Shaken

It’s been about 2 weeks since I last blogged and there are a few reasons for that. As you likely experienced yourself, the summer is busy. Not just “To-Do List-Busy”, but “There’s-Only-So-Much-Summer-Left-Busy.”  Since June was pretty much entirely devoted to fundraising, we’ve been trying to make up for lost time with camping and day-trips.

But perhaps another reason is the celebration of our dear friends’ being chosen by a birth-mom, and bringing their baby home, only to lose her two short weeks later. The mother had changed her mind.

It doesn’t happen a lot, in spite of what you might have heard: About 1 in 20 cases, and usually a birth-mom changes her mind before the couple brings the baby home.

We are heartbroken for our friends. We were so thrilled for them and were so blessed to have met their baby girl. The news rattled us, to say the least. No one expected it. Everything leading up to that point seemed so God-ordained. The birth-family seemed so certain, so relieved to know this baby would have such amazing parents.

The past few weeks have led us through a lot of soul-searching. All of which makes our resolve to adopt ever-more sure.

As I’ve said before, one of the common platitudes we hear is, “It takes a special couple to adopt.”

But we are not special. We are not strong. We are not prepared for that kind of devastation. We are shaken and weakened just by this news of our friends.

We are fragile… but our God is mighty. 

We won’t withhold love from any baby… but we very well may have our hearts shattered.

We may face more than we can handle on our own… but we are never on our own to handle it. 

What we may experience through adoption is a mere shadow of the heartbreak our Father has over those who reject Him. Yet His heart can handle it, and He does not shut down. He can never grow weary of loving.

“How great is the love the Father is lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1)

And if WE have been adopted into God’s family, we feel ever-more burdened to adopt children into our own. But our ability to stand and move forward with determination has nothing to do with us and everything to do with Him. The God who loves us and will sustain us. The God who loves these children. 

So that no child will leave our home without being loved as our own and covered in prayer for the rest of their lives.

“We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

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Please pray for adoptive and foster families. They probably aren’t as strong as you think… we all need your prayers!

The Final Count / A New Song

I think back to where God has taken us since our struggle with infertility. I felt so broken them. And so weak for my inability to persevere with faith in God’s goodness. I knew He would give us a child one way or another eventually, but didn’t understand why He was making it so difficult. People would say things like “It will happen when you’re ready” and “God’s just preparing you to be an even better parent.”

It was crushing to hear those things actually.

When we finally got pregnant I was so excited. Yet, my heart was weighed down with guilt because it was at a time when my doubts were the greatest. I knew there were others struggling with infertility whose faith was much deeper than my own. Couples who were much more deserving and had been waiting even longer than we had.

For the first few months of my pregnancy, I wrestled with this, “Why did we have to wait so long? Why  did God answer our prayers when I was at my weakest? Was it because He gave up on me?

These answers have come since then:

Because God’s timing for our daughter’s life to begin was not all about ME. Much of our future in this world hinges on timing, and Elise’s birth has a purpose too.

Because Christians must endure hardship just like the rest of the world. How else can we be relevant to a hurting world that doesn’t know Jesus? It gives us an opportunity to stand by someone else when they face the same struggles and to remind them that God cares, even when the answer to our prayers seem so far off.

Because God wanted to teach me – who always wants to be perfect and please everyone – that I can’t earn His favor. He loves me just.as.I.am. While I was broken and worn out on faith, He stepped in and showed me Grace.

Let me repeat that: While I was BROKEN and WORN OUT on faith, HE stepped in and showed me GRACE.

And finally, because God was preparing us for our next child. We never would have considered adoption before because of the cost. But once we were met with so many obstacles to conceive, we began feeling God calling us to adopt. And ever since deciding to start the process, we have been overwhelmed with our growing, synchronized excitement for adopting our second baby.

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Our garage sale was these past three days, and I’ve been a little emotional, to say the least.

Friends and family running over to drop off baked goods before a vacation.

Strangers coming to the sale and just slipping us $10 and $20 bills without even giving us a chance to properly thank them.

So many people telling us to “keep the change.”

One woman even coming to share her story and introduce us to her newborn baby… that SHE just adopted.

Lots of encouragement from adoptive and foster parents as well as adoptees.

And so, so many donations of money, garage/bake sale items, and time.

On our own, we would have had our sale on our dirt road in the middle of nowhere. Instead, our father-in-law opened his house in town up to us for the community-wide garage sales in our home town.

