Friday, April 30, 2010

Adoption...not an easy gift to unwrap

Last night my friend Jeri (who adopted her daughter 4 days before Samuel was born and was the vessel through which we were led to meet our birth mom) and I sat down with a mutual friend who is waiting for her baby girl to be born via a 21-year-old birth mom on May 10.

We chatted for a couple hours about adoption: attorneys, home studies, fees, paperwork, talking with your child, legal aspects, the birth, showers, etc.

One thing became very clear in our conversation: when you are waiting for your child to be born through another woman's womb, adoptive parents have absolutely no control.

And that's simply unfair.

Adoptive parents don't have the slightest say in anything related to the baby's birth unless the birth mom is OK with that: keep the baby in the room, take the baby out of the room, be at the hospital, don't be at the hospital, discharge, don't discharge.

I am not saying that this is wrong. It's just...unfair.

Someone else calls all the shots that surround the birth of your child.

Now, to be clear, this was not the case for Ryan and I. Samuel had already been born when we met Samantha, so we didn't have to experience this lack of control. In fact, Samantha left all decision up to us immediately and we are so thankful for that. I recognize that our situation is rather unique in many ways.

But for many birth parents, the lack of control is frustrating to say the least.

On top of a lack of control, it can be very intrusive to go through the Home Study process. Adoptive parents are questioned about everything: health history, home life, childhood, marriage, employment. Very personal questions are asked about each parent. It is absolutely mentally draining to fill out all the paperwork and meet with a social worker for hours.

Let me say that IT IS WORTH IT. No question it's worth it. I would do it every year if I had to in order to have the gift of Samuel.

But just because it's worth it, doesn't make it easy. You've struggled with trying to conceive for years and when the opportunity arises to become parents, those in the adoption process often feel as though they have to prove why they are worthy of this new role.

I sound like I'm complaining. I don't mean to. And I certainly don't mean to talk anyone out of adopting who is considering this option for their family.

I'm just trying to voice frustration, communicate truth and educate clearly about the adoption process.

I do not know what it is like to conceive a baby and then choose to give that baby to another family to raise and love. I have the utmost respect and gratitude for birth moms who choose that route for their child.

Adoption is a gift beyond gifts. I thank the Lord for it daily.

But it's not an easy gift to unwrap. It is a gift that needs to be wrapped with patience, understanding, and acceptance.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Book: Adopted For Life

Has anyone read Adopted For Life?

I'd like to read it, and was just wondering if any of you have already done so....



Wednesday, April 28, 2010

God heals

Today is April 28. As I was driving home this morning from my brother's house, I got to thinking about the month of April and I realized that I had forgotten something significant.

I forgot April 20.

I forgot that one year ago on April 20 we had an ultrasound and saw that we would be having a baby girl.

But more importantly I forgot that April 20 was the due date of our second baby.

How did I forget? Shouldn't that date be etched on my heart forever?

But I did forget.

And therefore I've come to this conclusion:

Time does not heal. God heals.

In His great, mighty and unfathomable ways, God heals.

If I were typing this post today, still having not adopted or conceived a baby, I do not believe time would have healed this wound. It would have been glaringly obvious what April 20 represented in our lives. That date would have opened up the tender, aching hole in my heart.

Instead, God in his merciful and faithful ways, has used blessings and miracles to heal the hole  in my heart.

If you are hurting, if you are in a season of waiting - be that for a spouse, baby or something else - time does not make the waiting easier and time certainly does not heal the pain of waiting or losses.

In a lot of ways, time only magnifies our pain as we see 'life go on' for others, and for us it seems to just stand still.

But our God is big and He alone can bring the healing that our hearts so desperately long for.

Some of my healing took place the summer before Samuel arrived. Some of it took place after God brought us a miracle and I realized His plan was much greater and grander than anything I could plan on my own. And the rest of my healing continues a little more each day.

Will I forget the journey God had me on? Never.

Will the pain lessen more each year? I hope so.

But I believe that's because God promises to heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds (Psalm 147) and because we are told that after a night of weeping, rejoicing comes in the morning (Psalm 30).

Praise God that He heals hearts and does not wait for the turning pages of a calendar to bring us healing. Praise God that He holds my little one in His tender care. Praise God that He desires to bring a morning of rejoicing for every single one of us.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Uncle Scott

Today is my brother Scott's 31st birthday.

I love my brother like crazy. He is my 'little' brother but I look up to him so much.

He is incredibly talented. His career is construction and he's recently gotten into woodworking. He built Lauren a small kitchen cabinet and Samuel a barn. He built me a bench for my entryway to store diaper bags, shoes and to sit the kids on when they are getting dressed to go outside.

He loves the Lord. A lot. He preaches occasionally at his church and I enjoy hearing what the Lord is teaching him.

We talk about the kids (his son Aaron is 2 1/2 and his daughter Evelyn is 6 weeks younger than Lauren). I love that we get to parent our kids together. I often ask Scott for advice regarding Samuel because he's a lot like his cousin Aaron - full of energy and curiosity.

