I'm so glad you're here! This is our story. God has lead us to adoption to build our family and here you will find my real and raw experiences with joys and triumphs as well as struggles and sadness. I hope you're encouraged by our story of God's faithfulness and His love for us!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Parenting My Precious Porcupine

when I think we have it all together and that life is going 
smoothly we hit a bump in the road and I realize how foolish 
I was to think that 30 months (10 in utero and 20 outside) of abuse 
and neglect can be fixed in a short 13 months. We had a little, ok MAJOR, fit today and 
I can't figure it out.  Please just pray for me. Us really. 
The fit started over a sticker. Yes, you did read that right. 
A sticker. 
And ended over a half an hour later with a 
broken hearted cry from a child who seemed to be having insecurities 
about being left. I don't know how to connect those dots, 
but it is what it is and when she's freaking out that I'm leaving her
 while she naps it calls for special attention. So as I crawled into bed with her thinking I'll stay there the whole nap if I need to she slipped her 
little arm around my neck and drew my head to her chest. I was reminded that sometimes parenting our little porcupine just needs to go against my grain. 
I feel like I have to relearn all my instincts and do the opposite 
of what I want to do. To me her behavior was manipulative and was trying to avoid 
nap, but her broken hearted little cry told me 
otherwise and I had to stay. 
(In the end she agreed to snuggle Daddy who was already sleeping instead of Mommy because Little Cinderella also needed to take a nap.) 
To me holding her when she's throwing a fit feels 
like it's reinforcing the behavior, but sometimes that's 
what I have to do. When she's flipping out over a sticker 
(which all I wanted to do in the situation was to stop and do a simple redo and teach her to just tell me what happened instead of throw a fit and 
I'd be happy to turn around so that she could pick up her sticker...) 
sometimes that's not the moment to teach. Sometimes that's 
the moment to give her her sticker and do the redo at home later when she's 
not so emotionally invested in the situation. She doesn't hear me in the moment. 
I'm learning. I'm failing. I'm succeeding. I'm fighting
I'm constantly reminded that I am not equipped to handle this on my own 
and I'm foolish if I think I am. I'm having to learn compassion. I've never been a very compassionate person. I've always had more of the 
"suck it up and deal with it" mentality. That's how I am to myself 
and that definitely comes out in my parenting. 
Only it doesn't work with Dora so I'm having to learn compassion and self-control. AND I'm struggling because I don't know 
what she's comprehending when I try to teach her how to behave! 
She either doesn't understand or tunes me out. I'll never now which, 
but I'm leaning towards that she doesn't understand. She's not the high, 
logical thinker of my oldest. Cinderella was made for me. 
We are like chocolate and peanut butter
Perfectly suited for each other! It's no wonder we never have any of these problems! We communicate so perfectly and understand each other as well 
as any two people could. Dora and I are like oil and water
But she needs me. I think she needs me more than 
I even realize and she needs us to mix so by the grace of God
 I'm going to learn to be water! If He can turn water into wine than 
He can turn my oil into water! I'm going to learn to love her the way she needs to
 be loved. I just don't know what that means all the time. 
So, if you think of it please add me to your prayer list once again 
because this is a battle that could quite possibly take me my entire life to win. 
BUT, my moments of success give me hope that I can be the mother that 
this precious child needs. 
She wouldn't be here in my home if that wasn't true. 
God gave her to me so He must trust me enough to treasure her and parent her and He must know that my oily nature needs some refining too! 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother's Day, Infertility and Pet Adoptions

