Another Hot Date in the Books – “Lion”

Dinner and a movie. Might be “standard fare” for most, but for us it’s a hot date.

Go out? Hold hands in the dark? Only share our food if we want to? Not have to do dishes?

That’s the type of wild night I anticipated when we sat down in the movie theater.

I had no idea that “Lion” would leave me with hot, wet tears soaking my scarf like a baby bib. Why did Tyler do this to me??!!

I’m pretty sure I would have cried through it no matter what, but as adoptive parents, this true story did more than just tug at heart strings.

Unlike Disney orphans, “Lion’s” protagonist Saroo — an adorable and brave Indian boy who gets lost from his family at the age of five – does not have his “happily ever after” once he is adopted and given a good home with a loving family.

Because at the age of five, he was lost. He was alone and missing his family. He was terrified. Terrorized. Taken from place to place by people whose language he didn’t speak and whose intentions were unimaginably sickening.

Often we glorify adoption as this beautiful event where a child magically finds their forever-family and lives happily ever after. It makes for a great feel-good Hollywood storyline.

But in a perfect world… children wouldn’t need to be adopted. No child would be lost, unwanted, unaffordable… On the contrary, each child would know their value and their belonging and never question the love of his or her parents. Never wonder if his or her parents are also grieving their separation.

Adoption comes because of heartbreak.

And the grown Saroo made it through most of his life showing no signs of trauma, his world was jolted when his college friends probed about his childhood and family of origin. The pain he’d suppressed broke through and his fresh experience of loss compelled him to search for them. This began a downward spiral of obsession and isolation as he (quite literally) navigated his past in hopes of reunion.

His depression is crushing to his adoptive mother, who doesn’t know why he has pushed everyone away. But I held back sobs when [spoiler alert], in a deeply emotional scene, the grown Saroo tells his mother, “I’m sorry you couldn’t have your own children. I’m sorry we aren’t blank pages for you.” To which she replies, “We could have had children, but we wanted you. We chose you.”

I’ve said it before, but it becomes real to me the more and more: children are worth our heartbreak.

Any of our children could be traumatized at any day, and we would urgently get help and seek restoration. Sure, it’s much less likely that they’d be traumatized here in the U.S., versus in India where 80,000 children are lost from their parents , 11 million children live on the streets, and countless are forced into prostitution. And it feels different to sign up to bear such a heavy load — parenting a child who has undoubtedly experienced trauma.  Adoption – especially of an older child is not for the faint of heart, right?

But tell me, then who is really strong enough to carry a child’s heavy burden? To persevere with a child who has emotional scars that cannot be erased? To openly offer support to a child needing answers or resolution with their family of origin?

Very few I think.

I know I’m not that strong. Not on my own.

But I know a God who IS. Who can take every ounce of rage and grief and despair and offer Hope and Peace and Strength and Love.  Who gives value to our past by redeeming it with our future.

And who implores us to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2). Not just cheer each other on. But to help take some of the weight of another’s crushing load.

Friends, could you choose heartbreak, for the sake of a child? Could you choose to have your family’s life trajectory disrupted so that a child’s life trajectory could have hope of restoration?

Maybe it’s through adoption or foster care. Or maybe through child sponsorship or supporting overseas orphanages or even just supporting another adoptive or foster family.

I highly recommend the movie “Lion” (though there is non-graphic, but mature thematic material implied). It’s a true story, and it feels incredibly vulnerable and genuine and eye-opening. And though it’s a tough story, it does have a good ending. If you are considering international adoption, it’s a must-see.

Though maybe from the privacy of your own living room where your tears can shamelessly soak through a box of tissues.

Just don’t expect it to kindle any flames of romance. At least not in the typical sense of the phrase.

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This Season

Oh, is it October already? This beautiful two-week window of mid-October in Michigan is one of my favorite times of the year.100_7870

The bright, speckled palette of trees that frame wide-open fields of corn, wheat, and soybeans….

The cool breeze that gently washes you with the smells of burning leaves or imminent precipitation…

The warmth of a cozy couch cushion, a warm mug of mulled cider, and the lull of the voices of sportscasters on the TV– all tugging you into the nap you’ve been putting off for months.  100_7873

Mmmm… I love it.

I’ve been teaching Elise the importance of stomping on leaves when walking in the Fall. She’s caught on quite well.

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Today we played in the giant pile of leaves Tyler raked for her. She picked a “special” red one and sang “Twinkle, Twinkle” to it as she twirled the stem in her fingers while I pushed her in her swing.

elise leaf

These days are the best.

And then the day comes to a close.

I told you we are in the process of potty-training, right?

Ya know, for all the time our newborn classes spent talking about diaper contents, this was one they never warned us about. I suppose it surpassed the scope of the class.

“Go potty!” Elise demanded tonight.

“Ok, lets go,” I replied, hoping this meant a nice, dry Pull-up.

As she took my hand to head for the bathroom, she looked up at me and matter-of-factly told me, “Ahweeve in there. Ahweeve. Ahweeve in there.” She nodded at me like I needed to agree with her.

I chuckled at her toddler antics and smiled and nodded, “Yep, sure. Elise in there.”

But when I went to help her onto the potty, I gasped and gagged when brown flakes that had been caked to her skin flew out of her diaper.

And onto the floor.

And her clothes.

And me.

Blehhhhh….

Heave….

Someone please grab me the Anti-bacterial wipes.

And a trash bag.

And gloves.

I was not prepared for this. Why must potty training be so gross?!

“Ahweeve on my bootie!” Elise exclaimed.

And I fell over laughing.

Apparently Elise had spent a good part of the night with a leaf in her diaper.

And besides the leaf, she actually was dry. Hooray!

Yes…. these are the best days. Even though we’re waiting and impatient to be chosen for a baby, we are in such a fun season of life right now. And much like Fall, time passes faster than we can imagine.

Enjoy these last few days of beauty, friends. And don’t play too hard in those leaves. ❤  Just a little tip from Elise.

Baby Beluga

You’ve all been great about patiently waiting with us on this journey thus far. “Have you heard anything?” and “When are you getting your baby?” are common questions I hear each week. Your excitement with us is encouraging… I thought the frequent questions would make me feel defeated, but it actually reminds me that this whole thing is real. In the drudgery of waiting and the busyness of life, I’ve found myself forgetting that there will.be.a.baby.

A REAL baby.

That is OURS.

I do feel a little discouraged. Almost five months with only 3 opportunities and 30+ waiting families we are technically “competing” with… I’m not great at statistics, but the probability sure doesn’t seem great.

But what I’ve learned from our whole experience of building a family is that God’s purposes extend beyond my personal happiness and desires. That He has just the RIGHT baby for us, and we “just haven’t met you yet” as Michael Buble so wonderfully puts it.

Did I ever tell you how I touched his hand?

It’s on video. I can prove it. But I think only if you’re friends with my mom or me on facebook:

Wait, except my face isn’t in it, just my hand…

Oh, but I guess these Go-Go Gadget “piano fingers” (that actually were never any good at playing piano) are pretty unique. And those wrinkly knuckles. Why do I have such wrinkly knuckles?

Promise you folks, that’s really my hand. Fo’ real.

Anyway, where was I going with this? Oh yeah…

As discouraging as it is sometimes, we know that sometimes God takes us down what seem like single-lane, meandering, dead-end roads to lead us to spectacular sights.

So thank you all for your encouragement and excitement, even if you get multiple responses of “Nope, no news.” Don’t give up on us!

And don’t worry about us either. Though the adoption stuff seems like it’s not going anywhere right now, Elise is keeping us plenty busy with potty training.

I never thought I would want to keep changing diapers. But honestly, sometimes it’s just so much easier.

Good thing her high-pitched little “woohoo’s!!” and precious little fist pumps make the hassle entertaining.

Oh, and speaking of entertaining, did I mention what Elise would like to name the baby?

Baby Beluga.

We’re really into Raffi around here.

I told her maybe that can be the baby’s middle name.

 

It’s About People

I don’t usually like posting political opinions on social media. I don’t think a witty meme or an impassioned Facebook rant is likely to change any hearts when it comes to highly controversial issues. Such issues are controversial because people’s feelings run deep. It is generally not in our nature to change our minds about something so deep-seated in our hearts. We need a deeper conviction than memes and quotes –  and even radically repulsive media  – can ever inspire.

And I am no exception.

My concern for women’s value and women’s availability to material and financial assistance is what led me to audit seminary classes for women’s ministry and choose an internship with a pregnancy resource center. In many ways, I would consider myself a feminist. One of my greatest passions is to help other women push through insecurity or adversity and succeed in life – whether at home or at work. I really can’t imagine my passion shifting in such a radical way as to deny my support of organizations that do so much good for these women and their families.

The issue of abortion polarizes people into two basic categories: 1) Those that are passionate about caring for women and 2) Those that are passionate about caring about the unborn. Reasoning that “life begins at conception” and women who’ve had abortions are “murderers” will not change individuals in the first party who truly believe their cause is out of compassion. For one, it is nearly impossible to convince people that a microscopic ball of cells, unrecognizable as human could really be a human life. And attacking a stranger’s character will never result in a heart that is open to counter-opinions.

Reasoning with a pro-lifer that a fetus is still a part of a woman’s body is pointless also. The belief that life begins at conception is rooted too deeply in their worldview.

I wish I had answers that could satisfy both parties. But I can only ask you to hear my heart on this topic, as it is one that so greatly influences my life:

After 3 years of infertility – 3 years of hoping and praying and silently breaking-down while others complained about unexpected pregnancies – my husband and I finally heard our daughter’s heartbeat on an ultrasound. Only 3 weeks after conception.

I can see how people who do not believe in the Bible could deny that life begins at conception. Life is a mysterious and amazing miracle – no matter if the life was planned and hoped for or a startling compilcation. It’s hard to understand how that such a tiny, unrecognizable shape could be human. But I do not see how anyone can deny that my daughter’s heartbeat confirmed she was life at 3 weeks post-ovulation.

To put that timeline in perspective: The earliest a woman can even know she is pregnant is 2 weeks past ovulation. Most (who aren’t crazy-lunatic-Infertiles) wait to even take a test until their period is 1 week late. By then their fetus – their baby – already has a rapidly beating heart. But as a society we don’t really educate people on that. I only knew this because of getting such early appointments while under the care of a fertility specialist.

Another issue that weighs heavily in my distrust of having the government’s hand in abortion-funding: isn’t it considerably cheaper to support the termination of a pregnancy than to tack on years of financial assistance to mothers and children living on low incomes? Seems like a bit of a conflict of interest. And what do pro-lifers really have to gain from being pro-life? Self-righteousness I suppose?? I’m not sure…

And I wonder… why does an unplanned pregnancy have to be such a burden? Why are we still afraid for our jobs, our chances of advancement, our community support, and our access to healthcare and childcare? Gender equality has come a long way, but once you throw a pregnancy in the mix, we start to feel more than a little insecure. Add in hormones and the worry about the above-mentioned items makes a pregnant women suddenly feel like a whale walking a tight-rope with no safety net. Working women are an asset. Working Mothers are a burden and a risk. I’ll be honest… I even felt that way after years of pining for pregnancy. Perhaps I am swinging liberal here, but I would gladly sacrifice higher taxes to connect families with sufficient resources than funding voluntary-population control.

(And honestly, I think finding good, affordable childcare is the greatest challenge. If moms could get affordable childcare so that they could still work even part-time, it seems like this would be worthwhile for all parties. But then, I’m not economist, so I really can’t speak to the viability of this suggestion)

Finally, as we sit around waiting to be chosen to adopt a child, my heart breaks at the amazing chances a child now has to be adopted by people who would do anything to be parents. And after years of dreaming and hoping a child, they are people who will be incredible parents too. There are not orphanages in the U.S. like there are in China. Infants are not waiting for parents. Parents are waiting for children. And not even just perfectly healthy children. Just any child to whom then can proudly give their name and their love.

