Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Option A

I was driving in the car yesterday...thinking about Samuel, life, trials, etc.

It really hit me for the first time that I have experienced miscarriage, infertility and adoption. I know that I have experienced all of them separately, but I hadn't ever really thought about the fact that I have dealt with all three in my life. I am not sure why I didn't realize before yesterday that all three of those experiences are a major part of me and my life story.

I also realized that none of those experiences are Option A. None are the ideal. None are the first choice of parents-to-be. I want to acknowledge that there are parents who choose to forego having their own biological children and opt to adopt and that is their first choice. God bless them.

But, for the most part, adoption, miscarriage and infertility are not one's initial choice.

How then have I walked the road of all three?

The ideal is to try to concieve, take a pregnancy test, see a positive response and nine months later have a healthy baby.

As I was pondering this all yesterday I thought about the
J U B I L A T I O N I experienced when I got a positive result on my pregnancy test in August of this year. I was in shock and overwhelmed with joy and gratitude and sheer delight. I was ecstacic.

Then I thought about the feelings that overcame me when I was told on October 4 that the sweet bundle I was looking at with my eyes was being given to me. A priceless gift. Once again, I felt absolute
J U B I L A T I O N. I didn't have to wait 9 months. I walked into the nursery and held my miracle within minutes.

To be fair, both the pregnancy and the adoption held a significant number of unknowns: would the baby be healthy? Would we miscarry? Would the birthmom change her mind? Would the birthfather claim his parental rights?

We couldn't have known what either road held for us. We couldn't have known that our first choice for parenthood would not come to be.

Miscarriage. Infertility. Adoption. Not our first choice. Not Option A. But ultimately the best choice because we can't imagine not having Samuel in our lives.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Dad's favorite photos of Samuel Lee


Adoption. When you hear that word what do you think of? What comes to mind? Stories of people you know who adopted? Money? Legal proceedings? Does the word have a negative or positive connotation to you?

We're three months in and it is still strange to me that we've adopted. I know in my head that Samuel is adopted, and we are crazy in love with that kid, but it is still hard for me to believe that I am an adoptive parent.

From those I've talked to, and from my own personal experience, hearts know no difference between biological and adopted children. Of that I am confident.

Before adopting I knew little about the process or how I personally felt (other than that Ryan and I had said we'd like to adopt some day).

I'd like to share some information taken from the book: So You Want to Adopt...now what?

I picked this book up because it was on sale a few weeks after Samuel came along and it has good Biblical information about adoption and presents both the side of adoptive parents and birthmothers. It's a good place to start for those considering adoption or just want to learn more.

Here are some key points and facts from the book:

If we have a relationship with the Lord we have been adopted into the family of God. Therefore we are all adopted and adoption is the heart of God.

Today approximately 125,000 children are adopted in the U.S. every year. It is estimated that for every child available, there are 3 to 4 families trying to adopt that child.

  • allows a child to live rather than be aborted
  • enables families to be formed
  • restores the dignity of the birthmother
If you are thinking about adoption, here are a few things to consider:
Why do you want to adopt?
Consider what you want and expect through the adoption process?

This is one of the best quotes from the book:
"As you begin this journey, please keep one thought in mind: If God intends for you to have a child, you will. If He is calling you to adopt and has prepared your heart for this, He has a child just for you. Don't run ahead of what you know to be God's plan. You will get lost. If you believe adoption is God's will for you, you need only be obedient to what you believe He is telling you. The outcome of your obedience is His responsibility."

This week I'll share more about adoption steps, costs, and our own personal adoption experience. If you have questions please let me know!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Perfection is God's work

When a couple is trying to conceive for months and months (or years and years) we can become consumed with planning the exact timing, on the exact day, with all pieces exactly aligned for conception to occur. We count days, take our temperature, take OPK test, check the calendar, refer to last month, etc, etc. We try to figure out the perfect day to, once again, try to conceive.

I was looking through some old e-mails this morning and came across this e-mail from a friend that she sent to me on November 20, 2007.