He's made plenty of mistakes in life just as I have. Together we are continually learning and growing and discovering what it means to follow our Creator.

I am so grateful that we have a close, authentic relationship.

I am so grateful that he loves the Lord.

I am so grateful he is a great uncle to Samuel and Lauren.

Happy 31st Birthday Scott. I love you deeply and I'm so proud to be your sister.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A birthday of firsts...

So last week I turned 34. All throughout my birthday I kept thinking, "I've never done this on my birthday before."

This was the first birthday that I:
  • took delight in 'sleeping in' until 7 a.m.
  • sat in the bathroom drinking my Caribou for 5 minutes of me time (while Samuel banged on the door yelling "Mo-meeeee" :)
  • nursed a baby
  • danced around the house to Footloose with my son
  • went out to lunch with my husband and read more than talked
  • picked up photos of my two precious children
  • blew out my birthday candles with the help of my 18-month old
  • got a birthday card that was inscribed "To: Mom   Love, Samuel and Lauren"
So here's to 34....may this year continue to be filled with many many firsts!

Monday, April 19, 2010

It happened again

I was at Trader Joe's on Sunday with Samuel. As I was walking to the check out line, a gal glanced at me and then turned around and looked at me again.

"Don't I know you?" she asked.

"I don't think so," I responded.

Then she looked at Samuel and commented, "He's gotten so big!"

Turns out she knows the friend of mine who takes pictures of our kids. She told me she had been an avid blog reader when we first adopted Samuel.

And 1 1/2 years later she recognized Samuel and I in the grocery store!

Another blog reader met in real life. It happens at the strangest, most unexpected times.

It is so fun to meet the people that have been touched by Samuel's story. And it reminds me that God continues to get the glory for all He has done and will do through our family.

If you see me out and about, please say hello. I might not recognize you...but you just might recognize my little miracle man!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Learning about Jesus

Last night after we put Lauren to bed, Samuel, Ryan and I sat out on our screened in porch, and read a Children's Bible that we were given for Samuel. We sang songs (This Little Light of Mine, I've Got the Joy Joy Joy Down in My Heart and Jesus Loves the Little Children) and prayed together. Samuel now folds his hands and closes one eye when we tell him it's time to pray. So adorable.

We hope to have some sort of regular family devotions in the evening once Samuel is a little older and has a bit of a longer attention span :) I know last night was a peek into what those devotions might look like in the future.

What joy there is in reading about a man who couldn't see until Jesus healed his eyes. And about someone who had enough faith in God that he wasn't hurt when he spent a whole night with some lions. And about how Jesus loves all the little children in the world.

There is much responsibility to 'train up a child in the way he should go.' Ryan and I pray that God would give us insight into how to parent and train Samuel in light of who God has created him to be. We pray that God would remind us that Samuel is a gift given to us and it is a special privilege to have the opportunity to raise him to know and love Jesus. 

I don't want our conversations about Jesus to be limited to 15 minutes in the evening when it's "family devotions" time. My desire is that our home would be filled with the presence of Jesus, our lives would represent the hope that comes from knowing Him, and our words and actions would reflect the love of our Creator.

I want to talk to Samuel at meal times, nap time, play time, bath time, bed time and in-between times about the Jesus that loves him and about what it means to love Jesus back.

But I also think there is importance in coming together as a family, slowing down, quieting down and taking time to read, talk, sing and pray together.

I would love to hear about what it looked like in your home growing up when you talked about Jesus. How did you learn to pray? Did you memorize Bible verses? What songs did you learn to sing? Did you have family devotions, and if so, what did that look like?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Choices

We're working on choices with Samuel these days.

Samuel, which books would you like to read before bed? You can choose two books.

Samuel, do you want more toast or more banana?

Samuel, you can play outside or on the porch. Where would you like to play? (outside is a given but it's good to offer choices!)

I am also having to work on choices myself. Each day during nap time I have to choose what I want to do. I have to choose how I will spend my precious 1-1/2 hours of 'calm and quiet.'

At 11:30 this morning I found myself putting away the oatmeal Samuel ate for breakfast. That seems to be how my days are going lately. I am always a few steps behind. So it is a great struggle for me in choosing how to spend my time in the afternoon.

My usual options are:
nap
read
laundry
pick up the house
dishes
food prep for dinner
computer - email/blog

I find that more often than not, sitting still before the Lord, or opening my Bible to read a chapter, is not what I choose to do. Somehow unless I'm trying to be productive and get things done around the house, I view my afternoon as 'me' time to rest, relax and get re-energized for the evening.

If you are FB friends with me, you might have noticed that my status last week indicated that I had been sucked into Twilight. I read the entire book in 5 days and it's more than 400 pages. It was fabulous.

I promise you that I have not read 400 pages in my Bible since Lauren was born.

Life is all about choices and it's a hard realization sometimes when we see what we're choosing.

Angela Thomas, author of Tender Mercy for a Mother's Soul, had four children in seven years. She knows about hard choices and the difficulties of maintaining your relationship with the Lord when you have young children.