(* To clarify, I am speaking of infants whose parents have chosen adoption. They are not typically waiting to be adopted. However, there are numerous children in the foster care system or have become “wards of the state.” That’s a different beast and one that also deserves attention, but I’ll save that for another time.)

Anyway… I don’t expect to have changed any minds with my ardent defense for both children and women. I loved volunteering with the pregnancy resource centers and was inspired by the warmth and compassion and generosity they showed every woman that passed through their doors or dialed their number. I think serving those women is probably the most influential movement one can take.

Because it’s not about winning or about being right. It’s about caring for people.

 

 

The Journey

Parenting has so many victories and so many failures. No matter your confidence in your creativity and effort, don’t celebrate your win before the game’s over.

Exhibit A:  Elise has been hitting and throwing toys at Daycare – typical toddler stuff they tell me, but I don’t like it. I don’t see her in the mornings before I go to work, so I started leaving her notes/illustrations to be a “nice bunny.”

Monday:

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It worked! Monday she had a good day!

Tuesday:

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Another great day. I’m so glad I’m such a good parent! This was a win for sure. 

Wednesday:

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Terrible day… “What happened?” I asked her when we got home. “Didn’t you see the note I left you? To be a nice bunny?” 

“Bunny hit!” she says as she slaps the stick-note.

Apparently Elise is not familiar with the side-hug.

*sigh*

Thursday:

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A better day, but still a bit of attitude.

Friday: 

“Elise, if you’re a nice bunny at Daycare, I will take you to the library.”

Books are her favorite thing.

Aaand… Success! She was a very nice bunny on Friday. So after Daycare, we quick grabbed some blueberries (her favorite snack) from the store before heading to the library.

As I pull in, I notice a small handful of cars. It looks like we will have most of the library to ourselves. The benefit to living in such a small town. We walk hand-in-hand up the sidewalk to the giant glass doors and hear a loud “Click” as soon as I reach for the handle.

“Boom!!!” Elise mimics with a bunny-hop for emphasis.

Hours: Friday 10-5

We were too late. My heart sinks. I try to rack my brain for where else one could find books in this little town. The Hallmark? I guess that will work.

We enter the Hallmark and immediately run into our next-door-neighbor who works there. She was on her way out, but we chat for a minute and she ooo’s and ahhh’s over how big Elise is getting.

Next we scan the stickers. Then the baby items. Then the greeting cards. As we go, Elise keeps snagging items and is not happy about having to put them back. This is too overwhelming… I just need a book!

We find some Frozen paraphernalia and I contemplate settling on a Frozen book, when I finally spot the kid’s corner. We neatly return the Frozen stuff to it’s shelves and I grab Elise’s hand to drag her over to the book selection. I’m getting antsy to leave this place.

She’s not keeping pace, and when I look back to encourage some hustle-in-her-bustle, I notice she is carrying a green ceramic vase that’s half her size. In one hand.

I try to squelch my shriek of shock. All my neighbor’s coworkers have been fussing over us from the moment we walked in. I pray no one is watching me return the vase to it’s proper place on the lower-shelf of the display.

(A lower shelf? Seriously, who puts a vase on a lower shelf???)

My ever-growing urgency calls me to settle on some Mickey Mouse stickers rather than flip through books. Rewards for good behavior. Excellent. 

And the moral of the story is that there are no wins in parenting. As soon as you think you’ve figured something out, you get complacent. Parenting isn’t a game at all. It’s a journey. And you can’t assume you’re leading your kid in the right direction just because you’re leading the way. If you’re so focused on your destination that you’re dragging them with you, or you think your past success means you don’t need to check on them, you may be shocked to discover what they’ve picked up along the way.

So despite our busy-ness and our agendas, we have to walk alongside our children.

And sometimes literally. Please, someone remind me of this the next time I am in a Hallmark store.

 

The Other Mothers

Mother’s day can be such a hard day for so many. On such a day, remember to honor the women in your life who may not have children to recognize them on this day…

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The Mother that held her child as they passed from this life.

The Mother that lost her baby in her womb – well before she could even hold them in her arms.

The Mother who is scarred by a decision she made to end her pregnancy.

The Mother who chose another family to be her child’s parents.

The Mother that is still waiting to meet her child – whether separated by oceans or infertility.

The Mother who doesn’t know where her child is right now and is scared to think of it.

The Mother whose baby is in the NICU – wrapped in cords, instead of in her arms.

The Mother who has opened her heart to foster children, and endured the anguish of their indefinite return to a previously abusive home.

 

I hope you are recognized and honored today, dear Mothers – because it’s not a card or flowers or any other recognition that makes you a good Mother. It is your deep, deep love for your children. Love that likely seems invisible to most on a daily basis, but which weighs heavily in your heart and soul each and every day.  May it be their lives – and not their loss – that carries through the good days and the bad. ❤  After all, more than anything, what you really want is for your babies to be remembered and cherished – both the ones you are waiting to hold and the ones whom you’ve already had to let go.

Through our struggle with infertility, the scripture below is what carried me through. It is the outpouring of a man crushed with grief and doubting God’s goodness and faithfulness. Expressing how every day feels like a thick fog clouds his mind. How the pain is so deep, it feels like physical suffering. How hope seems impossible.

But hope is never impossible. God is keeping your babies in His arms, so that one day you will be united. Until then, seek the Lord. Go to Him with your grief. You still have a purpose for being here in this life and your children are counting on you to make your pain count for something.

Lamentations 2:16-26

16 {God} has broken my teeth with gravel;
he has trampled me in the dust.
17 I have been deprived of peace;
I have forgotten what prosperity is.
18 So I say, “My splendor is gone
and all that I had hoped from the Lord.”

19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,

the bitterness and the gall.

20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.

Raffle Rebel

So apparently I have been getting “cease and desist” emails from youcaring.com for doing a raffle with our donations. Only, I set the site up with my “junkmail” email address, so I wasn’t getting them. Then yesterday, I noticed that our account was suddenly deactivated, and when I tried to make it active, it wouldn’t even let me.

It looked like it would let me… the box was white and empty, not ghosted out like there was a problem.

Frustrated, I tried refreshing the page.cease-and-desist-stamp

Nothing.

So I tried it again.

Nope.

And again.

And 7 more times.

All the while, muttering unintelligible sighs and groans of sadistic intentions for my computer.

Poor Tyler…

Tyler: What’s wrong?

Me: (squinting angrily at the computer and click-clicking away) Oh, our account is deactivated again and I… mmm arrrrghhhhh whaaa??? Ughhhh!!!!!

Tyler: Why is it deactivated?

Me: Um, I don’t… grrrrrr, REALLY???? C’mon…

And so on and so forth.

Finally, I thought maybe I need to use firefox. Except I wasn’t logged in on firefox and couldn’t seem to remember my password. So I clicked the “password reset” button and that’s when I noticed that the email associated with our account is my junk-mail account.

Oops.

That’s when I noticed youcaring had sent me 4 emails already. Very kind emails, I must say. But emails requiring me to edit out the “raffle” part of my Fundraising Information. Thankfully, as soon as I edited that and emailed them, they re-activated our account.

Anyway, all that is to say: you can still donate for the raffle. Just view the prizes on my “Enter the Raffle” page here on the blog, click the “Donate to Cheyenne and Tyler’s Adoption” button on the top Right sidebar or the very bottom if you are on a mobile device. Then you can still leave a comment with your donation or message me your prize choice on our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CheyenneandTylersAdoption or through my personal facebook. Or if you know me, just let me know.

Sorry for making things so complicated. I had thought the raffle would be a fun way of showing our appreciation to people for donating, but it seems like we keep running into obstacles with it: people have been confused about how it works, we were asked not to post about it at work, and now this thing with youcaring…

Though my degree is for Non-profit work, let’s just say I’m not going to be any kind of Fundraising Manager anytime soon. Or, ya know… ever.

P.S.  4 more days to Approval!!!