Mother’s Day Thoughts.

{Disclaimer: I know for a lot of women who are struggling with infertility or waiting to adopt Mother’s Day is a painful reminder of what they want so badly. What I’d like to share today doesn’t come from that place, but I hope you’ll understand that my experience in no way invalidates yours. As you’ll see in my thoughts, we all come at this motherhood thing from a different place, and we should support one another in our walks!}

I approached Mother’s day this year from a place of curiosity. I wasn’t nervous about attending the service, or upset about the inevitable flowers that would be handed out to mothers. I attribute this in large part to two things – a) I’m in a much more stable emotional place right now than I was back in the fall. If Mother’s day had fallen in October I would have been a sobbing mess probably. b) From early on I prayed against jealousy and ‘baby fever’ in my life, because I had read how it was a struggle for so many women in my position. God has truly honored that prayer, and I believe He strengthened me again on Mother’s day.

But since I wasn’t feeling anxious or upset, I wondered what I would feel exactly.

Chris went to be with his mom that weekend, so I headed off to church on my own. When I sat down, I took a moment to acknowledge the flowers {dun, dun, duuuuuuuuun!} and tried to prepare my heart for what God had for me through the worship and service. I had a sweet time of worship, smiled at the chubby cheeked baby in front of me, and prayed alongside my church family as babies were dedicated to the Lord. Our pastor has a very gentle heart, so when he recognized mothers for the ‘flower ceremony’ he also asked those who fill the role of a mother to stand and receive a flower as well. I knew that I could stand, but chose instead to sit and look around, to thank God for the mothers in my church who I have learned from and be blessed by.

That’s when God really began to open my heart to what probably goes on in the hearts of mothers on this day meant to celebrate them. The enemy would like to have us feel alone…isolated in our pain…to pit those without children against those who have children. But instead of feeling alone, I felt…amazed.

You see, there I sat…childless. Having recently given to God the opportunity to have a biological child…waiting on His timing to welcome adopted embryos into my heart and womb. But I wasn’t alone.

Behind me sat a mother with a row full of children {seriously, I don’t even know for sure how many kids she has, but I know it’s a lot!}…but I knew one was missing. She had shared with me a while back that her adult son passed away a few years ago. I praised God for her strength…it couldn’t have been an easy day to come to church…to celebrate being a mother…while knowing that one of your babies was gone.

I knew somewhere in the congregation was a sweet, sweet teacher who has never married. {I have a few friends like that actually, women who long to be married…to be a mother…but for whom neither of those things has happened yet.} She is a foster parent who has two little ones right now, and it was only a few months ago that she had to give a child back whom she had taken home from the hospital and raised for 14 months with the hopes of adopting. Her arms were full, but I know her heart had to be aching.

My dear friend & pastors wife sat with their 3 girls…but she’s been waiting two years now on God to move and match them with a baby through traditional adoption. Her heart longs for His promise and call to be fulfilled, and I know she struggles to understand why they are still waiting.

The more I looked, the more types of mothers I saw…single moms, moms who {like my own} have lost their mothers, moms with wayward children who have been praying faithfully for years for their return. Moms with toddlers who are tired, who struggle with wondering if they are getting this mom thing right. There were stepmoms, grandmas, grandmas raising their grandchildren…moms-to-be, at least one who had just found out a few days prior. Moms of teenagers {all blessings to you!}, moms who grew their families through adoption, and women who act as ‘surrogate’ mothers to so many. I know of a mom for whom Mother’s Day marked the one year anniversary of her baby girl’s birth AND death…a baby that she carried to term knowing there was no chance of survival outside of the womb. Working moms, stay-at-home moms, homeschooling moms…

You see, I think there’s a lot of truth in the statement that the struggle is part of the story. Being a mom is no walk in the park. Waiting to be a mom is no piece of cake. But God has grace enough for all…and He is glorified through the strength and beauty that I saw shining through so many women that day. I pray that He was shining through me.

motherhood

So that’s what God was up to in my heart this past mother’s day…it’s a lesson I hope I never forget. It reminded me of how necessary it is that we be honest with one another in our struggles and joys, how important it is that we lift one another up in word & prayer.

And yes, I did end up receiving a flower. A couple actually, given to me by the children of sweet friends. I kept one to enjoy as a reminder of the day…and gave the other to a woman in the church who, while not a biological mother herself, is faithful to pray for me, hug me, and who genuinely cares about me. That sounds like the heart of a mother to me.