She puts it this way: "I learned how to be with the Lord while he (her son) was in the baby swing. That means, of course, that nobody is folding towels and no one is deciding what's for dinner. But that's the kind of choosing that fills the soul and gives you what you can give to your children."

The kind of choosing that fills the soul...

I want to choose what fills my soul. I don't just want to choose what needs to be done, or should be done, or has to be done. Or even what I want to be done.

I want to choose what is going to fill my soul and trust God to help everything else get done.

Oh Lord, help me to choose you. To be a good great wife and mom, I need to make the kind of choices that fill my soul.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The value of giving

On Sunday morning at church the offering bucket was passed to me. I turned to pass it down the row, only to realize that there were just three other people in my row and they were at the far end.

So I got up and walked the bucket down and proceeded to hand it to a young Hispanic boy. Next to him was his brother and then their father. I hadn't seen them at church before so I'm guessing this was their first time visiting. 

I saw each young boy put a dollar bill in the offering bucket before passing it to their father.

That simple act touched my heart deeply and spoke volumes to me.

It's made me think about teaching the act of giving to my children. I don't have any idea if this family was wealthy, poor or somewhere in the middle. But the dad clearly understood the importance of not only giving, but also of providing the opportunity for his children to give.

What a precious lesson it teaches a child to place a bill in their hand and encourage them to place it in the offering. Rather than trying to just talk with them about giving to the Lord, this was a beautiful picture of the 'hands on' experience.

Right then and there I decided that when Samuel and Lauren are old enough, we will be giving them bills to place in the offering bucket. In addition to teaching them a valuable lesson, I hope this will instill good habits as they learn about being wise stewards of their money.

I was reading last week about the widow's offering.
Mark 12:41-44 describes one of the sweetest examples of giving:

"Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on."

I don't want to teach my children to just give 10 percent. I want to teach them to give willingly, abundantly, and with hearts overflowing with gratitude toward God for His many blessings. I don't care if they give to the church, give to missionaries, or give to those in need. I just want to teach them the value of giving.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Podcasts - Parenting, Adoption, Infertility, Marriage

Here's my step-by-step directions on how to subscribe to podcasts via iTunes. I LOVE listening to them - at home, in the car, walking with my iPod....wherever, whenever. Whether it's a sermon, author speaking about their book, an interview, radio show, etc. 

On the iTunes screen, click on itunes store on the left
In the search bar in the upper right corner type in James Dobson Parenting
The podcast icon comes up and you click on subscribe
Then on the left side of your iTunes screen under Library (where it says Music, Movies, Tv Shows, Podcasts), click on podcasts
Any podcasts that you subscribe to will be shown here
You have to click the "get" button to download the podcasts (I haven't done it for a month so when I go in there it will download all of the Focus on Parenting podcasts from the past month. If this is your first time not sure how many will show up)
You can search for any church, topic, speaker, author, etc in the search bar to see if you can subscribe (for free!) to their podcasts (if they have them)
Focus on Parenting are all short 4-8 min talks, but sometimes there is a series so I just listen to them all at once

Other topics to search:
I typed in infertility in the search bar and saw four podcasts one could subscribe to
Focus on Marriage
Parenting - you will see TONS of podcasts (it's a bit overwhelming actually)
Adoption - I haven't listened to any of those yet, but I'd like to

The Focus on the Family James Dobson on Parenting podcast that I referred to in my last post is called: Game Plan for Successful Parenting and there are 10 podcasts in that series. 

Any questions - please ask! Otherwise Happy Podcasting!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Happy kids?

I have fallen in love with podcasts! It's like having experts, authors and speakers on a variety of topics come right to my kitchen to chat with me while I'm cooking, doing dishes and other household chores. I downloaded a bunch of parenting podcasts awhile back and this week I've been listening to some of them.

One of them is a Focus on the Family series featuring Kevin Leman and his book Have a New Kid by Friday. This podcast series includes great tips on parenting, talking with your kids and overall lots of thought-provoking statements about the child/parent relationship.

Kevin Leman says our culture has become consumed with having "happy" kids. Parents today are doing every thing they can to make their kids happy. The thing is....when parents give their kids everything they want and do everything for them, they are actually not all that happy in the end.

It was so encouraging for me to hear this. These days I have to tell Samuel 'no' frequently. I have to redirect. I have to distract. And Samuel is definitely not always happy when he doesn't get what he wants.

But here's the thing I'm learning: kids need boundaries. They need to be told no. They need to know that someone is there who cares enough to guide them and teach them and sometimes to tell them 'no.' My goal as a parent is NOT to make my child happy.

In thinking about this, I realized that God tells me no. And I'm HIS child.

God told me no when I lost my babies. When I waited for two years in-between my pregnancies He told me no.

And ultimately it was for my benefit. God knew what was best. Was I happy when He told me no? Certainly not.

As a mom, I will strive to remember this. Samuel needs a parent who cares enough to tell him 'no.' While I love to see my son happy, his happiness is not my ultimate goal.

And there's a lot of freedom in that!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Pictures

In the last three weeks Lauren turned 6 months and Samuel turned 18 months. Here are a few photos of my little miracles: