So I know I haven't been posting as consistently of late. I've been slacking on the blog mostly because of stress about the adoption. And there is a lot that has gone into us just trying to adopt (and we haven't even finished yet).
First we decided to adopt, and had to start raising/saving the money. Talk about hard. With the average adoption costing $25,000+, it can be a hard pill to swallow when trying to figure where the money will come from.
Then we had the homestudy. The You-Must-Be-Perfect investigation into your life. Clean the house, pray the cats don't do something stupid, dress nice, pay for tons of background checks and get multiple letters about your character NOTARIZED. And then you have to wait for everything to be checked with a fine tooth comb and wait to be approved to adopt.
Which, YAY, we are now approved adopt!
Now that we have passed, we have officially reached what I consider the hardest part of the adoption. Getting the child/children. We have to wait for the children, we have to then wait to have them placed. If the parental rights haven't been terminated, then we have to wait for that. Then we have to wait for us to legally and officially be declared by a court of law that we are parents of whatever children we are given. I'm sure some of you are thinking that this can't be that stressful. But for me, it is the fact that we are now waiting on others, not Mike and I, to get us where we need to go.
I actually had someone say that if I'm this stressed about about adoption, then we need to reconsider adoption because children will just make life more stressful. The thing is, adoption is unlike any other form of growing a family. There is no timeline, there is now due date. There is the constant waiting, hoping, praying that your children come home as soon as possible. And some days there is the gnawing ache where you wonder if you will ever get to go and pick up your children, take them home, and just hold them.
And I ache for that moment. I stress out that the moment hasn't arrived yet, and that it might be far off in the future.
So, for everyone out there, whatever you are going through, whatever you stress out about, and however you figure out how to deal with it, take hope! We aren't alone in our burdens, and we only have to reach out to those we love to realize that we are going to make it. Cana
So today is a day to partially celebrate. Why partially celebrate?
Because we got our official home study, completed and approved! So now we can legal start an adoption process in the state of SC. It's awesome! It's amazing! It lifts a bit of stress off our shoulders, because this means that there is legal proof that we are approved to be parents. And yet, I still want to cry in exhaustion and discouragement. We are facing a long journey, one that won't necessarily be finished in the next few months. I mean, it has been almost a year since we announced our intentions to adopt, and we only just got our homestudy completed.
I'm tired, and I'm hoping and praying that everything else in this process will go off without a hitch, but in reality, adoption doesn't always work the way our society portrays it. One of my friends, who has been trying to adopt for almost 10 years, compared adoption to be like being pregnant for years straight without a child. The up and downs, the stress (and this is not normal stress), and the constant what ifs of adoption will drive you crazy if you let it.
So today, we are going to celebrate a little. And then, later, when we finally reach the finish line, and hold our children in our arms, we will celebrate a lot! Cana
Everyone has a group of friends, or their family that they are really close to. Sometimes they are people we grew up with, and sometimes they are people you meet along the way. Last week, during some emotional upheaval, I spoke with a friend of mine who is also going through the adoption process. She told me to look at my blessings, my small victories, and to write them down. So that is what I'm doing. And I'm starting with my tribe. Some I am related to, and some I have known for a while, and some I have only met recently. But EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM is part of my tribe. They have encouraged me, they have support me, and they are standing by us as we go through this process. Some have gone through this process, or are currently going through an adoption. Some have never adopted and don't feel called to do that (and that is totally okay). I would personally name every single one of them in this post, but I think that would make this post WAY too long... But it makes me smile knowing that I've got such an amazing tribe.
I hope that if you haven't found your tribe yet, that you will soon. Everyone needs one. And when you have your tribe, you will know it and, just remember, LOVE THEM HARD and NEVER LET THEM GO.
Today I have been thinking how blessed Mike and I are. 2 years ago we got engaged and started to prepare for the amazing journey called Marriage. We got married, and 6 months later we bought a house in Pendleton. Not someplace either of us thought we would moved to, but we loved the house. Because of where we moved to, we have some amazing neighbors, that have helped us out in those moments of trying to figure out what it means to be homeowners.
A few months after moving in, we decided that we were officially going to announce our plans to adopt. We knew that we were called to adopt, we just didn't know when it would happen.
Six months after moving, we decided to visit the church where a friend had referred us to. We never would have thought that the first church we had visited after moving would be the one that God had planned for us to be at, but it was. We are now both members of Clemson UMC, and God constantly keeps showing us that He had His plans for us to be there.
In the past 2 years, it is amazing how much has changed, and how God keeps blessing us (even in the uncertainty over the years). And through it all, we continue to reach for the goal that God has called us to: Adoption. We know it will happen, we just don't know the exact moment of when our children will be with us, but we know it is coming.
So as you go about your day, I pray that you realize how blessed you are. It may just be small blessings, but they all add up to amazing big blessings.
There is a special art to being "Okay" or "Fine" when asked by another person.
And where this thought comes from is the women's retreat I went on this weekend. I have a great tendency to tell people "I'm fine" or "I'm okay", when really I'm stressed, angry, upset, or just plain tired. But I've kind of grown into the idea that I have to do this. Call it a defense mechanism, but for me, it is my armor against the world (which does include my family and friends sometimes). And I know that I'm not alone. There are millions of women that live with this "Fine" armor, telling everyone they are okay, when are actually the exact opposite on the inside.
I went to a women's retreat this past weekend, where we talked about this one session. And it got to me. I've been thinking about it a lot. Is this something that I want to teach my children? Do I want them to feel that they have to put on this act of perfection, when all they need to do is be present as they are?
And for the first time in a while, I'm breathing in a new idea. It is totally okay not to be fine 100% of the time. And I need to start being honest with my family, my friends, and my tribe. Today, I challenge you to do the same.
So our pastor at church for New Years service gave a wonderful message about the Power of Yet (actually, I think her actual sermon said it was the Magic of Yet... Same thing for the purposes of this post :-P). She said, no matter where you are, no matter what you have or haven't done, you can use the word yet to give you the hope you need to get there. And when you think about that, that is a really small but powerful word. "Yet" can go so many places. It can be used in the place of "but", or can be placed as the final word of a sentence before a period. It is almost as awesome as a comma or semi colon. It means you aren't finished; There is more to come. Let me repeat that: "Yet" means it isn't finished, that there is MORE to come! How inspiring, how hope-inducing is that? So I started saying it. And I started using it when I was asked about the adoption. It was a way to say, I know that we aren't where I want to be RIGHT NOW, YET we are getting there in the time frame it needs to be. We don't have all the money for the adoption yet. And it feels good to say it like that. It reminded me that we will get the money. It may take FOREVER (or at least feel like it). I may stress, and then stress Mike out, yet we will get there together. And it will be worth it. In whatever place you find yourself in, remember the power of yet. Find hope in the things yet to come, and start working on those things that you can. Cana
The whole point of the article is that just because a child is about to become an adult (i.e. turn 18), that doesn't mean that they don't need a parent still. Looking back at my own history, I don't know what I would have done without my mom & dad to help me out as I was learning what it meant to be an adult. I can only imagine what it would be like for teens that haven't had the most stable life.
It was so thought provoking, I sent it to Mike. And on the way home, we talked about it. We want to have a family, we want to help children, and we know what it means it would take to adopt an older child: It means going through DSS and doing a lot of hard work and potentially expensive renovations to qualify for adopting an older child.
BUT, we are considering what we need to do to help give a child, an older child, a chance to have someone to lean on once they turn 18.
With that being said, say a prayer as we continue to save/earn/raise the money and consider the ways we will grow our family. Cana
So I have spent the past 3.5 months doing nothing but crocheting. Cocoon Cardigans, beanies, slouch hats, messy bun beanies, Christmas ornaments, and a few other things.
My favorite project so far has been an infinity scarf for a little 3-year-old girl. Her mother and I had talked about what she might want, and we agreed that the little girl should pick out her yarn. On the Sunday when we did the yarn exchange, I measured her for the scarf and watched as she kept touch the yarn. She was so excited, but in some ways she had no idea what was coming. She only had a picture of what the yarn would look like when knit/crocheted. She didn't know what her scarf would look like, feel like, or how it would fit around her neck. She only knew she had to wait to get her scarf.
Less than a week later, it was Christmas Eve, the scarf was ready (with an extra surprise of a matching ear-warmer headband), and I had it in my lap as Mike & I waited to see the family of the little girl. When they came up, the little girl just stared at her scarf. She knew what it was, she had been dreaming about it probably the whole week with the way she looked at it. She was so excited that in the warm building she rushed to put on the scarf, and when people greeted her, she showed it off. She was so happy, so proud, so joyful at finally having her scarf.
Looking back, I see a lot of similarities between that little girl and I. We both had something that we had an idea about what it will be and we had a wait time. While the little girls was only a week (though for her it might have felt like millions of weeks), Mike & I are still waiting for our joyful moment just to start the adoption. And it will happen. We are just having to wait. And I know that when that moment comes, I will be just like that little girl. Excited, joyful, sharing with everyone who comes near me the joy that I am feeling that we finally can start the official paperwork and process.
So just remember in the waiting it might be hard, but there is joy ahead. Cana
Mike & I joined a church in December. And after Mike's baptism and us both joining the church, our pastor announced to the church that we are in the process of trying to adopt.
It was amazing the people who came to talk to us. Some had never even considered adoption, but wanted to support us. Someone came up to us and told us how she was adopted, and she loved hearing about others doing the same thing. And then there was the couple who came up and said that they too had adopted many years ago and that they understood what we are going through.
It is amazing the people that we meet that are interested in adoption, have been adopted, or have adopted a child. It helps to remind us that we are not the first ones to go down this path, and that we have an amazing support group.
So, why did I choose this verse for this post? Well, first off, the majority of the women I spend time with at church all love food and fellowship (yes, my circle group believes in the Power of the Potluck). But, for me, this also shows how a family trying to adopt should be received.
This particular verse is talking about the early Church, meeting in homes and having meals together. Sharing in a type of fellowship that sometimes seems to be far away in today's world of technology & altogether business. But for me, this shows me that sharing in a meal, sharing in a time together, sharing in an experience, all helps to build us up for the journey ahead. For us, this means the adoption we haven't even started yet. For others, this might be a child going away for college, the loss of a parent, difficulties at work. When we come together and share with each other our joys and our struggles, we are experiencing a type of fellowship we were called to.
So, as you go about your day, know that if you want to celebrate the Power of the Potluck, or just need someone to talk to, we are here for you. Cana
Last month was a hard month. Between seeing everyone excited to celebrate Christmas with their children, still being stuck at 1/4 mark of our adoption funds goal, me crocheting mindlessly to raise money for the adoption, and both of us going through our personal possessions to sell, it was just a hard month.
Oh, and to top the month off, for about a week, we thought I might have been pregnant.
But a negative pregnancy test and a week-late period later, we knew we weren't. And it hurt (and that is probably a HUGE understatement).
Now, don't misunderstand what was said... Even if we got pregnant, we are still going to adopt. We know we are called to adopt, and as soon as we get the funds, we will be starting the paperwork and hopefully be adopting our child/children. But when you are constantly praying for a miracle (whether biological or adopted), it is hard not to get excited when something makes you think that maybe God has finally answered your prayer.
And to be honest, I was so angry. I cried out to God asking what is so wrong with me that He is making us wait so long to grow our family? What have I done that my prayers go unanswered? It's not like I'm asking for Him to kill someone, or for the winning lottery ticket without playing the lottery.
I didn't get an answer. No giant sign fell from the sky, no Heavenly Host showed up to give me a gloriously light & sung message from God.
What I did find is that I love my husband beyond words. He rubbed and scratched my back, he bought me the cheap Walmart earrings I wanted, and reminded me that there is a plan for us (we just don't know all the plot points that will get us where we need to be yet).
And it was as I was writing this post that I remembered this verse (see photo at top of post). Granted, when Paul was writing this to the Romans, he was talking about persecution of Christians and the hope of Heaven. But I think this verse applies to every waiting family that is struggling with infertility and/or adoption. Because the struggle is real (cliche, I know); and the pain, heartache, and knowledge that we can't do this any faster doesn't help. BUT there is hope, there is joy, and there the faith to know that something that is an AMAZING, BEAUTIFUL MIRACLE is going to be ours. One day.
So in your struggles today, know that you aren't alone. I'm cheering you on with whatever you are struggling with. Know that there is hope and that there is joy waiting for you on the other side of your struggles.
So the picture above isn't exactly true in what I want to talk about today, but it definitely is the closest thing to describe it. It's the New Year. 2017. So much potential in the year. And I realized that for the past 6 months I have done nothing but focus on what I couldn't do because it would somehow effect the adoption. No vacations. No new clothes when I actually do need to replace several pairs of jeans due to worn-in holes. No going out on adventures. Mike and I have stayed home and done very little, spent very little over the past 6 months. And we still aren't at our goal. Now a few things have changed in our lives. We took in a friend that had no where to go, and he will be staying with us for the next few months. And we might get close to 50% of our goal in the next few months (fingers crossed and praying it is so), but I realized that we can't stop living our life just because we are trying to grow a family. We still have the chance to do things, experience things, have just as much fun without children as we can have with children, RIGHT NOW.
So instead of doing a resolution, I am doing a bucket list of sorts (Thanks to my friend J.G. for inspiring this idea). I'm still working on it. I'm still trying to figure out what I'll do each month. But I'll do something. And Mike might join me on some of it. The goal is to keep living, loving, and enjoying life as much as I can while I'm in the waiting.
So may your New Year be happy, bright, and help you grow. And if you want to join me on one of my bucket list things, let me know. I might need a partner in crime ;-) Cana