Mother's Day. I remember all too well the years where Mother's Day was a day that I dreaded more than any other day in the year. It was just a cruel reminder that we didn't have what I most desperately wanted. A child. I'd walk into church on Mother's Day morning with my game face on wishing I was anywhere but there and suck it up as all the mother's and expectant mothers were recognized. A day of agony. Gut wrenching, stick a knife and twist it in my heart AGONY! I'm not going to say that I'm completely over all my infertility issues. I've worked through most of them and most of the time I don't even remember. I have two children now and I'm not looking back wishing they had come to me differently. But I do remember the agony, the tears, the sorrow, the innumerable times that I sat there willing my tears to stay put. Biting my lip. Doing anything I could to distract myself from the welling up inside. Sometimes I couldn't hold them back and I would find an excuse to excuse myself and I was thankful for those discerning enough to see my pain and reach out to me. If you're reading this and you're that person who is dreading tomorrow. I've been there. I know your pain and all I can say is that God is my healer. Turn to Him in your pain and He will make you whole again. He can turn your sorrow into joy and give you the desires of your heart if you earnestly seek him first. He has for me! He has turned my empty home into one that is full and thriving. He has seen me through my pain and healed my heart and He can do that for you. He had a different plan for me. One that most of the world sees as second best but that I see simply as God's best for me. My life is a journey of faith. It's one where the plans are always changing until that child comes home. It's one full of raw emotion and joy. I love this verse...

"He gives the childless woman a family, making her a happy mother. Praise the Lord!" Ps. 113:9

He has given me the desire of my heart and not only that, He's changed my heart. I started this journey of adoption on a selfish path. I wanted a child. I see it differently now. I still want children. But now I see the children as needing to be rescued and needing a family more than I see myself. My heart for family-less children if far bigger than my ability to parent them all! God cares about the millions of orphans worldwide that are waiting for families or that simply will never have families for one reason or another. 

I've been bugged recently when I see advertisements for PET ADOPTIONS. I can't help but think of the hundreds of thousands, millions even spent taking care of a finding homes for animals in our country. ANIMALS! While we're out there fighting for the animals and saving the animals, who's fighting for the millions of children who don't have families. Who's saving THEM? Saving them doesn't mean the foster care system, group homes or orphanages. It means forever families! Let me tell you that the need FAR EXCEEDS the people who are willing! So, are you going to fight for an animal or a human being who needs a family? Are you going to put your money towards saving an animal or a human? There's plenty of organizations like Show Hope where you can give monthly to help other people adopt if you don't feel called to adopt. There's Compassion International where you can give to FEED A CHILD! Seriously, people. Priorities! CHILDREN come first! We are the ones created in the image of God Himself. We are the ones that He loved enough to send His son to die for. He loves animals. They are His creation too, but it really irks me that people can find money to give to ASPCA but they can't help a fellow human being! 

Ok.. so that's my soap box for the day. This weekend if you are suffering from infertility I'm praying for you. I know what it's like to suffer in silence. Hang in there and see if you can find it in your heart to adopt. If the only thing stopping you is finances. Don't let that stop you. I've watched God provide miraculously for many families who are seeking to adopt. Why wouldn't He? He talks about taking care of the orphans some 40 times in the Bible! He commanded us to take care of the orphans and widows.  so why wouldn't He provide the way? Plus, adopting from foster care is free anyway. There's always hope in the future. I'm living proof of a life redeemed. I am joyful this weekend because of the children whom God has blessed me with through other women. I am joyful because He heard my cry and He answered! 

looking forward to the day when I can freely post pictures!

Definitely remembering the woman who made me a mommy this weekend! 
Love you Rachel!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

It's Official!

Well folks, the day that we've been waiting for for thirteen months is upon us! We got the long awaited call that NO APPEAL WAS FILED!!!! Praise the Lord who is the giver of every good gift! It sounds like it could still be a couple months till it's final final, but knowing that the mom is completely out of the picture and that we ARE ADOPTING her is AMAZING! 

God is a God who is faithful to His promises! We have been clinging to them for years and He has yet to fail us. Closed doors? Yes. Answered our prayers above and beyond what we prayed for? Yes! We have experienced disappointment and hurt along the way, but we have also seen how God has used all of that to grow our character and to guide us to the best pathway for our life. We certainly aren't disappointed or let down in any way! God continues to cause our desires to come into line with His Will and to ultimately grant us the desires of our hearts! 