Blessed am I.

 

It’s not you…It’s me.

Two posts in one day…it’s my blog so I figured “Why not?” 😉

As the last post said, we did have a family request to match with us. In the end, we decided it wasn’t the right fit for us. Here’s the chain of events…because I’m still hoping & praying that at some point along the way we will get the opportunity to encourage someone else who has decided to follow God in this wild thing called embryo adoption. Gotta remember everything! 😉

Thursday Evening

We received the e-mail and looked over the information. There were a lot of great things jumping out at us about the family, but the overall emotion was being overwhelmed by how real it all felt, and weirded out. {Nothing but honesty here.}

Chris initially launched into this “you shouldn’t swing at the first pitch, so maybe we shouldn’t take the first set of embryos” line of thought. That kind of talk caused me to dig in a little, and honestly made me a little defensive of this set/family from the start. I didn’t know for sure that they were the ones, I just didn’t want them to be counted out because they were the first profile we looked at.

Friday

I e-mailed our rep to ask her a few questions to help us further understand the matching process. I’m sure she could read our uncertainty, so she said if it wasn’t the right fit for us, there was no harm in moving on and trying a different match. Again, I panicked a little…I didn’t want to feel like these embryos were being counted out/taken away before we had the chance to really see how we felt about them.

I responded with an explanation of how we were feeling, and she was very kind & encouraging. Around that time Chris talked to our friend and got over his baseball analogy business, and at that point we moved forward with sending the necessary information to the doctor for him to look over. {Interestingly enough, although I can’t say I was that surprised, we aren’t considered to match with some of the families because they don’t want to match with someone who will be a working mother. Womp womp.}

Saturday

We didn’t talk about it much, {Chris was out of town, I was busy} but we were both thinking on it…

Sunday

Honestly, I think I just got a little sucked into Mother’s Day. I mean, it is pretty incredible that there is a mother somewhere who is willing to give me these precious little parts of her. And since I had a face/name of someone who was willing to do that, I just got swept up. {Plus I knew I was going to be seeing my mom after all…not part of the original plan for that day.} So I texted Chris and asked if he thought we should tell our parents. That was enough encouragement for him, and by days end we had told our parents and siblings about the potential match.

No one lost their minds over it or anything…everyone recognized it wasn’t a done deal…and it was definitely cool for everyone to see that this is real and it is happening.

Monday

Spent most of the day waiting to hear back from the doctor, but really started realizing that while this match looked ideal, my heart just wasn’t fully committed. At some point it occurred to me that I was thinking more along the lines of “Why not them?” than “Yes, God! This is them!”

We received the e-mail from the doctor Monday evening, which was concise and almost exactly what I was expecting. He wasn’t fully convinced. Additionally, he had received some other information regarding the pregnancies/embryos which did affect our potential success rates.

At that point I think we both just realized that our conviction that these embryos were ‘the ones’ didn’t outweigh the odds that the doctor was giving us. We recognize that “odds” mean nothing to our Lord, but we certainly don’t want to push ahead without Him. We want the embryos that HE has for us, and we’re praying for confirmation and the strong conviction to recognize them when they are presented.

Once we kind of pulled it all together in our hearts and minds and made the decision to decline the match, we felt a mixture of relief and sadness. Relief for us, which was another confirmation that this was the right move…and sadness for this sweet family who made themselves so vulnerable for our sake.

{If I could tell them anything, it would be how much we appreciate them looking over our profile and seeing something in us that led them to want to ‘match’ with us. I’d want them to know how incredible we think they are for making this choice for their embryos, for sharing the heart of their family, for allowing us to learn about them and see pictures of their sweet family. I’d want to tell them that we are praying for them, and for the family God has for them.}

We called our parents to let them know what we were thinking. Everyone was great – very supportive & understanding…but we felt bad for having told them all about it just to not accept the match. So we’re back to our original plan – nobody knows nothin’ – until we are officially matched.

Tuesday {today}

I e-mailed our rep at the agency and let her know our decision. Of course it was lengthy and wordy because that’s how I am…because I needed her to understand where we were coming from. She was understanding and ready to move forward to make another match, so that was good to hear.

Additionally, we lowered the number of embryos that we were willing to accept. Part of the struggle with this particular set was that there were 7 embryos. When we considered that we didn’t pursue IVF ourselves because of the potential for remaining embryos, paired with the fact that we don’t really want anywhere near 7 kids…we felt like we couldn’t honor all of those embryos in the way God has called us to. So as we move forward in matching, our number is now around 4. We have more of a peace about that number.

{I could go more into that…there are so many different scenarios that could play out as a result of the number of embryos we accept, but it’s just all so unknown. The main point is that we feel a peace with 4 and we’re trusting God with the details.}

To wrap it all up…

– We are back in matching. 🙂

– A lot of lessons were learned through this particular experience. Chris is more familiar now with how matching will work…we’ve got some of the initial jitters out of the way…we know how our doctor is looking at the embryos…we know that we want to keep it to ourselves until it’s a definite…we know how many embryos we are good with… There’s a learning curve here without a doubt, but we’re making it!

– There are some fears that I’m praying against {I read a great blog on that just today though…thanks ‘Waiting For Baby Bird’!} which center around “Is this totally crazy? Am I totally crazy?” // “What if that was the best option we had and we turned it down?” // “These odds from the doctor are not very encouraging…” I’ve just been reminding myself…fear is not from God and feelings don’t always tell the truth…then going back to the truth of God’s word and of what He has revealed to us about His plan for growing our family & glorifying His name.

So that’s where we’re at. God’s got this. We will wait on His timing & revelation.

Blessed am I.

 

One Week & One Day Later

May 8, 2014

I’m posting this after the fact…so even as I write this, I’m not sure if I’ll be posting it after I say “We’re matched!” or to say that we had a family interested in matching with us, but didn’t feel it was a fit for us.

Either way…today, at this moment, we have a family who has chosen us.

{Insert me doubled over doing a lot of deep breathing while alternately eating the cookies Chris automatically started making.}

After being ‘in matching’ for exactly one week and a day, we got an e-mail with a “Dear Adoptive Parents” letter, family bio, and medical history from a family that is interested in placing their embryos with us.

I knew this embryo adoption business moved at a faster pace than traditional adoption, but wow.

It’s incredible and terrifying and overwhelming and mind-boggling and about a hundred other emotions all at once.

When the e-mail came in I texted a prayer warrior friend of mine and asked her to start praying. The initial information presented in the e-mail wasn’t quite what we had been hoping for {as far as the amount of time the embryos had been frozen, etc}, so I knew we would need God’s wisdom and peace as we decided how to move forward. I didn’t open any of the attachments until I was at home and with Chris. {He thought I was joking when I said we already had a request for a match…I can’t get it through his head that this process could go really quickly!}

We read through their letter & biography, reading aloud snippets that caught our attention or interested us. Their biography & letter sounded just like they were talking to us…although surreal, their words felt comfortable and it was obvious that they are a loving family. Right or wrong, I think we were both holding our breath waiting to see the pictures at the end of the writing. They were beautiful, all of them…and the little children were precious, one of whom has a lot of the same features that I do. {I may or may not have pulled one of my childhood pictures up right next to hers…It turns out they are even from the same area Chris was born / spent his childhood years in.

Of course by the pictures I was crying, the thought of it all just so overwhelming and wild.

After a few more minutes of talking…and honestly, of freaking out a little…we decided to hold off on telling anyone else right away. Moments like that are a lot to process, plus there was a bit of research that I needed to do on the stage of the embryos. We stepped away from the conversation for a few minutes…both needing some space to breathe and think.

*****

May 9, 2014

My first thoughts when I woke up this morning were the names of the couple who chose us. I fell asleep praying for them, I woke up thinking about them. It’s so weird to have names and faces…definitely makes it more real.

Today we played phone tag back and forth from work while we tried to keep working our way through this. Chris was still feeling ‘weirded out’ by the whole thing, not sure if we should agree to the first presented match…so we decided to talk to a couple of people who know who have adopted to see if what we’re feeling is normal. The coworker/friend that I spoke to was really helpful…I thought it was funny when she shared that her biggest panic was when she found out she was pregnant with her 6th child. It reminded me that some struggles aren’t specific to adoption, they are specific to parenting…and that even though I have been processing and preparing for this exact moment, Christ apparently hasn’t.

Typical. 😉

Chris called and talked to his ‘mentor’ {I’m calling him that; they would probably hate it! Ha!} who, God bless his soul, said exactly what I needed him to say. Basically, he told Chris that a) this was an answer to prayer, not a complication or unwanted ‘advance,’ b) there was nothing wrong with matching with the first couple if they were a good fit, and c) that he was going to kick Chris’ rear if he didn’t stop overthinking this whole thing.