How perfect her words are and how incredible not only that they came true - but the extent to which her words came true is unbelievable.

Whatever journey you are on today. Whatever road blocks you are facing. Whatever obstacles seem to lie in your path. Whatever pieces you are trying to perfectly align in your life to reach a desired outcome: May these words of my very wise friend encourage you as they encouraged me a year ago.

I'm not sure if this is worth sharing, but on my way to work this morning, I was doing some thinking and praying. I was thinking about how last month you said everything was perfectly aligned, and for some reason, I get this thought: God is going to do something when it's not perfect, when it's not in our power, so that He can be the one who gets the glory. So we can see He is a miracle worker. So we can know that it is His perfect timing. Somehow that comforted me this morning to remember that it's not up to me, and that I pray to Him because He is the one with the power and the wisdom. He's the one we can trust.

It was definitely not perfect that Ryan and I miscarried again.

Nothing about Samuel's adoption was in our power or plans.

We can all see that God is a miracle worker in the way He brought Samuel to us.

It was His perfect timing - not ours.

Amen and God bless you my dear friend for sharing these words of truth.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Christmas Miracle

At Christmas each year, Ryan's family gives us pieces to the Willow Tree Nativity. My favorite piece of the set is Mary holding baby Jesus.

Her posture speaks volumes. Looking at her I imagine what the expression on her face must have been: one of complete awe and wonder.

This wooden figurine challenges me to take time to get on my knees and thank God for the precious gift of His son. It challenges me to have an attitude of awe about the miracle of Christmas.

Baby Jesus came so small. So helpless. So vulnerable. So dependent. So tiny.

We serve a God of miracles. And to me the greatest miracle ever was that He sent his Son to this earth through a teenage girl in an amazing, miraculous way.

May we each be filled with peace and awe and wonder as we ponder that miracle today. Christmas blessings to you all family and friends!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dear Samuel

Dear Samuel,
In your 11 weeks of life I have noticed that you like light. You really like light. If we are in a room where there are bright lights your eyes are immediately drawn to them.

Today I was holding you when I went to get the mail. As we neared the door I stopped to let you look out the window in our front door.

I stood there for awhile because you were in awe. Your eyes seemed to soak in the brightness of the light and the reflection of the snow.

I whispered in your ear, "There's a whole world waiting out there for you my little man. You'll have years and years to explore it. But today, I'm keeping you inside with me."

The world is full of adventure Samuel. It is full of opportunities, dreams and goals. Someday I will encourage you to take your first steps and explore it all. And before I know it, you'll be heading out that front door every day to a world that will love you, hurt you, beckon you, reject you and ultimately you'll have to decide how much and how often you want to be a part of that world.

But not today. Today you are just my little man. And I'm keeping you home with me.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I have not forgotten

There is a lot written about the happiness, joy and laughter that the holidays bring. Light-hearted articles that discuss particular baking methods for the perfect Christmas cookie. Radio stations playing non-stop Christmas music. Television commercials reminding us that happiness is just one gift away.

This Christmas is different for our family because of our blessed miracle. But I have not forgotten the pain of the past few Christmas seasons. Often times that pain would be multiplied at family gatherings when little ones would be in abundance or I would overhear someone else receiving the congratulations that I so desperately desired.

I recall sitting in our church auditorium last year, days before Christmas, with a good friend who had miscarried in December. What does one do with that pain during 'the most wonderful time of the year?'

Today I acknowledge my friends (both those I have met in person and those I have not) who are facing this Christmas with empty arms or an empty womb. Friends have recently miscarried and the healing has just begun. Others have only received less-than-stellar news from their doctor about their chances of having biological children. Others are just waiting to see what the Lord has in store for their future family.

While some might think it is depressing of me to blog about this topic or insensitive of me to acknowledge it so publicly, having walked the lonely road of infertility I know that you just want people to be aware of your pain.

I've been there: at the Christmas party, smile plastered on my face while inside I am dieing because the holidays mark another season, another milestone where my prayer had gone unanswered. People avoid the topic. They know you are childless (not by choice) and so they ask about your house, your work, your pets...anything but the topic of children.

Or people don't know and so they say, "Are you working on some grandkids (wink, wink)?"

This Christmas I am praying for those who will not have the gift their heart so desperately desires. I am pondering what it would have been like to feel a little life growing inside of me on Christmas morn - the day our Savior came to earth. I am asking God to be present and real in a powerful way and to give strength when the journey just seems so difficult.

Oh friends, please know that I understand. I care. And I have not forgotten.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A time to ponder

This morning I read the Christmas story to Samuel. My goal is to read it every day from now through December 25. I want to read it to Samuel each Christmas so he knows what we are really celebrating this season: the birth of Christ.

It also helps me keep a realistic perspective and combats all the busyness of buying, baking, parties, etc. If I am stressing out about shopping, Christmas cards, or decorating....I stop myself and go back to the words of Luke 2. These words remind me of the true purpose and reason for Christmas.

If you haven't read it yet this season, I encourage you to read it here.

A verse that I have loved the past few years and that is so intriguing to me is verse 19: But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Today as I was reading it, I wondered why this verse is included here. The story of Christmas talks about the birth of Jesus and then the story of the shepherds and angels. It seems that verse 19 is just tucked away, not really part of the events of what was happening.

A few years back I found this description about Luke 2:19 – “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Not your typical Christmas verse on its own – but one that demonstrates that Mary, the mother of our Lord and Savior, quietly pondered His truth in her heart. She took time to think about spiritual things, just as we should do. Christmas is a very busy time, but our time is poorly spent if we allow the “busyness” of Christmas to keep us from reading the Christmas story again and again, thinking about it. Make this season truly “A Time to Ponder.”

Maybe verse 19 is there as a reminder to us all. This Christmas, my first one as a mother, gives me lots to ponder and treasure. I treasure the miracle I hold in my arms as I read. I ponder the loss of another little one just months ago. I treasure the glory Samuel's story gives to God. I ponder what it must have been like for young Mary to have a baby. I treasure the simplicity of the Christmas story....no baby showers, no baby registries, no nursery, nothing.

As I look at my baby boy this Christmas, and think about his incredible story and arrival into our lives, I can't help but ponder the miracle of Christmas. Because, after all, the miracle of Christmas is about the birth of another baby boy.

A baby whose story has changed my life even more than Samuel. Now that's something to ponder.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Just a typical Thursday afternoon...

One baby boy in a puppy dog hat and bear PJs.

One mom with a Canon.

30+ photos some day he'll want to destroy.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Desperately seeking God's best

As a result of recent conversations with a few friends, I've realized God is still teaching me lessons from my years of waiting. Here is one of those lessons:

In life there are so many decisions that need to be made. When it comes to our families, it seems the decisions are endless.

One doesn't want to just make decisions quickly and without thought...but rather with wisdom, discernment, clarity and unity among the decision-makers.

During my journey through infertility and miscarriages Ryan and I needed to make a lot of decisions. Medical decisions, decisions about my health, decisions about what doctors to see and how often to see them, decisions about finances, decisions about medications and treatments.

Now that we have Samuel, we are finding ourselves in a place where we need to make decisions once again. Decisions about healthcare, decisions about pediatricians, decisions about schedules.

One day soon (too soon I am sure!) we will have to decide about disciplining and consequences and other things that won't be fun.

During my waiting years, I claimed these two verses when a decision needed to be made. In fact, just weeks before discovering I was preganant, I had journaled and prayed these verses endlessly:

James 1:5
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault.

Isaiah 48:17
I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.

In August I prayed God would direct and guide our steps. I prayed for wisdom about continuing to wait, whether to pursue medical treatment or continue some of the natural treatment I was doing to make my body healthy or begin the adoption process.

When we discovered we were pregnant I assumed that was God's answer to my prayer. However, today I don't believe that was God's best for us. His best was a little miracle growing in another woman's womb.

Had we pursued medical treatment in 2006, chances are Ryan and I wouldn't have the amazing miracle in our arms that we hold today. Things could have been good, or even great, but it wouldn't have been God's best for our family.

When a friend asked us after we took Samuel home, when the decision was made about whether or not we wanted to adopt him, we responded that we didn't need to discuss whether or not we were interested in this baby boy....we just knew we were.

Looking back, I think the decision was made months prior as a result of us praying for wisdom and asking God to direct us and teach us what was best.

"If Jesus gives us a task or assigns us to a difficult season, every ounce of our experience is meant for our instruction and completion if only we'll let Him finish the work. I fear, however, that we are so attention-deficit that we settle for bearable when beauty is just around the corner." - Beth Moore

God's best...God's beauty...is worth waiting for.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Begging God for a miracle

Some of you...but not all of you...know that I was pregnant in August of this year. For 27 blissful days my husband and I knew we had conceived and anticipated all that was in store for our growing family.

The use of the word blissful might be a little strong because I had many moments of wondering and questioning if my baby would be healthy and strong and growing.

Last week I looked through my journal and couldn't believe the words I had written and how God had answered this specific prayer. Take a look:

August 26, 3 days prior to our first ultrasound...
God I am looking through my notes, my binder, my Bible - things I know, things I believe, things I trust...such good reminders for me today. I want to fear, and doubt, but today I am choosing - choosing to believe, choosing to trust, choosing to walk in faith, choosing to take what I know about my God and let it reign in my mind. I'm begging God for a miracle. I'm believing Him for a miracle and my praise is not dependent on my circumstances so today I praise you Lord!

Did God answer my begging? Did he respond to my belief in Him? YES!

But it wasn't at all how I had planned. It wasn't without pain. It wasn't in my timing.

I've learned a lot about my God this year...

And I know that I know that I know we serve a God of miracles.

I begged God for a miracle.

I believed Him for a miracle.

And He gave us a sweet, precious miracle straight from heaven.

May I never forget what I know about my God.

I'm sorry....

I know I'm biased.

But he is soooo cute. Samuel was very serious in his two-month photo shoot last week, but he really is a smiley guy these days. In fact, we've named him Lil' flirt which makes his papa really proud!

Here are a couple pics of his lighter side:

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Two-month photo shoot

10 a.m. on his two-month birthday. Beautiful sunlight. A cold winter day. Our little miracle. Priceless. Perfect. An answer to prayer.

Post-Placement Recap

Is parenthood what you expected?

What was the biggest surprise?

What is his personality like?

Does he have a fussy time?

What does he like to do?

Do you have a room ready for him?

What kind of contact do you have with the birth mom?

Do you have a pediatrician for Samuel?

Has he been healthy?

What is his height and weight?

How long does he sleep at night?

Will he be placed in childcare?

These were just a few of the questions asked during our 1 1/2 hour post-placement study yesterday.

Another step in the adoption process completed....one big final celebratory step left to go! Thanks to everyone who prayed.

Happy Two-Month Birthday!

What a whirlwind the last two months have been! It has been so awesome!!!

On the one hand I can't believe it has been two months already, but on the other hand it feels like it has been a lot longer than just two months.

In just that short window of time, it is clear that I have not had enough time to spend with you little man. But I am so glad that every time you see me you greet me with a smile. You mother and I are celebrating today even more than yesterday!!! We are so glad that you are a part of our family.

Happy two months buddy. I love you.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Post-placement study

Tomorrow we have our post placement study at 3 p.m. I am not sure what this involves...probably more questioning and observing Samuel with us.

The house is a mess.

Samuel has a cold.

We're all lacking sleep.

Please pray it goes well....(not even sure what well means but you can still pray!).

Based off this meeting, the agency will make a recommendation to the judge to allow us to adopt Samuel. We will not get to see this report, but we'll trust it is a positive one.

Assuming we get a great recommendation, the next step is a visit to the courtroom in February to finalize the adoption legally. Wahooo!