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!" Matthew 7:7-11

 "This is the confidence which we have before Him, that,if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." 1 John 5:14

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. John 15:7

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Broken Heart

I've had this post mulling around inside for a while now. I think I just realized this moment that we're past the officially waiting period for her to appeal. YAY! But, we won't know until next week because the social worker will give her a five day grace period before moving forward with the paperwork on our end. I think the fact that I didn't even remember that Monday was the day is just a testimony to the peace that God has given me in this situation. I'm so thankful that His peace came so many months ago. It is such a relief to just rest in God's plan for our family and live in confidence instead of fear!

Last week we had our last official visit with Dora's bio mom. It had been a couple months since we had seen her and all in all it was a good visit. I had instigated the visit for her bio mom's sake because I know that this time is the toughest. She's grieving and I felt that she really needed to see her again in order to help her let go. BUT, I'm so thankful that I'll never have to send Dora into a room with her alone EVER AGAIN! Dora didn't look like she wanted to go so I just pulled her aside and told her I loved her and that I would be waiting for her to get back and then she went happily (and came back running and yelling "MAMA!!!"). I just love that little girl! Dora has been in this cling to Mommy stage where she is grumpy when I leave her (even if I leave her with Daddy and Cinderella at home) and she tries to monopolize me so that Cinderella can't get to me. It's funny to watch her panic when Cinderella and I are snuggling and try to push in but in the end BOTH my children need one on one Mommy time so I do have to set aside time where I just spend time with Cinderella. I can't say that I'm complaining too much. It is tiring but it's so good at the same time. She hasn't liked me that much in the last year. I've been the one doing most of the teaching, correcting and discipling so I guess I'm the mean one. I think her rejection at home has been what has made me really struggle with her. I'm hurt by her. She's hurt by me and it's just a vicious cycle. So, since I recognize the root of the problem now I can do something about it! I've changed the way that I approach her with discipline and correction and have spent more and more time loving on her, building her up and praying for her. I haven't felt that "I'm gonna lose it any minute feeling" in a long time and I just really have to attribute that to a renewed dependence on God. He is faithful to help us when we call out to Him and the climate of our home reflects that!

I was talking with a few other adoptive moms the other day and we were talking about the state in which our children come to us. They all come from different backgrounds and situations but all of them have one thing in common - They come with history that started before they became part of our families. All of them have experienced loss. Loss of biological relationships. Loss of caregivers. Rejection of people they thought they could trust. They all come with broken hearts and we are all eager to jump in thinking we can "fix" them. But, we all know that the only healer of hearts is the Lord Jesus Christ and until He intervenes and gives them wholeness we are only able to treat the symptoms and love them the best that we can. I think we can prepare ahead of time and think we know what to do before they come to us, but when the rubber meets the road none of us know what to do. We don't know the experiences that they faced before coming to our home and we don't know how to make them feel loved and secure. It's so different than the situation with Cinderella. We got all that bonding time when she was an infant. She learned she could trust me and rely on me before she knew anything else. She wasn't born flesh of my flesh but I forget that most of the time because she's mine in every sense of the word. We're confident in our love and adoration of each other. She's my beloved child. My gift from God! Dora is all those things too but even a year later we're still learning about each other and developing a trust relationship. I make the mistake of thinking that since a year has passed we're past the worst of it. She must be secure and confident in our home but you know what? The theme of her life recently as been "don't leave me!" Whether I'm leaving the room, the house, to go to work, walking down the stairs, putting her down for nap or even in her dreams I believe she's afraid I'm going to leave her. As she screams "No, no! Mama! Mama!" in the midst of night terrors. Breaks your heart. Doesn't it? It breaks mine! So, even a year later and her only being 20 months when she came to us there is still an underlying sense of fear of abandonment in her heart. TIme to hug her more. Love on her more. Listen to her needs more. Be more compassionate. More patient... the list goes on and on. Her heart is still broken and I can't fix it. I believe in time her heart will heal. I pray that she will come to understand who Jesus is and His awesome love for her and that she will experience true wholeness and peace through Him! I have hope that the future is bright and that God will give me the tools that I need to parent her and love her as she needs to be loved.