After that conversation Chris sounded much more like himself. Although he still felt a little weird about the whole thing {I do too if I think about it for very long at once…not in a bad way, just in a ‘this is totally new and unknown’ kind of way.} we did decide that these could be the ones and we wanted to move forward with having the doctor review the embryo information.

****************

So that’s where we are right now. Waiting to hear back from the doctor. It’s still completely our decision, no matter what he says…and the research I’ve done looks like this is a pretty good set of embryos. I also e-mailed a bit with the Snowflake Program director who explained a bit more why she saw us as a fit {just trying to understand the process more fully!} which helped settle our nerves a bit.

Part of me hates to even write all of this. We’ve been praying for a moment like this, and I don’t want to take it for granted or sound ungrateful.

I think the main hesitation on our part is just born out of a need to catch our breath, to steady ourselves in this new reality….to see if God further confirms this particular family as the match for us.

Either way, it’s pretty amazing.

Blessed am I.

 

God – showing up & showing off

This past weekend we had our BIG fundraiser garage sale to help fund our adoption/medical expenses. When I first had the idea for a garage sale, it seemed like the thing to do. I cleaned out our closets during a couple of bad weather days, stacked a few measly boxes in the corner of the garage, and figured “Hey, something is better than nothing, right?!”

The last couple of years my girlfriends and I have had a joint garage sale…the first time we raised money for a family in our church that was going overseas as missionaries, and the second time we were earning money for one of the girls & her family to go on a mission trip. I extended the offer to them to join in with me again this year, and they automatically agreed to donate & help me set up / run the sale.

As the sale grew closer, and more people came to know about our plans to adopt, I extended the offer to our families, my coworkers, and other friends from church to donate any ‘treasures’ they were looking to part with. I also began praying that God would be glorified through our garage sale…through the giving, the buying, the total amount raised…just all of it.

But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine what He had planned.

Sometimes…okay, maybe a lot of the time…I think I ask too little, dream to small, just flat don’t expect enough of this incredible God I serve.

So I want to praise Him today…celebrate Him for what He did this past weekend…for the way His name was glorified through a garage sale of all things.

**Thank you God, for the way you took a few boxes…just odds and ends…and multiplied them into just this incredible amount of treasures and clothes and necessities to be sold.

**Thank you Father, for the way so many members of our family, friends, coworkers, church family, and even random garage sale shoppers donated so generously. It was wild to see how that little pile grew, to see people coming to the sale and then coming back to donate, and neighbors bringing by big items to put out for day 2.

**Thank you Lord, for the family & friends who pitched in to make the sale happen…there’s no way we could have gotten everything set up & unloaded, arranged and rearranged, packed up & hauled off…without all of their help. They came early in the morning, they stayed late, they worked without complaining, they drove in from out of town. They were the hands & feet of Christ in our life, and it was powerful to see them all come together to support and encourage us. This is what you call us to God…living life together and coming together to glorify your name & support one another in your calling. One of my greatest blessings in life is having these people & relationships in my life.

**Thank you for those who shared our flier & Facebook status to help get the word out about what we were doing & why. Not many people thank you for Facebook these days, but it was a really helpful tool for us to get the word out. To you be the glory!

**Thank you for the neighbors who stopped by…to shop, to chat, to donate, to offer ladders & poles to construct a way to hang clothes, to walk Huxley so that he could get a little fresh air. I met neighbors I hadn’t met before, and was blessed by those we pass each day as we walk Huxley each morning and evening.

**Thank you for the need we were able to meet in our community. Because we had so many different people donating, we had a little something for anyone who stopped by to shop. Hardly anyone left without something, and many were thrilled to find nice clothes, toiletries, books, and more.

**Thank you for the fun that people had at the sale…both us and those who came to shop. The atmosphere was friendly, You were present, the weather was beautiful…and I think a lot of people just had a genuinely good time digging through the sale.

**Thank you for those who gave above and beyond what they bought at the sale. There were so many, a lot of whom we don’t even know personally, who gave because they believe in adoption & wanted to support us. Then there were those dear people, whose hearts you prompted, to give so generously through love offerings. That was the completely overwhelming part…the part that humbles me and brings tears to my eyes even at this moment. Each gift was so unexpected and incredible, and I pray blessings upon blessings for them and their families.