On our own, we would have sold a few books, my pre-pregnancy clothes, and a some odds-and-ends home decorations that I don’t know how to decorate with. Instead, OVER 30 people donated items for us to sell.

On our own, I would have had to take a whole week of vacation time to prepare. And taken anti-anxiety medication. Because of a dear friend and our father in law, most everything was sorted and priced by the time I came to help set up on Wednesday.

On our own, we would have sold 3 types of cookies. Because of 12 different people, we had zucchini bread, apple pies, cinnamon rolls, cupcakes, muffins, dog treats, peanut brittle, and *drum roll please* 12.types.of.cookies!!!

On our own we would have been lucky to raise $200. But because of our family, friends, and community, we raised…

Are you sitting down?

Are your tissues ready?

Might as well forget tissues. Grab a sponge.

$5,079

Bringing our Adoption Fund up to $10,614.Fundraising Thermometer

God has taken us from brokenness to the most overwhelming joy and gratefulness. We thankful for our hardship, because it has put a “new song” in our hearts. These last 3 days we were met with gifts and encouragement every time we turned around. We have never felt more loved and can’t wait to share news of this baby with the many people who are helping us bring our next child home.

“I waited patiently for the Lord;

He turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;

He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth, an hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see and revere and put their trust in the Lord.

Many O Lord,  my God, are the wonders you have done.

The things you planned for us no one can recount to you.

Were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare…

I cannot conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly.”

Psalm 40:1-3, 5, 10

The Father’s Love

Six months or so ago, Tyler and I were driving and he was sharing about his coworkers and their experience adopting an 8 year old girl who has suffered many traumas in her short life. Understandably, she has many emotional and behavioral struggles that stem from broken promises, extorted trust, and constant changes of her environment and her caregivers. He talked about her story and some of the struggles they are having even now to break through her walls and show her that their love is unconditional and unchanging. That she is valued and cared for and all the tumultuous shifting and abuse she experienced before is now behind her. She is safe. She can heal.

But it’s not simple. For families adopting older children or fostering children with a “complicated” (to put it slightly) past, they are faced with a huge risk: To love without restraint, knowing full-well their hearts may be broken in the process — whether from a child who is distant and rebellious or from the state reunifying their foster child with neglectful or abusive parents.

Yet as Tyler told me this story, I could hear the emotion in his voice. Not emotion like my voice shows emotion. Good grief, I get choked up watching Top Chef. It was deep compassion and… conviction? I let his words sink in for a minute.

“Tyler, are you… are you feeling like someday you might want to foster? Or adopt from foster care?”

He sighed a heavy sigh. He’s the kind of person that wants his words to be sincere – not spoken out of fleeting emotion. I could tell this wasn’t the first time he had thought about it.

“Maybe? I don’t know… not right now, Elise is too young. But maybe someday, a ways on down the road.”

Tears (see what I mean?) welled up in my eyes. That God would lay this on his heart, even before mine was stunning to me. I am the emotional one. I am the one to announce my wild aspirations to him. I am the one that wants more than the standard 2.5 children. It was an emotion and a conviction that could only come from the Father.

Fast forward to 4 weeks ago. I was subbing in the church nursery and ended up working with a woman who is a foster care-giver. Her story is heartbreaking… and hope-filling at the same time. To love a child as they deserve to be loved — knowing full-well that you cannot dictate their future– that is a vulnerable thing to do. But she told me this week that this vulnerability is a glimpse of the Father’s love. God loves us… knowing His heart will be broken.

That struck me. All my insecurities and anxieties about our adoption… they are nothing when compared to the anguish God has experienced.

Our vulnerability right now is small compared to what it could be if we foster someday. But even with domestic adoption, there is still always a chance for a birthmom to have a “change of heart.” I am learning that when God calls us to walk through heartache, He offers us a deeper relationship with Him. Not because our wounds have earned it for us. Because He wants to use our pain to understand the pain He feels and the love that outweighs every heartache and makes every vulnerability worthwhile.

Talking about God’s love is one thing. We are quickly desensitized to repetitive anecdotes and Christian cliches.

Experiencing God’s love is quite another. To walk with someone that understands your grief is invaluable. And no matter the grief… God has felt it too. He is more than a support system. He is the Source of All Comfort and the Father of love.

We don’t know what is in store for our future. Maybe our family will grow as a seamless unit with no pain or loss or trauma. But regardless of God’s plans, He will open our hearts to love without caution, and will carry us through to heal whatever brokenness we may face.