Why am I telling all of you this? Because I feel like I didn't have a clue what I was doing when I started out. I've made a ton of mistakes and I thought that we had it all together. I want you to see all the aspects of adoption so that you can understand people in this situation better. You'll know better what life is like inside adoption and if you even find yourself in our situation (which my prayer is that at least 1 of you will be spurred to adopt because of our family) that you'll be able to go into it with realistic expectations. It's wonderful and watching Dora grow in our home has been the most rewarding experience of my life! But now I know I'll be more prepared when we bring the next non-infant into our home. I didn't believe people when they told me that even at 20 months they'd come with baggage. I do now and I also have seen the growth in her confidence, her trust and her security in our home. I CAN'T WAIT to finalize her adoption in court! What a victory that will be for all of us and she'll be able to see that she's staying with us forever and always! Praise be to God who has and continues to see us through to completion!

A Grieving Mother

I'm trying so hard to work through the emotions that I'm feeling and somehow when I write it I can get it out better than telling it. I talked to Dora's bio mom today. I felt like people didn't really understand why I wasn't rejoicing the day of the termination. It was a relief to me but my heart was/is breaking at the same time. It weighs so heavy on my heart that my gain comes at a great loss for my children's biological mothers. Dora's mom didn't even get to choose. I mean, I guess she did in a way because she chose to do too little too late. I think that deep down she did it because she knew Dora is where she needs to be, but as she's processing her grief I'm processing my own grief for her. She expressed to me some of how she's feeling and was honest with me about some things in their past that were just plain hard for me to hear. That story isn't mine to tell so publicly but it hit my heart the things that my child has experienced before coming to me and I feel such sorrow and regret for some of the choices that were made that will affect my child for the rest of her life. I don't think she had any idea how hard that conversation was for me to have with her, but I hope that what she felt from me was love and compassion - not judgement. She brought it up. She lead the conversation but I was able to ask a question that I needed to know the answer to and I'm so thankful that she was comfortable enough to answer. I couldn't have asked the question if she hadn't first brought it up. There are so many more questions that I have and I am so very thankful that we are able to have a relationship where we can talk about these things. But let's be honest. Having her in our life is hard ALL the time. Every text message or phone call my heart races and I'm super uncomfortable. SO different from our experience with Cinderella's bio family. God is so gracious though. In the moment He gives me the grace and compassion to love her and that is the very reason that she isn't fighting. I really hope that I can get to a place where I feel comfortable with Dora having a relationship with her. Right now I allow it because I believe it's in both of their best interests to allow them to have a relationship. So please don't try to talk me out of it. It's hardest on me but it's a choice I made four years ago and I WILL follow through with the promises I made to her.

I think it's so uncomfortable because she still views herself as mom. She told me that she didn't want us to change Dora's name because she thinks she still has a say. I told her that we won't be changing her name because it was a decision we made a year ago to keep it. Well... the truth is we will still call her Dora but legally her name will be changed. I know right now is the hardest time and that it will get easier for her. So, I'll just try to be as supportive and patient as possible until she let's go. I guess if she doesn't than I'll have to help her let go and put up firmer boundaries. But, I know it's still fresh for her and I sense she has more to say.

I'm excited that within a few months Dora will be ours and I'll feel fully in control. It has been an amazing journey and I'm excited for this chapter to be complete. In all honesty, I'm ready for baby #3. I've had a baby on my heart for a few weeks now and that usually leads to direction of some sort... I still feel like there is more under the layers that I just can't share. At least in prayer I can fully share the things on my heart. Just praying for peace in my spirit and wisdom and direction in dealing with the bio mom. I do love her and want her best. The decisions made in the past stay in the past and I'm excited to see her doing so well! God is good!