**Thank you for the stories that came out of the sale…of husbands leading their wives in prayer, of others witnessing the way our home group comes together to support one another, of sweet adoption stories.

**Thank you for the chance to share this call with so many people…basically all of whom had never heard of embryo adoption before. We pray that you would use that to your glory, for your kingdom.

**Thank you that we were able to find a ‘home’ for the items remaining after the sale.

**Thank you for teaching me new lessons, for continuing to change my heart through your amazing provision and for the care you lavished on us through the garage sale. Thank you for confirming your call to us, and for funding our adoption expenses…plus legal and some medical!

**Thank you for your majesty and goodness…for showing up and showing off.

Praise you, praise you!

Blessed am I.

Baffled and Blessed

Sweet baby,

At this point in time, you are literally just a twinkle in our eyes…a whisper of hope in our hearts…a prayer we’ve been praying. Actually, a prayer that quite a few people have been praying. 🙂 You already exist…are already known by our Creator…and yet we haven’t met. Never in my life have I felt more baffled and blessed {to borrow a phrase from my mom} than I do as I wait to see how God works all of this out.

There’s a quote that I love…maybe I’ll hang it in your nursery someday…that says “This is the start of your sweet little story, the part where your page meets mine. No matter where your tale takes you tomorrow, our story will always read love.”

Our pages haven’t met yet, but trust me little one, our story has already begun.

When we made the decision not to pursue biological children, I grieved the loss of a little life {or lives} I would never know. It was strange to me then that I could miss someone I had never met. And now here I am again…finding myself in these moments of wistfulness, missing these little souls that I am already beginning to love in my heart & hope to someday hold.

Somewhere there’s a family preparing to place you with us…to give you a chance to live. We’re praying for them too, curiously wondering where they might be, what circumstances brought them to this place. Making this decision won’t be easy for them, but it is one for which we will always be incredibly grateful. I’m looking forward to seeing their pictures, once a match is made, so that I can start to get more of an idea of what you might look like.

Then there’s us. Filling out forms and mailing applications, saving money and dreaming of little baby things, telling people about this wild thing called embryo adoption and praying that God will receive all glory for leading us down this path. There has been some fear in walking this road, and there will likely be more, but I’ve found such freedom and support and encouragement through sharing this calling with our family, friends, and coworkers.

The way you’ll join our family is shaping up to be one crazy adventure…fairly unprecedented…so our prayer {for quite a long time I’m thinking!} will be that God would pave the path for us as we establish this ‘new normal’ in our life. I like that it won’t be ‘abnormal’ to you…it will just be part of who you are. You already have this amazing testimony of love and life and God’s faithfulness…it’s just incredible.

As I think of what I might say…the day I see you before our embryo transfer, or in sonogram pictures, or as I hold you for the first time…I keep thinking it might be something like what I said to your Dad on the day we were married…

“Thank you for coming…”

Simple, I know. {It’s also been called dorky, but that’s something about me you are just going to have to get used to!}  I just felt such gratitude that he had chosen me…that I was going to be his wife. And I can only imagine the way my heart will swell when I realize that God has placed us together as well…that I will be your momma.

Our story will always read love.

It already does.

 

Matching.

This week has been *nuts*…but I had to squeeze in at least a little bit of time to commemorate our new step in our adoption process. We are now in the MATCHING phase! 🙂

While I had really hoped to enter matching by Easter, May 1st was my more realistic goal…and we met it! I spoke with the director of the Snowflake Program today to finalize our preferences, and she said they would begin working on their end to make a match and would send our profile off for the first family to review by Monday at the latest. *Craziness!*

Once a family is given our profile, they’ll have up to a week to decide if they’d like to move forward with us or not. While it could take us a little while to make a match, it also could happen pretty quickly…there are families ready & waiting to place their embryos!

When she first said how quickly it could all happen, I kind of panicked for a moment. Each step makes this all feel more real…I can’t imagine what it will feel like when we are sent the profile of a family who would like to match with us.

It’s good stuff.

In the meantime, I’ve got plenty to do to keep me busy. Our BIG fundraiser garage sale is this weekend, so I’ve been focusing my attention on getting ready for that. It should be a fun time, and I’m praying for God’s provision & glory!

So on that note…gotta run! 😉

Blessed am I.