractions, I have learned to handle them better.  Instead of consuming me and ruining my whole day (or week if I am to be completely honest), I have learned to remove the arrows and allow God to heal my heart.

God has taken me on a journey that has resulted in a deeper relationship with Him.  He is healing wounds inside me that I never thought would heal.  He is giving me an eternal perspective.

It has been a process...a long process. Oh, how I longed for it to happen fast!  I wanted to be strong.  I wanted the sadness to disappear.  I wanted to be spiritually mature.

But growth does not happen overnight.

For me, the key to growth has been consistency in the Word.  The only way to maintain an eternal perspective is to fill our minds with the words of our Lord.

Scripture has the power to change us-to make us more like Christ!

 

"…let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect."  Hebrew 12:2

 

I am so much stronger when I am in the Word!  When envy threatens to steal my joy, I am able to resist that temptation and regain my focus on the Lord and on eternal things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1. Ask, "What can I do for you?"  Infertility is an emotional roller coaster.  One moment, you can feel happy and light-hearted and the next down in the depths of despair.  It is filled with moments of sadness, anger, confusion, frustration, anxiety, hope, and peace.  Many times, I didn’t even understand what I was feeling!  Instead of trying to guess what your friend may need, ask them!  Ask how you can pray for them.  Asking will give your friend an opportunity to identify her needs and make them known.  It is much more comfortable to tell someone what you need after they have already asked! 

2. Wish her a Happy Mother’s Day  Wait...what?!  Yes, you read that correctly. This one is definitely counter-intuitive.  I never would have come up with it on my own.  I will never forget when my friend wrote to me, “Happy Mother’s Day, to a woman with a mother’s heart.”  My heart swelled.  I felt loved, recognized, and included.  Mother’s Day is one of the most difficult days of the year for those longing for a child.  No matter how brave I tried to be, I would inevitably end up crying in the bathroom at church.  My friend made that particular Mother’s Day just a bit easier to bear.

3. Remind her that God is on her side:  One of my relatives whom I hadn’t seen in awhile encouraged me with this thought.  The truth of this statement hit me hard.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was feeling like God was against me!  With every month that passed, every failed treatment and adoption attempt, I was feeling like God was not working for my good.  It was a powerful reminder for me to hear that God was with me.

“The Lord is for me.  I will not be afraid.”

Psalm 118:6

4.  Offer to take her out:  Shopping, movies, pedicure, ice cream, coffee, a walk..anything fun to help her relax and take her mind off of things!

5. Write a note: A text, e-mail, or card.  A simple “I love you and am thinking about you” goes a long way.  I highly recommend a comforting verse from the Psalms.  God promises that His Word will never return void.

“so My word that comes from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do." 

Isaiah 55:11
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There are days when I can literally feel my soul fighting with God.

I want another child now.

It feels like the right time.

I can name a dozen reasons why now would be a good time.

I know in my head that God has a plan.  I know that His ways are higher.  I know that He calls me to surrender my life to Him.

 

But I cannot… or will not… let go.

 

And when I cannot let go, I am miserable.  I feel panicky because there is nothing I can do to change the situation.  I am anxious.  I am depressed. 

I try to make our family grow.

I look at other options.

But right now, we believe that we are right where God wants us.

And sometimes I don’t like it.

Little by little, Jesus works on my heart.  He comforts me.  He makes me thankful.  He helps me loosen the grip on my life.  He reminds me that I “…see through a glass darkly…”  (I Cor. 13:12)  I cannot see the big picture.  I never will. 

 

When I start to let go…when I stop fighting…when I bring myself back under God’s authority…I can breathe again.  I regain focus.  Peace that passes all understanding returns.

We all have something on our life that we would like to change.  I dare say that no one on this earth is completely content with themselves, their relationships, or their circumstances.  It is so easy to get wrapped up in ourselves and think that the hand we are dealt is so hard and so unique. 

But the truth is, even Jesus had to let go of His desires and surrender to His Father’s will.  Right before He went to the cross, we begged His heavenly Father to get Him out of this. 

 

“My Father!  If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”

Luke 22:42

 

May I desire the will of my Father above all else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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